JAMIE WINDUST.

The Ed­i­tor-in-Chief of FRUITCAKE Mag­a­zine speaks on au­then­tic­ity, con­trol­ling their ex­pe­ri­ence and the chang­ing land­scape of queer pub­lish­ing.

Gay Times Magazine - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy Matty Parks Words Jack Pen­gelly

The fab­u­lous Ed­i­tor-in-Chief speaks on their pub­li­ca­tion FRUITCAKE, and why their work on en­sur­ing that queer peo­ple re­ceive au­ton­omy when shar­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences is so im­por­tant.

When Jamie Windust got (right­fully) fed up of not see­ing them­selves rep­re­sented in main­stream me­dia, they took it upon them­selves to launch a pub­li­ca­tion that would speak to a queer au­di­ence that has for too long been over­looked.

The re­sult was FRUITCAKE; a new LGBTQ ti­tle of­fer­ing a fresh queer per­spec­tive on its vi­brant and stylish pages. Jamie found the bi­est re­sponse to the pub­li­ca­tion not only from the trans and non­bi­nary com­mu­nity, but also from their home­town in Dorset. “It’s nice to see that, and to know that what­ever I’ve cre­ated has helped peo­ple back home,” they told us.

Here we sit down with Jamie to dis­cuss en­sur­ing di­verse voices are fairly rep­re­sented in queer me­dia, how the cis­gen­dered gay com­mu­nity can be bet­ter al­lies to trans and non-bi­nary peo­ple, and why Drag Race cham­pion Sasha Velour is one of their icons.

Why did you start FRUITCAKE Mag­a­zine?

FRUITCAKE was spawned from my de­gree. I stud­ied fash­ion and busi­ness, and was asked to cre­ate a busi­ness. It didn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be fash­ion, I was al­lowed to do what I wanted and the sum­mer prior, I’d vol­un­teered at Stonewall and they took me to Pride for the first time. I think that whole ex­pe­ri­ence was en­rich­ing and made me re­alise that what­ever I did, not just in my de­gree but in the world of work, I knew it wanted to have a very LGBTQ and queer per­spec­tive. This felt like the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to do that.

What has the re­sponse been like so far?

I think the best re­ac­tions have been from trans and non-bi­nary peo­ple, but specif­i­cally from where I grew up in Dorset. I’ve had peo­ple from my home­town mes­sage me to say, ‘This has re­ally helped’. It’s nice to see that, and to know that what­ever I’ve cre­ated has helped peo­ple back home. The ma­jor­ity of the au­di­ence who con­trib­ute and who read are in their teens, which are those for­ma­tive years of cre­at­ing a queer iden­tity. The re­sponse is very emo­tional and

it’s very real, so that is touch­ing.

You said in your mis­sion that you’d not seen LGBTQ sto­ries be­ing told au­then­ti­cally. Do you think this is chang­ing?

I think it’s get­ting bet­ter in some re­spect, but not nec­es­sar­ily from main­stream pub­li­ca­tions. For ex­am­ple, you’ve got na­tional news­pa­pers com­ing out with trans­pho­bic ar­ti­cles which then prompts peo­ple – specif­i­cally trans peo­ple – to write about how wrong that is, but that per­spec­tive doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily get as much trac­tion as the ac­tual trans­pho­bia that these na­tional news­pa­pers are spread­ing. Y’know, Gay Times has, with their re­brand, been am­pli­fy­ing di­verse queer voices so that’s a great step for­ward.

It’s like what Lady Phyll says about not tak­ing up the space of peo­ple in or­der for peo­ple to tell their sto­ries. How are you work­ing on get­ting these di­verse voices in the pub­li­ca­tion?

It’s dif­fi­cult be­cause I try not to be to­kenis­tic in any re­spect, and I do get quite a lot of con­tri­bu­tions from cis white gay men, and I’ll in­clude a cou­ple be­cause, why not? But if I was go­ing to use all their opin­ions in the mag­a­zine, it wouldn’t cor­re­late with the ethos. I do ac­tu­ally just turn peo­ple down. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to ask for di­verse op­tions, and to say that I need more queer peo­ple of colour in FRUITCAKE. I think some­times peo­ple feel like they can’t put their work for­ward be­cause their mind­set is, ‘Well no one has ever wanted it’.

What would it have meant to you to see non­bi­nary rep­re­sen­ta­tion in main­stream cul­ture, not just in queer pub­li­ca­tions, when you were grow­ing up?

I was look­ing at old pic­tures of my­self re­cently, and when I was at school, I was a fem­i­nine gay guy. I never re­ally iden­ti­fied out­side of the gen­der bi­nary, but when I got to uni I started to ques­tion that. That was four years ago. I think if non-bi­nary iden­ti­ties had been more main­stream for a longer time then maybe I would have ex­plored that a lot more and I would have felt hap­pier for longer, be­cause it shouldn’t have taken me mov­ing to Lon­don to then find out about it. It should be ev­ery­where al­ready.

How can the cis gay com­mu­nity be­come bet­ter al­lies for the trans and non-bi­nary com­mu­ni­ties?

I’ve only re­cently re­alised there’s a mas­sive dis­con­nect be­tween the gay cis com­mu­nity and the trans com­mu­nity, and there ac­tu­ally is quite a lot of... not di­vi­sion, but prej­u­dice still there. There are mas­sive par­al­lels be­tween the two com­mu­ni­ties. You should be able to have em­pa­thy and then form that into ally­ship, and that’s what I want to see more of in Pride. For me, I don’t en­joy Pride be­cause it feels very gay cis. It’s about gay cis spa­ces be­ing a lot more di­verse be­cause then peo­ple would feel like they can go to them. That’s why I don’t en­joy any form of night life be­cause I don’t feel em­braced in my full re­spect in those spa­ces. Clubs like G-A-Y or Heaven, to me, they feel very gay cis spa­ces.

