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Meet Jay Long

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jay Long.

Jay, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I (Jay Long) grew up fond of music, playing violin since the age of four, and regularly singing/playing in churches. My father is a pastor/Theologian, and for most of my life I never missed a Sunday service. This was a challenge for my conscience, knowing deep down that I was a young queer person. In secretly coming to terms with my queerness, I found a source of solidarity and ability to play with my own self-identity in the arts and theatre. It was a place where I could be anyone, and a place where I could use music to tell stories and have shared emotional experiences with strangers. This is where I recognized the beauty of celebrating a shared difference through performance. Through participating in the world of arts, I discovered I could sing, and quickly got involved in vocal jazz, choral, and musical theatre. Growing up in Chicago I had a big love for hip-hop music, and the culture of rap. All of these influences add up in my music now, and have contributed to my own.

I started to really struggle with my secret self-identity towards the end of high school. It led me down a very dark road, and my first year of college I tried to take my own life. Through the attempt, I realized my own impact on the people around me. I realized the importance of honesty, asking for help, and showing your vulnerability. I started really investing in writing music and producing in this time, and it quickly became an outlet for my deepest feelings. I could not sort them out until I heard them played back to me in my own voice. I came out to my family and the world around me, and my quest for helping others heal through a shared experience began.

After coming out, I discovered a new community of people who were just like me. People who were queer and figuring it all out together. I wrote music inspired by them all throughout college, then moved to Los Angeles to begin navigating the music industry. I started a band, and began performing around all the spots in LA. The Mint, The Federal, The Library Bar, and various small bars in the city. My friends are very supportive and they show up, and show out. We come in full lewks, bringing queer representation everywhere we go. These gigs were a challenge, as they were all pay to play. I got tired of asking my friends to give money to some third party company I had no relationship with, and tired of paying others money to play my own music.

After two years of this, I stopped playing music live. I started teaching music in public school’s full time. During this, I went deep into writing and creating tracks. In doing so, I re-discovered my own sound and purpose: I love my queer community, and we all need some healing. It is a rich, diverse, creative, and dedicated community of people who come from challenging pasts. The realization felt very profound to me, and I then understood I needed to connect my music and purpose with that community.

Thus, the entity “Queer Moment” began. A few of my friends had been having the same experience interacting with the community. We are doing similar things, but so spread out. No longer would I ask my friends to give money to people I don’t connect with. I know a lot of queer musicians and performers, and follow a lot of queer artists journeys in Los Angeles. A couple friends came to me and said, “let’s do our own shows….” So, we did it.

We would be giving our money straight to the people who help and support us. Right before the pandemic began, we had our first live show together. We brought queer talent, vendors, gogo boys, drag queens, dance instructors, and various organizations into the same space to celebrate and support each other. The night was a huge celebration of all types of queerness that exist, and we raised over $1000 for “The LGBT Center” in Hollywood. We have a huge goal of uniting people under a shared difference, and giving directly to the people we know are supporting our communities . The “Redline Bar” was packed with people of different identities, sharing an experience of love. It felt like a party thrown by everyone who was there, just for them, and a “Queer Moment.” Through music, community, and performance, I hope to help equate “Queerness” with “Love.” If we continue to lead with love in this world, we continue to help each other love ourselves, and respect each other.

In creating this endeavor, I’ve discovered that I tend to take after my father, and “preach,” myself. I want to use that platform to continue to preach self love. We have to forgive ourselves in order to forgive the people around us, and raise our shared consciousness towards peace together. I’ve always been called a dreamer, but I don’t think anything can deter me from trying to change the world for the better. <3 -Jay Long

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been, and continues to be, a very arduous road. There has been one constant clarity in my life: I want to use music as a catalyst to help the people around me. In my mind, this comes down to teaching, or performing. I have the opportunity to help people in either way, but they conflict with each other. Working in education is the most difficult thing I have done in my life. The demand emotionally, physically, and mentally is so intense, it is hard to stay motivated towards writing and creating in what little free time there is left.

There are days when I take inventory of what I’m trying to do, and I get overwhelmed. Teach full time, write and produce my own music, help run a production company, up-keep/practice all of the various skills required in doing all of these things, and learn how to market/put out quality content. Teaching is full time, and you get very invested in the young people you work with. I must be hyper conscious of how I represent myself knowing young people are watching. This limits what I can say and do in my art in a big way, and I am always trying to safely walk that line.

On top of these things, I battle depression daily. I have a great set of skills to help maintain mindfulness, but that in itself is a full-time job. However, through it all, the passion and positivity carry on. 🙂

Please tell us about your work.
As the artist “Jay Long,” I am most proud of maintaining a message of hope and positivity, and bringing people together. It isn’t about one persons success. It isn’t about gaining numbers and fans. It’s about authenticity, and building real community together slowly. It’s all about love. The entity “Queer Moment” has a similar goal, and I am very proud to consider myself an activist within our community, highlighting queer spaces, artists, and people in what little ways I can. We are concerned with spreading positivity. We are concerned with showing the love and community that happens through the shared experience of being queer, and trying to bring that to everyone as a resource. Community and Love through the arts. <3

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me, is the ability to keep going. Sometimes, that comes from within, and other times it’s external. Something as simple as a stranger saying, “I love what you do, keep going.” So many things happen externally and internally that make me want to quit, so I feel successful when I can find ways to keep growing and going. I think the idea of success grows with you over time, but for now this is what resonates the deepest.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cameron Doyle, Elliot London

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