Actor, activist and Traci’s very dear college friend Brandon Kyle Goodman joins The Stacks to talk about their new book You Gotta Be You: How to Embrace This Messy Life and Step Into Who You Really Are. Together, we ponder its central question: “Who would I be if society never got its hands on me?” We also discuss manipulative friendships, chosen family, pronouns and Brandon’s experiences coming into their non-binary identity.
The Stacks Book Club selection for October is Fairest by Meredith Talusan. We will discuss the book on October 26th with Anthony Christian Ocampo.
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Traci Thomas 0:09
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today we are welcoming Brandon Kyle Goodman to the show. Brandon is a New York born actor and a writer on the television program Big Mouth, and a social justice activist. And an author of a brand new book called You Gotta Be You: How to Embrace This Messy Life and Step into Who You Really Are. The book is part memoir, part how-to and it’s a compassionate and hilarious book all about unlearning the toxic traits we grew up with and now take for granted. You know, the ones that hold us back from our true potential, queer, black and non binary from an immigrant household Brandon shares a hopeful and galvanizing message that you’ll hear all about on today’s episode. I also have to say full disclosure, Brandon is one of my dearest friends. We’ve known each other since we were 19 years old at NYU. And I honestly could not be more excited to celebrate their work, the fact that they have a book, and just our friendship on this week’s episode. Remember our October book club pick is the memoir Fairest by Meredith Talusan, make sure to listen on October 26, when Anthony Christian Ocampo returns for the discussion. And don’t forget, everything we talked about on each episode of The Stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. If you love the show, and want more of it head to patreon.com/the stacks to join the stacks pack. That’s our wonderful bookish community. And since the sacks is an indie podcast, it means I rely on listeners like you to make the show possible week in and week out. In addition to knowing that you’re supporting your favorite book podcast, you also get to earn perks like our monthly virtual book club bonus episode this month is with Kiese Laymon and it’s such a good time and access to our Discord plus more. If you’d like to be a part of this wonderful bookish community head to patreon.com/the stacks. Thank you to some of our newest members at the stacks pack. Sara Ruiz Grossman, Mary Ann Watson, Patrick prudent Teresa janeiro de Shafilea and Cynthia wassalam ik thank you all so much. And thank you to the entire stacks pack. And now it’s time for my conversation with my dear dear friend Brandon Kyle Goodman.
Alright, everybody, I am so excited today. I know I say that every week. But this time I like really, really mean it because my guest today is one of my dear old darling not old, like old but old, like long friends. Brandon Kyle Goodman. Brandon, welcome to The Stacks.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 2:46
I’m so happy to be here. This is a dream come true. Traci, I remember when you were thinking about starting The Stacks, because I think I was still living with you. You were like, I think I want to start this podcast called The Stacks. And now it’s The fucking Stacks.
Traci Thomas 3:04
I know. I know, the show is like five years old, almost five years old, which is crazy. It’s I just can’t believe that you’re on the show. Because you’ve written a book. Like I’ve had other friends on the show, just like because I didn’t know anybody in the book world. But now you’re on the show. Because you’ve actually written a real book that you had published by like a big five publisher. It’s called you gotta be you. And it’s in the world now. And can you just tell the people in about 30 seconds or so what the book is about?
Brandon Kyle Goodman 3:37
Yeah, I say that the book is part memoir, part self help and an exploration of the question, Who would I be if society never got its hands on me? And the idea that self love is the most important thing. But how do we do that? And so I wanted this book to be using my stories as a blueprint to loving oneself and loving the intersections of one’s identity.
Traci Thomas 3:58
I love the mix of self help and memoir. I think it’s done really well. I’ve told you this before. It’s not self help. Like, you need to do this to like, have a good life or like you need to do this to be yourself. It’s more like, Hey, this is what happened to me. Here’s a few things I noticed. Like yeah, take it if you want it. And so I always am like, it’s not self help self help, because I think that freaks people out and they think they’re getting like how to be a badass or whatever those.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 4:26
Yes, yeah, it’s not like you know, I’m not like Brene Brown or somebody with like, a degree or something to me. I want it to feel like it’s you’re having brunch with your friend and you know, when you go to brunch, y’all start talking about Dick and pussy in your lap and then all of a sudden you’re talking about your childhood traumas and and it’s just like, what the those really beautiful three hour brunches that you go to. That’s what I wanted the book to feel like.
Traci Thomas 4:49
I feel like I haven’t been to brunch with you in awhile. It’s been a minute.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 4:59
We’re overdue for a date.
Traci Thomas 5:02
Though I don’t know if I have three hours to sit. I’m not I’m not into sitting in at a restaurant for a long time. Personally, I don’t like it. I’d rather like a walk or something. Yeah, I don’t know.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 5:13
I love sitting there. I love the drinks continued to be poured. I remember that. That brunch we went to at the Hudson. I still think about it was like you me Shane, Ismael.
Traci Thomas 5:24
Yes, yes, yes, yes. And a whole bunch of that was one of my favorite brunch. That was, that was a long time ago, that place has closed a long time. Since it does not exist.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 5:37
That was a long brunch.
Traci Thomas 5:39
Wait, first of all, I have to say something on record. I’m so excited. We haven’t talked about this. But people who are listening to the show know that I have a personal life bucket list with three things on it. One is to meet a sitting president of the United States. Two, two is to officiate someone’s wedding. And three was to be thanked in the acknowledgments of someone’s book. I have checked off one of my major life bucket list.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 6:10
You’re fully in that acknowledgement. Yes, yes. I could not I could not not include you is really, it was really emotional. Like, you know, thinking about my acknowledgments and thinking about specifically the chosen family section of that acknowledgments and thinking about the people that really have been there. For me. It’s such an incredible, incredible way. And you are at the top of that list of people who have really held me held my heart held my life, so sacredly, and so I’m, you know, just so grateful.
