As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to talk about sex. (cue “Rags to Riches”) According to my mom, I’d ask questions about sex from a very young age and when she told me to ask again when I was older, I’d ask again the next day saying, technically, I was older. Long before I started dating and having sex, sex and dating were the most interesting conversation topics to me. And they still are!
But as I’ve grown older I’ve also learned that some aspects of my personal life are better kept private. I was never crass — it’s just for myself I’ve learned that even if someone wants to hear about my life, it’s not always in my best interest to share. I’ve had to learn boundaries.
Now some people are the opposite. Some people have never been quick to share details of their personal lives. Even people who are actively dating and actively selfish like to keep that stuff to themselves. I’m fascinated by these people. Nothing makes me register how different people are quite like realizing deep into a friendship that I barely know anything about who someone is dating or fucking if I know they aren’t ace or aro.
One such friend is Autostraddle’s editor-in-chief Carmen Phillips. Now as we’ll discuss, Carmen is my boss here at Autostraddle so that explains some of her boundaries. But even outside our friendship, Carmen admits that she isn’t quick to share details from her personal life. Christina and I get into this with Carmen as we all examine that when it comes to boundaries our strengths are our weaknesses and our weaknesses are our strengths.
And before that we play our classic game “Fuck, U-Haul, Ghost” — but a special edition where Christina asks me about my favorite actors from Letterboxd.
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+ Raven-Symoné’s chaotic gay TikTok.
+ Here’s my Letterboxd list, Actors Who Have “It”.
+ We don’t have a lot of show notes today so here’s my favorite movie from every actor Christina asked me about.
Angela Bassett – Malcolm X
Joan Crawford – Johnny Guitar
Bette Davis – The Little Foxes
Kirsten Dunst – Marie Antoinette
Jane Fonda – They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
Katharine Hepburn – Bringing Up Baby
Anna Paquin – Margaret
Susan Sarandon – Thelma and Louise
+ You can currently get the new Criterion edition of Mississippi Masala half-off at Barnes & Noble.
+ Also while I can’t in good conscience suggest the movie 3 AM, I do recommend watching the first five minutes when Sarita Choudhury is being a hot mean mommi boss.
Christina: Honestly, if I know our readers and listeners, they’re going to say, “Yes, we too understand social anxiety.” I think you’re in good company here in this.
Carmen: It’s in the queer person starter kit. It’s right there.
[theme song plays]
Drew: Hi, I’m Drew.
Christina: I’m Christina.
Drew: And welcome to Wait, Is This A Date?
Christina: Wait, Is This A Date? Is an Autostraddle podcast dedicated to the singular question, Wait, is this a date? Which is to say it’s about dating and being gay and stuff that we like, right?
Drew: Yeah. Wow. I think we did that really good for this being our second episode back, it felt like we’ve been recording episodes nonstop for a few years and really in a rhythm, really in a rhythm, really going.
Christina: Yeah. They call me the Ira Glass of gay podcasting.
Drew: I think they should.
Christina: I don’t know, imagine.
Drew: Hey, hey Christina. You’re the Ira Glass of gay podcasting. Now someone said it, people are saying it.
Christina: People are saying it. I was going to try to do an Ira Glass impression, then I said, “Why do that to yourself, to anybody?”
Drew: As your friend, I’m going to have you do that off-recording first, and then we can bring it for next episode if we realize you can do it well.
Christina: I already can tell you I don’t have it. I do not have that impression in the bag, but hey, I can—.
Drew: Maybe by the end of the season. End of the season? Yeah. Okay. Let’s say who we are. I’m Drew Gregory, I am a writer for Autostraddle and a filmmaker. I’m queer and I’m a trans woman.
Christina: I love how always there’s a light pause between I’m queer, it’s like is it today? Is it coming out today?
Drew: I really know that I’m a writer for Autostraddle and I’m a filmmaker, those identities super solid. Filmmaker, years and years and years, Autostraddle, also coming up on years and years and years. I’ve been a staff member for Autostraddle for longer than three years, which is a little bit wild. I’m not even close to one of the newbies anymore. I’m the opposite of a newbie.
Christina: You’re very ancient and wizened.
Drew: But then when it comes to gender and sexuality labels, yeah, those things are… Who knows?
Christina: Well, let’s see what I’ve got. I’m Christina Tucker, I’m also a writer at Autostraddle, a writer for other places as well, a podcaster and always some kind of gay lesbian type who’s around here making trouble and putting highlighter on. I guess that’s what I do in a day to day experience. We’re going to play a game today, Drew.
Drew: Oh, I love games.
Christina: I love introing it, like we don’t always play a game. But in honor of season 2, I wanted to bring us back to our classic “Fuck, U-Haul, Ghost.” And I wanted to do something fun. So I went through your Letterboxd and I, first of all, would like to say congrats to your Letterboxd for being really, gorgeously organized. A lot of different categories, I have a lot to play with.
Drew: Thank you.
Christina: So I am doing three rounds of fuck, U-Haul, ghost, from your list of actors who have It.
Drew: Ooh, great.
Christina: I was going to bring up your description and actually read verbatim what your description of actors who have It. And then I was like but I could just ask Drew to tell us herself what she just means by actors who have It.
Drew: Yeah. I don’t remember what I wrote on Letterboxd, but I was just thinking about how there are… I think it actually, this is going to be controversial because I know people disagree with me on one of these people, but I went to see The Lost City and was very much like oh Channing Tatum has it. And despite some great, great roles in her filmography, I don’t think Sandra Bullock has it. And it doesn’t mean that she’s not good, it doesn’t mean… I was just like actors who I could watch do anything who just have that spark that I just want to stare at. And there are actors who have given some of my favorite performances ever, who I also don’t feel that way about, like Cate Blanchett. I think I maybe even say this in the Letterboxd description.
Christina: You say this in Letterboxd. Yeah.
