Queer Voices

February 21st 2024 Queer Voices

February 21, 2024 Queer Voices
February 21st 2024 Queer Voices
Queer Voices
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Queer Voices
February 21st 2024 Queer Voices
Feb 21, 2024
Queer Voices

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As we sit down with the remarkable Atlantis Narcisse, her story unfolds, revealing the heart and soul she pours into Save Our Sisters United and her crucial role as a house mother. This week's conversation is nothing short of inspiring as we honor her nomination for Grand Marshal at Houston's Pride 365 Parade and delve into her commitment to offering stigma-free spaces for HIV/STD testing. Witness a powerful reflection on the importance of Atlantis's visibility as a black trans woman over 50, leaving an indelible mark on Houston's LGBTQ+ community.

The air buzzes with anticipation for the Annual Walk to End HIV, where we come together in an expression of support and unity. Atlantis shares with us the vibrant ways the community participates, from the whimsy of unicycling to the charm of a dog dressing contest. The conversation takes a poignant turn as we remember those we've lost to AIDS and celebrate the progress in HIV treatment and housing as a cornerstone of healthcare. Atlantis's voice carries the weight and warmth of experience as she reminisces about the evolution of support services like the Stone Soup food pantry and the declining young attendance at Camp Hope, a testament to advancements in HIV prevention.

The episode takes a creative twist with Alan Cumming, who offers an exclusive glimpse into his show "Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age," a captivating blend of storytelling, music, and musings on the art of growing older with flair. We then transition to the sobering story of the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, reimagined in the powerful play "Tide," with insights from actor Jason Carmichael and director Bruce Lumpkin. The narrative comes full circle as we round out the episode with global LGBTQ+ rights updates, highlighting triumphs and acknowledging hurdles in the universal quest for equality. Remember to join us on our new journey as a home-produced podcast, where we continue to amplify these vital conversations.

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.

As we sit down with the remarkable Atlantis Narcisse, her story unfolds, revealing the heart and soul she pours into Save Our Sisters United and her crucial role as a house mother. This week's conversation is nothing short of inspiring as we honor her nomination for Grand Marshal at Houston's Pride 365 Parade and delve into her commitment to offering stigma-free spaces for HIV/STD testing. Witness a powerful reflection on the importance of Atlantis's visibility as a black trans woman over 50, leaving an indelible mark on Houston's LGBTQ+ community.

The air buzzes with anticipation for the Annual Walk to End HIV, where we come together in an expression of support and unity. Atlantis shares with us the vibrant ways the community participates, from the whimsy of unicycling to the charm of a dog dressing contest. The conversation takes a poignant turn as we remember those we've lost to AIDS and celebrate the progress in HIV treatment and housing as a cornerstone of healthcare. Atlantis's voice carries the weight and warmth of experience as she reminisces about the evolution of support services like the Stone Soup food pantry and the declining young attendance at Camp Hope, a testament to advancements in HIV prevention.

The episode takes a creative twist with Alan Cumming, who offers an exclusive glimpse into his show "Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age," a captivating blend of storytelling, music, and musings on the art of growing older with flair. We then transition to the sobering story of the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, reimagined in the powerful play "Tide," with insights from actor Jason Carmichael and director Bruce Lumpkin. The narrative comes full circle as we round out the episode with global LGBTQ+ rights updates, highlighting triumphs and acknowledging hurdles in the universal quest for equality. Remember to join us on our new journey as a home-produced podcast, where we continue to amplify these vital conversations.

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/

Speaker 1:

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, deborah Montcreeff-Bell has a conversation with Atlantis Narcisse, one of the grand Marshall nominees for this year's Pride 365 Parade. Then Deborah has a conversation with Jeffrey Campbell about the 35th annual Walk to End HIV coming up in March.

Speaker 2:

This is a great fundraiser that has been around again for 35 years, and we're looking forward to March 3rd when we will be out walking again for this great cause.

Speaker 1:

Brett Cullum has an interview with Alan Cumming, who will be doing a one-man show in Houston next month.

Speaker 3:

Why is it that we as a culture have decided that getting older is the worst possible thing that can happen to us, when, of course, it's the only thing that is inevitable in our lives apart from death? And I just am really curious about that and I just I exhort people to stay open to life and to experience and to not close themselves down and think I'm too old for that.

Speaker 1:

Deborah has a conversation with Bruce Lumpkin, the director, and Jason Carmichael, the actor, about the play Tide, which starts tonight at Bering Church.

Speaker 4:

When we did the show at Ensemble, reverend Diane McGee of the Bering Church saw it and afterwards she said you know, I'd really like to do this next year at my church during Black History Month. And I said, well, that's really a lovely thought, but where exactly would we do it? And she said well, how about in the sanctuary?

Speaker 1:

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

Speaker 5:

This is Deborah Minecraft Bell and I'm speaking with Alantis Narcisse, who is a nominee for Houston Pride 365 Grand Marshal female identifying. Alantis is the founder and CEO of Save Our Sisters United, director of programs with the Transgender Education Network of Texas and deputy director with Les Rock. She's worked for the Montrose Center, the legacy community health in the city of Houston, bridging the gap between community and needed services since the early 1990s, During the years of the HIV epidemic. Alantis was known for organizing accessible and stigma-free HIV STD testing, whether it was from her living room to partnering with local clinics. You began your journey decades ago as a house mother who held space for people who needed a comfortable, judgment-free environment for medical aid. This house, the Alantis birth, was created to close the familiar gap that many members of the LGBTQ plus community experience with respect to their birth or legal families, and is lovingly called the House of Capri Alantis. Explain what a house mother is.

