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Jenn T. Grace – Episode 87 – How Lindsay Felderman Turned a Pile of Words Into an Inspirational Book
Thank you for tuning in to episode 87 of the podcast! Today’s episode is an incredibly special one to me. I spoke with Lindsay Felderman – who just happens to be the first graduate of my Purpose Drive Authors Academy to publish her book! I am so pleased to have helped her get her story out to the world, I can’t wait for you all to read it!
So I was happy to chat with Lindsay about her journey of writing and publishing her first book. She shared some of the struggles she experienced in her coming out and how she hopes her story, as well as the others in the book, can help LGBT youth who may also be struggling.
I encourage you to not only listen to the podcast but also head over to Amazon and buy her book – ‘Walking Through Walls: Finding the Courage to Be Your True Self’.To join the mailing list to have these podcasts sent to you, click here, that way you’ll never have to remember! One less thing to worry about! 🙂
Links mentioned in today’s episode:
- Walking Through Walls: Finding the Courage to Be Your True Self
- Lindsay Felderman
- Lindsay Instagram
- Lindsay Twitter
Listen to the episode by clicking the play button below!
Would you prefer to read the transcript than listen to the episode? No problem! Read the transcript below.
Jenn T Grace: You are listening to the Personal Branding for the LGBTQ Professional Podcast, episode 87.
Well hello and welcome to episode number 87 of the podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today I have a special interview for you. As you know for the last probably three months or so at this point, and for probably the next three months to come, I have had nonstop interviews. And I’m so excited to be back on the interview kick, and today I have Lindsay Felderman on, and she is the proud new author of the book, ‘Walking through Walls. Finding the Courage to be Your True Self,’ and I cannot be more excited to have Lindsay on because she shares her journey of writing and publishing her very first book.
Her book talks about the coming out process, and a lot of really kind of amazing things in terms of just getting outside of your comfort zone, and really kind of pushing yourself to realize that you have a story to tell, and your story is important, and your story can impact the world. So it’s super exciting to have Lindsay on, and even more so because she is one of the first graduates- or one of seven people who graduated from my spring session of the Purpose Driven Author’s Academy, and she’s the first of those seven to produce her book through the program. So I could not be any more excited as my second group of authors recently started on June 7th. So I’m in the summer session right now with seven new amazing authors.
So it’s really kind of cool to have Lindsay on who talks about her experience of writing the book, a little bit about her experience of publishing the book, and kind of the things that have been a little more of a pain versus things that were a little bit easier. So yeah, it’s just- it was a really good conversation, and the moral of everything in what we talked about is it’s really kind of about finding the courage to just be yourself, whether you are part of the LGBT community or not. So her book is already available on Amazon, which is super exciting, so you can go to Amazon and type in Lindsay Felderman or type in Walking Through Walls, and either way you should find Lindsay’s book, and you can purchase it, and I’ve already read it so I’m excited for you to get your hands on it as well.
So that is what I have for an introduction. I don’t want to take up any more time, but I do want to let you know that if you want to see the transcript for today’s show, if you want to have access to the links that Lindsay and I talk about, if you want a direct link to the Amazon page where you can find her book, you can go to www.JennTGrace.com/87 and that is for episode number 87. So enough of my blabbering on, let’s just dive right into the interview with Lindsay.
So yeah if you just want to start off by giving the listeners a quick kind of background of yourself, and then we’ll get into all the good things about your book.
Lindsay Felderman: Okay, I don’t even know where to start with a background I guess. Yeah I’m Lindsay, I’m in my late twenties, I am gay and I wanted to write a book about my coming out story because I struggled with my identity for a long time, and I wanted to kind of just share that with the world and show them that it’s okay to struggle. But at the end of the day you really should trust your gut and believe in yourself. Yeah.
Jenn T Grace: So how long would you say you had been thinking about writing a book? Because I know when we first talked which was like six or eight months ago at this point when you were first thinking about this, that we were talking about how it feels like there’s a lot of books out there for this topic, but in the way that you were thinking about it, it just didn’t feel like anything was landing for what you were feeling. So how long has that been on your mind?
Lindsay Felderman: I probably first started thinking about writing a book probably a little bit after college. When I graduated from college which was in 2006, so I guess like ten years ago- oh now that was high school, college was six years ago. Yeah okay so 2010 I graduated from college, and I don’t know, soon after that. I’d been thinking about it, and then a few times I would actually go to like write it on my computer, and start writing, and I always for some reason just had this like inclination that what I had to say didn’t really matter, and always ended up just like shutting my computer down and was like, ‘Forget this, I don’t know why I’m even thinking about doing that.’ And then it wasn’t until I guess last year, I went to this- I guess you could call it a seminar with Seth- I always mess up his last name.
Jenn T Grace: Godin?
