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    Ann Rostow: It’s Show Time!

    By Ann Rostow–

    It’s Show Time!

    I have to start this week’s column with a discussion of Representative Lauren Boebert’s recent eviction from that performance of Beetlejuice: The Musical at a Denver theater. Where to begin, my friends? 

    You’ve read the reports, I assume. But have you seen the video, a replay from the theater’s security cameras that reveals the true Boebert behind the pious MAGA-mom persona she has attempted to cultivate? Waving her arms, dancing in her chair, and singing, her behavior suggested that she was high as a kite. At one point, she pulled out a vape pen and clearly took a big puff, although according to a spokesperson, the woman who asked her to stop vaping suffered from a “misunderstanding” and hadn’t noticed the “heavy fog machines and electronic cigarettes used during the play.” Okay then!

    The best part, however, was when her date groped her breast, easily within his reach thanks to her absurdly low-cut skintight gold dress, which made her look like the over-the-hill street walker who tells the detective that she saw the dead girl get into a dark blue sedan with a man no one had ever seen before. “Thanks, Candy,” the detective says, passing her a twenty. “Get yourself something to eat.”  

    And here’s the kicker. The guy she was with, her boyfriend of several months Quinn Gallagher, is a Democrat who runs the “Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar” in Aspen. Last winter, the bar hosted a “Winter Wonderland Burlesque & Drag Show,” so presumably Mr. Gallagher does not share Boebert’s faith-based hostility to LGBT entertainment. “Take your children to CHURCH, not drag shows,” she tweeted last year. 

    Previously, she assured us, “I’m a Christian,” adding: “so they may try to drive me to my knees, but that’s where I’m the strongest.” I’m guessing Quinn Gallagher can vouch for that. 

    The Bill Comes Due for Kim Davis

    Speaking of Christians, Kim Davis, the former Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk, was ordered by a federal jury to pay $100,000 to a gay male couple who sued her after she refused to issue a marriage license in the aftermath of the High Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage. Oddly, Davis was sued by two male couples; they both won, but only one pair got the do-re-mi. There’s probably a perfectly logical explanation, but I wrote “oddly” only because I haven’t bothered to track down the details so it remains “odd” from my limited vantage point. According to an NPR report, the other couple’s lawyer said that her clients “were gutted and even more dejected … that while their Constitutional rights were broken and they were thrust into a circus not of their making, they [received] no damages.” 

    Let me pause to say that I have the distinct feeling that I’ve written about other financial penalties incurred by Ms. Davis in the past, but I can’t say for sure. I just went scavenging for clarity, and I could not find evidence of previous money damages, but I did discover that the second couple were at the mercy of a separate jury, so that somewhat resolves that mystery.

    Davis is represented by our old buddies at the Liberty Counsel, one of those far-right legal groups that specialize in anti-GLBT litigation. The Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver is “looking forward to appealing this decision and taking this case to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said. “Kim Davis has blazed the trail in Kentucky where she has obtained religious freedom for all clerks. Now it is time to extend that freedom to everyone, and that is what Liberty Counsel intends to do.”

    So, yes, another nasty piece of work may be headed to the nine justices who begin their 2023/24 season as this issue goes to press. We assume that one or more transgender cases will make their way to the High Court either this term or next. I also just read an interesting piece about the sheer craziness that lies ahead on the docket. Titled “The Supreme Court’s new term will be dominated by dangerous and incoherent lawsuits,” the article is penned by SCOTUS expert Ian Millhiser, writing in Vox

    The half dozen or so cases highlighted by Millhiser do not deal with GLBT issues, but his article is well worth reading just to get a sense of how much some of the federal appellate courts have devolved since Trump and McConnell steamrolled a collection of Neanderthals through the Senate. The Fifth Circuit (Texas and Louisiana) in particular is singled out for sheer lunacy, including the ruling that aims to outlaw the early-days abortion pill throughout the country. Millhiser is no fan of this Court, but the pending legal questions are so farfetched that he believes even the Trump appointees are likely to reverse the most outrageous rulings. As for Alito and Thomas, they may be too far gone, but we’ll see. 

    The Road Taken

    Two items jump out at me from my news list, neither of which has anything to do with the GLBT community. But when have we ever declined to take the backroads and side trails that beckon with intrigue just because they might be a little off topic? For example, have you seen the “real cheeseburger” that briefly went on sale at Burger King stores in Thailand? The product consisted of 20 slices of American cheese slapped on a bun, period. That’s it. No meat, no burger, no lettuce, no nothin’. Just cheese, and nasty tasting American cheese at that. According to CNN Business, the average Thai customer likes a lot of cheese on food, ergo some brainstorming marketing team came up with this. I guess it was only available for a few weeks, but still. It’s disgusting.

