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Modern Renegades with Ashley Kelsch | A Conversation With Faith

Ep #84

A Conversation With Faith

Something I thought I would never do as a mother was become friends with my children, but here I am, and I am loving it all. And this week, I am joined by my child, Faith. Our relationship hasn’t always been straightforward, but I am so happy to be where we are right now and share our conversation this week.

Faith has experienced a number of changes since they last joined me on the podcast, and they are currently about to face another change as they embark on their journey to college. But this time is bittersweet for Faith, and we’re discussing why that is in this episode.

Tune in this week and hear a candid conversation with Faith as they share their journey with self-love and feeling intense love for another person as well as the concept of learning to express who you are as a person. We discuss social constructs, feminism, patriarchy, and love, and Faith walks me through some concepts I am somewhat unfamiliar with.

What You Will Discover:

  • Why I wanted to bring this conversation to the podcast.
  • What it has been like for Faith as they embark on this new chapter of their life.
  • The importance of being open to other points of view.
  • How my relationship with Faith has evolved over the years.
  • What the real work of self-love looks like.
  • How heartbreaking it can be to consciously uncouple from another person.
  • The reason Faith identifies as nonbinary.

Resources Mentioned:

  • If you’re enjoying the tools and concepts I’m sharing each week about your brain on dating, you won’t want to miss out on working with me one-on-one. I’ve just launched my program, Wake Up Before Another Breakup, where in just 8 weeks, you won’t question if you can trust yourself to date or why you can’t find the one. Click here to learn more about it and how you can work with me.
  • What It’s Like to Be 15, with Depression and the Desire to Cut
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  • I’m taking tune in and turn on to another level, and I want to invite you to join me on the journey. I have created a space called the House of Other, it’s an unedited guide to finding pleasure. You’ll find my ratings, reviews, experiences, opinions and recommendations on all things I’m indulging in, as well as conversations and essays addressing all things cliteracy. Come on over and subscribe to join me on the journey, I’ll see you there.

Enjoy the Show?

This is not Ashley Kelsch and you are listening to Modern Renegades, episode number 84.

Welcome to Modern Renegades, in the Name of Love. A podcast that dives deep into understanding our bodies and minds on dating, sex, relationships, and all the things that we do in the name of love. Each week, I'm going to be interviewing doctors, professionals, experts and the diehard love nerds to gain insight, get advice, or just riff on this human condition that almost everyone is trying to figure out.

Ashley: Well, welcome to the show Faith Christine Genteel.

Faith: Hi, so happy to be here.

Ashley: Are you?

Faith: Yeah, I am. I'm very excited.

Ashley: You haven't been on the podcast since Maui 2019?

Faith: 19, yeah. So it's been a couple years. I've changed.

Ashley: Have you?

Faith: I'd like to think so, yeah.

Ashley: There have been some major – There's been gender changes, name changes, location changes, relationship status changes. Yeah, you've had a lot of change. And those were like just in the last year and week.

Faith: Yeah, a lot in the last week.

Ashley: So let's start with where we are now, which is in New York City.

Faith: Yay!

Ashley: And we are here because – I'll let you tell the world even though I've been sort of talking about it. But tell us what we're doing.

Faith: You've been sort of talking about? Well, I'm going to Parsons this fall to study illustration. And so I moved to New York, because where would I study at Parsons if not?

Ashley: Yeah, that's a really good question that we're not going to spend any time answering because we've already paid for you to come here. Yes, you finding out that you were coming here was a huge – This was your dream school, so it was a very big deal. Very exciting. Yeah. What was it like traveling here the first day?

Faith: Well, I'll say this, every other trip to New York was very exciting and I was looking forward to moving here. And the day that we actually left, I did not want to come, at all. I was very reluctant and was crying the entire time.

Ashley: Yeah, so for context we did come here two other times. And one of the first trips we came was I think in April, and your partner came with you. And he spent, we were all here for like five –

Faith: Four days.

Ashley: And y'all got to run around the city together. And then the second trip we came with Nick, your brother. And we all ran around the city together.

So this is the third time and we came and you were reluctant and you were crying. And was it because you're moving away from Austin and you're nervous about it?

Faith: No, I'm very excited to be moving away from Austin. Now I can have control over my own life and not be held back by politics.

Ashley: Hey everyone, welcome to conversations with my child.

Faith: Where I subtly talk about how much I hate politics and capitalism.

Ashley: This is in the name of love spelled wrong for a reason. So let's get to the point of this conversation. Why were you so upset about coming here?

Ashley: I was upset to come here and very reluctant because I was breaking up with somebody. Coming here was our breakup so it was very emotional. I didn't want things to end and I felt very much like we needed more time.

Ashley: Time for what?

Faith: Just to be together.

Ashley: Oh, I see what you're saying, more time to be together. So you guys, when you started dating again last summer, you decided intentionally that you would break up when you went to college?

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: And at the time that seemed like the right idea.

Faith: I mean, neither of us honestly thought that we would actually feel this much throughout the relationship. We were both like, “Oh, let's just hang out and have fun and we won't label anything.” And that was going on for a while, if you remember, where we were not labeling things but we were hanging out every day.

So it was very easy to be like well, I'm going to college in a year. Obviously, things will probably end before that, but if not, we'll break up when I leave. And then we ended up just being two kids. And we were like, “Oh my God, look at us, we're in love, ha ha.”

