Queer Voices

September 27th 2023 Queer Voices

September 27, 2023 Queer Voices
September 27th 2023 Queer Voices
Queer Voices
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Queer Voices
September 27th 2023 Queer Voices
Sep 27, 2023
Queer Voices

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We speak with Chris Bacon about the recent Supreme Court decision allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. Can you imagine a world where businesses are legally allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation? The Supreme Court's recent ruling permitting such discrimination has sent ripples through the global LGBTQ community and beyond. We invite you to sit down with us as we unpack this ruling with Houston attorney Chris Bacon, providing a comprehensive analysis of the 303 Creative LLC versus Elenis case.

Guest:  Chris Bacon
https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/22pdf/21-476_c185.pdf


Our exploration into the 303 Creative case opens up a Pandora's box of potential consequences. With the skilled guidance of our guest Mr. Bacon, we navigate the choppy legal waters to understand the precedents set by West Virginia v. Barnett, discerning its differences with the current case. Discover how this ruling could serve as an open invitation for litigants to refuse goods and services to LGBTQ Americans, posing a stark challenge to the principle of equality. As we delve into these contentious issues, we also weave through Mr. Ingles' personal journey of self-discovery, his decision to pen his life story, and his unique perspective on the significance of the Little House and Prairie Books for the LGBTQIA Plus community.

We speak with Lee Ingalls author of "Ingalls on the Prairie: The Gene and Fern Ingalls Story".  R. Lee Ingalls is part of the famous family Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about in her series of beloved books. Lee describes himself as more of a story teller rather than an author. He often says Laura Ingalls was part of the fabric of America as it was populating and moving westward. Her life and experience didn’t differ much from most living at that time, but the remarkable act was she documented the journey. That is what Lee is doing with his new work. He is continuing the legacy Laura began by telling the life experiences of his parents.

Guest: Lee Ingalls
https://ingallsontheprairie.com/about-the-author-r-lee-ingalls/

Moving from the courts to the theater, we offer a tantalizing glimpse into Charles Busch's new play, Ibsen's Ghost. Unravel the intricacies of the story, the production process, and the creative symbiosis between Charles and the director, Carl. Lastly, we venture onto the global stage, examining the implications of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ equality and rights. We discuss the impact of discriminatory statements from world leaders, celebrate victories like the legal recognition of lesbian mothers, and mourn setbacks like the ban on queer student groups. Join us for a rollercoaster ride through the complex and often challenging world of LGBTQ rights and representation.

Guest: Charles Busch
https://www.charlesbusch.com/

Queer Voices airs in Houston Texas on 90.1FM KPFT and is heard as a podcast here. Queer Voices hopes to entertain as well as illuminate LGBTQ issues in Houston and beyond. Check out our socials at:

https://www.facebook.com/QueerVoicesKPFT/ and
https://www.instagram.com/queervoices90.1kpft/

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

We speak with Chris Bacon about the recent Supreme Court decision allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. Can you imagine a world where businesses are legally allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation? The Supreme Court's recent ruling permitting such discrimination has sent ripples through the global LGBTQ community and beyond. We invite you to sit down with us as we unpack this ruling with Houston attorney Chris Bacon, providing a comprehensive analysis of the 303 Creative LLC versus Elenis case.

Guest:  Chris Bacon
https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/22pdf/21-476_c185.pdf


Our exploration into the 303 Creative case opens up a Pandora's box of potential consequences. With the skilled guidance of our guest Mr. Bacon, we navigate the choppy legal waters to understand the precedents set by West Virginia v. Barnett, discerning its differences with the current case. Discover how this ruling could serve as an open invitation for litigants to refuse goods and services to LGBTQ Americans, posing a stark challenge to the principle of equality. As we delve into these contentious issues, we also weave through Mr. Ingles' personal journey of self-discovery, his decision to pen his life story, and his unique perspective on the significance of the Little House and Prairie Books for the LGBTQIA Plus community.

We speak with Lee Ingalls author of "Ingalls on the Prairie: The Gene and Fern Ingalls Story".  R. Lee Ingalls is part of the famous family Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about in her series of beloved books. Lee describes himself as more of a story teller rather than an author. He often says Laura Ingalls was part of the fabric of America as it was populating and moving westward. Her life and experience didn’t differ much from most living at that time, but the remarkable act was she documented the journey. That is what Lee is doing with his new work. He is continuing the legacy Laura began by telling the life experiences of his parents.

Guest: Lee Ingalls
https://ingallsontheprairie.com/about-the-author-r-lee-ingalls/

Moving from the courts to the theater, we offer a tantalizing glimpse into Charles Busch's new play, Ibsen's Ghost. Unravel the intricacies of the story, the production process, and the creative symbiosis between Charles and the director, Carl. Lastly, we venture onto the global stage, examining the implications of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ equality and rights. We discuss the impact of discriminatory statements from world leaders, celebrate victories like the legal recognition of lesbian mothers, and mourn setbacks like the ban on queer student groups. Join us for a rollercoaster ride through the complex and often challenging world of LGBTQ rights and representation.

Guest: Charles Busch
https://www.charlesbusch.com/

Queer Voices airs in Houston Texas on 90.1FM KPFT and is heard as a podcast here. Queer Voices hopes to entertain as well as illuminate LGBTQ issues in Houston and beyond. Check out our socials at:

https://www.facebook.com/QueerVoicesKPFT/ and
https://www.instagram.com/queervoices90.1kpft/

Glenn Holt:

Hello everybody, this is Queer Voices, a home-produced podcast that has grown out of a radio show that's been on the air in Houston, Texas, for several decades. On June 30th, the Supreme Court issued a decision along party lines which allows businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Andrew Edmondson talks with Houston attorney Chris Bacon about the controversial ruling.

