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This Way Out Radio Episode #1874: Everything I Learned, I Learned In A Chinese Restaurant

Curtis Chin’s family owned the famed Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine in Detroit, and growing up gay in the 1980s he discovered a world of diversity in the restaurant’s clientele. He’s interviewed by Dennis Hensley of “Dennis Anyone? A podcast about making things up and making things happen” (

And in NewsWrap: Canada’s terrorism assessment agency says anti-queer groups present an “extreme threat” of violence, Russian security forces step up their “unlawful propaganda” raids on LGBTQ venues, Tennessee allows authorized officials to use their religious beliefs to opt-out of performing same-gender wedding ceremonies, a bill to guarantee marriage equality in Virginia awaits governor’s signature, Montana repeats its unconstitutional rules to prevent trans people from updating their birth certificate gender markers, Washington state LGBTQ and stripper activists ally to repeal “lewd conduct” regulations and improve the entertainers’ working conditions, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Melanie Keller and Allan Tijamo (produced by Lucia Chappelle).

All this on the February 26, 2024 edition of This Way Out!

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Complete Program Summary
for the week of February 26, 2024

Everything I Learned, I Learned In A Chinese Restaurant

Hosted this week Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Canada’s intelligence agency surveys the socio-political situation in the country and warns of the increasing chances of anti-queer violence … the latest raids on queer and queer-friendly venues in Russia’s escalating crackdown on the non-existent “international LGBTQ movement” includes shutting down a My Little Pony convention (one of the characters in the animated children’s show has a rainbow mane) and dragging “feminine-looking men” into the snow and beating them during a security forces invasion of a venue hosting a “gay night” party …  Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Lee signs a bill passed by the Republican-dominated legislature allowing marriage officiants to refuse to wed same-gender couples based on “conscience or religious belief” … Virginia Democrats, concerned about a possible reversal of its marriage equality ruling by the right-leaning Supreme Court, send a bill to further codify marriage equality in the state to Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, who has thus far been noncommittal about signing it … Montana’s Health Department issues a new policy barring trans people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates that is virtually the same as the policy that a federal district court judge declared to be unconstitutional in 2022 … LGBTQ people and their allies join a rally at the Washington state capitol of Olympia in support of a measure to improve working conditions for strippers and other adult entertainers that also includes the end of “lewd conduct” police raids of gay venues that serve alcohol that recently outraged Seattle’s queer community (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and ALLAN TIJAMO, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).


Feature: The U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan became known as “The Motor City” for its automobile industry of mostly white, union workers. It became known as “the city of soul” for the R&B sound of Motown Records. It has a Mexicantown in the southwest. There used to be a Chinatown in what’s known as the Cass Corridor, anchored by the famed restaurant Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine.  In deeply segregated Detroit, for 80 years Chung’s was one of the few places where you could find some of everybody. Curtis Chin’s family owned Chung’s until it closed in 2000, which is why the title of his memoir is Everything I Learned, I Learned In A Chinese Restaurant. Growing up gay and Asian in the 80s, Chin’s world was full of diversity and hope, despite what was sometimes a dangerous environment. He talks about some of the book’s highlights in excerpts from his delightful conversation with DENNIS HENSLEY on the podcast Dennis Anyone?


A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending February 24th, 2024 on
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Melanie Keller and Allan Tijamo,
produced by Brian DeShazor

  Anti-queer groups now pose an “extreme threat” of violence against LGBTQ people in Canada. The Security and Intelligence Service’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Center sounded the alarm in a report obtained this week by the public broadcaster CBC. An escalation of anti-queer rhetoric and threats coming from the leaders of several provincial governments helped lead to that conclusion. The rise of hostile organizations and recent attacks on university gender studies classes were also considered.

The agency is tasked with assessing the threat of terrorism in Canada. It analyzes potentially violent groups’ and people’s intent, their ability to inflict physical violence, and the most likely opportunities for them to act on those impulses.  LGBTQ Pride events, queer nightspots and other public gatherings were specifically mentioned in the report as vulnerable targets.

Anti-LGBTQ narratives, the report says, “remain a common theme in violent rhetoric espoused by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Freedom Movement, and networks such as … QAnon.”  It adds, “Trans and drag communities in Canada have been the target of several online threats and real-world intimidation tactics in recent months.”                                            The most recent numbers from Statistics Canada seem to support the report’s conclusions. Anti-queer hate crimes were reported to the police 265 times in 2019. That number increased a shocking 85 percent in 2022 to 491. It’s commonly understood that far more anti-queer hate crimes go unreported.

The leader of a national consortium of Canadian LGBTQ Pride organizations calls the warnings “disheartening” but not surprising.  Fierté Canada Pride’s Alessandro Iachelli told the CBC, “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t open my computer screen or my television to see something that attacks our community.”  It reminds Iachelli of the 2016 massacre at Orlando, Florida’s Pulse nightclub. He warns, “If anybody thinks that that’s not going to happen in Canada, they better wake up.”

