Queer Voices

May 15th 2024 Queer Voices

May 15, 2024 Queer Voices
May 15th 2024 Queer Voices
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Queer Voices
May 15th 2024 Queer Voices
May 15, 2024
Queer Voices

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Imagine navigating the complex and often harrowing world of Haitian politics with someone as informed and passionate as journalist and activist Anne-christine d'Adesky. That's exactly what we do in our latest episode, as Anne-Christine shares her deeply personal connections to Haiti and her experiences fighting against HIV/AIDS. The conversation illuminates the resilience of Haitians amidst political chaos and gang violence, while recognizing the journalists who work tirelessly to bring these stories to light. Anne-Christine also highlights the importance of empowering local leadership, drawing a parallel to the global struggle for a more democratic society.

Turning our focus to the alarming rise of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation in East Africa, we grapple with the implications of Uganda and Ghana's recent laws and the disturbing influence of U.S.-based hate groups. Unpacking Project 2025's blueprint for an autocratic U.S., we detail the potential dangers this presents for the LGBTQIA+ community and devise a response plan. Through pride campaigns and calls to action, we underscore the necessity of solidarity and swift mobilization to defend our civil rights against these regressive measures—because when it comes to human rights, there's no room for complacency.

As Pride Month blooms with festivities, we celebrate LGBTQ+ representation in local government with Houston City Councilmember Mario Castillo, examining both his achievements and the challenges ahead. From the significance of openly queer officials in governance to the discord caused by competing pride events, we cover the spectrum of community dynamics. And as we continue to evolve the Queer Voices podcast, we ensure our platform remains diverse and inclusive, thanks to our dedicated team and the support of our listeners. Join us for conversations that are not just about the LGBTQ+ experience, but an integral part of the journey to equality and understanding.

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.

Imagine navigating the complex and often harrowing world of Haitian politics with someone as informed and passionate as journalist and activist Anne-christine d'Adesky. That's exactly what we do in our latest episode, as Anne-Christine shares her deeply personal connections to Haiti and her experiences fighting against HIV/AIDS. The conversation illuminates the resilience of Haitians amidst political chaos and gang violence, while recognizing the journalists who work tirelessly to bring these stories to light. Anne-Christine also highlights the importance of empowering local leadership, drawing a parallel to the global struggle for a more democratic society.

Turning our focus to the alarming rise of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation in East Africa, we grapple with the implications of Uganda and Ghana's recent laws and the disturbing influence of U.S.-based hate groups. Unpacking Project 2025's blueprint for an autocratic U.S., we detail the potential dangers this presents for the LGBTQIA+ community and devise a response plan. Through pride campaigns and calls to action, we underscore the necessity of solidarity and swift mobilization to defend our civil rights against these regressive measures—because when it comes to human rights, there's no room for complacency.

As Pride Month blooms with festivities, we celebrate LGBTQ+ representation in local government with Houston City Councilmember Mario Castillo, examining both his achievements and the challenges ahead. From the significance of openly queer officials in governance to the discord caused by competing pride events, we cover the spectrum of community dynamics. And as we continue to evolve the Queer Voices podcast, we ensure our platform remains diverse and inclusive, thanks to our dedicated team and the support of our listeners. Join us for conversations that are not just about the LGBTQ+ experience, but an integral part of the journey to equality and understanding.

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, Debra Moncrief-Bell has a conversation with queer journalist Anne-Christine Tedeschi.

Speaker 2:

Project 2025 is an almost 1,000-page vision paper, like a presidential transition document called the Mandate for Leadership, and it is the result of about 100 conservative groups that have come together and it is being led by the Heritage Foundation, and it calls for essentially what we would consider to be an autocracy.

Speaker 1:

Then a new feature on Queer Voices, a list of upcoming events in our community reported by Brett Cullum.

Speaker 3:

Davis Mendoza-Durusman talks with City Council member Mario Castillo about the latest in the controversy over Houston's two Pride celebrations next month month, there's a number of scenarios that can come to fruition where these groups can coexist and complement each other's work and amplify their impact on the community. It's really just the head-to-head stuff, the combativeness between the two, that I see as the disservice, not the fact that we have two parades.

Speaker 1:

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

Speaker 4:

This is Deborah Moncrief-Bell and I'm talking with Anne-Christine Diaski, who is an American author, journalist and an activist, and she is of French and Haitian descent. She's a founder of Stop the Coup 2025, but has a long history as an activist, especially in the realm of HIV AIDS. So, anne-christine, first of all, I want to ask you about Haiti, because I know you still have close contact with the country and there's been a lot happening there, so could you just give me a few sentences about what is going on in Haiti and the concerns you have?

Speaker 2:

First, I would like to say that I really welcome an opportunity to be able to speak to you and to your listeners and, with regard to Haiti, my father was born there, so I began my very early reporting as a journalist there when there was early 80s, all the way through the pro-democracy movement and the successful effort to overthrow the Duvalier dictatorship that was then under the Jean-Claude Duvalier regime. Right now, the situation has been really really a very low moment for the country because of a lack of essentially responsive government. Haiti has always really struggled with government, in that sense because it's such a poor country and there's kind of a small group of people who have a lot of money and power but they're not necessarily investing it in government. They've had a lot of problems with armed gangs who are using drug money and arms trafficking and other means to be able to really control what's going on in the country. It's extremely dangerous and I do have some relatives still there, but more than that, even I have a lot of colleagues who have been longtime grassroots activists, as well as journalists people who have really mobilized, particularly since the 2010 historic earthquake.

