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: firstname.lastname@example.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
Heyhihello Midwestie Besties, it’s me, R.B., your overeager tour guide of all things Midwest queer and trans welcoming you to Season 4 of Take the Last Bite, a show where we take Midwest Nice, slide it through a paper shredder and then toss it around like eco-friendly confetti.
I’m absolutely thrilled for all that this new season has in store, I’ve already chatted with some incredible queer and trans folks with connections to the Midwest. You do not wanna miss the conversations we’ve got in the queue so please take a moment to subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen so you get pinged every other Tuesday when we push out new content.
I also invite you to find Take the Last Bite on TikTok for some mini-morsels of Midwest LGBTQ+ moments, some unhinged clips of literal last bites, and so much more. You can find the link to our TikTok in the show notes or by searching “Take the Last Bite podcast” in the TikTok app.
In the time since we wrapped up Season Three, our team has been hard at work planning the 31st annual Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference, which is being hosted in Lexington, Kentucky the weekend of November 3-5. We’ve been collaborating with a fabulous group of student planners at the University of Kentucky & we recently finalized this year’s conference theme: Queer Joy as our Lasting Legacy.
What’s always rewarding about working with college students is getting their insight on what’s the most pressing issues, who’s the most exciting speaker prospects, and being able to expand our intergenerational worldviews by working together on this big gay group project. One thing that’s been a key focus for this year’s team is providing the conference space as a collective sigh of relief, an opportunity to put down our battle-gear for a few moments and be nurtured by the healing powers of queer joy and contribute to our lasting legacy.
As season four of the show plays out, I’ll be sure to provide updates and details on how you can participate in this year’s conference. Our call for workshop proposals is open from April 10 until May 22 and registration for the conference is officially open. You can find more information about the conference at mblgtacc.org
What’s also been true since you last heard from me is we continue to be bombarded with egregious, nasty anti-trans legislation and dealing with the social impacts of how even when a bill isn’t passed, it creates a dynamic where those who fear queer and trans power are emboldened to say the quiet parts of their hatred out loud. At this point, it’s impossible to just happen to be gay, we are all called and many of us are already deeply engaged in the necessary and tiring work of combating the attacks against us.
What we are witnessing as a result is incredibly creative pathways to demanding justice, building power, and rejecting the social norms that entrap us. A few examples just from the last month include citizens in Tennessee calling for robust gun law reforms in the aftermath of a devastating mass shooting in Nashville and when three members of the state legislature were penalized or removed for their participation in related protests, those same citizens fought back against the democracy-defying choices of the Republican-controlled Tennessee House of Representatives and ensured progressive house representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were reinstated in their seats.
A prime example proving trans people have immense power took place via TikTok when content creators Mercury Stardust and Jory hosted a 30-hour livestream to raise money for Point of Pride, an organization led by Aydian Dowling that creates access to gender-affirming healthcare needs. They not only surpassed their original goal of one million dollars, they doubled it! And were also able to secure funding for their own biomedical transition needs on top of it.
And of course we must acknowledge that the age of protesters continues to trend younger and younger as we’ve seen k-12 walkouts across the country in protest of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, especially in major battleground states where the legislation poses particular challenges to queer and trans children.
We are seeing history in the making. And while most of us are pretty fed up with living in unprecedented times, it’s motivating to see queer and trans folks leading the way to ensure our history isn’t just one big dumpster fire and that our futures are filled with joy.
Our guest today knows all about promoting queer and trans accomplishments on a national and global scale. Charlie Sprinkman, creator of the Everywhere is Queer map, started with a simple idea and has seen their original concept grow into a user-generated showcase of all the amazing ways queer and trans folks are making space for themselves, including jobs and small businesses. We chat about where this idea came from, what all goes into creating a map, and what’s next for this digital cartography project.
So drop a pin and take the fastest route to this episode of Take the Last Bite
[INTRO MUSIC PLAYING]
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.
All right, so let's go ahead and get right into it. I'm super stoked for this conversation, especially because kind of a low key inspiration for the podcast in general is really focusing on kind of like queer space, place and time, which is something that, you know, a whole lot about. So why don't we kick off with you introducing yourself a little bit? And tell me about your relationship to the Midwest.
Yeah, absolutely. Hi, everyone. My name is Charlie. I use they pronouns. I'm originally from small town, Pewaukee, WI, so a little bit outside of Milwaukee, 30 miles West of Milwaukee, about an hour east of Madison.
