LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Destiny Sturdivant

Title

LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Destiny Sturdivant

Subject

Queer Omaha Archives
Sexual minorities -- Nebraska -- Omaha
interviews
oral histories (document genres)

Description

Click here to access the interview, LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Destiny Sturdivant

Ms. Destiny Sturdivant, Omaha comedian and LGBTQ+ advocate, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on September 20, 2018 in Papillion-La Vista, Nebraska. Sturdivant shared information about growing up with cerebral palsy, experiencing bullying as a child, the evolution of her queer identity, her mother's death in 2011, her stand-up comedy career and experiences as part of the Badland Girls, her relationships with her sisters and grandmother, and her partner, Em.

Biographical Sketch

Ms. Destiny Sturdivant, born in Omaha, Nebraska, is a Black queer woman, comedian, LGBTQ+ advocate, and one-half of the OEAA-winning comedy songwriting/podcast duo, the Badland Girls. Sturdivant studied American Literature and Secondary Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 2005-2012, and left in 2012 to focus on other endeavors.

After her mother passed away in 2011, Sturdivant began performing stand-up at OK Party Comedy shows, and became a regular fixture on the Omaha comedy scene. As a queer, disabled woman of color within a scene of mostly straight white men, Sturdivant’s clever, subversive humor challenged the status quo of Omaha comedy.

In 2012, Sturdivant joined together with Rhea Dowhower to form the Badland Girls, one-part “junk culture” podcast, one-part “whimsical, comedic acoustic pop duo,” as described by Hear Nebraska. In their podcast the Badland Girls tackle challenging social issues and deconstruct pop culture, while their musical performances include irreverent, feminist songs inspired by queer icons like John Waters. The duo opened for Lucy Dacus in 2016, and has performed at numerous events, such as BFF Femme Fest, No Means No Fest, Women’s Center for Advancement, on Hear Nebraska FM radio, Alamo Drafthouse, and a PG-rated version of their songs at Shakespeare on the Green and at the Gretna Library. In 2016, the Badland Girls won Best Comedy Ensemble at the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards.

When she isn’t doing stand-up or performing as part of the Badland Girls, Sturdivant works a 9-5 office job, and is a member of Omaha’s Democratic Socialists of America. Sturdivant lives in Papillion-La Vista with her partner, Em.
Interview Summary

Ms. Destiny Sturdivant, Omaha comedian and LGBTQ+ advocate, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on September 20, 2018, in Papillion-La Vista, Nebraska. Sturdivant was born in Omaha in the mid-1980's and is the oldest of three girls. As a child, Sturdivant grew up attending various Catholic schools throughout Ralston and North Omaha. She experienced frequent bullying due to having cerebral palsy and often being one of the only Black students in her school. When she was seven, Sturdivant’s parents divorced and she was then raised by her mother, Amanda.

Sturdivant had crushes on girls as early as second grade, but didn’t realize being gay was an option until she saw a gay person on MTV’s The Real World at age 13. By the time she was in 8th grade, Sturdivant was out as bisexual to most of her school friends. She remained closeted to her family as they had homophobic views. Sturdivant attended Omaha North High School from 2000-2004, and began connecting online with other LGBTQ+ people through websites like Ourchart (now Autostraddle) and Livejournal. In 2005, Sturdivant received the Goodrich Scholarship and began classes at UNO where she studied American Literature before switching to Secondary Education.

In 2011, Sturdivant’s mother died from a rare and rapid form of breast cancer. Needing an outlet to express herself, Sturdivant turned to her lifelong love of comedy as a way to cope with grief. Sturdivant began performing at various local shows along with OK Party Comedy, and became a regular fixture on the Omaha comedy scene. As a queer, disabled woman of color within a scene of mostly straight white men, Sturdivant’s clever, subversive humor challenged the status quo of Omaha comedy. Sturdivant discussed topics like feminism, racism, misogyny, life, death, and the absurdity of being alive. Sturdivant once made a male audience member faint while talking about her menstrual cup, a moment she is proud of.

In 2012, Sturdivant joined together with Rhea Dowhower to form the Badland Girls, one-part “junk culture” podcast, one-part “whimsical, comedic acoustic pop duo,” as described by Hear Nebraska. In their podcast the Badland Girls tackle challenging social issues and deconstruct pop culture, while their musical performances include feminist, irreverently filthy songs inspired by queer icons like John Waters. The duo opened for Lucy Dacus in 2016, and has performed at numerous events, such as BFF Femme Fest, No Means No Fest, Women’s Center for Advancement, on Hear Nebraska FM radio, Alamo Drafthouse, and a PG-rated version of their songs at Shakespeare on the Green and at the Gretna Library. In 2016, the Badland Girls won Best Comedy Ensemble at the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards.

When she isn’t doing stand-up or performing as part of the Badland Girls, Sturdivant works a 9-5 office job, and is a member of Omaha’s Democratic Socialists of America. Sturdivant lives in Papillion-La Vista with her partner, Em.

In this interview, Sturdivant also discusses struggling with inadequate resources and medical care for her cerebral palsy, the wider Omaha comedy scene, her relationships with her grandmother, two sisters and nephews, and her thoughts on the Trump administration.
Interview Notes

Trigger warning for discussions of death. Interview also contains profanity and cursing.
The dynamic of this interview was heavily influenced by the fact that Destiny and Luke are friends. Destiny’s strong sense of humor is present throughout.

Date

2018 September 20

Creator

Luke Wegener

Publisher

University of Nebraska at Omaha Libraries

Relation

LGBTQ+ Oral History Collection finding aid available at https://archives.nebraska.edu/repositories/4/resources/604

Interviewer

Luke Wegener

Interviewee

Destiny Sturdivant

Duration

02:12:06

Files

DestinySturdivantPic_Omeka.jpg

Citation

Luke Wegener, “LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Destiny Sturdivant,” Queer Omaha Archives, accessed November 22, 2018, https://queeromahaarchives.omeka.net/items/show/3285.

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