Washingtonblade.com, Volume 49, Issue 6, February 9, 2018

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DC Brau, Blade announce beer can design contest characteristics based on gender identity and gender expression.” Andy Lewis, president of the Cape Henlopen school board, said that because the comments by the CAMP Rehoboth representatives were made during an open public comment period and were not part of the board’s official agenda, the board could not discuss taking action on the issue during that meeting. CAMP Rehoboth official Sal Seeley, who attended the meeting, said opponents of the proposed school policy spoke against it at the school board’s meeting in December. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Nightclub discontinues Sunday male strip show

DC Brau Brewing Company and the Washington Blade are teaming up again on a specially branded can of Brau Pils for this summer’s Pride celebration, and they want you to design it. Creative types from throughout the D.C. region are invited to submit their original designs for consideration to the Washington Blade for a limited-edition “PRIDE PILS” can. Proceeds from the sale of PRIDE PILS will benefit SMYAL and The Washington Blade Foundation. Approximately 1,400 cases of Brau Pils will be re-packaged as PRIDE PILS for distribution during PRIDE 2018 this June in Washington, D.C. The winning can design will be chosen through a multi-step process that includes a period of public voting on the Blade’s website from March 12 – 23 to narrow the field down to three top contenders, one of which will ultimately work with DC Brau to finalize the artwork for production. For all Pride Can Design Contest details and to submit an entry, visit www. washingtonblade.com/dcbrau. Deadline for design submissions is Friday, March 5 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Must be 21 years or older to participate. STAFF REPORTS

CAMP Rehoboth urges schools to back nondiscrimination rule Three representatives of the Rehoboth Beach, Del., LGBT community center CAMP Rehoboth appeared on Jan. 25 before a meeting of the Cape Henlopen Board of Education to urge the board to support a sweeping school nondiscrimination policy proposed last year by Delaware Gov. John Carney. The Cape Henlopen School District, which the board oversees, operates public and charter schools in Rehoboth Beach and nearby Lewes, Del. The two beach towns have a large number of LGBT residents and summer visitors. The CAMP Rehoboth representatives that spoke at the meeting – attorney and LGBT activist Mark Purpura, LGBT rights advocate Beth Cohen, and transgender rights advocate Kathy Carpenter Brown – called on board members to embrace Regulation 225, a comprehensive nondiscrimination policy that Carney has asked the state’s Department of Education to develop with input from the public. Among other things, the proposal calls for the state’s public and charter schools to allow students to use locker rooms and join sports teams consistent with their gender identity. It would ban school-related discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other categories. Carney has said he would like local school boards throughout the state to adopt a form of the policy that is appropriate for local communities. He has not said whether the state would make adopting the policy mandatory. “CAMP Rehoboth supports Regulation 225 and we encourage the school board to support Regulation 225,” Purpura said during a part of the meeting reserved for public comment. “The regulation is a comprehensive and very reasonable nondiscrimination regulation and policy that is inclusive as to various protective characteristics, including

The owner of The House nightclub on Georgia Avenue, N.W. in early January discontinued a weekly Sunday night male strip show that gay former D.C. Council member Jim Graham started in 2015. According to two of the male dancers who worked on Sunday nights and several regular customers, House owner Daryl Allen informed the Sunday night employees in the first week of January that he would resume Former D.C. Council member JIM GRAHAM featuring female strippers on founded the male strip night at The House but attendance faltered after his 2017 Sundays. The club has featured death. nude female dancers since its WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY opening in 1979. Graham, 71, died last June 11 from complications associated with an intestinal infection. At the time of his death Allen told the Washington Blade he planned to continue the Sunday night male strip shows that Graham called Rock Hard Sundays when Graham began managing the Sunday venue under a business arrangement with Allen. Allen couldn’t immediately be reached this week for comment. Regular customers said the number of mostly gay men who patronized the Sunday night venue and often filled the club dropped significantly after Graham’s passing. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Va. defeats anti-trans health insurance bill A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on Tuesday tabled a bill that would have banned health insurance providers from discriminating against transgender policyholders in the state. State Del. Debra Rodman (D-Henrico County) introduced House Bill 1466 last month. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly trans person seated in a state legislature in the U.S., was the measure’s chief co-sponsor. “Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care no matter their gender presentation,” wrote Rodman on her Twitter page after the committee tabled her bill. “We won’t stop until we get it.” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish in a statement to the Washington Blade said trans people, “like everyone else, deserve to live their lives without healthcare providers denying or limiting coverage because of gender identity.” “We are disappointed that the Commerce and Labor subcommittee defeated Del. Rodman’s bill despite the recommendation of every major medical association who stand in agreement that transition-related care is medically necessary and should not be excluded from health insurance,” he added. “18 states plus D.C. have already adopted laws or regulations that protect transgender people from insurance discrimination, and we hope that soon Virginia will join them.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS


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Should Atlantis cruises come with a warning label?

Chartered Royal Caribbean ship silent on onboard overdoses By KAREN OCAMB

Popular Storm Chasers star Joel Taylor was laid to rest on Jan. 29 in his hometown of Elk City, Okla. Just before the funeral, Reed Timmer, Taylor’s best friend and former Storm Chasers co-star, posted a photo on Twitter of Dominator 1—the black armored storm-chasing beast Taylor drove on the Discovery Channel series—saying the vehicle was heading to Oklahoma to join many others in honoring the star. Taylor was 38. There is something stunning about how protected Taylor was during his dangerous career, only to die vulnerable and alone from a suspected drug overdose aboard the 18-deck Harmony of the Seas, the largest ocean liner in Royal Caribbean International’s fleet, chartered by Atlantis Events. “Law enforcement sources tell TMZ, ‘It appears the death could be an overdose and Joel Taylor was consuming controlled substances,’” TMZ reported Jan. 24. “A passenger who interacted with Joel tells TMZ, Joel had consumed enough GHB on the dance floor Tuesday that he was rendered unconscious and taken off the dance floor by 2 people and back to his room.” Taylor was declared dead by the U.S. Coast Guard when the ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Passengers reported earlier on social media that several people were arrested for drug possession at the Ft. Lauderdale port of origin on Jan. 20 as they boarded for the seven-day Caribbean cruise. “The drug use on this cruise was the worst we had ever seen. Out in the open as it was widely accepted and no one had shame. We had never seen people do GHB, Coke and Meth all while dancing but we did on this cruise,” Anthony wrote Jan. 29 on Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News website. “It was so accepted that it became the joke of all the shows.” “As is our standard procedure, law enforcement was notified and responded to the ship when it arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, January 23,” Owen Torres, manager of global corporate communications for Royal Caribbean Cruises, told PEOPLE in a statement. “We extend our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the 38-year-old male guest from the United States who died while onboard Harmony of the Seas. A member of our Care Team is providing support and assistance to his family,” Torres added.

JOEL TAYLOR of ‘Storm Chasers’ died during an Atlantis gay cruise. An overdose is suspected.

Atlantis Events released no statement of condolence or explanation. Jim Key, former Chief Marketing Officer for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, fumed over Taylor’s death. He lost a friend after a night of drug use on an Atlantis Events cruise. On Jan. 29, he distributed an open letter to Royal Caribbean International President Michael Bayley. “Since Atlantis Events refuses to take responsibility to protect the lives of passengers on Royal Caribbean-chartered and operated ships, you—and the heads of other cruise lines that do business with Atlantis—must take action,” Key wrote. Taylor’s death wasn’t the first suspected overdose on an Atlantis cruise. “In recent years, at least two other people on Royal Caribbean ships—and perhaps many more—have died similarly. One of them was my friend Spencer Yu, in 2009,” Key wrote. “If three people had died from drug overdoses at a nightclub on land, that club would be shut down, but on Atlantischartered ships, the parties continue and the number of deaths keep growing.” Key said that he and Center COO Darrel Cummings met with Atlantis Events president Rich Campbell to discuss “ways to protect other passengers from

Spencer’s fate.” They asked Campbell to have onboard medical staff experienced in caring for passengers who might accidentally overdose, common at allnight circuit-type parties. “I was stunned when he refused our request, saying ‘that’s news to me’ in regard to my comments about the wide use of drugs on his cruises,” Key wrote. “[I]f Royal Caribbean continues to operate ships for Atlantis, you—and the head of Holland America and other cruise lines chartered by his company—must take action to prevent any more needless deaths. If you remain complicit, you’ll have on your hands the blood of those who die on future cruises.” When the Blade attempted to interview Campbell, his assistant politely but firmly said, “we won’t comment” on Taylor’s death. When pressed, he added: “that’s all I can tell you. You have to contact the cruise line. They’re doing PR.” The Blade tried again, with no response. Royal Caribbean’s Torres emailed this statement: “We have a zero tolerance policy for the use or possession of illegal drugs on our ships. Ship charters are held to the same strict standards. We operate with the health and safety of our guests


and crew as our highest priority, and we cooperate fully with law enforcement when we are aware of violations.” Torres followed up with a nighttime phone call to the Blade, adamantly repeating the same points. He said that without a toxicology report and law enforcement confirmation, “no one knows” how Taylor died. Torres said Royal Caribbean is working with local law enforcement regarding violations of their drug policy. The Blade has unsuccessfully attempted to contact the Puerto Rico Police Department, which has been overwhelmed with an increase in crime since Hurricane Maria. “The time for Royal Caribbean’s president and the president of Atlantis to pretend people aren’t using drugs should have stopped after the first drug-related death (that I know of), nine years ago,” Key told the Blade. “The only question is how will they care for people who have overdosed? Telling passengers Royal Caribbean has zero tolerance for drug use won’t stop people from using, but it does make it even less likely they’ll seek medical care on the ship.” The next Atlantis Events cruise leaves Feb. 18.



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New fire chief makes history in Cabin John Park Veteran Piccardi is first woman — and first lesbian — in Montgomery Co. role By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com When Corinne Piccardi, 47, a 19-year member of the Cabin John Park, Md., Volunteer Fire Department and a nationally certified firefighter and paramedic, was sworn in as the department’s new fire chief on Jan. 22, the local news media highlighted that she had become the first female volunteer fire chief ever appointed in Montgomery County. And in a development that some LGBT advocates might consider a positive sign, the media reports made no mention that Piccardi is also the first known lesbian fire chief in the county and possibly in the entire D.C. metropolitan area. Instead, they reported in a nonchalant and matterof-fact way that she lives in Baltimore with her wife and two daughters. Piccardi told the Washington Blade in an interview last week that she wasn’t surprised that her sexual orientation and same-sex marriage, which has been known for years at the Cabin John Park Fire Station, wasn’t considered a big deal at the time of her selection as chief. “Montgomery County as a whole is very good about that,” she said. “You know as an organization they’re very open,” she added referring to the county’s volunteer and career fire departments. “They’re very accepting. And if they give you the opportunity it’s up to you to take it,” she said. In a press release announcing her appointment as chief, Michael Harting, president of the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department’s Board of Directors, called Piccardi “a visionary – a forward thinker.” Harting added that Piccardi “brings not only a wealth of background and experience to the chief’s position but also respects the heritage and community values of the Cabin John, West Bethesda, and Potomac citizens we serve.” The press release says Piccardi will oversee “more than 100 active firefighters and emergency medical service, administrative and auxiliary volunteers.” Cabin John Park is an unincorporated area within Montgomery County located close to the Potomac River between West Bethesda and Potomac. The fire station provides firefighting and emergency medical services to all of those jurisdictions. Piccardi succeeds James P. Seavey Sr., who has served as chief of the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department for 26 years before retiring in December, when Piccardi was named acting chief. During her swearing-in ceremony as chief, which was held at the fire station,

Seavey pinned the official chief’s badge on the full dress uniform Piccardi wore in an action that followed a longstanding tradition at the department. Standing nearby were Piccardi’s wife, Monika, and the couple’s daughters Nicole, 18, and Riley, 8. Minutes later, Piccardi said Monika Piccardi, Nicole, and Riley placed an official chief’s collar pin on her uniform. “So my family was up front and center with the transition of this leadership and the formalizing of it and they were part of the ceremony to appoint me as the chief in Cabin John,” she told the Blade. Piccardi said her role as volunteer chief, like all volunteer firefighters, is a parttime unpaid position. She said she makes her living as a full-time career firefighterparamedic for the Manchester Fire Department in Carroll County, Md. She also works part-time for the Upperco Volunteer Fire Department in Baltimore County. It was her role as a volunteer firefighter in Cabin John Park, which began in 1999, that led her to change careers from that of a school teacher to a professional firefighter, she said. A native of Australia, Piccardi said she came to the U.S. as an exchange student in the late 1980s at the University of Texas before deciding to move permanently to the U.S. in the 1990s after graduating from the University of Sydney with a degree in education. Upon moving to the D.C. area she began teaching at private schools in Potomac and Bethesda before teaching health and physical education for 12 years at Bethesda’s Washington Episcopal School. She became a U.S. citizen in 2013. “And then I left there to be a full-time mom for a couple of years,” she said, noting that she continued in her role as a volunteer firefighter that she began while working as a teacher. “And when I decided to go back to work I decided to put my fire qualifications to work and got a job in Carroll County with the Manchester Volunteer Fire Department,” she said. “I’m a paid paramedic and firefighter up there.” Piccardi said she’s been open about her sexual orientation at work in the various fire departments, especially in Cabin John Park, since she became involved in a relationship with her wife Monika long before the two could legally marry. “We lived together. We had a commitment ceremony in western Maryland,” she said. “We had members of the fire department there. That was in 2006 long before gay marriage was legal,” Piccardi explained, pointing out that she and Monika considered that ceremony to be equivalent to a marriage. “So yes, she married me and she married the fire department as well.” She said the two married legally in 2013 in an informal ceremony at their home.

CORINNE PICCARDI and wife MONIKA at the swearing-in ceremony last month. PHOTO BY ED TENNEY

CORINNE PICCARDI and wife MONIKA are raising two kids, Nicole and Riley. PHOTO BY ED TENNEY

Piccardi also points out that she and her wife and kids have participated in the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department’s longstanding tradition using a fire truck to deliver Christmas gifts to underprivileged children. Family members of firefighters traditionally have participated in this activity. “So we take Santa Claus around on top of a fire engine during the month of December to the neighborhoods to collect toys for a local children’s home that’s in our area,” she said. “And we deliver those toys on Christmas Eve. And my family has always been involved with that,” said Piccardi, noting that this past Christmas a photo was taken of her wife and two daughters participating in the toy delivery endeavor. “I’ll be honest,” Piccardi continued. “I don’t go out waving a rainbow flag every time I go somewhere. But it’s part of my life. I don’t hide it. I never have.

Cabin John has known about it from the moment she came into my life,” Piccardi said in referring to her wife. Asked if she had advice for LGBT people who might be considering becoming a firefighter, Piccardi, among other things, said she would tell them not to be discouraged if they encounter expressions of bias. “I’ve had a number of people tell me I’m not going to succeed, I’m going to fail,” she said. “But they were only one or two people along the road within the organization. Ignore it and take advantage of the opportunity.” Added Piccardi, “I would say if the opportunity presents itself, take it because the service is changing. They are more and more recognizing diversity of all shapes and sizes is needed for fresh ideas. And it’s a great service. It’s a public service. You are helping people. And you have the opportunity to make an impact.



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LGBT historic site projects continue under Trump National Park Service approves 4 locations, ‘Sexuality Equality’ fellowship By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com The National Park Service last year approved at least four LGBT-related sites for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places as well as a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Gender and Sexuality Equality that’s expected to conduct research on women’s and LGBT civil rights issues. The four LGBT sites – two in Los Angeles and one each in New York City and Louisville, Ky. – were part of a project initiated during the Obama administration to review 130 LGBTrelated sites throughout the country for possible inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places or for designation as a National Historic Landmark. LGBT history advocates said they are pleased that the program so far appears to be continuing under the Trump administration. The fellowship program, which was in the planning stage during the Obama administration, was approved in June 2017 by National Park Service Acting Director Mike Reynolds, who assumed that position two weeks before the Trump administration took office. He remained as acting director until January of this year, when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appointed him as superintendent of Yosemite National Park in California. Zinke named longtime National Park Service official Paul Daniel Smith as the new acting director of the NPS. Smith’s views on the fellowship program and efforts to increase the number of LGBT-related sites for federal recognition couldn’t immediately be determined. But a press release announcing the official launching of the fellowship program last November says it will be privately funded through a grant of nearly $1 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It will be carried out by the National Park Foundation, which raises private funds to support national parks. In addition to approving the four LGBT historic sites and the fellowship program, the National Park Service last month also continued the implementation process begun during the Obama administration of details related to the Stonewall National Monument in New York City’s Greenwich Village. President Obama in June 2016 issued a presidential proclamation establishing the Stonewall Inn gay bar, a park next to the bar, and surrounding streets, which were the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, as a U.S. National Monument, the highest federal designation of a historic site or park.

