Take the Last Bite

We take a bite out of asexuality across generations with Cody Daigle-Orians (they/them) aka Ace Dad Advice and author of “I Am Ace: Advice on Living Your Best Asexual Life.” We chat about their Ace Dad persona, the nebulous concept of being a “queer elder,” and Cody’s aspiration for a multigenerational book series guiding folks through their asexual journeys. 
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Creators & Guests

R.B. Brooks
Director of Programs, Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity
Justin Drwencke
Executive Director, Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity

What is Take the Last Bite?

Take the Last Bite is a direct counter to the Midwest Nice mentality— highlighting advocacy & activism by queer/trans communities in the Midwest region. Each episode unearths the often disregarded and unacknowledged contributions of queer & trans folks to social change through interviews, casual conversations and reflections on Midwest queer time, space, and place.

For questions, comments and feedback: lastbite@sgdinstitute.org

To support this podcast and the Institute, please visit sgdinstitute.org/giving

Host: R.B. Brooks, they/them, director of programs for the Midwest Institute for Sexuality & Gender Diversity

Cover Art: Adrienne McCormick

Hey hi hello y’all, this is R.B., your Midwest Pest Control, serving up another episode of Take the Last Bite, a show where we take Midwest Nice and sign it up for unhinged email lists they can’t unsubscribe from.

On today's episode, I connect with a polyam nonbinary ace advisor to explore how intergenerational connections contribute to a more enriched understanding of gender and sexuality. But before we tuck into that chat, I wanna hype up a Midwest Wonder of the World who’s doing an incredible job making critical connections across geography by going on a mega book tour.

Mercury Stardust is definitely a superhuman I’ve promoted on the show before, most recently for her incredible partnership with TikTok-er Jory aka AlluringSkull where they raised two million dollars for Point of Pride through a stream-athon back in March. Her new feat is doing a multi-leg, multi-city tour across the entire country for the launch of her book “Safe and Sound: A Renter-Friendly Guide to Home Repair”.

The tour kicked off on August 21 in Mercury’s hometown of Madison, Wisconsin and will go through December. Mercury and her team decided which stops she would make on her book tour by polling thousands of her social media followers and some of the locations are definitely ones you wouldn't expect. In fact, in a recent TikTok, Mercury addressed some pushback she received for selecting Bettie’s Pages in Lowell, Michigan because some viewers believed it was a virtue signal or an ego trip to go to a small, conservative town.

Mercury squashed this by stating that she herself is from a small town where she was afraid to live openly when she was a kid and that she would have done anything to have representation of any kind while growing up. She also named that she and her team have thought about safety while traveling and ultimately, herself and those attending her events are making personal choices for themselves– and that at the end of the day, instead of being mad at her and her team for going to contentious legislative battleground states, she encourages folks to take that ire out on the government for putting us in these tumultuous positions.

Thank you Mercury, for naming this important tension that isn’t new to our communities, but has definitely grown in new and twisted ways that make it so we have to overplan and debate traveling across geographical locations for queer gatherings like book tours or giant conferences or just traveling across state lines to see our friends and families.

Queer folks are everywhere, and while it is valid to be concerned about traveling while trans in this country, rebuking a trans woman for doing something that fulfills a need for so many, as though she isn't already ACUTELY aware of the dangers our communities face, is not the move ya’ll. We are the only ones who can keep ourselves safe, so let’s continue to strategize and create critical connections that offer as much freedom of movement as possible, not berate each other for doing something daring and bold in a time where we need it most.

Today’s guest knows all about taking a bold jump into somewhere new and scary, that place just happens to be across the internet, not a physical location. Cody aka Ace Dad Advice, like many content creators, joined TikTok on a whim and encouragement from a friend and now finds themself in a rewarding and riveting position to share their personal journey and engage with an intergenerational audience as they unpeel the many communal questions folks have about asexuality and interrelated experiences. We chat about their start in content creation, the nebulous concept of being an elder, and their aspiration for a multigenerational book series guiding folks through their asexual journey.

Take my advice, and listen to this week’s episode of Take the Last Bite


Why can't we be in space with hundreds of other queer and trans folks and having these necessary conversations?

When it comes to dynamics around privilege and oppression, and around identity. Well intentioned isn’t actually good enough.

How far is too far to drive for a drag show? I don’t know, we’re in Duluth right now, I would straight up go to Nebraska, probably,

If you are not vibing, or something’s not right, or also like there’s an irreparable rupture, you have absolutely every right to walk away.

Definitely going to talk about Midwest Nice and if that's as real as it wants to think it is.

Midwest nice is white aggression. That's what it is.


Alright. I'm super excited about this. Really glad we were able. To make some. Time. So let's go ahead and get into it. Why don't we start off with you, giving whatever introduction you aspire to give. But if you could include in that introduction, what is your relationship to the Midwest?

Sure. So my name is Cody Daigle. Orians. My pronouns, are they them? And most people know me from the Internet as Ace dad advice or Ace Dad. My relationship to the Midwest, I'm relatively new to the Midwest. I am natively A louisianian, so I'm from the Deep South. I lived in the northeast for the last decade and my husband and an extended Polycule family have just recently over the last year moved to Ohio, so. We are. I split my time between Cincinnati and Ohio. It's where my two partners teach. And yeah, we're making a home a little queer home for ourselves here in the Midwest.

In Ohio, I love that we were talking. About before had this button that we kind of it feels like we were kind of ships passing where we just. Brought our. Conference to Columbus and you kind of arrived in Ohio kind of around that time, so just missed each other in a little bit of a way. But I'm, I'm just smacking you about maybe coming to this upcoming conference just to just to see.

You're close, it's close.

I'm sure they're closed. I'm headed for Lexington. Yes, that's exciting. And so I know I I feel like I knew of you, right and then ended up on threads this. Little new social media experiment. Yeah. And first saw, uh, by courtesy of the algorithm goddesses, right, that you were starting school at University of Cincinnati as well. So you. Move to Ohio to live life and be with your humans, but also starting this big adventure called a Masters program. I'm really curious about that as a higher Ed practitioner and just a nerd in general, what was the draw to head back to school?

