Political In-Queery is the current podcast produced by “The Michigan Gayly,” the LGBT newspaper based at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Our goal in producing this podcast is to explore the current state of LGBT representation and legislation within Michigan politics, especially leading up to the 2022 midterm elections that were held in November. Our podcast director, Blake Byle, works extremely hard to ensure this podcast is produced with the utmost quality and attention to detail as possible in order to educate others and encourage voting within our community.
Working as the podcast’s script supervisor, I operate behind the scenes to complete research and write the questions to ask our guests. All of the politicians we spoke with throughout this process were incredible; each guest brought something unique to the podcast and was able to highlight specific issues they were passionate about in relation to the LGBT community.
To begin our podcast, Blake spoke with House Representative Laurie Pohutsky from the 17th District, exploring her career as a bisexual woman within Michigan politics. Additionally, she spoke on her experiences handling homophobic opposition both in and out of office. As a fellow bisexual hoping to begin a career in politics, it was incredibly insightful to hear her experiences and advice for young queer youth navigating this resurgence of LGBT hate within politics and in wider society. Further, bisexual erasure is an issue I am really passionate about, so I appreciated her speaking on the importance of recognizing this erasure both within our LGBT community and in the media. Working on this pilot episode was an incredible experience as I could relate heavily to the issues and experiences she touched on, and I could not imagine a better opening to our podcast. I am also excited to see how her career progresses now, as she was promoted as the new president pro tempore of the Michigan House after the 2022 midterm elections.
Next, my personal favorite episode from season one of our podcast involved an interview with current state Senator Jeremy Moss from the 7th District. We were able to conduct this interview in person at Affirmations in Ferndale, an LGBT community center where queer youth can learn, socialize, and have a space where they feel safe. Researching my questions for this script was very enjoyable, and I learned a lot more about homophobia in public schools as well as the misguided religious justification for this blatant homophobia. Reading about these issues was one thing, but hearing Senator Moss talk about his personal experiences regarding homophobia in the Senate and within school systems was extraordinary. Not only was he an amazing speaker, but you could tell he was very passionate about advocating for inclusivity and acceptance within schools as well as wider society. It was also a nice surprise to see his friend and fellow politician Kyra Harris Bolden join us for the recording as well. I am excited to see how her career continues to thrive on the Michigan Supreme Court, and I am looking forward to seeing Jeremy Moss serve as president pro tempore of the Senate this term. These two were extremely respectful — taking the time to meet each member of our team before we started recording — well spoken, and inspiring to speak with on this episode.
For our third episode, we met with House Representative Jason Morgan of the 23rd District, who provided a unique perspective on larger LGBT issues, highlighting the plight of trans youth in schools. I appreciated not only researching his dedication to Ann Arbor’s queer youth working as the former Washtenaw County Commissioner, but I loved how he dedicated a large portion of his interview speaking on the trans community and how they are often ignored in favor of digestible activists (meaning, white gay men instead of the multitude of sexualities, genders, and races all present within the community). The discussion of protections for trans youth was especially important for us here at the “Gayly,” as many times our trans friends are frequently left out of the conversation.
Our “meet the team” episode for this first season was also a blast to record, as we had learned how to work together to create this amazing podcast in such a short amount of time. We had a great time just being together and reflecting on everything we had learned throughout the season; we also dedicated time to encourage listeners to continue to vote and learn more about the influence of our LGBT community in politics. This episode also happened to be the first time some of us had met in person instead of online, so that experience was very special to me as well. Originally, the episode was intended to be a finale for this season, however we were pleasantly surprised by a final guest that was able to speak with our “Gayly” team after the midterm elections.
Therefore, our bonus episode was a big surprise for everyone involved in the podcast, as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel took time out of her busy schedule to meet with us about her current protections for the LGBT community in Michigan. I remember I was in complete shock when Blake reached out to the team to discuss an interview with AG Nessel; I immediately began to research and draft a script that would cover my burning questions about LGBT politics within her realm of power. I also wanted to highlight her role in the Obergefell decision, which granted marriage protection for our community at the Supreme Court level. Additionally, an issue I raised with almost all of our guests was the infamous “Don't Say Gay” bill in Florida, which she eloquently spoke about, promising that a similar bill would not be passed in Michigan as long as she was in office. Consequently, Dana Nessel was incredibly insightful, inspiring, and extremely remarkable to listen to and have on our podcast.
Finally, to begin our second season, Blake met with an extremely important guest and dear friend. Our very own Editor in Chief Grey Weinstein joined us for the pilot of our second season, once again providing us with unconditional support. It was very enlightening to listen to them discuss their experiences in creating “The Michigan Gayly” back in 2020, and how his own experiences led them to create this space for queer students to share. It has been incredible working for Grey over the past two years and I look forward to seeing all he accomplishes in the future. I truly enjoyed every minute working on this podcast and expanding my role within “The Michigan Gayly” under the guidance of both Blake and Grey. Therefore, I hope to take their advice with me as I continue my journey with this organization and safe space as the new Editor in Chief next year.
I would like to thank each member of our podcast team for sharing this experience with me, as this podcast truly was an unforgettable experience and joy to be a part of. A huge thanks to Blake, Atticus, June, Elaina, Keaira, and Adara. Until the next episode!