We speak to the co-hosts of new LGBTQ podcast Qmmunity about their hopes for bring­ing the com­mu­nity closer to­gether.

Gay Times Magazine - - CONTENTS: - Fash­ion Dark­wah Kyei-Dark­wah Pho­tog­ra­phy Iolo Ed­wards Words Lewis Cor­ner

Co-hosts of new LGBTQ podcast Qmmunity, Alexis Caught and Chris­ta­nia McPher­son, dis­cuss what they’ve learned about the chal­lenges LGBTQ peo­ple still face, and what we can all do to help build a stronger, more uni­fied com­mu­nity.

“Some­times it’s im­por­tant to take time out of our busy lives and just stop and lis­ten to what an­other per­son has to say about their lived ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Chris­ta­nia McPher­son, who co-hosts new LGBTQ podcast Qmmunity with Alexis Caught.

That is the main premise be­hind this new fivepart series – avail­able to stream now – where they bring to­gether peo­ple from the far-reach­ing edges of the ini­tial­ism to dis­cuss is­sues that face the queer com­mu­nity to­day. The con­ver­sa­tions can be un­com­fort­able, but that’s the whole point. It’s only by ac­knowl­edg­ing priv­i­lege, speak­ing up about in­jus­tices, and de­mand­ing change that any real progress can be made.

We caught up with the pair af­ter they fin­ished record­ing all five episodes – com­plete with guests and a live au­di­ence – to dis­cuss what they’ve learned about the chal­lenges LGBTQ peo­ple still face, and what we can all do to help build a stronger, more uni­fied com­mu­nity. Oh, and if you want to be a con­trib­u­tor for their sec­ond series, get in touch with them on so­cial me­dia at @qm­mu­ni­ty­pod.

What’s the main thing you’ve learned from host­ing Qmmunity?

Alexis: The biŠest thing this show has taught me, is a new way to look at where we are in the LGBTQ com­mu­nity. It was dur­ing the first cou­ple of record­ings of our live panel dis­cus­sions, and while we were talk­ing about what it means to be LGBTQ in 2018, how far we’ve come, and the chal­lenges and is­sues fac­ing us right now, it oc­cured to me per­haps we’re col­lec­tively go­ing through our awk­ward teenage years. So much has changed over the last 51 years (since the par­tial de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in Eng­land and Wales), at such a fast pace, and our so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­text now is wildly dif­fer­ent. Per­haps some of the un­rest and dishar­mony from within our LGBTQ fam­ily is be­cause now we’re get­ting a chance to look in the mir­ror, and ask our­selves who we are, and we don’t have it fig­ured out quite yet. Per­haps the prob­lems in our com­mu­nity are our teenage acne, our ‘spots’ are our an­guish and frus­tra­tions com­ing to the sur­face. And if I learned one thing from hav­ing acne as a teenager it was to treat spots with care, so that they don’t scar.

Chris­ta­nia: The main thing I have learned from host­ing is that I’m not such a ter­ri­ble pub­lic speaker af­ter all. I have a long way to go but I’m re­ally proud of my­self for com­ing out of my com­fort zone.

Af­ter the series of dis­cus­sions, what do you think are the main is­sues the LGBTQ com­mu­nity still face?

A: For me, the amaz­ing Lady Phyll summed it up best. To para­phrase her, she pointed out that while we do have ex­ter­nal threats that we face as a com­mu­nity – Brexit, anti-LGBTQ politi­cians, loss of queer spa­ces etc – the biŠest threat to us is ac­tu­ally dishar­mony and the break­ing up of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity from within. If we’re not en­gag­ing with each other in pos­i­tive, mean­ing­ful ways then we run the risk of not be­ing able to come to­gether and chal­lenge any­thing or solve any­thing – and that is how our rights and pro­tec­tions can be taken away. So for me, the biŠest is­sue fac­ing our com­mu­nity is the in­fight­ing, the lack of com­pas­sion, the way that peo­ple are pulling up draw­bridges and not en­gag­ing with each other, un­less they look and think ex­actly the same way.

C: There are a num­ber of is­sues LGBTQ peo­ple face but I think that one of the main is­sues are the rights or lack thereof for trans­gen­der and non-bi­nary peo­ple. Dur­ing all of the live pan­els trans* rights were brought up by pan­elists and the re­cur­ring theme was that trans* peo­ple need to be pro­tected by the rest of the com­mu­nity. Chloe Fi­lani gave some tan­gi­ble ways we can sup­port trans* peo­ple. She suŠested do­nat­ing to fundrais­ers, pay­ing for taxis or even walk­ing some­one home. I think we can all man­age to do some­thing small to give a help­ing hand to the trans” com­mu­nity.

What was the most un­ex­pected as­pect about the LGBTQ com­mu­nity that you dis­cov­ered dur­ing these series of con­ver­sa­tions?

