— Miranda Sawyer, The Observer, May 3rd, 2020
"a surprising, moving, beautifully
produced and important podcast"
What if you could glimpse into LGBTQ+ life from decades ago?
The Log Books is an award-winning history of LGBTQ+ life in Britain as noted by volunteers at the helpline Switchboard. Each episode of this stirring podcast centres around log book entries made by the volunteers who staffed the phones from the charity’s very first day.
As a helpline for anyone who wants to talk about gender identity and sexuality, Switchboard has been hearing about, and helping, queer life since 1974.
Now held in the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute, the volunteers’ log books offer a unique insight into the range of issues facing LGBTQ+ people in Britain in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Stories range from police entrapping gay men meeting for sex in toilets, to women losing custody of their children for being lesbians, to people kicked out of pubs for wearing pro-gay badges and to those struggling with their gender identity before anyone had the right language to help them.
The log books laugh and cry with the real lives of runaways and disco-dancers, with isolated fishermen phoning to chat and people unsure about how to have sex.
Hosted by writer Adam Zmith and Tash Walker, a trustee of Switchboard, The Log Books brings these old stories back to life.
Told across eight episodes, Season One covers 1974 to 1982. The podcast features dozens of log book entries and interviews with more than 40 contributors. Season Two runs from 1983 to 1991 and takes up eleven episodes, including a three-part series focusing on the HIV/AIDS crisis. Season Three runs from 1992 to 2003, covering the internet, lesbians seeking sperm donors, disability rights, the campaign to equalise the age of sexual consent, trans identity, and kinky sex — and more.
Each episode takes a different theme, using Switchboard’s log book entries as a springboard into contributors’ memories and discussions about the same issue in 2019 to 2021. The producers behind the podcast believe that it is not only important to remember our history but also to consider it in light of issues affecting us all today.