Washingtonblade.com, Volume 48, Issue 49, December 8, 2017

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Troubling signs in Masterpiece arguments Kennedy seems conflicted; activists fear grave consequences of ruling By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case Tuesday while protesters gathered outside. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

The U.S. Supreme Court concluded arguments Tuesday in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case with no clear indication of how it would rule as swing-vote Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed skepticism of the Colorado non-discrimination law, but also sent conflicting messages. As the American Civil Liberties Union’s national legal director David Cole argued before the bench, Kennedy remarked the attorney’s claim the baker, Jack Phillips, denied a wedding cake to the same-sex couple based on their identity, rather than objections to same-sex marriage, was “just too facile.” Kennedy also maintained “tolerance is essential” in society and accused the Colorado

Civil Rights Commission of being “neither tolerant, nor respectful of Phillips’ religious beliefs,” noting a line in the commission’s ruling calling the baker “despicable.” Kennedy also mentioned “other good bakery shops that were available.” But Kennedy also questioned whether the denial of a wedding cake compromised the dignity of the couple — a principle of significant importance to the justice — and questioned why selling ready-made cake to the couple wouldn’t be speech as opposed to a custom cake. Kennedy also envisioned after a ruling in favor of the baker religious groups sending messages to bakeries to “not make cakes for gay weddings.” In the aftermath of the hearing, reporters in the Supreme Court press room speculated the court could remand the case to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission with instructions to be more tolerant of Phillips’ religious beliefs. Another possibility was a ruling specifically crafted to apply to Colorado’s CONTINUES ON PAGE 11

Banana Café set to close Dec. 16 Beloved restaurant to end 25-year run on Capitol Hill By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com

JORGE ZAMORANO announced he’s closing the Banana Café. Zamorano, on left, stands with his partner DARREN LOVE outside of the venue. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

The Banana Café, a restaurant and piano bar on Capitol Hill that has catered to a gay and mixed clientele for 25 years, announced on its website that it will be closing its doors for good on Dec. 16. Owner Jorge “George” Zamorano, who’s gay and who met his partner while working for the restaurant under its previous owner when it was called the Lone Star Cantina, said he has decided it was time to move on to other endeavors. “We have had a great, wonderful 25 years,” he told the Washington Blade on Monday. “And I think for me personally I feel satisfied with what we did. In my heart I feel it is time for new adventures and to see what else is

out there,” he said. Zamorano was born in Cuba and raised in Puerto Rico. A lifelong artist and figurative painter, he was known among friends as both an artist and hospitality industry manager. He told the Blade in a 2013 interview that in 1992 he left his position as food and beverage manager at D.C.’s Henley Park Hotel to focus full-time on his artwork. But he said he soon found himself bartending and helping in the kitchen at the restaurant opened by his friend – the Lone Star Cantina. A little over two years later he bought the restaurant, located a short distance from the Eastern Market Metro station, and soon renamed it the Banana Café and Piano Bar. Known for its reasonably priced Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Tex-Mex cuisine, Capitol Hill residents and visitors, both LGBT and straight, CONTINUES ON PAGE 12

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D.C.’s LGBT AIDS programs get mixed reviews Two new reports cite progress, but find gaps in resources By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com Although the D.C. government is making good progress toward its ambitious goal of reducing the overall number of new HIV infections in the city by 50 percent in 2020, some of those at most risk for HIV/AIDS, especially LGBT people of color, “have been overlooked” in the city’s fight against AIDS, according to one of two independent reports released last week. The report making the latter assertion, “Reclaiming The Right To Live: Reducing HIV/ AIDS Disparities for LGB/Trans People of Color,” was prepared by student attorneys enrolled in Georgetown University Law Center’s Community Justice Project-Health Justice Alliance. The report says the research on which its findings are based was conducted in partnership ‘Pushing for PrEP as the be all and end all is not realistic for the with Casa Ruby, the D.C. LGBT community services population groups that we see all center that works closely with the transgender the time at Casa Ruby,’ said RUBY CORADO. community. Its focus was on the city’s HIV/AIDS WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY prevention efforts “as they relate to the LGB/Trans community and communities of color,” according to the report. “Despite efforts to combat the epidemic in the District and general success with decreasing the number of cases in the last decade, these communities are disproportionately high risk for HIV,” the report says. “So while the District has had general success in fighting and preventing the spread of HIV, the most vulnerable and historically marginalized groups have been overlooked,” it says. The report provides a number of recommendations for improving the city’s outreach to trans women and LGB people of color, including suggestions for improving the city’s data collection, which it says lumps transgender people together with gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. It points out that a recent report by the D.C. Trans Coalition found that a staggering 20 percent of transgender people reported they were living with HIV, with 75 percent of them being people of color. The report also notes that D.C. data show that black men who have sex with men contracted HIV in 2016 at a rate of one in four compared to white men who have sex with men, who had an infection rate of one in eight. The second report, “Ending the HIV Epidemic in DC: 2017 Progress Report,” was prepared by the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, a nonprofit group that has been monitoring the city’s AIDS programs since 2003. The report points out that last year D.C. Appleseed entered into a partnership with Mayor Muriel Bowser, the city’s Department of Health and its HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA), and the nonprofit coalition Washington AIDS Partnership to develop a plan to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the number of new HIV cases in the city by 2020. Known as the “90/90/90/50 Plan, the report and statements by Bowser at the time it was launched on World AIDS Day in 2016 say its overall aim is to bring an end to the AIDS epidemic in the District at the soonest possible time. In addition to its goal of reducing the number of new HIV cases by 50 percent in 2020, the plan calls for achieving that goal by bringing about three other important objectives: Making sure that 90 percent of all city residents with HIV know of their HIV status; making sure that 90 percent of all city residents with HIV are in “sustained treatment;” and ensuring that 90 percent of those in treatment will reach full “viral suppression,” which means they will have an undetectable level of the virus in their body. The DC Appleseed report, released Dec. 1 on World AIDS Day, says the city has made good progress in reaching those objectives based on the most recent data for the year 2016. It points out that the number of new HIV cases reported in D.C. for 2016 was 347,

LO CA L N E W S a 33 percent reduction from the 2013 figure of 520 new cases. It says the 50 percent reduction goal for 2020 would mean there would be 260 or fewer new cases that year. The report, however, says the city’s main strategy for achieving the 2020 goals is based on two important clinical advances in recent years, one of which the Georgetown Law Center’s report says has been problematic for trans and LGB people of color. The first strategy is known as “treatment as prevention,” which holds that people with HIV who achieve full viral suppression through anti-retroviral medication are far less likely if not completely shielded from transmitting the virus to someone else. The second strategy, for which the Georgetown report and Casa Ruby Executive Director Ruby Corado have expressed some concern, is known as Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, which involves prescribing an anti-retroviral drug to HIV-negative people who are considered to be at high risk of HIV infection. Studies have shown that PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV infection among those to strictly adhere to their drug regimen. But the Georgetown Law Center report points out that LGB and trans people of color, among other groups, often do not have access to health insurance or medical care needed for the required monitoring of people on PrEP, including ongoing doctor’s visits and blood tests to prevent potentially harmful side effects of the PrEP drug. “Pushing for PrEP as the be all and end all is not realistic for the population groups that we see all the time at Casa Ruby,” Corado told the Blade during the city’s World AIDS Day ceremony at the Reeves Center municipal building. Corado said “culturally competent” programs to reach out to transgender women of color and others will be needed to make sure that those groups are helped by the city’s 90/90/90/50 Plan. Walter Smith, executive director of D.C. Appleseed, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that Appleseed and its report concur with the Georgetown Law Center report’s conclusions that certain longtime underserved population groups have not benefited from existing HIV prevention programs. “Our take on this is the two reports are quite complimentary and supplementary to each other,” he said. “And I hope that as the mayor and the Department of Health move forward they will treat both of them seriously.” Smith said that although D.C. Appleseed entered into a partnership with the city to develop the 90/90/90/50 Plan it remains an independent organization. He said the report it released on Dec. 1 and all future reports will be impartial in their assessment of the city’s AIDS programs and critical of those programs when information gathered indicates there are problems. The Georgetown Law Center report can be viewed here: http://www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/centers-institutes/health-justicealliance/upload/casa-ruby-report.pdf The D.C. Appleseed report can be viewed here: http://www.dcappleseed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2017HIVProgressReport.pdf

William Sievert dies at 70 William (Bill) Arthur Sievert, a writer and LGBT activist, died Nov. 19 of cancer according to his family. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur William Sievert, Jr., Bill was born March 14, 1947 in Louisville, Ky. He is survived by his husband and partner of 44 years, John Theis; his sister, Barbara Sievert Atkinson (Morgan); two nieces, Kerry Beth Novotny (and husband, Dave), Shara Marie Szott (and WILLIAM SIEVERT husband, Tim), four great nephews and his dog, Zak. Sievert met Theis in San Francisco in 1973. They later lived in Washington, Rehoboth Beach, Del., and Mount Dora, Fla. At every stop they owned successful businesses and made many friends. In the 1990s, Bill served on the Board of CAMP Rehoboth and was a columnist for Letters from CAMP. He was one of the founders of the Rehoboth Beach Film Festival and the Rehoboth Jazz Festival and operated a whimsical gift shop called Splash on Baltimore Avenue. He was an award-winning journalist as well as a writer of fiction in later years. He had successful stints as a writer or editor with the Louisville Times, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Washington Post and the Advocate. His book “All for the Cause” showcased his collection of political buttons collected from many campaigns. Sievert wrote many columns and essays. In recent years he worked in Florida to form gay/straight alliances and an anti-bullying program in schools. There will be a service in in Mt. Dora, Fla., in February. JOEY DiGUGLIELMO


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Stonewall Monument spared from Trump review Activists feared status could be rescinded for famed gay bar By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com An executive order issued by President Trump in April calling for a review and reassessment of U.S. national monuments named since 1996 will not impact the designation of the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village as the nation’s first LGBT national monument. According to a report released on Tuesday by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Stonewall Monument was not included on a list of 27 national monuments that Zinke singled out for review in May. His 20-page report, which the executive order called on him to prepare, also did not include the Stonewall Monument in a list of 10 monuments he recommended be changed and reduced in size. President Barack Obama in 2016 designated the Stonewall Inn bar, its surrounding streets, and a city park adjacent to it as a U.S. National Monument. He said the designation was

One expert said the Stonewall Monument ‘dodged a bullet.’ PHOTO BY JOHANNES JORDAN; COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

in recognition of the 1969 Stonewall riots triggered by a police raid on the bar that historians consider the starting point of the modern LGBT rights movement. At the time Trump issued his executive order on April 26, LGBT activists in New York expressed concern that a littlenoticed clause in the order could impact small national monuments such as the Stonewall, even though Trump said his

aim was to downsize national monuments located mostly in the western U.S. that consisted of hundreds of thousands of acres of land. The order directed the Secretary of the Interior to review national monuments designated or expanded by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama “where the designation covers more than 100,000 acres.”

