As one of my last activities from the whirwind visit to the US and A, I briefly attended Podcamp NYC, a conference dedicated to podcasting (obviously).
Normally I care nothing for these events. The world has bigger concerns than what some American business-hipster wants to peddle as the newest and coolest thing. And while it can be fun to meet other podcasters, they would probably better spend their time finding more audience and explaining all this to new people, than hanging out with the same ol’ names. Plus as a podcast journalist, I’m already quite disappointed at the fact that most of the “successful podcasts” have almost NO social value in terms of using this unique tool to shed light on the under-represented.
But I set that aside in this case, as I was already in the NYC area, and -more importantly- some of my favorite voices from the LGBT community would also be attending the conference. Flying in from all over the US, not to mention myself in town from Amsterdam, it was obviously a rare opportunity that I didn’t want to pass on. So after a brief meetup the night before, where I finally met my friend Mikeypod, I made my way to podcamp.
And indeed, I was not disappointed. I dodged the annoying and fake salespeople trying to tell me what is “new” and “cool” and I found myself at Richard Bluestein’s session of Freedom of Speech. Perhaps symbolic of the state of things, there was hardly anyone in attendance. Probably too busy soaking up the session on Metrics or Music podcasting, all of which are notoriously more popular than one’s rights. But nevermind that, I walked into Richard’s session, happy to see my great friend sitting at the main table, still not fully awake. As a bonus, Wanda Wisdom was also there, not to mention the disgustingly fun Cheryl Merkowski, and someone I had heard alot about.. Lady Raptastic. Naturally Madge Weinstein had to make an appearance as well.
The highlight of the conference, and why these things still somehow matter in my eyes, was the session which focused on the Queercasting Community (and friends, like me!). Everyone discussed their concerns about producing content both for the community and also to reach beyond… to the more mainstream audience. It was also significant to talk about, and hear new examples of how material related to GBLT issues or produced by openly gay artists, has been censored by sites such as YouTube, where mainstream fundamentalist bigots have flagged videos as “inappropriate”, eventually leading to the ban of many artists on that widely used site.
Lastly I wanted to say what an honor it was. Not only to meet in person and receive such sincere support from podcasters I had never met before, but also to be welcomed as a member of the community. While I may not actually be gay, I feel a very strong bond with the goal of civil rights for all GBLT people, and that this goal is long overdue. Sitting there in that session, as I have at various points in my life, I felt very lucky to sit in the presence of such talent and dedication… working to educate and push society to get past its hatred and oppression of fellow human beings.