Jack Guinness: “I would have loved a place to honestly discover who I am”

by | May 31, 2024 | Your Child's Identity | 0 comments

From Dolce and Gabbana model, to award show host and author of LGBTQ+ essay collection ‘Queer Bible,’ Jack Guinness has become a big name in the queer creative space. But what took him to this place, and what advice does he have for people within it? 

When you hear the word ‘Guinness,’ you might instinctively think of the glossy, ruby red draught beer loved and adored by many (but mostly the Irish) and known by all. But Jack Guinness couldn’t be further from the famous beverage, paving his path as a champion of LGBTQ+ rights and voices. The son of a vicar, Jack faced many challenges growing up queer, and now works to celebrate the global queer community and disrupt the silence. 

He says, “I think the biggest issue for young LGBTQ+ people is feeling safe enough to have these conversations and also the danger of silence. I would have really loved a place to be really able to share honestly the process of discovering who I am.

“So often, these kids may feel safe to have these conversations with parents, and parents may be safe to have the conversations with their kids, but we’re so afraid of getting it wrong especially when talking about subjects in the queer space, often people just don’t have those conversations at all. This leads to a layer of silence and shame, where maybe people have the best intentions but they just don’t know how to start those conversations.”

In 2021 Jack published his book ‘Queer Bible.’ The book is a collection of essays featuring queer icons such as Elton John and Sir Ian McKellen writing about their own queer heroes, featuring original illustrations designed by an LGBTQ+ artist. The purpose of ‘Queer Bible’ is to inspire queer people and encourage them to tell their stories, with their own voices. When it comes to parents of LGBTQ+ kids, Jack believes open conversation is the best way to connect with your children. 

Jack says, “I think there is a lot of fear around the unknown and your LGBTQ+ child entering a homophobic society, but when you tell these stories about other LGBTQ+ people who have gone before you, it kind of takes away a lot of the fear of the unknown and also helps you understand that LGBTQ+ people come all different shapes, sizes and life experiences. 

“The most empowering thing that any marginalised group can do is connect to their history. It gives you a sense of location, it gives you a sense of pride and it also helps you understand that you are not alone.”

Jack grew up during the Conservative implementation of Section 28, which banned the promotion of LGBTQ+ identities and rights in schools and public bodies. This silence surrounding queer stories led to many young people entering society with little to no education on who they were. 

He says, “Section 28 meant an entire generation of people grew up with no sex education, which was incredibly dangerous because it was at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

“On an emotional, psychological and spiritual point of view it meant that young people felt completely alone exploring their sexuality and their gender identity. It left a whole generation feeling like they were the only people who had felt like this before.”

Jack created ‘Queer Bible’ to connect young people to who he describes as the ‘most fabulous, beautiful and bravest human beings to ever exist.’ By connecting young queer people to their icons, he hopes this LGBTQ+ love can transpire to their parents, harbouring a safe and communicative environment. 

Jack says, “I think what I would say to parents would be to not go into interactions with your children with an agenda but to go in holding space so your child can explore and share where they are.I would also say the journey of becoming and discovering who you are isn’t a one stop process, it’s an evolution. 

“I am still exploring different parts of myself, questioning different parts of my identity and parents have to understand that being LGBTQ+ isn’t a phase but it can certainly be a lifelong journey. My main advice is to hold space, really listen and to have patience and empathy and be open minded.”

But this creation of empathy and understanding should also be extended to the LGBTQ+ youth, who are in a position to support their parents through their journey in the queer community.

He says, “Young people need to have generosity of spirit when they are dealing with their parents who maybe don’t quite understand what they are going through and that the process of learning and discovery is something that happens for parents and children together, and it shouldn’t happen in isolation. 

“Don’t be ashamed. Be proud of who you are and know that one day all these things that you are scared to show other people, all the things you may be bullied for are going to be the best things about you in the future.”

Jack Guinness, presenter, author and activist. Listen now to Jack’s new podcast Queerphoria! Listen wherever you get your podcasts.