Bad Gays



A podcast about evil and complicated gay men in history. Why do we remember our heroes better than our villains? Hosted by Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller. Support us:


  • Pacchierotto and Florentine Sodomites (with Max Fox)

    10/08/2021 Duration: 01h32min

    Not a huge amount is known about Pacchierotto, a sodomite who was convicted and publicly humiliated in Florence, Italy, in 1486, but his story tells us much about the changing fortunes of sodomites at the time, and the important role they played in the politics of the time. In this special episode, Huw talks to Max Fox, editor of Christopher Chitty's Sexual Hegemony: Statecraft, Sodomy, and Capital in the Rise of the World System about Florentine sodomy in the Renaissance, and Chitty's groundbreaking new book. ----more----   Sources:   Chitty, Christopher, Sexual Hegemony: Statecraft, Sodomy, and Capital in the Rise of the World System, Duke University Press, 2020   Rocke, Michael, Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence, Oxford University Press, 1996   Online Digital Map: Flynn, Aidan, Sodomy and The City: Mapping Fear, Surveillance, Sexuality, and Punishment, University of Toronto, 2018

  • Arthur Gary Bishop (with David Eichert)

    13/04/2021 Duration: 55min

    The crimes, trial and execution of Utah citizen and devout Mormon Arthur Gary Bishop seemed to be the manifestation of many of both the public fears and moral panics of the United States in the 1980s. 'Stranger Danger', pornography, homosexuality and childhood sexual abuse became the focus of heated public debate and new religiously-inspired political organisations such as the Moral Majority. Huw is joined by David Eichert, a PhD candidate studying international law, sexual violence, gender and sexuality, to discuss Bishop, his relationship with his Mormon faith, and wider social attitudes towards his crimes. Visit our website for t-shirts, an episode archive, and more. ----more---- SOURCES: Carlisle, Al, The Mind of the Devil: The Cases of Arthur Gary Bishop and Westley Allan Dodd, Carlisle Legacy Books, 2020 Petrey, Taylor G., Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism, University of North Carolina Press, 2020 Nathan, Debbie and Snedeker, Michael, Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the

  • Dennis Cooper (with Diarmuid Hester)

    23/02/2021 Duration: 01h22min

    On the (in)famous author of the George Miles cycle, The Sluts, and many other classic works of radically transgressive gay fiction. Joining Ben to tackle Cooper's work–as challenging to traditional notions of identity-driven and self-consciously pretty gay fiction as it is to the hetero mainstream–is Diarmuid Hester, a radical cultural historian of the United States after 1950, and an authority on sexually dissident literature, art, film, and performance. He is based at the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, and is the author of the acclaimed new critical biography of Cooper, Wrong. ----more---- SOURCES: Cooper, Dennis. The Sluts. New York: Da Capo Press, 2004. Cooper, Dennis. The George Miles Cycle. Five novels, information available here: Hester, Diarmuid. Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper. Iowa City: The University of Iowa Press, 2020. Dennis Cooper's blog. Our intro music is Arpeggia Colorix by Yann Terrien, downloaded from WFMU's

  • Violette Morris

    22/12/2020 Duration: 01h05min

    Violette Morris, a powerhouse athlete with 14-inch biceps, discovered a love for trousers and fast driving while piloting ambulances for the Red Cross during the First World War. But her outrageous and mannish style – she dated Josephine Baker, smoked, and cut her breasts off to better fit behind the wheel of a race car – outraged the respectable upper-middle-class world of women's athletics. And when she was cast out of respectable society, she became a Nazi spy and a sadistic torturer known as the "hyena of the Gestapo." ----more---- SOURCES: Colvin, Kelly Ricciardi. Gender and French Identity after the Second World War, 1944-1954: Engendering Frenchness. London ; New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. Doyle, Jack. “How a Pioneering Lesbian Became the Nazis’ ‘Hyena.’” OZY, May 25, 2015. Kessler, Martin. “Violette Morris: Pioneering Female Athlete Turned Nazi Spy.” WBUR, February 24, 2017

  • Camilla Hall

    14/12/2020 Duration: 56min

    Camilla Christine Hall was born on March 24th, 1945, in St Peter Minnesota. Her father was a Lutheran pastor, and her childhood was suburban and unremarkable. Like many of her generation, she would become involved in the anti-war movement and the New Left; unlike many of her generation, she would also become involved in Gay Liberation, and a  strange cult-like organization called the Symbionese Liberation Army, which became infamous for bank robberies, murders –– and the 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst. ----more---- SOURCES: Hearings, Reports and Prints of the United States House   Committee on Internal Security. Honig, Harvey Hilbert. “A Psychobiographical Study of Camilla Hall.” Loyola University of Chicago, 1979. Lauters, Amy. “On Camilla Hall.” Amy Lauters On Everything (blog), September 3, 2020. Matusitz, Jonathan Andre, and Elena Berisha. Female Terrorism in America: Past and Current Perspectives. Conte

