Gays Reading

Great Queer Coffee Table Books feat. Ryan Fitzgibbon, Billie Winter, & Hannah Murphy Winter

May 07, 2024 Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Ryan Fitzgibbon, Hannah Murphy Winter, Billie Winter Season 2 Episode 51
Great Queer Coffee Table Books feat. Ryan Fitzgibbon, Billie Winter, & Hannah Murphy Winter
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Gays Reading
Great Queer Coffee Table Books feat. Ryan Fitzgibbon, Billie Winter, & Hannah Murphy Winter
May 07, 2024 Season 2 Episode 51
Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Ryan Fitzgibbon, Hannah Murphy Winter, Billie Winter

Jason and Brett talk to Hannah Murphy Winter and Billie Winter, the couple behind Queer Power Couples, as they delve into the essence of queer power partnerships, offering intimate insights into documenting this untapped element of queer history. They then talk to Ryan Fitzgibbon (A Great Gay Book, on sale May 21) about his curation of a time capsule featuring essays, poems, and photographs, immortalizing layers of queer history and rich tapestry of LGBTQ+ experiences.

Hannah Murphy Winter (she/they) is a journalist who writes about queerness and policies that impact LGBTQ+ lives. Her work frequently appears in Rolling Stone. She lives in Seattle with her wife, Billie Winter, three cats they found in their shed, and their rescue dog, Pippin. The first person she ever recognized as queer was Spinelli from Recess.

Billie Winter
(she/her) is a photographer and videographer. She grew up in Queens, NY, and worked at Rolling Stone as a photo editor for fifteen years until she moved to Seattle and became an organic, regenerative farmer. She still has a crush on Cheetara from ThunderCats.

Ryan Fitzgibbon is an artist and publisher. After beginning as a communication designer at IDEO in San Francisco, California, he founded Hello Mr. in 2012. Fitzgibbon self-published the magazine from Brooklyn, New York, before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma in January of 2020. In addition to organizing to protect LGBTQ+ rights and expanding HIV/AIDS care and prevention in Oklahoma, his work includes supporting the Black Wall Street Times through the production of multiple print publications, and the opening of their newsroom and storefront in Greenwood. Fitzgibbon is a 2021-2023 awardee of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship.

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**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

Jason and Brett talk to Hannah Murphy Winter and Billie Winter, the couple behind Queer Power Couples, as they delve into the essence of queer power partnerships, offering intimate insights into documenting this untapped element of queer history. They then talk to Ryan Fitzgibbon (A Great Gay Book, on sale May 21) about his curation of a time capsule featuring essays, poems, and photographs, immortalizing layers of queer history and rich tapestry of LGBTQ+ experiences.

Hannah Murphy Winter (she/they) is a journalist who writes about queerness and policies that impact LGBTQ+ lives. Her work frequently appears in Rolling Stone. She lives in Seattle with her wife, Billie Winter, three cats they found in their shed, and their rescue dog, Pippin. The first person she ever recognized as queer was Spinelli from Recess.

Billie Winter
(she/her) is a photographer and videographer. She grew up in Queens, NY, and worked at Rolling Stone as a photo editor for fifteen years until she moved to Seattle and became an organic, regenerative farmer. She still has a crush on Cheetara from ThunderCats.

Ryan Fitzgibbon is an artist and publisher. After beginning as a communication designer at IDEO in San Francisco, California, he founded Hello Mr. in 2012. Fitzgibbon self-published the magazine from Brooklyn, New York, before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma in January of 2020. In addition to organizing to protect LGBTQ+ rights and expanding HIV/AIDS care and prevention in Oklahoma, his work includes supporting the Black Wall Street Times through the production of multiple print publications, and the opening of their newsroom and storefront in Greenwood. Fitzgibbon is a 2021-2023 awardee of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship.

Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Jason Blitman:

There are so many great books coming out today.

Brett Benner:

So many great books, so many great guests we've had on previously, whose books are landing today, including cinema love by Jimin Kang, and also the ministry of time by Kelly and Bradley.

Jason Blitman:

She'll be on the podcast next week.

Brett Benner:

that's right.

Jason Blitman:

Other things coming out today are How It Works Out by Miriam LaCroix darkly comic, and achingly tender, Miriam LaCroix's exuberant debut sees a queer love story play out in many realities. We also have Whale Fall by Elizabeth O'Connor.

Brett Benner:

really excited for that.

Jason Blitman:

I know we were just talking about the Irish and I'm very excited. One woman's ambitions threatened the fabric of an isolated Welsh community in a stunning debut about loss, isolation, folklore, and finding oneself.

Brett Benner:

Also, Julie Min's Shanghai Landers comes out today. A dazzling and ambitious debut novel that follows a changing family in a changing world. Looks really good. Beautiful cover.

Jason Blitman:

And also The Skunks by Fiona Warnock. The Skunks is a fun coming of age story that I read in one sitting on a plane. And it was a perfect plane companion.

Brett Benner:

Those are the best of one sitting plane ride book.

Jason Blitman:

I know. And also Queer Power Couples, which is one of our fantastic coffee table books on today's episode, comes out today. As always, if you like what you're hearing, please share us with your friends, and follow us on social media. We're at gaze reading on Instagram. You can subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcasts. And all of the books that we talk about on the show are available on our bookshop. org page, which you can also find the link to that in our show notes, but also our link tree on our Instagram, among other places, gaze reading. com has a lot of information as well.

