VOX 1: Hi!
VOX 2: Hi.
VOX 3: Hi Nancy.
VOX 4: Hi Kathy and Tobin.
VOX 5: My name is Elin.
VOX 6: Hey y'all. My name is Justin, I'm from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
VOX 7: My name's Marie, I'm in Kansas City, Missouri.
VOX 8: Hey y'all, this is Theresa in Portland Oregon.
VOX 9: My name is Pia and I'm from Perth, West Australia.
VOX 10: My name is Gale, I'm French but I live in Germany.
VOX 11: And something interesting about me is that three of my siblings are also queer.
VOX 12: Still working on coming out and all that. Looking for a gaggle.
VOX 13: While Portland is full of queers, I'm pretty sure I'm the only queer Muslim in the whole state.
VOX 14: And I'm gonna try to use this gaggle project to meet someone to go to London Pride with this year.
VOX 9: It's 20-gay-teen, I need to find my people.
[THEME MUSIC STARTS]
VOX: From WNYC Studios, this is Nancy.
VOX: With your hosts, Tobin Low and Kathy Tu.
[THEME MUSIC ENDS]
KATHY: It has been 6 weeks since we launched our “How to get a gaggle” project, where we gave our listeners weekly challenges to help them make new friends. And the reaction to it has completely blown our minds, agree?
TOBIN: Yes. Mind blown. More than 3,000 folks signed up. Kathy, what were the challenges we gave them?
KATHY: Week 1: reach out to someone. Week 2: go on a friend date. Week 3: go to a queer event.
TOBIN: Getting scarier.
KATHY: Week 4: host a brunch!
TOBIN: Now if you’ve already got your group of friends, this might seem almost too easy. But when you’re starting out from scratch, you’ve got to take baby steps. And let me tell you, baby steps were taken all over the US, and all over the world!
KATHY: Yes! Like Australia, China, the UK.
TOBIN: Also on our Facebook group, there are over 1,200 people!
KATHY: That Facebook group is just so pure. So genuine. Everyone is so supportive of each other. People are already starting their own subgroups. It makes me emotional thinking about it and you know I am not an emotional person.
TOBIN: You're not naturally an emotional person. I can get you there if I tell you about like, a dog that's sad. But seriously we're so touched that there's been such a positive response to the project. Especially because making adult friends is hard, I mean I have trouble with it too.
KATHY: So today, we’re going to check in with some of you to see how it's been going -- what worked, what didn’t -- and to see if you have advice for the folks who are maybe still having a hard time and need a push.
PIA: When I heard the episode, I was like, yes yes yes yes. This is just what I need.
TOBIN: This is Pia. She lives in Australia, she considers herself pretty outgoing, good at making plans. And last year, she went to a queer event and something magical happened...
PIA: I was having a great time and I met some really cool people. And my car got locked in the car park. So it was at that stage that two people in particular that I'd met, Thomas and Kate, were like, “this is a sign, let's have dinner and kick on.” So we did kick on. We ended up at this club and I did not get home until the wee hours of the morning. And you know like if we were a TV show, this would’ve been our pilot episode where we became the best of friends and then we would have like twelve seasons.
PIA: I organized for us to all go to brunch. And it was terrible. It was really, really bad. Very awkward. And I was like, “Oh, no. Maybe the only thing that we have in common is that we like to date people of the same gender or…” Yeah I don’t know. It just didn’t work. And so I was like, “Okay cool, I guess I will give this a miss.”
PIA: And that's when the episode came along. I reached out to them again and was like “let's hang.” And we decided to go down to the river to have a picnic and again what I thought would have been like a two hour picnic ended up being 4 ½ hours. We are definitely on our way to becoming a cool little group of friends. And the T.V. show that should have been three or four years ago is finally taking off. It's like we had our pilot episode, and no one picked us up, and someone now has picked us up and off we go.
KATHY: So Tobin, what is the lesson here?
TOBIN: The lesson is not to think of friendship in terms of TV because if you go back and watch the show Friends, they're actually shitty friends to each other, they're not great.
KATHY: No! I think the lesson is that if at first you don’t succeed, you keep trying!
TOBIN: That works too. I guess.
TOBIN: I guess.
COREY: My name is Corey. I’m a longtime listener and I live in a small town in Louisiana called Lafayette, Louisiana.
KATHY: Corey has been out for about a decade, he’s married, and he lives in a place where there aren’t a lot of out people -- and on top of that, people are always moving away. So finding and keeping a gaggle is really challenging.
