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This Way Out Radio Episode #1713 January 25, 2021 “Inaugural Jam & Memorial Gem!”

Queer and queer-adjacent highlights from the Inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris include excerpts from Biden’s address and Amanda Gorman’s poetry, and music by John Legend, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez (“GayUSA’s” Ann Northrop and Andy Humm).

The tenth anniversary of the murder of Ugandan activist David Kato and the re-election of his nemesis President Yoweri Museveni coincide.

Biden orders U.S. federal LGBTQ job rights, Buttigieg “refreshes” Senators at his confirmation hearing, key U.S. Cabinet nominees support queer equality, trans health official first to be tapped for U.S. federal post, reformed White House website reflects gender diversity, millions meme Bernie’s lesbian mittens, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of January 25, 2021

Inaugural Jam & Memorial Gem!

Program #1,713 distributed 01/25/21

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in as the next President and Vice President of the United States, and among the first acts of the new administration is an Executive Order enforcing the June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling protecting LGBTQ people from workplace bias … Transportation Secretary-designate Pete Buttigieg utters never-before-heard-in-Senate-confirmation-hearings words in his introductory remarks … Defense Secretary-designate Lloyd Austin confirms his support for military service by qualified transgender enlistees … Secretary of State-designate Anthony Blinken also confirms pro-queer beliefs during his confirmation hearings, and Ned Price is tapped to become the first openly queer spokesperson for the U.S. State Department … President Biden also taps transgender Pennsylvania State Health Director Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, which puts her on track to become the first transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate … the Biden White House website quickly offers expanded pronoun choices and prefix designations for visitors wanting to leave comments … you’ve probably seen that Bernie Sanders bundled-up-at-the-inauguration-in-oversized-mittens meme, but you may not have known about who made those mittens for him (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and JOE BOEHNLEIN, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).

Feature: Ugandan activist David Kato was murdered ten years ago this week — ironically the week that President Yoweri Museveni won a sixth term in office. Museveni stoked the kind of homophobic violence that led to Kato’s death, back when the country’s infamous “Anti-Homosexuality Act” was up for debate and Kato was a leading opponent. Anchor MARK MERICLE reported the activist’s brutal murder in January of 2011 on Pacifica’s California Evening News (with coverage by Al Jazeera’s LYNN JHANI  in Kampala that includes comments by Kato himself and prominent anti-gay pastor MARTIN SSEMPA), while Musevini proves his attitudes towards LGBTQ after his decades in power is the “same as it ever was” (with music by JULIANA KANYOMOZI and TALKING HEADS).

Feature: U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office on January 20th, and a collective sigh of relief was heard around the world. There was no cheering crowd due to COVID pandemic restrictions, and thousands of militarized guards ringed the Capitol in the wake of the violent insurrection two weeks before. However, the day’s geared-for-broadcast ceremonies featured a rainbow of uplifting highlights, from Biden’s speech to the remarkable performance of National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.  ANDY HUMM and ANN NORTHROP of GayUSA take us on a guided tour of their favorite queer and queer-adjacent moments (includes excerpts from President Biden’s Inaugural address, and music by John Legend, Lady Gaga, and Jennifer Lopez).


A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending January 23, 2021
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Melanie Keller and John Boehnleinproduced by Brian DeShazor

Joe Biden of Delaware and Kamala Harris of California each made history on January 20th when they were sworn in to lead the U.S. government during the next four years.  Biden becomes the nation’s oldest president. Harris is the first female and first person of Asian and African descent to hold the office of Vice President.  We’ll highlight the queer view on the many inaugural events that day and evening later in the program.

The Biden administration hit the ground running immediately after the inauguration.  President Biden signed 17 Executive Orders to reverse some of the regressive policies of his predecessor.  One order directs all federal agencies to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 affirmation of workplace discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.  According to a White House “fact sheet,” “All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation … The Biden-Harris Administration will prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.”  Needless to say, virtually every LGBTQ advocacy group in the country celebrated the move.

New White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that overturning the ban on transgender military enlistees would be among “additional executive actions” to be taken by the President “in the coming days and weeks.”

The United States has also rejoined both the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accords.

President Biden’s executive orders also rescinded the Muslim travel ban, stopped further building of the southern  “border wall,” and boosted support for a path to citizenship for young people who immigrated with their parents when they were just children.

Former Democratic presidential contender and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg began a number of expected “firsts” in Senate confirmation hearings for presidential nominations.  The president has tapped Buttigieg to lead the Transportation Department.  Here’s part of his never-before-heard opening remarks on January 21st:

[sound:] I want to thank President Biden for trusting me with this nomination, and I’d like to take a moment to introduce my husband, Chasten Buttigieg, who is here with me today. I’m really proud to have him by my side. I want to thank him for his many sacrifices and his support in making it possible for me to pursue public service.

