Lindork’s Lists: Q&A #12: Lanie Bishop
Originally published to newsletter subscribers on Sept 5, 2021
The twelfth person I’m profiling in my new paid newsletter subscriber Q&A series is:
Lanie Bishop, a power lifter, pole dancer, and human rights advocate
Getting to know Lanie Bishop:
Lanie is a 29-year-old power lifter, pole dancer, and mental health advocate who is also finishing off a Master’s in Health Studies at Athabasca University.
I’ve been following Lanie for a long time and remember seeing photos of her power lifting and thinking, whoa, that’s cool. I’ve never been physically strong (or really *that* active lol) so to see those powerful photos of her lifting weights caught my eye and interest. Then I saw her photos pole dancing and thought, wait, is this the same person? lol. I stereotypically had made assumptions that someone who was into power lifting wouldn’t be the same kind of person who pole dances, but even that had me questioning who I thought ‘pole dances.’ And thanks to Lanie I learned my assumptions were wrong anyway (more on that in the Q&A below). But I loved what Lanie shared about why she pole dances:
“It helped me recognize that there wasn’t anything inherently wrong with feeling yourself and feeling sexy.”
We can all ‘feel ourselves’ a bit more, and not feel ashamed of that, nor should we judge others who love themselves and aren’t afraid to show it. I love that message.
As I started seeing more of Lanie’s posts in both spaces, along with her advocacy around anti-racism and social justice, I knew I wanted to learn more about Lanie and share that with others. So I am in this Q&A!
Let’s Dive Into the Q&A with Lanie:
Can you tell me about the work you do professionally? What does your day to day look like?
- I do the research to make sure that benefits in an insurance plan are reasonable, do not overlap with provincial coverage, and make sure that potential new benefits are sustainable and beneficial. I also help provide companies the data about their benefits and assist in finding ways to maximize their offerings.
- Typically, my days vary between doing data analysis (looking for outliers, finding patterns, etc) and health research. I used to work as a lab tech and after that I was a physio clinic manager, so I can read through a lot of literature and pick up the important information quickly and relay it to my team.
Can you tell me about your hobbies, passions, interests, outside of work? We’ll dive into this below but maybe a summary here would be great.
Most people online know me as a powerlifter who pole dances. I spend a lot of time training in both, and I also do a lot of volunteering in powerlifting, particularly refereeing and spotting/loading. I also helped open the Central Edmonton Aerial Performing Arts Club (CEAPAC), a new inclusive pole dance studio, recently.
I’m a huge lover of cooking. My Mom is Filipino, so every celebration we would have loads of Filipino, Canadian, and Chinese dishes. I strive to have her same passion and love for the kitchen!
When I get time between school, training, and cooking, you’ll probably find me out on walks, gaming, creating music, supporting Inclusive Boudoir in Kamloops, or making art! I have trouble staying still.
What do you love most about the things you do?
- I think what I really love most is that in everything I do, I get to be me. I don’t have to pretend that I’m someone I’m not, and I get to use all my skills and education and experience constantly. It’s extremely life affirming and validating!
On your bio you say “decriminalize sexwork” and you’ve talked about this in your social posts before—can you share why this is important for you and why sex work should be decriminalized?
When I started pole dancing, I wasn’t really the most informed on the background of pole, or where strippers and sex workers were involved. As I dove in deeper and learned from my favourite dancers, I realized that pole dance came from strippers and sex workers, and to continue participating meant to recognize, celebrate, and uplift them and their voices.
Sex workers still face continuous societal stigma that pushes them into unsafe situations to do consensual, voluntary work that benefits both parties—it is telling consenting adults what they can and can’t do in the bedroom. When we add criminalization into the mix, we are exposing sex workers to abuse and exploitation and violence that undermines their ability to seek justice when harm is done against them. It even prevents them from seeking healthcare, or receiving quality, unbiased healthcare.
Many argue for legalization, but again that puts sex workers in a tough place as it still dictates how, where, and when sex work can occur, thus again leading back into criminalization. The process of legalization would also likely exclude sex workers from the decision-making process. Decriminalization removes laws and policing, allowing sex workers to work without fear of policing. It really gives sex workers back their autonomy and dignity, while further working on removing stigma in our communities.
If anyone is interested in learning more, I highly suggest looking into sex worker led organizations, like local organization ANSWERS (Advocacy Normalizing Sex Work Through Education and Resources Society).
You also share a lot about anti-racism and other social issues, can you tell me why it’s important for you to speak out about this? Something I’ve said to others before is that it doesn’t matter if you have 5, 500, or 5,000+ followers, your voice and perspective is important and you can influence others. Would you agree with that?
I think if you are on social media, you have a platform. It might not be the biggest one, but people are listening to what you post. As a queer woman of colour, it’s become incredibly (and sadly) clear to me that they are still some people who hold hateful and dangerous ideas about marginalized and racialized folks. I hope by sharing my own experiences mixed in with the posts I find on what platforms I have, I can start getting others to challenge their own understanding of the world around them.
