New Media Issue Out Now!
Illustration: Saul Freedman-Lawson
Making media matter
It feels like a lifetime ago that I made my first zine. I can’t even find a copy of it, but I recently found evidence of its existence in a letter from another zinester. I was a teenager then, in the suburbs, and felt silenced and alone. The zine was about indie bands I liked — a pure fanzine that gushed on about the impact of bootleg tapes and burned CDs on my life.
That zine is a far cry from the kind of work I do now, and it may be for the best that it’s been lost somewhere between packed and unpacked boxes — TBH, I don’t know how I’d feel about my diary-like ramblings about pop stars resurfacing (probably the same cringey way I do when I log into my old — password protected — Livejournal account!).
But I have been thinking about that zine a lot in the context of this issue, and what it means for all of us — queer or trans or Black or Indigenous or racialized or disabled or neurodivergent or non-status or otherwise unheard or ignored — to make our own media. It can happen in ways that seem benign, like writing about song lyrics that speak to us, or in ways that are huge, like challenging colonial narratives. In all cases, big or small, these acts of creation and dissemination are radical acts of self-representation and expression; they allow us to connect and find one another, and eventually, to build community. We can start small, and we can end up in a big place we’d never imagined. In my case, it wasn’t the content of my zine that mattered as much as the introduction to the possibility that I could create something that reached other people, that connected me to something larger.
This is why Shameless exists: still fiercely independent, we exist to hold space for folks speaking truth to power. We believe that expertise exists in lived experience, is cultivated through many ways of knowing and is found in diverse communities, including young people. As editors, we work to honour these stories and this knowledge. Shameless feels so small in so many ways, but our intimate meetings over shared food and laughter connect to a community that spans across geographies, identities and visions for collective liberation. Our role is to use print media to make connections between them, with the hopes that those connections can lead to a better world.
Our New Media issue is an attempt to centre the voices of people using media — from print to pixel-based — to help shape the world around them. In it, we re-imagine the role Indigenous-led media plays in decolonization (p. 28), the role of Instagram in creating social change (p. 6), and the role creation can play in survival (p.13). We speak with Sook-Yin Lee (p. 8), Ocean Ruel (p. 9), and Skawennati (p.36) — three brilliant people using media to change the world around them. For us, New Media isn’t a matter of the form it takes, but the capacity it holds — to transform, connect, re-imagine, and, of course, take up space.