Drew: Because I want to clarify that like Cate Blanchett’s incredible and in so many of my favorite movies, but she doesn’t have that quality where I would watch her do anything. So yeah. That’s my spiel.
Christina: All right. That’s a great spiel. All right. So we have, the first category is what I’m calling classic. We have Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn.
Drew: I mean, I’m obviously U-Hauling with Katharine Hepburn.
Christina: You have to, you kind of have to.
Drew: That’s no question. No offense to the feud, but Katharine Hepburn is my U-Haul, I’d anything with Katharine Hepburn.
Christina: I just love no offense to the feud.
Drew: And then… God, now I feel like I have to pick though, because—
Christina: Well you definitively do is why you feel that way. Yeah.
Drew: I’m a big fan of Joan Crawford’s and Bette Davis’. I am going to fuck Joan Crawford.
Christina: That feels like the right choice
Drew: Because of Johnny Guitar, almost exclusively because of Johnny Guitar. I mean, there’s a lot of other movies, but Johnny Guitar is the one that I have to, that’s swaying my opinion. But then I think of Little Foxes. No, I’m gonna— Joan Crawford.
Christina: The fun thing about this game is that no matter who I give you, there’s always this incredibly serious reflection. You always feel kind of bad as if these women are going to come and yell at you, which in fairness, I would be terrified of Joan Crawford coming to yell at me from beyond.
Drew: I don’t know. I just got a little aroused thinking about that.
Christina: Well, yeah. Terrified and aroused go hand in hand, I find quite often. All right, now we have Girlies TM category, Kiki Dunst, Anne Hathaway, and Anna Paquin.
Drew: Once again, the U-Haul is easy for me. Kirsten Dunst, U-Haul easy.
Christina: Yep. That tracks.
Drew: One of the best filmographies, I think, of any contemporary actor.
Christina: Yeah. Kind of just straight bangers.
Drew: Just so good. And such variety. And also whenever she talks about her relationship with Jesse Plemons, it’s so sweet and that just sounds lovely. It sounds lovely to be in a relationship with Kirsten Dunst. Anne Hathaway and Anna Paquin. See, I would think that Anna Paquin makes more sense to be someone you fuck than Anne Hathaway.
Drew: But I am going to go with Anne Hathaway.
Drew: I think it’s just the years of theater and having crushes on fellow theater kids that make me so attracted to Anne Hathaway, but I am very attracted to Anne Hathaway. I’m very attracted to Anna Paquin, but I’m going to go with Anne Hathaway.
Christina: I mean, Ann Hathaway literally looks like ding, dang, snow white. I get it. It’s kind of bonkers, there’s a whole deal she’s got going on there. All right. And now we’re doing what I’m calling Legends Only category. Angela Bassett, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon.
Drew: Oh, that’s so hard. Oh my God. That’s so hard.
Christina: This one is really hard. And legends are hard, it’s hard to fuck with legends or to ghost them or to U-Haul with them.
Drew: Yeah. It’s hard and it’s really tough. I can’t ghost any of them, but…
Christina: Just for the listeners, Drew has entered a space of thoughtful prayer and reflection. What will she choose next? She’s making a face like I’m stabbing her personally, very slowly.
Drew: I just, my first thought was you have to U-Haul with Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda has been, maybe even longer than Katherine Hepburn, been my lifelong crush. I love Jane Fonda so much. It is complicated with the fact that, I mean, I think Jane Fonda is maybe 10 years older than… I mean, I know we said Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, so clearly we’re not going with present day people, I’m assuming.
Christina: We are not.
Drew: So, okay. Because I was going to be like, “I have some limit of the age gap situation. And I do think that Jane Fonda is maybe a little old.” I think Angela Bassett and Susan Sarandon I would. I mean, I would also Jane Fonda for the story and just to hang out with Jane Fonda, but…
Christina: Realistically, she is in a very different age range.
Drew: Yeah. But I can’t ghost Jane Fonda. Can I?
Christina: Well, I mean, I can’t answer that question. I wouldn’t personally.
Drew: Okay. I’m going to present to you my two options that I’m stuck between. I do think I have to fuck Susan Sarandon. I think I can’t not fuck Susan Sarandon and I just can’t decide if I want to U-Haul with Jane Fonda or Angela Bassett. I think it does depend on the era too, right? Because Jane Fonda in Radical French politics era is both very attractive to me, but also I don’t want to have to hang out on the set of a Jean-Luc Godard leftist movie. That is not fun for me. So, there are some caveats there. This is what I’m saying, is that I can’t ghost either of them. I can’t do it. Not that they would know, but I genuinely can’t.
Christina: No. I think that is the correct answer because also my gut also said, “You have to fuck Susan Sarandon.” Something about that energy just says that she’s crazy in bed. I don’t know what it is, couldn’t tell you. I just look at that woman and I say she’s nuts in the sack. And I love that.
Drew: Also she has great politics too. I think this is great. It’s not just legend. What makes a legend to me, and maybe to you as well, or at least you know it would make a legend to me and you’ve made this game for me, is that not only are all of these women some of the most attractive women to ever live and also the most talented and have incredible filmographies, but they’re also politically sound.
Christina: Yes. That is why I picked them. Because I do know you.
Drew: I mean, I shouldn’t say that, because someone’s going to comment, “Well, did you know that in 1995, blah, blah blah said, blah, blah, blah.” And I’m sure they’ve said bad things because they’re famous.
Christina: They’re human people. Yeah.
Drew: Yeah. Also Susan Sarandon was in that bad trans movie with the Elle Fanning playing a trans boy. So we know we’ve all made mistakes. But overall a great trio. I would love to get brunch with the three of them, would love to hang out with any of them, would love to U-Haul or fuck any of them.
Christina: I think that makes total sense, and I do think I set you up in a trick way that would say that you couldn’t actually answer that final one with the parameters of the game. You can’t ghost any of those women. You just can’t.
Drew: No that’d be absurd.
Christina: It’s against the law.
