Today we’re joined by Chesh. Chesh is part of the duo behind
Lani and Chesh; Only Confused About Taxes, a podcast that covers a wide variety of topics. I’ll leave the explaining to her, since she’ll do a much better job. Her description had me intrigued and I’ve already subscribed. It’s clear she’s a talented and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I co-host a podcast with my QPR (queer
platonic relationship) called Lani and
Chesh; Only Confused About Taxes (or OCAT for short.) The title comes from
a Tumblr post about bisexuality that talks about how bisexuals are not confused
and it’s not a phase, etc. Someone responded that well, yes actually; they are
a little confused about things like taxes. And it goes on from there. Since
Lani is bi and I’m acearo, both “invisible” orientations often accused of just
“being too young” or “being confused,” we decided it was the perfect tag-line.
OCAT is in constant transition as
we figure out what works best for us, but basically it’s a show about two
friends talking about the world. We want to highlight media that has great
representation, honor religious traditions that are in the minority in the US,
talk about current events, and discuss how to change the world for the better.
There are personal anecdotes, political opinions, and plenty of laughs.
What inspires you?
My co-host inspires me a lot. For
one, she has a number of neurodivergencies and physical ailments that can make
it difficult for her to function in a so called “normal” fashion and despite
that she marches on. She has so much passion and belief in the idea that we can
change the world. I’ve always been more of a “well, guess we’re all fucked
anyway, why bother?” kind of person. She takes “be the change you want to see
in the world” (Gandhi I think?) to a phenomenal level. It’s due to her that we
are starting Shatter Entertainment, a media company devoted to equal
representation of race, gender, sexualities, and more. We want to create things
like an all-female cast recording of Newsies,
write children’s books about the some of the amazing women of the past that
history as we know it ignores, and create tv shows and movies that have strong women,
LGBTQPIA, POC, Disabled, and everyone else that current media often ignores or
lets down. Changing the world requires changing what the world sees. She truly
believes she can make that happen. I want to help.
I’m also pretty inspired by the
change we are currently seeing in the
world, right now. Movies like the new Ghostbusters
and Ocean’s Eight. Shows like Shadowhunters and B99. There are openly trans individuals in government and more and
more people are willing to stand up and say “this is me.” Yeah, we have a
REALLY long way to go, but at least we’re going. If I can contribute to that,
even peripherally, I’d be honored.
What got you interested in your field?
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Lani walked up to me (virtually;
I think it was a text message) about a year ago and said “hey, would you
co-host a show with me. It’s gonna be the starting point for my new company.”
That’s it. That’s what got me interested in the field. We’re pretty funny
together and as queer individuals on the millennial/gen z divide, we have a
unique perspective on life and society. Podcasting as an art doesn’t interest
me specifically. I’m an organizer by nature. I schedule and edit; I’m a fixer
(in a non-mafia kinda way.) OCAT, and anything that follows, gives me a way to
influence society as a whole, to maybe make it better. Lani’s the creative
half. That being said, there is so much more to podcasting then I ever
realized. There is a ton to learn and plenty of room to grow. Editing,
marketing, planning; it never ends!!
I’ve always wanted to do art on
some level. I’ve dabbled in poetry, fiction, painting, origami, piano, guitar,
recorder, etc. I’m actually not too bad at the poetry and basic origami. But, because
of my depression, I’ve never followed through on much of anything. OCAT is an
amazing opportunity for another chance. I have Lani supporting me, a larger
goal to dream of and focus on, and there are so many options and opportunities
that the podcast does, or potentially may, link me to.
Do you have any kind of special or unique
signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to
We’re a bit too new to have
developed anything like that, really. Mostly, we just try to be honest,
optimistic, and grateful towards all the amazing people who have helped and
What advice would you give young aspiring
It’s super cliché, but practice
and don’t give up. You are probably going to suck when you first start at
whatever it is you’re doing. There will probably be people who are assholes
about that fact. But we can’t all be Mozart’s. And, most of all, YOU HAVE
TIME!!! So many of us in the millennial/gen z generations have had it
indoctrinated into us that we have to have it all figured out by the time we’re
18. That is bullshit!! Pick a subject you enjoy for your undergraduate, instead
of a profitable career path that you don’t really even like. Pursue a new skill
even though you suck and there doesn’t appear to be any money in it. Jump from
field to field for a while; become a jack of all trades, master of none. Study
Buddhism or Paganism or Christianity or investigate a new religious movement.
