Nick Yeast, Harrodsburg
What does the word queer mean to you? How do you identify?
Queer is such a liberating meaning. It means we as queer people don’t fall into societal norms that require us to fit in a box. The freedom to be your true authentic self is a gift that needs to be shared across all ages, genders and backgrounds. Queer is me, queer is you, queer is all.
Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all?
I identify as a gay black man because I am proud of who I am and to represent those who paved the way for me to be who I am today. It is important that I never hide who I am because people have died standing up for equality. To not be proud of who I am would be a disgrace to all those who have fought for equality in our society before me.
Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky?
I am originally from Harrodsburg, Kentucky. My experience growing up in a small conservative town wasn’t the worst but it wasn’t easy. Growing up in the church I was told that being gay wasn’t acceptable. I am very fortunate that when I did come out I had supportive parents and a very supportive father who alway taught me to be my true authentic self and not to be like anyone else but myself.
What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?
Take your time and know that everything will be just fine. If I had the opportunity to talk to my 13 year old self. I would tell myself that in just a few short years you will be exposed to an entire new life full of opportunities where you will meet open minded people like yourself, have new adventures where you will learn that the world we live in has millions of people who are just like you, support you, and are rooting for you, and accept you for who you are. High school school last only a season in your life so even though it may be difficult right now to be your true self, two years after you graduate you will forget more than half of them and start a entire new life where you will then find out who you really are and come into your own.
How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?
I was raised to always be myself. Being gay isn’t the main staple in life however, it is apart of me and my story. Being black and queer comes with many challenges in America but that doesn’t mean I hide who I am. Since learning who I am I truly feel free. I’m not the same little Nick from Harrodsburg that I was growing up. I learned a lot, exposed myself to a lot and continue to learn everyday about the world we live in. I love telling my story especially now that I have started my business. Gender identity should be talked about more and I’m glad I am able to do so through my brand.
What issues do you see in the queer community?
Representation of the LGBTQ community of color. I feel that when people refer to LGBTQ and when people talk about the LGBTQ community they are mostly referring to the Gay White Male agenda and not the queer community of color agenda. There is still so much unjust in our community especially when it comes to our transgender community of color. Over a dozen of our transgender brothers and sisters this year have been murdered and Its very rare that it gets the slightest media attention. This is an ongoing issue in the LGBTQ community and it’s important that our society and even our own LGBTQ community is inclusive with making sure that we have equal rights for all and not pick and choose who we should protect and talk about when standing up for what’s right.
What do you think would solve those issues?
I think it’s important for us to step back and really look at and identify the big problems that we have in the LGBTQ community and approach those issues on a more grassroots organizing level rather that treating it as a corporate strategy session. We need to learn the difference between approaching our issues with transformative solutions rather than official solutions. By doing so we can really make so big moves in our community.
Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?
Absolutely! The queer black agenda is not on the mainstream radar at all. I will say that it’s shows like Pose and a few others that allow our stories to finally be told a lot better. The black and brown queer community has always been excluded from mainstream media and our stories are either not told or told falsely.
Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc).
I feel my best when I’m with family. I am happily married, have the greatest life living in San Francisco with great friends and great community. I have loving parents who support me with everything I do and I just feel blessed that I am alive living my truth and that I have a brand to elevate that narrative.