Drew: They could ghost me. I’d be honored.
Christina: Oh God, it would be… To get a read receipt from Angela Bassett, I would save it for the rest of my life. Are you kidding me? I think it’s time we dive into the meat of this here ep.
Drew: Our topic this week is boundaries and we have a very special guest who we are going to let introduce herself.
Carmen: Hi everyone. I am Carmen Phillips, I am the editor-in-chief of Autostraddle. I identify as queer and Black and Puerto Rican and I guess that’s it. Did I cover all the bases?
Christina: That’s up to you only. You can say what all the bases are in many ways.
Carmen: I mean that is very fair.
Christina: Yeah. We’re doing boundaries today. So if it felt good to you, then it felt good to us.
Carmen: True enough. Okay. Those feel like good boundaries for me today.
Christina: Of course.
Drew: Great. Well, starting with season one, we wanted to have you on to talk about this because I consider you a close friend, but I also know less about your dating and romantic life than any of my other close friends. And I think some of that is because you are my friend and you are also though… I don’t know. Would you say sort of my boss or just my boss? Probably just my boss.
Carmen: I’d say I was your boss.
Drew: Great. Yeah. As Autostraddle moves into a better boundary organization, I think you are objectively my boss. And so maybe that’s part of it. I also do think you are just someone who I’m impressed with in the way that you manage to be a writer and a writer who writes personally and brings yourself into all your writing in a way that I really respect and look up to. But also you have very good boundaries in your work, I feel. I feel like you’re very thoughtful about what you include and what you don’t include. So it was so obvious I wanted to learn from you. I wanted to bring you on… Some of these are so we can roast people. This one, I want to just learn from your wisdom.
Carmen: I mean, part of that is just social anxiety. And so right now for our listeners, just so you know, I’m sweating through this t-shirt. We’re doing great here. A lot of social anxiety, which I am conquering today for this podcast, for y’all.
Christina: We’re honored.
Drew: I really appreciate that.
Christina: We really do. We really do.
Carmen: I just want to let the readers know where I am so that later they’re not like, “What the hell, Carmen?”
Christina: I think they’re going to appreciate it. Honestly, if I know our readers and listeners, they’re going to say, “Yes, we too understand social anxiety.” I think you’re in good company here in this.
Carmen: It’s in the queer person starter kit. It’s right there.
Christina: Just be a little nervous, just be a touch nervous.
Carmen: It’s how it works. Like any good first date… Wait, Is This A Date?
Christina: Wait, Is This A Date? I think, yeah. I think, especially for me thinking, Carmen, especially about your writing, because I know I don’t write a ton of personal essays period for Autostraddle either, but when I do deign to do the personal essay, I kind of just vibe and I never really think about, what do I want to include? What don’t I want to include? Certainly not in what boundaries do I have about saying things on the internet. I think anyone who’s familiar with my Twitter feed would know I have, what’s the word? Oh, almost none.
So I think it is really amazing to me that a person can be so good at writing and so good at being online professionally and also, I don’t know, have a soupçon of couth. I think that’s incredible. How do you do it?
Carmen: Well, thank you. That is a great question. I do think part of it is because before I became a writer on the internet, I was a college professor.
Christina: That’ll do it.
Carmen: Yeah. I was a grad student with the intention of becoming a full-time professor. But I did teach at the college level for five years before I started here and I think there is a good… This is a very boring answer. I’m sorry. I should have made it sexier. But very practically, there is a part of you when you spend so much of your time in front of people and you want to connect to them every day, giving your little mini Ted Talks, but you also don’t want to be messy in front of your students, I think it gave me a sense of building a public Carmen.
And public Carmen is very different from whoever I’m dating or what I’m doing in my personal life. And so I do think I just kind of converted that skillset. I do think I could be messier online. I think I would probably be a little bit further if I was messy online, but then that’s when the social anxiety part kicks in. But yeah, I do think part of it is just having a sense of what part of myself feels okay having however many thousands of people reading it or following along and what parts of myself don’t and generally speaking, who I’m dating, what I’m doing, is definitely not usually a part of that line. And so that just makes it really easy. I think when I very first started at Autostraddle as a writer before I was even an editor, I did two sex pieces and then I was like, “I do not love this. I do not love how this feels.” And then I never did it again. So I do think that is part of it.
But as it relates to friendships, I think I’ve always been really clear about who I’m letting into which places, which is, to be fair, I think a strength as much as it’s a weakness. I don’t feel like that— It’s funny when you guys were like, “I want you to come on Wait, Is This A Date?” And I was like, “Whaaat?” You were like, “To talk about boundaries.” And I was like, “Oh yeah, that’s my brand. That sounds great.”
Christina: Everybody’s got a brand at the end of the day.
Carmen: Yeah. And that is definitely mine. But I’m not sure that it’s always a great brand. My queer family, like my best friends… I always joke, I was like, “You will never meet who I’m dating unless I’m marrying them.” That is a joke that I’ve now been saying for five years, so I might be bringing it to truth. But I was like, “By the time you meet whomever I am dating, by the time I bring them to family dinner or out on an outing, you can best believe that I plan on marrying this person.” Because the public face fall of I brought this person into my closest life around my closest people and then we did not work out, it makes the thing in me that’s a type A like go into hyperdrive.
Carmen: Fear of failure. This is really dark y’all, I’m sorry. I meant to make this—
Christina: I am the same. All of us just trying to communicate that we are the same.
Christina: I am absolutely the same. I do not really… Well, famously I don’t date. So haha. But when I do, the idea of going a second date to meeting up with friends for drinks, I don’t know anything about you by date two, why are we bringing my friends into this?
Carmen: Absolutely not.
Christina: Absolutely. No.
