Jaah reportedly came out at 14 as a transgender male who was attracted to girls on the now-closed social site, Ask.fm. “When I posted that video, I was so scared,” Jaah said. “When I was younger, I always felt like I had to make a choice. I knew that I was a girl who liked other girls. But because of what I was taught, I felt like the only way you could like another girl is if you were a boy.”
Jaah’s mother, Drea Kelly, also recalled the time her daughter came out and how she reacted. “I remember when Jaah first came out to me when she was 10 years old. She thought, ‘Oh Mama, I was scared to tell you because I didn’t think you would love me,” Drea said. “But the unconditional love of a mother is like that of God. There is nothing you could do to earn it and there is nothing you could ever do to lose it. I told her, ‘I love you because you’re mine, not because of your orientation. I’m always gonna be here to protect you.’ Meantime, live that best life, and live it out loud and in color. Who gives a damn what anybody else thinks?”
Now 18 years old, Jaah said she identifies as a lesbian but doesn’t particularly care for labels. She said she is also comfortable with being referred to as a male, female, genderfluid, or nonbinary. “I know I like girls, but that’s as far as I’ll go to label myself,” she continued. “It’s up to you how you see me. Either way, I don’t care. I stand in my truth, and why does my truth need a label?”
Read Jaah Kelly’s full Paper cover story here.