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This Way Out Radio Episode #1887: San Francisco’s White Night Uprising

Forty-five years ago the shocking verdict in the murder of gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and ally Mayor George Moscone sent the queer community and its journalists into the streets, where they were destined for a historic confrontation with police.

Dr. Tanya D. Zuk of the Department of Media Arts at the University of North Texas reflects on the significance of White Night.

And in NewsWrap: the death of transgender Argentinian Sofia Fernández in police custody originally called a suicide is now a case of murder by asphyxiation with 10 officers under arrest, the U.S. Supreme Court declines the case of religious parents who object to their Maryland school district’s support for trans and gender-nonconforming students, Colorado’s Republican Party accuses Democrats of attempting “to turn more kids trans” and urges parents to take their children out of public school, Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry is expected to sign a “don’t say gay” bill, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signs a ban on banning books for ideological reasons, Asher HaVon becomes the first queer winner on "The Voice,” and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Kalyn Hardman and Marco Najera (produced by Brian DeShazor).


Complete Program Summary
for the week of May 27, 2024

San Francisco’s White Night Uprising

Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Ten police officers in Argentina — including a second lieutenant and two sergeants — are charged with the brutal torture/murder in her jail cell of transgender female inmate Sofia Fernбndez … the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear an appeal from parents who challenged the trans student-supportive policies of the Montgomery County, Maryland school system … Colorado’s Republican Party tells parents to remove their children from the state’s public schools to foil the Democrats’ plan to “turn more kids trans” … Louisiana Republican lawmakers approve and send to the Republican governor for his expected signature the state’s own “Don’t Say Gay” bill banning any discussion in classrooms, and in school sports and other extracurricular activities of sexual orientation or gender identity … Minnesota’s Democratic governor signs a bill into law that bans state librarians from removing material from their shelves “based solely on the viewpoint, content, message, idea, or opinion conveyed” — most specifically queer-supportive/inclusive content … in its 25th season, NBC-TV’s The Voice finally crowns its first proudly out queer winner: Asher HaVon, coached by queer ally Reba McEntire [with a brief excerpt from his finale performance of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You and quickie comments to Entertainment Tonight] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR, and reported this week by KALYN HARDMAN and MARCOS NAJERA).

Feature: Forth-five years ago — on May 21st and 22nd, 1979 — San Francisco erupted in violence, ignited by political assassinations and the failure of the justice system to provide fair punishment.  In November 1978, openly gay City and County Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were murdered by a disgruntled former supervisor.  Dan White had been a fire fighter and a cop, and he had represented the city’s dwindling socially conservative minority.  Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in California, and only the second out candidate to win political office in the United States. When the verdict in the killer’s case was announced, it was too much for the community to bear (includes archival news reports about and reaction to the lenient sentence by Gene Parish/NPR, Mike Hodel/Pacifica Radio, Emily Clark/Pacifica Radio, Aileen Alfandary/Pacifica Radio and David Hosley/KNX News Radio-Los Angeles; on-scene coverage of the demonstration and police riot at City Hall, and the subsequent bloody invasion by cops into the gay Castro neighborhood by members of the Fresh Fruit Collective/KPFA-Berkeley and Steve O’Neill and Ravenshead Communications; 2024 reflections on the events by queer indie media lecturer DR. TANYA D. ZUK from the University of North Texas; music by SCOTT McKENZIE, THE TOM ROBINSON BAND, and TRIUMPH).


A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending May 251h, 2024
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by David Hunt and John Dyer V,
produced by Brian DeShazor

    The death of transgender Argentinian Sofia Fernández in police custody originally called a suicide is now a case of murder by asphyxiation.  An autopsy revealed signs of torture, and her own thong and a piece of mattress had been jammed down her throat. Ten officers are under arrest.

Fernandez was a 39-year-old former linguistics professor who was studying to be a nurse. She was detained when a neighbor accused her of robbery and assault, and found dead in a cell on April 11th 2023.   The investigation went nowhere for more than a year until prosecutor Gonzalo Agüero was removed for his lack of progress. The Fernández family charged that he was refusing to cooperate with them in the case.

Five police offices including a second lieutenant and two sergeants were arrested on May 1st, charged with anti-trans hate-based murder according to local reports. Five more are accused of helping them cover it up.

The revived investigation is still in its early stages. It will probably be sometime next year before the accused cops go on trial.