Brett Benner:

And check out our Patreon page as well, which has bonus content which we couldn't include.

Jason Blitman:

So on today's show, we have authors of Queer Power Couples on Love and Possibility Hannah Murphy Winter and Billy Winter. We also are featuring a great gay book, Stories of Growth, Belonging, and Other Queer Possibilities edited by Ryan Fitzgibbon, founder of Hello Mr. Magazine. these books are so much more than coffee table books and we talked about that on the show, but they're just these really incredible queer. Time capsules, but also. Just really important, cool documentations of queer history and queer life and I think can be inspiring for anyone to, to pick up and have nearby to reference. And they're both books to savor.

Brett Benner:

I agree. 100%.

Jason Blitman:

special. Hannah Murphy Winter is a journalist who writes about queerness and policies that impact LGBTQ plus lives. Her work frequently appears in Rolling Stone. She lives in Seattle with her wife, Billy Winter, three cats they found in their shed, and their rescue dog, Pippin. The first person she ever recognized as queer was Spinelli from Recess. Billy Winter is a photographer and videographer. She grew up in Queens, New York, and worked at Rolling Stone as a photo editor for 15 years until she moved to Seattle and became an organic, regenerative farmer. Still has a crush on Chitara from Thundercats. And she let us know that the name of her organic, regenerative farmer Farm is Goblin Farms. So we'll link to that in our show notes, and Ryan Fitzgibbon, who is the editor of A Great Gay Book. He's an artist and publisher. After beginning as a communication designer at IDEO in San Francisco, California, he founded Hello Mister in 2012. He self published the magazine from Brooklyn, New York, before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma in January of 2020. In addition to organizing to protect LGBTQ rights and expanding HIV AIDS care and prevention in Oklahoma, his work includes supporting the Black Wall Street Times, through the production of multiple print publications, and the opening of their newsroom and storefront in Greenwood. Ryan Fitzgibbon is a 2021 2023 awardee of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship.

Brett Benner:

Take a breath. Woo!

Jason Blitman:

yes, whoo! I'm Jason

Brett Benner:

I'm Brett.

Jason Blitman:

and enjoy this queer, more than coffee table book episode of Gays

Brett Benner:

reading.

Subbed by Jack

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Hello,

Jason Blitman:

Hello.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

how are you?

Brett Benner:

How

Jason Blitman:

How are you both doing?

Billie Winter:

Pretty good. Pretty good. Thanks for having us.

Jason Blitman:

Thanks for being here.

Billie Winter:

Quick technical question. Right now I am just talking right into the computer mic. I don't have headphones or anything.

Jason Blitman:

You're maybe a hair bright, but I don't think that will be a bad thing. It'll all come out in the edit. It's fine. Oh

Brett Benner:

We don't need to peddle into stereotypes here. Stop it.

Billie Winter:

I also can whittle some, I actually made spoons so I can be whittling as well. Just

Brett Benner:

That's exactly right. That's exactly. Yes.

Jason Blitman:

God. So you're so Californian. You're

Billie Winter:

Lemme tell you something,

Brett Benner:

Berkeley at this point.

Billie Winter:

I am I got so crunchy so quickly.

Jason Blitman:

wait, where did you move from?

Billie Winter:

New York. New York City, like I'm born and raised in New York City. I got, I'm a farmer now. Like literally I'm a farmer now.

Jason Blitman:

Hannah, are you also a farmer?

Hannah Murphy Winter:

I help at the farm, but I work we say that we're each 80 20 in the opposite direction Billie still does 20 percent of her time doing photo stuff, and I still spend 80 percent of my time in journalism.

Brett Benner:

You're farming adjacent. You're

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Exactly.

Brett Benner:

Tell me where I can take these tomatoes, honey.

Billie Winter:

much,

Hannah Murphy Winter:

More or less, yeah. I learned all the food safety rules

Jason Blitman:

those are important.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

and I'm a decent, I'm a decent weeder.

Billie Winter:

You are.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

and I'm very cute at the farmer's market. So

Brett Benner:

you go. Wait, you guys aren't selling, are you guys selling your stuff? Are you that

Billie Winter:

Yeah, no,

Brett Benner:

Oh, I thought you

Jason Blitman:

Capital F Farmer.

Billie Winter:

am not a gardener. I am a farmer, baby. Yeah, no, I we're at the farmer's market.

Brett Benner:

do you have chickens and things or anything like that

Billie Winter:

Don't have to consume any livestock. But that'll be like, cause we're leasing land right now. And so like rules around like owning livestock. But like, when we eventually buy a plot yeah, oh, yeah,

Jason Blitman:

I didn't watch the movie, We Bought a Farm, We Bought a Farm, Something Farm, Big Little Farm.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Big little farm.

Billie Winter:

We bought a zoo

Brett Benner:

We bought a zoo.

Jason Blitman:

conflating the two of them.

Billie Winter:

and that's David Hickel. Yes.

Brett Benner:

Matt Damon's now a

Jason Blitman:

the movie, I love the movie We Bought a Zoo, but Big Little Farm is a version of what you're talking about, and it's a version of We Bought a Zoo. It's this family who like, started a farm. I'm going to assume slash fantasize that's the next book is the farm photo

Hannah Murphy Winter:

there's,

Billie Winter:

I will say I want to do, because I think there's definitely a market for it. I think the world's ready for it. I want to do like a calendar of like hot queer farmers.