It also directed the Secretary to assess whether national monuments designated by the three presidents, regardless of their size, “restrict public access to and use of federal lands, burden state, tribal, and local governments, and otherwise curtail economic growth.” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said at the time the order was issued that its language was “open ended” and might be interpreted to single out the Stonewall for removal of its national monument designation. “I think there is a great deal of anxiety about this possibility,” he said in May. When told on Tuesday that Zinke’s final report carrying out the executive order did not mention the Stonewall Monument in its targeted list of monuments, Berman said he was pleased but concerned about what might happen later. “While I’m heartened to know that the Stonewall dodged the bullet in this round I think it is extremely disturbing and terrible this president and his administration is going back and seeking to undo national monument designations,” Berman told the Washington Blade. � CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

Trump World AIDS Day proclamation omits LGBT people But for first time president commits to ending epidemic By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com President Trump’s first-ever proclamation for World AIDS Day called for eradication of the disease “as a public health threat,” but left out enumeration of marginalized groups — such as LGBT people — who are most affected by the epidemic. Trump issued the proclamation on Nov. 30, the day before World AIDS Day, which many HIV/AIDS advocates observe to draw attention to the disease. An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS and 36.7 million people across the globe. For the first time, Trump said his administration is committed to ending the HIV/AIDS across the globe — a pledge his predecessors in the White House have made, but Trump hadn’t taken until now. “Today, on World AIDS Day, we honor those who have lost their lives to AIDS, we celebrate the remarkable progress we have made in combatting this disease, and we reaffirm our ongoing commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat,” Trump wrote.


Consistent with his use of faith in public announcements, Trump invoked the use of prayer to draw attention to those who’ve died of HIV/AIDS. “On this day, we pray for all those living with HIV, and those who have lost loved ones to AIDS,” Trump wrote. Trump hailed the success of publicprivate partnerships in HIV prevention and treatment as well as President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a plan to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic globally. “Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and its

data-driven investments in partnership with more than 50 countries, we are supporting more than 13.3 million people with lifesaving antiretroviral treatment,” Trump said. “We remain deeply committed to supporting adolescent girls and young women through this program, who are up to 14 times more likely to contract HIV than young men in some sub-Saharan African countries.” Im the future, Trump pledged to continue to invest in testing strategies “to help people who are unaware they are living with HIV learn their status” and to implement the recent PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control, which seeks to guide investments in more than 50 countries to control the epidemic “Due to America’s leadership and private sector philanthropy and innovation, we have saved and improved millions of lives and shifted the HIV/AIDS epidemic from crisis toward control,” Trump said. “We are proud to continue our work with many partners, including governments, private-sector companies, philanthropic organizations, multilateral institutions, civil society and faith-based organizations, people living with HIV, and many others.” But the proclamation lacked explicit inclusion of marginalized groups whom HIV/AIDS most affects, such as LGBT

people. According to the Centers for Disease Control, gay and bisexual men make up an estimated 70 percent of new HIV infections in the United States. Although transgender specific-data is limited, an estimated 22 percent of all transgender women have HIV. In contrast to Trump’s proclamation, Obama’s proclamation in 2016 spells out LGBT people are among the individuals who are at highest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. “In the United States, more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV,” Obama wrote. “Gay and bisexual men, transgender people, youth, black and Latino Americans, people living in the Southern United States, and people who inject drugs are at a disproportionate risk.” Trump didn’t have an explicit plan to combat HIV/AIDS during his presidential campaign, but the proclamation isn’t the first time he’s addressed the issue. In June, Trump issued a statement observing National HIV Testing Day and encouraged Americans to learn their HIV status. Moreover, Trump’s praise for programs like PEPFAR ignores his own plans to slash the initiatives. His fiscal year 2018 budget proposal would decrease the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and PEPFAR by 17 percent each, making more than $1 billion in cuts.



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Troubling signs from Supreme Court in Cakeshop arguments CONTINUED FROM PAGE 01

non-discrimination law without nationwide implications. The petitioner in the case, Phillips, argues that making a wedding cake is inherently an artistic act of expression protected under the First Amendment, therefore he should be able to deny wedding cakes out of religious objections to same-sex couples like Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who sought to buy a cake for their wedding in 2012. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined Phillips’ denial of service to the couple amounted to unlawful anti-gay discrimination under the Colorado AntiDiscrimination Act. Although state courts have affirmed that ruling, the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case earlier this year. U.S. Associate Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the Obama-appointed justices, made the strongest case for the Colorado non-discrimination law and at times were seemingly trying to coax Kennedy, who has a long history of ruling in favor of gay rights, to side with the same-sex couple. When Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of U.S. advocacy for the law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, approached the issue of dignity by saying “in this case, dignity cuts both ways” and the Colorado law is demeaning to Phillips, Sotomayor shot back that wasn’t the case. “It’s not denigrating someone by saying, as I mentioned earlier, to say: If you choose to participate in our community in a public way, your choice, you can choose to sell cakes or not,” Sotomayor said. “You can choose to sell cupcakes or not, whatever it is you choose to sell, you have to sell it to everyone who knocks on your door, if you open your door to everyone.” Asserting society has “competing beliefs,” Sotomayor recognized LGBT people “have been humiliated, disrespected, treated unequally” and enumerated the history of discrimination against them, such as LGBT people being denied medical treatment. That history, Sotomoyor said, justifies a non-discrimination law in public accommodations. “We’ve always said in our public accommodations law we can’t change your private beliefs, we can’t compel you to like these people, we can’t compel you to bring them into your home, but if you want to be a part of our community, of our civic community, there’s certain behavior, conduct you can’t engage in,” Sotomayor said. “And that includes not selling products that you sell to everyone else to people simply because of their either race, religion, national origin, gender, and in this case sexual orientation.” Kagan peppered Waggoner with questions on why wedding cake would

The gay couple in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case says their case is about “freedom.” WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

be considered inherent, but not other wedding services such as a jeweler or a hairstylist. Waggoner said neither of those cases would be the same as a wedding cake because they’re not speech. “I’m quite serious, actually, about this, because, you know, a makeup artist, I think, might feel exactly as your client does, that they’re doing something that’s of great aesthetic importance to the wedding and that there’s a lot of skill and artistic vision that goes into making a somebody look beautiful,” Kagan said. In one telling moment when Kagan enumerated other professions and brought up chef, Waggoner denied a chef at a wedding was engaged in expressive speech, prompting her to exclaim “woah” in disbelief. “The test that this court has used in the past to determine whether speech is engaged in is to ask if it is communicating something, and if whatever is being communicated, the medium used is similar to other mediums that this court has protected,” Waggoner replied. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, who was sympathetic to the baker’s claims, had his own hypothetical question that he posed both to Cole and Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yarger: Could a Christian legal group be forced under Colorado law to represent a client in support of samesex marriage? Both Cole and Yarger said the answer would be “yes.” “It’s clearly covered by Colorado’s law,” Roberts said. “It’s not primarily religious. It’s primarily legal. It’s provided to all faiths. And there’s nothing in the law that I can see that says it’s limited to for-profit organizations.” Sotomayor sought to cast doubt on whether Phillips was seeking to deny same-sex couples only wedding cakes

because they’re inherently an act of expression, referencing an incident when he refused to sell cupcakes to a lesbian couple. Waggoner said that alleged incident was never included in the initial complaint, the formal charges against Phillips or the resolution against him. Representing the Trump administration during arguments was U.S. Solicitor General Neil Francisco, who solicited and obtained time to argue on behalf of Masterpiece Cakeshop. It was the first time since his confirmation he argued before the Supreme Court during oral arguments. Francisco made the case the First Amendment allows an individual to deny a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, but not for an interracial or black couple because that act would be based on identity, not the act of same-sex marriage. “I think pretty much everything but race would fall in the same category, but as this court made clear in the Bob Jones case, the IRS could withdraw tax-exempt status from a school that discriminated on the basis of interracial marriage, but I’m not at all sure that it would reach the same result if it were dealing with a Catholic school that limited married student housing to opposite-sex couples only,” Francisco said. When Kagan asked whether denying a wedding cake to a couple was an affront to the LGBT community, Francisco conceded dignity issues were at stake, but sometimes there’s “dignity interest on the other side.” Both Francisco and Waggoner made heavy use of the Supreme Court precedent in the case of Hurley v. Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, a 1995 decision which

held the state can’t compel individuals in a public demonstration to include groups who impart a message the organizers don’t want in their demonstration. Francisco called the decision against Masterpiece Cakeshop the “flipside of Hurley” because in this case Colorado was essentially forcing Phillips to take part in the metaphorical parade of supporting same-sex marriage. U.S. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch tried to steer the court toward instituting an abstract rule that could guide businesses on whether they could deny service to customers under the First Amendment, bringing up Jackson Pollock as the kind of artist who would be able to deny service because his art is inherently expressive. The Trump-appointed justice also questioned why the punishment for Phillips, being forced to undergo training with his employees, shouldn’t be considered compelled speech. “Why isn’t that compelled speech and possibly in violation of his freeexercise rights?” Gorsuch said. “Because presumably he has to tell his staff, including his family members, that his Christian beliefs are discriminatory.” In addition, Gorsuch echoed Kennedy’s concerns about the Colorado Civil Rights Commission being disrespectful of Phillips, pointing to a second commissioner who suggested if he doesn’t like the law, he could change his religious beliefs. There was little time for attorneys to make their cases before the Supreme Court without interruption as justices continually peppered them with inquiries and challenges, but on occasion were able to make the points they had prepared. Cole, representing the American Civil Liberties Union and the same-sex couple, emphasized the far-reaching implications of a ruling in favor of being allowed to deny wedding cakes to LGBT people. “We don’t doubt the sincerity of Mr. Phillips’s convictions, but to accept his argument leads to unacceptable consequences,” Cole said. “A bakery could refuse to sell a birthday cake to a black family if it objected to celebrating black lives. A corporate photography studio could refuse to take pictures of female CEOs if it believed that a woman’s place is in the home. And a florist could put a sign up on her storefront saying we don’t do gay funerals, if she objected to memorializing gay people.” Waggoner said forcing Phillips to make wedding cakes contrary to his beliefs would be the “gravest offense to the First Amendment.” “A wedding cake expresses an inherent message that is that the union is a marriage and is to be celebrated, and that message violates Mr. Phillips’ religious convictions,” Waggoner said.


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Banana Café to close after 25 years on Capitol Hill CONTINUED FROM PAGE 01

say they soon viewed the restaurant and bar as a widely beloved neighborhood institution in the then changing Barracks Row section of 8th Street. Banana Café has been located at 500 8th St., S.E. since its opening. “We did a lot,” Zamorano said. “We saw the whole area change. And it’s a fantastic area now,” he said, unlike the impression many had of the area 20 years ago. “When I bought it people said you’re crazy. Why do you want to own anything there?” he told the Blade. He said he bought the building a short time after taking over the business. After thinking long and hard about whether it was time to move on, Zamorano said he recently sold the building to a real estate development company, which he thinks will likely rent the space to a new restaurant. He said he prefers not to disclose the sale price, but public property records show Zamorano did well due to the

steep appreciation of both residential and commercial properties along the Barrack’s Row strip. “What I want to do now is take a little time to regroup, reflect on everything that happened in the past 25 years, and then decide what’s going to be my next move.” He said he has not ruled out returning to the restaurant business, saying “It’s in my blood.” He said he is looking forward to seeing longtime customers and friends stop by Banana Café for the last time before the closing on Dec. 16. “I’m taking with me great memories, great friendships,” he said. “And it’s very hard now to start saying goodbye. That is very hard to do.” Banana Café will be the second gay or LGBT welcoming bar to close on Capitol Hill in less than two years. Last year the Phase One, which catered to a lesbian clientele for over 30 years, closed its doors on 8th St., S.E., less than two blocks from Banana Café.