Ashley: You know, the way you say, “just two kids, ha ha” you make it sound like it would be something that was fun. I don't want to say like you were mocking it because kids don't know deep love, but this hasn't been funny.

Faith: No.

Ashley: Because the love that you two experienced over this last year was what?

Faith: Intense, I'd like to think so anyways. I felt it was very real.

Ashley: It was very real.

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: Yeah. I think the part about watching this is seeing it and knowing how much you two – Because you've both been so mindful with each other and your communication. It's been a very mature relationship from all onlookers watching how you two have navigated and treat each other. And I believe that what you two have experienced together, you two will never not remember and share a special place for one another.

Faith: Yeah, I agree. It's been wild. But, I don't know. It's emotional and intense. And I've definitely never felt anything like this. There were multiple times throughout the relationship where I was like, “I don't want to feel this. I don't like feeling this. It's too much.”

Ashley: What is this?

Faith: Just like the kind of intensity and love that I felt for another person. And I was like, “I don't like how I'm so willing to do anything for one person who is not me.” Like I should be my main focus right now. And now I am my main focus again. And that's kind of –

Ashley: Well, I hear what you're saying but I didn't really see your relationship that way, the way that you to engaged together because you didn't spend your days texting each other. You didn't spend your every waking minute together. It was a very interdependent relationship. You both had lives and you both did things, but you thought of one another constantly.
Yeah, that person was like always thought of when you made choices and decisions, with the exception of New York. I get what you mean by this one is for you. But never was I like, “Oh, this isn't healthy.” Or, “Faith is just thinking of this other person too much.” Or their whole life is revolving around them.

Because I mean, in my mind I was like, “God, maybe I could learn a little bit about how to date from Faith and their partner because he and they seem to have this thing figured out.” I’m like taking notes, evaluating my own life and I’m like, “Maybe they know something I don't.”

Faith: We were at this soiree on my birthday and it was for his mom and her friends. And he was talking to me, but in between talking to other people. And then one of his mom's friends was like, “God, they're like an old married couple.” And I was like, “You know what? Kind of.” We're very comfortable with the way that we talk and we know how to talk to each other.

Ashley: Yeah, watching the two of you consciously uncouple, thanks, Gwyneth.

Faith: Hashtag goop.

Ashley: Hashtag goop, hashtag girl boss.

Faith: She is such a girl boss.

Ashley: I can't hate her. I do not hate the game. I'm like, “Damn, so good.” Except for just everyone knows how I feel about the goop. But anyway – Or the wand, not the goop. I'm into the goop. Let me stay focused, please don't me off track Faith.

What was I saying?

Faith: Watching us consciously –

Ashley: Watching the last week to the final days to the airport, to getting on the plane. I mean, all of us were choking up for you. Your brother had to walk away at one point because he was like, “I can't watch them say goodbye.” But witnessing you these first few days in New York was a little painful as a mother to watch. Because I know that feeling, and so many do. And it's one of those things where you're like, “Ah,” and you know that you were so in love.

Faith: Never hungry, it's been rough.

Ashley: Yeah.

Faith: And it wasn't how I expected my first couple of days in New York to be. But it's not like unbearable. I mean, kind of at certain points it very much was.

Ashley: I just think the listeners should know that there's tears in our eyes right now.

Faith: I think that is important to state because I feel like I will cry during this at some point. So in case that does happen.

Ashley: What would an episode of Modern Renegades in the Name of Love be without some tears shed over love?

Faith: Nothing.

Ashley: Exactly. Okay. No, but I have to applaud you, you've been doing really great. Because you've kept your focus on getting the stuff ready, and processing your pain, eating when I tell you to eat.

And then also we've been trying to remind you that we don't know what's going to happen, this isn't the end of something. This is not the death, it's not over over. It's just a transition and changing. And to help you kind of maybe keep it in perspective, but even that is a very difficult thing to do.

I've noticed there's less tears, you're a little bit lighter. Obviously, you're not thrilled about not being together. But what are some of the changes, you guys were not going to talk? You weren't going to be – Right? Until maybe you saw one another this October, but no talking.

Faith: Yeah, we were like no talking at all for a little bit. We even said for months we're not going to Snapchat when we break up. That's just, no, we don't want to do that, blah, blah, blah. The second I landed he texted me. He was like, “Text me when you land.” And I was like, “Oh, fuck. Okay, I landed, I'm safe.” And then he Snapchatted me.

And so we've been snapping and sending each other pictures of our faces. And then the other night, I was like, “Fuck, I'm going to call him.” And I did and we talked for like an hour. And it was really good. It really cleared up a lot. And it made me feel a lot better with our situation.

Ashley: Yeah. Now have you decided that you'll start talking?

Faith: We're just going to like be friends, call every now and then. Just like talk when we need to.

Ashley: To me that's what makes the most sense. I understand it's hard when you end a relationship that you don't want to end, to have some space because you can fall right back into maybe being together or missing one another. So you think if we just don't have it in our lives at all or we avoid it and out of sight out, of mind that we would be happier. But I don't think that's the work necessarily all the time.

And I think you two were best friends. I think it's more painful to not talk for you two than to learn how to be friends and navigate your new relationship.

Faith: Yeah, I mean, obviously, I don't know how many people know we dated before this time. And after that breakup we did not talk at all. Like never talked. And then during quarantine started talking a little bit more and then easily slipped back into a new relationship.

