This week on “Going Out With Jake Cornell,” Jake goes out with comedian, writer, and actor Tien Tran. The two discuss the problem with “chill” parents, coming out to their families, and why they want to stop hearing so much about straight sex.
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Jake Cornell: Wait, so you’re back in L.A.? Did you grow up in L.A. or did your parents move there?
Tien Tran: My parents live an hour and a half south of L.A.. I was born outside of Philly and I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania.
J: Okay thrive
T: I identify as an Erie, Pennsylvania person. My sisters make fun of me because I’m the only one that identifies as that.
J: Wait, is that because you’re the youngest? Did your parents, your sister…
T: I’m the third, but we’re all spread out.
T: I have two older sisters that are seven and eight years older than me, and then I have a younger sister that’s nine years younger than me, and I spent formative years in Erie, yeah.
J: I feel like that’s not — because I also have very spread-out siblings. I have a sister who’s currently 3.
J: It’s very, very spread out, but I’ve never talked to someone who’s also in that situation but didn’t have — because I have my sister who’s only two and a half years younger than me, so the fact that you guys are all spread out like that is interesting to me. Do you know what I mean?
T: Are you the oldest?
J: I’m the oldest, I’m very much the oldest.
T: How does it feel?
J: I mean it’s all I’ve ever known but I have a lot of oldest pride and I really connect with other oldests. I think there’s a lot we have in common. It’s like my other version of astrology. It’s like, where do you fall in siblings?
T: See, to me birth order is way more interesting in telling of a personality in my opinion versus astrology.
J: I mean it, It has-
T: I could probably-
J: It has societal and scientific, sociological implications that are concrete and undeniable, as opposed to “Stars in the Sky.”
T: I couldn’t agree more, but I don’t want people to come for us, okay?
J: Yeah, because you’re interesting. That’s interesting to me because you’re middle but you also had seven years of being baby.
J: I think that’s always really someone who was conscious of when they lost baby status, it’s real for them.
T: It’s real. I think that’ll be the name of my book. “Seven Years of Being Baby.” Love that book title. Do you mind if I take it?
J: No, it’s yours because I was never baby. I guess I was baby when there was only one me, one of us, but you can have it because it’s not true to me.
T: I like to say that I’m balanced in that I had seven years of baby, but then several years of middle and also then being the oldest in the house because my sisters went off to college, did their thing.
J: You got 360.
J: I’m curious, because you had someone who’s nine years older than you, did you have the thing whereby the time you were in your teens, your parents had been at it so long that they were like, “Do whatever you want. We’re done parenting.”
T: Oh, almost. My youngest sister got that.
J: Yeah. Oh my God, my high school boyfriend, his siblings were significantly older, they were all in college when we were in high school or graduated and fully adults and his parents were like, “You could move to Utah, we don’t give a sh*t. Do whatever you want.” They loved him and they were lovely but he could do whatever he wanted, whatever he wanted.
T: Did you benefit from that when you guys hung out, if you went over to their house?
J: A hundred percent, a hundred percent.
T: See, that’s so nice.
T: I’m so jealous of that.
J: Well, I was oldest so I was living under a microscope and…
T: Yes you were.
J: My mom wasn’t crazy controlling but she was on top of everything. She was the kind of mom who wouldn’t — she couldn’t go to bed if I wasn’t home yet, so she’d be like, “You need to come home, I’m tired.” I’d be like, “Go to bed.” She’d be like, “No, I’m tired.” I’d be like, “Then go to bed, I’m fine.”
T: I know. My mom was like that too. I did that thing where I would go to a friend’s house and she’d be like, “Make sure you call me when you get there.”
T: It was such a simple instruction and I always forgot because I got so hyped on being around other kids.
J: Every time, every time.
T: Every time.
J: When I started driving and I would be like, and God forbid I put my cell phone down when I got to someone’s house, I’d have 30 calls being like, “Are you dead in a ditch? Are you dead in a ditch? Are you dead in a ditch?” I’d be like, “No. Chill out.”
T: I know. What was I doing that I couldn’t call? Getting so excited about sharing one bottle of Malibu rum? Couldn’t be bothered to call my mom just to be like, “I’m here.”
J: Wait. Okay, so now we’ve arrived at were you going out and partying in high school? Was this part of your journey?
T: A little bit, but it was all secret.
T: I think I was probably starting to go out junior, senior year, but my parents were very strict so I probably got to go out once a month, which was crazy compared to my older sisters who really didn’t get to do that much at all, and then my younger sister was doing whatever she wanted and snowboarding all the time. Really, I’m pretty pissed that my little sister got to snowboard. It feels like a very critical difference in our youth that she got to hit the mountains because that was so much money that my parents spent on soccer for me, but soccer had a purpose and an end goal potentially but with snowboarding..
J: To get a scholarship
T: Yeah, but with snowboarding it was just to snowboard. We had one friend, you know the friend that their parents were, “Just drink here, it’s fine.”
J: Oh, absolutely.
T: Was that your high school boyfriend’s house?
J: No, there wasn’t even that. It was just the kind of thing where they were very trusting and chill and we’d be like, “Hey, we’re going to have five friends over and we’re camping in the backyard,” and they wouldn’t look to see what we were doing. Do you know what I mean? They weren’t like “Bring a keg,” but if we brought a keg, there wouldn’t have really been a conversation around that.
T: Okay. See, that’s so cool.
J: It’s what I felt.
T: That’s how I was too. We would have a party just at someone’s house in someone’s basement. One particular friend had the ideal setup where their basement was separate from the main house, you could only enter through the garage, which I was like, “Jesus, this is a speakeasy.”
J: One has to ask though, why did your dad want that? Do you know what I mean? I’m like, “This is so fun, Dylan, why the f*ck did your parents do it this way? That’s really concerning to me.”
T: 100 percent.
