History Is Gay
By Alex C. Telander
Think back to your history class: any history class you ever took from college to high school or even before: did you ever wonder whether a particular historical figure was gay or not? I can only speak for myself as a cis white male, as I am one, but I can safely say without a doubt that this thought never once occurred to me. I feel one big reason for this is because the teachers and professors in the classes I took never talked about the sexuality of historical figures, nor was there a “gay history” class available for me to take. But another reason is because it never occurred to me. I regret this now.
Thankfully, there’s this wonderful podcast called History is Gay:
“where your hosts Gretchen & Leigh examine the overlooked and under-appreciated queer ladies, gents, and gentle-enbies from the unexplored corners of history. Whether shining a light on queer pirate adventures, emo lesbian Sappho, or your other faves from the pages of textbooks you never knew were queer, it’s time to bring our stories out of the shadows. Because history has never been as straight as you think.”
It’s all about that last line, because there have always been members of the LGBTQ community since there have been people in this world, we just haven’t been taught about it. Now I have a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Medieval History, so I’ve taken my fair share of literature and upper level history courses, and with each episode of History is Gay I feel I’m getting the same level of research and lecturing as I’ve received in any previous college course.
But this isn’t too surprising when we look at the hosts for History is Gay. Gretchen, who identifies as bisexual, has a degree in Church History and Historical Theology, as well as a degree in Hebrew Language and Rabbinics. Leigh, who identifies as queer, has a degree in European History and Theater, wrote their thesis on “ascetic medieval women and all the ways they messed with the patriarchy,” and also “flirted for a long time with slapping on an archaeology degree as well, because why not! Bones, yo. They’re so neat.” Both hosts joke about how extensive their outlines are always for each episode, which usually run over an hour in length, and feature a post on the History is Gay website listing all sources used in the episode, as well as various types of media whenever possible.
After a short introductory episode where the hosts explain the format of the show, use of terminology and language, as well as what to expect with regards to formatting and schedule, Episode 1: Were Some Pirates Poofters, is all about gay pirates, both male and female. Episode 2 is Cloistered Queers, all about the gay monks and nuns of the Middle Ages. To make it clear they’re not limiting their research to the western world, the third episode is all about homosexuality in Imperial China. To date, as of this writing, there have been 23 episodes with most of them being over an hour in length. As an avid podcast listener, I’m usually listening to shows half that length, so when I saw how long the episodes were, I was a little hesitant, but as soon as I started listening I was instantly drawn in and completely hooked until the end. The hosts speak with such confidence and intelligence on the subject of each episode that any fan of history will become immediately caught up in it.
If you like history in any way, do yourself a favor and start listening to this great show, “because history has never been as straight as you think.”
Sit back and enjoy episode 1 right here and now!
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