The Night Light with Joshua Johnson
The Night Light with Joshua Johnson
Ep. 2 - With Liberty and Justice for... a Price

Ep. 2 - With Liberty and Justice for... a Price

How do we balance equality, capitalism, and personal freedom?


From the Supreme Court to social media, from Bud Lights to porn sites… we are gonna cover a LOT of ground in this episode.

No need to wait for an election year — we vote every day, with every dollar we spend. The goods & services we purchase, and the way we sell them, says a lot about what’s important to us. This episode deals with three cases of the conflicts that can arise between our values and the things we value. Two of the situations were newsworthy.

One of them was cringeworthy. The one that happened to me.

I recently got hit on by a straight guy online. That was surprising enough, since I’m gay… but on top of that, he was offering me money to make a sex tape with him for an OnlyFans site. (Yep, that was my reaction too. Whatever you just said to yourself, that’s what I said. Out loud. And cussin’.) Obviously I turned him down, but believe it or not the encounter dovetailed with a recent ruling from the US Supreme Court… and with a controversy affecting Bud Light.

303 Creative LLC v.. Elenis

The case, brought by web designer Lori Smith, raises the question of whether businesses can refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings based on the business owner’s religious beliefs. Smith argued that creating websites for same-sex weddings would violate her conviction that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in her favor, citing the First Amendment's protection of expressive association.

Bud Light v. Transphobic Customers of America (not a real organization)

Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender woman with a large social media following, partnered with Bud Light for a promotion during March Madness. This partnership sparked a serious backlash, with some folks boycotting the brand. It got so serious that Bud Light fell from its longtime number-one spot as America’s top beer. Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch (Bud Light’s parent company), released a statement backing away from the controversy. The statement never mentioned Mulvaney or the LGBTQ+ community.

Me v. “gay4contentONLY”

Y’all. This truly happened to me.

I don’t know what possessed this guy to hit me up, but he did. It was on an app called Scruff: an online space for gay, bi and trans men to connect. (Please don’t download it to gawk out of curiosity. That’s what stalkers do. Don’t. Be. That. Person.) I’ve been a member for years — made some great friends there, in fact. He was highly cringy from the beginning, and when I tried to shut him down… he persisted! We ended up having a bit of a conversation online, during which I let him know that the Supreme Court ruling (which had come down that very morning) killed my appetite for doing business with people who disregard or disrespect my community. None of that seemed to faze him. Wait until you hear what he wrote to me… and yes, I concede that I should’ve just blocked this fool.

So what’s the point of making you cringe?

A lot of you know me from my work as a news anchor and a public radio host. Talking about personal matters like sex & sexuality are not what you expect from such a person — I get that. So why share this story?

Because my whole reason for creating “The Night Light” was to make room for everyone to come as they are, say what they feel and share their lived experiences with others. It's about connection, and sometimes connections can be shocking. This is something lots of LGBTQ people have encountered, but it never gets spoken of, so it’s easy to feel alone and frustrated. I’m not having that — not anymore.

The story is told in a funny way, but I totally understand that it might still be too much for you to hear. No hard feelings. I promise, every episode will not be this intense! (Our next one should be quite straightforward.) This one may be beyond your capacity to empathize, and that doesn’t make you a bad person or anything like that. Still, you at least deserve the option to hear unconventional stories… even if you ultimately decide to opt out. At least you’ll get to decide, and someone else won’t just decide for you.

I firmly believe that treating subjects like untouchable taboos is destructive. Taboos are toxic, and when they are held for too long, they become cancerous. I have lived my whole life overflowing with toxic taboos that I’m only now starting to drain and heal from. Maybe you have too. This is a space where we can let those out and, maybe, begin to heal… and you don’t have to do it alone. Not anymore.

Whoever you are, whatever your story is, you can tell it to me without judgment. That's my commitment. It’s perfectly fine for you to set boundaries on what you read, see and hear. It’s also fine to support a radically inclusive space that’s still insightful and useful. I believe both are necessary, and I hope you’ll stick with me through the end of this episode. Whether you do or not, let me know what you think.

The Night Light with Joshua Johnson
The Night Light with Joshua Johnson
Bright, nonpartisan insights on news & culture from former NPR & MSNBC host Joshua Johnson.