Since becoming acquainted, we have all celebrated our queerness, loved our queerness and talked about queer stuff endlessly, with equal amounts of passion and frustration. As a microcosm of this group dynamic our Whatsapp group has been an endlessly positive and safe space for queer reflections, expressions, questions and discourses around queer theory, suitably peppered with Drag Race GIFS and plans for meet-ups at Queens Court that lock-down put a swift end to. On our phones then, in our safe cyber group, we laugh, we analyze and we ironize ourselves and our inability to assimilate into the mainstream. We moan about where we are and where we cannot be. We ridicule representation that somehow resists and distorts the reality our own queer experiences. We lament our absence in our own environment. We resent the representation that has been afforded to us. But we, like many others, voice these frustrations in an insular and self-referential discourse in the simultaneously inclusive and exclusive network of a Whatsapp group. We are sat in an hermetic space that is just, for want of a better phrase, merely another ‘other’ in a binary of opposition and resentment.

Queerness is a set of ideas propounded in queer theory, for those who can find the time and resources to read the works of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault and Eve Sedgwick. Queerness is the experience of being moved, against your will, to the margins of the mainstream, paralyzed in the periphery and gazing at the centre. Queerness is the lingering sense of displacement and dislocation in a landscape of heteronormativity. Queerness is not seeing your fractured, complex and multi-layered selves on the screen, in literature and in the media. Queerness is monitoring those monolithic moulds of masculinity and femininity for signs, even traces, of something resembling your view of yourself in this chaotic world. Queerness is coming out again and again as you meet new people and start new jobs. Queerness is pre-empting people’s confusions and (non)reactions towards the differences that you exhibit. We don’t want queerness to be only at Pride for those are able to attend, in queer literature that people are privileged enough to be able to afford and can read or to be something that you experience as part of a university module on ‘Sex and Gender’.

Queerness is so much more than this. Queerness is colour, art, experience, life, love, sex, creativity, and it is everywhere. And it is from these convictions that Queerlings came to fruition. We were tired of sitting with our own frustrations within the echo chamber of our Whatsapp group. The writing selected for this issue captures the diversity of queer experiences that are, and continue to be, both within and all around us. The work showcased here are divergent in tone, structure, thematic concern and as such they articulate the complexities and multiplicities of queer experience. We have been lucky enough to receive work from writers who have not been afraid to use their writing to express their queerness in all its uncomfortable and complex realities, through a range of fictional and factual modes of representation. We hope that you enjoy our first issue but more importantly, we hope that you see your experiences and identities represented in the work here.

The Queerlings Editors