Most Presents: The Homo Schedule

Leo Sheng’s Schedule

Episode Summary

What's it like being cast in a show that influenced your identity as a kid? How do you make space for yourself while growing up as one of the only queer and asian kids in your town? And where are all the queer Disney royals? All that and more as Liv and Jasmin talk to Leo Sheng!

Episode Notes

What's it like being cast in a show that influenced your identity as a kid? How do you make space for yourself while growing up as one of the only queer and asian kids in your town? And where are all the queer Disney royals? All that and more as Liv and Jasmin talk to Leo Sheng!


- In Hollywood, Asian American stories are rare, but Asian American LGBTQ stories are even rarer by Lakshmi Gandhi for NBCNews

- During the 1970s, Social Workers Began Placing LGBTQ Youth with Queer Foster Families by Matt Katz for WNYC’s The Takeaway

- And here is Leo’s Twitter thread about queer & trans BIPOC!


Leo Sheng is a Chinese-American actor and activist known for playing Micah Lee on The L Word: Generation Q. He came out as trans when he was 12 and started his social transition in middle school, and later on, he publicly documented his transition online. His activism has centered the narratives of trans people, particularly trans people of color; authentic representation in the media; and deconstructing gendered systems.


- Hosts: Jasmin Savoy Brown and Liv Hewson

- Producer: Eric Silver

- Co-Producers: Jasmin Savoy Brown and Liv Hewson

- Editor, Engineer & Sound Designer: Mischa Stanton

- Executive Producer: Amanda McLoughlin

- Researcher: Gina Cherelus

- Created by: Jasmin Savoy Brown

- Produced by: Multitude & Netflix

Find Us Online

- Twitter: @Most

- Instagram: @Most

Episode Transcription

Liv: Welcome to the Homo Schedule, where we're corrupting your children into celebrating their wins and being proud of the journey. I'm Liv, and I'm Lesbian In Charge Of Paperclips.
Jasmin: And I'm Jasmin, the CEO of [Laughs] fucking Liv’s mom. 
[Liv laughs]
Jasmin: Is that okay? Can I say that? 
Liv: Listen. Our moms are three-dimensional autonomous beings with different needs.
[Jasmin laughs]
Liv: Let’s review the minutes from last week’s meeting, why don’t we? 
Jasmin: Liv. What’s going on. 
Liv: Okay. So a friend of mine sent me a signup link for Raya and I've been-
Jasmin: Yay!
Liv: No, don't congratulate me on something I haven't done -
Jasmin: Oh.
Liv: - because I've been staring at it and I can't - I haven't signed on, and I can’t do it! [Laughs] 
Jasmin: Oh my god. Okay. First of all, sign up. Second of all: I forgot that I meant to also send you a link. So I'm going to also send you a friend pass, so it's double speed. Why are you scared of this? 
Liv: I don’t know, I've never liked it. I - okay, I had Tinder once for three days in 2016 and then I panicked and deleted it. 
Jasmin: Okay, but Tinder is also not the vibe for you. 
Liv: And I feel like - 
Jasmin: Tinder is not for you. I think Raya might be for you. Hinge might be for you. 
Liv: I'm so scared. 
Jasmin: And you can't have one bad experience and let that color the rest of your experiences, good sire. 
Liv: Ugh. I'm afraid. 
Jasmin: What are you - Let's get to the bottom of this. Here we are therapizing one another. What are you afraid of? 
Liv: The idea of going on a date with a stranger, doesn't make me feel comfortable and never has. 
Jasmin: Okay.
Liv: Some friends of mine, like it's like a social muscle for them. It's like fun -
It's like a fun activity. And it's never felt that way to me. And I think historically my default has been single, comfortably. I'm like, ‘well, if I meet someone, that's nice,’ but like, I don't like, I don't need to, but then it's like, okay, That's lovely, but what happens when you're not meeting anybody for like ages and ages and ages?
Jasmin: Mhm. 
Liv: So now I'm in this position where it's like, okay, so this is a muscle I've never used and I've never wanted to use. And now I don't know how I feel about it at all. 
Jasmin: That's totally fair. All of that makes sense. I have questions, I have thoughts. 
Liv: Okay, okay. 
Jasmin: Question: Are you excited at all at thought? 
Liv: Uh, yeah. I think, I think meeting people would be nice. I think having experiences is something that I'm excited about. 
Jasmin: Yeah. 
Liv: So that's, that's a good starting place, actually. 
Jasmin: Okay. That's good. I want to validate you about what your experiences - validate how you feel. These are my thoughts: You use the word muscle. So think about it. If you have never rock climbed before, but you're trying it for the first time, you're going to be really bad at it. 
[Liv laughs]
Jasmin: Cause you didn't even use those muscles. And that's okay. If you're into rock climbing, you're going to have to like start doing it, you know, first once a week and then a couple of times a week, and slowly you'll build those muscles. So that’s normal, that's okay. 
Liv: Mhm.
Jasmin: My other thought is I want to remind you that you're an adult and you’re in charge. There's this idea of what dating is supposed to look like or what it's supposed to be, but that's just an idea, it's a myth. You get to decide. And so if you want to make sure that your first couple of dates with a certain person look a certain way, are there certain boundaries you don't want to be crossed, you can do that. That's up to you. 
Liv: Mmm, yeah. 
Jasmin: You can make this a really comfortable, safe, fun experience, totally designed for you and whatever that means. Like - You know, I can be a ho. 
[Liv laughs]
Jasmin: So sometimes I get on the app and I'm a ho that day. Other times, there are people that we texted for three weeks before we ever met up, because that's what made us both feel comfortable. And then there was like an emotional intimacy before we ever met up in person. And that's what worked for the two of us, whatever works for you is perfect, and you get to decide. So just remember that. 
Liv: Yeah, I guess it feels like I'm beginning the process of figuring out what works for me. 
Jasmin: That's great. That's scary, but it's also exciting. 
Liv: Yeaaaah. 
Jasmin: Also, remember, you could show up on a date and leave.
Liv: That, that's - what's that meme where it's like, if it's sucks hit the bricks, like you can, you can just leave at any time. [Laughs]
Jasmin: It's a very empowering thing!
Liv: How are you? 
Jasmin: I’m good. That makes me want to tell a story
Liv: Please.