Chris Bacon:

We first started seeing stacks like this back in the 1960s, where public accommodations could not discriminate on the basis of race or sex, and you know so. If you had a hotel, you had to rent to black people. If you had a store or a lunch counter, these were laws to make sure that all public accommodations were available to all and that people were not discriminating on those public accommodations.

Glenn Holt:

Brett Cullum interviews author Arlie Ingles, who is related to that Ingles think little house on the prairie, about two books that Ingles has written on the subject and about growing up gay and alone long before the internet.

Lee Ingalls:

I grew up feeling I was alone in the world, that I was the only one like me, and I didn't find out until I was 19 years old that there was a community that I belonged to. So I think it's important for parents today that, when we look at the current culture of trying to protect our kids from knowing that we're actually doing just the opposite, we're subjecting them to a horrific childhood.

Glenn Holt:

We have the second part of Deborah Moncrief Bell's conversation with author, actor, director and playwright Charles Bush about his recent memoir.

Charles Busch:

I shall return to the stage this winter. That's another one. I have to figure out what they call the elevator pitch, because it's really a very funny play, but it sounds terribly serious. It's called Ibsen's Ghost. Yeah, Ibsen's Ghost, and I play Susanna Ibsen, the widow of the great Scandinavian playwright from the 19th century.

Glenn Holt:

And we have news wrap from this Way Out Queer Voices starts now you are listening to Queer Voices and I am Andrew Edmondsson.

Andrew Edmonson:

On June 30, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a controversial decision undermining non-discrimination laws for the LGBTQ community. In the case 303 Creative LLC versus Atlantis, the Supreme Court ruled that businesses can refuse to provide custom goods and services to LGBTQ people. The ruling was a six to three decision, with the court's conservative supermajority voting in favor of discrimination against LGBTQ people. During the dissent for the three liberal justices, justice Sonia Sotomayor observed quote Today, the court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse service to a protected class end quote. She went on to call it quote a sad day in American constitutional law and the lives of LGBTQ people by issuing this new license to discriminate in a case brought by a company that seeks to deny same-sex couples the full and equal enjoyment of its services. The immediate symbolic effect of the decision is to mark gays and lesbians for second class status end quote.

Andrew Edmonson:

To help us further understand the implications of this ruling, we are pleased to welcome back to Queer Voices Houston attorney Chris Bacon. Chris is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has taught at the University of Houston Law Center since 1992. He is listed as a Texas super lawyer in employment litigation. He was a founding member of what is now the Stonewall Lawyers and he has served as president of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. Chris, welcome back to Queer Voices.

Chris Bacon:

Thank you.

Andrew Edmonson:

Andrew, could you give us a broad brush overview of the 303 creative LLC versus Elanus, the case that was before the Supreme Court?

Chris Bacon:

All right. Colorado has what we've had in many states and even at the federal level a statute that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations. I mean these laws. We first started seeing statues like this back in the 1960s, where public accommodations could not discriminate on the basis of race or sex. So if you had a hotel, you had to rent to black people. If you had a store or a lunch counter. These were laws to make sure that all public accommodations were available to all and that people were not discriminated in those public accommodations.

Chris Bacon:

In the early 1990s, many of these laws added disabilities as a protected class and then, of course, in more recent years, different states have also added sexual orientation and sexual identity, and that was what was done in this particular case. What was at stake here was what this means is, if you have a public accommodation and that means you provide products to the public a hotel store, a service can even be a website then you cannot discriminate in providing your services. And there was a woman who had a company called 303 Creative. Her name is Lori Smith and she had actually not done any work on this, but she decided that she claimed that she wanted to have a help.

Chris Bacon:

Newly, weds put together websites announcing their wedding, and she wanted to make it very clear that she was not willing to do this for same-sex couples because she had objections. She had religious objections, does not believe that God approved of those relationships, and she felt that the Colorado law put her at risk of being fined under the law if she did not provide services to gays and lesbian couples. And so she filed a lawsuit in district and federal district court in Colorado seeking an injunction against the law because of the potential risk to her. The district court and the federal district court turned her down, denied her request for an injunction. She appealed it to the court of appeals, it was denied again and then she appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court has discretion as to whether it will bring the case or not, and in this particular case they voted to bring the case, in large part because I think that the conservative majority kind of knew that they had a majority and I think they wanted to address this issue.

Chris Bacon:

So that's basically what is at stake in this case.

Andrew Edmonson:

So Elizabeth Sepper, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas, at Austin Law School, co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of Colorado in which she called this a manufactured crisis for Lori Smith and she wrote a deep irony of the case is it should have been rejected because there is no live dispute, because this business does not do wedding services, has never designed a website for a wedding and therefore doesn't face a live circumstance where a same-sex couple has asked for a wedding website. And quote can you talk about the legal concept of standing and why the Supreme Court found that Lori Smith had standing to pursue this case, which has been labeled a manufactured crisis by a constitutional law professor?

Chris Bacon:

Well, I think there is some argument in this case, or at least there seems to be some evidence that it was manufactured. It's not really clear that she was very serious about having this business and she claimed that some person had asked her to do some gay man had asked her to create a website for his wedding and at least some of the journalists have uncovered evidence that this really never happened and that she may have fabricated in that sense.

Speaker 6:

But what does?

