Black, Brown and Queer

By Janice Faith Heinrich
Art by Black, Brown and Queer

Zuher Jazmati and Dominik Djialeu are the hosts of BBQ Podcast, a podcast for the QTI*BIPoC community and its allies that centres non-white, queer perspectives. BBQ Podcast talks about colourism, queer parenthood, intersectionality, coming out and much more. DADDY had a chat with Dominik and Zuher and got an exclusive insight into podcast making and BBQ’s plans for the future.

Everyone should read…

Dominik: “Die Grundform der Angst” (Anxiety: Using Depth Psychology to Find a Balance in Your Life) by Fritz Riemann. It’s something of a psychology classic and describes the different forms of our being. Riemann believes that everything we are is rooted in our childhood and also based on fears we carry within ourselves. I think this book is great for self-reflection. 

Zuher: I can recommend the book “We Will Not Cancel Us: And Other Dreams Of Transformative Justice” by Adrienne Maree Brown. She writes about abolitionist theories,  about the ways we can address problematic issues within our communities and much more.

The best job I ever had…

Zuher: I once worked at a climbing forest, which was really nice. I was able to be outside, enjoy nature, and climb around all the time. 

Dominik: Soon after I moved to Berlin, I worked at a cinema where Hollywood premieres would take place. My job was to take care of celebrities while their films were shown. That was definitely one of my most exciting jobs. 

Words I would get tattooed…

Zuher: Live laugh love, hahaha. No, I actually already have a word tattooed, which is the Arabic word “Sabr“. It’s an Islamic concept for patience, balance, and tranquility. 

Dominik: Care. 

I believe it’s time…

Zuher: …fort the politicians in charge to take the voices and futures of young people seriously. And that they start fighting climate change, Nazis and all the other bullshit that is going on in the world right now. 

Dominik: …that we stop listening to the people who yell the loudest and start listening to those who actually have something to say.

How did the two of you meet and how did your podcast come into being? Is there a story behind the name?

Dominik: BBQ is a wordplay which stands for Black, Brown and Queer. We wanted to portray the essence of this podcast, which is supposed to be a place for people to get together like they would at a barbeque. It’s a place where you talk about all kinds of things, including serious issues but always within a relaxed atmosphere.

Zuher and I met on the Internet, where we’ve been following each other on Instagram for a while. We had similar interests –I was organising a hip-hop party and Zuher is a DJ. The first time we met in person was when the two of us were booked at a Hoe_mies party and spent a big part of the evening talking backstage. We met regularly and at some point it just felt right to start something together. Zuher actually had the idea of starting a podcast for a while. One day we talked about why the two of us, as gay people of colour, are living in Wedding and not for example in Schöneberg. It’s a very queer part of the city but also very white. We observed that we had probably encountered more racism than homophobia in our lives and that this was the reason we felt more comfortable in a less white, post migrant neighbourhood like Wedding. We also noted that our perspectives aren’t really represented in media and that gay or queer often equals white. Our experiences are more intersectional than those of a white, gay men. And that’s the kind of platform we wanted to create. One where voices like ours get to speak. That was in 2019 and a lot has happened in the last two years. 

How do you decide on topics for your episodes? 

Zuher: That’s usually a quite fluid process where we suggest different ideas to each other. Like, wouldn't it be cool to invite this person to talk about this specific subject or maybe even something entirely different?. Oftentimes we have similar interests but of course also have different perspectives on things since we come from different backgrounds. Dominik is very active in cultural political discourses and for me it’s political activism, so we bring a lot of input from our areas of expertise and networks. 

What are the steps behind creating an episode? 

Dominik: We’re now working with a new production company, Parasomnia Productions. For recording, we invite our guests to the studio and afterwards, there’s a cutter who edits the material. We want to keep the episodes crisp and coherent. Sometimes I’m preparing the episode, sometimes it’s Zuher and sometimes we both prepare individually and then put everything together in the end. 

You’ve just started working with a new team and introduced a new season of BBQ. What can we expect? Which topics would you like to talk about in the future? 

Zuher: We definitely want to be more open regarding our topics and talk about things that wouldn’t immediately be connected to Blackness, Brownness or queerness. Instead, we want to add this perspective to the topics we’d like to talk about.

Dominik: A topic I’m thinking of is for example policing.. 

Zuher: I’d like to do something about language soon. Language, racism or politically correct language concern basically everyone. We’ve also been thinking about talking about prison or right-wing violence, topics we deem very important. 

Would you say your relationship to your own voice has changed since running a podcast? 

