Mini Episode 2 Carling
Welcome to Out of Queeriosity, your Field Guide to Queer Pride. This is a production of Pride and Joy Foundation, and I'm your host, Elena Joys. She her. You have found a bonus episode. Our theme this year is your voice, your power. We are using it to pursue our mission of preventing suicide and homelessness in our LGBTQ plus community by amplifying your voice and your power.
Our bonus episodes feature the voices of the most recent graduates of our keynote queers program. This is our eight week online course just for lgbtq plus participants to learn public speaking skills as well as the knowledge to build public speaking into an extra form of income. Whether our participants were pitching their own small business or up-leveling their presentation skills for their corporate career, or just learning how to effectively move audiences to take action.
Our keynote queers gave a hell of a graduation presentation and we are here to share it with you. Can you even imagine squishing an entire keynote into just 10 minutes? This is considered expert level skills in the public speaking world. And it was our graduates capstone project. Check back in the summer of 2023 to hear from another keynote queer graduate.
Now let's get to it.
Our next keynote, queer is Carling, pronounced. She her. Carling is a Canadian queer identifying 30 something year old host and producer of the podcast. I did not sign up for this with a passion for storytelling and a desire to explore the human experience. Carling's podcast features candid conversations with individuals about life's unexpected twists and turns.
In addition to our podcast, Carling also speaks on the topic of conformity and its toll on mental health and personal fulfillment. Her presentation, the price of conformity draws from her own experience of never quite feeling like enough as she tried to live up to society's definition of success and happiness.
It wasn't until she came out as gay that she realized she had been on the wrong path the whole time, and that she had been enough all along. Through her podcast and speaking engagements, Carling inspires others to embrace their true selves and live authentically, even if it means stray from the path that others have laid out for them.
With her presentation, the price of conformity I give you Carling.
Carling: Have you ever found yourself feeling not quite, not quite funny enough, not quite skinny enough, not quite successful enough? Not quite. Enough. The year is 1983, Michael Jackson's thriller would come out and the mash finale would become the most watch TV show of all time, shoulder pads and crimped hair.
Were at an all-time high and high school sweethearts. David and Cheryl were doing exactly what their parents had done and what the parents before them had done. They got married, they bought a house and they had kids. The youngest of two kids, I was shy and quiet and I desperately wanted to fit in. I would try to do everything my big sister did from learning the piano, even though I didn't quite get the hang of it to obsessing over new kids on the block.
I was going to be the next future Mrs. Joey McIntyre, but I was told I wasn't quite old enough. By the time I was in grade six, I figured out that the best way to fit in was to do exactly what everyone my age was doing. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't quite figure it out, and my peers knew it. I was bullied relentlessly.
I was spit on at the bus stop. I was called fatty. My hair, my clothes, my shoes, my backpack were just never quite right. In seventh grade, I got my first boyfriend, Alan, and for the first time my dad was so excited to talk to me and tease me and be playful with me the way that I always saw him with my sister.
And despite this, something in me just didn't feel quite right. At 14, I got my first job as a hostess at Perkins Family Restaurant in Bakery, and it was there that I would meet aj. She was a confident tomboy who made my cheeks burn my palm sweat, and I felt a surge of electricity run through me every time she looked at me and suddenly, whenever I was with her, I just felt right.
AJ was the first queer person I ever knew. After all, it's not like I had a lot of representation on TV or in media, and we certainly didn't talk about it at home or in school. I remember thinking, does this make me a lesbian? I mean, surely not, because the only lesbians I had ever seen were people on Jerry Springer, and I knew I didn't see myself in them, but with a nervous excitement sitting in a minivan with my stepmom.
I said, don't tell dad, but I'm a lesbian. Spoiler alert. She told my dad, and at 15 I was starting at a Catholic high school. It was in high school that I honed the art of conformity as if handed the guidebook to a socially successful life. I consumed society's narrative, like my life depended on it, fitting in and being accepted by my peers and my family was just a matter of ticking off boxes on a to-do list, and if there was one thing I was good at, it was conquering a to-do list.
Before I knew it, I was in my early twenties. Online dating was just starting to gain popularity and through the gift of plenty of Phish I met who would become my future husband. This man would be the key to all of my happiness, all of my success and total acceptance and the more boxes I checked off on that to-do list, the happier my family was.
He wasn't the nicest guy. Sure. You might even argue, I chose the worst one of all, but no relationship is perfect and how bad could it be when everyone around me was so happy for me, I was finally getting invited to couples dinners and double dates. My dad was calling me to ask how he was, and they were making plans to go golfing.
It was early June on a perfectly sunny day at an outdoor festival in front of 2,500 people and all of my friends and family that he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. That feeling that something wasn't quite right quickly got drowned out by the crowd cheering and screaming and celebrating.
How was I supposed to say no? In an instant, it was if we were put on a train propelled by our friends and our family, and we were heading to that altar at light speed, we were being showered with gifts and money and parties and our families had never been so happy. I continued that to follow that guidebook, confident that if I just kept checking off those boxes, that feeling of not quite right would just fade away.
I got married, I bought a house, I bought an S U V, and I got a dog. And every day somebody was asking me, so when are you gonna have kids? When I look back on that time in my life, I can't tell. But note that if that guidebook had just been written a little differently, how differently my life might have turned out.
I'm not sure who decided that happiness and success and acceptance had to equal all of those things. But what if instead of lesbians on Jerry Springer, I got to see happy, successful, confident queer people in everyday life and in media. And what if, instead of focusing all of our language on when, when you get married, when you have kids, what if we just changed that word to if.
That two letter word holds more choice and hope than you can imagine. What if that guidebook simply suggested that if you got married or if you had kids, and what if as a society we looked at happiness and success, not by what the guidebook says, but by the contributions we make to this world and by celebrating people for doing what brings them joy.
As a queer identifying almost 40 year old, I wish I could look back at my younger self and tell her you were always quite enough. Thank you.
Have you heard about Leaders for Inclusive Change? It's our online class for parents, teachers, and community leaders to learn how to create safe spaces for our LGBTQ plus youth. This class is typically a DIY online class, but this summer you have the opportunity to take the class live with the two trans teachers who created it, join them and other parents and leaders for six weeks of incredible learning, community building, and yes, joy.
For more info, check out Leaders for inclusive change.com. Class begins in July, 2023. So get in there, join us, or take the DIY version all year round Leaders for inclusive change.com.