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20 Queer Q's with Saeed Jones

20 Queer Q's with Saeed Jones

20 Queer Q's with Saeed Jones

This week, let's get to know more about the How We Fight For Our Lives author in a new round of 20 Queer Q's!


The 20 Queer Q's series seeks to capture LGBTQ+ individuals (and allies) in a moment of authenticity. We get to know the subjects, what makes them who they are, and what they value.

The goal of these intimate conversations is to leave you, the reader, feeling like you just gained a new friend, a new perspective, and that you learned something new about or saw a different side of someone—maybe someone that you don’t see online, but someone that’s maybe like you.

This week get to know writer, poet, and former AM2DM host, Saeed Jones! Learn about his advice for LGBTQ+ youth, what his queerness has given him, his favorite cocktail as of late, and more! 

Name: Saeed Jones

Age: 33

Preferred Pronouns: He/His

Sexually Identifies As: Gay/Politically, as Queer

What do you love about the LGBTQ+ community?

I love the diversity of our community and I love the people that are living in the way that I want to live, have made it clear that there is a way to recognize all the joy, but all the work we have to do. That is how I want to calibrate my life more generally even if I wasn’t queer, I would gravitate towards people who think, “We’re gonna have fun, but we have shit to take care of first.” 

How did you feel attending your first Pride?

The first vivid memory I have of being at Pride was in Atlanta, Georgia. I was out of school for the summer, and part of what I loved was that it was a lot of Black and Brown people which was exciting and I went by myself. It was hot as hell and I wasn’t so involved with it, but more witnessing it. I remember someone saying that for Atlanta Pride, people come from all over the south and I remember it resonating something kind of special. In retrospect, it was a really pleasant memory. 

What does Pride mean to you?

It means thinking about where I am as a person, as a set of values, as a world view in the relationship between the past, present, and future of queerness. It’s about thinking about that the first Pride was a riot, thinking about the sex workers, the trans women, the queers, the femmes, those people and how they were treated in their own time. Thinking about that, thinking about how far we’ve come and of course trying to envision where we could go if we worked together or some kind of plan and it’s joyful work. I don’t begrudge the ownness that being queer in 2019 puts on us to be self-aware, to be compassionate, and to think about people who are different from us and I think that’s a thoughtful and exciting experience. 

Who is someone you consider to be an LGBTQ+ icon?

I’ve been thinking of Billy Porter a lot. He has done a lot of great work for a very long time and it’s been important to a lot of us for a long time so he has not been given the spotlight treatment that he deserves. I still don’t think he’s received the accolades he deserves for the work he’s doing. 

When I think of Billy Porter of his generation, a Black gay man who lived through the most brutal years of the AIDS plague and survived. I’ve seen a lot of men of his generation succumb to a bitterness that’s reasonable and I understand where that bitterness comes from based on their experience. He seems to have embraced love so deeply and has used it to power his way forward to connect with young people which is why when you see him on the red carpet breaking gender norms, in spaces even the skinniest of straight white girls find intimidating, that’s meaningful. I absolutely think he’s an LGBT icon, but an American icon because he encapsulates an important part of the American story for the last 30 or so years. 

Do you think LGBTQ+ youth have it easier? It gets better, does it get easier? 

It’s a bit of a catch-22. They do have it easier in some ways. Is it easier for a queer kid to maybe find a boyfriend or girlfriend or they-friend in middle or high school and become prom queen or king? Yeah. Is it easier for a young queer person to find someone their age to hook up with? Yeah. To find resources and a lot of things, it’s easier for them to embrace their sexuality and not worry about HIV/AIDS as an assured fact of their life, yeah. But also, I don’t remember thinking walking into my high school that I might get shot at. I don’t remember thinking about Nazis as coworkers, bosses, people down the street so it’s a double bind. So in some ways it’s easier, but new problems emerge and old problems come back. 

What is the title of the current chapter of your life?


What is advice you have for LGBTQ+ youth?

Find a mentor. I think it’s really important. It’s hard, but I realized that when I was coming up, a lot of older gay men who purported to be mentors were not, they wanted to have sex with me. But I was fortunate in graduate school meeting poet, Rigoberto Gonzalez. He was the first queer man of color that I’ve had as a teacher and he has just continued to be so supportive. But he would also take me to gay bars and explain why I should or shouldn’t go somewhere, and how you should present yourself not just as a writer, but as an adult. I think the moment you have a good mentor relationship it becomes easier to identify other mentors in your life and begin to become a mentor to other people. When we don’t have that, when we’re on our own, we’re left to sort out information for insecurity, biases, and it’s a lot to figure out on your own when you’re young and dumb, so I think that’s important. 

Do you believe in love?

Absolutely, all kinds of love.

Favorite drink to order at a bar?

Lately, a Mezcal Tonic. 

What are values that you look for in an ideal partner?

A value of arts, culture, someone who reads the news, cares about what’s going on in the world. I like when people are interested in connecting the dots. There has to be a confidence that impresses my confidence and that x-factor. Of course, you would want someone to be attractive but when there’s something deeper, that’s there that makes you want to see them again or have another conversation with them or have another night with them again. 

Describe what being queer is like in 3-5 words. 

Fun, fluid, wonderfully messy.

Use 3-5 words to describe your coming out experience?

It’s an everyday experience.

What hopes do you have for the LGBTQ+ community in the future?

I hope we get better at taking care of our most vulnerable members, and that could go in a lot of different ways. I think if you have money, identify as a man, live in a city and are cisgender, things aren’t perfect but we have it pretty good. We have it leagues and leagues better than people five or ten years before us. But that’s very much not true for nonbinary people, trans women, for queer kids not in major cities with wealthy families. I don’t want us to forget ourselves. 

Fill in the Blank: When you think of comfort you think of _________?

My group texts. 

What song makes you feel the most confident and makes you feel better about yourself?

"Them Changes" by Thundercat. It’s a song about someone who’s really a mess. I feel like when I listen to the song it makes me feel more confident because hearing something that is so beautiful about someone being such a mess puts me at ease. 

Did you ever/do you still feel uncomfortable holding another guys hand in public?

I don’t really love people holding my hands but probably. As someone who travels a lot, yeah you've gotta read the room and sadly there are not a lot of rooms. It was just recently where a queer lesbian couple was beaten up. We see those stories very frequently and they stay with us. 

How much does your LGBTQ+ identity play into your overall identity?

It’s crucial. It’s like the glue that connects the rest of it. 

What’s your worst habit?

Because I overthink, when someone’s talking to me I try to autocomplete like Google in my head because I’ve made assumptions of where I think they’re trying to go. 

What are you most confident about?

My writing. 

What value/quality has being queer given you? What have you gained?

Reading about Janet Mock landing a huge film deal with Netflix, to see that and feel somehow connected to it and that I’m going to benefit from her grace. I feel like my queerness has allowed me to connect to people like that. Growing up gay and Black in the south, I felt isolated, like I was the only one and that being gay was a synonym for being lonely. But through queerness, realizing that you can connect and have something in common with people of all these sexualities and genders and that you will always find your people is affirming and what I’ve gained.

Stay up to date with Saeed over on Twitter and Instagram and be sure to pre-order his new memoir, How We Fight For Our Lives, out October 8!

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