The National Park Service under Interior Secretary RYAN ZINKE has, so far, continued to include LGBT sites in the National Register of Historic Places. PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE; COURTESY OF FLICKR

President Obama in June 2016 issued a proclamation establishing the Stonewall Inn gay bar, a park next to the bar, and surrounding streets, as a U.S. National Monument. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

Park Service officials announced last month that they were seeking public comments on plans for developing a “monument foundation document” to define and explain the historic significance of the Stonewall Inn and the role the 1969 police raid on the bar that triggered several days of rioting by LGBT people has played in launching the modern LGBT rights movement. “This is a normal part of the process for a new national monument,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “I think this is a good faith effort, but of course we should all be vigilant to ensure that forces opposed to the message of equality and inclusion that Stonewall stands for, both within and without the administration, do not hijack the process,” Berman said. He said his organization is encouraging members of the LGBT community and allies to submit comments on the National Park Service’s draft monument foundation document, which can be accessed through a page on the NPS website. The deadline for submitting comments is Feb. 18. Listed below are the four LGBT-related historic sites approved last year by the

National Park Service for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places: Mitchell Camera Building (Studio One/The Factory) – Los Angeles The Mitchell Camera Building, also known as The Factory Building, became the home of the famous gay disco and nightclub in West Hollywood called Studio One from 1974 to 1994. Lesbian activist Kate Eggert and her wife Krissy Gosney, who wrote the document nominating the building for inclusion in the National Register for Historic Places, report that Studio One in its heyday drew more than 1,000 mostly gay men on weekends and nearly that number on weeknights. “The popularity, prominence and influence of Studio One were pivotal in normalizing LGBTQ existence in the dominant mainstream/heterosexual society,” the nomination document says. Among other things, it “influenced gradual social acceptance and self-affirmation of homosexuals in the Los Angeles area,” according to the document. Great Wall of Los Angeles/History of California by Judy Baca – Los Angeles Artist and community activist Judy

Baca is credited with conceiving in the early 1970s what has become the world’s largest wall mural. At that time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contacted her to help beautify a near mile-long cement wall the corps built to control flooding in the San Fernando Valley section of L.A. A team of more than 80 youths, 10 artists, and five historians collaborated with Baca, a Chicana rights activist, to begin painting dozens of sections of the wall that depicted different time periods in the history of L.A. The project has continued nearly every year since then, with three LGBT history related sections of the wall painted in 1984. Allison Lyons, an L.A.-based historic sites expert who wrote the nomination document for the wall to be added to the National Register of Historic Places, said the LGBT sections include a general statement of LGBT rights, the story of the 1960s-era lesbian group Daughters of Bilitis, and the first known early gay rights group, Mattachine Society of Los Angeles. Whiskey Row/LGBTQ Amendment – Louisville, Ky. A section of Main Street in downtown Louisville has been known since the 19th Century as Whiskey Row because of its reputation for popular saloons and nightspots. In 2010 it was approved for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Last year the National Park Service approved a request to amend the historic nature of the site to include the history of two gay bars located in the Whiskey Row historic district, The Downtowner, which was in business from 1975 to 1989, and the Beaux Arts Cocktail Lounge, which is believed to have been Louisville’s first gay bar. The nomination document for the amended site was prepared by Catherine Fosl, director of the University of Louisville’s Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice and Research and the author the Kentucky LGBT Heritage Initiative. Caffe Cino – New York City Located in New York’s Greenwich Village, Caffe Cino opened in 1958 as a coffeehouse with space for art exhibitions by Joe Cino, an openly gay man. With Cino’s support it quickly evolved into a space where experimental theater productions were performed, including productions with gay themes. It has since been recognized as the birthplace of OffOff Broadway Theater in New York City. “At a time when depicting homosexuality on stage was a crime, many of the Caffe Cino’s early productions featured gay characters or subject matter,” according to a write up by the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project, which submitted the nomination with the National Park Service to include its building in the National Register of Historic Places. The venue closed in 1968 following Cino’s death.


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Gay alumni raise $300,000 after lawmakers defund Univ. of Tenn. LGBT center

Rep. JIM COOPER (Tenn.-5th District), UT Chancellor BEVERLY DAVENPORT and CHAD GOLDMAN


Republicans object to gender-neutral pronouns, ‘Sex Week’ program By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com A fundraising campaign launched by a gay University of Tennessee graduate and his husband raised more than $300,000 on Feb. 1 in the kickoff event for a plan to establish a private $3 million endowment to permanently fund the LGBT Pride Center at the university’s campus in Knoxville. Chad Goldman, an alumnus of the university, and his husband, Los Angeles businessman, philanthropist and LGBT rights advocate Brian Pendleton, helped organize the Feb. 1 fundraiser at the Nashville home of another University of Tennessee gay alumnus, Gary Bynum. Pendleton told the Washington Blade that the three men and many others were motivated to support the fundraising drive in response to a bill passed by the Tennessee Legislature in 2016 that eliminated state funding for the university’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. The Pride Center was part of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. It lost its funding when the legislature defunded the diversity office. Last year, Pendleton and Goldman helped raise $9,000 to keep the Pride Center open and functioning. “It’s unfortunate we are in this place because of the politics of the legislature, but this effort is not at all about politics,” Goldman told USA Today Network Tennessee. “It’s just about funding a place for LGBTQ and questioning students to go where they can find fellowship and guidance and support at a time that’s very difficult,” he told the news service. Although the bill approved by the Republican-controlled legislature doesn’t specifically mention the Pride Center, it was introduced when several conservative lawmakers took aim at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Among other things, critics of the office accused it of promoting “political correctness” by encouraging the use of gender-neutral pronouns and supporting an annual studentinitiated event called Sex Week, which involves panel discussions and forums addressing issues including sexuality, sexual assault prevention, and sexually transmitted diseases. University officials have said most of the funding for the Sex Week events comes from student activity fees rather than state funding. The bill passed by the legislature took effect in May 2016 after Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced he would neither sign nor veto the measure thus allowing it to become law without his signature. One of its two provisions reallocated all funds in the budget for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of TennesseeKnoxville for fiscal year 2016-2017 to scholarships for minority students enrolled in the university’s engineering programs. The second provision permanently bans the University of Tennessee from using state funds “to promote the use of gender-neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays, or to fund or support Sex Week.” The bill’s reallocation of state funds for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to engineering student scholarships technically ended in May 2017. But university officials were reluctant to immediately restore full funding for the diversity office out of concern that the legislature would take action again to block the funds. State Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), a lead sponsor of the State Senate version of the bill, has accused the diversity office of being “very political and polarizing” and giving a “horrible reputation” to the university and the state. “If they clean up their act, then I’ll focus my attention on something else,” USA Today Network Tennessee quoted him as saying. “But if that office continues to become very radical

and polarizing, then I will of course focus my attention back on that to take that money away and apply it to something very useful instead of something very divisive,” he said. With that political sentiment as a backdrop, Pendleton told the Blade the effort to support the Pride Center through private funding was all the more needed. He noted that university officials are highly supportive of the effort to establish the independent endowment as are other elected officials in the state. Among those attending the Feb. 1 fundraising event for the endowment in Nashville were University of Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport, the dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences Theresa Lee, and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), whose district includes Nashville. “We’ll be raising money in cities all around the country and of course including Knoxville,” Pendleton said. “But we’ll be in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, making sure that people from all over have an opportunity to help support the Pride Center,” he said. More information about the fundraising campaign, which is called Vol Means All, can be accessed at www.volmeansall.org.

Not even half of LGBT people say workplace offers FMLA: report Fewer than 50 percent of LGBT people say they have access in their workplace to benefits under the Family & Medical Leave Act, according to a new report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The findings came about as the result of the organization’s 2018 U.S. LGBTQ Paid Leave Survey. The survey, completed by more than 5,400 LGBTQ people from across the nation, found only 45 percent of respondents say their employer extends leave policies — paid or unpaid — that include LGBT people. Mary Beth Maxwell, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president for programs, research and training, said the report should serve as a wakeup call. “No one should have to choose between who they are, the people they love and the job they need,” Maxwell said. “As the only developed nation in the world without some form of guaranteed paid leave policy, American workers, including LGBTQ employees, are too often forced to either forgo their income or leave their job entirely to treat an illness, care for a loved one, or grow their family.” The report comes on the 25th anniversary of the Family & Medical Leave Act, a federal law signed by President Bill Clinton affording employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for family and medical reasons. The Labor Department first established married same-sex couples have access to benefits under the Family & Medical Leave Act after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sought to block those benefits to gay couples in states without marriage equality and succeeded in trial court, but that ruling was overturned by the 2015 Supreme Court decision for marriage equality nationwide. Among the key findings the Human Rights Campaign pulled from its survey: • Fewer than half of respondents report that their employer’s policies cover new parents of all genders equally; • Only 49 percent say that employer policies are equally inclusive of the many ways families can welcome a child, including childbirth, adoption, or foster care; • One in five respondents report that they would be afraid to request time off to care for a loved one because it might disclose their LGBTQ identity, illustrating the need for explicit federal LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections; • And 48 percent of respondents, reflecting the prevalence of family rejection within the LGBTQ community, indicated that they feel an increased responsibility to care for loved ones whose own families have rejected them because of their LGBTQ identities — a critical caretaking role often excluded from leave policies. President Trump has proposed instituting paid family leave by extending unemployment insurance benefits to working parents whose employers do not offer paid maternity leave. But the plan — a pet cause of Ivanka Trump — faces an uphill battle in the Republican Congress, and critics contend unemployment checks under Trump’s plan are skimpy and won’t provide sufficient compensation. Another finding in the report: 92 percent of LGBT respondents in the survey say the United States should guarantee paid leave to all Americans, and another 92 percent say access to paid leave would positively affect their lives. CHRIS JOHNSON


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Only amnesia can explain new Democratic support for Bush Poll shows surging approval for anti-gay president By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com After more than a year of President Trump, the administration of George W. Bush is looking better to many Democrats in retrospect — but that might be the result of collective amnesia given the policies of the previous Republican president. A CNN poll published late month found 61 percent of Americans now have a favorable view of Bush compared to his approval rating of 33 percent at the time he left office. Much that support is the result of newfound favorability among Democrats. In 2009, the first year former President Obama took office, only 11 percent of Democrats approved of Bush. Now that approval rating stands at 54 percent. The rise in support among Democrats for Bush seems to overlook that his presidency was marked by a military quagmire in Iraq, an inept response to Hurricane Katrina, a financial collapse in 2008, scheming advisers and Dick Cheney. (A recent “Saturday Night Live” spoof of Bush imitated by Will Ferrell, who impersonated the former president in the early Bush years, reminded viewers he was “like, historical bad.”) But Bush’s administration also had an anti-gay agenda that compares, if not surpasses, the anti-LGBT policies under the Trump administration. Forget Trump’s eight words in the State of the Union address expressing a commitment to “religious liberty,” considered code in the context of conservative politics to mean antiLGBT discrimination. Bush, on multiple occasions, used that platform to advocate for a Federal Marriage Amendment that would have preempted the 2015 Obergefell decision and banned samesex marriage nationwide. “Activist judges...have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives,” Bush said in 2004. “On an issue of such great consequence, the people’s voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.” (Those words so enraged Gavin Newsom, then a guest of Nancy Pelosi for Bush’s speech and mayor of San Francisco, that he decided to defy state law and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The California Supreme Court would later stop his efforts until marriage equality came to California years later.) Under campaign adviser Karl Rove, the

Bush re-election campaign in 2004 was centered on both the Federal Marriage Amendment and 11 state measures seeking to bar same-sex marriage. All 11 of those amendments would pass that year. Log Cabin Republicans, which endorsed Bush in 2000, refused to do so in 2004 largely over that measure. On two separate occasions, one in 2004 and 2006, the Republican-controlled Congress would vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment to stop efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. Both times the measure failed to obtain sufficient support for passage. Joe Solmonese, a former president of the Human Rights Campaign who led efforts to fight the measure the second time around, said the Federal Marriage Amendment was “largely driven” by Bush and Rove. “Regardless of what people years later have told me about what was genuinely in George Bush’s heart with regard to LGBT people, that effort to write discrimination into the Constitution in a permanent way had his fingerprints on it and had his blessing,” Solmonese said. Although strong support for the Federal Marriage Amendment was the cornerstone of anti-gay initiatives in the Bush years, the presidency was also filled with social conservatives who worked to implement an anti-gay agenda. As a Bush appointee in the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, Scott Bloch refused to investigate claims of sexual-orientation discrimination within the federal government. Additionally, he ordered 12 OSC staffers, including the only two known gay employees, to transfer to distant cities or lose their jobs. Monica Goodling, a Bush appointee in the Justice Department, was revealed to have violated the law for being engaged in politically motivated firings of seven U.S. attorneys in 2007. The Washington Blade later discovered under her tenure applicants for Justice Department internships and honors programs may have been rejected based on their membership in LGBT groups, such as Immigration Equality and Gay Men’s Health Crisis. In the lame duck of the Bush administration, the Department of Health & Human Services issued a rule allowing medical practitioners to opt out of performing abortion services, which at the time was also seen as allowing practitioners to refuse service to gay people. The Obama administration rescinded the rule, but the Trump administration has recently proposed putting that back in place, raising similar concerns about denial of medical treatment to LGBT people. There was no interest in enacting proLGBT changes to the law under Bush. Gay service members continued to be discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” under an administration and Congress that saw no need to change the law

despite majority support even at that time to allow openly gay service. In an attempt to pass hate crimes protections, the Senate approved the Matthew Shepard Act as an amendment in 2006 to major defense policy legislation, but the provision was later removed. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy against the standalone measure, H.R. 1592, indicating Bush might veto the defense bill over the language. “The administration favors strong criminal penalties for violent crime, including crime based on personal characteristics, such as race, color, religion, or national origin,” the statement says. “However, the administration believes that HR 1592 is unnecessary and constitutionally questionable. If HR 1592 were presented to the president, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.” To his credit, much like Trump kept an Obama-era executive order barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors, Bush kept in place a Clinton-era executive order barring anti-gay workplace discrimination within the federal government. The newfound support among Democrats for Bush, Solmonese said, is more the result of fatigue under the Trump administration as opposed to respect for the 43rd president. “I think that the way people are feeling about George W. Bush right now has a lot more to do with Donald Trump than it does with George Bush,” Solomense said. “It just shows you that everything is relative. You think you have it bad until you have it worse.” As Solmonese noted, Bush has never made an effort to correct his anti-gay policies. To the surprise of many, a report emerged in the Boston Globe that he planned to officiate a same-sex marriage for a lesbian couple he knew in Maine, but his office denied that. “If all these years later, George Bush stepped forward and said that he felt differently or he regretted or he apologized for the actions he took back then, I might feel differently,” Solmonese said. Instead, Bush seems to have gone the opposite way. In 2016, Bush spoke by video to the World Congress of Families, which was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for supporting anti-gay crackdowns overseas. But unlike Trump, who is largely silent on HIV/AIDS and has yet to appoint a White House adviser on the issue, Bush has been given credit on both sides of the aisle for an aggressive approach to the epidemic — both domestic and international. Among the initiatives created by Bush was the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, which seeks to provide HIV medications to countries with limited resources. (Trump sought to reduce funding for that by $1 billion, although that

proposal was rejected by Congress.) Bush also sought to repeal the travel ban that prevented foreign nationals with HIV from entering the United States. Congress repealed the ban during the Bush administration, and the policy was completely changed after a rule change in the Obama years. The various policies on LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues in the Bush and Trump administrations have lent themselves to considerable debate on which presidency is worse for LGBT people. Solmonese said Trump is “unquestionably” worse on LGBT issues than his Republican predecessor, citing the transgender military ban and appointment of officials like Betsy DeVos. “Everything he says is grounded in the language of division, of us versus them,” Solmonese added. “If someone else is getting something it means that it’s being taken from you. He has consistently used dog whistle politics to send coded messages to extremists and white supremacists. That behavior doesn’t just set us back, it puts us in real danger.” Michelangelo Signorile, a New Yorkbased gay progressive activist and radio host on SiriusXM, declared in an essay in September that Trump as a result of his anti-LGBT policy is “the most anti-LGBTQ president in U.S. history.” “It’s clear, both by his actions and the outcomes of them which will only increase exponentially, that Trump is already the most anti-LGBTQ president in U.S. history,” Signorile said. “That is something we must demand that political reporters, many of whom were duped in 2016 and then duped millions more, begin to focus on. It’s a fact that must be stated emphatically beginning right now.” Given the similarities in anti-LGBT policy, could the Bush presidency afford any lessons learned to LGBT advocates in the Trump administration? After all, gay rights supporters were able to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment on two occasions despite strong Republican majorities in Congress. The passage of state marriage amendments could also serve as guides even though their victories, and by large margins, devastated gay couples. Solmonese said a primary lesson should be solidarity of the LGBT movement with other groups facing oppression under the Trump administration, recalling support in the Bush years from the labor, reproductive choice and broader civil rights movement. “When we think about our position towards the Trump administration and how we engage with the Trump administration, it isn’t just on behalf of LGBT people and our issues, but on behalf of the broader progressive coalition in which we stand and with whom we stood when attacks were being lobbed against us,” Solmonese said.



