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This Way Out Radio Episode #1857:“My Life Is Poetry” Workshop

A unique program for LGBTQ seniors led by West Hollywood, California’s first Poet Laureate Steven Reigns uses poetry as a tool to capture their life experiences and create a live performance piece. Reigns discusses the workshop’s process and goals, and participants Alicia Arbio, Hank Henderson, Ingrid Paulina Rodas, Louise Moore, Nick Paul, and Terry Anglin are featured (produced by Brian DeShazor).

And in NewsWrap: the Nigerian government’s anti-LGBTQ crackdown escalates with the arrest of 76 people at an alleged “gay wedding,” South Korea’s Constitutional Court upholds the Military Criminal Act’s ban on gay sex between service members, Austria plans to compensate gay men who were unjustly prosecuted for adult homosexual acts, relatively obscure Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana is elected Speaker of the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives with a homophobic and misogynistic track record, “Libs of TikTok” social media influencer Chaya Raichik added to the Anti-Defamation League’s “Glossary of Extremism,” and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by John Dyer V and Kalyn Hardman (produced by Brian DeShazor).

All this on the October 30, 2023 edition of This Way Out!

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Complete Program Summary
for the week of October 30, 2023

“My Life Is Poetry” Workshop

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Seventy-six men and women are netted in the latest raid on a suspected “gay birthday party and wedding” in Nigeria; South Korea’s Constitutional Court ambiguously upholds a ban on gay sex in the military … Austria plans to financially compensate gay men unjustly prosecuted under consensual-sex-banning statutes that were not fully overturned until 2002 … after more than three weeks of internal wrangling following the farthest-right Trump-loving wing of the party's ouster of double-dealing Kevin McCarthy and the failure of three previous candidates to get enough support, Republicans choose obscure stridently anti-queer Christian nationalist Mike Johnson of Louisiana to be Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and second in line to the presidency behind Vice President Kamala Harris [with excerpts from Johnson’s post-swearing in remarks and comments during an interview on Fox News] … Chaya Raichik threatens undisclosed “action” against the Anti-Defamation League for adding her and her rabidly anti-LGBTQ social media account “Libs of TikTok,” which “specializes” in fueling bomb threats against schools and libraries with perceived pro-queer policies and hospitals that provide pediatric trans gender-affirming healthcare, to its “Glossary of Extremism” (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by JOHN DYER V and KALYN HARDMAN, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).

Feature: The wisdom of queer elders has frequently been left on the movement’s back burner. A unique program for LGBTQ seniors uses poetry as a tool to capture their life experiences. West Hollywood, California’s first Poet Laureate Steven Reigns is the workshop instructor. The participants shared their work in a performance attended by This Way Out’s BRIAN DeSHAZOR

(starring Alicia Arbio, Hank Henderson, Ingrid Paulina Rodas, Louis Moore, Nick Paul, and Terry Anglin, with music by CARLES TREPAT).


A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending October 28th, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by John Dyer V and Kalyn Hardman,
and produced by Brian DeShazor

Nigerian security forces arrested 76 people in the northeastern state of Gombe this week as the government’s anti-LGBTQ crackdown escalates. Authorities charge that the October 23rd alleged “gay birthday party” was going to become a “gay wedding.” The West African nation outlaws same-gender sex, and its 2014 Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act makes it a crime to participate in or attend a queer wedding ceremony. It also outlaws public expressions of affection by same-gender couples, and bans queer advocacy groups. Gombe is also one of Nigeria’s northern states where Islamic law is imposed on top of secular laws. Private consensual adult same-gender sex can already be punished with up to 14 years in prison. In the Muslim-controlled sharia states, the death penalty is also a possibility.

Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps spokesperson Buhari Saad announced that they had “apprehended 76 suspected homosexuals … while holding a birthday party organized by one of them who was to wed his male bride at the event.” He said that 59 men and 17 women will be prosecuted. According to Saad, 21 of the men “willfully [confessed to] being gay.”

Nineteen men and women were arrested last December by sharia police in the northern city of Kano for attempting to organize a “gay wedding.” Officials let them off with a “warning” and never brought any cases to court. However, more than 200 people were detained in September in the country’s northern state of Delta for attending a ”gay wedding.” Prosecutors eventually charged 69 people. They were all released on bail and must register with authorities every month until their next hearing, which has yet to be announced.

South Korea’s Constitutional Court has decided that gay sex in the military is a potential threat to combat readiness. South Korean courts have upheld the gay sex ban in the Military Criminal Act four times since 2002, according to Reuters. The Act prohibits “anal intercourse,” or what it vaguely calls “any other indecent act.” Male service members convicted of engaging in private consensual adult gay sex face up to two years in prison.

Equality advocates were disappointed by the Constitutional Court’s October 26th ruling, but they were encouraged by the narrow five-to-four margin. Indeed, the four dissenting justices called the law “abstract and ambiguous.” They questioned whether “indecent acts” applied only to males or to both male and female service members. They also found “no reason” to differentiate between same-gender and heterosexual consensual sexual acts between soldiers.

