After eating my fill of audio drama podcasts while putting together my Nine Worlds rec list this summer, autumn and winter found me in more of a non-fiction mood. I picked up a handful of new (to me) queer history podcasts in the last few months (podcast backlogs having the unfortunate habit of running out, forcing the listener to find more or wait), so I thought I’d write up a list of my current favourites. You know, in case you need some help researching the queer fanfiction you’re gonna write me after last week’s post, because you love me. 😘
Morgan M Page’s podcast about figures from western trans history. This is the first of the podcasts on this list I started listening to, and it has a lot of the qualitites that I really enjoy in history podcasts in general: it’s well researched and uses a lot of first-hand sources and recordings of the time, and Morgan reports her findings in a casual, gossipy style, not hiding her own opinions about the subjects behind an academic passive voice. It has a relatively slow update schedule, sadly, but the episodes are well produced and a pleasure to listen to, so check out the archive for sure.
Do you ever have to just lie down on the floor overcome with emotion because you love oral history so much, because I do. Eric Marcus’s archive of his interviews with gay elders from previous generations is amazing and so comforting and affirming to listen to. Hearing older queer people talk about their lives always gives me a sense of having a past (even as a non-American–which is a whole other thing to talk about and not this podcast’s fault) as well as the possibility of having a future. I also enjoy Eric’s calm manner, and the tone of the interviews. He mainly lets the people speak for themselves, and acknowledges when he gives prompts, as well as giving just enough description of their manner and space to set the scene.
These two are linked in my head, because I discovered one and then immediately the other through the crossover episode the two did early on. They also cover similar subject matter in a similar way. Like One from the Vaults, they tend toward a conversational tone, which delivers good, well-sourced information without attempting to hide the biases of the presenters. I especially like that both shows occasionally talk about particular time periods or broader topics (or even single objects) instead of always focusing on single individuals. The podcasts organise their episodes slightly differently: History is Gay has clearly delineated segments, whereas Queer as Fact goes through their topics in a more continuous flow. The latter also has a larger rotating cast of presenters. I really enjoy both of these, they have just the right chatty quality for having on in the background while doing some task that doesn’t require your full concentration.
Full disclosure, I’m only three episodes into the 10 episode first season of Mattachine, but I’m enjoying it a lot so far. Unlike the other ones on my list this one doesn’t cover a different topic every episode, but is a long-form history of the Mattachine Society. It takes more energy to listen to, for me, but I really enjoy these kind of in-depth reports, and it’s really exciting to find one about gay history. I hope to find more like it!
It seems like there’s more and more queer history podcasts out there–there’s still a couple more in my queue that I haven’t gotten around to trying out yet. If u have any recs that aren’t on this list pls let me know! I’d especially love to hear ones with more diverse casts; Queer as Fact is exciting just because the hosts are based in Australia instead of North America, but there’s a lot of other voices I’d like to hear, too.