Queer Voices

March 13th 2024 Queer Voices

March 13, 2024 Queer Voices
March 13th 2024 Queer Voices
Queer Voices
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Queer Voices
March 13th 2024 Queer Voices
Mar 13, 2024
Queer Voices

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Grand marshal finalists 2024

As we unfurl the banners of Pride and allyship, I'm thrilled to bring you heartening conversations from Queer Voices that not only celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community but also highlight the relentless support of our allies. We engage with State Representative John Rosenthal, whose journey from the energy sector to a beacon of advocacy in public office exemplifies true allyship. He carries the torch for marginalized groups, particularly trans, intersex, and non-binary individuals, and his illustrious nomination as ally Grand Marshal for the Pride Parade further cements his commitment to championing queer rights. With the backdrop of current legislative challenges, John's voice is a clarion call for unity and resistance.

Allyship doesn't stop at mere support; it's an active and ongoing commitment to advocacy and understanding. In this spirit, I speak with Grand Marshal nominees like Kailey Posterick and Leslie Briones who, through their personal stories, embody the unwavering dedication required to stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQIA+ community. From Kaylee's role as a supportive therapist to Leslie's multifaceted experiences as a mother, teacher, and judge, their narratives are a testament to the transformative power of visibility and support. The upcoming parade's theme, "You Won't Break Our Pride," resonates with their tales, echoing the resilience and hope that define our vibrant community.

The quest for equality spans beyond our local communities to the global stage, and it's vital to stay abreast of the triumphs and setbacks that shape our collective journey. Leslie Briones' gratitude mirrors the sentiment felt by many as we navigate the landscape of global LGBTQ rights, discussing the impacts of international legislation and movements. From the shores of Ghana to the streets of Serbia, and even within the halls of American governance, we dissect the myriad ways our fights intersect. Join us as we honor the spirit of Pride through these powerful voices, each contributing an essential note to the symphony of liberation and justice that sings in the heart of the LGBTQ+ community.

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.

Grand marshal finalists 2024

As we unfurl the banners of Pride and allyship, I'm thrilled to bring you heartening conversations from Queer Voices that not only celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community but also highlight the relentless support of our allies. We engage with State Representative John Rosenthal, whose journey from the energy sector to a beacon of advocacy in public office exemplifies true allyship. He carries the torch for marginalized groups, particularly trans, intersex, and non-binary individuals, and his illustrious nomination as ally Grand Marshal for the Pride Parade further cements his commitment to championing queer rights. With the backdrop of current legislative challenges, John's voice is a clarion call for unity and resistance.

Allyship doesn't stop at mere support; it's an active and ongoing commitment to advocacy and understanding. In this spirit, I speak with Grand Marshal nominees like Kailey Posterick and Leslie Briones who, through their personal stories, embody the unwavering dedication required to stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQIA+ community. From Kaylee's role as a supportive therapist to Leslie's multifaceted experiences as a mother, teacher, and judge, their narratives are a testament to the transformative power of visibility and support. The upcoming parade's theme, "You Won't Break Our Pride," resonates with their tales, echoing the resilience and hope that define our vibrant community.

The quest for equality spans beyond our local communities to the global stage, and it's vital to stay abreast of the triumphs and setbacks that shape our collective journey. Leslie Briones' gratitude mirrors the sentiment felt by many as we navigate the landscape of global LGBTQ rights, discussing the impacts of international legislation and movements. From the shores of Ghana to the streets of Serbia, and even within the halls of American governance, we dissect the myriad ways our fights intersect. Join us as we honor the spirit of Pride through these powerful voices, each contributing an essential note to the symphony of liberation and justice that sings in the heart of the LGBTQ+ community.

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, the Queer Voices crew has five profile interviews with nominees for Grand Marshall positions for Houston's Pride 365 Pride Parade 2024. Here are a couple of teaser samples of those interviews.

Speaker 2:

I have this belief that allyship isn't something I get to decide that I'm doing or not, right? I think that allyship the title of ally comes from the community and it's from the community saying, yes, this person has our back and this is somebody who's fighting for us. So it just kind of feels disingenuous to say, oh yeah, I think I'm bad.

Speaker 3:

As much as people might want to hate us for who we are, there's only so much they can do. As we rise up and we get louder and we fight, we demand to be treated with the same level of dignity as anyone else. This is our very lives on the line, more and more every day.

Speaker 1:

And we have news wrap from this Way Out Queer Voices starts now.

Speaker 4:

This is Brian LaVenca, and today I have the honor of interviewing State Representative John Rosenthal. Welcome to the show, john. Thank you very much. I'm glad to be here. Tell me about your district. Where is your district and who do you represent?

Speaker 5:

House. District 135 is an area of unincorporated Northwest Harris County, so that's a fancy way of saying I'm a Houston suburban on the Northwest side, off at 2 9.

Speaker 4:

So you're an oil and gas engineer who said enough of this, I want to go into the public office. So why did you do that?

Speaker 5:

Tell me about that it's a great question. I get it all the time and sometimes I still question why I did that. I had such a happy little life that I was leading and making good money and working on stuff that interests me. And then the 2016 election happened and shocked all of us, but I became politically active as an anti-Trumper in 2017. And in 2018, I had decided to run for the Texas State Legislature because I just felt like I had complained so much without actually doing anything about it.