LGBT Alabamians ‘praying’ for Roy Moore’s defeat Sexual assault allegations throw race into turmoil By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com The special election on Tuesday for a seat to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate has risen to national attention amid allegations of sexual misconduct by Roy Moore — and many in the LGBT community see an opportunity to defeat him after enduring his anti-LGBT hostility over the years. Moore, who has a long career as an attorney and judge in Alabama, has faced accusations of sexual misconduct from nine women since he secured the Republican nomination to run for Senate. The most prominent is Leigh Corfman, who said Moore sexually assaulted her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was 32. Another, Beverly Young Nelson, said when she was 15 in 1977 she received unwelcome attention from Moore. Nelson said one year later Nelson, sexually assaulted her. Moore has denied engaging in sexual misconduct, but offered contradictory responses on whether he knows the accusers and didn’t dispute dating teenagers who were above the age of consent. The allegations of sexual misconduct have made a seat in deep red Alabama competitive. Although polls have produced different results, Democratic nominee Doug Jones has a shot at

winning the election. A former U.S. prosecutor, Jones gained notoriety by leading the government’s case against two perpetrators of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. These accusations have propelled Moore to the national spotlight and shaken up the special election, but Moore is already well known in the LGBT community for his hostility toward LGBT rights, even at the expense of abandoning the rule of law. Upon the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality in 2015, Moore called the decision “an immoral, unconstitutional and tyrannical opinion” and instructed Alabama state judges to ignore federal rulings in favor of marriage equality. Last year, Moore issued a directive saying despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision for same-sex marriage, probate judges should still deny marriage licenses to gay couples because the Alabama Supreme Court never withheld its 2015 ruling upholding the state law against gay nuptials. For encouraging state officials to defy federal courts, the Alabama judicial court suspended Moore for the remainder of his term from the Alabama Supreme Court, determining Moore “failed to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.” (It wasn’t the first time Moore was suspended from the bench. It happened in 2003 when he refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandants from the Alabama Judicial Building.) After he started his run for U.S. Senate,

ROY MOORE is accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls. PHOTO COURTESY OF YOUTUBE

a tape emerged from 2005 in which Moore said same-sex relationships, which were illegal in many states just two years earlier before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, should be criminalized. “What I think is that it was illegal under the law, that the Supreme Court usurped the role of the legislature and ruled something about our moral law that is improper, and that’s what we’re finding the Supreme Court and the federal district courts are doing today,” Moore said at the time. As such the Democratic Party — along with LGBT advocates — see the competitive race as an opportunity to pick up a seat

and to take a stand for LGBT rights. Lane Galbraith, a transgender activist in Mobile, Ala., said he sees the connection between those who continue to support Roy Moore amid the allegations and opponents of LGBT rights. “The people who are supporting Moore are the very same people who were attacking transgender men and women on the bathroom issue,” Galbraith said. “This is the sad, brainwashed thinking of many Alabamians. And even more sad that the backwards justification of supporting Moore comes from religious false teachings of God’s word. It is a very sad and disgusting state of affairs that Alabama has a pedophile running for a Senate seat in 2017.” But Galbraith demurred when asked if he thinks Moore will lose the race as a result of the sexual allegations against him. “If Roy Moore wins it will be damaging to Alabama,” Galbraith said. “Let’s just say we’re praying for a miracle.” Many LGBT observers predict that a win for Moore in the U.S. Senate will be tantamount to a revival of late Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who endorsed homophobic policies during his tenure in Congress. Amid sexual assault allegations, Moore has sought to rehabilitate his image by bolstering his anti-LGBT bonafides in a state that remains in many places hostile to LGBT rights amid growing acceptance nationwide.


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Lambda Legal poised to unionize amid staff discontent Cuts to benefits, high turnover mark Tiven’s tenure as CEO By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com Employees at Lambda Legal have launched a unionization effort amid frustration over cuts to benefits and concerns over the leadership style of CEO Rachel Tiven, the Washington Blade has learned. A petition was filed on Nov. 21 before the National Labor Relations Board, which supervises elections for labor union representation, as noted on the U.S. agency’s website. Ballots for the election were set for distribution to employees on Wednesday and counting will take place Dec. 29. The petition calls for unionization within the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, Local 32035, which bills itself as a union for more than 2,600 news, information and labor-organization workers for 27 different employers, mostly in the metropolitan Washington and Baltimore areas. Bruce Jett, organizing consultant for the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, said each employee’s reason for supporting the petition may be different, but “any time any organization seeks to organize, there are concerns about having a voice in the workplace.” “And there are concerns about topdown accountability, there are concerns about transparency on several different levels, and so, I think collective bargaining and organizing brings these things into focus,” Jett said. Tempering his remarks, Jett said Lambda “does great work, and has great people that love the work they do and will continue the great work, but this is something that, I think, the employees feel will produce a better Lambda Legal coming out of the election.” Jett said he couldn’t get into examples of why employees have about concerns about accountability and transparency at Lambda Legal on the basis he isn’t at liberty nor “aware enough to give you examples.” Representing employees in the effort to unionize is Robert Paul, an attorney with the D.C.-based law firm Zwerdling, Paul, Kahn & Wolly who deferred to the WashingtonBaltimore News Guild for comment. Two sources familiar with the employment environment at Lambda, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cited a number of reasons over the course of the year for discontent, which they said has led employees to unionize for the first time since Lambda was founded in 1973. “The reason that we’re forming a union at the moment is because we believe that there are a lot of changes both internally and externally, and they’re happening at a very rapid pace and it’s clear that the voices of those who are working

Employees at Lambda Legal are seeking to unionize amid discontent under the leadership of RACHEL TIVEN. WASHINGTON BLADE FILE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

at Lambda Legal that aren’t in senior management need to be heard, and they need to be at the table,” one source said. Key among the reasons for unhappiness and the motivation to unionize, the sources said, were cuts to employment health and retirement benefits. The retirement benefits, one source said, once consisted of employer contributions of 10 percent of employee salary. That benefit was frozen in November and December to contributions of zero percent, the source said, and “there’s talk” of it going down to as little as two percent permanently. For the health benefits, the cost of employee contributions went up with three weeks for employees to make a decision on the new options, sources said. “The cuts really affected...the lowest income folks and their access to health care,” one source said. “For an organization that prides itself and employees who care deeply about making sure everybody has access to the care that they need, it seemed very disconnected to make these drastic cuts and letting us know with only three weeks to go what those would be.” Tiven said in response to the concerns raised by staffers that Lambda does “absolutely respect and support the right of Lambda Legal’s staff to organize.” “Our staff is our most valuable asset in our efforts to win full civil rights for all LGBT people and those living with HIV/ AIDS,” Tiven said. Concern over benefits arises as employees say Lambda has robust fundraising, but also high expenses. With President Trump’s anti-LGBT policy inspiring financial contribution to Lambda, sources briefed on the organization’s budget said the organization has experienced record fundraising in the past year, but nonetheless has had a deficit in income compared to expenditures in the same time period. In response to a request for Lambda’s IRS 990 forms, Tiven deferred to the

organization’s website. The IRS 990 forms are listed, but the most recent entry is for fiscal year 2016, which lists revenue at $19.7 million compared to $18 million in expenses. Tiven said the 990 for fiscal year 2017 wasn’t yet ready and non-profits have six months to make them public. Tiven didn’t respond to a follow-up email to confirm whether revenue at Lambda was higher than recent years or whether expenditures for FY-17 were higher than revenue. The past year at Lambda has also been marked by high employee turnover. An organization that had about 100 employees at the start of the year has seen the departure of more than 30 since that time, one source said. However, Lambda’s website lists more than 100 employees for the organization, which indicates a net gain in employment. A number of key employees have left or are set to leave the organization, including some in senior positions. The former chief finance and administrative officer for Lambda, Lawson Shadburn, departed in September. Also set for departure is Jim Bennett, chief development officer for Lambda. Jon Davidson, who’s been legal director for Lambda for 22 years, was set to depart the organization on Wednesday. Late last month, Susan Sommer, who was Lambda’s legal director of constitutional litigation, left her position to join the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. These departures from the legal team take place as Lambda has a petition pending before the U.S. Supreme Court asserting the prohibition on sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation nationwide. Lambda also continues to pursue other LGBT-related litigation, such as a lawsuit ensuring transgender students have access to the bathroom consistent with their gender identity and a challenge to Trump’s trans military ban. Lambda has also experienced change in organizational structure, such as the elimination of a community education program, which engaged in direct education and advocacy at each regional office with members of the community. The department was once supervised by a director of community education and advocacy who reported to the director of education and public affairs, but one source said both those senior positions were eliminated and the educators left one by one. Tiven said “departures happen in every organization when a new CEO comes in” and she welcomes the contributions of employees no longer with the organization. “We are excited about the powerhouse team that will carry on their legacy: Director of Strategy Sharon McGowan; Law & Policy Director Jenny Pizer; and Acting Legal Director Camilla Taylor, who led Lambda’s Marriage Project,” Tiven added. “Jon built

a team of extraordinary lawyers who right now are fighting the trans military ban in Seattle, protecting marriage equality in Texas, and putting high school bathroom restrictions on trial in Jacksonville, Florida – to name just a few.” One Lambda staffer attributed the discontent among employees at Lambda to the leadership of Tiven, who took over as CEO in July 2016. “I do not know what the board and Rachel envisioned when she was hired to the position, but it seems to me that, for whatever reason, she is committed to changing Lambda Legal for the sake of change without explicitly chartering an organization into the future, and in so doing, she has demonstrated a lack of respect for the staff of the organization, and those that have dedicated decades of their lives to serving the LGBT community,” the staffer said. The staffer added the unionization effort would be happening at Lambda “independent and apart of Rachel Tiven’s leadership.” Representing management at Lambda in the labor proceedings is the international law firm Seyfarth Shaw. Although the law firm touts itself on consistently obtaining perfect scores in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, the organization has represented the Trump organization in labor and contract disputes. Seyfarth Shaw didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article. A statement provided to the Blade and credited to Lambda Legal staffers asserts the unionization effort will facilitate employee work at the organization. “Lambda Legal has been a leader in the movement for LGBTQ people and people living with HIV since 1973, improving the lives of the communities we serve through persistent, strategic and ambitious legal advocacy, policy work and community education of the highest quality,” the statement says. “As proud members of the Lambda Legal family, we see no better way to ensure the consistent quality of our work at the high level that today’s national landscape demands than to form a union.” The statement insists the No. 1 priority for staffers remains “the improvement of the lives of LGBTQ people and everyone living with HIV.” “We are the lawyers, fundraisers, communication and administrative and support staff that made the success of the past 40-plus years possible,” the statement says. “We want a collective voice and a seat at the table as the organization evolves and plans its response to an increasingly hostile federal administration and ever-changing legal landscape for LGBTQ people and everyone living with HIV.” � CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM


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Trans men face heavy HIV burden: study

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LONDON — HIV-positive transgender men in the United States have significant unmet social and health care needs, according to a study published in Research and Practice, AIDSmap reports. Approximately half were living in poverty and only 60 percent had sustained viral suppression. “Many transgender men receiving HIV medical care in the United States face socioeconomic challenges and suboptimal health outcomes,” write the authors. “Although these transgender men had access to HIV medical care, many experienced poor health outcomes and unmet needs.” Transgender people experience poorer health outcomes compared to cisgendered individuals, AIDSmap reports. Little is known about characteristics and outcomes of HIV-positive transgender men (designated female at birth). A team of investigators therefore analyzed the records of patients who received HIV care in the United States between 2009-2014. Their aim was to characterize the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of these patients, AIDSmap reports. Overall, transgender men constituted 0.16 percent of all adults but 11 percent of transgender adults receiving HIV care in the United States. The majority (59 percent) were aged between 18-49 years and 40 percent identified as gay or bisexual. Although 42 percent had completed high school, almost half (47 percent) had an income below the national poverty level. A third were uninsured or relied on a Ryan White program for their health care. Over two-thirds (69 percent) had an unmet support need and a quarter were currently living with depression, AIDSmap reports. Most (53 percent) were sexually active. The majority (57 percent) had been living with HIV for 10 or more years; a quarter had a history of an AIDS diagnosis. The vast majority (93 percent) had ever taken antiretrovirals; 88 percent were on HIV therapy and 83 percent were fully adherent to their treatment. Last viral load measurement was undetectable in 69 percent and 57 percent had a current CD4 cell count above 500 cells/mm3. Two-thirds of patients had a viral load test every six months but only 40 percent had received sexual health or HIV prevention counseling from a health care professional, AIDSmap reports. “More than one in 10 transgender persons receiving HIV care were transgender men. HIV-positive transgender men receiving medical care in the United States constitute a small group with socioeconomic challenges, unmet needs for supportive services, and poor (health outcomes),” conclude the authors. “To decrease disparities and achieve health equity among HIV-positive men, HIV care models could incorporate transgender-sensitive health care and mental health services and health insurance inclusive of sex reassignment procedures and physical sex-related care.”

Liberty Counsel joins ‘conversion’ battle in Fla. TAMPA, Fla. — Citing an alleged First Amendment violation, the anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel filed a suit in federal court against the city of Tampa for enacting a ban on gay “conversion therapy” for minors, the South Florida Gay News reports. Liberty Counsel is representing Robert Vazzo, David Pickup and their minor clients and parents in the case against the city. A noted figure in the gay conversion therapy industry, Pickup raised eyebrows last month when he introduced a flamboyant flag dancer as the opening act at an anti-LGBT conference in Texas. According to a statement released by Liberty Counsel, “Ordinance 201747 violates the First Amendment by imposing a viewpoint and content-based prohibition on the speech of licensed professionals in Tampa who offer change counseling.” Liberty Counsel further claims that the ordinance violates the rights of clients under the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, the South Florida Gay News reports. Tampa’s ban on gay conversion therapy was passed by the City Council unanimously last April. The ban, which levies fines on mental health practitioners and counselors who engage who purport to change or curb a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Similar bans are in place in Miami Beach, Wilton Manors, Miami, North Bay Village, West Palm Beach, Bay Harbor Islands, Lake Worth, El Portal, Key West, Boynton Beach, Tampa, Delray Beach, Riviera Beach, Wellington, Greenacres, Boca Raton and Oakland Park, the South Florida Gay News reports. Fines will range from $1,000-5,000, the South Florida Gay News reports.


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bring the holidays home


Sunday, December 10, 2017

“Great Joy: A Gospel Christmas” by Michael McElroy, Joseph Joubert, & Buryl Red at the 9:00 AM Worship Service


by John Rutter at the 11:15 AM Worship Service. Both Led by Stanley Thurston, Director of Music Ministries

UPCOMING SERVICES: Dec. 17: 9:00 & 11:15 AM Children’s Christmas Play Dec. 21: 7:00 PM Longest Night Service Four Services Dec. 24: 9:00 AM, 11:15 AM, 6:00 PM, 8:00 PM

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No LGBT history, no equality Canada apologizes while U.S. ignores discriminatory past By CHARLES FRANCIS Justin Trudeau’s epic apology to sexual minorities in Canada for decades of “systemic oppression, criminalization and violence” stands as a stark reminder for LGBT Americans that our history of ruinous discrimination remains officially unrecognized —much less apologized for — in the United States. LGBT political history here is either ignored, mocked, rewritten or simply erased. For Canadians, this is an exciting time of “truth and reconciliation,” an honest recognition by the government of a terrible history so that it may not be repeated again and society can move on. For LGBT Americans, confronted by the hostility of the Trump/Pence administration, we must insist that our history, in all of its shameful dimensions, be recognized at least by legislators and the judiciary. Only in this way, may we lay the groundwork for a formal federal recognition in years to come. Our equality depends upon it. No history. No equality. All of us must answer the fundamental question faced by citizens when it comes to “Truth and Reconciliation”: Do you want to remember? Or do you want to forget? In her authoritative book on non-judicial truth seeking, “Unspeakable Truths,” Priscilla Hayner asks leaders of countries who have suffered the worst state-sponsored crimes, this direct question. It is easy enough to forget. Most recently, here in Washington, our major LGBT film festival Reel Affirmations de-

clined this year to screen the award-winning documentary “The Lavender Scare,” the story of a homosexual witch-hunt at the State Department. The investigations and terminations rose in part from Sen. Joe McCarthy’s and his Counsel Roy Cohn’s vile demagoguery. Even today, we live in the shadow of Cohn, President Donald Trump’s attorney and closeted mentor who died of AIDS in 1986. Do we want to remember or forget Roy Cohn in Donald Trump’s Washington? Do we want to remember or forget the fate of tens of thousands of federal workers investigated and fired, professional lives ruined, personal lives shattered by the animus administered by the U.S. Civil Service Commission and the Office of Personnel Management attorneys? Want to remember or forget J. Edgar Hoover’s “Sex Deviate” national investigation program? Do we want Chief Justice John Roberts to remember or minimize this awful era of animus, as when he mocked our history by characterizing it as mere “snippets” in his dissent in the same-sex marriage case U.S. v. Windsor? Compared to Canada, we have taken baby steps. When the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director John Berry officially apologized in 2009 to gay civil rights pioneer Dr. Franklin E. Kameny, he delivered a heartfelt and personal statement, but without reference to the thousands of LGBT Americans who were branded perverts, investigated and ruined right there in the OPM building. Years later, in 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a strong formal apology to those State Department employees who were investigated and fired during the “Lavender Scare,” but that was

only about the couple of hundred employees fired by the State Department. Taking a different route, in 2015, The Mattachine Society met with the OPM General Counsel. We briefed her on the ugly story revealed by hundreds of pages of never-before-released memoranda, legal briefs and correspondence from the Office of the General Counsel of OPM and its predecessor the Civil Service Commission. These documents revealed massive legal resistance to LGBT civil equality, laden with vile insults about “nasty” homosexuals. We asked for a statement of recognition and apology. No such statement was ever issued. We later learned that such a letter had been drafted and approved. However, due to an unprecedented hacking of OPM records in 2015, a new leadership team was brought in, who along with career attorneys, killed the letter of apology altogether. As part of its Truth and Reconciliation initiative, Canada will construct a memorial to the many individuals who suffered the animus and discrimination of a hostile government. Can you visualize such a memorial here? Would it be a lavender splash of paint splattered onto the exit of the Office of Personnel Management where so many thousands were ushered out? Or might it be a picket carried high by Frank Kameny, Lilli Vincenz and other members of the Mattachine Society who picketed their way into a meeting with hostile government lawyers? Might our best Truth & Reconciliation projCHARLES FRANCIS is president of The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., mattachinesocietywashingtondc.org.


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D.C. deserves a city ‘Office of Nightlife’ – done right The nighttime economy buttresses financial stability, cultural vitality

MARK LEE is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

It’s a trendsetting civic initiative percolating in U.S. cities large and smaller, inspired by European entertainment capitals once in the forefront of creating them. The idea makes smart sense. D.C. Council member Brandon Todd recently introduced legislation to establish an Office of Nightlife, co-sponsored by colleague David Grosso. While hopes are high that initial details of the bill will be refined and revised to improve the local concept, there was strong support among a wide range of stakeholders, including the business community, for the proposal at a public hearing last month. In Washington, where the nighttime economy is estimated to account for ap-

proximately one-quarter to nearly onethird of total economic activity, an Office of Nightlife is essentially a necessity. Identifying the full scope of the overall economic contribution and financial impact generated by the late-night portion of an 18-hour economy should be among the first tasks. The primary component of the eveningside economy – restaurants, bars, nightclubs, entertainment and performance venues of all sizes and types – comprise the largest hometown private sector business segment. These businesses are major employers and primary tax revenue contributors additionally responsible for making the District an attractive lifestyle destination and spurring population growth. The modest cost of an Office of Nightlife is fully justified by the city’s substantial dependence on the nightlife economy from all nighttime enterprise sectors for its fiscal health, financial stability, and cultural vitality. Most important is that D.C. legislators do it right. Informally referred to as “nightlife mayors” or “nighttime czars,” these agencylike offices are often created to either address specific problems or encourage nighttime activity. The opportunity for D.C.’s already assertively regulated, responsibly operated, economically robust, well-regarded and world-class nightlife scene is defined by a more sophisticated

context. Lessons from other cities point to a singular factor in set-up and purpose. An Office of Nightlife functions best as an independent and autonomous entity best able to interact with, and report and make recommendations to, the Council and mayor as well as the plethora of city agencies relevant to the nighttime economy. Staff should work closely with an “advisory council” composed of stakeholder group and city agency leadership, with sufficient business representation, but not be “governed” by a five-member “commission” as proposed. There need to be sufficient seats at the table for broadbased input and beneficial guidance, but an Office of Nightlife is best tasked with developing a long-range vision based on a broad perspective not defined by narrow or parochial interests. Above all else, an Office of Nightlife should be envisioned as a resource, not a redundancy. Specifically not designated to handle licensing approvals or adjudicate individual regulatory matters, it should likewise not be reduced to duplicative compliance and enforcement tasks the responsibility of multiple agencies. The focus should be through a wide lens providing a comprehensive macro view. Identifying and reducing licensing and regulatory barriers to entry for independent enterprise and innovative entre-

preneurs should be a primary objective. Ensuring that licensing protocols and regulatory requirements are rational and sensible, serve a compelling purpose, and are conducted within an expeditious timeframe is critical. D.C. enjoys national distinction for a nightlife environment and nighttime enterprise overwhelmingly comprised of independent local small businesses. Preserving and protecting this unique characteristic and community asset must be the mission. Residents desire dining, socializing, and entertainment venues close to home in livable and walkable neighborhoods that are vibrant, appealing, and with nighttime activity fostering safer communities. Continued successful integration of mostly moderate-sized and commonly multi-activity nighttime establishments in residential areas, the fastest growing and most popular of local hospitality, presents manageable challenges. Accessible technical resources such as noise mitigation design and coordinated government planning in streetscape and transportation management, public safety, and similar strategic solutions are required. D.C. offers residents, neighbors, and visitors acclaimed nightlife amenities and modern nighttime environs. The city deserves an Office of Nightlife structured and sanctioned to support and sustain that achievement.


