It’s our last Pride-related episode of 2021: Queer stuff to read and listen to.
We recorded this episode at the end of June, so we decided to talk a bit more about more of our queer (and queer-themed) faves. We have a ton of book recommendations to share, some podcasts to check out, a few video games, and a handful of queer miscellany.
This episode was produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas Nguyen. Our logo was designed by Amber Seger (@rocketorca). Our theme music is by Tiny Music. MJ Brodie transcribed this episode. Follow us on Twitter @OhILikeThatPod.
Things we talked about:
Rachel: Welcome to Oh I Like That, a podcast about things we like and occasionally things we don't. I'm Rachel Wilkerson Miller.
Sally: And I'm Sally Tamarkin.
Rachel: Good morning, Sally.
Sally: Hey, Rachel.
Rachel: How's it going?
Sally: It's going okay. I'd like to say it is first and foremost a Wednesday, quoting Rachel Wilkerson Miller.
Rachel: Yep. That is the vibe today, is Wednesday, not our usual recording day, but I've got a big weekend ahead so we had to get recording a little bit early and yeah. What's your Wednesday vibe, Sally?
Sally: My Wednesday vibe, I feel like it's very hard to feel anything on a Wednesday morning other than "it's hump day."
Rachel: Mm. [Laughs]
Sally: So, you know, I'm feeling like, let's just get through the middle of the week, cruise on into the weekend, you know, and feeling like that is sort of sad because it just reminds me of how much our lives are defined by late capitalism, but that is the reality in which we live.
Sally: And so I'm just going to lean into the hump day thing and, yeah. I mean, that's the vibe, the vibe is hump day. What's your hump day vibe, Rachel?
Rachel: Well, I guess I'm realizing as we're talking, I'm taking Friday off of work. So this is technically my Thursday, which means it's my Friday Junior. So the vibe is both hump day and Friday Junior, which is one of the best days of the week. I'm just really excited for the weekend because it is the last full weekend of Pride month, I've got another full weekend ahead. We're going to Drag and Drive on Friday night, which I'm really excited about. And then the rest of the weekend is a little bit up in the air because there's so much going on that we're going to kind of see how we're feeling and what friends are doing and how the weather is. We might get another beach day in if it's nice enough. But yeah, I think it's going to be great. This has been such a good Pride month. I'm just so happy. There's really something about getting back out there after a year. I think the fact that Pride is happening at the same time as we're able to start seeing people again has just made for a wonderful month. And I'm normally so introverted and hate doing things and I'm just loving life right now. So the vibe is great here.
Sally: Yeah. I'm experiencing a similar vibe in terms of like, I usually don't like doing things or seeing people, but I have back-to-back days of social things planned, which is very unusual for me.
Rachel: Same. Very unusual for me and I don't dislike it, which I think is in part because I'm seeing people I'm really excited to see and it feels like a totally different thing to go back into the world without having the obligation of being on the subway five days a week for starters, but then also just really prioritizing the people I'm excited to see and the things that I'm excited to do is a game changer. And it's not that I wasn't doing that before, and it's not that I'm like, oh, I've cut out everybody from my life. It's not that either. But there is something about the people I've been seeing, it just feels really good and exciting. I'm just like, wow, is this how it's going to just be now?
Sally: Yeah. Yeah, totally, I know. It's wild. I was looking at a map earlier -- when I say a map, I mean Google Maps -- because I'm going to an appointment later at a place I've never been. And I was like, maybe I'll take the bus there. Ooh, I can take two buses.
Sally: And I was getting so excited about just doing errands that otherwise would have felt like something that made me stop doing my real life so I could go to them. And now I'm just like, errands in real life. It's great. So yeah, I'm feeling similarly really good about things right now.
Rachel: That's great.
Sally: Man, what a positive vibe.
Rachel: I know, great way to start.
Sally: Should we just end? And that can be our nice thing to end on.
Rachel: [Laughs] We did it. That's it.
Sally: Thanks for tuning in, everyone.
Sally: Okay. So this is the last time that we're recording during June, aka Pride month. So we have one more episode of queer things. We're coming at you with a bunch more queer things. We're going to talk about books, we're going to talk about podcasts, and then kind of like a queer grab bag. I'm going to talk about some video games, some [inaudible] time. And we have I think sort of some overlap, but differences book-wise so I'm really excited. Will you please kick us off Rachel with your books?
Rachel: I will. So I will say that first of all, when we were working on this, I was like, I can't name a single book that I've read ever. I think when we're done with this episode, I'm probably going to think of ten more books that I'm going to be like, why didn't I talk about this?
Rachel: This is critical queer literature. But my mindset right now is beach reads, because it's summer, because it's been a long dark year, and because I don't really have the brain space for a lot of serious reading or difficult reading. So that's what I've been reading lately, that's what's top of mind. And I don't know, I'm excited to recommend these because everyone should be reading queer beach reads in the months of the summer. So the first book is not explicitly a beach read, but I read the entire thing on the beach and I can say it is a good beach read. And that is Beebo Brinker by Ann Bannon, which your partner Andrea gave me for our group chat's gift exchange. Wonderful pick. I felt very seen. And I'm glad that I saved it until now. So I took it to the beach with me a few weeks ago. It is a lesbian pulp novel.
Sally: One thing I like about this book is that the words Beebo Brinker tell you absolutely nothing about what's to come.
