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Understand the LGBTQIA+ news: Qatar World Cup, Trans Awareness Week and the Grammys

Understand the LGBTQIA+ news: Qatar World Cup, Trans Awareness Week and the Grammys

Matilda Davies
QueerAF, Matilda Davies

Every Saturday, QueerAF helps you understand the queer headlines and stay on top of the latest LGBTQIA+ content - all while we support queer creatives. It's written by me, Matilda Davies, while Jamie takes a well-deserved break - and different queer creative each week.

💬 This week:

  • Qatar World Cup. Joe Lycett called out David Beckham for his involvement with the World Cup.
  • The Grammys. Nominations for the biggest award in music are here - and it’s a celebration of diverse queer talent.
  • Trans Awareness Week. We often hear about ‘raising awareness’ for trans issues. But in Tristan Smith’s Queer Gaze, he explains why that misses the point.

Skip the doom scrolling and support queer creatives instead. We are QueerAFand so are you.

⚽ Joe Lycett and David Beckham: The queer issues behind the Qatar World Cup

TL;DR: Bisexual comedian (and icon) Joe Lycett took to Instagram to call out footballer David Beckham for signing on as an ambassador for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which has an abhorrent LGBTQIA+ rights record.

In a video which has been viewed over a million times, Lycett commended Beckham’s “status as a gay icon” owing to him being the first premiership footballer to do a photoshoot with LGBTQIA+ publication Attitude and his history of speaking openly to and about his gay fans.

In response to Beckham reportedly taking a £10 million deal to be an ambassador for the World Cup, Lycett told his followers he would donate £10,000 to charities supporting queer people in football if Beckham backed out of the deal by midday this Sunday. Otherwise, he would shred the cash. - Joe Lycett

In a follow-up post, Lycett shared a screenshot of an email to Beckham’s PR, saying: “I really don’t want to shred ten grand!!! I also really don’t want a national treasure […] to publicly endorse and advertise a nation state that has an appalling human rights record and has the death penalty for gays - call me old fashioned!!!” - Joe Lycett

He’s also circulating the hashtag #BendersLikeBeckham, and has created a website with the same name counting down to the deadline - Benders Like Beckham

The issue with Qatar

The backlash against Qatar hosting the World Cup is predominantly because of its anti-gay laws. Article 285 of the nation’s penal code bans same-sex sexual activity for men and women, holding a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment.

It also has laws against seducing a male to commit sodomy, inducing people to commit “illegal or immoral actions” and allowing Qatari forces to detain people without charge or trial if they have “well-founded reasons” to believe a crime has been committed. - PinkNews

As a result, Qatari forces have reportedly arrested and abused LGBTQ+ people arbitrarily with documented cases including beatings, sexual harassment in police custody and unlawful searches - Human Rights Watch

The World Cup

Last week, 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman called homosexuality as “damage in the mind” - Human Rights Watch

Ministers in the UK government have been advised to include a warning for LGBTQIA+ football fans in its travel advice for Qatar - BBC

A recent survey found that six in 10 Brits oppose Qatar hosting the World Cup because of its homophobic laws - Guardian

FIFA has held meetings with LGBTQIA+ organisations ahead of the event, but a founder of queer rights organisation Ahwaa, said it was a “Band-Aid” over Qatar’s treatment of LGBTQIA+ citizens - iNews


Qatar’s human rights record speaks for itself. On top of its treatment of queer people, Qatar also has laws that mean victims of sexual assault can be punished for extramarital sex, and 6,500 migrant workers have reportedly died in the country since it was awarded its hosting duties.

Support from big names like Joe Lycett is vital for bringing public attention to these issues, and calling for support from David Beckham.

Spice girl Melanie C, Dua Lipa, Rod Stewaart and journalist Ian Hislop have all also used their platforms to shed light on the issues.

Speaking out against human rights abuses worldwide is vitally important. We thank Joe for consistently using his platform for good - may many more follow your lead.

Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay,queer,disabled I started QueerAF to fund queer media careers. Will you join our movement?

