Three years ago, then-LSA seniors Sarah Costello and Kayla Kaszyca were interviewed by The Daily about their podcast “Sounds Fake But Okay.” The two friends started the podcast in college after Costello came out as asexual. They realized they had a lot of questions for each other about sexuality, relationships and life in general. Kaszyca later came out as demisexual, placing both along on the a-spec, or asexual spectrum.
Now, their podcast is still going strong and just reached 176 episodes. Needless to say, the pair did not abandon the project after graduating from the University of Michigan in 2019. Currently living on opposite coasts and working full-time jobs, they’ve kept the podcast alive despite life’s hardships. Between the distance, conflicting work schedules and, most recently, a global pandemic, Costello and Kaszyca have been able to grow and expand the reach of their show.
This past year especially, the pandemic has helped them feel like they’re important members of the a-spec community. Last spring, they hosted a COVID-19 relief fundraiser where they invited notable figures of the a-spec community to partake and raise money; since then, the co-hosts have felt like their podcast has been elevated to a new level. With the connections they made through this event, more opportunities began to come their way, and with more time to record with flexible work-from-home schedules, the podcast has seen even greater recent success.
They have been able to bring on well-known guests regarded as central to the a-spec community, such as internet personality Chantel Houston and asexual activist David Jay. Being able to meet and work with these community members has inspired the pair to work harder and cemented their role as influencers within a-spec circles.
“We’re part of making history. The a-spec community is still so young in being known or being an organized community that I hope at least when people look back on this time of the Facebook community growing and gaining recognition and having better representation that we’ll be remembered as part of that,” Kaszyca said in an interview with The Daily.
Costell and Kaszyca hadn’t set out to fulfill a certain cultural niche, but when they first started recording, “Sounds Fake But Okay” was the only podcast of its kind.
“We kind of stumbled into (it), like ‘Oh wait, there’s no one in this space doing what we’re doing.’ And so we kind of became the a-spec podcast, and I guess we still kind of are, which is a little terrifying,” Costello remarked, still seemingly blown away by the reception they’ve received over the years. They’ve recently been featured in a number of articles and podcasts ranging from them to AVEN, also winning the 2020 Discover Pods Award for best LGBTQ+ culture podcast.
Even with their community and influence growing, the response to the podcast has still been overwhelmingly positive. Since Costello never expected anyone beyond her friends and family to listen, handling the feedback has been out of her comfort zone. Nevertheless, it has been worth it to make an impact on the a-spec community.
“It’s for those people that feel seen by our podcast and are helped by our podcast — that’s the reason I’m doing it,” she said.
With the advent of the podcast discord now at just about a thousand members, they’ve been able to reach even more people than ever before. Showcasing the community they’ve been able to foster, Kaszyca mentioned how once they even had someone join their discord who didn’t even listen to the podcast, but was looking for new a-spec friends. They’ve also branched out into advocacy work and social media activism and have recently secured a book deal with Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pursuing topics relating to the a-spec experience and how it can influence everyday life.
“I think there’s so much to be learned from the a-spec perspective, and the a-spec lens on life, that really applies to everyone,” Costello said. “It teaches you to not inherently value romantic relationships more just because they’re romantic: Value them because of the merit of the relationship and prioritize platonic relationships. Because those matter too, (and) these are all things that can apply to everyone.”
Daily Arts Writer Hadley Samarco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.