Rachel: Absolutely nothing about it. So Beebo Brinker is the main character. Her real name is Betty Jean apparently, but she couldn't say it when she was a kid, so she started calling herself Beebo. I just think that's funny that the author was like, I want this character to be named Beebo Brinker, so I need to come up with a reason that her name is Beebo Brinker. Beebo has become shorthand in our home for any number of things, because it's such a funny word. And so one thing about this main character is that she's very tall and big and they're constantly talking about her substantial size throughout the book. It's just like, "she towered over everyone", "she put a hand the size of a catcher's mitt on so-and-so's shoulder." So whenever somebody is just really tall and imposing, we're like, that's a beebo, but I also think of it as a gay bimbo, is a beebo.
Sally: So good. This book has already given us so many gifts.
New Speaker: [Laughs] Okay, so it was published in 1962. It is the last in a series, but it's actually a prequel to the whole series. And I'm glad that I read it first because a) it chronologically makes sense. But based on the other ones I read, I like this one the best. So Beebo is a small town girl who runs away from home and comes to New York City. She goes to the Village, she meets a man on the street, he turns out to be gay. She doesn't really know she's gay, or doesn't really know the word for gay, which is just a super interesting time and space to be in where somebody can be like, "I have all these feelings," and then somebody else being like, "Gay is the word for it," and the person being like, "Oh, huh, I didn't know." That's just interesting, but it's just one of those books where they're just telling you a story. They're telling you a story of what happens to Beebo after she gets to the city, and she just has little adventures and love affairs and kind of discovers herself. So it's a bit of a coming of age, but it's also, I don't know, it's a New York City story, which I love. And it's an easy read, but it's not terribly fluffy. It's that perfect blend of, I don't feel like this is the See Spot Run kind of a book, but it's not hard or complicated at all. And it gives a really interesting snapshot of what it was like, sort of, to be a queer person in the 1950s in New York. I mean, all the characters are white, so it's a very specific gay and lesbians, white New York City. But it's something I didn't know a ton about, and, I just enjoyed it so thoroughly. It was great.
Sally: This is now a Beebo Brinker fan cast. I'm so excited to read this. And the fact that it's a series and that this is the prequel is really exciting, because I like when authors get sort of weirdly precious about their chronology and they do things out of order or whatever. Yeah. It does sound like a very specific slice of life, white, queer, substantially sized tall people, but.
Rachel: [Laughs] Right.
Sally: White queer beebos. I am definitely going to get into this. I'm going to be spending a lot of time at the beach later this summer and maybe it's just going to be the summer of Beebo.
Rachel: I think that's great. I will say after I finished it, I was excited to read the others, so I messed up the order. So I read the second book in the series instead of the first one. I didn't like it as much because the main character in this one is just kind of a ninny. I just don't really like her very much. And then last night I discovered that she is in several of the other books because it's not like she's necessarily the main character, but there's overlap between all of them, so she's going to show up a few more times. So I'm kind of on the fence if I want to read the others, I'm not in a huge rush to read them, but Beebo is perfect. I loved it. And like we said in our last episode, a lot of lesbian pulp fiction required a tragic ending. This book does not have that.
Sally: Oh, that's great.
Rachel: Yeah. I'm sorry I'm going to spoil it, but I also feel like it's easier to enjoy it if you're not clenching worrying something terrible is going to happen. So there's drama, but it's not, you know, ending badly.
Sally: That actually reminds me of something that the person who transcribes all of our episodes, I don't know if you all know this, folks, because we don't talk about it, but we should. But all of our episodes are transcribed by an amazing person named MJ. And if you go to our Simplecast --
Sally: Yeah. Note to self, anyone starting a podcast on Simplecast, consider doing an acronym for your podcast name, because they're going to throw some dashes in there.
Sally: But yeah, you can get transcripts for all of our episodes at that website that Rachel just said, and I will put it in the show notes. But MJ, while transcribing the last episode sent a really good resource that I was just reminded of when you were talking about tragic queer stories. MJ says, "Does the Dog Die? which started off about one thing, hence its name, but is now an excellent, generally quite comprehensive list of user-submitted trigger warnings, has both 'Does a LGBT person die' and 'Are there homophobic slurs' as options on their website, which is useful when you're wading into an unknown queer film." Because I was thinking a lot of times when I want to read something that centers queer characters or a queer love story or something I'm like, do I really want to have a bummer time right now? And I don't know if I want to read it. And so I think that website that MJ recommended might just be for movies. But nevertheless, I don't feel spoiled when someone is like, "This is a queer book, not tragic, read it." You know, I think it's a good, nice little warning to have.
Rachel: Agree. All right, Sally, what's on your list first and foremost?
Sally: So I want to recommend a memoir by Carmen Maria Machado called In the Dream House. This book, like a bazillion people recommended it to me. It was a book that I saw a lot of queer people really being excited about online and stuff like that. And I finally got around to reading it over the pandemic and it's a really, really beautiful book. It is the author's memoir of being in an emotionally abusive relationship. And the book is both a memoir of the author talking about their experiences in this relationship, but it's also kind of an inquiry about the stereotype of relationships between women being safe and utopian. And Carmen Maria Machado talks a lot about trying to find resources for women in abusive romantic relationships with other women, and just really not being able to find that much. And she kind of ponders that and also delves into some kind of interesting historical context. She also does this thing which is really interesting where every chapter has its own narrative trope that it's exploring. It explores these common tropes in folklore. I don't really know how to explain it, in part because it's really hard to put words to and in part because I don't really know enough about literature to speak intelligently on it. But all I can say is that it's very beautiful, very sad. It's very queer, it's very challenging. And it's also just, you know, narratively, she's doing something really, really interesting and explorative, I feel like.
