LGBTQ+ | WAMC

LGBTQ+

Book cover for "Black Girl, Call Home"
Berkley

It is National Poetry Month and we talk this morning with poet Jasmine Mans about her new collection: "Black Girl, Call Home." The collection explores the intersection of race, feminism, and queer identity. It is a deeply emotional and personal ode to the places we come from, and a piercing meditation on identity.

Mans caused a stir when a video of her performing her poem “Footnotes for Kanye” went viral on YouTube. Since then, she has continued to build a following through her live performances at venues like the Kennedy Center and Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theater and on stages across the country,

Her new book "Black Girl, Call Home" is inspired and informed by her own life and offers an important perspective on the world we live in. Poems from the collection have been featured by Elle and O, The Oprah Magazine, part of the national dialogue about issues and events that deeply affect people of color.

Book cover for "The Prophets" By Robert Jones Jr.
Putnam

Robert Jones, Jr., creator of the Son of Baldwin online community, has written a debut novel, "The Prophets," about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence. 

Three attorneys general, including those from New York and Massachusetts, held a press call Monday, to announce their lawsuit against the Trump Administration for rolling back protections under the Affordable Care Act.

While you may not immediately recognize the name François Clemmons, you certainly may know him from his groundbreaking role as Officer Clemmons, a recurring character on "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" with Fred Rogers.

Clemmons overcame a difficult childhood of discrimination to become a musician, a noted choir director, and to serve as a positive image of a black American at a time when racial tensions in the United States were very high.

As he writes in his new memoir, he found a family in Fred Rogers, a friend and mentor. He writes about his life and his deep friendship with Rogers in his new memoir "Officer Clemmons."

 

Tonight, LGBTQ+ groups from around Berkshire County will gather to observe the Third Annual Berkshire Trans Day of Remembrance at St. Stephens Church in Pittsfield. The internationally recognized event began in 1999 in Allston when Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, memorialized the murder of a fellow transgender woman. It’s the first of three related events happening in the Berkshires this month. Kenneth Mercure is the director of the Berkshire Rainbow Seniors group and is on the board of the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition. They spoke with WAMC.

The Massachusetts Commission on LGBT Aging is holding a listening session in Pittsfield Tuesday afternoon.

This year’s Spectrum Conference – for Sexual & Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education, Capacity Building, and Training in Response for Underserved Sexual and Gender Minorities takes place July 9-10 in Albany, New York.

Among the sessions this year will be Nine on IX, nine higher ed attorneys discussing the past and future of Title IX; an update on the state of HIV/AIDS; a panel of LGBTQI+ Presidents discussing successes and remaining challenges; and the first ever national keynote by Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, who tried to purchase a wedding cake from Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, a case that went to the Supreme Court last year.

We welcome: SUNY Associate Counsel Joseph Storch, and SUNY Director of Sexual and Interpersonal Violence Prevention Elizabeth Brady.

This year’s pride celebrations come at a complicated time in the U.S.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern, a Democrat from the second district, wraps up his conversation with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

Against an indigo backdrop of space - dotted with stars, Saturn, and a raindow - the Berkshire Pride logo sits over a bed of clouds
Berkshire Pride

Pittsfield, Massachusetts will host the third annual installment of Berkshire Pride in June.

On Saturday, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts hosts the sixth annual Live Out Loud Community Conference on its North Adams campus.

Tom Alan Robbins and Jeremy Kushnier in "Head Over Heels" on Broadway
Joan Marcus

The new Broadway musical, “Head over Heels,” opened at The Hudson Theatre on Broadway over the summer. The show, which was conceived by Jeff Whitty with an adaptation by James Magruder, features songs by The Go-Gos orchestrated and arranged by Tom Kitt.

Directed by Michael Mayer, “Head over Heels” takes audiences the kingdom of Arcadia where the “beat” is divine. But when an oracle’s prophecy of doom threatens its beloved beat, it propels the king and his royal family through a journey of mistaken identities, jealous lovers, secret rendezvouses and sexual awakening – where everything (and everyone) is not what it seems. It’s one hell of a good time and the cast recording is available now from Masterworks Broadway.

Our guest, Tom Alan Robbins, plays Dametas. Robbins’ previous Broadway credits include “Newsies,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Threepenny Opera,” “Jerome Robbins Broadway,” “Is He Dead?,” and he originated the role of Pumbaa in Disney’s “The Lion King.”

For years, Michelle LeClair, former President of Scientology's international humanitarian organization, tried to reconcile her sexual orientation with the anti-gay ideology of the church. Michelle finally ended her marriage, found the love of her life, a woman, and ultimately left the Church.

But the split comes at a price. Her once pristine reputation is publicly dragged through the mud, the police raid her home, her ex-husband tries to gain full custody of their children, and the multi-million dollar business she built from scratch is destroyed.

