If, like me, you spend a good part of your day searching through all the podcasts on offer trying to find one that will give the exact right amount of lift, melancholy, and cultural enrichment that you’re looking for, allow me to introduce you to “Sewers of Paris.” That is, if you haven’t already met.
Matt Baume’s podcast about the culture that shaped gay men’s lives (and in many cases saved their lives) offers hour-long explorations of the private, often painful personal histories of each of his guests. Since 2015, Baume has been devoting episodes to men in the gay community doing awesome despite grim odds. From midwestern upbringings to the most cosmopolitan of childhoods, it can feel impossible to feel positive enough even to get out of bed when you’re growing up gay, in pain, and obsessed with pop culture. I don’t like to throw around the term “inspirational”, but “Sewers of Paris” is precisely that: Each week offers a new glimpse into the most personal aspects of a stranger’s life. And more often than not, listening to the story of that stranger’s transformation from a shy (or not so shy) queer kid into a fully-fledged, out-gay adult is sometimes just what you need to remind you just how much we still have in common as a community. If you have a young gay kid in your life, there’s nothing I would suggest more highly than this podcast, which covers topics across the board from kink to Santa Claus, Mary Martin to Eddie Izzard, and “Little Shop of Horrors” to the “Torch Song Trilogy,” sometimes all in one sitting. And if you have a gay adult in your life who’s feeling a little lost, little depressed, and maybe more than a little discouraged about the state of the world, this is the perfect antidote to remind that person about the power of art to bring us together, even in the darkest, scariest times.