  • Gertrude Stein

    08/12/2020 Duration: 51min

    Gertrude Stein is remembered as a novelist, playwright, poet, and, art collector –– and the hostess of a Paris salon that gathered the cream of interwar modernism, including Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Matisse. A semi-open lesbian, her books include Q.E.D., one of the earliest English-language lesbian novels, and Tender Buttons, a book of poems full of allusion to lesbian sexuality. But in the last years of her life, as a Jew living in Nazi-occupied France, Stein sustained her lifestyle as an art collector and ensured her safety through the protection of powerful Vichy government officials – part of a pattern of involvement in far-right, antisemitic, and fascist politics.  ----more---- SOURCES: Johnston, Georgia. The Formation of 20th-Century Queer Autobiography: Reading Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf, Hilda Doolittle, and Gertrude Stein. Palgrave Macmillan US, 2007. Malcolm, Janet. “Gertrude Stein’s War.” The New Yorker. June 2, 2003.

  • Prince Albert Victor

    01/12/2020 Duration: 01h28s

    Today’s subject is the man who would be King, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, firstborn son of Edward VII, Grandson of Queen Victoria, known to his friends and family simply as “Eddy." Wrapped up in a sizzling sex scandal, he became a prime example of a British royal story: an intellectually dull man, charmless, with neither cultural interests nor creative talents, but who, due to sheer accident of birth, found himself permitted to indulge all his whims. ----more---- SOURCES: Ackroyd, Peter. Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day. London: Vintage, 2018. Cook, Andrew. Prince Eddy: The King Britain Never Had. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2009. Cook, Matt. London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Hyde, H. Montgomery. The Cleveland Street Scandal. New York: Coward McCann, 1976.   Our intro music is Arpeggia Colorix by Yann Terrien, downloaded from WFMU's Free Music Archive and distributed under a Creat

  • Truman Capote

    24/11/2020 Duration: 01h15min

    Born in a violent and difficult childhood in the American South, Truman Capote would rise to the highest levels of literary celebrity, praise, and fame: even joining the highly-exclusive jet set of 1960s and 1970s high society. Several of his short stories, novels, and plays have been praised as literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and the true crime novel In Cold Blood (1966), which he labeled a "nonfiction novel". His works have been adapted into more than 20 films and television dramas. But Capote would be pursued by demons throughout his life – alcoholism, other forms of addiction, and crippling self-doubt which would end up leading him to destroy his own social reputation.  Visit our website at for an episode archive, T-shirts, and a link to our Patreon. ----more---- SOURCES: Als, Hilton. “The Shadows in Truman Capote’s Early Stories.” The New Yorker, October 13, 2015.

  • Carl Van Vechten

    17/11/2020 Duration: 57min

    A man with a passion for the dangerous, subversive, and avant garde; who eschewed the middle brow and loved the urbane and modern. Known in his life not just as a man of taste, but a tastemaker, someone who set the tone for elite cultural society in his lifetime; the white author, critic and photographer Carl Van Vechten became enchanted with the Harlem Renaissance, approached Black cultures as a source of ideas that he could take and exploit, and perpetuated racist stereotypes in his work. Visit our website at for an episode archive, T-shirts, and a link to our Patreon. ----more---- SOURCES: Bernard, Emily. Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black and White. 0 edition. Yale University Press, 2013. Holmes, David G. “Cross-Racial Voicing: Carl Van Vechten’s Imagination and the Search for an African American Ethos.” College English 68, no. 3 (2006): 291–307. Sanneh, Kelefa. “White Mischief.” The New Yorker, February 17, 2014. https://www

  • Benjamin Britten

    10/11/2020 Duration: 01h20min

    The composer Benjamin Britten was a central figure of 20th century music; and the national composer that Britain had been searching for since the death of Henry Purcell in 1695. He never shook his Communist and pacifist sympathies –– even as he rose to the highest levels of elite British cultural production. A fervent pacifist, antinationalist, and homosexual –– with a deep, complex, and troubling love of children –– Britten, through the strength of his music and through the nation’s desire to have a musical hero of its own, became an utterly unlikely national celebrity. Content warning: this episode contains discussions of sexual attraction to children. Visit our website at for an episode archive, T-shirts, and a link to our Patreon. ----more---- SOURCES: Bridcut, John. Britten’s Children. Main edition. London: Faber and Faber, 2006. Britten, Benjamin. Peter Grimes. London: BBC, 1969. Conlon, James. “Message, Meaning and Code in the Op

