Creating a comfortable space through chatting — Interview with members of Chill Gender Talk

In our 36th interview, we conversed with members of Chill Gender Talk, which is mainly composed of students of the ICU’s Gender and Sexuality Studies.

They release podcasts intending to create a safe space for anyone to freely chat. In the interview, we could feel their strong passion. 

Please read the interview article!

[Gender and Our Dialog]

This is a club composed of about 10 students, and Ringo and Okome participated in our interview.

Q1: What activities do you engage in as members of Gender and Dialogue (commonly known as JEDAI)?

We mainly operate a podcast called “Chill Gender Talk,” where we, students of Gender and Sexuality Studies at ICU, discuss topics such as gender and sexuality, and how to achieve a society. The podcast is a fun, chill, and accepting space for us to truly be ourselves. Originally, “Chill Gender Talk” was one of JEDAI’s activities, but with constraints like the number of members, we’ve made the podcast our main focus. Also, our members express their thoughts through platforms like X (formerly Twitter) and Note. JEDAI adopts a relaxed community stance, and we sometimes participate in activist movements together.

Q2: What specific activities do you engage in?

We release podcast episodes every Friday at midnight, with each lasting about 30 to 50 minutes. You can listen to “Chill Gender Talk” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, YouTube, and our website. We encourage you to search for “Chill Gender Talk” and tune in! We also have Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) accounts, so it would be great if you could follow us there too. ♡

___How do you decide on the topic for each episode?

Usually, we decide on the topic after selecting the members who will talk in the episode. Often, the current situations and interests of the participating members become the topics of discussion. But, we also discuss specific news in some episodes.

Q3. Since when have you started releasing podcast?

We released our first episode on October 30th, 2022. Since then, we have released over 50 episodes in a year.

Q4: Please tell us what inspired each of you to start your activities.

Several of us who attended a human rights-related event they heard in class were all deeply interested in gender and sexuality. Following the event, they had a lively conversation over dinner. During this conversation, an idea came to our minds: “We want to deliver this enjoyable conversation to people unfamiliar with gender!” “We want to create and deliver content that everyone can feel safe with!”. Ringo came up with this idea, and through subsequent discussions with others, Chill Gender Talk took its current form.

__What is the purpose of your activities? Is it to make gender and sexuality more relatable to those unfamiliar with them, or to provide a space where minorities can freely speak and listen?

Both are incredibly important to us. When recording podcasts, we are conscious of visualizing the thoughts of minorities by communicating everyday thoughts. At the same time, we strive to incorporate the voices of both who are and are not sexual minorities through letters we receive from our listeners.

However, from the beginning, our main focus was not on enlightening or explaining gender and sexuality to those unfamiliar with the topics. Chill Gender Talk is not a medium for learning from 0 to 1; instead, we aim to alleviate the struggles of sexual minorities and provide a safe space.

___Why did you choose the medium of podcasting?

We had a great time chatting after the event I talked about earlier. As an extension of that, we wanted to create a place where everyone could chat comfortably, so Ringo took the lead and chose podcasting as our medium. Also, we felt that podcasting allowed us to communicate without being trapped by lookism (the belief in measuring people’s worth by appearance) and allowed members to work relatively safely. We also thought that podcasts may increase accessibility.

Q5. How did you feel when you started?

We are also good friends in our private, so we felt like we were simply recording our daily conversation. Of course, we were careful about the way we expressed our thoughts, but it didn’t feel too special.

_____What do you keep in mind when recording?

To be responsible for our words, we keep in mind that we might be in a position to discriminate. If I feel uneasy about something I say while we are recording, I immediately talk with our members and consider how to tell our thoughts.

_____How did you grow your audience?

We’ve been publicizing it on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter), distributing clippings of the podcast on YouTube shorts, and promoting it on the CGS (ICU’s Center for Gender Studies) email list.

Fortunately, the number of views for each episode has recently stabilized at 100~120! We also use a lot of hashtags with words that people interested in the subject of gender/sexuality might search for. From the letters and messages, it seems that not only ICU students are listening to us, but also nationwide, which makes us very happy!

Q6. When do you find it rewarding?

We have received so many very friendly letters from our listeners, and each one is valuable to us. We are happy when we feel that Chill Gender could be a safe space and it has contributed to someone’s curiosity and peace of mind.

_____How do you receive the letters?

We have a Google form at the bottom of our homepage, so that’s the main place we see. Sometimes we also receive them via direct message on Instagram or Twitter.

Q7. Is there anything you have noticed about your activities or anything you would like ICU students to know? Also, if you have any ballet pieces you would like to recommend to ICU students, please let us know.

I would like ICU students to know that there are many more people of their generation and older generations who are concerned about gender and sexuality, need help, and want companionship than they thought. I hope that students will learn that the university and society are places where those with diverse sexualities and identities can coexist, and if necessary, actively learn, engage in dialogue, and do their utmost to make it a place where everyone can live comfortably and naturally. It is a privilege to be able to live in a place of indifference. Please look at your privilege and use it appropriately. I also hope that ICU students who are suffering or feeling lonely will take advantage of our activities and know that there are people they can rely on, such as students in CGS and Gender and Sexuality Studies major.

___Have you ever collaborated with other organizations working within the ICU?

We had a guest once, who was a representative of the Oku+Path project, which places sanitary pads across the campus restrooms.

It is difficult to reach a collaboration unless we know the person well and have confidence that we can trust them. There are a certain number of people who listen to our podcasts, so I don’t want to send out inappropriate messages. We want our listeners to feel safe, so we are very careful about this.

Q8.What do you want to appeal to or convey to society?

“Personal is Political” is the core idea of feminism. Since we deliver the chats about our personal thoughts and the state of our personal gender and sexuality, we believe that our content embodies the fact that each of us is worthy of being heard and thought. Through our chats, we want to tell our listeners and all those who find it hard to live in this society that you and your experiences are important.

__What do you mean by “Personal is Political”?

It means that politics is not a matter of public politics, especially cis heterosexual males, but a matter of everyone’s (including women) private. It is a concept that became important in the first wave of feminism, based on the idea that “our voices also need to be heard”. I like this term a lot, and I think that Chill Gender is the embodiment of it in its activities.

Q9. What are some of the things you would like to do or challenges you would like to take on in the future?

We have had collaborations in the past, and we hope to continue to invite wonderful guests and hold events where we can interact with listeners! It’s in the works!


Instagram: @chillgender_icu

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