Speaker 5:

with politics going seriously off the rails, it was time to stand up and do something, because I thought I could.

Speaker 4:

You're known as an ally to the trans and non-binary community. Can you talk about that and why?

Speaker 5:

Gosh, especially in this time, right now, when LGBTQIA plus all the communities are under attack. But I think the attacks are especially egregious against trans and intersex and non-binary folks, and we see this all the time, all around us. And so the people who are bullied the worst and attacked the worst are the ones that need the strongest allies, and I was bullied as a kid. I got no patience for bullies and the best way to back them down is to punch them in the face. So I'm an ally, an advocate, and I love on all of my trans, queer folk, everybody that I seek to help.

Speaker 4:

You are nominated as the ally Grant Marshall for the Pride Parade. What does this mean to you?

Speaker 5:

It's a huge honor and really I'm an old guy, like I'm 60 years old, and I'm an old oil field engineer and people like me don't get honored in this way in real life, and so it's just a huge, huge honor. It touches me to my very core and it's an affirmation of my allyship, the efforts that I make to support and uphold and love on these communities.

Speaker 4:

What has your past experience been with Pride?

Speaker 5:

I've been going to the Pride Parades for over 20 years. I've been living in Houston, you know, for 30 years, and it's just. This has always been a great celebration and a lot of fun. When I decided to run for office, though, is when I started participating in the parade, and I have. Since I became a candidate for office, I have participated by being in the parade every year. That's been held since 2018. What does Pride mean to you? It's so important. Pride to me means taking pride in who you are, authentically living your true life and expressing your true heart, and it's so important now. You know, like I just said, I'm a little bit older than a lot of folks that I know. I'm 60-ish. When I was a kid, queer folk would hide out and be afraid to show their true selves, and so, by being bold, out loud in the communities you know, and expressing the love and joy of just being your true self, I think this is how you build your allies and create the space where people are comfortable and free to live authentically true, happy lives.

Speaker 4:

Do we think that pride is still relevant?

Speaker 5:

In this last legislative session and the one before with this 88th session, the attacks on trans and queer folk in our communities, and especially queer and non-binary folks, the bathroom bills and all that kind of nonsense. It's more important than ever for us to show our love, for us to show our unity, for us to show that these communities will not be broken. So that leads into the theme of this year's won't break our pride. I think that's in the face of these egregious attacks, being bold and being joyous and celebrating these communities, no matter who comes after them. These folks are going to stand together and I'm going to stand with them.

Speaker 4:

Normally I would ask what your number one achievement in the queer community is, but I'm just going to ask you what is your number one achievement period?

Speaker 5:

In the capital and for the queer community is my allyship and accomplice that provides safe haven and safe space in the capital, even when it's just a sea of toxicity there. But my best legislative accomplishment is a bill I passed last session, House Bill 699, is a bill for school students who have health challenges. The bill changes Texas law so that absences associated with serious or chronic illness cannot be used to penalize the students who are going through that. It's helped thousands of kids across the state.

Speaker 4:

Is there anything? I did not ask you that you want our listeners to know.

Speaker 5:

The only thing I would say is I get asked this question why do you hang out with trans folks or queer people and like that? My answer is because I'm an ally and we want to dispel the bigotry and discrimination. The best way to do that is with familiarity, Bringing people into these circles and normalizing relations, if you will. The ignorance and fear is what breeds the hate and we need to combat that and, plus, just being in the space and loving on each other is a huge mutual support system that we all need.

Speaker 4:

For speaking with State Representative John Rosenthal about his nomination to ILI Grand Marshall nominee for the Houston Pride 365. John, thank you for coming on.

Speaker 5:

Thank you all so much for having me and again, it's just a great honor to be with you.

Speaker 1:

This is Queer Voices.

Speaker 7:

This is Deborah Moncrease Bell and I'm talking with Kaylee Pusterich. Kaylee is a nominee for Houston Pride 365, ally Grand Marshall 2024. Kaylee, you have an extensive history working as a licensed therapist and you work with serious offenders involved in the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. And then you have done a bunch of other stuff, including being on Mayor Turner's LGBTQ advisory board, and I believe I read somewhere even though you had always been a social justice advocate, it took you a while to consider yourself an ally. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Speaker 2:

I have this belief that allyship isn't something I get to decide that I'm doing or not, right? I think that allyship the title of ally comes from the community and it's from the community saying, yes, this person has our back and this is somebody who's fighting for us. So it just kind of feels disingenuous to say, oh yeah, I think I'm that right, I want, if that's what the community thinks I love, yeah, and that means so much to me. But ultimately I can't say that. I have to prove that by being consistent and doing the work and being accountable to the people that I'm trying to ally with.

Speaker 7:

Tell me, a little bit more about some of the work that you've done over the years and how it is that you came to be on the Mageshred Bats.

Speaker 2:

I found out about that just kind of through my network of folks.

Speaker 2:

At the time I was working at University of Houston, so some of the people there had shared the opportunity and I was kind of at that point where I said I know, I have this feeling and I care about the community and I want to align myself with this community and advocate for them.

Speaker 2:

But you know, I'm not really an ally if I'm not walking the walk, and so it was just kind of really wonderful timing that they were looking for folks to join the board and so I applied and, of course, ended up joining the board.

