Show cover of The Forbidden Apple: LGBTQ+ SPIRITUALITY

The Forbidden Apple: LGBTQ+ SPIRITUALITY

Interfaith conversations deconstructing traditional religious beliefs. A former Orthodox Jew and a Spanish-raised Catholic join forces to fight spiritual violence. Our nuanced conversations with queer revolutionaries will give you the tools to tear apart binaries and live a meaningful life. Recent guests include Arlan Hamilton, Mary Lambert, Sushant Divgikar, Rev. Troy Perry, Ryan Cassata & Senator Weinberg.


Becoming an LGBT Global faith leader - Bishop Joseph Tolton (Part II)
In Part II of this Episode, Bishop Tolton talks about his mission of creating Interconnected Justice (ICJ)- a global racial justice movement in which the continent of Africa and its diaspora build an ecosystem of self-defined and determined advocacy. Bishop Tolton works directly with leaders to build integrated justice movements connecting activists with civil society advocates, media professionals, academics, and political leaders. Bishop Tolton opens our eyes to the “invisible” influences of the West that jeopardize LGBTQ rights in Africa. You can contact Bishop Tolton and check out his mission here:
64:14 06/20/2022
Becoming an LGBT Global faith leader - Bishop Joseph Tolton (Part I)
Bishop Joseph Tolton is a legendary global faith leader and the Founder and President of Interconnected Justice - a global racial justice movement in which the continent of Africa and its diaspora build an ecosystem of self-defined and determined advocacy. Bishop Tolton shares the complexities of growing up in Harlem as a promising preacher kid with an inner conflict: feeling the devil had planted the seed of homosexuality as part of his spiritual journey. Bishop Tolton opens about about his journey from going through exoricisms to try to rid himself of the "devil", to coming to a place of self acceptance and embracing his sexuality.    You can contact Bishop Tolton and check out his mission here:
59:03 06/12/2022
A Queer Feminist Activist - Dr. Stella Nyanzi
The inimitable Dr. Stella Nyanzi is a Ugandan queer feminist activist, human rights advocate, poet, medical anthropologist, and scholar of sexuality, family planning, and public health. At the time of our recording, Stella speaks to us from Kenya where she is taking refuge due to the current regime in Uganda where she is unsafe as a very vocal opposition. Stella shares with us about her work being a vocal activist. She talks about her time in prison and using her body and sexuality as a means of protest. Listen till the end to hear Dr. Stella read a poem that she wrote while in prison.
83:26 06/06/2022
Raising the voice of sexual violence survivors with Mary Muthui TW Sexual Violence
Mary Muthui is a human rights activist from Kenya. She shares the stigma and violence she faced being noticeably queer, and what gave her the strength and courage to fight for herself and others. Mary talks to us about the practice of corrective rape- which is unfortunately common practice against LGBTQ individuals specifically lesbians. Mary survived this sexual violence against her and is an outspoken activist trying to end this practice often putting herself at risk to help others. Mary’s home is open 24/7 to victims of sexual violence and is often the first stop for those needing medical help, food, safety, and support.  Listen to learn more about the lifesaving work she does singlehandedly.  You can support Mary by donating here through Paypal:
30:58 05/31/2022
A Media Pioneer from Angola - Coréon Dú
Coréon Dú is an award-winning Angolan recording artist, creative director, designer, screenwriter and producer.  Coréon shares how he started creating much-needed entertainment for folks his own age in Angola, and how he became a leading voice on the forefront of change with his revolutionary content. We discuss the far-reaching impact his work has had on the representation of the LGBTQ community in Angola and beyond. Listen to hear Coréon share how he incorporates his love of Africa into everything he does. 
64:15 05/22/2022
It Feels Good To Be Forbidden- Val Kalende
Val Kalende is an activist and founding member of Uganda's LGBTQ MOVEMENT. Val helped launch Freedom and Roam Uganda-FARUG. She shares how taking the risk to be visible has paid off in advancing LGBTQ rights in Uganda. Val opens up about her journey of going back into the closet after being a vocal LGBTQ activist to undergo conversion therapy. Her journey is one of struggle and hope and finally coming to full acceptance of her queerness.  Find Val on Fb @Val Kalende To learn more about Val :
49:09 05/15/2022
Asylum, a manifesto for LGBTQ refugees with Edafe Okporo
Edafe Okporo is a global gay rights activist, the founder of Refuge America, and one of the most visible voices on the issue of displacement.   Edafe grew up in Nigeria where religion played an important role in his childhood.  Edafe shares how he was guided to pray the gay away and how he became a pentecostal pastor in this effort.  An interaction with an older closeted priest made him realize he was in for a life of suffering and needed to come out to live an authentic life.   Edafe talks about becoming an advocate and getting involved in LGBTQ organizations after losing many friends to AIDS due to homophobic laws and stigmas which prevent many from getting tested and treated.   Due to this work, Edafe was the victim of violence from anti- LGBTQ groups in Nigeria which resulted in him seeking asylum in the US to save his life.    Edafe tells us more about the asylum seeking process and how and why he created Refuge America to help the many LGBTQ refugees who come to the US to live safely.    He is the author of ASYLUM, A Memoir & Mainfesto, a poignant memoir and urgent call to action for immigration justice, out June 2022.