Lindsay Felderman: Yes. My old boss called him ‘Gahdin,’ so then like it’s in my head as ‘Gahdin’ but I know it’s Godin, so every time I go to say it I like stutter. Anyway I went to a seminar with him, and it was called ‘The Ruckusmaker’s Seminar,’ and basically it was just this whole thing where you were just bringing like a project, an idea that you wanted to make better, and like everybody kind of had the same theme of like making the world a little bit of a better place. So my old job actually sent me to it, which was kind of funny because I didn’t really use it for that, which was probably- he doesn’t need to know that. I mean I did, I did think about work, but I really was there like personally. People would ask me, “What do you want to do if you’re unhappy at your job?” And I was like, “I don’t know. I really want to help LGBTQ youth. I don’t really know how to do that.” At that point- had I started volunteering for GLSEN? Yeah I think I had already started volunteering for GLSEN, so I was doing that. But other than that I was really unsure what I wanted to do. So I just kind of talked to people all weekend about that, how I wasn’t really super happy in my corporate marketing job, but I wanted to find something that I felt like I was helping people. And then Seth wrote a book called, ‘Your Turn,’ and it’s just kind of basically just a bunch of passages just talking about all sorts of things about life, and I kind of was sitting there looking at the book on like a break, and I turned it to a page and there was a quote at the bottom and it said, ‘The most important book you’ll ever read in your life is the one you write yourself.’ And I kind of just was like, ‘You know what? I’ve been wanting to do that forever. I really need to stop messing around with it.’ So we had to like break up into groups, and I was in with a couple of my friends, and I just was like, “I want to write a book.” And they both were like, “Yes, you should, oh my gosh,” and I had never really said it out loud or told anybody that I had wanted to, so that was like a really big moment for me when I realized like, ‘Yeah I’m going to do this.’ And then I actually went up to Seth to thank him for the seminar, and I told him, “I’m going to write a book.” And he’s like an accomplished author, he’s written like twenty books, and I was so nervous to say it, and he just like looked me in the eye and he said, “Yes you will.”
Jenn T Grace: That’s awesome.
Lindsay Felderman: I don’t know, from there that’s when I was like, ‘I’ve got to this. It’s something that I really just need to do.’
Jenn T Grace: That’s awesome. Not everyone can say that Seth Godin said it right to their face that, “Yes you will.” That’s pretty impressive.
Lindsay Felderman: It was cool, yeah.
Jenn T Grace: So that’s awesome. So in terms of like getting past that place of turning the computer off because you’re like, ‘I can’t do this,’ and being completely afraid; how did you get from that hump to actually starting to put words on paper? Because I know that when we finally connected, which wasn’t until December, you had already had so much of it finished. So that’s like a big kind of emotional and some kind of like mental roadblock type of hurdle that you had to get over. Do you have any specific ways that you feel like you got through that?
Lindsay Felderman: I think a lot of it had to do with the confidence in myself that when I had first thought about writing it, I was only like 21 or 22, and you’ve read the book so you’ve seen I went through a lot after that. And I think I was finally in a place now to actually believe that what I was saying would matter, and that I kind of know what I’m talking about when- because I’d been through so many things versus just kind of writing about life. And I kind of got more of a vision too of what I wanted to do. When I first would go to write it I kind of just was like writing my thoughts on the world, and kind of how I felt, and I don’t really think there was real purpose to it, and so just like over the years realizing my- focusing more on my vision, and then like going to Seth’s thing was really like the catalyst because I said it out loud for the first time, I think that was a really huge thing, and I had some validation from my peers saying, “Yes you need to do that,” and that was a really huge thing as well. So then at first in order to like kind of start, I started actually writing my blog which I’ve been horrible at doing this year because I’ve been focusing on the book, but writing a blog was super helpful too, just kind of like writing in chunks and having people respond to that. And then I just took my computer and started like writing, it kind of was like word vomit, it was literally just write down everything that you can think of that happened in your life, and why that’s relevant, or why that would help somebody else. But I’m not going to lie, it was hard. Like every time I would go to do it, it was super emotional for me. I had to be in a spot where I could actually focus on it, and like really just focus on that. And I actually wrote a lot- because I travelled a lot for work, a lot of it I wrote on like planes because it was like easy to be able to just kind of like shut everything down, and there was nobody there to bother me, and I kind of just could like zone in. But I never felt like I could just go in for like twenty minute spurts and just kind of write, because I would- it just kind of lost the emotional feel for me, and it was too much. But it just was really just telling myself, ‘Okay you’ve got to go do this,’ and other people asking me about it. “How’s your book going?” Or “What are you doing and what are you thinking about?” And I was kind of like, ‘Oh yeah I’ve got to do that.’ And I set a date for myself, I think that was helpful, so I told myself by my 27th birthday which was October 22nd, that I would have my rough draft finished. So when we talked in December, that is what I had done. I had just my rough draft and then I kind of didn’t know what to do with it. And I had some peers from this thing that I met at Seth’s, that I tried to kind of reach out and was like, “What do you think I should do?” But everybody’s kind of going at a thousand miles per hour, so they didn’t- we kind of talked through it, but it just got stagnant. But yeah I think the validation of just hearing, “Yes, you should do that,” and having the confidence in myself that it matters, and saying it out loud. Saying something out loud and telling yourself you’re going to do it is- you think that it kind of sounds silly, but when you actually say it or like write it down, it like changes your perception of what that actually means.