It is a geographically gorgeous area. It is a very conservative, very religious. Yes, area as well. Well, yeah. So my relationship to the Midwest born and. Raised in Pewaukee. I come from many generations. My grandparents were born and raised. My great grandparents were born and raised, and pretty much Pewaukee WI. So yeah, lots of generations that haven't left and. I'm breaking that mold, but I have a lot of love for the Midwest. I do. I do. I do. I don't live there now, but I have a lot of love for the Midwest.
So I I'm curious then how how your relationship to the Midwest were kind of coming from smaller town conservative religious bent? Wisconsin has kind of informed this project that you've been this this little project you've been working on for.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Just a little bit. Everybody's clear map. So talk about this project a bit. Where did this idea come from? How did it get started? Tell us about it.
Yeah. So, I mean, I didn't come out till I was 21 years old. I'm grateful I went to university in Fort Collins, Co. So I went to Colorado State. But so yeah, I did not have a queer experience in Wisconsin, or at least an out queer experience for myself, for me. I think back on my younger self and. I wish I had at least one queer person, just like kind of call me out and be like I see you like. I I see you. That's all I wanted was just like one person to see me. Because, I mean, I spent. My entire childhood in Catholic grade school. So kindergarten, 8th grade, and then I went to a public high school, but telling myself, waking up every single day that I'm straight. It will change tomorrow and truly, truly, truly did believe that within myself, like I was like, it's just a phase. Just a thought. Like tomorrow I'll wake up straight. So yeah, I reflect below back on just like my little childhood self or even my high school self. And even if I wasn't out, I feel like I would have been drawn to a queer owned business. Let's just say a queer owned coffee shop. To go sit there and not be out. And just see. Queer people exist, and working, and part of our society as an adult in the system. Like I I I needed that and I did not have that experience and so. That's like the first plant of the seed. Of everywhere is clear. Obviously had not thought of the idea yet. We'll Fast forward to. Post college so 2021. I think it. Was I went to brave trails. Oh, wait, one more thing. Before this 2019 I got a job.
And I lived out of a van for a year. They gave me a van and they were like, travel the United States.
And so I went to 48 of the 50 States and on these travels, I was out at this point, I was, like, Googling, like Queer Hangouts here, Queer Hangouts there, like I was in New York City. I was. In Lexington, KY, I was in Minneapolis, MN. I was all over the place and could not really find a. Resource that was like. Where to hang out as a queer person in all of the spaces, even New York City. I'm like, OK, yeah, I can. Go to these queer bars. But like wanted some more, so yeah. They're seed planted there and then I went to brave trails 2021, which is a queer youth leadership camp outside of LA. They do amazing work. I am going back for my third summer this coming summer. And the first year that I went. It was a space. Of 100 queer people, and that was the first time in my life where I've been in a space of solely 100 queer people and. It was euphoric. Like it was nobody commented on my voice. Nobody you know commented on my appearance, and that was the first time in seven days that my voice hasn't been commented on and it just like, rocked my world in the best possible way and. So I was driving back to Colorado, where I lived at the time from brave trails, and I had a 16 hour drive from LA and. On my drive, I was like, everywhere is queer, you know, like kids, kids had just. Come from all over the world. To this camp, and I was just like, these are kids like, we're everywhere. And I was like. How can people? Feel that euphoric experience that I just had at brave trails. In the real world and. I was like, I wonder if. A worldwide map of queer owned businesses exists. And so I pulled my car over and I was just like, Googling and Googling and Googling. And it was like a vogue article that was like, support these 12 queer own businesses in 2012. And I was like, OK, cool. Like, not relevant, could not find anything. And I was like, OK.
OK, maybe onto something and I was like, I'm gonna go back home. I'm going to take a deep breath. I'm going to keep Googling. Make sure this. Doesn't exist. I did find some like localized maps like I I've I found one that's like New York City, queer owned businesses, but nothing at a grander scale. And so yeah, I dove into my computer. You know, it was 2020. I was at break trails then January. No, it's 2021 then January 2022 I launched January 2nd, 2022 I. Launched February queer. And here we are, a year in. Just about three months. Later or two months later, yeah.
So things moved. Seemingly quite fast after pulling over on the road on your way back from brave trails to, say, create a map. How did you? Did you already have a skill set in kind of curating like a map like that? Like how did you even figure out the wherewithal to, like, design something like that? Like, how did you actually physically create this map?
