(originally published on March 5, 2018)
To say that Matt Baume is a busy man, would be an understatement. In his “About Me” Section, Matt lists the following fields as to what he’s currently active in: writer, podcaster, and video-maker. Included among his many current accomplishments are his current YouTube channel, a live comedy show called Dungeons and Drag Queens, a livestream every Monday and Friday at 8 PM PST (where Matt reads a few short stories and then chats with his viewers), and a whole lot more! As you’ll learn by reading our interview, Matt is not only a very self-motivated person, he also has a warm personality and is quite easy to talk to. (Also, be sure to check out his YouTube Channel! You’ll see in videos such as this one that Matt has a great sense of humor with some edge! Love it!)
So, get comfortable, and let’s get to the interview!
1. How accepting was your family when you came out to them?
I was very fortunate! My parents were eager to make me feel welcome and cared for in the family. It wasn’t often a topic of conversation between us, but I know that they did a lot of learning on their own — reading books, going to events for parents, that sort of thing. That’s not to say I didn’t feel uncomfortable and out-of-place, but I think that was all to do with being a teenager — it’s hard not to feel a lot of angst and drama simply because you’re between the ages of 13 and 19.
2. Why do you think so many politicians are homophobic and so determined to pass anti-LGBTQ laws? Many of them make being gay out to be some kind of threat to society instead of focusing their time on actual issues such as opioids, rape, gun control, and so much more.
I think we’re seeing less of this as time goes on. It used to be an easy way to rile up a base, but as more people come out of the closet, more of their family and friends see that queer people are everywhere and aren’t a threat. As a result, fear-mongering about LGBTs is far less effective at scaring conservative people into voting than it once was. It’s always been a cynical way to pit people against each other, and I’m glad it’s gradually going away. Of course, now that same tactic is being used against immigrants, so I think it’s important to always be wary of politicians who lean on an us-versus-them story.
3. What gave you the idea to start your YouTube Channel?
It was right after Prop 8 passed and people were desperate for information about what they could do to help. I was writing articles online about activism opportunities, but that simply wasn’t enough — people needed to hear more directly what was going on with activism week to week. That gradually turned into videos about more evergreen topics, looking into queer issues that affect people over longer periods of time.
4. I love that you play Dungeons and Dragons! What first got you interested in it?
That was something my partner had a lot of expertise in, but it was a long time before it became a part of our relationship — about fifteen years. We’d always talked about playing a gay version of the game, with drag queens taking on the roles of adventurers, but a major obstacle was the fact that I never learned how to play! So a few months ago he just sat me down and started showing me how it all works. It took awhile for me to pick it up, but before long I’d absorbed enough that I could run a game. And now we’re actually doing what we’d always talked about: putting on shows where drag queens play fantasy adventures for a live audience. (There’s a mailing list for the show at dungeondrag.com.)
5. I enjoy your take on the way the LGBTQIA Community has been treated in pop culture throughout the decades. Do you feel like there have been any films and/or TV shows that have tried to tackle this topic with the best of intentions but ended up missing the mark?
I think there was rising interest in the 70s, after Stonewall, that affected depictions in movies and on TV. The film Cruising might be the best example of a story that really gets it wrong: It’s creepy and unpleasant, and even though today it seems very campy, at the time it really hurt a lot of people. Then there’s shows like Bosom Buddies, which presents “men dressing like women” as a big goofy deception, which is a bit insensitive to people for whom gender presentation is a very serious issue. A little bit later, the show Friends made it seem like Ross’s wife leaving him for another woman was a failing of his own masculinity, which I don’t think was meant maliciously but was in fact pretty insulting to men and lesbians.
6. As many of us know, there was a huge AIDS epidemic in 1980’s that President Reagan refused to comment on. Years ago on VH1 I saw an announcement for An Early Frost, a 1985 NBC Made-For-TV-Movie, and the first major film to address the subject. Have you heard of the film? And if so, what are your thoughts on it?
I’ve heard of it — but I haven’t seen it! I remember watching a clip of it in high school in the mid-90s … I believe it was in a health class, and it was shown to emphasize how social stigma affected gay men in the 80s. I should go back and actually see the whole thing!
7. What plans do you have for your Channel in 2018, and do you have any additional career plans you’d like to share?
I’m going to be doing a lot more videos in 2018! There’ll be a weekly digest of LGBT news from around the world; monthly videos that look at LGBT characters on TV (I’m working on one now about Blanche’s gay brother on Golden Girls); and livestreams. I’m very excited to get more videos out, since viewers have been requesting a lot of great topics. It’s particularly rewarding because the videos are viewer-supported on Patreon — people who enjoy what I do chip in a few dollars a month so that I can continue making new content. It feels great to be supported directly by the community I’m making videos for.
I enjoyed being able to have the opportunity to interview you, Matt, and your answers really got me thinking about the way I see things vs. how others may see it. Example: I realized over time that there were problems with the show FRIENDS in terms of both transphobia and homophobia, but being a cisgender, straight, white woman, I still didn’t recognize the way they portrayed Ross having an ex-wife who was a lesbian made him less of a man. It’s sad that I didn’t notice these things before, and it shows that I still have a lot of growing to do. But that’s the thing, we should never stop growing and trying to improve ourselves.
Thank you, Matt. I feel very humbled by not just that answer, but all of your answers, including the more light-hearted ones! I hope everyone not only learned something priceless but also learned a lot more about Matt himself, who I believe is a wonderful person. Please go check out his YouTube channel as well as the many things he’s got going on right now. I guarantee you’ll have a lot of fun and learn so much!