#60: Filmmaker Gina Capristo-Gajdosik shares the power of coming out and living authentically [Podcast] - Jenn T. Grace—Book Publisher, Speaker, and Author Skip to the content

#60: Filmmaker Gina Capristo-Gajdosik shares the power of coming out and living authentically [Podcast]

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AUDIO TITLE:  Episode #60 – The Power of Coming Out

Jenn T Grace:

You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, episode 60.

Intro:

Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about the $790 billion lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share and impact your bottom line. And now your host – she’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T. Grace.

Jenn T Grace:

Well hello and welcome to episode number sixty of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today I have a really awesome interview for you. In last week’s- or I guess the last podcast this month, episode number 59, I as you may recall was having some sort of technological problems with my podcast, and I have since been able to resolve them, so I’m really excited about that. But I did promise you a brand new interview, a brand new episode. And I am very pleased that I can actually deliver on that promise. Because when I promise something and I can’t deliver on it, it just destroys me even if it’s something as simple as a new podcast for you. So I’m quite pleased today to share with you this new episode.

So a couple of things that I want to mention before I really kind of dive into who I’m speaking with today, is in the last podcast I mentioned that I have a new webinar, so I want to talk about that briefly again if you don’t mind, because I’m super excited about this new webinar called Sales and Marketing Strategies for Reaching LGBT Customers. And the primary objective of the webinar is to help you find, market and sell to the LGBT community in as few steps as possible. So this webinar is just under an hour or so, it’s available on my website, you can go and find a date that makes sense for you to come and attend the webinar. And you’ll just learn a whole bunch of stuff as it relates to really thinking about how you’re going to market your product, service, business, et cetera to the LGBT community. You know it covers things like how to target, what LGBT clients are going to be right for your business, and how- it’ll give you some tips and tricks around how to make sure that you’re not treating your LGBT marketing efforts as one big mass marketing approach, and identifying things like what pain points are specific to your LGBT clients that may not be pain points for other clients of yours. So that’s really kind of the short and dirty of the new webinar, so again you could head over to www.JennTGrace.com/webinars and you can totally check that out there.

The other thing that I wanted to mention is I have not mentioned my running endeavors recently; and to be honest I don’t even know if I told you that I was running a half marathon in May. So this episode is airing on May 28th, if you’re listening to this live, the day it comes out. But I actually ran a half marathon earlier this month in the first weekend in May. And I beat my previous time by fifteen minutes, so I’m super excited about that. And the reason I am telling you this again is because you- if you are a long time listener of this podcast you’ll know all of the trials and tribulations if you will of my starting from not knowing what I was doing at all, all the way up to running my first half marathon last November. You may recall from following that journey with me is that the last half I ran was in Orlando, Florida in November and it was pouring rain. It was a treacherous event. So fortunately I was able to run through Providence, Rhode Island, it was an absolutely beautiful, gorgeous, sunny day to run thirteen miles through the city in areas that I’ve never been in before. And I ended up beating my time by a whole fifteen minutes, which actually isn’t too surprising considering it was a beautiful, gorgeous day versus torrential downpouring. So I wanted to share that with you because I know I get emails from some of you asking how the running endeavors are going, and I really didn’t feel like I was adequately trained for this half, so I honestly can’t even remember if I mentioned it on the podcast before. For some reason I don’t think I did, so surprise! Here it is, and it’s already done.

So yeah, so that was another thing that I wanted to mention because I know there are a lot of you who are actually really interested in that. And are telling me about your running or other athletic endeavors, which is pretty awesome because I think being really healthy has a big impact on business. That’s just me personally.

So that is the second thing I wanted to talk about, and now the third thing I wanted to talk about is just briefly about the fact that I am taking on new clients, and I kind of mentioned this sometimes- sometimes I don’t, it’s kind of hit or miss with what I kind of talk to you about at the top of the episode. But I want to just talk to you if you are an LGBT author or a speaker or somebody who’s in some kind of creative field. Please feel free to head over to my website because I have a new page on there that kind of talks to some of the problems that I see authors, speakers, people who are filmmakers, someone who has a documentary, somebody who’s in a creative space who’s trying to get the message out there about themselves, and personally branding themselves or their product or service or anything like that. I’ve had a really big uptick in the amount of people approaching me about helping them in this regard. Whether it’s helping them get more speaking engagements, or if it’s helping them write that book that they’ve always wanted to write but they just  don’t really know really where to start with doing it.

So if that speaks to you and that resonates with you, please just feel free to reach out to me. You can send me an email, all of my contact information’s on the website, you could shoot me a tweet, go on Facebook; however is most convenient for you, feel free to reach out to me that way.

So I did want to mention that specifically because today, now we’ll get into today’s interview. So today’s interview is with a client of mine who is a filmmaker. And this podcast is so moving in so many ways; this interview today is really, really moving. I have done- this is episode number sixty, but I’ve also done an additional thirty other interviews that were part of the Thirty Days, Thirty Voices podcast series that came out in June of 2013, and while it did come out two years ago now, I am replaying all of those episodes again this June because there’s still tons of information in those episodes that you may have never listened to, and is completely relevant even two years later. Because a lot of the strategies around the LGBT community are evergreen strategies if you want to call them that, where it’s just kind of something that will- I don’t want to say will ‘always work’ but has a more likelihood of working. It’s not like trying to keep up with technology which changes day to day. So you can certainly check out that series of podcasts which will be coming available as of Monday, June 1st, so you’ll have thirty interviews that are- yeah, they’re two years old, however I guarantee something in there is going to be really valuable to you.

So in episode number twelve of the podcast, I did a- kind of a brief overview of what was to come in the Thirty Days, Thirty Voices project. So if you’re interested in knowing a little bit more about what could be expected from that project, you can just listen to that one. I think it’s like a seven minute episode, and it will help you decide whether or not it makes sense for you to listen in on some of those interviews.

