What would it be to hear queer music?
Speak, and the world is full of singing.Freddy Eynsford-Hill
Wipe away the glitter, dim the sequins’ reflected klieg glare, clip the bell-bottoms’ wings, and listen, if you can, to ABBA without accoutrement. Is there queerness there, immanent in the catchy strains of pop perfection that made “Waterloo” the single greatest number in the camp carnival Eurovision Song Contest’s history? Do we hear it in Sylvester’s head voice, or the soul with which it brims? In the forbidden promises of Ursula’s burlesque seductions in The Little Mermaid, or Scar’s brooding refusal of the family order in The Lion King? Is West Side Story gay-by-gay-Bernstein? Or is there the rumble of queerness in its chords—in, say, the “Quintet,” with the daggerlike pathos of the Sharks’ and Jets’ mutual minor-key accusation, “They began it, they began it,” cutting the lovers’ dreamy phantasies of “Tonight”?
If queerness has, as a pedant’s passion for precision would insist, an essential link with alterity, then perhaps it’s right to hear it in counterpoint and modulation—not cacophony, quite, but the tempering of major chords with the strains of the minor. Or perhaps queerness in music is always rubato: there in the quickening of a heartbeat, a moment’s pleasure stolen.
To claim that tune, perhaps all we need find is a sort of swoony sensuousness—we being a sensuous people, a people of tastes.
Dogmas for the use of the ages.
- 0The practiced chill of postmodern cool is the queer art of the past.
- 1The queer art of the future draws strength from the intellectual challenges of gentleness and the emotional risks of love. It is work with blood in it.
- 2The next queer artists are virtuosos of swoon, and swish, and style. They are fabulous—divine. Glamor in art does not belong to power.
- 3The history of the arts is the history of queer elegy. Art history is the history of queer erasure. This violence is not accidental.
- 4Ours was the voice of Socrates’ Athens; ours was the voice of Baldwin’s Paris. With Woolf we sang modernity; with Shakespeare, the age of the individual. Queerness is not a part of world history—queerness is world-historical.
- 5Art is not a product of history, history is a work of art.
- 6The last time a critical mass of queer artists emerged, we called it the Renaissance.
- 7The queer art of the future is the art of the future.
Ignota Magazine is an all-LGBTQ artistic and cultural journal dedicated to amplifying a distinctively queer artistic voice. We seek to present this voice in forms befitting its divergence, using technically sophisticated tools to bring it to audiences in ways impossible via traditional publishing. More than a mere vessel, Ignota aims to be an exquisite artifact in itself. Decanted, deciphered, and divine, Ignota will showcase the brilliance of the queer voice in a style that exalts and enhances its substance.
Subscribe to our newsletter.
Subscribers enjoy early access to new issues, previews of unpublished content from Ignota’s editors and contributors, and occasional discounts on future magazine subscriptions and swag.
We don’t sell or share your personal data or spam you, ever. How gauche.
Ask us things, please.
Okay, so what is all this?A
Ignota Magazine is an online literary and arts issue-based publication by and for queer people. It is the first project of The Ignota Media Corporation, a publishing startup with the goal of amplifying voices historically unheard in the industry.
What do you publish?A
Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, visual art, music, video, digital interactive content, and anything else imaginable and unimagined from emerging and established queer creators.
What do you mean by queer?A
Gay, bi, lesbian, trans, and so on. We don’t believe “queer” is a contentless, infinite category, but we do think of it as an expansive one.
What’s different about you?A
We’re not a current-events, pop-culture, or entertainment platform—not that those things aren’t important. We also believe in producing content with technological and aesthetic sophistication in order to curate a powerful queer voice. We go beyond the text-on-a-page model of web publication to showcase work in unexpected ways that take advantage of our digital medium.
What’s a “queer voice”?A
Focusing on a queer voice means that our mission goes beyond publishing work by and for queer people. We aim to publish strains of queerness that can be traced back in art and literature throughout history and around the world.
The editors of Ignota are Lambda Literary Award winner Ryka Aoki, Lambda Literary Award loser merritt k, and Lambda Literary Emerging Voice in Nonfiction Daniel Shannon. So, you know, we know a thing or two about queer art and literature.
