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This Way Out Radio Episode #1889: Pride is Political

Laws are being passed — and thugs are being deployed — attempting to shut down drag shows around the world. That’s the news making the headlines, but the backstage news is that drag performers are organizing in protest to protect their art. Qommittee Board President Blaq Dinamyte also talks about being a king in a predominantly drag queen world. (Part Two of a four-part Pride Month series produced by Daniel Huecias.)

And in NewsWrap: Sao Paulo, Brazil’s LGBTQ Pride celebration brings hundreds of thousands of people to downtown for what may be the largest of its kind in the world, the 25th Seoul Queer Culture Festival is capped by a Parade despite government obstruction, Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin wears a rainbow shirt to join more than 200,000 celebrating LGBTQ Pride in Bangkok, queer-supportive former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum becomes the country’s first woman and first Jewish president, a Missouri trans man wins 4.7 million dollars in damages for being denied access to school bathrooms and changing rooms that matched his gender identity, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sets the Guinness World Record for the largest-ever drag queen story time, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by John Dyer V and Sarah Montague (produced by Brian DeShazor).

All this on the June 10, 2024 edition of This Way Out!

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Complete Program Summary
for the week of June 10 2024

Pride Is Political

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): São Paulo, Brazil hosts what organizers claim to be the largest Pride Parade in the world … an estimated 150,000 people defy local government efforts to stifle Pride in Seoul, South Korea … Thailand’s Prime Minister participates for the first time in Bangkok Pride ahead of the expected passage of a marriage equality bill … pro-queer Claudia Sheinbaum becomes the first woman and the first Jew to be elected President in Mexico … a Missouri trans man wins 4.7 million dollars in damages in a decade-long discrimination lawsuit against a Kansas City school district for denying him access to campus bathrooms and changing rooms that matched his gender identity … Philadelphia, Pennsylvania kicks off its own Pride celebration as 263 parents and kids set the Guinness World Record for most people at a drag queen story time [Guinness official Michael Empric announces the count] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR with technical assistance by DANIEL HUECIAS, reported this week by JOHN DYER V and SARAH MONTAGUE).

Feature: Pride Is Political: Drag has been under attack for the past several years. In response to the politicized hate targeting the art form, Qommittee (pronounced “committee”), a coalition of drag artists, has launched a national effort to protect performers from hate. This Way Out’s DANIEL HUECIAS speaks with the president of Qommittee's board, DC-based drag artist Blaq Dinamyte [with music from Bouncy-Spongy and Sinking by KETSA, and a preview of next week’s “Pride Is A Party” featuring Caroline Kingsbury (with an excerpt from Our House)].


A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending June 8th, 2024
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by John Dyer V and Sarah Montague,
produced by Brian DeShazor with technical assistance by Daniel Huecias.

    The organizers of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s LGBTQ Pride celebration say it’s the largest in the world, and they may be right.

Seen from above, the city’s central downtown area was overflowing with hundreds of thousands of people on June 2nd.

[SOUND - crowd]

Aerial photographs show a massive rainbow flag weaving its way down Sao Paulo’s major thoroughfare hoisted by hundreds of marchers.

Colorful floats, booming dance music and fabulously dressed rainbow-flag-waving revelers highlighted the theme, “All forms of loving, all forms of being.”

Yellow and green were the primary colors of the day.  Pride-goers were urged to reclaim Brazil’s national colors from the misogynistic, racist, anti-science, anti-queer supporters of far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro.  Transgender Brazilian Congress member Erika Hilton told the joyful Pride crowd, “We will march this afternoon to take back our flag and to show that Brazil will be better, it will be queer, butch, transvestite.”

Brazil’s generally queer-welcoming reputation is just one side of the coin. Just days before the Sao Paulo Pride celebration, far-right Christian evangelical parties in Congress shoved through a bill to ban the use of government funds to underwrite efforts that oppose “traditional family values.”

In 2023 the group Transgender Europe ranked Brazil the country with the most murders of trans and gender-diverse people for the 16th consecutive year.  Last year alone, Agence France Presse says 145 trans people were killed there.

[SOUND - crowd]

    Defying local authorities, a record crowd of some 150,000 celebrated Pride in Seoul, South Korea on June 1st. Seoul’s certifiably anti-queer mayor and the municipal government banned the customary use of Seoul Plaza for the event this year.  Organizers say the use of other government-run venues like the Seoul Museum of History was also blocked. Officials claimed they wanted to avoid “causing social conflict.”