J: They’re like, “Well, the basement of the main house is actually one big refrigerator.” And you’re like, “Why?”
T: “Why do you need all this meat stored for so long? What’s going on?” That’s how it was, and it was a straight-up bar.
T: We just went there and would get trashed and then drive home the next morning. It was very fun.
T: It was very fun.
J: It’s interesting because I don’t know where I stand on — as an adult looking back on a parent who does that?
T: Would you do that? If you were to have kids, would you be that parent?
J: See, my honest response that comes up when you say that is, “This is one of the reasons I don’t want kids.” I just don’t even want to entertain this conversation. You know what I mean? I hear being — I know for a fact kids are going to do this.
J: I know they’re going to do this, so let’s give them a safe space to do it, but you are also allowing kids to — you’re having a relationship with a child externally from their parents. You’re telling them, I know you’re probably… And that’s where it specifically feels weird.
J: Do you know what I mean? That’s the specific thread that feels weird is having a knowledge of something that’s happening between you and a child or your child and another child and excluding their parents from it. Feels weird.
J: But I think someone’s got to do it or they’re going to get drunk in a river and someone will die. Do you know what I mean?
T: It’s so true. I mean that’s why I don’t want to have kids for that reason. I’m so fearful of river deaths and I just don’t want to encounter them at all.
J: You say that, but I grew up in Vermont, there were rivers. People were partying in the woods and there were rivers.
T: Oh my God.
J: I just think a basement is safer. You know what I mean?
T: It totally is safer, but I always wondered, did Carrie’s parents know that we were all getting drunk, and then also just hooking up with each other in the basement.
J: I know. Is it a little bit of don’t ask, don’t tell, or being like, “Well they’re all in the basement and they’re safe and I’m going to let everyone sleep here.” Because I was at — so I didn’t party a ton. I didn’t party a ton in high school because frankly my high school was kind of lame. That’s like the truth of it. But the high school over from mine was cool and my boyfriend in high school, senior year, went to that high school, so that’s when I started hanging out with those people. And I was at one house party a lot like what you’re talking about, where we were in the basement and it was like to the side and her parents were having a party upstairs and I thought everything was above board, but apparently this mom genuinely thought there were 35 kids, 17-year-olds hanging out in this basement drinking Capri-Sun.
J: And she came downstairs and caught us drinking. And it was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life because she was yelling at us. She was yelling and she was yelling at her daughter in front of all of us. And I was just like, “I want to leave.” But then she was like, “Everyone has to go right now.” And I was like, I hadn’t really been drinking, and I was like, “All these kids are drunk. You’re making a bunch of kids drive drunk now.”
J: And I didn’t feel comfortable enough at the time to be like, “You should just let everyone sleep in your house, otherwise this is so bad.” And it was just… Because that’s another situation where it’s like you got to kind of just let them stay in your house, unfortunately. Or call their parents and be like, “Come pick your kids up.” But to kick a bunch of kids out and make them drive is crazy.
T: That’s crazy.
J: I’m never having children. This is crazy to me.
T: Never. Never want to. I never want to worry about what they’re doing, where they are. I don’t want to teach any lessons. I don’t want to have any hard conversations.
J: Oh my God.
T: No way.
J: I would actually be medically, physically, spiritually incapable of convincing a child to do homework because I never did homework. I actually couldn’t do it. They’d be like, “Do I have to do this?” I’d be like…
J: They’d be like, “Have you ever used algebra once?” And I’m like, “Not even when I was taking Algebra,” literally.
T: I know I could see you being, “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to do it.”
J: I just can’t pull a sham like that, I would have to be honest.
T: I feel like I would be the one that could maybe, but my partner would be like, “No, absolutely not. This is a racket.”
J: Yeah, I remember I had a couple of teachers, without really outing anyone, but I remember I had one teacher where there were a lot of things that I would always bring up being, “Why are they this way and this way and this way.” And I would get really frustrated with them. And then when I was an adult, my mom was like, “Oh, severe alcoholic.” And I was like, “Oh.” I was like, “Oh.” And the way that I was seeing all the pieces but didn’t have the data to understand how it pieced together, and it’s like, I also don’t think if I was a parent I would be so… I would have to tell them in the moment, I don’t think I’d be like, “I’ll tell you in 10 years when you’re an adult.”
T: Yeah, if I knew something about my kid’s teacher, I’d be like, “Yeah, she’s going through a really bad divorce right now. You have to be a little easier on her.” Or I would probably spill some tea about it.
J: And also conversely, if I had kids in high school and this does not make me come off as a good person and this is just the truth.
T: I can’t wait.
J: I would sit my children down every single day for dinner, open a bottle of wine and be like, “Tell me every single piece of gossip happening at your high school. What the f*ck else are we here for? I’m like, tell me every single piece of gossip. Tell me every rumor.”
T: Okay. But that would be so fun.
J: That’s what I’m saying.
T: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would want to know, you’re right. I would want to know it all.
J: And then that would be my actual kids’ homework. I’d be like, “Okay, so you’re going to go to school tomorrow and you’re going to ask Hannah this because I want to know.” I would be sending them with data collected information because that’s all I would care about.
T: The thing that I would worry about most with kids in this time is honestly social media, like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok.
J: I can’t even get into it.
T: I can’t even think about it.
J: No, No.
T: I have a niece. Do you have any nieces or nephews?
J: Well as I mentioned, I have a sister who’s three and-
T: That’s right.
J: And then I have a brother who’s 14 and a brother who’s 20. And then I have cousins. So it’s going to be a while before I have nieces and nephews, but I have relatives who are in the teenage years for sure.
T: Okay, so I’m constantly worried about how they’re going to be online.
J: Yeah, it’s so insane.
T: Yes. It’s so insane. I was already… Could you imagine being in middle school and seeing the actual data that someone is more popular than you? To actually see the number?
