Building the language to translate what transness looks like with LaSaia Wade and Miasha

Welcome to our LGBT podcast and in this episode we’re talking with community organizer and activist LaSaia Wade (she/they) about Secret Society by Miasha (she/her). This novel starts as a story about two flashy women who hustle men for money, but then dives into the twists and turns of living and loving in the world as trans women of color.  LaSaia tells us that Secret Society “was part of me building the language to translate transness to my parents.”

Plus! Miasha joins us to talk discuss her inspiration for the novel, what she hoped for it, and how she turned it into a film franchise.

Buy Secret Society at our Bookshop page: bookshop.org/shop/thisqueerbook

Stream Secret Society on Tubi or purchase it at Amazon Prime.

Connect with LaSaia at lasaiawade.com

Stay connected with Miasha on Instagram: @miashaofficial

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You can buy all the books that we feature on This Queer Book Saved My Life! at our Bookshop! We have a link to our Bookshop page in the show notes, and on our website. You’ll find Season 1’s books and our Season 2 ones as we release new episodes. We receive a 10% commission on every book you purchase through our Bookshop page, so not only are you getting a life-giving new read, you’re also supporting us directly! Happy book buying!

 

TRANSCRIPT

[theme music]

J.P. Der Boghossian: On today’s I’m talking with LaSaia Wade about the book Secret Society by Miasha. This novel starts as a story about two flashy women who hustle men for money, but then dives into the twists and turns of living and loving in the world as trans women of color.

Plus, Miasha joins us for the conversation to discuss her inspiration for the novel, what she hoped for it, and how she turned it into a film franchise.

My name is J.P. Der Boghossian and you’re listening to This Queer Book Saved My Life!

[music ends]

J.P.: Hello everybody! Thank you for joining us here today for what is a very special episode and I was telling our guests LaSaia and Miasha that I was having trouble sleeping last night because I was really excited for this episode. They are here with me in our virtual studio and before we get started as always I offer my gratitude to Quatrefoil Library in Minneapolis. They are our promotional sponsor and they’ve been such a friend to me personally and to this podcast. For those who don’t know or haven’t checked them out yet, Quatrefoil is a community center whose mission is to make accessible LGBTQI+ materials for education and inspiration. You can check out their Queer reading lists, lending library, Queer book clubs and community events at qlibrary.org. Let us have our guests introduce themselves.

LaSaia Wade: It’s nice to be on this podcast. My name is LaSaia. I go by she and they pronouns preferably she in these settings and they as a personal pronoun. I am the founder of Brave Space Alliance which is a LGBTQI+ Community Center located on the south side of Chicago that is fully ran by black and brown Trans people. I’m also the founder of a new 501C3 Nonprofit organization that is just starting because I just left Brave Space to start something around housing the LGBTQI+ population within the state of Illinois. I’m excited to get that off the ground. I’ve been organizing for the last fifteen years with BLM National down to BLM CHI.
I am a local and national organizer for Trans rights throughout this country and also throughout this world. I’m a Black Indigenous Trans woman that’s 35 years old and a mother of a two year old and a wife. I’m also the first Black Trans woman in this country to be acknowledged through women’s history by the state of Illinois.

Miasha: Wow I mean….

J.P.: I did not know that!

LaSaia: I’m looking crazy because I’m getting my PhD so school is at home. I’ve decided not to put my wig on so I asked to make sure the videos aren’t recorded so I’m good to go.

J.P.: What are you getting your Ph D in?

LaSaia: I’m getting my Ph D in business.

J.P.: Congratulations! Miasha, would you like to introduce yourself?

Miasha: I’m Miasha the author of 10 novels and now executive producer of two films: Secret Society and Secret Society 2. I’m also a wife and a mother. I have 2 sons, 13 and 18. I’m well ahead of you LaSaia but I can definitely share some insight on what you have to look forward to! I’m just happy to be here on this podcast especially to speak with someone like LaSaia who I can’t wait to hear from about her feelings regarding Secret Society which was my first novel.

J.P.: Thank you. A question that I ask all the guests that come on this show because I think stories obviously are really important to who we are and shaping our lives and so I’m curious for both of you: What were some formative, important stories for you when you were younger? They could be books or oral stories, family stories, films, tv, music etc?