Rachel: Yeah, I loved this book when I read it. This does make me want to read it a second time, because I think the first time I read it I didn't exhale once, because I was just so gripped by the story she was telling and the way she was telling it. And I just thought it was fantastic. That's a great recommendation.
Sally: Yeah, I loved it. And I also want to read it again. I think it's something that, reading criticism of it and reading interviews with Carmen Maria Machado to understand what she was doing in the book in terms of form and then going back to read it would be really awesome. Especially for someone like me who doesn't, like I said, I don't really have the chops to fully understand the literary project other than to think it's really cool and interesting and engaging. What do you have next, Rachel?
Rachel: Okay. The next book, my list is called The Killer Wore Leather and it is a mystery that I was introduced to via an article that I edited for Vice with queer beach reads. So it's a mystery, but I wouldn't necessarily read this if you are a big consumer of mysteries and that's your shit right there and you love mysteries, because it's kind of not about that. It feels more like a farce where it's like something you'd see at a dinner theater, that kind of mystery where it's super over the top. The whole thing is set at a kink convention and takes place over a weekend in New York City, and it's just really funny and silly. The author is a queer woman who prior to this had written a bunch of gay romance novels, gay men romance novels under a pen name that were really successful. And has written for every queer website and has had a really long career. And it just has such a sense of humor. My only complaint is that there are a lot of characters to keep track of, and it kind of doesn't matter, but I wish I had started highlighting on first reference when new characters are introduced so I could easily go back and remember who they were, but it just is very gay, very silly, very light and funny, just a really good, this is to me a great summer read all around. I mean, anytime, but especially right now when you just want something light and joyful.
Sally: That's awesome. I feel like your recommendations on this podcast are just basically going to become my to-read list for the summer.
Rachel: Great. [Laughs]
Sally: That sounds awesome. And as someone who reads fantasy a fair amount, I'm used to there being a billion characters. And my strategy is to be like, my goal is to understand the gestalt of this story.
Sally: I am not going to know who all these people are, but I'm generally going to have a sense of what's going on. And I feel like that's an absolutely fine way to read fiction.
Rachel: Exactly. I'm just reminded that in this book, there's two characters named Boy Jack -- one is Boy Jack and one is Boi Jack, and they're best friends. And they sort of dress like... that's the kind of vibe of this is these two... this should have been a stage play or a movie. It's just so funny, and they're such a great cast that I want to see them all embodied and brought to life, but that probably won't happen. In the meantime, you should just read the book.
Sally: Nice. Yeah. Maybe we'll Kickstart that.
Sally: Oh I Like That Productions will make that.
Rachel: [Laughs] Wonderful. All right, what have you got next?
Sally: Okay. So my next thing is going to be the novel Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. It came out in 1998 and it was her debut novel. And I also just want to generally recommend the entire Sarah Waters oeuvre, which is generally really, really gay. However, I will say, I assumed that she only wrote queer books and I started reading a book and I was like, huh, I guess the queer stuff is going to get introduced later. And I kept reading, kept reading, and I was like, any minute now there's going to be some...
Rachel: [Laughs] Oh no.
Sally: And it absolutely wasn't. It was a ghost story, which...
Rachel: Oh, man.
Sally: Not for me. So, real bummer. But anyway, Tipping the Velvet takes place in England in the 1890s, it's kind of a coming of age story about this young woman who grows up in a small town, but moves to London after falling in love with a masher, which is someone who basically performs in drag, a drag king.
Sally: And I don't want to really spoil the story, but I will say that one line from the Wikipedia entry is: "The novel has pervasive lesbian themes, concentrating on eroticism and self-discovery." And I feel like that's all you have to know.
Rachel: All right. Yeah. Okay. "Pervasive lesbian themes." I hope that is one of the reviews of our podcast.
Sally: [Laughs] That would be incredible. My new Twitter bio.
Sally: Yeah, so I love this book because, I mean, it's historical fiction really, is what it is. And so the writing is really evocative. I think London, any urban area in the 19th century I think is interesting and I'm automatically interested. And I think that... [laughs] I've never read Charles Dickens, Rachel, but I assume that this is like that, but queer. You know, it's just very evocative of the lives of people in the city. And the main character goes on kind of a gender journey that's really interesting, and oof, Sarah Waters does not shy away from, you know, well, yeah. I mean, eroticism and self-discovery.
Sally: It's a really, really good book. It's I think probably my favorite of, I've read five of her novels and I think it's probably my favorite one. I do want to shout out to her book Fingersmith, which I didn't like as much, but there's a really good movie which I didn't mention on our last episode just because I just felt it was just too many movies, but the adaptation, it's a BBC adaptation. It's I think a two or three part movie, and it's really, really good.
Sally: And actually, I enjoy the movie Fingersmith more than I enjoyed the book. And on the other hand, I enjoyed the book Tipping the Velvet way more than the movie Tipping the Velvet, which is... I mean, it's real bad.
Sally: So I would not see that, but definitely read Tipping the Velvet, and, yeah. I'm going to revisit, I'm going to read it again. I think it's a real page-turner. And also I was really excited that there was a lot of stuff about gender and exploring gender and exploring gender both as a queer person and as a person in a romantic relationship. I was happy that that was coming up. It wasn't only about.. the main character's self-discovery wasn't only about sexuality, it was also a lot about gender.
Rachel: That seems great. Okay. I'm adding this to my reading list.
Sally: Yes. Please report back. What's next for you?
Rachel: Okay. I'm going to mention Casey McQuiston's two books. The most recent is called One Last Stop, and then the one before that was Red, White & Royal Blue, which came out two years ago and was a New York Times bestseller. They're both queer romance stories. One Last Stop is two women, one's bi, one's a lesbian. And I don't know how much I should -- I mean, a lot of it is kind of in the notes on the back of the book, but it is a time travel story, which I am a sucker for.
