Beyoncé tour kicks off, FDA eases blood restrictions, mpox no longer an emergency, Poland remains worst place in EU to be queer and Elliot Page praises gender-affirming care

5 queer stories we’re watching: May 12

Good afternoon, queers! It’s finally getting to be that time of year—wherever you are, here’s hoping that you get those first lasting whiffs of patio season this weekend. But before you toss your work computer under the bed, or whatever your “I’m over this” ritual happens to be, don’t forget to check out our roundup of five queer and trans news stories you wouldn’t want to miss. 

1. Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour is queer AF
2. The FDA eased restrictions that prevent some LGBTQ2S+ people from donating blood 
3. The WHO declares mpox no longer a global health emergency 
4. Poland retained its spot as the worst EU country to be queer 
5. Elliot Page posted a selfie praising gender-affirming care

1. Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour is queer AF

Now, queer Bey-stans will probably not be surprised to hear this—Renaissance the album is a tribute to Black queer culture—but we now have hard proof that the accompanying tour is super gay. Opening night took place in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 10 and the LGBTQ2S+-ness of it all was evident immediately. As the show began, static bars appeared on the screen and slowly coalesced into the progress Pride flag, complete with the black and brown stripes and the trans flag colours. 

https://twitter.com/B7Album/status/1656332605019521027

And beyond the artistic tributes, there was concrete thought put into making the concert a safe and comfortable place for LGBTQ2S+ fans. The Renaissance tour team has announced on Twitter that it will be turning most of the bathrooms at its concert venues into gender-neutral ones. Not only can every Beyoncé fan access a bathroom where they feel comfortable and affirmed, but we can all kiki in there about what’s happening out on the stage (including the very, um, expressive fan robot).

2. The FDA eases restrictions that prevent some LGBTQ2S+ people from donating blood 

 

After decades of discriminatory AIDS-era regulations, the FDA has finalized its new guidelines for blood donation. Up until now, the U.S. health regulation org has singled out gay and bisexual men in its blood-donation screening questions. First instituted in 1985, these restrictions have lessened over time—not a super impressive feat on the FDA’s part, given that it started out as a lifetime ban. Now, they’re instituting a policy more akin to those in Canada and the U.K., which involves risk-assessment questions that are the same for every individual and screen for high-risk activities rather than whole groups of people. 

However, some of the FDA’s policy changes are similar to ones that have been criticized in Canada for continuing to disproportionately affect queer people. For instance, now all donors will have to have waited three months after having anal sex before they donate, something some folks have said will continue to single out gay and bisexual men. People who are taking PrEP at the time of donation will also be ineligible. 

3. The WHO declares mpox no longer a global health emergency 

Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to the global health emergency for mpox. This comes a few months after the U.S. made a similar announcement, when they said in February that mpox was no longer a public health emergency in America. 

According to the WHO, countries have reported 90 percent fewer cases in the last three months than they did in the three-month period before that. After the meeting of the emergency mpox committee, it was recommended that the agency change its designation to reflect the decrease in cases. “We now see steady progress in controlling the outbreak based on the lessons of HIV and working closely with the most affected communities,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference

And who deserves credit? Our money is on the queer people who spearheaded grassroots efforts to prevent the spread of mpox, even amid a lack of information and action on the part of some government and public health officials

4. Poland retains its spot as the worst EU country to be queer 

All right, queers, coming in hot with some potential vacay spots that you might want to cross off your list. Human rights organization ILGA-Europe has released its yearly ranking of the most and least LGBTQ+-friendly European countries. To pull together the list, ILGA reviews all the laws and policies that affect queer people in each country, which provides the basis for a grade that ranges from zero (for gross human rights violations) to 100 (for full equity). 

At the top of the list (in a bad way) is Poland, which has now had that dubious distinction for four years running. The country’s current 15 out of 100 is up two points from last year, for moves like lifting the surgical interventions that used to be required for legal gender recognition. The bar is starting very low, clearly, but hopefully we see more movement asap. 

Ranking highest out of all the EU countries is Malta, with an impressive 89 out of 100. Booking flights now—see you there. 

5. Elliot Page posted a selfie praising gender-affirming care

It’s the official steamy summer selfie season, folks—thank god. And to top it off, A-list hot guy Elliot Page is one of this year’s first notable participants. This week, he shared a shirtless self of himself on Instagram while reflecting on how much gender-affirming care has changed his life. 

“Dysphoria used to be especially rife in the summer. No layers, just a T-shirt—or layers and oh so sweaty—constantly looking down, readjusting my oversized T,” wrote Page. “It feels so f’ing good soaking in the sun now, I never thought I could experience this, the joy I feel in my body.” 

“I am so grateful for what gender-affirming care has allowed me,” he added. Now that we know that some conservative politicians are as into Instagram thirst traps as the rest of us, let’s hope they’re reading (*paging Ron DeSantis*). Luckily, we can all look forward to more insight into the inner workings of Elliot Page in his upcoming memoir, Pageboy.

Maddy Mahoney (she/her) is a journalist and writer based in Toronto. You can find her work at CBC Arts, Maisonneuve, Toronto Life, Loose Lips Magazine and others. She lives in Toronto and speaks English.

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