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This Way Out Radio Episode #1721 March 22, 2021 “Trans Champions & Grammy Greatness!&#822

Passionate testimonies for transgender rights by a dad in Missouri, and by a trans teen speaking for the Equality Act and her future in the U.S. Senate!

The Grammy-winning talents of Kaytranada, Robert Glasper, H.E.R. and Meshell Ndegeocello, Belinda Carlile and The Highwomen, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, and more!

The Vatican nixes same-gender blessings, Japanese district court rules for marriage equality, Tunisian queer democracy activist is arrested, trans woman anchor makes news in Bangladesh, Maddow’s Spoken Word blows out the Grammys, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of March 22, 2021

Trans Champions & Grammy Greatness!

Program #1,721 distributed 03/22/21

Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below): The Roman Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith issues a pronouncement with the Pope’s approval against priests blessing same-gender couples, Japan’s Sapporo District Court is first to rule that denying queer couples civil marriage is “unconstitutional,” the Taipei High Administrative Court overturns a provision preventing marriages between Taiwanese citizens and queer partners from non-marriage equality nations, Tunisian LGBTQ rights/pro-democracy campaigner Rania Amdouni is jailed for insulting an officer after filing a police intimidation complaint, Tashnuva Anan Shishir makes her debut as Bangladesh television’s first transgender news anchor on International Women’s Day, U.S. Republican leaders attack Amazon for halting the sale of books that characterize same-gender attraction or transgender identities as mental illnesses, and cable TV’s lesbian news powerhouse Rachel Maddow wins the Best Spoken Word Grammy in a Blowout (written by GREG GORDON and edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and MARCOS NAJERA, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).

Feature: Transgender youth and their families are on the frontline of the fight for queer equality around the U.S. Mississippi’s bill to ban trans student athletes from participating in school sports was signed by the governor earlier this month, and it’s just one of over 40 similar laws currently making their way through state legislative pipelines. Nearly 30 of them would also block gender-affirming medical care for minors, regardless of parental permission. Trans advocates, civil rights defenders, student sports groups and celebrities are throwing everything they’ve got into raising public awareness about the dangerous myths behind these laws — not to mention the political expediency of targeting marginalized people to distract from failed policies and social unrest. This week they focused the nation’s attention on Missouri, where Brandon Boulware, a trans child’s father told his story to a state House committee that’s considering whether his kid should be kicked off the team [6:30]; in the U.S. Senate, one trans daughter spoke for herself, and scored quite a hit in support of the Equality Act. The same bogus arguments against trans inclusion heard in state legislatures are being wielded against the long-debated measure to add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights laws. “Thriving” trans high school girl Stella Keating of Washington explained to the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Dick Durbin, why her future depends on the bill’s passage [with segment intro music by MICHAEL BUBLE and an outro music tag by TERESA JAMES).

Feature: The Recording Academy’s rainbow was aglow with LGBTQ performers taking home a total of nine Grammy Awards during its remotely held televised ceremonies on March 14th.  In the following “music mix,” you’ll hear queer Haitian-Canadian double-winner DJ Kaytranada — he was also nominated for Best New Artist, and produced a mix of the Best R&B Song, Better Than I Imagined. Bi singer/songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello was one of the winners in that category … out singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile shared the Grammy for Best Country Music Song (Crowded Table) …… and Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande became the first female duo to win in the Best Pop Duo or Group category for Rain On Me.  Other queer Grammy-winners included lesbian Alabama Shakes lead vocalist Brittany Howard, whose Best Rock Song Stay High made it a queer Best Song-winner threesome … and out performers Lauren Patten and Ezra Menas were cast members of the Grammy-winning Best Musical Theater Album, Jagged Little Pill.  It’s a musical based on Canadian Alanis Morissete’s Grammy-winning album, and includes characters struggling with sexuality and gender identity. The Celluloid Closet producers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman grabbed the Best Music Film Grammy for their documentary Linda Rondstadt: The Song of My Voice. Queer musicians SOPHIE and Ari Gold were honored during the “In Memoriam” tribute.  And MSNBC news commentator Rachel Maddow won the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album.


A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending March 20, 2021
Written this week by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported by Melanie Keller and Marcos Najera, produced by Brian DeShazor

The Vatican is giving up queer Roman Catholics for Lent this week by specifically forbidding priests to bless same-gender unions.  A March 15th declaration issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith calls such unions a “choice,” and claims that God “does not and cannot bless sin.”

Pope Francis approved the declaration, despite the more welcoming attitude towards LGBTQ people he has expressed compared with his predecessors.  The document quotes an earlier papal statement that “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”  This week’s statement was reportedly in response to an inquiry from some German bishops.

There is defiance in the ranks. The queer Roman Catholic advocacy group DignityUSA proclaimed in a press release that they have “been blessing and marrying same-sex couples for 50 years and [are] committed to gaining equal access to the sacraments for LGBTQ+ people.” Francis DeBernardo of the Maryland-based New Ways Ministry said that, “The toothpaste is out of the tube and it can’t be put back inside.”  A group of rebel priests called the Austrian Priests’ Initiative have their own declaration: “We will not reject any loving couple.”

U.S. President Joe Biden and other high-profile Roman Catholics around the world are lamenting the blessings ban.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s husband Chasten posted a social media reminder to queer Catholics that, “the Pope isn’t [your] county clerk.”

