The 2021 Best Indie Book Award for an LGBTQ coming of age novel prize went to Dwayne Ratleff’s “Dancing To The Lyrics.” Is the story of a queer African American boy growing up on the tough streets of Baltimore, Maryland fiction, memoir or both? (Eric Jansen of “Out in the Bay,” interviewer)
And in NewsWrap: Chiléan voters reject an inclusive new Constitution despite the widespread desire for progressive reform, Liz Truss fills her Cabinet with homophobic Tories when she takes over as the U.K.’s new Prime Minister, Iran for the first time condemns two women to death for their queer activism, a Texas federal district judge allows religious objections to block coverage for free PrEP under the Affordable Care Act, Washington state's conversion therapy ban withstands a federal appeal, activists dispatch angels to defend a Pride drag show at Brigham Young University, an Idaho librarian checks out after enduring unhinged harangues about books that were never on her shelves, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Michael Taylor Gray and Sarah Montague (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of September 12, 2022
Dwayne Ratleff: Dancing to the Lyrics
Program #1,798 distributed 09/12/22
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Chilean voters soundly reject the draft of a more progressive, queer-inclusive Constitution … the death of Queen Elizabeth II overshadows the selection of Liz Truss as Britain’s next Prime Minister, whose anti-queer track record and those of many of her Cabinet selections threaten to push the country even further to the right … two queer women activists have been sentenced to death in Iran for “corruption on Earth,” an apparent first for the Islamic Republic … a U.S. federal judge in Texas upholds the right of devout religious employers to refuse to offer anti-HIV prophylactic drugs known as PrEP mandated by the Affordable Care Act (frequently prescribed for men who have sex with men) because doing so would “encourage homosexual behavior” … the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the state of Washington’s ban on so-called “conversion therapy” that falsely claims to turn queer young people straight … white-clad “angels” with big white wings reminiscent of the 1998 funeral of Matthew Shepard protect the audience and performers at an “all ages” drag show at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah from sometimes armed bile-spewing protestors … and continuous howls by frequently-armed Christian fundamentalists about some 400 young adult books on the shelves of the Boundary County Library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho with allegedly “deviant” content force director Kimber Glidden to close the book on her job (a cogent comment by Glidden caps a brief selection of pious complainers at Library Board meetings in a CNN report by NICK WATTS] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY and SARAH MONTAGUE, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Dancing To The Lyrics won the 2021 Best Indie Book Award in the LGBTQ Coming of Age category, but whose coming of age story is it? Author Dwayne Ratleff explains how truth is guiltier than fiction in these highlights from an interview with ERIC JANSEN of Out in the Bay radio, San Francisco (with audio editing by LUSEN MENDEL, and TWO-added music by NINA SIMONE).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending September 10th, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Michael Taylor-Gray and Sarah Montague,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Chiléan voters have rejected a new Constitution to replace the one left by the 1970s dictator Augusto Pinochet, despite strongly supporting a rewrite. They approved the effort to craft a document more reflective of the times by 80 percent in 2020, but they rejected the proposed draft by an almost 2-to-1 margin on September 4th.
Strong concerns about guaranteeing representation for the South American country’s indigenous people and entrenched rights protections for LGBTQ people were among the stumbling blocks analysts pointed out. Text in the rejected Constitution included allowing people to live life “in all its dimensions and manifestations, including sexual characteristics, gender identities and expressions.”
Chilé’s President Gabriel Boric says he will renew his efforts to “build a new Constitution itinerary alongside Congress and civil society.”
Chiléan queer advocacy group Fundacion Iguales says their work is not over. They tweeted, “The minimum floor for our next constitution is full equality for women and sexual and gender diversity.”
Javiera Zuñiga represents the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation. He told the Washington Blade, “The matters related to substantive equality that were included in the proposal are not part of the conflictive elements in the proposal, such as nondiscrimination; respect for identity and equality of rights are quite well installed among Chiléans as basic principles of the society we wish to build.”
Rights activists celebrated last year when Chilé’s lawmakers approved marriage equality legislation. The first queer couples were wed in March of this year.
The final royal act of Queen Elizabeth II was to formally appoint the U.K.’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss. Truss won a contentious Conservative Party battle on September 5th to replace Boris Johnson, the subject of multiple scandals. She shook hands with the ailing Queen the following day.
The death of the 96-year-old monarch overshadowed Truss’ selection, and the warnings from LGBTQ rights groups about her. They say the new Tory government is drifting even further to the right, and becoming more anti-queer. Truss herself has questioned the concept of gender identity, and gender-affirming care for minors.
