“Emigrados” Brings Universal Immigrant Experiences to the Stage

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This week we meet Haydee Canovas, the director of a Spanish-language play called “Emigrados,” running March 12-21 in Louisville. Part of the theater of the absurd tradition, the play observes two immigrant men, in a basement, on New Year’s eve, and explores their relationship.

While the actors in this production are both Mexican, the script itself doesn’t specify a country of origin for its characters – nor does it tell us the country they’re currently in. Canovas says this allows the play to comment on the experiences immigrants have in common.

“Immigration is a universal theme,” she says. “It’s been happening since the beginning of time. If somebody doesn’t feel safe where they’re living, they’re going to preserve themselves and their family, and they’re going to move to a place that’s safer.”

We talked to Canovas about the theater company she co-founded, Teatro Tercera Llamada, and their mission. She says not only is it theater with a social conscious, but, “theater that Latinos are experiencing.”

(For information about “Emigrados,” which will be presented with English supertitles, click here. If you’re interested in getting involved with Teatro Tercera Llamada, contact them at 502-386-4866 or info@teatrotercerallamada.com.)

We’re also joined this week by Marion Dries, whose voice you may recognize from our sister station, WFPL. Marion is a bookworm with lots of connections to the world of LGBTQ publishing houses, so she’ll be joining us periodically with book reviews and author interviews. This week we hear a snippet of her conversation with KL Rhavernsfyre. Here’s the whole conversation:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/193417306″ params=”color=ff5500&inverse=false&auto_play=false&show_user=true” width=”100%” height=”20″ iframe=”true” /]

And in Juicy Fruit, it’s been a bad week for white women. Patricia Arquette used her backstage Oscars interview to suggest that LGBTQ and people of color owe their support to the wage equality movement. Giuliana Rancic of E! Network’s “Fashion Police” implied that dreadlocks smell like patchouli oil and weed. And a news anchor from Ohio said Lady Gaga plays “jigaboo music.”

Author Frederick Smith’s New Novel Examines Secrets and Intersecting Identities

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Author Frederick Smith knew he wanted to be a writer since he was a little boy, watching soap operas in Detroit. But folks around him didn’t necessarily see him as the writer type. “I had friends say, ‘Black boys from Detroit don’t write soap operas – we go to work at the auto plant like our dads did.'”

Frederick Smith pull quoteLuckily he kept at it, spent some time in Academia, and eventually made the move to writing novels. His writing tells the stories of black and brown people, he says. “[P]eople living lives that don’t make the six o’clock news.”

His new novel, “Play It Forward,” centers on secrets. The leader of an organization for mentoring gay youth has to deal with an embarrassing part of his past, and a closeted R&B singer and professional basketball player hide their relationship to preserve their careers.
In Juicy Fruit this week, you know we had to talk about all the tea from the Grammys! From Ledisi and Bey to Kanye and Beck, we cover the winners and the losers (with a pit stop to chat about Kanye’s bravado and why white America finds it so alarming).

Speaking of winners, charges were dropped this week against Louisville activist Shelton McElroy, a Louisville activist who’d been arrested after being asked to leave 4th Street Live for violating their dress code. Shelton says plenty of (white) people were violating the dress code, but he was the only one asked to leave (and the club let him come in for long enough to collect his cover charge, which they would not give back). Local listeners will know this is just the latest in a long line of racism accusations against the Cordish-owned entertainment complex.

TV That Shatters Stereotypes (and Porn that Reinforces Them)

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Walter Walker

Walter Walker

After spending January looking back at some of our favorite conversations, we’re back this week with a brand new episode — and we have a lot of hot topics to catch up on!

So this week, we’re doing an all-Juicy-Fruit episode, and we’re joined by PR guru and friend-to-the-show, Walter Walker (you might remember him from WFPL’s Defining Fairness series).

