Another three unique stories about what pride means. Cardinal, Gretchen, Kayla and Garrison 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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Melisa: What would you say Pride means to you? Cardinal Keely: Hello, hello. Hi, Melisa. Hi, Cardinal. Melisa: Welcome. Cardinal: Hello. Keely: So another person to get to interview. So fun. Cardinal, do you wanna introduce yourself, even though most of our audience knows you, but why don't you do a quick introduction before you dive into your stories? Cardinal: They might, they might not. So my name is Cardinal Marking. I use they/ he pronouns. I am the editor, producer, helper of the Queer Relationships, Queer Joy podcast. And yeah, I'm very excited to be back on the pod today. Thank you too. Keely: Yeah. Yeah. Super excited to hear and have you join, Cardinal. So this idea of a coming out story actually is being rephrased a lot. You might have seen this as like a coming in or talking about how we, how we as a community and individually came into ourselves, more into ourselves and into our queerness. And so do you wanna talk about your coming in story or your coming out story? However you wanna label that for yourself? Cardinal: Yeah. You know, I think that coming in is actually really, really accurate, especially for my story. So, I'm non-binary, trans masc, pansexual, all the good in between binary bashing stuff. A walking paradox and it took me a long, long time to recognize that I was... in fact, one of the things that the little internalized transphobia in my brain is constantly saying is, well, you didn't know when you were a kid, so you must not actually be trans. And I know that that's not true. It's just that I spent 23-ish, 24 years, just absolutely mashing down any part of myself. Um, And what finally broke me is really hilarious. So it's very much from the I'm just a really, really enthusiastic ally to trans pipeline like, uh, and what finally broke me was watching.. I don't even remember the name of the movie. It was some gay teenage romance movie with two gay cis boys. And I was watching it and I was bawling my eyes out. Cuz I realized that I was feeling some very intense gender envy. And that was after months and months of at the stroke of midnight, almost every night questioning my gender. And I realized that maybe CIS people don't do that for extended periods of time. And so I had a nice little mini mental break while my image of myself and my ego had a, a little crack in it. Totally falling apart. And realizing that who I had built myself up as is not who I really was. And that was a very difficult realization to come to. But I'm really glad that I got there because things are much better now. And I'm not done with my transition and I probably will never be. Because I'm a fluid person and yeah. So that's, and then the classic thinking that coming out on Facebook means I won't have to come out ever again or tell anyone my pronouns ever again. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's gonna be a lifetime of "actually it's they, them, they, them, they, them" like mm-hmm. So, yeah, it's it was coming into myself and then a constant constant coming out to everyone in the world around us. Cuz not a lot of people know what non-binary is still. And I. Yeah, I guess a lot of my feelings centered more around my gender than my sexuality. My sexuality in, in relation to gender is just like that's just a afterthought. That's not really something I think about that much is like, I'm just attracted to the person. I don't really factor in much else. Melisa: Mm-hmm yeah. With where you are now in the integration coming in process, what would you say Pride means to you? And maybe this year is different than other years? Maybe it's been constant. Cardinal: Yeah. So Pride means to me working through that internalized homophobia and transphobia and accepting myself as who I am. So Pride means that internal pride. Pride means discovering that my insurance covers gender confirming treatments and Pride means fighting to make sure that everyone has that privilege. Yeah. Pride means progress as a community. It means working on our shit altogether and leaving no one behind cuz we don't have it all figured out yet. We're still working on the language. Pride means the humility to admit when you're wrong. Cuz our community is so broad that we always have things to learn about gender and sexuality. Pride means the freedom to experience joy. And in order to have joy, we have to have safety first. And pride means recognizing yourself and others when they're brave enough to show themselves and having people recognize themselves when you're brave enough to show your true colors. So that's what Pride means to me. Gretchen & Kayla Cardinal: Hey, it's Cardinal. You're behind the scenes, buddy. And I am back behind the scenes here to give you a little context on this next, coming out. Clip. What you're about to hear is a portion of Melisa and Keely's interview with Gretchen and Kayla back from season one, I think is episode 10. The episode is called learning the ropes. If you wanna listen to the full thing, it's about the romance that grew when a vanilla gal met a full-time king. Enjoy. Gretchen: I was at a time in my life where I had a lot that I realized I needed to come out about. I had been dating people in the kink community and in the polyamourous community. And I'm a sex educator in my, I work in personal training and in sex education and I'd been dating people that knew me through that work. So then it was just like, yeah, I'm bisexual. I was like, I'm a sex educator. I XYZ like those kinds of things where we're a little more run of the mill, or people already knew them. And then entering this date, I was like, had this moment where. I was raised in a really affirming place for my gender and my sexuality. I never really had a big coming out moment. , and I'd had one of these moments of being. What if she's not okay with all of these things of who I am and what I, yeah, that's real. Instead of just, you know what, I had my own thoughts and judgments in my head of being like, what is a normal person going on a date showing up and getting like, I work in IT. I was divorced three years ago. Here's Kayla: the like that I, especially then I probably still would say , I'm pretty vanilla in that regard. , I'm like, oh