“The 9”. News Curated Weekly. Shawn Barber’s death, Emmy Awards, and the USA are more undemocratic than Vietnam

As usual… 5.5 minutes to read. Your guide to the queer media circus. A weekly digest of the most important queer news in your backyard!  Exclusively for paid subscribers every week, “The 9” is curated weekly by Taylor Abbot and the GAY45 editorial team.

If you want to hear the most important news commented on in-depth, you can listen to our podcast, GenClash: Queer Perspectives on Current Affairs. The first episode is set to be launched on February 15.

This week, Shawn Barber’s tragic death at 29, and then:

Canada. Sport. Shawn Barber dead at 29.

Shawn Barber, the queer Canadian pole-vaulting record holder and 2015 world champion, has died from medical complications at the age of 29. Barber died at his home in Kingwood, Texas, as confirmed by his agent Paul Doyle to The Associated Press. The cause of death is not yet known. Barber had been experiencing health issues. “More than just an incredible athlete, Shawn was such a good-hearted person that always put others ahead of himself,” Doyle said Thursday. “It’s tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age.” Barber was a standout pole vaulter at the University of Akron, where he captured back-to-back NCAA indoor championships in 2014 and 2015. He won the NCAA outdoor crown as well in 2015, before taking gold later that summer at the Pan-Am Games. Barber carried a wave of momentum into worlds that season in Beijing. He took gold over Germany’s Raphael Marcel Holzdeppe. He came out in a 2017 Facebook post, Outsports reports. “Gay and proud,” he wrote. “Thank you to my parents for being such a great support. I continue to grow as a person and have a great support group. My parents are my greatest support and have helped me through a lot recently. To my friends, you are always my friends and I love you too!”

Germany. Politics. Activist Sareh Sedighi-Hamadani Speaks Out After Fleeing Iran

Sareh Sedighi-Hamadani, the Kurdish-Iranian LGBT+ activist who was sentenced to death in Iran, has broken her silence since seeking asylum in Germany in late December 2021. Speaking exclusively via WhatsApp with German Queer Spiegel, Sedighi-Hamadani expressed gratitude for the support received from the 6 Rank group, who helped secure her visa. She highlighted the dire situation for queer individuals in Iran, where same-sex relationships are met with death threats and widespread abuse. Acknowledging the pivotal role played by activists like Sven Lehmann, Sedighi-Hamadani hopes to continue her education and contribute positively to society in Cologne, emphasizing the importance of overcoming a painful past.

USA. Entertainment. Triumphant Celebration of LGBTQ Representation at 75th Primetime Emmy Awards

The 75th Primetime Emmy Awards celebrated LGBTQ representation with significant wins and impactful speeches. RuPaul, host of RuPaul’s Drag Race, marked a historic fifth win for Outstanding Competition Program, emphasizing the importance of knowledge and resistance against anti-drag laws. With 14 Emmy wins, RuPaul made history with an eighth consecutive Creative Emmy Award for Outstanding Host, becoming the most awarded television host in history. Music legend Elton John also achieved EGOT status with an Emmy win for “Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium.” Other notable wins included Niecy Nash-Betts, Ayo Edebiri, and GLAAD receiving the Governors Award for promoting LGBTQ representation in the media. The event showcased the industry’s strides in diversity and inclusion.

Germany. Art. Exploring Queer History: “Love at First Fight!” Exhibition

The exhibition Love at First Fight! Queer Movements in Germany since Stonewall is currently open in Schwules Museumuntil March 4, shedding light on the history of queer emancipation in the country post-World War II. Tracing the journey from the Stonewall riots in 1960s New York to Rosa von Praunheim’s impactful film, the exhibition delves into the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community. Hosted at The Gay Museum, founded in 1985, the venue offers a cultural space showcasing sexual identities and gender concepts. In collaboration with the Goethe Institute and the Federal Agency for Civic Education, the exhibition has been running since 2023. Visitors can explore the rich history of queer movements during the “entrance-free Museum Sunday” from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Germany. Human Rights. Unique Housing Project for Queer Women in Berlin.

Berlin’s Governing Mayor, Kai Wegner (CDU), laid the foundation for an innovative housing project in Mitte, aiming to provide 70 subsidized rental apartments for lesbian and queer women by 2026. The generational housing project, considered unique in Europe, is a collaborative effort between the state-owned housing company WBM Berlin-Mitte and the TrägersRuT Berlin gGmbH. Described as self-determined, non-discriminatory, barrier-free, and affordable, the project seeks to create an inclusive living environment for lesbian and queer women. Speaking at the construction site, Mayor Wegner emphasized the need to make lesbian life more visible in Berlin, praising the city for setting a benchmark in Europe. WBM Berlin-Mitte CEO, Steffen Helbig, outlined the affordability aspect, with half of the apartments receiving specific support, offering entry-level rents at seven euros per square meter. The plans also include five wheelchair-accessible apartments and a shared apartment with eight places for women with care needs. Amid concerns over the housing market, particularly for marginalized groups, critics argue that the project is a response to ongoing discrimination faced by lesbian women, both in housing searches and daily life. With increasing anti-queer attacks in Berlin, the housing initiative aims to provide a non-discriminatory environment for lesbian and queer women, addressing their unique needs and challenges. Berlin remains the most open and supportive city in the world for the queer community, along with Amsterdam.

