I saw a post on Tumblr four years ago as I scrolled down my dashboard feed. Decorative text in textured appearance sat before a bright white background. “The 26 LGBTQ terms you should know.” I clicked on the post and followed the blog.
The Tumblr was run by a friend from college who spent her free time educating curious individuals about the queer terms and labels they didn’t understand. Each post took a letter from the alphabet and defined a queer term beginning with that letter. It was a fun project between a small group of friends that eventually evolved into something more.
“We’re turning this into a blog,” Camille said after running through the alphabet a few times. “We want to expand these Tumblr posts into longer lifestyle blog posts.”
At that time, I had worked on a fully digital monthly magazine, Miss Millennia, a traditional magazine, Bakersfield Life, and experimental magazines of all kinds in college and grad school. “Okay,” I said, not quite sure of what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know that I would be still talking about The Queer 26 four years later.
Camille was involved with the local indie music scene, and I had dabbled in sustaining a local indie music blog in Los Angeles for a couple of years. She thought it would be cool to just do what I was doing but for this new blog, and I loved seeing live music anyway. I ended up reaching out to a local band Camille knew at one of my old haunts in Pomona.
That night I bought a local brew and checked in with the band members before I watched them absolutely kill it in the small familiar venue. The musicians that made up Frequency Within snuck outside and patiently answered my questions as I fumbled with my new tape recorder.
“Sorry, let me just record the interview on my phone.” They smiled and were so nice that it made everything easier. The resulting blog post was great, and reaching out to others in the community grew Q26 into a team of talented writers and creatives putting together amazing pieces to share through this digital medium. I got used to reaching out to other local artists and musicians until I was asked another question.
“It’s a long shot, but you should try it anyway.” Camille wanted me to reach out to singer, songwriter, Dorian Electra. I didn’t think that anything would come out of it when I reached out. I figured a popular artist that we didn’t know personally wouldn’t want to participate in what we were doing, but I got a response to my cold email and ended up having an amazing conversation.
Today, Q26 is a Black and queer owned collective supporting LGBTQ+ creatives with a focus of people of color. We share stories with our new magazine, QTYPE, and create beautiful and poignant pieces of film with our Q26 Originals. We hold events and discussions, and aim to create opportunities for other queer creatives to have their work seen and voices heard.
I met so many wonderful people and had some amazing conversations with even more amazing artists. We have come a long way since the Tumblr days, and if I learned anything within the last four years it’s the fact that we have such an amazing supportive community of people who all truly care about uplifting often marginalized voices, that our group of amazing friends have each other’s backs, and that being creative and making amazing things is in our DNA. No matter what, we will always be creating and making art.