Shows like Food 4 Thot, Nancy, and How To Be a Girl are challenging the mainstream
Once dominated by bros shouting over one another about sports, or straight, white comics making jokes about ‘the missus’, podcasting has since blossomed into a safe space for queer people to spotlight fascinating stories from the LGBTQ community. With humour, artistry and empathy, queer podcasters are championing the people and the movements that have shaped our shared history.
These six shows work to strengthen a sense of community between people of different sexualities and gender identities, while celebrating the idiosyncrasies of our culture, and rallying us to act when that culture is threatened by discrimination or prejudice.
The Heart is just as visceral and full of life as the organ it’s named after. Host Kaitlin Prest has brought together a feminist community of creators who use documentary, memoir and personal essays to examine gender, sexuality, desire, consent and all the innards in between. Start with “The Real Tom Banks” (borrowed from the ABC’s exceptional, now discontinued Radiotonic show) before digging through “Pansy”, a collection of irreverent and touching stories about the spaces where masculinity and femininity meet.
HOW TO BE A GIRL
At a time when the very existence of trans identity is under threat in the US, this remarkable series is necessary listening. How To Be A Girl follows Marlo Mack (not her real name) and her transgender daughter as they navigate what it means to be a girl. Rarely will you hear a story told with such raw and compelling honesty. What also makes this story special, is that it feels such a natural fit for audio – it lets Marlo tell her and her daughter’s story with a modicum of privacy.
FOOD 4 THOT
This thoughtfully thirsty show brings together a multiracial mix of queer writers to discuss sex, relationships, identity, what they like to read, and who they like to read. It’s a rosé-fuelled cocktail of pop culture, sex-positive sluttery and nuanced intellectualising, whose hosts are as at home discussing politics and the “Butt Plug-In-Chief” as they are peen sizes and nail polish.
A particular favourite is “You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Problematic”, in which the queer quartet tease apart what distinguishes Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, Ryan Murphy’s Pose, and Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life from Scarlett Johansson’s short-lived decision to play a trans man in Rub & Tug. It’s an entertaining and enlightening examination of questions like: who owns our stories? How do we begin to tell stories across difference? When done so successfully, what defines that success?
Produced by radio juggernaut WNYC (makers of Radiolab, Snap Judgement and Death, Sex & Money, among others) Nancy is a podcast about how we define ourselves, and the journey it takes to get there. Featuring occassional interviews with well-known names, including Samira Wiley and Lena Waithe, the podcast really shines when it’s providing a space for ordinary people to tell personal stories about how they’re navigating the complexities of sexuality and identity. Start with “Return To Ring Of Keys” or “Kathy's Mom Is Uncomfortable With All This”, then, if you fancy something a bit more historical, check out “Oliver Sipple”.
MAKING GAY HISTORY
Over the years, queer history – like that of any minority group – is often lost. The struggles and achievements of gay, bi, trans and non-binary people are forgotten, as our stories are written out of broader hetero-centric narratives. With few museums or libraries of our own, we are in danger of losing touch with the advocates, activists and icons that have come before us.
One podcast working to change that is Making Gay History. Hosted by Eric Marcus, New York Times best-selling author of the book by the same name, Making Gay History presents intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten heroes from LGBTQ history. Start with episode four, “Dr. Evelyn Hooker”, about the psychologist who helped pave the way for homosexuality to be removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental illnesses.
If you were moved by Desiree Akhavan’s exceptional The Miseducation Of Cameron Post, and are intrigued by Joel Edgerton’s forthcoming Boy Erased, be sure to download UnErased. Co-created by Boy Erased’s David Joseph Craig, and produced by the two-time Peabody Award winning team behind Radiolab (check out “Debatable” and “Birth Story” for more excellent queer storytelling from the show), UnErased tells some of the stories of the more than 700,000 people in America who have been subjected to conversion therapy. Start with “Garrard And The Story Of Job”, to dig deeper into Garrard’s experience with Love In Action’s institutionalised twelve-step program to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality.