The Blueprint is The Oxford Blue’s brand-new arts publication. Following in the footsteps of Creativity in Crisis, it showcases creative work in a range of artistic media, providing a space to share thoughts, stories and personal experiences.

Issue No. 2—Queerness

“The word ‘queer’ opens beauty’s floodgates, enables a serious consideration of aesthetics. We are not enemies of beauty. We want to speak, at last, about the beautiful.”

Wayne Koestenbaum

In light of LGBTQ+ history month, this week’s theme offers a sincere exploration of being queer, and all the things it might mean.

Featured illustrators: Hannah Capstick and Harmanpreet Randhawa

Body & Soul – Francesca Duke
Illustration by Harmanpreet Randhawa
When I fall in love, 
it will not be with a man - 
strong steel flesh pulled tight
over carefully sculpted muscles, 
wire tufts on chest and chin,
and a voice that holds me fast
in the grip of its pulsing bass. 
Nor shall it be with a woman - 
vanilla-scented, silken curves,
all billowing lace and softness;
a pair of velvet cushion lips
into which I simply melt.
Instead I could give myself completely
to the feet that point towards adventure, 
to the mind that whirs as frantically as mine,
to the smile that spreads across a face
like butter on a crumpet,
to the heart that beats a little faster
when its sparkling eyes see me draw near.
I shall not love an idea, a trope,
a fantasy
but rather the hand
that feels right in mine.

Queer used to mean eerie – Pax Butchart
Illustration by Hannah Capstick
To be queer is to stand at the borders of what is
And what can never be, and deny there is a difference.
To carve out a space for yourself,
Somewhere in the middle between one falsehood
And another,
To take the bloodshed and vitriol and decorate yourself with it.
We sculpt our bones from cesspools and mothwings,
The horror and the beauty,
Sublime wretchedness.
We live as if we were already
Being eulogised, bright paint and flags,
To ward off the cold nihilism of the grave
That is plaited into our hair and inked on our skin.
Teetering always on the edge of a love
That could eat up the whole world and still be hungry,
Commanding the oceans from a parapet.
The mauve contortions of your pain are food for music,
And your strength
With my strength
Builds a rage and a compassion that gilds our faces,
Showing all the world what it means
To be queer.
To be queer is to say
“I am enough.”

REmilia – Ruta
acrylic paint on paper

This image gives an insight into a moment of shared sapphic love, away from the judgement and noise of onlookers. There has been a tradition of wlw turning to nature for escapism, as in the emergence of ‘cottagecore’. Placing these ladies in natural surroundings puts the focus on their love, protecting them from intruding opinion. I also hope to bring to mind the associations nature has with female sexuality and power.  

On A Year Since I Began Questioning – Susan Danim
Illustration by Hannah Capstick
“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”—Rosa Luxemburg

“Even at an individual level, there are remarkably few of even the most openly gay people who are not deliberately in the closet with someone.”—Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

I have learnt so much about Facebook’s privacy settings.
Measuring myself in hashtags,
Curating celluloid impressions from a certain angle, Tailoring experience to fit expectation.
I am ventriloquist to the shadow-puppet of a man
Cast by the boy my parents, aunties and grandparents knew.
It’s a boy I knew too,
Who would never have foreseen this.
Maybe he could not see through the wooden door,
Closed in the closeted gloom,
Or perhaps...
I close that door with each doctored Facebook post,
But didn’t I used to be stood outside?
When did I step inside this space?
When did I enter the gloom?
It is a cultivated secrecy,
Seeds sewn by society
And reaped without thinking
As I clutch at fig leaves for fear of exposure.
Am I embracing my truth by learning to hide?
Or was I hidden away when I felt free?

Viola – Siddiq Islam
Illustration by Harmanpreet Randhawa
(based on William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’)
My trusted page, my lost Cesario,
Which blackened trailway didst thou undergo?
I gallop now towards my heartless queen,
And there thou art! Where has’t thou so long been?
And what’s this? Dost thou beam so bright beside
My cold and ne’er-responding future bride
At alter, as her newfound groom and lover?
Oh, what a foul betrayal to discover!
‘Astute Orsino, Duke of Being Wise,
Canst thou not any subtle thing surmise?
Behind thee stands thy favoured squire sought,
Albeit now a little member short!’
My vile, vile Viola, thou deceiv’st me not.
I have not fallen for thy girlish rot.
Thou never wert a lady in mine eyes
And touched me better in thy former guise.
Discordant Viola, wilt thou not retire
Into thy previous gentlemen’s attire?
Then might I reignite sweet fantasy
With my Cesario serving under me.

summer lethargy – Sofie Cristobal
drown out the faithless
religion’s only here to teach them they can't bless us
so wrong in their eyes
but girl when i'm with you 
religion seems to smile irrespective of what we do 
think it's all just a lie
could be morning could be night 
i'm still scared to hold you tight 
living shadow lives in the dark
they question why it's a whole month
"think of the traffic that gets cut off
hope that glitter won't leave a mark"
sitting on the sofa watching tv
this summer lethargy is braindeath for free
think of the days and nights i spend scared to kiss you 
one day there'll be a word where this won't be true
mainstreaming our hurt 
it's only worth the money if they put it on a tshirt
window shopping our pride
but girl when i'm with you 
nobody seems to notice about how the feelings mutual 
there no stopping our fight 
all this time i was not told 
of a safe place for hands to hold 
but you're here now 
you brighten up these darkened days
when life's a dreamy stormy haze
and i ask myself how 
pour me a coffee though it's saturday night 
i won't regret this in the morning 
our lives entangled like sweet cherry wine 
i won’t regret it in the morning 
sitting on the sofa watching tv
this summer lethargy is braindeath for free
think of the days and nights i spend scared to kiss you 
one day there'll be a world where this won't be true
one day there’ll be a world where this won’t be true 

The form to submit your work to future editions of The Blueprint can be found here.

Alternatively, apply here to be our next featured illustrator.

Curated and edited by Yundi Li