Jarrett Key

Interviewed By Sebastián Castro Niculescu

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1990 (00:56)
Columbus, GA (01:04)
Twun brother (01:15)
John Keyy (01:16)
Queer (01:18)
Rural area (01:27)
First swing set experience (01:49)
New York (02:55)
Graduated University 2013 (03:26)
Summer (03:31)
Italy (03:40)
First vacation (03:43)
Official move to NY (04:08)
Supportive parents (05:21)
Brown University (05:58)
Twins in the city (06:26)
Johns current family (06:33)
LGBTQ community (07:24)
Brookstone high school (08:08)
Per dominantly white (08:11)
Twins scholarship (08:15)
High school life (08:19)
College life (08:58)
tpoc ( originally meant theater people of color to them) (09:30)
Art collective founder (09:49)
6 main qtpoc members (09:56)
Art mission in community (10:17)
Qtpoc overlooked (11:07)
Family history (12:48)
Grandmother inspiration (13:04)
Grandmothers life story (13:10)
Hair is strength (13:45)
Bible story (13:51)
Bushwick, Brooklyn (14:38)
John Basquiat (14:44)
James Baldwin (16:01)
Grandmother (18:31)
Lack of family in queer/trans people of color life (19:09)
14 years old (20:08)
Boy across the street (20:17)
Alabama (20:20)
First labeled gay (20:36)
Grandmother Denial (20:46)
Accepted queerness (20:54)
Evil disease (21:01)
Jerome (best friend) (22:05)
John (22:13)
Winter Break (22:29)
Family (22:52)
New York (23:19)
Mother coming to terms (23:56)
MFA program (24:37)
April/May (24:49)
Dad phone call (25:04)
Coming out (25:32)
Supportive but blind (26:02)
Pressure (26:54)
Childhood sports (28:06)
Musical instruments (28:48)
Springer opera house (29:10)
Brown University (29:21)
Theater major (30:17)
After College, Public theater (30:39)
Trayvon Martin (30:53)
8 months in painting (31:22)
Grandmother dream (31:42)
Hair painting (32:08)
Artistic life (32:42)
30 paintings, 3 years (34:14)
Alice Smith (35:07)
Live painting (36:17)
From 18x24 to 14 feet x 15 feet (36:47)
10th painting (37:51)
15th painting (38:57)
20th painting (40:23)
1700's (40:55)
Audience importance (42:26)
Columbus musem (43:14)
Performance (47:17)
Praise and worship (49:53)
Bathouse, Bedstuy Brooklyn (53:19)
Roommate painting union (53:42)
150 people (54:10)
First sold painting (54:22)
Last bathouse show (55:57)
4/5 years and 7 shows (56:02)
Retrospective (56:14)
Liz Morgan (58:24)
Official start of art company (58:50)
Zen festival (01:00:40)
Shifting gears for legacy (01:02:40)
Janelle Monae (01:04:50)
Qtpoc community (01:05:38)
College (01:07:15)
Public Theater (01:09:18)
2013 (01:09:28)
Queer/ trans / people of color (01:09:44)
Democratizing (01:13:40)
Future goals artistically (01:15:54)


Read transcript.

Interview Data

Date of Interview
July 25, 2018
Location of Interview
NYPL Offices, Midtown Manhattan
Place of birth
Columbus, Georgia
Gender Pronouns
Birth Year
Rights Statement
The New York Public Library has dedicated this work to the public domain under the terms of a Creative Commons CC0 Dedication by waiving all of its rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. Though not required, if you want to credit us as the source, please use the following statement, "From The New York Public Library." Doing so helps us track how the work is used and helps justify freely releasing even more content in the future.

About This Collection

NYC Trans Oral History Project

NYPL's Community Oral History Project is teaming up with the NYC Trans Oral History Project to collect, preserve, and share oral histories from our city's transgender and gender non-conforming communities. 

We'll be training a community corps of interviewers to collect these largely undocumented oral histories in order to build a lasting and expansive archive on NYC transgender experiences.

About the NYC Trans Oral History Project:

We are a collective, community archive working to document transgender resistance and resilience in New York City. We work to confront the erasure of trans lives and to record diverse histories of gender as intersecting with race and racism, poverty, dis/ability, aging, housing migration, sexism, and the AIDS crisis. 

We are inspired by the public history activism of the ACT UP oral history project to build knowledge as a part of our anti-oppression work. We believe oral history is a powerful part of social justice work, and that building an alternative archive of transgender histories can transform our organizing for transgender liberation. 

You can listen to interviews, search interviews tags (like #genderfluidity #self-knowledge #gentrification and #queerfamily), and soon read transcripts. We hope the interviews and tags will preserve and proliferate new knowledges about trans and gender non-conforming experiences.

Content warning: Many of the interviews here include personal accounts of violence, sexual assault, abuse as children, or trauma.