LGBTQ+ History Month Creator Profiles

Mar 21, 2021

Posted by: Emma Pocock

Fan Creators, Fan Profiles, Fandom, News

Last month was LGBTQ+ History Month, and to mark the occasion, we interviewed three LGBTQ+ community members about their experience in the fandom:

Gianfranco Lentini

Gianfranco Lentini is a New York-based LGBTQ+ journalist and playwright. Journalistically, he’s written for GrindrTime Out New YorkLGBTQ NationBackstageBroadway SpinSamuel FrenchTheatreManiaNYTheatre, and The Leaky Cauldron – that’s right, he’s on the team!

Artistically, his work has been developed and produced by Torrent Theatre, UNDER St. Marks Theatre, A Night of Play, Theatrical Response Team, and inspiraTO Festival, Canada’s largest short play festival. He has worked on Broadway as a production assistant for a number of shows including Disney’s FrozenHello, Dolly!, and Springsteen on Broadway. Off-Broadway he has been the associate director on many developmental shows with companies including Nederlander Worldwide, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and York Theatre Company. When he’s not writing, he is the producer of the wonderfully bibliophilic podcast Book Dreams.

1) What has been your experience being an LGBTQ+ creator within this fandom? How have you found community?

The LGBTQ+ community, both inside the Potter fandom and overall at large, has been the most supportive and encouraging audience for whom I’ve ever worked. Whether I’m crowd-reporting from Cursed Child or interviewing queer, BIPOC couples on what BLM means to them, this community truly cares about putting their best voice forward and lifting up voices of their counterparts that also deserve to be heard. It’s an honor to be able to give back to my community with my work. And for whoever needs to hear it, the cliche is true: If you build it, they will come. There will always be a community looking for your work. Just make sure your work is honest and true. That’s how I feel I’ve found my community.

2) Favorite inspirational LGBTQ+ public figure?

Someone I emulate (and gosh darn, I’m gonna nerd out) is Dr. Eric Cervini, the “homo historian.” I have SO much respect for the platform he’s built on social media to educate the masses about LGBTQ+ BIPOC history and current events. Between his monthly book club and his own book, “The Deviant’s War,” Dr. Cervini raises awareness to so many beautiful voices in our community. I’m inspired every damn day. And because I’m a writer, I need to shout out: Larry Kramer, Tony Kushner, Mart Crowley, Marc Acito, Tom Bianchi, Matthew Lopez, Adam Silvera, James Lecesne, David Levithan, Robert Jones, Jr., E. M. Forster… I’m sure I’m forgetting so many more!

3) Favorite quote by an LGBTQ+ public figure?

“I came to see imagination as the only reality. We could make whatever we wanted of our world. And if it dissolved like sandcastles in a rising tide, we’d make another the next day.” – Tom Bianchi

4) Do you have a favorite fan project/fanfic/fan creator/community you can recommend to other LGBTQ+ fans? 

Not everyone on this list identifies as LGBTQ+, but these are some amazing Instagram accounts that the Potter community should give some love to!


5) Any LGBTQ+ supporting charities, creators/organizations you’d like to give a shout-out to?

If you’re looking for places to learn how to get involved, how to donate/support, or how to stay educated, these are some INCREDIBLE organizations:

Human Rights Campaign
The Trevor Project
ILGA World

Jackson Bird

A good friend of The Leaky Cauldron, Jackson Bird is a light within our community, and we’re so proud and glad to know him! A writer and internet creator dedicated to demystifying the transgender experience by sharing stories from within the community, he’s the author of Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place (A Transgender Memoir), andhost of the podcast Transmission.

As an LGBTQ+ activist and speaker, Jackson has helped mobilize fans by playing a critical role in helping deliver The Harry Potter Alliance’s mission to create Wizard Activists. He’s also a YouTube NextUp Creator, GLAAD Rising Star Digital Innovator, regular LeakyCon presenter and  Will It Waffle? hero – all that to say, he’s an awesome, fun and inspiring guy!

1) What has been your experience being an LGBTQ+ creator within this fandom? How did you find community?

I remember sometime around 2010, I was listening to wizard rock and watching YouTube videos from folks like the Vlogbrothers and the Five Awesome Girls, and I had a thought I often think back on. At the time, there were a few couples among the more public leaders of the fan community and I had a thought of how cool it would if one day there was a publicly queer couple in the community. The idea seemed as unlikely as the slash ships we all devoured in a fanfic ever becoming canon. I didn’t even dare to wish for a publicly trans person in the community. Just maybe, one day, a same-gender couple making vlogs and dueting with each other at wizard rock shows.

It’s wild to remember thinking that because now it almost feels like more people in the fandom are part of the LGBTQ+ community than not. I think all of us finding ourselves and being open about who we are was just starting to shift when I came out publicly as trans in 2015. It had shifted enough that I knew I would be accepted by the community, but not enough that I knew any other openly trans people in my corner of the fandom (though that would quickly change). I’ve loved watching more and more people feel free to be their whole selves in the fan community over the years. I don’t think we can underestimate the power of having spaces that aren’t explicitly LGBTQ+ focused content-wise, but in which queer and trans people are welcome and encouraged to be unapologetically themselves. There’s a certain power in that.