Zuher: I never really had big problems with my voice but sometimes I would be a little at odds with it. I believe that it’s gotten way better because I’ve learned to embrace and appreciate my voice and its uniqueness through really good conversations with Dominik. People have their opinions on my voice. They have internalised queerphobia and racism which sometimes reflects in the comments we get but that’s on them and not on me. 

Dominik: I’ve worked in acting so I’ve heard my voice many times before and also had it judged. I believe, at first most people find it difficult to hear themselves but that’s normal. With time you get used to it. And regarding other people’s opinions, you just can’t please everyone. In the beginning you take every criticism personally and wonder if you have to change, but if you have a unique voice like for example Zuher’s, people will dislike it and people will love it, there’s nothing you can or need to change about that. It’s the same with our podcast. Some people have been saying that we need to be more calm, shouldn’t change pitch as much and that there’s a certain way a podcast should sound like but in the end people love our podcast exactly because we do it the way we do. 

Zuher: I once saw an interview with a radio host who said, “The biggest goal of a radio host is to make people recognise your voice or fall in love with it.” And it’s so funny to me when people meet us for the first time and are like “That’s how you look, I’ve only known your voices!” People connect something with our voices and recognise their uniqueness, that’s really special.  

How does it feel like to do a live podcast in front of an audience in comparison to recording at a studio? Do you prefer one or the other?

Dominik: We just had two live shows in front of an audience and it’s definitely different. There’s a lot more excitement and anxiety because it isn’t really part of our routine. Still, our experience from the studio helps our live performance a lot because we know that we can rely on each other and that if one of us stops talking the other will continue. It’s a great gift to perform in front of people because you receive immediate feedback and can see whether they are with you or not. There’s definitely gonna be more live shows and we’re looking forward to it!

Podcasts have gotten really popular in the last few years. Is there any advice you would give to people who want to start their own podcast? Do you believe it’s something anyone could do?  

Dominik: Inherently, I believe anyone who really wants to make a podcast should do that. That’s the nice thing, podcasts are very low-threshold and basically all you need is your phone’s recording device. You record and then you upload, which kind of makes it one of the most easily attainable mediums. But I think you also need to have lots of patience and perseverance. At the moment there’s so many podcasts that we can’t really keep up with listening to them. There’s a lot more BIPOC podcasts as well which is really nice. I think to be able to stand out from the masses and become visible to a wider audience you really need to stay true to yourself. That’s not gonna happen with the first episode but if you stick to it you might end up with the results you’re hoping for. 

Zuher: I think it’s really important to engage with and educate yourself about the things you want to talk about to make sure that you’re not spreading misinformation. That’s why there’s often a lot of time that goes into creating an episode. You shouldn’t take a podcast too lightly just because it’s easy to do technically but you should also be aware that you’re putting thoughts and information into the world that someone’s going to listen to. Focus on your strengths and find a type of podcast that you’re comfortable with. 

What are your favourite podcasts?

Dominik: I’m a big fan of TALK-O-MAT but it’s not my number one podcast. One of those would be Halbe Kartoffl. I once was a guest there but I’ve been listening to it for way longer. It’s a very beautiful, personal podcast that I can really recommend. A bit more on the entertainment side is The Read. I kind of see BBQ as a German, more political pendant to The Read. The podcast is about queer men in New York City who also talk about politics but fcous a lot more on boulevard media, gossip and throwing shade. 

Zuher: I’ve got a German and an English favourite. The German one is definitely for politics nerds. It’s by Deutschlandfunk and it’s an editorial conference where political journalists talk about a specific subject, for example about what’s antisemitism and what isn’t? My favourite English podcast is Nicole Byer’s Why Won’t You Date Me?. She’s the moderator of the series Nailed It! and I love her so much, she’s really funny. In the podcast she basically talks about why she’s still single. 

You’re having a barbeque. Which dish would you bring and who would you invite?

Zuher: I would bring a dish I know from Aleppo, Syria and it’s called Kibbeh. It’s this small ball made of bulgur and filled with minced meat, that’s usually fried but you can also get it on a skewer that you then put on the grill. It’s very tasty. 

I think I would invite Senna Gammour. I’m pretty sure she would entertain the whole party and make everyone laugh. 

Dominik: I would invite Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss. A lot of the younger readers might not know him anymore but for me he’s a very impressive actor. He was one of the first Black German actors who had a continuous role in German TV, at ZDF and has been publicly out as gay for a long time. Sanoussi-Bliss was beyond his time and paved the way for Black people in German TV. I would love to talk to him about his experiences, how he perceives nowadays’ developments and what he thinks about the German media landscape. 

My dish of choice would be Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

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