We’re back with Part 2 of ‘Full Set’ with Sam Jay and Elisabeth Ovesen.’ The comedian and bestselling author (formerly known as Karrine Steffans, author of Confessions of a Video Vixen) sit down for a fresh set while they delve deeper into sexuality, fluidity, and celibacy.
Jay, the comedic star in Netflix’s You People, shares what it was like to come out in her early twenties. “I thought I liked boys… I really didn’t think about being a lesbian as even an option for me, and then I was dating dudes and it just wasn’t clicking,” she says. “It was that slow build to an understanding.” When it finally clicked, she fully committed to her new identity. “I gave away all my girl clothes to my cousins. I knew fully this was what I’ve always been on,” she says.
Ovesen says that being celibate for over two and a half years gave her “absolute clarity, absolute peace.” After coming out of a long-term relationship, she wasn’t pressed about her need for intimacy. “I needed to heal more than I needed sex,” she says. “Self-love was a huge thing that I got out of it—realizing that even though we all think and say that we love ourselves, we usually don’t. And there’s no way to gauge that until you eliminate everybody and everything.”
Jay started out doing comedy in Boston, her hometown. As a gay Black woman, they didn’t make it easy for her. “I’m doing comedy in Boston; there’s definitely a white-boy network and they definitely weren’t too pleased about me and my style of comedy. I got criticized a lot,” she says. “I just really kind of fought for my identity by consistently showing up as myself.” Jay has since had a prolific career as a TV writer, actor, and comic.
“What would you say to your younger self?” Jay asks.
Ovesen wouldn’t change a thing. “I would tell 24-year-old Elisabeth to not be so hard on herself for not doing everything ‘right’ at the exact ‘right moment.’ Because the only way is through. The obstacle is the journey,” she says. “Being able to look back—I didn’t know what I was doing, it was all very confusing, it was all very painful—it was all things bad and all things great. It was life. I wouldn’t change any of it.”
Jay would tell her younger self to trust the process. “My mom died when I was 16, and I was kind of just floating in the world with no direction and feeling like there was no one left to catch me, feeling like I was plummeting,” she says. “I would tell that person that everything she needs to get through is inside her already. And to just believe and trust yourself.”
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