Now for the news. Britney Griner was wrongfully detained for 294 days. Now she’s home. I’ve been waiting to make the “Brittney is on her way home” video for so long. It just felt like it was never going to come. So often, we don’t have the happy ending. So often we are left with tragedy, go fund me’s, and unsolved cases. But this time is different. This time she came home to her wife. Yes. Yes. Let’s go.

00:00 – Welcome & Intro

01:23 – Queer News Goes Weekly

01:52 – Top Stories This Week 

02:13 – Intro Music by Aina Bre’Yon

02:53 – Cherelle Griner

03:51 – BG Comes Home

05:06 – Lost & Found for Podcasters

05:48 – How We Got Here

09:15 – The Fight to Bring BG Home

09:45 – Bill Richardson

10:06 – Swap Criticisms

12:59 – Anna Has a Word

14:47 – Outro

Things for you to check out

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Our December QCrew exclusive with VDOM founder Glenise

What Is An Oligarch? Here’s What You Need To Know About Russia’s Billionaires

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Family, it’s your favorite queer radio personality Anna DeShawn with our queer news for today. Now, I want to make you a promise. We will continue to bring you the latest in queer news, culture, and politics. So, if you are digging our intersectional take on the weekly, consider joining the QCrew.

The QCrew is our monthly membership program we started to help us grow the podcast. You get weekly emails from me and exclusive interviews with LGBTQ influencers from across the country. With your support, we can bring you more stories celebrating our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & comrade communities. 

This month our exclusive interview for the QCrew is with Glenise. Glenise is the founder of VDOM. VDOM is the latest sex-tech innovation made for and by our community. As a Black queer woman, Glenise was joking with friends about an easier way to strap up with her boo. What if it went from flaccid to erect so we could get it in anytime. Well she settled in on the idea and decided to create it. We talk about her journey and her recent 2nd place win in Pharrell’s Black Ambition Prize contest where she walked away with $250K. 

If you want to watch the exclusive interview, you have to join the QCrew. As always, the link is in the show notes.

Family, Queer News is now a weekly podcast. My goal is to build the team up so we can properly execute a daily pod. Until then, a new episode will drop every Monday by 7 AM Chicago time. If you enjoy what you hear please leave us a review and thank you for being on the Queer News podcast journey with us.

Now for the news. Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained for 294 days. Nearly 10 months and now she’s back on U.S. soil. Let’s talk all about it. Let’s go.

And Cherelle, we were smiling right along with you. In some cases, smiling and crying at the same time. What a Thursday morning it was. Family, my phone started blowing up around 6:50 in the morning here in Chicago. I love y’all so much. Y’all wanted to make sure I knew Brittney was coming home. And it’s funny because this time I didn’t know. I had decided to sleep in and I was on a call at the time so I wasn’t in the typical routine. And if you’re trying to figure out what time I typically get up I am an early riser. I’m at my best in the morning. Typically 5:30am ish on my best days. 

So, to hear from y’all Thursday morning made me so full. I’ve been waiting to make the “Brittney is on her way home” video for so long. It just felt like it was never going to come. So often, we don’t have the happy ending. So often we are left with tragedy, go fund me’s, and unsolved cases. But this time is different. This time she came home to her wife. Yes. Yes.  

Now all this started back in February, February 17th to be exact at the Moscow airport. Let’s revisit the timeline together. 

Feb 17th – She was detained at the Moscow airport when their customs team reported finding vape cartridges filled with THC. We came to find out there was 0.7 grams of THC in the cannabis oil. Yes, less than 1 gram. For some context, here in Chicago you can legally have 5 grams of cannabis concentrate on your person. In LA, it’s 8 grams. In NY, it’s 24 grams. So, you can see why I emphasize the amount because there is no way she had any quote “intent to sale” endeavors in mind. Either way, she was detained. 

Two months later

May 3rd – She was classified as wrongfully detained

Three months later

August 4th – BG is found guilty & sentenced to 9 years in a Russian prison & a $16,000 fine. Now we know they gave her a harsh sentence to put additional pressure on the U.S. government. All we have to do is look at the Audrey Lorber case. She was a 19 year old white woman who was found guilty with 19 grams of THC in 2019. She served approximately two months in jail and received a $235 dollar fine. The glaring differences in these sentences really are laughable. If you can’t see how Brittney is being used as a political pawn after that comparison I can’t help you. The double standard can’t be more obvious. Russia knew what they wanted and they had the leverage to get it. 