Ashley: I wouldn’t say slipped, you guys were very –

Faith: Very gradual, and then the second that he got back in Austin it’s just kind of like we were hanging out every day.

Ashley: Yeah, I recall it was, “When I come back let's spend time together and see if that's still there. And if it is, then we talk about it and we do it.”

Faith: Yeah, and then it was.

Ashley: Well yeah, you guys have been super strategic. It's been a very mindful, talked about it. It’s not like it just happened, and then we were here, and now we're together, and now it's over. It's like, no, you guys are – Like I said, it’s been an interesting thing to witness because there's been a lot of care involved and a lot of thought put into it.

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: Such is love, I love that for you. I even put on some Roxette, It Must Have Been Love, because I was like I'm feeling your feels a little bit.

Faith: Oh my God, I've just been listening to Linger.

Ashley: Oh, the Cranberries. Oh, and then on your birthday I was like, “You have to listen to Stay by Lisa Loeb.”

Faith: Oh, my God. And then we just ran to that and I like cried.

Ashley: On repeat.

Faith: Yeah, cried for a little bit.

Ashley: Yeah, Faith is crying about their partner and then I'm crying about Faith, but to myself on this side and in cars and when they're not looking.

Faith: Such is life.

Ashley: I'm just trying to be a supportive, strong parent and let you have your life and grieve without you witnessing it. Trying to make it about you, as I'm telling everybody.

Faith: Obviously.

Ashley: Which then continues to make it about me. But what would this podcast be if it wasn't about me?

Faith: If nothing was about you, you wouldn't have a podcast.

Ashley: I wouldn't have a life.

Faith: Exactly.

Ashley: Come on, this is what I live. Now that we're talking about me and you, natural progression, another in the name of love. Because I think it's also interesting that when we did this podcast we were about to enter into a phase where Nick was going to be moving out and going on his gap year. And the world sort of knew that Nick and I got along pretty well except for, I mean Nick was, at the time, your typical teenager getting in a lot of trouble and making –

Faith: He was just an ass sometimes.

Ashley: We were at odds quite a bit those last couple years, as it should be I suppose. That's what I hear, it’s quite natural and normal. But you and I, our relationship was a little bit, what is the right word?

Faith: Faulted.

Ashley: It wasn't faulted.

Faith: Flawed.

Ashley: Flawed? There was a bit of a disconnect. There was just, it was –

Faith: There was some distance.

Ashley: Yes, there was distance. And I think we were both nervous about like, how are we going to live together without Nick sort of being this person who always manages to be the center of attention somehow, right?

Faith: Yes.

Ashley: Or also just brings a distraction to our dynamic. And for me, and I'll let you speak to it, but for me, after our trip in Hawaii when we hung out there alone, everybody had left and it was just us, I was like, “Oh.”

Because Faith had a habit of going to their room and spending time alone. And it's something that I tend to do as well. Like I'll just isolate and do my own thing. But we weren't at home, so we were spending time together and I was like, “Faith is actually kind of funny.”

The more I was getting to know you as a young adult, I was like, “Man, I actually –” It’s not that I didn't like Faith, but you didn't spend time with me on that level.

Faith: Yeah, maybe you didn't like, like me, but you definitely loved me. You know, like you loved me as a mother would love their child. But maybe you didn't –

Ashley: What I think it was is I didn't know you.

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: I didn't feel like I knew you. And that was a part of our big disconnect, is like who is this person, the choices, the friends, the things? And I didn't get it. But on that trip when we had that time together and there was no distraction and we were just spending time getting to know you, I was like, “You're funny. You're so smart. You're so driven.”

And that was sort of the beginning of where we are now, which is something I never saw happening because it was something I thought as a mother I wouldn't do, which is become friends with my children.

Faith: Bestie, no.

Ashley: That's totally what this has become. And it's been this like crazy – It makes you wonder like, do we not do this with our kids because they're going to leave? Or because they're your kids and you're not meant to be friends, is what I thought. Like, I'm your parent, not your friend.

But then there was this point where was I like, “No, I’m supposed to be –” It wasn't even like a conscious decision, it was like we started to become friends. And now it's like you're one of my best friends. And it's been such an amazing relationship to develop with you and to have you in my life. Which is why this has been so difficult.

And for me, I've been dancing between your mother, who's supposed to be this person who supports you, and guides you, and it's not about me, and watching you go and leave. And then this other person who's like, I love who we’ve become and everything we do. And selfishly just wanting to keep you with me, which is obviously so unfair. And I know that it's all going to evolve and be amazing. And, everyone listening, I swear I've totally kept it together until right now.

Faith: This is the first time I've seen her cry on this trip.

Ashley: But when we went on our summer trip, I guess we went to New Mexico and then to Terlingua we'd had a conversation in Terlingua where we were talking about your move here. And I asked you about how you were feeling about it. And I just listened.

And it was the first time I watched my brain want to make it about me. And I was like, “No, we're not doing that anymore. You're the guide here. I get to be the person you call, that you talk to.” And I actually think that came from us running together.

Faith: Yeah, I think Hawaii is where we decided, we were opening up more and more. And then I started my junior year and things got a little rocky and it kind of disconnected again. And then quarantine it, we were together all the time. And then I started running.

