U.K.’s first gay dating show, end of no-cost PrEP delayed, WGA strike trans takeover, Kim Petras on cover of SI swimsuit issue, Beijing LGBT Center closes and Florida city prohibits Pride drag shows

6 queer stories we’re watching: May 16

Happy Tuesday! We are coming in HOT with another bonus edition of Xtra News Flash to accompany the scorching weather we are experiencing in many parts of the world. What’s the best way to prepare for hot girl/gay/they summer? Keeping up with queer and trans news, of course! Here are the top six stories of the day to help you fill the awkward silence on your next date or to share with friends over iced coffee. 

1. Gay Love Island comes to the U.K.
2. U.S. ruling that could end no-cost PrEP and HIV screenings put on hold
3. WGA strike trans takeover planned outside Netflix headquarters this Thursday
4. Kim Petras is second trans model on Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover
5. China’s LGBTQ+ movement dealt another blow as Beijing LGBT Center halts operations
6. Florida city prohibits drag shows at Pride event

1. A gay version of Love Island?

While Sapphics await the long-anticipated queer season of The Ultimatum coming to Netflix later this month, the gays were treated to their own reality dating spectacle this past weekend. BBC Three’s I Kissed a Boy premiered on Saturday and is deliberately marketed as “the U.K.’s first gay dating show”—a foil to the country’s famously straight flagship reality dating series, Love Island

Hosted by popstar and sibling-of-note Dannii Minogue, I Kissed a Boy features the familiar formula of a batch of horned-up sexy singles looking for love in a picturesque Italian villa. The 10 contestants start the show coupled up with their predetermined “best match,” but, as anyone in the queer dating world knows, mix-ups and drama are sure to follow. 

If you’ve been longing for more queer reality TV and love listening to British accents, I Kissed a Boy might be for you. The series’ first two episodes are available now, giving you plenty of time to catch up before the new episode airs on Sunday. 


2. U.S. ruling that could end no-cost PrEP and HIV screenings put on hold

Yesterday, a U.S. federal appeals court put a hold on a ruling that eliminated the national requirement that insurers cover preventative care under the Affordable Care Act, including vaccines and screenings for cancer, diabetes and HIV. The original ruling was made in March by a federal judge in Texas who ruled in favour of conservative Christian activists and health practitioners on the grounds that the mandatory coverage of PrEP and contraception violated their religious beliefs. 

The hold allows the over 150 million people who use the affected services to still access them through their insurance while the Biden administration appeals the decision in court. If the ruling were upheld, insurers could refuse coverage of PrEP, HIV screenings and other critical services, offsetting some or all of the cost to patients. 

3. WGA strike trans takeover planned outside Netflix headquarters this Thursday

Since the start of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike over two weeks ago, LGBTQ2S+ writers have been outspoken about how the issues on the bargaining table make it harder for marginalized writers to succeed in the industry and tell queer and trans stories. This Thursday, WGA West’s Transgender and Gender Nonconforming subcommittee is bringing these concerns to the front doors of the Netflix offices with a demonstration they’re calling Trans Takeover Thursday.

The takeover is open to trans WGA members and allies who are encouraged to wear pink, blue and white, sport snarky signs and participate in the “pick-it” picket ball. Hosted by Sydney Baloue, writer-producer of HBO’s voguing competition series Legendary, the ball will feature categories like Best Picket Sign, Best Dressed and Best Pet. Here’s hoping the studio executives are gagged into giving the writers the fair deal they deserve!

4. Kim Petras is second trans model on Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover

German pop singer Kim Petras is one of the four cover models for the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, making her the second openly trans woman to grace the cover. Petras discussed the pressure she feels to represent the trans community in her interview with SI. “I do feel a pressure sometimes to represent the trans community with everything I do, because I feel very blessed that I am at this point where I have all these amazing opportunities that I’ve worked really hard for, and feel so happy when I hear from trans people in general that they’re inspired by me,” she said.

Petras gained significant popularity in the past year after being featured on Sam Smith’s “Unholy,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in October 2022. The song’s success earned Petras and Smith a Grammy Award for Best Pop Group/Duo Performance. The duo’s performance at the awards show went viral, further elevating Petras’s profile. Fans can view her full gallery for the 2023 SI Swimsuit edition online.

5. China’s LGBTQ+ movement dealt another blow as Beijing LGBT Center halts operations

The Tuesday announcement of the closure of the Beijing LGBT Center, a prominent LGBTQ+ advocacy group in Beijing, has sent shockwaves through China’s embattled LGBTQ+ movement. The centre announced the suspension of its operations due to undisclosed “unavoidable” circumstances, leaving the community grappling with the challenges of securing recognition and rights. 

The closure comes at a time when neighbouring Taiwan has taken a step forward in recognizing gay rights, with lawmakers passing an amendment allowing same-sex couples to adopt.

6. Florida city prohibits drag shows at Pride event amid potential drag ban by Governor Ron DeSantis

The Florida city of Wilton Manors is facing the impact of Governor Ron DeSantis’s anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. A recent vote by the city commission stipulated that permits for the upcoming Pride parade should anticipate compliance with a state bill seeking to ban public drag performances. 

The bill, S.B. 1438, which has passed the legislature and is expected to be signed by DeSantis, prohibits government entities from issuing permits to organizations that may hold “adult live performances” in the presence of minors. Although the bill does not explicitly mention drag, Republican politicians have increasingly targeted drag performances and family-friendly events, characterizing them as “adult entertainment.” But if we know one thing, it’s that conservative legislators can’t stop a queer party—we’ll see you in Florida this summer, Ron!

Bhagyashree Chatterjee (she/they) is a Canada-based Indian journalist and PR/marketing specialist. She is a co-founder of the e-RKGYF & Karmaveer Chakra Awards 2020 nominated startup called 'Phool Patte' and a founding member of 'The Film Appreciation Society' of Hindu College, University of Delhi. Bhagyashree is an advocate for social and environmental justice. She has over five years of leadership experience as a collaborator and coordinator and expertise in community engagement and team leadership. She has worked with the government of India in different capacities and is currently pursuing her Master's in Journalism from the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Phoebe Fuller (she/her) is a journalist and graduate student based in Vancouver, Canada. She likes writing about queer stories, labour issues, social media and her latest reality TV hyperfixation.

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