I picked up this zine because of its title: “Wait 5 minutes, it will change.” This is a common saying in New Orleans in reference to the erratic weather patterns, and as a New Orleans native, I found this to be very compelling. A letter from the zine creator—with an apt instruction to “Start Here”—greets the reader when they open the zine, declaring that the works within are dedicated to the “two-year commemoration of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast, and to the city of New Orleans.” Lewis Wallace, the creator, tries to explain the two themes of the zine: New Orleans reconstruction and life as a trans person. While I loved both themes in themselves, I was hard pressed to see the connection between the two subjects throughout the zine. It seemed as if the pieces were written with no intention of being displayed next to each other. Overall, though, I enjoyed the writing and the use of mixed media—photography, maps, poetry, and prose—and I was greatly moved by the works presented within this piece.
When I have kids, I am definitely finding them a copy of this coloring book! Each picture comes with a caption that messes with gender stereotypes, as if the pictures don’t do enough. My personal favorite is the picture of the little boy dressed as Wonder Woman with the caption “Not every little boy wants to be Superman when he grows up.” Or the wedding cake with two brides and the caption “Marriage is so gay.” I was so hard to not pull out my colored pencils, but I wanted to save that experience for someone who actually checked this out of the library.
After all the coloring pictures, there is a little gender quiz/survey with questions such as: “What is gender?” “How many genders are there?” “In what ways do you feel confined or restricted by your assigned gender?” “Was the gender assigned to you the one you feel most excited about?” “What are you ideas for gender liberation?” I guess this is sort of the “adult part” for after you’ve finished coloring. These questions definitely make you think, though, especially after coloring.
Zine by lb.
This little perzine is packed with stories from a year in the life of Ms. B, an androgynous looking teacher at a public high school in urban Chicago. Her personality is quirky and eccentric, but the writing is immediately engaging, probably because of the combination of honesty and wit that pervades the zine. I was impressed by how gracefully the author mentioned her short haircut and the students’ confusion without focusing heavily on her sexuality, which the students also seemed to look past once they recognized their teacher’s wisdom and insight.
Ms. B. introduces herself by telling of the stresses associated with the beginning of her second year at the high school. The weight Ms. B. places on selecting an outfit for the first day of school (finally deciding on a lilac sweater that “boldly scream[s] do not ask me questions about my gender!”) reminds us that age and authority don’t always free us from insecurities. She shares with the reader anecdotes from the year about many students’ personal or behavior problems and a few solutions. Especially poignant and hilarious is the letter written to the makers of Orbit gum in which Ms. B. details her attempts to help a student. Ms. B. tells of how she gave a bulimic girl a piece of gum to cover up the stench of stomach bile during their conversation, and finishes the letter by asking the company for free gum. There are many more amusing stories about reading in class, violence in the school community, and enthusiastic student projects against discrimination. It is an especially touching moment when a student warms up to Ms. B. over a shared affinity for ACDC. After a stimulating class debate about rape in a book they had read, students literally groan in disappointment when the bell rings. Ms. B. seems proud, and rightfully so, of the mutual respect that developed over the year and created a positive environment for a struggling group of kids, and the students are proud of their accomplishments in her class. By the end of the year, it is clear that the students have begun to accept Ms. B. and learn from her class, while she learns how to work with the problems that the students face and manages teach them.
Reviewed by Amelia.
This is a more political zine than any of the ones I’ve read before. Mostly, it discusses the history of different LGBTQ political groups. It also includes stories (sometimes first-hand accounts) from various riots, and even one from the Holocaust, as seen through the eyes of different members of the LGBTQ community.