When Room [of One’s Own] launched into the Vancouver literary scene in 1975, lesbian members of the collective steered the magazine to create greater visibility of lesbian art, writing, and criticism. Gayla Reid, one of Room’s co-founders, said members challenged themselves to take stock of how their own homophobia, internalized or otherwise, was inadvertently influencing decision-making about the publication. As a result of these efforts, the collective advocated for publication of queer writers who pushed literary boundaries, including contributors such as Betsy Warland, Nicole Brossard, and Daphne Marlatt.
In the magazine’s first decade, collective members were feminists from the left, lesbian separatists, and mainstream feminists—mostly white and middle class. It should come as no surprise that the magazine’s content reflected its members. In later years, as feminism—and the collective—has evolved, the magazine has taken greater care to feature a more nuanced, inclusive, and intersectional approach to gender and sexuality.
This issue is an opportunity for Room to amplify the queer voices that continue to propel the magazine forward, while also representing the joys and challenges of contemporary queer lives. The writers and artists herein add a queer lens to fairy tales and history; reflect on the notion of family and community; and explore love, regret, trauma, and illness—each controlling the ways in which their own stories are told.
As our commissioned writer, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, says in the final lines of the poem “The Stories You Tell to Save Your Life”: “Maybe the gift of queerness is nothing is as it has to be // Maybe the gift of being a storyteller is I can keep rewriting my story.”