In This Episode
- President Biden announced a new $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that will be primarily funded through heightened IRS efforts to reduce tax evasion by corporations and the wealthy. Human infrastructure spending, which covers things like childcare, education, and clean energy, is missing from the deal and would need to be part of a second bill passed through reconciliation without Republican support.
- Pride events this weekend in cities like New York, Denver, and Seattle have banned out LGBTQ police officers from participating in marches if they’re in uniform. We spoke with Chris Roney, an organizer of the Queer Liberation Movement, about the history of police resistance in the queer community and what’s motivating people to ban cops at pride.
- Plus, we’re joined for headlines by special guest Margaret Cho: New York suspends Giuliani’s law license, EU leaders condemn anti-queer Hungarian bill, and chaos at a Redneck Rave.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Friday, June 25th, I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, where we are preparing ourselves for live concerts by standing in one spot for three hours and bouncing up and down every few minutes.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. I mean, it’s, you know, kind of depending on what concerns you go to, I’m usually moving around a little bit more than that.
Gideon Resnick: I only attend live performances of ambient music to do homework to.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, there’s Lo-Fi beats do slap. On today’s show, why some Pride marches this weekend have banned LGBTQ police officers from participating if they’re in uniform, then we’ll have headlines with a special guest, Margaret Cho.
Gideon Resnick: But first, a quick update here. We are following the story of a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, Florida, just north of Miami Beach. So part of the 12-story building gave way early Thursday morning while most residents inside were asleep. As of our reporting yesterday night, officials confirmed at least one death with 99 people unaccounted for. And the cause of the collapse is not yet known at this point. We’re going to have a link in our show notes so you can catch up on the story.
Akilah Hughes: And now to the latest out of D.C. on infrastructure:
[clip of President Biden] We had a really good meeting, and in answer of your direct question, we a deal. And I think it’s really important. We’ve all agreed that none of us got what we all, what we wanted. I clearly didn’t get all I wanted. They gave more than I think maybe they were inclined to give in the first place. But this reminds me of the days we used to get an awful lot done up in the United States Congress.
Akilah Hughes: Wow. So it is always infrastructure week. We are just in a Groundhog’s Day of infrastructure week. OK, so this announcement by President Biden yesterday is coming after months of negotiating—a sort of performative circus of bipartisanship, pitches, counter pitches, et cetera. So what’s actually in the deal?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, before we go there, I just think “none of us got all that we wanted”—incredible for the administration.
Akilah Hughes: The country as well. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Yes. And the time that we live in. Dear Lord. OK, so this bipartisan package significantly whittles down what Biden first proposed, which had a $2.2 trillion price tag over eight years. This one is just about 1.2 trillion instead and has some of the following: there’s about 115 billion, with a B, for public transit and rail projects, about 109 billion for roads and bridges, 65 billion for more broadband infrastructure, 73 billion for improvements to power grids, et cetera, et cetera, and so forth.
Akilah Hughes: All right. So we know that there’s a catch here. What ended up getting stripped during the negotiations?
Gideon Resnick: Well, for one thing, some of the ways that this would actually get paid for. So the Trump administration tax cuts are not getting rolled back in this. And the promised tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations are not in this either. One of the major funding avenues is apparently going to be through more IRS enforcement, which is supposed to crack down on evasion by big companies and names like Jeff Bezos that we all know and love. And then more importantly, what’s missing in the deal so far is what had been referred to as, quote unquote “human infrastructure spending.” No, we are not being turned into roads and bridges just yet, that is for later date. This is for things like child care, education, some of the bigger climate priorities that the original Biden plan had. For example, things like a national, quote unquote “clean electricity standard” for power companies or major tax incentives on clean energy. The idea as it stands right now, though, is that those are going to go into a second bill that is passed through reconciliation without needing Republican support. Again, it really does just feel like we’re going in circles.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, like why do we, why do we do this over and over again? Just get what we want. All right. Well, that’s the bipartisan deal. But is it a done deal yet, Gideon, and what’s the word on how that second bill might go?