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Puerto Rico mayor: ‘We are American citizens’ María ‘Mayita’ Meléndez talks about her city’s hurricane response By MICHAEL K. LAVERS mlavers@washblade.com PONCE, Puerto Rico — The mayor of one of Puerto Rico’s largest cities on Feb. 2 said the situation in many parts of the U.S. commonwealth remains dire more than four months after Hurricane Maria. Ponce Mayor María “Mayita” Meléndez noted to the Washington Blade during an interview in her office at Ponce City Hall that electricity has not been restored to many parts of rural Puerto Rico. Meléndez also said some people who live in these areas still do not have running water. “The devastation is in the rural areas,” she said. Ponce is located on Puerto Rico’s southern coast. Meléndez, a Democrat who is a member of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s New Progressive Party that supports statehood, has been in office since 2009. Meléndez’s government in 2016 provided assistance to the families of the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla., who were from Ponce. Meléndez has also urged the federal government to restore Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency Act funds that her city used to provide medications and other care to people with HIV/AIDS. “I work for everyone,” she told the Blade. “Everyone who comes here and asks for help, we will give you the help.” Ponce is roughly 70 miles west of Puerto Rico’s southeast coast where Maria made landfall on Sept. 20 with 155 mph winds. The hurricane’s eye passed over the municipalities of Yabucoa, San Lorenzo, Caguas, Aguas Buenas, Comerío, Naranjito, Corozal, Morovis, Ciales, Manatí, Florida, Barceloneta and Arecibo before it moved offshore on the island’s northern coast. Meléndez told the Blade her government removed debris from downtown Ponce less than a month after Maria because it is a center of economic activity. “I cleaned the city,” she said, noting there are several hotels in the immediate area in which people were able to stay after the hurricane. “I cleaned downtown. I opened places and opened all the roads so people can come here.” Meléndez said electricity was restored to downtown Ponce roughly a month and a half after Maria. She told the Blade she did not have electricity at her home, which is a fiveminute drive from City Hall, for 42 days. Meléndez said 93 percent of the people who live in Ponce’s 12 urban wards have

Ponce Mayor MARÍA ‘MAYITA’ MELÉNDEZ said electricity has not been restored to many parts of rural Puerto Rico. PHOTO COURTESY MELENDEZ

Hurricane damage in Adjuntas, which is north of Ponce. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS

had their power restored. “That’s good for us,” she said. Meléndez and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz last month attended the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Winter Meeting in D.C. The Latino Leaders Network also honored Meléndez and Cruz for their response to Maria and Hurricane Irma, which brushed Puerto Rico on Sept. 7. Cruz remains among the most vocal critics of President Trump’s response to Maria. Trump on Oct. 3 sparked outrage when he threw paper towels into a crowd of people who were gathered at an evangelical church in the wealthy San Juan suburb of Guaynabo where relief supplies were being distributed. Rosselló and Guaynabo Mayor Angel Pérez were with Trump when he was at the church. Meléndez told the Blade she, Cruz,

Pérez, Bayamón Mayor Ramón Rivera and Arecibo Mayor Carlos Molina met with Trump when he was in Puerto Rico. Meléndez said she did not know Trump, Rosselló and Pérez had gone to the church because she had been in a meeting with then-Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke. “In Puerto Rico they have always distributed help by throwing it to people,” said Meléndez. “It is an old custom that we are getting rid of.” “The president’s presence was used to participate in this custom and the act was very bad,” she added. Meléndez told the Blade she does not “have any problem” with Alejandro de la Campa, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Puerto Rico. She also said FEMA Administrator Brock Long has been “excellent in the states.” The New York Times on Tuesday

reported FEMA awarded a $156 million contract to Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur who has no experience in responding to major disasters, in order to prepare and deliver 30 million packaged meals to Puerto Ricans after Maria. FEMA in October cancelled the contract with Brown after only 50,000 meals were delivered. Meléndez spoke with the Blade two days after reports surfaced that indicated FEMA would not stop distributing food and water in Puerto Rico. Waves Ahead, an organization that has provided assistance to LGBT Puerto Ricans and other vulnerable groups, was bringing food and water to residents of the island of Vieques on Jan. 31 when this broke. Trump on Jan. 30 made a brief reference to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which Maria and Irma also devastated, in his State of the Union speech. FEMA later said it would not stop distributing food and water in Puerto Rico. Meléndez said she wants the federal government to treat Puerto Ricans the same as other U.S. citizens who live on the mainland. Puerto Ricans are unable to vote in presidential elections. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, but she is unable to vote on bills once they reach the floor. “We are American citizens,” Meléndez told the Blade. “As an American citizen, treat me equally as the same way that you treat California, that you treat Texas, that you treat Florida, New York.” Meléndez also praised Rosselló’s response to Maria. “The governor of Puerto Rico is doing an excellent job,” said Meléndez. “But he alone cannot make the people of the Congress aware that they have to be conscious of Puerto Rico. Meléndez described Rosselló’s decision to privatize the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which is known by the acronym PREPA, after Maria and Irma as “excellent.” Meléndez also told the Blade the process “has to be transparent.” Whitefish Energy Holdings, which is based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Mont., signed a controversial $300 million contract with PREPA to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure. PREPA in late October cancelled the contract after Rosselló urged it to do so. Puerto Rico first lady Beatriz Rosselló after Maria launched the Unidos por Puerto Rico fund in order to support the relief efforts. Her plan to use some of the fund’s money to repair parks and sporting facilities sparked widespread outrage. Beatriz Rosselló last month announced she would withdraw the proposal.


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Puerto Rico hairdresser, family struggle to survive after Maria Hurricane destroyed Ricky Santiago’s salon, damaged home By MICHAEL K. LAVERS mlavers@washblade.com HUMACAO, Puerto Rico — Ricky Santiago was with his parents and his aunt in the second floor of his family’s house in the Candelero Arriba neighborhood of the Puerto Rican city of Humacao during Hurricane Maria. The hurricane had 155-mph winds when it made landfall near Humacao, which is on Puerto Rico’s southeastern coast, on Sept. 20. Maria seriously damaged the roof and walls of the second floor of Santiago’s family’s house and destroyed his small hair salon that was in the backyard. “It was a monster that came,” said Santiago on Feb. 1 as he spoke with the Washington Blade while sitting in a plastic chair on a small patio that is in front of the house. “It took everything.” Santiago, 53, and his family are among the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who still have no electricity nearly five months after Maria. Santiago and his family lost electricity during Hurricane Irma, which brushed Puerto Rico on Sept. 7, but utility crews restored it before Maria. Santiago told the Blade that water currently “comes and goes.” Santiago lived on the house’s second floor before Maria. A blue tarp has been placed over it, but damaged walls and windows have not been repaired. Santiago is now living on the first floor with his parents and aunt. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given Santiago $6,000 to rebuild his salon, which it considers an extension of his family’s house. Santiago has begun to replace the roof, but debris and everyday items remain scattered across the floor and the yard. These include an old Bible that had been placed onto a small table near the entrance to what was once the salon’s bathroom. “Everything that we worked for is gone, but we move forward,” Santiago told the Blade. “The most important thing is that we are alive.” Santiago also said nobody in his neighborhood died during Maria. The Puerto Rican government says Maria killed 64 people in the U.S. commonwealth, but the death toll is estimated to be more than 1,000. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in December ordered a review of the official figure. Santiago, who is gay, said the clients that he had before Maria were from Humacao, the nearby towns of Yabucoa and Las Piedras and “from everywhere.”

Damage and debris from Hurricane Maria remains on a beach in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, last week. The beach is located less than 10 miles south of the city of Humacao in southeastern Puerto Rico. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS

RICKY SANTIAGO stands outside the second floor of his family’s house in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on Feb. 1. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Rev. JULIE JOHNSON STAPLES, executive director of Intersections International, an LGBTaffirming ministry in New York, embraces Ricky Santiago on the damaged second floor of his family’s house. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Santiago also told the Blade that he has been “accepted well” by his family. Santiago’s father has been bedridden for 13 years. Santiago, his mother and aunt are among his caretakers. Rev. Julie Johnson Staples, executive director of Intersections International, a New York-based LGBT-affirming ministry, on Feb. 1 offered Santiago’s father communion. Santiago’s mother, aunt and his friend stood next to Santiago’s father’s bed as Staples led them in prayer. Grissel Bonilla, co-founder of Waves Ahead, an organization that is providing assistance to Santiago and other LGBT Puerto Ricans after Maria, and this reporter also joined Staples, Marcia Fingal of Intersections International and Santiago’s family inside the stifling bedroom that is located off the first floor kitchen. Staples later spoke with Santiago as they stood on a portion of the second floor that has no walls or roof. Santiago began to cry as he and Staples embraced. Santiago told the Blade his mother and he cry a lot after Maria. He also said his family is suffering from depression. Santiago said local officials gave his family some food after Maria. A new utility pole that replaced one the hurricane destroyed is across the street from his family’s house. Santiago’s aunt said electricity was restored to an elementary school that is down the hill from the house a couple of weeks ago. School children were playing in its playground when she and this reporter walked up the street to a small church. Santiago told the Blade the only assistance his family has received from the federal government is the $6,000 FEMA check. He said the only thing he, his parents and aunt want is to have their electricity restored. “Five months have passed without light,” Santiago told the Blade.


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In adults with HIV on ART who have diarrhea not caused by an infection IMPORTANT PATIENT INFORMATION This is only a summary. See complete Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com or by calling 1-844-722-8256. This does not take the place of talking with your doctor about your medical condition or treatment.

What Is Mytesi? Mytesi is a prescription medicine used to improve symptoms of noninfectious diarrhea (diarrhea not caused by a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection) in adults living with HIV/AIDS on ART. Do Not Take Mytesi if you have diarrhea caused by an infection. Before you start Mytesi, your doctor and you should make sure your diarrhea is not caused by an infection (such as bacteria, virus, or parasite).

Possible Side Effects of Mytesi Include:

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Enough is Enough Get relief. Pure and simple. Ask your doctor about Mytesi. Mytesi (crofelemer): • Is the only medicine FDA-approved to relieve diarrhea in people with HIV • Treats diarrhea differently by normalizing the flow of water in the GI tract • Has the same or fewer side effects as placebo in clinical studies • Comes from a tree sustainably harvested in the Amazon Rainforest What is Mytesi? Mytesi is a prescription medicine that helps relieve symptoms of diarrhea not caused by an infection (noninfectious) in adults living with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Important Safety Information Mytesi is not approved to treat infectious diarrhea (diarrhea caused by bacteria, a virus, or a parasite). Before starting you on Mytesi, your healthcare provider will first be sure that you do not have infectious diarrhea. Otherwise, there is a risk you would not receive the right medicine and your infection could get worse. In clinical studies, the most common side effects that occurred more often than with placebo were upper respiratory tract (sinus, nose, and throat) infection (5.7%), bronchitis (3.9%), cough (3.5%), flatulence (3.1%), and increased bilirubin (3.1%).

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Should I Take Mytesi If I Am: Pregnant or Planning to Become Pregnant? • Studies in animals show that Mytesi could harm an unborn baby or affect the ability to become pregnant • There are no studies in pregnant women taking Mytesi • This drug should only be used during pregnancy if clearly needed A Nursing Mother? • It is not known whether Mytesi is passed through human breast milk • If you are nursing, you should tell your doctor before starting Mytesi • Your doctor will help you to decide whether to stop nursing or to stop taking Mytesi Under 18 or Over 65 Years of Age? • Mytesi has not been studied in children under 18 years of age • Mytesi studies did not include many people over the age of 65. So it is not clear if this age group will respond differently. Talk to your doctor to find out if Mytesi is right for you

What Should I Know About Taking Mytesi With Other Medicines? If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicine, herbal supplements, or vitamins, tell your doctor before starting Mytesi.

What If I Have More Questions About Mytesi? For more information, please see the full Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com or speak to your doctor or pharmacist. To report side effects or make a product complaint or for additional information, call 1-844-722-8256.

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• Upper respiratory tract infection (sinus, nose, and throat infection) • Bronchitis (swelling in the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs) • Cough • Flatulence (gas) • Increased bilirubin (a waste product when red blood cells break down) For a full list of side effects, please talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Mytesi comes from the Croton lechleri tree harvested in South America.

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Grocery chain Publix reverses PrEP decision FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Southeast’s largest supermarket chain announced this week that it is changing its employee prescription plan to cover a drug that helps prevent HIV infections, remedying an omission that doctors and gay rights groups said was highly unusual, the Associated Press reports. Publix announced its change in a Twitter reply to Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando-area Democrat who had met with company officials Monday to discuss their refusal to cover Truvada for PrEP, the AP reports.The six-year-old drug is more than 95 percent effective in preventing the contraction of human immunodeficiency virus, which can cause AIDS. It is usually prescribed to HIV-negative gay men and other people at higher risk of infection. The issue came to light again recently when a website, the Body, noted that a former Publix employee had been denied coverage for PrEP. The Associated Press began reporting on the issue last week but Publix did not respond to numerous calls and detailed messages at that time. Smith tweeted about his meeting with Publix officials late Monday night, saying they confirmed the decision not to cover the drug but would not say if it “was based solely on cost or some absurd moral objection they have to PrEP,” the AP reports. Early Tuesday, Publix replied that it had reconsidered its position and would cover PrEP, saying the company is “committed to the health and well-being of our associates and families.” It issued a statement reiterating its Twitter replies Tuesday afternoon, the AP reports. The former employee told the AP last week that he left Publix at the end of 2016 after being with the company for a year, primarily over the drug issue. He said his new employer pays for his PrEP prescription, which costs about $1,500 a month for individual buyers. Insurance companies typically negotiate discounts with pharmacies. The man asked that his name and occupation be withheld to protect his privacy, the AP article said. Publix has 188,000 employees at 1,169 stores in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Virginia. The chain usually scores well on surveys of customer and employee satisfaction but has received low scores from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. It called Tuesday’s decision “a positive step,” the AP reports.

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Spike in number of teens eschewing cis IDs NEW YORK — More teenagers are identifying themselves with nontraditional gender labels such as transgender or gender-fluid, according to a new study, CNN reports. The research, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that almost 3 percent of Minnesota teens did not identify with traditional gender labels such as “boy” or “girl.” That number is higher than researchers expected. A UCLA study from a year ago estimated that 0.7 percent of teens identified as transgender, CNN reports. Lead researcher Nic Rider of the University of Minnesota said the main purpose of the new study was to examine health differences between gendernonconforming teens and teens who are cisgender, a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth. The study found that transgender and gender-nonconforming youth reported “reported significantly poorer health” — including mental health — than cisgender teenagers. Trans and gender-nonconforming teens also were less likely to get preventive health checkups and more likely to visit their school nurse, the study found. But more surprising may have been the rising percentage of teens who say they don’t fit traditional gender norms. The study, CNN reports, supports prior research suggesting “that previous estimates of the size of the (trans and gender-nonconforming) population have been underestimated by orders of magnitude,” wrote Daniel Shumer, a specialist in transgender medicine at the University of Michigan, in an accompanying opinion article. Rider is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Program in Human Sexuality. For their research, Rider’s team examined data from a 2016 survey of almost 81,000 Minnesota students in the ninth-11th grades. Nearly 2,200 of these teens, about 2.7 percent, answered yes to the question: Do you consider yourself transgender, genderqueer, gender-fluid or unsure of your gender identification? That’s a big jump from the UCLA study, which was published in January 2017 and estimated that 0.7 percent of American teens ages 13-17 identify as transgender, CNN reports.

