Queer Voices

April 24th 2024 Queer Voices

April 24, 2024 Queer Voices
April 24th 2024 Queer Voices
Queer Voices
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Queer Voices
April 24th 2024 Queer Voices
Apr 24, 2024
Queer Voices

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As we unfurl the vibrant tapestry of LGBTQ narratives, our Queer Voices family is set to embark on a heartfelt journey, resonating with both celebration and challenge. Our latest episode commemorates the cherished Lavender Graduation, an enduring beacon of progress for LGBTQ students, and we navigate the turbulent waters of Texas Senate Bill 17, highlighting the community's resilience at the University of Houston. Against a backdrop of adversity, witness the power of unity as students and alumni rally to honor the spirit of inclusivity.

This week, the spotlight shines on the dynamic worlds of Desi Love Blake and Varla Jean Merman, two titans of drag who chart their glittering odysseys from childhood fascinations to the pinnacle of performance art. As Desi Love Blake recounts her ascent to Miss Gay America, her narrative is a masterclass in tenacity and self-expression, while Varla Jean Merman's vibrant storytelling captures the ever-evolving landscapes of drag culture. From New Orleans' artistic rebellion to New York's glitzy stages, their tales are emblematic of the courage and creativity that fuel the drag community's heart.

Our conversation takes a turn towards the profound as we confront the controversies surrounding gender-affirming healthcare in the UK's Cass Review and its global reverberations. The complexities of transgender youth support are laid bare, and we dissect the potential ramifications on policy and the lives of those affected. Through engaging discussions and personal insights, this episode is an enlightening collage, reflecting on the triumphs, the trials, and the tireless pursuit of acceptance that defines the queer experience. Join us for an episode that promises to educate, inspire, and celebrate the rich diversity of queer voices.

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 unfurl the vibrant tapestry of LGBTQ narratives, our Queer Voices family is set to embark on a heartfelt journey, resonating with both celebration and challenge. Our latest episode commemorates the cherished Lavender Graduation, an enduring beacon of progress for LGBTQ students, and we navigate the turbulent waters of Texas Senate Bill 17, highlighting the community's resilience at the University of Houston. Against a backdrop of adversity, witness the power of unity as students and alumni rally to honor the spirit of inclusivity.

This week, the spotlight shines on the dynamic worlds of Desi Love Blake and Varla Jean Merman, two titans of drag who chart their glittering odysseys from childhood fascinations to the pinnacle of performance art. As Desi Love Blake recounts her ascent to Miss Gay America, her narrative is a masterclass in tenacity and self-expression, while Varla Jean Merman's vibrant storytelling captures the ever-evolving landscapes of drag culture. From New Orleans' artistic rebellion to New York's glitzy stages, their tales are emblematic of the courage and creativity that fuel the drag community's heart.

Our conversation takes a turn towards the profound as we confront the controversies surrounding gender-affirming healthcare in the UK's Cass Review and its global reverberations. The complexities of transgender youth support are laid bare, and we dissect the potential ramifications on policy and the lives of those affected. Through engaging discussions and personal insights, this episode is an enlightening collage, reflecting on the triumphs, the trials, and the tireless pursuit of acceptance that defines the queer experience. Join us for an episode that promises to educate, inspire, and celebrate the rich diversity of queer voices.

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, david Mendoza has a special report on Lavender Graduation. Then Brett Cullum talks with Desi Love Blake, also known as Ron Kerr, who recently won Miss Gay America in Little Rock this past January.

Speaker 2:

My mom would go to work before I'd have to go to school and so I would be home by myself for about 30 minutes and I would go and play in her heels, like I would go get them out of her closet, and I would walk around the house in her high heels and a couple of times I forgot to put them up and she would find them in my bedroom and she'd come home from work and we'd have a discussion and she wasn't happy about it. You don't play about shoes.

Speaker 1:

Also, brett talks with Jeff Robertson, whose drag persona is Varla Jean Merman.

Speaker 3:

She will be performing a show called Stand by your Drag May 3rd at the Match Space Start charging people to see you and you can't give it away for free Benefits, yes, and things, but you can't do bars every night because people will never pay to see you. And it was a very hard transition time because you're not making any money. You're doing one show rather than every night making a little bit. But in the end I mean it was such great advice.

Speaker 1:

And we have news wrap from this Way Out, and we have news wrap from this way out Queer Voices starts now.

Speaker 4:

I'm Davis Mendoza-Rizman, he him pronouns. And today we're spotlighting a very special event at the University of Houston and college campuses across the US the upcoming Lavender Graduation Ceremony at the end of the spring 2024 semester.

Speaker 5:

Lavender Graduation means so much to so many different generations of LGBTQ students.

Speaker 4:

That was Katie Tolman, former president of the queer student organization Global and current student liaison for the UH LGBTQ plus Alumni Association, who we'll be hearing from throughout this report. We'll also be hearing from Renee Mendiola, past Lavender graduate and student speaker in 2019, as well as community speaker in 2023.

Speaker 6:

A part of me that was shunned or that took years to be accepted by others was being celebrated at an institution, a public institution. To me, that was the pinnacle of progress. That just meant so much to me and I was so happy.

Speaker 4:

The origins of Lavender graduation trace back to the University of Michigan in 1995, when founder Dr Ronnie Sanlo, who identifies as a Jewish lesbian, was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation. It was through this experience that she came to understand the pain felt by many of the queer college students she taught as a professor. At the first ever iteration of Lavender Graduation, three whole graduates participated, but by 2001, there were over 45 Lavender Graduation ceremonies at colleges and universities nationwide. Today there are about 220 nationwide and only nine in Texas. However, this year's celebration comes amid significant changes following Texas Senate Bill 17, which led to the disbandment of diversity, equity and inclusion offices, including the University of Houston's LGBTQ Plus Resource Center.

Speaker 5:

It was news to me just as much as it was to anyone else, when they put that piece of paper on the door.

Speaker 4:

Katie's referring to a UH-branded note that was taped to the wall outside of the UH LGBTQ Resource Center. That simply stated in accordance with Texas Senate Bill 17, the LGBTQ Resource Center has been disbanded.

Speaker 5:

I had people as the president at the time of Global. I had people blowing up my phone with pictures and freaking out saying they're safe space gone, what else, what all is this? That was my safe space too. It was very scary to find out. You know, to have like the second home of mine ripped away from me moments before the school year started was absolutely horrible, and I think the first thing on a lot of people's minds, one of the things that I kept getting emails about, was not only does that piece of paper worry students for a safe place, but what about the programs in there? What about everything that took place in there? What about the Lavender graduation ceremony that everybody was all so excited about? That the LGBT Center hosted was all so excited?

