Tagg Magazine reaches far beyond our print circulation in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Rehoboth Beach, and Founder and Managing Editor Eboné F. Bell has launched a new biweekly podcast Tagg Nation to speak directly to that national and international audience. Bell says, “We love our print publication, but a lot of people are finding us online and we chose a podcast because there just aren’t a lot of radio or podcasts dedicated to the queer women’s community.”
Bell recruited three very different women to anchor the show that will cover a mix of news and current events, entertainment, media, politics, culture, and more. Katy Ray, Chelsea Shorte, and Jade Salazar have great chemistry and bring a range of perspectives to each segment. Ray says, “Hopefully each of us will resonate with different audiences. I’m ultra femme and really goofy. Chelsea’s humor is really great and really dry, and both of us take on extreme and opposite ideas. Jade is our voice of reason, but each of us can counteract and challenge each other.”
The podcast features a few recurring segments in addition to interviews and the occasional hilarious tangent:
Beyond the content, one of the most important things about Tagg Nation and every Tagg offering is community. Bell says, “That’s the reason we started the magazine, to build a community and we want to expand on that with the podcast.” All three podcasters echoed Bell that they want this to become a conversation. The website www.taggnation.com includes all the episodes and ways to connect with the podcasters; it gives listeners a chance to shape future podcast episodes and connect with each other. Listeners will be able to also weigh-in on the Tagg Nation Facebook page.
Bell insists the intended audience is “everyone,” but realizes the people most likely to tune in are queer women around the U.S.–a natural growth of the same great community that has already been building around the local magazine. It includes gender queer, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Salazar also insists this is a great resource for allies to hear about queer culture, women, and current events from people who are actually affected by the news.
The podcast has found a great sponsor to get it off the ground in The Dupre Keating Group at Morgan Stanley. Megan Keating and Dawn Dupre are partners and financial advisers specializing in LGBT financial planning. They immediately signed onto help launch Tagg Nation. Bell says she also looks forward to “introducing the community to more businesses that want to support us.”
Almost everyone knows Katy Ray because she shows up almost everywhere; she is a promoter, DJ, and emcee at the oldest lesbian bar in the country Phase 1 and a supporter of dozens of other events around the community. She moved to the district when she was 21 and dived right in. She admits, “If you’re involved in the women’s community in D.C., chances are you’ve probably heard of me or met me – so that can be a good thing or a bad thing.”
Another passion of hers is LGBTQ youth. She works to connect youth with various LGBTQ non-profits and is a donor and on the host committee for SMYAL (Sexually Minority Youth Assistance League), which is the only non-profit in Washington dedicated to LGBTQ youth. She says, “I want to see the spirit of our community grow and be strong in these young people. There is nothing more important than protecting and supporting our youth.” Ray has received recognition for her work through awards like Best of Gay D.C. and the Next Generation Leadership award.
As a volunteer and activist in the community, she’s the chair of marketing and promotions for the Capital Queer Women’s Summit, which Tagg hosts with the Human Rights Campaign. The Ladies & Laughter Comedy Show opens the summit, which continues with a daylong slate of workshops, panels, and entertainment at HRC’s headquarters.
On the podcast, her baby is “What’s Hot and What’s Not,” where they “give accolades to those who deserve and throw shade at those who get served.” She is particularly fond of what’s not: “People out there are just bonkers. I can’t use any other word. The conservative agenda and amount of misinformation circulating through it terrifies me.” She is relishing the opportunity to set the record straight, as it were. She also appreciates the points of view of her co-hosts. “We are all different but we all have commonalities. This is a really great way to unite all of us and explore ourselves and our sexualities and to talk about issues that we are facing in the LGBTQ community.”
As a frequent writer for the magazine, she’s particularly excited about the podcast segment “In This Issue,” covering articles from the magazine. So much of what is written in Tagg is really for the whole LGBTQ community and the podcast is an opportunity to get the word out.
She says everyone should tune in because “there are not a lot of places that we can unite as members of a greater community that is really under fire politically, socially, and economically. When you go on Facebook, people are ranting but not communicating. On the podcast, we are not changing people’s point of view necessarily, but we are encouraging people to open up the dialogue.”
