Exclusive Interview with LGBT Blogger & Activist Jake Van GoghJavonni Brustow
Photo Credit: Jake Van Gogh/ Instagram
If you have been on YouTube, Facebook or any other social media site, you might come across the videos and posts of the passionate blogger Jake Van Gogh. He allowed us to get to know him more by answering some of our questions.
(1) Who is Jake Van Gogh and what drives him?
Jake: I’ve been trying to figure that out for a long time now, but I think I’m on the right path. Jake is someone who has a voice, a brain, and the capability to do great things. Jake is someone who is trying to bring attention to and voice his opinion on many of the important issues that face our society, from LGBT rights to abortion, I try to approach subjects in a common sense and fact oriented way, with a dose of humor.
(2) How did you get into blogging?
Jake: It was never my direct intention to get “into” blogging. It just kind of happened. I was sitting around one day scrolling through Facebook and thinking to myself, “I see all of these videos on various things, but I don’t see anyone speaking about REAL issues such as marriage equality, ongoing discrimination, etc”. I wanted to use my platform for something different than most. I mean, anyone can post a political opinion online, but I wanted to take a different approach, I wanted to talk on video and back up what I was saying with real credible information, kind of like a journalist, but without the press pass haha.
(3) What is the objective for your activism?
Jake: When I hear the word “objective” I tend to think that people are referring to “endgame” as in “what do you want to come from this”. I think that’s an ongoing problem for those of us who want to really begin to change things. If I said “I want gay kids to stop being bullied in schools/I want the LGBT suicide rate to drop” than I am saying that what I am doing will directly affect that. I am not that naive, what I want is for people to open up their minds to different opinions, and to see things from different angles. I think that if there is any “objective” to what I am doing, it’s that I want people to think differently. I guess it comes down to hoping I can get people to look at things that may not affect them directly, and to understand how different communities are impacted by our cultural conditioning.
(4) How did you develop your style? Do you consider your style as punk, goth, or something else?
Jake: When I was younger, I found that the clothing everyone else was wearing just didn’t “fit” me. It was more than just a “this is too big” or “this is too small” thing, it was more of a “this doesn’t represent how I feel”. I wore a ton of black clothing and still do, but as I began to grow older I started experimenting with wearing makeup. What I put on my body does not necessarily fall into any one category of style, I wear what I like, what i feel like expresses who I am, and styles that I enjoy. I’ve been told that the way that I appear is quite intimidating to others, which is always good for a laugh. Others say that they can’t take me seriously because of my appearance. To those people I also laugh. It’s funny. We spend our entire lives trying to develop the individual, and guide them into using their full potential, until it comes to physical appearance, then we tell them that “no one will take you seriously if you look like that”. I dare them say the same thing to someone such as the late David Bowie or Madonna, I’d argue that the look is equally as important as what you are doing. You are a brand when you are a public figure to any degree.
(5) How does your sexuality influence your views?
Jake: I’m not sure that my sexuality directly influences my views as much as it influences some of the things that I care about. I think a great example of this is bullying, but not just any bullying, the bullying of lgbt kids. Bullying across the board is unacceptable, yet when coupled with the fact that many lgbt kids are not yet out to their families, the issue becomes compounded as they feel that they cannot talk to their own parents about the issue out of fear. If we were to subtract the sexuality out of the situation, then the kid would be much more confident in talking about the fact that they were being bullied at school. For some reason or another, many people seem to think that just because same sex marriage is now legal at the federal level that all of the anti-lgbt sentiments would just “poof” and disappear. This isn’t the case.
(6) According to you, what is the most pressing issue in the world and how should we address it?
Jake: If we are talking on the global scale, I would say that the continuing wars in the middle east, the issue of nuclear north korea, and climate change are all pretty important. As far as addressing these issues is concerned, we need to step back and look at the situations both in the middle east and North Korea. It seems that America always seems to feel the need to act as the “world police” but never actually wants to improve the reasons as to why these issues come about in the first place. Climate change is another tricky problem, I’m not sure how we could address it other than by taking the steps to lessen our carbon footprints and investing in clean renewable energy.
(7) Would you ever consider running for office? Why or why not?
Jake: Yes and No. Yes because I think that I genuinely care enough and are capable of handling a political position of power, and no because I would be angry if I were unable to achieve any of my goals in that position for whatever reason.
(8) What are the pros and cons of being a social media personality?
Jake: Well, your “personality” status is only as valid as what you are doing with it. I could sit here and be one of those fancy bloggers and trendsetters who posts nonstop about what they are eating, where they are going, and what they are wearing, but I think most of that is just a bunch of bullshit. I’m able to use the network that I’ve built over time in order to inspire change and create thought where many may have not been willing to look. For example, more recently I tackled the controversial subject of mental heath and transgender individuals, and tried to explain why people are confused about the definitions of mental disorders in relation to trans folk. What I’m trying to say is, I have a platform that I can use to bring attention to issues that I find important, weigh in on issues that others are discussing, and do it in my own way.
(9) If you could have a meeting with President Trump, what would you discuss with him?
Jake: Well, Trump seems to be a pretty easy person to read and manipulate, so naturally I would just be completely honest with him. I’d talk to him about how his image does not come before our country. I’d tell him to lay off of the twitter account unless it’s for positive reasons, to stop abusing his bully pulpit position to attack those who disagree with him, and remind him that he’s not just the President of his own brain or his own party, he is supposed to be representative of our entire country. From the homeless veteran on the street, to the drive thru attendant taking his McDonald’s order, we are his people. What is he going to do for us? I keep hearing this “Make America Great Again” bs, but I’ve yet to see any meaningful change come from this administration.
(10) What is the main message that you are trying to get across to your followers?
Jake: I want people to be confident in speaking up, standing up and having a voice. I would have never thought that I’d be sitting here answering these interview questions when I made my first political video, but here I am. I think that a lot of people don’t recognize their full potential and get scared of being looked at as “that guy” when it comes to using their voice, they are scared to have their views debated, and occasionally criticized. I think we need to work on that. I think we need more discussion, more debate, and less fighting.