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Literati, Legends & the Lepus

Surrealist lesbians come to life in the new historical novel Never Anyone But You!

The toe-tapping tales of consciousness raising chart-toppers by Lou Reed and Sylvester!

There’s more than humor in the Marlon Bundo White House bunny books!

Plus Fiji’s first Pride signals a South Pacific breakthrough, Papal compassion contends that God creates gays, U.S. primary elections catapult queers into statewide contention, trans teens are triumphant in toilet trials, researchers discover switched genders in trans brains, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 28, 2018

Literati, Legends & the Lepus!

Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below):

Fiji makes queer history with its first LGBT Pride march and the first-ever such event in the South Pacific; Roman Catholic Pope Francis makes waves with his latest seemingly pro-queer comments, but also cautions Italian bishops to weed out applicants to the priesthood who might be gay; a number of lesbian and gay candidates of color advance in election primaries across the U.S., while two rights-seeking transgender teens score major U.S. court victories; Belgian and Brazilian researchers discover that transgender peoples’ brains reflect their identity rather than their biology … and more LGBTQ news from around the world (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by WENZEL JONES and CAROLE MEYERS).


TWO Queer Life & Literature commentator JANET MASON calls the new historical novel Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thompson (Other Press) a “literary tour de force.”

The Outrageous Sylvester is profiled in this “TWO-enhanced” Rainbow Minute [we added the music] (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by MIKE RUTZ).

You might think that a book about Marlon Bundo, a high-ranking White House rabbit who’s gay, is just good for a chuckle. But some young social critics we know found more than carrots to chew on. And, just for fun, we’ve also thrown an excerpt from the audiobook version into this month’s Outcasting Overtime hopper (introduced by Outcaster Dhruv, written by Lauren and Lucas, read by Lucas and produced by MARC SOPHOS; plus the excerpt starring Jim Parsons, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and John Lithgow).

Before we sashay away this week, Take A Walk On The Wild Side in another “TWO-enhanced” Rainbow Minute [again, we added the music] (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by JOHN PORTER).

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

NewsWrap Transcript

A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBT communities for the week ending May 26th, 2018

As broadcast on “This Way Out” Program #1,574 distributed 05/28/18

Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, and reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Carol Meyers

Activists in Fiji used the May 17th International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia to stage the island nation’s very first LGBTQ Pride March. It was also the first queer Pride event ever held in the South Pacific.

Calling it a “breakthrough” to finally get a permit for the march, Rainbow Pride Foundation Executive Director Isikeli Vulavou told “Gay Star News” that they chose Fiji’s second-largest city, Lautoka, after police denied their multiple requests to hold the march in the capital, Suva. Police in Lautoka even provided an escort for the estimated 50 marchers.

Local media accounts described onlookers’ reaction to the march as largely positive. That may signal a growing change in Fiji, even though the small island nation of about 900,000 people became only the second in the world in 2013 to protect the rights of LGBTQ people in its Constitution. South Africa was the first in 1994. But deep-seated societal prejudices in both countries tend to express themselves in more violent forms outside of major cities. Vulavou noted that even in major metropolitan areas, LGBTQ people in Fiji are vulnerable almost anywhere, “including at their respective homes and families, workplaces and communities.”

And queer Fijians have no friend in Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who infamously said in 2016 that all LGBT people on the island should move to Iceland.

A Chiléan gay man who suffered clerical sexual abuse sent shockwaves across Roman Catholicism this week when he told the Spanish newspaper “El Pais” that Pope Francis said in a private conversation that God made him gay and loved him that way. Juan Carlos Cruz told the newspaper that Francis said that, “It doesn’t matter to me. The pope loves you this way, you must be happy the way you are.”

Cruz was one of three Chiléan victims who were invited by the pope to Rome this month in the wake of a scandal in the South American country over priestly sexual abuse, and efforts by the Church hierarchy there to sweep it under the rug.

When pressed by reporters, the Vatican refused to confirm or deny that the pope had made those remarks, explaining that it is their policy to not comment on private conversations.

Francis also made waves soon after being elected in 2013 when he told a reporter that, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” By contrast, his predecessor Pope Benedict called homosexuality “an intrinsic moral evil.”

While activists working for change within the Church applauded the latest reported pro-queer comments, they pointed out that they don’t represent a change in official doctrine. But Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, which works for LGBT equality within the Catholic Church, told “The Advocate” that, “they do represent a major change in pastoral attitude and practice.”

