A Gay Man’s Guide To Life: An Interview with Britt East

The book "A Gay Man's Guide to Life" by Britt East, sitting on a table. The book's cover is black, and the text is a rainbow gradient, starting with purple at the top and light blue at the bottom.

One of the things I love about having Denny Upkins as a guest writer is he has some connections with amazing people and he takes great joy in interviewing them for Yopp! I’ll let Denny introduce today’s interview with Britt East.

CN: discussion of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and explicit violence toward the LGBT community– especially transgender folks; mention of abuse, AIDS epidemic, and addiction. 

Upon Yopp’s return from hiatus, I knew there were a number of intriguing and remarkable individuals that I wanted to interview. Britt East was at the top of the list. Author, inspirational speaker, activist, podcaster, East and I first crossed paths on Gay Man Thriving: a forum designed for the personal development of high-performing gay men. I was immediately taken with the unapologetic pithy yet powerful posts from the handsome cerebral gent. 

When I learned of East’s debut book, A Gay Man’s Guide To Life, my interest was more than piqued.  The verdict? As I confessed to East, upon finishing the book, I cussed both East and the book out for twenty minutes. Not because the book was bad. Quite the opposite. The book was so incredible that I finished it before I even realized it. I wanted more chapters. Needless to say, the awards and accolades the book continues to garner is well deserved. I recently caught up with East and we discuss everything from A Gay Man’s Guide To Life, activism, his new podcast Not Going Quietly, personal development and so much more.

Upkins: Britt, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today. For the unfamiliar, why don’t you introduce yourself?

East: I am the author of the #1 best-selling, multiple award-winning book, A Gay Man’s Guide to Life, and a co-host of Not Going Quietly, a new personal growth and development podcast, with a focus on social justice issues, particularly in the queer community. I live in Seattle with my husband of 13 years and our crazy dog.

Upkins: I was pleasantly surprised to learn you’re a fellow TN Boy. From the Music City no less.

East: Yes! But it seems like maybe it has drastically changed since I lived there. I grew up in 1980s Nashville, which was rough. I suspect it had a vibrant local gay culture, but as a child, that culture was inaccessible to me. So I was left to fend for myself in oblivion. But that’s not where it ended. Not only did I have to deal with the bigotry and homophobia of the straight community, but also the impact that the AIDS epidemic had on my nascent sexuality and the deaths of any would-be role models. To make matters worse, the abuse I experienced at the hands of my family increased my desolation. It meant there was no safe place for me to land in the world, and that I had to manufacture my own wisdom and experience. The template of my life went unwritten, and I moved through the world like a ghost. When I graduated high school I hastily escaped Nashville, and have yet to return. One day soon, however, I would like to visit and make a deeper peace with the city of my youth.

A photo of Britt East standing in front of a brick apartment building. He has light skin, dark hair cut short, is wearing a dark blue polo shirt, and has his arms crossed in front of him. He is smiling mildly with a peaceful expression on his face.

Upkins: One of the things I found fascinating about the book and your previous interviews is that while you do have training and a background in counseling and therapy, much of your “expertise” comes from life experience and firsthand wisdom. It’s evident by the authentic tone of your message and the pragmatism of your advice. Have other readers expressed a similar sentiment?

East: I have no training in either counseling or therapy; my background in those fields is purely as a client. I’ve had the privilege of so much education, such as an MBA from the University of Washington and a Master of Music (MM) from the University of Illinois. I’ve also had a corporate career in digital marketing and technology for over twenty years, at a wide variety of small and mid-sized independently-owned companies. I draw from all these experiences in my work.

I write and speak largely from my lived experience. Part of the cost of a former life partner’s sex addiction was the obliteration of everything I thought I knew. I was devasted. But part of the gift of his recovery was my subsequent recovery. After watching his life improve through his work in the 12 Steps, I joined a 12 Step program myself (Codependents of Sex Addicts Anonymous, or COSA). 

