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Currently much of the mainstream media is inherently heterosexual. Most content that comes out is designed around the assumption that heterosexuality is normality and that norm deserves to be perpetuated and upheld. While there is nothing wrong with heterosexuality in moderation - it does rather limit the scope of the human experience to one very specific niche.
It is no secret as to why this hetero-standard has come to the forefront. When a certain type of story is repeated, and when the forces behind it are limited to a particular life experience, the types of stories and offerings they bring to the table will likely perpetuate what has already been there. Despite a decidedly large percentage of the workers, writers, actors and creators behind the scenes having an alternative life experience, these stories have so often fallen by the wayside.
However, with all the cultural shifts brewing in the cultural zeitgeist we are noticing an emerging trend of these alternative viewpoints coming to the forefront in a variety of mediums- but none are more blatant than the world of audio drama podcasts. In my experience I have been delighted to see a host of representation across almost every podcast that I have come across.
When a queer story is told in a traditional medium it is often a tale where the characters “queerness” is the core of their character. The most traditional of these is the “coming out” story where the character must come to terms with their alternative sexuality and the impact that has on their friends and family. These stories, while important, are limiting when they are deemed the only “acceptable” form of queer representation.
In the world of audio drama, I have noticed that so often these stories are almost entirely absent and the characters are often set on more traditional “Hero’s journey” style narratives with characters that just happen to be gay, lesbian, non-binary or queer. Their sexuality is almost always secondary to the narrative which is driving the main journey.
Take “CARAVAN” from the WhisperForge - in which the queer character Samir is in love with his best friend - but instead of relying on this trope to hang the journey- the narrative quickly pivots into a grand western style adventure with demons, vampires, banshees and supernatural abilities.
Looking at other journeys, we can see that the stories are all based around queer characters where their least interesting facet is their queerness. Shows like “The Strange Case of Starship Iris” has representation across almost all aspects of the queer community. Funny journeys like “The Adventures of Rodney the Root” feature a main character who is revealed to be trans and both gay and lesbian representation in a hilarious narrative that is absolutely delightful.
With shows like “E0S 10” where the main character is early on revealed to be gay- his queerness is constantly overshadowed by jokes about his forehead. In another show by the same creator, “Heroics” features a queer character who is immediately accepted in a community traditional reserved for straight male readers- and is ferociously welcomed and integral to the team.
In “Dreamboy” the narrative gets downright explicit with his experiences- but the story actually centers around a mystery around a zebra, a dilapidated zoo and a strange fish skeleton- I am continually disappointed that it wont receive a second season, but what is there is a great listen.
Even in more “mainstream” podcast shows like “Wolf 359” it is revealed that one of the characters is queer in a most surprising turn of events - from which nothing truly comes about from it. The factor of the characters sexuality is touched upon - but never even becomes a factor in the plot of the story.
This explosion of queerness online could be the first steps in a massive explosion of similar narratives that I’m eager to see. This whole process of “Queerification” is a testament to what you can easily do when the barrier of entry is so low. We can increase and amplify the voices of creators who are bringing new and interesting projects to the table in a variety of ways.
Our first audio book podcast is an interactive reading of “The Cypher” by Matti McLean and published by Renaissance Press.
Our most recent audio drama is “Tin Wings” which is written and produced by Matti McLean.