Rachel: And Casey McQuiston is just like, you're like, oh, you're a smart, thoughtful millennial who wrote a book and it shows. And I was reading an interview with her about this new one, and she talks a lot -- one of the things I loved about One Last Stop is that there are so many other queer characters in it. All the friends essentially are queer people too, which is really great because often you get like, okay, you can have your one or your two, but we've got to have enough straight people to balance it out. And this isn't that. And so it feels truer to real life. But I just want to read what she said to someone interviewing her for The Cut: "People always describe my books as wish fulfillment because of the fantastical romance elements and the happily-ever-after elements," she says. "But to me, wish fulfillment is, 'Imagine if I had managed to stumble into this beautiful queer ecosystem and was just absorbed into it' -- instead of what is more common for a lot of queer people, which is slowly patchworking that together over years and years." And I thought that was so interesting because I did read that and I was like, wow, I want a friend group like this where we do incredible things together, and I just happened to meet a drag queen who lives across the hall and now we're friends. And I hadn't really thought of, oh, that is one of the fantasy elements of this book, or the aspirational elements of this book, which I think is really interesting and true. But I also think it's helpful to treat it as such, to remember that yeah, all of this is heightened. It's easy to be like, well, the time travel, obviously that's not real, but everything else is, but no, there's other elements of this that are not necessarily the norm for everyone else. Which I thought it was so interesting that she focused on that, but it's great. Red, White & Royal Blue is great, could not put it down because it's just so... I think Red, White & Royal Blue is a more romcom because one of the people is the son of the President of the United States, and the other is a British Royal, it's so fantastical, where this is a little bit more grounded despite the fact that it is a time travel novel, but they're both just very fun, great, perfect beach reads, just joyful and sweet and lovely. They're worth reading.
Sally: I feel like I'm really behind on Casey McQuiston even though you've been recommending her stuff for a while, and I'm really into... Red, White & Royal Blue I haven't been interested in because I don't want to deal with a story about two men, one of them who's the son of the President, but I do want to deal with queer women who are time traveling. So I think I'm going to, no offense to queer men and sons of Presidents out there, but I think I'm going to start with One Last Stop.
Rachel: I will say that it's a little slower to start than Red, White & Royal Blue, but don't give up on it because it's worth sticking with.
Sally: Nice. Okay, I'm excited.
Rachel: What's your next one?
Sally: Okay. So continuing the through-line of queer memoir... actually, I don't know if this is really a memoir... anyway, let me just say what the book is. The book is On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and it's a novel, but also the main character who's the narrator who is called Little Dog. Little Dog's life has some things in common with the author's life, which is why I was thinking of it as a memoir. Little Dog is born in Vietnam, flees with his mother to the Philippines as refugees, and eventually comes to the United States to Hartford, Connecticut, which is I think is more or less Ocean Vuong's early childhood experience as well. And the book is a letter from Little Dog to his mother, who can't read. And the book, Little Dog talks about his life at home with his mom, his experience with... I really don't want to spoil anything, but there's a lot there about Ocean Vuong -- I keep doing that -- about Little Dog's sexuality, about masculinity, about the trauma of war over generations, and the many, many ways that trauma can show up. I'm saying that, I don't know. I feel I'm sort of projecting that onto the book, but I think that's a major theme, in my estimation. It's really, really beautiful. There's a lot of stuff in it that's really tough and really sad. Ocean Vuong is a poet, and the book reads like poetry, even though it's technically not poetry. I don't really know what the difference is between poetry and not poetry. This book may as well be poetry. It's really beautiful, it's very lyrical. And it's kind of one of those books that's so evocative and beautiful and poetic that you're sort of like, how is someone doing this and also telling a cohesive story? Because you know, Little Dog is talking about his life, he's talking about his memories, he's talking about his mother's life in Vietnam. So there is a definite story, but it's all just so beautifully written and so evocative.
Rachel: That sounds great. I've heard nothing but good things about this book. I see it at the bookstore all the time and I just need to get it and finally read it.
Sally: Yeah, I highly recommend it.
Rachel: My next one is a book called Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. It's just a straight up novel. It is really, really great. I don't know how else to describe it, except this is a great book. It's just delightful, it's quick pace, but it's smart, it's funny. It centers on a woman who is nannying two children who spontaneously combust when they are upset or angry or crying. Like, they burst into flames, the fire has to be put out. But it just is a great novel built around this sort of out there premise, and the main character is queer. It's not as queer as some of the other things we're recommending here, but still a wonderful summer read or anytime read. I just thoroughly enjoyed it. My girlfriend read it too, and we were both just like, this book rocks. This is such a good, solid book. So definitely worth reading if you haven't read it yet.
Sally: Oh, that's amazing. I'm definitely getting into it. I don't have any more books because apparently I don't read as much as I watch things or play video games, but I just want to note so that no one makes the same mistake I made reading a Sarah Waters novel that is not gay in any way: that book is called The Little Stranger.
Rachel: The gay one -- or the not gay one, sorry.
Sally: The not gay one.
Sally: If you want to read a ghost story set in a dilapidated mansion in the 1940s in England, then go for it. But don't go there expecting anything queer. I just wanted to do some public service so that no one falls victim to the same fate that I did.
Rachel: That's very smart [laughs]
Sally: So yeah. What are the rest of your books, Rachel?
