Episode 19: Queer Poetry in the Not-So-Great War: Siegfried Sassoon

We’ve got a special episode for you this time, gayvenclaws! Gretchen is taking care of a family medical emergency, so join Leigh and special guest Hayden Smith as they discuss the famous WWI soldier Siegfried Sassoon. A writer, poet, and novelist known for his anti-jingoist, anti-war poetry, Sassoon was willing to showcase the horrors of the trenches for foot soldiers. It’s a tale of love, loss, grief, anger, and healing as we dig into this fascinating fellow and his prolific poetry!

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
4:43 – Main Topic: Anti-War Poet Siegfried Sassoon
6:31 – Socio-Historical Context: the United Kingdom, 1900-1930
16:51 – Socio-Historical Context: WWI and Homosexuality
20:17 – Socio-Historical Context: Changing Masculinity
29:51 – Who were they? Bio Time. 
46:46 – Why do we think they're gay?
1:15:37 – Pop Culture Tie-In
1:16:51 – How Gay were They?
1:21:28 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

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Episode 18: Girls Gone Wilde

What would an exploration of the Wilde family be without taking a closer look at Oscar Wilde’s ‘virulently lesbian’ niece Dolly Wilde? Gretchen and Leigh take you on a journey to learn more about this elusive personality. Unlike her uncle, Dolly left little written work behind and is best known from her letters and from what other people have to say about her. Come join the ouroboros of gay that is the Sapphic ‘sewing circle’ of 1920s Hollywood and Paris.

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
5:02 – Main Topic: Dolly Wilde
5:23 – Socio-Historical Context: Paris and London in the 1920s
10:20 – Who were they? Bio Time. 
48:53 – Why do we think they're gay?
58:50 – Fun Segment: Word of the Week
1:26:21 – How Gay were They?
1:28:44 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

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Episode 17: He's a Real Wilde One


In honor of his 164th birthday, Leigh and Gretchen talk about the life and times of Oscar Wilde with special guest K. W. Moore from the blog “A Scholar of No Importance.” Wilde’s unwillingness to conform to Victorian sensibilities regarding keeping his private life private and the famous trials that resulted from it changed the shape of Western discussions of sexuality thereafter. His writing, too has left its mark both on the world, and on all three of our hosts this episode. So come join us as we pay homage to the Wilde man himself, the man who sought to live up to his blue china and worried he might fall short.

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
5:30 – Socio-Historical Context: 19th Century England, Male-Male Intimacy, and the Criminal Amendment Act of 1885
15:11 – Who were They/Why Do We Think They’re Gay: The Early Life, Loves, and Scandals of Oscar Wilde
20:50 – Fun Segment: Word of the Week
41:03 - 43:17 – Content Warning for mentions of child abuse & suicide
46:45- 51:12– Content Warning: Discussion regarding ephebophilia and pederasty
51:12 – The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Exile, and Death
1:20:19 – Fun Segment: Pop Culture Tie-In
1:25:47 – How Gay were They?
1:28:04– Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

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Episode 16: Lavender Apparitions

Happy Halloween everybody! As good Halloween gays, Leigh and Gretchen bring you a special, spoopy episode for Halloween. In the first half, they bring tales of gay and lesbian ghosts and lavender apparitions of all kinds, though of the kindly and perhaps a bit cheeky variety rather than bloody or scary. For the second half, they interview Joe Applebaum, one of the producers of Queer Ghost Hunters, a paranormal investigation series on YouTube focused on finding and talking to queer ghosts. So grab your bucket of candy and get ready for some spoopy fun on History is Gay!

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
6:41– Socio-Historic Context: Spiritualism
11:23 – Lavender Apparitions and Queer Ghosts
45:16 – Leigh and Gretchen Plan Their Hauntings
52:23 – Fun Segment: Pop Culture Tie-In
54:47 – How Gay were They?
56:31 – Interview with Joe Applebaum of Queer Ghost Hunters
1:44:47 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

Apple Podcasts  |    Google Play    |    RadioPublic    |    Stitcher    |    Download

Episode 15: Lizzie Borden Took a Labrys

Way back in the first episode, Leigh and Gretchen formed a historical ‘murder wives’ ship starting with Anne Bonny; in this episode, they take a closer look at murder wife #2: Lizzie Borden! That’s right folks, she too may very well have had a thing for the ladies as well as possibly murdering her father and stepmother. Just how queer was she? Did she have an affair with her maid and her stepmother caught them? Why was she acquitted and what was society like for a single, Victorian woman? Find out on this week’s History is Gay! 

