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