Three very different stories about what gay pride means. Cody, Maia, Alison and Tanner share their queer experiences about coming out, coming in, and celebrating Pride their own ways! Hear it all on this episode of the Queer Joy Podcast; where two relationship therapists explore what it looks like to see joy in queer relationships.
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Keely: Pride Cody: Pride Keely: Pride Pride Cardinal: pride month Keely: what does Pride mean for you? Maia: So Pride to me right now Cody: this is what Pride is about Melisa: It may be Pride. It may be what you just said. Keely: Well, hello everyone. Hi Melisa. How are you? Melisa: I'm good. Very excited for today and all the people we get to hear from. Keely: Yeah. And I feel like we're multiple times going to say Happy Pride and for those listening, this is a compilation and we get to hear from other people at CTC to hear about their experience of coming out and, or also hearing like what pride means for them. So this is just a wonderful opportunity to share in the celebration of Pride and also to get more stories and hear more about other people's experiences. And for those listening, maybe get to like, learn a little bit more about your therapist as well, or just your, you know, human community member person. Just however you wanna look at that. Cuz at the end of the day, we are all just humans doing this. So don't waste too much time. Cody is here and Cody, brief introduction, just who you are as far as pronouns and identities that you wanna share with people. Cody: Sure. Okay. Yeah. My name is Cody and I'm a therapist here at CTC. My pronouns are she or they. I'm queer, mixed race, white presenting and an artist and a neurotic person and many other things. Keely: Yay! Well, thanks for joining today. So we're just gonna kind of prompt you and give you space to talk about your story as a human being queer in this world and coming out and whatever that means for you. And then just what Pride means for you and we'll, you know, we'll ask questions if it seems relevant. Cody: Sure. Alright. I'm like such a weird person to interview for this, cuz I've always fucking hated Pride. Like always. . Melisa: We wanna have all perspectives. So i, I appreciate that. Keely: yeah. Why? Yeah. Tell us why do you hate it? Cody: So, okay. I have always been the weirdo and I like, I am fine with that. I know who I am. I've always just been a super weird person since I was like born. And. When I started realizing that I was queer... Also, I should say I grew up in a smaller kind of town outside of Portland, Maine in New England. And so there was a Pride event around the time I was like 12, 13, something like that. And it was just, you know, it. It was cute. Like it was like, you know, a couple muscle daddies and harnesses on like, you know, float and there's trans music and there's a few drag queens that are like very friendly. They're not actually that aggressive. They're just like kind of quaint, you know, and you've got, you know, a few like lesbian suburbanites with their pups or little kids around on the sides. And it's like, it's very sweet. You know, there's like maybe 20 of us. And when I was younger, I was just so angry all the time because I... for me around that time is when I learned about Matthew Shepherd and his passing. Oh yeah. And so like, I was filled with this kind of rage about like, what kind of fucking society do we live in where this can happen. And so I go to this Pride event and we're like, yeah, we're all gay. And it's great. And I'm like, I'm kind of scared of being gay, to be honest, I'm kind of scared of it. Like. I mean, it sounds fun, but also it sounds like terrifying. And so, you know, I was like kind of not into it. It just seemed, it seemed really watered down in a way where I was like, this seems really like not my vibe. And you know, I was real salty about real angry punk kid. Like, you know, burn everything down, which, you know, not a whole lot has changed, but yeah but you know, I went to college in Montreal and in June, there's the anarchist book fair where a lot of punks and indie distros and zine makers all come together and stink up a big, big, giant hall together. There's workshops, there's all sorts of stuff that happens. And during this time, because it's in June, during Pride month, there's also the kind of radical queer component of it where local queer groups get together and put on workshops. And sex parties and it all ends with this big dance party called the Glamarchist Look fair cause who doesn't love a terrible play on words. Yeah. And it's stellar. It is one of the most packed dance parties you'll ever go to filled with the weirdest queer people you've ever seen. You know, of course, lot of drugs, lots of fun times, lots of loud music. It's great. My last year in Montreal, I got to DJ that party. After playing a show with the punk band I was in, biked up to where the party was happening. And I got the best spot of the