Chris Bacon:

standing mean Normally courts do not want to hear cases unless there is a live controversy. So I mean the simplest case. I mean if she had set up her website, if Colorado had fined her, then she certainly would have had standing to challenge on constitutional grounds the statute. Not that she would necessarily prevail, but she would have at least been at risk at that particular point. The question is can you have standing before the fact, just the fact that you might be in danger under the law, the way that the law is written, I'm not so sure I disagree in this case. I think that there is a case for standing.

Chris Bacon:

We encountered this back when we were fighting the sodomy statute and the question was could someone sue the state of Texas based on 2106, which outlawed or criminalized sodomy without having been charged with it? And a lot of courts said, yeah, if you live at risk at that, you could possibly have standing. I think the bigger problem with this case is really just the substantive reasoning behind the Supreme Court's view and not so much the standing issue To the extent that the standing was based on any false statements. You know, that's sort of it's a different issue for the court, because that really was not before the court here. I mean, that was just that's something that people discovered outside of the litigation, but obviously in court they judge, found out or determined that someone had submitted a declaration that wasn't true. There are other remedies for a court to take there.

Andrew Edmonson:

And just to add some context, laurie Smith is represented by an organization called Alliance Defending Freedom and they are a hard right so-called Christian litigating group who frequently pursues anti-LGBTQ cases, and they have been officially deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. So they made several representations in the course of the case about a gay man sending her an email and her being in the position where she was going to have to create a website. But then, when the New Republic contacted the man, stuart, who supposedly had made the request, he said that he was not gay, that he was actually a heterosexual man married to a woman for 15 years, and that he had never reached out to Laurie Smith for her to create a website. So I guess for me that raises the question of what responsibility do people or lawyers or a legal entity like Alliance Defending Freedom appearing before a court have as an obligation to provide truthful and factual information, and what is the penalty if they don't provide truthful and factual information?

Chris Bacon:

Well, lawyers have an ethical responsibility to make sure that at least the facts that they're submitting they believe are true. I mean, if you think, a lot of times you have to rely on what your client tells you, but if you have any reason to believe your client's lying, you probably should not let them provide that testimony. But I think these are issues that normally are handled by state bars more than they are by the courts.

Chris Bacon:

One of the problems with this type of a case is that she sought an injunction from a federal court. There was probably not a whole lot of evidence before the court and the court determined just on the face of the pleadings and her declaration that she basically didn't have a case. And the court of appeals took that very slim record and affirmed that decision. If the court had determined you know what, I think there may be something here. We need to have discovery, we need to have both sides need to have an opportunity to ask questions and conduct an investigation. There was no need to do that in this case because the court, from the very beginning, the district court, really resolved the case fairly quickly without giving people an opportunity to flesh out the facts, and the Supreme Court seemed very happy with that. They didn't really need to develop the facts themselves and you know they were able to sort of, you know, stick their head in the in the sand and basically go with the very limited record that they were being presented with.

Andrew Edmonson:

And if you have just joined us, we are speaking with Chris Bacon. He is a Houston attorney and we are discussing the Supreme Court case 303 creative LLC versus a Lainis, in which the Supreme Court ruled that businesses can refuse to provide custom goods and services to LGBTQ people. Chris, in recent years there have been many media articles about Chief Justice John Roberts fierce commitment to preserving the legitimacy of the Supreme Court when the court issues a ruling in a case like 303 creative that seems so deeply riddled with problems. Is there not concern that rulings like these could diminish the legitimacy of the court?

Chris Bacon:

You know, I think the court's legitimacy has been brought under question considerably in the last few years. And so I mean, I think that you know, I believe that the six justices, or at least the five justices, have voted to take this case. I mean, look, this is part of the culture wars. I mean they wanted some red meat to throw to to, you know, to the right wing political base, and that's what they were doing. I think they were disingenuous in the legal argument. I think the biggest problem that I have with the case legally, from a legal point of view, is not so much the issue of standing but how it relies on precedent. I mean, the main case that Justice Gorsuch relies upon in supporting his opinion is a case known as West Virginia versus Barnett.

Chris Bacon:

It's a case from 1942 or 1943, where West Virginia had a law that required all kids to recite the pledge of allegiance every morning and if they didn't, if a kid refused to recite the pledge of allegiance, you know the kid could be expelled from school. And in that particular case, you know, the Supreme Court determined that the problem with that case is that the government was compelling people to engage in expressive behavior and speech that they might disagree with. I mean, you're basically forcing kids to say something that they might not want to say, and they drew an analogy between that case and, in this particular case, where the facts are really very different. The, you know the law, the. The, the West Virginia law said you must make this statement every morning. The Colorado law. What it basically says is you can't discriminate against people. I mean it's not compelling anybody to make statements that they disagree with.

Chris Bacon:

But if you have someone like you have in this particular case, someone who feels very strongly Ms Smith felt very strongly about about gay weddings, I mean there's a couple of solutions for it. I mean one of the solutions she has here she can just say look, I'm not, I won't do websites for weddings Because I I I'm not comfortable doing websites for for gay couples, and so therefore I just won't discriminate. I just that will be some type of thing I will not do, because she claims she would actually take on gay lesbian clients. She just simply doesn't want, you know, to engage in expressive activity on their behalf.

Speaker 6:

Of course, the other thing that I think is sort of you know, problematic about this case is.

Chris Bacon:

I mean, she uses all the correct words, but but the reality is when you know if, if, if I see someone's website for their marriage, it's, I'm going to view that as the expressions of the people getting married. I don't think that putting together a website you know all due respect to people who do this is is really akin to an arch, a creative art, where basically the person doing the website is expressing their own personal views. And this is where I think she was disingenuous and the court kind of let her get away with it. And you know she is strong. You know she brings something else to the table. She just doesn't put together a website. You know she brings her expressive views about straight marriage or heterosexual marriage and and that's why you know we're forcing her, you know, to take on expressions that she's not comfortable with, and that's really not what was happening in this case.