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Keeping incarcerated people safe I spent two years in prison, often in unsafe, stifling conditions By EVIE LITWOK I am a formerly incarcerated Jewish lesbian. When I was 60, I was convicted of tax evasion and sent to the federal women’s prison at Alderson in West Virginia. I spent two years behind bars, some of that time in solitary. I lost my freedom in prison; I didn’t expect to lose my right to be safe. Summers at Alderson were hot as hell. Two of the four sleeping units had no air conditioning. The 90-plus degree temperature outside felt like 100 degrees inside. I was unlucky to live in one of the units without air conditioning. It was stifling and I had trouble breathing. As a formerly incarcerated person, I worry a great deal about the safety of people in prisons, jails and detention centers, specifically about what happens to them during weather-related events. For example: Hurricane Katrina. It struck New Orleans in 2005. The mayor of the city declared the first-ever mandatory evacuation of the city. But that evacuation to safety did not apply to people in prisons. They were left locked in cells filled with sewage-tainted water. Then there was Hurricane Irene. It struck New York in 2011. Mayor Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of 400,000 residents and their pets to safety in 72 shelters. He did not order the evacua-


tion of Rikers Jail complex, which housed 12,000 incarcerated people. Hurricane Harvey struck Texas in late summer of 2017. When the storm was bearing down on the state, incarcerated people were made to fill sandbags to brace for the impact of the storm. Three days later, only 6,000 of the 147,000 incarcerated people were evacuated. One incarcerated man’s mother reported to the local newspaper that her son’s first floor cell was knee high in water. Texas prison spokesman, Jason Clark, denied there was a problem. Florida Gov. Rick Scott told Floridians to “evacuate or die.” He moved 7,000 incarcerated people leaving 90,000 behind. To make matters worse, a Polk County Sheriff tweeted, E DIT OR IA L C A R T OON

“anyone seeking shelter who had an outstanding warrant or was a convicted sex offender would be sent to prison rather than a shelter.” We all heard lots of stories about the mishandling of the recovery from Hurricane Maria after it struck Puerto Rico. But, to this day, we do not know if electricity, water, and food are available at the 13 prisons on the island. Or for that matter, if anyone died in those prisons. Like Hurricanes, tornados can be dangerous for incarcerated people. An EF-2 tornado struck Aliceville Prison in Alabama in 2016, causing considerable damage to the facility. The roof of one of the sleeping units blew off the building. Officials reported only slight damage to the administration building. Prison officials often provide false or no information about the impact of extreme weather incidents on prison facilities and those who live in them. Our prisons, jails and detention centers are not prepared for extreme weather. Is this because incarcerated people are disproportionately black, brown, and LGBTQ? Perhaps this explains the lack of safety and under-reporting of weatherrelated dangers. Or are incarcerated people not considered human beings? I believe the only way to make this population safe is to force prisons to provide emergency policies requiring evacuation during hurricanes, tornados, floods, fires and mudslides. Similarly, all institutions must properly ventilate sleeping units and dining halls so they are adequately cool in summer and warm in winter. We know that prisons are highly profitable institutions and making incarcerated people safe is prohibitively expensive. Perhaps the way to keep incarcerated people safe is to release them. EVIE LITWOK is director of Witness to Mass Incarceration.






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On the brink of a constitutional crisis? Constraining the extremes of tyranny and chaos By JON DAVIDSON Numerous politicians and commentators increasingly have been warning of a looming “constitutional crisis” in our nation. While there is little doubt that we are on the precipice of crises on many fronts (including international relations, civil rights, political integrity, and the environment), how close are we to a true “constitutional” crisis? To answer that, one needs to understand what a constitutional crisis actually is. The U.S. Constitution and its amendments establish the structure of our federal government, the powers and responsibilities of its parts, and the limits of federal, state, and local government authority. One reason our country has had as much stability as it historically has is that drafters of our Constitution created a flexible document that has been able to adapt to very different times than when it went into effect nearly 229 years ago. Another is that many interstices between constitutional provisions have been filled in with judicial interpretations and congressional and executive branch customs. Perhaps most importantly, the Constitution established systems of separation of powers and checks and balances that reduce the risk of national crises, especially with the support

of a strong media, effective nonprofit groups, and political leaders and an electorate that prize the values of peaceful debate, truth, and decency. A constitutional crisis nevertheless can occur, however, when—notwithstanding these safeguards—fierce disagreements arise about whether certain government actions are constitutionally permissible or when the Constitution’s provisions and these ancillary supports prove inadequate to constrain the extremes of either tyranny or chaos. Our nation has endured a number of constitutional crises, or near ones, in the past. For example, the Constitution doesn’t address whether states can leave the union, and we had to fight a civil war to establish that they cannot. Presidential assumption of unilateral emergency and war powers sometimes were checked by judicial orders or congressional enactments, but the failure of either to stop the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is a sobering reminder of the power of fear and propaganda to overwhelm constitutional justice, at great individual costs, for years on end. Had Richard Nixon refused to comply with the Supreme Court’s order to turn over White House tapes, a constitutional crisis about whether presidents are above the law certainly would have arisen. Like the symbolic Doomsday Clock that recently was reset ahead by 30 seconds—to just two minutes before the midnight of apocalypse—numerous signs point to us having

moved closer to a constitutional crisis than we’ve been in decades. Ongoing concerns about whether our current president has been engaged in obstruction of justice and may seek to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or special counsel Robert Mueller to end the investigation of improper Russian influence on our last national election again raises the specter of a chief executive who seeks impunity from legal constraints or even investigations. Complicity by congressional leaders like California Rep. Devin Nunes—combined with the tearing down of customary restraints like the filibuster, committee hearings on important legislation, and the “blue slip” policy that allowed senators to object to extreme judicial nominees—threaten the operation of longstanding checks on unilateral party power. Vituperative attacks by President Trump on the media (including proposals to subvert constitutional limitations on defamation lawsuits), science, intelligence agencies, political dissent by athletes, and even verifiable facts (like how many people watched the State of Union address) evidence an intent to tear down anything that might stand in the way of unquestioned adoration and authority. And continuing efforts to subvert fair elections through political gerrymandering, improper voter disenfranchisement, and the weakening of Voting Rights Act enforcement, imperil the nation’s history of self-correction when government leaders go too far.

Yet, there is reason not to despair. Attacks on women’s health care and indifference to Trump’s bragging about sexual harassment have led to unprecedentedly huge women’s marches, the #MeToo movement, and throngs of women seeking political office. Numerous state officials, and particularly state attorneys general, have stepped forward to challenge Trump administration moves menacing immigrants, religious minorities, the environment, and health care coverage. Our nation’s LGBT legal groups filed four lawsuits that have led to unanimous judicial condemnations of, and a halt on, Trump’s single-handed efforts to bar open military service by transgender individuals. What will allow a constitutional crisis to ripen is indifference. Trump’s unending incendiary tweets and comments threaten not only distraction from the real perils we face but also “outrage fatigue” that may be being intentionally engendered to cause people to stop paying attention and give in to despondency rather than resistance. We have the power to avert a constitutional crisis by organizing, protesting, supporting progressive organizations and leaders, and voting. To give up is to give in. Instead, each of us who can must speak up, contribute, and act. The stakes are too high to do otherwise. JON W. DAVIDSON has been a leading LGBT legal rights advocate and constitutional scholar for more than 30 years. He recently stepped down as the national legal director of Lambda Legal.


Trump and his big and little lies One-third of the country continues to believe anything he says

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

Donald Trump is a certified liar but his base continues to believe his big and little lies are the truth. A big part of the reason for that is FOX news is more than happy to amplify the lies he tells every day with sleazy personalities like Sean Hannity happy to repeat them as truths. Beyond that we need to be asking the same thing a recent Slate column did: “Why Are the Times, the Post, and MSNBC on a Conservative Hiring Spree?” They re-

port MSNBC hired Trump apologist Hugh Hewitt in addition to other conservatives like George Will and Greta Van Susteren. We know NBC hired Megyn Kelly and is sticking with her despite her ratings flop. It seems these news outlets are now afraid to be known as liberal. That is part of what Trump has accomplished with his big and little lies. All the polling we have seen shows Trump has a base of support between 32 and 40 percent depending on news of the day or the tweet of the day. Trump better than any politician before him understands the use of social media and how his tweets get even legitimate mainstream media to repeat his lies even if they go on to debunk them. The Republican mainstream, which is ceasing to exist, understands that Trump’s supporters are some of the most uneducated people in the nation with some of the most racist, sexist and homophobic opinions. They are afraid to go against those people because they need them to win. They are the people who either don’t have the intelligence or ability to research

the truth, or simply want to believe what Trump says because it coincides perfectly with their own biases and beliefs. We have seen all this play out in the response to the Nunes memo. Trump tweeted, “This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!” The tweet got a headline in the New York Times printed edition, ‘Trump Says Republican Memo Proves his Innocence on Russia’ in a column by Emily Cochrane. It was changed in the online edition to be even more accurate: ‘Trump Says Republican Memo ‘Totally Vindicates’ Him.’ So the big lie became the headline even though in the column Cochrane reports, “The memo, while trying to paint the origins of the Russia investigation as tainted, did nothing to clear Mr. Trump of either collusion or obstruction.” So I am sure Trump again sees this as a big win when someone reads back to him his big

lie in the headline of the nation’s leading newspaper; even one that consistently reports the failures of Trump and his lies. The Washington Post fact-checked Trump’s State of the Union speech and found nearly every economic ‘fact’ he claimed was either an outright lie or an exaggeration that could be easily proven false. But for Trump that is not a problem as the speech was directed at his base of support, that 32 to 40 percent of the population who want to believe everything he says. There may be some debate as to whether Trump is an inveterate or a congenital liar. I leave that to others to decide. One definition of the differences is “An inveterate liar has more of a problem. He can’t stop lying. It’s an addiction to him. Like an inveterate gambler. It doesn’t mean he is essentially good at lying. A congenital liar on the other hand, is so good at lying, it seems that he is born for the job. A congenital thing is something you are born with. Either way, Trump is a master at it and a large part of the American people are clearly believing his lies. The country and the majority of decent people will continue to suffer until we rid ourselves of Trump.


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Damn the memos — keep calm and tackle hard The work of resistance continues despite distractions

RICHARD J. ROSENDALL is a writer and activist. Reach him at rrosendall@starpower.net.

In this Fast & Furious age of public discourse, last week’s focus of political drama is already ancient history. Before my pixels are dry, Trump or his minions will doubtless have pulled out a new shiny object for everyone to gape at, complete with hyperventilation by Sean Hannity. Self-care requires occasionally setting our own pace, as when I skipped watching the State of the Union in favor of a good book. The president’s vocal delivery reminds me of my nieces imitating bored Valley Girls. We can remain vigilant without being masochists.

The fact that more volleys of deflection and distraction are certain to follow after the flop of the House Intelligence Committee’s overhyped “secret memo” last week should give alert citizens sufficient pause to learn lessons. One is this: If the assault on federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies by congressional Republicans on behalf of Trump is not treason, we should apologize to Benedict Arnold. It is easy to be dismissive, such as by counting the incompetents on Trump’s team. Rep. Devin Nunes’s dubious hackwork occurs in a season when zealous numbskulls are popping up like crocuses that Republicans forgot they planted. However, it should be noted that Nunes has been backed by Speaker Ryan. His mendacious, self-contradictory hit job on the FBI and DOJ, to which he promised sequels, feeds the noise-generating machine that helps the president obstruct justice. Perhaps the president’s lawyers will persuade him not to reprise President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre of October 1973, in which the top two officials at Justice resigned rather than fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. But Trump is ignorant, headstrong, and

convinced he is a law unto himself. And he is politically clever. His trash talk sells, as in the prelude to a WWE wrestling match. The destructiveness of his zero-sum politics does not matter to his rabble. Part of what blinds us to our situation is the media’s moral equivalence and its focus on the play-by-play of the game (a metaphor it hardens into reality) rather than the stakes. Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine dismissed Rep. Joe Kennedy’s SOTU response as mere rote recitation by a rival tribe, despite its appeal to a broad spectrum of people based on foundational American values. Seeking equality for all is not a tribalist enterprise. Sullivan lumped Kennedy in with Hillary Clinton based on the conservative shibboleth of “identity politics,” a trigger term that shuts down thought in those who refuse to recognize that people organize in identity groups because discrimination leaves them no choice. He dismissed Kennedy’s criticism of Trump’s racist immigration policies just a week after he dismissed intersectionality, which is simply about dealing with our inescapable diversity. A sign of the futility of arguing with some

people is how conservative wags ignored Democrats’ inspired choice of a 37-yearold for the response to Trump instead of another septuagenarian, and suggested that the glisten on his lip was from drool rather than lights reflecting on his Chapstick. Still, Kennedy has the youth, warmth, and ability to connect that Clinton lacked. “However,” as Prince Faisal notes in Lawrence of Arabia, “before the gardens must come the fighting.” Do we have the endurance and resolve to see this through? Trump is accompanied everywhere he goes by a military aide carrying the nuclear launch codes. Before November’s midterm elections as well as after, a lot of damage can be done that neither street protests nor all the trolls’ LOLs can undo. The first job of the resistance is to resist overconfidence. I notice that under the new tax law, my federal income tax deduction was lower this month, which is lucky in case the current spasm of revolution by multipart tweets fails to recapitulate Lenin’s arrival at Finland Station. As FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a message to employees after the release of the Nunes memo, “Talk is cheap; the work you do.


Alas, poor Jim Graham (and Michael Urie). I knew them. Estate auction gives new life to Council member’s collections

BROCK THOMPSON is a D.C.-based freelance writer. He writes regularly for the Blade.

First off, if you haven’t seen Michael Urie in Hamlet, what are you waiting for? Urie, in the titular role, provides something new and dynamic. Yes, you are probably wondering, how can Shakespeare’s longest play, a play well over 400 years old, be anything close to new? Taking the usual role of the down-in-themouth son pushed out of his birthright, Urie inserts a little velvet rage and makes Hamlet the gay son we always knew he could be.

Isn’t Hamlet a little bit gay anyway? Moody, always plotting, dynamic costume changes and a big, screaming fight at the end. Reminds me of a lot of my gay dodgeball friends. But, as I watched Urie’s Hamlet get tossed Yorick’s skull from out of a freshly dug grave somewhere in Act V, the ideas of a gay life, legacy, and what exactly of us is left behind were fairly palpable. Hamlet was Wednesday. My friend Russ surprised me with tickets. I surprised him Saturday by dragging him to former D.C. City Council member Jim Graham’s estate sale in Bethesda. He died last year and Graham had always intrigued me. He was a staple in Washington life, often spotted driving around in that convertible Volkswagen bug of his. We had only met once, bowtie and all, years ago when I first moved to the city, some junk store on 14th Street that’s now lamentably a smallplates wine bar or something. That was 12 years ago or so. I’m pretty sure the back room of that junk store had a dirt floor. Graham had a hard political fall. But all that aside, he earned all the laurels he could ever need through his work at

Whitman-Walker. At the preview before the auction, you could see Jim in all his glory, via his things, laid bare for everyone to see. And I do love a good auction — the excitement, the atmosphere, the picking up and fondling of objects and the possibility of then taking those objects home. Was Jim a hoarder? Maybe. What’s the real difference between a hoarder and a collector? A nicer apartment? Jim’s taste ran from the beautiful, to the curious, the comical, to the downright odd. The oddest piece being the collection of skulls. The room was full of gay men, many I recognized, looking over Jim’s gay life, now laid out on tables, in boxes, tagged with numbers. Gay men have a certain affinity for their possessions. Our homes are more likely to be near-curated. And like a wellmatched accessory, these items almost become an extension of us, telling a little story of our gay life. Sans children, do our possessions and collections mean something different? With Jim, he cared enough about these items to take them home and care for them. Each I’m assuming had a story. And now in the home of another

gay man, their story continues. Essentially, these curious items now have another 40 years of gay life added to them. I went home with a large, metal Greek god-type garden statue that I still have no idea what to do with. I have no garden. No one else was bidding on it and I guess I felt sorry for it. Dito sat front row in a large black mink coat. He went home with an array of items. As did my friend Pepin. I helped him carry out boxes of treasures. My friend Jocko went home with a collection of vintage costume jewelry, including an old Safeway name tag simply reading “Alice.” Anyone who knows Jocko knows these items found the right home. You have to wonder, who was Alice? And who was Jim Graham? Can anyone say they knew him? Perhaps. But so many gay men now have a little piece of him. And knowing what I knew of him, he would have loved that. Hamlet runs through March 4. The second installment of Jim Graham’s estate, including that Volkswagen, will be auctioned off March 10.


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This is the fourth annual Washington Blade Most Eligible LGBT Singles issue. It began with reader nominations — and there were many. From there, our staff chose the 20 most eligible with an eye for locals with interesting stories, those doing compelling work and yes, those who are easy on the eye! Meet them in person Saturday night, Feb. 10 at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) at 11 p.m.





Age: 39 Occupation: Clinical research manager (HIV and HEP C) at Whitman-Walker Health Identify as: Non-binary/genderqueer What are you looking for in a mate? A best friend who appreciates and possesses wit, intelligence and empathy. Someone who is self-aware and has the ability and desire to be emotionally available and communicative. Consistency and stability are incredibly important to me; as are passion, fun and lots of laughter. Biggest turn-off: Game playing and inconsistency. Biggest turn-on: Intelligence and wit. Hobbies: Games (darts, bowling, pool, poker, etc), going to movies and live performances, drag (I’m a two-time Best of Gay D.C. Best Drag King) and spending time with friends. Describe your ideal first date: Dinner and/or drinks and a movie. Pets, kids or neither? I have two amazing cats and an adorable little dog. I would love to have a family that includes kids at some point (adoption or fostering is a strong possibility). Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Not if they differ significantly or on certain pivotal issues. Celebrity crush: Tea Leoni, Archie Panjabi and Taye Diggs. One obscure fact about yourself: I have lived in nine states and had 36 addresses by the age of 36 (and no, my parents weren’t in the military).

