COVID, AIDS, and Community

Listen to this episode

S1: Hi and welcome to Outward for the month of March. I’m Brian Louder, editor of Outward and I have a cocktail recipe to share courtesy of one of my partners mothers.

S2: It’s called the quarantining, same ingredients as a martini, but with an extra dash of anxiety. And you’re allowed to have as many as you need until the stir craziness fades into a stupor.

S3: Speaking of mothers that we should be thinking of, I’m Vermont alarm and I’m thinking of Tami Taylor. There’s a great episode of Friday Night Lights. It’s such a throwaway line, but she’s calming somebody down and she says you need to get needs some fresh air in your hair. And I think those are such wise words. I think we all need some fresh air in our hair. So I hope you’re listening to this podcast, strolling down the street with your headphones on six feet away from all of your neighbors. Yeah, definitely.

S4: I’m Christina kotto ruchi, a staff writer at Slate and host of The Waves Slate’s podcast about women and gender. And I am coming to you from my apartment in D.C., where I just finished watching what appeared to be a gay landscaping company, apply mulch along the sidewalk across the street. I feel like an old like shut-in peering through my curtains every day because the only thing I have that’s different every day is what I see through my window. So there is a evidence. No, a a twink and a cut T-shirt. Evidently another guy in and it gets better evidence. No, see, the company is called versatile and no deal. I looked it up online and the logo of this company is the silhouette of a fit man. Topless, I presume, holding a rake in a hand. Credible shout out first tool. My local, presumably gay, but not proven gay landscaping company.

S5: I have to say that before we jump into this show, there is a Bravo reality show about a queer landscaping company called Backyard Envy. So if you were in there called The Man, the man escapers. But if you are into learning more about queer landscaping economy, talking about it.

S4: My goodness. That’s a community I don’t know much about. Soil. Absolutely.

S6: For sure. So all joking aside, we wanted to start the episode on a little bit of a serious note by just acknowledging that this is a really fucking scary time and we’re recording the podcast today with each of us isolating at home. I know many of y’all are in the same boat, but many others are still out there on the front lines keeping the world turning. It’s gonna be a hard, sad, lonely couple of weeks and months ahead as we navigate this pandemic.

S5: And so we hope that the show can offer maybe a little bit of queer connection and comfort.

S6: I’m drawing strength right now from the knowledge that our community has been through worse and that we hold the wisdom and resilience from those experiences in our bones. And I think with that, we’ll get through this thing, too, here.

S7: Yeah. Yeah. Well-thumbed.

S5: OK. So on today’s show, though, his name might feel like it comes from 15 years ago. We wanted to take some time to reflect on Pete buit edge edges historic campaign for the Democratic nomination and the surprising division it inspired within the queer community. Given that we are all on the record as Pete Skeptic’s here outward, we will be joined in that discussion by Brooke Clagett, a gay Pete supporter, to ensure that Fox News style fairness and balance is in play as we figure out what the mayor, Pete Scism, was was all about. Then we’ll be joined by Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, to discuss the resonances between the AIDS crisis and covered 19 that so many of us have been feeling, as well as how our community is uniquely impacted by the current pandemic. And then, of course, we’ll have our usual. PMP is an update to the gay agenda, this time focused on how to bring a little joy to your queer and teen without ramen.

S3: Yeah. We’re going to start the way we normally do with our nod to our fictional form. Other Bette Porter’s seminal provocations exhibits. We talk about what we as hosts are feeling proud of or provoked by right now.

S4: Christina I have a pride this month, so my pride was brought to my attention and indeed the attention of the Queer Universe by someone named Tabor Bane on Twitter who earlier this month shared a photo of a woman with a butch haircut wearing a U.S. public health service, uniform work shirt and a lanyard of keys around her neck.

S8: And the commentary that Temur provided was first relief I’ve felt on the U.S. covered 19 response is the CDC posting this picture from their emergency operations center, showing there is at least one lesbian with a keychain neck lanyard that jangles when she walks on the job. I was so proud to see this photo, in part because I just love to see gender nonconforming people and queer people out doing things because we’re everywhere. I know I talked about my favorite pharmaceutical commercial operation honorees and that just as a random butch woman on there. I like seeing random butch people sprinkled throughout life. And so a bunch of queer media outlets covered this adorable person and said that she was assumed to be a lesbian. But I just found out today through some social media stalking that we have a mutual friend. And I can confirm that Jen Bornemann is queer. She’s a commander in the U.S. Public Health Service. She has also been deployed to Liberia for the Ebola epidemic, as well as a couple natural disasters and shootings. So she’s a real queer to be proud of.

S3: And she responded to the attention that she had received. Right. And I thought, like, her response was so great. Look, she just seemed somebody who is not only capable and reassuring for being capable, but also funny and had a sense of humor about it.

