Western publishes first queer arts magazine
Credit: ANGELA MCINNES
Vivianne Quang, a student in the Western-Fanshawe collaborative nursing program and president of Fanshawe's LGBTQ2S+ advocacy group, Spectrum, had their photography and writing published in Prism: Western's Queer Arts Magazine.
Prism: Western's Queer Arts Magazine features art, poetry, photography and short stories submitted from members of Western's lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) students. As the university's first queer-focused magazine, it aims to help these students know they're not alone.
“I think art, specifically in the queer community, is an important factor because it gives people a voice to express their queer identity, or the kind of things that they go through as queer people,” said Emily Hayward, one of Prism's editors.
Prism officially launched on March 21. According to Hayward, the magazine has been warmly received by Western and London, leading its editors to plan for more publications in the future, as well as eventually expanding submission calls beyond the university community.
The magazine was born out of a need to tangibly present queer-specific arts to the campus community. Prism is available to view online, but Hayward said that publishing copies in 35 glossy pages was top priority for the editorial staff.
“The first thing was to give students something to hold,” she said.
It was while holding it for the first time that one contributor, Vivianne Quang, suddenly understood the magnitude of what it meant to be a part of the history-making magazine. As a student in the Western- Fanshawe collaborate nursing program, their photography and writing had been selected from among numerous submissions to land on page 26.
“This was something I didn't realize I needed until it was in my hands. To give queer voices a platform and to bring the community together through art, I think these are such beautiful things,” they said. “Representation is so important. You don't see a lack of representation as a problem until you actually have representation. That's when you realize this was missing from my life.”
Quang is also president of Spectrum, Fanshawe's social and advocacy group for LGBTQ2S(two-spirit)+ individuals. They said that Spectrum's ultimate goal is to foster a community among its members, even if that can be difficult since the College's short program lengths lead to frequent leadership turnover.
Another challenge Spectrum faces can be its members' lack of previous exposure to queer culture.
“A lot of people who come to this school come from communities that don't support them for who they are, and that has made them hide their identity,” Quang said. “Coming to Fanshawe they're not going to have the experience or the skills to take on a leadership role that Spectrum would require.”
Despite this, Spectrum has endured to raise funds for the Regional HIV/AIDS connection, and advocate for its members to feel safer in classrooms.
Although Quang said Spectrum doesn't have the same capacity as Western to publish its own magazine, they also encourage students to eventually prove them wrong.
“Art facilitates connection,” they said. “I think, especially when it comes to the queer community, connection is such an important thing.”
Spectrum accepts and welcomes new members all year round. The club is currently looking for students who would like to take on a leadership role, as executive members, during the upcoming fall semester. If you are interested, please contact Spectrum via email at email@example.com or search “Spectrum Fanshawe” on Facebook.
You can find digital copies of Prism online through Prism's Facebook page, or pick up hard copies at Western's Pride Library and the Arts and Humanities Students' Council (UWO) office.