A: Hon­estly, how re­silient we are! I hadn’t ever re­ally con­sid­ered it. While mak­ing series one, we heard so many sto­ries, so many peo­ple have over­come things, the his­tor­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal jour­ney that we’ve gone on, and all the chal­lenges that we still face to­day and yet we keep danc­ing. We keep wav­ing our pride flags. We keep on cel­e­brat­ing who we are, and that is some­thing I’m not sure we ever re­ally re­flect on and give our­selves true credit for. We all know that the LGBTQ com­mu­nity isn’t per­fect, but I’m also more in love and more im­pressed by the peo­ple that I share the rain­bow flag with than ever be­fore. C: Hear­ing more about the lived ex­pe­ri­ences of trans* peo­ple of dif­fer­ent ages and races was eye­open­ing.

Did record­ing Qmmunity change your per­spec­tive on an LGBTQ is­sue that you had strong be­liefs in be­fore­hand?

A: The thing that was the most eye-open­ing and alarm­ing for me was quite how badly we had let down our trans sib­lings. We’re let­ting, po­ten­tially, the small­est group in our fam­ily face huge ob­sta­cles by them­selves – the way they’re at­tacked in the me­dia, all the scare­mon­ger­ing – is ex­actly what gay and les­bian peo­ple went through not so long ago, and where are the mass demon­stra­tions in sol­i­dar­ity with them? Worse than that, some in our com­mu­nity are work­ing and demon­strat­ing against them. Hear­ing two of our guests, Chloe Fi­lani and St­ef­fan Zachiya speak per­son­ally, emo­tion­ally and elo­quently about their real lived ex­pe­ri­ence as trans peo­ple was in­cred­i­bly eye open­ing for me. Both talked of how the gay scene in par­tic­u­lar had felt quite hos­tile to them, and I’m ashamed to say that through my own priv­i­lege I’d been blind to that and never con­sid­ered it. That re­ally changed my per­spec­tive and I think it’ll be great for a lot of peo­ple to hear.

C: I can’t say Qmmunity changed my per­spec­tive on any­thing but it has been great to hear other peo­ple’s jour­neys and ex­pe­ri­ences. Some­times it’s im­por­tant

to take time out of our busy lives and just stop and lis­ten to what an­other per­son has to say about their lived ex­pe­ri­ence. We don’t have to lis­ten with the in­ten­tion to re­spond ei­ther. So I think Qmmunity has helped me lis­ten to other peo­ple’s sto­ries and just you know, take them in.

What have been your stand out mo­ments of the series?

A: In terms of in­ter­views, I loved our chat with Ryan Lanji – the cre­ator of a ri­otously fun queer bol­ly­wood/hip hop night Hungama – who had such a beau­ti­ful and in­tel­li­gently nu­anced view of all the dif­fer­ent lay­ers of iden­tity – sex­u­al­ity, race, re­li­gion, na­tion­al­ity – and how they can come to­gether, along with his views on how we can build a more co­he­sive so­ci­ety to­gether. I was also in­cred­i­bly priv­i­leged to speak with David Stu­art, who is one of the world’s lead­ing voices on gay sex and shame, chem­sex and its im­pact on our hearts. The con­ver­sa­tion we had was in­cred­i­bly raw and emo­tional. As a re­sult, it felt very cathar­tic. I hope peo­ple will lis­ten to it, hear his words, and start to en­act some of the things he talks about. Mzz Kim­ber­ley was also be­yond a doubt the most fun con­ver­sa­tion we had, as a doyenne of the queer scene and trans com­mu­nity, she had fan­tas­tic sto­ries to share and an in­cred­i­ble well rounded, and grounded, view on LGBTQ pol­i­tics and so­ci­ety.

C: There were a num­ber of amaz­ing mo­ments of the series. One of my favourite pan­els was In­ter­sec­tion­al­ity of Sex­u­al­ity. It was great to lis­ten to our pan­elists dis­cuss how their in­ter­sect­ing iden­ti­ties af­fect their re­la­tion­ship with sex­u­al­ity and gen­der. It’s not some­thing that is spo­ken about enough! I don’t even think peo­ple con­sider that you can be LGBTQ and some­thing else, the wider LGBTQ com­mu­nity has not been great at be­ing in­ter­sec­tional. There’s lots of work to be done to rec­tify that. I also en­joyed lis­ten­ing to older LGBTQ peo­ple, we erase the voices of the older gen­er­a­tion. It was an ab­so­lute plea­sure to have pioneers such as Marc Thompson and Lady Phyll speak about their

ex­pe­ri­ences of be­ing LGBTQ and black.

From the series, what is the one tip you want peo­ple to start do­ing, to build a bet­ter LGBTQ com­mu­nity?

A: Lis­ten, em­pathise and ex­tend kind­ness. It’s bet­ter to be kind, than to be 100% right. Some­body may dis­agree with you, but very rarely is that be­cause they are a “bad” per­son – lis­ten to them and try to un­der­stand how they have come there, em­pathise, we have all been hurt, so try and ex­tend kind­ness. By treat­ing each other a bit more kindly, ex­tend­ing the ben­e­fit of the doubt, and reach­ing out the hand of friend­ship and fam­ily hope­fully we can all come to­gether a bit more, stand stronger, united, and face the fu­ture to­gether, not just for us and our well be­ing, but for those com­ing be­hind us. We owe it to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of queer kids.

C: I don’t know if there will ever be a mid­dle ground. I would like peo­ple who are in po­si­tions of priv­i­lege to am­plify the voices of marginalised peo­ple within our com­mu­nity.

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