ed note: As progress continues through society, LGBTQIA+ folks have been able to have access to more resources than in the past. These LGBTQIA+ young folks are able to connect with elders who have seen the change happen through community and also gain wisdom from them in these conversations.
This is an interview with JJ, 47, a Merced LGBTQIA+ elder.
Malachi: How do you feel about the difference in acceptance of queer folks now vs when you were growing up?
JJ: I think it’s great! I grew up in the church and with religious parents, I didn’t know what queer meant until I was already an adult. Seeing queerness in books or movies was like seeing big foot, I hardly never saw it. But these days, you have movies like Love, Simon, I saw that in theaters! And Simon, he was gay! I liked that movie. I think it’s great that kids are learning about queerness from a young age, knowledge is power.
Did you have a queer role model growing up?
I wish, but I can’t say that I did.
Do you think it’s important for younger queer people to have older role models?
Absolutely! If straight kids get to look up to the president and basket ball players, then queer kids should get to look up to Elliot Paige and Laverne Cox. I think it’s especially important for young trans kids to see adults who’ve transitioned, so there’s hope for them to do the same
The older you get do you find yourself becoming more of a role model?
I sure hope so! I’m not the most public with my queerness, but when I’m dj-ing for pride parades I hope the kids think I’m cool.