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.


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! 

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