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This Way Out Radio Episode #1706 December 7, 2020 “Maupin’s Past and Queer Futures!&#822

Armistead Maupin’s “Logical Family” combines queer cultural memory with personal odyssey.

Victories for LGBTQ candidates in the U.S. have life-affirming consequences for young queer people.

A “Rainbow Minute” celebrates “Lesbians That Led Long Lovely Lives.”

Switzerland’s slow step to marriage equality, South Australia’s ban on “gay panic” defense, the U.K. High Court’s halt to trans kids’ puberty treatment, a Chopin doc’s revelation confounds anti-queer Poland, the Macy’s parade’s first LGBTQ band, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of December 7, 2020

Maupin’s Past and Queer Futures!

Program #1,706 distributed 12/07/20

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): The Swiss Parliament moves one of the last Western European hold-outs closer to marriage equality … South Australia — the first Australian state to decriminalize same-gender sex, becomes the last Australian state to abolish the so-called “gay panic” defense for homophobic murderers … the German government is proposing financial compensation for members of the armed forces who were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation … the U.K. High Court denies access to puberty blockers for trans-teens under 16 without a court order, and suggests that doctors get one for the “experimental” treatment of 16- and 17-year-olds, too, just in case … you can now call the Oscar-nominated star of the hit movie Juno Elliot PageAimee Stephens, the victorious transgender plaintiff in June’s Supreme Court decision protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace, but who died just weeks before the decision was announced, gets the last laugh on her former employer, Harris Funeral Homes, which agrees to an out-of-court settlement paying Stephens’ estate and her lawyers a total of $250,000 … trailblazing lesbian mainstream newspaper columnist Deb Price dies from complications of degenerative lung disease at the age of 62 … the Frederic Chopin Institute in Warsaw, dedicated to notoriously homophobic Poland’s famous native son, disputes new research by a Swiss music journalist into Chopin’s letters suggesting that he was at least bisexual [with a brief excerpt from Chopin’s Waltz No. 6 in D flat Major Minute Waltz Op. 64/1 performed by PETER SCHMALFUSS] … and, after 96 years, and years of trying, the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps makes musical history by being the first-ever openly queer marching band, albeit in the pared-down 2020 COVID edition, of the world famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade [with comments by Artistic Director MARITA BEGLEY and founding band member JOE AVENA, and a snippet from their performance proudly marching down Fifth Avenue] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by WENZEL JONES and TANYA KANE-PARRY, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).

Feature: Armistead Maupin is known for his great stories about San Francisco’s queer and quirky characters. The story of his own queer and quirky life may be even better, according to This Way Out Queer Life and Lit Commentator JANET MASON (with excerpts from Maupin reading from his audiobook version of Logical Family, and intro music from San Francisco by SCOTT McKENZIE) and a TWO ID with the Tales of the City TV theme by ARMISTEAD MAUPIN.

Feature: This Rainbow Minute celebrates Lesbians That Led Long Lovely Lives (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by JANICE BROWNE).

Feature: As they say, elections have consequences, and the recent U.S. elections had major consequences for LGBTQ youth — especially those who may be struggling with their identity. The OutCasting Overtime team explores why (JUSTIN comments, produced by MARC SOPHOS, with intro music from Lookin’ For Leader by NEIL YOUNG).


A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending November 21, 2020
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Tanya Kane-Parryproduced by Brian DeShazor

Switzerland is edging closer to marriage equality.  The Parliament’s Senate narrowly approved a marriage equality bill on December 1st, voting 22 in favor and 15 against with seven abstentions.  The “marriage for all” measure had already passed in the House of Representatives.  It now returns to the lower chamber to reconcile differences between the approved versions, especially the Senate’s notable addition of a provision dealing with a child’s right to know their ancestry.

Swiss politics moves like clockwork – just slowly.  Civil partnerships for queer couples were created in 2007.  The first bill to amend the Civil Code to open civil marriage to those couples was proposed in 2013.

Even if the two houses of parliament resolve their differences on the current bill, a far-right Christian political party will fight. Leaders of the Federal Democratic Union have vowed to launch a voters’ referendum to overturn it.

Switzerland and Italy are among the last few major Western European nations without marriage equality.

December 1st also marks the passage of a South Australia bill to ban the so-called “gay panic” defense – the last Down Under state to do so.  Defense attorneys have used it to get murder charges downgraded to manslaughter.  The only “proof” required was the defendant’s claim that a homosexual advance provoked them to murder.

Tasmania became the first Australian state to outlaw the “gay panic” defense in 2003.  Ironically, in 1975 South Australia was the first Australian state to decriminalize same-gender sex.

Germany’s government will offer financial compensation to members of the military who were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. The legislation calls for payment equivalent to about four thousand U.S. dollars.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that, “I know we can’t make up for the personal injustice they suffered, but with … the payment of lump-sum compensation, we want to send a signal of redress.”

The bill requires parliamentary approval, but Kramp-Karrenbauer is optimistic about its passage.  She said that it’s intended to “restore the dignity of these people who wanted nothing other than to serve Germany.”

Proponents hope the bill will become law early in the coming year.