Drew: Yeah, I’m so open about hookups I have, or writing about my sex life, but I agree with you as far as I have to really be pretty sure about someone. I’m honestly impressed by people who will be like, “Oh yeah, this is my girlfriend.” And we’ll be like, “Didn’t you have a different girlfriend a month ago?” And they don’t care. And they’re like, “Yeah. And then we broke up and now this is my girlfriend now.” And I’m just like, “Okay.” And I’m not judging them, but I would judge myself. So I’m like, “Why would I judge myself?” But I am very cautious about that. But it’s a good sort of metric for me because I’m like, “Oh, if I want to introduce someone to my friends, then that’s a sign that I really like this person. Yes.”
Carmen: Yeah. And I do think it’s funny when you said that, because I was like, I wonder if I was ever really serious about someone, I do think I would feel more comfortable soft launching them on my Instagram than I would bringing them to dinner. If I’m imagining. You know what I mean? I’m like, okay. And by soft launch, I mean, you might see the back of this person’s head or our legs on a couch. I would feel much more comfortable bringing this person into that version of my life than I would introducing them to my friends.
Carmen: Just probably something for me to unpack one day.
Christina: Well yeah, I think at some point everything that we discuss on this podcast is something for me to unpack at a later date.
Carmen: It’s hard.
Christina: It is hard. I do think, Drew, that point of like I wouldn’t judge somebody who did that, who did like the here’s a girlfriend, a month later here’s a different girlfriend. I’m not judging that person, but I absolutely would judge myself about it.
Carmen: Oh yeah.
Christina: In a way that I’m like, well, how much of this is actually about like I don’t want to bring this person around my friends or… How much does it actually have to do with my friends and the spaces I keep and how much does it actually just have to do with my own perception of myself and how I feel about myself succeeding and failing at relationships, whatever? Which is troubling.
Carmen: Yeah. That’s why I originally started by being like it sends that part of me that’s type A into hyperdrive. A lot of my friends have had multiple partners and sometimes they’re dating multiple people at the same time, sometimes it’s a revolving door of partners. Everyone has their own special version of their dating life. And that’s great. But I think I cannot imagine the idea like it would for me feel like a failure to be like, “Oh, here’s this person I was dating. It did not work out.”
And again, I am not endorsing this as a positive. I know we’re like, “Oh, boundaries are Carmen’s brand.” Fun fact is I think often our strength is our weakness. So sure. I think it’s a strength that I can manage on some level to have a public persona — as much as, like, Autostraddle is a public persona — and keep things to myself. I also am almost a hundred percent positive it’s a weakness that I feel such a need to keep the things that are personal to me that walled off. But I do think that there is something about that type A feeling of being like, oh, if I introduce you publicly and then this doesn’t work out, then I have fallen on my face publicly. And that is so much harder for me to imagine.
Issa Rae of all people was once like, “Don’t let…” I mean, this is different because it’s Issa, but Issa was like, “I will never let a man be the reason that I embarrass myself.” Issa was like, “I can embarrass myself every day, I don’t need a man to do that.” Update some pronouns there, but I do think that very much so speaks to my mindset where there are so many ways, and so many days, that I mortify myself. I do not need to bring this in there, which again, ironic to be on a dating podcast talking about! But I do think like there is a sense of me that the idea of it freaks me out very much.
Drew: When you are starting to date someone new and have all of those excitable crush feelings, what do you do with them? Because I think I’m good at preventing friends from meeting someone until I’m ready, but the minute I match with someone on a dating app and I’m excited about them, I’m texting three friends to be like, “I just matched with the hottest person ever.”
Christina: Can confirm.
Drew: I have to share that part, right? So what do you do?
Carmen: Well, it’s funny you say that. Okay. So I’ll tell a story. So this past December? Yeah, it was December because my friends and I do an annual kind of a big family dinner right before Christmas that we call holigays. And we travel. We used to all live in New York together. So everybody kind of descends back onto the city and we get hotel rooms and we spend the weekend together, we eat a big fancy dinner. Kind of like a Christmas for your chosen family. And this year I happened to be kind of meeting up with someone who I had been long distance dating or talking to for a while.
We had a really great night and then the next day was dinner and I could not stop talking about this person. And that was very unusual for me. So my friends all took notice right away and they were like, “Who the hell’s this girl? What is happening?”
And we did not work out. And so that was kind of a recent thing where I was like, “And this is why I don’t introduce people.” But I do think that was so rare for me, and part of it was because I went from this one part that was so private right into this other space. And so I had no stop in between. Usually if I’m beginning to date someone, those are kind of feelings that I will enjoy by myself on the ride home in a car and kind of keep it private between me and that person. I don’t always feel that same urge to be like, “Oh, let me text.” But in this situation, because I was going from kind of one part where my heart was kind of wide open into another part where my heart was wide open, I found such blurriness! And I don’t know how people live like that, I am not built for that kind of vulnerability. I am just not. So I do think that would be an example of when I just absolutely couldn’t hold it, but most times, yeah, I don’t know. I crush a little and then I vibe out. I’m just like, okay, I can’t deal with that. That was fun. That’s for me and this person and my phone.
Christina: Yeah. I’m going to cosign that.
Drew: I have a question. So when this didn’t work out after you’d shared it with your friends and theoretically this fear came true, did it make you feel like, oh, this wasn’t so bad. My friends aren’t judging me. They might be a little disappointed for me, but they’re not like, “Oh wow. You’re a loser.” Or was it like…. Did it change at all your relationship to that?
Carmen: Man, this podcast is like therapy.
Christina: Thank you.
Carmen: No and yes. Okay. So the part that is true is, no, they did not care because they’re my friends and they love me. And they were like, “Oh, that sucks that you and this person didn’t work out and we’re sorry. And would you like a hug?” And then we all moved on. So in that way, sure, my fear did not come true. But internally it did, do you know what I mean? Internally I was like, oh, this is exactly what I never want to have to do. I internally do not want to have to have these conversations or like wrap up this part of my life.
