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“Angels”: Still Alive!

Angels in America spreads its wings for the backstage book The World Only Spins Forward!

Queer Life & Literature Commentator Janet Mason goes noir for a trans mystery hero who “Jinxes” the bad guys in Chaser!

A Rainbow Minute vocalizes about The Power of Women’s Music!

Tens of thousands strike against Israel’s surrogacy discrimination, Seoul’s Queer Culture Fest Parade shrivels the opposition, India’s top court weighs sodomy repeal, marriage equality revenue beautifies Saipan, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of July 23, 2018

Angels: Still Alive!

Program #1,582 distributed 07/23/18

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): South Korean equality advocates defy stifling heat and nationwide opposition to surpass all previous crowd records at the kick-off Parade of the 19th Seoul Queer Culture Festival, while in Glasgow, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon snubs Donald Trump to become the first U.K. government leader to lead an LGBTQ Pride Parade; an unprecedented nationwide strike by LGBTQ people and their supporters protests the Israeli parliament’s refusal to include same-gender couples in surrogacy law reforms; the governing body of the U.S. Episcopal Church tells all bishops that they must allow the weddings of lesbian and gay couples in their diocese even if they personally oppose them; India’s Supreme Court wraps up hearings in a case challenging the British colonial-era anti-gay sex laws of the world’s second most populous nation, the outcome of which will affect almost one in five LGBTQ people on the planet; and queer couples from China, South Korea, Russia, and even Bangladesh boost tourism revenues by getting married in Saipan, the capital of the northwestern Pacific Ocean U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by FRANCES O’BRIEN and SETH ERIC CUTLER).

Feature: Angels in America ended its limited engagement 25th anniversary revival run on Broadway on July 15th. Tony Kushner’s epic 1993 play and the 2001 HBO televised version directed by Mike Nichols has won a long list of awards, including several Tonys, Golden Globes, Emmys and a Pulitzer. The curtain may have wrung down on the latest performances, but the experience lives on in The World Only Spins Forward, an oral history of the play by Slate editor Dan Kois and director-writer Isaac Butler. Butler sat down with JOHN SHUCK of Progressive Spirit at KBOO-Portland to talk about the book and the play’s striking relevance to the present (we added intro music from the HBO production by THOMAS NEWMAN).


Feature: This Way Out Queer Life and Literature Commentator JANET MASON goes noir with a trans feminist bounty hunter in Dharma Kelleher’s Chaser (with instrumental intro/outro music performed by NICHOLAS PAYTON).


Feature: The Power of Women’s Music is celebrated in a Rainbow Minute (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by SONiA of disappear fear; we added intro music by MEG CHRISTIAN and outro music by DISAPPEAR FEAR)


Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!


A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBT communities for the week ending July 21st, 2018

Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, and reported by Frances O’Brien and Seth Eric Cutler

A petition circulating in South Korea demanded that the government stop the LGBTQ Pride Parade in Seoul on July 14th. More than 200,000 people supported the failed effort.

And despite stifling heat close to 33 degrees Celsius, or 92 degrees Fahrenheit, organizers said some 120,000 sexual and gender-variant minorities and their supporters marched in the start to the week-long 19th Seoul Queer Culture Festival, breaking all previous records. The name “Seoul” was added to the title this year because similar events have now been or are being held in at least 5 other South Korean cities.

Outnumbered by about 500 police officers dispatched to keep the peace, members of various conservative religious groups gathered nearby to chant and hold signs calling same-gender love a sin. A few laid down on the hot pavement for a few moments in a symbolic attempt to stop the Rainbow Riders motorcycle club from kicking off the parade.

Several foreign dignitaries marched, and 9 of the 105 pre-parade booths were staffed by the embassies of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S., plus the European Union’s delegation to South Korea, and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, the only South Korean government agency to participate.

The parade’s chief organizer, identified only as Kang by the English-language “Joon Gang Daily”, said that, “Korean society may look stagnant because the opposition has the loudest voice, but society is continuously changing, and we will eventually hear more voices calling for progress.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon passed up the chance to meet with Donald Trump, who was golfing at one of his Scottish resorts during his recent European trip, to become the first leader of a U.K. government to lead an LGBTQ Pride Parade – this one on July 14th in Glasgow.

Sturgeon has been a sharp critic of the U.S. President, and it should come as no surprise that he reportedly dislikes her. It should also come as no surprise that Trump himself was greeted by noisy protesters wherever he went in Europe.

The only Glasgow Pride disappointment came when organizers had to apologize to hundreds of ticket-holders to the post-Parade festival at Kelvingrove Park who were turned away after the crowd reached maximum legal capacity.

Addressing the record-breaking post-parade rally of more than 12,000 people, and wearing a rainbow-colored “Choose Love” T-shirt, Sturgeon said that she was genuinely proud to be there. “Scotland values tolerance, Scotland values diversity, Scotland values respect for all,” she said, “and above all Scotland values love.”

She also told the crowd that she’s “tickled” by reports that Trump hates her and has even been “bitching” about her to British Prime Minister Theresa May. “If it’s true, I suppose I should take it as a compliment,” she said. “I certainly don’t spend that much time talking about him.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ireland’s openly gay P.M. Leo Varadkar have previously led Pride Parades in their respective countries.