    Speaking of disgusting, can I file a formal objection to the genre of television commercials that feature close ups of people eating gross fatty messy things dripping with grease or sauce? The stars of these ads are invariably GenZ types, and no one has taught them to use a napkin or to eat with their mouth closed. They take huge sloppy bites, have a laugh, and let bits of food fall out. Their faces are covered with God knows what. And the whole presentation is theoretically designed to inspire us, the viewers, to join them in their grotesque excess. No thanks, guys. Suddenly I’m not hungry.

    Also, Burger King has a jingle that is deliberately sung out of tune by an off-camera bro, who is undoubtedly a participant in one of these mindless orgies. I don’t like it. That, combined with the American cheese promotion, is enough to turn me off Burger King, even though I’ve probably been there three times in my life. Let’s just say there won’t be a fourth.

    I’m Too Sexy for My Campaign

    And the second item? It’s the Democrat running for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates who has been making money on the side by having sex with her husband on camera and charging the audience through a service called “Chaturbate.” Susanna Gibson, a 40-year-old nurse practitioner with two kids, had over 5,000 subscribers to the show, which was made public after Republicans discovered it and posted some of her sexcapades. 

    Gibson was then outraged by the invasion of privacy, which she called “a sex crime.”

    “They are trying to silence me because they want to silence you, and I won’t let that happen,” she said in a statement. “My opponent and his allies know that the people of this district are on our side on the issues, so they’re stooping to the worst gutter politics. There’s too much at stake in this election and I’ll never stop fighting for our community.”

    I’m sorry, Susanna, but you simply can’t live-stream explicit sex videos online for money and expect to keep that private while you run for office. I gather the practice is perfectly legal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s admirable or brave. On the contrary, coming from a politician it’s weird and creepy, and it shows terrible judgment, particularly since the platform was not password protected so anyone could join the cyber party.  

    Speaking to The Washington Post, an adult entertainment lawyer out of Michigan, Corey Silverstein, said it was “fantastic” to have “someone running who has an open sex life. It’s actually very refreshing.” I don’t live in Virginia, but I would still like to see the House of Delegates flip from its 49–46 Republican majority. So, no, I don’t think it’s “fantastic” that our candidate for one of the few tossup seats has no doubt doomed her chances with this outre behavior. Couldn’t she at least have removed the evidence before the campaign began?

    We Are in Kansas

    I’m feeling my age today as I grouch about low-cut dresses, fast food, and online sex. For three decades or so, let’s say from late twenties to late fifties, everyone is in the same cohort. Some are older, some are younger, and there is a big difference in the extremes, but everyone is a generic “adult.” Then comes an inexorable move into a different generation. You’re not a kid anymore in your early 30s. And you’re not a generic adult in your mid-sixties. Call yourself what you will, you’re part of an older generation. Further, in my opinion, it’s unbecoming to pretend otherwise. 

    That said, I’m not sure my disdain for Boebert’s trashy look or Gibson’s devil-may-care indifference to hardball politics is a function of my Baby Boomer status. Maybe so, maybe not. The nice thing about getting older is that you’ve earned your opinions and are far less swayed by how they might seem to others. As for the diatribe about the food ads, that just reflects my innate sophistication. I’ve always had it. 

    Moving on, I was almost going to skip this item out of Sterling, Kansas, population 2,248, because, well, that’s an awfully small town. And yet, it’s an infuriating story and one that stands in for who knows how many other small towns around the country where a handful of petty power mongers run roughshod over civil rights and state law.

    It started when the librarian Kari Wheeler and her assistant Brandy Lancaster arranged a display for the national summer reading program “All Together Now.” Among the books included were The Color Purple, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Separate Is Never Equal, Wonder, and To Kill a Mockingbird. A poster with a quote from Maya Angelou, “in diversity there is beauty and strength,” showed a disabled child in a wheelchair on a background of five rainbow colors. And in the piece de la resistance, a rainbow infinity symbol and heart that represents autism rights was pictured with the credo, “we all think differently.” You’ll notice that this wasn’t even a GLBT presentation, even though two of the posters had rainbow images. 

    When news of the display reached the library board and right-wing city staff, the librarians were told to take it down pending a board meeting, which they did. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, one city worker said the autism poster “made her sick to her stomach.” Two weeks after the board meeting, the two librarians were fired and the offending posters were gone for good.

    On September 12, Wheeler and Lancaster, joined by two neurodivergent library patrons, Samantha Corwin and Audra Asher, filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City against the 8-person library board, the City of Sterling, and the mayor on Free Speech grounds, viewpoint discrimination, as well as wrongful termination and violation of various administrative rules. 

    According to the 30-page complaint, earlier this year these same blowhards told the librarians to hide Flight of the Puffin, a book with a non-binary character, in a desk drawer rather than allow it to circulate. Press reports indicate the board members have not bothered to account for their $60,000 annual budget for years now, and it appears they reappoint themselves annually without input from the city. So far, the board has refused to provide comment or information to the press, arguably defying sunshine laws, but they are not likely to avoid scrutiny from the federal bench. Let’s hope that they don’t pull a Trump judge.

    GLBT Fortnight in Review
    Published on September 21, 2023