September 15, 2022
EP. 128 — Sophie Duker
Comedian Sophie Duker joins Jameela this week to discuss the childhood experiences she is still processing in therapy, the experience of receiving backlash for an out-of-context joke and how unsafe it made her feel, why her pansexuality makes her joyful, coming out to her mom onstage and her mom completely missing it, what to expect at a sex party, and more.
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You can find transcripts for this episode here: https://www.earwolf.com/show/i-weigh-with-jameela-jamil/
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128 — Sophie Duker
Jameela [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil. I hope you’re well. This is a podcast that kicks shame right in its dick. Now, on today’s episode, we discuss many things with our fabulous guest, Sophie Duker, who has such a brilliant mind and such a wonderful, funny, cool, aloof voice in British comedy. And we speak on a multitude of her experiences. She’s lived such a full life in such a short time. But one of things that stands out to me is polyamory. It’s a subject we really delve into alongside Pansexuality and having to come out to your parents. And she had to come out to her mother twice, and she tells that story brilliantly in this episode, as well as the experience of being a black pansexual woman and how to navigate the sometimes labyrinth that can be polyamory within that. And polyamory is a subject that you guys have been asking me to discuss for a long time. I was able to find Bob, the drag queen, to discuss it with me, but I would love to have it from a multitude of different experiences. And Sophie came along like an angel from the sky and was willing to discuss it in such depth and with such humor and such frankness, a kind of frankness that we really need because polyamory is on the rise and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I think a lot of us fear it because we don’t understand it. And so Sophie breaks down everything I feel like we could ever want to know about this subject. So you asked. I have delivered, and I think I couldn’t have found a better guest than her. So please enjoy the excellent Sophie Duker. Sophie Duker, welcome to I Weigh. How are you?
Sophie [00:01:46] I’m well. I’m melting, but I love to melt. So it’s a great day. A hot day in the UK and a hot day for me.
Jameela [00:01:54] Hottest day in history for the UK.
Sophie [00:01:57] Yeah, it’s like the country. The nation has become a literal garbage fire. It’s like it’s. We’re living in a metaphor.
Jameela [00:02:05] Why are you in such a good mood?
Sophie [00:02:09] Because I love sun, even though I can’t enjoy it. Because at the moment it’s the summer. Which means it’s a busy, busy time for comedy. Through my summertime sadness, I just think the world gets nicer when it’s all rosy outside.
Jameela [00:02:22] And how’s how’s you’re mental health at the moment.
Sophie [00:02:26] Oh, I sent a like hey, you up? To my therapist. My ex therapist. I texted my ex recently, but the joke was that my ex is my therapist, who I no longer say because I felt a bit overwhelmed. I don’t exactly know you you pronounce overwhelmed? Overwhelmed. The whelm was too much.
Jameela [00:02:48] I enjoy the over being more pronounced.
Sophie [00:02:51] Overwhelmed.
Jameela [00:02:52] Right.
Sophie [00:02:53] I was I was nearly getting overwhelmed. I felt like I. But yeah, I texted her, I was sort of like, hey, like she’d always framed. Like she’s like, if you ever want to come back and have, like an emergency session, you can do so. And I think just calling them emergency sessions kind of adds a sense of like crisis to it. I’m not sure that’s the best thing to call them, but just maybe needed another session.
Jameela [00:03:17] A top up.
Sophie [00:03:17] A top up! Would you like a crisis stopper? An apocalypse? So I think that I’m in a state where I feel like I have to be quite careful with my mental health because I know I’m putting myself under a lot of pressure, but I’m not in crisis, it’s not urgent. I just feel that I need to regularly get my ducks in a row and maintain things. How are you?
Jameela [00:03:40] Is that an? Thank you. No one ever asks me that ever. No I feel I feel extremely externally distressed, but internally, very at peace with myself. I’ve spent a year of kind of radically learning how to understand myself and kind of feeling that because of the podcast, there’s pressure to walk the walk. I bring all these people on who teach us so much about how to become authentic or how to feel good and how to feel strong. And so I’m trying my best to really listen to them, heed their advice, learn as much as I can, and it’s genuinely making a bit of a difference as I hope that’s the case for other people listening to this podcast and that not only I am benefiting, but I’m feeling, I feel like ready for the fight, but I definitely feel anxious about the fight that’s coming up.
Sophie [00:04:33] Yes! I think that’s a perfect way to put it. I feel like during Panacotta Times 2020, everyone got stopped in their trajectory. Maybe some people. I don’t know reap the profits had a wonderful time, but.
Jameela [00:04:44] Six people.
Sophie [00:04:45] Six people did really well. And then now I think people are sort of feeling not optimistic because there’s nothing really to look forward to but like ready to start again, ready to start fighting again, to start thinking again, to start planning again. Whereas I think we were kind of stopped in our tracks in a bit like I just have to sit here with everything. But now I think there’s like moving towards whatever is it that’s next.
Jameela [00:05:12] So, so tell me, like, how what’s what’s going on?
Sophie [00:05:17] What with the world?
Jameela [00:05:17] Why are you texting your ex therapist? No where was that coming from?
Sophie [00:05:21] All right. Um, I think. I think it’s just the sort of. I think is something that I’ve been like fighting to do, and it is to stop being wishy washy and uncertain and taking a bit of everything and not making decisions. When I go to a hotel buffet, I love for the first bit of the hotel buffet to like take everything that I can possibly like the tiny bit of everything that I can possibly like. Like the people that just go and be like, I want walnuts and eggs are you know, monsters, because that’s a terrible combination. But some people go and know exactly what they want. They just want bacon. They just want waffles. I have to taste everything to make sure. And then on the second round, I can double down.
