Sisko: This is Adriana Sisko and the day is August 15th. I'm joined in the
Nunn Center by Meg Coppola. Meg, thank you for joining me. Thank you.
Now to kick us off. How about you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Coppola: So my name is Meg Coppola. I am from West Virginia, I'm from
Putnam County, which doesn't mean much to most people, but it's near
Hurricane if you happen to be aware of West Virginia towns. Uh I go to UK,
I'm currently a senior. I'm about to start my senior year and I'm
double majoring in English and Gender & Women's Studies.
Sisko: So let's start at the beginning. So tell me a little bit more about
your upbringing in West Virginia.
Coppola: So I was raised pretty middle class, in like a pretty solidly middle
class neighborhood. Um, both my mom and my dad were in my life and still are.
Um, so yeah, mostly I was--I had a pretty easy childhood I mean, we
00:01:00went on vacations and stuff. It, it it, was it was not very eventful.
Sisko: Oh, and you have- so that means you have no siblings.
Coppola: I do have one sibling. Yeah, actually, I have a little brother, his
name is Gus. He has curly red hair, he looks like a Viking and he just started
college, like we dropped him off a couple days ago. Just three days ago now.
Yeah he's going to West Virginia University.
Sisko: So when you were young, did you play with Gus or did you play with other kids?
Coppola: Uh, I was a loner kid. I did play with my brother we've always had
a very easy sibling relationship. Like, we just, we leave each other to our own
devices, except when we want to keep each other company in which case we
don't fight or anything. We just we just hang out. It's quite nice. I
never understand people who fight with their siblings because it's just so much
easier not to, um--(laughs)--. But, I played with Gus a little bit. I had, I did
have friends growing up. But as a kid, like an elementary age kid, I never
really felt the need to have like a huge social life. I was always just
perfectly happy on my own.
Sisko: What kind of stuff did you do on your own?
Coppola: Oh, I was an obsessive child. I had very strong phases of interests in
various things, so like, as a 6 year old, I can remember I was obsessed with
mushrooms, and moths. And then as I got older, I started to get interested in
frogs and toads. And then it was wolves for a while. I just, I would take an
area of expertise. And I had these like Audubon Field guides and I would just
read through them, just look at, like every picture of mushrooms in that guide I
could look- I could find. And I was also super interested in meteorology. I was
really interested in space. I had this big like book of the universe, and I got
to the point where I remember and I was in first grade, I was just like sitting
there in class and the clouds were moving really quickly, as they do sometimes.
And I was just like, what if it's a black hole? What if I'm gonna die?
And it's a black hole? And it was just like a huge source of anxiety for me
for some reason even though I like, logically knew that's not how black
holes work, like my book told me that. It was still just like this really
irrational anxiety that I remember having strongly as a child.
Sisko: Was that the only thing you were anxious about?
Coppola: Oh, no, I was a very anxious child--(laughs)--.
Sisko: I'm assuming there's probably a little more.
Coppola: I'm also, I'm very, I'm also a very anxious adult, but at
least I know what it is now. But no, as a kid--I just, I was uh, let's see.
The things I was afraid of as a child.
Coppola: Uh, I couldn't, I could swim, but I couldn't put my face
underwater because it was terrifying. Um, I was afraid of eating hot lunch at
the cafeteria, because I always brought like, a bag lunch because I was allergic
to peanuts--actually, I don't know if those two things corresponded, but
they're both true. And so I was afraid that if I got hot lunch one day,
someone would comment on it. And for some reason, the thought of that was so
horrifying to me that I was like, I cannot do this. What did they say? You
usually do this, but now are you doing this other thing? How am I supposed to
react to that? So that was something that caused me like a lot of stress as a
kid. I don't really know why, but, stuff like that, just very strange child
Sisko: Mm hmm. And, when you were--we'll stick with elementary
00:04:00school for now, how, how often did you interact with your same age peers, in
Coppola: Not a lot.
Sisko: Oh okay. Yeah.
Coppola: I was, I was a weird ki--like it's hard to, it's hard to
believe talking to me now, but I didn't talk at all. I became a loud mouth
afterwards, but when I was a kid I just didn't say much. I didn't
really speak that much in class, I didn't really talk to people, I--it
wasn't because I was like shy or I thought they wouldn't like me or
anything it's just like, I don't, I, I--it didn't occur to me. Um,
until much later that, like, oh, you can just sort of be social and talk to
people. I didn't really care at that age.
Sisko: And how about middle school? Did that change any or were still quiet?
Coppola: Middle school, I mean, I was still qui--I was a disaster in middle
school. That was a bad time in my life. Uh, but no I made some really close
friends in middle school, like the kind of people that I would classify as like
true friends for the first time. And like I'm still friends with them now.
Um, I just visited one of them two days ago. So, um, that was kind of when I
started to become aware of like other people. Like a real sense and not just
like a vague periphery understanding, there are other people in the
00:05:00world. I started to care about them then.
Sisko: And so how would you summarize your middle school experience? Because you
seem to suggest that there was some--
Coppola: So I was raised extremely religiously, but I mostly--like it
wasn't because my family was, like uh, unusually religious, it was because
of my obsessive personality which came through as a child and being obsessed
with frogs, sort of manifested itself in theology and church doctrine when I was
in middle school. And so I got like super into just like, the minutiae of
Christian theology. And like I read the Bible all the time, and it was just
like, really steeped in that culture, way more so than my parents ever were.
Like this wasn't like they were pressuring me to be more involved, it was
like I was, so in, and I was--it also the anxiety was involved in that, a lot,
too, it was like I have to know exactly what's going on, because it's
such an important thing to have to know about. So like, during middle school, it
was mostly just me, trying to, come to terms with how I related to
00:06:00Christianity, and, uh, doing a lot of lying to myself in the process, because I
always--I never quite felt like I was actually, like a real Christian you know,
like, I'm not actually going to have it, I'm just faking. Um, and so,
it, it was just like I was just very kind of withdrawn, and it was really hard
for me, to like espre--and of course I was also in middle school, so I was just
a disaster anyway, like, that's just what happens. And also, like starting
to go through puberty, too. I like I was extremely uncomfortable with my body,
like I know, that's what happens when you go through puberty, like I'm
aware, but I feel like it was worse for me like I was just, I was horrified by
the whole experience. I could like, like I would barely look at myself, which,
you know, now makes sense like being a non-binary person, like, oh, my child
body is turning into this, like --"woman body"--. Like, of course, that would be
upsetting but at the time, I was just like, well this is how everyone feels.
Everyone's upset that they're a teenager. So that was also what was
happening during middle school, and it was not helped by all the
00:07:00Christian doctrine I was trying to wrestle with.
Sisko: And so, a slight backtracking, how often did you and your family go to
church if you,
Coppola: Every Sunday and every Wednesday--uh twice every Sunday, actually. I,
so we went Sun--well actually--I didn't know how many--how you count, when
going to church is, because first there's Sunday school, and then there was the
actual church service. And so then you go home, and like eat lunch and then you
go back for the Sunday evening service. But usually before the Sunday evening
service, I had choir practice for church choir, um, and then on a Wednesday,
there was like youth group, but before that, I was there early because I was
also on the praise team, I played cello. So--(laughs)--I was at church like all
the time and even when I wasn't there was always like, constantly operating
in the back of--like in the back of my mind. Like that was just what my life
was, I was a Christian.