Speaker 2:

This was back in 2018. And that, that, I think, put some things in motion for me of just acknowledging that I've had that feeling for a long time, right, and then I have, I have those warm, fuzzy feelings of caring about other people but needing to find ways to walk the walk, so to speak. So that's kind of how I got involved with that. And then, since then, I've had other opportunities to provide trainings when I was at the university and now at my current job with Harris County, and now I'm also this past year I joined a group called Texas Sage, which their division of the Texas Counseling Association, so we really focus on educating the broader Texas counseling community about issues that impact the LGBT community. So there I'm able to work as the chair of our continuing education committee, so I'm able to bring trainings to other counselors to make sure that they're more culturally competent in the work that they're doing.

Speaker 7:

What does being nominated mean to you? This?

Speaker 2:

is actually the second time I've been nominated, so this is like huge to me.

Speaker 2:

Last time I sort of knew it was coming. I had a group of friends who wanted to nominate me, right, and we talked about it and they all submitted nominations. This time it was a surprise. So it's so humbling to me to be recognized for that now, twice now, and just to me, like in my mind, I'm just doing my job right, I'm doing what I know is right and doing my job as a therapist. So being nominated, I think, just reminds me that my work as a therapist is valuable and it's shown me how much people believe you and the work that we're doing. Last night, actually, I was out at Pearl Bar and my friends were passing flyers out trying to get people to vote for me and people were so excited to meet a team of therapists who were excited about this work. And, yeah, just to be in a world where that's exciting for people makes that such a huge honor to me, that that's where we're at and that people see the value in that and want to support that.

Speaker 7:

What is your past experiences with Pride?

Speaker 2:

I kind of thought about Pride in a totally unintentional way. I found out when I was really young that Pride parades were a thing, right, and so, you know, my parents would take us on summer vacations and really without planning it, we just always kind of seemed to end up on vacation during Pride. At wherever we were going, so, like especially Disney World, it was always Pride every time we went. So my, you know, my parents are explaining to me at a pretty young age like, well, yeah, that's the thing, right and it's fine.

Speaker 2:

So then as an adult, I really started intentionally going to Pride when I was a student at the University of St Thomas. I could walk there from my residence hall, and so I've been in the place for the past 15 years. It's been the highlight of my summer right, I always go. I've done the parade, I've done the barcrawls, I've danced all night, you know, kind of done it all. So I've even had the chance to walk in the parade a few times. So, for example, through my work with Mayor Turner's LGBTQ advisory board. You know my parents have already claimed their spot in my section if I am a grand marshal this year, so it'll be fun to hopefully bring that full circle for them too.

Speaker 7:

What does Pride mean to you?

Speaker 2:

Pride not just in Houston but, I think, just globally. The legacy of Pride for me is something that's bold, it's unapologetic, it is a celebration, and the queer community is so diverse. So Pride, I think, is just a chance for everyone to show up as who they are right and to be whatever it is that you are in a space where you know that you are affirmed, you are safe, you are loved, but also that you're celebrated right. It's not just that you're tolerated, it's not just that people acknowledge that you exist, it's we love this about you, and our community wouldn't exist without all of us here, and I really love that there's this more of a focus now on Pride being something that we acknowledge year-round. It's not just a day or a week in June, it's the entire year, because this community exists for the entire year and deserves that celebration and that acknowledgement all the time.

Speaker 7:

Is that what makes Pride relevant to you?

Speaker 2:

I think so, and I personally I'm somebody who I really believe in acknowledging the work of our predecessors. I think, looking at where we're at now, I think it's really easy for people to sit back and be like, oh yeah, you know, things seem fine, you know everybody seems safe and whatever. And you know why are people still upset, why are they protesting? And you know, I do think we've come a long way and I think that that's worth celebrating, but I also just think, you know, the reality is we have a long way to go. Even just you know, the last Texas legislative session, there were over 140 anti-LGBT bills that were proposed. So I just don't think maybe things are as wonderful as we'd like them to be, and there's still a fight that we have in front of us, and I think even just to last year.

Speaker 2:

You know, ripcord hosted the Transvisibility March that I went to, and you know, now on Sunday, we're having a vigil for next Benedict. So there's this dissonance. Right, that Pride is a celebration, but we also have to acknowledge that work, and so I think that keeps Pride relevant for me, because we have to keep showing the world we're not backing down right and that we still have fight in us and there's still things that need to happen for what is right and for what is decent for all of us.

Speaker 7:

This is Deborah Moncrease Bell. I'm talking with Kaylee Pusterick, who is a nominee for Pride Grand Marshal in the Ally category for Pride 2024 with Pride Houston 365. The theme this year is you won't break our pride. What does that mean to you?

Speaker 2:

So, deborah, first of all, I am a proud member of the Beehive. I'm a huge Beyonce fan, so you can never go wrong with the Beyonce reference for me. I was already on board with the theme the second I made that connection. However, right beyond that, for me that theme really brings to mind the resilience of our LGBTQ community, what I think of just the history of this country and, in particular, the history of human rights in this country. I mean, it is full of suffering, of persecution, of oppression, and so I think this theme is saying to the world yeah, that happened and we are still going to stand in solidarity Right, because we are unbreakable and we are going to continue to do the work. I'm I'm obsessed with the theme. I'm so excited for it.

