Kit Heyam: NBL Zines Interview

Duration 04:01


Kit’s story comes from a group of interviews conducted at the International Non-Binary Day event at Leeds City Museum on 14 July 2019. The event was organised by Non-Binary Leeds. You can find out more about the group on their Facebook page and in their zine.


Kit Heyam
Interviewed by Ben Taylor
14th July 2019

BT: OK, so this is Ben Taylor recording for West Yorkshire Queer Stories and Non-Binary Leeds. I’m here talking to Kit, about the history zine they’ve been a part of. Kit, do you want to introduce yourself?

KH: Hi, my name’s Kit Heyam, I’ve been working on the non-binary history zine, and I use they/them or he/him pronouns.

BT: What got you involved in the zine?

KH: I... was... kind of there when the idea of the zine started, I guess. Because in LGBT History Month, along with Gem Soothill I co-led a session at Non-Binary Leeds where we talked about history and why it was important to us. And so I talked a little bit about finding non-binary history in a First World War internment camp. And... people were really enthused and it was obvious that the idea of finding non-binary history particularly combating the idea that we’re a new invention, was really really important to people. And so there was enthusiasm to create a zine, and so I was... kind of extremely invested in that from the very beginning.

BT: Why do you think it’s important for people to... be able to read about their kind of... history of their gender?

KH: I think for a couple of reasons. Firstly because... history can be a really powerful way of... feeling a community and a connection and a place in the world particularly for queer identities which are – like, you can talk about them as... horizontal rather than vertical, so like you don’t necessarily share them with people in your family other, like other marginalised identities like race or religion for example, which you’d share with other members of your family, if you’re queer, you don’t necessarily have any vertical connections to other queer people, you just have connections to people outside of your family, and if you’re in an, an isolated situation then that means you might not feel like you have a community in the present day, but the past can provide that sense of community. That’s super important to me and was when I was growing up. And also... because a lot of the rhetoric in the media at the moment around... trans and particularly non-binary identities, is about the idea that they’re kind of new-fangled and they’re therefore not real. Which... is flawed on two levels because even if they were new, it would not make them not real. But as it is, they’re not new, and it’s really important to demonstrate that there’s continuity between experiences that people have had in the past and experiences that people are having in the present, even if the words we use are different.

BT: Yeah. I think my last kind of question about it would be... oh God it’s gone out of my head. Why do you think it’s important that it’s non-binary people that made these kind of – have made the history zine?

KH: That is such an important question.

BT: If it came out right! [Laughs]

KH: Yeah, it really did. I think non-binary doing non-binary history is incredibly important because... the way that we research history and the way that we talk about it and the questions that we ask are informed by our knowledge that being non-binary is an extremely diverse experience. They’re not conditioned by the assumptions that cis people might have about us, the assumption that there is only one way to be non-binary or to look non-binary or that every non-binary person is halfway between two binary genders. And so that means that the stories we find are a lot richer, a lot more interesting, they’re a lot more diverse. And the… where cis people might see ambiguity and squash it into male or female, we see ambiguity and think there’s non-binary possibility here, and so it’s about being open to the possibilities as well as knowing what questions to ask.

BT: Great, I think that’s all we need.

KH: Cool, cheers.


Part of: Zines by Non-Binary Leeds