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