“Nurse Pimento” uncovers even more hidden Hollywood queerness from Eydie Gorme, Danny Kaye, Sandy Dennis and George Segal, Noel Coward, and Bessie Smith and her niece Ruby!
A Rainbow Minute wanders through the whimsical world of Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales!
Over 100 busted in Kampala queer bar raid, riot police protect gay film premier in Tbilisi, Hong Kong Pride rallies despite parade ban, gay Malaysian men sentenced to canings and prison, drag reporter crashes Trump impeachment hearings, and more international LGBTQ news!
Stranger Than Straight II!
Program #1,651 distributed 11/18/19
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Dozens of men face serious jail time in Uganda following the latest anti-queer raid on a Kampala gay venue riot police battle homophobic religious and rightwing protesters at the premier in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, of the acclaimed gay-themed Georgian-Swedish co-production And Then We Danced Hong Kong police issue a last-minute ban on this year’s annual LGBTQ Pride Parade because of ongoing civil unrest several gay Malaysian men are sentenced by a Kuala Lumpur Islamic court to canings, fines, and jail time for “attempted sex against the order of nature” and global cameras catch colorful New Jersey drag queen Pissi Myles making a big splash on the first day of the impeachment hearings on U.S. President Donald J. Trump (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by ROB LECRONE and MARLENA BOND, and produced this week by MARLENA BOND and BRIAN DESHAZOR) + Hong Kong Pride Rally Update (reported by GREG GORDON).
Feature: It takes more than a Rainbow Minute to chronicle Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by MIKE HINERMAN).
Feature: Following in the footsteps of the legendary U.S. D.J. Dr. Demento, the late LGBTQ radio producer and activist DAVID FRADKIN took on the persona of “Nurse Pimento” to seek out the queer not-always-so-vagaries of popular culture. We pulled his classic “Stranger Than Straight” feature out of the vault last week. And like all such golden oldies, it has a sequel that David liked to call Stranger Than Stranger Than Straight! (includes a brief musical snippet by Eydie Gormé; an obscure song of uncertain origin called The Fairy Pipers by musical comedy star Danny Kaye; the poignant self-aware words of Holocaust teen diarist Anne Frank; a witty ditty about a “marvelous party” he attended by the ever-so-sophisticated Noel Coward; a “danceable” Sandy Dennis/George Segal moment from the film version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf; and Bessie Smith singing about, and her niece Ruby Smith talking with CHRIS ALBERTSON about, an especially entertaining Buffet Flat).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending November 16, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Rob Lecrone and Marlena Bond, produced this week by Marlena Bond and Brian DeShazor
The arrest of almost 130 people in a bar raid this week marked a new high in the ongoing oppression of LGBTQ people in Uganda. Armed police officers entered Kampala’s Ram Bar early in the morning of November 11th and took people into custody for “causing a public nuisance,” and for smoking an illegal substance called Shisha – that’s a common recreational vaporized mixture of tobacco often combined with other flavors and ingredients. The bar patrons were herded into the street, into the glare of TV cameras and newspaper photographers. They were then taken to a maximum-security prison.
The Ram Bar is a rare but well-known welcoming venue for LGBTQ people to party in the Ugandan capital and feel relatively safe on Sunday nights. Police authorities claim to have been unaware of the clientele. They say they were simply enforcing the east African nation’s Tobacco Control Act, which outlaws smoking with a Shisha water pipe.
LGBTQ activists say it’s simply the latest anti-queer action by Ugandan authorities. Activist Raymond Karuhanga told Reuters that, “They just want to silence us as a community.” Frank Mugisha of the advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda told The Voice of America he thinks “… it’s totally aimed at intimidation of the LGBT community.” In a press release from the queer rights group Outright Action International, activist Kasha Jacqueline charged Ugandan authorities with inventing new ways to harass the community.
Jacqueline said, “Using trumped-up drug charges is a new and frightening tactic; one which is really hard to tackle and will make our battle even tougher.”
Sixty-seven of the Ram Bar arrestees were formally charged later in the week. Activist/attorney Patricia Kimera says that they face up to a year in prison. The remaining detainees were determined to not have been illegally smoking Shisa and were released.
The Ram Bar raid comes less than a month after Kampala police raided a gay men’s HIV/AIDS education group that had gathered in a hotel. 16 men were charged with “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and forced to undergo painful anal exams. That’s a medically discredited method to supposedly confirm gay sexual activity. Global human rights groups call it “torture.” The punishment in Uganda for private, consensual adult gay sex can be up to life in prison.
This latest assault on the human rights of LGBTQ Ugandans comes after months of on-again, off-again reports that the country’s infamous “Kill the Gays Bill” was going to be re-introduced in Parliament. The original 2014 version of the bill carried the death sentence for “aggravated homosexuality.” It was only struck down on a legal technicality. Activists believe its rumored return is in part responsible for at least four brutal murders of people who were perceived to be LGBTQ.