Brett Benner:

Oh yeah. Oh my

Billie Winter:

a little, like a cheeky, There are so many! We're, we know where,

Hannah Murphy Winter:

hell

Billie Winter:

Oh, if you're paying for my flights, Absolutely, let's do it!

Jason Blitman:

So that brings us to a wonderful place for me to dive into the book, your book is called queer power couples. It could be like queer power colon couples. It could be queer colon power couples. It's just queer power couples all, no colons, but

Billie Winter:

I haven't heard that approach yet, that's cool.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, and I was like, Whoa, because I'm in the afterward of the book, Hannah, you talk about queer power. And I was like, Oh my God, I didn't think about it like that.

Brett Benner:

Jason's now thinking queer power colon farmers.

Jason Blitman:

No, queer colon power couples. And the next one could be queer colon Fabulous farmers.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

I love this

Jason Blitman:

You're welcome.

Brett Benner:

Farmers!

Jason Blitman:

I'll only take 2%. It's fine.

Brett Benner:

That is such a hot calendar. Ugh.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

I'd buy it.

Brett Benner:

I would too. Your book is so beautiful.

Billie Winter:

Oh, thank you.

Brett Benner:

So beautiful. It

Billie Winter:

We agonized over it for over three years, so it's really nice to hear.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

and I think that for both of us hearing that from queer folks is most important. Like we really wanted it to feel really FUBU. And so to have here to hear we've gotten a lot of reviews from librarians and bookstore owners and stuff, but to hear it from our community is really

Jason Blitman:

So it's really interesting. So this is a, a. aired episode. We have queer power couples on love and possibility. And we also have a collection edited by Ryan Fitzgibbon, a great gay book, Stories of Growth, Belonging, and Other Queer Possibilities

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Oh, I love it.

Jason Blitman:

And so I didn't even, when we first set out to do this episode, part of it was like the gay coffee table book episode, right? Because there are these two gorgeous books coming out around the same time. And I was like, I don't want to just pick one. I want to shout out both of them. I don't talk to all these people. But upon further investigation, there are these like incredible companion pieces because what Ryan's book does is really go through the sort of nuts and bolts of queer history. And it's almost it's a a time capsule of the last, 25 years of poems and writings and all sorts of, and photos and then queer power couples. Is really this like, creates almost a blueprint of aspiration.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Awesome. That's so cool. I'm really excited to read his book.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. It's really beautiful, but right. If one is about saving the past the other one is like showcasing the past in order for us to think about the future.

Billie Winter:

Oh, that's awesome. Yeah, no, that's a really, that's a beautiful observation. I know that like when we got into talking about how we wanted to approach making this book and how we wanted to approach the storytelling of making this book we really wanted to make sure that it existed within the context of history, that it didn't live in this vacuum.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Billie Winter:

and I know that Hannah can probably speak to that more eloquently than I can in terms of the process and, what she decided to write about in the intro and all of that. But yeah, we wanted it to not simply be this like pamphlet of couples, or like this kind of objective document. We wanted it

Jason Blitman:

on the wall with these, a handful of couples. Hannah, you talk a little bit about it in your introduction, but can you share what you define as a queer power couple?

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Yeah. So that was actually a huge part of how we so when we started making this book it was in 2020 and we were trying to examine why a book like this didn't already exist because it seems a natural something that would be eye catching to particularly to a queer audience. So why hadn't somebody made it? And I think our editor had the same thought. And we started by then defining what a queer power couple was. And in that sense, they are by nature, they are out, they are coupled and they're empowered to influence mainstream culture. And working with that definition we were able to look at that intersection of those three things and those three things were, that intersection wasn't. Very well populated until about maybe 10 years ago. And that was the reason that this book hadn't been made yet. We were able to make lists upon lists of queer couples that we thought would be a great fit for this project and that we wanted to talk to and explore these issues with. And I don't think you could have done that 10 years ago. And that, that was the whole premise behind the book then became examining what it meant to exist at that intersection, because it's relatively new,

Jason Blitman:

What does it mean to the two of you to be a queer power couple?

Billie Winter:

to be.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

I, I don't know that we either of us have felt particularly visible in our to that, this is we're on our, we're doing our second podcast recording right now.

Jason Blitman:

And you also all have a book coming out. So you're, you like, come on, you're a queer power couple. Sorry about it.

Brett Benner:

And have you seen their tomatoes?

Hannah Murphy Winter:

I think that for me, what, I feel and I think that it was, this was really, this really informed the book is that, we did have this chance to put ourselves out there and put our work out there to be like consumed by a much bigger audience and like much more of us, I'm a journalist Billie's a photographer we're used to, putting our work out there, but this is much more personal, I think. And I think that you you spoke to the afterward a second ago that one of the things that we talk about there is that we really hope that what you take away from this book is queer joy. That if we're going to be visible and we're going to be queer power couple, so to speak, that the thing that I want to model is joy. And that. There's enough horror stories out there to last anyone a lifetime and in the queer community. And if there's anything that we can do to counteract that, I think that's, that feels like my responsibility in this world.