Whereas I mean, a part of it is a little bit like Christina, I famously don’t get into very many deep relationships. And this person I dated for probably six-ish months. And so that is very different. For me that was long term. I was like, oh wow, look at me growing up over here. And they bled into other parts. I would start at work being like, “oh, I had a date last night, this person I was dating, this is a story that happened,” and it would come up in workplace conversations. And that was again, just really different for me. I don’t know that I loved it. To be honest with you.
Carmen: I mean, I am sure it was a more kind of evolved approach to dating and definitely more like how everyone else handles it. I am not convinced that I personally loved it, but I also don’t love vulnerability. So there is that.
Christina: I mean, I think about that with myself a lot, right? I love a boundary. I’m famously obsessed with a boundary. And I often have the sneaking suspicion that what I love about a boundary is that it creates some pretty safe ways for me not to have to be vulnerable almost ever if I do it right. If I’m doing it right, it creates some pretty good safeguards in place for me to be like, “Wow. Nope, I simply don’t have to do that. There’s no feeling that needs to be shared here. We can simply be moving on.” And I know Drew, that you love a boundary. But you also love a feeling and you’re good at being vulnerable. So you’re better at it than me. So kind of walk me through how you do what you do with that voodoo that you do.
Drew: I mean, I think I’m excellent at the sort of defense mechanism where I talk about things and I overshare so no one asks questions about the things I don’t want to be asked about. And people don’t clock that I’m not necessarily being vulnerable in certain ways or showing emotions in certain ways. So I don’t think I’m all knowing, but—
Christina: Well, I do.
Drew: Well, thank you. I mean, I think that I’m very specific about who I talk to about different things and I try to… And that’s something I’ve had to learn because I come from a, I don’t know if this is culturally specific, but it feels a little culturally specific that, I think at least in my Jewish family, there aren’t a lot of boundaries and it’s a lot of sharing and a lot of… It’s interesting to me because it’s not like… No one in my family is, I’m not someone who’s like, “Oh, my mom’s my best friend. My sister’s my best friend.” They’re my family members and I love them and we have family relationships. But there’s nothing really off limits and I think even when I was a kid, just the things that were talked about were pretty unboundaried for better or worse. And I think over time I had to learn that talking to my parents about my dating life — this was even before I transitioned and was gay dating — it wasn’t a helpful thing. And even if I felt the urge, especially if something went wrong, I was sad about something and my parents especially my mom was there and I could talk to her, being like hmm no I need to learn to set that boundary.
And similarly with friends being like… I know that I have friends who I can talk to about things and I won’t feel judged and I will probably be lightly roasted in ways that feel good, and those are the people who I choose to share things with. And sometimes it’s hard. If I’m seeing a different friend who I’m not as close with or I’m at a party and I feel the urge to entertain and be storyteller and there’s a story and then I’m like, “I want to tell this because it’s a…” And I’ve had to work on getting better boundaries as far as being like, “What does it feel like when you tell these individuals this thing? Does it feel good? Does it not feel good?” And sort of trial and error, figuring that out. And I do think writing helps with that because my writing is so personal and I would feel sometimes I’d write something and I’d be like, “This didn’t feel good.” Sometimes it’s vulnerable and scary, but it ultimately feels rewarding and sometimes it really doesn’t and I’ve had to sort of learn how to find that balance. And I think I’m still finding that. But I have a bit of a performer, people pleaser, something streak where I want to say the most interesting things. And oftentimes the most interesting things are the most private. And so I want to do that. And I’ve had to sort of—
Christina: Tamp down that urge?
Drew: Resist that impulse. Yeah.
Carmen: I do think though, you said something that is one of like my tricks too, is I find that if you fill space or if I fill space with something else where I am directing the conversation, then I get to choose what parts I am not talking about. And that is, I mean, one of my go-to tricks, is if you talk about everything you actually are talking about nothing, which is a go-to of mine a lot. And I do wonder though for me, because dating has always been something I kept really close to the chest, is that always really useful? There are ways, and I would be really curious Drew to ask you this, because you do write about dating and talk about dating a lot, where do you find the boundary between, okay, “this is something from the person I’m dating that I am willing to share” and “this is something with the person that I’m dating, that it does not fit on this? I can’t do this?”
I always find that curious because my answer is just to share nothing, right? I’m like, “Oh, I don’t ever have to make this decision. I don’t have to be selective about it. The door is closed.” Whereas for someone like you, you’re always self-selecting and how do you do that? Does that get exhausting? How do you figure out what parts of yourself to be messy and vulnerable either with your friendships or on a public platform and what parts of yourself and a relationship do you leave just for you and your partner?
Drew: The way I think about it is… Obviously I don’t rank my relationship. I’m not that much of a Capricorn. But my current romantic relationship is serious enough that there are things between us that I wouldn’t share with even my friends, because my relationship with my partner that’s the relationship. And just the same way I have relationships with my friends. And those are the relationship. Whereas if I have a hookup, not that I’m not seeing the hookup as a full person who has their own life and their own friends and will tell the story their own way, but that connection pales in comparison to my friendship. So I’m going to tell them. And honestly, a lot of, this is kind of sound really corny, but a lot of those hookups pale in comparison to my relationship with my writing. And so that’s also part of it, whereas—
Christina: Woo baby, that was gorgeous.
Carmen: The most Drew answer.
Drew: And so it’s sort of always a judgment on that. And I would say that the more serious… That sounds awful, because then it’s like if someone I wrote a detailed essay about is like, “Oh, so you didn’t care about me?” It’s not totally one to one, but I do think that I’m way more likely to write a detailed essay about a one night stand than I am about a relationship. And that’s something that being in a serious relationship now I’m really having to navigate and being like, she has her own boundaries. And it becomes a lot more, I mean, I care about the boundaries of anyone I interact with, but we’re going to sometimes betray other people’s boundaries in the sense that I know there are people who I’ve written about who wish that I hadn’t, we can have a whole conversation about the ethics of writing. And I think about that question a lot and I really try to be thoughtful about it, but I still, for some people, made the wrong decisions and sometimes I agree with them and sometimes I sort of stand by what I did.
