LGBTQ Project: Whitney King

Name: Whitney King

Age: 27

How do you identify yourself? Female. Mixed race — my father is African American and my mother is white. Lesbian or queer.

Pronouns: She/her

Where do you live? I live just south of Huntsville, Arkansas. 

Do you have pets? I actually have nine, eight of which are rescues. I have four dogs that include two labs, a miniature pinscher and a chihuahua, and I have five cats. 

Have you always been a rescuer? No. I live in the country and we have a little bit more space there — a lot more outdoor space — so they are not all in my house, don’t worry. But we’ve always been big pet people. I love cats. You just need one of every color. That’s what I think. 

Did you grow up having a lot of pets? My parents don’t like pets and when I got older — as soon as I moved out — I got a cat and a dog and another cat. But I can’t stand to see something in need and not help them so I have fostered a few, but living in an apartment that was difficult. So now that I live in a house with property it’s a lot easier, so I just keep them.

Do you volunteer at a shelter? I used to volunteer for a nonprofit, it was called ICARE [Izard County Animal Rescue Effort]. It was in north central Arkansas and I used to run their thrift store, which would fund their mission. And I also sing so I would sing for benefit concerts for them and I worked for a vet for a little while.

Tell me more about the singing. So my mom heard me sing in the shower when I was like 15 and she thought it was the radio. I mean I’m pretty good I think. I sang the national anthem for Uark [the University of Arkansas] for the sports teams sometimes. I tried out for The Voice — didn’t get on TV, it’s fine. Mostly now it’s karaoke when I’ve had too much tequila.

What’s your go-to karaoke song? Make You Feel My Love by Adele 

Where do you work? That’s a complicated question. You have good timing because I actually quit my part-time job so now I have two LLCs which are just basically limited liability companies — that’s what it stands for. I own Candles by Whitney, which is a very unique luxury candle brand, and I also own A Vision of You Productions, which is where I do video production, photography. I’m dabbling in scripted TV too. I mostly focus on documentary style, but we’re branching out now. So I am self-employed a hundred percent. 

Tell me how both of those businesses got started.


If you weren’t working as a videographer and candlemaker, what would you be instead? In another life, I would have been a physicist. So I am a self-proclaimed nerd. I love all things science. I love theory. In high school and college I took electives that were high-level science classes, but I went through three years of physics and I loved it. I love that you can explain some things and you couldn’t explain others. It’s like territory you haven’t charted yet. So yeah, I definitely would have been a physicist in a different life, but I talk too much for that. I’m a people person.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent or skill, what would it be? The ability to do accounting without wanting to fight my computer. I love all aspects of business except for the clerical work. I am awful at making sure ingredients get here on time. I’m also awful at planning. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants, so maybe a more overarching term would be I’d be able to be prepared and on time ‘cause I am not. I look like I have it together and I don’t. I had a college student walk up to me because I spoke at the university — I spoke to a women in future business leaders group — and they came up to me and they were like, “You were just so inspiring, I want to learn more from you. I want to be like you one day.” And I’m thinking, oh my God. I look like I have myself together. I look like I’m a functioning adult. I am not. But that was really cool to have someone look up to me. I think I’m very critical of myself, so that’s part of the problem too. I need to recognize what I’ve done. I’m only 27, I’m allowed to mess up. So I need to stop being so critical and take a step back and enjoy what I’ve created. 

Why are you so critical of yourself? I was a drug addict in my late teens and early twenties and a lot of people including some people that were very close to me basically told me that I was worthless now. I wasted a good mind, I wasted my life and that is not something you should tell someone who’s like 20 years old. And so now I feel like I go above and beyond to try and prove myself, but it’s like I never will prove myself no matter what. I could be the next Bill Gates and I would not be able to prove myself. So I think that’s something internal that has to change. So go to therapy, people. But I think it is, I think it’s more of an internal struggle being told that you’re not good enough and you’re not what everyone expected you to be and then when you are or when you’ve surpassed that threshold, you still don’t believe it. So I think that’s why. 

What makes you, you? I’ve been crazy since I’ve gotten here. My mom always used to tell me that I was never happy with an answer, I had to know why. Why is the sky blue? Why is something like this? That was my favorite question, so I think I’ve always been inquisitive and curious, which gets me in trouble sometimes, but you live once, right? So I think it’s my curiosity that makes me, me. I would also describe myself as very resilient. It’s unfortunate that I have had to be and I’ve had to go through those things, but it’s also good to know that I can overcome. My wonderful fiancé makes me, me. She has been a constant in my life that was much-needed. She is very kind. She keeps me grounded because you know how when you have that one person that’s cool, calm and collected? They’re never mad and then you have the other one that’s a banshee. I’m the banshee. So to the outside, like to people in the public, I’m always smiling but when I go home, I kind of you know, fall off the cliff and she’s able to pull me back out. She’s been a very positive person in my life and my grandparents are wonderful people. They are my best friends. They have supported me through everything — coming out, the drug addiction, everything. They have always been there. Without them I would not be me so thank you for that, Nana and Grandpa. 

What’s your favorite characteristic about yourself? My brain. I’ve struggled with self-confidence my entire life and one thing that I’ve never questioned is my intelligence. I feel like I’m kind of that good balance between intellectual and social so I really appreciate that. I love to learn, but I also love to be around people. I think that’s unique so I like that.