J: Yeah. I mean I was having that in middle school and high school a little bit with AIM and MySpace and Facebook, but not to the extent that it’s happening now.
T: It would crush me.
J: I will say in a certain way I think — no, this is me just trying to put a positive spin on something.
J: What I was going to say is social media now is designed to be more public facing. Everything is posted. TikToks are you post them for everyone to see.
J: I feel like MySpace and Facebook were designed for you to create pockets of exclusion and highlight that other people were being left out. Do you know what I mean? That was the purpose. You were posting an album to be like, “Hey look, everyone was invited to this party except for Tien.” You know what I mean?
T: So true. Okay. You know what? That really, I feel triggered by that.
J: It’s actually really real. You’re like, “Wow, my four best friends in my aunt’s house and I was not invited.”
T: In my aunt’s house. It’s so true. It’s so true.
J: But I’m sure — the thing about it is it’s like the kids are so smart that whatever’s happening on the way that bullying and bad things are happening on social media right now, we don’t even know that feature. Whatever the features they’re using that makes that happen, they’re using social media in a way that you and I could not probably comprehend.
T: No, Never. Never. And so maybe they are well equipped to handle it. I don’t know. If I got bullied right now, I’d crumble. I would.
J: The thing about it is I know. Yeah. If I got bullied right now…
T: Yeah, if you had someone actively bullying you, not a troll, a person that you knew.
J: See, this is where I run into problems because this is why I always freeze up is because I always go immediately too far. It’s very Scorpio of me. I know you don’t believe in astrology, but maybe it’s an oldest child thing, because you’re — it’s always coming from above where it’s like, “Oh you bully me. Let me figure out how to ruin you in one statement.” Do you know what I mean?
T: Okay, that’s legit.
J: It’s very much I’m thinking about — I remember one time my sister was really driving me nuts and I just turned her and I was like, “Mom and dad were so happy before you were born.” That like, wasn’t even true, wasn’t even true, but just knew — decimate. You know what I mean? And that’s the thing is if I were to be bullied now, I would just go so brutal or need to that I would be paralyzed that I need to figure out what that thing is. Or I would then say something so bad that everyone would be, “Actually, Jake, that was f*cked up.” You know what I mean? “We know you’re getting bullied, but that was f*cked up.”
T: Like getting bullied but then I could see being the one to end it with something too real, too close.
T: Tapping into generational trauma for that person and completely ending them. Okay. I like that. I like that.
J: Yeah. Because it’s like, if you’re going to come from me, because if you’re going to fight to bully me. You’re going to come from me something superficial that is some, but still has that power to cut me to my soul, so then I’m going to cut the corner by then by just going for something generationally deep and rooted and painful.
T: Yes, will hit you existentially.
J: Exactly. That is the goal. That is deeply the goal. Wait, okay. So we share a very good friend KK Apple, one of the greatest people on Earth.
T: One of the greatest people. Shout out to KK Apple.
J: Huge shout out to KK Apple. Did you go to BC together? Is that where you know KK from?
T: Yes. Yeah.
T: I mean KK is truly one of my best friends.
T: My best friend in the whole world. We went to Boston College together. We were in the same sketch group together.
J: God bless.
T: And we immediately bonded over wanting to write sketches that were super silly and feminist for the time, and we just had so much fun. She also was a year older than me, so I always looked at her as a role model. I was just like, “KK is the coolest. She’s like got her sh*t together.” She was an emotional and intellectual role model for me.
J: KK is so amazing to me because it’s like she’s one of those people that’s funny and joyful, but there’s an energy about her where I also know that you’re solid as a rock.
J: There’s somehow that you can be joyful and silly, but I know that no one can f*ck with you. You don’t seem weak. Do you know what I mean?
T: Not at all. Wait, how do you know KK?
J: Through UCB.
T: Oh, amazing. Were you guys on the same team together?
J: Were we? No, I don’t think we ever were, but we did practice together, and then when we were on Harold night, we were on the same rotation. So I would see her every… We’d be in the green room together every show.
T: That is such a good read of her. She really is so joyful, so fun, but you could never f*ck with her.
J: No. An immovable stone in this Earth, God bless.
T: Yes. Yep.
J: So you went to BC from Erie, Pennsylvania.
T: Yes. Yeah. Yeah.
J: What was the vibe like socially at BC? Was it a party vibe? Was it hell? Was it good?
T: I will probably never go back to a reunion. That’s how I feel about college.
J: Do they do college reunions? This shows how much I’m likely to go back to a UVM reunion. They do college reunions?
J: I had no idea.
T: Oh my God. And it is a huge big thing. I feel like the thing about BC is that we didn’t have sororities or fraternities, but we were a very big sports school. And so the sports teams cultivated almost like you could go to the football party, the hockey party, and then there would be people that had houses and there were proto-sororities and fraternities. So I was a part of one. We were all named by our address that we lived at.
T: And it was a big, very big-time party school. I think that’s why it took me so long to come out because I was like, “This is what life is supposed to be. Get drunk. This is my future is just to bop around and try to find a husband at these parties.”
J: Oh my God.
J: Did you come out at all at BC or was it after?
T: I came out senior year, but not in a way that was public to everyone, just to close friends and the woman that I had a crush on, that was it.
J: God bless.
T: God bless.
J: I can relate to being at a school that was very much designed for heterosexual party socializing at all times.
T: What was it like?
J: I was out, so it was very much the thing of, I just kind of played the fun gay role. I’m the fun gay guy at the party but just knew I was never getting laid literally ever.
T: Same. Yeah. College was a real dry spell for me. I think I was just like… I had so much fun. Thank God I got into that sketch group because honestly it was the saving grace. I had KK, all of my best friends from college are all from that group, and I still am very close friends with the fake sorority that I was a part of, but-
T: It was also Catholic. It’s like I didn’t realize how-
J: What drew you there, is I guess a question I have? It’s actually a huge question I have, why you went there.
