Though sometimes the public at large thinks the struggle for LGBTQ rights began with Stonewall, it’s much older than that. The new Mattachine podcast looks at the beginnings of Harry Hay’s Mattachine Foundation, starting with its initial inspiration in 1920s Berlin. The podcast, created by Devlyn Camp, explores the forgotten moments in LGBTQ history in a serialized format.
Mattachine started out as a ten-episode miniseries, though thanks to what Camp calls “a fantastic response from a large audience,” the first ten episodes will become just the first season of the podcast. After all, as Camp said, “Because our goal is to focus in on the nuances of the movement and the details of specific battles, the homophile era of our history would be impossible to cover in just 10 episodes. We’re looking forward to exploring more characters, relationships, and queer identities.”
The Mattachine podcast’s first five episodes
Even in the first five episodes, there’s been a lot to explore. The first episode, “Strange Sex Cult Exposed” looks at the seeds that grew into the Mattachine Society. It includes both archival clips of Harry Hay from the ONE Archives, as well as Hay’s words read by Steve Camp.
The third episode is a look at the arrest of Dale Jennings, one of the co-founders of ONE, Inc. ONE, Inc. also was the publisher of ONE magazine, the first gay publication in the US. That leads into an episode about the Lavender Scare, the purge of homosexuals from government jobs, while the fifth episode looks at how the Lavender Scare affected the Mattachine Foundation.
The episode on the Lavender Scare was one of Camp’s favorites:
My favorite story to piece together was the Lavender Scare during the Cold War. It’s a complicated phenomenon in U.S. history that, at its core, shows us how homophobia developed in modern America. We don’t often question why we experience homophobia — it’s pretty normal to us.
What’s coming for the Mattachine podcast
Camp said they were influenced by Karina Longworth’s excellent podcast on forgotten Hollywood history, You Must Remember This. They were also influenced by Hornet contributor Matt Baume‘s The Sewers of Paris, Aaron Mahnke’s Lore, as well as Serial and Rachel Maddow’s style.
An upcoming episode Camp is excited about is episode 9. Camp describes it as “Another favorite was a much smaller story about a dinner banquet where several former leaders of the Mattachine returned and one them gave a speech that is both beautiful and so very shady.” We’re excited for that one, too!
One of the most important elements of Mattachine is that it’s not a hagiography of the Mattachine Foundation. As Camp explains:
It seems that lately our queer community is finally becoming much more aware of internalized homophobia and misogynistic behavior. It’s frustrating that it took this long for many people to recognize it, because the 1950s Mattachine has some of the earliest documented toxic masculinity in the American queer community. Looking back on their story with retrospect could help us see our current issues a little more clearly.
The Mattachine podcast is one of the best podcasts we’ve listened to. Not only is it well-researched and immaculately produced, it goes into the stories about the foundation of modern LGBTQ activism — both where we’ve been and where we’re going. Catch up on the first five episodes now, and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.