*Content Warning: Talk of Megan’s mother’s homicide, grief, mental health, abortion
**Sorry in advance for all of our ‘like!’ “mhmmm” “OMG!” we are such typical Cali girls 😉 haha… Anyway, enjoy! Thanks so much to Sam for this labor of love!!!
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Megan: Welcome to Queers Next Door
Leigh: with your hosts
M: Leigh and Megan.
We take the topics you care about:
L: sex, relationships, feminism, kink, social justice, and entertainment,
M: and look at them through a queer as fuck lens.
L: Find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @QueersNextDoor
M: and make sure to follow the blog at queersnextdoor.com.
L: Cheers, queers!
L: Hey Megan! What are you doing to take care of yourself this week?
M: Actually, that’s tough to answer cause I haven’t been doing great (laughs) with sleeping and managing work/life balance, which is like the story of my life. But I’ve been listening to music and dancing! I actually did dance and exercise this week.
L: What are you listening to?
M: I’m actually listening to Spanish dance music. I don’t even know who they are cause I don’t speak Spanish fluently at all.
M: But I’m always at family parties where it’s playing so what I do is I Shazam it and add it to my Spotify and I just turn it on. Oh, and then Selena! I always love listening to Selena. But I find, and I wrote about it on Instagram a little bit, I think, and my Patreon, where I’ll say that when I have really bad anxiety but I have to get up and do something, one of the things that I’ll do if I can is turn on my music and start dancing. And I have a private Snapchat, or a Premium Snapchat I guess. And so I’ll dance naked on there. And then because it’s kind of like bringing in this fun energy, I feel better.
L: That’s amazing.
M: I don’t do it every week. I try to, but this week I actually did that so although I haven’t been sleeping, I have been dancing (laughs). So, I guess that’s good self-care too.
M: So, hey, Leigh. How are you taking care of yourself this week?
L: Hmmm…I’ve been taking a lot of baths, which is literally a thing I do every week, but it’s starting to feel a little bit cool in Los Angeles now, so I don’t have to jack up my air conditioning to take a warm bath.
L: So that’s been nice. And you know it’s, it’s been a shit show of a few weeks with the Kavanaugh hearings and all the things going on. So what I found was the most helpful was I’ve been listening to stand up comedy a lot. John Mulaney’s my absolute favorite. So I’ve been rewatching his specials on Netflix. Have you ever listened to him?
M: No, I’ll have to check it out. I was gonna say is it a podcast or a show?
L: He has three specials on Netflix. Kid Gorgeous is the newest one. But he is a, like recovering Catholic, recovering alcoholic from the midwest. So, that’s my people.
L: And screaming at NPR is the other thing I’ve been doing, which is surprisingly cathartic.
M: Do you listen to that when you drive or…
L: Yeah. Yeah, when I’m in the car.
M: I saw your post, I think on Instagram, somewhere, about your bath, and I think I responded that I’m jealous that you have a bathtub.
M: Because I only have a standing shower. But I think, like what you said, even if you take baths all the time, if there is an intent behind it, “I’m gonna start doing this as self-care,” it feels better.
L: Totally! That is my one requirement for a place I live, is having a bath.
M: (sighs) I wish. I’ll have to start using your tub now that I’m here more often.
L: You absolutely can. I have two bathtubs.
M: That’s right. You do.
L: So we can text from separate bathtubs.
M: (laughs) Yes! We can send selfies.
L: Coming soon to our Instagram account. Selfies from both the bathtubs.
L: Awesome! Well, since this is our first episode, we want to tell you all a little bit more about who we are, and why we’re doing this. So, Megan, you want to get started? Tell us a little bit about who you are.
M: Sure. So most of the people that follow me online know me from what I used to be involved in, the Take Back Your Sex blog and podcast. And I’ve told my mom’s murder story on a few podcasts, which brought in a lot of audience. I am a cam girl now, that’s mostly what I talk about online. I have my own blog, although I have not been active for the last few months. What else? That’s how I got into the online sex-positive world, is by blogging and podcasting. And I was when I first started that I had left my marriage, and I came out again, as a lesbian, which now I no longer identify that way. But still, it was a traumatic time in my life that was helped by sharing my experiences. So since then, I’ve done that in some form, with Take Back Your Sex blog, then my own blog, and now this. So, it’s been very healing. And I guess that’s me now. (laughs)
L: Awesome. And that kind of goes into how we met. When Megan was doing Take Back Your Sex, she reached out to me, after following my Instagram. I am, the main hat that I wear is I’m a sex coach and clinical sexologist, which means I meet with clients to talk to them about their sexual concerns or their relationship issues. And we work together collaboratively to take some action to get them to the place they wanna be. So it’s a mix of education and emotional support and home assignments and things like that, all around anything to do with sex and relationships, though my specialty is working with folks who are queer or nonmonogamous or kinky. So my other Instagram and all of that is @SexCoachLeigh. And Megan reached out to me, so when she was doing Take Back Your Sex, I was writing for the blog. I did a podcast with them once, and then I started answering a sex advice column called Ask Sex Coach Leigh, which will be moving over to the Queers Next Door blog. So look for more Ask Sex Coach Leigh questions and you can always send questions in to us if there’s anything you want to ask about. So that’s kind of where I am. I mean, I got into all of this after working for almost ten years in tech. I wasn’t doing what I loved, I also left a marriage, and made a change, and so I did a program and got into the sex coaching. And so, that’s me.