Jameela [00:06:04] What’s wrong that?
Sophie [00:06:04] I feel like. I feel like I want to see my not my final form because I’m still in my 30s. That is it’s not going to happen until probably right on my death bed, I’m like, this is it. And then I’ll go. But I think I sort of want to make deeper, longer decisions about my life and how I want to be in the world. Whereas before I was flitting about, just trying a bit of everything, I think I can still change my mind to be wrong.
Jameela [00:06:31] You just want to be more intentional.
Sophie [00:06:32] I want to be more intentional. And because global pandemic was a year with a lot of trauma, a lot of change for the world, but also and more importantly for me, I’m kind of looking now at something that I can make completely mine and feeling a bit wibbly about it. Also, I’m very busy, which is something that has come with success, which is amazing. But also I don’t I don’t know how to deal with that. I’m not that girl. So yeah. Sure.
Jameela [00:07:04] How has it been rising to prominence in the UK?
Sophie [00:07:11] Oh. Rising to prominence. I feel like a submarine. It has been. Surreal. It’s been surreal. There’s a lot of fun parts to sort of people knowing who you are because as a comic, like going to clubs and just being assumed to be like the girlfriend of a comic or a punter or like having people just dismiss you as like a small black woman and then going to places and people feeling like, Oh no, this is a person of some importance and status, so I’ll give her the same amount of attention. I would say a white man or a successful man feels kind of good. It feels on a lot of occasions that I just Alice in Wonderlanded it. I’ve just sort of, like, got inside the telly. I’m like suddenly sitting here on Mock the Week or on Taskmaster. And I don’t think it’s this feels like a very poor me question, but no one really tells you how to deal with it. No one tells you how to deal with that shift in people’s expectations of you, the amount which you have to be on and how you’re kind of a lot of times the only person who really can advocate the most clearly for yourself. So it’s been a it’s been a riot. It’s been it’s been a riot.
Jameela [00:08:27] And would you say is majority good and you feel obviously I know that I imagine you similarly to me and a lot of people feel very grateful for the perks. But also in a generation that wants to be famous more than any generation I’ve ever seen before because of how easy it’s been made on TikTok. I do think it’s really important to be able to have those conversations with someone who’s risen to prominence in this very exposing time in the world. Like, I want to kind of pick your brain about what that does, what being perceived so regularly does. And then also, especially as a black woman in the UK, which I know they say is completely un-racist. The Tories say that we do not have a racist bone in our colonial body. But it’s oh, it’s an interesting it’s an interesting time. And I imagine it is an extremely interesting experience to be a black woman coming up in the United Kingdom, a place where until very recently, most black women just left and came to America from prison.
Sophie [00:09:33] They just got out.
Jameela [00:09:34] We just had Gina Yashere like like, like on, on the podcast and London Hughes and all these different people like Tandy Newton saying that she left the UK, because she didn’t want to always have to play a slave, like she wanted to be able to have nuance in her career and be able to play all kinds of different people. And for me, it’s exciting to see the rise of people like you or Lolly, you know what I mean? Like to to to see that people are starting to be able to finally be seen in our homeland.
Sophie [00:10:05] Yeah, I think though. I think what’s great about people like London and Gina, is that I think that. I think the UK loses amazing people and the people that deserve to be beloved in the place of their birth or their chosen home, the place that like the British people, deserve to be beloved in Britain, but they only sort of get that attention once they’ve been lauded or praised or recognized elsewhere. By then, it’s almost too late because they’re fractured. They have ties to other places, their connections with other people. And they, of course, will always speak to Britain and be representatives to Britain. But we really have the power to push people up from the ground, and we don’t. Um, I am here, I am in the UK. It’s not that I am not planning to leave ever, but I think what’s been what’s been interesting about me about being a black woman in the UK coming up is that I am poised for people not to want to receive me well. I’ve always sort of doubted it. Like when I started doing comedy I was like, people aren’t going to get what this is. People aren’t going to find me funny. People aren’t going to understand my experience as a black woman I’ve never trusted that I will be instantly accepted and. I think that’s made me more conservative, not Tory, but more conservative with my choices and what I’ve been prepared to do. And I thought a lot of things weren’t for me like acting. When I got self tapes through, I would always be like, this is like a cleaner or a slave or mammy character, and that’s still the kind of parts that I get through. And then in terms of the reception to me, I think sometimes British people are very keen to have a Mo Farah or keen to have a comedian that fits into someone that’s just uncompli- of course, Mo Farah’s anything but uncomplicated, but it’s keen to have something that, at least for the time, fits into the narrative that they feel comfortable with. But if you’re a black person talking about race in a way that isn’t just jokey and how funny are my extreme, over-the-top exotic relatives, then they start to feel challenged. And that kind of tempers how they receive you.
Jameela [00:12:26] Yeah.
Sophie [00:12:27] And yeah, when I when I was when I was on Frankie Boyle’s show doing Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, that’s a show that I feel is really brave, talks about good things, gives people space to make points and also to make mistakes. And I got a really, really, I think, fascinating reaction off the back of something that I said on the show, which was a joke that was written into the show. It was the title of a motion that had the words Kill Whitey in it. I repeated it after it had been like put up on the boards. And Frankie had said it when I was making a point about Baldwin, and it was kind of an incongruous moment and a big show about race. But what that was drawn out to mean for me and for the show and for the BBC was so unnecessarily explosive and cynical and used me as a black woman as just the focus of targeted hate about the left and snowflakes and wokery and basically everything that some people think is challenging white Britishness.
