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Civic Impact

Doors Wide Open: The Toronto Queer Zine Fair balances accessibility and art

Zine makers and buyers browse the tables at last year's Toronto Queer Zine Fair.

“We’re trying to carve out space for queer and trans zine writers and artists in the city. There are no other fairs that focus on this, so our mission primarily is to create a space that feels as safe and affirming as possible,” says Eddie Jude, one of the organizers with the Toronto Queer Zine Fair collective, which is hosting its third zine fair on Saturday October 17. Held at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church from 11:00 to 7:00, the fair has a dual mission: to provide “a platform for underrepresented voices in zine culture,” who Jude describes as queer, trans, disabled, or people of colour; and to host an event that as accessible as possible.

The Toronto Queer Zine Fair will host about 50 different tablers—artists, publishers, and writers—in their biggest year to date. They’ll also provide a variety of accessibility services, such as gender-neutral washrooms, a wheelchair accessible venue, on-site ASL interpreters, free childcare, and targeting a scent-free experience.

The accessibility services are just part of the mandates for the collective. “The biggest new thing for this year was trying to be more intentional about the way we create environment,” says Jude. They’ve tried to fold the services into the event organically: the ASL interpreters will there to greet attendees, and the childcare area will also offer two free zine-making workshops for kids. “You don’t go into a lot of spaces that prioritize the needs and safety of queer and trans people, especially with disabilities. It’s not impossible. You just have to put a little bit of the work in.”

Hand-in-hand with the making the event accessible is the Toronto Queer Zine Fair collective’s open-minded for-us by-us mentality. “A whole range from the queer community come to the fest, and not everyone who come to the fest are queer or trans-identified. We see lots of people from the art community as well, but there is a niche in this fair for people who are part of the queer community in some way."
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