Signal Boost: Aced It podcast

Hello all!

I’ve got a special signal boost for you today. A recent interviewee, Ryan Meier (Tumblr & WordPress), has recently launched a brand new ace podcast. He requested a signal boost and of course, I said yes. It sounds pretty great. Here’s what he had to say about it:

“It’s called Aced It! And it’s an Advice Podcast where I take listener submitted questions about their love, sex and dating lives and I give advice as best I can through the lens of an aromantic asexual person. You can find it on aceditpodcast.com and it should be hitting iTunes/Google Play.”

So go subscribe, comment, signal boost, and show Ryan some love!

Thanks everybody!

Interview: Chesh

Today we’re joined by Chesh. Chesh is part of the duo behind Lani and Chesh; Only Confused About Taxes, a podcast that covers a wide variety of topics. I’ll leave the explaining to her, since she’ll do a much better job. Her description had me intrigued and I’ve already subscribed. It’s clear she’s a talented and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I co-host a podcast with my QPR (queer platonic relationship) called Lani and Chesh; Only Confused About Taxes (or OCAT for short.) The title comes from a Tumblr post about bisexuality that talks about how bisexuals are not confused and it’s not a phase, etc. Someone responded that well, yes actually; they are a little confused about things like taxes. And it goes on from there. Since Lani is bi and I’m acearo, both “invisible” orientations often accused of just “being too young” or “being confused,” we decided it was the perfect tag-line.

OCAT is in constant transition as we figure out what works best for us, but basically it’s a show about two friends talking about the world. We want to highlight media that has great representation, honor religious traditions that are in the minority in the US, talk about current events, and discuss how to change the world for the better. There are personal anecdotes, political opinions, and plenty of laughs.

What inspires you?

My co-host inspires me a lot. For one, she has a number of neurodivergencies and physical ailments that can make it difficult for her to function in a so called “normal” fashion and despite that she marches on. She has so much passion and belief in the idea that we can change the world. I’ve always been more of a “well, guess we’re all fucked anyway, why bother?” kind of person. She takes “be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi I think?) to a phenomenal level. It’s due to her that we are starting Shatter Entertainment, a media company devoted to equal representation of race, gender, sexualities, and more. We want to create things like an all-female cast recording of Newsies, write children’s books about the some of the amazing women of the past that history as we know it ignores, and create tv shows and movies that have strong women, LGBTQPIA, POC, Disabled, and everyone else that current media often ignores or lets down. Changing the world requires changing what the world sees. She truly believes she can make that happen. I want to help.

I’m also pretty inspired by the change we are currently seeing in the world, right now. Movies like the new Ghostbusters and Ocean’s Eight. Shows like Shadowhunters and B99. There are openly trans individuals in government and more and more people are willing to stand up and say “this is me.” Yeah, we have a REALLY long way to go, but at least we’re going. If I can contribute to that, even peripherally, I’d be honored.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Lani walked up to me (virtually; I think it was a text message) about a year ago and said “hey, would you co-host a show with me. It’s gonna be the starting point for my new company.” That’s it. That’s what got me interested in the field. We’re pretty funny together and as queer individuals on the millennial/gen z divide, we have a unique perspective on life and society. Podcasting as an art doesn’t interest me specifically. I’m an organizer by nature. I schedule and edit; I’m a fixer (in a non-mafia kinda way.) OCAT, and anything that follows, gives me a way to influence society as a whole, to maybe make it better. Lani’s the creative half. That being said, there is so much more to podcasting then I ever realized. There is a ton to learn and plenty of room to grow. Editing, marketing, planning; it never ends!!

