Hear, Queers: The Queer Quadrant podcast on queer coding in film

Queer podcasts, which have long been a source of education and connection, have become even more imperative as we’ve spent less time together in person. The folks who host our podcasts feel like—and are—some of our best friends and when we get caught up on all the episodes of a podcast, it hurts just as much as when we finish a favorite book. So, to help keep you connected, educated, and reminded of how great queer people are, we’re launching a new column called Hear, Queers where we talk to the folks behind some of our favorite podcasts about their projects and why they do them. Today, we talk to the team behind The Queer Quadrant podcast about their entertaining and thought-provoking podcast.

The Queer Quadrant podcast explores blockbuster films and how their queer representation and coding impact the film and its reception. The podcast draws its name from the way Hollywood breaks down it’s demographics into four groups of moviegoers based on gender and age. Four-quadrant movies are those that are aimed to appeal to audiences in all four groups, reaching the widest possible audience.

These films often lack explicit LGBTQ+ representation, but the folks behind the Queer Quadrant argue that they end up laden with queer coding and subtext. Hosts Brooke Solomon and Jordan Gustafson use the podcast to examine film, interrogating cultural contexts and how films that are presented as straight actually end up being quite queer.

From discussions of who is in front and behind of the camera to exploring how explicit queer content can be revolutionary, these film nerds get deep into why queer stories matter. They note: “Both of us credit queer media for being a big factor in our coming out stories, and that accessibility and visibility should just continue to grow.”

The Queer Quadrant currently has nearly 50 episodes of varying lengths available to listen to.

Read on to find out more of what Brooke and Jordan have to say about the Queer Quadrant podcast.

Why did you start The Queer Quadrant?

Four-quadrant films are movies designed to appeal to the biggest, widest audience possible. In the process, they can often leave out a lot of LGBTQ+ representation – but end up loaded with subtext. So often, we’ll be leaving a movie (or texting from our couches), and saying to each other “Wait…that was kind of gay, right? Well, why didn’t they make it more explicit?”

We wanted to talk about that phenomenon and create a platform to open up discussion on the topic. The podcast started as a chance to break down those questions, and raise awareness of how many movies do engage in this kind of coding. Plus, we’re real nerds, and will never turn down a chance to geek about film for 90 minutes straight.

What inspiration do you draw from for The Queer Quadrant? What queer media or projects have influenced you as creators?

As amateur media buffs, we’re very interested in how film criticism and representation impacts the industry. As podcast hosts, we’re also big fans of other podcasts both big and small, and were inspired to create our own just through the simple act of listening. Some of our favorites include Blank Check, Rainbow Road, Iconography, Little Gold Men, Truth & Movies, and The Bechdel Cast.

What do you think The Queer Quadrant is doing that no one else is?

We look at blockbuster cinema through a critical queer lens. Our goal is to provide deep dives into these films that so many people just see as “straight,” and really talk about how representation behind and in front of the camera can present itself in many forms. We’re also invested in covering a variety of blockbusters, from 50s classics to superhero films to animated family flicks. Regardless, if listeners come away with a new perspective, or think “Huh, I guess that film is pretty queer,” we’ve done our job.

What’s your favorite part of hosting The Queer Quadrant?

We are both so happy to be able to discuss a subject we’re passionate about. We often run through analytics and jokes in the same five minutes, which is fun. Also, the podcast is our chance to break down and reappraise these films that have been in the culture for so long, and present them to our listeners in a new light.

The Queer Quadrant is fairly new. What have you learned that surprised you in these first few months?

Equipment matters! It’s worth the investment to ensure clean, crisp audio quality – seriously. Also, we’ve learned to get more comfortable on mic and really find a podcast rhythm, which is harder than it sounds.

Something that we’ve discovered, that both surprised and delighted us, was how accepting and friendly the podcast community is! It’s a big group of people who are dedicated, friendly and often super willing to collaborate. We were able to partner with podcasts and independent sponsors throughout 2020, and are planning to do far more of that in 2021 – so keep an eye out for some fun crossovers.

How do The Queer Quadrant episodes change when the films you’re discussing do contain overt queerness versus when they don’t?

When the films do contain overt queerness, we discuss how their release actually affected the culture, both film-wise and representation-wise. Often, these groundbreaking movies impacted explicit rep in later years, and showed studios that the LGBTQ+ community was a viable audience who wanted to see themselves on the big screen just as much as anyone else.

When the films don’t contain overt queerness, our goal becomes more about taking a magnifying glass to the thing. We analyze how the queerness is represented subtly, and also maybe why it wasn’t overt in the first place. Did the studio get cold feet? Was the film more of a happy accident? Or were the creatives physically hampered by something, like the Hays Code of the 40s and 50s?

Why do you think projects that are specifically, intentionally, and overtly queer matter so much?

Bottom line, everyone should have the opportunity to see themselves on screen in a real and meaningful way, and that includes the LGBTQ+ community. Representation does wonders for young creatives, and media is a common touchstone for so many young queer people who are looking for a community. Both of us credit queer media for being a big factor in our coming out stories, and that accessibility and visibility should just continue to grow.

How is it funded? (this is a great place to direct listeners to your patreon, to rate and review your project, etc.)

Our podcast is primarily funded through ad space, and we’re very interested in collaborating with small businesses – so please reach out if you’re looking to get your product out there! Although we’re fairly new, we hope to eventually start a paid tier on a platform like Patreon, to talk about a wider variety of movies (for example, specialty queer cinema…Portrait of a Lady of Fire, anyone?).

Most important, though: reviews, ratings and downloads are currently our main form of currency and the #1 way you can help us out. Please check us out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Drop us a rating, a review, and subscribe to our show – it really does make a difference! You can also give us a follow on Twitter at @QueerQuadrant for lots of bonus content.

Brooke Solomon (she/her/hers) is a filmmaker and screenwriter based in Los Angeles, California. She grew up in a tiny farm town in rural New Hampshire, and graduated from Emerson College in 2019 with a BA in Visual Media Arts (with a Concentration in Screenwriting), as well as a Minor in Business. Brooke has a special love for films with strong intersectional representation, as well as stylized dramas, crime thrillers, and Westerns. She currently works in Development. In her spare time, she enjoys art, thrift stores, hiking, and, of course, podcasting.

Jordan Gustafson (he/him/his) is a writer and director based in Los Angeles, California. Hailing from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Jordan’s films focus on finding empathy for every character on screen, no matter the genre. As a proud bisexual, Jordan strives to tell stories that are progressive, challenge societal norms, and feature a diverse and realistic cast. While earning his B.F.A. from Emerson College, Jordan directed music videos, commercials, and several short films. He currently works in Development in LA. In Jordan’s free time he likes to podcast, run marathons, and root for every Boston sports team.

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