The Forbidden Apple Podcast is hosted by Pelayo Alvarez (a Spaniard raised Catholic) and Melissa Weisz (a former orthodox Hasidic Jew). The show is all about having interfaith conversations with queer revolutionaries who are actively working to deconstruct traditional religious beliefs around what it means to be a spiritual person.
Pelayo and Melissa are using their podcast as a vehicle to fight spiritual violence against LGBTQIA+ people - an issue which is all too commonly brushed aside and overlooked. The default viewpoint that prevails in today’s society is that LGBTQIA+ people cannot be religious and queer. In fact, religion is often the very thing that’s co-opted as an excuse to push queer people to the margins.
But The Forbidden Apple Podcast has created a space of radical acceptance that brings underrepresented voices to the forefront to discuss what faith means to them and what it looks like in their day-to-day life. Pelayo and Melissa’s nuanced interviews give listeners the tools they need to tear apart binaries, connect more deeply with their spirituality, and ultimately live a more meaningful life.
As part of our Pride month showcase, we’re highlighting some of the leading LGBTQIA+ voices within the MatchMaker.fm community. So we caught up with Pelayo and Melissa to learn more about the inspiring ethos that fuels the work they do through The Forbidden Apple Podcast.
What are the most common forms of spiritual violence experienced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community?
From complete rejection to LGBTQ folks being told they are sinners and God doesn't love them to conversion therapy, LGBTQ folks have suffered (and continue to suffer) a lot of harm by religious institutions. Encouraging young people to hate themselves is violent and devastating to a healthy sense of self. And on top of that, just imagine somebody destroying your connection with something bigger than you that could help you heal from all of the above.
What advice would you give to others in the LGBTQIA+ community who want to connect more deeply with their spirituality?
Put aside what others tell you about what you can and cannot do, who you can and cannot be. Take time to figure it out and feel your way through to what feels right for you. You are allowed to cherry-pick. Your way of understanding spirituality (nature, higher power, art, rituals) is valid as long as it's respectful and resonates with who you are. Spirituality can be anything. You are the one who defines it for yourself.
Which one of your previous episodes do you feel really captures what your show is all about? And why?
Oh wow, it's hard to choose. We like to say they all do. But here are some episodes you can start with:
- For those who want to explore interfaith alternatives: Chani Getter, an interfaith minister.
- For those who need help parting ways from non-affirming environments: Brit Barron a recovering megachurch pastor.
- For those who want to be religious and queer: Rev. Liz Edman
Why is Pride month important to you?
It is important to celebrate pride because although many of us live in areas of the world where we are safe and celebrated, we need to keep in mind it’s not always been this way. Many LGBTQ folks around the globe still are not celebrated, accepted, or even safe. It’s crucial that wherever they are they see folks like them who are living their lives fully and are celebrated for it.
What keeps you motivated to continue podcasting?
Being able to provide a need and fill a void for our community. We also love connecting with folks around the world on their spiritual journey. Having folks reach out about how this space has helped them come out. Seeing our guests connect with each other and creating a community of radical acceptance. This brings us so much joy. We also love having a creative space, in which we can be advocates for our community in a way that feels right for us.
What does the future hold for The Forbidden Apple?
We will keep being a space of radical acceptance. We are working on an exciting new series taking TFA around the world. Our first stop will be a series that explores how LGBTQ people live their spirituality in Africa. We are also working on a very special documentary and preparing our come back to live events!
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The Forbidden Apple Podcast is proud to support GLAAD in their efforts to rewrite the script for LGBTQIA+ acceptance in the media.