I’ve always wanted to do art on some level. I’ve dabbled in poetry, fiction, painting, origami, piano, guitar, recorder, etc. I’m actually not too bad at the poetry and basic origami. But, because of my depression, I’ve never followed through on much of anything. OCAT is an amazing opportunity for another chance. I have Lani supporting me, a larger goal to dream of and focus on, and there are so many options and opportunities that the podcast does, or potentially may, link me to.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

We’re a bit too new to have developed anything like that, really. Mostly, we just try to be honest, optimistic, and grateful towards all the amazing people who have helped and inspired us.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s super cliché, but practice and don’t give up. You are probably going to suck when you first start at whatever it is you’re doing. There will probably be people who are assholes about that fact. But we can’t all be Mozart’s. And, most of all, YOU HAVE TIME!!! So many of us in the millennial/gen z generations have had it indoctrinated into us that we have to have it all figured out by the time we’re 18. That is bullshit!! Pick a subject you enjoy for your undergraduate, instead of a profitable career path that you don’t really even like. Pursue a new skill even though you suck and there doesn’t appear to be any money in it. Jump from field to field for a while; become a jack of all trades, master of none. Study Buddhism or Paganism or Christianity or investigate a new religious movement. Some of the most well-known people of our time didn’t “figure it out” until their 40’s or 50’s or 60’s. Yes you probably could be like that teenager who started a successful shampoo empire or that musical protégé everyone knows of, but you probably aren’t and that’s OKAY!  Take your time, experiment, and realize that you and life can and will get better!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I typically use AceAro (asexual, aromantic) as my chosen identity terms. Sexuality wise, while I certainly experience aesthetic appreciation, I’ve never looked at someone and gone “I’d like to fuck that.” The idea of being in a relationship/having sex with a celebrity or some random on the street, which the allos in my life assure me is normal, has never made sense. I don’t know them and they’re probably WAY older then I am. And they don’t know me, so it’s always seemed kinda creepy. Plus, I’ve never been turned on just by someone’s appearance which made ace the best descriptor for me. Confidence is attractive. A certain face or body? Nah, not so much.

Romantically speaking, while I usually use aromantic for simplicity’s sake, I identify more as quoiromantic, which basically means I don’t understand what romance is. What makes something romantic rather than platonic? There’s a difference? It’s hard to look at someone and think “I’d like to be in a romantic relationship with that person” when you don’t really know what romance is. The term comes for the French world for “what,” which is, really, just spot on!

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not specifically in my fields/professions, no. OCAT is too new to have made any sort of waves in the podcast/communication community, so it’s never really come up. In my 9-5 job, it just hasn’t been worth discussing. I’m the youngest person in my office by over 20 years in a conservative part of the country. My coworkers would simply be confused if I tried to tell them I was this new-fangled thing called “asexual/aromantic”, and I haven’t deemed it worth trying to explain to a bunch of grandmothers who still struggle to understand that people can be gay. They try, but they struggle. So I just don’t say anything.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The idea that it’s a “phase.” When I came out to my step-father, he told me that it just wasn’t believable because I was “too young.” Maybe he’d believe me if I was in my 40’s or something. (That’s a direct quote and this from a man who’s known he was gay since he was FIVE.) My mother thinks that I’m only ace because of my depression. Which 1)even if that’s true, it doesn’t make me any less ace; identity is still valid even if its influenced by outside factors and 2) has more to do with her discomfort with labels then with me. My step-father still tries to set me up with any male who happens to interact with my social media or that I talk about even briefly (it’s really kinda creepy. Helped me realize I was being stalked on social media once). Because allos experience sexual attraction and it’s so consistently reinforced in society, people have trouble conceptualizing that some of us just…don’t.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Take a second, breath. You don’t have to have this all figured out. Identity is fluid and there are so many terms and labels out there, ranging from the general to the specific. Do some research, follow some Tumblr blogs, join a chat room or 12 on Discord. AVEN is a great starting point. The Invisible Orientation is a really good book on sexual and romantic identity in general, although it does focus on asexuality. I defaulted as straight until my sophomore year of college when I saw a presentation put on by the university’s sexual and gender diversity club. I didn’t find the aromantic label until a year later and didn’t use it until I got three months into a relationship and realized I wanted nothing to do with romance or relationships. It was another year or two after that that I found quoi and realized that’s what had happened between me and my ex-girlfriend; I’d taken a platonic friendship too far. Talk with someone you trust; I can’t count the number of conversations and freak-outs Lani has walked me through and vice-versa. Try a term for a while. If it doesn’t fit, try another. We are the children and grandchildren of people who thought gay could be cured and gender is binary. We are all figuring this out as we go along with barely a foot path to follow, if that. It’s okay to be uncertain.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