Age: 36 Occupation: Navy officer, advocate, MBA student Identify as: Straight trans male What are you looking for in a mate? Authenticity, independence, confidence. Someone I can cook with because I hate cooking for just me (plus someone to enjoy my baking). An extrovert for my extreme introvertness. And must pass the dog test. Biggest turn-off: Drama, superficial, neediness Biggest turn-on: Powerful eyes and a wild spirit Hobbies: Board games, running, books, movies, breakfast and Lucas (the dog) Describe your ideal first date: Sunday breakfast (not brunch) in a quiet diner where we talk till lunch, then go for a walk. Pets, kids or neither? Lucas the dog Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Depends on the view. Celebrity crush: Anna Kendrick, Helen Hunt One obscure fact about yourself: I graduated from Bible college, meaning that during public speeches I can go into all out preacher mode.



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SCOTT KEY Age: 36 Occupation: Communications/marketing Identify as: gay What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is complete on their own, wants me to be complete on my own and sees a relationship as an enhancement of what we have as individuals. Someone with a strong thirst for life, keeps me on my toes, challenges and fascinates me and is reliable. Oh, and has Elite airline status. (Kidding ... kinda.) Biggest turn-off: Self-obsession, lack of compassion, inauthenticity Biggest turn-on: Confident but humble, funny but not attention-driven, stubble Hobbies: Fitness, travel, food/wine, college sports, live music, pizza Describe your ideal first date: Discovering we have a genuine connection through engaging conversation, frequent laughter and a healthy dose of bedroom eyes. Pets, kids or neither? Pets = dogs. Let’s talk kids down the road. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? yes Celebrity crush: Scott Eastwood One obscure fact about yourself: I have a tendency to randomly see celebrities while on vacation. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTOS BY MICHAEL KEY





Age: 47 Occupation: Surgical devices sales rep, undercover activist. Identify as: I fall somewhere between L and Q. What are you looking for in a mate? Similarities, differences. Push and pull. A straight shooter. I’m available for the kind of connection that creates fireworks and deep calm for both of us on multiple levels: intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical. A perfectly imperfect partnership. Biggest turn-off: Substance abuse. Disingenuousness. I work hard to keep becoming and I don’t want to be with people who are invested in staying stuck. Biggest turn-on: Authenticity. Humility. Courage. A “still-waters-run-deep” type with a kinky private side or a bad ass with a tender underbelly. An invitation to that private side or underbelly. Hobbies: Running, races, day trips, adventuring, lallygagging, exploring, meditation, giving back, being near water, baking, social justice, chasing fire flies, orchids, picnicking and sharing my life with people I love. I will gladly try almost anything once. Describe your ideal first date: We find a local place to share a meal. This gives us a chance to talk and get to know more about each other. There’s an easy comfort, lots of laughter and undeniable sparks of chemistry. Pets, kids or neither? I have a fabulous adult daughter who swings by from time to time on her way to or from her next adventure. I don’t have pets, but I love pets. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Sure, as long as their views and actions don’t involve marginalizing or oppressing other people and groups. Celebrity crush: Nadia Bolz-Weber, Chris Mosier One obscure fact about yourself: I grew up on a small farm on the rural Eastern Shore. I know what a chicken running around with it’s head cut off really looks like. (Bonus, though, I can chop wood, tend livestock, brew kombucha and I’m great at canning just about anything!)

Age: 25 Occupation: I am a program advisor on vulnerable women and children in conflict zones. Identify as: queer What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is thoughtful and compassionate with purpose and drive, while challenging and inspiring me to grow. Quick wit, a sense of humor, a lust for life and a penchant for adventure don’t hurt either. Biggest turn-off: Complacency, a lack of introspection, immaturity and bad hygiene. Biggest turn-on: Passion, subtle confidence, beautiful eyes and a strong sense of self. Bonus points for being able to match me drink for drink. Hobbies: Romping around the great outdoors, building the perfect vinyl collection, checking out art exhibits and a bit of boxing here and there. Describe your ideal first date: My ideal first date would include trying something new (curling anyone?), getting to know each other over a glass of prosecco and, because life is all about balance, ending the night at Nellie’s with a Red Bull/vodka in hand. Pets, kids or neither? Shout out to my rescue wolf pup, Niko. Adopt, don’t shop y’all. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? If we share the same values, want similar things out of life and have a genuine connection, why not? Celebrity crush: Cate Blanchett (not sorry). One obscure fact about yourself: I once traveled over six hours from Istanbul to remote thermal springs and a cave in Turkey using only a map drawn on a napkin by a random local in a restaurant.



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SULA MALINA Age: 22 Occupation: Children, youth and families program coordinator at an LGBTQ civil rights organization. Identify as: Queer, non-binary, transmasculine femme What are you looking for in a mate? Self-awareness, kindness, a commitment to a partnership (monogamous or otherwise), and a nuanced sense of humor (someone who laughs at my wit and my dad jokes). Bonus points if we can harmonize and have good blend, especially if you’re up for dreaming about a family band. Biggest turn-off: Meanness, bad communicators, gasping at minor inconveniences/surprises, people who think mental health is about your mindset. Biggest turn-on: Getting my pronouns right (they/them), good taste in music, distinct-smelling shampoo that lingers on my pillow, radical vulnerability, eye contact. Leos. Hobbies: Singing, beatboxing, playing guitar and piano, whittling, writing creative nonfiction, biking, cooking. And tracking packages. Describe your ideal first date: We make a reservation for dinner and tell them it’s our 10th wedding anniversary. We really commit and cry when they bring out the complimentary slice of cake. Everyone in the restaurant stands up and chants “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” And that’s our first kiss. Pets, kids or neither? Both, born on the same day and growing up side by side. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Nope. “Political views” is a term people use to neutralize and justify their “opinion” on whose lives have value. Always down to talk, though. Celebrity crush: Kehlani One obscure fact about yourself: I wore a huge handlebar mustache to school on the first day of eighth grade and didn’t know I was gay until three years later.


CODY WILLMING Age: 25 Occupation: Legislative assistant, Capitol Hill Identify as: gay What are you looking for in a mate? A good sense of humor won’t make a relationship, but it is the first indicator of compatibility that I look for. Equally as important are respect, kindness, and honesty. More specifically, I’m looking for someone confident and engaging who loves animals (dogs and cats) as much as I do, but doesn’t take himself too seriously. Someone who stays in good shape but also won’t judge me for indulging in fast food or an absurd tiki drink. Biggest turn-off: Arrogance, prejudice, opportunism and negativity. Biggest turn-on: Confidence, humility, a handsome smile and wit. Scruff is always a nice plus. Hobbies: Traveling, working at the bar to pay for my travel bug, reading and working out. Describe your ideal first date: Ideally just drinks or coffee to keep the pressure off. Anywhere we can have a chance to chat and get to know each other without expectations. Pets, kids or neither? This is a trick question because pets are kids. For the foreseeable future, though, just animals to keep the heart full. With the right guy and life circumstances, kids could be a possibility. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Only if he could be respectful and walk in another’s shoes. The willingness to think critically, no matter his politics, is a must. Celebrity crush: Scott Eastwood, Chris Evans, Matt Bomer, Chris Hemsworth One obscure fact about yourself: I went to Space Camp as a kid at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and I’m a total “Trekkie.”

JUSTIN FYALA Age: 34 Occupation: executive director, Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington Identify as: gay What are you looking for in a mate? Intelligence, patience, kindness and honesty. Must like traveling, art and music events, adventures, good dogs and good food. Must accept my odd work schedule and laugh at my bad jokes. Biggest turn-off: Indifference Biggest turn-on: A large vocabulary Hobbies: Reading, hiking, cars, botany, swimming and dancing Describe your ideal first date: To share a drink and a meal, then be taken to one of my date’s favorite places. Bonus points if no one else knows it’s your favorite place. Pets, kids or neither? pets Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? I would consider dating a fiscally conservative-leaning person, but not one who voted for a conspirator. Celebrity crush: Adele and Meryl Streep, in equal measure One obscure fact about yourself: My ears are featured in medical textbooks. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTOS BY MICHAEL KEY




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Age: Old enough for an AARP card Occupation: Host, emcee, columnist, writer, wedding officiant and nail technician Identify as: gender-blender What are you looking for in a mate? I am looking for someone who wants a serious relationship and has good communication skills. My mate should also be honest, hard working, romantic, and after things get serious, be flexible in bed. Biggest turn-off: People who, regardless of their age, act like they’re ready for Shady Pines. Biggest turn-on: People who are not afraid to approach me and be clear about what they want. Hobbies: Reading, listening to music, watching old movies, going to museums, walking in the park, traveling and tweeting Describe your ideal first date: We would go to the park on a spring afternoon where my date would surprise me with a picnic of homemade southern delicacies. Pets, kids or neither? I already have both and I say the more, the merrier. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? I would date a liberal, a conservative, a libertarian and even an anarchist, but I will not date anyone who voted for the current president. Celebrity crush: Laith Ashley, Hugh Jackman and Maxwell. One obscure fact about yourself: My appreciation of music includes classic country music — Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell.

Age: 44 Occupation: Director of communications, National LGBTQ Task Force Identify as: bisexual, relationship anarchist What are you looking for in a mate? What I look for in my partners is kindness, groundedness, and compassion. I give extra points for bikers, Buddhists and social justice activists. What matters most to me with the people I love is that they deep dive into what makes them happy, they are constantly learning and they give of themselves to the greater community. Biggest turn-off: Narrow-mindedness Biggest turn-on: Compassion Hobbies: Motorcycles, LGBTQ dance protests, culinary arts Describe your ideal first date: Let’s drink great wine, eat well and explore together the places where we can team up and add to each other’s lives. One of my favorite spots to do this is Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan. Pets, kids or neither? I’ll love your kids and sneeze at your furry pets. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? I am so far to the left, I invariably date people with different political views. Celebrity crush: Alive: Taraji P. Henson; Dead: David Bowie One obscure fact about yourself: I am the first sergeant of hotness ever. I don’t love the title, sergeant at arms, because it sounds a bit like military and I am a peace activist devoted to non-violence.



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Age: 28 Occupation: Manager, organizing and electoral campaigns, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Identify as: queer What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is down to explore the city (the world), wants to go to a show and makeout about it Biggest turn-off: Lack of empathy, lack of curiosity Biggest turn-on: A contagious smile, a brilliant laugh, emotional intelligence, someone who wants to talk about social justice over a glass of whiskey. Hobbies: Anything that makes me feel more full: spending time with my queer community, reading, going to yoga, going to shows, cooking with my roomies Describe your ideal first date: I love getting vulnerable on the first date. Some of my favorite firsts have been at bookstores, whiskey bars or when someone sends me a list of yummy restaurants I haven’t been to and lets me pick. Pets, kids or neither? Pets. My dream is to own a dalmatian again one day. Maybe kids, who knows? Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Absolutely not. My passion and life’s work is realizing justice in our world, which is so deeply entrenched and affected by policies and politics. It comes back to that empathy thing, you know? Celebrity crush: Kathleen Hanna, Staceyann Chin, Janet Mock, Travis Barker One obscure fact about yourself: I want to tell you about how my tonsillectomy changed my life.

Age: 36 Occupation: Chief product officer, International WELL Building Institute Identify as: Seeking women, but keeping my heart open. What are you looking for in a mate? Kindness, authenticity, warmth, humor and a perpetual commitment to becoming a better person. Biggest turn-off: Leaving me waiting. Biggest turn-on: Self-assurance coupled with humility and accompanied by a radiant smile. Hobbies: Yoga every day. Also beachcombing, succulent farming, audiobooking, cocktail crafting, D-I-Y projects of all varieties, and lately, so much solidcore. Describe your ideal first date: The lights come on, the music dies and we suddenly realize we are the last remaining people in the restaurant. Pets, kids or neither? Yes to kids. Yes to puppies. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Like I said, I’m keeping my heart open. Celebrity crush: What if I answer and jeopardize my chances? One obscure fact about yourself: I was an extra aboard the muggle train in the second Harry Potter movie.



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Travel with the BEST, we’ll do the rest!

>Free Wi-Fi Available >Free Water for Everyone >Electric Plugs Under Every Seat


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Age: 32 Occupation: Lawyer and independent singer-songwriter Identify as: gay/queer What are you looking for in a mate? Ultimately I’m looking for someone to share my life with, someone who believes in love and the work it takes to make love work. Ideally, this person is into music, food, dogs, coffee shops, reading and traveling, they have their own creative passions and pursuits and they approach life as an extended journey of personal growth and development. Also I love to be silly and have all the fun with my friends, so I’m definitely looking for someone who is down to get a little weird and (at least occasionally) make a fool of themselves. Biggest turn-off: Racism, misogyny, smoking, indifference towards music/art/life. Biggest turn-on: Intelligence, passion and a nice butt. Hobbies: Donuts. Also playing and writing music, taking 35mm photos and spoiling my dog Schroeder. Describe your ideal first date: Something delicious and a fun activity, like coffee and a museum, ramen and ice skating or drinks and watching the Olympics. Something fun and comfortable that lets us talk and get to know each other. Pets, kids or neither? dogs Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Sure, but there are limits. Plenty of political issues are open for discussion and debate, but if you voted for anyone other than Hill-dawg in the last election, please swipe left. Celebrity crush: Evan Rachel Wood One obscure fact about yourself: When I was 9, a poem I wrote was published in a national anthology of poetry alongside a poem written by one of my future best friends. We met 10 years later.

Age: 30 Occupation: Political director of LGBTQ Victory Fund Identify as: gay What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is looking for an adventure and willing to be a supportive partner in whatever we do or wherever we go. Biggest turn-off: smoking Biggest turn-on: Passion toward making the world a better place Hobbies: Travel, history, sci-fi, dodgeball, modeling, politics and loving sea turtles Describe your ideal first date: Exploring a new restaurant, bar or place we’ve never been. Pets, kids or neither? Dog, yes; kids, hopefully Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? It’s a broad spectrum, but if you’re on the far right, it isn’t gonna happen. Celebrity crush: Shazad Latif from the new “Star Trek: Discovery” is pretty cute. One obscure fact about yourself: I despise pickles almost as much as I do Donald Trump




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Age: 39 Occupation: program manager Identify as: queer What are you looking for in a mate? I’m looking for someone who is creative, funny, family oriented and has a sense of adventure. Biggest turn-off: When someone doesn’t say thank you. Biggest turn-on: creativity and a sense of humor Hobbies: urban hikes, Scrabble, watching documentaries. Describe your ideal first date: Keep it simple — walk around D.C. and grab &Pizza Pets, kids or neither? I love being an (a)uncle but don’t want kids. I would be open to getting a dog. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? no Celebrity crush: Nia Long One obscure fact about yourself: My first concert was New Kids on the Block.

Age: 35 Occupation: Executive director, Pride Fund to End Gun Violence Identify as: gay What are you looking for in a mate? Having a sense of humor is key. I love to laugh and have a good time. I want to be with someone who is goal-driven and focused but not obsessed with their work. Someone who is supportive and communicates well. I grew up on a small farm in rural North Carolina and have a large extended family, so someone who is genuine and family focused would be great. If they are a southern gentleman, and/or a good cook even better. Biggest turn-off: Arrogance and sense of entitlement. Biggest turn-on: Being romantic and thoughtful. Hobbies: Reading, music, TV, cooking, traveling, coffee, landscaping and home remodeling. I love to be in my yard or working on a project around the house. Describe your ideal first date: Enjoying good food and conversation over a quiet dinner, then grabbing coffee and going for a walk. Pets, kids or neither? Both. I love dogs and love kids. So why not one of each? Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Probably not, but I wouldn’t 100 percent rule it out if the guy was a moderate Republican and the dynamic was right. We live in such a polarized society that being with someone who shares my values is important. I’m a moderate Democrat. Celebrity crush: Justin Hartley from “This Is Us” One obscure fact about yourself: I served in the Army Reserves for 14 years and did a combat tour in Iraq.



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Age: 39 Occupation: stylist Identify as: gay What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is fun, committed and has a good heart. Biggest turn-off: Hard partying Biggest turn-on: Altruism Hobbies: Traveling, HIIT training, home decor and improvement, mentoring Describe your ideal first date: Art and conversation Pets, kids or neither? Neither Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Probably not Celebrity crush: James Franco One obscure fact about yourself: I’ve been in some movies and campaign ads

Age: 33 Occupation: Software Product Manager Identify as: lesbian What are you looking for in a mate? Communication, loyalty and self-confidence are nonnegotiable. My ideal mate cares about the environment, eats healthy (vegan is a plus) and wants to build a family. We trust one another and don’t live by society rules. We both aim to have a good balance between going out, staying home, romance and spending time with family and friends. Biggest turn-off: Prejudice, violence, discrimination Biggest turn-on: Intellectual creativity, authenticity, curiosity, dedication, inside-out beauty Hobbies: Going to art events, road-biking, discovering small restaurants, museums, nature adventures, exploring the city, reading non-fiction, traveling, watching movies, finding something to fix, and learning new skills. Describe your ideal first date: My ideal first date isn’t defined by location or activity, but by an interesting and genuine conversation. There is no plan; we just treat ourselves and go on a day of discovery and adventure. We do something unusual. Pets, kids or neither? Both. I want kids, and a dog and/or cat. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? It would not be a deal breaker, but I would struggle if we had completely opposing views, especially on topics such as freedom and equality. Celebrity crush: Jessica Alba One obscure fact about yourself: I secretly enjoy writing free-verse poems (not so secret anymore).