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
3:30 – Content Warnings
5:07 – Historical Context: 19th Century Victorian Society
21:57 – Who Were They? Bio Time
30:55-31:56 – Content Warning Break: Mention of Incest
35:34 – Motives, The Murders, and Trial
58:24 – Why Do We Think They’re Gay?
1:07:10 – Fun Segment: Word of the Week: Spinsters
1:13:55 – Fun Segment: Pop Culture Tie-In
1:16:34 – How Gay were They?
1:20:32 – Closing and Where to Find Us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

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Episode 14: The Labor Struggle Is Real Queer

Leigh and Gretchen have a special History is Gay treat for you this Labor Day. Join them as they discuss the history of the labor movement as it relates to the struggle for queer civil rights in America. You may not know, but the labor and LGBTQ+ movements have been allies for a long time. Just how far back does the partnership go? Listen and find out! Learn about Jewish lesbian feminists fighting for better workplace conditions during WWI, the mostly-queer marine cooks union in the 30s and 40s, lesbian bus drivers’ unions, the Coors boycott, and more. We end with a discussion of what needs to be done and Gretchen may or may not end up on a soap box. Happy Labor Gay!

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
1:13 – Corrections Corner: Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum
6:50 – Main Topic: The Labor Struggle is Real Queer
25:04-31:47 – Fun Segment: Words of the Week
1:13:24 – Takeaways
1:19:20 – Fun Segment: Pop Culture Tie-In
1:19:45 – How Gay were They?
1:21:01 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

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Episode 13: Six Degrees of Virginia Woolf, Part 1

Gretchen and Leigh are pleased to announce their very first special guest to History is Gay, Dan Arndt of Write to Survive Podcast and The Fandomentals, to talk about Virginia Woolf and Vita-Sackville-West. This episode has everything: modernism, gay love letters, dramatic queers, queers with mommy issues, and a truly cinematic adventures. Join us for Part 1 of an ongoing series.

2:05 – Introduction
5:40– Socio-Historical Context: Modernism
15:20– A Note About Language: The Terms Lesbian and Bisexual
19:15– Who were they and why do we think they're gay?
21:23 – 22:08 CONTENT WARNING: Mention of childhood sexual abuse
1:08:39– Fun Segment: Word of the Week: Oysters
1:20:15–1:20:47 CONTENT WARNING: Mention of suicide
1:22:10– Fun Segment: Pop Culture Tie-In
1:25:08– How Gay were They?
1:29:30– Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

Apple Podcasts  |    Google Play    |    RadioPublic    |    Stitcher    |    Download

Episode 12: Let's Have a Kiki with Queer as Fact!

Welcome to our very first extra special collaboration! Joining Leigh and Gretchen this episode are our friends over at Queer as Fact, a queer history podcast from Australia. Our topic of choice? Queer slang! Join us as we discuss lavender linguistics, the history of queer slang in Australian penal colonies, and our favorite slang words, both American and Australian! So brush off your oysters, pitch your tents for camp, sharpen up your Gillette blades, and let’s have a kiki with Queer as Fact!

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
09:14 – Historical Background: Lavender Linguistics
28:48 – Historical Background: History of Queer Slang in Australia
52:35 – Our Favorite Slang: America vs Australia
1:36:56 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

Queer as Fact can be found on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and you can listen to them on your podcatcher app of choice!

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

Apple Podcasts  |  RadioPublic  |  Google Play    |    Stitcher    |   Download

Episode 11: Rainbow Rising: The First Pride

Leigh and Gretchen welcome you to their first Pride month special and the first of an ongoing series on Queer civil rights movements in the United States. And what better way to do both than to dive into the lives of Gilbert Baker---the maker of the first rainbow pride flag---and Brenda Howard---one of the primary organizers of the first Pride march commemorating the Stonewall riots and Pride week. Pride is a special month for those of us in the queer community, so we wanted to celebrate our forefathers and foremothers that make this month possible. So, without further ado, let's chat about the Mother of Pride and the Gay Betsy Ross!