Andrew Edmonson:

In her dissent, justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested that the ruling would be far reaching. Writing. Quote the decisions. Logic cannot be limited to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. End quote. So, chris, if a business owner in Texas expressed a sincerely held religious belief that intermacial marriage violated the tenets of their religion and they wanted to deny services to interracial couples, would that be permissible given the court's ruling in the 303 creative case?

Chris Bacon:

No, I think, I think that you know, obviously you and I would sort of say would someone really say that in this, in this decade, although actually I think people would say that? But, yes, no, I think, I think you're absolutely correct. I think that this, this particular decision, gives license to people who discriminate, and they don't have to do a whole lot in order to justify it. All they have to do is say, look, I have a good faith, you know, religious belief or this is my own personal view. It doesn't matter how crazy it is. You know, this is what my view is. And and, yeah, I don't, I don't think a black and a white person should get married. And so, you know, doesn't have to be a website. It could be a photographer, you know, at Walmart, and he says look, I'm not going to take a picture of a black and a white woman and, you know, want a picture for their wedding, because I only think that people of the same race should get married.

Speaker 6:

So yes, I think absolutely.

Chris Bacon:

I think Justice Sotomayor was right about that.

Andrew Edmonson:

So Waco judge Diane Hensley has long resisted performing same sex marriages for LGBTQ couples. In 2019, she received a public warning from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Now she has submitted a brief arguing that the Supreme Court ruling in the 303 creative case will help her in her case to not have to perform weddings for LGBTQ couples. Do you anticipate that we will see a wave of cases in which litigants claim that they don't have to provide goods and services to LGBTQ Americans based on the Supreme Court's ruling in the 303 creative case?

Chris Bacon:

I think we will see a lot of cases. I would like to think that the judge and of course I know that there are some judges who chose not to do any weddings as a result of the Obergefall decision, which I think is probably somewhat defensible, especially if in your area there are other judges doing it but I think that if the judge is only going to do one type of marriage, I think they should not be allowed to do that and I think there may be some distinction here, because this is clearly the government and you know, it's the state of Texas engaging in discrimination. So for someone to say, for some judges to say, well, I just don't want to do it, Well, you really are an arm of the state. So it's the state of Texas that's discriminating. I think that particular case maybe even this court at least, maybe at least five people on this court, would find it differently. But yes, I think it does open the door to that very, very easily.

Andrew Edmonson:

So last question I'm not a lawyer, but for me there seem to be cognitive dissonance in some of the Supreme Court's rulings issued in June 2023. In two cases, the Supreme Court ended affirmative action in college admissions after five decades saying that the policy was discriminatory. In the 303 creative case, the conservative majority of the court endorsed discrimination against LGBTQ people. As a layman, I'm left wondering if discrimination on the basis of race is wrong for affirmative action, why is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity acceptable to the court?

Chris Bacon:

Let's be honest here. The Supreme Court is not concerned about race discrimination in the affirmative action case. I mean, they are concerned about protecting the majority. They've not all of a sudden discovered, you know, race discrimination is bad. I mean, as I said at the beginning, I mean this is this court. Is, you know, participating in the cultural wars?

Chris Bacon:

I mean, when Deborah and I were growing up, we always heard, you know, conservatives complain about activist judges. I will say that what I have seen going on and not just at the Supreme Court, but there's quite a few Trump appointed federal district judges, sometimes in locations where they are the only judge, so they get to, you know, people pick them. I think these judges today are probably more activist than any group of judges that I've seen in my lifetime. So it's sort of ironic that, you know, for years and years and years, we've heard many conservatives say well, we just don't want activist judges, we just want judges to follow the law. What we have today are judges who really are being very activist, you know, from a very conservative and right-wing perspective.

Andrew Edmonson:

And if you've just joined us, we have been speaking with Houston attorney Chris Bacon. We have been discussing the Supreme Court case 303, creative LLC versus Elanus, in which the court ruled that businesses can reviews to provide custom goods and services to LGBTQ Americans. Chris, thank you for making time to share your insights into this case.

Chris Bacon:

You bet. Thank you, Andrew.

Glenn Holt:

Part of our Queer Voices community listens on KPFT, which is a nonprofit community radio station, and as such, kpft does not endorse or hold any standing on matters of politics. If you would like equal airtime to represent an alternative point of view, please contact us through kpftorg or our own website at QueerVoicesorg. This is Queer Voices Coming up on Queer Voices, a gay author who is related to Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. Then we have the second part of Deborah Bell's conversation with playwright Charles Bush.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

This radio program, queer Voices, has existed since the 1970s. On KPFT we have this little crew of folks working every week to produce what's no longer unique because we're almost mainstream now, but we're still an important voice that might not otherwise get heard because it's not on that many places. So KPFT is very important to give voices to those who might not otherwise have voices. So, as Glenn always says, you participate by listening. You should also participate by supporting the station. Please go to kpftorg and make your donation right away.

Brett Cullum:

I'm Brett Cullum, and today, on Queer Voices, I am joined by a guest that I know well, pretty well. He's an author with two books currently out and available through Amazon, named R Lee Ingalls. He is also someone I have been with as a partner for 18 years and as a husband for nine, so he is a member of the famous Ingalls family of the Little House on the Prairie fame. Hello, lee, and welcome to Queer Voices on KPFT.

Lee Ingalls:

Thank you, it's my pleasure to be here.

Brett Cullum:

To start with, tell us something about how you are actually related to Laura, Ingalls Wilder and the Ingalls family and the books and the TV show Little House on the Prairie.

Lee Ingalls:

That is one of the first questions that I get when somebody makes a connection between my last name and Little House on the Prairie series, and it helps to understand. Laura does not have any living direct descendants and if you step up a generation to her parents, Charles and Carolyn, the same thing exists with them they don't have any living descendants. So you have to look for a sibling of either Charles or Carolyn to get a living relative of the family. So and that's where my family comes in my great great grandfather was Lanceford James Ingalls and he was Charles' brother. My great grandfather, Samuel Ingalls, is Laura's cousin. So that's as close as you can get to a relation that's still producing descendants today. And that's where I come in. So Samuel Ingalls is my great grandfather.

Brett Cullum:

How did you decide to pick up the tradition of recording your family's history and books, like Laura did?

Lee Ingalls:

So that kind of came as a mistake. I found out when I was in grade school that I was related to the family. One of my classmates out in the recess field came up to me and asked me are you a member of the same family? You spell your last name the same way. Well, I didn't know at that point. So I went home and asked my mother and she said yes, in fact we are related to the family, but she wasn't exactly sure how, and I never really pursued you know how close we were until I was really in my 60s. It kind of planted a seed at that point that someday someone in our family would pick up the pencil to speak and continue to write about our family. I was in my 40s that I decided nobody else had done it, so it might as well be me, and I started jutting down memory joggers for storylines that I thought might be interesting in the book.

Brett Cullum:

One of the things that kind of interested me in your whole process is you wrote your first book, Ingalls on the Prairie. That is about the life of your mother and father. Why did you decide to tell their story first?

Lee Ingalls:

Yeah, that was kind of a process.

Lee Ingalls:

My intent was to write the book that I just had published first, but as I was writing it I wrote a little bit about my grandparents and I quickly realized I did not know enough about their life.

Lee Ingalls:

I did not ask the questions while they were here, so I didn't really know a lot about their life, but I knew enough to put some details and facts in there. With my parents, I wrote a little bit about them and I thought you know, I do know enough about their childhood, I do know enough about their upbringing, and they had such an interesting life, many of the events that they had happened in their life. Most people have those same events in their lives, but just not to the same number that my parents did. So I thought really their story is the one that should be told first, and my mother is still with us. So I was able to write the early parts of their lives that I was not here for and then send those to her. She would look over them and she would make any corrections or add details that I was not aware of. So those first chapters her and I worked very closely together on, so that's why I thought it was important to tell their story while I still have my mother here and could do that.

Brett Cullum:

Your second book that's just been released is about your own life, and you called it the Prairie has a Rainbow. So tell me about the process of how you decided to write this one and what you did to prepare to tell your own story.

Lee Ingalls:

Yeah. So I think one of the remarkable things about the stories that Laura told she told an average American experience at the time. She was living through an extraordinary time in our nation's history and I think that's what makes it where it resonates with so many people and being part of that family. We are still part of the normal average American experience and I am as well, but I also happen to be gay, which kind of sets me apart from the rest of my siblings and a lot of my family. So, add to that, I'm approaching 70. And when you have lived that long and you look back over your life, you realize there have been significant national and international events that have happened and had an effect on my life. So I thought those stories need to be told. It needs to be told what an average American experience was for a gay man in the mid 1900s through. Actually, I ended the story in 2005. So that was kind of why I think it needed to be told and out there.

Brett Cullum:

What do you think about joining the LGBTQIA Plus community and linking your life to the Little House and the Prairie Books? I mean, it's definitely kind of a conservative brand and things like that. How do you navigate that and what's your take on that aspect of it?

Lee Ingalls:

Right. So that was one of the things I thought that was important to do. So back in the 1980s, there was a phrase that was very commonly used. It was we are everywhere, and that was kind of why, or one of the reasons, I wanted to write the book to illustrate that, yes, we are everywhere. Even one of the most iconic, storied families in our nation's history has gay people in them, and not just gay people, but there are lesbians, there's bisexuals, transgender all part of our family. So representation is important and that's why I felt the connection between a very conservative brand and image should also include gay people that support that image. Her foundations were honesty, integrity and giving the opportunity to do the right things. That's exactly what you should do, and that is not exclusive for our community. We live to those as well, and I hope that my book will illustrate that.

Brett Cullum:

In the book you talk a lot about growing up in Minnesota and you had a certain perception of who you were. Can you talk about that just for a second, and what made that unique for you in that setting?

Lee Ingalls:

Thank you, Back when I grew up, of course, the medical community felt that being gay in any form of gay or lesbian was an illness. It wasn't something that you should support to make your kid okay with, you should fix them. So that's kind of the environment that I grew up in. Then you add to that we didn't have the internet. We didn't have cable TV. We didn't have access to anything that the adults in our lives wanted us to have access to.

Lee Ingalls:

When I ended up growing up, I did. I grew up feeling I was alone in the world, that I was the only one like me. I didn't find out until I was 19 years old that there was a community that I belonged to. So I think it's important for parents today that when we look at the current culture of trying to protect our kids from knowing that we're actually doing just the opposite, we're subjecting them to a horrific childhood. Yeah, that's kind of why I wanted to tell the early years and tell just how disastrous that was.

Lee Ingalls:

One of the things from a parental perspective, when my parents did not show me that part of our society, did not introduce me to that side part of the society. What happened was when I became aware of it. Someone who has no allegiance to my good health is going to expose me to the community in very possibly a very negative way. We all know that that exists in our community, so they missed an opportunity to add their thoughts, their morality, their theories on it and let somebody else do that for them, and I think that that's. I do not think that's a good thing.

