“There is space for every voice, every person. Our greatest power as a community is standing together and allowing that space to blossom.” The founder of Warm Brothers discussing the force and future of queer artists. Jordan Parvex also shares the German context behind Warm Brothers, a Frank Ocean cover, advice for aspiring creatives and the significance of 90’s films My Best Friend’s Wedding and She’s All That.
The first queer themed novel that you read and one that you would recommend?
The first queer novel I read was The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It is still one of my favorite books! I would recommend Becoming a Man by Paul Monette as a beautiful semi-autobiographical read. Also, The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs. I re-read Velvet Rage every once in a while because of how important of a book it is for gay men, understanding our shame as a group, and how to move forward from that in a healthy and productive way. That book has truly changed my life and my relationship with myself over and over again.
A formative high school experience that influenced your career trajectory towards founding Warm Brothers?
My mom converted and became a Jehovah’s Witness while I was in the early part of high school, which I think made a large impact on who I am and why I created Warm Brothers. My mom was always fairly conservative and anti-LGBTQ, but her conversion to the JWs was a major crossroads looking back. She converted to an extreme religious group while I was internalizing a lot of my own shame and frustration with my sexuality, which was fairly damaging to me. When I created Warm Brothers, I wanted to create something that showed fully formed, imperfect, but proud gay men because that was something I didn’t grasp or believe was possible as a high schooler under my mom’s roof.
On a Saturday night in NY, where would we find you?
I am in a gay volleyball league that plays on Saturday nights so usually I am playing a game with my team and then going out dancing with my friends!
What advice would you have for aspiring creatives who dream of creating their own life-model outside the conventional standards?
I would say it always should start and end with passion. Creative work, especially when not attached to a large company, rarely pays the bills (at least in New York City). So making sure your focus is something that brings you fulfilment, regardless of whether people take notice and how large or small it is, to me is the most important. People are drawn to passion and determination, especially when attached to kindness and openness.
What 90’s movie best represents your love life?
Ugh the 90s was such a good time for film! Probably “My Best Friend’s Wedding” because I am Julia Roberts circa 1990s. Also fun fact: Freddie Prince Jr in “She’s All That” was the first time little Jordan dreamed about a man LOL.
“Warm Brothers, a slang phrase used in pre-war Germany for homosexuals, and it needed to be print. I also knew I wanted to shine a light and uplift everyday gay people and their allies.”
Describe Warm Brother’s aesthetics in three words?
Dreamy. Artistic. Modern.
The best advice you were given that you’ve applied to your outlook on life?
Allowing room for failure is the first step to a successful life, romantically, professionally, and personally.
Your Go-To sources for queer inspiration?
There’s so much. As much as I loathe Instagram, I love to explore the discovery page and go down the rabbit hole of queer artists, big and small, to just absorb the brilliance people create. Hello Mr., like I think a lot of my generation of queer men, has really influenced me. I remember the moment I found it and picked up the first issue. I was just freshly out of the closet and in a really dark time, and Hello Mr. made me feel a little less alone. Now, I pick up as many queer magazines as I can find because people are so talented and I love to see all the different perspectives people and publications can bring. My biggest inspiration, though, comes from books. Warm Brothers is a term I found in “Gay Berlin” when I was backpacking in Europe, and it stuck with me. So when I went to create the first issue, I knew immediately what I wanted to name it. And since then, queer literature has continued to shape how I approach the magazine and perspective. Issue 03’s cover even kind of looks like a story book.
As the founder of a printed mag, how did you react to the news of Hello Mr.’s final issue?
Mixed feelings of course. Like anything I enjoy, I was sad to see that Issue 10 was the last one. But, at the same time, what a beautiful way to end that part of Ryan’s life. Hello Mr.’s legacy has and will continue to live on and I know at least for me personally, it has had a direct impact on how I see queer work and the spaces it can create for all people. There is something extremely respectable (for me) about ending something at its peak as opposed to continuing it just for the sake of success or people’s expectations.
Talk to us about the motivation behind embarking on Warm Brothers and how has the mag evolved over the past three Issues?
What brought me to Warm Brothers was an interesting little journey. After graduating college in 2015, I went backpacking alone in Europe for 8 months, and during so I decided to start an online gay book club. I’m an avid reader and as I had recently come out, I felt there was a difficultly in finding gay literature that wasn’t purely erotic, so while backpacking I decided to put together a list of all the gay books I’d been reading and share them. Fast forward a bit and I was living in L.A. I had just gone through a small break-up, Trump was a few months into this frightening presidency, and I felt an urge to be more creative. I had designed some things in the past, but never at this scale or focus. My friend suggested that a good way to get my mind off the break-up and to feel less hopeless in the current climate is to create and do something positive for yourself, like a zine.