Speaker 6:

A house mother. For me, a house mother is to be there to fill in gaps, as you mentioned, but also to add this layer of support, of nourishing, empowering and uplifting people. Like a lot of times, people don't realize that when we enter into this community, sometimes our birth families are left behind and you're looking for a place to belong that collective. So for me, to be that house mother was to help take care of your real life, not your club life, not anything else but your real life and to see you as a person and empower you. So that's my definition for a house mother.

Speaker 5:

For me, Explain what Save Our Sisters United is.

Speaker 6:

Save Our Sisters United is actually a brainchild of birth from my heart. What people don't realize was that I was really part of a support system that helped navigate trans women to get healthy HRTs, to remove them from using street loans to get them in doctor's care. So what I started seeing was that a lot of people kept reaching out to me after I would leave the club and I was like, what happens if I'm not here? So the SOS was supposed to be like this call to action share our strength, see our strength, shed our shame and all these types of things. So SOSU started with the trans women of color and then we eventually started SOSU, which is the umbrella which SOS lives up under, as well as SOSB, which is for trans men, trans Ending Gaming, which is a social event for the community to come in and socialize and build community.

Speaker 5:

What does being nominated for grand marshal mean to you?

Speaker 6:

You know, debra, I have been thinking about that a lot. What has meant for me? I think I said early on that thanks for seeing me. A lot of times we are doing the work and people don't see us and they only see our body of work and not the body that does the work. So for me to be seen in Houston, texas, as a black trans woman over 50 plus, it is phenomenal, it is heartwarming. It also makes me realize that I am not forgotten, if that makes sense, that I still have some type of presence within our community.

Speaker 5:

Well, I would think you would be hard to forget. And when you said over 50, my automatic response was oh, you are not. What is your past experience with Pride?

Speaker 6:

My past experience. I got the pleasure to be along with Monica, Dee Dee and Andrea to walk along in Pride for the 50 years of Stonewall. That was great. That whole event was such so many events of connecting, getting to share history. I am getting to hear history, getting to experience that and introduce yourself over again as a person. Like I said, we are seeing for our body of work and not the body, but it feels good to just have that interpersonal relationships and those moments at all those events and it just feels good representing Houston, to be honest.

Speaker 5:

When you are a native Houstonian and you got your degree in sociology at TSU. You are representing in so many ways, so many levels. Do you think that Pride is relevant?

Speaker 6:

Oh God, yes, definitely. I definitely feel like Pride is relevant. I think anything that shows the diversity and our expressions of our queerness is relevant, I don't care how big, how small it is. I think Pride has been sustainable for me definitely in my life of being aware of my queerness here in Pride and knowing its existence has made me feel like, yeah, I am relevant. That we are seeing, that the city of Houston sees us, that the nation sees us, because there are Pride all across the nation. So Pride is beyond something relevant. I think it's also empowering, uplifting and impactful to those to come and those that are presently queer.

Speaker 5:

The theme this year is you won't break our Pride. What does that mean for you?

Speaker 6:

Especially after the year we have had as trans people. You won't break us. I think that means that no matter what you say, what you do, we are resilient. We are not going anywhere. Though you may take these superficial attacks at us, we are stronger and we are even stronger together. Not breaking us, meaning that we are our own joy. You don't get to govern that but bending us and tearing us down, because we uplift and empower each other. We are our own ecosystem of all that and that you have no access to that, no matter what you do on the outer walls.

Speaker 5:

This is Deborah Munn Creek Bell and I'm talking with Atlantis Narcisse, one of the nominees for Pride Grand Martial Female Identifying. What would you say?

Speaker 6:

your number one achievement in the community is I have really believed that my number one contributor is uplifting the narratives of Black trans women here in Houston. As many people may know, it was three Black trans women that really started the narrative of Black trans women here in Houston myself, dee, dee and Monica and I'm the only one left in Houston right now. So I am glad that Black voices, especially those of Black trans bodies, are being heard, those narratives are being seen and the importance of why narratives need to be expressed and heard and taken care of. So, yes, I feel like me just being present, creating that doing the work that I have done is the most valuable thing I could have ever done, because we started the conversation.

Speaker 5:

Tell me who Dee Dee is and who about Monica.

Speaker 6:

Monica Roberts. I have been having so many conversations about Monica. Monica was really the push behind getting narratives out there about trans murders as well as anything that was anti-trans. She was a beast when it came to the political arena, which I am not, so thank you, monica, for holding that down. And Dee Dee was definitely another beast for on-ground advocacy for trans people, as well as going into places like healthcare city of Houston healthcare departments to battle for us to be able to use the bathroom. So there are a lot of things that we have all done and contributed. I used to call myself the Harriet Tubman of the movement because I just felt like, hey, we could do this. But now that I am the only one here in Houston, sometimes I just have to come from underground which I have been doing for the past ten years and really show on my face.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, so unfortunately, we lost Monica several years ago. Monica Roberts, who was indeed a force of nature. And what is Dee Dee's last name? Waters, that's right, couldn't think of it for a moment there. We do miss those that aren't with us, but they also gave us inspiration to carry on. Is there anything that I did not ask you about that you want folks to know?

Speaker 6:

I would just want people to know that right now, any attacks or anything that's coming toward queerness is not a me agenda, it's a we agenda, and that we are stronger together, as we have always shown in history and we will continue to show that, and that we are all powerful in our own spaces and we are all each Grand Marshals in somebody's eyes.

Speaker 5:

Thank you for being with us on Queer Voices.

Speaker 1:

Voting for Grand Marshals takes place through the month of March by going to pridehuston365.org and clicking on the Grand Marshall tab. There you can see the profiles and cast your vote.

Speaker 5:

You're listening to Queer Voices and I'm talking with Jeffrey Campbell. Jeffrey is the CEO of Allies in Hope and I guess we still have to say formerly AIDS Foundation Houston, so that people are sure to understand that it's a continuation of a long-serving community organization. We're going to talk about the 35th annual walk to end HIV. Jeffrey, things have sure changed over the last 35 years since the walk first started. Please follow us and say what the walk is.