Speaker 2:

That was the last time I really spent considerable time in Haiti. I spent a lot of time in the years after right, the days after the earthquake and all the way through 2015, working with women and girls, and we set up some coalitions to help women and girls who were displaced and who were survivors of sexual violence as a result of the displacement. What I always tell people is that Haiti is a got remarkably talented people and communities very clear about what they need to do, and I think one of the biggest problems is really that outside forces often seek to support leaders that are not really chosen by the bulk of the people, and we know in our country we're dealing with a lot of those issues now, too, so we do need to be able to really bring support, but listen to what the grassroots leaders want. Haitians are speaking out very strongly about their desire to have a constitutional system that works and a democracy that works, and they have incredibly talented leaders and very brave people who are invested in that, but this is a really, really incredibly difficult moment.

Speaker 4:

What is a good source for people to go to to find out more?

Speaker 2:

A lot of different newspapers. In American newspapers, the Miami Herald tends to do a pretty good job covering issues around Haiti, and I think that there are Haitian newspapers both on the. You know, one of the more left newspapers but it covers things is it's called Haiti Liberté. I think that if you just do kind of a Google search for Haiti news, one will find it Among reporters. I would really want to give a lot of credit to Jacqueline. Charles is with the Miami Herald and does coverage that tends to get picked up globally. She's excellent, she's always on the ground and she's herself quite a brave reporter. There's an enormous and very, very good radio reporting network that covers Haiti and that also includes some of the French reporting. So, among the French services, agence France-Presse, which is called AFP in English, has always been a very good and reliable source of reporting, as has Reuters, so there's good reporting on Haiti and there's also, of course, bloggers and others who are Haitian progressive folks who are speaking out very actively.

Speaker 4:

Haiti was impacted greatly by HIV AIDS. Is that kind of what led you to your extensive research and writing about treatment worldwide?

Speaker 2:

I think it was a background At the time that I started getting involved. I came back to New York after reporting in Haiti very extensively, because I had been reporting on actually disappearance and human rights and the situation got very dangerous for me personally. So I needed to take a bit of a break. I felt like, and I decided to write a book called my first novel, called Under the Bone, based essentially on the journalism that I'd had that I put in as a journalist. I wrote it as a novel and there were a lot of cases that I was observing there of tuberculosis in particular, and now we know that those were early cases of HIV.

Speaker 2:

There'd been a huge amount of exchange between the diaspora, as well as the whole sort of class of public and civic civil servants in Haiti who had gone to study around the world, including in East Africa. Some people think that there was just a sort of exchange of population there, and Kinshasa and East Africa were already then experiencing the first wave of the HIV epidemic. Later we really saw that there was a heterosexual epidemic. It wasn't just an epidemic that was impacting men who have sex with men, and so that was true in Haiti. I think the reason that I got really involved was because when I came back to New York I was very involved already in the Haitian community and there was a huge stigma at the time. People may remember who are listening to this program may remember the four H's it was Haitians, homosexuals listening to this program may remember the four H's it was Haitians, homosexuals, hemophiliacs and heroin users.

Speaker 2:

So I kind of came to the AIDS work out of the work in Haiti and I was an early reporter at the New York Native, which was at the time a gay paper. It was my very first writing for the LGBTQ press and I was there with people who are now become well-known, like Sarah Shulman and other people at the time. Some of the early reporters that we lost were Daryl Yates Rist there was some very good reporting that happened. David France was a colleague.

Speaker 2:

So we were all kind of there in early on as reporters and then we went on to work for other LGBT publications and then I kept on, really felt compelled to look into and educate myself about anything that could work to try to treat AIDS. Because to look into and educate myself about anything that could work to try to treat AIDS, because at the time we didn't even know what it was. It was a virus. Eventually we figured that out, and then we needed to figure out what kinds of things could work to help with all the various ways in which that virus impacts the body. So that led to many, many things For me. It led to my becoming a science and medical reporter, and I continued to do health reporting for all the way through the 90s really.

Speaker 4:

You were a senior editor at Out Magazine in the 1990s in charge of health coverage, and in 1998, you launched HIV Plus, a magazine that you were a founding editor and served for two years before the magazine was sold to the Advocate. Your biggest concern right now has led you to organizing and starting the organization Stop the Coup 2025. What can you tell me about this organization and what it's all about?

Speaker 2:

Well, I would say one thing that it's about is that the mobilization of the Christian right that really began in the late 80s and in the 90s and we were starting to track it then has really come into its own, and this is a movement that we call Christian nationalism. It's really a theocratic movement, and it gained a lot of identity and a lot of base of support when former President Trump was elected in 2016. Former President Trump was elected in 2016. What we found is that that movement has really continued to be very organized, and so I was working last fall in around actually July, august or so and I was beginning to do reporting around the criminalization of LGBTQIA, plus identity, as well as HIV, in East Africa. Folks are probably very well aware who are listening to you about what's been going on in Uganda and now Ghana Very, extremely severe laws that have been passed that call for the death sentence for people who identify or are seen as being gay. It's also had a tremendous impact on the HIV service delivery there. So I was about to launch a website really focusing on what was going on in Africa, because, as some people may be aware, what we've learned is that the whole agenda that's been unfolding in Africa is coming from the United States, and it is coming from groups that are actually considered to be hate groups. They're Christian non-profits, religious folks like Family Watch International, as well as the global network CFAM, which have gone to Africa working with conservative pastors there, funded their activities, trained them into how to pass legislation that is anti-gay, and very much what we have seen is the result of an agenda that is being exported from the United States, and I wanted to really tell folks about that. So I organized a meeting at the United Nations during the United Nations General Assembly last October, and as I was doing that, I came across Project 2025.