What I never could have imagined was the amount of love I found in those rooms or the thrill of togetherness I would experience in setting down my masks for the very first time, sharing from my heart with benevolent witnesses, and being emotionally joined in the process. That experience changed my life forever and forms the foundation of my personal practice of replenishment to this day. It led me to other adjacent modalities, like talk therapy, yoga, Buddhism, Non-Violent Communication, and the Hoffman Process. 

I leverage all these experiences in my social justice work with fellow members of the queer community, which has given me exposure to first-hand conversations with hundreds of people over the years.

I catch myself participating in the white patriarchy, either by thought or action, inadvertently if not malignantly. But each night, before I lie down to sleep, I take stock of my behavior and choices over the course of the day. I make note of my errors and excavate my opportunities to love more deeply. I recognize where my apologies or amends are required. And I try to do a little better the next day.

Upkins: Speaking of first-hand experiences, in the book you’ve referenced points in your life where you were at your lowest. Nevertheless, you made the choice to actively change, grow and evolve. That takes a rare level of strength and fortitude. To what and/or to who do you credit the source of that strength?

East: Desperation. The opportunity in my personal obliteration was the clean slate upon which I could write my own life template. I’m relentlessly pragmatic and will do just about anything in the name of cultivating kindness and love. My decisions have not been driven by any high-mindedness. I simply wanted to hurt a little less each day, and I learned early on that I would need to be my own superhero. Nobody was coming to save me. So I leveraged what privileges I could and began the hard work of investing in myself – hiring various experts who could be the mentors I missed and engaging in dollar-driven relationships to stand in for the love I lacked in my family of origin. I leaned on all these relationships until I was able to stand on my own and build a family of choice to sustain me.

Upkins: A personal litmus test: I can learn a lot about someone’s character or lack thereof by their treatment of Blacks and other minorities. I was immensely impressed with how enlightened you are on racial issues. In the book, you mentioned a situation in regards to your ex and a Black victim who got railroaded by our corrupt judicial system in Nashville, TN. You just don’t pay lip service. You genuinely strive to be the positive change and stand up against antiblackness and other forms of racism, which is rare. What and/or who do you credit for being progressive on these matters?

East: Well I’m humbled by that characterization. In all candor, every day I fall short. I catch myself participating in the white patriarchy, either by thought or action, inadvertently if not malignantly. But each night, before I lie down to sleep, I take stock of my behavior and choices over the course of the day. I make note of my errors and excavate my opportunities to love more deeply. I recognize where my apologies or amends are required. And I try to do a little better the next day. 

Growing up in Nashville, I was surrounded by people of many races, particularly Black people. I even went to a predominantly Black school for a time. So I developed a comfort level with and love of the Black community. But over time, I was indoctrinated into straight, white, cis male supremacy. As I grew, my lived experience became more racially segregated. It happened so slowly and subtly that it caught me completely unaware. Today I think back and cringe at some of my choices, and weep at once was. 



It wasn’t until I began queer liberation work that I connected the dots with antiracism – not just because there are queer people of all races, but because white queer people have been inspired for decades by black brilliance. Frank Kameny and others were explicit in how they connected their gay liberation work with the roads paved by Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, John Lewis, and others. They observed the successful strategies and tactics of the civil rights movement and found ways to apply them to their communities. 

Personally, I have been deeply influenced by James Baldwin, Shirley Chisolm, Barbara Jordan, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Kimberle Crenshaw, Ijeoma Oluo, and Sonya Renee Taylor. I pray that my work is an homage to theirs, which would make it immoral to use it to help lift up myself and other white queer people without also explicitly fighting against those institutions that bolster the past and ongoing systemic oppression of Black people in particular, and all people of color in general. It’s simple math really, and moral issues aside, there is a debt to be paid. Also, it’s really fun to spend time in communities of color. The comradery is so deep and rich, especially in contrast to the suspicion and backbiting that runs rampant in so many queer communities.