And then one day was like, “Let's go on a run.” And that was like the most fun that I think we've ever had together, was like just sprinting for like half a mile and then being like, “Wait, we’re going too fast. We got to slow down.

Ashley: No, actually I was looking at my watch and we were clocking like an eight something minute mile. And in my head I was like, “There's no fucking way I'm going to be able to keep this pace.” Because I hadn't been running as consistently as I had in the past.

And I was like, “Is this how fast you normally run?” And you're like, “No, no, I was just really excited.” And I was like, “Yeah, same. We got to slow down or we're not going to make it.”
Faith: That was fun though. And that was what really transformed our relationship, I think.

Ashley: Yeah, and if you listen to our episode that we recorded in Hawaii, I think we talked about how running for you and I had been a very negative experience in our past because I was very hard on you about it. And I, to this day regretfully, the way that I just was in general as a parent thought I knew best and would tell you guys and I would push you. Well, that was just the way that I knew then.

It didn't turn out to be a positive and you basically were like, “I never want to run. I hate running and I hate what happens when we're out there.” So I'd never asked you to run again. For that reason. I was like, “I'm not going to push this on this person anymore.” I tried to for so long.

So the day that the invite came my direction it was like, “Oh wow. Oh wow, this is where we are. This is Incredible and I'm just going to let you lead this relationship. Which is when we're out running I don't want to push you, I don't want to say these things, I just want to be there to set the pace and guide you like on the long runs. It's like this is about you, and not me.”

So my brain had started thinking in that new way during our running. So when we had that conversation in Terlingua I just was like, “This isn't about me, this is my opportunity to get to be this person for you. And when I make it about me, I can't do that.”

So that's been, for me and my own personal growth, amazing to witness. But of course, are these moments where it's like my baby in New York, that's a terrifying thought. And then it's also incredibly exciting.

Faith: Yeah. And I've mentioned it before, because one time you did ask me like, “Are you not sad about leaving because of Pink and I?” And I was like, “The only reason that you guys are the only thing I'm not sad about is because I know that nothing will change with my relationship with you guys. Especially with you.”

Ashley: Right.

Faith: But I know that nothing will ever change, like this growth that we've all achieved.

Ashley: Yeah, you guys are so much smarter. Even when I was talking to your brother I was like, “Huh, that’s really well said.”

Faith: Really well said.

Ashley: You have a different awareness, for sure. Like for you to know that like, “Yeah, my relationship with my parents is solid, it's established. It's not going anywhere. It's unconditional.” And another part about it is like I feel like we're getting closer in a different way. And that the momming and the child part of you, that's never going to end. It's just going to be a different dynamic.

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: And it's getting more exciting because of the things that we do together now. Like I was saying, like friends. I mean bookstores, working out, museums.

Faith: The Museum of sex we went to yesterday.

Ashley: We did. Never thought I'd go there with you, but I had never really though about that in general.

Faith: I was a little bit critical, I'm not going to lie.

Ashley: About us going? Or the museum itself?

Faith: The museum.

Ashley: Yeah, I always really appreciate the perspective that you and your brother bring, but especially yours as a human in this world. You have a different set of eyes than I do based on how you've been raised and the things, you know, condition message. So much has changed since I was a young person.

And I wasn't thrilled with it. There was only like one floor that I was like, “Oh, this speaks to me.” But the other stuff I found interesting. Some of it I found uncomfortable.

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: But that's a good thing, in my mind, when you feel that uncomfortable, like to lean in, “What's making me uncomfortable here?” So I'm still sitting with it.

Faith: We liked the same floor. And we talked about it afterwards, we were like, “That's the floor that we connected with because of where we're at right now.”

Ashley: Right.

Faith: So of course we liked that one the most.

Ashley: Correct, yeah, it resonated. And actually, in my book that I'm reading, she references her.

Faith: Really?

Ashley: Yeah, literally open it up and she's like, “If you want to do more work in this –” I'm going to tell you all about it later. But it's about like self-pleasuring, and learning about your body, and being liberated sexually. And it's from a feminist position, because there's two different types of feminists out there. So this is one that you can embrace your sexuality. But she's this woman, Betty A. Dodson, and they call her Bad.

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: She was the forerunner of this work and taught some of the first workshops ever done about how for a female body to please itself. Yeah, so that one was a great one. The commercialization of sexuality, and sexualized, and how we've seen it play out in ads, and movies, and videos and stuff, that one is interesting because we're still seeing it.

Faith: Yeah, it's like we see that kind of stuff all the time. And I feel like I see a lot of articles online about how much has changed visually over the years with sexual exploitation.

Ashley: Right.

Faith: So that one didn't feel new to me at all. I feel like I've seen all those things before. Of course, there was like the Victoria's Secret ad that aired a couple years ago about the perfect body.

Ashley: That was in the last 10 years, right?

Faith: That was 2017.

Ashley: No.

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: I thought it was like 2007.

Faith: That was a campaign from 2017. That was at the very end of it and I saw that and I just felt enraged. I was like, “How can you put this after the Bad exhibition?”

Ashley: But that's the whole thing, is they're showing how for heteronormative couples it's been sexualization of female bodies having to look a certain way. And that's where I think it's good that we see that because we are starting to see a dramatic change in some areas, not all areas.

