QUEER INDIGENOUS GIRL #3
SE’MANA THOMPSON, SELF-PUBLISHED, 24 PP., $6.99
In a society that suppresses our voices and distorts our realities, zines remain one way for marginalized people to express ourselves freely and without censorship or restraint. The Indigenous zine scene is a growing community that explores and promotes our diversity, ideas and talent through a DIY media form. In publications like Native Punx Unite!, Red Rising, kimiwan and Everyone Calls Themselves an Ally until It Is Time to Do Some Real Ally Shit, Indigenous zinesters are reviewing bands, making political interventions, interviewing community leaders and sharing knowledge and stories. All disseminate art and writing on contemporary Indigenous life that doesn’t rely on colonial narratives of who we are.
Akimel O’otham/diné/hopi zinester Se’mana Thompson’s Queer Indigenous Girl mobilizes this diversity and perspective, showcasing the work of queer, trans, non-binary, Two-spirit, disabled, neurodivergent and/or chronically ill BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Colour). The first issue was released in July 2016 as a perzine (personal zine) with an introduction to Akimel O’otham culture, Thompson’s experiences navigating ADHD and more. Queer Indigenous Girl #2 shifted to a submission-based format, a change Thompson sees as rooted in spiritual and activist ethics: “I provide this zine for others to reclaim space and their humanity through words and art. To speak words, to take images and put them into the universe is a sacred act—powerful, healing and balanced.”
The third issue, Our People, Our Strength, gathers art and poetry from 10 contributors. The layout—one piece per page on a white background— gives the impression of reading through a gallery, with visual space to linger over each contribution. And you’re going to want to linger. Thompson’s illustration Five Generations, for example, draws the reader into everyday Indigeneity in a colourful depiction of a living room that illuminates bonds of kinship through the materiality of home. The poem “to be soft is political,” by Maria Teresa Carmier, interweaves family, trauma and love to poignantly speak to the importance of gentleness and healing as strategies of resistance.
Zines have always had a community bent, with zinesters, contributors and readers forming tight bonds through snail mail, email, zinefests and, increasingly, online platforms. Queer Indigenous Girl stays true to this grassroots ethos online and offline. Whether you see yourself reflected in its pages or want to engage with perspectives that are too often overshadowed, Queer Indigenous Girl is a challenge and an embrace, an exercise in solidarity and a call to create shared spaces, in order, as Thompson herself writes, “to heal and gather strength.”