Okay so back to what I was saying originally, is that we are in episode number sixty. So I’ve really done ninety podcast episodes to date. And in this amount of time that I have talked with- not all of them have been interviews, but a lot of them have, so I would say probably at least fifty, maybe sixty of them have been actual interviews. I don’t think I’ve ever had an interview where there’s this much emotion around the guest that I’m speaking to. So today I’m talking with Gina Capristo-Gajdosik. She is a filmmaker and she has a film that she’s going to be talking about in today’s podcast episode called, ‘Make Me Blush’ which is in large part a story about her own personal journey, and her coming out journey. And I wanted to have her on the air because filmmakers are just as much a business as any other business owner. And it’s really interesting to me to see the different ways businesses operate and the kind of struggles that different types of industries come up against, and all of that kind of stuff. But in today’s interview it really is just so much more than what kind of defines being a filmmaker, it’s more than just sharing a simple coming out story which I do ask a lot of my guests. It was a very raw and emotional interview, and she really was able to share her story in a way that she’s never actually shared her story before. So I am really excited about today’s interview, and I hope that you are as well. And I hope that by the end of this you’re as excited about her upcoming film as I am, and you follow her on Facebook, Tumblr, all the different places that she’s at.

But I really think that today’s interview is going to be really enlightening for those of you who are listening who are an ally to this community. It really kind of gets into the heart of the matter of what it means to be an ally, and how allies can really be of great benefit and value to someone that’s part of the LGBT community.

So enough rambling, I’m just going to dive right into the interview with Gina because I think you’re going to absolutely love it. So let me know what you think, leave a comment on the blog, leave a comment on social media, whatever’s easiest for you but I would love to hear your thoughts on today’s episode. Thanks so much, and here’s Gina.

So I would just like to start by asking you to tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and basically what your story is, and kind of what your path looked like that led you to where you are in the present day.

Gina:

So a roundabout way I think I became a writer, but I’ve always- you know they always say that you’re always a writer. So I think I was somebody- a kid who was the youngest child of three siblings, and they’re much older than me, so ten years older than me. And so I was home a lot alone. So I was sort of like an only child I guess you could say at that point. And I did a lot of TV watching. I was active but I still really enjoyed watching television and movies, and I was a huge Disney fan. And I think that that was my early education in filmmaking, and in writing because you get to sort of intuitively know how to do a story. So you know beginning, middle, and end. I know it sounds really simplistic, but it sort of is. So anyway, I got into it really later in life because I really thought I wanted to become a music person, I was like really into music, I played the guitar when I was younger, and I was a DJ in college in the eighties. And- which was a really great time to be a DJ in college in the eighties. I was in University of New Haven and New Haven had a huge music scene being that the drinking age was eighteen back then, which I believe really helped the music scene and fueled the punk rock revolution because kids were able to get on that scene and go to clubs which can’t really happen now, which is pretty sad. So I was really involved and I was a club DJ as well as on air, and I met a lot of people coming through; Johnny Rotten to Lene Lovich to U2. And I really did think that I wanted to be in the music business. And as it turned out, instead of being in the music business, I’m writing musical movies- or music-intensive movies. So I get to kind of do both.

Jenn T Grace:

So it’s basically combining two of your passions.

Gina:

It definitely is. And it took me awhile to get there, but I feel like this is sort of the best of both worlds for me. I had no idea that I was a writer. I remember I went to the University of New Haven for- I have a Communications degree, and there was very little writing in that degree. But I do remember this one- I think it was I wrote a review about ‘Cheers’ the TV show. And I remember really loving doing that. And- but then that was like the end of my writing. I really- you know other than term papers or things like that, I really didn’t get into it at all, but I do remember now really loving that and the feeling of having people read it. So it wasn’t until much later in life when I was probably- I was definitely in my mid-thirties my daughter was young and I was working in marketing for a radio marketing and promotions company in Hamden. And I just decided that I wanted to stay home with her and do something different. I had this like incredible longing to read because I really didn’t do that very much in college either, and I went back and I read all of the classics, I just went to the library constantly. I remember thinking I was going to go back to college and then I went and I just went to a college bookstore and I started looking at the books and I was like, “I already read all this stuff. Why do I want to go back?” So I just taught myself. Then I started volunteering to work on some independent films and I was living in Southington at the time, and I volunteered as a Locations Manager and I got into doing locations for independent films.

Jenn T Grace:

So now how did that actually happen? That seems like a somewhat natural leap to go from writing, but then- so how did that, I guess volunteer opportunity come up? And how did that happen?

Gina:

Yeah. Interesting, I remember specifically what happened. I was in getting my hair cut in this salon in Southington, and there was a local newspaper from that area there and I was reading it, and it had an article in there about a young filmmaker from Southington, CT and who was doing his first film and he was looking for volunteers. And I ripped it out and when I went home I called him, and we had a meeting, and he was like, “Um, okay. You don’t have any experience, but you can help me find locations.” And maybe about two weeks after that he was like, “Okay, you’re my Locations Manager.” So- and I really enjoyed doing it, we shot some scenes at my house actually, I really got into that production and met a lot of really great people and that sort of really made me realize this was what I wanted to do, and I just continued- actually what happens when you’re Locations is you have a lot of down time. One of my jobs when we were shooting in the woods in Southington, CT was to sit and watch the parking lot in case the teamsters came. So I had hours and hours to fill, and that’s when I really just said, “I think I’m going to write a screenplay,” and I started writing something that eventually became my short film, ‘Loved Alone.’

Jenn T Grace:

Wow, it does seem very organic the way you’re describing it, even though it does seem a little bit kind of haphazard at the same time.