COREY: The problem is that as soon as I find a gaggle people move away, so every time I felt like I would establish a good group of friends it was like a fleeting concept, where I couldn't get solid circle of people together and I always felt like I was constantly trying to rebuild that group.
KATHY: At one point, he and his husband even considered moving to a different city… because they thought maybe it was just impossible to make lasting friends where they were.
COREY: And then something really random happened to me. I ran into an acquaintance of mine. He was with his fiance at the time. And they invited us to come hang out with them and their group of friends and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, which seems to be kind of the gateway to a lot of friendships with gay friends and in this day and age. I was apprehensive to do it. I felt really uncomfortable and decided to go against my instinct of playing it safe and said “Sure we'll go.” And so we went and ended up having a great time.
TOBIN: Oh my God, Drag Race, such a unifying force, bringing people together.
KATHY: I don't get it Tobin I just don't.
TOBIN: You shut your mouth Kathy, you keep Drag Race out of your mouth!
KATHY: Okay! Anyway, now they hang out all the time, they even travel together.
TOBIN: Ah, my heart. That is lovely!
KATHY: Yeah! And Corey discovered something that resonated with me. He realized that one day, this group of friends still might move away. And that’s okay.
COREY: Attaining the perfect group is not realistic, but if you put yourself out there and get out of your comfort zone and get out of your own way, new experiences and people are actually going to find you.
KATHY: One of the things we heard on our Friends of Nancy Facebook group was: “I really want to meet other people, but I don’t want to have to go to a bar.” Which I totally relate to, as you know Tobin, because I can’t drink, and a bar scene really brings out all of my anxieties.
TOBIN: That’s true.
KATHY: So people suggested going to volunteer groups, game nights, inclusive gyms, hiking meetups…
TOBIN: I had no idea all that existed!
KATHY: Yes. And it’s all a good reminder that friendship happens out in the world -- it’s in the activities you do together, the text messages, the way you share your life with other people.
TOBIN: Yeah, agree!
KATHY: And we heard from this one listener who said this was especially important to her to find a queer gaggle outside of the bar scene, because she’s not just looking for a gaggle for herself.
ELIZABETH: My name's Elizabeth Richardson and I'm from Montgomery, Alabama.
KATHY: Elizabeth and her wife are also looking for a gaggle for their family, a group that would welcome their son.
ELIZABETH: Yes, he's eight years old his name's Lee. He's interested in baseball and Marvel movies and he’s my whole world.
KATHY: What sort of friends do you think you're looking for?
ELIZABETH: It would be really nice to find family oriented queer people in the community that you know we can have over and have our kids play and, you know, that way we can acclimate Lee to other families like ours. There's been some instances at school where...I know that he's gotten picked on a little bit. And for him to have other kids to be able to share those things with would definitely help him get past those types of situations, you know, having somebody there for him to relate to.
ELIZABETH: I have a lot of straight friends that are very supportive of my wife and I and our family. But at the same time, it would just be really nice to be able to have people to talk to that can relate to things that we go through. Like going to do something as simple as grocery shopping with our family and somebody two aisles from us in Wal-Mart starts chuckling and calling us dykes in front of our eight year old. I mean, things like that, you know, just...Yeah.
ELIZABETH: Baseball season’s five days a week. It's like having a second full time job.
KATHY: Five days a week?
ELIZABETH: Yes! It's outrageous, Kathy.
KATHY: Wait, but your son is eight years old.
ELIZABETH: Yeah he's eight years old and he made straight A’s.
KATHY: This kid. He knows what he's doing.
ELIZABETH: If he was struggling, that would’ve been the end of that. Real quick. His schoolwork goes first.
ELIZABETH: Yeah. Well actually last night we were at the last ball game and I’d put something on Facebook about how you know we're involved in East Montgomery baseball and somebody had posted and said “hey we're in the age group of ahead of y’all.” She actually saw me last night and been creeping looking for me.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, we exchange phone numbers and we're supposed to set something up.
KATHY: So going to baseball 5 days a week actually helped you make friends!
ELIZABETH: Yeah. I just haven't you know followed through with it yet because it was just yesterday but…
KATHY: Well when you do finally meet up, your first pizza is on me!
TOBIN: I think one of the hardest part for me with making new friends is, I am okay at the first conversation, or maybe the first hangout, I can get through that. It's always hangout two, three or four where I get weird and in my head about it. So I have to push past that and be like I have to push past that and be like no, I want to be friends with this person, I'm going to organize more hangouts.
KATHY: My problem is the initial contact. I did that a few times during our project, but it was really hard. And it never got easier! I can imagine if you’re not frequently on social media, or maybe you’re not on it at all, it would be even more challenging.
