Growing up in the Bible Belt & Black Asexuality ft. Tyger Songbird

Happy Pride Month! We’re kicking it off with an extra special episode featuring the fantastic Tyger Songbird! We talk about Tyger’s experience growing up in the Bible Belt, Black Asexuality, the necessity of diverse representation, and SO much more!

Find Tyger Songbird


Courtney: Hello everyone, and welcome back to the podcast. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce, and together, we are The Ace Couple. And today, we are actually not alone! We have a very special guest with us, who we are so excited to have and very excited for you to meet. So why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself?

Tyger: Hi everyone. I’m Tyler Stevenson. You could call me TygerSongbird. Find me at @TygerSongbird on Twitter. I’m actually a writer, do-it-all person, teacher, everything in that nature. And I’m also Asexual and love to talk about all things Asexuality. I have been featured in multiple publications, done exposé articles, and I’ve also been pretty big on the internet, ran my own Reddit forum and also started a Reddit subreddit for Asexuality a few years ago online. So the Reddit r/Asexual, I am its head moderator, so we actually started that up few years ago, kind of got that off the ground. And personally, I’m just an all-around average Asexual person that loves to do things like sing and just have fun. I’m ready. So I’m happy to be here.

Courtney: Yay! We love it. We are so glad to have you on. We’ve been talking about having guests for a while, but we’ve been a little slow to figure out the microphone and recording situation. But we’re just so excited to see where this conversation takes us. So, since we are first and foremost an Asexuality podcast, we would love to hear just a little bit about about your relationship with Asexuality. What does Asexuality mean to you, and what has your personal journey been like?

Tyger: So, I think defining Asexuality – Asexuality, being defined as having little to no sexual attraction. For me, when I have – and personally, in my relationships, I personally have all platonic relationships. I consider myself pretty much in the bridge between either Aromantic or in the gray zone. So, I mean, I’ve never really been in a relationship, never been on a date or anything like that. It’s just never been something I’ve ever really been into, dating and relationships. I prefer all my friends being, like, my friends, and stuff like that. And my friends are my really deepest relationships. Like, they’re my, you know, go-to, my ride-or-dies. So I, you know, get relationship fulfillment, from my end, from my friends, because they always are there for me. They always consider me, and stuff like that. So, friends and family are kind of like the deepest parts. So, if I consider you my friend, I consider you like my family, like, we’re blood. I’m going to stick my neck out on the line and do whatever I need to do to help you. So those are my things, but it doesn’t involve anything romantic or sexual in nature.

Courtney: That is so interesting that you mentioned the Aromantic spectrum, possibly a gray area, because that’s actually something I’ve been exploring a little bit about myself. I don’t think I am as hardline Aromantic as I am hardline Asexual.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: But I know I have a capacity for experiencing romantic attraction – case in point, with my spouse. What we have is romantic rather than pure platonic, but it seems to me to be something that’s very conditional and very infrequent. So I’ve kind of settled myself on a demiromantic kind of spectrum, but I’ve also just always been someone who’s wanted to be in a relationship. But it sounds like to you, it’s just not a factor. You’d just rather have your friendships and family and that fulfills you.

Tyger: Yeah. My personal thing is I’ve always wondered why it was so weird that people would say “just friends” or “the friend zone” sort of things. I actually wrote an article – or, wrote a post on a blog site one time that talked about reclaiming “the friend zone,” because people will say “we’re just friends” or “in the friend zone,” and people will be like, “Oh, I just got friend-zoned.” And I’m like, “Well, if I consider you my friend, that means it’s the deepest honor. Like, I think of you as a really great person that I would like to hold onto.” And I’ve always wondered, why is “the friend zone” or being “just friends” so bad for so many people? Like, why is that? It never confused me, or it always was one of those things that I consider mystifying things. Like, okay, you don’t want to be friends with someone? Like, that’s good, right? Like, you want to be friends! I mean, you have a good relationship; some friendships are just [laughs] – Some of my friends have been –

Courtney: Friendships are great! [laughs]

Tyger: Yeah, I don’t understand the devaluing of it. Like, I’ve had friendships longer than some of my friends have had relationships with their current partners. I’ve known them longer than they’ve known their respective mates. And I’m just like, you know, I don’t understand the devaluing of it. So I just think, you know, having a good friend, being someone like my buddy or my go-to, which I have quite a couple of, personally, you know, those sort of things mean an exponential amount to me. So learning that was a big deal. And it was also kind of confusing, also, to learn it. Because when you got to be friendly with somebody all the way, people just kept trying to, like, relationship-zone you and like, “Oh, you’re friends with that person, so you’re obviously dating them,” or “You always hang out with them, you guys must be dating.” So that was something that I had to clear the air. I was like, “We’re not dating. We’re really good friends.” And it’s just, I realized we talk about that, the amatonormativity factor, and shout out to Tara Mooknee on YouTube – she does a great video on that. That’s something that I’ve never understood as a relationship factor. Like, why are friendships – why is there an echelon where romantic relationships are somehow here, and then friendships are below that somewhere, on a lower tier. I don’t know.

Royce: I think I’ve seen that as sort of a defining moment in a lot of people on the Ace spectrum, whether it’s Asexual or Aromantic, is this point in their life where they gained the awareness to actually look at everyone else around them and realize, “Oh, all of you are not thinking and experiencing life in the exact same way that I am? Like, in what way am I different?” I used to think that. I had noticed being different as a kid, but I always jumped through some hoops to reason it as a difference in expression instead of experience, like, “Maybe everyone else is just a little extra. Everyone else just exaggerates here and there,” and that we’re actually experiencing the same world. And I finally had to get to this point of saying, “No, we experience everything differently – the relationships we’re in, the way that we interact with people.”

Tyger: Yeah. Going through my story, I – It was one of those weird things, when I was 17, my friends were all talking about the fact that they were wanting to have kids when they get older, or getting married. And I looked at them at first like, I didn’t want to do any of that. I have no desire for that. And they looked at me all weird and strange. And then I remember being in high school and there was this discussion amongst, you know, classmates. They were talking about sex lives and stuff like that. And some people were talking and I was just sitting there all confused because I was like, “Oh my gosh, you guys are really doing this?”

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: I thought this was a joke. And I literally looked at them like, “I thought you guys were – I thought this was a joke. Like, you know, American Pie is – that’s not real, right? That’s not a real thing?”

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: And it turns out, oh my gosh, not only is it real, I’m actually like the anomaly to the situation. Okay. Now I realize – that was, at that moment, when I started to realize I was different. I thought everyone else was weird and I was the normal one [laughs], and then I found out I was the weird one and everyone else was doing something different. Or maybe I wouldn’t say “weird,” because that has connotations of negativity, but more like I was the one that was, I guess, different, a stand-out from the rest of the crowd doing what everyone else was doing. So.

Courtney: Yeah, absolutely. And that is just, I mean, that is peak Ace experience, but I think it’s also just general… the queer experience, where there has come a time where we just realize, as queer people, that there is something fundamentally different about what we’re experiencing versus what the general society is telling us we should be feeling or what we’re witnessing other people feeling. And I kind of feel like I was led astray for a couple of years as a young woman, because there was a period of time where other girls my age – when we were getting to age 13, age 14 – where we began to understand what sex was, in that it was on the horizon soon for some of us, and we were all just kind of traumatized by it. Like, we’d have conversations being like, [hushed tone] “That can’t possibly be a good thing. That sounds horrible.” And of course, where I grew up, we were told, you know, “It’s a very – something you should save for marriage.” But also you kind of get the carrot and the stick, like, “If it’s within marriage, it’s going to be this sweet, wonderful, beautiful thing.” But you also get the stick of, like, [lower, serious tone] “Your first time is going to be painful. You’re going to bleed.” And so –

Royce: You had a below-average sex education in school too.

Courtney: It’s true. It’s true. I did. It was awful. It really was. But this group of girls, we were like, [panting] “Sex sounds horrible! It’s gonna be this horrible, traumatizing thing that’s painful!” And so I felt like I was totally right there with everyone, like, “I have no interest in this.” But then, within the span of the next year or two, all of these people I had these same conversations with were like, “Oh, yeah. I started having sex with my boyfriend and it’s great, actually, you should try it.” And I’m like, [sputtering] “What? Excuse me, you don’t still feel exactly the same way?” So that sort of lended itself, also, to the “late bloomer” stereotype that I think a lot of Aces get. Like, [gently] “Oh, you’ll get there. You’ll find someone.”

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: But no, I didn’t grow out of it.

Tyger: Yeah. It was kind of one of those weird pendulum shifts. And when you’re 12 or 13, people are like, “No no no no no, don’t have sex. Don’t have sex.” And they’re like, “I’m not having sex!” Although there were some instances where, you know, there were some people who were very, very young and having sex and stuff like that, and there was always that. But usually – It just kind of went through a shift, and then all of a sudden, when you turn around 15 or 16 and 17, and it was just like, when I started getting to my senior year, it was like everybody was talking about doing it and stuff like that. And then it was like, “Now, [emphasizes] you haven’t done it. So that’s weird that you haven’t.” So, that’s kind of where we could talk about sexual demographics and stuff like that, I think, actually. Which is kind of ironic, because starting around when I was in high school, the age of people like considerably having their first experiences started actually getting older, so it actually started to move backwards in time. So, people always say, like, this generation or that generation was – [loud, mock scolding] “This generation is just all promiscuous,” and stuff like that, making moral statements and stuff like that. Because I don’t want to get into that because we are actually getting more knowledgeable, and the more knowledge is power, and that actually helps, you know, learning sex education. Yes, I’m a huge proponent of – I actually have written one of my articles, my first article on Asexuality, was why LGBTQ+ sex education is so vital and why it’s good and why everyone should be on board with it. And one of the statistics I quoted was that actually, those who go through a comprehensive sex education course actually end up having a later sexual experience, one that’s actually more likely to be of a consenting, more fulfilling type of relationship instead of doing so early.

