Every year in June, we are inundated in lists of queer content, and then suddenly bereft of them for the other eleven months of the year. On top of that, the lists are overwhelmingly filled with white queer folks and very few to no queer or trans people of color. It’s exhausting to make any kind of traction in white spaces, especially with everyone yelling about how “diverse” the podcast industry is. That’s why, for this Pride Month playlist, the Simplecast writing team focused solely on podcasts that are produced by or heavily feature queer and trans people of color.
But we also make a promise here: we will feature queer content year-round; we will feature content by podcasters of color year-round. You don’t need to cling to one list for the next eleven months. We’ve had that experience, and we refuse to have it anymore.
This playlist is written up by members of the Simplecast writing team and features both non-fiction and fiction (audio drama) podcasts!
CARAVAN is a Weird West audio adventure about going through hell with the people you love. Produced by Tau Zaman, this audio drama follows Samir’s discovery of a hidden supernatural world in the depths of a canyon. Nobody who makes it in makes it out, and nobody makes it though alone. I adore how CARAVAN explores building relationships and finding love in a world that doesn’t care about you. Samir may find himself in hell, but he also finds himself in hell, thriving in the lawless freedom of the canyon and truly becoming the hero of our story. CARAVAN excels in its depiction of the intersectionality of the queer identity. Our protagonist is bisexual/pansexual, but he’s also Desi, and through his narration the audience gets to see how interconnected those identities are. Samir is the lens we get the story from, and the podcast benefits greatly from his perspective. CARAVAN is a dark, sexy, unapologetic, and beautiful depiction of queer love, and I love the show for it.
Null/Void is a queer science fiction podcast miniseries created by the incredible Cole Burkhardt, a Black trans creator who has long been a jack-of-all-trades in the audio drama and tabletop RPG communities. It features a frank and thrilling look at capitalistic violence told through the lens of a woman named Piper working a dead-end job at a corporation she detests and the rogue A.I that helps her do everything she can to take its billionaire founding family down before they can do any further damage to their small town. Burkhardt’s entire cast and crew bring this world to dazzling life with a combination of powerhouse narration, atmospheric sound design, white-knuckled action, and compelling interpersonal drama. What’s most impressive about this show, during Pride month or any other, is how well it interconnects all of its seemingly disparate themes like queer love, suicidal ideation, found family, and marginalized identity alongside its headier and more fantastical driving plot. A perfect marathon listen for fans of shows like Mr. Robot, Killing Eve, and Altered Carbon.
FANTI—a portmanteau of “fan” and “anti”—is a podcast by jarrett hill and Tre’vell Anderson about the things we love… that don’t always love us back. Once a week, journalists jarrett and Tre’vell discuss everything from queerbaiting to religion to Lil Nas X with care and nuance.
A notable recent episode was “Fatphobia”, which discussed the inherent anti-Blackness of fatphobia with special guests Amber J. Phillips (writer, producer, and performer of Abundance) and Da’Shaun Harrison (author of Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness). Check it out and start to unpack those subconscious biases. (Note: Cassie Josephs works for Maximum Fun).
Jordan Cobb and Janus Descending are back with Descendants, the sequel series to one of modern audio's best horror dramas. Descendants brings us back to Earth, where a grieving executive is under pressure in the wake of the disaster that killed both his best scientist and his brother. Before there’s time to even begin unpacking any of that, a residue sample found at the scene turns out to be more than just a sample—and we’re again thrust into the start of a clash between human ego and aliens that only get more terrifying each time you hear them.
Only this time, they’ve come to us.
Cobb’s scripting is crisp and cinematic, while the show’s sound design hits just the right shade of creaky-creepy. Together, they lend the production an original-Jurassic-Park feel, complete with a monster that could out-screech the most daring dinosaur. I hadn’t realized how much I missed Janus Descending until Descendants dropped; in just two episodes, the latter manages to widen scope and raise stakes without losing the emotional heart of the original. Whether you’ve heard the original series or are new to the scene, you won’t regret tuning in.
I’ve been on a small actual play kick lately, and the queer-led Bad Heroes is my first real foray into a traditional high fantasy epic-style setting. The show follows a party unceremoniously recruited into a seek-and-return mission by a queen of an empire just a few shades away from Hell.
More striking than anything else is how lived-in the settings feel. While vampires and werewolves have the most screen time so far, the world is full to the brim with all manner of colorful creatures. Although each arc is fairly plot-driven, there’s an inviting depth to the non-player characters that makes PC decisions feel a lot more consequential. Small details, like the innkeeper’s kid who likes to play rogue by crawling around stealing jelly beans, offer just the right amount of grounding, and it’s clear the show values its NPCs as more than just assistants to the primary players.
Bad Heroes is thoughtful enough to have a recap episode (and associated transcript) of their first arc and interlude, so new listeners can either start from the top or jump in for the Wild Hunt, which is just about finishing up.
