Rewriting the Narrative With Carson Tueller
PRIDE
PRIDE

Episode · 2 years ago

Rewriting the Narrative With Carson Tueller

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Some aspects of your life are within your control. Others aren’t. But what’s always yours and yours alone is the power to define how to assign meaning to those things. Carson Tueller is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ and disabled communities, policy advisor to presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, and not to mention an Instahunk. Join us as we talk about growing up Mormon, coming out, finding love, recovering from a spinal cord injury, and living authentically. Be sure to follow Carson on IG! Your host is Levi Chambers, co-founder of Gayety. Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @Pride. Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com. Your producers are Levi Chambers, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson and Edited by Sebastian Alcala Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com. *This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Straw media. Some aspects of your life are within your control and others aren't, but what's always yours is the power to define how to assign meaning to those things. My guest today is an advocate for the disabled and lgbtq plus communities. He's a policy advisor to presidential hopeful Andrew Yang and an instat hunk. His name is Carson Tuler. We'll talk about growing up Mormon, coming out, finding love, recovering from a spinal court injury and, above all, how to live authentically. I'm leavi chambers and this is pride. My name is Carson Tuler. I live in Brooklyn, New York, and I currently work as a policy advisor for Andrew Yang's presidential campaign, and I'm a speaker and a writer. While he was growing up, Carson's father worked as a psychologist in the air force, and being in a military family means moving around a lot, so I kind of grew up in nine different states. Honestly, in high school his family decided to settle in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the rest of his extended family lived. Almost fifty percent of the population in Salt Lake City belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is the Mormon Church. And if you know anything at all about Mormons, you likely know they have a pretty firm stance on non heterosexual relationships, not only between members of the church but between all people everywhere, regardless of their religious beliefs. But that's not to say that Carson didn't benefit in some ways as a result of his religious upbringing. Yeah, so growing up Mormon was the best because there's such a focus on family. Moving around all the time as a kid made maintaining friendships difficult, but Carson said that his close relationships with his siblings made it easier. For most of my upbringing, I would say that my kind of growing up in the warmon religion was something that was really, really positive for me, and it wasn't until I started realizing that I was gay. It wasn't until then that being Mormon started to be a problem for me, or it started to no longer serve me the way that it did previous to that point. So I knew that I was gay or I knew that something was going on that was different when I was like eight, right and then when puberty hit and I started actually experiencing like sexual attraction for men was. That was when I was about fourteen years old and at the time I didn't have a lot of exposure to to gayness or queerness at all, and so I didn't know what it was. All I knew is that I didn't have reference for what I was feeling and so like being attracted to guys, falling in love with my guy friends. I only had a lot of confusion, but I couldn't explicitly. At the time I didn't realize that that was going to be a huge issue in me fitting into my faith and into like my faith group. So at the time I didn't really realize that that that I wasn't going to be able to fit in, and then it became apparent over the course of the next ten years, you know, from fourteen years old to around twenty two or twenty three, that it was going to be a big difficulty, or it would be a big impediment to me living authentically and also kind of maintaining my relationship to my faith. When did you come out and how did that go? When...