A government study found “systematic discrimination” against gay people in the military from 1955 to 2000 — that includes both West Germany’s military and the armed forces of the reunited Germany starting in 1990.  The Defense Ministry estimates that about a thousand people will apply for the compensation.

Parents or guardians of transgender youth under the age of 16 in England and Wales must now get a court to order puberty blockers for their children – this according to a December 1st U.K. High Court ruling.  That treatment prevents trans kids from going through puberty in the wrong gender. It’s been hailed as “life-saving” in some cases.

But a three-judge High Court panel decided that it is “highly unlikely” that a child of 13 or under would be “competent to give consent.” They said it was “doubtful” that 14- and 15-year-olds could “weigh the long-term risks and consequences.”  For 16- and 17-year-olds, the judges admitted they might be presumed to be able to consent, but that doctors may want to get court orders for those patients, too, because the judges consider puberty blockers to be “experimental” treatment.

The Tavistock and Portman National Health Service Foundation Trust operates England’s only youth gender identity clinic. They promised to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, arguing that restricting access to desired medical treatment is “likely to cause anxiety for patients and their families.”

The controversial issue of what might be the appropriate age to allow access to puberty blockers for trans children is being hotly debated elsewhere, too — especially as more and more young people freely self-identify as transgender.

Among the “names in the news” these past two weeks, the Oscar-nominated 33-year-old actor who vaulted to stardom in the movie Juno is now Elliot Page.  The Canadian native came out as lesbian in 2014.  In a social media posting this week Page wrote that, “I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they, and my name is Elliot.”

Page wrote about the horrific violence trans people suffer. He acknowledged his privilege and promised to “do everything I can to change this world for the better.”

Page also had starring roles in the X-Men series and the mind-bending movie Inception.  He currently stars in the Netflix series, The Umbrella Academy, and will continue playing the cisgender female character Vanya Hargreeves.

Page’s wife, choreographer Emma Portner, wrote on Instagram that she is “so proud … Elliot’s existence is a gift in and of itself.”

The legacy of Aimee Stephens lives on. Detroit’s Harris Funeral Homes agreed this week to pay a quarter of a million dollars to settle the lawsuit filed by their fired transgender employee. Stephens’ was one of the cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal civil rights laws ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Tragically she died in June at the age of 59 just weeks before the decision.

Harris Funeral Homes will pay $130,000 to Stephens’ estate, and $120,000 in legal costs.

Deb Price may not be a household name outside queer circles, but she was the first-ever U.S. mainstream newspaper columnist as a proudly out gay person.  Her column debuted in the Detroit News in 1992 and was increasingly re-published in major papers across the country.

Some of her columns were compiled into a best-selling book that included excerpts from correspondence she got from some of her readers.  It was called And Say Hi to Joyce.

Price’s wife Joyce Murdoch told the Bay Area Reporter that Price died on November 20th from a condition that “gradually diminished her lung capacity.”

Price also worked at the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.  She was working in Hong Kong at the South China Morning Post until she was hospitalized in September.  She was 62.

Tributes to Price poured in from around the world.  Murdoch may have summed it up best in a Facebook post: “Deb lived energetically, optimistically, bravely and fully. Her 18 years as a groundbreaking gay columnist changed lives, healed families and helped our nation progress toward being a more perfect union.”

Notoriously homophobic Poland celebrates Frédéric Chopin as a native son, although he left Warsaw for Paris early in life and never returned.  A two-hour program on Swiss public radio called Chopin’s Men may have a clue why. His biographers portray him as a womanizer, but this program claims that the composer’s homosexuality – or at least bisexuality – has been “air-brushed” from history. Swiss music journalist Moritz Weber used the COVID lockdown to review some of Chopin’s letters, and found a “flood of declarations of love aimed at men.”  In one letter, Chopin refers to the “womanizer” rumors as a “cloak for hidden feelings.”

Weber says “The fact that Chopin had to hide part of his identity … as he himself writes in his letters, would have left a mark on his personality and his art. … Music allowed him to express himself fully, because piano music has the advantage of not containing any words.”  As Chopin himself put it in one of his letters to a close male friend: “I confide in the piano the things that I sometimes want to say to you.”

Warsaw’s largest airport is named for Chopin, as are parks, streets, and public buildings.  Not surprisingly, a spokesperson for the Frédéric Chopin Institute belittled the notion that Chopin was anything but straight. They said, “The way Chopin uses language is so musical and complicated, to translate all that [from the original Polish] is madness.”

Finally, a proudly out LGBTQ band was playing musical history at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. It was a queer first in the world-famous parade’s 96-year-history.  Organizers limited bands for the pandemic year event to those in the New York tri-state area.  The Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps has been applying to participate in the parade for years.  2020 gave them the opening they needed.  An estimated 20 million people watched the televised event.

The band’s Artistic Director Marita Begley told NBC New York that [sound:] “There are families out there in middle America, throughout the country, that are going to see this and it’s going to give hope to young people who are questioning their sexuality, their gender.”

Founding band member Joe Avena elaborated: [sound:] “People will see that we’re part of them, and part of their lives, and part of what they love.”

And what song did the Artistic Director choose for the band to play as members proudly marched down Fifth Avenue?  What else but ABBA’s Dancing Queen?

[sound: a brief excerpt from the band’s performance.]

© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

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