Nas X made a splash on “Saturday Night Live,” but he made a point in his Native Son Award acceptance speech!
Pride season kicks off with the OutLoud: Raising Voices concerts streaming with an in-person audience live from Los Angeles featuring 26 queer performers!
Submerged subversives pay tribute to World Oceans Day in a “Rainbow Minute” … or two!
And in NewsWrap: Ghana LGBTQ rights workshop raided as “unlawful assembly,” queer couples sue Namibia for marriage portability, trans rights bill dies in Spain, Arkansas sued over trans kids treatment ban, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 31, 2021
Voices Raised: Lil Nas X & OutLoud!
Program #1,731 distributed 05/31/21
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Police raid a hotel in Ghana and arrest 21 people for unlawful assembly because they were attending a workshop on how to document and report human rights abuses against queer Ghanians … a raid on a gay sauna in Bangkok nets 62 men attending a “chemsex” party for violating COVID lockdown restrictions … German lawmakers vote to compensate queer service members who were discriminated against before the ban on gay and lesbian recruits was lifted in 2000 with what activists call a “token amount” … Spanish lawmakers reject a bill to allow trans people to change their legal gender on government IDs without medical or psychological approval … a bill to ban transgender competitors in school sports dies in the Texas House [introduced by “Protect Trans Kids!” chants] … 50 current and former college athletes petition the NCAA to enforce its vow to keep tournament events out of “hate states” after the U.S. collegiate sports regulator announces Division 1 Softball playoffs would be held in three states with laws banning trans athletes … young trans kids, their families, and two doctors sue the state of Arkansas over its first-in-the-nation law banning gender-affirming care for trans minors … Nashville, Tennessee’s District Attorney announces that his office will not “promote hate” by prosecuting violations of the state’s mounting anti-transgender laws … Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre becomes only the second Black woman, and the first out lesbian, to lead a White House Press briefing [with her first few historic words] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by JOHN DYER V and PAULA THOMAS, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Gay Black entertainer Lil Nas X had a week that ended with a nationally-televised accident, but it wasn’t all like that. Even his eyebrows were raised when his pants split in the middle of his very gay, very sexy Saturday Night Live debut performance of Call Me By Your Name on May 22nd. On the serious side, the previous day Lil Nas received a Native Son Award, which honors queer and same-gender-loving Black men. He sent an important message through the virtual event (with intro/outro music from his live SNL performance).
Feature: TWO E-newsletter Promo (voiced by MELANIE KELLER and MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY, with JAMES BALDWIN drop-in and music by BOBBY RICHARDS).
Feature: This TWO-expanded Rainbow Minute celebrates some of its queer inhabitants on World Oceans Day (June 8th] (read by TOM MILLER and GLENN LASH, produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, with intro music from Under the Sea by SAMUEL WRIGHT from Disney’s The Little Mermaid).
Feature: U.S. cities are beginning to peek out of their COVID cloisters just in time for Pride 2021, and a live in-person/streaming hybrid gala concert event will be kicking off the festivities from Los Angeles. This Way Out Queer Music Focus producer STEVE SIMS previews the exciting line-up for the 26-performer outdoor show (with brief comments by Adam Lambert and sampled music by each of the scheduled performers: Sofi Tucker, Daya, Saro, Lp Giobbi, Tyga Paw, Jake Wesley Rogers, Ryan Cassatta, Madeline the Person, Haley Kiyoko, Mykki Blanco, Crush Club, Brooke Eden, Madame Gandhi, Malia Civitz, Bronze Avery, La Dona, Kaleena Zanders, Adam Lambert, Kim Petras, Vincint, Parson James, Qveen Herby, Sam Sparro, Chely Wright, Zhavia Ward, and Yungblud; segment intro music by TERESA BREWER; and feature intro music by THE DOOBIE BROTHERS).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending May 29, 2021 Written this week by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported by John Dyer V and Paula Thomas, produced by Brian DeShazor
Twenty-one queer activists-in-training are under arrest in the city of Ho, Ghana, charged with unlawful assembly. They were meeting in a hotel room to discuss how to advance LGBTQ rights. Based on a “local tip,” the media reportedly got there first, and police followed. The “evidence” that the group was there to “promote” LGBTQ rights included leaflets entitled “Coming Out” and “All About Trans.” Ironically, the group Rightify Ghana had organized the meeting to teach new “recruits” how to document and report human rights abuses against queer Ghanaians.
The 16 women and five men in custody have been denied bail until their first appearances before a judge on June 4th. A statement on the arrests from Ghana’s Police Command warned parents in particular “to be wary of activities of persons involved in this misbehavior and report them to the police.” The global queer rights group Outright Action International and the Ghanaian NGO Alliance for Equality and Diversity each called for the immediate release of the detainees.
The Western African nation’s crackdown on advocacy has been stepping up since a government raid in early February shuttered the new Accra offices of LGBT+ Rights Ghana and forced its leadership into hiding.
Private consensual adult sex between men is illegal “unnatural carnal knowledge” in Ghana. Offenders can be sentenced to up to three years in prison.
In Thailand, another “local tip” sent police to a Bangkok sauna where 62 men were detained for drug possession and “debauchery.” They were officially charged with violating the Southeast Asian country’s strict COVID-19 lockdown regulations. Multiple sources reported the event as an often-risky chemsex party – with the “chem” being certain drugs like GHB and methamphetamine, and the “sex” between consenting gay men.