Courtney: It’s a major safety issue, too, if people aren’t getting the proper education.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: So I’m constantly baffled by how horrible my sex education was [laughs] and I can only hope we’re going to continue going forward.

Tyger: I’m in the club with that. Mine was simple: “Just don’t do it and don’t even think about it.” [laughs] It was literally like the Mean Girls movie where the gym teacher is like, “Don’t even think about it. Don’t do it. If you do it –”

Courtney: “If you have sex, you will die.” [laughs]

Tyger: “You’re gonna die,” and stuff like that. Yeah. I literally had that happen.

Courtney: Me too. So, you’re in Oklahoma. Is that where you went to school as well?

Tyger: Yeah. Born and raised.

Courtney: Okay.

Tyger: I am a… Okie, Okie-Okie-Okie. So, okey-dokey. [laughs]

Courtney: [laughs] Yeah. Oh man, ’cause yes, my I don’t know if you got the slideshow, but our sex education was basically, “Here is a slideshow of pictures of the worst possible cases of STDs and STIs. And here’s why you shouldn’t have sex.”

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: And so by that point we’re all like, [nervously] “Okay, we will never have sex in our entire lives.” Until a few years later. Then, all of a sudden, I’m looking in confusion at everyone else who all of a sudden has an interest. [laughs]

Tyger: Yeah. I had to look up pictures of gonorrhea before. [laughs]

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: Which was still a very traumatizing experience. When I was a freshman in high school, we had to do an STI presentation on different STIs, and I got gonorrhea.

Courtney: Ohh.

Tyger: And you can imagine, having to look up pictures of gonorrhea – and I had to show them to the entire class because it’s a presentation, which really felt really awkward to me. And also just… ugh.

Courtney: There’s an added layer to that where you’re making the students present that to other students. [laughs]

Tyger: Yeah –

Royce: Every student is the face for an STI, essentially.

Courtney: Oh no! [laughs]

Tyger: The cringe face. The cringe of it all.

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: It’s just so – it was, it was one of those like, “Ooh, no.” That would be enough. I mean, if there was such a thing as being beyond scared straight, that would have been it.

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: That moment would have been it. If I could have possibly been scared straight, would have been that moment, once I saw pictures of people with gonorrhea and how bad that looked. Nightmare.

Courtney: Mmm. Mmm.

Tyger: Nightmare. So yeah, that was our sex education. That is property of Oklahoma schools and Bible Belt.

Courtney: Yeah. Well, I’m glad you mentioned the Bible Belt, because we want to talk about that. Because Royce and I are both raised Midwesterners – Royce grew up in Kansas, I grew up in South Dakota, which, South Dakota is the northernmost state of all the ones that we’re talking about, but some people who don’t know much about South Dakota are kind of surprised to hear that it can be incredibly conservative and sometimes reminiscent of the Bible Belt. But the joke was kind of like, “We’re called South Dakota, but we’re not really in the South.” So…

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: But what is your overall experience just being an Asexual person in the Bible Belt?

Tyger: Let’s take a walk down – a stroll down memory lane, I guess. So, growing up, I’m born and raised same town I’ve been in. So I’m from small-town Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, you can find that on a map. It’s actually, while it was small-town when I was starting, it’s actually like the fifth-largest city in the entire state of Oklahoma, it’s like over a hundred thousand people in it. So it’s actually gotten quite large in my lifetime. But the values have stayed very, very rigid conservative in its time. Some of the people are great. I love some of the people, and I know quite a few great people here, but it’s just very, very conservative Bible Belt. I mean, I always say like this: “You could spit in any direction on a street and I guarantee you’d hit a church.”

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: That’s how many churches there are. I had a pastor growing up who’d refer to it as “Jesus Disneyland.”

Courtney: Oh!

Tyger: There is a church everywhere in Oklahoma. You could go on any street and probably find there’s a church, probably a First Baptist Church, somewhere in that town, and you could probably just cross an intersection and be like, “Oh there’s a church right there. There you go. There’s a church, right there, right there, right there,” and it is just in every single direction. So, growing up, obviously, I come from a Christian family. My mom grew up in a church. She grew up singing choir in a church. I actually have a brother who’s a pastor now, so I actually grew up in a very religious family. Not really super religiously uptight, like one of those families from Carrie, mom from Carrie, that would beat you with a Bible in the hand, right, type of family – but it was, you know, Christian values and everything like that, “God first” type of family. Which, I have no knock against people with religion. I just want to preface that. I have no knock whatsoever against people religion. I’m somewhere in the limbo state. I love Jesus, but not so much organized religion so much, but I don’t knock anybody who’s religious.

Tyger: But when I grew up, and I was 13 and everything, I was in church, we’d be in youth groups, and we’d always have to confess our sins and go to prayer confessionals and confess to a youth pastor and everything like that, talking about what we did or what bad stuff we did. And one of the weird things was just kind of like how many people had sexual sins or talked about sexual stain, obviously, like premaritally and stuff like that. And it was just like, I never really had those moments. But as far as I was concerned, people were holding me up as the good boy of the group, which was kind of weird. Like, when you grow up in Bible Belt culture, if you’re supposed to be, you know, pure until marriage and you’re supposed to be “abstinence-only” kind of education. I didn’t learn about Asexuality until I was way older. So it kind of really clouded my focus, because I was thinking, I was like, “I’m straight, but I’m not really that good at it,” because everyone else was really different from how my experiences are. So I just kind of defaulted to being straight and then just, like, not really, because I wasn’t really interested in having sex with anyone. I wasn’t really interested in all that stuff. But it was just like, “Well, I mean, I’m not gay, because I’m not into my friends who are guys, but I’m not also really into having sex with, like, opposite sex either, with the opposite sex, so it’s like, what am I doing?”

Tyger: And it was just one of the things of growing up in Bible Belt culture really made me super confused personally, because I was just like, “Okay, I can’t figure out what heads from tails from this thing. Like, am I supposed to be that guy that goes out and tries to hunt all the women and stuff like that? Or am I just really really good at being pure or being chaste?” Like, I just feel – there’s this thing they call “the gift of celibacy,” which is, like, priests are called, like, “You have this gift of celibacy, you can go without having, you know, sex and be a priest and grow up.” And I actually looked and inquired into being a priest at one point. And it was like, “You have this gift,” but then I realized celibacy is different from Asexuality. Because I was considering myself celibate for the longest, and I was thinking, “Okay. I’m just celibate, right? And celibates don’t don’t think about it, or don’t even imagine having sex.” But then I realized, you know, with the church candles and Spotlight – [laughs] thank you Spotlight, the movie – realized that celibacy was not what I imagined or cooked it up to be. It was like, no, they still have the same appetite that I didn’t have.

Courtney: Yeah!

Tyger: They have the same – they still have the same attraction that I didn’t have, and I was just like, “Okay, then what am I doing?” And as soon as I got older… It’s weird. The church has this weird kind of shift. Like, when you’re pure and you’re 17 or you’re 16, it’s like, “Yes. Good job. Good job. You’re doing great. Praise God,” right? And hold you up as a heralded example of moral rectitude or righteousness. But then when you start to get to 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, now the expectation – once you get out of college, people start expecting you to start getting onto this whole marriage and family and, you know, being a family man, a leader, head of the family, having children, getting married, matrimony, being one, you know. As the saying in the Bible says – like, one Bible verse that always sticks in my mind that a pastor always would quote to me would be First Corinthians 7, which is, “I say, it’s good to be unmarried. But for those who can’t get married…” and then they also quoted – one important, always important thing that he always quoted was First Corinthians 7, and it was like, “Do not deprive one another of your body.”

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: And that was something that always stuck at me. And that was one of the beginning points of deconstruction phase of me.

Courtney: Yeah.

Tyger: So at that moment I started to have the deconstruction moment. It was like, “So you’re telling me I can’t possibly not…?” Because I actually had a meeting with a person that was like, “I feel all this pressure. Everyone’s pressuring me to get married. And my family is making this big deal about why am I not getting married, why am I not dating, why am I not doing any of these things that, like they – it’s quote unquote, ‘socially expected,’ being these requisites of being… a Christian, especially a guy. Why is he not doing all this? And everyone’s putting this pressure.” And then all of a sudden it was like, well, it’s just kind of the expectation; everyone’s supposed to do this. And I’m like, this was the beginning of the deconstruction of me. And it was just like, I couldn’t do that. And at that point, I don’t want to say my faith started eroding, but it did start to shake.

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: And it was just like, now I feel like, you know, after all these years of being told that this was a good thing, being pure and abstinent and being chaste and celibate and not having sex – you told me these were good things! You told me this was a good thing I was doing. Now, you’re telling me I’m doing the wrong thing.

Courtney: Yeah, there really is a double-edged sword with that. Because on the one hand – one phrase that really stuck out to me, because I haven’t heard it exactly phrased that way before, but was “the gift of celibacy,” because I haven’t heard it phrased that way, but I have 100% had very religious people online contact me and say, “Well, if you don’t feel, you know, your natural womanly instincts, then then maybe you should be a nun. This is God calling you to a higher calling.” It’s like, “[nervously laughs] No.” So I definitely know there are religious people who do think that way, but when you don’t want to become a member of the cloth, but you also don’t want to enter into this societal expectation that you get a spouse and you procreate and you have the nuclear family, then it’s like, where does that sort of leave you in the religious context? Because you kind of have to pick one, in that sense, is what I’m hearing. And I did also like when you just considered yourself straight for a while, because I think that’s a really common experience as well. Not necessarily just straight, but I know some Aces who will even consider themselves to be bi, just because they equally don’t like both sides.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: And it’s kind of the compulsory sexuality of the world, where you just are assumed to have a sexuality [laughs slightly] and that you will have these feelings. So, it’s like, “Well, I guess I can default to straight.”