It raises a lot of questions of a woman's sexuality being hers and displaying it. And it brings up a lot of the conversations around like, when I think about the Me Too. Like can men compliment a woman or flirt with her?

Some people think he should be able to still flirt in a certain way and it's not objectifying or inappropriate and that that's “just how men are.” Versus this other extreme of, not extreme, but what we're seeing come up right now where it's like, no, you shouldn't act that way and you shouldn't say those things because I'm a human. So that part's interesting to see play out in TV right now, in ads, in conversations across the board.

Faith: And here's the other thing is that I hate when men are like, “What, I can't flirt now?” Oh, no, you can flirt with women without making them uncomfortable. There's a way to do it but you're just not interested in doing that. So maybe that's on you.

Ashley: Well, that's one way of looking at it. I totally appreciate what you're saying, but I also think the example that's been modeled is what we saw yesterday in the museum. This is how we have raised men and boys to “get to behave.” This is how that's been done. This is what they've seen on TV. There hasn't been another example. And now that's really coming out.

I mean, certainly it's been there, but it's not what you would see in the mass production of messaging across the board. So to some degree I can't necessarily blame the sexes for acting like their assigned sex and falling into those roles, because they've been told this thing their whole life.

So their brain, it’s as simple as just programming. This is what that is. And now we're unlearning. And we're learning new ways. And so what we do with that information going forward is a very different thing. Right?

Faith: Totally agree.

Ashley: So it's tricky, because we're living in a time where it's like all of this is up for debate. And then we get to decide what we want to believe. And it's not so black and white.

Faith: Yeah. I mean, obviously there's more than one way to look at it. But I think that the most important thing is having an open mind. And that's what I'm saying. It's like, the men who are being told like, “No, you shouldn't be saying those kinds of things to people,” they immediately react and they're like, “What, I can't flirt with a woman now?”

And it's like, “No, that's not what it is. It's just you have to learn how to change the way you are flirting with women. You have to change your behavior so that it makes everyone more comfortable and doesn't put them in that uncomfortable situation.

Ashley: Yeah, the work that I'm studying about those interactions, you know, the patriarch and the messages that have been taught to us and men, there's wounds on both sides. The messaging that we're supporting that continues to hurt them, and the things they're doing that hurt us. So having space for both, it's a lot. A lot of programming and a lot of work, for all the sexes, actually.

Which leads me into this part of the conversation, because – What?

Faith: I'm just excited.

Ashley: Oh. Yeah, so I get to learn so much from you, and this one has been incredibly interesting and fascinating. And I'm going to go so far as to say kind of fun because I got to announce I was wrong when I gave birth. I thought I had a little girl, but Faith identifies as nonbinary. So why don't you tell the listeners what that means.

Faith: So for me, personally, I do not agree with the social construct that is gender. I don't believe that I should fit into a role that is automatically assigned to me because of the sex that I was given at my birth. Nonbinary can include any gender or no gender at all. It is just about expressing who you are as a person and kind of removing yourself from that identity.

Which is why I choose to live my life through that label. I don't want my whole existence to be determined by my sex. And that really came about because I'm an extreme feminist, as a lot of people would like to say, in Texas. And I don't believe in how my sex holds me back.

It really frustrated me for a long time about how can I be so proud to be a woman and a female, and then the world just hate me for that? So being nonbinary has given me the space to be myself and embrace my femininity in my own way without feeling this pressure from the outside.

Ashley: That's really well said.

Faith: Thank you.

Ashley: Yeah, that's really well said. And then another way that's discussed as nonbinary, they don't necessarily feel male, female, right? And some days maybe they do feel more male or more female and it oscillates.

Because we'd had that conversation. And so instead of being like, “Well, today I'm feeling this,” or “today I'm feeling that.” And with pronouns being he or she, and not knowing what would be on any given day, it was like they.

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: Which makes sense because they is plural. So it's both. So you're like, “I'm all of it and none of it.”

Faith: Yeah, I really love to think about it in the way that like I am separate from that entity that is gender and expression. But, of course, I'm going to still fight for feminism. And, obviously, at the museum of sex we both related to the Bad exhibit more. I saw that and I loved it. That doesn't make me any less nonbinary.

And I think that's the big thing that people need to understand, is that I'm not saying I'm not female at all, or I'm totally male, or I'm not male at all, or I’m nothing, or I’m everything. It's that I want this space.

Ashley: You’re not being reduced your gender.

Faith: Yeah, exactly. This is a heavy microphone.

Ashley: I know. We're in the hotel room recording very closely to one another with no AC on and it's getting a little sweaty in here.

So I think another thing that we could address that’s in the same topic, people often confuse, because this is a new concept for a lot of people, right? For the mainstream it's a new concept to be nonbinary, and they, and the identification is something that is being talked quite a bit right now.

And you and I have discussed this, like when at first there was a bit of offense taken like if someone were to call you miss or something you were like, “They should know.” And it's like, how do we know? We just have to have patience and time for these concepts because no one has ever really talked about these things.

But a big misconception is if you identify as a certain gender or not, then your sexual preferences are somehow – A lot of the questions I got after you came out as nonbinary where, “How do you feel about Faith dating women?” And I was like, “That's not what we're talking about.” But I get it, like I don't get it, but I get it.

But that was a big common question of I think people just thought that meant that you were a lesbian or into women. And I was like, “No, actually Faith’s open on that, I'm sure as well.” You are and I know you don't mind me saying that. But that's not what we're talking about.