Gideon Resnick: I don’t know. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are saying that they’re going to try to do both of these bills in tandem. They seem to think that’s, you know, the best for everybody involved. Biden basically said as much too, threatening to not sign the bipartisan deal if something else doesn’t go through as well, namely this other bill with the other priorities—which, by the way, led some Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham to say they were mad, which makes you scratch your head about negotiating yet again.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, like, why, if they’re always going to stay mad then, like, let’s just get what we want out of it. [laughs] I don’t really understand who we’re placating.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that is the dependent variable in this science experiment. So as you mentioned before, too, there was a well-deserved revolt among some Democrats about voting for anything that doesn’t address the fact that the planet is at extinction risk. Some had begun saying the very same thing about any sort of reconciliation deal that could emerge here. And if anybody listening needs another reason why there are no other options, it is supposed to be around 110 degrees in Portland, Oregon, this weekend, a place where many people do not have air conditioning. So we are living through a planet effectively on fire right this very minute. Turning now to Pride Month. It wraps up this weekend with some cities around the world throwing big celebrations and marches tomorrow and Sunday. But Akilah, some people are not invited to those parties.
Akilah Hughes: Yes. So out LGBTQ police officers are who you are referring to. This year, organizers in cities like New York, Denver and Seattle have banned out and proud cops from participating in events and exhibitions if they’re in uniform. The reasoning touches on the history of violence by police against LGBTQ people, and trying to show solidarity with BIPACs who are protesting police violence today. So to tell us more, we have with us journalist Chris Roney. He wrote the InStyle article, “In Honor of Pride, Let’s Put Our Privilege to Work for Black Lives Matter.” Plus, he’s helped to organize an alternative Pride march in New York City that already excluded uniformed officers called the Queer Liberation March. Chris, welcome to WAD?
Chris Roney: Thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be on the podcast that’s on every great playlist at Pride events. I did my homework.
Akilah Hughes: Wow. Thank you so, so much. Many of the decisions about banning uniform police participation started happening in May, as you know, and the arguments in different cities can be tied to the Black Lives Matter protests of last year and Pride last year. So can you explain more about what those arguments are?
Chris Roney: I think when we were looking at queer organizations and we were looking at who is actually out in the streets with us after the death, the murder of George Floyd, who’s actually showing up for our community when it’s not June and who actually understands our community as more than the corporate interests of white queer men, especially. I want to organize around all people. I want to be in solidarity with all movements. I don’t want to just show up for myself. How can we be in solidarity with our neighbors? How can we be better neighbors to not only queer people, but how can we be better in solidarity with other movements? Our march, for example, has been in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, you know, organizing together, but then also working, you know, to get people vaccinated, to have larger conversations around access, and health care, and housing, and food insecurity.
Gideon Resnick: And you alluded to sort of the historical side of this, but, you know, from raids on queer clubs to laws like stop and frisk, police have had this long track record of targeting and criminalizing queer and trans people across the United States and the world. Can you tell us more about that history with some examples?
Chris Roney: So when we talk, at least in the past year, Walking While Trans was a giant effort last year to eradicate that here in New York City. But even looking back to stop and frisk, talking about, you know, when we are penalizing people for loitering, trans women, you know, cannot exist in the street with three condoms in their pocket and not be arrested. We see how a police presence at our pride events, but just in general, in our queer spaces, over the course of the last 50, 60 years and onward, has always been at the detriment of queer people of color, of people of color, especially trans women. And so that’s why it’s been so heartening to see our march and our organization center the experiences of queer people of color specifically, and prioritize their safety, because it’s not a grace that we see extended in this predominantly white cis gay male spaces, or we haven’t historically.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and have relations between police departments and the LGBT community writ large, evolved or changed at all over time? And if so, how?
Chris Roney: It interesting. I think we’ve seen some symbolic victories. We obviously have seen historically, you know, at the corporate Pride we see GOAL, the Gay Officers Action League, you know, walking in those parades. We see videos of, you know, gay officers, straight officers, dancing, and then people, their hearts are warmed but we have also noticed that GOAL, when push comes to shove, does not show up for queer people of color in any of these conversations. We don’t see real change coming out of police departments in the way they actually deal with and respect the dignity of queer people of color. And that’s really a change that we just have not seen beyond those viral moments and kind of more symbolic victories.
Akilah Hughes: So in New York, you know, officers won’t just be barred from the Sunday’s march, but from future events all the way up to 2025. And in response the Gay Officers Action League said in a statement that it was, quote “disheartened by the decision to ban our group from participating in New York City Pride.” The group also said that the March organizers, quote “abrupt about face in order to placate some of the activists in our community is shameful.” How do you feel about responses like that?
