According to Google, community is defined as a group of people who live in the same area. But over here at Let’s Get Back To Queer, we see that word in a completely different way, baby. In this episode, five producers explore what community means to them, in whatever ways that we as Black queer and trans people experience it. From a fellatio-fanclub turned familia to a good Godly Sunday word, and everything in between. This episode is a celebration of Black LGBTQ communities from the minds of Ja’Mel A. Ware, Ny’Omi “JUICY” Stewart, Glenn Quentin George, Shannon Joy, and Brandon Nick.
Messy, But Fun 11:42
Sista to Sista 21:49
BiUs Fulfilled - 32:23
God Loves the Queers - 41:20
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DDSS produced by Brandon Nick
Messy, But Fun produced by Shannon Joy
Sista to Sista produced by Ny’Omi Stewart
BiUs Fulfilled produced by Glenn Quentin George
God Loves the Queers produced by Ja’Mel Ashley
Qween Jean. Donja R. Love, Ameirah Neal, Alex Hardy, Darby Davis, Hassan Williams, Tommy Cole, Thabisa R., David J. Cork, Ashton Pina, Alphonsho Mills
Brandon Nick: You know...when they say the sky’s the limit, I don't believe that. The sky is cute or whatever, the sunsets be sunsetting. But the truth is... It's a barrier meant to keep us in. You're good to do whatever you want... Within the parameters that we set, which we call the sky. I mean in the literal sense, yes, the sky’s the limit because when you breach that point your ass will run out of oxygen and literally gag. But metaphorically.... Like SPACE IS INFINITE, so strive for that. Because the possibilities are endless there. Now, Let's Get Back To Queer.
[Let’s Get Back To Queer theme music by Byrell the Great]
Brandon: Welcome to Let’s Get Back To Queer. We’re back with more Black ass queer ass stories. And I’m your host who does the most… Brandon Nick.
Aight, so imma keep it brief cuz this episode is gonna long boots. But trust me, it’s all worth it! Anybody who knows me knows I go up for community. Like, I live for her. The power of community is so necessary to our existence, so I wanted to do an episode exploring what that word means to us. So in this episode you’ll hear from five dope ass producers, including myself, on how art, covid, religion, threesomes, and sisterhood have shaped our views on community. Aight, imma stop wasting your time. Let’s just get into it. C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, let’s go. Let’s go!
Brandon Nick: When I think of community, I think of Black queer and trans folx. The people that I’ve been blessed enough to cross paths with who have sown into me whether they knew it or not, hell, whether they knew ME or not. But particularly, especially in the wake of B2K’s pandemonium that is COVID-19, community has really been a lifeline. And when I speak of community at this moment I’m specifically speaking of 7 beautiful bright and brilliant people that I’ve fostered deep relationships with. “Soooo this is the story all about how” my comm-un-ity turn my quarantine upside down?? Y’all get where I’m going.
Aight so boom, the day is March 19th 2020, and the weather is chilly and wet, not that it mattered since we were on a mandated “stay your ass in the house” order. My partner Donja and I were bored boots, camping out in our living room to add some spice to us being inside 24/7. Picture it, a big ass air mattress in the middle of the living room, two grown ass men eating cast-iron skillet nachos and playing Mario Kart for the 100th time that day... Somehow we came across Marco Polo. We got on and invited a few folx who we knew to join us. And thus Da Dick Sucking Society was born!
Brandon (From Marco Polo): Hello everyone. My name is Bangy Cunt Brandon. I am the COO, the founder, and the team leader for the, um, East Coast chapter of Da Dick Sucking Society. Some of you may not know each-other, so use this time to introduce yourself, pronouns, and be sure to say something interesting about you. So I will go first. Like I said, my name is Bangy Cunt Brandon...
Brandon Nick: Da Dick Sucking Society aka Da DSS or “Group” as we now call it, is something at the time we thought would be a passing fancy, but quickly became a necessary ecosystem to cure our cabin fever. What was originally 12 or 13 girls, overtime became a strong 8, no pun intended. And over the months, we migrated across apps. From Marco Polo, to House Party to Bigo Live for like a day! cuz that was a lot. That app is a LOT. To now Instagram where we group text and have daily video calls and conversations.
Those Marco Polo days, though, really set the groundwork for our siblinghood. What was so cute about it, right, was I knew everyone, but everyone didn’t know each-other, and they were still able to jump in and be with the shits!
Voice 1 (from Marco Polo): What’s going on saints? This is Qween Jean, honey, coming to you live, darling, from... social distancing.