M: Here we are!
L: Here we are.
M: Isn’t it funny, because I know a lot of people dealing with right now, transitioning out of a marriage or a relationship can be like this, “Okay, who am I? I’m starting over.” And a lot of people really find themselves, you know, cause maybe you’re in your late 20s, or whenever it happens, It’s like, ” Well, I’m a completely different person now. ” And it’s, although it’s not always positive, for me my divorce was positive, and I think you feel very similar.
M: But it really helped me to like think, “Where am I in my life and what do I want?” And it was like, ” Yay! I get to start over, ” in a way. So, whenever people reach out to me, cause I have talked a little bit about that, I’m always fascinated to see the way that people rebuild.
L: Yeah, when I got divorced, I definitely had that feeling of like, “Okay, this is a thing in my life that really wasn’t working for a long time. And now that it’s over and I’m working to heal, what other things in my life don’t feel like they’re where they should be? ”
L: So almost a year after my divorce I left my job, because part of that job was tied to where I lived at the time, and, you know, supporting my ex through what he was doing, and so because of that and because that wasn’t what was going on anymore, I was like, “Wait a second. I need to live in a different part of town and I need a new job too.” And so it was like the divorce was the start of the process.
L: But it wasn’t the end of it.
M: Yeah. And that’s kinda similar for me. What I did, before all of this, is I was a Montessori teacher
M: For many years. Right from high school, I started to intern at schools and then I went to college and started to work in South Orange County, which is interesting to me, cause it’s a pretty conservative place. And I, when I was married I felt like, ” I have my life really together. I’m a teacher. ” It’s such, it’s a job that everyone respects. And they, “Oh my gosh. You’re a teacher? You work with-” Cause I worked with early childhood education and so the young ones. They’re like, ” You must have the patience of a saint. ” And then to go from that to what I do now, where when people say, “What do you do?” It’s, I try to gauge them, like, how much should I say? So a lot of the times I’ll just be like, oh, I do different stuff for websites and blogging, and some, most people are like, okay, but if they keep going with it, you can tell if they already have an idea, they’re looking for more, I’m like, “Oh, I actually write about sex.” And if they keep going, I’m like, ” Yes, I’m a cam girl. Alright, let’s just talk about it all. ”
M: A polyamorous, kinky, queer cam girl. There you go. (laughs)
L: That leads into what I was just going to say. Which is, so, I guess we could say like a little bit about our identities. Obviously, we’re both queer. I’m a cis woman. I use she and her pronouns. I’m also polyamorous, kinky-ish. I did some of the sex work type stuff. I was a very very short lived cam girl and professional submissive. I’m not doing those things now, but I feel very strongly about the importance of that kind of work. I think it’s awesome that Megan does it. I also have a chronic illness. I’m also a mother. So, lots of intersecting identities there.
M: Mmhmm. And similar, I mean pretty much the same, except the chronic illness. I’m a cis woman, queer, poly as I already said, kinky. I like to call myself a baby kinkster. I don’t know how long like how can I stay a baby kinkster but I think I’ve been saying it for a year because I think, just like in the queer community, in the kink community, there’s like a, “Do I qualify? Am I kinky enough?” But that’s a whole other podcast in itself. I have a lot of mental health stuff. Most people already know, but I feel, like a lot of things that I talk about with this, it’s like a huge trigger warning. I’ll have to put that in the blog post, but my mom was murdered, I survived attempted murder when I was 18, so of course, that has shaped a lot of the way that I view things now. And I have PTSD, anxiety, depression, I just found out, from working with my therapist, that I have agoraphobia, which I always thought was a fear of leaving the house, but it turns out it’s a fear of panic attacks.
M: So you’re constantly doing things to avoid the panic attack.
M: Which for me driving is one of the things I hate doing. I could just stay in my house for a week. So working from home has been a challenge because, on one hand, this cybersex work, as I say, it helps because I can make money from my house. But then, when I was teaching I was forced to leave my house so I got a lot more done. I had to like make routines for myself. So the mental health stuff is hard, and I think that, as you said, it is important. Sex work is important. I think that it should be more normalized, because a lot of people are like me and they’re like, “This is the only thing that works with my mental health.” And so, people say, you know, ” Go make money, ” or you’re- you feel worthless if you don’t have a job if you’re not able to provide income. But then if it’s sex work, they’re like, “Oh, not that way.”
