Last week, I got to sit down with Drew Stevens, Feminist Press’s Art Director. Drew was born in Cincinnati, but moved to Louisville, Kentucky when he was 10 and considers it his “spiritual home.” Drew has led quite the colorful life thus far. After studying architecture for two years at the University of Kentucky, Drew decided he wanted to be a Catholic priest, so he moved to northern Kentucky to attend seminary and finished his schooling there, graduating from Thomas More College with bachelor degrees in history and philosophy. But it is his two years of training in architecture that he uses the most in his work as a graphic artist: the principles of two- and three-dimensional design, color theory, structural hierarchy.
Drew said he developed an interest for architecture at a very young age. “When I was 5 years old, I flew in an airplane for the very first time. We were going from Cincinnati to Minneapolis, and had to change planes in Chicago. There was heavy cloud cover over all of Chicago, but the top of John Hancock Tower was popping up out of the clouds. To me, five years old, it was the most magical site I had ever seen in my life: this building popping out of clouds. That’s what got me interested in architecture. I wanted to build something that popped up out the clouds like that. Kind of Freudian…” After we giggled, he went onto explain how he went from wanting to be an architect to a priest:
Well, I had always been aware of the spiritual self within me, but as a youngster — I was 20 years old when I went into seminary — all I knew was the Catholic Church,” he said. “I wanted to pursue a spiritual life. I didn’t really know what there was besides Catholicism so I gravitated toward it, but I only stayed for two years. I left seminary because I finally admitted to myself that I was gay and that I wanted to be gay. I couldn’t be a priest because I wanted to fall in love with a man. I stayed in the Catholic church for another three or four years after that. I had continued to believe that Catholicism was the spiritual path for me. The reason I left the Catholic church was actually completely political. In the mid-80s the pope was staging some sort of crackdown on homosexuals in the priesthood. In Louisville, where I was living, there was a hate crime law making its way through the local legislature. The archbishop publicly announced that he did not believe homosexuals needed any special protection under this hate crime. Well, I knew the archbishop and I knew that the archbishop said to all of his gay seminarians and gay priests, ‘As long as I am in this chair, you don’t have to worry about anything. You have special protection,’ but then he comes out to the public and says ‘Gays don’t need special protection.’ That was it. All of sudden I saw the hypocrisy that is so rampant the church hierarchy, the scales fell from my eyes. I was a Catholic one day, the next day—out—I just did not darken the door of a Catholic church again. From there I embarked on a quest to absorb everything I could about Eastern religions, astrology, paganism, Jungism, Gaia theory … a quest I continue twenty-five years later.
Drew’s definition of feminism is probably one of the most unique that I have come across during my series of interviews. Drew didn’t identity himself as a feminist until he started working at the Feminist Press:
I wasn’t anti-feminist, I knew feminism was out there and I knew it was important, but I was too busy having a fabulous social life to think much of it. I didn’t feel as though it concerned me. Joining the Feminist Press, it began to concern me, and not just because it was my job to be concerned. I became aware on a much deeper level. What I have come to understand is the masculine primacy that predominates on Earth is not in balance with the energy of the universe. Within the universe, male and female are two very small parts of a much greater picture; but Earth is all about male and female energy. Earth is equally male and female and yet with this masculine hegemony in place the planet is completely out of whack. You can see the results of men being “in charge” everywhere: the wars, the destruction of the environment, the economic injustice, just the sheer brutality that we see every day in our entertainment — movies, TV, music. All of this malaise is absolutely tied to this imbalance of masculine over feminine The survival of the planet is at stake here. We need to restore the feminine to her rightful place; we need a gender balance so that the earth will vibrate properly. It’s wobbling right now — it’s getting worse and worse. We need to honor the energy of the planet through gender equality. This really is the root. This is how I see it.
Drew is probably one most poetic humans beings I have ever come across. He has one of the most welcoming presences I have ever encountered. One of my personal favorite memories of my summer at FP was seeing Marilyn Maye with him at 54 Below, the former Studio 54. Drew has truly transformed the look and feel of FP books. He designs covers that truly draw you in and lays out pages that continue to draw you into the world of the book.
- Mariya, FP intern