Feed drop time! We’re on a break from the show as we prepare for SquadCast’s New Studio and Backstage and work on revamping the SquadCast podcast. So, we’re bringing you carefully curated feed drops from some of our favorite SquadCasters.
This week, we’re featuring the work of SquadPoddder Chris Angel Murphy. They are the host of the podcast Allyship is a Verb.
Here’s what Chris Angel’s podcast is about
A fortnightly podcast about LGBTQ+ allyship tips and passing the mic. Whether you’re wanting to start or deepen your allyship practice, or you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community yourself, there will be opportunities for learning for everyone! Every other Tuesday a new guest interview drops with self-reflection questions at the end to deepen the learning. The guests share out at least one allyship tip and answer tailored questions given their unique intersecting identities.
Here’s what this episode is about
Do you question your assumptions? In this week’s episode, Josée Sovinsky (she/her) shares about coming out on her professional Instagram page this past pride month and what happened as a result. Learn what messages she was given about bisexuality while questioning her own sexual orientation. We also discuss honoring marginalized communities by believing in science AND holding space for people’s own uniquely lived experiences + expertise (and paying them for it!). Have you ever wondered about some of the reasons why people don’t want to come out, especially as bi? She talks about how she claimed queer first because of all of the stigma, bi-erasure, biphobia, and lack of representation overall. More here.
Also in this episode
- A pre-roll ad for Christine Blackburn’s Story Worthy
- More info on v5
- Written and produced by Arielle Nissenblatt
- Mixed and designed by Vince Moreno Jr
- Artwork and logos by Alex Whedbee
- Hosted by Zach Moreno and Rock Felder
Chris Angel Murphy 0:18
Thanks for listening to Allyship is a Verb, the LGBTQ+ podcast that explores and humanizes practicing allyship for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. I am your host, Chris Angel, and my pronouns are they/them.
Josée Sovinsky 0:37
Hi folks, I’m Josée Sovinsky. My pronouns are she and her.
Chris Angel Murphy 0:42
Josée is a registered psychotherapist (qualifying) and registered dietitian based in Canada. She co-founded Blossom Counseling Center, which provides psychotherapy, nutrition counseling, workshops, and presentations. When she’s not working, she loves to perform and is involved in community musical theater. She also loves reading historical fiction, re-watching episodes of Star Trek, baking French Canadian desserts, and discovering new flavors of tea. We met on Instagram and I’m happy to amplify her voice to honor Bi+ Visibility Month. Bisexuality has a few awareness events throughout the year. This month alone features Bisexuality Day, which may be observed as Bisexual Pride Day, Bi Visibility Day, and many other variations and is observed yearly on September 23. It’s meant to recognize and celebrate bisexual people, the community, and history. There’s also Bi Week this month, which leads up to the 23rd. I’d also like to quickly highlight that March marks Bisexual Health Awareness Month, and Bi+ History Month is in May. And now, let’s get to the conversation.
Chris Angel Murphy 1:52
You identify as French Canadian and a bisexual queer. Can you share what those mean to you?
Josée Sovinsky 2:00
Absolutely. So I am in Canada, hence, the French Canadian piece. I did grow up in a household where we mostly spoke French. Did, you know, grow up in an environment where I kind of picked up English along the way as well. But, you might notice here and there, a little bit of a French accent. It’s often quite disguised, but it does show up in in funny wayss sometimes. You know, French Canadian culture is distinct from like Anglophone culture in Canada. So, I did grow up with, you know, different customs and traditions. And I also did grow up with the kind of Catholic background that tends to come with being French Canadian, which I don’t identify as being Catholic now, but that did impact my experience as a queer person. Mostly in hindsight, you know, now that I kind of reflect on on those experiences growing up. Yeah, so it’s one of those things where I have mixed feelings about my heritage, right? On the one hand, like, there’s really lovely pieces about being French Canadian I love like folk songs and a lot of our cuisine, right? Like, I make a lot of French Canadian desserts that I really love and that I love introducing people to, but then I also acknowledge the ways that, you know, my- my cultural background has actually harmed me and so that, you know, that has been very interesting to kind of explore, yeah, how that’s shown up in my life. So yeah, so that’s the, you know, the French Canadian side, and, you know, from the bisexual queer side, that, you know, to me, relates to my, like, sexual orientation, romantic orientation, and it’s something that I’ve really only come to in the past maybe four years, I would say? Is when I really allowed myself to start questioning my sexuality and really exploring what that meant for me and, you know, exploring some of the areas of my sexuality that perhaps they hadn’t given myself permission to in the past, just given the environment that I grew up in, and the culture that I grew up in. And so yeah, and so it’s, it’s fairly recently that I’ve come to land, you know, in the the kind of bisexual identity. It does definitely feel very right and it’s been really affirming to- to explore that side of myself and to, like, find community around that identity. Yeah, and then the, you know, the the queer like, specifically referring to myself as queer, is more relating to, like, my connection with the larger queer community and now how I feel- I do feel very at home in in the queer community, and I’m still learning how to show up in the queer community, which connects very well to the [Josée laughs] you know, the topic of this podcast, which is around allyship, and I think it’s really- I love how you’re bringing the lens that, you know, as- as queer people, right? We can still do harm within this community. So, that is something that I’m still exploring myself. So that’s that. Does that answer answer your question? [Both laugh]
Chris Angel Murphy 5:07
I mean, you answer it however you want. [Josée laughs] Part of me was like, oh, shucks, and then yeah, no, there’s a lot there to unpack.