Jenn T Grace: And how many people do you think you told? Obviously you told the people in that room that were there that day, but did you announce it on any social media that this is something you were going to do? Was it only close friends and family? Like to what degree did you put yourself out there to tell people- or declare this to the world that you were doing this?
Lindsay Felderman: Right. I guess so initially it was just the people that I met that weekend, I came home and obviously told Sam. I was super emotional when I came home and told Sam. She like realized because I was just not happy in my other job, and she was like super happy to see that I was having something that I was really passionate to start working on. But then I didn’t announce it on social media right away. I did tell like close friends and family kind of just like over that next month or so that that’s what I was planning on doing. But in my blog a few times, I started to mention it. I didn’t kind of just say, ‘Hey I’m writing a book, this is what I’m doing.’ I would say, ‘I’m going to be working on a project,’ or something along those lines that that’s what I was doing. But I pretty much told anybody I saw in person that I was doing it. So it wasn’t like I was hiding it per say, but I didn’t really know- at that point in my early stages I didn’t have the whole concept down yet, so I didn’t- I don’t think I actually fully announced it until after I started your class online, because then I was asking people for help. So that’s I think the first time that I was kind of like, “Hey, I’m writing this book, I want your story, I want you to be involved.” And that’s kind of I think the first time I did it. I guess it was like January or February.
Jenn T Grace: So now in looking at your story, part of- again we briefly touched on this, was the fact that you felt like there weren’t enough coming out stories that kind of resonated with you, and I know that when you and I connected, I completely agreed with that because I’m like, “You know what, my coming out story isn’t tragic, but it’s certainly not fun or great.” I don’t think anybody’s is. So have you found some kind of niche- or I don’t even know if niche is the right phrase, but do you feel like what you’ve put together is really going to help that person who may not have the worst possible coming out story? To just kind of hear from you, and then also that process of reaching out to other people to say, “Hey can you share some of your thoughts?” Can you kind of describe what that process was like in terms of just reaching out to other people to add to what you were already writing? Because I can imagine that can be kind of a pain in the ass in some regards, but also adding good value to the end reader, which would be an LGBTQ youth.
Lindsay Felderman: Yeah. So it was kind of a pain in the ass, and I actually got kind of the same almost reaction that I felt before even writing the book. A bunch of people said to me, “I could give you my story but there’s really nothing to it, or it’s not exciting, or there’s nothing really that I can say.” And I would explain to them it’s like no, any coming out story is like a struggle. Like I have a very good friend of mine, her parents aren’t really accepting of it, they don’t really know that she’s with her current girlfriend. They do know but they don’t, it’s kind of one of those things they just don’t talk about. And she kept telling me, “I could give you my story but it’s really not that much.” And it’s like, no that kind of thing matters. The fact that you struggled with your parents, like there’s plenty of people struggling with their parents. Yeah like were you kicked out, or were you harmed, or were you severely bullied? Maybe not, but I think the family struggle is probably one of the biggest struggles that isn’t talked about. The ones that are just, ‘Here’s my family and we struggle every day. And yeah we still have a relationship, but it isn’t the really, really dramatic stories that we do hear about. I think the majority of us go through that as- you mentioned when I listened to the recording you gave me after you read my book, and you said something about your parents have to grieve the loss of what they thought, and I think that it’s like really important, and I think a lot of parents like take a really long time to do that because you spend a lot of time thinking about who you are, and what you want, and when you finally take the step to say, “Hey, yeah I’m gay, or I’m this, or I’m that,” or whatever to the outside world, it’s like this relieving feeling for you, and it’s so exciting, and it’s new and it’s fresh, and you finally feel like, ‘Yes I’m showing myself to the world,’ and you weren’t showing that part of yourself to the rest of the world, so all of a sudden they feel like you’re this new different person, where you feel that this is who you’ve been the whole time, you just weren’t sharing that. And I think that more people really have those types of stories but aren’t talking about it because they think that, ‘I wasn’t beat up, or I wasn’t this, or I wasn’t that,’ and so it doesn’t really matter, but every single- I think out of all my friends I have one friend that I can think of, that her parents were like excited when she came out. And it was like this weird thing, it was like a coo, “Oh yay, you’re gay, that’s so cool!” But like everybody else that I know has had some struggle, something going on where their parents were just not accepting, or they didn’t want to hear it, or they just told them they didn’t know what they were talking about. And I think especially for me, coming out so young and being told you don’t know what you’re talking about, was really hard for me. It really- like that’s why I really started to question myself and have a lot of self-doubt because the people that raised me, and told me, “Hey you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re fifteen, you have no idea.” It’s like wait a minute, how do you know how I feel inside? Like this is not something that we’re talking about, like I’m saying I’m dumb or something and you know that I’m smarter than that. It’s like I’m telling you I’m attracted to females, I romantically want to be involved with females, and you’re telling me that you know me so there’s just no way that that’s possible. That at that age did a lot of- I don’t want to say damage, but almost damage to me in my confidence, in my feelings, and like I had a lot of doubt for a long time about who I was because I really trusted my parents, and I didn’t expect that. And I think that a lot of people have that same type of thing, where I wish I had a book like this one, where I could have read and been like, ‘Oh my gosh, you were doubting yourself too? Oh my gosh, you thought your parents knew everything and that was like earth shattering to you?’ I think that would have been everything for me, and I started to realize that too when I started volunteering for GLSEN and I was speaking to some of the youth, and just in passing just explaining to them some of the things about myself, and why I was there, and just like little bursts of story and they would be like, “Oh my gosh, thank you so much for sharing. I feel so much better about X, Y, and Z. Or why my parents are being annoying, or not accepting.” And that’s why I was really like, I’ve got to write this. There’s more people out there that I think need to hear it’s okay to like have all this self-doubt, and it’s okay to like have people not accept you, and it’s okay to continue trying to figure out yourself, and not listening to the people that are just not willing to even understand what’s going on. So that was a really long-winded answer.