Sisko: And what kind of church was it?
Coppola: It was Baptist. American Baptist.
Sisko: And were your parents parents of the same religious denomination?
Coppola: No, my um--my mom's mom and actually, also both my maternal
grandparents were Catholic and still are, um--well, the one that's alive
anyway. Uh, the dead one I'm not sure if he's still Catholic or not,
who knows? But the other side was Presbyterian. Uh, and so, my mom was raised
Catholic and sort of abandoned it in college and then eventually became, like a
born again Christian, and I don't know what my dad believes, but whatever.
He's a Baptist, technically.
Sisko: And so, you mentioned that in middle school, you were very fixated and
obsessed with, being, a Christian, and the Bible, and--
Sisko: --all of this right? Um, did that relationship with your religion end up
changing at some point and when and why?
Coppola: Oh yeah, I mean.. uh, all through--like I, ever since I like, quote
unquote got saved at like, 12 years old, I always was just torn up over it. Like
I was like, there were times when I'd be like, oh yeah, I'm going to
heaven, I'm good. And then part of me was like the extremely
00:09:00strict kind of like--I was a Calvinist, it was bad, um, because I naturally
gravitated toward the most severe and most punishing kind of side of the dogma
that I could, which is Calvinism, um which is, you don't have a say, uh,
God decides whether you're damned or not, and, uh, wow I really hope you're
not damned. Uh. so there is always that kind of like, I don't know if
I'm a real Christian, I guess I can't know, but like, I'd really
like to.. um and then eventually I--that kind of collapsed under the weight of
itself, because one--like two things happened. One was that when I was around
15, I was diagnosed with anorexia, and uh, when you don't eat you
don't have any energy to think about things. And so like, that kind of
frantic mental energy, that I had used to, like, keep my faith sort of intact up
'til then just wasn't there anymore, I was focused on surviving. Um, and
so, that little short of--like, this is not something innate to me, this is
something I'm having to keep up and maintain constantly. And then later, as
I grew older, uh, that rupture just continued, and eventually I
00:10:00started to realize I wasn't straight, which gave me a little less stake in
continuing to be a Baptist, uh because it's like these people don't
want me, like, So eventually I sort of became like, well, I'm a Christian,
but I'm going to hell. Like I believe in God but I'm damned and I
guess that's fine, and then eventually I just became an agnostic because no
one wants to believe they're going to hell like, and then also like a lot of the
like, I, I was just like, oh, so I can believe in other things and that
it's not logically inconsistent, because I'd been convincing myself
for so many years that anything other than Christianity was not logically
consistent. And so eventually, like once that emotional and psychological
pressure was gone to believe in it, I just stopped believing in it.
Sisko: You mentioned being born again at twelve.
Coppola: Oh, yeah.
Sisko: Can you give a little context to that.
Coppola: Oh, it's very common, uh, for Evangelical Christians to the
experience of being quote unquote, born again. It's this central element in a
Christian's life, or at least in the evangelical tradition. And, uh,
what happens supposedly when you're born again, is that you
00:11:00acknowledge your sinful nature and your inability to please God through any of
your good works, and then, when you acknowledge and repent that and put your
faith in Jesus Christ, you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, you gain a new
nature, a new personhood, and you are forgiven of your sins and you are now a
Christian. And so that's supposed to have lasting and noticeable effects on
your disposition. And that's supposed to be something that's obvious
to you and the people around you. So after this--and like I knew all this stuff
because I was constantly studying it, and, um I was actually, quote unquote,
saved at church camp. And so what happens at church camp is that you get a bunch
of Christian youths together, and you emotionally manipulate them for a week.
And then on the penultimate day of camp, you say if anyone--if anyone would like
to be saved, just come to the front and pray for your soul, and God will forgive
you. And it's just like very, and they like they--you know the emotional
music and the peer pressure watching all your friends be like, oh,
00:12:00it's time to get saved. So I was like, that was going on, and also the same
time, me being like, I don't want to go to hell, like that's not what
I want. Um, I was like, well I guess it's time I got to do this at some
point I'm gonna do it now and I was twelve years old. Um, and so after
that, it was always just like, well I'm saved so why isn't anything
different? Why don't--why don't I feel any different, why don't I
feel any better?
Sisko: Tell me more about um, what was your awareness of the existence of queer
people, of LGBTQ people, up until the end of middle school, so end of middle
school and beforehand. What--
Sisko:--was your awareness of the existence of like, people who identified that
way or words to do with that? Anything like that?
Coppola: Yeah, I didn't pay much attention as a kid because I wasn't
very um, attentive to anything that didn't hold my interests if it
wasn't moths or mushrooms or meteorology, I didn't care. So I
wasn't really listening to those words that people used. Now, during middle
school, during my theology phase, absolutely. In fact, that was
00:13:00probably my main introductory point to queer stuff at all was like the teaching
of the church that that's wrong. So like, that was like my first like, oh,
these people exist and it's wrong. So, it was like I don't I probably
was introduced to the concept before that, but my first associations were just
like, I can't. And I never hate it, like, I was a homophobe, sure, I was a
huge homophobe, which is hilarious in hindsight. But I never hated or despise
gay people, I didn't think it was disgusting I was just like, oh,
that's so sad, doesn't some someone want to help them? Like,
that's just not what God has for them. You know, I was just like, I
don't understand and I don't know why they like this, but, you know,
it's fine, it's just like any other sin. So I wasn't particularly
homophobic, not like virulently homophobic, but I was quite homophobic. And
that, just like--and also it helped that I was a super late bloomer, like, I
didn't have crushes on anybody up through middle school. Like it just
didn't occur to me, like not a single one. And so I was just
00:14:00like, I don't have a sex drive, I don't have any sort of attraction to
anybody, It didn't enter my life at that point until later, so it
didn't occur to me to be something that I would think about in relation to
myself. Whenever I did think about I was like, well, I can't be I
can't be gay. I'm a Christian. I'll probably be straight
eventually. Right now, I don't care about anybody, but I guess I'll
end up with a guy someday. Probably.
Sisko: And so how was this conveyed in church, this idea that, oh, it's
wrong to do this, it's wrong to be this, like in what ways was that communicated--
Coppola: --in church? Not so much, because my church was a little more tactful,
they like to stay away from those passages. Most of the, most of the messages I
got about the relationship between homosexuality and the Christian church were
ones I picked up through my own sort of like--I would go on the Internet,
basically like angry Christians on the Internet, eh yeah and like reading the
Bible for myself also and trying to see what it had to say and so I
00:15:00was like, oh yep, man shall not lie with man as he lies with a woman. So
that's what the Bible says that's what I believe, there it is. So that
was kind of where--like I kind of uh, I indoctrinated myself basically.
