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Living in a place of contradictions: Creating a place to exist

An interview with
Caleb, editor of Soldier

from Seattle, USA

by Elke Zobl

February 2003


"My name is Caleb. I am a 21-year-old tranny boy, boydyke, boy with a cunt, whatever... I live in a place of in-between, of contradictions. I am stretched thin between worlds, spheres that do not like to intersect. I force them together, force them to create a place where I exist. Sometimes I fear that I won't be strong enough to hold them, that my world will be ripped apart like stitches from a quilt stretched taught. But I do okay." (#4)


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'm from Mansfield, Ohio which is halfway in between Cleveland and Columbus. It's a rather rural, economically depressed conservative area and not a fun place to grow up in as a rather obviously queer child/adolescent. I spent four years going to college in Athens, Ohio which is right near the West Virginia border in southeast Ohio. Now I live in Seattle, Washington, but only since like September. I am 22 years old.

What do you do besides your zine?
Well, right now I work 50 hours a week as a *cough cough* telemarketer. Yay for that college degree, it was really worth my time and money. I'm being sarcastic. I also live in a really amazing little community of folks right now and I write and read and go out drinking and to shows quite often.

For how long have you been running your zine now? How many issues did you put out until now? Are you the only editor or is there a team?
My zine started out a weird little experiment back in Athens, Ohio when I was a very young 19. Soldier was a personal zine just about me so it was just me who did it. There are five issues but you can only get the last two, and there will be no more - it's permanently retired. I'm working on something new now though and it should be out by summertime.

What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
I wanted to do a zine because I saw a friend doing one and I thought it was a really cool idea. I didn't know anything about the riot grrl/queer punk/zinester scene, I just wanted to write and get my ideas out there. The name "Soldier" comes from the way I felt when I was in high school - someone behind enemy lines.

 

"I am not a dyke, but I do have a dyke's history in that I am queer, I was born apparently female-bodied and thus assigned female gender. I do not identify with female gender. I do not identify with femininity. As a boy performing a type of boy gender, I am able to feel sexy and confident. My assigned gender was not consensual. I feel no sense of connection to it, when I tried to perform it I was not present. I was somewhere else, dissasociated from my body. Whe I perform my chosen gender, however, I feel present, engaged with mysef and the world around me, with my friends and lovers. My chosen gender is "boy". (from Soldier #5)



What topics are most often discussed in your zine?
Trans and queer stuff and how it relates to my life, identity, politics, friendship and relationships, critiques/criticisms of mainstream society and the queer scene.

What do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine?
Well I just wanted to get my ideas out there, to hopefully generate discussion and create something someone else could maybe relate to or identify with. A lot of it stemmed from loneliness and isolation and not having very many people to talk about that kind of stuff with.




What topics are most often discussed in your zine?
Trans and queer stuff and how it relates to my life, identity, politics, friendship and relationships, critiques/criticisms of mainstream society and the queer scene.

What do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine?
Well I just wanted to get my ideas out there, to hopefully generate discussion and create something someone else could maybe relate to or identify with. A lot of it stemmed from loneliness and isolation and not having very many people to talk about that kind of stuff with.

What does zine making (and reading) mean to you? What do you love about zine making? What’s the most challenging aspect of making zines?
Well for me it's about do-it-yourself independent media and creating our own representation, and that is so important because the mainstream media is so fucked up in so many ways and it made me feel so invisible and crazy when I was younger. It was about creating my own culture and my own representation and an alternative to having to shoplift from the gay and lesbian section of Barnes and Nobles to get positive images of queer people (which is what I did in high school). A lot of it was about processing who I was and what I went through in high school, and what I was going through as a very non-mainstream queer in rural Ohio. The most challenging aspect is watching other people's reactions and accepting both praise and criticisms, just because Soldier was so personal.

What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them? What have they come to mean to you?
Well my first exposure to zines was probably this zine Johnny Schilling (of Pussboy fame) did several years ago, I can't remember what he called it but it just made me want to do one two. Unfortunately we aren't friends anymore but he was a really positive influence in my life.


Do you consider grrrl, lady, queer and trans zines as an important part of a movement of sorts? Do you think zines can effect meaningful social and political change?
I don't necessarily think zines will inspire or create social or political revolution on a broad scale but they are very important for networking with other communities, creating our own culture and positive representations, providing support for each other and working through our own shit by writing and reading our experiences and ideas. I think zine culture is a very liberatory space - by that I mean that zines can and do liberate us from what manufactured/ mainstream culture has told us what is okay to be and how to live. Zines are good for creating "pockets of resistance" to a corporate-owned world.


What does the zine community mean to you?
I don't really know a lot of zine kids. I love trades but I haven't done a zine in almost a year now and I'm really not a part of the community here in Seattle. Back in Athens there wasn't any sort of zine community so...

What advice would you give others who want to start a zine?
Don't be afraid of the work, just do it. It's incredibly rewarding and once you have it you will get to trade it, distro it and that's pretty cool. I don't know what I'd say, I guess I would just say that I thought it was great the person wanted to do the zine, and bug them about trading until they got it out. That would be my way of being supportive, ha ha.

What are some of the zines you admire?
Timtum is amazing, of course. Rocket Queen, that one about sex work. Urban Hermit. Pussboy. Hard as Nails.




Write Caleb at:
emo_trouble [AT] hotmail.com

 

All images from Soldier #4 and #5.


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