Jason June, Star Genderqueer Author for Young Adults, Shares ‘What Pride Means to Me’

Jason June, Star Genderqueer Author for Young Adults, Shares ‘What Pride Means to Me’

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Having just celebrated the release of his debut novel, Jay’s Gay Agenda, for Harper Collins this very week, Jason June is kicking off Pride Month 2021 with a bang.

A genderqueer author writing queer-inclusive youth stories for publishing heavy-hitters like the aforementioned Harper Collins as well as Scholastic and Simon & Schuster, Jason June is on track to see a total of five projects published this year alone. In addition to this month’s YA novel, February saw the release of two chapter books in a series called Mermicorn Island, with two more sequels for that same series planned for July and the fall.

In Jay’s Gay Agenda, the title character witnesses his straight friends in first-time relationships and compiles a to-do list of his own, crafting an agenda of all the things he hopes to experience one day. Tackling first loves, first hookups and first heartbreaks, the novel is both touching and hilarious. (Head here to support queer YA projects and purchase it!)

Hornet reached out to Jason June to learn more about his own personal relationship with Pride, as part of our ongoing series this Pride Month entitled “What Pride Means to Me.” Enjoy!

“What Pride Means to Me” by Jason June

Finally getting to go to my first Pride after growing up as the only out queer kid at my small rural high school was the most magical experience. Everywhere I looked it was so gay, every letter of our beautiful rainbow soup represented, catching eyes with a few fellas in that way that put sparks in my belly. I was like a kid in a candy store, it felt like Santa had come early, and of course by Santa I mean that big, white-bearded bear dressed all in leather. It was pure magic.

Magic from getting to be myself. Magic from waiting all those years alone to finally be surrounded by community. Magic for getting to be gay after worrying for so long that being gay was the thing that would keep me an outsider for the rest of my life.

And every Pride I try to remember that magic. Remember how far I’ve come in discovering my sexuality and gender, and celebrating that journey while also acknowledging that it’s okay if I don’t have everything about myself figured out at this point in time. That every year I could discover new facets of myself, like I did as I entered my 30s and realized I was missing a puzzle piece of myself that is my femme genderqueer identity.

Jason June (photos by Ryan Bilawsky)

That’s what I hope to get across in my first young adult rom-com, Jay’s Gay Agenda, published by HarperCollins. Jay is the only out queer kid at his rural high school, but when his mom gets a promotion that takes the whole family to Seattle, he’s suddenly surrounded by a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. Suddenly when there are so many people close by who know who they are and what energies they bring to romantic and sexual relationships, he’s overwhelmed. So overwhelmed that he starts to rush the process, make mistakes, and screw up relationships. And I think that’s a process so many of us — especially those of us from small towns that didn’t have a thriving queer community — can find ourselves in: rushing to achieve those milestones we’ve been dreaming about for so long.

But as Jay comes to realize, it’s all about enjoying the journey, not rushing it, and just celebrating the process of discovering who you are as a queer person. And that’s what I hope we can all celebrate every Pride: how far we’ve come in our own personal stories of discovery, and just how great it is to be queer.

For more info on Jason June’s debut novel, Jay’s Gay Agenda, head here. And follow Jason June on Instagram.

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