  • Jeremy Thorpe

    03/11/2020 Duration: 01h12min

    This is a story of sex, death and political malfeasance that will make Teddy Kennedy look like Anne of Green Gables. It has everything you’ve come to expect from a Bad Gays story about the English upper classes — psychosexual repression, violence, class prejudice, hypocrisy, the brutality and cheapness of life at the heart of the political system, and plenty of people named things like Rupert, Auberon and Emlyn. =Content warning for child sexual abuse in the early parts of this story= But as ridiculous and kinky as the fruity rulers of Britain are, the story is darker than that. This story is also about the way the law is impervious to the informal networks of power in the British establishment, and how homosexuality was subject to a series of double standards, tolerated in the powerful but suppressed in the ordinary citizen, practiced in private and denied in public. Today we’re discussing the life of a man whose sexuality stole his chance at power, the MP and leader of the Liberal Party, the Right Honorable

  • Liberace

    27/10/2020 Duration: 01h22min

    This "deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavored, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love" rose to stardom playing "classical music without the boring parts" and didn't need to stay in the closet because he wore its entire contents. How could he become an emblem of Middle American family entertainment? The United States of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s was undergoing enormous social change –– the Civil Rights Movement, the Summer of Love, Women’s Lib, the Stonewall Riots, Gay Liberation, and the beginning of the AIDS movement –– and Liberace was an entertainer who appealed to precisely those parts of the country who sought to resist those changes. Hated by classical music critics, he was beloved by audiences precisely because of the openness of his secret and the way he performed a kind of minstrel act that nevertheless won him fame, riches, and glory.   Visit our website for Patreon, T-shirts, and an eopside archive. ----mo

  • Cecil Rhodes

    20/10/2020 Duration: 01h09min

    Season 4 –– ! –– with apologies for socially-distanced audio quality. Today's victim was a British colonist and mining magnate who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. An ardent white supremacist – no matter what revisionist historians and the right-wing press claim – he rose from being a sickly child to having a near-complete domination of the world diamond market. Come for the "private secretaries," stay for the Big Hole.  Visit our website for t-shirts, an episode archive, and a link to our Patreon. ----more---- SOURCES: Aldrich, Robert. Colonialism and Homosexuality. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, 2003. Brown, Robin. The Secret Society: Cecil John Rhodes' Plans for a New World Order. London: Penguin Books, 2015. Jourdan, Philip. Cecil Rhodes: His Private Life By His Private Secretary. London: Bodley Head, 1911. Rotberg, Robert I. The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Our intro music is Arpeggia Colorix by Yann Terrien, downloaded from WFMU's Fre

  • Special Episode: John Maynard Keynes (with Richard Power Sayeed)

    01/09/2020 Duration: 01h54min

    Despite beginning his career as a member of the civil service ruling Britain's colonial empire, John Maynard Keynes was also a key member of London's cultural and artistic elite, the Bloomsbury Group, whose libertine approach to sexuality and relationships marked them out from their stuffy Victorian forebears. A patron of art, literature, opera and ballet, Keynes' economic writings would go on to make him one of the 20th century's most influential economists. Huw discusses the life and theories of John Maynard Keynes with Richard Power Sayeed, author of 1997: The Future That Never Happened (Zed Books, 2017). Our intro music is Arpeggia Colorix by Yann Terrien, downloaded from WFMU's Free Music Archive and distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Our outro music is by DJ Michaeloswell Graphicsdesigner.  

  • Radclyffe Hall

    28/07/2020 Duration: 01h17min

    The author of the iconic lesbian –– and trans –– novel The Well of Loneliness was born to privilege before consorting with suffragettes and radicals, embarking on scandalous lesbian affairs with singers, and writing the novel whose release and censorship would turn it into "the Lesbian bible" and them into "sapphic Jesus." But what problematic racial politics –– and flirtations with Fascism –– lie lurking in the biography of Radclyffe Hall, who offers a non-gay perspective on early 20th century theories of sexual inversion? Ben discusses these questions with special guest Dr. Jana Funke, co-editor of a critical edition of The Well of Loneliness set to be published by Oxford University Press in 2023.    Visit our website for t-shirts, an episode archive, and a link to our Patreon.   Our intro music is Arpeggia Colorix by Yann Terrien, downloaded from WFMU's Free Music Archive and distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Our outro music is by DJ Michaeloswell Graphicsdesigner.

