Does your family say “I Love You” yet it feels empty? You are not alone. Many in the LGBTQ+ community have faced this reality. Host Jonathan Wilson explores how and why we must overcome this obstacle in his podcast Redefining Family. His show spotlights stories of resilience as his guests share how they have redefined their definition of who they consider to be their real family. Heartfelt, honest, and vulnerable, these stories of overcoming shed light on what family actually means.
Jonathan & Madi Goldstein - Demonstrating Parental Love
On this week's episode of Redefining Family, Jonathan has the pleasure of speaking with his old friend Jonathan Goldstein and his daughter Madi Goldstein. At seventeen, Madi came out to Jonathan and his wife as transgender. Since then, they have not only supported her, but have become advocates for her and the trans and queer communities.
Jonathan discusses the realization him and his wife had that Madi was struggling with her gender identity. Madi explains that she felt a disconnect with her mind and body, which made her feel so very isolated. With the support of her family, Madi is thriving and finally feels like she belongs. Madi also talks about finding community and support online, and Jonathan discusses advice he has for parents of trans and queer children.
More About The Goldsteins
Jonathan and his wife have been married for over 20 years and are the proud parents of two amazing kids. Madi who is 18 and Micah who is 16. In addition to parenting two amazing teenagers, Jonathan has been a youth group advisor to temple youth groups affiliated with the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) off and on since 1998. When he is not attending youth group events, Jonathan can be found at his synagogue where he is a Cantorial Soloist. But, more often you can find him managing the Energy & Utility Practice at CG Infinity.
Blake Allen - Coming Out To Mormon Parents
This week on "Redefining Family," Jonathan interviews internationally recognized and award-winning musician and composer Blake Allen. Blake was raised Mormon and came out to his blood related family at 18 years old, which at the time, did not go over very well. However Blake explains that since then, him and his parents have learned to love each other in the way that they know how, even after he stepped away from the Mormon church.
Blake also opens up about how in college, the suicide of a friend took him through a really dark time in his life, and how he then decided to live his truth and not be afraid of telling his family, and the world, who he really was.
Blake is now married to political drag champion Marti Gould Cummings, and his father even walked him down the aisle! While Blake and his family are examples of how blood relatives can eventually come around, it is always your choice if you choose to let them back in and to also have boundaries and decide the kind of relationship you want to have with them.
About Blake Allen
Blake Allen, PhD(c) is an internationally recognized, award-winning composer, musician, orchestrator, and educator. Allen has performed on and off Broadway and at many major music halls around the country including Carnegie Hall, Dr. Phillips Center, Strathmore Music Center, Kennedy Center, as well as on and off Broadway.
Allen has 4 chart-topping albums, with his autobiographical musical-opera the shards of an honor code junkie (#1 Classical Charts and the #1 new cast album on Billboard) garnering 4 million streams. He currently is traveling around the globe with RuPaul’s Drag Race star, Tina Burner, as their music director and collaborator, with their latest show Mix Queen: A Relationship Mixtape topping the comedy charts. Allen also frequently can be heard performing viola with the New York City Ballet and on the Seven Seas on VACAYA with their spouse, Marti Gould Cummings.
Robert Oliver - Esteemable Acts
This week on Redefining Family Jonathan opens the episode talking about the very scary state of our country and worries for our future.
Jonathan then interviews Robert Oliver, LGBTQ advocate, political organizer, and is also running for the West Hollywood City Council. Robert opens up about always knowing he was gay but also feeling like an outcast. Robert was raised in a reform, Jewish family, that was very accepting, and he explains the amazing values that were bestowed upon him, like doing a Mitzvah.
Jonathan and Robert then talk about the fact just because you are related to someone, it does not mean that you should accept abuse from them. Robert explains that self-esteem comes from estimable acts, it comes from within.
About Robert Oliver
Robert is a passionate activist and political organizer. Coming from a family of immigrants who fled persecution, Robert has always felt a personal responsibility to fight injustice against anyone. After coming out at 14, Robert took to the streets, organizing for marriage equality and LGBT rights, and against the Bush-era wars. As a student, he worked full-time on the No on Proposition 8 campaign, as well as Pacific Pride Foundation, Santa Barbara’s LGBTQ Center. His professional career also includes working for a U.S. Senator, a Los Angeles City Councilmember, and the LA Jewish Federation.
Along with his husband and their adopted bulldog-mix, Robert lives in West Hollywood, where he previously served on the West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, and represented West Hollywood on the LA County West Vector Control District Board. Robert currently serves on the city’s Public Safety Commission, where he has been an advocate for reimagining policing and public safety, as well as underrepresented members of the community. Robert is running for West Hollywood City Council in the November 2022 election.