🐤 Why did it trend

Skip the doomscrolling. We tell you what happened in as few words as possible so you're in the know – without giving hate more clicks.
  • Voldemort returns: Despite many Harry Potter franchise stars distancing themselves from JK Rowling because of her online transphobia, Ralph Fiennes said he’d still be interested in reviving his role as Voldemort - Variety

Quick news for queers

⚧️ Trans Awareness Week

Every year from 13 to 19 November, the world comes together to celebrate trans lives for Transgender Awareness Week. It culminates with Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and MP Nadia Whittome made powerful statements on Twitter calling for equality and solidarity

But a statement from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was accused of gaslighting for encouraging people to learn more about the Equality Act - PinkNews

Trans businesswoman Antonia Belcher OBE spoke out about the issues facing the trans community globally - Gay Times

But the NHS is still failing trans people, a new study has found - PinkNews

🎤 Gay Grammys

The Recording Academy announced the list of nominees for the 2023 Grammys on Tuesday, and it’s a perfect showcase of queer talent at its finest.

Lesbian icon Brandi Carlile got a whopping seven nominations, for her songs “Broken Horses” and “You and Me on the Rock” and her album In These Silent Days - Gay Times

Bisexual “Bad Habit” singer Steve Lacy received four nominations, for Record and Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Progressive R&B Album - Them

In less iconic news, notorious transphobe Dave Chapelle and alleged abuser Louis CK both received nominations for best Comedy Album - Chortle

The full list includes other queer (and queer-friendly) artists, including Lizzo, ABBA, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift and Måneskin - Grammy Awards

🎄 Candace Cameron Bure

Long-term star of Hallmark’s Christmas films Candace Cameron Bure caused a stir when she decided to leave the network for one that “will keep traditional marriage at its core”.

In a now infamous interview, Full House star Candace Cameron Bure explained her departure from Hallmark to create her own channel, Great American Family. When asked if it would show LGBTQIA+ love stories, she responded: “Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at its core.” - Wall Street Journal

Naturally, many celebrities called her out for her comments, including Jojo Siwa, her Full House costar Jodie Sweetin, Dance Moms star Maddie Zieglar and Charmed’s Alyssa Milano - People

Influencer Matt Bernstein expertly summarised that “there’s nothing ‘trendy’ or ‘untraditional’ about queer people or queer marriage” - Matt Bernstein

Bure responded to the backlash in a statement blaming the media for “seeking to divide us” and saying she didn’t “want to offend and hurt anyone” - LA Times

📰 In brief

  • Dylan Mulvaney: Trans TikToker Dylan Mulvaney clapped back at Caitlin Jenner, after she was called an “absurdity” by the former Woman of the Year - PinkNews
  • Julia Fox: Uncut Gems actress Julia Fox sent the internet in a tailspin by saying she wants to explore her “gay bone” - Glamour
  • Queer Eye: Antoni Porowski, Queer Eye’s food expert, announced his engagement to his partner Kevin Harrington in an Instagram post - OK!
  • Cycling: British Cycling issued an update on its transgender and non-binary participation policy, emphasising its commitment to ensuring trans people are “welcomed, supported and celebrated in the cycling community” - British Cycling

Must reads

Listening to Qatari voices

For people in the UK, it can be difficult to understand what it’s like to be LGBTQIA+ in a nation like Qatar. We need to listen to queer Qataris and lift up their voices.The reality for LGBTQ+ people in Qatar - TIME

This Is the Reality of Life for LGBTQ+ People in Qatar
TIME speaks to Dr. Naser Mohamed, the only Qatari to publicly come out as gay, ahead of the World Cup.

Why some LGBTQ+ Qataris don’t want Westerners protesting - Newsweek

Why some LGBT Qataris don’t want Westerners protesting for their rights
The warning comes after LGBT activist Peter Tatchell staged a one-man protest in Qatar where same-sex relations are illegal,

Transgender Awareness Week

My first smear test after coming out as a trans man - Metro

I was scared to get my first smear test after coming out as a trans man
Not everyone with a cervix is a woman, and not everyone who’s a woman has a cervix - this is an important distinction.

Non-binary icons ALOK and Brigette Lundy-Paine share their thoughts and experiences - Them

Are We Past “Passing”? The Future of Gender Play
Poet and performer ALOK joins actor Brigette Lundy-Paine in discussing unruly expression auditioning while nonbinary.

