1.) For some reason there is often little to no respect granted to the "B" in the LGBTQ community. Have you found it difficult being an advocate for the bisexual community? If so, in what ways?
It‘s really interesting. I didn’t start out being an advocate for the bisexual community specifically, even though I identify as bisexual. There aren’t many outlets or literature for bisexuals and, as I became more involved in bisexual-based groups on Facebook, I was often reminded of this. Members came to me and let me know how important it is for there to be a vocal advocate in the bisexual community. There are a plethora of advocates for gay men and lesbians – I’m sure most people outside of the LGBT community could name several from each. But ask a heterosexually-identified person who a famous bisexual is and they would probably pause and have to really think about it. There are many negative and false stereotypes associated with being bisexual, so for many who might otherwise identify with such a label, they might be reticent to do so because of those clichés. Just think of Cynthia Nixon who famously said she wouldn’t want to identify as bi because “nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals.” All the more reason for those of us who are bisexual to come out more and disprove those negative falsehoods!
2.) Besides the obvious organs, what differences have you notices in dating a man from dating a woman?
The funny thing is, I don’t see a big difference. I look past genitals and see the person for who they are. This has allowed me to date those who identify with every label – female, male, femme, genderqueer, transgender. I love people regardless of gender.
3.) Would you or have you ever dated a Trans Man? If not, would you consider it? Why or why not?
Yes! I dated a person who identified as “genderqueer” and later came out as a transgender man. I am open to dating anyone because, again, I don’t care what is between their legs. It’s the personality and virtues of a person that count!
4.) Assuming that you are attracted to Doms, as a bisexual woman, do you find yourself attracted to them because their masculine demeanor reminds you of a man?
Well, I like doms, feminine women, all genders and sexualities. I have been in relationships with all labels. There have been times when I have played the more dominant role and sometimes when I have played the more submissive roles. I have the capacity to love many people across the gender and sexual spectrum.
5.) It is obvious that the Caucasian LGBTQ community is different from the Black LGBTQ community on what is and is not tolerated, accepted etc. In the Caucasian community, is the bisexual culture embraced amongst the lesbian culture?
This is a big problem. I’ve definitely encountered lesbians who do not want to date a bisexual woman because they assume we’ll run back to a man or that we cannot be monogamous. I’m not sure if that has to do with race; my inclination is to say that the trait of the bisexuals being seen as “slutty, non-monogamous and selfish” transcends racial boundaries. I feel it depends on how the greater LGT community perceives the B community. At the same time, I also know lesbians who love bisexual women and date them all the time. The fact is, the bisexual community has a long way to go to continue to dispel those negative perceptions I mentioned before that still persist for LGTs and society as a whole.
6.) How do you think we (we being the entire LGBTQ community) can build more unity amongst ourselves?
I really feel that the L & G communities need to embrace the B and T communities. While I don’t feel comfortable speaking specifically for the trans community, I feel that the bisexual community is completely left out of most conversations regarding civil rights. Just because we have the capacity to be in heterosexual-seeming relationships, does not mean we don’t have a stake in same-sex marriage or anti-discrimination in employment, for example; should we fall in love with someone of the same sex, we will face the same problems that the L & G communities face. Once the stereotypes stop and embracing begins, we can then have unity.
7.) Thus far, you've written 3 books, two of which are displayed prominently on Amazon.com - Choice and Queer Greer. Have any of your own personal experiences aided in the creation of these books?
Yes, to an extent. Queer Greer is a book that I wrote after broke up with the first girl that I had fallen in love with. I needed an outlet for that experience and heartbreak. I wrote the book that I would have loved to have read when I was coming into my own sexuality in high school and college, considering the dearth of literature available for bisexuals and the LGBT community in general.
Choice was inspired by the experience of a close friend of mine who faced the decision of keeping or getting rid of a pregnancy. I wanted to write a book that dug deeper into what goes into that choice, exploring the repercussions of both choosing abortion as well as seeing the pregnancy through and having a child as a teen mother.
8.) You also write for the Huffington Post, have been invited to speak at the PFLAG Tucson group, answer reader questions via YouTube… When do you have the time to rest? What motivates you and keeps you going?
I rarely rest! I have a Type A personality and would be honestly will a huge hole in my life if I was not involved in something during almost every waking moment! I also have a great deal of empathy and compassion for others, and I love to stay active in helping others. For example, I have been writing to a convict in Texas for the past three years and, through a vast amount of research, I feel that she has been wrongfully convicted, so on top of a day job, my writing and the like, I’m also trying to get her a trial. My motivation is my passion for helping others.
9.) Have you had the chance to really read through D.I.N Mag? We pride ourselves on informing our readers on every aspects of the masculine community. Have you learned anything from reading it that you hadn't known before?
