Bad Gays

A podcast about evil and complicated queers in history. Why do we remember our heroes better than our villains? Hosted by Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller. Learn more: www.badgayspod.com

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Episodes

2 days ago

It's the Magnus Hirschfeld episode. We invited Laurie Marhoefer – Jon Bridgman Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington, and one of our most-cited historians ever – to discuss their new book on Hirschfeld, called Racism and the Making of Gay Rights: A Sexologist, His Student, and the Empire of Queer Love. On the episode, we touch on Hirschfeld's life story as a pioneering doctor who helped invent modern homosexual identities and worked on some forms of trans-affirming health care –– while also discussing the ways he integrated racism into the homosexual identities he was creating, collaborated with eugenicists, and was often willing to accept more rights for some at the expense of others.  Our intro and outro music are, respectively, a tune written for us by DJ Michael Oswell Graphic Designer and Arpeggia Colorix, by Yann Terrien

Wednesday Jun 08, 2022

Our UK tour has been fun -- and the US is next! Ben (sadly Huwless) will be stopping in San Francisco, LA, Chicago, New York City, and Boston in the back half of June. All the events are available for RSVP and booking –– many with great discounts on copies of the book and swag included! –– so visit badgayspod.com/book to get your spot before they're gone, as most of our UK events have sold out!

Wednesday Jun 01, 2022

Happy Pride! We invited Ruby Hann, who completed her MA in History in 2020 and her MSc in History in 2021, both at the University of Edinburgh, to talk about Eugen Sandow, the bodybuilder who spread the cult of muscle around the world. Her research is focused on masculinity, sexuality, and the body in early twentieth century Britain. Ruby is not currently in academia, but she still occasionally writes, lectures, and attends conferences. You can follow her Twitter @RubyVolunteers to find her work.  Our book is available at badgayspod.com/book along with tour dates in the US and the UK! SOURCES: Budd, M. A. The Sculpture Machine: Physical Culture and Body Politics in the Age of Empire. New York: New York University Press, 1997. Chapman, David. Sandow the Magnificent: Eugen Sandow and the Beginnings of Bodybuilding. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. Dyer, Richard. White: Twentieth Anniversary Edition, 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2017. Waller, David. The Perfect Man: The Muscular Life and Times of Eugen Sandow, Victorian Strongman. Brighton: Victorian Secrets Limited, 2011. Waugh, Thomas. Hard to Imagine: gay male eroticism in photography and film from their beginnings to Stonewall. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. Brauer, Fae. ‘Virilizing and Valorizing Homoeroticism: Eugen Sandow’s Queering of Body Cultures Before and After the Wilde Trials’, Visual Culture in Britain 18:1 (2017), 35–67. Conrad, Sebastian. ‘Globalizing the Beautiful Body: Eugen Sandow, Bodybuilding, and the Ideal of Muscular Manliness at the Turn of the Twentieth Century’, Journal of World History 32:1 (2021), 95–125. Elledge, Jim. ‘Eugen Sandow’s gift to gay men’, The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 18:4 (2011). Mullins, Greg. ‘‘Nudes, Prudes, and Pigmies: The Desirability of Disavowal in "Physical Culture"’, Discourse 15:1 (1992), 27–48. Snow, K. Mitchell. ‘Does this fig leaf make me look gay? Strongmen, statue posing and physique photography’, Early Popular Visual Culture 17:2 (2019), 135–155. Watt, Carey A. ‘Cultural Exchange, Appropriation and Physical Culture: Strongman Eugen Sandow in Colonial India, 1904–1905’, The International Journal of the History of Sport 33:16 (2016), 1921–1942.

Thursday May 19, 2022

Our book, Bad Gays: A Homosexual History is now available for pre-order from Verso –– and we're making many, many stops across every corner of Great Britain (Northern Ireland, we're sorry and we'll be there soon) to promote it, including three stops in London and stops in Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol, and Cardiff. All the events are available for RSVP and booking –– many with great discounts on copies of the book and swag included! –– so visit badgayspod.com/book to get your spot before they're gone.