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: But that’s really, really interesting. So, your family was pressuring you, and your community – you felt this pressure to be a certain way.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: How out are you right now as an Asexual? Do your family and friends and local community know this part of you at this point?

Tyger: Yeah, the people who are in my life, they know. I’ve let them know before. I don’t know how they know or how knowledgeable they are of Asexuality. My friends definitely know. Like, my friends are some of the coolest people. I just love them. They’re awesome. Yeah, my friends are really accepting. Like, they understand and they’re very knowledgeable, like LGBTQIA+ topics. Anyway, some of them are also LGBTQIA themselves. So they know as well. Like, it’s kind of weird, because Broken Arrow and Tulsa are really close; they’re literally in the same city. So Tulsa has a huge LGBTQIA presence, which was amazingly felt this year. And last year, we had the biggest Pride festival we had ever had, and it was like, everyone came together and there were Aces marching. So we were marching in the Pride parade with everyone, and it was just amazing.

Tyger: My friends understand and they’re fully supportive of me, and they don’t pressure me to do anything that I don’t want to do, because they understand my boundaries and everything. They’re totally respectful of that. And my family knows, and they’re respectful of that. I’ve let them know that, just, I have no intentions of that. I wouldn’t say, like, they’re heartbroken about it. My dad is just happy as long as I’m not getting into any trouble or any bad situations. My mom, kind of, is worried, ’cause, you know, moms always worry, they always worry, when they’re gone, like, who’s going to be there to take care of you –

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: – or who’s going to be there to look out for you, and stuff like that. Which is another thing, you know, we talk about as societal culture, being in the Bible Belt, is that it is very – while I do have a great relationship with friends and family, which is why I love them so much, breaking the amatonormativity is a huge factor, is a huge need, because relationships come in so many different forms. We talk about – in the Ace Community, we talk about queerplatonic partners, QPPs, we talk about what constitutes a family. Is it just, you’re born of blood? You share genetics? Like, husband/wife or partners – what counts as a family? What counts is your closest bonds. I remember – I never really liked this show, because it was just always, like, every single episode seemed to have a sex scene in it, every time – but I do remember one episode of Grey’s Anatomy that came out, which – I remember when Sandra Oh’s character, Cristina, was going and having an emergency procedure, she listed Ellen Pompeo’s character, Dr. Grey, and said, “I’m going to need you for a person to contact for the surgery in case something goes bad. I put your name down, because you’re my person.” And she said, “You’re [emphasizing] my person.” And you know, the relationship between those two have that kind of closeness and ability to have trust, that deep level of trust – those are the things that matter most to me. Does not matter the relationship, as long as I have such deep trust and belief and confidence and intimacy with you. That’s what matters most as a friend, and those are the kind of relationships that I look for. I’ve seen that. So in terms of being out, my friends know that. And trying to provide that relationship, personally, that’s kind of the hardest part of it all, is, like, having someone. Because all of them are wanting to have, like, relationships and mates and stuff like that. So it does kind of leave you in an outsider category of, “Okay, am I the third wheel? Or am I included in the conversation? Am I included in your life deeply like that?” So.

Courtney: Yeah. And there is a real anxiety for people who don’t want romantic relationships – whether they are explicitly Aromantic Asexual or if it’s just not something that interests them – that they will sort of be left behind, as it were, that they won’t be able to have friends who will sort of take that relationship to the next step and say, “We [emphasizing] are family. I [emphasizing] will be there for you no matter what.” But relationships like that do –

Tyger: [singing] “We are family!”

Courtney: Yes! And –

Tyger: [singing] “I got all my sisters and me!”

Courtney: And relationships like that are so, so beautiful. And I have very deep friendships. I have – I mean, before getting married, I absolutely had, you know, queerplatonic friends who we were each other’s emergency contacts. And so I can definitely relate to that. And you mentioned Grey’s Anatomy; my brain kept going to Golden Girls. I grew up with Golden Girls –

Tyger: That’s right! They’re great!

Courtney: And that is beautiful! All of those elderly women living together, who – they usually did have very fulfilling sex lives. They were often in relationships. But at the end of the day, they were the family. They were the ones they came home to and were always there for each other, no matter what. And I just adore that. And it really goes back to what you were saying earlier with “the friend zone.” Like, why are we treating friendship like a consolation prize? It’s beautiful! It is not second fiddle to anything. Friendship can be anything you want it to be.

Tyger: Yeah. Yeah. I just love that. Team Blanche, by the way. I just want to throw that out. [laughs]

Courtney: [laughs] Really? You’re Team Blanche?

Tyger: Yeah. But, yeah. Golden Girls, Team Blanche, go ahead. Love The Golden Girls. But yeah, I just always took it in that direction. So I guess my Bible Belt experiences have been, in a way – I don’t want to say the culture limits experiences like that. Like, I understand this is the way they’ve done it, because I understand, you know – I don’t want to be the elitist snobby person and, like, “You’re horrible. Your views are horrible and shameful, and you need to change and become a better person,” and, you know, lecturing –

Courtney: [snobby tone] “My views are more evolved.”

Tyger: “I’m cosmopolitan. I’m urbane.”

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: And, you know, much more enlightened, obviously, right? So I don’t want to do that. But I would say, in Bible Belt culture, especially when it comes to – we talk about this often – like having families, it’s hard. Like, I understand, for non-heteronormative people, or people who aren’t part of heteronormative relationships, but they’re still – like, we always have to talk about, like, relationships come in so many different forms and they’re all fulfilling. It doesn’t – the people who are in it don’t matter. It’s the qualities of the relationship that count. And that’s the thing that a lot of people don’t understand. Like, “No, no, no, you have to be like this. It has to be this way, has to look this way. It’s got to look right according to my schema in my mind. Otherwise, it’s not right.” And obviously, you can have so many different relationships that have the exact same qualities, and I guarantee you they would be just as fruitful as any. We just don’t allow them to exist in the way that they should be allowed to flourish. For example, if I were to buy a house, it would be hard for me to buy a house for one single person. But if I put a friend of mine and we were, let’s say, two of us were – I’m a guy and he’s masculine-identifying, then that would be a little bit of a hard sell for a lot of people, because it would be two people of the quantifiably same gender living together, even though it’s just like, doesn’t have to be anything sexual or anything like that. A lot of people tend to make that assumption, that if you’re close with somebody, it’s a sexual relationship. It’s like, it’s not! It’s just that closeness that’s a factor.

Courtney: It is such a weird assumption that, yes, people do make, and when you’re younger it’s especially if it’s, like, a boy or a girl – and that starts even at age three or four – adults will be like, “Oh, look, she’s got herself a little boyfriend.” But –

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: Do you feel like, because of that sort of societal decision that your intimacy can only go too far before it becomes romantic and/or sexual – because of that, do you feel like it is harder for, I guess, men to to have those deep friendships? Because I feel like the trope is that girls can be really close, but boys, hmm.

Tyger: Yeah. I think it’s the socialization factor of it. I think it’s just, you know, guys are not supposed to hug or anything like that, or even have to come up with our own special hug, like our bro hug, like, [deep voice] “Yeah. Yeah.”

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: You know, bro hug, and be like, “It’s not a hug. It’s a different type of – It’s a bro hug.”

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: And, you know, bromances and stuff like that. They had to come up with bromances when in reality, it’s just like, no, you just have a really great relationship with this other person. It’s nothing to apologize, to try to, you know, explain away with connotation. It’s just, you have a relationship with that person. Don’t even. If anyone tries to shame you, that’s a reflection of them –

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: – not of y’all. So, why would being happy – if they’re trying to rain down on your parade, that speaks a lot to them, about them wanting to be a rain cloud [laughs] at that point. So. So that’s, I guess, that’s the factor we just always put in it, because men can be – women can be in relationships, and they can have gal pals and girlfriend time. And there’s even a show called Girlfriends that I watched when I was younger, and it was like, you know, just four women hanging out together, sharing their stories and having fun. It was like, you know, Sex and the City was the same way. It was a bunch of women just hanging out together, sharing their stories, having fun. And they were, you know – even their closest relationships were with each other. Even though they were having intimate sexual relationships with different men, it was always the four of them together, and it was never seen as a sexual thing. It was always just seen like, that’s just, you know, being crew. That’s their crew.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: You know, they just hang out. Guys tend to – guys have a – even though I wouldn’t say all guys do this, I’d say in different contexts, it would be different. Like, when I was on sports teams, it was like, you were a crew, because we were bonding over a sport. Or if you’re in a music group, then you’re bonding because you’re a music group. So, like, all four musicians – like One Direction, four guys together and we’re all, you know, in the same crew. Or BTS, we’re all crew because we’re four guys, we are musicians, so we bond over a specific job or purpose. Whereas women just bond because they like each other and just want to spend time with each other, men always have to explain it with a purpose as to why we’re together. And it’s like –

Courtney: Yeah, you need to rationalize it to outsiders.

Tyger: Yeah, which is something that I’ve always found really limiting. It’s like, we just hang out – like, the guys and I, we hang out, we go to trivia night, so I guess that’s our specific purpose. We love doing trivia nights, and we’re pretty good at it. [laughs] [stage-whispering] Not supposed to brag. [regular voice] But actually.

Courtney: [laughs] Hey, listen, you can brag all you want. [laughs]

Tyger: Me dusting off my shoulders. But yeah, so we bond over that, and we have bond-ships and stuff like that. But we’re also – we share a lot of deep intimate things about each other. Like moments, I’ve seen my best friends at some of their hardest moments in life. They’ve seen me at some of my hardest moments in life. These are people I could run to in a crunch to just be like, “I need some help right now. I need something right now,” because I just could use that person to cry.