Well, my original degree adventure, so I'm 47, so like I I have been have not been in college for a very long time and my my original journey was as a theater artist. I studied theater and I studied as an actor and a playwright, which I did for a very long time. That was like my first love and. Just as life. Went along and changed theater sort of fell out of what I was doing professionally, and I shifted into doing other things. And in the last couple of years, as like, quite an accident that this part of my life has begun, this very strange Internet life. And in this opportunity. In this chance to move to Ohio, we're moving because my husband got a job at University of Cincinnati. And it afforded it affords me free tuition because I am, I am the spouse, I'm the spouse and I I for me. Yeah. Like, exactly and.

Yes, take that.

Take advantage of that.

It felt like.

It just felt like an opportunity that I love the work that I'm doing and this feels to me like an opportunity to go back into a situation too deepen and broaden and make. My knowledge base more expansive to think more deeply about the things that I'm I'm working in and the communities that I am working in and working with. And just to like. Set me more deeply on this path that I am on and to get a chance to do that without. The burden that many people have financially for that very, very nice. But there's there's a lot this. Path in my life has opened up opportunities to write books and do other kinds of work, and speaking and talk. Going back to school to study a gender and sexuality studies makes a lot of sense to just make my work better and to give me some space to think more deeply about what it is I'm doing.

And so far we we just checked in, you've completed a week of classes so far and you were you're doing the damn thing.

I'm doing. It I'm.

Doing the assignments, doing the readings. I've got the posted notes like everything we're. We're doing really well, so.

Far did you do some back to school supply shopping too. That was always my favorite thing to do as a kid.

Look, I in life school supplies are my jam. And so like I was like, ohh, no, we're gonna go school supply shopping. Because. Yes. No.

A different color notebook for every subject.

With the notebooks I went, I even I bought this in advance of the last bit, but I have like a trapper keeper, an old school trapper keeper with like a fun like 90s color vibe. For like syllabi, syllabi, and other papers. Yeah, I'm ready. I'm ready.

What are some of? The classes you taking, like what's part of your first batch of classes.

So this semester, human sexuality, a class that is specifically focused on gender and health disparities and outcomes. I'm taking an LGBTQ activism class.


Oh cool.

And psychology of gender. So it's all women's gender and sexuality studies classes. For my first semester, all things that are kind of relevant to where I am right now, so. Very much enjoying getting to spend most of my time thinking and writing and responding to all that world.

Love that. I love that. Yeah, I didn't have that opportunity as a college student. We just kind of had a smattering of classes and. We had a minor. I won't go into the spiel of that, but I was one class away from getting that minor. And didn't get it because. The courses that were cross listed. Were a stretch and I. Couldn't handle the history class I signed up for because I didn't understand what was going on, so dropped that one class, missed out of my minor, but knowing the history to a bit because of my higher nerdiness and background like. The history of LGBTQ. Related academic programs and centers and services is so rooted in, like civil rights era work that like even just having these, still exist on campuses, I think is a testament to some like to that work, you know, and I I work at a campus where our LGBTQ. There perish before it even really had a chance to get up and running because of. All the reasons higher it likes to cut those things, so just it makes me happy that there is thriving programs out there in places for folks to navigate and those classes sound really dope, like just very rooted in what you would expect in many ways a a gender and sexuality studies program to offer. And that sounds awesome. I'm very.

Yeah. And the like, the program is also very cool. There's also other than the major to to be able to get your degree, there's also a very specific LGBTQ certificate so that you can focus your studies and and the classes that are offered are just like, I want to take everything. I just, it's not possible. But I just want to take everything. So. Yeah, I feel very lucky to have landed. In, in this particular situation, in this particular program.

Ohh love that for. So you named. We're kind of working backwards on purpose, but I I figured I would start where we started. Which was me learning that. You were headed to to your Masters program in this school program, and you've already spoken to right it being. Kind of this. Next step along what has become kind. Of your bread. And butter, Big deal situation of being this. Internet figure this community builder the faces you're making. I'm just going to describe all this to two. Let's talk about that. Right. Like, how did you end up into this kind of self-proclaimed educator Ace dad advice, Offerer role. How did how did we?

Right here.

It's because of my Barber in Connecticut. Todd, really. So my, my, I was with my Todd was one of my favorite humans on the planet, but.

Oh my.

God. OK. Thanks God.

He was like. One day I was getting a haircut and he's like, you know, you really should join TikTok. I'm on TikTok. I'm having a great time. You should do that too. And I. Todd, that's where the kids are. What am I? Going to do. There no, it's video. I'm not doing that. That's not the thing. But he pushed and pushed and pushed and convinced me so.


I joined TikTok. Yeah. And one day I randomly made some video where I identified myself as asexual. I had been not really super public about being ACE, but. It was something that I had my my immediate circle knew for, like a couple of years. But not so very public. About it and made this video, I went away and worked for a couple of hours and I returned to hundreds of comments and like a slew of new people who were following me and comments like wow, I've never seen an ace adult before. I didn't know you could be an adult and ace. And just like that. Coming over and over and over and over again. And it was like it was just like a really powerful moment. Of like. Ohh wow OK so. So maybe there is like some space in in there's maybe some space for me to kind of like. Be something I know when I when I first came out, I came out as gay in when I was 18 years old and mentors and elders in the community were enormously important to me, and so. I was recognizing you like maybe there's a space to be that in the ACE community because I'm. I'm what I'm hearing is that that doesn't really exist so much. And I'm a former teacher, so. Like teaching stuff is great. I think I really love to do and so I just started making more videos and having a dad vibe is just my thing. It's been my thing forever, so I was like, OK, so it's. I'm ace dad. That's what that's. The vibe I'm gonna have on the Internet. And here we are. Like, it's just it's grown across platforms I have. I'm like, I'm on YouTube, I'm on Instagram. I'm. In all the places. And it has just opened up a lot of doors for me to talk about about Asness and to provide not just educational information. And the stuff that was confusing to me when I was coming out, but also encouragement to say, you know, like, OK, so here's here's how you navigate the personal challenges of being ace and here's how you navigate relationships because this is how I've navigated them and how I've handled them. And to do that in a in a in an encouraging and positive way. And also just like. Showing that you can be ACE and grow up and have silver hair and like be in your late 40s and like have that life like that life is possible, which is I think one of the most important things that mentors and elders do in the community should just show you that a future is possible, that you can dream of a future. Now, whether they want that to be like me is their future, I don't know. But like a future. Yeah. And it's it's become the thing that I do which weird, but kind of great. Like it it it combines all the things I've kind of done in my life which is be queer be a teacher be an actor.

