presence: a zine for queer Frederick youth

What is the injustice we are solving?
Queer youth face a whole host of issues - we are more likely to be homeless, mentally ill, chronically absent from school, and simultaneously, less likely to have access to resources. In Frederick, Maryland this is extremely evident. Data by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey reports that half of queer youth in Frederick, Maryland have an active plan to commit suicide. These are urgent problems in our community, and they have impacted the way we go to school, access healthcare, and thrive.

We are a duo of queer trans artists who have been personally affected by these issues. Our project, presence: a zine for queer Frederick youth, is a creative response to the realities of our community. A zine is a independently produced magazine (zine for short), showcasing art and information. Our voices and experiences should be at the forefront of these conversations, rather than adults or “specialists” speaking on behalf of us.

Our zine will be a submission based zine, calling from all parts of our conservative rural community. Frederick, Maryland has mountain towns, farming communities, and a small city center. We are a red county in a blue state, and for our friends and family, this means we can’t access the resources we need. Hormone replacement therapy, inclusive therapy and medical providers, and safe places of worship and education are all hours away from our town. We must bring awareness and urgency to this - and what better way than through art?

The zine will encompass all the problems facing queer youth especially in Frederick, and how we have learned to survive and thrive amongst the issues in our community. Submissions will range from pieces of poetry, short stories, drawing, painting, and other mixed media. We will distribute the printed zines through the safe places we have found and in the hallways of our schools. We believe the art created by the most marginalized of our town should be spread widely and accessible to everyone. Because of this, the zines will be free, but donations will be accepted to cover the printing costs. We will also create an electronic PDF version to be shared with people everywhere. This zine is about the Frederick queer experience, but it is an important example of localized community organizing.

Once the zine is finished, and organized by the two of us, we will hold an art show at the local library. We want to share the art in the zine, but also invite local artists to share bigger or different pieces in person with us. We will have physical art as well as performance pieces at our show. It’s important to us that we have a follow up show so we can continue to share our art, but also so we can distribute resources to those who need it. We are still in the planning process for the show; but some possibilities we have considered include a free clothing exchange for trans and gender non conforming youth, FAQs and information guides for queer people, and many more. We’d also like to provide a dinner/set of refreshments.

It’s time for queer youth to tell our stories and for adults to listen. Will you join and support our voices?
Our Compassionate Solution
To solve this injustice of
local young queer pain in our town
we will address
the silencing and ignoring of young queer voices
sharing the art and work of young queer Frederick people to the general public
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Dalton B.

March 06, 2018


I'm reaching out from the Peace First team to provide some feedback on your Compassionate Insight so that when you're ready to submit your Project Plan and Mini-Grant application, you'll be fully prepared!

Now on to the feedback...I LOVE this project! In your project description you highlight the main tenets of our definition of peacemaking - courage, compassion and collaboration. And not only that, you've thought of a creative, exciting and fun project that I think will be really powerful for you and your community. Awesome job!

I think to take this work to the next level, I'd love you to do some research on the power of hearing diverse stories. Can you find some data that shows how essential this work is? (I know this is essential, but it always helps to be able to prove it with hard facts!)

I'd also love to hear about what you see as the ultimate outcomes of this work - is it to reduce suicide/depression rates of queer people in your community? Is it to build tolerance and compassion in your community towards queer youth? A combination of the two? Something else completely? I think the more specific you can get in your desired outcome, the more helpful it will be when evaluating your effectiveness of your project.

Overall, I think you all have an incredible understanding of this work and I have no doubts this will be an awesome and impactful project. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns or would like additional feedback!

James v.

March 07, 2018

Thank you for the feedback Dalton!! We are having a team meeting soon to address what you mentioned and finish up planning. I think you make really good points and that research is definitely the next step we need to take to make our project really impactful! Best, James