Speaker 4:

about that the LGBT Center hosted. And for Rene, even though he had graduated four years before the Resource Center closed down, he had this to say about returning to campus to speak at last year's Lavender graduation it's a different kind of hurt to have something taken away from you.

Speaker 6:

You know, to have gained something and then have it taken away. That's a different hurt and a different kind of different level of violation over never having something at all. It was infinitely harder. It was so much harder for me because I was coming back knowing that, you know, post SB17, everyone was so like just the same spirit. You know, we had the same spirit of like uplifting others and you know, but there was a somber undertone and it was just so much.

Speaker 6:

It was a lot for me and I was gonna try not to get up there and cry but I did because I mean, the room that we were in there was a specific memory that happened there whenever my friend who passed away, who was also a really big component of the Resource Center, of the LGBTQ Resource Center, we all met there and we had a great time and it was like that room is where it happened and the fact that I was back there, you know, after the Resource Center was gone and he's gone, it was a lot. We were all there at a loss. We were kind of like it felt like a mourning.

Speaker 4:

With the UHLGBTQ Resource Center now disbanded and programs like Lavender Graduation banned from being funded and coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs due to SB17, organization of the ceremony is now led by the UHLGBTQ Plus Alumni Association and student organizations like Global, a partnership which earned them the Outstanding Collaboration Award this month. At the university's Leadership and Legacy Awards Campus Leaders Ceremony, the night is long and the path is dark. Look to the sky for one place.

Speaker 1:

That one will come. This is Queer Voices.

Speaker 8:

I am Brett Cullum and right now I am talking with our local drag icon, desi Love Blake. Out of drag, you may know him as Ron Kerr, but Desi has recently won Miss Gay America 2024, which is a huge, huge deal. Pageant queens only dream of this kind of a title and we are all so proud of Desi for bringing the crown home. So welcome Desi Love Blake to Queer Voices. Hi, how are you? I'm great, especially talking to you. I'm so glad that we could connect. You know this Miss Gay America title is far from your first. I know that you've been in pageants for several years. Can you give me just a few awards, if you can, or the titles that you've held?

Speaker 2:

I'll give you the most important ones. I've been Miss Texas Continental, I've been Miss Gay Texas America, miss Gay Northeast America, miss Gay Southwest America and Miss Gay Midwest America, and now I'm Miss Gay America.

Speaker 8:

Which, of course, is the ultimate honor, and you won that in Little Rock, right? I did yes, yes, which it kind of alternates between Little Rock and Dallas. Is it still doing that? No, it's been in.

Speaker 2:

Little Rock for the last couple of years it hasn't been in Dallas for a long time.

Speaker 8:

I just kind of remember that from way back in the day.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it did used to be in Dallas some, but it hasn't been there in a while, like I've been competing for 10 years and it hasn't been in Dallas the whole time.

Speaker 8:

Oh wow, so it's solely Little Rock, and usually in January, right?

Speaker 2:

Yes, it used to be in October. Like the couple of places I competed, I did Nashville, memphis, new Orleans, st Louis and now it stayed in Little Rock. So what does winning this title, miss Gay America, means to you personally? It was really a goal that I set out to do and I'm the kind of person that once I put my mind to something and I really want, I'm going to go for it until it's mine. And so you know I had a lot of bumps in the road.

Speaker 2:

Anything that's worth having is hard to get, so if it wasn't hard to get it wouldn't be worth having. But it's really rewarding. It's kind of like a blue check on social media for the young kids. It's kind of like a stamp of approval in the industry that we have the art of fetal impersonation and it's really. It makes you feel like you've accomplished something greater than yourself and that in this industry there's not a lot of things that make you feel like you're on the right track and you're doing the right thing. And pageantry is one of those, because it kind of gut checks you but at the same time it rewards you when it's time.

Speaker 8:

We've talked to a lot of pageant queens on the show and it's interesting because I think you queens always have these different experiences and I love hearing about a lot of people say it's a confidence builder.

Speaker 2:

But both it goes through confidence or knock you on your ass.

Speaker 8:

Well, let's travel back a bit. How did you find drag? How did you start Take me to when you were a baby, when I was little, I used to.

Speaker 2:

My mom would go to work before I have to go to school and so I would be home by myself for about 30 minutes and I would go and play in her heels, like I would go get them out of her closet and I would walk around the house in her high heels and a couple of times I forgot to put them up and she would find them in my bedroom and she'd come home from work and we'd have a discussion and she wasn't happy about it. You don't play about shoes, and it was weird because she wore like a size five or something. My mom was tiny, so however fit in her shoes, who knows and then graduated from high heels to my sister's Barbies. I used to have to beg her to play with her Barbies because my mom didn't want me doing any of that kind of stuff. So in the summertime, when my parents were at work, I would have to ask my sister to play with her Barbies and she would always try to make me do things for her, like go get donuts or cook grilled cheese, or she always blackmailed me in order to play with her Barbies and it was rude, but I did it anyway because I didn't have anything else to do and I wanted to play. I like to dress them up and I like to All the things that comes with Barbie and fashion, and I would have to. What's funny is when I would have them out and I'd be playing and then I would hear one of my parents pull up because they were home early from work and I would scramble to put them all back in the box and put them back in her room before they came in and then from there I did theater and choir and music and acted a little bit and sang a little bit.

Speaker 2:

And then, when I was about 30 years old, I did a bowling charity. I still bowl in leagues now with my family, my sister and my brother, but we did a bowling league and they had a charity, was Bowler Beehive and we were dressed in drag for charity organizations and I'd actually at that point I had never been to a drag show. I had to go check it out in Houston. I went to Michael's Outpost, went to EJ's and saw what was going on and I was really excited about it. And then from there everything just kind of happened really fast. You know, I started working at EJ's A year and a half, two years later, I won Muscat, texas, america. I was on my first trip to Muscat America, and so really I've been fighting this battle and trying to be Muscat America since the very beginning.

Speaker 8:

Yeah, no, it sounds like it.

Speaker 2:

But it sounds like you came into the actual art form a little bit later in life compared to some people. It was an accident. It was a real estate agent. Nowhere on my radar did I ever see Drag Queen.

Speaker 8:

Wow, that is a crazy career shift. Was it about drag that just made you fall in love and say, hey, I'm going to change everything?

