SOPHIE has slipped away, but the transgender music electronic star’s legacy stands forever in our “Queer Music Focus.”
Set the Shabbat table for the quirky Michael Mayer comedy horror film “Happy Times.”
Gay Congressman David Cicilline argues for Trump’s riot responsibility in the U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial.
Liberated gay Chechen refugees captured and returned for ”questioning,” drag queens march for democracy in Myanmar, U.S. Housing Department backs Biden’s anti-bias vow, gay Navajo Arlando Teller joins Buttigieg’s Transportation team, New Zealand Post proudly issues a “Progress Stamp,” and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of February 15, 2021
SOPHIE Sendoff and Happy Times!
Program #1,716 distributed 02/15/21
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Two young gay Chechen brothers are abducted from their “safe house” near Moscow after escaping the anti-queer pogrom in the mostly-Muslim Russian region and returned to their hometown as alleged “witnesses” to an old crime … drag queens are welcomed in the massive protests in Yangon against the military junta that just seized power from the democratically-elected government of Myanmar … the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Joe Biden assures LGBTQ people that federal law protects them from housing discrimination … newly-confirmed gay U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg picks gay Navajo member of the Arizona legislature Arlando Teller to be his Deputy Assistant Secretary of Tribal Affairs … White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki rebuffs a loaded question during her daily press briefing from a seemingly transphobic Fox Radio News reporter (with a brief excerpt from the exchange) … New Zealand Post celebrates Pride by issuing a “Progress Stamp” flag featuring all the colors of the diverse queer rainbow (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by JOE BOEHNLEIN and PAULA THOMAS, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: Former U.S. President Donald Trump evaded conviction for the second time on February 13th, but no one blames the case presented to the Senate by the House Impeachment Managers. Gay Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline was the lead sponsor of the Article charging Trump with Incitement of Insurrection. His stellar opening argument was one of the trial’s high points
Feature: Happy Times are in store as This Way Out’s JOHN DYER V sets the table and lights the Shabbat candles for this unusual Israeli American horror/comedy (with segment intro music from the musical Annie, and audio clips from the film).
Feature: This Way Out’s STEPHEN SIMS is back with “Queer Music Focus,” but we all wish it was for a happier occasion as he pays tribute to the late Transgressive electronic music star SOPHIE (with several samples of her music).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending February 13, 2021 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Joe Boehnlein and Paula Thomas,produced by Brian DeShazor
The abduction of two young refugees from the anti-queer program has put the Russian region of in Chechnya back in the news. Seized from a safe house about 400 kilometers east of Moscow, the 17 and 20-year-old brothers were handed over to Chechen security agents on February 4th. According to the Russian LGBT Network, they were taken to their hometown of Gudermes, just outside Grozny, the Chechen capital.
The Network helped the brothers escape Chechnya in June 2020. They were among the refugees featured in the multi-award winning documentary, Welcome to Chechnya. They had been charged with running a government opposition channel on the messaging app Telegram. They endured months of detention and torture in what have been called secret “queer concentration camps,” and were released after recording a coerced “confession.”
Lawyers for the two brothers are being told that they’re witnesses in an old criminal case, but are not themselves being charged. One of the lawyers asked why they could not have simply been deposed at their Russian apartment instead of being abducted and taken back to Chechnya. There was no answer.
Russian LGBT Network spokesperson Tim Bestsvet told the Moscow Times that the young men are “tired and frightened,” and “being pressured to refuse a lawyer.” He warned that they are in “mortal danger.” Going back to 2017, independent journalists have been confirming what both the Chechen and Russian governments have vehemently denied: that “suspected” LGBTQ people were being rounded up, beaten, and tortured to reveal the names of their friends. It’s not known how many people have died during interrogation.
Chechen President Raman Kadyrov has claimed that there are no LGBTQ people in Chechnya … and the on-going, vicious crackdown seems to be an effort to make his wish come true.
Previous sanctions by the U.K. and U.S. governments against Kadyrov and his allies have seemingly had no effect. Recently installed openly gay U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price addressed the situation in Chechnya during his daily briefing this week. He told reporters that the Biden administration is “profoundly concerned” about the two brothers. President Biden was at the State Department calling for global LGBTQ rights the same day that they were abducted.
Drag queens are a visible presence among the thousands protesting last week’s military coup in Myanmar. Huge demonstrations on the streets the capital city of Yangon are demanding the return of democratically elected President Aung San Suu Kyi.