It was a much different story this week in the Eastern European nation of Georgia. Riot police clashed with hundreds of far-right nationalists and cross-carrying conservative churchgoers outside a Tbilisi movie theater at the premier of a gay-themed film. And Then We Danced is a Georgian-Swedish co-production, filmed “guerilla style” entirely in the former Soviet republic. It’s described as a coming of age gay romance between two young male Georgian ballet dancers. Leaders of the Orthodox Church and rightwing groups condemned the film well ahead of its premier as “sinful” and “gay propaganda.”
And Then We Danced received much acclaim at Cannes in May, and has won awards at several film festivals around the world, including Chicago, Sarajevo, and Odessa. Sweden has already named it as its official entry for next year’s Oscars.
Tickets to the limited run in Tbilisi and other Georgian cities sold out quickly. Several anti-queer protesters tried to force their way into the theater in Tbilisi on November 8th. Others set fire to a rainbow flag and threw firecrackers and smoke bombs around the entrance. Two police officers were hurt in several skirmishes with the protesters. A young journalist was also injured. Police reportedly arrested up to 25 protesters for hooliganism and disobeying police orders.
Even though gay sex is not illegal in Georgia, societal taboos keep many LGBTQ people in the closet. Levan Akin is the 39-year old writer and director of And Then We Danced.” Born in Sweden to Georgian parents, Akin posted on Facebook that, “It is absurd that people who bought tickets need to be brave and risk getting harassed or even assaulted just for going to see a film.”
The organizers of Hong Kong’s annual LGBTQ Pride Parade were denied the right to march at the last minute — this as often-violent street protests over government suppression there continue. Organizer Yeo Wai-wai told the South China Morning Post that, “The police have been clamping down on freedom. Sexual minorities are no exception.” Yeo said that this was the first time since the first Hong Kong Pride Parade was held in 2008 that police have banned the event. A crowd of 12,000 people saw Hong Kong politicians and foreign delegations march with drag performers and other costumed celebrants at last year’s colorful Parade.
Organizers this year were only told on November 14th that their November 16th event would be limited to a rally at Edinburgh Place in the city center, where the parade was supposed to end after kicking off at Victoria Park. A police ban on street protesters wearing masks will also impede Pride. It’s not uncommon for closeted participants to wear masks to conceal their identities, so they won’t be able to participate, even if it’s just a static rally.
Hong Kong’s only openly gay lawmaker is Raymond Chan Chi-chuen. He says that banning the always peaceful and inclusive Pride Parade has nothing to do with the current political unrest. Chan asked, “Does this mean the city will no longer have any marches now?”
Five men were caned for consensual adult gay sex in Malaysia. An Islamic court near Kuala Lumpur sentenced four of them to six strokes of the cane and seven to another for “attempting intercourse against the order of nature.” The four men will also spend six months in jail, and pay a fine equivalent to about 1200 U.S. dollars. The fifth man will pay almost two thousand dollars, and go to jail for seven months. According to local news outlets, sentencing for five other men arrested in the same November 2018 apartment raid near the capital will be on November 19th.
It’s double jeopardy for consensual adult same-gender sex in Muslim-majority Malaysia. Muslims can be punished by both Islamic and secular courts for illicit sexual acts. Canings are a regular form of punishment under Islamic law.
Two women were arrested last year and also found guilty of “attempted sex.” Each suffered 6 strokes of the cane in a public courtroom. A queer-popular nightclub in Kuala Lumpur was also raided last year, with detainees forced to undergo what was cryptically described as “counseling.”
An Amnesty International media statement said that, “People should not live in fear because of who they are [and] who they love.”
Finally, where would you not expect to see a big drag queen wearing a huge blond wig and a red vinyl mini-dress? At the first day of open U.S. House hearings on the impeachment of Donald Trump. The U.S. president is being investigated for a number of offenses. Chief among them in this round is his allegedly withholding Congressionally-mandated military aid from Ukraine. Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine’s new president to announce an investigation into widely debunked corruption allegations against Trump political rival Joe Biden and his son.
Pissi Myles was sent to cover the impeachment proceedings for a start-up news app called Happs. According to the Asbury Park, New Jersey performer’s bio, Miz Myles is an award-winning drag performer and comedy producer who makes regular appearances at New York City gay bars. She has also been featured on RuPaul’s What’s the T podcast. Myles’ husband and business partner David Ayllon told NBC News that Happs was, “looking for a comedian who could improv on the spot and deliver the news in a fun way.” NBC News correspondent Heidi Przybyla tweeted, “Someone did ask me last night if there’s anything in D.C. that surprises me anymore.”
C-SPAN televised Myles going through Capitol Hill security as a guard waved a metal detector wand around her sizable bouffant. It cannot be denied that she stood out among the mostly dark gray and blue-suited Congressional male staff, Myles told The New York Post that, “I did not think I would be the most interesting thing here today!”
HK Pride Rally “this just in”:
Organizers say about 6500 would-be Pride marchers gathered for a rally in Hong Kong on November 16th after the cancelation of their annual Parade. Six months of anti-government protests led police to ban the march two days before it was scheduled to step off. The on-going unrest and the outlawing of masks cut the usual number of Pride participants in half. LGBTQ activists are taking part in the pro-democracy demonstrations, while the police response is becoming more and more violent. The world is watching.
© 2019 Overnight Productions (Inc.)
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