Featuring queer-themed creativity: Queer Ramblings
interview with Sandra R. Garcia
Can you tell me first of all a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where are you originally from and where do you reside now?
I am a 28-year-old lesbian, born and raised in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I have lived in California, Minnesota and now reside in New York with my trans FTM partner.
What do you do besides your zine?
I have been working as a medical assistant for several years, doing Queer Ramblings on the side. About one month ago, thanks to the support of my partner, I quit my job and am dedicating myself full-time to expanding my zine into something I can make enough money to do full-time.
For how long have you been running your zine now? Are you the only editor or is there a team?
I am the only editor of Queer Ramblings, published monthly for four years. Starting in November 2004, though, I will change to a quarterly schedule in order to try to expand.
What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
I started this project simply because there are just a few publications that will use queer-themed material -especially queer women and trans people. I came up with the name in two stages. First, I had this journal I kept on the front of which I'd scribbled "Ramblings." Then I added the "queer" in front of that so I could make it clear who my audience was. So, then, Queer Ramblings was born.
QueerRamblings Cover - Issue 1, November 2000
QueerRamblings Cover - Issue 10, August 2001
How do you manage to run a monthly publication? Can you tell us a little bit about the work involved, and what you love and find challenging about zine making?
Running a monthly publication is a lot of work. You have to be determined to do it no matter what, no matter what is going on. I feel that designing the actual zine itself is only 10% of the work. Copying, mailing, PR, putting up flyers, etc is the real work. But most challenging is the cost.
I was able to use a photocopier at work many times, but still it can be costly. I lived in three different states while putting Queer Ramblings together. For 6 months I lived in this hick town where the only printing place refused to photocopy Queer Ramblings and wouldn't let me use their self-service copier. They gave a variety of stupid reasons that boiled down to homophobia. So I had to drive two hours to the next town to photocopy.
This is why running a zine has to be something you do because you love it, not because you expect any particular results. I do it because I feel that I HAVE to, like I'm driven to. Without the obsession that I had to get Queer Ramblings out on time, I would never have made it past the first couple of issues. What I found the most challenging about the first three years of it was that I felt like I was all alone in it. My ex-girlfriend was not supportive or encouraging at all, so I felt stupid doing it, but I just kept doing it. I also felt like I didn't get a lot of feedback for my efforts. It was as though I was putting forth all of this effort and then I would hear very little back from people. Looking back, I wonder what drove me to do it.
Cover - Issue 20,June 2002
QueerRamblings Cover - Issue 30, April 2003
What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them?
I had seen a few zines in bookstores, but I didn't know anything about them before I started my own.
What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zine?
I would like to reach other GLBT people that are creative but have no venue to display their work.
QueerRamblings features the creativity of queer women. What topics do come up in their writings and images? Is 'queerness' the topic most often discussed in your zine?
My zine very queer-themed, featuring artists, photographers, writers, musicians, etc... I try very hard to keep Queer Ramblings focused on creativity and away from politics and gossip. This is not to say that artists and writers create in a vacuum - politics and the popular media are big influences, but I feel that there already exist other publications and venues to express this.
How do you select writings and images to be published at QueerRamblings?
What is wonderful about running my own publication is that I can do whatever I want. It comes down to what I like. If I like it, I'll publish it, if not, then I won't. I consciously balance Queer Ramblings to include all aspects of the GLBTI community.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?
not expect to see results for a long time. It does not mean that no one cares.
It does not mean that you should give up. Be prepared to do it on your own. Do
it because you want to, not because you think youll be rich or famous. Hey,
whether 5 or 5000 people read your zine, youve gotten your message across
and you should feel great.
Do you feel part of a (grrrl, queer or general) zine community or network and what does it mean to you?
Over these years I have had contact with about 10 genderqueer zines. I'm always so happy to hear from other people. There are only a few of us that target lesbian/transgender people. There is though, a large zine community, I mean, just take your wonderful website for example.
Do you consider grrrl and genderqueer zines as an important part of a social movement? Do you think grrrl, lady, queer and transfolk zines, resource sites, and projects can effect meaningful social and political change at large - or do they have significance mainly in individual lives?
The charm and drawback of zines is that they are so obscure. Getting your zine out to people is difficult and once they get it, no guarantee they'll even read it. That can be hard on you -not to mention just draining. But those who do read the zine really appreciate it because zines are truly creative, subversive and empowering.
What were some of main influences that have empowered you in your life?
family and my partner keep me going. Coming out as a lesbian almost killed me,
but once I accepted it, it has made me a hundred times stronger.
Which role does play the Internet for you?
Although Queer Ramblings is a paper zine I would not be able to run my zine without the Internet. Period.
Do you define yourself as a feminist? What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist/ )?
Feminist. Charged word. Yes, I am a feminist.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks for caring enough to ask these questions
questions about the journal, contact Sandy: