ROCQY asks rural queer youth to contribute their voices for a zine

RURAL ONTARIO – The Rural Ontario Community of Queer Youth (ROCQY) is creating a zine to share rural LGBTQ2S+ voices. Although fanzines, later shortened to zines (pronounced zeens), emerged as early as the 1930s among science fiction fans, some people are still new to the concept.

Zines have roots in the informal, underground publications that focused on social and political activism in the ’60s. By the ’70s, zines were popular on the punk rock circuit.

“We wanted to create a zine to share voices of rural queer youth across the province,” said Mabe Kyle, co-founder of ROCQY. “We thought the zine would be a great way to do this just because it is easily self-published, shareable, and people can create whatever they want to be in it.”

They are looking for submissions of artwork, crafts, poetry, writing, collages, photography, and anything else creative that people feel fits the four themes – future, love, community, and resilience. Contributors are asked to limit themselves to one submission per theme.

“I just want to have people understand what these themes mean from rural queer youth,” said Kyle. “I think it’s different from other urban queer youth, and so I just want to have this unique chance to share what these things mean from their own identity specifically.”

ROCQY is a provincial collective with participating members from rural southern Ontario to Kenora.

The idea for the group came out of a research participation project for queer youth who have accessed mental health resources during the pandemic. They discussed their experiences and what improvements can remove barriers to resources.

“One of the main barriers that we came across was the theme of rural access and how to create better access to resources for rural queer youth,” said Kyle. “So, I was part of that, and the idea that we had come up with was ROCQY.”

After the research participation project was finished, some participants realized ROCQY was an idea worth pursuing, so they opened it up to a call for volunteers across the province.

“We’ve got some volunteers who have been very dedicated and supportive of the project, and we secured a small grant of $1500,” they said. “January is when we started doing this group.”

For Kyle, the motivation to start ROCQY was that they lived on a farm in Brant County most of their life except when they lived in Toronto for their undergrad studies.

“I was always told this narrative as a youth, basically it gets better when you can move to the city and be your queer-self there, but I want to change this narrative,” they said. “I want queer youth to be accepted now in their home communities, and I want them to have the space to share. I think there is queer youth in every community across Ontario, so if we pool our resources together as rural communities, we can create something to have spaces (for them).”

Submissions can be sent as a message on Facebook or Instagram or by emailing rocqyteam@gmail.com. The deadline to submit is March 31st

When the zine is completed, a digital copy will be free to the public, and a hard copy will be mailed to the participants.

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