Faith: Yeah. I definitely know some nonbinary people who are like, “I'm a lesbian.” And I'm like, “Oh, that confused me at first, but I get it now.” I mean, it's like I don't fully get it, but I'm open to the idea. And I'm open to people explaining it to me. And I think that's the big thing.

Ashley: Share more about that.

Faith: Well, I don't want to sound prejudice or anything, it's just like I don't personally, as a non-binary person, understand how I could then go on and call myself a lesbian if I was only into women. You know? Because I have since separated myself from gender.

Ashley: Oh, that's so good. See, that's deeper than I thought. So then people are like, “Well, then what are your sexual preferences?” No, that still doesn't apply though, does it?

Faith: I'm not sure.

Ashley: Well, you wouldn't be able to be labeled as, say, a lesbian, is that why queer exists?

Faith: Well, I use queer, personally. Because I have separated myself from gender, I use queer. And also because I don't feel like always opening up to people about the specifics of my sexual orientation and sexuality.

Ashley: Right. Here we are.

Faith: Here we are though.

Ashley: But I think if you can consider this more of an education for the listeners.

Faith: Which part?

Ashley: What you're opening up about right now is you're educating us on these concepts and this way of being in the world that we might not have learned about or understand.

Faith: And I will say this, just because I don't fully understand calling myself a lesbian and still being nonbinary, I mean, that does not fit me. But that concept doesn't work well in my head for myself, doesn't mean I'm going to tell somebody else that they can't do that.

Ashley: Right.

Faith: And I'm always open to listening to why they identify that way despite their gender orientation. And I think that's the big thing, is that a lot of people want to ask like, “Well, why are you doing doing that?” And it comes off in a very harsh way and it's very much like, “I don't get it,” instead of just like, “Well, can you explain that to me?” And thus far I haven't had anybody explain it to me, but I just know that's a thing that's going on.

Ashley: So what's the difference, if there is a difference, like bi-sexual versus queer?

Faith: Queer is an umbrella term, pretty much. So like anybody in the LGBTQ community can say that they're queer.

Ashley: Oh, an umbrella term, okay. Because I was going to say, is that the same as being pan?

Faith: No. I mean, again, you can call yourself queer and you can be pan.

Ashley: Because pan is open to all things?

Faith: Yeah, and there is the new discussion of bi-sexual overtaking pan. Because while bi-sexual means to a lot of people who identify as that are interested in nonbinary people. So a lot less people are using pan and replacing it with bi.

Ashley: Okay, this might seem like a silly question, bi is two, so wouldn’t that be male, female. But then nonbinary fits in there because you’re both?

Faith: It's neither and it's both.

Ashley: I can see why – I’m like just love who you love and be what you want to be.

Faith: I mean, that's my whole thing is that I'm like, I'm just going to be myself separate from that and I'm going to love whoever I want.

Ashley: I like that the best. I understand the labeling, but I just, yeah, I just want to love all the people and respect the choices.

Faith: Yeah, the whole thing with labels is that people in the LGBTQ community tend to feel very outcasted and judged by people that they grow up around. And with finding these labels and putting themselves into these communities, it's really helpful for them and their growth. And that's why I support other people using the labels that they use.

Ashley: You've taught me so much about all this this year. I thought I was open minded, but I will say I was limited minded. I was open on the things that I knew. But as these new concepts and topics have come out, I've been like, “Oh, wow.” It challenges the brain because you're like, “Wait, what?” Then you sit with it. And I've been able to learn so much.

Faith: Yeah.

Ashley: I value that from you.

Faith: I'm glad to be a teacher.

Ashley: What else did we want to discuss today? Your feminism, that's something and your feminine qualities.

Faith: And we did, while we were on a run yesterday, we were discussing what we might talk about this episode. My journey with self-love and then the trouble that I've had the past couple of months with it as well. Because it wasn't just like, “Oh, look at me, I started running and now I love myself.” It was like, “Oh, I started running. And here's this whole new problem that is tearing me down.”

Ashley: Which is?

Faith: With my femininity I embraced my breasts for a long time, and the size of them. They brought me a lot of confidence and a lot of attention over the years. I would go to ACL and one time I went back behind a stage or something and this woman comes up to me and she's like, “Who's your doctor?’ I was like, “What?” And she was like, “For your breasts. Who did you go to? I want mine to look exactly like that.” And I was like, “Ma'am, I'm 16, this is my natural breast size.”

Ashley: Well, 16 year olds, I think that happens. It's not uncommon.

Faith: But it wasn't for me. I didn't have to do that. With losing weight, for a while they didn't get smaller and I was like, “Oh, this is so great. I still have these breasts that everybody's telling me that I'm going to lose when I start running, but they're not going away and I'm losing a bunch of weight.”

And then very suddenly I started noticing a change and it shifted my confidence very dramatically. And it was very hard to deal with for a while. And then I was like why is this so hard for me? It doesn't matter. I was 17 when that happened, I just turned 18. But it shouldn't be the center of my confidence because then I remembered all of the crying and going home being so upset because I was harassed at school because of my breasts and that kind of stuff.

And it was like with all that pain I was still so upset that they were gone. And that was hard. And we talked about it a lot when that was happening. And how even your friends who are adults go through the same thing. And then there was the point where I was crying, and we were driving and I was like, “I want to get surgery. I want to fix this.”