Gina:

Yeah, it seems that way but I think it’s all pre-ordained, I really do. It just comes together the way that it’s supposed to and I learned a lot on my first film as well because I produced it as well as being the writer and I- because I didn’t go to film school, I wanted to do a film that was very challenging. So I wanted to get every ounce of experience out of that, that I could. So I wrote a film that was shot- it was supposed to be shot a location is Edinburgh, Scotland which I was for some reason enamored with. And I shot it there in 2002 with Kate Winslet’s youngest sister starring in it, and this really great team of professionals that I had absolutely no connection to before I met them and decided that they were my people. And it all came out really great, and it was a really great experience. I shot on film on purpose, mostly because at that time film was fading away and everyone was shooting on video and the people that I was working with were really excited about shooting on 35 millimeter. So I went for it, and I’m really glad that I did because I got to learn that whole process; you know how to cut the film, and do the transfer, and all that stuff which is something that I never got to do because I didn’t go to film school, so that was my film school.

Jenn T Grace:

So my question is does film school prepare you for all of those things? So you’re kind of describing this whole process of basically going from writing the script to actually the full production of it. So does film school teach you all of the production aspects only, but not necessarily the writing? Or like- and I guess my bigger question is did you get more out of just doing that one thing for yourself that you did the entire process than you would have if you actually went to a traditional film school?

Gina:

Probably, and in a very consolidated amount of time. It probably cost me as much, but I think what you do get out of going to film school is you know, the connections that you make and the people that you continue on with in the industry which I had to really find the hard way. So I don’t think that one is necessarily better than the other, just for me I was older and to go to film school at almost forty years old seemed kind of silly. So that was just the way that I decided to do it, and I’m really glad that I did.

Jenn T Grace:

So I think what it seems like is that there’s a lot of times where people are saying that they went to college and got an MBA for example. And then there’s the people who’ve actually had three businesses succeed and then fail. I feel like a lot of times it really is that in the trenches experience that makes you far more in tune with what you’re doing. And I feel like that’s probably the case with you, because that you said was your first film. So you’ve had more after that. So why don’t you I guess tell us a little bit more about maybe- I guess one question is during that process did you have any particular ‘ah-ha’ kind of moment where you just were- it confirmed your belief that you were doing what you were supposed to be doing?

Gina:

I think yeah. I mean the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moment is just feeling like you’re so happy you could burst. It just felt right, you know? And I just felt very much at home in that space. I don’t- to be honest with you, I don’t love the long hours of production, and it’s really exhausting, really long days, it’s very intense. But that’s just a necessary evil, and there is an organic process to it which again, there’s this saying that you make your movie through time. So you make it when you write it, and then you make it when you shoot it, and then you make it when you edit it. And so you do really need to be very present when you’re shooting as the writer. So basically there was this- just to give you an example, we were shooting on the coast, and we have- believe it or not we tried to make a surfing movie in Scotland which didn’t necessarily turn out that way because we were shooting this beautiful location, Pease Bay, and which I had researched before that there was a surfing community there and that the waves were good. But the day that we shot there, there were no waves.

Jenn T Grace:

Of course.

Gina:

So we had all these surfers out there and for nothing. But it was my inexperience about being both the producer and the writer on set that really messed me up, because I should have just rewritten the scene instead of, “Oh what are we going to do,” like let’s- you know whatever. I didn’t- I wasn’t present because I didn’t know enough. And so that was like one of the hardest lessons I think that I learned on set, was that I couldn’t just be there as the producer I had to also be there as the writer.

Jenn T Grace:

Interesting. And how often does it happen that somebody is managing both of those roles in I guess independent film?

Gina:

Not often.

Jenn T Grace:

Okay, so it is a rarity.

Gina:

That’s pretty difficult to do. I won’t be doing that- well I will be doing that but I’ll have other- I’ll have help as well. So you know, that’s the key. But that was kind of a hard lesson to learn because we have a whole lot of footage of nothing. And when you’re shooting on film, that’s really expensive.

Jenn T Grace:

I’m sure, I’m sure. Well at least you can laugh about it now, and you learned a lesson from it.

Gina:

Mm hmm.

Jenn T Grace:

So one of my questions I like to ask is around just like inspiration and motivation because especially when you’re talking about the long hours. Like there’s plenty of careers that have long hours and at least with filmmaking it seems like there’s a beginning and an end, not to be- I guess no pun intended in terms of like your story telling. But at least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel once you’re done in production. So what inspires you, or just keeps you motivated when you have times where you’re staring at a parking lot waiting for teamsters to show up?

Gina:

I think it’s the comradery of the process. It’s like a party every day. Like I hate to say it that way because I don’t want it to seem like you’re not doing serious work, but there’s so much downtime that you have so much time to fool around, and really get to know the people that you’re working with, and they become like family. We’re using- I’m using the same director for my new feature, ‘Make Me Blush’ that I used on my short, ‘Loved Alone.’ And there’s no secret as to why that is, it’s just because we know how- we know each other’s temperment, we know how each other works, the work ethic, and just the plain personality of the person which you want to spend a lot of time with. And that’s what makes it really joyous, you know, when you can work with people that you really get a kick out of, or that you really respect and love, and you can joke around with. It really just makes it just much more pleasurable.

Jenn T Grace:

Oh, I’m sure. I’m sure. So you talked a little bit about your short, so can you share with the listeners a little bit more about the other projects that you have worked on, and that you’re currently working on, and then we’re going to get into your actual- your feature film. So that’ll be like the pinnacle of today’s interview, is talking about that because that is just in process right now. But I would love for the listeners to kind of have just a little more of a sense of the types of things that you’re working on, and I know that there is an LGBT focus to some of those, and if you could just share a little bit about that, I think they would really enjoy that.

