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I Don’t Do Boxes goes into OUTer space

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I Don’t Do Boxes, a magazine exploring LGBTQ art and narratives, celebrated its fourth volume, #OUTerspace, at the Elsewhere Museum on Dec. 9.

The magazine always has an OUT worked into each issue’s theme. Before #OUTerspace, IDDB’s also published issues School’s Out, Out Loud and Act Out.

“We were really interested in outer space because we’re interested in what space means to the queer community, especially here in North Carolina with HB2 and what designates a safe space,” said Elsewhere Program Intern and IDDB Editor Bailey Roper.

“Is it bathrooms or is it a space where you can look around and see other people who are engaging in a cultural expression? What makes you feel safe in a space and the other worldly idea of outer space and galaxies and feeling queer and alienated.”

The magazine is a part of a project called QueerLab, a youth-run media project.

“Elsewhere Museum hosts a few different education programs, FoodLab and QueerLab are our main focuses,” said Program Curator Emily Ensminger.

“We do a lot of other education things as well like creative retreats and tours but we’ve identified QueerLab as a program that is really in line with our mission and one that we really want to support. I think it’s in its fifth year and every year it just keeps getting stronger and garners more attention.”

The QueerLab Program Coordinator, Guildo Villalba Portel, hopes that the magazine and their group can provide a safe space for queer youth.
“We know that queer youth is a very marginalized population,” Villalba Portel said. “We know that among the youth that are homeless, a huge percent of them are queer. There are a lot of queer and trans suicide rates that have gone up since Trump (was elected).

“We also know that in North Carolina you can be fired just for being queer. So we’re trying to make sure we are taking care of each other through this youth program developed around LGBTQA issues, experiences, while also making a space for queer culture.”

lead2-img_2911The magazine’s Managing Editor, Babette Cromartie, believes that #OUTerspace is one of the more experimental of their publications.
“This one is more out there in terms of art,” Cromartie said. “It’s more photography, it’s more openly queer. This one is really collaborative. A lot of different people worked on it and it was just a lot of different perspectives. We came a long way in terms of showing diversity through our zine.”

IDDB Editor Roper loves that #OUTerspace tackles a lot of different issues.

“I feel like we got submissions that really covered a huge spectrum,” Roper said. “I love that there are submissions from people who identify completely differently. There are people who are talking about gender expression and not being able to define their gender and then people who are talking about a very specific experience or like their first time being intimate and being queer.”

Opening the magazine, readers will find a vast assortment of art forms, including writing, photography and sketches. At the back of the magazine, the staff included resources such as youth organizations, queer centers and emergency contacts their audience can use.

The staff tries to getting all work submitted to IDDB published.

“We try to have it published online if it doesn’t make it into the zine,” said Roper. “We had to get more selective with some of the visual art like there were some people that submitted nine pieces of art so we can’t take all of those.

“For the most part, anyone who submits we try to get their work out there as long as we feel that it’s not discriminatory or triggering in any way. We did have to do some censoring; we had some photographs that were submitted that contained nudity. So we were able to take some of those that were a little less extreme but did unfortunately have to do some censoring on that just because of our hope to get into high schools.”

With the new copies of IDDB’s laid out at the Elsewhere Museum on Dec. 9, the editorial staff welcomed everyone to come to their volume four party. Party goers helped themselves to rainbow pizza and cake, danced and got to play with glitter, bubbles and rainbow stickers.

For all involved, Elsewhere Museum also played a special role.

“A lot of the editorial team hangs out with us at other events and they really become a part of this space and I think they generally consider this, outside of QueerLab and I Don’t Do Boxes, a safe space for them to hang out,” said Ensminger.

“We all express ourselves pretty freely here. That is something really important for someone who is trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their lives. It’s beyond a magazine and education program. It is also a space where they can hang out with their friends, have tea and meet other artists.”

IDDB’s next call for submissions will be in Sept. 2017. Visit www.idontdoboxes.org for more information.

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