LaSaia: To be honest as a young Queer Trans person, there really wasn’t a lot that was tangible that I saw myself in or wanted to be a part of I was trying to figure out what the world looks like. I was living in the south. Most if not all Trans people are stealth during that time and we’re only talking about twenty five years ago right? I see how the world has changed within that time frame. I was in a world of trying to figure out who I was in a midst of no resources in the midst of no connections within the Trans population. My escapism was reading. my escape even was getting information. What does it look like to level myself up and separate myself from most people that were doing either harm or wanted to do harm towards me right? I was on… I’m telling my age but I was on AOL!

J.P. Der Boghossian
The internet heard AOL and it was like no!

LaSaia: I was on AOL and I was doing as much as I possibly could to literally just find resources for Trans people and trying to read up and then Secret Society popped up! and.then multiple books, multitudes of different books popped up for me to read. This one particularly popped up because of a Black woman on the cover and I had never seen that before right? As I was reading, it was giving me a sense of oh okay now I can see I was not alone. This is a part of my narrative. That’s where I was.

J.P.: Thank you! We’re going to get into a lot of that. Miasha, how about for you? Were there formative stories for you?

Miasha Coleman: You know what? I was a writer before I was a reader I guess you can say. I was writing these stories that were based on what I knew from my environment and I would pass them around to my classmates and they would be like, oh my god, I need to know what’s gonna happen next! This one girl in particular when she read it, she was like this reminds me of a book by Omar Taree called Fly Girl. You should read it. At that time, I had never much like LaSaia, I had never read or even knew of books that spoke to my community which would would be the urban, inner city community. I went and looked for the book. I bought the book. I read the book and was looking for more books like that. I came across Terry Woods’ True to the Game. I came across The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah and I just became immediately a fan of what they call Urban literature.
I saw my writing in that realm and from then on it was just like anything that came out that was like remotely hood, I could feel like I could relate to. I was hooked on it.

J.P.: Great. Thank you for that. So, LaSaia, What’s the book that saved your life?

LaSaia: Secret Society saved me and the reason why I say it saved me and the reason why I say it held a big part of my narrative of that Urban literature is that I am a big fan of Education. I’m a big fan of elevating language. What I’m a big fan on is someone who stays true to the thesis that we all actually are nothing in this country. We can move forward without Urban language like period, point blank right? We shift the language of this country. We shift the knowledge of how to maneuver through style, through sports and everything.

When I connected with the language, I’m able to understand why my non P O C Partners or colleagues do not understand the book right? Because she connects with me and on another particular type of level that I hold homage because of my background and because of my ancestry and that’s why Secret Society was so important to me because I understood the language that I was reading. . I was a young Trans woman trying to maneuver through the world, talking to multitudes of people that would not come out as Trans. I was seeing myself in that book. . Knowing that my story is not of the norm within my community made me feel as though I was not by myself. We were just not connected right? It gave me a different light of like I can get out right?
I can survive if I figure out what survival looks like for me. That particular notion in 2007 when I found the book reminded me that there are other options. There’s other ways to actually be able to not only take my abilities and to know that I can be stealth and with community but also take my education to level myself up outside of what I deem as norm.

J.P.: Miasha, I want be mindful of spoilers for folks who haven’t read the book yet but would you like to give us a synopsis of what Secret Society is about?

Miasha: Sure. Secret Society is about two beautiful, flashy girls who basically hustle men for money but the two of them have a jaw-dropping secret that once revealed all hell breaks loose!

J.P.: LaSaia, can you take us back to that moment when you found the book? I’m always curious how folks find the books that save their lives because as Queer culture, we don’t necessarily grew up in Queer households and so we’re constantly having to find our people and to connect with our community. I’m curious. Did you say you found it online like through an Amazon search?