But I care about my partner to an extent that I will respect her boundaries fully. And so there’s nothing that I would… If anything bothered her, I wouldn’t want to share it. And any mention of her, I run it by her, not because she’s even asked me to do that, but just because it’s not a relationship that I’m willing to sacrifice for my writing or for my desire to have a fun and flirty persona on the internet. So that’s just sort of on a scale of seriousness. And also what I would share in jokey round table on Autostraddle versus what I would share in a deep essay, again, how much I care about that writing changes. There are long form essays that I’ve written where I’ve crossed certain personal boundaries or shared things that feel really special to me with another person and I’m letting now, who knows how many readers into that. And I am making the choice that I care about that piece enough to do that and still being selective about details. That’s also something I’ve learned, is that you can also tell an evocative story without including all the details. And that’s been a real three and a half year long, maybe longer before Autostraddle, learning experience within my writing of being like, sharing everything is not the same as using a story fully.
Christina: Yeah. I remember even in some of the early conversations Drew that you and I had in our 20,000 voice memos a day moments wherein you were like, “But if I don’t share all the details, is this the truth? And then what does that mean?” Which I always find very fascinating, about the way that you approach both, like you’re sharing with details and writing right? Because it’s if it doesn’t have this truthiness, if I can borrow a word from Stephen Colbert, I guess, or whatever, that you’re kind of, “Well then is it a fraud? Am I doing fraudulent work? What is journalism?” It’s a very Carrie Bradshaw energy that sometimes happens to you. But I think in the last year, six months, whatever, you have really figured out that line for yourself, which I imagine is quite helpful.
Carmen: I think the idea of, “If I don’t tell all the details, is that the truth?” Is mind blowing to me because I can’t approach anything that way. I don’t share details about anything. Anytime I’m telling a story, I’ve already taken out probably 30% of it. And so it’s really fascinating to think about how different people just negotiate, even friendship boundaries, like you and Christina are sending voice memos to each other, right? That is not a writing relationship. That’s y’all hanging out. So how do we even negotiate those spaces? I just think is a really fascinating concept.
Christina: Yeah. And I was also just thinking about, obviously boundaries come up hugely with us in dating and how we share dating. But I feel a thing that comes up all the time is, whomst among my friends has boundaries and who doesn’t? And how that affects our relationships and kind of the relationships in our circle, the kind of ripples of that boundary to boundariless space affects every interaction we have with people. And sometimes pisses people off and sometimes is fine with other people. And I always just find it fascinating when I meet someone and I’m like, “Oh, you do not have good boundaries. Interesting. That seems really hard. That seems like a really challenging way to live, this boundariless land. How?”
Carmen: I think though, that is also… Okay, so just to be fully frank about something, I do think about a lot as it relates to boundaries, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to tell this on the podcast, but I am, is the first relationship that I was ever in that was really serious was in college and it was kind of purposefully a secret. We did not tell people, even our friends. And that was about a lot of internalized homophobia on behalf of both myself and the person I was dating. But I do think that though I don’t necessarily carry that same shame, it did shift how I thought about approaching relationships because so much of that first relationship did happen in secret.
And the kind of flip of that I think is, even with oversharers, we’re always processing the last relationship we were in. We’re always still kind of being shaped by those first things that happened to us or the second or third and however we reacted to whatever bad things occurred. And I often wonder if lack of boundaries is just the flip side of that same coin. I am overly cautious. And also the first person I dated was 100% in secret. But I do think that I know for me that shifted so many things and those are a lot of habits that I’m still unlearning. I don’t know. We don’t need to tell everyone listening how long ago I was in college, but quite a few years later. I just always wonder if for oversharers, if that’s also a thing too. Do you know what I mean? Even for friends. I have friends who will tell me, I mean, absolutely every detail about every hookup down to sex things I never want to know about them. You know what I mean? And then they’ll be like, “Oh, pass the bacon.” And I’m like, “You just told me about where someone’s fist was last night. I don’t really feel just passing over bacon.” I also wonder for them, if that is also their own processing, do you know what I mean? In the same way that I’m deeply internal.
Drew: Yeah. I mean, I can even say that for me, by nature of transness, I’ve had experiences where I’ve felt sort of kept secret, even just subtly, and I think that’s resulted in me wanting people to know about stuff and feeling sort of very tender around stuff. And that’s something that I’ve had to work on to be like, oh, it’s… having stuff you and your partner are deciding is private, isn’t the same as someone keeping you a secret because of their own shame or their own transphobia or their own whatever. But it definitely has impacted me and how I approach information.
And I think even in a lot of my sex writing, there was, I mean, I think I’ve even written about this in a sort of meta way, that there was this desire to give an impression of I’m not like those sad trans women you have stereotypes about, I’m one of the cool ones who’s off having random, crazy sex every week. And it wasn’t accurate, I was trying to manifest this lifestyle, to fight back against people’s assumptions about me and in the process was losing track of who I actually am, which is both someone who does sometimes have wild sexcapades and also a lot of times just has very strong crushes and stays home and watches movies thinking about them. I’m just lots of different things at once. And we lose our nuances and our humanity when we’re trying to prove things one way or the other, whether it’s by keeping it all internal and learning those lessons or making it all external to try to prove something.
Christina: That was a damn word, I have to say. I wish I had a glass of wine. I would raise one to you right here right now.
Drew: Thank you.
Christina: That was really…
Carmen: I have a strawberry mojito in a mug.
Christina: Ooh! In a mug!
Drew: Oh, yum.
Christina: Love that.
Carmen: In my good luck Beyoncé mug. Because I told y’all, I was nervous.
Drew: For you and Christina… While I figure out my own boundaries… There’s nothing my close friends… obviously I don’t want people who I barely know to be volunteering, which happens because I write about sex, people who are literal strangers will be like, “Let me talk about fluids with you.” And I’m like, “Okay, let’s calm down.” But with my close friends, I want to hear every juicy detail.