Traci Thomas 6:42
Don’t make me cry on my own pod. Rude. I do want to talk about chosen family. I wasn’t planning on starting here, but let’s talk about it. I’d love for you to explain to people what you mean by chosen family and sort of explain why it’s so important to you and in your story.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 6:56
Yeah, you know, chosen family is such a term that you really, really hear in queer communities. And I think it really stemmed from the fact that a lot of queer people have experienced, being, you know, kicked out of their own homes, with their blood family. And so then you find yourself, you know, a lot of black and brown kids and queer kids find themselves on the street. I mean, the homeless, homeless youth population of queer kids in LA is outrageous. And then you find people who are not your blood, but who take you in who become your your, you know, kind of ball culture in your house mother, house fathers, where you find your siblings, and you just find these people who you’re not related to, but are also usually queer, and just like, Hold you like family and take care of you. And so chosen family, you know, family is important. But sometimes your blood family can’t do what family is expected to do. And so that’s where chosen family stepson
Traci Thomas 7:51
Yeah, I love chosen family, and I’m honored to be part of yours. Yes, in the book, you start with an intention. And I know that this is something that’s always been part of who you are. But I’m curious why it was important for you to share the intention with your audience, instead of just having it and let it guide it guide you as the author.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 8:13
You know, I’m I have this thing, what I write sometimes even like, when I start a show, when I’m writing a play, or one of my stage shows or whatever, where I always start with the intention of always, when I’m scared of something like when it when I’m doing something really big, my go to is to say it, my go to is to put it out there even like if I’m live on stage, and I’m scared my go to it’s like, Hey, I’m out here and I’m terrified, but we’re gonna do this. And so that was part of the book was like, I was really scared about writing this thing. And something about sharing my intention made me feel at ease and felt like I could really take off the pressure of what the expectations of the book are going to be. Because, you know, I’m you know, I’m when you say you’re writing a memoir, and I’ve said this, too, it’s like, what life have I lived? Like, I’m not, I’m not Michelle Obama writing a memoir. So to like, say, Oh, this is a memoir. I didn’t want people to come in it with like, Oh, that’s it. Like, Well, what was that? Right? So I really wanted to set up the stage for for whoever’s reading, whether they know me, or they don’t. So that was why I wanted to put that intention in there.
Traci Thomas 9:19
I do want to talk about audience specifically, because I know that was really important for you. Yeah, who were you writing for? And how did you make sure that they were like top of mind to you as you were writing the book, you know, like that you were staying true to them? Yeah.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 9:31
You know, I always said I was writing for two audiences. So I was writing the book for black folks, queer folks, and especially black queer folks, or queer POC folks. I wanted, you know, there’s just not a lot of books with a black queer story at the center of it, especially a black queer story that’s not in trauma, you know, that that like where there is allowed to be the nuance of joy and humor in the midst of you know, the human shit. So I really wanted that book. I really wanted a black queer person a queer POC person to pull a book off the shelf and be like, oh, like, this is me. Like, this is my story. I also wanted to write it for non black folks and non queer folks, and white folks, because I do believe that, um, Curiosity is what builds empathy. And so learning about other people’s experiences, candidly, is what allows us to build empathy and show up better, and show up stronger. And so in this, you know, especially in these last few years of talking about Black Lives Matter, and black trans life matters, and all these, you know, allies and queer lives and all that stuff. It’s like, I wanted to create something where people who weren’t, who didn’t identify, like me as black or queer, could understand my experience and see my humanity and be able to show up for their friends who are black or of color or queer in their own lives.
Traci Thomas 10:47
When you sort of early in the book, you talk about like, not knowing how to not be black and not be gay, and like, and like, but more specifically, you use the slurs, you use the F word and the N word. Yeah. I can say the N word. I can’t say the F word. I’m just gonna say the word for both of us. I know that I’m rarely say. Anyways, but you talked about, like, you know, and the one of the guiding parts of the book, what questions at the book is like, who would I be a society never got his hands on me. I’m wondering how you balance how you see yourself and how the world sees you. Because I think like, yes, of course, we want to live our full selves. But part of living our full selves is also knowing how we’re receiving how we receive the world. Like, we can’t live in these silos of like, I’m just going to do whatever I want. Because that’s what’s in my heart. I know, you know that. So I’m wondering how you balance how you see yourself how the world sees you. And like, which one, cuz sometimes one’s gotta win. And sometimes the other is got away? Sure. How does that work for you?
Brandon Kyle Goodman 11:51
I think I talked about that a little bit in the chapter. They you know, it was a request of my editor to really talk about my pronouns. And I was a little hesitant about it, I was like, Oh, my pronouns. And it was also like, when I was writing it, I was also newly stepping into my pronouns, which are he and they, and so I was newly stepping into that they pronouns. But I’m glad I wrote that chapter, because that chapter really does talk about holding the duality. And the duality is like, for me, I know that I’m a black, non binary, queer person. But you can’t see my non binary pneus, right, like I present as a man, I present masculine until I talk, and then you’re like, Oh, all right, there she goes, you know. I’ve resent as like a black man. And so that’s the experience that I’m also having. So I’m having an experience based on how people are perceiving me. And I’m also having this internal experience. And so the reason for me personally, and everyone’s going to be different about how they describe, especially when we’re talking about non binary, how they describe their relationship to it. But for me, the reason I use both pronouns is because I wanted to allow myself permission to hold space for both to hold space for how I see myself, and how I want my friends and my family to see me but also to hold space for how I’m seeing and what I represent both, you know, both the the scary sides of it, you know, like the scary sides of being black as a threat, and being perceived as a threat, but also like, the, the beautiful side of it, you know, talk about how as you know, black gay men, you are so often emasculated. And so there’s such work in reclaiming being a man. And so for any black gay man who sees themselves in me, I don’t ever want to like shit on that, like, that’s beautiful. And yes, we are, there’s a shared experience. So I want to hold space for that, because I am having a black, gay man experience, there’s no denying that. But I’m also having this internal experience where I’m like, I’m neither man or woman, I’m this, you know, just Brandon. And so holding space for both. I don’t know, if any, I don’t know if either one wins out. Or if I want either one to win out. I think for me, my work at this moment in my life is just holding space for both allowing both to kind of exist.
