Queers on TV, P.E.I. Pride nixes politicos, Ugandan death sentence, Grindr’s HIV tests and a super-drag queen telethon

5 queer and trans stories to watch: March 22

Saddle up, queers, it’s only hump day! It’s been a packed news week already, and it’s not over yet. But not to fear: we’ll never let you fall out of the loop. Read on for our roundup of all the midweek, must-read news and culture stories that you probably won’t get into trouble for reading at work (because it’s news, right??). 

1. What’s up with LGBTQ2S+ representation on TV?
2. P.E.I. Pride will not allow politicians to march in their Pride parade 
3. Uganda makes it a crime to be LGBTQ+ 
4. Grindr is going to be distributing free HIV testing kits 
5. Legendary roster of Drag Race alum sign on to Drag Isn’t Dangerous telethon

1. What’s up with LGBTQ2S+ representation on TV?

When it comes to TV, the ups and downs of LGBTQ2S+ representation have been emotionally exhausting, y’all. The Last of Us had some sweet (if zombie-filled) queer plot lines, and Yellowjackets is back this weekend, for those of you who are fans of ’90s aesthetics and/or teenage lesbian cannibals. But we also just witnessed the heartbreaking cancellation of A League of Their Own. And that’s just in a matter of weeks. Understandably, it can be hard to know where we stand! 

Luckily, GLAAD’s yearly “Where We Are on TV” report, which assesses the projected state of LGBTQ2S+ representation on TV, came out yesterday. Here’s the bad news: queer representation is down from last year by 6.4 percent. Plus, over 20 percent of the characters counted this year will not be returning due to series cancellations. 

But there’s good news, too: for the first time in the report’s history, over half of the LGBTQ2S+ characters on streaming are people of colour, and asexual representation also increased significantly. The report also says that series like The Last of Us and Abbott Elementary prove that when networks back LGBTQ2S+-inclusive shows, they wind up with major hits—seems obvious, no? Here’s hoping for more of that next year. 

2. P.E.I. Pride will not allow politicians to march in their Pride parade 

Canada’s smallest province is taking a major stand against empty allyship this year, and we’re here for it. Pride PEI announced on Monday that they will not allow provincial political parties to march in this year’s Pride parade. In a press release, they said that while politicians have often taken part in this “symbolic form of allyship,” it has not resulted in “tangible efforts to address the rise in hate speech and acts of violence.” 

 

The announcement also referenced “recent comments from those in leadership positions,” presumably referring, at least in part, to a recording that was recently leaked of P.E.I. PC leader Dennis King. In it, he’s asked about trans issues and responds by saying, “You don’t gotta drive everything down everybody’s throat.” Yeah, very not cute. 

Amid recent conversations about whether Pride parades really reflect the roots of queer liberation, it’s refreshing to see some organizations take a stand against hollow allyship. 

3. Uganda makes it a crime to be LGBTQ+ 

Yesterday, Uganda’s Parliament passed a law that makes it a crime to identify as LGBTQ+, and gives Ugandan authorities broad powers to target LGBTQ+ Ugandans with draconian punishments. These include a life sentence for anyone caught having queer sex, or the death penalty for anyone engaging in so-called “aggravated homosexuality,” which, the law says, occurs in instances like sex with people under the age of 18 or where one person is HIV-positive. All this in a country where queer people already face severe discrimination

While more than 30 African countries, including Uganda, already ban same-sex relations, often thanks to colonial-era sodomy bans, this new law has the dubious distinction of appearing to be the first to make simply identifying as LGBQT+ a crime. “This law is very extreme,” Frank Mugisha, a prominent Ugandan LGBTQ+ activist, told Reuters. “They are trying to erase the entire existence of any LGBTQ+ Ugandan.”

4. Grindr is going to be distributing free HIV testing kits 

That’s right—Grindr users who are looking will soon find more than tops, bottoms and sides. The app, which is the most popular gay dating platform in the world, is going to play a key role in the TakeMeHome campaign, a massive effort to distribute free at-home HIV testing kits across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. In partnership with the CDC, Emory University and other public health orgs, Grindr will allow users to order free HIV testing kits using a button that is within the app itself. 

Anyone over the age of 17 will be eligible to order up to two kits every 90 days, but the program will specifically focus on populations disproportionately affected by HIV, such as cisgender men who have sex with men, trans people and Black cisgender women. Users will also be able to use the app to set testing-reminder alarms.

Best of luck on all your love and sex, queers, and don’t forget to play safe! 🍑🍆

5. Legendary roster of Drag Race alum sign on to Drag Isn’t Dangerous telethon

Okay, we’re not sure about you all, but our 2023 bingo card did not include one single event that included Jinkx Monsoon, Bob the Drag Queen, Trixie Mattel, Katya, Monét X Change, Alaska and so many other iconic drag performers that we literally cannot list them all in this roundup. But, to our very pleasant surprise, on Wednesday it was announced that all these legends will be participating in the one-night only Drag Isn’t Dangerous telethon on May 7—and anyone with access to a computer can get a ticket. 

The event is a direct response to the rise of “red state tyranny and oppression,” and will raise money for charitable LGBTQ2S+ causes that support trans people and drag artists. It will include a mix of live and pre-taped performances, celebrity cameos and—get this—a live switchboard of drag queens taking your donations over the phone(!!). 

“The only place where men in dresses sexualize children is church,” said Trixie Mattel in the press release. You better work, divas, and know that we will be coming with cash tips. 

The event is a direct response to the rise of “red state tyranny and oppression,” and will raise money for charitable LGBTQ2S+ causes that support trans people and drag artists. It will include a mix of live and pre-taped performances, celebrity cameos and—get this—a live switchboard of drag queens taking your donations over the phone(!!). 

“The only place where men in dresses sexualize children is church,” said Trixie Mattel in the press release. You better work, divas, and know that we will be coming with cash tips. 

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.

Keep Reading

Over 300 anti-LGBTQ2S+ bills have been introduced this year. This doesn’t mean we should panic

OPINION: While it’s important to watch out for threats, not all threats are created equally. Some of these bills will die a natural death

Xtra’s top LGBTQ2S+ stories of the year

The best and brightest—even most bewildering—stories from a back catalogue brimming with insight

Elon Musk and Texas attorney general Ken Paxton are suing Media Matters. Here’s why queer and trans people should care

OPINION: When politicians and the rich leverage the power of the state to quell dissent, we all lose

The ‘trans debate’ isn’t just about wonky policy issues, it’s about families

OPINION: Anti-trans laws are tearing apart the families conservatives purport to want to protect