Australia’s long had a thriving small press culture but there’s been a marked absence of long-form, in-depth discussion about sexual diversity within the pages of our lit mags. Kickstarting this discussion is independent journal Archer Magazine, whose manifesto is to ‘present engaging, inclusive viewpoints from the myriad genders, sexualities and communities of Australia’. You may have previously learnt about Archer Magazine through social media; Archer’s editorial team is currently crowdfunding issue one through Pozible. KYD online editor Emily Laidlaw chats to journalist and Archer‘s founding editor Amy Middleton about her exciting new venture.
Frankly speaking, how openly is sex discussed in Australia? Without generalising, are we a nation of prudes, in your opinion, or is honest discussion about sexual diversity common?
I don’t think it’s possible to make national generalisations about sexual discussion in Australia because we are so varied in our attitudes. Part of Archer’s manifesto is to capture this diversity of opinion and attitude across Australia. If you’re a gay guy living in a bubble in Sydney’s inner west, for example, it can be easy to forget that prejudice still exists. On the flipside, there are still Australians that have never been exposed to diversity because those conversations just don’t take place within their communities. There is so much variation.
I’m curious about your mission statement: ‘…the photography and style of the magazine will date quickly, creating a relic of our society and the sexual equality movement’. How do you envision Archer Magazine dating quickly – both in terms of design and content?
I started Archer to create a relic of the sexual equality movement; a sort of fossilised account of where Australia is at with our attitudes to diversity. I imagine us reading Archer with fascination in the future – in a time when it seems ridiculous that gay people had to fight for their rights, just as it seems ridiculous now that women couldn’t vote. Because we are presenting attitudes that we assume will date, we’ve encouraged our designers to embrace very current aesthetic trends. We want each issue of Archer to feel very much like a product of its time, a snapshot of that year in more ways than just the content.
Many small Australian magazines and lit journals are turning to Pozible to fund their print issues. Recent examples include The Lifted Brow, Ampersand and Seizure. Amid high print production costs and the growing trend towards online media, do you see crowd funding as a lifeline for print media?
In essence, crowdfunding is just asking customers to pay for a product a little ahead of time. For Archer, our target is a little bigger because we have start-up costs, but in the case of Ampersand, for example, they had their sixth issue ready to print but just needed the money to make it happen. There is honesty and a sense of trust in asking readers for an advance payment on a title they already believe in. It also reinforces the fact that editors don’t create independent publications to make money, they do it for love. For Archer, crowdfunding has also been a handy gauge of public interest. Every person that pledges has purchased a copy of the magazine, so if we can reach our target of $20k, we can already be sure we are publishing to a significant readership.
You recently wrote a blog post for Archer in which you lament the newly formed Coalition government’s attitudes towards gay and lesbian rights. What do you foresee being the biggest challenge for equal opportunity supporters following the election of a conservative government?
I believe that a conservative government, particularly one that is so vocal in its views on sexuality, is a danger to minorities. This is true on a ground level, as well as a legislative one – when a leader is openly discriminatory, it gives the people license to discriminate. As equal rights becomes mainstream, here and all over the world, unfortunately a side-effect is going to be a conservative backlash. It seems a shame that this should be spearheaded by our country’s leader. On the flipside, when marriage equality is legislated for, the decision will be all the more significant under a Liberal government.
Finally, what audience would you most like Archer Magazine to engage with? And what role do you see Archer playing among those who are less responsive to honest discussion about sex?
My intention for Archer was never to make a magazine for a niche audience of left-wing Australians. The first issue of Archer holds relevance in academic, social and cultural circles because it holds a mirror up to our society through the viewpoints of 12 diverse writers. Archer represents diversity, so it would be hypocritical to aim this discussion at one particular group.
Learn more about Archer Magazine at archermagazine.com.au
Pledge your support for Issue One here.