I have absolutely no background in any of this. I will say that nothing is well. I have a new map, so my original map is nothing is coded or anything like that. So like my OG map. Was just me. Being like, how do I build the map and like? I mean there's like Google My Maps it's called and that's where it was hosted. And I just found a way for people to apply and then I had a very tedious process of adding each single PIN onto the map, which is how it started and. And then I am my undergrad degree is entrepreneurship, which yeah, I am grateful for. Yeah, college business was not my my favorite, but.
So I I I did have some like ideation knowledge in my head and just kind of. Like went with it.
I was like, let's see. What happens? Yeah.
There's something very inherently queer, I think, to just being like I don't know how to do this, so I'm just gonna take to. The powers of Google and I'm just gonna play around and I'm gonna hyperfixate and focus on this project and make it work. And now you've got this really like you've got color coding, you've got icons, you've got, you know, search tools and filters like this very kind of like sophisticated tool that from what sounds like original a very original like you found the first tool you could use and started. That's really cool. That's really awesome.
Yeah, just starting with an Excel doc of like your own businesses.
Where it started. Well, and it it.
Makes sense too, cause I. You know, I think that. You know, when you talked about like you found some localized maps, you know, I think that that is kind of the way like queer folks have attempted to put together. Like I think I've encountered a lot of directories, for example of just. Kind of like. Lists, you know, either published or like travel guides. There's something very waspy I feel like about the travel guides sometimes that get published and just like. There's this very expensive queer resort or queer cream. From if you can go and I'm like, that's cool. I don't have the coin for that. Can you give me something else? So just kind of have. I feel like, you know, click. Around the map circa now, right. There's just a lot of like. Chill opportunities and just like you know, independent owners in their Etsy shops like there's just kind of a lot of like working class, queer focused pieces and I think that's kind of refreshing for a place of like, I'm looking for a place that isn't going to cost a lot of money that isn't going to be, you know, a lot of like. CIS white gay men, for example. You know where? Where do the queers go? You know, I'm seeing.
I'm seeing that definitely a lot on the map.
What is the?
Process if any, like on the back end. OK, so someone goes to your site, they submit. They say I'd like to be on the map. You know. What are you looking at on the back end? When you receive that to say, Yep, you can definitely go on the map. What does that look like?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, every single. I'm, I'm I get a a pop up on my phone when every single business has added and we're at almost 2000 businesses at this point. So I get a. It's been a lot, you know, but I my heart still skips a beat every time. Like someone kind of applies to be on. My map. So I just me as the type a person that I kind of am. I'm I say I'm AB, but I go immediately check out all everything like the social media obviously. Like they put in a bio, people can submit photos for a potential highlight. So yeah, I just like dive into the the business. I check out their website, I yeah, that's it. I mean like I I. I do believe like there is a little bit of an. Honor code here and. I'm sure at some extent it's going to get so big, we're going to need. To make something a little bit more, you know the application a little bit. More robust, but at this time you know, I just check out. All of their. Stuff cause. One, I'm just curious, like, let's see what's what's new. You know, there's so many fascinating businesses on the net. That I'm like queer people are amazing. You're blowing my minds at what y'all can do out in. This world.
What are some of the examples of some of the cool things you've seen so far, like just a bit like a clear business that you just didn't even fathom could be a thing? Or what? What are? What are folks doing? That you've seen come through so far.
A hoof cleaner.
A house cleaner.
I loved that one. Peoples inclusive welding in Portland, ME, they're they host a ton of like welding workshops and they like want to teach people white collar skills and like their whole thing. And they're on a mission to like creating a more inclusive like white collar experience, which. I just think it's so. Cool and like I I would learn how to Weld from queer people.
Yeah, that pays well welding.
My dad owns a whole thing. My my dad owns welding. Of me. So like. Not working for my dad, but.
What else? I mean, I would say one of the biggest categories is Barber shops. Are we surprised? I don't know. Like, no, you know, Duluth, MN represents several trans owned businesses, which is so beautiful. Real estate agents are a big one, you know.
Yeah, a lot of tattoo artists. Uhm, or like tattoo studios? Yeah, as more arise in my head, I will, I'll. Call them out with. Some of the other like random ones. But as you said earlier, I welcome all online businesses as you do not have to be a brick and mortar, you could just have an Etsy account. Honestly, if you're just selling on your Instagram like DM me on my Instagram and Venmo me for some earrings. Made like I'm here to have you on my map. Like I want to welcome everyone no matter where you are. There's no cost to be on the map. And so I just hope that this map will. Uplift and support these businesses, which it has, I mean a. Lot of people have told me so.