Courtney: Everyone should have that.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: I think everyone deserves a community in that sense.

Tyger: Yeah. We talk about that often, with men and lacking of relationships. I was reading a book about men and not being able to be vulnerable and how a lot of psychologists tend to think that’s why suicide rate for men is so much higher than for women. Even though women may thoroughly more plan out suicides, but the suicide attempt rate for men is much higher than women, because it’s just like, we are less likely to do relationships, we’re more likely to be loner wolves or lone rangers, and that’s how society tends to look at us and say, like, “You got to do it, solve your own problems and be a man and be tough and pull yourself up. Don’t cry. Don’t be a wuss.” You know? I got those same things as well whenever I used to cry. I’d get those same things also, like, “Don’t cry. Don’t be a wuss. You gotta be tough. Be a man.” And those sort of things where we appreciate emotion in men and then we tend to want men to be emotional, but you can’t shame them at the same time –

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: – and say that men who are emotional… or they want him to open up more, and then say, like, you shame them whatever they do, right? So that’s just, I don’t know, it’s that toxic masculinity. I’m not the person to ask that, I’m not a sociologist, but, you know, that’s just personal trope, all that. And you gotta have men have a parameter to open themselves up and then share, and you can’t just go back and shame them on that. So that’s another thing. And framing that in the larger context with men in my state, the man’s supposed to be, like, the provider, the winner, the tough one, and everything like that. And you know, when you’re not that or you’re not the toughest person, you know, the shame comes from that. And that’s another thing of biblical, like, Bible Belt Christianity, I guess, in Oklahoma, which is, like, men are supposed to be, like, these conquerors, these “go out and go get them,” because there’s a weird trope of that coming back to like the sexual component, like, men are supposed to pursue the women. And even though there’s a “wink-wink and a nod-nod” factor – like women, I know you could explain it. Like, you know, women are supposed to be abstinent and chaste and everything, but guys are like… There’s a little bit of a weird notion within the culture at large. Like if a guy hasn’t gone all the way with a woman by a certain age limit, it kind of becomes weird. I guess it’s because – it speaks to that whole aggressive dominance thing. Like women don’t want to –

Courtney: Yeah, it’s contradictory because society does kind of tell you both things at the same time. [laughs]

Tyger: Yeah, and it also is very limiting, obviously, to a lot, like, to women who have a sexuality.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: Like, you know, women are our targets and men are supposed to shoot ’em, I guess. Shoot ’em down or something? I don’t know how that’s supposed to be – I don’t even understand – like conquest. Like, I don’t get – when are we playing war? What war are we in? Like, [laughs] I’m trying to figure that out. But women have things done to them; men do things, I guess, is another thing that a lot of people tend to have. I was reading articles from years ago about men who didn’t understand, like, women have, like, sexual urges as well. And they have different sexual fantasies. And a lot of men who grew up in church are like, “I didn’t know that was a thing.” When I was growing up, I just always thought, like, women were just, you know, dainty and stuff like that. I remember hearing someone who was talking about demisexuality and was like, “So in other words, that’s just a woman.”

Courtney: Mmm. Mhm.

Tyger: And it’s like, “No. And obviously, you’ve never met some of the women I’ve met.” Because I’ve known some really sexual women in my life. They love having sex. And that whole pendulum curve of allowing people to be people – that’s one of the things that in Bible Belt and conservative circles, it’s fulfilling the archetype, not allowing the person to fulfill themselves. That’s the thing that hurts me the most. And one of the things I wrote in my article – I’ll link it, I’ll link my article –

Courtney: Oh, yeah. Everything will be in the show notes for any of our listeners.

Tyger: So, that was one of the things that – when we were talking about, like, okay, so men are expected to be really, really, really, really sexual, and women are expected to not be sexual, not even think about it. And like, there’s obviously so much in the middle. Everyone has so much and everyone has – like, sexuality’s so diverse that you can’t just limit it in such a [snaps] one-size-fits-all category.

Courtney: Yeah, and it’s all very gendered as well, in these ideal religious family archetypes as well. It’s, “This is the man’s role. This is the woman’s role.” And not only is that difficult for everyone who doesn’t feel like the man who’s going to be the head of the household, he’s going to be the religious leader for his family and the breadwinner and aggressively sexual, and the woman is going to be submissive – like, there are people who just have natural personalities that are going to go outside of those.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: But also, where does that leave all of the nonbinary people?

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: Because that also is another complicating factor. Just queerness in general is really difficult when you put it in those religious contexts. And it almost seems, as well, to me – I’ve noticed when you go back to the idea of chastity, where it’s almost as if these religious circles are telling you, “Yes, you should have a sexual desire, and you should suppress it,” almost like they want you to suffer. Like, “This is your religious penance until the time is right.” [laughs]

Tyger: Yeah, I think it’s kind of weird. I’ve had a lot of people who, when they had their first on their wedding nights, or heard of people who were like, “It was so difficult to let the cat out of the bag, finally.” Because it’s like I was saying, it was bad, it was bad, it was bad, it was bad, it was bad. And then you’re expected to just [snaps] turn the switch and be like, it’s on, and people were like, “I couldn’t do that. Like, it was just not easy for me. There were so many things of, like, compatibility factors that this didn’t get into.” This was one of the things that I was really glad I didn’t fulfill the script in, because if I had gotten into a relationship with someone who was really expecting that, I wouldn’t have been able to fulfill those expectations as a person, especially as someone who is male. I wouldn’t be able to do that, because I just don’t even think about wanting to have sex with someone. Not that I can’t, obviously – like, it’s not an impotency factor – but it’s just like, that doesn’t cross my mind to do that. Like, the idea of me wanting to do that – because personally, on my end, I identify – I would say I’m more sex-repulsed. Like, I’m not super grossed out, like “Ugh! This is so disgusting! Like, vomit,” I think everything is disgusting or I think people are disgusting. It’s just like, if it’s me, I don’t want any part of it. Like, it’s cool, you do you, it’s great and all that if you want to do that. But for me, I’m just off the books. It’s off-limits.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: Sorry. I’m not gonna do it. It’s like, someone who would explain to me said, like, “If someone liked a rare steak, and they liked steak and it was rare with the blood in it, I’m like a person – once I see blood, I’m like, I’m not gonna touch it. I’m sorry.” [laughs]

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: Once I see blood in it or something like that, it’s like – and they like their steak completely rare and wanted to eat that, and then they said, “You’ve got to try it, and you’ve got to eat it, and you’re gonna like it.” That’s where the dogmatism comes in. And it’s like, “No. I don’t want that. I don’t. Please don’t.” And it’s like, “Keep it away.” It’s like, I’ve always had a thing where I’ve never liked pizza rolls or pizza squares, those hot pockets and stuff like that.

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: I am not a person who ever liked those.

Courtney: I’m sure people have given you plenty of guff over that.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: Because [mocking] “Everyone loves a good pizza roll, don’t they?”

Tyger: Yeah, so people – I try – I just got, like, “No, If I wanted pizza, I’d actually just order a pizza –”

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: “– and I’d just order a pizza and just go get it.” So I could never eat those, and it’s like, ugh, I get kind of like, “ugh.” But other people, if they want to eat them, go for ’em!

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: And I’m like, “Go for it. Go ahead and have it. I’m not gonna shame you over it.” Because a lot of people who don’t know Asexuality or don’t know what it means, like, “Are you going to shame us because you’re not sexual? Are you going to shame me for my sexual purpose?” It’s like, no, I have no desire to be your judge, jury, executioner, because I am totally going to be the most imperfect one. So…

Courtney: Yeah, that’s actually such a good metaphor for Asexuality, is what food do you not like. Because I’m vegetarian. I have been for, like, 17 years, 18 years. It’s been a minute. And most people aren’t going to intentionally be trying to shove meat in my face, like holding the fork up to my mouth. But there are some of them out there that have done that. But a lot of people will at least be like, “But don’t you like meat?” Like, “But it’s so good!”

Tyger: “It’s amazing!”

Courtney: And it’s like, people do that with sex too. Like, “You don’t want –”

Tyger: It’s like, “It’s the best thing in the world!”

Courtney: Yes! [laughs]

Tyger: I know. “It’s the greatest thing in the world!” Yeah, I’ve heard that sometimes, like, “But sex is like – everybody loves sex!” And that’s one of the things that, like, even in my Bible Belt circles, when I was going to school, everyone was like, “Everybody loves sex. Everybody loves sex. Everybody loves sex.” Well, apparently, I’m nobody. I don’t hate sex, obviously. I don’t have any relationship to it, because obviously, I’ve never done it. But it’s like, I don’t want to do it. But everyone says everyone’s supposed to, so that little bit of part of me is still something I’m trying to break down to this day. It’s like, everyone keeps saying, like, “You’ve got to have sex. You gotta do it. You got to go at least try it once, right? You gotta try it! Maybe you’ll like it.”

Courtney: Yeah.

Tyger: And that’s something, like, you don’t understand. Like, there are a lot of –

Courtney: Like why would I, if I just don’t want to! [laughs]

Tyger: Another thing is, like, there are plenty of things other humans don’t try. I don’t think most humans try skydiving out of planes, but, you know, no one says to someone who’s never skydived out of a plane, “You’ve got to try skydiving.” It’s more like, “Okay, you like skydiving. And I don’t skydive. Cool.” Or I don’t think most people go do rodeo and try to bull ride, professional bull-riding, right? But – which is a popular sport in Oklahoma, obviously, but you know, people who do professional bull-riding, I’m not doing that. Once I see a bull, I’m getting out of this stadium. My sign is a Taurus. I’m not about to try to fight a bull, folks. No way.

