Come out. Be aware. Make zines.
The Queer Resource Center is helping PSU celebrate National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 with a celebration rally in the Park Blocks. The celebration is being held in conjunction with the school’s Portland State of Mind campaign and the unveiling of the 2012 Outlist, a list of staff and students who identify as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trangender) or as allies of the LGBT community.
Founded in 1988 by psychologist and author Robert Eichberg, National Coming Out Day marks the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Gay Rights that was attended by over 500,000 people, according to Human Rights Campaign.
“To this day, National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBT individuals to live truthfully and openly,” according to HRC’s website.
NCOD started in 1988 as an effort to raise awareness about the HIV and AIDS epidemic, according to QRC Coordinator Cathlene McGraw.
“There was a lot of stigma around AIDS. There was research that said if people knew more than two queer people that they were less likely to be homophobic,” McGraw said. “It was a movement that started around being celebrative of having a queer identity.”
NCOD events are held all over the world, but PSU’s celebration features a new avenue for expression—a zine workshop, which was organized by the QRC’s Amira Caluya. Zines are small, independently produced, DIY publications that can cover any topic or genre—across arts, culture, social issues, media, entertainment and much more.
Creating a workshop specifically for zines relating to queer issues gives students who have not found an avenue of self-expression the voice necessary to get their ideas out there and into the hands of readers.
“My vision for starting these workshops is to get folks to actually start making zines for the QRC,” Caluya said. “I think that self-publishing definitely provides the best platform for being able to put out voices or make voices or develop voices from a queer perspective.”
Caluya is a member of the Moonrot collective, a national organization of zinesters devoted to broadening the voices of queer, genderqueer and transgender individuals of Asian descent. She coedited Crosshairs, a zine cosponsored by Asian-Pacific Islander Pride. According to Caluya, the zine was created to promote visibility and share the experience of being a queer person of color in Portland.
Caluya tabled at the Portland Zine Symposium—an annual showcase for local zine authors to display and distribute their works—for the first time last year, a new experience in further broadening her voice. The symposium’s mission is to promote greater community between diverse creators of independent publications and art, according to its website.
“One of the best parts about doing a zine is that it’s a very working-class-friendly thing to do,” Caluya said. “Anyone who can press the button on a copy machine can be a zinester. It can be very simple, it can be very elaborate.”
Zines are just another way to convey messages within smaller communities with a DIY approach. Through the zine workshop, the QRC is encouraging the LGBT community to let themselves be heard and to understand that, no matter the medium or outlet, independent artistic projects can lead to a new understanding of queer culture.
Inspired by a zine library at the University of Oregon, Caluya aims to get something similar started at PSU. To start, Caluya hopes to gather various zines relating to queer culture, but ultimately sees it as something that could eventually cover broad topics and become an all-inclusive zine library for the PSU student body.
Though making zines in the popular “cut and paste” fashion can seem daunting and tedious, Caluya feels that beginning zinesters can learn a lot about themselves from the process.
“Making a zine is an exercise in self-determination,” Caluya said.