The last time we spoke with Kelly Mittendorf, we discussed her evolution from leaving home at 16, to stepping into her own truths, coming ‘out’ during a pandemic, and giving herself space to explore who her most authentic self was. Now, two years later, we’re seeing how far she has come.
Q: Tell us about the last two years – how has your relationship with yourself grown and evolved?
A: It’s been such a joy to revisit this series and realize how cheek-crampingly happy I am now. Not to gush, but we all need to take moments to recognize progress and this public forum seems to be it for me!
I’m so insanely proud of her, and so grateful she took care of herself even when (especially when) it was terrifying to do so.
The majority of my adult life has been spent pouring so much energy into fitting a mold, that I didn’t have the emotional resources to pause and evaluate, “why?” These days, the only expectations I care to meet are my own (the concept of a mold has been wholly removed). Even buzzing my hair to get a fresh start on my perception of my physical self helped me to feel grounded in myself – taking that chance, saying yes, could be so wonderful and I’ll be ok if it's not.
Q: Who is your support system in your life and why?
A: When I decided to publicly come out and uproot my life in the middle of a pandemic and move back to Brooklyn, I was a little broken hearted and the decision was, admittedly, a little impulsive. I thought my physical location would be my romantic-comedy moment to myself and shockingly, it didn’t go according to script. What I am so lucky to have gained along the way is the joy of being run-into-each-other-unexpectedly-on-my-block proximity to my closest friends and how special it is to have a partner to experience it all with. Being with her and being loved by her means those parts of my life I used to take on with measured seriousness because I was afraid are now airy.
Q: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Being a kid is incredibly valid. Having been thrust into a professional industry at 15, my formative years were spent trying to catch up to peers who were further along in life than I was. Especially because understanding my queerness and embracing the queer community is incredibly important to me, I wish she got to have a little of that in that era. Maybe the hint I’d give younger me is, “there’s a reason you don’t have a crush on any of the boys in school, and it’s not just because you hate school.”
Q: Going forward, where are you looking to show up as a support system for others in your life?
A: Continuing to work on myself feels like a really important part of ensuring I’m being just as patient and kind with my loved ones. Additionally, part of exploring my queerness has been understanding what a community mindset really is and how I’ve benefited from that early in my journey. Something my partner and I bonded over early on is how we want to center our lives around giving back to the LGBTQIA+ community. I’ve taken that to mean wealth redistribution, supporting mutual aid, and ensuring when I do take on projects they ultimately support queer creatives financially.
Photographed by Lauren Daccache