August Life Update

Hi friends! I hope everyone is doing well. I just wanted to give everyone a quick life update. Over the past six months, I quit my previous job, dealt with getting COVID immediately after quitting, started a new job, got top surgery almost two weeks ago, and am now preparing to move within the next month or so. 

It’s been a lot, but mostly good. I get to write and engage with other daily at my job, and I’m so beyond happy to have finally had top surgery.

Me freaking out right before surgery in the lovely cap they gave me.

I just wanted to update y’all and let you know yes, there’s definitely been a delay in getting the recording released of “Mother’s Tongue”, the winning short story from the contest I held earlier in the year.  It took me a while to recover from COVID, and then things got really busy with my new job. I’ll be working to get that done as soon as I wrap up moving. Hopefully — fingers crossed — I can get that out around Halloween, but I’ll have more details once I’ve moved. 

As for the podcast, I’m not sure where things will go. I’ve been working on a script for a horror audio drama about cryptids and paranormal research, and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m not sure if or when I’ll return to The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. I’m beyond grateful I had the opportunity to create it and that it’s helped a handful of people. No matter what happens, I definitely want to remain active on this account and use it to help platform other LGBTQ creators and podcasters. If you have any ideas as to how to do that or feel like you have a story to tell, reach out to me! I’d love to help share your story.

Anyway – I think that’s all for now. Thank you so much for sticking around and showing this little show so much love over the past almost year (WOW). It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m excited to see where things go from here.

❤ Em

February Life Update

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone is doing well. As the month starts, I just wanted to give you a quick update on how things are going on my end.

To be honest, I’m still figuring out where I’m going next in regards to The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller and podcasting in general. Creating TSSS and its first season was an absolutely fantastic experience, and I’m eternally grateful for my wonderful cast, supporters through Indiegogo, and patrons on Patreon for helping me to make it a reality. However, writing, voice acting Remy, editing, producing, managing social media, etc. almost completely on my own was incredibly draining. Don’t get me wrong – it was also incredibly rewarding and I’m so glad I did it. I learned so much through this experience and want to do it again in the future (though I’m hoping I’ll have more people involved and can get some help in the future). However, between that work and my almost full-time day job, I’m a little burnt out.

I’ll be taking some more time to recover before figuring out whether or not there will be a second season. I love how the first season wrapped up, but I also know there are a lot of topics that weren’t explored. Once I’ve recovered from season one, I’ll be able to give you an answer as to whether or not there will be a second season and what that will look like (hopefully there will be an answer within the next few months). I want to explore those topics, but at the same time, it’s a little hard to think about right now. I’m just at a point now where I’m comfortable accepting and embracing my nonbinary identity, and with that comes a lot of having to educate others. It can get really tiring, and while I love writing queer stories for queer people, I’m not sure I want to think about explaining my own identity more than I already have to at the moment.

In the meantime, I’m going to be working on art to sell on Etsy. I’ve been dabbling in that recently and have been having so much fun. It’s a relaxing hobby and I love getting to share my art with others. I’ll also hopefully be able to work on some writing for other projects. I have some ideas that have been in the back of my head for a few months that I’d like to flesh out some more and begin working on.

I’d also like to work with other audio drama creators in whatever way I can, whether that be by voicing parts in their stories, helping with social media, or potentially helping with editing. (If you’re interested in working with me, please shoot me an email at spookysapphicstorytellerpod@gmail.com.)

Since I won’t be producing TSSS content for a bit, I’m going to unlaunch my Patreon for the time being. You can still support me on my Ko-fi and follow me on all my social media pages. Once I have more TSSS content coming out or just content in general that’s a bit more public, I’ll relaunch the Patreon page.

Thanks for sticking around and being so supportive through everything. I love you all and can’t wait to see where this year takes me.

❤ Em

Spooky Scribbles: What I Learned Creating The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller

Hello and happy new year! Em here! 

As you all know, season one of The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller wrapped up right before Christmas. I’m now in the process of trying to rest and relax and then figure out my next project (debating between writing season two, working on draft two of a different script, or writing a totally different audio drama). I also have a day job that takes up about 30 hours of my week and is extremely physically demanding (especially for someone with chronic illnesses), but aside from the dogs I get to see at work, that’s not as much fun to talk about.

Anyway, I figured while I’m trying to give myself a bit of a break, I’d do a little blogging. Today I’ll be talking about what I learned as I created season one of The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller.

When you’re open about who you are, not everyone is going to support you

This point is a bit of a downer, but when you’re vulnerable and create something personal, people will show their true colors. They aren’t always what you expected.

I’m going to be honest … I haven’t dealt with many blatantly homophobic people who I considered close friends in the past, at least not when I was in the process of coming out. However, when I released my podcast, I faced rejection from an old professor/advisor from college who I had studied under for many years and admired very much. I had considered this man not only a mentor, but also a friend. He is the one who originally taught me the basics on how to podcast, and when I tried to tell him about my work, he cut off contact with me.

I don’t regret my work. His reaction to me doesn’t reflect on my work; it’s a reflection of his beliefs—beliefs that unfortunately, he probably held the entire time I studied under him, traveled with him on school trips, and worked hard to impress him with a thriving student newspaper during my time as editor-in-chief. It hurts, but it’s not my fault. I hate that I had to find out, but I’d rather know than not. But it’s something I have to grieve now.

There are a lot of people out there like me

I have always felt very isolated in my queerness. I grew up homeschooled in a very conservative part of Florida. Through creating my podcast and connecting with people online, I’ve met so many people who share many of my experiences. I’ve gotten to talk to people from all around the country and many parts of the world, which has been really cool.

In an ideal world, it would be fantastic if we could all meet queer folks in real life, but until that becomes a reality, I think it’s so important to have our online communities. And you don’t need a podcast to do that—you can find us in pretty much every fandom, career, etc.

Holy shit, gender is confusing but …

I struggled to understand my gender for a while, especially as a lesbian (considering women are basically told their existence revolves around men), but I’m comfy now understanding that I can exist outside the black and white boxes of man or woman and that I’m nonbinary.

I know some people might wonder, “Why make that distinction? Why can’t you just be a masculine woman? What’s the difference?” I don’t really know how to explain that—I don’t know that there’s a way to explain an integral part of yourself like that unless you live it. I can provide you with resources, however—this link has some basic info on what being nonbinary means.

(A little side note before you jump over to that article: I just want to add that nonbinary can be an umbrella term for people identifying across or outside of the spectrum of gender. For me, I’m still very much a lesbian, so I definitely don’t feel totally disconnected from womanhood. However, I feel like my experience is broader or more ambiguous and I’m happy to just float around outside of the box. Also, pronouns! I’m happy with she/her or they/them and enjoy both being used.

I’m proud of myself for talking about my trauma

I’m going to keep this short because it’s not fun talking about, and I already made an entire episode about it, which again … was not fun. But I’m really proud of myself for talking about abuse within queer relationships/abuse experienced by queer people who may be more vulnerable as they’re struggling with their identity. I believe that some of the people who abused me took advantage of me because they saw someone who was struggling, especially in the case of my ex-boyfriend.

With “K,” my childhood best friend … I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever know why things happened the way they did. I’ve been working for years to heal from that and I’ve always felt so incredibly alone in that experience. But I’ve found that I’m not the only lesbian who’s experienced abuse at the hands of a girl as a kid, and I’m glad I told my story. It was really terrifying, and I’m proud of myself.em

Queer people are some of the strongest people out there and I freakin adore you all

I already knew this but yeah. I just want to say I fucking love you all. I couldn’t have done this without you all and I’m constantly amazed at how much we go through and survive—and how we get to the other side and thrive. This past year has been horrific in so many ways and I can only hope and pray that this next one is better and safer. I hope for all of you that this year, you feel safe and loved and accepted. I hope we experience profound self love and acceptance—that’s something I really want to work on. I hope you continue to grow and survive and thrive.

Like I said, I’ll hopefully be blogging a bit more during my break. If you have any topics you’d like me to cover, please send them to me! Or if you have any topics you’d like to contribute, I’d be happy to discuss that! Comment here or send me an email at spookysapphicstorytellerpod@gmail.com.

Have a lovely day!

TRANSCRIPT || Episode Fifteen

THE SPOOKY SAPPHIC STORYTELLER: Episode Fifteen

REMY

Hi everybody! Thanks for joining me for another episode of The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. This is your host, Remy Stanford.

[Voice fades into theme music.]

[As the music fades out, int. Remy’s cabin. The sound of wind fills the background, and every now and then a low creak can be heard, like the wood frame of the cabin is shifting in the early winter weather.]

REMY

(excited) Ooh, okay, so we have a lot happening today. This is our final episode of season one, and it’s going to be a fun, chill episode. Bowie’s on her way over, so I figured I’d just get some of the details out of the way first.

Uh … so, uh … Theo. He hasn’t been here much since the last episode. Or, I mean … I-I think he’s here, but he’s not really talking much. We’ve talked once since then, but only for a few minutes. He sounds … I don’t know. It’s hard to tell, but it’s like … it’s like he’s tired. My keys keep showing up in random places, and I’ve actually had my lights blink on and off maybe like a dozen times over the past week, so … I don’t know if that’s him trying to talk to me or just one of the other ghosts.

But it’s, uh … it’s going to be fine. Uh, when we talked, he kept telling me he doesn’t feel bad, he’s just sort of tired, like I said, so I don’t know … and he said he’ll, um … well, it’s … uh, just, with whatever’s going to happen, um, it’ll probably be soon, but he’s going to try and give me a heads up, I guess.

[Remy is quiet for a moment before giving a sigh that turns into a nervous laugh.]

REMY

Sorry, I—I know I said this was going to be light and then started off with that. It’s fine, though, it—it really is, it’s just … sort of hard to wrap my head around. So, um … I don’t know. I guess I just want him to be at peace and … I hope it will all be okay.

[She takes a deep breath before continuing.]

REMY

Anyway. Um, things are good with Bowie, at least. I-I don’t know exactly what we are right now, but, uh … we’re good. Uh, she got back from her trip last night, so … it’ll be really good to see her tonight.


I also just wanted to say thank you before we get started. When I started this podcast, I was doing it out of the need to connect with others and to maybe help people by sharing my story. And I knew that was what I wanted, but I guess I didn’t really expect it to go anywhere. But seeing everyone’s responses and hearing from some of you about how much you relate to my story … it honestly blows my mind. It’s hard to even really grasp sometimes that I’m actually sharing all of this and maybe helping people. Like, that’s crazy! I’m proud of my story, but as the one who lived through it, it doesn’t always feel particularly exciting. And sometimes it feels … well, kind of isolating, like some of my experiences are so random that I feel like I’m the only one who’s felt that way. But … you all have proved me wrong. And I just want to say thank you for that. I wish I could give you all a big hug. You’ve given me—

[The front door opens with a creaking sound, letting the noise of the wind in more loudly and cutting Remy off.]

REMY

(breathless, shouting a little) Hello?

[Remy’s chair thuds as she stands. The front door closes, muffling the wind again. From the other room, Bowie’s laughter can be heard. As she begins to speak, her voice draws nearer, her footsteps thudding on the wooden floor.]

BOWIE

(approaching, laughing a little) Sorry, sorry, it’s me!

REMY

(breathless) Oh my god, Bowie! You have to stop doing that! 

BOWIE

(in the room now) Well, I texted you, but I didn’t hear back so I just … let myself in. (nervous giggle) You look like you’re ready to jump out of your skin … I promise I didn’t mean to freak you out.

REMY

(small laugh) Oh, no, it’s all good. (amused) You know, you look a little antsy, too.

BOWIE

Of course I’m antsy! I’ve barely seen you since, well, um, the thing happened other than at work, and that doesn’t count, and I just … (soft sigh) I missed you.


REMY

(barely restraining nervous giggles) We talked, like, every night.

BOWIE

Okay, yeah, but that was just about stuff I was doing with my family and what was happening with Theo, and it’s just … (sheepish) maybe it’s crazy to believe, but I’ve actually kind of been freaking out ever since we … you know, kissed and stuff that night.

REMY

(insecure) Oh, like … in a bad way?


BOWIE
(awkwardly rushed) Oh my god, no! No, absolutely not. That was … I—I wanted that to happen for … a long time. I just—I’m not sure how to do this since we’re already friends. Like, normally you have to ask someone out and then go through dating for a while before you’re together, and then … I-I mean, it’s just a longer process, and we’ve known each other and been friends for a couple years and I know you already and I know what I want, so I just don’t really … I—I don’t know how to do this.

REMY

What do you want?

BOWIE

(fond but a little desperate) You know what I want, Remy.

REMY

(amused, a little giggly) I kind of want to hear you say it anyway. I mean, I was the one who kissed you first. I think you owe me.

BOWIE

(short laugh) Oh my god, come on! That’s not how it works.

REMY

No, but … I still want to hear it.

BOWIE

Yeah, yeah … all right. 

[Bowie clears her throat softly, then takes a deep breath. She lets it out through her teeth.]

BOWIE

Okay. (soft, sincerely) So, um, Remy, would you … want to be my girlfriend?

REMY

(barely restraining giggles) Yes!

BOWIE

(giggly) Well, um, guess that wasn’t so hard, then.

[There’s the soft sound of fabric rustling as they pull each other into a hug. Quickly, the embrace becomes more intimate and they kiss for several moments.]

BOWIE

(breathless, contented sigh that turns to a sound of realization) Um … did I walk in on you recording?

REMY

(groan) Oh my god. Sorry, you scared me and then I just sort of … got excited you were here and forgot to turn it off.

BOWIE

(laughing) Don’t be, it’s—it’s fine. Theo would have figured out a way to record it anyway.

REMY

(hesitant) I don’t know if he would at this point.

BOWIE

Oh. I-I know it’s been bad, but … did it get worse since we last talked?

REMY

No. I … (sigh) I don’t know, it’s … it’s just different.

BOWIE

Yeah, I know. But maybe he’ll talk to us while I’m here. (teasing) You know he’s a big fan of me.

REMY

(laughing) Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, well … since we got all that on recording, uh, you want to tell everyone how your trip was before we get started?

BOWIE

Oh, um. (chair thuds as she sits) It was fine. I spent some time with my family and saw Carter, which I know Remy was nervous about—

REMY

I was not! I mean, I was just … a little nervous because things were sort of … (stuttery) I don’t know, undefined with us.

BOWIE

I know, I know, I’m teasing you. It was fine—um, we talked about things that happened and I think it was good to see him in person. He’s … you know, he’s a cool guy, but I think that ending was coming for a while.

REMY

(teasing) I mean, yeah, I’d say so if you wanted us to happen for a, quote, long time.

BOWIE

(giggly) Shhhh, don’t quote me. I’m already dying over the fact that I admitted that, we definitely don’t need to repeat it.

REMY

Pfft, do you think I was any different?

BOWIE

No, you definitely weren’t.

REMY

(offended but giggly) Hey!

BOWIE
I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Well, not entirely, but … 

REMY

Okay, I won’t tease you about that if you won’t tease me. For now.

BOWIE

Yeah, emphasis on for now. (beat, Remy laughs) So … anyway. My trip was good, my family was good, and things have completely concluded with my ex boyfriend. Does that wrap things up nicely for you?

REMY

It sure does. Speaking of … uh, do you want to tell them what we’re doing for Christmas?

BOWIE

Oh, which part?

REMY

The you-spending-it-here part.

BOWIE

(small laugh) Ah, well, I mean, they probably figured that one out on their own.

REMY

Okay, yeah, probably, but … we still have to make more specific plans, but Bowie will be here and we’ll make tons of good food and watch some really goofy Christmas movies.

BOWIE

And I’m one hundred percent taking you out to buy a Christmas tree.

REMY

It’s a waste of money! You put it up for a few weeks and then just leave it on the curb.

BOWIE

(smile in voice) Okay, so then we’ll get a fake one. (8.23)

REMY

(small laugh) Okay, fine. Uh … so yeah, that’s what we’ll be doing this week. We both have to work on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas, but … it’ll be fun.

BOWIE

(teasing) Hmm … two people in a new relationship spending the week in a cabin in the woods for Christmas … we’re basically living out a gay Hallmark movie.

REMY

(laugh) Ew, don’t ruin it. (contented sigh) Okay, so … as our final topic—today we’re going to be talking about going to your first Pride celebration.

[Remy’s voice and the wind fade into a shortened version of the theme music. When the music fades out—int. Remy’s cabin. The wind continues blowing in the background.]

REMY

So as you know, I went to my first Pride parade the week that I came out. Before I came out, I really didn’t have many queer people in my life, unless you want to count my old editor, and that obviously wasn’t great.

The local Pride parade near where I grew up wasn’t that big, um, not compared to big cities or even the parade they have in Orlando. But after spending so long feeling completely alone in my queerness, I felt like I was in an absolutely massive crowd of people like me. And that was incredibly overwhelming in the best way. I remember smiling so big the whole time my face started to hurt, and I definitely cried at least once.

BOWIE

Crying is a requirement for your first Pride.

REMY

And maybe every one after that, because I definitely cried with you the next year.

BOWIE

(small laugh) I think you maybe cried more than me. Um … okay, so I realized I was bisexual before Remy knew she was gay, but my first Pride was with her, here in North Carolina.

REMY

Despite how it feels, we apparently do have a queer population of more than just me and Bowie, at least once a year.

BOWIE

(jokey) Yeah, everyone comes out of hiding for the day and gets together before disappearing until next year. (deep breath) But … yeah, I think how I felt was a lot like Remy. Even though I’d been out for a few years, um, who I was had never really been celebrated. Er, like, not on a large scale, I guess. I mean, it was something I really connected with Remy over and I felt celebrated by her—

REMY

As you should, considering I think I screamed a little when you left the room the first time you mentioned having an ex girlfriend.

BOWIE

(laughing a little) Right, right, you were great. Um, but … yeah, I don’t know. My family’s never really gotten it, and I haven’t really had other friends who get it like Remy does, so … being in that crowd of people … I don’t know how to explain it. (snaps fingers) Oh, actually, you know what, it was like I’d felt like an alien all my life, right? And then suddenly standing there with all those other queer people, I felt like I was at home.