Sisko: Do remember what kind of Websites these were? Were they forums or message
Coppola: --Oh, yeah. I remember very clearly
Sisko: --Like what were they?
Coppola: So there's this radio program called Wretched Radio, and it was quite
Sisko: Wretched radio?
Coppola: Yeah, and so it was like this like Evangelism based sort of, radio
station, which would have very, very conservative Christian bent, so this like
extreme emphasis on like the purity of the gospel and like complementary and
gender roles, and um, it's wrong to be gay because God has, you know, Adam
and Eve, whatever, not Adam and Adam. But um, so it, it was--I sort of steeped
in that, and, you know, my obsessive personality coming through, you know, I
just soaked it all up. Just, I was like, this is something that's hard to
swallow, therefore, it's probably true, because I've always
00:16:00gravitated toward that, like, If it's hard it probably means I don't
want to believe it, which probably means it's true, which is not a logical
chain of thought at all, but that's the one I followed. Um, so it, it
sounded painful, and it sounded hard, and it sounded like something I wanted to
try. There's probably a little bit of self-righteousness involved in that,
too, like, look, I can handle this, can you? I couldn't handle it. For the record.
Sisko: So let's move forward a bit to high school.
Sisko: So sum up that experience for me.
Coppola: Uh, yeah. I sat at the gay table.
Sisko: The gay table--
Coppola: We had--
Sisko:--what was the gay table?
Coppola: So, um actually, my, my senior--my freshman year of high school was all
a blur, I was crazy anorexic, it was just it--I was all--I don't remember
much of it because I was barely awake for most of it. But for the rest of my
high school experience, I, I was a band kid and I was very vehemently advanced
kid like, that--those were my people, that's where all my friends were,
that's where all my social life took place. I played mallet percussion,
so like marimba, vibraphone, xylophone in marching season and then in
00:17:00concert band I played cello. Even though we didn't have a string section, I
just played bassoon parts on the cello. But that was like my whole thing. And so
a lot of the friends that I made in band ended up just variously coming out as
some kind of queer throughout my experience in high school. And so just
gradually my group of friends started getting gayer and gayer and outer and
outer, and it ended up that the lunch table I sat at with all my friends
eventually became the gay table because it was almost completely LGBTQ. And so I
was like watching this happen around me, finding myself pretty surrounded always
with people who were really accepting of queer stuff, I was sitting there like,
yeah, I'm straight and I'm a girl, I guess it's--sure,
that's fine. But, you know, there's nothing wrong with this, and I was
starting to develop sort of like a social awareness and sort of, jettisoning my
Christianity--or just ignoring it at that point, basically. And then, um
eventually I was like, you know, I'm probably demi-sexual, which was
the--like I am, I still identify as this now, but it was really a
00:18:00safe and easy for me at that point because it didn't mean I liked girls, it
didn't mean I wasn't a girl, it just meant I'm demi, you know,
I'm on the asexuality spectrum. I can still be, quote unquote, straight,
right? So that was the first thing I identified at so it was kind of like
baby's first queer or at least baby's first thing I knew about myself
that was definitely something that people recognized as queer. So that was like
I kind of got a toehold into the community. And then just like eventually it
just like, thinking about it, um and--it was at the tail end of high school that
I kind of realized, I'm definitely attracted to like guys and girls, like
that's something that I can't ignore anymore. And it happens as it so
often does because I fell in love with my best friend--so it goes--, um, I was
just sitting next to her one day at the lunch table, and just sitting there and
like--oh no (laughs)--I, I super am in love with her. Um, and so I sort of had
to reckon with that, um, and a lot of it was because--ok, I was super into
Supernatural, um, and so a lot of the discourse surrounding
00:19:00supernatural at that time was like, Dean Winchester, one of the main characters,
is coded as bisexual and he is throughout the show, there's like all these
hints and these like, these various coded messages that like he's supposed
to be read as a closeted bisexual. And so I was kind of steeped in this
discourse, and I was, I was like reading all of this. And so I was just
constantly thinking, like, what does it mean to be bisexual? What do bisexual
people think? Like, I'm just applying that word constantly, and then
eventually it occurred to me,--duh--apply it to yourself, because it was true.
Um, and so, I was like--I called up my friends, uh right before an episode of
Supernatural is coming on funnily enough, uh the friend I was in love with and I
was like, hey, um, I'm Bi. And she was like, I know, so am I. Um, so that's
basically how the first person I came out to, was that was my senior year of
high school. Um, and it was all in all, a pretty good experience for a first
coming out like--(laughs)
Sisko: So it seems like, your friend already kind of intuited it, right?
Coppola: Everybody--I was the last person to know as queer. I was the last person
Sisko: --ohhh, so--
Coppola: I like--even my very straight friend, I, um, I think I came out to--I
came out to her some, bizarre stupid way because I'm like that. I was just
sort of like, hey, you know all those times I cry--I joke about having crushes
on girls' voices, well, it's not just their voices. And she's just
like I know, Meg--(laughs)--Like, I--know--you're not straight, and I was
like shit am I the last person? But like, you know, it made sense for me to be
the last person because I've been systematically ignoring that part of
myself for years. But still, I was just--okay, fine. Yeah. You all right, I was
very obvious I don't know how anyone ever thought I was straight least of
all myself. But--
Sisko: Did you ever learn more about what it is they picked up on that made them
think that, because I know you mentioned telling that friend like, oh, it's
not just girls voices, and so.
Coppola: --oh yeah--
Sisko: But, um, did, did you ever get any sense for like, how did they know?
Coppola: Um, yeah--I, well, ok, one of the things, because I
00:21:00haven't talked about my gender much, is in middle school--
Sisko: --oh it's coming.
Coppola: Oh it's coming, I--(Sisko laughs)--
Coppola: --was hella tomboy. You could--if you tried to get me into a skirt, it
was uh, it wasn't possible and very hard to pressure. Um, I did
occasionally wear them for like, special occasions, but I like, if you tried to
get me to dress, quote unquote--girly--, it would, it would not happen, I felt
no desire to do it, and I was just like I--just a tomboy, comfortable, I like
basketball shorts and t shirts, you know? Um, with my short hair and everything,
and my lack of interest in boys. Um, and I was just like, yeah, this is just who
I am, and I was a weird kid so like, you know, it was actually pretty reasonable
to think like this is just how I am I guess it's fine. Um--(laughs)--but
I--yeah, I was also, probably always staring at girls, now that I look back on
it, um, I was just like, yeah, doesn't everyone stare at girls butts? Like,
No, Meg, they don't, they really don't, um, but if you see girls, yeah
Meg, you're gay. Um, yeah so stuff like that, like I just never
00:22:00acted very straight. I was always, um, not act--not acting like a straight woman
anyway, which makes sense for a lot of different reasons.
Sisko: And before we move more into the gender stuff, I'm backtracking
slightly, I want to know how you got in touch with this sort of discourse that
surrounds this or is within the Supernatural fandom, was that like your friends
in person, was that online,
Coppola: --oh yeah--
Sisko: --and then also the word demi-sexual, how did you come into contact with
Coppola: Yeah, uh, welcome to Tumblr, to the Tumblr phase of my life, which is
actually a huge, huge part of my coming to understand myself as a sexual person.
