Morris produced the pilot episode of his podcast, SEGREgayTION, on June 10 as a space for Black people and other people of color within the LGBTQ+ community to discuss issues about the community.
On each episode, Morris brings in a guest to have meaningful discussions relevant to the intersectionality of being in the Black community or other communities of color, along with being a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Even if it’s just me and my friends that listen to it, I kind of want it to be therapeutic,” said Morris. “I want it to be cathartic for us, for us to have this space, this platform where we can have discussions that we can’t have with everyone in the community because they are so particular to our identity.”
Morris said he has been learning how to produce audio as he goes, using Soundtrap to edit and record and Anchor to upload and distribute. Recently, however, he received a grant from the Provost’s Committee on LGBTQ Life at UNC that will allow him to purchase audio recording equipment for his podcast.
Susan King, dean of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, spoke to the importance of work like Morris’ podcast.
“The importance is that we have insights from particularly our journalism students who are able to share with the public, insights that they have in terms of their lives, particularly their lives as minorities,” she said.
The most recent episode of SEGREgayTION featured Morris’ friend and rising sophomore Anwar Boutayba. The two discussed the entanglement of PRIDE and capitalist marketing campaigns. Specifically, they discussed the implications of “rainbow-washing.”
Rainbow-washing, as Boutayba explained in an interview with The Daily Tar Heel, is the use of the rainbow or the queer aesthetic to make profit. This advertising strategy is often not truly in support of the LGBTQ+ cause, he said, but rather is used to sell a new range of products, and hopefully create a new customer base.
“Are they doing anything to support that customer base outside of the corporate arena? No,” said Boutayba.
Boutayba said companies who propagate rainbow-washing often have shareholders who donate to publicly homophobic politicians or anti-LGBTQ+ causes, and cited Urban Outfitters, whose CEO has previously donated to Rick Santorum, as an example.
“There is no ethical consumption under capitalism,” said Morris. “Especially for someone like me on many levels, as a Black person and as a gay person, because racism and anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes are so deeply ingrained within a lot of our culture. So obviously it’s going to bleed over into how companies function.”
Morris and Boutayba both discussed the importance of being an informed consumer. Morris said he doesn’t think people understand the power of boycott anymore, and said it can be important while choosing what businesses to purchase from.
“I think people have to take it seriously that these companies don’t mean you any good. And until they prove that they do or they’re able to repair the community and the ways that they’ve broken it, then I think we have to really take a step back and assess who is our enemy and who is our ally," said Morris.
Boutayba said that because of his academic interests, Morris thought that he could bring some interesting insights to the podcast about rainbow-washing as an advertising strategy.
“All I want to do was support (Morris’) project because, obviously, he is my best friend,” said Boutayba. “But also, I mean, this sort of project needs to happen because a lot of queer men of color just don’t have that sort of representation.”
Morris reiterated the importance of holding these discussions on SEGREgayTION.
“I think even within the LGBTQ+ community, you have people who are so deeply connected to their LGBTQ+ identity that they think that it’s almost on the same level as being Black,” Morris said. "It’s not so much that I want people to play the oppression Olympics, but I want them to realize that if you can recognize that you’re being oppressed for being LGBTQ+, imagine what it’s like to be Black and LGBTQ+, and to get this oppression not only from the cis heterosexual world, but also within a community that’s supposed to be for you.”
Morris said he plans to create a syllabus for each episode of his podcast, which is intended to give context and background to the topics being discussed. The syllabuses may include work from other voices along with personal anecdotes from Morris.
“There’s only so much that I know, because I’m only 18, but I don’t want people to take what I’m saying to be like the Bible about this intersection about being a person of color and also LGBTQ+,” said Morris.
Morris said he wants people to realize that there’s work to be done internally within the LGBTQ+ community.
For himself, Morris said he hopes that SEGREgayTION will help him get more in touch with the duality of his identity.
“I’m very certain of my Blackness; no one can tell me otherwise about what that means to me and what that means to the world, and how I’m treated in that way,” said Morris. “But I think, because of what I've experienced from LGBTQ+ people, that I'm more hesitant to feel included within the community. So I hope this show makes me realize that there are people who are just like me, who love the community, who understand the duality of their identities.”
For the next episode of SEGREgayTION, Morris plans to focus the discussion on Black trans women. His podcast is available for listening on multiple listening platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Descriptions of each episode and other works highlighted by Morris are on his Medium account.