A Canadian apology for the U.S. to emulate Addressing homophobia with honorable discharges and pardons By MALCOLM LAZIN Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized for the harm caused by the “gay purge” to their federal government employees. The purge was based on the theory that gays and lesbians were vulnerable to blackmail even though there was no documented case of a Canadian gay or lesbian blackmailed by the Soviet Union or any other country. From the late 1950s to 1992, tens of thousands of Canadian gay and lesbian federal employees were discharged or assigned menial jobs. After his apology, the government announced it would pay $110 million in reparations to compensate victims. The Canadian gay purge was encouraged by U.S. intelligence agencies. In April 1953, one of Dwight Eisenhower’s first acts was to sign Executive Order 10450. It pro-

hibited the federal government from employing “sexual perverts” in any military or civilian job. The order comported with prevailing societal attitudes. Homosexual acts were criminalized. In 1952, homosexuality was listed as a sociopathic personality disturbance in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Treatments included chemical castration, electric shock therapy, mental institutionalization and lobotomies. In the nation’s capital, Lt. Roy Blick headed the D.C. Police’s Pervert Elimination Squad with four men assigned to detect and arrest homosexuals. In early 1950, Blick opined to a congressional committee that, “There are 3,750 perverts employed by government agencies.” The Office of Naval Intelligence reported that the number was 7,859. In response, the Senate set up a subcommittee. The New York Times reported “Pervert Inquiry Ordered.” The State Department, Civil Service Commission, intelligence agencies, and FBI collaborated in the purge. By November 1950, 500 federal employees in D.C. and across the nation had been fired or

forced to resign. By the mid-1950s, tens of thousands of people lost their jobs, of which many had nothing to do with national security. The homosexual ban spilled over to defense and other federal government contractors. Private employers hired companies such as Fidelifacts to provide sexual orientation information on hires and current employees. Gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny led the counterattack. In July 1975, 22 years after Eisenhower’s executive order, the Civil Service Commission removed homosexuality as a bar to civilian federal government employment. Fifty-seven years later, President Obama signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In fall 2011, gays and lesbians were allowed to serve openly in the military. Between WWII and the repeal, it is estimated that more than 100,000 gays and lesbians were dishonorably discharged or forced to leave military service. At the 1972 American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meeting, gay rights pioneers Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings and psychiatrist John Fryer served on a homosexuality panel. Because he could

lose his licensure if known as a homosexual, Fryer used the name Dr. H. Anonymous and hid his identity with a mask and voice modulator. Fryer’s testimony was galvanizing. The APA promptly established a study committee. At the 1973 APA annual meeting, homosexuality was removed from the DSM. Prime Minister Trudeau introduced legislation that would expunge “unjust convictions” of those charged criminalizing same-sex intimacy. Canada follows in the footsteps of the United Kingdom, which through its Prime Minister and Queen, apologized, and expunged those convicted of homosexuality. From the 1950s to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in 2011, well over 150,000 American gays and lesbians were fired or forced to leave federal government employment. Hopefully, the United States will follow England’s and Canada’s lead in addressing the effects of governmental homophobia with apology, honorable discharges, and pardons. MALCOLM LAZIN is executive director of the Equality Forum, a national and international LGBT civil rights organization with an educational focus.


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It’s easier to fire media figures than politicians Voters must demand more of our leaders

PETER ROSENSTEIN is a D.C.-based LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

Some question why if it’s so easy to fire guys like Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose we can’t do the same and clean the house of our politicians. Chuck Todd questioned that recently and it shocked me he seemed not to understand the difference. Harvey Weinstein, Lauer, Rose and others nearly all have contracts with a morals clause and one boss who can say, “You’re fired.” They might litigate pay, but they are out of a job. Politicians on the other hand work for a lot of bosses — the voters. We hire them and in nearly every case it is left to us to fire them by voting them out of office.

It boggles the mind 62,984,825 people actually voted for the sleaze bucket now in the White House. They heard what he said about grabbing pussy and what he felt entitled to do. They heard at least 11 women accuse him of inappropriate conduct; heard the stories of his walking in on Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA contestants while they were undressed yet still cast a ballot for him. So ridding ourselves of disgusting politicians and determining what is morally acceptable behavior to voters is very much a question yet to be answered. We will know on Dec. 12 what is acceptable to the voters of Alabama. Their Republican governor, a woman, has said she believes the woman who said Roy Moore molested her when she was 14 yet said she will still vote for him. The debate goes beyond what voters will do to what political parties will do. Will they sanction someone like Moore to be their candidate? Will they try to kick him off a ballot once they hear charges against him? The Republican Party in Alabama said no. The president has urged people to vote for him. What is acceptable behavior shouldn’t be based on political party.

Once someone is elected to Congress it is very difficult to do much about them if they won’t agree to resign. Article 1 Section 2 Clause 2 of the Constitution allows for a Congressperson or Senator to be removed if they don’t meet the constitutional requirements for office. Those are basic requirements of age, length of citizenship and being an inhabitant of the district or state from which they are elected. There is no morals clause in the Constitution or for that matter any education or other requirement to serve. Interestingly, after the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment added an additional stipulation, which states, “No one may seek federal elected office if they engaged in rebellion against the U.S.” Article 1 Section 5 of the Constitution provides that each house of Congress may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.” Accordingly, both the Senate and House of Representatives have set their own guidelines for punishment and expulsion, which almost never happens. In the history of the Senate there have been only

20 expulsions and only one, Sen. William Blount of Tennessee who was expelled for treason, was for reasons other than supporting the confederacy. The most recent case that drew a recommendation for expulsion from the Senate from the Ethics Committee was in 1995 when Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon resigned due to sexual misconduct and his attempts to enrich himself through his official position. The most recent case of a vote and expulsion from the House was in 1980 when Rep. Michael Myers of Pennsylvania was expelled for bribes in connection with the Abscam scandal. In 2002, Rep. Jim Traficant of Ohio was expelled after he was convicted on numerous counts of bribery, racketeering and tax evasion. So the reality we face is it will be up to society and voters to make the decision on what they will accept from their politicians with regard to their moral behavior, including sexual harassment and inappropriate acts. Let’s hope we turn a new leaf and demand equality for women. That we will not elect individuals to represent us who don’t live up to a much higher set of standards than they have in the past. Electing more women would help.

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Gay gifts galore Cutesy, clever, gifty or sexy, here are some off-the-beaten-path ideas By MIKEY ROX Gay ol’ St. Nick delivers the goods to LGBT people of all ages and sensibilities with this comprehensive gift guide designed to please every persuasion. (And because it wouldn’t be Christmas without dick cookies.) EcoReco E-Scooter Elliot Havoc Racer Chronograph Watch

Commuters and students alike will appreciate this environmentally safe electric scooter that charges in a standard AC outlet, hits the road at up to 20 miles per hour for 10-20 miles on a single charge, and folds down quickly and easily into a compact and lightweight means of save-theplanet transportation. $799, ecorecoscooter.com

Designed in gay-mecca Golden Gate City, the chronograph watch from Elliot Havok — shown here in festive green with Italian leather straps — features Miyota Japanese JS15 movement, a sapphire glass face and enough style cred that you can forgo the gift receipt. $199, elliothavok.com

ONEHOPE Pride Box Gay newlyweds will cherish the sentiment and enjoy the bubbly in this prideful gift box featuring ONEHOPE California Sparkling Brut Rainbow Glitter Edition, a Supreme Court Ruling card by Emily McDowell, rainbow disco ball bottlenecker and confetti push-pop in a white gift box. Every two gift sets funds one hour of operational costs for the Trevor Project’s lifeline helpline that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT youth. $99, onehopewine.com

Petite Diamond Snowflake Necklace Sixty-one shimmering diamonds set in a snowflake of 14 karat white gold takes the liberal politics your girlfriend wears on her proverbial sleeve and puts them squarely on her chest. A badge of honor, indeed. $495, bahdos.com

Fanchest Deck out your special sports fan in head-to-toe spirit for their favorite team with a Fanchest filled with everything they’ll need for a next-level game day. Each box is different but chests often include shirts, hats, scarves, cups and more officially licensed swag from NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB or college teams. Autographed memorabilia boxes also are available. $59-299, fanchest.com

Slumbr Pillows Slumbr’s online Pillow Quiz will help determine which luxurious pillows suit each sleeper — take it on your partner’s behalf so you don’t ruin the surprise. But rest assured you’ll both sleep better as visions of go-go boys dance in your heads. $60225, slumbr.com

BucknBear Small Abalone Knife Vibrant iridescent abalone handles flank a gorgeous VG10 core Damascus steel blade, which resembles a beach shoreline, to create this allpurpose pocketknife that avid outdoorsmen and lesbians will go gaga over. $89, urbanedcsupply. com

Astro Fi Wi-Fi Connected Telescope

Genital-Shaped Cookie Cutters Gay sex positions and detailed human genitalia — veins and all, y’all — turn sugar-spiked dough into never-more-than-a-mouthful cookies lifted straight from the Kama Sutra. Perfect for the church bake sale. $9-12, etsy.com/au/shop/bakerlogy

Your gay niece or nephew (don’t we all have one by now?) can shoot for the stars (or at least gaze at them) with the Astro Fi Wi-Fi Connected Telescope that throws the live night sky onto a phone or tablet for easy exploration of the cosmos. $400, thegrommet.com




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Speaker doc, beverage carrier among hot 2017 items Frank Lloyd Wright Porcelain Box Gold-trimmed and limited edition (only 1,500 numbered pieces exist) this porcelain-lidded catchall features one of Wright’s Liberty magazine cover designs with a quote on the inside as a daily reminder to put your best gay foot forward. $80, shopwright.org

Wine Explorer by Vinome After receiving their Helix-sequenced DNA results, recipients can head to the Vinome website to discover curated wine recommendations tailored to their taste preferences and scientifically selected based on their genetic makeup to add an exciting new element to boozy halfprice-bottle nights. $110, helix.com

Epson Home Cinema 2100 Screen movies up to 11-feet wide — that’s four times the size of a 60-inch flat panel TV — with this home projector featuring full HD resolution, 1.6x zoom, and a builtin 10 W speaker that’ll make your Netflixand-chill routine feel like a second-run matinee. Popcorn trick encouraged. $650, epson.com

Hestan Cue Induction Cooking System This smart pan and induction burner with embedded Bluetooth sensors brings amateur kitchen skills into the 21st century so you and boo can home-cook like the tuned-in Millennials you can’t stop telling everybody you are. $500, hestancue.com

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Rocabi Weighted Blanket Cut back on your Advil PM and Xanax nightcaps with all-the-rage adult weighted blankets that studies have found to help alleviate anxiety and insomnia. $209-279, rocabi.com

Explore the constellations of his nether region while he’s lounging in these hypnotic, cosmic statement joggers that you can’t take your eyes off of. $60, intotheam.com

Kevin Messenger Beverage Carrier Don’t let this bag fool you: The only message it’s sending is how to get day drunk on three liters of insulated wine, beer or premade cocktail — and look dapper doing it. $75, vivajennz.com

Seersucker Martini Belt Iridescent Universe Joggers

Reminiscent of the iconic Victrola phonograph, this handcrafted acoustic horn updates turn-ofthe-century design to produce a sleek, electricity-free speaker to amplify smartphone playlists that would make Edison cream his pants. $130-160, symphonicasound.com

Hand-stitched and made to order, the martini needlepoint belt from Brewster Belt Co. adds a twist of whimsy to casual Fridays while reinforcing the comforting reality that it’s always 5 p.m. somewhere. Also available in a San Francisco landscape design prominently featuring the rainbow pride flag. $165-175, brewsterbelt.com

Happier Camper Hitch vintage-inspired Happier Camper — outfitted with modern amenities, like the Adaptiv modular interior, USB ports and other custom components — to the back of most vehicles for all-the-time hook-up-and-go getaways guaranteed to renew a zest for adventure. $18,950-and-up, happiercamper.com

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He splits his time between homes in New York City and the Jersey Shore with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.

