Curiosity Club
Dapper Curiosity Club member Mellina White Cusack poses with her wife Sarah in the background.
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Dapper Curiosity Club member Mellina White Cusack poses with her wife Sarah in the background.
Credit: Hannah Ludlow

How a dapper Florida-transplant found her place at Queeriosity Club's table

On June 6, libertarian blogger Mellina White Cusack and eight other community members joined KUOW journalists and producers for Queeriosity Club, KUOW's first Pride-themed Curiosity Club dinner party at The Cloud Room on Capitol Hill.

Below she reflects on the evening, woke culture, personal style, and listening to the stories of everyone at the table — including straight white guys.

So many people knew me

I’d like to think that I am a part of a lot of tribes: My libertarian tribe, stoic tribe, jazzoid tribe, wine tribe. In fact, I’ve made a concerted effort to avoid placing myself in tribes that typically play into identity politics.

I prefer to align my identity with my interests and way of life rather than the demographics that were assigned to me. What I learned through the Queeriosity Club, however, is that no matter how strongly I identify with liberatarian-stoic-wine-drinking-jazz fans, I will always be in the LGBTQ tribe.

I so closely identified with the experiences with others around the table: coming out, the impact our LGBTQ teachers made on us, how our identity impacted our relationship with our families.

It was as if so many people there knew me.

Lewis Maday-Travis says coming out as trans has made him a better science teacher. KUOW's story on Maday-Travis fueled conversation about LGBTQ visibility in schools at KUOW's first Queeriosity Club dinner on June 7, 2019 at The Cloud Room in Seattle. Reporter Ann Dornfeld who reported Maday-Travis' story participated in the dinner.
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Lewis Maday-Travis says coming out as trans has made him a better science teacher. KUOW's story on Maday-Travis fueled conversation about LGBTQ visibility in schools at KUOW's first Queeriosity Club dinner on June 7, 2019 at The Cloud Room in Seattle. Reporter Ann Dornfeld who reported Maday-Travis' story participated in the dinner.
Credit: KUOW PHOTO/Ann Dornfeld

Sharing our style evolution

The conversation about personal style resonated the most as others echoed the evolution of choosing one’s style.

When I was in high school, the biggest style choice a teenager could make was, “Are you going to be grunge, preppy or gangster?” But as a queer person I had to explore my style so much more deeply.

How much masculinity did I want to present to the world? How many stares and comments was I willing to endure in order to be comfortable in my own skin?

These are questions that so many of the people at this supper club asked themselves at some point in their lives. In stark contrast, one member of the club — a self-described straight, mostly-gender-conforming, white guy — shared how he didn’t give much thought to the clothes he wore until later in life.

The reason for this was understandable; he was raised in an extra-large family on a school teacher’s budget. There were only hand-me-downs to go around. I couldn’t help but think that if he was contending with his gender identity, he would have been more intentional in his rummaging through those second-hand clothes.

Read more: "A straight white guy walks into a queer dinner party..."

Mellina White Cusack (left) listens while in-conversation with fellow Queeriosity Club member Keri Zierler at The Cloud Room in Seattle. June 6, 2019
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Mellina White Cusack (left) listens while in-conversation with fellow Queeriosity Club member Keri Zierler at The Cloud Room in Seattle. June 6, 2019
Credit: Kristin Leong

Seattle’s view of the South is not so woke

Another consistent thread through the evening was our defense of the South, as many Queeriosity Club members also had roots there. As for me, I am South adjacent, hailing from Miami. Being so close to the South means I, too, have a love-hate relationship with the area.

Hearing other folks defend the irresistible charm and hospitality of this region while noting that there’s still work to do gave me hope in how we can bridge the ever-growing urban/rural divide.

It gave me confidence that there were other queers in the city reminding Seattle natives that they may not be as woke as they think they are just because they’re not “The South.”

A seat for everyone

My greatest takeaway from being a part of Curiosity Club's first cohort and now also Queeriosity Club, is that we all have a story that needs to be heard.

During the Jodie Patterson event, there were a few jokes about cis straight white guys that garnered laughs. While I understand those jokes were all in good fun, I think it’s important that as we widen the door of inclusivity, we do not simultaneously shut others out.

Case in point: our cisgender, straight, white male Queeriosity Club cohort member. While he admittedly could not relate to a lot of the stories shared around the dinner table, he expressed his desire to listen and try to understand. I so appreciate his willingness to hear our stories.

As I heard him talk about his life growing up in a big family, I wanted to hear more. I can’t relate, but I can learn.

Queeriosity Club 2019. From left to right, standing: Dacia Clay, Mellina White Cusack, Jeffrey Howard, KUOW reporter Ann Dornfeld, Jennifer Hegeman, Timothy Bardlavens, KUOW producer Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong, Christine Cox, Ginger Chien, Amanda Carter Gomes, KUOW producer Jeannie Yandel. Seated: KUOW producer Kristin Leong, Keri Zierler. The Cloud Room in Seattle. June 7, 2019.
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Queeriosity Club 2019. From left to right, standing: Dacia Clay, Mellina White Cusack, Jeffrey Howard, KUOW reporter Ann Dornfeld, Jennifer Hegeman, Timothy Bardlavens, KUOW producer Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong, Christine Cox, Ginger Chien, Amanda Carter Gomes, KUOW producer Jeannie Yandel. Seated: KUOW producer Kristin Leong, Keri Zierler. The Cloud Room in Seattle. June 7, 2019.
Credit: Zach Nehrenberg

Comparing Queeriosity Club to Curiosity Club.


I was a member of Curiosity Club’s original cohort. In comparison, Queeriosity Club seemed to have a lot more comradeship, at least for me.

No matter what things we might have disagreed about, we still were all anchored in similar experiences. Experiences with our families and schools. Experiences with moving in society. Experiences about how we wanted to present our gender to the world.

I’ll share that thread with my fellow Queeriosity Club dinner guests forever.


Mellina White Cusack is the founder of The Seattle Conservative where she explores questions such as Is Seattle becoming the intolerant northwest? In addition to politics, Mellina also writes about culture and LGBTQ style. She is a contributor to DapperQ, the popular queer style community, and in 2015 they named her a Top 100 Most Stylish DapperQ. In 2018 Mellina served as Campaign Director for Christopher Rufo for City Council. She lives in Seattle.

The Cloud Room on Capitol Hill in Seattle
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The Cloud Room on Capitol Hill in Seattle
Credit: Lucas Holter

Thank you to The Cloud Room, our KUOW Curiosity Club partner. The Cloud Room is a stylish co-working community and bar that’s enriched by the people who occupy it.