Speaker 2:

Well, it combined the things that I really enjoyed. I always enjoyed acting, I enjoyed singing, but now I didn't have to use my own voice, I could use somebody else's voice, so that was a little more relaxing. It had the glamour that I used to have with the Barbies or you know that I like to see, you know, hollywood celebrities, that sort of thing. So I took all the things that I enjoyed and put it into one and so it just, it just it's a blessing in a way, because it wasn't something that I was searching for, but it kind of found me and it it like made me in life feel a little more complete, like I wasn't just getting up and doing the same thing every day Like everybody else in the world. I have, like, this cool job where I get to be creative and have fun and interact with other people and make them happy, and that's what I get to do all the time. It's my full-time gig.

Speaker 8:

That's amazing. I think that a lot of times we find that our careers find us rather than us kind of planning exactly what we're going to be. It's kind of a running joke right now that every drag queen has three names, so Desi, love and Fake. Can you break that down for me? Where did you get those three? Well?

Speaker 2:

back to the Barbies. So my sister, when I used to play, there was one Barbie and she was like a rock star to me. I would do concerts with her and things like that and her name was Desi and so when it came time to do my name, that's kind of where I got my first name from. The last name I'm not really the love, I don't really know where that came from, but the Blake. My drag mom is Lana Blake in Houston, texas, and so that's where the Blake name comes from.

Speaker 8:

The Blake family is amazing. I mean, Lana is a legend here and she has so many people that have kind of been influenced by her. What did you learn the most from Lana? I mean, what did she really kind of impart to you as far as wisdom?

Speaker 2:

When I was first starting, I was competing for Miss EJ's and this was, like God, I think my fourth time in drag I'd only been performing like a couple of months and I walked into the dressing room and there was four other contestants and I I had on blue eyeshadow and pink blush and cover girl and I looked a mess. And at EJ's in the dressing room there was this separate bathroom off to the dressing room and Lana was in there. I didn't know her yet. Roxanne came up to me and she said, hey, Lana wants to see you in the restroom. I'm like, okay, so I go in the restroom and Lana closes the door and she said do you mind if I help you? And I said, sure, she says okay, don't be mad at me. And she wiped off my whole face and repainted my face for the pageant and then I won.

Speaker 2:

And that wasn't really how she became my mom. That was just how we kind of made a connection and started working together. I was competing for a newcomer pageant and there was another girl that was going to compete and her name was Destiny Love. And her name was Destiny Love, and so Lana and I were headed to Galveston for a show and I said do you mind being my drag mom, if I can use your name? I said you don't have to have the responsibility, you don't have to take care of me, you don't have to do all of those things. Because she had been in this business for 20-something years and had never had a drag child before and didn't really want one because she didn't want the responsibility. So we kind of worked that out and she was okay with it and it really turned out to be a great relationship for a long time.

Speaker 8:

I love Lana, and definitely that's a great connection to have in the Houston drag scene. Now I know you both in and out of drag. I know you as Ron, and as Ron you can be pretty quiet, demure, kind of hang back a little bit. But Desi is so much larger than life. So does something happen to you mentally when you transform into Desi?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, growing up I was always bullied a lot so I kind of try to stay in the background, a little insecure, not really like a social butterfly, more of an introvert. But Desi is like a mask that allows me to go out there and be my true inner self and not be so worried about. I mean, I know we're being judged, we're drag, but not be so judged as like to the core of the person that I am. I'm being judged for being this drag queen.

Speaker 8:

When you perform. You mentioned that you like not having to sing yourself. Now, what singers do you usually gravitate towards? What performers are you kind of constantly on rotation with? Lately?

Speaker 2:

Actually my favorite singer for my whole life. Really, I found her when I was like five years old, I think. At that time it was the Judds, but now it's Wynonna Judd and she's a drag queen herself with the glitter and the makeup and the costume. She's the hair, so it was natural.

Speaker 8:

SELA BLAKE. Who, in drag right now, currently, do you admire? Who do you look at and go gosh, they're doing it right.

Speaker 2:

There's a lot of queens that I admire, but one queen she's a former Miss Gay America as well, asia O'Hara. And it's because, you know, I actually crowned her Miss Texas. So when she won Miss Texas I was the one stepping down and she was the first Miss Texas to ever win Miss Gay America while she was Miss Texas Still is the only one. And then she went on to RuPaul's Drag Race and now she's the host of the RuPaul's Drag Race show in Vegas. Paul's Drag Race and now she's the host of the RuPaul's Drag Race show in Vegas. Her work ethic, she works so hard and she just is like the epitome of professional and I really look up to that because somebody who doesn't stop that has no quit. That goes until they reach what they're after, and the sky's the limit. Now, with RuPaul's Drag Race and the opportunities that are opened up in the pop culture for drag.

Speaker 8:

I feel like that that show really has changed the scene a lot. It's really brought drag to a higher level. People are more familiar with it. I think that years and years ago it was like what is this underground scene? And now it's kind of popular entertainment. So I think that that's very interesting. And Asia, of course, is one of my favorites from that show Absolutely. Have you ever auditioned for it? Is that something on your radar?

Speaker 2:

I auditioned one time, like probably six years ago. You know I'm a little bit I hate to say this, but I'm a little bit older and I don't know that, like, I don't feel that, like you said, it is me being kind of an introvert. I don't know that I have the right personality to be on that show. I could definitely hold my own when it came to the drag part, but I don't know that I'm a large enough personality to take up enough space on the show to be important or interesting enough.

Speaker 8:

It's interesting that you're that self-aware of your personality and relations to a production of a show, because definitely I think reality TV they do want you to be a big personality. But my money would be on you if you ever got on there, because your drag is impeccable. You would definitely bring the looks and I think you could definitely make a big dent in that show if they ever were smart enough to cast you.

Speaker 2:

All they would have to do is not feed me for a couple of hours because I get hangry quick, and they would have a whole different episode on their hands.

Speaker 8:

All right, well you heard it here on Queer Voices. That is the secret I wanted to ask you. You were talking about your family before and it sounds like your family when you were growing up were kind of like don't do these things, are they supportive now?

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, my mom has been to every game America's Passion I've competed in. She's traveled all over the country to different places my dad, my sister, other extended family and friends. So it's when I first started doing drag, my mom was concerned because she was like you know, she didn't really. It was kind of before RuPaul's Drag Race and she didn't really know much and she thought I wanted to be dressed like a woman or that I wanted to be a woman. And I had to explain to her that you know, I wasn't trying to be a woman. I wasn't trying to be female. I wasn't trying to be any of that. I wasn't trying to leave myself. This was a character I had been an actor for a lot of my life. So this is just another character that I was going to play. When I put on the makeup, when I do the show, this is my job, this is the role I play when I take off the makeup. It's back to Ron.