That's really exciting. I think what was was really interesting for me, you know, toying around with the map a little bit just to kind of see like what? Is on here. You know I've. Been in Duluth for six years and I'm aware of like several, you know, either queer own businesses or folks who do like queer work that maybe isn't formally, you know, made his business. And there were. There were pins in my area. Just like I was not aware of like. I do LGBTQ work in this area and so like I have a certain level of connection, but there were things that just like I was surprised to find. And I think that that possibility even for folks who like are highly immersed in queer culture or like queer community in their spaces still being able to find like new things like that is an experience that I wasn't expecting. I was like, oh, I bet I'm going to be able to. Like tell you know, there were ones on there and it's especially like small, like, like independent content creators. I was like, oh, that's really nifty. Like, I didn't know that there's like a. I don't even know what it was like a. Freeze dried food company. Or something. I don't think that's what it. Was, but I was just like, yeah. Yeah, but we have. Like just?
Yeah, we have lots of, like, backpacking meals. You know, there's a few. Of them on on on the map for sure. Yeah. You know, for me, I live in bend OR so uh town of 100,000 people. I am moving to Portland OR here shortly. But bends 100,000 people. There's not one queer bar in Bend, OR it's Central Oregon. It's a liberal pocket here in bend. But 15 minutes outside, if you're. Very conservative, which I actually believe is in most cities few miles outside of it conservative, but there's 55 to 60 queer owned businesses in Bend OR. Now, once again, they're not all brick and mortar. We do have a handful of brick and mortar spots, but yeah, I keep hearing left and right. And bend like I had no idea. Or I just made a new friend because I reached out for them to be my therapist. Now they're not gonna be my therapist. But they're gonna.
Be my friend. You know, like it it's. For me like. I hope it also just. Provides that space like I share this. I share this story of like if. I would I welcome any all drag Queens, kings and everything in between. And because I believe that all those humans are businesses themselves, I mean, we get that money, honey, you know. And so like, if there's a drag queen, king or anyone in between on as like a a pin on my map. And then there's a breakfast joint or something. And they're like, wait, let's do brunch like, like that is.
Everything I want to happen and I've I've heard of that happening, and I've heard of collaborations between businesses happening because they found each other because of my map like that is what I want and for me it's community like everyone deserves to be seen for no matter who they are and deserves community and. I just hope that my map can. Help build that locally or as people travel you know.
What has been your thoughts or experience so far? Right. I'm so you know, I'll focus on the. US for 2.5. We have states. Who are, you know. In essence, trying to ban the existence of queer and trans people and then knowing that your map is worldwide, right, and the possibility of countries who have very extensive like anti LGBTQ laws. You know what, what has been your experience or what are you kind of bracing for as we kind of experience, you know, other countries or even now states in the US that? They're anti who have codified anti queer and trans laws, and then there's this public map that exists where these businesses may be existing in spaces where they're technically. I'm doing our quotes not supposed to like what has been that experience so far.
Totally, I will say that every single business on my map has consented to be on my map. So I actually don't add any businesses. I've never added a single business to my map. I mean they apply and then I add them, but yeah. So I always want to like preface that like some people are like, hey you, you're this could be used in their own way. Your resource and you know there are bad and sad people out there and unfortunately it might be and I hope that it never is, but. I am here in these states all over the world, but in these particular states where we're being targeted as grand trends people, I'm, I'm here to uplift the voices of those queer owned businesses. You know, we live in a capitalistic society where money is huge and if we can put more money in the hands of queer and trans folks, think about what we can build like from there. So for all that I can do, I'm not going to save the world. I want to highlight and uplift the voices of queer owned businesses, no matter where you are in the world. And yeah, get more money into the hands. Of those folks.
That's valid. That's fair. I just. I'm curious how like. Probably in the continued evolution of this project, right? Like folks making those decisions or you know, if you'll if you'll experience in the next year, you know knowing that we have record numbers of anti trans bills, especially if folks may contact you and decide hey, like I've changed my mind and like I need my, you know stuff removed or it's actually drawing undue attention so.
