Philadel­phia Queer Elders Project’: queer his­to­ry with vin­tage zines

2 minute read
The Philadelphia Queer Elders Project opens at Vox Populi this weekend. (Image courtesy of Anna Pachner and Katie Rauth)
The Philadelphia Queer Elders Project opens at Vox Populi this weekend. (Image courtesy of Anna Pachner and Katie Rauth)

Origin stories are a funny thing; often, great things come from unexpected places. For Anna Pachner, co-curator of The Philadelphia Queer Elders Project, it's a box of gay zines her brother found on the side of the road. “I immediately knew they were very special and I wanted to share them,” she said. From there, she started the Instagram account @boxofvintagegayzines, where she curated their content for the public until co-curator Katie Rauth proposed an additional, more physical display.

Pachner and Rauth’s zine-centric exhibition will be on display in The Front Space at Vox Populi from Friday, November 1 to Sunday, December 16. There will be a reception on Sunday, November 3 from 3-6pm with a performance from Trust Your Moves chorus at 4pm, and an Archival Dive writing workshop on Thursday, November 14 from 6:30-9:30pm with Berry Grass & Blue Stoop.

On the same page

The exhibit invites visitors to browse the publications and utilizes additional loaned content to further contextualize the environment and political moment in which these works existed. Even the space itself is structured as an idea of what the living room of the zines’ owner might have looked like. Visitors can think critically about what the experience of the readers might have been while also asking drawing comparisons to their own lives—and may be surprised by the similarities.

“The content was a lot more radical [than I expected], and I think lines up with our contemporary idea of queerness; it was just the language that was different sometimes,” Rauth mused. One way in which this manifested was in instances of overt intersectionality and inclusivity, and noticeably less of the trans-exclusionary language for which Pachner, Rauth, and I all had braced ourselves.

As to what makes this exhibition unique, Pachner believes it’s the immediacy and tangibility of the experience. “It’s an opportunity to engage with historic ephemera directly,” she says. “You don’t have to visit an archive, you don’t have to sign in, you don’t have to wear gloves. It’s an opportunity to feel aligned, hopefully, and connected with other generations in the community.”

What, When, Where:

The Philadelphia Queer Elders Project will be on display from Friday, November 1 to Sunday, December 16, 2019, on the third floor at Vox Populi, 319 North 11th Street, Philadelphia, with a reception on Sunday, November 3 from 3-6pm. Trailblazer tickets for the Archival Dive Writing Workshop, set aside for queer elders who were active in the community in the 70s-90s, can be reserved here.

Accessibility: There are five steps into the building and an elevator that is 29 inches wide leading from the first floor to the third which may not accommodate all wheelchairs or motorized chairs. Anyone who may require a ramp to enter the building is encouraged to contact Vox Populi at [email protected] or (215) 238-1236.

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