TOBIN: Sometimes it's not enough to conquer your social anxiety and find a queer meet-up, there are other barriers that can also make it hard.
LISTENER: I haven't done very well so far but I'm going to keep trying.
TOBIN: This is a listener who wrote to us and who asked us to keep her identity private -- so our producer Alice is reading her note:
LISTENER: Part of the problem is just everyday living-with-chronic-illness stuff. I have good days and bad days and it’s hard to make plans when you can't be sure what your pain or energy levels are going to be. So I've had to take the challenges more slowly than managing one a week.
KATHY: Another thing that we heard is that the line between friendship and romance can be complicated.
SAMUEL: Last year for Pride was like right after I came out and I went out and I tried and like got people’s numbers to try and like hang out with them and stuff like that.
KATHY: This is Samuel, he’s from Brooklyn and he identifies as bi.
SAMUEL: I ended up hanging out with a couple of guys...And almost all of them eventually tried to have sex with me. Or like made a pass, you know, or “I could just suck you off just as friends” or something like that and we can go watch a movie. And it was just that feeling of like, there being no borders in a friendship like that. That's a weird space to navigate.
KATHY: And then there’s the question of what kind of friendship you want to make -- like, do you want a new best friend? Or someone who shares a particular interest? Maybe you’re looking for someone who can help guide you.
RICARDO: So my name is Ricardo Raphael Corona Moreno. I live in Emeryville, California.
KATHY: Ricardo has queer friends, who he socializes with -- and he has mentors, who help him with career stuff (he works in tech). But what he’s looking for is someone who is a mix of both.
RICARDO: Yesterday, I was having tea chat with one of my mentors who happens to be a lesbian and has a partner, and we had that chat and it was just really clear to me that the engagement was so much more fulfilling when you're open about who you are, you know, when you draw that connection between your personal narrative your professional narrative. They don't have to be separate.
KATHY: What do you what are you looking for in a mentor?
RICARDO: What I want to learn the most is what landmines to avoid like what can I do to grow quickly without having to suffer and experience pain, because that's that's what I experienced when I was younger. And I think if I had a role model or mentor or even parents I could talk to about my sexuality or how I thought about life, I would have been a little bit less isolated. I would have more community. That's just good for humans in general.
[MIDROLL MUSIC STARTS]
TOBIN: Coming up: we check in on our first Nancy friendtervention, the person who started all of this.
TOBIN: We’re going to reunite with Joe, to see how he’s been doing since his first gay brunch.
VOX: This is Sophie. And Laura. And Terry. Playing Scattergories in Northampton, Massachusetts, AKA Lesbianville. Nancy will be back in a minute.
[MIDROLL MUSIC ENDS]
TOBIN: And we’re back!
KATHY: Tobin, while I was doing week 3 of the Gaggle challenge...which is going out to queer events, I went to something in New York called Queer Soup Night.
TOBIN: Oh my gosh, I love Queer Soup Night. I’ve always wanted to go!
KATHY: Queers and soup, like what else do you need?
TOBIN: It’s two of the things you love.
KATHY: So I went, it was amazing, and I discovered, of course, there’s a whole gaggle of queer friends who power this thing...and I’ve been calling them the “Expert Gaggle." And I say expert because they've been keeping this gaggle going for years, through life changes, through relationships and conflicts, and they are still going strong. So I was like "you gotta teach me your ways!"
KATHY:So on a Sunday morning at 10am…
LIZ: I’m going for onion because I don’t have anybody to kiss...
KATHY:...we gathered for a bagel brunch at an apartment in Brooklyn.
VOICES: Jen. Amy. Dez. Elea. Zoe. Liz. Kathleen.
KATHY:We all sat around in the living room. An adorable, super-energetic dog named Cash was running around. People were talking to each other and over each other and it felt like a happy family gathering.
JEN: Do you have a gaggle?
KATHY: I have...I have a podcast.
KATHY: No but actually I don’t think...I made a list of people that I think I might just invite out to do a thing together, but I haven't done that yet.
LIZ: Kathy, you’re like coaching all these people. We can coach you.
KATHY: Oh, please do, please do! Please.
AMY: When I first met this whole crew I was like I might be in love with everyone. You know what I mean? And that can get confusing. Like it can get confusing. And also like people have dated in the group. You know it's like it's like all it changes in that way too and then like sometimes like girlfriends come into the crew and then leave so there's like a lot of maneuvering of that. Like because I told like SAME like made out with Jill, had a date that was weird and then she was like “I have these cool friends that I think that you would really like.” And I just showed up you know, and I just kept showing up.
