A trans woman, her detransitioned ex and a cis woman walk into Torrey Peters’ celebrated debut novel — and drama, hilarity and truth ensue! She tackles complicated questions of gender in real life with Rosie Wilby!
Plus: Gay literati “Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman” hide in plain sight in a “Rainbow Minute”!
And in NewsWrap: Queen’s Speech renews U.K. promise to ban conversion therapy, young gay Iranian slain in “honor killing,” two Cameroonians jailed five years for “dining while trans,” U.S. tops yearly record for anti-LGBTQ laws in four months, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 17, 2021
Program #1,729 distributed 05/17/21
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The Conservative government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson renews his predecessor’s promise to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” the medically-debunked claim that queer people can be “turned straight” … in the U.S., the Biden administration continues to reverse the anti-queer policies of his predecessor by restoring Obama-era anti-bias protections for LGBTQ people in healthcare … a 20-year-old Iranian man is brutally beheaded by his half-brother and cousins in an “honor killing” after they find out he was gay … two trans women in Cameroon are sentenced to at least five years in prison for “attempted homosexuality” … the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elevates what’s believed to be mainstream Christianity’s first “out” transgender bishop … the Human Rights Campaign reports that the number of anti-queer laws enacted across the United States so far this year (17) already breaks the record set during the entire 12 months of 2015, even as Montana’s governor signs the latest state ban on transgender athletes in school sports … GLAD and Athlete Ally urge the NCAA to keep its tournaments and championship events out of states that have passed anti-queer laws … the North Welsh town of Bangor elects the world’s second enby mayor (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MARCOS NAJERA and MICHAEL LEBEAU, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR) + TWO E-newsletter Promo (with music by THE WHO and YES and voiced by MARCOS NAJERA.)
Feature: The similarities in the literary lives of Langston Hughes And Walt Whitman are explored in this Rainbow Minute (read by DUSTIN RICHARDSON, produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS).
Feature: TWO ID by former U.S. Congressman BARNEY FRANK (introduced briefly by THE EARLS) [:42] +A trans woman, her detransitioned ex and a cis woman walk into a novel, and drama, hilarity and truth ensue. So do great reviews for the book Detransition, Baby and a fascinating interview with the author Torrey Peters by This Way Out correspondent ROSIE WILBY of Out in South London on Resonance-FM (with music from the Sex & the City theme).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending May 15, 2021 Written this week by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported by Marcos Najera and Michael LeBeau, produced by Brian DeShazor
The U.K. government of Conservative Party Prime Minister Boris Johnson is finally moving forward with a plan to ban so-called “conversion therapy.” Queen Elizabeth II officially announced the move during her traditional speech at the State Opening of Parliament on May 11th.
Johnson has been under increasing pressure to take action against the debunked claim that queer people can be turned straight. His predecessor Theresa May made the ban part of her government’s promises back in 2018. There may still be trouble ahead, however. A “public consultation” on the issue is to be held before any parliamentary consideration. And, as the Queen’s Speech noted, the primary concern is to “… ensure medical professionals, religious leaders, teachers and parents can continue to be able to have open and honest conversations with people.”
Nancy Kelley of the British queer advocacy group Stonewall expressed concern about those religion-related exemptions. She insisted, “We don’t need a consultation to know that all practices that seek to convert, suppress, cure or change us are dangerous, abusive and must be banned.” Veteran activist Peter Tatchell denounced what he called “countless studies and consultations” on the issue in the past few years. He said, “All we’ve had is more than 1,000 days of dithering. It’s time Boris got on with it and got this ban done.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Blade reports that a ban on conversion therapy has died in a committee of Puerto Rico’s Senate.
The Biden administration continues to reverse the repressive anti-LGBTQ actions of the previous government. This week U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced the reinstatement of Obama-era rules banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in healthcare. Those provisions of the Affordable Care Act were dumped by the out-going administration.
Becerra cited last year’s Supreme Court Bostock ruling. It declared LGBTQ people protected under provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that ban employment discrimination based on “sex.” Becerra noted that, “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences.”
The Bostock decision has been cited in other federal cases involving LGBTQ rights. Pro-queer attorneys argue that, by extension, the employment bias ruling applies to other aspects of life, including healthcare.
The Office for Civil Rights of the Health and Human Services Department will enforce the ban on healthcare bias by hospitals, clinics, and healthcare providers.
A 20-year-old gay Iranian man is dead this week – murdered in an “honor killing” by relatives who believed his sexual orientation brought shame to the family. Alireza Fazeli Monfared was beheaded by his half-brother and cousins after they saw a government letter exempting him from military service because of his “sexual depravity.” He had planned to flee to Turkey with his boyfriend, but his time ran out.
