Photo credit: Amy Sussman/WireImage
AE: Does race factor into your experience of being out?
JN: It does, and it’s so hard to know specifically where that comes
from. But it’s very different. Just walking down the street, and being with my
girlfriend [Claire Savage, 28, a social worker who works with LGBTQ youth],
sometimes we hold hands, sometimes we don’t. It kind of depends on the
neighborhood that we’re in.
But the people who ever have anything to say, they generally tend to be
people who are part of the black community. It’s such a hard thing to have that
be the case. It’s like you’re a minority within a minority within a minority.
At times it feels like you’re at the very, very, very bottom of the list. That
doesn’t feel good to anybody. I’m still trying to discover what that means and
what that’s like and why that is so threatening to people. I don’t know where
it comes from.
AE: What kinds of reactions specifically do you face?
JN: Mostly, it’s nasty remarks. There’s been one or two times where
Claire and I were worried about what was going to happen. There was an incident
near her work once in the Bronx, and we were anxious for a good two weeks
afterward. It was horrible; we were so nervous for her to go to work because,
what if this guy sees her and tries to pull something with her? Is anybody
going to come out and help her? What can I do to defend her in the way I would
want? I’m 5-foot-2.
It’s just part of being who you are and being honest about it and being
unashamed. And even with the crappy things that we’ve been through in regards
to having people be completely unaccepting, I think that the price of being in
love with somebody and knowing that you care about them and they care about you
in the same way, and being really happy, honestly, that’s worth the bad parts
of it. That’s just how it is. Love is not an easy thing to find, and when you
actually find it, everything else becomes kind of secondary.
AE: What is happening now with your illustrations?
JN: The comic that I have is called High Yella Magic. There was
actually some interest about a year ago with a major publishing company, and I
had a meeting with them and it went well. It ended up being a project that was
probably not the smartest for them to work on. I met with another woman, who
wanted to commercialize the comic as best that she could and capitalize on it.
I remember her saying specifically, ”Is this going to be a story about a biracial
girl growing up in Birmingham in the South, or is this going to be about
somebody who identifies as queer?”
Of course, this being my first foray into the literary world, I was
completely taken aback by that, because it’s just my story. It’s just what I’ve
experienced and that’s the story that I want to tell and that’s the story I
enjoy telling. I’m really comfortable with just processing and creating as it
comes out of me and putting it up online just to share it with people who are
For right now, I’m not interested in going out and trying to turn it into a
book unless it’s exactly what I want it to be.