OCAT can be found on GooglePlay and iTunes as well as on the company website www.shattertheentertainment.com. If you like us, remember to like, subscribe, and comment. We can also be found on Twitter (at LaniandChesh and at yerawizardlani) Tumblr (at foiblefoldandflail and at yerawizardlani) and feel free to email us at laniandchesh@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you, Chesh, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Holly

Today we’re joined by Holly. Holly is a wonderful writer who is currently working towards a biochem degree. In her free time, she runs a D&D campaign that involves a lot of writing and worldbuilding. They’re also working on a story podcast project, which she hopes to bring to fruition in the future. Holly is clearly a dedicated and talented hobbyist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

It’s something I use to distract a little bit from the real world, nothing too professional. I’m mostly interested in writing short stories, and I’m currently working on a fictional podcast series with one of my favourite people, and while we do have some scripts written up, it is going to take a while to put into production. While I’m making my way through university for a biochemistry B.Sc, most of my creative energy goes towards a lore-rich D&D campaign in a homebrew setting that I run for my very best friends. It’s difficult and long-form but it’s increased my social confidence, I’ve created some wonderful characters that I feel able to apply to different forms of writing, and it’s definitely given me more experience with storybuilding.

What inspires you?

Generally, looking at fictional stories and seeing what hasn’t been included, rather than what has. It’s satisfying to fill a gap and tell the stories of people who aren’t often looked at in popular media, i.e. neurodivergent characters, people with underrepresented gender identities and sexualities, people with disabilities, people of varying ethnic backgrounds. I’m aware that I can’t personally relate to some of the characters I write, so I do try and stay respectful and do a ton of research, ask people who know better than me, etc. Sometimes I do make characters that correspond to my own experiences with depression and severe social anxiety, and even the speech impediment I still have to manage – and the personal catharsis I get from that can be reward enough, even if I don’t do anything with the characters or works I create.

For the most part though, I tend to like interspersing mundane reality with absurd high fantasy or scifi concepts. Like a time traveler who uses their ability to cut in line before it forms, or a particularly finicky pit fiend who wants you to remove your shoes before entering its lair.

On another level, I’d say my friends inspire me on a day to day basis. Especially the person I’m working on this project with, whom I’ll call T. T has a fascinating mind and boundless creativity, and with her and K’s support, I can have days where I feel indestructible. My mum also tends to listen to whatever crazy plotlines I’ve come up with that day too, so I’d say she also plays a big part in my support network.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I always wanted to be an actress when I was growing up, but did a big ol’ switcharoo around college (not university, the British meaning of college), where I found an interest in biochemistry. I’d begun to feel directing and writing was more my thing by that point anyway, but didn’t have enough belief in myself to do it. I think what drew me back to creative writing alongside my STEM studies was the freedom I felt when I began this D&D campaign. Building the world, building the story, adapting to the unexpected antics of my players, it felt like when I was a kid throwing blankets and pretending they were fireballs, or picking up a stick and pretending it was a greatsword, having intricate sociopolitical plotlines with my Barbies, and all that grand stuff. I’d been doubting for a while the value of that kind of imagination, but gradually it became necessary to keep me sane during university. Now I appreciate silliness and the Rule of Cool way more than I do grimdark, gritty, realistic scenarios.

I write more often than not to just have fun. Sometimes it’s a scenario that I can’t stop thinking about and I have to write it down or it’ll keep bouncing around in my head, and other times it’s building a character that can help me feel less alone when I’m winding myself into a spiral about the simplest social situation. I write so that any potential readers can have fun too – and, if I’m lucky, find a character that they can carry about with them like I do.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I usually include at least one of my NPCs from my campaign in almost everything I write – with a different name and/or species. This isn’t obvious unless you’re part of that group, though.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I have struggled with finding my voice because I thought I needed someone to address – like an audience or someone who wouldn’t reject me. But to hell with it. This isn’t a marketing strategy meeting, go ahead and shout into the void with your art until someone shouts back, if that’s what you’re after. Make the art for yourself. What’s actually stopping you?

