We chat with the co-hosts of iHeartMedia’s ‘BFF: Black, Fat, Femme’

After debuting with a 12 episode season, iHeartPodcasts has renewed BFF: Black, Fat, Femme for another year! Hosted by queer icons Dr. Jon Paul Higgins (They/Them) and JoHo Daniels, BFF is a candid and hilarious podcast that gives voice to two of the leading queer, fat and Black changemakers while calling in the world to examine and understand what it means to love oneself unapologetically. I’d like to see if you’d be interested in an interview with them surrounding the renewal! 

Chief Operating Officer of iHeartPodcasts, Will Pearson says, “We’re thrilled to be renewing Black Fat Femme for a 2nd and extended season. Jon and Jordan bring such incredible energy and intelligence to the important conversations they have each week. And we look forward to many more brilliant episodes ahead.”

The show is ultimately a kiki between friends on all things pop culture, fashion, beauty, wellness, and daily life–born out of long phone conversations that Jon and JoHo would have together. Guests includePose co-creator Steven CanalsMayhem Miller (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Armand Fields (Queer as Folk reboot), author Clarkiesha Kent, and more. 

The podcast was developed via IHeartMedia’s “Next Up”, an initiative that is helping to aid more marginalized voices in creating and sustaining successful podcasts.

We had the opportunity to sot down for a discussion with Jon Paul and JoHo. Check it out below!

Dr. Jon Paul Higgins (left) and JoHo Daniels (right)

Kyle Jackson: What inspired you to create BFF?

Jon Paul: I think not having anything I could listen to that made me feel seen. Most shows are either very Black or very queer, but none of them ever make room or space to deal with the issues that fat Black queer non-binary/femme folks navigate. I wanted to show the world that we are here and for folks to not just see us, but hear us too. 

JoHo Daniels: What inspired me to be a part of BFF was not just because Jon was spearheading it, but also because I deeply believed in the purpose of the show. I think that right now, fatphobia is having a paradigm shift. People are beginning to recognize that fatphobia is wrong on a social level.

The next layer is understand how it affects us on a systemic level, and how fatnness intersects with us as Queer and Black people as well. All this to say, what inspired me to be a part of the show was the ability to be a voice in the mix and discuss on such a large platform like iHeart radio.

Dr. Jon Paul Higgins
KJ: Can you discuss your connection to body and femme positivity?

JP: Well, I think JoHo can speak to this well – but I think there is something to be said about the ways in which sexism/femme-phobia plays a role in cis-gender men talking about their bodies/the love of their body. I mean, we are taught from a really early age that our bodies must look/be a certain way all while navigating the game of desirability politics in the queer community. I think when you step back and say “I love me for how I look AND feel about me”, then it becomes easier to enjoy your existence in this life. 

JD: Well, let’s consider the ways in which both fatness and femmeness are put under a microscope and ostracized in our society. Fat people are treated like a problem to be solved, our health is continually put up for discussion – as is our desirability – and we have barriers to meaningful participation in society, from our primary education into adulthood.

Femmeness, I believe like anything related to the feminine identity, is seen as meek, emotional, and associated with weakness. I think in the queer male community, a throughline of these two points are desireability and how being both of things makes you less desirable to others. I can facilitate a loooong discussion about this! I believe that both of these are actually subversive in the best way, and my connection to body and femme liberation is the belief that carrying these identtiies with me only lend themselves to my changemaking. I am a fat, Black and Jewish cismale, who is femme as fuck with long acrlyics, wears heels, and gets shit done. They make me feel powerful. 

KJ: As a Black, queer fat man myself, I appreciate that you doing your part to uplift those in our community that experience fat phobia, femmephobia and racism all rolled up in one. Can you tell people some of the things that they may not know about how it feels to exist in such an intersectional space, and some of the difficulties that fat, queer gay people sometimes experience? 

JP: I think the thing that is hard about being in the walk/body is that rarely are spaces/places created with you in mind. It’s bad enough to have to negotiate your Blackness day in and day out, but then you add in the queer/fat/femme identity and it’s a lift. I think that is the thing that people rarely get. How much work it takes for us to be us and to love who we have become when the world is constantly telling us that we don’t belong. I think the podcast is great not just because it is authentic, but because it is existing in a space where BFF’s are rarely/if ever seen. 

JD: One thing I think about is that whenever news breaks about discrimination or othering, it relates to at least one aspect of our existence and we have to find a way to hold that, often when public support of one identity comes at the cost of putting down another. For example, how many times have we seen homophobia play out, and then anti-blackness enters the arena too, and now we are left to navigate this space while being tugged toward different sides.

This said, what’s beautiful about existing at these intersections is that it’s inherent to us how liberation must be intersectional to be achieved. I’ll go a step further into a present moment right now is what is happening with Ye and antisemitism. As a Jewish person I am witnessing where anti-Blackness comes into play in discussions of him getting his comeuppance. Inversely, I’m seeing folx pursue an “Us vs Them” rhetoric when it comes to how this situation is being handle juxtaposed to how anti-Blackness is handled. I’ll be clear in saying that many of these points are valid, but how am I supposed to hold this as someone who is both Black and Jewish. I know it’s escaping a bit of your question, but it’s in relationship to what it feels like to exist at the intersections.