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: No way. So if you like bull riding, go for it, though. If that’s something you love doing, go for it. It’s just not gonna be for me. [laughs] The same thing –

Courtney: I somewhat grew up in the rodeo myself. The only bulls I’ve ridden were mechanical though.

Tyger: Yeah. So on that end, I guess that’s kind of one of the things. And then also on the end of, like – I wouldn’t want to throw race into this, but also, being Black also kind of factors into that as well, ’cause, like –

Courtney: Yes, that’s such an important intersection. I was hoping you’d bring it up because I want to talk about that some too.

Tyger: Yeah. So, like, obviously – I mean, I’m a mixture of like so many different worlds. I’m like all different cultures heading at once. Obviously, coming from Bible Belt culture, that influences me. Coming from the South, that influences me. Coming from America, that obviously influences me. And then also, most importantly, I can’t dismiss this, because I will never be able to dismiss my skin tone: I’m Black. So, and I’m – obviously, my race and the culture of being Black in America, also, like, factors in. So, there’s so many things you learn. And being a Black person, especially a Black man – because that’s also a big part of that as well. Black women have a different section. I know I’m not a perfect authority to speak to on that end. But as a Black guy, I also get them as well, because I grew up, you know, in the culture – like, I love music and I love hip-hop, R&B – still love it, the culture and the art form – but it’s, when you grow up loving hip-hop and R&B, you know, a lot of the music is going to be about, like, sex and doing it, you know? Romance, love, sex, all of that kicks in, and it’s just something that is intrinsic. It’s cultural. Because, I mean, you know, it’s amatonormative, so it’s across all cultures, but definitely in Black culture, you know, being sexual is the expectation.

Courtney: What are some – in your eyes, what are some unique considerations about being a Black Asexual man that you think that maybe the average white listener of this podcast might not have been exposed to? What is something about that intersection that we really need to talk about more?

Tyger: So I think first off, I just think we gotta preface this. So my experience is my experience. I’m not – you can run across a million Black men and you’ll get a million different answers, but I will speak on my own. So, I know we’re not monolithic in any way, shape, or form. There are so many different shades of being a Black person and, you know, the same type of Black person that’s like Usher, and then you have Katherine Johnson – yeah, a NASA scientist in Hidden Figures. So, well, diverse within even our own community that – and it’s all Black all the same. But I do think in a similar factor, one of the things that I tend to run across, there’s like two different types of Black men that were portrayed on television when I was a kid. And I call it the Fresh Prince and Carlton effect.

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: So the Fresh Prince was held as the cool guy, got all the ladies, is a ladies’ man, particularly because it’s heteronormative, obviously, so he was a cool guy. Got all the mates, got all the attention, attraction, people wanted to be him, people wanted to be with him. He was the person that was, like, ran the show and was the orchestrator. So people were like, “That’s the person you want to be,” kind of like Eddie Winslow from Family Matters. And then you have Carlton and Urkel.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: And Carlton is dorky, not really smooth, kind of clumsy, awkward, kind of like Urkel was versus his Stefan counterpart, where he was, like, cool with the glasses and had the fly outfits and dressed awesome, and Urkel wore the overalls and glasses and stumbled with the, [Urkel voice] “Did I do that?”

Courtney: Yeah. It’s like there’s a switch to flip. There’s no in-between.

Tyger: Yeah. So everyone kind of wanted to be that, which is kind of funny because Urkel had Laura and Myra. And I love Myra, actually, better than I did Laura, but that’s another thing. [laughs] But yeah, those are the two types of stereotypes. It’s like, you got to be the really fly guy or you’re going to be the really, like, dork.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: And there’s, like, no middle ground of that. Or, you know, even breaking down what’s wrong with being dorky or nerdy. There’s nothing to feel ashamed about, about being a nerd or being a dork or, you know, something like that. We tend to look at those who are into, like, nerdier pursuits, like the academic studies, studious, nerdy type and be like, “Not cool.” I mean, I look at the people – the people that I looked up to as some of the greatest heroes in the world were, like, super nerds and stuff like that. One of my biggest heroes of all time was George Washington Carver, and what he was doing as a scientist and able to break ground in the field of science was something that I always looked up to, the same way I looked up to James Baldwin or Audre Lorde, how they changed using like art and poetry, and I thought those people cool, and stuff like that.

Tyger: But a lot of people look up to artists and musicians – and I have no shame in doing that because I’m like, I looked up to the same artists as well. Like, my favorite artist growing up was Usher. Every wedding has probably played “Yeah” at a wedding before. “Yeah!” And I used to sing and dance to Usher when I was younger. So I remember – which is kind of funny now, looking back – but I did, like, I looked up to that. Then I got older and things kind of changed. And I wanted to be like more of the people I was studying, like Ralph Bunche, who was the first African American man to win the Nobel Prize, and he helped negotiate the Peace Accords between Israel and Palestine and kind of settled the area, for the moment, between Israel and Palestine. So Ralph Bunche was actually one of the first Black men to win a Nobel Prize. And I look up to them and I say, “Wow, those are incredible heroes.”

Tyger: And I’m like, you know, including that in the fabric of conversation, what it means to be Black and what it is to define Black – I don’t want to say, like, we’ve defined it bad, like I’m not going to shame the culture, but, like, the definitions of what it means to be “truly Black” or “Black-Black,” like, we’ve had to discuss. And I’m not the person to be the one to have that discussion obviously, because it’s like, it’s a discussion we all got to have, but like, when we define what it meant to be Black, we always meant it to be cool. Like, you know, “Orange is the New Black,” so “Black” means to be cool. But really, Black is our experience, my experience, through those lenses. That’s one of the things that I think we have to, like, get out of the context of thinking, it’s like being Black is cool; rather, it’s just my lived experience, and it’s all the things that come from being it, which is, you know, I’m Black, I’m Asexual – that frames a lot of different things, especially when I, like, am culturally involved, like being involved in the culture.

Tyger: Because so much of the culture is determined by, like, sexual prowess, and, like, your worth is defined by your sexuality. So it’s like, one of those things, like, we’re breaking even a stereotype – a super stereotype in terms of Black Asexuality, which comes from a long history. And I actually discussed that in my article about the history of why being Black is seen so stigmatizing in terms of sexuality, because it’s like, we’ve had – that wasn’t even defined. Even our parameters weren’t defined for a long time by ourselves, about being Black and and all that. Because, you know, you look at the Jezebel myth and the – you look at Birth of a Nation and how that was defining “Black,” which was like Black and sexual, and then aggressive and dangerous, and stuff like that.

Courtney: Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned, you know, the Jezebel stereotype, because the really unfortunate thing is the sort of branding of minority identities, which is a tool of white supremacy. It is in itself, an issue. But here you are at the beginning of this saying, like, “This is my experience. We’re not a monolith.” But the really unfortunate truth is that broader society will see a minority person and decide, “This isn’t a single individual. This is a representative of their entire race or their entire ethnicity.”

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: And when it comes to Black bodies, usually gendered Black women and Black men, society has its own stereotypes for those as well, which are very often centered around their relationship to sex.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: And could you describe, just for any listeners who maybe aren’t aware of the Jezebel stereotype, sort of what that entails?

Tyger: Yeah, I can do that. I’ll take a little story time. My friends and I went to a museum in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Museum of Modern Art, which is incredible. Loved it. Loved the trip. Loved Minneapolis. We did it in December, right as it was snowing 10 inches of snow. We went to the museum.

Courtney: [laughs] Sounds like Minnesota.

Tyger: Yeah. And it was beautiful. And there were art paintings from contemporary African American painters, for – discuss about different stereotypes, and one of the pictures was titled “Jezebel.” It was a woman who was lying back, basically kind of lying there, and it was in a sultry kind of pose, kind of like the “sultry vixen” stereotype. When I was growing up, there was this thing called the “video vixen” or the “hip-hop honey,” what they called on that end. Like, you gotta be a “honey” or a “video vixen,” because it was like, the women in hip-hop music videos – they would always feature some woman, you know, usually, like, twerking or, like, shaking their derriere or something like that, being really sexually engaged, or like, the focus would be on the women trying to be super sexually enticing. That was the stereotype. Like, it was seen as a warning knell, especially as a tool of white supremacy. It was a warning tool for, like, “Men, stay away from her –

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: – because she’ll take you down and she’ll lure you into her evil clutches and she’ll ruin you and take you down like a bird to a snare trap.”

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: And it’s like one of those things of, like, “Those are dangerous women.” And it frames like Black women’s sexuality as something dangerous, especially – like there are two different types of Black women that are usually framed. There’s like, if they’re, like, attractive by conventional, modern beauty standards, they’re the Jezebel; they’re a person you’ve got to steer clear of. Their sexuality is super aggressive, violent – or not really violent, but more like a trap, like we call “thirst traps” now, I guess?

Courtney: Vindictive…

Tyger: Yeah. Like, we got thirst traps now, so I guess the “trap” –

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: – like, the trap is laid, and then they pull you in, and you got to steer clear of them because they’ll take your, I guess, moral virtue or something. And then you have the Mammy, which is like the heavyset Black woman, who’s, like, only there to cook and clean and do dishes and laundry, and not really possessing a sexuality at all, because no one would think of wanting to be sexual with her, really.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: It’s kind of like the – I remember when the Betty Boop came out, the Betty Boop cartoon came out, and actually, there was actually a model, Betty Boop, who was a Black woman, with the curves and everything –

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: – and that was actually kind of what the stereotype of Betty Boops were supposed to be like, that look of, like, the Jezebel, kind of the snare trap. But she was obviously made white. So it’s a little bit more, you know, just like attractive without being seductive, you know, all the negative things thrown at the Black –

Courtney: It’s the difference between, like, the evil seductress and, like, the pin-up girl.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: White pin-up girls are allowed to be sexy but still retain a level of innocence in the eyes of society.