DEZ: I think you have to do stuff together like...besides like going out to bars and stuff, you know? You really have to like show up, like carve out the time to do other stuff. I think it's important to see each other in all these different contexts right. Like beach days or museum days like find your common interests and then like go do that stuff also together, not just like go out. I feel like those are those one dimensional friendships.
ZOE: Yeah you have to walk through a fire together, which is going to the beach.
ZOE: Like if you’re still friends after you’re dehydrated and covered in sand, and you’ve seen ALL of your exes, then you’re gonna be fine.
DEZ: Yeah, then it’s all good.
LIZ: I think that if you are like saying, “oh I want to meet my group of friends,” 50% of the time you just need to show up to where someone invites you, and 50% of the time you need to invite someone to show up. And then, somewhere between those two things happening, you start to form a group. And that’s what happens. And that’s it, that’s the whole process, you know?
ZOE: I'm the newest part of the gaggle.
KATHY: And you brought the bagels.
ZOE: And I brought the bagels because I know...I know my place. But I would say for me when I first met Amy and realized that she was part of this really solid and supportive group, I kind of assumed that like that circle doesn't want to expand anymore. Like they’re so set and it's so hard already to maintain a bunch of friendships, a bunch of like best friendships, that there's no way there's no way they would like to take the time to get to know someone else. So a piece of advice that I try to remember is that like if you're a queer person and you enter a new space in a new friend group, like you can bet on the fact that that group wants to keep expanding and growing.
DEZ: I moved to New York when I was 19 and now I'm 34 and I didn't start meeting the people in this room until I was 25. So I like had all these iterations of friend groups from 19 to 26. It took me like seven years and that's like when it started when I met Liz and like everything kind of like blossomed from there, yeah, but it took a minute.
DEZ: I really feel like that element of like support and stuff, though, like we think about that stuff. Like when we make food, we have to make sure there’s Jen-friendly and Amy-friendly food, you know?
AMY: You guys are so good about that.
DEZ: And like I’m having my top surgery in like a week and a half, and everyone's like, “We out here, we’re coming!”
LIZ: There’s going to be a phone chain, by the way.
DEZ: Amanda will text Liz who will text all of you that I’m like out of surgery.
LIZ: I’ll put you on the group text. Actually that was a thing. I was like, “Jen, should I put Kathy on the group text?”
KATHY: Would be honored to be on the text, the text chain.
TOBIN: So Kathy, are you part of that gaggle now?
KATHY: Aspirationally, they are my gaggle. I am slowly making my way in. I have sent a few texts. We will see.
TOBIN: Oh good luck, I wish you luck!
KATHY: Thank you.
KATHY: So friendship takes time.
KATHY: It takes guts -- like, to put yourself out there.
KATHY: It takes effort -- it’s an ongoing commitment.
KATHY: Which is why I’m so curious about our friend Joe!
TOBIN: Aw Joe!
KATHY: When we first me Joe, he was having trouble making friends, and Tobin did a friendtervention.
TOBIN: I did. We worked on how to walk up to someone at a bar and make small talk. We set him up with a coach named Fran Tirado, who hosts the great podcast Food 4 Thot. And then he had this lovely brunch with a bunch of new friends he’d assembled.
KATHY: So how is Joe doing?
TOBIN: Well, I brought him into the studio for a lil update.
TOBIN: So Joe.
JOE: Yeah hi.
TOBIN: It's been about a month since the episode came out, since we've done this whole gaggle project with you. I'm so curious, how is it going like how's that gaggle going? Is there still a gaggle?
JOE: There is! The gaggle it is a thing. We exist, we exist, we're a thing not just in my head like physically emotionally like it's a real thing.
TOBIN: So like you've hung out again.
JOE: Yeah we have actually hang out again on Friday we're having a little get together at home and probably going out and just like being gays and just frolicking.
TOBIN: Oh I love that.
JOE: That's what you do yes frolic you frolic on Fridays.
TOBIN: And you attack pedestrians.
JOE: The straighties.
TOBIN: Oh that's so wonderful.
JOE: Yeah it's exciting. Pretty frequently now we snap all the time and chat and just randomly FaceTime and I always feel like when I want to communicate with somebody I'm like intrusive which is like all the time. But now this relationship at the end I've just been more relaxed about it just like randomly FaceTiming because most likely as with like all of us we’re just laying in bed just like scrolling on our phones so like why not face time and it's just it's slowly becoming this more familiar feeling because I've becoming so accustomed to them and seeing them more and more often.