Speaker 7:

Kaylee Posterrick is a nominee for Houston Pride Grand Marshal in the Ally category. Voting continues until March 31st. Thanks for being with us on Queer Voices. This is Deborah Moncreef Bell and we're talking with Joelle Espute. Joelle is one of the nominees for Grand Marshal for Pride, houston 365, the Pride Parade 2024 and the female identifying category. Joelle works at the normal Anomaly as a program director and oversees the advocacy leadership programs, including the transgender ally Collective, a leadership program uplifting and empowering black trans women, and project liberate, a year-long intensive leadership development program for black queer Businesses. She's deeply committed to a community and to political activism and is on the board of trustees for the Houston LGBTQ political caucus, the first black trans woman nominated to the board. Joelle, you do so much stuff. You have this long list of achievements and and Activism. It is just Impressive what all you've been able to do. When did your journey as an activist start?

Speaker 8:

You know, my journey started officially. It started 20 years ago when I was in high school and I did this social social justice camp when I was in high school and it really opened my eyes just to community activism and movement work. And then when I moved to Houston seven years ago with the intent of being more Engaged and involved in communities that were black and queer, and my advocacy journey Officially started six years ago when I started doing work with the mahogany project and it was really just me wanting to be more connected to community. That's really where it started.

Speaker 7:

What does being connected community? How does that benefit you?

Speaker 8:

for me, I always think about 15 year old Joelle and what she wanted and really desired. And 15 year old Joelle was someone who Deeply was connected to friends, deeply connected to Community, deeply connected to their identity. And so for me, as an adult and as someone who is getting older, I always look to those 15 year old Joelle's in community and really not just being connected to community, but continuing to create and co-create and curate spaces where those 15 year old Joelle's can flourish.

Speaker 7:

What does being nominated mean to you?

Speaker 8:

it's truly a manifestation of that 15 year old Joelle that really wants to be seen, wants to be uplifted, wants to be celebrated. And so, for me, being nominated is really Not just a culmination or a love letter or the uplifting of the work that I do in community, but it's really seeing me in all facets of me and really seeing that 15 year old Joelle that I really do everything for. What are your past experiences with?

Speaker 8:

pride last year, the normal anomaly was Honorary Grand Marshal, and so that was an amazing experience in itself For me. I just have a long history of pride just attending it as someone that is black and queer and trans, and really just it being a safe space, it being a space of liberation and it being a space of joy. Is that what you would say pride means to?

Speaker 7:

you it does. For me, pride means joy, it means liberation.

Speaker 8:

It means freedom. It also means community. It means safe spaces. It means, as time has moved on, a lot of the messaging of pride has gotten lost in the commercialism, all of the things that have happened, as pride has, you know, transitioned. But for me, I always try to be rooted in the original essence of pride, which is the space for Black and or queer people, black, queer people, lgbt people and our allies to really come together to celebrate and to really create spaces of joy, not just for us but for future generations to come. And if you want to see some, black trans joy.

Speaker 7:

Just check out Joelle's video on the pride Houston 365 website, because she has such a cute video and you just can't help but smile when you, when you see her. How do you think pride is relevant? You know, I think that now More than ever.

Speaker 8:

Pride is not just relevant, but it's necessary. When we talk about our rights getting Slashed and banned left and right, when we talk about state sanctioned violence against us, we need spaces of joy, we need safe spaces. We need not just our community now, but we need our future, the future members of our community, to know that it is okay to be queer, it is okay to be LGBT, it is okay to be and live authentically as you. So I think pride, now more Than ever, is not just relevant, but it's important and it's necessary.

Speaker 7:

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

Speaker 8:

It means that, regardless of whatever is happening, regardless of the ongoing fights that we have to A combat the erasure of our identity, to combat the erasure of our rights, that won't break our pride, it won't break us. We will continue to move forward. We will continue to thrive in spite of.

Speaker 7:

What would you say is your number one achievement for the queer community thus far?

Speaker 8:

I'm really most proud of the work that I do at the normal anomaly. It's a black queer led nonprofit where we curate spaces for community, spaces of black and queer joy. I'm really proud of curating spaces for black trans women that really uplift and empower them. We have a program called the trans ally collective that uplifts and empowers black trans women. At our gala that we had in December, we were able to sponsor a table Just for black trans women and many of them had never been to a gala. Many of them have never been in a space like that. So to be able to create space and make space for them and center and uplift them and Center black trans joy and even be able to shout them out on the mic when I, you know, was when I came up to speed, for me that was one of the moments that I was most proud of to continue to See and spark black trans joy, not just in myself but in other black trans people.

Speaker 7:

We're talking with Joelle as cute. She's a nominee for pride grand marshal for pride Houston 365 in the category of female identifying and uses she hers Pronouns Joelle. What is some of the other programs and work that's done at the normal anomaly one of our?

Speaker 8:

flagship programs is our project liberate, which is a program for Small businesses, for black queer businesses, to really help provide and build Sustainability for them and economic justice, and that program actually feeds our Bqaf music festival. Our music festival is a festival that celebrates black queer and trans joy. It's a space that uplifts black queer artists and our music festival is actually happen on March 16th at warehouse live midtown. So it's an amazing space of joy, of liberation and of community.

Speaker 7:

Tell me about your work with the caucus I.

Speaker 8:

Am board member of the caucus. I've been a board member for two years. I'm actually the first black, trans woman board member and my work is really centered on Not just the representation and visibility that I provide, but also just continuing to make space, continuing to provide education and continuing to really show community that Politics and political advocacy is not only necessary, but it's also for us, it's for everyone to be involved. Is there?