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‘Tom of Finland,’ from director DOME KARUKOSKI, tells the story of Finland’s infamous homoerotic export. PHOTO COURTESY PROTAGONIST PICTURES

Straight director takes on Tom of Finland Telling the story of country’s infamous homoerotic export By MICHAEL JORTNER I’m speaking with Finnish film director Dome Karukoski via phone. He’s in Europe shooting his new project, a biopic of “Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien. “I’m in England,” he says. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell anything about that project other than that.” Luckily for us, “Tom of Finland,” his recently completed feature telling the story of Finland’s infamous homoerotic export, is a lot more accessible. Finland’s entry for the 2018 Academy Awards, having screened at Outfest this past July, premiered in major cities in October but opens in Washington today (Friday, Dec. 8) at Landmark E Street

Cinema (555 11th St., N.W.). The film is good — strong Finnish cast, traditional three-act structure, beautiful cinematography and some strong dialogue. When was the last time you heard a character declare, “My cock is the boss?” Karukoski has always felt like he doesn’t quite belong. It’s a theme tying his oeuvre of seven feature films together. Yes, seven. And he’s only 40. “I’ve always done films about people who are longing to find a home, either spiritual or a complete home,” Karukoski says. “A lot of my characters have been outsiders.” Born on the island of Cyprus, he grew up in Finland. “I became bullied because I

was an outsider. I traveled and I try to find a home, (but) it doesn’t really help when you travel 200 days a year.” Touko Laaksonen (aka Tom of Finland) fought mightily for a home to call his own. He found it in the hills of Echo Park. Karukoski’s film uses the contrast of dim white light in Helsinki with that of sunny LA to accentuate the point. “How did Tom feel arriving in L.A. in the late ‘70s?” Karukoski wondered. “We wanted to portray (the) feelings that he’s actually arriving into (a) movie worldslash-utopia.” “That must have felt like liberation for him because his community had to

hide in Finland.” The Nordic nation “was a really dark place at that time. It wasn’t legal to be gay until 1971.” S.R. Sharp is vice president at the Tom of Finland Foundation. He and his “kinda like my boyfriend” Dirk Dahner run what can only be called the largest and most passionate fan club for the erotic artist in the world. “We’re collaborators on the film,” Sharp says. “We went with a Finnish production company for obvious reasons.” In some ways, Tom of Finland, like the artist himself, is the latest example of a CONTINUES ON PAGE 33


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Q U E E RY : 2 0 Q U E ST I O N S F O R P A U L H E I N S


By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com Things are booming and bustling for GenOUT, the youth chorus formed in 2015 as an outgrowth of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. In September, Paul Heins, its conductor, left his teaching job to go full time with the chorus. The group maintains a busy performing schedule having sung recently at the Walk to End HIV, the SMYAL Fall Brunch and more. Next up is their part in the annual Gay Men’s Chorus Holiday Show that kicks off this weekend (performances are Dec. 9, two on Dec. 16 and one on Dec. 17; details at gmcw.org). GenOUT, open to all young people 13-18 but mostly LGBT, will join the chorus for two songs and sing two others on their own — “Shoulda Been a North Pole Elf” and “Mid-Winter.” The 17 GenOUT members rehearse weekly and represent 13 schools in the area. Almost 50 out teens have sung with the chorus since it began. “We have come a long way in the past decade,” Heins says, “but as long as kids are still being bullied … as long as 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, as long as the suicide rate for LGBT youth remains perilously high, as long as we continue to fight battles for basic rights and recognition, then GenOUT will be here as a place for kids to be celebrated for whom they are.” Heins, a D.C.-area native, returned to the region in 1996 after college. He’s been involved with choirs since high school when he was an accompanist and rehearsal pianist. He joined the Gay Men’s Chorus in 2014 after many years with the now-defunct Lesbian & Gay Chorus of Washington. He completed his doctorate in choral conducting in 2014. Heins, 44, lives with husband Matthew DelNero on 16th Street. He enjoys reading about ships, running and playing piano in his free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came out when I was 21. The hardest person to tell was my mother because she had never suspected and the news was very difficult for her. Who’s your LGBT hero? American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981). He and his partner, fellow composer Gian Carlo Menotti, worked together to create “Vanessa,” one of the most beautiful operas of the 20th century and winner of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize. What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? I’m old enough to remember Badlands, at 22nd and P, N.W. It had a great dance

floor, plus an upstairs area with karaoke hosted by wonderful drag hostesses and a back bar with music videos. Describe your dream wedding. It’s really the people who make a wedding a “dream wedding.” We were blessed to have so many friends and family members at our wedding in 2010, some of whom are no longer with us (like my Aunt Mary, who passed away earlier this year). What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? The lack of voting representation in Congress for the 681,00-plus citizens of the District of Columbia is an appalling embarrassment to me.

What historical outcome would you change? Without a doubt, the presidential election of 2016. I am genuinely afraid of the damage the current administration is doing to our environment, to our civil rights and to our standing among the community of nations. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? On our Southern Equality Tour last summer when the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington sang at the Knoxville, Tenn., Pride Festival. As we departed, we noticed a group of protesters picketing at the entrance gate, holding up huge signs with hateful messages against LGBT people. Our Artistic Director Thea Kano stopped the buses and led us across the street to meet the protesters. We encircled them, held hands and sang to them. I will never forget that experience. On what do you insist? I work hard and take on a lot of responsibilities. I expect that when someone else takes on a job that intersects with mine that he/she/they will devote an equal amount of hard work and thoughtfulness as I do. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? On Facebook, I shared a link to a petition asking for increased funding to help school-age kids who are battling depression. Sadly, this petition was written in response to the suicide death of a young person at a local school. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “No More Empty Yesterdays” If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Nothing to change my own orientation. Who I am is significantly influenced by my being gay. What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I have believed in God all my life and was brought up a church-goer. Although my faith has been tested over the years, I draw strength from the community of believers. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Stay connected: to your community and to the world at large, to youth voices and to history, to what is possible and to what the loftiest dreams are. What would you walk across hot coals for? To have a conversation with politicians that actually changes hearts and minds. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That our most meaningful contributions to conversation are about pop culture and fashion. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? On oldie but goodie is “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” What’s the most overrated social custom? I’m old-fashioned, so there are few social customs that I think are overrated and quite a few I think are under-valued or ignored, especially a written thank-you note. What trophy or prize do you most covet? In 2016, the GenOUT Chorus sang at the White House for President Obama’s LGBT reception. I have a beautiful photo of us from that event, standing with the president in the Blue Room. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That there were more choices in life and that it’s valuable to try as many as possible. Why Washington? The Washington area was my first home. It’s a place where I can be my authentic self and where I easily found a community that shared my values and respected my beliefs.



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Straight to the heart of Tom of Finland And the Oscar for best foreign film goes to... By MICHAEL JORTNER Director Dome Karukoski’s Tom of Finland is Finland’s entry into the 2018 Academy Awards and all of the film’s participants know what they are doing. But what is perhaps most surprising about this story of Touko Laaksonen, the decorated World War II officer-turnedinfamous queer illustrator, is how tame it feels, almost genteel. The film allows everyone, in the way PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre does, to settle in for a good ride, allowing the story to transport them to another place and time in that familiar costume drama way. Quite an achievement considering the main character is a gay man having illicit public sex living in a repressive, ice-cold country. Not to mention that his way of coping is to draw provocative, overtly sexual man-on-man imagery that, should it be discovered, would get him tossed into prison. Still, even within its traditional threeact structure cocoon, there is much that is not your grandparent’s common foray into international cinema. When was the last time you heard dialogue like this: “My cock is the boss.” “Yellow curtains are for sissies.” “It seems Finland has bigger cocks.” Yet the script also makes the most of subtext, in a way many films set in contemporary times do not, with characters confessing their feelings as easily as posting to Facebook. In Tom, conversations take place in Europe of the 1940s and 50s when even two women kissing, a character declares, is illegal. Therefore, choice morsels of sexual metaphor such as these greet our ears: “I’m here for the pheasant hunting.” “I shined my boots.” “You’ll have to come over for poker.” Karukoski, 40, who is straight, has made six feature films prior to Tom of Finland – and is currently shooting the new film about Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien – includes much poetry in telling Touko/Tom’s story. Numerous visual metaphors raise the picture above the level of a standard biopic. There is a moment when a relationship ends. Rather than giving us a soap opera bedside confession, we are shown two pieces of ice breaking apart on the surface of a pond. Beautiful. And earlier in the film those “sissy” yellow curtains figure into the tale in such a tender way,


PEKKA STRANG portrays Touko Laaksonen in his journey from a Finnish youth fighting for his country to internationally celebrated artist and liberator of gay male sexuality.