Christina: Oh absolutely. Same.
Carmen: I don’t really, I mean, I think I’ve never gotten a choice on it. So I can’t say whether or not I prefer it. You know what I mean? I do think a part of being gay and having gay friendships, unless you are very specifically someone like me who processes very deeply internally and that does feel like kind of a unicorn — which is already a loaded phrase in gay community — but that does feel kind of like a unicorn. I do think generally people are like, “Let me tell you every flip every turn. Let me tell you where hands were, the color shape and size of the dildo. I want to share everything.” So yeah. I mean, I love it. I just never want to do it. I love hearing it. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a choice. I don’t think anyone who’s ever been like, “Carmen, do you not want to hear this?” Before they started the story.
Christina: Carmen, do you consent to this story?
Carmen: Right. That’s never existed in any of my friendships.
Christina: Yeah. I think, as a similarly internal processor, once I have processed whatever I feel like I need to process about a hookup or whatever, I’m like, “Yeah, let’s talk about it. Let us discuss. This is what went down. This was weird, but I was into it? Tough to say.” I’m happy to have those conversations once I’ve taken the time to myself to find God, think about it, have a little moment of righteous prayer as I do, a very holy woman as I’m sure everyone knows. But yeah. And then that’s whatever, let’s talk about sex baby. Let’s actually do it.
Talking about sex is fun and sex is fun I think? it’s been a minute so.
Carmen: It is last time I checked.
I mean, I think for me too, and that goes back to I was so fascinated when Drew was like, “Well, if I don’t tell every detail, is it the truth?” I mean I love talking about sex in the abstract. I would prefer to never tell details about who I was doing the sex with. Do you know what I mean? That for me is usually where I would draw that boundary. I’m like, oh sure, we can talk about generally speaking sex I had or a hookup or even someone I dated for a couple weeks or a month or whatever. But I don’t usually like to get into details about a person. That is usually where my — haha theme of the episode — boundary comes into.
Drew: I was just thinking about how like the one time the past six months that Christina told me that she might have a crush on someone, I became so annoying about it and still am annoying about it. And I’m reflecting on this as I’m saying this, because I’m wondering if, for both of you because you don’t often talk about dating or at least not in detail, do you find having that boundary makes that boundary harder to lessen because of the reaction of people when you do bring up sex or dating or you are seeing someone or, oh my God, you even introduce someone to someone, because this doesn’t happen very often, all of a sudden your friends won’t let it go and so it makes you even more reluctant to do it?
Carmen: 100%. I mean the person who I was dating and I’m no longer dating, but who I opened up the episode talking about and I was at this kind of makeshift Christmas dinner with my friends and telling them about this person, one of my friends who was getting married was like, you can absolutely bring this person to the wedding. And I was like, “Whoa, buddy.” And for this friend, they were like, “Listen, you have never really talked about anyone you were seeing, you cannot stop talking about this person. You can bring this person to a whole wedding.” And I was like, “Maybe we don’t do that.” And I think that is very typical of what happens, right? When you finally share something. I think my Autostraddle friends are probably the only ones where that’s not true where I can say something and people just let it chill. But in my non-Autostraddle world, the minute you drop a detail, then everybody wants to know all of the details, right? Which I think, yeah, it keeps those boundaries up very firmly.
It’s part of why I started joking I won’t bring someone around till I’m going to marry them because I’m kind of a little sister in a crew of five or six. And I was like I cannot deal with that many quote unquote siblings, getting… I’m also an only child. This is just a lot for me to have all these people in my business. And for me, it is never really about the person I’m dating, but it is about all of my friends and having to manage and deal with all of their reactions or their questions or… Jesus even talking about it, my heart is starting to race. I do not. I don’t want it. I don’t want it at all.
Christina: I’m somewhere in between. Yes, I do absolutely have friends who I’m like, “Oh my God, you’re going to be a dog with a bone about this. I cannot drop this info in front of you.” But at the same time, I am also self aware enough to know that I do need a little bit of that energy in my life to kind of pull me out of some of these walls and tear boundaries. And I do think the people like Drew, all of my closest friends, who know me well enough to know when we have to push on that little button a little bit and when it’s time to back off of that, it’s a very delicate dance. I’m not jealous of anybody who has to fucking work with my annoying ass on that kind of shit. But there are, I would say for the most part, my closest friends know, when is it time to lightly roast Christina about this and when is it time to just leave her the hell alone and she’ll figure it out and come to us when the time is needed. But yeah, no, it can be just like, “Oh God, why did I say it out loud for the love of Christ? Why did I do that?”
Drew: I will say on the record that if I ever don’t walk that line correctly, you can always set a boundary and I will follow that boundary.
Christina: Well, and that’s the other thing, right? All of my good friends will if I’m like, “All right, enough.” They will say, “Okay.”
Carmen: Too much.
Christina: I think maybe we’ve nailed it.
Drew: I think we’ve covered a lot of boundaries. So I feel like I learned some things today.
Christina: I feel like I learned some more ways in which I am struggling. So, that’s always fun.
Carmen: Yeah. I don’t know if I learned today as much as I was like, “Wow, this is exposure. Okay, great.”
Christina: Reinforcing some things that I should jot down for future therapy use as ever. But that usually is what makes an episode of this podcast. It’s me saying that at some point.
Drew: That is true. Let’s move on to our next segment, which is crush corner.
Christina: Drew, I think it’s your turn to go first, because I went first last time.
Drew: My crush of the week is Sarita Choudhury.
