Today I am so pleased to welcome Jonathan Cohen to Joyfully Jay. Jonathan has come to talk to us about the Lavender Tavern Podcast. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
“Worlds of Our Own” – by Jonathan Cohen
A review of George Nader’s 1980s science-fiction novel Chrome described it as wish fulfilment – that a man could be masculine, gay, and father thousands of clones. It concluded with the judgment: “A turkey.”
Another article about fantasy from that era explained that lesbian writers could write settings where everyone was a “friend of Sappho,” but with the strong suggestion that this was an insular, foolish idea.
To them, I say: Bah.
Whether in the dark days of the 1980s, today’s more liberated times, or far in the past, LGBTQI+ writers have created worlds where men, women and other folk could be free to love each other and reach their full potential as queer beings. (Of course, they also wrote about worlds where queerness was far from excepted – and given the times they lived/live in, can you blame them?).
I used to agree with the critics that creating these utopian worlds was an escape from reality and a bad thing. Then I developed the idea for my fairytale podcast, The Lavender Tavern, and I had to have my own mental reckoning.
I wanted to write gay stories – gay fairytales. Why not? Nobody has really written gay fairytales for adults (the ‘adults’ part keeps tripping me up; as my podcast network’s creative director says, it sounds “porny”) instead of children. Worlds where magic, monsters, dragons, wizards, knights and all the rest could happily coexist alongside same-sex attraction and love.
Each story would be set in its own world: a world where every child is born with a pair of dice that determines their destiny, or a world where magic (“manna”) is regulated like a public utility. That opened my mind to how I wanted being gay to be represented in these worlds.
I wrote of a world where being gay was totally unremarkable, like hair color or handedness. Of a world where being gay is known of and accepted, but fairly rare and unmentioned. A world where a mage can swap your gender if you give them thirty days. And yes, a world where bloodlines are important and queer relationships are frowned upon.
I say “Bah” to those who would judge us and impose their worldviews on us…and try to prohibit us from imagining worlds where same-sex love happens every day, and nobody has any comment except for congratulations. It’s up to us to imagine these utopian worlds…so that eventually they can seep into our own lives. To imagine men loving men and women loving women and everyone loving everyone…not just to show that it can happen, but to celebrate it.
The wizards and dragons of the fairytales of The Lavender Tavern may never make it to our own world, but I can live with that. The magic of flourishing same-sex relationships, of being proudly and openly queer, and of a simple touch of affection and love from someone you care about…that’s the magic I want to see in our world. After all, doesn’t each us of deserve a happily-ever-after?
Jonathan Cohen, Creator and Writer
Jonathan’s been a writer ever since he was old enough to toddle to Dad’s Selectric and plink out the phrase “It was a dark and stormy night” key by key (his parents thought he was a child prodigy; they never read Peanuts). Jonathan’s worked as a technical writer, marketing writer, editor, blogger, court reporter, and pretty much every job where slinging words is involved. His first novel, Bear Like Me was published in 2003.
You’ll find him in Toronto, Canada. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t recognize you when you come up to him on the street…he’s got a bit of face blindness.
Joe Cruz, Voice Actor
Joe was enamored with fantasy world adventures starting at a very young age: his babysitter growing up was a Gameboy and a copy of Pokemon Blue version. That love for imaginative storytelling led him to studying acting in school and now, he hopes you have as good a time listening to this series as he had helping create it. You can usually find him at a corner of the party nerding out with people and eating too much of the crudité.
Trevor Schechter, Voice Actor
Having spent the bulk of his youth imitating his favorite cartoon characters, TV news anchors, and even Godzilla’s roar, Trevor has been voice acting – and singing and regular-old-acting – in school plays, and in independent productions with friends and family for years. When the crew of Faustian Nonsense approached him about their podcast projects, he leapt at the chance before they could finish their elevator pitch!
Trevor works as a data analyst and Father-of-Dragons by day (Ok, fine, just one lizard – but it’s a big one!) but by night, he might be found to be any number of Demons, Mages, Rogues and really anything else he can think of.
A New York City native, Trevor thrives on the energy of thoughtful, passionate people. If you ever come across him, definitely say “hi!” and he’ll be happy to strike up a conversation. About anything.