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Queer Zine Archive Project

qzap.jpg by Jennifer Wilson

“Where’s all this going to go when none of us are here to make it available or share it with people?” is a question that Chris Wilde asked himself years ago when he realized that many queer zines were ending up in people’s private collections. “Instead of work being passively collected, why not preserve the work and make it accessible?” This seed of an idea has grown into the Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP), brainchild of Wilde and his partner, Milo Miller. I spoke with the enthusiastic, punk-haired pair at QZAP headquarters, also the living room of their Riverwest flat. While we talked, a volunteer quietly scanned zines, turning print into code. These electronic copies of printed publications will be systematically entered into a free, searchable, web-based archive of work that is either authored by queer-identified zinesters (people who create zines) or have queer-related topics and issues as their primary content. While there isn’t a simple, agreed-upon answer to the question, “What is a zine?”, for the purposes of QZAP, Wilde and Miller characterize zines as printed works that are independently self-published in small print runs on a low budget. They range from multi-page booklets to single page flyers. “Queer” is also difficult to define. “If someone identifies themselves as queer, that’s good enough for me. We will err on the side of inclusiveness, not exclusivity,” Miller says emphatically. Their partnership began in 2000 when they met at a radical queer conference in San Francisco. They discovered they shared a passion for zines and a commitment to expanding people’s access to publications that they believe are culturally important contributions to the queer community. According to www.qzap.org, the project’s mission is to establish a “living history” archive of past and present queer zines and to encourage current and emerging zine publishers to continue to create. Zines provide a forum for controversial and dissonant voices and can “provide an alternative viewpoint for people who are in the process of coming out or exploring issues about sexuality. They can see what people outside of the mainstream have written about in terms of their experiences or notions about the queer experience,” Wilde says. Miller adds, “This is about us not dropping the ball” in terms of continuing the legacy of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender activists. “There’s a whole history that has been written and printed, and it’s just a question of finding it and making it available.” They use Owl OpenSource software to index the archives. Volunteer programmer Quinn Madson notes that the server is generously provided by Node Coffee Shop, 1504 E. North Ave. Miller and Wilde are proud that QZAP is based in Riverwest and are always thinking of ways to share their expertise and resources with the community. Their dream is to someday have a physical space for a reading room filled with zines from the archive, operate a resource center for zine publishers, and provide free web and computer access for people who would otherwise fall into the “digital divide.” There are plenty of opportunities for anyone wishing to support QZAP. “We’re always looking for help!” Wilde says. Volunteers can assist with scanning zines or reading and summarizing zine content in order to facilitate the archiving process. Donations are also welcome, particularly duplicating and web-hosting services. You can browse the archive at www.qzap.org. To contact Miller and Wilde, please e-mail .
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