Jason Blitman:

So if you are both on the brink of becoming a queer power couple, because the book, is only just now coming out soon, you're going to be, changing society. It's fine. you, can we talk a little bit about, the journey? Because I imagine for the two of you, not at the beginning of the project, not feeling like a queer power couple to then be invited into these tremendously intimate experiences and really being, we're flies on the wall looking through the book, but you were both literally flies on the wall in the space, and people are sharing like deep and intimate, meaningful stories with you about their lives. Can you talk a bit about how it was receiving those slash perhaps going into it at the beginning, how you maybe changed or looked at things maybe differently afterwards?

Billie Winter:

Ooh, great question. I can kick it off if Hannah, you want to jump in at any point, but I would say yeah, so just to like, set this up a little bit, the actual process of making the book because it started in lockdown, we did, or Hannah conducted all the interviews via Zoom or just, via whatever but it was always done remotely. And that was the first introduction, the first kind of contact that we would have with these couples was the interview. And at the end of every interview, and this was a part of the process that we talked about and baked into the book, was Hannah would ask them to pick the location for the photo shoot. And that location would be would represent the world that they built together. And that can look like a lot of different things. For some people, they chose their home. For some people, they chose their place of work. For some people, they chose camping because that represented the world they had built together. And it would either be a couple of months, a couple of weeks, or in one couple's case, two years before we would then do the photoshoot. And yeah, we would ask for a half a day to spend with the folks, and which, for those who don't know, a wild amount of time to ask for an editorial photoshoot. Especially with public figures, you're lucky if you get an hour, you're lucky if you get an hour.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Billie Winter:

and for the most part, everyone like opened up their homes to us for a half a day of their very busy schedules, which was an incredible honor. And so when we would go and do the photo shoots and really spend time in the world that they chose to share with us I don't know about, I feel like you might feel the same way, Hannah but to make you feel differently, like we would end up like with these incredibly accomplished, amazing couples and would find and whatever, it's a flex, but I don't care. Like we would find that we had so much in common with them where

Brett Benner:

just like us. Stars are just like

Billie Winter:

It was just the the way that the couple supported each other and were, like, each other's biggest fans and just had so much regard and respect for one another, both personally and professionally we saw so much of ourselves in these couples. Yeah over time, it was, like, Cool. Yeah. No, there's a common denominator here for sure. And that's really validating to see

Hannah Murphy Winter:

I think that it's, there's something to be said for the fact that, we were a queer couple making a book about queer couples that we had shorthand going in to every one of these interviews, every one of these photo shoots, there was this kind of shared common ground of we have this baseline of shared experiences that we know we all. loosely have. that ended up always being reinforced in the interviews, that there are these like really ubiquitous queer experiences that we can all speak to.

Jason Blitman:

No one that you were interviewing has a book like this, and I'm sure everyone wanted a book like this.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

exactly. one of the questions that we asked was, like every couple at some point we asked if they remember the first person that they recognized as queer.

Jason Blitman:

Shout out to Spinelli. If you want to know what I'm talking about, you have to buy the book. I almost peed in my pants when I read that, by the way. So you asked everyone that question.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

everybody had this one thing that was so memorable because it was the one scrap that they like found in popular culture or in their personal life or whatever. And it was, it really speaks to the fact that most queer people with some exceptions, one of which is in this Zoom room, but most queer people aren't born to queer parents. And we have to look for ourselves very much outside of our insular worlds as kids. And it just makes that representation so much more important and understanding the importance of that is, is a really shared queer experience, I think.

Jason Blitman:

I couldn't believe how many couples, you two included, work together or work adjacently. Do you think that goes along with the like, are you two sisters, brothers or lovers of it all?

Billie Winter:

mean I have a theory, but were you about to say something Hannah?

Hannah Murphy Winter:

No, go for

Jason Blitman:

What's your theory?

Billie Winter:

I just think queer people are the best think because like we exist of the matrix of like heteronormativity, where it's you so many straight couples don't even think they can be friends. Like, It's like this weird, you can only be, partners are for one thing, friends are for another thing, and I think, just we make our own rules, and we exist outside of kind of that societal pressure in a lot of ways, and I think that also then extends to having professional lives together, where it's you just, you make your own worlds,

Brett Benner:

And gender norms as well, to get completely eliminated in all senses because it just, you do you're basing everything on your strengths and weaknesses versus you were supposed to do this and I'm supposed to do this, which is really

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Totally. But I also think that like these are people who are very immersed in their work and likely their world and work there's not a clear line between the two. And so

Billie Winter:

Not that we know anything about that.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

No, not at all. And so I

Brett Benner:

where you eat?

Hannah Murphy Winter:

and I think that there is something to be said for that I think Billie's point about shedding a lot of the kind of archetypal rules are really important to this. And once you do that, you can meet someone in the work that you do and be like, Hey, there's a lot, there's potential here and there was love and there was respect here. Let's run with it.

Jason Blitman:

It also works in the other way too, right? Cause even you were talking about the shorthand, right? And it's someone so deeply, you trust them implicitly and you already have a shorthand. That's the person I'd want to work with.

Billie Winter:

Exactly. And that,

Hannah Murphy Winter:

That's why we work together so

Billie Winter:

sorry, you perfectly described, like, how Hannah and I work together. Like I've said in the past that one of our strengths when it comes to working together is that our minds work really differently. We approach our work from very different angles, but we have the same taste or very similar taste. So we're working toward. The same goal, but in very different ways. So we'll catch each other's blind spots on certain things or ask questions that like, the other person wouldn't have thought of. so it's just we complement each other.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

To Billie's point earlier that about How, I think that there are a lot of kind of ingrained ideas about, especially in heterosexual culture that you're not necessarily supposed to be friends with your partner, that women are from Venus, men are from Mars, all of that nonsense. And then, you guys talk about your partners as people that round you out, that your differences are a strength. that you offer each other. And I think that's something that we saw a lot in these couples, was that like, they, what they loved about each other were their differences and what they could learn from each other and like, the insight that they could get from this other brilliant person's brain no matter, especially because it was so different. And I think that's something that's not uniquely queer, but I think we have an advantage to seeing that.

Billie Winter:

Yeah. No, they were like genuinely fans of each other

Hannah Murphy Winter:

It was so cool. Yeah.

Billie Winter:

and that's something I absolutely can relate to. It's just, it

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Oh, totally.

Billie Winter:

really beautiful to see. There was a lot of, at the photo shoots, there was a lot of nodding. Of in agreement.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Oh, that's so cool. We talked about this earlier, but I think because the subtitle is on love and possibility, I'm just curious. Can we talk about what does possibility mean to you

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Yeah. So it's, it comes from a line in the book. So at one point I had talked to this like social scientist who had worked on something called the generations project, which was trying to get snapshots of queerness throughout generations in the United States. And. He had, we had talked about what the impact of visibility was and the importance of visibility, and he had discussed, he talked about, he pointed back to an old study in the 90s when young queer people weren't able to project themselves into old age because In the 90s, they had just lost a whole generation of queer folks to AIDS. So trying to imagine what an elder queer was virtually impossible for a lot of these kids. And the other part of that was that queerness wasn't represented in media. There, there were elder queers, but where were they going to find them? And he's, he had talked about this kind of in the context of this really old psychological term called possible selves. And that notion was that, it's important for us in terms of our like self perception and self actualization to be able to like, imagine our possible futures. And for queer people, the biggest limitation to that is not seeing what those possibilities could be presented to us. We've, again, most of us are born to straight parents. Most of us are raised around largely straight people that is changing, which is really cool. But I, so that possibility is about really presenting and showing what those possibilities could be. And in this case, this is 28 possible futures. That's

Brett Benner:

Of all shapes, sizes, colors, that's what's so amazing.

Jason Blitman:

different paths?

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Yeah. And a lot of different ways of getting there. They're coming, everyone's coming out story is really different. Everybody's professional story is really different. We have some very late in life since the people who knew that like late in life, Debbie came out, Debbie Milman, she came out in her fifties. I think Sean Torrington knew he was gay when he was five.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

Like there couldn't be a bigger spread. And I think that that's also important that there's you know, like Debbie is the most she comes off as such like a nurturing you would never guess that she'd only, she hadn't been out her whole life. She's there's so much queer mama warmth that comes off of her. And that that, that journey to out queer and established can start at any point. And I think that's another part of what you can take away from it.

Jason Blitman:

I love that. What's, what do you see as your own possibility? What's next for you? What's the future?

Brett Benner:

Zucchini and corn.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Billie Winter:

of those things I am growing this year.

Brett Benner:

Maybe a cherry grove.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

making this book really helped me really grounded me in, like, how important telling these stories was to me. I think I've spent so much of my career trying I am a journalist, so a lot of my queer coverage is, how has this policy devastated these people's lives? Enormous amount of my work is spent doing that. And so to like really spend energy on queer love, queer joy, queer excellence, queer potential, queer possibility, was such a huge and dramatic difference from the work that I'd done up to this point. And it was. Like it was genuinely healing and I think that doing that kind of work moving forward, like I think that this book has really changed how I relate to the, like what important work looks like

Jason Blitman:

I love that so much.

Hannah Murphy Winter:

yeah, it's really important for people outside of our community to know how we're being hurt, but it's just as important for people inside our community to know how much joy and possibility there is

Brett Benner:

And what can exist, yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Hannah, Billie, this has been such a joy.

Brett Benner:

Just

Billie Winter:

Thank you, Thank

Hannah Murphy Winter:

thank you so much. This was.

Billie Winter:

Very small.

Jason Blitman:

I can't wait to follow Goblin Farms.

Billie Winter:

Really do

Brett Benner:

Yes. And see what's coming up.

Jason Blitman:

And see the corn and the zucchini. And congrats on the book, and we can't wait to see what's next! Thank you, Hannah. Thank you, Billy, for being here. Such a joy. Check out Queer Power Couples, everyone. And now let's chat with Ryan Fitzgibbon, editor of A Great Gay Book. How's your day so far?

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

It's going well. It's going well. I actually just got back from a retreat in Costa Rica on Tuesday night.

Jason Blitman:

What a bummer.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

I know I I ha it's called the Jungle Neighborhood, actually. It's a a retreat. Queer like wellness center. And it was like a week long retreat called remembering on this and we did some plant medicine and some healing and lots of healing. And it was amazing. It was like the window of time that I had before book tour starts and press. Here we are. But, yeah, I needed and wanted to do something for myself before, after putting this thing together and before going out and just spreading the word and it was beautiful. So I'm back in it.

Jason Blitman:

Good.

Brett Benner:

reset.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

hope we're a good welcome back for you.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

definitely.

