Gays Reading

PRIDE '24 feat. Carvell Wallace, R.O. Kwon, and Byron Lane

June 04, 2024 Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Carvell Wallace, R.O. Kwon, Byron Lane Season 2 Episode 54
PRIDE '24 feat. Carvell Wallace, R.O. Kwon, and Byron Lane
Gays Reading
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Gays Reading
PRIDE '24 feat. Carvell Wallace, R.O. Kwon, and Byron Lane
Jun 04, 2024 Season 2 Episode 54
Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Carvell Wallace, R.O. Kwon, Byron Lane

Jason and Brett kick off PRIDE 2024 with some incredible queer authors! They talk to Carvell Wallace (Another Word for Love) about the key to your ability to fight for what's right, R.O. Kwon (Exhibit) about art and how taking a choreography workshop got her in the body of her characters, and Byron Lane (Big Gay Wedding) about why he thinks he'd thrive in prison.

Carvell Wallace grew up between Southwestern PA, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. He attended Tisch School for the Arts and worked as a stage actor before spending fifteen years in direct service youth non-profits. He has covered arts, entertainment, music, culture, race, sports, and parenting for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Slate, GQ, Pitchfork, MTV News and others. As a podcast host, he has been nominated for a Peabody and won a Kaleidoscope Award and was the Slate parenting advice columnist. He is the co-author of the New York Times best-selling basketball memoir The Sixth Man with Andre Iguodala. He lives in Oakland and has two adult children, a comfortable couch, and a lot of plants.

R. O. Kwon is the author of the nationally bestselling novel The Incendiaries, which was named a best book of the year by more than forty publications and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award. With Garth Greenwell, Kwon coedited the bestselling Kink, a New York Times Notable Book. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, and MacDowell. Born in Seoul, Kwon has lived most of her life in the United States.

Byron Lane is the author of A Star Is Bored, hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “wildly funny and irreverent.” He’s a playwright, screenwriter, Emmy Award–winning journalist, and former assistant to actress Carrie Fisher. He’s originally from New Orleans and lives in Palm Springs, California, with his husband, author Steven Rowley, and their rescue dogs, Raindrop and Shirley.

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

Show Notes Transcript

Jason and Brett kick off PRIDE 2024 with some incredible queer authors! They talk to Carvell Wallace (Another Word for Love) about the key to your ability to fight for what's right, R.O. Kwon (Exhibit) about art and how taking a choreography workshop got her in the body of her characters, and Byron Lane (Big Gay Wedding) about why he thinks he'd thrive in prison.

Carvell Wallace grew up between Southwestern PA, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. He attended Tisch School for the Arts and worked as a stage actor before spending fifteen years in direct service youth non-profits. He has covered arts, entertainment, music, culture, race, sports, and parenting for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Slate, GQ, Pitchfork, MTV News and others. As a podcast host, he has been nominated for a Peabody and won a Kaleidoscope Award and was the Slate parenting advice columnist. He is the co-author of the New York Times best-selling basketball memoir The Sixth Man with Andre Iguodala. He lives in Oakland and has two adult children, a comfortable couch, and a lot of plants.

R. O. Kwon is the author of the nationally bestselling novel The Incendiaries, which was named a best book of the year by more than forty publications and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award. With Garth Greenwell, Kwon coedited the bestselling Kink, a New York Times Notable Book. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, and MacDowell. Born in Seoul, Kwon has lived most of her life in the United States.

Byron Lane is the author of A Star Is Bored, hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “wildly funny and irreverent.” He’s a playwright, screenwriter, Emmy Award–winning journalist, and former assistant to actress Carrie Fisher. He’s originally from New Orleans and lives in Palm Springs, California, with his husband, author Steven Rowley, and their rescue dogs, Raindrop and Shirley.

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:

Happy Pride.

Brett Benner:

We're here. We're June. We're priding it.

Jason Blitman:

June, June, June.

Brett Benner:

It's busting out all over.

Jason Blitman:

Boston out. Folks, if you missed our June announcement of our author lineup, head on over to our Instagram at Gaze Reading and check it out. We are so overwhelmed with gratitude and exhaustion.

Brett Benner:

Yes. Yes. Yes. I got tired of looking at that post cause

Jason Blitman:

I know. My eyeballs are saying, please stop reading for a day.

Brett Benner:

I know. I know.

Jason Blitman:

And it's important to just say 100 percent of the books and we talked to a lot of authors this month are either written by a person who identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA plus community or features something queer in the book. And that is just like, there's like something queer in every single book this month. And there are so many, there's so many to choose from. there's something for everyone. And I'm like, drooling. I'm salivating. I'm obsessed. so happy pride. I feel very, I feel lots of pride right now. I'm proud of us. We're this, we're entering our Our year month of doing this podcast, or, our year month? That's silly. Our, June marks a year of us doing this podcast, which is so

Brett Benner:

our birthday, our podcast

Jason Blitman:

our birth month. Yeah. So just thank you so much to all of you, our listeners. We couldn't do without you. A couple episodes ago, we thanked publicists that we work with. Thanks to all of you who are, are so generous to us. And of course, all of our authors, who have given us their time to talk to us. and as always, if you like what you're hearing, thank you for coming back. If you're new to us, welcome. Follow us on Instagram at GaysReading. you can like or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. and if you can leave us a five star review, that would be tremendously appreciated. Keep us going for yet another year.

Brett Benner:

Actually helpful. Helps with the algorithms.

Jason Blitman:

every single book that we talk about, and we're talking about a lot this month particularly, can be found in our bookshop. org page, which you can find the link to in our show notes. We have our Patreon, that's where you could find our bonus content on our Patreon. We also have, which is something we haven't talked about in a minute, Gays Reading Merchandise! And no better time to buy some Gays Reading merch than Pride! Show your Gays Reading pride. We have buttons like Gay Reader and t shirts like that say Gay Reader. I have a mug that says Gay Reader. And, and, you know, not just Gay Reader things too, but

Brett Benner:

Foggs, friend of

Jason Blitman:

All of those links are in our show notes and, uh, in the link tree of our Instagram. And, oh my god, there's so much to talk about! this week kicks off our read along of The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese, uh, to learn more about that. You can go to gazereading. com slash readalong. We are taking 10 weeks to read the book. You haven't missed anything, so you could start right now. You can even start next week or in two weeks, that's fine. if you're not ready, there's no rush, but there's like a big group of us that are reading along, including the author, Amy Jo Burns, who wrote Mercury. She is, leading the, the troupe with us. there's like so much going on. I can't believe it. I'm so excited. I can't stand it. I'm so excited.

Brett Benner:

you can't stand it. You look very cute right now. It's very cute, your excitement.

Jason Blitman:

I'm so excited. It's a big month and it's pride and we're gays reading. So, you know, we're here. We're queer. We're reading and my eyes are bleeding. there are books that are coming out today.

Brett Benner:

So many, including, including two of our, guests this month, Swift River comes out today by Essie Chambers. And also, Alan Murren's book, The Coast Road comes out today. Both are so fantastic. Also out today is Fire Exit by Morgan Telty, which is terrific. soldier Sailor by Claire Kelly, which is one of the books that is on the shortlist for the woman's prize. Hall of Mirrors by John Copenhaver comes out today. Uh, and that's what I've got as well as a number of other things, but those were the kind of

Jason Blitman:

Patrick Nathan's The Future Was Color How Are You Really by Ella Dawson comes out today. Both of those are super queer. and one that I missed from a couple weeks ago is I Hope This Finds You Well by Natalie Sue. All of those books I am super excited, to check out and to read. So, I mean, tons, tons, tons, tons. And we have

Brett Benner:

many more.

