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Youth group's new zine showcases 2SLGBTQ+ talent in rural Ontario

When Mabe Kyle was in their teens, they didn’t think that 2SLGBTQ+ people existed in rural Ontario, but years later, the youth group that Kyle co-founded has released a zine showing that queer folks can be found in all corners of the province.

Contributors range from ages 12 to 29 years old

Art by Kit Thomas that appears in the new zine, "Queer Country Crossroads." (Submitted by Rural Ontario Community of Queer Youth)

When Mabe Kyle was in their teens, they didn't think that 2SLGBTQ+ people existed in rural Ontario, but years later, the youth group that Kyle co-founded has released a zine showing that queer people can be found in all corners of the province.   

"I think it's important because it's an identity that's often erased," said Kyle, who helped start Rural Ontario Community of Queer Youth (ROCQY) last year, the organization behind the zine.

Mabe Kyle co-founded ROCQY, the organization behind the zine. (Submitted by Mabe Kyle)

The publication, Queer Country Crossroads, features visual art such as paintings and photography, as well as poetry and prose. The rural contributors range in age from 12 years told to 29 years old.

"When I was in high school, I felt like if I wanted to be queer, then I would have to go to Toronto in order to be queer because queer people didn't exist in the county," Kyle said. 

The zine proves otherwise — one person who helped put it together is from London, Ont., but most others are from rural places such as Haldimand, Greater Sudbury, Muskoka and Waterloo Region.

Art by Alec Rodd, also appearing in the new zine by Rural Ontario Community of Queer Youth. (Submitted by Rural Ontario Community of Queer Youth)

2SLGBTQ+ people make up four per cent of Canada's population over the age of 15, which translates to about one million people. 

Kyle says that the ROCQY's zine was kickstarted by a $1,500 grant from TakingITGlobal, which gets its funding from Canada Service Corps.

Reviving the zine

Although a zine may seem like a thing of the past — and despite Kyle explaining that some people who submitted work didn't know what a zine was — they felt the medium suited the project.

"I thought it was just nice because it's something that's self-published and self-created, as opposed to necessarily having to go out and find different people to publish work."

The artwork by Blake Quinlan, which is featured in the zine. (Submitted by Blake Quinlan)

Blake Quinlan, 16, from Huntsville, Ont., is one of the contributors who knew what a zine was prior to the project. Two of their poems and one watercolour painting can be found in the publication.

For them, ROCQY and the zine are significant for queer youth in rural Ontario. 

"I think one of the big things is to remind ourselves that we're not alone," said Quinlan. "Rural youth, we often feel so isolated and so far separated from community and it's a different experience than city living even." 

"And to see ourselves represented in art and in experience and in the eyes of other queer youth is really important for me."

The zine is available in physical and digital form. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Chaarani is a reporter for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo and London. You can reach him at james.chaarani@cbc.ca.

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