British Broadcasting Corporation History Manager John Escolme tours its retrospective on LGBTQ coverage from the closet to liberation (interviewed by William Brougham, part 2 of 2).
Two U.S. queer icons and a hero fall to COVID-19, the 2020 International AIDS Conference goes virtual for safety, 17 U.S. Senators and GLAAD push to end restrictions on blood donations by gay and bisexual men, U.K. LGBTQ helpline calls surge with isolation concerns, COVID-19 border closures separate rainbow families, Trump’s Justice Department backs a ban on trans girl athletes, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of March 30, 2020
More Queering the Beeb!
Program #1,670 distributed 03/30/20
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Among the first notable LGBTQ deaths
from COVID-19: famed playwright Terrence McNally, legendary New York drag queen Nashom Wooden (AKA Mona Foot) and the first hospital nurse in New York City to succumb to the virus, Kious Kelly
the pandemic has led organizers of the 2020 International AIDS Conference, scheduled for early July in the San Francisco-Oakland, California area, to make it a virtual meeting instead of an in-person gathering
as the U.S. Surgeon General calls for more blood donations in the age of COVID-19, 17 U.S. Senators and the media watchdog group GLAAD are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to lift its ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men who’ve had sex with another man in the past year
calls to the U.K.-based LGBT Foundation’s helpline mushroom as the pandemic worsens
COVID-19-forced border closures are adding separation anxiety to already separated same-gender couples and those who’ve traveled to other countries for the surrogate birth of their child
Brazil’s “proudly homophobic” President Jair Bolsonaro condemns “fear-mongering” and calls for an end to regional lockdowns
Chechen autocrat Ramzan Kadyrov (who’s engineered the virtual genocide of LGBTQ people in his Russian region) tells his citizens to drink water with lemon and honey, and eat garlic, to fend off COVID-19
Trump crony Attorney General William Barr’s U.S. Justice Department weighs in on a lawsuit on the side of those who want to ban trans girls in Connecticut from competing as girls in school sports
veteran reporter Diana Zurco
becomes Argentina’s first transgender national television news co-anchor
star Argentinian basketball player Sebastian Vega comes out, as does Ireland’s 10-time triple jump national titleholder Denis Finnegan
revered Polish actor Witold Sadowy comes out after celebrating his 100th birthday (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by LAURA DICKINSON-TURNER and CHRISTOPHER GAAL, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: The British Broadcasting Corporation’s John Escolme has been spearheading the online History of the BBC’s section on the coverage of
LGBTQ issues. Last time, we heard about the pre- and post-law reform depictions of queer people, and some of the closets behind the mics. As Escolme’s conversation with This Way Out Sydney-based correspondent WILLIAM BROUGHAM continues, they talk about growing up on British “telly” and the changes that came with liberation (with music from History by ONE DIRECTION; ends with a preview of a bit more of the chat and BBC sound that we didn’t have time for on the program posted as a “Web Extra”).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending March 28, 2020
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Laura Dickinson-Turner and Christopher Gaal,produced by Brian DeShazor
The first news of high profile LGBTQ people dying from COVID-19 is coming in. Perhaps the most prominent is famed U.S. playwright Terrence McNally, who reportedly died at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida on March 24th. The four-time Tony Award-winner’s voluminous credits include Love! Valour! Compassion! about eight gay men spending three different summer holiday weekends together during the age of AIDS. He also wrote the books for Broadway’s Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ragtime, The Full Monty, and several others.
McNally was 81. He lost his first longtime partner Gary Bonasorte to HIV/AIDS in 2000. He is survived by his producer husband Tom Kirdahy.
Tributes are also pouring in for a favorite in the New York City drag scene, who also succumbed to COVID-19 this week. Muscular African-American entertainer Nashom Wooden was known by the drag name Mona Foot. He may be best known for appearing in a gold, shimmering Wonder Woman outfit in the style of the title character from the 1970’s TV show. Wooden and his band The Ones made it big on Australia’s music charts in 2001 with a club anthem called “Flawless.”
His close friend and Project Runway designer Geoffrey Mac confirmed Wooden’s death from COVID-19 in an Instagram video. Wooden was only 50 years old.
And the first New York City nurse to die from COVID-19 was a gay man, Kious Kelly. According to the New York Times, Kelly worked as assistant nurse manager at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai West. He died at the age of 48 on March 24th.
Many of Kelly’s co-workers lit up social media charging that his COVID-19 infection was due in part to the lack of sufficent personal protective equipment – including masks and gowns. He had asthma but was otherwise in good health. Kelly’s sister Marya Patrice Sherron wrote on Facebook that “His death could have been prevented … Please help get our healthcare workers the protection they need.”
The 2020 International Conference on AIDS will be a virtual meeting instead of a gathering in the San Francisco-Oakland, California area in early July. Organizers say in a statement on their website that meeting online “will enable delegates to access and engage with the latest HIV science, advocacy and knowledge traditionally presented at the conference.”
