Why I make queer videos for kids
On paper, being queer should never have been a struggle for me. I grew up in New York City, in liberal school and home environments, and in an untraditional family structure. But while my family and other people who surrounded me were progressive and accepting, they were all hopelessly heterosexual, and I remained clueless about my identity for years.
As a kid, I did not understand queerness, although I undoubtedly embodied it in many ways. I was constantly misgendered because I had short hair and was an androgynous tomboy. Once, an unwitting camp counselor brought me to the boys’ changing room before swim class. I remember frantically hiding my body and wiggling quickly into my swimsuit before my counselor took one look at me in horror and ran me barefoot back to the girls’ dressing room. I could not have been older than 10.
I remember watching Disney movies and not fully understanding why I identified with Aladdin instead of Jasmine, Simba instead of Nala, and Peter instead of Wendy. They were the ones who had the adventures, who saved the day, who were special. They were also the ones who got the girl.
It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that things clicked into place. I kissed a girl for the first time and the facade of my life shattered. It was traumatic to say the least. High school was rough. Coming out was hard. I was depressed and confused and unsure what to do with the realization that I might be gay. I didn’t really understand that queer people could be happy and live full lives. Queer people couldn’t get married. Queer people were attacked and berated in the news. Being queer would be hard. But that’s not the whole story. If I’d had positive queer representation in the media I consumed as a young person, coming out and living authentically might not have taken so long.
Accepting myself and settling into a happy queer life was a struggle, but now, at 26, I truly feel comfortable with myself and my life. While I’m proud of that personal achievement, I also find it frustrating how much time was wasted on feelings of self-doubt. I wish I’d had an educational resource to help me understand and feel comfortable about my queerness much earlier in my life.
So I made one. Queer Kid Stuff is an LGBTQ+ educational YouTube series for kids ages 3+ (but really, it’s for all ages). My non-binary stuffed-bear-bestie, Teddy, and I make videos that talk about everything from our LGBTs, to intersectional feminism, to how to be a good ally, to singing about consent. We start conversations about topics that a lot of adults are scared to broach with their kids and make these ideas easy to understand without dumbing them down. Adults learn from us too!
Unfortunately, I’ve faced backlash for creating this resource. I turn off the comments on every single one of my videos because I’m told to kill myself and drink bleach on a daily basis. I’ve been written about by Nazis and white supremacists.
But facing this ignorant vitriol is still worth it because every single queer person I have ever talked to about the series has told me the same thing: I wish I had Queer Kid Stuff when I was a kid. I wish I had it too. I pour everything I have into QKS because it is a gift for Little Lindz. It’s a gift for the androgynous tomboy who asked to get their ears pierced so they could go into the girls’ bathroom without their mom getting yelled at for bringing their too-old son into the women’s restroom.
I can’t actually gift QKS to Little Lindz any more than I can gift it to you when you were a kid. But I can gift it to the kids of today. There is a kid out there who needs to know that they are perfect and beautiful just the way they are no matter what anyone else thinks or says about their haircut. There is a kid out there right now who can watch me and Teddy and see that it is okay to be different, it is okay to have two moms, boys can wear dresses, girls can be superheroes, and you are enough. That kid is out there right now, and one day they won’t have to wish they’d had a resource like QKS.
Queer Kid Stuff is part of a larger vision of a kinder and more equal future, brought about by positive, queer-inclusive education for all ages. I don’t just want to make QKS. I want to bring queer-inclusive all-ages stories to film and to television. I want this work in the mainstream, but it’s not there yet, and I can’t make it happen by myself. I can’t do it by myself because there are enormous obstacles ahead. The battle is uphill, but it’s oh so worth it.
Right now, I’m running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the final two seasons of Queer Kid Stuff and launch a larger vision of queer-inclusive all-ages media. You can check out our Kickstarter to support LGBTQ+ education and representation for kids ages 3+!
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