LaSaia: I was trying to find access to hormones at that particular time. There was no particular doctor in Tennessee that gave out hormones. I found an old website called In-house Pharmacy. It probably still exists. But then you did not have to have a prescription to get particular hormones. The girls would go on that website and get their hormones and as I was doing that I was connected with other Trans women across the country having conversations online right? They were saying this is where you get your hormones but also they were talking about online research around Trans stuff. I did not feel connected in particular ways. Books were my escape. I went to the library and I was trying to find books on being Transgender, being Trans being a Transsexual and then trying to understand what each and everything means because we didn’t have that. I grew up around whiteness in a way where all of that was not even even talked about in a particular notion. So when I found this one particular book, I kind of was lucky that I found it. You would not know that this book is actually talking about these issues unless you read the book. You probably think this is a porn book right because the way the girl is sitting on the front and the way she’s puffed up and in particular ways you wouldn’t even expect this particular type of story to come out of this book.

Miasha: Right.

LaSaia: So I was able to hide it at home. As I was reading it, I got more connected to it and was actually able to have the conversation with my mother. I was able to break my educational language down because of the Urban literature from this book. to my mother to be able to say I am not the only one that has went through this story because my mother was there a lot of the times when men came over to the house gave my mother money to be able to pay bills, bought me cars and this, that and the other. and so as she was my witness, her being connected to this particular book of understanding, she understood like you are not the only one.

Miasha: Wow. Okay, here she goes.

LaSaia: Her connection to this book is like how can we build a community or how can you find other people in your community to know because I can’t as your CIS gender mother. I cannot give you the language or the information to maneuver through society as a Trans woman.This book opened the door for me in particular ways to figure out the language to figure out who I am as a Trans woman but also understand that Trans women everywhere were hustlers. We had to do what we had to do in that particular climate in that time to figure out how to maneuver forward.

J.P.: I’m curious when you were reading it that first time. I think you said earlier that you got the book because there was someone who looked like you. What was it like as you were reading the book then for you to discover that it was a story that had this Trans storyline. I’m trying not to give away too many spoilers as you were going along as you’re reading it that first time.

Miasha: I was telling JP that it’s okay to give away spoilers. I think by now a lot of people pretty much get the gist of it. So it’s fine.

LaSaia: I was just looking for trigger words like Trans, Transgender, Transsexual. I was trying to find articles and books that just had those particular words in it or a woman of the night or sex worker. I was trying to find particular words. and then words was in certain books and this , a few. The words was already in that book.

J.P.: Got it. So what was that lived experience of reading it. One of the first books that you saw yourself reflected in and getting that language for the first time?

LaSaia: It was heartbreaking. The reason why I say it was heartbreaking is because I did not want to lose myself or lose my life because I saw myself going down that lane right? I was connected to a lot of people who were close friends willing to pay for my travel across the country and I maneuvered in spaces where they did not know that I was a Trans woman. That’s how I maneuvered through my life during that particular climate because that’s all I knew and that was all that was told to me that I could do. We didn’t see Trans women on national tv. We didn’t see Trans women on television or news. The information that we got was that a girl down the street got killed. Stay stay from over there right? Don’t go to the club on a Saturday because you know there’s a person that’s been looking for the girls.We we got those stories and they were underground stories. Most people did not know so in reading this, I was like I got to do something. I am 35 now I’ve buried over 267 Trans women throughout my life. The work that I have done so far to notice that these stories will continue to happen because of the way society sees us.

Until we are able to maneuver from the moral high ground that this country is sitting on. We will not be able to accept the new stories of Trans women getting education, of Trans women being doctors and on TV and actually doing amazing work: not just work for the Trans community but for communities at large.

J.P.: Could you tell us more about sharing Secret Society with your mom?

LaSaia: Jimmy was a friend of mine and we still connect to this day but but he is a person that will not come out as Trans and rightfully so. I can understand that. The danger can come from these conversations. I told mom look, this happened here. But also you see what I’m dealing with right now. She was reading the book on and off. My mother was never a big reader but she’ll read a chapter here and there. I told her to sit down and read. We didn’t have a conversation about it. She said the one thing that I do not want to do is lose my baby. I was the one that was making sure the bills were paid and making sure everything was certain at home.

This book was a stepping stone for me to understand that my educational language has to be broken down. Most people that write in Urban literature already have a higher education right? So we already know how to break down higher education to actually transform that language to be able to reach the communities that we’re trying to have a conversation with. That’s what I love about this book because when she was reading it, she understood it.

