Breaking Down Shame with the “Unshaming” Podcast


Image source: Jor Gonsalves.

by Nakiesha Koss

posted on 06-29-2020

Growing up, Jor Gonsalves struggled with his identity. Raised in an Indian, Catholic family in Texas, Jor’s conservative background made it difficult for him to accept that he was gay. He spent years in the closet, afraid to tell anyone the truth. Even after coming out to his parents at the age of 21, the shame he had internalized hadn’t left him.

“My parents struggled to accept my sexuality at first, and that was hard for me,” recalls Jor. “The change for me came a few months later when I was on a backpacking trip in India. I came out to one of my cousins, and I’ll never forget what he told me: ‘I’m so happy for you, but I’m not sure India will be.’

“That’s when it really hit me: the shame that I carried my whole life from being gay was never mine. It was projected onto me by my family, my peers, my society, my culture, my religion. Once I realized this, I unburden myself of it and finally felt free.”

Bring underrepresented stories to the forefront

Jor discovered the joy and freedom of “unshaming”—dismantling his shame to bring his true self into the world. To him, one important step to the unshaming process is increasing representation—he believes shame exists because representation doesn’t. When people see themselves and their shame discussed openly by others, it can help them gain a better understanding of who they are and break down the shame they feel inside.

This desire to see greater representation led Jor to start his Unshaming podcast. The first season of Unshaming features stories from people discussing the shame of Colorism, HIV, body image, transgender identity, and other topics typically underrepresented in the media.

“I decided to create Unshaming as a podcast because podcasts have lower barriers to entry,” says Jor. “And by that, I mean low barriers for both listeners and creators. People can listen to podcasts anywhere, at any time. Even my grandmother, who is an 80-year-old and barely understands wi-fi, subscribes to my podcast and loves listening to every episode. It gives me a way to reach a much wider audience than I might with other mediums.”

For creators, the entry barriers are equally low. A single microphone was all Jor needed to start interviewing people and recording their stories.

“I’m the host of Unshaming, but I’m also a listener,” explains Jor. “Deciding who to interview is actually pretty easy. There are so many different stories from underrepresented communities that I want to hear. Once I have an idea, I start reaching out on Instagram or just asking around my network of friends and colleagues. It’s really such a dream for me to share these stories and help raise the consciousness of both the people around me and those I don’t know too.”

Crafting beautiful podcast sound with Adobe Audition

Jor prefers to conduct his interviews in person so that he can develop a strong connection with the speaker. After capturing around an hour of content, he’s ready to start editing the half-hour podcast.

“My goal for each episode is to edit in a way that will create a strong narrative,” says Jor. “I want to make sure that their message comes across clearly to every podcast listener.”

When Jor isn’t creating podcasts, he works as a Customer Success Manager for Adobe. So, when he needed a good audio editing solution for his podcast, he looked no further than Adobe Audition.

“I’m not a sound engineer by any stretch of the imagination, but I was blown away by how easy Adobe Audition is to use,” says Jor. “I can pretend like I’m getting my podcast edited by a professional studio in one piece of software because all of the artificial intelligence involved.”

One of Jor’s favorite features is the spectral frequency display, which allows him to break down audio and examine each sound down to the waveform. This allows him to quickly spot unwanted frequencies or noises that can distract from the speaker’s story. More importantly, once he has identified an unwanted noise, he can automatically delete the noise from the entire audio file with a single click.

The aptly named “Podcast Voice” filter is another favorite of Jor’s for its ability to quickly add consistent optimization to the entire audio recording.

“I’m a perfectionist, so I spend hours editing every episode to make sure everything is flawless,” says Jor. “The mix of simplicity and power in Adobe Audition amazes me. You can’t find another tool like it.”

Growing the unshaming movement

Jor is already looking forward to future seasons of Unshaming. While the first season has seven episodes, each around a different topic, he hopes next season with have more episodes and multi-part episodes that dive deeper into specific topics. “No two people have the same experience, so it might be interesting to have a series of episodes where people talk about how issues such as race, gender, or class have led to shame at different times in their lives,” says Jor.

The Unshaming podcast continues to grow organically through strong word-of-mouth support. “In doing this podcast, I have learned that no matter who you are, everyone struggles with something,” says Jor. “Unshaming is my way of exploring humanity. I hope it encourages people to let go of their underserving shame and feel more connected to their inner potential.”

_#StayUnshaming by following the podcast on Instagram @unshaming and visiting the Unshaming website to find links to podcast episodes and view the photoshoots with each interviewee. Try Audition for free today.

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Topics: Video & Audio, Media & Entertainment, Diversity & Inclusion

Products: Audition