Speaker 2:

Project 2025 is a almost 1,000-page vision paper, like a presidential transition document called the Mandate for Leadership, and it is the result of about 100 conservative groups that have come together and it is being led by the Heritage Foundation, and it calls for essentially what we would consider to be an autocracy, meaning they want to give the next potentially Republican president unprecedented powers and they want to put in place a system we've never seen in the United States where a small group of people would be in charge and it would dismantle much of the way the government currently functions, among other things, it has a very, very scary social agenda, cultural agenda.

Speaker 2:

It calls for the elimination of LGBTQIA identity or gender identity in all federal rules and regulations as one of many very, very regressive policy changes. What it means is that overnight or in a small amount of time, we would lose our rights as we know them now, and this could mean everything from your basic protections on jobs, as well as things like gay marriage, adoption, protections for gay families the whole gamut. It's also attacking other groups. It would call for putting tens of thousands of immigrants in camps, building camps and putting them in and then deporting them, including deporting unaccompanied children, to countries where they're still in conflict. It calls for a real criminalization of transgender identity, to the point where, because it equates LGBTQIA and transgender identity with pornography, which they want to criminalize. That means that anyone who would, for example, stock a book about gay life in a school library or seek to teach about LGBTQIA history could potentially be criminalized. They literally want to call librarians who might promote what they consider pornography to be sex offenders. It's extremely dangerous and regressive.

Speaker 4:

What is the game plan? What do we do?

Speaker 2:

I think that is the most important question. So the quick and dirty answer to that one is every single one of your listeners right now will know that they have a role. Our task right now is really to let other people know about this plan, because the majority of people in the country don't, and when they do find out about it, they are not down for the agenda. This even includes conservative Republicans, who realize that their basic civil rights will be taken away. I mean, project 2025 calls for overnight, if they can, firing tens of thousands of federal workers and replacing them with partisan Christians, and they want to put the entire agenda of the US policy on an anti-choice platform. It really is a kind of equal opportunity attack plan where it attacks nearly everyone, including things like getting rid of funding for public education, rolling back student loans and, very, very importantly, it calls for reversing all the climate protections that we currently have. We know that the bulk of the people in this country are not in favor of that, and I think that is the first most important thing On our website. As you say, we do break down this plan so people can understand it, because the whole point was they produced a thousand word dense plans and nobody would read it. But we have, and we're working in coalition with many groups that are now mobilizing in the country. The goal is, in our view, to sound the alarm as quickly as possible, and we're working with allies to do that via webinars and town halls. There's an enormous amount that can be done, which I think is the most important hopeful message, apart from people voting their conscience, which think you know, once they know about this, they will not support the right-wing agenda, they will not support a dictatorship call. But I think also that to know that in all these different areas whether it's library bans or drag queen shows or anti-DEI efforts that are going now to remove racial equality gains in universities and colleges and in workplace we have examples around the country of how those can be successfully fought, and so our work at Stop the Coup 2025 is to bring forward that knowledge and those strategies, and we're beginning to starting.

Speaker 2:

In May, we're going to be hosting a monthly call for national call for LGBTQ activists and we're mobilizing a pride campaign. We're hoping to reach out to pride organizers around the country and people who are in LGBTQ centers, be able to share the information and share our concerns, bring forward strategy and hear also from them about how their communities are mobilizing or what they need to do to be prepared. We see two things that are needed. One, we need the awareness right now. We need people to understand what this is. Two, we want them to know what can be done right now to try to stop this. Excuse me, wherever they are, you know, whether you're working in a school, whether you're working in a job, whether you're on a sports team, there are things you can do. So it's important to know that you can take an action and it will have a great impact, and that's very important.

Speaker 2:

The other piece is preparing. We think people should be prepared because, while we'll do everything we can to prevent this from happening, even if Biden should win, which many people would support this group that has been doing this. This is a long game they have. This has been organized by a group of people and they're backed with an enormous amount of money. The main source of money we found out was from a Chicago industrialist named Barry Sade, who gave $1.6 billion to Leonard Leo, who people may know as a militant Catholic activist who helped to put several members of the Supreme Court justice who are conservatives onto the bench and he has been giving his money to about 100 organizations that are backers or the advisors to Project 2025. These are all the groups that are behind the kinds of attacks that we're seeing, whether they're the court attacks, whether they're the don't say gay bills, etc. This is organized. They're not going to stop, even if the Republican Party is not the victor. So we can't stop.

Speaker 2:

But what we can do, and we should be doing now, is sharing information about how you can prepare. Whether you're a nonprofit, whether we have a situation where God forbid we have Project 2025 that begins to roll out, there are things that can be done. So that is what we're focusing on. We're encouraging people to join us. They can sign our newsletter on our website, wwwstopthecoup2025.org. We are a nonpartisan organization. We are a nonprofit. We're not telling people which candidate to vote for, but we're telling them. These are the issues and you should educate yourself and tell other people, and you should understand that, most importantly, we are the majority in this country. The people who want this are a minority, but they're very organized and they count on people not voting. So we do need to really focus on the vote, and at all levels, meaning down ballot, because what happens in presidency is one level, but it's in all these other areas that really the right wing has been so organized.

Speaker 4:

Well, thank you, anne-christine Deskey, for being with us on Queer Voices to talk about Stop the Coup 2025. This is Deborah Moncrief-Bell and you're listening to Queer Voices.

Speaker 1:

Coming up on Queer Voices, city Council Member Mario Castillo, talking about the latest developments in Houston's two Pride celebrations. But first, community Calendar with Brett Cullum.