Yeah, yeah.

Right. Things be online like all those things that I've done in my whole life are now in this package and I get to go around to places and and be Ace Dad and which is pretty cool.

You know, and I. Appreciate it too, right? Like I totally. Agree that I think that there's a particular caricature of, like ace folks right it in some ways resembles kind of this false. Thought nationally where the Transness is new and then in the same vein, right, like Ace Ness is new, it's kind of a Gen. Z concoction and. Ultimately, that's super untrue in both regards. And so yeah, 100%, it's kind of this possibility modeling of folks who are not in their you know late teens, early 20s, right? This transcends generations. There's some opportunity for intergenerational connections. And like, that's all really dope and exciting. And also to find that kind of initial space on TikTok. Gen. Z lives right, but like, create those, you know, bridging those gaps between generational assumptions and false realities and saying Nope. I I exist, I'm. Here can't really. Challenge that at that point, because you you exist.

And the thing I love about that, that intergenerational relationship. That exists in this space is. I I recognized my azenis through being on. Tumblr and. It's like I recognize that. I know I'm ace because of some young person's post on Tumblr that I read like a young person is responsible for me, so it's really lovely to get to be in a space where I'm paying back a a younger generation who provided an informational space for me to understand.


Myself. So we it's it's like it's paying that forward and and giving back to. Incredible young people. Who were smarter and more aware of themselves? Before I was. Yeah, like it's a lovely exchange in that way.

Tumblr was my jam. I learned a lot. I learned a. Lot. I learned a lot. Yes, somewhere was the place. So yeah, that kind of mirroring of like the mirror shifted this way, and now we're shifting it back and and doing what we yes.

I just thought it was going to see like horror memes and like cute guys with beards like that to me, was what Tumblr was going to be. No, no, no. It was a very. Wildly different experience.

No it it created the discourse before the discourse knew. What it was, that's. Percent true. So another kind of manifestation that I'm really curious if you ever envisioned this would happen. Is you wrote a book? Kind of what I'm believing to be kind of a collection of some of these realizations and some of your, you know, anecdotes that you wanted to share to kind of put it in front of a young audience. Let's talk about this book a little bit. What was the motivation, how did you? Trying to get on this trajectory of writing a book and. I know that there's a #2 in the works, right? Another another book, right? Let's talk about this project.

Yeah. So the book is called, I am ACE advice on living your best asexual life and it it, it fell from the sky magically. I I was doing a stat advice and the project was really starting. It was really taking off and it was it was finding its shape and I got an e-mail from an editor at. One of the Jessica Kingsley publishers who published the book saying, hey, listen, I'm seeing what you're doing online. We are actively looking to create more ACE nonfiction resources is, would that be something you'd be interested in? Like what would that? Like and I was immediately like. Yes, that sounds like a blast. I would love to do that, but specifically what I would like to do is is write something that is aimed at young adult readers. I want to write something that's aimed at the audience that I'm talking to, and that's mostly younger people. The prior to my book coming out, almost all of the resources for Ace. Folks are aimed at adults. They're aimed at conversations for adults to be having, and they're either aimed like a kind of general way of, like, the invisible orientation by Julie Sondra Decker. Or or. You know ace Angela Chen is a little bit more academic in. Its skill.

OK. Yeah, yeah.

And I was like, you know, what's missing is that young adult focused advice and encouragement book that explains everything. But it's also. Like you could put it in your back pocket, and as you're encountering things as a young person, as a young ace person in the world, there's some answers and advice.

For you.

And that's kind of the vibe of the project anyway, so it's like it's just a dad in a book form but aimed at young adults where nothing exists in that space, and they were very excited about that idea. So off I went and and then the and wrote the book.

Can you book my flight?

And it. The structure of the book is it's designed to sort of take you from the very first question. What is asexuality and what does that have to do with me into what is a sexuality mean in relationship with other people? So like relationships and how you deal with that. Then also, asexuality in the world. Now, how does my asexuality? Interact with the world and what can I expect from those interactions and where does it fit into both the larger queer community but also the world in? General and you know, like I I am. It's the book that I wish I would have found as an 18 year old trying to figure out what my experience was. It answered all the questions I had and it it attempted to it it said all the encouraging things I probably needed to hear as a young person to not go through my whole life thinking. I was broken. And that was so that was the book I put all of that into this into this lovely book, and it came out in February, and I went on a book tour and just. Like it was the. Coolest experience of my life to have this book go into the world and to get to, like, go to bookstores or. Go to university. And be in rooms with people other ace folks. We mostly have to spend our lives online, hanging out with each other. We don't really get, you know, there's no ace bar. You can go to in town to find all your other Ace friends. But here we were in bookstores, 4050 of us, in a bookstore, talking to each other, sharing our experiences. And just like having real life community was just just absolutely magical. Such a lovely time. And and yeah, this now the now the book is in the and it's cool. It's like on shelves. I go to bookstores and there it is. And it's like, that's like the neatest thing. Me. I'm. I'm. Obsessed with that still. Well, that's this nice.

