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I don’t have much of a coming out story. My mom (who, plot twist, turned out to be queer too!) raised my little Puerto Rican self with an unshakable sense that God made me in Their image and so I turned out exactly the way God intended. I had my first girlfriend at 15 but I never came out because I never felt like it was something I needed to confess. I already had a label for who and what I was: Christina Nieves. Growing up, my mom saw me as a just another kid discovering who I was, like everyone else, which allowed me to embrace myself and my queerness.
Not everyone is afforded the privilege of existing without fear. We live in a world where many people are shamed, harmed and even killed for being who they are. For just existing. As writers, our superpower is that we can conjure entire worlds into being, and those worlds can be of service to what was, what is or what will be. I want to help create a world we have yet to see, where BIPOC and queer people like me get to exist unafraid, unashamed and having a damn good motherfuckin’ time!
Enter Generation, the radically queer brainchild of Zelda and her father, Daniel Barnz. I was hired as the writers’ assistant and felt so much gratitude to be part of a team that wanted to tell authentic, joyful, inclusive, hilarious and heartfelt queer stories. Then one day, my showrunners called (actually, Zoomed) and told me that not only would I be co-writing an episode with Zelda and Daniel, but they were promoting me to staff writer. Cue the waterworks! I went on to write a second episode later in the season, signed with literary agents, started making real money for the first time in my life and took my career to the next level. I was once again being seen, this time by my bosses, as a talented writer who deserved a seat at the table, which helped me to see myself that way too.
I’m not the only person who felt seen by Generation. My 40-something tia called after the premiere, sobbing because she unexpectedly recognized her teen self in the show’s Gen Z characters. A friend in his 30s texted to say he never realized how badly he wanted kids until he saw himself reflected in Joe, a Black gay dad on the show. A queer teenager from Texas messaged me to say watching Generation “was the closest I ever felt to being understood.” I’ve read hundreds of tweets about the show and so many of them boil down to the same essential thought: thank you for seeing me.
To be seen is to be loved. Whether it’s by your mom, your boss, or a TV show, being seen can change your life. It’s a hug. It’s a green light. It’s a damn party. It’s a gift I’ve been given so many times and I’ll keep paying it forward until we all feel truly, deeply seen.
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