Queer Voices

November 27th 2023 Queer Voices

November 29, 2023 Queer Voices
Queer Voices
November 27th 2023 Queer Voices
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This week Deborah Moncrief Bell has a conversation with Carrie Rai, the Executive Director of Tony's Place, talking about the organization, and the services it provides for Houston LGBTQA+ youth. Tony's Place is a safe haven for marginalized youth.Tony’s Place opened in 2016 in loving memory of Robert Anthony “Tony” Carroll. Tony Carroll was a pillar of the Houston community and a tireless advocate for numerous LGBTQ+ causes. Tony and his husband Bruce Smith were strong advocates for a drop-in center for young LGBTQ+ people. Tony and Bruce were board members of the non-profit, Homeless Gay Kids – Houston. Tony passed suddenly in December of 2015 at the age of 75, but his legacy lives on. Under the umbrella of Homeless Gay Kids - Houston, Tony’s Place was opened to homeless and unstably housed LGBTQ+ youth and allies.

Tony’s Place now has a physical location in the Montrose area, were LGBTQ+ youth can access services and support. tonysplace.org

Guest: Carrie Rai

Then Deborah has a conversation with Jamie Gonzales. President and and Davis Mendoza Darusman,  Vice-President of the UH LGBTQ Alumni Association about what happened with the closing of the LGBTQ+ Resource Center at U of H due to SB. 17, and the aftermath. With the closing of the center this group of alumni have taken up the slack in making sure there is a place and resources for students at U of H that would otherwise utilize the services at the center. https://houstonalumni.com/.../interest-and-affinity/lgtbq/.



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. This week, debra Moncrief Bell has a conversation with Carrie Ray, the executive director of Tony's Place, talking about the organization and the services it provides for Houston LGBT plus youth.

Speaker 2:

It could be something very small like obtaining their ID, so that could be a small win and a success when we support them for getting their Social Security card or, you know, their driver's license card. But we also have people who have been able to go through training and complete schoolwork.

Glenn Holt:

Debra also has a conversation with Jamie Gonzalez and David Deruzmune of the UH LGBTQ Alumni Association about what happened with the closing of the LGBT plus resource center at U of H due to SB 17 and the aftermath.

Speaker 3:

In the next 10 days is our meeting with the University of Houston administration and campus partners Very optimistic that this is going to go well and that we're going to get a lot of questions answered and we're going to be able to find out how we can move forward with a lot of programs that can no longer exist as they have in the past, given SB 17's passage.

Glenn Holt:

And we have news wrap from this way out Queer Voices starts now.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

This is Debra Mongreaves Bell and I'm talking with Carrie Ray. She's the executive director of Tony's Place. So, carrie, first of all, let's give a little update on what Tony's Place is and how it got started.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thank you, debra. So Tony's Place started in 2016 as a drop in center for LGBTQ youth who were homeless because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We have now moved into a different location in the Montrose area and we continue to serve those who are unhoused because of their gender identity and sexual orientation, but we have also expanded to provide case management, support services and community engagement.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

And who are the people that come there?

Speaker 2:

Right now, our largest base of clients are people who are unhoused. They're under the age of 25. They're unhoused or unstably housed and what that means is they're bouncing from couch to couch what we call couch surfing. They may have been kicked out from their home because of how they identify, or maybe they felt like they were unsafe where they've been. They've been on the street for some time. They need basic needs such as a warm meal, so we cook a meal in our center three times a week. We have laundry services, we have a clothing closet, we have showers. The majority of our population we have about 70% are African American and they reflect kind of what we see in the larger homeless population, which is disproportionately African American and male.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

You're housed in the bearing complex right.

Speaker 2:

Yes, we rent a space off of a front bearing church. We rent the building that's right beside the church. We operate that entire building and we have been here since June 2022.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

I believe that was what was once the drop in for people that had HIV AIDS, and I worked with the support group at bearing during that time and I know how important it was to have a place people could come, where they could be themselves and get nourishment. That was just really important, especially people with AIDS who maybe had trouble having nutrition and staying as healthy as they could be because of that. Tell me why it's called Tony's Place.

Speaker 2:

The founder of Tony's Place, kind of the brainchild, was Tony Carroll. He was a pillar of our community, he was a mental health provider, and him and his partner Bruce really wanted a safe haven for homeless LGBTQ youth, and so the idea of a drop in center came about in around 2015. And unfortunately, mr Carroll passed away suddenly towards the end of 2015., and so in 2016, tony's Place was opened in his memory.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Yes, it was a big shock to us that Tony left us, so he was just someone that you would go somewhere and you expected to see him, and then suddenly he wasn't there. But he did leave this legacy and I think that's wonderful. Every time I hear the name Tony's Place, I think of him. So one of the things that is happening is Tony's Place is the beneficiary of both of the organizations that are producing Pride events this coming year, and I say, no matter where you stand, one thing you can count on is that it will help Tony's Place. What are some of the things that you would like to see happen with this additional support?