We talk about a Huffington Post article last week by Mike Alvear, which looked at racial dynamics in gay porn. The piece, “Why Are Whites Always the Bottom in Interracial Porn?” says the porn industry caters to white people, who they say are their highest-paying customers. We talk about the ways in which we’re socialized to view black men as hyper-sexual and aggressive, and how those images are perpetuated (and even exaggerated) in the fantasy world of porn.

We also talk about the Ghostbusters reboot — both our own opinions, and internet fanboys’ sexist reactions.

Also, remember Mary Cheney? She’s the conservative lesbian daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and she is apparently confused about drag and blackface. She wrote on her Facebook wall, “Why is it socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for men to put on dresses, make-up and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.) — but it is not socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans? Shouldn’t both be OK or neither?”

As a public service to Mary (because our Fruitcakes already know) we break down the differences between subversive and oppressive entertainment, and talk about the roots of each phenomenon. We’re also not sure what kind of drag shows she’s been to; when we see drag done in queer spaces, it doesn’t tend to poke fun at women at all.

And finally, while we were on break, Empire took television completely by storm! We talk about the new resurgence in scripted black television, and the importance of three-dimensional characters of color with complex relationships and lives.

Why Would Straight Men Sleep With Men?

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Everyone knows that gay men sleep with men, and straight men sleep with women. Right? On this week’s show, we learn it’s not always that simple.

Today we’re listening back to a conversation we had with Dr. Joe Kort. He’s a sex and relationship therapist based in Detroit, and when we talked in September 2013, he’d just had an article published at the Huffington Post about why straight-identified men sometimes have sex with other men.

In it, he shares a whole list of reasons why this phenomenon might happen. These reasons are by turns predictable (they’re in prison with no access to women), poignant (they seek to replace the affection they didn’t get from their fathers), hilarious (narcissism!) and taboo (we’re pretty sure this was the first time the word cuckholding has been uttered on Strange Fruit).

It was a fascinating conversation and Dr. Kort shed some light on a lot of things.

(NOTE: This conversation includes blunt talk about human sexuality, and some discussion of sexual abuse —if that’s not something you can listen to, consider sitting this one out, and we’ll see you next week! ♥)

To close out today’s show, labor historian Toni Gilpin shares a little-known story from 1940s Louisville.

harvester

Inside the International Harvester Plant

A local chapter of the United Farm Machinery workers organized at Louisville’s International Harvester plant in the late 1940s, and began advocating for racial equality both inside and outside of the plant. Their efforts would lead to an entire factory of mostly white workers walking off the job to protest the unfair treatment of their African American colleagues.

Outside the factory walls, union members tried to desegregate the Brown Hotel and Cherokee Park—both whites-only at the time—and were met with violence and forcible removal by police.

More photos of the International Harvester plant are available in the University of Louisville’s Photographic Archives.

kort collage

Janet Mock on What It Means to be a Real Model — Not a Role Model

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When you think about the current state of trans activism, the name Janet Mock is probably at the top of your mind. But there was a time when Mock was living a relatively low-profile life, working as a journalist outside the spotlight… until a friend recommended her for a profile in Marie Claire magazine. The article’s publication changed the course of her work, and life—lucky for all of us.
“I didn’t plan the role model part of it or the advocate part of it,” she explains. “I think that all just kind of started. I realized after the piece came out that there was such a hunger to hear more about young trans women of color experiences. I think my writing just kind of went there because I think there was a need to hear more about that and I think there was also a need within myself to share more about parts of myself that I’d kept silent for so long.”

Janet’s still a writer, but now she’s also an activist – and one of the most recognizable faces in trans advocacy. In many ways, she’s become the role model she herself didn’t have while growing up.

“People often say that I’m a role model,” she says. “I feel like I’m a real model. Like, there’s a real model of how you can do it. I’m existing. I’m out in the world. I’m still discovering who I am. I’m not playing a role. I’m being real. This is my life.”

jmock

In her book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, she tells her story and shares some of what she’s learned along the way.

On this week’s show, we talk to Janet about her work, her life, and the wisdom she hopes to impart on today’s trans girls of color.