Speaker 8:

There's no like dreaming or wanting to be female or any of that. And I think that's a hot topic in drag right now because of the kind of proximity to the transgender community and drag and transgender community and drag, and I think a lot of people find their identity through drag and maybe that's part of their journey to becoming transgender. But then we have people like you that know, hey, it's a character, it's entertainment, it's not your identity necessarily, and I think that's an important distinction. Definitely, if I want to go see a Desi Love Blake show, where am I going to go to regularly these days?

Speaker 2:

Well, right now I work a lot at JR's Houston, south Beach, houston Rich's Houston. On Friday we have our Drag Queen game show. I have some random places here. I host Bingo at Eureka Heights Brewery. We have brunches at Electric Feel Good. This Sunday I have a brunch at El Big Bad. It's downtown and it's at noon. It's a Tex-Mex brunch with margaritas. So come join us this Sunday at El Big Bad downtown. So this Sunday, el Big Bad, downtown. So just random places. My home bar is Rumors closed in Galveston and Hamburger Mary's is not doing shows right now. So I had to really get back in the game and scramble, because I'd gotten so comfortable for so long, being at Rumors in Galveston for seven years and so it's different. I'm back to being on the road, traveling and just trying to work different places.

Speaker 8:

It's funny, the venues do change a lot. I places. It's funny, the venues do change a lot. I really do miss rumors Hamburger Mary's. I wasn't aware that they weren't doing shows right now.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, not since, like Mark Wow.

Speaker 8:

What do you want your reign as Miss Gay America to mean in that arena, that title, what's your message If you were going to say this is what I want my reign to mean?

Speaker 2:

I think I just want to inspire people to know that you know, if you really want something and it's really a goal of yours and you feel like you can achieve it, then don't stop until you accomplish that, because there's nothing worse than having regret, there's nothing worse than looking back on life and thinking, man, I wish I would have gone one more time.

Speaker 2:

Or, man, I was first runner up, if I had just tried one more time, and that really ate me alive a lot and it's really what kept me going. But I enjoyed doing pageantry anyway, because it keeps you polished, it keeps you. You get critiques and so it keeps you, keeps your level up, it keeps your game going. You don't get complacent because you just you have to keep up with the latest trend, and the girls are getting younger and younger and more and more hungry and more and more competitive and more and more creative. The digital world is crazy. So back to your question if there was something that I wanted to leave from my reign, it's just that I hope that I inspire somebody to follow their goals and their dreams and to not give up.

Speaker 8:

That's an excellent message and you definitely have that tenacity. I've seen that in you time and time again. As an entertainer, drag has become sort of a political hot button too. There's a lot of people that are kind of rallying against the art form. Have you felt any heat from the proposed legislation? Are you noticing that your venues are getting more narrow?

Speaker 2:

I've had a couple of private events that have canceled because they've been worried about this or that or the other. I've had protests at shows. We went to a show in Grittum and it's a little small town and we had to be escorted in and out with police. So, yeah, we've definitely had our issues where we've seen that, but for the most part, I think everybody is really supportive, loving, caring, and you just have to be aware of your surroundings and I don't think it really has anything to do with drag these days. I think, in general, you just have to be more aware of your surroundings and be careful.

Speaker 8:

Well, drag definitely seems to have permeated the culture, Like we mentioned earlier, with RuPaul and that drag race show and a lot of bars, and even you know you're at a Mexican restaurant this Sunday. I mean that's pretty popular.

Speaker 2:

So a lot of people are out there.

Speaker 8:

It does Drag, and Tex-Mex is my favorite, but many people seem to be getting into this art form. What would you give advice to somebody that was just starting out to be a queen or a king, like if? If you were going to Lana, blake them and pull them into the bathroom, what would you say?

Speaker 2:

I think there's many layers to this, you know there's there's people that do this for a hobby, there's people that do this for charity, there's people that do this for a career. So it really just depends what path you're trying to take, what path you're trying to be on. If this is what you want to do for a career, it's very hard. It's almost to the point of exhaustion that you have to stay on top of what you're doing, on top of your game, on top of networking, keeping yourself fresh, reinventing yourself. So I would just say, don't ever get complacent, and when you think you made it, then that's when you stop growing and that's when you start dying.

Speaker 8:

You think you made it, then that's when you start growing and that's when you start dying. I see Love Blake. Where do you go from here? You've achieved your goal You've become Miss Gay America for this year. What is next? What's your next?

Speaker 2:

goal. I think I focused so long on this that I don't even know what that is yet. So I'm just going to enjoy this year and see what comes out of it, what opportunities come along, and just kind of gauge from that.

Speaker 8:

Well, Desi Love Blake. We root for you all the time. I've known you for a long time. I've followed a lot of your antics and shows and things like that. You're always such an impressive, impeccable, polished performer and just an amazing illusionist in everything that you do. Definitely, if anybody out there is wondering whether or not to go to a Desi Love Blake show, do it, do yourself a favor, and thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Speaker 8:

This is Queer Voices. Today I am joined by one of my favorite drag artists. It's Varla Jean Merman, also known as Jeffrey Robertson. He is coming to the match may 3rd to premiere his new show. Stand by your drag. I'm excited because varla seems to come to houston at least once a year. Lately I've been seeing you pretty consistently, varla. So welcome back to houston and welcome to queer voices thank you.

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, I was born in houston I did not know this, yeah at herman hospital many, many, many years ago, because it's not even Herman Hospital anymore. But yeah, I was born there, my dad was stationed there and we lived there for a brief period before we went to New York. Oh wow. But where did you grow up? Because you obviously grew up here. I grew up in Louisiana, in Louisiana.

Speaker 8:

So that explains the accent.

Speaker 3:

Yes, very close to Houston. Yes, very close to Houston. No-transcript. When I graduated from LSU, well, during my time at LSU I met a guy who introduced me to John Waters movies and it was I couldn't believe the exit and it blew my Southern Baptist mind that there was this going on out there. I mean, I had no idea and you know. So I kind of was just so inspired by Divine, which I think many, many people have been, and so you know, I kind of did a lot of stuff sort of shock value.

Speaker 3:

But I met a guy who introduced me but he would carry a video camera around with him everywhere and back then it was like a small microwave, you know, a video camera around my head, and we would just film these videos and we'd give them to the, the dance clubs to play, and they were kind of divine inspired, like it would be 30 minutes of me running around the streets of new orleans being chased by a plastic rat, you know, screaming, and it would be on a string, you know, and we'd pull it by and then I just, and we'd get people's reactions and all of that. So we would play those in the bars, because back then, you know, for dance mixes, there weren't videos and all the bars were starting to, you know, do that. This is like with mtv started, I guess. So that's sort of how I just started dressing up and drag and then we did a talent competition, me and the same guy, and we told us the story of varla and it was half video, half live performance. And so because my friend was a videographer and, uh, you know, no one was using video back then and it was, you know, I mean I had no one used it, you know, and he would just edit with two tape decks so it'd have like the rainbow thing that would come down, you know, and uh, but it was amazing and that's just sort of how the character of barla happened and I mostly did videos we would give to the bars.