Josée Sovinsky 5:14
Chris Angel Murphy 5:14
I do- I do believe. And I try very hard on these episodes not to insert myself
Josée Sovinsky 5:19
Chris Angel Murphy 5:20
But I will quickly say, I do believe we can be practicing allyship toward each other, just within the community.
Josée Sovinsky 5:26
Chris Angel Murphy 5:27
In fact, most of the people who are listening to my podcast right now are in the queer community, like queer and trans communities. So, there there’s that. [Chris Angel laughs] I think there’s something to be said that maybe it’s so it’s just like, “well, let’s see what this Chris Angel character does and do they get it right?” [Josée laughs] And it’s like, no, this is messy. We’re all doing the best we can and like, let’s talk about it.
Josée Sovinsky 5:47
Chris Angel Murphy 5:48
Yeah. And I guess I was wondering about you saying bisexual queer. I know that I say that I am queer, trans, and nonbinary. I’d rather say queer, but I know there’s some spaces where maybe I shouldn’t use that term, because it wouldn’t be very welcomed.
Josée Sovinsky 6:07
Chris Angel Murphy 6:07
And so then I’m also thinking about the other person’s familiarity with our community.
Josée Sovinsky 6:14
Chris Angel Murphy 6:15
Sometimes I might say bisexual, or pansexual, or some variation based on how I think that person might best understand it. Which is an assumption I make and I totally own that. So, I kind of thought maybe you were gonna go that direction with it or something. So that’s why it was really great to hear your definitions of those and why you include both of those. Was that hard for you to piece out, just given how much discourse there is around- I guess, just to bring it a little bit bigger, like historically bisexual meant two.
Josée Sovinsky 6:47
Chris Angel Murphy 6:48
Right? And so it meant, kind of like, well, then men and women- that means I like men and women. And now we’re saying, well, some folks are saying, it can mean my gender and other genders.
Josée Sovinsky 6:58
Chris Angel Murphy 6:58
So like, did all of that get really confusing for you to eventually land on bisexual queer? Or what was that like for you?
Josée Sovinsky 7:05
Yeah, no, I think that’s a really, really great point. And you’re right, you know, when you shared that the language that you use, even to describe your own identities will kind of shift depending on the space that you’re in. I relate to that. Before I was comfortable, like specifically naming that I was bisexual, like, I did start by describing myself as queer and I felt a bit more comfortable or safer in that, in that it leaves more for interpretation, I think. And that felt safer, at least at the beginning um when I wasn’t kind of openly out with family members and that sort of thing. Um yeah, so interestingly, like there was more vulnerability with coming out as specifically bisexual. And I think that’s in part because of the specifics of being bisexual and the- the oppression that can come with that, you know, run by phobia and bi-erasure, right? Just not being quite ready to tackle some of those conversations or to- to have people make those assumptions about me. So it’s a bit of both, so I’m glad that you named that. And yes, I definitely, you know, had to do my own kind of research in terms of what bisexual meant for different people. And I fully acknowledge that there are different definitions and what it means to one person might be different for someone else. And I think it was very, like reassuring when I saw that there was a movement towards, you know, embracing bisexuality as more than this like binary, you know, men and women sort of perspective, because that didn’t feel right to me. And that didn’t, you know, if that was still the major discourse around bisexuality, that probably wouldn’t have landed for me and I probably wouldn’t have felt that that resonated with me. But yeah, so, so for me, it is definitely having sexual and romantic attraction to people with my own gender and other genders. That’s definitely how I experience it.
Chris Angel Murphy 9:10
What’s fascinating is if we go to the data, bisexuality is one of the most claimed identities. According to a recent US-based Gallup poll, 54.6% of LGBT adults identify as bisexual. According to Statistics Canada, bisexual women (332,000), outnumbered bisexual men (161,200) by a margin of 2-1. And yet, there is such stigma, erasure, if- well, I don’t want to speak to it. I’m seeing you nodding, because we’re also doing video here. So yeah, talk- let’s- let’s talk about that.
Josée Sovinsky 9:52
Mmhmm. Yeah, no, I think that’s a really good point. And yeah, just speaks to how there’s really not a lot of, bi representation, right? And bi visibility. And that was one of the big motivators, I would say, for me to actually take the step in terms of coming out, like more publicly and more professionally, right? Because I think it is something that people don’t always have front of mind when they think about queer people, right? They don’t necessarily, yeah, realize that bisexuality is a real thing and that it exists. And so I did see it, as you know, I do have a platform, and I thought, this is an opportunity to talk about it more and to show, yeah, like just more bi visibility. So, I’m glad that I get to do that. Because I have to say, like I don’t often see bi experiences represented, even just like media, or like, folks will make a lot of assumptions, right? They’ll see people of different genders in a relationship and they’ll assume that those folks are straight, right? When that is completely an assumption based on zero facts. And so, yeah, so I think it really felt like a good opportunity to bring more of those conversations into the spaces that I occupy, both personally and professionally.
Chris Angel Murphy 11:17
Yeah, and I feel like we could spend a great deal of time just talking about the nuances of all of those things, too, because I remember, even as a younger person going to pride, it was a mixed bag for me, because I felt there were a good chunk of folks there who didn’t want straight-appearing couples there.