...you were kind of, you know, I don't want to say struggling, but kind of struggling with what you've been what you've learned being a member of the church, and then how you were actually feeling. It had to have been hard. Oh, it was so hard. Is Devastating. Right. Carson was coming to terms with his sexuality while the Mormon Church, his church, was financing California proposition a proposing an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The Mormon Church contributed twenty million dollars to that campaign and it passed, though it was challenged almost immediately and officially declared unconstitutional in two thousand and ten. This was the landscape in which Carson was trying to understand his own sexuality. So I had enough sense that there was something very wrong with this whole gay thing, and so my tendency was just to want to squash it, was like put like push it as deep into the closet as it could possibly go and kind of buckled down in terms of all things spiritual, just become a perfectionist, compensate for this what I considered to be like this darkness inside of me, and just turn into a perfect kid. And so I became very focused on my spirituality, on being good, on being Christ like and just kind of squashed every kind of thing that would be considered a homosexual experience and, of course, all the while still being very stereotypically gay, like tumbling and playing the flute and being into very not traditionally masculine things, while also, with all my my trying to avoid falling in love with my friends, avoid any kind of like, like I said, sexual arousal that had anything to do with men. And so, I mean honestly, it became the focus of my life. Was and without me even knowing, was avoiding the experience of of being attracted to men and being gay. In the Mormon Church, not only was any deviation from heterosexual relationships bad, but sexuality in general outside marriage was unacceptable. So the the general guidance given by the elds church is that you shouldn't arouse any sexual feelings within yourself or others outside of marriage, and sexuality is reserved only within marriage between a heterosexual couple. So anything, I mean it's pretty narrow in scope. So anything outside of that, including masturbation, pornography, is all considered sinful sexual behavior. When Carson first noticed his attraction to men at fourteen, he dipped a very tentative tone, into exploring his sexuality. I had tried to look something up on the Internet, like some naked guys or something, and felt terrible and I talked with my mom about it. I kind of said, Hey, I tried to look something up and it was about guys and I didn't really see anything, but I wanted to, and she, you know, just supported me the way that she knew how. But I just kind of like again like swept that under the rug after and we didn't talk about it for a long time. In the understanding was, okay, well, we will deal with this when it shows up again and when it seems to be something that is recurring or something that's really distressing. And you know, my parents were excellent parents. I have no complaints. They knew as much about gayness as I did, you know, and so we were just kind of like taking it in the best way that we knew how. In terms of moving forward, he says it wasn't until high school that he realized he wasn't attracted to girls at all, and I didn't even frame it inside of like Hey, I'm falling in love with my guy friends and all I can do like all I can think about is like this particular friend who's not texting me back and I'm really hurt about it and I don't know...

...why. It was more like I just don't know if I'm a late bloomer or something because I'm just not into girls. He decided to wait it out to see if things would change and in the meantime just try to be the absolute best Mormon boy he could be. I almost never, quote unquote, slipped up with something like masturbation. I didn't look at porn ever. I had zero sexual experiences with anyone, you know, early in life, through my childhood through adolescence. So there was just like zero experimentation going on, and so I was just kind of like keeping the faith, keeping an eye on my feelings and communicating those to my parents along the way. The next step for every good Mormon boy or girl is your mission trip. For Women, it's considered optional to serve a mission and, for a minutes, considered a commandment. So it's kind of more or less expected of you. If you're a male. Carson served his mission and concepts you on Chili. You'll go through training, you'll get some basic language skills and then you'll be flown out to or sent out to your mission, where you will complete your assignment for two years and you'll be essentially like preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and also like Mormon Doctrine and theology that specific to the LDS church. Another part of your mission is that you always have a companion with you. You just like stick with that person for like forever, like you, you don't leave that person's side at any point. Males always have male companions, females have female companions. The LDS doctrine is highly gendered. Actually, I I know of a couple who went on a mission together and ended up being together while on the mission and God said home, and then they got married and now they have kids. So maybe orders. Oh my gosh, that's incredible. That's like a Disney that's like like a Mormon Fairy Tas. That's like a Mormon gay fairy tale. There is so many pieces that. Wow, that's incredible. When we come back, Carson comes back, comes out and everything changes. Welcome back. Today we're talking to Carson Tuler. Before the break he had realized he was gay, but still one on his mission, which took him to Chili. While abroad, he met his church assigned companion and started his missionary work. After Carson came home from his mission, the next step was to find a wife. So I went to a singles ward, which is where you go essentially participate in all church activities or religious activities with other single people and you just go on dates and you go on dates and your leaders ask you if you're dating people and how it's going, and yeah, it's really, really the focal point of of progress at that point. So I came home and, you know, I was like, okay, I guess it's time to find my companion, who probably is going to be a girl, and by probably I'mant has to be a girl. And so I went to church. I kept my eyes open, I was looking around for girls I was attracted to, and I didn't find any. And there were pretty girls in my ward right there. I was surrounded by beautiful women and none of them were pulling my attention. I had zero desire to ask any of them out. And would I did of an interest in were all...

