The Bored Trans Parent

You might think being a trans parent is very different from parenting as a cis person but that’s just a bold assumption. Sure, there might be some issues to get out of the way, but after that small extra step being a trans parent is, to use Aubree Calvin’s words: Uneventful. Trips to the playground, the much needed night off, Bree has been through it all with as much love as any other Maddy would.

After moving around a lot as a child Aubree settled in Texas. Living in the United State’s conservative south may come with some political downsides for trans and otherwise queer folks, it also is part of a large cultural identity. The South is home to a lot of unique perspectives and stories you can’t find in the mayor cities on either U.S. coast so Aubree is eager to share them.

We totally failed to mention this on the pod, but I got in touch with Aubree through our mutual friend Leigh of History is Gay fame. I got the honour of co-hosting an episode of this wonderfully nerdy podcast, like Aubree has done before me. Check the links below to find out all about this and all her other work.

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Flashback Track: Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now
Queer Artist Spotlight: Chastity Brown – Whisper
Best Live Experience: Corinne Bailey Rae – Closer
Recent Discovery: Andrea Gibson – I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out

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Êtes-Vous Zēga?

If you’re listening to this podcast, changes are that you’re zēga. This word used to be a stealthy way of asking a stranger in Ethiopia if they’re queer. It’s gotten less and less stealthy over the years though. Today’s guest Bahiru explains how there are several languages in Ethiopia, so there’s a lot of work yet to be done when it comes to finding the right vocabulary to describe all different queer identities.

Zēga is not the only way to pick queer people from a crowd. Amharic, one of the Ethiopian languages, has a formal form. The trick is to only use the formal form with queer people. Because us queers deserve to respect, am I right?

Furthermore in this episode: how do you deal with your problematic faves? Plenty of musicians have done shady things in the past. However, these same people help a ton in figuring out someone’s queer identity. Do the pro’s in this case outweigh the con’s? Bahiru would claim so.

CW: Self-harm, Queer death and Queerphobia.

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Flashback Track: Nigusuu Taammiraat – Haadhakoo
Queer Artist Spotlight: Prince – Kiss
Best Live Experience: Janelle Monáe – Pynk
Recent Discovery: Which Prophet – Teslay

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Diva in Academia

High academic expectations among Asian students might sound like a tired trope, but Best experienced it first-hand. As an only child she had to live with the pressure of passing on the family name and provide for that family by getting an appropriate college degree. After she came out it was a challenge to overcome these family focussed expectations. School was not really a problem though. She turned out to be a real Diva in academia.

Thankfully, she had pop music to cope. Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, and all the artists played in this episode help her feel empowered. Whether it’s her alarm in the morning or just sitting at home trying to relax, Best has a pop diva for every occasion. Now you may think this is an over the top episode, however, Best shows how versatile the past decades of pop divas have been.

On top of it all, activism also plays a big part in Bests life. Thailand, and Chiang Mai in particular have been facing some political hardships. Climate, political turmoil, queer rights, there’s always something to fight for. How do she copes with all of these issues, check out the episode and find out.

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Flashback Track: Whitney Houston – Greatest Love of All
Queer Artist Spotlight: Lady Gaga – Hair
Best Live Experience: Ariana Grande – Breathin
Recent Discovery: ETC – ไม่ต้องรู้ว่าเราคบกันแบบไหน (Mai Tong Ru Wa Rau Kop Gan Bep Nai)

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Let’s Vent About the Patriarchy

Lilith picked her name as a deliberate jab at the patriarchy. No matter where she goes, she still needs to deal this this shit. From a young age she already wondered why women do all the cooking while men sit on their asses and eat cookies. I know we’re preaching to the choir here, but sometimes you just have to get it out of your system. All together now: Fuck the Patriarchy.

Born and raised in Pakistan but currently living in Germany made Lilith think about what it means to be a refugee. She initially came to Europe to get her master’s degree, which would make her an expat to some. On the other hand, she also tried to escape from the political danger she’d put herself in by living as a queer woman in Pakistan, which would make her a refugee. The answer is simple: she is both an expat and a refugee.

There’s a lot of religious overtones in this episode. Like Festus in the last episode, even though Lilith isn’t a particularly religious person she still enjoys religious music. In this case: Qawwali. A religious type of music in the Sufi tradition. Let me know your thoughts on this special musical genre through the contact link below!

CW: Transphobia, Homophobia, Misogyny

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Flashback Track: Asha Bhosle – Piya Tu Ab to Aaja
Queer Artist Spotlight: Abida Parveen – Main Nara E Mastana
Best Live Experience: The Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men
Most Recent Discovery: Elif – Alles Helal

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Escapism When Everything is Political

Festus has got the talent to talk about serious issues without ever losing the smile on his face. After his political awakening he had to reflect on his life so far and reconsider every bit of media he consumed. Movies, music, tv shows, everything faced a higher standard. Whether we like it or not, everything is political, and we should treat it as such. However, when everything has such a heavy weight, it is important to keep a safe space where you can drop it all and just have a rest.

Enter Q initiative. Although it started as a way for activists to fight for rights and legal issues, Festus is considering taking it more towards a safe space for queer people. In different local communities Q is an environment where queer folks in rural Kenya can be creative and me themselves. Potentially they might also create a local scene of indie musicians in the process.

Once you’re done with your sexuality, then you’ll start with your gender. Or at least, that’s what they say. Unfortunately, most love songs are too heteronormative so they don’t offer a lot of help when it comes to figuring out any gender identity. However, sometimes that doesn’t matter. Sometimes you just got to let it be and figure it out along the way.

