28 October 2021, 13:51 | Updated: 28 October 2021, 13:52
Mia Berrin from Pom Pom Squad and Phoenix Arn-Horn from Softcult open up about their coming out journeys.
Welcome to Coming Out Chats, the podcast where our guests open up to each other about their coming out journeys. This week we’re joined by musicians Mia Berrin and Phoenix Arn-Horn.
Mia is the lead singer and founding member of indie-rock band Pom Pom Squad. Mia started the band back in 2015 as a solo project. After moving to New York, Pom Pom Squad eventually evolved into a four-piece band and they released their debut EP, Ow, in 2019.
Earlier this year, Pom Pom Squad released their first album, Death Of Cheerleader, which Pitchfork described as “a fiery exploration of love, anger, and coming-of-age”. Growing up as a woman of colour, who would later in her life unearth and embrace her queerness, discussing and reconciling who she is with the perception of who people think she should be, has become a lifelong mission for Mia.
Meeting Mia for the first time is our second guest, Phoenix Arn-Horn. Based in Ontario, Canada, Phoenix is one half of rock band Softcult. Born out of the ashes of their previous musical incarnation, Phoenix formed Softcult with her twin sister Mercedes in 2020.
Based on their experiences as two young women in an often male dominated industry, Softcult’s manifesto is a call to arms against misogyny and sexism. Their latest single, ‘BWBB‘, is a rallying cry against what they describe as the “double standard, hypocrisy and dissonance of the ‘bro code’ whereby men do not hold their friends accountable for assault. Their new EP ‘Year of The Snake’ is expected to drop in early 2022 and is available to pre-save now.
In this episode, Mia and Phoenix talk about their experience of homeschooling, who they first came out to, why hardcore scenes thrive in small towns, making connections with other queer people through music, falling in love with your best friend, being mistaken as the “straight best friend” in a gay club, and how everyone has that “one shitty uncle”.
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Read an excerpt from Mia and Phoenix’s chat below
Phoenix: Who did you first come out to and how did it go down?
Mia: Who did I first come out to? Honestly, I don’t know. I think my parents knew that I was bisexual when I was a teenager. And there were several times that I remember when I was like, ‘Oh, I want to go to pride with this girl who’s my friend and there’s nothing going on there at all!’ And they were like, ‘Hey, are you gay?’ They’re like, ‘Are you? Are you gay?’ And I was like, ‘No, no, I just want to support the gays’. Yeah, just the most transparent shit ever. But I think I just wasn’t ready to accept it for whatever reason. There was sort of this assumption, and I think everyone that I met moving forward in my life just kind of always knew, that I was attracted to women. I don’t know if I really had to come out, which is great. I’m honestly…that’s really lucky. That’s kind of a privilege. I mean, I remember when I told my parents that I wasn’t interested in dating men anymore. My mom was really mad at me but not for the reason that you would expect. She got so upset. She’s like, ‘Did you think we weren’t gonna be accepting? Why would you not tell us?!’ I was like, mum, stop yelling at me! But yeah, I feel lucky that I didn’t really have a big scary coming out experience. Did you?
Phoenix: That’s good. Honestly, it was kind of similar, at least with my parents. They they knew for a long time, it was just no one really talked about it. I was a typical super-moody, problem child. And eventually my mom just sat me down and was like, ‘Hey, so is everything okay? Are you alright? What’s going on?’ It was weird because I just started crying. And she was like, ‘Oh, is it boy problems?’ And I was like, ‘Nooo’. And then she was like, ‘Is it girl problems?’ And I’m like, ‘…Yeeeeaaah’. So yeah, she just already knew.
Mia: Did you have teenage relationships that you were moody over? Or were you just kind of grappling with everything?
Phoenix: Oh, man. I was so head over heels for my best friend, which was a tough time.
Mia: The classic!
Phoenix: It was funny though because my parents didn’t really care at all. They were like, ‘Oh yeah, we figured you always kind of…we always saw that for you’. But then it was weird coming out to friends at that time because, especially when I was younger, I was hanging out with that homeschooler group and they were a little bit more reserved, I guess. That was interesting because I didn’t want to come out to them, really. But I made the mistake of telling one of their brothers. I don’t know why I told the brother but then he obviously told them [and it] spread around. And then I got invited to one of the girls houses just to hang. So I went over and they staged an intervention.
Mia: Oh my god.
Phoenix: Yeah, it was not great. They didn’t really like…they wouldn’t really let me leave until I just came out and said it. And I was like, oh man, this sucks. But yeah, so that’s how that went with my friends at the time.
Mia: That’s kinda cruel…an intervention?
Phoenix: I know. Maybe not the best coming out experience, but I don’t know. It happened and I’m okay now.
Mia: Did you feel like it freed you up? Like alright, the weird hard part is out of the way, and now I can go live my life?
Phoenix: It was definitely scary in the moment. I was just sweating like a pig the whole time. But afterwards? Yeah, I did feel relief and I had a little skip in my step when I left, so that was good.
This conversation was edited and condensed for clarity
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