Podcast ‘This Queer Book Saved My Life!’ Celebrates LGBTQ+ Authors

The weekly, Minneapolis-based show seeks to amplify queer voices and show how they have been shaped by books
J.P. Der Boghossian
Podcast host J.P. Der Boghossian thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to sit down with someone and talk about the book that had some life-giving feature for [them]?”


In the wake of nationwide book bans and moves in other states against LGBTQ+ politicians and transgender athletes, J.P. Der Boghossian, a writer, journalist, and queer individual living in Minneapolis, wondered exactly what could be done. For four years he worked on creating the Queer Armenian Library, the first digital library devoted to work by queer Armenians, himself included. Der Boghossian felt confident he was up to the task of tackling something similar but more focused on connecting LGBTQ+ authors with readers.

“I said, wouldn’t it be amazing to sit down with someone and talk about the book that had some life-giving feature for [them]?” Der Boghossian says. “And then be in conversation with the author at the same time? What was it like for them, and what did it take to get this book out there into the world?”

“This Queer Book Saved My Life!” was born, a weekly podcast that not only seeks to amplify queer voices but show how they have been shaped by books—a tribute to the liberating qualities of literature. In June, which is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, the podcast celebrated its one-year anniversary. Der Boghossian has spotlighted a number of Minnesota-based LBGTQ+ authors, such as cartoonist Robert Kirby as well as William Burleson, author of “Bi America.” The podcast has featured a diverse range of stories: the heartbreaking, the powerful, and the uncomfortable, but always delivered earnestly and honestly.

Every week, a guest introduces a book that “saved their life”—that is, a piece of literature by a queer author that informed who they are today, changed their perspective on their identity, or supported them in the process of coming out. Meanwhile, the author of the book shares background and insights on the writing and publication process, public reception, and what inspired them to write in the first place—all things that can be complicated by their queer identity.

As legislators move to ban drag performances and limit transgender health care, “This Queer Book Saved My Life!” aims to focus on the joyful and the triumphant while acknowledging the pain that exists alongside it. It’s ultimately about sharing stories that empower both the individuals telling them and those who are listening.

“It’s about creating queer joy on our own terms. I sometimes feel like we don’t get enough of that,” Der Boghossian says. “Being able to tell our own stories gives us agency and helps us process.”

With over 30 episodes and 4,000 estimated monthly listeners, the podcast has been a budding success. Listeners tune in from everywhere, from large cities to rural areas. The hope is that these stories are resonating with those who are still in the closet and feel that they don’t have a community to turn to. The podcast has also expanded to live events. Some libraries have even created e-libraries with the podcast’s featured books so that they are easily accessible. The Twin Cities’ AM 950 radio station also has started to broadcast the episodes on weekends.

Kate Linggi is an editorial intern who will be a sophomore at St. Olaf College in Northfield but is from San Diego, California. She is planning on majoring in English. In her free time, you can find her at a concert, auditioning for a play, or spending all her money at a local coffee shop.