Josée Sovinsky 11:37
Chris Angel Murphy 11:37
I mean, this is an opportunity for them to learn about us. This is an opportunity for them to financially support us, because pride usually costs money to even get into plus food and all that fun stuff. And also, you don’t know- maybe one of those people is trans, maybe like you said, they could be bisexual, pansexual, we really don’t know. And so sometimes they’re treated very hostily.
Josée Sovinsky 12:02
Chris Angel Murphy 12:03
And just not welcomed and shut out of spaces. And it’s, it’s really unfortunate, because we just don’t know, and the answer isn’t going up to them and saying, “Well, where’s your bi card or your trans card and prove that you belong here straight-appearing couple!” And it’s like, well, that’s your projection onto them. So it’s really a you-problem. Because they were happy- they were happy to be here and why? Why shut them out? I mean, this, these are just my thoughts. But.
Josée Sovinsky 12:28
Yeah, no, absolutely. I definitely experienced a lot of kind of like imposter syndrome, right? When I first started exploring the idea that perhaps I’m bi and large part of that is because I am in a committed relationship with someone of a different gender. And so I- that was a big, a big block for me, right? Like, can I actually claim this identity? Can I take up that space in the community? It was a really big barrier in terms of really finding my place and finding my own comfort in that and so, and I do still experience that sometimes, right? There’s still this, like, I don’t know, this pressure to like, prove it, right? Which is just such a silly concept, when you really take a step back [Josée laughs] and analyze it, because, you know, there’s nothing to prove. That was definitely a big barrier in terms of coming out to folks in my life, was that they wouldn’t take it seriously. And they would, you know, I had this fear that people would think that I’m just like, you know, looking for “attention” and I put that in quotes, right? Or it becomes very, very messy. And, yeah, some of those- those pieces still exist within me. Some of those discomforts and fears certainly are still there.
Chris Angel Murphy 13:49
It’s interesting, because at times when folks invite others in and say, “This is who I am,” they can feel a lot of invasive questions. What’s one question you wish people would stop asking you?
Josée Sovinsky 14:05
I think one of the things that has been very interesting about my experiences that I’ve anticipated- I think I’ve anticipated a lot with a lot of the questions that people would ask me and I, in my like, repeated coming out process with all the people in my life, I’ve almost like front-loaded my coming out with like, “here are all the things I think you’ll probably ask me. And here’s the answer [Chris Angel laughs] so that you don’t ask the question.” [Josée laughs] If that makes any sense? It almost felt like an opportunity to like educate folks at the same time, right? So like, “I’m bisexual, and here’s what that means,” right? So that folks can get a good sense of that. And it gives me an opportunity to dispel like a lot of the myths that exist around bisexuality. So, you know, one of the things that felt important to me was, you know, I would often say, you know, “I’m very happy with my current partner, and I’m still very committed and I’m not leaving my relationship” right? And “and I’m also bisexual,” right? So that was one of the things that felt important to- to name because there is often this assumption that like that I’m going to be like more likely to cheat on my partner or like break up with my partner, right? Which is just ridiculous and again, not based in any sort of reality. [Josée laughs] And so I, I felt that that was important for me to name and that was really moreso coming from a lens of like protecting myself and really speaking to my own personal experience, right? Certainly people sometimes will end relationships when they learn more about themselves and their identities. And that is also extremely valid, but that was not my personal experience. And so I wanted folks to- to know that from the get go. So yeah, so that was an example of something that, like I said to almost everyone [Josée laughs] in the process of sharing. [Josée laughs]
Chris Angel Murphy 15:57
So it’s like, no one even got a question- like a question, in right?
Josée Sovinsky 16:00
Correct, correct. [Josée laughs]
Chris Angel Murphy 16:02
Okay, that’s cool. So, you’re just being proactive, [Josée laughs] being proactive. So, had you not done that.. you know, you and I are familiar with some of the questions that you could be asked based on that. So, so knowing those, instead of people defaulting to those questions, like, “Oh, are you going to look for a third? Are you going to do-” right, like all of that. And so instead, what’s something you wish people would ask more about instead?
Josée Sovinsky 16:26
Hmm, I think, you know, I felt- I felt really supported when folks asked, you know, how- how they could show up for me, right? In this kind of new identity that I was sharing with them. That, to me, just showed a lot of care. And, you know, when it isn’t coming- it didn’t feel like it was coming from a place of like, “okay, now educate me about all the things” right, it was more so like, specifically, “how can I support you?” Right? And “is there anything that you need from me?” I thought that that was really the most supportive thing that I experienced. Um yeah, I had a lot of folks say things like, “that changes nothing about how I see you.” And that like, still, I don’t know, like that, honestly, didn’t- didn’t sit quite right sometimes. In that, you know, I wasn’t assuming that it was going to change the way you saw me. And in fact, I was hoping that that wouldn’t even need to be considered. But cool, I guess? [Josée laughs]
Chris Angel Murphy 16:35
There’s a lot there.
Josée Sovinsky 16:44
Chris Angel Murphy 16:44
You just shared something with me that’s not all-encompassing of who you are, because certainly, there’s other identities that you hold, and there’s so many we won’t even be talking about today. And so it’s like, it’s a mixed- it’s meant to be a compliment, but it actually doesn’t land that way, for me. My- the way I interpret that is, when I when someone says, “oh, that doesn’t change, like how I see you”. Well, it should.
