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These Photos Celebrate The Joy & Intimacy Of Queer Friendship

From the community created between queer Black artists during the Harlem Renaissance in the '20s and the life-giving friendships between lesbians and the gay men they aided by bedside during the AIDS epidemic in the '80s to the thriving nightlife culture born out of the underground ballroom scene in New York in the '90s, queer culture and history has been defined by the power of friendship.
Today, your queer friends may be the ones you turn to when you are questioning your identity and very existence. They may become your family when you lose your blood relatives. They may be the ones you call first when you get a job promotion, go through a breakup or when you want to dance. They may be the ones you talk to when you simply need a good laugh. 
To investigate the state of queer community in 2024, we asked queer friends across the United States the question: What do your friendships with other queer people mean to you? While queer romantic love can often be viewed as radical, so can queer platonic relationships.
Photo Courtesy of Nick u0026 Jensen.
Nick, 38 (they/them, transmasc, non-binary, sexually fluid)
Jensen, 32 (they/them, transmasc person, pansexual/sexually fluid
Later in life friends
Brooklyn, NY
Nick: You can be from completely different walks of life, but we’ve all had very similar feelings. I came out pretty late as non-binary and trans and started hormones later. I had top surgery recently, at the age of 37. Even though there’s people around you, too, you can feel alone. But then you remember you have people like Jensen, that can really help you through it. You know that they’ve been there, that they know exactly what you’re feeling and that’s also super important even in a group full of queers. It’s nice to know that you have somebody that’s like, I truly see you and I truly know what you’re going through. You bond over that.
And we have the same top surgeon! I had surgery in October of this past year and Jensen had it in December. 
Jensen: Yeah, then it was really nice to have that person, that touchpoint, and to be able to check in on each other and share experiences. I think there’s a difference, too, between masc-presenting individuals and those that go through medical transition. I do think that there’s a different sort of level of kinship and connection when you’re dealing with your body changing and all the different things that come along with it versus just socially. Not that one’s more important than the other, but it is different.
Photo Courtesy of Allicia u0026 Jodi.
Allicia, 36 (they/she, genderqueer/queer)
Jodi, 31 (she/her, lesbian)
Dating to friends
Brooklyn, NY
What does queer community mean to you?
Allicia: I think when I came out, I feel like that’s when I started to be able to really get to know myself and I think the queer community really gives you that space because everyone is also doing that. Everyone’s just so supportive and welcoming and it has really created a place for me to continue on the journey to be my most authentic self when things have changed for me, like gender. I’ve always felt so comfortable, so I feel like the queer community is just my home.

Jodi: If you find the right community like Allicia said, it gives you the space in the safety to explore things that you may not feel safe exploring alone, like gender or I don’t know, I drag you to sex parties. I go to these sex parties because I’m exploring what my relationship is with sex, but if I didn’t feel like I was entering into a space that was a safe queer community [I wouldn’t be able to]. I think that’s just a good metaphor of what community means to me, is giving me the ability to explore things that scare me.
Photo Courtesy of David, Declan u0026 Elana.
Elana, 25 (she/her, bisexual)
Declan, 25 (he/him, gay)
David, 24 (he/him, gay)
Brooklyn, NY
What is something you value about queer friendships?
David: Recently, we had this conversation about code switching where I was like, I don’t feel like I code switch in my day-to-day life, but I definitely do. Everyone code switches, but I do think our friendship dynamic has made me so comfortable with how I speak and how I present myself that I don’t feel the need to code switch everywhere all the time. When I’m meeting someone new I’m not immediately like, let’s build a wall because of how comfortable I feel in this relationship, and I think that’s definitely because we know so many queer people and we’re friends with so many queer people, that I’m like right, this is just my life and who I am. Living with you guys and having a lot of queer friendships has made me more myself. 
Also, humour is prized above everything.
Declan: Yeah, going off of that, I was gonna say my favourite thing about queer friendships is the importance of actual joy. We all know that “the world wasn’t made for us” is a thing that is thrown around a lot, but in the relationships that we build, those are made for us, and we’re the ones making them. 
Elana: Most of the time we don’t approach the world with cynicism. We really approach it with earnestness and the attempt to laugh as much as possible. It is very much like, I’m gonna laugh so much, I’m gonna throw up.
Declan: That’s not to say that we can’t have deep, serious conversations. Like we can drop in and be there for each other and support each other when things get tough, but just in our everyday conversation, it’s always like, how can I make this person laugh?
Elana: I’ve said this to you guys, but I feel like we have an immense appreciation for being alive and it’s a conversation that we have a lot. 
Photo Courtesy of Colleen u0026 Elise.
Elise, 27 (she/her, queer)
Colleen, 27 (she/her, queer)
Childhood friends
San Francisco, CA and Austin, TX
What does queer community mean to you?
Colleen: One thing that I have noticed in the queer community is the intimacy of a friendship looks different. Friendship with women to me feels so uniquely intimate in a way that I know a lot of people I know who are straight maybe don’t see friendships that way. I’ve also found more in queer friends than not, that sentiment of, your romantic relationship isn’t everything to you in the way that I think it can be in a really heterosexual culture. So it [friendships] are more intimate. I flirt with Elise more than I flirt with anybody. It is fully platonic, and it always has been, but there’s something queer about women loving women in that way. Even when I love my straight friends, I still feel like I’m bringing a queerness to it.
Elise: I do think there is something to the fact that queer people always kind of attract each other. If you see one queer person, you see seven of them and we’re just all in the same room. Even in the most platonic and non-sexual, non-romantic capacities, queerness does interact with friendship in a way that is unique to that community. 
This is all speculation on my part, but I do think that to become comfortable with your own queerness and to acknowledge it or be able to verbalise it, does require such a deep level of self-reflection and ability to feel comfortable with yourself. The reason that I am comfortable with Colleen is because Colleen is comfortable with Colleen and Elise is comfortable with Elise. There’s something there about trusting someone who feels as comfortable with themselves as you feel with yourself.

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