Traci Thomas 14:05
I’m going to ask you a question that I asked you, when you started using the pronouns, because I felt really insecure in it. But I think that I’m not alone. You sent a message to like all of your friends, I assume. I don’t know if it was like, um, I don’t know what it was. But you sent me a message.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 14:21
It was so close. Like, like, yeah, most of you. Yeah.
Traci Thomas 14:25
And it was like, Hey, I’m now using he they pronouns. And I was like, This is great. Excited. Thank you for letting me know. And then I was like, Can I ask you a question? And I’m sorry if I’m being an asshole, but how do I know which one to use? And when and I’d love for you to explain that to people because I know other people are thinking it and maybe feel nervous about fucking up. And so I’d love for you to explain how at least for you in your experience, cuz I know everyone who uses pronouns differently, has different feelings about how their pronouns work, but because you are so open with me, I’d love for you. To share with my listeners
Brandon Kyle Goodman 15:01
1,000%. And yes, I think that’s the thing to say is that everybody is going to have a different relationship to their pronouns. And so especially if it’s a close friend of yours, you can always ask like you did, which I really appreciate. It’s like, I just want more clarification. And by the way, when you ask that question, I know it’s scary to ask because you’re like, don’t want to fuck it up. But actually, as the person on the receiving end, I see it as like this bridge of love. Because it tells me that you care, and you are want to be intentional about it. And so asking those questions, actually, it’s a beautiful thing. For me, I say that he pronouns are for everyone else, and they pronouns are for me, and for my close friends. And so you right now in this life, because this point in my life, because I use both, I’m always like, you can’t figure it out. And the reason I do that is because and I say this in the book, I am black, I’m gay, and those things cause much more Strife for me than my gender identity, like I have a lot of privilege and this male body. So calling me he doesn’t stress me out as much as you know, some of the racial and sexual orientation things. So I’m not as concerned. But I wanted to share with my friend just because I wanted them to know that this is what I’m calling myself. And this is where I’m at in my life. And because you love me, and you know, me, so So personally, I’d like you to also do that. But also know, if you say, Hey, you’re still correct. And I also did that, because I, I wanted to take that pressure off my friends, I know, you probably still feel it, but I was like, I don’t want this shouldn’t be stressful. Like, for me, it’s not and I don’t want it to be stressful for you either. Like, we’re we’re all learning this together. But that’s where I’m at with it. Somebody else might really, really feel adamantly about like, it’s it’s this and use it at this time. And this and they’ll say that, but for me, I I’m still getting used to it. So I wanted to give my friends and family that flexibility as well.
Traci Thomas 16:59
I feel I feel free in my usage of pronouns. No, sometimes, sometimes I’ll text you and be like, do you want to be uncle? How do we do this? But you said uncles, yeah, uncles.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 17:12
Great. Yeah. I mean, you know, and we talked, Matthew and I are talking about that, too, because we’re thinking about kids, and like, am I going to be dad? Am I going to be, you know, some other name? And I’m not sure. You know, part of that is also and I say this in the book as well, you know, I didn’t have my father growing up. And I say that the use of the he pronouns, I think was also reclaiming what it is to be a man because it didn’t have that example. And I had always wanted to be a better father. I mean, be a father, because my father just wasn’t there. And so there is there is some healing in that as well, where I’m like, there is something about being called dad and having daddy, that means something to me. So I don’t know where I’ll land. But that, to me is the beautiful thing about life. Like you get to evolve and change and feelings get to shift and-
Traci Thomas 17:57
And if you have kids, they’ll decide they’ll decide real fast. As soon as I started talking about like, my nephew, calls my or my, my cousin kid calls my cousin dad do because he couldn’t say daddy, and then daddy just became the thing and his dad, who I love. And like they had never started with that. But he’s doing now we all call him dad do like it’s just that’s just how it is. Yeah. And like same with other people. Like they just come up with nicknames. And then it sticks. And you were like, I’m gonna be father and then they’re calling me like, Poppy. Yeah. Yes, I’m Poppy now.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 18:32
Absolutely. Because it’s because it’s like, you know, it’s it to me. It’s, it’s also the intention behind it. Like I’m not stressed about like it having to be dad. It’s like, yeah, what’s the thing that makes us all feel loved in this household? That’s the thing I want to be called.
Traci Thomas 18:45
Well, naming is so important and powerful. It’s why I feel like so many I love like giving out nicknames, or like having things that I call my friends because it’s like, oh, this is a special bond between us, you know, exactly. And like, and I feel like I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this, because I haven’t really talked to you on the show. But like, you used to go by b and everyone called up and when I met you, I was like, No, I’m calling you brand. And I was like the only person at NYU that called you Brandon.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 19:14
Everyone called me B or B Goodman. And you were like-
Traci Thomas 19:17
Brandon. Brandon. And then when you came to LA and I think maybe because of flywheel or whatever you started going by Brandon on like the websites you started your brand and more. And now everyone calls you Brandon and I call you b Yeah, and I don’t know when that shift happened. But like there’s something for me that’s like the naming of a person in your life or like what you call someone or how you refer to someone is like really powerful and is really like It’s like connected-
Brandon Kyle Goodman 19:48
and it’s very special to me when like people that I that dude do call me because I know what part of my life they’re from, you know, like that. Like those are from like my college like post like, you know, or Willie 20s And, and so there’s a very specific group that refer to me as B. And it’s so, so special to me to have that. And then everybody else calls me, Brandon. And there’s a BKG tribe as well.
Traci Thomas 20:10
So yeah, but I mean, also I used to, we used to always like laugh because your name is like, if you’ve never seen Brandon, and you just see his name on, on like social media. It’s like this, this young Jewish boy brand empire.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 20:24
My mom was like, you’re gonna work, you’re gonna get a job.
Traci Thomas 20:28
No matter what we want you to get in the room. We’re gonna get you in the room, whatever you do, whether you’re an actor or a finance, yeah. Brandon Powell Goodman. Once you’re in, you’re on your own.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 20:41
But we’re gonna get you in that room, period.
