Alcohol-Free Queer Spaces | Pride Project

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. At the end of this post, I will be leaving the same three Instagram links to black queer and trans organizations as I did in the last video, please check them out and support a few of them if you can. If you can’t, at least share them.

As you know from the title, I want to talk about alcohol-free queer spaces, also called sober spaces. This can be a range of things, but at the core, it means a space where alcohol isn’t present. Here, I’m talking more about social spaces. Of course, there are businesses that don’t serve alcohol, but they’re not places where you can go in and just hang out. When you ask around for where you can go to find other queer and trans people to meet, the usual immediate answer will be some kind of bar, and tends to cater toward cis gay men. That isn’t ideal for a lot of people – those who don’t feel comfortable in a gay male-dominated environment, those who are sober or in recovery, those who simply don’t like the overstimulating environment of a bar, those who aren’t of legal age, those who just don’t want to drink.

Gay bars have long been important to the queer community, as a space for socializing, organizing, protesting. The problem is that this kind of place isn’t ideal for a lot of people, especially in a community that has increased risk of addiction and substance abuse issues. There are a lot of options, but not nearly enough in my opinion. There’s bookstores like I mentioned in a previous post, but they’re not always places you can just roll up to and hang out in without buying anything. There are LGBTQ+ centers, but they’re not always comfortable places or conducive to socializing.

I’ll be linking an article from them, the media/news company, that talks about this and lists several options for sober queer spaces all over the country. One of the quotes I want to say here is from Bauman, the co-founder of Cuties, a coffeeshop in Los Angeles.

“You don’t have to be sober to want sober spaces… The more spaces we have that are not centered around an activity, that you don’t have to give a reason for being there, that’s a revolutionary thing.”

Virginia Bauman

I absolutely agree with this statement, and this was a big reason why I founded the Deaf Queer Social in Seattle. Obviously, it’s on hold now because of the pandemic. When I founded it, from the start I knew I did *not* want to host it at bars or any spaces that have alcohol as a main focus. I wanted it to be an accessible space, in more ways than one. I wanted to make sure all ages were able to attend, families could bring their children, the older generation could feel comfortable there where they’d feel out of place in a bar or club. Bars or clubs tend to be very dark or dim spaces, which is an accessibility issue for Deaf and DeafBlind people. I wanted to make sure that it would be affordable, bars and nightclubs can get expensive very fast. So far, all of the locations I’ve hosted the Deaf Queer Social at have been coffee places open until 8 or 10pm. When we are able to gather again, I plan to have some meet-ups at parks or outdoor spaces, or do other social activities that are cheap or free. I also host it a little earlier in the day than many other social events, like Deaf Night Out. DNO tends to start at 6 or 7pm, but people tend to not show up until 8pm or later. With DQS, I start it at 5pm, end at 8pm, and it’s been on Friday evenings. This way, people can easily choose to go home and relax or go to other, later events.

Going back to sober queer spaces in general, we need more spaces to just be. Queer spaces that aren’t nightlife venues often have a harder time sustaining their business, compared to nightlife venues. Bars do have a big role, and I think they are important to have. I just would like to see more options that don’t involve alcohol.

That is a good place to stop. Please let me know what your thoughts are, and if you know of any sober queer spaces in your area! This can be an event, gathering, or something else, it doesn’t have to be a physical location. 

If you want to support me, there are links below. But if you do, please also support black businesses and organizations. Thank you to my current Patrons! Subscribe for more, follow my socials for updates. Thanks for reading, see you soon.

Black queer and trans organizations to support
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBDoiY5BisQ/
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBOULwrBFg4/
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBTVJ33hTDD/

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Outing and Stealth | Pride Project

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. The links I will be leaving today are to three Instagram posts of black queer and trans organizations to support. Check them out, they’re very varied!

Today, I want to talk about outing and stealth. Of course, this is in the context of the queer community. This is more of a 101 knowledge thing, I haven’t really seen this in ASL so that’s why I’m making this.

Outing is when someone discloses a person’s sexual orientation or gender without their consent. This is an issue of privacy, choice, and it can be very harmful to that person. People who get outed against their will can lose their jobs, be rejected by their social circle, disowned by their family. Of course, there has been ongoing debate over outing public figures. There is a history of celebrities, politicians, and the elite being forced out of the closet. This was often done under the idea that it was necessary for all queer people to be out of the closet to show people we’re everywhere. The problem with that is many people are in an unsafe environment, maybe with family who will immediately kick them out onto the streets, they could lose their living, and so on. 

Outing has often been done with harmful intent and aiming to damage a person’s reputation, but there have been some cases where it was considered appropriate. An example would be of queer politicians who are actively working against LGBT rights. In 2006, a Congressman said, “I think there’s a right to privacy. But the right to privacy should not be a right to hypocrisy. And people who want to demonize other people shouldn’t then be able to go home and close the door and do it themselves.” There are arguments for outing and against outing, in what context it’s appropriate and when it’s not. Either way, outing in general is frowned upon in the queer community if it’s a person who is just trying to live their life. And outing can be very harmful, regardless of whether it’s true or not. Trans and queer people get killed over this. People use the “panic” defense to justify killing someone they didn’t know was trans or queer. Outing someone exposes them to more potential harm, physical or mental.

Now, let’s talk about stealth and what that means in relation to the queer community. Disclaimer first. There is debate over the use of the terms stealth and passing, which I will explain. I’m making this because it’s terminology people need to know because it is still used in the queer community. Stealth is essentially when a trans person decides that they want to live their lives as their gender, and not have anyone in their life know that they’re trans. They choose to hide their past, don’t easily tell others about the fact that they’re trans. This usually happens when someone is “passing” as the gender they are. Passing means that someone is seen as the gender they are, rather than the gender they were assigned at birth. The problem with the term passing, as said by trans writer Janet Mock, the term is “based on an assumption that trans people are passing as something that we are not” and that a trans woman who is perceived as a woman “isn’t passing; she is merely being.” GLAAD has also said it’s inappropriate for the mainstream media to use this term unless it’s a direct quote. There are people who dislike both terms, stealth and passing, because they can imply trans people are being dishonest about who they are and engaging in deception.

There are many reasons why someone would choose to not be visibly trans. They may not want to deal with all of the intrusive questions trans people inevitably get about their genitals. They want to simply live their lives and don’t feel a need to be a loud and visible part of the queer community. They live in a region where it’s dangerous or illegal to be out as a trans person. They experience less prejudice and discrimination if they’re not openly trans. They don’t want to remember the part of their lives before their transition, because it’s too traumatic. They may be comfortable being openly trans with their friends, but not at work or in professional environments because of discrimination. Side note – yes, it’s great news that SCOTUS ruled that employees can’t be fired for being queer, but there will be people who choose to stay hidden at work because the workplace itself might be not safe and will find other reasons to fire them.

I know this barely touches on all of the things that could be discussed about both outing and being stealth. I haven’t even talked that much about the history of outing and how it came to be a big thing. Like I said earlier, this is just a 101, introductory video. These are *very* complex things. If you have any questions or want to know more, let me know in the comments. Also do your own research! That will be all for today.