…many white-led institutions are content to slap land acknowledgment statements on their websites without actually returning that land, or even “paying rent” to the communities we stole it from. We come up with all sorts of reasons we don’t need to separate ourselves from our money, and justifications to preserve our social status and comfort. But what use is recognition without reparation?

Upkins: When it comes to racism and antiblackness, in your estimation as a white man, why is it that a few white people choose to get it per se and many others opt not to do so?

East: I live in Seattle where we like to pat ourselves on the back. You might say that our hearts are in the “white” place. That’s intended to be a stinging rebuke of our collective complacency as white liberals. Many of us are thrilled to claim allyship and antiracism, just so long as it doesn’t actually cost us anything or inconvenience us in any way. We often fail to remember that antiracism is a state of action, not a state of being. Labels mean little without labor.

This is most obvious where the sharing of power is involved. For instance, many white-led institutions are content to slap land acknowledgment statements on their websites without actually returning that land, or even “paying rent” to the communities we stole it from. We come up with all sorts of reasons we don’t need to separate ourselves from our money, and justifications to preserve our social status and comfort. But what use is recognition without reparation? It’s the distinction between making an apology and making amends – amends involve action.

But white supremacy is insidious, and our capitalist society saps our strength. Even white people are exhausted. It takes so much to capture and sustain the attention of moderate white America, much less convince those who bask in their bigotry and preen in their prejudice. Many of us cannot emotionally afford to understand and hold the daily experience of Black people in our society, much less all the ways we use that experience for our personal gain. Doing so would require we change our behavior because acknowledging past pain (not to mention ongoing pain) necessarily incurs a present cost. 

We don’t want to know that grandma was yelling at and spitting on Ruby Bridges in 1960, when at six years old she became the first person to integrate an elementary school classroom in the South. We don’t want to remember that grandad was in the KKK. We can’t consider how our parents were happy to overlook the racist ideologies of various politicians over the years because they claimed they would lower their taxes. We conveniently forget all the ways we bullied our peers in school over the way they looked, how much money their parents earned or all the ways we assumed they threatened our social standing by their very existence. We just wipe it all away until our majority status renders a collective denial and gaslighting across the entire society.

Upkins: Our trans siblings– They are often on the frontlines making the liberties and opportunities we enjoy a reality. Yet they are often met with the most extreme forms of bigotry, oppression, and violence. Especially our Black and Brown trans siblings. In your estimation, how can cisgender people be better advocates, supporters for our trans siblings?

East: We gay white cis men typically experience the world as white cis men first – meaning through the lens of our privileges. We all stand at the intersections of multiple identities, which means we have all known various privileges and adversities in our lives.  Gay white cis men have endured many adversities at the hands of straight supremacy, but we have also experienced many unearned advantages. 

We stand so close to the top of the social pecking order and revel in our proximal power. Yet we also feel the anxiety of the constant threats to our civil rights. Our trauma response has been to focus on “respectability politics” (such as marriage equality) as a means to preserve our wealth. Some of us even toady up to straight white cis men, in desperate attempts at acknowledgment and inclusion. Like everyone in our society, many of us are averse to anything feminine, though it is magnified in us because we so hate the feminine in ourselves and are afraid of it being seen, recognized, and punished by others. 

This is all for logical reasons. We have been punished and persecuted. We have been beaten, killed, castrated, imprisoned, and more by straight people trying to preserve the patriarchy. But many of us have then weaponized our wounds, turning on people of color (even in the queer community), women, and even other gay cis men. 

A digital illustration of a pink box, looking directly from above. The lid is tilted to the side and decorated with a darker pink bow. Inside the box is a red letter Y with a golden sun above it, making the illusion of a happy person, from Yopp's logo. In large black text, it says "Join Yopp's" and "Patreon" on either side of the graphic. There are two dark red thick lines beneath each section of text. The image has a pale orange background and a thin red border.

Gay white cis men have a long history of violence against trans women and non-binary people and have often treated trans men like dangerous curiosities. And when you throw our racism into that mix you end up with a dangerous cocktail. We often act as if we’re afraid of incurring the cost that comes from congregating with feminine bodies in a society oriented to masculine dominance. 