Speaker 3:

I would rarely ever perform and it wasn't until a friend from my high school I went to a gifted and talented high school in Natchitoches for the state of Louisiana, called the Louisiana School for Math, science and the Arts, and my friend who went there with me had moved to New York and he and drag in New Orleans at the time was very, you know, it was just like people lip syncing to, I think at the time, melissa Manchester, you know, in a beaded gown, you know, taking dollars. And my friend went to New York and he says, oh my God, last night I went to see this drag queen and she was doing a monologue over Wagner aria, the Liebestod by Eva Martin, about this drag queen going into Tower Records and trying to buy a classical record and mispronouncing it wrong, and the tower records person was, you know, so bitchy to him. And so then he came in actually with eva martin, which was eva martin, and it was just, it was most I couldn't believe like what are they doing in new york city with? Because I was an opera fan, like wagner arias, in drag it turns out that was miss coco peru, of course I, yeah, and so I was like I'm going to move to New York because this is where drag is happening. And it was.

Speaker 3:

There was a huge sort of drag renaissance. I mean this is what RuPaul came out out of the early nineties, it was wig stock and Lady Bunny and just lip sync. I mean there was a huge drag renaissance. So I actually was able to get in on that and you, you know, people were singing live and it was just a different time in drag, the 90s, in New York City, and I purposely moved there to meet Miss Coco and I did, you know, and now we're friends and we've done a movie together. So but that's how it just sort of started. And I moved to New York to do advertising. I worked at a big Ogilvy and Matherather. I was a junior art director, but after a while, you know, I was performing so much and I got into the broadway show chicago as an understudy and I just quit the job finally in 98, and then I started going to p town and then I made enough money to live on. So I just I've done drag without another job since 98 that is amazing to go from Ogilvy and Mather to.

Speaker 8:

I'm a drag queen. All because you stalk Coco. Yeah, I know yeah.

Speaker 3:

And he even said you know, and he is the one that did tell me, I remember because I was performing in bars and he said look, if you want a career at this, you have to stop performing in the bars and it's going to be very hard. Save your money, because you're not going to make money for a while, start charging people to see you and you can't give it away for free. You know benefits, yes, and things, but you can't do bars every night because people will never pay to see you. And it was a very hard transition time because you're not making any money, you're doing one show rather than every night making a little bit. But in the end, I mean, it was such great advice and you know, you know to write an entire show rather than just do a couple numbers every night in a bar. You know, it just sort of changed my life.

Speaker 3:

And also, back then I was doing shock value stuff. I was doing divine stuff. I had a number where I had a number where I was like making out with a giant cow tongue. I don't know what was going on, cow tongues were so expensive. I would put it in the freezer and then, when I knew I was doing it. I, you know, I, before I went to work it'll give me. I would put it in the sink to thaw and I keep refreezing it over and over.

Speaker 3:

I mean it was just sort of shock value stuff. I would jump up. I mean I was known as the belly flop girl. I would jump up in the air and land on my. I do a belly flop and I had these big nerf ball breasts so it kind of stopped the fall. But you know, I was just having to do shock value stuff, because in a bar you have to do whatever you can to get their attention. People aren't listening, they're not looking, and so you know I did it, but it was going to kill me. So thank God Ms Koga told me to get out of the bars.

Speaker 8:

Okay, so the name varla jean merman. I can kind of guess where this is coming from, but I wanted to get it straight from the horse's mouth where did you come up with this name?

Speaker 3:

you know the little rascals. There was a character named darla and I thought, oh, it's like carla, because carla's kind of country, right, so, carla, but it's darla, it's so exotic. And then I heard the name varla, because my same friend who introduced me to John Waters introduced me to Russ Meyer and there is a movie called Faster, pussycat, kill, kill. And the lead character is named Varla, looks nothing like my Varla. She has dark hair and bangs and you know, yeah, she's a little bit of a resemblance. Oh my God, she's amazing. So I just love that name.

Speaker 3:

And then merman when we did this talent show it was about varla thinking that she was the illegitimate daughter of ethel merman and ernest borgnein. You know she had no proof, but ethel merman and ernest borgnein were married, I think for 38 days, and in ethel merman's autobiography that's how I know this in ethel merman's autobiography she says has a chapter called my marriage to ernest borgne, 9. And you turn the page and it's blank, which is so delicious that you know she could even get the publisher to like print blank page. I mean it's so funny and amazing and I thought well, if she had had a child. She was too old at the time, but if she had had a child with ernest borg 9, you know she would have just gotten rid of it and shipped it off to an orphanage in Louisiana. And that's sort of where the character.

Speaker 3:

And then, jean, I was Varla Merman forever. And then there was a drunk drag queen who was always in the bar drinking in New Orleans at a bar called Good Friends, and she just used to call me Varla Jean, like Norma Jean, and finally I was like you know what I really like? That it's like Norma Jean. It has a little bit of, you know, like the girl next door quality to it. So I just I I'm letting drunk people name me in in that is the best advice.

Speaker 8:

Yes, Let drunk people name you in a bar, I mean. But Marla Jean Merman. I like the combination of starlet and Broadway diva. It just kind of has that heft. Thank you and three names. You just got to have three names. Yeah yeah, I think we've gone insane. I think some of the RuPaul girls now come out and they're like 15 different names, oh my God.

Speaker 3:

And you know what A name will make you. A name can make you because people just remember it. If you think of like Pandora Box, it's just like it sticks in your head. I mean even Bianca Del Rio. But you know there's a lot of these names that just like sound alike. And you know they do sound alike because they're all in kind of drag families but it kind of waters down the punch. You know what I mean. One of the things Trixie Mattel. You're never going to forget that name. You know what I mean.

Speaker 8:

It's like amazing I always notice in your shows and that we love, and I actually have a voice coach who's such a big fan of yours. Were you trained formally as a singer I did.

