Queer Kentucky founder to step down as executive director, transition to fundraising consultant

by Spencer Jenkins
Founder, Executive Director

Dear Reader,

For the past six years, Queer Kentucky has held a special place in my heart and soul. I have centered my entire identity around this organization’s successes and struggles – but now it is time for us to create identities of our own.

On December 31, 2023, I will be stepping down as executive director of Queer Kentucky. It is time for me to leave the legacy that has been created and trust in both the brand and those associated with it to move forward into a new era.

I never dreamed that the brand I started one day in Morels (may it rest in peace) would turn into an internationally-known queer platform. Little did I know, I was about to redistribute corporate wealth from big companies directly into the hands of queer creatives, create leaders in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space, and print tangible magazines with real content!

My hope was to capture beautiful Polaroids of Kentucky’s LGBTQ community and share their stories, yet I am overjoyed that we have achieved so much more.

My current role will shift over to offering philanthropic assistance and development services. Additionally, I will be producing a monthly column for Queer Kentucky. As far as the day-to-day operations and content editing are concerned, another Judy (or two!) will take on those responsibilities.

Although I do not have the final say in who takes over, it is my belief that we must ensure a truly equitable environment. It is important that we strive to create opportunities for people from all walks of life — not just those who are white and cis-gendered.

Even as I progress with my life and work (fundraising and writing) away from the bluegrass, I want you to know that this place still holds a special place in my heart. It is where I started out: it’s where I embraced my identity and encountered my first love (even if he was on the sunny side of SoIn). Furthermore, it is here where my queer family helped me build myself back up when all hope seemed lost. This is home for me; these are the people who built me.

It’s a place that has given me more than I could ever give back in return, and it will continue to be my home no matter how far a stray I may go.

Furthermore, the current state of Kentucky cannot provide enough financial support for all the queer nonprofits in our area. As development lead, I am dedicated to finding external funding sources from around the nation to bolster queer life in our beautiful bluegrass.

Before I move on from this venture, I must extend my utmost appreciation to the LGBTQ+ community that has made it possible for me to lead this organization over these last six years. Your support and encouragement have been immeasurable. Please do not forget to keep the next leader of this org just as accountable as you did me!

I am immensely grateful to Sarah Gardiner. Without you, this organization would not have achieved the success it has today. It all started when we ran into each other at Nanny Goat Books and I gave you some QKY condoms as a form of introduction. An irreplaceable relationship was formed and I love you dearly.

Anne, I can never thank you enough for being the incredible big gay sister that I always wished for. You have made me feel so cherished and supported without any question. From our initial greeting, with your warm embrace and firm handshake, it was clear to me that no matter what happened, you would be there by my side every step of the way. Thank you for being my board chair and always taking care of me. I love you.

Silas House, I have been so fortunate to establish a bond with you that continues to be strong and meaningful. Perhaps our shared EKY roots play into this connection between us. It could also be your incredible dedication and adoration for your husband which demonstrate in an amazing way how powerful gay male love can actually be. Y’all give me hope. Either way, the silly jokes we share bring me so much joy and I’m glad I bugged the shit out of you for a podcast interview. Your support is more than just appreciated – it’s something I never knew was missing from my life until now. Queer Kentucky will forever reap the rewards of all the hard work you’ve put in throughout your lifetime.

To Natalia Bishop and Lauren VanCleave, I cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for you both. It is through your unwavering support that I am able to stand here today. Truly, none of this would have been possible without either one of you. Thank you for challenging me and grounding me when necessary.

Mike Slaton and Chris Hartman, my two partners in crime. Thank you for showing me how to lead an organization. Even though I didn’t take much of the advice. Need I really say much more? I love you both. We also need a photo together. I can’t seem to find any? The fuck is up with that? You both inspire me daily.

I cannot forget to mention the incredible Minda Honey. Your unwavering mentorship and guidance has been invaluable for me, as well as countless others – we are so blessed to have you in our lives! Although your presence can sometimes be intimidating upon introduction, you are now an absolute blessing that I cannot imagine life without. Every time you share your precious energy with someone, it’s a sign of love – which makes every moment even more special. And although no one likes being put in their place, when this happens from someone like you who holds strong values of friendship and support — then there could not be a better way or person by whom it could come.

And to my mom, thank you for being the best assistant and store manager a son could ask for. Your support means the world to me and so many others, whether you knew that or not. If more queer kids had parents like you, our community would be so much healthier.

Enough blubbering and ass-kissing from me about those who have uplifted me since day one.

Queer Kentucky is in good hands, with a great board and a solid foundation. I am confident that my new role, along with new leadership will continue our rapid growth.

I am so proud of the work that has gone into Queer Kentucky and only wish for more to come.

The future is here, and it’s queer. We still have so much to do. So let’s get to work!

Love always,

Spencer Jenkins, Founder, Queer Kentucky

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