Speaker 2:

Deb, I really appreciate the introduction. Thank you for including AIDS Foundation Houston in my introduction. Although we branded as Allies in Hope last year in May, we are the organization formerly known as AIDS Foundation Houston. This is the foundation upon which this current 2024 organization was built upon, as well as this 35th annual Walk to in HIV. So the Walk itself is a way to do it.

Speaker 2:

It is to continue to bring awareness to the reality that we are still with HIV as an epidemic in the United States, around the world and even right here in Houston. In addition to awareness, it also gives us an opportunity to bring together individuals who do this work in various ways every day to help us get closer to ending the HIV epidemic in the Houston area. And then, finally, it gives us an opportunity to fundraise, because most organizations that are doing this work do not. We don't always have all of the money that we need to impact the lives that are being affected by HIV, and so this is a great fundraiser that has been around again for 35 years, and we're looking forward to March 3rd when we will be out walking again for this great cause.

Speaker 5:

The Walk kind of marks an anniversary for you, since you took on the position of CEO even though you had been with the organization longer than that. So congratulations on your first year.

Speaker 2:

Thank you very much. You're absolutely right. I started in the position of CEO last year. March 1st Walk was my really first public facing event that year, and so it is coming up on my first year internship.

Speaker 5:

For many years the Walk coincided with the time change when we spring forward, so you had to get up really early to be there. Plus you had lost an hour. So I'm so glad to see that it's not going to be the same this year and I guess you finally caught on that. Hey, we need to rethink this.

Speaker 2:

Yes, you and me both.

Speaker 5:

The Walk will start at Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston. Tell me where does the Walk go to?

Speaker 2:

The gates open at 9am Sunday, march 3rd, and we'll start walking at Sam Houston Park and the Walk down Allen Parkway. I believe it is about a three mile walk, so we'll turn around right at Walk. We'll do the turnaround there on the bridge and we'll start heading back towards Sam Houston Park where we'll have a small after party and celebration.

Speaker 5:

And we do have to be careful talking about fundraising, since KPFT has to raise its own funds. What is the process that is used for people to raise funds this way?

Speaker 2:

Individuals, whether they want to give individual contribution or if they want to create a team. They can go to our walk website, which is wwwwalk2endhivhustinorg. And you can go to wwwwalk2endhivhustinorg and you can make a contribution, or you can sign your team up or set yourself up to sponsor a team on that website.

Speaker 5:

I understand Brian Levinca is hosting a team from his place of employment, and that's one way you can do it. You also don't have to come to the Walk. You can still participate in a number of ways, but what happens when someone's in the Walk? Is everyone trying to get from the start to the finish as quickly as they can, or what's going on?

Speaker 2:

It really depends on who you are. Some people run the course. Some individuals walk with a group, and so they're going to hang out with their group. Others will walk as an individual and they'll either walk slowly or they'll walk quickly. And we actually have a board with Chris Lewis who rides his unicycle for Walk every year, and this year, I want to add. We always have lots of folks who come out with their pet puppies and dogs, so this year we're going to have a dog dressing contest, so whoever comes out and has their dog dressed to the nines for Walk, there's going to be a prize for that dog and that owner.

Speaker 5:

Oh, that sounds like a lot of fun and, as a human being where I had, where sunshades, where sunscreen protect yourself, You've got someone very exciting that's going to kick the day off by singing the national anthem. And who might that be?

Speaker 2:

That is wonderful, cam Franklin with the suffers. We are so excited that Cam has said yes to this opportunity to not only sing the national anthem, the front end walk, but Cam will also be doing a couple of numbers with her band once all of our walkers get back into the park at the end of Walk. So we're excited.

Speaker 5:

And that usually is around from 1130 to 1230. And that's when the post party begins. So not only do you get to get some exercise and fresh air and be in community with lots of people there for the same reason you're there, but you get to have a little party afterwards. And then there's another party. It's a party.

Speaker 2:

So the after party is going to be at Kiki Houston, located at 2409 Grinch Street in the Montrose area. Christopher Berry is the owner of Kiki Houston and they are agreeing to allow us to host the post walk party in full bloom at Kiki Houston. We're excited.

Speaker 5:

Christopher, with Kiki's and buddies, has just been a wonderful supporter in the community. Lots of events take place there and it's really become a staple in the community. I mentioned that things are very different now than they were 35 years ago and I was thinking my gosh. I think 1982 was when the AIDS epidemic started. I remember reading the newspaper article with this headline about this rare cancer being seen. I've been involved as a member of the community and also worked with the support group at Bering Church for a number of years. All of us that were around remember those very, very dark days when the diagnosis of AIDS or HIV you know it went from HIV to AIDS fairly quickly. A whole generation of young men died. That's one reason I never lie about my age. I'm glad that I was able to live when there were so many others that did not get to. But what are some of the other changes that have taken place in these years and what exactly is allies and hope doing?

Speaker 2:

So that, first of all, thanks for being a part of that energy and effort that was needed when we first started to be so severely impacted by this epidemic back in 1881 and 1882. Thank you for that and that. You know, 1982 is when this organization, allies and hope, we were launched as the Carposi-Sarcoma Committee by a group of employees that were working in Anderson and what we were seeing in the early days certainly were individuals getting an HIV diagnosis and, within a matter of months, being diagnosed with AIDS and, within a few months of that, having passed away. There needed to be a lot of work on the science and medicine side to develop drugs that the body could withstand, because a lot of the early drugs were really very rough on the body. So, developing that research, addressing stigma, the stigma that has been attached to, you know, our queer community, regardless of how we identify what we see now at allies and hope, our mission is still to end the HIV epidemic.