And the next day I came to you and I was like, “I don't know what I was saying. I don't want surgery. That's too much just for like something I'm insecure about.”

Ashley: Well, how do you feel about it now?

Faith: I'm still working really hard to love them. Obviously, because I'm in New York and I'm still keeping up with my heavy workout schedule, and then I'm walking a lot more, I'm a little nervous about how my body is going to change in the next couple of months. But I'm taking it one day at a time.

Ashley: This is the real work of self-love. Of knowing that I'm not these breasts, I'm not a skinny body, I'm not a curvy body, I'm not butt implants, I'm not beautiful eyes. These things that we do, the hair, all the stuff to make ourselves feel better.

And a lot of it is buying into the messaging of what you should look like to have that confidence and to feel good. Which is, if you don't, then you feel bad about yourself. So it gives you this thing to work against all the time, which is your real self. Because it will never, it will never be enough when you're buying into all that messaging.

And I am the first to talk about this because it's been a lifelong battle. Not just for myself, but women in general. And you get to a point where you're like, “Wow, actually no matter how skinny, and how great the breasts, or whatever, I still feel sad inside. There's this other thing.” And you realize it's not about the external and learning to love what you have if you lost it today, right? Like, if you didn't have this tomorrow, could you still love yourself?

And that's the real work of like how hard am I going to have to love myself – How hard do I have to love these breasts is the – Right? Because they're going to come and go and the body is going to change. But you inside, that never changes. But no one's really selling that message.

Faith: No, and that's quite unfortunate. I've done a lot of things over the past year and changed my habits to really love myself. And, of course, I'd be lying if I said I worked out only for my mental health at the beginning. Of course, I started working out because I wanted to look a certain way. I started running because I wanted to look a certain way.

And it was only like last month when I was in the gym and I looked at myself and I was like, “I don't really care right now about trying to lose weight or anything. It's more about what this is doing for me. This is the 30 minutes to an hour and a half that I spend on myself every single day.”

Ashley: It's amazing that you had that epiphany, I'm going to say so early on in your career of working out, because it's been a good solid year of it. That's a message that some people never get. And they just keep working out to have this body look a certain way so they can feel good about themselves. And that's an insatiable tank to fill.

And I realized in the past couple years, even like my hair and I was always changing the color and the cut and these things. And I'm like, “It doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter.” And the reason I run is purely mental health. Now, anyway. It started for completely different reasons and I just ground it out for years, and I hated running. But I wanted to look a certain way so it got me out there. It was very compelling at the time.

But my relationship with it now has so much more meaning because I count on it for me to have a good day, for me to feel good about life, to create these endorphins to keep this machine going. That is such a different take on it. And now, like I said, now I enjoy the running. I find joy and pleasure in it versus the years before of just like pounding the pavement trying to lose all the weight and be something else I wasn't.

Faith: Yeah, I think that the Central Park run last time was when that first shift started happening. Because that was the first run where I was like, “I'm not thinking about like how much weight I want to lose right now. This is just fun.”

And I felt so much accomplishment after finishing it. And I was like, “I feel great. I just did something I never thought I'd do. And that's why I want to keep running. I want to set these goals for myself and be able to take them on.”

Ashley: That's exactly right. The accomplishments that you get from it. There's so many accolades out there for you of I just did six miles, or I just ran this hill, or yesterday's run was the worst run but I finished it. All of those things. And you just get to build confidence and self-esteem.

Faith: It's pretty wild.

Ashley: It's called delayed gratification, not instant.

Faith: But I feel like it's kind of instant sometimes.

Ashley: That high, but it wasn't in the beginning.

Faith: No, definitely not. But now we're about to go tomorrow to run Central Park again. And I'm like, “I can't wait.”

Ashley: What occurred to me yesterday is I took, during the pandemic, or no, when quarantine kicked off and you and Nick were like, “What are we supposed to do?”

And I was like, “Put your heads down, do your work. You have schoolwork. Nick, you have this work. And we need to have really good rituals and routines. So you need to work out and we need to take care of ourselves and be in the best physical state of mind, condition as we can through this time because this is going to be difficult.”

And you two really took that to heart and developed these fitness routines. And it's like, I mean, and it just became a thing, every day you were showing up. And I stopped. I stopped running, I was going on long walks. But I couldn't get myself to run. And it was like here and there I would go for a run.

But it was like a year almost, not a full year but it was the longest stretch I've had in years of not running. And I was like, “How did that happen? My kids are fucking thriving right now. Nick's showing up all like super thick and muscular.”

Faith: Like a bulldog.

Ashley: Yeah and you’re like, “This is amazing,” and lean and mean. And I'm like, “What the fuck?” I'm like super depressed, I put on weight, I'm sad. And then I was like, “Oh yeah, I'm supposed to run for my mental health. And they're doing it and I stopped.”

But because you are running, it's gotten me back out. Because you invited me to go for that run and I was like, “Oh my God, yeah, duh.” And that’s why I was like, “Why are we going so fast? God, I can't keep up with you.” And that occurred to me, I was like, I have you to thank.

Which is so wild, this thing that for so long I've done, that I taught you and Nick about and you took on. And then I stopped and then I picked it back up because of you. Which is just ironic.
Faith: Yeah, because for years people would be like, “Oh, do you run?” And I was like, “No.” And they'd be like, “Oh, why not?” I'd be like, “Because my mom loves it.” I would say that to people. They'd be like, “Why do you hate running?” And I was like, “My mom loves it.”

