Unions Stated & “Art Damage”

Pose star Billy Porter snaps at Trump’s State of the Union (and we acknowledge Democratic SOTU respondent Stacey Abrams)!

Devin Tait’s Valentine’s Day gift, Anyone Can Break Somebody’s Heart featuring a nothing-to-laugh-at diva performance by LGBT comedy queen Wendy Ho, tops his new synth-pop album, Art Damage (interviewed by Matty McLaughlin)!

Poland’s gay pol Springs into action, a bill to protect trans military service members is promoted in the U.S. Congress, sex law repeal unmasks Mumbai Pride, Brazilian distributor disappears Boy Erased, kids with queer parents fair better in two new studies, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of February 11, 2019

Unions Stated & Art Damage!

Program #1,611 distributed 02/11/19

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Poland’s first openly gay politician, Robert Biedron, uses a rally of thousands in Warsaw to launch a new progressive political party, Spring, to challenge the entrenched far-right Law and Justice Party a rare bi-partisan bill is introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress to protect current and future transgender military service members from Donald Trump’s proposed ban a top officer in the California National Guard tells trans troops that “nobody’s going to kick you out”  Arkansas’ state Supreme Court refuses to allow Fayetteville’s queer-inclusive anti-bias city ordinance to take effect while the constitutionality of a state law forbidding it is challenged LGBTQ people and their allies in Mumbai, the most populous city in India, celebrate at their first LGBTQ Pride Parade since the nation’s Supreme Court overturned the onerous Penal Code Section 377, the colonial-era statute that criminalized consensual adult same-gender sex the previously-planned release in Brazil of Boy Erased, the acclaimed U.S. film drama that takes a critical look at so-called gay “conversion therapy,” is reversed by its distributor, though a statement implies that the decision was not influenced by the recent election of “proud homophobe” President Jair Bolsonaro Bolsonaro’s administration also reportedly announces its plans to delete all references to feminism and same-gender love in Brazilian textbooks, and to militarize public schools two new studies, one out of Belgium tracking queer and hetero Dutch families, and another in Canada specifically studying gay dads, suggest that children raised by lesbian and gay couples do better in school than kids raised in “traditional” father and mother-headed households (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by JOHN DYER V and SARAH SWEENEY).

Feature: A brief and lofty promise to end HIV/AIDS in the U.S. in ten years was the closest U.S. President Donald Trump came to saying anything about the LGBTQ community in his February 5th State of the Union address. The only official mention of specifically queer concerns on State of the Union night came from Democratic respondent Stacey Abrams, the former state legislator who made an impressive run for governor of Georgia. What the official speeches lacked was made up for – and then some – by Pose star Billy Porter in his own State Of The Queer Union address!

Feature: You supply the chocolates, and we’ll supply the hot-off-the-presses queer love song, Anyone Can Break Somebody’s Heart, by L.A.-based synth pop singer-songwriter Devin Tait, joined by singer-rapper-comedy queen Wendy Ho. Our MATTY McLAUGHLIN previews cuts from Tait’s new Art Damage album and chats with the performer about his musical journeys to date.

NewsWrap

A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending February 9, 2019
Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor,
reported this week by John Dyer V and Sarah Sweeney

The legal recognition of same-gender couples, equal pay for women, better access to reproductive rights, including abortion, and universal old age pensions: that’s on the agenda of a new progressive political party in Poland called Spring. Spring is led by Robert Biedron, the country’s first out politician. He describes himself on his website as a person who is “often swimming against the tide,” one who can “unite” people.

The 42-year-old former Mayor of Slupsk and Member of Parliament wants to challenge the governing right-wing Law and Justice Party in both domestic and European Union elections this year. Charging that both sides of the political divide in Poland have “let us down,” Biedron told a rally of several thousand people in Warsaw this week that, “We need a spring that will renew this gloomy landscape.” He’s also taking on the country’s politically powerful Roman Catholic Church, promising to reduce their influence on how Poland is governed.

Biedron’s previous political affiliations include the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland Party and the Democratic Left Alliance. He helped launch the country’s Campaign Against Homophobia in 2001. On his website Biedron promised to “always be myself… I am a politician who loves Poland,” he wrote, and said that he is “focused on the sustainable development of a modern honest state that provides equal opportunities for all, supports education and culture, [and] ensures security.”

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives has introduced a bill in both chambers to protect currently serving transgender service members from Donald Trump, and to continue to allow qualified trans people to enlist in the U.S. armed forces. It’s obviously a direct challenge to the president’s effort to ban their enlistment, and to discharge honorably serving trans personnel, and comes just a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted most of the court injunctions preventing the trans ban from taking effect. However, without explanation, the Justices allowed one injunction to remain. The Trump administration is expected to challenge that final barrier to implementation of the ban in a Maryland federal court.

The sponsors in the Senate include Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Republican Susan Collins of Maine. Sponsors in the House include Democrat Jackie Speier [SPEER] of California, joined by Massachusetts Democrat Joseph Kennedy, New York Republican John Katko, California Democrat Susan Davis, and Maryland Democrat Anthony Brown. “Our transgender servicemembers put their lives on the line every day despite an ill-advised edict from the president,” said Speier in a press release.

A Gillibrand press release called Trump’s efforts “an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military.