Speaker 2:

Greater Houston area and within that, what we're seeing now is we are clearly understand that a person living with HIV who has a suppressed viral is scientifically unable to transmit virus to another person through sex. Now what that means and what has happened to enable. That is the medication, and so you know it's important for persons living with HIV to get on a treatment regimen as soon as possible and take the medication. Testing is also important, and we provide HIV testing as well as testing for other sexually transmitted infections chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis C.

Speaker 5:

Do you still maintain a food pantry?

Speaker 2:

Thank you, deb. Yes, stone soup. We actually have stone soup in two locations at our midtown location, which is located at 2328 Fanon, right at Fanon and Hadley, and then we also still have a stone soup location at our West Park location out in Southwest Houston. So, stone soup we are providing food for individuals who have food security. We also provide housing for individuals that are experiencing housing insecure, and that's regardless of an HIV status. We do believe that housing is health care, that individuals who are living with HIV that are housed are more likely to be on treatment, treatment adherent and virally suppressed.

Speaker 2:

We have Camp Hope. I love Camp Hope. So Camp Hope is a camp that was started 27 years ago in an effort to create a safe space one week in the summer for children living with HIV, and 27 years later we're still going at it with camp and we have some very longstanding, amazing camp counselors who come back every year excited to see the kids and Deb I want to add this because this speaks to science as well as to camp. When camp was started, there were a lot of young kids seven and eight and nine year olds who were a part of camp. I will say that many of those kids grew up and some of them now come back and serve as camp counselors as young adults.

Speaker 2:

But the other thing is, as we look at the demographic of camp, we're seeing fewer and fewer young children who are coming to camp while living with HIV, and that's because of the science that enables a mother, through medication treatment, to be able to deliver that child without fear of that child having contracted HIV on the mom. So we're seeing fewer and fewer kids seven and eight, nine year olds. But on the other end of as we have teenagers who are sexually active, and many of them, we are seeing a rise in the number of teenage and young adult HIV cases. We're seeing, you know, more individuals on that end. So the work continues and Camp Hope continues to serve a purpose for our children, our teenagers and our young adults who are living with HIV.

Speaker 5:

This is Deborah Moncrief-Bell and we're talking with Jeffrey Campbell, CEO of Allies in Hope. Let's just go again. It seems to me you have a very modest fundraising goal for what all is needed because of all the services that you do provide and the work that's being done. The Walk to End HIV in Houston the 35th year. Tell me the dates, Give me all the dates, Jeffrey.

Speaker 2:

Well, let me give you the details. So this is the 35th annual Walk to End HIV sponsored by Allies in Hope, and, in addition, we're going to kick off Sunday morning at nine o'clock. The park will open, there'll be some light bites and fruits and fruits and coffee that will be out there and, of course, water, because we want to stay hydrated. And then, you know, the walk will kick off with a Sing Up, the National Anthem talked about by Cam Franklin. I'll have an opportunity to do some remarks. You'll also hear from our board chair, who is Kyle Pierce, and we've also invited some other individuals who are representing our city and our county to come out and be able to provide us, I would say, words of encouragement and words that I think help us to focus on why we'll go there on March 3rd. And, in addition, you know there'll be Walk T-shirts that will be available.

Speaker 2:

I think that's fun. We most people now they will do their contributions online, but we will have an opportunity for End of May contributions once they get to the park. It's going to be fun. Last year I'm serious and you would have the sun was shining. That was not a cloud in the sky, there was a little bit of a chill that made it just comfortable enough for us to walk and not break out in a full blown sweat. So I'm hoping that this year we have the same the same weather that we did last year.

Speaker 5:

You got it. I'm in charge of the weather that day and you've got it Well. Thanks for being with us to tell us about this important event. You're listening to Queer Voices.

Speaker 8:

I am Brett Cullum and today, on Queer Voices, we say welcome and bienvenue and welcome to a star of the West End, broadway, the big screen, the small screen, and author, a pansexual sex symbol and a fashion icon. This man reinvented the MC from cabaret. He was part of the X-Men, he was a star of the TV show instinct. He's hosted the Tonys, he's been with James Bond, tom Cruise, he is the host of the reality sensation, the traitors. He's been in countless movies and he's coming to Houston for two nights at the hobby center on March 6th and 7th. Alan coming, do you feel good? I bet you do. Welcome to Queer Voices.

Speaker 3:

I see what you did there. Thank you very much.

Speaker 8:

Well, tell me about your one-man show that's coming up as part of the Beyond Broadway series. It's presented by Broadway at the hobby center and it's called Alan coming is not acting his age. What can we expect?

Speaker 3:

Well it's, it's a. I guess it's sort of like an old-fashioned cabaret. I, it's me and Clearly, and I have a band and I sing songs and tell stories, all under the theme of the umbrella of sort of you know, getting older and what is age, to appropriateness and you know, just like things that happen to you, things I've noticed about getting older and mostly about why is it that we as a Culture have decided that getting older is the worst possible thing that can happen to us, when, of course, it's the only thing that is inevitable in our lives apart from death, and I just I'm really curious about that and I just I exhort people to stay open to life and to experience and to not close themselves down and think I'm too old for that. That's yeah. So it's like it's hopefully an uplifting evening with sort of provoking and and also lots of funny stories and songs.

Speaker 8:

I'm totally looking forward to because, you know, I heard a young guy say I'm 23. I'm old and I was like when does this come?

Speaker 3:

from. So it's something I was like. I mean, some I can't remember was recently. Someone said, yeah, there's 35, but they're still really hot. Let's just replay that and see which bit of that sentence I find utterly offensive. Thank you, it's hilarious and I think it's this thing that everybody feels they should start saying. You know, they say, oh, I'm too old for that or oh, I can't do that now. I'm, you know, in my put ever 40s, 50s, 30s. It's just ridiculous. And people. And then I love when kids say, like 22 years, oh, I can't drink it like I used to. I don't like that. I mean drinking by year.