Jason Blitman:

We have a, we have very high stakes,

Brett Benner:

exactly,

Jason Blitman:

we be as good as Costa Rica? Maybe not, but we'll try.

Brett Benner:

And if it sucks, you can only go up from here. Do you know what I mean?

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

exactly. But the fruit is still the fruit is still sweet.

Jason Blitman:

Um, it's stunning.

Brett Benner:

oh my

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Thank you so much. I'm glad you both have copies.

Brett Benner:

I know. And it's literally I wish, we're obviously audio only, cause it's a podcast, but it's I want everyone to see how beautiful it is as we're holding it up, the

Jason Blitman:

Everyone can see how beautiful it

Brett Benner:

Yes,

Jason Blitman:

they buy their

Brett Benner:

when they buy it. Yes, they can. And they're going to want

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

It's so funny, I we tend to struggle on this podcast because Brett and I are both fans in general. And so we have such a deep love of the things that we're consuming and we're very lucky and have the privilege to talk to the people that created them. And so our instinct, I think is to express how we feel about the material versus only talking about it. And I was thinking last night, I was like, I need to remind myself, I cannot just go on and on about how important. And this book is and how everyone needs to own it and just how beautiful it is. And I was like, I need to also talk about real things too, because I could just talk for a half an hour about why everyone needs to buy it.

Brett Benner:

And he would probably be fine with that.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

I wouldn't hate

Jason Blitman:

I know. Okay, the first paragraph alone, I'm just going to read because it's relatively short, which is your introduction to the book, aligning with the truth comes naturally when you're young. Over time, as our instincts are challenged, trusting our sense of what's possible becomes practice. Ridding ourselves of expectations, of shame, to do things our way. Not just imagining a better, more honest future, but playing a role in creating one. This book is the product of that knowing, the pursuit of something true. What is that pursuit for you?

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Thanks for reading that. I have done a lot of reflection and introspection in creating this book. So I started the magazine. Hello. Mr. In 2012, so 12 years ago when I was 24, I believe in if my math works living in the Castro in San Francisco and seeing the world around me, newly out and I moved to San Francisco at 21, right after I came out and graduated school in Michigan. And it was also, the time of Prop 8, and that was the, dominating the headlines in California, but nationally. And there was, something really there was a lot missing, in the conversation. And I think in the sort of pre marriage equality campaign that swept the nation, we sort of Aligned on and I say, we as like larger kind of, deciders that the what the narrative is and what the narrative that would be palatable and and win and quote, unquote the mission of achieving marriage quality. And so through that where I was at in my life and experiencing, this neighborhood of the Castro and all these new things and the diversity of the community, it just felt that there wasn't. A lot that was reflecting or capturing queer life in a authentic way, in a way that I

Jason Blitman:

In a true way, yeah.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Deserved. Yeah, and that had, that was the kernel of the sort of motive and trajectory that I had, been on since 2012 and so much of, looking back at this past decade and the growth and of evolution of our community and just myself and of all the contributors that make up this great game book just everyone on their own sort of journeys and experiencing. This sort of oscillation of introspection and isolation and. Community and coming out of the pandemic and re, affirming the. Importance and values of being, together and and human ourselves to, to be more in service of our community. So it's a lot. The path towards finding truth is a really personal 1, but in creating this collection of so many different voices. 1 that, that took a lot of, a lot of work and a lot of time

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

to crystallize. So here we are.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. You said you weren't necessarily seeing authentic representation, I think, and you might not have seen authentic representation of you, right? And I think the book does such a great job in presenting an authentic representation of sort of as much of a spectrum of the LGBTQ community that it sort of can fit in so many pages, right? So it's like truth Over a rainbow spectrum.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. Can you just for our listeners, just give like a elevator pitch or a broad spectrum of what the book actually is for those who don't know?

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Sure. Yes. So a great gay book stories of growth belonging and other queer possibilities is a collection of essays, interviews. Poetry, illustrations, comics, zine so many things that are both a sort of reflection on the last 10 years of queer publishing that came out of the magazine Hello Mister that I founded in 2012 and updates from contributors and more than just our greatest hits. It's a celebration of the work that we published and an invitation and expansion of new voices and. New stories that fill the 432 pages of this gorgeous coffee table book.

Jason Blitman:

But who's counting?

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Yeah,

Brett Benner:

That's great.

Jason Blitman:

know, it's so gorgeous. And I was just saying to Brett, I was like, in full transparency, I didn't actually read it cover to cover, we read books so quickly on this spot for this podcast, and I was like, this is designed to savor. And so I was selective with what it was I read. I touched every page, but I didn't consume every page.

Brett Benner:

You can dive in

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Well, that's

Brett Benner:

And that's what I love about it so much. It's something like you

Jason Blitman:

You can what? You could duck in and out

Brett Benner:

I said, dive, dive in and

Jason Blitman:

just like fisting story that's in the

Brett Benner:

No dive in and out. You could take the plunge.

Jason Blitman:

you tell one of the stories that I did read?

Brett Benner:

Goes right for the smut.