“The biggest lesson that I’ve ever learned in my life is to just truly fight for who you are, and not let anyone – not even your own body – tell you that you can’t do something that you know you’re supposed to be doing.”

When we asked Janet who some of her own role models are, she name checked TransGriot blogger Monica Roberts. Monica is a long-time friend and auntie to the show, so we thought we’d close this episode with some words of wisdom from her, recorded when she was in town last summer.

Darnell Moore Says, in Advocacy, the “Work Finds You”

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Throughout the month of January, we’re revisiting some of our favorite conversations from the first 100 episodes of our show.

Here’s one of our favorites, a conversation with writer and activist Darnell Moore. Darnell co-authors the Huffington Post’s Tongues Untied blog, along with Wade Davis. He was most recently on the show when he co-organized the Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride to Ferguson. But today we’re listening to our very first conversation with Darnell, when he spoke to us about how early experiences in his life lead him to embrace social justice activism and to work against domestic violence.

darnell mooreHe spoke to us about how early experiences in his life lead him to embrace social justice activism and anti-domestic violence work. “I’ve been haunted, and in a very good way, by Audre Lorde’s notion of: What did you come here to do? What is your work?” Darnell says. “And when that work finds you, we have no choice but to respond.”

Some of Darnell’s work focuses on black theology and black Christian thought—particularly as it relates to queer identities. So we also spent some time talking about what it means to be black, gay, and Christian. “I remember this evangelist saying she would rather her son be addicted to drugs than to be—she didn’t use the word, she just did the broken-wrist type of gesture—than to be gay,” he says. “I was mortified.”

But he reminds us that the black church is not a monolith, and there are also LGBTQ-affirming spaces within black Christianity. “I got to a point where I said if it means that my truth, the true person that I know myself to be, is something that will lead me to quote-unquote hell, then I would rather go to hell […] for living in my truth than to go to heaven and live in a lie.”

(Photo Credit: Tamara Fleming)

Strange Fruit: “The Brother Size” Examines Freedom & Tradition at Actors Theatre

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Che Ayende and Larry Powell in The Brothers Size, Actors Theatre of Louisville, 2015. Photo by Bill Brymer.

Che Ayende and Larry Powell in The Brothers Size, Actors Theatre of Louisville, 2015. Photo by Bill Brymer.

Earlier this week, Actors Theatre began its run of a show called “The Brothers Size,” by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. “The Brothers Size” is part of McCraney’s trilogy, “The Brother/Sister Plays,” which explore ideas of freedom and tradition, influenced by Yoruban mythology and storytelling.

McCraney has been called the next August Wilson. That can be partially attributed to the fact that there are so few prominent African American playwrights, no doubt, but either way, he’s carrying an important mantle.

At age 33, he’d had plays debut at the Royal Court London, New York’s Vineyard Theatre, the Young Vic, and Steppenwolf Theatre, where he is an artist in residence.

This week, we revisit our conversation with McCraney from August of 2013, when we spoke about about “The Brothers Size” and how it mirrors his own roots, and why he’s drawn to tell the stories he tells.

In Juicy Fruit, the Cosby saga continues, this week with Phylicia Rashad and Keisha Knight Pulliam commenting that the allegations don’t reflect the man they know. But as Doc says, “it really makes no sense to ask women who worked with Cosby to speak to his character.”

Speaking of Keisha Knight-Pulliam, she’s on this season of Celebrity Apprentice, and on one episode, is asked to call Bill Cosby for help with a challenge. Note: Our show contains spoilers, so skip 11:45-12:30 if you’re not caught up!

And we try to make some sense out of the sad and senseless loss of Leelah Alcorn, a trans teen who committed suicide after being rejected and placed in conversion therapy by her parents. Her story has shed light on what trans teenagers go through, especially when they don’t have support at home; our trans brothers and sisters are at much higher risk for suicide than the general population.

Fruitcakes, if you are experiencing abuse or thoughts about self-harm, please reach out to the Trevor Project, at 1-866-488-7386, or the GLBT Help Center.

 

Celebrating Our 100th Episode!