REMY

Yes! That’s exactly what it feels like. I remember at both parades, I felt such a sense of … I guess safety in who I was. Like it was celebrated by everybody there and there was nothing I had to hide.

BOWIE

Yeah, exactly! And even if you don’t know the people there, it doesn’t really matter. You just feel seen for who you actually are, and you’re celebrated for that.


REMY

Exactly. It’s also really, really cool seeing all the groups that come out for the parade. Um, at both parades, I saw at least one city council member, um, groups for queer youth, and a few churches.

BOWIE

Oh god, the people from the churches just made me cry.

REMY

(laugh) Ohhh yeah. Seeing them in my first parade was about the point that I lost it. I had been expecting some kind of protest from church groups, but instead there were groups from affirming churches marching with signs saying they loved everyone and just … I don’t know. (sigh) Nothing is going to undo how much I was hurt in church, but seeing those people out there being genuinely loving and accepting made me feel a little bit better.

BOWIE

Also the parents who are there just to give hugs? Oh my god, I got so many good hugs that day.

REMY

(laugh) Remember the lesbian couple?

BOWIE

(snort) The one who let me cry on them and thought we were girlfriends?

REMY

(giggles) Yes, those. I still want them to be my adoptive gay moms.

BOWIE

Oh, totally same. They were some of my favorite people we met that day.

REMY

Yeah, they were incredibly cool. Shout-out to Cindy and Laura, on the off chance you’re listening.

BOWIE

(laugh) You know, we should find them on Facebook and get coffee sometime.

REMY

Oh my god, yes! How have we not done that yet?

BOWIE

(mumbled “I don’t know” sound) We really should have gotten more people’s contact information that day, now that I think about it.

REMY

Yeah … looking back I wish we had, but I think we were both just … kind of lost in the moment.

BOWIE

Oh, for sure. It felt like such an otherworldly experience. Like, there’s something so weird but magical about going from living your life in spaces that are pretty much dominated by cis, straight people to finding yourself in a place with hundreds of other queer people.

REMY

Yeah, yeah, exactly. I don’t think anything really prepares you for how strange and cool that’s going to be. (beat) So I know some of our listeners aren’t out yet or don’t have Pride celebrations near them, so do you have any advice you’d give them if they’re struggling with wanting to go to a Pride celebration but can’t?

BOWIE

Oh, wow. Goodness gracious, okay, there’s a lot I could say about that. Um, I mean, that was me until I moved up here. (thoughtful pause, soft “hmm”) I think—I think what helped me the most was trying to find community where I could. For a long time, that was through the internet. I know when I was maybe sixteen, sev—probably seventeen, um, there were a lot of online groups that did virtual Pride celebrations in June for people who couldn’t go, and I thought that was really cool.

REMY

Oh, I didn’t even think about virtual Pride events!

BOWIE

Yeah, they were awesome. Um, obviously it’s not the same as being around in a huge group of people, but you still get to chat with people and be yourself. (beat) Those were really cool, um, but becoming friends with Remy was what really helped me start to love who I was. 

REMY

(nervous laugh) Wait, seriously? I was just coming out when I met you.

BOWIE

(laugh) Yes! Stop giving me that look, ’cause I’m being serious. I mean, ’cause other than the girl I dated for a little bit in high school and then a gay guy I met freshman year of college, I never really had friends who were queer. And it wasn’t that I didn’t accept myself before I met Remy, but my sexuality definitely wasn’t something I was really proud of. Um, but then, you know, I met her and felt like, “Oh my god, maybe I’m not totally alone in this,” and it was really, really helpful. (laughing) Quit blushing, I’m allowed to say meeting you was a good thing!

REMY

(bashfully giggly) Yeah, no, it’s just that I felt so alone before we met, and you just always seemed so … I don’t know, confident in who you were.

BOWIE

Well, you know what they say, fake it ‘til you make it, Rem. (beat, thoughtful) I mean, yeah, I—I was confident, but I didn’t feel like it was something anybody liked about me. At best, they tolerated it.

REMY

I didn’t know that. I mean, I found out about your family pretty quickly and obviously there weren’t lots of queer people at school, but … I guess it just seemed like none of that stuff got to you. Like, I really needed you but I didn’t know you needed me like that.

BOWIE

(fondly amused) You are so oblivious and it’s adorable.

REMY

(bashful giggle) Shut up.

BOWIE

Not gonna happen, hon. I’m pretty sure you should already be used to this after being friends with me for two years, but you really better get used to it if we’re gonna be girlfriends.

REMY

(flustered but loving it) Okay, okay, yeah, I know. (beat) So … I don’t know if I have any advice other than what Bowie said, um, except that finding representation can also really help. I liked to read a lot of articles written by queer people and listen to their podcasts and things like that. Even if I wasn’t talking directly with them, hearing people telling their stories helped me feel so, so much more normal.

BOWIE

Yeah, I definitely agree with that. There are tons of really cool books and articles and podcasts covering basically every aspect of what it’s like to be queer, and they’re really fun to read or just listen to.

REMY

Yeah, and just know that even if you can’t go to a Pride event right now, you will eventually. Obviously it sucks in the moment, but I would just say it’s good to hold on to that hope that you’re going to be able to get to a place someday where you get to be authentically you.

BOWIE

And that goes for life in general, by the way. Uh, you’ll get to go to Pride and be yourself, and you’ll also get to a point someday where you’re just all right with being yourself every day. Getting there can be really scary I know and can even take a long time, but once you are there, it’s so worth it. Um, even with, you know, all the not-so-great reactions I got from people, I am so, so much happier now than I ever was before coming out.

REMY
And I second that (laugh). Coming out and then trying to live as yourself after living in the closet for a long time is really terrifying, and we never want to invalidate or discount those feelings, but we want to encourage you that you won’t feel that way forever. (beat) Well … I think that’s all I have. (hesitant) Uh … Bowie, do you want to … try to talk to Theo? You know, since you’re his favorite or whatever?

BOWIE

Yeah, absolutely. (deep breath) All right. (beat) Theo? It’s Bowie. Remy and I are dating and I need you to come freak out with us.

REMY

(giggling) Bowie!

BOWIE

(jokingly oblivious) What? It’s a perfectly reasonable request. (beat) Can you hear me, Theo? Hello?

[There’s a long moment of no sound but the wind outside as they listen, without even the faintest hint of static intruding on the audio.]

REMY

(sigh) It’s been like this basically every night. He just … he’s just silent. Sometimes the lights flicker when I try to talk to him, so I guess he’s trying to communicate, but I don’t know for sure if it’s another ghost or—

BOWIE

Wait. Why is your tape recorder stopped?

REMY

What?

BOWIE

Your tape recorder. I thought you left it running almost all the time.

REMY

Yeah, I do—(realization) oh. (beat) Maybe it ran out of tape?

BOWIE

You think so? I mean, he’s talked to you once in the past week and I know you reuse the blank tape.

[Suddenly, the tape player clicks. With a high-pitched spinning sound, the tape begins to rewind on its own.]

BOWIE

(startled) Um … that’s not me.

REMY

(bewildered) No, it’s … I—I guess one of them must be doing that? Uh, Theo? Is that you?

[The two sit in silence for a moment as the tape continues rewinding. After a few more seconds, it stops, the tape player cutting off sharply like the STOP button has been pressed.]

BOWIE

Does that mean anything to you?

REMY

No. Uh, maybe—

[The tape player clicks again, and this time, the tape’s audio begins to play. The sound of static crackles in the audio, and then, after a moment, a familiar voice begins to speak.]

THEO

Hi, Remy. Hi, Bowie, if you’re there. Not to make this whole thing too dramatic, but I think it’s coming soon—it being whatever’s going to happen to me. Now, Remy, before you scream about why I didn’t get your attention and tell you right before it happened, let me just say you’re asleep right now and I’d rather not wake you up to the news. Plus I guess I just think I’ll … say things better this way. I’ll get one of the other ghosts to show it to you.

First, it’s important to make sure you know that despite my absence, both of you will still be teased mercilessly forever. You’re both absolutely terrible at telling each other how you feel, and no matter what happens to me, I’m not letting you live that down. Although, (sigh) I do have to admit, watching you both fumble around each other was sort of cute.

I’d bet my eternal resting place or whatever on the fact that you guys will be dating by the time you hear this. I now leave the responsibility of teasing you to Jack. Obviously he lacks my ghostly charm and skills at getting you to confess your feelings for each other, but I guess that won’t be much of an issue anymore. If you don’t pass the message on, I’ll figure out how to make another ghost haunt you. Although, that’s probably already happening. Once there are ghosts in a place, I doubt there ever really stop being ghosts there.

Okay, but … all jokes aside. (sincerely) I’m happy you’re in the cabin, Remy. Everybody before you was freaked out about the sounds and either moved out immediately or talked about trying to cleanse the house or exorcise it or something. Which is … not the most comforting thought when you’re stuck being dead there. I was a little worried when you said you and Bowie were paranormal investigators, but you’ve been really cool. Even if you’re an awkward dork.

I know I drove you crazy, Remy, but admit it: You had fun. And I did too. More fun than I’ve had in … well, however long I’ve been here. I don’t know if I’ll have, like, consciousness wherever I’m headed, but if I do, I’ll miss you.

Wow, this is getting depressing. That’s not the point here and you better not be crying, okay? Get a hug from Bowie if she’s there. (bittersweetly upbeat) This is all good. This is the way of life, you know? Or the way of death, I guess. And I feel fine. There’s just a … sort of tug, I guess you could say.

I thought the whole talking to yourself in front of a microphone thing was a little weird at first, but it turned out to be pretty awesome. The other ghosts and I have really appreciated it. It’s not like we can really talk to other people like us, unless we’re smart enough to figure out how to mess with computers, and even then … it’s not the same. So thanks for sharing your story, and all of our stories.

[There’s a long pause with just the sounds of static and Theo taking several breaths, like he’s growing tired. He sighs a little before continuing.]

THEO

Okay, well … I’m going to go now, I think. Thank you for everything, Remy. And Bowie. I wish I’d met you both before, you know, I died and everything, but all things considered … this was pretty swell. Have fun being an obnoxiously cute couple. Keep doing your thing, telling your story and other people’s stories. Don’t forget to pass the message on to Jack. And tell your pet furball I’m still annoyed he never became friends with me.

[The static rises and fades in and out. The tape player clicks as the recording comes to an end. Bowie and Remy are silent for a moment, taking it all in. Finally, Bowie lets out a breath.]

BOWIE

Okay … are you okay?

REMY

(shaky breath like she’s holding back tears) Yeah … yeah, I think so. I’ll … I’ll miss him, but …

BOWIE

It’s like he said, it’s … it’s the way things work.

REMY

(shaky breath) Yeah. (sniff) Do you think he’s really …?

BOWIE

(quietly) Yeah, yeah, it—it sounded like it.

REMY

(sigh, quietly) Yeah. Just, um … on the off chance he’s still there … (voice wavering) thank you, Theo. For helping me tell my story and for being an amazing roommate. (slight tearful laugh) Even if you did screw with my recording equipment all the time. (another laugh that’s more unsteady)

BOWIE

(gentle) Hey, come here.

[The chair thuds and clothes rustle as they stand and pull each other into a hug. It’s quiet for a moment before Bowie lets out a soft yet steeling breath.]

BOWIE

It’ll be okay. He’s at peace now.

REMY

(sniffle) Yeah—yeah. I guess he is.

BOWIE

Yeah, and that’s good. Even if it hurts. And you undoubtedly made his time here better.

REMY

(laugh that’s still a little tearful) I mean, yeah, I gave him plenty of entertainment.

BOWIE

Well, that, but it also sounds like you made him feel seen. And that’s a pretty cool thing to do, even if you don’t have a long time with someone.


REMY

(sniffle) Yeah. (beat, softly) He made me feel seen, too.

BOWIE

(gently) I know he did. He was a good guy. (beat) Do you, um—do you want to wrap things up?

REMY

Yeah, yeah.

[Remy takes a slow steadying breath. When she continues, her voice is stronger, though there’s still obvious emotion underneath it.]

REMY

Thank you again to everyone who’s tuned in this season. Uh, like I said, I … had no idea anyone would—would relate or care. (softly) And I had no idea I’d have a ghost roommate, or guest ghosts on here, or … any of that. But I’m really glad it turned out the way it did. All of it.

For any future updates, um, keep following us on social media. You can find us at tsss_pod on Twitter or at spookysapphicstoryteller on Instagram. And as always, you can email me if you want at spookysapphicstorytellerpod@gmail.com.

Hopefully we’ll, uh, have some more content for you in the near future. But, uh, for now … I’m going to go make Bowie cuddle me on the couch in front of a movie.

BOWIE

(soft laugh) As Theo would have wanted.

REMY

(wobbly laugh) Yeah, exactly. (stronger laugh) He would go absolutely crazy seeing us do all the Christmas stuff this week.

BOWIE

Hey, we’re fulfilling his wish of being an obnoxiously adorable couple. (soft, affectionate sound, almost like a laugh) Come on. Let’s go get on the couch.

REMY

(small, fond laugh) Sounds good. Until next year … bye, everybody!

[Remy’s voice, the wind, and the creaking fade out as the theme music plays.]

///

The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Sharealike 4.0 International License. Today’s episode was written, directed, and produced by Emily Walker. Remy Stanford was voiced by Emily Walker, Bowie Byrd was voiced by Addigale Stewart, and Theodore Snide was voiced by Sebastian Perry. Winter weather SFX adapted from cgiFox9 on freesound.org. 

TRANSCRIPT || Episode Fourteen

THE SPOOKY SAPPHIC STORYTELLER: Episode Fourteen

REMY

Hi everybody! Thanks for joining me for another episode of The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. I’m your host, Remy Stanford.

[Voice fades into theme music.]

[As the music fades out, int. Remy’s cabin. The sound of wind fills the background, and every now and then a low creak can be heard, like the wood frame of the cabin is shifting in the early winter weather.]

REMY

(giggly) Um, so … last week! (nervous giggle) Uh, that wasn’t exactly supposed to be in there, but, uh, are you really surprised at this point? It’s my fault for forgetting to turn off the recorder, and I don’t know if that would have mattered anyway. I’m kind of getting used to my oh-so-lovely roommate messing with my stuff.

[Static rises in the background.]

THEO

I’m giving the people what they want.

REMY

(lighthearted) Yeah, yeah, yeah. (contented sigh) So, uh … yeah. Uh, you heard it. Bowie and I, uh … uh, well, I-I-I don’t know what we are. But, um, we’re more than we were, I think.

THEO

(gleeful) Girlfriends?

REMY

(stuttering) Well, we haven’t talked about it, you know, and just, the labels and stuff, and … right now we’re just, uh … I-I don’t—I don’t know what we are. She couldn’t get the week of Christmas off, so she’s down in Florida with her family this week, so, uh … we’ll just, uh, we’ll—we’ll wait until she’s back to figure things out.

THEO

Aw, does that mean you two get to spend Christmas together?

REMY

(nervous laugh) I guess. Uh, m-my family might come up the weekend after, so, um … yeah, I mean, I guess we probably will.

THEO

(teasing) I’ll try to find some mistletoe for you.


REMY

(laugh) Yeah, I’m sure you will. (another laugh, then uncertain) I, uh … I-I don’t want to read too much into it. Um, it was—it-it was only that night. We didn’t get to see each other outside of work before she left, and I mean, she was—she was working crazy hours to get off early to go back to Florida so we—we didn’t even really get a chance to talk on breaks, and she’ll probably see Carter while she’s in Florida, so I (small sigh) … I-I don’t know, I just, i-it might not mean anything, I-I don’t—I feel like I can’t really say right now.

THEO

Right, because it definitely sounded like nothing when she burst into your cabin at midnight last week.

REMY

No, I’m just … I’m just saying I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

THEO

You’re just nervous, and it’s cute but also really stupid. She’s clearly in love with you.

REMY

(bashful) Theo, come on. We’re not even, like, dating officially or whatever.

THEO

(teasing) Right, and all that time you’ve known her doesn’t count for anything. (beat, then more sincere) It’ll be fine, you know. I’m just trying to say she cares. You don’t have anything to worry about.

REMY

(still nervous but warmth creeping into voice) Yeah, I … I guess I kind of know that. (clears throat, clearly trying to pull herself out of daydreaming about Bowie) Um, anyway, though, uh, we should probably get on with today’s topic. So, uh, Theo requested that we talk about intersections of identities today. He and another friend are going to share, I think. Right, Theo?

THEO

You know it! (beat, softer) It’s just that … well, not to damper the mood, but I think it might happen soon.

REMY

(softly) You mean like … you know?


THEO

(unsure, a little frustrated) I—yes? I don’t know. Like I said, maybe it’s just … winter. Maybe I’ll start hibernating.

REMY

That … doesn’t really sound like a thing.

THEO

Hey, you never know. If you told people about any of this, do you think they’d think I sounded like a thing?

REMY

Okay, good point, probably not.

THEO

Exactly. So … this could be nothing. Or something temporary. I just … (soft sigh) I think I should say my thing now. Just in case. (slightly annoyed) Although I’m going to let you play my friend’s recording, because they’re extremely impatient and going to cut the recorder if I go first.

REMY

(teasing) Can you really blame them?

THEO

(offended sound)

REMY

(laughing) I’m kidding, I’m kidding! I’ll, uh … go ahead and play their recording, um, and then you can go ahead. Sound good?

THEO

Sounds good. (beat, annoyed) I’ll just be here … waiting my turn.

[Theo’s voice, the wind, and the static fade into a shortened version of the theme music. When the music fades out—int. Remy’s cabin. The wind continues blowing in the background. Remy’s tape player clicks. Static can be heard, and then, after a moment, a light, friendly voice.]

STORM

Hi Remy! Hi everyone else listening! My name is Storm. I’ve been here a while, and listening to everyone’s stories has been so cool.

Also oh my god, can I just say, you and Bowie? Oh my gosh, you guys are just too cute! I

know you’re nervous about things, but you seriously have nothing to worry about.