Chelsea Shorte describes herself as a comedian, storyteller, writer, and “regular gay”. When asked for a biography of her life she says, “I love to go out and party. I love to look good. I don’t hold back on shoes or eccentric blazers. And I love having fun and bringing happiness where ever I go.”
What she’s too modest to mention is that she’s been tearing up the comedy scene, performing at many D.C. venues like ComedySportz, the DC Improv, and the Kennedy Center. She was also invited to audition for NBC’s Last Comic Standing. She moved to Washington six years ago for a job and started doing comedy because, she says, “I wanted to smile more.”
She heard about the possibility of a podcast years ago and is thrilled it’s finally here. She sees herself as the comic relief on air but can also get into the fray during more serious discussions. She says, “One of my favorite things to do is contradict Katy Ray, so any chance I get to do that, I get really excited.” But she’s also well aware of comedy’s traditional role in unmasking truth, tearing down pretensions, and telling it like it is – which she is not afraid to do.
Her favorite segment is “What’s Hot and What’s Not” because “I like to rip both the Hot and Not to shreds.”
She says everyone should tune in “if you’re sitting at your desk and you want to hear queer identified person talk about queer issues, tune in. If you think my voice is sexy, you should tune in. If you like hearing people argue with Katy Ray, tune in.”
Jade Salazar has been in D.C. for many years. She’s especially excited to be on Tagg Nation because she loves the podcast as a medium and listens to dozens every week. On the podcast, she insists, “I’m the normal one. I’m not really from that promotional background like Katy Ray or a comedian like Chelsea. I’m not used to getting onstage.” Already, she’s found herself to be the mediator between her two outspoken co-hosts and is happy to bring the everyday queer experience and the “middle” voice of the community.
She’s also a dedicated advocate for LGBTQ and women’s right and believes this podcast to be important to these causes because there is not enough media out there by and for queer women. She says, “We are all hungry for media that really speaks to us.” She hopes when people sign on they learn something, enjoy themselves, and connect to this community, especially if they’re living in a place where that’s not easy to do.
She says, “Every time we have a Tagg meeting, we sit down and talk about community and segregation and trans issues and more. We want to break down barriers and walls and reach out and get to know each other, and we now get to take that to a larger audience.”
Her passion on the show is the segment “Queer History with Jade.” She confesses she’s become a bit of an encyclopedia. She’s always loved history classes and finding out the stories of people’s lives, but really got into it after listening to the podcast “Stuff You Missed in History Class.” She began to seek out “weird books and all of the hundreds of things you don’t learn in class.” That’s particularly true of queer history, which has remained largely in the closet. History is so vital because “everything that happens in the world makes us what we are right now.”
She says everyone should tune in because “we have so much to tell you. We have queer history. We have current events and important discussions, things you’re already talking about that we can bring a different perspective to. We also want you to get involved, whether you’re first coming out or already involved in the community.”
The show launched in April 2015 with three episodes on iTunes and Stitcher with more due every two weeks. You can also find out more and connect with the hosts on Facebook and comment on www.taggnation.com.
In the first episode, they dive right in and cover enterprising women from the last issue of the magazine. They introduce Ruby Corado who founded the only bilingual LGBT organization operating six days a week in D.C. and Chanel Turner, the founder of FOU-DRÉ vodka. It’s worth listening to just to hear the story of how FOU-DRÉ came to be. They also interview Dana Goldberg, one of the top five lesbian comics in the country who has some poignant advice for new comics. Beyond that, they tackle everything from the Presbyterian Church to Madonna. It’s hilarious and informative.
Episode one does show some growing pains, like that first pancake off the griddle, so be sure to stick around because the women find their groove by episode two where they dig right into femme problems and privilege, Kerry Washington and the phenomenon of awarding straight allies, the infamous letter against gay marriage by a woman raised by a lesbian couple, and a bit of history with the Compton Cafeteria riot. The podcasters also get very personal and reveal something very few others know—until now.
Often when you want to hear about the laws affecting queer women, want to find a key moment in history, or just want to prove to yourself that other queer women exist and are awesome, you get crickets back from the internet…but no longer! With the Tagg Nation podcast, you can find everything that’s lesbian, queer, and under the rainbow.