Skott Freedman’s 2003 anthology “Bi the People” boosted the audibility of bisexual musicians, including Jill Sobule and Leigh Fischer (interviewed by JD Doyle).
Irish folksinger Brian Kennedy turned being outed into an opportunity to be a model of transparency (interviewed by John Frame).
And in NewsWrap: Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” law sparks vigilante violence, cross-dressing Iraqi social media star Noor BM is shot dead, the U.S. Congress ignores Boebert’s pointless anti-trans bile, Trump’s desperate Republican rivals play anti-trans cards, an appeals court unblocks Kentucky and Tennessee pediatric gender-affirming healthcare bans, a Florida school district won’t let students “read gay,” and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Allan Tijamo and Elena Botkin-Levy (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the October 2, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of October 2, 2023
Lost Bi Music Set & Irish Folkie Found
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): A new report confirms spikes in anti-queer attacks in Uganda following enactment of the East African nation’s infamous “Kill the Gays” law, but most abuse is coming from individuals and not the government … popular cross-dressing Iraqi Instagram and TikTok star “Noor BM” is shot dead in Baghdad … Colorado’s Trump-worshipping Congressperson Lauren Boebert disgustingly disrespects a top transgender Defense Department official in yet another stupid political stunt on the House floor that goes nowhere … the second meaningless debate of Republican presidential wannabes without polls-leading candidate Donald Trump underscores the party’s anti-queer policies, especially its war on transgender young people (with comments by Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, and an unrelated but applicable retort the following day by Joe Biden); a three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides to let laws banning pediatric gender-affirming healthcare in Kentucky and Tennessee take effect even as the constitutionality of each statute is being challenged in lower courts … a Texas federal judge strikes down the state’s law banning family-friendly drag shows as a violation of constitutionally-protected free speech … and the southwestern Charlotte County, Florida school district orders the removal of all books in elementary and middle school libraries, media centers and classrooms with queer content or characters (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by ALLAN TIJAMO and ELENA BOTKIN-LEVY, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: The latest statistics show that well over half of the LGBTQ community identifies as bisexual — the largest share of the “alphabet soup.” Bisexuals are more likely to be closeted and suffer from more addiction and mental health issues, but their needs receive much less attention than other sexual and gender minority groups. Not even that much was understood about the bi community 20 years ago when Skott Freedman took on the task of promoting bi visibility in the music world with a compilation album. This Way Out’s JD DOYLE chatted with the pioneering performer in 2003.(with music by Jill Sobule, Leigh Fischer and Skott Freedman).
Feature: When Brian Kennedy was outed in 2000 by ex-Boyzone star Ronan Keating’s Life Is a Rollercoaster, the gay Irish singer-songwriter just went along for the ride. His solo career blossomed, and he became a beloved BBC presenter for an Irish music history program. Brisbane correspondent JOHN FRAME was one of Kennedy’s biggest fans when he chatted with his idol in 2003.
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending September 30th, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Allan Tijamo and Elena Botkin-Levy,
produced by Brian DeShazor
The worst fears about Uganda’s so-called “Kill the Gays” law are being born out. A report by a committee of the Convening for Equality coalition points to anti-queer human rights abuses by private individuals rather than by the government as the main concern. Researchers from the group also known as Chapter 4 were able to document more than 300 rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity from January 1st to August 31st this year. Those included torture, rape, eviction, and reporting perceived-to-be-LGBTQ neighbors to the police.
Only 25 violations were direct actions of the state. At least some of them involved anal examinations, a totally discredited practice mistakenly believed to prove that a man has engaged in gay sex.
The report released on September 28th also notes that the research was far from exhaustive. Most LGBTQ people in the East African nation stay deeply closeted and don’t report their abuse – for obvious reasons. Chapter 4 claims that the law has also led to problematic mental health issues among LGBTQ Ugandans, including suicidal thoughts.
Chapter 4’s website describes the group as “an independent not-for-profit non-partisan organization dedicated to the protection of civil liberties and promotion of human rights for all in Uganda.” Their name refers to the bill of rights enumerated in Chapter 4 of Uganda’s Constitution.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act was enacted in May. It calls for the execution of offenders convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” At least six people have been charged under the law to date, according to Reuters. Two of them face the death penalty. In one of those cases, it appears to have been consensual gay sex between a 20-something young man and an older disabled man.
Popular Iraqi social media personality “Noor BM” was shot dead in Baghdad on September 25th. Twenty-three-year-old Noor Alsaffar’s murder was reported by CNN citing an Iraqi security source. His more than 370,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram loved his fashion and make-up review video shorts, which often included his joyful dancing. Alsaffar identified as male, and faced an endless stream of online abuse. In a 2020 interview on Iraq’s Al Walaa channel, he said that he was neither gay nor transgender, calling himself “only a cross-dresser and a model.”