Speaker 7:

anything that I didn't ask you about that you would like to share Really?

Speaker 8:

just for people to be engaged, be involved, be engaged in community, to be involved in what's going on. I think that there are so many things going on and there are so many ways to get involved, and I think that people think that advocacy and community work looks like, or is supposed to be, one thing, and it's not so. I would just ask for listeners to with this year being a very pivotal year Be active, be engaged, be involved in whatever way that means to you.

Speaker 7:

Joe LS butte. Thank you for being with us on queer voices. Thank you.

Speaker 8:

Thank you for having me.

Speaker 7:

This is Deborah Montcree. Fell for queer voices and I'm talking with Amanda. Andy Well, and we use them. They pronouns they are a lifelong activists and a volunteer. You say that your mom instilled Something in you. What was that? It?

Speaker 3:

was lifting up other people who maybe can't lift themselves up, and the fact that just one person Can make a difference, one voice. You might feel small, but the the more you speak out and the more people you join with the, the the greater Accomplishments you can you can bring to fruition.

Speaker 7:

You're a writer, performer and independent journalist in Houston since 2007. You fight for the causes that are most pivotal for our uncertain future, but also champion the people behind them and amplify voices that are frequently silenced. At many points in your life you have felt like you were one of those people, even though you were up against walls and institutions that couldn't be broken down. But pure luck connected you very early in Houston life to activism. When you met Ray Hill and Rainbow the clown, you said that Ray told you something that you never forgot.

Speaker 3:

That's true. We met at a it's called the final Friday party let's get together. That Molly Ivan started and I was a transit activist at the time, in 2012, and I was so nervous and everyone was against. I was fighting for more trains and everyone there was just really against that. And I happened to meet Ray over by the order table. He was sort of hiding out and I said you're, ray Hill, I am a huge fan of yours and we started talking and he was on my side. He actually jumped in at one point when everyone was sort of coming at me all these developers and all these these pro-car, pro-highway people were coming at me and he stepped in and afterward he said I thought you did great. Never let him shut you up, kid and I just I take that with me every time someone's trying to to take down what I'm fighting for. I just think Ray would not want me to shut up, and so I don't.

Speaker 7:

He certainly didn't. What does being nominated mean to you?

Speaker 3:

Oh so much. It feels like a brilliant and unexpected and welcomed thank you for all the work I do, usually behind the scenes. I'm not in the public eye very often with the exception of when I ran for office in 2019 but usually I'm just quietly sort of working behind the scenes and for that to be recognized just makes me feel great. And it's also even more importantly. I feel like I'm able to be an example to somebody who may be someone like me, who may be non-binary, who may be pansexual and is older, and they feel like it's too late for them to come out, and I it's never too late. I want people to be able to identify with what I've been through in my life, with what I've done in my life, and know that they're important, they're valid, they're who they are, it's very, very valid and that hopefully, they can celebrate themselves.

Speaker 7:

What are your past experiences with pride? Do you remember your first pride? My?

Speaker 3:

first pride. I had actually never experienced one, despite living all over the country. I had never experienced or lived in a city that even had a pride celebration until I moved here in 2007 and I lived right around the corner on Avondale Street and I went to. I decided you know what? I don't know anyone here yet I'm gonna take myself to Pride Fest. And so I did, and within 30 minutes I had made so many new friends. I had joined my neighborhood association, even though I was a renter. They said no, renters are welcome, we just don't have any, we need some. So I so I joined the Avondale Association. I got.

Speaker 3:

I thought okay, well, these are some groups I want to be involved with, want to be involved with these groups. I just hit there, my activist self just kicked in and then I just had to blast. The rest of the night I was. I ended up inviting a bunch of people over to my backyard to watch the parade after they were getting tired from standing. I said, oh, come on, you can see it from my backyard. So it was just I felt, welcomed, included, just excited. It was, and I've never missed a pride fest.

Speaker 7:

It's, it's been wonderful and of course that was when the parade was held along West Timer and Montrose. What does pride mean to you?

Speaker 3:

oh so many things, celebrating a lot of my loved ones, feeling welcome to be who I am, being inspired to stand up for others and myself, and who we are. It means a long, rich history. It's not just a celebration, it's, it's a battle. Especially lately in Texas and everywhere, it seems like society is just regressing instead of progressing and it I think it's more important than it has been since the earliest days of pride.

Speaker 3:

It's a time to celebrate, but it's also a time to keep the fight going so you think that pride is still very relevant oh, absolutely, absolutely, especially in Texas right now, with with all this legislation, this hateful, hurtful legislation that is being passed and being brought to the table, I think it's more relevant now than ever the same this year is you won't break our pride.

Speaker 7:

What does that mean to you?

Speaker 3:

as much as people might want to hate us for who we are, there's only so much they can do. As we rise up and we get louder and we fight, we demand to be treated with the same level of dignity as anyone else. This is our very lives on the line more and more every day, and there's no way these people are gonna break us. We are too strong, we've been living our authentic lives for too long and people need to just accept that, and it's it's just. Now is the time to just ignore these people and and don't doubt ourselves. You know, whenever I feel like, oh, should I just go back in the closet because of the threats that are out there right now? No, never, you will not break my pride, and I hope that everyone else feels the same way what do you think your number one achievement in the queer community is?