Rachel: Well, I wanted to mention JP Brammer's new book, which is based on his column ¡Hola Papi!, which is fantastic. He's I feel like one of the most beloved people on the internet, he's the only funny person on Twitter.
Rachel: No offense, Sally, but JP Brammer is the funniest person on Twitter.
Sally: It's just a fact.
Rachel: Yeah. He's so good on Twitter and the book is really lovely. I just really like him. He's just, he's a good person. I've enjoyed working with him at Vice here and there, and I just think he's great. And the book is lovely, it's moving. There was an essay that ran from it I believe on GQ that was going around that we can link to, to give you kind of a taste of what it's like, but it's funny and it's sweet and it's about, you know, being a person of color in Oklahoma and also gay, and it's about identity and coming of age and feeling like the odd person out. And it's wonderfully done, I'm really happy for him that this book is out in the world.
Sally: That's awesome. I haven't read this yet. I mean, I've read a lot of ¡Hola Papi! entries and I read that essay that you're talking about, and I am sort of astounded at the fact that he is really hilarious on Twitter and then also writes the most moving, sensitive, insightful, human shit about feelings and life and queerness. It's astounding. Yeah. He's a delight. I look forward to reading that book.
Rachel: Okay, so my last recommendation for books is again keeping with my theme of queer beach reads, and also this campy summer of Showgirls and all these other things, and that is Valley of the Dolls, which is both... there are some queer scenes in it, but that's not necessarily the first and foremost what's going on in this book, but it's also one of those things that feels beyond that, spiritually queer, because it's just so campy and funny and weird. And I reread it regularly. It's one of the only books I reread regularly. And it to me is a perfect, when summer hits I'm like, it's time. It's time to reread Valley of the Dolls. It's just a good story of people in Hollywood that feels juicy. I feel like in the summer you want to read things that are juicy and sort of gossipy, and that's what this is, and it delights me. The movie is awful. I was very disappointed by it. The movie is camp in kind of a bad way, but I love this book, and so that gets an honorable mention on the list for me.
Sally: Nice. You know, I have read that, but it was a really long time ago. I think I might've been in high school or college and I remember being really taken with it. I'm sure I didn't really understand everything that was going on, so I should reread it, but it definitely seems campy and great, and just a delightful romp.
Rachel: It's great. Yeah, it's wonderful. We also got a listener email with a couple of recommendations. Sally, do you wanna read it?
Sally: I would love to. "Hi, Rachel and Sally. Happy Pride month. Just listened to your new episode on my lunch break and loved everything you had to say about corporate Pride, no. Cops at Pride, yuck. Kink at Pride, obvs. And boundaries for allies, more please. My recent queer faves are a book called Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner -- a high-powered closeted lesbian Hollywood exec and her bi PA secretly in love with each other but can't do anything about it -- and a poem called Warming Her Pearls by Carol Ann Duffy. Both are super filled with my favorite queer emotion: yearning. Can't wait for next week's episode. Love Francesca." So thank you, Francesca. We will link to all those things in the show notes, and I cannot wait to read that book.
Rachel: Okay, well, funnily enough, last night I finished the second Ann Bannon book that I had read and was like, okay, what next? And I was just like, oh, I can't figure out what to read. So I went to Autostraddle and found their best queer books from 2020 and was just going through them and clicking through each one. And without even kind of realizing it, Something to Talk About was one of the books on the list, and so I probably added eight or nine samples to my Kindle and this was one of them. I read the sample this morning. It's really good so far, I think I'm going to get the whole book and keep reading it. Because it just is, it's a romance. It's exactly what it sounds like, you know what I mean? It's great so far, I'm really excited. So I think this is actually going to be the next book that I read. So great recommendation, Francesca. Thank you.
Sally: Yes. Thank you, Francesca. I have to say I'm so excited not just to have great things to read, but to remove from my life the intense anxiety and analysis paralysis of choosing what to read next. So I feel like we've given ourselves and each other a real gift here.
Rachel: Yeah, it's great. All right. Well those are the books we've got. Do you want to talk podcasts now?
Sally: Let's talk podcasts. I'm a little... for someone who listens to a lot of podcasts, I feel like I'm sort of low on podcasts to recommend. I just have two. But the first one is called The Bright Sessions, and this is audio drama, I guess, audio fiction. And I just relistened to it actually, and it's... man, do I love it. It's about a therapist who works with atypicals, which are people who have kind of a superpower. And this is just one of those, The Bright Sessions and then also there are a couple of spinoff shows -- you can go to atypicalartists.com and check out all the spinoff shows. I've only listened to some of them, but I liked them all, but Bright Sessions is my favorite. But the Bright Sessions world is just, there's just a lot of... a character will be introduced and they'll just be queer. And it's not like a whole fucking todo about them, it just is a fact that more often than not, when a character is introduced, they're queer or bi or gay identified or whatever. And that means that the stories that get told about their lives, you know, them being queer is part of those stories and also not. It's just really refreshing because it's like, what if this was just a normal thing in life? Which feels weird to say in the Year of our Lord 2021. But I do feel like when I watch a new TV show or listen to a new podcast or whatever, it is a surprise when characters are just casually queer and it's not a whole thing. So yeah, The Bright Sessions is really delightful and the plot is really fun. It's suspenseful and interesting, but also there's some really good and serious emotional beats. So I would recommend The Bright Sessions.
Rachel: That seems great. I had never heard of it, but I'm excited to find out more about it.
