This article offers an in-depth analysis of the frequency and quality of LGBTQ+ representation in fictional podcasts. Specifically, I examine how frequently and with what intent LGBTQ+ characters are included in fictional podcast series. Though scholars have studied LGBTQ+ representation in different media, there has been almost no research on representation in fictional podcast series. However, as observed in other studies, cable and network television, streaming, and even blockbuster cinema have been slowly increasing in LGBTQ+ diversity (Stokes 2019, Cook 2018). Nevertheless, LGBTQ+ media consumers, especially LGBTQ+ youth, still find themselves underrepresented and look to other sources for validation of their identities (Stokes 2019). We might expect that many LGBTQ+ people may look to fictional podcasts as a possible source of quality representation, especially because podcasts are small-scale and heavily rely on the funding, and thus the opinion, of listeners (Bottomley, 2015). This is a case study in which four fictional podcast series are analyzed for LGBTQ+ inclusivity by first taking into account how many, and in what proportion, LGBTQ+ characters are included in the selected podcasts. The quality of their representation was then evaluated by a number of factors, including diversity, depth, and the frequency and type of stereotypical LGBTQ+ tropes. My findings show a higher frequency of LGBTQ+ characters than in more mainstream media. Further, the studied fictional podcasts series featured LGBTQ+ characters with diverse personalities and backgrounds, LGBTQ+ trope subversions, opportunities to express their sexual and/or gender identities, and long story arcs that do not end in their misfortune. Therefore, we see that fictional podcasts, as a medium that sustains itself primarily on listeners’ patronage, trend towards presenting stories that their audience can relate to (Bottomley, 2015). As a result, fictional podcasts tend to create more niche stories with the intention of making a connection with a smaller demographic of media consumers.
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