Gina:

Of course. So I have been writing a television project for a couple years now. It’s been in different stages of you know, working on it, not working on it, abandoning it, picking it up again, and just recently did a re-write on that, it’s called, ‘The Rise and Fall of Lisa Fox.’ And Lisa Fox is a young pop star, and it’s about her journey in her career along with her personal assistant who is Abby, who is a little older than her and comes from a rock and roll family. So it’s really a story about- kind of like a female ‘Entourage’ if you remember that show which is now going to be coming out as a movie. It’s basically about a family- actually two families, and this star who is trying to navigate her way through the music business, but also dealing with her family. And both of their families are really screwed up. So it’s very ripe for some really good story lines. And you know, I recently met an investor that’s interested in that so now it’s picking up speed again and we’re trying to develop it further. And I’m also working on some projects that are very much in their infancy, and I can’t really talk about them yet, but they’re all female driven story lines, they’re very empowering pieces, and mostly in the writing stage at this point other than my feature, ‘Make Me Blush’ which is in development, but really going forward with financing.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah you are certainly busy, and I know that us working together I’m learning a ton about your industry and all of the nuances in it, because it’s- there are so many different stages of everything it seems, so it’s exciting to see the stuff that you’re working on and I really want to- a lot of times in the beginning of when I’m talking to somebody I will say, “What’s your best coming out story?” You know if that has something to do with family, friends, work, et cetera. But I want to ask you that question now because that will lead beautifully into talking a little bit about your feature coming up. So why don’t you I guess share your coming out story in as much or as little detail as you feel comfortable.

Gina:

Sure. So just so you know, this is the first time that I’m actually publicly talking about it, especially on whatever media you’re going to be pushing this out on.

Jenn T Grace:

iTunes.

Gina:

So it’s a little interesting for me. But so basically I was in my late thirties when I met someone by chance online- actually due to my movie ‘Loved Alone,’ I was doing research- I don’t know if people- it’s hard for people to remember back then. But we’re talk about like 2000- 1999, 2000, 2001 when the Internet was like the new thing. You know what I mean, it was like- it was just this miraculous thing, and I was so enamored with it that it allowed me to do research without having to go to the library. I mean it sounds crazy, but like it’s really true. Like that is what it was like. And so I was researching Beth Winslet, Kate Winslet’s youngest sister, for the lead role in ‘Loved Alone,’ my short. And I didn’t really know much about her, I had seen her in something- some television movie Trudie Styler who is Sting’s wife. And I was really intrigued by her, I read something online, also I think an interview that she had done with someone. So I was trying to find information, and I came across like all these Kate Winslet sites because she was really big because of ‘Titanic’ at the time. And I met someone by chance that I really clicked with who at first when I was conversing, texting, I thought she was like twelve because she is Swedish, and so the English was not exactly there, the grammar and stuff. And we developed a friendship online and then it became like really intense, and it was an intense friendship, it wasn’t a romance or anything like that until we decided to go away together and we went to London and we met there, and I started feeling like really uncomfortable. I mean in this really weird voyeuristic way. I mean it was just so- I still to this day do not understand like what I was thinking in my head, you know what I mean? Maybe you’ve had that situation, like where you just are not aware of yourself. It’s like you’re in this like weird voyeuristic place and you’re not in the world.

Jenn T Grace:

It’s like you’re living inside but not inside your own body.

Gina:

Exactly, exactly.

Jenn T Grace:

You’re like watching yourself.

Gina:

You’re watching- it’s so weird. It’s such a weird experience, and it’s all in my feature. But I guess the whole point was that you know music sounded better, and the world looked better, it was just like this weirdest feeling. And I got drunk a lot on that weekend because I was so uncomfortable. And I had a habit of doing that a lot. So- not that I’m an alcoholic but I did abuse alcohol really badly before I came out. Which a lot of- it’s very common. It’s just a way to kind of close things down.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, and cope.

Gina:

And cope, yeah. So long story short, came home and things got considerably closer for me, and worse, and then I started to miss her a lot and I was like, “Why am I crying over a teenager?” You know, like it was just so weird. And then I realized you know, and then that was like the beginning of my bottom. The bottom fell out. And it’s kind of crazy but it was like the best time of my life but like the worst time of my life at the same time. And it got really bad, I was really sick for about three years. I probably don’t want to go any further because I’m starting to tear up already. But I did write- recently wrote an article that I’m going to be releasing that pretty much explains it a little bit more. But it all became ‘Make Me Blush,’ and so there’s this interesting element of this older woman who is enamored with this younger woman, and not really sure why. And then realizes that her marriage is falling apart because she’s in love with another woman. And it- there’s a lot of twists and turns and everything in there, but it’s a very interesting film because it portrays something that I don’t think we see very often. We see it a lot with men and younger women, but we don’t normally see it with older women and younger women. Which is harder than anything else I’ve ever experienced. It’s an interesting dynamic and I think audiences will really relate to it because it’s a human experience to you know, really love someone and not have that be very appropriate. But and never the less, it’s an interesting way that I’ve decided to portray it and basically what it is, is this woman’s new death experience. So like myself, she considers suicide because she cannot stand the pain that she’s in. And instead of that killing her, it allows her to see her life in a different way. And so it takes place in three parts, so it’s sort of like a before, middle and after, and it’s sort of a progression of her making up her mind to go on with her life in a different way.

Jenn T Grace:

And now the main character, as is basically modeling your journey in a lot of ways. So if we’re looking at the- I guess LGBT landscape, or lack thereof in terms of film and feature length films, this seems like it’s touching upon something entirely different because of your earlier point of how it’s sometimes it will be shown with men, but not often shown between two women. So what is the- you know like what is the big- I don’t want to say ‘big takeaway,’ but for someone listening to this who might be part of the LGBT community, maybe they’re questioning right now, or maybe they’re just an ally to the community. You know what is that good solid reason why this film would be eye-opening for them do you think?