Jenn T Grace: No that was such a perfect, beautifully articulated answer. And for anyone who might be listening who doesn’t know what GLSEN is, can you just kind of give a thirty second of what GLSEN does?
Lindsay Felderman: Sure, so they are the Gay and Lesbian Straight Education Network, and they basically are the ones that started GSAs in school, so Gay Straight Alliances, and have done a lot of work over the years in really just helping gay youth feel comfortable, and have resources and outlets for them in schools in order to be themselves. And I actually didn’t even know about GLSEN until later because of Sam, she worked for Teach for America and then met through GLSEN. But that’s over there. They basically started the GSAs in schools, they spent a lot of time with LGBTQ youth, and making sure that they feel confident in themselves, or even as something as serious as the trans bathroom issues that are going on, they work on- I don’t exactly know how they do it, but they work to try to get legislation changed. For me it was just volunteering, you worked with youth in the schools, and we’d have meetings, and just kind of talk about like all sorts of issues surrounding the LGBTQ youth, or being queer in high school.
Jenn T Grace: Perfect. And so for those listening who keep hearing you reference Sam, that is indeed your fiancé, so we want to make sure people know that.
Lindsay Felderman: Oh yes, that is my fiancé.
Jenn T Grace: Yes. So if we’re talking about just kind of how you started to volunteer with GLSEN, and really started to interact with other young LGBTQ people, did- I guess if you could turn back time and you had an opportunity to have recognized that they were a resource to you, do you think to some degree- because I feel fortunate that I’ve actually read your entire book before it’s published, and I obviously now have a really good handle on your story, but the fact that you had a- that you came out twice. And I wonder how many people have had that type of experience. And have you had- have you talked to others through GLSEN or any of the other work that you’re doing and found that that has happened to other people as well?
Lindsay Felderman: I have obviously talked about it. I don’t think I’ve met anyone specifically that has done it the way that I have. I think the more stories that I’ve heard is somebody comes out as gay, and then they later realize they’re actually trans. So I think for our generation, especially for me when I was in high school, it was like you were gay or straight, there wasn’t all these other letters. There wasn’t all these other identities, or these things that you could associate with or feel that you were. So it was like if you don’t feel straight then you’re gay. And I think so for a lot of people in my generation they kind of would come out, ‘Okay I’m obviously gay,’ and then as these letters have been progressing, and all these identities and people really saying hey, it isn’t just black and white like that, there’s a lot more going on. And as people started to associate with other identities, I think that’s kind of the- I would say double coming out story. But I have not heard of anybody that came out in high school, decided to pretend they were completely straight, and then come back out again. It was definitely an interesting one. I felt so dumb when I was 21. I was like, ‘Seriously? You were fifteen, you knew exactly what you wanted, and then like you have to do this all over again.’ It was stressful to say the least.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, I can feel the stress and the angst in your writing, and so hopefully- well we haven’t even said the name of the book, so I would love for people to know the name of the book, and then I feel like we have a good synopsis of what it’s about, but maybe give a synopsis as well so that way people who are listening to this can actually go read your story, and really kind of get this- it’s not like an opposing view at all, but I feel like your take on it is very unique, and I think for anyone who might be saying- and mind you my audience is mostly LGBT people listening, so it’s not like we’re talking to a completely unknown audience. But I feel like a lot of people nowadays are saying, ‘Well why do we have to talk about this? Why does this matter? It’s 2016, we have marriage equality, this, that and the other,’ and to me it’s a very short-sighted type of view on things. So I feel like you’re kind of shedding some light on things that people are absolutely going through right now, like in present day. But yeah can you just say the name of the book, and just a brief kind of description of what it entails.