I’m not sure I’ll ever look at curtains the same way again. Pekka Strang, who is not gay, plays Touko with a quiet, graceful power that is completely believable. He finds the soul of the main character, communicating his struggles without melodrama. His Touko, though conflicted, hurt and brutalized, is without shame. There’s a scene where a visit to the men’s room, promising a sexual encounter, goes south unexpectedly. A security guard says he’ll ban him from the club for a month, yet Touko replies, “Why don’t you make it for life?” While the next scene shows Touko in bed, clearly depressed by his status in Finnish society, he doesn’t allow prejudice and discrimination to keep him down. In phone interviews with Karukoski and Strang, both said they see Touko as a hero for this reason. He fought back, not just as a war hero, but also as an artist. Supporting performances are also terrific. Jessica Grabowsky, as Touko’s sister Kaija, and Lauri Tilkanen, as Nipa, one of Touko’s sexual conquests and eventually his lover, stand out. Poor Kaija, a looker of a gal behind her glasses, she just doesn’t believe it; a talented artist, she doesn’t allow praise. Always struggling to live life to the fullest, Grabowsky allows us to feel pity for Kaija without hating her. In her most poignant moment, Kaija rolls down a grassy knoll hoping her lover will follow. Allowing herself a moment of joy, she giggles, feeling the midsummer sun on her skin before realizing the truth. Grabowsky’s choices are, like Strang’s, quiet, still and heartfelt. � CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM


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Gender circa 1900 New book explores how some trans men lived a century ago

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men had and continued in order to avoid embarrassment for their new wives. In many cases that Skidmore found, those

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琀甀攀猀搀愀 礀猀 ㄀⼀㈀ 瀀爀椀挀攀 氀漀挀欀攀爀猀 ☀ 爀漀漀洀猀 㠀 愀洀 ⴀ 洀椀搀渀椀最栀琀

TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER has been reading since she was 3 years old. She lives in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books. Reach her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

猀愀 琀甀爀搀愀 礀猀 最爀愀戀 愀 ␀㔀 漀昀昀 挀愀爀搀 愀琀 吀刀䄀䐀䔀 昀愀挀攀戀漀漀欀⸀挀漀洀⼀琀栀攀挀爀攀眀挀氀甀戀

㄀㌀㈀㄀ ㄀㐀琀栀 猀琀 一圀


‘TRUE SEX: THE LIVES OF TRANS MEN AT THE TURN OF THE 20TH CENTURY’ By Emily Skidmore New York University Press $27 253 pages




reasons were no matter to neighbors. But intolerance was never far away. When one considers the attitudes toward LGBT individuals pre-Stonewall, it’s quite eye-opening to know that tolerance was practiced well before discrimination was. It gives you more respect for your elders; and yet, as you’ll see in “True Sex,” laissez faire attitudes weren’t widespread. Using the tales of many trans men, as garnered from newspaper accounts of the day, author Emily Skidmore shows how small-town residents around the turn of the last century viewed trans men and, at the same time, women who loved women. Not only are those stories fascinating, but they contain a certain quaintness that belies what’s between the lines: the newspapers had a lot to say, but there was an equal amount that they didn’t say but that readers, Skidmore believes, surely implicitly understood. This book veers off into the scholarly now and then, but even so, it’s readable by anyone who’s interested in this history.


Always be yourself. Pretty much since grade school, that’s what you’ve been told. Take a breath and you do you. People like you the way you are. You don’t have to try to be someone you’re not. Although, as you‘ll see in “True Sex” by Emily Skidmore, that may’ve caused gossip a century ago. In 1902, women in the United States could not legally vote. Many couldn’t hold property or get credit and joining the military was likewise forbidden. None of that was a concern to Harry Gorman, though: well-travelled, adventuresome and married, Gorman lived in Buffalo, N.Y., where he was known as a good man. Except he wasn’t. Gorman was anatomically a woman. Surely, that came as a surprise to doctors, jailers and undertakers who discovered the secrets of Gorman and men like him but here, Skidmore says that the opposite is true of everyday folks: as evidenced by articles in many small-town newspapers, locals often knew the “true sex” of trans men in their midst and didn’t seem to much care. Many trans men in the late 1800s and early 1900s, says Skidmore, married, perhaps to cement their appearance as “‘good men’ to their communities.” Once discovered, they were often known in the press as “female husbands” because the term “lesbians” hadn’t taken hold yet and, at that time, women were largely believed to be asexual or unable to be passionate. Even so, though titillated, small-town Americans then weren’t quite as naïve as we might think they were. Perhaps because the science of sexology was still in its infancy and words were lacking, many of the men explained their actions as a way to make a living or because it was more comfortable to dress and live as a man. Some didn’t explain at all, while others said they lived as men to take advantage of the rights



Family, a funeral, and an uncertain future—a gently comic play about the ties we use to bind ourselves to others.

202.332.3300 | STUDIOTHEATRE.ORG


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E-mail calendar items to calendars@washblade. com two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is given to LGBT-specific events or those with LGBT participants. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.

TUESDAY, DEC. 12 The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts a coming-out discussion group tonight at 7 p.m. The peer-facilitated group will lead discussions on coming out experiences, struggles and victories. All are welcome to join. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

TODAY Human Rights Campaign hosts its annual “Holiday Celebration: Ugly Sweater Edition” at Ten Tigers Parlour (3813 Georgia Ave., N.W.) tonight at 9 p.m. Guests can enjoy an ugly sweater contest, dancing, music and more. There will also be an on-site donation drive to benefit Casa Ruby. Guests who bring donation items will receive $1 off drinks for the first hour. Advance tickets are $10 and $15 at the door. Ticket includes admission and an annual HRC membership or membership renewal. For more details, visit facebook. com/hrcgreaterwashingtondc. Leatherman of Color hosts its 2017 contest at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) today through Sunday. Today from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. there will be a meet and greet and fundraiser. On Saturday, there Leatherman of Color Contest takes place from 7-9 p.m. with categories including Bar Wear, Hot Jock/Physiquewith pop question and Formal Leather. On Sunday, there will be a victory celebration at a to-be-announced time. For more information, visit facebook.com/loc2017. Darlene Love presents “A Darlene Love Christmas: Love for the Holidays” at the Howard Theatre (620 T St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $4585. Doors open at 6 p.m. For more details, visit thehowardtheatre.com. Indie band Shaed performs with Foreign Air at Rock and Roll Hotel (1353 H St., N.E.) tonight at 8 p.m. Shaed features out instrumentalist Max Ernst, his twin brother instrumentalist Spencer and vocalist Chelsea Lee. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. For more information, visit rockandrollhoteldc.com. Women in Their 20s, a social discussion group for LBT and all women interested in women, meets today at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) from 8-9:30 p.m. All welcome to join. For details, visit thedccenter.org. Gamma D.C., a support group for men in mixed-orientation relationships, meets at Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave., N.W.) today from 7:309:30 p.m. The group is for men who are attracted to men but are currently, or were at one point, in relationships with women. Meeting locations are in private residences. For more information about the group and location, visit gammaindc.org.

are $25. For more information, search “La Fantasy” on Facebook. Distrkt C hosts Dirty Santa, a holiday party, at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) tonight from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. DJ Ed Wood will spin tracks all night. There will be $5,000 in ticket giveaways for New Years and Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend. Advanced tickets are $25. Tickets at the door are $20 before 11 p.m. for guests dressed as Dirty Santas. Before midnight tickets are $30 and $40 after midnight. For more details, visit distrktc.com. In Series presents “An Operetta Holiday” at GALA Hispanic Theatre (3333 14th St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. The show features out director and writer Nick Olcott, and out castmembers Cornelius “CJ” David and Garrett Matthews. Tickets range from $22-45. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit inseries.org. Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club (1103 Bladensburg Rd., N.E.) hosts Phunked Up, an LGBT-friendly dance party, tonight from 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m. DJ Keenan Orr, DJ Adrian Collazo, DJ Say What and DJ StrikeStone will play music. No cover. For more details, visit facebook. com/keenanorrdc.



La Fantasy hosts its Naughty or Nice Underwear Party, a day party, at Living Room D.C. (1008 Vermont Ave., N.W.) today from 1-7 p.m. DJ Obra Primitiva and DJ Paulo Fragoso will play music. Tickets

Shi-Queeta-Lee presents “Salute to the Divas”, a celebrity impersonation drag show, at Chateau Remix Event Center (3439 Benning Rd., N.E.) today at 7:30 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. General



DARLENE LOVE brings her holiday show to the Howard on Friday, Dec. 8.

admission is $30. VIP admission is $45 and includes 5:30 p.m. entry and a drag waitress to serve you. For more details, visit facebook.com/salutetothedivas. Special Agent Galactica hosts a brunch “Blast Off” variety show at French Quarter Brasserie (1544 9th St., N.W.) today from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Admission is free. Tables are available upstairs for the performance on a first-come, firstserved basis. For more information, visit facebook.com/specialagentgalactica. Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company presents the world premiere of “I Am Vertical,” a dance inspired by the Portrait Gallery exhibit “One Life: Sylvia Plath,” at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (8th St., and F St., N.W.) today at 2 and 4 p.m. For more details, visit dtsbdc.org. Gay Women of Rehoboth have coffee and conversation today at 10 a.m. at Java Jukebox (37169 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.). Look for the group on Facebook for details.

MONDAY, DEC. 11 The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Lez Read meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Politics & Prose (5015 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) to discuss “Annie on My Mind” by Nancy Gardent. Look for the group on Facebook for details. The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts OutWrite Writing Workhop: POV with Jon Copenhaver, author of “Dodging and Burning,” tonight from 7-9 p.m. Copenhaver will discuss the importance of writing point of view for a piece. Admission is free but registration is required. For more details, visit thedccenter.org. Prime Timers of D.C., a social group for mature gay men, meets at Windows above Dupont Italian Kitchen (1637 17th St., N.W.) tonight at 6:30 p.m. for cocktails. The group will eat dinner at 7 p.m. For more information, visit primetimersdc.org. Big Gay Book Group meets at Trio Restaurant (1537 17th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss “When We Rise: My Life in the Movement” by Cleve Jones. For more details, visit biggaybookgroup.com or email biggaybookgroup@hotmail.com. Suns Cinema (3107 Mount Pleasant St., N.W.) hosts Sleigh Bells and Bombshells tonight from 8 p.m.-midnight. At 8 p.m. there will be a screening of “The Anna Nicole Christmas Special” followed by a drag show by Jane Saw and Donna Slash at 9 p.m. At 9:15 p.m. there will be a screening of “Batman Returns.” Tickets are $10. PBR/Overholt drink combos will be $6 all night. Guests with the trashiest holiday looks will receive drink tickets. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, search “Suns Cinema” on Facebook.

THURSDAY, DEC. 14 Lesbians Who Tech and allies offer speed mentoring tonight at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) from 5-9 p.m. Look for the group on Facebook for details. Georgetown hosts Glow All Night, a night of shopping and dining, this evening from 5-9 p.m. More than 50 of Georgetown’s retailers and small businesses will be open late and offering in-store promotions, pop-up events, collection launches, giveaways and more. Guests can take their picture with Fashion Santa, a handsome version of the traditional Santa Clause, take free pedicab rides in the area, listen to indie holiday carolers and more. For a complete list of participating retailers and promotions, visit georgetowndc.com/glowallnight.



DE C E M B E R 08, 2017 • 31

“A PARIS TO SWOON FOR!” —The Washington Post


MASHUQ MUSHTAQ DEEN in ‘Draw the Circle,’ a one-person show told through the dialogue of many characters.

