PROUD Radio is hosted by renowned British journalist and author Hattie Collins. Everyone’s pride is different, and this Apple Music show features conversations with LGBTQ+ guests from across modern culture, reflecting on their individual journeys. PROUD is a celebration of how far gay and trans rights have come, and a reminder of how far is left to go. One of her guests are: Tegan and Sara!
In this episode Tegan and Sara recall growing up in Canada and discuss privilege, their autobiography and charitable foundation. The pair also choose music from grunge icons and current LGBTQ+ artists. PROUD is hosted by renowned British journalist and author Hattie Collins. Each episode features progressive LGBTQIAA+ guests and talents across modern culture, candidly discussing their individual journeys through life. PROUD is a celebration of how far gay and trans rights have come, and a crucial reminder of how far is left to go.
Hattie Collins: There’s literally 400 million.
Sara: There’s literally thousands and thousands of shows about straight people going to high school. Do we only get three and then we’ve hit our quota?
Hattie Collins: That’s it. You’re done.
Sara: Why? I really think it’s always important to me to just say „Have we reached some kind of threshold or parity?“ Absolutely not. If you have a gay story to tell, tell it. You think your story’s already been told? It has not been told. Go ahead and tell it. So for me, I want to see more queer stories in general. I want to see a million new stories about queer girls.
Tegan: We were just joking the other night that it’s been an amazing couple of years for music. You’ve got SOAK, and Muna, and King Princess, and Hayley Kiyoko. And those are just more of the smaller, not the big, like obviously, Halsey, all these huge artists identifying as LGBTQ. And Sara and I were like, „This is thrilling.“ Like we know someone said, „Do you feel threatened?“ And I said, „No, I feel calm because I can not work as hard anymore because someone else beating down the weeds for us to make a path.“
Sara: Someone else can take the slack.
Tegan: I feel like for such a long time, we took up that, and I feel thrilled.
Tegan and Sara Tell About Their Foundation and Gay Spaces
Tegan: I think we are in a bad place in the world in general. I also think, obviously, it’s a huge conversation. I think the LGBTQ+ community… We’ve been thrust together in a way because we need each other. There’s power in numbers. And I think it is complicated. We start to break up sexual identity and gender identity, and then talking about being feminists, and gender parity. We’re having all these huge conversations, and we’re attacking… Within our community, we’re very fragmented and attacking each other, and there’s a whole new language that’s come up in the last 10, 15 years within our community.
Tegan: I think for me, all of those issues are valid. All of those conversations need to happen. But I’m sad sometimes because I think we end up infighting a lot, and we end up really focused in on our own community, and pushing each other’s buttons, and calling each other out, and I do often think to myself, „Remember that there’s a whole world out there that can often be against us,“ and we do need to work together to legislate change, to protect each other, and to see our community move forward and achieve equality. It’s why Sara and I started the Tegan and Sara Foundation, is partly because we wanted to put our money where our mouth was, and we felt like we can just keep tweeting out articles and being angry and asking for change, or we can actually raise money and fund programs and research and change with our power and privilege. I think as white people, and as cis gendered people, we recognize how much power we have.
Tegan: I think we’re very appreciative of how much has changed over the last two decades since we started in music, and I think that there’s an enormous, very well-meaning push towards creating LGBTQ spaces to give voice to our voices and to give space to our thoughts and ideas and what we’re creating. My fear is that we’re going to be preaching only to the converted. And I definitely think what’s-
Sara: You want to be able to exist in both of those spaces.
Tegan: Well, and again, I said this earlier on in this interview, I think that
Sara and I have used our charm and I think our talent and our abilities and our hard work and our ethos and our humor to dismantle homophobia, and to transcend ignorance, and to thrive in the mainstream. And my fear lately is that we’re going to be removed from the mainstream, to move into our new palatial palace out in the suburbs in Gaytown, and I’m like, you guys, it’s the same thing again. So, I think we do need to have these spaces, but I think as people with privilege and power and as people who program and dictate how our industry works and what the mainstream hears, a warning bell is going off in my head where I’m like, „Just be careful we’re not just creating spaces for all our sub-communities,“ because I think most important is that music is a language. It’s a universal language, and it can transcend all of our differences, and I don’t want to miss out on that.
Sara: I want to say, while I totally agree with that, I also find it really convenient when there are gay shows, gay programs, gay channels, gay lists, gay magazines.
Sara: They both can exist, and we should feel proud. We should feel proud of ourselves. We are a wonderful, vibrant, diverse community. Let us be lumped together to show how diverse and different we are. I go look at some of these gay playlists. You’ve got hip hop, you’ve got rock, you’ve got R&B, you’ve got pop, you’ve got bedroom pop. These lists are so diverse, and they’re such a wonderful opportunity to show how eclectic and different and inspiring and innovative-
Tegan: Yeah. Okay, so we want both.
Tegan about the influence of Grunge on Their Music
Tegan: I mean, we grew up in the ’90s and amidst the grunge movement and there was amazing … I mean, we had the riot girls from the Pacific Northwest. We had a lot of really cool, strong female representation, but not a ton of LGBTQ representation. And what representation we had, they were decades older than us. So there were well established, amazing superstars like k.d. Lang and Melissa Etheridge. So we knew of gay people and knew they existed, but besides Ricky from My So-Called Life and Leisha Hailey from The Murmurs, those would be probably the two closest people we had represented to us.
So I think this book, in part, we wanted to stay in this time frame because we weren’t necessarily interested in writing a music memoir so much as we were interested in writing a memoir about being young women, but also being different and alternative and weird. I think there’s a lot of touchstones to our life that’s relatable for people outside of the queer world. I think we’ve been saying, we’ve been joking that we keep getting these long letters from men, straight men, after the shows or people who read the book and they’re like, „I mean, literally, that was my experience in high school.“ And of course it was. We were pining for girls, we were obsessed with Nirvana, we were taking drugs, and we were total dirt bags. And I think there’s a lot of relatable … Yeah. There’s lots of relatable things in our story that we wanted to share.
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