I am Jason aka Black Eyed Jack and I am a queer illustrator, curator and Editor - in - chief of Sassify Zine.
Sassify is a Not-For-Profit print magazine that luxuriates in the lowbrow and sassiness. We are the only LGBTQ+ magazine that solely uses illustration and Queer illustrators at the forefront of what we do to advocate for meaningful change.
The Queertopia issue will be available from March 15th here: www.sassifyzine.com
Having faced a few knock-backs from media outlets who did not want to promote something with the word queer in the title, I decided to interview myself.
What have been your own experiences?
I have been very lucky with my experiences living in Oxfordshire. I have not been bullied since I was at school, but I have had some verbal abuse because of the way I dress, I have put that down to ignorance on the part of the culprit.
I am also so fortunate that my friends and family have been as supportive as they are. I never really ‘came out’ I just happened to fall for someone who was a man, and everyone accepted that. For many queer kids, they are not so lucky.
Being white, and on the most part identifying a cisgendered male (gender assigned at birth), and quite confident in myself, I want to own the privileges I have and use that platform to help amplify those Queer voices that often are overlooked. Sassify Zine enables me to do that and although I only represent one aspect of the lgbtq+ community, through the zine I am able to talk to drag queens and kings, Trans and non-binary creatives and queer people of colour who are transforming how we see the lgbtq+ community.
In many countries it is still illegal to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. We all just need to be a little nicer to each other and embrace everyone's differences to build a community of inclusion and love.
That is why Sassify zine is needed right now in this cultural climate. It is accessible to everyone to read it with a palatable cacophony of visuals and stories for people to learn about wider queer issues. Maybe one day I may feel secure enough telling more people about my queerness, but until then I will revel in educating, creating and supporting the shifting queer landscape through Sassify Zine.
Limited to x300 copies
62 pages of full colour and perfect bound. Over 20 Illustrations+ more
Cover Artwork by Katie Gulson
Seth Corbin - Illustration by Ben Faulkner - Gant
Crazy Holly Art - @crazy.holly.art
Hayley Stevenson - @hayleystevenson_
Ugly Monsters - @ugly.monsters
What are your personal feelings on reclaiming the word queer?
By reclaiming the word queer, I want to dismantle any stigma attached to it. If the zine and the artwork within it enhance the conversion of queerness, and make it accessible to everyone both Queer and straight, I hope that anyone can enjoy and celebrate everything that queer culture has to offer.
Queer culture is creativity, resilience and the audacity to be your true self in the face of adversity.
What misconceptions and attitudes need changing?
Queer issues should not be up for debate.
We exist and we are not going to go away. By trying to erase us from your narrative, whether that be in the media or through failing to teach kids about all kinds of love in schools, will only lead to to further learnt stigma.
There are many misconceptions about trans and non-binary people and many of the creatives in Sassify define themselves as such. These individuals are not going through a faze, and many are experiencing something called gender dysphoria. People from within and outside the lgbtq+ community need to take a step back and picture how it must be to feel trapped in the wrong kind of body. Shouting hatred at them without knowing the facts and using the wrong gender pronouns to cause offence takes up a lot of negative energy. A vast amount of hate crimes are under reported in the UK so people within and outside the lgbtq+ community need to educate themselves and find comfort in the differences of other people.
On p10 you said being queer and calling yourself queer hasn’t always been something you’ve worn as a badge of honour. Can you tell me more about that?
I have never been comfortable with labels, or standard ideals of masculinity, those standards are toxic. As a result of this, I may or may not tell someone about my queerness by omission. I guess I am still scared of how people will react or deal with me. I am constantly trying to balance being my true self with acting ‘normal’ at work or in certain situations, and although most places are very inclusive, I am always worried.
I hate labels, however Sassify has enabled me to find my community of people who accept me for what I am. It is important to remember labels help us to identify those people who are just like you, and will provide comfort when you cannot find it elsewhere.