Anyway, that’s not what this is about. Like I said, I’ve been hearing everyone else’s stories, so … I thought maybe I could tell you about my own story today.

So, first thing you should know about me is that I’m bisexual, genderqueer, autistic, Black, Cherokee and Blackfoot. I’m a lot of things, but most of all, I’m me. However, because I am a lot of things, I’ve faced a lot of hardships, too.

I’ve had people tell me I couldn’t possibly be autistic because I’m Black. I’ve had people tell me that I could never really know my sexuality because I’m autistic. I’ve even had people tell me that nonbinary genders are only a white thing.

Some people don’t like it when you’re a lot of things outside of their idea of normal, but I try not to pay them too much mind. Some people aren’t comfortable enough with themselves to let other people feel comfortable with themselves, and it’s a shame, but you just gotta fill up your own heart with enough peace and love to make up for it. You can only really be responsible for yourself, so you just gotta try to fill the world with compassion where you can.

I think out of all the communities I’m a part of, the autistic community has been the most accepting. Funny enough, the majority of the autistic people I know happen to be LGBT+. It seems to be really common in our little community of autie ghosties to be LGBT+—and you’d be surprised how many ghosties are hanging out on the internet! My working theory is that because we’re not as aware of social norms, we’re less likely to fall into hetero and cisnormativity. But that’s just a guess.

There weren’t really a lot of studies about this when I was around in the ‘60s. I only really found out about autism because the person who owned this place a few years before your landlord was a psychologist. She had some really neat books and magazines and stuff that I would like to go through, but she always seemed to be spooked whenever they ended up in random places. (realization) Oh, maybe why she moved out. Uh, Dr. Howard, if you’re listening to this, sorry for scaring you!

[Tape player clicks as Remy pauses it.]

REMY

Theo … why did I think you were the last person to live here?


THEO

Your landlord may have left out the details of how many people have been in and out of here in between when I died and when she bought it. Having people moved in and moving out after a month or two doesn’t exactly look good to prospective tenants. And then there are all the years in between, when it was just me and the cobwebs and dust … overall, it doesn’t exactly paint a picture of a warm, inviting home.

REMY

Well, I guess I should have figured that. Uh, anyway …

[Tape player clicks as Remy presses PLAY.]

STORM 

You know, she reminded me a lot of Windy—oh, this lady in our commune who would lead meditation circles. She was obsessed with The Monkees, and she especially liked Peter Tork. We would hang out afterwards and watch the TV show when it came on—we never missed an episode! Also, Peter Tork and the Devil … fantastic episode! Go check it out when you get the chance.

Oh, you know, I actually became comfortable with my genderqueer identity from one of our post-meditation conversations. We were talking about the nature of gender roles and gender in general. I brought up the fact that everyone seemed to be either male or female, but I had been struggling a bit with finding out where I fit in because I felt like a genderless blob. But then Windy said something to me that totally blew my mind—that I don’t have to be either! It was like a whole revelation for me that I didn’t have to pick one. I don’t have to be male or female? It was like the whole world opened up to me.

It was about that time I stopped using negative words towards myself, too. I wasn’t a blob—I was just myself! It was really freeing in a way. Finding positive words to describe yourself is an important part in accepting yourself!

I didn’t really have too  many issues in the LGBT community as a Black and Native person personally, but I have found some folks who got a little turned off by me excitedly rattling on about things I’m passionate about—one of my autsitic traits. But ladybug life cycles are just way too fascinating to not talk about. Oh, did you know that the number of spots on a ladybug relating to their age is a myth? You actually tell by how vibrant the shade of red on their shell is. If they’re a bright red, they’re a youngster! A paler red means they’re a little geezer. And another fun fact—every single ladybug is just all kinds of adorable! (beat, slightly uncertain) Wait, where was I? Oh, right, I forgot to mention I have ADHD, too.

But anyway, it’s kind of a shame that some folks don’t know how to deal with autistic traits when interacting with us. There’s also the whole issue of trying to make us more quote-unquote “normal” … especially the whole cure thing. Like, why would I want a cure from being myself? I’m not the only autistic person to feel this way, either. There are a lot of autistic people online who voice not wanting a cure, too, and also voice against ABA therapy.

Why not just accept people as they are? Why force them into a narrow view of normal? I mean, no one’s hurting anyone by being super excited about a topic, or waving their hands when they’re happy, or loving who they love, or being a different gender than expected. And maybe if someone seems a bit odd to you, think it over a little bit and be kind anyway. You might be missing out on a great friend, or even partner!

Oh, another thing that’s important too, to find people you can relate to and who accept you as you are. Whatever friends you make don’t have to be exactly like you in every way, but it doesn’t hurt to find other people in your community to hang out with, either. The knowledge that you’re not alone is a powerful tool. Just as important, if not more-so, as knowing who you are and loving yourself. And if you’re not quite there yet, that’s okay, too. Whatever friends you find will help you through that.

Be patient and loving towards yourself. You’ll figure it out. You don’t have a time limit, after all. Experiment! Make mistakes! Wear weird clothes and dance in the rain! Try a vegan twinkie wiener sandwich and instantly regret it! Uh, actually—actually, ignore that last one. Just don’t be afraid to try new things, and take your time figuring yourself out. And if you’re in a space where you can’t fully explore your identity yet, just know your time to explore freely will come soon.

And if you’re worried about having too many labels, think of it this way—a white, Christian, straight, cis, able, neurotypical male has a lot of labels, too. It’s just a lot of people don’t think about it because a lot of TV shows and movies show them as the default character. But there is no default when it comes to people. Humans are messy, complicated, beautiful beings just as varied—no, even more varied than the colors of the rainbow! 

Embrace it. There’s only one you in the world, and you know your own experiences. No one else can crack open that brain of yours to peek inside and tell you who you are, and sometimes it can even be hard trying to figure it out yourself. But everyone eventually comes into their own. In the meantime, just enjoy the journey and try not to force the destination.

Wow, that’s a lot of information, but we just barely scratched the surface! There’s a lot more to my story, but hopefully you enjoyed hearing just a small bit of it. I’m really excited I was able to share it and meet some of you guys, even if you’re just hearing my voice. Anyway, thanks for listening! Good luck, Remy and Bowie! Bye!

[The tape player clicks as Remy presses STOP.]

REMY

Wow. Uh, Storm, I really, really liked what you said about labels. I think that’s a really good perspective—um, you know, that everyone has labels, it’s just that society thinks some are normal and some aren’t. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts sometime, um, especially as someone who (uncertain) seems to be a little older than some of the other ghosts here?

THEO

Oh, trust me … they’ll tell you all about it next time you leave your recorder unattended.

REMY

That would be really cool, actually. (beat) Okay, uh, so … are—are you feeling up to telling your story? Like, no pressure if you’re not.

THEO

Of course. Now … (softly clears throat) Dim the lights to set the scene.

REMY

(amused) No one can see the lights.

THEO

You and I can.

REMY

Okay, fine, I’m turning my computer brightness down. How about that? Is that dramatic enough for you?

THEO

Perfect. (beat, then he continues in a normal, conversational tone)

I don’t remember much of my life. There’s a lot of blurriness, sort of like … looking at an impressionist painting or trying to remember a dream. There’s something that just feels like home, in a way, when you have on old ‘80s movies. But then again, probably every Gen Z kid would say that, so … that’s not really a helpful clue for anything. 

Anyway … I know my family was Puerto Rican. So I’ll tell you about that and how (jokey tone) incredibly inspiring my story is.

As you know, it’s hard enough getting a job and keeping it being trans and gay in present day, and it was even worse when I was alive. And as you can imagine, being Puerto Rican on top of that made it even harder. I was extremely talented in not getting jobs and then never getting promoted. Hey, I should have put that on my resume: “Theodore Snide, latino trans dude, cashier and janitor extraordinaire. Works his ass off with no expectation of any reward.” (small sigh) I worked at the world’s tiniest Ultra Foods. Are those still around?

REMY

Um … I don’t think so.

THEO

Ah, well. Good, I guess. The bathroom at my store looked like it had been invaded by a party of Taco Bell connoisseurs, and it seemed like every racist, homophobic old woman had a goal to always come to my register. I don’t know when I worked there, but it must have been a long time ago. People liked to look at my dashingly handsome face and take that as all the information they needed. Unfortunately, they didn’t pick up on the dashingly handsome part and just decided I was uneducated and a bad worker. They also liked to make some truly genius assumptions on who I was because I didn’t look like the other guys working there. 

Let’s just say working with the general public was a special kind of hell. (snicker) I guess those people that said I was going to Hell for being gay were right, in a way. Do you think working in customer service is a good enough substitute for my allotted time in Hell?

REMY

(slight laugh) That seems fair.

THEO

See, you get it. Anyway. I already had to worry about people being racist, and then on top of that, I had to worry about them being transphobic or homophobic. Not that I couldn’t handle them—I know you can’t see me, but if you could, your mind would be blown by how big my biceps are.

REMY

(disbelieving) Yeah, I’ll—I’ll take your word for that. 

THEO

Just don’t Google me, you can’t trust what evidence Google might show you. You know how untrustworthy technology is.

REMY

(giggle) Well, now I’m thinking you might have been around a long time before the ‘80s.

THEO

Are you calling me a boomer? Seriously? You have got to start working on your insults. (beat, continues in conversational tone)

So anyway. I handled those strangers who thought they knew everything about me and took it upon themselves to educate me on how ridiculous I was for being another ethnicity and a different gender than they wanted to be me. But I’ll admit it … it was a little tougher when it came from the very few obviously queer people I met who told me to go back to where I came from, or people who looked just like me calling me basically every slur in the book. I always thought it was silly when people of one marginalized community would pick on other marginalized groups, but hey, what can you do? I tried to, well, educate them on how incredibly small their brains had to be to think there was some issue with me being latino or trans or gay, but I guess common sense isn’t good for customer satisfaction.

I wish I had some incredibly inspiring story of how I dealt with family members who rejected me for being queer, or how I handled queer friends and partners who didn’t like me being Puerto Rican or even trans, but … alas, I do not. Sometimes it’s more important to not get kicked out or beaten up than to educate your friends and family.

And because apparently life didn’t think things were hard enough with me being trans, gay, and latino, it was also nearly impossible to find spaces that felt accepting and safe. I can guarantee I didn’t live in a big city, but even if I had, I know there would still have been queer people harassing me for my ethnicity or latino people harassing me for my sexuality and gender. Definitely a win-win scenario, as you can imagine.

If anyone ever wanted to do research on what aliens would hypothetically feel like if they got stuck on earth, they could have just visited my house. It took my parents approximately fifteen centuries to understand anything. I mean, not really, but if time has no real meaning now, why should it have had any then? Anyway, growing up in a latino household, you’re taught that the man is the head of the household, and anything he says goes. He controls finances, where you go, what you see, how you live your life … everything. (small, wry laugh) The toxic masculinity is really popping out, isn’t it? If you were a woman, or if people thought you were a woman, you were expected to submit to men. So imagine how insane it was for my parents when their quote, “daughter,” said, “Sike guys, I’m a dude and I’m not following all that patriarchal BS.”

(more reflective) Looking back, I think religion is what kept my parents so locked in a mindset of what was natural and unnatural for a while. Religion is pretty important to the latino community, so obviously, people buy into the whole lie that homosexuality is a sin and being transgender is a sickness or caused by a demon or something. Church went from being just a normal part of my week to being its own kind of hell. (small laugh) Between that and cashiering, I really think I’ve done my Hell time.

Of course, I did eventually find my little pocket of loving people. My found family, you might say, if you want to be poetic. Over time, I met a lot of people of various faiths who accepted me and other people like me, and latino people who were gay and trans and comfortable with all their identities, and queer people who saw me as just as much of a person as they were. If you want advice, or want to learn from my story or whatever, I’d say that was an integral part of my process. Seeing other people who identified like me and looked like me being able to just be comfortable as themselves helped me see that I’d get there someday, too.

Not to get too deep for everyone, but it also helped me to see that you can’t really paint whole communities with a broad brush. I can’t say that being latino or being religious makes someone inherently transphobic or homophobic, or that all queer people are going to be racist, or anything like that. It’s all based on the individual and whether or not they lack the common sense to see that there’s nothing bad about it. Sure, certain things like being raised in a culture of toxic masculinity or homophobic beliefs or racism can make it easier for you to be prejudiced, but there are always people who push back against that. They realize that those beliefs are wrong and that we’re just people, just like anyone else. 

So I guess, to wrap up this nice in a little full-circle moment, you could say maybe my story is inspiring. Because I did push back against those beliefs to be who I was. And what’s more inspiring than that? People like me risk everything to be ourselves. And that’s pretty damn brave, if you ask me.

So … that’s my story. The lights can come back up, and I do expect a short round of applause.

REMY

I love you, but I’m not applauding. But, uh … all jokes aside … it is inspiring, Theo. I might not relate to being latino or trans, but hearing you talk about being rejected, or even just the fear of being rejected, is something that so many of us go through. Especially people who are part of multiple marginalized groups.

THEO

See, you get what I’m saying. (beat, then a long, slow sigh) Well, that was a lot, wasn’t it? I know I like talking but phew, I haven’t gone on like that for a while.

REMY

I mean, you talked for a pretty long time the other night when I was asleep.

THEO

True! There’s just something about the night that makes me feel more awake. But … I think I might need to go now—just for now. I’ll be back.

REMY

Okay. Do you swear?

THEO

(smirk in voice) When have I ever lied to you?

REMY

Hey, I’m serious.

THEO

Yeah, yeah, I swear. Now let me go have my spiritual nap. And by the way, chill out about Bowie. It’s all gonna be fine, and I bet Jack will back me up on that.


REMY

(slight laugh) Yeah, I’m sure he will. But seriously, go—go rest up. And … thank you for telling your story.

THEO

Oh, Remington. That was just a warm up.

[The static peaks up before fading out.]

REMY

Uh … that’s not my name, but … okay then.

So, I think Storm and Theo covered everything pretty well, um, so I’ll just end it here. The only group I can really think of that I’d say I’m a part of other than the queer community would be the chronically ill community. I, um, haven’t really talked about it, but I have pretty bad chronic pain from fibromyalgia and a disease called endometriosis, but … I—I haven’t really gotten harassed for that. Um, the only thing would be that—you know, when I go to doctors and stuff, um, sometimes they might treat me differently because I’m queer, or, uh, they are stuck in these really, um, heteronormative mindsets and insist that I will definitely want biological children even when I tell them my insides try to murder me every month. But, uh … that’s—that’s a long story and like I said, I—I think Storm and Theo got everything pretty much covered, so. 

Thanks for listening to today’s episode. Uh, tune in next week for our final episode of the season. Uh, Bowie will back by then, and, uh … like I said earlier, I don’t know what we’re doing for Christmas, but … hopefully we’ll have a cool episode for everybody. 

If you want to chat in the meantime, reach out to me on Twitter at tsss_pod, Instagram at spookysapphicstoryteller, or by email at spookysapphicstorytellerpod@gmail.com. 

All right, well, I will talk to you all next week. Bye!

[The wind and creaking fade out and the theme music plays.]

///

The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Sharealike 4.0 International License. Today’s episode was written, directed, and produced by Emily Walker, with contributing writers Sebastian Perry and Kiki Willows. Remy Stanford was voiced by Emily Walker, Theodore Snide was voiced by Sebastian Perry, and Storm Goodman was voiced by Kiki WillowsWinter weather SFX adapted from cgiFox9 on freesound.org. 

TRANSCRIPT || Episode Thirteen

THE SPOOKY SAPPHIC STORYTELLER: Episode Thirteen

REMY

Hi everybody. Thanks for joining me for another episode of The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. This is your host, Remy Stanford.

[Voice fades into theme music.]

[As the music fades out, int. Remy’s cabin. The sound of wind fills the background, and every now and then a low creak can be heard, like the wood frame of the cabin is shifting in the early winter weather.]

REMY

So, um … you all heard about Theo last week. It’s … (deep breath that turns into a sigh) I don’t know, it’s kind of a lot to process.

[As she finishes speaking, static grows and peaks behind her voice.]

THEO

(teasingly annoyed) Stop talking about me like I’m dead. Well, I am dead, but … you know—more dead.

REMY

Well, what should I be doing? Pretending everything is fine?

THEO

I mean … yeah? Ignorance is bliss, right?

REMY

Uh … that doesn’t really apply here.

THEO

Denial, then?

REMY

Uh … yeah, sure. (slow, deep breath) So, um, are you … you’re—you’re feeling a little bit more … here today, right?

THEO

For the moment. I’ll probably, you know, go radio silent in a few minutes.

REMY

(softly) Oh. Okay.

THEO

(gleefully teasing) But while I’m here … can I just say, for all our lovely listeners, how adorable you and Bowie were last week? I kind of felt bad for giving you a breakdown, but if that’s what happens every time, well. Maybe I should do it more often.

REMY

(not in the mood) Hey, not that again. We just got back to normal. Leave us be.

THEO

Right, so I guess I must have imagined the way you guys were cuddling on the couch.

REMY

(taken aback, stuttering) We didn’t cuddle! It was cold and I was crying because I was very concerned about you, so … yeah, we shared a blanket, but that’s—I wouldn’t really call that cuddling.

THEO

(sing-songy) Whatever you say. (abruptly serious, like he’s noticed something Remy can’t see or hear) Oh. I think I might … go for now. I’ll talk to you later, okay?

REMY

(anxious) Do you promise?

THEO

Absolutely. You can’t get rid of me that quick.

[The static pops and fades, and Remy lets out a sigh.]

REMY

Uh … okay. I guess we’ll, uh … talk later? (clears throat) Uh, anyway. Today we’re talking about being queer and religion.

[Her voice and the wind fade into a shortened version of the theme music. When the music fades out—int. Remy’s cabin. The wind continues blowing in the background.]

REMY

So, as you all know, I grew up in a very conservative, fundamentalist Christian environment. Now, I know many people will be coming from a lot of different backgrounds, but I’m hoping you’ll be able to relate, even if our backgrounds are somewhat different.