Speaker 8:

Well, let me ask you this have you ever been?

Speaker 3:

to Texas before. Yes, I've been, I've played, you know, I've done concerts before in Dallas and San Antonio and Also I've shot a few films in in Austin. So yes, I have a little history with Texas.

Speaker 8:

So you kind of know what to expect. You're not gonna be freaked out when you see all the cowboys coming down the streets or anything like that.

Speaker 3:

No, I've been to because when I is it in Dallas, when they have that bar where it's the cowboy country dancing bar, but you got hold the whole down bar. Oh yes, we have many of those, yeah, and there's and there's one that's got, has tacos, sells tacos in the middle of the bar, which I loved by. I just loved all these big cowboys with their hats all Dancing away. I thought it was great. And they're on all making out with each other as well.

Speaker 8:

So what are some of your favorite songs to perform in the cabaret?

Speaker 3:

Some of my favorite songs that I well, I do cut a few mashups. I enjoy a mashup because it means you get, you know, more songs for your back, and I do. I kind of end the show with a mashup of how did we come to this? From the wild party, and it goes into maybe this time from Cabaret. So I that on and it's really because they're very structurally Sort of the chord structures are very similar and when I start it I know that people think I'm going to sing, maybe this time by the chord, by the core introduction, and I don't. And then I do so I love my little tease as well. And then I, yeah, I sing a del song which is really beautiful when we were young, and I love singing that.

Speaker 3:

But it's also really tough to sing because it's sort of it's one I mean the thing about doing something like this. I sing, you know, very emotional songs and so and it's it's, depending on how I'm feeling and how sort of emotional and volatile or I'm being, it's some of them are pretty tough to get through and I, you know, have to really act them and really be in them. Like I said, it's, you know, being in the moment is the most important thing to be as an artist? I think so. It's there's there. I love singing them, but there's something I'm a bit scared of them as well, because I sometimes, you know, lose it a little bit, like just get a bit teary and and it's. And you have to be able to both be free to be emotional but also to be able to rain in, so you don't just start blubbing all over the place.

Speaker 8:

You know you are really identified with reinventing the MC and cabaret back, way back. But how did you end up in that? Because I noticed that you kind of started in Scottish TV first, then you moved into theater and you really weren't doing like musical theater. So how did you end up in cabaret of all things, in a part that sings only yes?

Speaker 3:

I it is weird, I it was really some mendes' fault. I he asked me, I was, I was, I did in London first of all, and I was about 28 or something and he asked me to do it and I was, I was playing Hamlet that year and I was a bit sniffy about that. You know I don't do musicals. And and then also I just sort of said to I just, oh, I don't think this is for me, it does, I don't want. This is such a. This subject matter is so delicate and so visceral. I don't really want to.

Speaker 3:

Sometimes I worry that the musical form can sort of demean Subject matter, sometimes because of the strictures of you know you have to have, but don't, and you have to have. You know Little songs and you have to. You know You've got this sort of that. I want song and all these things, and sometimes I don't think that works well for certain topics, certainly as worried about the fact that you know about the onslaught of Of fascism in the late 30s in Germany. Anyway, sam felt the same way. Actually, all our, all my fears Were actually what he felt too, and I said if I was going to do that, I would want to do it really properly and go back to the original Books and try and act like someone who really was in those sort of sleazy clubs and to sort of make it not sort of Glorification of kind of. You know, that way we kind of make things sweeter than they actually were. So and he said that was exactly what he wanted. So in a funny way my fears were exactly same as his, or and that we both came to the production wanting to reinvent the story, but by just by making it it's authentic story, it's authentic self, and that I kind of it's rare Actually that I think you two people that are leading action and a director both come to something with, with such a sort of strong Connection about what they want to do. And so in a way I said yes, eventually, and that my character became a sort of center of the play and the whole and sort of commenting on it, and I saw it almost a break tingly, and so that's that's how it happened.

Speaker 3:

I did it in London Immediately after doing Hamlet. I mean, I was exhausted, it was ridiculous. I did. They had Hamlet Hamlet finished on the Saturday at the Donmar warehouse and then the first preview of Kebbeh it was on the following Thursday. So I always jokely, the two characters kind of overlapped a wee bit my Hamlet was a little son and dancy and my mc Was a little, you know, having a nervous breakdown, so but that's how it happened, yeah. And then we did it to four years later.

Speaker 8:

We did it on Broadway you know, coming to the present day, I am obsessed with the traders which streams on peacock, but not because of why everybody thinks I literally watch it only to see what you are wearing. Is that? Is that wardrobe close to what you wear every day? Do you just spring out of bed and a kilt in the smoky eye?

Speaker 3:

No, I have a little smoky eye this morning because I put some makeup on last night because we were I did a concert in Minneapolis, was it? I had a little smoky eye and it's a little dribble of it still this morning. But no, I normally do not. It's actually kind of great because I, I got all the, all the wardrobe from the traders I get to keep and so I would do. This weekend when I was on tour, someone in the band said, oh, those are nice boots.

Speaker 3:

I'm like, yeah, traders, and every time I'm wearing anything that anyone Remarks spawn these days I, it's always the traders that wardrobe. So I kind of I don't look like I don't look like I look in the Traders in real life ever. I mean I, you know, I like getting dressed up and things that I'm going on some talk shows this week, so I've got some nifty little things to wear. But not that I mean I love the, I love the way I look in the traders because it's really part of the character and the whole idea how I wanted to sort of, you know, play a very heightened Scottish layered version of myself. I'm not being not pretending to be me at all and I even kind of make my accent a bit funny too. I really like I feel it's a guy in the vintage things I'm sort of subverting the form of Hosting reality, competitions, shows, because I'm actually Acting it as well, which is, I guess it's my way of doing it.

