“I’ll trade you a graphic designer for an equal rights advocate.”
The generation that was raised on trading cards is all grown up, but still yearning to collect them all. Queer Kids is here to help. With trading cards primarily featuring Queer People of Color (QPOC), this Los Angeles based community group is looking to expand the local network, and have fun while doing it too. The Pride L.A. spoke with Queer Kids founder Asher Cano about the importance of the project on the LGBTQ+ community. Check it out below:
What is your involvement with Queer Kids?
I am the founder of Queer Kids. I am involved in the whole process from concept to production to creation – except for the actual taking of the photos. I leave that up to our talented photographer Jessica Marie.
In one sentence, what is Queer Kids? How long has it existed?
Queer Kids is a series of LGBTQ+ trading cards featuring your very own local queer community.
We launched QK in October 2018.
What specific event/reason/moment pushed you to create Queer Kids?
It is no surprise that there is a lack of representation in the media when it comes to those LGBTQ; however, there is an even larger absence of representation when it comes those who are both a person of color and LGBTQ.
Queer Kids was an idea that had been on the back of my mind for years. When I came out as non-binary and started trying to find others like me that’s when I realized the need for this project.
I was searching for something more in the community, something I was having trouble finding. I was searching for folks I could look up to and those I could relate to. I was looking for people who not only identified similar to me, but also looked like me. I find many others are doing the same.
Now why trading cards?
Well I wanted something fun, something nostalgic that encouraged engagement between folks that wasn’t solely online. I wanted something that I wish I had as a child.
How do you find people to feature on the cards?
The first few cards were really just a few of my friends and some of their friends. After that we have been letting word of mouth and the buzz do its work.
The project itself is all about community, and we love that people are sharing this project with those close to them and sending them our way.
Aside from that, we look for local LGBTQ people in our community who are making a difference. We find for those who are willing and able to speak out and tell their story.
Who have been some memorable folks featured on the cards?
Charlie Ruiz Vazquez (he/she/they)
Charlie was one of the first people to participate in QKs. Before meeting them, we had only photographed a couple of friends.
At the time we met, Charlie was working at Mi Centro. Mi Centro is a partnership between the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the Latino Equality Alliance.
Charlie is someone that inspires us with all the work they do for the LGBTQ+ youth. Even after shooting with us, Charlie continues to help us with future endeavors and keeps a keen eye on opportunities for QK.
Nik Kacy (they/them)
Nik was someone I met at our first Queer Kids event. They first caught my eye when they posted on our Facebook page. They said they wished this project were something they had when they were younger. We loved that they understood our vision.
Nik’s activism, involvement and passion for the community is what immediately drew us to them. They are someone we look up to and hope to continue working with.
Frankly, there are so many amazing folks in our community and so many memorable stories. And to think we have just begun!
Everyone we get the chance to meet with has given us the chance to share their story and we are so honored.
How is it more than just trading cards? (Creates community, representation, resources, etc)
You’re right; we are much more than trading cards. Queer Kids mission is to celebrate and highlight QPOC, those marginalized and underrepresented in the LGBTQ+ community by allowing them to connect, share advice, share stories and learn about each other in a fun way. The cards and project allow folks to be their own representation and find a deeper sense of community among peers.
In addition, the project is designed to be a resource for queer youth and focuses on giving back by partnering with local non-profits.
Why should someone participate in Queer Kids?
Queer Kids is all about helping those who are in need, those who are maybe one step behind you in their journey. It’s about continuing to strengthen our community and foster queer spaces. It’s about being able to be that representation, tell your story and have some fun doing it.
Why is it important to foster queer safe spaces in the local community?
The importance of safe queer spaces in the community is so crucial. Queer folks need spaces to not worry about judgment and to not worry about their safety. They need spaces where they can be open, talk freely; a place to feel supported and loved. We do our best to foster safe spaces with our events and online.
It is important for the community continue to push for these spaces to exist and support those that do exist.
What’s in store for Queer Kids’ future?
In the future (soon future), we have plans to grow.
Since this project is about representation, the power that plays and the need for making that space, it is important that we expand to other locations and continue to reach as many folks as possible.
Not to mention, we recently received our first batch of physical samples of the trading cards – so we are excited about that!
The next event for Queer Kids will take place on Sunday, March 24 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a photoshoot pop-up at the Sunday Funday Queer Brunch in Long Beach. For more information on the event or on Queer Kids in general, visit the website at .queerkidscards.com.