Some chosen families stretch all across the world.
On the third season of Netflix’s Emmy-winning Queer Eye reboot, Jess Guilbeaux warmed our hearts like ramen broth in episode 5, “Black Girl Magic,” as the Fab Five’s first lesbian makeover. How magical that many more strangers chipped in to help make her dreams come true.
me when i think about all the things i’m capable of doing as a strong black lesbian woman pic.twitter.com/SCGrX0v7YZ
— Jess (@jesslayica) April 9, 2019
“This week has been the best week of my life,” the post-makeover Kansas waitress told her queer friends and newly reunited sister in the episode. “I feel like that strong beautiful, black, lesbian, eclectic, artistic person all of you have seen me as.”
Guilbeaux, 23, was disowned by her adoptive parents after coming out at 16, forcing her to become financially independent ever since. Although she began studying at the University of Kansas as a Computer Science major, she had to drop out due to debt.
A GoFundMe page was launched to help Guilbeaux get her college degree. “Let’s send this smart and strong woman back to college to complete what she began and give her the future she deserves,” reads the crowdfunding campaign description.
this is so sweet. i have no words. i’m dehydrated at this point https://t.co/bpKHVQjJNp
— Jess (@jesslayica) March 17, 2019
The GoFundMe, which raised about $12,000 the first day, has gone on to raise more than $100,000 for Guilbeaux’s college tuition and expenses.
“I wanted to update everyone on what your wonderful gifts have helped me do and my process to getting back to school,” Guilbeaux wrote in a GoFundMe update. “I have paid off all my student loans!! I’m so excited and ready to continue my education with a fresh new start. Thank you so so so much for everything!”
“i am just so grateful for you all,” she later posted on Instagram. “thank you for letting me into your hearts and accepting me with warm arms. thank you for showing your children my story. i am happy to start that discussion. i am happy to let my struggle be the the catalyst for change and acceptance. that’s why i did it. to spark change and to have the narrative out there that it doesn’t matter who you are or how you identify or what you go through, you can do anything you set your mind to.”
i just woke up to this janelle, you inspire me and i look up to you in so many different ways. your light has taken me out of the dark on so many tough days. this means so much to me..i’ll be crying for the rest of today https://t.co/YZSu2GhiF4
— Jess (@jesslayica) March 18, 2019
“She managed to pay off her student loans thanks to the generosity of the national and international community,” GoFundMe spokesperson Aja Shepherd told The Wichita Eagle. “Donations came in from nearly all 50 states, including Washington, D.C. and more than 25 countries and territories.”
Queer Eye’s third season premiered March 15 on Netflix.