Detour, the University’s newest and only queer-focused publication, is fresh on the scene but years in the making. Sasha Sabater ’17 and Leneil Roderique ’17 realized at the beginning of fall 2014 that the University, while in many ways a supportive space for the queer community, did not have a publication for the many queer students on campus to have their voices heard.
“There’s no consolidated space for queers on campus, or even a publication,” Sabater said. “That’s insane, especially on a campus like Wesleyan, and we should do something about it. It’s an idea that has always been at the back of our minds, but we’d never actually worked on until pretty recently.”
The publication will be entirely online, and Roderique explained that the launch of Detour has been delayed by complications with Squarespace, the website building platform on which Detour will reside. The website requires monthly payments, and though the SBC has been supportive of the magazine, the organization does not have a structure in place for recurring payments. Those financial complications have since been sorted out, and the site is set to launch before the end of spring break.
Sabater and Roderique held a general interest meeting a few weeks ago to seek out contributors for Detour, receiving much positive attention from the student body.
“There was a lot of interest and support from the entire Wesleyan community,” Roderique said. “Everyone agreed that we need this, and where was this all along? Where was our queer publication? So we’ve been getting support. It’s just a matter of getting people to contribute content for it.”
Sabater agreed that amassing contributions has been one of the publication’s largest struggles.
“It’s easy to say, ‘I’m down with this,’ but everyone is so busy and has so much work, so it’s difficult to get people to actually submit things that they said they were interested in doing,” she said. “What we have to do is make sure they follow through with it.”
At this stage in the publication’s progress, Detour does not assign articles. There is no masthead or staff list.
“Mainly, we’re being as collaborative as possible,” Sabater said.
The first issue will have a statement written by Sabater explaining the intent and importance of Detour to the University’s queer community. The issue will also contain poetry submissions, a list of demands by the queer community for President Michael Roth, an article by Roderique disputing the idea that New York City is completely open and safe for queer individuals, and a photo diary by Rick Manayan ’17 of New York Fashion Week.
“The content doesn’t have to be exclusively queer,” Sabater said. “We just want a space for queer people to produce and put out their creative work.”
Detour will be created entirely by queer individuals, and its ultimate mission is to create a visible platform for the creative works of queer students.
Both Roderique and Sabater live in Open House, which they cite as part of the reason that they developed the confidence to launch this publication. Although the two credit Open House with creating a space for them to live among other queer students, they acknowledged the limitations of a queer space that can house only seven people. In the future, Roderique hopes that members of Open House will contribute to Detour to create a voice and unified public presence for the house.
Although the publication will be limited to University contributors, both Roderique and Sabater see Detour’s content as representative of the queer experience in the United States at large.
“Even in New York, you can’t express yourself openly,” Roderique said. “There was a guy who was shot on the street in the West Village, which is, like, the most queer place in New York City. I feel like here, I’m able to do what I want, wear what I want, say what I want, cross my legs if I want. I don’t have to think about my sexuality here. In New York there are times when I have to edit myself, which sucks.”
“Personally, it’s so important to me, growing up and still right now, knowing that I’m gay,” Sabater said. “In terms of media representations, there’s not a lot, and it’s not often that relatable, but you grab onto it because it’s gay….I really would like it if the queer community shares things on Detour from the outside world that are queer and that they like. I feel like that’s so important for a queer person.”
Sabater and Roderique hope that the magazine will be a place to share queer experiences, both inside and outside of the University, in a safe space created by queer students.
“It keeps you sane,” Sabater said. “It’s so important.”