This week we introduce you to a new member of the WFPL newsroom, political reporter Ashley Lopez. Ashley joins us to talk about Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” act, Louisville’s attempt to appeal to LGBT tourists, and a recent poll showing Kentucky’s opposition to marriage equality.
We also hear Ashley’s recent report on the Kentucky marriage equality case that will go before the Supreme Court late next month. She fills us in on where that case stands, who might make oral arguments, what experts think will be the outcome, and she introduces us to some of the Kentucky plaintiffs.
And a group of Louisvillians are bringing a Juneteenth Festival back to the Derby City for the first time in years. Juneteenth celebrates the freeing of enslaved Africans and African Americans in the United States in 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation became the law of the land.
Organizer Gary Brice takes a break from festival planning to stop by the Strange Fruit studios and let us know what’s in store for festival attendees, and how our listeners can get involved.
This week we also give a shout out to friend-to-the-show Aisha Moodie-Mills, who this week was named the new president and CEO of the Victory Fund, a national organization that supports LGBTQ political candidates. Moodie-Mills is the first woman, and the first African American, to hold the job.
And our colleague Devin Katayama, political reporter and midday host with WFPL, is heading to KQED in San Francisco, to cover poverty and other issues affecting Oakland, California.
Finally this week we say a sad goodbye to teen trans activist Blake Brockington, who ended his own life last week. Despite suffering rejection from family and friends upon coming out as trans, Brockington went on to become homecoming king at his North Carolina high school.
Brockington was a tireless fundraiser and activist for LGBTQ issues, and was also an outspoken participant in the #BlackLivesMatter movement against police brutality.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in a crisis, please reach out to The Trevor Project’s Lifeline at 866-488-7386, or visit thetrevorproject.org for more ways to contact their counselors, who are specially trained to help LGBTQ youth. Stay safe, Fruitcakes.
Food writer Ashlee Clark Thompson’s new book is all about Louisville Diners (the places, not the people). She joins us this week to dish about some of Louisville’s most iconic eateries – trendy brunch places, soul food spots, and a certain streetcar-shaped establishment in Old Louisville, whose quirkiness is part of its charm.
“It’s almost like Halley’s Comet to catch Ollie’s Trolley open,” she says (the walk-up-style lunch counter is open 11-5, only operates on weekdays, and only accepts cash). “It started out as a chain, and Ollie’s was supposed to be the next KFC.”
Thompson says diners started out as, essentially, food trucks, where hungry third-shift workers could stop by and pick up a bite on the way home. They were seen as men’s establishments, prone to trouble, either with no seating, or later, maybe a row of stools at a countertop.
Eventually, proprietors realized they were missing out on revenue by only catering to men. “They tried to attract women by adding flower boxes outside of windows, and adding tables and booths,” Thompson explains. “Because ladies did not like to sit on stools in the early 1900s.”
It would take much longer for diners’ race politics to catch up with their gender politics. “Diners in the 1900s weren’t the most inclusive places,” she says. “In fact, they were segregated.”
In researching the book, she found resources that focused on the diners of post-WWII, which were white, and suburban. “And so my question was, where did black people like me go to eat at this same time?” The answer, she found, was soul food. So the book includes the soul food restaurants that co-evolved with diners and catered to African Americans.
In our Juicy Fruit segment this week, Jaison joins us from the Big Apple, fresh from a taping of The View. And the timing is appropriate, given our lead story.
After Univision host Rodner Figueroa was fired for saying Michelle Obama “looks like she’s part of the cast of ‘Planet of the Apes,'” Raven-Symoné was guest-hosting The View earlier this week and defended Figueroa, saying, “Some people just look like animals.”
Doc wonders, “Are her and Don Lemon brother and sister maybe, and we didn’t know it?”
We talk about black and queer celebrities whose work or aesthetic suggest an edginess that is not reflected in their politics, and whether it stings more when racism, sexism or homophobia come from someone inside the affected group.
The Kentucky General Assembly just wrapped up its 2015 session, and some LGBTQ-related bills were under consideration. Chris Hartman from the Fairness Campaign joins us this week to talk about the proposed legislation—what passed, and what didn’t.
Hartman also fills us in on a Fairness vote in the Bardstown, KY city council. The city council opted not to add gender identity and sexual orientation protections to the city-county human rights ordinance.
And you may have seen a Buzzfeed article last week about Louisville murder victim Sherman Edwards, and whether the LMPD is trying to cover up Edwards’ identity as a trans woman. Chris Hartman has seen the court records and says, while police statements may have been insensitive to trans issues, the truth about Edwards’ identity and the motivation for the crime is not so clear cut.
And in our Juicy Fruit segment, we address the racist chant that got Sigma Alpha Epsilon ejected from the University of Oklahoma, and how a morning show panel blamed the incident on hip hop music. In a development that happened after we taped the show, the fraternity is now considering suing the university for its dismissal.
Earlier this year, Kate Brown made history by becoming the first openly bisexual governor ever to serve in the U.S. The Oregon governor was also the country’s first bisexual statewide officeholder. But just as Obama’s election doesn’t mean we’re post racial, Governor Brown’s election doesn’t mean bisexual people are welcomed with open arms.
Even in queer spaces – some would say especially in queer spaces – our bisexual brothers and sisters still face discrimination and stereotyping, or simple erasure. That’s our focus this week.
Our guests are Perry Green, a political operative and activist, and Imani Uzuri, a composer and musician – both bi people of color. Both say they’ve been excluded from queer spaces, been presumed to change orientation to gay or straight when in a long-term relationship, been assumed to be promiscuous, and more.
“I also get women saying they can’t date me because I sleep with men and have diseases,” listener Dawn Logan said on our facebook page. “[P]eople assume us bi’s are out sleeping around with everyone. And let’s not forget the assumption that we’re up for threesomes.”
We spend most of this half hour talking with them about their experiences with biphobia and how they combat it with visibility and self-acceptance, and get their advice for other bi folks who are struggling with whether to come out, or how to deal with being stereotyped.
In this week’s Juicy Fruit segment, we bring you updates on the murder of trans woman Islan Nettles, and the Department of Justice’s investigation of the police department in Ferguson. And, as promised last week, some thoughts on the Kanye/Kardashians/Amber Rose beef, and why Kanye is trying so hard to make America love his wife.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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:
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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 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.'”
Luckily 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
He 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)