Speaker 2:

The Tony's Place, we are serving the need and in this political climate in Texas, as our youth population grows, the demand for services is increasing. So we want to open more services, and so that requires more funding for us, more staff. So we really need to grow, offer more times of days that were open, add more case managers. So we really need the community to support us in that, and what we do can't be done alone, and so we are so grateful for all of our donations, all of the donors, all of the people that are willing to support Tony's Place and our clients. So we are just really here to serve those who are in need. We want to create a safe environment for our clients to be who they are in their journey, to embrace them, to love them, to give them the basic needs that they need to survive and thrive in this world.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Do you have volunteer opportunities?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely yes, so we can't do this with just our staff. We have volunteers that come in to support us, to help make our meals, to help clean, to organize our clothing closet, to talk with our clients. So on our website we have opportunities to volunteer, we have opportunities to donate, so people are interested. We also have space. So if you want to come into a supportive environment where you want to have a community space or a community meeting, we are welcome. We are happy to partner with you. Even if there's a community organization that wants to provide services to our clients. We would love to bring in community organizations to our center so that our clients don't have to go to many different service providers in order to get their needs met. We'd love to partner with you and bring those services in-house.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

What are some of the success stories that you can tell us?

Speaker 2:

Recently we've had a few of our clients housed within our homeless system, so they have been able to get permanent supportive housing with case management support. We have recently had a client be able to reunite with his mother in a different city, which is very exciting. We've had a client be able to gain employment recently. So we have a number of success stories. Each is different and unique and success is defined differently for each client and so when the client comes in and talks to us about their goals and what they need, it could be something very small, like obtaining their ID, so that could be a small win and a success when we support them for getting their Social Security card or their driver's license card. But we've also had people who have been able to go through training and complete schoolwork, get housed, like I said, reunite with family and be able to move back into a more supportive environment.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

What are some of the types of things that you would like to expand to be able to do?

Speaker 2:

So right now we currently have our basic needs services. So that's a meal, shower access, laundry access, clothing closet. We offer that three times a week. We would love to expand that to six times a week, so six days. We would also love to add more case management services. So we have a part time case manager. We would love to expand that to have at least two case managers to meet with clients individually on an ongoing basis. So those are ideal, like our two things that we would love to do immediately within the next year.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Is there anything that I didn't ask you about that you'd like to share?

Speaker 2:

I just think it's so important with the anti-LGBTQ legislation that has happened this legislative session, that there are organizations like ourselves, like Montrose Center, montrose Grace Place, that we continue to serve this population and we come together as a community, because it takes a community, and I just want to thank everybody that supports us, that supports our community partners around this. That's all I want to say really.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

I imagine that a number of these people it's a vulnerable population, so it's really important that they do have the support but I imagine that some of them may be engaging in sex work. How do you deal with that?

Speaker 2:

So our clients do what they need to do to survive right, whether that is selling their shoes or selling other things or engaging in transactional sex. It is really just getting their needs met and we want to give them the tools to be as safe as possible. And if we lived in a society where everyone's basic needs were taken care of, maybe our clients wouldn't be in unsafe situations. So we want to provide those basic needs and the support. We want to be here when they've been in risky situations and they need to talk through that. It's always very challenging, but they're just doing what they need to do to get to the next day and no one should judge them for that. You know, some of us have been privileged in our life and we don't have to do certain things to get our needs met. Other people are not so privileged and you know that's why I do this work is because you know I have been very fortunate in my life and I've seen those who haven't been, and you know what. That's just the odds. I have lottery that we're born into and you know, if I didn't have the certain things that I was raised in, I might do certain things that I would have to need to, to get you know, a roof over my head.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

We know that if a young person ends up on the streets, that from the time that they first walk out the door of wherever they were to being likely to engage in sex work is pretty short time because, as you say, it's a survival. But I imagine you supply resources like condoms and education.

Speaker 2:

So we provide safe sex kits, hygiene kits. We partner with Avenue 360. They come in every Friday to provide HIV testing. We just want to provide the education, the condoms, the female condoms, the tools so that our clients can make the best decisions for themselves and be as safe as possible.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

That is ultimately the goal for everyone to be as safe as possible, to be as supported as possible. How did you get involved in this work, Carrie?

