Co-editors Julieta Salgado and Charles Theonia on work-love boundaries, meetings in underwear, and finding your place within a community of resistance.
femmescapes is a “zine of queer + trans affinities with femmeness,” co-edited by Julieta Salgado, and Charles Theonia. Julieta is a translator and photographer who works with unhoused LGBTQ youth at the Ali Forney Center; Charles is a poet and teacher at Borough of Manhattan Community College. In femmescapes V.1, contributors like Reina Gossett, Porpentine Charity Heartscape, and Jamie Berrout imagine being femme and making art without the threat of gendered violence. After taking a transatlantic flight that leaves her “having a Wednesday that’s longer than 24 hours,” Reina Gossett wonders:
“What would it look like to make art about my condition? The condition of the freak, the condition of the outlaw. Art that would turn towards & increase my lawlessness & my lewdness, my disintegration and incoherence. Art that might bring me shame.”
In femmescapes V.2, artists and writers discuss what it feels like to be femme under worsening authoritarianism. How can femmes protect themselves and each other? How can femme-ness be used to fight back against an anti-femme state?
In addition to being co-editors, Julieta and Theonia are also a couple. Working with a partner is difficult; it’s hard to be critiqued by someone you love. But Salgado and Theonia make it feel okay by respecting each other’s schedules, setting work/life boundaries, and sharing the project with a friend, zine designer Abigail Lloyd.I spoke to Julieta and Charles over Twitter and Gmail and, in the meantime, looked at adorable Instagram pics of them in greenhouses at the Brooklyn Botanical gardens, bottom caption: “fern 4 flower.”
How did you decide to make this zine?
Julieta Salgado: It started with us fantasizing about another world, The Femmescape, as a place we could live and love without the fear of many violences. I think Charles named the idea of a zine and that just seemed way more tangible than forging a portal to a parallel femme universe, you know? The cover of Vol. 1 is of a portal made by Adee Roberson. I hope our zine feels like a mini world our readers can enter and feel seen.
What does femmeness mean to you, and has that changed from V.1 to V.2?
JS: I have way too much to say about my femmeness ... In relation to our zines, I went from wanting to escape this reality to seriously considering what risks I will take to fight fascism. These days, I dress as cute as ever but with a side of I-might-have-to-join-this-black-bloc-real-quick, on some insurgent femme shit! But that’s really it. My ability to fight or fly has always been the very center of my gender and that’s extra salient right now.