Josée Sovinsky 17:55
Chris Angel Murphy 17:55
It actually should. This is a piece of myself that I’m- I’m learning about. It’s taking me on a journey I wasn’t quite anticipating or expecting and yeah, I actually do maybe need you to treat me a little bit differently.
Josée Sovinsky 18:07
Chris Angel Murphy 18:08
like not coming at me with like, questions that bisexual and queer folks might typically yield or, you know, asking me, like, “how can I support you?” Or “do you need support with like, coming out with anyone else?” Like, so actually, there should be a change.
Josée Sovinsky 18:23
Chris Angel Murphy 18:23
And so denying that I think is a missed opportunity, and kind of, and it just, yeah, just it doesn’t land well. So I don’t- I don’t know, how does that feel for you? I mean, because that’s- that’s my take, but I’m wondering how you’re feeling about that?
Josée Sovinsky 18:35
Yeah, no that- that feels right. It is a part of who I am, right? And it’s a part that I’m learning to embrace, right? And learning to- to love about myself and I hope that people can join me in that, right? And that does require them seeing that part of me. And definitely, again, coming from that place of just like bi-erasure, right, and how it would be so easy for people to be like, “Ah, well, you’re in a relationship with a person of a different gender anyways,” so like, you know, they wouldn’t have to change how they see me in some ways, right? But, I do want them to fully see who I am. And so that does require them like, seeing my bisexuality, right, as being part of me.
Chris Angel Murphy 19:20
Sometimes when someone who’s bisexual or queer is in a relationship, and again, it’s like maybe straight-passing or straight-seeming and passing is a whole other charged word. We won’t even talk about that today.
Josée Sovinsky 19:32
Yup. [Josée laughs]
Chris Angel Murphy 19:33
When it’s seemingly straight- when it’s a seemingly straight relationship, do you feel invisible? Do you feel like- are there things that you seek out or do to help make sure that you’re honoring your bisexuality? Again, you’re inherently, you know, in an affirming relationship, because you want to be in it, etc. And yet, I’m just wondering like, are there other things you feel like you have to do to sort of find that balance when people just aren’t reading you as maybe you wished or hoped?
Josée Sovinsky 20:08
Mhm. Yeah, yeah, I definitely had to sit with that when I first, you know, really came to, you know, like, see the bisexuality, you know, as part of who I am, you know, kind of sitting with like, “how am I going to get other people to see this,” right? And “how am I going to not feel invisible?” Because I did, right? I think most people just made the assumption that I was straight and that’s kind of where that ended, right? And that felt really harmful. And so yeah, there was a lot of, you know, around, like initially- even just looking up like, the bisexual hashtag on Instagram, [Josée laughs] right, and kind of like looking at, okay, well, how do other people show up in their bisexuality, right?
Chris Angel Murphy 20:54
I just imagine people like in front of a full-length mirror, just looking at themselves going, “do I look bi enough?
Josée Sovinsky 21:01
Chris Angel Murphy 21:02
Did I wear like the right flannel? You know, like, we kind of go to those stereotypes.
Josée Sovinsky 21:06
Chris Angel Murphy 21:07
So short of having like a bisexual, like pin or something, and even then it’s like, oh, well, “maybe that’s just like a cute girl thing.”
Josée Sovinsky 21:14
Chris Angel Murphy 21:14
And it’s like, actually, no. [Chris Angel laughs]
Josée Sovinsky 21:17
Mhm. Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely, I definitely felt some pressure to like, increase the number of flannel shirts I owned [Both laugh] and things like that. And, and that, again, was-was definitely, you know, me needing to reexamine what it means to be bisexual, right? Because, of course, like, there’s no such thing as “looking bisexual enough,” right? And yet, I think it makes so much sense why, you know, why people feel really drawn to these kind of like, bisexual, like, iconic things, right? Because then it, it does give you the hope that you’ll be recognized, right? And that you’ll be seen for who you are. And so I get that, right? And I also had to kind of reduce the pressure on myself to, you know, get some Doc Martens and like, [both laugh] do you know, things that I was, you know, seeing because I am, I am bisexual enough just as I am, right?
Chris Angel Murphy 22:14
Josée Sovinsky 22:14
And that is something that I really had to, to learn and just like unlearn a lot of the stereotypes that I had come to- to absorb as well.
Chris Angel Murphy 22:25
I’ve been following- following you on Instagram for a while. We both follow each other, it’s a cute little thing there. [Josée laughs]. And I specifically reached out to you about if you’d be open to being on the podcast because of an incident that took place. When you invited people in publicly through a reel that you posted for Pride Month, I guess- I just want to give you the opportunity, you know, would you feel comfortable sharing about what happened?
