The LGBTQ+ Column: 'QueerTalk' Radio Show Inspires

By Lichen Forster
QueerTalk hosts chat to listeners on live air.QueerTalk hosts chat to listeners on live air.

Togetherness is an important concept in the LGBTQ+ community. Members find solace and strength within their community, and liberation efforts that focus on the collective have historically been more successful than lone protests.

When freshmen Michaela Wong and Joshua Baldonado decided to join University Radio Hilo (URH), they had this togetherness in mind.

“Last fall, Josh saw some ad for the radio station,” Wong said. “[He asked], “Do you want to join with me?”…I guess it made it easier to do it with somebody instead of yourself if you’re just starting.”

Wong and Baldonado met in the dorms in fall 2020, and soon bonded over their shared experiences in the LGBTQ+ community. In the process of training for URH, they decided that a show centered on these experiences and the community at large would be fitting. Last October, after a year of putting out the show, the two were called into a meeting with URH advisor Jake Galves, who told them about a conversation between a University of Hawaiʻi Hilo staff member and an attendee of an informal tour.

“One of the friends of the girl who the tour was initially for, was like, “yeah, they [the QueerTalk hosts] gave us the courage to come out to our parents,”” Baldonado shared. “…Around that time, I was in a major depressive episode; [I] was not really feeling myself, and hearing that I made a positive impact in someone's life…it made me feel grateful for just existing and being here.”

“We were pretty sure the only people who listened were just our friends or whoever else was in the station at the time,” Wong said. “…[and] it just reminded me a lot of when I was younger, figuring everything out…I didn’t really see that many out, queer folks in the media…it’s just really nice knowing that we’re some type of model for other people to look up to; to make things less scary.”

Around this time, the two decided that their original title, ‘LGBtea’, needed some sprucing up.

“It was a cute play on words,” Baldonado said. “Like, you know, ‘spill the tea.’ But as the show progressed, we realized not everyone’s gonna know that it’s spelt that way.” As of last fall, the two are known as the hosts of ‘QueerTalk.’

QueerTalk hosts Michaela Wong and Joshua Baldonado posing in the 'whisper room'.QueerTalk hosts Michaela Wong and Joshua Baldonado posing in the 'whisper room.'

“Setting aside a whole hour just to be in this type of space where you discuss these types of just made me feel a lot more comfortable with my own sexuality,” Wong said. “[And now] I just have so much more of an appreciation and respect for everybody in [the LGBTQ+ community.]”

“My identity on my gender has changed a lot to the point where I just try not to think about it,” Baldonado said laughingly. “I just concluded with, ʻI go by he/they [pronouns], and I don’t know if I’m a cis male or not.”

Wong and Baldonado, now sophomores, are both marine science majors. While they don’t plan to pursue radio after graduation, they take pride in the show they are developing together.

“We’d really like it if, after we leave, other people could carry it on,” Wong said. “It’d just be absolutely wild…if we come back in 10 years…and hear some other people hosting the show.”

For the 2022 spring semester, listen to QueerTalk every Friday from 1-2pm on 101.1 FM.

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin was the right hand of Martin Luther King Jr. His accomplishments included organizing the New York branch of the Congress on Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the March on Washington, and a one-day student strike. He was also an openly gay man, and got involved in the LGBTW+ rights movement.

Historical Profile and Graphic by Naomi Lemieux