45:41 05/08/2022
African Rainbow Family with Aderonke Apata
Aderonke is a Nigerian LGBTQ Activist and the founder of African Rainbow Family charity- a UK-Based organization that supports LGBTIQ people of African heritage and the wider Black and Asian Minority Ethnic groups.  Aderonke was born and raised in Nigeria where being gay is illegal. When she was found to be a lesbian she suffered intense persecution. Aderonke fled to the UK to seek asylum. Despite fearing imprisonment and death in her country, Aderonke was not believed and she languished in the asylum system for years with her claim being repeatedly refused by the UK authorities. After a 13-year long battle Aderonke was finally granted refugee status. Aderonke shares how she has used her journey, and the tools she learned struggling to get refugee status, to now  provide services for others through her charity which supports LGBTIQ refugees and people seeking asylum and campaigns for global LGBTIQ equality - standing against hate crimes and supporting communities who face constant harassment, hate crimes and discrimination heaped on them by an ignorant society because of their sexuality or sexual preferences and or gender identity. You can support the African Rainbow Family charity here:
38:24 05/01/2022
I ran away from God - Luzie from Kenya (TW: suicide, violence, homophobia)
Luzie talks about her struggle growing up as a Lesbian in Kenya. She opens up about the spiritual violence she suffered and being made to believe that it's demonic to be attracted to the same sex. Luzie shines a light on how gay clubs become a safe haven for many LGBTQ folks- drinking to numb the pain- and even more dire, using it as place to sleep when they become homeless once they're rejected and kicked out of their homes. Luzie also shares about being shunned from her family at the same time that she is the sole caretaker for her mom who has dementia. She hopes to be a pastor one day to other LGBTQ folks in Kenya so they don’t have to suffer like she has. Paypal info to help Luzie care for her elderly mom and her daily expenses:
21:48 04/24/2022
Professor of Religious Studies in Zimbabwe - Ezra Chitando
Ezra Chitando is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Zimbabwe and co-author of “Reimagining Christianity and Sexual Diversity in Africa”.  Ezra serves as Theology Consultant on HIV and AIDS with EHAIA, the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy, of the World Council of Churches. Ezra talks about the importance of diversity of opinions and how education helps in the fight to bring about equal rights for LGBTQ folks.  Ezra speaks of his work educating about African indigenous spiritual practices and their accepting views on gender and sexuality as opposed to the oppressive teaching christianity brought about to their region. Buy his most recent book  “Reimagining Christianity and Sexual Diversity in Africa” co-authored with Adriaan van Klinken :!/ Learn more about Ezra:
28:01 04/17/2022
The story of a Refugee from Cameroon - Cedric Tchante (TW: Suicide,Violence, Homophobia)
Cedric Tchante is an activist, marketing coordinator and blogger from Cameroon, currently living in San Francisco.    Cedric talks about growing up in Cameroon where being gay is illegal. He shares how he became a vocal activist and appeared in the documentary “Born This Way”.  A first in Cameroon, this documentary showed the faces of LGBTQ folks talking about their sexuality.    With the documentary making national news, Cedric was the target of harassment and violent attacks. It was only when his loved ones were threatened that Cedric knew he must leave Cameroon and claim asylum.    Listen to hear Cedric share his experience of being a refugee in America.    You can learn more about Cedric here:   To watch the documentary “Born this way” visit:
54:49 04/10/2022
An LGBTQ artivist from Botswana - Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile
Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile is a performance artist, musician, writer and LGBT artivist from Botswana. She is known for being the first public figure from Botswana to openly identify as trans. Katlego is also the first-ever TED Fellow from Botswana.  Katlego talks about the biggest misconceptions from the western media about LGBTQ folks in Botswana.  She shares her personal journey and talks passionately about the narrative for trans people that exists in Africa and how their identities are not justified by the politics of surgery.  Listen to hear how Kat sees God in everything, and what she means by “Deputy Jesus”. To learn more about Katlego visit: To follow her journey visit her website:
49:05 04/03/2022
Life-saving work for LGBTQ folks in Uganda - "Biggie" from FARUG