If you want to support me, there are links below. But if you do, please also support black businesses and organizations. Thank you to my current Patrons! Subscribe for more, follow my socials for updates. Thanks for reading, see you soon.

Black queer and trans organizations to support
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBDoiY5BisQ/
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBOULwrBFg4/
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBTVJ33hTDD/

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Queer Bookstores | Pride Project

Note: This is mostly just a list of books from this link, I just make some extra comments.

Hello I’m Rogan, and welcome! Today, the links I will be leaving in the description will be for queer and/or black bookstores you can buy from. There is a call to show the power of black publishing, between the 14th and 20th so if you were planning on ordering something, do it soon!

Today, I want to talk queer books and bookstores. There are a lot more bookstores that have a focus or a big queer lit section than you think! I’ll be focusing on ones in the US, but I will leave a link that lists a few international ones. This list isn’t necessarily bookstores that sell *only* queer books, some of them are simply big sellers of queer literature. I’ll mostly just list them, and if I know a bit more about some of them, I’ll add to it.

Antigone Books in Tuscon, Arizona. Dog Eared Books, San Francisco. Otherwild, Los Angeles. Skylight Books, Los Angeles. Lavender Library, Sacramento. This one is more of an actual library, with archives of queer history and culture. Colorado based stores – Word is Out, online only. Boulder Book Store, Boulder.

All of the following are in DC: Kramerbooks & Afterwords, Busboys & Poets Books, Second Story Books, Solid State Books. I’ve actually been to Kramer, and it’s a cool place! There are two different entrances, one for the bookstore and one for the cafe. They’re actually opposite sides of a weird triangular street, and could be mistaken for two separate stores. Delicious food too. Okay moving on.

Charis Books, Atlanta. Unabridged Books, and Women & Children First, both in Chicago. Quill Books & Beverage, Westbrook, Maine. Two in Baltimore, Maryland – Atomic Books and Red Emma’s. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, there’s Books and Mortar. Missouri has Peace Nook, Columbia and Left Bank Books, St. Louis. There’s Violet Valley Bookstore in Water Valley, Mississippi.

Here’s a whole list of New York bookstores: Rust Belt Books, Buffalo. The rest are in New York City. Bureau of General Services – Queer Division @ The LGBT Center, Bluestockings, Quimby’s Bookstore, Strand Books, and Three Lives & Company.

Malaprop’s Bookstore, Asheville, North Carolina. In Portland, Oregon, there’s Another Read Through, and of course, Powell’s. I’ve been there multiple times now, they have a gorgeous and massive queer section. In Pennsylvania, there’s Giovanni’s Room/Philly AIDS Thrift and Wooden Shoe Books, Philadelphia and Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, State College. Rhode Island has Books on the Square in Providence. Texas has two in Austin, Book People and BookWoman, and one in Dallas, Deep Vellum Books. There’s King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah and Everyone’s Books in Brattleboro, Vermont. Wisconsin has A Room of One’s Own in Madison, and Outwords Books in Milwaukee.

Of course, I had to finish this list with my home state, Washington! All of these are in Seattle, and I’ve visited them of course. Elliott Bay Book Company is the one I’ve gone to the most often, with my best friend, and that’s in Capitol Hill. Third Place Books actually has three locations, and I’ve been to two of them. And then there’s Left Bank Books on Pike.

That’s it for today. Now is a time to support your independent bookstore more than ever, so see if they have the option to order online or pick up! You can also order through bookshop.org and you can choose to have your money go to a pool or pick a specific bookstore you want to support. Also, this is a great time to buy that book by a black author, or books to unpack your white privilege, so do it!

Today, order two books from black authors to support them. Thank you to my current Patrons. Subscribe and follow my socials to stay updated with me. Thanks for reading, see you soon.

Whole list: https://queerhistory.com/queer-booksellers
List of Black-owned bookstores: https://www.queermall.online/resources
Some Black LGBTQ+ book recs: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBRba8VjcWN/
Aidan Wharton has several lists of Black queer and trans organizations: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBDoiY5BisQ/

Queer Signs in Other Countries | Pride Project

Note: This transcript has been edited to explain some of the signs, but I would suggest watching the video to get the full picture.

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome! This is your reminder to do what you can to support the Black Lives Matter movement, whether that be donating, protesting, having hard conversations with your white family and friends. This isn’t an US-only issue, it’s global as well so international people are not exempt from this.

Today, we’ll be talking about signs for queer terms from other countries. First, before you get all excited, I won’t actually be showing you a list per se. This is more of a discussion and my thoughts on certain signs, what concepts they can convey to people. The queer community obviously has always been there, all over the world. From my small exposure of international life when I studied abroad in Denmark, it seems like it hasn’t been as visible as it has in the US. In part because comparatively, it’s much larger and louder in the US. That definitely has influenced how signs for queer terms have developed.

Of course, there will be bias in this, since I’m US-born and don’t have an exhaustive knowledge of queer signs all over the world. I will discuss what I do know, and I want to emphasize that this is not saying that they should/shouldn’t be using those signs. It’s not my language after all. I just want to give people some things to think about, in relation to their own signs, from an outside perspective. If I happen to talk about a sign you use, please let me know what your thoughts are. I want different perspectives! Also, I will link to my video of ASL queer signs if you want some comparison. Okay, with that long introduction and disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started.

Many countries will do some variation on the rainbow sign to represent LGBTQ+ or queer, including the US. [shows a few variations that are similar to the sign for “rainbow”] All good there! Now let’s look at more specific signs.

Gay and lesbian. The US tends to prefer spelling gay, but signs lesbian with a L, the index finger tapping the chin. The international sign for gay is a dominant hand thumbs up on your non-dominant palm, twisting your wrist. Lesbian is the same, but with a L handshape. A few countries will sign gay this way, like the handshape and motion for duck, but grasping the earlobe. Very interesting, I suspect this comes from the old idea that if you wore an earring in a specific ear, that meant you were saying you’re gay. It wasn’t really a thing in the queer community, so it was probably a weird straight rumor. Anyway. Several use a similar sign for lesbian as the US. I’ve seen some signs that I do not like and won’t repeat here, because they’re… Let’s say they’re a little risqué. They’re focused on what they *do,* rather than who they are. [makes a face]

For bi, I’ve seen a lot will simply spell bi because it’s only two letters. But I’ve also seen many that rely on the mistaken concept of binary. Examples: Non-dominant signing two, while the dominant hand signs switching between the two. B-handshapes touching the chest and alternating motions away. I’ve even seen this, [B-straight I]. Absolutely not. We’re not Straight Lite. Or is that Gay Lite? *shrugs*

Trans. This is the one I have the most…issues with. In the US, everyone uses the “beautiful” on the chest. I have a video on this. I actually don’t recall the international sign for this, it might be the one that the US uses. I know some countries are starting to adopt this sign as well, because what they are currently using is a little problematic. LSF, Langue des Signes Française, signs it like: V-handshape with one finger touching the chest, flipping so the other finger touches the chest. I can’t recall which country this is from, but I’ve seen one like the LSF version, but the V handshape is horizontal and twists up or down. The way you go depends on if they’re MTF or FTM, which is kind of gross. All of those are problematic because they focus on the concept of “changing from one sex to another” rather than gender being an intrinsic thing. It also perpetuates the binary idea and that you have to have had a surgery to be considered fully trans. That sign doesn’t really consider nonbinary people and people who don’t consider themself a binary trans person. There are many trans people who have no interest in having any type of surgery. That is still valid.

