Everyone has some piece of art that has transformed their lives. It could be a podcast, book, movie or anything else – but chances are that you have something in mind right now. For me, I can easily split my life into two parts; There’s the time before I started listening to the folk-rock band The Mountain Goats, and then there’s now.
I even have a podcast that validates my obsession, I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats. On the show, Mountain Goats bandleader John Darnielle breaks down his own songs alongside author and podcaster Joseph Fink. The fanbase of the band and the show are largely like me – straight, white, and, male.
I’m far from the first to discover this, but there’s a lot of podcasts that follow this pattern. Podcasts by straight white men, celebrating the achievements of other straight white men.
To counter this – I recently went searching for a podcast from a different perspective. I quickly found, To L and Back, by Autostraddle.The website describes itself as “progressively feminist online community for multiple generations of kickass lesbian, bisexual & otherwise inclined ladies (and their friends).” On To L and Back, Autostraddle CEO Riese Bernard and author/activist Kristin Russo recap the mid 2000’s Showtime drama, “The L Word” – a rare TV show that explicitly depicted the lives of bisexual and lesbian women.
When I got the chance to interview Riese about her new podcast, she said that Kristin pitched the idea years ago. Unfortunately, they never found a way to get the show off the ground, as neither had time to fit a podcast into their busy schedules. Earlier this year, a reboot was announced, leading Kristin and Riese to revisit their idea and on April 8th they released their first episode.
Knowing nothing about the “The L Word”, I was curious about the show’s exact significance in Riese’s life. She says that, “It’s kind of embarrassing but the truth is that The L Word changed my life. With a few very rare exceptions, I’d never seen lesbian characters I could relate to on television and film and it gave me a window into the kind of life I could have that I’d not previously imagined possible.”
Her passion for The L Word also helped to shape her career as it is today. Her recap blog, “eventually lead to gigs with OurChart and Showtime,” and connected her to a like-minded friend group. Riese says that many of these friends eventually became the founding team at Autostraddle.
Despite “The L Word”, opening her eyes to lesbian culture, Riese says the the show has not aged well. “It definitely was not very racially diverse and had some very retro and problematic ideas about trans people.” But it’s not all bad as Riese says that, “most of it is poorly aged in a charming way rather than a messed up way. It’s still really fun and resonant.”
Ultimately, Riese enjoys watching the show. She describes re-watching the show with her BFF Kristin is, “definitely an ‘I’m so lucky to have this job’ moment.” To L and Back has just begun, but Riese has grand plans for the show’s future.
She hopes to bring in special guests who, “can bring insight to storylines that perhaps [she] never considered.” The podcast is developing even as early as next month, as Riese and Kristin are recording their first live show at A-Camp, a queer, “conference/camp/retreat combo.”
So if you love “The L Word”, or just some lively queer conversation, give To L and Back a listen and review the show on Podchaser!
Chasing Pods is a Podchaser blog series dedicated to letting our readers know about podcasts they may not have heard of or provide a sneak peek into the making of their favorite podcast. We talk to podcast creators about their journey into podcasting, the creation of their shows, the ups and downs of the work, and what they’re looking forward to for their podcast.
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