T: Looking back, honestly didn’t have any good reasons. My older sister that I really looked up to went to BU.
T: And I loved Boston but wanted in my — I don’t know why we’re letting 18-year-olds decide anything about their future. But my reasoning, I was like, I want a campus feel and BC had a very old school, college campus energy. And other than that, honestly, I don’t know why I chose it.
J: I know.
T: Outside of being in Boston and then being on campus, period.
J: Right. That’s so funny.
T: Why did you choose? You went to UVM?
J: Yeah, I chose UVM because it was the one I could afford. But I was obsessed with going to Boston colleges, because I think when you grow up in New England, it’s like Boston is viewed as this sweeping cultural metropolis and center.
J: And then you live in New York for a few years and you’re like, what is that town? So I was obsessed with going to Emerson or BU, those were my big schools.
J: And I got into them, but then I think Emerson gave me some money, BU gave me financial aid. At the time BU was $60,000 a year and my financial aid package was $75.
J: It’s actually the funniest thing anyone’s ever done. It’s the funniest piece of comedy I’ve ever encountered was I got a financial aid package from Boston University for $75.
T: That is — what are you — was it just $75 per — I’m trying to break down the logic behind it. You can buy a pencil.
J: I vividly remember getting — I actually vividly remember what happened was I got the acceptance letter in the mail from BU and it was a big one. So I knew I had gotten in and I was freaking out. I was like, “I’m going to BU.” And I pulled it out and it was a folder and I called my mom and I was like, “I got in.” And then as I was talking to her, I pulled the letter out to read it and when I pulled the letter out to read it behind it was the financial aid package. So while reading it to my mom, I was like, “Oh, the financial aid package is in there too.” And she was like, “Oh my God, how much do they give you?” And I was like, “$75.” And she was like, “What? $75,000?” I was like, “No. $75.” And I think it was named after someone. It was the KK Apple Book Grant. And it was clearly for buying one textbook.
T: It honestly probably costs them almost $75 to print that stuff and send it to you. Oh my God. Yeah. No, again, looking back at BC, I don’t know why I went because I’m still paying off loans.
T: I graduated in 2009. I’m still paying off. It’s just so ridiculous.
J: It’s insane. It’s insane.
T: It’s insane. I should have never gone.
J: Yeah. It’s insane. And it’s like, it’s funny because I brought it up because of what you said, which is like, I don’t think I would’ve liked any of those. It’s not that I — Okay, it’s not that I wouldn’t have liked either of those schools, when I looked back on almost going to Emerson and almost going to BU and knowing who I was at 17, when I was dying to go there and how impressionable I was and how much of a sponge I was to soak up who I was and what my personality was going to be-
J: I shudder to think of who I would be if I had gone to one of those schools. I was primed to be a detestable human. I needed to go through, I needed to be lost for a few more years. If I had just been put in with a bunch of artists, it would’ve been so bad for me.
T: I know, I think about that with one particular thing at BC, I had applied to be an orientation leader. And I don’t know if orientation leaders at UVM had a cultish feel, but at BC they were a little weird-ass cult and they were just too happy. But probably dead inside. But also just so positive. Loved the school so much and I auditioned and made it to the final. I remember I made it to the final round and I was interviewing with a bunch of Jesuit priests and they were like, “What does being a part of a Jesuit academy mean to you?” And in my mind I was like, “Oh, I should have prepared for this question. Did it?” The spiritual religious side of things was not, I don’t care about that. And so I’m so glad I didn’t get that because I think that would’ve been my sliding doors. If I had gotten an orientation leader position, I’d be insufferable, I think, already more than I am. I think I would’ve been outrageous.
J: Absolutely. I think in general, the longer you go in life without getting what you want, the better for your personality.
T: I think so too.
J: I think that is profoundly true.
T: Well that’s beautiful. Honestly. That’s stunning. The more you fail…
J: It’s what I tell myself every time I don’t get something, I’m like, I’m going to look back on this moment in a few years and be like, “Thank God I didn’t get that.” You know what I mean?
T: It’s so true.
J: And so far it’s held true. So far it is held true.
T: You know what? Now Rolodexing through some of the things that I really, really wanted and didn’t get. I completely agree.
J: Yeah. It’s not like, yeah, obviously it’s not, I was up for “Avatar,” you know what I mean? And even still, you know what I mean? It’s, I haven’t missed something so insane. But the things I haven’t gotten, I’m oftentimes, I look back, I’m like, “Wow. Thank God.”
T: Yes. Actually, yes. Anytime I’ve auditioned for a cop drama the first few times… I think the first several auditions that I got were for cop dramas and I wanted it so bad. Because I feel like when you get an audition, you just want it. You just want it.
J: Oh my God. No matter, more than anything in the world. More than anything in the world.
T: You want it more than anything in the world. Of course I want to act with a police dog. Of course that’s something that I’ve dreamed of doing.
T: And when I didn’t get it, I’d always be so upset. But now I’m like, “Why would I have been upset about that?”
J: Yeah, it would.
T: I’m so thankful for not being part of some propaganda.
J: I know sitting here being, “I probably played a police officer for three years.”
T: I’m so thankful.
J: It’s really real, though. I do, I just think that it’s meant to get the things we’re meant… Or not even that we’re meant, but it’s, I look back at anything I haven’t gotten, and I’m like, I think it really did good for my personality.
T: I think so too.
J: People I know who have got what they wanted really early, they’re broken, they’re dead inside, they’re alive, they’re fine. I’m not speaking ill of the dead. But I think you have to want things, you know.
T: Have to want things. And I do know some people that have gotten, in a broad range, not just in the industry, just like they have gotten things that they’ve wanted.
J: Right. No, totally.
T: I’m thinking of college friends who immediately got the job that they wanted. Miserable.