Even if you put aside the fact that I was gay, growing up in that kind of environment was really hard. The rhetoric I was taught basically said you never question men, women are created for men’s pleasure and baby-making, it’s your job to teach people so they won’t go to Hell, your worth is very wrapped up with your virginity, your body is your enemy, your thoughts are your enemy, any pleasurable feelings in your body are bad, you can’t trust yourself because your heart is deceitful … etcetera, etcetera.

(small laugh) It was a lot. I feel like from a pretty young age, I learned to not listen to my body and oftentimes my own thoughts. By the time I was four or five, I was already dealing with pretty bad anxiety and OCD. But … I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. I thought my obsessive need to pray and constant guilt were good things that made me a better Christian or less disgusting to God. My real, rational feelings that told me not to trust certain people, or that told me I was attracted to girls … those were things I couldn’t trust. And I didn’t for a long time. I repressed them and ended up getting abused and tried to like boys until I was twenty.

I don’t remember really any specific sermons about gay people—um, the closest I remember was the morning after the Pulse shooting. At the time, I lived about an hour away from where it had happened, and … (sigh) the whole thing was incredibly confusing to process. I know a lot of people felt that way for a lot of reasons. For me, I didn’t really know I was gay yet. I had that gut feeling that maybe I wasn’t straight, but I had been working really, really hard to ignore it or just outright deny it. I’d also been told that being gay was a sin and that gay people were going to hell. 

I remember feeling this weird mix of confusion, fear, and heartbreak as the pastor that morning said that what had happened was tragic and should never happen to anyone, but then added that the situation was worse because the victims couldn’t possibly be Christians and were damned to Hell.

Looking back, I know how toxic that kind of thinking is. But at the time, I didn’t understand that. My OCD was focused almost completely on being a, quote, “perfect Christian,” and I was terrified that all these people had gone to Hell and that no one had helped save them—and I was terrified that I would be just like them.

I left the church when I was eighteen because it was really, really bad for my mental health. It’s taken years for me to unpack all the harmful theology I was taught and to figure out what I believe—and, honestly, I’m really still figuring that out. It’s been kind of insane looking at how different what I was taught was compared to what Jesus taught. I was never really taught about love, unless it was to (annoyed) “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I think that—

[The sound of static rises. Remy stops for a moment, listening.]

REMY

(hopeful) Theo?

TANNER

(vaguely annoyed) Hello? Hello?

REMY

(caught off guard) Oh—uh, hi! Um, are you, uh … sorry, what—what was your name?

TANNER

Tanner. I’ve been trying to get this thing to work for a while. It’s pretty old, you know. Might be easier if you used something that wasn’t out of the 1980s.

REMY

Oh, um (small laugh) … I hadn’t really thought of that. I mean, Theo never mentioned it, so …

TANNER

(wry laugh) Well, I’m not Theo.

REMY

(nervous laugh) No, I—I guess not. (awkward pause) So … Tanner? That’s you?

TANNER

That’s me.

REMY

O-Okay, um, well, did you, uh—did you have something you wanted to add?

TANNER

(amused) Why else would I be messing with your recorder?

REMY

Well, I don’t know, I mean, you guys messed with my keys the first few weeks I lived here, and I still don’t know what that was about.

TANNER

Oh. I wasn’t here then, but … it was probably an attention thing. Or boredom. We don’t exactly have a lot to do.

REMY

No, I—I guess not. So … let’s start out with an introduction, I guess, and you can just go from there. How long have you been here? Um, and what made you want to talk about this topic?

TANNER

Well, like I said, I’m Tanner, my pronouns are he/him, and I’m a white, queer, transgender man—or, I was. I haven’t been here real long, but who can talk about being queer without talking about religion? It’s kind of the root of a lot of the problems we’ve faced—maybe even all of them.

It’s not specific enough to say I’m Christian. Each denomination, each group of Christians, believes such different things, I have a hard time believing we can all claim the same religion. Some think trans people are an abomination destined to burn in Hell for all eternity, some think we’re wonderfully made in the image of God, and some just … don’t say much at all.

My family joined an ELCA church when I was five, and I stayed there my whole life. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a younger Lutheran denomination that formed in the late eighties. As far as Christians go, the ELCA is on the more socially liberal end—you know, not quite anarchist, but human rights are a thing people should have. 

But not everyone in the church feels like that. We almost split up in 2009 when the capital C “Church” decided to affirm queer clery and same-sex marriages. We didn’t make a big split, but quite a few individuals and congregations left. So even though the leadership affirms us, they don’t require the individual congregations to do the same. A church can choose not to hire—or “call,” as the church refers to it—trans or queer pastors, and the ELCA won’t do anything about it. It’s all in the name of “church unity” and the fear of losing more people than we already have. Honestly, the church is on its way to being more dead than I am if it doesn’t make some changes, but I’ll get to that.

Growing up, I didn’t have a huge connection to the  bigger church, and I didn’t know all that stuff in 2009 was going on. My congregation was one of those ones that just didn’t say anything one way or another about queer people. I didn’t hear anything bad, but I didn’t hear anything good, either. We just … didn’t exist. I didn’t even know I was trans until later, so as a kid, it’s not like I thought anything was missing. Later on, when I was figuring myself out, it left me with a lot of uncertainty about what would happen when I did come out. All these nice people I’d grown up around could do a complete one-eighty and decide they didn’t want me there anymore because they secretly hated queer people. Even after coming out, there was a lot I still didn’t know about how they felt.

The first church person I came out to was my youth director, and her reaction was … short. I sent her an email, and I could tell the warmth she usually had for me just … wasn’t there in her response. She got more used to it as time went on, though, and never outwardly said or did anything bad to me, even if her beliefs were still conservative. Other people were more welcoming to it. I got a few, “You’re so brave!” speeches from some well-meaning people. I was in college by then and wasn’t home that often, but everyone I saw after coming out changed names and pronouns, but other than that, it wasn’t one thing or another. I wasn’t bad, I wasn’t good, I just … was.

I guess I should count myself lucky. It could have been a lot worse for a trans kid in church. 

The one place I did get a fully positive reaction was at church camp. I started going to this one camp when I was thirteen and loved it so much I went every year after that and then worked there for three years. The first person I ever actually came out to in person was the camp director because I knew I couldn’t work my first summer still in the closet. She was actually a really awesome advocate for me and got me staffed creatively with different groups so I could be a cabin counselor even though my paperwork wasn’t changed to legally let me sleep in the boys’ cabin yet.

That first summer, I remember our chaplain ran up to my car on the first day and welcomed me with my new name without a second thought—no stumbling, no awkwardness trying to say that new name when he said a different name the year before, none of that. It just was Tanner.

The summer I legally changed my name, one of my best friends on staff arranged an affirmation of baptism ceremony for me to informally baptize me under my new name and recognize that change within me in the community—and that was something my home congregation hadn’t even whispered about.

I gave sermons at worship couple times over the years about being trans, and I was always pretty open about it with our kids when I was able to be. But it wasn’t always perfect. A few parents from one church that came to camp were really angry when their middle school kids came home and told them how I answered their questions about being trans and going through puberty a second time—on a very PG-level, mind you. Clearly, they were just mad that their kids knew kind and accurate information about trans people now, and the directors knew that when they were dealing with the complaints, so they didn’t get upset with me. 

But the next year, we had to have a staff training session on how to handle talking about quote-unquote “controversial topics”—like, when a kid says, “I think all gay people are going to Hell,” or, “My parents think Muslims are evil,” or things like that. Remember, not all Lutherans are left-leaning, and at camp, we had to peacefully interact with all sorts of people so they would keep sending their kids to us. If they don’t send us our kids, camp shuts down, and we don’t exist anymore, so keeping the peace was pretty important. 

Unfortunately, that session basically came down to, “Don’t talk about that.” But the staff didn’t like that very much. A lot of us felt like if we’re able to stop a bigoted belief from forming in a kid or at least expose them to an alternative and loving viewpoint from someone they look up to, like their cool camp counselor, we should stop that belief. Jesus didn’t call us to be polite and neutral. Jesus called us to take sides and enact justice in the world for the most marginalized people. And if a kid was in front of me saying terrible things about who I was, I couldn’t lie down and take it. I had to let them know that they were talking about me and that’s not an okay thing to say about someone else. They didn’t have to be throwing around slurs for their words to be hurtful. 

Don’t get me wrong—I loved that camp with my whole heart. It was a big part of what made me me. But it wasn’t perfect. There’s still things that need to be fixed and progress that needs to be made, and I loved camp so much that I was willing to point those things out over and over and work with them until we could make it happen.

I guess I need the church to understand that you can’t separate trans people from our transness. When you allow a transphobic person to be in the same space with a trans person and let them voice those beliefs and act on those beliefs, you haven’t welcomed everyone to the table. You’ve welcomed a bigot and pushed away a vulnerable trans person. You aren’t doing the work of caring for the least of these by tolerating those who seek to hurt the least of these. 

Don’t confuse niceness or politeness with love. Jesus flipped tables and ran merchants out of the temple with a whip because he loved God and believed that space needed to remain safe and sacred as a worship space to commune with God. Learn to flip some tables and keep your sanctuaries safe and sacred for queer people to find community and to worship God. Otherwise, all you’re going to have is merchants corrupting your space.

As for me, I wish I’d understood earlier that I was made in the image of God, and because of that, God could look like I did, or God could look like a disabled, brown trans woman, or God could look like a fat, black nonbinary person, or God could look like a sex worker, or God could look like a refugee, or God can look like any human person on earth because we are all made in that image of God. God isn’t just an old white man sitting on a throne in the sky, watching everything we do. God is anything and everything we can ever imagine and everything beyond that. God is limitless, and so humans are limitless.

My trans, queer self was a reflection of the divine, and that was beautiful.

[Tanner and Remy are quiet for a moment, with just the static and the wind filling the background before Remy speaks.]

REMY

Thank you so much for sharing, Tanner. It means a lot for you to be vulnerable about this. I know faith can be really helpful and healing for some people, but I also know for a lot of us, it can be really hurtful.

TANNER

Exactly. I wish more people had talked about that when I was … well, alive. That’s why I wanted to share my story today.

REMY

Thank you so much again. (uncertain) Um, I—I wanted to ask … is—is Theo around? Like, can you see him?

TANNER

(snort) Can you?

REMY

Uh, well, no, but that’s not how it works.

TANNER

He’s here, yeah. Just quieter than usual.

REMY

Oh. Okay. Um … (awkward) well, you know, uh, if anything happens, or you ever want to chat, just, uh, (small laugh) hit up my recorder, I guess. (another small, nervous laugh)

TANNER

I’ll be anxiously awaiting whenever you get something better than that piece of junk.

REMY

Uh … right.

[The static fizzes for a moment before fading out. Remy lets out a sigh.]

REMY

I know that this has been kind of a lot, especially for anyone else who has religious trauma—um, how are we all doing? I hate to say that I hope this was relatable, because I really hate how many people have gone through abuse or just really tough situations in general within religious groups, but … I hope it was helpful or reassuring, at least.

(another sigh) Honestly, I’m just … sorry, I’m—I’m a little tired. It’s been really tough lately. I know it’s not … I mean, I—I guess it’s not like it’s my job to fix things with Theo. That’s not what paranormal investigators do, right? We find ghosts and we listen, but we don’t … i-it’s not like we bring anyone back to life. If anything, maybe we help them pass on. But I’m not really a paranormal investigator in this situation, am I? I’m just … his friend.

[She pauses for a moment like she’s trying to collect herself before sighing and continuing.]

REMY

Bowie and I didn’t come up with anything we could do to help, other than maybe just … not talk to him too much. If talking on my recorder drains him, then … I mean, it’s not like I can stop him from talking, but I’m not going to push him.

(despondent laugh that turns into a sigh) Oh, god, everything’s a mess. Bowie and I, um … w-we’re fine, but I nearly screwed things up because of a nosy ghost living in my house, and now I have to figure out how to keep that ghost from leaving, and … I don’t know, I just, I really miss Jack, and I know Bowie’s been stressed with work and the breakup and everything and I just … (slightly muffled, like she’s rubbing her face) I don’t know. (clear again) Do you ever just get the urge to take a really long nap? Because that sounds amazing right now.

I have the weekend off, at least. I know you’ll be getting this on Monday, but as I’m recording this, it’s Friday. So … I don’t know. Maybe I’ll have a bubble bath tonight and bake something. It’s getting pretty cold out—we might actually get snow in the next day or two. I guess I could start putting Christmas decorations up. I don’t have a tree, but I have a lot of lights. That would probably be relaxing.

(small laugh) Sorry, I—I know I’m rambling, I just … I don’t know. I figured you guys deserve to hear what’s going on. Even if it’s just me not knowing what to do and blabbing about what self care activities I’ll do this weekend. I just wish I knew—

[The front door opens with a creaking sound, letting the noise of the wind in more loudly.]

REMY

(shouting) Hello?

[The front door closes, muffling the wind again. From the other room, Bowie’s laughter can be heard. As she begins to speak, her voice draws nearer, her footsteps thudding on the wooden floor.]

BOWIE

(laughing) Oh my god, oh my god, it’s me, calm down.

[Now in the same room, her voice is now level with Remy’s. Remy’s desk chair makes a small thudding sound as she stands.]

BOWIE

I’m so sorry, I thought you got my text.

REMY

(breathless) Jesus, Bowie. I thought I was about to get murdered.

BOWIE

(nervous laugh) No, no, no, you’re—you’re all good. No murders tonight. Uh, maybe you should start keeping your door locked?

REMY

I do, I just … I don’t know, maybe I forgot to lock it after I took the trash out.

BOWIE

(teasing) Well, you better be more careful, or you might not get so lucky next time, oooh.

REMY

(laugh) Uh … right. (a little flustered) Uh, so what was your text? Or—sorry, I wasn’t expecting to see you tonight, or, uh, this late. Is everything okay? (small laugh) You kind of look like that time you drank three espressos in one morning.

BOWIE

Oh. Um … (awkward laugh) uh, it’s just—I sort of wanted to talk to you about something?

REMY

(uncertain) O-oh, uh, did—did something happen?

BOWIE
(rushed) No! No, um, no, everything’s fine. (uncomfortable cough) It’s—well, I, I just, um … (pause, lets out a soft, groaning sigh) I know things have been kind of weird lately, and I know you know that, and I know we sort of fixed it, but … after I spent the night last weekend, it still—I mean, you felt it, right? Like—like there’s something, um … something different? With … us?

REMY

(softly) Like … in a good way or a bad way?

BOWIE
I don’t know, I … (frustrated sound) I can’t … I don’t even know what to say. I-I just—I just want to talk to you and—and hang out like—like we always do, and do what we always do, and I mean, it’s not like we can’t do that, but—but every time I see you, my mouth just runs and—and I can’t shut up (frustrated sound) … I mean, you heard me that night we recorded episode ten! It was like my brain shut off and I made things totally awkward … and I know it’s been weird since I broke up with Carter, but that’s not … I mean … (sigh) it started before that. It started way  before that.

REMY

(softly) What started, Bowie?

BOWIE

(frustrated inhale) I don’t know! I—when I’m with you, I just—I just want to be like how we always are, but then I get these, like, stupid butterflies in my stomach and all I can think about is—

[She makes a soft, surprised sound as Remy cuts her off with a kiss. There’s clumsy, stuttering breathing from both of them and the sound of fabric shifting as they pull each other close. The moment is awkward but tender, and it ends with the two of them letting out soft, breathless laughs.]

REMY

(almost laughing with nerves) Was that, uh—did you … that was okay, right?

BOWIE
(soft, fond laugh) Yeah, that was perfect. (another laugh)

REMY

(giddy laugh) It felt a little, uh … clumsy?

BOWIE

(teasing) You know … we could always try it again.

REMY

(another giddy laugh, this one more bashful) Yeah … yeah, let’s—let’s do that. Come on.

[The sound of two sets of footsteps leaving the room and the wind and creaking fade out as the theme music plays.]

///

The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Sharealike 4.0 International License. Today’s episode was written, directed, and produced by Emily Walker, with contributing writer Karsen Gromm. Remy Stanford was voiced by Emily Walker, Theodore Snide was voiced by Sebastian Perry, Bowie Byrd was voiced by Addigale Stewart, and Tanner Woodard was voiced by Karsen GrommWinter weather SFX adapted from cgiFox9 on freesound.org. 

TRANSCRIPT || Episode Twelve

THE SPOOKY SAPPHIC STORYTELLER: Episode Twelve

REMY

(speaking through a sigh) Hi everybody. Thanks for joining me for another episode of The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. I’m your host, Remy Stanford.

[Voice fades into theme music.]

[As the music fades out, int. Remy’s cabin. The sound of wind fills the background, and every now and then a low creak can be heard, like the wood frame of the cabin is shifting in the late autumn weather.]

REMY

(sigh) Well … things are pretty quiet here. Not completely, but, um … just … not like how they were.


Um, my—my recorder has picked up Theo’s voice a few times, but I don’t know, it’s (sigh) … it’s never been like he’s trying to talk to me, if that makes sense. Um, it’s … it’s more vague. Like he’s talking to other ghosts or … I don’t really know. And, uh, obviously we haven’t talked like we used to, um … it’s just … it’s been about two weeks since the last time I really heard from him.

(sharp sigh) I, uh … I don’t know. I-I guess I’m glad he’s there, but it’s just … I miss how it was. I mean, he’s still screwing with my equipment and editing, but it’s, um … (soft sigh) I don’t know. It’s—not the same.

[She takes a slow, steeling breath.]

REMY

Anway, um, things are pretty good with Bowie, at least, so … that’s been nice. I’ve been hanging out with her a little bit more, um, now that Theo’s gone quiet. That conversation with Jack last week was … (small, self-conscious laugh) obviously supposed to be private, but, uh … I don’t know. I guess in a way, it’s kind of good it was there. It sort of helped get things out in the open, so, uh … we’re okay now, I think, um, and things are—things are fine. We’re fine.