Buttigieg promised under questioning that he would strongly enforce safety standards, lobby for substantial investment to fix the nation’s deteriorating highways and bridges, and make climate change a central component of all policy decisions.  Most reports characterize Buttigieg’s response to the Senators as impressive.   In the words of Montana Democrat Jon Tester, “You know what the hell you’re talking about, and that’s pretty damn refreshing.”

Retired Army General Lloyd Austin responded to a transgender troops question from New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand during his confirmation hearings:

[sound:]  I support the President’s plan to overturn the ban. I truly believe, Senator that, as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve, and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And you can expect that I will support that throughout.

Aaron Belkin of the San Francisco-based Palm Center applauded Austin’s comments, saying that,  “It’s heartening that defense secretary-designate Lloyd Austin fully understands the urgency of ending the military’s harmful transgender ban.”

Some officials say that it might take the better part of a year to implement the new trans-inclusive policies, but Belkin disagrees.  He says, “Very little needs to be done administratively to finally end discrimination against transgender troops, and we look forward to the arrival of [a] fully inclusive policy very soon.”

President Biden’s pick for Secretary of State is Anthony Blinken. He also established his queer-friendly credentials during Senate confirmation hearings this week.  Blinken said he plans to fill the post of envoy to the LGBTQ community that was left vacant during the previous administration.  He’ll also allow Pride flags to fly at U.S. embassies around the world. Last year’s controversial “religious freedom”-based “Commission on Unalienable Rights” will officially be rejected, along with the racist and anti-queer policies expressed in its report.  The Secretary of State nominee also mourned, “the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of color, that we’ve seen ever.”

In a refreshing break from the past four years, it’s possible to believe Blinken when he says that “standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something that the department is going to take on and take on immediately.”

A gay veteran of the Obama administration will be joining Blinken in the new Biden administration.  Ned Price was a spokesperson for the National Security Council, and the Washington Blade reports that he’s been named the official spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.  Price will be the first openly queer person to hold that position.

The nomination of transgender Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine as the new U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health is another mark of President Biden’s campaign promise to have the most diverse administration in U.S. history.  Levine would become the first transgender person to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a role in the federal government.

Levine is a pediatrician and former state Physician General. She won praise for leading Pennsylvania in the fight against COVID-19.  The Associated Press notes that she is “a graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School [and] president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials,” who has “written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine.”

Levine fought off the transphobia of a few reporters and politicians during her successful tenure as the state’s leading health authority.  Her informative daily state COVID-19 briefings have helped advance the profile of transgender people in general.

President Biden said in a statement that Levine “will bring steady leadership and [the] essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic – no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”

The new Biden White House website is yet another sign that the next four years will be quite different for LGBTQ people in the United States than the last four. Gender-neutral options on contact forms have already been installed.  People visiting the site who want to leave a comment will now be given a number of pronoun options, including “she/her,” “he/him” and “they/them.”  Website visitors can also choose “other” and write in their own preference, or select “prefer not to share.”  Prefixes are updated to include “Mx.” alongside “Mr.,” “Mrs.” and “Ms.”

The queer youth suicide prevention group Trevor Project was one of the LGBTQ advocacy groups to praise the new options. Their statement observed that, ”Respecting pronouns is part of creating a supportive and accepting environment.”

It seems likely that the Biden administration will also bring back parts of the Obama White House website devoted to LGBTQ issues that were “disappeared” by his successor.  According the The New York Times, a Spanish-language translation of the website has already been restored.

Finally, have you seen the wildly popular meme of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sitting in a folding chair at the Biden/Harris inauguration, all bundled up in the cold and wearing colorful oversized mittens?

Jen Ellis made those for Sanders in 2016 after he lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton.  Ellis said, “I sent him these mittens kind of as a shout-out to who he is, and I put a note in that said something to the effect of ‘I hope you run again.’”

She told the online news site Slate that her “Gmail has crashed” after getting literally thousands of requests for a pair of mittens “like Bernie’s.”  Ellis is a second-grade public schoolteacher, living quietly with her partner Liz and their daughter in Essex Junction, Vermont.  She was unaware of all the attention and was remote-teaching away from home during the inauguration.  “You’re not going to believe this!”  Liz exclaimed as she walked in the door.

Ellis says the family doesn’t usually watch television, but they took out the set so that their daughter could watch the historic inauguration.  “Oh my gosh, I cried,” she said when asked about her reaction to the event. “I’m 42 and I’ve waited four decades of my life — I’m tearing up just thinking about it — to see a woman be vice president. … [W]e’re just a huge feminist household celebrating this momentous occasion.”

© 2021 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

© 2021 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

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