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
2:56 – Content Warnings
6:35 – Historical Context: Brief Discussion of the Stonewall Riots and Aftermath
22:10 – Brenda Howard: Mother of Pride
41:25 – Gilbert Baker: Creator of the LGBT+ Rainbow Flag
1:06:01 – Fun Segment: Pop Culture Tie-In
1:09:06 – How Gay were They?
1:11:35– Closing and Where to Find Us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

Apple Podcasts  |    Google Play    |    Stitcher    |    Download

Episode 10: Thigh Fencing and the Saffron Massage

In this episode, co-hosts Gretchen and Leigh will take you on a tour of medieval Arabo-Islamic erotic literature and the many delightful descriptions of queer female experience it contains. Remember way back in episode two when ‘thigh fencing’ came up? Well, that and other martial imagery for wlw sexual experience come from medieval Arabo-Islamic poetry! Like shield banging, jousting without a lance, or our new favorite---the saffron massage. Plus, we’ll dive into cross-dressing heroines, the music of love (moaning), and the first lesbian couple, Hind and al-Zarqa’!

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
5:57 – Historical Context: Medieval Arabic Erotic Tradition More Generally
25:52 – Historical Context: Arabic Literature and Western Courtly Love Poetry
36:11 – Fun Segment: Word of the Week
42:38 – Tribadism and Queer Lady Love in Arabo-Islamic Writing
1:03:17 – Tales of Cross Dressing and Same-Sex Marriage
1:16:10 – People Examples
1:24:41 – Takeaways
1:30:25 – How Gay were They?
1:33:18 – Closing and Where to Find Us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

Apple Podcasts  |  RadioPublic  |  Google Play    |    Stitcher    |    Download

Episode 0.2: T'Aint Nobody's Bizness: An Interview with Robert Philipson

Leigh & Gretchen are bringing you a special bonus episode this week! Wow, three whole episodes in a month, Happy Pride! In this bonus, Leigh sits down with Robert Philipson, producer and director of the documentary T’Aint Nobody’s Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s, which we discussed in our episode Bulldaggers and Lady Lovers, about his process, the importance of telling queer stories and excavating lost history, his upcoming documentary project Mood Lavender which sheds light on more queers in the Harlem Renaissance, and maybe even a little sneaky surprise for you all.

Want to find more info on Robert and his work? Go to www.shogafilms.com or follow on twitter @ShogaFilms or like the Shoga Films facebook page!

Want to see Robert’s short film Congo Cabaret at the San Francisco Black Film Festival this Sunday, June 17? Purchase tickets at www.sfbff.org.

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

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Episode 9: Nazi Punks Fuck Off, Pt 2: Claude Cahun

As you know, we're not a fan of nazis. In part two of our (what will very likely be ongoing) series on badass, queer anti-fascists we discuss the genderqueer, surrealist artist and nazi resistance fighter Claude Cahun! Teen love to stepsisters to lifelong partners in art and resistance? Lovers literally saving each others lives more than once? Taking a break from sunbathing and walking their cat on a leash in middle age to spread anti-fascist propaganda and lower morale among the invading German forces? Gender is a performance, what? Classic Claude Cahun (and Marcel Moore)! So say it with us again, "Nazi punks, fuck off" this time with surrealism!

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
2:19 – Content Warnings
4:05 – Historical Context: Dreyfus Affair and 'New Women' in France
9:13 – Who Were They? Bio Time
23:22-28:32 – Fun Segment: Word of the Week
1:00:14 – Why Do We Think They're Gay?
1:17:51 – Pop Culture Tie In
1:19:01 – How Gay Were They?
1:24:57 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page (coming soon)! 

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Episode 8: Nazi Punks Fuck Off, Pt 1: Magnus Hirschfeld

We're not a fan of nazis around these parts, and not just for the obvious reasons. Did you know that one of the most iconic images of them burning books is from when they burned the library of a gay, Jewish, communist sexologist well known for his research on sexuality and gender, including trans identity? Until this episode, we didn't either! In this first part of a two part series (so far!), we dive into the fascinating life of Doctor Magnus Hirschfeld, the "Einstein of sex." His approach to sexuality, gender, and race was decades ahead of the likes of Alfred Kinsey and Harry Benjamin, and who knows were society would be had his research not been destroyed. So come join us as we say, "Nazi punks, fuck off!" 

