Welcome to our summer interview series. This week Anna DeShawn realized she hadn’t talked to any politicians as part of the Summer interview series. So she’s starting with Ken Mejia-Beal. Ken is  a published commentator, a vocal activist for chronic illness for the last 16 years, in 2019 Ken was interviewed by the Smithsonian museum of African American history due to his groundbreaking work in the HIV/AIDS realm. Ken is also the first Black Chair of the Democratic Party of DuPage County, the first chair Under 40, first LGBT Chair, and the first Chair to win the Esteem Award for Man of the Year, 2022. We had a wonderful conversation about being Black & Queer in politics and why it’s so important for us to be represented.

00:00 – Welcome to the Queer News podcast 

00:32 – Join the QCrew for Anna’s 40th Birthday 🥳

2:22 – Top queer news stories 

5:45 – Subscribe to The Head Nod, https://pod.link/1699870161 

8:36 – Subscribe to Rebound Revolution, https://pod.link/reboundrev 

9:09 – Buy an Ad on the Queer News podcast, https://bit.ly/3ohYXAw 

9:41 – Intro Music by Aina Bre’Yon

10:17 – Interview with Ken Mejia-Beal

14:49 – Who is Ken Mejia-Beal

29:25 – Anna’s Got a Word

30:32 – Outro


Follow Ken on Twitter: @KMBFORDUPAGE


More on the Summer Interview Series

The Queer News team is changing it up for the next couple of months so we have a little more time to enjoy the summer, our families, and rest. We hope you enjoy these conversations with some really wonderful queer folks doing good in the world. Those are the stories we want to amplify here on Queer News. 

During the interview series we won’t leave queer news stories on the sidelines either. Anna will provide brief commentary about the top one or two queer news stories happening that we should be following. Not full stories but know we are still closely following the queer news feeds. You can always follow Anna on social media to stay up to date. 


Things for you to check out

Join the QCrew

Watch the Authentic Selves Interview

Watch the Samiya Bashir Interview

Watch the Wyn Starks Interview

Watch the Brandon Wolf Interview

The Qube Tour! Get your Tickets! 

Watch the Replay: UNAPOLOGETIC: Being Black and Queer in Podcasting

Listen & Subscribe to Rebound Revolution

Watch the full interview

Tre’vell Anderson talks Black Trans Life in TV & Film with Anna DeShawn

Order Tre’vell’s Book Today!

Queer News Pride Specials – Get You An Ad Today

Listen to Black HIV in the South: How Did We Get Here?

Listen to More Queer News

The Blog Post by Chat GPT


We will start this episode with a moment of silence for O’Shea Sibley.

Can you use the recording from last week? 

Family, it’s your favorite queer radio personality Anna DeShawn and this is the Queer News summer interview series. Y’all already know I’ve been changing it up for the summer to take a little break from the research and script writing and avoid the dreaded podfade. As you also know we are not forgetting about our top queer news stories. I’ll be sharing a couple of stories you should know before we jump into the interview for the week. 

Before I get into this week’s episode I’ve got to tell you about the QCrew. The QCrew is our queer news community, I started it to help us grow the podcast. You’ll get weekly emails from me which include a recap of top stories and an uncut video from me on the latest happenings with me & queer news. With your monthly support, we can bring you more stories celebrating our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & comrade communities. We have 23 paid subscribers today. Think we can make it to 50 by the end of the year? So, if you are digging our intersectional take on the weekly, consider joining the QCrew.  Thank you so much for your support. If you want to join these beautiful folks and be part of the QCrew click the link in the show notes today. 

Now for a quick glance at the top queer news stories for this week.  

O’Shea Sibley, we speak your name today. I opened the podcast with a chant that could be heard this past week in Brooklyn to honor his life. I honestly thought about this being the whole podcast. Just that chant. Playing it on repeat a few times in honor of O’Shea. The way they took his life was disgusting and heartless. Now, for those who may not have heard, O’Shea Sibley was a 28-year old Black gay man who was murdered at a gas station in Brooklyn for vogueing Quite literally. Him and his friends were dancing to Beyonce’s Rennaisance when a group of Muslim men approached them yelling and spewing homophobic slurs. A 17-year in that group stabbed O’Shea and he was pronounced dead at the hospital. His community organized a rally and ball at the gas station where he was killed. Folks spoke, prayed, and then somebody scattered rose petals on the sidewalk. And then people began to dance. The 17-year turned himself in but I want to make it very clear that the whole group that day killed O’Shea. The whole group of men. I also have to say all this anti-LGBTQ rhetoric happening right now is also to blame. Shame on all of them. 

Josiah “Jonty” Robinson, we speak your name today. A Black gay man who was found murdered on the beach in Grenada, the place he was from. He was loved. He was accepted by his family. He had the courage to not only come out but pursue his love for music in spite of the homophobic policies. In spite of the homophobia. I didn’t  hear about his story until I saw a headline that Tyler Perry was offering a $100,000 dollar reward for answers about his murder. From my research I can tell Jonty embodied courage and his music was good. He lived his life unapologetically and may we all have a mustard seed of his courage. May those that love him find some peace. 

Family, y’all know I rarely lead or end with sad news but this week. This week it is what it is. I’m sad. My heart hurts for their families and for the families that don’t make the headlines. But I’m not dropping the mic and walking away. I want to really lead us into this beautiful conversation that was had this week in Atlanta at the Saving Ourselves Symposium (SOS) conference organized by the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC). I’m so grateful for SOS and for SAC because I was awarded a full scholarship to attend. I’m not a HIV worker and I don’t live in the South but HIV/AIDS is my problem to. It’s yours too. They are doing God’s work and I hope to spread their good work with the platforms I’ve built. So go donate to them today. A link is in the show notes. The  conversation I’m sharing is actually the Friday morning plenary that took place at the conference. It’s titled Black LGBTQ+ Representation in Entertainment moderated by Victor Jackson featuring Asiahn, Dyllon Burnside & Nicco Annan. I’m not giving the whole conversation but the second half which leads into the Q&A. I hope in the face of even the news I reported on today that you find hope in this conversation that we are still moving forward. That we are not going back into the closet. That we are not going anywhere. So stay close because after this quick break we’ll be back with this really dope conversation. 

I hope y’all enjoyed that conversation. 

Now, let us close out with a word. During the conference there was a pretty divine moment that took place. The founder of the Saving Ourselves Symposium Marvell Terry moderated the Saturday morning plenary called “We Built What We Didn’t See”. The panel was powerful and at the end Marvell did something I’ve never seen before. He washed the feet of the leaders on the panel and invited “granny” to join them. A 75 year old trans woman who exudes love and joy. Music played and he did something so sacred. Something so divine and I was there to bear witness. In that spirit and in the spirit of building what we do not see I want to leave you with the lyrics from Wyn Starks song Who I Am. Go download it today, link is in the show notes. But Why says this, 

Pardon my imposition

But this is my conviction

I need to get this off my mind

I gotta be me, gotta be I

Gotta be who I know I am inside

Can finally breathe, taking it in

Look at me flying!

It’s always been there, it just took me a minute to find it

If I were to be anybody else, I’d just be hiding

Who I am

Who I am

Till next week, peace.

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