So I started to come up with our first issue and what it could be. I knew I wanted it to be called Warm Brothers, a slang phrase used in pre-war Germany for homosexuals, and it needed to be print. I also knew I wanted to shine a light and uplift everyday gay people and their allies. I reached out to a few of my friends and some people who I could get ahold of and the response was really lovely. The first issue was 15 pages or so and compared to Issue 03, it looks like a completely different zine. The size, paper, design, were all very elementary but it has a soft spot in my heart because after it was released, I realized how important it is for us as queer people to create spaces for people and to find our voices.
The magazine itself has changed quite a lot over the last 2 (now 3) issues. The first issue was small and very simple in terms of paper, grids, amount of contributors. There were a handful of people who were involved in contributing, and I contributed quite a lot of my own work to it out of need. Issue 02 saw a lot of growth. The paper I hand-picked and I began to teach myself about the print process. It was 37 pages long and featured more than double the amount of queer contributors than the previous issue. The branding started to come together and the reach increased in how many people bought the issue, especially with people who found us on social media.
Issue 03 is our biggest leap forward. It is 100 pages long, split into 3 sections (photography, writing, and art), and the cover is painted instead of an image (something I wanted to do with Adam Chuck and am so thrilled he agreed to do it and made such a gorgeous work of art). It has a unifying theme, which is new for us, and it took me 8+ months to come up with the concept, curate it, and finally design it. Over 35 people from around the world contributed their work for it and their stuff is amazing. I cried the first time I saw what people were sending in and trusting me with. I still tear up quite a lot thinking about it and just how people have responded already. We just recently were approved by the Library of Congress for an ISSN, which is a big step forward in being a legitimate publication. So a lot of good things. The way this has grown and become something people care about is really inspiring to me. I don’t care how many people buy it, but I do care that these voices get heard and that hopefully one person out there picks up a copy and feels seen in some way. PURCHASE ISSUE 3 HERE
Who would be your pipe dream cover for Warm Brothers?
I feel like I should’ve thought about this more before! I mean my dream cover star for any magazine ever is Frank Ocean because he is my favorite big name. His music and perspective have impacted the queer community and really given a voice to many people who haven’t been seen, by both the straight world and by the mostly-white gatekeepers of popular gay culture. Frank, I think, is one of the most important voices to come out of music, for queer and non-queer people, this century.
Another pipe dream cover would be a group of just random people, cis and trans, all gender-identifications, all backgrounds and races, in a series of beautiful elaborate set-ups that I definitely cannot afford currently. The truth is, as much as Frank would be an amazing cover model, I also have made sure the last 3 issues haven’t had any sort of focus on popular people because Warm Brothers is for everyone. The Issue 03 cover is a painting of 5 men in the woods. It isn’t what a standard magazine cover is, especially for a gay magazine. But I mean, if Frank was an option, all bets are off LOL.
“I think now is the time for queer people of color, for trans people, for queer women to drive that narrative and for those of us who have generally had our voices heard to listen to their needs and be there to support that. I hope I am doing that with Warm Brothers too.”
It’s 2050, where do you hope to see Warm Brothers?
I’m not entirely sure. I don’t know if I see Warm Brothers still being around. It may have evolved into something more or I may be working on a different passion project. If Warm Bros is still around though, I hope to see it in the hands of as many people as possible and in a place where I can worry less about costs so it can truly be exactly as I see it in my head with regards to paper quality, colors, packaging, and all.
Are there any young queer creatives that make you excited for the future?
YES! Nearly everyone I talk to or see on Instagram blows my mind and just humbles me. The people who sent work in for the last 3 issues of Warm Bros have all wowed me over and over again. In music, it has been really fantastic as well to see so many young queer artists coming up. Serpentwithfeet, Ryan Beatty, Hayley Kiyoko, Kim Petras, Troye Sivan, Moses Sumney. The amount of queer music output from diverse artists is really hopeful I think. Adam Chuck, the painter of issue 03’s cover, is obviously someone who makes me excited for the future. The way he uplifts other queer artists and creators, while also making such great work is how I think we all should be in the community. There is space for every voice, every person. Our greatest power as a community is standing together and allowing that space to blossom.
All Stars 4. Who is your Queen of the season?
Right now my favorites are Manila and Latrice Royale. But I do really love Monique Heart because she keeps it real and I just love watching her. I saw her live once and she was so funny and just a complete pleasure to watch.
Is there a narrative or concern that you believe the queer collective needs to be more conscious of or are we on track to taking over the world?
I am not sure. I guess I would say that we should be careful to allow the space for people both within the community and outside of it to ask questions and make mistakes. In today’s climate, it feels like everyone is walking on egg shells, and rightfully so. But, for us as a community to grow, I think we have to allow people to grow as well, which does sometimes mean making mistakes. That all being said, I do not think it is my place to speak for the queer collective because I am inherently part of the oppressive power structure. I am a white cis male who hasn’t had an easy life, but is far more privileged than so many. I think now is the time for queer people of color, for trans people, for queer women to drive that narrative and for those of us who have generally had our voices heard to listen to their needs and be there to support that. I hope I am doing that with Warm Brothers too.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
We all just need a good hug, a shoulder to rest our heads on, and an ear that listens.