Tyger: Yeah. Like, Judy Garland was a known hardcore drug addict. And she had, like, cocaine addictions, I think. But then, Billie Holiday is the stereotype enemy and has to be taken down with her opium addictions. Watching the United States vs. Billie Holiday, Andra Day did an amazing portrayal of that. But that’s the portrayal. Like, Judy Garland can be an addict and we gotta help her get over addiction, but Billie Holiday, she’s just a druggie with nasty intentions, so we can’t really do anything for that. And that’s the thing, for the double standard for being Black, especially as a woman with a sexuality.

Tyger: Meanwhile, as a guy, there’s the Mandingo myth, which is, you’re supposed to be really buff, strong, like, keep your women away from them because they’ll, like, try to go after your woman or something like that. They’ll take your woman. You know, the Black man, and there’s a slave master and the white woman sleeping with him, and stuff like that, or – That’s kind of the thing about it. We always talk about those different stereotypes. I mean, what, Thomas Jefferson had, like, six kids from Sally Hemings, who was a slave. And that’s something that’s not often liking to be discussed in history because, like, we like to hold up pure virtue and innocence of great leaders, and our leaders tend to be always white. But the woman is still – especially if she’s Black – she’s to blame, right?

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: And obviously that’s something, the woman did it. And especially if the woman is Black, then it’s, “she really did it, and she’s awful and evil for it.” And then if it’s on the other end, Black men are just naturally aggressive, super sexual predator, stuff like that. So when they meet me, obviously, like, it’s a bust of a stereotype.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: And, you know, when it’s Asexuality and Black culture, it’s a huge bust of a stereotype. ’Cause it’s like, I’ve always known. And I remember, I was just watching Blazing Saddles last week [laughs] with my mom. I was watching Blazing Saddles, because we love Blazing Saddles, you know? Even as offensive as that would be, we still just find the humor and jokes and stuff like that. But, you know, looking back in the history and cultural context – because it was supposed to make fun of that, you know, supposed to make fun, a satire of the racism and, like, certain parts of the Wild West in America, like, you know, having a Black sheriff, and I remember when the burlesque dancer tried to lure the sheriff into – the sheriff, who was Black – into her dressing room and then she closed the door to try to get a trap. And she goes – she flicks the light and she says, “Is it true what they say about you Black men, that you’re all gifted?”

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: And it’s like, “Ooh, you are. You are gifted.” And it’s like, that’s obviously a trail to something else, [laughs] not going to a little bit of a, you know, hot warning, you know, about “gifted,” about Black bodies.

Courtney: Yeah! I mean, Black men are also fetishized in that sense –

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: – and in society as well.

Tyger: Yeah, so, I mean, that’s something that is… That’s even something – like, I’ve heard in, like, talking about even in circles, like, in porn circles. Like, in the porn world, they say something called, like, a “BBC,” which is, you know, I’m not going to say the whole acronym on this podcast. [laughs]

Courtney: I will google that later. [laughs]

Tyger: Because I won’t say it on this podcast, but let’s just say it has something to do with certain… anatomy features.

Courtney: Oh, I think I just figured out what it is. Gotcha. I’m on the same page. [laughs]

Tyger: Certain anatomical features that, you know, African Americans –

Courtney: Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha. [laughs]

Tyger: – like myself, African American males like myself are supposed to be endowed with. Let’s just say that. Endowments. We’re getting –

Courtney: I see. It’s the anachronism of, [mocking] “Once you go Black, you never go back.”

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: Gotcha. [laughs]

Tyger: We’re going – we’re circling all around this. We’re just not going to say, okay? But yeah, that’s even a thing that – you know, for a Black person, that’s the thing, because it’s always about our body; it’s never about our mind. It’s just never about our, you know, internal beings, who we are, our personalities. Like, the thing that most people will think about is, like, if you’re really athletically gifted, so then – like, I played basketball, so I guess I did do the basketball part, played sports. I was an athlete. I loved sports. So, I’m a big junkie on that end. But it’s like, you know, you’re really athletically gifted, and you have certain body parts that are, like, the goal, you know? And I’m not going to, you know, do anything on my end or talk about that. But that’s the thing about it, is that it’s our bodies – it’s our bodies are commodified, are fetishized, sexualized from a very young age. And when it’s like – when you come out as Asexual, it’s like, people have a hard time believing that Black people can even be Asexual, because it’s like –

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: “No. No, that’s not a thing I ever thought Black people could be. Because it’s like, you know, Black people are just, they are, they’re supposed to be sexual. That’s what Black people are supposed to be.” You know? I’ve always learned that. It’s the stereotype about it and it’s like, “Well, I guess I’m totally different. I’m the one.” Right?

Courtney: Yeah. In those stereotypes – because as awful as it is –

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: – if someone who has only been exposed to stereotypes and hasn’t really existed in Black culture had really deep meaningful relationships with Black people in order to learn these things, someone could meet someone like you or another Black Ace person, and if their stereotypes are all revolving around sex, they could so easily, unfortunately, write you off and use that as, like, “Oh no, that can’t be true.” And it’s why it’s so important for there to just be more representation of real people like you putting yourself out there –

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: – so other people can see the diversity in the Black community and the Asexual community. But it’s also so important to get more diversity in just media representation. And you wrote a fabulous article about celebrating Black Asexuality in media. So what can you tell us a little bit about the importance of that and what you have and have not seen so far?

Tyger: Yeah. So, when I was growing up, there were no Asexual characters on television. There was – I mean, I was growing up in the advent. When I turned 19, I think The Big Bang Theory came out and Sheldon was seen as the Asexual character, which was problematic because it was like –

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: Sheldon, Dexter, Sherlock were all really, really awkward-y, like, especially pale white characters. And I don’t want to get into race and say that’s a bad thing, of having white Asexuality. I think we should have – all people should be allowed to be Asexual and themselves. And that was one of the things about it that was really scary, because it was like, okay, there were no Asexual people that looked like me. Growing up, when I was turning on the television, I would turn on, like, music videos. Every music video was talking about, like, trying to get a girl to twerk it, be a stripper, you know, slide down the pole, drop it low, pop that, you know, all that sort of stuff, and you know, show off your body. And, you know, that’s what they told you you have to do to be a man, especially a Black man. Like, that’s your work. That’s your dominant sexual way of obtaining power and status and acceptance in the world. No one was Asexual and Black on television. There just weren’t. I didn’t see anyone who was like that.

Tyger: I would have loved to have seen someone who’s just like that, because it would have been validation for me. Because I grew up just so confused. Like, “I’m not like any of these people on TV. I’m not like this person, that person. They just – I don’t feel like I belong anywhere.” And then I went to school and I didn’t feel like I really belonged. Like, most of my town – it’s, like, 97% white, something like that, like maybe 98, 97. And I obviously wasn’t white. And all the people that I grew up with who are also like that, everybody was having sex, and everybody was trying to have sex, and I didn’t feel like I belonged there. So I felt like I was really out of place. Like, “Where is the person who looks like me, and is like me? And where am I going to find that at?” And I went through all my high school just feeling so, you know, out of place. I really had – it took a long – like, finding confidence in that, and then it took me years. And while I thought I was at 19, but everyone kept trying to say, “No no no no no, Asxuality is not real. It’s not real. Like, no, you just gonna – you’ll find someone someday. You’ll change. You’ll change when you meet the right person,” or something like that. And years later, I never found anybody, because I was like, this is just – I don’t know what I am. And finally, I came along to it and found out I was Asexual. And it took a long time for me to even accept it, because I was like, I don’t know. I’ve never really seen anybody who’s like me be Asexual. I’m, like, the one Black person out of a million, you know, to be Asexual. And there just weren’t. I would have loved to have seen an Asexual character on television, or in music. You know, maybe I need to become an Asexual musician or something like that. I just got to get the skills and form a band and be the lead singer. I can sing, but I just need a band behind me, so.

Courtney: We would support and retweet. And once things are a little safer on the pandemic, we would come down to Oklahoma to see your show. I would love to see that.

Tyger: We need an Asexual –

Courtney: Yes Ace musicians. Yes! [laughs]

Tyger: We need an Ace band. We need to, like, form an Ace band, right now. I could be lead singer. I can do the singing and all that. I can do the singing. If anybody could play a couple of instruments, we got a couple people with instruments, we can form a band. [snaps] We need to put this out as a petition.

Courtney: Once upon a time, once upon a time. I’ve lost all my instrumental skills. I’ve been in a few bands before, usually in vocal, but I did play bass in a metal band, and I played bass in a punk band, and then I played drums in a glam band for a brief period of time. But it’s mostly vocals for me right now. And I’m sure you are a better singer than I am. [laughs]

Tyger: [laughs] We’ll have to put those to the test.

Courtney: How about this? We’ll make the Ace band, and I will be the vocal guest on a track.

Tyger: We’re putting a petition out there. If you are a musician and you’re Ace, we need you now. We’re putting in registrations. Just make sure you have to put an audition tape. A demo tape. Make a demo! And we’ll make a band.

Courtney: Yeah, let’s get it. I love it. A full Ace band. That’d be great. [laughs]

Tyger: Yeah. That would be awesome. So I – yeah, when I was growing up, there just weren’t. There just wasn’t, like, a musician, a band, anyone on television, anyone in media, anyone, like, there weren’t really really any books or literature characters that I could think of that were Asexual in any nature. Like everybody was – like, it really made it seem like we were not only incredibly invisible, but it was just – made it seem like not only were we not worthy of focus, like people thought it was unimportant, which is totally a lie, because we’re way important, and we have so much of the conversation about sexuality, and that’s one of the reasons I love being Asexual myself. But it just made it seem like this is something that no one is allowed to be, you know? It’s like no one is even allowed. Like, this is – like, yeah, we don’t put this in visibility because, like, no one – like, we don’t see anybody like that, or no one does anything like that, but it just made it seem like no one’s even allowed to be it.

