Hear, Queers: QueerWOC podcast on making space for Black lesbians and queer women

Queer podcasts, which have long been a source of education and connection, have become even more imperative as we’ve spent less time together in person. The folks who host our podcasts feel like—and are—some of our best friends and when we get caught up on all the episodes of a podcast, it hurts just as much as when we finish a favorite book. So, to help keep you connected, educated, and reminded of how great queer people are, we’re launching a new column called Hear, Queers where we talk to the folks behind some of our favorite podcasts about their projects and why they do them. Today, we talk to the team behind QueerWOC podcast about their beautiful and heartfelt podcast.

Listening to the QueerWOC podcast sometimes feels like sitting around the kitchen table with good friends, getting into the challenges queer people—and Black queer women in particular—live with. Originally started as a Tumblr blog, QueerWOC has kept that grassroots, independent feel and mission alive as a podcast. Not only do listeners get to hear from two actual besties, but we’re also hearing from a licensed mental health practitioner and professor, Money, and an organizer with over a decade of experience, Nikeeta.

Both hosts bring their expertise as professionals and as Black lesbians to the podcast, infusing it with the kind of warmth and realness that makes QueerWOC completely irresistible. Furthermore, the show aims to resist capitalistic, white supremacist notions of meaning making, instead inviting listeners to slow dow and think critically about what you want your life to be—and how you can heal yourself in a world uninterested in your healing. The podcast is built with Black lesbian and queer women in mind and creates space for those constantly pushed to the margins to be centered, valued, and supported. In their words, “We owe it to our peers and the baby gays after us to be visible too—especially as Black queers. We have to overtly place ourselves into existence so they know they, too, can live. We are possible because others before us claimed their queerness, so we’re just out here continuing that legacy.”

Read on to hear directly from Money and Nikeeta about QueerWOC podcast and why you should be tuning in.

Bella Media Channel: Why did you start Queer WOC podcast?

QWOC: I had this blog on Tumblr by the same name that I started in 2011 to have a hub for all women of color who identified as queer. At that time there was no landing space for non-white queer women on Tumblr. I mean, you would search “Black lesbian” and black and photos of white lesbians would populate!

So back then, QueerWOC became that space. Soon, the page was getting so many submissions that as a full-time grad student I just couldn’t keep up with answering all of them. I foolishly thought podcasting would be a quicker way to respond to the growing community than blogging on Tumblr. It is NOT! Podcasting takes so much time. But it has also made the community tangible in ways that the page didn’t. QueerWOC found a whole new life when me and Nikeeta started recording. There’s something about an audio platform that spurs folks to respond. 

Bella: What inspiration do you draw from for QueerWOC pod? What queer media or projects have influenced you as a creator?

QWOC: Oh wow where to even begin! First, we would be totally remiss if we didn’t shout out our Podcast Baddie Brigade: Marsha’s Plate, Bag Ladiez, Inner Hoe Uprising, and Tea with Queen and J.  We have really learned so much from our Black Baddie Brigade and continue to be inspired and influenced by them. Outside of that group, we draw inspiration from queer folks past and present who have made the world a little more bearable for us to exist in through their political work, art, music, and existence. Stormé DeLarverie felt like a guiding spirit for us in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion which she was a part of.

Bella: What do you think QueerWOC is doing that no one else is?

QWOC: I mean where else can you go to listen and hear from a licensed queer Black feminist therapist talk all things mental health, get a rundown of the history of the labor movement and socialism (and why this matters to queer people of color), the woes and wins of modern dating, and why Megan Thee Stallion is a SUPREME baddie—all in one place!

There’s a number of podcasts where you can hear about these topics individually or maybe two, but it’s rare to have a one stop shop. We bring together fun, rigor, principles, and QPOC culture all in one place! We’re also actually friends which I think plays a huge role in why people continue to listen to us. We learn from and challenge each other—on and off mic—around these topics in ways that only good friends do. 

Bella: What’s your favorite part of doing QueerWOC?

QWOC: The best things about QueerWOC is being able to do this show with one of my nearest and dearest best friends in the entire world. We are best friends in real life so the completely and utterly ridiculous banterer, the chemistry, and the love we have for one another I think really comes through the mic and dare I say it’s infectious! This brings me to the other fantastic part of QueerWOC. One of the things I never ever get tired of hearing from our listeners is how much they enjoy being part of our community and how much they appreciate the both of us. It feels so special to build that kind of community and connection with people literally all across the world. People often tell us the podcast gives them the feel of listening in on a conversation between friends. That means so much to us.

Bella: How do you maintain the balance of focuses on your podcast? You discuss mental health and pop culture, celebrate Black activists, advocates, voices, and give meaningful advice on how to survive the pandemic and life in general. However, there’s never too much of any one thing.

QWOC: It does not feel difficult to balance all of these different pieces and facets of the show because these are real pieces of both of us reflected in the show. The great Black lesbian feminist poet Audre Lorde wrote that we don’t live single-issue lives and that feels like the best way to describe and explain how and why we bring all of these different pieces to the show. Money and I can be on the phone in our own personal time and we will have covered a whole range of topics and more because this is just how and who we are and for us this is just the reality of what it means to be Black lesbian left-wing feminists.

Bella: QueerWOC is so accessible and thoughtful and makes people slow down and think about what they’re doing in their lives. Why is that important to you?

QWOC: Everything about our society, and the political economy of capitalism in particular, always wants us to be constantly moving and doing—and very quickly! The internet and social media are awash in hot takes and quick takes, but for QueerWOC we think it’s really important and meaningful to try and do deep dives, instead of the easiest, quickest surface level read available.

Both of us strongly believe that the values, ideas, and principles that are important to us and our communities deserve rigor, care, respect, and time. We both also had awful experiences as Black lesbians in graduate programs. The academy is designed to deliberately lock folks out of access to knowledge and continuously reify itself as the only source of knowledge. It’s important to both of us to say “f*ck that!” Classrooms are everywhere if you slow down long enough to notice them.

Bella: Why do you think projects that are specifically, intentionally, and overtly queer matter so much?

QWOC: Alexis Pauline Gumbs has this phrase that we both love in her essay “The Shape of My Impact,” she writes “flagrantly alive in the sight of our ancestors.” We are very aware of all of the queer folks of color who fought, lived, and died for us to be here. We owe it to them to be intentionally queer and name ourselves such.

I’m gonna riff off of Cheryl Clarke here and say we are intentional about queerness because this culture silences, oppresses, and destroys queer folks—even those who do not call themselves queer. Queer folks have been made to feel like we’re failing at heteronormativity. By calling ourselves Black, Lesbian, Queer, we are saying that we are not failing at heteronormativity, we are destroying it! And we owe it to our peers and the baby gays after us to be visible too—especially as Black queers. We have to overtly place ourselves into existence so they know they, too, can live. We are possible because others before us claimed their queerness, so we’re just out here continuing that legacy. 

Bella: How is Queer WOC funded?

QWOC: We are completely independent and grassroots so we are funded by our community! If y’all would like to help sustain us, you can contribute to QueerWOC via CashApp: $QueerWOCPod or become a Patron.  

Love us out loud by doing The R’s: Rate, Review, Request, Repost, Retweet, and Reply! And, use the hashtag #QueerWOC to talk all things the podcast

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