M: You know what I mean, so
L: Well, yeah, and I also have some mental illness, anxiety, and OCD, and then my chronic illness is PMDD, which is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I’ll probably end up talking about that more at some point, but it is, it’s essentially a mood disorder that looks a lot like bipolar but it’s based on hormonal changes instead of brain chemistry. So it makes it difficult too for me to work outside of the home because it happens every month but not always with the same amount of severity or the same frequency and duration. So sometimes I’m great and sometimes I’m kinda stuck at home. So doing this kind of work where I see clients either who come to me or on the phone is actually really awesome, so, yeah.
M: Yeah. And I think that’s why we bonded, cause we have so many similarities. And now that we’re recording I’m sure you’ll be sharing all your stories with the listeners, cause every week there’s something new. Like when you had the allergy, little reaction, no not little, the big reaction
M: where you had to pull over and give yourself the shot, which
M: I was like “I’m really sorry and I love you, but I’m laughing hysterically right now”
M: because it was so funny the way you described it. (laughs)
L: Yes, the short version of that is I had an anaphylactic reaction to god knows what
L: but I’d only had one before and I happened to have my EpiPen with me but I had never used it, because, here’s a PSA: Your EpiPen comes with a tester. You should try that tester out before you’re in anaphylactic shock.
L: And so I tried to jam it into my thigh, as one is supposed to do. But I think everything I learned about shooting yourself with adrenaline came from, what’s the movie?
M: Pulp Fiction
L: Pulp Fiction! I’m stabbing myself in the chest as I say this. Pulp Fiction.
L: So I, “Oh! I’ll just stab myself really hard in the leg.” And I did it a few times and I realized the lid was [on]. So, when I took the lid off and did it into my leg
L: The point is on the other side. So I shot it right into my thumb.
M: (laughs hysterically)
L: So yeah. Don’t do that.
M: (laughing) Fun times.
L: Don’t do that. Thankfully, the EMTs we’re like, “Oh, people do this all the time.”
L: So yeah, that was a cool thing that happened.
M: (laughing) Cool Things That Happened
L: Lots of cool things happen to my body, which I’m sure you will hear all about.
L: So now is time for a little segment we’re calling Queer & A, which are a list of questions that we’re going to ask all our guests to break the ice at the top of the show to get them feeling comfortable. We’re already comfortable, right, Megan?
M: (still laughing) Yeah, I was gonna say the ice has been broken now cause I’m wiping tears from my eyes and my eyeliner is getting smeared. From your story.
L: (laughs) But yeah so since today is just to kind of meet the hosts, it’s just the two of us, so we will start by answering the questions ourselves. So, Megan, I’ll ask you first, if that’s cool.
M: Okay. Sure.
L: What does the word queer mean to you?
M: To me, queer is a lovely umbrella term for all of the different letters of the LGBTQIA+. I also like it because a lot of my life is outside the box, I guess, and I think it covers all of that. You know, living, just, however, works for you, without regard for what society says about it.
L: Awesome. What do you like most about your body?
M: My butt.
M: (laughs) Which you can see all over Instagram. (both laugh)
L: Check out Megan’s Butt on Instagram.
L: What is your favorite word?
L: Awwww. That’s a great word!
M: Oh, I love that word. And I love the meaning and the little gifs on Twitter. When you type in smitten it has the heart eyes or the girl fainting. I love it. (laughs)
L: Aww, that just gave me warm fuzzies. That’s a warm fuzzy word.
L: (giggles) What is your least favorite word?
M: (sighs) I wanna say moist but I feel like it’s not really my least favorite. I just know no one likes it.
L: I’m gonna make a case for moist real quick.
L: Whenever I hear moist, I think of cake. Like there’s no part of me that thinks of it in like a sexual way
L: whether it’s good or bad or gross or pervy. I just think of chocolate cake. And it’s like, I want a moist cake. And I don’t eat gluten cause, body, stuff. And so it’s very hard to find a moist cake when you don’t eat gluten, so
L: I’m pro moist.
M: If, aside from that, as I said, I don’t even really dislike that word. I just know that that’s a common answer so I didn’t know what else to say. (laughs) I don’t think I have a least favorite outside of that. I guess like when people say mean things. I don’t like those words. Yeah, so that’s my least favorite I guess. (laughs)
L: Yeah, totally. What social cause are you most passionate about?
M: I guess the first thing that comes to mind, of course, queer equality, queer justice, but it’s too hard to just pick one. Like Black Lives Matter is super important, and I cannot believe that in this year there are still people who cannot get behind it or see what that’s all about. Okay, there’s only like a few more I promise. I used to be a birth doula, so I think birth in the United States really needs a lot of looking into and trying to figure out. I mean, we’re supposed to be the best country and we have really horrible maternal health.
M: And maternal death rates, especially for people of color, no especially black women.
M: And what else? Oh, early childhood education, because of what I used to do. I think we could be doing a lot more for our children.
M: And that’s it, for now. I’m sure there’s more.
L: What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever had sex?
M: (sighs) I feel so basic with my answer, but a movie theater.
L: That’s, that’s cool. What movie were you seeing?
M: I don’t remember. It was when I was like 18 years old.
L: That’s the best time to have sex in a movie theater.
L: It’s really the only time it’s acceptable.
