The world has this problem, where all of the stories being told are about heterosexual, white, cis men. I’m not going to get statistical on you, because I’m sure you’ve seen it before.
The podcasting community is where you find the people who are changing that.
A lot of the time it’s not on purpose—we’re writing what we know. One of the main characters of my show Interference is an orc named Geneva. She’s a trans woman. We made this character choice because my wife Hazel, who writes and performs Geneva’s part, is a trans woman. We started putting out episodes of the show with no idea there would be anyone interested in this nerdy little concept, no idea there was a community there to support us.
However, the response we’ve received to Geneva is… overwhelming. People hear her talk, and it’s the first time they’ve found a trans character they can relate to. They love her. I am terrified of this responsibility we unknowingly gave ourselves, but I understand! Geneva is intelligent and geeky, and shy and awkward. She’s kind of a disaster lesbian, in love but with no idea how to express it and, of course, she’s fallen for someone completely inaccessible. She’s not open about being transgender; she’s uncomfortable when you mention the way her voice sounds. She isn’t on good terms with her parents. Sometimes she feels like a freak.
Geneva is a normal person in extraordinary circumstances, and that is what you will find in most audio fiction. People are using podcasts to tell stories about themselves and their friends—people you rarely see in traditional media, which often still struggles to see women and people of color as fully human. A lot of the time, we attribute the diversity of podcasting to the low production cost. I definitely don't want to discount that, because money is a tool that harshly divides us, but I feel that the more important factor is the community.
It was late 2016 when my friend Sarah mentioned that she was going to start a D&D podcast. She’s one of my best friends now, but at the time she was just one of my mutuals on tumblr—the most casual of friends. However, I was sunk, deep down, into the Critical Role and Adventure Zone fandoms, and so was she. I would have done a lot to get involved with her project, but all she really wanted was my enthusiasm. Five queer women put together a goofy show and faceplanted into a community. It has changed all of our lives drastically for the better.
Since I started podcasting, enthusiasm is what I have found, and what I have felt. I've been welcomed with loving arms into so many groups, made of actual play creators, audio fiction writers, listeners, and reviewers. Unanimously, indie podcasters are eager to welcome new people, help with technical problems and writers block, share trade secrets, and boost creators who aren't getting enough attention for their work. They work their asses of to be aware of inequalities and work against them whenever possible. Podcasters are always learning, always improving.
It’s this enthusiasm and the diversity of the stories that we are telling that has kept me enraptured, and has kept me creating. This is a wonderful community, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.