Jasmin: I've told you this story, right? I think so this is the story ofCharcuterie Kate. I should call her Kate. So Kate and I, we met on Raya last summer. We messaged for like three weeks, like I said, it was perfect. It was exactly what I was looking for because she was already in a relationship, an open poly relationship, just looking for like women to date and take on dates and have fun with on the side. And I wasn't looking for anything serious. I just wanted fun.
Liv: Gorg. 
Jasmin: And so we texted for like three weeks. And we exchange these very long, like paragraph texts that are very emotionally intimate, getting to know each other, as lesbians are known to do. 
Liv: Mm, we love that. 
Jasmin: We love that we had never spoken on the phone and one day she's like, “can I call you?” And it was late at night and I was in my bed and I was like, “sure.” And the whole conversation, she's like, oh my gosh, your voice is so sexy. Like, you're so beautiful. I just wanna, I just want to take you to a park and I just want to spoil you. I just want to lavish you with compliments and hand feed you charcuterie. And I was like - 
Liv: Oooh, kay.
Jasmin: Weird, awkward. I'm vegan. Like I'm sure I could pivot, you can feed me grapes. She's like, ‘oh, that's all I want. I just want to lavish you. And you're just so beautiful. You're so gorgeous. I just want to hand feed you grapes.’ And it was like, kind of weird, so into it. Let's do it. 
Liv: Wait, I'm so obsessed with it. 
Jasmin: We set a date, but in the back of my mind, I was like, ‘why did all of that sounds so familiar? That's so familiar.’ So I went to her Raya bio and the bio said, “Kate, open, poly relationship, looking for women to lavish with compliments and hand feed charcuterie." I was like, okay. 
Liv: Yeah, she was not kidding about that. 
Jasmin: [Laughing] She wasn’t kidding and she wasn't subtle. It's very specific. 
Liv: I want to be fed grapes in a park.
Jasmin: Right, okay? So I'm like down! Then the day comes and I'm feeling a little flirty, fun, little kinky. So I texted her. I was like, I need you to tell me what to wear. I need you to dress me. And she's like, okay, I'm going to be doing some cottage core. If you could come in some cottage core play. And then I went: “Is this going to be like a weird slave thing?” Like for a second, I was like, is this about to get badly kinky? So I turned all of my locations on with all my friends. [Laughs] I arrived. She has the blankets spread out. She has the basket as the whole thing I lay down. I'm just waiting for her to put grapes in my mouth. Never does! All of this talk and didn't put one item of food in my mouth.
Liv: What?!
Jasmin: All talk, no follow-through! And then there's more to this story, but it's a little more R-rated I don't know if that's what this podcast is about, but it ended up being a very fun, short, love affair. I wrote two songs about her, which will be on my EP next year. 
Liv: Hello, plug plug plug. 
Jasmin: But yeah, it was so much talk, zero follow through. 
Liv: See I think that's maybe what I'm afraid of is that someone is going to promise to feed me grapes, and then like, isn’t going to do it!
Jasmin: [Laughs] Well, if you match with Kate, - 
Liv: I’ll be sure to say hi.
Jasmin: Say hi for me. And, um, just know that it's all a lie. And Kate if you're listening to this, I would still love to be your friend, dude. Like text me back! 
[Liv laughs]
Jasmin: Anyway with all that said, [Clears throat] what's on the agenda for today. [Laughs] 
Liv: Oh my God. On this iconic episode of the Homo Schedule, we are talking to Leo Sheng. 
Jasmin: Aah! We love Leo. 
Liv: We are big fans of we are here at the gay agenda. Leo Sheng is a Chinese American actor and activist known for playing Michael Lee on [French accent] The L Word: Generation Q
Jasmin: [French accent] Generation Q.  I'll never get over that. Leo came out as trans when he was 12 and started his social transition in middle school later on, he publicly documented his transition online. 
Liv: His activism has centered around the narratives of trans people, particularly trans people of color, authentic representation in media, and deconstructing gendered [Singing] systems.
Jasmin: Liv, how do you know Leo? 
Liv: We started following each other on social media a little while back, and it was just kind of like, ‘hello? Hi. Hi,’ one of those acquaintanceship. And, um, I was always looking forward to getting to know him better and talk to him. So this was such a treat.
Jasmin: I did not know Leo, and now I do. Yeah. But I didn't before the episode, but big fan, beautiful person and excited for you all to hear.
Liv: It was such a treat talking to him. Let's enter it into the schedule.
[Transition music]
Jasmin: Hiii, Leo!
Liv: Hi Leo!
Leo: Hi. Oh my God. This is so cool to meet you on Zoom. 
Jasmin: Lovely to meet you. How are you today?
Leo: I am okay. Side note, I live in a queer household and two, my roommates had my baby and they signed up for swim classes and I get to like take her. And so like, it just coincided today. I was like, crap. 
Liv: How was swim class? 
Leo: Uh, she hasn't been in a few months, so she's like a little over a year now. And she hasn't been since she was like seven or eight months and the first like 15 minutes was smooth sailing. She was fine. She was saying hi and everything. And the second one's like, not so great, 
Jasmin: Okay. I want to hear more about this, but first we have to introduce ourselves. We like to say our names and our identities and our pronouns. So I'll go first. I'm Jasmin, I identify as queer, and I also identify as the bucket and the mop.
Liv: Beautiful. 
Jasmin: Oh, and my pronouns are she/her. 
Liv: Uh, my name is Liv. My pronouns are they/them, I'm lesbiscious in every aspect of my life, and, um, I identify as, as this, uh, delicious coffee I'm drinking, which is my second of the day.
Jasmin: Incredible. 
Leo: Uh, I'm Leo. I am a queer trans guy. I use he/him pronouns. And I, right now, I guess I'm identifying with my little superhero, Superman figurine on my desk. 
Liv: Hi Superman! 
Jasmin: Supermaaan. I want to see you be Superman or any sort of super anything. 
Leo: I want that so bad. 
Jasmin: I'm putting that into the world. 
Leo: Thank you. 
Jasmin: You've heard it here first! Let's make him a superhero. 
Liv: We need it. 
Jasmin: Okay. So back to you living in a queer household, why are you living so many of our dreams? 
Leo: Uh, great timing. I, um, I am from Michigan and I moved out here two years ago when I got the role on The L Word: Generation Q. Um, and I, uh, we filmed in Culver City. And being from Michigan, that meant nothing to me.