Jameela [00:13:43] It’s also stoking replacement theory, you know what I mean? Like it’s it’s like the fact that people are convinced that minorities don’t just want equality, that we want revenge, and that we we want to erase everyone now and and really like, honestly, like, nobody has time for that. We’re not interested. We really just want to live a normal life would really just like to be at peace. I can’t think of anyone I know who is a minority living in a predominantly white country. I know that we have minorities hurting other minorities in other countries, both here and in the U.S. like in the UK, all I’ve seen is most of us just wanting to be left the fuck alone.
Sophie [00:14:18] Yeah.
Jameela [00:14:19] Trying to.
Sophie [00:14:20] Let me be.
Jameela [00:14:21] We see the same thing with trans people where they’re just like they’re trying to convert all the children. It’s like they’re really not.
Sophie [00:14:26] That they’re literally just trying to get jobs and get paid and be safe. Like no one revenge.
Jameela [00:14:31] Exactly. And so kill Whitey. That wasn’t even your original joke or?
Sophie [00:14:37] No so like in the show, it’s like a normally like a debate show. There are two motions that Frankie proposes at the start. And one of them was, oh, basically, Black Lives Matter obscures the complexities of a world where we all need to club together and kill Whitey. So it was like a fancy way of saying white people are the problem. But it’s written as one of Frankie’s dark jokes.
Jameela [00:14:56] 100%, which he is very known for. But you are talking about the concepts of whiteness, white supremacy. You’re not talking about white people. And the media knew that. And I watched that whole media storm where they just, like, just threw you to the wolves with the headlines.
Sophie [00:15:14] Yeah. That was a hell time. Not so much because of the hate that I got, like, the death threats and the people sending me, like, pictures of gorillas or ask me if I wanted to murder their like, white children. But because of all they like, my baby is Caucasian. Do you want to marry him?
Jameela [00:15:38] Yeah.
Sophie [00:15:40] It was. Yeah. Not fun. There was a lot of direct vitriol and I could see that my name or my social media details have been posted on other sites so that bots would contact me or people who were like or like weren’t speaking English and hadn’t seen the show but was sending me messages in like Russian or other languages, and just like the sort of internet machine was generating a lot of bile my way. But I think when you get targeted like that. I just didn’t have so much of how you access the world. Access work, access friends is in that arena. And so it just became completely contaminated. Like, I couldn’t engage with it. I couldn’t go on Instagram for pleasure because all that stuff would be there or a pop up or people would be working stuff on my posts. I couldn’t go on Twitter because I couldn’t see stuff to do with my gigs because all that stuff was on there and it was sort of a lot of like, hate is like it’s violent. It was like intaking a lot of violence, at an incredibly violent time already. Like we’ve been discussing Black Lives Matter because it had been a really big year for anti-black racism. And it’s an everlasting issue. And there are so many traumatizing images and like almost memes of death or like surveillance and police that are on the Internet all the time. So from a time when black people were particularly vulnerable and it didn’t just happen to me, it happened on Britain’s Got Talent. It happened to other black celebrities at the time. I was being made to intake even more violence if I dared to be visible or present on any platform at all. If that makes sense.
Jameela [00:17:20] It does make sense. And I’m really, really sorry that that happened. And I know exactly what that feels like. And, I, I always feel extremely protective over anyone who has to go through that. It’s so dehumanizing and so intense. And there’s really just it’s so modern still as a phenomenon that really only has existed in the last maybe six years. I feel like around Me Too, was when we really started to recognize the power of the pile on, and like the genuine, like the the positive power of piling on until we are heard by powerful institutions that otherwise used to ignore us. But because it’s so modern, it’s such a modern phenomena. And I say modern, but also it’s very ancient as well. Like it’s very evocative of like the witch trials and the stocks and like lumping vegetables at people’s heads and cutting their heads off in front of the entire town. Like, it’s, it’s, it’s a new way of doing something that is just seems to be so in our nature. And I think because it’s a new way and because technology works so fast, no one really has an answer as to what the fuck you should do or how it feels or how to peel yourself out of what is a very surreal experience because it’s virtual. So you’re not in this active danger, but your brain tells you when you’re being sent for online that there is essentially a sabertooth tiger right in front of you. Like we haven’t updated to understand that this harm is psychological and that is definitely important and valid. But also I could just turn my phone off and not look at it and not see any of these things. There’s no real protocol for when the Internet turns on you and it doesn’t just turn on women or people in the public eye or people of color like and like in the public eye. This can happen to anyone. Well, how did you feel during that?
Sophie [00:19:08] It was extremely not good.
Jameela [00:19:11] Yes.
Sophie [00:19:11] But so not extremely good. But it was that I couldn’t even though it is limited to your screens, it affected so much of my other life, like affected my sleep. It affected like how I could work. It affected my access to stuff and access to people. And of course, when people saw me, if I went to do like a run through for like a panel show or something like that, people would be like, Oh my God, I heard about this. I’d have to like confront it and tell the story, like code the violence into my body by telling people what happened.
Jameela [00:19:40] Did you feel unsafe as well, being a stand up comic? Because I mean, like stand up comics that so many of them, their job is at night and they’re going on stage and they’re kind of not really protect- no, stand up is rocking up with security, you know what I mean, and it’s late night and everyone’s drunk and feeling a bit free and feeling a bit shaky. Were you gigging at that point or had you stopped?
