June is Pride month, a time when a lot of people delve deeper into LGBTQ+ issues and take time to learn more about queer history.
One of the best ways of learning more about the history of queer communities is by listening to podcasts – and from intimate chats between friends, to panels with scholars, to comedy shows, there’s something there to suit everyone.
So settle in for a barrel of laughs and a whole lot of thought-provoking chat along the way, as we select our eight favourites from the bunch.
A Gay and a NonGayâ
Winner of best comedy at the 2018’s British Podcast Awards, hosts James Barr and Dan Hudson talk openly about their respective experiences, from consent to burnout.
In 2020 the show launched a new two-part series examining the search for an HIV cure. Funded by the Wellcome Trust and the British Podcast Awards fund, James and Dan chatted to AIDS activists and Professor John Frater to discuss the science behind HIV and the aim for a cure.
Queery with Cameron Esposito
Each hour-long episode of standup comic Cameron Esposito’s hit show Queery features different stories from actors, writers and comics which often cover topics including identity, personality and sexuality. Recent interviewees on the show have been writer Chris Belcher, who has written about power, gender and sex work, drag queen Trixie Mattel, and Grey’s Anatomy star E.R. Fightmaster. Esposito’s relaxed manner brings out the best in her guests.
The Dorothy Project
‘Friends of Dorothy’ has long been a term to describe gay men, but where did this term originate and what is it about certain women in culture and their links to queer society? In The Dorothy Project, DJ and LGBTQ+ activist Alice Beverton-Palmer explores the history of the term, activism, queer art and more, with funny interviews with both famous names and unsung heroes.
The show ended in March 2022, but there are still 33 fantastic half-hour episodes to get your teeth into. There is even a specific LGBTQ+ history month episode from February last year, where Beverton-Palmer talks to Dr Fern Riddell, a historian of sex.
The Log Books
Launched in 2019, The Log Books offers a unique look at queer history in Britain by exploring the Switchboard’s archives, a helpline which provides information, support and referrals for anyone in search of further advice around sexuality and gender. With the help of a Switchboard trustee, each episode centres on the log book entries made by the volunteers who staffed the phones.
The podcast wound down in February last year after hosts Tash and Adam reached the last page of the Log Books, but there are still three series for new listeners to catch up on. Episodes cover LGBTQ+ issues running from 1974 to 2003, and topics include the 1999 bombing of the Soho gay pub The Admiral Duncan, anti-gay legislation in Britain, and a look back at how HIV/Aids was presented in newspapers.
In this weekly podcast, “two homo comedians” Tom Allen and Suzi Ruffell natter about life, love and culture – and it’s rather like being enveloped in a wonderful hug. The episodes run for around 40 minutes and cover random topics that are usually related to something that’s happened in the duo’s life, which simply makes you feel like you’ve got a seat at a table with some very funny friends.
Out with Suzi Ruffell
Comedian Suzi Ruffell also has a second podcast which is also well worth tuning into. Out with Suzi Ruffell is billed as being “all about the inspiring lives of LGBTQIA+ people”, which in practice means that Ruffell speaks to a range of guests, including journalist Owen Jones, Dame Kelly Holmes, activist Jake Graf, and Sink The Pink and Mighty Hoopla founder Glyn Fussell, about their lives. The conversations are at once intimate, revealing, entertaining and moving, which just shows how good Ruffell is at her job.
Some Families is a podcast dedicated to all matters surrounding LGBTQ+ families, which makes it a standout series. Hosted by lesbian mum and journalist Lotte Jeffs and gay dad and film publicist Stu Oakley, the duo discuss everything from their own experiences as queer parents to parenting-relating stories. Along the way, they bust plenty of parenthood myths.
They also have guests on the show who have spoken about issues such as fostering, IVF, raising disabled children and how to approach the matter of gender in the modern day. The show sadly wrapped up in 2021, but its episodes remain online as a bit of a treasure trove for those looking to hear more about these topics.
Call Me Mother
In Call Me Mother, journalist Shon Faye, who is known for writing about LGBTQ+ issues and mental health, delves into queer experiences and history by exploring the stories of older generations of queer people. Faye talks to a range of inspiring people who have been active in some way in the LGBTQ+ community, and topics range from faith and sexuality to morality and resilience.