It wasn’t no big words. She had to often go somewhere else to actually understand the definition of that word right? She was able to flow through that book and ask me questions like what does this look like? What does that look like? To be honest, I did not know what that looked like. I did not know how to break down the terminologies. But I knew the story because I was a part of that story.

[music]

J.P.: After the break, I’ll ask Miasha about her inspiration for Secrety Society and how the book came to be. See you on the flip side.

[music ends]

J.P.: Shout out time to Awen Brien, Natalie Cruz, Bill Shay, Paul Kaefer, Archie Arnold., and Stephen D., for being This Queer Book Saved My Life’s first Patreon supporters. Can you join them in helping to keep our podcast accessible to our deaf and hard of hearing audience? Your sponsorship will directly support transcription services as well as website technical maintenance and all other behind the scenes tech stuff to keep us running and accessible. There are three monthly membership options you can choose from, starting at $5/month. You can subscribe at patreon.com/thisqueerbook

At Bookshop.org you can buy all the books that we feature on This Queer Book Saved My Life! We have a link to our Bookshop page in the show notes, and on our website. You’ll find Season 1’s books and our Season 2 ones as we release new episodes. We receive a 10% commission on every book you purchase through our Bookshop page, so not only are you getting a life-giving new read, you’re also supporting us directly! Happy book buying!

[music]

J.P.: There is an urgent debate in publishing, films, and TV about being inclusive of trans artists telling their own stories, but also what does allyship look like in producing and publishing trans stories. Here’s more of my conversation with Miasha and LaSaia.

[music ends]

J.P.: Miasha, you said you were a storyteller from the get-go and as I was prepping for this interview I saw that you had given and another interview about a graduation speaker who is also a writer. You saw them giving that graduation speech and it really inspired you to say I’m going to go after this. I’m going to be a writer too. Did Secret Society immediately come from that decision?

Miasha: No, not immediately. When I did make up my mind to not go the traditional route of finding a career and instead I was going to chase my dream of becoming an author, I sat down to write one of the stories that I had written in high school. II basically wanted to revisit that story and make that my first novel. I just kept getting stumped. It wasn’t coming to me. I wasn’t inspired in that direction. So I said maybe I need to just start something from scratch and I decided to start a story about these two girls. I loved the name of the character in the previous story. So I snatched Celeste’s name from my high school story and put it into Secret Society. I didn’t even know that it was going to be a story about Trans women when I first started to write it. It was a process. It didn’t just come. That story didn’t just come. Different things led up to it.

J.P.: What comes up for you as you hear LaSaia and her mom using your book to kind of navigate, well it wasn’t really navigating but the relationship that they had and LaSaia’s would you call it coming out process?

LaSaia Wade: No. I came out when I was 14. I caught the book when I was 19. It wasn’t a part of the process of coming out as Trans. That was a part of me building the language to be able to translate what Transness looks like to my parents.

J.P.: Miasha, what comes up for you when you hear that as a storyteller about how your story has impacted this life?

Miasha: Honestly I’m getting chills every time I hear LaSaia speak about her experience and especially her experience in relation to reading Secret Society because , you know, your intentions change over time when different things happen. *So my intention when I wrote the book was just to write a really good entertaining story that I could get published. Then once the twist came and once I realized that this was going to be a story about Trans women,
my intention changed to, wow I want to show people that are like me and from my community, from the hood, this lifestyle that we know of and we’ve heard of but is really brushed under the rug in this environment.
I wanted them to see it and understand it and know it the way I had come to understand it from doing my research for the book because it became something different for me. It wasn’t just an entertainment anymore when I interviewed the young lady who lived that lifestyle and who gave me a lot of those details to make the story authentic. I felt a sense of compassion for her and everybody else in the community than I had ever felt before because I never was faced with it. I had never known a Trans person. I had never spoken to a Trans person. I had never met a Trans person before. My world never involved thinking of what Trans people go through and what their life is like. I had not considered how what I do and how I live my life could affect them in any way. Once I got to know her and heard her stories I knew that it could make other people who come from the same background as me, that it could do that for them too. My intention became bridging that gap and giving people that extra layer of understanding and compassion that they may have never had or had any reason to have. This story from LaSaia is a whole other layer for her and her mom to be able to build from that story I never even thought was a realm of possibility. I always looked at it as allowing people like me to have this sense of compassion to open up our minds and open up our hearts more. To know that it actually helped within families, that’s a whole different thing. I’m just getting chills behind it because it lets me know that it was bigger than me to write that story. I’m a cisgender woman telling a story like this where some people would say I had no business. I feel like it was god’s plan. It’s just bigger than me.

