By Jacob Steiner
Sheffield’s fourth annual zine festival demonstrated thriving creativity in support of the LGBT community.
Writers, illustrators, independent publishers and readers gathered in The HUBS, Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union on Saturday April 30 to present, sell and exchange their small magazines and booklets (known as zines).
The zinesters’ self-published work was available for purchase from the stalls set up around the union’s first floor, while workshops ran throughout the day.
This year, the festival was supported by Sheffield Hallam University Students’ Union LGBT and Liberation Group, and fundraised for SAYiT – Sheffield’s LGBT Youth Group.
The zines and workshops explored LGBT themes in creative ways.
The ‘Designing Out Suicide’ workshop invited festival-goers to create a collaborative zine in support of the prevention of suicide in women.
Other workshops gave zinesters and fans the chance to make their own screen-print, write their own poetry and to design and create their own zine.
The content of the zines ranged from hard-hitting tales of personal struggle to light-hearted pieces about Bruce Springsteen’s bottom.
There were themes of feminism, personal identity and mental health, with an eye to educating, entertaining and inspiring the readers.
Jacq Applebee, a zinester presenting her own work at the festival, said: “I’ve got eight zines here today: all on subjects that affect me like growing older as a black bisexual person, interracial dating and mental health. It’s on a range of subjects that I never get to read about, so I thought why not write about it?”
“Black, queer, non-binary people – we’ve got voices but it’s usually ignored, so having something written down, having something a bit more permanent is a good way to make my voice heard.”
Chella Quint and Bettie Walker organised the festival for the fourth year.
They also had their own zines on display, centred around science, menstruation and wind turbines.
Chella said: “Self-publishing is good because it gives you the right not to ask for permission to publish your work,”
“People aren’t going to turn you away just because your topic is shocking or surprising or unusual. It’s great for people that are under-represented in mainstream publishing because you can see their zines here.”
“It’s important to give a space and a platform to that. We wouldn’t have our work shown if we didn’t do this, so we extend that to others with our experience.”
Chella and Bettie promised they will be back next year to organise the festival and will do so until being replaced.