J: Oh, miserable, miserable.
T: Miserable. Absolutely miserable.
J: That’s why I can’t understand how people — And I guess this is a little bit different because it’s like you’re working for it the whole time. But people who are on — I have a couple friends who, when I met them in high school, they were like, “I want to be this thing.” And they are now either still in school to become that thing because it’s some specific medical thing that takes 15 years of schooling or whatever. Or they are that thing after the 10 years of school it took them, and I’m like, it is so insane to me to still want to be on the path. I mean, granted, I guess I did want to be an actor when I was 17. Do you know what I’m saying? It just still seems crazy to me to not pivot at all and just be on this one path your entire life. It just is so wild to me. And I respect it and I also fear it.
T: I respect it and I completely fear it. But I think that’s also our generation of — like my dad, when he realized, or when I shared with him that I wanted to pivot — because I went to school for biology.
J: Oh wow.
T: And was like pre-med bio, the whole thing. When I pivoted, my parents were very supportive. They just didn’t understand it.
J: Did you bundle it with coming out? Was it like a one-two?
T: Oh God no. But honestly I should have made it a combo. I should have made it a combo.
J: I like the idea of parents being so thrown off by two things that they actually can’t get their footing to process either. There’s something really funny about that to me.
T: Oh my God, actually I waited until I was financially feeling good and in a place with other things before I came out so that they wouldn’t be like, “Is it because of X, Y, Z?”
J: Oh, interesting.
T: I didn’t come out to my family until I was 25 or 26. Thanksgiving, classic. My sister actually maybe kind of helped me with the combo because she was like 15 — wait, is that right? She wasn’t of drinking age yet. And that morning that I had planned on coming out, my nephew who was 3, found a bottle of vodka in her room. And I was so f*cken pissed because I was like, “Only one of us is allowed to disappoint mom and dad today and you are just ruining it for me.”
J: Wait, that’s so funny because the psychology of that is so funny to me because I would’ve been great some of the heat is on her. So I have a little bit less heat on me. But yours is completely coming from the comfort of the parents where you’re like, “They’re already in a bad mood. I can’t make it worse.”
T: Yes, yes.
J: Wow. That’s a deep level of empathy.
T: I mean obviously didn’t care that much because I still came out.
J: And then were you like, “Hey, can I have some of that vodka?”
T: But truly, I was so pissed. I was like, “They didn’t come to this country for this.” God dammit.
J: That is so funny. Oh, also just a 3-year-old finding it is so brutal.
T: I mean it was so innocent, too, for him because she had hid it behind a big bear and he was just walking around trying to find a bear. And of course my older sister went from zero to a thousand and was like, “What if he opened it up and drank it.” And I was like, “There’s no way.”
J: Honestly, incredible dexterity for a 3-year-old, they’d be fine.
T: The bottle is as big as him. If you could do that, honestly good for him. Would be proud.
J: Oh, that’s so good. Wait, so-
T: Wait, so when did you come out? When did you come out to your family?
J: When I was 16 on the way to my driver’s test.
T: Oh my God. Oh wow, wow, wow.
J: Yeah, it was a good old time.
T: Were they in the car with you?
J: My mom was. My mom was. And then I went and took my driver’s test, passed, and then went to my dad’s house and told my dad. And then I just changed it on Facebook to “Interested in men,” and that was sort of the whole process.
T: How was it? Oh my God.
J: It was a big moment for me.
T: That’s huge.
J: Facebook having the sexual — actually I will say that was a huge. That’s like an institution of social media that’s gone is Facebook having the “Interested in.” Do you remember this?
T: Yes. Yes.
J: Because you’d be like, “Are they gay?” And you’d look and if they’d have “Interested in the opposite sex,” you were like, “Well f*ck me, it’s over.” But if they didn’t have the “Interested in” filled out, you’re like, “There’s hope.” Do you remember this?
T: Yes, of course.
J: It would be — you’d look and it’d be their name and then it would say their gender and then it might say, “Interested in,” and if it said the opposite sex you were like, “F*ck.” If it didn’t say “Interested in” you were like, “Great. There’s hope.” And then if under that it said they were Christian, the hope was gone. And that was the process of elimination of hope when you were looking at someone’s Facebook.
T: Oh my God, yeah. If anyone was “Follower of Christ,” I was like, “Well I guess I’m done. I guess I can’t hit on you anymore.”
J: Yeah, that’s truly no hope there for me.
T: Wow. In high school, f*ck, that’s awesome.
J: Yeah, it was a good old time. I think it was — yeah. I think that with me, though, it’s like I was so perceived as gay that it wasn’t like, I feel like it’s different from people who — I think a lot of people, their process of coming out is a lot more of — mine was a stop of denying rather than this huge reveal. And I think it’s a lot more, it’s almost a heavier lift to have to tell people who aren’t suspecting or are less suspecting. And so I have a lot of empathy for people who are, in a weird way, I think a lot more times people, the more visibly or auditorily queer people are — I just think I do have a lot of empathy for straight-passing people because I think it is actually quite hard. They have to come out in a harder way because it’s a little bit more of a lift to reveal that. Whereas I was like, “Yeah, fine.”
T: I feel seen. No, I mean just it’s just coming out is so f*cking hard. This is like, it shouldn’t be, but it’s outrageous. It’s so weirdly hard.
J: Well, yeah. My whole thing is straight people have never had to sit down and tell their parents how they want to have sex.
J: That’s the worst part is that it’s about sex.
T: I know. It is the worst part. And I don’t mean, of course I realize why it’s weirdly hard because of insane homophobia and like heteronormativity.
T: But it is really weird that we have to sit down and tell our parents how and who we want to have sex with, which is like…
J: Hell. Fresh hell.
T: It is hell. It’s fresh hell.
J: It’s fresh hell.
T: It’s fresh hell and it also, I think it’s never ending for some people. I have to come out to people all the time.