Traci Thomas 20:44
We’re gonna take a quick break. And we’ll be right back. Okay, we’re back. Speaking of your mom. And there’s a great section in the book where you talk about how your mom prepared you for blackness. And I want to know, what do you think about that preparation? Now, given all that, you know? Yeah. And at speaking of future, children, would you do it differently for your future? Children? Should they be black?
Brandon Kyle Goodman 21:10
Yes. Yes, I would do it slightly different.
Traci Thomas 21:14
I guess you should say how she how she did it. Yeah, sorry. I just, I read the book, people!
Brandon Kyle Goodman 21:20
I mean, my mother’s whole thing was, you know, she would, she was very concerned about, you know, how I was dressed and making sure that I was always cleaned. And everything was like, you know, what, you want your kids to be clean, you know, I’m saying like, everything was in its place, like very proper, I had to always enunciate, so like, you know, I’m from New York. So we would be like, Oh, we go into my head, and you know, what’s in my head. And she’d be like, Man, hat 10. Like, very, very hot chin. You’d also like my, my family, I should say, as Caribbean I’m first generation American. So that’s also I know, from other Caribbean, friends of mine, who are first generation, like, that was a big thing that our Caribbean parents really drilled in, you know, over enunciating, and getting our language, you know, super proper. And then also, you know, just like, you know, when people say stop, you stop. So like, if you’re at a play date, your kids, your, your wrestling, whatever, if you hear stop, you immediately stop, keep your hands out of your pocket, when you go into a store, like just like really like rules, rules, rules, rules, which as a kid, you’re not taking in why this is important. For me, it was just kind of like, okay, cool, cool, cool. And I followed what my mom said. And then I understood, as I say, in the book, you know, that first time I got followed in a store, it was like, all of that training came right up. So I was being followed in a store by security guard. And I, when I realized I was being followed, it was like, all of that training came up, I went up to the security guard, I smiled, I over enunciate it, I asked for the school supplies, you know, like really went into to that mode so that I could make sure that I stayed safe in the scenario of that situation. And so when I think about my kids, and I think a black about black kids, it’s like, yeah, I think you do have to prepare them, like, you know, and we talked about, you know, I’ve read so many articles about you to black kids who are raised by white parents, and like that moment of reckoning, where it’s like, Oh, I haven’t prepared my black child for what their existence is when they’re not in my vicinity, when my vicinity when they’re not in my reach. And so yeah, you you have to you just like, if your black kid is driving, you have to talk to them about what happens if they get pulled over by the cops. Like, we hope it doesn’t happen. But like, all these things are important. I think what I would do a little differently, it’s probably just be very transparent about how unfair it is, you know, like to like really, in talking to my kids about these things, like, acknowledge that there’s a difference, and acknowledge that it’s unfair, and really talk about the spaces of like, What’s unfair in this world and how things are, you know, it really does suck and like, it’s something that I have to go through, and other people in your life have to go through. So you’re not alone. You’re not the only one that’s reckoning with this, because I think that was also it’s like, I was never told that, like my other black friends were dealing with this. And so it really did feel like just like, a me thing. And so I think it would have helped to know that this was something that just like, our community just had to know how to do. And so that’s what I would do differently, I think.
Traci Thomas 24:21
Well, and you also went to predominantly white? Sure, yes. Especially in high school. You went to a boarding school. Yeah. So it’s like you were the only one in a lot of spaces are one of the only ones Yes, oftentimes one of the only ones. We talked about this before, but I’ve been talking about it again. One of the chapters in the book is about an abusive relationship that you were in. Yeah. And, you know, I really love that chapter. For a lot of reasons. Because, because I feel like you know, the level of vulnerability was like so overwhelming. But also there’s this part of that chapter where you talk about your uncle Barry who’s talk to you about manipulation. And I think of like all the things in the book, it’s like was the greatest takeaway for me personally? Yeah. How to like interact with your loved ones. And like all of that. So I’d love for you to explain. Set it up for us and just talk about it because I just love hearing you talk about it.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 25:17
Yeah. So I was, I was in this relationship that I, at the time, didn’t recognize or identify as emotionally abusive. It wasn’t until a few years later, and the relationship I’m in now, I was like, going through this carousel that was like 10 signs that you were an emotionally abusive relationship. And I went through all 10 and I identified nine of the 10. And I was like, in the car weeping because I was like, oh my god, that was my relationship with this person, who in the book we call Kevin. But after I got out of that relationship, Kevin and I moved out of this apartment we lived in together, and I reconnected with one of my godparents, my uncle Barry, who’s this white gay, stylish man who lives actually, I’m, I’m recording this in New York, maybe not too far from his apartment, actually, actually, oh, my goodness, you know, it’s crazy. The apartment, my uncle bear. So there was a period of time when I was eight years old, that my mom lived at this apartment building called riverbank West, which is like on like, 42nd. And like 11th in this high rise, and my uncle Barry also lived in the same building. So I would like go downstairs and hang out with my uncle Barry. Right. I am currently at a hotel on 11th Ave. And you can see that old building, oh, my gosh, three or four blocks away outside can look outside the window, open the windows, like oh my god, that’s my old building. We’re uncle Barry was. So anyways, I had just I hadn’t seen uncle Barry for years and years. And then after this relationship with Kevin, I reconnected with him. And he took me out to dinner. And I told him all about, you know, the relationship and my grandmother passing and my mom at the time had just become born again, Christian. And then he like, asked me, Do your friends know about all this? And I was like, No, I haven’t told them. And he was like, why? I was like, Oh, I like don’t want to burden them with, you know, all this stuff. And he’s like, do you let your friends come to you about their stuff? And he’s like, of course, like, I love holding that stuff for them. And I’m glad they trusted me. And he was like, well, if they can come to you, but you don’t go to them. That’s manipulative. And I was like, Wait, what are you talking about, like, manipulative? That I that is not who I am Mama. And he was like, no, like, you know, this, a friendship and a relationship is a two way street, essentially. And so if you are always presenting as Okay, and all right, and ever letting your friends see this other side, these broken sides, but they’re allowed to show their broken sides to you, and that’s manipulation, you’re you’re holding the cards, right? You’re holding the upper hand, you’re the one that’s always Alright, you’re the whatever. And she was like, That’s manipulation. That’s, and I was like, I couldn’t argue with that. It’s like you’re not, there’s the friendship can’t be full. Because we’re not showing I’m not showing my full side, I’m letting somebody else show all of their cards. They’re good. They’re bad. They’re in between. And yet, I’m over here only showing my good.
