Jeremy Hooper is the founder of the website, Good As You and the author of the 2012 book, If It's A Choice, My Zygote Chose Balls: Making Sense of Senseless Controversy.
Here he answers a few questions about everything from his choice of title, to his fondness for flea markets, and why New York City isn't the only place a GLBT teen can hope to find happiness.
Your book blends memoir and social critique. What do you think is the benefit of personalizing the issues you address?
We've always known that our stories are our most powerful tools. For LGBT people, this is not about politics—it's life. So I wanted to back up my activism, where it is today, and tell stories from my life, which began well before my current political engagement and will continue on even if I leave this line of work. It really felt like that was the only way to convey the message that I wanted to convey.
What kind of response have you gotten to your title?
Much love, actually. My goal with the title was to tell the reader, from just the cover alone, that this was not going to be your typical LGBT rights book.
And I don't know why anyone would find it controversial. I mean, I do enjoy formal social gatherings that revolve around dancing :-)
Do you think things are different for GLBT teens growing up in your hometown today than they were for you in the 90s?
Gosh, I hope so! Because of Facebook and other social media outlets, many of my high school friends who still live back in my hometown and who are now parents have reached out to me with full-throated support.
You cite moving to New York as a key factor in really finding yourself. What advice do you have for young GLBT individuals who can't leave their communities?
There is support everywhere. You can find acceptance in rural Tennessee, just as you can find non-acceptance on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The red / blue binary isn't as sharp as we sometimes make it. There's lots of purple.
As a net person, I'd also have to say that the internet is such a blessing. I'd encourage anyone who might be looking to expand his or her boundaries beyond what might be immediately available to find ways to use the Internet to your advantage. Nowadays, you can accomplish so much, from personal connections to activism to creative endeavors, with just a keyboard and a connection.
And if you do have a place in mind that you dream to go, don't get stuck in thinking that it's out of reach. NYC seemed like a dream to me — a place people visit but don't call home. I mapped out a plan, struggled, and found a way to make my dream a home. Challenges don't have to be impenetrable roadblocks.
In your book you mention your high school love of the magazine Entertainment Weekly. What else did you like to read as a teen?
I've always been a non-fiction kind of guy. Anything covering pop culture from WWII onward, in particular. I wanted to know any and everything about the Baby Boomer era. I've always had a deep appreciation for a smart, unique take on a certain topic.
Though you just wrote a memoir, is there anything your readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I'm a flea market junkie. If given the choice between being up at 6 AM, with a coffee in hand and a potential gold mine of hidden treasures before me, or out at 2AM in the hottest NYC nightclub with a bevy of celebrities and the most well-made martinis, I'd choose the former every time.
Check out my review of Jeremy's book here!