This Queer Book Saved My Life!
by J.P. Der Boghossian
Introduce yourself.
I have an eclectic background. I'm the host of the podcast This Queer Book Saved My Life! I also founded the Queer Armenian Library which is the world's first library devoted to books, film, and TV by, for, and about Queer Armenians. I'm an emerging writer and a 2022 Lambda Literary fellow. My essays have appeared and forthcoming in a few anthologies. I worked for a decade in broadcast journalism. I currently work in Higher Education. In my current role, I serve as an Associate Vice President of Equity at a community college.
I've worked in Higher Ed for just under a decade. I'm a classically trained Shakespearean actor with a degree from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and two certificates from the British American Drama Academy. I have a Bachelor's degree in Conflict/Peace Studies and a Masters of Public Affairs degree. I split my time between Minneapolis, MN and Northwest Wisconsin. In NW Wisconsin, every summer I have about 15-20 bears regularly visit our backyard. I really want to pet them

"This isn't a podcast that's just about LGBTQ books. It is a podcast about our stories of resilience, of coming out, of gender affirmation, of processing abusive relationships, and of living and loving in this world.

- J.P. Der Boghossian

Share an experience that has shaped who you are today.
I'm an Associate VP of Equity. I do this work at a community college in the Twin Cities, which was ground zero after George Floyd's murder. The work is necessary, but as you can imagine it is draining. Everyday you're looking at the data and the impacts of systems that are not setup to help first-generation students, or students of color, or students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. On top of that is the impacts of systemic racism in public safety and the question of how do we create safe communities where everyone can go to college. The work is necessary, but draining. About a year ago, I was working with my therapist to find something that could refill my cup. What can I do that is "life-giving" as opposed to the work that was draining me. So I began thinking about my interests, clearly books were one of them (having founded the Queer Armenian Library). I wanted to work within my own community, the LGBTQ community. I wanted to try doing things that I had the skill to do, but hadn't done for awhile (i.e. broadcasting). So, the idea of a podcast slowly came into fruition. And then all of the anti-LGBTQ legislation started being passed. The "Don't Say Gay Bills" and the book bans in school libraries really got to me. I grew up in a world without LGBTQ books in my schools and people didn't talk about LGBTQ students or support them. To see this happening again gave my a new sense of urgency. In January of this year, I started putting the plan together for This Queer Book Saved My Life! By March, I had a plan, a website, and social media. By April I was recording episodes. And the podcast premiered in June 2022. I produced a 10-episode first season. And season two premieres on October 4, 2022.
Tell us about your podcast audience.
Our audience is primarily book lovers. They are looking for their next great read. They are not necessarily LGBTQ as there are many allies who want to read these books too. But on the whole they do tend to be LGTBQ readers/listeners. They tune in to each episode to learn about the book and listen to the author interview, but also to hear the stories the guests have to tell about their lives and how this particular book gave them agency to live their life in new and affirming ways. The same goes for what they expect to hear from the authors which is what drove them to write this book and what kept them going through the process. Listeners come back for the different variety of books each week, and for who the author will be, and most importantly our listeners tune in to hear the guest's life story.
What makes your podcast unique?
On This Queer Book Saved My Life! I interview guests from across the LGBTQ rainbow about the queer books that saved their lives. These are the books that gave them the language to come out, or helped them process an abusive relationship, or gave them a road map of how they wanted to live their life, or helped them pivot to begin gender affirmation. As we get to know our guests, I bring in the book’s author for a meaningful conversation about queer life and storytelling. There are a lot (a lot) of book podcasts out there. But as far as I can tell, this one is the only queer book podcast with this format. These aren't books that a guest liked or loved. They are books that had a saving-feature for them in the life. And then to bring in the author of the book adds a whole new dimension because we get insight into the writing of the book, the life of the author as they were writing it, and the choices they made. Then to have the conversation between the guest and the author is something unique and special. We do our best to recruit guests that are representative of the entire LGBTQ community. From there they tell us the books that saved their lives. The books have been memoirs, fiction, and YA novels. Then we book the author to be on the show and record it! We have had A-list authors in our first season and we continue that trend in Season 2. In Season 1 we featured National Book Award finalist Carmen Maria Machado, and Guggeinheim fellow Alison Bechdel whose memoir (Fun Home) won the Tony for Best Musical. We had Jennifer Finney Boylan who was the first transgender author to have a national bestselling book in the U.S. In our second season, authors include 4-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis and Miasha (whose bestselling book Secret Society, Amazon made into a film. The second film came out this year). Our guests have been data scientists, LGBT organizers, retirees, authors, lawyers, and fundraisers. Comedian Tommy Smart has fun conversations with really smart people. He discussions vary from comedy, movies, politics, food, conspiracy theories, and whatever else is on his mind.

Vinnie Potestivo, Editor-in-Chief of
I Have A Podcast®

Vinnie Potestivo,
Editor-in-Chief of I Have A Podcast®

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