Ssenfuka Joanita Warry (Biggie) is the Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda FARUG which is a Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer diverse persons and women's rights organization based in Uganda.  FARUG’s mission is to strengthen and mobilize the voice, visibility, and collective organizing power of LBQ womxn in order to change the norms, institutions, policies, and practices that perpetuate inequality, homophobia, hetero normativity and violence in both the public and private arenas. Biggie shares the life-saving work FARUG does on a daily basis including teaching the queer community how to navigate the laws in Uganda which still criminals homosexuality. Biggie breaks down how Christianity is used as a perpetrator of violence to the LGBTQ community. BIGGIE ALSO chairs  LGBTQ Catholics- faithful souls Uganda to counter hateful speech from the church and have a safe religious space and a support group.  FARUG is currently looking for help with getting binders and other devices(which are not yet accessible in Uganda) for the trans men in their community. You can help FARUG by contacting them here:
20:37 03/27/2022
Nigerian Gay Rights Activist - Bisi Alimi
Bis Alimi is a Nigerian gay rights activist, public speaker, blog writer, and HIV/LGBT advocate who gained international attention when he became the first Nigerian to come out on television. Bisi shares about how coming out on tv caused him to be driven out of his country and shaped his life and the legacy he is creating. He also opens up about his struggles and the journey he went through to become an advocate for others so they don't have to go through what he did. He talks about reconnecting with his ancestral spirituality once he started university and what inspired him.  Bisi is the Executive Director of Bisi Alimi Foundation which advocates for LGBT rights in Nigeria and a co-founder and director of Rainbow Intersection,  a forum for discussions of queer identity, religion, and race as well as co-founder of  a nonprofit organization that campaigns for the human rights of LGBT+ people in countries where they are discriminated against. Listen to hear how a teddy bear is what Bisi finds most spiritual.  Please bear with us as the connection was weak but we couldn’t pass up this conversation.
49:58 03/21/2022
The Forbidden Apple around the world series
After two years of exploring the relationship between LGBTQ people and religion, TFA is traveling abroad.  In this new season we amplify LGBTQ voices from African countries. We will hear from people who have survived gender-based violence and corrective rape, live with HIV in Africa, and those who risked their lives to work towards legalizing homosexuality in their countries.  They share these stories to bring light to these issues, teach us about the impact of colonialism and neo-colonialism, and to get support for their local organizations to change the narrative of LGBTQ people in Africa where in many places homosexuality is still criminalized. You can now listen to these stories weekly at the Forbidden Apple Podcast available on all streaming platforms.
07:46 03/13/2022
Summer Break - with hosts Melissa Weisz & Pelayo Alvarez
On this final episode of The Nuanced Series, your hosts look back on the lessons learned throughout this season. From listening to others perspectives to giving ourselves permission to think differently, Melissa and Pelayo discuss how to engage in difficult yet meaningful conversations. Thank you all so much for listening. The Forbidden Apple Podcast will be back in the fall . Follow us @th Follow Pelayo's Youtube comedy series
18:51 08/08/2021
Preacher's Kid - with Grace Semler Baldridge
Singer/songwriter Grace Semler Baldridge shares with us their journey from being a preacher's kid to charting on Christian music charts as an openly queer artist. Grace shares how they deconstructed and reconstructed their faith coming out stronger on the other side with a deeper and more connected spirituality. We discuss music, inspiration and relationships.  Follow Semler @
40:25 07/26/2021
Understanding antisemitism - with Rabbi James
Melissa sits down with Rabbi James, Director of social justice programming at CBST to discuss being a queer liberal Jew in 2021. We discuss how it may seem at odds to stand up for more than one people's pain and our steadfast belief that all people should be free and live safely without fear. We discuss the harmful stereotypes about the Jewish people, the rise in antisemitism, and how it mutates from generation to generation often under the guise of social justice movements. Melissa and Rabbi James talk about “Tikkun Olam”- healing the world, and the use of poetry in the Torah as a way that the Jewish people have dealt with persecution for generations. Rabbi James talks about the need to develop relationships across borders and shares practical advice on how to deal with our fears and pain and turn it into love and connection. Listen and inspire change. 
61:49 07/13/2021
Cops at Pride - with your hosts.
Melissa and Pelayo discuss 2021 Pride and the decision of the organization that runs New York’s Pride to ban cops from the parade. Do you feel safer without cops at the pride parade? We wanna hear from our community so let us know your thoughts on this via our Instagram @theforbiddenapplepodcast or email  Sink your teeth into... 
