Next up in our Queer+ Voices series, we'll be featuring drummer, music instructor, and audio engineer Jules Stewart, who proudly identifies as an androgynous-presenting lesbian womxn.
Tell us a little bit about your coming out experience(s). How has life changed for you since being “out”?
JS: I grew up without knowing anything about homosexuality, but have dressed and presented as androgynous since I was very young. Because of my deeply religious upbringing, I had a massive amount of internalized homophobia (hatred toward myself) as I started to realize I was gay. As hard as I prayed and asked God to make me straight, it didn't work, so I started doing the work to understand myself as a whole person deserving of love (which I'm still working on).
When I came out to my parents, there was mourning of Biblical proportions, but my sister has been supportive and loving beyond my wildest dreams. I've also been incredibly lucky to have a wonderful friend family around me...best friends that have always loved me and wanted joy, true self-expression and a full life for me. The process of coming out and accepting myself has helped me to see the humanity, complexity, and beauty in all people just a little better. For me, it's been true that the more I release my own shame and guilt, the more fully I can love other people.
LBP: How do other aspects of your identity intersect (or perhaps clash) with your sexuality?
JS: The experience of being an androgynous-presenting female drummer has been an interesting one! Female drummers can be fetishized or hired as anomalies because femininity and drumming have not been represented together very extensively in the media. I think my gender presentation has let me skip quite a bit of that, but it also puts me in a bit of a unique spot: not a male drummer for bands that would prefer that, not a hyper feminine drummer for bands that would prefer that...just a drummer trying to make every song as beautiful as it can be. It gives me the lovely knowledge that when I get hired, it's because of my playing and myself rather than my gender. I'd call that a win.
Image description: Square graphic with yellow background and large white quotation mark at the top. At bottom of square, large black text reads: "queer+ voices." In the middle, in black text, is a quote from Jules's interview. (The last two sentences of her response to question 1). Under the quote, in bold black text reads: "~Jules Stewart. Pronouns: She/Her/Hers"
LBP: Pride is a celebration of liberation but also an acknowledgement of struggle, resistance, and revolution. Where do you see yourself in that celebration? Where do you see yourself in that struggle?
JS: I am incredibly grateful for the Black trans womxn who began and carried the fight for rights for the LGBTQ+ community. I also am learning more and more that the rights I enjoy (voting as a womxn, being able to get married as a lesbian, and many more) were direct consequences of the fight for equality waged by and for Black people. I believe that none of us are free until all of us are free, and it's hard to claim victory for the LGBTQ+ community when so many of our members are oppressed and in literal danger of death, including and certainly not limited to Black queer people, indigenous people, undocumented people, and trans people. Wherever we all find our place in the fight for equality, now is the time to find it.
LBP: As an artist, how does your “queerness" or sexual orientation show up in your creative work?
JS: I believe the process of loving and accepting myself as a queer person has made me more able to see beauty and truth in more of the world. It has also helped me trust my own creativity as valid and valuable. As I've become more accepting of my whole self, I've grown to love more styles of music and connect with a more diverse spectrum of art and expression. I believe being queer has shaped my entire outlook on the world and on the music I play.
LBP: What queer-centered artists, shows, films, podcasts, authors, etc. are you into right now?
JS: Ooooh boy. Podcasts: Gay Church with Valerie Franco (I can't recommend this highly enough if you want to hear more about the interactions between being gay and being religious) and Transform - Beyond the Transition.
In terms of shows and movies: Disclosure and Feel Good are my two most recent favorites.
Books: Untamed by Glennon Doyle, Unapologetic by Charlene A. Carruthers, Wolfpack by Abby Wambach, and It's About Damn Time by Arlan Hamilton.
Other: Everything Cameron Esposito does.
LBP: What are some of your favorite LGBTQ+ organizations or businesses you'd recommend our readers look into, buy from, donate to, volunteer for, etc.?
JS: Organizations: The Trevor Project, House of Resilience.
Businesses: SCEND fitness (my wife owns this!), DapperBoi (androgynous clothing that is awesome).
To find out more about Jules Stewart, visit https://julesstewartdrums.com/. Stay tuned throughout the month of July for more Queer+ Voices interviews!
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