M: It was a movie where there were not many people watching. I wish I remembered what it was. Yeah, I guess that’s- I am a very boring person when it comes to sex, which is hard for people to believe because of my job, but I like it on the bed. I like to be laying down. (laughs)
L: That’s okay. You like to be comfortable. Comfort is very important.
M: But I want, I have a bucket list. I’ll have to do some more wild sex somewhere. We’ll see.
L: Awesome. And lastly, what motto do you live by?
M: I’ll just go with the thing I already talked earlier about, which is on my camming profile. I think it’s on my dating webs- my dating profiles too. “Don’t be an asshole.”
L: Excellent advice.
M: (laughs) Short and sweet. “Don’t be an asshole.” Oh no, I think it says, ” Have fun and don’t be an asshole. ” Even better.
L: Even better.
M: That’s my life motto.
M: Yaaay. Now it’s your turn.
L: I’m ready. Maybe.
M: What does the word queer mean to you?
L: Well, as a personal label, I feel like it’s been an evolution. When I first came out, which we’ll talk about a little bit more, but I first identified as a lesbian and then I was like, “Wait a second. No, I think I’m bisexual.” And then, just as I started to understand a little more about like queer history and queer theory and the gender spectrum, I realized that, for me, bisexual just didn’t feel like the right term. And before you @ me, I definitely understand that bisexual means attracted to your gender and to other genders and I don’t- like I absolutely get that it’s not trans exclusionary or anything like that. It just, it doesn’t fit for me. So it’s been a personal evolution. The other thing I really like about it is it has a bit of a like “fuck you” to it, and I like my- I don’t know. I like my identity, especially an identity that is like super marginalized right now,
L: And kinda always, but especially under attack right now, to have a little side of like political rage
L: Slash “fuck you” to it.
M: Yeah, it’s like the word slut.
M: Like some people love it And say they’re a slut and some people are like ew, why would you say that. We should get rid of that, so
M: I think that’s important, what you said about, it just doesn’t work for you.
M: Cause I had that whole thing too, and when we did the podcast for Take Back Your Sex together, I think you sparked some of that for me, of thinking about the terms, and I had that reaction of like, “No, bi doesn’t mean that.” And then also just I ended up going through that phase of like, okay, I had to be bi because I was so afraid of it, and then once I got over that, I’ m like, “Bi doesn’t work for me anymore.”
L: Mmhmm. But I think also bi visibility, super important, and you’re seeing a lot of things about like celebrities who are bi that we kind of erase their bisexuality by just calling them gay or calling them straight. And like boo to that as well.
M: Yes. So it matters. What you prefer for your sexual identity matters.
M: What do you like most about your body?
L: Also my butt.
M: You have a great butt. It looks very nice in your little romper.
L: Thank you.
M: Not to be pervy.
L: I have- we will get a picture of the romper because I did a little mini video with it and I think the butt really gets people like on board with the romper. It’s a ridiculous like toddler outfit that I’m wearing right now. It is a onesie. But yeah, I feel like I’ve always been happy with- I’ve always gotten a lot of positive feedback on my butt
L: And I am a words of affirmation kind of gal. So yay butts.
M: Yay butts! I’m thinking of that Tina from Bob’s Burgers was like, “Butts! Butts! Butts!”
M: What is your favorite word?
L: Mmmmm…so I have a little bit of like verbal synesthesia, meaning that like certain words look friendly to me and like happier and I like the double letter word so like when you said smitten, I was like, “Oh yes! That’s one of the words” that is like a pleasing word to me. I think, so anything with like double letter kind of cuteness to it. I like, I think delightful might be one of my favorite words.
M: I like it.
L: Even though it’s not a double letter one but there’s something
M: I like it.
M: What social cause are you most passionate about?
L: Oooh so many.
M: I know, right? It’s hard to pick one.
L: I mean, reproductive justice is probably one of the biggest ones. Also Black Lives Matter and really anything about dismantling the prison industrial system and just police brutality and all of that. Immigrant rights are a huge one right now. I mean, I feel like the world is sort of a garbage fire right now so it’s like I don’t think as much about some other ones like environmentalism but like we’re definitely like not doing so good there. Yeah, usually things that involve the rights of marginalized folks I think
L: that means the most to me. I think pro-choice and reproductive stuff is especially important to me because I was raised Catholic and I was like in heavy heavy air quotes here “pro-life” as a teenager and I feel like I didn’t have all the information when that was how I saw myself and like on some level I’m doing some penance for that.
L: My deepest, darkest confession is that I went to a “pro-life” march in Washington D. C. when I was 15.
M: You did?!?
L: I did!
M: Oh my.
L: I know.
M: I can’t even imagine cause it seems so opposite of you now.
L: It really is. It really is.
M: But you were so young.
L: I was so young. And, you know, religion’s a bitch.
M: Did you see on my Instagram that when Sex Down South was happening there was a “pro-life” conference happening?
M: At the hotel across the street
M: And someone, I don’t know who did it, but they had these flashing lights that showed up, and it said, “Abortion is OK”
M: And they shined it onto the hotel.