Speaker 3:

honestly co-founding the Montrose residents coalition because, even though it's for everyone in Montrose, it is a queer-led organization. A lot of our initiatives have been like we brought back the Q patrol, which I'm sure many will remember if you've, if you've lived in Montrose for a long time was a very, very important citizens kind of a protective group and we brought that back and they're doing great work. We are working on a queer walk of fame, thus sort of like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but Houston and Montrose, lgbtq plus history. Specifically, I personally have been involved with the development at West Timer in Montrose and making sure that that is treated as kind of the sacred part of the Montrose community. Historically it's, it's a very important spot and the developers have been great working, listening to to me, listening to my input, and I think they're gonna do a very, very good job with it and they're gonna honor our community we're talking with Amanda Andy Wolf, who is a nominee for Houston Pride Grand Marshal 2024 in the category of non-binary, non-gender conforming.

Speaker 3:

You mentioned that you use all pronouns it does give me gender euphoria at times when someone calls me sir on the phone, except I don't feel like a trans man. I feel like I'm just sort of I exist in this sort of separate space where I'm not at one part of the spectrum or the other and, as I like to tell people, I'm a little of both, a lot of neither. So all the pronouns work fine for me.

Speaker 7:

I think that's something a lot of people are still struggling to understand, because I know non-binary people who are very feminine in their appearance and I know some that are very masculine in their appearance, so it's kind of part of what we see visually. I always ask people please be respectful of other people's pronouns yes, definitely is there anything that we did not ask you about that you would like folks to know?

Speaker 3:

it is never too late to be who you are. It's, honestly, never too early to be who you are. Being your authentic self is the most important thing. This is. We've got this one life, and why would you want to spend it living as anyone other than yourself? So I want everyone in my community out there to celebrate yourself, not just at pride, but every day, and be as authentic as you can. Authenticity is an underrated quality in human beings and I see you and I appreciate you.

Speaker 7:

You matter here on queer voices. We're continuing our interviews with the nominees for Houston grand marshals for pride, houston 365 2024, and I'm talking with Leslie Boronis, who is a Harris County commissioner in precinct 4, but she's a nominee in the category of ally and, leslie, you've had quite a journey, from your time at the US Mexico border, where you grew up and having parents who were teachers and taught you the important of education, hard work and serving others, values that have defined you and which you now bring to your office. It seems like, when I look over your CV of the different things that you've been involved in over the years, that journey has led you to be in a position that you're now in. I know that you've been an ally for some time and active with the political caucus. I just have a few questions. We're asking everyone pretty much the same questions. The exciting thing about it is that the answers are incredible.

Speaker 9:

Deborah, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I'm so proud to be on Queer Voices and I'm honored to be nominated for Grand Marshal in the Ally category and being in that category alongside Representative John Rosenthal and Kaylee Postrick, who happens to work at the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. It's just a great honor.

Speaker 7:

What does being nominated mean to you?

Speaker 9:

Well, I'm deeply grateful and honored. It moves me because throughout my life, first as a mom, I have three daughters and I want us to be on a journey where we're fighting for all of our children and all of ourselves to be able to live in a world where we can be our authentic selves. It also just moves me because I think back to my days as being a teacher. I was an eighth and tenth grade public school teacher and I remember various students who opened up and confided in me, but they were not accepted when they came out to their parents and I just remember thinking how unjust that was and how I wanted to be a listening ear for them and if I was ever in a position where I could do more, I would want to maximize it.

Speaker 9:

As a judge, I was so proud that the majority of the weddings that I officiated were gay marriages and we started requiring implicit bias training for anyone who wanted to be appointed in the court, to be even nominated. Moves me because I am a very proud ally and accomplice, always have been, always will be, because fundamentally I believe that all of us are equal, all of us must be respected and our humanity, our freedom and our dignity is deeply interwoven and so I am all in and I look forward to discussing some of the other topics and things we've been doing in Harris County in a second. But the bottom line is I'm grateful, I'm honored and I'm all in and just appreciate this opportunity to what is your past experiences with Pride?

Speaker 9:

Before I became a commissioner I would go to the Pride Parade and Families with Pride event and, as I mentioned just in different chapters of my career weaving in my allyship into the way I approach being a teacher or judge and now that I am a commissioner, our experience with Pride has been wonderful. So Precinct 4 had never been involved officially with Pride with my predecessor, so for the first time Precinct 4 was part of the parade. This June we co-sponsored the Families with Pride event with Councilmember Kainan and I'll discuss some of the other initiatives we've passed. But I have just been proud to be involved with Pride and I look forward to deepening that involvement for many years to come.

Speaker 7:

What does Pride mean to you and how do you think it's relevant?

Speaker 9:

Pride means that we are uniting in solidarity. I see Pride as, beyond Pride month of June, I think it's Pride 365, really means Pride 365. I see it as a way for us to inject energy and solidarity in this fight against the injustice which seems to be rising. To me, it's especially moving. We're going to be the 55th anniversary of Stonewall, and so I just think that, as we see so many of our rights being rolled back whether that is, for example, abortion with the dog's decision, how we turn back the clock half a century our freedoms are fragile and they need to be continuously fought for. So Pride, to me, is a celebration and it's a renewal of ongoing commitment.