Speaker 2:

I am a Canadian. I've been in Houston for eight years. Years ago, I worked in one of the largest murder investigations in Canadian history and I witnessed the aftermath of oppression and vulnerabilities when there were how do I say this? In Canada? One of the most oppressed groups in Canada are the Indigenous Peoples, and there are a number of missing and murdered women, and a lot of them end up involved in sex work or survival sex, and they are the most preyed upon. And so 20 years ago, I decided that I wanted to get into social work and give back and serve the most vulnerable. So I got into social work, I got into counseling, I've worked in addictions, mental health, child welfare, and when I moved down here to Texas, I met a man who happened to be trans and I fell in love with him and he's opened my eyes to many things and I've just continued to serve vulnerable people for my whole career. And do you think of the intersectionality of people who are living on the street, people from the LGBT community, people who are black and brown, people from lower socioeconomic status, all of those intersectionalities? It can be a huge challenge in this world to get by, and all they need is love and support and some of the most basic needs to get to where they want to go, and some encouragement.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

How do people find Tony's place?

Speaker 2:

So, like you said earlier, tony was a very popular man. So a lot of people know who Tony Carol was and have heard of Tony's place, and we are a member of the Way Home, which is the coordinating body for the homeless system, so we are a part of a homeless provider. A lot of people on the street know about Tony's place. We advertise our services on social media and a lot of times when a new person comes in we say, hey, how did you hear about us? And they're like, oh, my friend so-and-so told me and a lot of it's word of mouth on the street. And then we go to a lot of different events. We were at Katie Pride, we were at Woodlands Pride, we were at the U of H Black Trans Empowerment Resource Fair. We were at Rice Pride. We love to be out there in the community advertising our services. We want to have a greater reach, not just for youth who are unhoused or unstable housed, but also youth who may be unsafely housed so they may be living in a middle class home but it may be unsafe for them based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and we offer services for them as well. We provide counseling, case management. If you just want a safe environment for someone to listen to you, we are here for that.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Well, carrie Ray, executive Director of Tony's Place, we're so thankful that you're there and that Tony's Place exists, and we appreciate you talking with us today. You're listening to Queer Voices.

Glenn Holt:

Coming up next on Queer Voices, deborah has a conversation with Jamie Gonzalez and David Deruzman of the UH LGBTQ Alumni Association about what happened with the closing of the LGBT Plus Resource Center at U of H due to SB 17 and the aftermath. This is Glenn from Queer Voices. You're listening to KPFT. That means you're already participating just by listening, but how about doing more? Kpft is totally listener funded, which means it's people like you who are making donations who support this community resource. Kpft has no corporate or government strings attached funding, which means we're free to program responsibly, but without outside influence. Will you participate in KPFT financially? This station needs everyone who listens to chip in a few dollars to keep the station going, because that's the way it works. Even if you're listening over the Internet on another continent, you can still contribute. Please become an active member of the listener community by making a tax deductible contribution. Please take a minute to visit KPFTorg and click on the red donate now button. Thank you.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

This is Deborah Moncrews Bell with the award winning radio show and podcast Queer Voices. Today we're talking to Jamie Gonzalez and Davis Mendelsa Dorisman, who are both with the UH LGBT Alumni Association, and we're going to talk today about Senate Bill 17 in Texas in its aftermath. So first of all, jamie and Davis, welcome to the show. Can one of you tell me when the Resource Center was started?

Speaker 3:

The University of Houston's Resource Center was founded in May 2011 and served as a beacon of love and support for the University of Houston's LGBTQ plus community, including both students, faculty and staff, and it had been in existence for about 12 years until its abrupt closure forced closure due to Texas Senate Bill 17, which went into effect in September 1st of this year and ultimately resulted in the disbandment of not only the University of Houston LGBTQ Resource Center, but also the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

And for those unfamiliar with Senate Bill 17,. Can you tell me exactly what it is?

Speaker 3:

Senate Bill 17 required universities to close their diversity, equity and inclusion offices, and it also banned mandatory diversity trainings, restricted hiring departments from asking for diversity statements, essays, pretty much anything related to diversity, inclusion, sexual orientation, gender identity, which is what we're talking about today really confined and restricted in what the university is able to put out there, which in turn resulted in the closure of several departments.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Jamie, I understand you have a very personal and resource center. Can you tell me a little bit of your story?

