Rather than creating a list of the most popular handful of podcasts, these are the best LGBTQ podcasts to represent the diversity of expression across cultures, countries, and even history.
On days when we feel the world isn’t changing, that eyes aren’t opening to ways to include all expressions of humanity, we can look at this list and see that freedom of expression is happening all over the world. We can hear how people are sharing exactly who they are, how they’re doing it, and how they feel about the challenges and triumphs of being our true selves, with pride.
The “two blokes” behind GayBCD point out that the best place to begin when learning and teaching a new language is with the ABC’s – or in this case, the GAyBCD.
But they are kind enough to start with concepts all can understand, rather than beginning with new vocabulary, like the word “cisgender”, which can take the unaffiliated off guard. So each episode takes us through the alphabet we know (in English, but not in alphabetical order) and explores a word from the LGBTQ vocabulary.
Hosts: Farhad Karkaria and Sunetro Lahiri are based in Mumbai, India. Their accents and expressions are of cosmopolitan modern men, influenced by Western media (US, UK, Australia), the leftovers of British colonial history, and East Asian culture. Both work in the creative field and are in their early 30s. Farhad is co-host of another podcast for the IVM (Indus Vox Media) Network called Keeping it Queer with comedian, Navin Noronha.
Format: Every episode explores a topic that lets Farhad and Sunetro share their experience of being gay. Within the first few episodes are C for Coming Out, P for Parents, S for School Days, and W for Workplace. Their stories are relatable for LGBTQ people anywhere in the world, but really, many of them are applicable to all humans: A is for Aging, B is for Breakups, F is for Friends.
Why you have to listen: As far as podcasts for LGBTQ people go, listening to people talk about the same experiences from another part of the world can be comforting. It can make listeners feel less alone, especially if they find themselves feeling trapped in their current situation. But this show is also a great way to gently introduce willing allies – family members for example.
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Afroqueer shares stories of LGBTQ people living and loving across Africa, from a journalistic and academic point of view that never ceases to feel personal and conversational. From the oldest Pride celebration on the continent in South Africa, we are invited to celebrate an activist Sierra Leone and then from West to East to hear stories of people in Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia.
Hosts: Selly Thiam and Aida Holly-Nambi are educated and professional women. Selly’s journalistic work has been seen on NPR, PBS, and the New York Times, and though her name is Senegalese, you’ll recognize her from her American accent. She founded the digital media organization cleverly called “None on Record”, which produces the AfroQueer podcast. Aida attended Stanford University and earned a dual Ph.D. in Drama and Humanities, which makes her a double-doctorate-level storyteller. Her accent hints at her Kenyan upbringing and time working in London, though her work in the filmmaking community has taken her all around Europe and Africa, too.
Format: Episodes are produced as journalistic storytelling, with musical segues and explanations between interview segments. You can hear the environment around them as they speak with people in the field, all around the continent, which bring the stories to life. This is why it’s certainly one of the best LGBTQ podcasts to represent Africa.
Why you have to listen: Many of the challenges of being queer in Africa are the same that LGBTQ people face anywhere in the world. They face being ostracized by family, religious intolerance, negative media depictions and censorship of art, and sometimes violence. They use dating apps, participate in Pride events, and protest to bring about change, risking their safety, and sometimes they even win.
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I’m Grand, Mam
Two expressive and energetic young men from Ireland share their adventures living it up in the gay scene in London while being sure to call home and let their mothers know that they’re doing just fine, by saying, “I’m Grand, Mam“.
Hosts: Kevin Twomey and PJ Kirby, are both originally from Cork in Ireland — the second largest city in Ireland, by the way. Their home town is located in the South West of the Emerald Isle, at about the same latitude as London, their home for about 5 years now. But it’s in London where they feel they are “living their best gay lives”, according to an interview in a Cork news site.
Format: Author of The Kindness Method, Shahroo Izadi, visited on the Mental Health episode, and actor Paul Mescal from the TV series Normal People, which is set in Ireland, are the most recent guests, but the majority of episodes are just the lads themselves, and they have plenty to talk about.