Speaker 6:

I'm Brett Cullum and if you're looking to head out and about the next couple of weeks here at Queer Voices, we have some things for you to look out for. Diverse Works is holding its major fundraiser for the year, called Luck of the Draw, on Friday, may 17th at the Match Facility in Midtown Houston. This is an event where you buy a ticket and then you buy an art chance. This art chance entitles you to one piece of art in the show, but you must wait until your number's drawn. Theater Under the Stars launches a new show called Newsies, based on the Disney film of the same name. On May 21st the show features out and proud actress and singer Christina Wells, as well as an entire cast of musical newsboys. Stages Theatre is going to present a three-day festival celebrating works and art from the Latinx community called Sin Muros. It will be held at their Gordie Complex from May 23rd until May 26th. The Alley Theatre has opened Thornton Wilder's Emporium. It's a famous play that the author never quite finished. It is currently running until June 2nd at the Alley Theater downtown. Next up at the Alley is Dial M for Murder, which will have an act out night on Thursday June 13th. Act out tickets include free food and drinks before the evening's performance and a chance to mingle with other community members.

Speaker 6:

June marks the start of Pride Month and Broadway at the Hobby Center will start its run of Hairspray the Musical on Tuesday June 4th, complete with its drag lead, greg Califatis playing Edna Turnblad, the Catastrophic Theater will have its annual fundraiser this year. The theme is this Party is a Drag. It's going to be held Saturday, june 8th at the Match facility in Midtown. The party includes stations to get you into drag if you feel like it, and we'll have drag legends of Houston such as Violets Are Blue, chloe Knox, carmina Vavra and Hugh Dandy all performing. And don't forget, this June Houston's going to see not one but two separate Pride festivals and Pride parade, first up on June 22nd around City Hall in downtown Houston is the first ever New Faces of Pride event. And then on Saturday June 29th, we're going to do it all over again with Pride 365's festival and parade and here on Queer Voices coming soon. In the next couple of weeks we will have interviews with key people from both organizations.

Speaker 3:

The night is long and the path is dark.

Speaker 4:

Look to the sky for one place. The dawn will come.

Speaker 1:

This is Queer Voices.

Speaker 9:

I'm Davis Mendoza-Druzman he him pronouns and today I'm speaking with Houston City Councilmember Mario Castillo, who represents the 200-plus thousand residents of District H, a majority Hispanic community that includes parts of Greater East End and Second Ward, northside, northline, some of the Greater Heights and more. Earlier last month, councilmember Castillo completed his first 100 days in office, so we're talking about his and his team's accomplishments so far and a look ahead his work in advocacy as the only openly LGBTQ plus council member and his thoughts on one of the biggest stories in Houston's queer community today the two Pride parades on back-to-back weekends this June, with Houston Pride 365 and New Faces of Pride. Welcome, councilmember Castillo.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to visit with you today.

Speaker 9:

Your first 100 days in office was just last month, in April. Tell me about some highlights and some proudest accomplishments you and your team have just these first hundred days or so.

Speaker 3:

They were a whirlwind. Some things that I'm really proud of is we went out and did 10 town hall meetings throughout District H within the first hundred days. These were opportunities to engage with communities and neighborhoods, for them to meet the staff that they're going to be interacting with. But also one thing that I was really adamant about was bringing as many Cityaste and Parks and all of these different components of the city with us at town hall meetings so that people could walk down their street, go to their community center, go to their church, go to their park, have an experience with something that they probably have to do online, or go down to City Hall or 611 Walker to you know, interact with these folks. And there was so much appreciation for that because we did so many of them. We got to cover so many neighborhoods in the district, neighborhoods that said, you know we don't usually get this kind of attention, but they really appreciated being able to talk to 311 and say, hey, I put this in, what happened, why did it get unresolved? And kind of work through that or they'd share their concerns and people. The 311 agents can put the cases in right then and there. And we also brought where other organizations were playing a role in these neighborhoods. So for Denver Harbor we brought Union Pacific because a lot of their trains impact Denver Harbor, where we knew we had a lot of issues with streetlights and whatnot, we brought Centerpoint because they deal a lot with our streetlights and getting those replaced. Where TxDOT had a big project nearby, we brought TxDOT. It wasn't just the city, it was also other things that impacted the neighborhoods. We wanted them to be able to access those right in there. The last thing I want to do is get people to a meeting on a Saturday or on an evening and say we'll follow up with you later or let's go figure out the information and we'll get back to you. I wanted them to go talk to them directly so that we can get that process started and start seeing some results. We had over 300 people attend these town halls. We actually held a special one for the Hispanic History Research Center over off of navigation that's coming, and we had over 175 people at that one, so that was separate from the other ones that we did. But they're a great way to engage, a great way to hear what's going on in communities. We were able to take away with the concerns. A list of things to start working on. So now we've got a list that we're working on. That's going to impact people directly.

Speaker 3:

And the second thing that I'll say is we continued the Love your Pet Month initiative that District H had traditionally done for many years. It was a lot to pull together. It's in February. It's a month-long initiative. We had, I think, 12 events around responsible pet ownership, pet awareness, free microchipping, free vaccines, free pet food kits you name it and that was a lot for my team to put together. Getting sworn in January 2nd and then having to execute those throughout the month of February. But it's such an important issue that impacts a lot of District H. We do have neighborhoods that have a lot of stray animals that roam the streets. They impact quality of life, they impact safety. I didn't want to lose any momentum that had been gained on that issue over the years, so we're going to keep that going. We'll have it even more robust Lover Pet Month next year, but it was a priority for us to make sure that that did not go away.

Speaker 3:

What's this new role like for you?

