Growing up, there was no space for me to exist within. The cramped studio apartment I shared with my father had little room for exploration as every movement I made was monitored through a lens of hypermasculinity. I was taught to conform, to morph and change into someone more acceptable within the standards of heteronormativity. Even outside of my home, I rarely found solace. As a queer person in a rural mountain town 30 minutes outside of Yosemite, I was met with homophobia in every sphere of life. Criticisms and slurs informed how I saw myself, critiquing the ways I walked or talked, the clothes I wore or the friends I had.
Late at night, after my dad would fall asleep, I’d turn to the internet in search of belonging. I’d spend hours reading articles about queerness, learning how people like me could exist in a world larger than the one I was living in. I read about trans activists like Marsha P. Johnson, and Silvia Rivera, watched documentaries on same-sex adoptions, and spent hours immersed in blogs about the triumphs of coming out. These stories personified the LBGTQ community as the work of queer writers validated my existence. It was my access to reporting by and about diverse voices that promoted my survival.
The lessons of LGBTQ writers and creatives have carved my path as I work towards becoming a storyteller that is able to encompass the lessons of struggle and triumph of our community. These understandings have stayed with me in California, but were also expanded in my travels to Madrid, one of which was for a semester abroad. In the global explorations of queer culture, I’ve been pushed even further to understand the importance of storytelling by queer folks that is able to address not only the issues from outside communities, but also within our own.
As a queer journalist, I’m able to analyze the LGBTQ community from an internal lens, viewing how exclusivity limits growth and subjugates particular groups to even further subordination. My visibility as a cisgendered male allows me to enter spaces and create conversations on their existence, utilizing storytelling to understand and educate. I’ve understood that as a queer individual, we can’t settle for the exclusion of the members of our community, our identities needing to act as a force that opens comfortable existence. In understanding the need to not settle, I know that my words and ability to utilize journalism as my own form of advocacy is one of my most visceral tools.
These were the reasons backing this project, the need for accurate storytelling that serves as an educational tool to varying communities.