Brett Cullum:

Looking back on the period of your life that you wrote about in the book, is there anything that sticks out to you the most like that you just look at and go, wow, that was something really unique, and this is why I had to get this story out here.

Lee Ingalls:

I think one thing that's very unique to our community is we are all born into a family and for me, I was the only gay person in our family, so that made me unique. That was part of I knew that. That made me different than the rest of my siblings, so I lived with that every single day, woke up with that in the morning, went to bed with that at night until I found our community. And once I found our community, the friendships that I've developed within our community are. They've been lifelong and they've actually become a large part of my chosen family, and I hate to say it that way, but they really feel like brothers and sisters to me and they've supported me and protected me in the same way that I support and protect them in a way that a family unit should have done. And again, to go back to my early years, they didn't. So, yeah, I think that's what makes our community unique and again, I hope that that's a takeaway from my book.

Brett Cullum:

We're talking to Arlie Engels, author of two books the Prairie has a Rainbow, which is about his life, and Engels on the Prairie, which is about his parents and, of course, sintering on the famous Engels family of Little House on the Prairie. Do you have any plans for a next book or project? What's coming up next for you with this?

Lee Ingalls:

I do. You know our family. I don't know how or why they did that. They took a million photos. So I have all the photos. I have all the memorabilia from both sides of my family, my mothers and my fathers. My mother's father, my grandfather on that side, wrote a 15 page document about his life and his father's life. So there's not enough there to make a full book out of it and make it nonfiction. So I'm going to fictionalize that and at this point I'm crafting the outline for that book.

Brett Cullum:

And we can get your books on Amazon, correct, arlie Engels? Yes, and is there anywhere else that we can look to find out more about you and your work documenting the Engels legacy?

Lee Ingalls:

Sure. So I've kind of separated my online personas, so I have one that's very family centric. It is on Instagram, is where you'll find most of the information, and it's Engels on the Prairie Same name as a book, all jammed together, no spaces. The one for me personally that will focus more on my life is the title of my second book, the Prairie has a rainbow, also on Instagram.

Brett Cullum:

Well, thank you so much for talking to us here at Queer Voices. We really appreciate it and we definitely look forward to checking out your books.

Glenn Holt:

That was Brett Cullum talking with Lee Ingalls about the books that he has written. Brett's husband is related to Laura Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie. Here at Queer Voices, we try to cover a range of topics Queer people in politics, the arts, social services, you name it. And that's exactly the point. You can contact us through Facebook or on the web to suggest topics you'd like to hear us cover in one of these episodes or make friendly comments about what we've been able to do so far. We'd love to hear from you. Look for us online Queer Voices on Facebook and QueerVoicesorg on the web. What better way to get your ideas, your opinions or your group in front of the LGBTQ plus community? Don't be shy. We're doing interviews over Zoom and you don't even have to leave the house to be on the radio. It's Queer Voices on Facebook or QueerVoicesorg on the web. Oh, and Martha, thanks to you, she loves getting likes.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

This is Deborah Moncrew Bell. I'm talking with Charles Bush about his recent memoir Leading Lady, a memoir of a most unusual boy, which is available, as you're hearing this, from Amazon, barnes, noble and other outlets. Charles, I understand you're working on a new play. Can you tell me something about that?

Charles Busch:

Yes, I shall return to the stage this winter. That's another one. I have to figure out what they call the elevator pitch, because it's really a very funny play, but it sounds terribly serious. It's called Ibsen's Ghost. Are you laughing? You're laughing already. Yes, Ibsen's Ghost, and I play Susanna Ibsen, the widow of the great Scandinavian playwright from the 19th century, and it's the week after his state funeral. You're laughing right.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

I have to figure out the.

Charles Busch:

It's a riot, hijinks ensue. The situation is just that she's the great keeper of the flame and her whole life is built on just being the perfect wife and helpmate to the great man. During this week, all sorts of things start happening that are jeopardizing that image. A woman who she had known the Ibsen's had known years before, been friends with has returned to Oslo with a diary that will show how we betrayed her and how Ibsen took her story to use as a basis for a doll's house. This is all sort of based on truth, and then I've souped it up for my own benefit. He did have an illegitimate son from his youth who he never met, and so this play. The son, who's now a mature man, who's a sailor, comes to Oslo and really just would like a memento that belonged to his father that he never knew. And he meets the widow and suddenly he awakens her sexually in a way that she never had before and she persuades him to break into this other woman's hotel room and steal the diary.

Charles Busch:

That's the premise of the play. It gets dramatic, but it's also, I hope, very funny. Yes, we're going to do that in two different theaters this winter. We open first at the George Street Playhouse in Brunswick, new Jersey, and we try it out there for a few weeks and then I think it was just one week off for good behavior we go to New York and then we'll be playing seven weeks in February through April at primary stages theater company in Manhattan, where I've done a number of plays. So, yes, we're just in the middle of no middle. We're just in the beginning of figuring things out as far as casting some of the parts and faking out the set and just getting it together, very excited about it.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Do you enjoy that part of the process as much as the actual performing?

Charles Busch:

What do you mean? The producing of it?

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Yes, writing it, thinking about set design costumes, crafting it together.

Charles Busch:

Well, really, carl, my director's really do all that and I try to. I don't want to just be too intrusive. But of course, what's great with Carl? After all these years he's almost my closest friend and collaborator and he's much younger than I. He's almost really my son in some ways, but we're almost really I really could say 100% in sync. There's never a disagreement, because sometimes he may have an opinion that I'm not sure I agree with, but usually I give in.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Right, well, you've learned to trust one another.

