How To Be You
An Interview with Jeffrey Marsh
Jeffrey’s popular Vine has over a quarter of a million followers, and they have a quarter of a billion views across social media platforms. Jeffrey, who is genderqueer, created the popular hashtags #DontSayThatsSoGay and #NoTimeToHateMyself that have exploded among fans of all ages and beyond the LGBTQ+ community. They are noted for their inclusive image and for realistic positivity. Jeffrey was an official red carpet correspondent for MTV/Logo and GLSEN in 2015. They also are a featured writer for The Huffington Post and Medium.
Jeffrey says they never expected the success they have found on social media. Their main aim is to help people accept themselves. Jeffrey’s own coming of age was fraught with struggle, but they eventually learned self-love.
“You cannot truly start to be yourself and love yourself until the internal beatings stop,” they said.
Jeffrey describes the forthcoming book as a workbook that allows readers to tear out pages and create their own book as they read. Jeffrey took all of the questions they get on social media and condensed the inquiries into nine basic chapters. As you are reading you get to create the book along with me, Jeffrey said. The book allows you to answer questions, tear out pages about the things you do, and hopefully illuminate a path toward self acceptance, they said.
“I realized I have not spoken to one person online in any of the work that I have done who has not been told in one way or another that there is something wrong with you. I have not found that person who wasn’t told that at some point,” Jeffrey said.
Many people assume that Jeffrey’s fans are primarily young LGBTQ people, but Jeffrey says their fans come from all walks of life. Young, old. Rich, poor. Gay, straight.
“All parts of humanity seem to identify with this message of transcending the hatred we are taught to have inside of us. And that’s what the book is about,” Jeffrey said. “It’s not necessarily about how you become the perfect thing that society wants you to be. It’s quite the opposite. It’s how you become self aware, and then this is how you begin to love what you’ve just become aware of. And..that’s how you become you.”
Jeffrey grew up in Pennsylvania and is the child of a Lutheran pastor. They found out about two months ago that while growing up that their mom, the pastor, stormed into the school and demanded that someone be held accountable for the constant bullying that Jeffrey faced in school. Looking back, Jeffrey says they wished they knew their mom did this back then, but there’s still a larger lesson to be learned, they said.
“I love that she advocated for me,” Jeffrey said, later adding: “It’s a huge part of ending bullying. You need to be able to accept the help that is given to you. Part of getting past the hate is not going at it alone.”
Much of the internalized hate people face everyday isn’t necessarily created inside, Jeffrey said. Rather, it’s like a machine; it’s something we are taught.
“We internalize that machine, so in a sense it feels like something that is done to us rather than something we do to ourselves,” they said.
Often, things that are popular online are filled with racism, sexism, homophobia, and just plain old hate.
“It hurts my heart so much. I’m not doing any of that stuff, and I’ve still become popular. It blows my mind almost everyday. I try to make Vines to counterbalance some of that sad and lonely.”
A favorite tip from Jeffrey’s forthcoming book, “How To Be You,” is a way to deal with haters head on.
“If you are in the moment with a hater and a hater is berating you and saying mean things to you, nothing with short circuit a hater like agreeing with them,” Jeffrey said. “If they say you are so queer…you just look at them, and say, ‘Yes, you’re right. I am queer.’”
Jeffrey cautions that it’s OK not to come out if it’s not safe. It’s important to stay safe and always protect yourself. As far as self love, Jeffrey said they have learned it boils down to a basic truth.
“You will never be happy unless you tell the truth about who you are,” they said.
About the Author
Christine Romero is the editor of Matthew’s Place. She has a background in writing, editing, public relations, and marketing. A graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, she was a newspaper reporter in Arizona and Colorado and later worked in public relations. She has long been involved in various LGBTQ organizations, including those that worked to create safe spaces for youth. Christine identifies as a Latina lesbian. Christine lives with her wife and their two children in Denver. She began her work at MatthewsPlace.com and the Matthew Shepard Foundation in April 2013.
Originally published at www.matthewsplace.com.