In Busy Being Black, Josh Rivers interviews queer Black folks about the facets of their lives that deserve illumination, gratitude, serenity, and uplifting. Rivers is an incredible interviewer, always giving grace and space to his guests, and drawing out their complex experiences with kindness and a wide breadth of knowledge. This episode with Da'Shaun L. Harrison (a Black and trans abolitionist, community organizer, and author of Belly of the Beast, as we mentioned previously; no, we will not stop talking about them) is a must-listen for folks who want to understand more about the reality of anti-fatness as anti-Blackness. As Rivers describes in the intro, Belly of the Beast elucidates that "to live in a body that is both fat and Black is to exist at the margins of a society that limits us in ways we may have never considered."
Rivers and Harrison together draw explicit parallels and timelines between Harrison's lived experiences with the theory, framework, and organizing that they have developed and continued to work within. Observations about the problems with representation as politics and the sinister machinations of diet culture and corporate greed lead to ways to change our policing of our own bodies, which are all tied up into purity culture, abstinence, bodily autonomy, and anti-Blackness. Rivers and his guests, embodied in this episode with Harrison, have magnetic energy as they trade ideas with each other, "yes, and" each other, and support each other.
Elena Fernández Collins
Small Victories continues one of my personal favorite trends in the indie audio drama community, by bucking genre conventions and allowing slice of life drama that’s rooted in reality to take you for a ride. Produced by Howard Alumna Jade M. Scott, it follows a recently sober drug addict who decides to find a new lease on life. The only problem is, her party obsessed past isn’t quite ready to let go of her yet. Broke, unemployed, and struggling with the anniversary of her brother’s death AND her inability to explain to her girlfriend where she’s been these last few weeks, Marisol moves through life with unearned confidence and biting wit.
This show is at turns hilarious, devastating, and heart pounding as she dodges prying questions from the people who care most about her, as well as the people looking to drag her right back down to rock bottom. No spoilers, but there’s one moment of structural genius in the season finale that gave me major Wandavision and Fleabag vibes in the absolute best way possible. You should stop what you’re doing and marathon this show if you’re a fan of Euphoria, I May Destroy You, or Insecure.
Flyest Fables, a series of interconnected stories centering around a magical book, is a masterpiece of story and sound. We start with Antoine, a young boy on the run from bullies who trips and finds a secret hidden grove. There, he discovers a beautiful book with his name on the cover and a story written inside—though when he later shows his book to the mother, she sees only a beat-up blank notebook. We follow the path of the book as it’s passed around to three people who desperately need to read its stories.
In each episode, we cut between the person currently reading the book in the real world (Antoine, a sixth grader tormented by bullies; Marcus, a former baker struggling with homelessness; Jada, a young girl dealing with her father’s cancer) and the protagonist of the special story that appears only to them (Princess Keisha, on a quest to save her mother; Devonay, a Gem Seeker with a hidden gift; Tyra and Latesha, two women trying to navigate their unspoken love for each other and a great danger threatening their kingdom). We watch as the characters all learn and grow together, slowly blossoming into the people they were truly meant to be.
Imara Jones is the founder of TransLash Media, a cross-platform media nonprofit and digital community that tells trans stories to save trans lives. In its flagship podcast founded in 2020, Jones discusses how to create a fairer world with trans folks and allies, talking candidly about transphobia and trans joy, pleasure and sadness. The episode below exemplifies TransLash's structure and thematic style, where Jones talks to the audience about relevant events and introduces the interviewee and their work with thorough appreciation. L. Morgan Lee is the first openly trans person to be nominated for a Tony for her role in A Strange Loop, and this conversation engages with the reality of being a Black trans person and what it's like to try and achieve momentum in the theatrical industry. (I honestly did start crying about fifteen minutes into this episode.)
This podcast often unpacks the horrors facing trans lives, as there is a concerted effort across the world to eradicate trans people; for instance, there are episodes dealing with the backlash against trans people after Uvalde and the relationship between abortion access and trans bodies and lives. Jones understands the urgency and the value of these conversations for both trans people looking for a place to be empowered and loved and for other members of the queer community to understand the depth and breadth of trans experiences. That's why these episodes are always expertly balanced with joy and excitement, with goodness and fire in the soul.
Elena Fernández Collins
InCo is a sci-fi story about a disgruntled information seller, a mysterious space boy, and an android doing her best. It’s a microfiction show with short episodes that pack a strong punch, full of witty dialogue and humor. What I love about InCo is the depth it goes to explore emotion. The characters are usually messy, making dubious decisions, hurting each other's feelings, and dealing with the consequences. But what else would you expect of a world that deals in secrets? InCo explores loss, grief, and love in all forms. It doesn't shy away from high stakes adventure nor the quiet, personal conversations in space, and it handles the balance between the two extraordinarily well. The central character, Nova NoStar, puts on a tough exterior, but as the show continues we see her lower her walls and build relationships. Found family stories are central to queer media, and too often aromantic and asexuals are left out of them. But not in InCo! Nova is canonically Aro-Ace, and she fits right into this story, messy love and all.