This is Dustin Calhoun, and welcome to Episode 14 of Cock Tales Over Cocktails. I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t sure whether to release an episode this week as we’d planned to do. It feels wrong to be funny and sassy and sexy so soon after so many of our people were murdered for daring to be queer and happy in public. I’ve been kind of a wreck all week. While I have no personal connection to Pulse or to the people attacked there, that night I was out dancing in a gay bar, at a Pride celebration in DC. I was with my friend Viktor, of whom I speak in this episode, and we were enjoying feeling safe and free and strong in the wee hours of the morning. We sat over breakfast the next day in silence, staring at our phones and at the television just like the rest of the world.
It would feel more wrong to be silent, however. Chuck and I talk a lot in this show about making conscious choices, and “be safe but have fun” has obviously become our catchphrase. What we mean by those is that we each must make a decision for ourselves how to strike the balance between the risk of being actively queer and the reward of being our authentic selves. As queer people, we are always at risk of abuse, of attack, of discrimination, and even of death. We also have no choice, if we want to live full and honest lives in which our queerness empowers us rather than constrains us, but to face those risks. I don’t mean accept those risks, but I do mean to be aware of them when we go out into the world as the people we are rather than as someone less authentic, less open, and less subject to harm. Maybe talking about that risk is a bit of a buzzkill at the start of a podcast we make to entertain and educate rather than to inspire – but maybe that risk is also a part of what drives the passion we as queer people so often exhibit: passion for living, and for each other. When we are threatened, we throw ourselves into one another’s arms to find companionship and strength and love and escape. When we find each other, we make each other stronger.
What happened in Orlando proves queer people have not won: we have not won equality, we have not won our own safety, we have not won the simple right to go to one of our spaces, created for us, and dance the night away. Hope requires we keep trying, though. Our future is our own to make, and if we want it to be one in which we are open and loved and loving and joyous, we have to be the ones to build that future by the things we do now, and drag everybody else along with us. So I say we laugh. I say we have fun. I say we dish, and fuck, and have a drink, and poke fun at a world that sometimes hates us, and dance the fucking night away. I also say we organize. I say we volunteer, we lobby, we protest, we educate ourselves and others, we reach out, we demand equality and protections and changes to gun policies and to be heard and seen and respected.
It’s possible you’re one of the straight listeners to this podcast and you feel excluded when I talk of queers, or you think I mean only homosexuals, or only gay men. I don’t at all. “Queer” is a big word, with room in it for everyone. Trust me, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re already queer, even if you identify as a straight ciswoman listening out of purely academic curiosity. When you decided to put into your brain these slivers of the lives of two gay guys obsessed with dick, you became at least a little queer. It’s that simple. You’re one of us now. Welcome to the party.
This episode is a largely unedited recording of a live, in-person panel Chuck and I did at a science fiction and fantasy convention a few weeks ago. We were both very nervous about doing this – nervous no one would show up, nervous too many people would show up, nervous we would be heckled by haters, nervous we would be making targets of ourselves in some way. It was scary starting this podcast in the first place: it was an order of magnitude more frightening to sit down in public where people could see our faces and be in the room with us and expect us still to be Dustin and Chuck. I am incredibly pleased to say it was a wonderful experience and I am so glad we did it. Many thanks to Chaim, Katja, and Jordan, all of whom were there in the audience, and to the other listeners who came to the panel (I don’t want to name you in case you, you know, don’t want to be named – but it was so wonderful meeting you!). The panel involved a set of risks Chuck and I talked about in advance and ultimately agreed were worth the potential reward. It paid off. In fact, the risk factor became what fueled my determination to see it through. How else could I best those fears if I didn’t face them?
That’s something we all have to ask ourselves. The answers are different for each of us, too, and there are no wrong answers. Be the people you want to be, as much as you can.
Be safe, but, for the sakes of the countless of our brothers and sisters who suffer for queerness every day, some to the point of death, for fuck’s sake, please also have fun.
Video: Tea Consent
Music: To Be Scared by fourstones (c) 2008 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/victor/17229 Ft: Kristin Hersh, colab