Welcome to My Queer Neighborhood: Interview with Lindsay Amer

 PHOTO: Hannah Rimm

PHOTO: Hannah Rimm

Not all of us gays came out of the womb fabulous, and even if you did, hunty, chances are you still struggled with your identity, sexuality, and lack of representation in the mainstream media. The queer identify is vast, and we’ve only just recently been able to live visibly, unapologetically, and create a dialogue that fosters acceptance.

For anyone still grappling with their queerness, especially the kids who don’t identify as cis gendered or strictly heterosexual, or simply want more readily available information regarding the multitude of queer identities, our queer superhero comes in the form of Lindsay Amer.

Creator and star of Queer Kid Stuff, Amer’s theatrical background prompted their move into the children’s sector of entertainment after realizing that a simple Google search of “what does gay mean?” yielded less than informative results for kids trying to understand the complexities associated with the queer identity. They decided to change that.

Currently producing Queer Kid Stuff’s fourth season, which premieres on the QKS Youtube channel, and has since been recognized by the Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, and reputable queer nonprofits like Awesome NYC and GLAAD, Amer sat down with us in Brooklyn to discuss the motivation behind Queer Kid Stuff, what it’s like to be known as the “queer Mr. Rogers,” avoiding nazis, and what’s next for the series.

Tell me a little about your background.

I’m a New Yorker through and through. I grew up here, you know, in liberal spaces. I went to a quaker high school, so I was learning a lot about service and civic engagement and empathy, which the world could use more of. My background is primarily in theater. I’ve kind of come to digital media in like a roundabout way.

How so?

So I was doing theater for young audiences when I was at Northwestern. I was doing some queer storytelling through that while I was coming out because I wasn’t really out in high school. And I found that theater was a really frustrating place to be doing queer storytelling for kids because there’s just a lot of gatekeepers in schools and generally surrounding children, particularly when you’re getting into “controversial” work. I was off in London [for grad school] and getting really homesick, and started watching a lot of Youtube and thought maybe this was the place for my practice. I came back to the States and gathered up a couple friends to figure out how to do this because I was super new to filmmaking. I did some research on how to do a Youtube channel and I put it up. The ball started rolling. I was doing a lot of publicity for it, and now we’re doing press for season 4.


I watched a few of the videos from Season 2. You were giving me Mr. Rogers vibes.

Yes. That’s what a lot of people tell me. The queer Mr. Rogers.

Do you like that comparison?

Oh, I love it. I loved Mr. Rogers as a kid. Super subversive in some of the things that he did-- that are pretty subtle. Like a “fuck you” in a very Mr. Rogers way. So it’s cool to get compared to him.


As far as getting publicity for the series, how did you go about that?

I knew that I was doing something that was going to have impact because nothing like it existed, and I knew it would be controversial. I knew it was necessary, so I knew people would watch it. Or at least be intrigued by it or hate it. I released the first episode and I was reaching out to different publications that I enjoyed. I was looking at a lot of queer publications and then parenting publications. I remember that the first round of press that I did-- a couple of the LGBT places got back to me, but none of the parenting verticals.

maxresdefault.jpg


None?

None of them. To them it-it’s segmented off into these queer topics. I just don’t think that that is correct. That’s another way of segregating this kind of story.

Any negative press?

The conservative media also picked it up, which was fun.

How did that go?

It sucked. The first thing to really pick things up was a nazi publication. So that was my first really big wave of online hate and trolls. That was an interesting... introduction to that world. I knew it would be controversial, but I wasn’t expecting thousands of nazis to come at me the very first time.

My sister helps me out with the social media. I don’t have so many followers, but with the harrassment, you need to have someone else helping out with that. That’s kind of how I stay healthy.

 PHOTO: Hannah Rimm

PHOTO: Hannah Rimm

How did you fund the first few seasons?

I took a break between shooting the pilot and doing the rest of the season. I got a small micro grant, $1,000, from Awesome NYC, it’s a chapter of the Awesome Project. That helped me fund the first season of episodes. I kind of did the basics, like 101. I did “What Does the Word Queer Mean?” “What is Gender?” “Learning Your LGBTs.” It was basically covering the foundational basics so I could build the rest of the series up. Season two I didn’t have any money. I started getting more guests on because I was moving into territory where it wasn’t necessarily my expertise. I had an episode on “What Intersex Means” and I got an intersex activist on. A big episode I did on that season was consent. Which is constantly relevant, unfortunately.

What do you have in mind for Season 4?

I’m trying to do a couple episodes in Spanish. I’m rebooting my episode on bisexuality. I’ve been wanting to do an episode on religion for a long time, like queerness in religion. For this season we crowdfunded over the summer. That was successful, we got $22,000. I’m trying to figure out what other mediums this idea of queer all ages content can go in.

Have you had any interactions with fans that have made you especially proud of what you’ve produced?

I get a lot of queer people my age and older who are like, “this is what I wanted when I was a kid, I wish I’d had this.” I don’t think there’s been a queer person I’ve talked to who hasn’t told me that. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of stuff from parents who [tell me], “your videos helped my kid use the right pronouns, or figure out that they’re trans.”


So what do you think about what’s happening in Washington as far as trans exclusion?

It’s the most direct attack on queer people since he’s been in office. This is like the military ban but times 1,000. It’s erasing the existence of trans people. First of all, it immediately outs you as trans if your legal documentation doesn’t fit your gender expression and gender identity, especially if you’re cis passing. I’m trying to steer donations towards the Transgender Law Center, because those are the people who help trans people change the gender markers on their documentation. They’re the people who need those dollars right now. There’s already a genocide of trans people in this country.


Dakota is a poet, journalist, and right in the damn center of the Kinsey scale. Follow her on Twitter: @Likethestates.