Jamie Windust talks about the empowerment of representation in positions of power, their activism and response from traditional media to their ideas.
The toxic political climate queer people find themselves in, being used as tools for debate and as voter pawns when all they want it to be accepted and empowered by our societies, has led the growing number of queer people to find themselves directed towards the role of activism as a career.
Activism as a career path for LGBTQIA+ people isn't new. They have always had to fight for their rights, whether that be for marriage or something as fundamental as the right to exist and be recognized, and someone who does this well is Jamie Windust.
Windust has over the last few years built the foundations of an empowering and strong presence in the queer activism scene; starting with their most loved media child, Fruitcake Magazine.
"[Fruitcake Magazine] is about making sure the voices in there aren’t just voices that are similar to mine, but voices that are vastly proportionate of the queer community and their multifaceted intersections" Windust told me.
"the magazine is driven through social media, people are very responsive in the ways in which it has helped them, or the ways peoples stories have affected them"
The magazine according to Windust has had such a strong impact given its message and the atmosphere present in more traditional media, who in the past and present tense, still struggle to get to grips with what LGBTQIA+ people need from the mainstream media.
Asking Windust what they thought, they told me that the feedback they mostly get from the media is that their ideas are 'great, but we don't wanna run it now', a problem echoed a lot by other queer activists and writers alike.
Windust's run-in with traditional media isn't new, kind of like non-binary and queer identities as history shall prove. The media have always had a certain first glance approach to queer stories, and only run LGBTQ+ stories at certain times.
"I think sometimes because it's not Pride Month or LGBT History Month" Windust confirmed.
"I think definitely there are lots of media that do it well, Gay Times, Pink News etc... But on the flip side, you have others who don't do it that amazingly"
The most recent inclination of the media wising up to the fact that they're stagnating behind many others is the BBC - who recently appointed a new LGBT Editor, something both me and Jamie had our own doubts about as we continued talking.
Windust especially pointed to this fact, stating that they wouldn't 'hold [the BBC] on this massive pedestal for it' but agreed that it was better than there not being one at all.
Obviously, though, this begs the question as to why the BBC has chosen now to add an LGBT Editor to their roster. Despite the increasing support for the LGBTQIA+ community, there are still large pockets of people, especially on social media and in the wider society who haven't accepted or welcomed people from the T onwards.
It doesn't surprise me then that media companies have been slow to support the LGBTQIA+ community where it matters most: representation in positions of power.
Being so open about your identity can be difficult in more conservative areas such as politics and business where the norm is inherently heteronormative in nature and has been reinforced throughout history.
“I think that's where I’m at now that when I talk about representation - like mostly visible representation - in politics, in business - only 1 in 300,000 directors in the biggest businesses and governments are LGBT and I think representation needs to move forward from fashion and putting us into positions of power," Windust told me.
In politics and the problematic nature of 'gender criticism' and the notion that non-binary people are simply a 'trend'. But Windust had other thoughts, some that I myself echoed - 'We're not new'
So how do we as queer people change this point of view? How do we get ourselves into these positions of power needed for effective change where we are severely outnumbered?
Well, Windust had some thoughts on that too:
“If you choose to do activism in your career it’s about changing peoples minds, and it’s about talking to people you might not necessarily speak to. Sometimes you have to put yourself into positions that, they should never be unsafe, but they should be challenging - never challenging your identity, but should be able to challenge people’s opinions”
Windust continued, with the importance of 'conversations rather than debates'
As a community, it is going to be challenging and difficult for queer people in the present as well as in the future... But with voices and people like Jamie, and their work to inspire, the community will keep on fighting for what they need as a community: representation, fairness, and equal recognition and treatment.