Article Originally Published by Haley Arnold on North Texas Daily
When WTFemme Podcast founder and co-host Marie de Menthe was asked about what it meant to be femme, she found she did not fully know how to answer. As a member of the queer community herself, she said she found it difficult to define aspects of queer identity and gender without using stereotypical terms. This brought de Menthe, who had been wanting to start her own show, to create a podcast aimed at answering a specific question: “What does being femme mean?”
“That just kind of became the driving force behind the concept of the show,” de Menthe said. “Let’s figure out what that answer is because it’s not the same for everyone … I started late in the queer community, so I had a really late start in trying to figure out like, ‘Who are femmes and what do femmes look like and what do queer people that are outside of the non-traditional expectations look like, talk like, and act like?’ So it was kind of another way for me to get to know more about that as well.”
De Menthe started uploading episodes for WTFemme Podcast in January 2019. One of her earlier episodes featured now-co-host Birdie Holly, whom de Menthe knew through burlesque performances. Twelve episodes into the solo show, Holly joined as a co-host.
“If you go back and listen to the episode [featuring Holly], kind of towards the end is pretty much how we decided, right then and there, that she was going to be on the show,” de Menthe said. “I was getting tired of doing it by myself.”
Holly said she was interested in becoming a co-host because having her own show was a longtime dream.
“I loved music and stuff growing up, and I was always like, ‘I want to have my own radio show,’” Holly said. “I like talking to people a lot too. And so when I saw [de Menthe] doing this I was like, ‘If you ever need a co-host, please let me know.’”
The weekly episodes typically alternate between Femmeisodes, which exclusively feature the WTFemme team, and interview episodes where other femmes, marginalized genders and allies discuss what being femme means to them.
“We’ve had a lot of very intriguing and also very similar answers, and I feel like it’s really cool to hear everyone’s version or definition of femme or what it means to them and seeing the similarities,” Holly said. “A lot of the answers to some are really fun.”
The podcast has featured around 50 individuals, including The Queer Off‘s Kylee O’Hara Fatale and Tejana Feminist Talks‘ Leslie Lopez. In their most recent Femmeisode, which also features WTFemme Social Media Manager Tori Falcon, they discussed astrology, pop culture news, mental health and answered audience questions.
Falcon met de Menthe at the Dentonite and joined the team in early November 2019, which she said has offered her a space to be heard as a Latina in which she had not previously found in other community organizations. Kurt Van Zandt of Big Stink Productions rounds out the WTFemme team as the show’s producer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced WTFemme Podcast to move its recording sessions from Stoke Coworking Space to their individual homes. But Holly said learning through the setback opened them up to new opportunities, as conducting interviews virtually has allowed them to talk to people from other states.Additionally, WTFemme Podcast is passionate about showing up for the Black community. At present, 13.12 percent of the revenue from their merch sales will be donated to the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, which addresses the inequalities faced in the Black transgender human experience. De Menthe said they plan on donating to a new organization every eight weeks.
The pandemic also required them to move their live shows online, which were originally scheduled for May and June and would have been their first live shows. Instead, they hosted the first event in their private Facebook group and the second on their main Facebook page. Both of these shows included fundraisers for the Denton queer community, with the first show raising $100 for OUTreach Denton and the second raising $300 for Pridenton.
Holly and de Menthe’s ultimate goal for the podcast is to turn it into their full-time job, as they both currently work outside of the show. Following the pandemic, they hope to resume doing live shows.
“We would love to do a tour show with pretty much the same format we’ve established with these other two shows, but feature performers and interview someone or a group of someones from each specific area,” de Menthe said.
De Menthe also said she hopes the podcast will serve as a time capsule for the queer community.
“Another problem that we see within the queer community is that a lot of queer history is not well documented, if not already knowingly erased,” de Menthe said. “And so we thought it was super important to have queer creative artists’ stories documented while we still can.”
As the team behind WTFemme Podcast has invited people to define femme in their own words, the experience has expanded their own understanding of the term. Falcon said the podcast has helped her become more comfortable exploring and embracing the queer part of her identity.
“I think femme is often something that people don’t really understand truly what it means and have a hard time untying it [from] womanhood because that’s not what it is — it is not tied to womanhood,” Falcon said. “And I think being able to be a part of this and see all these answers that are limitless really shows you … It’s limitless because femme in and of itself is limitless.”
Holly said she has learned how to appreciate and tap into her own strength and dispel the stigma surrounding being powerful as a woman.
“I love that in a lot of people’s answers, one of the first things they say is strong or strength or power,” Holly said. “Because that is not a word I feel comfortable using about myself, but I’m learning to. And it’s become really empowering to embrace that.”
Listen to WTFemme Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher and become a Patreon member for additional perks.
Featured image: WTFemme co-hosts Marie de Menthe and Birdie Holly. Courtesy WTFemme podcast
Source: North Texas Daily