Speaker 3:

I mean, you kind of just get thrown in the deep end, right?

Speaker 3:

I mean, even though I have some experience as a chief of staff in 2016,.

Speaker 3:

You know that was eight years ago and you keep some things with you, but there's a level of scrutiny and a level of intensity that is just not realized until you're in that chair and you are making decisions and you're presented information and you've got so many different things coming at you.

Speaker 3:

You've got to get your office set up.

Speaker 3:

You've got to get your staff onboarded, which, at the city, can be a bit of a process. You've got constituents that start emailing and calling you right away. You've got every department that wants to come and meet with you and tell you about all the things they're doing in your district. You have all the organizations that play a role in your district that want to come and meet with you and tell you about all their great things and all the things that they would like your help with.

Speaker 3:

And then you have my priorities and initiatives that I also came into office wanting to execute. It's a whirlwind. My biggest takeaway was to stay focused on the really big, key things that I wanted to make an impact in right away, which is why we really honed in on Love your Pet Month and we honed in on the town halls. We kept other things moving, but we didn't get too bogged down in all of it because we wanted to make sure to see through those bigger things, and I think that set us up with a really good foundation, because you can easily be overwhelmed. There's just so much coming at you, especially as a brand new council member, and then things that you don't anticipate pop up.

Speaker 9:

Just hearing you list it all, that sounds like a lot, but it does seem like you have a great support system as well great staff. I just met Russell and it seems like you've got a great team, and so I'm glad to hear that.

Speaker 3:

They are fantastic. We would not be as successful with all of these things as we are without them.

Speaker 9:

You also serve as the only openly LGBTQ plus council member at City Hall. District H is your constituency, but with Houston estimated to have the largest queer community in all of Texas, how can and have you shown up for our community as well?

Speaker 3:

It's not something that I take lightly. I wish I was not the only one. I think a city of our size and of our diversity, we absolutely need more voices at the table, and especially LGBTQ voices. First council meeting, when we all got to say our little piece, I said I serve District H and I'm going to focus on District H, but if anyone out there in the LGBTQ community needs a resource at the city, needs a space at the city, my office is open to you because I know that I am the only one there.

Speaker 3:

Our community is being attacked from a number of places right now, from legislation to elected officials and positions of power that want to demonize members of the LGBTQ community, use them for political intentions, and that really impacts people in a significant way. When I was a candidate, I got messages from folks saying I'm really inspired by the fact that you're doing this, because I'm in high school and I would never have thought that I could be someone that runs for public office. People show up to events and just want to say hey, I just want to come say thank you for what you're doing. We still had some during the campaign, some issues with homophobic attacks coming through, and so even in 2024, as a candidate, you're dealing with it. And so imagine if you're not in that arena, because if you're a candidate, you put yourself out there, you sort of expect this may come.

Speaker 3:

But if you're just a kid in school and you're hearing on the news that you're being targeted or the community you identify with is being targeted, that has a significant impact. And being able to look to folks that are, like you, serving in positions representing your community, using the voice to make sure that the issues are heard and the perspective is heard, that helps, you know, push back on that in a way, and hopefully it inspires others to get involved, because the only way we get more representation is if more people step up to run and put in the work. If me being here helps do that, fantastic. We need it, and I again will reiterate that my office is a resource to anyone in Houston that is a member of the LGBTQ community that needs help or assistance, because I know it's easier to go to someone that you may feel more comfortable with or may have a little more understanding of what you're going through than someone who isn't, and I want to open my office up for that.

Speaker 9:

What do you perceive to be one of the biggest challenges facing our community?

Speaker 3:

Locally, we're still seeing LGBTQ youth homeless rates. They're too high. I mean frankly. I mean when you have any it's too much, but for our community there's a high number of homeless youth and we've got to figure out a way to think about how our homeless resources are set up and what we can do to help further address a population that, when you look at it across other populations the percentage is significantly higher populations the percentage is significantly higher. I also think that we're facing a lot of external threats from the state for gearing up for a presidential election, the national political scene as well, and it's tough.

Speaker 3:

In Houston. We don't have an equal rights ordinance, we have some things that would preclude us from protecting all of our citizens, and so how do we make sure that Houstonians know that they are safe and they are protected and that we have a space to show that? I think that's something that we need to think about. As city councils meeting and we're passing ordinances every week, are there ways we can try and incorporate things to just let folks in Houston know that you may hear things at the state level, you may hear things at the national level. Here we're not going to tolerate discrimination or target specific populations.

Speaker 9:

Would you say that another challenge facing our community would be one of unity with the two pride parades?

Speaker 3:

Oh, there's no question, we talked about this at City Hall a couple of weeks now would be one of unity, with the two pride parades. Oh, there's no question. We've talked about this at City Hall a couple of weeks now. We've had some folks come and speak about it, but for all the reasons that I've talked about already, we absolutely should be unified. There's no reason why we have to be infighting amongst ourselves when others are trying to come at us from different angles as a community, especially around a time when we get together and we celebrate ourselves and our community and pride and the advancements that we have made, the achievements that we've had, just to be treated equally as other Americans and as other Texans and Houstonians.

Speaker 3:

It's really hard to watch when you see two organizations lawsuits, there's accusations of racism, there's all these things, and it's like this is really the time when we need to be coming together. I'm willing to meet with both organizations. I have met with Pride Houston. I have reached out to New Faces. I do want to meet with them and I hope that they will meet with me. I've offered to bring them together in July when we're done with all the parades, all the festivities, and just see if there is a way that we can unify and find a path forward together.

