We had the grand opportunity to run a few Spotlight questions by Lindsay White and Veronica May. Together White and May make up the indie-pop due, The Lovebirds. The duo take on questions stretching from sounding like self-described grandpa's to both being lesbian in a not-so-lesbian world. Check The Lovebirds out on Twitter, Facebook, and at your local music venue when they pass through your hood.
Could you introduce yourselves and what you do?
LW: My name is Lindsay White and I’m one-half of The Lovebirds. My “day job” is Director of Marketing at a corporate event planning company called The Event Team. I’m also a freelance writer and social media manager, currently doing work for the San Diego Troubadour. In my spare time, I’m working on a screenplay that deals with various experiences of coming out as a lesbian; I hope to have a first draft complete by the end of the year.
VM: My name is Veronica Lorraine May. I am a Board-Certified Neurologic Music Therapsist (MT-BC, NMT) currently working with primarily children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I am also a drum, guitar instructor at San Pasqual Academy and in addition do private drum, guitar, piano and voice instruction. On the side, I am a session player, primarily vocal harmonies. I am also writing a book (that will be published in 90 years) about BiPolar 1 disorder and have a collection of illustrations depicting what mania and depression looks like to me...coffee table picture book to come.
You are both lesbians. How was both of your coming-out process? Was it similar or vastly different?
LW: I grew up in a household/religion where being gay simply wasn’t an option. I had boyfriends and even got married to a wonderful man that I had dated for many many years. I believed I was straight but always had this underlying sadness that I couldn’t shake. I thought God was punishing me for something. I had hooked up with girls before, which was always something I enjoyed, but never really had the “A-ha” moment until I met Veronica and fell head-over-heels for her. After that everything made so much more sense and I was able to take steps toward myself. Before we broke up, people would always say, “yeah, but how do you know you’re a lesbian if this is your only relationship?” The best way I can describe it is with a math analogy. Once you’re taught how addition works, you use it forever. You wouldn’t just suddenly say “I don’t know how to add anymore!” That said, I completely believe that sexuality is fluid even though society wants it to be fixed. In my opinion, chemistry is chemistry and souls are genderless. My desire to come out quickly was fueled by the fact I didn’t want to torture my husband any longer than I already had. Being local musicians, there was also the reality that someone would snap a pic of Veronica and I together before I got the chance to have face-to-face discussions with the people I loved. My sister was amazing, my dad showed his support by telling me he loved me no matter what (without any other judgement), and I’m still having trouble with my mom all these years later. It’s a shame that we’re missing out on each other’s lives, but I’d rather be who I am than live a lie or be made to feel ashamed of who I am.
VM: I had NO CLUE that I was gay but I can clearly remember my first girl crush in first grade. I grew up in a lovely, very small, very country town called Byers Colorado. I graduated with 20 other people. Being gay wasn't an option in the town and I grew up Catholic. I have nothing bad to say about the town or Our Lady of the Plains Catholic Church. I just knew it wasn't ok to have those thoughts. I didn't realize it until I was 23. Long story short and 3 long islands later I found myself kissing a girl. The next morning I said to her out loud, "so...I think I'm a lesbian....wanna be my girlfriend?" The rest was history. My parents were surprisingly supportive coming from the upbringing they both had. We grew up on a farm and my dad's parents owned a cattle ranch. It shouldn't surprise me that all of my 6 siblings have accepted me...maybe they aren't totally on board but they always ask about my girlfriend and I . I'm pretty lucky.
What’s something you wish that you had known about coming out at that time?
LW: There’s nothing easy about it, and it’s certainly different for everyone. I really just wish the realization would have happened before I got married. I had so much love for my husband and he loved me more than anything. To me it was a revelation; to him it was a massacre. I still carry so much guilt over the fact he was an innocent bystander.
VM: It’s something I still grapple with..that it is ok to be who you are and you shouldn't have to apologize for that.
How has your experience as openly queer musicians been?
LW: For the most part, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience because people resonate with authenticity. Being a musician is an honor- I am so grateful to be able to express everything about myself, not just my sexuality, in a way that others might be able to relate to. Veronica actually has to deal with more of the knee-jerk reactions because of the way she dresses. She is brave every day just by the way she presents herself. I can’t tell you how many times we have gotten on a plane and people give her the death stare just because she has short hair and is wearing a tie. I always turn into a protective mama bear and shoot that glare right back, but she is much more gracious about it. It’s 2014, people! I hope we live to see the day it’s not even a discussion anymore.
VM: Great. I find that I can reach specific demographics and not to toot my own horn, but I think I am a good role model and that I can represent the queer community well. I'm proud of who I am and I believe in what I do and I know the ability I have to make a change on a bit of a bigger scale.
We consider it vital to promote bands and musicians who support LGBT bands and musicians. Have there been any bands or musicians who have been particularly supportive of your decision to come-out or inspired you along the way?