Um, so I got into Supernatural because of the recommendation of the friend I
fell in love with, uh,--(laughs)-- as it, as it goes, um and so I started
watching this show and I was--I'm super into Tolkien, I love like
---------(??)--------and stuff and I was like--I've written fan fiction
before so I was already like, my response when I consume media is when I finish
it not to be like, oh, wow, I wish there was more, but I mean--I dive
00:23:00onto the Internet and like, it's time for some fanfiction it's time for
some discourse, it's time to chew it over with people now. So when, I when
I was watching Supernatural, I was just like, okay, yeah so I'm gonna go
see what other people are saying about this, and so that's kind of how I
stumbled--and like I already had a Tumblr, and Tumblr was actually the, the
place also that I was, uh became aware of demi-sexuality, because of like, so,
-------(??) um, Tumblr has like uh, a lot of people who have this like social
justice slant to their worldview, and so I was coming across these just like
lists of terms that I'd never heard before I was like, oh, asexual is a
thing, and demi-sexual is a thing, and I like read the description of
demi-sexual was like, yeah, okay, I can get behind that, like, I definitely,
like I don't--and that was probably part of the reason I didn't have any
crushes on anyone up until then either because um, I, I only really am attracted
to people in a physical sense, after I get to know them and I like care about
them and like, the the more I like someone, the hotter I find them pretty much.
So um, that's just always been like--I thought that's like
00:24:00that's just who I am, I'm just like that, but like--and it is just who
I am. And, there's a word for it, which is helpful, um, and it's,
it's sort of seen as like a subset of asexuality, so I kind of got used to
that way to thinking of myself as like queer adjacent, which made it easier to
like, oh, yeah, I'm also that other kind of queer, too, and the other third
Sisko: So, that tomboy era you were talking about.
Coppola: --Oh yeah.
Sisko: At the time when you were like, I'm a tomboy, did you consider
yourself to be a girl, in the sense of like, oh, I'm straight, I'm a
girl, like I'm, I'm ------(??).
Coppola: --It didn't occur to me not to.
Sisko: Yeah, right.
Coppola: I don't--like I was used to, once again, I was a weird kid, I was
very comfortable with being an outsider and not being like other people, I was
just like, it was a little bit of arrogance and also a little bit of just not
caring. I was like, I don't have to be like these other people, why would I
want to that seems exhausting, like, they can do what they want, but I'll
do what I want, it's fine. So it was just like, if this is how I am a girl,
that's fine. Um, it was only later that I was just like, you
00:25:00actually really don't like being called a girl or feeling like you are one
or identifying yourself as one, like but that understanding came much later.
Sisko: Oh, I see, how old were you when that perception of yourself started to
Coppola: Yeah, um, I--(laughs)--have distinct memories of my senior year of high
school. I was talking to my friend once again, the friend that I was in love
with the friend I came out to, et cetera my very, very close friend, um--
Sisko: --who we'll have to get back to because you've mentioned this person
several times now.
Coppola: Oh, she was very important to my life and still is.
Sisko: Yeah. Yeah.
Coppola: We got through a lot together.
Coppola: Um, what was I gonna say, oh yeah, I remember saying to her so like
I'm bi, wouldn't it be crazy if I was also like, not cis gender. Wouldn't
it be crazy? And I was just like, wow, like I had these already had these like
two clear identity labels that I've applied to myself, demi-sexual and bisexual,
which I later amended to pansexual doesn't super matter, but whatever
for--point of for, for the record, sure. Um, and so I was like, wow
00:26:00would it be crazy if I also wasn't a woman? Crazy, right? Isn't it
crazy? And then I was like, shit, actually, that's true, I am non-binary.
And so like for a while I identified as like a demi-girl or just like something
like that because I was still trying to like divorce myself from the idea. Um,
and then eventually like tried out they/them pronouns, and I always am just
I'll-- introduce myself as like Hi I'm Meg I use she/they pronouns as I super
hoping that people go for they. Um, so eventually I was just like, you know
what? Shoot, I'm gonna just introduce myself as Meg, they/them, I'm
non-binary, get used to it. So like that's kind of been an evolving
understanding of myself.
Sisko: What is it about the non-binary identity that, like reached out to you or
spoke to you because seems like you went through kind of like a couple different
terms because you research and you were trying to figure things out.
Sisko: What is it about non-binary, they/them and whatnot that, just clicked
Coppola: I like the freedom of it, I don't--I have a lot of masculine
tendencies or other tendencies that are viewed as masculine, et
00:27:00cetera, et cetera. Um, and I have a lot of tendencies that are seen as feminine,
and I don't like the idea of having to reconcile those into one or the
other, or of having to define them in those terms either. I
don't--I'm, I'm still a very strange person as I was a very
strange child, and I d--that's just--I, I'm not very good at trying to
be something, and I don't want to try to do that, like, I don't want
to try to be a woman or try to be a man, because those seem narrow, and it seems
exhausting. Um, and so, I, like the label of non-binary because it's
it's just, it's whatever. It's I am me, and this doesn't
have to be tempered by like gendered expectations of who I--and it still is,
because people read me as a woman because, you know, it's a binary sick
society but still, I like not having to hold myself to that standard and sort of
being honest myself, and also because it feels really uncomfortable to be called
a woman. Just like on a visceral level, like it's not just an academic
pursuit for me, it's not just to like, oh yeah, this is
00:28:00a--gender is a construct, although I do believe that, I have a degree in that,
um--(laughs)--but also because it's just uncomfortable for me to be called
a woman. So--
Sisko: --What about being called a man?
Coppola: Much easier. I, like wouldn't want to be identified as a man, like
I wouldn't want to be like, oh yes, this is Meg, Meg is a man. Well, no,
I'm not, but I call myself like a boy all the time and like, I say, king
instead of queen. Even though they're both gendered terms, um, it's
just like whenever there is a only gendered term so there's no neutral, I
go for the masculine one over the feminine one, and part of that is just because
I know I still look quote unquote like a woman, so people will like read that
contradiction, and, you know, hopefully it'll come out somewhere in the
middle where I want it to be. But yeah, being referred to as masculine is a lot
easier for me.
Sisko: And so did anyone else in your high school identify as non-binary, your
gender nonconforming in any way?
Coppola: Yeah, there's a couple of trans people, um, uh, a couple of people
who have since come out as trans, um that I--that just identified as
00:29:00like uh--one of them identified as a lesbian and is now like a pansexual man,
um, one of them wa--identified as like a cis-woman and is now like gender fluid
and like, so there was that, but that that happened, and there was a couple of
people who were just like gender nonconforming, uh, and then there's a
trans girl, I don't really remember very well--(laughs)--it was like--the
people who were like bi and gay and lesbian were the most visible because
that's how it tends to be, um, so those are the ones I have the most
Sisko: Who was the first non-binary identified person you knew personally? I
don't know if that happened--
Sisko: Other than yourself,--
Sisko: What--like even if it ended up happening like in college or if it's
happened? I don't know.