...of the men. And you know, I was going to college and I was like crushing on guys I was in classes with and I was like unintentionally flirting with guys and realizing like, Oh, what am I doing, like this is so weird, I need to go on dates, I need to figure this out. This was in two thousand and twelve, four years after his first attempts at understanding his sexuality, and it was later that year that I realized that I could no longer pretend like I wasn't feeling what I was feeling and it was just time for me to come out. It was actually the time that the church came out with a website about members of the church who are experiencing, as they put it, same sex attraction, and so I listened to those stories and I looked at the website and it was literally like looking in the mirror and it was just like, okay, this is me and it's time to do something about this. It's it's really time to like accept this, and so I came out to my parents, that came out to my bishop, I came out to, slowly all of the members of my family and then extended family, and then, you know, there was like the facebook post and then I was finally living out of the closet as a gay man. However, I was still very much committed to living can grow with my faith and even wondered if I could still marry a girl. At the time, you may or may not remember the two thousand and fifteen TLC reality show called my husband's not gay, about openly Gay Mormon men who were choosing to remain in relationships with women. I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm attractive the men. My husband's not gay, set to air on TLC Sunday. The website espoused the same idea, which was just because you're gay doesn't mean you have to live as a gay man. The point of the website is to give people support wherever they're at, and most of the stories that you read about ore, and when I say most, I think ninety nine percent of them, if not a hundred percent of them, are of individuals who are living congruently with church teaching, so they're active Mormons. They have foregone sexual relationships with people of the same sex. Even though the website's intention was to keep gay people in the church, it also served as a catalyst for Carson's eventual departure from the church. I mean, I was already very much on my way to dealing with this and it would, it would have happened, you know, probably a few months after just because of the extent to which I was suffering. I mean I was just suffering because I was, like I said, I was falling in love with my guy friends and feeling like the rejection and the hurt and the pain and like the longing, like the literal, like physiological, like my brain was telling me like to pair bond, you know, and it was time to find an individual to experience life with and have sexual experiences with. It was really quite this almost it felt like a biological phenomenon. was just like how I was wired, what I was supposed to be doing, and there were consequences to stifling that. You know, Carson came out fully at the end of two thousand and twelve, within a year of returning from his mission. I had gone through the process of saying, okay, I'm going to marry a girl, still, I'm going to be like the Super Mormon who never gives up and I'll be the poster child of Gay Mormons, and then realizing I want love, and then having more experiences with just my like spiritual experiences, feeling like my best self is my gay self, and there's nothing wrong with this. You know, I have all sorts of questions about who or what God is at this point in my life, but at that time I fully believe like whoever God is wants me to have love in my life and wants me to have a man in my life, and I was...

...so certain of that. So I had moved away from kind of the whole I'm going to stay a member of the church and marry a woman too. I'm going to live authentically and be with a man and have all sorts of experiences and explore this new identity. And I was dating my first boyfriend. I mean like two weeks before my spinal court injury, I had had like my first kiss and it was a few weeks after that that I that I broke my neck. In two thousand and thirteen, a few days after Christmas, Carson's family went to a trampoline park. I have grown up doing gymnastics and tumbling and I loved it my whole life and I was no professional or anything, but it brought me a lot of joy and I love going to a trampoline park because I was six five, I mean I still am, and I could pull so like much bigger moves in a foam pit or on a trampoline then I could on the floor. So went to the trampoline park and I jumped on like the the tumbling track that goes into the foam pit and did a few little, like warm up flips and then I just would you know, sometimes launched myself off of the trampoline, pull a front tuckets tight as I could and then, you know, land in a ball in the foam and everything was good. And so I did that, pulled myself into a tug and then I ended up sailing through all of the foam, which ended up being pretty smashed and deteriorated, and I went through the foam to the bottom of the trampoline and then must have gone through the bottom of the trampoline and hit either cement or something hard underneath, because I had a Hematoma on the back of my head and broke my neck. So I basically hit the back of my neck or back of my head, broke my neck and the trampling kind of settled right and I clearly remember hearing a little bit of a pop and feeling a little bit of a sting and then just trying to get out and I tried to get up and nothing would work, and I tried to get up again and nothing would work, and it was like thirty seconds of that until I realized that something was probably wrong and I realized I couldn't move any of my body. I realize I could move my arms just a little bit and so I put like I stuck one of my hands up out of the pit and tried to wave my hand around so that someone would come come help me, and the person who came to help me was my dad. So my whole family was essentially there. They watched this all happen and my dad came down, stabilized me in terms of making sure no one moved me and just prepared me for the flight to the hospital. So someone called nine hundred and one one, or the paramedics or whatever they called, and got a helicopter out there, put me on a stretcher and then flew me out to the hospital for some emergency spinal surgery. So that was the day that everything changed and you know, I will share actually, I don't have an opportunity to share the following piece of my story very often and it's kind of a special piece of the story to me. But when I hit and broke my neck and I started to realize that something was wrong, I really thought I thought, maybe this is like what people call paralyzed, maybe this is going to happen. I don't know if this is permanent, maybe this will just maybe I'm just like stunned or shocked or something and everyththing's...