CW: Suicide, Homophobia, Misogyny, Queerphobia

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Flashback Track: Koffie Olomide – Andrada
Queer Artist Spotlight: Lil Nas X – Montero (Call me By Your Name)
Best Live Experience: Common – Glory feat. John Legend
Most Recent Discovery: Noel Nderitu – Your Name feat. Lisa Odour-Noah

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Digital Masks

Even though it’s not particularly gender affirming, Finch enjoys making their money though online sex work. Although different types of digital sex work bring different types of joy, it’s still a valid way of paying the bills. Hopefully, this episode will help destigmatise this brand of profession a little bit. Let’s get all doubts out of the way: when this podcast advocates for workers’ rights, that includes sex workers’ rights!

In order to cater to a possible audience when camming, Finch feels like they need to turn down the queerness and upscale the femininity. Where there are people who are going to objectify femme presenting people anyway, then they might as well pay for it right? What are your thoughts on the matter? Get it touch though the QueerSounds socials or the contact page on the website.

Camming comes with a more femme mask, during another of Finch’s favourite past times he wears a more masc mask. Larping might be closest to digital anonymity that’s available in the outside world. However, in Finch’s experience, it’s not nearly as toxic and horrible.

CW: misogyny, queerphobia, and a lot of sexual content

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Flashback Track: 3 Daft Moneys – Paranoid Big Brother
Queer Artist Spotlight: Zand – Boys Like U
Best Live Experience: Gaz Brookfield – Black Dog Day
Most Recent Discovery: Watsky – Grass is Greener

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KAOS GL, sweet Chaos

This was a difficult episode to edit. As Yildiz from KAOS GL shares the highs and lows of Queer life in Turkey, on one hand there were some detailed descriptions of the way people mistreat queer folks I decided to cut. On the other hand, their energy is so optimistic and fun it’s been an absolute delight to talk to them. Check out the content warnings below to see if this episode right for you.

KAOS GL is the oldest queer rights group in Turkey, founded in 1994. Their effort is only outdated by individuals who made it big and used their platform to advocate for queer rights. Now, there aren’t a lot of examples out there, but we’re gonna talk about one quite extensively.

As a little extra music recommendation from your trusty podcast host: Check out Gaye Su Akyol. Their combination of traditional Turkish music, film scores and Queer activism would have made her the perfect person to talk about on the show, but to be honest, it just kinda slipped my mind. In case this sounds like something you would enjoy, get in touch and let me know what you think!

CW: Queerphobia, Transphobia, Police violence, Self harm

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Flashback Track: Bülent Ersoy – Maazallah
Queer Artist Spotlight: Madonna – Material Girl
Best Live Experience: Vega – Iz Birakanlar Unutulmaz
Recent Discovery: Ankarali Yasemin – Motor Geliyor

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Cliché Arts Queer

Sarya was born in the United States. For a large part they grew up in Taiwan before they eventually moved to Edinburgh to go to uni there. In the meantime, they got to know a whole bunch of stereotypes. In the end they proudly became one. Spoken word, music, theatre, Sarya can do all the arts.

Let’s lean into our stereotypes, shall we? Sarya loved the arts and theatre and as a result they would regularly get cast into genderbending creative type roles. In hindsight though, it’s hard to tell how much of this was actually an act. We could spiral into how much of gender is performative but let’s leave that for another time. Are there any stereotypes you like to lean into? Reach out through the contact form below.

Performative or not, Sarya’s issues with femininity are real. Although they are pretty comfortable presenting femme of centre, the traditional idea of what “feminine” even is, is hard to shake. Especially in combination with their Asian heritage. Therefore, it’s all the more appropriate to end with a song in which they praise their mom, and sings about how cool, hot, and intimidating women can be.

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Flashback Track: John Denver – Take me Home, Country Roads
Queer Artist Spotlight: Tami T – Fourteen
Best Live Experience: múm – Slow Down
Episode Special: Sarya – Professional Woman

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Time and Place

Paulina Vo can tell you like no other how strongly the time and place can influence a person, including what music you listen to. Throughout her life she moved a lot and thus she experienced first-hand how the music she listens to has changed over the different locations and eras in her life.

While editing this show I noticed again how hesitant Paulina was talking about her queer experience. Of course, not everyone is as vocal about their own queerness. But then I noticed how much the conversation fired up when talking about race. In hindsight, I think some questions were left unanswered about whether she feels the need to choose between her queer identity or her Asian identity. I guess there’s a time and place for all those unanswered questions too.

Without reading into it too much, there might be parallels with her musical preferences. When she lived in a white environment she had to deal with some nasty remarks. Both because she’s Asian and because she listens to hip-hop. Now, where one is breaking out in an activist manner, Paulina pushes the other ever so slightly into the background. Is she conditioned to downplay her love for hip-hop? Am I reading too much into it? Let me know though the contact form below.

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Flashback Track: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – The Crossroads
Queer Artist Spotlight: The Japanese House – Something has to Change
Best Live Experience: Phoenix – Lasso
Recent Discovery: Chika – Cinderella pt. 2

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Couple Reads from Diary and Laughs about it

When a band consists of a couple, people usually expect things to go south, but Hey, King! is here to prove them wrong. They just released a wonderfully queer album which covers deeply personal subjects. This includes the meta subject of a couple being in a band together.

The band consists of Natalie and Taylor who, as far as I got to know them, show that having a healthy relationship comes with being open and honest with each other. However, they’re not here to give relationship advice. Instead, they’ll sit us down and have us listen to pages from their diary. This brand of honesty does not just apply to their relationship, but more often than not it also forms the base for their lyrics. Throw in a tongue-in-cheek approach to these serious matters and a love for the French horn and you’ll get Hey, King!

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Flashback Track: Tori Amos – Take to the Sky
Queer Artist Spotlight: Tegan & Sara – Walking with a Ghost
Best Live Experience: The Front Bottoms – Twin Size Mattress
Episode Special: Hey, King! – Sorry

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