Montreal-based trans writer and editor Oliver Fugler keeps tabs on his co-workers. He releases a collection of short vignettes, Gays in the Workplace, at Le Cagibi on Dec 15.
“I wanted to call the stories micro-fictions, but they’re not fiction and they’re not full stories,” Fugler says. “The book was inspired by the secret connection gays find in the workplace. I found my boyfriend in the dish pit. But this book is more about unfettered affection and less about sex.”
While the self-published book is printed and bound, Fugler wants it to read like a zine, exposing parts of the creative process and slight imperfections. These subtle stories are snippets of life on the job accompanied by illustrations by Dandy.
Fugler captures the isolation and suspension of working in close proximity with strangers, some known, others familiar. His non-fiction comes from a compulsive need to write, collecting a sense of experience and all things queer.
“I’ve always been fairly obsessed with documenting things,” he says. “So my writing comes out of an early-established need that has recently developed into something that I choose to make more public.”
With a background in queer and feminist theory, a linguistics degree from McGill University and editing courses from Ryerson University, Fugler is founder of Queer Editing, a gay-focused editorial service for academic, literary and creative writing.
“I recognized a need for people who were familiar with queer content as well as who had the technical skills required for editing,” he says. “I consider these qualities – of familiarity, or at least a willingness to self-educate, and technical knowledge – equally important for queer writers like myself.
“Editing and writing are clearly linked, but editing is mostly about providing an outside perspective. So while I do get tripped up self-editing while I write, ultimately I think of the two as quite separate.”
Gays in the Workplace honours the connection made in mundane, even tedious jobs, the relationships and friendships fostered between queer co-workers, a language of our own. Fugler has worked at everything from washing dishes to making brunch at Le Vieux Velo.
“I have a very loving gay family in Montreal,” he says. “I wouldn’t have been able to find the pleasure in the unsavoury jobs I write about if I hadn’t had such a supportive community.”
While in the midst of rallying some literary colleagues, Fugler hopes to start a small press in Montreal. He knows the value of self-publishing, DIY books and zines.
“Barriers in the publishing industry, like other mainstream industries, serve to marginalize and silence already disenfranchised communities,” he says. “Zines and other self-published works undercut those barriers. But I’m also interested in crossing that line of relative legitimacy for the sake of long-term documentation.”
Joined by songwriter Rae Spoon, who is currently working on a short story collection and Concordia University professor and writer Marty Fink, Fugler hosts an evening of story, a first of many queer storytelling nights to come.