5 Questions is where Teen Health Source volunteers ask 5 questions to people about their unique perspectives on everything to do with sex and gender. In this instalment we interview Catherine Hernandez! Catherine Hernandez is a proud queer woman of colour, radical mother, activist, theatre practitioner, writer and the Artistic Director of b current performing arts. She is the author of M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book (Flamingo Rampant) and Scarborough (Arsenal Pulp Press). She is also Thinker-In-Residence at Buddies in Bad Times and writes blog posts for their website. Her new podcast, The Coming Out Project, is hosted on the Buddies in Bad Times blog. We decided to ask her some questions about the project, its importance and her work in the arts.
Hi, Catherine! Thanks for doing this interview! We were really interested in this new podcast series you’re doing for Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s blog, “The Coming Out Project”. You’ve mentioned on the blog that the purpose of this podcast is to allow LGBTQ2S folks to “re-do their coming out stories.” You’re a really interdisciplinary artist, having performed in and directed plays, writing books and a column for Buddies in Bad Times. Where did you get this idea, and what made you select a podcast format as opposed to turning the stories into a play or a book of interviews or even an article?
I wanted the project to be accessible. I wanted the listeners to listen to the process of re-doing their experiences and somehow feel as though they were doing the same. I came up with the idea after countless community members approached me telling me of their negative experiences. Since I do play a motherly role amongst LGBTQ2S folks, I have often affirmed them in their identities. I wanted to make this process public so that others could feel the same revelations.
“Coming out” is an experience that can be fairly rough, and only people who have come out already have been able to re-do their story on your podcast. With that in mind, is there anything you’ve learned from “The Coming Out Project” that you’d like to pass on to people who are thinking about coming out?
The main thing I have learned is that change has to happen with parents. That’s why my last blog post for Buddies (So Your Kid Came Out Of The Closet, Link) focused on supporting parents in their processing.
What would you say are some of your favourite memories associated with “The Coming Out Project”, or any other project you’ve done?
Not so much the project itself since I understood many folks wanted the experience but did not want to make it public…but with every time I have re-done someone’s coming out, I loved how much it released their emotions. I knew it was needed and life changing. Each time I have done this, it has changed their lives for good.
Is there any queer media or literature you’ve enjoyed or are enjoying right now that you’d like to recommend?
The Clothesline Swing by Ahmad Danny Ramadan – queer love in the face of war. It is brilliant.
Whether or not we identify as part of the LGBTQ2S spectrum right now, how can we help the LGBTQ2S community in the GTA, and with projects like yours?
Share my link! (For all of Catherine’s columns at the Buddies in Bad Time website, visit buddiesinbadtimes.com/blog/author/catherinehernandez, or click the following link for their latest article: Link)
Check out our 5 Questions tag for more interviews from this series: Link.
Eva from What’s My Body Doing? answers 5 questions about sexual health and being a peer educator!
Did you know that Teen Health Source has been around for 25 years! To help celebrate our 25th Anniversary, we’re checking in with some of our previous volunteers. Today we’re hearing from Cynthia!