Even though consensual adult gay sex is still a crime under old colonial-era laws, The Guardian reports that the most flamboyant drag queens have nevertheless been applauded by other protesters. 21-year-old Min Khant goes by the stage name “Walkie Talkie.” He told the news outlet, “People on the marches tell us we should have our rights. They are proud of us. LGBT are protesting in their heels and waving rainbow flags across Myanmar.”
The former British colony of Burma has been embroiled in ethnic conflict for decades. But The Guardian notes that the military coup has united disparate factions in opposition to the take-over across the country. Strangers flash three-finger salute sign of resistance to the junta. Truck drivers offer free rides to the demonstrations. Volunteers keep the protesters hydrated under the hot sun, while others share food. Even members of the desperately oppressed Muslim Rohingya minority are being welcomed. They have been targeted in a genocidal military crackdown since 2017 – a human rights crisis the government of Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to address.
Drag queen Khant admits that fighting a new military dictatorship will be a difficult task, but says that, “We all know what we are facing. … We ask that the world help us.” And, he hopes, LGBTQ involvement in the protests “will make us more accepted.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is assuring LGBTQ people that federal law specifically protects them from housing discrimination. Their February 11th press release affirms the Biden Administration’s desire to eradicate bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all agencies of the federal government.
The administration in turn is standing on the 2020 Bostock versus Clayton County Supreme Court ruling. It said that federal law protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace. The H.U.D. press release concludes that “the Fair Housing Act’s sex discrimination provisions are comparable in text and purpose” to that ruling.
Jeanine M. Worden is the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. She said in the release that, “Every person should be able to secure a roof over their head free from discrimination, and the action we are taking today will move us closer to that goal.”
By contrast, Trump’s Housing Secretary Ben Carson infamously expressed concerns about “big hairy men” trying to find space in women’s shelters.
Newly inaugurated gay Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is bringing gay Navajo Arizona State Representative Arlando Teller onto his staff as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Tribal Affairs. He previously served as deputy director of the Navajo Department of Transportation, and was a member of the state legislature’s Indigenous Peoples and LGBTQ Caucuses. Teller was active in Biden’s presidential campaign – he even got to introduce Cher at a fundraising concert. He said at the time, “I was actually trying to be calm. Inside I was a screaming queen, just giddy as all get out.”
His paternal grandfather was one of the famous Native American “Code Talkers” who helped disseminate critical military information undecipherable to the Axis during World War II.
Teller is the second member of the Navajo Nation to join the Biden Cabinet. Wahleah Johns was named director of the Office of Indian Energy in the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Navajo Times quoted Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez saying, “Words cannot express how proud we are of these two young Navajo professionals.”
Teller told the Blade newspaper that, “Elevating Indigenous nations by the Biden administration only invigorates and encourages me to do more. Representation matters.”
The new Deputy Assistant Secretary is currently recovering from COVID-19 and working from home after being hospitalized last year. He lost his mother to the pandemic in December.
The issue of transgender girls participating in school sports is roiling in a few U.S. states. Some lawmakers claim that trans girls should be banned, based on their alleged advantage over cisgender girls.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded in no uncertain terms during one of her daily briefings this week. The loaded questions about the controversy came from a Fox Radio news reporter:
[Jen Psaki ca :34 sound, ending with:]
“… I would just say that the president’s belief is that trans rights are human rights, and that’s why he signed that executive order. In terms of the determinations by universities and colleges, I would certainly defer to them.”
That was White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Finally, the government of New Zealand is celebrating LGBTQ Pride in an especially festive way: New Zealand Post has issued a “Progress Stamp” combining different multi-colored Pride flags. It also marks the 35th anniversary of the passage of the Homosexual Reform Act that decriminalized same-gender sex.
The “Progress Stamp” was created by Daniel Quasar. He combined the original rainbow Pride Flag designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978 with the pink, blue and white colors of the Trans Pride Flag created by Monica Helms in 1999. Then he added black and brown stripes from the More Color, More Pride Flag designed by Amber Hikes to highlight racism within queer communities. The stamp is available online at nzpost.co.nz.
Sweden became the first country to issue a Rainbow Pride flag stamp in 2016. Spain issued a special stamp to celebrate Pride month in 2020.
The release of the Pride stamp in New Zealand coincides with the celebration of Auckland Pride throughout the month of February, and Wellington Pride during the last two weeks of March.
Last year LGBTQ-supportive New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern named gay Grant Robertson as Deputy Prime Minister. With the victories of 13 “out” candidates in October’s national elections, Kiwis are rightfully claiming the title: Queerest Parliament on the Planet.
© 2021 Overnight Productions (Inc.)
© 2021 Overnight Productions (Inc.)
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