Voice 2 (from Marco Polo): What the fuck, y’all bitches is sleep? This is the perfect time to be out here sucking dick! What y’all bitches doing sleep?!
Voice 3 (from Marco Polo:) How many licks have I had in my little 26 years of living? Girl, if I count between trade, cruising, threesomes, foursomes, college hoeing...
Voice 4 (from Marco Polo): I, I, very deeply believe in the art and the business, even, of whoring!
Voice 5 (from Marco Polo): Oh and I forgot to say, prosper. Be messy and prosper, down!
Brandon Nick: It’s the voice filters for me! But we are more than a society of Black non cis-het folks who enjoy fellatio, we are a family. Okay that was corny, we are a family. It was real mixxy, but it worked. And I think that’s the beautiful thing about community in general, is how mixxy and diverse we can be, finding strength in our common interest while celebrating or holding space for our differences. Community is not monolithic, right? Community is ….. I am so sorry, I was getting on a high horse. So back to Da DSS.
While we were app-hopping, we developed a ritual of doing what we called “family dinner” or “club night,” which was basically jumping on Zoom and shooting the shit. We’d talk about how being in the house has driven us crazy, the fact that there wasn’t any toilet paper in the bodegas, whatever cultural or national fiasco was going on at the moment, cuz there were many! We celebrated all of our Quarantine birthdays. And we’d play virtual fishbowl, and we played that thang religiously.
Looking back, Da Dick Sucking Society is the reason I survived 2020. I know others have had similar methods or practices to make it through the panini or quarantina. And I think it’s so dope how we as a community have found new strategies for fellowship. From folx hosting miniballs on Bigo to movie nights on zoom with Black Gay and Stuck at Home… I, hmmm, I also have Da Dick Sucking Society to thank for me being so comfortable with myself and how I show up. Virtually surrounding myself with folks like Hassan and Qween gave me permission to explore how I express my gender and they’re part of the reason I’m the faggot that I am today. Da Dick Sucking Society really means a lot to me.
Qween Jean: What’s going on?? Oh my goodness? What does the Dick Sucking Society mean to me? It means family, fellowship, and freak nasty hoe shit. Okay?
Alex: To me the Dick Sucking Society represents love, community, joy, family, laughter, and a support system during a time when many of us were disconnected from our normal ways of life.
Tommy: So to me the ddss- which I never even called it. I don’t even think I’ve ever even called it the name, I just call it “in group,” - is more than just community. It’s love in the most genuine sense of the word. I just have permission to just be.
Darby: Da Dick Sucking Society has been a world of joy and just… it’s been the most necessary thing for me, like the past year and a half. It’s love, with intention.
Donja: To me Da Dick Sucking Society is everything. I never really had a core group of friends, a core group of friends where I see myself reflected throughout everybody and everything and every facet and layer of me. And I get that wholeheartedly with Da Dick Sucking Society. Ameirah: You know it really has become a family to me like the Dick Sucking Society is really you know the name is a little ki but like for what it stands for behind all of that is really meaningful and really I'm really grateful and thankful.
Brandon Nick: One of my favorite highlights has to be our storytimes. Y’all, it literally was a ki. We had our own lil virtual book club, it was a lot. So how it started, right... We were on Zoom one night, you know our weekly ritual at that point, and, for whatever reason, we ended up on miss BGC Live! BAYBEEEEE! And for you young kiddies that don’t know, BGC was a hybrid dating slash hook-up slash social media slash dare I say cultural reset sorta website. Scrolling through memory lane and we made our way to the “stories” tab. There was one story at the top of the trending list called Save Me by a user, I won’t say their username. But their profile photo was their WHOLE ass including their hole, so naturally we decided to check it out. Biiiiiiitch, let me tell y’all. So Save Me right, it’s a story about two highschoolers, Londyn with a y and Lance. Imagine a young Noah and Wade situation. Londyn was molested by his uncle, killed him, secretly fell in love with Lance, the highschool trade. Londyn’s mom died leaving him alone. Lance comes out of the closet and him and Londyn start dating, Londyn reads Lance’s ex girlfriend for BLEED one night when she crashes their date, then a cousin or something moves in, there might have been a threesome somewhere... it was a lot! Very gay hood erotic novel vibes. And we’d all take turns reading. We also read another story called Semester in Blood by Sam Loochi about these gay vampires in Eden, that was fab! But the highlight of reading these stories was imagining them as movies and tv series. Like we were in deep, had a fake casting agency and all. Arguing about who should play who and all that. So in Save Me, Londyn was going to be played by Brett Gray and Da’Vichi from Grown-ish was cast to play Lance. Cuz he look like he packing, hashtag dick of lance! Oh... that’s when somebody got meat-meat, like mang mang I thought you said you love me type meat.
