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Thursday, November 10, 2022

The week in audio: Homo Sapiens; The LGBT Sport Podcast; Call Me Mother; Bi People; Hits Radio Pride | Podcasts

Homo Sapiens | homosapienspodcast.com
The LGBT Sport Podcast (BBC Radio Cornwall) | BBC Sounds
Call Me Mother (Novel) | apple.com
Bad People Presents: Bi People (BBC Radio 5 live) | BBC Sounds
Hits Radio Pride
(Bauer) | planetradio.co.uk

After two years away, Glastonbury is back back BACK and this weekend has seen the World’s Greatest Music Festival rightly splashed all over the BBC’s music stations. 6 Music moved from Broadcasting House into a backstage tent from Wednesday to Sunday, while Radio 2 devoted its Saturday night to the wonders of Paul McCartney. All entirely correct and the BBC does this big event stuff absolutely brilliantly. But June is also Pride month and I’m always surprised by how little this is acknowledged by BBC audio. You hope it’s because LGBTQ+ stories are no longer seen as “other”, though there’s still an argument for some celebration and analysis. Anyhow, the 2022 London Pride will be on 2 July. Damian Barr will be hosting Archive on 4: Fifty Years of Pride, on BBC Radio 4 that day (and for TV heads, there’s a three-part BBC Two documentary telling the British Aids story starting on Monday).

There are many US gay podcasts, but for those who desire a non-American audio take, here are a few places to look. If you haven’t already heard it, the immensely moving podcast The Log Books tells the story of British gay people from the 1970s to the 90s, via the handwritten logbooks of the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard. The long-established chat-with-the-odd-interview show A Gay and a NonGay is always worth a listen, as is the upbeat Two Twos, an exploration of black lesbian life by the always funny Rose Frimpong and Nana Duncan. Plus there’s Homo Sapiens, which started in 2017. Originally hosted by Will Young and Chris Sweeney, then Alan Cumming and Sweeney, the show is now presented by Sweeney alone. He’s very good at it, warm and welcoming, able to happily rattle on solo as well as get some excellent interviews from the many famous people who appear on the show.

I enjoyed the recent episode (No 180), How Should We Celebrate Pride in Schools? In Part 1, Sweeney spoke to geography teacher Chris Mattley and his ex-pupil, Leah. Mattley set up a LGBTQ+ group for pupils at the Lincolnshire secondary school where he teaches. What initially seemed, to an outsider, an easy thing to do –create a supportive group for pupils – involved a huge journey for Mattley, who wasn’t out to his work colleagues for several years. His story was touching, as was Leah’s: she walked past the door to the group for weeks before she had the courage to enter. Section 28 has a lot to answer for.

In the second part of the episode, the show played a podcast made by a Bristol school, Hillcrest primary. In it, pupil Jasper interviewed the founder of Bristol Pride; two gay parents spoke to Martha and Stephanie; three of the school’s LGBTQ+ teachers chatted to each other; and hosts Solly, Freddie and Phoebe went into the playground to talk to other pupils (“My LGBT hero is my Uncle Ash because he always invites me round for barbecues”). Nicely produced and the children host brilliantly.

From BBC Cornwall, Jack Murley has a longstanding show, The LGBT Sport Podcast. All sports interviewers, if they’re any good, have a touch of Partridge about them and Murley works the Partridge beat with style, full of celebration (“Great guest! Go follow his YouTube!”), no-pause-for-breath sentences and to-the-point questions. The most recent episode, with American wrestling star Anthony Bowens, proved entertaining despite my lack of wrestling knowledge, as was the episode with Irish rugby player Jack Dunne.

Dr Julia Shaw.
Dr Julia Shaw, co-host of Bi People. Photograph: Chris So/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Shon Faye’s Call Me Mother is back for a new series, with a strong opening interview with American trans activist Donna Persona, now 75. Back in the day, aged 19, “cissy” (cis-gender) Persona found a friendly crew of trans women and drag queens in an all-night San Francisco cafe, Compton Cafeteria. Many were sex workers and drug users and some of the cafe staff were hostile. In 1966, there was a riot, with the queens beating off police officers using handbags, heels, sugar shakers and coffee. Persona wrote a successful play about it and was made grand marshal of SF’s Pride in 2019.

The riots were, you note, three years before the Stonewall riots, which is a topic covered in new BBC two-part podcast, Bi People. Hosted by Bad People’s Dr Julia Shaw and Sofie Hagen, these shows were fun, as their shows always are. I very much enjoyed the interesting first episode, about Henry Havelock Ellis, who married bisexual Edith Lees and wrote the first UK medical book on homosexuality (Sexual Inversion, published 1897). The second, less successful, show covered the Stonewall riots, surely a well-known story by now, despite Hagen’s surprised “No way!” reactions. Things opened up when Shaw discussed the history of bisexuality post-1970.

Finally, you could just flip your switch to Hits Radio. The pro-gay station has a Pride section on its website and even a Pride station, which is… pretty much the same as the usual station really, meaning a non-stop, all-bangers, full-sugar high. Enjoy.

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