When the producers told me I need to look for a place near there, but Brian Michael Smith, who is in season one and is also on 911 Lone Star, um, connected me with a friend who they were looking for a housemate and originally it was temporary. Like it was just going to be a couple months. And then I stayed. 
Jasmin: Oh, what a dream! 
Leo: Oh, it's amazing. 
Jasmin: Are your roommates also in the industry?
Leo: No, and it's so cool. 
Jasmin: That's so nice. You get to escape when you go home. 
Leo: It's very grounding. 
Jasmin: Oh, how incredible. Well, we're very happy you're here. We're both fans. It's so exciting that you're on the new version season reboot of The L Word. Were you a big fan growing up?
Leo: Um, I was a bit on the younger side of, I think what the rest of society would consider like an appropriate age. 
[Liv and Jasmin laugh]
Leo: I was like 12 when I first found it. Um, and I still, I mean, it still was I think young for me developmentally in my identity journey, but I found it on YouTube and very much immediately knew I probably shouldn't have been watching it. [Laughs] The first character I was introduced through on YouTube was Max. And I was very, very intrigued by his storyline. When, when this came around, I was like this is a oddly full circle moment or me. 
Liv: I was thinking about that too, actually, because I read that seeing Max on the original L Word was one of the first, if not the first, times you had seen a trans man in media, and now it's you! Now, like now you're doing it. I just, I think it's so exciting. And I wanted to know how you felt about that. 
Leo: It’s unreal. We went to a, um, a viewing party last night for season finale and somebody came up to me and they're like, ‘I named myself, Mike, after your character,’ like I -
[Liv gasps]
Jasmin: Oh my God. 
Leo: I just like, I didn't know what to say. Cause it's, it's so much - power is the wrong word, but it very much feels like it's a reminder of why this means something. 
Jasmin: Mm, like responsibility, 
Leo: Responsibility. Yeah. 
Liv: It's powerful
Leo: It's powerful. It's, it's humbling. It's like, wow. Okay. What we wanted to achieve and that sense of people feeling connected is happening. It's, it's, it's a dream and I'm not convinced that it's not real. 
[Liv laughs]
Jasmin: What are you, what do you do with that? What do you do when someone comes up and gives that information to you? 
Leo: I'm learning. I don't know yet. I’m trying to figure out how to hold that in a way that like, I can respond beyond just like, ‘thanks’ and like this person to, to understand too how much that means to me, like my means lots of them, but then watching and them feeling that that connection means the world to me, because this isn't just a job.
Jasmin: Yeah. 
Leo: And so, I haven't figured it out yet. 
Jasmin: That's okay. Learning along the way. All of us are.
Liv: Definitely. 
Jasmin: So you weren't originally going into acting, you were originally in a social working program? 
Leo: I was, I was um, my - I have two moms and they're both social workers and I like, my entire life pushed away social work because the stories, it just sounded so hard. And so emotionally draining. 
Jasmin: Yeah. 
Leo: Um, and then I learned that social work isn't only counseling, it's like so many, there's so many options. And I was really, really involved in like community building and community organizing throughout high school and college. And so I really wanted to get like a degree in like macro social work, where they focus on more activism and community building. But I, I, uh, deferred for a year. Um, and when I came back, I decided to do clinical. Cause I felt like you can learn activist frameworks and theories in school, but I don't think you can learn how to be an activist in school.
Liv: Yeah.
Leo: I think that's on the ground experience. And I was not sure I was going to get that. Whereas clinical, I think you do need to be taught. Maybe you don't know how to be a good counselor, but you're taught it's a lot more streamlined. So I want it to be a counselor for like queer and trans community organizers. 
Jasmin: Well, I'd argue that in a way you kind of still are doing that social work, even just through your work and these conversations that you're having and will continue to have when people come up to you and tell you these amazing things, you're still an activist. 
Liv: Did, um, did you have to break to your moms that you will leaving the family business behind? 
Leo: In a way, my mom's still sometimes, you know, imagines that I'll take over their counseling. I’m like, no, I don't want it. I don't want that. She's like, ‘you can run it from anywhere. You don't have to be back in Michigan.’
Jasmin: I'm like, I don't think you understand how much time auditioning takes. It's a full-time job. Mom. 
Leo: Did you two always want to be actors? 
Liv: I did. Oh yeah, god. 
Jasmin: I did too. I always wanted to be a performer growing up, but I'm going to say I've listened to a few of your podcasts and I noticed you do this thing where you start interviewing the interviewers and it's cool, but you're not doing that here. This is about you! [Laughs]
Liv: Mmhm. [Laughs.]
Jasmin: We're not going to let you pull that over -as he puts his head in his hands. You’ve been caught! 
Leo: [Laughs] It's like a conversation, I’m like creating - 
Jasmin: No, I know it's beautiful and I love it. And I'm not going to therapize. You deserve to be celebrated and to have a whole interview just for you. I'm just saying you're pretty incredible. 
Liv: Definitely. 
Leo: Oh my gosh. 
[All laugh.]
Liv: On, on your website, you described growing up in Michigan being one of the only queer kids in school and also one of the only Asian kids in school. Um, so I was curious, where were the places that you found community and connection to your identity growing up? If any? 
Leo: Yeah, I haven't updated my website in so long. I need to definitely change the language of like ‘out queer kid,’ I think definitely is important. Cause I had friends who weren't out but queer. 
Liv: Oh totally yeah. 
Leo: So my moms were part of this group, called the Lesbian Moms Network, or just LMN. 
Liv: Amazing.
Leo: And, uh, as a kid, I would watch a lot of Lifetime, so when Lifetime became LMN, I was very confused. 
[Liv laughs]