Some of us had seen each-other in real life in one form or another since lockdown, from going hiking, going to Qween’s Stonewall protests, or the occasional curbside pop-up. But it was such a heartwarming experience when all Da Dick Sucking Society members met up earlier this year for dinner at Alex’s house. More than a year since we formed this family, it was the first time we were all together as a group. The weather was nice, the food was fooding, oh my god Darby’s pound cake was CAKING, and that galette, mmmmm Alex, bitch, you did that.
It was a really magical moment, it was looong overdue, and it was love. I love Da Dick Sucking Society. As the icon Sinia says, I love all my girls and all the girls are what? You got that right. I don’t think I would have made it through the panera bread without these amazing humans on this journey with me. And I just wanted to hold some space to tell y’all that I love y’all deeply. I love y’all deeply. I love y’all deeply. And yeah, that’s it.
Messy But Fun
Shannon Shird: I'm recording this episode from the cornfields of a friend's farm in the Midwest. So if y'all hear a chicken clucking, please forgive me. They want to be heard too, just like us. So the conversation you're about to hear is between me and my really good sis. It is not at all what I planned for this episode, to be honest. I was preparing for a much more refined, all the way, pulled up, way less personal interview about policy and climate for queers in South Africa. What ended up happening is that we haven't talked in a while. We started reminiscing and, um, something a lot more raw, intimate, and incredibly giggly happened. And, uh, it turned into a story about how I came fully into my queerness. Anyway, imma stop prefacing and let y'all listen.
Shannon Shird: Hi Thabisa!
Thabisa: Hi, Shannon.
Shannon Shird: Where are you, specifically, right now?
Thabisa: I am in Cape Town actually as of, um, February. But it's, it's supposed to be the gay capital of South Africa, but I honestly think that's only true for white South African male, like gay men. Um, yeah, because I'm still like my, my partner and I are still not sure how, you know, we're being like perceived and because she's like masculine and you know, sometimes we can be like straight passing, you know, in a sense, but we've been together for six years now.
Shannon Shird: Wow, I thought it was a while. Yeah. How did you meet?
Thabisa: She was actually teaching at a rooftop event and then we, yeah, then we met, and yeah. Then I went home with her that night and yeah. And yeah. The rest is history.
Shannon Shird: That's awesome. Sometimes a one night stand can turn into a six year relationship.
Thabisa: Exactly, look at us now! Yeah, I think we just like living our best lives. We're not really concerned about like, you know, putting a stamp on it, or getting the government involved as people would say. I'm very happy living my best queer, lesbian life. But now, there's a new, what is this, policy, what do you call it? Um, we, uh, they've just legalized. Um, where you can get married as we'll poly-triad, if you wanted to.
Shannon Shird: Really?
Thabisa: Yes yes, in South Africa. Yeah.
Shannon Shird: Now you can have three people that you can bicker with together.
Thabisa: Yeah. Yeah.
Shannon Shird: So speaking of triad, I have a question for you. Do you remember how we became friends?
Shannon Shird: Pause. I did not mean for this transition to be this smooth. I promise you'll understand why in a few minutes
Shannon Shird: Do you have earphones in? Cuz I don't know if your partner is going to be... if it's okay to talk about.
Thabisa: No, I do have earphones on. She's cool though. I don't think it's anything she doesn't know about my crazy New York scandals.
Shannon Shird: This could be off the record if you want. But, um, I was thinking back on how we became friends, like for real, for real. Because I remember I used to see you at Madiba, the restaurant in Fort Greene.
Thabisa: Oh my gosh. Yes.
Shannon Shird: But like, I want to share something with you.
Thabisa: Oh my god.
Shannon Shird: So when I first met you. Okay, for whatever reason, at the time I like was like low key, very jealous of you. Cuz I thought you was so pretty. And I, I was so confused in myself. Yes, yes, this is the truth now.
Shannon Shird: The truth is coming out.
Thabisa: Oh my gosh. This is the tea, huh? How old is this tea? It's been brewing.
Shannon Shird: This tea is like 10 years old, like 11 years old or something.
Thabisa: Oh my god!