Speaker 3:

I don't, I think that's what they want, it. They, I mean, why would you ask me otherwise? You know they knew it, but they were. Once they explained to me what, why they wanted me to do it, I thought, oh, I see, so I'm going to be this heightened sort of James Bond villain sort of person and I absolutely adore it. I mean, it's such fun to do because I am as obsessed in the moment with what's going on and who's getting banished, who's getting murdered, that as people are when they watch it.

Speaker 3:

But it happens in real time for me. So I just I'm immersed in this World where, like, I go home, I have the round table and then that's my late end of my day and I get driven home. But I can't go to sleep until I know who the traitors have murdered. So I make the producer text me and, like a little boy, can't go to sleep, and then, you know, I. Then I go, oh my god. And then the next morning I'm back in and I have camera, a big screen in my room when I get ready, with all the little feeds of the camera so I can sort of snip on them when they're doing the reality. But I feel like you know, I do feel like a James Bond villain in his layer.

Speaker 8:

You know. Because this is queer voices, can I ask, in the LGBTQIA plus spectrum, which do you consider yourself? What letter are you owning? I would be a bee?

Speaker 3:

I I would. I've always thought of myself as bisexual and I sort of, you know, ping-ponged back and forward between genders Early on and um, I was married to a woman and then I was with the man and I was with another woman and but, like that, now you know I'm, the pendulum has kind of swung a little. I've been married to my husband, for I've been with him For about 20 years, but I still would always consider myself to be bisexual. I haven't, you know, I went. My circumstances have changed and I'm very comfortable for where I am in my life, but I think it's important as well. I think bisexuals, or the concept of bisexuality, is something that has always been in doubt and I just I make a point of saying that so that it's people know that. It's like you know people say but you're with a man and you'd be married as well, yes, and I go. But you know you can have a gay priest, so why can't you have a bisexual married man?

Speaker 8:

Well, I like coming. You're coming to Houston for two nights, march 6th and 7th, at the hobby center for performing arts. It's not even a one night stand. We get you for two nights, so I feel like we're going to be in a relationship with you by the end of it. The show is titled Alan coming is not acting his age, and I wanted to say you're a treasure, you're one of my idols, and not be more thrilled to have gone to speak with you on queer voices.

Speaker 3:

Oh, thank you so much. What darling Thank you.

Speaker 8:

The night is long and the path is dark. Look to the sky for what brings you home.

Speaker 1:

The dark will come. This is Queer Voices.

Speaker 5:

In 1963, the world lost four little girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, alabama. 14-year-olds 80-may Collins, denise McNair, carol Robertson and 11-year-old Cynthia Wesley Say their names. Addy's sister, sarah survived but lost her right eye. 20 other people were injured. Justice if there ever can be justice for this sort of thing came slowly. Being that I was born in Birmingham and was as close to the same age as these girls had a profound impact on me and is the marker for my lifelong commitment to anti-racism. The play Tide deals with the subject of this tragedy by telling the story of a father, the father of one of the little girls who died. He lost his precious daughter and this is a heart-rending story of his loss and recovery, uplifting and spiritual. The play is written by multi-talented Houston playwright, crystal Ray and is performed by Jason Carmichael. With us tonight. We have Jason Carmichael, who plays Daniel, and Bruce Lumpkin, who directs this play. This play was produced in 2022 at the ensemble, starring Jason Carmichael as Daniel. What brought about Bruce, this new?

Speaker 4:

production. Well, actually, when we did the show at the ensemble, reverend Diane McGee of the Bering Church saw it and afterwards she said, you know, I'd really like to do this next year at my church during Black History Month, and I said, well, that's really a lovely thought, but where exactly would we do it? And she said, well, how about in the sanctuary? And I said you mean the sanctuary of the church where you preach? She said, yes, I went, I'm in. What a great idea I mean for this show to be done in the church, in the sanctuary, about the subject matter that it's about. It just seemed to be a perfect thing and she wants to bring it to her audience, and to, I mean her audience, excuse me, her rub her rub Well to the congregation and to the public, because it is open for all of us.

Speaker 5:

Jason, what is it like to revisit this part again?

Speaker 10:

It's like climbing a mountain, but a wonderful experience. And it's not the same mountain this time, of course, as when we first mounted it. Because of the emotional content, because of the density of the dialogue, it requires almost a kind of a muscularity in performance as well as in preparation. So it's a wonderful opportunity, which is why I'm so appreciative of the chance to do it again and because I believe the play has legs and that any opportunity that we get to put it up will be, I know, cherished by us all. So it's a great, great feeling, but it's a little bit daunting and intimidating always.

Speaker 5:

Can you explain why the play is called Tide?

Speaker 10:

I think Crystal Ray, the author, has created a wonderful analogy of the necktie in terms of the corporate America and kind of the face of middle class and professionalism, what that signifies and how it also, in my mind kind of can become somewhat of a noose that is a restrictor of freedom and ties us to conventions that are not necessarily organic to our culture that ultimately can do us harm if we can't figure out a way to navigate those waters. So I think that she calls it Tide and I think it has so many, so many other parallel meanings from that in terms of how we are tied the past, we are tied to the ancestors, we're tied to each other in this country, even though sometimes we resist that knot. So I think it's just a wonderful allegory for the piece that we're telling.

Speaker 5:

Did you do any research into the actual events of 1963 in preparing for this role?