Coppola: I think--I do I know a lot of other non-binary people--(laughs)--
Sisko: Okay, good, good,--(laughs)--I'm really ---------(??) to hear that!
Coppola: Uh, yeah, it'd be kind of wild, um--(both laugh)--uh,
00:30:00let's see the first, other non-binary I met, I think, probably a person in
my English class, um, and then a couple people in my Gender Women's Studies
class. I don't remember which one was the first they all kind of came along at
similar times, but yeah, I since have met quite a few non-binary people where,
we grow thick like leaves on the trees--(laughs)--like there's a lot of us
there's a lot more than I thought. So, yeah I don't remember which one
the first one was though.
Sisko: And you also mention the word pansexual earlier
Sisko: --and about how that's the word that you typically use now or more
typically used now to describe your sexuality, um, what sort of inspired that change?
Coppola: It's just broader. I mean, it's, you know all instead of two.
I know--a lot of bisexual people, are also attracted to non-binary people and
they just use the terminology of bisexual because it's more legible, which
is fine I don't really care one way or the other, I kind of like the colors
of the bi flag better than the pan flag but for me like, I like the
00:31:00like intentional inclusivity of pansexuality, because it's sort of truer to
what my experience has been.
Sisko: So this is backtracking again, so your first coming out was to your
friend that you were in love with.
Sisko: And it seemed to be, at least from the way you described initially, a
Coppola: --oh yeah--
Sisko: --or at least not surprise so how did that, um, what was that friendship
like continuing from that point?
Coppola: Uh, we--so this was a really hard time in both of our lives, we were
going through a lot of like, a lot of mental illness stuff like I was getting
super anxious and depressed, and so was she, and it was also a senior year of
high school which is stressful, which you know couldn't have helped. So we
were kind of like, leaning on each other constantly like every night we'd
be like texting each other in the middle of a breakdown like help, everything is
hard and it's so sad. And so--(laughs)--we can't--we gained like a trench
buddy friendship, and then like, she was dating a bunch of guys at the time,
she's also bi, but like she's mostly--only dated guys
00:32:00actually, we did hook up eventually but like we never dated. So like, um--and
we're still really close friends, like, we've always been really close
friends and that's like we've always just been able to like, work
through our feelings together. So, yeah, she's been a very constant and
positive presence in my life.
Sisko: And so you came out to her, and from what I gathered you came out to
other people in your friend group?
Yeah, sort of one by one you know, depending on when I was ready and I was still
kind of reticent like, uh--
Sisko: --(laughs)--and did they all have that reaction like you were describing
earlier like, oh, like we know.
Sisko: And so, when did,--or did it ever extend beyond your friend group, the
idea of coming out.
Coppola: Well, see, now I can't stay in the closet, like I come out to--I
come out to random people on the planes from China like--
Sisko: --you did?
Coppola: Oh yeah, um, actually and in China too, it's very hard for me to
not talk about my girlfriend because she's wonderful and lovely and I love
her, so, I just--and also, I just really want people to know that I'm
queer--it's like important to me to know I'm not straight, and
00:33:00I'm not a woman, so don't expect me to act like that, like, whatever
that means and it's it's not super rational but, um, but uh, I was
actually--I was unintentionally outed to my parents, because my mom found my
Tumblr, um, and so she--it's actually kind of funny so she like came into my
room, she's like, so are you, uh, bisexual or whatever? And I was like--uh
huh--and then she was like, and are, you are you an atheist? And I was like,
yeah, and she was way more upset that I wasn't a Christian than that I was
bi and she was like, yeah, bi whatever, you know, like love is love, I mean she
wasn't quite like that, she's been getting like incredibly, good with
that stuff too, but like at first, I mean, she was still much more upset about
the fact that I might not be a Christian than the fact that I might like girls.
Also, I might of been a whole thing of like it's just a phase it'll blow over
whatever, but it's not a phase it hasn't blown over, so.
Sisko: So you described yourself as an atheist at that point?
Coppola: I probably said--
Sisko: --or she thought you were an atheist?
Coppola: I probably said agnostic or something like that,
Sisko: --oh, okay--
Coppola: --I probably said I don't believe in God, like--
Sisko: --Uh huh
Coppola: --something like that, which is--she's a very devout woman, and it
was pretty upsetting to her because religion has been such an important part of
her life, that it like it really helps her through a lot of difficult times and
so I think she was mostly sad that I didn't have that.
Sisko: And did she tell your dad?
Sisko: When did your dad find out? And--
Coppola: --she told dad was just--
Sisko: --yeah what was his reaction?
Coppola: --I love you anyway. He, probably--he doesn't like think about it
until he can't, get away without thinking about it, I think. I, I don't
know what he thought about it he didn't very talk--he didn't talk very much
about it. He doesn't say anything about it though.
Sisko: And so that's when they learned about,--
Sisko: --you're not straight in terms of sexuality.
Coppola: I explained the non-binary thing later--
Sisko: --yeah, I was gonna--I was leading up to that actually,--
Sisko: --um, so how did you try and explain it to them and when and what did
they think, and,
Coppola: --I was in college,
Sisko: --were they able to understand and all of that?
Coppola: Yeah I had to sort of tailor my approaches I think the first member of
my family I came out to his non-binary was my grandmother. Um, because my
grandma and I are really close, and she's very open minded, and she's
like very willing to consider new things. And so we were on the way to Michigan
because we like stay in a cabin in Michigan a lot and just like chill, um, and
so, we were talking about like gender and stuff. And I think like I'd done
an interview with her for a class at some point asking her about like, how she
was raised vis-a-vis gender. And she was talking about how she, her--she was an
only child, she grew up very poor in rural West Virginia, and her dad was a coal
miner, and all that kind of stuff, um, and she was an only child and her dad
wanted a son. So she was kind of raised to do double duty, like she was a
daughter and a son. And I was just like, wow, I feel that. Guess what, grandma?
Like, I also, like that's that's how I feel myself. And so it was more
of a thing of like me relating to something in her life and me trying to explain
to her what was in my life. So, that went really like--she still
00:36:00doesn't get the pronouns or anything like that, but like it's kind of
less weird when she doesn't because like one she's like seventy, and two,
like I what she says when she means woman I know is something radically
different than what most people say--or mean when they say woman, because like
the way she performs femininity isn't much like what people mean when they
say woman either. So, that's kind of a different thing, and then um, I was,
uh, I ended up talking to my mom about it, probably just, I don't know,
sometime, because I talk to her a lot uh, about um, like gender stuff and like
uh, feminist stuff, uh because like one, like she deserves better than she has
in her life and I'm just like spread that feminist consciousness, and two
um, I'm obsessive and I'm a Gender & Women's Studies major, and
so if I learn something, I tell everybody I know about it. So um, mom is obliged
to listen to me because I'm her child, so I spew words at her a lot, and so
eventually it got to the point of like, yeah, I'm also non-binary and this
is what that means and this is what gender is, and I had--I went
00:37:00through like the whole like, presentation of like this is how we understand
gender, et cetera et cetera, like--which, was very exhausting and I honestly
don't know how non-binary people who don't have that background do it,
like, how do you even come out to people without like--(laughs)--, without
throwing a little butler in there you know?--(laughs)--But, I should probably
figure that out because, I don't know I try to explain to my dad I don't know he
got it all. Whatever. But yeah, no, that came later once I was much more
confident in myself and my ability to explain myself because I was like, I could
write a paper so I can come out of my parents, you know?
Sisko: What was it that emotionally sparked your decision to tell your parents?
Like, did you feel like you wanted to, did you feel like you needed to, and why?
You know why need or why want?
Coppola: I just, don't like to be inauthentic. Like I don't like, I
don't know. I, I am impossible peer pressure, and I am, just very open
about a lot of things because it's exhausting for me to try to
00:38:00pretend otherwise. And so I was just like, you know what? It's about time,
I'm gonna probably end up saying it at some point. I want them to view me
the way I view myself, to call me the things I call myself, um and if I can at
least try to get them to do that then I'm going to. Uh so that's,
basically my rationale and also just because I like to talk--(laughs)--I mean,
that's part of it, too.
Sisko: So there are different levels of understanding between your parents--
Sisko: --about what you told them, um, did it impact like your day to day
relationship with them in any way, or did it just--
Coppola: --not really.
Sisko: --okay, got it
Coppola: --no, they weren't the kind that would just be like, oh you're a
sinful person like they didn't say that, they didn't really care, they
were just like I don't understand, and I'm not going to do anything
about it. And, you know, they're still kind of not at ease with the
concept. My mom is getting a lot more at ease with it though. Especially since
my girlfriend is trans and so it's kind of been like a wake up slap, like I can
handle you misgendering me but not her, kind of thing like. So
00:39:00that's been sort of another catalyst in like, me trying to like, explain my
trans experience to my parents because I've had a much more compelling
Sisko: So we'll definitely get to your girlfriend, I'm making a little note
over here, um, but beforehand, before that, you mentioned that you were feeling
like more confident in this period with regards to gender identity it seems like
or just in general, I'm not sure, um, what was the source of that confidence?
Coppola: Oh, yeah well, I was, I was on anti-anxiety meds, that helped, um, get
yourself some anti-anxiety meds kids it's good for ya--(laughs)--um, and
also, I mean I was coming into my own--I was, meeting a lot of queer people on
campus and becoming friends with them and, refusing to take shit from anybody,
and uh, getting a degree in Gender, so that helped because I felt like I had the
sort of like academic arsenal to back myself up, like it's not just me I
have these scholars with plenty of citations to like, you know
00:40:00explain it. Um, so, yeah I'm just becoming more confident as a person
having more life experiences so I was like yeah it's time, I can do this. And I
don't live with you if it goes badly so, aha--(laughs)--.
Sisko: Tell me about um, the transition from graduating high school to going to UK.
Coppola: Uh yeah it was uh, horrible. Um--(laughs)--
Coppola: It was a cluster--see I was death--like I learned to drive at about
that time,--no, no, actually was it was before, I don't know, it was
just--the whole college application process was very very stressful for me
because I'm very anxious and I'm an overachiever and I'm very
hard on myself about everything. So, and also, this is something that I have of
course had never done before so that was very stressful too, so this whole time
I was basically just out of my mind with anxiety and I was also struggling with
depression, and I didn't really know how to talk about that, um, so, I was
just really happy to be away from home to try to figure shit out on my own.
Uh so yeah, I um, I really looked forward to going to college also
00:41:00because I love reading and writing so I was like I'll be fine! Uh, yeah.
The transition was pretty easy, except for all the ways it wasn't.
Sisko: And how would you summarize your undergrad experience so far up to this point?
Coppola: I would say it's great, I met a lot of lovely people, I love both of my
majors very dearly, um and I love writing, reading, studying, um, I was grown in
a VAT for it, um, so, yeah, I've--and I've also been involved in a lot of
like activism thanks to the friends I've made and uh, just like--yeah
it's been a really great experience.
Sisko: And so, I'm going to loop back now to the girlfriend.
Coppola: --oh yes.
Sisko: Um, you mentioned something about misgendering and parents and your
girlfriend, um, I want to know more about--it seems like there's some kind
of anecdote there, so I want to know more about what you're referring to
when you say that.
Coppola: Yeah, uh, my dad in particular is very bad about
00:42:00misgendering her, um, mom will make mistakes, but she always corrects herself
immediately, she'll say he, I mean she! like so she's like, she's
trying, and it's like in her like, oh shit I said--I should've said she, I
meant to say she. With my dad I don't get any of that feeling, it's
just sort of like--dah--he'll like, say are you the kind of guy who instead
of like----------(??) and like to her face. It's not just like when talking
about her, and like um, it really, really upsets her. And so I'm--I was just
like dad you have to stop, like you can't do that, um, it's very
upsetting, I don't know how to tell you that you shouldn't do that but
it's very upsetting. Um and he was just like, okay I'll try, I mean
like I've been--it's 57 years of I've been trusting the evidence of my own
eyes but, and I was like, okay she's wearing a dress and lipstick but okay.
Um--(laughs)--I didn't actually say that because I do have a sense of
self-preservation I didn't want to ruin my brother's graduation party.
So, yeah, it's just been sort of like that it's just kind
00:43:00of tense and like, he's just not good at gendering her correctly, which
upsets me a lot. Um, and I mean he doesn't gender me correctly either, but
I can almost understand that more because people aren't used to using
they/them for a single person I get that, she just uses she/her, if he can use
it for me--anyway, I'm a little salty, so--
Coppola:--you brought the salt to the surface.
Sisko: I did, I'm bringing the salt out of the earth--(both laugh)--
Coppola: Bringing the salt out--ah yes, salt mining.
Coppola: --------(??)--------- is salt mining.
Sisko: So when was it that they met your--your parents met your girlfriend and
that all this happened?
Coppola: Uh, it was over spring break this past year, um, we wanted--she's
a photographer, so we were going to go to the New River Gorge in West Virginia.
Do some hiking, and photography stuff, and brought my dog it was very cute. Um,
and so, my parents house is like an hour away from that, so we just stayed
there, and so it's like, hey, mom, dad, I have a girlfriend, can I bring
her home for spring break? And they were just like, cool, yeah. And,
00:44:00yeah it was actually kind of sweet, as my dad was like, yep, you're
definitely a Coppala, we fall in love fast. So, like that was like a little
glimmer of like, okay he's trying. Um, and like they were both like
just--they are, they are trying in their own way to like--because they know, you
know, once again I'm impossible to convince of anything that I don't
want to be convinced of, so they're not gonna be able to talk me out of it.
So--and they trust me to some extent they trust my judgment so, yeah they met
Sisko: What's your sense for what they thought of you having a girlfriend
instead of having a boyfriend?
Coppola: They knew I was bi long before that I had a girlfriend so like they
must have seen it coming--(laughs)--you know, uh, if they didn't, they
didn't give it away like--once again, they know I, will not be convinced of
anything that I don't think I should be convinced of, so like, even if
they'd been like, uh, you shouldn't have a girlfriend, I would have
just been like, okay, bye. So like, I think there was probably some of that,
some of that like--(laughs)-- sort of emotional manipulation on my
00:45:00part as their child, just being like uh, you either accept me or I--I'm
gone. But like, you know, I don't feel too bad about that.