Sophie [00:20:02] I think that I think at that particular point I was doing some gigs, but they were less, less so because of the virus. I think.
Jameela [00:20:10] Were you afraind?
Sophie [00:20:10] I was afraid for my I became incredibly paranoid about revealing where I was going to be and about where I lived, which I still am. And I’m moving house and nobody can find me. No, because my landlady is a character and wants to kick us all out in a month’s time. Aside from that, I felt worried about. Yeah, sort of exposing. Exposing myself to. A sort of random act of I’m going to take this further. I think there are certain people who get into their heads that like people literally were sending me death threats and I was like, some one of these people could live in London. One of these people could be monitoring something to give me a scare or teach me a lesson. And I could be like, not well themselves, could be confused, probably hasn’t like just any excuse to like, make an example of me. I think something that is notable and should be noted is that there isn’t structure and practices in place to protect people that it happens to because no one at the BBC was expecting that to happen. They’d okayed the title of the motion. They were like, This is fine to put out on television. And even after the episode was recorded, no one noted it as something outlandish because it wasn’t. It was part of a debate. It wasn’t a particularly provocative thing to say, incorporates the words of the motion. But when it happened to me, the BBC were like quite slow to take any sort of decisive action to protect me in a sort of external public way. Everyone, of course, was like, there’s lots of support. And like you can have, there’s like counseling available to you and resources available to you. But I think that. Broadcasters and institutions don’t know how to and are scared of standing by something that they know to be right. Just because there are some people that have a strong difference of opinion. I feel like since that having happened to me has made me much more conscious of what people might try to pin to my name. And I don’t think I have what I think of as a sort of boomer fear of getting canceled and struck away from public life or being visible, being able to do what I love. I see it as sort of really wanting to be able to stand by what I say and what I do and what I put my name to, whether it’s serious or whether it’s silly and. I think so much, so much comedy, so many shows in the UK are still made for an amorphous middle of the road person that doesn’t really exist. And it’s really they’re really reluctant to. Yeah. Let people speak truthfully about how they feel. And I know that can also be funny.
Jameela [00:23:08] And has it changed the way that you are going to put yourself out there? Or has it made you feel more because it’s made me more defiant. Because I realize it doesn’t make a fuckin difference whether I’m polite or not because of the color of my skin and because of my gender. People are going to read aggression into anything I do. I write messages with like love, hearts and tweets and like so careful and it’s always Jameela Jamil slams Jameela Jamil dunks Jameela Jamil sets the anus on fire. It’s also extremely I mean, not really, but it’s always like it’s just always these like hyperbolized bonkers, very violent. There’s a lot of violence and like imbued into all of my actions. And as a dark skinned black woman in the United Kingdom.
Sophie [00:23:50] Yeah.
Jameela [00:23:51] I imagine, like you already have quite a like a mild manner when you deliver your comedy. And I really hope that that what’s happened doesn’t subdue you.
Sophie [00:24:04] I think that it did temporarily.
Jameela [00:24:07] Right.
Sophie [00:24:08] I think it just made me less that I wouldn’t say things that I believe, but I think it made me less reluctant to touch those topics. Like, I don’t want to tweet everything that comes into my head anymore. I don’t want to tweet necessarily about politics all the time. I’m definitely more guarded with that. But I feel now. Defiant. I feel now that it’s ready to talk. I feel like it made me look further into myself and think about who I was and what I needed and healed myself. But I am ready to talk about that traumatic stuff again. I’m ready to talk about blackness again. I’m ready to advocate for people. And I think it was just sort of like a temporary setback when you get stunned in a fight to take stock and just be like, what happened?
Jameela [00:24:51] Yeah you also no good for you, but also protect yourself, for fuck’s sake. Like you don’t have to take on that whole fight on your own. Like there’s still not enough people that have been elevated to that position. And so you don’t have to speak for all black people in Britain as if they are a monolith. I also I think I just feel like I, I hope you can strike the balance of like don’t let them bite you down, but also protect yourself whenever you need, which is a fine line to walk that I’m still figuring out myself. Another thing you’ve been outspoken about for a while is sexuality, which again, within at least for my mates who are from within the black community in Britain, bisexuality and homosexuality, these are things that were so untouchable to our generation. And I feel like it’s really fucking brilliant that you’ve been open about yours.
Sophie [00:25:43] I sort of don’t really know any other way to be. I think I got called like by comedy early on, which it has been at points, got called political and I was like, I’m literally just like a black girl talking about like Saved by the Bell and like my daddy issues. But I feel like so, so many parts of my identity are inherently political for people and feel like they’re a statement. I only just feel like people have reflected back to me like, Oh yeah, you talk about being queer or you’re like a big queer voice or a big queer figure. Being queer can be fucking amazing. And when your life is amazing or great things happen to you, you want to shout about it. But as a queer person, I know that also comes with doing work and showing up and supporting people that are more marginalized than me. And that’s just a whole there’s a whole amount of stuff that just comes with who I am. So I’m open about it because if I’m joyful, I want to like if I’m joyful, I want it to show and if that’s an issue in a community, in the community in the queer community or in society as a whole, it’s fucked up if we don’t talk about it. It’s fucked up. If we don’t talk about trans people, it’s fucked up. If people don’t feel comfortable enough to say the gender of their partner or what their own gender is or be outspoken about those things. And I still monitor that. If I’m getting in a taxi from a gig and someone asked me about my boyfriend, which I don’t have any more small tear, I so I know that was mean he’s lovely, but we’re just not dating anymore. They ask about like whether or not I have a boyfriend-
Jameela [00:27:17] Is there anything worse than someone saying small tear when referring to you as their ex. Oh my God. That just sent a shudder through my body of like I hope no one says that about me.
