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This Way Out Radio Episode #1872: Early Elliot and Rare Ray Bradbury

Looking back at actor/writer/producer Elliot Page’s coming out speech — the first time — a tribute to queer youth at the Human Rights Campaign's 2014 "Time to Thrive" conference.

Prolific science fiction writer Ray Bradbury branched out into several genres, including a lesser-known play with a gay twist (interviewed by Chris Wilson).

And in NewsWrap: Yemen’s Houthi rebels sentence 13 to death for engaging in same-gender sex, Britain’s Parliament hears for the first time exclusively from transgender people about the challenges they face, Mumbai Pride returns better than ever after a four-year COVID hiatus, Oklahoma lawmaker plans to replace Pride with “patriotism,” Seattle queer bar raids reminiscent of Stonewall prompt a review of antiquated Washington state “lewd conduct” rules, Tennessee town and South Dakota agency pay heavy fines for anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Daniel Huecias (produced by Brian DeShazor).

All this on the February 12, 2024 edition of This Way Out!

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Complete Program Summary
for the week of February 12, 2024

Turning Pages: Early Elliot & Rare Ray Bradbury

Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below): A rebel Houthi-controlled court in Yemen condemns 13 defendants to death for same-gender sex, while dozens of other arrestees face similar trials … with testimony for the first time ever by an all-transgender panel, the British Parliament holds hearings about keeping transgender, non-binary and gender fluid students safe at school … a revitalized LGBTQ Pride celebration returns to the Indian city of Mumbai after a four-year hiatus … Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma push for bans on any state support for Pride events and even a ban on flying the rainbow flag at state-owned buildings … Washington’s State Liquor and Cannabis Board orders at least a temporary end to “lewd conduct” inspections after patrons at several queer Seattle nightspots experience “Stonewall Inn-like” invasions by law enforcement and Board agents claiming to have found violations … the city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee settles a lawsuit challenging its draconian bans on Pride events and drag performances for $500,000 … the state of South Dakota settles an anti-trans bias lawsuit by the Transformation Project advocacy group for $300,000 and a formal apology (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by TANYA KANE-PARRY and DANIEL HUECIAS, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).


Feature: Even well into the 21st Century, there’s no easy way for a young person to navigate the landscape of sexual orientation and gender identity. Award-winning transgender actor Elliot Page spoke movingly about those challenges when the actor/writer/producer came out — for the first time — at the Human Rights Campaign's "Time to Thrive" youth conference in February 2014 (with intro/outro music by IDINA MENZEL).

Feature: Ray Bradbury is one of the best-known science fiction writers of all time, but people who grew up on Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles are often unaware of the other genres he took on. It was not until 1988 that Bradbury’s 1954 Irish play Falling Upward had its world premiere in Los Angeles.  More than 25 years later, the play’s revival showed This Way Out’s CHRIS WILSON that something queer this way had come (produced with CHRISTOPHER DAVID TRENTHAM, with music by KEN O’MALLEY).


A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending February 10th, 2024
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Daniel Huecias,
produced by Brian DeShazor

      Houthi rebels in Yemen have sentenced 13 people to death for engaging in same-gender sex.  A court in the Shia Islamist-controlled province of Ibb announced the verdicts on February 4th, according to Agence France Presse. It reports that close to 40 other people have been arrested on similar charges in Ibb.

The Iran-backed Houthis have been in a prolonged civil war with the government of Yemen, which is propped up by a regional group led by Saudi Arabia.  Since Iran-backed Hamas brutally attacked southern Israel from Gaza on October 7th, the Houthis have targeted commercial ships in the Red Sea. The U.S. and U.K. have responded with numerous air strikes on suspected Houthi strongholds.

It’s not clear when the 13 condemned homosexuals might be executed.  They can all appeal.  The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reported in 2022 that Houthi courts had sentenced 350 people to death since rebels overran the capital of Sanaa in 2014.  However, there had only been eleven actual executions. Extra-judicial executions by means of stoning, hanging, shooting and beheading are not uncommon.

Human Rights Watch Yemen researcher Niku Jafarnia told Agence France Presse, "The Houthis are ramping up their abuses at home while the world is busy watching their attacks in the Red Sea … If they really cared about the human rights they purport to be standing up for in Palestine, they wouldn't be flogging and stoning Yemenis to death."

    Britain’s Parliament held hearings on the challenges of transgender and non-binary school students – for the first time featuring testimony exclusively by transgender people. MPs Kate Osborne and Caroline Nokes hosted the February 6th panel of trans students, teachers and legal experts. They schooled lawmakers on practical solutions to advance the safety of gender-diverse students on campus.  Several young witnesses described harrowing personal experiences of harassment and abuse meted out by both fellow students and even school officials.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Tory government is proposing new guidelines for public schools and colleges supposedly aimed at protecting trans, non-binary and gender-fluid students.  If that’s the goal, critics say the draft guidelines fall woefully short. That prompted the advocacy group Trans+ Solidarity Alliance to organize the hearings. Calling transgender identity an “ideology,” the guidelines allow teachers and other school officials to refuse a trans student’s request to recognize a name change or preferred pronouns.        