S8: And it just felt good to see Butch Competent be speak. She reminds me, I think my personal emotional response to this picture was amplified by the fact that she reminds me of a younger version of my doctor who’s also a butch dyke. And I just imagine that she has like very common steady hands. She has a great haircut, which I think we should all give our thoughts and prayers that she’s able to maintain it at this time when probably a lot of barbershops are closed. So thank you, John Berman, for your service. And I’ll just add a little wisdom from her Twitter feed. The best ways to calm fear are to breathe and be informed, she said. So take that advice.

S9: Good advice. Good advice. Brian, how are you feeling this month?

S10: You know, I am also feeling proud and I’m specifically feeling proud about the way that our queer nightlife, party spaces, party promoters took this seriously.

S2: The covered pandemic seriously and canceled those events with relative quickness, I think, within the community. We have an under sort of understandable urge to want to gather and sort of be joyous in times like this. And I think it is it was probably initially very hard to understand how serious this was and how how much we really needed to cancel those those kinds of gatherings. And I’m thinking of, you know, small things at bars, big things like the BLOCK Party, which was coming up here in New York. And in a couple weeks, you know, over the past week or so, all of those folks have canceled those things, dealt with, you know, losing all kinds of investment for the good of the community. And I think that is to be praised because. It it’s hard, it’s just hard to do it, and it’s it’s I know I personally really wanted to gather with folks and as it became clear that that just wasn’t safe. It it was the right thing to do. So I’m proud of that. I’m also proud. Sort of on the same token that we are adapting to digital options for for togetherness. I don’t know if feel I’ve seen, but a lot of a lot of these same party promoters and deejays are now doing livestream sets. So if you this weekend kind of want to gather with a bunch of queer people online and still quote unquote rave you, you can do that all over the place. There’s a lot of I think just look out basically where you would where you would normally go out. And they are probably doing something on Facebook or Instagram live, that kind of thing. And you can still participate that way. And I think that’s it’s really exciting to see how we moved from, you know, losing our physical spaces to these digital spaces.

S9: You know, I think people it’s really brought out creative thinking in a lot of people. And, you know, it it might it might sound like a frivolous thing. But I also think, you know, people are a little lonely and a little weirded out, especially now. And, you know, there’s even more desire for community than there might normally have been. And so it’s nice to see people kind of think and adapt their thinking and come up with some clever solutions.

S11: Yeah, definitely. Ramon, what do you got?

S3: I’m also feeling proud. I think that, you know, these are times for, you know, you have to find optimism where you can.

S12: But my family has relaxed or familial rules around screen time for obvious reasons. And so my husband and I and our two boys have been watching this show, Lego Masters, which is the sort of reality Lego building competition. And I’m really charmed by and proud of this married couple named Flynn and Richard. They are from Oakland, California. And they’re just very cute and very good at building Legos. And it’s just one of those instances where representation can be so powerful, kind of like our our lesbian friend at the CDC. It’s just like, here’s a couple of you know, here’s like had devoted married couple who are really good at building Legos. And, you know. I don’t know why there’s something very heartwarming about watching them do their thing. And also they are really good at building Legos. And it really blows my kids’ minds and it kind of blows my mind, too. And that show has been a real bomb. Generally, just because it’s sort of a happy. I mean, what’s not to be charged by a bunch of adults playing with a toy for children, you know?

S4: Do your kids have the reaction like, oh, hey, those are gay people building Legos?

S3: You know, I think that they just because it’s so much of their reality. What’s funny is that what they said to me is that that couple reminds them of of some friends of ours who are a lesbian couple, which I think is such an interesting statement.

S9: But I just think increasingly, kids and not just kids who have queer parents, it’s just of kids and in or even necessarily kids in our community like New York City, they don’t notice stuff like that. They’re just like, oh, yeah, that’s a couple. They’re married, you know, they love each other. It’s not it’s sort of it’s weirdly immaterial to them. And it’s one of the things that makes me so optimistic about the next generation. You know, it’s very it sounds very serious when I talk about it that way.

S13: No, that’s it. But it’s so nice to have something to be optimistic about. Yeah. Yeah, it is. It is. I’ll I’ll take it where I can find a, you know, definitely tough. I’m definitely going to watch some Lego masters.

S14: I think I need a little just positive creative stakes lists entertainment in my life.

S12: Yes. You could definitely do worse than an hour watching a bunch of adults build Legos.

