My Gay Toronto - 416 Scene

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Fuck You: A Zine About Family

by Drew Rowsome -

Queer, punk and literature collided on folded sheets of urgently mimeographed paper to become zines. What the mainstream couldn't handle, the precursor to self-publishing revelled in. Bruce LaBruce's J.D.s was a slap in the face with a hard cock, a tongue-in-cheek, tongue-in-ass, call to arms for a sexual revolution that was, at the time, only a fantasy. J.D.s was also a lot of smutty fun.

Before the internet replaced them, there were zines for established bands, underground bands, political groups, pornography and probably even cat fanciers, but most of all there were gay zines. At one point Glad Day Bookshop had an entire packed shelf competing with the glossy and the stroke magazines. So it's only fitting that provocateur artist Raymond Helkio would dig into the past to shape the future for the benefit of the always financially struggling Glad Day.

Helkio has curated an ezine (there is also a limited edition hardcopy) entitled Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Fuck You. Between the covers one finds art relating to the theme of "family" or as Helkio frames it, "The family ties that bind (and gag)."

In this context "family" means a lot of different things - every queer is familiar with the difference between biological family and chosen family - and the contributors feel free to bend the word to their will. Most of the names are familiar as cornerstones on the Toronto and Canadian art scene and I have to add a disclaimer that almost all of them are either colleagues past or present, acquaintances or at least Facebook friends of mine.

Playwright Brad Fraser provides a devastating pen and ink drawing. Keith Cole offers a moving ode to his mother which also contains some advice to live by. Former fab columnist Rolyn Chambers is as offensive as he is incisive and hilarious. David Bateman contributes two pieces from an upcoming book which, judging by "Virginia," will be a must-read. Brock Hessell, Amy J Lester and Helkio himself, all contribute poetry that is easily digestible and pointed. Reg Hartt's reminiscence is as defiant as the man himself and startlingly concise. The great Paul Bellini's piece is almost too concise, his dry wit teetering between touching and a stream of laugh-out-loud punchlines.

Only one piece goes on too long, the rest are bite-sized bits of comedy, anger, sentiment and commentary on the state of the queer world. The irony of  Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Fuck You's electronic format is steep, but referring to one's phone or tablet is not that far removed from pulling smudged, folded newsprint out of one's pocket or handbag for a quick pick-me-up perusal. And with all the proceeds going to Glad Day, it's an investment in the health of the gay printed word.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Fuck You is available at

Glad Day Bookshop is at 598 Yonge St.