You know, it's just unfortunate that we have to kind of play offense in that way. But you know, that's definitely a thing. But I I think it's valuable to know. Like folks consent and they opt into this experience, you're not seeking out and kind of, you know, looking through the Internet to find cool businesses. Not to say that you might not reach out to them. But just like that, those folks are saying I am choosing to have my. Stuff up I also like. The the part too about the connectivity piece of of folks finding each other. Cause I think about a conversation that happened on the podcast for season. Who I believe. Where I talked to a friend, Slash colleague who is a. Quian trans affirming therapist in Menominee, Wisconsin, also very small town Wisconsin, right.
And so they what was ironic and interesting talking to them is that you often think about the circumstance in the other way, where folks in rural areas maybe are are looking to make major metro areas to find affirming healthcare, whether it's therapists or other providers.
And they were actually finding that folks were trying to to. Reach out from, you know, Milwaukee or Madison to connect with them because it was someone kind of external who maybe wasn't immersed in whatever, like circle of queer community existed in those areas. And what a what a what a value. It will be to have, like, queer and trans therapists popping up in this tool for folks to seek out to. Not even know that someone who's you know queer, trans, nonbinary, and amazing doing work in Menominee, Wisconsin, right? I think that feels just like, you know, how do we? You know, do the things that queers do and like bridge the communication gap and make sure that like we are finding each other and I think that that feels really valuable and promising that like individual people who provide certain services can find their way onto the map and kind of frame it in a way that says, you know, maybe you're associated with a a clinic, but like, you can. You know, promote yourself as I ioffer these services, and here's the ways you can access them, even if it's just to be able to connect with someone to say I don't have a therapist like you. I don't live in your state, so you're not licensed. To support me, but can I just say hi and maybe get some feedback from you about how to fire my ****** therapist, right? Like you know what I have like.
Whatever it means to have that connection. So I, yeah, love that.
Yes, yes, yeah. I mean, therapist is a category on my math and I it it's growing everyday and I have met so many amazing queer therapists out there just doing the work. And it's so amazing. First of all, the therapists in Menominee, Wisconsin. Like, you're amazing. Keep doing you. You're like, so grateful for you and. So, like where people are everywhere. Like everywhere is queer like we are everywhere and we just need to like, find each other like in the most my joke about everywhere is queerest. You know, I have the privilege of being on an app like Grinder and I've. Been in the ruralist. Parts of America. There's people on Grinder and so we are everywhere, you know like. UM, yeah.
But when you get a good place for advertising, Charlie like just. Take out a grinder ad for everywhere. Is clear like.
Yeah, yeah. I don't really need to dive deeper into grinder. I'll tell you that. Honestly, we can just.
That's fair, fair.
Remove grinder from my life.
They're going to submit to be on.
The map one day and do it.
Yeah, but I did like going down this app. The app thing, a little bit field. Have you heard of fields?
I don't think so. Tell me more.
I don't know. I don't know if, like, this is for you, but it is like a queer kink Poly dating. App and it's like completely. I found it. Through everywhere was queer. I don't 100% know if it's queer owned, but a lot of folks have just been like you should check this out. I'm I'm ethically non monogamous myself and it's I'm mind blown by like this dating app experience for sure.
And you wouldn't have found out about it without your project. Without clear, probably.
I mean, people just have. Sent it to me on everybody's query. Yeah, I don't. I'm not, like, always seeking out dating apps, but. Or like trying to.
When they arrive, yeah.
Find a new. One but but but this one is like I I was like shocked at going through like. It's so inclusive. Which I think is amazing. Go, go, go, go.
Is it missing any vowels or is? It spelled FIELD.
It's Feld, yeah.
Got it? We don't know. Anytime there's a new app, there's either missing a vowel or it's spelled differently.
It kind of is how vegetarian food goes in the way of spelling things.
So I was like, I'm sure this is well the way. I think it is, yeah. I I think to something you talked about much earlier that I wanted to follow up into is, is your experience of? Your early experience of thinking about how you would have liked to. Have just. Like sat in a space, coexisted and witnessed other queer people. And I think, like, you know, and my understanding is that you've not attended our our conference mumble talk, but that is also like a very common anecdote that we hear from students, college students who attend. Conference because we have these spaces at the conference called identity forums and those especially are ones where folks say it was so meaningful to exist in a room with other QT bipack folk, with other nor divergent queer folk with other non binary folk.
Right and. Just like the, you know, the conference is 1. Weekend of the year. So what does it mean? You know, to be able to offer other experiences for folks to say, you know, here's this queer owned bookstore in your area that maybe hosts specific spaces or.
