Family, this is your favorite queer radio personality Anna DeShawn with our queer news for today. If you enjoy what you hear rate & review us inside your fav podcasting app, okay. Now for the news.
So I was done writing my script for the podcast today and took a moment to scroll through social media before starting to record. This is pretty normal for me. I finish a stage of the podcast production process and then I get up, stretch, walk around or take care of CoCo. Well today to my surprise while taking a quick break and scrolling social media I saw a breaking news story about Brittney Griner. It appears late Monday, a State Department official sent ESPN a statement, saying, “The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. With this determination, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner’s release.” What?! It’s been 75 days and her hearing is coming up on May 19th and now this news drops. Don’t go anywhere. Keep it locked & let’s get into it after this quick break.
Well some major changes have taken place in Brittney Griner’s case. The U.S. government is now classifying Brittney’s time in Russia as her being “wrongful detained” by the Russian government and has moved her case into the special envoy’s office. This is a major shift from the narrative that’s been shared to date. The plan has been to keep quiet, allow this to play out in the Russian courts & not to make too much of a fuss in order to keep Putin out of it. Well, this new designation means that the U.S. government is no longer waiting for this to play out in the Russian courts and that they will work on publicly negotiating her return. It means we can bring as much attention to the case as we’d like and according to the ESPN report we have the family’s blessing to do just that.
According to officials and ESPN sources close to the case they are declining to say what has led to the shift and what it would actually take to bring Brittney home. The family is unsure as well. They don’t know why the government has changed its stance but it’s giving some hope especially after the U.S. Marine Trevor Reed was released last week after being detained in Russia since 2019. This showed everyone that even in the face of war there is some diplomatic work being done between the US & Russia. Brittney’s wife Cherelle even posted about it on her Instagram and said, “As I do everything in my power to get BG home, my heart is overflowing with joy for The Reed Family. I do not personally know them, but I do know the pain of having your loved one detained in a foreign country. That level of pain is constant and can only be remedied by a safe return home. For the Reed family, that day is today. Welcome Home Trevor, sending love to you and your family on this special day”. The grace in this statement says so much about her. My my my. Trevor was swapped for a Russian citizen who had been convicted of drug smuggling here in the U.S. Now, who will they swap for BG? What will the negotiations look like?
In another glimmer of hope, Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who for years has worked as a private hostage negotiator and worked to get Trevor released from Russia, is now assigned to Brittney’s case. This is being done per the families request. Experts are saying his involvement is a critical sign that her case has moved into a new stage. Nneka Ogwumike, the president of the WNBA players’ union, said “Having learned that the U.S. government has now determined that BG is being wrongfully detained we are hopeful that their efforts will be significant, swift and successful…It has been 75 days that our friend, teammate, sister, Brittney Griner, has been wrongfully detained in Russia. It is time for her to come home.”
BG is scheduled to have her hearing in Russia on May 19th. This new classification doesn’t stop that process from moving forward or stop her from being detained. What it does mean is that the U.S. considers the hearing & any other legal proceedings to be irrelevant to her case. For which, that alone is saying a whole lot.
In addition, today the WNBA announced that every team in the league will honor Brittney with a floor decal which features BG’s initials and her number, 42. As I previously reported, the league had already laid out plans to honor BG throughout the season by continuing her Heart and Sole Shoe Drive, which all 12 teams in the league are participating, keeping her as an active player so she can receive her full salary & providing salary cap relief for Phoenix so they can have a full roster. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said this, “As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community…We continue to work on bringing Brittney home and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time.”
You all know I will continue to keep you posted as I have no doubt that Brittney’s story will continue to unfold this month. So, let’s close out the podcast with a word about hope cause we need a little bit of that. The former Archbishop Desmond TuTu had this to say, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” This has no doubt been a dark situation so lets continue to hold on to hope that BG will be home soon. Till tomorrow family, peace
U.S. reclassifies WNBA star Brittney Griner as ‘wrongfully detained’ by Russia, sources say