Shade of purple, right? It's like it's. Yeah. So just like it's it's. Yeah. It's like it's purple and it's gonna be an eye catcher compared. Yes, absolutely. Aesthetically pleasing.

I mean, of course.

Yeah, which is great. Like, I love purple anyway. So, like, super glad that I just happened to be. I like the. Flag is right. For me, yeah. Like especially like I'm ace and non binary, so like the flags are.


Right. They work, the flags work. Yeah. So it's a lovely purple, really great. Happy to have it on. The bookshelf. It's good.

I love an aesthetically pleasing book. And then there's a second book, right? What is? What's the vibe going into?

The second book.

The second book project.

The second book project tackles relationships. Specifically, it is a relation. It's still for young adult readers, but it is a relationships book. Aimed to speak specifically to ACE and Aero young people, so it it covers all the things that make a good relationship, but talks about them through an ace and arrow lens. We don't really ever see relationship advice or relationship instruction directed at US specifically. We have to do the calculus for alloy. Relationships turn you know, OK, but so in an ace, sure in. A nice way. That's what that would. This specifically addresses our communities and then also the sort of tracks each kind of relationship talking about platonic relationships, romantic ones, sexual ones, parasocial ones, and also ultimately our how to build really positive relationships with the community, your community and the world where to put yourself in.

Got it.

In relationship to the larger spaces that we inhabit, but all directed to ACE and arrow young people so that they can feel empowered to have their relationships, they want whatever. They are uh with the with people that they care about.

I I really. Love that. I think the calculus around our relationships is such a valuable phrase and I just wanna name again. Right. And I think so. Like working with college students right in my, in my role in both these hats. Really. Yeah. There's not really a lot. Of content information or conversation spaces built around like. Relationships because it it's just kind of assuming well, you're ace or you know a spec. You don't have relationships, quote UN quote, which is untrue because there's a lot of different types of relationships. So I appreciate, you know, too breaking it down in that way and thinking about how valuable that could be. For young folks especially, I think about a activity I regularly do with my students where we talk about kind of like variations on attraction levels over time or different settings or what folks might assume their sexual orientation is, quote UN quote, right. And you know, we always find that that tool is so limited. When it comes to a spec folks and I've worked, you know, with some of my aspec students over the years to kind of continue to refine that and it is. Still perfectly and perfect to really kind of capture all those variations, but it still offers, you know, that's been maybe one of the only places I've seen us. Kind of be. Able to. Broach that conversation to say, but it's only based on what you're saying, kind of as an opposition to, well, this is all. We can this. Is what we can easily talk about regarding our relationships. Now that we know that this is limiting now we can talk about that, you know, instead of it being, let's lead with, you know, conversations around. Allow and AIDS experiences at the same time, so I can appreciate that for sure.

Well, yeah, and I and I find too that most, most of the stuff that that I do end up talking about when I because relationships are very big, a big part of my work in general, people have a ton of relationship questions like everything that's true for like good relationships are just good relationships. So all the things that are ultimately. Most of the things that are going to be true for any kind of relationship are also going to be true for ASIN and Arrow. Relationships too. It's just really valuable to include. Within within your context about relationships that not having an experience or know being part of the valid answers that can exist inside a relationship and and I feel like. What I what? I appreciate most about being an ACE person in the relationships that I exist in. My absence expands the options and expands the possibilities like we're forced to sort of. Imagine. And dream bigger, more expansive relationships than. It would if I was. Just in a relationship, if I was just an awful person in relations. I'm polyamorous. I have a husband and another romantic partner and a queer platonic partner who's the romantic partner of my husband. So, like, you know, we have to imagine. I have to imagine, like, really bigger, more expansive relationship landscapes for us because we're we're all coming with different sets of needs. And as a nice person.

Got it.

My needs are. Non normative and a little bit unexpected so. Yeah, we could imagine bigger things which I think is cool.

Right. Really awesome project to be able to dream and think in ways that aren't normative. As you're saying though. I imagine sometimes kind of. Exhausting and frustrating, which is why you're writing these. Books just to. Be like, well, this seems really obvious to me. Or these are the conversations. I regularly have let. Me. Document them, put them in video or publication form and. Not have to be the only. One having these conversations, yeah.

Right. Like I don't have to. I don't have to. I can just. Like send a link. Instead of a, here's a link just.

You can't be like King Enrique.

I'll watch that. Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

You named your non binary identity as well and wanting to maybe talk to the level you're comfortable to to that piece of. How some of? Your you know a a stat advice. Work has shape. Shifted to also that include, you know, some of your intersecting identities. You've spoken to your Poly am identity in this. In this way of having expansive conversations about how all the relationship details work, how has this kind of gender orientation, gender identity journey also kind of fit into these aha moments in relation to Ace polym? Ohioan, polycule etcetera. Like how is that fitting into all of these pieces?

Me, like recognizing, recognizing that I'm non binary is a direct result of the last couple of years of work and being in spaces with with other ACE and queer people and trans people and having conversations that I had just not had before and particularly like.


Having conversations because I I non binary and a gender or language is that is language that I use for myself and so like encountering other a gender people through this project has been like really wonderful because it through through their talking about their experiences I recognize my own experience and so that has really like.

Got it. OK.

That shaped my own internal process of of sort of figuring that out for. So and then also, it's also really lovely to have an online community that is that is robust and supportive like I have in order to do that publicly and share that publicly. So much of what Astata advice is, is I feel like about me being authentic about my own experience. Talking about myself and talking about what was hard for me, talking about what is hard for me. So integrating it into the project as a whole, this new thing that's happening it, I mean I had to do that, that was that had to be part of the process because it is it's it's what's happening to me. So and and that's what's part of Bastad advice in general.


And I'm still sort of sorting out what all that means in return, like in like you know. Certainly like as I have deepened my understanding of asexuality for myself, it has it. It changes the way that I think about my relationship to to gender generally. And so as that has changed.