Sir Elton John tweeted, “How can the Vatican refuse to bless gay marriages because they ‘are sin’, yet happily make a profit from investing millions in Rocketman – a film which celebrates my finding happiness from my marriage to David?? #hypocrisy.” Blatantly “out” comic actor/writer Billy Eichner publically proposed to equally-out Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy … “just to make the Pope angry.”

A first-of-its-kind ruling by a district court in Japan has declared that denying queer couples civil marriage is “unconstitutional.”  The Sapporo District Court decision is the first legal victory out of a number of lawsuits challenging the country’s ban on marriage equality. However, the Court rejected the plaintiffs’ demand for financial compensation from the government — one million yen each for the pain caused by not being able to marry. Judgments pending in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka could be affected by this week’s ruling.

Two male partners and a female couple were the plaintiffs in the Sapporo case.  They filed suit after officials denied efforts to register their marriages in 2019.  The district court judge decided on March 17th that those officials violated Article 14 of Japan’s Constitution, guaranteeing equal treatment. It rejected the government’s claim that Article 24 expressly excludes same-gender couples in its definition of civil marriage as “based on the mutual consent of both sexes.”

A number of local jurisdictions and major companies in Japan have already established various ways to recognize same-gender couples.  But full marriage rights require federal action, and Japan’s conservative government has been consistently resistant.

Goldman Sachs Japan’s Masa Yanagisawa sees marriage equality as “quite business critical.” He’s also a board member of the NGO Marriage for All Japan, and told Reuters that, “All the other advanced countries have this, so Japan will lose out competitively.  Then there’s the fact that people can’t be who they are.”

Taiwan became the first in Asia to open civil marriage to queer couples in May 2019.  But marriages to people from non-marriage equality countries was excluded, and human rights groups across the island said that about a thousand couples were rejected last year under those restrictions, according to Pink News.

The Taipei High Administrative Court overturned that provision on March 4th.  It said that under laws governing bi-national marriages, foreign laws should not be considered if they interfere with “the public order or good morals” of Taiwan.  Meanwhile, legislation to plug the loophole is pending.

However, one of the plaintiffs still can’t wed his Malaysian fiancé because Taiwan’s marriage laws require documentation that he’s single.  Plaintiff/activist Chi Chia-wei said that the COVID pandemic and fear of repercussions in his homeland have prevented his fiancé from applying for the certificate.

Democracy activists in Tunisia are rallying around imprisoned LGBTQ rights campaigner Rania Amdouni.  She’s been in the crosshairs of the police unions since January, when she became a visible presence in almost-daily protests against repression in the North African nation.

When the 26-year-old tried to file a complaint of police intimidation, she was charged with insulting a police officer.  Article 125 of the Penal Code punishes that offense with up to a year in prison.  A member of the legal team representing Amdouni told reporters that she was sentenced to six months.  She’s being held in a women’s prison in Manouba, west of Tunis.  Her lawyers charge that guards routinely enter her cell at night to harass and threaten her.

Human Rights Watch and other global watchdogs are warning that, “Tunisian authorities are sending an appalling message to victims of discrimination that they have nowhere to turn and that any objection could land them in prison themselves.”

A Bangladesh TV station celebrated International Women’s Day with the debut of the country’s first transgender news anchor. Tashnuva Anan Shishir told the Hollywood Reporter that she cried when colleagues clapped and cheered after her first three-minute newscast on March 8th for Boishakhi TV.  She said, “I was very nervous,” but that she was determined to “overcome this ordeal, this final test.”  The twenty-nine-year-old activist and actress is also studying public health at a Dhaka university.

Tipu Alam Milon is the station’s Deputy Managing Director. He noted the increasing acceptance of transgender people in government circles, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Milon added that another transgender person has been hired to work in their drama department, and said that, “We want the attitude of society to change through these appointments.”

A genderless Mr. PotatoHead, the withdrawal of a handful of racially insensitive Dr. Seuss books, and similar boogey-person issues – that’s the kind of “cancel culture” howling rightwing U.S. cable behemoth Fox News has been using to distract its loyal viewers from the successes of the new Biden administration.

The latest target is huge online retailer Amazon and its “liberal billionaire” leader Jeff Bezos.  He became an even bigger foe after he bought the Washington Post, a rightwing villain for its allegedly “liberal” slant.

Amazon announced this week that it will no longer sell books that characterize same-gender attraction or transgender identities as mental illnesses.

One book no longer available from Amazon is When Harry Became Sally by political conservative writer Ryan T. Anderson.  He criticizes gender-affirming surgery and urges trans people to get therapy to remain in the gender they were assigned at birth.

A letter obtained by the Washington Post from Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana, and Josh Hawley of Missouri to Bezos champions the book. It charges that its removal was part of a larger campaign to restrict conservative voices and information on Amazon.  A response from Amazon simply stated that, “We carefully consider the content we make available in our stores, and we review our approach regularly … we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

Finally, the hoots and hollers in the car with her spouse Susan “scared the dog awake.” After all, her competition for a Grammy in the category of Best Spoken Word Album included Flea, Ken Jennings & Alex Trebek, Ronan Farrow, and Meryl Streep. The winner tweeted about it with the caption “HA! WHOA! WOW!”

Here’s a sample from her winning entry:

{Maddow audiobook excerpt}

From Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth, that was Grammy-winner and top-rated MSNBC news commentator Rachel Maddow.

Stay tuned for our queer ear on the music of the Grammys – on This Way Out.

© 2021 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

© 2021 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

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


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