31:22 06/24/2021
“Homosexual” in the bible 1946 with Sharon “Rocky” Roggio
What if the word homosexual was never meant to be in the bible? Sharon Rocky Roggio, producer and director of the documentary film 1946 joins us to discuss the film that chronicles how the misuse of a single word changed the course of modern history. Rocky also shares her personal struggle and her complex relationship with her dad, a conservative pastor, and her hope that this film heals and prevents further pain for LGBTQ folks. 1946 the movie: 
28:34 06/03/2021
Taking Drag to Church: with Penny Cost
Penny Cost, a drag queen in the process of getting ordained by the Methodist Church, shares how her ordination has caused “chaos” in the church. While she has received support from her church she has also received backlash from conservative Methodists. Penny wants to use drag and carnivalesque performance to transform the church into a more accepting and welcoming space for LGBT folks. Check out Ms. Penny Cost journey( Isaac Simmons (he/his) out of drag) on her IG page: Sink your teeth into.... The Forbidden Apple  
42:33 05/11/2021
Affirming LGBTQ youth with Ross Murray
Ross Murray from GLAAD, Yass, Jesus! podcast and the Naming Project is back on the pod! His new book ”Made, Known, Loved” shows congregations how to create a program that affirms LGBTQ youth. How can we transform religious spaces into more welcoming environments and guide future leaders? Listen to find out! Order this important book. Find it anywhere you buy your books and on  Check out 
34:39 04/27/2021
Comedy for social change with Carolyn Bergier
Today are joined by our favorite comedian Carolyn Bergier host of the podcast "Dyking Out". We discuss all things comedy: The limits, the pitfalls, and how smart comedy can be used for social change. Carolyn breaks down how to broach difficult topics with humor. Listen for a good time and expert advice. 
39:24 04/11/2021
On the Catholic Church statement on Same-Sex Unions (BONUS)
Pelayo brings you a rant on the Catholic Church statement on same-sex unions and their impossibility to bless them.  An answer to their "unjust discriminations" and being "unable to bless sin". This statement comes shortly after Pope Francis mentioning homosexuals are children of God and have a right to a family, If you have enjoyed this feel free to check out Pelayo's channel 
03:33 04/04/2021
Time for a religious reformation with Rev Liz Edman
Your hosts are joined by Rev. Liz Edman, queer priest, and author of “Queer Virtue”, to discuss the latest statement from the Vatican on Same-sex Unions. We talk about the let down many of us feel about this statement and the need to unite to continue the fight. Liz explains the cycle of reformation of religious institutions every 500 years and shares her personal experience on creating change within orthodox institutions. We close off with advice on how as queer people we can move forward in challenging the status quo. Spotlight of the day: Minoritea report podcast. Subscribe to our Patreon: Reclaim your spirituality:
33:35 03/28/2021
Your spiritual toolbox - Appreciation vs Appropriation with your hosts
Continuing with our "nuanced series" we discuss how to build your own spiritual toolbox.' Your hosts Pelayo and Melissa unpack the difference between appropriation vs appreciation. The question of the hour is " how do we learn from others and apply it in a respectful way to our lives? We look forward to hearing your thoughts! Remember to leave us a 5 stars review and send us your questions to our Instagram @theforbiddenapplepodcast
20:05 03/14/2021
“The Nuanced series": Ex-gays. With your hosts.
Melissa and Pelayo talk about the phenomenon of the “ex-gay’ and the effects it has on LGBTQ+ community. Can we live our truth without judging others or does our truth affect our humanity as a whole? How do we have nuanced conversations around things we are ideologically opposed to? We discuss this and more in this episode. More questions than answers but we’re doing it - having these tough conversations. As @glennondoyle says “ we can do hard things” Please join these conversations We wanna hear from you so send us your opinions and thoughts to info@theforbiddenapplepodcast or to our IG @theforbiddenapplepodcast
30:20 03/01/2021
Introducing the Forbidden Apple around the world: Africa. (with your hosts)
Join Pelayo and Melissa as they share the details of their new series "the Forbidden Apple Around the world: Africa". We will hear from people who have survived gender-based violence and corrective rape, live with HIV in Africa, and those who risked their lives to work towards legalizing homosexuality in their countries. They share these stories to bring light to these issues, teach us about the impact of colonialism and get support for their local organizations to change the narrative of LGBT people in Africa where in many places homosexuality is still criminalized. Coming out in February 2021. For more updates and early access check out: 
07:08 02/01/2021
The best of 2020 and looking into 2021: with your hosts
Pelayo and Melissa close a year full of meaningful queer stories and share the Forbidden Apple’s plans for the New Year. In the meantime check out our previous seasons: LGBTQ finding meaning in art. LGBTQ Voices in recovery. Can you be religious and queer? LBGTQ Clergy and interfaith leaders. Leaders and advocates for the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ leaving ultra-orthodox communities. The old-age/ new-age movement. Conversations with your hosts! Thanks for the support during this year, enjoy your holidays and we cannot wait to see you in 2021.
10:11 12/07/2020
You are not your thoughts: Chris DiMeglio
Chris DiMeglio is a meditation teacher and professional musician. He opens up about the interconnections between coming out and starting his meditation practice. Chris shares how the work of Byron Katie and Shinzen Young help him when he’s in a stressful mindset and remind him to just observe and not identify with his thoughts. Meditate with Chris: Sink your teeth into...
34:21 11/26/2020