Meanwhile, 17 U.S. Senators and the queer media watchdog group GLAAD are calling on the Food & Drug Administration to reconsider its blood donation restrictions. F.D.A. regulations include a blanket ban on donations from men who’ve had sex with men in the previous 12 months.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and others have been pleading for blood donations to shore up waning supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senators’ March 26th letter leans on that point. Lesbian Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was reportedly the spearhead, along with former presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey. Other signatories include former presidential candidates Amy Klobucher of Minnesota and Kamala Harris of California, and remaining candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
GLAAD has a petition online demanding that the F.D.A. remove the ban. GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis echoes the petition in a statement saying, “The F.D.A. needs to put science above stigma.”
A note from the Sydney Star Observer: Australia has the same 12-month celibacy requirement for gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood.
There’s been a surge in the number of calls to the U.K.-based LGBT Foundation’s helpline since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Pink News reports that calls have more than doubled from this time last year.
In addition to dealing with “severe anxiety and concern” over the pandemic itself, several calls came from LGBTQ young people stuck in self-isolation with abusive family members. Other callers are being forced to stay at home with an abusive partner.
The helpline at 0345 3 30 30 30 is now operating remotely 10am to 6pm Monday thru Friday, and the organization says it will soon cover evening and weekend hours. They can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19 stress is also making life less healthy for international “rainbow families.” Advocacy groups are warning that global border closures prompted by the pandemic are leaving some queer couples separated. Some couples are stranded together or individually in a foreign country with their surrogate as she nears the birth of their child. Other parents will completely miss their surrogacy birth in another land.
Elsewhere, if U.S. President Donald Trump has been slow to catch on, his Brazilian doppelganger is even farther behind. Claiming machismo over COVID-19, far-right Presdient Jair Bolsonaro is condemning what he labels “fear-mongering,” and he’s calling for an end to regional lockdowns.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov is telling people in the mostly-Muslim Russian region to drink water with lemon and honey to combat the virus … and eat garlic.
Even the worldwide pandemic does not slow down the Trump administration’s concerted campaign against LGBTQ rights.
The U.S. Justice Department under Trump crony Attorney General William Barr filed a “statement of interest” this week supporting a lawsuit to block trans girls from competing as girls in school sports. The suit on behalf of three Connecticut students was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom. That’s a far-right religious group with a long rap sheet of anti-queer legal interventions. They argue that the policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference is unfair to cisgender girls who have to compete against transgender girls.
The American Civil Liberties Union represents two transgender athletes who run track in Connecticut. Attorney Chase Strangio lamented that rather than enjoying the last track season of their senior year, the girls “now have to contend with the federal government arguing against their right to equal educational opportunities.”
COVID-19 is currently keeping anyone from competing. State school athletic officials have yet to decide whether the spring track season will be just postponed or cancelled altogether.
In more liberating news, Argentina has its first transgender news anchor. Forty-year-old reporter Diana Zurco made history with her debut as co-anchor of the nation’s public television evening news program on March 23rd. Zurco told the Associated Press, “… behind me there are more people like me who want to express themselves. We are capable, we can study, we can train ourselves, we can communicate to you what is happening in our country.”
Rosario Lufrano of Radio and Television Argentina said that Zurco was not chosen because she was trans, but “because she was a very good professional.”
Another Argentinian was among at least three notable people who fled the closet this month.
Thirty-one-year-old Sebastián Vega plays for his hometown Gimnasia de Comodoro in one of the country’s top leagues. He came out in a lengthy social media post this week.
The reaction from teammates and most others has been positive. Vega told Reuters, “I was really scared but the fear didn’t paralyze me … I felt truly free; it had been a long time since I’d walked without such a heavy weight on my shoulders.”
One of track and field’s most accomplished competitors hop-skip-jumped out this week. Ireland’s triple jump specialist Denis Finnegan is the winner of 10 national titles.
The 33-year-old Finnegan is currently based in Melbourne, Australia. He explains in a new Outsports podcast that being gay is just a small part of who he is as a person, “and an even smaller part as an athlete.”
Finnegan says being out to his family and close friends but publicly closeted created a kind of schizophrenic tension. He hopes his coming out will help young queer athletes and “give them more confidence in what they’re doing.”
Finally, are you ever too old to come out? Not according to one acclaimed Polish actor!
Witold Sadowy concluded an interview on his life and career saying that without regret he is “proud of being an honest man” and that he did not marry because, “… I was born different. I’m gay. Now I have said everything, as in confession.”
Sadowy first appeared on the stages of Warsaw’s largest theaters in 1945, and retired in 1989. He’s also been in several films, written books on theater, and was a theater columnist. He’s survived being gay through two world wars, through Poland as a Soviet satellite, and after its independence.
Sadowy holds government medal for his “outstanding service” to Polish culture, and is a “distinguished member” of the Association of Polish Stage Artists.
Despite increasingly ugly homophobia in Poland, Sadowy’s coming out was greeted by generally supportive social media responses. He did it on his birthday to celebrate becoming the country’s oldest living actor … at the tender age of 100!
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