‘Barbie’ takes the world by storm, lesbian rights in Italy and the U.K. and more

5 queer and trans stories we’re watching: July 24

Hello and welcome back to another Monday with Xtra! Today we’ve rounded up the top five stories in the queer news world, from the world going wild for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie to the 1975’s recent controversy in Malaysia.

1. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie made box office history with a queer-heavy cast
2. Lesbian mothers are beginning to be removed from their children’s birth certificates in Italy
3. A lesbian couple in the U.K. won a fight to make IVF costs equal for heterosexual and non-heterosexual couples
4. A school board in California is using social studies textbooks with references to gay rights after a governor warned of the dangers of censorship
5. The 1975 cut short a set at a Malaysian music festival, which was subsequently cancelled altogether, in protest of anti-LGBTQ+ laws

1. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie made box office history with a queer-heavy cast

The hotly anticipated Barbie dropped this weekend to roaring success—the movie made USD $155 million through opening weekend in North America, and with international screenings and previews, it made history as the biggest debut ever for a film directed by a woman. 

Gerwig told Out magazine earlier this month that ensuring queer actors were cast in the movie was essential. Queer actors like Hari Nef, Alexandra Shipp and Scott Evans feature as residents of Barbieland, with Nef joking that the set was like “Greta Gerwig’s Drag Race”. 

“There’s no way we could have told this story without bringing in the LGBTQ+ community, and it was important for us to represent the diversity that Mattel has created with all of the different Barbies and Kens that exist today,” Gerwig told Out

Not everyone was satisfied with the representation, however. Parade magazine editor Matthew Huff told NBC News he would have liked to see more explicit queer representation.

“For a movie that spends so much time dissecting gender norms and highlighting the importance of diversity, I really wish Barbie had openly acknowledged queer people,” he said.


2. Lesbian mothers are beginning to be removed from their children’s birth certificates in Italy


Legislation passed by Italy’s conservative prime minister Giorgia Meloni has resulted in some lesbian mothers being removed from their children’s birth certificates in the northern city of Padua. At least 27 mothers have been removed from 27 birth certificates, after Meloni’s government forced local authorities to stop registering the names of both parents on the birth certificates of children born to queer families. 

Only the birth mother can be listed as the mother under the new legislation—meaning that in cases where the non-birth mother’s eggs were used to conceive the child via IVF, the non-birth mother would have no legal relation to the child. 

Mothers were told via a government letter that they would be retroactively removed from their children’s birth certificates, stripping them of parental rights. 

“I suspect the government is afraid that a family that looks different, like ours, can be as happy—maybe even happier sometimes—as a traditional family,” lesbian mother Michela Leidi said, after she was removed from her daughter Giulia’s birth certificate. “On paper, they say Giulia has one mother but we know she has two. We will do everything possible to prove we are a good family.”

3. A lesbian couple in the U.K. won a fight to make IVF costs equal for heterosexual and non-heterosexual couples

A lesbian couple from the U.K. has won their fight to make IVF more accessible for queer couples. Megan and Whitney Bacon-Evans launched a judicial review of the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) requirements for couples seeking to conceive via IVF, highlighting how heterosexual couples qualify for IVF treatment after two years of trying to conceive. As a same-sex couple, they underwent 12 rounds of private fertility treatment costing tens of thousands of pounds before they qualified for the same treatment. 

The couple withdrew their request for a judicial review after their local Integrated Care Board announced they recognize the need to update their policies, meaning that in future, same-sex IVF will be more accessible specifically for same-sex female couples.

Maria Caulfield, the U.K. government’s parliamentary under secretary of state (minister for mental Health and women’s health strategy), said that she expects “the removal of the additional financial burden faced by female same-sex couples when accessing IVF treatment to take effect during 2023.”

4. A school board in California finally accepted a social studies textbook with references to gay rights, after the governor warned of the dangers of censorship

The Temecula Valley Unified School District has adopted a social studies textbook after previous uproar over a brief reference to gay rights in two paragraphs of the book. 

The board had previously rejected the curriculum in May, with some board members claiming that “there was not enough parental involvement in the curriculum creation process,” alongside “making comments attacking gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk,” per CNN. 

“This has never been about parents’ rights,” California governor Gavin Newsom said of the controversy. He previously threatened the board with a USD $1.5 million fine. “It’s not even about Harvey Milk—who appears nowhere in the textbook students receive. This is about extremists’ desire to control information and censor the materials used to teach our children.”

If the board did not accept this edition of the textbook, they would have been forced to use a textbook from 2006, which wouldn’t comply with laws from 2011 regarding the need to include historical contributions from gay and trans historical figures. 

Board president Joseph Komrosky said that the board wasn’t accepting the textbook because they were satisfied with its contents, but because they otherwise would “literally be sued.” 

5. The 1975 cut short a set at a Malaysian music festival, which was subsequently cancelled altogether, in protest of anti-LGBTQ+ laws

The 1975 cut short a gig in Kuala Lumpur at Good Vibes music festival on Friday in protest of the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws, subsequently cancelling upcoming concerts in Indonesia and Taiwan. Good Vibes festival was forced to cancel the remaining lineup for the rest of the weekend, after a directive from the Malaysian government’s Ministry of Communications and Digital.

“I don’t see the fucking point of inviting the 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” singer Matty Healy had said at the festival. “Unfortunately, you don’t get a set of loads of uplifting songs because I’m fucking furious.” Healy then kissed the band’s bass player Ross MacDonald, and the band left the stage shortly after, with Healy saying, “All right, we just got banned from Kuala Lumpur, see you later.”

Many queer fans feel that Healy’s actions further jeopardize their safety, and were a hallmark example of white saviourism. Malaysian drag queen Carmen Rose dismissed the protest as “performative” in comments to the BBC.

“If he was doing it for our community, he would know what consequences we would have to go through,” she said. 

🌈Bonus good news (because we need it)🌈

A European man may be the sixth person ever to have been cured of HIV, per NBC News! The man, who has been in remission for two years following a stem cell transplant, will join the small but growing club of those cured of HIV if enough time passes with no signs of the virus.

Eve Cable is a reporter based at The Eastern Door in Kahnawà:ke. Her work has also been featured in Filter Magazine, The Rover, The Hoser, and more.

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