I found a video from 2017 of a person explaining the major queer signs in LSM, Lengua de Señas Mexicana. Focusing on trans specifically, LSM uses this sign as an umbrella, both hands in T-handshape twisting together like signing change. Again, this focuses on the “changing” part which is not accurate. The transitioning process is simply bringing their body into alignment with how they view themselves. And that’s only if they actually transition! This person also talks about other terms which are outdated in English, and a little cringey for me to watch because they’re explained in such a biological view. The signs kept being like “man become woman,” “woman with mind of a man,” and so on. Ugh, that’s—no. Again, like I said before, this is not my language, and it’s not my place to say people shouldn’t be using this at all. However, I beg people to consider the impact that the signs can have on trans people in their own community. In my view, this can be extremely harmful to them. Just think about your choice of signs and what they *mean.*

Like in ASL, many of the other less common terms in the mainstream don’t have signs yet. The last word I want to briefly mention is intersex. ASL does have a sign: starting with I-handshape touching the forehead, moving down to touch the chest and it changes into a X before touching. And this was created by a deaf intersex person. I’m not a big fan of it, just because it doesn’t really convey the concept to me, and relies on the English. Now, the sign in LSF is one that I actually kind of like, and it’s very conceptually clear. It starts with two open hands touching each shoulder, then they slide in together, closing in and finish in the center, completely closed. Essentially, two sexes in one body. This is a situation where biology comes in, because this is an identity term yes, but it’s also a scientific term. [LSF intersex] shows the binary, but also shows it’s a range of a kind. This, to me, shows the concept of being intersex very clearly without relying on English letters. Of course, if you disagree, please let me know. I’d love your perspective on this, especially since I’m not intersex myself.

I’m sure I’m leaving some things out that I haven’t thought of, but I’ll add them in the pinned comment on YouTube if there’s more. I will leave links to the videos I mentioned for LSF and LSM at the end of this post, but just be aware they’re both in those languages. The LSF one has French subtitles, while the LSM one has none at all. And that’s all I have for this video. Let me know what your thoughts are on, if you know queer signs in other languages and what you think of them, and so on.

There are links below to support black businesses and organizations, be sure to check them out. Thank you to my current Patrons. Subscribe for more videos and follow on my socials for updates. Thanks for reading, see you soon.

LSF Queer Signs: https://youtu.be/rfHyYpNpy70
LSM Queer Signs: https://youtu.be/jN9wwlIRkDQ
Queer Signs in ASL: https://youtu.be/tg6NYev-xp8

Please let me know if there’s anything you feel should be added to the list below. Thank you!

Most Googled: Bisexual | Pride Project

Note: this is a very lightly edited transcript of what I say, so many of the odd pauses are due to me reading/looking at my phone.

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. Black Lives Matter. Donate, protest, have conversations. Do whatever you can. I have links that can help you get started at the end of this post.

Today is a video I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but was never really sure how to do. I’m still not, but we’re just doing it. This is the most googled questions about bisexuality. I will just be googling the words and seeing what comes up, and react to that. I have a list of search terms that I created beforehand, so we’ll see what happens.

So, first and obvious to start with – bisexual. Bi flag, pride flag, all the standard expectations that you would see from “bisexual.” *chuckles* Bisexual haircut. Let’s see what that is. Oh yeah! Yeah, the bob cut. For some reason, a lot of bi women have that. It’s hilarious.

Okay, bisexual versus pansexual. That is… A lot of people have… Differing opinions on what this is. For me, I… It means the same thing for me. I tend to prefer bi, just because I like the definition of that better. They are really similar. A lot of people have the misconception that bi means men and women, that’s it. Really, it’s not. Yes, bi means two. But when has English ever actually followed language? Let me back up a little bit. I want to be clear that bisexual has never really meant attraction to only men and women. In 1990, the Bisexual Manifesto specifically has a definition saying no, we don’t focus on men and women only. We understand that that’s a spectrum, and we have attraction to that spectrum.

Bisexual Manifesto: We are tired of being analyzed, defined and represented by people other than ourselves, or worse yet, not considered at all. We are frustrated by the imposed isolation and invisibility that comes from being told or expected to choose either a homosexual or heterosexual identity. Monosexuality is a heterosexist dictate used to oppress homosexuals and to negate the validity of bisexuality. Bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity. Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have “two” sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders. Do not mistake our fluidity for confusion, irresponsibility, or an inability to commit. Do not equate promiscuity, infidelity, or unsafe sexual behavior with bisexuality. Those are human traits that cross all sexual orientations. Nothing should be assumed about anyone’s sexuality, including your own. We are angered by those who refuse to accept our existence; our issues; our contributions; our alliances; our voice. It is time for the bisexual voice to be heard.

But I use this definition: Bi is attraction to more than one gender. Period. More than one gender. Not necessarily this and this. No, just attraction to more than one. While pansexual, most people tend to use that as attraction to all genders. That’s the usual definition of pan. Which is fine. Nothing wrong with that. But for me, the reason why I prefer bi–Attraction to all genders. Well, that’s… A lot. You can’t really know that, so… I don’t know, just my personal thing. I like bi better. But if you prefer pan, nothing against that! Really. Use whatever label you feel comfortable with.

Okay! Next word, bisexuality. I just explained bisexuality vs pansexuality, the definition, spectrum. Permit? I think I’ve seen this before. Bisexuality permit. I think it’s like a card, yeah! Ha ha ha.

Okay, I’m going to go ahead and jump to the next search term that I put on my list. Are bisexual and pansexual the same thing? For some people, yes. Some people, no.

The next term I have is… Is bisexual… Woody from Toy Story bisexual? I don’t see why not. I mean. Yeah. Is bisexual part of Pride month? [gestures to self and video]

Already answered that. Umbrella, okay. Is bisexual an umbrella term. I guess it could be?

Is bisexual outdated? No. It’s not. Living bisexual right here!

And! Is bisexual binary? Like I just explained, no. Not really. Yes, there are bisexuals who are attracted to just men and women. Yes. But most of the time, we don’t really believe in that definition.

The last thing, is bisexual the same thing as fluid? No. And yes. It depends on the person. I know many bi people have… Experience changes in levels of attraction. Like, some people may currently be more attracted to feminine people. But a few years later, it shifts to be attracted to masculine people. Fluid and changing over their lifetime. Some people don’t, and stay the same all the way. So it can be fluid, it can be.