Speaker 3:

There's scenarios where multiple pride organizations can exist. There's different prides already we have that exist and we all coexist and that's totally fine. But it's the divisiveness and it's the infighting that really doesn't help anyone in the community and it hurts the most the folks who I think need pride the most, folks that show up to pride that maybe they're not comfortable openly saying they're a member of the community, or maybe they just want to be around a place where everyone's open and accepting and they feel part of that for a day or a night, knowing that they have to go home and that's not their reality, and now they're having to choose which one to go to. Or the smaller LGBTQ organization that looks forward to participating in the pride parade now has to choose because they can't afford to do both.

Speaker 9:

You know, I mean, I think this, this is really harming the folks that would need pride the most, and that's that's the hard part for me and I do want to go deeper into this, because just last night I attended Faces of Pride's first community town hall of sorts at the Montrose Center, and to say it got a bit heated would be an understatement, because I definitely was not expecting the president of Pride Houston 365 to make a bit of a confrontational appearance, but it made for some good tea. But before we get into that, would you mind setting the stage for us and any listeners on who might not be familiar with what's going on? Or I have like a fact sheet on my end in case you don't want to miss anything. Yeah, go for it. Gotcha, this is a bit long because, as we all know, there's a long history, so let me know if there's anything that I missed. So what I have?

Speaker 9:

Pride Houston 365 was officially founded as a 501c3 back in the 90s, but their legacy of organizing pride parades goes back decades before then, dating back to the late 70s. However, their legendary organization was caught up in scandal when their president from 2017 to 2020 was sued by Pride Houston 365 for stealing more than $100,000 from the organization and misappropriating more than $50,000. This lawsuit also named two former treasurers, one of whose cases since been dropped, but the former president was ordered just this year to pay $1.2 million over these fraud and embezzlement claims. Fast forward to last year when New Faces of Pride was formed, joined by a former founder of Pride Houston 365, jack Walensky, who, for full transparency, is also the founding producer of Queer Voices. New Faces of Pride initially went under the name New Faces of Pride Houston until Pride Houston 365 sued them in federal court, alleging trademark infringements. So that case was settled by the end of the following month.

Speaker 9:

But tensions have been high since, with both organizations subtly and not so subtly referencing each other in social media posts, news interviews and, recently, city Hall public speeches, news interviews and, recently, city hall public speeches.

Speaker 9:

And this all came to a head recently during the council comments on April 17th, where you raised concerns with the presence of two pride parades in June, calling it a leadership gap and a disservice to the unity that we see during pride, to which Mayor Whitmire agreed, and expressed his similar disappointments During your last two council comments and even just now, you mentioned wanting to bring both organizations to the table together.

Speaker 9:

I actually asked Brian Cotton if he would be willing to meet with Pride Houston 365. He mentioned that he does have a meeting with you on the books, but it seems a bit different than what you've said earlier. But maybe he's worked something out with your schedule or Russell. But when I asked if he'd be willing to meet with Pride Houston 365, he said no Coming to the table. He said no, but to my surprise the president of Pride Houston 365, kendra Walker, was in attendance at that meeting. What are your thoughts and kind of expectations for a joint public community meeting, like both parties just agreed to last night, and where do you see yourself in helping bridge that gap?

Speaker 3:

When I talked about this a few weeks ago I mentioned, this appeared to have been caused by a leadership gap in the community. I even suggested the mayor's LGBTQ advisory board get involved in trying to bring the parties together. It doesn't have to be me I realize that I can play a role in it but it doesn't absolutely need to be me trying to build the bridge. But I'm happy to play a part because I understand my role in city council and my role as an LGBTQ elected official here at the city. When I did meet with Pride 365 or Pride Houston, that's what she told me as well. You know I'm willing to do it and I'm cautiously optimistic. We can figure out a way.

Speaker 3:

I'm glad to hear that I do have a meeting on the books with Brian. Things get added all the time. I'm not always the most up to date on my calendar, but I do look forward to meeting with him and I think that that that this could be the start of some sort of working together in the future, coexisting in the future. I know that when we talk about these kinds of things we need to be realistic, and in Houston we also have dueling MLK parades two organizations that just won't come together around that. It would be really unfortunate for us to get to that point with our prides right, and that's why I was compelled to say something, because, again, we have to be united as a community, especially during this month, as we want to continue to make achievements and equality and also just keep the equality that we've gained.

Speaker 3:

There's constant threats on our progress. This is the first step. I'm hopeful that we can take many more steps and I'm happy to play whatever role I can in it. It doesn't need to be me being the peacemaker. I'm happy to do whatever they ask, but I think this is very encouraging and I hope it can move forward in a positive way.

Speaker 9:

Just last year, a study by Clever Real Estate placed Houston next to last in their list of LGBTQ plus friendly cities, but it was partially because we rank last in pride parades per capita. So new faces of pride is coming along and, one way or another, boosting that amount of pride parades per capita, hopefully bumping us up at least ahead of Dallas on that list. But what I'm hearing from Mayor Whitmire and recently, state Representative Jolanda Jones and yourself is that more pride parades, especially in back-to-back weekends, can be a disservice to unity, as you said. So my question is moving forward how can new faces of Pride go about doing this the right way in your eyes?

Speaker 3:

The issue is not two parades per se, it's the inviting and what we're seeing from each organization publicly and the tone and all the things that that's taken on. That really is the issue. Again, we have a lot of other prides. Right, we have Black Pride. I mean there was a point where we had Latino Pride when I was younger, I don't know if that's still around.