Finding his own voice Muslim-trans experience explored in compelling one-man show By PATRICK FOLLIARD In his one-person show “Draw the Circle,” Mashuq Mushtaq Deen recounts his real-life transition from female to male. Transitioning is never an uncomplicated journey, but in Deen’s tight-knit Muslim American family, it’s especially tricky. Written and performed by Deen, the enthralling 80-minute play now at Mosaic Theater Company is performed on a raised stage that’s completely bare except for a plain hardback white chair and, of course, Deen, a stocky, balding, bearded man in early middle age wearing a T-shirt and jeans. He wastes no time slipping in and out myriad characters comprised of family, friends and doctors who tell us about Deen from his teenage years as Shereen to the near present. It’s masterful storytelling that gives both a full sense of the subject and Deen’s wide range as a performer. His rocky tale unfolds through the eyes of others but never from Deen directly. High school Shereen is bright and butch. She comes out as a lesbian. She shaves her heads and becomes a cutter. There’s a near suicide attempt in a lonely motel room and a yearlong stay in a private institution. For Shereen’s Indian immigrant parents (retired Daddy and hardworking pediatrician Mommy) every derivation from the good girl Muslim course is one more tragedy. Her jovial finger-waving father and embittered mother have life mapped out for their only daughter: education, good job, marriage and children. Mommy has longed to one day see Shereen in her red wedding sari. That isn’t happening. Along with Shereen’s refusal to look and act like the traditional young woman comes great shame, pain and unhappiness for Deen’s mother, prompting limited interaction with their Muslim friends here and with family

back in India. But Mommy’s feelings run deeper than appearances. In a poignant moment she explains that Muslim culture calls for a daughter to wash her mother’s body before burial. Seeing her daughter change into to man, Mommy realizes she will not have that. Deen’s writing is informative and funny without a hint of preachiness. And director Chay Yew keeps it light without denying the work’s importance. Yew, perhaps best known for writing gay-themed plays including. “Porcelain” (1992) about a young gay Asian man who has confessed to shooting his lover in a public lavatory in London, and “A Language of Their Own” (1995) which chronicles gay Asian love in the age of AIDS, is the perfect complement to the material. We learn most about Deen through his patient partner Molly. When they first meet, Deen is still Shereen. As they get to know each other better, Deen asks Molly if she’d still love him if his voice became gravelly and his body hairy. She’s initially confused but then understands. Life continues. Shereen changes pronouns, earns a graduate degree in theater, travels, takes hormones and ultimately goes for top surgery. The closest we come to hearing directly from Deen is when Molly reads a poem from Deen to his mother about normalization of their relationship and yearning to return to a place before complications existed. Though over the years they experience periods of separation, they are never permanently estranged. Mommy describes Deen as “half-woman and half man but always our daughter.” The play ends with Deen standing shirtless center stage backed by a projected list of names of transgender people who met untimely tragic deaths. It’s a powerful image. ‘DRAW THE CIRCLE’ Through Dec. 24 Mosaic Theater Company Atlas Performing Arts Center 1333 H St., N.E. $20-65 202-399-7993, ext. 2 mosaictheater.org




CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON Illustration: Don Oehl; Logo: Esther Wu

December 12–January 7 | Opera House TICKETS ON SALE NOW! KENNEDY-CENTER.ORG | (202) 467-4600 Tickets also available at the Box Office. Groups call (202) 416-8400. For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540.

Theater at the Kennedy Center is made possible by

Major support for Musical Theater at the Kennedy Center is provided by

Kennedy Center Theater Season Sponsor

Additional support is provided by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley.


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O U T & A BO U T



Holidazed party is Dec. 16 at Town Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Pop Off: Holidazed, a holiday party, on Saturday, Dec. 16 from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. DJ Chord Bezarra will spin holiday dance tracks all night. DJ Wess will play music and video downstairs. Drag show starts at 10:30 p.m. Cover is $15 from 10-midnight and $12 after midnight. For more information, visit towndc.com.


Raunchy fun with John Waters John Waters brings his annual holiday show “A John Waters Christmas” to the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. The one-man show tackles humorous Christmas questions like “Has Santa ever been nude?” and “Is Prancer the only gay reindeer?” Waters has performed the annual stand-up show for 13 years and adds new material each year. Tickets are $55. For more information, visit birchmere.com.

Red-Themed Toy Drive is Dec. 19


First Baptist to present Christmas concert The First Baptist Church of Washington, an LGBT-affirming local church, will have its 60th annual Christmas Candlelight Carols service on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. under the direction of organist and choirmaster Lon Schreiber. The church is at 1328 16th St., N.W. and is known for its series of organ recitals featuring internationally known virtuosos. It’s free and open to the public. Details at firstbaptistdc.org.

Impulse D.C. presents Walter Lundy’s seventh annual Red-Themed Toy Drive Party at Eighteenth Street Lounge (1212 18th St., N.W.) on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. There will be an open bar and and a soul food buffet. Admission is free but guests are asked to wear red and bring unwrapped toys. The toys will be donated to vulnerable and underserved children and families in the local community. Lundy is a local gay philanthropist. For more details, visit facebook.com/ impulsegroupdc.



D E CE MBE R 0 8 , 2 0 1 7 • 3 3

Dome Karukoski helms Tom of Finland biopic CONTINUED FROM PAGE 25

fabulous Finnish export. “Tom humbly admitted before he died,” Sharp says, that “he had a global recognition in the queer community, but he didn’t have very much recognition in Finland.” In addition to petitioning the Finnish government for a Tom of Finland postage stamp (approved in 2014), the Foundation “just came back from a Finland 100 celebration in Stockholm. People are much more aware of Tom of Finland.” Karukoski, lead actor Pekka Strang, and the film’s art director all made trips to “Tom’s House,” as Sharp calls it, to bone up on what it was that made Tom tick. “We pulled out work from the safe,” Sharp says. “It’s not framed. It’s the actual paper.” Even through the phone line Sharp’s voice conveys solemnity. The filmmakers “were able to experience how incredibly exquisite these pieces of work are.” Karukoski acknowledged this. “A lot of research was done (there),” he says. “Those were people that met Tom in the later part of his life, a lot of people that worked with him.” Actor Strang returned to L.A. for the film’s premiere. Sharp has a wish.

“Hopefully, he will be staying here at Tom’s House,” he says. “He’s been here a few times before, doing research … but I don’t think he’s stayed overnight … in Tom’s bed.” If Strang brings his wife, that might be revolutionary. Kake, a major recurring character in Tom of Finland’s work appears throughout the film as a private, only-seen-by-theartist, tongue-in-cheek muse. Described by specialty publisher Taschen, Kake is “a sort of postStonewall, hyper-masculine Johnny Appleseed traveling the world on his motorcycle to spread the seeds of liberated, mutually satisfying, ecstatically explicit gay sex.” “It’s always a question of how do you show,” Karukoski says, “especially in films about artists, what’s going on in the artist’s head?” Kake, which translates into “Butch” in English, is a fantasy character appearing throughout the movie. “The equivalent of the most beautiful man (Tom) can envision, (what) he wants every man to be.” Kake “was also an homage,” says the director. “‘I think that’s something (Tom) would have valued.”


Karukoski is not casual about filmmaking. He’s all about preparation. Over a five-year period he traveled to the Tom of Finland Foundation.

“You learn,” Karukoski says. “When you are a straight director doing a film about a gay icon, you have to kind of rehearse your sensibility. You have to understand the beauty of a man’s neck, a man’s thighs or the bulge … just the portraiture of a man. … Basically, what is the appraisal of the dick?” Karukoski got it right. His sexuality as director never intruded upon my experience viewing the film. I assumed he was gay. He’s not. He has a son, Oliver, with his wife Nadia. They live in Helsinki most of the time. “I’m a straight guy … but I’m as gay as a straight guy can get.” Really? “Part of the research is also watching hot guys,” Karukoski says. “A lot, a lot of hot guys.” The director felt compelled to understand how his hero looked at men. Apparently, there have been some longlasting effects. “This morning I was walking with my assistant,” he says, “who’s a woman. We were walking in the studios and there’s a really good-looking guy. I said to (her), in Finnish, ‘That’s a hot guy.’” And she says, “I was just thinking the same thing.”

Voices for Unheard/Presence for Unseen

THE PLAYWRIGHTS SANCTUARY The Tri-Coastal Theater Foundation announces upcoming publication of

Director Dr. Larry Myers Myers’ memoirs

(Whitman - Edward Carpenter - Gavin Arthur- Neal Cassady - Bill Cannastra- Tennesee Williams - Dr. Myers)


2 minute play competition of LGBTQIA rights issues Winners will receive readings at a sanctuary wing (Los Angeles, New York City, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Washington, D.C.)

and his new plays… CAKEWALK

“If I knew you were coming…” about Supreme Court cake decisions

“The Triumph of the Other Isis” about #me too the new women’s movement

For more information, contact laurencelarry1@aol.com or by phone at (212) 501-4371

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Toast a New Home This Holiday!

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D E CE MBE R 0 8 , 2 0 1 7 • 3 5


Top reasons to get your home ready to list now Why you shouldn’t ‘wait until spring’ By SUE GOODHART In my conversations this fall with various clients and friends who are contemplating a move, I often hear, “I’m waiting until spring.” If you fall into this category, the time to get the ball rolling is NOW. By doing so, you may be able to get your home sold before the spring market for more money and with fewer headaches along the way. So here are our top reasons to get your home ready to list NOW: 1. Beat the Spring Rush. When you get your home ready to list now, you will save yourself some major stress come spring. Your agent can schedule time for a staging consultant to walk through the house to give you a checklist of projects to tackle. You can line up contractors to start work in early January when they might be less busy and before the craziness of the spring market hits. Trust us on this one – we’ve had many clients feel the pinch when they start making calls to contractors and vendors come March and everyone is already booked! 2. Make Major Exterior Repairs Now. By starting to get your home listing ready

now, you’ll be able to tackle any needed exterior work before the cold winter weather hits. Whether it’s roof work, landscaping or exterior painting, you’ll be glad to have these tasks completed before the snow and ice come. Even in March, it might be too cold to do exterior paint, taking you out of an important month of selling. 3. Appeal to Serious Buyers. Most people think it’s best to wait until spring to list their home. However, listing in an “off” time is a great option as well. Serious house hunters are looking all year long due to job or life changes. While you may not get the volume of traffic if you listed in the winter months vs. the spring, you will get more serious buyers through your home, without racking up days on market. Get your home ready to list now to be ready for these eager winter buyers. 4. Go Live When the Market is the Hottest. The real estate market shifts year to year. While we generally know when the peak selling times are, the market has certainly surprised us. By preparing in advance, your agent can activate your listing whenever the market starts to hit the upswing – the hard work is already done. THE BOTTOM LINE: Now is the perfect time of year to get the ball rolling for a spring sale. Take the needed steps to get


VALERIE M. BLAKE, Associate Broker, GRI, Director of Education & Mentorship Dupont Circle Office • 202-518-8781 (o) • 202.246.8602 (c) Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com • www.DCHomeQuest.com

To be used at the bottom of collateral:

Don’t wait until spring to list your home. BIGSTOCK PHOTO; COURTESY OF ANDY DEAN PHOTOGRAPHY

your home ready to list now. You’ll beat the spring rush and also be ready for those serious buyers looking over the winter months. If you’re thinking of selling and want to get started, please reach out, we’re always happy to help.

THE GOODHART GROUP is McEnearney Associates’ top-producing team. In 2016, they helped 120 clients achieve their real estate goals. Led by SUE AND ALLISON GOODHART, they have been named a Top Agent by both Washingtonian and Northern Virginia magazines. The Goodhart Group can be reached at 703-3623221 or sue@thegoodhartgroup.com.

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D E CE MBE R 0 8 , 2 0 1 7 • 3 7






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60th Annual

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