Chaos at the U.S./Mexico border engulfs a Salvadoran lesbian mother and her child!
YouTube math sells trans content short!
A Rainbow Minute honors Rainbow Flag creator Gilbert Baker!
A storied Singapore leader’s grandson Dots the Pink, Pride debuts in Barbados despite religious objections, marriage equality advances in Cuba and Switzerland, a Connecticut McDonald’s trolls its less “welcoming” Chick-Fil-A neighbor, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of July 30, 2018
Asylum Crisis & YouTube Wars!
Program #1,583 distributed 07/30/18
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The grandson of Singapore’s first prime minister comes out with his partner by his side ahead of the 10th record-breaking queer-loving Pink Dot Festival, while Barbados locals – and even a few tourists – march in the Caribbean island’s first-ever LGBTQ Pride Parade; Cuba’s National Assembly charts a path toward marriage equality, while a Swiss parliamentary committee recommends a one-step-at-a-time process; Israel’s High Court hints at support for the parental rights of same-gender couples, while more than 200 rabbis across the country sign on to a letter condemning LGBTQ people as “perverts” and labeling recent street actions for queer equality “marches of abomination”; and a Glastonbury, Connecticut McDonald’s franchise lights up social media with its sarcastic Golden Arches “welcome” to a fast food Chick-Fil-A eatery newly opened next door (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, reported this week by WENZEL JONES and MICHELE YEATER).
Feature: Toddlers are being torn from their parents and thrown into U.S. immigration “baby jails,” and the circumstances driving those parents to seek asylum are being ignored. This Way Out’s LUCIA CHAPPELLE has the story of one mother – Salvadoran Belqui Yessenia Castillo Cortez – trying to escape violent homophobia at home (with thanks to Democracy Now! and intro/outro music from Mother, Mother by CRIS WILLIAMSON).
Feature: As if being young and transgender were not difficult enough, YouTube may be making it worse. Dhruv introduces Lucas as the Outcasting Overtime crew (produced by MARC SOPHOS) adds up the algorithms (we added the intro music, Teen Freak by DAVID BROWN).
Feature: A Rainbow From Sea to Sea celebrates Rainbow Flag creator Gilbert Baker in this Rainbow Minute (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by Richmond, VA City Councilman CHARLES SAMUELS).
“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 28th, 2018
As broadcast on This Way Out Program #1,583 distributed 07/30/18 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Michele Yeater
Singapore’s 10th annual Pink Dot festival celebrating the diversity of love in the Southeast Asian city-state on July 21st was said to have broken all attendance records, and was preceded a few days earlier by the proud self-outing of the grandson of Singapore’s revered founder.
Thousands converged on Speaker’s Corner in Hong Lim Park, the only area in Singapore where pre-approved public demonstrations are allowed. Most celebrants were adorned in pink and carried pink-hued flashlights. And as night fell, thousands formed a large glowing heart that melted human hearts in photographs taken from high above the park. We couldn’t find a published crowd estimate this year, but some 20,000 people bathed the night skies in pink in 2017.
The government has done its best to suppress the event. It banned foreigners from sponsoring or participating in the Pink Dot festival in 2016. Several multi-national conglomerates with offices in Singapore had provided major financial support until then. But organizers persevered, recruiting a total of 113 local business sponsors this year, all in compliance with the government edict.
The theme of Pink Dot 10 was We Are Ready, accompanied by demands for equal rights for LGBTQ people in the nation’s schools, workplaces and healthcare system. Singaporean actors Adrian Pang and Lim Yu Beng called for the repeal of Section 377A of the Singapore criminal code, the remnant of British colonial rule that – like India’s Penal Code section 377 – makes private consensual adult same-gender sex a crime. Theatre director Ivan Heng, who married his husband in London in 2014, echoed this year’s Pink Dot theme by saying that “’We are ready’ to see more positive portrayals of LGBTQ people in our mainstream media without censorship – because we are sick and tired of being seen as tragic characters or vilified as perverts.”
Premier Lee Hsien Loong has said that he’s prepared to keep Section 377A on the books “until social attitudes change.” His nephew, 31-year-old Li Huanwu, who’s also the grandson of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, is doing his best to speed up that process. He came out with his 27-year-old partner by his side, veterinarian Hirui Heng, a few days before the Pink Dot festival, where the couple was widely photographed. Huanwu urged straight allies to attend in a Facebook posting, and wrote that all LGBTQ people “have a moral responsibility to come. If you do not stand up yourself,” he wrote, “you cannot expect others to fight for you.”
Barbados islanders celebrated LGBTQ Pride for the first time on July 22nd in the capital city of Bridgetown by dancing down the street to sound trucks blaring songs like Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out”. A colorful carnival atmosphere prevailed as an estimated 150 local activists, their supporters, and even a few tourists paraded through downtown.