I think D.I.N. Mag is very important for the LGBT community and society at-large because you are educating everyone on a section of the community that definitely gets left out and forgotten. I don’t feel like many people know as much about doms as other types of lesbians – like femmes, lipstick lesbians, and the like. Most people have heard of the term “butch” and likely associate more dominant traits to that label, but there is obviously so much more to doms than that. I’m learning a lot from D.I.N. Mag already – like differences between “hard-core” and “pretty-boi” doms, for instance. Keep doing what you’re doing! Education is key!
10.) Is there any advice that you would like to give to our readers who are in the process of self-publishing or just following their passion for writing and speaking up for what they believe in, as you have?
In terms of self-publishing, I have had a crazy path. I didn’t have much money when I started and was able to invest $300 in a shoddy self-publishing option that left me with a less-than-professional looking product at the end – that was the first edition of Queer Greer in 2009. When I was ready and able to invest a bit more money, I moved to an indie publisher that helped me revamp my book completely with a new round of edits, a professional cover design and a marketing plan. This path is not for everyone, as it can get pricey. There are also e-publishing options that barely cost a dime. If you are thinking of self-publishing, make sure you research companies that have clout. Be willing to get out there and market your title on your own. Just remember that marketing and PR is the keys to your success. Fortunately, with social media, these days it can be somewhat easier to find the audience you are looking for.
1. What made you decide to pursue your passion for baking?
When I was pregnant with my son I decided to go to culinary school. I had seen commercials on TV for a new culinary school opening up in my area, and I was at an impasse in my career, and needed something new to do. While in culinary school, I made the decision to concentrate on pastry because I wanted an outlet to create where I wasn't so restricted. I also didn't want to work full time in a hot kitchen.
2. Has being an openly gay chef helped or hurt your business?
Nope. Being openly gay has actually improved my business. Especially here in Chicago, because civil unions were passed recently. A lot of couples are now able to declare their love legally, and have been calling upon me to provide them with a cake and/or treats to make their weddings and celebrations more memorable.
3. Do you find it difficult to maintain a relationship and continue to expand your business?
Yes, absolutely. In addition to doing pastry and event planning, I also teach culinary and cake decorating to at-risk youth, I volunteer at several organizations, and I am a freelance writer. I maintain 2 different blogs, I write an alumni column for my Alma Mater's school newspaper, and I am hoping to soon get picked up by a certain magazine as a guest writer. I also have written 2 cookbooks, I am developing a comic book, a clothing line, and I write spoken word/poetry and I do some song writing with a friend of mine. I have my hand in many things, but there are all things that are meant to uplift, encourage, and give back to the community. So, when dating I have to have a partner that is understanding of my demanding schedule. With my event planning and cakes, it's very likely that I have to hop on a plane and fly out somewhere to accommodate a client at the last minute.
4.Why do you think that it is important to list your business as gay orientated?
It's not necessarily important. But it is an integral part of my business now. Since I came out a year and a half ago, I thought it was imperative that I let my community know that I am someone that they can turn to for their pastry and event planning needs. Often times gay and lesbian couples are turned down, because people are not understanding of our "lifestyle" and will do all they can to not serve us, or not serve us properly. I have been turned down many times for services because I am openly gay. I want my business to be a business that does not discriminate directly or indirectly. Everyone is welcome to hire me and to purchase my goods and services. This has been even before I came out. I am not biased to any one gender, race, color, creed, or sexual preference. Business is business. But, I want gay and lesbian people to know they have a friend in me.
5. I see that you attended culinary school, do you think that with just a little patience and experimentation you could have taught yourself the bulk of what you learned in school?
Well when I went to culinary school, it really was because I was bored and looking for something else to do with my life. I never really intended for it to be a career. In culinary school my baking/pastry class was only 10 weeks. I am a classically trained chef in all types of cuisine. The pastry and cakes, desserts etc. mostly have been self taught. I did get my master Cake Decorator certification from the Wilton School of Cake Decorating in 2005, but other than that, I am self taught. I have family recipes that are tried and true, and a lot is also trial and error. I've written 2 cookbooks, and I do a food blog. So, I'm sure I know what I'm doing by now.
6. When a woman wants to date you, is one of the qualifications that she has to be a taste tester?
Well, I wouldn't say it's a requirement and such. I would say it's a perk. If I am going to take the time to ask you to taste one of my savory, gourmet meals, or a pastry I am working on, I obviously value your opinion. I will not put out any finished product unless it is up to par. I cannot attach my name to sub-standard dishes. I have a certain level of integrity to uphold, and I have clients that expect only the absolute best for the price they are paying. More often than not, if I invite you over for dinner to my home, then I am REALLY diggin' you!
7. What was one of the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome in order to get your business off of the ground?
Really, the most difficult was gaining a following and having a dedicated and devoted clientele. But over the last 6 years or so, about 80% of my current business is people who keep coming back to me. But, now that I am established, the customers come easily.
