We had an exciting opportunity to chat with our headline panelist, the one and only Ms. Junior Mintt. Read more to hear about drag, her makeup line Mintty Fresh, and all things LGBTQ+: pride, allyship, and community.
Junior Mintt will be part of our next Pride and Joy Parent Event: Prepping Your Family for Pride, open to everyone and anyone who would like to be part of the conversation. Learn a little more about Junior Mintt on this post and catch her on Tuesday May 16 at 4pm PT/ 7pm ET for more on the conversation around all things pride. You can save your spot here!
"Being queer means embracing change and fluidity. Queer does not mean one thing, so embrace the fluidity of identity if you’re an ally and check your assumptions at the door. As a 28-year-old Black Trans woman, I am still learning and growing as I get to watch the queer youth begin to expand even further our understanding of gender. From Neo-pronouns to Tik Tok, think of being an ally as a chance to get to know your friend, family member, or child on their own terms." -Junior Mintt
Pride and Joy Foundation (PJF): What does Pride mean to you?
Junior Mintt (JM): Pride to me means queer Joy springing from the roots of queer oppression. Pride is living the wildest dreams of our queer ancestors. Pride is seeing your community and being seen by your community. Pride is 24/7, 365, not just a month!
PJF: Who and/or what helped support you in coming out?
JM: In coming out, the biggest support that I had were my friends. I came out as gay in college, and trans post-grad in NYC. But my chosen family was the one who made me feel valued for my identity. But they also made me feel like no matter how anyone felt about me being queer, I would have a chosen family in them. So when I began to come out I knew that what someone else thought of me didn’t matter, because I have plenty of people in my life who love me. The main reason I was able to have that discernment to have such amazing friends was that my mom allowed me to hang out with anyone I wanted, and I would always hang with the girls, and that was a lot of the people who made me feel the most special. It’s an important lesson to parents to let their kids discover themselves and find friends that maybe they didn’t expect them to find. Because that’s how you get to find your chosen family.
PJF: What do you feel is one of the biggest myths centered around the LGBTQ+ community and how do you think we can change people’s misconceptions?
JM: Well, I think it’d be very difficult to decide not which one is the biggest, but I can say that all of the myths people believe are stereotypes rooted in dehumanizing us. From an expectation of femininity or masculinity for trans people to the dangerous lies of saying that queer people and drag queens are groomers. Any stereotype and myth only stand to dehumanize us, so I don’t think I could pick one as the biggest.
PJF: What are three things you need/want from an ally?
JM: From an ally, I need Accountability, Accessibility, and Listening. At the end of the day, an ally is an outsider to a community that wishes to support that community. And by supporting that community, you must first listen to them. Listen to them when they say what they need, listen to them when they say how they hurt, and listen to them when they say you’ve hurt them. And with listening comes accountability. Being able to be held accountable by the community and yourself. With accountability I mean not only when you’ve accidentally caused harm, but also when you’re trying to do good. If the community says they need shoes, don’t give them jackets, get them shoes! And lastly, accessibility.
We want to see you in our communities not just when it’s a pride party, we want to see you at the protest, at the food bank, and at the clothing drive. If the community doesn’t have access to you because if we can’t get to know you, we can’t get to trust you.
PJF: What makes you feel most supported in the LGBTQ+ community?
JM: When it comes to allyship, I feel most supported when I see your faces consistently and all around. As a queer person I navigate my community regularly, but when I see an ally’s face consistently at drag shows, protests, and rallies, it makes me feel seen in the way that I think “This person is taking the time to support and show up for queer people in all the facets of our lives. In the joyous, the difficult, and the dangerous.
PJF: How important was a safe affirming adult in your life?
JM: Essentially, I was blessed at every stage of my life with at least one adult who allowed me to be me! That is why I always offer advice to queer youth that the best thing they can do is find all the places and adults that they can be their full selves with, and hold on to them. If it’s your friend's house and your parents, an arcade, etc. try your best in all that you can spend as much time there as possible.
Being young in this country affords you no autonomy over your own body, so fight for yourself as much as you can.
For me, I got very lucky with a mom who let me just exist, but at the same time, it takes more than just one parent sometimes, and that was my guidance counsel or in HS, my drama teacher, my 4th-grade art teacher, and countless others who encouraged me in all the ways that you need outside of your family.