LaSaia: As one of the pillars in the community, I’m an icon. Thank you. I could say that I think it’s important for the people in my generation that are stuck in the middle, it’s important that you were able to tell a story to let us be able to visualize ourselves in it. right. I know how people will not give space or give grace to how sticky these conversations can be. I applaud you. I thank you because we are now seeing our story being told by other people. We can be able to tell our own stories. But we cannot be the only people to tell our stories right? I’m fine with a cis woman playing me.
That shit goes triggering. I don’t want to play my God being himself right? Looking at the movie I can understand the maneuvering and the ways that you had to maneuver people from feeling uncomfortable. They want to see themselves. You have to stick to the story at hand and be authentic to the story. So this is coming from me. Thank you , , a lot of people are not going to get that space. It’s a full circle for me and my story. So thank you.

Miasha: Thank you. I appreciate that it means a lot and like I said I’m just thankful that I was able to do something for even one person nevermind a group of people to better their situation in one way or another.

J.P.: Could you share a little bit more about the research process? Actually I think the person was Kiva that you were working with in terms of the research. What was that like as the book was taking on all these new layers of complexity?

Miasha: I’m from Philadelphia.. There’s an area called the neighborhood and I had one of my cousins go with me to the neighborhood. We’re gonna ride around to see if there’s someone there that’s willing to talk to me and give me this information. We go down to the neighborhood at night and prostitution was very prevalent in the neighborhood at that time. There were a couple girls here and there. We kept driving around and driving around because I was trying to work up the nerve to approach one of the young ladies. When we finally pulled over I said okay I’m just gonna do it. I rolled down the window and Kiva was looking and she thought we were police. I’m like, oh absolutely not! She looked at the tag on the car. I’m like no I’m a writer. I’m trying to write a book about Trans women and I just need some information.

So once she got past the fact that we’re not the law she was just so gracious! She had this huge personality and she was excited that someone was writing a book about Trans women so she was like pouring it all out. Right? On the corner while we’re in the car with the windows down and she’s just jumping up showing her boobs like how to shake and how silicone is sitting right? It felt like my home girl! I had just met this girl but I felt like I had known her for years. It was amazing the way she was able to communicate with me and how relaxed the conversation was. I got her number and we just stayed in touch. Any questions that I came across, I would call her and she would just pour it all out. She didn’t hold back! She she let me know the good, the bad and the ugly. You know? She wasn’t protective over any of it. She wanted to share everything that she had gone through and what she had seen and witnessed. She wanted it to be a part of the story if it could be. That’s where I got a lot of the information from to make it authentic because I had not lived that life. I had not had that experience and I wanted it to ring true to people who did live that life. I didn’t want to just create all these imaginary things that I thought might happen or how I thought they lived or what they did to get by. I was grateful to her and all of her information and I wish that we still were in touch. I have not heard from her in quite a long time,probably since the book was published to be honest.

J.P.: Did she get to read drafts of it while you were going along?

Miasha: No, she didn’t get to read drafts. , we just talked it like interview style but homeg girl new style on the phone a lot and by the time the book was complete and you know ready to go I had lost touch with either.

J.P.: Did she not get to read it?

Miasha: I don’t know. I always wished I would get emails when the book was published from different people in the community saying thank you for this story! I was always scouring for her name to just pop up somewhere. I just pray that all is well but I have not heard from her since.
LaSaia: All I have do is make a phone call. I know a couple people.

Miasha: Oh if you can… oh my God, that would be everything to me.

J.P.: Wow!