Sorry, yeah.

Then my understanding of myself as a gendered person or a not gender person has all has changed as well. Polyamory is another thing that has always been a part of like it was part of my relationship, my marriage to my husband before any of this happened. But it is a thing that happens, so it's part of the public space and talking about how it connects to those other identities and how I as an ace person fit into a polycule of nothing but allows like just they're all around all the time. Is, you know is helpful. It's it's, it's helpful to the community of people that are that are also going through that. Or just seeing. You can be Ace and be in this construction of a relationship. You can be ace. And be out as a non binary person and be in a relationship. With a couple. Of other folks and everyone can get along and you can sort of like make your way through it. Yeah, all of it. I certainly don't think that I would be in this particular space as an individual had this project not become a thing. And I never I don't know that I ever would have, like, been given myself the space to investigate my own self as deeply or thoughtfully. I don't think I would have ever really come into contact with. Other people whose other people whose experience. Help me understand mine. Like I I use that advice is something that I owe like it's cool that it's happening to me, but like I owe it a ton. I owe Ace Dad a lot for the person I get. To be in my daily life, which is is cool like it's dad. I appreciate him. Good job, ice dad.

Yeah, I you. Know I think what you're naming. I feel like I've witnessed, you know, this kind of common narrative regardless of kind of what comes first, if you. Will, but there's this really. Amazing. Kind of. Stagger of unlocking that can happen will folks kind of enter into an understanding of whether it's. Kind of initiating out of a sexuality realization and gender realization, you know, in these in these categories, these limited categories. Where once you kind of start questioning in One Direction, you start to kind of arrive at these new places of understanding where where we can continue to push these lines, these binaries, these confines these limitations to say, well, this turned out not to be something I subscribed to or didn't match or. It's and now I'm learning that there's a whole nother series of things I can evaluate and interrogate and possibly unlock and undo for myself. So, you know, I think the just the level of interrogation that queer trans folks, you know, pursue in whatever direction they start is is just. Life with kind of this domino effect of once I knock down this wall, what's behind it? More walls for me to knock down and learn through. So yeah, I, you know, I think. The really valuable narrative that I think some folks, you know, some folks in the community, they stop, you know, they stop at a certain point. They're like I'm set right here. I'm good. And I'm like, that's fine. There might be. You know, there might be some more, you know, things behind. The curtain, if you. Took an extra step, but folks, you know, we'll move at their own pace, but. I am very familiar and. Enamored by the unlocking of all of these kind. Relative pieces.

Yeah. And and I also think you know I I think a lot to the about my age and how that plays into that too, you know I'm. 47 So I first. Recognized I was queer when I was 18. That's. 1994. In 1990. Four it was. AOL, like, that's the whole thing. There was not. There wasn't any sort of like real way of of of accessing information about ACE communities, Aero Communities, a gender, communities, non binary existence like that wasn't part of what was even a. Available so my options were gay or not and and so I I was I was able to fit myself into one kind of queer box, but it was never the right. I knew it was never. The right fit. Yeah. And then everything else. OK, so I found the one box that I had that was the only option on the table. Then you just sort of. Just you, like, internalize everything else and go OK? Well, that's it then. Cool. It isn't until I and and other other people who have come out as ace or or beyond like gay or or bi, who have come out at my age or or in the same area, have experienced this too. Like once the door opens and you realize, Oh no, no, my, my whole life experience, which I had never thought about or never. Question because there was never a reason to. There was never even like ohh I never. I never thought I could question those things. There is now a line of questioning, questioning I can undertake to better understand what that was.

Yes, sure.

If we.

Was and I know a lot of other folks who are my contemporaries who are experiencing the exact same journey of like Ace. Ohh yeah. Hey also non binary. I'm getting I'm there too. Same thing and yeah it's actually a a a thing I'm sort of I'm starting to work on it's a project that I just have I want to talk. In depth to people who have come out as either trans, Ace, arrow, a gender or non binary or intersex later in life to talk about what that experience is and to see what our commonalities are. Because I think we we don't know, we don't know as much about what it's like to be in your late 30s, forties, 50s. And then come out as queer right now because like it, it's a very unique experience and at the more that I talked to people my age who were in the same. But the more we're like like it's we're like the Superman means like pointing at the Spiderman mean like pointing at each other. Like, yeah, you, we're the same. I'm seeing that a lot in the conversations I have. So I feel like there's something really interesting there. And also like to add to and I think that adds to the understanding of what it means to be trans, non binary ACE arrow. To let us us olds how we experience those things and how it fits into our.

But I I think too. So I think back to we did a episode in our first season and it was about queer aging and it was. 3/3 of us who? Were either newly 30 or coming up on 30 right and. Talking about how like. Being cleared in your 30s is both this like.

Ohh gosh we.

Talked about like we've been in queer spaces like gay and lesbian spaces, I should say, kind of in our college age time, right? Which was fortunate for us and allowed us to kind of come to some, you know, earlier in life conclusions, but that we had also absorbed. This like subliminal message that thirty was like queer death. And that's what we talked about. Like gay death, right? Like and trying to piece apart and understand. Like, where did that come from? But then we got into this more kind of complex conversation where for folks. You know, for me, born and born in the 90s, right. Like knowing that coming to understand that they're because of history and because of, like, the AIDS epidemic and because of other kind of. Environmental factors that there's this gap, that kind of creates this, this lapse in the generational inheritance of history and understanding and language and connection and that we're kind of rebuilding that lineage in a certain way through things like TikTok and YouTube and community spaces. And that later on, right I was. I was texting my exec director and they and I. Are only two months apart. Same age, right? And we were both on that episode. Would where I in retrospect right, had talked about how being kind of a queer person in your 30s, you're seen as an elder, which feels incorrect, but also because of those kind of generational gaps of the lineage that I mentioned. Right. Like who else is there? And so as. Soon as you look like a glorified adult. You suddenly kind of live in this nebulous elder category and even hanging out with my friends recently. On my institute. Team right? I was like, I'm the senior NBA. How the heck did that happen? Like I've like, I've claimed that for the longest. Like, out of all of my like, Tolly eggs. And I was like, this feels wrong. Like this stuff this. No way.