Speaker 6:

I was a graduate student at the University of Houston in 2014, and during my time as a graduate student, I was able to work at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and during my time there, Lorraine Schrader, who is the current director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, reached out and asked if I could be a mentor in the peer mentor program. Once I got involved with the LGBTQ Resource Center, I absolutely loved it, and when I graduated in 2016, I was hired as the first ever program manager in the space so only the second full-time professional staff member to be hired after the founding director and during that time we were able to build leadership development programs. We were able to host conferences like our gender, the like a community gender infinity conference, and even student-led conferences that were focused on sexuality. A lot of student-led, student-centered, community-focused events and partnerships with community partners like the Truth Project as well. So very much a cherished time for me to have been at the Resource Center from 2016 to 2020. And then now I had the honor of serving as the president of the UH LGBTQ Alumni Association.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

And we should mention that Davis is the vice president, so you actually interacted with students on a very personal level and you heard many stories, some of them with students and colleagues, about struggles with domestic violence, family rejection, addiction, suicide, suicidal discrimination and more. When this airs, we will be past Thanksgiving, but when students are about to go home and they maybe don't have a supportive environment, I imagine that being able to talk to someone was very helpful to them. What are some of the things that really touched you during these conversations?

Speaker 6:

It was actually some of our student-led peer discussions where a lot of this would come up. They were called rainbow chats at the time, and students often would have a lot of anxiety and nervousness and fear about going home, especially if they weren't out and just not knowing. And you know, if you've had a whole semester on campus where, if you haven't been living at home and you've been able to explore your identity and try new pronouns and a new you know gender expression or just be you a little bit more, feel like it's a little bit more jarring for students to all of a sudden have to go home and put that all back in the closet. And so a lot of times they would lean on each other or the staff to kind of process what was their plan for going home, how were they going to cope? A lot of times they would create a little group me so then that way they had a space that you know if they needed to reach out to, you know, a friend or a peer during that time when they were home, that they felt like they were still connected to campus, and so those were times where you know it was rooted in struggle, but it was beautiful to have that community and togetherness and for them to be able to support one another in that way.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

How did the Resource Center benefit them? What was the result of taking part in these conversations?

Speaker 6:

A lot of times finding their community, their forever friends, these people that were exploring, you know, new identities and in a space that's really vulnerable, that just gave them a space where they could feel comfortable to find out who they were, especially if they did come from communities or homes that maybe were less supportive. The I mean the mental health support just can't be ignored as far as being a space where students could come to and feel like they could talk about the shrivels that they were facing and then also just learning about one another as well. And so just because if I was, somebody is a bisexual person and then they were going to this space so they could be a little bit more themselves, but why they were there? They were learning about people who were non-binary and trans and asexual, and so it was just a space of learning and community and support. And Davis was actually a student there, while I was a professional staff and could probably speak more on an undergrad experience as well.

Speaker 3:

Passing of the question, baton Jamie, I love that Very smooth. So, yeah, speaking of rainbow chats, that's an event that I remember fondly as a student because I graduated in 2019, but I hadn't really even come out into my parents until last year because I was still getting a better understanding of myself, of my immunity. I I'd always identified as bisexual, so I attended a rainbow chat that was for bisexual, pansexual and kind of similar sexual orientations and that opened up my entire world. I sat there identifying as bisexual and learning about pansexuality and the community and getting to meet people who identify as either or, and that was really such an eye-opening experience for me because now to this day, I identify as pansexual and I love it so much. I created a reality dating show based on pansexuality and I called it panning for love Like this, and it started I think I can pinpoint two rainbow chats to being in that room, to meeting other people, like-minded people, and bringing my authentic self, proudly and fearlessly, and the Resource Center provided that space for me and I'm eternally grateful for it.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

And both of you went on to become not only ONAI but leaders in the community, and it was that sense of community that was so powerful in that environment. So not only at the University of Houston but all Houston I'm sorry, but all Texas universities have been impacted by this and several of them have found workarounds or some way to still provide services. What is happening at the University of Houston? Either of you can answer.

Speaker 6:

