Kentucky Artist, Joshua Jenkins

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My parents have been separated my entire life. I was primarily raised with my mother (along with 5 other siblings) in Poughkeepsie, NY. I spent the Summers with my father in the Elizabethtown, KY area and eventually lived with him permanently during my High School years. I have been a Louisville resident since 2011 and currently live with my partner in the East End.

Growing up I’ve always felt different. In High School (and some of college) I went through so many phases and tried to fit into a variety of “clicks.” I tried being a nerd, a prep, a skater, an emo, and a hippie. I was always putting on these false personas just to fit in. By the end of the day I think I was really just trying to find “my tribe”. I never did find it with any of those groups. I always had more interests than what could be boxed in by a label. Then of course when I discovered my sexuality I thought that maybe the gay community might finally be the tribe I’ve always been seeking.

I officially came out as gay when I was 21. Unlike some gay men it took me a while to realize my sexual preference. I didn’t even question my heterosexuality until a year prior. This may of been due to my religious (Church of Christ) and somewhat sheltered upbringing (being homeschooled up until High School.) Growing up I (awkwardly) chased girls around, because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. As I later learned during my pubescent years my attraction to girls felt odd and forced. There was never really that sexual attraction for me that I saw other guys have with girls. I always thought maybe I just didn’t meet “the right girl”. Little did I know then that I really just never met the right man.

Today I can trace deep homosexual thoughts back when to I was a child, but I always ignored “those thoughts” and didn’t really explore them until my best friend at the time came out to me when I was 20. I think having someone close come out ultimately gave me a chance to discuss “certain things” with someone that I otherwise wouldn’t of felt comfortable doing so. It also made me question what being gay actually was. My friend coming out completely broke this boxed-in-stereotype I had wedged in my head growing up. Up until this point being gay meant being a man who was either extremely flamboyant or who was a creepy child molestor type. Little did I know then that being gay was far from being so black and white.

Like most gay men I came out with a bang. I started listening to only dance/pop music, wore fashionable extra small clothing, and even started frequently saying the word “girrl”. I tried hard to fit into a world that I really had little in common other than my sexual preference. Eventually I realized I was just putting on another false persona to try and fit in. I also realized that I would never find “my tribe” or ever fit in to any group. These realizations helped me accept that I was just Queer and being so was actually a blessing. I’ve learned that as a queer man I don’t have to live up to expectations of any specific “tribe” or play by any of their rules. I am simply free.

You can view my artwork at www.joshuajenkinsart.com.

Like myself I feel that my work is also queer. Although it’s definitely inspired by past art movements it still never really “fits in” to any particular one.

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