What’s with the name?A
We borrowed it from the name of a still-untranslatable secret language invented in the 12th century by the prophet, saint, and abbess Hildegard of Bingen: the Lingua Ignota. Hildegard’s Lingua was not just a seer’s holy script, her closest approximation of the language of God, but a tool and agent of community. It moved in the women who were her charge, securing and uniting them as surely as the abbey walls they had reclaimed the property that was their birthright to raise from nothing. We believe that such is precisely the power and promise of language: to bind together and to set apart. Not for nothing, Hildegard was herself what we would today have the dignity and good sense to call queer.
The Lingua also furnished our logo—a q in our prophet and patron saint’s world-making private language.
How can I learn more?
This June, we throw “The First Brick.”
The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.Isaiah 9:10
Raised in solemnity or hefted in rage, placed with care or hurled with abandon, damming up tumult or shaping space for the novel, harbinger of order or perpetrator of chaos, agent or artifact of change. Creation and devastation: even in the cornerstone is something of catastrophe; even in the projectile, something of promise.
At every endeavor’s emergence, someone reaches down—graceful or fumbling—and feels for the raw materials that will shape it. What resources are to hand? How can they be (mis)used? We invoke the image of the first brick as a contested symbol of queer history to inspire reflections on our past beginnings and imaginings of new ones.
Launching online in June 2017, “The First Brick,” Ignota’s inaugural issue, features ingenious work by daring artists working on and in the queer artistic voice. Subsequent issues will début to subscribers quarterly. Sign up for our newsletter to receive early-access previews of forthcoming issues before they’re available to the public.
Ignota is currently seeking fiction, nonfiction, poetry, visual art, music, video, digital interactive content, and anything else imaginable and unimagined from emerging and established queer-identified creators. You can pitch us something spectacular below, or contact the editors with questions.
Please note: pitches are currently closed for our first issue, but we’d love to see you in Issues 2 and 3! Find out more at the link below.
Our patron saint.
Ignota lingua per simplicem hominem hildegardem prolata. [An Unknown Language brought forward by the simple human Hildegard.]from the illuminated manuscript of St. Hildegard’s Riesencodex
In the twelfth century, abbess, seer, composer, future saint and Doctor of the Church, and general-purpose and all-around genius Hildegard of Bingen created a language for her nuns and followers. This was the Lingua Ignota, in whose twenty-three litterae ignotae were inscribed the dream of Rupertsberg Abbey: a community literally sacred—different, set-apart, ἅγιος—whose devotion to God was inseparable from its devotion to the women who reclaimed the land and the wealth that was their birthright to raise it from nothing.
Ignota Magazine shares in the spirit of Hildegard’s Lingua: that the vital and vitalizing force of language builds and bounds identity. Hildegard worked the warp and weft of women’s voices—in her proto-opera Ordo Virtutum, the sole male part is a grunting, unmelodious Satan—to weave community. The voice we aim to echo, express, and expand is the voice of queerness, here and today, across time and place, and towards the very same end: imagining a community in itself and standing free.
Your humble editoriat.
Rykais the author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song), and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. She has been honored by the California State Senate for her “extraordinary commitment to free speech and artistic expression, as well as the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.” She has MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University and is the recipient of a University Award from the Academy of American Poets. She is a professor of English at Santa Monica College.
merritt is a writer and podcaster. Her first book, Videogames for Humans, is an exploration of contemporary interactive fiction and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBT Anthology. She hosts the podcasts Woodland Secrets and dadfeelings, and can be found on Twitter at @merrittk.
Daniel is a writer and web developer living and working in New York City. He previously served as editor of qu.ee/r Magazine and contributing nonfiction editor of Stockyard, and was selected as a 2016 Emerging LGBTQ Voice in Nonfiction by Lambda Literary. He apologizes in advance for his tweets as @phyllisstein.
It’s business time.
Ignota Magazine is a publication of The Ignota Media Corporation, a publishing startup founded in late 2016 with the mission of amplifying voices historically unheard in the industry. It’s the first of a series of experiments in creating politically, aesthetically, and technologically sophisticated content delivery platforms for and by groups unjustly relegated to publishing’s margins.
Get in touch for more information about our current and upcoming projects.