Why you have to listen: Their joy and attitude are infectious, especially when in an Irish accent with new word choices – no telling if it’s Irish slang or just their own lingo, but honestly, what does it matter? It’s fun to be addressed as “Girlies”! Their friendship can be felt in the honest and light-hearted conversations, their emotion about real topics from coming out to mental health, and their candid admissions like showing off (and failing) in a park during a sunny break from quarantine.
Listen to I’m Grand, Mam
Media critique from Australia, from the perspective of two queer women of color—many colors are the leaders of The GayV Club. One is a bisexual woman whose DNA includes both Lebanese and Aboriginal contributions, and the other, a non-binary lesbian with roots in Indonesia and Pakistan.
Hosts: Merryana Salem, the GayV Club‘s creator, describes herself as the “Lebanese-Aboriginal bisexual woman” of the duo in the show’s description, however on her own website, her chosen descriptors are “critic, teacher, writer, lover of cats”. Durr-e-‘Adan Haque, AKA Dhea or D, is described as “an Indonesian-Pakistani non-binary lesbian”, but on LinkedIn she is referred to as “Student”, working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing.
Format: As writers and media critics, each episode focuses on a different area of either mainstream media or media produced by and for the LGBTQ community. They look at the ways homophobia may come through in storytelling, and what characters from film, television, and books empower gay viewers and readers.
Why You Have to Listen: As much as mainstream media may try to depict stories from a variety of perspectives, if the gatekeepers of distribution are all, for example, straight white men, authentic stories may not be easy to find. The GayV Club is one of the best LGBTQ podcasts for millennials, offering a youthful and insightful perspective on mainstream media, as well as offering windows into informed storytelling.
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From England, listen to the dulcet, lilting tones of Scotsman and actor Alan Cumming and British filmmaker Chris Sweeney as they speak to Homo Sapiens who are icons in LGBTQ culture.
Hosts: Alan Cumming is an actor known for theater, film, and television roles. Villainous in the Bond film, GoldenEye, or holding a lead X-Men role, he also owns a club and doesn’t miss a chance to use his surname as a pun. Chris Sweeney is a filmmaker with short film credits working with pop stars like Lana Del Rey, Lily Allen, and Robbie Williams along with episodic television. Chris started the podcast with a different co-host, pop star, Will Young. But as Season 4 began, he explained that Will is busy being a pop star, hence the need for a new co-host.
Guests: The new season began on May 6 of 2020, launching with their first iconic guest, actor, and author, Stephen Fry! Next was actress Cynthia Nixon, best known for her work in the HBO series Sex and the City. In between interviews, they do a “mailbag” sort of episode to reflect on their after-thoughts with each other and listeners. Previous seasons included guests like comedian Margaret Cho, activists who have founded or co-founded UK Black Pride and The Gay Happiness Project, or visits to The Trevor Project and the Gay Rodeo in the US.
Why You Have to Listen: Homo Sapiens is an education in LGBTQ culture, into media and activism, which both empowers the gay community and opens the door to give allies some insights. For listeners outside of the UK, they offer a perspective on their country and the world in accented English that can expand horizons and connect us all.
Listen to Homo Sapiens
Queer Asian Podcast Club
Formerly known as the “The Gaysian Podcast”, the Queer Asian Podcast Club is just the aural arm of the Queer Asian Social Club, which offers a space to explore the experiences of LGBTQ Asians and Asian-Americans. Most Americans think of the term “Asians” as a politically correct replacement for “Oriental”, but people in India consider themselves South Asians, and people from the Middle East may be from Western Asia. Prepare to become a bit “dis-oriented” (a term stolen from their podcast) by joining their club!
The Host: To the ears, she’s just a girl from Southern California. Maya Reddy, the founder and CEO of the QASC (Queer Asian Social Club) is a law student and a former professional golfer of Indian descent (also known as a Desi). Her experience as a queer woman of color in sports pushed her into law to work on a larger scale to influence policies of inclusion and to empower the LGBTQ community. Her undergrad work connected the effects of queer representations in mainstream media with how public policy is made.
The Guests: A wide range of Asians from across the diaspora including podcasters and Ph.D.s, activists and artists, and “folx, gaybies, theydies, and gentlethems”! There are pop culture historians and drag queens, a spectrum of expressions, and opportunities to connect – which is the purpose of a club.
