Shameless for 15 Years
Illustration: Beena Mistry
Shameless has always been a gorgeous glittery beacon in the mainstream dark horizon of CanLit. It has consistently been an outlet to give youth a platform to talk about subjects and issues directly affecting them. Not only that - Shameless’ unwavering commitment to anti-oppression and social justice has tangibly extended into its Youth Advisory Board, which directly influences what content gets published and provides resources to youth in a way that is so rare.
I often take for granted how special and essential this is - nurturing and tangibly supporting young writers and creators. Unfortunately, we’re not living in a time where we can take media sources like Shameless for granted. Fascism, racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, violence, and conservatism are outwardly rampant and becoming more and more acceptable to speak freely about, and traditional media outlets play a huge role in controlling and reinforcing those mindsets ferociously on a 24 hour cycle.
Shameless was the first place I ever published any writing, and I will always be so grateful in them believing in me. Now I continue to write freelance occasionally for Quill and Quire and have been building up the confidence working on my creative work (primarily poetry) and have been published a few times.
Photo of Jackie Mlotek by Jamieson Williams
The editorial processes were always so thoughtful and it has always felt like a perfect mentor ship and partnership with all of the editors I’ve worked on my online and print pieces, some of them massive features I was at liberty to structure and interview folks with a lot of free reign, but always with guidance and support along the way. I have always felt so supported and encouraged to be the best possible writer I can be.
We need Shameless as always, to continue creating work that centres youth, women, trans folks, BIPOC writers and artists, and however those identities may meet. We need to nurture each other and resist with counter narratives that focus on envisioning a future that listens and supports youth, because I believe that is the only way we can build a future.
This cut to Shameless’ funding and many other spectacular Ontario and Canadian publications is a direct affront to young writers and artists who need it most, and it’s abhorrent. Shameless is a place to learn about emerging or established artists, cool exhibits, thoughtful perspectives on pop culture and current sociopolitical issues, and so much more. There really is no other publication like Shameless in Canada - print and online, and with the Youth Advisory Board - and it is essential for young people.
Shameless really changed so much in my life. It was huge for me to read widely from my peers about art, culture, and current affairs. I didn’t think my opinion was worthwhile as a teen and Shameless proved that was so wrong. Most importantly, I think what makes Shameless so essential - every print issue, and many blog posts - are held together by the idea that you, as a young person, have agency. You have a voice, you can use it, and you should use it to speak out against injustice and to build communities. You have choices. You deserve information and nuance and cool role models and recipes and funny comics or really heart-wrenching personal stories that can make you feel less alone.