Shannon Shird: So I didn't really understand. Like, I liked you, but also like, I was like, low-key jealous of you. And I feel like this is a common trend in my relationships with other like, especially like black queer femmes. And at the time I was like, I was aware of where I was like sexually. Like I was, I was just finally accepting that I was not straight, like, right? I feel like the night that really solidified our friendship was a little bit after that. When I went to Bembe to meet up with another friend who I will leave her name out of this, but an awesome friend of both of ours. And you were there, you remember this, and it was Bembe so tight. You can barely move, but they had like, the music was great, the drumming, and, and so at some point in that night, we were having a very good time.
Thabisa: Yeah. It was a very, very good, extremely good. Oh, I remember, I remember.
Shannon Shird: How did it go down? Well, I walked in and saw the two of them dancing. I love my friends and we were all looking especially good that night. I got one drink, then another, maybe another. We danced. Lots of guys tried to join our divine feminine trio. And we rejected them. We were having fun with each other that night. Things get a little blurry, but I remember going to the bathroom and running into Thabisa there. We were in the bathroom stall. And the next thing I knew, her lips were on mine and all the hateration in my heart turned to love-aid. That was a terrible metaphor, but you get it.
Shannon Shird: And that was the night that me, you and our friend who will remain nameless.
Thabisa: Yes, yes.
Shannon Shird: Went back to my house and
Thabisa: I remember.
Shannon Shird: Dot dot dot ensued. My partner at the time, they picked us up from the bar that night drove us back to my place, to our place together. And they were like, can I join you all? And I was like, no. So we all went and had our fun together. They were definitely in the ‘nother room, like meditating the whole time, trying to, like...
Shannon Shird: Now, before you think I'm a terrible girlfriend, we were in a very understanding, open relationship where we encouraged each other to explore our sexuality. And they were actually super supportive. But still incredibly horny, obviously.
Shannon Shird: Messy, but fun.
Thabisa: Messy but fun. Yeah. Yeah, you know.
Shannon Shird: I'm glad I could share with you my messy behind the scenes feelings.
Thabisa: Thank you for sharing this with me.
Shannon Shird: Because, obviously I love you now. And you're like my sister-wife and friend. And like, after that night, we were always tight, like.
Thabisa: Right. Exactly, exactly. There's a song here in, in South Africa, where they say, sometimes you just gotta strengthen the friendship. So, you know, I think we've gone past that strengthening the friendship, so to speak!
Shannon Shird: Yeah, that's perfect. That’s perfect
Shannon Shird: Life. Never ceases to amaze me. A one-night-stand can turn into a committee years long relationship. And sometimes a threesome can be the start of a beautiful friendship that spans almost a decade. So that's how me and Thabisa strengthened our sisterhood. With love... And maybe a little scissoring. It's also how I came fully into my platinum card carrying queer identity. Yes, platinum. Because after that night, I finally got over whatever voices in my head told me I wasn't gay enough, whatever doubts I had about being part of the Q-munity. Because baby, let me tell you one thing. Having a threesome with two other women all night long, definitely affirmed me and helped me integrate a huge and missing piece of my identity. I finally felt gay enough and I fucking loved it. A messy, but fun way to come to this realization.
Sista to Sista
N'yomi: Ooh, bitch, girl. Hey, bitch it's Omi. Girl, I was just voguing down, bitch, in my living room. And I have nobody else to call cause you know, we be here. Future tag team performance, legendary up and coming girls. Bitch, but I was voguing down, bitch. I did this one combo, girl. It was real cute. Girl I'm living my femme queen fantasies. And I'm not even no mones yet gag. Uh anyway. Call me back cuz, ahh!
N'yomi: Girl, it's real rough, I tell you that. Uh, I'm so over this shit. Like, it's really starting to affect my mental health at this point. And I just can't. Like, why the fuck haven't I had sex since I've been here? If I was pretty boy, like I used to be and not a tranny, then I'd have some kind of boo right now and don't act like I'm capping cause you know it's for real. And I know you said it takes time, but, damn. I didn't think it was gonna take this much time. And I hate that I'm centering romance, but I be lonely sister. And it's annoying because when I get on these apps and I match with niggas, it's obvious that they want to fuck. I mean, bitch look at the material, get into it! But then it gives unmatched when they clock my tea. But like you knew what my tea was when you swiped right. So make it make sense. Like... I, I don't know.
It's like, nobody really knows what it's like to walk around and feel like the most undesired person on the planet. The life of a black trans girl, check-it. Mind you, the dolls wouldn't even have this problem if there wasn't so much fear attached to people just being themselves. But you know. Uh, I hate this. You going start paying my messages, but anyway, on a brighter side, bitch, get into my catwalk. Cause she's cunt! It's giving Meeka, gag. It's giving malicious Meeka, it's giving malicious Meeka, bitch. I'm about to be a problem, bitch. And the girls are not ready. Carolina cunt! Ahhh. It's giving, Juicyy! Juiccy! Anyway, girl, let me, let me take this energy and not the last energy I had and let me just enjoy my day, but mwuah, love you sista.