LaSaia: I got a homegirl, actually her name is Kiba and she lives in New York but she goes to Philly. I have a couple of homegirls in Philly too. So if she was one of them girls doing sex work I can track her.

Miasha: The book came out in 2006 but I had written it immediately after college which was 2003. We talked on the phone throughout the whole process.

LaSaia: I asked some Michael home girls to see because a lot of them were sex workers then but they’re not now. Most sex workers know each other if something has happened or she changed her name. They would know.

Miasha: Yeah, okay, wow!

J.P.: Wow. I really hope that connection happens. That would be amazing for both of you. LaSaia. I’m curious, after you read it and after you were having these conversations with your mom like what happened next for you? What doors open from reading Secret Society?

LaSaia: I continue to learn to evolve my language. After graduating college, I went to be one of the first directors of communication for Bell South. After a year working there, I got blackballed because they found out that I was Trans so I could not work in communications for a long time. I appreciate that particular type of narrative because it started my activism and advocacy work. I went on to go to Audrey Lorss Projects in New York, the Transgender Law Center in California. I was there during Ferguson when it started to become one of the first leagues of BLM nationally and continue to push my work.
I started an organization in Tennessee called Transgender Journey Project to Brave Space Alliance in Chicago to now the Night House. I continue to evolve and it was important to me to figure out what it looks like. Not only to build the language in community but also be able to translate the language to people that do not want that particular type of educational language. It was a stepping stone and I appreciate the stepping stone because again those particular types of books are survival guides for girls that are in the hood and that do not have linkage or do not have the educational language or just wanting to find themselves. That’s one of the books that will help the girls realize yes, you can do that ball. So there’s other things that you could possibly do.

J.P.: That educational language transition piece I think is so important Miasha when you were getting started writing the book, what were those decisions going into and choosing the language style that you were going to use for the book and for the characters?

Miasha: It was just me and my girlfriends and how we spoke. It was really just what I was used to and what I was around every day all day for my entire life up until that point. That was it. It was just what rang true to me.

J.P.: How did the film come about?

Miasha: I think this might just be something that a lot of authors wish for when they get published. They wish that their books become movies. I think it’s kind of like a natural big dream. Over the years I got approached by different people to option the book and I was excited about that because that was the pathway to it being a movie. Then I learned that that meant I wouldn’t have any creative control over it and so if someone decided that they wanted to produce the movie version but then it just came out crazy then that would look crazy on me because it would still be based on the novel by me!
That swayed me away from that route and I started thinking okay, well I want to do this but I want to do it myself where I have creative control. So I know that I’m capable of it but I just need the money. So then I started going to find investors or people who would fund this project. I was getting hit with people saying that it was going to take too much money. You know after they read the script they would say this script is way too ambitious. You’re going to need millions and millions of dollars to shoot this movie. That was the last part of discouragement for me. So I put the movie on the back burner. My husband and I focused on a business that we started. We threw ourselves into that over the last nine years and then in 2019 I saw him on Instagram. Jamal Hill, who’s from my same city had posted that he wants to make four movies the following year. I just said let me just shoot my shot in his comments and I said we should do one together. He commented back and said we should. I reached out to him and told him about Secret Society like this is the one I want to make into a movie. I sent them the book and he was like I have to be a part of this. I’ve never read a story like this in my life. I want to be on board! Getting that green light from him as coming on board as a director, I felt like this guy saying okay, it’s time.
I went to my husband and I said you know I really want to do this. We have already been stamped by this director who is pretty credible. He has movies that’ve been in the theaters and on Netflix. He’s a credible director. My husband said okay, well if you want to do it, you’re the captain. I’m going to support you 100%. We’re gonna be taking our money. You got to make sure you see this thing through and the rest was history. We were able to shoot the movie during the pandemic. It took fifteen days. Everything kind of aligned. All the stars aligned. I got blessed with a very amazing production team. Even though it was my first movie, it was something that because everybody was aligned in the stars like I said, alive. It felt like I had already been doing this and I was a pro at it. It went so smoothly to the point where I couldn’t even believe that it went so smoothly. Now here we are. We finished Part 2 and are working on a third.