Jason Blitman:

three just, uh, the humans that are on our podcast today. I like I'm covelling. I can't even stand it. Okay. So we have Carvel Wallace talking to us about his memoir. Another word for love. R. O. Kwon is here talking about her book, Exhibit, and Byron Lane, the paperback release of Big A Wedding. It's just like an embarrassment of riches! All of their bios are gonna be In the show notes and they're going to be on our Instagram. So they're just like beautiful humans. And I don't want to take up any more of their time on our podcast right now. So in order of appearance, we've got Carvel Wallace, we've got RO Kwan, and then Byron Lane. Happy pride y'all. I'm Jason.

Brett Benner:

I'm Brett. Gaze reading.

Jason Blitman:

of many Pride episodes of Gays Reading.

I'm making more videos from now on, so keep an eye out for that.

Carvell Wallace:

Hi, how's it going?

Jason Blitman:

Someone's done a, someone's

Brett Benner:

has a

Jason Blitman:

their own

Brett Benner:

Exactly.

Carvell Wallace:

done some podcasts. The allegations are true.

Jason Blitman:

How's it going?

Carvell Wallace:

Pretty good.

Jason Blitman:

Nice to properly meet you. Now that we know every single detail about you. It's always funny when people put, when people write novels, they clearly have a lot of themselves in throughout the narrative. But when it's a memoir, it is like quite literally Their story.

Carvell Wallace:

yes. Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

and it's always funny to be like, Oh, we know every single thing about

Carvell Wallace:

I know. I know. I

Jason Blitman:

to meet you. And we're going to talk to you about it.

Carvell Wallace:

It's so surreal.

Brett Benner:

it must feel very vulnerable to to, in a way to do this,

Carvell Wallace:

Yeah, it does. It's like you have to deal with that like way early on. You have to get over that part like way early on. Otherwise, it'll, you'll try to yourself crazy. Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

But you have your own podcast. You've created other podcasts. You've done a lot of profiles. You've interviewed other people. And at the moment, how does it feel so far to be on the other side?

Carvell Wallace:

It's it's scary. It's like definitely scary. But I was, I feel almost like writing about myself is like my default setting. And then all the other profiles and all this stuff is like me cosplaying like a journalist, but at core, I'm like, I'm like a personal storyteller. So in, in that sense, this feels more natural, but then it's also, Like imminently terrifying because you're just like, damn, all these strangers are just going to read all this shit about me. They're going to form all these opinions based on it. What if everyone else sees something terrible about me that I don't see about myself? That's the big fear, and yeah, you're scared, but also you're just like, this is what you do. So just fucking do it.

Jason Blitman:

So speaking of, I have things to tell you about yourself.

Carvell Wallace:

No, not the read. Not so early.

Jason Blitman:

It's been four minutes. Welcome to

Carvell Wallace:

me dinner first.

Jason Blitman:

So funny. So your book, Another Word for Love. You've done a lot of writing as you just said yourself, a lot of your own work has been personal. Why the memoir now?

Carvell Wallace:

I think I knew that I was going to write a memoir before I knew what it was going to be about, and to me, a memoir can be about anything because it's unlike a biography, it's about memory. And so we get to play with memory in it. And I also, just to be honest it's like what I thought I could probably get paid to write most quickly, and like

Jason Blitman:

Good for you.

Carvell Wallace:

know what I'm saying? I'm like, I have to figure out what my next move is to keep

Jason Blitman:

You know your story. You don't have to make one up.

Carvell Wallace:

I don't have to make one up. And I was always scared off by that idea that most fiction writers I know have to produce the whole work before they sell it. And I was like, there's, I don't think I have the time or like financial cushion to do that. So for me, the memoir felt like the most like reasonable next step for me as a writer. And then it was a matter of figuring out how do I want this to be structured? What do I want this to be about? That, that sort of stuff. But the,

Jason Blitman:

listeners, what would you say that one line is of what this memoir is about?

Carvell Wallace:

It's about trauma and recovery from trauma. It's about like the ways in which we harm each other especially childhood trauma. And then it's about all the different ways to recover from trauma. And in this case, the method that kind of emerges is like, An examination of love. What does love mean? What is and isn't included in love? What do we get to learn about love? And all that's necessary because in order, I believe that in order for us to, I don't know, it's a chicken or a question, but the site of recovery from trauma in my life has been interpersonal relationships. How do I show up for people in the ways that they need me to show up? And what do I have to clear out of my own self in order to be, in order to show up for people, maybe even ways that people weren't able to show up for me, that then is like how we go about disentangling ourselves from them. Our grief and all of our pain and all the shit that we're carrying How do we get free from that so we can show up for each other?

Jason Blitman:

So this was a project that You didn't have to come up with a story and you did it. You were able to do it by just writing a spec and then you wrote it. You worked through your trauma and now how do you feel on the other end?

Carvell Wallace:

I feel you know a friend of mine who's like a mentor and a memoirist was like I was like complaining about oh my god I don't have to reveal all the shit about myself like i'm actually scared like what you know And she was just like you don't really know the liberation that's going to come on the other side of this You And I think she's been right about that. Like the book's only, I've only been talking about the book now, maybe 150 people have read it, but even in that, I'm like, Oh, I get it now. Like I, there's, I have a new ability to look the world in the eye because I don't have this vague sense that there's something about me that I need to hide or something I'm ashamed of. And so that allows, I argue that's important work for all of us, not only just. To make yourself feel better, but it's also like political work because, I think that the more solid you feel in yourself as a person, the easier it is for you to stand up and fight for what's right. And I think that a lot of the reasons that people are afraid to enter into conflict for the sake of justice is because they don't want to call out bullshit because they're afraid someone's going to call them on their own bullshit. And so people so in that way, we've cower in the corner and let injustices continue. And so I think what I argue in the book and what I've understood a lot more, even as I've gone through this process, is that the ability to fully own yourself and stand entirely in your own self in a way that is, isn't hindered by shame is actually like key to your ability to stand up and fight for what's right.

Jason Blitman:

Something that you just said, you said sometimes we cower because we're worried people will call us out on our bullshit. But what's interesting is that earlier you were saying, you're, what if somebody reads something in the book that you didn't even realize you had come out, right? So I think we all, it's not even, it's not even worried that someone's going to call me out on my bullshit so much as what if I have bullshit that I don't even

Carvell Wallace:

that I don't even know about. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, totally. Yeah. So I think,

Jason Blitman:

That's scary.

Carvell Wallace:

So I think that's part of what makes the book like what it is that it's not just like it's a, it's like a pretty thorough examination of the self. I think the, I think coming to a working place with your own bullshit isn't just about admitting everything that you know is wrong. It's also about the willingness to examine the self and where. Where your shit comes from. I would, I often think of this Pema Chodron quote, like who's this meditator, like plum village. And she said this thing about my meditation practice and she's been doing it for 70 years. Didn't free me of my character defects. It made me a connoisseur of them.

Brett Benner:

Oh, wow.

Carvell Wallace:

that has always stuck with me that I'm not going to be like completely freed of the difficult feelings and the hypocrisies and the weirdnesses. It's just that I'm not going to be driven by them because I understand them. I can be like, Oh, there's that thing again, where I have to be the most charming person in the room. I'm doing that right now. There's that thing again, where I'm feeling insecure and thinking that everyone hates me, even though no one. I said that it's like I just get to know that stuff, and so I'm not just like blindly driven by it. I actually have some working relationship with it.

Brett Benner:

I was also struck to with you so much because clearly, especially with. Your childhood, there was a lot of trauma that existed. Um, I just want to read something cause it, it just stuck out with me you were talking about your childhood. He said, these were beautiful times for me. They don't sound like it, but they were, there was a world that kept unfolding itself with endless pleasures and distractions. I did. There's a, I'm going to skip this line that then I did not have to ask where my mother was and why she didn't want me. There was no room for questions like this. There were too many other things to think about. Even grief, even the absence of home, even the trembling. clapboard of a two story house felt like a warm cup of milk in a thick and heavy mug, laced with just the tiniest hint of sweet vanilla and whiskey. I just thought it was I reread that last night and I was like, this is so beautiful, but it speaks such volumes about who you are and who you were and the way and the lens that we view things in terms of, Not only your past, but what you're talking about now and in the present and going into the future.