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: And it’s just like, wait a minute. No, it was like an enforcement. Could we talk about compulsory sexuality? Like, everyone has to be sexual in some way. And it just made it seem like no one was ever allowed to step outside those parameters and make a new paradigm, and it just made it seem like, for me – I had to doubt myself because I was like, “Well, I don’t see anybody like this. I don’t even see myself in any of this. Am I even real? Am I even existing?” And I had doubts. I questioned everything. I thought, was I gay? And then I thought, like, “No.” And it’s like, maybe I just have some deep-rooted insecurities or some sort of issue inside. And I was like, “No.” Like obviously, people who have insecurities still have sex, obviously, but it’s like this is me. It’s me. And it’s like, when you don’t see that, when you don’t see yourself represented at all, it just feels like you’ve been erased out, like you’re not even counted as a whole person in some way. That was one of the things that, you know, gets to me.

Tyger: And I’m glad we’ve come how far we’ve come. Obviously, we’ve come a long way. We’ve made great strides in representation; we’re getting a lot more representation. But most of it is really internet-based. As much as I love the internet – and most people are just on the internet, so that’s really important – I would love to just have a television show the way Pose was for the drag culture, and how important it was to open people to drag and to seeing a transgender person for the first time, like, “Wow. They’re people. They’re normal people like me,” instead of just stigmatizing or, you know, erasing, or invalidating or, you know, xenophobically otherizing. Like, I don’t know if those people are… You know, I posted a tweet a long time ago, a long set of tweets about how Asexual discrimination in like media and stuff like that really factors in to see – like, this is really problematic, like, people start seeing us as less human. They see us as alien, like not from – like a third kind, Close Encounter of the Third Kind. And that’s one of the things that for me, I can’t wait. And I would love to be helping create that representation, or someone else to be like, “Hey, I’m Asexual. I’m here. We exist. We’re real.” You know, to be honest with you, Yasmin Benoit was that for me. Seeing a Black woman doing what she was doing and taking on all the stereotypes helped me come out as me.

Courtney: And she always says, you know, in interviews and articles, the same thing, where growing up, she didn’t see anyone like her. So that is the common thread here, for sure.

Tyger: Yeah. So it’s just like, you know, seeing more of us come out, there’s power in numbers. There’s power in visibility. It’s just not – it can’t be quantified. We all talk about – there was a literal Will & Grace effect that happened. I know a lot of people – you know, we could get into like problematic stereotyping of Will & Grace, and do a complete breakdown of Will & Grace, but what it did, Will & Grace, its positivity was that it saw people who are gay, people who are gay, as just people.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: Just like me. Just like anyone else. We have, we live life. You know, gay people, we just live life. Like, it just helped everyone see, like, there’s not a boogeyman to it. There’s not a, okay, problematic, or “I’m deeply scared of this person” thing, because “I don’t know who they are” or “I really don’t know much about them.” It provides knowledge. It provides awareness. Now, you have someone you could put a face to.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: You could put a face to who we are as an orientation. It’s like, “Yeah, I know what that is: this person, and they are cool, and I like them. And I like this person.” And, you know, a lot of people are saying, like, “How do you change attitudes?” That’s one of the biggest ways of doing that. And I just would love to see Asexual representation. And that’s why I like Legends of Tomorrow. When Spooner came out, there was so much validation. People were just like – you know, I remember a lot of people – it was like, she came out as Asexual and that just gave such a boost in the arm. Like, I feel happy that someone did that. When Jaiden Animations came out as Asexual and AroAce in her video. A lot of people were like, “I felt that way too, where I just didn’t see anybody for a long time and then I didn’t know how I was, and this is how I felt.” And everyone’s like, “I did that too. I was like that too.” And allow people to finally come out and be their true nature. And I just don’t understand why anybody would feel the need to try to hide that, [fake coughs] Ron DeSantis.

Courtney: [laughs] You are so right. It is so important. And when you talk about, you know, Spooner and Jaiden Animations, obviously, we have a fictional story versus a real person, but they’re also existing in two very different sort of niches. Jaiden Animations is huge on YouTube. If people aren’t into animation or don’t really engage in YouTube, I’m sure plenty of people have never heard of her. Spooner, that’s a very specific genre that not everyone engages in. And that’s why it’s important to have so much diversity in where the representation is coming from, too, ’cause I’d love to see it in all areas – just like you said, like, Ace musicians would be a new sort of thing that I haven’t seen on a wide scale yet.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: Because there are smaller – especially in, like, young adult queer fiction – there’s a lot of representation in young adult queer fiction novels, but that’s not a demographic for everybody.

Tyger: Yeah, and it’s more about – it’s exposure and airtime, I think, is a huge factor.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: Like, I remember last year – as I follow sports deeply, I remember last year, right at the beginning of Pride, the football player from the Raiders – his name’s Carl Nassib – he came out as gay. And he came out at a time… there had been obviously more gay players, gay NFL players, but he came out during when he was [emphasizing] playing and he was in the League, and he still is in the League. And Carl came out, didn’t have to do – didn’t deal with it in, like, a grand gesture. He just came out, put an Instagram, said, “I felt like it was the right time for me to finally come out, you know, to finally open up and just feel at peace of what I’m doing, because I just feel like it’s necessary.” But one of the things he also said, why he came out was because they wanted other gay players who play – whether they’re in high school or college or, you know, wherever they’re playing at – athletes who are, you know, supposed to be under this code of silence, this strict code of silence, like a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – Sports World.” Because, you know, you come out as gay and it’s supposed to, like, ruin your career, you get kicked off of teams, you’re no longer employed, most teams will steer clear of drafting you or signing you as a player to join their team. It was one of those things of, you keep it hidden, and maybe after your career is over you say something. But, you know, he did it in the middle of his career because he wanted so many players to realize: you can be a football player and you can be gay and it doesn’t have to to be one or the other. Like, you don’t have to lose your collective, I guess, soul, being a football player and go in the closet, but you can also be a really great player and still be gay, and it doesn’t – the two of them can fit and work exponentially. They’re both parts of you.

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: You’re a football player. That’s your job. But you’re also a human being. And a lot of people took that, and – I remember one tweet saying that all it took was one adult – one – just one supportive adult at school, and the risk of suicide for LGBTQIA people went down 40%. And he posting that out was the reason why the NFL donated a hundred thousand dollars to the Trevor Project. And I think, like, to put that into the mindset – because I know a lot of people got angry about that.

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: Like, there are certain sections of the population that get angry about anything LGBTQIA people are doing, whether we’re doing –

Courtney: Especially lately, it seems.

Tyger: Yeah. But that’s kind of one of the reasons why it matters to still get representation and airtime, no matter what the pushback is. One of the things that I see is, like, you don’t want the waters to recede. Because we’re talking about human decency. You can’t recede on human rights and human decency. You just can’t. You have to hold the line. And I remember when Ellen came out with her television show and she came out as gay. And, you know, we could talk about Ellen Degeneres and everything else, but when she came out as gay, I remember when right-wing groups tried to take her show off the air immediately when she did that. There were a lot of –

Courtney: Her career did take a hit right after that.

Tyger: Yeah. And –

Courtney: It took some time between coming out before she became the Ellen DeGeneres who had the talk show.

Tyger: Yeah, because Christian groups – like, I know I’m saying Christian, but like, there were right-wing Christian groups that I know by name and that I, when I was in church, I remember running into – that were like, “Take this off the air,” because it’s like, “This is wrong. It’s an abomination,” and stuff like that. All the religious language, you know, shrouded in just, “I don’t like it,” which is just shrouded in, “I just don’t like it, take it away because I think it’s icky to me.”

Courtney: Yeah.

Tyger: But that’s the thing that we ran into. I was just recently reading about a Kay Jewelers ad that got pushback because they had two men buying rings, and they were like, [mock horror] “Noooo!” And it’s like, if you don’t want to see it, just turn the channel. If you don’t watch it, then don’t watch it, you know? And I mean, I could always complain about that, because people are always talking about offending people’s sensitivities. I’m from Oklahoma. You drive down the highway, there’s usually a Jesus billboard.

[both laugh]

Tyger: When you drive, there’s a Jesus billboard.

Courtney: Mhm!

Tyger: Something like, “Text 1 if you want to go to heaven, text 2 if you want to go to hell.”

Courtney: Yup!

Tyger: And that’s kind of how that goes – drive anywhere in the state and you’ll find a Jesus billboard that no one complains. And yet people aren’t allowed to complain about that. But yeah, representation, though, on that end – because Ellen’s talk show helped people kind of get to know other people who are lesbians and other people who are like, “Okay, well, lesbians are just like anyone else.” Because, you know, the lesbian panic was like, they’ll sleep with anybody, really promiscuous, and stuff like that. It’s like, lesbians are just people who are just attracted. Or like, when, you know, even just not even talking about sex, take, for instance, Penn and Teller, when they came out. And both Penn & Teller, I think they’re both atheists. And seeing Penn & Teller, like, these guys are just cool. I didn’t think, you know… Or Stephen Fry or Ricky Gervais. And I could get into the problematic parts of Ricky Gervais for as long as it can be, but Ricky Gervais hosting the Golden Globes was just like, he’s just funny, and people just like him and it has nothing to do with religion. Or George Carlin being an atheist. Like, these are just funny people. And they make a lot of points.

Tyger: There’s not that much different. And people saying what’s different, down to the nuts and bolts of things, is very minute, very small, what’s different between us – because we’re all human. We all have human-based needs, wants, and hopes for ourselves. And all we want in the same life is usually the same things that we both want. We just tend to divide by that, usually either by politics or religion. We’re all human. We all have the same wants and needs and same – well, universally, to be accepted as who we all are is at the top of the list. And representation helps people see that, you know, this is just who we are as human beings, which is why they don’t even want us to have it.

