A few weeks ago, our friends Laur and Megan gifted us with a copy of their zine ‘Good Luck With The Holidays: A zine about queer resiliency Vol. 1’ and told us that it was inspired in part by #AMPLIFY which was lovely to hear. The zine is filled with holiday survival tips, recipes, anecdotes, and so much more. After I read the opening few sentences, I knew that I had to interview the zine creators. I was able to talk with Laur.
“When I was in my early 20s and living back in Ontario, my queer pals and I realized that none of us ever wished each other like ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Have a good holiday!’ we would just say or text
‘Good luck with xmas…’
‘Hope you’re holding up o.k. w the family’
That was a sad moment I guess, pausing to really take stock of how, whether we were going home to families where we were closeted, abused, or ostracized OR spending holidays alone because we weren’t welcome or weren’t talking with our families of origin … the holiday rarely meant warmth and love and safety and acceptance for us the way it did for many of our cis and straight siblings. Yeah, good luck with that. What a fucking bummer.
But the solidarity in those texts helps us survive, provides us with the good luck charm or talisman that carries us through the holidays, that vital, lifesaving reminder that somewhere out there our people are thinking of us with genuine love and acceptance.”
Your Name: Laur
Your Pronouns: she/hers or they/them
Your Affiliation with the ‘Good Luck With the Holidays’ Zine: I interrogated my friends and cut and pasted their stories into the zine!
How do you describe your identity? I have one foot in the butch lesbian camp and one in the genderqueer/trans masculine something camp. The older I get, the more comfortable I become with this ambiguity.
Please tell us what exactly a zine is and why/how it is created? Zines are low-budget (usually photocopied from collage-style originals) DIY book objects. Personally, I make zines to tell personal stories that I think others will connect with. Especially stories that have to do with queerness and survival. I make my zines by cutting and pasting words and images from word docs (that I print at work) and then photocopying them to what is hopefully an ~artistic effect~
Your essay reflects on the reality that most of your holidays have revolved around helping one another survive gatherings that were everything from awkward to outright dangerous for queer and trans folx. Please help our readers understand how a safe, healthy, & affirming holiday might be something cis straight folks take for granted? As a queer and gender non-conforming person, the holidays I spend with my family are often an exercise in dramatically altering my gender presentation and not mentioning my personal life in order to survive. That’s a really hard way to live, it turns out! The holidays really amplify the experience of being closeted or ostracized or excommunicated from family for many queer folks. It’s a time when family togetherness and affection are emphasized, so sadly it’s also a time when queer people will hide ourselves and what’s going on in our lives in order to blend in and avoid negative attention.
The zine is a compilation of talismans and survival tools, something tangible that might apply to any queer or trans person. Do you intend this to literally be something people tuck into their backpack for that trip home or to read on their own if they are not with family or friends? I really hope so! I’m a teacher and I’ve had students come out to me as LGBTQ or questioning, almost always right before they go home for winter or spring break. Those same students often are unable to bring home the LGBT books I lend them because they have homophobic parents who might discover those books and react poorly. So, I understand that some folks might not be able to bring home even so much as a zine! But if you can…I’ve always found it very affirming to have a material object with me that tethers me to my supportive queer community.
There’s a mixtape playlist in the middle of the zine. Have you created an actual audio version of this that folks can access somewhere like youtube or other mixtapey spaces? Of course! Follow me and “Good Luck w the Holidays” playlist on Spotify at “Laur;)” The playlist keeps getting altered as I put it on at parties and people add their favourites.
How did you solicit the contributions – they range from recipes to survival tips to anecdotes and even alt-holiday folklore? We were really inspired by the #AmplifyPgh model! There’s something really artistically graceful and interesting about just accepting and publishing people’s individual responses to a set of questions, no matter how they choose to interpret those questions! Megan and I texted and emailed a random (but by no means exhaustive) list of queer friends asking for their tips for surviving the holidays, favorite holiday stories, traditions, or recipes and/or their personal stories about what the holidays are like for them. I had an arbitrary October deadline and consequently have enough “late submissions” for a volume 2, which is awesome!!