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am ace demi-aro. I think. The ace part I’m certain about, but I’m still figuring out my romantic orientation. Demi fits for now.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not in my field particularly, but I’ve been given the ‘you’re young’ and ‘you’ll find someone’ or ‘how can you not be attracted to anyone, is there something wrong with you?’ talk quite a few times by well-meaning friends or relatives. Usually this is met with an eyeroll, but it hasn’t held me back anywhere. I’ve experienced some anxiety about going to LGBTQIA events because of the whole ace inclusion debate I saw floating around at the time, but I’m fairly confident aces are more universally accepted than not, these days.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The idea that it means having no sex drive. Even people who are familiar with asexuality seem to fall into this trap a lot. Many non-ace people seem to have trouble separating the idea of having a libido or enjoying sex with sexual attraction. I guess I can understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t know how many times I’ve said the sentence: “Asexuality is literally just a lack of sexual attraction. It means I don’t look at a person and want to have sex with them. That’s it.”

Some people seem to get it after that explanation. Others don’t. Whaddya gonna do except raise awareness?

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Finding out that you’re ace can be a confusing and deceptive road, simply because it’s harder to characterize a lack of something than it is to characterize a different something. I thought I was bi or pan for a long time in high school because I felt the same way about all genders (turns out? Not an uncommon experience for ace/aros), and many people still don’t even believe being ace is a thing. Protip: don’t listen to those people.

What I would say? If you don’t feel you fit neatly into the ace label, firstly remember that there is a wide spectrum of asexuality, and includes identities such as gray-ace or demi-ace, but secondly remember that you don’t have to assume it. Same goes for knowing your romantic orientation. This is not required of you. Honestly, this applies to any LGBTQIA identities – you are not required to know what label you are. Just listen to yourself and trust what yourself is saying, because you know better than everyone who you are.

You are still a ‘proper ace’ if you’re not sure what labels fit you, and you’re still a ‘proper ace’ if your orientation was due to past events, or if you think it might be temporary. It is not a life sentence. It is simply what fits you the most at the time, and sexuality can be fluid as heck.

Most importantly – you are welcome here. You are welcome in LGBTQIA. You’re always free to find one of us in the ace community and ask questions if you’re not sure where you fit or how you feel about your orientation.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Nowhere yet as I’ve still gotta get this degree under my belt before I take on any projects, but soon. Soon.

Thank you, Holly, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Ryan Meier

Today we’re joined by Ryan Meier. Ryan is a phenomenal podcaster who hosts a podcast focusing on videogames, geek and popular culture. When he’s not working on his podcast, Ryan also acts as a dungeon master for a 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons. He writes the stories and paints miniatures. He’s incredibly dedicated and passionate, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

beholder zombie
Beholder Zombie

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My main outlet is my podcast, The Bear vs. Man Cast. My co-host and I discuss video games and other geek/pop culture goings on. We have casual conversation about things we’re interested in in the realm of games and try to be funny about it. We were attempting to get into streaming last year but we’ve pulled back from that because finding time for everything we want to do is rough.

I also run a Dungeons & Dragons game for a small group of friends, so I do some story writing for that. We play D&D on a grid, so we use miniatures, which I’ve started painting and 3D printing for. Very hobbyist; I haven’t been painting minis for very long, but you learn something new with each one you do.

What inspires you?

I get a lot of inspiration from the things I look at, the things I play, what I watch etc. just like everyone else. It’s hard not to. When you like something, it ends up in your work in some shape or form. For podcasts we both came from listening to things like Giant Bomb and Idle Thumbs, and that round table discussion that’s free form and fun. When I’m writing stories I try to pull from personal experience that’s reformatted to fit the context of the story. Characters are based on people I know or observe, same with conflicts etc. There’s that idea that there are only seven stories, and it’s all about how you tell them. I am not a professional writer by any means, so I say paint the wheel a cool color instead of trying to reinvent it.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

We started our podcast almost three years ago now (!), and we were both listening to a lot of podcasts at the time. One thing lead to another and we started doing one. It’s very much something we do for ourselves, and if people like it great, come along for the ride we’d love to have you, but becoming a huge success in podcasting has never been our aim.

