The 20 Queer Qs series seeks to capture LGBTQ+ individuals (and allies) in a moment of authenticity. We get to know the subjects, what makes them who they are, and what they value.
These intimate conversations aim to leave you feeling like you just gained a new friend or a new perspective.
Get to know New York-based artist and illustrator Rooney, whose work explores contemporary queer culture. He’s worked with Google, Instagram, Converse, and other brands. You might recognize the Queer sticker he designed for Instagram’s Pride month. Learn what he feels most insecure about, his hopes for the LGBTQ+ community, and more.
Preferred Pronouns: He/Him
Sexually Identifies As: Gay with a Queer Sensibility
1. What do you love about the LGBT community? I love that being queer and part of the community has freed me from a lot of societal expectations and allowed me to create a community in an organic way that feels natural and has no rules.
2. What does pride mean to you? It means that we celebrate ourselves not in spite of our differences but because of our differences. Queer diversity is so beautiful and I have so much pride for my own and how others express theirs as well.
3. Who is someone you consider to be an LGBT icon? Keith Haring is one of mine. I know I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing as an artist without the contributions of many people, but specifically him. I draw a lot of inspiration visually, conceptually, from him.
4. Do you think LGBTQ+ youth have it easier now? I don’t. I think they have a lot more resources and visibility, they have access to a lot more than I certainly had growing up. I don’t think that makes it easier, but it makes it more bearable.
5. What advice do you have for LGBT youth? It’s gonna be okay.
6. Who is the most important ally in your life? It’s a tie between my mom and my sister. From coming out onward, they have been so understanding and patient and supportive and want to know about how I’m growing into my queerness. Not because they’re entertained, but because they’re getting to know the full me.
7. Do you believe in love? I do believe in love.
8. What are values that you look for in an ideal partner? Someone who wants to grow with me, to celebrate my growth as I celebrate theirs because we’re not going to be the same forever. Someone who can adapt and who wouldn’t be jealous of my growth and vice versa.
9. Describe what being queer is like in 3-5 words. Cute, Fun, Complicated, Frustrating, Exciting
10. What hopes do you have for the LGBTQ+ community in the future? I would hope that we continue this legacy of fearlessness and really actively demanding more from the world, society, and our government for actual, true equality for all queers throughout the spectrum. Even with Trump’s nonsense, I’m not super affected, but I should as a queer person care for others who are actually far more vulnerable and actively lifting them up and fighting with them.
11. What’s your earliest memory where you felt you were different? I remember spending a lot of time alone and in my head. I remember sometime around fourth grade realizing that that wasn’t the case for everyone. Fourth grade for some reason really sticks out because I think I was getting picked on a lot which awakened me to feeling different. But I also had a teacher who I adore to this day who would pull me to the side and assured me that I was special, loved, and that it was okay to be different.
12. What do you feel most insecure about? My creative vision, which is odd because I am so comfortable and confident with it but when I’m not feeling confident bout it, I’m wrecked.
13. What is the title of the current chapter of your life? Reign of The Red Devil.
14. What is a quality you find sexy? Self-love.
15. Do you feel that people are as authentic online as they are in person? It’s really complicated. Yes and no and I think that applies to the same people. I feel for me, what you see online is what you get IRL. There’s more to me IRL and there’s also so much I want to put out there. I think for the most part you are. We think we’re a lot more mysterious than we really are.
16. Have you ever / do you still feel uncomfortable holding another guy’s hand in public? Yes, and I think at least in some way I always will. I think there will always be this thing even if it’s tiny, I have this sense of alertness and who’s around me and it sucks.
17. What are deal breakers for you when dating someone? Any kind of femme shaming. Also anyone who’s not a fan of Carly Rae Jepsen.
18. How much does your LGBTQ+ identity play into your overall identity? Hugely. I’ve never understood the second I came out this whole thing where “being queer doesn’t define me.” When it totally defines me. Everything I’ve done in my entire life is based on my queerness. It is at my core who I am and is the reason I’m able to live authentically and happy.
19. Fill in the Blank: In 5 years I want to _________. Have made as much progress as I have in the last 5 years, that would mean a lot to me.
20. What value/quality has being queer given you? What have you gained? Fearlessness. I’ve always had it in me I believe, but nothing has ever given me permission to own it as making it my choice like my queerness has.