no. I was , just kind of being a basic white girl who's kind of. And to other women? And then I didn't really know, , I didn't really know. So that was who I was coming into our date needless to say for me, it was a wild ride. Melisa: I was wondering like, how did the coming out go? What was your heard these words before? Are you a west side lesbian? Are you a west side lesbian? We Gretchen: shoot one anecdote from this date that points out how it went. So, okay. I, you can see, like I probably was wearing Kayla: this shirt honestly, but Gretchen was like, I was like very nervous and I'm not, I don't know if you can tell, but I am not usually very nervous and pretty smooth. Um, And no, I was so nervous and I didn't know anything about Gretchen. And the first thing we were sitting at the bar and they were like, you can touch me if you want. And I was like, oh, Keely: For people who can't see, she's just going backwards. And like, oh my goodness. Kayla: I was nervous. And then at one point was like, Gretchen pulled the moves out, which was. We'll talk about that. Maybe we'll get to that uncharacteristic. Gretchen: And so it's being bold, brought us Kayla: over and was like, we're going to go to a booth. Do you want to, what'd you say, Gretchen: I said, do you want to sit on opposite sides? Like we're dating or on the same side, like we're in love chose same sides. Keely: I had a choice. I Kayla: sat down and Gretchen plop their legs on me, which were at the bar and was doing. Uh, Bisexual. I can't sit. So I'm going to , I'm putting my legs up and I was like fidgeting because I'm so nervous and it has a little anklet and I was like, oh, cute. Thought I was asking an innocent question. Like, what's this anklet. And then she hit me with, oh, that's my rope family. I'm a climber and it was, I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, but then I learned Gretchen: about, yeah, she learned about my bondage family and how I have a family of people that I travel and teach rope bondage with. And that. Symbols of our commitment to each other. And this is really not what she was expecting to get into with like oh, cute jewlry! , Keely: that's so how to do when you were hearing that from Gretchen, what was going on in your mind and your vanilla mind? Kayla: Vanilla mind was really trying to play it. Cool. But holy smokes. Freaking out. I got back and like, you know, many in my circles knew of course, you asked how Gretchen I'm like, I know righteous. And then everyone was very surprised. A few, I have one acquaintance who is a mutual friend and I went out to coffee and I was like, listen, I went on a date with Gretchen and they were. Gretchen, The Gretchen? I was like, yeah, like I think the Gretchen, you know, and they're like, you went on a date with Gretchen and they're like you, Kayla, who I know like exactly. And they're, they've just really had the delight that they took and the mashing of the two of us where it was really lovely because yeah. I was, I had no idea. And the things I've learned in the past three years have been super cool and transformative. And I love to think back and like, remember my baby brain that was like mind blown and I, all of my, you know, not all of my friends, but many of my friends also were like, what is Suspension rope bondage? Like what are you talking about? And then, so all of those types of new learnings that have come up for me I'm very I don't know that I'm proud of myself, but I'm surely grateful that I was just like, I'm going to learn. And I didn't, I don't think I had any judgments. I had maybe some, Gretchen: if you did, you kept them to yourself. Garisson Keely: Hello, hello! Garisson: Hi! Keely: Welcome. Garrison! We get to have our listeners listen and learn more about you and your story. And we'll just have you jump in and introduce yourself and then go from there. Garisson: Sure. Yeah. So um, I'm a therapy trainee and I am a CIS white gay man. And I also really like using the term queer to refer to myself because I like the expansiveness that it sort of gives me to play around with facets of my identity. And to not be so locked in, I think to a really binary, like gender discussion of the kind of person that I should be. So that's some of the intersection that I come from. And it is now Pride month, which is also, it's so exciting. It's so exciting to me. I have, I think some complex feelings about Pride, but I think I never went to Pride when I was a teenager and I'm, I'm from a suburb of Portland. I come from the east county out in Gresham which is considerably less open or at least was when I was a kid than Portland is. And I didn't really see any queer people. I don't remember seeing any queer people around me. I don't remember having any queer role models. And so when I started going to Pride, when I got to undergrad and started living in Portland I just reme- remember feeling this sense of total and complete elation that here I am, I'm like in downtown Portland, it's scorching hot in June, you know, like burning hot outside. And here's all these people who are just celebrating left and right about their queerness. It felt so opening to me and so welcoming that I was like, oh, here's this part of my identity that has never been recognized or at best has been tolerated by the people around me and people are celebrating it. And so I think it really filled me with a lot of joy. And now it still does honestly, going to Pride, even if I'm just taking a bus downtown and seeing, like seeing Pride floats and seeing queer elders and seeing people dressed up in all rainbows. And it feels like such a celebration to me. Yeah. And then there's a flip side of this too, which is that I know that I come from a generation that has always understood Pride a celebration and not really as a revolution. And so the more that I learn queer history and the more that I get that information and it becomes available to me, the more I also understand this sort of like push and pull that I feel like we start to see now in like queer events during Pride month where there's this sort of like corporate element and this like mainstream element, which I think comes with a lot of like, recognition for like how far the community has come. And I think there is also like a little bit of erasure of exactly how pride started. And, and that we've seen that in media with sort of the white washing