“The Fence” – A Bi Women’s Zine is Born

BCN got in touch with the woman behind a new Canadian bi zine and asked her for the story behind its creation.

I’d already been thinking about creating a bi women’s zine when I attended a bi-themed evening at Clit Lit (a queer women’s reading series in Toronto) on June 3, 2002. Hearing everyone’s wonderful words inspired me and I thought “yes, we have so much to say and we say it damn well!” So I put aside the fact that I had never done anything remotely like this before and sent out an email the next day to all the women who had read at the event asking for submissions for a zine focussing on bi women. Within 10 days I had settled on the name “The Fence: a new place of power for bisexual women” and already appeared on a local campus radio station to promote the just-conceived entity. I came up with the following “mission statement” to explain what the zine was all about, and began an email frenzy to get the word out.

Mission statement: Calling bisexuals ‘fencesitters’ has been a way of marginalizing us, of placing us outside gay/lesbian and straight cultures by saying that we haven’t made a decision about our sexuality. “The Fence” is going to be all about bisexual women reclaiming this position and speaking from our unique viewpoints that traverse straight and gay/lesbian cultures, but also allow us to have spaces of our own. “The Fence” can be a positive and powerful place, and this zine is for the women who have decided to stay there!!

I received enough submissions from Canada and the US to put together a 28 page first issue which came out in time for International Celebrate Bisexuality Day in September 2002. “The Fence” opened with the following Q+A:

“Why is it a good idea to have a bi women’s zine?”

“Cuz I wanna do it, biphobia, esp. from lesbians, made it hard for me to see bisexuality as an option when I first came out, and bi women are definitely not adequately represented in queer or straight culture.

Also – to educate and inform, entertain and provoke, to share our experiences and opinions about being bi women. We have things to say! Cuz bi girls rock! We need some spaces for our own voices, unapologetic, no need to explain that bi is queer.

I’ve become very empowered through being involved in the bi community in Toronto, esp. the bi women’s community. So I see this partially as a way of helping to build the community and connections that I’d like to see.”

The first issue contains sexy artwork by Mia Jennings, “A Salute to Vibrators” by Kathleen Kuhn, an account of two bi gals attending a pro-choice rally during Catholic World Youth Days by Sara Copley, loads of poetry, my own piece on “A Journey to Bisexuality”, an article about having a husband and finding a wife by Dana Shaw, and many other interesting odds and ends.

By late December I ran out of my initial batch of 100 and decided to print more to keep up with the demand. “The Fence” is available in 3 stores in Toronto and is also carried by Drown Soda Zine Distro (http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/drownsoda1). I’ve personally filled orders from Vancouver to Halifax within Canada, across the US and even Australia. A recent treat was Broken Pencil magazine naming “The Fence” their February 2003 zine of the month – the blush-worthy review is on the web at: http://www.brokenpencil.com/reviews/zinepicks/index.php. Quite a success story for the girl who didn’t know anything about putting together a zine!

It’s now early March 2003 and I’ve become happily immersed in local queer and girl zine culture and also much more involved in the broader bi community outside of Toronto. I’m taking “The Fence” on the road soon, starting with a table at a queer arts fair in Toronto called “Fruit Market” and then on to various conferences in the summer – Rainbow Visions in Montreal and the next North American Conference on Bisexuality in San Diego.

Issue #2 is in progress as I write and will be available by the time this issue of BCN goes to press. It’ll be bursting with more fantastic artwork, comics, and poetry; articles such as “Who’s Afraid of Bisexuality?” by Nikki Schlaishunt and “The Irrelevance of Gender” by Kythryne Aisling; a chat about being bi on the Twin Oaks commune with Valerie, Val and Mary, and much much more!

And I’m already starting to plan issue #3 – the deadline for submissions is September 1 2003 so start sending me your short articles, poems, rants, personal narratives, stories, fiction, quotes, reviews, comics, drawings, photos, collages, and so on…. I welcome submissions from all bi women (including women who find the label ‘bisexual’ problematic and don’t use it) and also bi-friendly/bi-positive women. I can be reached at [email protected] and I’d love to hear from you!