Lindsay Felderman: Sure so the name of my book is ‘Walking through Walls: Finding the Courage to be Your True Self.’ I can’t believe I just tripped over that. And it is just a- the whole background of the book is my coming out story, which as we said I came out twice, and then what I did is I took stories of others that represent all the LGBTQ letters, and intertwined them into my book. Just asked them a bunch of questions, and they responded to them about pretty much anything that has to do with coming out. And I totally get what you’re saying about it’s 2016, and why do we need to talk about it, and let’s just everybody kind of be equal, but the issue is we’re not, and I think that we can’t brush all of that under the rug. And even though we have a lot of milestones, and I will honestly say that I did not think that I would be able to get married when I came out in high school. Like I remember- I think it was Massachusetts passed something and I was like, ‘Wow that’s crazy,’ and I never thought that like that was going to be able to be a thing. You know, like it would be like, ‘Hey I’m actually getting married in 2017 and I’m literally getting married, not just having the ceremony to say that I’m married,’ and that kind of thing. And I think as much progress as we’re making, there’s still so many issues that need to be talked about, and I think if we just kind of pretend that they’re not there, that- I don’t know, I just think they need to be talked about, and I think they need to be validated, and in order to truly be equal with everybody and be accepted, we need to have everybody actually be accepted, which is just not the case. I mean you can turn on the news for five minutes any day, or go on Facebook, and there’s just so much hate, and so much ignorance. And even people that are my age, I’m like shocked the ignorance when it comes to like the LGBT community, and the misconceptions, and thinking that people are just- somebody who they’re just not. And it’s like I think it’s just- the fight has been fighting, and people have been fighting, and we’ve won a bunch of battles, but I still think there’s a huge war that we’re still up against. And for everybody in the community, and specifically with trans people right now, I mean just the bathroom laws. Like that’s just ridiculous. Like the things that I hear people say to me about those like, ‘Oh well they can do something in the bathroom. I don’t want them with my child.’ It’s like are you serious? Like any guy can walk in the bathroom and like hurt your little girl if they want to, or little boy. Like it has nothing to do with your identity, how you identify who you are. Like no, they’re just shitty people, like stop. And I think that kind of thing just needs to be talked about, because the amount of ignorance I think is really the biggest battle that we need to fight. I mean I literally wrote an article yesterday too, about a boy who identifies as a girl, out in Alaska so she was competing in a track event, and I guess like demolished all the other girls. And somebody wrote an article like, ‘See world, you made your bed, now you need to lie in it. You can’t complain that this girl decimated the other girls when she was born a male.’ And it’s just like seriously? You just don’t understand. And so I think this type of thing does need to be talked about. We can’t just pretend that we’re equal and say, ‘Hey we’re equal.’
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, I cannot agree more. Have you seen the thing on- the Save Sarah that’s a Go Fund Me campaign that’s happening right now? And I feel fortunate that this episode is going to air within like a week of us recording it versus a lot of times I have like months delay. But the seventeen year old gay girl in- I think she’s in Austin, Texas, who was sent away to a Christian boarding facility that’s one of those pray the gay away type of places, and she’s basically trapped, and her family is doing nothing so she has a cousin who’s trying to kind of help her get through it, and they’re raising money for her legal fees. And it’s like, okay it is June 8th as we’re recording this, it will be out next week, but this is happening on June 8th in 2016, that we have children who are being forced into places that are already deemed not helpful by many, many governing medical bodies, saying that this does not help and it actually causes more harm than good. So it just kind of continues to prove that books like yours, and books like anybody who want to write about LGBT and about coming out, or anything like this, it just kind of continues to prove that there’s such a need for it because this stuff is not going away, and it’s not going away as fast as we would like it to.
Lindsay Felderman: And that kind of thing blows my mind. I didn’t get sent to like a Christian camp, but just the same kind of mindset. ‘You’re not gay, you’re not gay, what are you talking about?’ It’s just ridiculous to me. I mean one of the people that contributed to my book I met through my blog, I followed their blog, they followed mine and I posted that I wanted to write this and they submitted their story, and they’re in their fifties, they’re bisexual, they’re married to a man, and she writes about how in her fifties she still realizes she thought that that would just go away, and it doesn’t go away. Like I know for a fact that if I’d ended up marrying the guy that I’d been dating in college, or some other guy, like I would still be feeling the way that I felt when I was fifteen right now, and into the rest of my life. It just doesn’t go away, and you can’t pretend that it’s just going to go away. I think that’s probably the biggest thing too for me, is I want people to see like hey I tried to be somebody that I didn’t want to be. I gave it more of an effort than I think that I probably should have. But I spent four years with a guy that- I loved him, I really did, that’s the thing. He is still very angry with me, but I truly did love him, and we were best friends, but I wasn’t romantically in love with him. I wasn’t sexually attracted to him, and I could have stayed miserable, and stayed with him, and it would have been really bad for both us because we wouldn’t have had the life that we should be living because I was hiding behind this wall of me, and I was a miserable human being. Like so miserable, I was very angry, I would get like little things that would happen, I would flip out, and it was just not me, but it was because I was holding so much angst in all the time, and nobody knew about it. It wasn’t like only a few people knew, and I was talking to them on the side or whatever, and they helped me get through it. It’s like I literally cut out every person in my life that knew that I was gay when I graduated from high school, slowly throughout my freshman year in college. It wasn’t like a one and done, it was like I went to college, I didn’t tell anybody there that I was gay or that I had been dating girls in high school, because they met me and I was dating my current boyfriend who I call Max in the book. I keep going to say his name and I don’t want to do that to him. So anyway, there was no reason for me to talk about it, and then I just kind of let it be, and interestingly enough where I went to college there were people there that I went to high school with but they didn’t really talk about it. I think one person that I wasn’t friends with of course, because that’s always what happens, the people that don’t know you out you to other people, told one of my college friends, and it happened to be one of my Christian God-loving college friends, and she almost- she freaked out and I said to her, “I don’t know what she’s talking about. I’m with Max,” and she was like, “I know, I told her she was crazy.” In my head I’m like, ‘No she’s not, I did date girls all throughout high school, and they all knew it.’ And so I started to just kind of get rid of it, and I didn’t even talk about it like, “Oh yeah I dated girls.” It was like, “No that never happened.” Like I literally was like I took the delete button and pretended that whole part of my life just didn’t exist. And so that pain and that struggle of thinking all the time like that didn’t exist- and for my mom, and my boyfriend, it was a very hot topic for both of them because when he started dating me, everyone was like, “Why are you dating the lesbian? She’s gay, what are you doing?” So he would get really angry, and even when I told him that I was gay, he freaked out and was like, “No you’re not.” Because we were best friends prior to us dating, and my mom, same thing. So it was just this hot button that I just never spoke about to anybody, and I didn’t see anybody that knew it, and I moved down to Florida and so just nobody knew. And so it was like okay, I just literally went as far back into the closet as I possibly could, and it was just not good, and it didn’t go away, and I didn’t feel- I still felt that same way that I did when I was fifteen years old, and I think that- I don’t even know what response I was responding to, but I want people to understand that it’s like not going to go away. If you’re feeling a certain way, you need to trust yourself because nobody is going to understand how you’re feeling, and you don’t want to be that miserable person. Like you could be something so much better. Where I couldn’t bring anything to the world- I had nothing to offer because I was just so miserable, so caught up in hiding myself, so caught up in self-loathing. Gosh the self-hate that I had towards myself was bad, and anything gay that came up; stories, or people, it was just I had to- I couldn’t take it. Like I said, I stopped talking to everybody, all my friends that knew. It was hard, I don’t know why I did that to myself. And I don’t want anyone else to do that to themselves which is why I wrote the book.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, it’s such a perfect way of phrasing why you did what you did. So tell us how you came up with the title, because it’s an interesting take on the typical coming out type of book. So ‘Walking through Walls,’ how- what sparked that?
Lindsay Felderman: So initially actually, this weekend that I had with Seth Godin, right? Godin? I’m going to say it right. I’m just going to call him Seth. Anyway so that weekend literally was like the biggest catalyst for me. But everybody that was there kind of got like a nametag with a little catchphrase about themselves, so there was eighty or so people there, and each person had this little catchphrase and mine was I walk through walls. And I can’t remember other people’s to give a good example, but everybody- was something about what they were doing. So my friend works with Lululemon and something hers was about like I help- something with yoga, and every person’s thing made sense for them. And for me I think they gave it to me because I worked at a software company, and so I’m not sure if they weren’t sure what I did, and so it was kind of like firewalls or whatever.
Jenn T Grace: Oh yeah.
Lindsay Felderman: But I’m in marketing so I had nothing to do with the IT thing. So I felt very much a fraud when I was there that weekend because I really didn’t know what I was doing there, I didn’t really know how I could help my business- my old job there, and I had this thing where I walk through walls. And everyone is doing these amazing things helping children, and creating these like amazing businesses, they all give back to like communities, and I was just like blown away by the amount of people that were there and the work that they were doing, and I just felt very much like I don’t belong here. But the whole thing is I walk through walls, and I started- as the weekend went on and I was talking to more people, and kind of telling them what I really wanted to do, they all kind of felt like the walk through walls tagline actually fit me because they were like, “You walk through kind of like these barriers, or you walk through these different ideas of who you are, and what you want to do.” So I really actually started to resonate with that towards the end of the weekend, where at the beginning of the weekend I felt very like, ‘Oh crap, what does this thing on my nametag? What am I going to talk about? I don’t know what to do.’ And by the end of it I was like, okay I really like the idea of I walk through walls because a wall is a very permanent fixture, a barrier to wherever you want to go. If there’s a wall you can’t walk through it, right? You have to find some sort of a door. But what I like about it, and what I ended up kind of playing it into is the whole idea of when you’re queer or part of this community is you have to come out of the closet, and it’s very cliché, it’s like okay everyone’s coming out, right? But for me I feel like I spent so much time building walls around myself to hide who I truly was, that at the end of the day I had to break down these walls. I had to actually almost physically walk through these walls that I’d built around myself of how I thought of myself, and I think that that is truly what it is. It’s not about opening a door, opening a door is really easy. It’s really easy to walk up to a door, hey somebody built this door and it’s opening, and you can just walk through it. Where I think the majority of us, and I don’t want to speak for everybody in the community, but it’s much harder than that. It’s not easy to come out, and a lot of times some people have to come out all the time. Like you have to constantly kind of just tell people- when you meet somebody, you like name drop that you have a fiancé that’s a girl, or your wife, or whoever. And walking through walls to me spoke much more strongly about what I had to do, just breaking down those barriers that I’d built, took so many years building, to just say, ‘Okay this is going to be who I am. I’m choosing to build these walls, and I’m going to do this, and how I’m going to live my life.’ And then I realized these walls are trapping who I am, and I need to break them down, and walking through them is the only way that I’m going to be able to be truly happy.