Organizers faced less than smooth sailing to pull off the march, however. They only secured permission to hold the event 2 days before it kicked off, and faced vocal opposition from fundamentalist religious leaders. Several told a press conference the week before that the queer “agenda” is a form of “neocolonialism” that opposes “the biblical narrative of Adam and Eve.” One of the organizers, Ro-Ann Mohammed, told Pink News that she genuinely feared that the venomous rhetoric would spark homophobic violence at the parade, but was pleasantly “surprised by the amount of love and positivity that overwhelmed the air.”
Mohammed said she was especially encouraged by local Anglican minister Clifford Hall, who exhorted the parade rally to “not let anyone bully you, or torment or terrorize you. They have had their day. Yours is now and tomorrow and forever … so, speaking as a priest, I say, ‘Welcome all to the flock of Christ.’”
Gay and lesbian couples in Cuba are achingly close to getting the right to marry. The island’s National Assembly unanimously approved several changes to the country’s constitution on July 23rd that include extending civil marriage rights to same-gender couples.
The draft revisions will be open for public consultation and debate from August 13th through November 15th. A referendum in the communist nation will follow. While the revisions also include recognizing private property for the first time in decades, local commentators are calling marriage equality among the most significant.
Former Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela Castro Espin has been the most vocal public advocate for LGBTQ equality on the island, and heads the well-respected National Center for Sex Education. She led a “Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia” in March, where thousands danced down Havana streets among rainbow flags and Fidel Castro banners, and led a rally for marriage equality in May. Continuing reverence for Fidel forgives his sending an estimated 25,000 gay men to labor camps in the earlier years of his presidency. He formally apologized for those actions in 2010.
By a vote of 14-to-11, the Legal Affairs Committee of the Swiss Parliament has recommended marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples – but in carefully modulated stages. Switzerland is one of the few remaining Western European nations to not have opened the civil institution to those couples. They’re currently allowed to enter into less-than-equal registered partnerships.
According to a number of national news sites, committee members wanted to separate allowing same-gender couples to marry from related rights to medically assisted procreation, adoption, and spousal pensions equality. They fear that trying to pass a package with all of those rights at one time – the most controversial being access to fertility services – would fail.
One lawmaker predicted basic marriage equality for same-gender couples in Switzerland by January 2021.
Queer activists generally voiced support for the initiatives, while at the same time lamenting the decision to deal with other rights associated with marriage equality separately, and at an as yet undetermined time.
The intentional exclusion of same-gender couples from reforms to surrogacy laws in Israel sparked massive street demonstrations across the country and a nationwide work stoppage on July 22nd that was supported by many of the country’s leading companies. The nation’s High Court hinted its support for the parental rights of same-gender couples this week in 2 different cases, though no binding decisions were issued.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under specific fire for publically supporting the inclusion of single men to the law reform that opened surrogacy services to single women, only to vote against including single men two days later under pressure from conservative orthodox members of his coalition government. Until then, only married heterosexual couples could access fertility services in Israel. Many commentators believe that opening surrogacy services to single men as well as to single women would have allowed access to those services by same-gender couples.
Meanwhile, a letter circulating in Israel signed by more than 200 rabbis picked at wounds in the queer community that have yet to heal. It supported earlier comments about surrogacy by Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, who wrote that allowing same-gender couples to become parents would condemn their children to “wretched lives.” The letter labeled LGBTQ people “perverts” who want to “destroy the concept of family,” and called the recent street demonstrations for queer rights “marches of abomination.” The letter went on to claim that the razing of the Second Temple in Jerusalem almost 2 thousand years ago was “in part due to illicit sexual relations.”
Among its many critics, lawmaker Stav Shaffir of the center-left Zionist Union Party told LGBTQ young people in particular that “You are … good people, strong, loving, and most importantly, equal. It is forbidden to spend even a minute on these harsh words of leaders who have lost control and are attempting by force to drag us decades backwards. Israeli society has woken up,” she said. “Stay strong.”
And finally, a Connecticut outlet of the increasingly queer-friendly McDonald’s fast food chain has posted a “welcome” of sorts to its just-opened next-door neighbor Chick-fil-A. The latter eatery made headlines a few years ago when its unapologetically anti-queer CEO Dan Cathy said his business was “very supportive of the biblical definition of the family unit.”
A recent story in The New Yorker reported on the many far right anti-queer causes Cathy still generously supports, and called the restaurant chain’s affiliation with conservative religious groups “creepy.”
The sign below the landmark Golden Arches outside the Glastonbury McDonald’s usually promotes daily specials. But franchise manager Susan Lefleur put up the simple words, “We Welcome Everyone” on the side of the marquee facing the next-door chicken franchise. The other side pushes the Quarter Pounder.
Lefleur insisted that the message is not political, and that her staff just tries to “come up with something cute” to say in the limited space on the sign. But photos of the marquee across from the Chick-fil-A have spread like wildfire across social media.
New Chick-fil-A franchise owner Jordan Snook was quick to announce that his outlet also welcomes everyone.
But McDonald’s customer Tina Manus told the local NBC TV affiliate that she drove an hour from her home in Stratford, Connecticut to Glastonbury, just to see the shade-throwing signage for herself.
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