A letter from the Editor-in-Chief, Spencer Jenkins

photo by Urban Wyatt for the Jack Harlow Foundation

My one wish is that the stories and creations between these pages offer us all hope that a life of queerness is a life worth living. Queer lives are precious and worth saving — I am speaking of my own, yours, and also of those that have caused us harm.

I know things are difficult today, and they might even be tomorrow. Things could be shitty for months. I don’t know what your life is like, but I know that mine can be pretty fucking stupid sometimes. And sometimes I don’t want life to go on. Most of the time, these thoughts pass and the day moves forward. Other times, these thoughts ripen to rot into the depths of my being. I will isolate and create lists in my head of everybody I know and why they hate me. I will think of how I have failed the queer community and the community at large. I will look in the mirror and tell myself that I am disgusting both on the inside and out. I will tell myself that I do not deserve love.

I offer this with no other agenda other than to say: these are facts I sometimes believe to be true. There are a lot of things that bring me shame today.

Despite the shame I sometimes carry on not-so-bright days, I also know to be true that I am a friend. A brother, son and uncle. I am a writer with miles of empathy. I love ideas and sharing them with community. I love helping others and I love giving back. And when I do love, I love really, really hard. 

I don’t know your story, but I know a version of mine lives in every story of hope brought to me by someone else that has been through what I have been through. So that means I can offer us both some hope. 

This week I was struggling so badly, you know? One of those weeks where I couldn’t open my laptop or call someone to tell them I wasn’t doing OK. Everything was so fucking heavy and I didn’t want to do a goddam thing. Nothing.  

But by Sunday, a friend called me to tell me that he knew something was up and that he’d help me by hanging out with me and talking and figuring out a course of action. Then he told me “I care about you, Spencer.” It was his way of saying, “I love you, and I don’t want you to fucking die because too many people are out there dying because they’re sad, and hurting, and ashamed and struggle to ask for help. I need you, we need you.” At least that’s how I interpreted his comment.

Maybe my friend saved my life. Or I don’t know; maybe I would’ve crawled out of this hole from pure spite itself. Once again, I don’t know your story, but I know my 34 years of living off the spite I cling to from others has made me mighty tired. And I need peace. I can’t find peace if I’m surviving through spite.

The point of this is to say: life is often hard. We all have our different types of privileges that make our lives easier at times, and we’re all still incredibly flawed humans that need help from other humans that have lived a version of our story.

I know that we as a society push people to ask for help, and then we tell people “you must not need help or be that bad off if you’re not asking anyone for help!” That’s bullshit. There are plenty of times where if someone knocked on my door and said, “Open the fuck up I am here to help you get your shit together,” I would’ve cried in relief and let them inside.

It is so important to check in on your people.

Poor mental health and suicidal ideation are forces unlike any other. Shit, the reason this magazine is in your hands so late is because I couldn’t wrap my head around life for months. I was struggling, but I wasn’t talking about it. 

I don’t have the answers to much, but I know you’re not alone. I know I’m not alone. And I think if we maybe talked to each other a bit more about what’s hurting us, a few more of us will make it to a happy old age. 

And on the days when you can get out of bed and you can laugh, do your best to live queer and loud, love those who affirm and love you, and try giving yourself a little extra grace and love because we both deserve it. I know this to be true.

I care about you.

Always,

Spencer

Queer Kentucky is launching a new partnership with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky (FHKY) to improve LGBTQ+ mental health in the Commonwealth. FHKY’s mission is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Through this new partnership, FHKY will provide funding of more than $300,000 to Queer Kentucky to support outreach to the LGBTQ+ community across Kentucky for mental health access and suicide prevention and awareness.

Due to the political climate in Kentucky with legislation like SB 150, simply existing as LGBTQ+ has negative effects on health. Much of the LGBTQ+ community also lacks access to healthcare due to fear of discrimination, “traditional” social support systems (like family) and the community lacks economic stability. These are all factors that negatively influence individual health. At its most extreme, those negative effects don’t just make people sick — they can drive them to take their own lives.

According to the Trevor Project, 45 percent of young LGBTQ+ people seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021. That’s 45 percent too high.

Over the next year, Queer Kentucky will gather data and create programming related to breaking down the stigma related to mental health care and removing barriers to health care access important to the LGBTQ+ community. This programming includes distributing HIV self-testing kits, offering Mindful Movement (trauma-informed breath and bodywork in an LGBTQ+ affirming space), and supporting Queer Kentucky journalists and publications.

Our platform was built around the foundation of the catchphrase “visibility is life-saving” and the FHKY partnership enables QKY to tell MORE queer stories of hope. More people will be able to pick up a magazine or jump on our website and see people with their experiences.