Um, I did get a message from another ghost for today’s episode, so that’s pretty neat, I guess. We’ll be talking about being LGBTQ and family today, and, um… I’ll play his message for you.

[Her voice and the wind fade into a shortened version of the theme music. When the music fades out—int. Remy’s cabin. The wind continues blowing in the background.]

REMY

So … I feel like I’ve mostly told you about my family, but … basically, I was obviously raised in a very conservative Christian environment, and my parents never really talked to me about gay people. I remember reading a religious kids’ book one time where two men held hands and the characters talked about how they were sinning, and I kind of think that’s the first time I ever talked to my family about it. I asked them why the characters were saying holding hands was bad, and my mom explained that some people have relationships with people of the same gender. I … honestly don’t even really remember how the conversation went or whether she really presented it as a good or bad thing. I mean, she didn’t say the book was wrong and it was actually totally okay to be gay, but … I guess I just don’t really remember any additional negativity.

Later, when I was a teenager and was starting to figure out that I liked women, I asked what my parents would do if I were gay. They told me they would still love me, but it would be hard and there would be therapy involved. Which, uh, looking back on, is … really scary. I think it was scary at the time, but I repressed everything so hard, I just didn’t really process it.

Obviously, if you’ve listened to past episodes, uh, you know that things did get better. I don’t exactly know what changed, except that by the time I was a senior in high school, they started to get more relaxed about things in general. Part of me wonders if maybe the whole thing ending with Cassie a few years prior kind of helped that happen—her mom had always been incredibly judgemental toward my mom and me, and I kind of think maybe my mom just tried to stay under her rader. (small laugh) Which, um, I—I can definitely understand. 

But, um … yeah. They started to become more relaxed, um, around a lot of things that I was taught. So I’m not sure where within all of that, um, they changed, but they definitely did. I really kind of think they had a certain view of gay people pretty much just based on the way other people in church thought, um, not really because they believed it but just because everybody else did, um, and when I graduated and existed more outside of that little conservative Christian bubble, they stopped holding on to those homophobic beliefs.

Like I said pretty early on in the show, when I first came out, they thought I was confused because of the abuse I’d gone through with my boyfriend. They didn’t reject me, but they also didn’t really embrace that part of me for a while until … I don’t know, eventually they just did. There wasn’t really a big, specific moment where things changed. I think they just … sort of got used to the idea of me liking women until it was something we could talk about and even joke about.

So … yeah. I can’t say it was a perfectly easy journey with them, but I know I had it so much better compared to other people. And since everyone’s journey is different, um, I wanted to share someone else’s perspective. So—here’s what our ghost friend had to say.

[Remy’s tape player clicks. Static can be heard, and then, after a moment, a deep, friendly voice.]

FINN

Testing, testing. Testing. (soft chuckle) Hopefully you can hear me. I was getting pretty bored of just talking to Theo, so I thought I’d talk to you. 

My name is Finn Ross. I am nonbinary, uh, though definitely male-leaning, and … I-I’m gonna say bisexual and pansexual. To me they—there’s a crossover, you know, they’re related, they get along. Um—yeah, that’s—that’s me, that’s how I identify.

There wasn’t really the term “LGBTQ” when I was growing up. It was, um, it was “gay” or “lesbian,” you know? Those were their own two distinct things, shockingly. Uh … when I was a child, I actually identified as a lesbian, not fully understanding the term. It was a great joke in my household.

The thing—the thing was, is that I was told that it was okay to be gay, but when it—when I finally came out, my mother was mostly okay, but my father had difficulty looking me in the eye for a while, um, which is a shame—we were quite close. But that’s the nature of the beast: he—he grew up making fun of trans people, making fun of … I-I remember this one instance where he went—he went to a bar with his friend, and—he was telling me this story, (sarcastic tone) it was a hilarious story. He went to the bar with his friend, and he—his friend was talking to this woman and started feeling her up, and he felt a penis. And then he beat the shit out of her. And my father would just tell this story and laugh when I was a child. And even at the time, I thought, “He hit this person. Why—why is this funny? There’s no slapstick, it was just a beating.” Um … and this … consciously, or subconsciously, taught me that it’s not okay to be gay, um, to be different. It was just something that my family in a lot of ways couldn’t relate to.

When I came out to my family, I was pretty young, uh, I was a teenager, I was sixteen. I came out as bisexual, um, which I would later change to pansexual, but when I was a child, um, when I was a teenager, i-it went fine.

Being bisexual has always been, like, a complicated thing—you’re always having this conversation of, um, “Am I gay, am I not gay?” because you feel attraction to both, because you feel, um, you feel a pull from both sides. And it waxes and wanes. Some months of the year, I am way gayer than others—I am much more attracted to men, and I-I—I don’t know why. It simply is. Um, and it’s those other months where I don’t feel like that that make me question the validity of even identifying that way, makes me feel as if, uh—(laugh) and I’ve been with—I’ve been with a number of men, you know, and yet, there’s still this doubt, like, (another laugh) I’ve slept with half a dozen men and yet it’s like, “Am I actually gay? Uh, uh, uh …” Well, yeah, idiot. But … it’s difficult to tell that little voice in your head what’s correct and what’s not when it’s just the two of you talking.

Coming out to my family, um, I think I was fortunate; it was a lot less painful than it was for a lot of other people. I had gone for a long walk when I was sixteen. Um, and … when I came home, I just knew, I just—it was like an epiphany in the woods, I just knew in the moment that the Lord, or the universe, or whatever have you, energy, being, informed me that, uh—that  I was bisexual, that I was attracted to both. And it made me have a big, goofy grin on my face. And, uh, my mom was like, “Oh! All right.” And, uh, well, my—my father was incredibly uncomfortable. He—he really didn’t know how to react. Um, and in that reaction, I was very fortunate—I wasn’t yelled at, I wasn’t thrown out of the house, I wasn’t, uh, bullied or asked to change. He recognized that it was, um, true, but in that moment, a rift was created, and he didn’t know what to do with this feeling of uncomfortableness within himself. 

I was fortunate that as time went on, um, we reconciled. I never brought any men home. I never felt comfortable. 

Claiming nonbinary has always been difficult, but when I was a kid, I really wanted to wear dresses, I really wanted to glam myself up, and let’s face it, I mean, male—male-based clothes are, uh—they’re just super comfortable, so they’re easier to default into. Um, but I liked feeling pretty, I liked wearing eyeshadow, and experimenting with that when I was a kid was like, was actually, “No, no, no, no, you’re not allowed to do that, you are not that, you are not allowed to do that.” So that was hard—to find how I expressed myself, especially because I was forced to live at home my whole life. It was really hard to find ways to sneak off and express myself, to go off and try wearing makeup, go off and strut around wearing a small, (smile in voice) skin-tight, flirty little outfit.

Uh, my sister in recent years came out as bisexual, um, to me and me alone. That was really nice—to have someone in the family to insulate against them. We were always close, but it was nice to become even closer, this one thing that—this one thing that shielded up from the rest of the family, you know? This one thing we used and had that no one else in the other—in the rest of the family could relate to. 

In terms of a found family, I really take the comfort of my own queer brethren. I really appreciate, um, the scene in general. I started going to gender-performing clubs, uh, and learning that there’s a world, uh, beyond a drag queen—frankly, if I’m being honestly, I prefer the drag kings. It’s been nice to find a world where you can really be yourself and really express yourself, even if it’s only for a few hours in a week. 

Of course I wish my family understood better, I wish … I wish it hadn’t been such a fight to talk about gender and sex and who we’re attracted to. Because it’s all chaos, it’s all—you don’t get to choose any of this, it just sort of happens. You just gravitate to it and realize that it gives your brain serotonin and not doing it takes away your happiness, takes away the sunshine. So I do wish that my family understood better. But I’m also—I’m thankful they knew and it didn’t destroy my life, ’cause there’s so many horror stories. 

Well, I guess that’s all. You should set up the recorder more often, though. I can’t tell you how boring it’s been with just Theo! Don’t get me wrong—the guy’s great, but I can only take him so long. (soft sigh) Anyway. Talk to you later, I guess. 

[Remy’s tape player clicks, cutting off the static. The wind and occasional creaking continues in the background.]

REMY

Thank you so much for sharing, Finn. I really appreciate you being open and sharing all of that.

(speaking on a sigh) Um … and you know, um, I’m sorry, I know this is off topic, but, uh, just … if you, um—if you can hear Theo or see him or just—if he’s there—um, just … tell him I said hi.

[When there’s no reply, she sighs.]

REMY

Well, um, I—I guess that’s all? I don’t know. Ah, I don’t know. This is just so—

[Static peaks up, ebbing and flowing like ocean waves.]


REMY

(frantically excited) Theo? Theo, is that—are you there?

THEO

(fond) Long time no see, Remy.

REMY

(overwhelmingly relieved) Oh my god, Theo! Where have you been? Or—I know you’ve been here, but like, not exactly here here … what happened?

THEO

It’s, uh … well, it’s complicated.

REMY

Then tell me! Was it—it-it wasn’t because I was irritated with you for messing with my equipment and editing, right? Because I—I’m really sorry—I (sigh)—I mean, I still think we need, like, talk about it and have boundaries, but I—I was never exactly mad at you. Or, I mean, I-I guess I sort of was, but it wasn’t—I don’t know, it was like how you’d get annoyed at a sibling, you know? Like, you get over it really fast.

THEO

(quietly amused) It wasn’t that, but you’re welcome to keep thinking that if it means you’ll stop getting annoyed at me messing with your equipment.

REMY

(laughing a little) Dude, I just said we need to set up boundaries.

THEO

Yes, and I’m proposing that this area isn’t included in those boundaries. Also, you’ll have to tell that to everyone here, because it’s not just me.

REMY

Wait … what do you mean?

THEO

(obvious “duh” in his voice) You have a house full of bored ghosts. Do you really think it’s just me screwing around with your stuff?

REMY

(stuttery) I … I sort of thought so. I mean, you’re the one who’s talked to me so much.

THEO

Messing with equipment is a way easier way to communicate. Talking … uses a lot of energy.

REMY

Oh. Well, okay, that … sort of makes sense, I guess, but you still haven’t told me what happened. Where were you for the past two weeks?

THEO

Here. Just … less so than usual.

REMY

Wait. What do you mean?

THEO

(faltering) I, uh … well, I’m a ghost, Remy. And … unfortunately that doesn’t stop me from … decaying.

REMY

(dread creeping into voice) What does that mean?

THEO

I mean … it’s not like I was given a handbook on dead people when I died, but I don’t think we’re supposed to stay like this forever. I think eventually we … pass on or just sort of fade.

REMY

(quietly, realization hitting her) No. No. No, no, no, no, no.

THEO

And yours truly has felt a little … off lately. Like my proverbial battery is low.

REMY

(almost under breath) Oh, Theo …

THEO

Yeah. (long beat; when he continues, there’s a sort of sad smile in his voice) But hey, I’ve been wrong before. Winter’s coming, and I’ve always sort of felt weird around that time. Maybe that’s all this is. And even if it’s not … I don’t think it’ll happen for a while. You know. Whatever’s going to happen.

REMY

(voice close to breaking) How … how can you know that?

THEO

I don’t. It’s just a feeling. (beat) I need to go … I—I sort of still have that low-battery feeling, and … you know. I don’t want to speed things along, if you catch my drift.

REMY

When will you be back?

THEO

(melancholy fondness) I’m always here. Just quietly, sometimes.

REMY

I-I know, but … when will I be able to talk to you again?

THEO

(fading out) Soon. I promise. I just … need some rest.

[The static fizzes loud, peaking a few times.]

REMY

(anxious) Theo?

[The static peaks again before dying out.]

REMY

(shaky breath) Shit.

[She continues breathing shakily for a moment like she might be crying or close to it. After a moment, she dials a number, having clearly forgotten her microphone is still on. The outgoing call rings a few times as Remy takes unsteady breaths and sniffles. After a moment, the ringing sound is cut off as the recipient answers the phone.]

BOWIE

(brightly) Hey! How’s my favorite ghostbuster doing? Any updates on Theo?

REMY

(voice breaking) Um … yeah. It’s not, uh … it’s not what I was hoping for.

BOWIE

Oh—oh god, that doesn’t sound good. What’s going on?


REMY

I-I-I … I don’t—I don’t know. I mean, he’s here, but … I—I don’t know how long he’ll stay. (voice gives out on a sniffle)

BOWIE

(quieter) Oh man. That really doesn’t sound good. 

[Bowie pauses for a moment as Remy continues sniffling and vaguely trying to pull herself together. When Bowie continues, her tone is gentle with concern and overlaps with the sounds of Remy trying and mostly failing not to cry.]

BOWIE

(sympathetic sigh) Are—are you okay? I mean, obviously you’re not okay, but—is there anything I can do, or …? 

[A coyote howls in the distance. Ollie’s footsteps taps on the hardwood floor, and he whimpers and pants a little.]

REMY

I, um … I-I-I don’t—I don’t know? We were talking and he then just … (shaky inhale) he left so fast because he’s … um … I don’t know, I-I-I guess it takes a lot of energy to use the recorder, and … (sniffle, then a small, humorless laugh) I don’t know, I don’t understand what’s going on or how this works and—I-I don’t know. 

[The coyote howls again, and Ollie continues to whimper and pant. A train whistle sounds somewhere far away.]

BOWIE

Yeah, I … I guess I don’t, either. 

[Ollie’s footsteps make a soft tapping sound as he walks away. When Bowie continues, her voice is full of gentle concern again.]

BOWIE

Hey, do you want to come over? Or I could come over there. You just sound like you could use some company.

REMY

(sniffling, trying to pull it together) Yeah, um … yeah, yeah, you could come over and, um … I-I—I  don’t know. I don’t know what we can do, but … at-at least if he’s around, we’ll be able to hear him, if we’re here.

BOWIE

Yeah, that’s a good point. And maybe we can work on figuring something out. I mean, I don’t—I don’t think there’s much we can do if he’s going, but you never know. I’ll bring my laptop and see if we can do some research, if you’re up for it.

REMY

(sniffle) Yeah, um, th-that—that would be really good. (shaky inhale) Um … are you—are you sure you’re good with coming out here? I—I  know the drive is a little rough in the dark.

BOWIE

Yeah, of course. It’s not a problem at all.

REMY

(small, shaky) I owe you one.

BOWIE

(warm) Pssh, like you didn’t drive out here multiple times a few weeks ago with soup and ice cream and your dog.

REMY

(small laugh) Good point. (sniffle) Okay, well, uh … see you soon?

BOWIE

Yeah, I’ll see you soon, Rem. I’ll head out as soon as I grab my stuff. (self-conscious) Um … I should probably ask, um, would it be cool if I spend the night? It’s just that it’s pretty late, and … well, I—I know ghosts are usually more active at night, and … 

REMY

Yeah—yeah, of course you can spend the night.

BOWIE

(relieved) Oh, okay, sounds good (small laugh). Well—uh, see you soon, then. Hang in there, okay?

REMY

(shaky breath) Yeah … yeah. I-I’ll see you soon.

[The call ends with a beep. After a moment, the wind and creaking fade out and the theme music plays.]

///

The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Sharealike 4.0 International License. Today’s episode was written, directed, and produced by Emily Walker, with contributing writer Brendan Nickels. Remy Stanford was voiced by Emily Walker, Theodore Snide was voiced by Sebastian Perry, Bowie Byrd was voiced by Addigale Stewart, and Finn Ross was voiced by Brendan NickelsWinter weather SFX adapted from cgiFox9 on freesound.org. 

TRANSCRIPT || Episode Eleven

THE SPOOKY SAPPHIC STORYTELLER: Episode Eleven

REMY

Hi everybody. Thanks for joining me for another episode of The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. This is your host, Remy Stanford.

[Voice fades into theme music.]

[As the music fades out, int. Remy’s cabin. Static hisses and hums, fading in and out. As it fades a little, the muted sound of rain fills the background. Then, Remy’s voice.]

REMY

—talked outside of work, and it’s just—it’s so weird now, and I … (sigh) I just don’t know what to do.

[A second voice, tinny like it’s coming from the phone.]

JACK

Have you guys talked about it?

REMY

Uh … kind of? She texted me the next day and … (sighing through words) basically just said she just missed Carter and didn’t mean to make things weird.

JACK

(soft, almost laugh) Do you believe that?

REMY

What do you mean?

JACK

That it was just because of Carter.

REMY

I—I don’t—I don’t know. (sigh, whiny) I don’t know what to do, Jack. I just … I want things to be normal.

JACK

(fond/amused) They will be, dude. You just need not to  overthink it. If something happens, it happens. If not, well—then you know.

REMY

I guess. It’s just … I don’t know. Things are okay when we’re working, but I just—I feel like there’s a huge elephant in the room, and we’re just … tiptoeing around it.

JACK

I think you should talk to her about it. You know how Bowie is—she’s not going to get mad or be weird about it.

REMY

No, but I’ll come across as weird and it’ll just make things more awkward.

JACK

Well … then you’re just going to have to wait it out, I guess. (beat) How are things with the ghosts?

REMY

(sigh) Not great.

JACK

(laugh) What did Theo do now?

REMY

That’s what’s weird. Last week when Bowie was here, he didn’t show up at all … he messed around with my editing stuff, but he never said anything. And, uh … I haven’t heard from him since.

JACK

Wait, not at all? I thought you guys talked every day.

REMY

Yeah, we did, but … he’s just been really quiet recently. I mean, I’ve heard footsteps and stuff, so maybe that’s him, but … he hasn’t tried to talk to me.

JACK

Well … could you ask the other ghosts where he is?

REMY

Uh, I-I-I don’t know. They don’t normally—well, I mean, they kind of use Theo to facilitate conversations between us, uh, if that makes any sense?

JACK

Yeah, sort of. Maybe you could try it? The worst thing that happens is they don’t respond.


REMY

Yeah, I guess. One did leave me a message the other day, so I … I guess it’s possible. (sigh) It’s just been so weird. I don’t understand what’s going on and I just wish he would just talk to me and everything’s weird with Bowie … 

[The static grows louder, consuming Remy’s voice before fading again. For a long moment, all that can be heard is the rain. Then, Remy speaks to the listeners.]