Speaker 3:

There's ways that we can celebrate multiple prides and I think when you have the back-to-back right and then you have the festival and the parade, and then a week later, festival and parade, same route, same location, it creates confusion. And then you couple that with the back-and-forth between the groups and then it's clear that this is a one-versus-the-other type of scenario. Houston has long desired something in the fall, when it's not so hot outside, long desired something in the fall, when it's not so hot outside, and that also doesn't compete against all the other major cities that do their prides in the end of June. There's a way to do something in the summer and something in the fall. I mean, there's a way, there's a number of scenarios that can come to fruition, where these groups can coexist and complement each other's work and amplify their impact on the community. It's really just the head-to-head stuff, the combativeness between the two, that I see as the disservice, not the fact that we have two parades period.

Speaker 9:

And something you might find comforting during last night's meeting was that they both parties expressed an interest in quote unquote, leaving each other's names out of their mouths, and there was a lot of discussion from community members who said y'all should be in support of each other, y'all should find ways to collaborate, which spurred that question about the joint meeting, and so I am. I'm also optimistic that there is a there's a path forward for both, both organizations. Regarding the the mayor's LGBTQ advisory council which you raised earlier, you brought this up to mayor Whitmire during the the council meeting. Do you know of any steps that are being taken to reconvene this space?

Speaker 3:

as far as I know, there's nothing imminent, but it is something that I would like to see happen and I think, given the mayor's past longstanding support for the LGBTQ community, I would imagine that that's something that will happen.

Speaker 3:

I know that this was started under the previous administration and so anytime you have something that was started on the previous one, and so anytime you have something that was started on the previous one, there's some sort of period where you evaluate and decide this is something to continue.

Speaker 3:

But I haven't heard anything that it won't be a board that's utilized, an advisory board that's utilized. I mean I would love to see it become an actual standing board, elevated beyond just the advisory board, but I will keep working with the mayor and asking him on it. So I know there's 100 things coming his way every day. As we get closer to June, it does become more relevant and it does become something that's more topical and that could be a great time to sort of roll out what the new revamp if there is going to be one looks like new members, a charge, any sort of task that they're going to be given. Just know, I think it's going to be a valuable tool for the community and I think it's something that I will continue to push to see reconvened in a significant way.

Speaker 9:

Is there anything that you'd like to mention to our listeners, anything you've got coming up that you'd like to share? Just anything at all.

Speaker 3:

One of the initiatives that I seek to launch really soon is an internship program through my office. I really value the time I had as a chief of staff. It was not long it was like seven or eight months but it gave me a lot of experience as a candidate that I could speak to about how the city works and how certain issues are solved and how this is structured. That, I think, helped just make me a better candidate and really connect with voters in a meaningful way. That is something that I want to help provide to others that might not otherwise have a chance to get city hall experience or local government experience.

Speaker 3:

I really want folks that have experience in the LGBTQ community and that have experience in the minority community to apply when this does get rolled out, because, as we think to the future and as we think to who comes after me and just the lack of LGBTQ representation on city council at the moment, I want to help others get that experience that could propel them to run or start a nonprofit or become a chief of staff and have a key role to play in local government and provide their input and perspective into how things are done, because it really does make a difference and it's not always available to folks, unless it's one of those who you know. Kind of things usually gets you positions and jobs that have city hall experience. My goal is to open that up to folks in the community who wouldn't otherwise get this chance and let them have a valuable experience and a valuable time learning how city hall works, how city council works, how local government works and then see where that goes from there for them.

Speaker 9:

Thank you so much for joining us today. Council Member Castillo.

Speaker 1:

Now there's some good radio, a conversation that you almost feel part of, providing clear information and opinions from people in our community. I'd say that's almost worth paying for. Well, except that all of the good work that you hear on Queer Voices is done by volunteers. But like anything, it still costs money as well as our volunteers' time to bring this unique radio program to you each week. Will you contribute a little bit to help keep us and KPFT going? We're looking for listeners to become members of KPFT, partners with us really in keeping us out there on the airwaves and in podcasts around the world. But even a one-time gift will make a difference. Please go to kpftorg and click the red Donate button for more information. We thank you and I think you'll thank yourself the next time you hear us on Queer Voices. I know Martha thanks you.

Speaker 7:

I'm Michael Taylor Gray and I'm.

Speaker 7:

Melanie Keller, with Newsrap, a summary of some of the news in or affecting LGBTQ communities around the world for the week ending May 11th 2024. The Czech Republic's sex reassignment surgery and sterilization prerequisites for legal gender change are at odds with the fundamental right of trans people for the protection of their physical integrity in relation to their human dignity. This according to a constitutional court ruling this week. A trans man who wants to change the female gender he was assigned at birth on his government documents without the forced surgeries, won his case. The court's 13-2 ruling gave the Central European Nations Parliament until the middle of next year to enact the legislative changes needed for compliance. The justices gave lawmakers some flexibility in establishing new requirements for legal gender changes. Those can include testimonial support by medical providers, a mandatory waiting period or additional government paperwork.

Speaker 7:

Czech Human Rights Commissioner Klara Mičkova-Larenčkova said she was very happy about the court ruling. She wrote Congratulations to all transgender people in our country. Today is an important milestone on the road to greater dignity and protection of your rights. The non-governmental organization Transparent is also very happy, but with a caveat. Their Instagram post cautioned. Now the government has to act.

Speaker 5:

In Paris. They were chanting anti-patriarchy, anti-capitalism, solidarity with trans people all over the world. Across some 50 cities in France and Belgium, nearly 11,000 progressive members of parliament, trade unionists and young activists rallied and sat in brandishing placards demanding health resources for transitions. More than 800 local groups and prominent individuals endorsed the May 5th actions. The outcry was prompted by an attempt by right-wing members of the French Senate to restrict pediatric gender-affirming health care. The legislation denies trans people under the age of 18 access to reversible puberty blockers and hormone therapies. By forcing patients to delay treatment, critics claim that the bill opens the door to restoration of outlawed conversion therapy. The proposal's sponsors deny that Parliament is scheduled to begin debating the measure on May 28th.