Carvell Wallace:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

it's such a beautiful place to be, in my opinion.

Carvell Wallace:

Thank you for that, and thank you for reading that, like I, there's so much in this book that I forget about, and and I like completely forgot about that passage for a while, but I think, the thing that, one of the things that strikes me now looking back is that kids are so incredibly hopeful, like no matter what happens, kids are just like hopeful, and I think that was the case for me, it's like I was I think another thing that the book is about is like finding beauty in the world as a way of reckoning your relationship with your own pain and grief. That, that if the narrative in your mind is always just, my life sucks, everything is terrible, blah, blah, blah, that may even be factually true on some level. But it's not very helpful and it's not the whole story. And so I think a lot of what this character who I sometimes refer to in the third person discovers in the book is that the, there is a liberation to be found by focusing on the beauty of things outside of oneself as a way of maybe putting one story in perspective within relationship to everything. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

feel like it's told without judgment. Simply telling your story. A great example of that is, I don't even know how you identify sexually and as a reader, we talk about the binary and and human nature needing things defined so desperately, but what's so fascinating is to come out of the book thinking it, I don't want to say it doesn't matter, because mattering is like a whole different thing but, But you leave knowing this person's sort of full experience without a label, right? You like, really, it's it's almost something without its skin, right? You don't know what the outside looks like, but the meat you like fully understand. Oh,

Carvell Wallace:

about that. And that's, that was something, it really feels good to hear you say that. Cause that was something that was really important to me throughout the book is this notion of that we're looking under the skin, so to speak, metaphorically. And I think there's even a line, a passage that I really like a lot. That I do remember about making out with someone at a party. And then I talk about that, like when you get really close to someone, they lose their personhood and they become something different because you just see into their eyes and and to me, that was like a sort of metaphor for how I wanted this book to feel that you were looking into someone's eyes in a way. And I remember someone said like an early reader was like, yeah, the book is so weird because nothing gay even happens to like way late in the book. And I was like, I read the first page. I'm like, this guy is gay. You know what I mean? Like,

Jason Blitman:

you know Him better than we do.

Carvell Wallace:

I know I'm better than we do. Yeah. But for me growing up when I grew up and where I grew up, I always found it hard to fit myself into labels of straightness or gayness or bisexuality or whatever, none of it ever felt right. It was just like. I don't know everything I don't really know also, why do we need to sort this out? And so I was hoping to capture some of the, to make a pathway through the way the book is written for people to view our sexuality in our gender identity and all these other sense of identities in a more fluid way. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

So, I mean, come on,

Jason Blitman:

Since I think a huge part of the book is that there isn't a definition, but there is a lot of this fluidity. Can you talk a little bit about just like what that means? To you as a writer, what it why is that important? Why is it important to share all pieces of you that like some people might identify as queer or bi or whatever or fluid. Again, we're not putting any labels to it because it doesn't freaking matter. But why is that important to you?

Carvell Wallace:

Probably the first thing that comes to mind is that it's something of a, for me, something of a liberation practice to see the connection between things. And I think, while I think labels have their purpose, but they can also be overused or misused. To draw unnecessary divisions between things and people. And so a lot of what the way that I approach writing is this is related to, this is related to, this is related to this, that, and I do that with time in the book. Like I treat time that like, we don't necessarily consider time as being divided sunrises, but you could easily make a calendar where time is marketed by core memories. This was the core memory of this moment in time. And then the next square on the calendar is this other core memory. And the idea is that, things are all related. Nothing. Even things that happened in the past don't stop happening. They continue on. And some things that only happened for 30 seconds can happen for the rest of your life. And so to me, that's like maybe an important underlying ethos of my writing is that there are connections between all things and that those connections are important to understand and examine as a way of being in community with like life and with one another and with the world as it stands.

Jason Blitman:

And essentially make you whole.

Carvell Wallace:

Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Yeah, that's right. And to make you whole, that's a really good point because the book is about like the return to wholeness after, I think I posit like that, one way of thinking of trauma is that it's a thing that separates you from parts of yourself. And for that, I was thinking actually, Of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I don't know if you, and at the beginning, there's that whole sort of origin story about being separated into two that image. I loved that movie so much when it came out, I watched it obsessively and that image has always stayed in my mind of that there is a one and it gets split into two and for the rest of. You're trying to find your way back to that one. And so the, this book is about like another version of that, which is we're trying to find our way back to safety, back to wholeness, back to connection. And for me, it's hard to do that when we falsely separate ourselves from everything around us.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. And for better or for worse, that trauma, that history is a part of us. We can try to cut it out as much as we want, but that's, it can't happen.

Carvell Wallace:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

You talking about a calendar. I needed to tell you about how you gave me a little bit of an existential crisis this morning. Cause I was listening to your how to episode about how to hit reset on your career. And. And you talked, first of all, that in and of itself, existential crisis over here, but, and you went on to talk about the 4, 000 weeks calendar. Brett, do you, are you familiar with this? It's, they basically say that people on average live 4, 000 weeks and that you can buy a calendar where you basically

Brett Benner:

You're checking off the days till

Jason Blitman:

check off the weeks. And so I like looked up my weeks and I was like, went on a spiral.

Carvell Wallace:

Oh, hell no.

Jason Blitman:

I know, I was like, Carvel, how dare you?

Brett Benner:

I wouldn't look it up. I don't think I could.

Carvell Wallace:

It's pretty amazing. It has. It's funny because that calendar, I got it maybe like a year ago. And or maybe a year and a half ago. And it has, there've been many moments in which I've been like, gee, should I do this thing or should I not do it? And then I'll turn and look at the calendar and I'll be like, fuck, I have to do it and I'll just do whatever the thing is. Cause I'm like, I don't know how much time I have left.

Jason Blitman:

my god. You got so fucked, I love that.

Carvell Wallace:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

But what are they? Okay. So 4, 000, I just have figured this math out with me. Then what would that average be for a lifespan in terms of how many years do we know?

Jason Blitman:

52 weeks in a year, let's do some quick math.

Carvell Wallace:

Quick maths.

Jason Blitman:

4, 000 divided

Brett Benner:

like I'm going to do that 525, 000. Yeah. What is it? 60? No, that doesn't surprise me as an average. Now we obviously know that longevity is stretching now with everything that there is. That doesn't mean that. I certainly will, but yeah, longevity is, it's a little bit fluid like everything else lately.

Jason Blitman:

when I did my calculation and I saw that I'm still under 2000, I was like, Oh, okay, feel okay about this.

Brett Benner:

You're fine.

Jason Blitman:

there.

Brett Benner:

You're, you haven't turned the hourglass over yet.

Jason Blitman:

No exactly. So in the book, You will do, you'll say a word or a phrase or post an anecdote, following an anecdote, you'll say and that's another word for love. Is there something in your life that you have found you've turned to the most that is for you another word for love?

Carvell Wallace:

Yeah. That's yeah. That's a great question. There are so many things.

Jason Blitman:

That's good.

Carvell Wallace:

oftentimes, yeah. Oftentimes the thing that, that I think most of now is. Cause I'm really bad. This is going to sound mundane, but actually it doesn't feel that way to be. I'm pretty bad at texting people back. I'm like a notorious bad texter. And so I think of texting people back as like another word for love. Like I, it's really important now for me to be like, To respond to people and when I don't respond for a couple of days, because I've been just running around doing whatever on deadline or whatever, what have you to like, acknowledge that apologize for that and be like, instead of ducking and dodging and being like, Oh, I didn't even see this message or whatever weird shit I used to do. I think that staying in communication with people who love me has re has really emerged as like a way of showing up because, and the other thing I'm doing is that, okay, I'm turning 50 this year. And.

