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Lesbian From Queer Eye Is Headed Back to School After Fans Raise $90K

Lesbian From Queer Eye Is Headed Back to School After Fans Raise $90K

Jess Guilbeaux

Jess Guilbeaux has been on her own for years since she was kicked out of her home for being gay. 

The new season of Queer Eye, which dropped on Netflix in mid-March, featured an episode in which the Fab 5 made over their first lesbian, 23-year-old Jess Guilbeaux. Her story is that she was forced to put college on hold and support herself with a restaurant job after being booted from her home because she's gay. Now a GoFundMe campaign to send Guilbeaux back to college has raked in more than $92,000, allowing her to pay off existing student loans and paving the way for her to return to school.

"I wanted to update everyone on what your wonderful gifts have helped me do and my process to getting back to school: I have paid off all my student loans!!" Guilbeaux wrote on the GoFundMe page. "I'm so excited and ready to continue my education with a fresh new start. Thank you so so, so much for everything!"

Donations from 2,434 people in just 22 days made it possible to send the Kansas-based Guilbeaux back to college. Hundreds of messages of love and support accompanied the donations on the fundraising page.

The episode titled "Black Girl Magic" had the Queer Eye guys headed to Lawrence, Kan., where they meet Guilbeaux, a lesbian of color who was kicked out of her home at 16 when her religious adoptive parents found out she was gay.

Throughout the course of the episode, Guilbeaux, who lives with two friends and who identifies as a "lumberjack lesbian," comes into her own. As she is forced to eat ramen sometimes for days on end because she can't afford other food, Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski teaches her how to make an affordable, upscale version of ramen in a one-pot method while Bobby Berk not only makes over her house -- which is quite literally, as Guilbeaux puts it, furnished with trash -- he facilitates reuniting her with her sister, to whom she has not spoken since she was kicked out of her house. Furthermore, he helps her trace her birth family history to give her a sense of place.

Meanwhile, culture guru Karamo Brown introduces Guilbeaux to the Alvin Ailey dance center to expose her to potential new passions.

Since Queer Eye is ultimately about found family, the episode culminates with Guilbeaux surrounded by her queer family and her sister, who's now back in her life.

Decked out with a new short hairstyle from Jonathan Van Ness and an empowering wardrobe courtesy of Tan France, Guilbeaux delivers a speech to her loved ones at the close of the episode.

"This week has been the best week of my life. I feel like that strong beautiful black lesbian eclectic artistic person all of you have seen me as," she says.

"You all are my family. It sucks because I didn't really know what that meant. I didn't think it was possible for me. I thought that at any moment any one of y'all would just leave," Guilbeaux adds. "So I didn't allow myself to be vulnerable. I didn't allow myself to be open, and now that I'm confident in who I am I'm not afraid of tears or emotions or messing up or having days where I need to remind myself how strong and beautiful I am."

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Tracy E. Gilchrist