I hope the message of our zine is that safety and joy come first, and that you absolutely deserve both as an LGBTQ person. It’s not always easy to see that when the message you’re getting from your family is that you aren’t allowed to participate in holidays and family unless you censor your queerness to make others comfortable.
I cried when I read the zine. Not for my current situation, but for all those holidays where my experiences echoed those in the zine and I didn’t even realize it wasn’t typical. I just felt like it was my fault for not fitting in and not deserving the Hallmark Holiday. It was helpful to revisit those memories and remind that version of Sue that things worked out, it got so much better, and fuck Hallmark. So thank you for that. You’re gonna make me cry! One of the best things about making this zine and putting it out into the world has been the inter-generational connection. We’ve heard from younger kids who are trying to figure out how to balance the demands of the holiday season with their family’s reactions to their lgbtq identities and from older folks who have been there and some of whom now spend the holidays with supportive chosen family and partners. I hope the message of our zine is that safety and joy come first, and that you absolutely deserve both as an LGBTQ person. It’s not always easy to see that when the message you’re getting from your family is that you aren’t allowed to participate in holidays and family unless you censor your queerness to make others comfortable.
You’ve also singlehandedly changed my mind about zines. When I see them at events and shows, I tend not to buy them because I feel like it is just creating more material consumption in my life when I’m trying to declutter. I was an idiot. I see the light and will be changing my ways. Any suggestions on zines I should be reading regularly? For a long time, something about zine culture always felt a little inaccessible to me. I’m a very nerdy masculine of centre person, and when I was a small questioning teen in Quebec, zine world seemed to be dominated by cool rich grrrls who smoked clove cigarettes and found my gender presentation awkward and unhip. That said, I’ve always been into comics and have an unabashed love of material print culture, so once I started making zines and meeting zinesters, I started voraciously reading zines! Now I love zines. I love everything local zine artist Sienna Cittadino makes, especially their autobiographical comics. Cindy Crabb’s “Doris” zines are also near and dear to my heart. One of the coolest things about zine culture in my opinion is how inclusive it is of writers and artists of all ages. I’ve seen Pittsburgh teenager Nsai Temko read aloud from two of her recent zines and have never been so moved by a reading. Follow Nsai on insta at nsaitemko and help this young genius get to college!
I’m part of a Pittsburgh-bases zine collective called Garlic Witch. Follow us on Instagram!
Can readers donate to see another issue produced down the road? Valentine’s Day comes readily to mind, but I also have a of thoughts about St. Patrick’s Day culture of Irish Catholic fetishists drunkenly appropriating a fake culture, something that leaks right into Cinco de Mayo. I love this idea! My friends and I have a yearly tradition of donating to organizations that provide support to survivors of sexual assault on St Patrick’s day that started after we learned that this “drinking holiday” is actually one of the hardest workdays of the year for sexual assault crisis hotline workers. Those first responders are my personal heroes. Valentines Day is another day that we queers experience differently. Donate to orgs that work with LGBTQ folks in crisis in your hometowns and adoptive towns around some of these lower profile but nonetheless stressful holidays.
How are you doing this holiday season so far? Working on this zine has been a much needed reminder to stay in close touch with all branches of my chosen queer family this holiday season! Highlights definitely include volunteering at the SAGE/Nexus LGBT Boomers and Seniors holiday party at Persad this year. I love meeting queer elders and taking about our experiences. My partner and I have also recently connected with my cousin in Baltimore who had a transgender teenager; it’s been really meaningful spending the holidays catching up with them and making queer connections across generations.
Finally, one of my part-time admin jobs is at a church in my home base of Squirrel Hill. Although I’m not a Christian, I’ve been invited to play surly innkeeper #2 in the Christmas Pageant. This platform to have a conversation about what it means to turn immigrants and travelers away with the kids is especially meaningful this year, and I look forward to watching the kiddos act and critically think their way through the Christmas story.
How can people access the zine? Is it available online or as a download they can read right now? Ok, ok, I need to get on this! I’m gonna digitize the zine soon. I’m also excited to report that the Bureau of General Services Queer Division at the Manhattan LGBTQ Community Centre is going to distribute physical copies. We also have a copy for reading at Prototype’s Feminist Zine Library.
Thank you, Laur (and Megan)
I embedded the Spotify playlist for your holiday listening pleasure.