S8: Our first segment for today’s episode is Pete Boudia JEJ. So on March 1st, after he placed fourth in South Carolina’s Democratic primary, our fellow gay Pete booted JEJ suspended his presidential campaign. So for the past couple months, we have gotten requests from a couple of different listeners to do a full segment on Pete Boobage Edge. And we thought this felt like a good time and possibly our last time to do a real postmortem on the first major gay candidacy for president, which love it or hate it or love to hate it or hate to love it. Most queer people have felt some kind of way about. So for this discussion, we are not going to focus so much on his candidacy, quaff candidacy, his strategy and policies, because that feels a little bit beside the point right now. But we want to talk about what it meant for queer people watching his candidacy, what it said about gays and politics, and most importantly, what the responses to his candidacy can tell us about rifts in L.G.. P.D.Q. Communities today. So to help us unpack. Pete Bhuta JEJ. We are joined by Brook Cliggott, my pal from here in D.C.. Hi, Brooke. Hello. How are you? Good. Thanks for coming. So, Brooke, you are or or were, I guess, not only a big Pete supporter, but you were really organizing for him. And I know we know from polls that Pete wasn’t supported by a majority of LGBTQ people, which I think was surprising for a lot of pundits who kind of expected more gays to be excited by this candidacy. Did that surprise you as a gay Pete supporter, to see so many gays not lining up behind him?

S15: I think it surprised me and still surprises me to the extent that there are gay men who are even viscerally opposed to Pete or have very strong negative feelings against him. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that he didn’t that he wasn’t the first choice for president among gay women. A lot of women really think that there ought to be a woman president now. And we had so many. You know, really pretty superstar candidates that I think it was it was really difficult when women just aren’t accustomed to having multiple choices of highly qualified presidential candidates to vote for among women. So that that didn’t surprise me. Very much of the lesbian community wasn’t ecstatic about his candidacy or didn’t feel as if it really spoke to them necessarily. Although I would say that I think a lot of people I do know a large number of gay men and lesbians and other queer people who do support his candidacy.

S8: What you’re talking about, people making choices based on their identities has been a little bit. I have felt like that narrative doesn’t fully explain people’s political decisions. And I have felt like there has been an impulse to say, you know, why aren’t women supporting Pete? Well, maybe because they want to support a woman. But if we look at the numbers, I actually wrote a piece about this for Slate. You know, this election has kind of shown once and for all that you can’t count on voters to line up identity groups for the candidate that just shares the most identity markers with them, because people are motivated by policy and by perception and by a lot of intangibles, what they perceive as electability. But also, I think because we can have some of the most fraught relationships with candidates who are like us, especially when we’re underrepresented in politics, and that one candidate has to carry the whole load of whatever underrepresented identity group were a part of you.

S16: You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that it’s a big burden for a candidate who is a member of an underrepresented group to bear responsibility for representing the entire community from which that person comes. And I think Pete really exemplifies that. And I think some of the queer resistance to Pete was not based only on policy differences, but on a I guess of a sort of sense of. Disappointment that he.

S17: It just stuck with the kind of really long tradition of having a presidential candidates be have rather socially conservative lives. And what I noticed more than men and women feeling differently about Pete because they’re men are women.

S16: I noticed the younger LGBTQ plus voters responding differently from those of us who say went to high school where nobody was out. Even though it was like the most liberal high school in the country.

S15: So so a generational gap, but then also a geographical gap. I I the gay people, queer people that I know in rural areas and in the Midwest were much more touched and inspired by Pete’s presidency than on the coasts and in large metropolitan areas. And I think that’s just it’s older people and urban rural people have have have to get along with non queer people all the time.

S16: So we get we can’t really or haven’t always had the luxury of being as gay as we wanted to in everyday life.

S15: So I and heat for a lot of us that allowed us to imagine moving that that line a little bit from total lack of participation to at least getting their foot in the door.

S4: Brian, I know you we’ve talked ad nauseum for the past like year about this, but I know you’ve had a lot to say about the the the divides that his candidacy has exposed. What is the nature of that? What you would say is like the fundamental divide. Yeah, his candidacy has shown totally.

S5: I mean, I’m sitting here just sort of reflecting back on that year. It really was a year, right? Didn’t you write your piece like an god?

S4: She don’t mention it.

S11: I know Brooke and I are still talking about Christina’s famous famous piece that we will not mention.

S18: No, it’s I’m reflecting on it. And I’m really feeling like. Like what? I mean, the divide was there and I’ll talk about it in a second. But I think what what sort of triggered it was this almost this like thing that straight people did where we were like, were they like.

S2: Asked us to kind of respond to or account for Pete? Like, I’m remembering like a specific conversation. Like in the office where one of our dear straight colleagues was like basically like kind of interrogated me about like as like a gay man, about like what what I thought about. He didn’t like what, you know, isn’t it great? And I feel like that pressure is speaking to the identity thing that you were talking about earlier. But it’s that pressure to like to kind of. Yeah. Account for him is what got so many people’s backs up about it. Because then I started thinking about it. And I think a lot of people, you know, started thinking about, well, what about. What do I think about him like as a gay person? And that’s where you get into this divide that I think Marcia guessin in The New Yorker maybe articulated the best, but a lot of people were talking about it beyond that peace between people who sort of have a A and a notion that queerness like should sort of have a specific certainly a specific political agenda and probably like this, that EC, too. And that’s the thing that got really dicey. And I think we could talk about as like the aesthetic part of it, because that’s that’s that like crystal versus urban versus rural thing.

