Jillian Mercado Is Queer: Model, Activist and Gen Q Actress Comes Out on Instagram

Feature image via Jillian Mercado’s Instagram

Ahead of her debut on tonight’s episode of The L Word: Generation Q, Dominican fashion model and disability activist Jillian Mercado came out as queer.

She took to her Instagram on Saturday night to celebrate her recurring gig on the show and reflected, “I am proud to say that I’ve done so many great things for the disability community (there is so much more to be done done tho). Over the course of this year I had the absolute honor to know people from all communities that make me me. That being a woman, having a disability, being Dominican, and finally I can add to that magical layer being queer.”

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This SUNDAY YOULL SEE ME ON TELEVISION on @sho_thelword!!! Ok back to the program…⁣ ⁣ I’ve always loved a good opportunity when I see one even if it’s the tiniest one. I’ve now dedicated my life to use the privilege of a platform that I have to elevate not only the Latin community but especially and most importantly for me the Disability community. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I was shocked when I was younger that representation was little to none in the fashion /entertaining Industry, so I worked day and night. Going to college and interning everywhere I could to start changing that mind set, and I have. From landing my first worldwide campaign and slowly making my way to where I am now as a recurring guest on The L Word! ⁣All these photos are a few of my favorite moments on set. ⁣⁣ ⁣ I am proud to say that I’ve done so many great things for the disability community (there is so much more to be done done tho). Over the course of this year I had the absolute honor to know people from all communities that make me me. That being a woman, having a disability, being Dominican, and finally I can add to that magical layer being queer. I’ve never publicly said that I’ve always known I was queer because personally I wasn’t ready. Although I’ve always felt at home with the queer community and when love is love I understood that I’ve always known. It’s so beautiful when you can truly feel what freedom feels like inside your own body and space your in.

A post shared by Jillian Mercado (@jillianmercado) on

Mercado went on, “Although I’ve always felt at home with the queer community and when love is love I understood that I’ve always known. It’s so beautiful when you can truly feel what freedom feels like inside your own body and space your in.”

Jillian Mercado was raised in New York by her seamstress mom (whom she credits with sparking her interest in fashion) and a shoe salesman dad. She was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in her early teens and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around in her day-to-day life. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and started her career as a editorial beauty intern at Allure in 2009. From there she’s starred in campaigns for Diesel, Olay, Bumble, CK fragrance, Nordstrom, Target, and Tommy Hilfiger. Did I forget to mention she also worked on the merchandising campaign for Beyonce’s Formation tour? Because she definitely did that, too. She landed her modeling contract with IMG in 2015 and, relevant to our extremely gay interests, she’s now guest starring as Sophie Suarez’s sister Maribel on The L Word: Generation Q.

It’s funny — just earlier this week, I was joking with our Editor-in-Chief Riese that Dominican actress Rosanny Zayas playing Afro-Latina lesbian Sophie Suarez was a gift beyond my dreams. I mean, in one of the earliest episodes, she even lays her edges down with a toothbrush! Queer Latinas on television are becoming increasingly common, but are still rare across history. And black Latinas? Pssssh, forget it! I’m Puerto Rican, not Dominican, but we’re all familia and anyway — nothing makes me prouder than seeing my Caribeña sisters shine.

That quest for representation, for seeing yourself on screen is part of what’s driven Jillian Mercado, who in her post last night discussed that lack of representation for both Latinx and disabled communities was a catalyst for her career: “I was shocked when I was younger that representation was little to none in the fashion /entertaining Industry, so I worked day and night. Going to college and interning everywhere I could to start changing that mind set, and I have. From landing my first worldwide campaign and slowly making my way to where I am now as a recurring guest on The L Word! ⁣

Well Jillian, you’re reppin’ hard sis, and con much orgullo. I’m just really excited and happy about this one, you know? If you want to learn more about Jillian’s work in disability activism and her fashion career, here’s a really great video from the folks at NowThis. And just for fun (!!!), here’s a photo of her slaying it with Indya Moore at Pride back in June:

And don’t forget that you can see Jillian Mercado on The L Word: Generation Q tonight on Showtime!

Carmen is Autostraddle's Associate Editor and a black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 153 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. This makes me so happy!!! Congratulations and welcome, Jillian Mercado!

    Such a shame she’s only going to be in 2 episodes this season (according to IMDB). I’m really happy The L Word added some disability representation this season, though, and hope that continues to grow :D

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