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Age: 41 Occupation: Higher education advocate Identify as: Made in Miami, Cuban parts. What are you looking for in a mate? Drive, humility, humor, style. Eye candy and soul food. Biggest turn-off: Zero to “So, what do you do?” Biggest turn-on: A handwritten note. Hobbies: Graffiti-filled urban adventures. Graphic design. Fonts. Biographies + bio-pics. Indie film. Describe your ideal first date: Equal air time. Lots of laughter. Pets, kids or neither? All of the above. Being an uncle is a good start. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? Definitely. There’s nothing like a good filibuster. Celebrity crush: Anderson 360 One obscure fact about yourself: Spelling Bee champ, 1982

Age: 25 Occupation: CEO and publisher of Argot Magazine Identify as: queer/lesbian What are you looking for in a mate? I’m not totally sure what I’m looking for; sometimes the chemistry is there and sometimes it’s not. There are qualities I think it’s important for a person to have or embody and I try my hardest to reflect those too. I believe in consideration and care, empathy and kindness. I like people who are ambitious in their own lives and driven to succeed not just in their careers but in bettering themselves. Someone with boundaries and who knows themselves, where they end and you begin. Let’s just say I’m looking for someone to competitively brunch with. Biggest turn-off: Bad tipping habits, treating people callously. Biggest turn-on: Good communication. Hobbies: Hanging out with my dog, eating macaroni and cheese, watching nature documentaries on Netflix. Describe your ideal first date: Food and a museum, can’t go wrong with that. Pets, kids or neither? Well I have a dog and he and I are pretty much a package deal. It’s really hard to want children, the cost and responsibility just feels like too much to me at this point in time. I also think climate change is just too much of a burden to put on the next generation and if we’re talking about biological children, it’d feel irresponsible to bring further people into world. Would you date someone whose political views differ from yours? I don’t think I would date someone more conservative than I, but I would date someone more liberal than I am (if they would deign to have more conservative me). Celebrity crush: SZA is a fantastic artist and has a really gorgeous smile. One obscure fact about yourself: I went to sailing camp in the summer for a few years and used to competitively sail.


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Blade singles class of 2017 check in FROM STAFF REPORTS

GUY ANTHONY What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? I relocated to New York last July and I am still happily single. I met someone after the story ran and we dated for about eight months. It was a wonderful relationship. How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? It was wonderful and I actually went on a few dates with guys who actually saw me in the Blade. I felt like Beyonce for a few weeks. Then, sadly, it was back to reality. Any advice to this year’s winners? Take full advantage of the discounted drinks at Nellie’s and remember to date often until you find the right person for you. Never feel tempted to settle just because everyone else around you is.

BRITTANY WALSH What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? I’m in a something with a person and that something is open. If dating someone, where/how did you meet? Actually the person was a date to the Most Eligible Single event last year but we’d been on a few dates before that. How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? It was mostly a good laugh and a bonding experience as it seemed to give my coworkers and anyone I’d meet in community, something to talk about. I like the sass/subtle jabs and pokes that came with it. I think it led to one date. Any advice to this year’s winners? I don’t think i’m one for advice but my wish is for the winners to, ya know, take their win seriously and, uh, I wanna see world peace.

ALESIA MICHELLE What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? I am in a relationship. If dating someone, where/how did you meet? I met my girlfriend at a Maker’s Lab Beyonce birthday party. She asked me to dance. But things weren’t so simple. I had to ask her at least 20 times to link up before she finally gave me a shot. How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? Being named a “Blade Most Eligible Single” was a very cool experience and definitely led to some propositions. Any advice to this year’s winners? My advice to the new class of singles is to soak it up. Put yourself out there and try not to pay for your own drinks.

CONSUELLA LOPEZ What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? Still single. Not dating anyone because men aren’t comfortable dating a transgender woman in public. How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates?

No one contacted me for a date. Any advice to this year’s winners? If you are transgender and trying to date, go a different route because I’m very confident in the way I look and I didn’t even get asked out on a date.

TAYLOR LIANNE CHANDLER What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? I am in a relationship since November. If dating someone, where/how did you meet? Met him on a dating app. He tried to get my attention for a year before I noticed. How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? The experience was a blast! Especially doing the photo shoot and getting to see parts of D.C. I had never seen before. I got a lot of national press that was positive for a change. It helped make me more comfortable being out publicly as intersex. I met someone the night of the event who came out specifically to meet me. We dated until April. Any advice to this year’s winners? Never be afraid to put yourself outside your comfort zone and take a chance. Dating should be an adventure and fun. Don’t go into it with the baggage from the past. Good luck to this years winners and I hope you find that special someone.

MATTIA D’AFFUSO What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? I started dating someone shortly after last year’s most eligible single event, but I am now single again. How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? I started dating someone shortly after so no. Any advice to this year’s winners? Have fun and be nice.

DIANE MELIS What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? Currently single and open to dating If dating someone, where/how did you meet? I had a relationship in the summer and fall. We met out at Coven a ladies night hosted by Kate Ross, another eligible single from last year. How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? I thought it was a super fun experience. The event was my birthday weekend so it really added some fun and something else to celebrate. It was a great fun fact to throw out there and I still have the article that was posted in the paper. Any advice to this year’s winners? Have fun with it and enjoy it. Your friends nominated you for a reason so don’t get to serious or worry about getting dates. Just enjoy the ride.

LISA MARIE THALHAMMER What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? After the 2017 Most Eligible Singles ceremony at Town, the very next morning I was contacted by a 2016 Most Eligible Single whom I had a year-long crush on. We unknowingly had been neighbors for years. Ultimately we found we made better friends but even so, it was a very positive source of strength and we supported each other through a wild year. How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? I have a lot of gratitude for the Washington Blade and how it continues to build our community, providing a platform for LGBTQ voices to be heard by featuring our people, reporting our news and strengthening our relationships by encouraging love toward each other and ourselves. Any advice to this year’s winners? My advice to this year’s singles is to leave your phone on airplane mode once in a while, keep your head lifted high and your eyes wide open. Your greatest love might be standing right across from you. Don’t miss those opportunities to make real world connections. Fall in love with yourself, the world and people around you.

JOE DONNELLY What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? Single How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? The experience was flattering. I saw an uptick in unsolicited Facebook requests after the issue. It did not lead to any dates for me (I was not really expecting that result). It was nice to be selected. Any advice to this year’s winners? Just enjoy and have fun with it.

JULIA DeLOIS What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? Still single. How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? No one contacted me. Any advice to this year’s winners? Definitely fun as a treat and honor but don’t put too many eggs in this basket.

DAVID TORIAN What is your relationship status now, one year after being named a Blade Most Eligible Single? Single How was the experience of being named a Blade Most Eligible Single — did it lead to any dates? I was honored and excited to be named. Sadly, no dates came of it. Any advice to this year’s winners? Be honored for being selected.


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By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com The first-ever Queer Girls Movie Night had a covert feel to it. While a college student at American University, Mary Cristina Wright noticed her friend Rebecca Day referring to her hangout nights with friends as “queer girl movie nights.” Wright liked the sound of it and one day decided to “borrow” the key to one of the school’s conference rooms that had a projector. She put up posters around campus and screened “But I’m a Cheerleader” for about 25 folks who showed up. They didn’t get caught. Wright says the event “definitely cemented my love for organizing community events.” After graduating, she missed the sense of community those evenings offered so about two years ago the first post-college Queer Girl Movie Night was held and it’s been going on ever since. Queer Girl Movie Night and Dyke Bar Takeover D.C. are joining forces for “QGMNxDBT D.C.: Galentines Edition” on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Comet Ping Pong (5037 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) at 6 p.m. This month’s selection is an episode of “Black Mirror,” which starts at 8 p.m. Look for the group on Facebook for details. Their regular February screening will be Thursday, Feb. 22 at Pansaari. Queer Girl Movie Nights are always free. Locations vary. They’ve had screenings at Suns Cinema, the Black Cat, Colony Club and Comet Ping Pong since outgrowing home screenings. Usually between 50-100 attend. Wright says the popularity of the event speaks to the need for more gathering spaces for queer D.C. women. Most of the screenings, which Wright selects, are about queer women and usually written and directed by queer women as well. “It started with the intention to create space for queer women,” Wright, a 25-year-old Panama City native, says. “There’s a definite void in brick-andmortar spaces but not at all in terms of activity. There are so many organizers in D.C. and every year the amount and diversity of events seems to grow.” Wright came to Washington for college seven years ago and stayed. She works by day as a videographer at the Kennedy Center and lives in a “super queer” group house in Petworth. She’s single and enjoys movies, skateboarding and supporting other queer events in her free time.

Serving Our Community for 35 years

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FamiLY | eState PLaNNiNG | emPLoYmeNt | immiGratioN ComPLeX LitiGatioN | CiviL riGHtS | LGBt | adoPtioN | BuSiNeSS

Silber, Perlman, Sigman & Tilev, P.A.

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6 9 3 0 C a r r o L L av e , S u i t e 6 1 0 • ta k o m a Pa r k m d

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I didn’t realize I was gay until what feels like late in the game. I fell in love with someone my junior year of college and have gotten gayer every day since. I didn’t technically tell her, but the hardest person to come out to was definitely my mom. She left my college graduation when she found out. Then my girlfriend at the time and I went to Chipotle and I cried. Who’s your LGBT hero? My dad, José Badué. He was actually my Spanish professor in college and took me under his wing when my family rejected me after finding out I was gay. He’s also gay and Hispanic and is my chosen family. I learn so much about queer history through him, and I appreciate having such an important and impactful cross-generational relationship with someone I can relate to across so many different areas of my life. What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? Suns Cinema! It was the first public space to let me host a Queer Girls Movie Night. Describe your dream wedding. White overalls. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Everything is related, so I don’t see issues as “non”-LGBT. What historical outcome would you change? I’d rather focus on changing the future, based on historical outcomes, and that’s why I’m so passionate about creating safe, queer spaces for women in my community. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Kristen Stewart saying “I’m so gay” on SNL. On what do you insist? Respecting others What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? I posted a song by Reyna Tropical called “Niña.” One of the band members is the founder of She Shreds Mag, a

magazine focused on women guitarists. If your life were a book, what would the title be? I haven’t lived it all yet so I’m not sure. If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Still be gay. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? The Internet What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Constantly ask yourself if your movement is truly inclusive and accessible for everyone. What would you walk across hot coals for? Nothing. My projector maybe. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? Lesbian bed death. Or more so that people don’t show up and that’s why there are no queer spaces for women. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? Tossup between Cheryl Dunye’s “The Watermelon Woman” and Desiree Akhavan’s “Appropriate Behavior.” Both women wrote, directed and starred in their respective films and I find that vulnerability very brave. What’s the most overrated social custom? Happy hours, or just the pressure to go out. Time for yourself is not a waste of a weekend. What trophy or prize do you most covet? It’s not technically a trophy, but one of my best friends gifted me the box set of “The L Word” and I want to be buried with it. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That I was super gaaaay (kidding, but not really). I wish I’d known that everyone is insecure and that’s OK. Why Washington? Why not? D.C. has such an active, creative, queer community that is just as important as its political one.


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I love wandering through Smithsonian museums, eating on H Street with friends, and going to shows at Howard Theatre.

I’m a transgender woman and I’m part of DC. Please treat me the way any woman would want to be treated: with courtesy and respect. Discrimination based on gender identity and expression is illegal in the District of Columbia. If you think you’ve been the target of discrimination, visit www.ohr.dc.gov or call (202) 727-4559.



Show your support! Spread word of the #TransRespect campaign by photographing this ad and sharing on Twitter.

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FE B R U A R Y 09, 2018 • 43

Kennedy Center debut

Unlikely pair The queen and prime minister spar in witty ‘Handbagged’ By PATRICK FOLLIARD Early in “Handbagged,” British playwright Moira Buffini’s timely take on the prickly relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher, we’re given a glimpse of the Prime Minister’s unyielding will. When a hospitable Queen Elizabeth offers the politician a seat, she instantly and adamantly refuses. A sternly said, “No,” it turns out, is an utterance with which Thatcher is very comfortable. Now making its American premiere at Round House Theatre, the two-act play is structured around weekly meetings between sovereign and her first female Prime Minister spanning Thatcher’s 11 years in office (1979-1990). Because the contents of these historical tête-à-têtes are mostly unknown, Buffini imagines what was said based on dubious leaks, reported dispositions and track records. When the powerful pair are first alone on royal turf, the Queen (wearing sensible low heels) assures Thatcher (uniformed in power suit, high heels and even higher hair), “Whatever we say, must stay within these three walls,” as she looks through the fourth wall into the audience. The characters periodically address the audience directly, filling us in on how they really feel. Throughout “Handbagged” there are always two Queens and two Thatchers on Richard Kent’s stark white set. Beth Hylton and Jennifer Mendenhall play the middle aged and older Queen, respectively, while Susan Lynskey is the Prime Minister in office and Kate Fahy assays the older Thatcher. The more mature versions of the women amusingly perform damage control, quashing indiscreet thoughts or actions their younger selves might reveal. While it may sound a tad confusing, Indhu Rubasingham’s adroit staging ensures that it never gets awkward. Contemporaries in age, both women are married, working mums who adored their fathers. But that’s where similarities end. The Queen was born into the job whereas Thatcher’s rise from modest

shopkeeper’s daughter to Oxford graduate to powerful politician was based on merit and propelled by sheer grit. Over weekly tea, the pair find they have little in common other than a love for Britain. Thatcher has no time for jokes, gossip, horses, dogs or chilly picnics in Scotland, all things the Queen adores. She predictably balks on corporate regulation, health benefits, workers’ rights, sanctions against apartheid in South Africa and so on. It’s easy to see how she was nicknamed the Iron Lady. To the Queen’s dismay, Thatcher simply doesn’t bend. And while this setup might prove a one-joke show, layered performances, smart writing and direction prevent that from happening. When not frowning disapprovingly, Mendenhall’s older Queen, or simply Q, is twinkly as she lands the well-timed barb. She’s also quite chummy with her hard-working younger self, Hylton’s Liz. Lynskey’s Mags is scarily determined though sometimes sentimental. And Fahy’s older Thatcher, or T, who most resembles her character, makes for a severe yet haunting presence. As Actor 1 and Actor 2, Cody LeRoy Wilson and John Lescault ably play 17 parts ranging from Thatcher’s florid, cheerleader husband Dennis (Lescault) to union leaders to the Prime Minister’s political idol and crush Ronald Reagan and his society-smitten wife Nancy (Wilson with bare, hairy legs poking out from the skirt of Nancy’s signature red Adolfo suit). A couple years ago when Round House first discussed mounting “Handbagged,” they assumed that by now the U.S. would have elected its first woman president. But Buffini’s play about rabidly opposed ideologies in ‘80s British politics resonates even more given our current political scenario. Snippets of dialogue including “collude” and “widening wealth gap” drew chuckles and groans of recognition from the audience on opening night. ‘HANDBAGGED’ Through March 3 Round House Theatre 4545 East-West Highway in Bethesda $45-65 240-644-1100 Roundhousetheatre.com

DIAVOLO Jacques Heim, Creative Director

“Passengers” from L.O.S.T. D.C. premiere

The Veterans Project: A Long Journey Home D.C. premiere

Trajectoire D.C. premiere

February 23 & 24 Eisenhower Theater TICKETS ON SALE NOW! KENNEDY-CENTER.ORG | (202) 467-4600

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“Passengers” from L.O.S.T., photo by George Simian


KATE FAHY, left, and JENNIFER MENDENHALL in ‘Handbagged.’


4 4 • F EB RUA RY 0 9, 2018


This Week in the Arts provided by CultureCapital.com DANCE Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Thru Feb 11. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Kei Takei & Maida Withers. Feb 10Feb 11. Dance Place. danceplace.org.

MUSIC National Geographic Nights: Bird Nerds Feb 15. National Geographic. nglive.org.

Peek inside the mysterious and remarkable world of birds with wildlife photographer Bertie Gregory, birder Washington Wachira, ecologist Anusha Shankar, and ornithologist Çağan Şekercioğlu—while experiencing the beats of wildlife sound artist Ben Mirin. Fun interactive activities, lively music, food, and drink specials at a cash bar.

Something Rotten! Thru Feb 18. National Theatre. thenationaldc.org.

Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first MUSICAL! With its heart on its ruffled sleeve and sequins in its soul, Something Rotten! is “The Producers + Spamalot + The Book of Mormon. Squared!” (New York Magazine).

Living the Dream…Singing the Dream Feb 11. Washington Performing Arts & Choral Arts Society at The Kennedy Center. choralarts.org. washingtonperformingarts.org.

The Choral Arts Chorus and the Washington Performing Arts Gospel Choirs raise joyful voices in performing the powerful music that has given voice to the voiceless for generations in this 30th annual choral tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Imogen Thru Feb 11. Pointless Theatre at Dance Loft on 14. pointlesstheatre.com.

A re-imagination of Shakespeare’s romance, Cymbeline. Get ready for a mashup of the Bards’ most classic plot twists - mis-identity, an estranged royal family, fantastical forests, and a wicked stepmother - told through stylized movement and shadow puppetry. PHOTO COURTESY OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

THEATRE Edgar Allan Poe’s Nevermore. Feb 15. Strathmore. strathmore.org. The Way of the World. Thru Feb 11. Folger Theatre. folger.edu. Chess. Feb 14-Feb 18. Shear Madness. Thru Jun 10. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. 4,380 Nights. Thru Feb 18. Light Years. Thru Mar 4. Signature Theatre. sigtheatre.org. Jefferson’s Garden. Thru Feb 11. Ford’s Theatre. fords.org. La Foto (A Selfie Affair). Thru Feb 25. GALA Hispanic Theatre. galatheatre.org.

Unnecessary Farce. Thru Feb 10. Keegan Theatre. keegantheatre.com. Aubergine. Thru Mar 4. Olney Theatre. olneytheatre.org. The Wolves. Thru Feb 4. Studio Theatre. studiotheatre.org. Eurydice. Feb 9-Feb 17. The Clarice. theclarice.umd.edu. Familiar. Thru Mar 4. Woolly Mammoth. woollymammoth.net. Naked Girls Reading. Feb 9. Improv Wars. Feb 12-May 21. DC Arts Center. dcartscenter.org. Cabaret Rising One Nation. Underground. Feb 9-Mar 4. Dupont Underground. dupontunderground.org.

Uasuf Gueye. Feb 14-28. Strathmore. strathmore.org. Alexandre Tharaud, piano. Feb 13. Washington Performing Arts at Kennedy Center. washingtonperformingarts.org. NSO: Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony. Thru Feb 10. NSO: West Side Story in Concert. Feb 14-Feb 17. Eric Harland, Voyager. Feb 9. Randy Weston’s African Rhythms. Feb 10. Alice Smith & Bilal. Feb 10. John Holiday in Recital. Feb 15. China NSO / Tan Dun, conductor. Feb 15. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra. Feb 9. TAO: Drum Heart. Feb 10. GMU Center for the Arts. cfa.gmu.edu. Wilson and Pandolfi, Still, and More! Feb 11. Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association. Church of the Epiphany. wmpamusic.org. Voxare String Quartet. Feb 11-Feb 12. Dumbarton Oaks. doaks.org. Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet. Feb 9. Dumbarton Concerts. United Methodist Church. Imani-Grace Cooper, Vocalist. Feb 14. Hill Center. hillcenterdc.org. Curtis on Tour. Feb 11. National Gallery of Art. nga.gov. Contemporary Classical Concert. Feb 11. Anderson House. societyofthecincinnati.org. Brian Ganz Plays Chopin. Feb 10. National Philharmonic. Strathmore. nationalphilharmonic.org. Marcia Ball. Feb 9. Masters of Hawaiian Music. Feb 10-Feb 11. Wolf Trap. The Barns. wolftrap.org. National Chamber Ensemble: The Romantic Violin for Two. Feb 10. National Chamber Ensemble. Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. nationalchamberensemble.org. Golden Age of Latin Music. Feb 10. globalFEST. Feb 10. Loston Harris. Feb 14. BlackRock. blackrockcenter.org.

MUSEUMS National Archives. Remembering Vietnam. Thru Jan 6. archivesfoundation.org. Folger Shakespeare Library. Painting Shakespeare. Thru Feb 11. folger.edu.

Anderson House. Studying the Art of War in Revolutionary America. Thru Mar 4. societyofthecincinnati.org. Dumbarton Oaks. Collecting in Paris and London, 1912–1919. Thru Mar 31. doaks.org. Kreeger Museum. Against the Day by Richard Deutsch. Thru Jan 1. kreegermuseum.org. Library of Congress. Drawn to Purpose. Thru Oct 20. loc.gov. National Gallery of Art. Jackson Pollock’s ‘Mural’. Thru Oct 28. nga.gov. National Geographic. Day to Night: In the Field With Stephen Wilkes. Feb 13Apr 22. nglive.org. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Hung Liu In Print. Thru Jul 8. nmwa.org. National Portrait Gallery. Portraits of the World: Switzerland. Thru Nov 12. npg.si.edu. Woodrow Wilson House. The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay. Thru Feb 28. woodrowwilsonhouse.org.

GALLERIES Strathmore. Poe & Puck: The 27th Annual Strathmore Juried Exhibition. Thru Mar 4. strathmore.org. Bender JCC. Na’aseh V’nishma. Thru Feb 14. benderjccgw.org. Waverly Street Gallery. 40+ Local Artists. Thru Mar 3. waverlystreetgallery.com. Zenith Gallery. Light Up Your HeART. Feb 14-Mar 24. zenithgallery.com. District Architecture Center. Hoachlander Davis: Photographing Spaces. Feb 14-Mar 23. aiadac.com. gallery neptune & brown. Michael Craig. Thru Mar 3. galleryneptunebrown.com. Glen Echo Park. Mary Belcher. Thru Feb 17. Cathy Abramson. Thru Feb 18. glenechopark.org. Hill Center. Capitol Hill Art League Juried Invitational 2018. Thru Feb 25. Charlie Visconage. Thru Feb 25. hillcenterdc.org. DC Arts Center. Another Dimension. Feb 9-Apr 22. dcartscenter.org. Arlington Arts Center. You, if no one else. Thru Mar 31. arlingtonartscenter.org. BlackRock. Fiber Art & Turned Wood. Thru Feb 24. Rhonda J. Smith. Thru Feb 24. blackrockcenter.org.

AND MORE... Stand-Up Studios. Comedy Showcase Night. Feb 10. standupstudios.com. Strathmore. Make It/Take It: Altered Books. Feb 9. strathmore.org. WIFV. Producing A WRINKLE IN TIME. Feb 13. Discovery Communications. wifv.org.


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Plays Written By Women


Allison Janney Honorary Chair



FESTIVAL SPONSORS: Lead donors Heidi and Mitch Dupler. Additional funding for the Festival comes from Share Fund, Arlene & Robert Kogod, Andrew Rodger Ammerman in tribute to Josephine Friedman Ammerman, and The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Photography or artwork by Philip da Costa, Teresa Castracane, Gregory Ferrand, Max Garner, Mike Laws, Leo Lintang, Katelyn Manfre, Cade Martin, Goni Montez, Christopher Mueller, Laura Mertens and Justin Schneider. Pictured: Felicia Curry.



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FE B R U A R Y 09, 2018 • 47


Enough is enough? Partner growing resentful of out-of-work girlfriend

MICHAEL RADKOWSKY, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay individuals and couples in D.C. He can be found online at personalgrowthzone.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to michaelradkowsky.com

MICHAEL, My girlfriend Kristen lost her job almost a year ago and my patience is wearing thin. If I were in her shoes, I would be networking with everyone I know to find a job. But Kristen just applies to jobs she sees online. I also think I would find part-time work to get out of the house, keep up my energy and bring in some income. I’m getting fed up with paying for everything. Instead, Kristen sleeps late, stays at home and spends hours in front of the television, which can’t be helpful to her finding a job or to her mood. I’ve offered to coach her on how to be more outgoing and network. Despite my ongoing encouragement, she won’t step out of her comfort zone. She says she’s too shy and I have to let her do things her way. I think her shyness contributed to her getting fired, which makes me certain she needs to get better at social interactions. I found her shyness attractive when we met two years ago. She had a modest job but found it fulfilling and that was fine with me. I don’t need her to make a lot of money, just be able to support herself. When friends ask how she’s doing, I’m embarrassed and wonder if they think I am a loser for dating her. Many of my friends are couples where both women are pretty driven. I’m wondering if I am caught up in some kind of unrealistic Washington standard. I’m feeling less attracted to Kristen lately and find myself snapping at her or making sarcastic remarks a lot of the time. I don’t feel good about my behavior and it’s not helping her find a job. But just acting like everything is normal doesn’t help either. Nothing I do seems to help. I wonder if I should end the relationship. I don’t want to spend my life supporting someone who can’t get out of bed. Does that make me shallow?

MICHAEL REPLIES: When you try to “rescue” someone who could actually help themselves, you usually wind up creating a mess. You get resentful that the other person won’t take your advice and they get resentful over being told what to do. You appear to be headed in that direction. Kristen knows her own personality and states that she does not want to be pushed. If she doesn’t want to put herself out in the world as you would, she doesn’t have to. You can’t force her to change her approach. You also don’t have to keep supporting Kristen financially or even stay with her. But don’t threaten Kristen with these consequences in hope of getting her to do what you want; that will erode whatever love and goodwill exists between you two. You can certainly let Kristen know how unhappy you are with the situation. This is different from threatening her or trying to force her to change. Perhaps knowing where you stand will lead her to take action. If not, you will have to decide if you are willing to remain in this relationship under the current circumstances. All that said, consider some other possibilities: First, Kristen may actually not be in a position to help herself. You have a girlfriend who sleeps a lot, doesn’t leave the house much, stares at the TV for hours on end and is making minimal effort to improve her life. Like you, I have a hunch that Kristen is depressed. If that is true, Kristen really could use your support to get a grip on her life. Depression can be paralyzing. How can you help? Sadly, there’s no guarantee that you can, because you can’t always get someone else to see that they have a problem. Your best chance would be to raise the possibility of depression with Kristen in as gentle and non-critical a way as possible. If she thinks you have a point, perhaps she’d be willing to make some moves to improve her mood, such as doing aerobic exercise, stopping alcohol consumption if she does drink (alcohol is a depressant) or even considering psychotherapy. I’d also suggest you explore with Kristen the possibility that she has social anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with being shy, but when shyness interferes with our ability to function in the world as you say it does with Kristen, we should take action to stretch beyond our limitations. With regard to the possibility that you are looking at Kristen through a lens distorted by DC standards of success, yes, this is a competitive town of high achievers, but wanting a partner who ultimately can stand on her own is not an outrageously high bar.

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Finally! — trans actress, trans role Daniela Vega bucks trend of cis actors garnering acclaim for trans characters By BRIAN T. CARNEY Even though the hashtag #oscarsocis never got the attention of #oscarsostraight, #oscarsowhite or #oscarsomale, mainstream international cinema has had a problem casting trans actors in trans roles, let alone casting trans actors at all. Cisgender actors, however, have frequently been rewarded for playing trans characters. Hilary Swank (“Boys Don’t Cry”), Felicity Huffman (“Transamerica”), Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”) have all been nominated for Oscars for playing trans roles; Swank and Leto both took home the coveted gold statuette. This year, however, things have started to change. A Chilean film may finally break the Academy’s trans ceiling. In Sebastián Lelio’s stunning film “A Fantastic Woman” (Una Mujer Fantástica), transgender actress Daniela Vega plays transgender singer Marina Vidal, a woman who is threatened by the medical, judicial and legal system after her boyfriend’s death. Although Vega was not nominated in the Best Actress category, the ground-breaking film has been nominated for an Oscar as the Best Foreign Language Film. It opens today (Friday, Feb. 9) at the Angelika Mosaic and Landmark E Street. Director and co-writer Sebastián Lelio (“Gloria”) says he did not initially set out to write a film about a transgender character. “I got the idea for the movie slowly,” Lelio says. “At the beginning we were playing with the idea of what would happen if the person you love dies in your arms. And then we thought what if this happened to a transgender woman.” Lelio and co-screenwriter Gonzalo Maza began to look for a “cultural advisor” to help them develop the idea and to help them get better acquainted with Santiago’s trans community. “We brought on Dani and that was a milestone,” Lelio says. “I decided I wanted to make the movie and I decided we would not do the movie without a transgender actress in the lead.” Vega and the authors worked together on Skype for a year and Lelio finally realized he had found his leading lady. “Towards the end of the writing process,” he says, “I realized that Dani should be the star of the film. She has some acting experience, she is an opera singer, she is an artist, she is a force of nature. Why look any further?” Lelio says the “film is both a celebration


Director SEBASTIAN LELIO says basing his new film around a trans character came about during the story development process.

and examination of its main character: Marina Vidal.” Marina is an aspiring singer who is working as a waitress and living with her boyfriend, an older married man named Orlando (Francisco Reyes). After Orlando’s sudden death, Marina is treated with suspicion by everyone around her: the police suspect she is involved with Orlando’s death, she is forced to undergo a degrading physical examination and Orlando’s widow forbids her from attending the funeral service. But in the end, Marina triumphs, performing a beautiful classical aria as a memorial to Orlando and a public celebration of their love. Vega says making this film was “was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, but I like challenges. It’s like playing an opera. Singing opera is very hard, but you enjoy it when you are doing it. The movie is violent and emotionally complex, but I was part of an amazing team. We took care of each other. We are artists.” Both Vega and Lelio have been excited by the enthusiastic international acclaim for the movie. Besides the historic Oscar nomination, “A Fantastic Woman” won several awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe and several Dorian awards from GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics. “It was quite wonderful to see how well understood the film was,” Lelio says. “I was quite touched.” As a director, he says he tries to avoid preaching.


DANIELA VEGA as Marina in ‘A Fantastic Woman.’

“It’s hard for me to think in terms of messages. I think of films in terms of energy. Beauty is my only duty.” But his star offers some guidance for her audience. “I want everybody to question everything — love, family, death, relationships, freedom. We should ask ourselves who prohibits things and why and what are we doing with our empathy.” After the shooting for “A Fantastic Woman” was over, Lelio shot his first English language films. Scheduled for a spring release, “Disobedience,” based on the novel by Naomi Alderman, stars Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz as

childhood friends who become lovers when they are reunited as adults; Alessandro Nivola plays McAdams’ husband, an orthodox rabbi. Scheduled for a fall release, “Gloria,” staring Julianne Moore, is a remake of Lelio’s 2013 film about a woman in her 50s looking for love in the dance club of Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the multi-talented Vega is writing a book and is working on a new theater piece. She’s also reading film scripts and thinking about what she will wear to the Oscars on March 4. “A beautiful dress with a big long train,” she says, “probably in a color I have never worn before.”


F E BRU A RY 0 9 , 2 0 1 8 • 4 9

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5 0 • F E B RUA RY 0 9, 2018


Adam Rippon gets sassy Out figure skater makes history en route to Winter Olympics By KEVIN MAJOROS Adam Rippon’s selection to the United States Olympic Team marks the first time an openly gay American man has qualified for any Winter Olympics. Originally from Clarks Summit, Pa., he has been based in Los Angeles for the past six years. He is coached by Rafael Arutyunyan and trains with Ashley Wagner and rival Nathan Chen. Rippon had success early on in his career becoming the first junior man to win backto-back world junior titles in 2008 and 2009. At 28, his skating career has soared since he came out publicly in October, 2015. The Blade caught up with Rippon before he left on Feb. 5 to represent the United States at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The opening ceremony is tonight (Friday, Feb. 9). The games run through Feb. 25. The men’s short and free programs are Feb. 16-17. WASHINGTON BLADE: Let’s start with the beginning of your short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships which also served as the final criteria event for selection to the U.S. Olympic team. You lined up on the side of the rink instead of the middle, struck a bitchy pose and glared at the camera. Johnny Weir called you the sass master. ADAM RIPPON: I told my choreographer that I needed it to be in your face and fun. I also wanted it to be bitchy which is why I stared right into the camera. I practiced that look in the mirror a thousand times. BLADE: Halfway through that same short program, you skated up to the judges and held up your finger as if to say, “Hold on, watch this.” Bold, ballsy and the crowd loved it. What was the thought process behind that move? RIPPON: I wanted to do something that my younger competitors would be too intimidated to do and I have qualified for the U.S. Olympic team as the oldest rookie since 1936. I’m super excited. BLADE: This was your third attempt at qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team. What is it like to achieve one of your dreams? RIPPON: To realize that goal after three attempts is incredible. I considered retiring after not making the team in 2014, but I felt I had more to give as an athlete. I would never know if I didn’t try and I have been focused on being my best. BLADE: You have had your share of injuries including a broken foot one year ago. At Skate America in November, you dislocated your shoulder in your free skate attempting a quad lutz. You stood

up, popped your shoulder back in place and landed eight triples to win the silver medal. What the hell? RIPPON: I have been using the mentality that nothing is going to get in my way. I had dislocated my shoulder in practice a few months before and wanted to cry blood and throw up. Everyone said it wouldn’t hurt as much the second time, but they lied. After I moved it back in place I made eye contact with my coach and saw doubt. I thought, if he thinks I might stop then I am absolutely not stopping. I am going to take it one step at a time and keep going — do it three times if I have to and show those bitches. BLADE: Right before that shoulder incident, you had a little run-in with the referee. She made you clean up bugs off the ice right before you skated. Weirdest thing ever? RIPPON: That was one of the most bizarre things ever in an international skating competition. I had picked up a huge wasp while I was warming up because I knew if I skated over it, it was going to be crunchy. Right when I was starting my program she blew the whistle at me and called me over like she was Judge Judy. Really, are we really doing this right now? I know she doesn’t think I am going to do some rink maintenance. BLADE: You ended up skating around with a tissue, cleaning up bugs. RIPPON: I told her I would do it if she gave me an extra 30 seconds. That can’t ever happen again. I was trying to focus on my skate. I skated back over to my coach and he shoved me really hard which snapped me back into it. The shoulder happened next. BLADE: You won your first U.S. national title three months after coming out in October of 2015. Since that time, your skating has been more powerful, consistent and confident. Is there a parallel? RIPPON: Completely. My success as a skater and coming out go hand in hand. Figure skating is a performance sport and I wear my skating on my sleeve. In years past I didn’t really know who I was, so when I came out I felt like I was representing myself. The stories I was reading about other athletes coming out helped me to realize nothing was going to change. You can be an out gay athlete and be successful, even more than before. BLADE: It’s common in elite figure skating to have adoring teenage girls watching your every move. In your case, the LGBT community has also hitched their wagon to your star. What do you think of your status as a gay icon? RIPPON: Hitch your wagon to a star, it will take you far (laughing). Sometimes we feel unrepresented and I think it’s important to stay visible. I follow the careers of other


Gone are the days of figure skaters not coming out until years later a la Brian Boitano. ADAM RIPPON is making his Olympics debut this year.