Sophie [00:27:31] You’ll feel it. He’ll just suddenly, like, touch his cheek and be like I feel like someone just really, really negs me from afar.
Jameela [00:27:39] Someone just sent for me, for on a podcast I go, I’m sorry. So you’re no longer with your boyfriend.
Sophie [00:27:43] No longer with my boyfriend. But if they sort of assume that you must have a husband or a boyfriend or like ask if you’ve got anyone in your life and that person is not a man. I don’t necessarily feel like I have to disclose to every taxi driver that I’m queer, but I think that by making less compromises and putting pulling less veils over things in my life, like you’ve got visitors and throwing a veil over something that you’re not ready to show them. Just being like, this is. This is what it looks like. This is what’s happening right now.
Jameela [00:28:12] I know that you came out like your mother on stage,.
Sophie [00:28:18] Oh god.
Jameela [00:28:18] But when did you sort of come out to yourself and to your mates? Was it always inherent for you?
Sophie [00:28:26] Oooh. I came out so myself. I think in my early twenties that after I’d left uni I was sort of had a very. I had very always I’ve always had. And I think straight women have this queer women have this chaotic romantic friendships with women, chaotic romantic friendships with women that felt very intense and a sort of appreciation of how incredible women can be. But I think that those emotions, because I didn’t understand them, would get transposed into jealousy or idealization. I wouldn’t allow those feelings to be romantic or sexual just because it didn’t make sense, because I am attracted to men and male body people. It just didn’t make sense to me. So I didn’t have a language to express it or an arena in which to express it. And even at university, I think people who are able to will feel empowered to come out at a relatively young age. The ones that I interacted with didn’t fit, didn’t look like me, didn’t seem like me, but like their parents must have been more liberal or understanding or just have a different context. I didn’t have that. I couldn’t see that I had that support system or that language to talk about my queerness.
Jameela [00:29:51] And so it was after university.
Sophie [00:29:54] So yeah after university, I started being like, Oh, okay, maybe I like maybe I fancy this particular maybe I’ve got a crush on my best friend. I’m interested in women when I’m out, I’ve been looking at them, I’m thinking about things. And so in a very well trodden a bisexual journey, I think I was like, Oh, I have to have experiences with a woman. That’s what I wanted to I want to like like, I want to try before I literally bi. But I didn’t. Cancel me! Cancel me now the podcast is over.
Jameela [00:30:26] Oh, she wants to buy. She’s trafficking. She wants to erase all white people. Very dramatic.
Sophie [00:30:33] I want to erase them. I want to erase that joke I just made. Try. I tried before I buyed, but now I buyed. I bought.
Jameela [00:30:41] Ok.
Sophie [00:30:41] And sold all my queerness. I think I just wouldn’t. The kinds of relationships I was open to was still quite limited and I did have some people a comic Eleanor Tiernan used to talk about having a straight bit in her head, being like don’t do that gay thing. Don’t do that gay thing because they’re worried about what it might mean to face up to that. I never had that, but I was still incredibly I was like, there were only this amount there’s only this. So maybe I want to go on a little holiday to bi town, but I don’t necessarily look there and see like for like fulfilling long term relationships or even real people. I’m just sort of dealing with my stuff. Early twenties definitely knew that I was queer in some way, but I was in a relationship with a man and I don’t know if you know this, but if you’re a relationship with a man, you’re not allowed to be bi.
Jameela [00:31:29] Oh no no I’ve been told many, many times since I came out.
Sophie [00:31:32] It’s it’s not okay.
Jameela [00:31:33] Yeah.
Sophie [00:31:34] You’re just confused or you’re lying or you’re just trying to be you’re doing it for attention.
Jameela [00:31:38] Jumping on a bandwagon because it’s easier as an actor to have a strong identity out there, and it’s just easier as a South Asian to be out there as queer, you know what I mean, like South Asian families and communities historically fucking love queer kids.
Sophie [00:31:54] They love it.
Jameela [00:31:54] So yeah, no, I just did it for clout because it would make me money. Of course.
Sophie [00:31:58] It was a tactical commercial career move.
Jameela [00:32:01] Yeah, I love to make my life harder, but no I’m well aware. It’s really it’s honestly so peculiar. So you did you kind of gaslight yourself then in your twenties because you’re like, I’m with a man, so therefore I can’t be, and this is just like me. Do you think you were one of those sort of like a Katy Perry song? Like I Kissed a Girl and I like it sort of fairweather queer.
Sophie [00:32:25] I think I think I worry that might be the case. I just worried that I didn’t know what I was, so I couldn’t make any sort of strong decisions about it, which is fine to do. Like that is a kind of an erasure of the possibility that I could be bi, either I didn’t love my boyfriend and I really just wanted to be out there shagging women or I didn’t really want to shag women. I just wanted excitement and I actually want to be with my boyfriend, so I shouldn’t waste these lesbians time.
Jameela [00:32:51] So how did you realize then? How did you stop gaslighting yourself and come into your own?
