Meet Your Neighbor: Jay

"I've never really been a social person. I was an outcast at school and at home, so I spent a lot of time indoors alone. As I was growing more into myself I began wanting to watch LGBTQ media and learn up on history.

Around this time I also got into comics. I'd binge comics like how people binge watch Netflix now. One web comic I would read every Monday was "What's Normal Anyway?". It followed Mel, a dorky college student during his transition. It was very lighthearted, and reading it was one of the highlights of my week.

One day, the author posted on the site that he was hosting a comic class at Generation Q on Tuesdays. As soon as I got the chance, I hopped on the train to Forest Hills, carrying a red folder filled with drawings, basically pitching my project to him (I was 15, sue me). After a while, I began going regularly and became more easygoing.

Thanks to a mixture of harassment, queerphobia I either saw or experienced, and good-old having my feelings disregarded, I used to just keep my mouth shut for my own safety and to keep the peace. However, I opened up over time because at Generation Q, people weren't judging me.

At Generation Q, I was just a kid who wouldn't shut up. They say queer folk tend to experience their teens in their 20s as their youth wasn't theirs to experience. This fact was very blatant; we'd be in our late teens and as chipper as middle schoolers. One of my favorite memories was of us playing in the snow outside of the old space. In that moment, we weren't queer teens in a grisly world but just goofy kids playing around.

We still had a grip on reality and with the aid of the Director we'd help with protests and other things to benefit the community. Generation Q Director Lindsey Duel got me in touch with both the CASP and The Animation Project, and I watched her make sure that little queer kids got to be kids. Thanks to her, I basically watched my childhood dream being brought to life before my eyes, seeing queer kids getting a childhood, and thanks to a comic about a dorky trans man and his cat, Dr. Skateboard, I got to be a kid.”

- Jay, Generation Q Program Participant

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