Speaker 3:

I went to LSU and I was a vocal major. Now, at the time I had such a crazy high voice and it was so light. I wasn't really a tenor, I had more of a countertenor voice and I had that voice until about 44. And then I don't know if my balls dropped or what my voice when I got into my 40s, deepened so much. I mean I was singing operas. I sang, you know, the part in as Mary Sunshine, but if you think about there are really no old falsettos. I mean, even if you look at, like Joni Mitchell, over time the voice just gets lower and lower. I remember one time I think it was on the Kennedy Center Honors where they were honoring Barbara Streisand, and somebody who wasn't musical put together her singing people over you know 30 years and it's like people, people who need people, people who need people, and it kept going down and down and down. That's my life.

Speaker 8:

We're talking to Varla Jean Merman or Jeffrey Robertson. He's going to be at the match May 3rd. Stand by your drag. What is this show? I mean, I know I've seen a lot of it. I've seen Under a Big Top, I've seen the Tic Tac Incident, I've seen gosh I can't even remember all of the names but what is this one? What are we in store for?

Speaker 3:

I live in florida and I love florida and florida has amazing people in it and an amazing lgbtq community. But, as you know, the government really isn't on our side there and you know as well as it hasn't been many times throughout. You know even our country. You know when the drag bands started to happen, it happened Like suddenly you weren't allowed to perform outside in Florida and people don't know this happened, but in many of the prides in Florida were canceled last year Canceled, I mean canceled. And in Fort Lauderdale, in Wilton Manors, which is arguably one of the gayest cities in the country, at Wilton Manors and they call it Stonewall Pride and let that sink. In Stonewall Pride, no drag queens last year were allowed to perform. I mean an entire pride taken away from these girls. And then you know they said, oh, in the community. Well, you know you can still go and drag, but you know we weren't allowed to perform and it. You know you can still go and drag, but you know we weren't allowed to perform and it was just a very. I know I'm very lucky. I perform all over the country, but I have friends who only perform in wild manor. It's my friend, miss bouvier, who has this amazing voice, suddenly had no career, had no job, just boom overnight. You know what I mean. And then also, you know it was in texas and of course in in tennessee where I was, and I just this is crazy. So I started to write the show and then, of course, you know, after a while it was after Pride.

Speaker 3:

You know the law, all the states. They said the law was too vague to be enforced. Even the Supreme Court said you know, this law can't stand how it's written. It didn't say that it was unconstitutional. It's just too vague to be enforced. But it was unconstitutional. It's just too vague to be informed. But what it did? It sort of instilled hate in people across the country, like basically, now our team now hates this, so let's all hate this. And that has not gone away. Now I get trolls online. Never had them before this legislation.

Speaker 3:

You put a picture up and then someone just writes the meanest, most horrible thing you know, with pictures of John Wayne Gacy dressed like a clown, comparing it to this. I've never done children's entertainment, I'm an adult entertainer. I know the drag queen story hour really just blew people's minds. Do you know what I mean? But drag, you know, as long as it's appropriate, you know it's. They're a clown, I mean, in many ways. And you know, just to suddenly say that we should be outlawed was just wild to me and that it could happen so fast. You know what I mean. It just happened really fast. And so the show kind of deals with all of that. And just my take on varla's take on, you know, being banned. You know her colleagues, because you know varla is a real woman. So so no talking amongst yourselves.

Speaker 3:

And now the hate that's been instilled in the culture. I have a video in my show I'm still here the Stephen Sondheim, but we're still here, and it shows drag throughout our country's history. If you go to the World War II Museum website which just sounds crazy and that's actually in New Orleans worldwartomuseumorg search for drag and there's an entire article and pictures of soldiers during world war ii getting ready in drag to perform for other soldiers and it was very common. And I think in the article it says the uso said these shows were not a frill, they were a necessity, and this is world war ii and it was fine. So for political advancement, people made people scared of drag. Drag queens aren't pedophiles, they aren't groomers, but they were able to succeed in creating this fear, and so that's what the show is about, but it's funny, it's all about persecution, but it's funny, I know.

Speaker 3:

It sounds so dramatic.

Speaker 8:

Well, I know your shows are always just a ton of fun, but let's talk about one other aspect that people love and that many of my friends would kill me if I don't ask you about, because we're all fervid fans and we're brought it and we watch it like all the time, but it's Girls Will Be Girls, of course. The movie, the myth, the legend, the ultimate drag queen acting challenge. How did that movie come about?

Speaker 3:

I was friends with coco and I was also friends with seth rudetsky. I don't know if you know who that is. He's a big, uh, broadway commenter but he's also, you know, he does his own shows and he plays, you know, in in the pits. And seth's good friend and I was doing shows with Seth all the time when I moved to New York City. Seth's good friend is Jack Plotnick who plays Evie. So the three of us are all sort of connected, the four of us. And so Jack Plotnick's good friend is Richard Day, who wrote the movie.

Speaker 3:

And he decided to write a film with our characters and just took our characters and put them in a movie I characters and just took our characters and put them in a movie. I mean I have to say the movie still holds up great. I mean it's it's still really funny. It's still really funny, it's really great. It was so much fun to film. I mean it was one of the greatest times of my life and you know I had never really done movies like that. So Jack and Clinton were, you know, I just learned on the spot of how to do a film.

Speaker 3:

You have to do things exactly the same way every time so that someone can edit you and if you don't, it may be your best take, but they won't use it because you didn't have your hand in a certain place and they can't make it work. So they take a take that's not as good. Amazing. It was like three weeks. It was all filmed in richard day's house. Every single, almost every single room is one room in richard day's house the, the, the diner, the hospital, evie's bedroom. It's one room. They would paint, just totally paint, and change it. It was one bedroom. It was amazing. It was amazing. You know this is before. Things were heavily filtered, so it, that's what we really looked like. God, don't look like that now. Oh, you still look great, but you can with the filter.

Speaker 8:

But that was a good time, a good filter never hurt. Yeah, I know it was an amazing time.

Speaker 3:

I mean, I love doing that film.

Speaker 8:

Well, I swear girls will be girls. You know, obviously. Farley, Jean, Merman, Coco, Peru, all of this Deplodnik amazing, and it feels like a John Waters film without John Waters.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's really funny, and every single person in the movie is a man. Every single person.

Speaker 3:

Even the child that plays me as a baby, that was a little boy, you know why. What's so funny is that people at the time thought that I was a real woman. You know, like, who is this real woman in it? Which was just so funny, you know, because the way richard filmed it. I'm really big, I mean, I'm a foot taller than all of them and uh, the way he filmed it, you just, there's only one scene, I think, where I look like a moose, where I put the stuff under my nose, where I'm like I'm like a hunk. But he really knew what he was doing, and the DP, obviously he did too. So I mean they really it was great.