Sophie [00:32:56] I actually small tear did it, I think with the help of a really great partner, not exclusively that. But one of the things that was really important is that is my ex-boyfriend was the first partner that I had that I felt comfortable talking to about my desires and my feelings about my queerness. And he was sort of able to help me facilitate that and grow in that. Also, just being involved in the queer community, like being around other queer women in my industry specifically, just helped me enormously. Just being able to exist in that world and people who are total dickheads won’t be like, Oh, you’ve got a male partner you can’t be bi. I think people like I think it for me activism helps. Activism helps me exist, contribute, learn and I think that queer people in various places needs so much support. I think that by decentering myself, but recognizing that I was connected to all of it was really helpful for me to feel legitimate in the sexual babe that I am.
Jameela [00:34:06] How did your mom take it? I just always get so curious whenever it’s an ethnic minority.
Sophie [00:34:12] Ooh. I had to come out to my mom twice. I came out to my mom twice. Because when I came out to her in the show, with the help of my partner, who was stopping her from leaving the room to get extra cocktails because he knew when in the show it was going to be. She didn’t understand it, which makes it sound like it wasn’t clear in the show. It was clear. I say that I’m bisexual. I use the term pansexual. I talk about whating lesbian porn. I talk about having lesbian sex. My mom did not understand this at the time. She came to me after the show and she was like, Oh, hey, pansexual eh? and I was like, Yes. And then we didn’t talk about it because that’s very normal for my family. So we didn’t talk about it, but I was like, you said the word pansexual. I’m taking you being normal to me to be that you accept me and everything’s fine, but we just don’t need to talk about it. And for now, that’s a good enough step. I took her out for her birthday last year and she was like, Yeah, it’s weird how you never felt comfortable enough to come out to me as queer. And I was like, No, I did. I did, Mom. I did it in a show. And then after the show, you acknowledged and she was like Oh, I didn’t know what that meant. And she also said and I was like, I thought she was like, I thought that just like queer people just I thought it was just a bit you would do it. I thought you were literally she thought I was being gay for pay. And I was like, if I told loads of stories about how I’d traveled to Australia or lived in Australia, would you not to question me after the gig and be like, why are all those stories in your set, if they’re not true? I think she also has a little denial river that she’s been floating down, but she has since been amazing.
Jameela [00:35:50] Oh that’s so nice to hear because that’s like that’s harder for our generation of parents that like, you know, we don’t have a lot of family members who are out, even if we can tell, they’re definitely something’s going on.
Sophie [00:36:02] Oh, yeah.
Jameela [00:36:03] You know what I mean, like and so it’s like it’s extreme. I have a lot of patience and tolerance for the older generation. Now that I’m becoming the older generation, I think as as I get older, like, you know, Mae Martin recently was talking about when Bette Midler said some pretty transphobic things and disappointing things publicly. Mae Martin talked about the fact that it is really disappointing that Bette Midler said those things, but also, like, we have to like try to contextualize the older generation and recognize that they are afraid and they’re being fearmongered. And rather than just disregarding them understanding they are products of decades of conditioning and that it is only beneficial really to all of us to pul them in and educate them and have faith in the fact that they probably became progressive about something they were aggressive about during their youth. And you never stop learning. You never stop having the capacity to learn. So let’s not give up on the fucking elders who have loads of voting power. Let’s call them in. I’m trying to have more tolerance as I get older with all of these things with. And look, no one should ever take anyone’s rights away. Race wise, age wise, gender wise, any. Any of these things. But I do feel much more passionate than ever before as I’m getting older to want to congratulate them for the things that they are embracing and have faith in them that they can change the things that they currently believe that are products of patriarchy and bigotry.
Sophie [00:37:41] Yeah. I think it’s very easy, especially when you’re young and angry to write off old people. THey just try to ruin everything. Like they just try to ruin everything like with brexit
Jameela [00:37:47] Totally.
Sophie [00:37:49] They don’t understand, but they are, stereotype, so wise and often really fucking cool.
Jameela [00:37:56] And Mae what they said is Mae said that at some point they might be a bit less progressive, they might be out of touch when they’re old. And I feel the same way. I feel afraid. I think I currently do still say sometimes things are a bit out of touch with the next generation’s beliefs, and so I know that’s not coming from a bad place. I think that and it in and of itself makes me want to like unpick my parents generation and my grandparents generation. And I really don’t like this new culture of just writing each other off for different political ideologies and not taking context or nuance into account ever. I don’t think it’s literally not getting us anywhere. Are you dating?
Sophie [00:38:42] I am.
Jameela [00:38:43] That’s nice. Oh, you did a cute little smile.
Sophie [00:38:45] I did a cute little smile.
Jameela [00:38:48] And how are you feeling about dating now and post-pandemic and recovering your mental health and going through all this shit and finding your own voice and entering this new kind of stronger period of being ready for the world. How is dating?
Sophie [00:39:03] Dating is. So I started I was dating not during the pandemic, but it was all terrible. But I had a period of dating before I. Solidified things with the partner that I am with now. And I think people out on the streets. It’s while people are moving mad. I don’t know if that’s acceptable to have on this podcast. The people are behaving in extra ordinary ways.
Jameela [00:39:32] What do you mean? I’ve been out of the game seven and a half years. I’ve no idea what’s going on. What’s it like out there?
