'Shame on You' Podcast Tackles LGBTQ Shame
'Shame On You' is the fastest growing gay podcast in the world. It
received just 200 downloads during its first week (March 2019) but grew to nearly half a million in just six months. To date, 'Shame On You' has been listened to in over 60 countries. The podcast airs new episode every Thursday on all streaming platforms.
'Shame On You; is co-‐hosted by Jordan Power and his best friend Brad Price, who were both taught to feel shame about being gay their whole lives. Then at 32 years old, after a few too many drinks, they had a new thought. Imagine if they were invincible to shame, not just about being gay, but in general. 'Shame On You' is all about sparking a revolt against society’s norms with guests that include ex-boyfriends, gay men, and others plagued by messages of shame.
Everything is on the table in this podcast, including raunchy details from their sex lives, two breakups in real time, and an episode recorded naked with a man the hosts both hooked up with. Jordan and Brad bring unbridled chatter, raw honesty and radical self-‐disclosure.
Past celebrity guests have included international motivational speaker Spencer West (who has opened for Demi Lovato), the first and only out professional hockey player Brock McGillis, and Fan590 host Scott Macarthur, among others.
“This podcast is an antidote to the thousands of messages gay people have received their entire lives that they are unlovable or deficient. There has never been anything wrong with any of us, in the past or now” said co-host Brad Price. “We are so proud of what we have accomplished with 'Shame On You' so far and we are excited to keep going and take it to the next level. Along the way, we hope to continue to inspire others to unapologetically be themselves with zero shame.”
Co-host Jordan Price recently discussed with us how the podcast came about and why it's so important to combat shame in the LGBT community. Some of what he has to say is controversial, so stay tuned!
How did you come up with the concept of 'Shame on You'?
The podcast was catalyzed from two events in my life.
First, I was in an incredibly toxic relationship with a closeted man named Eli that filled me with such anger when it ceased. When the hatred passed I decided to get to work creating a world in which there were less Elis.
Second, it forced me to go on a journey of self-exploration with my best friend Brad. Why were we both settling for crappy men? Were we still shackled by messages that we were unlovable from our youth? Is that why I would continue to fight for a person who bailed on Christmas with my family?
Jordan Power & Brad Price, co-hosts of 'Shame on You'
Eli’s demons were his but staying with him through utter madness were my issues. We both realized we weren’t as comfortable with ourselves as we thought we were.
How do you feel that shame has impacted LGBT people, and why is abandoning shame so important?
It starts the second a baby a born. The family often assumes the baby is heterosexual and starts to push gender roles on them. The boy’s crib wall is blue, and he is going to “break a lot of girls hearts some day.”
Then, the “baby” grows and fails to see itself represented in the world, and we know that you can’t be what you can’t see. Next, you develop an elevated trauma response. Am I safe? Do I fit in? Who is a threat? Mental health issues can then ensue.
With our ancestors, if you weren’t included in the tribe it meant you could be left alone to die and handle the elements on your own. This is deeply ingrained in us and corrosive.
On my end it was reinforced for decades at a time when my brain was wiring. As a gay person, the sooner you can start to change your neuropathways the better. Many LGBT people are made to feel guilty for being who they are. For being sexual. For wanting love.
Abandoning shame empowers us to feel worthy and lessens feeling of unrelenting anxiety.
How did you target shame? Were there techniques you felt were particularly helpful?
The first step is identifying it. You need to be able to discern the difference between a normal reaction and a reaction stemming from decades of negative conditioning. Is that really my boyfriend’s fault or am I modeling some sort of unresolved trauma?
What we’ve done is quite extreme and very ballsy but it’s the ultimate antidote to the messaging out there. We get on a microphone and explore the darkest corners of our sexuality with brutal honesty.
We interviewed one night stands, ex-boyfriends and even ex-girlfriends. We’ve done psychedelics live. We talk about plastic surgery and other taboo subjects you’re supposed to stay silent about but we don’t care. It’s a journey of self-exploration.
We also attack shame with comedy and a level of self-deprecation. Self-deprecation can be helpful as it allows you not to take yourself so seriously, but you have to watch that it doesn’t become this assault on yourself.
The reason our podcast has been successful is because, when we take a mile, it inspires listeners to maybe take a foot in their own life. You have to move your “line” as much as you can.
What are some of the areas of shame specifically related to LGBT identity that most trouble our community?
