An Open Door For All Out Voices

There are invisibility issues, second-year English major Cait O’Connor said, on this campus and in print.

Closet Door — a new LGBTQ art and literary zine to be published for the first time this semester, will show that the queer community has options, third-year Dana Hershkowitz said.

O’Connor and Hershkowitz said they were approached by Student Association (SA) Vice President and member of the Queer Student Union E-board Zachary Rousseas, who made a general inquiry about expanding the New Paltz LGBTQ community.

In the spirit of newly instituted campus clubs such as the Drag Club and Queer Punks for Poetry, Hershkowitz and O’Connor, both English majors, saw an opportunity to call attention to and acknowledge the importance of LGBTQ writers and artists.

Hershkowitz said her hope is that the project will become a staple of campus — much like The Oracle and The Fahari Libertad, which are currently the only student-run periodicals actively publishing.

“[One of the goals is to] get alternative voices out there,” Hershkowitz said.

Being able to find printed copies of Closet Door across campus would embody an LGBTQ presence in the form of literature — something currently lacking on campus, Hershkowitz said.

Its presence, she said, means LGBTQ students would no longer feel as though their only option is to “feverishly scour the Internet to find the resources they want or need.”

Hershkowitz said with the existence of Closet Door, students won’t have to seek out these voices — they will just be present.

“Open it and there is queer existence,” O’Connor said.

Inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement and the feminist zines that were integral to its development, O’Connor said zines are the best medium for this venture because of their informal nature and easy to digest format.

“There’s space to make a mess,” O’Connor said.

The crude cut and paste aesthetic of zines is approachable, O’Connor said, and having them take up space on campus — in a tangible print form — will hopefully tackle the problem of a void in LGBTQ literature in New Paltz.

“There are a lack of available places to submit [LGBTQ students’] work,” Hershkowitz said.

Hershkowitz said written work or art made specifically for an LGBTQ audience may not fit conventional publications — that writers and artists may fear their work is too niche.

“They don’t want to have to explain their work, or worry about it being too gay,” she said.

Hershkowitz said she wants Closet Door to be an accurate portrayal of the stories and people within the LGBTQ community — a creative outlet that creates dialogue with artists and writers in an effort to promote and increase understanding.

“There are a lot of different values and opinions [in the LGBTQ community],” Hershkowitz said. “I want this to be representative of that.”

The submission and editing process will be an open-ended one, Hershkowitz said, where contributors will have the chance to collaborate and workshop their work. But if they prefer not to, submissions will be accepted as is.

“People’s opinions are their truth,” she said.

Closet Door‘s first issue will be released online as well as  produce a limited run of hard copies.

Hershkowitz said she is apprehensively optimistic about producing at least one issue per semester but “two would be ideal.”

Closet Door is currently accepting submissions, including anonymous works, at