Sally: Yeah, man. What about you podcast wise? Okay. My first rec is the podcast Nancy, which was produced by WNYC and actually stopped recording episodes or stopped publishing episodes in June of 2020. So there's a limit on how much you can listen to, but it's one of those where there's a huge back catalog, so I highly recommend it if you just want something nice and queer to listen to. But I want to specifically recommend the episode Return to Ring of Keys, which is, they did an episode called Ring of Keys, a reference to a song in Fun Home, the musical based on Alison Bechdel's graphic novel. The main character is a little girl, she's in, I think a diner with her father, and this older lesbian walks in and has a ring of keys on her belt, and the little girl is so taken with it. It's a beautiful song, it's really moving. So they did an episode about sort of seeing that person when you were a little kid that made a light go off in your brain. And this return episode is the host or the person who's leading this episode is trying to track down the person who was that for her. It is so moving, you'll cry. It's great. I love this episode so much. It's such a good, just a feel-good episode to listen to.
Sally: Yeah. I think I listened to this episode and I mean anything where someone is going back and investigating a thing they remember I'm pretty much a sucker for, but make it a queer coming of age thing and then just forget about it. I'm all in. But it's been a long time, I don't think I've listened since it came out. So I'm definitely going to relisten. That's a great rec.
Rachel: Awesome. All right, what's your next one?
Sally: My next one is called Sweetbitter. This is a podcast that is basically all about, well, season one is all about Sappho and understanding the historical context that Sappho was writing in, what scholars make of Sappho. It's an investigation of obviously all kinds of queer themes. And season two is going to be about the history of queer and woman pirates, which is really cool.
Rachel: Interesting, okay.
Sally: Which I'm excited about. I totally just thought this entire podcast was all about Sappho. But I've only listened to a few episodes of the first season and I liked them all, but they're very dense with like, they talk to scholars who study Sappho or who study ancient Greece. This is a very deeply reported podcast, and so I've listened to it when I'm in the mood for something where I can fully concentrate and I don't want to miss anything. But there's also, they read a bunch of poetry from Sappho and they kind of deconstruct it and take it apart. And I don't know, it's just really interesting to understand more, not just about Sappho's life, but also the controversy surrounding her work. So very sapphic [laughs], very interesting and I'm learning a lot, so I highly recommend it.
Rachel: Nice. This sounds great. I hadn't heard of this one either, and this sounds fantastic.
Sally: Yeah, it's a good one. What else do you have, Rachel, podcast wise?
Rachel: Okay, I wanted to recommend two episodes of You're Wrong About, which is a really excellent podcast that just basically takes big events from history or pop culture and goes back through them with a 2020 or 2021, a modern lens. The two episodes I want to recommend are The Stonewall Uprising, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's just about Stonewall and what happened and why it happened. And it's a great primer on why we have Pride and how we got here, and it really makes the point clearly that this was about police harassment and that is what this is about. And I think it's really important to have that top of mind when we are talking about things like cops at Pride, the cops were directly responsible for Stonewall and that is necessary to know. So I love this episode. And then the other one is Kitty Genovese and "Bystander Apathy", which I did not realize was a queer story. I think most people don't, that's a big You're Wrong About. And so it's kind of the urban legend of it all, it didn't happen like people say it happened, but also this is a story about queer people and cops and getting help and community and all those things again. And so I really think it's worth a listen, I learned a lot from this one and really, really... I really appreciated it, I don't want to say I liked it, because it is a sad story, but I really appreciated it.
Sally: That's awesome. I haven't listened to that episode, but I definitely will. I learned about Kitty Genovese in college, in a sociology class. And the story was the one that I think we were all taught, which is the whole bystander apathy thing. And then when you learn about kind of the real story, it's like, man, they really lie to us about everything don't they?
Rachel: They really just, they fucking lie about everything.
Sally: Yeah. There's a documentary called The Witness, it's from 2015 and it's about Kitty Genovese and kind of the myths and misconceptions of her murder. I don't know if it was made by her brother, but her brother is kind of the main character of the documentary and it picks apart a lot of the stuff that you're talking about. And I found it really interesting. Definitely a raw, tough watch, but a good one. We'll put that in the show notes.
Rachel: Yeah, for sure. Okay, well that's all I've got for podcasts. So I think the rest of our list is just kind of a grab bag of things that we like and let's jump right in. What have you got first on your list?
Sally: Okay. I want to mention three Instagram accounts that I really like. One is @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y, there are underscores between each letter of the word, @sapphic.arthistory and @queerloveinhistory. Those are all great accounts to follow for historical queer content and queer art and stuff like that. And most of those accounts tend to post a lot of information and history about what they're showing you, which I really, really like. Particularly @queerloveinhistory, you'll see pictures of couples and then stories about who they are and stuff like that, which is awesome. @sapphic.arthistory is just a whole bunch of Sapphic art over the ages and from various countries and cultures. So yeah, those are just great unobtrusive follows to just have in your feed.
Rachel: Nice. Okay, cool. I'm not sure if I follow all of them, so I'm going to make sure I do after this. I wanted to mention Ash + Chess, which is a clothing brand. They make t-shirts, like graphic tees, and stickers and greeting cards and art. Just kind of like a gift shop, but it's a couple who lives in Bed-Stuy I want to say, and they are queer and really thoughtful, and I've ordered quite a few shirts from them. They've got a really fun, colorful aesthetic. They are really just vocal about trans rights and supporting trans people. And I don't know, I really like their stuff, and this came to mind because we had talked about mentioning in one of our earlier episodes about if you're going to buy Pride merch, try to buy from a queer-owned brand versus like a Walmart, if you can. And this is the brand that came to mind for me. And not all of their stuff is overtly queer, they have one t-shirt that says "everybody is a good body", so it's just, it covers a big range of stuff, but I think they're great. So totally worth checking out if you want to buy something for yourself or you're looking for a gift or you just want a good follow on Instagram.