If they don't. You know, do you want to OfferUp to them that you'd be willing to coordinate a book club or just like a hangout space or, you know, like we we do with what we we can and it's still so frustrating that in 2023 folks still can, you know, exist for decades of their queer lives. Whether or not they recognize that that's their queer life yet and not know where to go right, and I think about, you know, I lived in Lawrence, KS for. File unfortunately and like there was a, there was a bar, but we couldn't even call it the queer bar because they technically only had pride night one night a week. So it's like that's technically the queer space, but it, like, converts into a queer space and then immediately rebounds to going back to like. So a general audience, and now I'm 90. 9% sure. That Barr ceases to exist in general. So I don't know. There's a question in there, but just kind of musing on like all of these moves and which where.
Yeah, I know. Yeah.
Folks need these spaces. And and are you making spaces?
What can build permit? Yeah, you know it makes. Me think of brave trails. You know a big thing for us is like we brave trails creates this like euphoric space for 10 days, for these 12 to 18 year old queer youth. And you know.
There is like, there's a lot of talk about like. Transition back into the real world out of brave trails. You know, these kids go through a huge emotional I mean, there's a huge emotional journey the week of brave trails where you're like, whoa, OK, I can be myself or like. Figuring out maybe gender identity or having conversations about a different name or using different pronouns, you know rachels you can change your pronouns any second your name at any second. We welcome it like get your new name tag, but yeah, that transition back into the real world for some of these kids coming from. I mean, I had it. A camper from. Uh, where are they from? They're from, like Ashland, WI or somewhere like Super, Super N Wisconsin and.
And while you're.
They were just. Like super nervous to go back home, you know and like. Just the last three of days of camp. There like it's getting closer, it's getting closer. And there's a lot of anxiety around that, you know, and.
Yeah. So I mean I I I hope and this is like brave trail's whole thing is to like build leaders into our our society, you know. And so like, we inspire them like, what's your passion? What are your skills right now, whether that be puppetry? Let's get you connected with. Yeah, the queer owned bookstore, you know. Yeah, I mean it's it's so cool the. The four main like. Categories that people could pick from at rave trails this last year where puppetry, theater drag and outdoor adventure, and that just makes my heart happy that those are. The categories for queer camp.
I love that. I love that so, so much. I didn't know puppet puppetry could even be that's so cute. Yes, yes. So yeah. So yeah, like, you know, and it sounds like you and I are very familiar kind of in our respective ways to like. We can create these kind of like really immersive, like intense experiences like brave trails camp or mumble talk weekend. Or, you know, I attended a, you know, the campus Pride hosts hosts, you know, camp pride. That's an experience that a lot of, like, college aged folks have. But like, I'll never forget when I took a group of college students when I was still in Kansas. To the conference and one of the things that we talked about when we came back, one student specifically was like, why can't every weekend? Be mumble talk. And I was like, that's such a valid question. And I anticipate that some of your your youth at brave trails kind of have like this. Wow, I wish this wasn't over. I wish this, you know, I wish this was happening all the time or I'm going to, you know, just like How does? How does the concept of everywhere is queer as like a stated fact right become this experience where you don't have to travel? You know you can travel for fun and we can have this conference and it can be meaningful and educational or, you know, the kids can travel to camp and have that meaningful experience. But it's not like the one thing you're relying on all year to give you all that you need for community and connectivity and like to be immersed in clear. It's and so it's. It just feels like you're kind of offering out to folks like, here's a coffee shop. Here's Barber. Here's a whatever, right? Just here's a. Hoof cleaner like I know. That's what that word does that.
Like what? Like, yeah, or just e-mail them and be friends like, you know, like, yeah.
Feel really important. Exactly. Exactly. Yes.
Yeah, I highly recommend people to like reach out to the folks on the map. You know, they they consent to putting whatever contact information is on there publicly. So like. Who knows what? Could build from that you know a a role model, a friend. Who knows, maybe it sparked some love and everywhere is queer relationship. Let's go.
So in the in.
The time that this has been a thing, right? It sounds like it's been like about a solid year, you said or it you're in some change that like the math has kind of been out in the world.
Yeah, a year and two months.
It sounds like maybe in some ways it has even surpassed your wildest dreams of what this could be from the time you pulled over on the road on your way back to Colorado. What is your hopes and dreams moving forward within like the next year? Like what what is your big? This now you know, is it to continue doing what you're doing now because you're doing a really great job or is there kind of a particular?
