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Q&A: Montreal’s Queer Between the Covers

Now in its sixth year, Montreal’s Queer Between the Covers book fair puts the spotlight on queer publishers, zine distros, independent bookstores, artists, and authors.

Co-organizer Kat Bradley spoke to Q&Q about the event, which takes place on Aug. 17 during Pervers/Cité, a social-justice, community-run festival billed as an alternative to Montreal Pride.

What are the origins of Queer Between the Covers? The first book fair was held in 2008. It started out as a project of the collective Qteam, which noted there were no bookstores in Montreal dedicated to queer cultural production. There haven’t been since L’Androgyne closed in 2002. That is part of what inspired it: Why don’t we have a space where we can always go get these books we want so desperately, and see what new things are coming out. It’s frustrating to not have a location where that can happen.

How has the event grown? The first year there were six or seven tables, a couple of bookstores, and some zine people. It’s been pretty big over the last couple years, but this year we have 40 tables, more than ever before. Every year we’ve expanded, had different bookstores participate, including Glad Day from Toronto, Venus Envy from Ottawa, and the Co-op Bookstore from Montreal. I think we’ve also done a good job of increasing the number of local zine makers and distributors, as well as some from out of town. We now have a couple hundred people coming in and out of the room.

Who attends the fair? We get a wide range of people. Last year there was some coverage of us in the Montreal Gazette, and a teacher came in, waving this clipping around saying, I’m always trying to find young adult literature that has queer and trans content. She was so excited to browse this wide selection. We have stuff that goes across age groups, from kids to adults and young adults. It’s also a place for those who are looking for less of a party space during Pride.

How do you draw attendees? The event is free. We want everything as accessible as we can make it, in terms of physical and financial accessibility. We hold it on Montreal Pride’s Community Day, where local NGOs and businesses have tables on Sainte-Catherine. We’re always a couple blocks away to hopefully bring in people who didn’t necessarily plan on attending a queer book fair.

Are you involved in other queer book events? We do other events year-round with a similar focus. We held a launch for two books from New York’s Topside Press, which focuses on queer and trans literature: Imogen Binnie’s novel Nevada and The Collection, an anthology of trans literature that featured some Montreal writers. We’ve also been collaborating with Concordia University Library to co-present an exhibition of LGBT magazines and zines from Canada, the U.S., and Europe.

Queer Between the Covers takes place Aug. 17 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Comité Social Centre-Sud, 1710 Beaudry. The Concordia University Library exhibition of LGBT magazines and zines runs until Aug. 31.

This interview has been edited and condensed.