L: Oh, that’s amazing!
M: Yeah. Yeah, it was, but I couldn’t believe that I was there, me and everyone who was there for this sex conference we’re going to fun play parties and we’re walking through this hotel seeing people with the yellow lanyards and we’re like what conference is it? And it was all older white folks.
M: And I thought, “Well, this must be some Christian thing.”
L: Which was not inaccurate.
M: People meet for that? I, It just made me angry right away and I tried to calm myself down and I’m like, “Okay, don’t think about that, just enjoy your experience here. But what are the odds? The same weekend Sex Down South.
L: Have you ever seen the documentary 16th & Delaware?
L: I think that’s what it’s called. Do you know what I’m talking about?
L: It’s, and I could be saying that wrong, so we’ll come back with an edit if that’s incorrect.
L: But it is a documentary about an abortion clinic that is across the street from a crisis pregnancy center.
M: Uh huh.
L: Crisis pregnancy centers are, you know, the ones that are basically run by anti-choice folks but pretending that they’re about choice and they’re about options and they’re very deceptive in their marketing
L: And so what they’ll do is they’ll try to get people to go there instead of to the other place but they actually never count abortion as an option but they act as they do and then they give a bunch of like anti-choice propaganda
M: Oh my.
L: To scare young women
M: That’s horrible.
L: Yeah. It’s garbage.
M: Yeah, so I have a lot of Mexican family who voted for Trump because of abortion.
M: Like that single issue.
M: And it just blows my mind and I, I, I, yeah, it’s, we’ll have to talk about that
M: Another episode.
L: I know, totally.
M: It’s so much. The world is just- You know what? I feel like I lived in this bubble until Trump became president because I grew up in Long Beach. It’s very diverse.
M: Very accepting of queer stuff for the most part.
M: I mean, the sidewalk, the crosswalk is painted in rainbow.
L: It is!
M: And so I’m like lalala life is great and then to realize wow, life has not been great for a lot of people, and you know, so yeah. It’s a lot to deal with these days.
L: It really is.
M: Okay, what is…so now, to sex…What is the most unusual place that you ever had sex?
L: In a Target dressing room.
M: That sounds juicy.
L: Yeah. Not like, this is a reminder that sex is a broad term and does not just include penetration because it is not, that is not what I did in a Target dressing room, but, you know, it’s fun. There’s a lot of mirrors. They definitely don’t care how many people go into a dressing room or who’s going into a dressing room. I recommend it.
M: That sounds fun. I’ll have to try that.
L: Shop at Target.
M: I’ll tell you if I do.
L: Okay. (both laugh)
M: And what motto do you live by?
L: Oooh. There is a line from a song by The National, which is my favorite sadboy band, that says, “All we have to do is be brave and be kind.” And I like that a lot.
M: I think I saw you write that somewhere.
L: I have it on a little thing on my fridge.
M: Oh, okay. I like that.
M: I like that. It seems more elegant and wise than my, “Have fun and don’t be an asshole.” (laughs)
L: But, isn’t it just saying the same thing?
M: Yes. Yes. Just different language I guess.
L: And what we were talking about before we were recording is that the thing I used to have on, which is not a motto, but that I used to have on all my dating websites, was that I neither work nor play hard, so it’s, that’s my anti-motto.
M: (laughs) I love it. So we didn’t say what the episode is titled, but we plan to title this Episode 1: Meet the Queers Next Door, so we wanted to also include our coming out stories.
M: I guess I’ll begin.
M: So I guess a little bit of the backstory where I was in my life. So like I said, when I was 18, someone broke into my home, and stabbed me and my mom, as well as two other family members. We all survived except my mom. But there was a time after I was stabbed that I thought I was dying cause I was bleeding and losing consciousness and I had those thoughts that people say you have, “Oh, you know, I guess I’m dying. What didn’t I do with my life?”
M: I can’t say like coming out was a really big part of that list, but it’s what sparked me to come out the next year.
M: Because I felt like surviving a near-death experience does give you that little kick in the pants, like, “Hey you could die at any time so do what you wanna do.” In my teen years, I proudly now call myself, I was a slut. It wasn’t a bad thing, except some of the time I wish that I was more empowered in my decisions. But I mean a lot of teenagers, you know, your hormones are raging. I dated a lot of boys and I always liked girls. And at the time I did not even have any clue of people beyond the binary. Like I know that they must have existed.
M: But in my mind, I was just like, “I like boys and I like girls.” You know, now I know, that there is, that there are other folks who don’t identify that way. But at the time, so technically bisexual would have worked. But that was seen as a dirty word. So in my mind, it was always like, ” No you can only like one or the other. ”
M: Well, I was so young and I just thought everyone, every girl liked girls, and you just don’t talk about it. Cause I was kind of raised religiously and so I just thought, “Oh, I guess this is a thing people do. We just like each other and don’t say anything. So I’ll just date boys and have fun and that’s fine.” So at the time that my mom died, I had a boyfriend. My life after getting out of the hospital was very, it was hard. I don’t even know how I survived that first year cause my PTSD was so bad I couldn’t do anything. The day that my mom was murdered I was supposed to start a job. They held it for me, but I had such bad PTSD that I couldn’t, and it was my first job, I felt like such an adult (before her death). And I was staying home watching Oprah and I saw this thing where it was women who were married to men for years and then suddenly came out and said, ” I ‘m a lesbian” and left them. And I remember thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh. That’s gonna be me.”