Traci Thomas 28:04
And well, I would argue you’re not letting your friend show their full side because they’re not getting to take care of you. It’s true, you don’t get to see that nurturing side of them. And they don’t get to feel like they’re, like helping you sensibly how you have helped, right? Yeah, they don’t like you, everyone is sort of being not their full selves in the relationship.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 28:25
Or even if they have had moments of that, I’m sure it stunts because there’s like, there’s never a chance for them to do the same. So they might have done it once. But like, again, this is one way street and so like relationship can’t be its full self because I’m not letting my full self out. And so that that changed everything. And I will also say that because my godfather is gay and like grew up, you know, or was here in New York in the 80s. And you know, obviously, when AIDS just like ravaged our community, you know, chosen family and friends were really, really fucking important. And being able to share with your friends in such, you know, devastating, vulnerable moments like that was really, really fucking important. And so I think it hit different when I heard him say that, that meant a lot more and it’s like, yeah, I don’t ever want to be in a situation. devastating situation. And my friends just don’t know about it. Just like are like, what, you know, like you like to your point, like you reading the chapter or like, what, like every all you know, all my friends are like, What the fuck? Yeah, and I don’t want that and you know, moving forward.
Traci Thomas 29:32
Yeah. I mean, that chapter was definitely like news to me. I was like, Oh, I text one of our mutual friends. And I was like, did you know all this stuff about Kevin? And they were like, I mean, I knew that like, we don’t like Kevin anymore. Kevin was not nice. But and we both were like, yeah, yeah.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 29:52
Yeah, I didn’t know. Yeah.
Traci Thomas 29:54
Which is like a crazy feeling. When you’re reading your friend’s book being like, this is like there were little things I didn’t know about. You in the book, I’m sure like stuff about your childhood. But in this particular section, I was like, wait, because I was there. I was in artment. And we were throwing theories at frat parties. We were doing classes. Yes. I’ll meet you here. Let’s go from,
Brandon Kyle Goodman 30:14
I was seeing. I mean, like you, Josh, Pat, like all these people that I was seeing regularly like, like, it’s not like I saw you once in a blue moon like we were. There wasn’t multiple times. Yeah, there was a group of friends that I saw multiple times a week. And slowly but surely, but if like you, like, look back, it’s like, oh, it tracks because slowly but surely, I started seeing people less and less and less. And like, that was the relationship as the relationship got deeper. Right. You know, Josh was the one who helped me move out of that apartment, you know, and it’s like, I don’t think I I still don’t think I’ve told him.
Traci Thomas 30:45
But yeah. well, you’ll know if you know, you’ll know if he reads the book. I’ll probably text you. Josh, there you go. Did you get the book? Um, before we jump to like, sort of about the writing process, yeah. I want to talk about intersectionality. Yeah. Hi, guys. I think you do such a good job in this book of showing and not telling about intersectionality. Obviously, you explain what it is early on. Yeah, Kimberly Crenshaw, it’s like that, you know, if you’re black, and you’re gay, you can’t separate those two things. So experiences that a white gay person would have or experiences that a black straight person would have can’t necessarily be separated from the experiences that you’re having. Yeah. And so you talk a lot about that in the book, but you don’t really actually you don’t talk a lot about it in the book, you show us a lot about how that works for you in the book. Yeah. And I guess my question is sort of like, how do you navigate that for yourself? I know how I sort of navigated for myself as a black woman, but I’m just, I’m just curious, your feelings about all of it.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 32:02
I think for me, it’s that thing where like, I think about us, especially in like career, you know, and I know, as you know, black people in media, you know, you as a black woman in media, me as a black queer person in media, it comes up a lot, right? Because you see your white counterparts, excelling in a way that is so obvious that it’s about opportunities, and that and that race or gender is at play, like you just can deny it. And there’s something comforting about that, and acknowledging that for me, because I think there was a tendency to think it was about talent, and tendency to think it was about skill. And then when I was finally able to name it, and be like, Oh, no, there’s other things at play here. It doesn’t, you know, make me happy about it, but at least quieted the doubt about myself, if that makes sense. And so that’s how I really navigate those intersections is like, and also like when things happen and come up, I now ask the question, like, Is this about me? Is this about my gender identity? Is this about my sexuality? Is it about all, you know, my race is about all three. So just, it allows me to be a little more curious, as I move through the world. And I think not take things more personal, if that makes sense. Because I’m very clear that my black queerness, and my intersections are beautiful. I love them, and they are my superpowers. But when the world fights me, because of them, I need to be aware that it’s the world’s problem and not my problem. And I think historically, I thought I was the problem. And I was trying to fix and change me, which I no longer do. Does that make sense?
Traci Thomas 33:47
Totally. I had a experience not too long ago, well, a little bit ago, where I had a person for this show, who was a black woman, and was not into black women. And it was really jarring for
Brandon Kyle Goodman 34:07
those hurt worst. Where you’re just like, all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.
Traci Thomas 34:12
Yeah, like what did I do to you? Like I invited you on my podcast. Yeah, those are really bad. And I feel like those are the ones that are the hardest for me to be like, this is a youth thing and not a thing, even though those also feel like the most clearly. Those are you thing and not a me thing. Because I’m like, you’ve obviously been hurt in a way that you feel like you have to be awful to me, even though I feel like we’re on the same team. So like, weirdly, it feels personal and also the least personal. Yes. So those are the ones that I mostly struggle with.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 34:48
I have had some older black gay men in my career that have been awful. I’ve had some ones have been fabulous, but I’ve had a couple that have been awful in a way that you’re like, Huh Oh, Like, all I gotta say, Hello, like, you’re just like, wait, what? Yeah. Why are you looking at me are talking about this? And you’re like, Oh, it is your pain, right? Like, yeah, they are like I am triggering your pain, like you are seeing me move through. You know, listen, you and I have it very difficult still, but we have it better than right. And so I think there’s like you’re seeing an ease happen that one I like. And in this book, I pay tribute to everyone that’s come before me. You know, like, I understand that the reason that I’m able to be here talking to you having a book where I’m wearing a skirt is because a lot of fucking people sacrifice a lot of people went unknown. You know, there are a lot of names that we don’t know. But you know, I can’t explain that to the, you know, to the older, you know, black gay guy who looks at me and thinks I’m spoiled or whatever it is. So that does hurt. But yeah, there is like a, it’s the most personal and the least I think it’s just disappointing. It’s just sad.