Brett Benner:

Congratulations.

Carvell Wallace:

Thank you. And never in my adult life have I thrown a birthday party for myself. I've always been like, no one fucking cares. Doesn't matter. It's not my birthday. Whatever. What is a birthday anyway? Time is fake. And this year I'm gonna throw a big old fucking party. And I'm getting a party planner and I'm like inviting all these people. And the motivation to do that is that the people who love me want to have an opportunity to show love. Denying people being hyper self sufficient and denying people the opportunity to show love and share love with you denies them something that they really need for their lives to work. So to me, that's, those are two things I'm thinking of that are other words for love.

Jason Blitman:

Those are really, really great

Brett Benner:

that's, that's so beautiful. And I wonder how do you Think you'll receive it that evening? Are you, Will you have anxiety about that? Will you be able to open yourself up to receive that?

Carvell Wallace:

Yeah, I don't know. We'll see. I'm practicing it.

Jason Blitman:

you do a follow up episode

Carvell Wallace:

yeah. I threw a little like book release party this weekend, which was like a little test run of that. And it was, yeah, I was a little bit like, Oh don't worry about me. Just everyone enjoy your brunch. But it was like, no, it's

Brett Benner:

It's about you.

Carvell Wallace:

see that right there. I don't like that sentence.

Jason Blitman:

One final thing before we go. I have to just tell you that I listened to your audiobook while reading. It's one of my new favorite things to do. But I started listening, and I was like, I know this guy. How do I know this guy? What is going on? Because I also try not to read too much about a book or read bios before I dive into anything. And I devoured Finding Fred when it

Carvell Wallace:

Oh, thank you I love that show. I really love working on it. And that show has resonated with people in ways that I never could have predicted. It was like four or five years ago that we did that show and still people will show up in my inbox and be like, I love this show that changed my life. So that really means a lot to me.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Brett, you have to listen to it. Finding Fred story of Fred Rogers. Really lovely.

Carvell Wallace:

Thank you so much. I really appreciate you guys.

Jason Blitman:

Wallace, what a delight. Thank you so much. Everyone go check out Another Word for Love. And now let's hear from R.O. Kwon talking to us about her book, Exhibit.

R.O. Kwon:

Hi.

Brett Benner:

Hello.

R.O. Kwon:

Hi. Well, thank you

Brett Benner:

Love your glasses. I love your

R.O. Kwon:

you. I've seen multiple excellent of glasses in this room.

Brett Benner:

Big frames are really in right now.

R.O. Kwon:

Aspire to, I just want them to get bigger. Like I want the, I forgot her name, but the costume supplier in the incredible, she had like

Jason Blitman:

Yes, Edna

Brett Benner:

yes.

R.O. Kwon:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Edna Mode!

R.O. Kwon:

I want her glasses.

Jason Blitman:

For our listeners who are unfamiliar, do you have an elevator pitch that you can give us for the book?

R.O. Kwon:

So what I've been telling people is that exhibit explorers, what you'd risk to pursue your core desires. What might you, what you might give up to, to go after what you want most. And I was thinking as I wrote the book of the way so many people are made to hide and suppress and if possible, kill our appetites for what we really want, whether it be sex or ambition or food or et cetera, et cetera. And in this novel, I wanted to bring together three. Korean woman who want a great deal and to see what happens when they run after what they desire.

Brett Benner:

That is excellent. And like your book, you are a master at brevity.

Jason Blitman:

I have not read the incendiaries, but I'm very aware that it was a personal book for you. And From what I'm reading about you, Exhibit is also a very personal book for you. Is this what you do? You just work out your trauma in your fiction? But

Brett Benner:

do.

R.O. Kwon:

I want to say sometimes I wonder about people who aren't artists and writers and and don't have some place to put their misery, like, where does it go? It's such a relief to. It's such a relief when something terrible happens to there's very often a part of my mind that then starts observing and thinking, Oh, this is interesting. Let's take notes on this. But I will say that it's I found it to be increasingly not just useful, but perhaps vital to walk toward fear with what I write, so much so that I trust in fear as a guiding sign toward what I want to write next and maybe want isn't quite the right word, what I feel compelled to write next. And part of it for me has been that there have been times in my life when I've, Felt just desperately alone in the world. I'm alone in what I wanted and what I believed and what I thought. And there are in those times books in particular have provided. What has really been and I don't say this to exaggerate at all life saving fellowship. And there are books that have met me in that solitude and said you are not in fact the only person in the world who has ever wanted this way or thought this way ever and hope this way. And I so badly want to be able to do that for others. Which is of course also in a way it continues to be a way that I do this for myself as well and for this past self who thought herself a candidate at times for being the loneliest person in the world. I knew I wasn't like going to win that ring. I knew there were plenty of candidates, but

Jason Blitman:

you were like, on the ballot,

R.O. Kwon:

yeah, I was just like I'm a, I

Brett Benner:

Clearly at least a runner up, right?

Jason Blitman:

A solid write in.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah and you said the thing about going toward fear and something that is articulated in the book that I find super interesting is it is important that you as a human embrace those fears, but also find a safe space to face them. Uh, talking about the kink aspect of the book, if you're going to talk to your partner and your partner is not going to be on board with fulfilling your needs and desires, then that's a scary thing to talk about in the first place. if you're not going to be met with compassion and and someone who's willing to live in the fear with you, then you need to find someone who will. And that was like a really interesting lesson, I think, to even take from the book.

R.O. Kwon:

that's so beautiful. I love the way you say that. And yeah, because it can be true for so many people, right? As is true for Jin the narrator of Exhibit it can be so brutally hard to, put words to a desire period. It can be extra brutally hard in this world that we live in to put words to sexual desire especially if that sexual desire falls outside of heteronormative very rigidly defined notions of what sex is and should be. And then for that to be then met with, Oh no, or this is too much for me, or. Or if there's any sort of indication of disgust or repulsion that can just compound the difficulty in a lot of ways. And yeah, and it does for a lot of people.

Brett Benner:

You've taken what we view as gender roles and sexuality and all of it. And you've changed the dynamic of it to make what we think of as feminine and what we think of as masculine, it all changes. His desire for a child, which he really wants, and she absolutely is very clear that she doesn't, playing with that trope of all women want a baby, right? All women want to have a family and that's just the natural course. And that's what society expects from a Of a woman and also the idea of the perfect Asian woman who's submissive and suddenly turning that on its head. So I think you've done such an incredible job of taking everything that we know and everything that's familiar and twisting it enough that makes you think, okay everything can exist outside the binary in all different kinds of facets. And I think it's just, that's just amazing the way you've captured that.

R.O. Kwon:

Let me recover for a second from what you just said. That was I appreciate that so much. Thank you.

Jason Blitman:

Was that part of the fear that you were tapping into in writing the book?

