Capitol viewing: The Lavender Tube on Jan. 6 hearings, 'Queer as Folk,' & Pride shows

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday June 14, 2022
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Cast members from the new 'Queer as Folk' on Peacock
Cast members from the new 'Queer as Folk' on Peacock

Let's call it, "Saving Democracy," a limited series. The January 6 Committee Hearings certainly have all the drama of a hit summer true crime/thriller series. The prime-time opener was mesmerizingly powerful and incalculably disturbing. Everything we thought we knew about January 6 truly did pale by comparison to what was revealed.

As our mother, a radical Civil Rights worker, used to say when she made us watch something newsworthy on TV, "This is history in the making." Indeed. And that was what makes this both essential viewing and deeply, irrevocably shocking.

The nine-member panel that has investigated the attack on the Capitol is led by Chair Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Elizabeth Cheney. Both were extraordinary in very different ways, coming from vastly different backgrounds and philosophies, but both in agreement as to what happened January 6, 2021 and who was responsible.

Video shown at the Jan. 6 Committee Hearing, broadcast on CNN  

That insurrectionist attack on the Capitol in an effort to stop the 2020 election votes from being certified led to several deaths and injuries to 140 law enforcement officers. Capitol police officer Caroline Edwards testified in gruesome detail about her experience that day. Video of her being injured was presented. And few will forget her description of "slipping in the blood" of fallen comrades as she helped fellow officers, including Brian Sicknick, who would die from injuries he suffered in the attack.

Prior to Edwards's testimony, the most vivid and visceral statement had been recounted by Cheney who said, "Aware of the rioters' chants to 'hang Mike Pence,' the president responded with this sentiment: 'Maybe our supporters have the right idea.' Mike Pence 'deserves it.'"

Trump would refute that the next day, but Jonathan Karl, Chief Washington Correspondent for ABC News and the co-anchor of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," interviewed Trump last year for his book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show." On June 10, a portion of Karl's taped interview about calls for Pence's execution was played on ABC's "World News Tonight." In that exchange, Trump is succinct—he says it was understandable that people wanted to kill Pence. "The people were very angry... It's common sense, Jon."

January 6, as seen through the lens of these hearings, was incontrovertibly a coup against the government. Watching the major players in the Trump administration's inner circle, including Donald Trump's favorite child, Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, and Attorney General Bill Barr speak in bald and raw terms about Trump and his response to losing the election was both revelatory and repugnant.

Kushner and Barr were highlighted, in their own recorded testimony before the Committee, as craven, venal self-dealers who actively harmed the country by going along with all of Trump's fantasies until the election. And it was only the beginning. This is the most provocative story of our time. Don't miss it. Stream the hearings on demand at ABC, MSNBC, PBS and CNN.

Nielsen reports that 20 million people watched the opening hearing; a huge number: ABC with 4.8M, MSNBC with 4.1M, NBC with 3.5M, CBS with 3.3M, CNN with 2.6M. PBS and streaming services did not report, so it is likely an even higher number.

ABC's 'Pride: To Be Seen - A Soul of a Nation Presentation'  

Be Prideful
Pride may be an imperiled experience, given the way the GOP is trying to legislate LGBTQ folks out of existence with hundreds of anti-gay/anti-trans bills in every state legislature. (Philadelphia Gay News)

More than a half-century after Stonewall, with record numbers of queer and trans people coming out, we are still having to fight the very same fights as our queercestors and transestors to establish our rights to full citizenship and to safety in our own lives.

With that in mind, Happy Pride! Here's some affirming and engaging Pride programming that is well worth your time.

Soul of a Nation
There was a real cultural disconnect when "Pride: To Be Seen - A Soul of a Nation Presentation" debuted on ABC immediately following the first January 6 hearing. Yet at the same time it was soothing to be brought deep into our own community and its comforting embrace after the violence and fear generated by the hearing.

Hosting was British actress and model Cara Delevingne, who identifies as bisexual and genderfluid. Delevingne, who came out publicly at 22 in 2015, spoke about her own experience of coming to terms with her sexual orientation, which included depression.

The special, now streaming on Hulu, was quite powerful with a focus on trans and queer people and LGBTQ people of color. ABC has a slate of gay and lesbian anchors and reporters, all of whom are also people of color and they were on display here.

We admit we were surprised to learn reporter Steve Osunsami is gay. His segment from a school for queer and trans kids in —wait for it— Alabama, was revelatory. The kids were incredibly sweet and made one ache that they are going through too much of the same hell so many of us went through when we came out. But Osunsami, the son of Nigerian immigrants, talking about his own experience of being unable to go to prom as a teen because he was gay was a moment to be shared with these kids who were having their own LGBTQ prom.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre  

Reporter Gio Benitez interviewed White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who made history last month as the first Black and the first openly gay WHPS. Jean-Pierre and Benitez shared their experiences of coming out in immigrant families and how hard the process with their families has been.