Like that's not possible and that just this concept of like who's an elder or who's a mentor who's a. Ability is so nebulous and that in that way it sometimes I think can erase or like, make imprecise the fact. That there are. Folks who are in an elder age bracket, a genuinely elder age bracket who do have stories but are also to your point, coming into some newness of understanding of their own sense of selves. In ways that we only assume exist for folks in their late teens early 20s, that developmental stage of understanding. So how to kind of collapse? Those miss assumptions. I think that they are to say, like everybody's at different places and there's a lot of mirrors that we can hold up to each other to find resonance and connection across all of these new places of understanding because it's not just college students who are coming to their aha moments. It's folks who are 47 folks who are 57. I had a phone call recently to my office from someone who was 70. Three and they. Were like I'm non binary. I need an elder. Group and I. Was like I don't know where to send. You, but we'll. Figure it out. You know 73 calling me.

That's beautiful. That's so beautiful.

I love.

Yeah. Well, and I think like, I think there's something really magical about that. I think there's something really magical about being at this particular moment where you can be young but know more. You can be young, but your experience can be rich and you can be the elder but still be young or you can be you can be someone who has lived a lot of life. But is still. At the very beginning and needs a. Mentor, who's younger than. That I there's something just so like, beautifully queer about that and and really it it it's like there's such wonderful equal there isn't so much a hierarchy like we can all come to this table together and share what we know and support each other and and provide what we have so that we can all have wonderful queer happy lives together.


And we we, we it doesn't matter how old we are or it doesn't matter if that we are young. What we know is what? We know what we can. Give is what we can give and like it. It's a beautiful place. To be and I am. It excites me very.

Much and I, and I think that's the place for us to continue to exert more. Energy because you. Know on the unfortunate side, I've definitely been a person in my like relative youth here, like who's experienced instances where. You know, elder queers, if you will have indicated that like I haven't paid my dues or we haven't, you know, put in enough work and and then inversely right. Like there's definitely, you know my generation if you will is implicated and Gen. Z is implicated in assuming that folks who are you know. Gen. X and boomers. I really hate generational differences, but this is the language we have. We'll fix that later. But like you know, older generations. A lot of. Touch or they don't really know as much, and it's like neither of those things necessarily have to be true. But we've kind of created this false dichotomy of young folks haven't been around enough to know anything. And that quote UN quote older folks are out of touch because they've just, you know, they've just stopped and. It's like that we all. Carry this embodied history. I really valued this phrase of embodied history that I'm gleaning from a a space that I was in this summer, and I think that the amount of data that exists in that embodied. History doesn't matter if you have an 18 year old body or a 47 year old body right? Like it's it's there, it's data, it's very informative and it's all very valuable. So kind of finding these ways to kind of collect all of that data to say. I've been a non binary person for eight years. I've been on this planet for 32 years. That means something, right? And so how do I be in conversation with folks who are? 10 years older. 20 years older but also 10 years younger. I have a niece that's 9A. Niece. That's seven. Right. So that's a that's a gap. But right. I'm thinking about gender and I'm thinking about things in ways in which I'm existing with youth, you know. We just. Put the attention. There and I think we'll have a better time of kind of really showcasing to each other the ways that. We can move. Together 100%.

And then I think that's also like the location where we can really build power like that's that's that's a place where we like that coalition, that building of community is is where our power is. And I feel like we need that now, you know, like I I I really hate the idea that we just sort of see we sort of see like it's the world against young queer people. Like we have to stamp out the. The queerness, because it's young and like, get the Youngs. More of us who aren't the Youngs, who are finding our queerness especially. Like the the the. The the kinds of queerness that people are tribute as just like youth invention. We need to be more present and say like no, there's no you've also got to contend with adults too. Like we're we are a collective power and there's it isn't just like the kids.


There's there's all of us too, and we deserve that same space and we are asking for the same thing. It's a beautiful place to build power, which I hope we do that more.

I agree, you know, and I think it's having conversations like this and holding space. You know, multi generations of folks. Which is rare, right? Like. It maybe it's not as rare in other communities and spaces, but there's kind of a divide of like I I think the motion, the valid notion of protecting youth, has become a place where we've kind of created this wall between the spaces we are in where we are. Protecting and that we kind of have to keep things hush, hush and separate amongst the glorified adults. And for those of us who don't really fit. Into that lake. Fake binary. It's like, well, now we're looped out of the conversation or we're in the the framing I was giving my exec director after our crew agent conversations about being a queer person in your 30s. I feel like we're perpetually talking about wanting to build some, like, wholesome little like safe house for the youth. But then also wanting. At this point, wanting to create like you know, wholesome, safe spaces for the for the older folks, right, like right in between of this book, end of like, just wanting to hold space and. Protect everyone because it's an all-encompassing barrage of nonsense that we're all experiencing so. Ohh, the fight continues. Slight pivot in a different direction. But there. Was a post that you shared recently that I just was very, very in love with and it kind of connects to this conversation about youth and your kind of target audience being providing this a stat advice to a younger audience, you would share this? Post about how. Regarding your own pronouns that you had been making concessions, and I loved that word, right? You've been making concessions to people to be OK, quote UN quote with the they he set of pronouns and that you are squashing that you're like, Nope, I'm I'm making concessions. I'm conceding to people. That's not the case. They them pronouns. All the way and I've had. Experiences with young folks who? I think they're just. They're not apathetic, but they practice a level of apathy because they don't have the fight or bite in them to continue to make that case. So they make that same concession and I think modeling that was something where I've seen it come up so much with my college students that I work with. But I just wanted to name that I value you, naming that out loud to say. I'm done making those concessions. Yeah, that's there's. No question there. I'm just saying, like, I love that and that is a big deal.

