Editor’s Note: In Celebration of Us

An Editor’s Note on what’s ahead for Focus

There is no place gayer in these United States than the American South. 

One in three LGBT+ adults live in southern states, more than any other region, yet we’re constantly targeted and misrepresented in many popular narratives and our own governments.

Loving southern LGBT+ and queer communities keep us surviving. Local organizations and publications like Focus help us celebrate and thrive. This is why I’m so excited to join the Focus team as their Managing Editor, so that I may begin amplifying much of what this magazine already represents.

Focus will remain a beacon and resource for LGBT+ Midsouth residents and beyond. You can expect much more event coverage specific to LGBT+ locals that helps build community, promote fun within safe spaces, and facilitate care in our region in both our magazine and newsletter.

We’ll continue to use our platform to educate about LGBT+ sexual health, as the South has the highest rate of people living with HIV in the U.S. And as LGBT/queer culture continues to evolve, I’d love Focus to help bridge the gap between local LGBT elders and queer youth, as we all can learn so much from each other. 

I hope to help Focus be an open and welcoming doorway to so many worthy southern LGBT+ artists and writers who often face gatekeeping barriers in creative spaces. As an editor, I’m excited to highlight local LGBT+ artists’ work from all stages of their careers, as well as assist in cultivating young writer’s voices. 

As praxis, I understand that the personal is political. Therefore, while Focus will center mostly on celebrating creative and artistic stories, we absolutely won’t shy away from political news specific to our local LGBT+ community. 

Focus will serve as a hub for people across the U.S. who hope to learn more about LGBT+ culture in Memphis and the Midsouth. Our print and digital stories may join the many national and regional queer archives that work to show the resilient existence, persistence, and artistic contributions of LGBT+ communities in the South.

Though LGBT+ people should be celebrated and loved, we are also an often marginalized and oppressed community. As an LGBT+ magazine, we will stand in solidarity with all oppressed and marginalized groups, from those in Memphis, to Congo, to Palestine. 

As editor and as a Black transmasc person from Memphis, TN, I’ll work to foster a pro-Black, community-driven, all-abilities-supporting, imaginative, and caring queer space. 

I’m so, so excited to be in community with you all. Here’s to some wonderfully gay art and writing ahead!


Jasper Joyner (they/them) 🍉

Jasper in a yellow hat indoors in front of plants and one painting.
Image courtesy of Jasper Joyner