In a culture where sincerity and intimacy are increasingly mocked, "The Heart" podcast is most certainly not for everyone. Even beyond the close-up subject matter, the tone of host Kaitlin Prest and many of the featured subjects tend towards the kind of breathy even-handedness that could cause you to pass out and drive off a cliff (if you're driving while listening, which I don't recommend.) Once you figure out that the series aims entirely to soothe, the tone makes sense.
"The Heart" proceeds in offbeat "seasons," each collecting five or six stories from the intimate personal lives of Prest's subjects. The most recent season, "Pansy," deals with men who have been noted as effeminate by the people in their lives, or by little nagging voices at the back of their minds.
A man named Allen, a friend who Prest always thought of as a "regular straight dude," surprised her one day by identifying himself as gender clear. His story has been spun into an episode called "The Beloved," in which Allen relates his "long journey" from a startling discovery during sack time with a girlfriend. (The descriptors and language are fairly graphic, though related with humor and warmth; that said, this is for open-minded grown-ups only.)
At the end of Allen's journey (so far), he discovered another self (a feminine one) within him which he touchingly refers to as "The Beloved." "The front of her body is the back of mine," he poetically illustrates.
While not every story on "The Heart" is directly related to issues of gender identity, that kind of emotionally resonant material is the show's raison d'etre, and in an often harsh and hurried world, it is most surely welcome.
Title: "The Heart"
Episodes Available: 43
Episode Length: 20 minutes
Where to Download: theheartradio
Host: Kaitlin Prest