N'yomi: Ahhh! They are starting grow, bitch! Ah, gag sista! I am really in here feeling myself. Girl, I was about to get in the shower and I peep my titties are growing, girl. It's given new cunt in the bathroom Miss thing. Wow. This is crazy for real. Girl, and to think that literally a year ago I was on the phone with my ma talking about, yeah, mom, like I'm non binary. And I mean, I'm trans femme leaning, but it's not like I want titties or anything, and now look bitch... breast buds, gag. I need to start like a transition journal or something. I can take pictures of my Macbook. Just something I can look back at and be like, damn girl, you was really doing the thing. Yeah, it's cute. It's cute. I miss you sister like... Oh, let me tell you this. You know, I think about how we met all the time. And I know I say it all the time, but we are really like IG friends to real life friends. Gag that's wild. I was with my ex and then we was in the park. We was on a walk and I said, bae, I need to go ki with my sister. Left my nigga to go vogue, girl. But like we was in your living room, watching clips, sweating down in a fucking iving room with red light, with socks on hot. Huh? Like the girls, like the girls. And then you said, "it's ancestral." And you know, I'm gushy bitch. So I ate it right on up.
It stuck with me this whole time because it really be feeling like that. Like we stepping into something that we can feel, but have no words to like fully describe, but because we're still trying to figure it out, but we know that the girls have done it and continue to do it. So Imma put my faith in that and not in all the other shit that be going on. I'm doing just fine where I'm at, at the pace I'm going. In all aspects, sister. Whew, girl. Not I'm taking myself to church, bitch, let me get in the shower. Before I go to practice. Mwuah!
N'yomi: Sista, us when we really stop out how I know we can, uh, ovah. Girl, remember when you told me that I needed a medium in my tops because I was not understanding that even though a small shows my physique, I need a medium because girl, I ain't no boy no more. And the body is changing. Meaning I need a medium because then I can wear it after my titties grow. I decided not to get these. Thank you so much! Anyway, thank you sister, for that little trans girl note. I'm in this store in SoHo child and I definitely got some cute stuff to wear this fall. It's just all so expensive! Like being a lady is not cheap, Miss thing. Oh also do you think we can go to Sephora next week? Not think we are so put that in your schedule Ms. Thing, because like, I think I'm finally ready to start stepping out how I really see myself and girl, I can't shop with nobody else, but you want to come to this makeup shit. After, we can go back to your place. You know, I ain't seen it. You know, it was real crazy considering you was just a little cute walk away, but I'm in this checkout line and this white woman is staring me down. And I dunno if she's clocking my tea or if she got something to say, excuse me, miss, Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Girl, let me get the fuck out of Soho, bitch. Anyway, love you sister. Mwuah.
N'yomi: I know it's late and I'm leaving this crazy voicemail, but girl, I was just sitting in my room thinking about all the that's happened in these last few months, girl, moving to New York, getting a new apartment, starting over meeting new people. It's been crazy for real. But, and I, and like I was just sitting down journaling thinking like what's been the most consistent thing since I moved and girl, this might sound crazy and you know, I'm dramatic and I'm gushy but... it's been you, sista. I mean, when it comes to my transition and when I met you in December and now you've been my support, sista. And it's been in a way that's not through pain, you know? Cause I feel like being a Black trans girl, we always connect or we often get together when someone is killed or something bad happens. And it's through pain that we find joy. You know what I mean? But when I first met you sissy it was joy on site, you know what I mean? It's like, we... It's like all the trauma and all the bad only seems beatable when we're together. And I just am so thankful for you. And I know I'll always say this, but you really have been my sister for real like, who else do I FaceTime every day? You know what I mean? Like, it feels like how my mom, my aunt interact when they get on the phone and they ki. Like, I feel like I finally have that.
Like I finally have a sibling and you feel like blood, that's the crazy thing. Like it feels like we are blood siblings, bitch. Separated at birth. And I'm telling you all this because the way I have learned from you and healed through your love, bitch... I can't even describe how thankful I am. And know that it is not going to appreciate it, sista. Because you have been a sister, a friend, a mother, a mentor in ways that you wouldn't even understand bitch. And gag, you're younger than me. Make that make sense, bitch. But I guess love and support has no age, and wisdom and knowledge has no number. So it's just sista to sista. We our own house, bitch! Fuck it! Me and you, overall mothers, gag. But yeah, I know it's late and I'm being gushy, but I love you sister. I'll talk to you in the morning. Bye.