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
3:38 – Content Warnings
5:40 – Social Context: Taboos and Mores
12:50 – Social Context: White Supremacy
17:43 – Social Context: Romanticism and the German Wilhelmite Period
24:50 – Social Context: Volkish Movements and Nazism
26:47 – Who Were They? Bio Time
31:00-31:53 – Content Warning: Discussion of Suicide
55:45-59:00 - (Not So) Fun Segment: Word of the Week
1:06:48 - Why Do We Think They're Gay?
1:11:40 – How Gay Were They?
1:14:30 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

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Episode 0.1: Queer, There, and Everywhere!

Welcome to a special first here in History is Gay: our first ever minisode! As Gretchen has been busy traveling this month, she and Leigh are filling in with a special guest interview with Sarah Prager, author of Queer, There, and Everywhere and creator of the Queer history app Quist. If you love queer folks from history and learning fun, daily facts about queer history, then this interview should be right up your alley!

Outline
0:00 – Introduction
2:15 – Interview with Sarah Prager
37:27– Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

Apple Podcasts  |    Google Play    |    Stitcher    |    Download

Episode 7: F is for Friend Who Did Not Have Gender

R is for Revolutionary War, which is where hosts Leigh & Gretchen are headed in this, the very first episode dedicated to a single person from history: the Publick Universal Friend. The Friend presented as something entirely new: a genderless spirit from God who eschewed gendered pronouns and dressed and spoke in ways that purposefully blurred the lines between male and female in early American society. So come join us as we talk about this most special of Friends; to make things even more interesting, turns out one of our hosts is related to the Friend!

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
2:30 – Corrections Corner: On Egyptian Lettuce
5:22 – Main Topic: Jemima Wilkinson, The Publick Universal Friend
7:54 – Socio-Historical and Religious Context
27:48 – Who were they? Bio Time. 
48:42 – Why do we think they're gay?
1:05:08 – Analysis from Queer Historians
1:17:15 – Fun Fact: One of our Hosts is Related!
1:20:40 – How Gay were They?
1:27:10 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

Apple Podcasts  |    Google Play    |    Stitcher    |    Download

Episode 6: 3 Genders? In Ancient Egypt? It's More Likely Than You Think

In today’s episode, cohosts Leigh and Gretchen head way back in time to Ancient Egypt. That’s right, get ready to walk like an Egyptian! Take a tour through Egyptian mythology to discuss what Set and Nephthys imply about Egypt having a concept of third gender. Plus, the dancing woman mummy, gender transformation in burial, the gender presentation of women pharaohs like Hatshepsut, and Gretchen’s favorite gay Egyptian tomb! By the end, you’ll see why having 3 genders in Ancient Egypt is more likely than people think! 

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
5:38 – A Note on Mythological Sources
9:44 – Gender Ambiguity in Mythology
30:29 – What Does this Have to do with Gender?
40:00 – Other Evidence of Non-Cisheteronormative Gender
54:58 – Linguistic Evidence of Third Gender
1:07:36 – Two Famous hm Priests: Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep
1:23:52 – Takeaways
1:29:39 – How Gay Were They?
1:36:51 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

Apple Podcasts  |    Google Play    |    Stitcher    |    Download

Episode 5: Stars from a Bi-Gone Era

In this very special episode, hosts Leigh & Gretchen travel to the red carpet and the silver screen to hear stories about queer actors from the golden age of Hollywood. Along for the ride is a room full of queer people who came to listen to the podcast being recorded live at TGIFemslash, a convention dedicated to the queer ladies of media, the ladies who love them, and the fans who love them. Join us and a room full of big gay nerds as we discuss the early years of film, the sexploits of the rich and famous, and other favorite queermos from history!

Outline

0:00 – Pre-show announcements
2:25 – Introduction
4:44 – Game: Silver Screen Sexploits
10:54 – Word of the Week: Lavender Marriages
12:54 – More Stars of a Bi Gone Era: Why Do We Think They're Gay?
 17:15 – How Gay Were They?
 22:20 – Group Discussion: Favorite Queermos from History
 45:15 – Closing and Where to Find us Online

For awesome nerdy queer merch like buttons, shirts, necklaces, and other fantastic things to deck your femslash loving self out in, please check out our amazing friend’s shop mentioned in the show, Glorious Weirdo! They make stuff for nerds, fangirls, feminists, queers, geeks & other cool people. Their designs celebrate the things we love, and we hope you'll love them too.