S19: And like that’s all in there and is very. Yeah. Very, very tricky. But I do think there is a divide that was that did emerge that I think is pretty fair.

S2: And even if generalized, that’s fair between people who were like, well, like if I’m supposed to react to him as a gay person, he is not exuding anything that gayness means to me. Right. Like that is how I personally felt about him. I looked at him and I did not see like a gay peer, whereas other people definitely did. And like in that and the contours upon which we like felt those things is that divide. But I think it’s a really old divide.

S19: I think, you know, it’s it’s one that in my mind, sort of just reading and writing is like a gay writer, you see going back decades where it’s just like, ah, you know, does being gay have anything to do with my politics? Sort of my my, you know, way of being in the world or is it just like a demographic fact. And and he felt to me like someone who is very much like this is a demographic fact.

S18: And it like I would rather not talk about it. I don’t think. And I think you’re right. And I think part of what’s so.

S3: What’s so unsettling about that is, is to think about like when I think about the next generation of political leaders to emerge, it is hard to imagine a queer person of color emerging from, say, the Black Lives Matter movement, for example, and having the same path towards national office that people to judge had simply from being a small town mayor. And that’s by virtue of not his gayness, but his sort of white maleness and the ways in which he seemed like a respectable middle class person. I feel like all of the people to judge supporters who I have met personally were people my parents age, and I feel like they were all kind of like imagining some like theoretical gay son bringing somebody like people to judge home, you know, and it’s like it’s like a difference of various particular kind of respectability politics that feels like it is. It’s more about whiteness than about gayness.

S15: Well, I think I think that it’s very difficult to imagine somebody from the Queer Black Lives Matter movement emerge on the national scene as a potential presidential candidate because it’s so inherently countercultural.

S20: Of course, you know, we have not yet had a counter-culture president. So at my knowledge. We’ve only then had two who have ever been divorced, I believe.

S15: Right. You don’t. You don’t. Frequent circuit parties and if you’re president.

S13: That right? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

S8: And I think when I watch this is what I’ve learned about myself throughout this, is that I don’t feel as suspicious of straight people who conduct themselves and build their lives around the ambition of something like becoming president and to forgo the Rangers and who, you know, never, never send anybody a nude picture. They’re scared that’s going to come out someday, like. But I did fault Pete butat JEJ for it, for the fact that, you know, he said pretty blunt bluntly several times that he was reluctant to come out until he was in his 30s because he felt like it would stymie his political career.

S20: Well, that is a lot harder to do in Indiana than it is in Washington, D.C..

S17: I think he does. And for a military person as well during don’t ask, don’t tell. But in addition to that, I think my understanding of what, you know, Pete’s journey was was not so much coming out, but letting himself be. In other words, I don’t think that he was, you know, dating men on the down low. Right. You know, I think that’s a big difference between just deciding, OK, so here’s where I am. I guess I have to live alone and focus on my work because I don’t conform is a much different decision from gallivanting or just even having experiences that you’re not being honest with people.

S8: Yeah, right. But I will say being, you know, at Harvard and being at Oxford, I I do feel that, you know, his world was expanded beyond college town in DNA, that without our lives, although we grew up in different places, I grew up in small town New Hampshire, you know, and our backgrounds are not different enough that I think we could have had completely different ideas of what the world’s possibilities were. But it did make me think about the issue of the question of what are people willing to give up, how much are they willing to camouflage about themselves or deny themselves in order to fit cultural expectations built by people who hate us just to obtain power? You know, I knew a lot of straight people who were very understanding of and touched by his decision to come out late in life and in a very politically palatable way. And to me, that was the thing that turned me off most about him. And the thing that made his gayness least legible to me. So my decision about who to support for president is based on policy. But my emotional reaction to the candidates is shaped very much by things like that. Like Pete Bhuta judges identity and story, because I share nominally his identity.

S3: You know, I think it’s not you know, I think it’s not dissimilar from what some of the criticisms of Obama, you know, that Obama had to navigate a very particular kind of blackness and had to perform a rejection of like the radical black church when he was still a candidate, because that made him more palatable to, you know, whiteness or power. And I think I understand Christina’s reluctance to I mean, obviously, if you want to be the president of the United States on some level, you are a sociopath. And I think we’ve seen this talking about this like a fear of that level of ambition and that desire for power. And Pete embodies as surely as someone like Kamala Harris, as surely as somebody like Barack Obama. It’s like that’s you’re just a fiercely ambitious, like model U.N. kid who just, like, charge forward into adulthood. And I think Christina’s sense maybe that Pete Pete’s gayness is was mitigated throughout his adulthood by a kind of focus group tendency is probably right. Look, I think that probably is how he thinks about himself. I have a I have an acquaintance who went to Harvard with Pete. And when they were when we had talked about his candidacy and what this friend said to me was, I would love to know when Pete first convened the focus group to determine whether he would be called Mayor Pete or me or Peter.