We live in a society where it’s OK to dominate and objectify feminine bodies, but not to have or associate with one. Trans women stand at the forefront of feminine oppression, even at the hands of other feminists, but most dangerously and directly at the hands of men – straight men, who would sexualize and kill them. Yet worse still are we gay cis men who would stand by silently, allowing them to be beaten or murdered – those of us afraid to lose what little respect we have mustered from straight men, for the sake of someone perceived to be so low on life’s ladder. 

Perhaps, for some of us, this violence has been a way to reenact our own self-hatred of our more feminine modes of expression. Perhaps some of us are on gender orientation journeys of our own and have weaponized our self-loathing. Perhaps some of us envy their relations with straight men. Or perhaps some of us just carried the same transphobic fears and fascinations as the rest of society. Whatever the reasons, we gay men have truly harmed trans women, and it is time for us to recognize this and atone.

Our relationships with trans men might even be more complicated, given our slow acceptance of the roles body parts and gender play in our sexual relations. When we say we’re attracted to men, do we also create space for our attraction to trans men? If not, then why? Being gay means we are men who celebrate our attraction to other men. But what exactly are we attracted to anyway? Muscles? Body hair? Penises? Do we really think that there are no trans men out there who possess these magical features? So what’s really at play here? What are we afraid of? We’ve got to get real about these questions if we are ever going to truly welcome trans men into our brotherhood.

Upkins: Why is it paramount for everyone to make the welfare of the most vulnerable and the most marginalized people our top priority? 

East: The way to measure any society’s morality is to observe the way it treats its minorities. If I can’t win you over on philosophical grounds, let me try self-interest. Diversity is always a strength and a competitive advantage, to use the language of capitalism. In the U.S., our strength is our pluralism. We just don’t always act like it, and fascist forces are on the rise. Whether through the erosion of our longstanding institutions or the rise of cult-like leaders who profit on the backs of others, our current Gilded Age might just be our downfall. When large segments of the populace are content to believe in a wholescale absence of institutional integrity, it paves the way for profiteers and charlatans to lay waste to those laws, norms, and precedents that have served as guardrails against our darker natures. So aside from the moral issues, the shared joy, love, and togetherness, it’s also to our economic and sovereign advantage to protect and celebrate diversity in all its forms.

Upkins: Your social media posts deserve the Phoenix Down award because they stay giving me life. Hence me regularly reposting them everywhere. A few posts of yours spoke to me and I wanted to discuss them in more depth.

Embracing our shortcomings creates the capacity to engage in our super powers.” 

Please elaborate for those who don’t understand the shorthand.

East: I’m in love with my limits, in part because it grants me the space to replenish, to let others shine, and to practice gratitude for my gifts. I can’t do it all. Celebrating that fact grants me the capacity to engage in my aptitudes and affinities. I have the time and energy to follow my intuition and creative impulses wherever they lead. It’s simply a more sane, efficient, and effective approach to life than martyrdom, it’s how we can leverage each other’s genius to build a more perfect union. 

Upkins: “When people wonder why we broadcast our sexual orientation, what they’re really asking is why we’re not more grateful for our oppression.” 

East: I write provocative social media posts to trigger people into confronting their prejudices and assumptions. Many straight people are biased against queer happiness and fulfillment because on some level they think we are eunuchs mired in shame and self-loathing. In as much as we have internalized their indoctrination, that may well be true for some of us. But as we come out, get empowered, and claim our agency, we recover the feeling of joy. 

A light skinned man and a tan skinned man, both wearing pants, button-up shirts, and facial hair, walk down a city street holding hands, gazing lovingly at eachother. The sun is shining brightly on them.