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

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Episode 4: Bulldaggers & Lady Lovers: The Bisexual and Lesbian Blues Legends

In this episode, your hosts Leigh & Gretchen take a stroll down Jungle Alley and bring you stories of the vibrant black lesbian and gay subculture of the Harlem Renaissance and the blues legends who sang of its glory. With wild parties, bathtub gin, clandestine orgies, and crooning bulldaggers, the lesbian and bisexual blues legends of the 1920s and 1930s were definitely not as straight as you think.

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
3:46 – The Harlem Renaissance, Cultural Context, and the Language We Used
10:42 – Bio Time!: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, Gladys Bentley, Ethel Waters (& Ethel
            Williams), Alberta Hunter, & Lucille Bogan
39:13  – What Do You Mean They're Not Straight?
      39:28  – Evidence from Historical/Cultural Context: Queer subculture & performance in
                    Harlem nightlife
      44:06  – Word(s) of the Week: Rent Party & Buffet Flat
      48:56  – Evidence from Their Personal Lives & Music
1:04:41  – Pop Culture Tie-In: Bessie (2015)
1:05:29  – Takeaways
1:07:55  – How Gay Were They?
1:08:31  – Closing and Where to Find Us Online

For a full list of sources and bonus content, visit our Notes page! 

Apple Podcasts  |    Google Play    |    Stitcher    |    Download

Episode 3: Mei Ai Hold Your Hand? Homosexuality in Imperial China

As your hosts return to examine the unexplored corners of history to highlight overlooked queer ladies, gents, and gentle-enbies, they bring a conversation about homosexuality in Imperial China. They will discuss the unique tradition of male homosexuality present for over 2500 years, what made it possible, and how tragic it’s loss is for modern China. And don’t worry, even though female homosexuality doesn’t have the same strong literary tradition, there are plenty of delightful stories, and a new ‘word of the week’ related to queer lady experience!

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
3:55 – Main Topic: Homosexuality in Imperial China
      13:38 – Social Context: Confucianism, Daoism, and Conceptions of Sex
      22:46 – Social Context: Different Kinds of Sexual Relationships Between Men
      23:41-24:36 - CONTENT WARNING: pederasty mention
      30:23– Examples!
1:10:30 - CONTENT WARNING: pederasty mention
1:11:50 – Word of the Week: dui shi (“shared eating”)
1:17:33 – Takeaways
1:20:14 – How gay were they?
1:23:06 – Where to find us online

For a full list sources and bonus content for this episode, visit our Notes page!

Apple Podcasts  |    Google Play    |    Stitcher    |    Download

Episode 2: Cloistered Queers

In this episode, your hosts Gretchen and Leigh continue to examine the overlooked and underappreciated queer ladies, gents, and gentle-enbies in the unexplored corners of history by traveling to the cloisters of Medieval Europe. They’ll uncover unique views of sex and sexuality that made the practice of ‘brother making’ possible both within and outside the monastic community but also made it hard for medieval theologians to understand sex between women. Come slake your thirst for Jesus queer poems and love letters because guess what? There are lots of monks and nuns with a strong desire for “special friendship” with each other.

Outline

0:00 – Introduction
1:31 – Word of the Week: Adelphopoiesis and Affrerement
6:30 – What do you mean they’re not straight?
     6:40 – Social Context: Medieval Views of Sex & Sodomy
     10:15 – Social Context: Sex Between Women in the Middle Ages
     26:00 – Social Context: Escaping Heteronormativity through Monastacism
     33:35 – Homoeroticism Among Female Mystics
40:40  – The Lives and Love Letters/Poems of Gay Monks and Lesbian Nuns
     1:10:00-1:19:21 – CONTENT WARNING for discussions of sexual violence
1:23:17 – How gay were they?
1:26:40 – Where to find us online

For a full list sources and bonus content for this episode, visit our Notes page!

Apple Podcasts  |    Google Play    |    Stitcher    |    Download