L: Oh wow
M: (laughs) Cause I could totally see myself, I really wanted to be like a good girl and I wanted to do the right thing that my family wanted so I wanted to get married and have kids and do all those things. And I thought, “That’s gonna be me. I’m gonna be that person who totally has an affair” and, you know, cause I knew that I was, I had this thing that I needed that I wasn’t allowing myself.
M: And I had already, the year that I lost my virginity to a boy I also did with a girl but it was one of those, we never talked about it. We just like pretended it never happened. So I already had all these really confusing experiences. So to make a long story short there, I was really afraid but I felt like, “I’m just gonna do it, even if my family doesn’t like it, then whatever,” cause I had already at this point lived alone for a year. So I felt like that pressure was off, of me needing, me needing them. I had already lost something so huge in my life that I felt like, ” Okay, I can handle it. ” So, it was, I went to Pride for my first time that year, Long Beach Pride, and then, in October I saw these things, it was, it’s I still see it and I love the image. It was like a picture or a meme of somebody kicking a door with a rainbow and it says National Coming Out Day.
L: Yeah, of course!
M: And I saw that and I remember thinking like, “Okay, I’m gonna do it that day.”
L: It’s October 11th!
M: And for some reason, knowing that other people were gonna be doing it, and it was like this whole thing, I did it, and at the time, I think, MySpace was just going away. It was Facebook, but not everyone was on Facebook yet. And I remember being, thinking to myself, “Oh, I can’t post it like on Facebook, but I don’t want to say it in person so what am I gonna do?” I emailed everyone in my family.
M: (laughs) And I said, “I just wanted to let you know that I’m a lesbian.” And it was really, my family, they don’t love it. They’re, not all of them, but some of them are religious and a little old school and they don’t love it. I got more responses of, “I still love you. I’ll always love you, even if I don’t like this.” And I actually got a few, “Does that mean that you’re going to cut your hair” and “Does that mean you’re gonna start dressing more like a boy.” And I’m like, “No, that’s not how this works. ” But now I think it’s cute cause some people who are older, I guess they don’t understand that.
L: Right, they think there is a visible marker of lesbianism.
M: Yeah. And I’m like no I’m still me. I’ve always been very girly, and that’s not gonna change. Also, one other little part that I forgot to include is, when I came out when I was 19, I had a really horrible depression about the fact that I never came out to my mom before she died.
M: So I went to the cemetery with rainbow balloons and a little rainbow thing and I wrote-
M: I know I’m gonna cry (laughs). I wrote, “Mom, I’m gay.”
L: Megan, I’m gonna cry
M: I know. (laughs) Me too. And I put it at her cemetery. So I did have that coming out story
M: With her. I know, now I’m crying. You’re crying. It’s a mess.
L: That’s so sweet.
M: Coming out stories can be emotional.
L: They are. Awwww.
M: So, I didn’t come out to her the second time cause I felt like, “Well, she probably knows, so.”
M: (laughs) But I did get my fun little…I took pictures of it, but of course, I got a new phone and lost them. But it was one of those things where I’m like, “Oh, I’ll never forget it. I did come out to my mom.”
L: That’s so sweet. I love that.
M: Yes, so that’s mine.
L: Aw, that’s so great.
When you were talking, I was thinking, have you seen that meme that’s going around that’s like describe your age by not saying how old you are, like without numbers? And I was just thinking you could be like, “I am Came-Out-To-My-Family-On-Email
M: (laughs) Yeah.
L: Yeah, so I will tell you a little bit about mine. I am a fair amount older than you. So when I was in high school, when I was a senior in high school, I had a boyfriend, and I had started hanging out with his group of friends, including his ex-girlfriend, which was already sort of a weird thing at that point in my life, like I had a little bit of that toxic monogamy kind of jealousy, like, “Why are we hanging out with your ex-girlfriend? Isn’t she your EX-girlfriend?” But then I met her and she was the coolest and I remember him telling me that she was bisexual. And I was like, “Whaaat?” Like, probably, obviously, I’d met gay people, but like I did not know anyone queer my age.
L: And so she was just like this very mysterious person. And then I met her and like she became my best friend. And the quick version of that is that I ended up breaking up with him to date her.
L: For a while, we all hung out, and he would be like, “My lesbian ex-girlfriends are coming to hang out.”
M: (laughing) Oh my god
L: And like after school. And so coming out for me was about one person at first, you know, and then I felt like a lot of things just made sense, where I was like, “Oh, I’ve probably had crushes on girls.” But there’s that line between like, what is admiration? Or what is like do you wanna be her? Do you wanna fuck her? Do you want to date her? Like how do you? Like about other girls and about other women, that I think I hadn’t really dug into until like I kinda fell for this girl. And I was like, “Oooh, okay. I get it.”