Laura-Rose Thorogood - LGBT Mummies
This week on "Redefining Family" Jonathan opens the episode by discussing the devastating overturn of Roe Vs. Wade and where we go from here.
He is then joined by Laura-Rose Thorogood. Laura-Rose Thorogood, the founder of the LGBT Mummies , which is an organization based in the UK but provides support worldwide for LGBTQ women wanting to start a family. Laura-Rose did not officially come out until she was 29 years old due to a lot of self-loathing and trying to understand her identity. After she met her wife, they decided to go on a fertility journey, which was difficult to say to least. She discusses their struggles with IVF as lesbians and how they powered through and went on to have five beautiful children.
Laura-Rose shares the struggles not only lesbians, but trans and non-binary individuals face, not only with fertility, but with discrimination in those areas as well.
About Laura-Rose Thorogood
Laura-Rose Thorogood is a married lesbian mother of five children by IUI through a fertility clinic. Finding a lack of support, information & community when she & her wife started their path to parenthood, they decided to set up an organization to provide just that. She is the Founder of The LGBT Mummies , a global organization that supports LGBT+ women & people on the path to parenthood. She is an LGBT+ Family Activist, Fertility & Mental Health Advocate & Campaigner for Policy Change for LGBT+ families globally. She works directly with the NHS, & other global organizations & the UK Government to improve policies, support & visibility of LGBT+ families on the path to parenthood through pregnancy, birth & general healthcare.
Arsham Parsi - Consequences Of Being Gay In Iran
This week Jonathan speaks with Arsham Parsi, an Iranian LGBT human rights activist living in exile in Canada. Arsham discusses when he first realized he was gay and what it was like growing up in Iran knowing he was different.
Arsham discusses the consequences of being gay in Iran, fleeing the country and how his family had to flee soon after. He also discusses his relationship with his family, what his life has looked like since he had to flee Iran, and all of the work he does to help others like him.
About Arsham Parsi
Arsham Parsi is an Iranian queer rights activist who was born in Shiraz, the largest city in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
He is the founder and head of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees an international non-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada that is helping Iranian queers and those who escaped Iran on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
He is currently living in exile in Canada, but whilst still living in Iran in 2001 he started Rangin Kamin (Rainbow Group), a group for LGBTQ Iranians which he later renamed Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization, and then again as the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO). Because homosexuality is illegal in Iran and can be punished with death, Parsi registered the organization in Norway and kept most of his LGBTQ activism to online spaces, where he operated a chatroom for queer Iranians.
Parsi himself fled to Turkey in 2005, claimed refugee status, and was eventually resettled in Toronto, where he founded a new organization, the International Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR).
The organization assists LGBTQ refugees who have fled their home countries because of their identities and are currently living in Turkey. The organization provides food, shelter, guidance, and education until they are eventually resettled.
His work has earned him several human rights awards including the 2008 Felipa de Souza Award from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the 2008 Pride Toronto Award.
His 2015 book, Exiled for Love: The Journer of an Iranian Queer Activist, chronicles Parsi’s incredible journey from his first understanding of his sexual orientation to his eventual exile. It explores the reality for LGBT people in Iran through his personal experiences.
Jonathan Alexander - Learning To Accept Yourself
This week on Redefining Family Jonathan interviews author Jonathan Alexander. Jonathan first talks about his struggles growing up in the deep south, especially once he decided he wanted to come out. He turned 18 at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and he tried to come out in college, however there was no real support or community for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Jonathan then discusses how he ended up marrying a woman and the realizations they both came to about their relationship before the split. Additionally, Jonathan talks about learning to love himself as a kid and his close relationship with his mother.
About Jonathan Alexander
Jonathan Alexander is a writer living in Southern California where he is Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author, co-author, or editor of twenty-one books. His cultural journalism has been widely published, especially in the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) for which he is the Special Projects Editor. He is also the host of LARB’s “Writing Sex,” a YouTube series of short interviews with contemporary writers on sex and sexuality. (Previous guests include Garth Greenwell, Andre Aciman, and Dennis Cooper.) LARB founding editor Tom Lutz has called Alexander one of “our finest essayists.” He lives with his husband and cat, and when not writing, dabbles in watercolors and plays piano in a music ensemble with friends. For more about Jonathan Alexander and his books please visit www.thecreeptrilogy.com and www.the-blank-page.com.
This was a fascinating and educational episode for me. I love the conversational format and am really looking forward to future episodes!