As for being Fat and queer, well I believe my answer to the previous question covers that too. What I might mention additionally is that there is so much language put into “waiting for someone right to come along,” that I see for Fat folx. We’ll find someone who loves us for who we are, and I appreciate that rhetoric, but I feel it also diminishes us of a human experience of fucking up with the wrong people. I’m not saying I want to swim through a sea of mistakes to find love, but damnit I want to experience the journey, not just the destination.

JoHo Daniels
KJ: I know we all have our horror stories dealing with fatphobia, femmephobia and racism online, but what are some of the funniest things you’ve experienced on dating apps or in the dating world?

JD: My FAVORITE thing is when someone tells me that if I lost weight then I’d be more attractive. So what you’re saying is that I’m actually attractive, but you don’t want to say it unless I’m thin. Someone also told me I’d make a good house negro because I look like I cook well, which isn’t funny because racism and fatphobia, but funny because they thought “Yes, this is how I’ll open the conversation.” 

JP: Well, I am married, but I hear the stories friends tell me. I just think it is so odd that people on apps continue to list all the things they don’t want/project their insecurities on to other people. It’s like, you don’t need to be on Jack’d. You need to be on the Better Health app. 

KJ: What types of guys usually catch your attention the most?

JP: My husband! No seriously, he is everything I want in a person. A true pisces, he is kind and very intentional. It is what has kept me locked for 12 years. (laughs)

JD: I’m really broad in what my type is physically. I have a soft spot for beards and tattoos, and really embracing of any ethnicity. I think what catches my attention the most is seeing how they interact with people at restaurants/coffee shops – this is something you can always peep when people-watching.

Also, how they dress. Style in terms of expression is really important to me, and I do believe it conveys how someone sees themself and how they show up in the world. And I do mean style, not fashion like who are they wearing, I am drawn to how they are wearing.

KJ: If you had to pick a color that represents you most, what would it be and why? 

JP: About a year ago, I would have said red. But these days, I am a florescent Pink. I don’t really know why, except the color really just grabs me and I fucks with it. I feel like it’s a vibe and it’s totally the vibe I am on. 

JD: Lavender. I’ve always felt a kinship to this color, it’s mysterious and beautiful. It’s intriguing but makes you smile. In the pride flag, it is the color of spirit and I can’t ignore that either! I’ll just add and affirm that Jon looks BEAUTIFUL in a flourescent pink!

KJ: What can we expect next for the siblings of BFF? Any upcoming special guests? Teasers? Tea to spill? 

JD: I’ll leave this part to Jon since they are slaaaaying at the outreach for guests, but you will be gooped, gagged, and glittered by this show! Our guests represent all facets of culture and intersectionality so be excited! 

JP: We have some really cool guest coming on the show. That is really all we can say other than keep your ears glued and make sure you are listening regularly because this b*tch is on and it is recording!

More on Jon Higgins:

Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins aka DoctorJonPaul (they/them pronouns) is an educator, professor, national speaker, freelance journalist, thought leader and media critic who examines the intersections of identity, gender and race in entertainment. Dr. Higgins is a trailblazer who is creating, sharing, and crafting the stories their ancestors didn’t get to tell. Jon was named National Black Justice Coalition’s Inaugural “Emerging Leaders to Watch” and Business Equality Magazine’s “Top 40 LGBTQ People Under 40.” They are a Tedx Speaker, and their op-eds and personal essays have been featured in Essence, Ebony, Complex, MTV NEWS, Out Magazine, BET & Paper. With over 15 years of experience in leadership and social justice education, DoctorJonPaul is focused on using their voice and platform to highlight the joy and resilience of marginalized people. Dr. Higgins currently consults at United Artists, Amazon, and other media leaders. They have worked on inclusion projects with leaders in entertainment including Fox, the NFL, Apple, Disney, Instagram, Buzzfeed and GLAAD. They have also been a featured speaker for SXSW & TEDx and also competed on the latest season of Netflix’s hit show, “Nailed It”.

More on Jordan Daniels aka JoHo:

Jordan (he/him) is a Fat Black/Jewish/Queer writer for fashion, body liberation, philanthropy, and LGBTQ+ experiences. His work has been published in numerous publications around the US and globally. He is also co-host of the Black Fat Femme podcast, which focuses on celebrating the intersection of these identities through unique interviews, joy and compelling conversations with his cohost, Jon.Jordan particularly strives to create a pathway collective liberation through joy. By day, Jordan works in intersectional philanthropy, and by night he can found perusing coffeeshops for their best Pumpkin Spice offerings this season, exploring museums, or cooking elaborate meals for his loved ones at home while blasting Beyoncé.

Be sure to check out BFF: Black, Fat Femme on iHeartRadio!

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Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.