Sisko: And so um, I think I have two questions coming up, um, with regards to
pronoun usage on campus. What like, people respecting your pronouns and using
they/them and all of that. What has been your experience among students, what
has been your experience among professors?
Sisko: What's been our experience with that? And how do you navigate it,
too? Like do you inform people, how do you navigate it?
Coppola: Uh, so most of the people I'm around are queer as double rainbows,
and they tend to get my pronouns, well--uh they tend to get them pretty easily.
I'm a lot of--I'm around a lot of trans people, that, they get that
easily, too. Um, and then, just like generally most of the people I know are
like, liberals and activists et cetera, communists, what have you. Um, the
people who aren't, uh, some of them, I mean--I think that uh,
00:46:00they/them pronouns usage is getting better and more mainstream, so even people I
wouldn't have thought it would be like, down with it have been--have done
it. And like I'm um,--it's been kind of nice because I'm a Gaines
fellow, and so there's, there's 12 of us in the class that I'm
in, and I've note--like they've started correcting each other when
they mess up my pronouns so I don't have to do it, which is very nice. And
like, none of it--none of them use other pronouns, so it's like, it's
very cool. Um, in terms of teachers, most of the time I do not bother.
Sisko: Really? Why is that?
Coppola: It's not gonna be enough of a problem, and it's not gonna be
enough of a part in my life, and I just don't like--with Gender & Women's
Studies professors, sure. I'll be like, hey, they/them, they'll be like
cool they/them. Um, sometimes it takes them a minute to get it, but it's
like you know they're of another generation and I know they're trying so
it's fine. Uh, but with most professors, I'm like I'm, I'm not
gonna have this fight, or this--even this discussion because, it takes a lot of
energy, and I am in your class, and I just don't want to bother.
00:47:00And I can--you know, it's not like I'm going to know this person for
the rest of my life, so.
Sisko: What do you do when you're in public and somebody--a stranger,
misgenders you, do you feel--
Coppola: --I ignore it.
Sisko: --the need to--okay--
Sisko: --so you ignore it, and why--what is the thought process behind that and why--
Coppola: This interaction is going to last 10 more seconds I'd rather, just
Coppola: Like, I understand why people, look at me and say, oh, there she is.
Like I get it, like, got the body shape, got the makeup on, and it's like,
those are all cues that people are trained to recognize in one way so it's
like okay, I know they're not--(laughs)--they're not checking to make
my life harder and it's like, it's a little bit of a pain just like a,
oh, ow, that hurt. But like, you know I stub my tail all the time, and I keep
walking. So, it's fine.
Sisko: And so, as you know, coming out tends to be a perpetual process--
Coppola: --oh yeah.
Sisko: --rather than a one off kind of deal, um, when and where--well gosh, now
that I think about you're probably gonna have a lot of responses for this--but
when and where do you find yourself having to come out again, whether
00:48:00it's with regards to your gender identity or your sexual identity.
Coppola: Constantly, yeah.
Sisko: That's why I was like, oh my God, like this question's--
Sisko: --way bigger than I thought, yeah.
Coppola: Yeah, constantly, I mean, it's, it's clear to anyone who has
any sort of uh, acquaintanceship with queer stuff that I'm not straight, I
don't give off those vibes--at least I don't think so. Um, it kind of
offends me when people think I'm straight but, it's fine.
Uh--(laughs)--sorry, any straight people watching, I'm not trying to offend you.
Sisko:--(laughs)--It's just not your style.
Coppola: It's not my--like listen, I've got the like, unshaven body, and
the like undercut, like I shave my head and not my legs, like why do you think
I'm straight?--(Sisko laughs)--
Coppola: But, anyway. Yeah, I come out constantly, most of it is just because
like I just--it's a part of who I am, it's like straight people
mention their spice, spice? Spouses, their spouses all the time I'm like yeah,
just the same way I mention my girlfriend, like. So it's like that kind of
thing where I don't think I should have to think of it as coming out, I
think of it as just like this is a true statement about myself.
Sisko: So moving to sort of like, somewhat broader questions, um, tell me about
your social circles in a sense of who do you hang out with, who do you surround
Coppola: Trans people.
Coppola: --almost exclusively.
Coppola: I didn't even realize this was happening until I looked around and
I was like, this is a car full of trans people. Usually there's like,
mostly trans people, there might be like like a cis-woman or something in there,
you know, just for flavor, just your token, bisexual woman--(laughs)--it's,
yeah, um, but mostly--like my best friend, my best friend is trans, my
girlfriend is trans, a lot of my like acquaintances are trans. The ones who
aren't trans are almost all like, cis queer women. So, um, yeah mostly
those people, because--just because of the, the major that I'm in for one,
um, and the people I tend to gel with uh, I just meet a lot of them and I tend
to hit it off with them better.
Sisko: And how would you characterize your relationship with the
00:50:00broader LGBTQ community? And I know that there's a lot like that goes below
that umbrella like there's different kinds of communities and divisions and
blah, blah, blah but, how would you overall characterize your relationship with
all of that?
Coppola: Um, I'm still a weird loner kid. Like, that much hasn't
changed. Like, I feel very weird at pride, like I've been to one pride, and
I'm just like, wow, these are all people who are like me. But at the same
time they're not like, they're--they share, one thing with me, and so I
don't like--the, the, the sort of culture that is understood to be queer
culture is something that I don't really identify myself with, um, I do, I
do very emphatically----------(??) identify myself with the LGBTQ community,
community specifically with the trans community, like that's the one I feel
closer to honestly, because once you're non-binary basically any relationship
you have is gonna be a little bit queer so, that's like less of
00:51:00a focus for me because like it just--because of who I am everything I am is
queer--or every, everyone I love is queer, you know?
Coppola: I can't imagine a person liking me romantically and not being a
little bit queer, it would be very difficult to do, um, and then I probably
wouldn't be into them because they would assume--I guess that would mean
they would think I was straight anyway, whatever. Um, so yeah, I see myself as
like a part of it, but just like, just like everything else, I never quite feel
comfortable in it, and like, that's fine I'm still like that
elementary school kid who's fine sitting by themself with their friends,
like, nothing changes you know?
Sisko: So how often do you visit home, how often do you go back to West Virginia?
Coppola: Uh, I was there yesterday, but not very often.
Sisko: Oh, okay. How does it feel going back now that, you know, you've
come to college, you've been like, more on your own in comparison to when
you were living at home, um, you seem to have a much clearer idea of your
sexuality and gender, although granted, like you'd done a good bit of
00:52:00figuring out even before you left.
Coppola: --oh yeah, I was pretty, pretty----------(??).
Sisko: But even clearer now, um, how does it feel being back?