J: I’m sure.
T: But now I’m just used to it. Or I don’t come out to certain scary men. But I don’t come out to certain scary, strange men from Ubers to taxis to just some random person. I will be very specific about who I come out to. But yeah, I just wish straight people had just a hint of the difficulty that we had.
J: I know I did. I was just in Scotland doing Edinburgh Fringe and the show I was doing with my friend Marcia — do you know Marcia Belsky?
T: Yes. She’s incredible.
T: So funny.
J: So we have this show that we do together and my character is named Jake Cornell. We don’t change the names, but they’re very clearly not us. And my character is a straight man. But he’s very — and there’s things throughout the show that are very homophobic and very misogynist because it is a satire. And I think a couple times, I’m not positive, but there was two instances where there were women in the audience who I don’t think realized I’m gay and we had not written anything into the show that makes it explicitly clear this performer is gay because I’ve never had to do that in my literal life. And I don’t know if it was an accent thing or a foreign thing, but there were these two women that I really think thought I was straight because they kept, anytime any of the gay stuff came up, they looked mad at me in defense of queer people. In a way where I truly, I remember being on stage and seeing them and truly being like, I want to stop the show and explain to them what’s happening. I was like, “Hey, this isn’t real.” It was because our theater was lit in a way where in the first two rows, you could see every single eyelash in people’s eyes. Just such HD. Somehow it made my eyesight better. The front two rows were just so apparent to us and I’ve never had two people stare at me with such hatred in my life.
T: Oh my God.
J: And I was like, I’ve never felt perceived as a straight person except in this moment. And I actually hate it on every single level. This is so powerfully bad and I want to stop the show. It was really bad.
T: Oh, did you try to find them afterwards to be like, “Just so you know…”
J: No, because I kind of did think it was funny. If they tweeted “Homophobic,” I’d be like, “Hi.” You know what I mean?
T: The show is called “Man and Woman,” right?
J: It’s called “Man and Woman,” yeah.
T: Okay. That’s on them.
J: A hundred percent. A hundred percent.
T: That’s on them if they can’t figure out that that is so perfectly a satire.
J: Yeah, thank you. I really appreciate that. But yeah, these two women hated me more than I’ve ever felt hatred from anyone in my life.
J: That’s truly the only time. I was in the bar after talking to it with Mary Beth Barone and she was like, “I don’t mean this offensively, I literally can’t imagine a single person thinking you’re straight.” She was like, “Because I’m looking at you and it’s giving gay.” And I was like, “Thank you Mary Beth.”
T: I don’t know you that well but honestly I completely agree.
J: She was like, I think they hated you for a different reason. And I was like, “No, I really think that was it.” And she was like, “No, I think it had to have been something else.” And I was like, “No, I do think that was it.”
T: There is something so icky about people thinking that I’m straight. I completely agree with you. It means nothing, honestly, nothing is more offensive to me than that. I’m like ugh, it’s terrible.
J: Yeah. So-
T: I don’t ever want it.
J: Yeah. The only other time I ever experience it is not — I don’t necessarily think it’s people thinking I’m straight, but sometimes men will talk to me the way they talk to straight men about women thinking I’m down for that conversation.
T: Oh God.
J: And it’s like, “Hey do me a favor, peel the skin off my bones.” I would rather do that. They’ll think that I’m down for the locker room talk of how they actually talk about a woman who I know and respect and definitely like more than them. And it’s actually always so bad.
T: You know what? I couldn’t agree more because I have straight men that do that to me thinking that like, “Oh you’re a lesbian, you’re into women so-”
J: Oh, you f*ck women so there’s no way you can respect them.
J: You have sex with them so you degrade them.
T: There’s absolutely no way you could respect them so you treat them like pieces of meat that you sleep with.
J: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that makes sense because it’s like, “You don’t have sex with women so you must not respect women.” That’s how they think to me. But then to you they’re like, “And you have sex with women so you also don’t respect women.” They actually can’t perceive a reality where they could respect a woman is what’s actually so amazing.
T: It does actually, which is so insane. I think I’ve had a conversation with a friend recently that he’s single and he is out sleeping — he’s first time single in a really long time and he is out sleeping with women. And he said something so crass to me that I was like, I finally had to, I think in my age where I’m not allowing bullsh*t to slide by and I was like, “You can’t speak like that.”
J: Good for you.
T: And he’s like, “What?” And I was like, “You actually can’t speak about a woman’s vagina like that.”
T: You can’t.
J: Yeah. I’m also, when we are to these straight people, I’m like, “Okay, when gay people are, were being crass. We’re f*cking. You guys could make a child. There’s kids involved. Shut the f*ck up. That’s so gross.”
T: It’s so gross to me.
J: Yeah, it’s disgusting.
T: It’s gross. It’s disgusting. It’s disgusting. And I also just think that the way-
J: I hate when people say… Sorry I-
T: Go ahead. Go ahead.
J: I literally hate when they’re like, “We’re trying.” I’m like “Stop. Ugh, stop.”
T: I hate it. I hate it because I also know deep down that trying sex is sad. It’s sad. I know. It’s so sad.
J: I very specifically, when anyone talks about this is so specific and insane, but do you remember the show “Brothers and Sisters” on ABC? Do you remember the show?
T: No, no.
J: It was like the “This Is Us” before “This Is Us” where it was an ensemble family comedy and it was like Sally Field and there was a whole plot line where Calista Flockhart and Rob Lowe are trying to get pregnant.
T: Oh my God.
J: You didn’t take acid. This is real.
T: What is this cast? Oh my God, this cast is insane.
J: No it was, oh my God. It’s actually crazy. Because it was Calista Flockhart, Rob Lowe, Matthew Reese from the Americans, Rachel Griffiths who played Brenda in “Six Feet Under.”
T: Oh my God.
