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Roxane Gay: Fight and Create Change, But Don't Forget to Have Fun

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We spoke with queer feminist author Roxane Gay about 'Hear to Slay' and the Werk It women's podcast festival.

Two prominent feminist authors and professors, Roxane Gay (above, top left) and Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom (top right), recently teamed up to create Hear to Slay, a Luminary podcast that explores the world from a Black feminist perspective. And this Thursday night in Los Angeles you can experience Hear to Slay live as part of Werk It 2019: A Women's Podcast Festival.

The festival takes place at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in L.A. on October 3 and 4, and includes two full days of conversations, workshops, live tapings, networking events, and one-on-one mentoring sessions. Werk It also features a "Podcast Accelerator" -- which gives you an opportunity to pitch a show, incubate a pilot, and score a development deal with festival host, WNYC Studios.

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The Advocate got a chance to chat with iconic feminist bisexual author Gay (Bad Feminist, Ayita) just before the festival began.

Gay says she was first inspired to do a podcast a couple years ago after doing a pilot for WNYC "that didn't quite work out. And as I was thinking about working on a podcast this time around.... I took a look at my schedule and just realized I needed a partner in the project. Tressie McMillan Cottom was incredibly intelligent and hilarious and real, and we get along very well. We've been friends for quite some time and I was well to be able to reach out to her and say, 'Hey, let's try this.' And a podcast was born."

With its Black feminist power team in place, Hear to Slay was ready to be heard. But what exactly did they want to say? Gay says she and Cottom (author of Thick: And Other Essays and Led On) consciously wanted to inject fun and laughter into the conversation and also honor women's humanity, not just their activism. In essence, she says Hear to Slay is not a podcast necessarily always about Black feminism, but one that simply explores the world from a Black feminist perspective.

"I think it's incredibly important," says Gay. "I think that we tend to forget that people contain multitudes and that you can be serious about creating change and you can be serious about doing good in the world and also have fun. It doesn't have to be relentless about the fight all the time. That's a privilege, certainly a privilege -- but as long as you acknowledge that privilege and do the best you can as often as [you] can, it's totally OK to have fun. We just try to do that on our podcast."

Hear to Slay does indeed cover a lot, from sex to impeachment to the Emmys; no topic is off limits. At LuminaryPodcasts.com, you can listen to new episodes every Tuesday that feature an array of interesting guests and fun and fascinating topics like "Black Girl Nerd Gang."

Tickets to attend the live Hear to Slay podcast on Oct 3 start at $25 and are available here.

Read our complete interview with Roxane Gay in the December print issue of The Advocate magazine.

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