night, the like one to 2:00 AM spot where everybody's drunk and loose enough to get wild. But no, one's like really going to the harder drugs or going to hook up or like going home to sleep or whatever. Like, it was like the sweet spot, you know? And there's this moment that I remember so clearly in my mind where somehow I sloppily mixed from Dolly Parton's Jolene into Ludacris' What's Your Fantasy? And people went absolutely fucking nuts. It was absolute chaos. And people were like shrieking and shouting and dancing super hard. And a bear jumped up on stage and like made out with me while I was DJ-ing. And I was like, okay, so this is what Pride is about. What I was looking for so many years ago. Like, this is exactly it like yeah. You know, and I like, I'm less salty about it now, but I've been thinking about it a lot over the last few years, especially as you know, in my thirties now my, my angers, it looks a little different than it did when I was in my twenties. But you know, Pride, I feel like is about like celebrating survival and it's like celebrating resistance. And I think that's a piece that gets lost in a lot of Pride parades and things. It's, you know, this all started from people throwing bricks at cops and like, you know what I mean? Like there was, it started from a really massive fight, you know, and like that anger sometimes gets lost and I think that's important to remember. You know, and for me, it's also about finding my people, you know, because queer people are ever in all different forms. And I just hadn't found the weirdest people yet. The ones that really scratched that itch, you know? And so for me, Pride is remembering that kind of, that sounds so cliche, but find like that journey of like being the weird one in a small town and finding the, the weirdo queers that are out weirding me and yeah, just celebrating the fact that we've all survived this far and like continue to. Thinking about it that way, I get like emotional cause it's like, you know sounds so dramatic, but you know, people survive unthinkable things as queer and trans people and it's just, you know. We all love a dance party, but like, let's remember why we're fucking dancing. You know, like, remember the really important parts about being queer and, and what that means. Every day is fucking resistance still. Even in a really accepting place like Portland, you know, I mean, when you're saying this Cody, I think about how this is our first Pride in person in three years since the pandemic. Yeah. And so I think the way that you're talking about it being about survival is even more relevant or just as relevant today, as we're talking about for many years. And this idea of how do we be inclusive with like families and like, yes. You know, people wanna have kids. If people wanna have dogs, you know, all of this, very what we call suburbia, we have our suburbia queers. But then we also have these like radical people that are resisting and fighting and being like, let me show up how I wanna show up in this world. And this is the moment that I get to do that because any other day of the year, I'm gonna be made fun of, harassed, worried about being injured physically. And, but this is the time to really be present and visible. Totally. And you know, at this point in my life, I'm secure enough and the weirdo queer that I am to be like, yeah, I mean, ask me anything. I'm not afraid of any of you, like, but like, you know, 13 year old me, like going to this pride event and feeling like I don't wanna be associated with any of these people. I don't like this, this queer experience doesn't resonate with me. Yeah. But in hindsight, like I'm so proud of the like 10 or 20 people that would go to this thing and organize it. Cause I'm like, You know, Southern Maine at the time was, you know, not the most liberal place. I mean, it's a big liberal hotspot now, but at the time it was like, you know, more moderate conservative leaning. And so like, you know, these folks showing up is a pretty powerful thing, even though at the time, I couldn't see that. Keely: Yeah. And generationally, it seems it represents different things for people in different ages. Like you were saying a teenager versus in your twenties, thirties , forties and beyond. So we like to also include, I guess, talking about... not overemphasizing, but we do like to talk about joy. So is there something joyful that you would like to share either, you know, we talk about Queer Joy. It can be separate from Pride, just something that happened in the last week or the last month that really resonated with you that was this. It can be something that was like rebellious and radical, or just like, this is my joy. This is your joy. Cody: Ooh. Yeah. I have been very cautious during COVID and I've been really holding back on mingling and meeting new people. And it's still really scary to get out there and do that. But I have been going on a couple dates recently with some very sweet folks. And I had a date with one boy recently