J: Sally Field. It was like a stack. The guy who’s in “Bros,” the love interest in “Bros,” Luke McFarland, he’s in it. It was actually a pretty stacked cast.
J: But there’s a scene that’s so burned in my brain and every time someone’s like, “We’re trying,” the episode starts with Calista Flockhart and Rob Lowe f*cking, and then he finishes and then gets up and then she goes into a feet overhead back bend so that her feet are up by her ears so that her back is vertical, so that her vagina is upside down for gravity to assist in the… And then they have a whole conversation while she’s in that position because they’re trying to get pregnant. And I was like, “This is not what God wanted for Ally McBeal and I don’t like it.”
T: This is not what God intended.
T: Not at all.
T: Oh God. Yeah. I know too many friends who don’t know why they want to share this info with me, maybe they think I’m being empathetic and won’t like talk sh*t about them on a podcast, but some of my straight friends who are trying, I feel a lot of empathy for them because I think it’s very stressful, a great timing, all of that. But what they’re describing to me sounds so terrible and not enjoyable and very mechanical. I don’t, it’s just sounds so-
J: Yeah, that’s specifically the thing is I can’t imagine having sex for any reason other than wanting to have sex.
T: Yes. Yes.
J: And that’s what’s like coo coo ca choo about it to me.
T: Yeah. They’ve taken the joy out of it.
J: Yeah. It’s just-
T: Sounds crazy to me.
J: It’s crazy to me as well. It’s really crazy to me as well.
T: Yeah. So when anyone tells me that they’re trying, my immediate thought is like, “Ugh, you’re making sex a chore. And that sounds sad.”
J: It’s also just a topic to me that I feel, because it’s tied — I don’t know. It feels like private to me wanting kids. That feels like a private conversation. And I feel like straight people would be like, “So you’re f*cking raw?” To another married couple. They’ll just bring it up, and I’m at dinner and I’m like, “We could talk about a movie, like what the f*ck?” And they’re not close people. This is what I’m talking about. I’ll be out at a dinner where it’s straight people that aren’t super close and they’re like, “So you doing it?” I’m like, why is this the conversation? And I’m not a prude, but I’m like, if they were gay, fine, talk about sex all the time. I don’t want to hear about this.
T: No, I don’t want to hear about it. It’s too much.
T: It’s too much. It’s in my face. I don’t like it. It’s too much. If I was allowed to be like, “Okay, you guys are trying, I’m just having fun. I’m f*cking for fun.”
J: Absolutely. It’s like they’re talking about trying it, then you’re like, “Okay, my turn. So here are the things I’ve been exploring with my body.”
T: I just want to see-
J: And that’s homophobia. We’re not allowed to talk about our sex in that way.
T: Yes, exactly.
T: I think maybe if I were at dinner — honestly we got to stop having so many dinners with straight people. But if we’re at this dinner and they’re like, “I’m trying,” maybe we should start being like, “Never trying. Never want it.”
J: What if I just fully dry heave? They’re like, “We’re trying,” and I’m like, “Ugh.” I just like at the table.
J: Yeah. And hold the pose like that. Hold it.
T: Then we could be like, “Are you talking about his raw penis going… You’re actually saying that at dinner right now.”
J: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
J: Sorry. We’re dropping the second course and you’re saying, “Yeah, he’s dumping in me.” It’s just the way that it gets to be put in, its proper conversation.
T: It’s proper conversation. It’s even considered polite conversation.
J: Yeah. They’re like, don’t talk about money but talk about f*cking raw and hoping a child comes of it. I’m like, this is crazy.
T: Oh God. Yeah. “Leave the politics at the door. But let me tell you where I’m coming and how often.”
J: It’s just so gross. Wait, do you watch “The Kardashians?”
J: Good, good.
T: Is it all talk of that?
J: No, but I did dabble because I haven’t watched it. I watched, I would watch it back when I was in — have I talked about them in the podcast yet? This whole, when Kourtney was trying to have the kids. Did I talk about this? Okay. I watched the old episodes back when I was in high school. I think I watched the first few seasons and then I didn’t have cable for years and years. I just haven’t watched “The Kardashians” in a long-ass time. When the new show started, the Hulu one, I was like, let me check this out. I watched a handful of episodes on maybe the first season, I watched a few episodes and one of them was like, the whole episode was about Travis and Kourtney trying to have kids and them at the clinic doing like IVF, like documenting like, “Okay, now Travis is going to go jerk off in this cup.” They’re doing this on TV. And it was so — everything about it, I was like, “I hate this. I hate this.”
T: Oh God. Oh no, I wouldn’t. I’m not into that storytelling.
J: Okay. So I think we’ve agreed that we… When you go out now as an adult, do you like a gay bar? Is that what your preference is? What is your going out look like now?
T: Going to a gay bar or bar restaurant that definitely has a ton of queer energy. That is-
J: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
T: And I will like — but now as an adult, most of my friends and close friends are queer, which is just-
J: The best.
T: The best.
J: And someone’s house can be the gay bar at that point.
T: Yes. Honestly, that’s what it is. That’s what I really prefer too, is going to someone’s house and it is now the private gay bar.
J: Yeah. Honestly, I was thinking about it. I think my biggest goal in life is to make enough money that I can have a house that feels like the destination where I can just have a ton of people over. And it’s not a “Selling Sunset” house, it’s not huge, but it’s big enough that I can really host and have it be the moment.
T: That’s what I want too.
J: I just want, and I’m branding, it’s humble, it’s like I want $4 million. That’s what I mean. I want to be able to have a $2.5 million New York City apartment.
T: I mean that’s how it is. The prices are crazy. But yes, that is what you want.
J: I’m like my humble little renovated brownstone.
T: Enough to entertain with a backyard.
J: Yeah. Just a guest bathroom and two guest bedrooms.
T: That’s what I want too. That sounds amazing.
J: It sounds like heaven.
