Anna Guyton and Jacksun Smith
Jacksun easily stands a head taller than me, if not two. Their legs seem to go on for miles, with a black outline of gremlin elegantly tattooed above their right ankle. With an iconic head of curly hair, a smile that lights up a room, and the fashion sense of a young adult who was never allowed to go through an emo phase, Jac holds a place in my heart that is beyond special. In the fetal stages of our friendship, I labeled Jacksun as my platonic soulmate and have yet to be disproven. So much of who I am can be attributed to so much of who they are, so who better to talk about Identity with?
Anna: How would you define identity?
Jac: Identity, to me, is just how someone expresses themselves. That can have to do with gender identity, sexual identity, or any number of other things. Gender identity has been on the forefront of my mind lately, and I feel that it’s unique because you can identify as completely different from how you look. A lot of people who don’t understand identity, specifically gender, are caught up in binaries, and get confused when you appear masculine (for example) but don’t identify as such.
Anna: With that said, aesthetics can definitely play into identity.
Jac: For sure, there are all kinds of categories you can fall into within your identity. Those categories are often place upon you, though, depending what people see you as.
Anna: Can you truly separate aesthetic from identity?
Jac: They definitely go together in certain ways, but there’s certainly a difference between the two. Identity is so complex and has so many different variables, where as identity is just one part of the giant equation that equals your identity.
”We're all so complex, there's no way to pinpoint what makes you "you" using just looks.
Anna: What effects has social media had on our generations ideas or perceptions of identity?
Jac: Social media has given us a platform to see what everyone else is doing, questionably to a problematic extent. It’s very easy to explore and find identities, or even aesthetics, and start to adapt them.
Anna: Going back to gender and sexuality, how does social media affect that dynamic and/or discovery?
Jac: It can be very powerful, as it is very easy to see the queer community through social media. Growing up here in the bible belt, a very rural area, its not as easy to see that community so openly. With social media you can follow queer people in order to see their lives and lifestyles. It’s comforting because it’s relatable.
Anna: How does pride influence one’s identity? Can having pride in a certain identity, in your opinion, be beneficial or problematic?
Jac: It can be both, depending on your identity. If you live a very judgemental or crass life and have a lot of pride those aspects of yourself, you’re likely going to push that onto others. It’s easy to think in a very one sided manner when you have a deeply rooted pride in your identity. On the flip side, I hold a lot of pride in my queer identity. That pride gives me some sort of power. Whether or not that is used for good is dependent on the person.
Anna: How does our generation’s ideas regarding identity differ from past generations?
Jac: I find that identity is more important to us nowadays than it was in the past. People aren’t as afraid to break out of social norms. Before our generation, people were so worried about conformity,. They didn’t have nearly as much freedom to express their true identity and how they really felt.
Anna: How do you see this evolving? Where are we going from here?
Jac: We’re only going to get more expressive, free, and comfortable. At least that’s what I hope. Looking at our tract record, we’re only evolving. As long as we don’t backtrack.