L: And then like a bit of an attention whore, I decided to come out in the school newspaper.
M: That’s so cool!
L: But I was the editor of the school newspaper.
L: So I wrote an anonymous letter to the editor, to myself.
M: That’s great.
L: The reason was, I was perfectly okay with people knowing it was me. And I figured people would find out. But I didn’t want my name in print saying it. This is before the internet, kids.
L: So it was not online. So I figured like if everyone knew it was me that would be awesome. But I just didn’t want there to be like a piece of paper someone could show my parents.
L: That had my name and saying I was gay. So instead I wrote about like what is it like to be a lesbian, cause I came out as a lesbian first, at an all-girls Catholic school.
L: So I did that.
M: Oh my gosh, that is so cool.
L: I got a lot of support. It was actually great. I had this like, my girlfriend also went to an all-girls Catholic school, a different one.
M: Of course.
L: So we were sort of like, she’s one of the ones who introduced me to a lot of social justice stuff and we would go to like Amnesty International things and like boycott things and write about gay rights in our school newspapers. It was a cool time.
M: There should be a comic book about this story.
L: Well, and to give you another thing about the age, this is 1997, so like the internet existed, but we were like barely on it. To find more resources I literally went to the library and like looked up like gay books and like took a bunch of things out to read other things about like other like queer folks basically. And so we ended up breaking up, you know, months later, as you do in high school, but because we were both really passionate about this thing we still went to prom together. And we were each the first girl at our school to bring another girl to prom.
M: Oh, I think I saw your picture about that. It was so cute.
L: Yeah, so I had, you know teachers that are like really coded as gay, but they’re like not out.
L: The woman who headed the newspaper was one of those women. Like I’m sure she was gay, but not out. And so she was the one, you know, she saw my coming out thing. She was very supportive. And she was the one I went to and said, “Can I bring my girlfriend to prom?” Because you could go as quote “stag,” which is such a weirdly gendered term.
L: Or like with a friend who also went to the school. So you could just say you’re going by yourself, like if my girlfriend went to my school.
L: But because she went to another school, you know, you have to write down the name of the person and their phone number in case like, you know, you don’t show up, those kinds of things. And so she said let’s pull out the handbook and let’s look. And she said the information about your date never says, “he.”
L: So, let’s do it! And so I just wrote her name as like my date, and she does not have a gender neutral name, so it was clear and yeah, so we did that and then at her, at my girlfriend’s prom, or my ex-girlfriend’s prom, there were actually like two other girls who brought girls, and so
M: Oh wow.
L: But they put us all at the same table (both laugh)
L: So we were at like the super gay table.
M: (laughs) That is great.
L: Yeah. So that was like, that was, that was my coming out. I then went through, I went to my first Pride when I was like 16 or 17, because, even though I didn’t know a ton of gay people, one of my best friend’s dad was gay. And so he took us all to Pride back in St. Louis, which was really cool, and then yeah, I just I got a lot of support. I felt like it was a pretty positive experience, especially from like a pretty religious background.
L: The weirdest thing is when I realized that, “like oh wait, no, also I like guys, like I’m bisexual.” My straight friends had a problem with that.
L: Because I think they had this idea of like you have to fit in a box. And like we might not totally understand the box you’re in, but we have put you in the box.
L: And like we’re accepting of the box. You can’t come out of the box. Like you have to stay in the Lesbian Box now.
L: I’m like, “but that’s not totally accurate.” Yeah, and I guess the only other part of the coming out thing is I’ve been pretty out to everyone in my life since then
L: But I have been like in heteronormative relationships for a lot of my life. I was married to a man for more than ten years, and you know, we had a child together, and so I definitely like looked straight.
L: And it was, there was a lot of plausible deniability about my sexuality.
L: So my parents, not really, I was out to my dad but I was never really out to my mom. I’m sure she knew, but it was never a thing we talked about. So that, so this past year for National Coming Out Day, my partner came out as trans. She’s a trans woman. And so that became like a lot more public.
L: Coming out, for me, I mean, not in my world really, but like with my mom, it couldn’t be avoided, like letting her know that I was in a relationship, like a serious long-term relationship with a woman. I’ve always dated women, but because I’m poly and because I was married for so long like my quote “core partner” or “primary partner” hasn’t been a woman to the point that like I’ve needed to communicate that to my family. So that was a weird like 20 years later like kind of coming out situation. I’m sure family stuff will come up more
L: and always but yeah, that’s, that’s my jam.
M: Aww, I love Coming Out Day.
L: I know! It’s so nice! I can picture the thing. It’s a Keith Haring drawing of like the guy kicking open the closet. Yeah.
M: Yeah when I was married and I was teaching, I worked at a Christian school.