Two months later 

October 25th – BG’s appeal is denied 

And then on 

November 2nd – Her lawyers visited

November 3rd – US Embassy officials visit 

November 4th – She was moved to a penal colony without anyone’s knowledge

November 8th – Her lawyers found out she was moved when they went to go for their weekly visit 

November 17th – Her lawyers announced the penal colony BG was assigned too. It’s the female penal colony IK-2 in the Russian region of Mordovia

December 8th – The U.S. told the world that Brittney Griner was on her way home. What a day that was. 

Throughout this process we’ve all learned a lot, right. Some didn’t know how bad the pay equity was in women’s sports. Brittney made $1.5 million dollars to play in Russia where on the other hand she makes $228,000 dollars to play for the Phoenix Mercury. We learned about the Russian Oligarch. The Oligarch’s are a collection of the richest Russian businessmen. A Russian Oligarch owns the women’s team in Russia and for some context his estimated net worth according to Forbes is $5.4 billion dollars. So it’s known that if you’re playing women’s basketball in Russia you are protected, supposedly. You are treated like royalty which goes far beyond the pay they receive. I’ve included a story in the show notes if you want to read more about the Oligarach’s, their wealth & power. 

We signed the initial petition to keep the story in the news cycle. We watched the WNBA honor her throughout the entire season with her number on every court and the players wearing WeAreBG gear. We watched the ratings and awareness of how dope the WNBA is grow so much. My point, we’ve seen and learned a lot over the last ten months. 

Former U.N. Ambassador & former governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson who was key in securing Brittney’s return home had this to say [insert bill audio] . Which leads me to this point around the criticism’s around the swap. There is no even exchange here. We don’t have anyone from Russia in our custody that committed a crime as minor as what Brittney did. None. Putin and the Kremlin saw an opportunity with detaining Brittney and giving her such a harsh sentence was always the point. They’ve wanted Viktor Bout for years and they simply saw an opportunity in BG. This is why we classified her as a political prisoner and as wrongfully detained.  

Now today, we know that BG is back on U.S. soil. We’ve seen the videos and the pictures of the swap, of her getting on and off the plane. The most noticeable change is her hair. Her lawyers said, “It’s very cold in there and every time she washed her hair, she got cold and would get a chill.” Reports say that her locs would turn into icicles after a shower so she decided to just cut them off. The short cut looks good on her too. She landed at the U.S. Army’s Joint Base in San Antonio, Texas and was then taken to the Brooke Army Medical Center. We know that she met her wife, Cherelle, when she arrived. I can only imagine the pure joy of their embrace. She’s expected to undergo an “extensive health evaluation” and be screened for things like anemia, electrolyte imbalances, infections and any injuries sustained while in Russian custody. At Brooke Army Medical Center she will also receive any mental health treatment she needs as well as the reintegration program. The reintegration program is given to any American military or civilian who is captured or wrongfully detained like BG. This reintegration program includes things like Post-isolation Support Activities with the goal of reintroducing society, reintroducing their families while providing decompression time. It also gives the military an opportunity to conserve any intelligence they may have been able to gather to aid in the prosecution of these criminal organizations and in this case the Russian government. They will want to find out what happened to BG during her incarceration; such as, Was there any physical violence? Was there any torture? Was there psychological torture or manipulation?” Once she goes through all these steps she can go home or choose to stay as long as she wants. I’d imagine in these moments you’ll know when you’re ready. We can only assume her next stop will be to see her parents, family & close close friends. As always, we will continue to follow BG’s journey back home and celebrate with her along the way. 

Now let me close with some more good things and a word. The Respect for Marriage Act passed the house in a 258-169-1 vote, one Republican just voted “present.”  and 39 Republicans joined all the Democrats in supporting it. Now it’s off to the President’s desk and hopefully it gets signed this week. Also, Jerrod Carmichael, will host the 80th Annual Golden Globes. I loved his comedy special on Netflix, Carmichael, where he came out and shared his experiences with the world in such a bold and beautiful way. If you haven’t seen it, treat yourself this week okay. Let’s close with a word about hope as we celebrate these wins. The LGBTQ ally & former Archbishop Desmond TuTu had this to say, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” The darkness that was BG’s wrongful detainment. The darkness that is Republican hate against our community. But let me be the one to remind all of us that darkness has nothing on the light. That hate has nothing on love. And that whatever is troubling your spirit you have everything you need inside of you to move through it. Till next week family, peace. 


Brittney Griner live updates: Athlete has reunited with her wife

Timeline of Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia as US secures her release

What Is An Oligarch? Here’s What You Need To Know About Russia’s Billionaires

Brittney Griner Evaluated After Prisoner Swap

Post-Isolation Support Activities

Brittney Griner undergoing prisoner reintegration program in Texas

NBJC Celebrates Jerrod Carmichael Hosting The 80th Golden Globes

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