Sir\Ma’am, A Southern Queer Zine
Ed. Stiles, Kayden Althen, and Joey Gidseg
Issue 1, Fall 2011, 96 pg. at 6x7”
Issue 2, Spring 2012, 100 pg. at 7x7”, $8 from the editors
I love, ardently and committedly, the aesthetic of zines. But, y’know, sometimes it’s nice to hold a l’il thing in your hands that is just so beautiful and slicky and such a delight for the eyes. Sir\Ma’am is such a thing. A collection of “sketches, paintings, drawings, collages, photography, 3D art. Anything that expresses who you are as a queer person living in the South”, Sir\Ma’am is based in Austin, TX, which seems to be a good contender for the South’s queerest city.
Both issues of the zine consist mainly of interviews with queer and gender variant Southerners of many stripes. The interviews are thoughtful and interesting and stand confidently on their own merits, but are also accompanied by artful black-and-white photos of the interviewees.
Many of the interviewees are photographed— beautifully, and tastefully— in the nude. It’s a trope I’m curious about and have noticed cropping up a lot with writing by and about trans folks. It is certainly the case that when someone is writing about being trans, their topic is, among other things, their own complicated and contentious body. I guess all memoirs are about bodies, ultimately, but ultimately, some bodies are more controversial than others, and those are the ones that are visually brought to the fore.
I feel a tension there between a respectful admiration of handsome gender-variant bodies, and an element of prurient novelty. I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder and the intentions of the photographer and photographee. However, it’s something I’ve noticed and wondered about lately, and if anyone has any opinions on this either way, I’d be very interested to read ‘em.
I appreciated that not all— actually, a lot— of the contributors aren’t white, and that interviewees also talked about their genders in relation to topics like sex work, immigration, and religion. Basically, they’re all people with lots of interesting things to say, and not solely on the topic of gender.
All in all, this zine is a total class act. It’s beautiful, and it satisfies one of my favourite things about zines— the glimpse they give into the ordinary lives of others, and in particular people whose experiences aren’t well-represented in pop culture at large. I’m hoping for a third issue of Sir\Ma’am.
- Lily Pepper