Past Present: Civility, Gays and Gyms, and Mr. Rogers

Fred Rogers

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil debate recent claims that the Left is destroying civility in politics, the LGBTQ+ history of American gym culture, and a half-century of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: When White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant by its owner, many decried the incident as evidence of a decline in civility. Natalia cited historian William Chafe’s book Civilities and Civil Rights. At Vox, Niki wrote about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s own history of being called “uncivil.”   An […]

Past Present: Masterpiece Cakeshop, Presidential Pardons, and Separated Families

Wedding cake

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki debate the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, Donald Trump’s use of the presidential pardon, and the American tradition of separating families. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Neil referred to Tisa Wenger’s book Religious Freedom: The Contested History of An American Ideal and Sarah Posner’s Nation article about the conservative Christian advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom. President Trump has legal scholars thinking about whether a president is legally permitted […]

Past Present: Twinks, a Manhattan Con Artist, and the Ford Mustang


In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki debate the rise of the “twink” aesthetic, Manhattan con artist Anna Sorokin/Delvey, and the cultural endurance of the Ford Mustang. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: The New York Times has declared “the age of the twink.” Neil referred to this 2003 New York Times article on the “metrosexual.” Natalia recommended this Slate article on the continued relevance of the notion of a gay aesthetic. The long con of Anna Delvey, who duped the downtown Manhattan set, has readers rapt. Natalia referred to this Vanity Fair article by one of her dupes. Niki cited Maria Konnikova’s book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall […]

Past Present Podcast: Sean Hannity, Gayborhoods, and Running Tutus


  In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki debate the Sean Hannity phenomenon, battles over the “gayborhood,” and the popularity of running tutus. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: Conservative media personality Sean Hannity has attained new fame thanks to his proximity to President Trump. Niki referred to her Washington Post piece arguing Hannity is more a promoter rather than a kingmaker and to Neil’s Huffington Post article arguing that Hannity is not a journalist. Natalia recommended a 2015 Chapo Trap House episode about Hannity’s persona. As “gayborhoods” have become bellwethers of gentrification, they have also resulted in turf wars. Niki cited George Chauncey’s classic work Gay New York as […]

Kyle Jarrow on Broadcast, Broadway, and Being Bicoastal (For Now)

Kyle Jarrow

Kyle Jarrow is a writer and musician who creates work for the stage, film and television. He is creator and executive producer of the upcoming TV series Valor, premiering on the CW network this fall. His digital series Lost Generation (with original music by Duncan Sheik) is now streaming on Verizon’s go90 platform. Kyle’s plays include A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant (Obie Award), The Wildness (Lortel Award nominee), Whisper House (now playing in London), Noir, Love Kills and Hostage Song. Kyle penned the film Armless, which was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to his writing work, he leads the rock band Sky-Pony with his wife, Lauren Worsham. Their debut […]

Past Present Podcast: Pride Month, the Paris Accords, and Kathy Griffin


In this week’s episode of Past Present, Neil, Natalia, and Niki debate the politics of pride marches, the history of climate change, and Kathy Griffin and the politics of offense.  Pride Month June marks Pride Month, although Donald Trump’s White House has not officially recognized it. We discussed the history of pride parades, and Neil talked about their connection to the Stonewall Riot of 1969. Natalia commented on the commercialization of LGBTQ pride, including Burger King’s Proud Whopper. The Paris Accords Donald Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris climate accords. We discussed the history and politics of climate […]

Past Present Podcast: Milo & CPAC, Professor Politics, and Momastery


In this week’s episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil debate CPAC’s decision to disinvite Milo Yiannopoulos, legislation to require political balance in university faculties, and Christian blogger Momastery’s announcement of her lesbian engagement. Milo & CPAC The conservative organization CPAC disinvited Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at its annual conference after tapes surfaced showing him celebrating sex with underage teens. Niki situated the controversy in a longer history of CPAC, an organization that she has written about for Politico and the Los Angeles Times. Professor Politics An Iowa legislator has proposed a bill that would require faculty in the state’s university system to reflect a partisan balance. Neil […]

Past Present Podcast: Transparent, Wells Fargo, and Cable News

Wells Fargo

In this week’s episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia debate the place of Transparent in the history of LGBTQ representation on television, fraud at Wells Fargo, and the 20th anniversary of Fox News. Transparent The third season of the hit show Transparent recently launched on Amazon. Natalia recommended the roundtable on Transparent held by Public Books. Neil sketched a history of LGBT television, starting with the controversial CBS documentary “The Homosexuals” from 1967. Niki remarked on the depiction of AIDS in the 1980s, including the movie “Philadelphia.” Neil remembered the controversy over Melrose Place’s same-sex kiss in 1994. Wells Fargo Wells Fargo is under investigation for opening more […]

Past Present Podcast: Orlando – The City Beautiful, Histories of Violence, and Presidential Empathy

We Love Orlando

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the Orlando shooting, focusing on the history of the city, the attack’s place in the many histories of violence, and the role of presidential empathy in responding to national crises. History of Orlando The world is focused on Orlando after the horrific shooting at the Pulse Nightclub. Neil talked about what it meant for this tragedy to take place in his hometown, something he wrote about for Public Seminar this week. Natalia noted the references to Orlando in the musical Book of Mormon made humor of the city’s association with wholesome Disney World. […]

#LOVEWINS: Photographer Gia Goodrich Shares Her Bold New Project


LOVE WINS: Faces of Marriage Equality is a powerful archive of LGBTQ love stories. Conceived by photographer Gia Goodrich, the evolving project makes these loving relationships visible, normal, and accepted. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but the sad truth is that the vast majority of us in the LGBTQ community have felt isolated, shamed and questioned whether or not we’re lovable.There are still people all over the United States and the world, who don’t understand, don’t value, and don’t support our relationships. Prejudice is very real, and there are still places in the US where couples can be shunned or attacked just for holding […]