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‘Ronnie and the Others’ shines spotlight on tough issues

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Last week in room 261 of Griffin Hall, Ronnie Gladden interviewed his first ever guest on camera for his own talk show, “Ronnie and the Others”, which will focus on LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and asexual) themes.

“This is a goal that I had a long time ago as a kid,” Gladden said. “This is a kind of renaissance in that I am reconnecting; reclaiming some things I want to do.”

The project has grown out of his thesis and dissertation work in the college of education and human services about gender identity in higher educational leadership. The episodes will explore themes such as intersectionality, employment, relationships, identity, family, gender, hate crimes and discrimination, and stereotypes. Issues, such as questioning, bisexual and transgender, that often get overlooked will also be given air time, according to Gladden.

“Ronnie brings a real authenticity to it because he’s kind of exploring all these issues in his own life and as he does that he brings the audience along and engages in a real dialogue with a scholar,” said Bavand Karim, producer/director for Norse media and lecturer in the electronic media and broadcasting program in the college of informatics. Karim provides the technical expertise side of this project.

“This is definitely a journey,” Gladden said. “I would not want to come off as pedantic over this or something like that cause this is evolving. It’s changing too fast to anchor it really.”

The first interview was with Dr. Tom Grogan, a semi-retired math professor from Cincinnati State.

“He’s interesting because he’s an older gentleman, he’s around 70 years of age and he didn’t come out until he was 50,” Gladden said.

The two discussed work-life balance, which refers to having a balance between your work life and your private life, according to Gladden. He felt it was important to have the opinion of someone senior on the subject because it will potentially be more difficult for younger generations to find this balance given the political attention to LGBTQIA issues.

Thus far interviews have also been held with Brandelyn Tosolt, an NKU education professor who is helping Gladden with his dissertation. The two talked about race issues. Brian Wright, the International Affairs Manager for Cincinnati State, was also on the show last week discussing his work helping gay and lesbian immigrants finding access to get married. James Koschoreck, NKU’s Educational Leadership Doctoral Program Director was also interviewed and talked about his findings within his research concerning a fear to engage in topics involving sexuality in a K through 12 setting.

One name Gladden is looking forward to interviewing in the upcoming weeks is JAC Stringer.

“JAC is the founder of Heartland Trans* Wellness Group, and he has quite a following,” Gladden said. “He’s a performer, he’s a writer, he’s an activist, and he was born female and now lives as male, so he’s transitioned.”

In addition to the interviews, each show will have performances (by Stringer himself on the episode he visits), music, poetry, art or man on the street interviews. The man on the street interviews will be Gladden asking strangers about themes of the show. This will help to break away from the analytical discussions and show more of an emotional expression, according to Karim.

In addition to the show, a traveling library exhibit, as well as a community forum, and website are also in the works.

“It’s important to remember that this is an ongoing process in becoming something and none of us are defined by the person we are now. We are all in the process of becoming something and I can say as a thirty something year old man that I’m still growing and I think it’s great,” Karim said.

For those in the community, Gladden hopes “Ronnie and the Others” will provide them with a chance to be introspective and look from the outside in. For those not in the community, he hopes the program will help to broaden how they see people and show that there many in the community that don’t fit into traditional stereotypes.

For himself, Gladden feels the show will leave him with less to hide behind. Gladden continued that with this being a renaissance period for his past goals and a period of rebirth in a way, that some old crutches he used to hide behind will have to slowly die off.

“This is the irony ‘cause I’m talking about this and having a talk show, but when it comes to me I’m still at a loss of words for some things,” Gladden said. “I’m still grappling with making an effective synthesis of my racial identity as well as my gender identity. I’m working on that.”

Those interested in the project can donate to their kickstarter page at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/974245521/ronnie-and-the-others. It will be up until October 31st. Filming will end in December and editing will begin in January. Gladden is hoping to air everything by next spring.

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‘Ronnie and the Others’ shines spotlight on tough issues