...going to be okay. And started to get worried and just had like a flash of of all the things that I love to do that include my body, like swimming and running and jumping, and I mean my physical fitness was such an important part of my outlet in life and I was constantly explicitly grateful for my physical health. And so there was a great amount of fear that went through me at that at that moment, and then, almost just like immediately in response to that, I just had like this overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be okay as long as I, like held love in my life. And I remember specifically thinking as like, I have a lot of people who love me and I have a lot of people who I love and that's all that matters and life and every worry or concern or fear at that point really melted away. Like when I think about the day of my accident, that there's not kind of that typical traumatic feeling, because I was actually just filled with a lot of peace. I have no idea where that came from. I don't know if it was just like a defense mechanism or some kind of spiritual experience or something, but I was on the stretcher out when I turned to my mom and I said, mom, it's okay, this is the next step for me, and then they put me on a helicopter and flew me away for a spinal fusion. Carson had shattered his c seven vertebrae and after two spinal cord surgeries, he began his journey toward recovery. I'm not a religious person anymore, though I think I'm inherently deeply spiritual in terms of believing about love and connection and that we human beings need each other, and there was something special about that whole experience that has given me strength and reminded me that really like love and connection is what makes human beings happy. Walking doesn't make people happy and as long as I still had people in my life that everything is going to be okay and somehow this would be a catalyst to me doing what I needed to do in my lifetime. Even though Carson felt at peace after the accident, that's not to say that things were easy. It has been a never ending education and a never ending like just and a persistent effort over time. It's been six years and I am not someone who tends to gloss over my breakdowns. Like if something's not working in my life, I map it out, I pull out a sheet of paper, I ask myself where the lie is, I ask myself what I'm making it mean. I go through a process, I get communication with people who who I can talk things out with. So I take an active role in making sure that life is working for me. And I only say that to say that none of this has been like easy, or even has like come naturally to me. It took persistent effort. Carson remembers a moment when reality started to sink in for the first time. I remember the first time I was in the ice you and the nurse says, okay, it's it's time for you to catheterize yourself, and I realized at that moment that I was going to be using a catheter for the rest of my life and have to put a Catherin in my backpack or make sure I always had access to one of these anytime I needed to pee or go anywhere right. And that's just...

