Welcome to Insta Crush, a column on Autostraddle dot com where every other week we feature a queer Instagram account we love. I strongly believe that the way we all connect on Instagram is forging and fostering community in new and interesting ways, and I want to highlight the people contributing to that endeavor. Much like Instagram itself, these interviews are a little slice of queer life.
Today’s Insta Crush is WMN Zine, which combines some of my favorite things into one project: support for dykes outside of city centers, lesbian herstory, and DIY zine making! This is truly a project that speaks to me deeply, and I feel so excited to see what happens when it starts to take shape. WMN Zine is a collaborative zine highlighting lesbians who do not live in major cities and the art they create. The collective is currently working on the first issue, and deadline to submit is THURSDAY, AUGUST 15. Not to stress anyone out, but that’s this Thursday!!!
Not sure if you’re the right fit to submit to this venture? Read on for an interview with the founders and find out more!
Tell me about WMN zine. What is your origin story?
WMN Zine is a lesbian publication based in NYC that gives visibility to dykes and their art. Sara posted an ad to the @_personals_ IG in their newspaper looking for a date, which Florencia saw while DJ-ing at the @_personals_ party last July, and sent Sara’s profile to Jeanette. After several months of dating, Jeanette and Sara asked Florencia if she’d like to join the zine – bringing together perspectives and backgrounds from Europe, Latin America, and the US, and graphic design and photography skills, respectively.
Who are the people running this project? Please introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about who you are and why you wanted to create this zine.
Coming together from the Venezuela, Sweden, and the US, the dyke founders of the zine: Florencia Alvarado, Photographer and Designer, Jeanette Spicer, Photographer, and Sara Duell, Designer had individually come to identify themselves as lesbian in different ways and at various times, but found commonality in our love for women, and interest in art and representation of marginalized communities.
When thinking of our own identification, we realized that the term lesbian was in ways a signifier of the past, and could even be considered radical, when used today. This awareness sparked our inspiration and desire to gather and share work of other people identifying as lesbian, in order to create a conversation around different terms of identification, and how and why we use them. This zine is meant to provide a much needed space to show the intimacy, struggle, wonder and everything in between, of what it means to be a lesbian, especially in this political climate and time.
What does the word lesbian mean to you?
Florencia: Not an easy question to answer but it feels like I’m free and adult to embrace this word with so much pride and joy. Based on the difference, the historical struggle. It means embracing visibility with joy. And practice with freedom.
Jeanette: A grateful nod to the lesbians before me, who fought to give this word the beauty, strength and visibility that it does. I feel proud to own it and say it, every day.
Sara: I had a hard time coming around to the term lesbian, as I felt like it was too specific in a world where I was encouraged to be fluid and abstract. However defining myself as queer never felt quite right. As I let go of my feelings of not living up to other’s expectations around my identify, I saw what freedom was associated with the specifity of the term lesbian.
Who is allowed and encouraged to apply to this zine?
Anyone who identifies as lesbian and a dyke who are living in cities with a population not exceeding 800,000, and rural areas of the United States, to focus specifically on areas of the US that have lower representation in the LGBTQ community.
You have said that your goal for the zine is to give visibility to lesbians living in more rural spaces and smaller cities. Why is that mission important to you?
Typically we see a lot of coverage about lesbians coming from major cities, not only in the US, but across the world. We are putting our effort, time and energy towards areas that are not as noticed, and that also have less access to publications, or opportunities to show their art.
Your theme for the first issue is Seasons of a Dyke. Talk to me about what you’re looking for with that theme.
Seasons of a Dyke is meant to be broad, but should contain artistic representation of any of the following: time, aging, changing, seasons themselves, contrast, trends, transitions, seasons as a metaphor, seasonal depression, nature, and bodies changing. We are interested in the way that the definition of lesbian [is] shifting from the women’s lib movement era to now, and opening up a conversation for topics around identity – as [that] can be synonymous with changing seasons.
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Twilight Lovers from the series Stories for Girls © Tina Fiveash 1994 * * * “Inspired by girl's annuals and the Australian Women's Weekly magazine from the 1950s, Stories for Girls is a tongue-in-cheek attempt to recreate missing lesbian photographic history from an era where homosexuality was a criminal offence, and lesbians were forced to remain in the closet and keep their relationships hidden from society" tinafiveash.com * * * #tinafiveash #lesbian #dyke #lesbianphotogrpaher #storiesforgirls #twilightlovers #90sdyke
What are some of your hopes and dreams for the future of WMZ zine?
We are going to be creating more issues that push our concerns around lesbian artistic visibility, and representation, with ever shifting themes and geographical locations. While it is important that we maintain a DIY/homemade approach to keep the zine affordable and accessible, the zine will be a well crafted, curated, innovative, object. With our desire to continue in our foremother’s footsepts to support our lesbian community, the zine’s physicality is used as an access point to reach other audiences, that it otherwise may not, due to social media algorythms. By pushing thoughtful and multifaceted concepts within the themes of the issues, we will not only highlight lesbians, and our lives, but also our vast artistic skill-sets.
Who is your favorite historical dyke?
Florencia: Chavela Vargas, Susan Sontag.
Jeanette: Adrienne Rich.
Sara: Tove Jansson (author of the Moomin books), Audre Lorde.
Tell me some of your favorite Instagram accounts?
Some accounts that we like are: @dykeblanchett; @notallgeminis; @dykeanotherday; @everylesbianandtheirfashion; @godimsuchadyke; @queerappalachia; @countryqueers; @xenaworrierprincess; @lesbianherstoryarchives.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with Autostraddle readers that I haven’t asked?
We would like Autostraddle readers to reach out to us with any tips regarding marginalized groups, and themes within those groups, that we should highlight for upcoming issues. We welcome any insight and information that can help us support our lesbian community and reach larger audiences!
If you have a suggestion about which Instagram account we should feature next on Insta Crush, leave a comment here or DM me at vanessatakesphotos.