Jason Blitman:

listen, my don't let me live my truth.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

We have to share the full titles anal fisting a case study. Of the mental and rectal elasticity of the human male. That should sell itself,

Jason Blitman:

I know.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

but that's also why there's a gorgeous pink ribbon bookmark is so that you can return to it

Jason Blitman:

You can return. Yes, exactly. And it's so funny cause this is our quote unquote coffee table book episode, but even calling this a coffee table book is like so offensive to the book and to you cause it's so much more than that. It's a time capsule. It's like this kaleidoscope of queer thoughts and While on the surface, it might look like a coffee table book. I just want our listeners to know that it is so much deeper than that. As I was flipping through it, I was emotional because it really is, you're stepping through time of not just queer history, but of my history. For me, 36, and there are books that I've consumed or flipped through throughout my time as a gay young person. All of them, or most of them, are from the 80s, the 90s. But to really hold the book that feels so relevant to me and my recent history. Had me very emotional. Yeah,

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

The names the authors and contributors that make up this collection. And are, it's just been such an honor to publish their work now. And sometimes, in many cases to republish what we published in the magazine and great conversations. Between honey, and Garth Greenwell

Brett Benner:

Oh my God. I was reading that this morning. Oh my God.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Which we originally published in, I believe, 2017 or 2016 was produced by Fran Toronto, my executive editor Mr at the time incredible talent in their own right. And it's ultimately what inspired the title of the book was that conversation that. I think it maybe was a three and a half hour long conversation that they had that we recorded and tried to transcribe it cut down to what went into print, but just, 1 of many conversations Channing Nicholas and Alexander and conversation, so many incredible voices. Who and through their work reference so many of, the things that and the pieces that, probably made you feel the way you felt about just the legacy that that this whole thing. And then, um, queer country musician Andrew saw doing a tribute to his friend, the late Patrick Pagarty, who created Lavender Country, the first queer country album. And they were working on a duets album when he passed. And I reached out and asked if he would want to honor him in that way. It's a lot of It's new and old, and it's, cross generational conversations, and there's just so much in here for everyone.

Jason Blitman:

Even the subtitle is Stories of Growth, Belonging, and Other Queer Possibilities. I, I think, on the surface, we could say other queer possibilities are things like, a fisting hookup. Or a learning about

Brett Benner:

go of the fist scene, Jason.

Jason Blitman:

or no, I referenced it. So I'm like, just going to,

Brett Benner:

no,

Jason Blitman:

at my point, like those on the surface can be what we're calling other queer possibilities. Are there things that you wanted to make sure you included are there? Are there possibilities that you see aspirationally that will be in volume two that don't even exist yet? I, that's like such a weird question to ask because what even are possibilities? We, sometimes we don't even know what possibilities are.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

And yeah, there's so much and like you said earlier, it's hard to contain it all in 1 volume in the pages. That I was allotted. I think I continue asking for more as often as I

Jason Blitman:

Zach, can I have 600 pages, please?

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

I know. Yeah. Bring back the encyclopedia bookshelf. thinking about the subtitle and creating that it's in many ways, imagine, us having a space as for people to grow and evolve into ourselves and be authentically ourselves. Imagine the feeling of true belonging and that possibility of belonging and all the other possibilities that can come, but like a reference of like. There is it is endless and infinite and abundant and it is hard to capture it all in 1 title in 1 piece. And that's why. book is so diverse, and it's in the type of content as well. I think there may be at least, um, it's hard to even call them comics because their work of art in my eyes, but there's 2 comics in the book. There's a zine by front has for now. There's just so many different types of material that try to at least show the vibrancy and the diversity of. The way

Brett Benner:

I was that particular thing. I love seeing because first of all, I love him so much, but just to, I, I opened it up and I was like, wait, Jaboukie White. And I like, I know Jaboukie cause I'm a casting director by trade, and I've auditioned Jaboukie. And so just to even see him suddenly on that page, I love that. And one of the things that I responded so much to in this beyond the obvious, but I loved just the representation, but that it also like those pictures, there's a whole section of these photos from Fire Island. And I loved seeing these portraits of these men who looked to me real and normal. And listen I love a hunk and I love, The fantasy, but that's not real life for so many, I would say queer people. And so to see people who are represented, who look like just people loving and living and so much joy, that just meant so much to me to see that. I remember the one time when I went to Fire Island, this was 30 years ago, probably. And I went with like friends of mine who are all on Broadway. And I remember coming out into Fire Island and I was this, pale pasty, skinny white kid and in this sea of these bodies. And I like almost terrified to take my clothes off amidst all of that. And It just brought up all that, but looking at those pictures, I was like, this is so beautiful. And I loved that. And I loved that's one of the things to me to resonate, it's resonated so much of just this the way you've captured so many different slices of people that are just authentic and real. I loved it.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Yeah, and the photographer Robert Andy Combs who created that series and that story is just a gift bound to a wheelchair and so much of The story represents the community that looks out and cares for each other. And, yeah, it's a really gorgeous addition, but it's also, part of the mission that was to create more relatable and authentic, representations. Of bodies and the, again, diversity of our community so that what was previously, largely published in the major national gay magazines that In 2011, 12, when I was getting this idea off the ground. Was still really, as you would expect traditional chiseled often straight people on the covers of the major magazines and promoted that lifestyle and that sort of metropolis coastal elite that, we've obviously seen over the last decade. the media expansion and the explorations really show otherwise and I'm very proud and very grateful for the role that. That magazine and the team that I built to make more visibility for our community, you know, really happen.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. And looking through your online catalog of your 10 issues of Hello Mister, in the description leading into the stuff for the 10th you sort of articulate what I imagine your thesis and intention behind A Great Gay Book really is, which you say, when we take time to look at ourselves and our past, we start to pay attention to what the patterns of our lives are telling us. We owe ourselves the time to evaluate the space we take up. That awareness gives us reason. It guides us forward into everything that follows. And I think that's part of The emotion that I was feeling, reflecting on this to then think about what the possibilities of the future are

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Yeah. I mean, well Said.