***Brandon Nick: You’re listening to Let’s Get Back To Queer. Stick around til the end to hear some ways that you can support the podcast.
Ashton Pina: But you're not going to use the video portion of this right?
Glenn Quentin: No.
David J. Cork: I had a whole outfit. And then I saw Glenn, I was like, oh, we not dressing up for this? And he was like, nah, you don't have to. And I was like, oh great. Lemme go head and change these clothes.
Glenn Quentin: Hey I'm Glenn Quentin. You're listening to a check-in with myself. David J. Cork and Ashton Pina. We're the co-founders of BiUs. Our mission is to cultivate a community of talented artists, support youth development and celebrate cultural awareness through content that promotes equality and diversity. It was the summer of 2014, when the three of us came together to bring Bi: the web series to the world. The first project in our ever expanding anthology created for you, by us. Now I reached out to my brothers, asked what community means to them.
Ashton Pina: When I think community, like I think of you two. Like the word itself, like really lends itself to you both. And I literally up updated my website. It's live now. Um, but I updated it and I kind of was just thinking about, you know, collecting all of our work and seeing all of the things that we'd done together. I was just like, yo, like what, where would I be if I didn't have these two people? Like these two people to push me to encourage me to empower me to, uh, you know, support me to be a shoulder whenever I needed it. Um, and to even be so much so that we live our own separate lives, but there's still so much intricacies that we live together and we may not communicate all the time. We may not, you know, have those check-ins regularly, but what we, what we created still lives out in the world and it still has power. Um, so when I think community, I think about, you know, you two and the space that we created for me to just be authentically me.
Glenn Quentin: So when I think about community, um, I think about the road trip that we took to Chicago.
David J. Cork: Oh yeah!
Glenn Quentin: Um, and how that, like, that was a celebration of like the like being workers, like being acknowledged for like, Hey, like, yeah, those were three puts out like really like does this thing. Um, and, but like the experiences like of like driving through and like driving into a neighborhood, seeing Britney Spears, windows down, uh, the neighborhoods, which is, and we all like on a dime sort of like switch and just like are connected and be like, Nope, not right now, not this moment. Um, and like that adjustment that like that happens. It's just like, well, you don't have to talk about it. Cause you're all like present. And with each other. Back
Ashton Pina: That damn road trip, God bless.
David J. Cork: Yo that was a road trip.
Glenn Quentin: Being authentic, like just like clearing the pathway and making everything to come to us without having to actually like exert extra effort. Um, so, um, I'm, uh, I'm in love with that.
David J. Cork: Yeah. That's about, I mean, That's, I mean, that's, that's abundant, you know, that's like embracing abundant energy, you know. Not necessarily like feeling like you have to force your way to like be connected to people, but like just allowing yourself to just be connected and just be yourself, will ultimately bring that energy into you. Like anybody's energy that you, well, the energy that you put out is the energy that you bring in. So that's really the key.
Glenn Quentin: Yeah.
Ashton Pina: And it, what resonates with me is that this community - through we there's a lot of things that could have broke us. Um, some literally, but we are still here. And I think that goes to show, I mean, even just thinking about Nana's Boys like, that was just... that's community, right? Like here's this idea literally wrote a script in a few weeks, gathered the crew. Like and we did it. And like, I have no doubts about what this film is going to look like.
I can't wait for y'all to see it because like I told the editor girl, like I'm literally gonna cry. Like the moment that link comes to my email, like I'm literally gonna cry even before I see it, just knowing the amount of work, what we all sacrifice. And that literally was, we've been doing that for the last decade, sacrificing so that we could create and not have people be the gatekeepers for us creating. Um, and I think that's what really shows up for me and, and resonates with this relationship and why I'm so enamored to just be brothers, to be friends too. Because no matter what I it's, it's almost like family, you know, that you always can count on them. I know I can always count on David and Glenn.
David J. Cork: Do y'all remember when y'all wanted to shoot that series in four days?
Glenn Quentin: It could have happened. Okay. It could have happened.
David J. Cork: Glenn, Glenn, what happened on this shoot on those last shoot would have been the same thing that would have happened on, on, uh, it would've been the same thing -oop, sorry. Would have been the same thing that would've happened, uh, have we, have we tried to do that shoot in four days. Like I think, I think we were, I think we did. I don't know. We've done. We've we've done a lot. We've grown. We really, uh, have evolved as far as like creators and producers, directors, writers, actors. Um, I think the next thing that we do, which is going to be like out of the park.