Like thank you. And yeah, it was really something. And and something I've been thinking about for a minute is when I I I made a video a while back to talking about why I was originally using they, he and specifically naming, you know, well, you know that's how the world is and you know and naming all the things that I was conceding to. And and just in recently in some work that I've been doing, I just was talking a lot about talking and thinking a lot about the ways in which we are unkind to ourselves is like a scenario people in the way that we are. We should practice more kindness. And I was recognizing ohh. You know I'm. I'm. Doing the the. They he thing with everyone because I'm more worried about being kind to other people than I am about me and I had an experience online where somebody used he to describe me and like describe me as like a man, a white man. And I was maybe like, you know, that's, I mean, technically sure that's it's within the bounds of what I'm allowing, but I don't like it and. I was like, so I'm. Not being kind to myself, I should. I should choose to be kind to myself and. He is OK with. People who are super close to me. But if I don't know you, or if you're kind of in the world in a professional space, this is what I want instead. And instead of prioritizing someone else, he's kind of someone else. I'm prioritizing being kind to myself 1st and what I want first. That's and. And yet a lot of people responded very positively to that. And I was like, yeah, be kind to yourself. You too if you want. They them do.

It do it. Yeah, I yes that it. It's as simple and complicated as. That, you know, I think. Like I said, I work with the college students like you who have had come, who've I've had conversations. With her like. I do really prefer this. But I don't have it in me to really care enough about a, you know, standard gender pronoun to tackle it. And I was like, well, you're gonna have, you know, you get to navigate and negotiate in the spaces that you're in. I think continuing to name a preference matters. You shouldn't have to name it as a. Preference if it's. Not, but in this moment, that's. That's where you're at. So yeah, I think figuring out is there a place where. It turns into. Is it a? A general shrug. I don't care enough to battle it, and I genuinely don't. Or is it A to your point? Right, I'm not doing right by me. Or I could be practicing better, better boundaries around this language. I think that prompts a question for me too. Is that like in this Assad persona? Space? That's very on the Internet, you know, public facing figure. How have you navigated? I guess boundaries in a simplified way, but just kind of navigating your openness, naming things, you know, naming the complexity of things posing these questions that don't always have easy answers, inviting a lot of folks into your life as you also kind. Kind of step by step work through it yourself. How have you? Kept pieces of that for yourself. How have you navigated? What to share and what to keep and the feedback and the questions and the like. Just how have you navigated? Here's all of me, but probably not all of you. How have you kept that balance?

Yeah, yeah, like I. I really think about myself and Ace Dad as two separate things. I talk about Ace Dad as another person.

Got it. Yeah, I'd rather, yes.

I will. I'll be I'll. Talk to my partner and be like, oh, I really. I need to, like, gather ace that energy today because. I don't have. It. Yeah. Or, you know, like, what would his dad? Do in this situation that it. They, in my mind, they're very separate things. I do think of while there's nothing inauthentic about what I do online, it is. It is very curated. And I very specifically what I'm sharing is very specific. And the things that I allow people into or things that I've thought very deeply about it being OK for that to be open for other people. But there's a lot of my life that. Isn't really for others consumption and I keep very clear space between that. I like helping people so I'm I don't I get a ton of questions. I try to answer as many as I can and I try to engage in and as much as I possibly can, but when I'm not able to, I don't feel bad about. Putting it aside and just letting it be. Own thing, but they they just sort of if they're to me, they're very separate spaces. Assad advice is I talk about it, it is. It is a project. It's not like my life. My life is a is a much messier. It is a. Much less curated. Yeah, less curated, kind of a chaotic. Dungeon space, but it's. Yeah, like, it's much messier. But but like that sort of helps me like. I'm not going on the Internet and sharing everything that happens every day. If I make a video, if I make a post or whatever I am sharing, I've thought a lot about it and it has been. I'll sometimes even talk to my family about what is OK to share and what isn't, you know, like is that. Can I talk about that?

That makes sense, yeah.

Yeah, it it's all very curated and very thought about. So if something does show up, it will be authentic and be like I'll wholeheartedly be sharing a thing. But I've thought a lot about whether or not that thing I'm gonna share that's or that's a question I want to answer. Or if that's a thing I want to have people ask me about. Yeah.

I appreciate that my I've been really inspired since I forget when this video popped up earlier this year, I think. But Dylan Mulvaney met Laverne Cox and. There was this very. Specific moment that Luverne, you know very simply, sternly and passionate, compassionately said. Keep some of it for you, right. And I think that. The timing of that was so prime for what ended up transpiring in Dylan's life, right. And what has been transpiring, you know, in all queer and trans folks's. Lives as you. Know things heat up as we're headed towards an election. You know, election year, November comment. You know, it's it's all the trails out there. We gotta talk about that, right? There, we know. It's there. Well, hold on to that for a long time. Right. And as someone who's also somewhat very on the Internet, like being being very intentional and thinking about what is for us. What is not being put out there for public consumption, but also like cyst, heat consumption has definitely been a guiding light and I've thought about laverne's words for a long time. So in that, you know, in your. Or your case. Of this is. Very personal, right? This is a invitation into things. Better deeply deep, seated into your mind, your psyche, your daily life. You know, and I appreciate you sharing kind of like, how do you how do you kind of strategize around giving enough of yourself to be authentic and genuine and what you're offering? These are your genuine thoughts, your genuine words, your genuine experiences, but also not. Giving it all and kind of relinquishing yourself to. The house gate that is sometimes the Internet.

Yeah, that 100% that no and and as as the project grows, I interact with that part of the world more you know like lately videos are getting more popular. And so they're they're they're spreading around. And so I I will go through days sometimes.

Yeah. Yeah, we.