Chris Roney: I feel what’s shameful is not showing up for all queer people. I think something I’ve noticed as an organizer is, you know, a lot of white queer people, if I can speak openly, are always white before they’re queer. They’re not in solidarity with queer people of color. We’ve seen so many, you know, we’ve seen COVID-19 act as kind of an accelerator for so many social mores, be it housing insecurity in the Bronx. We’ve seen just so much to organize and activate around. And that has fallen on deaf ears with so many queer organizations, it’s really kind of separated the wheat from the chaff. Who is actually showing up for all of our community and those who need it the most, and who is showing up for a fat paycheck from, you know, a vodka brand or, you know, a Chase bank?
Akilah Hughes: Right.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Any affiliation with Chase, we’re, we’re raising our collective eyebrows? [laughs]
Akilah Hughes: Yeah.
Gideon Resnick: So beyond this particular issue with LGBTQ cops participating in Pride, there’s been a long-running tension about those events themselves. We were talking a bit about this, but can you talk about that tension over what Pride actually represents and who it should include? I feel like that’s sort of the broad conversation that we are having.
Chris Roney: The history of Pride, you know, is, is radical. You know, it was a protest. You know, it stood for actual human rights, material reality changes for queer people. It’s become so sanitized over the years, and so many of the organizers that created Reclaim Pride Coalition, which puts on Pre-liberation March, do come from like those old ways, they come from Act Up. They actually come from Heritage of Pride. They were the separatists who said we have strayed so far from their original mission of showing up for our community en masse, that you know, we don’t want to take part in this anymore. We want to actually center the experiences of those in our community who need centering right now. Because the fight is not over. The fight did not end after a very Obergefell v. Hodges. It continues for so many folks. It continues this month. We see so many anti trans bills. We see, you know, the proliferation of assaults and violence against Black trans women. There is no lack of things to show up for today. And, you know, it’s not over. We need way more than a Macy’s Day Parade.
Akilah Hughes: You know, they already have the Macy’s parade. Why do they need another one? [laughs] You know? Let’s, let’s start making people’s lives better. Well, we really appreciate you taking the time to talk, Chris. Thank you so much.
Chris Roney: Absolutely. Thank you.
Akilah Hughes: And in our show notes, we’ll link to Chris’s article and info about the queer liberation march that he helped organize so you can learn more too. Have an amazing and safe Pride this weekend, WAD squad. And if you missed yesterday’s Lovett Or Leave It extravaganza Out of the Closets, Into the Streets, check it out at Crooked.com/pride. And that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads with headlines and Margaret Cho.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Akilah Hughes: Today, we’ve got a very special guest with us. I am psyched. it is comedian, actress and musician, Margaret Cho. Margaret, we could not be more honored to have you on headlines.
Margaret Cho Thank you so much. I’m so excited. This is great.
Akilah Hughes: This is going to be the best. All right. Gideon kick us off.
Margaret Cho All right. America’s courtrooms just got significantly drier because former New York City Mayor, Trump lawyer, and wet-headed man-about-town Rudy Giuliani’s law license was suspended yesterday for falsely claiming that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. The state court pointed to the capital riots as a direct result of Giuliani’s false statements, which eroded the public’s trust in elections and the government. Giuliani crossed the line from funny voting machine conspiracies into voting machine conspiracies that provoked mass violence, which is something you learn not to do in law school. It’s like one of the first things they say. Trump railed against yesterday’s decision and described Giuliani as, quote “one of the greatest crime fighters our country has ever known” indicating a total lack of familiarity with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Giuliani will fight the suspension in disciplinary hearings on the grounds that he is not a danger to the public interest.
Margaret Cho Only a danger to Four Seasons Landscaping.
Gideon Resnick: [laughs] Yes.
Margaret Cho Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is celebrating Pride in a way toxic males are extremely skilled at: being afraid of gay people. Orban’s right-wing government passed a law last week that makes it illegal to feature same sex couples in educational materials or TV shows for people under 18. Presumably, it’s based on the idea that kids will only have gay crushes if they get the idea from Kimmy Schmidt’s roommate. Yesterday, EU leaders from 17 countries published a letter condemning laws like Hungary’s. That was ahead of a summit in Brussels, where members of the EU were expected to confront Orban over the law, hopefully by having him arrested by hot fake cop who’s clothes are flying off at high speed.