Ashley: Yeah, no, you hated me and running though. We had some really hardcore fights and challenges out there. Which I don't think we need to share today. Where else are we with things?

Faith: I mean, obviously, with this move the one constant has been my running. I will say that. It's been my peaceful little morning thing that I give to myself. It's very nice. With all this chaos and change it's my one stable thing.

Ashley: Speaking of chaos and stability, being in New York how do you feel about this city in general? What are your first observations for you?

Faith: This city is thriving, and it's pumping, and it's beautiful. I love the city. I saw a rat the other day in the park when we were all hanging out. And then a rat ran through our little group and I was like, “Oh my god, it's so cute.”

Ashley: Don't touch those.

Faith: I saw three the other night and I was like, “Oh, look at all these Templetons everywhere, they're so cute and not.” Like you almost want to touch it and you're like, “That's just gross.” But it's not. They're just the weirdest creatures.

Ashley: Yeah, don't touch them though.

Faith: I won't. But I'm very happy with New York. And the place and the setting and I feel very confident in my navigation skills.

Ashley: You are really good with direction.

Faith: Thank you.

Ashley: Yeah, you did not get that from me.

Faith: No, I did not.

Ashley: I'm convinced that whatever direction I'm facing is north. And whatever my instinct says to do, like I need to do the opposite. But I never do. I'm like, “No, I can feel it. This is the way.” And I like legit time –

Faith: This is it.

Ashley: This is not selling me as a coach right now. That's why it's dating not directional. Love knows no direction.

Faith: Love is boundless.

Ashley: Oh, you know what though? I would like to share with everyone this is a silly little thing that we do that we love. We both love to read and we love bookstores.
So what we do when we go anywhere is we try to find a local bookstore so that we can support it. Get whatever our new find is that we've had on mind. That search in itself is always fun. And then I’m always like, “Can I get two, three receipts?” I get as many receipts as books so that we can keep them in our books so we can recall on where we got them, that trip.
And it's become like my favorite tradition I think that we as a family, and right now it's – And well it kind of was with Nick too.

Faith: Yeah, Nick came with us when we went to Woodstock. We went to a little bookstore there and he came. Golden Notebook.

Ashley: Yeah, The Golden Notebook.

Faith: I loved that place.

Ashley: It was so good.

Faith: It was so nice.

Ashley: Yeah, we got Nick a book there, gave him the receipt. And he left that book in Tribeca. So we bought it for him online because I was like, “You'll never lose your phone so you'll always have this book.” But yes, he was a part of it there. It's really just our thing.

Faith: Yeah, I love bookstores.

Ashley: All right, so let's wrap this up. But why don't you tell everyone what your top, I’m going to say three books have been and why?
Faith: I'm going to say number one, Wuthering Heights.

Ashley: Ooh.

Faith: Yeah, classic. I love it so much. There was so much joy brought to me just throughout the whole book. It was so funny to read just from being me in the 21st century and reading this old classic English book. And I was like, “Oh, it's so funny.” But like the Bulldog in it, I loved that. And it was so enchanting. So that's number one.

Number two, I'm going to have to say Normal People by Sally Rooney. I love that book. I read it on our first New York trip and just cried. It was so good. I think about that book a lot, actually. I just wrote all over that book, making notes in it. And I was like, “This is so good. Who could think like this?

Ashley: You finished that book faster than any other book, right?

Faith: I finished Conversations With Friends, but Normal People was like one of the first books that I really took off reading and I read it in like three days, in the three days that we were here. Yeah.

And then number three, oh, I hate this book but I have to say it.

Ashley: I knew it.

Faith: I'm going to say Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I hate that book, but I love his writing. I hate what he writes, but I love the way he writes it. And I think that is why I love that book so much because I can admire him and his talent without just being totally strucken by the plot.

Ashley: Very good recommendations, I like those. And then what has been your favorite run, so far?

Faith: Central Park. And I'll say this because there's a moment in the middle of the run that like, while it was happening I was like, “This is definitely one of my happiest memories, and it's happening right now.” But I always remember it. It's when we were going down that winding hill and we stuck our arms out like we were flying.

Ashley: That is the best, I remember that moment also. Well, we're going to do that again tomorrow.

Faith: But we go up that hill.

Ashley: Well, it has to come down on the other side. So that's the cool thing, what goes up, goes down, in all things.

Faith: In all things.

Ashley: Thanks for coming on. I love you.

Faith: I love you too.

Ashley: Okay, I'll talk to y'all next week. Any final words for the Renegades Faith?

Faith: Stay gay.

Renegades, thank you for tuning in and turning on each week. In addition to subscribe to this podcast on Apple or Spotify, I want to invite you to join me on another journey. I've created a space called The House of Other, it's an unedited guide to finding pleasure. People assume I know good sex, where to go for a date, what hotel to meet your lover at, what to wear, what toy will make you orgasm. They're not wrong. This has literally been my life's work from running a lingerie store for 10 years and curating the best lingerie and wellbeing products, as well as recommending new ideas and places and experiences that might enhance the energy between people sexually, evoke eroticism, to working with and coaching people on their dating and love lives, and writing about it.

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