Due to the independent, self-produced nature of podcasts and podcasting, there is a lot they can offer in the realm of queer representation. While there is an abundance of shows with queer side characters, the wealth of current media- especially television and cinema, are primarily led by cisgendered, heterosexual characters. Now, when evoking the word “podcast,” I don’t mean shows in the same lane as The Joe Rogan Experience. Instead, these take a tone closer to War of the Worlds or other similar radio dramas. Each of these five fiction podcasts are wonderful examples of the creativity displayed by the genre.
5. The Magnus Archives
Whenever someone talks about podcasts, I recommend The Magnus Archives every single time. “A perfect utilization of Chekhov’s gun” is the usual praise. While the podcast shines in writing, the actual queerness is entirely secondary to the plot. If you want a fun podcast with a queer lead couple and a handful of one-off characters, The Magnus Archives’ 200th episode anthology is a perfect use of your time. The story follows Jonathan Sims (named after the writer of the podcast AND the character’s voice actor,) a curt academic promoted to the title of Head Archivist at his place of work, the Magnus Institute. The institute dedicates itself to gathering strange artifacts and “statements” made by people who have survived stage, dangerous, supernatural happenings. Each episode is one terrifying statement read by the Archivist. Beware, The Magnus Archives is a horror podcast, and contains heavy themes. If you are unsure about an episode, you can refer to the detailed trigger warnings provided in the description of each episode. The community runs a little further on the conspiratorial side, but what else can one expect from such an information-addled podcast.
The Magnus Archives contains:
MLM (man loving man) couple
WLW (woman loving woman) couple
An asexual, biromantic character
A bisexual character
Horrors Beyond Human Comprehension
4. Welcome to Night Vale
Ah yes, the originator, what queer led podcast list would this be without Welcome to Nightvale? This podcast follows Cecil Palmer, the peculiar host of an even more peculiar desert town’s radio station. The town of Night Vale is chock full of ominous characters and locations, an evil dog park? You’ve got it. Angels? That’s an illegal topic of discussion. Mountains? Preposterous, they don’t exist! A cult of hipster baristas? Give it some time. Welcome to Night Vale also has a vibrant live experience, pleasant community, and is currently ongoing, contributing to its 10-year run! If you want to catch it live (which I highly recommend) you can grab tickets here.
Welcome to Night Vale contains:
Gay main characters
Angels that do in fact exi-
3. Alice isn’t Dead
From the writer of Welcome to Nightvale, Alice isn't Dead follows a truck driver in search for her long presumed dead wife as she travels across the United States. In her journey, the unnamed trucker encounters a string of oddities such as: a literally timeless town, a saggy not-quite-man with a hunger for human flesh, and a river that eats people. In search of Alice, the listener is exposed to snippets of the trucker’s relationship with her wife, making the end of the pursuit all the more satisfying. A queer relationship is the center of this tale, and it remains so.
Alice Isn’t Dead features:
Lesbian main character
2. Brimstone Valley Mall
It’s 1999, and a rag-tag, eyeliner heavy, team of mall workers are causing a ruckus straight out of the depths of hell. Literally. Four demons scramble to find the missing lead member of their band “The Mall Rats'' as their final year on Earth comes to a close. Hornblas has gone missing, while his friends, Asmoriaus, Belzegor, and Misroch, get caught up in love, death, and Hot Topic, all while hell’s middle management is looking over their shoulders. If you’re looking for a witty, quick listen, Brimstone Valley Mall is a must. The lineup of zany queer characters makes this dark comedy a standout on this list.
Brimstone Valley Mall contains:
Non-Binary main character
1. Camp Here and There
Terribly underrated and artfully produced, Camp Here and There is written and distributed by Mayfield & Belov. Scored by musician Will Wood, Camp Here and There has impressive sound design and the only podcast on this list to be led by a (confirmed) gay AND transgender character. Camp Here and There has the highest count of queer characters. The delightfully wacky podcast focuses on Sydney O. Sargent and the comedically negligent summer camp, “Camp Here & There”. Sydney is a gay transgender man, who isn't on HRT. This addition is important because the vast majority of the trans masculine characters present in any form of media are trans men who have had top surgery, go on hormone replacement therapy, and don't present femininely in any way. Sydney O. Sargent is perhaps one of the first characters I've seen who is this way without his identity coming into question. As a feminine trans man, (though I've been on HRT some 5 odd months) seeing Sydney, a trans man who presents in a way that I can see myself in, was liberating. Camp Here and There is currently funding its second season, and will continue once the campaign is over.
Camp Here and There features:
MLM main couple
Trans Masc Lead
Trans Femme character
A primarily queer main AND supporting cast
Thank you for taking a peek at these recommendations, the reason why some of the more lighthearted shows are highlighted in this list is because the world is a little bit of a scary place to be queer right now. With measures like the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill passing in Florida, or the Governor of Texas rolling out a measure banning books that speak about sex, sexuality, and gender within schools, sometimes, listening to a radio show about a bunch of queer mall workers/demons from the underworld try to find their deadbeat lead singer is a break you need and deserve.