One thing that they did open is the Center for Student Advocacy in Community, and I know that the staff that had previously been at the Center for Resinclusion and the LGBTQ Resource Center are were not let go. The law did not prevent the universities. They could have fired these individuals had they chosen to. We are lucky that they do still are still employed. They are employed at the new Center for Student Advocacy in Community space. What we are still waiting for is what will, what programs will be compliant with the law and still be able to exist? So that is some information we are still waiting on. One of the things that was released was a list of programs that had previously previously existed. It was quite exhaustive, but it included things like the peer mentor program, the coming out monologues, performance that was done the rainbow chats and LGBTQ competency trainings, and all of those things will not continue under the University of Houston Student Affairs departments that we are aware of at this time, and what we anticipate is that that will the burden of these programs, if they are to continue exist, will fall on registered student organizations, alumni associations or potentially, some community partners or corporate sponsors, and what we're hoping is academic departments. We haven't exactly figured out what that looks like and which academic departments would be able to take on what in a compliant way. So we are hoping and eager, especially from the alumni association perspective, to have conversations with leadership and academic partners, as all the partners that I had mentioned earlier, to see how can we preserve as much that existed as far as support services and programs from before so that can continue on for students. We, as far as higher education, right now students and campuses are in a mental health crisis, and I don't know if we want to do a content warning, for this is, but there we have lost current students at the University of Houston as well as alumni, and I think that that can't be ignored. And I think our big focus as an alumni association partner in this is saying that these programs did support and did support mental health of our students, and we know that that is particularly vulnerable for LGBTQ students, and we want to make sure that that still exists on campus, however it can, or as close to campuses it can, and so that is something that is particularly important for us as an alumni association right now.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Right. So statistically, the number of suicides that happen on college campuses is about 1100 a year and that's pretty startling to realize, and also statistically the number of LGBTQ identifying people is higher. So it was a valuable resource to be there and it's good to know that there are people that are still non public universities like Rice not impacted by the bill, but they have felt kind of a brunt of the attitude exist and I think it's important for people to know that student-led organizations can play a role. How does the University of Houston Alumni Association supports being done? Do they offer an aftermath?

Speaker 6:

One of the things that, historically, the Alumni Association has been particularly proud of is providing emergency aid as well as scholarships for current U of H LGBTQ students, and so the emergency aid is particularly for students who have been kicked out or have endured financial hardships because of their identity as being LGBTQ. And then, in addition again, scholarships, whether they be need-based or merit-based, providing financial support for students to get to the University of Houston, thrive while they are there and to graduate. And we do some fundraising through events. Historically, we've done red dinner. We haven't done it since the pandemic, but we're excited to bring it back in April. We've done events like Drag Bingo and right now, we have always been a partner to the LGBTQ Resource Center, or I guess, historically we have always been a partner to the LGBTQ Resource Center for Lavender Graduation, and now, with the, the Resource Center being disbanded, we will now help a student organization called Global Hosts Lavender Graduation, and so Lavender Graduation is a ceremony for LGBTQ students to celebrate the extra barriers that they have overcome to graduate. And also we have some trans-on-binary students or students who aren't out, that they might want to celebrate using the name that that is theirs and their pronouns, or a partner that maybe their parents don't know about. It is a space for them to be acknowledged for all of their identities and their big life milestone. David, feel free to add anything that I may have forgotten or Absolutely.

Speaker 3:

Thank you, jamie, because the only thing that I'd add is that you know, given the abruptness of the Resource Center's disbandments, there have been a lot of unanswered questions about the status and future of, say, events, scholarships, programs and services that were once offered by the HLGVTQ Resource Center. So our Alumni Association penned an open letter to the President and Chancellor of the University of Houston, renuka Tor, and we stated our questions and we're really hoping to get a better understanding of the current status and feasibility of these things that are no longer compliance given SB 17. And we're very fortunate to have heard back from the University of Houston Administration for a meeting that's coming at the end of this month and we're very optimistic that we'll get these questions answered and if not, we're happy to come back to the table for more meetings and learn more and really set the record straight and get the students and LGBTQ community on campus the support that's needed, especially for programs that have gone off by the wayside or not in compliance. Let's see how the Alumni Association can support. Let's see how registered student organizations, academic departments, community nonprofits and corporations how we can step in. I'm hoping to report back after this month with some updates.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Davis, you said you can close our LGBTQ Resource Center, but the LGBTQ community isn't going any and we know that's true. I imagine this has been particularly brutal students that identify as transgender, because, as we know, they are even more attacked in what's going on and it's not. We can't say the Texas legislature, we can say certain members of the Texas legislature, and that would be members of the Republican Party. They even said that having things like the Resource Center were discriminatory, which is incredibly ironic and bizarre, and it's really important that these students have a place they can turn. How do you get the doubt about what you're doing and so that they know that resource for them?