Charles Busch:

Yeah, I mean, he's so smart and he knows me so well that it's funny about certain questions. Well, I find with directors, because often when you're working on a brand new play, the play evolves even way before the actors come in. And so Carl is, I guess you could say, dramaturg, but it's just he knows what questions to ask me that make me think, and of course we've done so many plays together.

Charles Busch:

That sounds kind of comical, but there's a reason behind it. I'll just describe to him the story. There's nothing, even written yet. I'd like to have this idea where I'd be that, something that evokes Ibsen's plays, but I know we're not going to do a production of Head of Gabler or Ghosts, but I'd like to play those feelings and that kind of Ibsen strong haunted lady. And then I described in the plot and something that's a little outline of just what scenes might be.

Charles Busch:

And then he'll say, well, what color wig do you think you'd be wearing? And a lot of people say it's premature. But he actually has a very good point because, knowing me and mine securities and strengths and notes, so I'd say, well, no, she's older woman and I think maybe you know she kind of brown hair with kind of gray streaks. And he'd say you know you're not going to be happy, you're not going to be happy, you know we're going to ultimately change it to a red wig. And then some of that says I've done this so early there's no play at. But he knows me so right that yes, indeed, I probably wouldn't be unhappy, I'd probably start being rehearsal, all kind of tight and insecure, and then put the red wig on me and it gives me more of a comic spirit, a little more relaxed. He just knows it's so great when you work with people that you trust and they know you so well.

Charles Busch:

It's just, you know, I've had a very peculiar career I've worked with. Considering that I've been at this for over 40 years, I probably only worked in the theater with I'm just guessing maybe four directors, five directors my whole career, because I do. You know I stay with them, for I mean Ken Elliott, who directed Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and all of my early, early plays. You know we did I don't know, six, seven, eight plays together, and then Carl's done about 25. And then I did a couple with Lin Meadow at Menendez Theater Club and one with Mark Brokaw and just you know very, very few, and I just I love long collaborations.

Charles Busch:

I love writing for the same people. You know I've written maybe 13 roles for Julie Halston. There's a wonderful actress I've been working with for the last number of years Jennifer Van Dyke and gosh. I think I've written, put her in about I don't know how many plays now, five plays and oh, I just love writing for her. She has a kind of a Catherine Hepburn kind of, you know, androgynous feeling, elegance to her and she's inspired me to create more roles, male roles for women, which I hadn't really done before, and it's been a lot of fun just figuring that out with her.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Well as with all of us, our lives are about not only ourselves but the people who in habit the world with us, and you have been blessed to have many wonderful friendships and collaborations. The book is Leading Lady, a memoir of a most unusual boy. The man behind the book and behind so much wonderful theatrical work is Charles Bush, and if you have the opportunity, see the documentary. The Lady in Question is Charles Bush. You're listening to Queer Voices. This is Deborah Moncrette Bell.

Speaker 11:

I'm Ava Davis and I'm Marcos Nahira with News Wrap a summary of some of the news and or affecting LGBTQ communities around the world for the week ending September 23rd 2023. Delegates to the General Assembly of the United Nations met in New York City this week. Us President Joe Biden countered the hostility to LGBTQ equality some world leaders brought to the podium by recalling the Universal Convention on Human Rights. He called on all people to honor that 75-year-old commitment.

Speaker 6:

We cannot turn away from abuses, whether in Xinjiang, tehran or for anywhere else. We have to continue working to ensure that women and girls enjoy equal rights and equal participation of their societies, that indigenous groups, racial, ethnic, religious minorities, people with disabilities do not have the potential to stifle systemic discrimination. The LGBTQI plus people are not prosecuted or targeted with violence because of who they are. These rights are part of our shared humanity. When they're absent anywhere, their loss is felt everywhere.

Speaker 11:

Turkish President, rajip Tayyip Erdogan, embarrassed himself in the UN spotlight caused by his own homophobia. He told the press back home that he planned to lodge a complaint with Secretary General Antonio Guterres about prime displays. According to Reuters, in Erdogan's words, one of the issues that bothers me the most is that when entering the United Nations General Assembly, you see the LGBT colors on the steps in other places. How many LGBT are there in the world right now? However much right they have on these steps, those against LGBT have as much right as well. Those colored rainbows are not queer rainbow flags, your Excellency. They're the 17 colors that represent the UN's Sustainable Development Goals Summit held earlier in the week.

Speaker 12:

The Nigerian 69 were finally released on bail this week. They've remained in jail since an August 29th raid in the country's Delta state, which initially captured more than 200 men and women. Authorities trumpet the arrest for allegedly conducting or attending a same-sex wedding, which is specifically outlawed in the East African nation. The 69 jail defendants were forced into a televised perp walk. They each faced up to 14 years in prison. All of them should be out this week, according to their lawyer, Ochiko Ohimur. He told CNN they need a surety who will show evidence of income and they must be a resident within the judicial division. Then the defendants have been ordered to sign a register once a month until their next hearing, but it's not clear when that will be. State prosecutors wanted all of them to be kept behind bars, but a high court in Wari set bail at 500,000 Naira each, about $650 US dollars. Attorney Ohimur is feeling the heat. He told CNN I have been scandalized. Some say I'm a gay lawyer and that's why I'm defending them. People look at me with disgust for standing for them.