Gina:

I think that people misunderstand the pain that is involved with realizing- not just that you are different than everyone else which is a very big part of my character’s journey. She’s extremely judgmental and we see her change in that way as well. All of a sudden she’s not who she thought she was, which was a person of privilege in a way, because she’s white, she has money, and she’s married to this incredibly talented, handsome guy. So right off the bat she realizes that she’s just like everyone else. And then the tables are turned. So I think that that is one of the biggest take-aways from the movie, is a spiritual one. And that’s also not seen very often in this kind of a movie. So even though the movie is sexy, and it’s exciting, there’s a lot of action in it as well, and there’s a big musical component; it’s really- at its heart it’s really a spiritual movie. It’s a movie that touches you in a way that puts you in someone else’s shoes that you might normally not be in. And that’s why I wrote it.

Jenn T Grace:

Do you think it’s common- and this is just your own either personal conversations you’ve had with others, but do you think it’s common for people to kind of go through that evolution of being- I don’t know how to phrase it, because I feel I went through the stage myself. I came out when I was nineteen, but I remember shortly before then I was- I don’t want to say I was homophobic but I was just filled with anger and didn’t really- and this was before I even knew. Like I had a light bulb moment one day. It was completely out of the blue, and then all of a sudden my entire life came into focus like, “Oh shit, I can’t believe what I didn’t see before.” Like it was just so-

Gina:

Absolutely.

Jenn T Grace:

So strange. But I remember before that, that I was very- I was never a miserable person in general, but I was just filled with like hate and homophobia I guess is the only way to say it. So do you think that that’s pretty common? Because I know that we share that similarity in terms of our coming out processes? I just wonder if that’s the case for others as well.

Gina:

I don’t know. I think that it’s a problem for- actually I do know. I think it’s a problem for everyone. I think everyone does that, but just in a different way. So you know there could be white privilege, there could be- there could also be you know, a wealthy privilege. And I think the whole idea is that we become identified with who we are by what people tell us, you know, who we are. And not necessarily- that’s not necessarily who we are. So you know we’re mirroring what our parents tell us is who we are, or who the world tells us who we are. But not who we are, not who we think we are. And so it’s a very big question for everybody, and most people don’t ever question it. Like that’s the difference between you and I and Mel in my movie, and a lot of the rest of the world. You know most people in- I shouldn’t say ‘most people’ but many people in other countries never even consider a question like this. Never.

Jenn T Grace:

Yup.

Gina:

Like you’re a Muslim, you’re this, you’re that, or whatever you are. So I think it’s rare for someone to be able to reconstruct their life later on in life and say, “No, you know that’s not really me. This is really who I am.” And how sad it is that most of the people that I know don’t even know that.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah. And I think it’s interesting and I’m sure there are so many more dynamics in terms of just the coming out process. So I think if you’re looking at teens now; like teens are coming out in droves at this point. And I know for me, I know of a couple of other people that I went to high school with that have now come out. But you know in the I guess mid-nineties, that was not the case. Or mid to late-nineties that wasn’t the case. And I know it wasn’t the case for you either. So I think that there’s a whole other element of that coming out process when the later and later in life it becomes before you actually come out. Because it’s like you- and I know that you have a daughter, and you were married, and that was a whole other- like this is your life, this is what people see of you, and now you’re kind of turning everyone’s perception of who you are completely on its head.

Gina:

Yeah, and it’s really scary to do because then it’s like people make an even bigger judgment and then assume that you are completely different from the person that you were. You know what I mean? It’s like no, that’s not really true at all. It’s just that I’m aware of it now, and by the way I am still married. We stayed together to raise our child together. It’s been an interesting journey in that way and I think things are definitely changing for us, but it’s just been- we’re best friends, you know? And we love each other so much, and we really wanted to raise our daughter together. So- but we’re supportive of each other’s journeys, even though those journeys may take us farther apart, or in different directions, we’re still supportive of that. And that’s really, really difficult to do. I remember my husband actually taking care of me when I was so ill over, you know, my coming out process in the beginning. I mean three years of literally taking over, helping me with my daughter and-

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah.

Gina:

I’ll never forget this one time that I really wanted to go to the hospital, I was so, so bad. And he- it was a Friday, like late Friday afternoon. He’s like, “You don’t want to be in the hospital over the weekend without your family.” And he just put me to bed and I mean I don’t know very many people who could say that they’re with somebody like that.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, I think you definitely have more of a rare situation.

Gina:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

And it’s good for you because it just makes this process as painful obviously as it has been in the past, and will continue to be on some level because the coming out process never ends. And now that you are in this stage you’re in right now with your film, clearly you’re going to have to be telling the story probably far more often, and I think that the more people who hear it, the better it is for- I think well-meaning allies in particular to really just understand like how painful the coming out process can be, and how simple that their actions or their words can have some kind of triggering effect on like your emotional well-being. So I think it’s really positive that you’re being so open and vulnerable with the listeners.

Gina:

Yeah, I think that it’s really important. And it’s hard, but it’s so important for us to do that because you know I’m the same person that I was before I came out. I mean I’m the same person, I’m just a better version of that person because I’m seeing that we’re all alike. Like we’re all made in the same image, we’re all broken in some way, we’re all beautiful in some way. There’s nothing really that separates us, it’s just an illusion. It’s really an illusion. And so again, like what happens to my character is the same thing that what happened to me is that your life takes on a more spiritual nature. And it happens in an instant because you’re realized the reality of things, is that we are all one. We’re all the same person here having a different experience. I kind of always say it this like, like I was living in the suburbs in Southington and I had a great husband and beautiful daughter and friends, and all of this stuff, and then one day I was on the other side of the fence. Like literally woke up and went, “Oh. I’m not really that person.”

