Anders Billund Phibbs is a 17-year-old queer artist and activist, and the founder of QYA Magazine, a Minneapolis-based online queer arts periodical. In his work, Anders illustrates and identifies much of what is wrong with the commercial and commodified image of queer people and what it means to be queer.
SSP: You describe QYA as a queer art magazine. What role do you see art playing in your personal politics and activism?
Anders: In a way, it’s not that art and activism are separate, but they are inherently intertwined. On a surface level, the arts are an arm of activism in a distributary way, like making a poster or a sign or a protest song, but also the arts give a campaign an emotional basis. It takes it from theory to reality. For people who are downtrodden, on the basis of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, it’s a way to go deeper than marches and arguments, to say, “This hurts,” in a way that’s accessible to people that might not understand all that.
SSP: You wrote an article in the first issue of QYA about the commodification of queerness. Do you see reversal of that as a goal of your work?
Anders: I wouldn’t presume that any of my work would reverse the tide of queer commodification or advertising to queers. I wouldn’t make that leap. I believe that in a time with this really really sanitized version of queerness, this erasure of queer history and activism, the only thing you can do is provide an alternative. I’m not going to go up to a corporate headquarters and be an angry queer. It’s not the sort of thing you can build a movement with. To me, just having an authentic queer space is a piece of that reclamation. Our voices aren’t in our own mouths anymore, it’s become this moneyed, white, cis [where individuals’ experiences of their own gender agree with the sex they were assigned at birth] thing, where the representation is all “Modern Family.” You get a unilateral image of rich, cis white gay dudes, and that’s unfair, but it makes sense, because that’s what sells to people. I don’t care about selling anything, I don’t want to appease straight people, I don’t want to give them what they know. I want to be honest, and have us speak.
SSP: What do you see as the future of QYA?
Anders: QYA is something that’s very important to me, and it’s something I put a lot of time and effort into, but I don’t see it as something I’ll do when I’m 20. I’m not turning it into a franchise, I’m not building a brand. Its something that feels good now, and later on I’ll probably do something else. So as for the future of QYA, I’m living issue to issue until I run out of local queer artists I guess.
Here is a poem by Anders:
Exiting my house
The boy, his pants up,
He beckons, the tightening
Of the wrist—
Come. Engage in this.
I, in no mood to
Defy, even when I
Can, say Sure as robotics
Tobacco, and the wave.
The humid smiles, more a desperate
Break in the lips for
And it’s up, the tightening of the seal
As sons do—
This name is X—a floating
Head in a sweaty, brutal world
Of strong, certain sentences
And quiet exchanges.
The ball is salt, shaved rock.
Point A and Point B
Might as well be enemies.
Below is an excerpt from “Profile. The Value of queer space in a new world,” an article in QYA magazine by Anders.
“In this age, it isn’t enough for queer artists to lean in. Inserting oneself into straight society has the dual effect of making institutions seem inclusive and “diverse” while diminishing the profile and power of the individuals involved. It’s a death wish for an apparatus that has not, does not, and will not ever consider them a whole and powerful person.”
To find the first issue of QYA please visit http://issuu.com/qyamagazine/docs/qya_1.