and we watched this queer horror film called Knife Plus Heart. And it's a slasher type film that takes place in a gay porn studio. Keely: Oh, that's rad. Cody: It's a French film. It's it's hilarious. It's I mean, it's so good. It is so well done. And he and I were just like cuddling on the couch and like, it was just like the most sweet and tender thing that I've experienced in a minute. And yeah, I mean, and just like the kind of shape of queerness that I look for. I mean, like we're watching a queer film and it's a slasher, like, of course , Melisa: it's fantastic. Cody: Yeah, and it was just a really like, kind of sweet night. It wasn't anything crazy. Like, you know, it was just us like being real mellow and watching this movie together. And it was just.. It reminded me how much I missed, like having people and in my life beyond like the people I see in my, like, COVID bubble or whatever, you know what I mean? Like having the integration of new people and new kind of energy and ideas and sweetness. So that brought me a lot of joy this week. Keely: That's wonderful. Well, thanks for sharing your story and being a part of this Pride podcast and Pride month and yeah. Have an awesome week. Cody: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Maia Keely: Hey, so another story! Yes! , we have Maia here who's also part of the CTC team. Hi, Maia! Maia: Hello, hello! Keely: So Maia, a quick introduction. Your name, pronouns, and any other part of your self that you'd like to share? Maia: Yeah. So my name's Maia Bellavia. I use she her pronouns. I am a Master of Social Work intern at CTC and just moved to Portland in December, it's exciting. Trying to figure out how to live without sun is an interesting game for me. Yeah. And I'm just honored to be here. Keely: Yeah. So may I, however you define your story in life or how you wanna talk about what it has been like for you to come out or to, you know, we've been using, I've been hearing more of the term you've been coming into our queerness. So whether you wanna talk about as a coming out story or coming into self story and sharing that. Maia: I think coming in definitely makes more sense for me. I'm 44 and I didn't come into my queer self until about four years ago. So that was you know, later in life and I had had a 20 year marriage, heterosexual marriage, and children, and lived the very stereotypical soccer mom, middle class, white woman life. And it's interesting because all of the women that I have dated have now said, how did they not know. So I get that a lot because of just who I am and who I've always been. Like as a growing up as a kid I have always been very open and talking about how I just think women's bodies are beautiful and I have listened to Ani DiFranco and Indigo Girls and Melisa Etheridge my whole life and- Keely: My generation. That was our generation for sure. Maia: Yes. I was 13 when my aunt showed up with a, an old recording of Ani DiFranco. And that was when Ani first put her first album out. And so that like changed my whole life though I think that that is part of my coming in story, coming into my self story, is that those moments because I resonated so much with the words that she was speaking and singing and standing up for yourself and being yourself and being a strong woman. And what did that mean? And it's interesting. I didn't realize that there was an attraction to her and women until later though. Although I talked about it, my whole life about being in love with women's bodies and they're beautiful. And I talked about it very openly about, oh my gosh, that person is beautiful and look at them. And, and that was my attraction. But then. Then the first time that I actually saw a woman and recognized that, oh my God, I want to have a very intimate relationship with this woman. That was when I had just turning 40 and it was this really empowering wake up call for me. My divorce was about over, it was quite ugly and it was like, oh, Wait. Maybe that is where I'm supposed to be in my life. Maybe I, I do wanna date women. Maybe I wanna, I wanna kiss her. Okay. This is really powerful and moving. And so I do wanna back up just a little bit, cuz I would say a couple years before that my daughter had come to me and said, you know, mom, I think I might be bi and that really scares me. And I don't know what this means, and I don't want you to tell dad, and I wanna talk about it and I wanna work through this, and we did, and I really believe that it was that moment that she came to me in vulnerability that allowed me to see my life in a different path. Oh, it doesn't have to be the stereotypical way that all of life is that as a woman, you marry a man and you have babies and you live happily ever after with a white picket fence. And that was the social norm. And I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. That's what you saw. That's what you did. And so for my daughter to come to me and say this, it opened up this new possibility in my world that I