Speaker 3:

You mentioned earlier in the practice of this question, that certain legislators were anti-LGBTQ and were passing these laws, and particularly Republican, but I'd also mentioned that there were several Democratic legislators who crossed the aisle to vote against LGBTQ community members and in favor of SB 17 and similar bills. I definitely would want to elevate the non-partisanship and, in some cases, bipartisanship, of the anti-LGBTQ struggles that we're dealing with, and so I think you bring up the question of how we can bring attention to this and bring it to the forefront and, I think, especially when it comes to political activity and people who are politically engaged, emphasizing that the LGBTQ community is under attack and in some cases it's from both sides of the aisle and if that's what it takes to energize and galvanize individuals to really either, if they're allies, to stand in solidarity with us, if they're in the community, to work with allies and to work within our community to let people know that this is happening, and I think part of it is because of programs like Queer Voices. You allow us an opportunity to spread awareness. Not only is this happening in the University of Houston, this is happening across Texas and we're doing what we can to not only fight back but fill in the gaps. I think that's what we're here for is to fill in the gaps of support that are being left by SB 17. Programs like this, social media, using our mailing lists to let people know what's happening. So I'm very grateful for this opportunity to spread awareness.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Thank you for calling me out about the partisanship, because you are correct, it's people from both sides of the aisle and it behooves us as a community to make sure we contact our elected representatives and tell them our views to lobby programs such as the Resource Center and there to be resources for a diversity of people that campus. So that's really important to remind people. It takes all of us work together. How can and Jamie R Davis, you can answer this how can people who are not really affiliated with the University be supported?

Speaker 6:

I think if it is particularly individuals that are looking to support the University of Houston, we are actively fundraising for our emergency aid and scholarships this year, and so, if people felt so inclined to donate to the UH LGBTQ Alumni Association, again those are. We are trying to build up our funding for emergency aid, scholarships, but also, with us taking on the unexpected costs and planning for lavender graduation, we are trying to fundraise for those activities, but also to Davis's. In. Your point as well is that this is not just affecting the University of Houston. As of January 1. Most spaces that exist for these purposes or programming will be closed, and so, if you happen to be your local city or your alma mater, if there are similar things happening on your campus, see how you can get involved with their alumni association or start an LGBTQ Alumni Association to see how can you, as a community member, either be building up resources that are being maybe left behind, or how you can help contribute any skills or resources that you have to support from off campus. And there's clearly a lot more than that, but I just think, if you haven't gotten involved in that way, that is an outlet that can exist right now that can do the programming and services to support, while some campuses are still trying to figure out how they are responding and how they are going to be adjusting. And, Davis, I wasn't sure if you had more ideas that you wanted to share as well.

Speaker 3:

The only thing that comes to mind is whether it's, you know, financial support or just being a part of our mailing list so you can stay in the know of our upcoming programs, events, fundraisers. I'd encourage people to check out rainbowcoogscom. That's going to send you to our alumni interest form where you can submit your name, your email and you'll be added to our mailing list and you'll be kept in the know and updated about what we have coming up.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

I think that it's really wonderful that you're continuing this work for your university. What are some of the additional goals that you have? Either of you can add.

Speaker 3:

One of the goals that comes to mind is almost immediately in the next 10 days is our meeting with the University of Houston administration and campus partners. Very optimistic that this is going to go well and that we're going to get a lot of questions answered and we're going to be able to find out how we can move forward with a lot of the programs that can no longer exist as they have in the past. Given SB 17's passage and letting this be not only be end, all be all, but maybe the first of many meetings that we have to build that stronger connection with our alumni association and the LGBTQ community on campus, with the campus administrators Bridging that gap, just so that students know that, even though the resource center may not be there, the administration is there for them. I think any form of support and solidarity could go a long way and that's what I'm hoping we can accomplish with this meeting.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Are there any particular other messages that you want to make sure the listeners know?

Speaker 6:

Davis mentioned, we'll be meeting with UH administration and leadership soon to talk about just where some of these programs and services have existed. But also we're looking to potentially host a roundtable with our community partners, our student leaders, our faculty, our maybe corporate sponsors to say this is what has existed and this is where our gaps are and where students are saying priorities and needs are, and so if there's any individuals that are particularly interested in being a part of that roundtable and figuring out how you can play a part in supporting and services and in programming for students, I would say email us at uhbrambocougs at gmailcom and we would love to talk to you and make sure that you are invited to the conversation.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Davis, do you have anything to add to that?

Speaker 3:

The only thing I'd like to add is Thank you, deborah, and the Queer Voices team for elevating this issue and uplink it for your community and your audience, and thank you to the audience for listening, and we hope that you can stay vigilant and be on the lookout for what's going on in Texas and in your communities and, if you're an ally, create that solidarity, show up. And if you're in the community, we're here and we're queer and we love you. We belong.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

Tell me a little bit more about lavender graduation. Exactly what does that mean?

