Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a major historic moment in the battle for gay rights. To celebrate, we’re toasting Pride Month, queer history—and queer history-in-the-making—with a selection of podcasts eps that illuminate LGBTQA+ stories too often overlooked.
“Kitty Genovese And ‘Bystander Apathy’” - You’re Wrong About
This podcast’s title swiftly explains its basic premise. You might think you know everything there is about a certain topic, but you’re wrong. For instance, I’ve watched numerous true crime shows and a doc about the murder case of Kitty Genovese, and yet this ep unearthed elements that I didn’t know. For instance, journalist Sarah Marshall uncovers how the institutionalized homophobia of the New York Police force contributed to Genovese’s death. She also takes the time to give us an insight into who Kitty was, beyond a victim of the alleged apathy of bystanders. Plus, this excellent ep paves the way for this week’s episode.
“The Stonewall Uprising” - You’re Wrong About
In honor of the anniversary, journalist Michael Hobbes read two books, interviewed four historians and one person who was at the Stonewall Uprising. He also put a great deal of thought into how to present this monumental moment of queer history, which has long been wildly misrepresented for fifty years and counting. The episode is thorough in breaking down what happened that night in New York City, who was involved and who just claimed to be, why that matters, and why Stonewall’s details are so contested. It’s insightful and essential listening, with a welcomed dose of humor. (“Oh f*ck! We’ve made them sexier.”)
“Lavender Scare” - Criminal
Phoebe Judge dedicates each episode of Criminal to something criminal. And sometimes, that criminal thing is an injustice perpetrated by a government agency gone mad. In this ep, she digs into the Lavender Scare, where the government hunted out homosexuals in their midsts and threatened to out them unless they resigned. To explore this, Judge interviews nonagenarian Helen James, who recounts what it was like to be a lesbian in the 1950s who was chased out of her career by paranoid homophobes. James also shares how she eventually achieved justice, and what it was like to lead a gay pride march at age 91.
“Oliver Sipple” - Radioloab
U.S. Marine and Vietnam War veteran Oliver Sipple didn’t set out to be a hero when he went for a walk in San Francisco on September 22, 1975. Then his quick thinking thwarted an assassination attempt on U.S. President Gerald Ford. It shouldn’t have mattered that Sipple was gay. But when the nation took notice of him, his private life became very public to devastating effect. This riveting episode not only explores his story, but also challenges the audience with questions about the role of the media. It offers no easy answers, but plenty to think about.
“Charley Parkhurst, One-eyed Whip” - Stuff You Missed In History Class
In 1800s California, you’d be hard pressed to find a stagecoach driver better known and better liked than Charley Parkhurst. Even when he lost an eye (from a horse’s kick to the face), Charlie didn’t lose a step. In fact, one of his nicknames was Six-Horse Charley, because of how ably he could handle a big team. Despite his quirks and skills, it wasn’t until Charlie’s death that he became a national news story. When prepping his body for burial, his friends were stunned to discover that Charley was transgender. This is his story.
“Cecilia” - Criminal
As a child growing up in Argentina, Cecilia Gentili didn’t know what “trans” was. She felt different from those around her, and so suspected that maybe she was an extraterrestrial. But when she came to America, Cecilia found community and employment through sex work. This is the first of a two-part series exploring the argument for decriminalizing sex work in the US. In part one, Gentili explains how SESTA/FOTSA proved disastrous for consensual sex workers, and she charts her journey from a lonely girl desperate to be understood to an activist fighting for her community and their rights. This is a must-listen for feminists who want to be better educated on the nuances of sex work advocacy. Plus, Gentili’s is an inspiring story perfect for a Pride pick-me-up.
Did we miss a podcast ep you’d recommend?
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