R.O. Kwon:

I'm actually writing an essay about this right now, but it's it's filling me with so much panic to write the essay about what I was so afraid of was and am so afraid of that, that that I'm not sure I can finish it for the first time in my life. I'm 50 50. I might tell my editor. I just couldn't do it. I'm so sorry. But We'll find out. But I'm I'm a Korean woman. And women like me until very recently really just not that long ago in Korea's history and in some ways it continues. I'm really not supposed to give any sign in public I've ever had sex. Aside from having, two children who probably came about through immaculate conception in some way or another. Um, And so just the fact that I'm writing a, I'm writing a book and publishing a book that centers right as a desire, including ambition and the desire to belong, but also very much sexual desire that, that feels So alarming to my body that and I, and once again, I'm not exaggerating, but it sounds hyperbolic. It, there it, when I'm lying in bed at night, trying and failing to go to sleep one of the warnings that I can hear coming up from my body and it's very it's a very high pitched high decibel alarm is my body saying, you're going to be killed. You should not be talking about these kinds of things. This isn't safe. And and, it just wasn't that long ago that in in Korea, for instance up until 100 plus years ago there were codified laws that said that if a woman so much as moved during sex I'm smiling because it makes me so mad that sometimes when I get really mad, I just start beaming at people. If a woman moved during sex, that could be grounds for divorce. And at the time, if you weren't going to be divorced, that meant you were going to, you were just going to die. And that's so wild, right? That means that. What that implies is if you show slightest sign of pleasure then that was grounds for divorce. And and I just don't think, I don't think my body's forgotten any of this. And so that's been part of the terror. And then, of course, the book is The book is not just interested in sexual desire and longing it's especially interested in queer kinky sex and desire, which which then falls so far outside the lines of of what I'm supposed to be doing as a Korean woman on this earth that, that, yeah, it just feels that I'm breaking a lot of the, a lot of the rules that my body believes in. And yeah,

Brett Benner:

So do you give your family a very edited version of the text?

R.O. Kwon:

I've been, I've been running through so many possibilities. I've been thinking, what if I get them to sign a contract saying that they won't read the book? But I know them and they'll just ignore the contract. What if I make make swap in versions of the book with somebody else's book in there entirely and just change some of the texts like, like, like have this a book I love, like portrait of a lady by Henry James. And then just like to it's by me. Don't worry about it.

Brett Benner:

Exactly. Just change the names.

R.O. Kwon:

Yeah. My mother was an English literature major in college. So I think this would fall apart really fast too.

Jason Blitman:

Thank you for sharing all of that with us. As cis white men, it's, we don't have the cultural touchpoint and it's so coming at it from that perspective is, makes it extra interesting and poignant to read. So you talk about queerness. And per your Instagram, you started talking about your bisexuality publicly about six ish years ago. First of all, congratulations. Yay,

R.O. Kwon:

Thank you. Yay. Yay.

Jason Blitman:

and publicly. At this point, especially writing something that is undeniably queer, what does being a queer writer mean to you, and why is that important right now?

R.O. Kwon:

Oh, yeah. Whoo. At this point in 2024. I, I always I only started talking about being queer in public in 2018 um, which six years ago, you're right which does feel a little late and I hesitated, I think for a while to talk about it because I am a cis woman and Married to a cis man, and so I'm in a heterosexual presenting relationship. So there's, I think for a lot of bisexual and pansexual people, there can be that hesitation. Do I get to talk about this? And which I don't believe in, but still it was holding me back. And then, but at some point I thought, there, there are still so few publicly out Korean American. We're Korean American writers. There are so few publicly out queer Korean writers, period. It's still, it's still not at all in common for Koreans and both both in mainland Korea and in the diaspora to believe that awareness is an exotic illness that seems to afflict all kinds of other people, but does not affect Koreans. I'm pretty sure this is what my grandmother believes for instance. And I just. I'm just letting her be like, she's gone through a lot. There's,

Brett Benner:

Sure. Sure.

R.O. Kwon:

and and and so there's a still a great deal of pressure to, to not to hide awareness in Korean in Korean cult and in Korean communities. And so I thought I live in San Francisco. Most of my friends are writers and artists. So many of my friends at this point are, I know are queer that I honestly and this feels like such luck and such abundance when I meet a new person I just assume they're queer. And then if they say they're straight, then I'm just like, Oh, okay. All right. Information noted. But But it feels as though the default is more likely to be queer, which is magnificent, and I love it. And since I had that, and since I knew that, my parents, I knew my parents weren't going to disown me. They wouldn't love it, but they weren't going to disown me. So I, I really felt that, I felt and, This is just personal, it's not that anyone else has to feel this, but with all this luck, I felt that since I could talk about being queer, I might as well, and I should and I wanted to and and yeah, it's been honestly just really joyful to, to be queer in public by and large. Of course, there has been ignorance and and anger. And there's also the ongoing problem of book bans both the incendiaries and the the anthology I co edited with my friend, Garth Green, while kink have been banned in various places. I'm fully aware that exhibit will, is exhibits going to get banned. It's on

Jason Blitman:

on the list.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

R.O. Kwon:

on the, it's on the train. None of that feels feels great. It can it does. The company is stellar. The company of banned books is stellar. And it feels hard to be told Even though I don't believe it, it feels hard to be told that my books are harmful to to, to people to, that my book might be harmful to a 17 year old. Because Lord knows when I was 17 if I could have read some of the books that are being banned, if I had known that these lives were out there and possible I think it would have changed my life. I think it would have made life feel so much more livable. Um, and yeah, so those are some initial

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Thank you for both being brave and putting yourself on the page in that way, but also, I have a lot of friends who are bisexual who are in straight presenting relationships and find it tremendously difficult to talk about, to not feel like people feel like they're just. gay, but they're not actually coming out as gay. And it's really complicated. And so there, the more sort of bisexual representation there is, the more people could be like, Oh, look, it's not what we thought. It's so normal, right? And it is. And on behalf of those people that I know, I just, thank you for Feeling confident enough to do that.

R.O. Kwon:

Oh, thank you. And it has brought talking about it in public has brought so much wonderful fellowship, a lot. I've heard from so many people as well that they're in That from cis men and from cis women that they're in relationships with people of who are that they're in heterosexual presenting relationships and that they're bi or pan. Yes, and exactly, and that they feel that they can't talk about it. I've heard this so often. Friends will just tell me this like in the kitchen at a party, very often a friend will just say, by the way I'm queer too. I just don't really talk about it. And then,

Brett Benner:

Interesting.

R.O. Kwon:

and and,

Jason Blitman:

Open up that safe space for the people around you, like it's really cool too.

R.O. Kwon:

oh my gosh. It's an honor to be able to do it. And again, like I live in San Francisco. I live in that. Yeah. Yeah. Oh my

Jason Blitman:

still like people don't always feel safe. And when they're, when there's commonality or common ground or, someone who's just gone through it themselves, it just, really sets a foundation that it's not always there. I, will you do an exhibit? Can we, can there be a pop up of the photos that were taken in the book?

R.O. Kwon:

I haven't talked about this yet, but there was a period when I was trying. Really hard to find a photographer I could work with who could perhaps. make some of the some of the images, the photos that Jin ends up making. And I talked with multiple photographers, I looked for potential candidates. And in the end, what I realized was that I love looking at photos. I love thinking about them. But I am not this is not my art form. I'm not so interdisciplinary that I can have faith in my own eye in what results in the end. And if that's the case, then I can't make the I can't make the photos myself. But yeah. But yeah, I was I thought of that. I thought it would just be so cool to have that, like whether to have them in the book or just, or as a or existing somewhere

Jason Blitman:

Clearly an art appreciator though.

R.O. Kwon:

Yes. And one of the great joys involved in writing this book included I did so much research including, I, I tend to look when I, with my writing I found that I seem to have to learn to some extent with my body. And I took very elementary, but I took ballet classes. I took photo classes. I took a choreography class. So I wanted to, to the extent possible, be able to inhabit my characters bodies and know what their, just know what their hands and feet and legs were up to. And

Jason Blitman:

How was that experience for you?

R.O. Kwon:

It was fascinating. One of the, the choreography workshop was fascinating. They all were, but the choreography workshop, they, I I very quickly had didn't have very much to contribute. And so I just asked is it all right with everybody if I creepily watch y'all and take notes? And they were like, sure. And they, as they would as a teacher would say figure out a sequence of, I don't know, like five, five minute sequence with these parameters. And then they would think about it. But as they thought, and they, as they took notes and started to figure out what they were going to do they were the exact opposite of writers, because I feel as a writers, We would head to a, we would head to a desk to our to one or another of some sort of setup that is bad for our backs and spines and then we would, and then we'd have to walk away, or we might scribble, but that's about it but these choreographers, they they flung themselves on the ground, they like, Not all at once. and they jumped around. They like, they were thinking with their bodies in a way that, that I don't see writers do as much. And I thought there was really something there. I was like, I think we could learn something from this. If nothing else are. are I feel as though everybody I know are our spines are furious. And then there's, Oh,

Brett Benner:

the three different areas where you have I talk about writing, but then you have photography, which is all visual. And then you have dance, which is all physical. It's very interesting how you're encompassing effectively the whole body in motion. That's really cool.

