Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, is a Church of Christ-affiliated college. Seven years ago, a pro-LGBT zine was distributed on campus and caused a firestorm. With the publication of HU Queer Press 2.0, history repeats itself. Shortly after the zine was distributed, campus security officers began throwing them in the trash. The school’s administration said the zines violated university policy.
The anonymous creators behind HU Queer Press 2.0 distributed their 32-page zine both online and as printed copies on the campus of Harding University. But according to the group’s Twitter, campus security picked them up and threw them away. Luckily, the school was reportedly unable to find any of the people distributing the zine.
This is very similar to what happened in 2011. The original HU Queer Press released its own zine, The State of the Gay at Harding University. David Burks, chancellor of Harding University — who was then university president — said the zine was “offensive and degrading.”
But there’s one major difference — the 2011 zine was also put online, and Harding blocked access to it over the campus network. As of yet, the 2018 zine has not been blocked online.
Given the university outcry, actually reading HU Queer Press 2.0 is surprisingly low-key. It’s not a bomb-throwing radical screed. It’s filled with light humor — like a meme of a rainbow flag wearing a cowboy hat captioned “what in lack of representation” — along with a glossary of LGBTQ terms, an interview with the original HU Queer Press, statistics and essays.
The general tone of the zine is one of acceptance. If there’s a central sentence that sums it up, it’s these four words, printed along the bottom of page 11: “We want to belong.”
Harding University being a religious school, there are a number of calls to faith and Bible verses throughout. Most of the zine acts as an LGBT 101 primer.
The biggest call for change is an one-page essay entitled “What We’d Like to See Changed on Campus.” The essay opens with the line “If you ask me, change is usually scary,” and the tone is equally light and friendly. The demands — or “suggestions” as they’re called — are simple. The first is merely “Let us exist.” The second is a request that people actually listen to what they have to say. The third and final one is “acknowledge us in a non-negative light.”
Perhaps that’s the most disturbing thing about this entire situation. This is the dangerous speech the Harding University administration is trying to suppress.