  • Lisa Miller

    26/05/2020 Duration: 51min

    To close our season, the story of Lisa Miller, an American woman who gave birth to a child coparented with her partner Janet Jenkins, and then left Janet, became a self-proclaimed ex-lesbian, sued for single custody of their daughter, and when the courts decided against her, abducted their child and fled the country with the assistance of well-connected far-right pastors in 2009. Lisa and their daughter, Isabella, are still missing.  Visit our website for T-shirts, an episode archive, and more information about the show. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Lisa and/or Isabella, please contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. ----more---- SOURCES: Ball, Carlos A. The Right to Be Parents: LGBT Families and the Transformation of Parenthood. New York, NY: NYU Press, 2012.   Bollinger, Alex. “A Man Who Helped Kidnap a Lesbian’s Daughter Blames It All on Obama.” LGBTQ Nation, December 5, 2018.

  • Morrissey

    19/05/2020 Duration: 52min

    An essay on the Smiths frontman whose music and lyrics turned the abject aspects of the identities of so many queer teenagers into something that made them stand out and shine – and whose focus on working class cultures of masculinity began to turn towards the far right.  Visit our website for T-shirts, an episode archive, and more information about the show. ----more---- SOURCES: Bret, David. Morrissey: Scandal & Passion. London: Robson Book Ltd, 2004.   Goddard, Simon. Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and The Smiths. 8/29/10 edition. New York: Plume, 2010.   Jonze, Tim. “Bigmouth Strikes Again and Again: Why Morrissey Fans Feel so Betrayed.” The Guardian, May 30, 2019, sec. Music.   Morrissey. Autobiography. 1 edition. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2013.   Reynolds, Simon. “Pale Ire.” Bookforum, March 2014.

  • Aileen Wuornos

    12/05/2020 Duration: 52min

    In 1992, Aileen Carol Wuornos, an itinerant sex worker, was arrested for the murders of seven men in or near Volusia County, Florida in 1989 and 1990: all of them shot while Wuornos was on the job, all of them shot at point-blank range. She became, in the view of the public, according to the filmmaker Nick Broomfield, who made two documentaries about her and about the media storm that surrounded her, a "man-hating lesbian prostitute who tarnished the reputations of her victims,” a useful foil for family-values string-em-up-dead politicians who wanted to show that they were tough on crime–and an unlikely lesbian hero. Visit our website for T-shirts, an episode archive, and more information about the show. ----more---- SOURCES: Barrett-Ibarria, Sofia. “How Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos Became a Cult Hero.” Vice (blog), September 19, 2019.   Broomfield, Nick. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. Documentary,

  • Roger Casement

    05/05/2020 Duration: 01h18s

    At the height of his career, today's subject was a national hero in the UK, knighted by George V. His life ended as a traitor and a pervert, executed by hanging in Pentonville Prison before being thrown in an unmarked grave in the prison yard, his body covered in quicklime. His name was Roger Casement, and we'll talk about his rise and fall, Britain’s hypocritical relationship with imperialism and colonialism, and secret black diaries full of "gentle thrusts" and "splendid erections."  Visit our website for T-shirts, an episode archive, and more information about the show. ----more---- SOURCES: Achebe, Chinua. An Image of Africa: And the Trouble with Nigeria. Penguin Great Ideas 100. London: Penguin Books, 2010.   Dudgeon, Jeffrey, and Roger Casement. Roger Casement: The Black Diaries : With a Study of His Background, Sexuality and Irish Political Life. Belfast, Northern Ireland: Belfast Press, 2016.   Goodman, Jordan. The Devil and Mr. Casement: One Man’s Battle for Human Rights in South America’s Heart of

  • Philip Johnson

    28/04/2020 Duration: 45min

    Philip Cortelyou Johnson may be more responsible than anyone for the shift from Modernism as a new way of living to Modernism as an elite bauble. Born into immense power and privilege, he was a deeply committed elitist, and dilettante fascist, who used his money and connections to whitewash his youthful (and ongoing) embrace of Hitler in specific and far-right politics in general. As a key curator and preacher of the Modernist gospel in the United States, he was central in divorcing the style from its egalitarian political aspirations. In response to criticism, he said: “I am a whore. Very well paid.” Visit our website for T-shirts, an episode archive, and more information about the show. ----more---- SOURCES: Fixsen, Anna. “The Power and Paradox of Philip Johnson.” Metropolis, December 3, 2018.   Goldberger, Paul. “A New Biography of the Architect Philip Johnson, the ‘Man in the Glass House.’” The New York Times, De

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