The murderers phoned Monfared’s mother to tell her where to find his mutilated body under a tree outside of town. She was reportedly hospitalized “in a state of shock … over the death of her only child.”
A 2020 report by the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network reported that six in ten LGBTQ people in the Islamic Republic have been assaulted by family members.
Iranian law punishes consensual adult same-gender sex with life in prison or execution.
The advocacy group reports that Monfared’s half-brother and cousins have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Whether or not they’ll actually be prosecuted remains to be seen.
Cameroonian online fashion celebrity Shakiro and her friend Patricia were sentenced this week to five years in prison for “attempted homosexuality.” Under the legal names Loic Njeukam and Rolland Mouthe, the two were arrested at a restaurant in the coastal city of Douala in February and have been in jail ever since. They were also convicted of failure to carry proper IDs and public indecency – presumably for wearing women’s clothing. They each face another year behind bars if they fail to pay the additional equivalent of almost 400 U.S. dollars in fines.
Well-known regional LGBTQ legal advocate Alice Nkom called the arrests and sentencing “a political decision,” and plans to appeal because there was no evidence of actual homosexual acts. They were simply “dining while trans.”
Human Rights Watch has condemned the arrests and sentencing, calling the move part of a stepped-up government crackdown on sexual and gender minorities. Cameroon is one of more than 30 African countries that continue to criminalize same-gender sex. The global rights group says that at least 53 other Cameroonians have been arrested in raids on HIV/AIDS service organizations since May 2020. Some detainees reported being beaten while in custody. Some were forced to undergo torturous “anal examinations” that authorities falsely believe can confirm homosexual activity.
In more encouraging news for the queer community, the Rev. Megan Rohrer was elected bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Sierra Pacific Synod on May 8th.
Bishop Rohrer is believed to be the first transgender person to serve as bishop in any mainstream Christian denomination.
They pastored Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco, and also served as Community Chaplain Coordinator for the San Francisco Police Department, according to the Religion News Service.
The Sierra Pacific Synod ministers to 180 congregations and more than 36,000 members in northern California and northern Nevada. Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America serve 6-year terms.
The forty-one-year old clergyperson has not exactly been camera-shy. Bishop Rohrer is a well-known homeless advocate and street activist in the Bay Area, and was featured on the TV series Queer Eye. They’ve been profiled in Cosmopolitan and Time magazines, where they described their struggles as a young queer Christian, saying, “The people who were in my religion classes with me would sing hymns when I walked by, to try to get rid of my gay demons. And I would just sing harmony. I didn’t know what [else] to do.”
Bishop Rohrer lives in San Francisco with their wife Laurel and the couple’s two children.
2021 is already the worst year for LGBTQ rights in U.S. history – that’s according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign. Republican-controlled state legislators and governors have already passed 17 anti-queer laws this year. The previous record of 15 was set during all 12 months of 2015. The HRC also counts an additional 11 bills currently awaiting gubernatorial signatures, and dozens more in process across the country.
Trans youth are proving to be the most vulnerable. The HRC report was issued just as Montana’s Republican Governor Greg Gianforte was signing yet another state law banning transgender athletes from participating in school sports. Sixty-nine more trans sports bans are among the more than 250 anti-queer state bills introduced so far. Thirty-five of them prevent trans young people from accessing gender-affirming medical care. There are at least 15 so-called “bathroom bills” to outlaw trans people using gender-segregated public facilities that are consistent with their gender identity, such as campus restrooms and locker rooms.
Meanwhile, two other queer advocacy groups have issued an open letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. GLAAD and Athlete Ally are urging the N-C-double-A not to schedule its tournaments and championships in states that have enacted anti-queer laws. The country’s premier collegiate sports authority did just that in 2016, when it moved events out of North Carolina after Republicans there passed the country’s very first “bathroom bill.”
Finally, 23-year-old Owen Hurcum has been sworn in as Mayor of Bangor in North Wales — the world’s second “out” non-binary mayor. Hurcum’s official ceremony was delayed by the COVID pandemic. They were actually elected at the age of 22 last year, making them the youngest mayor in the country’s history.
Hurcum says they fell in love with the town when they moved there to study five years ago. They’ve also been involved in local politics ever since.
According to Out magazine, Mayor Hurcum is second only to Mayor Tony Briffa of Hobsons Bay in the Australian state of Victoria, who served between 2010 and twenty-twelve. Briffa is both non-binary and inter-sex.
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