Is there a particular kind of pathway you're hoping to take to kind of amp it up to kind? Of the next. Big, big thing. It can be. What are you hoping for in the next year?
Yeah, it's a really great question. So I actually have a full time job and everywhere square is just like a side passion project for. Me. So you know.
Yep, I feel that.
Eventually, my boss knows that like one day I do want everywhere spirit to come my full time gig and like would love to build this. Big thing doesn't. Have to be a big thing, but like. Nothing you know. For what's next slash like where I want to go, it's kind of funny because I don't really have an answer. I have a ton of ideas. Yeah, like I have. This idea, this idea, this idea, this idea. Like a ton of things. And I feel like I'm just at a very pivotal point right now. Like, I'm really grateful for, you know, everyone that follows me on Instagram, like, love you all excited to just to keep that community growing. And I feel like that there's so much potential. There to like me to do something with this community. Where could we all come together? Or like a lot of us come together? Or where could even these, like, queer business owners like you know it? It would be a dream of mine to do like a I'm currently working in like the natural food world. And so there's like Expo West and Expo E, which are like big conferences for these brands to come together. OK, I think like in everywhere is queer conference where like these queer owned business owners came together and were able to just. I mean, there's so much there.
I'm getting goosebumps.
That sounds so cool.
Like a conference of 1000 queer owned businesses, like that's RAD and so like, that's a big dream of mine. And I say it will happen. I just. Don't know when and where but. Oh yeah. You know, I've done, like little queer owned business markets here in Bend and they were like, such a success. Like I could see that growing across the country like come on a like a farmers market, ask thing of Creole businesses like yes, please. I'm like, every day is like a A. New day of growth and. Yeah, I'm like getting a new website built and I have my new map that I released like maybe two months ago now, which was really exciting. It's so much better than my old map. So just like. Continuing to make the process a better like user experience is for me like I just want people to be stoked and so. And I don't have anything like too big, you know, I'll say some of the celebrities have slid into my DMS.
Which is. Pretty cool, pretty cool, pretty.
I I was pretty shocked. So you know, there's some conversations out there with some folks. Yeah, but nothing that I can share quite yet, yeah.
That's totally fine. Build the suspense build.
Don't even know if anything. Will happen, but if it does, stay tuned.
It's so excited.
Let's see. I don't know. I have three thoughts trying to come out of my mouth at the same time. I love that right? So like this is not, you know, this is not my full time gig either. I everyone at the Institute is kind of in the same place. We have all these big ideas and all this energy, and we have bills to pay. So right now we are riding on hopes and dreams and love for this work and knowing that this is something that needs to happen. And I I see a lot of that. Like similarly in this in this pursuit of yours to like build this map from just a a quick idea to oh wow, now this is a whole thing and just kind of seeing what evolves and emerges based on. You know, I think I think, you know, not to tip for TAT compare, but the the conference and my experience hosting this conference and what you've shared you know today talking about the the Everywhere is queer map, right. Like, I think that the only reason things like this thrive is because there's an appetite for it and folks want it. And you literally, you know, went through Google and found that nothing like this existed. And in 1991, a bunch of queers in Iowa decided that they needed to build a space for Midwest queer folks. And now here I, you know, having conversations with folks like you about like the Midwest in its current.
Form and hosting. Conferences and you know these sessions so. You know, if there wasn't an appetite for it and folks didn't want it like it wouldn't thrive like it wouldn't. You know, it wouldn't grow and a lot of this is trial and error and just seeing what emerges out of that. So it's like that and I, you know, resonate and see you on that work that you're doing because I'm so familiar with that kind of just. You are carving the pathway in a. Lot of ways. And seeing what comes and that is a. Stressful place to be is just. Like put it out. There do people want it cool.
Totally. Yeah. I mean, my map has been viewed 1.4 million times. And so when I when I I remember. Celebrating 10,000 views of the. Map like I threw a party. At my house, because I. Was like my. Map has been viewed 10,000 times. And I hit like. 1000 followers on Instagram like you know.
Those are very.
Yeah, they are absolutely big, like huge moments and. I just saw it keep growing and growing. Like people just like word of mouth. Like it, it's it's like what I love is like, you know, wherever but what? Like Portland, ME. Was a spot where, like suddenly it was like 1 business joined and then it was like Bing, Bing, Bing. And they all. I feel like they're in a text chain of like, for your own businesses together. And they're like, get on the map and like, they all just went applied, you know, and. Like I I just. That is so amazing. A little my own tangent there, but.