Speaker 6:

Lavender graduation is a ceremony for LGBTQ plus graduates and allies to come and celebrate the milestone of graduation, particularly with the extra barriers that tend to come with it being a member of the community, whether that is your family support, whether that was just extra stressors that you know while you're trying to study for finals, or if that comes with financial hardships or even being kicked out, and so it is a space where students can come. They can use their preferred name, their preferred pronouns, they can invite whoever they want and they don't have to worry about whether you know they're going to be outed in this space. But it's truly just a celebration of LGBTQ plus and ally students that are graduating, and they can receive a rainbow or a lavender cord and a certificate and celebrate with their community, and then us, as alumni association, welcome them to our community and we welcome them with open arms.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

To either of you. Is there anything I didn't ask about that to say?

Speaker 6:

If there are any alumni listening, we are actively recruiting for a red dinner co-chair, for some fundraising efforts and a director of operations. So again, if you're interested in being involved with the Alumni Association directly or just as a community partner looking to support UH LGBTQ students, please reach out. We would love to have a chat with you.

Deborah Moncrief Bell:

This is Deborah Moncrease Bell, and you're listening voices.

Glenn Holt:

Part of our Queer Voices Community listens on KPFT, which is a non-profit 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 Queer Voicesorg. This is Queer Voices. Martha, what that fellow on the wireless? Just say Something about him. Interwebs. You don't have to ask Martha. We've got all the names, dates and webpage links for people, events and anything else mentioned in the show right on our own website. It's Queer Voicesorg. We even link to past shows and other tidbits of information, so check it out, queer Voicesorg. Besides, martha is a cat. She doesn't know anything about websites.

Speaker 5:

I'm Joe Bainline and I'm Alayna Botkin-Levy with News Wrap a summary of some of the news in or affecting LGBTQ communities around the world for the week ending November 18, 2023. The Church of England is going to experiment on lesbian and gay couples. By a single vote this week, the Church's General Synod approved a trial for special services to bless queer partners. The services will look much like the wedding ceremonies of heterosexual couples, with music, readings and other celebratory elements. However, they won't be considered official church wedding ceremonies. Clergy will not be obligated to perform them. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is the titular leader of the global Anglican Communion. He joined amendment supporter Archbishop of York, Stephen Cattrell, in a statement that read in part we have heard loud and clear, through an extensive debate over two days, the depth of feeling across the church on these hugely important questions. While this motion was passed narrowly, we do not underestimate the depth of feeling and will reflect on all that we have heard as we seek to move forward together. Welby and Cattrell have reason to be defensive. Their statement anticipates the outrage of more traditionalist Anglicans who maintain that romantic, same-gender love is always sinful. Those objections come mostly from the southern hemisphere. There's also opposition within the Church of England itself. To Daniel Matavu, the experiment is contrary to and wholly inconsistent with God's word. The barrister and lame member of the general Synod said during debate that the Bible makes it clear that a man who sleeps with another man cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. The Church of England still teaches that marriage is exclusively heterosexual. It's not yet clear when the first church blessings of queer couples will be held. Some believe it could be in early 2024. The experiment is expected to take about two years before the services are fully authorized. Reverend Canon John Donette leads the Church of England Evangelical Council and gave this warning. It will tear local parish congregations apart, damage the relationship between large numbers of clergy and their bishops and cause churches across the dioceses to feel as though their shepherds have abandoned them. Despite the apparent breakthrough, queer faith activist Jane Ozan of the general Synod believes the Church of England remains deeply homophobic, whatever bishops and archbishop say In her words, I fear that much of the nation will judge the Church of England as being abusive, hypocritical and unloving. They are sadly correct.

Speaker 7:

Activists are not buying the official explanation of the shocking death of Latin America's first out non-binary judge. Jesus Asiel Baena was found dead in their home on November 13th beside a second body identified as Baena's romantic partner, Darian Donnie Nieves. Thousands of people marched through Mexico City the following night to demand justice for the trailblazer. Police in the central Mexican state of Aguas Calientes believe that Nieves killed Baena in a crime of passion and then took their own life. Baena's family and some LGBTQ advocacy groups questioned that conclusion. Baena's appointment to the state electoral tribunal in October last year was heralded as historic for a country known for its machismo and rigid gender role expectations. Earlier this year, Baena was among the first group of people to be issued a gender-neutral passport. It's no surprise that their groundbreaking career brought repeated death threats. According to police officials, Baena had 20 separate razor blade wounds, including the likely fatal slash across their neck. Their family and queer activists are urging police officials to investigate both deaths as possible hate crimes. Former Chief Justice of Mexico's Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldívar, mourned Baena's death on the platform known to everyone except Elon Musk as Twitter. He wrote we lost a powerful voice for equality and the rights of LGBTI plus people.

