FORTUNE, a zine centering around queer Asian perspectives, presents Year of the Rat, a lunar new year and release party taking place Wednesday, January 22, at 6pm at The Rotunda. Following a year of monthly print publications, organizers Andrienne (Andra) Palchick and Heidi Ratanavanich, plus collaborator Sarah Kim (who helmed the event at the Rotunda), speak with BSR about 12 months of FORTUNE content, queer Asian perspectives, and what lies ahead.
Creating a communal space
Originally inspired by A/Public, a 2018 show by queer Asian artists, there was a moment when all the artists in the room realized how few of them had been in a room where everyone was queer and Asian, recalls Ratanavanich. “It was a pretty distinct and unique experience, and maintaining those connections felt important.” That took the form of FORTUNE, which has created both an in-print and in-person space that didn’t previously exist for the queer Asian community.
Kim appreciates the different approaches to and perspectives on Asian American identity FORTUNE and its contributors highlighted. “It brought together people who wanted to create contemporary [identity]—not modern or cool, but a form of identity that is separate from other sort of stereotype markers of Asian American identity that I feel more connected to or comfortable around,” they explained.
Year of the Rat welcomes attendees with food (including vegetarian and vegan options) available at 6pm and a musical and theatrical lineup starting at 7pm that includes Ana Roxanne, Diaspoura, Annielille "Ani" Gavino, Wo Chan, Madam Data, and Raverbaba. Vendors including Clay Kitchen Studio, Pear Ware, Serena Hocharoen, and Sun Song will have items for purchase throughout the evening as well.
Past, Present, and Future
For those left speculating about the future of FORTUNE, fret not. Financial backing from The Velocity Fund has made a second printing possible, and a limited run of 50 box sets containing all 13 issues is planned for a late summer release. Some will be available for sale, and others they hope to distribute to community libraries and book spaces so those who weren’t able to purchase their own copies will still have access.
Although FORTUNE has reached the end of its year-long goal, the future seems promising. “It might look a little different in terms of what our production is, but I think we want to stay working within this community and working within print has been really important to us,” Palchick says.
What, When, Where
Year of the Rat takes place Wednesday, January 22, at 6pm at The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St., Philadelphia. Entry is $5 to $10 at the door (sliding scale) and free for people of color.
There is a ramp into the building and some seating will be available.
Correction: A previous version of this article failed to identify Sarah Kim as the organizer of the January 22 event. We regret the error.