Speaker 8:

Well, that actually brings me to my next question. Varla Gene Merman, obviously on stage looks like a woman. I mean, let's face it. Every time I come it's a flawless illusion and everything else, but when I look at you as Jeffrey Robertson, you're like a bodybuilder.

Speaker 3:

You're like a big guy. Well, my costume is great and I remember my costume in New Orleans was like you're starting to look like a man. We got to make the butt and hair bigger.

Speaker 3:

Yeah the proportions are amazing. I used to wear smaller hair and you can do that, but once you get bigger, you have to take away from the shoulders. You got to make this bigger, you got to make this bigger and you got to make this bigger so that your waist looks smaller. I mean, it's all proportions, you know? And yeah, I just work with good people.

Speaker 8:

I don't see that in drag right now. I mean, it seems like all of these kids that are on drag racing things has standards, right.

Speaker 3:

There is a certain standard that you have to meet in all these different. There are rules now in drag, and when I started there were no rules in drag. That was the amazing thing. You just did whatever you wanted. You didn't have to look a certain way, you didn't have to glue down your eyebrows, you didn't have to ombre. There just were no rules.

Speaker 3:

And now these new drag artists have to follow these certain rules and if they don't get on that show, people question their validity, right. I mean, if you're not on that show, what's wrong with you? And people have chosen to be on that show, not necessarily because they're really talented and although there have been some amazingly talented people on the show but they're also chosen to be a certain character in the plot of the show. And so you know what, if you're an amazing performer and just kind of a boring person which I think that's me you know you'll never get on that show. You know what I mean. So your art is really second to your character in and out of drag.

Speaker 3:

And also, when I started drag, there was a big thing about sort of character drag like Kiki and Herb. She's a character, right. Kiki, Dina Martina, that's a character. Miss Richfield, that's a character. You can't do character drag on RuPaul's Drag Race. Why? Because they interview you in and out of drag constantly, so you can't suddenly be a character. It would just seem like what's wrong with you. You have to be the same person in drag as you are out of drag. Like look someone like Bianca Del Rio, who is amazing, but she is in drag, who she is out of drag? Right, they all. There's no character drag anymore. It just doesn't exist. People aren't characters. They are one person who does both.

Speaker 8:

I'm trying to think of a good example of somebody that and I think you're right it feels like their in and out of drag personas have merged, which I don't think was the rule of the day back 10, 15 years ago, before this thing, people were characters and they behaved completely different.

Speaker 3:

You know what I mean, but you can't do that on television. You just can't.

Speaker 8:

Well, you could. You would just look very bipolar and very schizophrenic and be like oh, what's happening and also you film them half in and half out.

Speaker 3:

You can't really do that. I mean, I had a very strict rule for a long time that people could take pictures either before or after. It wasn't the in-between, yeah, during Maybe some closest or whatever, but it just sort of spoiled the illusion. I mean my friend Dina Martina Grady he is very strict about no pictures of him ever online out of drag, and even Lady Bunny is that way too. I mean, they do not mix, they do not want people to see the other side and they're very, very strict. It's just kind of exhausting. I do have two different accounts. I have my Jeffrey account, I have my Varla account. Sometimes I will accidentally post a Jeffrey picture to a Varla and then a day later I'm like oh shh, exactly.

Speaker 8:

It's hard to keep up with. Well, you know, there is one. I can give a good example. The Boulay brothers are out there and you will rarely. They've eliminated almost all the pictures of them out of drag.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 8:

And if I were Lady Bunny I've seen her out of drag I might have that policy too. Just kidding.

Speaker 3:

I love her. She would love that comment anyway, so you can't really hurt her feelings.

Speaker 8:

No, what surprised me the most about Lady Bunny out of drag, it looked like Lady Bunny. I mean. I just was like this doesn't change.

Speaker 3:

I'll never forget the first time I met Lady Bunny. The first time I met Lady Bunny I had a friend of mine from New Orleans had moved to New York and was kind of becoming, you know, a party promoter at Limelight, you know, one of those big church, and it was a club, and so he had me up performing in this little lounge and it was amazing. You know, I'm performing in New York City, so I'm just doing a couple numbers and lady bunny is a dj which I was just so nervous about, you know. I mean lady bunny started wigstock. I mean I knew all of this and so I was so nervous and I went to perform and I said, can you hold my handbag? She's like sure, and so I finished the number and I come to get my handbag and I pick it up and it weighs like 30 pounds. I look at it, she had filled it with empty drinks and beer bottles. That sounds so yes, for no reason. I remember just thinking, don't even react, and I just put it over my shoulder. Thanks, girl weird.

Speaker 8:

I'm talking to Varla Jean Merman in drag and Jeffrey Robertson out of drag. You have been such a delight to talk to. I cannot tell you and I'm so excited to see you at the match I go every year that you're here. I know that you work out your shows and you're headed to P-Town and we're kind of a test market for you, right? Is that kind of?

Speaker 3:

this is actually year. Stand by your Dragon is what I did all last year, and I'm starting my new show in a couple of weeks Varla Jean, the Air Roars Tour. Okay, and it's just I'm doing two at the same time right now, which is just so interesting, and I'm literally opening I'm trying it out in a couple days here in Palm Springs. I'm in Palm Springs right now. I mean P-Town, that audience, they have opinions. You want to make sure you bring a perfectly polished show to P-Town, but I love Palm Springs. They're kind of laid back and they scream and holler no matter what I do. So I'm trying that out.

Speaker 3:

I had to learn a lot of Taylor Swift. But don't tell her, because I don't want her to find me. Oh gosh.

Speaker 8:

Do you actually get to sing? Do you actually sing a Taylor?

Speaker 3:

track or two. Oh, yeah, I do. In the new show I sing, yeah, I sing like six or seven songs of Purrs.

Speaker 8:

I'm dying. I definitely want to see this, so I will be waiting That'll be next year at Match. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it. It's been a joy to have you on Queer Voices and we will see you May 3rd at the Match Theater.

Speaker 9:

Thank you. I'm John Dyer V and I'm Ava Davis With News Wrap, a summary of some of the news in, or affecting LGBTQ communities around the world for the week ending April 20, 2024. A highly controversial report by England's National Health Service calls the medical evidence supporting pediatric gender-affirming health care remarkably weak. Well-known British pediatrician, hilary Cass, was commissioned in 2020 to lead an investigation into the sharp rise in referrals to the only clinic for gender-variant youth. The Cass Review drew on research conducted by independent academics at the University of York and comments by clinicians and families. The resulting report, released on April 10, acknowledges that young people with gender dysphoria need specific health care, but it pillories all the current social and medical modes of treatment. A plethora of previous studies into the care of those whose gender differs from that identified at birth are poor-quality research. According to the Cass Review, it questions the use of reversible puberty blockers and hormone therapies that has long been accepted as the correct health care for trans young people.