Speaker 7:

This is Deborah Moncreef Bell and I'm speaking with Leslie Baronis, who is a nominee in the Ally category for Houston Pride 365 2024 Pride Parade, which will be on June the 29th. The thing this year is you won't break our Pride. What do you think that means?

Speaker 9:

That means that we will be relentless, we will fight stronger, we will fight harder, we will fight smarter, and that we will continue this fight for systemic change right. And we won't break our Pride means you will not beat us, we are relentless, we will double down in solidarity, and this resilience is something that is kind of inherent, and so I love that spirit of resilience and relentlessness. So I love that. The theme is you won't break our Pride, and I just again, whether it's the number of bills, it's atrocious that we in 2023 had over 500 NTLGBTQ plus bills, twice the number we saw in 2022.

Speaker 9:

It is completely unacceptable that numerous states, including Texas, have restricted gender affirming care. I mean, we're just moving backwards in so many ways based on legislation across the country. It is time that, as you won't break our Pride, to me, it's a relentlessness coupled with hope, and so I love Texas. I'm a proud native Texas girl and I'm appalled at the direction of how we're going with regard to many of our rights, including for LGBTQ plus community, for women and beyond, and so to me, it's an opportunity for us to say we're not backing down and in fact, we're doubling down and we're going to take back Texas and many of the other, you know 19 plus states that have really retrogressed substantially, and so that's what it means to me. They will never break our Pride and we will continue, because we fundamentally deserve our rights to equality and our freedoms cannot be taken because they're inherently ours. So they can try, and they are trying like hell, but we will fight back.

Speaker 7:

I know that you happen to have a number of community members that work on your staff, and also quite a number of young people and you yourself, what you're in your 30s.

Speaker 9:

I wish Deborah thinks I'm 43, I'm 80 baby.

Speaker 7:

What would you say? Your number one achievement for the queer community has been thus far.

Speaker 9:

June of 2023, my first year as Harris County Commissioner for Precinct 4. My team and I presented, and we were able to pass, a resolution that created Harris County's first ever LGBTQIA plus commission, and this commission is a group of volunteer community members that have been appointed and they will be a body and we've kicked off officially the commission. They are a body that is presenting actionable recommendations so that Harris County can continue moving forward. We are committed to Harris County being a shining example of the equality and freedoms that I believe everyone deserves and, in light of what Texas is doing, we want Harris County to be a place of progress, resistance and June 2023 was the same month that Texas was passing its hateful legislation and it was the same month that the Human Rights Campaign in June 2023, for the first time ever declared a national state of emergency right.

Speaker 9:

So we were very proud that my team and I were able to present and get this commission passed by Commissioner's Court. So I have been keeping our wonderful LGBTQ plus community front and center in my hiring and my appointments and creating this commission, and I just look forward to building on the progress, because we need those perspectives at the table, especially as we're making decisions that affect not only Precinct 4 but the entire county. So I'm very thankful of the progress we've been able to help drive in Precinct 4 the first year and couple months we've been in office. And the truth is, deborah, we're just getting started. We just have to keep pushing constantly.

Speaker 7:

Leslie Baronas, Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 4 nominee for Pride. Grand Martial for Pride. Houston 365 for the 2024 Pride Parade. Is there anything that I did not ask you about that you would like folks to know?

Speaker 9:

Mainly just want to say thank you again to Deborah for the opportunity to speak with you today and clear voices, and I just want to thank my fellow nominees. As I keep mentioning, I'm all in as an ally, as an accomplice, and I believe in the power of unity. I believe in our collective power and I am appalled at so much of what is happening across our state and the United States and I remain hopeful right. If we can take that anger and passion and dedication and continuously put it into action, I believe that the change will come. And I also believe fundamentally that all of our rights are interconnected, whether it's our rights to our body, immigrants, our right to vote right, how our transgender communities being treated. All of our freedoms are interconnected, and so I hope that we just continue to build the momentum as a collective. And in Pride Month and 365 days a year, my team and I are here to listen, to learn, to serve, and we stand in deep solidarity and we will continue doing everything possible to keep moving Harris County forward.

Speaker 10:

So communities around the world for the week ending March 9th 2024. Ghana's nightmarish anti-LGBTQ law will remain a bad dream for now, with pressure mounting on President Nana Akufu-Adu from within and without. Virtually every major domestic and global human rights group has roundly condemned the promotion of proper human sexual rights and Ghanaian family values bill since it passed overwhelmingly in Parliament in late February. On March 6th, ghana's Finance Ministry urged Akufu-Adu not to sign the bill because a country could lose the equivalent of nearly four billion US dollars in economic support from the International Monetary Fund of the World Bank. Meanwhile, activists are challenging the legislation and Ghana's Supreme Court. Officially, akufu-adu has said that it's prudent to await the decision of the court before any action is taken. He may be off the hook. His two-year term is about to end and most observers believe it's unlikely that the High Court will issue a ruling before voters choose members of Parliament and a new president in December's national elections.

Speaker 10:

The bill would criminalize simply coming out and imprison anyone who publicly expresses support for queer rights. If minors are within ear shot, the penalty increases to 10 years. Property owners could face jail time for selling or renting to LGBTQ people. Citizens are encouraged to report suspected LGBTQ people to the police for what the bill obliquely calls necessary action. Private same-gender sexual activity is already punished in Ghana with a three-year prison term. The new bill ups the sentence to five. In explaining the World Bank's objection to the legislation, their spokesperson said we believe our vision to eradicate poverty on a livable planet can only succeed if it includes everyone, irrespective of race, gender or sexuality. This law undermines those efforts. Inclusion and non-discrimination sit at the heart of our work around the world.