Speaker 10:

I did. I mean, I'm a student of history and I was familiar with forced the bombing on the church and the Four Little Girls. But I did some specific research and I started with a wonderful documentary by Spike Lee called Four Little Girls, which is just a fascinating exploration into not only the events but the families of the little girls in the community and the time that's elapsed since and how our country has and has not evolved from that horrific moment. And so I did. I spent a lot of time going through that and different books, different stories related to the material, family members chronicles and things of that sort. And then I knew we weren't trying to specifically create one parent, you know one individual father of one particular of the Four Little Girls. So there were certain things that I gleaned from the experiences all the parents talked about, just, of course, my own feelings as a parent and as a citizen and the patriot of this country. And so it was a lot, a lot to pull from.

Speaker 5:

I imagine it was quite emotional. I know, in reading over material yesterday I wept, I just wept and I said I remember so vividly when it happened. But it's been 60 years and I highly recommend to anyone, everyone, to go and do some reading and maybe perhaps see the Spike Lee and the other material that is out there to really grasp an understanding of what this is about. As we know, the arts are a way to reflect ourselves and to examine ourselves, and I think this play probably presents a wonderful opportunity for that.

Speaker 5:

People were getting ready to start their their church meeting. On a Sunday morning in September, it was youth day and the in the basement of the church, the two sisters gathered in the ladies room and their best dresses, happily chatting about the school year, and excitement filled the air. But just before 11 o'clock, instead of rising to begin prayers, the congregation was shook by a bomb that had been placed under the steps of the church. Just the thought of that there. It was identified as being the Ku Klux Klan that was responsible and it took a while before people were brought to trial as a black man living in America with this horrible shame of racism and slavery, our history. What did you find most touching in the play.

Speaker 10:

Well, I'm glad that you say our history, because I think that's so important, that it is American history. It is not just black history and we can't we can't divorce those as often as we try to. And so I knew that, going in because of my own personal beliefs, that it was going to be challenging emotionally and cause me to dig up a lot, of, a lot of stuff. I think there were so many surprises and discoveries. I mean, one thing I found in my research that I didn't know, just the proximity of time wise, was that the March on Washington, like the day before or maybe the week before this happened, it was a direct retaliation to that perceived progress. And so that duality really struck me as because, as the father, I want revenge for this horrible thing that has happened to my child and because, you know, birmingham at that time was known as bombing him. I mean, dynamite wasn't anything new, citizens, birmingham, that was just a way of life. And so for this to happen at a church yes, sunday school with four little girls, and how can you grieve and process what has happened and yet not go out and try or succeed in killing the person who you know, who you see in your community that has done this horrible thing, and knowing that justice won't be served, not even for 27. I think it's like 20 over 20 years, it's it's it's amazing, and the fact that it's just one drop in the bucket of so many horrible, how do we as a people continue to go forward in this country, which is one of the same things that they used to try to figure out the answers to during slavery. How can we keep these enslaved and not expect them at some point to grab pitchforks and come up to the big house? How can, how can we do that? And I think it's.

Speaker 10:

It's so much incumbent upon our people, upon black people, to shoulder that burden, because we're the ones that have to. There's only so many cheeks that you can turn, but at the end of the day, we're human beings. And if he allows father, allows his life to be consumed with with revenge, how can he be a father to his other little girl, how can he continue to be a husband to his wife and a member of society? And so that reckoning to me was the most challenging aspect of the piece to deal with this grief and yet have enough love, compassion in my heart, overlook what has happened to my daughter, for the good of society and for the good of my soul. No, I don't want to damn myself, I don't want to lose myself, but in a sense I feel myself has already been taken away from it, and I think that's the burden that we have to, that we have to carry. How do we maintain ourselves or maintain our dignity in the face of such dehumanization that we've experienced for so long?

Speaker 5:

Bruce, what are your comments?

Speaker 4:

Well, first of all, I have to say Jason put it so perfectly about everything that he thought and felt about the piece. I think that my comments really are the fact that the difference in this and Spike Lee's movie was a documentary, but it was an amazing documentary with so much history and so many facts. It was wonderful. It was a wonderful jumping off place, I think, for this. But when Crystal Ray brought to this project as a writer is not only telling the facts that happened about that day and about the bombing, but how it affected this, this man, his father and his life, with his other children, with his wife, with society, with his job, how it affected everything else in his life and how he bought through all of the pain, the sorrow of that, but came out with hope for the future and a way to approach the rest of his life.

Speaker 4:

Stanley, which I think is a beautiful, beautiful way to put it. She's a wonderful writer and, like I said, it's not a history lesson that you put on the stage. It is a show about human beings and their feelings and their emotions, which makes a very different impact than just looking at the facts. I think and Jason is an amazing, amazing actor. Working with him was a collaboration. Every day in rehearsal was was building not only on a show, but building on a friendship.

Speaker 5:

Yes, I can't see how it could not. Tide. A one man play will be performed at Bering Church, 1440 Herald Street.

Speaker 4:

February 22nd through the 25th.

Speaker 5:

Tickets are available through on the verge theater, that's theater with an REorg. This is being produced as a collaboration between on the verge and Bering Omega Foundation. We appreciate you being with us tonight on Queer Voices and once again say their names Addie Mae Collins, denise McNair, carol Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, the four little girls.

Speaker 7:

I'm Marcos Nahera and I'm Brian Deschaiser, with News Wrap a summary of some of the news in or affecting LGBTQ communities around the world for the week ending February 17, 2024. Greece is now the 37th country where same-gender couples can get married. The civil marriage bill includes adoption rights. Greece voted decisively on February 15, 106 in favor, 76 opposed and two abstentions. Even intense opposition from the politically powerful Greek Orthodox Church failed to block it. The legislation was crafted by the center-right government of Kiriyakos Mitsotakis. He hailed its passage on social media, calling it a milestone for human rights, reflecting today's Greece, a progressive and democratic country passionately committed to European values.