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: Some people don’t even want to have it.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: Because they know when they see us as normal and they see the truth of that, we’re just normal, it takes the power away from them to stigmatize.

Courtney: Yeah. Ugh. Such good points. Thank you for that. And you mentioned the billboards, so I would be remiss if I didn’t just mention our little billboard anecdote. Because I came from Sioux Falls, South Dakota; we’re down in the Kansas City area now, so we’ve frequently made the drive between Kansas and South Dakota. And it’s a whole lot of nothing, but the billboards are so wild. And I feel like people outside of the Midwest or outside of the Bible Belt probably wouldn’t really understand.

Tyger: Yup!

Courtney: But when we’re driving between Kansas and South Dakota, the billboards you see will be like, “God hates you!” followed by “Jesus saves!” followed by, like, “Sex shop, next right.”

[both laugh]

Tyger: Oh man, that is literally a thing. That is so a thing. Which is – I mean, it is kind of funny. We do talk about, like, sex and religion kind of being tied together. Because that actually is kind of funny. Because the amount of people who have been caught, like, in religious circles doing that, because it’s so repressive –

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: It’s meant to be so confining that, like, any ability to let loose or have fun with it, you know – you almost have to step out of the religion altogether to even get to the fun part.

Courtney: Yeah!

Tyger: I’ve always said it like this: it’s like, people are really uptight about all that. I’m just always concerned, like, what do you – if you’re trying to represent for God and you’re this, who’d want to join? [laughs]

Courtney: Yeah!

Tyger: Who’d want to join at that point?

Courtney: Oh, yeah. You don’t have to tell us. We are very close to Westboro. [laughs]

Tyger: Yeah. Whoo, man. Yeah.

Courtney: Yeah.

Tyger: Living in Kansas those two years, we had to avoid that.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: Yeah, I was like, who’d want to join? And then, like, all that people would see is nothing but pure hate, and –

Courtney: Hate.

Tyger: And if all the people see is hate, then where do they see you have love in your heart?

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: Because it’s not really there. It’s hard to have a lot of love when you’re always hating something, right?

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: So that’s a big key factor into everything else. The representation – not only making it well-rounded, because it just can’t just be, like, stick Asexual person in one episode, done. It has to be, you know, showing there’s a journey of a person, a growth, a metamorphosis, an evolution of the character.

Courtney: It has to be a person people can love, people want to root for and can get behind. Because that’s where empathy comes from – when you see a character that you just love.

Tyger: Yeah.

Courtney: Even if there’s a part of them that you’re still learning about or you don’t totally understand. Like, if you love them, that’s the first step.

Tyger: Yeah. It’s really one of the key factors on it. I mean, I don’t want to undersell real human representation – like, actual humans still make an absolutely massive worth. Like, especially, we could talk about transphobia and how particularly, I think it was a study that said, like, three out of ten people have ever met a trans person before.

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: So that’s something we could talk about, and how not meeting someone tends to lead to greater stigmatization. Because if you’ve never met them, you’ve never had to brush shoulders with them, you’ve never had to shake hands with them or walk next to them, then you are more likely to have different opinions, because you’re always at a distance with them.

Courtney: All you have to go off of are the stereotypes at that point.

Tyger: Yeah. I always say like this – because I come from a religious family, so I tend to know the Bible pretty well because we had to read it quite often. One of the things that happened when Peter denied Jesus was that he was at a distance. Think of that; he denied knowing Jesus at a distance.

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: When he was close, he couldn’t deny it, but when he was at a distance, he did. So that’s another thing. Living distant from other people, getting to know other people – that’s another thing of, like, trying to section off in Bible Belt country and brain drain and stuff like that, like, it makes people less likely to congregate in areas so everyone can get to know multifaceted experiences. And when you get one perspective for your whole life, which I did – I hardly ever met any gay people in my town; there was like one or two that were out.

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: That was something that, like, most people didn’t even want to get around. It was kind of like Moonlight in that way, where everyone kind of, like, knew people were gay, but it was the thing you dare not speak.

Courtney: Mmm.

Tyger: So when you have that, it only leads to further harm for everyone else. And I always say it to my allies, my straight friends who are allies, like, “This hurts you too. These bills, and stuff like that, that are coming out, all the stuff that’s going on in the country, it hurts you in the long run too.”

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: “It doesn’t just hurt us. It hurts you, because you’re now losing the ability to gain great perspective from us. And not only that, it also limits the ability to gain great perspective on how you work.”

Courtney: Yeah.

Tyger: “Because as we open up, we open up the box so you can live in it –”

Courtney: Mhm.

Tyger: “So you can live out of it.” You know? When I was growing up, I had to feel the need to be really – you had to live up to that stereotype of being a Black guy, and really, like, really aggressive, and you had to act tough. And as the saying – you know, as we say in Black culture, “You gotta be hard. You gotta be hard.” And that was something like, you know, I could never do that! I was never… I’m from a suburb. I’m from the ’burbs. [laughs] I am not a tough guy.

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: I’m pretty sure that probably five-year-olds could beat me in a fight. But, I mean, let’s just, you know, throwing that out there, hand on a Bible, I’m not going to fight a five-year-old – but I am totally a pushover when it comes to getting in fights. I’ve never been in a fight. I’m not trying to get into fights. I’m not gangsta either, so, you don’t expect me to brag about, like, me, you know, shooting guys and talking about like I’m from, you know, Grand Theft Auto or something like that. [laughs] That is not me. Not me. I am from the ’burbs. I have lived in the ’burbs all my life. I am just a Black nerd from the suburbs.

[Courtney laughs]

Tyger: And that’s who I am, you know? I can’t fake it, and I don’t have shame in it, you know. A lot of people are like, “You live in the ’burbs,” or something like that. No! I take great pride. And, you know, my parents raised me in a really good home. And, you know, I can talk about the culture I was raised in, but I do love my family, what they did. So they were really great. And we had our problems and stuff like that, like everyone else, but I do love that they raised me in it. But it was a very strong limit on getting to know everything else out there. And when you get one perspective only and not learn other people’s vistas, it robs you of the beauty of life. Learning everything else about me, learning that I was Asexual, has opened my world. It’s opened myself to be me. It’s made me a more confident me. It’s made me a better me. It’s made me less inhibited in my own self.

Courtney: That’s beautiful. I do think our time is starting to come to an end, which I’m upset about. This has been such a wonderful, wonderful conversation. But I definitely do want to ask if there are any specific final thoughts you want to make sure you get out, if there are any projects or places people can find you that you want to plug.

Tyger: Yeah. Well, I guess the one thing I’ll just say is, you just got to get to know us, just get to know us, and if I’m the one that you need to get to know Asexual through – Asexuality, or you want to know about Asexuality and you come across it like “I’ve never heard this” and you just want to learn a little more, I’m willing to educate you. And I think that’s something that’s often lost in this, is so many people may not even be educated on issues. And if you’re new to this – like I was, and like so many of us were – it takes time to learn it, and I’m willing to walk you through it. I’m always willing to take anybody’s hand and be like, “Let me walk you, teach you about what Asexuality is. Let me talk to you, as long as you just got a receptive ear and are willing to listen.”

Tyger: I know a lot of people – because this comes off as, like, “Are you just hating on this culture, or hating on Bible Belt culture?” It’s like, no. No, I don’t. I really think there’s just a lot of – I think every culture has its benefits, beauty, and its bad, you know? Good and bad. And I think you’re going to meet people, as people are people, you know, regardless of culture. And if you’re just willing to listen and just be like, “Let me teach you about this. I’m willing to be the one.” And I’m willing to go out there and be like, “Let me teach you a little bit.” And I will educate you. I’ve done education talks before on Asexuality. Speaking of which, TED Talks, if you ever need a person for Asexuality, [whispers] look for me, [speaking] okay? Just throwing that out there.

Courtney: Yeah, I’ll vouch for that! That would be great.

Tyger: Yeah. So I’m always willing to educate and teach and have everyone learn about Asexuality and just about sexuality and gender identity in general. I’m all about it, and I’m here for it. So just get to know us. Come to us if you need any answers. Don’t claim to be an expert or say, like, “I learned about this from someone who’s not even a representative or someone who obviously might have an agenda to push,” or something like that. That’s how, like, phobia kicks in, is when people claim to speak, but then, like, they don’t really know about the issue. Like, we know the issue. I’m not saying other people don’t, or, like, really good experts… There are really great scientists – Dr. Bogaert, Dr. Brotto in Canada are doing incredible work. I talked with my friend who just did an exposé paper. But come to know us too. Come to know us as well. We can help you out a great deal.

Tyger: And if you are looking to find me, just find me anywhere. On Twitter, I’m most active, so you could find me – Twitter handle name @TygerSongbird. I consider myself The Songbird. There’s a long story behind the name. If you want to learn that, I could teach you about why I made myself TygerSongbird. And you could just kind of find me, and we can have a good discussion and talk more, and I’m always willing to chat with you. Sometimes I come off a little bit – [laughs] a little bit aggressive on my talks. But hey, I’m always willing to have them here. And if you’re just willing to have just a genuine, genuine, sit-down conversation with me, I’m here, so. And I think any Ace – if you’re not too well-versed on Asexuality, feel free to come to us, and we got you.

Courtney: Wonderful. Thank you so much for that. And again, for all of our listeners, we are going to have all of those social media handles, links to the articles we’ve referenced – those are all going to be in the show notes. And we’ll also be sharing some things out on our Twitter, @The_Ace_Couple, as well. So if you’re already following us there, then we’ll get you hooked up with TygerSongbird as well. So, it was such a pleasure. This has been a wonderful conversation. I want to thank you again for joining us. And until next time, we will talk at you guys all later.