PFJ: What makes you feel most seen and validated in your everyday life?
JM: In my everyday life, it’s the most validating to wake up, understand who I am, and have loved ones and family and allies see me for who I know I am. It’s the most validating because, with all of that, it feels like I’m in control and there’s no one who gets to make decisions about my body but me. I get to decide how I’ll look, what I’ll wear and there’s a crowd of people who love me who’ll remind me how amazing I am if I ever forget.
PJF: How did you get into performing drag?
JM: I got into performing because I would be watching a drag race in college and I always said to myself “That seems so fun, I bet I would be pretty good at It!” And then when I moved to New York, I started going to more and more drag shows and eventually I saw a flyer for a competition at a bar and my friend convinced me to sign up! I performed a week later and didn’t win, but all of my friends showed up and for the first time it felt like I’d finally shown my truest self to them. I’ve been performing ever since!
PJF: What was your first show like?
JM: It was at a huge venue named “House of Yes”, and the entire place was packed with like 150 people! In the dressing room, I made so many friends that I’m still close with today! It was loud, exciting, and anxiety-producing, but the one thing that made it all worthwhile was the fact that everyone backstage was supporting and helping one another. Zip-up costumes, makeup tips, and good lucks, it was an environment that made me feel like I had a place.
PJF: What drag performer inspires you?
JM: A drag performer that inspires me is Jasmin Van Wales, she is a phenomenal performer, a legend of ballroom, and a proud Black Trans woman! She is truly the type of woman that I want to continue to grow to be. My favorite performance of hers is one of her doing an 8-minute Ella Fitzgerald jazz song WITH scatting! She isn't a queen on drag race, but she is a queen of the NYC community.
PJF: What does drag mean to you?
JM: Drag is an art form that explores the entirety of gender and humanity. It allows you to reflect and show reverence for your idea of beauty, horror, gender, sci-fi, etc. There are no boundaries when it comes to the drag persona you can create and all of it is a reflection of who you are. Whether that be a drag queen, drag king, drag thing, drag creature, or drag alien, it’s all a part of the love and interests that make up who you are.
How did Mintty Makeup begin?
JM: Mintty Makeup began because after I would get home from a drag show it would be really emotional to take all the makeup off. I would want to sit in it for hours and then end up going to bed at 4am. One night I was talking to myself and asking myself why I wanted to keep it on so bad and as a joke I said “Because in this I’m a woman!”
And then it all clicked to me, I can be a woman whether I wear makeup or not because maybe I am a woman.
After that, my love of makeup made so much sense and so when the pandemic hit, a friend asked me what I wanted to do with my career when I can’t perform anymore because it’s not a matter of if you become disabled it’s a matter of when. I spoke about my love of makeup and how it’s impacted my own sense of self-empowerment and the rest is history!
PJF: If you could go back to your younger self and give that younger self advice, what would it be?
JM: I would tell my younger self that life does get better, but it doesn’t get easier. I’m so very thankful for every hurdle that I’ve managed to overcome, but those hurdles are the reason why I have the skills and strength that I do right now. So I would tell her that there is no life without hurdles or something to overcome, whether that be in your personal life or in politics policing your body. But what will also come with those hurdles are friends, loved ones, and community. All of these are there to help get you over the hurdle whether you know you can or not. Younger me is a sweet emotional kid, and you’ll grow up to be a sweet emotional woman, but I can guarantee you, when you get to 28 years old, you will have joy, freedom, and happiness. And I promise you, you will not look like, what you have been through.
About the Author:
Junior Mintt (she/her) is out to show how Mintty the world can be with a little kindness, empathy and a strong Black, Trans, Queer perspective. She is the creator of Mintty Makeup which is now on sale at over 650 JCPenney stores and has been featured in Vogue Beauty, The CUT, thrillist, ID, and Gayletter for the work she does on stage and in our community. She is a co-host of the Brooklyn Liberation March and the creator of her own talk show “The Junior Mintt Show” and her monthly drag show “In Living Color.” No matter what classroom, set, club or runway you experience Junior Mintt, you will leave feeling motivated and embraced. You can find her on Instagram and venmo @juniormintt