Many straight people consider anything more than our tepid existence an affront to their power. They just don’t want to think about us, or be reminded how our culture triggers their feelings of mediocrity and inadequacy. Yet in the present-day U.S., they lack the courage for explicit genocide. Instead, many straight people want to think of themselves as “tolerant” or “accepting,” without actually acknowledging (much less celebrating) the fullness of our culture. They don’t really want to know us. We’re just their wacky next-door neighbors in the sitcoms of their lives. We only exist as accessories to add color to their muted tones. They have gifted us some civil rights and we are meant to be grateful for their benevolence. Our satisfaction should be expressed as quiet compliance. Seen in that light, queer love, laughter, and gentle public displays of affection are radically political acts of resistance.

Upkins: “Institutionalized queerphobia exists in large part because our allies allow it to.

East: Many straight people, particularly white cis women, have been happy to march in queer pride parades and then vote for people like Donald Trump. They might invite us to Thanksgiving dinner, where they then ignore the awkward and uncomfortable parts of our lives and identities. They see themselves as the source, from whom all blessings flow. They are prepared to tolerate all sorts of queerphobic remarks and choices by peers and colleagues that they would never allow in other circumstances. They jealously guard their wealth and status as they further their participation in and bolstering the zero-sum game of capitalism. Secretly or subconsciously they revel in their superiority and are relieved to have someone to save or look down upon.

Everyone likes to think of themselves as an ally, but few actually want to do the work. This cognitive dissonance is harming people and even getting them killed. Integrity is the alignment of our thoughts and actions. And at this stage in the game calling yourself an ally is fairly meaningless. Sure it might be a quick way to signal your intentions, but these labels also sound like patting yourself on the back. And, as Sonya Renee Taylor says, “Outrage without action is just privilege comforting itself.” It’s long past time they (and we) get to work.

Upkins: “Gay people exist in all walks of life. There’s not any one way to be gay.” 

East: I’ll wager that when most people hear the word “gay,” they imagine a white cis man, who lives in a major metropolitan area, lost in solipsism, recreational drugs, casual sex, and fitness. The truth is that there are gay people from all walks of life, and all of us are equally valid. Gay people of color exist. Some gay people are athletes, farmers, construction workers, government employees, and everything in between. There are gay people of all gender orientations and no gender orientations. Some of us are fem and some are masc and some float between the two. Some of us are fat and some of us are thin, and many of us fluctuate. Some of us love country music, some of us love dance music, and some of us love both. We are just another slice of life and we belong everywhere. Gay people are complex, fully-realized individuals, with stories that deserve to be heard. To paraphrase and alter James Baldwin’s words, “We are not your homos.”

The book "A Gay Man's Guide to Life" by Britt East, sitting on a table. The book's cover is black, and the text is a rainbow gradient, starting with purple at the top and light blue at the bottom.Upkins: Switching gears, let’s discuss your new book, A Gay Man’s Guide To Life. First and foremost congratulations. Speaking as a fellow published author, I know all too well that many talk about writing a book. Some actually begin writing a book, but few actually complete it and get it published. So congrats on joining a very elite fraternity. What inspired you to write A Gay Man’s Guide To Life? What was that journey like from an idea/concept to the finished product?

East: This book is my attempt to serve the gay community by passing down some of the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s a life manual chocked full of timeless wisdom, designed to help gay people understand the culture we’ve inherited, the bigotry we face, and the agency we crave to set our hearts free and unleash our true power. 

It also contains oodles of practical advice anyone can use on a daily basis to improve their lives. I did a subtle thing in the naming of the book. I did not call it “A Guide to Life for Gay Men.” I called it A Gay Man’s Guide to Life. This book is for everyone, and the title celebrates the fact that I wrote it from my lived experience as a gay man. I utilize our cultural touchpoints, language, and references. So often straight people expect us to experience the world as they do. We must tie ourselves in knots and turn somersaults to translate their language and apply it to our lives. Now they can do some somersaults!

Upkins: Is this your first book? Do you have a background in English, journalism, publishing?

East: This is my first book in this genre. My background is in poetry and classical music, and I have published other works in those fields. My parents were journalists, and I grew up at the newspaper for which they were employed. So I’ve been immersed in a love of language my entire life.