Jenn T Grace:

Yup.

Gina:

You know I mean I am that person but that person doesn’t even really exist.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah. And at some point during this process, you had to have decided that sharing your story was worth more than any pain you’d have to suffer to be sharing that story. So going through this process of writing your screenplay and now the production process, and then the post-production, and all of the stuff that comes with it. What- like what do you think it was that made you decide, “You know what, I am going to really, really go all out or go all in and share my story with the widest audience I possibly can. Even though at times I’m sure there’s still pains of hurt here and there.”

Gina:

That’s a really, really good question. I still struggle with it to be honest with you. I don’t know really why I wanted to do it so badly, but if I hadn’t it really wouldn’t be where it is right now. I mean we’re talking of a ten year journey here and- or more than that actually. And there have been some really bad times with this movie. We were almost going to camera in 2008 and we lost our funding. I was in the weeds for like two years after that. Whatever- what made me get back up again- I don’t really know. You know? I guess it’s just like I’m really stubborn. I just think I really think that’s what it is, I’m really, really stubborn. And I knew that if I stop then I definitely wasn’t going to get the film made. And you know you have to take care of yourself, I think that’s one of the things that I’ve learned is that when you’re doing something this big, you have to take time for yourself. It’s really hard for me to do because I’m very focused, but from time-to-time I just have to take a break.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, it’s good for mental clarity to just kind of take a step back and acknowledge the distance in which you’ve come, and then of course the distance you still have to go.

Gina:

Yeah. Always what spurs me on is the spiritual part. I mean that’s just what carries me is to say really want to show people where it really feels like to be ostracized by other people, and how silly it is. And just that you know, it’s so misunderstood sometimes that the feelings are exactly the same as between a man and a woman; they’re exactly the same. And they are innate. It’s not like anything is happening that’s mysterious, you know?

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah.

Gina:

So yeah. I mean it goes- it fluctuates, let’s put it that way. As anything that’s a long journey will do, is like you’re going to be wary at times, and you’re going to be excited at times, and those exciting times are what spurs you to keep going forward.

Jenn T Grace:

And I think that there’s a lot of- there’s a lot of information out there and a lot of- whether it’s people on YouTube or bloggers, or whomever it happens to be, who are aiming messages toward young people coming out, so teenagers and obviously being ostracized as a teenager is so brutal because you are trapped in your high school or your middle school, or even elementary school at this point with peers that you have nothing in common with other than the fact that you happen to live in the same town or the same area of the town. So I feel like there’s not a lot out there in terms of the feeling of being isolated or ostracized as you’re coming out when you’re older. So even I would say early thirties and up, I feel like that coming out process is entirely different. So I feel like to some degree, the film does speak to that whole component of things as well.

Gina:

Yeah, and then there’s that whole going back in your life through your mind of all those times that you did things like drink yourself silly and feel uncomfortable, and then you realized what it was. Where when you’re living it, you’re not- you don’t really understand why you’re doing these things.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah I was going to say it’s that expression that you don’t know enough to know what you don’t know. It’s exactly that. Like you have no idea, and then for me it really truly was a light bulb moment. Like it just one day hit me and I was like, “Oh my God. I cannot believe that that was it.” Like my entire life made sense in one instant which is just so crazy. And I only know a couple of people who have that similar type of coming out story. Like my wife for example knew when she was like in elementary school, and it was just something- I think she said she was like six. And it’s like, “Oh wow, it really just hit me one day,” and then when I looked back at my entire like I’m like, “Oh, everything now just makes-” but it is a matter of putting into perspective like those times where you were ostracized for one reason or another. And it’s like, “Oh, yeah I can actually- I can process my feelings now because I understand them better.”

Gina:

Right, right. And I think again, we don’t go into that in this film, but there is an element of that as well in the film. I mean I feel like people- all of a sudden you see people in a different light, and they see you in a different light, and that is really apparent in the film with like the main character’s best friend who is African American and having trouble understanding how she could not have known that her best friend was like this, or she just can’t accept it. Can’t understand it. And she does- I don’t want to give away anything but I just- you know I felt like that was really important to show because I’ve had that happen to me as well, and I’ve lost friends because of that. And it’s really crazy because it’s like, it’s not your life. Like I don’t understand like why you were having a problem with this. I’m the one that’s going through the agony.

Jenn T Grace:

And you’re the same person, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Gina:

Right. Right, right. But I wanted to show that in here, too because I think that that is something that’s universal with most people who come out to their friends. There are going to be some people who are right by your side in there and will listen to you and help you, and then there are some people that you will never hear from again.

Jenn T Grace:

So I do a lot of educating to the ally audience around just basic communications. Like really just understanding the type of LGBT client that they’re working with, and one of the things that I talk about is- and I actually have my first book titled, ‘But You Don’t Look Gay.’ And that’s because of the fact that people do say that phrase, and I’m sure at some point or another you’ve heard that phrase as well. And I think it kind of comes to that coming out process, right? So it’s people don’t understand like how troublesome the coming out process is. So when an LGBT person finally does come out to you as a straight ally, and you say something diminishing like, “Well you don’t look gay,” then I feel like they don’t understand like to what degree that is actually hurtful to that potential LGBT client. And ultimately I’m trying to help allies communicate more appropriately, but also at the end of the day, be more successful in their businesses. So I guess my question for you is in- especially in the vein here of coming out, do you see anything- like any piece of wisdom or any information of what we’ve just been talking about that might help them be more mindful of what they’re saying or doing when they’re interacting with a potential LGBT customer?