hadn't even thought possible, really. Or I had, but it came to fruition. I came into myself. Keely: Yeah. Melisa: What a powerful moment for both of you. Maia: It was. It really was. And I revel in it actually, because I feel so much more whole now in knowing who I am attracted to. And I think that if I'm honest, I really don't like the labels for my own self. I feel very conflicted with them, but I would say I'm probably pan. I love people. I like wine. I like the label. Not the label, the wine, right. Keely: Once in a while. Dabble in the rose. Maia: Yeah, exactly. Keely: You like red wine too. Maia: Uhhuh. Exactly. Yeah. And so for my family and everything, it wasn't a coming out. I didn't go and like present this to anyone. I just continued to live my life. Hey, here's my girlfriend. Hey, here's my boyfriend. Hey, here's the folks I'm dating. Keely: Thank you for sharing that, May. I think a lot of people really resonate with that. Especially folks who are stepping into more of themselves after the age of 30, age of 40. And so now, you know, four years later, what does Pride mean for you? Maia: This is exciting Pride, cause this is really the first one I'm gonna participate in and like be very openly queer. Woo. I'm excited. So Pride to me right now is a freedom and an excitement and a community that I've never really been involved in, because in the last four years it's been a lot of still kind of establishing like who I am and what this looks like and I've been really kind of shy and quiet. And I think I've reached a point in my life that I'm not, I'm ready to be more expressive and open with who I am. And so Pride for me is gonna be that it's the freedom to express who I am. Keely: How wonderful. Thanks Maia for sharing. Maia: Of course. Thank you. Alison: I am Alison Jamison. I am a white CIS gendered. She, her pronouns, I kind of flow between bi pan queer labels and I am also non-monogamous but mostly monogamous right now due to life circumstances. Tanner: So yes, due to COVID everything's due to COVID Tanner Jamison. He him. I do consider myself gender fluid. I present so much masculine, so much male. And it's been, I mean, 30 plus years I've been he/him. I'm okay with that. Maybe at some point I'll evolve to he/ them or whatever, but right now he, him feels like it fits best for me. But gender fluid bi-curious I guess yeah, we've non-monogamous right. I mean, we've Maybe we'll get more into that, I suppose. Yeah. Keely: We'll get to hear the story. Well, and so for our listeners who this, they both host a podcast called Hey babe, I'm queer. Yes. And so we're really excited to have you be able to share your story and also hear about both personally, individually and as a couple, of course, because this is about relationships. Who gets to start talking? Alison: I usually go first because that's just how I am, the short and sweet version is we're high school sweethearts. And then we decoupled for Tanner to join the military. And I had a college experience, you know, we kind of separated our ways found our way back to each other. And after we'd known each other for about a decade, I proposed to Tanner and he said, yes. And um, After we were married for about seven years, I think it was I asked him out on a date and I said Hey babe, I'm not straight! And Tanner's response was... Tanner: Oh well, I guess neither am I. I love that. Keely: That's the best part, like seriously. In the podcast when you're telling the story and please listeners, listen, you know, they have a full story. They just like build up really beautifully to it. But I love that response. Oh, neither am I! Tanner: Yeah. I mean, just a sidebar on that. Right. I, I, I feel like we'll get into a little bit in the podcast too. Right. It wasn't something that I was planning on coming back out to her. But, and it wasn't honestly, even until she had the conversation with me that really like cemented for me, like, oh yeah, that's why I've done this before. And that's why I felt this way previously. And yeah, I guess I'm not either. Let's figure it out. Melisa: A moment of clarity. Alison: It was really amazing, like of all of the scenarios that I played out in my head ahead of time of having that conversation, like that was not even on the buffet of possible reactions. So it was like, it gets better from there. Right. It was so surprising. Like, oh, well that's delightful. And then where do we go from here? Keely: Yeah. And so what have you been navigating since that date? Seven years ago? Alison: Yeah. Well, I think one of the things that also surprised me is I had not really experienced any sort of. Anything beyond like kissing with a female partner. And I knew that it's something that I was curious about. And in that same conversation, Tanner is like, well, why don't you see if you want to find a girlfriend? Tanner: Should we find you a girlfriend in that? You know, like, I'm like, all right, let's, let's figure out what do we go from here if you like women too? Even though at