Upkins: What I especially love about the book is the format. Each chapter is self-contained and you don’t have to read them in order. What inspired you to take that route?

East: By putting the reader at the center of the story, I decided I could make my story secondary, and focus on my recommendations instead. I use those parts of the book that serve as memoir to establish rapport with the reader, build credibility, and contextualize my recommendations. But the meat and potatoes are the recommendations themselves. 

Many readers lack the time to indulge in reading a book from cover to cover. I wanted them to be able to quickly home in on those facets of their lives where they require support, which necessitated a simple and straightforward approach to the book structure.

Upkins: A Gay Man’s Guide To Life has been racking up awards left and right and deservedly so. You must be elated.

East: I honestly had no idea what to expect. The awards game is curious and amusing in any artistic endeavor, and I wasn’t sure how my book would be received by anyone, particularly those straight judges who might not be interested in diving headfirst into queer social justice. But I’ve been humbled and blown away by the response, both from readers who send me dozens of messages each day and the various competitions I entered.

Upkins: Is there a sequel in the works? Any chance of you writing fiction in the not too distant future?

East: I am almost finished with writing the sequel, which is a guide to finding and sustaining queer love and relationships. The most time-consuming part for me is the editing process, and I’m just starting that now. So I’ve still got a long way to go, especially considering all my other commitments. I only have the capacity to work on that project here and there, as I can sneak it in between my day job and other various projects. 

Fiction is a whole different ballgame. It’s my favorite genre to read, and I would love to try my hand at it at some point, but it’s a high bar. The marketplace is incredibly competitive, and I don’t have any projects in the works at the moment in that genre.

Upkins: When it comes to the areas of life coaching and maximizing one’s full potential, there generally haven’t been many platforms or areas specifically aimed at LGBTQs. However, it seems like that may be changing. You and I originally crossed paths on the forum Gay Man Thriving; an organization that helps high-performing and overachieving gay men in their respective personal development. H/T to GMT founders Andrew Sartory and Zachary Bulls. Between GMT, Living Your Best Gay Life led by actor (and superhero of mine) Robert Gant, and a few other spaces, it seems that this need is finally being addressed Have you observed this as well? If so, what do you think has caused the shift?

East: Yes. Where there is need, there is opportunity. Our epidemic of loneliness has encouraged entrepreneurs to leverage technology to create a variety of online communities. Some of these focus on matchmaking, while others focus on personal growth and development. Personal coaching is an emerging field, with an uneven array of certifications, educational requirements, or experience. So caveat emptor, as always. But the upside of that lack of regulations is it is also a greenfield open to creative new ideas to achieve positive client outcomes and support. 

I think of myself as an artist, rather than a coach or connector. I create and publish works intended to afflict the comfortable, disrupt the social status quo, and trigger audiences. And then I go back into the woodshed to reengage in my creative process. I don’t hang around to monitor the results or assess the impact. In that way, client service work doesn’t appeal to me. When I participate in online communities, it tends to be as a behind-the-scenes business consultant or a volunteer. In some cases, I have taken a higher profile, for the sake of stimulating community thought, engagement, and conversation. But I doubt I will ever do more than dabble in that space.

A podcast cover image with a blue-grey gradient background and all-caps white text that says "Not Going Quietly." On either side of the text are two white men with short dark hair, Britt East and Jonathan Beal. Britt is wearing a bright blue polo shirt and Jonathan is wearing a loose patterned button down shirt in shades of brown and beige.Upkins: Not one to rest on your laurels, you recently launched a podcast; Not Going Quietly with your co-host Jonathan Beal. Congratulations on that too by the by. Tell us about the new podcast.

East: Thank you! I had been wanting to host a podcast for ages but was overwhelmed with all the work to pull it off. I love how the format affords intimate and thoughtful conversations. Jonathan approached me with the idea last fall, and I realized how silly and small I had been thinking: why not partner with someone to help shoulder all the work? Our podcast explores the searing truths behind the topics on everyone’s minds – but in a way that excavates love and promotes radical togetherness, rather than gossip and division. That’s just a fancy way of saying we interview a wide array of amazing guests, in order to reveal and heal the fractures and fragments in our various communities, so we can celebrate a love to sustain us.