Yeah, I love that. I love that.
But I believe the conversations like this, I mean, even like me, hearing more about your conference and I like, let's continue to talk.
Let's continue to like, you know, use both of our platforms to to do the work and. Yeah, there's so much potential.
Yeah, some. Things, yes.
I think you know and. Like in this moment, you know, I think about in talking to the the so the the conferences student plan, we just kind of give all the structural support and something that has really been hype for them and big really important for them is that they really want something light and bright this year because they're like everything else is trashed like everything feels dark, everything feels. Like there's all these ****** bills coming out. Like how do we make a space that's just, like, fun and comforting? And I'm like, Yep, yes to that right. And like, how you know? And it feels like we're just kind of on the precipice of this place of, like, what is the next 5 to 10 years of this work going to look like, this work being kind of like community building and just kind of coalition building and? Think of ourselves right. Like, what is this gonna look like?
Like when we do come together? What are we talking about when we do come together? Like what is the vibe and what is the feeling and how does that transcend when we there's just we need so much more of it. And I think that. You know folks can't afford. Financially or like conceptually to always go to a conference, you know we're a Midwest conference. The Midwest is a very large region. Kentucky might not be feasible, right? I was reaching out to, you know, creators in Minneapolis recently, telling them that we have a maker market that we're doing for the second time ever at the conference. And to put on their radar and you know. For some of them, they're like, cool. Tell me more and. Some of them are, like Lexington. It's really just. Not possible I was. Like that, you know, I get that. So like you know, you can't always, you know, literally afford to go to these places and. What is available to you? In your immediate location you know is something that we're continually thinking about of how to how to empower folks to be able to utilize what is readily available to them. And sometimes that's the coffee shop or the. Bookstore or, you know, the salon that's going to create a consignment shop that's going to sell vintage clothes to make money for the queer group. That's an actual thing. So, you know, there's just.
Totally amazing, yeah.
All this possibility, but if you. Don't have space and resources. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what those possibilities are so. Again, no question in there. As we, you know, work towards wrapping up here. What what are some final thoughts you have some things you know that you would like to share real quick before we we call it good cause I could talk to you about this forever. And that's not. An option.
Yeah, I'm a big talker, so I could always talk for hours, you know?
For me, I I just think about our youth in the in the world. I I. I, Charlie. See you. No matter where you're at, at your point and what you. You do you, but I see. You and I love you and like I just think about the queer youth in our country and I just hope that they can just become their most authentic selves, you know, and even though there are all these anti trans bills. Arising, I mean have been arising and everything like that. You know there are 1,000,000. Of us that see. You for you and here to support you through your entire journey. And so yeah, I just like, I I really think about our queer youth. In our world, my heart just like. Skips a beat for all of them, so. Yeah, I mean. That's what? That's what came to. Mind for me, I mean I. I've been thinking a lot about my younger self and brave trails says like for the counselors, like be the person you needed when you were younger and. I just hope that, like I can be. That influenced on social. Media in some type of way, yet I hope that you can find people within your community via my map to just like like I said, even if you're not out to sit and just experience and witness where people exist and working, you know. Having a job.
We may have the job, but you can.
We may hate that job.
You can watch us struggle and you get to.
Watch us back there.
I love that. I love that. Yes, yeah.
And also just like shout out to y'all and like everything that you're doing for the Midwest, I mean the Midwest is a like you said, a really large region of our country.
60 million people reside in rural America in the United States, and so I mean, it's a lot of people and there's a lot of queer people in that 60 million. And so. Spaces like yours and what y'all are doing. In the Midwest is so important. So thank you.
Well, thank you because now I have a very fast resource to be able to make more connections with Midwest folks than ever before.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So you're doing it. We're doing it. Everybody's doing it. Yes, look at us go. This has been. So great I am. Just so impressed to hear more about kind of where this project came from and just you're so fun. To talk to. This is just very entertaining, so I just I have such high hopes and I'm so excited to see what the next.
Phase of this project looks like for you. What comes out of that hope, all those celebrity collabs come in clutch and excited to see what those are. You've now set the carrot in front of your audience to see.
Yeah, stay tuned.
What comes out next so. Thank you all so much for this.
Thanks for this holding the space too.
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Our inbox is open for all of your insight, feedback, questions, boycotts, memes and other forms of written correspondence. You can contact us at email@example.com. 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.