Equality supporters in Israel planned to hold an unprecedented nationwide strike on July 22nd to protest the exclusion of same-gender couples from reforms to surrogacy laws approved by the Knesset, or parliament, late last week.

The queer community’s major national advocacy group, Agudah, wrote on its Facebook page that on that day “workers from the community, and likewise our supporters and partners, will not be present at work and will close their businesses to protest the blatant discrimination against the LGBT community.”

Large street demonstrations in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were held to protest the parliamentary snub within hours of the vote. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a particular target for having declared his support for the right of single men to use a surrogate – which many believe would effectively have allowed surrogacy for same-gender couples – and two days later, under political pressure from the far right elements of his coalition government, voted against that idea and with the majority to extend surrogacy rights only to single women. Such services until now have only been available to infertile married heterosexual couples.

Opposition parties were quick to call Netanyahu “cowardly” and “spineless.”

The effort to open surrogacy to queer Israeli couples has gained the support of several corporate giants. Microsoft is offering to help cover the costs of international surrogacy – the only option now available, which is both expensive and fraught with legal obstacles – to any gay or lesbian Israeli employee interested in starting a family through surrogacy. Mellanox Technologies is offering similar financial assistance, in addition to a month off for parental leave, and said it would allow its workers to participate in the July 22nd strike. Proctor & Gamble said it would allow its workers to join the strike without having to take a vacation day to do it. So did local branches of Facebook, IBM, and E-Bay.

Israel’s third-largest carrier, Israir Airlines, said it would allow staff to wear black on the day of the strike to show their solidarity. Leading carrier El Al Airlines issued a statement of support for its employees who want to participate in the strike. And the country’s Airports Authority warned of probable flight delays because of the work stoppage.

Delegates to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, meeting this week in Austin, Texas, overwhelmingly approved a resolution to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married in the diocese of their choice, whether or not the bishop approves. Bishops in 8 of the Church’s 109 dioceses have until now been allowed to ban those weddings even if other clergy in the diocese are happy to officiate them.

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, delegates to the last General Convention in 2015 – it’s a triennial event – voted to allow church weddings, but also gave dissenting bishops the option of refusing to sanction them.

Individual members of the clergy can still refuse to wed a gay or lesbian couple — but they will now have to refer the couple to another priest or bishop who’s willing to perform the sacrament.

A member of the queer-inclusive All Sacraments for All People movement within the Episcopal Church told the “Tennessean” newspaper – her state’s Bishop has been among those refusing to marry queer couples – that it was “a wonderful compromise, which respects the dignity of the bishop and his position, but still allows marriage for all in their home congregations.”

The resolution affecting some 2 million Episcopalians won’t come into force until the first Sunday of Advent, December 2nd.

The Supreme Court of India wrapped up hearings this week in a challenge to Penal Code Section 377, which criminalizes private consensual adult same-gender sex as a “crime against nature.” A ruling is expected before the end of September.

Many court observers said the hearings went well for the repeal side, and some are predicting a unanimous decision striking down the antiquated law once and for all. A few are predicting that the 5-judge panel will go even further and order some specific non-discrimination protections.

Decriminalization in India could also begin a domino effect of repeal of similar anti-gay sex laws inherited from British colonial rule in half of some 70 other countries.

India is the world’s second most populous nation. As veteran queer journalist Rex Wockner has noted, a favorable ruling will decriminalize 18 percent of all the LGBT people on the planet. “

Nearly one in five LGBT people on Earth no longer being criminals,” he wrote, “would probably qualify as one of the top 10 LGBT news stories of all time.”

And finally, you may remember The Battle for Saipan from your days in history class as having been among the bloodiest of World War II, claiming tens of thousands of lives on both sides. Saipan is now the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands, which has been a Commonwealth of the United States ever since.

Mayor David Apatang bragged this week that tourism is booming on the northwestern Pacific Ocean island, thanks in large part to gay and lesbian couples from other countries who’ve been coming to Saipan since the U.S. Supreme Court declared marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states and in its territories. The mayor has personally married several couples, including one from Bangladesh. But the majority of couples come from China, and he’s married a few of those couples, too. Others have come from South Korea and Russia. According to data issued by the Mayor’s office, of the 117 marriage licenses issued from January to June of this year in Saipan, 90 were to same-gender couples. 61 were female couples, and 29 were male.

The boom goes on despite the recent increase in marriage license fees. It’s 130 dollars for residents, but now 250 dollars for non-residents. Apatang pointed out that the marriages nevertheless continue to add up. “Instead of three and four every day,” he said, “we increased it from five to six; that’s more revenue for us.”                                              The mayor said he’ll use the marriage equality tourism income to continue beautification projects on the islands.

====== UPDATE to the Israeli Queer Strike story =====

(reported by Lucia Chappelle)

Updating our story on Israel’s nationwide strike over the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples under the new surrogacy law, thousands of people demonstrated throughout the day on July 22nd. Protesters blocked traffic in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba and other cities. One activist reported that a car tried to ram into amassed demonstrators. Two or three people were arrested outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home. The day’s events were capped by a rally of 60,000 at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.

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