Traci Thomas 35:55
Yeah. Because you’re like, it hurts your feelings the most. Yes. Yeah. It’s like, I can still be like, Okay, this isn’t about me like me. Yeah, some issues, but also like, this makes me really sad in my heart, and I just like feel frustrated because I because I think I also like go into it with higher hopes for that. Yeah. Like, I’m like, Oh, this is gonna be a person that I’m gonna be able to connect with. And we’re gonna have a vibe and it’s yeah, there have been many wonderful black women who have been part of this show and have supported my work. But when it when there’s one that’s not it just feels like
Brandon Kyle Goodman 36:27
It feels weird. Because we’re also like, there are so few of us, right? are visible and out here doing it. So like when you meet somebody, you’re like, Ah, I want to like, connect like we’re doing look, we’re doing the thing and when they’re like, Okay, no, girl. Oh, wow. My heart. Oh, my heart.
Traci Thomas 36:45
Yeah, no. 1,000% Yeah. Okay. We always talked about this. How do you like to write? Where are you snacks and beverages? How often is there music are you in the home any rituals, candles, incense stretching, set the scene, all of it.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 37:03
So for for the first draft, I usually try to be out of the house. So I have for the book, what I did, I would like do this little when I called retreat. So I booked an Airbnb or book, a hotel room, go away for a couple of days and just like write the shitty draft because I’m a perfectionist, as I talked about in the book. And so it’s really easy for me to stop writing because I’m so focused on like a fucking word or like, oh, like how I want to say whatever. And it was really important to just get out the house and like, get it out. There’s always a candle. The scents are really important to me. There’s always a snack, I like It’s my chance to like order out to like, you know, there’s burgers or fries, or chocolate chip cookies. There’s a gallon of water, which is just in general. And I’ll play like some sometimes I’ll play like some classical music in the back. I can’t really, as much as I want to write while listening to Beyonce like it is. It’s my desire. Like I can’t like the moment people are singing like, I get distracted. So I can only do it if there’s some kind of like piano but I tend to go for like a jazzy or piano type vibe. In the background. A little jazzy. Jazz. No, and specifically piano like I let like I try I played with like, just like general classical but the piano I played piano as a kid. I can’t do it now. But I play piano as a kid. And so I think that really comforts me in some way. And then taking breaks, you know, when I take my breaks, I watch things that have no stakes, so like a lot of shitty TV like a lot of housewives or like old school like Living Single fresh prints. Like just like things that can really comfort me and make me like I was I was wanting the move book and the pandemic I was rewatching scandal. And oh, season three she gets like kidnapped and it’s such a great season. And this as I was reading the book, I was watching it and I had to stop it. I was like, nope, my anxiety I like can’t like too much. It’s like spiking.
Traci Thomas 39:02
During the pandemic, my mother discovered Grey’s Anatomy.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 39:08
What a discovery.
Traci Thomas 39:11
I mean, it’s my favorite show. I’ve never missed an episode I still watch. And she was like, I just started watching Grey’s Anatomy, and I was like, Bitch, I want you to show for 18 years and you’re trying to act like you just discovered this is my whole personality. Show like come to me and be like, Oh my god, I’m still watching. I’m on season 13 And I’m like, you still have five years Okay, video. And I know afterwards, it’s gonna be like, What should I watch next? I’ll probably be like, scandal scandal, babes. You’ve got to go to all of Shonda land and How to Get Away with Murder.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 39:51
Private Practice, get into it.
Traci Thomas 39:53
I’m not into private practice.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 39:54
I loved private practice. I was like I hated when Audra. Without a left, but I loved my practice. No thanks, Addison’s back. Sorry. Let’s Let’s move on.
Traci Thomas 40:07
I wait. So you’re still watching Grey’s, right?
Brandon Kyle Goodman 40:09
Yes. I’m behind on this on last season. I haven’t watched last season but I am still a fan of the show.
Traci Thomas 40:16
Starts back up October something.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 40:18
Yes. Yeah. Season 19. Right.
Traci Thomas 40:21
18 or 19.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 40:23
Yeah, I went to the Emmys. And then I went to the Disney party, and I like ran into a bunch of the cast. And I Oh, I saw your picture. I lost my fucking mind. And they were like, Oh, we’re taking photos. And yeah, go ahead, go take photos. And then one of the new doctors on the show, er, Fightmaster. They are incredible. And I love them. And they were like, come on, I was like, yes. Okay. But like three of the cast members, and it’s the highlight of my life.
Traci Thomas 40:51
That was you were behind Oprah. You’re behind Quinta. Everyone, however, for me seeing you with the dregs of the anatomy cast. I was like, what a blessing what? You know, my boyfriend, Justin Chambers used to write why we’ll random also taught at flywheel with the good I did. And everyone used to always joke because he would always he was like, my guy, and all the people at the front desk could be like your boyfriend’s here? Correct. She was writing there when he left the show. And he told me he was like, I’m, I think I have to leave like, I think I’ve like burnt out. But when I first met him, I asked him about it. And he was like, I love it. It’s a steady job, and you don’t get that anymore. And I love it. And I get to be creative, and I still get to do the work. But I also know like, I’m gonna have a job. And then one day he was like, Yeah, and we think I’ve hit my place. Yeah. So I love him love.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 41:54
What do you know? So one of my friends now directs on a bunch of the Shonda shows. And for my birthday, he got me a video of Chandra Wilson saying happy birthday and she like sang a little bit and I lost my my I lost my fucking mind. It was she plays Bailey. Yes, yes. Yes. She plays Bailey. Yes. Who’s in season one, and I’m gonna do one more. And then she was also the Emmys. I sat behind. Okay, great.