Russia. Politics. Persecution of queer artists continues.

Amidst a growing wave of persecution against LGBTQ individuals in Russia, queer artists are facing increasing challenges, with many opting for exile to continue their creative expression, writes German outlet DW. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the situation for LGBTQ communities has worsened. In November 2022, the parliament expanded the infamous “gay propaganda law,” extending the ban to positive portrayals of LGBTQ lifestyles in various media. The law equates LGBTQ existence to extremism, and subsequent police raids on LGBTQ gathering places have heightened the atmosphere of fear. Many queer artists, including musician Angel Ulyanov and activist Pyotr Voskresensky, have fled the country to escape threats and censorship. The Russian Supreme Court’s declaration that the international LGBTQ community is part of an “extremist movement” further fueled the persecution. Queer creatives like Gena Marvin, featured in the documentary “Queendom,” use their art to resist oppression, even as they navigate exile in places like Paris. As Russia tightens its grip on traditional values, these artists continue to amplify the voices of the LGBTQ community, albeit from abroad.

Taiwan. Politics. Taiwan’s First Openly Gay Legislator.

In a groundbreaking victory, 30-year-old Huang Jie has become Taiwan’s first openly gay legislator after winning the election in the city’s sixth constituency. Running on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket, Huang secured 51.01% of the vote, defeating her main rival, the Kuomintang’s Chen Mei-ya, and the Formosa Alliance’s Kuo Pei-hung.

Huang, who entered politics in 2018 and gained attention for her iconic eye-roll during a city council session in 2019, expressed gratitude to supporters and pledged to safeguard Kaohsiung’s well-being. Her victory marks a significant milestone for LGBTQ+ representation in Taiwanese politics. Huang’s journey includes leaving the New Power Party in 2020, surviving a recall in 2021, and publicly coming out in April 2023. Despite facing attacks for her sexual orientation, she remains committed to advancing equality in Taiwanese society through her political involvement.

France. Film. Animalia Explores Generational Connections and Fluid Identities in a Fantastical Setting.

French director Thomas Cailley’s fantasy film Animalia captivates audiences with a metaphorical exploration of fluid life forms, relationships, and identity. The story takes place in southwestern French, where the peaceful relationship between a teenager, Émile, and a dog contrasts sharply with the escalating dispute between Émile and his father, François. As a new form of mutation emerges, beloved individuals transform, growing animal limbs and losing capacity for speech. The film weaves a tale of gentle rebellion by Generation Z against the martial proposals of their parents. Cailley, known for his previous work Love at First Stroke, introduces a speculative, body horror fantasy that challenges traditional notions of normalcy. Animalia navigates through monstrous mutations, apocalyptic threats, and a small town’s reactions to the “monstrosts.” The relationship between father and son evolves in their shared resistance to the erupting hunting fever, offering a unique perspective on generational connections, bodies, and genders during Émile’s puberty. The film takes a surprising turn as it questions the violent handling of mutations and introduces a change of perspective that challenges the prejudice-driven redefinition of the concept of chimera. As the characters grapple with tenderness for the new, queer forms of mutations, Animalia unfolds a coexistence fantasy that raises radical questions about living together in a post-human era. Cailley’s film is praised for its complex narrative, touching portrayal of relationships, and gentle exploration of new possibilities in a world beyond the human norm. Animalia invites audiences to consider and be patient with the changes that bring turmoil, offering a thought-provoking and visually stunning cinematic experience.

USA. Politics. More LGBT+ Books Banned than in Vietnam.

A Washington Post analysis of 872 book challenges in 29 states revealed that books featuring “LGBTQ characters, themes, and stories” are banned the most. The study covered challenges from the 2021 to 2022 school year in over 100 school districts. Books about LGBTQ+ lives were 30% more likely to be banned, while those about people of color or addressing race and racism were 20% likelier to survive challenges. Nearly half of all challenged books were eventually returned to library shelves. Librarians faced significant efforts to defend the books, with instances of personal attacks and allegations. The group Moms for Liberty, deemed an extremist anti-LGBTQ organization, played a pivotal role in these challenges.

Recommendations from our favourite newspapers. This week, NYT.

Cook: Treat yourself to buttery steak and potatoes.

Clean: Your reusable water bottle needs a scrub.

Host: Consult a vintage guide to giving a party.

Move: In “clown cardio,” fitness and improv unite to form one wacky workout.

Watch: Big Boys season 2.  A very sweet British teenager series.

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and WordleYou can find all our puzzles here.


Curated every week by our news editor Taylor Abbot & GAY45 editorial staff. Exclusive for subscribers on Monday through Substack and Wednesday on the website.

Previously he studied at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is passionate about journalism, contemporary literature, poetry, technology, socio-political involved art forms and queer implications in society. He wrote previously for several magazines as Bay Area Reporter or Männer. Nerdy curious, passionate about the weird parts of life and the good stories written by great journalists. Taylor decided to delete all his social media accounts two years ago. Lives and works between Berlin and London.

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