R.O. Kwon:

that's so beautiful. I hadn't I hadn't put that together that way. That's a really good point. I did realize I had not on purpose, but I did realize that I had the two disciplines that the book is most interested in. What's so photography and ballet are both are both very, male disciplines. And that can be surprising when one thinks about ballet, because of course, if you think about ballet, you think about fabulous ballerinas. And the vast majority of choreographers and artistic directors are men. And in photos, of course, that's classically and in a lot of ways, still the majority of Professional photographers are men. And and as a, and as I go into a little, an exhibit as at some point, Jen, the narrator notices that the language around photos is it's so intent. It's coded to be so violent. There's so much seizing and taking and capturing and snap shooting, oh my god,

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Oh wow.

R.O. Kwon:

Aiming like it's they very much borrow from the language of guns. And and yeah, if you go back and look at old ads for for cameras, when when cameras were new there, that sort of that sort of that sort of almost comical leaning on traditional notions of masculinity, which fold and violence are very present in the ads and in how cameras were presented.

Jason Blitman:

Exhibit is like haunting and beautiful, and I'm so excited for our listeners to experience it. For people that might be a little bit afraid of capital L literary fiction, what would you say to them? Huh.

R.O. Kwon:

Ooh, that's a great question. When I try to define what on earth literary fiction is versus other other kinds of fiction. The only definition that seems to make sense to me because it's also amorphous and is that literary affection seems to care at least as much about language as about the other aspects of of what goes into making a book. And for what it's worth I've been pleasantly surprised to hear that exhibit is. very suspenseful, or at least some readers have found it to be very propulsive. And a lot of people have said they tore through it in a night or a sitting. So for anyone who's who's wary of literary fiction I would say I would say there, there's a lot else going on too, in addition to the love of language.

Jason Blitman:

absolutely. I read it in a day and it was a very propulsive read. But you are notorious for writing meticulous sentences. And so as the reader, you digest those in a meaningful way, which as you said, is different perhaps from, more general fiction. And yeah, not being afraid of the language because there's more to it than that. I love that. Thank

R.O. Kwon:

saying that.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. It's been such a joy and a

Brett Benner:

Such a pleasure.

R.O. Kwon:

Oh, this has been such a joy. Thank you so much for having me. This was a delight and I, and thank you for the work you do. It's so meaningful.

Jason Blitman:

R.O., you're a rock star. Thank you for being here with us.

Brett Benner:

eyewear ever.

Jason Blitman:

Best eyewear ever. Go check out R. O. Kwon's new book, Exhibit. And now, last but not least, the lovely, the delightful, the bug savior, Byron Lane, talking to us about Big Gay Wedding.

Brett Benner:

Good morning. Good morning.

Byron Lane:

men. Hello. Hello. How's it

Jason Blitman:

morning.

Brett Benner:

Oh my God.

Byron Lane:

Over there?

Brett Benner:

I also haven't seen you since you've darkened your hair back

Jason Blitman:

your hair is so dark!

Byron Lane:

this is natural color and

Brett Benner:

You mean the other wasn't?

Byron Lane:

I know, I did have people come up to me and be like, wow, but thinking that it was real, but of course it's, it was not. It was from Sagebrush Salon out here in the desert. And all that blonde hair, by the way, was just a hundred bucks, which I couldn't believe. I thought that was a pretty good deal, so if you guys are looking to jazz it up, you can go blonde, you can go blue, you can go purple, they could do anything.

Jason Blitman:

Don't tell

Brett Benner:

blonde ones. I did bleach blonde ones. I, it was, I was shocked by how it throttled my hair in terms of it made it like it seemed to take everything out of it. But,

Jason Blitman:

That shocked you?

Brett Benner:

yeah, I'd never dyed my hair like that before.

Jason Blitman:

If you look at anybody else, it's unless if it's done beautifully, like Byron's was,

Byron Lane:

wow.

Brett Benner:

Was beautiful Jason, but

Byron Lane:

how dare you?

Brett Benner:

to the roots come in and then I was, in P town with my scalp flaking, like I had a bad case of psoriasis or something.

Byron Lane:

It's hard to be gay, guys.

Brett Benner:

It really is. But I do love the hair. It looks really good.

Byron Lane:

Aw, thanks, you guys.

Jason Blitman:

Byron, we're so happy to have you here.

Byron Lane:

I am thrilled to be here. I love you two. I love you. I love your podcast, I love everything you do. I think you're brilliant. Even your voices sound good. It's all happening for you

Jason Blitman:

We're here because your book Big Gay Wedding comes out in paperback, can you give us the one liner of what Big Gay Wedding is?

Byron Lane:

Big gay

Jason Blitman:

have to be one line, it could be however many lines you want.

Byron Lane:

Thank you. You could always cut it to just one line.

Jason Blitman:

I'll pick my favorite line.

Byron Lane:

okay. All right big gay wedding is two grooms one mother of a problem And it's about a mom in a small town in louisiana who is expecting her son to come home and take care of her over the family farm, but instead he announces that he's engaged to his longtime boyfriend and he wants to get Married on the farm and this is a conservative town. That's not used to that kind of thing so there are the usual antics and crazy relatives and wild townsfolk and some surprises, too so it's heart and humor and all the good stuff.

Brett Benner:

So to have the paperback come out, you've had some time, you've had some time to go around with this book. And I would think just based on what the book is and what its message is and what it's speaking to you, you've had, you must've had so many incredible people come up to you and tell you their own stories. What was that like?

Byron Lane:

Well, there's always the fear that when the book comes out, people will hate it. And that, that didn't happen. And then I also worried cause it's got two grooms holding hands on the cover. With that, this age of book banning and all this craziness, but none of that, it never escalated to any of that. And the most rewarding thing was really yeah, meeting people at book festivals and whatnot, or getting messages on Instagram from straight people usually, who were like I, my wife told me to get out of the room because I was laughing so hard. And, things like that, that were just really really meaningful that it connected it connected with people. When I first thought of Big Gay Wedding, I had this image of Sex in the City 2, was it? Where they open with the big gay wedding and Liza Minnelli was the officiant or something crazy. It

Jason Blitman:

choir, huh.

Byron Lane:

and that just didn't feel authentic to me, but I'm from Louisiana, I'm from the South. And so I could relate to a farm. I could relate to a town where being gay was not welcome. And I thought why don't we put the wedding there? And that's what we did. And I've tried to pluck from real life when I, where I could, and I hope that the story comes across as meaningful and feels realistic and textured and fun layers and all the good stuff. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

from straight people, because while the book is like charming and I found it lovely, there was this element to me of like, I want to give this to straight people, because it feels very straight people accessible. Awesome.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Is that a weird thing to say?

Byron Lane:

I use that quote on

Jason Blitman:

Of course,

Byron Lane:

late. This is,

Jason Blitman:

Jason Blitman, gaze readings.

Byron Lane:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

I also want to talk about. A Star is Bored, because it came out in 2020. It like, isn't getting the, I mean it's gotten plenty of attention, but I wish, I want everyone to know about it, because for me, that is the book for the gays.