Jenn T Grace: I like it.
Lindsay Felderman: Yeah, that’s kind of it.
Jenn T Grace: So what do you think in terms of- so if somebody’s listening to this, and they’re thinking, ‘Wow I feel like I can resonate with her because I totally have sat at my desk and started to write, and then said no I have nothing to write.’ Or kind of that stop and start. For somebody listening, what do you think that one piece of wisdom might be to push them out of their comfort zone, and have them just actually say, ‘You know what? I am doing this.’ Do you have any words of wisdom on that?
Lindsay Felderman: Yeah I think first probably it would be good to just write in short bursts, and not about anything in particular. Like when I first started to like really write, I just would write almost like word vomit, just like what I was feeling, what I was doing that day. Almost like journals, but not. It’s just writing, like you just need to get in the habit of writing and like letting your emotions and your thoughts, putting them down on paper. And then I was blogging, and I would share what I was writing for people, and you’ve just got to do it really. It’s like one of those things where it’s like, ‘What’s the great trick?’ And like the great trick is just sitting down and writing. Like it’s just taking that time and saying- and it doesn’t need to be like you’re sharing it with the world, but getting in the habit of writing and kind of just like doing what- figuring out what your writing style is too. I think for me the biggest thing too, I always was told I was a bad writer, so I really struggled throughout high school and college, in like English classes they were just like, “Yeah you don’t really have great writing skills.” And even in my work, my jobs, I had bosses tell me- my last job, he told me multiple times that I didn’t know how to write, and it really like shattered my confidence. Like seriously? What are you talking about? And I worked really hard at kind of just like fixing it in business and whatever, but for me it was like you know what? I’m not listening to how you want me to write anymore, I’m going to write the way that I want to write, and I’m going to put it out there, and if people resonate with it, then okay, and they started to. So- but I just think the biggest thing is one, you have to believe in yourself, you really just have to believe that what you are going to say matters. And two you’ve just got to start writing. You literally just have to- whatever it is. I don’t care if you write, ‘Hi my name is Lindsay’ five times on a piece of paper. Like you just need to understand that it’s okay that you can actually do that. You have to have- starting to actually write, and believing that you can do it is like the two biggest things that you have to do. Because I still look at the proof that I have of my book, like when I get the actual book I don’t even know what I’m going to do, but like looking at that- there are so many words in it. I still can’t believe like I wrote all those words, but you just have to continue to like every day, wake up, ‘Alright what am I going to write today?’ And it doesn’t have to be every day, it wasn’t every day for me, but just doing it. Like Seth actually that weekend, he talked about- I can’t remember what the name of the author was, but he said he woke up every morning at 6:00 AM, and he wrote from 6:00 until like- I don’t know, 12:00 or 1:00 PM every day, and he wrote hundreds of books because he sat down and he did it every day. And that’s the kind of thing- if you want to become something, you have to work at it, and you have to sit down, and you have to do it. And that’s the biggest thing. And then finding somebody that supports you, I think too. So as soon as I started telling people, like really my fiancé Sam, she was like, “Wow that’s amazing that you want to do that.” I think she kind of didn’t believe me that I was going to do it. Not so much that she didn’t think I could, but she was just like, “That’s a big thing to do.” But having her support, and just like the support of my family saying, “Yeah you need to do that,” I think- and I talk about that in the book too. Like as your coming out story- like just finding somebody that’s supportive in your life is super important regardless. Whether it’s you’re writing a book, whether it’s you want to become an astronaut or scientist, or whatever you want to do, you just need to find people that support your dreams and are positive. Because if you bring people into your life that don’t believe that you can do what you know you can do, they’re just going to bring you down, and there’s no point in having those types of people in your life. So it’s find somebody that’s supportive, sit down and write, and just do whatever- you do whatever you want to do. There’s just so many things you can do in this world, and you have to follow your dreams, and you can do it is what I would say.
Jenn T Grace: I love it.
Lindsay Felderman: Anybody can do it.
Jenn T Grace: So speaking of anyone can do it, I totally agree. I think anyone if they focus and they sit down to do it, they totally can. So after the writing part, where do you feel like it was the second most challenging? Because obviously the writing- like you can’t pussyfoot around that, there’s just- it is what it is. But where were those other types of roadblocks, or perceived roadblocks where you were like, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ Did you have those moments where you were just kind of stressed out because of certain logistical things? Or what did that look like?
