Interviewee: John Alexander
Interviewer: Laila Michel
Graphic Designer: Pat Sevikul
Hello, my name is John Alexander. I'm 20 years old and I live in Prince George's County, Maryland. I attend the illustrious Clark Atlanta University, where I am a rising junior majoring in biology, and I plan to become a wildlife biologist.
John is gay and uses he/him pronouns.
When did you know you were gay?
I like to say that I’ve known I was gay ever since I was around the age of 5. A lot of people think that is too young to know but I was definitely attracted to boys then. I went through a period of exploration in early elementary school, followed by a period of not worrying about my sexuality in late elementary school, then the lovely stage of denial, and I finally put a label on my sexuality in high school.
What does pride mean to you?
Pride is everything to me. The DMV (the DC, Maryland, Virginia area) is not exactly a hotspot for the lgbtq+ community, so to be able to come together in such large numbers, have fun, and uplift each other is so important to me. Pride also means being unapologetically you. It's a time to truly revel in what it means to be a part of the lgbtq+ community, a diverse community filled with tons of amazing people. Pride gives you the chance to just be you, a chance to let your guard down, a chance to grow and flourish, and a chance to be truly happy.
How do you celebrate pride month?
I usually celebrate pride month by attending the annual pride parades.
What issues affecting the LGBT community were particularly on your mind this past month and why?
A major issue affecting the LGBTQ+ community is the lack of mental health awareness for those who are a part of the community. This has been on my mind for quite a while now because people, specifically cishet people, do not realize how mentally taxing being a member of this community is and the effect that it has on the mind and body. I find being gay to be both liberating and draining. While I am comfortable in my identity, I still fear being hate crimed and I’m faced with almost constant paranoia. I could also choose to repress who I truly am, stop expressing myself in a way that makes me happy, and instead dress in a way that will keep me “safe”, but then I’m faced with depression. To an extent, it's like you are damned if you do and damned if you don't and that can wear a person out so easily, but nobody sees it, nobody sees you, ironically they see the one thing you cannot see, how you identify.
What can people do to raise awareness about those issues?
I think the gay experience needs to stop being invalidated. People hear anything lgbtq+ related and automatically think of the sexual aspect or the happy, smart ass, fun-loving, partier trope but we are still people. Talk to your friends and find out what makes them uncomfortable, ask them what’s going on in their personal life, pay actual attention to them. Not every conversation has to be about the latest gossip and not every action has to be based on some Netflix original stereotype. Mental health as a whole needs more representation too.
You’re somewhat of an influencer within the gay community. how does that feel and what do you hope to achieve with your platform?
To be completely honest, I never planned on gaining a following on TikTok and honestly, it’s a nice feeling when you sit and think, “Wow, thousands of people love the content that I put out”. I have not put any thought into what I want to gain from this account, however, I can say that even though the majority of my content is jokes, I make them make individuals feel seen and let them know that you are not alone and that it’s okay to be gay in the public eye.
What's your queer anthem/favorite Pride song?
It’s a sad song, but the first song that pops into my head is Not In That Way by Sam Smith. This song has a special place in my heart not only because it describes a small part of my gay experience, but because it makes me feel seen and understood. For this reason, I can find comfort in a song that most people would not want to hear unless they were going through a breakup.
Follow John on Instagram and TikTok!