Leo: Um, and so it was a lot of lesbian moms in Michigan, um, Southeast Michigan. Where Ypsilanti is, it's like on the mitten if you’re like facing the thumb. And so there were a lot of families that were created in different ways. Some were adopted kids, some were adopted like Chinese kids. But in Ypsi, um, yeah, there just weren't a whole lot of, not just east Asian kids, but adopted kids everywhere and those margins. And so when I was in middle school, I joined this group called Riot Youth. It was a queer youth support and social justice group. The organization is called the Neutral Zone and they have different, uh, groups where teens really get a chance to be behind the driver's seat. It's team facilitated team run team created like, and so this was a space where a ton of queer youth would come together and we'd like chill and we'd like share our stories. And we'd also do like policy work in schools and also like state level. We went to Lansing a couple of times.
Liv: Sick. 
Leo: It was, it was a great opportunity. Uh, and it was a sense of community for a little while. I wasn't - ‘Queer’ didn't feel like the right word at the time. I, I identified like as a straight trans guy and I think, honestly, I'm only now really finding a sense of what community feels like and means. Oddly during a pandemic where like isolation has been a huge part of it, but I feel like I can be more intentional and I feel like I've grown more into my identities and like the pieces that feel most important to me. 
Liv: Yeah. 
Leo: So that's a long way of saying like, in a way I found community, but not. Not in the way that I saw all of myself in any of these groups. 
Jasmin: Will you speak more to that? How you're finding more community now, where are you finding that community? 
Leo: I am trying to teach out to specifically more like East Asian queer folks and figure out like where's our - not only in the industry, but also like in the industry, because I feel like having not grown up with a ton of East Asian folks, let alone East Asian queer folks, like these shared identities in this world is so helpful to kind of figure out like, are these experiences that I've had so far in my head? I mean, obviously they're not because I'm feeling them. 
Liv: Yeah, big time. 
Jasmin: Mmm, yes.
Leo: Finding folks who can relate and also like at large, a larger queer community, like queer people of color, queer trans people of color out here. There are a lot of us out here and it's just, I think, really about finding the best way of connecting and like the, the easiest way I guess, like where, where are we? Where is everybody? How is there's clearly some network and I don't know about it just yet, but, um… 
Jasmin: Yeah, I totally identify. I grew up in Oregon. White, white, white Christian place, at least in the nineties, early two thousands. I've been surrounded by white people forever, which means that even coming into my queerness, I came into queer white space. And it's taken a lot of intentional networking, building, reaching out - courage, in other words - 
Liv: Yeah.
Jasmin: -to find the spaces that fully reflect myself. And then I had that community when I first got to LA, but then everyone moved for some reason. And I found myself back to square one. I'm glad you brought that up because it's something that we have to be intentional about in a way all of the time. In a way that I think our queer white counterparts don't quite understand -
Leo: Yeah, yeah.
Jasmin: because yes, being queer is one of the layers, but then being a person of color is another and being trans is another. And all of that on top of each other, it's really hard to find it consistently. So I, I commend you that you continue to look cause it's scary. It's scary to put yourself out there, but it's so worth it. So, for people that are listening, where do you meet new people who fill every box? 
Leo: I haven't found like, uh, an organized mailer list, or anything, I’m - 
Jasmin: [Laughs] We’ll start it today. 
Leo: I'm asking around. Um, Marsha, our showrunner, has connected me with a few people. I'm kind of like online trying to put out feelers. Like it's, it's hard. Um, it really, I haven't, uh, I haven't figured out the most efficient process. Unfortunately I think it, a lot of it does come down to connections, though. And like who knows a person who knows a person, 
Jasmin: Yeah, which is cool though. Cause then you're like, ‘oh, if so-and-so says this person is cool, will I trust so-and-so.’
Leo: Yeah.
Jasmin: Well, I think we should be friends and we can introduce each other to other people of color. 
Leo: There are like groups specifically for like Asian performers. Like there's CAPE, it's primarily Asian artists, but, um, even finding within there, like where are like out queer folks who are looking for those connections is still, still kind of hard.
Jasmin: I want to talk to you about something, another shared experience that we had, um, which is a bummer, but I think it's worth talking about if you want to. I saw your thread on Twitter about being erased from articles about The L Word
Leo: Mhm.
Jasmin: You've said some really beautiful things about that. And that happened to me recently, too. I was erased from an article about one of my new projects coming out. And the eraser itself is hurtful and problematic, but for me personally, the way that certain networks choose to, or choose not to, support their talent when they've been erased is what hurts even more. And it's painful because it's just painful. But it's also painful because these networks have a lot of power. And I think that they forget that, that if they were to have our backs publicly that would actually affect real change. And I would go so far as to say that in this case, silence is violence. It's keeping us erased, keeping us in the closet, so to speak, and it's very hurtful, and I don't necessarily know what my question is for you, but I just want to say that I commend you for speaking about it publicly. And I want you to know that I support you, and I see you, and I stand with you and I appreciate you talking about it on Twitter. I know it doesn't feel good, but I think we have to talk about it because obviously [laughing] no one else is. It's not fair that it's our responsibility, but hopefully if we. Continue to say, ‘Hey, you guys, this is fucked up. I'm here. My voice, my presence matters’ that, that'll have some change. So I don't exactly have a question, but I want to say thank you. [Laughs] And if you want to talk about that experience, you can. 