Byron Lane:

Yes. Thank you. Thank you. That was a book for the gays and a little bit. That was the book for me.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. you're

Byron Lane:

I, I'm gay. Yeah. Yeah. I'm included. I, I worked for Carrie Fisher for a bunch of years as her assistant. And so this book, A Star is Born was inspired by that experience. And I met Carrie when I was really down on life and here she was this, beautiful, hilarious, colorful character who really just, It did feel like going from Kansas to Oz, entering her world, not to mention just like I'm in a world of celebrities. I'm in a world of wealth, flying first class all over the place. it really was a big change for me. And, and she was lovely and wonderful and, would call me her stepson when we were checking into the hotels. And maybe that was because

Jason Blitman:

was that was the nice thing. She'd call you.

Byron Lane:

Yeah, there were plenty of nicknames. Yeah. all of it was loving but still, you get it so yeah, it was a really meaningful story. I'm glad you i'm glad you connected

Jason Blitman:

You are one of the most optimistic and kindest humans that I've ever encountered, and like it's been so consistent enough that it doesn't ever feel put on. Maybe when I first met you, I was like, is this put on? But it's been long enough that I'm like, no, this is just who this person is. Where does that come from?

Byron Lane:

That's interesting. I don't know, I have my dark moments, but they're usually, I usually just go really inside. So it's usually like crying in the bathtub kind of thing. But for the most part I think it is therapy, and and then I did find this self help lady who Steve says is a cult leader, but I've never given her any money. And by the way, the fact that she could be a cult leader just makes me love her more.

Jason Blitman:

Right.

Brett Benner:

Right there. That's the epitome of your relationship. That's the

Byron Lane:

thank you, her whole thing is really just is it true about anything? My mom should love me more. Is that true? This book should be more successful. Is that really true? Can I really know that is. the truth. And then another thing she'll ask is, who would I be without that thought? So I'm sitting here chatting with you guys and there's a world where I could hold on to this thought of Oh, I'm not successful enough. Or, Oh, I don't look cute enough to be talking to you guys or whatever. Or my voice is weird. And then who would I be without those thoughts? Are those thoughts really helpful? And without those thoughts, I'm just here chatting with a couple of really great guys and having some smiles and having a great morning. So it's a little bit of that. It's a little bit of that. Is that crazy? Do I sound like a lunatic?

Brett Benner:

No, we may have to link her or at least I'll have to get her number.

Byron Lane:

Right on. Right

Jason Blitman:

I Does she have a book?

Byron Lane:

Yeah, she has a bunch of her name is actually Byron Katie. So it's the same as mine, Byron. And

Jason Blitman:

Is this just your Alter ego?

Brett Benner:

Exactly.

Byron Lane:

It should be my drag identity. Byron Katie, ladies and gentlemen, Byron Katie. But no, she's a real person. She was popular in the eighties and somehow she fell onto my radar. I think it was my friend, Iva Turner. And and that's that.

Brett Benner:

It also sounds like the start of a third book.

Byron Lane:

Let me tell you something, it would be a great book. I've I definitely kick around the idea.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

could be

Brett Benner:

that,

Jason Blitman:

Iva Idea for you.

Byron Lane:

You should charge for this. You should charge for this. You are a brain

Brett Benner:

the key of puns.

Byron Lane:

A one man brain trust.

Jason Blitman:

A Star is Bored is tremendously queer. Big Gay Wedding, obviously in the title, tremendously queer. What does being a queer writer mean to you? And why is it important right now?

Byron Lane:

It just means to me being honest. I'm a gay man in the world. Here I am. Here are the things I'm dealing with. I like to read books and watch film and art that makes me feel like some of my experiences are validated and present in the world and that that we live in a diverse world and a world that can be inclusive. And so I try to keep these characters. real and their interests and their heartbreaks and their hopes all real. And occasionally I'll have people come up to me and there's this one young gay guy who really love to star his board and I think about him whenever I'm writing anything now and I think, all right what is he going to say when he reads this? And he felt very seen by my work and related and that really, just that one person made, makes me feel like this is all worth it,

Jason Blitman:

yeah, there's, in the musical title of show, there's a song called, I'd Rather Be Nine People's Favorite Thing Than A Hundred People's Ninth Favorite Thing.

Byron Lane:

that's really beautiful.

Jason Blitman:

And there's something to be said about if a couple people are engaged in the work that we're doing, it's incredible and exciting.

Byron Lane:

And I don't even need nine. Just one is fine with, and and the, these are, and these are characters who are not I don't know the right way to say this, but I hope that they're relatable. Big Gay Wedding is about a gay man who's just trying to connect with his mom. Desperately just wanting her to just put her bigotry aside for a second and see him as a man who can love and who has a partner. And A Star is Bored is not as much a coming out story, but a trying to connect with life story. And and here's this Celebrity who shines her light on him and gives him a reason to be alive. They're really not simple problems, but real. Real problems. And we're complicated as gay people. It's not just parties and,

Jason Blitman:

I think that sort of articulates why I even felt like stars board was for the gay community, whereas big gay wedding is for a straight community. And those statements are not true, right? It's generalizations. But I think to your point, like a stars board is the story of a gay man figuring it out. Whereas, Big Gay Wedding is, the gay men are figuring it out, but it's also deeply about the relationships around them.

Byron Lane:

Yeah. And in Big Gay Wedding, it's really a mom coming out as loving and accepting her gay son. You're right about that.

Jason Blitman:

And so relatable and important in, in that way. And I think, it's so funny, there are people who say Oh, I really need so and so to read this book, to fully understand. And I think Big Gay Wedding can do that. Yeah,

Byron Lane:

there's a part of Big Gay Wedding where one of the groom's moms uh, she's this Sassy New Yorker, and she likes to drink, and that gets complicated for her down there. And she goes out to confront some homophobes at a certain point, and she has this little speech she gives, and it's the kind of thing that I wish, as a teenager, I would have been able to hold in my hands and read about the hypocrisy of it about the reality of like the meme going around every time a Republican gets indicted for abusing a child. They're like not gay, not a drag queen, like the realities of much of the world's suffering is at the hands of straight white men, and here gay people are villainized and the hypocrisy about the history of marriage. It used to, marriage was crazy back in the day and oppressive and there's still so I just, some of that stuff is written for, you know what, if this finds its way to someone who needs to hear this, I hope it's helpful.

Jason Blitman:

I love

Brett Benner:

Which is great.

Jason Blitman:

What's bringing you joy these days?

Byron Lane:

Guys, I don't know how to answer that besides the very real truth that jury duty is over.

Brett Benner:

Yay.

Byron Lane:

just on jury duty. It was so hard. It was so many days. When we first started, I was like, Oh, it was yesterday, Monday. And you guys were like, yesterday was third day. So I like, where's the time gone. But Suddenly I feel and then I also I had a pinched nerve and that's finally over and I can move my and that was crazy and when Steve has a pinched nerve I'm like oh please that's not real and now I'm like oh baby I'm sorry now I get it now

Brett Benner:

you go to, no, do you go to see somebody for that? Or is it just like, where I just take some painkillers and just, it eases it out.

Byron Lane:

oh listen to you how fancy I I had some painkillers they're not strong enough but the person I see is tick tock I would give pinched nerve shoulder. And I finally found this guy who gave, and I would try him and I put the phone down and try the exercise and finally I found one that worked where you just cross your arm over, over your shoulder and pull it. And that, that seemed to offer relief for the first time.

Jason Blitman:

Did you ever do acupuncture?

Byron Lane:

I've done acupuncture, but it doesn't seem to I don't think it works for

Jason Blitman:

Okay. That's

Brett Benner:

either.

Byron Lane:

It doesn't work for me. The first time, it hurt. Oh, that's an actual needle. Okay, got it.

Jason Blitman:

Oh

Byron Lane:

And then, I don't know. I tried another time out here, and The person was a little chatty and sometimes that's hard for me. I just want to veg out.

Jason Blitman:

Byron, I want you to be here all day. Just hang out with us.

Byron Lane:

I love you guys. I really, and you're changing the world. I know this podcast is, work, but it really is meaningful to people and important. And

Jason Blitman:

And you being on jury duty is changing the world too.