Lindsay Felderman: So the logistical things- I guess initially they did. So basically I wrote my book, and then it sat in a Word document, I didn’t know what to do. And I can’t even begin to describe to you how I think like the universe works, but because I volunteer for- because I met Sam, because she worked for Teach for America, because I then found out about GLSEN, volunteered for GLSEN, because I chose to go to one like random Wednesday night at a business thing, walked by your booth, and I didn’t have time to stop because I was leaving, I saw Jenn T. Grace, Professional Lesbian, looked it up on my way home and was like, ‘Wow this lady is pretty cool.’ Started following you on like social media, responded to you- whatever, got on your email list, and then like two months later got an email from you saying, ‘Do you want to tell your story in 2016?’ It’s like, ‘Wait what? Yes, yes I do. I literally wanted to pick up the phone right now, call you and be like, ‘I absolutely want to tell my story. Like how did you know? Did you just send this to me?’ It was so crazy. But so the biggest thing definitely is the writing, that sucks, but then the logistical thing was scary because I didn’t know what I could do. I didn’t know anybody in publishing, I didn’t know do I just send my book to all these specific publishers? I had friends saying, ‘Okay look up LGBTQ publishers, and reach out to them.’ And that just all seemed really daunting and scary and I was like, ‘I don’t really know what to do with this.’ And then meeting you, and your class really helped with all that, like I could self-publish through Amazon, great that takes all that away, I don’t care what anyone else has to say. No that was fine, but then I think the editing part of the book, and going back and just having to re-read what you wrote is like really, really hard. Especially when it’s something like the book that I wrote, where it’s emotional and every time I read what I wrote about whatever chapter it is, like it brings me back into that moment of that pure raw emotion, and it’s hard to kind of put yourself back in those moments I think sometimes, because it was really emotional. So I think just- I think I remember saying in your class one time I said, “I haven’t read it in a while,” because it took so much out of me to read it, and to have to go back, and figure out does this make sense? And then I had to go back and do like kind of the so what’s at the end of the book- or end of each chapter because I kind of realized I just kind of moved on and I didn’t really explain like why that was important. So just all that part is just- I feel like once you do it you feel really accomplished that you wrote it, you put all these words on paper, but you’re only really halfway there. Like there’s so much other things that go into it, and you want to just be like, ‘This is a book, put it on the shelf, this is a book,’ but you have to do so much more to get it to be- like I’m literally 99% of the way there. I literally just have to fix some formatting and the way that I fixed the quotes, and make it so it fits so that Amazon will say that my file looks good, and then I’m good. And it’s just like I have to do it, but it’s just getting there. Picking all the little details, and understanding, and yeah.
Jenn T Grace: And you have a cover now, right? So I believe I saw your cover. Because when I saw the proof it was just plain white, which was like mysterious.
Lindsay Felderman: Oh that’s a piece of my cover actually, that’s not even the whole thing.
Jenn T Grace: Beautiful.
Lindsay Felderman: The one that you saw on Instagram- or Facebook?
Jenn T Grace: Yeah.
Lindsay Felderman: Yeah it’s a piece of it.
Jenn T Grace: I like it. So when- so somebody listening to this, when should they expect your book to be available for purchase? They will be listening to this as of Thursday, June 16th this will be live.
Lindsay Felderman: I am hoping that it will be published- I don’t- once you hit the big- I should just ask you. When you hit the big publish button, like what’s the waiting period on Amazon? Is it just like- do they need to like approve it? Or is it just like, ‘Hey you’re good.’
Jenn T Grace: It’s within like 24 hours that it’s available for other people to buy.
Lindsay Felderman: So yeah, I’m hoping either today or tomorrow I fix those little formatting issues, and then like I’m hitting publish.
Jenn T Grace: Nice.
Lindsay Felderman: So we’re pretty much there. I would say by the time this podcast airs, you’ll be able to buy it on Amazon.
Jenn T Grace: Good, good. Now there is- you’re having to be held to it because now there are thousands of people listening and may want to purchase, which I totally think they should. This was fantastic. I so appreciate you jumping on, and sharing your process, and hopefully inspiring some other people to share their stories too. If somebody wants to contact you directly, what is your- either your blog website, or where you are on social media? How would you prefer people to get in touch with you?
Lindsay Felderman: Honestly I’ll give out all my- I guess ways of contact because I know everybody is kind of different in the way they want to contact. So if you want to go to my website it’s just www.LindsayFelderman.com, and there’s like a form on there that you can submit and it goes directly to my email. My Instagram is LFelderman so you can find me there, I’m not private so you can follow me, or send me a message, or whatever you want to do. And then my Twitter, which I’m not going to lie I don’t really use all that often, is LFelderman22. So those are probably the easiest ways to get in contact with me, all of them are hooked up with my email so I’ll get it- and it’s email that I actually check, so I’ll see whatever you send.
Jenn T Grace: Or go to Amazon and type in either your name or Walking through Walls, and your book should come up and be available for purchase. And of course if people do buy the book, I certainly want to know. So if anyone listening to this, if you buy it, please let me know about it so that way we can make sure Lindsay knows it came through here. And then of course leave a review. I feel like reviews are always important, even if you only have a couple, it’s really helpful to have some reviews because I have no doubt that your story will help change lives, which is kind of the end goal that we’re both going for, which is just so amazing and so awesome. So thank you again for your time, I really appreciate it.
Lindsay Felderman: Thank you Jenn, I really appreciate it more than you know.