Leo: Yeah, I mean, I wanted to reach out to you too. Cause I, I heard about what happened with you and like a little after the ball started rolling and there's more than I could have said and that when I, once I did find out that was happening, um, and should have said, and I think - 
Jasmin: Well, it’s okay.
Leo: Well I mean, there is strength in numbers and even if we're not co-stars being employed by the same network and, and saying like, I see this is happening and this is not being addressed in a way that’s constructive, reactive. Um, because I have also been erased from pieces and I, I haven't felt brave enough to ask - 
Jasmin: And you shouldn't even have to, that's the thing. 
Leo: We shouldn’t have to. 
Jasmin: We should be able to go to work, and work and not be worried about anything other than our work. And that's, for me, that's one of the most infuriating things is, as a queer woman of color, when I sign up for a show or a movie or whatever, I know and you know, we're not just signing up to give our best performance. We're signing up also to argue that our identity matters, that our presence matters, that my voice matters, that what I wear matters, that if you have someone who does my hair - we are doing so much more than most of our counterparts who happened to be straight and white, and then we're branded as problematic or difficult or loud or ungrateful for saying “Hi, I would like to just show up and do my job, please.” 
Liv: Yeah. 
Jasmin: So it's not your fault, like..
Leo: It’s important from the network, but also like again, people who share a job, they're like, what does that solidarity look like? And I think like, for me, like I came into the second season. I don't have a long resume. I haven't been in this business a very long and I spent the first season so scared of messing up and of doing something that could get me fired. I came back to this season, like more comfortable, more confident, and also like still trying to figure out where is the line of what I'm allowed to ask for. 
Jasmin: Right. 
Liv: Yeah. 
Leo: And what am I allowed to say? Um, which is partly I think why I worded my threat about being erased the way I did and chose not to call any one publication out, but it sucks when you know, you're on a show about queer people - which I think mine's slightly different. Like my show is a sequel to a show that has a massive, massive legacy and has reached so many people - 
Jasmin: Right. 
Leo: - and it was centered on queer women. How do I hold that and respect that and remain mindful of that, uh, and also, and, and that piece of like, this is Generation Q. And like I am a series regular.
Jasmin: Yup. 
Leo: I'm not a co-star. I'm not an, just like an ‘also starring,’ like…
Jasmin: It's your story too. 
Leo: When, when you list the new characters, I, I should be on there. Um, and that's, that's something I've really had to come to terms with of like, it's not me asking for more than what is true.
Jasmin: Right.
Liv: It's not, and it's, and it's a trap. It's a trap, right? Because you risk undeserved consequences for speaking out about it publicly, and you carry that risk with you, but then also if you say nothing, you lose as well. Like it's, it's, it's, it's not a fair position to be put in. 
Jasmin: Yeah. 
Leo: Yeah.And I'm, I'm sorry that that happened to you in such a, in such a public. I mean, all these publications are released - 
Jasmin: Yeah, but also it's public cause I made it public. 
[All laugh]
Jasmin: That's the thing you're not handled completely oppositely. You did like a very well-worded respectful tweet. I went on Instagram and I was like, fuck this industry, like - like I went crazy. 
Leo: That was me being careful.
Jasmin: But I'm just saying we had opposite approaches and almost the exact same response. 
Leo: Yeah. 
Jasmin: Which is next to nothing. So that goes to show you that, um, the whole thing is fucked and I don't have the answer. I will say I appreciated that many of my co-stars including live re-posted what I posted and said, I publicly stand with you, because at the end of the day, that's one of the only two things I want. Public apology and public support. I appreciated that my cast had my back and I'm glad you and I can talk about it. We are both very grateful for our shows and love our jobs and love our characters. But personally, I - it's just part of my activism that I've promised myself with my platform and my position in this industry and my light skin and my beauty privilege and thin privilege and all the privilege that I have, I have to talk about things. But that's just my approach. Everyone's approach is different and I respect all of them. I just happen to - I'm an Aries. Maybe that's why - 
[All laugh]
Jasmin: I appreciate you talking about it. Thank you.
Leo: It's important. 
Liv: I appreciate you both going there. Um, I, I love you both. 
Jasmin: Thank you. Okay. So something a little lighter. [Laughs] Okay. You love Disney and I would love to know if you would ever like to play a Disney Royal, because I would like to see that. 
Leo: Oh, why not? Sure. [Laughs]
Jasmin: What do you love about Disney? 
Leo: I think I don't have this like, completely like full devotion that I think I've led people to believe. At the end of the day, Disney is a large corporation [Laughs] and they, for sure, commercialize and capitalize on a lot of things that maybe need to be not commercialized, capitalize off. I think there's a sense of magic that they like create, right. That like happy endings are possible In a real life sense though like if you're not a thin white, straight cis person, like obviously happy endings don't happen in the same way, but they're still possible. They're still real. 
Jasmin: Yeah.
Leo: We still deserve them. And I think that like, if they can maintain that sense of magic and like optimism that I think that they're kind of starting to spread around communities, different communities. Then I think that like, that's what draws me to it. There's hope. And there's, I don't want to say whimsy, but there's something - 
Liv: No, say whimsy, I love whimsy! [Laughs]
Leo: [Laughs] There's like something whimsical about, if we can like take away the legit Stockholm syndrome of Beauty and the Beast, and the fact that these, like these humans were turned into furniture, but that they can still have this like light and this like hope. 
Jasmin:  Yeah. 
Leo: You know, but [laughs] I don't know, my adult brain doesn't let me look at it the same way.
Jasmin: It’s the resilience of the human spirit. 