Josée Sovinsky 22:54
I had been sitting with the idea of you know, having a more kind of public coming out experience. Specifically, this was on a professional platform, so connected to the work that I do. And I had been going back and forth in terms of whether I wanted to- to share that piece of myself on that platform. And I finally decided, you know what, it was the last day of Pride Month and like, “now seems like a good time.” At that point, it felt safe enough. I had talked to, you know, privately to the people in my life that I wanted to talk to right before it became a bit more public. And, and I was like, “how can I make this fun,” right? So I created a real and um and had a lot of fun with it. It was- it was very joyful, and you know, I’m dancing in it. And it’s great. And there was a lot of really, really supportive messages that came from that. A lot of comments, you know, people being really lovely. And, you know, I very quickly realized in the days after that I had lost like a decent amount of followers, which I hadn’t really thought about, right? So it wasn’t necessarily surprising, you know, given the world that we live in, but it’s not something that I had like really anticipated or kind of prepared myself for. It was more like, you know, “here’s- here’s a piece of myself that I’m sharing,” right? And was a little nervous about how it would be received, but hadn’t really thought about the like losing followers piece. It was a little disheartening, I have to share, you know, these- like, I’ve been building up that platform for several years. I know that a lot of the people that follow me have been following me for a while. Like there’s, you know, there’s kind of a community that I’ve built around my Instagram account and I’m like, fairly open about my views, [Josée laughs] you know, about queer folks and- and that sort of thing on my platform. You know, I would share content by other queer folks and like, you know it I thought it was very obvious that this was like a queer and trans-affirming account, right? And I think that was the piece that was the most disappointing. It wasn’t necessarily that people were leaving, because I was coming out, because that’s fine; I can live with that. But it was more that, you know, people had not read the room [Josée laughs], right? In terms of the content that I was sharing. And it did feel disheartening. And it did- it did just speak to how there’s so much more work to do in terms of tackling biphobia and queerphobia in our world. And I did have to kind of sit with that. And that was the piece that, yeah, that definitely felt- felt quite disheartening.
Chris Angel Murphy 25:41
I think it can be hard to have that not feel like an attack on you. Because not only are these communities you’re working to serve, and it’s also impacting you on a personal level, right? So there’s that- there’s that duality. And like you said, you haven’t exactly hidden who you are in terms of the content that you post and what you stand for. And I’ve really appreciated that about you and your account. And so you have like a whole highlight, you know, on Instagram dedicated to LGBTQ2S+, I’m not always used to saying that [Chris Angel laughs] , you know, material. And you’re highlighting all of these other creators and everything, which is lovely, you know, love seeing folks amplifying other voices.
Chris Angel Murphy 26:25
So, it’s interesting, because the post happened- the reel, the reel that you did, and it was amazing. It was so cute. [Josée laughs] It was just like this, like super joyous, wholesome content, lip-syncing to Diana Ross, ‘I’m Coming Out.” Such a classic.
Josée Sovinsky 26:40
Chris Angel Murphy 26:40
You were feeling yourself, you were in it, you’re like, “this is me.” And to think that that would startle people SO much to see you dancing in your truth was just: wow. Just like, wow, I don’t think I quite had words, right? I don’t think- I still don’t think I have words for it. So, you created this great post July 2, you know, so not too many days after. You basically said that, you just you really owned it. And you said that it was good because you don’t need folks with biphobic and queerphobic beliefs following you and putting your safety at risk. You had even mentioned about, you know, your privilege in your experience of repeatedly coming out. And that while you do experience bi-erasure and biphobia, you’ve mostly been met with acceptance, and that you have been protected by many other identities. And you also acknowledge, we still do have a long way to go to fully embrace bisexual people of all genders and so that you really doubled down and I loved this- that you will continue posting and sharing content about bisexuality, biphobia, bi-erasure, and told folks, “here’s the door if you’re not cool with that,” [Josée laughs] you know, sort-of-thing. So and then it ended with a- I think it was the bisexual heart, right?
Josée Sovinsky 28:00
I believe so. That sounds like something I would do. [Both laugh]
Chris Angel Murphy 28:04
You’re like, just in case you weren’t clear. [Josée laughs] How did it feel to post that second post? Did you get much reaction from that one? Did you lose more people? Or, I mean, did you were you even like looking anymore?
Josée Sovinsky 28:15
Mmhmm. Yeah, I did. I did lose more followers after that.
Chris Angel Murphy 28:19
Josée Sovinsky 28:20
Yeah, which I think it could come from the, you know, the place where maybe people had not seen my previous reel, right? And so maybe this was their first, like exposure to the fact that I had come out as bisexual, right? And so that’s what I kind of think it might be coming from. But that said, I did also get this like, outpouring of love, right? And people being like, “That is ridiculous! Like, we are still here, we’re not going anywhere. Like, we love this content.” And that- that was very uplifting and very empowering and really made me want to double down, right? And to keep sharing about this- this aspect of myself, and, you know, talking about the bi community.
Josée Sovinsky 29:01
And it was definitely like a lot of mixed feelings that I was having. Um, on the one hand, I also was somewhat relieved, in a way, right? Because I was like, cool, I’m now creating a space that is even- that feels even safer, right? Because the people who are not my people are exiting, [Josée laughs] right? They’re heading out. And I’m okay with that, right? Because I-I don’t necessarily want to put myself or other, like, queer folks who follow my account, right? I don’t want to put folks at risk of experiencing more of these sorts of things. And so there was a little bit of like relief in that way of like, “cool. now this is an even like, better space” because my, you know, my people are sticking around and the people that don’t want this are not going to be there. So, that’s cool. But it also was, of course, disappointing to- to know that you know, that there were people who felt so put off by that, that they would unfollow me completely, right? And not want any exposure to this kind of content and narrative and story. And, and so, yeah, lots of complex feelings [Josée laughs] that were happening during those few days for sure.
