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An Interview with Eden Robinson

Learn all about writer and podcaster Eden "Simchah" Robinson in this new interview! Eden tells us about her journey of Becoming Shameless, coming out as a lesbian at twenty-seven, and her experiences of being a memoir author and podcast host, as well as the importance of sapphic representation for queer women. You don't want to miss it!


 

Hi, Eden! Thank you for joining us! First of all, please tell us a little bit about yourself. 


Thank you so much for having me!


I'm a silly little lesbian and personal trainer living in Northern California. I co-host a podcast with my girlfriend Jackie called Just Dykin' Around (available on YouTube and Spotify). We react to interesting Reddit posts, from subreddits like r/AITA, r/actuallesbians, r/wholesome, and we also discuss sapphic characters and representation. We have lots of fun, and pride ourselves on creating the kind of content we like to watch/listen to.



In February of 2023, you published a memoir titled Becoming Shameless. Could you tell us a bit about the book and what inspired you to write it?


Becoming Shameless is my journey of healing. I grew up in an abusive family situation, and internalizing a lot of homophobia.


I was inspired to write the book as I recognized that I wasn't alone. A lot of young adults are realizing their parents are not safe people. And a lot of sapphics are coming to terms with their queerness later in their lives. If my words can help someone else feel more understood and less alone, then that means everything.




Memoirs are deeply personal works; it must have been daunting to open yourself up while reliving past experiences, too. How long did the writing process take and what were your greatest challenges while working on it?


I wrote the first draft in a week.


Once I started writing, everything just came pouring out… it was such a catharsis. Editing was also cathartic, as it forced me to read my own words as if they were someone else's. It helped me see my younger self with more compassion, as I realized how much she had to navigate and deal with. She really was doing her best. 


I think the hardest part was waiting for feedback from my beta readers and professional editor, because patience doesn't come easily to me



Becoming Shameless chronicles a journey of self-love. What do you hope readers will take away from your work, if anything? 


Yes! I hope readers feel validated, and empowered to make their lives their own. Having boundaries is not selfish, it's self-care.



The book also shares that you came out at the age of twenty-seven. What was your coming out experience like, and how did doing so a little later than most affect your relationship with your sexuality? Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell your past self, or perhaps anybody still coming to terms with their identity, as an out-and-proud lesbian?


My coming out experience was a process… I briefly questioned my supposed straightness in high school, but I was like “That's a problem for Later Me!” and I just breezed right past it.

Then, in my early 20’s, I tentatively identified as a bisexual. But after my mom said she didn't think I was gay, I believed her and crawled back into the closet.


When I was 27, I saw the Ghostbusters movie and instantly fell in love with Kate McKinnon. I watched more of her various performances and interviews, and I identified so strongly with her presentation of queerness. 


I followed all the Kate fanblogs I could find on Tumblr. One day, one of them shared a post about compulsory heterosexuality and instantly my whole life made sense. That's when I knew I'm a lesbian.


It took me a while to unlearn all the homophobia and lesbophobia I had internalized. I was in therapy for a few months before I could even say the word “lesbian” out loud. I had to unlearn a lot of shame. 


I've worked through most of it, but after being closeted for 27 years I do still have a very small part of me that feels scared and ashamed. Which is why I'm so loud and proud - I want to become the type of adult I wish I had in my life when I was growing up. I am showing my inner child that being an out lesbian is actually wonderful and fun and lovely. And little by little, she's starting to believe it. 


In terms of advice, I'd say seek out positive and relatable representation. The more you see people like you living happy lives, the more you believe it's possible for yourself.


Also, please go watch Natalie Wynn’s YouTube video called “Shame.” Her channel’s name is ContraPoints, and in the video she talks about being a trans lesbian giving up her “perfect” relationship with a man in order to be her authentic self. Her video is exquisite, incredibly powerful, and an absolute work of art. I've rewatched it too many times to count, and it always leaves me feeling validated and comforted.


Also, yes! I wish I could go back in time and say “Hey, you're a lesbian, you don't have to date men! Go forth and be gay! (Also, you're never gonna be good enough for your mom - block her now, go to therapy, and move on…)”



The book seems to have been received by readers beautifully, with a 4.6 star average on Goodreads! What was it like to publish your memoir after the time spent writing it, and how does it feel to reveal so much of your story to readers? 


Thank you!! 

Publishing it was a thrill! I'm a chronic over-sharer, so I felt very comfortable releasing my book into the wild. 