LaSaia: Oh shit a third! Okay I’m ready.

J.P.: Do you have any questions for Miasha?

LaSaia: I don’t have any questions, I just have an aberration. In all the years I’ve been doing this work, you see people wanting to be allies or comrades or trying to push that particular type of peace on leaders and people that have names in our communities in particular ways but not the admiration to actually do it in their own right? You don’t see that too often. You don’t see them pushing a narrative like you need to hear this story. You need to see this story. This story is beautiful. It’s unique. It’s also from my community. It’s a piece of my community, a piece of me in a particular way, right? I cannot tell you how much of a thank you I can say from this. If you need a unie, let me know I could fly down there and say hey hero! Okay?

Miasha: We’re definitely going to stay in touch.

LaSaia: It’s all admiration and again, it’s just a full circle for me. I cannot express how much of a thank you.

Miasha: Well I just want to say because I guess I was always an ally right? I’ve never had an issue with anybody within the LGBTQ Community. I’ve never had an issue with anybody period. we’re all human. That was just my take on it , but for a lot of my younger years I had never been around or had any relationship to gay people. I had never experienced SoTrans people so when I wrote the story and it just turned out to be about Trans women and then I started to get to know Trans women and I started to feel the way that I felt I felt more of an ally. It wasn’t just by default. It was like more so on purpose at that point. Now all these years later in doing the movie and starting to interact with people who didn’t even know about the book all those years ago but they knew about the movie and they had that same gratitude that you expressed. Thank you for showing this story on a bigger platform and giving that light to Trans women. Even now when I’m seeing the viewers of the movie, these are straight men from the streets who would never just say, oh, I’m going to go watch a movie about some Trans women. They would never do that. They would never sit down for that. They watch it because they don’t know, right? Then once they get hit with it, they’re so in it like, oh way I see it’s gonna happen and then the buy in. Because they’ve already established such a connection to Cellescentina as their girls and then that happens and they start to be like damn why that had to happen to her?

LaSaia: That’s the key. A lot of our communities don’t realize that we are just trying to survive and live just like everyone else right? Our stories are f’ed up just like everybody else’s right? The way we maneuver might be wrong, but that’s what we were taught to maneuver in because of how society has set it all up and that is the key point of how we need other people telling our stories because if you have other eyes and other understandings of how we maneuver. Therefore you are a connection to cisgender men in a particular way that I can never be. I know a lot of cisgender men that have watched this movie and be like, you know what it might be time to be coming out in a particular way right? They’re just living their life just like I’m trying to live in 2022? Why am I worried about what somebody else is saying about me down the street?

Miasha: Exactly. That’s how I take it. It’s blessed to me to be able to be that bridge, that vessel. Whatever name we want to give to it. Just keep enlightening people and keep opening people’s minds and hearts. I might be dreaming a little bit too big here but at some point I just envision this world where everybody can move about freely, openly with no judgment and as long as it’s not hurting anybody we’re all good with it. That’s my hope for one day soon. Race, gender, sexual preference everything across the board. I just want us to move about as humans and respect each other and love each other in that way.

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J.P.: I want to thank LaSaia and Miasha for joining me today. You can find out more about LaSaia and her work on her website: lasaiawade.com.

Miasha is currently writing the script for Secret Society 3. Production is slated for Spring 2023 with an anticipated fall release. You can follow her for updates and so much more on Instagram, she is @miashaofficial.

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J.P.: Cheers for listening today! All of our episodes are executive produced by Jim Pounds, which includes guest management, public relations, transcript editing, and keeping me looking fabulous.

If you haven’t subscribed to our show on your favorite podcast listening app, or if you haven’t rated us, please do so. It helps other listeners find the show. For folks in the Twin Cities, you can listen to all of season 1 on Saturday mornings at 7am on AM950, the Progressive Radio station of Minnesota.

And in the meantime, stay tuned to this space every Tuesday for new episodes of This Queer Book Saved My Life!, 7 Minutes in Book Heaven, or our cross over episodes. And next week is a new episode of 7 Minutes in Book Heaven with author Lindsey Freeman talking about her upcoming book Running.

Until then, see you Queers and allies in the bookstores!