Next term! [mouthing: do bisexual…] *drops phone* Do bisexual relationships last? This follows the stereotype that bisexual people are promiscuous, aren’t committed… That’s all… BS, okay? Bisexual relationships are like any other relationship. They may last for fifty years. They may last for a month. They’re not more or less stable than hetero relationships, gay relationships, any other kind of romantic relationship. So… Yes and no. Again.

*grimace-grins* Let’s move onto the next word. Have I always been bisexual? Maybe.

Oh, I love that they’re asking how to have a bisexual relationship. It’s like any other relationship. It all depends on what kind of relationship you want, what kind of relationship the bi person wants.

*laughing* Why do I have bisexual feelings? Maybe because you’re bi!

That’s really interesting that there’s a question saying how to have a relationship with a bisexual man? Specifically, a man. I wonder if it’s because there is a stigma in the queer community, really, that bi men are just on their way to identifying as fully gay. Not true. Yeah, there–yes. There are people who will do that, because they’re afraid to take that big step. Which is fine, but people have to understand that there are bi men who are not gay. They are still attracted to women, or other genders. And… Sexuality is fluid. Maybe you–I know some people have, full speed ahead, I’m gay, full stop. Later on, they realize that oh, no, actually I’m bi, because they still have attraction to other genders. They just realized that they had feelings for this thing, and thought that was the right thing, but no it’s actually all of this as well. So… Can people please stop thinking that bi people are faking it? Please?

Let’s try the past tense of that. Had a dream I was bisexual. Maybe because ♪ you are! ♪

And I believe we are finished. For now. That was…interesting. It’s interesting to see what people are searching for in relation to bisexuality. I hope you learned some things from what I said. And enjoyed this, some funny things that came up, and some… Questionable things. Anyway.

I don’t know what more to add to this. Just want to say, if you feel like, hmm, I’m bisexual. You are valid. I know, it’s annoying, a lot of people will question your identity, and say oh, but what are you really attracted to? They may even ask, Okay fine, you’re attracted to men and women. And they’ll ask you what you’re more attracted to. That’s a dangerous question. For example, me as a masculine-presenting person. I say I’m bi, and they ask me which I’m more attracted to. If I say I’m leaning more toward attraction to women, people will go, oh, you’re really straight, you just want to experiment. Or if I answer the other way, and say I’m more attracted to men, they’ll say oh, you’re really gay, you’re just not ready to fully accept that identity. Both are wrong. When people ask me that question, what I’m more attracted to… To a complete stranger, I will say no, why is that important to you? I label myself as bi. I am bi. Regardless of what I lean toward.

And I think that’s a good place to stop. Leave in the comments if you have any questions, or you’re curious about whatever. I will answer them. Maybe. Thanks for watching, see you soon.

Please let me know if there’s anything you feel should be added to the list below. Thank you!

Pride Project

Hello, I’m Rogan and it’s Pride month! This is for all of us, those who are openly out and those who are still in the closet for whatever reason. You are still valid. You are queer, regardless of your status. If you feel you are queer, you are queer. Don’t let others tell you how you identify. They don’t know you as well as you know yourself.

What is this project? I originally planned on posting a video every other day of Pride month. With hashtag BlackLivesMatter needing all of the focus to be on them and the protests, I decided to delay the start of this project and shifted around the schedule so I wasn’t taking up space with my white voice about something unrelated. Now, it’s not exactly every other day, but you still get a whole bunch of queer videos.

It’s a bummer that there won’t be any Pride events this summer, but pride can’t be canceled if it lives in us every day. Just by being queer and visible, we tell others that we’re proud and loud, queer and here to stay. Now it’s time for your annual reminder that while Pride is a time to celebrate our queerness, it started as a march. It started as a way to remember and honor the Stonewall riots that happened in 1969. Remember that it has always been trans black women who demanded change. Remember that we still have a long way to go as a community. Queer white people are not exempt from racism just because we’re queer. Queer white people still benefit from white privilege. Yes, that includes white disabled and deaf people too, I’m looking at you. We have work to do. I will leave some links below about being anti-racist, how to unpack, and so on.

One way to start is supporting queer businesses and organizations, especially those run by marginalized communities. Buy queer, buy black, put your money where your communities are. Don’t give all of your money to corporations who are most likely just slapping rainbows onto their usual merch and not actually having any of those monies going to the queer or BIPOC community. Do your research first. I’ll leave a few links below to some businesses, organizations, and a few lists. I donated to some of these organizations as well.

Last year, I gave a few stats on queer rights nationally in the US. Here they are again, updated. 29 states still have no law against conversion therapy. 16 states have no laws at all prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. (This is a very complex issue, covering employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, and state employees.) 24 states plus DC prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for foster care and adoption by queer parents. This is even worse globally. At least 68 countries have national laws criminalizing same-sex relations. I will leave links with sources, and I’d strongly suggest you check out the lgbtmap one, there’s so much detailed information on different laws, statutes, policies.

That’s all I have for this post. Please let me know of anything that should be added to the list I’ve left below.

Round 5 Wrap Up | Queer Lit Readathon

Hello I’m Rogan and Black Lives Matter. This is the wrap up for the readathon, and I planned to vlog throughout the week but… I didn’t vlog all that much, and what I did do, isn’t something that I want to put out there. It felt kind of wrong to be vlogging with what’s happening in the world right now. I also had a big project planned to start on the first day of June for Pride, but postponed it to tomorrow. I didn’t want to be taking up space with my privileged white self when all of the focus needed to be on the protests and what’s happening. BUT. Just because it’s been a week doesn’t mean it’s time to go back to what we were doing before. White people, we still need to have these hard conversations with our white family and friends. We need to do the work. Donate, protest, have the conversations. Do something. Don’t sit back at this pivotal point in history.

While I was quiet across all of my socials, I was doing a lot of reading this week – for the readathon and about what’s happening in the world. We need joyful black stories more than ever. Ones that are full of grief and trauma are important, but black people need stories where they are full of happiness too. Out of my six books this week, I read two books that had black main characters, and three books written by a black author. Let’s talk about them.

First up, Cyborg Detective by Jillian Weise. I chose this to start with, because I knew it’d be a fairly quick read. I like to knock out a couple quick reads first, then really get into the longer books. I picked this one for poetry, one interpretation of the rainbow cover challenge, and disabled main character. This very short poetry collection is very disabled, very queer. It’s in your face about disability right off the bat, and isn’t vague about the queerness. I normally don’t read poetry, but since this had two major themes that I identify with, I was engaged. There were several times that I went back to read something again because it was just that good.

Next, I went for the second short read which is Bingo Love by Tee Franklin. *happy sigh* Queer black grandmas finding their true love? Yes. This is a graphic novel, a backlist title, and obviously has females over 40. This follows Hazel and Mari, starting in the ‘60s in their teens when Mari moves into town and they meet at church bingo. They become inseparable immediately, falling in love with each other. They get caught and are forced apart by their religious families. Hazel doesn’t hear from Mari until decades later, when they bump into each other in a bingo hall. They’re overjoyed, but have to grapple with what it means for them and their families. I really loved this! We don’t see this type of story enough, love stories about elderly queer people. I read the Jackpot edition, so there were more vignettes after the main graphic novel. There were some things that got glossed over for sake of time, but it wasn’t even an issue for me. I don’t have much more to say apart from saying I *loved* this.

