1. Tell us a bit about yourself:
I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, NY before moving to South Florida after graduation when my mother opened a restaurant there. After some failed attempts in the kitchen, I decided to move into another career and worked as a medical disability claims manager for over 15 years.
2. How did My Lesbian Radio come about?
You know when you’re sitting around with your best friend, having a few drinks, talking & gossiping, and laughing so hard that you almost pee your pants? Well, we decided that people needed to hear that. More specifically, that LGBT people needed something that was informative as well as funny, so we created The Lesbian Lounge show and bought a website to broadcast it from. Just for fun. Over the past 7 years, it’s grown into something we’re quite ashamed and proud of at the same time!
3. What has been the most memorable highlight or moment from My Lesbian Radio?
There have been so many, really- a few favourites are: when national recording artist Taylor Dayne called in to the show and I didn’t believe it was really her, then another favourite was bursting out laughing in the studio and spitting diet coke all over Donna. Oh, the list is endless- anytime a big celebrity calls in and we get stupid-excited is always classic.
4. Please tell our followers how you met your wife- we love it!
When Donna and I first started doing the show, we could barely fill 45 minutes, so we would resort to “Open Phones” and it always went downhill, with callers asking filthy questions. I got an email from a listener in Australia who said, “If I could call in, I would ask ‘What type of lunch box did you have when you were a kid? What are your favourite pajamas? Things like that…” So I read her email on the air and it became a great segment that Donna and I loved, it sparked funny and personal conversation, the chat room people were engaged and interactive and loved to play along- so I asked this Australian girl if she could write up 4 questions each week and we’d do a weekly piece called “From Down Under: Jemma Wants to Know”- and she did. Every week for 3 years without fail. Over the course of time, we got to know each other a little via emails, and she finally had saved up for a month long holiday to the States and asked if she could meet up with us. Of course, we couldn’t wait to meet this “young girl” from Oz. Well, I didn’t do the math in my head, over three years, and this young girl was now a grown up young woman- and when she stepped out of the car in my parking lot, my heart skipped a beat! Four years later, a million airline points, we’re legally married and living together in London.
5. What are some differences between living in the USA to the UK that some people may not be aware of? What some of your favourite British-isms?
First of all- these tiny little nuggets the British people call “cars”- secondly, the bicycle path sized streets, and the hand gesture “wave” that basically means, “No, you go ahead, I’ll wait.” Those were the obvious ones- the longer I’ve lived here, the more things I noticed: Tube Stations smell like pee, you don’t stand in line, you “queue up”, and your beds are like something one of the seven dwarfs slept in. My favourite new words: “Wanker” “Nob” “Snog” “Shag” and the funniest to me “quid”- It’s money….a “quid” sounds like something on the bottom of a fish tank.
6. When did you come out and how did your friends and family react?
I came out at the age of 28, and was married to a great guy for almost 4 years, at the time. It was a difficult time and it could have been terrible, but thankfully, he was understanding, supportive and I think because of that, my family (as well as his!) were extremely compassionate kind and caring. We’re still close. Even our families are. He has a wonderful fiancé, who I adore, and we all hang out when I’m backing the States for a visit.
7. Do you feel that it is important to be out and proud as a lesbian?
I do. I think when your out & proud, you’re proving to yourself and to the world that it’s okay to be who you are. You don’t just kick the closet door down for you, ultimately, you’re opening it for someone else who may not have had the courage or strength to do it, until they see you living the life they could have.
8. Do you think that there is a lack of lesbian role models? If so, Why?
I used to think that about 10 years ago, but lately, I see that changing. Whether it’s anti-bullying campaigns, or just self-awareness, I see strong, smart, big hearted people stepping up and rallying for change, like Lady Gaga, Rosie, Ellen, Chely Wright, Wanda Sykes, Cathy DeBuono, Katherine Brooks, and that trickles down to educators, organisers, coaches, even parents, who are all making an effort to be positive role models in today’s society,-lesbians or straight allies- it’s a slow and steady shift. But it’s happening.
9. Do you have any advice to those struggling with their sexual orientation or fearful of coming out?
My best advice for anyone struggling about their sexual orientation is to REACH OUT. Find resources locally, online, thru therapy, support groups, gay youth groups, GSA’s, LGBT organisations, and talk about your fears, talk through them, listen to other people’s stories-really listen-and you’ll find you’re not alone. You’ll find the support, comfort & strength and then when the time is right, you’ll know when and how to come out.
10. Anything else to add?
For all of you long distance couples out there, like Whitney & Megan, just keep the faith.