    Raids on queer or queer-supportive gatherings by Russian riot police are now almost routine.  A mid-February My Little Pony fan convention in Moscow was shut down by federal agents who claimed the animated children’s’ TV show “promotes LGBTQ+ propaganda.”  After all, the character “Rainbow Dash” has a rainbow mane!  Organizers dyed her mane with the colors of the Russian flag on their flyers, but that was not enough.

Russian security forces swept into an unofficial “gay night” party this week at the Typography Club in the city of Tula, about a hundred miles south of Moscow. “Feminine looking” customers were dragged out into the snow during the raid and beaten, according to local activists and human rights groups.  Nine patrons were taken into custody and charged with spreading unlawful “LGBTQ+ propaganda.”

St. Petersburg’s popular gay club Central Station is closing its doors. They announced on social media this week that their landlord is refusing to renew their lease.

Another event busted by security forces was described by two Russian broadcasters as an “LGBTQ+ party” for people opposed to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.  Police allegedly found “items with LGBT symbols banned in Russia, suspicious documents and handwritten materials” criticizing the war on February 18th in St. Petersburg. However the

independent Russian media outlet Mediazone cautioned that those reports were coming from broadcasters owned by a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin.

This wave of anti-queer attacks began in November 2023 with a ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court. It declared any representations of what it called the “international LGBTQ movement” to be unlawful “extremism.”

Police began raiding popular queer nightspots in Moscow on December 1st in search of the imaginary conspiracy, and branched out to queer-popular saunas soon thereafter.

    Tennessee is still kicking and screaming about marriage equality. The U.S. state’s Republican Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law on February 21st that lets government-authorized officials refuse to perform same-gender weddings based on their “conscience or religious beliefs.”

State officials are still required to issue marriage licenses to queer couples, but they can opt-out of solemnizing the union.  Tennessee law allows all religious leaders, judges, county clerks, and notary publics to legally officiate a marriage. Other local government officials and legislative members often do so, too.

The measure flew through both houses of the Republican-dominated state legislature on party line votes.

The Human Rights Campaign is suggesting an imminent legal challenge. Spokesperson Molly Whitehorn says the new law is “intended to exclude LGBTQ+ folks from equal protection under the law.”

   Will Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin sign a bill to that codifies marriage equality in his state? It passed the Democratically-controled state legislature by narrow margins in both houses this week.

Democrats argue that the U.S. Supreme Court seems open to overturning what had until then been considered immutable precedent since the overturning of Roe v Wade. The bill’s state Senate sponsor Adam Ebbin and its House of Delegates companion bill sponsor Rozia Henson are both gay men.

They fear that overturning its 2015 Obergefell marriage equality ruling is next. In fact, far-right Justice Samuel Alito called for the high court to reconsider that decision again this week. So has Justice Clarence Thomas.  That could trigger statutes banning it that remain on Virginia’s books, so marriage equality needs to be fully guaranteed.

Governor Youngkin has until April 17th to act on all the legislation that has reached his desk. Then lawmakers reconvene to consider any of his vetoes or proposed amendments.  His office would only tell The Virginia Mercury on February 21st that Youngkin “will review any legislation that comes to his desk.”

    Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services is stuck in a time loop. It announced new guidelines to prevent trans people from updating their birth certificate gender markers that are virtually identical to those that a federal district court judge struck down as unconstitutional in 2022.

An official February 20th statement from the Department argues that the regurgitated guidelines “align with” legislation signed in May 2023 by Republican Governor Greg Gianforte. That law defines “sex” as only male or female based solely on biology.  Critics call it a blatant attempt to legally erase transgender and non-binary identities in the state.

Alex Rate is the Legal Director of the ACLU of Montana.  They brought the original lawsuit that led to the 2022 victory.  He told the Montana Free Press that “We’ll be back in court, no doubt … The new rule runs afoul of the same constitutional provisions, from dignity to privacy to equal protection.”

    Finally, Washington state LGBTQ activists and allies are joining a group of strippers and adult dancers in support of the “Strippers’ Bill of Rights.” The bill would improve the entertainers’ working conditions, and also repeal so-called “lewd conduct” regulations governing establishments that serve liquor.  Those antiquated rules were cited in last month’s unprovoked raids on several queer nightspots in Seattle. Queers and strippers rallied together on February 19th at the state capital in Olympia.

Out Democratic Senate Majority Leader Jamie Pedersen pushed the bill after adding the amendment to dump the “lewd conduct” statutes. It passed in his chamber on February 21st by a vote of 29 to 20.

The measure also establishes a process for strip clubs to secure liquor licenses, which could become a sticking point in the state House.  Speaker Laurie Jenkins says she will not support a bill that includes liquor service in strip clubs.

Strippers are Workers organized the state capitol rally and has been lobbying for the bill. The group insists that those clubs need to serve liquor to increase profit margins in order to prevent widespread closures and many lost jobs. As the strippers took turns pole-dancing in the rain, the demonstrators chanted, “We strip our clothes, not our pay!”

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