REMY

(tired) Hi, everybody. Um … (humorless laugh that turns into a sigh) I hope everybody enjoyed last week’s nerd-out. Um, things have, uh … (sigh) they’ve just been a little bit quiet here. I haven’t heard from Theo in a little while, and it’s … it’s just been a little weird. (sad laugh) He drives me insane, but … I really miss him. 

Um, anyway, sorry, just, things have been quiet with him, but … I did get a message from a ghost named Frankie. So that’s cool. Um, they wanted to share some thoughts on labels, so I’ll, uh … just play that recording for you.

[Her voice and the rain fade into a shortened version of the theme music. When the music fades out—int. Remy’s cabin. The rain continues falling in the background. The tape player clicks on and static joins the background noises.]

FRANKIE

(timid but friendly) Hi—Remy and listeners. It’s nice to finally talk to you. (small, tiny laugh) Things were pretty lonely before I got here, and between you and Theo and any others ghosts passing through … it’s been a nice time. I’ve been here a little while, but it feels … almost like home. (warm) Please tell Bowie and Jack I said hi. Bowie seems like such a sweetheart, and from what I’ve heard about Jack, I wish I could meet him.

Anyway, um, I guess I should introduce myself. My name’s Frankie—uh, I’m not really sure how long I’ve been like this or when I got here, but … hopefully I’ll be here a while. I’ve heard some of what you’ve recorded, and I’ve related to so much of it, so … I was hoping I could talk to you and your listeners about labels. Uh, labels are something that have been a little complicated for me, and em, I thought others might be able to relate.

I—personally, I call myself queer, and I use they/she pronouns, uh, becuase I’m not quite dissociated completely from she/her, but also I feel better with they/them? (laugh) It’s complicated, it’s all … but it’s not at the same time, sometimes it’s simple, it’s … 

It’s funny looking back. I—I … the moments I realized I wasn’t straight, wasn’t cis … well, they didn’t happen at the same time. I knew I was queer when I was pretty young, or at least I had the idea of it even if I didn’t have the language for it—maybe nine or ten years old. I started to realize it around when I was first old enough to start really having crushes, you know? When I was thirteen I was sure I wasn’t straight, but I was also confused because when I was growing up, um, the only options I was aware of were gay and straight, and I didn’t—I didn’t quite land on either of them. The idea of bisexuality or—or any other label that deviated from those two ends of the spectrum … it was treated like something that wasn’t real, just a phase, all that, the—the  stereotypical reaction. It wasn’t until I was maybe fifteen that I started really accepting that no, this is real, I’m not really gay or straight, I’m just…I’m me, (laugh) whatever me is. Uh, and it was still a few years before I’d say it aloud, though.

And then with my gender identity, well (laugh). I was in my thirties. It so happened that the majority of my friends, by a pretty significant percentage, were trans or nonbinary. I had very rarely ever considered my own gender identity before knowing them. I’d occasionally felt … something, but I never really … sat down and thought too hard about it before having … (small laugh) so many conversations with them. The first time I poked at my own identity and took “they” out for a test drive, something just clicked. Um, it wasn’t a big to-do, it just very gently … settled into place, and I knew that was what I wanted. Who I was.

And I think—I think labels have a lot of power, and like anything else with significant power, they can be used for good or bad depending on who is in control of them. When someone gets to declare their own, when they get to apply it to themselves on their own terms, it can be an incredibly affirming thing. I-It’s telling the world who you are rather than the other way around. Sometimes labels can present a challenge—ask anyone who was labeled “gifted” in school and they’ll tell you—uh, and sometimes there are certainly reasons to reject them or the concept of them. But for me, finding the language to describe who I am was so empowering and had so much to do with me finally not only accepting myself, but starting to like myself.

And that said, the—the pressure to find the exact right label can be really overwhelming. Um, and I think—I think that probably has to do with why people agonize over it. I—I’ve seen friends brought to tears over the fear of applying the quote-unquote “wrong” label to themselves, because they were worried if it turned out to be the wrong one, they’d be guilty of, uh, of almost appropriation, if that makes sense. Or they were worried about having to go through coming out all over again. Coming out can be such a huge thing for some, whether because it’s scary or joyful or some mixture of both, so the idea of going through it all over again and re-assessing your own identity can be so daunting.

And … using labels in social situations … can present a challenge, yes. Um … sometimes it’s hard to know whether it’s safe to be out as one thing or another, depending on where you are. And, uh, d-dating, of course, well, that’s hard enough to navigate as it is, let alone when you’re worried or—when you’re worried about or wondering about what someone’s beliefs may be, whether they’re accepting or if they could possibly reject or judge you based on how you identify. And of course you don’t want to date those people anyway, but it still doesn’t feel good to be rejected and judged, no matter who’s doing it. Putting yourself out there for potential romance and potential heartbreak is such a vulnerable position to be in, and the anxieties around those possibilities are often so strong. It’s no wonder why a lot of people are very, very cautious. 

When it comes to me, my journey of figuring out my identity, the labels that apply to me, what I’m comfortable with, it’s all been fairly calm and quiet. Um, I never had to worry about my parents rejecting me or what most of my friends would think because I was lucky enough to be mostly surrounded by people who would respect me and do their best to use the right language, even if they didn’t understand my identity. But just because I had those advantages, and I certainly didn’t take them for granted, but it doesn’t mean there wasn’t still a lot of struggle, um, and, uh, and turmoil and frustration in the process of figuring myself out. Even though I felt externally supported for the most part, I still felt the internal struggle. That’s part of why it’s so important to, no matter how you personally feel about labels, validate people by respecting the ones they choose to apply to themselves. Even if you don’t think labels are good, there are others who find power and strength in them, and they often had to work really, really hard to get to the point where they felt okay using them. A quiet struggle is still a struggle, and you never know what someone went through to get to where they are today. 

Um … (nervous laugh) I think I covered the biggest things, but if you have any questions … just ask, I guess, and if I’m still here, I’ll do my best to answer. It was really nice to talk to you, even if you can’t see me. Um … give Ollie an extra treat for me.

[Remy’s tape player clicks, cutting off the static.]

REMY

(tired but warm) Thank you, Frankie. I—I really appreciate you sharing. And, um—well, if you’re still here, I … I don’t exactly have any other questions right now, um,  just, or not pertaining to the topic, but I—I was just wondering—uh … c-could you try talking to Theo? I-I don’t know if maybe … (sigh) I don’t know, I don’t know if maybe I bothered him? He, uh—well, he kept messing around with my recording equipment, and I—I got irritated with him, but I didn’t—I-I-I’ve never wanted him to go away. I—he’s like … god, I don’t know, like a weird, invisible roommate, or almost like an annoying little brother.

[Static rises for a moment before fading again.]

REMY

Uh … anyway. I don’t really have a lot to add to what Frankie said—my own journey with labels is really pretty short. Obviously, I sort of assumed I was straight growing up, but when I was in my late teens, I knew deep down that there was something off about that label. I think it was probably around the time when I was dating my boyfriend and had been trying to repress my feelings for girls for a few years that that feeling kept king of nagging at me. I didn’t really address it then because I didn’t really want to think about my sexuality, so I just … didn’t acknowledge it.

Once I did kind of let myself admit that I liked women, I used the label bisexual because … well, I just wasn’t really sure how I felt toward men, and it sort of felt safe, in a way. It felt like I was acknowledging my attraction to women without ruling out that I might be attracted to other genders. But … as you know, within a few months of starting to use that label, I began to really understand that I’m only into women.

Using the label “gay” wasn’t really difficult, but, uh, “lesbian” felt dirty for a long time. I’m honestly not really sure why. I don’t remember hearing a lot of negative things specifically regarding the word lesbian growing up, although … I’d definitely heard a lot of slurs specifically about lesbians or queer women in general, so … I don’t know, maybe that was what made me nervous about using that label.

I don’t really know how I got over that feeling other than just … sort of practicing saying that I was a lesbian. I’d say it to myself to test out how it felt, and it definitely felt right—I just had a lot of shame and internalized lesbophobia surrounding it. But saying it over and over again over time helped, and I think the sense of belonging I felt when I started seeing a gay therapist helped me to really begin to feel like who I was was okay.

[She pauses for a moment before letting out a sigh. When she continues, her voice is quieter and less upbeat.]

REMY

I … think that’s all. I’m just … sorry, I know I’m not super energetic today. I just—I’m kind of … I’m kind of tired. I miss having Theo around. I guess … I don’t know. He just helped make this place feel more like home.

(uncertain) Um … Theo? Uh, it’s—it’s me. I don’t know if you can hear me, but, uh—if you can … I’m really sorry if I bothered you. I—I didn’t—that wasn’t my intention, and I just … I don’t know, I just—I miss you, and I just want to talk to you about …  everything.

[Static rises for a moment before fading again.]

REMY

(sigh) Okay, well, uh … that’s—that’s fine, I guess. I’ll … just wait to see if he shows up. Eventually.

(falsely upbeat) Thanks for tuning in to The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. Next week, um, we’ll talk about family and being LGBTQ. Um, if anyone here in the cabin is listening, uh … I’d love to share some of your experiences, so, uh … just putting that out there. (sad laugh) My tape recorder is all yours.

But uh … yeah. Um, in the meantime, if you want to chat, connect with me on Instagram at spookysapphicstoryteller, Twitter at tsss_pod, or email me at spookysapphicstorytellerpod@gmail.com.

Thanks for tuning in this week. Sorry I haven’t been super upbeat, but hopefully next week will be a little bit brighter. Anyway. Talk to you all later. Bye!

[Remy’s voice and the rain fade out into the theme music.]

///

The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Sharealike 4.0 International License. Today’s episode was written, directed, and produced by Emily Walker, with contributing writer Caroline Mincks. Remy Stanford was voiced by Emily Walker, Jack Miller was voiced by Kevin Boodoosingh, and Frankie Oliver was voiced by Caroline Mincks. Rain sound effect adapted from dobroide on freesound.org.

TRANSCRIPT || Episode Ten

THE SPOOKY SAPPHIC STORYTELLER: Episode Ten

REMY

Hello there! Thanks for tuning in to The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. This is your host, Remy Stanford.

[Voice fades into theme music.]

[As the music fades out, int. Remy’s cabin. The muted sound of rain fills the background. Every so often, an owl can be heard calling out through the night.]

REMY

Just in case you haven’t been keeping track … it’s our tenth episode!

BOWIE

Hurray!

[Bowie blows a party horn and Remy lets out a giddy laugh.]

BOWIE

If I had confetti, I’d throw it right about now. Friends at home, you can throw confetti a-and send Remy a video, that would be cool.

REMY

(still laughing) Or you can just … imagine it.

[The two’s laughter overlaps for a moment before Remy continues in a warm but slightly more focused tone.]

REMY

Anyway, we’ve got Bowie here today to help celebrate.

BOWIE

And Theo, maybe. He’s been quiet so far, but we’re hoping he’ll pop in eventually.

REMY

Well, maybe you are.

BOWIE

Oh, pfft, come on, he’s nice!

REMY

(small laugh) You’re not the one who has to deal with him screwing around with your work.

BOWIE

Oh, let him have some fun. It’s kind of cute listening to you guys fight, though. (laugh)

REMY

(flustered) It—I wouldn’t say it’s cute, but … whatever you say. Um … Anyway. So it’s … yeah, it’s—it’s me and Bowie and maybe Theo and any other ghosts listening. (bright) And today’s episode is going to be extra special.

BOWIE
(teasing) Gee, I wonder why?

REMY

(giggling) Shhh!

[The two giggle before Remy continues with a slightly theatrical tone.]

REMY

Okay—and now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for … 

[Remy and Bowie both make a drumroll sound on the desk with their fingers.]

REMY

Today is our nerdy episode!

[Bowie blows her party horn.]

BOWIE

(excited) We’ve got homemade butterbeer! We’ve got a whole flowchart of superheroes that should have been gay! You can’t see it, but we’ve got Star Wars themed pajamas.

REMY

Ollie is even wearing a Captain America bandana.

BOWIE

Yeah, he is. (conspiratorial/teasing) Oh, you might not know, but your lovely host here is actually the world’s number one Steve and Bucky fan.

REMY

(self-conscious laugh) I am not!

BOWIE

(affectionate laugh) You are, and it’s totally adorable.

REMY

(even more self-conscious, bashful laugh) It is not!

BOWIE

(laughing, endeared) Whatever you say, whatever you say. Anyway, friends, sit back, relax, and get ready to listen to us ramble about our favorite queer characters and head canons for … a lot longer than we probably should. 

[Bowie giggles before blowing her party horn again.]

REMY

I’m genuinely regretting giving you that party horn.

BOWIE

I’m a simple woman. You give me a party horn, and I’m going to be as obnoxious as possible.

[Their voices and the rain fade into a shortened version of the theme music. When the music fades out—int. Remy’s cabin. The rain continues falling in the background.]

REMY

All right, so we’re going to try and stay … relatively organized so we don’t stretch this into several hours. We’ll do a mix of canonically queer characters and characters we think were queer-coded and characters who just should have been queer.

BOWIE

Oh, by the way, also everyone has their own headcanons, and if you don’t like ours, no biggie. We can all enjoy our own headcanons, even if they don’t match, you know what I mean?

REMY

Exactly. Oh, also, obviously there will be spoilers for different shows and movies and stuff, so if we start to mention something you don’t want spoiled … just skip forward some. (flips page, small laugh) Bowie wasn’t joking about having flowcharts, by the way.

BOWIE

I mean, duh. There’s nothing better than ranking every Marvel character by how queer they are and figuring out your top ten favorite worst examples of representation in the media.

REMY

(small laugh) Whatever you say. (flips page) Okay, so first we’ll talk about some of our favorite instances of real, actual, canonical queer representation. I feel like we have a pretty good list of canon queer rep, but it’s a lot of smaller roles. Oh, also, just a little sidenote, we got some really cool suggestions from you all, but we’re not going to be able to fit everything in here, so we’d love to discuss things in more depth on social media.

BOWIE

Yeah, totally! You can keep the conversation going.

REMY

Exactly. (flips paper) Okay, do you want to kick things off, Bowie? What’s an example of queer rep that you’ve always loved?

BOWIE

I mean, uh, the first thing that comes to mind is San Junipero.

REMY

(smile in voice) Agh, you stole my answer!

BOWIE

(audible smirk) Hmm, I knew you were going to say that. Maybe because it’s such a women-loving-women classic.

REMY

Are you saying I have basic taste?

BOWIE

(almost laughing) No! No, I’m just saying you and thousands of other lesbians like that Black Mirror episode.

[Remy makes a sound of amused protest, and Bowie laughs. She’s still laughing a little when she continues.]

BOWIE
I’m—I’m not criticizing, seriously. It’s, like … still one of my favorite things to watch when I just need to see something cute.

REMY

Yeah, I’ve watched it enough that I can quote pretty much the whole thing.

BOWIE

Oh, yeah, totally—me too. I think what I like about it compared to other queer media is that it was the first time I saw two women just … get to have a normal love story? Like, obviously there was all the weird Black Mirror stuff, but the plot wasn’t super focused on homophobia. It played a part in the overall story, but honestly, for the most part, it was just … two women falling in love and building a relationship. And also, we actually kind of got a happy ending, so that was cool!

REMY

That’s like … maybe one of three or four shows or movies where I can think of that actually happening?

BOWIE

Yeah, I was kind of shocked. I mean, they’re technically both dead, but … also sort of not, so … eh, whatever, I’m just going to count it as a win and take it.

REMY

(teasing) I mean, considering it looked like gay heaven, I’m not complaining.

BOWIE
(teasing back) Well, technically you can’t prove they were all gay, but also … you can’t prove they weren’t!

REMY

(giggle) Right? (flips page) Okay, since you stole my answer, um, I’m going have to say … (sucks air in with a hissing sound) People are going to judge me for this one, but … one of my favorite examples of representation would be It?

[Bowie lets out a laugh in the background as Remy continues.]

REMY

Kind of the book, but mostly the new movies.

BOWIE

I get that, I think. Um … it’s like a weird example right off the bat in that the queer storyline is … well, not exactly subtle, but definitely not super in-your-face, but … I-I-I definitely know what you mean.

REMY

Yeah, like … okay, so I watched the newer movies before I read the book, so I think that had a big influence on how I felt about it? Also, disclaimer about Stephen King and the book … there’s some really uncomfortable, blatant homophobia in the book that was just really unnecessary, as well as just, um … kind of rapey things in general, so … I’m definitely not praising those aspects of it. It’s an interesting book, but it’s definitely not perfect. And like I said anyway, I found the movies before I read the book, and that was what I initially really got into. I really connected with Richie and Eddie—uh, Richie moreso in the movies and Eddie moreso in the book.

BOWIE

Oh, I didn’t know that. What was your favorite thing with book Eddie? Oh wait, let me guess, the part where he thinks that he really hates it when Richie calls him Eds, but he sort of likes it too? Because ughh, that killed me.

REMY

(small laugh) I mean … I don’t know if I have a favorite part, but I definitely remember squealing when I read that part. 

BOWIE

Aww yeah. Richie’s nicknames for him were so, so cute. I also specifically remember him calling Eddie “Eddie, my love” and then Stephen King having the gall, the audacity to say they weren’t queer-coded? Come on.

REMY

(giggling) I know! People can just … tease and stuff, but considering how many times Richie called Eddie nicknames in like a pet name sort of way, and with all the other context … like, it was definitely very gay. 

BOWIE

(emphatic) It was so gay. Like, I remember even Jack said they read as queer when you were talking about the book with him, so …

REMY

Oh, right! I forgot about that.

BOWIE

(content sigh) Ah, yeah. (beat) So—that’s the book, but how do you feel about the movie? Since you just said that’s what you were initially interested in, so.