Traci Thomas 42:27
Also, Justin Chambers one time it was like, Oh, I’m bringing a friend to class later this week. And who did he bring? His friend Sandy. Sandy, Sandra Oh! She called herself Sandy. I was like, hi, let me help you get set up on your bike. And I was like, great, what’s your name? And she was like, I’m Sandy. And I was like,
Brandon Kyle Goodman 42:50
Oh, my God, I would have died. I would have passed out.
Traci Thomas 42:54
Was so lovely and kind, was very patient with me setting her up on her bike. I would have been shaking it couldn’t pass was like I’m gonna go die now. Absolutely.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 43:05
One of the most incredible sorry, this is not a great sounding podcast, Chris cut all this.
Traci Thomas 43:11
No, leave it in Christian.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 43:14
When that scene where Burke leaves her and she’s in the wedding dress. With no eyebrows and she goes I’m free and then starts sends me out. Like brilliant. Anyways, so
Traci Thomas 43:32
Sandra Oh was a blessing for all of us. Okay, back to your book. Yes, way better than Grey’s. And now. Me I might be stretching because Grey’s Anatomy is not my husband, not my children. anyone I’ve ever met. Fucking Bomb Episode will see haunting me forever. Anyways, what came most easily for you with this book? And what was the most difficult, huh?
Brandon Kyle Goodman 44:01
What came most easily? Were definitely the author’s notes. So in the book, I do a couple of these author’s notes. And those came easily because they were the thing that like broke form. Because I think the scary thing was like, how do you write a fucking book? Like, like, like, I know how to write an essay on how to write article ACA write a TV script, write a play, but how do you write a fucking book? And so like the author notes, were these moments where I like broke away from the convention and so it felt easy. Those author notes were also I mean, one of them is pretty personal to ancestors one, but they’re also more like, I would say informational or like, like this is how we do this is how we hold space. This is how we go to therapy better. So it felt although some of it is still personal, it still felt not as vulnerable if you will. I did find them important like what the most important one was the The holding space which I think is the first author’s note, because it’s right before I go into conversations about my family and I found that to be really important because I’m still so protective of my family even though I talk about them in a very you know, vulnerable open way and it doesn’t always make them look the best these are there’s a lot of dualities in this book and so that that holding space was important to me and easy to write because I knew my intention of holding love the hardest things to write. Were definitely you the three chapters were definitely mom, grandma, and Kevin. So life is hard. We all need help is the emotional abuse gay stuff is about my mom and becoming a Christian and pride and joy is about my grandmother. And you know how she I never told her I was gay and like what what our relationship was and my kind of longing for her. So those are probably the three hardest that were Yeah.
Traci Thomas 45:59
This is a question I ask everyone. So you’re gonna go on record on this. What’s the word? You can never spell correctly on the first try?
Brandon Kyle Goodman 46:06
Oh my God, there’s so many
Traci Thomas 46:08
Yes, I have so many.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 46:12
Oh my God, there’s so many. Yeah. Like I literally have to like look up Thursday sometimes like no, like, committed comes to mind. I’m like, two Ms, two Ts?
Traci Thomas 46:25
it’s the ultimate. How about fucking committee committee is a nightmare for me.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 46:32
Oh, yeah. Anything with like, multiple- achieve. I’m always like, I before E except after C.
Traci Thomas 46:39
Like, there’s like 17 ease and achieve also like, what are you?
Brandon Kyle Goodman 46:43
What are y’all doing? Like, some words?
Traci Thomas 46:47
That’s a good one. Yeah. So one of the things you talked about is like wanting this book to be for black people, queer people and black queer people, most specifically. Yeah. What are the best depictions of black queer people out right now? And where? And which ones do you feel like are lackluster depictions of black queer people? Books, TV, music, whatever pops to mind.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 47:09
the best. I think I said this last night. I think industry is such an incredible and I would love to know what that writers room is made up because the lead protagonist is a black woman. The rest of the cast is pretty white, but I feel like they’ve created this like really nuanced layered fucked up main character and it’s wonderful. That’s not a queer character. Well, I guess there’s some queer descendant other representations I think saucy Santana, who is a rapper and is just like to me fucking hip hop up in such a delicious way in such a way that you know, we create like I’ve craved forever and ever, you know, they really just are femmes the fuck out like full nails like dresses and like and are dropping bops are dropping full on bops and it’s such a beautiful representation to me. What else have I seen recently? I think that law Roach as a stylist I mean his influence is kind of everywhere. But also seeing him in his fullness like just show like he was at the Emmys red carpet and he was fully in flipped and in slides it was like these furry Adidas slides with long long hair and like just like it is full and we’re like I was like me Mama and you were just like so unapologetic and his influence kind of being an all you know in Sunday and Kerry Washington and all these people that he’s dressing so you’re seeing that representation I think kind of everywhere and and also getting his props like you know like really people being like this is That’s fucking iconic talent. I’m trying to think about on TV I’ll say I think that there is work to do in that space not that there aren’t good representations like I think you know pose had some good representation although that show as beautiful as that show is I think also had a lot of trauma inside of it and so like I desire seeing more joy you know, I desire seeing more shows where we get to be in full joy like I love that MJ Rodriguez who won the Emmy and like really led the cast suppose now on loot with my Rudolph, you know, I love just seeing black queer people in spaces not being tied to their their black queerness just existing as human beings. But I do think in film and TV, we have a fucking long way to go in terms of getting more representation out there.
Traci Thomas 49:48
I love that. I asked this to everyone also, for people who love your book. What are some other books you might recommend to them that are in conversation with the work that you’ve done?