Akilah Hughes: Oooh. I mean, honestly, if that’s what the police wear, maybe people would be happier with them. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: It’s the best way to go.
Akilah Hughes: Change your line.
Margaret Cho Yes.
Akilah Hughes: I mean, I hope so. All right. Well, if you want a preview of what music festivals will look like once the sun burns out and our society goes full Mad Max look no further than Kentucky’s Redneck Rave. [laughs] Oh God. The event was held earlier this month and led to 48 people being charged by police for common offenses like drug possession, as well as—content warning—one incidence of throat slashing. Jeez. The lineup consisted mostly of people playing country rap or crap, I guess. It’s a genre of music we need to keep the CIA from finding out about so it doesn’t become part of the enhanced interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. Police officers in Kentucky’s Edmonson County said that they knew they were in for a rough weekend when they found meth, weed, open alcohol containers, and a person with two active warrants in the FIRST CAR car that they pulled over at a traffic stop. [laughter] It gets worse from there, I guess. The Redneck Rave organizers said the reports of chaos at their event will only make people buy tickets to their next one in October—who are they talking about? And which time, I’ll be in a secure location with a panic room 100 miles underground.
Margaret Cho That’s a scary—one time I accidentally went to a Leonard Skittered Kid Rock show, and in the audience I saw seven people bleeding, but they were all bleeding from different areas, and some were bleeding from the mouth, some were from the eyes, some were bleeding internally.
Akilah Hughes: You could just tell. That you could just tell. [laughs]
Margaret Cho I could just tell. In a stirring tale of the resilience of the cow spirit, at least 34 cows banded together this week to escape an L.A. slaughterhouse, stampede through a suburban neighborhood, and essentially do a Pixar movie in real life. The cows cut through yards and spent some time loitering in front of someone’s garage, indicating they were cow teenagers. Sadly, one person was injured and a cow was shot by police because he allegedly was about to run over a baby. It took the sheriff’s department about two hours to move the cows into trailers, at which point they were delivered back to the slaughterhouse where they hopefully know about some secret tunnel that’s exactly the size of a cow.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, wow.
Gideon Resnick: Depressing.
Akilah Hughes: I mean, I love, I love them, and I’m sorry for them. And I don’t believe a cow would run over a baby. That seems fake.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. I mean, it’s just it’s, it’s really sad, but it is like, you know, we’re so removed from the reality of meat and dairy, you know, and, you know, they’re sentient beings. And it’s very, it’s very sad. And they’ve got to know when they’re in slaughterhouse that their, you know, what’s happening.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, they know that’s what’s next. I mean, Gideon and I were saying earlier, you know, like if they get out, they should be allowed to stay out, I think!
Gideon Resnick: If you’re out, you’re out, man.
Akilah Hughes: Like, that should be the rule. You can’t just bring them back in. It’s not right.
Margaret Cho Yeah, it’s so sad. But, you know, at least they had that momentary breath of freedom.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. I mean, truthfully, that’s what we all want. And good for them. Margaret, you are incredible. Is there anything that you would like to plug?
Margaret Cho Yes, I have a movie out today on Netflix. It’s called “Good on Paper.” It was number three in the country, or not—I guess the three in the country, three in the, three in the Netflix, it’s number three—
Akilah Hughes: Universe. You are taking over. That’s huge.
Margaret Cho —in the Netflix numbers. So it’s very exciting. So it’s a, it’s a great comedy. And so, yes, I’m in that.
Gideon Resnick: That is awesome.
Akilah Hughes: Oh, well congratulations. Everybody go check that out this weekend. I’m hype about it. This is great. Thank you so much for being here.
Margaret Cho Thank you.
Gideon Resnick: Thank you, Margaret.
Margaret Cho Thank you.
Akilah Hughes: And those are the headlines.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, keep country rap a secret, and tell your friends to listen.
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just spec scripts for cow prison break movies like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe.
Gideon Resnick: And I will see you all after the July 4th weekend. They’re going to be nicer and smarter people taking my place. So have fun. Goodbye.
Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Oh, my God, I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And keep practicing for concerts!
Akilah Hughes: You know, I think if you just bent your knees and moved your hips a little bit, you would, you would hear the music better even.
Gideon Resnick: You should uh, practice what it feels like to be very thirsty. That will help you.
Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.