Speaker 10:

One of the Cass Review's critics is Dr Hain Wong of the trans health care service organization GenderGP. Heng Wong of the trans healthcare service organization, GenderGP. In his words, it dismisses a very large number of studies and omits studies from the past two years. Hence it neglects a vast amount of evidence on the benefits of gender-affirming medical treatment for trans youth. Others are concerned that the review undermines efforts to ban conversion therapy. Providers might fear that advising caution in gender dysphoria cases could be equated with debunked methods of changing sexual orientation or gender identity through counseling. According to the Guardian, Trans young people's access to puberty blockers and hormone therapies in England has already been restricted. It will become close to impossible under the government of Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The opposition Labour Party is expected to regain power in national elections later this year, but that won't help this year. But that won't help. A party official told the Sun this week that he no longer stands by his previous statements that trans women are women.

Speaker 9:

The cast review's conclusions are reportedly being evaluated by the Independent National Health Services of Scotland and Wales. Nhs England will now hone in on gender-affirming health care for trans adults. It announced a new review the day after the cast's release, allegedly based on whistleblower complaints. The cast's review is already having ripple effects in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Speaker 10:

Health officials in both countries are now questioning the pediatric gender-affirming care they offer. Lgbtq activists in Uganda are appealing the Constitutional Court's April 3rd ruling that upheld the horrific Anti-Homosexuality Act. The 22 plaintiffs will take their argument that what's known as the Kill the Gays Law violates Uganda's Constitution to the Supreme Court. The Anti-Homosexuality Act punishes aggravated homosexuality with death. It also increases the penalty for private consensual adult same-gender sex with up to life in prison. An earlier version was struck down in 2014 on a legal technicality. Officials in the East African nation thumb their noses at the condemnations of international human rights groups. Several Western nations threaten economic sanctions. The World Bank has already suspended millions in loans to Uganda from the International Monetary Fund because the law directly violates its anti-discrimination policies.

Speaker 9:

The United States Supreme Court is allowing Idaho's ban on gender-affirming health care for trans young people to take effect. The 2023 law makes providing that care a felony. A temporary injunction against the law's enforcement was issued in December when US District Judge B Lynn Windmill said he believed it would be found unconstitutional. However, the 6-3 conservative majority of the Supreme Court reversed that decision on April 15th. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote Just do a little forum shopping for a willing judge and at the outset of the case, you can win a decree barring the enforcement of a duly enacted law against anyone. Liberal justices Katonji Brown-Jackson, sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. Two trans teens and their families are challenging the measure, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, its national office and three private law firms. The high court decision specifically shielded the plaintiffs, but the draconian Idaho ban can now be enforced against everyone else. A joint statement warned that the ruling allows the state to shut down the care that thousands of families rely on, while sowing further confusion and disruption.

Speaker 10:

West Virginia's law excluding transgender athletes from competing in school sports is out of bounds according to the Richmond, virginia-based Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Speaker 10:

Judge Toby Haytons wrote that the state's Save Women's Sports Act amounts to sex-based discrimination. Against the plaintiff, west Virginia's Republican Attorney General, patrick Morrissey, said we know the law is correct and we will use every available tool to defend it. Aclu attorneys for 8th grade trans girl track athlete, becky Pepper Jackson, argue that the ban violates Title IX, a federal law that forbids sex discrimination in schools. In Judge Hayton's words, Becky has been recognized by her community and legally changed her name, and West Virginia has issued a birth certificate listing her sex as female. Offering her a choice between not participating in sports and participating only on boys teams is no real choice at all. Becky's attorneys say the ruling is a tremendous victory for our client. Unfortunately, hayden's restricted his ruling to the plaintiff's participation on girls' teams based on her specific situation. He took pains to say that Title IX doesn't necessarily require all schools in the state to allow every trans girl to play on girls' teams.

Speaker 9:

Bills to restrict the rights of transgender people were vetoed by two Democratic governors this week. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly rejected the state legislature's prohibition on health care providers offering gender-affirming treatment to trans people under the age of 18. The Republican-backed measure also opened the door to civil lawsuits and potential disciplinary actions against offenders. In her veto message, kelly wrote this divisive legislation targets a small group of Kansans by placing government mandates on them and dictating to parents how to best raise and care for their children. I do not believe that is a conservative value, and it's certainly not a Kansas value.

Speaker 10:

Meanwhile, arizona Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill that critics say would have virtually erased the legal existence of the state's transgender and non-binary people. It would have removed the word gender from state law and replaced it with the word sex, as defined solely by biology. Hobbs also vetoed a bill that would have allowed public school teachers to post the Ten Commandments in their classrooms. Finally, dad. Bingo.

Speaker 9:

Bluey Bluey has joined the ranks of animated TV shows for preschoolers featuring queer characters. The adventures of the six-year-old Heeler Puppy, her family and friends are set in Brisbane, queensland, but the show is wildly popular around the world. In this week's extra-long season three finale, bluey's mom and dad might have to sell the family home and move away. Her sad scenario prompts a classroom discussion about other sad stories.

Speaker 7:

Her Chihuahua classmate Pretzel casually notes that when my guinea pig ran away, my mom's told me he might come back, but he didn't. Aww, TikToker.

Speaker 9:

Aussiegirlmarge called it a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment.

Speaker 7:

When my guinea pig ran away, my mom's told me he might come back, but he didn't.

Speaker 9:

Still, fans around the world celebrate the episode titled. The Sign User AtBabeDaboonie proclaimed Finally. It's the only thing Bluey was missing. Of course, social media homophobes clutched animated pearls in response. Bluey streams on Disney Plus in North America and the UK, on ABC iView Down Under and on several other outlets. Producer Sam Moore told BBC Radio 4 earlier this week that Season 4 is already in the works. He says I'm sure we have many more surprises in store for you.

Speaker 10:

That's News Wrap, global queer news with attitude for the week ending April 20th 2024. Follow the news in your area and around the world. An informed community is a strong community.

Speaker 9:

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

Speaker 10:

Thank you. Help keep us in ears around the world. At thiswayoutorg, we can also read the text of this newscast, and much more. For this Way Out, I'm Ava Davis. Stay healthy.

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And I'm John Dyer V Stay healthy, and I'm John Dyer V Stay safe.

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

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Some of the material in this program has been edited to improve clarity and run time. 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 product.

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For Queer Voices. I'm Glenn Holt.

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