Byron Lane:

I'm going to be honest with you. Yes.

Brett Benner:

Even if

Jason Blitman:

No, I know. I'm not being facetious. Like you, that is, you're doing your civic duty. This is really important. Being level headed and talking to your fellow jurors is important.

Brett Benner:

and giving them vocabulary words.

Byron Lane:

I couldn't believe the guy said that, because I do not think I have a very big vocabulary, but I appreciated it.

Jason Blitman:

it. And that can also go on your book cover.

Brett Benner:

Exactly.

Byron Lane:

That's right. You seem like you have a great vocabulary. Juror number 10.

Brett Benner:

No, not You seem, has a great vocabulary.

Byron Lane:

I'm not sure he was that confident about it. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

God. Name redacted, juror number four.

Brett Benner:

No big words.

Byron Lane:

that's right. That's

Jason Blitman:

Wait, what juror number were you?

Byron Lane:

I was three.

Brett Benner:

Oh wow.

Byron Lane:

The trinity, it's like the sacred number. It really was I felt good about it.

Jason Blitman:

I talk about your optimism and your kindness, and Brett, when, let's see whether or not this makes it into the episode, but some behind the scenes, is that we needed to reschedule this conversation because Byron had jury duty. And when he originally reached out, he was like, can we reschedule? If we can't reschedule I'll go to jail for you guys, it's fine. And I read that note with such sincerity because I like, I knew you quote unquote meant it. I don't think you'd actually go to jail if you had to bail on jury duty, but you're just like the salt of the earth, Byron Lane.

Byron Lane:

Hey, I was ready for prison and I think I would thrive in prison.

Jason Blitman:

Can we talk about that? Why do you think you thrive?

Byron Lane:

I think I have I think I can help, I think I can help a lot of people. Are you thinking because maybe I'd be cute?

Jason Blitman:

you totally would be cute

Byron Lane:

first of I'd be

Jason Blitman:

laughing because you're

Brett Benner:

You would be

Jason Blitman:

you're a smirk that you gave us. You know, You'd be cute in prison.

Byron Lane:

know I'd be cute in prison. But beyond that, I think I could offer some wisdom and life experience, maybe they'd like to hear stories about Carrie Fisher. Or, I used to be a television journalist. I could talk about that and following

Jason Blitman:

You have a lot of therapy you could

Byron Lane:

All this Byron Katie stuff, therapy, I could talk about self help. It really could be, I'd change some lives. There's some lives in there.

Brett Benner:

You heard it here

Byron Lane:

spaces. I could live in a tiny house. I don't have to worry about clothes. You know what I mean? I'm not a fan of baloney, but I could learn to Adapt,

Jason Blitman:

that might be the deal breaker. the baloney

Byron Lane:

Yeah, bologna.

Jason Blitman:

Oh man. Okay.

Brett Benner:

have our Oz

Jason Blitman:

We get it. Maybe there's like a program that you could start.

Byron Lane:

I thought about it. I really have there's a podcast It's not as good as yours, but it's called ear hustle and it's about an inmates produce it and we're former inmates and They talk about the cliques and the cults and all that stuff and I thought you know And even this in this trial I was just on it's like I did have empathy for the defendant and and I did have a million questions about how he feels like he ended up in this situation and in what ways did honestly society fail him in terms of education and experience and all that stuff and I would love to know his answers and I wonder if other people would too. So I've thought about it.

Jason Blitman:

It's interesting to circle it back to your books. Cause that's why we're here. The. Learning other people's stories makes us more empathetic people, and as gay men, it's important for us that queer books are out in the world because that means people are consuming them. And the truth, the same could be said for incarcerated people. And it was reading The Many Lives of Mama Love and hearing her story that really changed my perspective on things about prison, about recidivism about kids in the foster system. It just, because I was able to experience it in a different way through literature it was really important. So I think the fact that you've even thought about telling these people's stories is fantastic. And I do think That we need them. We need to hear these stories.

Byron Lane:

I get so frustrated when I hear people when people hear about a crime and they go, oh, that guy is sick. And I'm like yeah, he's sick. Where is his help? Where is his help? Do you think that this help is in jail? It's not. What do, and I don't have an answer and I don't know how to fix it but

Brett Benner:

thing.

Byron Lane:

yeah. Oh my god, we're amazing.

Jason Blitman:

but what you can do is tell people stories and share and, yeah. Are you working on anything? Can you talk about anything?

Byron Lane:

I can't talk about it. It's all, it's very top secret and very important. It's very important that, I'm just kidding. No, I don't, I'm just writing proposals and waiting to see which one sticks. But

Jason Blitman:

great. Those are, that's good too. That's exciting.

Byron Lane:

and we're yeah, lots going on in the Lane Rowley household. We're keeping it all going.

Brett Benner:

Balls moving,

Byron Lane:

Oh, balls everywhere. It is too much.

Brett Benner:

especially when the captains are on, but don't bump.

Jason Blitman:

all of your body parts and nerves and things. Don't pinch anything.

Byron Lane:

Oh, yeah. No. I'm it's a whole new me. It's no. No, I can't lift anything I just need to relax. I'm gonna call

Brett Benner:

do this. You point and hold your clipboard. That's all

Byron Lane:

That's right. That's right.

Brett Benner:

fix your

Byron Lane:

you understand.

Brett Benner:

head. Yes, exactly. Maybe get some nice goggles just to avoid any kind of debris. Yes. Yes. This was delightful. You are such a delightful human.

Byron Lane:

Thanks for letting me get the word out about this thing

Jason Blitman:

Of course, everyone needs to be reading it.

Byron Lane:

Yay Thanks guys

Jason Blitman:

We adore you.

Byron Lane:

I adore you! I need to go to Coffee, K O F F I. I get my coffee grounds from Coffee, K O F F I. So yeah,

Brett Benner:

Had their cinnamon rolls?

Byron Lane:

yes, but I, let me tell you, they're just, it's just diabetes and I only want the one with the most icing. I can't stop. I'm full.

Brett Benner:

get them without icing.

Byron Lane:

Why?

Brett Benner:

I know, but here's what I found out, and my business partner told me this, because she, when she comes out, she orders ahead and gets like five, and you cut them and freeze them. They freeze so well.

Jason Blitman:

But when you live not far from it, why would you do that?

Byron Lane:

You need to know about

Brett Benner:

takes it

Jason Blitman:

I know, but Byron doesn't need to do that. Yeah,

Brett Benner:

no, I'm just saying, but yeah, whatever. I know. I'm just saying they freeze well.

Byron Lane:

I won't stop. I will eat them from the freezer

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Byron Lane:

like an ice cube. I will eat it and wake up in the middle of the night. I'll be like, I cannot allow that cinnamon roll to be sitting there cold and lonely.

Jason Blitman:

You want to warm it up in your mouth?

Byron Lane:

That's right..

Brett Benner:

I'm obsessed with them. I'm obsessed with them. And coffee has really good brioche cinnamon rolls. I'm not coffee. Uh, cheeky's

Byron Lane:

Oh, I haven't been there. Can you believe that?

Brett Benner:

You've never been at cheeky's

Jason Blitman:

Oh, their food is quite good. Thanks for sticking around. We're like just shooting the shit, but go do your life and get

Brett Benner:

Have an amazing day.

Byron Lane:

You too. I love you guys. Appreciate you.

Jason Blitman:

Everyone, go check out both A Star is Bored and Big Gay Wedding by Byron Lane. Carvel, Aro, Byron, thank you for being here.

Brett Benner:

Thank you, guys. We so appreciate you. Everyone go out and buy their books. Use our links, bookshop.

Jason Blitman:

buy their books. And we'll see you later this week because we got two episodes every single freaking week because it's Pride and because we're gays reading. Bye!

Brett Benner:

laughing. Bye.