I have a lot of friends and family from Grande Prairie, and they might remember when I wasn’t outspoken on social or racial issues because I was honestly trying to not get targeted. That environment where racism and other awful rhetoric was normal really made me shift into someone I didn’t want to be.
Moving to Edmonton, I really had to learn (and unlearn) a lot, especially about myself, my heritage, the land I was living on, and the impacts of colonialism. I really wanted to share this wealth of information and hoped that maybe they would learn too.
How did you get into powerlifting and why do you do that / enjoy that? What’s something people may not realize about powerlifting?
- I always knew that physically, I was strong. I had always excelled at strength sports as a kid but never really put two and two together that I should try and be serious about it. Back in 2013 I was an avid runner, but I found little joy in it—I never experienced some of the highs other do! At the end of that summer, an acquaintance introduced me to powerlifting, and I was hooked!
- There are so many reasons I love lifting: the community, the benefits to my mental and physical long term health, the competitions… but I really think it’s about pushing myself out of my comfort zones. Lifting heavy is really uncomfortable—the bar digs into your hands and back, you bruise, you feel defeated some training nights. But you keep doing it because you know it’s worth it, and I feel like that transfers over into the rest of my life. You’re going to feel uncomfortable, but the end result is always worth it. There’s a huge rush that comes from going into competition and squatting a personal record best, and I can’t get enough of it.
- Most people don’t realize that although powerlifting is a sport about lifting heavy weights, it also has a lot of strategy at higher level competitions. I got to volunteer at the 2018 International Powerlifting Federation Worlds competition in Calgary, and it was really eye opening to how much thought goes into what a lifter lifts next. It’s not just brute strength!
And finally, same question but for pole dancing—how did you get into it and why do you do that / enjoy that? What’s something people may not realize about pole dancing?
I’ve always wanted to try something aerial—trapeze, hoop, maybe silks, but I got pulled into pole for the aerial and sensuality aspects. I struggled with my own self worth and expressing sensuality after several traumatic events and wanted something that was completely separate from lifting. I had done some burlesque before and enjoyed it, so pole seemed doable. My Mom gave me a bit of a nudge to do it, so I got gifted classes for my birthday.
Now that I’ve been dancing for seven years, I’m honestly overjoyed at finding out what my body is capable of. I love strength and power moves like flips, but I also find joy in wearing tall, tall heels and dancing with grace and flexibility. It also can be a way to break down the stigma we can hold as individuals around sexuality and sensuality.
For me, it helped me recognize that there wasn’t anything inherently wrong with feeling yourself and feeling sexy.
I think people assume pole dance is automatically inclusive because of its roots in sex work and strippers, but many would be shocked to know that it can be extremely exclusionary to strippers and other marginalized people. People love the stripper aesthetic with the heels and the outfits, but don’t like acknowledging pole’s roots or taking classes by a strippers—it’s appropriative in that way. I think by educating people before they take pole classes (and committing to anti racist/ableist and inclusive practice), we can really change our views to be appreciative and uplifting.
Wrapping up our Q&A:
What show would you recommend people watch on Netflix (or other streaming services) and why?
I’m honestly so bad at watching Netflix—I have a huge list of shows and movies I want to watch, but at the end of the day I just want to hear YouTubers talk about their area of interests!
My husband has me currently hooked on Linus Tech Tips, and I’m enjoying learning about the computer part industry and learning why my graphics card is worth a ridiculous amount of money.
Is there a book or podcast you recently read (or doesn’t have to be recent) that you would recommend to others and why?
While I don’t always agree with all of his advice, I’m an avid listener to the Savage Lovecast by Dan Savage. It’s a relationship and sex advice podcast, and I really enjoy learning from all the guests he features.
My future career aspiration is to be an inclusive sex educator, so I’m always taking notes about the topics he talks about so I can go and learn more later. We just really don’t talk about sex and enjoyment enough, and I’m glad podcasts like this are growing more and more.
What is one of your favourite restaurants or stores you’d recommend in Edmonton?
- My favourite restaurant right now is a cute little café called Green Ash Café in Bonnie Doon. They opened up recently and I have no regrets wandering over on my lunch breaks for delicious drinks, incredible sandwiches, and having a chat with the wonderful team.
- I highly recommend the short rib sandwich, the strawberry latte, and the macaroons. It really reminds me of living downtown without having the stress of living downtown, haha!
What’s something about Alberta you love or recommend others check out?
This one’s more difficult to get to, but I promise it’s worth the trek. About 2-2.5 hours southwest of Grande Prairie is Kakwa Falls, Alberta’s tallest waterfall. The trail requires an off road vehicle or a jeep, but the views are incredible. When I was little, my family used to camp in Deadhorse Meadows and drive over to Kakwa to take in the beauty of the falls, and I still get shivers remembering it all.
Thank you Lanie for sharing your story!
You can connect with Lanie online at:
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