Speaker 7:

This is not the time for celebrations. So said Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldayi, when he announced the cancellation of his city's LGBTQ pride parade due to Israel's ongoing war in Gaza. The annual event that regularly draws hundreds of thousands of celebrants, is one of the biggest pride festivals in the region. Major queer groups and some high-profile rights leaders agree that the current crisis demands that the planned June 7 celebration be toned down. Mayor Huldayi balanced respect for the hostages being held captive by Hamas and the continuing struggle for LGBTQ human rights. In his May 8th announcement. He declared on the platform everyone but Elon Musk calls Twitter. In coordination with the organizations of the gay community, we decided that this year, instead of the pride parade, we will hold a rally in Tel Aviv, jaffa, as a sign of pride, hope and freedom.

Speaker 5:

Be prepared for the high-pitched howls of the rabid right wing. The Boy Scouts of America is rebranding itself as Scouting America. The BSA has actually been on the outs with conservatives since May 2014, when mounting pressure finally persuaded it to open its ranks to openly queer members and leaders. The venerable male youth organization also began welcoming girls and transgender boys in 2017. Membership in the Boy Scouts of America topped almost 5 million in 1972. Membership in the Boy Scouts of America topped almost 5 million in 1972. It fell significantly from more than 2 million in 2018. Amidst the avalanche of thousands of sexual abuse claims that nearly destroyed the 114-year-old US institution, COVID, lockdowns also took a toll Now emerging from bankruptcy protection. What will become? Scouting America? Today serves slightly more than a million teens. That includes more than 176,000 girls, more than 6,000 of whom have progressed to the celebrated rank of Eagle Scout.

Speaker 5:

The May 7th media release explained that the name change was to ensure that everyone feels welcome in scouting. President and CEO Roger Krohn revealed the name change at a national meeting in Florida. It becomes official in February. Krohn emphasized our mission remains unchanged. We are committed to teaching young people to be prepared. Republican Congress member Andrew Clyde of Georgia refuses to take the new pledge. Impredictable far-right style, he lamented. The left has now taken boy out of Boy Scouts. Wokeness destroys everything it touches.

Speaker 7:

South Carolina's young trans people are about to lose their gender-affirming health care.

Speaker 7:

Republican Governor Henry McMaster is expected to sign a bill approved by the Republican Majority State Legislature this week. Patients under the age of 18 being treated with puberty blockers and hormone therapies prior to August 1st will be required to taper off, and hormone therapies prior to August 1st will be required to taper off. The exceptionally rare pediatric surgery and all other gender-affirming treatment must end by January 31st. The measure also bans public funding for directly or indirectly paying for any gender-affirming care. That will limit access to treatment by transgender adults in South Carolina who use Medicaid to offset their health care costs. According to some equality activists, it also seems to run afoul of a regional federal appeals court decision in April that state health care plans and government underwritten insurance programs must cover gender-affirming medical care. Affirming medical care. Catherine Oakley of the Human Rights Campaign calls it a major violation of South Carolinians' liberty. In her words, South Carolina legislators abused their power by substituting their judgment for that of parents, medical professionals, mental health care professionals and other experts.

Speaker 5:

Mississippi's Republican legislative majority beat the clock this week to define gender as the sex assigned at birth. The bill they passed bans trans people from using sex-segregated public bathrooms that match their gender identity. It also requires the buildings at all public educational institutions to have single-gender bathrooms and changing rooms, including dormitories and other student housing. This bathroom ban was thought to have died along with another anti-trans bill last week. Republican lawmakers had failed to reconcile the slightly different versions passed in the House and Senate before the four-month legislative session ended. Right-wing groups and high-profile conservatives apparently pressured them for a settlement before time ran out. Republican Governor Tate Reeves is expected to sign Mississippi's latest anti-trans bill as enthusiastically as he signed two earlier measures. As enthusiastically as he signed two earlier measures, one to ban trans girls from competing in female school sports and another to deny gender-affirming health care to trans patients under the age of 18.

Speaker 7:

Finally, the Rhode Island State Senate wants to protect medical professionals who provide gender-affirming health care and abortion services. A bill it passed on May 9th would shield licensed medical providers from being prosecuted by officials in other states that frown upon those forms of health care. Providers would be allowed to ignore out-of-state demands for patient information and other documents, even if they are subpoenaed In a democratically dominated state. The Senate vote was lopsided 29-7, and the state House is expected to follow suit. Democratic Governor Dan McKee is likely to sign it. Nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts each have similar laws. The Movement Advancement Project counts 10 other states with those protections. The Rhode Island chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics summed up widespread approval for the measure from professional medical organizations. Its statement read Out-of-state laws banning access to essential medical care take away people's freedom to make important medical decisions for themselves and their families, informed, by guidance from trusted providers, and replaces it with the wishes of politicians. That's not the Rhode Island way.

Speaker 5:

That's News Wrap, global queer news with attitude for the week ending May 11, 2024. Follow the news in your area and around the world. An informed community is a strong community.

Speaker 7:

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

Speaker 5:

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 Melanie Keller. Stay healthy.

Speaker 7:

And I'm Michael Taylor Gray, stay healthy. And I'm Michael Taylor Gray, 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 queVoicesorg 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.

Speaker 8:

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.

Speaker 1:

For Queer Voices. I'm Glenn Holt.

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