Ashton Pina: No, it's crazy to like, remember that drive and to now live in Chicago. Yeah. It's kind of wild to think about a year. This year. Shown me what community is. Be essentially is wherever create it. Um, because you know, I went to Cape Verde and I didn't know anybody, um, when I landed. But the moment I stepped out the airport, community showed up. Logged on to Grindr, community showed up like, you know.
David J. Cork: Y'know, It's interesting to you say that about like community, just kind of showing up. Um, I feel like community really shows that when you're being your most authentic self, I feel like that's when community really like pops out. And even with like with Bi for example, with us creating BiUs and working on by and working on other projects, like us being authentically ourselves, allowed other people around us to be authentically themselves. So we kind of created like a safe space, uh, with the work that we were doing. And you know, even now, like I know we're not like always together all the time, but I feel like right now, because I'm kind of like this new space. And I feel like the more that I am authentically myself in this new space, the more people that I am in connecting to in a very genuine way, which allows me to connect to a larger community, which allows me to kind of, you know, have more support around me just because I'm living authentically.
Ashton Pina: Um, and we came together to create community, to support community and to develop community we've blossomed in such a way that when I look back at our work, I see it. I already knew what was possible. I already knew what would become of us working together. And it's so great to like really revel in all of it.
David J. Cork: We're currently Destiny's Child, we're all doing our own individual projects right now. But like when we come together, like we still do like a really bomb album.
Glenn Quentin: Yeah.
David J. Cork: That’s kinda how I felt.
Glenn Quentin: All right. So here's a closing question. Um, as the, as the Destiny's Child album, right. When we come back right, for our next album, what are we calling it? So all, I just give a, give a, what's the name of the album that comes. I got mine.
David J. Cork: Go first then.
Glenn Quentin: Okay.
David J. Cork: How many words can we have?
Glenn Quentin: It's an album, whatever you want to call the album!
David J. Cork: Oh, you right. Okay.
Glenn Quentin: All right. So it's not, it's not my best work, but I'm course with Abundantly Fulfilled
Ashton Pina: And you know what, I was just going to say BiUs fulfilled. Like, so that was the first thing...
David J. Cork: Oooh oooh, you ready? You're ready.
Glenn Quentin: Yeah.
David J. Cork: Us.
Glenn Quentin: Okay.
Ashton Pina: Us is epic. And especially if the Bi could still be there, but kind of like...
Glenn Quentin: Listen, we might be putting out an Us album!
Ashton Pina: Literally.
God Loves the Queers
Ja'Mel Ashley: What's up y'all this is Ja'Mel Ashley, and I am so excited to be on Let's Get Back To Queer to talk about this topic of community. The first community I ever knew was a church. My family owns a mega church. At the time it was just maybe a standard size church when I first was born, but I spent all my time there because I spent much time with my grandmas. So church was a big part of my life that also became a huge part of my disappointments, a huge part of my sadness, a huge part of me understanding what discrimination is. It was the first place that I learned that communities are different. That our families are one sector. And what is appropriate there inside of our home, or maybe even at a family reunion is not, may not be appropriate inside of a church building.
And so, I wanted to talk about how religion impacts how we view community. So here we are. My name is Ja'Mel Ashley, and I am proud to introduce you to Alphonso Mills.
Ja'Mel Ashley: Thank you for taking the time out to answer a few questions about religion and community. Let's jump right in. Okay.
Alphonso Mills: Sounds good.
Ja'Mel Ashley: How has religion shaped your identity?
Alphonso Mills: Oh, so I'll give it a little backstory and then I'll do my best to answer. So I grew up in a very, uh, religious household. So I was in that family where you go to church every Sunday. Um, I was actually very involved in high school with like my youth group. Um, I was actually the director for one of the programs. So it, uh, religion was a very big part of kind of building myself, figuring out who I, who I am, who I was. Um, I will say that once I got to college is when I started blending the two in terms of like religion and my actual identity, because that was the first time I actually embraced who I was fully.
I, I like to see myself as more of a spiritual person. So while religion may have been what constricted my identity in terms of like being afraid to come out, being afraid to express my multiple gender identities, uh, in terms of feeling like God didn't love me, so I had to be something else. Now I'm in the place of God created me like this. God has... God loves me in who I am and how I present. And I had to learn to love myself and who God created me to be. And not who religion tries to tell me to be. Religion showed me the box that I believe spirituality tries to break down. We talk about the difference between spirit and flesh quite often in church. And I believe that religion was trying to control the flesh, where a spirituality says let's work on the core. And when we work on the core, then the flesh will kind of follow suit. Am I making sense?
