LGBTQ+ Authors on the Free Library Podcast

By Jason F. RSS Thu, June 8, 2023

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month and the Free Library’s Author Events program has an extensive archive of podcasts and videos to help you celebrate a diverse range of writers working across a wide array of topics and fields.

Before we look back at some of our previous authors, check out a few upcoming events that will feature LGBTQ+ speakers. On Tuesday, June 27 we’re hosting Christian Cooper and Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World, and on Tuesday, August 8 we welcome R. Eric Thomas and Congratulations, the Best Is Over!: Essays.

And now, to honor and celebrate Pride Month, a curated list of ten LGBTQ events. You can certainly find many more here.


Here are audio podcasts and video links to five LGBTQ+ events we’ve hosted in the last year or so:


Eileen Myles | A “Working Life”

Recorded April 25, 2023

“Unflinching but also irrepressibly humorous” (The New York Times Book Review), Eileen Myles is the celebrated author of nearly two dozen books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, plays, and performance pieces, including Pathetic Literature, For Now, Chelsea Girls, I Must Be Living Twice, The Irony of the Leash, and Afterglow (a dog memoir). Their lengthy list of honors includes a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, election to the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Clark Prize for Excellence in Art Writing, and an Andy Warhol/Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant. Peering into the miracles hidden in our daily ablutions, A “Working Life” is a poetry collection that seeks to engage with our often-subsumed senses of mortality, fear, and wonder.

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast or the Author Events YouTube page.


George Lakey | Dancing With History: A Life for Peace and Justice

In conversation with Varshini Prakash

Recorded November 15, 2022

Active in grassroots campaigns for social change for more than seven decades, sociologist and Quaker organizer George Lakey was first arrested at a civil rights demonstration in 1963 and most recently arrested just last year during a march for climate justice. At 84, he only recently retired from Swarthmore College, where he was the Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change. He is the author of several books, including Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right—and How We Can, Too; How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning; and Are We Done Fighting?: Building Understanding in a World of Hate and Division, which he co-wrote with Matthew Legge. His many honors include the Peace Educator of the Year Award, the Paul Robeson Social Justice Award, and the Martin Luther King Peace Award. A memoir about the struggles and triumphs of a life spent on the front lines of social movements, Dancing with History tells the story of Lakey’s singular life.

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast or the Author Events YouTube page.


Hugh Ryan | The Women's House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison

In conversation with Sayeeda Rashid, Director of the Center for Gender Resources and Sexual Education at Haverford College

Recorded June 23, 2022

Hugh Ryan is the author of When Brooklyn Was Queer, a “boisterous, motley … entertaining and insightful” (The New York Times Book Review) analysis of the famous borough’s LGBTQ+ history from the 1850s to the present. Winner of a New York City Book Award and a New York Times Editors' Choice, it was a finalist for the Randy Shilts and Lambda Literary Awards. Ryan earned the 2020 Allan Berube Prize from the American Historical Association and residencies or fellowships from Yaddo, The Watermill Center, the New York Public Library, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. In The Women’s House of Detention, he examines the history of the United States’s current crisis of incarcerating queer and transgender people through the story of the notorious mid-20th century Manhattan prison that held tens of thousands of women, transgender men, and gender-nonconforming people.

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast or the Author Events YouTube page.


Raquel Salas Rivera | antes que isla es volcán / before island is volcano

In conversation with Cynthia Dewi Oka

Recorded April 11, 2022

The 2018–19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, Raquel Salas Rivera is the author of five full-length books of poetry. These poetry collections include lo terciario/the tertiary, longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry and winner of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry; while they sleep (under the bed is another country), longlisted for the 2020 Pen America Open Book Award; and x/ex/exis, winner of the inaugural Ambroggio Prize. The recipient of a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a grant from the Mellon Foundation, he serves as the principal translator for El proyecto de la literatura puertorriqueña/ The Puerto Rican Literature Project. In his latest poetry collection, Salas Rivera imagines a future decolonized Puerto Rico.

Originally from Bali, Indonesia, Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Fire Is Not a Country (2021) and Salvage (2017) from Northwestern University Press, and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (2016) from Thread Makes Blanket Press. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, POETRY, Academy of American Poets, Hyperallergic, Guernica, The Rumpus, ESPNW, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Leeway Foundation's Transformation Award and the Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, she is currently Poet in Residence at the Amy Clampitt House.

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast or the Author Events YouTube page.