Sophie [00:39:39] It’s just it sort of seems illogical to me and I think this is not because I’ve got a massive ego or maybe it is. I don’t understand why people don’t the way the extent to which people can act against their interests or do the opposite of what they say they’re going to do. So I’ve spoken to like girls who’ve been like really, really keen. This sounds like it’s actually like an insult, but really, really keen. Like, say they really, really want to like meet up or something or we go and we have a lovely time and I’m like, okay, let me know when you’re free. And then they disappear for ages, like, say, two months, and then they come back and are like, Hey, I’m really, really sorry that my communication is so terrible. I’d really, really love to start again and I’m like, okay, I’m free. Like this day and this day. And then they completely disappear. I was like, But you came back, like, so much like disjointed communication.
Jameela [00:40:36] Is that just our sort of dismissive love of options, you know, like we just need to have a million options. Like we need to have every different type of thing available to us on menus. We need to be able to swipe through countless possible partners like we have 2000 television channels. We’ve got so many different streamers and so many different shows. Like there’s just yeah, a million options for fucking everything are so many places, so many places to buy a jumpsuit like we do you think? I don’t know why my brain went to jumpsuit.
Sophie [00:41:06] I think some of it might have been like someone being like I could go and eat Sophie’s pussy, or I could watch Hacks. I’ll choose Hacks, but I feel like I just started watching Hacks. I fucking love it and I probably would choose that over a date. But I think that it’s also a lot of people don’t seem to know what they want but are charging out into dating, seem completely confused, there’s sort of new options when people could go to stuff like sex parties again or get on the apps again and actually meet people, they were like, There’s a whole sense of people who are doing things for the first time, like going to the first their first sex party or dating women for the first time or
Jameela [00:41:42] OK talk me through a sex party, talk me through a sex party immediately I have no I have no idea what you even mean. I I’ve heard of it, but I don’t really understand.
Sophie [00:41:50] I mean the clues in the name but it can really range I think sex and party two key elements.
Jameela [00:41:57] Right but I need to know someone for several months and then fell madly in love with them. And I need to know they’re madly in love with me before I would even kiss them like it’s egomaniacal beyond all belief. Like you have to be ready to lay down your fucking life for me before I will even make eye contact with you. Because I. I find dating very stressful and I don’t understand romantic ques whatsoever. And so.
Sophie [00:42:19] Do you think you’re demi sexual? Have you encountered that?
Jameela [00:42:21] No. No, I think I’m sort of regular jammy sexual just I’m just like I am what I think it is is that I just don’t know how to read romantic cues. And so unless you are unless we’re naked together in the bed, I wouldn’t know that you liked me or not. so it has to be made explicitly like you pretty much have to turn up on a horse with a sword or something for me to understand.
Sophie [00:42:50] Captures the castle, slays the dragon.
Jameela [00:42:51] Yeah, it’s actually quite stressful for anyone because they kind of have to like I don’t make it clear with I also don’t give social cues or like romantic cues whatsoever. So you almost have to like cross a consent boundary with me to be able to find out if I like you back like I put people in impossible situations. And so that policy would have to be three months long, like it would have to be more of a sort of retreat.
Sophie [00:43:15] It’s just sort of like, yeah, a getaway.
Jameela [00:43:17] I’m just so I’m so sharp. This is why I’ve only kissed six people, but I have kissed two or three people on camera now, does that count? Or, not really.
Sophie [00:43:26] It counts. So like not as a relationship.
Jameela [00:43:29] No, alright yeah. Calm down. But no, I just mean. Yeah, I’m trying to work my way up to double digits because I’m 36 and I’ve only kissed six people who have actually wanted to kiss me rather than it’s been written into script.
Sophie [00:43:42] Ohhhhhhh, I. That’s lovely. I think it’s lovely. It’s, it’s a fun list to be on. A very exclusive list.
Jameela [00:43:51] Yeah, for all of the wrong reasons. All right, Sophie, no one’s inviting me to a fucking sex party. What happens at a sex party?
Sophie [00:43:58] I think if you’re invited to a sex party you should really do your due diligence and check that it’s happening. And it’s not just some creepy person that’s got your address.
Jameela [00:44:04] No 100%.
Sophie [00:44:06] So one of my housemates very into kink. had actually wait let me let me think about let me think back to my first hot sex party.
Jameela [00:44:16] How many sex parties have you been to.
Sophie [00:44:18] I’ve been to lots of sex positive. I say lots. I’m going to immediately erase that because I don’t want that to be out there and I don’t think it’s true. I’ve been to sex positive raves. And I have been to kink parties.
Jameela [00:44:32] Okay.
Sophie [00:44:33] And I think I. I don’t think I’ve ever been to though I would love to be at this because I think it would be absolutely bizarre and fantastic. I’ve not been to a sort of swinging dinner party where there’s three courses and then everyone migrates to like the drawing room and starts and there’s a select guest list and people start.
Jameela [00:44:51] They have the bowl of the keys. Right. And whoever’s keys you pick up, you go home with them in their car.
Sophie [00:44:59] That sounds absolutely terrifying.
Jameela [00:45:01] Petrifying.
Sophie [00:45:02] Petrifying. And that was basically equivalent of that when I lost my virginity, I really hope my mom isn’t listening. She can know that I’m queer, but not that I’ve ever had sex.
Jameela [00:45:09] Oh she’s a big fan of mine, so she might.
Sophie [00:45:12] Ohhh Hi, mom. I know you’re a big fan. Yeah, the first time I ever the first time I had a I was going to say a penetrative friend, the first time I had an experience of someone that I was very romantically sexually intimate with, I went to a lock and key party, which basically the same thing, but it’s like 18 year olds go and like all the girls had a I don’t think this would happen with Gen Z. All the girls had a key and the boys had a lock and all night people would try their key in your lock and if the key and lock open then I guess they got to kiss you. That at a swingers party where you put keys in a bowl. Both sound like horrific Snow White and the Huntsmen type scenarios. What?