Speaker 7:

According to opposition lawmaker Vasili Stigas, marriage equality will open the gates of hell and perversion. Queer couples can adopt each other's children under the new laws. Under the civil partnership laws that have been in effect since 2015, only the biological parents of the couple's children had parental rights. The couples can be legally recognized as parents of a child born via surrogacy abroad, but they may not receive surrogacy services in Greece. The new laws will take effect as soon as they're published in the official government Gazette. Outside the parliament building, lgbtq people and their allies were celebrating. Stella Belia of the queer parents group. Rainbow Families told Reuters. This is a historic moment. This is a day of joy.

Speaker 11:

Nepal has its first legally married lesbian couple. Aju Devi Shreshvara and Supreta Garun registered their marriage on February 11th in the Himalayan nation's capital city, kathmandu. Venerable Nepalese activist and former MP, sunil Babu Pant, called it the first case of a lesbian couple officially getting registered for their marriage in South Asia. Equality advocates like the non-governmental organization Mayaku Pahichan Nepal have been pushing for the rights of sexual minority communities. A press statement from the group, whose name means recognition of love, was jubilant about the campaign's success in getting officially registered same-sex marriage. After more than two decades of struggle, nepal's Supreme Court opened the marriage equality floodgates in June 2023 with an interim order that the government legalized same-gender marriage. In November, the federal government recognized the 1997 Hindu marriage ceremony of Maya Garun and Sarendra Pandey. Since Garun is a transgender woman and Nepal does not recognize gender changes, it was accepted as a historic first marriage of two gay men.

Speaker 7:

Two cases challenging the sodomy laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines were rejected by a High Court Justice on February 16th. Two gay men from the main island of St Vincent contested the constitutionality of the laws that criminalized private consensual adult same-gender sex in 2019. The Caribbean nation's colonial era statutes punish anal intercourse with up to 10 years in prison and up to five years for gross indecency. Christian Gonzalez Cabrera is a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. He called the ruling by Justice Esco Lorraine Henry that upheld those laws a travesty of justice and tacit state endorsement of anti-queer bias. Plaintiff Sean McLeish expressed disappointment in the ruling when he spoke with a Washington blade from his US home. He said we will be discussing our options with my legal team because freedom and equality is worth fighting for. Similar sodomy laws have been repealed in the Caribbean nations of Trinidad and Tobago, barbados, st Kitts and Neves and Antigua and Barbuda in recent years. In addition to St Vincent and the Grenadines, laws punishing same-gender sex remain in effect in St Lucia, dominica, jamaica, guiana and Grenada.

Speaker 11:

A trans man in western Japan can change the gender marker on his official documents without having undergone surgical sterilization. The February 14th granting of his request was the first judgment since the nation's Supreme Court struck down their requirement in October 2023. The Okuyama family court ruled that the plaintiff's hormone therapy qualified him for the legal gender affirmation. It ordered the local family registry to officially recognize 50-year-old Takita Usui as male. The victorious trans man was so excited and told television news crews it's like I'm standing at the start line of my new life.

Speaker 7:

A top host on state-run Polish television apologized for years of anti-queer rhetoric spied by the Law and Justice Party. It's another sign of the seismic shift under Poland's new Liberal-Centrus Coalition since the previous right-wing government lost its parliamentary majority in recent national elections. Włózec Zellag told a February 11th national audience as translated by the Independent for many years in Poland, shameful words have been directed at numerous individuals simply because they chose to decide for themselves who they are and whom they love. Lgbt plus people are not an ideology, but people with specific names, faces, relatives and friends. Zellag directly addressed his two queer activist guests, bartz Dzeczewski and Jaja Heban.

Speaker 7:

The groundbreaking mea culpa also marked the first time in almost a decade that LGBTQ people had been invited guests on the network. The host said all these people should hear the word sorry somewhere. This is where I apologize. Such statements would have been unthinkable under the previous regime, which supported the condemnation of LGBT ideology by local jurisdictions and their declarations as LGBT-free zones. Dzeczewski said both he and Heban were a bit scared to walk into the studio After eight years of not being visible, of being some sort of lesser citizen. Both Jaja and I were quite astonished by this. It was a touching moment.

Speaker 11:

Finally, some people in the Spanish city of Seville apparently prefer to see their Christ crucified rather than resurrected. A new holy week poster by internationally recognized artist Salastino Garcia Cruz has traditionalists complaining that the portrait of Jesus is not one suffering on the cross, but a young, good-looking guy in a loincloth. He wears a glorified crown of gold ornaments instead of thorns and the physical wounds are understated. In the words of Barcelona gallerist Artur Ramon, the depiction is effeminate or androgynous in a way. He told the BBC Spain is a country that is still quite homophobic and people don't like that he is represented in this way for a festival that marks the passion of Christ in his final moments of life.

Speaker 11:

Trending social media comments characterize the portrait as offensive, evil and too sexualized for holy week. A changeorg petition calling for the portrait's removal has thus far attracted more than 10,000 signatures, apparently to no effect, cruz says his son modeled for the portrait. Horacio Garcia has told the press he's received many compliments on his being too handsome and too attractive. Seville Mayor José Luis Sanz likes the portrait and called the outrage artificial. He said that some posters are riskier, some more classical, some are more daring. The artist defended his work in an interview with the Spanish publication El Mundo A gay Christ, because he looks sweet and is handsome. Come on, we're in the 21st century.

Speaker 7:

That's News Wrap, global queer news with attitude for the week ending February 17th 2024. Follow the news in your area and around the world. An informed community is a strong community.

Speaker 11:

News Wrap is written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, produced by Brian DeChaser 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 Marcos Najara.

Speaker 11:

Stay Healthy, and I'm Brian DeChaser. Stay Safe.

Speaker 1:

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 are frequent contributors. The News Wrap segment is part of another podcast called this Way Out, which is produced in Los Angeles.

Speaker 9:

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.

Speaker 1:

For Queer Voices. I'm Glenn Holt.

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