Podcasts Are So Gay.
Happy Butch Wednesday, dear readers! I have a confession: I'm a podcast addict. I know this may sound faux-cerebral in a self-deprecating way, like saying, "I'm addicted to foreign film critiques," or, "I just can't get enough Dostoyevsky." But don't be fooled--it's not NPR I'm pounding.
I am a serialized fiction podcast addict. There's something epic and wonderful about listening to stories in installments, and I particularly enjoy the ones that can convincingly mimic an "in-depth reporting" format. I'm not into stories that involve zombies or get too hard core sci fi or too horrifying with the horror.
For the record, I have found the following brilliant:
My deep dive into all things podcasty has made me aware that this relatively new genre (or we might say "revitalized genre," given radio's history of serialized stories) is much more diverse in its representation of sexual orientation and gender identity (and in some cases, race and disability) than other forms of media. The cool thing is that the LGBTQ characters don't usually feel like tokens, nor is their queerness the focus of the story. It's just part of who they are. You know, like how we live our lives.
For example, Keisha, the protagonist of "Alice Isn't Dead" is a truck driver who is searching for her wife, who supposedly is dead, but whom Keisha doesn't believe she is dead. (Oh shoot--I just realized there are, in, fact, zombies in this one, so I guess I was wrong about the zombie prohibition above. Alice isn't a zombie, though--the Thistle Men are the zombies. Um, who are the Thistle Men? It's a long story--listen for yourself.) My point is: Keisha isn't a Lesbian Truck Driver, she is a truck driver looking for her spouse. Her sexuality is not The Thing. It's just who she is. The story could have been about a wife looking for her husband, or vice versa. But it's not. See what I mean?
Another example is Welcome to Night Vale, which took a long time to grow on me. It's a "community radio show" about a desert town where the paranormal is normal, where a literal five-headed dragon named Hiram McDaniels runs for mayor, and where no dogs or people are allowed in the Dog Park due to the presence of mysterious hooded figures. This is all wacky and awesome, and it's made even more awesome by the fact that the least wacky part of the plot is that several of the characters are queer. This includes the protagonist, Cecil (the show's host), Carlos the Scientist, and Sheriff Sam (who is maybe the only nonbinary character I've seen represented in non-queer-focused media except for Asia Kate Dillon's portrayal of the captivating Taylor Mason on this year's season of "Billions").
The Bright Sessions, which is the "recording" of psychotherapy sessions with paranormally interesting patients, includes a great portrayal of a high school football player named Caleb, who in addition to struggling with his involuntary ability to experience other people's emotions, is also falling in love with a boy in his class, even though he's never thought about himself as gay. The gay thing is a surprise to him, but it wreaks way less havoc on his life than his special abilities do. And in fact, since a number of the characters struggle with whether to "come out" to people in their lives about their special abilities, we might draw a lot of other parallels as well.
You get the idea. I can't be the only podcast addict, am I? Please tell me I'm not. If you aren't listening to podcasts yet, give some a shot. (If you want a personalized recommendation, send me an email and tell me what you usually read and I'll send you my thoughts.) And if you are a podcast dork like yours truly, do you (1) agree with me about the queerness and/or (2) have any recommendations for me?