Coppola: Um, I mean, I kind of slip into the same kind of persona that I did for
my whole life, like I know that my parents will see what they want to see, I
guess. I, it, it does feel kind of stifling like, getting mis-gendered all the
time is very just, exhausting to be--have that in the background like all the
time. Um, and also, eh we live in the suburbs and it's impossible to walk
anywhere so I get very stir crazy. Um, but yeah, I mean there's just like a
lot of tensions I think, because I am--not only am I like, out of the nest, but
I'm now like, just now truly leaving the nest like I don't see my
parents house as home anymore. So it's like I'm staying with my
parents not like I'm at home now. Like I think of going back to Lexington
as going home. So it's sort of it--like I'm in the middle of this process
of not I'm not your-- I'm not your kid any longer, I mean
00:53:00I'm your offspring I'm your child, but I'm not your kid. So, yeah,
that's like I--that's sort of what I was thinking about the whole last
like, when I was there yesterday, through a couple days before that. And then my
brother just went to college too that's a whole other, layer of like
mom's nest is truly empty now, she's quite sad.
Sisko: Oh is she?
Sisko: Continuing on the West Virginia topic, um, over the years, have you
noticed any change in West Virginia, at least in the area that you live in, in
terms of social attitudes or politics? Have you seen any change, or have you not
seen any change, and if you have seen change, like in what ways has it changed?
Coppola: Yeah I don't pay attention very much, I--(laughs)--
Coppola: I feel like, I feel like people might say unkind things about me and
people like me that I just don't notice, um, because I'm not paying
attention and if they like I--that's not what I care about, I don't
really know. I know that it was difficult, and it was easy to like,
00:54:00um, to be censured for whatever, to have whispers about you if you were queer in
high school. But I was also the scary smart one and no one talked about me. Or
at least if they did they never let it hit my ear, so it wasn't like no one
ever was just like, oh that's Meg a queer like, it was like that's
Meg, they're smart and scary. I didn't try to be scary, I think it's
just my face. So--(laughs)--um, that would like--I wasn't quite--and I also
wasn't like I didn't understand how to be part of like, high school
social interactions or whatever. Like, I just wasn't very good at it, so I
ignored almost everybody who wasn't my friends, and if they said anything
about me I didn't know it, so I didn't really notice any change.
Sisko: What space's do you feel um, most comfortable or more welcome in?
And that could be, an individual's house or a campus building or anything
really, just any kind of like--
Sisko: --physical location where you feel welcome, and comfortable.
Coppola: Yeah friends houses, my house, I love to nest, to cook like all that
kind of stuff. Um. Uh, I don't know, I'm kind of always on high alert,
my friend--one of my--
Sisko: --Well, my follow up question was are there spaces that you don't
feel safe in and don't feel welcome in?
Coppola: I, I never fear--feel unsafe or, uh, weird because I'm queer. Um,
that doesn't occur to me, and it probably should honestly, but I'm
just sort of like, yeah, okay, fine. Nobody hates me I'm just struttin' on my
merry way. Um I always am just sort of like low key, uncomfortable all the time
because of social anxiety. Like, I went to China, and I had very little
cultural-------------(??) culture shock because I'm so used to being
uncomfortable and not knowing what's going on that I was just like oh yeah,
it's just--I don't understand it but it's in a different language so I
have a reason not to understand it. So like, that kind of thing or where
it's like I'm never, quite comfortable anyway, so being uncomfortable
doesn't register with me.
Sisko: So now we're gonna head more in a political direction--
Sisko: --and this is a question--yeah you're ready for this!
Coppola: --I'm ready.
Sisko: Um, yeah, yeah, and people--everyone I've asked this question they
definitely have responses. Um, how do you feel existing under the current
Coppola: Defiant. Angry. Uh, in some ways energize the bigotries out in the
open. Uh--(laughs)--that's nice, it's nice to not be--because like in
the Obama era you could be like, oh yeah well, things are getting better. Things
are, -----------(??) uh, on a like a political bureaucratic scale, changes are
being made things are getting better. Now you can't say that.
Um--(laughs)--and it's sort of obvious that any change that comes has to be
kind of like ground, ground level and uh, sort of a marathon. Like a, like a lot
like a very long haul where you break your legs and you carry your, you carry
your fallen brother in across your shoulders, et cetera. Um, uh it's,
it's very much a thing of like endure, uh, wait to the--wait for
00:57:00the world to turn, and hope it turns toward justice because, it ain't there now.
Sisko: And um, in terms of, well I guess you consider Lexington's to be
home now, so I should say in terms of where your parents live, um, what's
the sort of, political spectrum that's there? In terms of um, yeah, support
or not support.
Coppola: So I come from a kind of strange area of West Virginia, it, it's
close enough to Ohio and Kentucky that it's not--it's still
Appalachian, um, but a lot of it is very sort of culturally Midwestern, kind of
Kentucky-Ohio, um, it really depends. It really does, um, there's some
people who are just like, yeah, it's okay to be gay, and then there's
some people who are just like gays destroying the country, like--------(??)----------.
Sisko: --so it sounds a little mixed.
Sisko: Like there--you got all kinds of different things going on.
Coppola: Yeah, and once again I don't pay a lot of attention--(laughs)--um,
to what individual people think. And, you know even if they did have
00:58:00very uh, dim views of queer people they probably won't tell me specifically,
that seems--(laughs)--uh, bad practice but, yeah, no, it's it's, same as
everywhere there's people on both sides, I, I don't think it's
quite um, homogenous--as homogeneously homophobic as people like to paint it.
There are a lot of people who are willing to just like, let it be. So yeah,
Sisko: And this is gonna be my last question, actually, um, and it's another one
I ask everybody. What are some things--and they can be, personal or, more
broadscale political whatever. What are some things that give you hope for the
future, what are the things that make you feel hopeful about what's to come?
Coppola: Trans kids.
Sisko: Trans kids--
Sisko: --why is that?
Coppola: Um, they're all like--so I, have uh, attended a couple of meetings
uh, for the GSA that's near my house that, yeah--um, with like a bunch of
like, queer teenagers and all of these kids, even the very youngest
00:59:00teenagers they're like 14, 15 year olds, they know who they are already,
and they know what they deserve and they know what they don't deserve. Um,
and so like, just the fact that even at that age where I was still just sort of
like what, is anything, they're already just like, I am a trans man, and
this is what I am, and I am willing to demand respect from people and just like,
they're there, they're, they're being raised with a much higher
consciousness of a queer community, I think, than this generation was, um,
probably because Internet, that helps. Um, and yeah they're like,
they're just--they're ready to like, get their hands dirty and like,
fight for, fight for stuff that they believe in and the stuff that's
important to them. And also just like being in queer community, like even--like
not just the kids like, even you know the older--from the elder queers down to
the baby queers you know, it's like just watching everybody that I know, go
through all of this bullshit that they really shouldn't have to, and just
like keep going like, yeah, that's what our life is like, we're
stronger than that. It's like, we sure are. We are stronger than
01:00:00that, like, it takes a lot more than just a couple slurs and some discrimination
to keep us--so, that's really heartening for me.
Sisko: I think that's a really good note to end on actually, yeah. Thank
you for sharing everything.
Coppola: No problem.