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Podcast Review: Queer Serial: LGBTQ+ History

An interesting and educational podcast to listen to for Pride Month is Queer Serial: LGBTQ+ History. This podcast is a true history drama of the Gay Liberation Movement from 1924 to Stonewall. The host is Devlyn Camp who received a Excellence in Journalism Award in 2021 from The Association of LGBT Journalists for their contribution to the “Queer Spaces Project.” Camp describes different eras of the Gay Liberation Movement in three seasons of this podcast.  Queer Serial will enlighten listeners to figures and events in the Gay Liberation Movement and be entertained by Camp’s narration of unfolding events.

The first episode of this podcast that I listened to was “The Devil With the Blue Dress On” which is about the Stonewall Riots. This is the first of two episodes about Stonewall. In the beginning of the episode, Camp provides a history of the Stonewall Inn which was originally a tea house. The building burnt down and was purchased by mafia boss “Fat” Tony Salerno. Rather than redecorate the establishment, burnt parts of the building were simply painted black.  While under mafia ownership, the Stonewall Inn become a place where members of the LGBTQ+ community went to socialize. On June 28, 1969, the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn to arrest federal employees who were colluding with the mob.

Camp describes the raid in what seems like a minute to minute basis. He describes how even though the police did arrest employees of the Stonewall Inn with mafia connections, they were abusive to members of the LGBTQ+ community that were also there. The abuse includes both sexual and physical assault. Witnesses to this grew angry and this is how the riot began. With Camp’s narration and sound effects incorporated into the podcast, I felt like I was witnessing the riot firsthand. Those who want an in-depth understanding of the Stonewall Riots should listen to this podcast.

Part 2 of the episodes about the Stonewall Uprising is “Gay Power.” This episode describes how Stonewall energized gay activism. Camp describes how after the five years following the riot, around 1,000 groups were formed to fight for gay equality. Marches and picketing of businesses were ordered by these groups throughout the country. This included a protest outside The San Francisco Examiner after a journalist wrote a disparaging article about homosexuals. Employees of the newspaper company dumped blue ink on the protesters and the protest was brutally dispersed by the police. A different protest was held against The Village Voice after it refused to print the words “gay” or “homosexual” in ads published by the Gay Liberation Movement. Throughout the podcast, Camp does an incredible job researching and presenting information about gay liberation movements. 

Though I have only listened to two episodes of Queer Serial, I am impressed by the quality of each one. The narrations are interesting and there is a theatrical element to it with crowd sound effects and actors reading letters of gay rights activists such as  Frank Kameny. I highly recommend this podcast to anyone who wants to learn about the history of LGBTQ+ activism in this country.

Queer Serial can be heard on its website or its apps such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and more.

In celebration of Pride Month, YPL has created a curated book list. These books can be placed on hold and picked up at any branch of YPL.

Michael Walsh

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Grinton I. Will Library