I’ve dabbled in art for my whole life. Coloring outside the lines in kindergarten. I played a lot of music in grade school. Brass instruments, drum line, guitar. I was composing for a while in high school but that dropped off. And now I podcast and I write stories for the games I play with my friends and paint some miniatures. Always the dabbler, and never the master, but I’m working on finding focus.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t think I do!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just make the thing. Just do the thing. If anyone is like me (and they probably are) they always feel like what they’re doing is not enough, always room for improvement, always that one thing you wanted to change. So just make it. Don’t feel like you can’t start, or can’t show it to anyone. Be proud of what you make and improve as you go.

ogre zombie
Ogre Zombie

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and aromantic.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I try to up play my aceness on my Twitter as often as I can. I think it’s important for people in the wild to see ace people being ace in all sorts of situations. I’ve gotten some slack for it, but I try not to engage, and just let those moments pass.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

For me it’s a lot of unawareness. A lot of people don’t know the first thing about folks on the spectrum as I’m sure a lot of your readers know. What does it mean to be ace? What do you do with all your free time and money? (Spoilers I have neither.) If I had one thing I wish could be made more apparent is that the ace spectrum is a spectrum, full of individuals with a wide variety of experience. No two ace folks will approach the same situation the same way, no two ace people will have the same previous sexual experience. So take the time to hear their stories.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

A) if you’re not sure, it’s totally fine. Questioning anything as important as your sexuality is so incredibly valid. It impacts the way you see the world, and how the world interacts with you. You should spend some time wondering, if that’s what you need to feel comfortable.

B) If it feels right to call yourself ace, then call yourself ace. Or whatever orientation really, I feel like this applies to every sexuality. On your own, in your own personal space, just try it out. You don’t have to come out right away. You don’t have to be sure. But just, be ace with yourself. Be ace with those you trust, even if you don’t tell them. Just telling yourself you are something is a good way to see if it fits. Only time will tell if being ace is who you really are.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find my podcast, The Bear Vs Man Cast, on iTunes or on the web:
https://bearvsman.simplecast.fm/

I’m on Twitter, at ace_phd
(I keep my DMs open if you ever have ace related questions. I try to help when I can)

I’m on Tumblr: https://ace-phd.tumblr.com/
(Same: message me anytime about ace stuff.)

olaf
Olaf

Thank you, Ryan, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Emma Tyler Kantt

Today we’re joined by Emma Tyler Kantt. Emma Tyler is a wonderful artist who does both music and is also a cartoonist. They’re a very versatile musician who dabbles in a number of different genres. They play the guitar, sing, and write songs. As a cartoonist, they write and draw little comic strips with pen and pencils. They’re incredibly dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do two kinds of art! I’m a singer-songwriter and a cartoonist. Music-wise I play guitar and sing and write songs. My songs are kinda all over the place; I have ones about obsession, and conspiracy theorists, and anime, and a podcast called The Adventure Zone, and just…a lot of stuff.

My comic strips are little pencil/pen things. There’s no overarching plot or anything; it’s mostly little anecdotes or a look inside my mind. A lot of self-depreciative and dealing-with-anxiety stuff.

What inspires you?

