“Bushwick is a gay melding pot,” Haley Chang told me. The idea is what inspired the freelance director to spent the past few weeks interviewing locals in neighborhood on the subject of queer joy. 

The interviews are going to come out in small episodes over the course of June.

“The queer scene in Bushwick feels limitless to me. There’s such a range of people who live here. It’s not just parties, it’s not just the House of Yes,” she added. The scene has been a big reason Chang says that she moved to the neighborhood in the first place. She had grown up in Hawaii and came to New York to get a degree in film and TV from St. John’s University. 

Eventually, she felt drawn to Bushwick. 

“I decided through textile design or fashion design or painting or anything that is me. That is my work, that is my queerness. I feel blessed,” local designer Alexander Propios told Haley Chang. “Queer joy for me has always been synonymous with family because I think a lot of us didn’t have, I guess, the type of family that I guess sometimes people take for granted,” added Ian Kumamoto, who runs an arts collective called Whorechata.

“I feel like Bushwick is very gay, but in so many different ways. It’s not Hell’s Kitchen, where it’s just circuit parties – it feels like there’s something for every gay in Bushwick,” she told me. “There are people who have ordinary 9-5 office jobs, but also have very vibrant queer lives.” 

In her series of interviews, Chang used the occasion of Pride this year to talk to everyone from local fashion designers to arts organizers.

“Queer joy for me has always been synonymous with family because I think a lot of us didn’t have, I guess, the type of family that I guess sometimes people take for granted,” says Ian Kumamoto, who runs an arts collective called Whorechata. “I just like I really wanted to create a space where like I could, we could be with queer people without having to think of, like, the sexual politics and like how people are perceiving us sexually. And like, I think that was something that I couldn’t find in in white queer spaces.”

Alexander Propios, a local designer who currently interns for Victoria’s Secret, told Chang that he feels like he’s able to express that a lot in his work. 

“I decided through textile design or fashion design or painting or anything that is me. That is my work, that is my queerness. I feel blessed,” Propios said. 


Top image taken by Haley Chang.

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