LGBT athletes and I know that it comes with backlash. I am fully embracing all of it. I consider everyone in the community to be my brothers and sisters. BLADE: Do you feel their presence? RIPPON: I feel their presence. There have been so many different people coming forward to engage with me and I am comfortable with it. I’m glad that I shared my story and that it is resonating with people. BLADE: You have said in the past that your skating outfits are an expression of your personality. Your two outfits at U.S. Nationals featured leather, sheer fabric and sparkles. Any surprises for Pyeongchang? RIPPON: I am getting together with my costume designer, Braden Overett, to make some minor changes and Olympify them. I usually just tell him I want to skate in something slutty. It takes my mind off the competition because I can’t believe I am wearing it. It takes a village and he is one of the villagers. BLADE: You recently shot down the rumors that you wear butt pads during your competitions with the following statement: “There’s been a lot questions to whether I compete with butt pads on and I’d like to set the record straight and let it be known that no, it’s just my real butt. Thank you for your interest,

comments and concern. Love you.” RIPPON: People were defending me saying the pads helped when I fall. I also heard things like, “What a beautiful performance, are the butt pads really necessary”? I mean c’mon, I’m wearing very thin pants out there. I thought it would be funny if I addressed it directly. Yes, I have the butt necessary to make it to the Olympics. BLADE: Because of your sport, music must be a big part of your life. What is on your personal music playlist right now? RIPPON: I love music. It’s something I work out to and its part of my sport. On the personal side, I like EDM (electronic dance music) — David Guetta and deadmau5. I also like all the gay staples — Beyoncé, Astrid S, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey. BLADE: What are you hoping to take from your experience in Pyeongchang? RIPPON: It has always been my dream to be an Olympian. I can’t wait to walk into the opening ceremonies and also to see the Olympic rings on the ice for the first time. Then it’s down to business. I’m going to zero in on what needs to be done to have the best skate of my career. BLADE: Are you ready? RIPPON: I am ready for this opportunity and grateful for this opportunity. I feel powerful on the inside and the outside.


F E BRU A RY 0 9 , 2 0 1 8 • 5 1


Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and more

Thrilling taiko drumming

Britten’s enchanting opera

HELSINGBORG TAO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Drum Heart Stefan Solyom, conductor Nareh Arghamanyan, piano




Family Friendly performances that are most suitable for families with younger children


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CA LE N D A R song or disco song not from the show. Everyone should also bring high heels and regular sneakers/jazz shoes to audition for the dance portion. Callbacks will take place on Feb. 17 from noon-4 p.m. at the Kensington Town Hall (710 Mitchell St., Kensington, Md.). For more information, email the director John Nunemaker at managingdirector@katonline.org or the producer at productionmaganger@ katonline.org.

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.

TODAY LezLink Events hosts a D.C. happy hour for queer woman and friends at Franklin Hall (1348 Florida Ave., N.W.) tonight from 6-9 p.m. Drink specials are $2 off draft beer and cocktails and $2 off rail drinks. Guests are encouraged to bring a friend. For more information, visit facebook.com/lezlinkevents. Camp Rehoboth Chorus performs “Can’t Stop the Beat,” a concert mix of blues, rock and roll, jazz and more, at Epworth United Methodist Church (19285 Holland Glade Rd., Rehoboth Beach, De.) tonight at 7 p.m. The chorus will sing “With a Song in My Heart,” “One of Those Songs,” “Listen to the Music” and more. There will be additional shows Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25. For more details, search “Camp Rehoboth Chorus” on Facebook. Go Gay D.C. hosts a LGBT happy hour social at Circle Bistro (1 Washington Circle, N.W.) tonight from 6-8 p.m. No cover. Everyone is welcome. For more information, visit gogaydc.org. Gamma D.C., a support group for men in mixed-orientation relationships, meets at Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave., N.W.) tonight 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. For more information about the group and location, visit gammaindc.org. Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts HybridNine: FriXXXtion, a gay dance party, tonight from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. DJ Ryan Doubleyou will play music. There will also be go-go dancers. Attendees are encouraged to be scantily clad. Clothing check will be available. For more details, visit greenlanterndc.com.

SATURDAY, FEB. 10 The Washington Blade hosts Brunch and Beyonce at Commissary (1443 P St., N.W.) today from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys are $15. Beyonce music videos will be displayed on full wall projectors. There will be drag performers, a Louisianathemed food menu, Beyonce-themed cocktails and Beyonce music. Prizes will be given for Beyonce trivia and best Beyonce. For more details, visit facebook. com/washblade. The Washington Blade hosts its Most Eligible LGBT Singles Party at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight from 11 p.m.-3 a.m. Guests can meet the singles and send them messages on Town’s Valentine’s message board. Doors open at 10 p.m. Drag show starts at 10:30 p.m. Cover

MONDAY, FEB. 12 Us Helping Us (3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.) holds a support group for gay black men to discuss topics that affect them, share perspectives and have meaningful conversations. For details, visit uhupil.org.



Out singer/songwriter MARY GAUTHIER performs at Jammin’ Java Saturday night.

is $15. For more information, visit washingtonblade.com/singles. Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts Kristina Kelly’s Talent Search tonight from 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Drag queens will perform for the chance to win $100,000. Local queens will also give special performances including Iyana Deschanel. For more details, visit facebook.com/greenlanterndc. Distrkt C hosts Gladiator, a second anniversary party, at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) tonight from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. DJ Mark DeMarko will spin tracks. Gladiators Vinny Vega, Mark Lander, Javier and Kenbo will also make appearances. Ticket are $30. For more information, visit distrct.com. Lesbian singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier performs at Jammin Java (227 Maple Ave E. Vienna, Va.) tonight at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $20. Premier tickets are $22. Full dinner and drink menu will be available. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more details, visit jamminjava.com. Werq, a new gay dance party, kicks off at L8 Lounge (727 15th St., N.W.) tonight from 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Isaac Escalante will play music. No dress code. Drink specials are $6 vodka and $5 beer and Red Bull.

Tickets are $25 online and $30 cash at the door. For more information, search “WERQ-SYN” on Facebook. 18th and U Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., N.W.) hosts Valentine’s Day is a Drag today from 6-11:30 p.m. There will be drag performances, raffle prizes and music from DJ Khelan Bhatia. All performance tips will benefit SMYAL. For more details, visit facebook.com/duplexdiner.

SUNDAY, FEB. 11 Scarlet’s Foundation hosts its 47th annual Scarlet’s Bake Sale at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) today from 3-6 p.m. The live auction of donated cakes will benefit LGBT Fallen Heroes and Scarlet’s Foundation, Inc Scholarship fund. Cake drop-off is from 1:30-3 p.m. Cocktails are at 3 p.m. followed by the auction at 4 p.m. For more details, visit facebook.com/scarlets.foundation. Kensington Arts Theatre holds auditions for its upcoming production of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” at the Cottage at Glenview Mansion (603 Edmonston Dr., Rockville, Md.) tonight and Monday at 7 p.m. Auditionees should prepare 16 bars of a contemporary

Story District hosts Worst Date Ever, its second annual Valentine’s Day-themed show, at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight at 10:30 p.m. Storytellers will share their worst date stories and the audience will choose a winner. Seating is first-comefirst-served. Guests can bring food inside but no outside beverages. This is a 21-and-over show. For more information, visit facebook.com/storydistrict. LULAC Lambda hosts its February meeting at West End Library (2301 L St., N.W.) tonight from 7-8 p.m. The group will discuss upcoming community service projects. New members welcome to attend. For more details, visit facebook. com/lulaclambda.

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 14 Big Gay Book Group meets at Trio Bistro (1537 17th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss “Jeb and Dash: A Diary of Gay Love, 1918-1945” edited by Ina Russell. The book chronicles Jeb Alexander, a gay man living in D.C., as he chronicles gay life pre-Stonewall. For more details, visit biggaybookgroup.com or email biggaybookgroup@hotmail.com. The Lambda Bridge Club meets at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for duplicate bridge. No reservations required and new comers welcome. If you need a partner, call 703407-6540.

THURSDAY, FEB. 15 JR.’s Bar (1519 17th St., N.W.) hosts a “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” season three viewing party tonight from 8-9 p.m. For details, visit facebook.com/jrsbardc. The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts its monthly poly discussion group at 7 p.m. People of all different stages are invited to discuss polyamory and other consensual non-monogamous relationships. This event is for newcomers, established polyamorous relationships and open to all sexual orientations. For details, visit thedccenter.org.


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Mobile: 202-256-9595 Office: 202-448-9002 chauvinhouse@compass.com

Compass is a licensed real estate brokerage that abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Compass is licensed as Compass Real Estate in DC and as Compass in Virginia and Maryland. 1232 31st Street NW, Washington, DC 20007 |202.448.9002


5 4 • F EB RUA RY 0 9, 2018

O U T & A BO U T

Robert York hosting birthday charity event Robert York, seen here at a Miss Gay D.C. pageant, hosts Champions for Charity, a 50th birthday celebration, at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) on Saturday, Feb. 17 from 5-10 p.m. Music is by DJ Grind, DJ Chord and DJ Twin. Brian Justin Crum, Frenchie Davis, Beth Anne Sacks and Simone Denny will make appearances. Tickets are $25 and will benefit in full York’s favorite charities including Athlete Ally, Capital Pride, Capital Trans Pride, City Dogs Rescue and City Kitties, NMAC, Trevor Project D.C. and ziMS Foundation. Host level tickets and sponsor tickets are also available For more details, visit champsionsforcharity.eventbrite.com. WASHINGTON BLADE FILE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY


BARE kicks off Dinah Shore weekend The Ladies of LURe present BARE, a ladies dance party, at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) on Saturday, Feb. 17 from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. The party is the official kick-off event for the Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend, a weekend long party in Palm Springs, Calif., on March 28-April 1. DJ Keenan Orr and DJ Rosie will spin tracks all night. The DystRucXion Dancers will also perform. There will be a raffle for two tickets to the Dinah Shore event. Cover is $7 before midnight and $10 after. For more information, visit facebook. com/lurewdc.

Omega offers Queens Court party weekend

Early taste of ‘Summer’ Reel Affirmations presents a screening of “Something Like Summer” at Human Rights Campaign (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) on Friday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. “Something Like Summer” follows Texas high school student Benjamin as he comes out of the closet and faces bullying from his classmates. Instead of pursing his dream as a singer, he focuses on stalking Tim, a handsome new athlete who moved to town, for the summer. Cast member Ben Bauer will appear for a cast talk back and catered reception. Rayceen Pendarvis hosts the screening. General admission tickets are $12. VIP tickets $25 and includes VIP seating, one complimentary cocktail, beer or wine and a catered reception. For more information, visit thedccenter.org/somethinglikesummer.



Jamie Bernstein, narrator United States Air Force Band Colonel Larry H. Lang, commander and conductor


Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie, leads a loving and invigorating celebration of her father’s life and work through personal anecdotes and live music.

Photo: Paul de Hueck, courtesy the Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc.


Omega Entertainment hosts Queens Court, a gay party weekend, on Feb. 16-17. Friday is Kings Night Out at Eden Lounge (1716 I St., N.W.) from 11 p.m.-3 a.m. There will be an open bar from 11 p.m.-midnight. $10 drink specials run all night. Two DJs will spin tracks all night. On Saturday, there will be a day party featuring a performance by Meatloaf at Stadium Club (2127 Queens Chapel Rd., N.E.) from 5-10 p.m. There will be an open bar until 6 p.m. and drink specials all night. Two DJs and nude dancers will perform. Later that night from 11 p.m.-3 a.m. there will be a live performance by Ms. Khia and TS Madison at Super Club (2221 Adams Pl., N.E.). VIP pass holders will have access to a meet and greet. Drink specials run all night. Tickets run from $20-60. For more details, visit facebook.com/ omegapartydc.

TICKETS: WashingtonPerformingArts.org

(202) 785-9727 This performance is currently sold out, but tickets will be available on a stand-by basis on the day of the performance. Visit our website for details.


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Considering buying a home with a friend or partner? Some important factors to consider By SHERRI ANNE GREEN & DEIRDRE P. BROWN Considering buying a home with a friend or partner? While it may not be your first thought, the answer is “yes.” Property can be purchased by a variety of different buyers— an individual, a business entity, a married couple, and even friends or partners who are not married. When non-married people purchase real property together — from a title perspective — the big question you have to plan for is “what happens if one of the owner’s dies?” Do the co-owners want their heirs to inherit the property? Do the co-owners want to ensure that the surviving owner inherits the property? When purchasing with a friend or partner, coowners should have this discussion before settlement and let the title company


handling the transaction know how they would like to hold title to the property so that in the event one of you passes your wishes for the property are carried out. To that end, there are several ways that you can hold title. Tenants by the Entirety: You can only take title as tenants by the entirety if you are in a marriage that is recognized by your state. If one spouse dies the other spouse automatically retains the interest in the property. There is no need to probate the will to make this happen. Joint Tenants with the Right of Survivorship: This is similar to tenants by the entirety in that the surviving owner(s) receives the ownership rights of the owner that died. You can take title this way with more than two people. Each person’s interest in the property reverts to the surviving owner(s) until there is one person who holds 100 percent. Even if there is a will that names an heir, the interest in the property goes to the surviving owner(s). If you want to make sure that the person you own the property with retains your


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if a member dies. But remember, when you take title as an entity you do not personally own the property. The entity does, this is why taking title this way may be best for investment properties and not your principal residence. Having a conversation before you take title to a property is very important. This does not preclude you from having other written agreements in place like, a cohabitation agreement, prenuptial agreement, a will, or business partnership agreement. Discussion before can avoid tough conversations later.

SHERRI ANNE GREEN is an award-winning Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Focusing on custom, data-driven marketing and client service, she provides impeccable service tailored to her clients’ unique situation. Reach her at 202-798-1288, sherri.green@ cbmove.com or on Facebook, facebook.com/ sherriAnnegreen/, or on instagram: sherriAnnegreen. DEIRDRE P. BROWN, J.d. is a settlement agent with dupont Title group, LLC. Reach her via www.CloseWithdee.com.




interest in the property upon your death, this is the way to hold title. Tenants in Common: If you take title as tenants by the entirety each person owes a percentage of the property. The percentages do not have to be equal and you can have as many co-owners as you wish. If a co-owner dies his percentage of the property goes to his heirs not the co-owners. If you want to make sure that your heirs receive your interest in the property upon your death this is the way to hold title. Limited Liability Company (LLC): If you and a friend are purchasing property as an investment to do a rehab and then resell or to hold as a rental, you may want to take title as an entity. The easiest entity to form and maintain is an LLC. The amount of liability protection varies by state. The LLC can have as many members as you wish with each holding a percentage of the LLC. The percentages do not need to be equal. The LLC’s Operating Agreement should outline what happens if a member wants to sell his percentage of the LLC or

10 Things I Hate About You: A buyer and her agent prepare a home inspection repair list.

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