I used to listen to podcasts from the floor of my college dorm, just sitting and staring at my computer as a podcast -- usually The Moth -- played. Some faceless person, often states and countries away, was sharing their innermost secrets and it was utterly captivating.
This was sometime around 2009. Having a smartphone, which I did not, was new and interesting, and by no means a necessity of daily life. A computer was the way to listen. This was also before queer and trans creators had so fully entered the podcast space as they have today. You used to have to rewind episodes when you heard someone mention their partner. Were they referring to a business partner or a lover? Was that a sibilant "s"? Did someone say Cherry Grove?
Queer and trans people were featured, but podcasts seemed most comfortable presenting our stories solely in relation to coming out, transitioning, or AIDS.
And that's about it.
Now, we have officially entered The Golden Age of podcasts, many of which are explicitly, overtly, outrageously queer. These 12 are the best of the best and the queerest of the queer.
1. Still Processing
I consider this to be one of the greatest podcasts of all time--the fact that Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris are also queer is just a bonus. Still Processing is about how different cultural artifacts, past and present, affect how we relate to the world around us. Covering topics as varied as Beyonce at Coachella to BBQ in a quickly gentrifying Brooklyn, their chemistry and the intimacy of their discourse will hook you in.
Start here: Listen to Wortham and Morris talk about how Michelle Obama's memoir fits into a lineage of black women who have to navigate new circumstances with "curiosity, strength, and grace."
Or here: We Unpack Black Male Privilege features a discussion on the differences we allow black artists to have in their creative expression based on their gender. They also debate whether Donald Glover is a Power Top, and it's the least reductive conversation about people and their preferred sex positions I've ever heard.
With the social and legal consequences that still come with being out today, with so few public examples of us, only a fraction of our stories are being told. And yet, some of the most important people in LGBTQ+ history are alive today. All of this lead me to create this podcast in 2016.
Our stories are the most powerful tools that we have. LGBTQ&A features weekly interviews with the most interesting and influential members of the LGBTQ+ community. Past guests include Pete Buttigieg, Roxane Gay, Kate Bornstein, Laverne Cox, and Trixie Mattel.
Start here:Roxane Gays talks about soulmates, how she's just entering into her sexual prime at 44, and why the stories of trauma her readers share keep her up at night.
3 Making Gay History
Eric Marcus' interviews provide a roadmap to our community's long history of resistance. Initially recorded for his 1992 book of the same name, Making Gay History documents the oral history of those on the frontlines of the LGBTQ movement from 1945-1990, including Randy Shilts, Evelyn Hooker, Vito Russo, Larry Kramer, and Ann Northrop.
Making Gay History comes back for its fifth season on June 6th with all new episodes focused around Stonewall.
Start here: Talking about growing up as an effeminate child, leaving home at 10, and of course, Stonewall, this is a side of Sylvia Rivera you won't hear anywhere else.
4. One From The Vaults
With the trans history podcast, One From The Vaults, Morgan M. Page has created a vital resource for the LGBTQ community. Page's exquisitely researched interviews show how the history of trans people is threaded throughout the history of the world.
A trans history podcast might sound dull, maybe a little stuffy, but these histories are anything but boring. Take Reed Erickson, an eccentric millionaire who is considered the architect of modern trans healthcare. He also funded research into communication between humans and dolphins, and had a pet leopard named Henry that he would take everywhere, including planes for business trips.
Start here:Click here to listen to the episode about Reed Erickson, "The Trans Howard Huges". And click here to listen to the episode about Storme DeLarverie, a butch, drag king, gender outlaw, who was at Stonewall during the rebellion, and later served as a bouncer at the famed New York City bar, The Cubby Hole.
5. Food 4 Thot
Food 4 Thot is the anecdote to the overstimulation of the modern age.
I have a long, documented hate of roundtable podcasts. The conversations go on too long, they talk over each other, there's always one guy who won't stop talking, but doesn't actually have anything interesting to say. That's not this podcast. Food 4 Thot is the friend that everyone wants to be.