I decided to publish it under a pseudonym of Eden Simchah rather than my legal name of Eden Robinson, just because I didn't want to be in the position of applying for a job and have the book come up immediately if they googled my name.



You also host the new podcast Just Dykin’ Around with your girlfriend (crossover collab, anyone?). Tell us about that! What made you decide to start recording, and what sort of things do your episodes explore?


Omg we'd love to do a crossover collaboration!


I came up with the idea in December, and I thought that recording a podcast together could be a fun activity for us. We recorded our first episode, I edited it, and it went live on YouTube on January 2nd! 


We live four hours apart, so recording each new episode is like our weekly date night.


We discuss wacky Reddit stories, queer characters, personal anecdotes, and honestly anything that makes us laugh.



How has sapphic representation in the media affected you personally, and why is it important to you to keep providing more through your memoir and podcast?


I'm not being facetious when I say that sapphic representation saved my life. Kate McKinnon showed me a presentation of lesbianism I had never seen before, and that allowed me to recognize my own queerness. The way my mental health improved so dramatically after I came out… nothing else could have helped me that much. Feeling seen has such an incredibly positive and healing impact on our psyche, and that's why representation is so important. I hope I can provide even a fraction of the joy and validation I've gotten from other artists and creators. 



Have any shows, movies, books, or games influenced your own work at all?


Omg, where do I even start…


Kate McKinnon obviously, and her portrayal of Jillian Holtzmann in Ghostbusters. P!nk’s music has been incredibly impactful and comforting for me, and gotten me through some of my darkest times. The memoirs of Jeannette McCurdy and Tarana Burke, and how they're written with such honesty, vulnerability, and wisdom. And videos from creators like Natalie Wynn, who craft masterpieces of political commentary, humor, and in-depth explorations of how to become a more compassionate and ethical person in a deeply troubled world. 


I'm also a huge fan of standup comedy! Josh Johnson is my top recommendation - he’s one of the most talented storytellers I've ever seen, and I can't wait to see him become a huge name in comedy. My girlfriend and I just got to see him perform live, and every single one of his punchlines were comedic perfection. It was so fantastic, we actually bought tickets to another show on the same tour!


Ok, I think I'm done fangirling now.


Nothing I create is on the level of these incredible storytellers, but they are all very inspirational. I try to create content that brings genuine joyful comfort to readers and listeners, just as the people I mentioned above have given me.



What’s next for you? Are you still writing, or will your focus be on the podcast for the foreseeable? We’d love a hint about any future projects!


I'm definitely focusing on the podcast right now, but I've also been slowly working on a sapphic love story I might publish someday…



If you could give any advice to authors set to write and/or publish their memoir, what would it be?


Oh gosh, I'm not sure I'm in a place to give anyone else advice.

But if I had to, I'd say: Make sure that you're writing something you want to read. If a passage bores you, it's gonna bore your readers - either delete it or re-work it. If a passage excites you, it's probably going to be one of your readers’ favorite parts. If you're feeling stuck, write the scene you wish you could read. Create the stories you love the most.



Our podcast focuses on media we’re currently loving. Are there any books, shows, movies, or games you’re enjoying at the moment? Any recommendations for our audience? Bonus points if it includes sapphics!


I just started reading Viola Davis's memoir Finding Me, and I absolutely love it so far! It's not sapphic (as far as I know), but it is an incredible book. 


I also love the show We’re Here on HBO - three drag queens travel along the “bible belt” of the United States, give drag makeovers to queer people who live in those towns, and put on incredible drag shows. It's so beautiful to see these queer individuals tell their stories, express themselves, have fun, and be supported through the whole process. 


I also watch a lot of YouTube! Besides Natalie Wynn, I also love other hilarious creators like Annamarie Forcino, Strange Aeons, Withcindy, Sarah Z, Folding Ideas, Hbomberguy, D Fretter, and many more... 

And I don't know if it counts, but those first four creators are all sapphic! 



About Eden


Eden "Simchah" Robinson is a body-positive and LGBTQ-inclusive personal trainer based in San Francisco. This is her first book. She's been interviewed on various podcasts, including Coming Out Pod, The Late Bloomers Clvb, The Only One In The Room, and Am I The Crazy One? She also co-hosts a podcast with her girlfriend Jackie, called Just Dykin' Around.


To check out more of her writing, follow her on Instagram at @writing.eden.





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