Prisons in Queer History and Pop Culture

How America’s penal system shaped LGBTQ culture.


Episode Notes

This month Bryan, Christina, and Jules explore the intersection of queer life and incarceration. How has America’s prison-loving penal system shaped our history and present, and how does that experience get channeled—or not—into the culture we make and consume? The hosts are joined by Hugh Ryan, author of the new book The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison, which uses one infamous midcentury institution in New York’s Greenwich Village to return the overlooked lives of incarcerated women and transmasculine folks to our collective story, and to make a stirring case for prison abolition as a queer issue. Then they discuss how prison shows up in pop culture—and whether they’re entirely comfortable with those fantasies.

Items discussed in the show:

Selling Sunset

Two recent articles on phalloplasty: “How Ben Got His Penis,” by Jamie Lauren Keiles in the New York Times, and “My Penis Myself,” by Gabriel Mac in New York

Original Plumbing

Madison Cawthorn Thrusting His Naked Body on Another Man’s Face Doesn’t Tell Us Much About His ‘Gayness,’ ” by Bryan in Slate

Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men, by Jane Ward

The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison, by Hugh Ryan

When Brooklyn Was Queer, by Hugh Ryan

Huey P. Newton’s 1970 speech on the women’s liberation and gay liberation movements

Chained Heat 2

Orange Is the New Black

Gay Agenda

Christina: Great Freedom

Jules: The Vice series Transnational

Bryan: From Gay to Z: A Queer Compendium, by Justin Elizabeth Sayres

This podcast was produced by June Thomas.

Please send feedback, topic ideas, and advice questions to outwardpodcast@slate.com.


About the Show

Outward, Slate’s queer podcast, is a whip-smart monthly salon in which hosts and guests deepen the audience’s understanding of queer culture and politics, delight them with unexpected perspectives, and invite listeners into a colorful conversation about the issues animating LGBTQ communities.

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