Robin Roberts interviewed a Black pastor who is an LGBTQ ally and who has created a welcoming space for LGBTQ people to stay in the church.

There was a great segment on drag which of course highlighted the queen of queens, RuPaul Charles and their famous quote, "You're born naked, the rest is drag."

Reporter Alex Perez, interviewing trans man Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender NCAA Division I swimmer, who also spoke about first coming out as a lesbian and being recruited originally for the Harvard women's team. Though this was not noted in the segment, Bailar is also the first publicly documented NCAA D1 transgender man to compete as a man in any sport. Historic.

The group of three men Perez interviewed included gay male actor Jonathan Bennett and queer/questioning actor Joshua Colley. Perez, who came out at 25, talked about his self-loathing as a gay youth and how painful it was for him and how lost and isolated he felt. It was difficult to witness.

Bennett had a comment for anyone trying to come out who is being told it's too much. He said, "You're never too much and you're always enough."

more 'Queer as Folk' cast members  

Queer as Folk Redux
Russell Davies 1999 British series "Queer as Folk" became, along with "The L Word," one of the first all-queer TV series in the U.S. Debuting on Showtime in 2000, the series ran for five seasons.

Peacock's latest iteration of "Queer as Folk" is what we need now. It speaks to the violence of our time and the ways in which we find resilience to survive and move forward.

The first episode of "Queer as Folk" features a mass shooting at a gay nightclub. In this era of mass shootings, and with the sixth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando this week, this episode and the story arc that comes from it has particular resonance for LGBTQ viewers. (Wanting to get things right, series creator Stephen Dunn and writer—executive producer Jaclyn Moore brought in survivors of the Pulse shooting as consultants.)

We can't say enough about the power of this series at this point in historical time. The stories are our stories, the pain and survivalist messaging is fundamental to our own experience right now, and the players feel pitch perfect.

In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Jaclyn Moore said, "Queer joy exists only in a world where this trauma happens too. If we were to make a show about queer joy that didn't have tragedy or trauma and didn't reflect that reality, that to me would feel like a fairy tale."

Moore added, "Queer joy and found family and being defiant and being resilient; those are things that are part of the queer experience but they exist inextricably linked from tragedy and trauma."

The cast includes the fabulous Kim Cattrall, Juliette Lewis, Jesse James Keitel, who we loved in "Big Sky," Fin Argus, Johnny Sibilly and CG. The series also has two disabled cast members, Ryan O'Connell, who has cerebral palsy, and Nyle DiMarco, who is Deaf. This is actual inclusion, people.

New Orleans, where we used to live, is the latest setting for "Queer as Folk" and that also resonates, since nowhere in America is resilience and survival better understood. This is a such a deeply moving, sweet, sexy, painful, amazing series. Watch.

Pride TidBits
Watch as Da Brat brings her romance with Judy Dupart to center stage on "Brat Loves Judy," on WE TV's ALLBLK streaming service. Season 2 of the hit reality show is now streaming. This lesbian couple is absolutely fabulous and so much fun in action.

'Brat Loves Judy'  

Hulu says "Pride Never Stops," and as part of the service's commitment to Pride programming, they will launch the ABC News docu-series "Mormon No More" on June 24. The series follows two married Mormon moms who fall in love and leave the faith.

ABC says, "'Mormon No More' explores how the couple navigates telling their husbands, families and the church, and what it's like to co-parent their combined seven children with their ex-husbands. Their journey includes other Mormon and ex-Mormon LGBTQ+ allies who wrestle with the church's prohibitive doctrine on same-sex relationships. Their powerful testimonies speak of shame, rejection, and ultimately hope."

Rotten Tomatoes' notes its Pride Hub "will serve as the go-to source for special Pride offerings throughout the month, including an updated curated list of the "Best LGBTQ Movies of All Time," including favorites like "Shiva Baby," "Moonlight," "Carol" and more. The Hub will also feature a list of the best LGBTQ horror movies and an updated roundup of essential LGBTQ TV shows, which provides a comprehensive list of trailblazers in entertainment, shows that center on the LGBTQ experience, series with queer characters and plotlines, and more.

Vudu, Fandango's on-demand streaming service, is hosting "The Best LGBTQ+ Movies of All Time" and "Favorite LGBTQ+ Horror Films," which includes everything from cult classics like "Jennifer's Body" to newer, critically acclaimed releases such as "Titane."

So, to participate in saving democracy and for all things Prideful, you know you really must stay tuned.

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