REMY

Uh, well, I just … I don’t know. I was out by the time the second movie came out, which was where internalized homophobia was kind of a main theme for Richie. My internalized homophobia was a lot better than it had been, but it was obviously still there, and … I don’t know, seeing Richie struggle throughout the movie with the fact that he liked Eddie but hadn’t ended up with him was just … weirdly comforting, in the way things are comforting when you feel like they’ve captured exactly how you feel. Like, it probably sounds kind of stupid, but the whole scene where Pennywise is chanting at Richie that he knows his “dirty little secret” was a perfect representation of how I felt like other people looked at me.

BOWIE

(sucks breath through teeth) Aw, yeah, that’s a rough part. But honestly, I would agree … I—okay, to be fair, I don’t think I’ve had that feeling in general as often as you’ve said you have, but I know in certain situations, I’ve felt like … like people can just look at me and somehow know? (quieter) Guh, I don’t know.

REMY

That’s exactly what I mean. And the fact that that was such a huge fear for Richie that they literally had Pennywise embodying it was … I don’t know, it just kind of made me feel seen.

BOWIE

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I like what you said about them using Pennywise to embody that sort of fear … I think horror can be both, like … super terrifying, obviously, but also really kind of comforting in a way when our fears are exposed and then really amped up like that.

REMY

Yeah, I think part of it being comforting, uh, was just like how much I related to it, but it was also definitely an escapism thing with the rest of the movie. It’s—(small laugh) honestly a pretty goofy horror movie, but I just really love it. Just—a warning to anyone listening, if you haven’t watched it and decide to, uh, just a heads up for a pretty graphically violent scene at the very beginning of the second movie with a gay couple, and then also another pretty graphic domestic violence scene toward the beginning. I really like both the movies, but I typically skip those scenes. They just don’t really add anything for me and just usually end up bothering me more than anything.

BOWIE

Ah, yeah, those caught me off guard the first time I watched it. (flips page) Oh, another good show was I Am Not Okay With This and Everything Sucks! (flips another page) Oh, I didn’t know you had One Day at a Time on here … (flips another page) Remy, you’ve got a really good list here.

REMY

(bashful giggle) Yeah, I was kind of surprised I was able to, like, list as many as I did. I did think it was interesting as I made the list that so many of the shows have such a small following or got cancelled after the first season. And that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with small shows, but … I-I guess it’s just kind of sad that I can’t think of more really mainstream, popular shows that have a main queer character, at least not ones with really good character arcs. I mean, there definitely are some out there, but it feels like so often their story is just so completely focused on internalized homophobia or homophobia in general that … sometimes it’s just more painful than fun to watch.

BOWIE

Yeah, or you have, like … I don’t know. Oh! (snaps fingers) Characters like Deadpool and Valkyrie, who are canonically pansexual and bisexual, but it’s not ever really even alluded to in the movies. So yeah, technically they’re popular, mainstream queer characters, but it’s not like most people even know that about the characters.

REMY

Yeah, exactly. (pause) Okay, you wanna move on to our non-canon queer characters and the lovely superhero flowchart?

BOWIE

Ooh, yeah! Let’s do that. I need to watch you go on one of your Steve and Bucky rants again.

REMY

(small laugh) I don’t go on rants about them, I just … okay, I guess I do, but I just feel very strongly about them.

BOWIE
(teasing) Oh, I’m very aware, Remy.

REMY

(laugh, teasing back) Well, you’re worse about Finn and Poe.

BOWIE

(offended, adamant) What! They were so clearly into each other! And then they gave Finn a weird, completely undeveloped relationship with Rose for one movie, and Poe got some random half-assed love interest in the last movie? I’m sorry, but all of that felt like a smack in the face. Like, oh my god, you’re scared queer characters won’t sell, Disney, but those characters—they mean a lot to some of us.

REMY

(smile in voice) I know, I know, and you’re exactly right and you should definitely say it. (pause, continues in a more formal tone) So this is where we get extremely nerdy—(small laugh) uh, with Marvel first, I guess, because Bowie’s Star Wars rant will be a lot longer than what she just said.

BOWIE

Can you blame me?

REMY

Absolutely not. (giggle) So … the only canon queer character we’ve really gotten this far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are Valkyrie, and kind of Deadpool if you want to count him, although he’s not really so much a part of the MCU. But a lot of the other characters have always read as queer to me.

BOWIE

(excitedly teasing) Stucky rant coming in three, two, one …  

REMY

(laughing) No, not yet, I’ll save that for in a few minutes. I was actually going to bring up Captain Marvel. I mean, the whole movie was about Carol Danvers and her (mocking tone) “gal pal” Maria Rambeau and how they’d been separated? I mean, okay, it wasn’t—it was about more than that, obviously, but that was a huge chunk of the movie. And they were so gay!

BOWIE

It’s hard not to look at that as canon just because it feels so obvious.

REMY

Right? Like, the way Maria talks about Carol and how she was family was like she was talking about her girlfriend or wife. They obviously had really deep feelings for each other—especially considering Maria freaking went on an alien ship with basically no knowledge of what was going on just to help Carol. Not that friends can’t have a strong bond and be self-sacrificing, but their relationship just felt like so much more than that. I think that was especially obvious with Maria’s daughter clearly being really close to Carol. It really felt like watching two people who were in love and basically had a kid together, but couldn’t legally be together because it was the 90s.

BOWIE

Also, one could argue that Carol Danvers is a stereotypical lesbian fashion icon.

REMY

(laugh) Oh, trust me—I noticed every single snapback and flannel.

BOWIE

And don’t forget the short hair in the last Avengers movie.

REMY

(small laugh) Right? Like … (small sigh) I don’t know, it just—it felt like they did so many things to make her read as queer without ever saying anything about it. Which was great but also extremely frustrating, and if they don’t let her be openly gay in future movies, I will personally fight the writers.

BOWIE

As any reasonable person would. (audible smirk) While you’re there, do you plan on fighting them over the end of Avengers: Endgame?

REMY

Ughhh, yes, absolutely.

BOWIE

(even more audible smirk) Well, do you care to elaborate?

REMY

(small laugh) I know you’re teasing me, but I don’t care because Steve is so bisexual and so in love with Bucky! Like—literally his whole story has been about his relationship with Bucky. In the first movie, it was about him losing Bucky. Then in Winter Soldier, he literally helped Bucky remember who he was just by quoting a promise Bucky had made more than seventy years ago. And then in Civil War, he fought some of his best friends and became a fugitive to protect Bucky. Like, I’m sorry, you can’t look at all that and then tell me there wasn’t something there between them. And that’s just talking about Steve. Bucky was brainwashed and couldn’t remember anything, but then hearing a promise he’d made to Steve snapped him out of it enough that he saved Steve? And then when Steve asks him to prove he’s him and not in the whole Hydra trance in Civil War, he starts talking about these little details, like Steve wearing newspapers in his shoes. I just—I don’t know, have your own opinion, but no one will ever convince me they didn’t love each other as more than friends.

BOWIE

Oh, I’m very aware and honestly, I absolutely accept that headcanon, even if I’m not quite as invested in that one as you are. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Peggy Carter was a fantastic character and … really, I absolutely loved her. But after watching Steve fight through every Captain America movie and pretty much every Avengers movie to help Bucky in some way … I don’t know, the ending of Endgame just felt kind of weird. I liked that he got a happy ending, but the fact that he had spent basically his whole life fighting to get Bucky back and then just sort of threw that away … did not make any sense to me whatsoever.

REMY

Yeah, it genuinely irritates me and I could rant about it for a very long time, but … yeah, I think you got the point across. Peggy is great and I really do love her, but—I don’t know, it just felt like her story with Steve wrapped up very nicely in Civil War, and … it really didn’t feel like it needed to be dragged out, especially when it ended with them basically throwing away Steve’s whole character arc with Bucky.

BOWIE

Yep, exactly. Although, there’s always the chance that there could be something between Bucky and Sam? They kind of have that whole love-hate thing going.

REMY

I really honestly wouldn’t mind that. (small laugh) If I can’t have Steve and Bucky, I will happily accept Sam and Bucky. (flips page) Okay, your turn—rant about Star Wars.

BOWIE

(long sigh) All right, let’s get into it. (claps hands together) I just (another frustrated sigh) … okay, it’s kind of the same thing, right? So, it felt like Poe and Finn were written to be more than friends. I mean … (sigh) god, okay, from the first movie in the sequel trilogy, it’s just … so obvious? Finn rescues Poe, and then five minutes later, Poe gives Finn his name, then Poe thinks Finn’s dead when they crash on Jakku, and he keeps his jacket, and then when they reunite, Finn tells him to keep it because—and I quote—it suits him. And then there’s literally a whole deleted scene from The Last Jedi where he gives the jacket back to Finn after he sewed the holes in it. And … okay, let’s be real, Last Jedi—kind of a mess, and Rise of Skywalker was … honestly, just also a mess, but it still felt like they had feelings for each other. I mean, most of their interactions in Rise of Skywalker were them bickering like an old married couple.

REMY

I hadn’t really thought about them, like, as a couple when I watched The Force Awakens, but I definitely really noticed it in The Rise of Skywalker. And it sort of felt like Rose and Zorii were just thrown in there to reassure people that Finn and Poe were definitely straight, which was … really, really annoying.

BOWIE

Oh my god, yes! That was—no, that’s exactly what they were there for! Ughhh … okay, let me backtrack. So, don’t get me wrong, I think Rose … well, she would have been a great character. Like, I heard they cut most of her scenes in The Rise of Skywalker, and I do wonder if she would have had a good character arc if they had left those in. But what we got—it just really felt like her only purpose was to be a love interest to Finn, which drives me insane for about twenty-five different reasons. And then Zorii felt completely random. I liked her and thought she added some interesting backstory to Poe’s character, but the fact that they pushed that as a romantic relationship for basically no reason was so frustrating!

REMY

I know, I know, and I—it still doesn’t make any sense to me, but … I don’t know, it—it  sort of feels like in both Star Wars and Marvel, they didn’t even really leave it up to the imagination. Like, it felt like by the end, they’d made sure to give the queer-coded characters love interests of the opposite gender just to make sure that they were interpreted as straight. Not that being with someone of the opposite gender makes you straight—I mean, like I said, I definitely think Steve is bisexual—but it’s weird that they did that when all these characters seemed to have feelings for other characters who they already shared a strong arc with.

BOWIE

Yeah, right? Exactly. And I know people want to say, “Oh, you’re reading into things, they’re just friends, not everything has to be gay, meh-meh-meh, but I mean, when people say that, I try to just think about if those relationships were—would be interpreted, like, as romantic if one of the characters was of the opposite gender. And every time, the answer is yes! They definitely would be! So I really don’t think it’s weird when you or I want to say, “No, these characters seem to be queer-coded, they’ve been set up for these perfect same-gender relationships, and it is frustrating when we don’t get that representation explicitly written in canon.”

REMY

Yes, that’s it exactly. (small laugh) Which is, uh, why I like to watch the movies and then consume as much fanfiction as humanly possible.

BOWIE

Oh, same. (self-conscious laugh) It’s actually a problem. I’ve read maybe, like, three books in the past year but I basically inhaled whatever Finn and Poe fanfiction I can get my hands on.

REMY

(slight laugh) Yeah, same with me and Stucky fanfiction. Thankfully I mostly stopped being embarrassed about it a while ago because—I mean, really, it’s just fiction, and can you really blame us when we seek out stories where we’re actually represented?

BOWIE

Yeah, I agree. The fact that we can only get the representation we want through fanfiction is … (sigh) it is just so frustrating to even think about, and also really sad, but at the same time … I don’t know, I’ve read some really awesome fanfiction, so I’m not complaining that much.

REMY

Yeah, I mean—okay, honestly, this is going to sound super, super dorky, but reading Stucky fanfiction helped me a lot to feel like being gay was normal and okay. I’d really barely seen queer people in the media except for, like … maybe Love, Simon, and then I happened to stumble upon a Stucky fanfic and just completely fell in love with it.

BOWIE

Yeah, that’s how I was when I was a teenager with Draco and Harry fanfiction.

REMY

(laugh) Oh, no way!

BOWIE

(a little self-deprecating) Ahh, yeah. Looking back, the fanfiction was terrible, and also I’m not totally sure how I feel now about Draco and Harry having a relationship considering all the messed up things Draco did, but … it did make me feel seen in a weird way. I think it helped me kind of figure out, like, oh, okay, so boys can feel like how I feel toward boys … which must mean girls can feel that way about other girls … and then the more I thought about it, I was like, oh wait, pretty sure I also feel that way about girls.

REMY

I love that. I also love that it would probably make a certain author freak out considering all the things she’s said recently.

BOWIE

Oh trust me, I’m very aware of how angry it would make her and it brings me joy every time I think about it.

REMY

(laugh) Okay, um … are there any other ships you feel super passionately about? I feel like Finn and Poe is the one that you talk about the most, but … (teasing) who knows, maybe you have a whole collection of queer-coded ships you haven’t told me about.

BOWIE

Oh, boo! The moment I find a queer-coded relationship, you’re the first person I tell every single time.

REMY

(giggle) I’m so honored.

BOWIE

(teasing, verging on flirty) As you should be. (laugh, tone becomes more relaxed again) All right, well, if we’re going to move on, did you have anything to add, Theo?

[A soft stream of static comes from the tape recorder before fading back to a normal volume.]

BOWIE

(scolding) Aw, come on, dude! You were so chatty when I met you last weekend.

REMY

(laugh) That’s an understatement.

BOWIE

He’s here, right? I mean, he can’t just leave … I—I don’t think, I don’t actually know how that works.

REMY

Yeah, no, I’m—I’m sure he’s here. Maybe he’s just, like … busy? I don’t know.

BOWIE

(laugh) Normally he’d be busy bugging you right about now, right?

REMY

(annoyed sigh) Yeah, but … I don’t know. Maybe he’s behaving for you.

BOWIE

(very teasing) Mm, I don’t know. Is it possible you told him not to show up? You did say in last week’s episode that after I came over, you needed to have a private conversation with him.

REMY

(mortified laugh) Um—that—that wasn’t—uh—that wasn’t really supposed to be in there, and it—it wasn’t—I-I was just telling him that I didn’t, um—I don’t know, that he’s been, like, reading into things?

BOWIE

(laugh, reassuring) Oh my god, it’s okay. Okay, seriously. It was funny.

REMY

Uh, it … (sigh) I mean, I don’t know, it, uh, it kind of just feels weird.

BOWIE

(amused) What, that your roommate is a bored ghost who’s trying to play matchmaker?

REMY

(embarrassed laugh) I mean … I guess not so much when you put it like that. (self-conscious) He’s just, uh … I mean, I-I-I just don’t want him to make things weird. Although I … guess I’m making it weird now.

BOWIE

(laugh) No … I mean, you are turning extremely pink, but no. (another laugh, still amused but with sincerity) And for what it’s worth, I don’t think it would be that weird. If it wasn’t just him reading into things—you know, like, not that weird.

REMY

(caught of guard, stuttery) W—like, uh—like, what do you mean?

BOWIE

I don’t know, just that I’m not—I’m not going to shame anyone for, like … having their feelings. Just … like, it wouldn’t be that weird, or shocking, or, like, awkward if he was right.

REMY

(ready to melt into the earth) Oh. (shaky, nervous laugh) Um … (long pause, then uncertainly) Are you drunk?

BOWIE

(uncertainty creeping in) No. I mean, I’m tipsy, I feel it in my legs, but I’m not, like, drunk-drunk. 

REMY

(haltingly) O-oh … um, okay. (nervous, breathless laugh) Sorry, it’s just, uh …

[Remy cuts herself off abruptly. There’s a long, painfully silent pause.]

BOWIE

(awkward, self-conscious laugh) Um, sorry, did—did I just make things weird? I’m—honestly, I was just trying to make you, like, feel better and … (short sigh) I feel like I just made everything more awkward and a little worse. 

REMY

(rushed) No, no, no, no, no, you’re okay, I just … I don’t know, uh, maybe I’m a little drunk.

BOWIE

(not buying it, awkward) Yeah … um, maybe we should … like, wrap this up and put on a movie or something?

REMY

Yeah … uh, yeah, I-I-I think that’s a good plan. Um—did you—were-were you still planning on setting up your EMF reader and recorder and stuff? Like, just to see if we can talk to the other ghosts overnight?

BOWIE

(more normal tone, trying to bounce back) Yeah, sure, as long as you’re still good with me crashing on your couch.

REMY

(awkward, small laugh) My couch is all yours, unless you decide an air mattress would be more comfortable.

BOWIE

Nah, nah, nah, nah, I should be fine. Honestly, I’d happily sleep on the floor if there was a chance Ollie would curl up with me.

REMY

He’s been sleeping with me, but you never know. He might try to climb on top of you on the couch.

BOWIE

Oh my god, if Ollie does, I would absolutely die of happiness.

[She giggles, then lets out a sigh and speaks in a teasing tone to the recorder.]

BOWIE

So, one last chance, Theo … inspire us with some closing thoughts.

[A soft stream of static comes from the tape recorder before fading back to a normal volume.]

BOWIE

Ughh. I’m so very disappointed, my dude.

REMY

You never know—maybe he’ll show up later tonight.

BOWIE

Man, I hope so. (yawning through her words) You ready to wrap up?

REMY

Mmhmm. (trying to sound normal but still clearly feeling awkward and embarrassed) Thanks for turning in to The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. Obviously, we couldn’t cover everything regarding queer representation in the media, so please feel free to discuss it online. You can reach us on Twitter at tsss_pod, or on Instagram at spookysapphicstoryteller. You can also always email me at spookysapphicstorytellerpod@gmail.com

[There’s a small pause. In the background, an owl hoots.]

REMY

Okay. We’re going to get ready for bed and then keep an ear out for ghosts.

BOWIE

We’ll report updates to you and let you know if a certain ghost ever decides to make an appearance again.

REMY

(small laugh) Until then—talk to you all later. Bye!

BOWIE

Bye, Remy’s listeners!

[Bowie blows her party horn one last time. Then, the owl and rain fade out into the theme music.]

