Layer Cake (A Series of Stories)


These storytelling/spoken word pieces chronicle my experience of discovering and claiming a bisexual identity. As I looked around, I had a very difficult time finding bisexual specific narratives at all. And then on occasion when I did see a reference to anything bisexual, the stories were not usually being told by people who self identify as bisexual. Additionally, I really wasn’t seeing, hearing, or interacting with anything that felt like it resembled my particular story. These resources and depictions were not mirroring back to me–pieces of myself. Some people meet a specific person and they have an “aha” moment. Some people have deep-seated religious angst that they battle for long periods of time.  In my case, I ran around the world feeling like an “in between” categories person. I ran around feel like I didn’t exist. There wasn’t a lot of bisexual representation or visibility around me.

The closest thing I did have to any sort of representation were media depictions of sexually curious straight women who retained their straight identity. And this was vogue for about a decade. TV shows would trot them out during sweeps week to hike their ratings, and it had everything to do with the male gaze and nothing to do with authentic human journeys. And so I really wrestled for a long time about how far straight could flex, how far it could bend before it became another category. Where does it start? Where does it end? And when I looked at the other binary expression of gay, I knew that wasn’t me. I had a number of meaningful attractions/relationships with people of different genders than my own.

There were a series of personal experiences building upon themselves over time and then finally revealed themselves as a discernible and repeating pattern in my life. My stable state is fluid and diverse romantic and personal attraction. As I experienced each of these events in real-time, they felt completely random and unrelated.  When I could eventually look backwards at a large enough stretch of my own life, and when I finally had the benefit of perspective, I began to recognize fluidity as a thread that had been weaving  itself all throughout my life.

These stories isolate a handful of the personal narratives that unfolded and build toward a discovery of bisexual identity.

A few notes.  I use a very simple and rhythmic nursery rhyme structure, and this format is intentional. In recent years, this whimsical sing-song rhetorical style has become a mainstay of conservative politicians. If you watch campaign speeches of Sarah Palin, she frequently uses a  “folksy” nursery rhyme style on the campaign trail and so do others of her ilk.  I live smack in the heart of the part of Ohio where red meets blue and there are always numerous campaign stops jockeying for counties around me that have the potential to flip to either red or blue. So I wanted to claim this form and use it in a subversive way.  It’s often being used by conservative politicians to incite a gospel of fear and whip up fundamentalist and evangelical voters as politicians as the fan the flames of cultural tensions around LGBTQ people, race, economics, etc..

So I wanted to use this same form to speak to that exact same demographic. Rural and Suburban conservatives around me.  I wanted to slow down this often hostile conversation about LGBTQ people, humanize it, and steep them in stories.  I was also interested in using my real personal narratives to build a bridge and connections between straight woman and queer women. Many evangelical straight women bump up against the borders and boundaries of their faith and struggle to reconcile their faith and sexuality. This isn’t unique to queer people. It’s unique to anyone who is earnestly trying to negotiate between upholding a conservative faith system, and defining themselves, their core values, and experiencing life that may challenge it.

I’ve done these pieces for small groups of about 20-25 people a handful of times. And these are really meant to be performed for small and intimate groups where I have the luxury to really explain and talk about the pieces. These take awhile to listen. If you are not a patient person and you have a 5-10min listening limit, skip to the last piece, “Salvation.”

Final Question: I am contemplating turning these into YouTube shorts ala “The Feels.” And I’d be interested in feedback if people would appreciate that style/format for these pieces.

Layer Cake- “A Sara for My Sara”

Layer Cake- “Recess”

Layer Cake- “Say Anything”

Layer Cake- “Son of a Preacher Man”

Layer Cake- “Salvation”

3 thoughts on “Layer Cake (A Series of Stories)

  1. These spoken pieces are poignant, and so filled with multifaceted “layers” of information for your target audience. And a greater audience. I have several specific thoughts/suggestions/inputs that I would like to share, but a comment box to everyone subscribed to the blog doesn’t seem to be the appropriate platform. I also have a great layer-cake photo that I would like to share (though now you have this wonderful new one — complete with the raspberry filling!) As soon as I started listening, my saved-photo was in my mind, another uniquely appropriate one. But I don’t think I can add it to a comment. This work is VERY important, and needs to get out there…


      1. Thank you, Marcy. It might take me a couple days to gather my thoughts and pass them on, but know I will. All best, Josie


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