The best part of being transgender - Independent

Opinion: This is the best part of being transgender
When I think of the last year, of my favourite moments and my proudest achievements, being trans has nothing to do with them

Condé Nast talent coordinator Sofia Reyes on being trans and working in media - Condé Nast

#WeAreCondeNast: Sofia Reyes
“There is still a lot to do to guarantee the quality of life and human rights for trans individuals.”

Queer Gaze: It’s time to talk about cisgender entitlement to transmasculine bodies and lives

Our landmark scheme for underrepresented or emerging creatives to share their gaze and get a writing skills session. This week, it's Tristan Smith.

This Trans Awareness Week, I’ve been thinking about entitlement.

It’s often claimed that trans men and transmasculine people are invisible in society, and that more awareness will fix our problems.

I’m not so sure.

Because it’s not trans people we need to raise awareness of. It’s cisgender entitlement to transmasculine bodies and transmasculine lives.

Every time a phrase like “people who menstruate” (or, to use a recent example, “a man or woman whose periods have stopped”) is used, committed anti-trans activists and hobbyist transphobes alike kick up a fuss.

Anti-trans attitudes and policies present trans men and transmasculine people – particularly those early in our transitions – as the property of our cisgender parents, and of a cis-normative society which seeks to control us.

In order to legally and medically transition in the UK, cisgender people have to decide whether we should be allowed to do so. And testosterone is a controlled substance, leaving us with no reasonable or safe alternative to letting cis people make decisions about our bodies.

I can’t count the times I’ve been asked inappropriate and invasive questions, or had my body grabbed by cisgender people, both men and women.

And simply discussing the gender identity of AFAB historical figures (or even fictional characters) is seen as an insult to women. It’s as if we’re taking something away from them.

What do all of these things have in common?

It’s not trans invisibility. It's cis entitlement.

It’s cis society trying to stop trans men and transmasculine people from stepping outside of the box that we were shoved into at birth. And it’s cis society punishing the ones who manage it anyway.

We’re treated as possessions, not people.

Just like sexual objectification strips away people’s humanity, this possessive objectification dehumanises us.

So where do we go from here?

Trans people and allies can usually recognise overt transphobia in misgendering. In bathroom bills. In attempts to ban trans healthcare.

Conversations are happening about transmisogyny and exorsexism as specific forms of transphobia, with varying degrees of understanding. Discussion around trans men’s and transmasculine people’s oppression is developing too, as is the language we use to describe it.

But whatever term is used for that oppression, cisgender entitlement to transmasculine bodies and lives is a significant part of the issues we face.

Becoming aware of transphobia in all its forms is the first step in standing up to and dismantling it. That’s the type of awareness we need, this week and every other week.

Tickle Your Queer Senses

📚 Books

In honour of Trans Awareness Week, Autostraddle has curated a list of eight romance novels written by trans authors with trans central characters - Autostraddle

🎧 Music

Drag Race UK queen Black Peppa dropped her first single ‘Why is she calling?’ on Friday, and we can’t get enough - Black Peppa

Black Peppa: ‘I can be crazy, but I also have a great story to tell’
The Drag Race UK finalist discusses conversion therapy, Birmingham’s queer scene, and her debut single, Why Is She Calling?

📖 Comics

Superman’s son came out as bisexual back in November. The latest issue of Superman: Son of Kal-El sees the superhero discover his son’s new relationship with Jay Nakamura. Clark Kent’s emotional, unconditional acceptance of his son is a must read - Attitude

🗓️ What's On?

For Transgender Day of Remembrance tomorrow (20 November), there are vigils happening across the country to remember all the trans people we’ve lost in the last year, and beyond. There are events in Manchester, Norwich, Bristol, Liverpool, Plymouth, Northampton, Nottingham, Reading and London.

Follow and tag us on social media to let us know your fave queer content and events. Twitter: @WeAreQueerAF | Instagram: @WeAreQueerAF_ | LinkedIn @QueerAF

Enjoy QueerAF? 🌈

In pride,

Matilda Davies - QueerAF Contributor

Queer Creative Credits: Thanks to Rowan Gavin for this week's sub-edit and to Aphra Luchesca for their Queer Gaze.