of the Stonewall riots and that Stonewall movie that came out and the, and the real celebration, mostly of like family friendly queerness, right? Like no, can get pride, no leather pride. Sometimes people don't wanna see that stuff. But I know that a lot of that is really cemented in our history. And that information about it is not always easy to come by. Queer history isn't always offered to us, but yeah, so I think there's two sides to the coin. Melisa: I love that you bring in both those pieces, the celebration and the revolution, you know, and there's still, this has been a theme in some of our other interviews, but we're still in that place today. We're still needing to stand up and revolt and, and fix things and change things. So thank you for commenting on that. Garisson: Mm-hmm . Melisa: Would you say you have a, a coming out or a coming in story? I know you didn't have a lot of representation in Gresham Pride in Portland. Seems like it was this like wonderful experience. Did you always know about your queerness? Garisson: I think I had a sense very early on that I was different. I, I had a pretty strict and explicit like masculinization. I was a really a effeminate child, but that was just a no go in my family of origin. So even though I would say that my parents were pretty welcoming and pretty open to the idea of me, at least not being straight. There's still this sort of hetero patriarchal undercurrent that really sort of undergirded my coming out. Yeah, so I think my family sort of knew at an early age that I was not gonna be straight. And so I didn't really have to come out to my parents, which was nice. But I spent most of my teen years not trying to hide who I was, really trying to not be who I was. So really seeing if there was a way that I could make myself heterosexual. Cause I sort of came from like Christian roots and just the combination of that and the hetero patriarchal sort of understanding of like what a man is supposed to look like and really what the rules of, of being a man are supposed to be. There's no room for queerness in that as far as I understood it. So for me, it was when I got to undergrad and it really like, like I was saying earlier, I wasn't really exposed to queerness in Gresham. I'm sure that there is queerness. There's queerness thriving, everywhere. But it was just not something that I had come across when I got to undergrad and I started to see more queer forms of expression and more gay people who were like out and proud and living happy lives. I was like, oh actually, maybe that's something that I could be invested in and something that I could claim for myself. And so I ended up coming at out at Lewis & Clark. When I was a resident advisor there to my staff team first. They were very supportive and welcoming. And then to my other friends, and I got sort of mixed responses to some extent, and I just remember feeling so euphoric. For like the, almost the whole next year after that, it was so, so freeing. It felt so liberating to me. And then about around a year or so, or sometime like six months to a year into, after having come out at Lewis & Clark, I decided that I was gonna write a letter to everybody in my extended family. And I come from sort of two, like a Christian and a Catholic background on each side of my family. And I, I wrote a letter and I talked about how, for me, it was like, if I could have chosen, I would've been a heterosexual person. Right. It was something that I wanted more than anything, something that I prayed for, something that I tried really hard to claim for myself and I didn't work. And it was really painful. And I wrote about that in my letter. And I got, again, sort of mixed responses. I didn't anticipate that people would be open to me at all in my extended family, but I actually got some really wonderful and loving responses as well. Sort of like, we're gonna love you no matter what. And then the other dividend that, that sort of paid to me was that there are other queer people in my family who have also now sort of come out to some extent and who I have closer bonds with. Like I have a queer uncle who sort of lives in multi-generational housing with my mom, my brother. And I have a couple of queer cousins and it's been wonderful to get to know them and that, that piece of their identity as well. Yeah. Melisa: So cool to be able to bond that way. Garisson: Mm-hmm. Melisa: Well, we also like to ask people about Queer Joy and it may be Pride, but perhaps there's something else in the last week or month that is just bringing you joy. Garisson: Oh, well, the, the first thing that comes to mind is that I was actually just at Pivot, which is a queer healthcare site. And I go there every once in a while and have my own sort of internal debate about like, whether it's for me, like, am I, am I the queer queer person who this is supposed to be for? But I'm also a, a grad student and I have student loans. So I'm like, I'm gonna excuse this for myself for now. And going there and getting queer healthcare from people who really care about the queer community. And it really is like palpable. I was just like sitting down in that office and there was an older gay man and a younger lesbian woman who's training. And just like the way that they're asking about like what I'm doing for Pride and the things that I've experienced and how completely open they were with me and how non-judgmental the space felt about my sexuality and like how my sexuality has been embodied and how my sexual health is doing. It, I, I think it's sort of the same feeling that I've experienced. It's sort of like, this is not something that I expect to be like an opening conversation, because I've had plenty of other experiences where my healthcare is treated as a sort of marginalized thing. Right. Like a well, here's like your sex and your sex doesn't fit into sort of the procreative heterosexual, like pyramid of who we value sexually. So even just earlier today, to be able to talk to other queer people and just feel free. Yeah. That was joyful for me. Yeah. Melisa: Amazing. Garisson: Mm-hmm . Keely: Yay. Well, thank you so much, Garrison, for sharing and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Garisson: Sweet. Okay. Thank you so much. You too. Thank you for inviting me on. Keely: Of course, absolutely . 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.