The podcast is hosted by Dennis Norris II (A former figure skater!), Joseph Osmundson (A scientist with a PhD!), Tommy Pico (He won a Whiting Award and American Book Award in 2018!), and Fran Tirado (The Deputy Editor of Out Magazine!).
Start here:This Episode is Bringing Sexy Back. "Get down n' dirty with the Thots as we tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing *butt* the truth about our sex lives! Pet peeves and fantasies, daddies and bois, get nasty as we bare (bear?) it all!"
6. Hoodrat to Headwrap
Ericka Hart and Ebony Donnley lead this "decolonized podcast for lovers on the margins". Ericka and Ebony are partners in love and work. The respect and deep care they share, the fun they have together, is extremely present. And it feels vital since the themes they cover aren't easy ones. Anti-blackness is a recurring one on the podcast, as in life.
It was on Hoodrat to Headwrap that I first learned about the messy racial history of the word "Caucasian". It has its roots in the18th-century studies of racial differences, a (now disproven) means of justifying racial discrimination. It was used by the Founding Fathers to justify slavery and immigration quotas, and was later adopted by the Eugenics movement to further justify racism.
The language we choose to use has meaning and power, and I'm grateful to shows like this that don't shy away from talking about how complicated the world is.
Screw the 50th anniversary of Stonewall: The L Word sequel is coming out this year and you need to be prepared.
Kristin Russo (author of This Is A Book For Parents of Gay Kids and host of the wildly popular podcast, Buffering The Vampire Slayer) and Riese Bernard (CEO and EIC of the essential online home for queer women, Autostraddle) are the perfect pair to take you through every episode of the iconic lesbian series. Bernard is a bonified L Word expert and Russo has only seen the series once, which as Bernard puts it, "in lesbian years, that's like basically never having seen it at all".
Dead For Filth explores one of the horror movie genre's enduring legacies: it's super, super queer.
Michael Varrati, the screenwriter behind work as varied as Flesh For The Inferno and Broadcasting Christmas starring Melissa Joan Hart, is joined each week by icons of TV, film, and stage. Notable guests include Veronica Cartwright, Thomas Dekker, and Peaches Christ.
Start here:Episode 61: Michael Carbonaro, the master magician, talks about the unlikely correlation between Freddy Krueger and David Copperfield.
9. Bad With Money
Money is a complicated thing.
Is Gaby Dunn an expert now that her book, Bad With Money, is in its third reprint and her podcast with the same name is entering into its fourth season? Not quite. But that's what makes her such a perfect host. Dunn and her listeners are figuring it out together. Each episode unapologetically examines the intersection of finances and social justice in interviews with journalists, activists, politicians, and financial planners.
The Read is hosted by two of the funniest queer people alive, Crissle West and Kid Fury.
Officially, the show is about pop culture and the complicated lives of the people who create it. Unofficially, it also serves an on-air therapy session for two friends trying to adjust to growing up, especially with their growing fame.
The creator of the viral hashtag, #DisabledPeopleAreHot, Andrew Gurza is here to remind the world that people with disabilities exist, despite what pop culture would lead you to believe, and they can have just as messy of sex lives as everyone else. Once you tune in, you'll start to pick up on all of the ableism that exists in our daily lives, and how the majority of queer spaces are inaccessible to those with disabilities.
Start here: Listen to Gimp On Grindr II as Gurza uses his trademark charm to walk us through all of the horrible things people have said to him on dating apps.
Nancy is an exploration of what it means to be LGBTQ in a radically changing world. Part of the joy of the podcast is following along as the hosts, Tobin Low and Kathy Tu, grow more comfortable with their queerness.
The two don't shy away from subjects that others might consider taboo: a recent episode featured Kristin Russo (from the podcast, To L And Back) opening up about her miscarriage, a subject rarely talked about in the queer community.
Start here: While Nancy is no longer putting out new episodes, the stories they old are timeless.Click here to listen to the episode with Kristin Russo and click here to listen to an episode with Matthew Shepard's mother, Judy. They discuss how her life has been transformed in the 20 years since Matthew's death and Judy explains how much further we still have to go in protecting LGBTQ people.