Publication ‘I Don’t Do Boxes’ explores queer creativity

The plate glass has been removed from the old storefront and the space once occupied by window displays now houses three swings. Behind this, in the old thrift store turned museum, the editors of “I Don’t Do Boxes” — a publication focused on Queer Southern stories — discussed the newest issue.

“I like that it’s queerly shaped,” said one of the editors seated around a hodgepodge of tables, as he examined a mockup of the magazine the size and shape of a CD case.

The place is Elsewhere: a museum made from the collection of one Sylvia Gray, who practiced what Elsewhere calls “Hoardiculture” for over 50 years. The collection includes everything from electronics and musical instruments to buttons and zipper pulls. It is frequently re-arranged into art displays by resident artists or passing patrons.

In addition to the ever-shifting artwork, Elsewhere also has ongoing projects — such as the nightly co-op dinner and QueerLab, which works with LGBTQA youth to produce “I Don’t Do Boxes.”

The first issue was published last year, with 35 submissions from around the country; about half came from North Carolina.

This year there were more than 70, including some from the U.K. and Canada.

While there are no limitations to where submissions can come from, the magazine focuses on Southern stories.

In addition, the editors are all Southerners — something unique to “I Don’t Do Boxes.”

“Being from the North … I kind of had a hard time adjusting (to the South), even though Greensboro is fairly liberal,” said first-year Ellie Weiner, rising PRIDE officer. “It’s good to have that place where people can share their stories, in (a place) where LGBTQA people aren’t accepted as much.”

At this meeting, the editors performed triage on the submissions of art, writing and music before gathering in the communal kitchen for Pad Thai and blondies.

“(Editing) is another creative outlet,” said editor Allen Moore, a high school junior and former Elsewhere intern. “(It is) a way to view other people being creative.”

Over dinner, Chris Kennedy, education curator at Elsewhere, shared some history of “I Don’t Do Boxes.”

A project of QueerLab and GSAFE — a Greensboro organization dedicated to LGBTQA youth — “I Don’t Do Boxes” includes both what Kennedy described as the “typical coming out story” as well as a “cornucopia” of other works on being queer.

In the last issue, entitled “School’s Out,” a gay young man from San Francisco reflects on past girlfriends, a teenager from N.C. conducts a queer Tarot reading and an ACLU legislative representative who works on LGBTQA issues shares his inspiration.

Other articles explore queer Hip Hop music, give tips on safe chest binding for those who present as male and list ten ways to practice consent. The last was written by Eric Ginsburg ’10, former staff reporter for the Guilfordian.

This diversity is different from other LGBTQA publications, which can “over-sexualize bodies and primarily cater to white men with privilege,” said Kennedy.

“I’m just excited to have something that’s focused on the creativity that comes out of the queer community,” said sophomore Cara Messina, secretary of Guilford’s PRIDE club. “People who aren’t necessarily famous artists, poets or writers can still have their voices heard by a wider audience.”