S9: And I think that’s a canny statement. And, you know, frankly, I want that level of insane professionalism in politics, because we look at where amateur politics has gotten us right now. You know, especially right now. Yes, absolutely. Do you think he’ll be back?

S20: Do you think he’s someone that will absolutely be back? He’s my in my fantasy where Joe is going to adopt his new call to serve.

S15: This plan for national service, increased national service and starting like the Climate Corps and expanding AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and put it in charge of it, and then we can we can move forward. But I know that he’s going to be back, both campaigning really aggressively for down ballot candidates, both in the Senate and the House. And I understand he has some other plans as well. So he’s not we haven’t seen the list of people to judge.

S2: We know I’ve I’ve actually broken one one over a little bit by your impression of him as someone who just maybe really did come to their identity late and sort of put it aside. And so what I’m hoping that he can do now is maybe take some time to explore what what gayness means to him. I mean, and there are there are signs of hope. I saw an Instagram photo of him having gone to a performance of the inheritance here in New York, a gay player.

S5: So he is he did that.

S10: I mean, I would just hope that he takes some time to do that, because I think, you know, I don’t think it’s like a lost cause.

S5: I think he just I think what’s unfortunate for him is that he got put into this position of the first your first gay sort of serious gay candidate without maybe without having heart. You know, I tend to agree with Christina that I find it hard to believe that at Harvard and Oxford, et cetera, that you would not have found outlets for for exploring it. But let’s just say that’s true.

S10: I hope that he.

S5: Ken, take the opportunity to explore a little bit and like, you know, I don’t know, maybe even like I would love for him. I don’t know. I don’t wanna get involved in hasn’t Chasen’s relationship, but I want him to be able to date around bit.

S13: I just think that’s right. No, no, that’s not going to happen. No, know. I know, I know. But I would never risk precedent now.

S20: But anyway, Charleston is interesting in this discussion. Very few people had a similar reaction to Justin. Yeah.

S15: And and yet he he also is the kind of person that you would you know, your grandmother would just love her grandson to bring you more of. Your neighbors are gay. The more of your parents’ friends are gay, the more of your your kids friends are gay. I think the more you understand that gay people are just people and are willing to accept them.

S20: Yeah. The more your presidents are gay, you know, more your presidents are gay. Yeah.

S15: And I think, you know, a a latex suit or a leather harness could really interfere with that. They’re normal in 2040.

S4: It’s gonna be a completely different story. Yeah. In 2040 we’ll have our first leather fetish. President.

S20: Yeah, and that and that’ll be great. I’ll be celebrating with everybody in that.

S8: Well, thank you so much for joining us, Brooke. This was very cathartic. And listeners, we would love to hear your thoughts. You can email us at outward podcast at Yes, we read your emails and we try our best to respond to them. So please let us know. Thank you, Brooke.

S7: Thanks, Brooke. Thank you.

S6: All right. So as the reality of the coronavirus pandemic begin to set in. In recent weeks, a literal gallows humor meme went around the Internet. The image was of a nonchalant James Franco and a movie about to be hung and the text read Straits. I can’t believe the government would just ignore an epidemic that threatens thousands of lives. And then at the bottom gaze. Oh, first time so covered a curve at 19 has been a fast moving situation. And so by the time we’re recording this episode, the government is in fact finally taking serious action to slow the outbreak, albeit after weeks of relative denial and deflection. But the maims basic comparison between the initial years of the AIDS epidemic and our current public health crisis remains striking. And many of us have sensed resonances between those two experiences. So to help us think through this, as well as to understand how covert is impacting LGBTQ communities specifically, we’re joined by Alfonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

S2: Alfonzo is an accomplished and nationally recognized LGBTQ civil rights lawyer and advocate, and he’s the first civil rights lawyer, the first black man and first person of color to serve as president of the HRC in the organization’s 40 year history. Welcome, Alfonso.

S21: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

S6: Thank you for being on. So just to begin, obviously, these are two very different diseases. And the government response to Khirbet has not been nearly as slow as it was to AIDS, with President Reagan famously not even saying the word until 1985. But with that stipulated, I love for you just to speak a bit about the similarities between the two situations that you’ve been thinking about in the past couple weeks.