On a per­sonal level, when you see peo­ple mak­ing fun of non-bi­nary iden­ti­ties – like Piers Mor­gan say­ing he might ‘iden­tify as a gi­raffe’ – how does that make you feel? To see your ex­is­tence so di­min­ished?

It’s painful, be­cause peo­ple like Piers don’t know the power of their words and the le­git­i­macy it gives to other big­ots in the world. He would be adamant that he’s not a bigot, but it’s like with Trump, to see those views on such a large plat­form it in­trin­si­cally le­git­imises the peo­ple who ac­tu­ally have those views. It le­git­imises their opin­ion be­cause they think, ‘Oh, mass me­dia agrees with me’. And that’s dif­fi­cult be­cause then when it comes to street ha­rass­ment or pub­lic prej­u­dice, I’m al­ways seen as lesser be­cause these peo­ple have had their views le­git­imised, so they feel like they’re 100% in the right and it’s not a de­bate and I’m wor­thy of be­ing treated that way be­cause their views are the main­stream.

Big­otry breeds more big­otry. In an age where

be­ing overtly queer is po­lit­i­cal, how do you re­main true to your­self and your mis­sion while also tak­ing care of your own men­tal and phys­i­cal well­be­ing?

I think this is a re­ally good ques­tion, be­cause when I in­ter­viewed Travis and Alok, I asked them this ques­tion and they com­pletely gave me a new per­spec­tive on that whole con­cept of self care. They ba­si­cally were like, ‘Why are we al­ways asked how we self-care when it should be how do we stop need­ing to self-care so much’. Self-care is re­ally im­por­tant, and one thing I do mainly is I dig­i­tal detox, I just put ev­ery­thing away and re­lax, but to re­main true to my­self it’s just about know­ing that what I’m do­ing has pur­pose, and what­ever I do it’s never not what I want to do. That’s not in a self­ish way, but I’m never ly­ing or do­ing some­thing that’s not authen­tic to what I want to do.

On a lighter note, do you have any queer icons?

Sasha Velour is an icon for me, just be­cause we ba­si­cally look the same. No, I just think she’s one of the peo­ple to come out of that scene who uses their plat­form in the best way. Mar­sha P. John­son is in­cred­i­ble; the work she did was stel­lar. She’s one of those peo­ple who we for­get about, and that’s re­ally sad, es­pe­cially if we go back to the cis gay men, they don’t nec­es­sar­ily know their his­tory.

Can you be­lieve it’s the 50th an­niver­sary of

Stonewall next year?

It’s crazy. There are peo­ple alive now who would have been there for that which is wild.

OK, an eas­ier ques­tion, who’s your dream cover star for FRUITCAKE?

Travis was my dream, and they ba­si­cally mes­saged me and they were like, ‘We’d love to work with FRUITCAKE’, and that was amaz­ing. In my head at the mo­ment, ob­vi­ously it’s prob­a­bly not gonna hap­pen, but I’d love to use Sasha [Velour] on the next cover but do her in my face. But what I’m think­ing for the next is­sue is to do an al­ter­na­tive New Year’s hon­ours list, that’s go­ing to come out in Fe­bru­ary, to do an al­ter­na­tive power list, and pro­file peo­ple from the com­mu­nity who I think are killing it but don’t get the recog­ni­tion they de­serve.

Do you have any ad­vice for any­one who is do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar in their uni de­gree and re­alises this could be a real thing?

I spoke to some­one the other day who was mak­ing a fem­i­nist zine, and she was like, ‘I don’t be­lieve I can do it’, and my ad­vice would be to just be­lieve you can do it, that’s what’s im­por­tant. When you’ve got the idea and you’re start­ing to think about it, you’re al­ready do­ing it. Ob­vi­ously there are lev­els of priv­i­lege that come with be­ing able to do some­thing that costs a lot of money, and I have def­i­nitely stru­led with that, so I think it’s good to utilise your com­mu­nity to help out, you can kick­start or crowd­fund or raise funds for your project be­cause you’ll be sur­prised at the amount of peo­ple who want to help you out. And also, take your time with it. As long as you’re hon­est and trans­par­ent with what you’re do­ing, peo­ple aren’t go­ing to be an­noyed if it takes a bit longer than you thought to de­velop. The se­cond is­sue was sup­posed to launch in Septem­ber, and I was like, ‘Guys, I’ve been re­ally busy, I don’t want to put some­thing out that’s not per­fect, so it’s go­ing to come out in Oc­to­ber’, and ev­ery­one was fine with it. So yeah, just be­lieve you can do it. Like I say, if you have the idea, you’re al­ready do­ing it.

What’s next for FRUITCAKE?

I theme each is­sue, so I’m try­ing to think of themes. We want to try and get more stock­ists. We’ve got a few amaz­ing stock­ists in the UK like Gay’s The Word, but we want to try and make it a bit bi­er. At the mo­ment it’s just me, so I’d love to have a team and get some other peo­ple on board. When I started it, I never wanted it to be in main­stream newsagents, ob­vi­ously I want it to do well, but I still want it to keep its niche roots and be for spe­cific peo­ple. But yeah, I’m happy for it to just do it’s thing and con­tinue. This time last year I never thought I’d be do­ing this, so it’s lovely to see the com­mu­nity sup­port it so much. I’m very blessed to be able to do it.

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