Why you have to listen: LGBTQ people have all experienced otherness, but add levels of appearance and blended cultural norms and you can see where a social club is important to feel included. Beyond that, it expands all of our horizons to listen to podcasts for LGBTQ people that show us how very human we all are, and how much we have in common, no matter what country our parents and grandparents came from or where in the world we’ve grown up.
Listen to the Queer Asian Podcast Club
The Forbidden Apple Podcast
And now we move back in time, to the beginning of humanity actually – The Garden of Eden. The Forbidden Apple Podcast explores religion from a queer perspective. Based in New York, the hosts represent Catholicism and Judaism, while guests represent a spectrum of religions and backgrounds. The apple in question, remember, was said to give knowledge and awareness, so it can be freeing to bite into it and make one’s own choices.
Hosts: Pelayo Alvarez is originally from Spain and still has the marvelous accent! He grew up Catholic, while Melissa Weiss was brought up in Brooklyn as part of the Hasidic Jewish community. Melissa also consulted and appeared in the viral Netflix series, Unorthodox.
Guests: Comedians and clergy, artists from authors to photographers, psychotherapists, and public figures– like Jennifer Crawford, the winner of Masterchef Canada. Also, musician and Grammy award nominee Mary Lambert, and Senator Loretta Lambert, and Univision Newscaster and producer Luis Sandoval.
Why you have to listen: Coming out stories from a Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, even Mormon or an Amish perspective! Journeys that so many have taken from the religion they were born into a relationship with divinity that works for each of them. A truly interfaith and multicultural podcast for LGBTQ people wherever they are in their path through the human and spiritual experience.
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History is Gay
Moving forward through time, we branch out from religious thought and explore the lesser-known tales throughout humanity’s history,. Be warned that the journey through history is “not as straight as you think”.
The theme of Ancient Greece is found on the logo for History is Gay, on the “About” page of their website, where an image from an ancient Greek urn is featured, and on their “Listen” page, which superimposes a quote from Sappho over a classical painting. All of this which their goal to make people aware that queer people, regardless of the name used to describe them, have been around as long as humanity has been, and they’ve got the evidence.
The mainstream (or as they say on their website, “the cisheteronormative world at large”) seems to believe LGBTQ people are intentionally veering off to follow a new trend. The History is Gay podcast reclaims and celebrates stories of these LGBTQ people.
Hosts: Gretchen (she/her) and Leigh (they/them) identify as “two queer nerds” with a love of history and storytelling. Gretchen has a degree in Historical Theology but spends most of her time providing geeky media analysis on podcasts, blogs, and an upcoming sci-fi novel. Leigh has a degree in European History and briefly considered going for an archaeology degree, too. They instead delve into video vaults and championing media that challenge the patriarchy.
Guests: Among the guests are author Sarah Prager, who shared about her newest book Rainbow Revolutionaries: Fifty LGBTQ+ People Who Made History; and actress Alexandra Tydings who played a goddess in historical fiction series Xena: The Warrior Princess. Otherwise, there are documentarians and bloggers, I suppose creative minds might be willing to consider the historical figures featured in each episode as guests.
Why you Have to Listen: This is the history class you wish you had in school. Why should we only study wars and politics? As humans, we live for stories of people making brave and visionary choices, guided by passion. Poofter pirates and imperial intimacies, Harlem Renaissance Blues legends and “Bi-gone” movie stars. The 3 genders of ancient Egypt and the genderless American Revolutionary-era Publick Universal Friend. That’s what makes this one of the best LGBTQ podcasts for millennials.
Listen to History is Gay
This collection of the best LGBTQ podcasts, enjoyed as a whole, can take any listener on a journey around the world and through time. You will undoubtedly discover numerous courageous people in all cultures and countries, ancient and modern, who have paved the way for all people to embrace and celebrate the freedom to be their own authentic selves and love who they want to love.
There are many heroic and visionary leaders still at work, pushing the edges of the mainstream, seeing beyond the illusions of society, and utilizing the power of connection to forward the movement. Podcasts for LGBTQ people are just one stripe on the flag of Pride, celebrating people brave enough to be fully who they are and share that with the world.
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