Ja'Mel Ashley: Absolutely. Spirituality is the core of what religion is supposed to be, but religion is quite restrictive.
Alphonso Mills: And I would even say, spirituality is the core of religion, but we have people have added or, you know, our humanness to spirituality,
Ja'Mel Ashley: Absolutely.
Alphonso Mills: ...to then make religion.
Ja'Mel Ashley: The constricting box. That it is.
Alphonso Mills: Correct.
Ja'Mel Ashley: So I'll find some, what does community mean to you?
Alphonso Mills: I love this question. And I answer it differently every time. But to me, community is the, the people that you surround yourself with the people that associate with the same things that you do, um, community is your support. Community is really just the people around you that love you for who you are.
Ja'Mel Ashley: Period. There was a pause there. What were you thinking about?
Alphonso Mills: Ooh, a lot of times, if, if you do it just based off of geographical region, then your community could be like your cul-de-sac or your, your town. And the sad thing about that is oftentimes for LGBTQ people, but that's not, um, a healthy community. I will say that. Which is unfortunate because, you know, we, we wish that the places that we grow up in that we, you know, learn and figure out who we are. We, we wish that those places would be the first ones to accept us. And often those are the places that shun us away.
Ja'Mel Ashley: And I would say, I think that in this day and age, the internet and social media has made it a lot easier for LGBT people to find community.
Alphonso Mills: Oh my gosh. Yes. I remember being on Myspace, looking for gay groups to join because I had nobody in my family knew I didn't. I grew up in a military family. So there wasn't a whole lot of, you know, gay acceptance. So my first place of even meeting my interaction with gay people was in Myspace groups, looking for other folks that were like, oh my gosh. First off, all these men got their shirts off and I didn't know what porn was yet. So I was just, you know, enticed by that. But also just the, the knowledge of knowing, oh my gosh, I'm not the only one that's experiencing these feelings and, and, you know, looking for others that also feel the same way.
Ja'Mel Ashley: Can you tell us how your belief system has shaped your community?
Alphonso Mills: Um, now that's the question I've never been asked before. So I will start by saying my belief system starts with my belief in God. And I think in believing in God, a person also has to believe in themself.
Alphonso Mills: And that, to me, that's where God is because we are made in God's image and we are children of God. So therefore, if we're going to believe in the higher being, the creator, we also have to believe that a piece of that is in ourselves. And I believe that my community is made up of people that recognize that we were created by something bigger than ourself. And also we have to love ourselves to be able to show the strongest form of God's love. And I truly believe that my love for God has shaped my love for myself, which has shaped my love for other people.
Ja'Mel Ashley: Ooh, it's a whole lot of love over there!
Alphonso Mills: It's got - listen.
Ja'Mel Ashley: Well, ladies, gentlemen, and all of our family in between.
Alphonso Mills: Can I, can I interject? Yes. So ladies, gentlemen, theydies, and gentlethems okay, go ahead.
Ja'Mel Ashley: That was Alphonso Mills and this is Ja'Mel Ashley until next time.
Brandon: Thank you everyone who tuned into this episode of Let’s Get Back To Queer. We was gone for a minute now we back with the jumpoff! And so excited to be sharing more stories with y’all! But if I can be for real, telling these stories ain’t easy. It takes a community, haha get it? Cuz that’s the theme of this episode. So we need you, our community, to help! You can support us on patreon and get some cool perks like bonus and behind the scenes content. And for as little as two bucks a month, that’s less than a swipe on the dirty ass mta, you can exclusive updates on the podcast. Our patreon link is in our shownotes. If you can’t contribute monthly, or just wanna make a ovah donation, you bless us through Buy Me A Coffee, or hit our CashApp or Venmo, also linked in our shownotes.
This episode was produced by me, Brandon Nick, and my fellow power rangers: Ja’Mel Ashley, Glenn Quentin George, N’yomi Stewart, and Shannon Shird. This episode was edited by myself, with sound design and mixing from Evan Joseph. Special thanks to those featured in this episode: Thabisa, Ashton, David, Alphonso, Qween, Ameirah, Alex, Darby, Tommy, Hassan, and of course my Donja.
And as always, thank you to you our listeners, our community, for tuning into another episode of Let’s Get Back To Queer. Don’t forget to support the podcast! Until the next episode, byee.