Speaker 11:

Queer people and their allies protested police brutality in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on March 6th. They're responding to the victimization of a young gay man and a bisexual woman during a drug raid on their apartment in mid-February. Police officials claim they did find drugs in the flat, but the demonstrators from queer activist groups charge that the force used during the arrests went well beyond what was necessary. Sanya Molinovich is the arrested man's mother. She told the Associated Press that her son was violated and brutally attacked and called the police overreaction, sadism. Protest organizers say the assault began after the officers saw symbols of LGBTQ equality on display in the flat. The two suspects were then physically abused and forced to simulate sexual acts. The demonstration was called after police officials rejected demands that the police officers involved be criminally prosecuted. Serbia wants to join the European Union, but hostility toward LGBTQ people stoked by the politically powerful Serbian Orthodox Church stands in the Balkan nation's way.

Speaker 10:

Mr Speaker, the President of the United States, In a feisty and fiery March 7th State of the Union address, us President Joe Biden was unequivocal in his support for the communities his opponents would like to marginalize for a political gain. Biden linked foreign policy issues, like the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, in the safety of Taiwan, to domestic issues such as bodily autonomy and economic, legal and social equality.

Speaker 6:

Stop denying another core value of America our diversity across American life.

Speaker 10:

His message to the joint session of Congress included a wish list of needed reforms to protect civil rights, the LGBTQ community in particular.

Speaker 6:

Banning books. It's wrong. Instead of a raising history, that's make history. I want to protect fundamental rights, passing Quality Act. My message to the transgender Americans I have your back.

Speaker 10:

The Equality Act is a bill that would enshrine LGBTQ rights in federal law. Various versions of it have been passing in either the Senate or the House for years, but never both at the same time. If Biden wins a second term, he'd probably need Democratic majorities in both chambers for it to become law.

Speaker 11:

Religious belief can be used by health care providers or by an employer controlled health plan as an excuse to refuse gender-affirming treatment. So says a US federal district judge. In North Dakota the Christian employers alliance had challenged the federal policy that interprets the Supreme Court's postdoc ruling as forbidding employers from discriminating against transgender people in health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act. District Court Judge Daniel Trainor ruled on March 4th that such an interpretation violates First Amendment constitutional religious freedoms. His ruling grants members of the Christian group and individual providers the right to decline transgender patients. The Christian employers alliance was represented by the far-right anti-queer legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. An appeal of the ruling is expected and the National Queer Advocacy Group PFLAG has stopped Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from rifling through its files for information about member families with transgender children, at least temporarily. A US federal district court has halted rabidly anti-queer Paxton's supposed investigation into possible violations by gender-affirming health care practitioners under the state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act. That law allows victims of alleged fraud or misleading business practices to sue for damages.

Speaker 11:

Paxton and fellow Republican Governor Greg Abbott have been waging war against LGBTQ rights in the Lone Star State for years. Highly vulnerable transgender kids and their families are their favorite targets. Pflag's lawsuit calls Paxton's demand for information about the group's strong support for pediatric gender-affirming health care a gross invasion of privacy and a clear and unmistakable overreach. District Court Judge Maria Cantu Hexel agreed and granted the request to stop Paxton in his tracks. Her ruling said immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage will result to PFLAG and its members from the defendant's wrongful actions. Four queer legal advocacy groups teamed up against Paxton the Transgender Law Center, lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the National ACLU. Their joint statement thanked Hexel for protecting their clients from having to respond. While we continue to litigate the legality of the office's requests, judge Hexel scheduled a hearing for March 25th to give Paxton's office the chance to challenge the temporary restraining order.

Speaker 10:

Finally, missouri teachers who contribute to the social transition of a transgender student could face stiff penalties under a bill being considered by the Republican-dominated state legislature. Violators could be charged with class E felonies, be fined up to $10,000, be imprisoned for up to five years and would even have to register as sex offenders. Social transition contributions include respecting a student's preferred choice of names and pronouns, their general appearance and providing supportive information if a student asks for it. To first term Republican Representative Jamie Gragg, those issues should only be addressed by parents. His House Bill 2885 ignores the fact that some trans youth can't safely find that support at home. Observers don't think the proposal will make it out of committee and predict that it will fail on the House floor if it makes it that far. Attorney and activist Alejandra Carvajos. One word legal critique of the bill on social media was simply insane.

Speaker 11:

That's News Wrap, global queer news with attitude for the week ending March 9th 2024. Follow the news in your area and around the world. An informed community is a strong community. News.

Speaker 10:

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

Speaker 11:

Thank you. Help keep us in ears around the world at thiswayoutorg, where you can also read the text of this newscast and much more. For this Way Out, I'm Michael LeBeau.

Speaker 10:

Stay Healthy and I'm Amy Davis. 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 Edmondson 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.

Speaker 12:

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.

Allyship and Pride
Pride Nomination and Allyship Advocacy
Celebrating Black Queer Community and Pride
Pride and Allyship in Action
Global LGBTQ Rights Updates
Queer Voices Podcast Production Information