Queer Zines at Furman: Highlights from the New LGBTQ+ Zine and Small Press Collection
In 2019, the Furman Libraries acquired a core collection of queer zines and LGBTQ+ small press publications from London-based antiquarian bookseller Camp Books. With over 300 examples, this collection was revelatory to us in several ways: the ways in which printed matter and print culture are used by their creators to advocate, share information, and create community within LGBTQ+ circles; the wide array of creative design, content, and expression in the many formats, printing processes, and approaches to creating zines and small press publications; and the important historical moment that this group of printed materials captures, as LGBTQ+ people have become increasingly visible, proud, and vocal within the public sphere in the past 50 years.
This exhibition provides an introduction to the viewpoints and perspectives of several dozen individuals, from five continents, as they record their lives, rant and rave, celebrate their accomplishments, passions and interests, and at a basic level seek to connect with their readerships in personal and intimate ways through the format of zines and small press publications. It also provides glimpses into intimate and highly personal life stories of queer, trans, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, and nonbinary people as they tell their own stories, share their struggles, and creatively celebrate their lives and identities.
LGBTQ+ materials are a collecting interest for the Furman Libraries, from some of the first English-language publications to address same-sex desire in the 19th century, through mid-20th century gay and lesbian periodicals, to 1970s gay and lesbian comix, to this collection, which is mostly contemporary but stretches back to the late 1970s. Furman’s queer zine collection has more than doubled since 2019, and is now likely the second largest in the Southeast. As these collections grow, they will provide Furman students and faculty with a rich array of primary sources that allow for unique classroom and research experiences and the creation of new knowledge and creative works as a result. Many thanks are due to Rick Jones for creating the poster for this exhibition.