Censoring ‘The Last of Us,’ George Santos’s comeuppance (?), a new lesbian bar (!?), same-sex marriage attack and powerlifter JayCee Cooper

5 queer and trans news stories to follow: March 3

Welcome to the weekend, queers! Whether you’re envisioning 48 hours full of Jell-O shots or two cozy afternoons spent with our most recent crossword, be sure you read our roundup of LGBTQ2S+ news stories before fully giving in to that Saturday vibe. 

1. Who wouldn’t obsess over Ellie and Riley in The Last of Us
2. Finally, George Santos faces the consequences of his actions
3. The U.S. could be getting its 28th lesbian bar 
4. Same-sex marriage is under attack—again
5. This trans athlete is lifting us up 

1. Who wouldn’t obsess over Ellie and Riley in The Last of Us

The Last of Us continues to deliver with the queer story lines this week, and we’re 100 percent here for it. In the latest installment of the zombie-filled HBO series, we get an episode-long flashback of Ellie, played by non-binary actor Bella Ramsey, being taken on what is essentially her first queer date. It’s really freaking cute, y’all, even if it culminates in one of the show’s characteristically brutal endings. 

But to add to the disappointment, it turns out that queer love is being thwarted even in ostensibly non-apocalyptic times (though that last part is definitely up for debate). It’s been reported that in some areas of the Middle East and North Africa, the show was censored and the version that aired had the kiss scene between Ellie and Riley cut out (!!). This is in contrast to the earlier intimate scenes between gay male characters Frank and Bill, which were kept intact, revealing an unsurprising whiff of misogyny in the mix. A depressing reminder that mushroom-style zombies are the least of our problems. 

2. Finally, George Santos faces the consequences of his actions

Constituents from the district of Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., hold signs during the news conference outside the U.S. Capitol calling on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to expel Santos from Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 7, 2023.

Credit: Mariam Zuhaib/AP Photo

George Santos is sketchy AF. Not only did he lie to his constituents about basically his entire life, he’s also been accused of pretending to be Jewish, setting up a fake GoFundMe account and committing theft using a series of bad cheques. He’s also an out-and-out hypocrite—after multiple reports of Santos performing in drag, he continues to support anti-LGBTQ2S+ legislation like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Worst first-openly-gay-Republican-elected-to-Congress ever. 

 

Thankfully, it seems he may finally be held to account. On Thursday, the House Ethics committee announced that it’s officially investigating Santos for potentially unlawful activities related to his 2022 congressional campaign, violating federal conflict of interest laws, and potential sexual misconduct. This comes after it was discovered that Santos was already under parallel investigations by the Federal Elections Commission and the Justice Department. Hopefully at least one of the investigations makes like Trixie Mattel and Meatball and drags the Congressman for all he’s worth. 

3. The U.S. could be getting its 28th lesbian bar 

Boston might once again become home to a bar that caters to queer women, non-binary folks and trans people—a huge milestone not only for the City on a Hill, but for a country where these kinds of spaces have been quickly vanishing. LGBTQ Nightlife Events, a local group that’s been holding monthly events catered to queer women and non-binary people, is making moves to open a new queer bar called Dani’s. While the lease is still being finalized, co-founder Thais Rocha told The Simmons Voice that they hope to open ASAP. 

According to The Lesbian Bar Project, an initiative that aims to support the U.S.’s remaining lesbian bars, there are only 27 remaining lesbian bars in the country—a striking decrease from the roughly 200 bars that were open in 1980. They emphasize that these bars are, at their best, not only spaces for queer women, but for people of all marginalized genders within the LGBTQ2S+ community. We’re rooting for you, Dani’s! We need more places to meet sweet queer cuties, and if you can host, we’re willing to travel. 

4. Same-sex marriage is under attack—again

That’s right, the issue we can never seem to settle for good is rearing its head again. The up-coming Scottish election is turning into a debate over same-sex marriage. Despite the fact that same-sex marriage has been legal in Scotland since 2014, Kate Forbes, first minister hopeful and current favourite to win, announced this week that she would have voted against that proposition if she’d had the chance. Luckily, other candidates in the race to become the Scotland head of government are calling her out. Humza Yousaf, currently the minister of health, told the BBC that a first minister who would potentially roll back LGBTQ+ rights would be unacceptable. 

Unfortunately, Scotland isn’t the only place where politicians are taking aim at same-sex marriage after it’s already been legalized. In Iowa this week, two proposals to ban same-sex marriage were introduced in the state legislature, despite the fact that they would be in direct conflict with federal law if passed. 

5. This trans athlete is lifting us up 

With the ongoing barrage of legislation aimed at preventing trans people from participating in sports, and recent incidents like the Vermont high school basketball team that decided they’d rather forfeit than compete against a trans player, queer jocks really need a win. And thanks to trans powerlifter JayCee Cooper, this week we finally got one. 

On Monday, Cooper won her two-year court battle against USA Powerlifting when a Minnesota judge ruled that the organization’s refusal to allow Cooper to participate in women’s competitions constituted illegal discrimination. The ruling also told USA Powerlifting, which has been banning all trans women from competition since 2019, that it must “cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices” based on athletes’ sexual orientation and gender identity. 

“I was fed up with the way that I was being treated; I was fed up with the way that my community was being treated,” said Cooper after the ruling, according to NBC News. “Enough was enough.” Cooper, you can bench-press us any time. 

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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