I’m kind of the mind that everything I consume (media-wise) inspires and influences me in some way. Music is a big overarching one because it’s a big part of how I process my emotions. Comics, graphic novels, podcasts, and TV shows too. I’ve also gotten some comics ideas from stuff I see scrolling through Twitter.

talking head
Talking Head

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always had an inclination towards music; I remember singing a lot and coming up with little bits of songs when I was a kid. I realized I wanted to be a musician in high school, maybe? Not long after I started learning guitar. The cartoonist thing is more recent. I’ve always loved comics and I used to draw some in middle school but I’ve only recently started doing it again. It’s just a really effective medium for me to express my thoughts, I think.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Uh…I don’t know if this counts but a lot of my comics take place on couches or in beds? There’s not really a special meaning to it though; I just spend a lot of time lying on the couch or lying in bed.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m gonna kinda bastardize an eloquent quote from Ira Glass: Make a lot of stuff. Not everything you make has to be good! A lot of what you make will not be good, actually. But the more stuff you make, the more good stuff you’ll end up making. So just keep making stuff. And to back it up with personal experience, I’ve written probably about 90 full songs? And probably less than a third of them are truly good. (Wow I apologize for the overuse of the words “make” and “stuff”)

todd
Todd

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual! Alloromantic…I’ve attempted to say “heteroromantic” but since I’m technically non-binary that’s hard to define… So let’s say asexual and romantically attracted to guys.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

So far no, thank god. I imagine it’ll happen eventually, though.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Probably the two big ones I’ve had to deal with are A) lack of awareness that asexuality is even “a thing” and B) conflation of asexuality with aromanticism.

pit
Pit

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

That’s tough, cuz I struggle a lot with it too. What I can confidently say is, whatever struggle you’re having, you’re not the only one. There are dozens of other people who have been/are going through what you’re going through, so you’re not alone. You’re never alone.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Oh boy. My comics Tumblr is https://crappylilcomix.tumblr.com/. My comics Twitter is https://twitter.com/crappylilcomix. My YouTube, which has my music and some other stuff is emmacan or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGWqmYQEXrT7VpCQG-WTCPw . Some of it is also on https://www.soundcloud.com/emma-kantt. I also have a music Instagram? Which is https://instagram.com/emma.has.a.knife, and a music Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/emmakanttmusic.

just draw
Just Draw

Thank you, Emma Tyler, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Jenn Ocana

Today we’re joined by Jenn Ocana. Jenn is a phenomenal artist who dabbles in a couple different fields. She’s currently majoring in Communications, but has been doing quite a lot of writing. Jenn loves the written word and writes in quite a few different forms. She has recently had her first poem published in her school’s literary magazine. She has also recently gotten into cinematography and enjoys that as well. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I don’t think I’m at any level to where I could possibly be able to call myself an artist. However, I am trying to work towards making my hobbies writing, and content creating available for others to read/watch/listen. For the most part I write things journal entries on Wattpad (as well as previously writing some fanfiction), as well as fiction stories, poems and even speeches. Also at my college I am considered an audio and video engineer. I help record and produce podcast, PSAs, radio shows, as well as, do camera work and editing for music and promotional videos.