Gina:

Well I always think it’s good to be honest. I mean if it comes from a place of honesty instead of a catch-phrase like, “You don’t look gay,” which by the way, people don’t really tell me, which I don’t know what’s worse. But I think anything that comes from a place of honesty is fine, and you could recognize that, you know? And that’s all that I think it takes. I just think it just takes to be honest about it. And even if it’s honesty like I have a problem with such-and-such. At least there’s a dialogue and it’s not kept inside and comes out in some other not-so-good way, you know what I mean? It’s fine to be honest, I’m having a problem with this. Or I don’t really know how to address someone, or- you know what I mean? I don’t want to ask them about their personal life. Like that’s something that I think in the workplace people feel weird about, or at least they did when I was in the workplace which was awhile ago. So things could have changed now, and I hope they have. But I remember- you know everybody knew that this one person in our company was gay and they never really asked him about what he did on the weekend and like it was just- you know it was like never talked about that he actually had a partner and like a personal life and nobody cared.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah.

Gina:

Or nobody cared to ask because they felt uncomfortable. So that’s- you know thank goodness all of that is over and that’s not-

Jenn T Grace:

To some degree.

Gina:

Pardon?

Jenn T Grace:

To some degree.

Gina:

To some degree, yeah. I mean let me just say that I think it’s definitely better, I don’t know that it’s over, but it’s better. And that’s the kind of stuff that hurts the most, is not talking about it. It’s like not asking a person like, you know, “What did you do over the weekend?” You know, or whatever. Because you’re embarrassed, or you don’t really want to hear about it because it makes you feel funny.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah.

Gina:

So I guess, you know, I would say that you know, treat everybody the same way and try to understand.

Jenn T Grace:

I think that makes perfect sense, and you really just kind of reiterated a lot of different things that I’ve written about in both of my books. So it’s nice to- when I’m talking to somebody and the listeners get to kind of hear straight from someone else’s mouth; stuff that I’ve kind of been saying but you put it in a completely different light, especially in regards to the subject matter that we’ve been talking about. So I think that it’s really important because it really just does come down to just being honest and being vulnerable to some degree as well.

Gina:

Right, I mean we’re not expecting everyone to know exactly how we feel, but they don’t realize that they do. They do know- understand exactly how we feel because we’re human beings and we feel the same way.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah.

Gina:

You know that’s the thing that’s really interesting about the whole process is that we’re finally- when we come out, we’re finally feeling what other people feel. And when we’re in the closet, we’re not feeling like other people and we’re making ourselves different because we’re not feeling those feelings.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, it’s interesting when you put it that way. And it’s hard, I think, to explain to people that it really is no different. Like I have had so many conversations in talking about like my family. Like my wife and I have two kids, and there honest to God is not a single thing different about the way our family is than any other family. And it’s really hard to get that message across because it just- you know people think, “Oh it’s a same sex couple so somehow that’s different,” and it could not be any further from the truth. But it’s really hard to kind of describe to somebody.

Gina:

I know. And I guess we shouldn’t really have to.

Jenn T Grace:

Agreed.

Gina:

I think that something- again now that’s something where I think I wouldn’t go there, and I would just say, you know, I just wouldn’t- I wouldn’t go there. Because I feel like that’s something that is ridiculous to even talk about. Because yeah, it’s like you’re raising a family.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah. Yeah.

Gina:

So what’s- everybody knows what that’s about.

Jenn T Grace:

It’s no different. And I think that at least- and I try to educate my audience around this type of stuff too, is that for me, I have these conversations, and I jump straight into the fire when it comes to any type of question that somebody asks me, because it’s my role. You know if somebody is going to dub themself the Professional Lesbian then it’s somewhat my job to make sure that I’m educating at every opportunity I can, but you know sometimes it’s just tiring, and it’s exhausting to have these conversations. But ultimately if I can at least try to explain it to the one person who’s brave enough to ask the question, then I can use that as an opportunity to educate a lot of other people at the same time; so that’s kind of how I- how I like to approach it at least. So at least for you, you can just shut down that question, you can just say, “Listen I’m not even talking about this,” and not engage. And I think it’s important for the listeners to know that that could be the response from someone, and that is a perfectly acceptable response because to some degree, asking these types of personal questions depending on the situation, is not really relevant anyway.

Gina:

Right. I had this one experience I want to share with you. It was right after- you know I was in the midst of coming out, and I had a friend that it was Christmas time and we had a family photo taken at Christmas, it was something that we did all the time. And I went to visit a friend of mine who I really thought was a very spiritual person, and she was- she felt awful that this was happening to me. And I remember her looking at our Christmas photo and saying, “It’s such a nice family, too.” Like in other words, like we weren’t still a nice family.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah.

Gina:

Like you know what I mean? Like it was just so weird, like I was like, “What does that mean?”

Jenn T Grace:

Sucks.

Gina:

I know, yeah. It was just- and it’s little things like that, that I think hurt the most because- and I know it’s hard to understand for some people. But that’s the kind of thing that like we’re still a family, you know? And we’re still a family now. We’re still going to be a family. I just don’t understand how people could say something like that.

Jenn T Grace:

And the thing is, is that sometimes they don’t- and I think most of the time, I obviously don’t know in this particular instance, but most of the time people are not saying it to make someone feel bad. They just don’t realize how much weight their words have, and how sensitive people are to those words.

Gina:

Right. Right, and also just like how that just shows you that they only think of families in one way, which is male and a female, and that there are all kinds of families out there. And a family is a family, and they’re never going to not be a family. I mean even when you divorce, you still have to have a family.

Jenn T Grace:

Yup.

Gina:

And I value family above pretty much everything because I have a really strong one in my siblings and with my parents when they were well and happy and healthy. And so it’s really important to me that that part of it is sort of sacred and remains the same.

Jenn T Grace:

And I think it’s interesting that we could swap out gay families in this situation for interracial families, for example.

Gina:

Absolutely, yup.

Jenn T Grace:

Like it’s the exact type of conversation, and for some reason I think it’s just because my wife and I are just so open to diversity generally speaking, that all of our- all of our friends it seems are in some sort of interracial couple with children who are amazing and it does not matter to us in the least. And there still are a lot of people- and I don’t even know if saying ‘interracial’ is even the right proper terminology now that I’m saying it out loud. But that just proves that you can’t know everything, and know the proper language ever. But I think that it’s one of those things that there are many couples that are coming from two entirely different backgrounds that are facing the same level of discrimination and just because there’s a black woman and a white man in a relationship, that suddenly that makes their relationship lesser than. And it’s so similar in terms of LGBT. And you know at the end of the day a family should be a family, and it should be nobody’s business what that family looks like.

Gina:

Amen.

Jenn T Grace:

Mm hmm. So now that we’ve gotten off our soapbox, let me- let’s try to wrap things up here and I want to have you go back to the film again, because I know that now is a really important time for the film, and I know that- I’m hoping that by people hearing your story and just hearing how- I think how amazing this film is going to be, how they can potentially support the film. So please- you know feel free to just talk about it a little bit more to what degree you feel is necessary. And then if there’s a way that people who are listening to this can support you, please let them know.

Gina:

Okay, so we’re doing a film that has a budget of $8 million, so we’re not really going to be raising money for our production on social media, but it does help to create an audience and to gather our tribe. We may be doing a crowd fund, but right now it’s kind of up in the air as to when. And that will really just be to basically grow our audience, do something- help us do some things that you know, we can do with some funds that we raise. But for the most part we’re going after foreign sales, attaching our cast, and going after equity investors. So- but it really, really helps to show that you have an audience eager to see a film like this. And when I say, “film like this,” I mean an incredible feature film that is going to look like the most amazing thing, have ten original songs that are written specifically for the film, and have it be- it’s incredibly funny; I know that sounds crazy, but it’s funny as well as sad in parts. And there’s a lot of action scenes in it as well. So it takes place in New York City, Brooklyn Bridge is very prominent in the film, and the New York music scene. So I guess like I would say that we’re on Facebook and Twitter, I have a Tumblr, and so MakeMeBlushMovie is our hashtag. And you know so following us and creating a group, a tribe is really what we’re looking to do right now because we are talking to investors and we’re gathering other professionals on board. I’m really excited to say that we just commissioned our first original song; I can’t divulge who it is yet, but it’s someone I’m really excited about and she’s working on her second album, and we snagged her single from the new album.

Jenn T Grace:

Exciting.

Gina:

And she’s going to have a small part in the film as well; hopefully I’ll be able to announce that soon. We also have another prominent producer coming on board who is bringing some other of her former teammates on board as well in different categories, different positions. And so we’re gathering steam.

Jenn T Grace:

You are definitely picking up momentum these days.

Gina:

Yeah, we’re gathering steam. It’s a long process, and it’s a difficult process when you have to gather some equity and foreign sales, and put your package together, you need the help of a lot of professionals, and those professionals cost money. So that’s why we may be doing some physical fundraisers, and a crowd fund to gather our tribe, and pushing forward for a shoot next year.

Jenn T Grace:

Just super exciting. So for anyone who’s listening and they didn’t catch all of what Gina was just saying, you can go to www.JennTGrace.com/60 and that’s for episode sixty. So all of the links for what she was just talking about will be there. But do you want to give the URL of the website of the film?

Gina:

Oh sure, it’s www.MakeMeBlushTheMovie.com.

Jenn T Grace:

Beautiful. So I really hope that everyone has an opportunity to go check it out, and like, and really kind of jump on the bandwagon and join the tribe. And since you and I are both located in Connecticut, I do have a lot of Connecticut listeners. So for those of you in Connecticut who are listening to this, I am really hoping that there is an in-person fundraising type of event, and even not even for the fundraiser aspect, but just to kind of learn more about the film, and the industry, and kind of that LGBT component. So I’m hoping for those of you local that there’ll be something for you to kind of join and experience, because I think it’s going to be awesome.

Gina:

Thank you so much for your support, I really appreciate it, and you know we are inching along and it’s getting exciting. I’m losing my voice I think, so I guess we should end it.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s the universe’s cue for both of us to shut up.

Gina:

Right.

Jenn T Grace:

Excellent. Well thank you so much for talking to us today, I think this is going to be one of the- one of a better episodes I’ve had in a really long time. I think it was really heartfelt and will be really good for the listeners to hear.

Gina:

Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

Jenn T Grace:

No problem, talk to you soon.

Gina:

Okay, thanks Jenn.

Jenn T Grace:

Alright, well I sincerely hope that you enjoyed this episode with Gina. I really enjoyed talking to her and kind of pulling out her story and really just allowing her to share her story in a way that she hasn’t been able to do before. So I really hope that this was eye-opening for you and there were some kind of lessons that were learned. And if that was the case, I would love for you to let me know, and you know hop on social media, hop over to the website, email me, whatever’s easiest for you. But if you want to get the links that we talked about in today’s episode, you could head on over to www.JennTGrace.com/60 and that is for episode number sixty.

Thank you so much, and have a great rest of your day.

About Jenn T. Grace

Jenn T. Grace (she/her/hers) is an award-winning author and founder and CEO of Publish Your Purpose (PYP), the acclaimed hybrid publisher of non-fiction books. Jenn has published 100+ books written by thought leaders, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are striving to make a difference. Jenn T. Grace’s work elevates and amplifies the voices of others—especially marginalized groups who are regularly excluded from traditional publishing.

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