that time, right? Like I'm processing, I maybe I kind of feel like a woman sometimes, but. I don't I'm I'm cisgendered as far as presenting. So, you know, I don't have the parts and everything, so, but so I was like, Hey, if you love women too, you want to experience that let's um, enjoy having sex with women. Let's maybe do we need to find you a girlfriend? Alison: Yeah. And so that like really opened the door for us looking at other forms of relationships. And I grew up in a very, not like evangelical household, but very religious upbringing. Still kind of moving through some of that like religious trauma that I can see as it was in my youth. I never even knew. I think some of the options that were out there and the different types of relationships that were available, because we had grown up in and had been immersed in as a couple in, you know, straight monogamous relationships, even though I know now that like some of our friends that we were in, you know, like parenting classes together have come out to us now. Because it's just not a thing that we are from the Midwest and Midwest nice is very real. And you don't talk about impolite topics like sex and relationships and money and politics and religion and all the juiciest things Melisa: everyone's having these lives, but not sharing about them. Tanner: Right? Yeah. Yeah. I always thought it was weird that we don't talk about things that matter the most, as you know, And what, what we hold near and dear, whether it be religion or, you know, love and sex and stuff. It's so I guess that's part of my motivation for being on a podcast, being open with the world on our story and stuff. Alison: Yeah. Get more stories out there so that the people who feel like they're alone. Know that they aren't. If you are open to talking, I want to hear more, a little bit about the gender exploration and how that's been in the relationship or where that's at. Yeah. I'd love to hear more of it too. Tanner: I should have brought my Todrick Hall poster in where he's I don't remember what the outfit is, but you know, it's not his unicorn outfit. I don't know if you're familiar with Todrick hall. Alison: We'll have an introduction next. Tanner: Okay. I will help you out. I'll give you some links, show you some videos. He's a fabulous gay black man. Has it pop songs. He's done a visual albums on YouTube essentially. Like it's a musical more or less where it's just one song into the next throughout his entire album. So it's like music video after music video, but it's like a musical album done that a few times. Keely: I can't believe I haven't heard this person. I'm like obsessed with musicals. Yeah. Okay. Tanner: But just, I think. It's really just recently embracing that feminine side for myself. It's I kinda touch on the podcast when we talk about our story. Looking back right. There were signposts, to use your phrase of like, oh yeah, I guess I've not always been cis-het cisgendered right. And gender conforming you know and find the other. Same sex attractive from time that growing up, it's not necessarily something you talk about or we haven't had a whole lot experience with that in the Midwest kind of thing, but being able to explore that with someone I know and trust and love, it's been pretty liberating. And I think, yeah, to your point, right, we celebrate each other. And she's been nothing but supportive for me in exploring that side of myself. Alison: Yeah. It's like when Tanner told me, like, I'm, don't always feel masculine or like, like a man it wasn't, it was like, oh, that, that tracks and I mean, I've known him since. He was 17 years old. So like there's a lot of growth that happens from then to where we are now in our, you know, late thirties, early forties, and all of the changes that go through that. And seeing you like having the confidence to embrace that side of you. It has been really awesome for me to witness and like, I'm like, he's fucking, bad-ass like owning these parts of your identity that I like I'm so honored that I get to witness. And I feel like I, because it's not like. Necessarily something that you're doing a ton in public even. No, yeah, like, so I'm like one of the rare people that like gets to see some of this part of his life. So like, it's, it's pretty amazing to watch him explore. And also, like, I know that it's still a beginning too, because you haven't like done a super deep dive on like, Figuring out what all this means is kind of just like we'll, we're gonna ride the flow as it comes up and see where it goes. And I'm just like here for the ride. Keely: Cool. Yay. That's I mean, for that support, because we don't always see that, like even within non-monogamous queer couples, when then gender comes up or someone is identifying differently than when they first got together. And. There are so many situations where partners aren't as supportive. And just even within the community, there's like differing supports depending on who you're interacting with and where you're