S21: Sure. Sure. Before I get into the comparisons and distinctions between Cold IT 19 and the HIV AIDS epidemic, I want to first say that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community has been challenged in the past multiple times. When we are a community has been faced with challenges. We have had to dig deep and come up with solutions to make sure that we are aggressively advocating for our community. And to your specific question, the HIV AIDS epidemic ravaged the gay LGBTQ community and it also ravage communities of color. And you correctly pointed out that the Reagan administration did not say anything about AIDS or HIV for quite some time and thousands and thousands of people died. Now, the comparisons that are being made to Kolbert are appropriate in some cases and inappropriate and others short. The Reagan administration didn’t say the word AIDS or HIV for a very long time.

S22: And the HIV AIDS epidemic was in the very early stages, really dramatically affecting only gay men and people of color.

S23: By contrast, the cold hit epidemic or pandemic is affecting everyone.

S24: And government is responding in a way that they did not respond to. HIV AIDS epidemic. You know, we often see how government responds when it affects disadvantaged communities, when illnesses, unfortunately and we are history proves this when illnesses and challenges are being confronted by disadvantage in marginalized communities. The response, unfortunately, has been very different here. Government didn’t respond adequately. I believe they are responding, but certainly not adequately. But they’re certainly responding differently than they did with the HIV AIDS epidemic.

S9: When I think about images of community of response to the HIV AIDS epidemic, I think of sort of great scenes of protest and crowd. And I wonder whether, you know, obviously what we understand about the infectious nature of the current situation means that we can’t gather in numbers and we can’t have those kinds of theatrical protests. So I’m wondering if that’s something that is part of the thinking of an organization like yours, that maybe that typically you would rely on people with signs mobilized in, you know, in view of television cameras. Absent the ability to do that, what can organizations and groups of people actually do?

S21: Yes, that’s a that’s a very good point. It’s something we’ve been thinking a lot about.

S22: Organizations like ours can still mobilize people who are unable to leave their homes or are concerned about leaving their homes for fear that they may contract the virus. And that’s what we’re doing. I issued a letter today to the public and to all of our members and supporters outlining for them what they can do, making sure they understand that they still have a role in seizing back our democracy. They still have a role in making sure that our rule of law is respected. They still have a role in making sure that we can support pro-equality candidates for office. You know what? What scares me more than anything else, because we’ve learned from our history that when communities are stricken with crises such as this, it is the perfect storm and the perfect opportunity for unethical governments to sort of run roughshod over the rights of vulnerable populations. Right. And you can imagine this happening here where we’ve been told to all stay in our homes in self-quarantine or not congregate in groups. And the only information that we’re getting is from the media. And the media is getting their information arguably from government. And I worked in government for 12 years. So I understand the importance of providing meaningful, concrete, accurate information to the public. But really, the public is at the disposal of government because government is just deciding what we know and what we don’t know. And so what we’re doing is making sure people understand their role. They understand their role in advancing a government that can represent the interests of all of us and not just simply some of us. And so right now we’re going to be doing telethons. We’re going to be engaging with our members. I’ve held a few press conferences by virtually I am going to be doing much more of that virtually to make sure that we can connect to people, make sure at their computers they can still engage, they can still get involved and help us get to November where hopefully we will have a new administration.

S2: Yeah. You know, another thing that I know that the HRC is doing right now, that there’s really valuable has been collecting data specifically on how covered 19 is impacting LGBTQ people, which is something that as far as I’m aware, we don’t really have specific numbers on yet.

S11: So I’m curious if you would like to take us take us through that data and highlight some of the the most important findings that they all have come to you when you think about.

S25: And I think this is this is somewhat, somewhat common when people think of LGBTQ people. They rarely think about poverty. But the reality is one out of five LGBTQ people currently live in poverty, and that is a striking number. But it’s true.

S26: That’s because the stereotype is of of like a white a white, wealthy gay men stereotype as a wealthy white man.

S24: Right. Doing well is sort of will and grace and will. And Grace certainly represents a part of our community, but it is not all of our communities.

S23: And and one in five LGBTQ people in the United States, that’s 22 percent live in poverty compared to an estimated 16 percent poverty rate among street counterparts.

S22: That’s an important number for us to appreciate. As we go through this time and the numbers get dramatically worse when we’re talking about people of color. So the poverty rate for transgender people in the United States is 29 percent compared to again, 16 percent for our street counterparts. And this is going to have a dramatic impact.

S25: The poverty rate being what it is, is going to have an even is going to be compounded by by Cauvin 19. We have been looking at the industries that will be most affected by the pandemic and those industries are risk.

S27: Grants and food services, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities and retail.