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It’s our 100th episode! We’re celebrating this week by looking back at our humble beginnings, and ahead to the future.

This week you’ll learn about some of the show titles we considered instead of Strange Fruit, take listener questions, and hear some behind-the-scenes conversations and some things that never made it on the air.

100 100dYou sent us lots of great questions about our favorite episodes, advice for a white professor teaching African-American Lit, and how we hope the world has changed by the time we record our 200th episode (Marriage equality in all 50 states? Louisville’s first woman or person of color mayor?). We loved your questions so much we might just make it a regular feature!

And as most of our loyal fruitcakes know, Jai and Doc had never worked in radio before (Jaison is a community organizer and Kaila is a college professor), and there was a bit of a learning curve when we first started out. So of course, our anniversary show wouldn’t be complete without a listen to the blooper reel!

Thanks to the brilliant and hilarious guests who have taken the time to share their knowledge with us and our Fruitcakes, and to WFPL for giving us this platform to amplify underrepresented voices. And to our Fruitcakes: We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for listening to and supporting our show all this time. Here’s to the next 100!

How Cabbage Patch Settlement House Helps Louisville’s At-Risk Kids

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The Cabbage Patch Settlement House provides all kinds of programming for at-risk kids in Louisville: tutoring, clubs, sports, music, college preps and scholarships, and even emotional counseling. And a recent grant from the Humana Foundation means they’ll be opening their doors on Saturdays, too.cabbagepatchcollage

We wanted to learn more about the Patch and what they do, so this week we talked to Executive Director Tracy Holladay, and Educational Opportunities Specialist Kanisha Ford, about the history of the house (a long story — it’s been around since 1910!), and the work they do.

Settlement houses were part of the settlement movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and were built in poor urban areas to provide daycare, healthcare and education to those who couldn’t afford it. Many of these folks were immigrants who needed help “settling” and succeeding in their new homes, and assistance from the government was scarce. Immigrants also played a role in the Cabbage Patch getting its name; according to the Patch, the neighborhood they started in was nicknamed the Cabbage Patch because it was populated largely with immigrants who grew cabbages in back yard vegetable gardens. It’s now called Park Hill.

In our Juicy Fruit segment this week, two guest co-hosts, Louisville activists Darryl Young, Jr., and Sarah Zarantollo, weigh in on the backlash against VH1’s Sorority Sisters, and the LAPD spoof song about the killing of Michael Brown, leaked to TMZ earlier this week.

 

(Photos courtesy of cabbagepatch.org)

Going Home Gay for the Holidays

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xmasfruitpicEven under the best of circumstances, the holidays can be stressful. For some queer folks, they also mean deciding whether to go home to a family who doesn’t fully embrace them.

This time of year, we like to listen back to a conversation we had with Dr. Stephanie Budge, who has taught workshops on coping with the holidays as an LGBTQ person.

She said while some families do overtly antagonistic things (like using the wrong pronoun for trans folks, yelling, or refusing to let their LGBTQ family member bring a partner to holiday functions), what she hears about the most is simply ignoring. A person might come out as queer to their family, only for the response to be silence and an unwillingness to acknowledge their identity.

Dr. Budge gave us some coping strategies we can all use during moments of holiday stress and family conflict, how to take full advantage of your chosen family’s love when your family of origin doesn’t support you, and how to tell when things are so unhealthy or unsafe it might be better to skip going home altogether.

If you are experiencing a crisis, The Trevor Project can help. Call their lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or visit the website for instructions on how to text them or chat online. Stay safe, Fruitcakes. We love you.

In our Juicy Fruit segment this week, we continue to indulge in our end-of-the-year-list mania with 2014’s top Google searches, both nationally and globally. Last year, everyone was asking Google how to twerk. This year, we really just wanted to know whether we had Ebola. Also on the list was Ray Rice, Ferguson, the Sochi Olympics, the missing Malaysian airliner, and the World Cup (a sports competition that doesn’t involve Wade Davis, Britney Griner or Michael Sam, so we don’t know much about it).

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