Sally: That's awesome. I'm definitely going to follow them, and now probably buy a bunch of stuff from them. So kind of related, my next grab bag item is the store Automic Gold, which actually is a storefront in Chelsea, in New York City. I think it's closed for the pandemic, but I've gotten stuff from them just online, and we'll put a link in the show notes. This is a queer- and trans-owned jewelry store. And they have some really cool ethics that I'm really into, like they don't Photoshop models, they have models that are diverse in size, they use a lot of non-cis and non-white models for their jewelry, everything they make is reclaimed, all their gold is reclaimed. It's totally self-funded, they don't take money from investors, they never have sales because their stuff is priced fairly. And I've gotten a few earrings from them -- they also sell earrings and singles, which is awesome -- and when you go to their site, you just see just a lot of cool queer and gender non-conforming people wearing all kinds of really cool jewelry. That's the thing, is their jewelry is also just really cool and interesting and beautiful and feels sort of genderless in an awesome way. Or maybe not genderless, but all just non-gender, I don't know how to say it, but I really, really like the company from what I can see about them online, and I love their jewelry. So definitely buy some really nice jewelry from a queer- and trans-owned store.
Rachel: Yeah. Their stuff is great. I don't own anything from them, but I've looked at it many times. It's really nice.
Sally: Okay, so what is your next grab bag item, Rachel?
Rachel: Well, I think this is on both of our lists, and that is the website Autostraddle, which is... okay, so Autostraddle is a website that's been around since 2009. It's a space for lesbians and queer people. It is, I don't know. It's kind of just my go-to if I have a question about something or want to see an informed take on something happening in pop culture. But if I want to discover something new, I go to Autostraddle. You know, when I first discovered I had a crush on my coworker and was really nervous, but was refusing to type anything into Google, I just went to the Autostraddle sex category and was like, I'm just going to flip through this until I find what I need. And that is you know, a non-committal way, leaving no trail of evidence behind, to find... I didn't find it, which is why I finally wrote the article I had been looking for. But on the whole they have a great sex section, they have really great advice and service content, and it's just very fun. They have a good community, the comments are good. You can also become a paying member, which I do. It's like, I think $6 a month to support a really great queer- and trans-run website that is just, I don't know, to me is part of the queer but especially queer female internet. It's just a home base to me.
Sally: Say the name of the article you wrote, Rachel.
New Speaker: The article is "The 'straight' woman's guide to hitting on women for the first time", I think is where we landed with the headline.
Sally: Yeah it is.
Rachel: You know the article. You all know the article.
Sally: Yeah. You know it out there. I just wanted to make sure you said it because it's a really good one. We'll link it in the show notes. Yeah. Autostraddle is the best, and the thing I love about Autostraddle, I mean, their content's great. They do great criticism and reviews of media that is just fun to read. But the other thing is that if you ever are Googling queer books to read, queer movies to watch, you'll get these big roundups from Autostraddle. And the thing I really like about that is the people that write for Autostraddle are queer-identified and think about race and think about gender and they're going to provide thoughtful recommendations and not recommend, you know, if time.com, I don't even know if this exists on time.com, but if time.com does a roundup of queer movies, don't go to their roundup.
Sally: Because who knows what they have on there. Go to the Autostraddle roundup.
Rachel: I completely agree. Yeah. It's just, it's fun. It's just a fun place to go discover new things, and they do a lot of link outs too, where they just do little roundups of things they're reading and recommending, and so you can really discover other things, you know, other queer essays and things to watch and read. So yeah, it's great. I highly recommend it. All right, Sally, what's next on your list?
Sally: So my next recommendation is Paging Dr. Lesbian, which is a weekly newsletter. I believe the person who writes it is named Kira Deshler.
Sally: And every week it's kind of a new deep dive into some aspect of quote-unquote 'lesbian culture'. The last installment was about sword lesbians. And basically, there's also one that was about Rachel... Rachel Weisz? Is that how you say her last name?
Rachel: I think it's Weisz.
Sally: Rachel Weisz. That one was called Anatomy of a Lesbian Icon. And she just basically does these kind of deep dives on things we understand to be culturally lesbian and kind of explains where they come from, what the context is. I think that what she's doing is really helpful for people like me who are kind of aware that there's a thing going on, but a lot of it is happening on maybe Tumblr or TikTok, and so I don't really fully understand it. And she brings all of that stuff in and it's always really interesting.
Rachel: Yeah. I subscribed a few weeks ago after you recommended it, and have been reading a bunch of older installments of it, and I think it's great. It is really rigorous in covering things and thoughtful and also just fun. And usually at the end, I think there's kind of a grab bag section where she just is kind of like, here's some other things that people are talking about right now, which I always love when people do that.
Sally: Totally. Yeah. And I just was looking at Kira Deshler's Twitter feed and it's called Paging Dr. Lesbian, and then the tagline is "dispatches from the lesbian internet and beyond" which I think is a very perfect summation.
Rachel: Yeah. Agree. All right, well that's all I've got on my list, Sally. Do you want to take us out with the rest of yours?
