The Arts world is one filled with self-expression and introspection, whether from artist or from audience member. Naturally, this translates into many different ways of approaching the LGBTQ+ experience. For Pride Month, Daily Arts wanted to cover this self-search and love through our favorite forms of art, with this experience revealing more to the reader and writer about how many ways there are to celebrate and reflect on queerness.
Upon her arrival at the University of Michigan, LSA junior Shoshana Weinstein noticed a discernible lack of LGBTQ+ representation in the student journalism scene. Through her involvement with other student organizations, she took note of a sizable population of the U-M student body whose perspectives were neither recognized nor amplified. She expected there to be some institution in place devoted to queer and trans writers amid the hundreds of U-M student organizations, but she found nothing of the sort.
In the fall of 2019, Weinstein, along with the help of a dedicated creative team and the U-M Spectrum Center, founded The Michigan Gayly. The Gayly is the University’s first and only paper dedicated to uplifting and showcasing queer and trans writers and their work.
The Gayly is a celebration of queer and trans existence, seeking to highlight the journalism, creative writing and visual art of writers and artists in the U-M community. Queer students, throughout time, have had unique perspectives on political, cultural and artistic issues. The Gayly provides the visibility and freedom of expression that traditional newspapers lack. It is a dynamic blend of newspaper and literary magazines, where writers have a great deal of freedom in the content they create. Since its conception in the fall of 2019, The Gayly has accumulated over 20 staff writers, in addition to dozens of contributors who submit prose, poetry and visual art periodically.
Weinstein emphasizes that although much of The Gayly’s mission is rooted in social and political commentary, it also strives to be a medium for artistic expression and pop-culture hot takes.
“We want to highlight queer joy, and allow the queer community on campus to define itself in ways that aren’t always centered on pain and suffering,” Weinstein said in an interview with The Michigan Daily. “I think that a lot of cishet narratives of queer people really like to focus on the obstacles they face; it’s really important to talk about, to think about and have stories about (those issues), but eventually it feels like … the only time you see yourself represented is through stories of pain and suffering.”
Combatting the seemingly predetermined narratives of oppression and suffering is no easy task, but the writing and editorial team of The Gayly does so with grace. “My philosophy has always been that people should write the stories that they care about,” Weinstein said. As such, The Gayly takes a more open-ended approach to the content they create, allowing for a great deal of artistic flexibility on the part of their contributors.
While staff writers contribute to The Gayly on a regular basis, it welcomes contributors of varying levels of interest. Weinstein asserts that “everyone is welcome” and that prospective contributors need not worry about a lack of writing experience. The advantageous combination of passionate writers and a robust editorial team consistently puts out high-caliber content, ranging from articles discussing the availability of contraceptives on campus to profiles of prolific queer poets such as Sappho.
Daily Arts writer Darby Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.