Tuesday Mar 15, 2022

For white, suburban, heterosexual middle America, Jeffrey Dahmer, like AIDS, was the natural, even the righteous, consequence of homosexual promiscuity. He remains one of the exemplary constructions of the supervillain serial killer, the perfect subject of a true crime story. Today’s episode is about Jeffrey Dahmer as man and metaphor: about the phenomenon of the serial killer-monster, about the ways in which homophobia, racism, and the various true crime myths Dahmer helped reify ironically impeded his arrest and enabled his crimes, and about the twisted, slap-happy identification with Dahmer pursued by some gay men.

Tuesday Mar 01, 2022

It's a dog day afternoon: today's episode profiles the bank robber John Wojtowicz, who infamously (and as memorialized in Sidney Lumet's 1975 film DOG DAY AFTERNOON) held up a bank in 1972 to pay for gender-affirming surgery for Elizabeth Eden, his trans girlfriend. Or did he? We take a look, using the story to think through 1972 as a fault line for emerging attitudes about homosexuality and trans femininity, Wojtowicz' surprising involvement in early gay liberation activism in New York City, the DOG DAY AFTERNOON phenomenon and what it says about growing distinctions between gay men and trans women and how they were represented and compensated, and the ethical complications of Wojtowicz as a figure in history and in historical memory.

Tuesday Feb 22, 2022

Unusually for this show, which normally focuses on long departed historical figures, today we’re going to talk about someone who’s still very much in the news. Until last week, she was the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, London’s police force, and was the first woman and the first LBGTQ person to hold the rank, Dame Cressida Dick. Today, part two of two: we discuss Dick's tenure at the Metropolitan Police, the extrajudicial murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, Dick's cynical deployment of her identity to deflect critique, the spy cops scandal, the botched investigation into gay serial killer Stephen Port, the Met's dismal record on race, and the protests that finally forced Dick out.

Tuesday Feb 15, 2022

Unusually for this show, which normally focuses on long departed historical figures, today we’re going to talk about someone who’s still very much in the news. Until last week, she was the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, London’s police force, and was the first woman and the first LBGTQ person to hold the rank, Dame Cressida Dick. Today, part one of two: we begin telling Dick's life story and then delve into the history of the Met, its relationship with LGBTQ people, and the conflicting strands of LGBTQ politics that emphasize conflict vs collaboration with the police. Next week: more on Dick herself and her checkered career in the force.

Tuesday Feb 08, 2022

For a time, one of the world's most famous rock stars – singer of stadium rock anthems that still signify foot-stomping machismo – existed as an avatar of the most exuberant, feared, liberation-era forms of homosexuality: going from a 1970s long hair in skin-tight leotards cut to the navel to a Castro clone with a handlebar moustache who wore fisting T-shirts in his music videos. If the legacy of Mercury and his music often seems to smooth his work, and that of his band, Queen, into a sort of middle-aged, KISS FM everyday normality, here we lean into the contradictions of the charismatic man and the nuances of queer life in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tuesday Feb 01, 2022

A very special opera queen episode profiling an opera queen gone wrong: the Italian opera and film director (of 1968's famous Romeo and Juliet) who fought fascists as a partisan in the hills over Florence, mingled with Visconti and Cocteau and Marais and Chanel, and directed Callas in many of her mid-career triumphs before beginning to harden his style from lush realism to a celebration of set decoration above all. Zeffirelli, born at a time when the last composers whose works still fill the grand opera repertory were dying, faced, like all practitioners of the operatic arts in the 20th century, a choice between making living theatre or dead, ten-ton museum pieces. He chose the museum-piece approach and in so doing did tremendous artistic damage. CONTENT WARNING: THIS EPISODE DISCUSSES CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE AND RACIST LANGUAGE.

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