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Darnell Moore is promising a journey. The award-winning author of No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America, performer and activist is back at work with Being Seen, his acclaimed podcast on the gay and queer male experience.
Officially returning for its second season, the intimate series steeps itself in the gay and queer Black male space, guiding listeners through frank, nuanced, and often unheard conversations. In an exclusive interview with theGrio, Moore opens up about Being Seen, the difference between his writing work and the podcast space, and what he hopes season 2 accomplishes as it makes its way to the audience.
Season 2 of Being Seen launches with an episode entitled Fatherhood, which showcases multiple stories and conversations surrounding Black queer families and specifically Black queer fathers. Moore himself reveals to theGrio that upon completing the episode, he suddenly realized he had never heard a conversation of that nature before. He explained, “It’s interesting, literally after I listened to the final cut I said to myself, ‘I have never heard that conversation before.’”
He continued, “Black queer men are invisible (in media) in a lot of ways, Black queer fathers particularly…the podcast is to make legible that which societal forces have rendered invisible for so long. Queer fathers have always been here…it says something about the power of us owning and creating space within the public domain to push these conversations forward.”
Even outside of the subject matter, Being Seen breaks the mold in its structure and curation as well. With shorter episodes with their own specific “sonic landscapes”, Being Seen is a fully realized transportation in a podcast, allowing listeners to breathe deep and lean into the world as opposed to just overhearing a conversation. Moore explained to theGrio, “If I ever want to sit, I want to be transported, right? I want a journey…the narrative stitching is meant to offer complexity, not just in terms of what you’re hearing and in terms of experiences and narrator, but also in terms of sonic complexity, voice differences, and the music that is playing behind it.”
In a particularly crowded market in the world of podcasts, the shorter length of each episode is also intentional.
Moore shared, “We wanted it to be short and pithy enough within this landscape where there is so much information that’s being provided to folk within digital media…we wanted people to come in for the journey and stay.”
Known for his breathtaking writing, Moore also spoke to how Being Seen allows for a different form of artistic expression for him. “In ways that writing can be one or two dimensional in that you’re sort of constructing the world on a page with the hope that through those words someone can be invited into a large three dimensional world, I am freer, I think, when I am speaking or performing on stage…I don’t experience that inhibition as much. I have nervousness, but I feel freer. Also, it is a communal process, I’m in conversation with people.”
Communal is the operative word when describing Being Seen, as through its construction, themes and that gorgeous sonic landscape, come together to make space for the listener, gently joining the conversation, guiding them through the journey of each episode, which, on the other side, ends with some sort of catharsis.
As with many artistic endeavors, while crafted and intended for the audience, Moore has felt a personal impact from his podcast, taking something away from every episode. “After every conversation, I kid you not, I walk away so inspired. I walk away having learned something about an experience that I hadn’t had on my own. I have been invited into the life world of someone else…I’ve been deeply moved. I’ve laughed a lot, and what I think I’ve discovered is, taking time to make space to journey into the life world of someone else, is itself a cathartic and healing process.”
With season 2 just beginning, Being Seen continues to grow as its story continues, diving deep into specific themes through the Black LGBTQ+ lens, and with that, will eventually expand even further with underrepresented narrators. “My hope for the future is that my voice possibly gets replaced with that of a Black woman, a Black lesbian or a Black trans woman, or a disabled queer person, right? We create a conversation that can extend and be held by some other voices,” Moore said.
The first episode of season 2 of Being Seen, Fatherhood, is out now where podcasts are available.
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