New York’s homophobic Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan dismissed the papal remarks as nothing new. He said that Jesus would have said the same thing to the abuse survivor, but also insisted that the pope was not qualified to say that God made people gay. He echoed the typical “hate the sin, not the sinner” refrain common among conservative people of faith who insist that being queer is a choice. “While any sexual expression outside of a man and woman in marriage is contrary to God’s purpose,” he told a radio audience, “so is not treating anyone, including a gay person, with anything less than dignity and respect.”

A less-than-respectful Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association complained that Francis had “apparently joined Lady Gaga in the ‘Born That Way’ crowd” – never mind that the song is “Born This Way”. “Homosexuality,” he claimed, “is … utterly contrary to the plan of God for humanity.”

Alan Keyes, a conservative Catholic commentator and failed Senate and presidential candidate who disowned his lesbian daughter, called the pope’s comments “scandalous.”

But before equality activists break out the champagne, it should be noted that Francis this week, according to a report in a Vatican newspaper, warned Italian bishops to reject any applicants to the priesthood whom they suspect might be gay. “If in doubt,” he reportedly said during a private meeting, “better not let them enter.”

When asked for confirmation of those remarks, the Vatican again said that it doesn’t comment on what the pope may have said in a private meeting.

In U.S. elections news, several openly lesbian and gay candidates enjoyed success in primary races this week.

In Texas, current Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez won the Democratic nomination for governor. If she defeats Republican incumbent Greg Abbott in November – a tall order – Valdez will become the first openly queer person of color to hold any statewide elected office. Texas Democrats also nominated Gina Ortiz Jones and Eric Holguin. If they’re elected, they’ll be the first out Asian-American woman and first out Latino man, respectively, in Congress.

Tippi McCullough is poised to become the only openly queer member of the Arkansas state legislature. She won the Democratic nomination and will have no Republican opponent in November.

Malcolm Kenyatta overcame a blatantly homophobic smear campaign to win the Democratic nomination for a seat in the Pennsylvania House. He could become that chamber’s first openly queer person of color if he wins in November.

At the same time, Democrat Lamont Robinson could become Illinois’ first openly gay African-American state legislator.

But in Kentucky, one of the gay men who was infamously denied a marriage license by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in 2015, David Ermold, lost his bid in a 4-way race to challenge Davis’ re-election.

Two transgender U.S. teens won major court victories this week.

In a somewhat unusual case, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supported a Pennsylvania school district’s policy of allowing trans students to use the campus restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. An anonymous cisgender student known as “Joel Doe” and his parents sued the Boyertown Area School District after “Doe” became uncomfortable sharing a locker room to change for gym class with a transgender male. School officials stuck by the policy, telling them that “Doe” could use alternative facilities, such as a bathroom in the nurse’s office. That’s often what transgender students are told when they’re prevented from using the restroom or locker room of their choice.

The unanimous three-judge panel issued a ruling from the bench that upheld a lower court decision soon after hearing oral arguments, promising the formal written ruling at a later date. One of the judges said that he and his colleagues knew how important the decision was to the high school students involved in the case. A surprised Ria Mar, an attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said that, “We were not expecting a decision when we walked in the door today.”

The losing side, represented by the far-right Alliance Defending Freedom, said they’d appeal.

In the second case, a U.S. district judge ruled that federal civil rights laws banning sex discrimination in education, and the equal protection clause in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, each protect transgender students from discrimination, and that a lawsuit by trans student Gavin Grimm may proceed against his former Virginia school district.

In the highest profile trans rights case to date in the U.S., the Supreme Court agreed in 2016 to review a lower court decision that ordered his school district to allow Grimm to use the campus bathrooms that matched his gender identity. The case centered on guidelines issued by the administration of then-President Barack Obama that said civil rights laws banning bias based on sex protected trans people, too. But the high court sent the case back to the lower courts earlier this year after the Trump administration formally rescinded those guidelines.

A finally, according to a study released this week by a Belgian neurologist, a trans person’s brain activity tends to match their identity rather than their biology. Professor Julie Bakker of the University of Liège studied the MRI’s of 160 children and teens with gender dysphoria and discovered that trans boys’ brain functions resemble those of cis boys’, while trans girls’ brains resemble those of cis girls. She said that she hoped her study would help “support these young people, instead of just sending them to a psychiatrist and hoping that their distress will disappear spontaneously.”

Earlier this year, Brazilian researchers at the University of São Paulo Medical School compared the brains of trans and cisgender adults and discovered that they are significantly different. The insula – a region of the brain that plays an important role in body image, self-awareness, and empathy – was noticeably different depending on whether it was in the brain of a trans or cis subject. The researchers say they believe that people may already be trans in the womb.

As my colleague Wenzel might say …

[sound/WJ: “Now I’m fascinated!”]

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