Liv: But also in that castle, they, that’s, that's building a family, right?
That's like - 
Jasmin: Yeah. 
Liv: I don't know if I'm talking complete shit. But I, I think you’re onto something. 
Jasmin: Chosen families. So you have - you're the star of a Disney movie. You are a Disney Royal, whatever title you want. Walk us through the plot of this movie and your character. 
Leo: Okay. No dead parents. 
Liv: Okay, yes, yes! 
Jasmin: Love. 
Leo: Yes. A family that loves each other and just maybe has disagreements, kind of like Brave. And I do think that that formula, an internal struggle, maybe not, not living up to a parent's expectations can still be there. I want to see either like a queer Disney prince, what he is, royal, like second in line to that throne, whatever he is like, he's trying to find his place in the family, in the institution of the monarchy and it's place in the whatever land is. Um, maybe there's no like romantic love story, but some piece of it has to be about love. And I think maybe chosen family and friendships and, um, you can still find a sense of belonging and connection.
Jasmin: I love it!
Leo: No singing, cause I cannot sing. 
[All laugh]
Jasmin: Is that true? Because most people who say they can't sing can sing just fine.
Leo: Um, oh, it’s true. 
Jasmin: Okay. Okay. I’ll take your word for it. Are there any like superpowers, dragons, things like that.
Leo: Let’s have a dragon or two. Maybe that's a sidekick.
Liv: Let’s chuck them in there. 
Leo: Like, like, let’s sprinkle on some How To Train Your Dragon. Maybe that’s his sidekick. 
Liv: Aw can we be like Flotsam and Jetsam type dragon characters. 
Jasmin: I don't know who that is.
Liv: Uh, the eels in The Little Mermaid
Jasmin: Yeah. And we talk like, [gremlin voice] Hehehe, hi there!
Liv: [Gremlin voice] Hello there.
Jasmin: [Gremlin voice] Chosen family is possible. 
Liv: [Gremlin voice] I’m a scary dragon. 
Leo: [Laughs] Yes. That's the - that's it. 
Jasmin: We have too much practice with that voice. 
Liv: Yes we do, yes we do. [Laugh] Um, I have a question, it kind of comes back to what we were talking about earlier about like feeling responsibility in your work and in being visible through your work. And this is something I think about a lot, especially when we have conversations about like transness in, in media and being in the public eye, like feeling like the responsibility of it, or like, finding our way to being like in charge of the way our stories are told and like - it's all of those things are held in our mind with equal weight all the time. What do you do to relax? Like [Laughs] what do you do to make space for yourself, like in, in that noise, just as Leo like at home? 
Leo: Well, I'm currently not working and I watched all three seasons of Sex Education in four days. 
Liv: There we go. 
Leo: I consume media, like all the time. I'm always, I grew up glued to the television. I like didn't actually read a book all the way through until like fifth grade. I loved television and movies. In my free time that's what I do. Um, but I'm also lately going back to kind of building that sense of community or feeling connected to experiences similar to my own. I’ve started reading a lot more. Um, I like read maybe four, five books in the last couple of months. 
Liv: Amazing. 
Leo: Um, which is the most I've read since the pandemics. And I started writing. 
Liv: Oh, sick! 
Leo: I do hate the arguments in response to people who rightfully and understandably critique harmful media. Like, ‘well, why don't you find your own thing?’ It's like, that's not how this industry works. You don't just write something and people make it.
Liv: No.
Leo: It's about connection. It's about name and about who you know. And like, I do believe though, like if I want to write things and I want to see myself. And maybe someday I acknowledged like I am in a position where it could be greenlit in some way, or at least it could - I could have eyes on it, you know? 
Jasmin: Yes.
Leo: Um, so I want I'm working on that. I'm working on writing about stories that I can relate to and also stories that would be great to stretch my imagination and pilot. 
Jasmin: Yessss. Pilot? 
Leo: Pilot. They’re romcoms, I love romcoms. I want to do romcoms. 
Jasmin: We need more queer, romcomms. I demand it. Now. 
Liv: I am no longer asking. 
Jasmin: We need you to deliver this by next Friday. 
Leo: I’ll see what I can do. 
Jasmin: Leo's like, “oh no, the connection's bad. I can’t hear -”
[All laugh]
Jasmin: I want to ask because I'm curious, what success means to you, and if you consider yourself successful, 
Leo: I think about this all the time. I think, I don't know. So I'm 25 and I'm like, I always say that, butt end of millennial, like the cutoff is depends on who you ask. And I feel like that is a very millennial question of like always kind of self-assessing about have I made it, am I successful? So I feel like I have enough and I feel like, I feel like I have had successes. I don't know if successful is like a hard destination. I wonder if maybe finding successes and things you've done. I'm happy. I'm happy with the things I've done and I'm proud of the growth I feel has come out of each project. 
Jasmin: It sounds like you think, or like you feel something is missing. Is that true? 
Leo: I don't know. I, I just think the problem is, I don't know how I measure success. I don't want to measure it only in like job and like, things like that, 
Liv: Great, sure. 
Jasmin: And you can measure it however. 
Leo: Yeah. And I feel very fulfilled in my housemates and getting to be like a hands-on uncle, which I don't - I'm an only child. So. It's such a magical experience. 
Liv: Yeah.
Leo: And, um, but a part of me does still feel very, because I'm so new and I want to keep working and I want to tell more stories. I do feel like I haven't fully done maybe enough. 
Jasmin: You know what? I've had that for a long time. And this year, like in the last six months, I've been asking myself what the fuck is enough - 
Liv: Yeah.
Jasmin: - because I've always in my head, there's always the thing. Right. Like I'm in my head. I was like, when I book the movie and I thought that was Scream
Leo: Congratulations. 
Jasmin: Thank you. But then I shoot it and I'm like, ‘well, okay. But I'm supporting, I'm not like the lead so that'll be when’ - and then when that comes, I'm going to go, ‘well, there's only 96 minutes needs to be 112.’ There's always going to be a next thing. And I've been really working on letting go of that and realizing like, oh, I could walk outside and get hit by a bus. You know what I mean? In the best way.
Liv: I do. 
Leo: Yeah, yeah.
Jasmin: So I need to be present and - even so much as last night, I'm scrolling on my phone and I'm on Instagram and I didn't really want to be there, but I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I was like, ‘Girl, if you're going to be on Instagram, you should be enjoying Instagram. If you're going to be scrolling, you should be scrolling because an hour from now, I could have a heart attack and die.’ Like every minute should be, should be feeling good. And I think mastering that, or like getting close to mastering peace and joy in the present moment maybe is what success and happiness is? I think maybe. To some degree. For me at least. 
Leo: Yeah. I mean, when I was on Instagram, it was so new. Like having even like a thousand followers was not something that I ever thought would happen. Like I wasn't doing it for followers. My followers are my friends in high school. And I've noticed the last few days, I'm like, I'm almost at a hundred thousand followers, and like a part of me is excited. And I'm like, why, what does it matter? This is a platform where like, yes, you can disseminate information and you can share resources and you can connect with people. But like the things that feel like they really matter when I'm with my housemates and again, to like bring it back to the baby. Like I think a lot about like, how present can I be with her? 
Jasmin: Yeah, yeah. 
Leo: And like, what can I teach her, what can I learn from her and my housemates? And so it's a weird time to be on social media, especially when like the show vamped up for its second season. And I'm like, there's a lot of engagement. And like, I've been telling myself once the finale airs, I'm going to take a break. 
Liv: Yeah.
Jasmin: Mhm.
Leo: Like I've done, I've done the promoting. I've been engaging. I've been like posting things people want to see and now. I need to, for myself, callback to maybe more reading, more writing and just like be present 
Liv: Come back in.
Leo: Mhm, yeah.  
Liv: I don't know if you're familiar with the musical Fun Home. Basically all you need to know for this question is that there's a song in the musical Fun Home where like a young lesbian who doesn't know that about herself. Cause she’s a kid, but, uh, so he's like an older butch woman in a diner. I'm pretty sure it is. And, and sings this whole song about like having this feeling of recognition, but not knowing what it is just yet. And, um, that feeling is something that fascinates me so much, that I definitely have a history with. And I was wondering, did you ever have a moment like that?
Leo: I don't know if I have. I don't know if I have, maybe it goes back to seeing people who only had like one shared identity and never seeing someone who I really solid myself in. I don't think so. 
Jasmin: I think the plus side of you saying you didn't have that moment, though, to find a positive side, is because you grew up with two moms. And so I'm assuming that you also grew up around other queer people. There were pieces of your identity that you were seeing that a lot of us maybe didn't have growing up. Cause I grew up… not in that environment. [Laughs]
Leo: Sure. 
Jasmin: And so that's kind of cool. 
Leo: That’s a good way to look at it actually, because it was already so open and like, that was just a part of everyday life for me. Like I didn't have to really feel like there was something in that way missing. Though, obviously later, [Laughs] later in life, for sure. But initially, yeah, I don't uhm…
Jasmin: Liv, what is your ring of keys moment?
Liv: I don't know. You know, we ask guests that, and it's a question I'm always really interested in the answer to, but I would have to really think about it.
Jasmin: I was thinking about mine the other day. Cause I couldn't remember. When I was like eight or nine, maybe younger, I was in the Oregon Children's Choir. A very big deal to be in, you had to audition, I was in since I was five. And one of my friends, her dad always dropped her off. And so the last time I saw her, it was at the end of the year, third grade or whatever, and now it's the first day, let's say a fourth grade, Oregon Children's Choir practice. And the person who was driving me was like, ‘oh my gosh, I forgot to tell you this girl's dad is now this girl's mom,’ but didn't explain to me what that meant, exactly. And then she got out of the car to tell someone else she just forgot to let everyone know and didn't want it to be awkward or weird, wanted her to feel welcome and normal when she arrived. And when I saw her, she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. And I didn't talk about transness or gayness or anything in my house before that age, because I was raised so Christian, but I just - my heart swelled so big. 
Liv: Mmm.
Jasmin: And I didn't understand why I was so drawn to her. I just wanted to be around her and she started coming around a lot more and hanging out for choir and like bringing snacks and talking to the kids, I think, because she was more comfortable in who she was. And this was a huge deal you guys, in the nineties in Springfield, Oregon, huge deal. 
Liv: Oh yeah. 
Jasmin: And I, I just was so drawn to her and didn't know why. And didn't really think about it until I saw her like a year and a half ago at this Christmas fair back in my town. And it was just like, ‘thank you, thank you for being yourself and doing that way back then when no one else was, I didn't know how much it meant to me until now.’ So I think that was my ring of keys moment.
Liv: Oh, that's amazing. I'm so, so glad you brought that up. 
Leo: That's incredible.
Jasmin: Yeah. So, thanks for coming up with that question Liv. 
Liv: Yeah, I love it! 
Leo: You know, actually I'm remembering this - one of my roommate’s is non binary. Um, they are so cool. And I remember we were on a walk with the baby. I remember saying to them, like, ‘I really wish I knew you when I was younger,’
[Liv gasps]
Leo: - because I would've really, like, appreciated you.
Liv: It's a beautiful thing to say. 
Jasmin: Yeah. 
Leo: And I'm still blown away by their coolness. Now they're like a cool, like non-binary parent, right? 
Liv: Like that's the dream right there. 
[All laugh]
Leo: And it's just like, I did feel drawn to them in a sense of like, I started dressing more masculine when I was like, second grade, I cut my chopped it all off. I had like one of those like quintessential Asian haircuts, it was a bowl cut and a very bad one.