This Is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow, the group read. It’s also my pick for summer vibes, and as I read it, discovered it also meets a non-coming out story. I thought that it possibly would have a disabled main character, but nope. Yes, there’s a character that struggles with alcoholism, but that alone isn’t considered a disability. This was written by a black author, has two out of three main characters that are black, one of them is a lesbian and the other is a young mother. Dia doesn’t care that the annual band contest has a prize of 15 grand this year, nor does she care that it also comes with a gig opening for one of the greatest bands from this town. She knows that without a band, there’s no chance. And there hasn’t been a band since drinking took over Hanna’s life. Dia had a baby, Jules went through the end of a toxic relationship. It used to be the three of them, messing around, playing music, planning for the future. Dia and Jules have to decide if they’re willing to trust Hanna again, with her having gone through rehab and staying sober. There’s a lot of pain over shared history, but they all have to learn to make peace with their past selves if they’re going to move forward as the girls they’re letting themselves be. This is an *amazing* story of love in all different forms, music, and fighting for what truly matters to you. This book rotates through the three girls’ perspectives, and occasionally throws in a fourth from Elliot, the deceased father of Dia’s baby. I really didn’t think Elliot’s perspective was necessary. I can see it was intended to give us some background and understanding of what happened to make the trio no longer be a trio. But I really think it could have been cut completely, and we’d be fine. We don’t need to know all of the details of what happened in the past. Especially when the girls sometimes think back on what happened themselves. Apart from Elliot, I really enjoyed all of the characters and how Barrow wrote all of the relationships between them. You could clearly see that the trio were best friends, and they were hurting but willing to heal and move past what happened for their future together. I really enjoyed this.

Then I actually started Winning Marriage, took a break and read through Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco. This was a recent acquisition, which was my own category, and I also tentatively chose it for queer friends. Reading it, I’d say it kind of counts? I’ll explain later. This book is told from the perspective of Tala, who has a Scottish father and a Filipino mother. This is a world where every fairytale in ours is real. Along with existing countries, there’s also Neverland, Avalon, and Wonderland. Oh, and it’s the Royal States of America. This makes for some very interesting history and politics. Magic is controlled, because it’s in limited supply and requires exchange that can lead to disaster. Tala’s family has the ability to repel and negate magic, but this is considered criminal by the Royal States, so they’re hiding in an Arizonian town where magic doesn’t really work anyway. They’re charged with protecting Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal line. When a legendary magical creature appears, the firebird, Alex, Tala, and a ragtag group of kids with varying abilities called the Bandersnatches set out to finally free Avalon from the Snow Queen’s clutches. I did really enjoy this! The whole concept of all the fairytales being combined into one world, and how that works was really fascinating to me. Though, I will warn you, there is a lot of info and there are occasional dumps so it can be a lot to take in. I personally like that kind of thing, but it can be a bit much for some people. Earlier on, I said tentatively to the queer friends challenge because the queer rep in this is surprisingly not mentioned in many of the reviews on GoodReads. Alex, one of the major characters, is gay. One of the squad is nonbinary, and throughout the entire book, they/them pronouns are used to refer to Loki. Sure, it isn’t a major plot point, but I’m just surprised almost nobody has mentioned this. Especially when in this world, being gay in the Royal States is looked down on. Like, that’s kind of major. Now, I will admit that the characters can be a little two-dimensional, the dialogue sometimes felt choppy and disjointed, and the worldbuilding is mostly done in info dumps. Personally, I’m good at filling in gaps or adding more to a character that isn’t really there, so it wasn’t too much of an issue for me. I do wish the worldbuilding was done more organically, rather than in multiple info dumps. But overall, I really enjoyed this read.

Next, I *finally* read Running With Lions by Julian Winters. This is the book that hits the most challenges – bisexual main character, summer vibes (literally, it’s at a summer soccer camp), a host recommendation, five star prediction (yes!), and queer sports. Sebastian is a bi disaster going into his senior year of high school, the star goalie of his soccer team and also the one who holds the whole team together, possibly going to be the team captain. He’s looking forward to the last year of soccer camp with amazing teammates and a coach that is openly accepting of queer athletes, until he finds out that his former best friend Emir Shah will be attending too. For the sake of the Lions, Bastian decides he’ll try to regain Emir’s trust and help him improve. Second chance friendship leads to realizing there’s something more, and a lot of teen angst. Adri of perpetualpages has been yelling about this book for *forever* and I’m just sad that I didn’t read this sooner! I loved this queer summer romance about soccer bros, and it’s very much a celebration of sexuality and found family. There’s a lot said about breaking gender norms, old ideas about beauty, and myths around sexuality. The diversity in this is great! Seb is bi, Emir is gay, Pakistani-American, and Muslim. The team also has at least two other gay boys, one of them is black. I really loved this! A couple things to be aware of, but they weren’t enough of a detriment for me to enjoy this story. There is some repetitive banter that’s really trivial and unnecessary, and a lot of shoulder punching. Like, why? I also really disliked the whole Mason/Grey arc. I *love* Grey, she’s an amazing badass. She deserves better. She’s had a crush on Mason forever, and doesn’t try to hide it that much. Mason was really mean to her for a large part of the book, and no one really seriously called him out on it. Fortunately, Grey finally realized she deserved better and Mason realized his behavior wasn’t acceptable. Overall, this book is fantastic with the found family and beautifully flawed characters.

The final book which I technically didn’t finish on time, but finished the majority of so I’m counting it, is Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and Pundits–And Won by Marc Solomon. Whew, that’s a long title! That’s basically it, what the book is about. I chose this for nonfiction, non-coming out, backlist title, and the other way to interpret the rainbow cover. This covers the fight for marriage equality of queer people from around 2003 to 2014. The book was published in 2014, so just before the final US Supreme Court decision in 2015. Solomon was very involved in varying areas across the years, so he was able to write from personal experience. He also reached out to others involved to write about parts that he wasn’t there for. Roughly the first half of the book focuses on the fight to get marriage equality in Massachusetts in 2003. They were the first state to fully pass a law requiring freedom to marry for all. Hawaii came close in the ‘90s, but it was struck down until 2013. Marc Solomon was heavily involved in the Massachusetts fight, so a lot of it was from his experience. The rest of the book focuses on key states, like New York, California, and so on. I thought this was really well written and went into a lot of detail on *how* they did the work to convince people and legislators to vote yes for equality. A lot of it was lobbying, knocking on people’s doors, TV ads, mail pieces, helping lawmakers on our side with their election campaigns, and so much more. I’d definitely recommend this if you want a wide look at the fight for marriage equality. I have another book that I bought at the same time as this one, Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality. It looks like it’s focused on a specific couple who went through this whole process, so it’ll be interesting to get that perspective as well. Before I wrap up this video, I want to quickly mention something that you may have noticed. I never once said same-sex marriage, except when I said same-sex in the title. I have a reason for that. Same-sex implies that the couples will only be woman/woman, man/man, etc. This was really about making sure that anybody that wanted to get married could do so. Saying same-sex ignores those couples that have enbies, trans people, and others who aren’t covered by straight cis man/cis woman marriage. Just wanted to emphasize that.

