Off the Beaten Track with the Far Queue
In this series, our editors at The Pantograph Punch venture out of the big cities and into the regions of Aotearoa to kōrero with some exciting creatives. In this one, editor Faith Wilson has a talanoa with Maluseu Monise (he/him) and Kelsy Scott (they/them), friends and creators of the Far Queue podcast. They kōrero about what equity means in community spaces, and holding space for uncomfortable conversations.
Faith: Tell me a bit about yourselves.
Kelsy: Maluseu is someone who always attracts people. He is a magnet for kindness. He is very compassionate and fuels people through good. If Joseph cooks for you, you know you’re loved.
Maluseu: Kelsy is the calm and the storm. I met them at a stage when they were still exploring what it meant to be, the self. The coolest thing that they did to cement our friendship was to call me out on my bullshit. That’s when our relationship really started. I told them I didn't like their nose ring. And they texted me that night and said, “I don’t wear my nose ring to please you.” Then they said, “At the same time, I'm letting you know what you said hit me in a certain place.” No one ever did that to me, put me in my place like that, and so I thanked them. And they were like, “Okay cool, bye.” In saying that, through the growth of our journey I've watched the solidifying of their backbone so they can be the storm when they need to be.
F: What is the Far Queue podcast?
M: For us, it’s the conversations that have been forgotten or are still to be had. All that space between understanding, that’s the Far Queue.
At the beginning, Kelsy shoulder tapped me to do a podcast and we wanted to focus it on what we know: Queer issues, anything that’s affecting our Queer communties. The more we hashed it out, the more we saw the intersectionalities between different minority groups, and some of their shared experiences and plights. That’s not to say that we’re just binding them all together.
It’s so difficult to find a space for conversations about being ignorant about a topic. Where you can be ignorant and also feel safe. That psychological safety is so important – it’s nowhere. I don't feel safe even in my workplace to talk about these things. We decided to zoom out of our story and ask what support looks like for all of our communities.
K: It’s about being in community in that uncomfortable space. Made by community for community. We’re just people that are letting the conversation happen. Most of the episode we don’t really talk. We’re prompting [the interviewee] to keep going and talk about their support systems.
M: The Far Queue is made to dismantle oppressors, and those who are oppressed. It’s a cycle that we haven’t yet stopped. We want to disrupt that. Holding space for these conversations disrupts that.
It’s about growth. We’ve defined growth as measurable, but if you’ve taken one thing away from an hour-long conversation, that’s growth. If you disagree and are challenged, that’s growth. The Far Queue has broadened my perspective to a lot of things I was so ignorant [about].
K: We have an overarching question for our first season: “What does equity in support look like for various communities coexisting within one society?” The Far Queue conversations talk about equity rather than equality. Understanding that there's a difference between community and communities. People can exist in more than one – so how do they integrate with each other?
In some community spaces it feels like if you don’t know anything then you can’t talk about it, there’s no safe spaces to learn. This is a safe space to do that.
M: If there’s anything I could relate the framework to, it’s the concept of vā – the space between understanding, the space between things. It's such a necessary space and I don’t think we quite know how to hold space for all the hard conversations and potentially unsettling truths. The Far Queue is about opening doors for the conversations we have in private but are too whakamā to have in public.
F: What’s your dream for the Far Queue?
K: We want to continue to uplift the communities around us.
M: I would like to take the Far Queue to the communities – out of the podcast form and into public events. That’s our dream. I don’t have a ‘wishlist’ for individuals, I want to dismantle the restrictions to access through talanoa.
K: The Far Queue in the wild, hahaha. They’ll still be recorded and shared, but so far it’s just been us and a guest and we want to take it further, to facilitate conversations in groups.
M: Yeah – to facilitate events where you come to have Far Queue conversations about racism, religion or homosexuality.
At the end of the day, community is about people. We hope that these conversations add value to communities.
F: How do you make sure your space is safe?
K: We meet up beforehand. We do whanaungatanga, we hang out. We give them some prompts if they’ve never been in a studio before. We tell them that you only share what you want to share, it’s your choice.
M: It’s about allowing them to meet you. I wait there until they reciprocate. That is their choice. We need to allow that to happen. We’ve already connected outside the walls, and it makes for richer conversation inside the walls. I feel safe around them, and they feel safe around me. Safety is about reciprocal fostering and sharing.
K: People often show they feel safe by calling us out during the recording. They feel safe enough that they’re able to say, “Hey, I don’t agree with that”, and know that it’s a space where we’ll listen. We’re thankful that we can have those open conversations.
F: Do you have any final thoughts?
M: We didn’t set up at the beginning to have this ‘thing’. It grew its own legs and started walking on its own. I’m so fuckin’ proud of what we created. It’s our first baby.
Everyone has an overwhelming appreciation for their communities – even if they sometimes critique their communities too. We try to have various age ranges, abilities, genders and perspectives, but at the same time there will always be the Far Queue conversation that we’re missing out on. We hold space for that too.
K: We had no idea what we were in for and we didn’t know what this adventure would look like. Neither of us had done anything like this before but it doesn’t feel like mahi, it feels like we get to hang out with cool people all the time.
M: It’s been such a growth of space, because people are articulating from their heart. One of the biggest takeaways for me is that some people cry when they’re speaking to you. Often when people cry through their talking it’s because they feel like they’re not being heard or received or welcomed as of equal value. People had been crying to me for a long time and I hadn’t been paying attention. Realising that was challenging. I had to learn to hold space for people's stories. Not to respond. Just to hold them and absorb them in their entirety.
I’ve got deeper ears now. The podcast has generated its own natural tsunami waves. Now I yearn for deep-water conversation. I'm not about these shallow-water conversations. Catch me in the moana.
Listen to Season 1 of the Far Queue podcast here.