What’s your most treasured possession? Actually I have it with me. I’ll show you. I’ve got to find it. It stays in the depths of my wallet…So my Grams was a very influential person in my life. She was my Nana’s mother and she helped raise me. And she would write these protection notes and she told me to keep it with me always. She passed in 2014 and she wrote this for me. She wrote it to my grandmother and me — so her daughter and I was her great-granddaughter. I always keep this with me so that nothing bad will happen. I should probably get it laminated or something. 

What sparks joy in your life? Oh so many things. I love nature. I’m a vegetarian so of course anything hippy-dippy okay — herbs, spices, bring me incense. Animals, love my cats. Hiking is so much fun. Humans. So no one else is going to ever say this, but I loved being a waitress — loved it, loved it. I got to meet strangers all day and then they would give me money. It was great. I love talking to new people. I love just being in the world. COVID-19 hit me hard. That was hard to be in your house all day. I just love being in the center of creativity and love and joy. Basically one day when I’m happy I’ll be traveling on a hike alone and then another day when I’m happy I’ll be with hundreds of people meeting new humans. That’s what brings me joy. 

What do you do for fun? Hiking. I also have a problem with cleaning. I don’t see it as a problem, but that’s what my therapist says. So I clean a lot and I enjoy it, but that’s probably not what I should say for fun. So Bree [my fiancé] and I ride the electric scooters all the time. I love to travel and one day I’ll have enough money to do that. But I like random things. I’m really spontaneous. So like I went zip-lining a couple weeks ago, I got a tattoo in someone’s storage unit once. I mean I just like doing random stuff, like drop of a hat, let’s go. That’s what I like to do. I like to experience new things. I’m definitely one to spend more money and more time on experiences than things. I like to golf and I really enjoy yoga. 

When are you the happiest? I am the happiest when the people around me are happy. I wouldn’t say that I’m a people pleaser, but I will do what I can within reason to ensure the happiness of others especially, well, really only if they are important to me, like not a stranger. I’ll be nice to strangers and I might do a “pay it forward” sometimes, but I’m happiest when the people around me are happy.

What brought you to Northwest Arkansas?


What’s your favorite spot in the region? I really enjoy Ponca and Boxley Valley. That isn’t too far from where I live and most people don’t know, but there’s an elk herd there so they’re out all the time. Whittaker’s Point is a hike, it’s not too hard, but we go every couple of months and it’s in that region as well so I really like it over there. I love Eureka Springs, like quirkiest town I have ever been in. Love it. But at the same time Fayetteville, okay Fayetteville wins my heart out of the four here. Fayetteville wins my heart because there’s so many different types of people and it feels like you know all of them. I have not met a rude person yet. I’ve been here for almost three years, not a rude person yet. Everyone comes out for the community, we support one another, we support local. I run into people that I know at Walmart, but it’s also big enough to where if I don’t want to talk, I can scurry away. So you have that small town without the downfalls of small towns. I love Fayetteville for sure.

Where’s one place in the world that you haven’t been that you would like to visit? Southern France. I actually went to Paris, my grandparents took me there as a graduation present for high school. The deal was if I took all of the courses in French that I could, they would take me. And so we spent almost a month traveling around Europe and I regret that I didn’t pick to go into the southern part of France — I’m fluent in French — that is like the most gorgeous countryside. If you haven’t Googled it, you have to Google it, like the most gorgeous countryside and 18-year-old me was like no, I want to go to the city. But I would live there. Southern France.  

What trait do you value most in your friends?


Do you think representation matters?


Growing up, did you have any members of the LGBTQ community that you looked up to? I am the only person on either side of my family that is LGBTQ or at least that’s out. I don’t know what they do behind closed doors, but that’s out, I’m the only one. So actually, no. I did not have anyone that I looked up to. I mean you know we all look at celebrities and read magazines and stuff like that, but no. Personally I did not meet anyone that was LGBTQ until I was in my late teens and by that time I already knew. So it was difficult and my parents also do not like it. That was one of the reasons that I had to leave my house when I was 18, so that was difficult. I wish I would have had some representation. 

What advice would you give a young person of color who has decided to come out? 


Do you have a favorite Pride Month experience or memory?


What’s one thing you’re most looking forward to this year? A large retailer picked up my products, so it looks like I will be in stores with them later this year. So super excited about that. The other thing honestly is I really am excited that I don’t have a part-time job now so I can focus more on the videography which is what I love. I won a national journalism award last year for my work with the homeless population here and so I’d really like to get back into that hard-hitting stuff. So yeah, I miss that. Also, this is the first time I’ve had a lawn and a yard, and so I got my garden ready last week. We’re all vegetarians so I’m going to try to grow enough vegetables for four people and that sounds fun. 

Any final thoughts? First, I think it’s super important you’re highlighting good things in LGBTQ lives. I think we all have our struggles, but we all have our wins and happy times, too. I’m glad that you’re putting that attention out there. And I’m glad that I’m getting to speak to people that maybe are questioning starting their own business or questioning whether or not to move to the area. And I want to be all of your friends, just letting you know. So that’s super important. I’m also glad that this program, Arkansas Soul, was able to be so successful thus far. I was a student when it started, so to see it grow to this is really wonderful and it’s really created a safe space. I felt very comfortable talking today, so I appreciate that very much.