Speaker 5:

The 11th semi-quadrenial Gay Games wrapped up in Hong Kong on November 11th and it was the first queer Olympic competition ever held in Asia. Hong Kong organizers faced more obstacles than many of their predecessors. They survived the COVID pandemic, which postponed the competition. They faced political and cultural opposition to holding such a blatantly queer event in China, as local city officials got heat from Beijing to find a way to stop it. Efforts to ban the games on national security grounds failed. Some human rights groups called for a boycott because the clampdown on freedoms in Hong Kong has gotten worse in recent years. Taiwanese athletes decided against coming to Hong Kong for fear of being arrested. Mainland China refuses to acknowledge their country's independence. 36 different sports, arts and cultural events were originally planned. Health and political uncertainties eventually trimmed the number down to 18 competitions, ranging from Dragon Boat races to Ma Zhong. The flagship Dragon Boat races featured more than 500 participants on 44 teams rowing down the Xingmu River. One in four of those teams came from overseas. Some 2,400 competitors participated in the Hong Kong Gay Games. Organizers say the bumpy road ahead of the event led to fewer competitors than expected and smaller venue crowds. Director of sports Ban Ying told Out Sports it all revolves around uncertainty which prevents you from wanting to commit. Co-president of the Federation of Gay Games. Joni Evans still praised the Hong Kong hosted event as the best games ever. She called the organization and competition perfect, setting a benchmark for future events. The next Gay Games is set for the Spanish city of Valencia from May 31st to June 6th 2026.

Speaker 7:

The US Supreme Court is refusing to back Republican Governor Ron DeSantis' efforts to outlaw family-friendly drag shows in Florida. The nation's top court voted 6-3 not to grant an emergency request to overturn lower courts that had blocked enforcement of the ban. The majority did not provide any reasons for the November 16 decision. The three dissenting judges were the court's most conservative members, clarence Thomas, samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. They urged their fellow justices to consider Florida's request to review the law. While agreeing with the majority, justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote Florida's stay. Application to this court does not raise a First Amendment issue. Therefore, the court's denial of the stay indicates nothing about our view on whether Florida's new law violates the First Amendment. A district judge citing First Amendment free speech grounds had blocked the ban from taking effect. The vaguely written law bans minors from attending adult live performances and includes an ill-defined prohibition of lewd conduct. Drag shows are not specifically targeted. A three-judge panel of the generally conservative 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals let that temporary injunction stand. The court ruling still blocks enforcement of the law anywhere in the state of Florida. The legal challenge to the law was brought by the Orlando location of the Hamburger Marys restaurant chain. Its family-friendly Sunday drag brunch shows are usually sold out. Their case now returns to the full bench of the 11th Circuit Appeals Court for review.

Speaker 5:

According to the Hill, Finally, are 1 million moms really against Macy's iconic Santa Claus? The organization's number has never actually been verified, but it's circulating an online petition condemning the department store's world-famous Thanksgiving Day parade. To them, it's a non-binary and transgender extravaganza. They've set their sights on performances from two Broadway musicals along the parade route. In Juliet, the main character's best friend is a non-binary character named May. May is currently being played by the real-life non-binary actor Justin David Sullivan. The moms also target Shucked Gender non-conforming actor. Alex Newell from the TV series Glee plays the female character Lulu. Macy's issued a statement in strong support of its diversity. For nearly 100 years, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade has showcased the very best in entertainment the lighting Americans everywhere with the most popular music acts, the best of Broadway, our country's finest marching bands and dance teams, and giant balloons and floats that capture your imagination. We look forward to celebrating this iconic Thanksgiving tradition again next week. One mom who's not one of the million will usher in the arrival of Santa Claus in the prestigious finale of the parade Superstar Cher, who also has a transgender son named Chaz.

Speaker 7:

That's News Wrap, global queer news with attitude for the week ending November 18th 2023. Follow the news in your area and around the world. An informed community is a strong community.

Speaker 5:

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

Speaker 7:

Thank you. Help keep us in ears around the world at ThisWayOutorg, where you can also read the text of this newscast and much more. For this Way Out, I'm Elena Botkin-Levy. Stay healthy.

Speaker 5:

And I'm Joe Bainline, stay safe.

Glenn Holt:

This has been Queer Voices, which is now a home-produced podcast and available from several podcasting sources. Check our webpage QueerVoicesorg. For more information. Queer Voices executive producer is Brian Levinca, andrew Edmanson and Deborah Moncrief Bell, our frequent contributors. The News Wrap segment is part of another podcast called this Way Out, which is produced in Los Angeles. 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. For Queer Voices. I'm Glenn Holt.

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