Jameela [00:45:58] That’s like Game of Thrones. Oh, my God. Okay, go on. So.
Sophie [00:46:02] Like, someone wins you in a game of chance, but through various people that I have got close to been friends with, I sort of been on the fringes of, like, kink scenes and very sex positive spaces where people essentially have playrooms and play parties as part of a wider club night or make it like the focus of the whole party.
Jameela [00:46:24] And they’re quite big on consent, aren’t they? Right. So I’ve heard like my friend goes these sort of sex weekends and they’ll be like sort of like a room that you go into and there’s not quite a class, but it’s like you have to ask someone, Do I have permission to touch your arm? Do I have permission to play with your hair? Do I have permission to touch a nipple or something, whatever. And then you can like choose whether or not to escalate it together. But it’s all kind of like these consent boundary sex positive places that make everyone feel quite empowered and teach people to do their, I don’t know, like teach people to find what they want and how to learn how to enjoy what others want.
Sophie [00:47:01] That’s definitely been my experience. I think there’s always places like club nights, comedy nights, amusement parks that are badly run, but the places that I’ve experienced are really intentional because they know the dangers of putting people in a space for hedonism or experimentation. And a lot of the people who I know who are into kink, which sadly I’m still sort of working out how into it I am and I worry that I might be more vanilla than my brand would want me to be. But people who are embedded in kink communities are so good about getting consent, navigating boundaries, their own and other peoples. They have incredibly strong bonds with each other. They’re very caring and very social. And lots of people go to kink parties where spanking and whipping and all sorts of incredible scenes go on to just have a chat and connect with people that they love. So that’s not always sex at a sex party, but it is a space which feels like you really can escape what people find quite limiting sexual dynamics. And I don’t enjoy going into normal straight clubs on a Friday night where the template is that you have to look a certain way and men will approach you in a certain way. I enjoy going to spaces where there are queer people, sex positive people, because I feel like the interaction doesn’t have to follow a script. That, for me in the past has been quite problematic.
Jameela [00:48:20] Yeah yeah. Well, I mean, that’s I haven’t had the same experience just because I set sort of Henry the eighth level era sort of boundaries around myself, which I also do not subscribe. I do not think anyone else is subscribed to because it’s been very lonely teens being so awkward and several years in my twenties as well. I feel much better about what you’re doing. I think that sounds nice and safe and fun. And I just feel I feel very happy to hear you sound so settled and sound happy. And I watched all that shit you went through and it makes me feel good to see you out there continuing on persisting and finding your voice again, which you had, you know, like I think maybe felt a bit afraid of using. I think it’s really important so that they don’t make an example out of you, you know, and shut you up and allow you to just be a victim of clickbait culture and the intense racism of the UK media, however much they deny it. And so I really appreciate, I appreciate you chatting to me about that and about all these things. And before you go, I just want to ask you, what do you weigh?
Sophie [00:49:38] I weigh ooh it’s so exciting to get to answer this. I weigh my T-Rex nipple pasties. I love them. I love them. They are the head of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Once quite a big deal. Now you don’t really see them anymore. Big green sticky nipple stickers that I bought off the internet and make me feel really happy because I get to use my breasts in, quite frankly, a ludicrous way. I also have nipple pasties. One is a fried egg and the other is like an x, but maybe streaky bacon. Just having those being able to be the kind of person that has those makes me really, really happy. I weigh a sampler that my partner cross-stitched for me during the pandemic when we were not together that says Send nudes on it, which feels like a lovely retro love token. I weigh twerk classes with my friends in Accra in Ghana I weigh being able to speak several different languages English, French, Tree. And I’m learning to speak as many love languages as I would like to. Getting more skilled in physical touch, getting better at gift giving.
Jameela [00:50:58] I love all of that. So you you weigh wonderful things. Do you feel like you’re the person that your younger self would have wanted you to be now?
Sophie [00:51:08] My younger self would have wanted me to be a much more repressed, officially important person that I am now.
Jameela [00:51:18] All right well what the fuck does she know then.
Sophie [00:51:19] What the fuck does she know? No, I think she would have loved it because I don’t think she had the option of someone like me.
Jameela [00:51:25] That’s so great.
Sophie [00:51:26] And I think what she thought of as success. She would be able to see on meeting me her weird future auntie self would be able to see makes us so much happier, fills us in so many more deeper ways than she was given the sort of like templates for.
Jameela [00:51:43] Well here’s to the next generation so that they understand that it’s not what you have to strive for. Thank you so much, Sophie. You’re a joy.
Sophie [00:51:50] Thank you Jameela.
Jameela [00:51:50] I wish you all the luck in the world. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnegan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson. And the beautiful music you are hearing now is made by my boyfriend James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month of Stitcher premium by going to Stitcher.com/premium and using the promo code I Weigh. Lastly over at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 18186605543 or email us what you weigh at IWeighpodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners. I weigh being passionate and loving on so many things. I weigh trying to help whenever I can and knowing this world is a better place with me in it. I weigh being grateful. I weigh my awareness of my own mortality. I weigh being strong and brave and knowing I can survive so much more than I sometimes think I can. I weigh my intelligence and wisdom and all of my experience, which is unique and needed in the world. I weigh being the beholder. Oh, that’s so lovely.
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