TOBIN: You did so good!
JOE: Did I? Yeah! I was surprised I'm surprised myself but I did as well as I did.
TOBIN: When I first met you we talked a lot about this expectation that you had for what life would be like you know an adult man. From shows like Will and Grace from shows like Queer As Folk. Do you feel like that expectation changed for you at all working on this project.
JOE: Absolutely because what we see on T.V. Or movies are actually just highlights of like people to if we actually got to see you Will Truman like day to day in his office like it's very much like the rest of us like he's just sending emails and making phone calls and none of that interesting.
JOE: And like we all want to be like Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On 30. But like that just doesn't happen. It's my dream by the way.
TOBIN: Such a specific reference!
JOE: Oh my gosh I just want to be her she lives this-- this beautiful apartment and she lives this life and she's just like optimistic and positive.That's the first movie I was like oh I like men. Mark Ruffalo is everything in that movie.
JOE: There's a saying I forgot probably on some Tumblr post or Reddit post I saw That's like social media is just like the highlight reel of your life and just being at peace with being mundane is fine and just like making the efforts to see your friends is the highlight reel that we all want to see? I guess, does that makes sense?
TOBIN: Yeah, that is the correct voice for quoting a Tumblr quote.
TOBIN: "Life is like a box of cho-" do think so you talk about expectations of life do you think your expectations of friendship changed working on this project.
JOE: Yes especially on my way here is thinking back to when I spoke with Fran who I still talk to.
JOE: Yeah, yeah, he's awesome he's great he's awesome. And he being more conscious of making a conscious effort to see and call and just like communicate with their friends is an effort it's like a conscious effort because you get caught up in day to day things and you just kind of forget but to like actually plan something out like this party to get together I think that's great.
TOBIN: Do you feel like you've changed personally?
JOE: Yes and no. I've put friendship on like and like the need to communicate and just be with people and a little bit of a higher pedestal. As far as confidence like, no. I'm still very, yeah, just not confident. Just not super confident. And I still heavily rely on self deprecation but it is getting a little better speaking with my friends because they do keep me in check about like my self-esteem and my confidence.
TOBIN: I think there is a way in which you talked about confidence when we first talked, which was “Oh I have to fix this about myself in order to get friends.” And I wonder now seeing you have this group that is sort of like accepting you as you are, like do you feel differently about this anxiety you have.
JOE: It's just when I'm alone and have these infiltrating thoughts like you're not good enough you can't do it. And it's so different when you're with your gays because I'm surrounded by straight people all the time and it's exhausting.
TOBIN: They're everywhere.
JOE: The straighties are everywhere. But when I'm with like my queer people and I can be like we can talk about PrEP and Drag Race and there's just a lexicon and terminology that we all just inherently know.
TOBIN: So now you have this group that you're like... it's a burgeoning gaggle basically for you, are there questions that you have are like curiosities of like I wonder how we're going to handle this in the future like how am I going to keep this going and there are things that you're worried about with keeping the group together?
JOE: The biggest thing is just like losing touch and just keeping that alive as best as you can.
TOBIN: Do you have time to get some lunch?
JOE: Yes! I love your nails by the way.
TOBIN: Oh thank you.
JOE: Do you do them yourself?
TOBIN: I do.
JOE: Wow! she's crafty. She's talented.
TOBIN: So before we end, there’s an idea I want to put out there...and that is that if you think you’re the only person without a gaggle, or having trouble making friends, or feeling like everyone else has got this queer friend stuff figured out...you are not alone!
KATHY: Seriously. We have had more than 3,000 people sign up for the Gaggle project…
TOBIN: 3,000 people who are looking for friends!
KATHY: And if you want to participate, go to nancypodcast.org/friends and sign up.
TOBIN: Yes. May the next time you see geese in the sky be a reminder to put yourself out there and open yourself to new friendships.
KATHY: But if the geese are on the ground, maybe leave them alone because they might attack you.
TOBIN: Good advice.
KATHY: Alright, credits!
KATHY: Matt Collette and Alice Wilder!
TOBIN: Sound designer…
KATHY: Jeremy Bloom!
KATHY: Jenny Lawton!
TOBIN: Executive Producer…
KATHY: Paula Szuchman!
TOBIN: I’m Tobin Low.
KATHY: I’m Kathy Tu.
TOBIN: And Nancy is a production of WNYC Studios.
[CREDITS MUSIC ENDS]
VOX: Amy has a much better radio voice so you're really going to want to hear Amy talk.
AMY: Hey everybody out there in Radioland. I just want to say that if you’re single you can reach me at gall696969xxx