On June 20, the day after Juneteenth and a week before New York City’s Pride parade, a new podcast will take to the airwaves. It’s called, Let’s Get Back to Queer (LGBTQ), and it describes itself as “a mixxy podcast that explores the magical, mundane, and messy experiences of Black LGBTQ culture.”
After I heard the podcast’s audio and the voice of its host, producer, and creative director Brandon Nick, my immediate thought was, “I think my ear is about to have an orgasm!” According to Nick, who is also the co-creator of the Afro-Queer and pro-trans-lives production collective, The Each-Other Project, that was by design because, as he puts it: “Who wants to listen to the revolution if it sounds like crap?” That’s part of what makes Let’s Get Back to Queer so wonderful—it disrupts the notion of what it means to be Black from numerous intersections, while taking listeners on the equivalent of an audio journey in a Lamborghini.
Featured guests on the podcast—which drops a new episode every other week—include Erica Woodland, founder of the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network; Twiggy Pucci Garçon, co-writer of the film Kiki and a runway choreographer on Pose; Lee Soulja, executive director of NYC Center for Black Pride and founding father of the House of Soulja; Arisce Wanzer, model and actress; Jacen Zhu, adult entertainer and HIV advocate; Qween Jean, costume designer and founder of Black Trans Liberation; and Ericka Hart, activist and sex educator.
With a few days before it launches, Nick took time to speak with TheBody about his inspiration for creating Let’s Get Back To Queer, what listeners can expect, and why spaces that center Black LGBTQ identities are sacred.
Worthy of Being Celebrated
Juan Michael Porter II: So you’ve been working on this since 2018, and prior to, most of your work was in a behind-the-scenes capacity. What has it been like taking the lead?
Brandon Nick: That’s a whole ’nother conversation about being an independent Black queer creative who doesn’t necessarily have the funds to pay as much as he would like to bring people on. Because up until two months ago, all of this was self-financed with my extra disposable no-bills-paying money.
And all of that went into booking recording studios, recruiting guests, hosting, producing, sound engineering, and being my own damn assistant and scheduler while working my other job. I have to say that even though wearing 17 hats is slightly inefficient, if I hadn’t laid that groundwork in the beginning, it would have taken 1,000 years for this to come out. [Nick notes that over the past two years, he has been able to work with Shannon Shird and Glenn Quentin George Jr. as producers and Jackson Alexander as an audio engineer.]
I think it’s important to say that because I’m sure that other Black artists have had the idea for a podcast like this, but because resources are tight and we don’t always receive the support that we deserve, it hasn’t happened until now. That’s why I’m grateful to be able to carry and make this happen.
So no complaints. But if I had it my way, I’d be in the background with somebody else doing the talking—because I’m an excellent lieutenant and I love to manifest the shit out of other people’s dreams. But I also had a particular story that I wanted to tell here, and I don’t know that I would have been able to transmit that from my heart and soul onto someone else.
Porter II: Maybe you will in season two.
Nick: We’re just launching, and you’re already on to the second season?
Porter II: I’m speaking it into existence.
Nick: Ashé! That actually is the vision for the future—growing our audience so I can pay other Black queer and trans people to tell these stories. Plus, I don’t like my voice. Knowing that people are going to be hearing it in their heads makes me cringe.
Porter II: But you sound so good! You embody all the sounds associated with queerness when you speak, from the deepest bass to a perfectly rounded bell tone. Hearing you on the promo literally made me want to turn off the lights, sit in a bubble bath, and relax.
Nick: See, I’m normally self-deprecating, but I was affirmed in a new way this weekend, so thank you for that. I receive it.
Porter II: Do you have a favorite part of the podcast?
Nick: In episode two, I interviewed 12 Black trans women about Black trans joy and gender euphoria because I really just wanted to shift the notion that Black trans women can only exist in storytelling and media through suffering. During the episode, [the interviewee] Qween says something specifically for Black trans woman that can also apply to everybody:
“Know that you are a person of value. That you are worth being loved. You are worth being held, and you are worth being celebrated. And remember that you cannot compromise any of those things. I love you.”