LW: The San Diego music scene in general is one of the most supportive communities we have ever been a part of. No one cares if you’re gay, they just want to encourage you. I’m inspired every single day by my local music friends: Cathryn Beeks, Jeffrey Joe, Steph Johnson, Rhythm and the Method, Berkley Hart, Steve Poltz, Sister Speak…the list goes on forever. I do want to give a major shout-out to Tori Roze and the Hot Mess. Tori is a powerhouse performer and does a lot of work to bring the queer community of musicians together.
VM: Tori Roze and The Hot Mess is probably the biggest. Tori is an amazing person and people don't know that she is gay....she's just who she is and she rocks it. Another great band is based out of Colorado, Jen Korte and The Loss.
Has your interaction with fans changed since you’ve come out?
LW: Honestly I just feel happier and more myself, and I think people pick up on that energy. Before I came out, I was writing very depressing music. It was a necessary part of coming to terms with my sexuality, but I kind of stayed in my little bubble with my box of tissue and didn’t really have a lot of friends or fans during that time. Ever since The Lovebirds started, our fans have become our friends and vice versa.
VM: Not really...which I think is a great thing. What I was is who I am, just a different part of my life.
Is there anything you would change in the music industry in order to improve the queer experience?
LW: There are many things I would change about the music industry in general. I hate the whole Top 40 structure and I hate how music is dumbed down for the masses. I know listeners are smarter than the industry gives them credit for, but year after year they pump the same formulaic music through the airwaves and tell the public “this is what you want to hear!” Local musician Danielle LoPresti (co-founder of San Diego Indie Fest) always says that we need to work harder in the industry to reflect what our culture actually looks like. That means all races, all genders, all sexualities. I strongly believe there is more money to be made via more diversity, so I’m not sure why the suits wouldn’t try to change the model by casting a wider net.
VM: Just the stereotypical view of "queer"...oversexualized...everything seems to be centered around the fact that if you are queer you are sleeping with someone of the same sex...it seems to be the first thing a lot of people think of when you tell them. I think there are some great role models, like Ellen, who represent our community well.
Who are some bands or musicians who have inspired your music?
LW: Other than the local acts I listed above, Bob Dylan has been a huge influence on my attention to lyrics. Artists like Ani and Jewel also paved the way and showed me I could aspire to be a working songwriter. Before I heard them, I thought I was just a silly little girl with a silly little hobby. Now I listen to all kinds of music but recently have been playing First Aid Kit’s new album Stay Gold on repeat.
VM: Nat King Cole, Haim, Milk Carton Kids, First Aid Kit, Simon and Garfunkel.
What is next for your music? What do you hope to accomplish going forward?
LW: We have our sites set on more touring. We’d love to get added to a festival or as support for a national touring act. We’re also trying to figure out how to get our music placed in tv/film. We have a pretty big catalog of music under our belt - now we’re just looking for the eyes and ears. Eventually the goal would be to make a total living. We are both lucky to have great “day jobs” and amazing bosses, but it would be nice to not always feel spread so thing and to be able to focus on our passion.
VM: I hope we continue to get better and better. I already feel like I've become a much better songwriter and you can only improve your instruments over time. I just hope we keep doing what we are doing. The opportunities are coming our way. It pays off to keep going!
You say that The Lovebirds sound like “2 grandpas.” What is it about grandpa-sounds that really drives the band towards success?
LW: That is a hilarious question. We joke that we sound like grandpas because some of our songs have a very retro/antiquated quality. We love 40’s style music and find ourselves writing in that vein without even realizing it. Of course, this is only a small part of our larger catalog which includes all kinds of different styles. We’ll melt your heart with some songs and melt your face with others.
VM: The dentures.
Is there anything you would like to say to any fans you might have who identify as LGBT or who are struggling through the coming-out process?
LW: I would tell them to trust their gut, be themselves and try to find or build a community. My friend Jessica McKimmie is the Executive Director for an organization called Pizza Klatch in Olympia, WA. Basically the whole mission is to create a safe place for queer teens and allies. I wish more towns incorporated programs like this. Also, make whatever short or long-term plans you can to live in a place where the people will accept you. I forget how lucky I am to live in the gayborhood until I go outside of it. It’s noble to go out into the world and hope that you can change people’s perspectives, but at the end of the day you want to feel safe in your home.
VM: Be proud of who you are and don't apologize for who you are. Represent the community well. If someone yells out the "f" word...and believe me it has happened to me a number of times...don't yell back. It only fuels the fire and proves their erroneous point.
Would you rather battle 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?
LW: I’d rather try my luck with the horse-sized duck. I’d bring a bunch of bread and try to befriend it. Before long I’ll be riding it and calling it Falcor.
VM: Well, I have a fear of tiny horses, especially when they are near my ankles because I have a fear of things touching my ankles, ESPECIALLY tiny mares. I'll go with the big duck. I know, I know...I'm brave.