...like one example of the billion things that suddenly slapped me in the face where I realized, oh my gosh, my life is never going to be the same and this is so much more complicated and complex than I ever imagine because, you know, I just thought about going around life in a wheelchair like like, you know, I just push a couple of wheels instead of take a couple of steps, and it's about that easy. And it's a thousand percent not that easy. Coming home from the hospital was one of the hardest parts of his recovery process because Carson says he was finally inhabiting the same environment he had before as an able bodied person, and I was, you know, now rolling along instead of walking and taking the lift down the stairs instead of, you know, running up the stairs and all of these other things, and so it was just like a constant trigger of memories of what used to be and I wondered if I wanted to live a life in this and like this, but also really dealing with feeling like I was worthless now and that I had nothing to contribute, and certainly that I wouldn't have sexual partners, that I wouldn't you know, who wanted to date a guy in a wheelchair? Who who wanted to have sex with a guy who was paralyzed? Right, like, I had all of these thoughts and feelings, and so I started to just get back into life and I took all of those thoughts, in those like dark thoughts and feelings, as they came. I'm generally a pretty outgoing, positive person. It's just my nature, like I am very thankful that like I never, almost never wake up depressed and even through like my darkest moments, I always wake up like in a cheerful mood, like ready to go, and so I think some of this is like dispositional that I happened to have like kind of a disposition that's not so prone to anxiety and depression. So Carson started his rehabilitation, he did physical therapy for four hours a day over the course of a few years, and along the way I think I just started to really push back against these internal this internal dialog you know, and just like I had realized that I could change the meaning around what happened, and changing the meaning changed like my reality. For example, you know, relating to my spinal court injury as though it were the next step in my life had me relate to that my life as something purposeful, as opposed to, Oh, I just got in an accident and my life is screwed and I'm I'm over. This is like it's done right. Those are two different interpretations of the same event, and I realized there was a lot of power in that, and so I started taking a very close look at what I was making everything mean about my life. We are in charge of what we make things in our life mean. No one else can make the things we experience mean anything except for us, if that makes sense. We're kind of the ones who determine what the interpretation is. In order to reevaluate his perceptions of himself, he started observing his social surroundings and in the dating scene, in the physical fitness scene, in my sense of like being an appealing sexual partner or a valuable number of society. I just started looking at all of the ways that I had believed that I was broken, and then I also saw that I live in this society that treats disabled people like their throwaways, and I don't say that like in a victimy kind of way. We just don't invest in the lives of people with disabilities. We don't. We you know, have some some social safety nets that keep...

...people surviving, maybe, but that's about the best that we have in so there's no positi visibility of people with disabilities in the media. The stories that Carson Se's most frequently about people with spinal cord injuries and in suicide, and the message that sends to someone like me is, once you break your neck like you might as well kill yourself. Is the message. And so I started taking a very critical look at those messages and real rising that we needed to change the narrative and I needed to start by changing my narrative, and that's when I started to just live unleashed. Like I just said, fuck it, I'm I'm not going to not date because I use a wheelchair. I'm not going to not have sex because I have a wheelchair. I'm not going to not travel the world or run for office or, you know, do any of the things that I want to do because I'm in a wheelchair and then I just started taking action consistent with that and and then I started living that life. So you had your first kiss two weeks before your accident. Did you ever experience same sex sex before your accident? No, I did. I did it. There was no sex before Carson's like in Carson's I don't know, I'm speaking in the third person. In my yeah, like able body, nondisabled life. Yeah, that's right. I mean, I know what orgasm feels like, obviously, but I don't know what bottoming feels like. I don't know why all the other things feel like right. We won't go into it today, but if you want the full story, I'm Carson sex life. Check out his appearance on the podcast sex stories when we come back. Carson signature sexy instagram and only slightly less sexy work with presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Puritanical ideas of sex and sexuality permeate American culture and as a member of the Mormon Church, Carson had a lot on learn. I grew up feeling like anything sexual was shallow or, I don't know, like not meaningful. Right. It was just like self serving carnal. All of these kind of negative connotations. And so when I was injured, part of my like recovery and part of my psychological recovery was realizing the extent to which I still felt like any kind of sexuality was inherently bad and that the desire to be sexually appealing was bad, and so I just didn't ever want to portray myself as a sexual creature. He realized that the internalized and insidious negativity surrounding his desire was doing damage, especially as a person with a disability, because we are like we just don't have any examples of people with this abilities having sex lives. We don't have examples of like romances in wheelchairs very often or, and especially, sexual romances and wheelchairs. We don't have, I mean, there's not even a lot of like good, powerful enabling pornography with people with disabilities that I know of in wheelchairs right and if there is, it's like few and far between. And so that also all lends to again this idea that, oh, I'm not deserving of sexuality and believing truly...