In her new memoir, "Perfectly Clear," Michelle LeClair offers an insider's perspective on Scientology's pervasive influence, secret rituals, and ruthless practices for keeping members in line.

Shakespeare & Company is currently presenting Obie Award-winning playwright Taylor Mac's dark comedy “HIR,” directed by Alice Reagan through October 7.

The play begins with Isaac, who has returned from the war in Afghanistan, only to discover a household in revolt.

The insurgent: his mom.

Liberated from an oppressive marriage with a now ailing husband, and with Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling as her ally, she’s on a crusade to dismantle the patriarchy. But in Taylor Mac’s sly, subversive comedy, we learn that annihilating the past doesn’t always free you from it.

Mac has said “Hir” was inspired and influenced by Sam Shephard’s “Buried Child” and by his own miserable hometown experience in Stockton, California.

We are joined by actors Elizabeth Aspenlieder, John Hadden, and Jack Doyle.

CN Lester is an academic, musician, and leading British trans rights activist. A critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, Lester also works as a composer and classical performer. They consult and educate on trans issues with a wide range of organizations and they've written on the trans experience for various outlets.

In their new book, "Trans Like Me," CN Lester takes a measured, thoughtful, intelligent and approachable tour through the most important and high-profile narratives around the trans community, turning them inside out and examining where we really are in terms of progress.

TMI Project

Jul 23, 2018

Since 2010, the Hudson Valley based TMI Project has used a time-tested storytelling methodology, transformational workshops and stellar performances in an effort to change the world one story at a time – and they have a lot going on.

The weekend of August 17, the workshop “True Storytelling with TMI Project” will be at Omega Women's Leadership Center in Rhinebeck, NY.

The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth, has teamed up with TMI Project to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Eva Tenuto and Sari Botton join us to tell us more about the Omega workshop, TMI’s documentary film “Vicarious Resilience,” and their partnership with The Trevor Project.


"Fun Home" is a groundbreaking five-time Tony Award winning musical based on Vermont author and illustrator Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed graphic memoir. The show features a book by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori. As the show unfolds, you meet Bechdel at three different life stages as she grows and grapples with her uniquely dysfunctional family, her sexuality, and her father’s secrets.

"Fun Home" runs on Weston Playhouse's Second Stage at Walker Farm through July 28.

Director Malcolm Ewen and Caitlin Kinnunen (Medium Alison) join us.

Debra Jo Rupp in Bekah Brunstetter's The Cake at Barrington Stage Company.
Carolyn Brown

Faith, family and frosting collide in the touching and timely new comic drama by Bekah Brunstetter, "The Cake," starring actress Debra Jo Rupp and directed by Jennifer Chambers. The play is running at Barrington Stage Company's St. Germain Stage through July 15.

Rupp plays Della. Della makes cakes, not judgment calls - those she leaves to her husband, Tim. But when her best friend's daughter comes home to North Carolina to get married, Della's life gets turned upside down when she realizes there's not just one bride, but two. She can't really make a cake for such a wedding, can she?

For the first time in her life Della has to think for herself, forcing her to re-examine some of her deeply-held beliefs, as well as her own marriage.

Debra Jo Rupp has been a regular at Barrington Stage Company in "Love Letters;" "Kimberly Akimbo;" "Dr. Ruth, All the Way;" "To Kill a Mockingbird" and many more. Her film credits include "Big," "Clockwatchers," and "Sgt. Bilko" and over 300 television appearances, most notably on "That ‘70s Show," "Seinfeld," "Friends" and currently recurring on "This Is Us" and "The Ranch" with Sam Elliot.

The Sexual & Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education, Capacity Building, and Training in Response for Underserved Sexual and Gender Minorities is a comprehensive, research-based training happening next week in Albany.

The conference will provide cutting-edge, prevention and response training to enhance the knowledge and skills of attendees through training to faculty, staff, medical professionals, and community and state agency service providers to turn the dial on sexual and interpersonal violence against sexual and gender minorities, while providing the most trauma-informed, and culturally-competent response and care when incidents do occur.

The conference will run in Albany, New York from June 18-22 and will include prevention and response education specifically tailored to addressing the disproportionate impact of sexual and interpersonal violence against sexual minorities on college campuses domestically, and abroad.

Joseph Storch is the Associate Counsel for The State University of New York and Elizabeth Brady is their Violence Prevention Project Director.

 Flags of pride fly at city hall on June 1st, 2018
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

On June 1st, Mayor Kathy Sheehan launched Pride Month in Albany in front of City Hall.

www.facebook.com/berkshirelgbtqpride

June is Pride Month, and among the many celebrations in our region is the second annual Berkshire Pride festival, set for Saturday in downtown Pittsfield.