M: Sooo when I got divorced and started to date my, well now my ex-girlfriend, I remember those uncomfortable moments where it’s like, when I was with him and a holiday party came up, cause my work would do a bunch of stuff, you know I would be like, “Oh, I want to invite him to the show where the kids are doing-” or “I want to invite him to the party, you know. Why not?”
M: But when I was dating a woman it’s like, ” Oh, I better not bring her because my partner looks, I mean, like I don’t, no one ever questions my sexuality. I could
M: get away with anything. But with her, she always gets the question, “Oh, are you a boy?”
L: Uh huh.
M: “Or are you a girl?” And so, in people’s minds, they start thinking. And so it even became like I can’t even just be like, ” She’s my friend. ” I felt like everyone knew just by looking at her and me together. So it was such a difference to be married for- I was only married for three years, but to see. And before that, I had dated women for years.
M: Just to see the way you move through the world with a heteronormative relationship versus not. It’s, you know, I never questioned, “Should I hold his hand? Should we kiss in public? ”
M: It’s like celebrated, “Oh, look how cute,” you know. But when I’m with my partner now, and it’s 2018, and we’re still, you know… Most of the time we’re fine. I don’t really think that much about it. But there are some times still when I’m at a place where people are looking at us and I feel like, “Oh, I’m just not gonna touch you. I’m gonna let go of your hand.” Which I think I’m more paranoid than most because I’ve been through a violent crime.
M: But I always have this thing in my mind where I’m like, I don’t want people to pay attention to me. Don’t look at me. So if that means that I’m not gonna hold your hand, then I’m not gonna do it. And it’s a bad feeling.
L: Well, it’s like that hypervigilance, right, where you’re like, “Oh, something could happen.” But I think some of it, at least for me, some of that is like some weird internalized homophobia, too.
L: Because I, I’m the same way, like I do have moments where I’m like aware of physical affection with female partners, and like both of my core partners right now are women. They’re also both really femme women, and sometimes there’s like how that reads as well. Because I have a lot of feelings about that word, femme, for myself.
L: And I think that’s something we’re gonna talk about. But, appearance-wise, I still am definitely like, I definitely present as like a pretty feminine woman.
L: My clothing kind of varies. But and my partners are very femme so the thing that happens is more of like an erasing of our relationship. And like, “Oh, they must be gal pals or friends”
L: Like just an assumption that we are
L: That we’re friends. And that’s all. When we’re out in the world.
M: Mmhmm. Yeah, a lot of those little things that, you know, people don’t think about, and that’s why- I just had someone, a family friend, post a thing that said, “Oh, I wish we had straight pride.”
L: Wait, really?!?
L: I was like, “Oh, this is the start of a joke.”
M: Noo. It’s not a joke, and I finally, I didn’t see that family friend for a while, and then when I did, I was like, “We need to talk about this, because I was gonna say that you’re not allowed in the house anymore,” (both laugh) “unless we make this right.” And she was like, “It was just a joke. I didn’t-” You know, and I talked to her about like, every day is straight pride.
L: Right. All romantic comedies are straight pride. Yeah.
M: So now she was like, “Okay, I’m sorry. I didn’t think of it like that.” And, of course, you know, people do the whole like, ” Well, I have a friend who’s gay so I’m not homophobic, or I’m not, you know, like-”
M: Well, you probably aren’t but what you’re doing is in a way so yeah.
L: It’s like impact versus intent, right?
L: Well, yeah. I mean it’s the same thing as like, “Why don’t we have white entertainment television?” Well, cause all television is white entertainment television. That’s why, so, yeah.
M: That’s why on our next episode, we’re gonna talk about queer relationships, right?
M: Well, our past with dating and the fun little queer relationship survey. Or what is it titled?
L: It’s a relationship template, yeah.
M: Relationship template.
L: I did a presentation at a few conferences with a friend and colleague on queer and trans relationships. And there’s a template for like questions to ask like a new partner. Things to talk about around like what values and what thoughts you have around dating and relationships. So we’re gonna talk a little bit more about that, maybe answer some of the questions.
M: Yeah. Cause there’s a lot of things to think about in a queer relationship versus, you know, like my marriage, that, those things just never came up. I’m like, “Wow, those were easy days.” (laughs)
L: Yeah. And well I think there are things that come up not in every like queer and trans relationship, but in disproportionately more than straight relationships, our trauma is a big one. And you know, I’m a white woman so I’m sure there are different kinds of trauma for people of color that may come up just as much in straight relationships. So I don’t want to like assume that there isn’t trauma in straight relationships. There’s just a different, my experience is that there’s been a different way of kind of talking about it and addressing it.
M: Yeah. Thanks for listening to our first episode. We’re so excited!
L: We will be back in two weeks.
L: With our next episode.
M: See you next time.
L: Thanks for listening to Queers Next Door. We hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to follow, subscribe, and leave a review, wherever you listen to your podcasts.
M: If you like what we’re doing, join the Queers Next Door fan club at Patreon.com/QueersNextDoor to receive all of our exclusive content, and we’ll mail you a fun little surprise. You can find the link on our blog, queersnextdoor.com. Cheers, queers!