at. So like it's so to hear this, Tanner: sorry, I didn't mean to speak over you there. Absolutely. Fully acknowledge how fortunate I am to have her next to me. To be able to go through this cause yeah, those are completely valid responses too. Right? Like you don't have to be supportive if your partner, all of a sudden becomes a different gender in their mind and in your eyes right now, it's not something that I think is required of folks. Keely: Yeah, they just wouldn't be able to stay together. Alison: But yeah, like I think it's. It's been kind of validating for me to have a partner who's like experiencing these things and like, oh yeah, no, I'm definitely at least by if not pan or queer, like, cause I love this person. Like that's what it is for me. Like. Tanner is my person. Yeah. At least one of my people and well, like been , my, my main person for a long fucking time. And like so much of my life, I have been able to share with him and I want to make sure that that is something that we can continue on. In whatever way, shape or form that looks like, like we love each other. We want to stay committed to each other, but like, we're also I don't know if either of, you know, Tim Minchin but he's like, I think Australian comedian, music artist but we went and saw him in concert when we lived in DC, like 10 years ago. And he has a song of like if I never met you, like. Probably somebody else would do just fine as my partner. Like somebody else would probably do, you know, like there's no one person on the planet for the other, you know? And like, it's just like, it's a really fun, like ton of tongue in cheek, like love song, like anti love song. And I feel like that's true. Like, I love you and I do want to be your partner, but also like if something didn't work out between us. That's going to be okay too. Like we have the, I think it would be shocking if we weren't friends for the rest of our lives. But like if something happened and we decided that we weren't, Tanner: if it wasn't working out anymore, let's not pursue it. Let's not try and stay attached to what it looks like. Right. I mean, yeah, I'm more committed to. Yeah, our partnership, whether it's marriage or what it looks like, right. That we would continue to be partners. The, I couldn't imagine maybe a traumatic brain injury would change our personalities or something, but I don't think there's any reason we wouldn't stay friends, partners in some respect. Right. Certainly parents right now, you know, more than, or at the very least, I suppose. Keely: Yeah. It sounds like what I'm hearing is really that, that. The thing that many couples have challenges with is the two of you have maintained growth within these years of being together many years, being together, you don't have that stagnant, like married couple that then kind of just like does their own thing. And, and doesn't really. Change much and is unhappy. And you know, you don't emulate any of that and you have this growth, like you have you support each other, like, is, is that the main thing is like finding someone that you can grow with and change. Absolutely Tanner: Melissa Melissa was saying, right. It's you know, I already know everything about it. Like I offered that you don't, you don't know everything about them. Yeah. Keely: Like how could you possibly, especially Melisa: when, as you're both saying, like you're still unpacking and learning things Alison: about yourself. Yes, absolutely. I think like, We are both just innately, curious people. And we're always going to be following our curiosity, whether that's about ourselves or something else. And that's fascinating. Like that's, that's what I think keeps us coming back to each other too, is like, oh, I learned this thing and we don't have the exact same interests. So like, Tanner's way more into like tech and the internet and how those things work. And I'm more into like creative stuff and how the brain works and physical sciences and stuff like that. And like we can share those interests and be like, I'm learning new things that I want to share with you. And like, that's, it's a pretty fun partnership. Keely: well thanks! It's been so wonderful speaking to you, Alison and Tanner. Thank you for joining us today. And everyone thank you for listening and you know how to get ahold of us through Connective Therapy, Collective on Instagram or Facebook, all the things, and hope that you all have a joyful queer week. Cardinal: Thanks for listening to Queer relationships, Queer joy, a podcast by the Connective Therapy Collective hosted by Kelly C Helmick and Melisa DeSegiurant. I'm your producer Cardinal marking audio is edited by Mars Gaspar. Intro music is by bad snacks. If this episode made you smile or think, tell us about it, if you hated it, tell us about that. Review us on iTunes or Spotify, or send us an email at info at Connective Therapy, Collective dot com for more queer joy. Visit our website at www dot Connective Therapy. Collective dot com. Love ya. Bye.