And that’s the six books I read during this round! Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments, and of course you can leave recommendations for more queer books.

Normally, this is where I promote my revenue and socials. But today, I want you to donate to at least one of the organizations I’ve linked below. I’ve already donated this month’s Patreon payment to several organizations. Thanks for watching, see you soon.

Links
Black Lives Matter – www.blacklivesmatter.com
The Okra Project – www.theokraproject.com
House of GG – www.houseofgg.org
The Transgender District – www.transgenderdistrictsf.com
9 Black LGBTQ+ Organizations – https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/black-lgbtq-organizations-to-donate-to/
5 ways to donate to end police brutality – https://mashable.com/article/donate-black-lives-matter-end-police-brutality/

And many more, if there are any you think are essential to have listed here, let me know.

May Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome! Today I’m bringing you the books I read in May. I actually read no physical books this month, everything was digital. Anyway, let’s get into it.

At the end of April, I read the first Legend of Korra graphic novel three-parter. At the beginning of this month, I read the other three-parter, Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire. This happens shortly after the first bind up. Kuvira, who was the villain in the show, plays a big role in this arc. She was the one who started the Earth Empire, and this whole arc is about the vestiges of it attempting to rise up and take over the Earth Kingdom. This is happening at the same time as King Wu is trying to transition the Kingdom into a democracy and abolish the monarchy. As I said before, I will always love diving back into this world, and I’ve been watching the Avatar seasons on Netflix! (No, the blue Avatar is not what I’m talking about.) If you enjoy this world, you’ll probably enjoy all of the spin-off graphic novels as well.

Next, I read the second book in The Sixth World series, Storm of Locusts. This is the second book, so you do need to have some background from the first book to understand all the tensions and things happening in this one. I really liked how Roanhorse added even more to this world, including more Navajo legends and what the world looks like past the wall outside of Dinétah after Big Water. There’s a cult leader, body harvesters, new gods, and more clan powers. I’m excited for the next one!

I’ve been on a massive Avatar kick lately, and just *had* to pick up The Rise of Kyoshi when I found out that Kyoshi herself is canonically bisexual. Before I continue, I think you could read this book with no context for Avatar, but your experience probably will be much better if you know details of this world. This book follows Kyoshi before she finds out she’s the Avatar, her humble background, her discovery and growth into her role as the Avatar. I loved that this allowed Kyoshi to be flawed, selfish, following her anger, but it also showed her growing as a person, learning how to use her power for others, and the path ahead of her. She’s very unorthodox as an Avatar, but that’s what makes her one of the most respected and feared Avatars.

An Exaltation of Larks was the next book I read, and a book from NetGalley. Yes, yes, yes! This is a story of three people who have distinctly different backgrounds – Alejandro Penda who saw Santiago, Chile fall to a military coup when he was a child, Valerie Lark from a prominent and well-off family near to New York City, and Javier Landes who makes a living as one of Manhattan’s best male escorts. Alex escaped to the US during the coup, and ended up with the Lark family. He and Val become fast friends, meeting Javier when they’re all in their twenties. They lose touch for a while then by several dominos, they meet again in their forties. Discovering they still have quite a lot in common, they become strongly linked and a tight family unit. I *absolutely* enjoyed reading this, there’s no question of recommending this to others. There’s so much that goes on in this book, doing a summary of it does NOT do it justice! I really enjoyed how Laqueur writes, it’s beautiful and poetic at times. Laqueur is extremely good at writing characters, their internal thoughts and motivations, how they relate to the other characters. Plotwise, there were a couple of times where I felt like it got a little long, but those were minor enough I can overlook them. Especially when it’s up against the rest of this story. Many people have labeled this as a romance, and while there is romance in this, it’s certainly not the primary focus. It’s all about people and the relationships between them, as beautiful and messy as they can be.

Once & Future. My hold finally came in, and I couldn’t wait, I had to immediately start reading. In a nutshell, this is a queer Arthurian retelling centuries in the future. In this world, everything is casually queer, and it’s strange to the characters when it’s anything else. Ari is the 42nd reincarnation of Arthur after pulling a magic sword out of a tree on Old Earth, and this is the first time Arthur isn’t a boy. Merlin has been cursed to live forever and age backwards the longer the cycle goes on. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind. This is a sci-fi comedy, and I absolutely loved reading this! There are some problems with the pacing and it struggled a bit with having so much comedy alongside some very serious topics. However, this was hilarious, very queer, and just enjoyable. I could easily overlook the problems.

The Sigil. Lake Smithson is in a rut, trying to get into colleges and being declined from all of them. He experiences a great tragedy, and starts to spiral until he stumbles across an odd letter. With this, he discovers there’s a whole hidden magical world that humans aren’t allowed to be a part of. Of course, Lake fights this because he feels like he’s finally found a place where he could belong. There’s magic, creatures of the dark, love, friendships, and chaos. I gave this a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this! I thought the magic system was interesting, with how only the gifted are able to use it by drawing sigils and activating them. Humans can technically use it too, but they’ll be corrupted and possibly die if they try. The whole concept of the MC getting into a magical school, not having any magical ability, and never suddenly discovering some hidden power was really refreshing. I loved that Lake’s being gay was very casual, it came up in the story from time to time but was never a big coming out moment. I really loved Nova! Sure, she’s a little abrasive in the beginning, but I just love her unapologetic blackness. I liked how they showed the POV change with illustrations of Lake and Nova before the perspective shift. Though I did feel like Nova’s POV came in really late. I wish she had been added earlier, and had more chapters. From the cover of the book, you expect a dark fantasy and it is, but you don’t really get that feeling until maybe a third into the book? The beginning is a little dark with the loss of Lake’s brother, but other than that, it felt like just a standard YA story until we finally encountered the Neth, creatures of the dark. That was when it went darker, the pacing started to pick up and we dove more into this magical world. There were some plot holes, and some things that were kind of glossed over that shouldn’t have been such as the destruction in Lake’s home, how was that cleaned up? And some things that I felt like were missing but couldn’t put my finger on. There are quite a few grammar issues, typos, and so on, but the author commented on my GoodReads review and said that there’s a rewrite in progress so all of that will be fixed. But all in all, I did enjoy this read, and that ending WHEW! I need the next book!!

Then I binge read two webcomics on Tapas. One was Rainy Days/SeasonS and the other one was Until Sunset. The first is a fantasy, following Dave who is an ordinary human. For some reason, he attracts the unusual, including the living representations of the four seasons. It starts out as a slice of life, but quickly changes into an ongoing story. I’m really enjoying it so far! Then we have Until Sunset which is a story about Isaac, who has accepted that he’s going to be stuck alone at the family holiday home for the whole summer. He goes for a walk on the beach and discovers Derek, a merman who got injured by a boat propeller. Now, the holiday will be spent nursing a new friend back to health. This is a slooooooow-burn queer romance. I really enjoy the way the author interprets merpeople, and they have a whole lore about merpeople in this world, how they live, how they work, etc. I just wanted to mention those!