What inspires you?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what inspires me. I would say I often find inspiration from other people and poets that I have much respect for and wish to emulate. I would also say a lot of my work inspired by my own life and past experiences whether that be family, health, or school related, or really anything I find that I could possibly share my own thoughts on.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I never really had the best life, some may say I was just given an awful hand of cards at birth. When I was younger, I became blind in one eye and since then, it always seemed like it was just one bad thing after another. When I started going to a small public school at around the age of 7, I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to fit in being the only child with skin darker than the color of notebook paper in my whole town. That was one of my first experiences with being excluded. Over the years, I’ve also had to deal with physical, mental, and emotional abuse whether that be at home or at school and because of it I’ve always felt alone and lost. That is when I’ve found myself beginning to be more drawn to writing, drawing and music. I don’t know if always wanted to be an artist, but I remember as a kid, one of the only teachers that I felt believed in me strongly encouraged me to continue with art, I disagreed because I’ve never thought I was good at it, or with anything for that matter. However, as I grew older, I noticed that I could never find interest in any other subject that we were required to take high school and somehow, I’ve always ended up coming back to writing.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t think I have anything that is unique to my own work, for the most part, most of my work is done on a computer, but when it does come to my own signature I have a very specific way of signing things. Some people say it just looks like two likes and some squiggles but, I like it. As far as specific features, I guess that it would be that you can tell that I almost never write about things that tend to be happy. This does not mean that I don’t write about happy things, because I do. The reason to this is because I feel like not everyone knows what it’s like to be happy about something, or to express appreciation, or even have the feeling of being in love with someone. This could make it harder for a reader or listener to connect with my work on a personal and emotional level. However, everybody has been sad at some point in their life about something. So, by default, everyone knows that gut-wrenching feeling that I’m trying to express in my work and therefore can be able to relate and or sympathize with my characters as they can connect their own emotions with my work.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you want and don’t let anyone stop you. Scared about what others may think? Go by a pen name. You are the only person that create make your thoughts into a reality, whether that be a story, a poem, a video game, a melody, anything you can possible want to create. You are the only one that can create it, so don’t let anything get in your way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I wouldn’t know how to identify myself exactly but if I had to choose a term to go by, I would consider myself to be lithromantic (or akioromantic) asexual. I can have literally the absolute biggest crush on someone but if I find that they like e back the feelings immediately go away… its quite frustrating sometimes. However, I would say that I’m quite sex repulsed. If you touched me anywhere else besides to rub my back and maybe, just maybe, hold hand, the odds of me slapping the medulla out of your head be highly likely. Ha-ha, I’m just kdding but yeah, you get the idea lol.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Directed towards me? No. The people who I work with whether that be in my major in college, or when I work with the people in my school’s radio station/club are very open to others and diversity. This is probably due to the reputation my major and club has at our college, we welcome all with open arms.  However, the environment in the dorms is quite different. Some people think it’s just crazy thinking that it’s impossible to think that way. However, others some just seem to not be able to comprehend the idea. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, I was once involved in a conversation when my friends were discussing how someone’s girlfriend was asexual. They just didn’t know what that was supposed to mean and didn’t really know that it was a thing. They never really understood I, but they were overall respectful for that person.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I really haven’t encountered much since I’m only open about my sexuality with two people. However, I have tried to tell my mother who is convinced it is only a phase and I’ll think differently when I’m older. Also, one thing that seems to be a misconception is that when I first told one of my friends, he thought I was lying because I had crushes on guys and always told him about them. He thought that because I was asexual, I was incapable of liking someone. Nevertheless, after explaining that it is possible he’s become more understanding, which is good. J

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

This is a hard one because I’m still not fully accepting of my own sexuality however, I’m becoming more self-aware of it every day. My biggest advice would be to not force yourself into doing anything you are not comfortable will doing. It could just make you feel more uncomfortable and even worse than you felt before. Writing is what works the best for me, I often would write about my experiences with trying to figure out why I don’t have that “butterfly feeling” when I kiss a guy and try writing may ways to find a solution to what I’m feeling. If you’re stressing yourself out about it step back and take a breath. Watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, do anything you feel that can take you mind away from the stressor. A big part for me in to trying to come to term with my orientation is trying to say it out loud. I know it could be hard and scary for some people. The first time I told someone I was asexual, I said it in a text message. Honestly, by doing that I felt like I was still trying to hide it from myself. If I were to be complete honest it wasn’t until just a week ago, that I said that I was asexual for the first time out-loud and it was in front of my school counselor. I may or may not have cried in the process. Even though doing this was probably the hardest and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, the act of finally saying this out-loud has almost, in a way been a catalyst with my process of accepting myself. So, if you think you are ready you can do what I did and go to a school counselor, look at yourself in a mirror, or even just lay down on your bed and tell that to yourself, it can really be the push you need to accepting your orientation.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I’m going to start posting a lot of my poetry on my Tumblr but if you want, you can find any of my work on almost all my social media accounts (Wattpad, Instagram, Twitter). The username is CupcakeJiley and it is spelled the same way on every site. I you are interested in checking out any of the podcast/interviews and music videos I help produce and create you can go to my colleges radio Sound Cloud (https://soundcloud.com/wkcv-lp-908850132) and YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp2mJoWoVZnNJ6Q3I3bCBdg). I’ve also considered making my own YouTube Page in which I talk about my work, interest, as well as sexuality. I haven’t decided quite yet but I’ll keep you posted.

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Thank you, Jenn, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.