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PODCASTS 'A Queer Serial' delves into LGBTQ history
by Emily Reilly
2020-06-24

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Devlyn Camp, the host of A Queer Serial podcast, is preparing for season two, continuing the stories of milestones in LGBTQ history before the Stonewall Riots.

The show explores the world of lost LGBTQ history through its victories, movements, front-runners, government scandals and, most prominently, the secret queer organization known as The Mattachine Society.

"This next season continues on the same story, but the Mattachinos take a back seat as supporting characters of this larger narrative of gay liberation," said Camp ( who goes by the pronouns they and them ). "I'm following the movement from day one to Stonewall, so this is no longer just about gay white men. This is about an intersectionality story of people of all sexualities, races, genders and classes that led the queer movement."

It all started one day in Camp's apartment when they discovered a book about The Mattachine Society and couldn't pull away from it. Inspired, they fell into a rabbit hole of documentaries, archives, books, all connecting important stories in history. After plenty of writing and brainstorming, Camp ultimately decided a podcast to be the golden medium to share these fascinating stories from the past.

"My goal is to talk about how queer people found liberation before Stonewall ever happened," said Camp.

For example, Camp discusses the story of José Sarria, a drag queen who performed opera parodies in San Francisco during the 1960s. By politically engaging his audience, he became a prominent figure in queer history, and eventually became the first openly gay person to run for office in the United States.

Season two kicks off with the emergence of the Daughters of Bilitis ( DoB ) in 1955, a similar organization to the Mattachine Society. As the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the United States, the DoB became increasingly powerful in their efforts to fight for reform and research. This brought about a magazine called The Ladder that was issued from the 1950s to the 1970's. The season continues to explore a more diverse array of historical LGBTQ subjects prior to Stonewall.

Camp enlivens each episode with witty and thoughtful commentary beyond the storyline, connecting dots between major historical themes and present-day events.

In light of recent events, Camp stressed the importance of the current marches, protests, and fundraisers all over the world for the Black Lives Matter movement. They emphasized that the gay community owes its momentum to those that fought for Civil Rights.

"People that organized protests in the '50s and '60s created these tools and left them behind for us. The Queer Liberation Movement was taking every single cue of The Civil Rights Movement," said Camp. "The Daughters of Bilitis had the first influx of members while Rosa Parks was leading her Bus Boycott through Montgomery, Alabama. They saw what was possible."

The gay liberation movement has historically overlapped with the civil rights movement in the United States, and A Queer Serial doesn't shy away from addressing the intersectionality and diversity that helped the movement get to where it is today.

"People assume this is a largely white story, but some of the strongest leaders of the movement were people of color," said Camp. "There were so many people of different identities than queer history leads us to believe."

While many LGBTQ history enthusiasts already know the stories of Dale Jennings, Jose Sarria or the Daughters of Bilitis, it's rare to find an outlet that connects stories like these together, addressing their simultaneous existence in history.

The podcast will air approximately 26 episodes, as well as bonus episodes found on Patreon. Camp both writes and produces the show, balancing the schedule's demand while not sacrificing its quality for listeners.

"In my mind, I want to try to release it as soon as possible, but I also want it to be good. This is the second season, and as far as I'm planning right now, is the end of it. I wanted to start this story with The Mattachine and then go up to one year after Stonewall to see the result of it all, and that is it. I really just want to tell the story as best as I can."

Funded on donations, A Queer Serial's Patreon page is available for contribution, where features like bonus episodes and prizes are available for supporters. For regular updates on Instagram and Twitter, follow @queerserial.


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