Gemma X, The Villaineers, Mariah Christie, Bestfriend, The Barbarellatones, Karma, Logan Lynn, Mariah Counts, Xantheartist, Violet Grae and Big Thief gave us new releases in the second half of this year, and Steve Sims gives them the Queer Music Focus treatment!
And in NewsWrap: binational gay dads win their toddler’s Namibian citizenship, Uganda recognizes its first official gender change, booted South Korean trans woman soldier reinstated posthumously, Japanese trans man sues for recognition without sterilization, Texas House bans trans student athletes, COVID confines Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras again, next generation Superman gets super boyfriend, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Michael Taylor-Gray and Melanie Keller (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this and more on the October 18, 2021 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of October 18, 2021
Queer Music Focus – 2021’s Flip Side
Program #1,751 distributed 10/18/21
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): A Namibian court grants citizenship to the young son of a gay couple born via surrogacy in South Africa … Uganda legally recognizes its first transgender citizen … a landmark ruling orders the South Korean military to reinstate the now-suicided trans woman service member who was discharged after transitioning as “disabled” and unfit for service … a 46-year-old Japanese trans man challenges the requirement that he must be sterilized before he can have his gender legally changed on government documents … the Texas House advances a bill to ban trans women and girls from competing in their identified gender in public school sports programs … an even further-right challenger to incumbent Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott prompts the sudden removal of an LGBTQ-supportive page on the state website … organizers of the world-famous Sydney, Australia Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras reluctantly announce that COVID restrictions that may extend into 2022 have forced the event back to the Sydney Cricket Ground in March … the latest young incarnation of Superman is coming out soon as a socially-conscious bisexual with a male love interest who also has super powers (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY and MELANIE KELLER, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Back in May, This Way Out’s melody maestro STEVE SIMS sampled tunes from LGBTQ artists released in the first part of 2021. Now he turns his Queer Music Focus on what’s been happening on the scene since then (featuring Gemma X, The Villaineers, Mariah Christie, Bestfriend, The Barbarellatones, Karma, Logan Lynn, Mariah Counts, Xantheartist, Violet Grae, and Big Thief.
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending October 16, 2021 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Michael Taylor-Gray and Melanie Keller, produced by Brian DeShazor
A queer family in Namibia is another step closer to a happy home. The two-and-a-half year old son of Namibian Phillip Luhl and Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado was ruled a Namibian citizen “by descent” on October 13th. High Court Judge Thomas Masuku said that a paternity test was not necessary for little Yona Luhl-Delgado, who was born in 2019 via surrogacy in South Africa. Judge Masuku ordered the Ministry Of Home Affairs and Immigration to provide Yona with national documents within 30 days, and to pay his fathers’ legal costs. Uno Katjipuka-Sibolile is the couple’s lawyer. She told reporters, “This is a big win for same sex couples, and especially a big win for Namibian children born outside Namibia by way of surrogacy.”
Luhl and Delgado are also seeking Namibian citizenship for their twin daughters, who were born in March of this year via a South African surrogate. They won the first round in May when the government issued the baby girls travel documents to enter Namibia — but they are not allowed to leave.
Private consensual adult same-gender sex is still a crime in Namibia. However, speaking to the Reuters news agency earlier this year, Justice Minister Yvonne Dausab called those laws “outdated and discriminatory,” and said, “All Namibians should enjoy life, dignity, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Uganda has legally recognized a trans woman’s corrected gender for the first time. Cleopatra Kambugu is a veteran advocate for sexual and gender minorities in the rabidly anti-queer nation, but according to the Sydney Star Observer, even she was stunned, saying, “Everything my country does is surprising. Even now, I don’t know what’s going to happen.” She’s already received her new passport and government-issued photo ID.
Kambugu believes that most Ugandans don’t understand the difference between gender and sexual orientation. In her words, “It’s not who you sleep with, it’s who you walk as in this world.”
A documentary called The Pearl of Africa was inspired by Kambugu’s 10-years-long transition and activism in her hostile East African homeland. That story may end here. She now says, “I’m 35, I’m tired, I want to get married. I’ve put my life out there, I’ve committed myself … this might be one of the last things I do for the movement.”
A South Korean trans woman has won her case to be reinstated in the military — albeit posthumously. Twenty-three-year-old Staff Sergeant Byun Hui-su was denied a transfer to the female corps following her gender reassignment surgery, which was performed in Thailand in 2019. Instead she was discharged the following year as “disabled” and unfit for service. She sued, but committed suicide this past March before her case could be resolved.