Some of the most well-known people of our time didn’t “figure it out” until
their 40’s or 50’s or 60’s. Yes you probably could be like that teenager who
started a successful shampoo empire or that musical protégé everyone knows of,
but you probably aren’t and that’s OKAY! Take your time, experiment, and realize that you
and life can and will get better!
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I typically use AceAro (asexual,
aromantic) as my chosen identity terms. Sexuality wise, while I certainly
experience aesthetic appreciation, I’ve never looked at someone and gone “I’d
like to fuck that.” The idea of being in a relationship/having sex with a
celebrity or some random on the street, which the allos in my life assure me is
normal, has never made sense. I don’t know them and they’re probably WAY older
then I am. And they don’t know me, so it’s always seemed kinda creepy. Plus,
I’ve never been turned on just by someone’s appearance which made ace the best
descriptor for me. Confidence is attractive. A certain face or body? Nah, not
Romantically speaking, while I
usually use aromantic for simplicity’s sake, I identify more as quoiromantic,
which basically means I don’t understand what romance is. What makes something romantic
rather than platonic? There’s a difference? It’s hard to look at someone and
think “I’d like to be in a romantic relationship with that person” when you
don’t really know what romance is. The term comes for the French world for
“what,” which is, really, just spot on!
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice
or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Not specifically in my
fields/professions, no. OCAT is too new to have made any sort of waves in the
podcast/communication community, so it’s never really come up. In my 9-5 job,
it just hasn’t been worth discussing. I’m the youngest person in my office by
over 20 years in a conservative part of the country. My coworkers would simply
be confused if I tried to tell them I was this new-fangled thing called
“asexual/aromantic”, and I haven’t deemed it worth trying to explain to a bunch
of grandmothers who still struggle to understand that people can be gay. They
try, but they struggle. So I just don’t say anything.
What’s the most common misconception about
asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The idea that it’s a “phase.”
When I came out to my step-father, he told me that it just wasn’t believable
because I was “too young.” Maybe he’d believe me if I was in my 40’s or
something. (That’s a direct quote and this from a man who’s known he was gay
since he was FIVE.) My mother thinks that I’m only ace because of my
depression. Which 1)even if that’s true, it doesn’t make me any less ace; identity
is still valid even if its influenced by outside factors and 2) has more to do
with her discomfort with labels then with me. My step-father still tries to set
me up with any male who happens to interact with my social media or that I talk
about even briefly (it’s really kinda creepy. Helped me realize I was being
stalked on social media once). Because allos experience sexual attraction and
it’s so consistently reinforced in society, people have trouble conceptualizing
that some of us just…don’t.
What advice would you give to any asexual
individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Take a second, breath. You don’t
have to have this all figured out. Identity is fluid and there are so many
terms and labels out there, ranging from the general to the specific. Do some
research, follow some Tumblr blogs, join a chat room or 12 on Discord. AVEN is
a great starting point. The Invisible
Orientation is a really good book on sexual and romantic identity in
general, although it does focus on asexuality. I defaulted as straight until my
sophomore year of college when I saw a presentation put on by the university’s
sexual and gender diversity club. I didn’t find the aromantic label until a
year later and didn’t use it until I got three months into a relationship and
realized I wanted nothing to do with romance or relationships. It was another
year or two after that that I found quoi and realized that’s what had happened
between me and my ex-girlfriend; I’d taken a platonic friendship too far. Talk
with someone you trust; I can’t count the number of conversations and
freak-outs Lani has walked me through and vice-versa. Try a term for a while.
If it doesn’t fit, try another. We are the children and grandchildren of people
who thought gay could be cured and gender is binary. We are all figuring this
out as we go along with barely a foot path to follow, if that. It’s okay to be
Finally, where can people find out more about
OCAT can be found on GooglePlay
and iTunes as well as on the company website www.shattertheentertainment.com. If you like
us, remember to like, subscribe, and comment. We can also be found on Twitter
(at LaniandChesh and at yerawizardlani) Tumblr (at foiblefoldandflail and at yerawizardlani) and feel free
to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love
to hear from you!
Thank you, Chesh, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.