Speaker 11:

A Hong Kong court has ordered the legal recognition of both lesbian moms on the birth certificate of a baby boy born via reciprocal IVF. Judge Queenie Ohyong at the court of first instance ruled that the government's refusal to recognize both women as co-parents was a form of discrimination against the couple's baby son. The family was granted anonymity by the court. The couple legally married in South Africa. There, one woman's egg was fertilized externally with donated sperm and then the other woman carried the pregnancy two term. Hong Kong authorities recognized only one of them as the baby's single mother in 2022. Judge Ohyong declared the unrecognized co-mom as a parent at common law. In her ruling she wrote the court should be astute to the changing world where people build families in different manners than through a married or heterosexual relationship. Hong Kong's Department of Justice told Ajans France Press that it was studying the judgment in detail and considering the way forward. Lawyer Evelyn Selle represented one of the women. She called the ruling one giant step for the rainbow families in our LGBTQ community.

Speaker 12:

A lesbian couple in South Korea welcomed their daughter, rani on August 30. The Korea Herald calls birth mom Kim Kyujin the country's first openly lesbian woman to give birth. Kyujin legally married Kim Seyeon in New York in 2019. She received IVF treatment in Belgium. Same-gender couples are not allowed to legally marry in South Korea. Only Kyujin will be legally recognized as the birth mother. Earlier this year, the government did decide to allow health insurance rights equal to married heterosexual couples. Kyujin says the couple wants their story told to prove to the country how ordinary same-gender couple-headed families are. In her words, there are so many types of parents in Korea who are marginalized from the majority not just lesbians, but low-income parents, parents with physical disabilities, multicultural families, divorced families and single parents. Should we all be banned from raising children? Discrimination against specific groups makes a society discriminatory as a whole.

Speaker 11:

September 20 marked the 12th anniversary of the repeal of Don't Ask, don't Tell. The US Department of Defense observed the occasion by announcing a new initiative to upgrade the discharges of queer service members who were booted from the military under that dust-bend law. The path to removing the dis from dishonorable will be smoother. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the press that the Pentagon will encourage all service members and veterans who believe they have suffered an error or injustice to seek correction to their military records. It's no coincidence that queer veterans filed a class-action lawsuit against the Pentagon last month for allegedly failing to remedy ongoing discrimination, including biased language, in the discharge papers of LGBTQ veterans. We know the task remains unfinished.

Speaker 11:

Deputy Secretary of Defense, kathleen Hicks.

Speaker 9:

Our work remains to reach every veteran whose life was impacted by Don't Ask, don't Tell. This outreach campaign will be online, by email, by mail, through nonprofits and veteran service organizations, and more. It starts today with a new online resource on Defensegov.

Speaker 11:

That's Defensegov.

Speaker 12:

Finally, the Apportion Bill banning Judge Matthew Kazmarek made news again this week. This time, the Trump-appointed Christian nationalist US District Court for the Northern District of Texas jurist launched an unhinged attack on family-friendly drag shows. His ruling upheld the right of West Texas A&M University to ban the queer and ally student group Spectrum WT from hosting a drag show on campus. The event was a benefit for the Trevor Project, a nonprofit suicide prevention group for LGBTQ young people. The university is located just south of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. Kazmarek's ruling rejected constitutional free speech arguments referenced by other federal judges in generally conservative courts. Enforcement of similar family-friendly drag bans have been temporarily blocked in Florida, montana, tennessee and Utah.

Speaker 12:

Kazmarek declared the art form Vulgar and Lude sexualized content and claimed it encourages the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Jt Morris of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression is representing the Spectrum WT student group and promises an appeal. Their statement said Our fight for the expressive rights of these brave college students will continue. A spokesperson for West Texas A&M said they cannot comment on ongoing litigation. Kazmarek made headlines earlier this year by attempting to nationally ban the use of Mipha Pristone, the country's most common medically induced abortion drug. A lawsuit is challenging the US Food and Drug Administration's 20-year-old approval of Mipha Pristone and the drug's well-documented effectiveness and safety, the Supreme Court refused to stop its availability. As the case continues, the online news outlet Slate may have summed it up best by headlining their story on Kazmarek's latest off-the-rails decision. America's worst judge declares war on drag.

Speaker 11:

That's News Wrap global queer news with attitude For the week ending September 23rd 2023, follow the news in your area and around the world. An informed community is a strong community. News.

Speaker 12:

Wrap is written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, produced by Brian Deschizer and brought to you by you.

Speaker 11:

Thank you. Help keep us in ears around the world at ThisWayOutorg, where you can also read the text on this newscast and much more. For this Way Out. I'm Eva Davis, Stay healthy. And I'm Marcos.

Speaker 12:

Nágaera Stay safe.

Speaker 6:

City of Night. City of Night. City of Night, city of Night.

Lee Ingalls:

City of Night. City of Night. Hello, I'm John Richie, author of City of Night, and you're listening to this Way Out, the International Gay and Lesbian Radio Magazine. I hope that you do stay tuned.

Glenn Holt:

Our listeners support this Way Out in many ways by subscribing to our e-newsletter.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Email us at info at ThisWayOutorg.

Lee Ingalls:

And through your financial contributions to our program.

Speaker 11:

More information about how you can give is online at ThisWayOutorg. Thank you.

Glenn Holt:

Andrew Edmondson and Deborah Moncrief Bell are frequent contributors. The news wrap segment is part of another podcast called this Way Out, which is produced in Los Angeles.

Glenn Holt:

Some of the material in this program has been edited to improve clarity and runtime. This program does not endorse any political views or animal species. Views, opinions and endorsements are those of the participants and the organizations they represent. In case of death, please discontinue use and discard remaining products.

Glenn Holt:

For Queer Voices. I'm Glenn Holt.

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