The Daejeon District Court ruled on October 14th that since Byun’s gender change had already been legally recognized, the South Korean military must acknowledge her as a woman and officially reinstate her. The decision countered the contention Byun’s loss of male genitals constituted a “disability,” and concluded, “When based on standards of women, there [were] no mental or physical disability grounds for dismissal.”
The Army responded by announcing a “comprehensive review” of its policies to determine whether to appeal the decision.
If it stands, advocates believe the ruling could have far-reaching implications. Rainbow Action Against Sexual-Minority Discrimination of Korea is an umbrella organization of more than three-dozen LGBTQ rights groups. Their spokesperson told Reuters that it might be “the start of the discussion that could pave the way for all transgender and sexual minorities in South Korea to serve in the military like other citizens.”
Gen Suzuki insists that a person’s gender identity should be respected without the need for medical intervention. That’s why he’s challenging Japan’s requirement that trans people have their reproductive organs completely removed before they can legally change their gender. The Family Registry calls 46-year-old Suzuki a woman, but he lives as a man, has received hormone therapy, and his breast tissue has been removed. Preferring not to take on the additional health impacts of further surgery, he challenged the sterilization requirement in Shizuoka Family Court in early October.
Suzuki vows to go all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court if necessary. A divided high court ruled in a 2019 case that requiring the surgery was constitutional, although two of the four Justices thought it might be “suspected” of violating “the constitutional right to pursue happiness.” All agreed that the decision should be reviewed as social mores change.
The Texas House of Representatives is the latest brigade to join the right-wing war against transgender youth in the U.S. It approved a bill to bar trans students from competing as their identified gender in public school sports. Lawmakers in the state’s lower house were “0 for 3” trying to pass the bill until October 14th. Then the mostly party-line vote was 76-to-54. It was the third special legislative session called by far-right Republican Governor Greg Abbott. Other such sessions have been devoted to restricting voting rights and blocking most abortions in the state.
Before it got stalled in the House, the anti-trans legislation had sailed through the Senate. So most observers expect it to sail again, and for Abbott to gleefully sign it into law.
Trans women and girls have been the primary targets of the public school transgender athletic bans that have infected several other U.S. states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Federal courts have already stopped the laws from taking effect in Idaho and West Virginia as challenges to their constitutionality climb the judicial ladder.
In more Texas-style cruelty, the state government removed supportive information for LGBTQ young people from its website after a Republican challenger to Abbott’s right argued that the incumbent governor was spending tax dollars to “advocate for transgender ideology.”
Sydney, Australia’s world-famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will be celebrated at the Sydney Cricket Ground again in 2022. Unfortunately, the flamboyant marchers and fabulous floats will not be parading down the traditional Oxford Street route.
Organizers say they had truly hoped that COVID-19 would only confine this year’s parade to the Sydney Cricket Ground. Their October 14th announcement blames the uncertainty about what pandemic restrictions might continue into next year. They still express confidence that Mardi Gras will return to its Oxford Street roots for the 45th annual extravaganza in 2023, when Sydney is also scheduled to host World Pride.
The 2022 Mardi Gras theme is “United We Shine.” The March 5th parade is the climax of a multifaceted festival that includes theatre, visual arts, panels, community gatherings and parties.
Tickets go on sale November 15th.
Finally, in a multiverse-shaking revelation, D.C. Comics has announced that the new incarnation of Superman is bisexual. “Jonathan Kent” is the son of “Lois Lane” and “Clark Kent” a.k.a “Kal-El.” He’s set to come out on November 9th in Superman: Son of Kal-El #5.
At 17, Jon is tasked with filling his dad’s shoes on earth after the elder Kent goes off-planet to continue his work in the rest of the galaxy. Jon gets the support of his close friend, reporter “Jay Nakamura.” Friendship blossoms into something more, however, when the two share a tender kiss. It’s also worth noting that this is a socially conscious Superman who fights against climate change, gun violence, and inhumane treatment of refugees.
Writer Tom Taylor also teased in a press release that this Superman’s new love interest has his own set of superpowers that will create a new Dynamic Duo in the fight for truth and justice – sorry Batman and recently-bi Robin. Taylor said, “I wanted to have a really equal, supportive relationship for those two.”
This is just the latest queer wrinkle in the billion-dollar world of comic books. While the original D.C. crew still treads the straight and narrow, their modern iterations and additional characters have been more liberated, with more and more coming out in recent years. As Glen Weldon noted on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, it’s not “just a phase.”
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