The Other Side of the Wire. A Jewish child became orphaned in Nazi Germany and Julia Richter is determined to at least see the child off to their family. Lena, her sister who happens to be married to a higher-ranking SS officer in the Nazi party, ends up taking in the child, dressed in Julia’s daughter’s clothes. The plan was to send her off to America, but after catching the interest of some higher-ups in the Nazi party, Lena has no choice but to adopt the girl, who is the model of Aryan perfection with her long blond hair and blue eyes. This follows Hannah as she grows up in the Third Reich, hiding her past as a Jew and someone who was assigned male at birth. Hannah tries to be the perfect German girl, joining the BDM and supporting the Nazi Party. But her perfect world doesn’t last long, and she’s forced to reevaluate everything. I enjoyed this unique take on a dark period in history, following a trans Jewish girl growing up in the Third Reich. Since I have a lot to say about the trans rep, I’ll say the other general feelings about this book first. It was interesting to kind of get a glimpse into the daily life of a German family who were completely insulated from the horrors that went on in the concentration camps. There was an eventual discovery and grief at what was happening, horror at what their own family and friends were capable of doing. It also showed the scary part of children being indoctrinated into the Nazi ideology via Hitler Youth, having no idea that it’s actually quite horrible. Reading the other reviews, I have to mention that this is historical fiction, and the author did mention that some of the details were fictional, such as the camp in Borkow, the Richter family, and a few others. I also saw a few people saying that having a trans person who underwent a surgery in this time period was inaccurate. It is not. The book mentions the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute of Sex Research), founded by Magnus Hirschfeld. This was open in 1919-1933, and it was closed down and destroyed by the Nazis. The Institute did research on homosexuality, pioneered surgeries for trans people, and endocrinological treatments. So while it might not have been that common back then, it was certainly possible for someone to have the surgery. While Hannah never explicitly says she’s trans, she has at least some cognizance that she’s not what she was assigned at birth. From Lena’s perspective, this surgery was just to help Hannah stay hidden, so she was surprised when Hannah readily agreed. Hannah tells part of the truth: “…if an operation to create something resembling a female’s genitals was necessary to keep her from developing into a normal boy, she would gladly do so.” This shows me that Hannah has no desire to be a boy. I say this because one review said that they felt there was no pre-determination from Hannah that she identified this way. Again, this is historical fiction. Terminology was still developing in the early 1900s, and Hannah certainly didn’t have access to that kind of information, being in Nazi Germany and all. There are times where Hannah thinks on the hidden parts of her, and works hard to be the perfect daughter. I’m not an expert on Nazi Germany, so I can’t fully speak to the accuracy of this book, but I thought it was done fairly well in regards to the LGBT representation.

That’s it for May! My plan for next month is to read only queer media, since it’s Pride month, so keep an eye out for yet more queer books. Also! If you’re watching this on the day of upload, May 31st, the Queer Lit Readathon begins today and ends this Saturday, June 6th. Come and join us in reading queer media!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Improv with Hypernovas Productions | ft. Jules Dameron

Improv!!

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome! Today is a little bit of a swerve from the posts I’ve been making recently, but I hope you’ll enjoy it regardless! Back in the fall, I took an improv class taught by Jules Dameron and Josh Castille. It was done through their company, Hypernovas Productions, working with Deaf Spotlight. There were six of us performing for the showcase in October. I immensely enjoyed this class! To start off, I have a little surprise for y’all. I did a quick interview with Jules about this, then I have a couple of testimonials if you will. I’ll talk a little more about my own experience after that.


Rogan: Welcome Jules!

Jules: I feel very welcome in my own home.

R: I will ask Jules questions about her improv background, and some other things. To start with the first question, what’s your experience in improv, training, and so on?

J: My first real experience with improv was really before I learned improv, if that makes sense. I’m a director first, so I really work with actors to encourage them to be fresh all the time. So I remember every time I work with an actor, I always feel like I want them to be more real, more true essence. So I feel like that the essence of my directing was pushing my performers to be more improvised. Funny, I never took a class, yet, for improv. I think it was just a few little things here and there that just naturally feed into life. But actually getting involved… I was in The Deaf Gang, created by Josh Castille. I got into that with him. He took some classes. Then we were like, maybe you can share with us what you’ve learned? He agreed with that, so he shared, he kind of taught us—deaf talent, deaf actors in L.A. In sign language form, what he learned from those classes, just so we can move forward.

R: That, improv tends to be hearing-based. Talking, voices, dependent on listening aurally and having that back and forth. Deaf people are different, we must have eye contact. Many classes provided are verbally spoken, it’s tough for deaf people to participate in that banter. So that part of this improv class, I really enjoyed. We all have the same language, the same access to information, unified in that.

J: Right, exactly. I feel like that’s where we need access to that kind of class with signing. So for me, what was really important was that I took improv first through sign. I wanted to take a hearing class, UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade). So I went, took their class, finished it. Then after that, I understood it better. It was very challenging for me! Because the only thing I could do was speak verbally, but I hear zero, really nothing. So I needed an interpreter. All my goal was really to learn how they run things, why they do it, so that way, I could think about how to apply that to myself. Many deaf people experience this, where they have to take hearing training then they have to “interpret” it for themselves, if they can figure it out. I didn’t take a lot of improv training. Josh has more improv training, he’s already had a lot more. So I learned from him, then we agreed we would co-teach on improv. Really, I keep learning from those classes. It’s really exciting. I’m now realizing how important improv is for all. Especially with deaf people, because we don’t have scripts in ASL. We need to learn how to get our own essence out in sign. That’s where we need to retain our expression.

R: How many classes have you taught so far, and how did you feel about the classes you’ve taught?

J: So far, three that I’ve officially taught with improv. With Josh, under Hypernovas/The Deaf Gang. Seattle with Deaf Spotlight, San Francisco with ASL Love, and Canada with Inside Out Theatre and Deaf Spectrum. Those three were all different experiences! The first one was interesting, because we had more language diversity in there. A wide range of people, the way they think and process improv. We, me and Josh, co-taught, and we learned very fast. We need to make sure that people connect well, as a team, no matter what. So… Language levels are really important. From the first class, we learned fast that improv *helps* grow our listening skills. Grow our— If we had language deprivation, we improve from there with improv training! I swear, there’s going to be a book written on this. So there’s that. The second class, ASL Love, the San Francisco group was a fascinating group! It was different. All of them had more equal language foundations, a strong group. And they’re all brilliant, they all learned fast. They all had a lot of insights on different things. And I love that group, it’s really fun. And I learned a lot from them too! They’re artists too. The third one in Canada, again, a different kind of group. They have their own thoughts, and of course, Canadian culture comes into that. I realize now why improv is so important, it’s because of the diversity. Because if you think about it, a lot of material out there is written based on the majority, usually. But with improv, it doesn’t matter. You can be yourself. Whatever background you have, that’s it. That’s the world you bring.