I love that because it is the summation of what I want this podcast to give. Every episode isn’t centered in joy and laughter, but I really want it to feel like a love letter or love song to the community. I want folks to hear this and be like, “You know what? I’m gonna be OK,” and to give themselves permission to live boldly and know that they are worth being celebrated. The podcast has definitely done that for me, allowed me to give myself permission to just fucking be.
‘For Us, By Us’
Porter II: In a previous interview, I recall you saying that everyone is invited to the party, but you’re centering Black LGBTQ people and that you’re not going out of your way to translate anything to the default white audience.
Nick: Right! I was very intentional about this entire podcast being “for us, by us.” I told everyone in every interview to speak to me authentically, like they would to one of their Judys without explaining anything.
This is not for the outsiders. If there are any non-Black non-LGBTQ listeners, they should consider themselves fortunate enough to take something away—but at the end of the day, this is not for y’all. If you get it, you get it. If you want to get it, you’ll listen and figure it out.
Porter II: I love that you’re asking non-Black and non-queer people to make an investment and to do some of the labor.
Nick: I mean, we’ve had to figure shit out for ourselves. It’s time for anyone who says they want to understand or who wants to be an ally to do the same. Besides, my real hope has always been that the larger Black LGBTQ community feels reflected in the stories that they hear.
Porter II: Community seems very important to you.
Nick: I can never step away from community because it has constantly saved my life and kept me going. I spent so much of my adolescence denying who the fuck I was and having (multiple) identity crises about how I should show up in the world. It was like, “I guess I’m gay, but I can’t be like one of those gays, even though I always wanted to be like those gays.” Now I’m in a comfortable spot where I’m no longer denying who I am. But I had to earn that—and the community of Black queers, and especially Black trans women, helped to bring me to where I am.
Down the line, I want this podcast to serve as a similar sort of possibility model for the kiddies and older folks who may not have even heard of us yet and who may not have come into their own identities.
The Freedom of Queerness
Porter II: That’s a huge thing. Being able to listen to something like this in private without worrying about being found out the way one might if they were watching a video. Like, I remember having to sneak watching porn when I was a kid, and all it ended up doing was forcing me to behave in a really reckless and secretive way to avoid being punished. With Let’s Get Back to Queer, it feels like you’re sending out a secret lifeline to people who may not even realize that they need it.
Nick: Yes! So people can listen wherever they are, safely, without worrying about being compromised until they feel safe enough to share their truth. Whatever that is. And it doesn’t have to mean that they call themselves gay. That’s why it’s a spectrum of LGBTQ.
Porter II: Can you unpack that for me?
Nick: I know that non-queer folks don’t have the language or depth to actually comprehend that calling everyone who isn’t straight “gay” makes things easier for them. But for me, “gay” has always felt restrictive, whereas queerness is more open and freeing because it wasn’t based on gender.
Porter II: It’s like an identity, but one that can’t be pinned down to try to force people into behaving a certain way?
Nick: Right. So, I can walk into a Rite Aid and pick up nail polish to paint my nails but still lean into being a cis-man or sissy-man and not take offense if someone calls me a faggot, because you know what? I do suck dick.
Porter II: They’re probably calling you “faggot” because they’re jealous, and they probably want to too.
Nick: They probably actually are on the side. But that’s on them. And even if they’re not, I’m too busy being proud. Because that’s what it means to be proud—not letting anyone else define what it means to be you and not feeling hurt when they try to, because no one can know what it means to be all the things that are you. That’s the freedom I want for everyone.
Porter II: Do you talk about this on the podcast?
Nick: We talk about everything on the podcast.
Porter II: I love it. So how can one find Let’s Get Back to Queer?
Nick: People can support us by subscribing to our Patreon. I encourage that because making storytelling is not fucking free. I’m giving it to the world for free, but it definitely costs money. People can also support by following us on Instagram at @letsgetbacktoqueer and on Twitter at @LGBTQpodcast.
Once we launch on June 20, folks can get into the episodes by visiting our website letsgetbacktoqueer.com. Episodes are also available on all podcasting platforms (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher).