An Industry’s Response To The Gay Culture Clash
In the wake of California’s controversial move to pass Proposition 8 (which strips the right of same-sex couples to marry) and in light of the major Hollywood motion picture depicting the life and death of politician Harvey Milk (California’s first openly gay public servant), citizens of the US have found themselves in the middle of a new culture clash. Fueled by the fire of injustice and determined to expand the breadth of universal civil and human rights, people everywhere have chosen to act by raising awareness about the queer community.
Amid this clamor, a group of independent gay arts magazines have gained momentum. As recently noted in New York magazine’s article on their success, these flourishing publications champion the histories, art, culture and rights of the gay community. Unabashedly honest publications are forging the path of exploration, portraying the realities of these „counter” culture communities, while producing poignant and powerful work.
Created in 2004 by Karol Radziszewski, DIK Fagazine was the first independent artistic magazine in Central/Eastern Europe. Birthed out of a desire to explore homosexuality within the context of the cultural region, Radziszewski sought to create a magazine that would both confront and celebrate art, homosexuality and masculinity in a palatable and inviting medium. Now considered one of the forerunners of its kind, DIK Fagazine is distributed worldwide and serves as an example of the important artistic work coming out of the gay community. In addition to the niche the magazine has filled and the information and awareness it has spread, DIK is unique in that it is still independently owned and run—an essential key to the publication’s authenticity and quality. Of his enduring success, Radziszewski explains: „the magazine is released irregularly because a particular issue is ready only when we are fully satisfied with the content. Sometimes it takes two months, sometimes it is half of the year.” With this kind of attention to detail and commitment to quality, it’s no wonder that DIK Fagazine functions as a key player in this new movement, showcasing the goings on in alternative arts, fashion, photography and culture.
New York City based gay pub, Spank Zine, emerged on the scene as the brain-child of founders Sean Bumgarner, William Lynn and Jason Roe, taking cues from the granddaddy of all gay arts magazines, Butt Magazine. Unlike your average party photo flipbook, Spank embraced the nostalgic feel of the zine format, bringing to light an edgy collection of contributors and content within its pages. A typical issue contains everything from erotic fiction to interviews, avant-garde art and music from emerging and well-established artists in the gay community. In addition to its print format, Spank Zine’s online blog serves as a great resource of information, aimed at keeping members aware of the latest artists, music, parties, politics and goings on in the area. Each issue is launched in conjunction with a raucous party at the L.E.S. underground club, the Vault.
Another New York-based publication, East Village Boys, is a compilation of the art, culture and literature coming out of New York’s L.E.S gay and bisexual community. The website aims to break down stereotypes and unearth the complexity of the people behind the gay label, all while celebrating, supporting and nurturing the work and talent of the people within it. A quick glance at the site, which hosts a bevy of videos, audio, images and text, will clue you in to the thriving events and people in this community. In addition to their virtual pages, the East Village Boys have recently launched an initiative dubbed Cock Culture, which will be an annual, limited edition print volume of work from the fields of art, photography, poetry and more.
Paris-based Kaiserin Magazine was founded by Didier Fitan and Arnaud-Pierre Fourtané in 2006. This independent, bi-annual magazine has quickly gained steam, celebrated for its vow to „re-establish the art magazine as something militant and committed.” Now boasting worldwide circulation and a faithful following of readers and contributors, the magazine is lauded for its queer sensibilities and commitment to actively seeking out fresh artistic voices, presenting the work of emerging young artists, photographers, illustrators, authors, poets and other creative innovators. Like many of its contemporaries, each issue of Kaiserin is based around one major theme, including Outside, Postmodern Hardcore, and L’Extase Collective. What’s more, the magazine is also published in a bilingual, French-English format.
Fellow Parisian Donatien Veismann began Homopunk as a venue to showcase his photography and artwork. Instead, the publication has blossomed into a community of gay artists who use Homopunk as a platform to advertise new projects within their communities. Veismann’s blog offers edgy and provocative photographs that are blunt and unapologetic—all keeping to his philosophy of „Stop Bitching!! Start a Revolution.” An appropriate sentiment indeed.
Tala Bouzarjomehri, JC Report, January 5th, 2009