[Jasmin and Liv laugh]
Um, and third grade I started dressing more masculinely. I didn't grow my hair back all the way. Like I used to have like shoulder length, long black hair. I kind of, it was like, um, a bob and I started wearing. There was, um, it was sort of like salvation army, but even less nice growing up. And I bought it for like a dollar, a button-down shirt and it was red and had flames from the boys section. 
[Jasmin laughs]
Liv: Yes!
Leo: And that's when it all started. That's when I started expressing more masculinely. So it started when I was young and I wasn't - my moms were really great. And let me wear that, but there was another guardian in my life who like - Not at all, like, couldn't even wear like boys socks, the white socks with the gram, the bottom of the feet, like that just she wouldn't let that happen. And I just, like, I was getting such mixed signals. Like if I had had somebody stable in my life who was like my roommate, it would have been so different. So it was more like a, in retrospect that that was probably like that would've been. 
Liv: Yeah.
Jasmin: Yeah, for sure. I’m grateful you have that now. And you are being you out in public and on TV is creating a space for other people to have that in the future. So thank you. Thank you for sharing! Okay. We're going to play a game. 
Leo: Okay.
Jasmin: We're going to play “How Gay Is It!”
[Segment music. Leo laughs]
Jasmin: Good. I'm gonna say a thing and you guys are going to tell me how gay it is. Are you ready? 
Liv: Yes.
Leo: Let’s do it.
Jasmin: 3, 2, 1: Leo, the L word. 
Leo: [Laughs] Gay.
Jasmin: Gay! Liv, how gay is Holland Taylor? 
Liv: Oh, well, I mean, I wouldn't presume to know the inner workings of Ms. Taylor, but like aspirationally I would love to say hundred percent. [Laughs]
Jasmin: A hundred percent. Okay. Leo, give me a percentage. How gay is it when Gen Z retires from social media? 
Leo: [Laughs] 20%? 
Jasmin: Okay. Liv, vaping. 
Liv: Oh, like 47. 
Jasmin: Both of you: Pink toothbrushes. 
Liv: 69.
Leo: 30.
Jasmin: Liv, dystopian novels. 
Liv: Oh man. Like 84.
Jasmin: Leo, songs in the key of B flat minor. That includes “Umbrella” by Rhianna, “Burn”by Ellie Goulding. 
Leo: 85. 
Jasmin: [Laughs] Both of you applesauce 
Liv: 40.
Leo: 70?
Jasmin: Liv, Toxic by Britney Spears. 
Liv: 97.
Jasmin: Leo, the brand LadyBoxers.
Leo: A hundred? 
Jasmin: I - okay. The girl on LadyBoxers brand, like ads, she's so hot.
[All laugh]
Jasmin: Okay. Liv, Smartwater. 
Liv: Oh, Smartwater, like 24. 
Jasmin: Both of you, a lady not shaving her armpits. 
Liv: 50. 
Leo: 100.
Jasmin: [Laughs] Leo, “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry. 
Leo: 40.
Jasmin: Liv, green couches. 
Liv: I'm looking at my green couch across the room right now. And I'm going to say 99.
Jasmin: Wait, shut up. [Laughs]
Liv: No, I'm dead serious. It's green and it's velvet and she's beautiful. [Laughs]
Leo: I love that.
Jasmin: That’s incredible. Both of you, how gay is it to abolish the police?
Leo: Gay? I mean - 
Liv: 100%, baby. 
Jasmin: It's pretty gay, but I don't know. I, it is gay cause I said it's gay. And lastly, everybody, what are you going to do this week to further the homo schedule? 
Leo: This interview.
Liv: I love that answer.
Jasmin: I think you're right. I think we very much pushed the homo schedule today. You're the first person to say that, but I love it. Yeah. Let's 
Liv: I'm going to offer this. I'll - I'll have a mimosa at some point this week to celebrate all the good work here 
Jasmin: What am I going to do? You know what? I'm going to keep seeing a bunch of Broadway.That's pretty darn gay. Saw Hadestown yesterday, Passover. Very, very gay. So Leo, thank you so much! [Snaps] I'm snapping cause I'm holding my mic. Thank you for coming on to The Homo Schedule.
Liv: Thank you!
Jasmin: This was so fun. 
Liv: Lovely having you on my gosh.
Leo: And I'm fans of you both, just saying.
Liv: It's very mutual. Thank you so much for coming and talking to us.
Jasmin: I'm blushing.
[Transition music]
Liv: After every interview, there was still so much more for us to read and learn and talk about.
Jasmin: So we have citations to share with you. 
Liv: So Leo grew up in Michigan being one of the only out queer kids and one of the only Asian kids at his school. And he was explaining to us the areas where he was able to find community and representation.
And, uh, we have a link here to an article called “In Hollywood Asian-American stories are Rare, but Asian American LGBTQ stories are even Rarer.” It's by Lakshmi Gandhi for NBC News. And there’s this quote: “while fans often pay the most attention to the talent and lines that are delivered in front of the camera, it's just as important to promote diverse voices behind the scenes to ensure that Asian American queer stories are being told in ways that are culturally accurate,” which is true. And I think this article is fucking cool.
Jasmin: Yeah. During the episode, Leo talked about his background working in a social work program before he got into acting. Leo has two moms - which is still just so cool - and they worked in that industry and he shares what he learned working in that space during. And college. So here is the article it's called “During the 1970s social workers began placing LGBTQ youth with queer foster families” by Matt Katz for WNYC The Takeaway. This was an audio episode from 2021. Here's a quote: “This seemed so radical and so subversive and so amazing on the part of the department of social services that we felt compelled to answer their request in the affirmative.” You can find a link to that audio interview in the show notes. And we'll also include a link to Leo's Twitter thread in the description.
[Transition music]
Jasmin: This has been The Homo Schedule. I'm Jasmin Savoy Brown, your host, producer, and creator of the show.
Liv: And I'm Liv Hewson, your host and producer.
Jasmin: The Homo Schedule is produced by Multitude for Netflix. Our lead producer is Eric Silver, our engineer and editor is Mischa Stanton, and our executive producer is Amanda McLoughlin.
Liv: Be sure to follow Most, Netflix’s home for LGBTQ+ storytelling on Twitter and Instagram, @Most.
Jasmin: And the best way to help us keep advancing The Homo Schedule is to tell a friend about the show!
Liv: So post about us on socials or text someone a link to your favorite episode.
Jasmin: We'll see you next week!
Liv: This meeting has been adjourned.
[Gavel bang]