Chris Angel Murphy 30:16
There’s been some time and space between those events and now. Is there anything else that you’ve, like, gleaned from that? Or how are you feeling about it now?
Josée Sovinsky 30:27
Yeah, so in the time between then and now, I’ve continued to share, you know, posts and things about bisexuality here and there. And I’ve actually gotten quite a few messages from other bi folks, just like, in my private messages, really, like thanking me for sharing content. And a lot of people, you know, just very, like, in private sharing that they’re also bi, but they, for whatever reason, can’t share that more publicly. And so, you know, they felt very seen in the things that I was sharing, and that just, like, filled my heart, and it really made me refocus on like, “okay, that is what this is for, right?” It- it is for me, in some ways, right? Like, when I share this content, like it is, for me, it is to, for me to feel I’m educating people; I’m changing the way that people think about bisexuality. And it’s also, you know, for the other bi folks who are following along and who are feeling affirmed, and who are feeling seen in the things that I’m sharing. So, that was really lovely to kind of remember that- that was at the core of why I’m doing this. Um and, of course, I had, you know, a lot of mixed feelings as well about, you know, folks sharing, like, “I’m also bi and I can’t, like, you know, it’s not safe for me to come out,” right? Of course, that always makes me feel just so- I have moments of feeling extremely discouraged about this world. But you know, I was so glad that I could also just provide a brief space, you know, for them to, to show up as they were and- and talk about it. So, yeah.
Chris Angel Murphy 32:11
It’s interesting how people may feel a certain level of comfort with us and disclose things to us where we’re left feeling like, “Oh, do I have to, like, emotionally support you now? Like, I’m kind of maybe needing emotional support. But, now you feel connected to me, and I feel like I’ve gotta-” right? And I’m sitting with that and how that can get really crunchy. You don’t want to turn that bid away and it’s also like, “okay, you’re probably needing more support than I can give you. Also, this is Instagram, like, so it’s like, I am so grateful that you would share this with me. And like, there’s a limit here to what I can give you.” Not to knock their experience whatsoever.
Chris Angel Murphy 32:53
You said earlier, too, about how there are going to be people who are leave- who leave our lives. If we are evolving, if we are becoming our more authentic selves, because we’re taking on new values we haven’t held previously, etc, or we’re discovering who we are, just, there’s all of these different things. It can be challenging to just focus on the loss and try to get to that place of reshifting to losing them is a gift because it allows more space for the right people to come in- the people who need to be here now. So I’m kind of, like, just having both of those trains running at the same time. I’m wondering if that sparks anything else in you?
Josée Sovinsky 33:33
Yeah, no, I think you bring up a really good point. It’s always- it’s always a very tricky balance in terms of managing, like when folks reach out in those kinds of contexts. And I like to think I’m a pretty empathetic person [Josée laughs], have lots of compassion for folks. And so, I do read all of those messages. I usually do take a bit of time to respond. And you know, I also want to respect my own, like limits and boundaries, especially given it’s a professional space. Like, I am showing up with my professional identities as well. And so I want to be mindful of that. Yeah, that’s always a tricky- a tricky thing.
Josée Sovinsky 34:09
Um, I did get a lot of messages from colleagues, um, people that I had been previously connected with, right? So, people that I’ve, you know, met at conferences, or [Josée laughs] that sort of thing, that we’ve had a bit of a connection previously. And then they, you know, would disclose that. And, so, that felt a little bit different, because these are folks that I actually have a relationship with. Um, it’s a bit harder when it’s, it’s people who are essentially strangers to me. Yeah, so I’m always trying to navigate like how to best approach that. Because I do think that, you know, there are a lot of people who don’t have spaces, right? Who don’t have opportunities to- to share that part of themselves. And I, you know, I wish- I wish I had the capacity to just like, offer that to all the people, and yet, I know that that’s not going to be sustainable or helpful for me. [Josée laughs] So.
Chris Angel Murphy 35:02
Right, and the guard dog in me is saying, You didn’t even get to consent to that.
Josée Sovinsky 35:07
Yeah, that’s true.
Chris Angel Murphy 35:08
Because sometimes they can share really deep, dark things. And it’s like, you didn’t consent to having that conversation.
Josée Sovinsky 35:15
Chris Angel Murphy 35:15
I don’t want to shame those people by any means.
Josée Sovinsky 35:18
Of course, of course.
Chris Angel Murphy 35:19
I think that sometimes when we are attempting to, there’s a possibility for us, when we’re trying to connect with someone, we don’t realize the impact of our actions when we do such a thing. So like, maybe instead could say, like, “Hey, I’m so excited for you. Sorry, you had to deal with all these haters”, right? Or that they quietly left. Hopefully, quietly, because sometimes it’s better and easier, right? But, “would it be okay, if I shared my story with you and how I relate to this?” and then it gives you an opportunity to say, “you know what, I’m not in that place right now, but I’m so grateful that like, you reached out, and I thank you for your support.” You know?
Josée Sovinsky 35:54
Chris Angel Murphy 35:54
Like, consent’s just been increasingly becoming something more and more important to me and comes up in other ways, too, like this.
Josée Sovinsky 36:02
Mhm. Absolutely. I think I’ve mostly felt supported to receive those kinds of messages. So it’s helped me, you know, especially with like some of the colleagues that have reached out to me and that sort of thing. It’s also helped me build a little bit of a community, right? Which has been really lovely, um, connecting with more queer folks with more bisexual folks. And, you know, I’ve had an opportunity to have conversations with people about how that shows up in our work, and how in our training and that sort of thing. So it’s been really cool to be able to have those- those kinds of conversations, um, which has been awesome. So, I am also grateful for the impact that that has had.
