Alex looks back and shares with us his queer community discovery. Taking us from melancholy memories to the joy of the present, I think a lot of us will be able to relate to this comic and the quest for community. Your people are out there. You’re no alone.

A huge thank you to Alex for opening up a little and sharing this with us!

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↓ Comic Transcript
Alex, our genderqueer protagonist, uses he/they pronouns and is a medium brown skinned person with a slim frame and black locs that extend to the length of the ears and undercut. He is riding a cramped bus with their beach gear (a rainbow beach umbrella, cooler, and thermos), with a dozing guy leaning into him on the left and a mother tending to her crying child on the right.

Narration: Today, I went to my first-ever beach day with friends at Riis Beach-- the only specifically queer beach in New York City.

They look at their reflection in the window, smiling.

Narration: I realized how lucky I am to have queer friends to hang out with.

The bus doors open and Alex steps out, wearing pink shorts, strawberry knee-high socks, and green sandals.

Narration: Growing up, it wasn't like that.

Little stars and hearts of excitement pop around their head as they slide their heart-shaped sunglasses on.

Narration: It took time for me to find the community that could celebrate me.

In a flashback, we see Alex as a ten year old kid in a toy store. Their eyes light up as they spot a fashion doll in her box, and he brings it to his parents.
"Can I get this toy?" They ask, excited.
"Come on now," one of the adults responds. "you don't really want that, do you?"
In response, he looks embarrassed and worried.
As the family leaves, his mom asks, "Now are you sure you didn't want anything from the store?"
"I... uh didn't see anything I wanted." They respond, looking away while their sibling looks excited about their own toy they picked up.

In another flashback, Alex quickly removes his hands from their pockets, looking worried and alarmed as they are admonished by an unseen person, "Oh. Get your hands out of your pockets. It makes you swish when you walk. You don't want that."

Now a little older, Alex sits in a school art studio, drawing in their sketchbook while others are doing their own thing around him.

Narration: When I did find queer connections, those worries about "fitting right" disappeared.

"Hey, what are you drawing?" Asks a student from behind Alex, startling him.
"NOTHING!" They reply as they fumble their pencil and sketchbook.
"Can I see that?" The student asks, looking interested while Alex tries to "casually" lean over his book to cover it up.
"It's not something cool. It's kinda girly." They admit to the schoolmate.
"So?" His new friend asks and together they sit, talking while going through the sketchbook. Little hearts and stars sparkle around the two as they connect over a shared interest.

Page 4
Alex applies lipstick.
Narration: Those friendships supported and sustained me through tough times.

He looks at himself in the mirror, now in their 20s, wearing eye shadow, lipstick, and a magenta shirt. He looks uncertain of my themself but is interrupted by a knock at the door.

Narration: They were always there in one way or another.

"Come in." They call to the door, which is quickly flooded with friends entering the house.
"You better be ready, we gotta go." One says with a smile.
"Yo, you look amazing! I love the eye shadow." One friend says, while Alex smiles and poses, hearts and starts blooming around them. "ALEX! You decided to finally try the red lipstick I gave you?"
"Thanks, guys." Says Alex, looking absolutely delighted.

Back in the present day, Alex reclines on the beach next to a friend. Alex wears their heart-shaped pink sunglasses that go with their pink speedo.

Narration: Thanks to these friendships, I've found a sense of safety, value, and acknowledgment.

"Hey! Love your pink speed!" A new person announces as they approach Alex.
"I know right? It's my favorite." Replies Alex proudly, standing up and posing a little to show it off while stars and hearts flutter around them.
"Alex." Says the friend who was reclining with him. "We're going to head to the water."
"Hey, do you want to join us?" Alex asks the new person.
"Yeah!" The new person agrees as they all start heading towards the water. "I'd love to."