This activity is based on the creative depiction of life experiences through making one’s own fanzine, which will positively empower all its readers who are facing similar hurtful life experience as the zine’s author. At the same time, it will offer possible solutions to all who wish to deal with similar situations with respect. Generally, we can define zine as independently and non-commercially produced printed materials, most often made by fans of a particular subculture. The creation of zine follows DIY (“Do it yourself”) ethics. They are, in fact, “home-made” magazines. Scissors, paper, glue, and possibly, a photocopier are used for their production.
We can perceive the process of writing and creating a zine as an act of social change during which the commercial media consumer becomes an active author. 1 This activity aims to move from reflection on our unfulfilled needs towards the general perspective on how to fulfil these needs in relationships, offering readers possible solutions for building a respectful relationship with people facing specific stereotypes and expectations based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. Through zine, we transform a personal experience into a public appeal, which can become the seeds of broader societal change concerning the approach to and communication in personal relationships.
“Fanzin – Psací Stroj, Lepidlo a Kopírka .” A2 – Neklid Na Kulturní Frontě, 2006, https://www.advojka.cz/archiv/2006/39/fanzin-psaci-stroj-lepidlo-a-kopirka. ↩︎
The activity can be carried out in groups of various sizes, depending on how much creative material we have available.
The activity is based on the creative making of zine. Participants may create zines individually or in groups.
“More than once in our lifetime, we may have got into an unpleasant situation during which we were facing stereotypes about men and women roles, stereotypes about LGBTQIA+ people, or stereotypes about ethnic groups’ behaviour. These may include situations in which we were not feeling comfortable, situations when someone deliberately or unintentionally hurt us, or situations when our needs were not fulfilled. Although we may feel lonely or misunderstood during such moments, we are not the only ones who have relationships with people that do not understand our needs, and this way, they hurt us. However, if we find enough strength and courage within us, then our story, feelings, and thoughts may be an inspiration to others. Not just to those who have similar life experience but also for everyone who wishes to create respectful relationships with others. One possible way to share our story with the world is a zine, a hand/home-made magazine.”
Facilitator Team, NESEHNUTÍ
We will create our zine individually or in groups using one of the needs from River of Life activity, which we discussed in the activity’s third part “Needs and their fulfilment in relationships”. Each individual/group chooses one need from the previous discussion which they will work with later on. Next, we ask participants to create a zine based on this need and the conclusions of the previous discussion. This zine should illustrate how this selected need can be fulfilled or expressed in a relationship, using a situation or a story. For example, these situations/stories may address the question of how others can behave not to support stereotypes and expectations about roles of men/women/LGBTQIA+. They may also depict various messages participants want other people to know, so these people can better understand participants’ inner experience and needs connected with their gender identity or sexual orientation. Also, it is possible to relate this zine to a River-of-Life situation and depict how this situation could have alternatively happened so that an individual’s need — facing a stereotype or an expectation in this situation — was fulfilled.
A zine should look like a magazine and should creatively communicate a certain topic. Zine’s format and content are unlimited: we can work with both text and picture content, comics, use various catchwords and slogans, pictures, utilize lyric and epic, etc. To create a zine, we can use various newspaper and magazine cuttings, own drawings and texts, collages, stamps, cloths, etc. To better imagine how a zine can look like, you may present already existing zines such as Meg-John Barker’s zine HellYeahSelfCare, which provides several ways to prevent burnout and to care about oneself if you are engaged in activism. We can also show illustrative video, presenting many forms of zines.
“Most magazines available weren’t for me. It was difficult to find something that I could relate to.”
Alex’s feedback — 17 years old transgender man — on magazines that participants could use for this activity. The selection of magazines did not sufficiently reflect young people’s varied gender identities; this is why it was difficult for Alex to identify with the content. Therefore, during the preparatory phase, it is important to keep in mind that the materials offered to participants should take into account the diversity of gender identities.
At the end of the activity, we ask participants to present their zines. During the presentations, it is possible to address:
Which need from the River of Life participants worked with?
Why did they choose this need?
Describe zine’s content — which situation or story their zine depicted, which messages did they work with?
In what way is the selected need in this story/situation/message fulfilled or depicted?
In the zine called “I Am Not Property”, the participant illustrates which situations or comments he or his friends experience. These situations are illustrated with answers to inappropriate questions that people who do not fit some of the societal stereotypes or who belong to a minority might encounter.
With this zine, the participant partly reacts to his need for a sense of belonging to the majority and to his need for acceptance of people who do not fit societal stereotypes or notions because of their appearance, sexual orientation, or personal characteristics. The majority isolates itself from these people through emphasizing particular differences between the two groups. The majority perceives the differences as incompatible. By contrast, people of minority sexual orientation, gender identity, or non-stereotypical characteristics may consider their difference not to be that important to become a prominent topic for people around them.
At the same time, the majority may categorize these emphasized differences as something strange and unusual and may perceive people of other ethnicity or sexual orientation as an object worthy of observation. Based on this alleged “exoticness”, the majority may lay claims to establish relationships with these people (“be my best gay friend”), enter their intimate zone (touch atypical hair, e.g. Afro hairstyle) or inquire about intimate information (e.g. asking a non-heterosexual person explicit questions about their sexual orientation or a trans person about their genitals). They consider these people to be “exotic” things, which they can treat at will, and think they have the right to enter their private lives. Moreover, they may think that with their unsolicited behaviour they show respect to or liking for these people. At the same time, zine reacts to the need for autonomy and respect, which may not be abundant in relationships of people of other sexual orientation, gender identity, or ethnicity.
“By making a zine, we created a selection of various strategies for strengthening ourselves in situations and relationships in which we face some stereotype or expectation. These strategies might not suit all, not every situation, however, the awareness that somebody else faces similar problems or incomprehension as well can provide strength to many. We think that our zines can inspire even more people to work with their needs and to take better care of them in the future. “
“I decided to go with ‘I Am Not Property’, because I wanted to point out the things that ‘normal’ people do to us [who are] ‘different’, and this way, they display we don’t belong among them, that we kind of spice up their life, so they can feel more interesting.”
“Next, I’ve got here ‘I identify as tired’, because most people constantly want you to tell them what you are — you must be gay, hetero, … So, I identify with [the fact] that I am already tired of this.”
Ben, 17 years old homosexual