Two male soldiers who were sentenced by a military court to suspended terms for their consensual gay relationship last year saw their convictions overturned by the Supreme Court.

Amnesty International's East Asia researcher Boram Jang called the law’s validation by the Constitutional Court “a distressing setback in the decades-long struggle for equality in the country.”

LGBTQ rights activists have faced increasingly strident opposition in recent years from fundamentalist Christian organizations in the socially conservative country.

All able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to serve from 18 to 21 months in South Korea’s military.

The Austrian government has set aside the equivalent of more than 40 million U.S. dollars to compensate gay men who were unjustly prosecuted for consensual adult homosexual acts. After same-gender sex itself was decriminalized in 1971, corresponding heterosexual acts were not prosecuted under statutes that remained in force for same-gender sex. They included unequal ages of consent, a ban on promoting same-gender relationships, and starting or joining a queer organization. Heterosexual and lesbian prostitution was made legal, while gay male prostitution remained criminal. The Constitutional Court finally annulled the last of those statutes in 2002.

The Ministry of Justice expects about 11,000 people to apply when the Rehabilitation and Compensation Act takes effect next year, according to Euronews.

Eligible applicants are slated to receive the equivalent of more than $3,600U.S. for each nullified judgment. They will receive half that amount for every year they spent in prison, an equivalent sum if they had health or economic setbacks because of their prosecution, and about $600U.S. for every formal investigation launched against them.

All of those convicted under the provisions will have their criminal records expunged. The Justice Minister offered a formal apology.

Activists have generally expressed support for the moves, but some are also demanding that anyone who was fined is entitled to repayment with interest, even though they may not have been jailed. They also want the National Council to issue its own formal apology. Ann-Sophie Otte chairs HOSI Vien, Homosexual Initiative Vienna. She told Euronews, “after all, it was the National Council that passed these laws in the first place."

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives finally has a Speaker. More than three weeks after the far-right wing of the party ousted Kevin McCarthy and paralyzed one of the country’s two legislative chambers, Republicans settled on their fourth choice. Relatively obscure Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana is now second in line to the presidency behind Vice President Kamala Harris. Johnson has played no role in Republican Party leadership during his six years in the House and has no noteworthy legislation to his credit. His claim to fame is as an impeachment attorney for Donald Trump – twice – and a leading “architect” of the efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He of course voted against certifying the election of Joe Biden as President.

In his post-swearing-in remarks, Johnson credited divine intervention for his emergence from the backbenches and the ascendance of the MAGA congressional faction:

[SOUND: Johnson]

I believe that Scripture, the Bible, is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority. He raised up each of you, all of us. And I believe that God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment in this time.

A wide range of queer and progressive groups are calling him “dangerous” and “the most anti-equality” Speaker in U.S. history. Mike Johnson is a card-carrying Christian nationalist. He used to work for the notoriously far-right anti-queer legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a “hate group.” Johnson opposed sodomy law repeal and has called for the re-criminalization of same-gender sex. He’s railed against anti-discrimination laws. He voted against the Respect for Marriage Act that legislatively codified marriage equality. He’s also supported a national ban on a woman’s right to choose, a federal version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, and the virtual legal erasure of transgender people.

The amiable congressman is not shy about his fundamentalist Christian agenda the way he did during an October 26th interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity:

[SOUND: Johnson]

I am a “rule of law guy.” I made a career defending the rule of law. When the Supreme Court issued the Obergefell opinion, that became the law of the land. Okay? I respect the rule of law, but I also genuinely love all people, regardless of their lifestyle choices. This is not about the people themselves.

I am a Bible-believing Christian. Someone asked me today in the media, they said, “What does Mike Johnson think …” about any issue under the sun? And I say, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it … that’s my worldview, that’s what I believe.

New Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Mike Johnson, whose understanding of the Bible is not much better than his understanding of the Constitution.

God help us all.

Finally, who’s crying now? Viciously anti-LGBTQ “Libs of TikTok” social media influencer Chaya Raichik is howling over her recent addition by the Anti-Defamation League to its “Glossary of Extremism.” The former real estate huckster has more than 2.6 million followers around the world. “Libs of TikTok” regularly sparks bomb threats and sometimes direct death threats by railing against schools, libraries, and other institutions for hosting “Drag Queen Story Hours” or for other perceived pro-queer policies. Its specialty is targeting hospitals or other medical facilities for offering gender-affirming pediatric trans healthcare.

On the platform known to everyone but Elon Musk as Twitter, Raichik demanded the immediate removal of her name from the ADL’s “Glossary of Extremism.” She wailed, “not only have they defamed me, they also lumped me in with terrorist organizations like Hamas.”

Raichik gave the ADL until the end of October to remove her name before in her words she’ll be “forced to take more action.”

The ADL told reporters, “[W]e do not comment on matters regarding actual -- or threatened -- litigation.”

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