...that there would be no way for me to have a sexual partner, and that was so important to people, certainly it was important to me, and that I just wouldn't be a viable partner that way. So taking the LEA heap to take off my shirt or get involved in some bodybuilding or really think about, you know, building some strength in a way that made me feel sexy was a big, big breakthrough for me. Another reason Carson thinks it's important to portray himself as a sexual person is to show people that, even though he has an inspirational story, he isn't sharing his experiences to make someone feel better about their life. People also want to put people in wheelchairs on a pedestal or like use them as inspiration, porn and were. We are often used as kind of a yeah, a way for people to feel good about themselves and about their lives and wow, look how I people tell me this all the time and and I get why they are saying I'm not belittling them before it, but it is an indicative of how people with disabilities are often portrayed. People would say, wow, you know, I saw your instagram or I saw what you did or what you do in life, and and I just think like, oh my gosh, I'm so lucky. I could never go through that. And it's kind of implying that you know my life sucks and that there's so much to be grateful for, and so I just didn't want to only be that space like I want. I'm a threedimensional human being. I'm a multidimensional, faceted human being and sexuality is important to me. Sexuality is important for all people and a lot of people don't know how important it is to them because they've never had to wonder if it would be available to them. And so for me it's been this empowering thing to show up as a sexual being and just kind of fully embrace my sexuality. And it's also been important for me to show up that way in a wheelchair and have other people see like mobility devices or certain parts of my body that are atrophied or thinner or like clearly don't look able in in certain pictures, because I want to start, you know, including disabled bodies in what we consider to be sexy. So that's kind of way that's been important to me. Even though Carson's work becoming comfortable and celebrating his sexuality has a greater context, he doesn't think that anyone needs any kind of overarching motive to post whatever images they want. I think that celebrating sexuality or body building is as m as valuable a thing to celebrate as being a good vocalist or being into fashion or being into any other thing. I think that it's sometimes I get caught in the trap of feeling like I have to like justify it for this meaningful cause, like, Oh, I'm doing this for the disabled community, that's why I use these those jobs. Now, I mean like it happens to be important to me as well, and it's certainly a part of my activism, but I don't think anyone needs to justify how they portray or not their body in a sexual way or not. Listening to Carson talk, it isn't surprising that he's made a life for himself working and advocacy and social justice. I became passionate about policy and politics and the two thousand and twenty election based off of my experiences of going from this ostensibly straight, tall white dude to now, you know, being a queer man living life through a wheelchair.

I suddenly went to having like a system that totally worked for me to having to navigate certain parts of our you know, our our social system, or our world, from a marginalized space and I certainly continue to experience, you know, all sorts of other privilege and my whiteness and maleness and things, but I just realized that our country and our world really doesn't work for everybody still, and I just developed this like this empathy, in this passion for just building a system that's really inclusive for everyone. In Two thousand and eighteen carson served as president of affirmation, and international nonprofit organization that focuses on supporting lgbtq plus people with connections to the Mormon Church, and not the kind that says that you should stifle your gayness. Instead, affirmation focuses on current and former members of the church so that they can understand that they are not wrong and that they are not broken as human beings. One of the most beautiful things that connects us is actually our suffering. I am a proud member of the LGBTQ community and I look forward to continuing the work that we're doing an affirmation to make the world a safer place. The work that we're doing is literally saving wise. Thank you. I started to get more involved in advocacy and activism, I started to really get involved in politics and I just hadn't been before and so it was really new to me. I was learning a ton. It was a little bit overwhelming for me. I had commented on some of CNN's climate change posts, reminding people that people with disabilities are disproportionately affected by climate change because, you know, so many of us can't seek shelter quickly or, you know, disabilities highly correlated with like homelessness and poverty and and other things like that. We just can't escape the effects. His comment caught seen n's attention and they invited him to create a question for one of the presidential candidates at an upcoming town hall. How do you plan to support already at risk and marginalized people for experiencing the impact of climate change? Now? Thank you for giving a voice to this I think about that town hall was the First Time Carson saw Andrew Yang speak and I was really surprised at how just kind of like genuine he was and authentic and also had really interesting proposals and policies and was very forward thinking and kind of just stood out to me. Two weeks later, the campaign reached out to him on Linkedin and invited him to interview as a policy researcher for the campaign, I jumped online onto his, like Yang Two thousand and twenty website, went into the policies and just loved what I read. The focus of all of his policies was about human beings and it was about incentive using our economy in such a way, like in a smart way, so that people win, always as a result of the common of the economy. And he calls it human centered capitalism and it just resonated so deeply with me because it really hit home with things that I struggled with right like looking at a system that doesn't invest in people with disabilities and then hearing him say, you know, we need to disentangle human worth from capital or from, you know, economic worth, and having plans based all about human beings. Even though he was busy writing and speaking, he pitched working with a campaign part time. I interviewed. The interview process was rigorous, it was challenging, it was thorough and at the end they surprised me by offering me a full time job as a policy advisor. I happen to have a certain amount of personal experience that I can bring...

