A conversation with Josh Jenkins, as told to Universal Standard
US: What is your name, your pronouns, and how do you identify?
JOSH: I’m Josh (he/him;they/them). I’m a queer nonbinary babe.
US: As we collectively transition out of quarantine, this time in solitude has been much more than just staying in. What do you consider your greatest challenge existing as an LGBTQ+ person while in quarantine? What has been your greatest victory?
J: I don’t think this is particularly specific to my experience as a queer person, but I think what was hardest for me was the disruption of what felt normal and figuring out a new routine. I had to find a new groove! Luckily, with my two dogs, we still managed to get out every day to the park to move and get fresh air. But I still needed to find ways to connect with friends, family, and be social.
My greatest victory was connecting more with other queer people online. Over the course of the quarantine, I chatted with new people, shared stories and jokes on social media, and had a sense of belonging with people I’ve never met. Now that we are slowly and surely heading back out into the world, I have some trips I need to plan to meet these amazing folks!
US: Every LGBTQ+ person knows that coming out is not a singular, linear process, but rather something we are faced with nearly every day. How do you relate to the phrase “coming out” in your journey as an LGBTQ+ person?
J: In my early twenties, I felt I “came out” all the time or felt pressure that I needed to. However, as my identity and queerness has grown and evolved over the last decade, I rarely feel the need to “come out” over and over again. Instead, I feel like as people spend time with me, they get to know me and see me for who I am without the formality of “coming out.”
US: How do you connect your identity as an LGBTQ+ person to your personal style and presentation of self?
J: As a queer-nonbinary person I recognize that gender expression is separate from gender identity. I know that I don’t have to have a particular style or look to be valid in who I am. I know that queerness is not necessarily visible. Yet, I also realize that fashion and style are also ways we represent and demonstrate who we are to others.
US: Expression of self is a deeply personal experience, and one that is often connected with personal style. How do you connect your identity as an LGBTQ+ person to your personal style? How would you describe your style?
J: For me, pink hair and fancy nail art are two constants and ways I express my identity. I also — and you’ll see this reflected on any photos of me — find that a good jumpsuit or dress with pockets lend themselves to tingly feelings of gender euphoria. My style is all over the place, just like me! Sometimes it’s ass-kicking leather heel boots and a leather jacket with a winged eye and sometimes it’s a dress with pink sneakers. Sometimes it’s both and sometimes it’s neither. I embrace it all.
US: The campaign name From Staying in to Coming Out holds a double meaning for many LGBTQ+ people experiencing this time of quarantine. What are you most looking forward to as things transition and you reintegrate yourself back into the world?
J: I’m looking forward for more nights out with my partner in queer-affirming spaces and at the theater and restaurants. I am looking forward to continuing to be myself loudly and boldly, with the hope that my visibility helps someone else connect to their truth.
US: Look back on the beginning of quarantine… What would you say has changed the most in your life from then until now?
J: Like many queer folks have shared on social media the last few months, quarantine and the pandemic gave me opportunities to express my gender however I wished in the privacy of my own home. While it wasn’t unusual for me to go out in a dress, heels, or makeup pre-pandemic, all the time I spent at home was extra-affirming. Not to mention, I developed some great eye shadow and DIY-manicure skills. Spending time at home also brought me closer and introduced me to a a lot of new faces and people in online spaces, and I feel such a sense of community with other queer people online that I didn’t feel was as strong or prevalent before COVID.
US: Quarantining as a couple is a whole new level of discoveries, challenges, and victories. What is the most unexpected joy you’ve experienced together while in quarantine?
J: My partner and I both love to travel, experience culture through food, and cook together. I think one of the joys of staying home was that we took time to really read through our enormous cookbook collection and try lots of new recipes. And while we couldn’t travel, there were weekends we “go” somewhere by taking up big projects in the kitchen and eating foods from a particular place. Over one long holiday weekend, for example, we “took a trip” to Italy, making all sorts of dishes from artichoke hearts with burrata and anchovies, to a Tuscan fish stew called ‘Cacciucco,’ to stuffed calamari from Sicily. We really complement one another in the kitchen and quarantine reminded us that you can go on a date, even when you’re at home.
Continue to celebrate Pride with US and read the next From Staying In to Coming Out story with Hunter Athena.