Harvey Fierstein | I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir

In conversation with comedienne, actor, and author Catherine "Cat" Cohen

Recorded March 13, 2022

An acclaimed playwright, screenwriter, and actor, Harvey Fierstein is the Tony Award–winning author of Torch Song Trilogy and La Cage aux Folles. His play A Catered Affair was nominated for 12 Drama Desk Awards and he received Tony nominations for Kinky Boots, Newsies, and Casa Valentina. He won Tonys for his performance in the Torch Song Trilogy and as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. Fierstein has appeared in dozens of films and television shows, including Mrs. Doubtfire, Independence Day, Cheers, and The Good Wife, and he has voiced animated characters in Mulan, The Dark Crystal, and Big Mouth, among many others. In I Was Better Last Night, he reveals details of his personal trials and triumphs, explores his status as a cultural icon and gay rights activist, and reflects on his best-loved roles and writings.

Catherine "Cat" Cohen hosts the weekly cabaret show at Alan Cumming’s East Village venue, Club Cumming, and co-hosts the popular weekly podcast Seek Treatment with Pat Regan. Her Netflix comedy special The Twist…? She’s Gorgeous will hit screens on March 15, and last year she joined the cast of the FX series What We Do in the Shadows. Winner of the best newcomer title at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, she recently published her first book with Knopf, titled God I Feel Modern Tonight, a collection of comedic poetry.

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast or the Author Events YouTube page.


And here are five more terrific LGBTQ+ events from our extensive archive:


Sarah McBride | Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality

In conversation with State Representative Brian K. Sims, former staff counsel for policy and planning at the Philadelphia Bar Association. Sims recently stepped down as both the president of the board of directors of Equality Pennsylvania and as chairman of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP).

Recorded June 7, 2018 

Sarah McBride made history in 2016 as the first openly transgender American to address a major party convention. Also one of the first transgender people to work at the White House, she helped influence the Obama administration’s stances on trans issues, served as an aide to Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, and currently serves as National Press Secretary at the Human Rights Campaign. McBride’s trailblazing story has been featured in a variety of periodicals, including The New Yorker, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and Cosmopolitan. Tomorrow Will Be Different takes a deep dive into her tale of love, loss, and accomplishment as a doorway to a larger discussion of identity and LGBTQ rights.

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast or the Author Events YouTube page.


Jason Baumann | The Stonewall Reader with Mark Segal, Karla Jay, and Joel Hall

Recorded June 20, 2019 

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the riots that started the fight for American LGBTQ+ rights, The Stonewall Reader highlights some of the movement’s most iconic moments and figures in the years before and after those tumultuous events. Assembling archival research and first-person accounts, editor Jason Baumann—the New York Public Library’s coordinator of humanities and LGBTQ collections—planned the book’s release to coincide with Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50, the library’s exhibition on the Stonewall riots and the ensuing gay liberation movement, open through July 14, 2019. He will be joined by Mark Segal, founder of the Philadelphia Gay News, who will discuss his contribution to the anthology, “And Then I Danced,” Karla Jay, author of Tales of the Lavender Menace: A Memoir of Liberation and a distinguished professor emerita at Pace University, and Joel Hall, part of the Third World Gay Revolution movement in Chicago, and a dancer, choreographer, and activist.

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast or the Author Events YouTube page.


Michelangelo Signorile | It's Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality

Recorded April 23, 2015 

Michelangelo Signorile is famous for his gutsy and outspoken gay rights advocacy. His seminal 1993 manifesto Queer in America examined the political forces responsible for the LGBT closet. He is also the author of three other books and articles for dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Salon, and The Los Angeles Times. A founding editor of OutWeek and a columnist and editor-at-large for The Advocate, Signorile is currently an editor of the Gay Voices section of The Huffington Post. He also hosts a daily talk show on Sirius XM Radio. His new book argues that while some Americans think the struggle for gay rights has been won, there continue to be hidden and insidious obstacles in the path toward true equality. 

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast or the Author Events YouTube page.


Alison Bechdel | Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Recorded June 22, 2006 

A cult favorite in the comics world, Alison Bechdel has chronicled the lives of fictionalized characters in her “Dykes to Watch Out For” comic strip since 1993. Called “one of the preeminent oeuvres of the comics genre, period” by Ms, “Dykes” is syndicated in fifty alternative newspapers and is collected into a book with a quarter million copies in print. Fun Home is her memoir, in graphic novel form, of life, marked by gothic twists and sexual angst, in the family-owned funeral home.

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast.


Carmen Maria Machado | In the Dream House: A Memoir

In conversation with Emma Eisenberg, author of the book The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia

Recorded November 7, 2019 

Carmen Maria Machado’s bestselling debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties was a finalist for the National Book Award and is being adapted by the FX network as a feminist spin on Black Mirror. The Artist in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and a Guggenheim Fellow, her work has been published in the New Yorker, Granta, and Tin House, among other periodicals. Told with wit and bare self-reflection, In the Dream House is a candid account of Machado’s relationship with a charming but psychologically abusive woman.

Enjoy this episode on the Free Library Podcast or the Author Events YouTube page.

Browse the Free Library Author Events page for more upcoming author discussions.

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