T: I just want to run my own bed and breakfast for my friends.
J: Okay. Because this is what I was going to say, this might sound crazy, but I want to have a house big enough that I can host a party at it, where in my own home I could be introduced to someone I do not know. Does this make sense?
T: Yes. Yes.
J: Because right now I love my apartment. I have a fantastic apartment. We have a great setup. I can have probably comfortably six people over.
T: Okay. That’s a very lovely intimate dinner party.
J: But there are no strangers.
T: I see, I see.
J: I want to be able to have 20 people over and-
T: Bring someone.
J: Yeah, bring a friend. You know what I mean? And then we meet this new, you know what I mean? And I don’t have the space for that yet.
T: I see that in your future.
J: Thank you. Thank you.
T: I see that in your future for sure.
J: Sure. Yes. And I see you in that department with me. I see.
J: Absolutely. Okay, wait. So speaking of that, insanely we have come to the end. It’s upsetting how much time we dedicated to straight people, but I had to get that off my chest. I’ve been mad about it for years.
T: Me too. I’ve been hanging out with my parents and honestly they are a drag. No, just kidding. I love them.
J: Imagine you got home, your parents were like, “We’re trying.”
T: I’d be like, “Okay, can’t go through this again.”
T: Okay. The birth order is set. We can’t mix it up anymore.
J: Sorry, that just reminded me of — this shouldn’t have been put on. I saw TikTok the other day that was like — this is the other thing is people put their kids on the internet too much. Get your kids off the internet. I actually am really passionate about this kids shouldn’t be on the internet or their faces?
T: I know, I agree.
J: And I saw this video the other day where these parents put a video, this has nothing to do with the podcast, but it was a video of them telling their daughter that she was having a kid. And she was like, “I’m not going to be the youngest.” She was having a full breakdown and I was like, “This is justified and this shouldn’t be on the internet.” But I watched it. I watched it.
T: Anytime I see any of those videos of, “We’re telling our daughter that she made a sports team or telling our daughter that she’s going to be, or telling our kid that they’re going to be have a sibling.” I’m like, “This is a private moment.”
J: Private moment.
T: But I will watch every single second.
J: Did you see those TikToks about the girls who found out they didn’t get on the cheerleading squad?
J: It shouldn’t have been on the internet, but I watched it. Granted they were a little bit older than 17, 18. But truly it was so — the cinematography of it, I truly was like, “I’m there. I’m in high school.” It brought me there. It was so intense.
T: Were they so upset?
J: Oh, it was like micro-movements of the face that Juilliard could not train. It was beyond any performance that one could give. It was really unbelievable.
T: So sad. Okay, sorry I interrupted you.
J: No, not at all. This is heaven. I like to end the episodes with us planning when we are able to our night out.
T: Okay, great.
J: So I guess firstly, would you like to have a night out together?
T: I would absolutely.
J: Gorge, me too.
T: Love to have a night out together.
J: I think we have to invite KK. It would feel crazy to not.
T: Have to invite KK.
T: We have to invite KK.
J: So are you planning to come to New York anytime soon?
T: Honestly, probably yes, because I have siblings that live there.
J: Okay, gorge. So let’s say it’s you, me, and KK. It’s New York City.
J: I love KK’s neighborhood.
T: Me too.
J: And I love KK’s backyard and I’m obsessed with inviting myself over to it.
T: Okay. So maybe we just make KK’s spot the bar for the evening.
J: Yeah, and maybe do a bop out for dinner somewhere and then bop back.
T: Yes, absolutely. I love that. I want to bop out for dinner and then bop back into the backyard for a night cap.
J: Yeah, and then I can take the train home. Oh my God. Perfect. That was quick and that was easy, but I loved it.
T: But wait, where are we eating? What restaurant?
J: Okay. That’s really true. So I would love — that’s interesting.
T: And I love shared plates. Are you a share plate person? I love to share.
J: I love shared plates.
T: I love shared plates. Anyone who wants their own meal, get the f*ck out.
J: Get the f*ck out of here. I’m currently — okay, here are my current vibes. I’m currently annoyed with pizza in restaurants. It’s not my energy right now.
T: Okay, great.
J: I’m just like, if I’m getting pizza, I want it delivered or I want a slice, I’m not sitting down to get a pizza. It’s like I go through this phase every once in a while where I’m like, “I’m not doing pizza in restaurants, it’s too much.”
T: Honestly, now that I think about it, I very rarely do pizza at restaurants because I’m craving other things.
J: Yeah. I’m like, I can walk up to a window and get a slice of pizza. I can’t walk up to a window and get a pad thai and eat it walking down the street. You know what I mean? There are other dishes I would rather eat, like spaghetti carbonara, I don’t know. So let’s do shared plates. I feel like there’s a really good — because KK is over — there’s a lot of good seafood moments over there because we’re also near Red Hook. I say we do a seafood share-y moment.
T: Oh my God. I would love it.
J: Okay. And KK’s there so-
T: Like a tower? Are you thinking like a tower? Is it like a seafood raw situation or both? We start with a tower and then we get into some more cooked seafood.
J: I’m obsessed with that. I’m obsessed with that. Okay, great. And then we’ll just roll back full of seafood to KK’s backyard and drink wine.
T: And then we’ll make cocktails there.
J: Oh, perfect. Okay, gorge. All right. I’m going to call KK and tell her this is the plan.
Thank you so much for listening to “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” If you could please go and rate and review us on whatever you’re listening to this on, that would be really gorgeous for me in a huge way, so thank you.
And now, for some credits. “Going Out With Jake Cornell” is recorded in New York City and is produced by Keith Beavers and Katie Brown. The music you’re hearing is by Darbi Cicci. The cover art you’re probably looking at was photographed by M. Cooper and designed by Danielle Grinberg. And a special shout-out to VinePair co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for making all of this possible.