But I’m a Cheerleader…LEAP Festival Fortnight Zine Workshop

As part of the Leap Festival Fortnight  Edinburgh Zine Library ran a zine making workshop to create a space for LGBTQI folks to explore their experiences of sport through zines. As a member of the LGBTQI community, a keen sportsperson and someone concerned with wider questions of inclusion, visibility, queer culture and community health, this was a particular area of interest for me.

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Some of the workshop participants (including me low key repping the Fear and Lothian all-gender roller derby team)

I put in a (successful) application for £50 of funding for the cost of materials so we were very happy with the array of stickers, stamps, pens, paper and branded pritt sticks we had to work with.

During my residency with Cornwall Zine Library Lee, who helps run it, told me about a workshop they had run where they had participants making mini-zines. At the end they photocopied enough of each zine that every participant could leave with one of everyone else’s in a wee bundle. This seemed like a really great idea – partly because of the way it connects to the sharing and community nature of zines, and partly because it introduces an additional element of thinking about reproduction and distribution to our workshops, which are a fundamental part of zine making. I also really liked the idea of people seeing a zine through from start to finish. The funding from LEAP made reproducing everyone’s zine at a free workshop financially possible. If we do this again in the future (which I think we will) we may have to ask for contributions towards the cost.

I decided to incorporate a simple powerpoint into the start of the workshop. This had worked well in a previous workshop (on making spell zines) and during a talk/workshop given by Holly Casio and Kirsty Fife I had attended a few weeks before.

I liked how the powerpoint gave some structure to the introduction. It helped introduce newbies to ideas around zine making, as well as give some context to why we decided to approach this topic through zines. It also anchored my otherwise quite free flowing style of facilitation and chat, and meant when we were breaking into groups to discuss things people had a reminder of the focus of the discussions. When we started zine making, I left the penultimate slide up so people could refer to it for ideas.

It was an element I definitely plan to use again. I found it threw me off a little bit to begin with, but once I settled in it became more of backdrop to my normal workshop patter and I think it was really helpful. EZL member El was co-facilitating, and it worked really well to have both of us leading because it demonstrated the ways that zine making in this context wasn’t about having finished answers or being able to say definitive things about ‘LGBTQI experiences in sport’ but was about discussion, asking questions, exploring our own experiences, sharing our knowledges and understanding and complicating. El is also thoughtful, passionate about queer culture, always remembers to talk about things I forget, and brings new things to the discussion I haven’t thought of, so we are a good facilitating team.

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A slide from the workshop.

There was some great discussion – on things like how participation statistics often don’t measure the ways LGBTQI folks do participate, on how sport is the site of multiple intersections of identity and experience, on whether we have to leave our sexuality at the door of the changing room, on visibility and ‘safe’ or positive visibility. We brought in some conversations we’d been having about the promotion materials, which used images from representations of LGBTQI folks in sport in films and tv, and considered assumptions about the ‘LGBTQI experience’ and shared cultural references. It would have been great to have longer to allow more discussion, as people really got stuck in.

We delayed photocopying the zines until the last minute to give people time to finish. I think telling people we planned to reproduce the zines at the end made people think realistically about what they could make in an hour and meant we ended up with more finished zines than we normally do at workshops.

We overran by half an hour in a flurry of folding and cutting, but everyone left with 10 zines (and it gave everyone a taste of the panicked night before a zine fair!) Everyone seemed really pleased to have finished zines, and to be able to share their zines with others.

This was the rough workshop:

5pm – Set up – put out materials, set up projector, put out zines for people to read. We had 4 people setting up. We arranged the room into two tables of 8 each, with space to move between them and the library’s collection spread across a table at the back.

5.30pm – Participants arrive and get settled. We had 6 participants, plus 4 zine library members (including myself and El) and 2 participants from LEAP.

5.45pm – Introductions. Discussion of housekeeping (including safe spaces and self-care, reading as active participation), introduction to zines and the zine library using some of the zines from the collection as examples.

5.50pm – A Game of Pictionary. This is a great game to demonstrate that you don’t have to do a good drawing to communicate an idea, and is a great counter to people’s worry ‘I can’t make a zine because I can’t draw’. We had created 10 prompts – 5 easy and 5 medium – around sport. We played as a whole group (as opposed to in pairs which we’ve done for bigger workshops before) and if you guessed correctly it was your turn to draw, or if you’ve already drawn, you can nominate someone who hasn’t drawn. This way everyone had an opportunity to draw. It was also a good way of getting everyone together as a group.

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The starting points for small group discussions.

6pm – Small Group Discussions. When we were planning this workshop, there were lots of things we thought about. We turned 3 of these into questions to prompt discussions in small groups of 2 or 3.

6.10pm –  We came back together to feedback from our discussions. It would have been good if this could have lasted longer, but we only had the room booked until 7.30pm and the library closes at 8pm.

6.20pm – Making Mini-Zines. We went through making a mini-zine with participants from an A4 or A3 sheet of paper.

6.25 – 7.25pm – Zine making.

7.25pm – Photocopying and Folding. Abi and Esmond (EZL members) ran down to the library photocopier to copy all the zines. These trickled back upstairs and we all stood round frantically folding and cutting the zines. Once they were all copied, Abi and Esmond tidied up around us as we finished off.

8pm – Grabbing one of each zines from the piles, participants left and we all bundled out of the library as the ever obliging and forgiving librarians from the Central Library locked up behind us.

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Some of the finished workshop zines.

This is the powerpoint we used: LEAP SLIDE SHOW



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