Two queer couples challenged Namibia’s refusal to recognize their marriages, performed legally in another country. In each case heard in Windhoek High Court this week, one of the spouses is a Namibian citizen.
The gay male couple was married in South Africa in 2015, and the lesbian couple tied the knot in Germany in 2017. The men also want their marriage legally recognized in Namibia so that the South African-born spouse can live there with his husband and their adopted son, and work without having to apply for permits.
The attorney representing both couples stressed that the case was not about marriage equality in Namibia, but about the recognition of marriages legally performed elsewhere. He claimed that nothing in the Constitution or Namibian law prevents it.
Lawyers for the government pointed to a 20-year-old Supreme Court ruling that rejected marriage equality. They said any changes in marriage statutes should be left to the legislature of the Southern African nation.
A statement issued by the three-judge panel suggests that the Windhoek High Court’s decision may not be announced until January 2022, although it could come sooner.
German lawmakers have voted to compensate service members who were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. “Out” gay and lesbian personnel were banned by the military before July of 2000.
Parliament created a compensation fund of six million euros – equivalent to more than seven million U.S. dollars. The legislation also allows service members who were prosecuted because of their sexual orientation before the ban was lifted to have their criminal records expunged.
Activists applauded what they called an important step toward justice, but they complain that the measure doesn’t go far enough. Patrick Dörr of the Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany explained that the law is “limited to symbolic compensation and does not cover all discrimination that has taken place.”
Lawmakers in Spain rejected a bill that would have allowed trans people to legally change their gender without medical or psychological approval. A hundred and forty-three members of the Congress of Deputies voted against the Proposed Law for Real and Effective Equality of Transgender People. There were 78 votes in favor, with a shameful 120 abstentions. The bill would also have allowed non-binary and blank gender designations on government IDs. According to a March report by the Associated Press, the ruling government’s Deputy Minister expressed concerns that extending trans rights could undermine the rights of women and other groups.
Human Rights Watch called the bill’s failure a “missed opportunity” to advance trans rights and to acknowledge “the rights and dignity of people who do not identify with a rigid gender binary.” The organization’s press release charged that the vote “has set LGBTI rights in Spain back 10 years.”
Nevertheless, some Spanish trans activists expressed optimism about the bill’s eventual passage before the current legislative session ends.
[SOUND: “Protect Trans Kids” chants]
Equality activists actually won a round this week for trans young people under attack by Republican-controlled U.S. state legislatures. With chanting supporters waving trans Pride flags from the Texas House gallery, the deadline to pass a bill banning trans athletes from competing in school sports came and went.
The bill had passed in the state Senate but narrowly failed to make it out of the House’s Public Education Committee in early May. Far-right Republican Governor Greg Abbott would no doubt have celebrated being able to put another anti-queer notch in his belt.
Fifty current and former college athletes are urging the National Collegiate Athletic Association to pull championship events out of states that have passed laws banning transgender competitors. Their letter to the Board of Governors this week comes on the heels of letters from the queer advocacy groups GLAAD and Athlete Ally that also point to the NCAA’s history: it pulled a number of basketball tournament events out of North Carolina in 2016 after the state enacted the first modern-day “bathroom bill” regulating where transgender people may seek relief.
However, the NCAA recently announced that Division 1 Softball Championship games would be held in three states that have enacted bills prohibiting transgender athletes from school sports.
The letter from more than four dozen college athletes cited the Board of Governors’ own recent policy statements affirming the rights of transgender people to compete, and pledging to keep tournament events out of states with anti-LGBT laws. The signers demand to know, “What changed? Why did our rights matter five years ago, but not today? Your actions speak louder than your words.”
It remains to be seen how long the NCAA can stay silent.
Meanwhile, four young trans people and their families filed suit against the state of Arkansas this week challenging its new ban on gender-affirming healthcare for minors. The ACLU is representing the families, as well as two doctors who could be penalized for breaking the first-of-its-kind law.
Virtually every other anti-trans bill passed by Republican lawmakers and governors across the U.S. has or will be challenged in court as unconstitutional.
Swimming against the Republican legislative tide, Nashville, Tennessee’s Democratic chief prosecutor announced this week that he would specifically not enforce an anti-trans law gleefully signed by Republican Governor Bill Lee. It requires businesses to post “warning” signs outside their bathrooms if they allow transgender people to use them.
Glenn Funk is District Attorney General of Tennessee’s 20th Judicial District, which includes Nashville. “Every person is welcomed and valued in Nashville.” Funk said. “Enforcement of trans-phobic or homophobic laws is contrary to those values. My office will not promote hate.”
Finally, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made a bit of history this week …
[SOUND: her first few words]
Filling in for White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Jean-Pierre became only the second African-American woman, and the first-ever out lesbian, to lead a White House press briefing.
According to the Washington Blade, when asked about her groundbreaking appearance Jean-Pierre said, “I appreciate the historic nature, I really do, but I believe being behind this podium … is not about one person, it’s about what we do on behalf of the American people. Clearly the president believes representation matters and … it’s another reason we’re all so proud this is the most diverse administration in history.”
Axios has reported that Psaki plans to leave the Press Secretary position “in a year.” So as her current Deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre could eventually make even more history … as Psaki’s successor.
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