Authorities claim that Alsaffar’s brazen murder is being fully investigated. However it comes as the government escalates its crackdown on LGBTQ people. Parliament is considering legislation to officially outlaw same-gender sex or its “promotion,” and to ban gender-affirming healthcare. The Middle Eastern nation currently has no formal laws against same-gender sex.
Colorado’s far-right Republican Lauren Boebert threw two performative anti-LGBTQ measures into the chaotic cauldron that is the U.S. House of Representatives this week. In another of her offensively stupid and pointless political stunts, the Trump-loving Boebert displayed total disrespect for a high-ranking transgender Defense Department official on the House floor on September 27th:
Mr. Chair I rise today to offer my amendment that utilizes the Holeman Rule to reduce the salary of Shawn Skelly, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness. That salary shall be reduced to one dollar. As the Assistant Secretary of Defense Mr. Skelly is the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness on all matters related to the readiness of our armed forces. As DoD’s highest-ranking trans official, this delusional man thinking he is a woman, embodies and espouses the “wokism” that causes … that’s causing significant harm to our military readiness and troop morale.
Democrats uniformly opposed Boebert’s amendment, many using scathing language to condemn the Colorado Representative’s blatantly offensive anti-transgender language. Some referenced her recent removal from a performance of Beetlejuice: The Musical for vaping and mutually fondling her date, a club-owner who reportedly hosts drag shows. Boebert’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 268-to-161 even in the Republican-controlled House.
Her party comrades did approve Boebert’s other vindictive proposal, according to The Washington Blade. They passed her amendment to prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using federal funds to support the agency’s LGBTQ employees with educational and diversity materials.
No anti-queer legislation would have a chance of passage in the Democratically-controlled Senate, anyway.
Republican rampaging against transgender youth continued during the second debate among the party’s presidential hopefuls on September 27th. There’s not really much “hope” for the seven onstage, since far-away front-running candidate Donald Trump refused to participate.
Florida’s floundering Governor Ron DeSantis defended his anti-queer policies. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy specifically targeted transgender young people:
I have to be very clear about this. Transgenderism, especially in kids, is a mental health disorder. We have to acknowledge the truth of that for what it is. [applause] And I’m sorry, it is not compassionate to affirm a kid’s confusion. That is not compassion, that is cruelty.
Former Vice President Mike Pence offered a “concurring opinion”:
We’re gonna stand up for the rights of parents, and we’re gonna pass a federal ban on transgender chemical or surgical … surgery … anywhere in the country. We’ve got to protect our kids from this radical gender ideology agenda.
President Joe Biden gave his fourth speech defending democracy itself the following day with comments that could have been a direct response:
Frankly these extremists have no idea what the hell they’re talking about.
A three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to let bans on pediatric gender-affirming healthcare take effect in Kentucky and Tennessee. Challenges to each law’s constitutionality are continuing in lower courts. The vote was 2-to-1. Each measure would prohibit medical providers from creating treatment plans with transgender minor patients and their parents or guardians that include reversible puberty blockers and hormone therapies. The laws also ban surgical interventions, which virtually never happen with trans people under the age of 18.
The Sixth Circuit oversees state laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The three-judge panel decided to consolidate the Kentucky and Tennessee cases.
Families with transgender children are plaintiffs in both states, and the Tennessee case also includes a doctor. They’re represented by Lambda Legal, the ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private law firms. They’re weighing their options, including a review of the ruling by the full bench of the SIxth Circuit.
Just about everyone expects the final word on pediatric gender-affirming healthcare to come from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Texas U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner declared on September 26th that the state’s law banning “sexually oriented” performances is “an unconstitutional restriction on speech.” He forbade state officials from enforcing it.
Hittner had temporarily blocked its enforcement a day before it was set to take effect in late August. Critics charged that the measure targeting drag as “sexually oriented” performance was so vaguely worded that it could outlaw other costumed performances, such as opera, ballet, Broadway musicals – even cheerleading. The owners of venues hosting such shows faced fines of up to $10,000 per violation, and performers could be fined and jailed for up to a year.
Hittner reasoned in his ruling that “a survey of court decisions related to the issue of drag shows reveals little divergence from the opinion that drag performances are expressive content that is afforded First Amendment protection,” citing recent court decisions blocking drag bans in Tennessee, Florida and Montana.
Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick promised an appeal. He claimed in a social media post that the law, “which restricts children from being exposed to drag queen performances is about protecting young children and families. This story is not over.”
Finally, a southwestern Florida school district has ordered the removal of all books with LGBTQ content or characters from elementary and middle school libraries and classrooms. Officials from the Republican-dominated Charlotte County School District pointed to the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” laws to justify the purge. They argued that the removal only applies to libraries and media centers, which can sometimes serve as classrooms.
Nikki Fried leads the state’s Democratic Party, joining a progressive chorus condemning the “don’t read gay” action. She wrote that “Books with LGBTQ+ characters and themes should be celebrated, not shunned — just like LGBTQ+ Floridians should be every day.”