Chris Angel Murphy 36:43
What’s been really cool to look at the website for where you currently work- one of the things I was so impressed with… sometimes people want to just slap like a rainbow sticker on and call it good to be like, “we’re queer-friendly, yay!” And I’m like, “okay, I just, I just don’t know what that means.” And so what’s different about y’all is that with the names, the pronouns are immediately after and you also claim your identities on your team pages. And so the identity- some of the identities, we’ve talked about, others that we haven’t talked about, your areas of interest, your education. I was wondering, as I was looking through that, I mean, that’s quite vulnerable to have that you’re queer on there, for example, or even your lived experiences, too, of- of mental health struggles. Was it scary putting this much information out there about yourself? Like, and yeah, I’m wondering if you could tell me more about that.
Josée Sovinsky 37:45
Yeah, that’s a conversation that my business partner and I had as we were setting up our website and talking about, you know, the values that we wanted to put front and center, you know? That we really wanted to be the foundation of our business and of the work that we do. And we, you know, we felt that it was, it was important for us to share those identities. And we only did so because we were in a place where we felt it was safe enough to do so, right? Um, you know, I-I have so much empathy and compassion for folks who don’t feel that they can do that openly in their professional spaces. But for us, personally, you know, we, we felt that it was important. And in fact, you know, it was a way for us that we felt that we could protect ourselves as well, in terms of the kinds of people that would be reaching out to us for support, right? So, you know, we also didn’t want to expose ourselves to situations where we would be experiencing, like, homophobia, biphobia, queerphobia in our work, right? That the work that we do with- with clients and so it was a big conversation around, like, “how much do we share? What do we share?” But, in the end, we landed on, you know, what? Like, this is part of who we are, and it does show up in the way that we work, right? And the values that we come in with, and we- we really wanted to highlight that. And I mean, that’s in part why we like created a page, like talking about our values, as well, in our work. And, again, you know, we’ve- we want to support our people, right? Like the people who have similar philosophies, right, and similar values. And that’s the work that feels the most, like affirming, and, you know, that we’re passionate about. And so it was coming from various lenses, but, um, I’m quite glad that that is something we decided to do. And I would say we’ve actually had more colleagues like actually refer, you know, queer folks to us, right? Because they- they feel a certain level of, um comfort, right, in doing so. And so, it’s been overall very positive and I realized, again, that that is very much, you know, a privilege, right? To be able to be so openly queer and to still have a fairly safe experience in my work. And so I know that that’s not the case for everyone, but yeah, personally, it’s been pretty awesome. [Josée laughs]
Chris Angel Murphy 40:10
I love that. And I love that you’re one of the co-founders. And so y’all include tackling topics such as disordered eating, body shame, self-esteem, grief, ADHD, anxiety; this space, in general, hasn’t always been welcoming of marginalized groups, such as our community, being fat positive, and trauma-informed overall. In fact, sometimes they can do some pretty big harm.
Josée Sovinsky 40:39
Chris Angel Murphy 40:39
They can do some real damage. I’m wondering, was any of that touched on in your schooling? Or did you have to actively seek out information to be more affirming in these ways? Or what was that journey like for y’all? And especially as you created this business?
Josée Sovinsky 40:56
Yeah, I would say that, unfortunately, a lot of this was self-taught [Josée laughs], right? And very much through doing our own learning and seeking out opportunities, right? To- to, you know, practice in ways that are more inclusive. And, and certainly, like, we’re still very much learning, right? And like you were saying, it’s messy, right? [Josée laughs] And we- we also mess up sometimes. And we’re okay with that, right? Like, I think that’s one of the things that I love about working with my- my business partner is we’re both learning and, you know, calling each other in, right? When we notice that we’re doing things that might not be cool. And that’s really, again, the foundation of our business as well: it’s like, here’s where we are at right now and we are going to continue to grow as we learn.
Josée Sovinsky 41:45
But, yeah, unfortunately, these were not things that were really addressed in, like, either of my training. So, my nutrition training or my psychotherapy training. There’s been a lot of unlearning, unfortunately, that’s had- has had to happen in order to be, you know, to- to offer an approach that’s trauma-informed and that’s gender and sexuality affirming. And I could talk about this for a very long time, [Both laugh ]about a lot of the deficits. [Josée laughs]
Chris Angel Murphy 42:14
Josée Sovinsky 42:14
In the training programs. But yeah, it also, you know, it does create, I think, an opportunity for a lot of great conversations with people in the field, right? I think there’s an opportunity there. So yeah.
Chris Angel Murphy 42:29
Thinking back to my social work experience, it was drilled into us- I felt- that things needed to be evidence-based, peer-reviewed. Well, one of the interesting discourses that I’ve been trying to follow is this whole thing about well, actually, that stuff can hurt marginalized groups. Because if you don’t have the right stakeholders involved in that research- and there’s just too many things that can cause more harm than good. So if we’re only treating with evidence-based practices in mind, or only following the research, we’re doing ourselves a great disservice. Because, what we should instead be doing, is reaching out to those communities and asking them what they need. And so that’s part of the discourse is, for example, why should a transgender person be going to a cisgender person to say, “oh, yep, you’re trans, here’s your stamp, here’s access to hormones, if you want it, this, that and the other,” right?
