In 2008, former Out magazine columnist Bob Merrick began recording a podcast in his kitchen, the focus of which was positive goings-on in the world. The show quickly amassed a following, prompting the Universal Broadcasting Network to offer him his own Internet radio show. The Baub Show, broadcast every weekday morning, gives actors, artists, authors, chefs, comedians, musicians and even reality show stars the opportunity to discuss topics centered around motivation and self-betterment rather than industry gossip and tabloid headlines.
I discovered The Baub Show, which is based in Los Angeles, nearly two weeks ago when LGBTQ activist and speaker Ash Beckham tweeted that she was going to be a guest. During her segment I discovered Bob's passion for providing a voice for those making the world better, including LGBTQ difference makers.
Because of the message his show helps to spread in regards to acceptance and equality, I reached out to Bob earlier this week to discuss his impact on the LGBTQ community, cyberbullying and Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City.
CL: What are you up to these days?
BM: As of February I've been on the air every morning as the host of my own morning radio show on UBNRadio.com, which started as a podcast in my kitchen about four years ago.
CL: What's the focus of your show?
BM: The Baub Show is a celebration of all that's right in the world, whether that be current events, human interest stories or pop culture. I couldn't handle one more show that focused on misbehaving starlets passed out without underwear or the decay of our government, so I set up camp in my own little corner of the Internet.
"No one ever talks about all of the planes that land, only those that crash," my friend Julia told me and she's right. When you think about it, planes crash very rarely, once every few years or so, yet thousands of planes fly around safely every day and no one talks about them. I have to imagine we all have this idea that the world is falling apart because we only ever hear about what's going wrong with it. Imagine if the news were overflowing with all of the goodness in the world? Don't you think there would be a major global shift because everyone would be filled with hope and inspiration instead of defeat and despair? It may not be as attention grabbing, but I feel good knowing I'm doing my part.
CL: How is what you're doing making a difference in the LGBTQ community?
BM: Honestly, if I am, it's by being true to who I am. I've always believed that we in the gay community just want to be treated as equal and normal as our heterosexual counterparts and I believe that in order to be treated as such, we have to behave as such. I've always found Ellen DeGeneres, who is in millions of living rooms every afternoon, to have far more reach and a far bigger impact because she's being Ellen first and allowing the fact that she's gay to be just part of her personal story.
I've always believed that it's my responsibility to reveal myself first and let the fact that I'm gay come along as an afterthought. I handle myself in my personal life this way and I try and handle my show in the same fashion. My show is not a gay show, but I certainly won't shy away from gay topics. I think that by living with integrity and authenticity, I defy someone to not treat me with respect. In my own way, I'm trying to create the normalcy that I want our community to feel.
CL: What LGBTQ issue are you most passionate about?
BM: I think the most important thing that we seek from childhood until the day we die is acceptance. We want to belong and we want to be connected. I think it's our greatest human desire and until homosexuals are treated like everybody else instead of as deviants, outcasts or sinners, we as a community will continue to miss out on having that most basic human desire fulfilled.
I'm also passionate about the bullying epidemic. I was bullied terribly as a child, but at least growing up in the '80s I could get away from the people that were being cruel to me. Now, with the advent of the Internet, our youth aren't safe anywhere. We need to spend more time and energy instilling love and compassion in our children. Sometimes the bullies need it even more than the victims. The more love someone feels, the less likely they are to try and diminish someone else's spirit.
CL: Can you name the one person whose contribution to the LGBTQ community has inspired you most?
BM: Though there are too many to name, I will limit my answer to the two that are top of mind—Rosie O'Donnell and Dustin Lance Black.
I've never met Rosie in person, but I've always loved the bravery with which she carries herself. I know that her style can rub people the wrong way, but if you pay attention to her, she is an authentic, passionate demonstration of love. There's no denying her heart is in the right place.
I've known Lance since I first moved to Los Angeles. He's been an inspiration to me because I've watched him struggle with being gay from an early age and now he's a well-spoken activist. Every time I watch him speak I'm overcome by his grace. I'm so proud of what he has already accomplished and I look forward to seeing what else he has to offer to our community and to the world.
CL: If you had to recommend one book, movie or song with an LGBTQ bent, what would your recommendation be?
BM: I would, hands down, recommend Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series. Armistead is a literary hero of mine and when I was a young, newly out male his books transported me to San Francisco in the 1970s where I imagine being gay never felt more electric and alive. I would recommend Tales of the City to anyone, gay or straight.
CL: What do you hope for the LGBTQ community?
BM: I hope that we no longer need parades and floats to announce our agenda. I hope it becomes less and less of a media circus when one of our famous members comes out. I hope that we have more athletes come out and inspire younger generations to realize that you can be gay and masculine and athletic and that your talent doesn't have to be reserved for drama club or band camp. I hope that our society can realize that as gay people, we are whole and not broken and that we are all making our place in the world with the same beating hearts. I hope that members of our community get to feel human connection at its most basic level, with acceptance and love without judgement.
Note: This interview appeared on Out.com on April 26, 2013.