Drew: I saw the new restoration of Mississippi Masala at the TIFF theater, because I’m in Toronto for the summer. And I’d seen the movie before, on a bootleg, like illegal, I mean, not illegal. I would never do anything illegal, a bootleg copy on my computer. It was still incredible. Even in that setting was incredible. But the new restoration seen in theaters, it’s such an incredible movie. And I don’t know if any two people have ever looked better than Sarita Choudhury and Denzel Washington in that movie. And also, still in the new Sex In The City, she’s by far the best part of that show. And I wish the second season would be like, “So bringing back Sex and the City didn’t really work out for us, but we are going to do a spinoff now with the one character that’s really working.” I would love to watch that show. So she’s hot, she’s talented. What else do you need for a crush of the week?
Christina: I honestly don’t think anything else. I think that’s really gorgeous. And I do think about that moment where she’s just smoking a cigarette in And Just Like That and someone says, “You’re just sitting here smoking a cigarette and doing nothing.” Because that truly was me from about 2009 to about 2019, simply sitting there smoking a cigarette and not doing shit else.
Carmen: My favorite is the, “I’m going to be the rich brown woman who writes the check.” Is for me the iconic Sex and the City Moment. I just wish the whole show had just been that.
Christina: That’s a wife. Like please.
Carmen: That’s a whole wife, that’s what that is.
Christina: A whole wife. My crush of the week, I’ve been watching what doctors have been calling too much Law & Order, and I do mean classic Law & Order, I do mean seasons six through 11. So I’m talking ’96 through 2000. And my crush of the week is Lennie Brisco, AKA Jerry Orbach. I have never known a better man slash detective in my life. Obviously Law & Order is copaganda. We don’t care for it. It’s actually quite troubling when you think about it for even half of a second. But the way this man has quips upon finding dead bodies is just an energy that I wish that I had. He told a perp one time, “Home Alone’s, a movie. It’s not an alibi.” And that’s incredible. He’s just a perfect man. And I wish he wasn’t dead, but he is, and that’s sad. But I love Jerry Orbach slash Lennie Brisco who are tied together in my brain.
Drew: Wow. You lost me at Law & Order, but then when you said Jerry Orbach, you almost got me back by surprising me so much with that one.
Christina: I just love him. He’s just perfect.
Carmen: I always remember when he passed and they took the lights out on Broadway for him. It’s just such a sweet memory that I will choose to leave us with as opposed to Law & Order. It’s just so rare when they take the lights out on Broadway.
Christina: There’s no way they will do that when I die, but I wish that they would.
Carmen: Right. That’s actually what I aspire to be. I aspire to be someone for whom when I die, all the lights… you know like the lights went out in Georgia? All the lights brought on Broadway. That is my point.
Christina: Quite literally.
Carmen: That’s a Designing Women reference, for anyone who hasn’t reached that part of their gay canon.
Christina: I was really thrilled with that. Who is your crush of the week, dear Carmen?
Carmen: I wrote down a list because it was the only thing Drew told me to prepare. And as was kind of, I think the sub-theme of this episode, I am a bit of a type A, I do like to be perfect at things. And so Drew gave one assignment and I wrote an entire list.
Carmen: Thank you. To be honest, the list was originally only two people. The first being Raja from RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars, which I did not have a crush on Raja when they were first competing way back in RuPaul’s Drag Race the dinosaur years. And I was just very unprepared for how attractive Raja was going to be as they approached 50. Just talented and so funny and eloquent and has the most beautiful silver hair, just a full mommi. I’m obsessed. And then the second person I wrote down is a crush I’ve been ashamed about, well, not shame. That’s a big word. But been embarrassed to share, which is Raven Symoné. I was also speaking of people who were in your life once before, and then they come back. No one told me Raven Symoné became hottie, no one told me. And she showed up on A Black Lady Sketch Show recently, and then that sent me down a path of her TikTok. And being married has been so good to Raven. I just want to say, a whole endorsement for marriage would be Raven Symoné’s life right now. I mean, just a babe, a whole babe.
Christina: Yeah. She has a fun TikTok and it’s very chaotic. I’m like what’s going on?
Carmen: It’s so good.
Christina: I’m like, “What’s happening.”
Carmen: I did not see “becoming a Raven Symoné fan” in my list for my thirties. But here I am ready to go back like it’s That’s So Raven all over again. Who knew? Who knew Christina? Not I.
Christina: We can’t predict these things and that’s what makes life so beautiful and gorgeous in many ways.
Carmen: I think my biggest dream is to get Raven Symoné off the Disney channel now, because she still has her soul sold to Mickey Mouse. And I was like, “I want to see you in an adult comedy. I want to see you in something that I can appreciate.”
Christina: Yes. Wholeheartedly agree.
Drew: Carmen, do you want to tell people where they can find you and your work?
Drew: If you want them to.
Christina: Unless it’s a boundary.
Carmen: It is not a boundary. You can find my work on autostraddle.com where I give my blood, sweat, and tears every day. And also on Twitter and Instagram, they’re both carmencitaloves which in English would be carmencitaloves if you need that. And that’s it. I think those are all the places where one might find my work. The end.
Drew: Thank you. Thank you for coming on here.
Carmen: I had the best time. This was great.
Drew: You did so good. Thank you so much for listening to Wait, Is This A Date. You can find us on Twitter and Instagram @waitisthisadate and you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christina: Our theme was written by Lauren Klein, our logo is by Maanya Dhar, and this podcast was produced, edited and mixed by Lauren Klein.
Drew: You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok @draw_gregory.
Christina: You can find me on Twitter @c_gracet and on Instagram @christina_gracet. And you can find Autostraddle of course @autostraddle.
Drew: And you can find Autostraddle at autostraddle.com, the reason we’re all here today. Thank you so much and see you next week. Christina, what is the difference between a date and a podcast?
Christina: Oh, actually that’s really interesting that you asked that because scientists are at this very moment horridly trying to figure this out. We have some of our best scholars on this. On the case here, we don’t have an answer, but I think every day we journey closer to understanding.
Drew: I wish them and us the greatest luck.
Drew (voice memo): I have a theory that the people who use the word boundaries the most are some of the people with the worst boundaries. I don’t know if that’s always true, but it feels true, doesn’t it?
Such a delight!