Some of the sexual judgement lingers pretty hard. Bottoms are still painted as feminine and thus lower on the social hierarchy within the community. I even catch my friends in their 40s still doing it.
Some of our guests have noted that they’re shamed for their race. People will state on their dating profiles that they’re only into a certain type of man. That one is pretty perplexing to me. Perhaps you haven’t dated an Asian man in the past, but how could you possibly know you wouldn’t in the future? It’s very close minded. I think preferences are real but shutting out the possibility of experiences is pretty nuts.
Body shaming is another one, and it’s one we’ve been criticized for on the podcast. I think some of the criticism is warranted. It’s probably from our own issues with our bodies, but it’s also notable that of the 61 countries our podcast is listened to in, we only get that criticism from America.
I stand by my comments. My largest problem with the body positivity movement is that it ignores the fact that you can be beautiful as well as unhealthy. People have become slaves to food just as they have become slaves to alcohol, drugs or other vices. But I do think that’s your own business, unless you are attempting to influence young minds with messages of “self-love” while simultaneously engaging in self destruction like some are. I’m not going to follow the sheep on that one.
It’s also important to note that shame has its place. We call out a lot of toxic behavior in the gay community. It’s not a free for all for people to act in unhealthy ways and then claim they’re being “shamed” for it.
What are some general areas of shame not specific to LGBT people that also get in the way of LGBT people's personal growth?
I think I answered that earlier but it’s important to remember shame lives in secrets. It’s a fear of disconnection from society. Fight it by living as openly as possible in all aspects of your life, not just your sexuality.
One of the biggest messages I try to push is finding a way to build confidence and self-esteem. Self-esteem comes from setting goals and overcoming them. Start slow and grow from there. If you don’t like something about yourself, you only have two options, change it or, if you can’t, change your attitude.
So much of the younger generation want to live a life free from conflict or dissent. That’s not life, and it’s no way to understand others. I like to listen to podcasts that are outside of my comfort zone or from conservative voices. It’s made me a freer thinker. Those people aren’t going away, so you should try to understand them.
Tell us about some of your most impactful moments with guests?
We’ve had hundreds of people come out, exit toxic relationships and go on PREP because of the podcast, which is wildly rewarding.
I like talking to my exes and seeing how I’ve grown or haven’t grown. Different vantage points are key and stepping outside yourself.
One of the most memorable moments was when a priest came out because of the podcast. I read his email six times in disbelief.
How has fan input impacted the direction of the show?
The podcast is very much a group effort. We read emails from fans, have sold out live shows, and seek to bring on guests that are just normal people and not social media influencers.
I try to ask fans what they like and what they don’t, but it tends to get you nowhere because at the end of the day people tune in for different reasons. Some like the empowerment psych talk, some like the comedy, some like a bit of everything.
From a content perspective we just want to keep it well rounded, but I will say we will always prioritize comedy, as that has allowed us to expand our audience to straight men and women which is great. They’re learning empathy and understanding the struggle we’re still up against.
Are there related plans for the future you can share?
We’re going on a four-city tour starting in April after selling out some shows in major cities.
I’m releasing a mini-book on March 31st called Famous Anus, which includes 8 wild stories from my 20s, like sleeping with my boss, accidentally making out with my step brother, trying LSD and more. Writing is what is sacred to me, though I do enjoy the podcast a great deal. If you follow my Instagram @jpowercomedy I’ll have the pre-order link on there.
Do you feel like the community at large is ready for the message? Do you feel some groups or locales resonate with it better and why?
It’s an edgy podcast, and it’s very polarizing, but I think that’s a good thing. When it comes to the entertainment business, you can play it safe but you will become forgettable very quickly. We have a specific type of listener, which is one who isn’t as easily offended as most and who has the maturity to disagree with what we are saying but not go off on a 5 page rant about why we’re awful human beings.
I think when you’re in a marginalized community you can become very sensitive to threats over time. I have started to develop empathy for those people thinking “wow my one joke in 60 hours of audio made them write horrible things about me online. They have some work to do.” I get it but I also don’t. I’ve gone through immeasurable trauma in my life but I usually handle it differently. I laugh at everything and mostly myself. I’m not sure if I’d even be alive if it wasn’t for comedy.
At the end of the day the entertainment business is just about casting a net. Over time you’ll find your base of people and lose others. It takes time. At this point I can tell who won’t like me, and it’s usually someone who can’t handle the truth. I’ll still fight for them and our cause in my own way though. We’re still on the same team.