S25: And when we look at those those five industries, we have determined that approximately five million LGBTQ workers, anywhere between 5 and 6 million LGBTQ workers work in these industries that are disproportionately impacted by Cauvin 19. So the two million people who work in restaurants, foods and services, that’s 15 percent. Just as an example. And if you talk about hospitals, a million who work in hospitals, that’s about 7, 5, 7 percent of the people that work in that industry. So we have to think about the community that currently lives in poverty. And then the community that may be working, but still living under the poverty line that are now going to be disproportionately impacted. And we’re going to be rolling out that data. So people are informed about a community that unfortunately often lives in the shadows.

S9: I wonder if I could I would if I could ask. Just briefly, if you could illuminate for people. The you know, the nature of your advocacy. I guess my question being like, did does the HRC have a seat at the Trump administration’s table?

S12: And failing that, if you’re if you don’t have people inside of the seat of power listening to you. Are there governments or figures on the state and local levels with whom you have relationships and who you are taking?

S9: Carrying this message, too.

S22: With respect to the Trump administration. I don’t believe that any progressive groups actually have a real seat at the table. If anything, we’d been placated and in some cases lied to about what the Trump administration would be willing to do. So what we’ve done instead is working coalition with other organizations. We are part of a council called the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and that leadership conference includes the NAACP and it includes the Anti-Defamation League. It includes organizations from all over the country. And we’ve working collaboration to make sure we’re elevating issues that are affecting our communities. In fact, we recently issued a joint letter. More than 200 organizations outlining the concerns that we have for voting and making sure that the rights of residents in this country are actually protected as we go through this pandemic. And that letter was elevated, of course, to the White House until all policymakers, including at the local level. So we’re doing that with respect to working with local elected officials. Yes, we have very good relationships with many governors and other executives in states across the country. And we raise these concerns with them. So as they implement their policies, they are mindful of the collateral consequences of doing so without really thinking about disadvantage and marginalized communities.

S9: Is it the case or is it fair to say that your that the HRC and other organizations that have see the battle, the larger battle as an electoral one and that, you know, there’s some concentration in institutional efforts towards thinking about November?

S23: Yes. Yes. This is what we have to provide immediate resources, support and guidance to our communities as we all come back. Colvert, 19. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that we have an election that will effectively define the next several generations of people. If we think about the United States Supreme Court just as an example, and if we are unable to elect a pro-equality candidate, we may actually lose additional seats on the Supreme Court. And that is so critically important because the court interprets the law that defines our rights.

S22: And when you are living in a marginalized community, when you are living in a disadvantaged community, you have to look to the judiciary.

S23: The judiciary has often been the place that we go to in order to vindicate our rights, in order for us to validate that we actually exist and we matter if we lose that foothold, it will be a significant and potentially insurmountable challenge for this generation.

S22: And so that’s what we’re fighting for and making sure that people understand this election is significant. We need to activate people around the election. We need to make sure that they understand what is at stake. And we need to provide them with the tools, the resources, and be creative in the day of being virtual for for us to to really mobilize. And that is a challenge, but is the challenge that our history has prepared us for a Fonzo.

S11: I think that’s a great place to leave it. But before we do before we do, I just wanted to ask where can our listeners go to find out what work of the HRC is doing on covered on the election and on everything else? What’s the best place to connect?

S28: So there’s two places I would I would suggest people go. The first is our Web site, which is w w w dot h r C for Human Rights Campaign dot org. So that’s again W W W dot HRC dot org. Folks can also follow us online meeting on any of the social media platforms. They can find me at Alfonzo David and that’s both on Instagram as well as Twitter. And we also get a lot of information out through social media so they can use one or all of those resources.

S11: All right. Alfonzo, David, thank you so much for what you do and for joining us today in difficult circumstances. But but I think hearing what troller up to as a bright spot and what’s going on. Sir, thank you so much.

S22: Thank you. I want to thank you. I want to thank you all four for hosting this podcast and getting the word out because it’s so critically important. So thank you for doing what you do as well.

S7: So that’s about it for the month.

S3: But before we go, we’re going to share our gay agenda for this particular moment in time. So it’s your Queer and Teens Survival Guide. Christina, what do you have for us?

S4: All right. I did a YouTube to board a class the other day. Are you guys familiar with your body? Is that a vegetable all? No. It is a type of workout. I’ve done it at like a gym before where it’s a mix of the ones that I’ve been to at the gym have been a mix of like cardio strengthen palardy is this one. Not so much palardy is, but you do 20 seconds on with an exercise seconds off or you rest 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. It is some of the hardest workouts that I’ve ever done. And I’ve been just cooped up at home. I’ve been walking around the neighborhood. But I don’t run in. So and I really needed cardio to have some endorphins. So I took a YouTube class called a 30 minute Tabata session to burn some serious calories. It was taught by a guy named Rainier Po Lard, whose family, Granier is spelled R and R. I think he’s an instructor at Equinox and Equinox shirt on, which we’re all boycotting because that’s the company that said fundraises for Trump. But don’t boycott Rainier because he is very sweet, very funny. Clearly a big gay confirmed by Ben stocking on social media. He sweats a lot, which I find very comforting because I never trust an exercise instructor that looks like they’re not doing anything. I’m like, what is this so easy for you?