    The United States Supreme Court took a pass on the case of religious parents who object to their Maryland school district’s support for trans and gender-nonconforming students.  Montgomery County Public Schools’ stated policy is to “ensure a safe and respectful school environment,” where staff are not authorized to involuntarily out a student to their parents or legal guardians. A judge on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the parents’ lawsuit last August because none of their children were trans or gender-nonconforming. The high court’s May 20th refusal to hear the challenge came without explanation.

Montgomery County schools’ queer-positive standards may soon face another round in the Supreme Court. Earlier this month, a coterie of Christian, Jewish and Muslim parents saw their bid to keep their children out of classes with LGBTQ-related content rejected by the same Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Those plaintiffs also vowed to continue up the federal appeal ladder.

    The Republican Party of Colorado is urging parents to take their children out of public school because Democrats are attempting “to turn more kids trans.” Yes, that’s what Colorado Republican Director of Special Initiatives Darcy Schoening really charges in her emailed “action alert” to party members this week.

Schoening laments a bill that supports students’ right to be addressed by their chosen names and pronouns.  It was passed by the legislature’s Democratic majority and signed by out Democratic Governor Jared Polis. The email says that such pronouns “do not make any sense and cause gender confusion.”

Two of the bill’s sponsors, in Schoening’s words, “do not know their own genders and do not have children.” She’s derisively referring to out Representative Stephanie Vigil and the state’s first transgender lawmaker, Brianna Titone.

Schoening raved on, “If your child decides he identifies as a girl because he is angry with you, or all of his friends are doing it, the Colorado government will actively encourage his new fetish by allowing him to identify as ‘she,’ ‘they,’ or whatever nonsensical terms your son’s teachers and peers may dream up…all without notifying you of your child’s disturbing behavior, which should be treated rather than encouraged.”

Before her position with the Colorado Republican Party, Schoening led the El Paso County Chapter of Moms for Liberty, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a far-right anti-queer extremist group. She’s also been a proponent of the myth that Colorado schools are teeming with “furries,” children who identify as animals.

    It will soon be illegal to “say gay” in Louisiana schools.  The Republican-dominated state legislature passed a measure to prohibit virtually any classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity. The ban covers elementary through high school, and it extends to sports and extracurricular activities.  That means it could even spell the end of campus groups like Gay/Straight Alliances. Republican Governor Jeff Landry is expected to sign the bill into law.

Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards vetoed a similar proposal that sailed through the state legislature last year. There were insufficient votes to override him.

Representative Dodie Horton was one of the bill’s sponsors. She argued, “Having sexualized personal discussions between educators and students in our classrooms are not appropriate, and they can rob our children of their innocence while imposing suggested influence over their developing young minds.”

A statement by the Human Rights Campaign said in response, “There is absolutely nothing inappropriate about being LGBTQ+ or in acknowledging LGBTQ+ issues and people.”

    Banning books based on ideological content in Minnesota libraries is now against the law.  Democratic Governor Tim Walz signed a bill last week that prevents library personnel from refusing or removing any book “based solely on the viewpoint, content, message, idea, or opinion conveyed.”  Books with supportive LGBTQ+ content have been the favorite target of book-banners across the U.S.

The measure requires library content to be curated by “a licensed library media specialist, an individual with a master’s degree in library sciences or library and information sciences, or a professional librarian or person with extensive library collection management experience."

After he signed the bill Walz tweeted, "Censorship has no place in our libraries. As a former teacher, I’m clear: We need to remember our history, not erase it."

    Finally, after 25 seasons NBC’s popular singing competition The Voice has its first out queer winner.

[SOUND: HaVon singing I Will Always Love You]

Asher HaVon’s victory was celebrated by ally and coach Reba McEntire, who said, “Look how Asher is dressed … Every time you got on stage you looked regal.  I am so proud of [you].” It was also McEntire’s first win since she joined the show last season.

HaVon responded, “My heart was filled with so much gratitude, and to look at Reba and to see her excitement, it was everything.”

He gushed on Instagram, “Thank you to Mama @Reba.  You have changed my life and created a milestone in my life that I will have forever. I am your son for life.”

HaVon told Entertainment Tonight [SOUND]:

ET’s Cassie DiLaura: You have made history on this show as the first LGBTQ+ community member. How does that make you feel?

HaVon: I am so proud to be a part of their community, and I just pray that everything that I’ve done on this show have inspired them all that they can do the same thing. So thank y’all so much.

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