R: You don’t have to accommodate others. Be yourself, who you are, your genuine core. Not constantly adapting to others, what their expectations are, what they have written down.

J: Right! Exactly! We create our own things from *us.* And that’s the beauty of improv. I realized that’s why I’m in love with it, because of that. Because I’m able to see more different kinds of people.

R: Why do you think it’s important for deaf talent, or deaf people in general, to take and do improv?

J: You know how the “hot” thing lately has been celery juice? You know, the healthy drink, because it has a lot of health benefits. For your body, for your energy, blah blah. It’s the same with improv. It has *a lot* of benefits creatively, expression, and so on. So many reasons. First, it helps you connect with people better. You actually learn to listen to people better. No offense intended, but deaf people do have a listening problem sometimes, I feel like. I think there’s something about our way of connecting to people. I think maybe it’s because many of us are from hearing families, who don’t listen to us. So we don’t have practice of getting listened to, or we don’t have practice of listening to them either, because what is there to listen to? It’s hard to receive information.

R: Deaf people tend to have, already… If you’re having a conversation, they already have their brain thinking about what they’ll say next. They’re not really paying attention to what the person’s saying *now.* They’re already thinking about the next thing, jumping ahead. No, back up, hold. Wait for what they say, then oh! That may change what they were going to say.

J: I’m saying this strongly because *I* have a listening problem too, and I’m learning to listen better. Improv helps me with that big time. It’s an art of sacrificing your thoughts, you know. It helps you use your “common sense” of storytelling. When you read a script, then you improvise around it. Another benefit is if you read a script with a deaf character written by someone who doesn’t know or understand deaf characters. You can actually use the rules of improv to make your character a little bit more real, a little bit more… Authentic. So you throw something in for the director, they’ll see that it’s more real than this. They realize that. I know many of us do feel a little stuck, having to follow the script and accept it. No! I think it’s good to respect the director, but you also have to respect your work.

R: What your inner feeling of that character is. Because you read the script and embody that role. You learn how—who that person is, what embodies them. If I have that feeling, maybe the director doesn’t have that feeling, because they’re not embodying that role. While I am taking on that role. Improv helps you figure that out, maybe that would happen, maybe this would happen, maybe not.

J: That’s why I’m so… I’m excited about improv. I’m really encouraging everyone to really look into it. Even if you’re not an actor, I still think it’s a beautiful thing to learn. And I think! I think interpreters, all interpreters. (R: Yes yes yes.) Deaf, hearing, whatever. All of the interpreters should take improv for practice. Because you’re on the spot, all the time! You have to learn to accept whatever happens.

R: Right. I’m glad you mentioned that, because I did take this improv class because I wanted to help improve some of my interpreting skills. Because I know sometimes I’m given something, and that’s not the usual, everyday sentence. I’m thinking of how I interpret into full ASL. Or, I heavily work with DeafBlind people, meaning I have to interpret to PT (ProTactile), touch-based. That demands more rapid creativity. Because sometimes the thing they give me is strongly visual, no—it’s all airspace, no actual physical touch. So I’m thinking of how I change that into touch. That’s really challenging, and improv did help some with that. So, what’s next?

J: Well. Today, I just finished teaching a improv class with Josh for my company, Hypernovas Productions. And this was for Canada, their Inside Out Theater plus Deaf Spectrum. It’s great, you should watch their video online. They will show it on their Facebook page, take a look. And for more improv, Josh and I are definitely committed to teaching more classes. We can teach online, through Zoom meetings, so. At first, we weren’t sure, will it be possible to do that? But it’s working beautifully so far. So I suggest you keep an eye out. Remember, it’s not just our company, Hypernovas. I encourage improv in general, for everyone. Everyone will benefit, if you take a class from a hearing or deaf person, whatever. I personally see a lot of benefits if it’s in the same language, sign language, for sure.

R: I think that’s all I have for now, anything you want to add at the last minute?

J: You have to include this in the edit, please. I know it’s difficult for you to do this, but I want to say: Rogan! Rogan is an amazing improviser. You’re really good at what you do, and I really hope to see more of you doing that kind of thing. I’m rooting for Rogan!

R: Thank you, I really appreciate that. Yeah, I do want to do more improv. We’ll see what happens in the future.

J: You’re fun, you’re fun.

R: Thank you Jules, for joining me today!


Up next, I asked two of my classmates to send in brief thoughts about their experience taking this class.


Marilyn: I took their improv class last fall, here in Seattle. Wow. It was wonderful. Very organized, clear agenda, everything was seamless. When I first walked in, I had doubts. Am I good enough? Am I flexible enough? At my age, I’m pretty settled. Let’s see anyway. And yes. Both of them were so good that I felt free, uninhibited. Stretching my mind, being more spontaneous. Digging deep! It was fun. A week passed by and finished, I was touched. I fully support their work. Wow. Thank you to them both for doing this. [ILY]

Sam: Being up on stage in front of an audience makes me very nervous. So I took this improv class to challenge myself. With Josh and Jules teaching, I got immersed in it. As we finished and got to the last day, I got up on stage and… I bombed hard. But that was progress. Later on, at work and such, I realized that the things they’d taught me, the concepts, applied to several things. So, improv isn’t performing only. It applies to real life, how you relate to others, communicate with people. I applaud and tip my hat to Josh and Jules for providing improv in Seattle. Really, I am grateful. Another one? I’m waiting!


As for me, I took it for several reasons. Jules and Josh are good friends of mine, and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity for a fun class with them. I also was wanting to do some more performing, and improv was something I hadn’t done for a long time. This was my first formal training in improv, so I learned a lot! Improv can benefit people in so many ways, not just for getting up on the stage and being funny. I took this class to do more performing, yes, but it was also to bolster my skills for other areas. I want to eventually do more theater, and I’d be able to be quick on my feet if something went wrong on the stage. In my work as an interpreter, like I mentioned earlier, it boosts my skills for creating interpretations/translations on the fly. In personal life, you can get better with comebacks or keeping the conversation lively! The benefits are countless. If you would like to watch some deaf improv, you can follow Hypernovas for any updates on their classes and workshops they teach. You can also check out The Deaf Gang, and FYI!! There will be a live online show tomorrow, May 30th, at 5pm PDT/8pm EDT. Deaf Night Live Improv, hosted by Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre. I will leave links for everything below the post! And now I’m going to shut up. I hope you learned something from this! Let me know if you’ve ever done any improv yourself, or if you’d be interested in it. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about improv or about the class specifically in the comments! Again, thank you to Jules for taking the time to do an interview with me, and my two classmates for taking the time to film and send me their thoughts.

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Links links links
Jules Dameron: https://twitter.com/julesdameron
Josh Castille: https://twitter.com/CastilleJoshua
Hypernovas: https://www.facebook.com/TheHypernovas/
The Deaf Gang: https://www.facebook.com/thedeafgang/
Deaf Spotlight: https://www.facebook.com/DeafSpotlight/
ASL Love: https://www.facebook.com/aslloved/
Deaf Spectrum: https://www.facebook.com/DeafSpectrum/