Sally: Yeah, I just want to mention a few video games. I have not played as many of the kind of iconic queer video games as I wish I had, but I just want to shout out some honorable mentions here. Gone Home is a game, I'm pretty sure you can play it on mobile. You don't have to be a gamer to play it. This is a game where you play someone walking around a house, reading various documents and learning about the people who lived there. And it's really good. It's very sweet, a little bit melancholic, and I highly recommend people check it out. I don't really want to spoil it, but it's about queerness and adolescence and coming of age and so on. The Walking Dead by Telltale is based on the, I guess the comic book or the TV show, I'm not really sure because I've never seen either, but I love the Walking Dead video games. This is another video game that you do not have to be a gamer to play. Again, you are walking around, clicking on things basically, and making decisions that push the narrative of the story forward. And I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that the queer content is, you're going to have to wait for it. There's a lot of installments of this, but I think it really pays off. I think it's really worth it. And I also wouldn't recommend it if I didn't love this. This is probably my favorite video game of all time.
Sally: Yeah. And it's like, you know, sometimes I would like to sit down with my partner, Andrea, and she would watch as I played and make decisions with me. It's a video game you read, kind of, so. And it's not, there's zombies and stuff like that, but I don't think it's scary. I don't like scary stuff, so don't be thrown off by the fact that it's like The Walking Dead. The main character is a young woman named Clementine who, when the series starts she's a little kid, and then by the end she's a teen. Or an... yeah, a teen. And boy is it great, and I highly recommend it. So the two video games Life is Strange and Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, which is the sequel to Life Is Strange, but the prequel chronologically.
Sally: In Life Is Strange, again, this is a game where you walk around and do a bunch of stuff. It's a little bit more video gamey than the other two I just recommended, but not by much. In Life Is Strange you play Max, she is a student in high school in the Pacific Northwest. And she has this very cool superpower, and you use that to kind of learn more about what's happening in this town and what's unfolding and potentially sinister things. And there are some hints that Max and her friend, who's also a young woman, were sort of in love or something, but it's not really explicitly talked about. But in Before the Storm, Max's best friend's life and queer relationship and queerness is much more deeply explored. And I shed a few tears playing that game. It's really, really lovely. And I recommend both of those games. And then there's a game called The Last of Us, which is a really well-known PlayStation game. And it's about zombies. This one is definitely more video gamey. You're sneaking around killing zombies and trying not to die, but there is a DLC for The Last of Us called Left Behind where you learn kind of the backstory of one of the main characters of The Last of Us. And that backstory includes her falling in love with her friend and her friend falling in love with her and their little love story that is really cute and also really tragic. So these games are real violent and they will fuck you up, so proceed with caution. And the other game is The Last of Us II, which I feel sort of obligated to mention because there's a queer relationship that's sort of at the center of this game. I didn't really love the game, but it feels weird to talk about The Last of Us: Left Behind and not talk about Last of Us II, because there's so much more queer stuff going on in Last of Us II. But I feel you can skip that and just play The Last of Us: Left Behind, and you won't be sad. You won't be missing anything.
Sally: Yeah. So those are my video games and I command that some of you play them, even if you don't play video games, because I think particularly Gone Home and The Walking Dead would be enjoyable. Okay. So that does it for our grab bag. Let's keep it moving. Rachel, what is your nice thing to end on?
Rachel: My nice thing to end on is McLeod Farms peaches, a box of which is arriving today. These are just the best peaches I've ever had in my life. The platonic ideal of a peach. And I look forward to them every summer and this summer they introduced something new where you can basically kind of subscribe, so you'll get five boxes throughout the summer. And they're slightly smaller boxes, which is great because we would get one box and it would kind of be, you know, how many of these do we share or do we use them in recipes or do we just eat them all? So I'm really excited that they'll be coming frequently throughout the summer, that'll be easier to share when we have people over visiting when we've gotten a box. So I just got the email that they're out for delivery and I'm just so delighted. What a great thing.
Sally: Hell yeah, I ordered those last summer. They were so good. So my nice thing to end on, I wasn't really sure if I should include it because it's going to sound not nice, but I swear it is. It is the subreddit called r/hobbydrama. And this is a subreddit where people will just basically chronicle usually pretty deep detailed dives of controversy that is going on in the hobby or the fandom that they are a part of. And a really fun thing to do is to just go to the subreddit, sort by best posts of all time or top posts of all time, and just read really amazing, well reported, exhaustive chronicles of various controversies in different fandoms. I've read these really awesome deep dives on fandoms that I just have no background in and no interest in whatsoever. Things about comic books or music related things. There was one about the color world and the paint world that was really interesting.
Rachel: Okay. Is it about the black?
Rachel: Okay, I know this one.
Sally: Amazing, amazing.
Rachel: The color black that is very controversial.
Sally: Yes, exactly. I just learned a ton about that, I learned a ton about the TV show Supernatural and its controversial ending and all this stuff. And last Friday night, I just sat down with my phone, I sorted by top posts and I just read for hours. It's really, really, really fascinating. And I really recommend it when you're in the mood for something that is substantive, but not usually that heavy. Occasionally of course, the drama in someone's hobby or fandom is that someone ihas said something terrible about the Holocaust or something. But for the most part, I feel they're not so heavy that they're going to kind of derail your night.
Rachel: Yeah, I agree. That sounds like a great Friday night. I love stumbling across something that you can just totally have a rabbit hole into and yeah, it's fairly low stakes, ultimately.
Sally: That's what it is.
Rachel: It's people who really care about the thing, and so it's a perfect combo and it's very fun to read.
Sally: Yes. That's such a good way of putting it. All right. So that's it. Thank you for listening to this episode of Oh I Like That. Please do rate us and review us wherever you are listening to this podcast.
Rachel: You can also follow us on Twitter @ohilikethatpod or email us at email@example.com. You can also follow the two of us. I'm @the_rewm and Sally is @sallyt.
Sally: Oh I Like That is produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas. Amber Seger, who is @rocketorca on social media, designed our logo.