AZ Mag is an online publication for LGBTQI+ people of colour. Founded in 2015, AZ mag was created so QTIBPOC would have a platform to showcase their talents, but also a space to address the issues that QTIBPOC face in their communities. Since its conception AZ Mag has initiated and been involved in a number of incredible projects, most recently the formation of the AZ Creative Fund. We sat down with Editor in Chief Christania DM.
AZ Mag was created in 2015. How has the platform developed? In the last 5 years AZ has evolved into something that I don’t think anyone in the team could’ve imagined! We’ve not only been able to share important stories via our website but also create safe sober spaces for our community and highlight underrepresented musicians and artists by having events and hosting film screenings.
We’ve definitely got our hands in all the pies!
AZ Mag seems to be incredibly multi-faceted, releasing playlists, hosting events both in person and online and running online content. Tell us about your favourite project you’ve been involved in. It’s hard to say which project has been my favourite but I love everything we’ve done on our YouTube channel. All the pre-Rona Pride videos bring me so much joy and I absolutely love our Decades series where we spoke to different people about being LGBTQI+. I hope we can record more stuff in 2021.
How and did your own experience influence the making of AZ? I wanted AZ to be what I needed when I was a teenager trying to figure out who I was and how I fit into the world. So I’m always thinking about how we can help people in the community no matter what stage of their journey they’re on.
As editor-in-chief, how do you find your authors and creatives? Do you look to nurture new, young talent? There’s a form on our website that anyone can complete regardless of their writing ability and location. I’ll commission work from anyone as long as they have a good idea that I think hasn’t been discussed tirelessly.
I find a lot of creatives on social media which is amazing because I get to see work from all over the world. Social media platforms can be really toxic sometimes but honestly, I’ve connected with some incredible people over the years which I’m very grateful for.
Toyin Kenny @toyinkenny
What are some of the written pieces you’ve been most proud of commissioning? I have been so so proud of the articles I have commissioned over the last 5 years. My favourites are really old ones but they’re great.
Actress, Director and all round creative sensation, Babirye Bukilwa wrote a reallyopen and honest articleabout their BPD in 2016 and I really love that piece because they speak so openly about their mental health. It’s a piece that people can relate to which is ultimately what I want for all the articles we publish.
Adrian Expression is an American YouTuber who’s written for us twice and on one occasion he wrote about the ways feminine Black gay men are demonised by society. He explores what it means to unapologetically present in a way that goes against the grain but also the importance of self discovery and personal journeys.
Isaac Eloi, lawyer and great friend of AZ and has written for us a few times but my favourite piece by him is a really honest exploration ofdating as a Black queer man. I feel like he really bared his soul with this piece and just said how he felt which I love and appreciate. I wish more of us weren’t afraid to be honest about our dating experiences.
How have you developed your voice as editor-in-chief? I wish I had a really profound answer to this question but honestly, I’ve learnt to really trust my gut and be honest with my feedback and choices.
The magazine was created to address issues of under-representation of POC in the LGBTQI+ scene. How has the scene changed? There seems to be more visibility for queer and trans people of colour which is positive because representation matters. I really enjoy seeing all the collectives, initiatives, companies etc that are led by people in our community, it really brings me joy.
For us by us!
How have been adapting to the need for events to be online – how has this impacted creating safe spaces for community building? It’s been tough to be honest but we held virtual AZ Hubs earlier this year and they still had the same vibe that the in person events have. One major benefit to hosting the events online is the accessibility for people who don’t live in London or in the UK. I’m ecstatic that more people have the opportunity to attend one of our events.
What excites you most about the responses you’ve had to AZ and the community you’ve built so far? The most exciting responses have been from people I wouldn’t expect to hear from. Like parents who are trying to figure out the best way to support their queer or trans child or getting emails or messages from places wherebeing out is illegal. I’ll always be shocked by the countries that our little website has reached.
You’ve recently partnered with DJ Mag to support young Black creatives – are there any exciting projects coming up that you’re able to tell us about? We have a lot of big plans for 2021 but I can’t share most of them. I would suggest keeping an eye out on our socials for the AZ Creative Fund applications re-opening, we have five more grants to giveaway.
What will AZ mag be looking to address as we move further into 2021? I think we want to continue giving a voice to those who need it especially as our community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.