S11: They’re getting like rewires sweat wiped off between takes.

S14: In fact, he makes a lot of jokes about how much he’s sweating. Apparently, he’s a comedian, too, which explains why I laughed so much dirt.

S8: And then I found out online as I was stalking him that he holds the Guinness World Record for the most burpees in high heels, which is the twenty seventh. Wow.

S18: I just got goose bumps from that.

S14: He has a beautiful body. If I’m allowed to objectify him, you’re in a safe space. The class I took the video was from 2016 and I did it for free. But I am also seeking recommendations from our listeners for ways to exercise at home that I would gladly pay for another queer person to be teaching me how to exercise at home. So yeah, you can find Reindeer’s video on YouTube. It’s called a 30 minute to body session to burn some serious calories. Or you can just look him up and he has a bunch of videos on his Web site and stuff.

S12: I mean, I feel like we’re all. It’s funny how much this quarantine or this sort of forced isolation has revealed our natural human desire for connection and God. Yeah. And like, just the like, you know, I never would have thought that. One of the things I would miss if you told me I couldn’t leave the house was the ability to go to like a hot yoga class. But apparently it’s really important to me and I really miss it and I’m like losing my mind. So, yes, by the end of this, maybe we will have taken Rania’s class enough that we all have incredible beach buddies. So I’m not going to make up for all the extra all the crane work here, all the baking.

S19: Yeah.

S9: My my agenda survival item is that Designing Women is on Hulu and I hike Hannant highly recommended enough paying the $5 or whatever it is to not have any ads and to sink into the very cool pool of this show that was really ahead of its time politically and socially, but is like now from the context of a very staid and very sitcom and very ridiculous.

S12: And there’s just something so no nonsense about the Sugarbaker ladies. I find them very FERTIG as I’m as the world is collapsing around us. I find it very comforting to spend some time with Dixie, Carter and Stoltenberg. What can I say? I’m gay.

S11: And that, Marjorie, is the night the lights went out. Yes. Your job designing women?

S14: I think I’m a. I have to hand back my gay license because I’ve never seen Designing Women.

S12: Well, let me just tell you right now, it’s extremely comforting. It’s really silly. It’s totally charming.

S11: I hate to say this. You’ve got to see this clip that I just quoted. It’s like, yeah, it’s iconic drag. Every drag queen with her heels in is there’s this by heart.

S18: So my gay queer into an agenda item is actually it’s a bit related to what casino just set about wanting to pay queer creator queer fitness instructors for their content.

S2: One thing that my little family is thinking about doing and I think is a really great idea. For all of us to think about is to think about the queer artists nightlife service folks that we know in our lives and that are now, you know, as we discussed with Alfonzo, adversely affected more so than others by this quarantine and losing their work. Think about, you know, how much we spend on those folks per month and find a way to get that money to them anyway. There are a number of spreadsheets for this study going around where people are putting in their, you know, their van moes or their pay piles, that kind of thing.

S11: But I really would just recommend that you look to your own communities and just think about those, you know, those that drag queen, that bartender, that that waiter, whoever it is, who you would normally be giving some bucks to. But you can’t because, you know, they’re not there, you know, and find a way to get them that cash because they need it. And you would have normally spent it. So, you know, I think it’s just a nice thing to do and try to help keep those.

S2: That sector of our of our community going through this really tough time for them. So that is a great call to action.

S14: And and I’ve found that it feels good to have concrete things to do, even if they’re small, to feel like I am somehow contributing to helping people through this, because it feels like there are so few things I can do when I’m just at home. I’m not actually seeing people and connecting with people. So I’ll take your call to action on that, Brian.

S7: Yeah, that’s a good one.

S8: Well, it’s been great chatting with you guys for this hour. That’s our episode for this month. We hope that you are all hanging in there out in quarantine land. Please keep sending us your feedback and emails, especially now. We’d love to hear from actual people. You can e-mail us at outward podcast at or find us on Facebook and Twitter at Slate outward. Thank you to our amazing producer, Daniel Shrader. June Thomas is the senior managing producer of Slate Podcasts and the 60 percent alcohol sanitising solution that cleanses our souls.

S4: If you like outward, please subscribe to it in your podcast app of choice. Tell your friends about it. Write and review the show, especially if it’s a good rating and a good review. We will be back in your fields next month from our home. Makeshift recording studios. Probably.

S29: I’ll miss you guys. Bye, Roman. Bye with. Great to see you guys. Stay.

S30: Stay safe. Bye, Brian. Yeah, bye. Let’s let’s let’s keep in touch. Love you guys. All right. Bye, everyone. Stay gay.