///

The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Sharealike 4.0 International License. Today’s episode was written, directed, and produced by Emily Walker. Remy Stanford was voiced by Emily Walker and Bowie Byrd was voiced by Addigale Stewart. Rain sound effect adapted from dobroide on freesound.org.

TRANSCRIPT || Episode Nine

THE SPOOKY SAPPHIC STORYTELLER: Episode Nine

REMY

Hi everybody! Thanks for joining me for another episode of The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. I’m your host, Remy Stanford.

[Voice fades into theme music.]

[As the music fades out, int. Remy’s cabin. The muted sound of rain fills the background.]

REMY

Okay, um, today’s going to be a little different again. (sigh) Things have been, um … kind of noisy, I guess? I-maybe there are more ghosts here than before or … I don’t know, maybe they’re just more active. I’ve heard footsteps pretty much every night for around a week, and someone smashed my coffee pot last night. (small, quiet laugh) What is it with ghosts and the coffee pot?

[Static grows as she speaks. It peaks just as Theo begins to speak.]

THEO

That was James. He’s, uh … not the best at communicating yet.

REMY

Oh, well … it’s fine? (yawn) Anyway, um, sorry, I’ve heard noises pretty much every night and haven’t really slept great, but, um … I-I guess I don’t mind the company, it’s just—I don’t know, the increase in noise is a little strange? It’s—it’s like everyone is agitated, somehow.

THEO

I’d say excited more than anything.

REMY

Why? Because you guys can … talk to me?

THEO

(deadpan) I know—unbelievable we’d be happy about that, isn’t it?

REMY

I-I guess I just don’t understand what’s so different about talking to a living person versus … uh, I don’t know, other ghosts.

THEO

I don’t know. It just is. It sort of … helps you remember you’re real.

REMY

(speaking through a yawn) Okay, well, that’s good, I guess. (sniffle) Sorry, uh … anyway, today I’m going to try to talk with one of the ghosts about internalized homophobia. Um … like you heard last week, I’ve been listening to recordings and haven’t, like, had a conversation in real time with anyone but Theo, so … I don’t know how well this is going to go.

THEO

Pfft, you’ll be fine! Plus it’s just James. You can’t possibly embarrass yourself in front of a ghost who smashed a coffee pot just trying to get your attention.

REMY

(small laugh) Whatever you say.

THEO

Give me a second and I’ll go get him on here.

[Voice, static, and rain fade into a shortened version of the theme music. When the music fades out—int. Remy’s cabin. The rain continues falling in the background. For a moment, there’s heavy static and electronic whining, like the tape recorder is being adjusted.]

REMY

(uncertain) I … think it’s working?

JAMES

(unsure) Hello?

REMY

(pleasantly surprised) Oh! Hi, James!

JAMES

(vague, small laugh) I’ve never tried talking to anyone through a recorder before.

REMY

(nervous laugh) I’m sort of new to this, too, so, uh … don’t worry about it. Um, I—I have some questions for you? Um … I guess we’ll just, uh, start with you introducing yourself?

THEO

(lowered voice, like he’s trying but failing to whisper) Are you always this indecisive when you interview people, or only in your off time?

REMY

Shhh!

JAMES
(sigh, like he’s just taken a deep breath) Okay, well … my name is James Cooper. I’m a cisgender, bisexual man, and … Theo’s been telling me about your project, so … I thought I’d share my story.

REMY

Oh, um … I-I didn’t know he told you all about that. 

THEO

(still a failed whisper, vaguely singsongy) Don’t take it personally. I’m dead. I have nothing better to talk about.

REMY

(speaking through a yawn) Theo … shush. (sniffles and clears throat) Uh, that would be great, James. Just, you know, talking. Um … I-I’m sure you—I-I’m sure Theo told you we were talking about internalized homophobia today? Um, and I wanted to start off, uh, with how it’s impacted us. So … I guess I’ll let you take the lead?

JAMES

To be honest, I knew about it a lot earlier than I did … like, that I was impacted by it, you know? Like I knew about internalized homophobia well before I came to terms with the fact that I was bi, I think because I kind of assumed it was for other people in the same way that like, you know, as a white person growing up, you can assume that racism is for other people, or as a-a man, I can sometimes assume that sexism is for other people. I didn’t really get that I was impacted, you know, by internalized homophobia.

REMY

You know, I hadn’t really thought about it from that perspective, but that makes a lot of sense. I think I’d heard about it before I understood my sexuality, but I didn’t really know what it was. I honestly think a part of me was so in denial about my own sexuality that I told myself internalized homophobia wasn’t real. (humorless laugh) Which is, uh … really kind of sad. (pause) So how do you feel now that you understand it better and how it impacts you?

JAMES

I feel a lot of grief over it. You know, I—I came to terms with my sexuality fairly late, I feel like, because I—I was around a lot of queer people growing up. And I can’t help but feel like my life would be very different if I had let myself feel what I was feeling when I was a kid. (sigh)

REMY

Yeah, I … definitely get that feeling. Looking back on it can be really, really tough when you realize just how much you missed out on as a kid or a teen because you were repressing who you were. (pause) So … do you feel like your internalized homophobia has gotten better at all?

JAMES

(sigh like he’s considering) I think that internalized homophobia, a lot like other internalized biases, kind of shrink away when you notice them, right? So the more that I become aware of parts of me that are conditioned to really push away, uh, like … like, homoeroticism, especially, um, a-as I notice that, it kind of lets up. Which is nice. (nervous laugh)

REMY

(laugh) Yeah, it definitely is. So, what has that looked like for you, as you’ve started to better understand yourself and your internalized homophobia?

JAMES

It’s kind of like, uh … like, when I, when I first came to terms with being bisexual, it was … uh, an awakening for me. And the awakening came first and then the reckoning with the internalized homophobia kind of came second, you know, it was like, “Well, why didn’t I know this for so long?” And it was at that point where I could look back and say, “Oh, you know, it’s not that I hate gay people or I hate myself for this. It’s just that I’m not allowing it to be a part of who I am. I’m not allowing it to be a normal thing for me to feel even if I think that it’s a normal thing for other people to feel,” you know. So, for me, it’s been kind of a journey of allowing myself to not push down those—those thoughts and feelings of like, you know, “That man is attractive and I can be attracted to that man. And, and that’s okay.”

REMY

Oh my god, yes! You put it into words perfectly. I never hated gay people or something—for me, I grew up around bigotted people, but the topic was more treated like something so bad we couldn’t even really talk about it, not like something people typically openly bashed. Personally, I didn’t ever look at queer people and think they were gross. There was a time when I didn’t really understand what it meant to be queer and just believed what I’d been told, but gradually I started to understand it a little bit more. But even then, I felt like it was something other people could have, but I definitely couldn’t. And then, (nervous laugh) obviously I realized I was gay and I had to come to terms with the fact that yes, I could be attracted to women and the world wasn’t going to end. And that … that took a long time. It’s still a work in progress, sometimes. (pause) So, is there a big area where you still notice internalized homophobia impacting you?

JAMES

I definitely struggle with it when push comes to shove, uh, with my sexuality. Now, not to get too TMI here, right? But … when I am kind of in a sexual mindset, I still very much struggle with the idea of being okay with being turned on by men, you know. I mean, let’s get it out in the open. I-I remember being … kind of in that coming-of-age time with my sexuality, and I remember finding a character on a TV show attractive, who was kind of … it was ambiguous what gender they were? And I remember being kind of bewildered when it turned out that they were in fact male. And in retrospect, I kind of wonder how much I was struggling with it then, you know, how much I was pushing down already, even at that young age.

REMY

Right, right. I-I know for me, when I was first starting to just even let myself consider the fact that I like women and maybe that was okay, I would notice girls were attractive, and then immediately feel guilty for it. I knew I wasn’t being creepy or trying to sexualize people in a gross way; I was just … feeling attraction that comes naturally to me. But because I’d repressed it for so long, it felt like I was doing something really wrong. (pause) Maybe you already kind of answered this with my last question, but what do you think the most frustrating part about internalized homophobia is?

JAMES

The most frustrating part of dealing with internalized homophobia for me has been that it doesn’t—it’s not, uh, like, one and done. It’s a process, and it’s been a process for a long time to, you know, first not shy away, and then be able to indulge a little bit, and then be able to be free with it. Like I’m not ashamed of my sexuality … I don’t think (nervous laugh), but … like, I can be open about the label, but I still find the experience really, really frustrating and hard, um, sometimes just to, you know, see a guy walking down the street and be okay with—with, uh, wanting to turn around, watch him keep walking, you know? And I don’t like feeling that way, I don’t like feeling like I can’t … be authentic in my experience.

REMY

Obviously my internalized homophobia has gotten miles better than it was a couple of years ago, but there are still times when it’s like … just basic things, like having a crush or just noticing an attractive girl, make me feel like I’m doing something wrong. And I think one of the biggest areas I’ve struggled with it has been in friendships with girls. It can be really hard to just … be around a girl without obsessing over whether or not I’m coming off as weird, or creepy, or sexual, or any other thing I don’t want to be in that moment simply because I’m a lesbian. Like I said, it’s not as bad as it used to be—(nervous laugh) um, I-I kind of think having Bowie around has helped, but it’s definitely still there. (self-conscious) Um, I-I don’t know if Theo told you, James, but, uh, Bowie is my friend from—well, I met her in school and now at work, um, and, uh—yeah, just, uh … having her around has been, um … well, it-it just helps.

THEO

(snickering) I’m sure it does.

REMY

(harsh whisper) Theo! Shhh! (normal volume, still self-conscious) Um, anyway, sorry, uh, I-I know you’re, like, around Theo and some of the other ghosts now, but when you were … w-well, before this, um, were you able to get support from friends?  

JAMES

I’m lucky that I kind of found my sexuality along with a few friends that also discovered

they were bi at the same time. So we—we were always able to build each other up, um, but I think a lot of that has been reckoning with each other’s internalized homophobia, and—and kind of giving ourselves as a group permission to, to be turned on by things and to, you know, pursue relationships that we wouldn’t otherwise pursue and say, you know, like, kind of call each other out when we’re minimizing things in our past that were like, almost certainly crushes on people of our same genders— say, like, “Mm, are you sure? Are you sure that that was just … like, you were just gals being pals or whatever?” You know?

REMY

Yeah, I-I definitely get that. I like to talk to Bowie about a lot of things that happened in middle school and high school, and there have been times when she and I will just be in the middle of talking, and the other will be like, “Wow, you definitely had a crush,” and it’s just … I don’t know, it’s just—it’s kind of mind-blowing how many times both of us were just completely oblivious to those things. (pause, speaks on a small sigh) Um … so for my last question … I guess if there’s anything you could go back and tell your younger self, what would it be?


JAMES

I would definitely tell younger me that internalized homophobia isn’t just hatred, you know, it’s not just, like, anger. Like I remember growing up and seeing a lot of anger at gay people and a lot of like, like hardcore, explicit bigotry. And I-I feel like I was never taught that homophobia—and especially internalized homophobia—is so much more than that. It’s—it’s creating spaces where you can’t, uh, you can’t see homosexuality or queerness in any sense as normal, as just a part of the world, um, and that—that for me took the longest. So I wish I could really sit—sit like middle school and high school me down and say, “Look, bud, like, (small laugh) this is something that does affect you. And notice when you’re pulling away from, you know, contact with other men, or, you know, trivializing how you feel about men.” I spent a lot of time being very close with a lot of young men when I was a young man, and—yeah, I kind of—I-I have grief, I-I mourn for these relationships that could have been, this exploration that I could have had that I just for some reason thought I wasn’t a part of, it wasn’t who I was for some reason. So, definitely just letting myself know that it’s okay to—to be, however I am, and not even worrying about the labels, just being and letting myself be would have—would have been good to hear.

REMY

Again, you put it into words perfectly. I think for me, I thought homophobia had to be super obvious, like it had to involve a lot of anger or hatred. And I think that’s why I didn’t understand how internalized homophobia could be a thing. I mean, not that you can’t feel anger or hatred toward yourself, but when people were describing shame, I didn’t really understand it at all until I really started to understand that I myself was gay and had internalized so much of what I’d been told about being queer. (pause) Um, so those were all the questions I thought of … is there anything else you want to add?

JAMES

I guess that’s all, really. I’m not sure how long I’ll be here … I-I don’t know how long I’ve been … well, dead, but I feel sort of … new. Like … I might be stuck like this for a long time.

REMY

(somber) Oh. Um, well, I … I guess … I just want you to know you can talk to me, if you ever want to. This whole situation is, uh, (nervous laugh) a little weird, but … not in a bad way.

[The static grows as James begins speaking, and there’s an electronic whining sound.]

JAMES

(optimistic) If I’m here a while, maybe I’ll talk to you again.

[A harsh burst of static comes from the tape recorder before fading back to a normal volume.]

REMY

Um … bye, James … is he …?

THEO

Told you, he’s still figuring out communicating.

REMY

Oh. Well—okay, um, I’m glad I got to talk to him anyway.

THEO

(audible smirk) Speaking of—Bowie’s calling.

REMY

What are you talking about?

[A cell phone begins to vibrate.]

REMY

Okay, be serious for a second—how do you always know that that’s going to happen before my phone rings?  

THEO

(scoff) Obviously, I have superpowers. (teasing) You need to let me talk to her. I need to put a voice to this magical woman you keep talking about.

REMY

(not taking the bait) Oh my god, you’ve heard her voice before, just … give me a second. 

[Buzzing stops as Remy answers the phone.]

REMY

Hey—how’s it going?

BOWIE

I’m good! Good—or, you know, fine, I guess. (nervous laugh) Ah … honestly, I’m … (sigh) I don’t know, this probably sounds silly, but I—I’m going a little crazy alone in my apartment? (another nervous laugh) Which is dumb, because it’s not like Carter was here when we were dating, but it’s just … I-I don’t know, it—it’s different, somehow.

REMY

Right. I … guess that makes sense. (self-conscious) D-did you, um … were you—er, uh, sorry, did you, um, were—were you thinking of coming over?

BOWIE

Oh! No, no, no, I mean, that’s not what I was calling for, at least not tonight—(small laugh) although please tell Theo I haven’t forgotten him and I’m still dying to meet him.

[Static grows as she speaks. It peaks just as Theo begins to speak.]

THEO

I’m already dead, but same.

BOWIE

(disbelieving excitement) Oh my god. Was—was that—was that Theo? 

REMY

(annoyed) Yeah, but, just, uh … ignore him for now.

BOWIE

(disbelieving laugh) Ooh, roommate troubles?

REMY

No, no, no, no, no, it’s—it’s—it’s really nothing.

THEO

You are seriously no fun.

BOWIE

(vaguely hysterical laugh that carries into her words) This is—oh my god, this is insane! So you guys just—just talk, whenever? I mean, I-I know that’s what you’ve been doing, but hearing this is just … so … 

REMY

(laugh) Hard to believe? I know, trust me. I just had a whole conversation with one of his friends, and it was … I’m, it’s still hard to believe.

BOWIE

(thrilled) Oh my god, no way! Ugh, I’m so jealous of you! It’s so not fair you get all the ghost roommates while I just have noisy upstairs neighbors.

REMY

(small laugh) I’d share them with you if I could. (self-conscious) So, uh … you said you’re going crazy there but you … or, you don’t think you want to come over tonight?

BOWIE

I-I mean, I can, if you don’t mind dealing with me being dead from work.

REMY

(laugh) I mean, I really think we’re in the same boat there.

BOWIE

(laugh) Good point. Are you up for that, though? I mean, I don’t want you to feel like you have to have me over just because my boyfriend and I broke up.

REMY

No, no, no, no no, I—I like having you around, it’s—it’s not a problem at all. And you can come meet Theo.

BOWIE

Mm, I’d love that! (slightly more serious) Okay, but before I forget—I was actually calling to ask about next week. Maybe I could come over when you’re recording? (self-conscious) I-I just, uh—I know you have something planned for your tenth episode, and I thought … you know, maybe I could help?

REMY

Dude, I’d love that! I’ve been wanting to have you on, I just didn’t … well, I mean, you’ve been busy, and then the whole thing with Carter, and I—I just I didn’t want to bother you.

BOWIE

(laugh) Are you kidding? (sincerely) I love hanging out with you, Remy. It’s not a bother at all.

REMY

Oh, (bashful laugh) thanks.

BOWIE

Mm, how about we talk about it more when I come over? We can sort of come up with a game plan, or you can show me what you’ve already got.

REMY

Yeah, that sounds good. (speaking through a yawn) Hurry up and get here, though, because I may be actually falling asleep soon. (small laugh)

BOWIE

(small laugh) Will do! I’ll see you soon.

[Remy’s cell phone beeps as the call ends. Immediately, the static peaks.]

THEO

(barely containing amusement) My god.

REMY

(warningly) Don’t.

THEO

(exasperated) Remy, come on.

REMY

Theo, no. Don’t. We’re just friends—I’ve told you.

THEO

Yeah, but the way you talk to her and about her says something very different.

REMY

(at her wits end) Oh my god, I— (cuts herself off with a sigh, starts again in quiet resignation) Okay. Can you just promise not to say anything in front of her? You and I can … discuss it later.

THEO

As long as we actually have that conversation, yeah, sure.

REMY

(deep breath and a sigh of relief) Thank you.

[A pause, and then she continues in a normal tone.]

REMY

Okay, well … thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller. Next week, we’ll be talking about … well, a surprise. But definitely some really cool stuff. Um, it’ll be really lighthearted for a change, and you will definitely not want to miss it. In the meantime, you can connect with me on Twitter at tsss_pod, or on Instagram at spookysapphicstoryteller. And as always, feel free to reach out to me through email at spookysapphicstorytellerpod@gmail.com.

All right, talk to you all later! Bye!

[The static and rain fade out into the theme music.]

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The Spooky Sapphic Storyteller podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Sharealike 4.0 International License. Today’s episode was written, directed, and produced by Emily Walker, with contributing writer Stephen Indrisano. Remy Stanford was voiced by Emily Walker, Theodore Snide was voiced by Sebastian Perry, Bowie Byrd was voiced by Addigale Stewart, and James Cooper was voiced by Stephen Indrisano.

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