8. If someone wants to order one of your fine desserts, how would they be able to do so?
You can order from my website http://www.qteapie.com/ My phone number and email are on there. I am an independent contractor and private chef. So, everything is made to order. All cakes are custom.
9. We pride ourselves on teaching people about the lifestyle. Have you learned anything from reading D.I.N?
The most important tolls I have learned from D.I.N. is how to be more compassionate and understanding to the plight of MIW, Studs, AGs, Butches, Doms. These are the types of women I am most attracted to, and likely to date. So, I needed to have a greater understanding of the woman on the inside, I only know what it's like to be a femme. I can't even begin to imagine the hardships that MIW go through daily. Some of things I've read in D.I.N. have greatly helped my relationships with MIW. I have a great appreciation for my MIW and I love, love, love you!
10. What is one piece of advice that you can offer to someone who is interested in doing what you are doing?
Have some compassion, some empathy, and perseverance, and get educated. Together we can create a better world for the next generation of gays.
Chef Shiane-Myrih Q-Tea-Pie
P.O. Box 613Bensenville, IL 60106
1.) How did you get involved with Lola Monroe?
I have always been a lover and supporter of women, especially women who are a minority. When I heard LoLa was doing her thing on the mic and that she had chosen to express herself through music I was excited because I had followed her (being from the DMV) when she modeled. I started to go to shows, support, and ended up being asked to head her Bosset Movement. To me it was bigger than life because her movement is far more greater than people comprehend. It’s about music, life, and most importantly having class and empowering other women.
2.) Out of all of the artists that you could have stood behind, what made you choose her?
Her movement is not about herself or money or cars or hoes. Her movement represents all the women working hard towards their goals and striving for success despite the obstacles. All the other artists I felt were commercial and she isn’t. She’s REAL, humble, hardworking, my mentor and a friend.
3.) When and how did you know you wanted to get into P.R?
I first had a taste of Public Relations when I attended Coppin and got into Student Activities Programming Board. I loved working with the artists, meeting them, networking and connecting. I’ve always loved people, but more so I love making people feel good. With PR you kind of get to make people look and feel good all the time.
4.) Was it difficult starting your own P.R company?
Starting YManningPR has been like HELL but I get to sneak ice water every now and then. It’s extremely difficult because you have to be meticulous about who you connect with, why you’re connecting, you have to watch you’re a** and your clients a**. PR requires always thinking up new ideas and staying current. So it was a challenge and still is.
5.) As a femme, do you find it more or less difficult to have "hardcore-thug" artists take you seriously?
ummmmm… (*Laughing*) I believe that although I’m super femme on the outside people KNOW I don’t take ANY sh*t. I don’t talk about it, I do it. So when it comes to like “hardcore” types I pull my own weight and I’m able to represent them too. They know I’m a pretty “saditty” girl, but I can walk a mean walk.
6.) What is your opinion on lesbian rappers? Both Femme and Dom
When It comes to Lesbian rappers people place too much emphasize on their sexuality. To be marketable you can share your sexuality to the public, but over exploiting it in my opinion is just unnecessary.
7.) Do you think Dominant lesbian music will ever go mainstream? Why or why not?
As someone who works in the industry chances are slim to none. I’m not saying it won’t, but it’s really hard. There is some extremely great lesbian talent, but the problem is that the world is just too focused on your sexuality to really listen to the music. Sometimes in the public eye it’s more of a con than a pro. Makes your audience even more narrow. People have to relate to the music and if a woman is singing about another woman then your connecting audience is now smaller. Example: Ricky Martin is gay, but he definitely talks about women in his songs or topics that are broad.
8.) What do you think is needed to bring more light to the lifestyles of non-Caucasian lesbians?
I think to bring more light to the lifestyles of non-Caucasian Lesbians people should get out there vote, support, and voice their opinions. In Maryland – PG County, to pass the latest amendments for LGBT they needed votes and they were lacking the minority voting. How do you want gay marriage, but not willing to vote for it? Or rally for it? Like knowing more about your lifestyle and becoming more involved is what will make the difference. If you stand up for your rights, motivate and encourage others that’ll be more noticeable.
9.) What is one question you always wanted to ask a Dom? A Trans Man?
For a trans man I’ve always wanted to know their daily struggles. Like why do they want to transform, and does it really make them happier.
10.) What advice can you offer someone who is trying to do what you do?
Keep grinding. There’s not a day I don’t work. There’s actually very little time when I’m awake where I’m not working… Utilize Twitter and Facebook because honestly that’s where the people are. Be original. And never give up. You might not work for the artists you want, but the more consistent and determined you become, the more anyone might notice you. Definitely know in this business you have to be consistent, persistent, and motivated. Don’t let anyone deter you from your main goal. And GET YOUR MONEY!!!