Pride-goers ignored the minor “social conflict” created by a handful of rightwing Christian counter-protesters with signs declaring “No Same-sex Marriage!” and “The country built with blood and sweat is collapsing due to homosexuality.”

Despite the difficulties, the Parade that highlighted the 25th Seoul Queer Culture Festival took over the Euljiro, a major downtown area.  Revelers carried massive rainbow flags. Sixty-one festival booths featured queer rights groups, global corporations, university and high school student groups, liberated religious organizations and foreign embassies.  The groups Marriage for All and Amnesty International led six other colorfully decorated trucks in the Parade. Thousands of rainbow-clad marchers danced and chanted for “Marriage Equality Right Now!”

[SOUND - crowd]

    Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin joined other government officials and a crowd of more than 200,000 celebrating LGBTQ Pride in Bangkok on June 1st.  Clad in a rainbow-colored shirt, Thavisin is the first Thai Prime Minister to speak at the pre-parade rally and participate in the march.  Thavisin and his party had made queer rights a campaign promise, targeting marriage equality in particular.

Marching under the theme “Celebration of Love,” celebrants were especially giddy because a government-endorsed marriage equality bill is now expected to become law.

The procession filled one side of a major Bangkok thoroughfare in the city’s busiest commercial district.  Foreign embassies, local and national businesses and organizations, and multi-national corporations had parade entries. Festive floats blasted dance music, drag queens strutted, drummers drummed, and rainbow flags waved.

The Thai Senate is likely to approve the marriage equality bill later this month, then it needs final royal endorsement. That would make Thailand the third Asian country to open civil marriage to same-gender couples, behind Taiwan and Nepal. It would be the first in Southeast Asia.

     Voters in Mexico made history this week with the election of the country’s first woman and first Jewish president.  Liberal former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum defeated a right-leaning female candidate in a landslide vote on June 2nd.

Sheinbaum’s platform called for “absolute respect for diverse gender identities,” and “public policies … to eradicate hate crimes and violence against LGBTIQ+ communities because of gender and sexual orientation.” She proclaimed, “Without diversity there is no democracy.”

    A Missouri trans man was awarded 4.7 million dollars in damages for being denied access to school bathrooms and changing rooms that matched his gender identity. The lawsuit has been raging for ten long years.

The plaintiff is identified in court documents as “RMA.” He asked to use the boys’ facilities after he had the gender marker on his birth certificate updated in 2014.

RMA played on the boys’ football and track teams. He said that he was forced to use a “separate, single person, unisex bathroom outside of the boys’ locker room.”  The stigma soon overtook his competitive spirt and he stopped competing entirely.

A jury originally awarded RMA the 4.7-million-dollars in 2021, but the Blue Springs School District in Kansas City, Missouri appealed.

State Appeals Court Judge Anthony Gabbert upheld that original decision on June 4th.

Gabbert noted that the district had “not actually determin[ed] the nature of ‘RMA’s genitalia,” and “does not speculate, inspect or otherwise inquire as to the genitalia of other male students.” That, he said, constitutes discrimination.


    Finally, a drag queen story time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania set the Guinness World Record for the largest-ever attendance at such an event.

Rather than in a library or bookstore, the city’s venerable Philadelphia Gay News teamed with the tourism-promoting Visit Philadelphia to hold the historic event at the National Constitution Center. It was the June 1st kick off for the city’s Pride Month.

Drag performer Brittany Lynn heads the city’s award-winning Philly Drag Mafia and served as emcee.  Lynn read Hello, Philadelphia! by Martha Day Zschock.  Miss Aurora read ’Twas the Night Before Pride, written by Joanna McClintick and illustrated by Juana Medina.  Icon Ebony Fierce read Elmer by David McKee.  Athena Chanteuse read The Family Book by Todd Parr. Morgan read Kevin the Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows by Jessika von Innerebner.

Drag queen story times have increasingly been targeted by far-right groups. The insurrectionist Proud Boys in the U.S. and similar groups in the U.K., Australia and elsewhere have threatened actual violence against performers and venues. They show no regard for the safety or wellbeing of the parents in attendance, let alone the children they claim to be “protecting.”

Guinness officials set the bar and were on hand in Philadelphia to count the crowd of 263 parents and kids.

[SOUND - Michael Empric, Guinness]

Empric: So today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., you had 263 …

(Crowd cheers)

Guinness credits H&M, the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and Gayletter with hosting the most people attending a drag brunch in June 2023. Four hundred and twelve people were present for that Pride event in Brooklyn, New York.

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