If you’ve ever paid attention to Podcasting Twitter, you know that LGBTQIA+ podcast creators are everywhere, and incredibly productive. LGBTQIA+ people contribute positively to world culture in civil rights, the arts, science, music, and government in helpful ways. What is it about podcasting, as opposed to other media, that attracts LGBTQIA+ people? What does podcasting do for LGBTQIA+ creators that other kinds of media don’t?
For LGBTQIA+ creators, podcasting has unique benefits over other media. Most podcast creators prize creative expression, a lack of gatekeepers, and minimal gear. LGBTQIA+ people benefit from podcasting because of the variety of communication tools, relative safety, and trust and affinity over distances.
More Tools for Self-Expression
Podcasting doesn’t just allow for self-expression in audio, it promotes self-expression via niche and unique value proposition. The podcast’s website, color scheme, visual art, and overall tone of social media posts can make an identity that’s superhuman. Your interests and preferred company are more honest expressions of yourself than who you are in your daily life. To the outside world, most of us are a body with relationships, some preferences, and a job. In your podcast, you can be an expert, an investigator, or simply someone who’s interested in sharing something. For example:
- a pie baker who shares seasonal recipes for Catholics (Recipes! Techniques! Traditions!)
- a golfer who rates different courses around the world for environmentalists (Maps! Photos! Soil pH balance levels!)
- a rose cultivation fanatic who shares gardening tips for kids and families that love folktales (Illustrations! Stories! Sun & Moon Calendars!)
- and so much more.
Podcasting values creation over consumption. Podcasters can reach people who are most interested in what they have to share. A podcaster’s voice, interests, values, and skills are front and center, bringing valuable information and empathy to the audience. It doesn’t matter if you are LGBTQIA+ or not. But, if you’ve ever had to hide who you are, it matters more.
Safety Balanced with Audience Engagement
Engaging audiences safely is another benefit for LGBTQIA+ podcast producers. According to The Human Rights Watch’s report on LGBT laws:
- 68 countries still have “national laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults.”
- Nine countries have national laws “criminalizing forms of gender expression that target transgender and gender-nonconforming people.”
In much of the US, if you don’t behave or seem heterosexual, the community pressures you to become invisible.
Podcasters can create and publish their podcasts from safe places, in a way that keeps them and their audiences safe.
Creative folks in the past haven’t been as fortunate. Award-winning playwright Charles Busch wrote and produced his early 1980s plays for small galleries and cabaret spaces. This was the only way he could meet his audience safely on a reasonable budget. In 1978, Phranc leapt boots first into LA’s punk scene, historically a fertile world for butch lesbians and trans artists. Podcasting wasn’t available to them, so they adapted and improved.
Podcasting lets queer creators speak their minds and connect with their audiences in a safe space. Though social media may seem like a minefield, it’s completely different from the clubs and streets of the past. Podcasting lets people declare their values, preferences, and affinities with dignity and comparatively less risk of harm.
Breadth and Depth of Podcasting’s Reach
Any podcaster knows that their audience has less to do with geography, and more to do with interests. Audiences might download your podcast anywhere from Ann Arbor to Antarctica, wherever the topic matters. Commitment to your podcast’s niche and ideal listener make the difference when it comes to growing your audience. They’ll tell their friends and other people with similar interests. LGBTQIA+ podcasters know that it doesn’t matter how far your show’s reach is, but how loyal and consistent it is.
Case Study: Hello from the Hallowoods
I asked William A. Wellman, creator of Hello From The Hallowoods, to share why and how podcasting works for them. Wellman’s worked in various kinds of media; why podcasting? They said,
“In short, podcasting gave me a voice. On a technical level, the audio medium enables me to create content faster than if I was sketching for a graphic novel, and engage my audience more than if I was publishing to a blog somewhere. But more than that, podcasting has no barrier to entry. Queer creators can tell stories that fully represent their authenticity and diversity of perspective, and share these directly to an audience that needs to hear them in a world often lacking in representation. Podcasting has allowed me to share my own story, but also to realize that I’m not alone in my experiences, and that speaking them aloud can bring comfort to others.”
Podcasting Helps LGBTQIA+ Audiences and Creators.
I’m so old, I can remember having to drive an hour across New Jersey to get a copy of The Advocate. A restaurant where two women could have a romantic date night was an hour and a half away. To socialize with other people who weren’t heterosexual, I’d have to drive two.
Twenty-five years later, New Jersey celebrates LGBTQIA+ Pride Month with events across the state. The Internet helps people get information safely. Big corporations have moved from ignorance to what some call rainbow capitalism. Anyone who wants community can type their interests into the search box of their favorite podcast listening app. For people who live with reliable Internet access and fair judicial systems, a safe space for self-expression may seem passé. But, much of the world needs LGBTQIA+ podcasts, to focus on people’s needs and normalize cooperative values.