Meanwhile, Major General Matthew Beevers of the California National Guard is also publicly challenging Trump’s proposed ban. He told qualified transgender troops through remarks to a state legislative committee this week that “As long as you fight, we don’t care what gender you identify as,” adding that “Nobody’s going to kick you out.”

But the Arkansas state Supreme Court has ruled that the city of Fayetteville cannot enforce its LGBTQ-inclusive anti-bias ordinance. The city wanted the ordinance to take effect while it challenges the constitutionality of an Arkansas statute that prevents local jurisdictions from enacting any anti-discrimination protections that are not also embedded in state law. There are no anti-bias protections for LGBTQ people in Arkansas. A lower court had allowed the ordinance to remain in effect until the constitutionality issue has been resolved.

Fayetteville is a college town, a relatively progressive oasis in the state. The LGBTQ-inclusive ordinance passed by the City Council in 2015 was subsequently challenged, and then ultimately ratified by the voters.

The state’s highest court ruled in 2017 that the Fayetteville measure violated Arkansas law. However, the late January high court decision simply reaffirmed the 2017 ruling and left open the question of the law’s constitutionality. Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams told the Associated Press that he will ask the high court to reconsider its ruling. “It seems very strange,” he said, “that they would deny us the right to at least present that constitutional argument to them for their decision.”

LGBTQ people and their allies in Mumbai have celebrated their first Pride since India’s Supreme Court overturned the onerous Penal Code Section 377, the colonial-era criminalization of adult queer sex.

A record crowd, estimated at about 15,000 people, danced down the streets in the joyous and colorful procession. Mumbai is India’s most populous city.

Parade co-organizer Ankit Bhuptani told Gay Star News that it was the first time in a Mumbai Pride parade where “no one was wearing masks.” The new freedom also encouraged first-time parade entries by professional associations ranging from medical to educational, plus contingents representing national and multi-national companies. “Three or four years ago … there were people shouting at us that homosexuals are going to hell,” Bhuptani said. There were no anti-queer protesters along the parade route this year.

A record number of people participated in the first “post-377” Pride Parade last November in Dehli.

Next on the agenda of India’s LGBTQ community: national anti-discrimination laws, full recognition of the rights of transgender and intersex people, and marriage equality.

The fall-out from the election of a far-right “proud homophobe” to the presidency of Brazil continues. Jair Bolsonaro used an anti-corruption platform to win election, despite his frequent blatantly racist, sexist and homophobic public remarks. Bolsonaro once said that he’d prefer a dead son to a gay son. Anti-queer violence has sharply escalated since the election.

The critically acclaimed U.S. film Boy Erased had been scheduled for release across Brazil in January and February. LGBTQ activists were excited about a movie taking a sharp look at so-called gay “conversion therapy,” but were disappointed by a statement released this week that distributor Universal Pictures would not be releasing Boy Erased after all. The statement claimed that the cancellation was “solely and exclusively for commercial reasons based on the cost of the launch campaign compared to the estimated box office sales.”

Queer “conversion therapy” does big business in Brazil –something the Bolsonaro regime most likely supports, if only tacitly. Brazilian activist Leandro Ramos told Reuters that the distributor’s decision is “a little irresponsible… particularly in a country like Brazil, where conversion therapy is still such an epidemic … and in a moment when you have an openly anti-LGBT administration in place.”

Universal Pictures said the film, starring Nicole Kidman and featuring out singer Troye Sivan, will be released for home viewing – though it didn’t say when.

Meanwhile, in a late-breaking story this week, the Associated Press is reporting that the Bolsonaro administration is planning to remove all references to feminism, violence against women, and same-gender attraction in school textbooks across Brazil. The scheme would also have the military take over some public schools. The president of one of the country’s largest teachers’ unions, Nilton Brandao, said that, “We are still waiting to see how, in practice, all this is going to turn out … Right now, it does not make any sense.”

And finally, two different studies of queer parents released this week revealed the “homo superiority” of children raised by same-gender couples.

One study by Belgian economists used government tracking data of children born in the Netherlands between 1995 and 2005. It found that kids raised by same-gender parents had higher test scores in elementary and secondary school, and were about seven percent more likely to graduate from high school than children raised by the “traditional” mother and father.

The study followed 1,200 children who were being raised by queer couples, and more than a million kids raised by heterosexual couples. The Netherlands was chosen by the researchers because it has a long history of support for LGBTQ people.

According to the Washington Post, the results announced this week echo a 2014 study in Australia that found children in same-gender-headed households to be generally happier and healthier than their peers. One theory about the difference is that lesbian and gay couples tend to share parenting responsibilities more equally.

Another new study released this week comes from Canada. A researcher at the University of Montreal has found that gay dads make wonderful parents. Éric Feugé observed 46 families, consisting of 92 gay fathers and 46 children between the ages of one and nine over the course of seven years for his doctoral thesis.

Feugé said he wanted to see how the fathers distributed parental work. He found that gay dads tend to share parental responsibilities fairly equally, and are generally more engaged in child rearing than their heterosexual parental counterparts. Feugé also discovered that gay fathers are less encumbered by notions of “masculinity” and “femininity” in parenting roles, and could variously be playmates, caregivers, protectors, role models and morality guides. He said it’s “not a question of sex, even less so of sexual orientation. It’s a question of the roles occupied when caring for a child, and the time spent with the child.”

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