Just having like a slew of just really. Unpleasant things said about myself and and generally and. What I appreciate about the kind of the way that I've kind of divided those two things. All the great things I I love when people say nice things, but if but all the hate stuff they're talking about is that that's not me. I don't have to hold on.

Make sure.

To that, that is, that's a that's.

You can compartmentalize. Love that.

Problem. Yeah, a that will handle that and yeah, like. I really I really. Appreciate that that having that separate space, I loved that video with Dylan and Laverne Cox. I was like, yes, that is 100%. It because you like and that part that you keep back I think is you have to be really protective of it because it's the part that fuels the stuff that you do share. Like if if you just share everything, you're not gonna have the juice, you're. Not gonna have. The the ability to to share authentically, you're gonna burn that part out really fast, and you've got to protect the. The like soft part that that makes that so that you can continue doing the work and I I know that like it's really important it's important for us to not just like be out there teaching but being vulnerable about our lives and being soft and authentic and vulnerable as queer people is a really powerful thing to do. In the world, especially when you're older too. Like they don't. Yeah, you know.

Yes, I think that was.

Be a little bit of a.

Also, yeah, a prime example too of the generational gap. You know the generational like transcendence between those two speaking, right, you've got this very young emerging trans woman. You've got Laverne. Who's what? What does she allege? I'm going to Google this because the it's surprises me every time she doesn't. There's no way she's the age she is. Missing woman Cox age she is. Allegedly 51 years old, right? So just. Like I like I was. Like I need.

To Google it because.

I just. Yeah. So just like, allegedly 51. And then, Dylan, I'm sure is mid mid 20s, right. So.

No way.

Just that speaks to. That generational piece, right? Laverne has learned. I'm sure she's learned in hard ways of like, how much is worth sharing, especially with her multiple modulations and intersections. So I think. There's a powerful moment and I think a lot of folks clung. On to some of. The cringe in that interaction, right? We get this tiny snippet. You know, Dylan's kind of excited talking over, overlapping, speak, blah, blah blah. A lot of folks focused there. I heard the message loud and clear right when Laverne said keep some for you talking to someone who literally every single day was sharing her innermost thoughts and realizations and coming into her transit. And that's a ******* lot to put out into the world and I think. That I've witnessed that shift in Dylan, even prior to the, you know, the mess, the mess that transpired, right? We.

Yeah, the math. Yeah, yeah. We that we all know the best.

And I think that the timing of that matters, you know, and I think that the timing of that in this era where we're wanting to push out more stories and information about our collective queer and trans experiences be intentional being strategic, putting out what matters, making the connections that matter, signal boosting in the ways that matter, right. That is the artistry. And the strategy and the tact that we have to otherwise it will all get Co opted and no longer belong. To us.

Yeah, like I have nothing to add to that.

Reach put a bow on that one. I could do this all day, but I feel like my editor will disagree, so I'm trying to find a really so OK we we talked about kind of the up and. Coming book the. I am Ace came out in February so. That's still kind of. A new. That made its new debut. So beyond, I guess those. Books which which we we love a book. For Ace Dad advice as a project, what else is in the queue? Or what else is on your big wish List vision board coming up?

I'm I'm I'm doing some like in person things which is very cool I'm doing I'm I'm doing a couple of college visits over the fall and into the spring and I'm doing a couple of other like workshop situations in the world. I'm starting work on kind of formulating a first like adult readers book about stuff that I'm working on and and I wrote a children's book which we're hoping an arrow Ace children's book, which I am hoping finds some home in the world. So yeah. Like my, I guess my master plan is to to have like a full scope of books that address someone from the very youngest to the to adulthood, where you can find Arrow, Ace and a gender experience. Depicted and celebrated across the way because there's still a long way to go in that. In that regard.

From literally all ages.

Yeah, for I want to hit every age group, every bracket. But yeah, like I don't. I want to just get out into the world more. And I I love the Internet stuff. I love getting to do things from this desk that I'm at. Right now, but. Being in the world and sharing community with people in person and talking about these things is really invigorating and really beautiful. And we don't get to do that enough as a scenario. People. So I'm hoping that that is the next phase where I'm doing more of that in the. World, because that would be a delight.

Got it, got it.

And get a degree. I wanna get my masters. That's to get my masters.

OK. So two year program, two years or one year, OK.

It's it's a couple of years it the the the program combines a there's a a combined program for a BA and an MA in general studies. So I'm just doing the whole thing because I can I have the time and space and the ability. So I'm taking, I think it's going to take like three years maybe to do the whole shebang button. Yeah, should be great.

That's the great. Well, let I'm gonna. Give you just. Any more space that you want, if there's any final words of wisdom Ace dad advice you want to offer as we wrap up this chat that I've enjoyed so, so much.

I mean like I don't I get well, no. Like, I mean, I think the thing that the biggest lesson that I have learned from doing this is something I kind of always knew. But just the power of authentically being yourself and sharing that with some. Circle of the world. You can make a lot of change, no? Matter who you. Are by just sharing your queer self with a small circle of people. Your, your, your bigger community getting on the Internet and talking about it, no matter what your age is, no matter who you are, that's a lot. It's a very powerful thing you can do is sharing your queer experience. And you can change peoples minds and lives by doing that. That's happened to me. That is the thing that I hear when I'm encountering people around this project so. In as far as you are able and safe and comfortable, share yourself with some part of the world because it makes it. It makes a really big difference. It is impactful even if you think it isn't.

Thank you so much Cody for. Hanging out this has been splendid.

I loved it. This was so. Much fun. Let's do it every week, every week.

You know, there could be. A spin off. Let's go.

I love it.


Our inbox is open for all of your insight, feedback, questions, boycotts, memes and other forms of written correspondence. You can contact us at lastbite@sgdinstitute.org. This podcast is made possible by the labor and commitment of the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity staff. Particular shout out to Justin, Andy and Nick for all of your support with editing, promotion and production. Our amazing and queer as fuck cover art was designed by Adrienne McCormick.