Bored with gay magazines full of buff, hairless models posing in tight underwear, Melbourne man Shannon Michael Cane decided to create his own publication.

The result was They Shoot Homos Don’t They?, a biannual alternative queer art magazine featuring photography, interviews, essays and sketches, among other things. It has proved a hit amongst queer indie art circles, especially in New York and Amsterdam. It’s also sold in cities like Paris, Toronto, London, Milan, Melbourne and Sydney, mostly at art galleries and a few select boutiques.

Cane, who is publisher and editor-in-chief of the mag, funds TSHDT? with the earnings he makes holding Melbourne’s regular alternative queer club night Witness Protection Program. Another staffer at TSHDT? is organiser of another popular indie queer event, Trough.

The two of them have contributed to making Melbourne the centre of Australia’s vibrant alternative queer scene. But when it’s put to Cane that his city has more alternative gay musicians, artists and pub nights than Sydney ever had, he cites Bad Dog and Club Kooky as examples of what Sydney has to offer (the second edition of TSHDT? is having its launch party at Club Kooky this Sunday 4 December).

People who say there’s no alternative gay scene just aren’t looking hard enough, he said. There’s so much going on, but it can be hard to find. If you really want to find it you can.

There are alternative queer art scenes all over the world. Especially in New York. There are boys doing really cool creative stuff there, whether it’s music or art or writing. My time in New York was really inspiring. People are really into art projects there.

And it’s not just queers who are into TSHDT?

We’ve had straight girls who are designers buying it, architects. If our only market was that niche alternative gay market, we’d be fucked, because there are not enough gay men out there who would get it. Luckily by chance other people are supporting it.

A straight person can pick it up and admire the design without feeling like they’re flicking through DNA magazine or Blue.

The name of the magazine was inspired by the 1969 Jane Fonda movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

I thought the name would confuse and intrigue people at the same time, said Cane. I like long stupid names.

Sydney stockists of the mag include The Bookshop Darlinghurst, Ariel and the MCA.

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