2) Favorite inspirational LGBTQ+ public figure?

Oh man, this would have to be an epically long list. There are so many LGBTQ+ folks out there doing incredible work. I think right now I’d say Chase Strangio. They’re a lawyer who is both fighting for trans rights in his day job and constantly explaining various bills and court cases on social media, along with boosting ways to take action. They’re a must-follow.

3) Favorite quote by an LGBTQ+ public figure?

Another one that’s tough to choose just one! I often come back to this quote from author Elliott DeLine:

“I find myself making excuses for this kind of bullying behavior. Not everyone has been to college, learned trans 101, studied queer theory… But this is unfair to me and other trans people. I’ve come to realize that understanding me isn’t a matter of being an intellectual. Likewise, one doesn’t have to be radical to respect my feelings. Decent people consider how their comments affect others.”

4) Do you have a favorite fan project/fanfic /fan creator/community you can recommend to other LGBTQ+ fans? Recommend as many as you like!

I love the Trans-Affirming Magical Care fanzine that Alex Combs put together featuring a ton of awesome people and art.

5) Any LGBTQ+ charities, creators/organizations you’d like to give a shout-out to?

True Colors United here in the US does incredible work with LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness and, over in the UK, you’ve of course gotta support Mermaids!

Jenna at Swish & Flick

We’ve loved getting to know Jenna more over the past few months – she’s an awesome creator of Harry Potter themed pins, stickers, keychains, washi-tape and much more over at Swish & Flick, and even created a pin especially to support our Wands Up! Fandom Fundraiser for trans rights! Here’s her store bio: 

“I was born and raised in northern California, (specifically the Bay Area) and still live here. I graduated from California College of the Arts in 2011 with a BFA in graphic design. I started selling my own art on Etsy in 2015, but created the brand Swish & Flick in April of 2018. I created Swish & Flick because I wasn’t feeling creatively fulfilled at my day job, and wanted to get back to drawing and making things that I’m passionate about. I am a gigantic Harry Potter fan (and a proud Hufflepuff!), and I love creating things that other fans will enjoy. I run Swish & Flick entirely on my own. Besides art, music is my other passion. I love singing and playing guitar, and going to concerts whenever I can. I love tattoos; I have quite a few, including Alice In Wonderland, Nightmare Before Christmas, Peter Pan, Where The Wild Things Are, and Harry Potter. I am a total open book and wear my heart on my sleeve. My pride and joy (my cat) is named Oliver.”

1) What has been your experience being an LGBTQ+ creator within this fandom? How have you found community?

Honestly being gay hasn’t really affected me much as a creator. Of course it’s always nice to meet other LGBTQ+ creators, and I have met a handful. But I’ve also met a lot of folks that aren’t, and that’s fine too. As long as everyone is nice, supportive, and accepting, it’s all good! I definitely have found community, but like I said, it doesn’t have to do with being gay. I have found community with other pin makers and creators, a lot of whom also love HP. It’s been wonderful. I actually believe it’s nice that it’s this way because my sexuality isn’t relevant when it comes to my shop.

2) Favorite inspirational LGBTQ+ public figure?

Ah, there are so many, it’s hard to pick just one! A few favorites include musicians Tegan and Sara and actor Elliot Page.

3) Favorite quote by an LGBTQ+ public figure?

Thinking of quotes from LGBTQ+ people, poet Andrea Gibson immediately comes to mind. She has a beautiful way with words. There are so many, but here’s one of my favorite quotes from her (it’s pretty emo, sorry in advance, haha). “You have to understand when it hurt to love her, it hurt the way the light hurts your eyes in the middle of the night, but I had to see.”

4) Do you have a favorite fan project / fan fic / fan creator / community you can recommend to other LGBTQ+ fans? Recommend as many as you like!

I can’t think of anything current right now, but I LOVED taking part in the “Wands Up For Trans Rights” fandom fundraiser that Leaky and MuggleNet coordinated.

5) Any LGBTQ+ supporting charities, creators / organizations you’d like to give a shout out to?
Sure! Here are some LGBTQ+ artists to check out:

Speaking as a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself, it’s been a pleasure writing this piece (though it definitely took me way longer than it should have!) and speaking to and finding more people who support who I am and championing the freedom to self-identify and be your true self within the fandom and beyond.

Finding my people has been such an enriching and empowering experience, and I hope this year to help people find that for themselves by committing to sharing the stories and views of others more regularly.

The previous year in the fandom following J.K. Rowling’s statement on transgender women and the reaction from the fandom showed just how much work still has to be done. From Black Lives Matter to the #StopAsianHate movements, it’s clear that to move forward, we need to commit as a community to never permitting discrimination or hate in any way, shape or form. A zero-tolerance policy has been in place at Leaky from day one of me joining the team, and as Senior Editor I’ve seen first hand the kinds of vitriol directed at minorities on social media and the kinds of pervasive micro-aggressions that can so easily be overlooked. This has to stop.

I put this piece together as a celebration of a community – to focus on the positive aspects of embracing yourself and others. I hope that this is the prevailing message you can take from this.

If you’ve ever been to a Harry and the Potters show, you will have reveled in screaming this at the top of your lungs, and I hope it rings just as loud and true to new and old fans alike:

The weapon we have is love.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.