Upkins: As someone who is in a loving marriage, what have you found to be the formula to your success if there is any? And for those LGBTQs who think they’ll never find love and are destined to be alone, what would you say to them?

East: Every day I wake up and decide to stay married. In many ways, the commitment of marriage is just a choice we make over and over again. This is especially true for those of us whose relationships are an affront to the white cis patriarchy. That choice comes with a tremendous amount of work that many gay men lack the capacity to do – not out of an intrinsic lack of ability, but because of a lack of education, training, skills, or modeling. For generations, straight supremacy worked overtime to ensure we would never successfully participate in society’s esteemed institutions.

As for finding love, the formula is challenging but simple: know yourself, be yourself, and follow the energy wherever it leads. We queer people are part of a tiny minority, so many of us will need to get creative. We might need to move. We might need to try long-term relationships. We might need to broaden our sexual tastes and appetites. We might need to try polyamory. But we’re going to have to work it. Let’s surrender our romantic fantasies about “the one.” We are the one. We always have been. We are simply searching for others to complement us. Maybe one at a time, or maybe several at once. We can let go of the life scripts straight supremacy has foisted on us, and allow our life to unfold one moment at a time. 

The challenge is that we must balance multiple paradoxes throughout the process. We must surrender to the moment, as we engage in the work. We must both be ourselves and improve ourselves. We must have goals while minimizing our attachments to those goals. We must practice relating as imperfect works in progress, while also requiring more of one another. And we must do all this with a sense of humor, humility, and fun. So let’s cut ourselves some slack, and give ourselves a break. And then get back out there and keep loving.

A banner ad for Kella's Etsy shop demonstrating LGBTQ themed products: A blue T-shirt with the phases of the moon in pansexual pride colors, a black cell phone case covered in DnD dice in the colors of the asexual flag, a laptop with eight different stickers demonstrating the many pride flag colors the moon phases design is available in, some with the text "Not Just a Phase."

Upkins: On the subject of advice, what wisdom would you impart on a young Britt East or anyone else who is trying to find their way?

East: I would encourage that little boy to not take everything so damn seriously. I have fought my way through life, and tend to engage in combat as a default to this day. But the richness of life is found in the vulnerable revealing of our tender hearts. Learn to let go a little more gracefully. Practice equanimity. Meet the moment, wherever and however that moment is. Practice play. Say something silly and look foolish. Elevate your inner goofball. And then, in the words of one of my favorite drag queens, Latrice Royale, “Make them eat it!”

Upkins: What lies ahead for Mr. Britt East? Anything coming up in the not-too-distant future that we need to keep an eye out for?

East: I publish daily social media and blog posts. Jonathan and I release new podcast episodes every other week, so stay tuned for some amazing guests and challenging conversations. I think my next book will be released in the next year or so. And I continue to write articles and speak at various events, as time allows.

Upkins: And where can everyone find you online?

East: My website is the hub for all my work: britteast.com. That’s where you can find links to purchase my book, a bunch of free articles, my blog, links to all my socials, and a link to our podcast, Not Going Quietly.

A picture of Dennis R. Upkins, a lean black man with long limbs wearing a well fitted navy and white pinstripe button up shirt. HeAbout the guest blogger/interviewer: 

Dennis R. Upkins is a speculative fiction author, a journalist, and an equal rights activist. His first two young adult novels, Hollowstone and West of Sunset, were released through Parker Publishing. Both Upkins and his previous work have been featured in Harvard Political Law, Bitch Media, MTV News, Mental Health Matters, The Nerds of Color, Black Girl Nerds, Geeks OUT, Black Power: The Superhero Anthology, Sniplits, The Connect Magazine, and 30Up. You can learn more about him at his website dennisupkins.wordpress.com.

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