The new cabinet is filled with anti-LGBTQ ministers, according to Pink News. Home Secretary Suella Braverman has also attacked trans rights. Unfortunately so has Minister for Equalities Nadhim Zahawi. He’s even suggested reviving the U.K.’s notorious Section 28, the discarded law banning the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools. Health Secretary and Deputy P.M. Thérèse Coffey and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng both oppose marriage equality, and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace voted against it when he was an MP.
Other cabinet members who have voted against LGBTQ rights include Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena and Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan.
On the flip side, Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis, Work and Pensions Secretary Chloe Smith, Education Secretary Kit Malthouse, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, and Attorney General Michael Ellis have strong pro-equality voting records. Pink News reporter Patrick Kelleher notes, “What remains to be seen is whether they will continue supporting LGBTQ+ rights in a government that is dominated by ministers who favour anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment.”
Two queer Iranian women activists have been sentenced to death for "corruption on Earth." Amnesty International calls 31-year-old Zahra Seddiqhi Hamedani a “gender nonconforming human rights defender.” She was arrested in October attempting to enter Turkey to seek asylum. A court in Urmia found her and 24-year-old Elham Choubdar guilty.
Norway’s Hengaw Organization for Human Rights says that the two were each accused of promoting homosexuality and Christianity, but the Islamic Iranian regime denies those reports. They claim the women were arrested for human trafficking, not for their activism.
Shadi Amin of the German-based Iranian LGBTQ+ group 6Rang is calling on Germany and other foreign governments to bring pressure on Iran to free the women. He told Agence France Press, “This is the first time that [any] woman has been sentenced to death in Iran for her sexual orientation.”
The condemned can apparently still file appeals, but that may just prolong the inevitable. The Iranian government is infamous for its persecution of gender- and sexual minorities. Two 32-year-old gay men were executed in February. Mehrdad Karimpour and Farid Mohammadi were convicted of committing the “crime” of sodomy.
U.S. federal courts have erased rights in Texas and upheld them in Washington State.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas overruled the Affordable Care Act mandate that requires free coverage of the HIV drugs Truvada and Descovy, commonly known as PrEP. PrEP patients in the U.S. are overwhelmingly men who have sex with men.
O’Connor has a lengthy anti-queer judicial “rap sheet” since he was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007. He agreed with a group of Christian employers and employees that being forced to provide PrEP “enable[s and encourages] homosexual behavior,” and violates provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
An appeal of O’Connor’s decision is all but certain.
A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed Washington’s ban on conversion therapy for minors. Washington passed its law in 2018. It prohibits licensed mental health professionals from subjecting patients under the age of 18 to the debunked treatments. Twenty other states outlaw the bogus “therapy” that cannot turn LGBTQ people straight, and sometimes does irreparable harm.
California was the first in the nation to ban conversion therapy ban in 2014. The same appeals court upheld that law.
A self-identified “Christian licensed marriage and family therapist” challenged the Washington law on free speech and religious liberty grounds. He was represented by the certifiably anti-queer Alliance Defending Freedom.
However, the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion reads, “States do not lose the power to regulate the safety of medical treatments performed under the authority of a state license merely because those treatments are implemented through speech rather than through scalpel.”
It’s not clear what additional legal steps the losing side might take to challenge the ruling, if any.
The “all ages” audience gave Jenna Tailia a rousing welcome to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Her drag show was part of a “Back to School Pride Night” organized by the RaYnbow Collective, a nonprofit support group for the queer B.Y.U. community. The Mormon-run university bans organized pro-LGBTQ groups from meeting on campus, so the annual event is held in a nearby park.
That did not deter armed protesters shouting “pedophiles,” “groomers” and “stop protecting the homos” from trying to disrupt the fun on September 3rd.
Then the angels appeared – angels in the form of counter-protesters dressed in white with enormous white wings. Reminiscent of the people who guarded the funeral of gay-bashing victim Matthew Shepard in 1998, a dozen of their descendants formed a human shield between about a hundred bile-spewing protestors and hundreds of LGBTQ students, alumni and friends.
Police on hand broke up a few scuffles between the two groups, but the event was otherwise festive and peaceful.
Finally, Kimber Glidden of the Boundary County Library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho had just had enough. She called it quits as library director on September 10th, after months of demands at board meetings by sometimes-armed Christian conservatives to remove about 400 young adult books – almost entirely dealing with LGBTQ themes, a few with the occult. The meetings went something like this:
CNN’s Nick Watt asked Glidden about the most salient point in the controversy:
[sound: Watt and Glidden]
Watt: Were any of those books on the shelves?
Glidden: Not a single one.