...to the table and a certain set of knowledge around certain issues that I can bring to help guide the conversation about what people are dealing with in certain areas, whether it's LGBTQ matters or social issues, and so it kind of provides another level of insight into the campaign to make sure that policies are really benefit people, they're really human face and they're actually relevant to what people are dealing with. One of Andrew Yang's major campaign points is establishing a universal basic income. The idea is that every American would receive a monthly stipend from the government as a basis, regardless of whether or not they were working. Finland experimented with it for a few years and it's a highly debated topic. I wanted to know what would carson do with an extra thousand dollars a month? Huh, that's such a good question. Oh my gosh. Okay, you know, honestly, I would put it toward rent so that I could have a more accessible apartment. Absolutely, and I actually think I might use the thousand dollars to renovate my bathroom, because New York City apartments are so expensive and on top of that they're just like very small, and wheelchairs like a lot of space, turns out, and so I would probably put the thousand dollars toward having an apartment that worked better for me, a kitchen that was modified, a bathroom it was modified. Yeah, I think that's the rout I'd go. We're moving into full on election season now, with Iowa caucus kicking it off in February and ending in June. This is an important year to be tapped in and involved. We have an opportunity to change the direction of this country for the better. My being queer totally affects the way that I see the world and politics, and I think it's because, like I said earlier, I went from not understanding what privilege was or how affected people to realizing that there's the majority of individuals just don't fit into the system, and so it gave me this depth of empathy to fight for anyone who's disadvantaged and create a system that really works for everyone and rewrite the rules. So, I mean, I was a I come from a family that has typically voted Republican and who has some conservative values, and I was definitely in that space before I came out and then realized, Oh, you know, my values have changed and I need to vote consistent with creating a world that works for everyone. So, so absolutely. Being LGBTQ has has influenced my political views and I of course know that there are lgbtq people who vote Republican and you know, people have all sorts of different experiences and that's just mine. Stay involved and stay hopeful, pride listeners. Hop on Google and check when your state's primary is and vote and remember what Carson said. You and you alone have the power to frame your life and experiences. Keep up with Carson on instagram. My handle is carson underscore tooler. That's just CR son underscore tueller. It's the same on twitter, though I don't have the same kind of fleshed out presents in twitter. That's that's the best way to find me. I do have, you know, in my current position there are openings for me to be speaking events or and then that was essentially what I was doing...

...previous to my role in the campaign is speaking events and speaking on Lgbtq and disability issues, issues on inclusion or worth, and any you know, in queries about that or wanting to get involved or having any questions about my work can all be found on the little email link in my instagram, which is just my emails Carson J Tuler at gmailcom. Pride is a production of Straw hat media. If you like the show, leave us a rating and a review on Apple podcasts, spotify or wherever you're tuning in from. Share us with your friends, subscribe and follow us on Instagram, facebook and twitter at pride. You can follow me at leave by chambers. So I'm I have I have a complicated relationship with my own like thirst trapness.

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