Brandon Kyle Goodman 49:59
My there are a bunch of books that I kind of gravitate to right now. So right now I’m reading and the author’s gonna escaped me but adult children of emotionally immature parents, which was has really been so eye opening and allowing me to see my mother specifically as emotionally immature is like a really charged- it’s like a friend of mine I think said that they had that book on their coffee table their mom’s coming over and they like literally had to like run, toss it-
Traci Thomas 50:41
Will you just send a copy to my children because they’re gonna need it. Like, I am their mom. Just save your copy. Every time someone has a every time one of your friends has a child just send the copy to the parent.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 50:58
Like, hold onto it for them. But you know, just like having language to really understand the history of your parents and what they you know what that generates. Because when I say to I’ve said this to you and other friends is like, my friends, we’re having kids. Now we are we are the generation that’s breaking the pattern. So like a lot of us are first generation going to therapy first generation talking about mental health first generation, like really being intentional about like, how do I parent really reading and researching how to parent, our parents generation was not really always doing that. And so I think we’re the first generation to do that. So it makes sense that there are things that happened and like, you know, scars that were passed down that we are currently reckoning with and so needing books like that, to help us navigate that. The ethical slut is also something that I’m reading right now, which has been really inspirational. Just in terms of again, this idea of breaking conventionality. So that book is really all about how do you exist in non monogamous relationships? And this idea that, like, you know, there isn’t a right or wrong like that man and woman are like, two people isn’t the only way a relationship can exist? And how do you expand your thinking on that, it doesn’t mean that you have to move into a non monogamous relationship, but it’s this idea that, to me, it’s like the world is bigger than you think it is. And the way for us to exist as humans is bigger than you might have been taught that we’ve been taught, you know, we’ve been taught so binary. So anything that allows me to, to break out of the binary, you know, I’m gonna fucking love. You know, this is old, but it was kind of the first book that really, really allowed me to see myself, which was the Gifts of Imperfection by Brene. Brown, that was the first time I read that years ago. And it was the first book that I read, that gave me language for why I was suffering, which I was, you know, talking about in the book, my perfectionism is my addiction. And as a black person, and as a black queer person, I think a lot of us suffer from perfectionism. It’s like, our worth, and our value is rooted in our productivity, and how well we’re able to perform. And so being able to that book really inspired me to undo my undo that but also in writing this book, like the importance of sfsc You know, the difference between being on Instagram and having like, these stories kind of disappear. It’s like, I want it to create something that somebody can hold on to, and always go back to and be like, Oh, my God, that thing, this thing, this is how I navigate that. So those are, those are the three books I’ll give right now.
Traci Thomas 53:36
I’m gonna give two books just because I think that they’re like perfectly in conversation. Yeah, one is. I can’t date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 53:44
Yeah, yes, yes. Yes. That’s a great one.
Traci Thomas 53:46
Yes. So good. And it has like the joy and the humor that you talked about, like it’s not rooted in like a super traumatic, like foundation. So there is of course trauma because being black queer in America, there’s going to be trauma points, just like there are in your book. Yeah. And then the other one, I would say is here for it by our Eric Thomas also. Yes. Also black queer. So for people who are like looking for other black queer stories that maybe aren’t rooted in trauma, those are two I would throw out that I think are really really great. And then one that’s slightly more on the traumatic side, but so fucking good is no ashes in the fire.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 54:25
I was just starting to say, yes, no ashes in the fire. All boys aren’t blue and The Bluest Eye or three books that I also read before starting to write. And I was really grateful one to, like, just hear Darnell and George’s voices and also just like, Toni Morrison writes in this Toni Morrison’s Toni Morrison, but you know, just like, but like, I think that Toni Morrison also does this thing where she doesn’t. She breaks how she writes. It’s like, it’s poet. It’s like poetry. It’s just like, it’s thought the form of her writing is just so, so good. So good. So those definitely.
Traci Thomas 55:05
So that’s the last one. Yeah, it’s a good list. Y’all have a good good. Yeah. Okay, last one. If you could have one person dead or alive read this book, who would you want it to be?
Brandon Kyle Goodman 55:14
Dr. Maya Angelou. For sure, the quote that opens my book is a I’m a human being, that’s nothing human can be alien to me. And I got that from her. She did this thing called Oprah’s master classes, where she would do this hour long kind of in depth documentary style thing with a different person and so, Maya Angelou is, Dr. Maya Angelou was life changing for me. It was shortly after my grandmother had passed away and right after my mom had become born again. And there’s this thing that she says which is love liberates it does not bind and if you go on YouTube and look up Maya Angelou level of rates, it’s a, this 10 minute thing about her mother and when her mother was passing and how she was able to release her mother and and she said love liberates it does not bind and that idea that love should not be conditional that if you really love somebody that you give them the space and the time to do what they need to do and to be who they need to be and to let them know you’re always there that that is love and that really changed everything for me but she also in there talks about how she would start everything like all her classes with that quote that she would say in Latin and I won’t fuck it I won’t say because I forgot but it translates to I’m a human being is nothing human can be alien to me at the Roman philosopher, Terence and so I put that in front of everything anyways. Dr. Maya Angelou said love who is who I would want to read this book that would mean everything to me.
Traci Thomas 56:40
I love that so much. Okay, we’re done. We’re out of here. Last thing I’m going to say get your copy of you gotta be you wherever you get your books be also read the audiobook so you can do the audiobook. I have heard be read the conclusion. It is so good hearing it in your voice. So if you are an audiobook person, I highly recommend the audiobook. I have a link to everything we talked about today in the show notes. B, thank you so much for being here.
Brandon Kyle Goodman 57:05
Thank you. I love you.
Traci Thomas 57:07
I love you and everyone else we will see you in The Stacks.
Thank you all so much for listening. And thank you to Brandon Kyle Goodman for being my guest. Don’t forget, Anthony Ocampo will be back on October 26. To discuss this month book club pick Fairest by Meredith Talusan. If you love the show and want inside access to it, head to patreon.com/the stacks and join the stacks pack. Make sure you’re subscribed to the stacks wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you’re listening through Apple podcasts or Spotify, leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stocks follow us on social media at the stocks pod on Instagram and at the stacks pod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stackspodcast.com This episode of the stocks was edited by Christian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designer is Robin McCreight and our theme music is from Tagirijus. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.
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