Now Queer This

In 2006 I created, produced and launched “Now Queer This” on KRCL.  The purpose was the explore the fringe of LGBT culture and politics.  The show was a pre-produced 30 minute weekly series.  We mixed local news, community activism, academic theory and “queercore” punk music.  It was at times a bit rowdy for our Utah midday time-slot, but I’ve always felt it was important to push boundaries.

The series was also the birthplace of Sister Dottie S. Dixon, whose popularity eventually led to her own weekly spin off series, and later her own one (wo)man theatrical show.

NQT ran for over two years. The series allowed me the opportunity to experiment with the medium of radio, expose listeners to non-traditional ideas, and to provide Utah’s fringe cultures a platform to express themselves in broadcast media.

Radio for those on the fringe
KRCL offers a different view with the new ‘Now Queer This!’

By Brandon Griggs
The Salt Lake Tribune

March 27, 2006

Ryan Galbraith, Salt Lake Tribune

If you tuned into Salt Lake City’s KRCL (90.9 FM) Wednesday afternoon, you heard gay-themed news bites, rock by feminist punk band Le Tigre, a definition of “queer theory” and a spoken-word rant about the high-profile murders of Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena.

The occasion was the debut of “Now Queer This!” It’s a weekly radio program devoted to the more radical, politicized elements of gay and lesbian culture. The 30-minute show will be heard every Wednesday at 1 p.m. on KRCL, the community radio station that has long given voice to Utah’s minority populations.

“This is not a gay and lesbian show. It’s a queer show. There’s an important difference,” says producer Troy Williams, a fast-talking provocateur in scruffy jeans and a YBU T-shirt. To Williams, the term “queer” recognizes that human sexuality is too complex to be reduced to such labels as gay, lesbian, transgendered or whatever. “It’s all about transcending boundaries.”

“Now Queer This!” is by no means the first gay-centric radio program on Utah’s airwaves. KRCL launched one of the first such radio shows in the nation in 1980 and later ran “Concerning Gays and Lesbians” for more than two decades. But the new show is the first in Utah to embrace the edgier, younger-skewing “queer” sensibility, which has reclaimed a derogatory word as a symbol of defiance and pride.

Queer theory proposes that one’s sexual identity is not merely innate but is at least partly socially constructed. It also challenges the way society categorizes groups of people according to habits or lifestyle. Classes in queer theory are now taught on many college campuses, and the term “queer” has moved into the mainstream with such TV shows as “Queer as Folk” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

“The mission of the show is to celebrate that which is eccentric and exceptional,” says Williams, who grew up Mormon in Oregon before leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and coming out as a gay man. Williams believes the term “queer” encompasses anyone on the fringes of mainstream society.

“You don’t have to be gay to be queer,” he says. “I hope that on the radio we can create space for all kinds of views.”

Williams, a paid KRCL staffer, produces “Now Queer This!” with a handful of volunteers. In addition to news, music by gay artists and commentary, the prerecorded program also features satire. Wednesday’s inaugural show included a bit by “Sister Dottie S. Dixon,” a confused Mormon from Spanish Fork who is trying to reconcile her religious views with her love for her gay son.

The program thus far has a provocative political tone that Williams hopes will help mobilize Utah’s gay community to fight what he sees as anti-gay rhetoric by the state’s most conservative lawmakers.

“I’ve got a platform, and I want to be more radical,” he says. “You have to provoke. You have to antagonize. You have to disrupt, because the status quo right now is oppressing people and denying their freedoms. If I’m not provoking, I’m not doing my job.”

Members of Equality Utah, a political-advocacy group that lobbies for gay rights, are supportive of Williams’ show and don’t fear that his confrontational style will hurt their cause among moderate listeners.

“I don’t know if his perspective is my perspective,” says Jane Marquardt, chairwoman of Equality Utah’s board of directors, who has not heard the show. “But I welcome the dialogue. The gay community speaks with a variety of voices.”