Jason Blitman:

Well,

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

reminding me of that as

Jason Blitman:

in your own words, I feel like that's that you've, you articulated it. So I'm just

Brett Benner:

You did good.

Jason Blitman:

articulated it.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

And with that last issue issue 10 of Hellomister, I knew that I was sun setting. Thanks that form that version of what this platform was and it was intense. It was hard. I was grieving. I did, it was very intentional about what that last issue said as I was signing off. But to just be, given the opportunity to spend enough time to capture and bind it all in a new way. Yeah, it was. A really beautiful and very intense process, but the the introduction, I think, is 1 that took me longest to pull together because I wanted to see all the pieces too. It's there's so many. Puzzle pieces that I needed to lay out and step back and see from a distance and also say, how is the thread of. All of this time that has gone by what does it mean now? And what is it? What do I want people to take into the future with them? So, thanks for reminding me of that.

Jason Blitman:

oh, of course the book has this gorgeous, like metallic

Brett Benner:

End pages.

Jason Blitman:

yeah.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Yes,

Brett Benner:

stunning.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

the edge, the book, it's just so much of the book I have to acknowledge that after living in New York for six years, where I ran Hell in a Stir, I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the beginning of 2020, and, a lot of it, I had no real connection to this place. It was a lot. A lot of that choice was for me to find somewhere quiet to grieve and rebuild and, find new directions or distance myself from Hello, Mr. And the identity that was so tightly connected to 1 thing people seeing me as the founder of this game magazine. I don't think it's gone that far, but it was a healthy boundary and break for me. And obviously. I moved during an election year, intense 1, 2020, and we all know, how things unfolded. And it's through, being here and really getting involved and developing community and understanding and serving community, which. There's always the lens that I have and whether I'm living in the Castro or in Bed Stuy or, in Michigan and now Oklahoma just how, what queer life is like. In the middle and what queer life is like on the edges and there's a, theme in the book in many of the pieces of religious trauma that I think so many queer people are still working through and releasing and expressing themselves through their art and. And so when, creating what the identity and the look of this book is going to be, I was like gay Bible give us that. And I want it, with the gold edges of the Bible. I'm like but couldn't they be a rainbow? Couldn't it be holographic? Reflection in it and it does it reflects rainbows and I've never seen a book like this and I'm just so again, grateful.

Brett Benner:

When I open mine, it plays I Will Survive. Does yours do that?

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Yeah, just a little whisper.

Jason Blitman:

I was listening to a podcast this morning with an author named Sharon Raganath, who's writing a, who wrote a book on memory. And he was talking about how there's a correlation between our episodic memory and reproductive age and how the older you get, like you're remembering less from that moment, and it's more about sharing history and sharing the wisdom, and that's like why the elders, in quotes, are the ones who share wisdom. And apparently other species that live beyond menopause have intense social cultures, like orcas. Orca communities are led by post menopausal female orcas, and they're the who are responsible for Telling all the young orcas how to orca. And I was like, oh, there's something so interesting about the fact that gay men are, we're like, quote unquote, naturally not reproductive beings. Right? And so there's something very interesting about what you're doing. sharing the history as a, you're very young, but as an elder comparatively to

Brett Benner:

You're the

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

An elder, eh, worker an elder spirit

Jason Blitman:

in elder spirit. How does it feel to carry this banner of passing the torch of the history?

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

At times, I in being at the helm of uh, gay publication and, really advocating for the community for so many years. It had, felt overwhelming and like a, huge responsibility. And that's what I was trying to articulate towards the beginning of our times, the importance of of our community and end of passing these stories on. And I think we're all responsible for that and primarily responsible for telling our own stories and telling our truth. The ways that, serve us and that can heal us. But I think, as we're entering into, as I'm entering into promoting this book and talking about this book and sharing it with the world, there's this comfort in being the voice being the name on the spine because it, it is so many people, there's 108 names listed on the back of the book. It is a. As broad of a, stroke as we can make, but there is just so much still to be told. And there, and I think that these are all windows that are opened through the stories and the art that each person that brought their unique perspective to this collection gets to, um, hopefully give someone something to grab on to. And I talk about that in the introduction as well. The the great honor to be able to share something that somebody connects with.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. No pressure, but we would happily also purchase volume two. We'll let volume one get out into the world first. Congratulations. it's a beautiful. book and I, I can't wait for all of our listeners to, to get it at the end of the month.

Ryan Fitzgibbon:

Thank you so much for all your beautiful questions and just holding space for this and everyone in it.

Jason Blitman:

Thank you so much for joining us. Everyone, all of our listeners, thank you for listening. Check out Queer Power Couples and A Great Gay Book. Check them out in our bookshop. org page

Brett Benner:

we'll see you next week, and thank

Jason Blitman:

you next week.

Brett Benner:

listening.

Jason Blitman:

Thanks for listening. Bye.

I