Chris Angel Murphy 43:30
There’s a lot there. And I’m definitely generalizing a little bit more here and everything, just, you know, for the interest of time, and all of that. But it might scare someone to say that, like you’re self-taught and all that. But I mean, that kind of has to be part of it and having those conversations with the stakeholders and listening and compensating them for their time and their expertise. But, that we have to listen to the people who have the experience. And that’s not necessarily a professional, but it’s that person with that lived experience, right? So you know, one of the areas of interest you have is ADHD. So it’s listening to folks who live with that. “What do you need? How can I support you?” And recognizing you’re not going to be able to copy-paste, right? We can’t put them all in a box and say, “cool, these are all people who are ADHD, and like, this is going to be how we treat them moving forward,” right? It’s just like looking at the holistic person and I was just wondering if you had anything to say around that?
Josée Sovinsky 44:29
Yeah, no, I think that is, those are all really, really excellent points. Um I- I’ve definitely come to be a lot more critical of, you know, the way that like I almost put it in quotes, like “evidence-based practice” is presented in the healthcare field. Um, you know, I think I’m someone who loves science and I, you know, I think you can love science and be very critical of our current scientific institutions, right?
Chris Angel Murphy 45:02
Josée Sovinsky 45:02
Like, be very critical of academia and be very critical of- of our current research studies and how they operate and the hierarchies that exist within that world. And how we are not capturing, like so many voices, because the people who are conducting these studies, you know, don’t represent the communities that they’re trying to serve, oftentimes. And so, you know, I completely agree that we need more folks with lived experience in- in those roles, right? In those decision-making roles if we want to have change. And in the meantime, I think as clinicians, right? As people doing this work, could we- we can go out of our way to learn from people who have that lived experience, and yes, compensate them for it. 100%. [Chris Angel laughs] Um, I think that’s very important and not assume that you can learn about these experiences in textbooks because that often does create more harm in the process. And so, yeah, I just agree. I think that’s, that’s all I’m saying, really. [Both laugh]
Chris Angel Murphy 46:06
This is now the agreeable podcast with Chris Angel.
Josée Sovinsky 46:10
Yes! [Both laugh]
Chris Angel Murphy 46:11
Just kidding. Um. Yeah, so I guess, you know, we’ve covered a lot of different topics today. And I’m feeling like we’re barely scratching the surface here. And there’s so much more we could dive into, so part of allyship can be recognizing that we make mistakes. Is there a time you wished you had done a better job of practicing allyship? And what do you do differently now?
Josée Sovinsky 46:38
Yeah, that’s a great question. And I love that question. I think it- it’s not necessarily specific to any one incident, because I think this is probably something that was a theme in my life for a very long time. Is that, you know, given the context that I grew up in, I often made assumptions about people’s sexual orientation or romantic orientation based on their partner’s genders, right? And that is something that I really had to unlearn and something that I became way more aware of when I came to my own understanding [Josée laughs] of being bisexual, right? And that, you know, I am now very much asking people not to assume people’s sexual orientation based on their gender- their- their partner’s genders, right? And so it’s something that I wish I had done differently, right? I wish I had had access to that perspective, from the get-go, so that I could have been more supportive of, you know, not just bi people, but you know, just really acknowledging that like, we cannot determine someone’s sexual orientation based on what the look like right? Or their, their partners or their partner’s genders. Like, there’s really no way to know unless like, someone openly tells you, so. And even then, right people’s orientations also change throughout their lives. So, they can tell you once and in three years, it could be different. So, we always have to be open to that. And so, that is definitely something that I think back to and-and speaks to, you know, the internalized biphobia that I was experiencing. And yeah, I mean, now I, I try my best, right? [Josée laughs] To- to be very curious and to not make those sorts of assumptions. And I hope that other people can do that as well.
Chris Angel Murphy 48:25
What’s one allyship tip you’d like for everyone listening to consider?
Josée Sovinsky 48:31
We really need to expand our views in terms of how sexuality shows up for folks, how their sexual orientation shows up. We need to really think outside of this, like, binary of people are gay or straight. And that’s like, you know, the very much the predominant narrative and that harms so many people for so many different reasons. And not just, again, not just bi folks, but really folks of various sexual orientations.
Josée Sovinsky 49:01
I would encourage people to- to get really curious about the assumptions that they make, even when they’re, for example, like watching a TV show, right? And there’s a couple that they might assume is like, a queer couple or lesbian couple, right? And be like, “Oh, wait a minute. I know nothing about these people’s genders. I know nothing about their sexual orientation. I’m 100% assuming based on like, previous narratives that I’ve absorbed.” So, that would be one- one thing that I would encourage folks to do is actively seek out opportunities to, like, question their assumptions that they make.
Chris Angel Murphy 49:37
Visit AllyshipIsAVerb.com for any resources and a full transcript of the episode. Thank you for practicing allyship with me. And remember, sometimes allyship means questioning your assumptions.
Arielle Nissenblatt is SquadCast’s Community Manager. She’s obsessed with all things podcast-related and is the founder of EarBuds Podcast Collective, a podcast recommendation engine. In her spare time, Arielle enjoys hosting zoom trivia for friends and strangers all over the world and rollerblading.