School officials under the Sunak guidelines could also keep trans students from using the appropriate sex-segregated campus facilities, such as bathrooms or changing rooms.

The parliamentary panel concluded that “many in the LGBTQIA+ community and the education sector fear [that the draft guidelines] will make supporting trans and gender questioning children to thrive and learn at school all but impossible.”

The Trans+ Solidarity Alliance’s director Jude Guaitamacchi applauded the all-trans panel. They said, “It’s time for trans people to be part of the conversation and for our voices to be heard instead of being ignored, talked over and spoken for.”

    LGBTQ Pride returned to the streets of Mumbai, India on February 3rd.  A four-year hiatus that began with the COVID pandemic was extended due to problems trying to secure proper government permits. Thousands marched in the colorful procession through the state capital of Maharashtra or cheered along the route.

The “re-born” Pride celebration was spearheaded by a new organizing group, the Mumbai Queer Collective. Eighteen events in January led up to the march itself, including the annual LGBTQ flashmob on Carter Road, athletic competitions at the “QGames” on Juhu Beach, a “Queer History Walk” guided by three venerable local activists, and the “Gulabi Mela,” a marketplace for young queer artists and entrepreneurs.

Two after-parties followed the Pride Parade finale.  In the organizers words, “With the pride march, we not only want to demand our rights to exist and have equal rights as others, but we also want to claim the streets and be visible: show people we exist, and we are in huge numbers, and we demand space within the city and all its institutions.”

    Will the U.S. state of Oklahoma ban the Pride that Mumbai has embraced? State Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill to eliminate any recognition of LGBTQ Pride or support for such celebrations.

Representative Kevin West is behind what he calls the “Patriotism Not Pride Act.” House Bill 3217 would forbid state agencies from using government resources to endorse or otherwise support LGBTQ Pride celebrations. It even bans the display of any flag “that represents sexual orientation or gender identity” on state properties.

West told NBC News he’s sponsoring the measure, as he put it, “because Oklahoma taxpayer dollars should not be used to promote or recognize activities that are not in line with the values of most Oklahomans.”

If HB 3217 passes both Republican-majority legislative chambers and is signed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, Democrats and rights groups believe it will be declared an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment free speech rights.

    Patrons at several of Seattle, Washington’s popular queer nightspots said they felt like they were in a time warp, transported to New York City’s Stonewall Inn in 1969. In late January, the State Liquor and Cannabis Board raided local queer bars with unannounced, shockingly invasive “inspections.” The law enforcement officials on the scene claim to have witnessed “lewd conduct” based on antiquated laws for establishments that serve liquor.

Flashbulbs popped in the faces of stunned patrons being photographed at Neighbors, The Cuff Complex, the Lumberyard and the Seattle Eagle. Some male customers at the Eagle wearing jockstraps and a bartender at Cuff exposing his nipple were the only violations cited.

The community’s outrage prompted the Liquor Board to renounce the raids and order the temporary suspension of further “lewd conduct” “inspections.” Meanwhile, “out” Washington state Senate Majority Floor Leader Jamie Pedersen says that he and fellow Democrats are working on legislation to fully repeal the “lewd conduct” regulations.

A group of queer nightspot owners called the government’s response “a huge victory for queer people, queer spaces, and queer self-expression.”

    Finally, the city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee and the state of South Dakota each paid the price for blatant bias this week.

Officials in Murfreesboro agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the Tennessee Equality Project and the ACLU of Tennessee. The suit challenged a local ordinance that banned Pride events and drag shows as “sexual conduct” and “public behaviors, materials, or events that are patently offensive to the adult community.”  The ordinance enacted last June was also cited to justify the removal of queer-supportive books from school classrooms and public libraries.

A federal judge had already temporarily enjoined the city from enforcing the ordinance while its legality was being tested in court.

Murfreesboro officials agreed to pay $500,000 this week to settle the lawsuit -- and quit while they were behind.

     Meanwhile, South Dakota officials agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit this week with a $300,000 pay-out and a formal apology. The Sioux Falls-based advocacy group Transformation Project had sued the state Department of Health for abruptly ending its contract in December 2022 for $136,000 in federal funds to hire Jack Fonder to be its Community Health Worker/Project Coordinator. The governor’s Chief of Staff Ian Fury told rightwing media outlet The Daily Signal, “South Dakota does not support this organization’s efforts, and state government should not be participating in them.” 

In addition to the $300,000 monetary settlement, South Dakota Department of Health Secretary Melissa Magstadt was forced to formally apologize to Transformation Project Executive Director Susan Williams and to Community Healthcare Worker Fonder.

Williams responded, “To put it simply, the government cancelled our contract because of the very population we serve – the transgender community.”

Fonder put out a statement that read in part, “I assumed the role of [Community Healthcare Worker] with the intention of providing trans people in our community with the resources they require to succeed in this state, little realizing that doing so would result in my own outing as a trans man for standing up for what is right. We promise to keep up the battle for transgender rights [in South Dakota] and to make sure they have access to the resources they require.”

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