Ask A Queer: JT Milam
Today’s queer is JT Milam. JT is a 26-year-old living in Columbus, Ohio. He is a published children’s book author and is currently preparing to launch a podcast called “AS IF” with his friend Lauren, in which they discuss all the things that are fucked up and that they fuck with.
As a reminder, you can consult the main page of “Ask A Queer” for definitions to any terms you don’t recognize. Now let’s get into it! The following responses from JT were only edited for clarity. These words and this experience are all his.
How do you identify? What are your pronouns?
Gay and he/him.
What do you wish people understood about your identity?
As a white-passing gay POC [person of color] - 50% white and 50% Native American - I often feel that I have to first justify my identity before somebody will take my thoughts/views seriously. It’s easy to lump me into the category of “problematic white cis gay men” and shut down my views on LGBTQ POC visibility or issues.
Although I do feel being white-passing is a blessing in MANY ways (I am less likely to be targeted with a hate crime, sadly), I genuinely embrace my entire identity and wish I didn’t have to prove it to people all the time.
What can straight/cis people do to support your community?
Educate themselves! My biggest pet peeve is when straight people say, “Well, I didn’t know, but I didn’t want to ask.” I would say a majority of the time, if you are willing to listen and to learn, queer people would be more than happy to help you understand anything you may have questions about.
Also, making sure they register to vote, do thorough and proper research using credible sources on their candidates in local and federal elections to see how they benefit the LGBTQ community.
What do you love about being queer?
Our community is so awesome. We are the strongest group of people. I mean, have you seen all the shit we overcome? And we’re usually pretty witty with our clapbacks on Twitter, too.
How do you stay connected to the LGBTQ+ community?
I live a block over from a LGBTQ youth center that houses and helps queer children who have been kicked out of their homes, educate parents who want to understand and provide therapy and resources for those in need. I try to stay up-to-date with them on what they need for the kids and donate what I can.
I also think that being engaged in local community events is a great way to connect. I live in a pretty progressive city with one of the largest Pride celebrations in the U.S., and it’s always great to see people who are advocating for LGBTQ rights. I also enjoy my local drag scene and social media connections are great too. Let’s all live tweet #DragRace!
What does the LGBTQ+ community need to work on? How can they better support your identity?
We need more LGBTQ representation of people of color! Let’s stop attacking our sub-communities and come together and respect each other as well. Let’s lift each other up, and not just one stereotypically attractive version of the community, let’s ALL be up there.
Describe your coming out experience in 5 words or less.
Nobody was surprised.
What are your favorite pieces of LGBTQ+ media?
Noah’s Arc was the first “gay” show I had ever seen and it was incredible to watch four gay black men thrive at a time when I was afraid to come out.
RuPaul’s Drag Race… need I say more?
“I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” by Ryan O’Connell is such an amazing and hilarious read from an out gay man living with cerebral palsy. And he writes for Will & Grace now!
Who are your LGBTQ+ role models?
This is such an interesting question. When I think of LGBTQ icons, isn’t it sad that the first people that come to mind aren’t even part of the community? Support from others are great, but why don’t I think of out and proud icons instead?
Jonathan Van Ness: He is unapologetically himself, and it warms my heart. He is so full of live and love that you can’t not love him.
Janelle Monae: An out pansexual black woman who makes incredibly music and can act her ass off. She’s so intelligent and way cooler than I could ever be.
Conrad Ricamora: A gay Asian man (we love representation!) who is in an interracial gay relationship on network television (in ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder). And there’s lots of kissing and sex scenes. It’s groundbreaking what he’s doing and he’s also so kind and does so much good work. Plus he’s so hot. God bless him.
Who are your favorite LGBTQ+ celebrities?
I would say the three people I listed above.
Honestly, I struggle here too, because I would love to see somebody representing for Native Americans in the LGBTQ community, but I couldn’t name one. And that’s why visibility matters. When I was a child I identified with strong black females on television (Vanessa Williams, Eartha Kitt, and my local news anchors Charlene Brown and Yolanda Harris) because there were very few gay men on television and in films that weren’t the punchline of somebody else’s joke. I looked at these women who were secure in who they were, even though they were different, and used their voices and platforms to make a difference, and aspires to be them. The Tyra Banks Show is the reason I knew I wanted to be a host.
I had to see myself in others because I couldn’t see anybody who looked like me. And I still don’t. That’s something we need to work on.