It would probably be dramatic to preface this entire post to say that Jackie Beat changed my life as a kid, but to not make some mention of her presence altering my path as an artist would make this painting entirely useless. This piece that I’ve painted isn’t about just a drag queen, a writer, a comedienne, or a musical artist. This piece, and really ALL my portrait pieces, are about the force of someone, the presence, and… often the integral history of their influence of myself and the public.
When you are gay, awkward, colorblind, weird, and ginger in the south like I was (let alone anywhere else), the cards on being accepted are clearly not in your favor. On top of that, validation and seeking identity, a common factor in our travels from youth to adulthood, tend to be more chaotic when our personal microcosm of peers don’t identify with us. It is that very factor that made us feel small, worthless, weird, and nonexistent, which are a series of critically detrimental feelings in our time of seeking our place in the world.
I know I felt this way growing up in Georgia. I was criticized for my ‘gayness’, my posture, my voice, my lack of enthusiasm for sports, my body, my music taste, my style. Even after I came out, I had the hardest time identifying with my gay peers because of my taste in things were just not parallel. I felt awkward and strange, and I desperately wanted to fit in somewhere and to be understood.