WXXI AM News

Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley

Members of the LGBTQ community are blasting actor Kevin Spacey, saying he conflated homosexuality with pedophilia. Late last month, actor Anthony Rapp told BuzzFeed that Spacey made a sexual advance toward him in 1986, when Rapp was 14. In a statement on Twitter, Spacey said he does not remember the encounter, but apologized and said his actions were caused by “deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” In that same statement, Spacey then said he now chooses to live as a gay man.

The timing of Spacey’s announcement has fueled backlash: critics say it was a calculated PR move to distract from the alleged sexual misconduct, and it furthers the stigma that links homosexuality and child molestation – which is not backed by research. We talk about the impact of Spacey’s statement. Our guests:

  • Rowan Collins, education coordinator for the LGBTQ Academy at the Out Alliance
  • Kevin Coffey, assistant professor of social work in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Michael Lecker, director of LGBTQ health and inclusiveness at Trillium Health

The Trump administration has argued that laws covering bias at work do not include or cover LGBTQ issues. This is, to say the least, perceived as a significant threat in the LGBTQ community.

We focus on what the law does and does not do, and we talk about LGBTQ history in Rochester. Guests:

  • Rowan Collins, educator with the Out Alliance
  • Bob Crystal, founder of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, now known as the Out Alliance
  • Matt Haag, member of Rochester City Council

The sitcom Will and Grace is making its return to the airwaves on Thursday, after finishing an eight year run in 2006. Former Vice President Joe Biden credited the show with educating Americans about LGBTQ issues.

We discuss the evolution of gay characters on screen, and whether the show deserves its reputation. In studio:

June is Pride month, and celebrations, marches, and solidarity events are being held in cities across the country. Some of these events have been interrupted by protests from members of the LGBTQ community who feel the movement marginalizes minorities. A group called No Justice No Pride staged a protest at the recent Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C. Members issued a list of demands, which included adding more transgender women of color and indigenous people to leadership positions, more stringent vetting of the parade’s corporate sponsors, and preventing uniformed police officers from participating in the parade.

The concerns reflect the broader issues on which Black Pride groups throughout the U.S. are focused. Our guests discuss the state of the current Pride movement at the local level, intersectionality, and how communities can work to be more inclusive. In studio:

When the alt-pop band MUNA was writing their new song, "I Know a Place," the Orlando night club massacre rocked the country. That event gives the song a new urgency, and Time Magazine has referred to it as a kind of LGBTQ anthem.

This is a tenuous moment for the LGBTQ community. A report links the declining suicide rate with the passage of marriage equality, but the community is already reeling with the Trump administration's transgender order for schools, and concerned about other possible changes. A local grand jury will decide if an assault on a straight ally is a hate crime*, which has sparked discussion over what hate crimes are, and are not.

Our guests cover a wide range:

*Correction: Guests on this program indicated that the Victor assault case would not be classified as a hate crime. WXXI News spoke with an Ontario County assistant district attorney who said that while a grand jury has met about the case, no information has been released publicly, and there will be no word on an indictment until next week. Please visit wxxinews.org for more information as it becomes available.

The Supreme Court decided late last week that it will take on a case regarding the right of transgender students in public schools to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity. The case involves 17-year-old Gavin Grimm of Gloucester, Virginia, who was born female but identifies as male. Grimm came out as transgender as a freshman and sued the school board, saying its policy requiring students use bathrooms corresponding with their biological sex violates his civil rights and is sex discrimination.

We talk about how this case could have a major impact on transgender rights in America. Our guests:

  • Milo Primeaux, Esq., LGBT rights attorney, Empire Justice Center 
  • Rowan Collins, education coordinator for the LGBTQ Academy at the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley
  • S. Brae Adams, pastor at Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church, and mother of a transgender teen

Despite recent progress, it's still very challenging for some gay Americans to come out of the closet. That's particularly true for African Americans of faith.

We sit down with Pastor Malik McFarley-Sample, who came out recently. He's finding his place in the local faith community, but he admits that Rochester's black churches have a lot of work to do on LGBTQ issues. Our guests:

We examine the impact of North Carolina's new law that prohibits people from using public bathrooms that do not match the designated sex on their birth certificates, and that forbids local governments from creating their own anti-discrimination ordinances.

What does this mean for the discussion about equality, particularly as it relates to the transgender community? How likely is it that other states will pass similar legislation?

We also sit down with Nathan Manske, the founder of I'm From Driftwood. It's a project that "aims to help LGBTQ people learn more about their community and straight people learn more about their neighbors." Manske is in Rochester for several events, including a public presentation at the Gay Alliance's Resource Center. Our guests: