Washingtonblade.com, Volume 49, Issue 8, February 23, 2018

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Out Olympians steal the show

Rippon, Kenworthy, others inspiring LGBT viewers around the world By MICHAEL K. LAVERS mlavers@washblade.com

ADAM RIPPON and GUS KENWORTHY are among the 15 out athletes who are at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. IMAGE COURTESY OF TWITTER

The out athletes who are competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang have become an inspiration for LGBT people around the world. Gus Kenworthy, a gay American skier who finished last in Sunday’s ski slopestyle on Feb. 17, kissed his boyfriend, Matt Wilkas, during the competition. NBC broadcast the moment during its Olympics coverage. “Didn’t realize this moment was being filmed yesterday, but I’m so happy that it was,” wrote Kenworthy on his Twitter account on Monday. “My childhood self would never have dreamed of seeing a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics, but for the first time ever a kid watching at home CAN! Love is love is love.” Brent Minor, executive director of Team DC, CONTINUES ON PAGE 14

Renewed push for gun reform Gay candidates among those bringing issue to the forefront after Fla. shooting By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com

Students and other gun reform supporters protested in D.C. on Wednesday in the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting last week. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

In the aftermath of America’s most recent mass shooting — a tragedy at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead — gun control has emerged as a defining issue ahead of the congressional mid-term elections and LGBT candidates are among those bringing it the forefront. The LGBT community was energized to enact gun reform legislation after the 2016 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., but the latest massacre that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has created new momentum for change that students and gun control

advocates are embracing. That’s particularly true for gay candidates running for Congress in Florida, which was the home state of both the Orlando and Parkland shootings. David Richardson, who’s currently a state representative in the Florida legislature, is running for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) in Florida’s 27th congressional district. Richardson said he’s been advocating for gun reform since the Orlando shooting, but the push for change after the Parkland incident “has been larger, if you will,” which he credited to the Florida Legislature being in session. “We’ve got school kids that are traveling here tonight,” Richardson said. “There will be a rally in Tallahassee tomorrow. There seems to be a willingness on the part of the Republican majority party to listen to a higher CONTINUES ON PAGE 16

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Md. gubernatorial candidate chooses lesbian running mate A Maryland gubernatorial candidate has chosen a lesbian business owner as his running mate. Democrat Alec Ross on Monday officially announced that Julie Verratti has joined his ticket. Verratti co-founded Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring with her wife, Emily Bruno, and her brother-in-law. A bio that Ross’ campaign provided to the Washington Blade notes Verratti was a fellow and senior policy adviser for the U.S. Small Business Administration who focused on the Affordable Care Act, women’s entrepreneurship and other issues. Verratti last year was a member of a task force that studied the overhaul of Maryland’s JULIE VERRATTI co-founded Denizens alcohol laws. She also worked for Equality Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, Md., with her Maryland, which is now known as FreeState wife, Emily Bruno, and her brother-in-law. Justice, the Human Rights Campaign and PHOTO COURTESY OF DANIEL ENSIGN/ALEC ROSS FOR GOVERNOR other social justice organizations when she was a student at the George Washington University Law School. Verratti, who is from Silver Spring, worked for the Boston-based MassEquality from 2005-2007. She has never run for political office. Verratti would become Maryland’s first out lieutenant governor if she and Ross are elected in November. “I feel good about it,” Verratti told the Washington Blade last week. “Obviously when you’re doing something for the very first time, it’s scary.” “I also think it’s really important,” added Verratti. “Representation matters and it matters tremendously. I’m proud and honored.” Ross was a senior State Department official during the Obama administration. He founded One Economy, a nonprofit organization that his campaign bio says “helped deliver high-speed Internet access, educational content and education to lowincome communities.” Ross is also a former public school teacher in Baltimore. Ross told the Blade he first met Verratti last September at a Democratic Business Council of Maryland meeting that was taking place in Rockville. Ross said the audience was 80 to 90 percent “men in ties.” “There was this woman asking these incredibly sharp questions and making these incredible observations in a leather jacket,” said Ross. “She really stood out in that ballroom in a Rockville hotel.” Ross also told the Blade in response to a question about the history his ticket would make in November if it is elected that he wishes “we were making history long ago.” “We need to make it now,” he said. “Julie has abundant attributes as a business leader, as someone who has achieved in government. With Donald Trump’s Washington, I want it to be the case that (it) says welcome to Maryland, you’re entering a business and you’re entering a place that’s mirroring the opposite values of Donald Trump’s Washington.” Ross will face off against former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous; Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County); lawyer Jim Shea and Krishanti Vignarajah, who was former first lady Michelle Obama’s policy director, in the June Democratic primary. The winner will run against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election. Shea last week announced Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott is his running mate. Madaleno could become the first openly gay man elected governor in the U.S. if he were to win. The Montgomery County Democrat, who is accepting public financing, last month reported his gubernatorial campaign has thus far raised $439,862. Ross is among the Democratic candidates who have raised more than $1 million. “The campaign’s going really well,” Ross told the Blade. “Julie’s addition will make it even more distinct.” He added the campaign is “running statewide.” “We are running in all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland, running for governor for all of our state’s citizens with progressive values,” said Ross, referring to the state’s 23 counties and Baltimore City. Verratti stressed she is honored that Ross has chosen her as his running mate. “Alec is the best person for the job and has a tremendous background,” Verratti told the Blade. “His leadership is transformative.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS


Madaleno names former O’Malley official as running mate Maryland state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) on Monday announced he has chosen a member of former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration as his running mate in his gubernatorial campaign. Luwanda Jenkins, who was the special secretary for the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs from 2007-2012, joined Madaleno outside Baltimore’s Western High School where he formally announced her as his running mate. Jenkins’ most recent position was COO of LEADERship, a Baltimore-based program that promotes leadership development. Jenkins was vice president of community relations and diversity at the Cordish Companies from 2016-2017. She was also at Coppin State University from 2012-2015. Jenkins is an alumnus of Towson State University and the Johns Hopkins University. “I’m thrilled to join Rich,” she said. “My entire career has been about leveraging opportunity to make a better quality of life for Marylanders. I’m excited to travel across the state and share our ticket’s plan for action and engage Marylanders in how to make our state better.” Madaleno in a press release his campaign sent to the Washington Blade described Jenkins and he as “a winning team.” “Our vision focuses on improving the quality of life for all Marylanders and making sure that people and communities with the most needs actually get the help they need to succeed,” said Madaleno. “We will work to strengthen communities — from urban centers like Baltimore to rural areas on the Eastern Shore and in western Maryland — and make wise budgetary decisions that will make positive change but won’t break the state treasury.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Gay D.C. Council candidate to run as independent Gay D.C. Council candidate Jamie Sycamore, who last year announced he was running as a Democrat against incumbent Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau in the city’s June 19 Democratic primary, has withdrawn from the primary and says he will run for the Ward 1 seat as an independent in November. “This was a hard decision to leave the Democratic Party; however, D.C. engages in voter suppression by not allowing open primaries and a run-off to elect their representatives at the local level,” he told the Blade in an email. “This is why I will be running against the winner of the Democratic Primary to be a Council Member for ALL of Ward 1, and run on reforming the District’s election process, so every voice will be heard,” he said. Sycamore, 30, a professional sign language interpreter, is one of two gay candidates challenging Nadeau in the upcoming election. Gay law librarian Kent Boese, 52, who chairs Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A, is one of three remaining Democrats challenging Nadeau in the Democratic primary. The other Democrats include former D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Lori Parker and architectural drafter Sheika Reid. Greg Boyd, a former D.C. public school teacher, will be competing against Sycamore for the Ward 1 Council seat as an independent candidate in the November general election. With registered voters in Ward 1 being overwhelmingly Democratic, the winner of the Democratic primary in June will be the odds on favorite to win the general election. Nadeau, meanwhile, currently has a commanding lead over all of her opponents in fundraising, with a reported total of $204,611 raised in campaign funds as of Jan. 31. Boese had raised $40,721 as of the Jan. 31 reporting period and Sycamore’s report shows he raised $1,891 as of that date, placing him in last place for fundraising among the Ward 1 candidates who have filed a finance report. Independent Boyd had not filed a finance report as of the Jan. 31 deadline indicating he has yet to raise any money for his campaign. Reid had raised $52,665 as of Jan. 31 and Parker $51,276 as of the Jan. 31 reporting period, according to their respective finance reports filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance. Boese and Sycamore have been outspoken advocates for LGBT rights and Nadeau has also has been a vocal supporter of the LGBT community. The positions of the other candidates on LGBT issues couldn’t immediately be determined. LOU CHIBBARO JR.


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Lesbian Council candidate leads in fundraising Lesbian business woman Dionne Reeder, who’s running as an independent for one of two at-large D.C. Council seats up for election this year, is ahead of all of the other at-large candidates in campaign fundraising, including incumbents Anita Bonds, a Democrat, and Elissa Silverman, an independent. Reeder’s lead in fundraising as of the Jan. 31 reporting period, in which she had a total of $53,685 raised, marks the second reporting period in a row that she has surpassed all rival candidates in DIONNE REEDER is running for an at-large money raised. D.C. Council seat. “I am truly humbled,” Reeder said in a PHOTO COURTESY OF TWITTER statement. “Because of more than three hundred individual donors, we doubled the amount raised by our opponent Elissa Silverman in the latest campaign fundraising report. Silverman’s finance report shows she has raised a total of $25,126 as of Jan. 31. Reeder, 46, who owns Cheers at the Big Chair restaurant in the city’s Anacostia neighborhood, is considered Silverman’s main rival because the two are competing along with three other lesser-known candidates for an at-large seat that under D.C. law must go to a non-Democrat. The others running for the “non-Democratic” seat are independent Omekongo Dibinga, Statehood Green Party candidate David Schwartzman, and Libertarian Party candidate Denise Hicks. Dibinga’s finance report shows he has raised just $100 since he filed his name as a candidate. The Office of Campaign Finance website shows that neither Schwartzman nor Hicks has filed a finance report, indicating they have yet to raise funds for their campaigns. Democrat Bonds, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, is being challenged by five Democrats in the June 19 Democratic primary – communications firm worker Aaron Holmes, real estate development company associate Marcus Goodwin, Chesapeake Climate Action Network official Jeremiah Lowery; and Smithsonian Institution employee and Ward 8 ANC Commissioner Sharece Crawford. Campaign finance reports filed by the four candidates show they had raised the following sums as of Jan. 31: Bonds, $14,117; Goodwin, $66,267; Lowery, $26,127; and Holmes, $18,685. Crawford had not filed a finance report and is presumed not to have raised funds for her campaign as of Jan. 31. Although Bonds is trailing three of her Democratic primary opponents in fundraising her widespread name recognition and support among many D.C. Democrats places her as the frontrunner in her race for re-election. Under the city’s election law, the highest two vote-getters in the November general election will be declared the winner of the two at-large Council seats. In a related development, two more gay candidates are expected to be on the ballot in the June 19 Democratic primary. Gay Democrat and longtime Ward 8 civic activist Phil Pannell is running for an at-large seat on the D.C. Democratic State Committee. Gay Democratic activist John Fanning is running for a seat on the Democratic State Committee from Ward 2. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Hirshhorn exhibit features ACT UP artwork A large neon version of the famous AIDS slogan “Silence=Death” that was developed by gay artists in the 1980s for the AIDS protest group ACT UP is being prominently displayed in the lobby of the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum next to the National Mall. “It looks stunning, very powerful, and very prominent,” said Hirshhorn Museum spokesperson Allison Peck. Peck said the ACT UP slogan would be on display at the museum from Feb. 15 to May 13 as part of an exhibition called “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s.” She said the exhibition features “more than 60 artists and nearly 150 works that show how artists co-opted ideas of brand and market to transform the art world.” She said one theme within the exhibition explores ways artists in the 1980s “used commodity to directly confront social issues that deeply affected the artists themselves and the wider community, especially the AIDS epidemic.”


One visitor who saw the exhibition shortly after it opened and who spoke on condition of not being identified expressed concern that T-shirts bearing the slogan “Silence=Death” were being sold in the museum’s gift shop. Among other things, the visitor was troubled that the museum was “appropriating” the work of ACT UP and a collective of artists that developed the famous slogan for commercial purposes. Peck said that in the development of the exhibition and the production of the T-shirts, the museum worked with Avram Finkelstein, the artist, gay rights activist, and founding member of ACT UP and co-founder of the Silence=Death Project, which she said created the original logo in 1986. “With any product in our stores, we work closely with the artists, or, as appropriate, their estates or other representatives to create and present product to ensure it respects and enhances their original work and their vision for its legacy,” Peck told the Blade. She noted that the museum store is “fully nonprofit” and its proceeds go toward the Smithsonian’s free exhibitions and public programs, including exhibitions like the one in which the “Silence=Death” art work is being shown. In a related development, a spokesperson for the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History confirmed that parts of an exhibit that it first put together in 2006 of picket signs and other protest related objects created by the late D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny remain on display at the museum. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Gay attorney ‘terminated’ from Del. insurance post Attorney and longtime gay Democratic activist Mitch Crane says he was “terminated” from his job as Deputy Commissioner of the Delaware Department of Insurance as of Feb. 16, but he has declined to say why. Crane, a resident of Lewes, Del., told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that he stands by a statement he posted on Facebook on Feb. 17 expressing disappointment over having to leave his job about a year earlier than he had planned. But he said he prefers not to provide further details on the reason for his departure at this time. “The decision was made that I should end my service as of yesterday,” he wrote in his Feb. 17 Facebook message. “I will miss the work and the scores of Department of Insurance employees who work hard to help consumers and are too little appreciated, have too little support and are also underpaid,” he stated in his message. “I tried to have their backs, but, sadly, forgot to look out for my own,” he wrote. Trinidad Navarro, who won election as Delaware Insurance Commissioner in November 2016, announced shortly after his election that he had named Crane as his deputy commissioner. Crane, who at the time held the position as chair of the Sussex County Democratic Committee, had backed Navarro in the election. Crane himself ran unsuccessfully for the insurance commissioner position in the 2012 election against then-incumbent Karen Weldin Stewart. With Crane’s support, Navarro beat Stewart in the 2016 election. In January 2017 Crane stepped down from his post as party chair to take the deputy insurance commissioner position for which Navarro said he was highly qualified. Crane had served from 2007 to 2011 as a regulatory specialist and Director of Consumer Services at the Department of Insurance under its thencommissioner, Matt Denn. Prior to that Crane practiced law in Chester County, Penn., and served six years as a Pennsylvania county judge. In a Jan. 22 press release announcing that Crane would be leaving his post as deputy commissioner, Navarro said he was proud to call Crane his friend, adding that he valued Crane’s service to the department and to the people of Delaware. “His knowledge of insurance law, the legislative process as well as the administrative functions as my chief regulator have been invaluable to me,” Navarro said in the press release. Vince Ryan, a spokesperson for the insurance department, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on why Navarro asked Crane to step down. “I will watch MSNBC in the morning and Judge Judy in late afternoon for a while,” Crane wrote in his Facebook posting. “Then I will consider the many ideas and possible offers I am receiving and will find some other way to contribute and bring in a little income,” he wrote. “Mitch Crane ‘over’ but nowhere near ‘out,’” he concluded in his posting. LOU CHIBBARO JR.



S.C. bill would label same-sex marriages as ‘parody marriages’ Six members of the South Carolina House of Representatives last week introduced a bill calling for redefining same-sex marriages in the state as “parody marriages” and prohibiting the state from recognizing such marriages. “‘Parody marriage’ means any form of marriage that does not involve one man and one woman,” the bill states. “The State of South Carolina shall no longer respect, endorse, or recognize any form of parody marriage policy because parody marriage policies are non-secular,” the bill declares. The legal director of the ACLU of South Carolina, Susan Dunn, called the measure “completely bogus” and said she doubts it would have any legal impact or authority State Rep. STEVEN WAYNE LONG to allow the state to circumvent the 2015 (R-Spartanburg) is author and lead sponsor of the anti-gay bill in South Carolina. U.S. Supreme Court decision known as PHOTO COURTESY OF TWITTER Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that state laws banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional and could no longer be enforced. “This is a feeble attempt to please somebody’s political base,” Dunn said. “It is thinly veiled sour grapes.” She was referring to the expressions of shock and anger over the Supreme Court ruling by anti-LGBT groups and individuals who had long opposed same-sex marriage. The bill in question, the Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act, was introduced into the South Carolina House on Feb. 15 and referred to the legislative body’s Committee on the Judiciary. In addition to prohibiting the state from “recognizing” same-sex or “parody” marriages, it includes two other main provisions: • “The State of South Carolina shall no longer enforce, recognize, or respect any policy that treats sexual orientation as a suspect class because all such statues lack a secular purpose.” • “The State of South Carolina will continue to enforce, endorse, and recognize marriages between a man and a woman because such marriage polices are secular, accomplishing nonreligious objectives.” Jeff Ayers, executive director of South Carolina Equality, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, called the bill a “bigoted and narrow-minded attempt to legalize discrimination” and urged lawmakers to reject it. “Bills like this are hateful, discriminatory and only make it more difficult to recruit new businesses to South Carolina,” he said. “This issue has been settled by the United States Supreme Court. But if this bill were to pass, our lawyers are standing by to challenge it in the courts and the state will lose.” The bill’s six sponsors are Republicans. Its author and lead sponsor, State Rep. Steven Wayne Long (R-Spartanburg) couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Army secretary: Soldiers unconcerned about trans service The civilian head of the U.S. Army said Thursday soldiers are unconcerned about serving alongside transgender people despite President Trump stoking fears about cohesion in his attempt to ban them from the armed forces, according to ABC News. Army Secretary Mark Esper said transgender military service “really hasn’t come up” as he’s traveled to U.S. bases at home and abroad when reporters asked if soldiers expressed concerns about transgender service. Esper, who’s already visited soldiers domestically and abroad in South Korea, Afghanistan and Europe, reportedly said troops are more likely to express concerns about food quality and pay. The Pentagon was expected to submit to President Trump recommendations on transgender service this week in accordance with his directive in August banning transgender people from the armed forces.

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It’s unknown what the recommendations will be, or whether Trump will alter his directive after that time. A federal court has issued a document asserting the Justice Department expects to defend a new transgender military policy in court after that time. Esper, who assumed office as Army secretary in November, said he met with “six or seven” activeduty trans soldiers in his first 30 days on the job and found their views “helpful” on the issue. Additionally, Esper said he talked with mixedgender infantry and cavalry units on transgender service. Those soldiers, Esper said, told him the issue boiled down to all troops meeting the same standard. “Everybody wants to be treated with a clear Army Secretary MARK ESPER said set of standards,” Esper said, adding, “At the concerns about trans military service haven’t come up in talks end of the day, the Army is a standards-based with soldiers. organization.” Trump’s policy banning transgender people from the armed forces is supposed to take effect on March 23. However, multiple courts have issued orders enjoining the military from enforcing Trump’s directive as a result of litigation filed by LGBT legal groups. An estimated 15,500 transgender people are serving in the military, according to the Williams Institute. A 2016 RAND Corp. report estimated a smaller number — between 1,320 and 6,630 — are currently on active duty. One of Trump’s earlier choices for the role of Army secretary, Mark Green, expressed a different view of transgender people. Green said being transgender is a “disease” and as a state legislator in Tennessee spearheaded anti-trans bathroom legislation. Amid outcry from LGBT groups, Green withdrew his nomination, but he’s now running for Congress. Esper’s predecessor in his role, Eric Fanning, served as Army secretary during the Obama administration and was the first senior defense official to come out in favor of transgender military service. Fanning, who’s gay, has supported litigation challenging Trump’s ban and disputed the notions the U.S. military isn’t prepared for transgender service. CHRIS JOHNSON

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ producers sue user leaking spoilers World of Wonder Productions is suing an anonymous Internet user, who posts under the name “RealityTVLeaks” on various social media accounts, for releasing spoilers about “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” season three. “RealityTVLeaks” posts video, clips and still images on Instagram, Twitter and Reddit before episodes air on VH1. According to court documents obtained by Deadline, World of Wonder Productions has issued a lawsuit against the person behind RUPAUL’s producers aren’t pleased with the account. spoilers leaking from the set. “Without WOW’s authorization, Defendants have obtained copies of episodes of All Stars … and have uploaded them to social media platforms including Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit using the username ‘RealityTVLeaks,’ prior to the airing of each Episode. … Defendants brazenly tout their posts as ‘leaks’ and ‘spoilers.’ Defendants have also removed copyright management information identifying WOW as the copyright owner and author of the Episodes, and added misleading copyright management information to the Episode clips they leak online, falsely identifying Defendants as the copyright owners and authors of the Episodes,” the lawsuit reads. The social media accounts have since been taken down. “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on VH1. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 10 will premiere on Thursday, March 22 followed by the after show “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked.” MARIAH COOPER



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Trans woman’s prison lawsuit continues after her death W.Va. facility accused of allowing ‘sadistic’ abuse, including rape By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com The father of a Silver Spring, Md., transgender woman who died on Jan. 8 says he and his wife are hopeful that their daughter’s legacy will live on through two pending lawsuits she filed to challenge what he calls “shocking” abuse and discrimination she encountered in 2014 while an inmate at a federal prison in West Virginia. Attorneys representing Paris Leibelson, who was 32 when the alleged prison abuse occurred, filed the lawsuits in 2015 and 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The lawsuits say Paris Leibelson was incarcerated at the prison following a violation of probation stemming from an earlier arrest for purse snatching in D.C. in December 2004, a conviction for the offense in 2005, and subsequent multiple probation violations that landed her back in jail after having been released. Michael Leibelson, Paris’ father, said her legal problems stemmed mostly from complications associated with heroin addiction with which she struggled since the time she was a teenager. He said Paris was found dead in the backyard of the family’s Silver Spring house on Jan. 8 behind a cluster of trees and shrubs from an apparent drug overdose. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland listed the cause of death as methadone, heroin, and cocaine “intoxication with benzodiazepine use complicated by hypothermia.” Michael Leibelson said the death was the sad culmination of Paris’ long struggle against addiction that he believes was exacerbated by the abuse she suffered in prison. The lawsuits charge that officials at the all-male Federal Correctional Institution at Beckley, West Virginia, where Paris Leibelson was placed, failed to take steps to safeguard her from abusive and discriminatory treatment to which she was subjected as a transgender woman. Among other allegations, the lawsuits say she was subjected to assault, battery, sexual assault, threats of violence, ongoing harassment, and emotional trauma between November 2013 and March 2014. “Leibelson is female in physical appearance and feminine as regards all external aspects of her gender behavior and identity,” one of the two lawsuits states. “Leibelson has undergone hormone therapy and other treatments prior to and at all times relevant to the matters at issue herein,” it says.


“Beginning February 2014 and continuing for the pendency of her incarceration at FCI Beckley, Plaintiff Leibelson was chronically starved and deprived of food,” the lawsuits states. It says the denial of food was due to the “unavailability of adequate seating at dining tables that were not controlled by prison gangs who demanded sexual favors in return for ‘permitting’ Plaintiff to take her food in the FCI Beckley mess hall dining area.” The lawsuit adds, “Plaintiff was required to either smuggle food out of the dining area or depend on others to bring her food, both of which were against FCI Beckley rules. As a result, Plaintiff often went for days without nourishment and her health and emotional, physical and mental well-being suffered from being chronically starved when confronted with the choice between avoiding being used as an object of sexual gratification by fellow inmates or not eating.” It says that on Feb. 6, 2014 Paris Leibelson was sent to the prison’s Special Housing Unit, which is where prisoners are sent as a form of discipline for violating prison rules. The lawsuit says Leibelson claims she was sent there in yet another effort by prison guards to harass her. Shortly after arriving there on Feb. 6, the lawsuit says a guard identified as Federal Correctional Officer Christopher Cook ordered her to submit to what it says was an illegal strip search. After ordering her to disrobe Cook told her to “bend over” and Leibelson complied, the lawsuit says. “Cook then commanded Plaintiff to ‘open that hole wide,’ whereupon F.C.O. Cook forcibly and without Leibelson’s consent or foreknowledge, rammed his finger into Plaintiff’s anus thereby sexually assaulting and digitally anally raping Plaintiff,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant’s intentional or negligent action was to humiliate and degrade

Plaintiff and to satisfy F.C.O. Cook’s craven lust for sexual gratification,” according to the lawsuit. In referring to prison authorities who are named as defendants, the lawsuit states, “The acts, policies, practices and omissions of the Defendant and its employees that injured Plaintiff were knowing, deliberate, intentional, sadistic and motivated in whole or in substantial part because of Plaintiff’s transgender status and gender identification.” In one of its court filings responding to the lawsuit government lawyers dispute the sexual assault allegation, saying Cook denied it ever happened. In other court filings the government lawyers point out that Leibelson was cited for numerous violations of prison rules during her stay at Beckley, including at least two instances where she deliberately broke a water sprinkler causing flooding in her cell area. U.S. District Court Judge Irene Berger, who is presiding over the case of the two lawsuits, stated in one of two rulings upholding the lawsuits that Leibelson acknowledged in a deposition that “she was not a model inmate” and “sometimes used insulting or insolent language with staff.” Nevertheless, Berger states in both rulings that Leibelson’s allegations could be viewed as credible if the cases were to go to trial. In handing down one of two rulings denying the government’s request for dismissal of the lawsuits on summary judgment, Berger states, “The court finds that the Plaintiff has put forth sufficient evidence of damages and causation to survive summary judgement.” Berger adds, “Ms. Leibelson’s testimony, as well as her treating psychiatrist’s testimony, would be sufficient to permit a fact-finder to find that abuse at FCI-Beckley caused her emotional damages and/or worsened existing mental health conditions.” In mentioning Paris Leibelson’s testimony Berger was referring to Leibelson’s lengthy deposition or pre-trial testimony that her lawyers said included grueling questions by the government’s lawyer seeking to question her credibility. The lawyers representing her said she did exceptionally well and that her deposition testimony, which was recorded, would be used to support the lawsuit should the case go to trial. One of the two lawsuits named as defendants at the time it was filed more than a dozen individual officials and employees at the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Beckley federal prison. In response to motions by government attorneys, Berger has since dismissed the case against all but two of the individual defendants. Among the two Berger refused to dismiss from the case is Christopher Cook, the guard accused of committing

the sexual assault. In denying the government’s request that she dismiss the case against all of the individual defendants Berger allowed the lawsuit to continue to trial by jury or to a possible settlement. The second lawsuit names the U.S. government as the defendant, saying high-level federal government officials, including those in charge of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, were responsible for not taking steps to prevent the abusive treatment to which Paris Leibelson was subjected. Under court rules, that case goes before a non-jury trial presided over by Berger if a settlement isn’t reached. Two D.C.-based lawyers and other attorneys in West Virginia who filed the lawsuit on Paris’s behalf have arranged for Michael Leibelson to replace Paris as the plaintiff so the lawsuits can continue. Court records show that Judge Berger has approved that change. Michael Leibelson said his and his wife’s aim is to bring about justice for the abuse and suffering they believe Paris experienced in jail and to make at least some effort to challenge what Paris believed to be widespread discrimination and abuse against transgender and gay people in the federal prison system. He said they also plan to use any monetary return they receive should they win the lawsuit or in a possible settlement to create an endowment for a scholarship in Paris’s name. Attorneys William Bruce DelValle and Bruce Fein of the D.C. law firm Fein & DelValle, who have represented Paris and are now representing the father, told the Washington Blade that following her denial of two motions by government lawyers on Dec. 27 and Jan. 3 seeking to have the two cases dismissed, Berger set a tentative date for a trial for one of the cases in May. He said she also ordered the parties to enter into mediation and attend a formal settlement conference over which Berger will preside. DelValle called Berger’s decision to deny dismissal of the cases and to quickly set a potential trial date “a clear signal” that she believes the cases have sufficient merit to go to trial. He said Berger also made it clear that she wants the two sides to try to reach an out of court settlement. Another development that is highly unusual, according to DelValle, is that lawyers from the main U.S. Department of Justice headquarters in Washington are heading the government’s effort to fight against the lawsuit that named the individual government and prison officials as defendants. In most cases like this, DelValle said, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the location where a lawsuit is filed handles the case and not the DOJ in Washington. ■ CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM


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Trump nominee called same-sex marriage ‘assault on nature’ LGBT rights groups demand White House rescind judicial pick By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com President Trump is facing calls to withdraw yet another judicial nominee who was recently revealed to have stated anti-LGBT views. In this case, the pick called the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage “an assault on nature” and “against God’s plan.” Gordon Giampietro, whom Trump nominated for a position as a federal judge in Wisconsin, was revealed to have made the comments in 2015 during interviews with Lydia LoCoco, a social conservative who hosts a faith-based radio show. Buzzfeed was first to report the news. At one point during the interview, Giampietro called same-sex relationships “troubled” and affirmed children raised by opposite-sex parents fare better — despite studies and information debunking that notion. “No one would disagree with the fact that children, all the social science research shows this, are best raised by a man and a woman,” Giampietro said. “This is natural, this is the truth, and it’s irrefutable. And so I think it has to be articulated in a way which isn’t dismissive of those troubled relationships, but it is reaffirming of the truth of marriage.” Although Giampietro urged people to read the Obergefell decision, he said they could “ignore Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion, because it’s not really legal reasoning.” It wasn’t the only pro-LGBT Supreme Court ruling criticized by Giampietro, who said Kennedy “went off the rails” with the 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas. The landmark decision, deemed uncontroversial, struck down state sodomy bans throughout the country. Giampietro also said the Obergefell ruling was “worse than Roe,” the 1973 Supreme Court decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion throughout the United States. Questioned by LoCoco on whether the Obergefell ruling meant textbooks for school children would as result of the ruling now include pictures of same-sex couples, Giampietro replied, “Absolutely, absolutely.” Giampietro also agreed the decision would lead to the legalization of polygamy, citing the dissent by Chief Justice John Roberts to assert “there really is no principled reason to say polygamy isn’t the next thing to go.” When LoCoco said the decision demonstrates her husband was right to rave birth control was responsible for every problem in society, Giampietro

One of DONALD TRUMP’s judicial nominees was revealed to have called same-sex marriage an ‘assault on nature.’ WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

agreed and called it an “assault on nature.” Giampietro also linked that characterization to the same-sex marriage ruling by saying it applies “not just with respect to contraception and marriage.” “Whenever you go against God’s plan, bad things are gonna happen,” Giampietro added. News about Giampietro’s remarks prompted calls from LGBT rights advocates for Trump to withdraw his choice of the nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas. Wendy Strout, the Human Rights Campaign’s Wisconsin state manager, said on Twitter the remarks demonstrate Giampietro is unfit for the bench and he should be withdrawn. “In light of this deeply disturbing 2015 audio recording, @HRC calls on the immediate withdrawal of Gordon Giampietro’s nomination,” Strout tweeted. “His extreme anti-#LGBTQ rhetoric cannot be rewarded with a lifetime appointment representing Wisconsin on the federal court.” While the remarks of the nominee stand out, the Trump administration has been accused of consistently selecting judicial nominees with anti-LGBT records. The LGBT legal group Lambda Legal has estimated that one-third of Trump’s judicial nominees are anti-LGBT. Sharon McGowan, director of strategy at Lambda Legal, said although Giampietro’s comments are consistent with other nominees, the remarks in particular make him unfit for the bench. “The vitriolic and incendiary anti-LGBT rhetoric from Giampietro captured in this recording, while shocking and disturbing, is unfortunately par for the course with

respect to many of the judicial nominees coming out of this White House,” McGowan said. “But even if it is becoming commonplace, we must never treat this as normal. That is why Lambda Legal is calling on the Trump Administration to immediately rescind this nomination.” But Giampietro’s controversial remarks weren’t just limited to LGBT issues. Buzzfeed also reported in 2014 that Giampietro wrote on the website called the Catholic Thing “calls for diversity” are “code for relaxed standards (moral and intellectual).” The now-deleted blog post to which Giampietro was responding was apparently in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Giampietro commented the author of the blog post was “exactly right to trace the intrusion into private business to the Civil Right Act,” but added he’d go back farther to “the original sin of slavery.” Without slavery, Giampietro wrote, there’d be “no racial spoils system, no calls for diversity.” Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, said in a statement the views Giampietro expressed “are so hostile and biased that they are frankly breathtaking.” “These tapes completely undermine any confidence the public could have had that a Judge Giampietro would be an open-minded and fair arbiter of cases involving LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and other critical legal rights and protections,” Aron said. “His nomination must be withdrawn and replaced with that of an individual Wisconsinites can trust to respect the rights of all.” According to a White House bio, Giampietro is an assistant general counsel of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance

Company. Prior to that role, Giampietro spent 13 years as an assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Giampietro earned both his bachelor’s degree with high honors in philosophy and his law degree from the Catholic University of America in D.C. Giampietro hasn’t yet received a hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee. According to Buzzfeed, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) hasn’t yet signaled her approval of the judicial nominee for her state by submitting a “blue slip” to the committee. In years past, that would have blocked the nominee from going forward, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently changed the process so judicial picks would be able to move forward anyway. It remains to be seen whether the White House will withdraw the nomination or the U.S. Senate will reject Giampietro. When Jeff Mateer, a Texas assistant attorney general whom Trump nominated for a federal judgeship, was revealed to have called trans nominees “Satan’s plan,” the outcry from LGBT groups prompted the White House to declare he wouldn’t move forward. Trump declined to re-nominate him when the appointment stalled in the Senate. Should Giampietro be appointed to the federal bench, he’d be bound by the Obergfell decision as precedent for any challenges to the decision that would come before him, making a ruling from him against the decision extremely difficult. Giampietro wouldn’t be able to overturn the Obergefell from his position as a trial court judge. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article. Giampietro couldn’t be reached for comment.


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Out Olympic athletes inspire LGBT people around the world CONTINUED FROM PAGE 01

on Monday noted to the Washington Blade that gay American figure skater Adam Rippon is “certainly the breakout star” of the games. “He’s proud,” said Minor. “He’s unapologetic.” Johnny Weir, a former figure skater who is now an NBC commentator, on Feb. 16 wrote on his Twitter page after Rippon skated in the men’s free skate event that he “had to hold a press conference to defend myself against people questioning my gender” after he skated in men’s free skate program at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Weir then added he is “watching the world accept a vibrant and powerful hero in Adam Rippon.” “I am so proud and thankful to those who came before us,” wrote Weir. Canadian figure skater Eric Radford became the first openly gay man to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics when he and his teammates won the team figure skating event. Irene Wüst, a Dutch speed skater who is bisexual, has won a gold and silver medal in Pyeongchang. She is the first speed skater in history to win 10 consecutive Olympic medals. American speed skater Brittany Bowe is also among the 15 out athletes who are competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. “Every out athlete is important,” Cyd Zeigler, Jr., co-founder of Outsports.com, an LGBT sports website, told the Blade on Monday in an email. “Each one inspires someone else to live their life authentically.” David McFarland, founder of United for Equality in Sports and Entertainment, agreed. “Visibility matters,” he told the Blade. “Adam, Gus and Brittany showed up on the world stage shining a spotlight on the lack of inclusion, respect and equality for LGBT athletes in sport. We need to see more of these inspiring moments from athletes so young LGBT athletes know they too can fulfill their Olympic and athletic dreams without having to live in silence.” Zeigler pointed out Outsports.com’s tagline is “Courage is Contagious” because “we see the impact that every out LGBTQ athlete has on youth and adults alike.” He, like Minor, specifically singled out Rippon. “At these Olympics, though, Adam Rippon has done something special, something we haven’t seen before,” Zeigler told the Blade. “He is out there with all the flash and sass we’ve been told for centuries that male sports heroes can’t exhibit. Yet here he is, being his own true self, and America is falling in love with him.” “Brittany and Gus and Eric Radford and the rest of the out Olympians from around the world are all having a positive impact on the lives of countless people,” he added. “Adam is a breakthrough like we’ve never seen before, not even with

On the feud between Adam Rippon and Mike Pence, gay Canadian figure skater ERIC RADFORD said, ‘I feel very lucky that I’m not Adam and I don’t have to deal with that whole political side of things. Since I won my gold medal I got a call from our prime minister and he tweeted Meagan and I on our individual and bronze medal. He’s been so supportive and kind and nice.’


Johnny Weir.” Wüst won two gold medals and three silver medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Kenworthy won a silver medal in men’s freestyle skiing at the games, but he was not out at the time. Russia’s LGBT rights record overshadowed the Sochi games. The issue sparked global outrage, even though the majority of athletes who competed in the Olympics remained silent. The International Olympic Committee in 2014 added sexual orientation to the Olympic Charter’s anti-discrimination clause, known as Principle 6. The IOC also added an anti-discrimination clause to host city contracts. The U.N. General Assembly last November adopted a gay-inclusive “Olympic Truce Resolution” that calls for peace around the world during the Pyeongchang games. The U.S., France

and Brazil blocked Egyptian and Russian efforts to remove a reference of Principle 6 from the resolution. The Pyeongchang Organizing Committee has adopted the IOC’s gay-inclusive antidiscrimination provisions. The Canadian Olympic Committee is hosting a Pride House the Korean Sexual Minority Culture and Rights Center, a Seoul-based LGBT and intersex advocacy group, and Pride House International organized. “People now know that they shouldn’t discriminate (against people because of their) sexual orientation or gender identity,” Candy Yun, a bisexual rights advocate who is the Korean Sexual Minority Culture and Rights Center’s International Solidarity Manager, told the Blade earlier this month during a Skype interview from Seoul. “I hope at the Olympics or after the Pride House that people may try to understand that any person in the sporting community


can be out.” Vice President Pence and his wife attended the Pyeongchang games’ opening ceremonies. Rippon in recent weeks has criticized Pence for his opposition to LGBT rights. Both he and Kenworthy have also said they would not meet with the vice president. Kenworthy on Feb. 15 posted on Twitter a picture of an X-ray that shows the thumb he broke during practice. He said it “won’t stop me from competing . . . but it does prevent me from shaking Pence’s hand.” “Silver linings,” proclaimed Kenworthy. Minor told the Blade that Kenworthy and Rippon are getting even more attention during the Olympics because they are “simply standing up for what they believe in.” “Everybody can appreciate them,” said Minor.


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Parkland shooting inspires new calls for gun reform CONTINUED FROM PAGE 01

degree than they have listened in the past. In fact, at the end of our legislative session today, the speaker announced publicly that they were working on a bill that they hope would be a bipartisan bill regarding guns.” Richardson also said there’s greater motivation for change after the Parkland shooting compared to the Orlando attack because “the other big difference is that these are school children versus LGBT folks in a nightclub.” “These are kids and they’re kids from a neighborhood that have some level of financial comfort so that they can afford to come up and allow their voices to be heard and also they’re very articulate,” Richardson said. “I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the speeches, but some of these kids are incredibly articulate and they’re using social media to move their issue.” There’s general agreement among gun advocates about the solutions that must be enacted: universal background checks, closing the gun-show loophole, ensuring that we can keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, banning bump stocks and restricting assault weapons. Lauren Baer, who served as a foreign policy expert in the State Department under the Obama administration, is running for the Democratic nomination in the 18th congressional district and cited those solutions as “things that I hear people want in order to keep themselves, their families, their children safe.” “The issue of gun violence prevention is hugely important to the constituents of Florida-18,” Baer said. “It was important even before the tragedy that happened in Parkland last weekend and it’s even more on people’s minds today.” Baer’s potential opponent in the midterm election, incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), has responded to the Parkland shooting with his own explanation for why the shooting occurred, blaming violence in video games and movies. “When you look at ‘Call of Duty,’ when you look at movies like ‘John Wick,’ the societal impacts of people being desensitized to killing in ways different than how somebody on the battlefield was desensitized is troubling,” Mast said on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Baer said Mast’s response to the shooting was “disappointing and ill-informed,” referencing that debunked notion that virtual violence inspires mass shootings. “There’s one thing we know and it’s that video games don’t cause mass shootings, guns in the hands of individuals with bad intentions do, and there are commonsense steps that we can take in our communities and members of Congress can take in order to curb gun violence and keep our children safe,” Baer said. But we’ve seen the push for change and

outrage over inaction before. That hasn’t resulted in change from Congress, nor any consequences for lawmakers holding it up. In fact, after the Pulse shooting, the National Rifle Association-endorsed Trump won election to the White House and Republicans maintained majorities in both chambers of Congress. Is there any reason to think things will be different in the 2018 mid-term elections? The head of an LGBT group that focuses on gun reform efforts thinks so. Jason Lindsay, executive director of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, said the Parkland shooting “has rekindled the flame of activism in the community.” “The enthusiasm gap has closed,” Lindsay said. “There’s always been this proposed enthusiasm gap saying that people on the right side are very, very motivated and passionate about gun issues and they’ll vote on it, but voters on the left-end of the spectrum, it’s not that important. Well, that dynamic has definitely changed and gun violence is a top issue for voters.” Lindsay cited a volunteer meeting that was set for Thursday night in D.C. as evidence of new energy in the fight for gun control. The event, Lindsay said, is one of several volunteer meetings the Pride Fund is coordinating across the country. Baer said the latest mass shooting will have an impact on the mid-term elections because the victims in Parkland were students and “the children who were cowering under desks and the closets are now rallying in the streets and writing their congresspeople and demanding action.” “We are here again now still having this conversation after what happened in Parkland, but my hope is that the fact that young people themselves are rallying and demanding that Congress finally do something will actually make the change this time around,” Baer said. For the upcoming elections, Lindsay said the Pride Fund is focused on drawing attention to lawmakers who receive funds from NRA to stay in office. The first is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whom Lindsay said accepted $3 million in NRA funding. The other is vulnerable incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), whom Lindsay said accepted $137,000 from the NRA, placing her on on the top 10 list of NRA recipient money. “Because Comstock is such an NRA lackey and because she’s got an ‘A’ rating from them, she has voted time and time again with the gun lobby over the will of her constituents,” Lindsay said. Richardson, however, had his own take on NRA support, saying donations aren’t where its power lies, but its willingness to take out lawmakers who disagree with it. “They could easily do without that $1,000 political contribution,” Richardson said. What they can’t do with is having the NRA come after them. Many members of the majority

party here feel like if you don’t support the NRA, then not only would they lose that financial contribution to their account, but they would risk the ire of the NRA. And then, the NRA would come after them and spend a half a million dollars to take them out.” As evidence, Richardson said in 2016 the defeat of Republican Miguel Díaz de la Portilla, once chair of the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee, was orchestrated by the NRA because he refused to allow pro-gun measures to come before the panel. As a result, a Democrat won the seat, but a new Republican took Díaz de la Portilla’s position as committee chair. Nonetheless, Richardson said he thinks the NRA’s tactics in the mid-term elections will be less effective because “we’re seeing these gun incidents recurring and…the conversation is getting more traction,” which is combined with dissatisfaction with President Trump. “In the congressional district I’m running in, people just polled it and 55 percent of the people in the district, the Democrats, want to see him impeached,” Richardson said. “Anything that Trump has stood for, including widespread support for the NRA, is going to raise the ire of Democratic voters.” As pressure builds in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, movement toward change is already taking place even before the mid-term elections. President Trump on Tuesday directed the U.S. Justice Department to craft regulations banning bump stocks, which turn semiautomatic firearms into automatic weapons. Such a device enabled the Las Vegas shooter last year to kill 58 people and injure 851 attending a country music concert. Further, Trump came out in favor of legislation aimed at improving the federal background check system. Various versions of legislation came up in the Senate after the mass shooting, but none have found sufficient support for passage. In the aftermath of Trump’s newfound support for gun control measures, Richardson said he’d give credit to the president “when it’s done,” expressing skepticism real change will be enacted. “After Vegas, by the way, there was conversation in Washington, D.C. about banning bump stocks, and that conversation lasted about two weeks and it died,” Richardson said. “I even thought at the time that the NRA may support that, but then everybody just moved off the conversation as soon as the news cycle was done.” As an immediate remedy, Linsday is calling on Congress to pass legislation sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) called the Gun Violence Research Act, which would repeal the Dickey amendment and allow the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence. The Pride Fund endorsed Murphy in 2016. “This should be like the one issue that

JASON LINDSAY, executive director of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, said the Parkland shooting ‘has rekindled the flame of activism in the community.’ WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

everybody should be able to agree upon,” Lindsay said. “Even if we can’t pass legislation on specific policies at least let’s be able to pass legislation saying let’s let the government study gun violence and what’s causing it to continually get worse and worse.” In Florida, House leadership brought to the floor legislation that would ban assault weapons in the state. However, lawmakers in the Republican-majority chamber voted 71-36 to table the legislation as student activists watched from the gallery and were emotional. With energy building for action on gun control legislation, gay congressional candidates see a unique role for the LGBT community going forward because it experienced first-hand gun violence during the Pulse nightclub shooting. Richardson said the LGBT community he represents in South Florida was affected by the Orlando massacre, but the issue of gun violence is real for all Americans. “The LGBT community here in South Florida really identifies with what happened in Orlando and it makes it very personal for the LGBT community, but in general that the LGBT community, along with every other community, should be concerned about gun violence prevention,” Richardson said. “We share the same values in that we all just want to be safe on our streets.” Baer said the LGBT community “knows all too well what it feels like to be the target of gun violence,” which creates a need for LGBT people to work with gun control advocates to institute change. “This is really a universal issue that can touch neighborhoods and every community across this country, so we really, as members of the LGBT community, need to be working hand-in-hand with our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors and congresspeople to do something about this and make change,” Baer said.


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Gay parent-teen sex talk lacking: study

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PrEP possible insurance snag for gay N.Y. men

NEW YORK — State financial regulators in New York said this week that they would investigate reports that gay men have been denied insurance policies covering life, disability or long-term care because they were taking medication to protect themselves against HIV, the New York Times reports. Such denials would amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the companies doing so could be penalized, said Maria T. Vullo, the state’s superintendent of financial services, the Times reports. The investigation was triggered by an article published Tuesday by the New York Times, she said. The Times reported that various insurers around the country had denied policies to gay men after learning they were on PrEP. To get insurance, some men even stopped taking the protective drugs. AIDS experts have condemned the insurance denials as both discriminatory and nonsensical, because they deny policies to good risks — men who protect themselves. “This is tantamount to penalizing applicants based on sexual orientation,” Vullo told the New York Times. “Insurers cannot choose to deny coverage based on discriminatory reasons.” Insurers often do not explain why they turn down an application, but regulators have the power to ask exactly what criteria they use, to rule some criteria invalid, and to demand the records of individual cases, said Richard Loconte, a spokesman for the department, ADVERTISIN G PRO according to O theF New York Times.

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Parents of gay, bi and queer male teens are missing the boat on reducing risk by not talking to them about issues of sexuality in the same way they talk to straight adolescents, a new study has found. A research team led by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing studied the issue and concludes that sex-based communication between parents that excludes same-sex sexual concerns is a missed opportunity for targeted sexual risk reduction, Medical XPress reports. This is particularly important considering male-to-male HIV sexual transmission accounts for 92 percent of new HIV infections among all adolescent males between ages 13-24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study further advances understanding about the larger roles parents and health care providers can play in facilitating positive, family-based sexual health discussions for gay-leaning youth that are specific to their emerging attractions, current and future behavior and identities. The findings, dubbed “It’s Almost Like Gay Sex Doesn’t Exist: Parent-Child Sex Communication According to Gay, Bisexual and Queer Male Adolescents” are set for publication in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Adolescent Research, but are available online. The team used a qualitative interpretive approach to explore perceptions of sex communication with adolescent males who self-identify as gay, bisexual or queer. Semi-structured interviews with GBQ males between 15-20 years of age were conducted to understand their experiences with sex communication, identify their thoughts on parents’ approaches to these conversations and their efficacy as sex educators, and determine the inclusivity of these talks, Medical XPress reports. The study determined that for this demographic, sex communication with parents occurs rarely, is heteronormative in content prior to adolescent males’ disclosure as GBQ, and after disclosure is reactionary and based on stereotypes that associate this population with negative health outcomes.


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Study: gay teen romance is bullying buffer

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Medicine study conducted in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati. The finding is particularly important because prior research has not found a protective effect like this for support from parents and friends. While the benefits of being in romantic relationships to mental health is well documented in adults, limited research has been conducted on the association between dating relationships and mental health in young people. Even fewer researchers have examined the potential stress-buffering effects of romantic involvement for sexual minority groups. The paper, dubbed “Romantic Involvement: a Protective Factor for Psychological Health in Racially Diverse Young Sexual Minorities” was published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology on Feb. 1.

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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.

Rx Only Manufactured by Patheon, Inc. for Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. San Francisco, CA 94105 Copyright © Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Please see complete Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com. NP-390-17

• 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.


2 0 • F E B RUA RY 2 3, 2018


By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com An interesting phenomenon has played out as the Pyeongchang Olympics have unfolded. Gus Kenworthy, a freestyle skier who came out after the Sochi Olympics, has become a social media

scorn for his over-the-top makeup, hairstyles and wardrobe. It’s no coincidence that of the three, Weir is by far highest on the flame-o-meter and has also gotten the most hate. Why are we so quick to eat our gender-bending own? Where does this hatred come from? The mainstream coverage of Weir this cycle has been largely positive. The Chicago Tribune called him one of the “winners” of the Pyeonchang Games and demoted commentator Scott Hamilton praised Weir and Lipinski in a New York Times interview. Weir’s highly informed,

Go Johnny go. The world would be an awfully boring place if we all played by the rules.

darling and figure skater Adam Rippon an insta-celebrity with his dazzling skating and deliciously odd interviews with NBC’s Andrea Joyce. Then there’s Johnny Weir, also a strong gay presence at these games for his figure skating voiceover commentary with fellow former Olympian Tara Lipinski. He’s been on the receiving end of heavy gay

evocative descriptions of the skating — he said Yuzuru Hanyu’s gold-nabbing performance is “what angel’s breath looks like” and said Javier Fernandez is “giving us ‘Man of La Mancha’ realness” — has drawn praise. The Lipinski/Weir pairing has been so popular that NBC also used them for the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, the Kentucky Derby and the NaE DIT OR IA L C A R T OON





Johnny Weir’s glorious faggotry What’s behind the gay hate directed at skating commentator?


PO Box 53352 Washington DC 20009 PHONE

tional Dog Show. They’ve been praised for their chemistry and ability to reach a younger demographic. But in the far bitchier world of gay social media, Weir has elicited a curious scorn. “Johnny Weird” (So clever!) “Tara & Johnny — no chemistry” “He spends more time on his hair and makeup than Tara.” “Somebody at the network should have said, ‘Uhhh — no.’” “Who wore it better” with a Weir screen grab next to Joan Crawford circa “I Saw What You Did.” “Why couldn’t they have gotten somebody who actually won to call the Olympics?” What alarms me about the Johnny hate is three-fold. One, it shows that even in the LGBT world, we’re way more comfortable with binary than we are with anything close to genderfuck. Put a drag queen on, nobody bats an eye. Put a straight-acting hottie on like Kenworthy, we lap it up. Yet Johnny makes us squirm. Why? Two, in a weird sort of way it channels back more viciously the blatant misogyny we see in mainstream culture. The straight, old, white boys’ club hates women just like the cis, white, gay, straight-acting guys hate Johnny who takes such obvious glee in sequins, spangles and glitter. Third, the curious virulence of it — it’s a lot more than just “he’s not my cup of tea” — is alarming for the same reason closet cases are often the biggest gay bashers: It says more about the haters than the hated. So what if Johnny is genderqueer? So what if he spends more time on hair and makeup than Tara? So what if he wants to wear necklaces and teased coiffeurs? (Kudos to NBC for letting Johnny be Johnny, by the way.) Johnny’s sartorial choices hit a nerve because I like a lot of the same stuff. And yeah, I know all the tropes — “sometimes less is more,” “a little bling goes a long way,” “genderbending is fine but let’s not throw taste entirely out the window either.” These are all valid points, but we need Johnny the way we needed the glorious faggotry of yore, whether it was allowed to be out at the time or not (e.g. Liberace, Freddie Mercury, on and on). Go Johnny go. The world would be an awfully boring place if we all played by the rules. JOEY DIGUGLIELMO is the Blade’s features editor.

202-747-2077 E-MAIL news@washblade.com INTERNET washingtonblade.com PUBLISHED BY Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. PUBLISHER LYNNE J. BROWN lbrown@washblade.com ext. 8075 EDITORIAL EDITOR KEVIN NAFF knaff@washblade.com ext. 8088 FEATURES EDITOR JOEY DIGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com ext. 8081 SR. NEWS REPORTER LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com ext. 8079 NEWS REPORTER CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com ext. 8083 REPORTER & INTERNATIONAL NEWS EDITOR MICHAEL K. LAVERS mlavers@washblade.com POP CULTURE REPORTER MARIAH COOPER PHOTO EDITOR MICHAEL KEY mkey@washblade.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS PETER ROSENSTEIN, MARK LEE, LATEEFAH WILLIAMS, KATE CLINTON, KATHI WOLFE, RICHARD J. ROSENDALL, HELEN PARSHALL, ERNESTO VALLE, NICOLÁS LEVY, BUNMI JOHNSON CREATIVE DESIGN/PRODUCTION AZERCREATIVE.COM SALES & ADMINISTRATION DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING STEPHEN RUTGERS srutgers@washblade.com ext. 8077 SR. ACCT. EXECUTIVE BRIAN PITTS bpitts@washblade.com ext. 8089 ACCT. EXECUTIVE JOE HICKLING jhickling@washblade.com ext. 8094 CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING/ADMINISTRATION PHILLIP G. ROCKSTROH prockstroh@washblade.com ext. 8092 NATIONAL ADVERTISING RIVENDELL MEDIA 212-242-6863; sales@rivendellmedia.com For distribution, contact Lynne Brown at 202-747-2077, ext. 8075. Distributed by MediaPoint, LLC All material in the Washington Blade is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Washington Blade. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representation does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of that person or persons. Although the Washington Blade is supported by many fine advertisers, we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Washington Blade, but the paper cannot take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. A single copy of the Washington Blade is available from authorized distribution points, to any individual within a 50-mile radius of Washington, D.C. Multiple copies are available from the Washington Blade office only. Call for rates. If you are unable to get to a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 52-week mailed subscription for $195 per year or $5.00 per single issue. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Phil Rockstroh at prockstroh@washblade.com. Postmaster: Send address changes to the Washington Blade, PO BOX 53352 Washington, DC 20009. The Washington Blade is published weekly, on Friday, by Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. Individual Subscriptions are $195 per year for 52 issues (only $3.75 per issue mailed to you USPS). Rates for businesses/institutions are $450 per year. Periodical postage paid at Washington, D.C., and additional mailing offices. Editorial positions of the Washington Blade are expressed in editorials and in editors’ notes as determined by the paper’s editors. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Washington Blade or its staff. To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words; commentaries should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for verification. Send submissions by e-mail to knaff@washblade.com.




F E BRU A RY 2 3 , 2 0 1 8 • 2 1

Don’t forget about Latin America in LGBT equality fight Overlooked region is at a delicate tipping point By DANIEL BEREZOWSKY LGBT advocates do not speak about Latin America very often. The region is home to 625 million people and yet, it is commonly disregarded in international conferences and reports on sexual orientation and gender identity. I think it has to do with the fact that, to many, Latin America seems to be doing “well enough.” To be fair “well enough” seems accurate to some extent. When compared to other regions of the world (primarily Africa and Southeast Asia), most countries in Latin America seem to be doing just fine in terms of liberties for LGBT people. Same-sex activity is legal in practically all the countries of the region (East-Caribbean islands aside). Same-sex marriage is recognized in Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil. Some countries, like Argentina, have some of the most advanced legal gender recognition norms in the world. And every summer, tens of thousands fill the streets of Rio, Santiago, Montevideo, Mexico City, and many others, with joyful marches of Pride. Behind this salubrious portrait, however, lies a lackluster reality.

The weak rule of law that persists in some countries renders their ultra-progressive legislation practically useless. In Brazil, a person is killed because of his or her sexual orientation every 25 hours. Mexico had over one thousand homophobic murders in only two decades. And the region as a whole has four out of the five countries with the highest trans and gender-diverse murder rates in the world. In practically all 33 countries, homophobia and transphobia continue to be widespread. In some cases, such as Barbados, Jamaica, Dominica, Granada and several others, it is encouraged de facto by the state. In the rest, it is allowed, and often perpetrated by police officers, judges, politicians and civil servants. LGBT activists in the region, however, are often left to put up the fight alone. With limited resources, multinational foundations and nonprofits often gear their international LGBT work toward Africa and Southeast Asia. The language barrier also limits the capabilities of small LGBT organizations in the United States and Europe that often do not have Spanish or Portuguese speaking staff. Regional organizations also lack the capability to support the work of LGBT activists. At the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, for example, the LGBT rapporteurship has one staff member, or sometimes

two, if they are lucky to get a fellow or an intern that year. Yet, they have 35 countries to cover (U.S. and Canada included) each of them with a drastically different reality. In the meantime, conservative organizations have mustered unprecedented resources and are orchestrating a powerful and coordinated backlash across the region. Earlier this month in Costa Rica, a campaign based solely on hate speech boosted evangelical candidate Fabricio Alvarado to the top of the first round, in the country’s presidential elections. In the past three years alone, anti-gay groups have also managed to stop a presidential reform to recognize marriage equality nationwide in Mexico; they derailed a proposed LGBT-inclusive curriculum in Peru; and most recently, they have used deceitful campaigns in Ecuador, Chile and Uruguay to launch a defense of the traditional family from the so-called “gender ideology.” LGBT rights were also under tough scrutiny in Brazil, last year, when a judge rolled back on regulations to ban “conversion therapy,” and in Chile, where the same-sex marriage bill remained stagnant in Congress. Latin America is at a delicate tipping point. The significant progress that was achieved over the last decade could easily be lost if the region falls into complacency. LGBT advocates are working hard

to impede setbacks, but they cannot do it alone. They have the courage, the will and the inspiration; but they lack the advocacy skills, the financial resources and the brand recognition that only international organizations can build and sustain. The timing is right. In early January, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights published a landmark advisory opinion that signals the possibility to acknowledge marriage equality and gender legal recognition under the American Convention of Human Rights. If the international LGBT rights movement supports the region and builds robust transnational networks to share information, resources and strategies, not only will the continent be able to deter possible setbacks; it can emerge as an example that may have a domino effect elsewhere in the hemisphere, and around the world. We have to start caring about Latin America. We have to stop thinking that “well enough” is good enough for LGBT people in the region. And we have to do so now, before it is too late. DANIEL BEREZOWSKY is an LGBT advocate from Mexico City. He is an HBO Point Foundation Scholar pursuing a master’s in international affairs at Columbia University. During his studies, he has interned at the InterAmerican Commission of Human Rights and at the LGBT Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.


Thoughts and prayers don’t save lives

Listen to the kids and take action now

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

I write this column with tears running down my face. The grief for all the children and their teachers who died in the latest school shooting is palpable. All these beautiful lives snuffed out before their time. Would one of these children have been the person to discover a cure for cancer? Or become the next prima ballerina or a Noble Prize winner? Would they have grown up to become the father, mother, sister or brother able to give something to the ones they loved or the ones who loved them? The heroic

and talented teachers lost not only to their families but to future generations of students. All because of one mentally ill child we didn’t help; and a generation of politicians who have been unwilling to do anything but offer hollow thoughts and prayers and a few forced tears. Well the tears and prayers of these politicians, and their words of condolence are just not enough and we need to tell them that in no uncertain terms. We are hearing the children who survived this latest atrocity in Parkland, Fla., saying, “We demand action now. President Trump your empty words and even emptier promises are simply not enough.” I am a Democrat but at this time politics be damned. I call on the nation, every Democrat, Republican, and independent to commit to not casting a ballot for anyone, no matter their party, who is not willing to pledge to vote for common sense gun law reform. To not cast a ballot for any candidate who doesn’t commit to increased funding for mental health programs. We can no longer accept the hypocrisy from those like our president who calls for increased funding for mental

health programs two days after submitting a budget to Congress calling for big cuts to Medicaid, which currently funds 25 percent of all our mental health programs. We must finally hold politicians accountable and say to them in no uncertain terms, “The blood of those who will continue to die in these senseless shootings is on your hands because you have the power to do something about this and you are doing nothing.” There is absolutely no reason for any civilian to be able to purchase an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. These are weapons of war and have no place in the hands of civilians on our streets. We must stand united and say to any politician who asks for our vote, “If you support the right of civilians to buy these weapons you are responsible for the war on our children. You can pretend you are defending the Second Amendment but you are not. You are waging a war on our children and our society.” On Nov. 6, 2018, Americans will go to the polls to elect their representatives on all levels of government. If we want to end this scourge of violence and this war on

our children every American must be willing to stand up and say, “I will not vote for any candidate who refuses to support increasing the budget for mental health care and gun law reform.” Politicians have the power to act but we, the voters, are the ones to give them that power or take it away. We have that only if we use our VOTE. If we abrogate that responsibility we are just as responsible as they are. It’s past time both to listen to, and speak out for, our children. The children who have survived the horrors of a shooting incident in their school and those who speak to us from their graves. They are begging us to act. Students like Cameron Kasky who survived the Parkland shooting with his brother who is a special needs student. Cameron wrote moving words: “My generation won’t stand for this.” We must all say to Cameron that our generation will no longer stand for this either. We must speak with these students and for them and do something more than just offer our thoughts and prayers. We must heed their demand and take action now.


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Separating great art from predatory artists Is it OK to enjoy Weinstein and Allen films despite accusations?

KATHI WOLFE, a regular contributor to the Blade, was the winner of the 2014 Stonewall Chapbook Competition.

I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Oscars. Awards shouldn’t matter. Yet, I’ve always watched the Oscars – with my grandparents on their TV, at parties in college and last year at a friend’s home. Like millions of aficionados I’ve lapped up the glam and drama of the Oscars. Who can forget Sally Field’s “You like me! You like me!” moment or Barbra Streisand exclaiming “Hello, gorgeous!” when she won her first Oscar for “Funny Girl?” Yet in this #MeToo moment, the 90th Academy Awards cer-

emony on March 4 may be more mired in muck than bathed in bliss. Men have had (and still have) nearly all of the power in Tinsel Town. We’ve all heard of “casting couches.” For decades, male producers, directors and actors have been accused of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. Until recently, many of them kept working even with these allegations. In 1977, Academy Award-winning director Roman Polanski was charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. He was in jail for 45 days after he pled guilty to unlawful intercourse with a minor. Polanski fled to France when a judge wanted to reopen his case. Despite this, he continued to win Oscars (Best Picture and Best Director for “The Pianist” in 2003). Who wasn’t aware of the cloud over Polanski’s reputation? Yet, I, like many, continued to enjoy his movies from “Rosemary’s Baby” to “The Pianist.” For years, there’s been controversy over whether Oscar winner (Best Director and Best Picture for “Annie Hall in 1978) Woody Allen sexually abused his daughter Dylan Farrow when she was a child. Yet, I, along with many other Allen fans, still loved Allen’s

movies from “Annie Hall” to “Hannah and Her Sisters” to “Blue Jasmine.” Some of us were so taken with “Manhattan’s” black and white, romanticized vision of New York and Gershwin soundtrack, that it didn’t occur to us to wonder whether there was something creepy about Allen’s middle-aged character’s (in the film) hook-up with a teenage girl. In the era of #MeToo and Time’s Up, it’s hard to believe how, previously, many of us could without thinking separate the art from the artist. How could we, mostly without guilt, disentangle our beloved movies or TV series from the allegations of sexual harassment surrounding their creators? Since the New York Times reported in October that there were many allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against producer Harvey Weinstein dating back to 1990, numerous women and men, hetero and queer, have alleged that they have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. (Weinstein has denied the rape allegations. His films have received 81 Oscars.) Kevin Spacey infamously issued a “nonapology,” apology after he was accused of making inappropriate sexual advances

against Anthony Rapp when Rapp was 14. Instead of apologizing for sexually harassing Rapp, Spacey used the moment to come out, saying, he’d “had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man.” Perhaps, in a previous time, Spacey might have been allowed to continue to work. Fortunately, this isn’t the case now. Spacey was slated to appear in “All the Money in the World,” the 2017 film about the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III. After the sexual harassment scandal, Christopher Plummer replaced Spacey in the film. (Plummer received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the movie.) Spacey will not play villainous president Frank Underwood in the final season of “House of Cards.” At the Golden Globe awards last month and at the British Academy Film Awards on Feb. 18, actresses dressed in black, wore Times UP pins and brought feminist activists as their dates. These are hopeful steps. We needn’t stop enjoying, and even if we wanted to, we couldn’t erase movies created in the past. But we can support those working to make Hollywood a safe and equal workplace.


Meet the Wakandan Renaissance

Black filmmakers correct the narrative with powerful storytelling

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

In Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” when Prospero’s daughter Miranda meets the visitors to their enchanted island, she says, “How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in’t!” Her father replies, “’Tis new to thee.” I think of this as I watch the rapturous critical and popular response to the mythical nation of Wakanda introduced last week to millions outside the world of comics by writer-director Ryan Coogler in his masterful film, “Black Panther.” It is not just that the title character was created in 1966. A sleeping giant, awakened, soon remembers her strength. The long Western reduction of Africans to conquered primitives, and of their cinematic

descendants to mostly subservient and pathological roles, stems not from the continent to which humanity traces its origins but from a white colonialist gaze. Ultimately, willful blindness is no advantage. Coogler and his collaborators give us an advanced African nation that has never been colonized; with a ruler who seriously confronts the tension between tradition and innovation; where a child’s expectation is success. Black Panther is at once a triumph of filmic storytelling and a lesson in the folly of neglecting black audiences and squandering black talent. The success of this $200 million project (a big change from Coogler’s $900,000 first feature, “Fruitvale Station”) is another step in the rough journey from exploitation to collaboration between black artists and a white-dominated industry. It is emblematic of our age that a realworld president reduces grave national issues to cartoonish simplicity, while a comic-book king brings statesmanship, complexity, and empathy to his job. As America slides into tribalism, T’Challa strives to overcome it. The strong presence of women in “Black Panther” has roots in women warriors in places like Dahomey, Ghana and Nigeria. The film also boasts talented women

behind the scenes, including production director Hannah Beachler, cinematographer Rachel Morrison, costume designer Ruth E. Carter, hair department head Camille Friend, specialty jeweler Douriean Fletcher, and first assistant director Lisa C. Satriano. Provocateur alert: Breitbart, a Russian bot of a website, reports that some are objecting to the lack of a lesbian moment between two warriors in the Dora Milaje. Gee, and I thought the movie was plenty gay because I dreamed of being stuck in an elevator with Killmonger and T’Challa. I am sorry, but picking fights over things that are not in a particular story reminds me of a late friend who could hardly watch a movie without finding something to piss him off. We might just as well demand a scene set in Cartagena. I go to movies rooting for the moviemakers to succeed. Part of embracing diversity means enjoying other people’s stories without insisting that they cover everything. This movie has an ambitious reach and succeeds beautifully, and I for one am celebrating it. There will be sequels. People of all races are flocking to theaters to visit Wakanda in the aftermath of another mass shooting that displays government impotence in the face of unchecked greed. They hunger for leadership

and inspiration. Thanks to Coogler and his extraordinary assemblage of artists, I see children dancing for joy. They long to see themselves reflected in power onscreen. Their vibrant spirit is the vibranium. As T’Challa’s antagonist Killmonger observes, colonialism left a bloody trail across Africa. In early 1961, America helped assassinate Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the post-colonial Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher called Nelson Mandela a terrorist for acts that would have been lionized if committed by white men in Lexington and Concord in 1775. Today in America, descendants of the Middle Passage are still targets of vote suppression and legal lynching by police officers as white nationalism is stoked from the executive mansion. In short, we have been a long time waiting for Wakanda. Ryan Coogler, an engaging and self-assured man devoted to making movies with a social impact, is a proven blockbuster director and film auteur at age 31. He is joined by directors like Ava DuVernay, Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele, and a host of actors and craftspeople at the vanguard of a new era in moviemaking. Call it the Wakandan Renaissance. Copyright © 2018 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.














MICHAEL URIE used to rehearse scenes from ‘Hamlet’ just for fun before being cast in the Michael Kahn production. PHOTO BY SCOTT SUCHMAN; COURTESY STC

‘To be’ Hamlet Out actor Michael Urie savors chance to work with former teacher — D.C. theater titan Michael Kahn By PATRICK FOLLIARD At 37, Michael Urie has the acting career that he couldn’t imagine as a kid in Plano, Texas. “I thought maybe I’d be a drama teacher one day but couldn’t see much beyond that. And then I moved to New York City where I felt both instantly at home and inspired by the possibility that I could be a real, working actor.” Today, Urie’s vast and varied vitae includes classical theater, Broadway musicals, 600 performances of “Buyer and Cellar” (his one-man comedy about a young manager of a mock mall on

Barbra Streisand’s Malibu estate) and a successful run on TV’s “Ugly Betty.” Last week, the approachable actor sat down at an out-of-the-way coffeeshop in Chinatown for tea and some talk about tackling a theatrical milestone. It was like meeting with a fun acquaintance who just happens to know a lot about Shakespeare. When Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Michael Kahn was asked to do one more play from the bard’s canon before ending his tenure as artistic director, he agreed to stage his third “Hamlet” provided Urie

play the title role. As Hamlet, Urie, who studied drama with Kahn at Juilliard School in New York, brings a mix of dramatic and comic talents to the story of the Danish prince whose life is rocked after his uncle murders his father the king, marries his mother and steals the crown. Set in a contemporary, sleek police state, the production certainly resonates. WASHINGTON BLADE: When Michael Kahn offered you Hamlet, how’d you react? MICHAEL URIE: I accepted without

hesitation of course. It’s a part I’ve wanted to play forever. In the past I’d get studio space and work on it from time to time with another director. We’d bring in other actors and do the ghost scene or the Gertrude scene just for ourselves. BLADE: Is that a thing actors do? URIE: Nerds like me, yeah. Coming in, I knew the text. I had played Hamlet’s friend Horatio at South Coast Repertory in California. And I did Hamlet’s “To be, CONTINUES ON PAGE 36


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By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com Learning to sew under direction from their grandmother as a child was not pleasant for Molly Stratton. “It was deeply frustrating and I often thought my grandmother had wasted her time teaching me an outdated skill,” the 32-year-old Morgantown, W.Va., native says. But now Stratton feels like being able to sew is like “discovering I have a superpower.” “The truth is that even with ‘fast fashion,’ clothing still has to be mended and altered the same way it was decades ago. I’m just using these skills in a different way than my grandmother ever imagined.” Stratton says they’ve (preferred pronoun) struggled with clothes their whole life. Stuff styled the way they liked was never in the right size or out of reach financially. Last year they did more socializing on the queer party scene and found out whenever they mentioned their sewing hobby, people were always asking Stratton to make a binder or alter a men’s suit so that it would fit properly in the bust/chest. So they started the new group Sew Queer D.C., a monthly sewing class in which they’ll pass on their skills. Beginners are welcome. “My Gender is Pockets” is a hands-on class where Stratton will teach students how to add pockets to garments. Bring a dress, skirt, shirt, apron or any other clothing item and they’ll show them how to add a simple patch pocket or hidden pocket. Fabric and thread will be provided and two sewing machines are available. It’s $25 per person and meets Saturday, March 3 at 2 p.m. in Mt. Pleasant at St. Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church (1525 Newton St., N.W.). Look for the group on Facebook to register. Stratton will teach other skills in future classes. Classes will be offered monthly. “I want it to be a non-judgmental place where people who have nonnormative bodies and genders outside the LGBT acronym can hang out, trade tips and feel safe creating and altering the clothes they want,” Stratton says. Stratton, who identifies as agender and bi, came to Washington in 2010 for their first job. They’re single and lives in Petworth. They enjoys dancing, video games, talking urban fantasy with their best friend and baths with “stupidly expensive bath bombs” in their free time.


MOLLY STRATTON How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? Being “out” is such a continuous process, isn’t it? I feel like I’m in a good place as far as my workplace and friends go, but I’m still constantly having to explain to people what “agender” means, so I don’t know if I will ever be done coming out. Who’s your LGBT hero? Mx. Justin Bond. I didn’t realize choosing your own pronoun and a nongendered honorific was even an option until Mx. Bond did it. What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? So there isn’t really a queer “club” in D.C. (though there are plenty of ones for gay men), so my favorite place isn’t a club but wherever the queer girl party collectives set up shop. Describe your dream wedding. I am tossed overboard as an offering to the Sea God during a hurricane. The Sea “God” turns out to be a gorgeous merperson who is so taken with my green hair that they make me their consort and we jointly rule their undersea kingdom. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? I just really wish America would get their shit together on infrastructure. I want more buses and a bullet train and a metro that works. What historical outcome would you change? If I could just get in a time machine and reverse the Flint water crisis, that would be good.

A video of 3-D printed cat armor. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “I’m Not Straight Enough for This Shit” If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Sign up Mike Pence for the first procedure. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? Nothing at the moment, but I read tarot sometimes. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? For the love of fuck, include people of color! Include trans people! Include trans people of color! You can do better. What would you walk across hot coals for? An explicit queer romance in a blockbuster movie. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? You can’t be androgynous if you have breasts. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Thor: Ragnarok.” (Just kidding — there aren’t any explicit LGBT characters in that movie. I don’t think my favorite LGBT movie exists yet.) What’s the most overrated social custom? Eye contact. What trophy or prize do you most covet? The Infinity Stones.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? What do you wish you’d known at 18? Seeing what “Black Panther” means There are jobs without dress codes and to people leading up to the you won’t be trapped in a conservative movie has been amazing. haircut and a corporate skirt forever. On what do you insist? Why Washington? Be nice to servers. I feel like the queer community here is Washington’s best-kept secret and now What was your last that I’ve found it, I never want to leave. Facebook post or Tweet?



FE B R U A R Y 23, 2018 • 25

Rethinking inadequacy? Previous writer inspires spirited debate on gay marketability

I’m not saying being a gym bunny is the answer to happiness in gay life, but being in shape, looking the best you can, eating right and all that pays off with huge psychological rewards. Just my two cents. MICHAEL REPLIES:

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: A guy who thinks he’s not attractive enough to get dates wrote you last fall complaining that gay men are “all about looks.” You suggested that he consider volunteering, in order to meet guys less into looks and more into personality. I don’t think your advice is going to change this guy’s plight. He needs an attitude adjustment. True, some folks among us are genetically blessed with good genes, can eat whatever they want without gaining an ounce and look great without having to go to the gym. But most guys with great bodies, great jobs and hot boyfriends have had to work hard for them. You get the face God gave you but our bodies are ours to sculpt and it’s amazing what 15-20 pounds in either direction can do. When you look at hot porn actors or go-go dancers, those guys are not always super cute in the face; they’ve just whipped their bodies into optimum shape and are reaping the rewards. Or think about those makeovers you see in magazines. It’s amazing what the right skin regimen, great haircut, flattering glasses and a good wardrobe properly fitted can do for you. If you’re carrying around 25 extra pounds and wearing sweats all the time, you can be as kind and witty as can be — but you’re just not gonna get that far on the gay market. And let’s be real — many of us are trying to do the best we can to catch the fish. This is stuff nobody wants to acknowledge, but it’s reality. You have to get in the game and think competitively. Even the most gracious and erudite among us in Gayland still appreciate someone who’s fit and takes care of himself. It’s not a matter of personality being secondary; it’s just that you see the exterior before you seen the interior. So much of life is what you make of it.

In my office, many gay men complain about being rejected for not having the right sort of body, clothes, face and job. I agree that we should do our best to look presentable (unless we want a partner seeking otherwise). But the guy who wrote me complaining that he can’t get a date may well be doing that. He reports that his non-stunning appearance isn’t attracting any takers, at least where he is hanging out and looking for a partner. If I suggested a makeover, I would be buying into the rigid definitions of attractiveness that enslave many gay men. Somehow this guy has wound up in a crowd whose standards of attractiveness rule him out as he is. So yes, I think it’s a good idea for him to broaden his search beyond the people he’s currently being rejected by. There are gay men out there with broader standards interested in a great interior that may be covered by a modest exterior. As you note, we have the faces we have. Even if we go to the gym and dress well, many of us may not be able to push our exterior beyond a certain level. Most people do, in fact, have average bodies. For what reason should we be striving for standards to which almost no one actually conforms? Why should a “gym body” be the definition of attractive? Making matters more complex: inevitably all of us will confront the ravages of time as we age. Many of us will suffer illness that will take its toll on our looks. So we’ve got to be able to consider more than outward appearance in our criteria for who we’ll date, have sex with or settle down with. And we have to derive our self-worth from inside. I think the dateless guy who wrote me makes a great point in challenging all of us to reconsider our stringent standards of attractiveness. The gay male world can be really harsh about this. Judgment about appearance can be a sort of tyranny. Sometimes I think that our common experience of having been outcasts when we were young can lead us to want to feel like we are now “better than” by finding others to reject and put down, just as we were once rejected and put down. One way to do this is by looking down on others’ appearances. It may be an impossible goal, but in this world that can be so harsh, why not consider reaching toward a more generous view of others?


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CA LE N D A R are $40. For more information, visit facebook.com/salutetodivas.

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.

SUNDAY, FEB. 25 D.C. Fashion Week hosts the 28th International Couture Collections Show at the Sphinx at K (1315 K St., N.W.) today from 5-8 p.m. Fashion show starts at 5 p.m. General admission tickets are $75. VIP tickets are $150 and include front row seating, a swag bag and access to the VIP Lounge. For details, visit facebok. com/dcfashionweek. The Dirty Goose (913 U St., N.W.) hosts a Lazy Sunday Meetup today from 3-6 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to stop by for a drink and to meet new people. Nondrinkers welcome. For more information, visit facebook.com/thedirtygoosedc.

TODAY Wentworth Galleries presents Ric Ocasek: Abstract Reality, an exhibit featuring art from the Cars’ lead singer, at Westfield Montgomery Mall (7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, Md.) tonight from 7-9 p.m. and Saturday at Tysons Galleria (1807 U. International Dr., McLean, Va.). Ocasek will make appearances at both shows. Admission is free but RSVP is strongly suggested. For more details, visit wentworthgallery.com. God Save the Queen, a Queen tribute band, performs at the Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. The Argentinian band has been entertaining audiences since 1998. Vocalist Pablo Padin leads the group with his portrayal of Freddie Mercury. Tickets range from $27-62. For more information, visit warnertheatredc.com. 18th & U Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., N.W.) hosts BreakfastClub, an ‘80s dance party, tonight from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. ‘80s tunes will play all night. Guests are encouraged to wear ‘80s gear. For more details, visit facebook.com/breakfastclubduplez. Otter Den hosts Otter Lounge Happy Hour at Living Room D.C. (1008 Vermont Ave., N.W.) this evening from 6-10 p.m. Drink specials will include $5 beer and $6 Smirnoff drinks. DJ StrikeStone will spin tracks. No cover. For more information, visit facebook.com/otterdendc. Trance DJ Paul Oakenfold performs at Soundcheck (1420 K St., N.W.) tonight at 10 p.m. No dress code. Tickets are $20. For more details, visit facebook.com/ soundcheckdc. Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) hosts Dark & Stormy tonight from 9:30 p.m.2 a.m. DJ Kangal and DJ Mindjacket will spin a mix of electronic, synthwave, retro, goth, industrial, EBM and dark disco. Cover is $5. For more information, visit blackcatdc.com. Community of Hope D.C. hosts its annual Ladies Night In: Disco Style at Conway Health and Resource Center (4 Atlantic St., S.W.) today from 5:308 p.m. There will be pampering spa services, treats, health resources and mammograms. Local vendors will be selling makeovers, massages, facials, henna painting, jewelry and more. There will also be a DJ playing music all evening. Admission is free. For more details, visit facebook.com/communityofhopedc. Gamma D.C., a support group for men in mixed-orientation relationships, meets at Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave., N.W.) today from 7:309:30 p.m. The group is for men who are attracted to men but are currently, or were at one point, in relationships with

MONDAY, FEB. 26 The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org. 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.


An altered photo of ANDY WARHOL is part of the Ric Ocasek exhibit at Wentworth Galleries.

women. For more information about the group and location, visit gammaindc.org.

SATURDAY, FEB. 24 Chorus presents Extra, its newest party, at Cobalt (1639 17th St., N.W.) tonight from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Guests are encouraged to dress as “extra” as they want. DJ Sean Morris will play music for the night. For more information, visit cobaltdc.com. Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts CTRL, an Olympics closing party, tonight from 11 p.m.-3:30 a.m. DJ Jeff Prior, DJ Adam Koussari-Amin and DJ Devon Trotter will play disco, house, hip-hop and more. There will also be a photo booth. For more details, visit facebook.com/ctrldc. Pamala Stanley performs at the Tabard Inn (1739 N St., N.W.) tonight from 6-9 p.m. Individual tickets are $120 and include dinner, all beverages, show, tax and gratuity. Admission for two is $210. Guests can also purchase “Dinner, Show and Hotel Stay” which includes dinner, the performance and a guest room for two. For more information, visit facebook.

com/thetabardinn. D.C. Rollergirls host their season opener doubleheader game at D.C. Armory (2001 East Capitol St., S.E.) today at 4:30 p.m. D.C. AllStars will face off against the Charlottesville Derby Dames in the first game. The second game will be Roller Girls’ National Maulers versus the Charlottesvilles B-level team. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. For more details, visit dcrollergirls.com. Washington Scandals Rugby Football Club hosts Rugby 101 at Shaw Athletic Field (1615 11th St., N.W.) today from 2-3:30 p.m. An after party will follow at Uproar Restaurant & Lounge (639 Florida Ave., N.W.) from 3:30-6 p.m. Attendees can learn the basics of rugby and meet team members. For more information, visit facebook.com/scandalsrfc. Shi-Queeta-Lee’s Drag Brunch is at Chateau Remix (3439 Benning Rd., N.E.) today from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The drag performers will impersonate Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga, Tina Turner, Adele, Dolly Parton and more. There will be an all-you-can-eat buffet and the first mimosa or bloody Mary is free. Tickets

Republic (6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park, Md.) hosts Alegre Happy Hour, a LGBT happy hour, from 5-7 p.m. For more information, visit republictakoma.com.

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 28 The Lambda Bridge Club meets at 7:30 p.m. 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 703-407-6540. Prime Timers of D.C., a social group for gay and bi men, meets at Windows above Dupont Italian Kitchen tonight at 6:30 p.m. For details, call George at 301395-0544 or visit primetimersdc.org.

THURSDAY, MARCH 1 New Jersey Democrats Assembly Reed Gusciora and Assemblyman Timothy Eustace host LGBT Democrats Night Out in DC, a Walk to Washington after party, at Black Whiskey (1410 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Ticket sales benefit Eustace and range from $35-500. For more details, visit facebook. com/drtimeustace. The Asian and Pacific Islander Queer Community holds a support group at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.


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2 8 • F EB RUA RY 2 3, 2018


This Week in the Arts provided by CultureCapital.com DANCE

Hung Liu In Print Thru Jul 8. National Museum of Women in the Arts. nmwa.org.

Hung Liu trained as a painter in her native China and later California, where she lives and works today. To create her works on paper, she blends an array of printing and collage techniques, developing highly textured surfaces, veils of color and screens of drip marks that transform the figures in each composition.

Every Brilliant Thing Feb 28-Mar 25. Olney Theatre. olneytheatre.org.

Every Brilliant Thing elicits as much laughter as it does tears in creating its catalogue of gratitude with a unique theatrical style.

RIOULT Dance NY: From Purple to Pärt Feb 24. GMU Center for the Arts. cfa.gmu.edu.

The sensual, articulate, and exquisitely musical work of acclaimed modern choreographer and former Martha Graham principal dancer Pascal Rioult returns to the Center for the Arts with his company, RIOULT Dance NY, in a two-part dance program.

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess Feb 24. National Philharmonic at Strathmore. nationalphilharmonic.org.

Porgy and Bess features an array of spirituals, folk songs and such classics as “Summertime.” Since its premiere, with an all African-American cast of classically trained singers, the opera has become a potent symbol of race relations in America, and a work that forever changed the boundaries of opera. PHOTO COURTESY OF NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS

THEATRE Light Years. Thru Mar 4. Pride Night. Feb 23. Signature Theatre. sigtheatre.org. Becoming Dr. Ruth. Thru Mar 18. Theater J. theaterj.org. The Poe Show. Feb 24. Strathmore. strathmore.org. Shear Madness. Thru Jun 10. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Aubergine. Thru Mar 4. Olney Theatre. olneytheatre.org. The Wolves. Thru Feb 4. Studio Theatre. studiotheatre.org. Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice. Thru Mar 11. Quotidian Theatre

Company at The Writer’s Center. quotidiantheatre.org. Cabaret Rising One Nation. Underground. Thru Mar 4. Dupont Underground. dupontunderground.org. Familiar. Thru Mar 4. Woolly Mammoth. woollymammoth.net. La Foto (A Selfie Affair). Thru Feb 25. Thru Feb 25. GALA Hispanic Theatre. galatheatre.org. Jewish Playwriting Contest. Feb 25. JCCNV. jccnv.org. Laugh Index Theatre. Thru May 9. Improv Wars. Feb 26. Sketch Night. Feb 28. DC Arts Center. dcartscenter.org.

DIAVOLO: L.O.S.T. Feb 23-24. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Savion Glover’s All FuNKD’ Up The ConCert. Feb 23-24. National Theatre. thenationaldc.org. Dissonance Dance Theatre: Lenny B. Feb 24. Dissonance Dance. Atlas. ddtdc.org. Dance Exchange. Feb 24-25. Dance Place. danceplace.org. Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion: Dearest Home. Feb 23-Feb 24. The Clarice. theclarice.umd.edu. Cherish The Ladies. Feb 28-Mar 1. Wolf Trap. The Barns. wolftrap.org.

MUSIC Michael Glabicki & Dirk Miller. Feb 23. Marcus Johnson. Feb 24. AMP. ampbystrathmore.com. Il Lauro Verde. Feb 23-25. Folger Consort. Folger Theatre. folger.edu. PUBLIQuartet. Feb 24. Washington Performing Arts at Sixth & I. washingtonperformingarts.org. Uasuf Gueye. Feb 28. Oscar Peñas, jazz guitar. Mar 1. Strathmore. strathmore.org. NSO: Jankowski conducts Brahms’s First Symphony. Thru Feb 24. NSO: Runnicles conducts Mahler’s Tenth Symphony. Mar 1-3. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Marlow Rosado featuring Tito Puente Jr. Feb 23. BlackRock. blackrockcenter.org. Bastian and Bastiana. Feb 24. In Series. Atlas. inseries.org. Leon Bates-Michelle Cann Piano Duo. Feb 24. Dumbarton Concerts. Dumbarton United Methodist Church. Klezmer Brunch. Thru Jun 10. Washington Jewish Music Festival. EDCJCC. wjmf.org. Conversations for String Quartet with the Chiarina Chamber Players. Feb 24. Hill Center. hillcenterdc.org. Vienna Piano Trio. Feb 24. Quatuor Diotima. Mar 1. Library of Congress. loc.gov. Narek Hakhnazaryan, cello. Feb 25. National Gallery of Art. nga.gov. 1964: The Tribute. Thru Feb 23. Wolf Trap. The Barns. wolftrap.org. St. Lawrence String Quartet. Mar 1. The Clarice. theclarice.umd.edu.

MUSEUMS National Archives. Remembering Vietnam. Thru Jan 6. archivesfoundation.org. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Hard to Define: Artists’ Books

from the Collection. Thru Mar 23. nmwa.org. National Portrait Gallery. Celebrating Fifty Years. Thru Jan 6. Lincoln’s Contemporaries. Thru May 19. npg.si.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. Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I. Thru Jan 1. loc.gov. National Gallery of Art. Outliers and American Vanguard Art. Thru May 13. Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe. Thru May 13. nga.gov. National Geographic. Day to Night: In the Field With Stephen Wilkes. Thru Apr 22. Tomb of Christ. Thru Aug 15. nglive.org. Woodrow Wilson House. The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay. Thru Feb 28. woodrowwilsonhouse.org.

GALLERIES Strathmore. Infinite Glitter: Jordann Wine. Thru Mar 4. Poe & Puck: The 27th Annual Strathmore Juried Exhibition. Thru Mar 4. Jennifer Kahn Barlow. Thru Dec 1. strathmore.org. The Art League. The Student/Faculty Show. Thru Mar 4. theartleague.org. Waverly Street Gallery. Invitational Exhibit, 40+ Local Artists. Thru Mar 3. waverlystreetgallery.com. Zenith Gallery. Light Up Your HeART. Thru Mar 24. zenithgallery.com. DC Arts Center. Prints from Lily Press. Thru Mar 4. Another Dimension. Thru Apr 22. dcartscenter.org. District Architecture Center. Hoachlander Davis: Photographing Spaces. Thru Mar 23. aiadac.com. gallery neptune & brown. Michael Craig-Martin. Thru Mar 3. galleryneptunebrown.com. Glen Echo Park. Sarah O’Donoghue. Feb 24-Mar 24. Dorothy Fall. Feb 24Mar 25. glenechopark.org. Goethe. German Jazz. Thru Feb 23. Early UFA Film Posters: Projecting Women. Mar 1-Apr 30. goethe.de. Hill Center. Stitched: Stories told in Clay, Fiber, Textiles and Paints. Thru Feb 25. Capitol Hill Art League Juried Invitational 2018. Thru Feb 25. Charlie Visconage. Thru Feb 25. hillcenterdc.org.



FE B R U A R Y 23, 2018 • 29



GEORGE ATIYEH, left, and BILL KLITZ say the team dynamic in volleyball is especially satisfying.

League love Local gay volleyball team offers varying skill levels By KEVIN MAJOROS Registration is open for the next season of the D.C. Pride Volleyball League through March 23. The league is expanding this year to include a novice division to go along with their advanced and intermediate divisions. The League offers both league play and open play in addition to traveling to tournaments around the country as part of the North American Gay Volleyball Association. Members also host three tournaments of their own — Spring Fling, President’s Pride Cup and the Rehoboth Beach Open. The week in the continuing All Star series in the Washington Blade, we meet two gay players who have immersed themselves in the sport. After getting hurt playing football in junior high school in Bethlehem, Pa., George Atiyeh switched over to volleyball and immediately fell in love. He began playing year-round on both high school and club teams. While attending college at Lehigh University, he played club volleyball for four years. He came to Washington in 2016 to work for Deloitte as a tech consultant and after settling in, he began looking for volleyball options. Atiyeh started with the League’s open play and found a wide variety of skill levels. The organizers noticed his talent and asked if he was interested in their structured league play. “My experience with (the League) has been amazing and I couldn’t have asked for more,” Atiyeh says. “I didn’t expect to play at this level post-college.” Atiyeh, who plays as an outside hitter, was named the most valuable player of the league’s advanced division and has been attending tournaments including stops in Columbus, Atlanta, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Chicago. “My favorite thing about volleyball is the six players on the court forming a team

dynamic,” Atiyeh says. “You need all six players to be in sync for a good functioning dynamic. It’s very momentum driven.” The opportunity to play in the League has been so enjoyable for Atiyeh that he ran for the board and is now the representative for the advanced division. “If I am going to give my time back, why not give back to something I love,” Atiyeh says. “(The League) offers so many great things — playing at a competitive level, making great friends, inclusive space and giving back to nonprofits.” Bill Klitz grew up in an athletic family in Markesan, Wis., where he was a threesport athlete in football, basketball and track. His father was a former college athlete, his mother was a coach and his sister was also a three-sport athlete. When he wasn’t playing structured sports, he was playing pick-up sports. While attending University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, he was a varsity high jumper competing in both the winter and spring seasons. Even though it wasn’t allowed by his coach, he managed to sneak in some intramural volleyball. After college, he moved to Florida, came out and met someone. They moved to D.C. together in 2011 and Klitz works as a personal trainer, manages Corporate Fitness Works and is a program manager at Inter-American Development Bank. “When I first came to D.C., I was too busy with work to be in sports leagues,” Klitz says. “Once I got started it was nice to be competitive again. I missed it after college.” Klitz went into the LGBT sports community headfirst playing in the DC Gay Flag Football League, Stonewall Dodgeball, Stonewall Bocce and Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League. He was recruited to the volleyball league by League co-founder, Michael D’Zgoda, because of his 6’5” height. “My first volleyball season was an eye-opener because of all the technical aspects of the sport,” Klitz says. “It was fun learning together and growing together with my teammates.” ■ CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

March 3–17 | Opera House Music by Giuseppe Verdi Libretto by Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle TICKETS ON SALE NOW! KENNEDY-CENTER.ORG | (202) 467-4600 Tickets also available at the Box Office. Groups call (202) 416-8400. For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540.

Major support for WNO is provided by Jacqueline Badger Mars. David M. Rubenstein is the Presenting Underwriter of WNO. WNO acknowledges the longstanding generosity of Life Chairman Mrs. Eugene B. Casey. WNO's Presenting Sponsor

Generous support for WNO Italian Opera is provided by Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello. Don Carlo is a production of the Clarice Smith Opera Series. Additional support for Don Carlo is provided by The Dallas Morse Coors Foundation for the Performing Arts


3 0 • F EB RUA RY 2 3, 2018

O U T & A BO U T



Oscar’s big night out in D.C. Several Oscars viewing parties are being held in Washington. The Academy of United States Veterans hosts its Veterans of All Nations Oscar Viewing Party at SAX Restaurant & Lounge (734 11th St., N.W.) on Sunday, March 4 from 6:30-11 p.m. The old Hollywood-themed party will include a red carpet and photographs. There will be drinks and a three-course meal. A dance party will follow the awards ceremony. The red carpet kicks off at 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner and the ceremony viewing at 8 p.m. Tickets are $150 for non-members and $100 for annual members. For more details, visit veteransofallnations.com. Mer Events hosts an Oscars Watch Party at Bravo Bravo (1001 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) on Sunday, March 4 from 6-11 p.m. The award show will be projected on 14 TVs, including three big screen TVs and a projector screen. Drink and food specials run from 6-8 p.m. The dress code is chic elegant. Bottle service is available. General admission is free with RSVP or $10 at the door. VIP admission is $35 and includes an all-you-can-eat buffet and all-you-can-drink champagne. For more details, visit merevents.com. International Club of D.C. hosts its Oscars Viewing Party: An Evening of Socializing, Music and Movie Magic at Saint Yves (1220 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) on Sunday, March 4 from 7-11:30 p.m. At 7 p.m. guests are invited to a pre-ceremony dance party. At 8:30 p.m. the award ceremony will be shown on large projector screens. Dress code is cocktail attire. Tickets are $32. For more information, visit facebook.com/internationalclubofdc.


Durufle ‘Requiem’ gets new arrangement The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents the world premiere of the arrangement of Maurice Durufle’s famous “Requiem” at the Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St., N.W.) on Saturday, March 3. The piece has been adapted for a tenor and bass chorus by Chorus Artistic Director Thea Kano. Breanna Sinclairé, a Baltimore native and the first transgender woman to sing the National Anthem at a national sporting event, will be the special guest soloist. Tickets are $60. For more information, visit gmcw.org.



Underwear Glow Party is March 2 David Hamilton Events hosts Blackout Underwear Glow Party at Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) on Friday, March 2 from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. There will be a body paint section and drink specials. A clothes check will be provided. DJ MoMoney will spin tracks for the night. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit greenlanterndc.com. The Qrew hosts its monthly dance party at Songbyrd Music House & Record Cafe (2475 18th St., N.W.) on Friday, March 2 from 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. DJ KB will play music for the night. Cover is $5. For details, visit facebook.com/qrewdc.

Community Forklit (4671 Tanglewood Dr., Hyattsville, Md.) presents “Make Do and Mend,” a free drop-in sewing class, on Sunday, March 4 from noon-3 p.m. Jen Athanas of Jen-A-Fusion Fashion Accessories will be teaching how to mend clothes based on the Make Do and Mend pamphlets issued by the British Ministry of Information during World War II. Attendees can learn how to sew buttons, mend holes and other alterations. For more details, visit facebook.com/ communituforklift.



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‘Panther’ proves Black Movies Matter Blockbuster film embraces and celebrates black culture

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By JOHN PAUL KING Created in 1966 by Marvel founder Stan Lee and artist/author Jack Kirby, Black Panther was the first black superhero in mainstream comics. It took 50 years – and the rise of Marvel to the level of multimedia powerhouse – for him to make his big screen debut in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” Two years later, he has a movie of his own, and it’s a lot more than just another spin-off; it’s a watershed moment in the cultural narrative. It’s not that its story is anything unexpected; on the surface, the film largely adheres to familiar formula. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is heir to the throne of Wakanda, a fictional African nation that is secretly the world’s most technologically advanced society. Part of his role as ruler is to assume the mantle of Black Panther, a warrior-protector who defends the country with the help of superhuman powers bestowed through ancient tribal rituals. His transition to the throne is challenged by Erik Killmonger (Michael P. Jordan), who seeks to use peaceful Wakanda’s superior resources to dominate the rest of the world. It’s up to T’Challa and a handful of loyal supporters to defeat him and regain control over the country’s fate. This hero-versus-villain scenario – though executed with the cleverness, style and technical expertise that has become the well-established standard for these Marvel films – is typical fodder for blockbuster entertainment, which aims for thrills and not much more; but “Black Panther” has its eyes on a higher prize. Thanks to the screenplay by director Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, “Black Panther” is the vehicle for a wide-ranging array of cultural messaging. This is no safe, middle-of-the-road adventure; Coogler and Cole have made a barely concealed political allegory in which Wakanda becomes a stand-in for (among other things) America itself. Struggling between its self-preservationist isolationism and its role in the global community, it becomes a nation divided; its leadership, plagued by past failures and uncertain of future direction, is usurped by an outsider with an extreme ideology who seeks to subdue or silence any opposition to his agenda; and its citizens must choose between patriotic duty or resistance against the ominous course set by the new regime. Add to

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this the fact that the resistance is largely driven by smart, empowered females, and the parallels are hard to miss. More significant than the Trumpian overtones, yet profoundly complementary to them, are the ways in which “Black Panther” embraces and celebrates black culture. It’s reflected in every aspect of the film, from the colorful costume and scenic designs, which incorporate heritage and history into its imagination of an Afrocentric futurism, to the exploration of social themes that not only recur throughout but form the very basis of the story’s central conflict. T’Challa’s struggle is not just with an arch-villain; it’s a conflict between opposing ideas of social justice. Do we right the wrongs of the past with education and leadership, or do the subjugated strike down their oppressors and change the world by force? This is, of course, a superhero fantasy, so it’s no spoiler to say that the movie doesn’t end with an all-out race war; still, it’s significant to note that “Black Panther” does not oversimplify these questions, and that it takes pains to present all sides of the discussion in a sympathetic light. That all of this comes through so clearly is a testament to the talents of the movie’s creators and cast. Director Coogler navigates his way through the dense trappings of the sci-fi setting without ever losing track of the story’s heart and soul – or its big ideas. Boseman brings the charisma and fire he displayed in Black Panther’s “Civil War” debut, and he deepens the character with a vulnerability that makes him a hero even more to be admired. Jordan’s turn as Killmonger gives us a complex, human antagonist who earns our empathy, instead of the kind of caricatured “bad guy” that would turn the movie into a one-sided parade of tropes. ■ CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Portals of the past Region rich with easy-tomiss spots significant to black history By MARIAH COOPER mcooper@washblade.com Black History Month is a time to reflect on the past but recognizing important landmarks for African Americans during slavery can be difficult. Like most AfricanAmerican history, oral history has been the core to keeping the memory of the Underground Railroad alive. While walking around town or taking a drive, there are plenty of stops that are rich with history that go unnoticed. Even though there are many landmarks of the Underground Railroad that will never be known, because their stories have died out along with the generations that once passed along their importance, there are still a few landmarks that have retained their significance. Here are some places in D.C., Delaware, Maryland and Virginia that were integral in African-American history and the Underground Railroad that you didn’t know about or just never had the time to stop and explore. D.C. Mount Zion Cemetery (2501 Mill Rd., N.W.), named for the Mount Zion United Methodist Church, is comprised of the old Methodist Burying Ground and the Female Union Band Society Graveyard, founded in 1842 by a group of free black women. The two cemeteries share three acres of land and have combined into one. An eight-foot-by-eight-foot brick structure on the side of a hill was originally intended to store corpses until their burials. It’s believed to also have been used as a hiding place by runaway slaves who may have fled through Rock Creek Park, along the Potomac River and continued on to the free state of Pennsylvania. Although hard to see to the untrained eye, people on the lookout can still visit the hiding spot. Mount Zion United Methodist Church (1334 29th St., N.W.), founded by black members of the Dumbarton Street M.E. Church in 1816, is the oldest AfricanAmerican church in D.C. Located in the heart of Georgetown, the church served the once abundant African-American community in the neighborhood. The building, constructed in 1876, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The Mount Zion United Methodist Community House, located behind the church, serves as a mini museum with church records, photographs and artifacts. Visitors can learn or relive the history of the now-


Mount Zion United Methodist Church is the oldest African-American church in Washington.

defunct African-American community in Georgetown. Frederick Douglas National Historic Site (1411 W St., S.E.) preserves the life and accomplishments of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglas. Guided tours are given daily for visitors to learn about how Douglas went from a runaway slave to an acclaimed member of society. Find out more online at nps.gov/frdo. DELAWARE The Corbit-Sharp House (118 Main St., Odessa, Del.) was built by William Corbit, a local tanner and a Quaker, in 1774. Corbit and his family would reportedly hide runaway slaves in their house on the third floor. Now owned and operated by the Historic Odessa Foundation, the house is open to the public on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. historicodessa.org. Wilmington Friends Meeting House (401 North West St., Wilmington, Del.) was frequently visited by Thomas Garrett known as the“Stationmaster of the Underground Railroad.” Garrett was an abolitionist who violated the Fugitive Slave Act for freeing slaves. Garrett had to pay a fine and sold most of his possessions to earn the money back. However, he was still able to help 2,700 runaway slaves find their way to freedom. He was also

a good friend of Underground Railroad Conductor Harriet Tubman. Garrett is buried in the nearby burial ground. MARYLAND Brodess Farm (Greenbrier Rd., Bucktown, Md.) was owned by Edward Brodess who was Tubman, her mother and her siblings’ slaveowner. Tubman grew up under his ownership but she and her family were often hired out to nearby farmers. The family’s constant separation was taxing for the family. Tubman said that while Brodess himself wasn’t cruel to her, neighboring slaveowners were brutal. The original home is no longer at the location and the existing home is privately owned. Two markers in the area honor Tubman’s legacy. Bucktown Village Store (4303 Bucktown Rd., Cambridge, Md.) is the location where Tubman made her first public resistance to the slave system. While attempting to help an enslaved man, Tubman received a blow to the head. The blow would cause Tubman to suffer from headaches and seizers for the rest of her life. The store is now a museum that offers tours open to the public. Admission is free. visitdorchester. org/bucktown-village-store. Mount Pleasant Cemetery (2246 Marsh Creek Rd., Preston, Md.), originally owned by Mount Pleasant Methodist

Episcopal Church, is thought to have been used as a meeting place for Tubman and fugitives of the Underground Railroad. Since slaves meeting in groups was against the law, Tubman preferred to meet in secret away from plantations and slaveowners. VIRGINIA Pocahontas Island Black History Museum (224 Witten St., Petersburg, Va.) is in an area of Petersburg that was a hotbed for runaway slaves attempting to flee. In an incident known as the Keziah Affair, five slaves escaped from Pocahontas Island onto a ship called the Keziah. The slaves were found hidden inside when the Keziah ran aground in the Appomattox River, the last point before liberation above the Mason-Dixon Line, in 1858. Visitors can learn the history of the area in the small museum. Hours vary. Appointments are encouraged. pocahontasislandmuseum.com. A residence at 215 Witten Street in Petersburg, Va., dubbed the Underground Railroad House, is suspected to have been a hiding place for runaway slaves. Although there is little proof of the specifics, the home has a sixfoot-deep crawl space in the floor which was unusual for neighboring homes but would have made it a good candidate to hide fugitive slaves.


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Out director finds hope in teen dramedy ‘Every Day’


Director MICHAEL SUCSY at the opening of his new movie ‘Every Day.’

Shape-shifting lead character wakes up each morning in a new body By BRIAN T. CARNEY Filmmakers often have trouble giving the elevator pitch for their movie. Michael Sucsy, the openly gay director of the new release “Every Day,” doesn’t. “It’s a thought-provoking and sophisticated romance about starcrossed lovers that happens to be set in a teenage world,” Sucsy says. “A girl named Rhiannon falls in love with a soul that changes bodies every day.” The director has some advice for enjoying the movie. “You don’t need to be a teenager to enjoy it. The characters in the movie have complex feelings about love and their identities and where they fit into the world. We’re all dealing with that in our lives, but those issues really come to an acute focus when you’re a teenager.” He also has some timely guidance for talking about Rhiannon’s eventual love interest, a character referred to as A, who literally wakes up in a different body every day; the bodies are all roughly the same age and in the same geographic area, but include people of different races, classes, genders, sexual orientations and gender identities. A has no control over the process, but tries to learn from all of A’s encounters. “I don’t use any pronouns for A,” Sucsy says. “I just say, ‘A went to A’s house.’ Or ‘A thinks that …’ It does get a little cumbersome.”

One of the directorial challenges Sucsy faced, especially since A is played by several different actors, was creating a consistent character throughout the movie. In addition to his intuitive casting, part of Sucsy’s solution was more practical. Since there wasn’t enough time or money to have the actors meet each other before the shoot, he wrote them all a letter. “I asked them to do two things,” he says. “One was to look at their hands when they woke up in the morning. I think that tells you a lot about yourself. The second was to look in a mirror or take a selfie and that would tell you even more bout the body you’re in.” This ritual ended up becoming an important part of the movie. “Every Day” is based on the popular young adult novel by David Levithan, adapted for the screen by children’s author Jesse Andrews. Sucsy credits Andrews with turning the book into an effective screenplay. “The book is told from A’s point of view,” Sucsy says. “Jesse made the decision to tell the movie from Rhiannon’s point of view, which I think was a really smart choice. Having one actress to follow rally guides you through the story.” The director also asked his screenwriter to make some changes that more clearly put Rhiannon in control of the story. For example, in the movie, it’s Rhiannon who decides to play hooky so that she and A can spend the day at the beach. In addition to other scenes that break down social norms, Sucsy says, “that changes the story in ways that may be

especially important for LGBT audiences, celebrating the experience of being seen

for who you are and not being defined by the relationships you’re in.”

‘Every Day’ makes adept use of clever plot device Thoughtful, heartwarming tale has message of love, empathy The premise of “Every Day,” opening today in wide release, may sound a little complicated, but it’s all clearly explained in Jesse Andrew’s well-crafted screenplay, which adroitly uses comedy, drama and romance to tell an unusual and intriguing story of the relationship between Rhiannon, a Baltimore-based high school student, and A, an entity who wakes up every morning in a different body. This brings obvious challenges to the budding romance. Newcomer Angourie Rice gives an assured performance as Rhiannon, creating a well-rounded teenage character who is in turn bright, sensitive, callous, resourceful and deeply caring. Veteran actress Maria Bello turns in a strong performance as Rhiannon’s mother; throughout the movie, the parents are presented with sympathy, a nice touch in a movie that focuses on the teenage characters. The fantastic ensemble cast tackle the complex material with considerable flair. They create vivid characters, but somehow also make it very clear when A is temporarily inhabiting their body. Sucsy, who is openly gay, directs with a wonderfully light touch. He moves the film forward with admirable efficiency and generous empathy. He is given robust support by cinematographer Rogier Stoffers and composer Elliott Wheeler. “Every Day” is a thoughtful and heartwarming tale about love, empathy, caring, ingenuity and resilience. It celebrates the things that are too often used to demean and divide us (sex, gender, class, race, sexuality and gender identity) and rejoices in the common humanity that can bring us together. It’s a remarkable achievement and a perfect movie for these perilous times. BRIAN T. CARNEY



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Patrons enjoyed President’s Day specials at Nellie’s Sports Bar and Grill over the weekend.


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Urie says ‘Ugly Betty’ ending was tough CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23

That never happens. Yet after our ratings dipped, the show was cancelled. We had more stories to tell and our numbers weren’t bad.

or not to be” soliloquy in Michael Kahn’s class at Juilliard. Jessica Chastain (thenfellow acting student and now movie star) was my Ophelia.

BLADE: Was that difficult? URIE: Yes, but not as hard as when “Ugly Betty” ended. We were a family for four years. Actors rarely have jobs that last that long.

BLADE: Are you into the politics of the play? URIE: How could you not be? The politics of Shakespeare are as universal and timeless as the way he discusses sanity, love and all the other timeless things you find in his works. The whisper campaign sensibility of our production feels very at home here in Washington. And a lot of the TK. Referring to the death of his father and his uncle’s shady ascension to the throne, Hamlet says, “But two months dead — nay, not so much, not two. So excellent a king, that was to this Hyperion to a satyr.” Similarly, in real life, we’ve gone from the best possible example of what an American can be to the worst of all likelihoods. I have a great sense of pride that there’s a production of “Hamlet” happening in the nation’s capital the week that the Obamas’ portraits are unveiled and the week that the FBI says the White House is lying. And here I am doing a play about spying and lying. BLADE: How are D.C. audiences? URIE: When New York audiences embrace you, it’s very exciting. There’s nothing like it. On the other hand, many of them are career theatergoers, and along with their love of theater is a need to qualify what they’re seeing. They’re inherently all critics. Washington audiences are smart. And with the exception of the critics, I find that audiences are coming to enjoy themselves. They’re not seeing shows four times a week like some New York theatergoers. They’re going once or twice a month. They’re coming to find what they like and not what they don’t like about a show. When I was at the Shakespeare Theatre doing “Buyer & Cellar” a few years ago, my costumer told me a story about three fratty young slightly drunk young guys on the Metro looking at my poster. One of them said, “Look at this! Look at this! See this guy.” And my costumer leaned in to hear what he’d say. “This guy plays a bunch of parts all by himself and he’s awesome. We gotta go.” Their counterparts in New York wouldn’t have even noticed the poster. BLADE: “Hamlet’s” cast includes your partner of nine years Ryan Spahn, who also studied under Kahn. As Hamlet’s former school pal Rosencrantz, Ryan moves admirably from comic to sinister. URIE: He is good, isn’t he? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are such complicated characters. Lots of people feel like Hamlet isn’t justified in the sending his old schoolmates to their deaths. In this

BLADE: Hamlet changes a lot over the play. You make those changes feel real. URIE: Thanks. It’s true that he can go from horribly depressed to giddy. He’s wildly emotional, wickedly smart and follows his impulses. Hamlet is probably bipolar. He’s always smart but by the end of the play, he has evolved. He has come to terms with mortality and his place in the world. He finds humility and grace. BLADE: And do you relate to that? URIE: In the last two years I’ve noticed a change in myself. Not too long ago I was at a rehearsal where I was the oldest person in the room. People looked at me to set the tone. It was different but I liked it. You don’t feel like you have to prove something or try to be liked. My three most recent works — “General Inspector,” Harvey Fierstein’s “Torch Song” and now “Hamlet” — have all been very formative. “General Inspector” was a silly comedy with a big cast. I was the lead but it was collaborative in the sense that I’ll help you get your laughs if you help me get mine. “Torch Song” is a great American story, a beautiful revival that means so much to people. “Hamlet” is a combination of both of those things. I really think everything leading up till today has informed what I’m doing now. BLADE: Hamlet can seem so ineffective at times, but that’s not you. URIE: I certainly have never been one to let grass grow under my feet. But that’s the nature of being an actor. You have to keep moving and looking for work all the time.

MICHAEL URIE says the sleek, modern ‘Hamlet’ he’s currently in has pertinence to present-day Washington. PHOTO BY SCOTT SUCHMAN; COURTESY STC

production they’re all in with the king and they stand by and watch Hamlet beaten by the guards. BLADE: A former sitcom star once told me that nothing compares to TV fame. It’s explosive. People who never see a movie or go to the theater watch TV. Was that

your experience, and would you do TV again? URIE: Yes and yes. After “Ugly Betty” was cancelled I did 13 episodes of “Partners,” a CBS sitcom about gay friends from the guys who made “Will & Grace.” Out of the gate we were a hit. After just three months we won a Golden Globe.

BLADE: Would you play Hamlet again? URIE: I never say never. But for a Juilliard-trained actor who embraced the training and sought a career in theater, this production has been the way to do it. I’m so intensely satisfied with our cast and the way Michael Kahn has led me through the role. And the audience’s response has been amazing. ‘HAMLET’ Through March 4 Shakespeare Theatre Company Sidney Harman Hall 610 F Street, NW $44-125 202-547-1122 Shakespearetheatre.org


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Exquisitely moving dance

A musical & cinematic voyage



From Purple to Pärt

David Krakauer and The 35mm Orchestra






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


Grand Russian ballet

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Lambro leads in low-price business-class computers Lesbian-owned enterprise is local source for refurbished PCs, equipment By MARK LEE If you or your small business, local company, service enterprise or community organization are seeking top-notch business-class desktop or laptop computers, peripherals or other electronic equipment, Lambro Inc. owner Lisa Ambrusko has got the deal for you. A diverse multiplicity of local ventures, small and large companies, and individual end-users benefit from Ambrusko’s longstanding “PC Retro Computer Warehouse” store located in Alexandria, Va., providing affordable access to businessgrade tools. The lesbian entrepreneur’s firm offers refurbished recent iterations of top-of-the-line computing hardware and other equipment at very economical prices. “Cheap PCs and laptops off-the-shelf are not really a good bargain by comparison,” says Ambrusko, adding that her team is “able to link local and budgetconscious community and business entities to tech products of a quality often beyond their financial reach and at lower cost than less-powerful new equipment.” Operations manager and technology coordinator Marcia Riemenschneider amplifies this opportunity by noting, “if you allow us to direct you to a brand and a product, especially if you need multiple matched units, you’re really going to score.” Ambrusko is no stranger to the retail evolution in computers, peripherals and electronics equipment. A native of the metropolitan area who attended Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in suburban Maryland and earned a local business school degree, Ambrusko first began working for local computer sales and software re-sellers in 1997. She has helped trail-blaze the local market for refurbished computers and technology equipment. For small businesses, government contractors, nonprofits, and community entities such as schools and health clinics, as well as a wide range of other local enterprises and also including individual retail customers, Lambro connects users with high-end legacy “technology you can trust.” Lambro acquires desktop and laptop computers, servers, printers, monitors, networking gear, audio apparatus, projection equipment, television displays and other hardware from a wide range of sources. Large corporate firms, government agencies and contractors, local businesses, and others provide the

Lambro Inc. owner LISA AMBRUSKO (center), with operations manager MARCIA RIEMENSCHNEIDER (left) and assistant manager ANTHONY CLARK (right).


inventory for refurbishment and resale. Equipment offloading results from business closings, equipment uniformity implementation, technology upgrades and hardware standardization requirements associated with government contracting or corporate expansion integration. As part of a larger in-house affiliated network of equipment acquisition, Ambrusko’s company has access to an astounding volume and extensive range of high-quality computer equipment and related office gadgetry. Procurement occurs as entities close up shop or migrate to new systems and need to comply with data destruction protocols and computer hardware recycling. Word-of-mouth referral among both business customers and home-based users has been a critical component of the firm’s longtime success. “Operating

my own local community small business gives me the opportunity to better get to know my clients and their needs,” explains Ambrusko. “As a woman, it is important that my retail location also be a place where women of all ages can come and not be intimidated by technology,” emphasizes Ambrusko. “When I first started reselling computers, I rarely saw women but today that is very different. We are seeing great diversity among our customers as well as the businesses we provide services. We now serve women with all levels of interest, from those simply using computers to those with technical skill levels capable of designing them.” “In today’s market, it’s hard providing a great product and skilled services while remaining a brick and mortar store,” Ambrusko laments. “Online shopping wants

to take over the world, but I hope it won’t be at the expense of our amazing local communities and small businesses. We strive every day to be a unique and valuable resource to come visit and shop!” Lambro Inc. and the firm’s PC Retro Computer Warehouse retail store are located in Alexandria, Va., at 4926-D Eisenhower Ave., four blocks east of the Van Dorn St. Metro. The store is open Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information is available by calling the store at 703-370-5440, or visiting the company website at LambroInc.com.

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

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Buying a home before you planned Be prepared so you can act fast By SUE GOODHART & ALLISON GOODHART DuSHUTTLE We’ve had several clients recently buy homes long before they thought they would. These clients came in for meetings and told us that they wouldn’t be buying for at least a year. Four months later, they’re in a new home! We’re seeing this happen time and again so we thought we’d take a moment to examine this trend of buying a home before you planned on doing so. Buying a Home Before You Planned: Why Does This Happen? Once buyers start thinking about a move and talking to a Realtor, the house hunting process tends to speed up. Buyers begin to envision themselves in their new neighborhood or city and in their new space. They get excited about the thought of more (or less) space or perhaps a more urban lifestyle. Once they start touring homes, they begin to realize just how much they want (and/or need) to be in a new home. Why is it happening so much now? Historically, we see the spring market really

kick off President’s Day weekend. This year, it was Martin Luther King weekend. Why? We think the reason is twofold. First is economics 101. Major economic indicators continue to be strong. Additionally, the Fed is likely to raise interest rates in the coming months. People thinking of making a move have accelerated their plans to do so. Another key factor is very low housing inventory in the D.C. market. House hunters are jumping on properties that fit the bill, knowing that competition is only going to intensify in the months ahead. Client Case Studies We had two sets of recent clients buying a home before they had planned for the first time. During those initial meetings, both couples said they planned to wait a year or so before buying. However, once they got the ball rolling by talking to a lender, setting up searches to start looking at options, etc., their excitement (and seriousness) intensified. Both couples began actively touring neighborhoods and properties and were in new homes within three months of our initial meetings. Another couple, parents of past clients of ours, were relocating to our area from out of state to be closer to family. Before doing so, they planned to sell their out-ofstate home and make the move to the D.C.

Buyers sometimes find the perfect home long before they expected. PHOTO BY BIGSTOCK; COURTESY OF ANDY DEAN PHOTOGRAPHY

area in a year. While they were in town for the holidays, they came into the office for a meeting and initial strategy session. Sue took them on a neighborhood orientation tour so they could scope out the various neighborhoods in their price range near their grandkids. On that tour, they fell in love with a home that suited their needs perfectly. The ended up going for it – and getting it. As a result, they bought before they sold, which was not their initial plan. However, they ended up with the perfect home and are now able to spend lots of

additional time with their grandchildren. The Bottom Line Whatever your target time frame is for a move, preparing early is the key. First, talk with a Realtor (and lender) early in the process. We can’t stress this enough if considering buying a home before you planned on doing so. It will position you to move quickly when you do find the right property. By looking closely at searches and listings your agent sends, you’ll begin to narrow in on what area and home styles you like the best. Perhaps most importantly, signing on with an agent early will provide you access to properties long before they hit the market! We’ve helped several clients buy (and sell) homes before they ever went live. Working with an agent is particularly important in a tight and competitive housing market like our current one. If you are thinking of a move, please reach out today. We’d love to get the conversation started and help you find your next home. THE GOODHART GROUP is McEnearney Associates’ top-producing team. In 2017, they helped 140 clients achieve their real estate goals, totaling $110,000,000 in sales. Led by Sue and Allison Goodhart, they have been named a Top Agent by both Washingtonian and Northern Virginia magazines. The Goodhart Group can be reached at 703-362-3221 or sue@thegoodhartgroup.com.


It’s Complicated: A would-be home seller is confronted with the twists and turns of the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). To be used at the top of collateral:

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

To be used at the bottom of collateral:

~ 202.319.8541 • www.lgbtc.com • Se habla espanol

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EMPLOYMENT WHOLISTIC SERVICES, INC. seeking Full Time Direct Support Professionals to assist intellectually disabled adults with behavioral health complexities in group homes & day services throughout DC. Requirements 1 year exp., valid drivers license, able to lift 50-75 lbs, complete training program, become DDS Med Certified within 4 months of hire, ability to pass security background check. Associates degree preferred. For more information, please contact the Human Resources (HR) Department at 202-832-8787.

GIANT BOOK & BAKE SALE Feb. 23-25 featuring 1000s of titles, National United Methodist Church near American University, 3401 Nebraska Ave. Friday, 9am-4pm, Saturday, 8am-4pm, Sunday, 9-11am, free parking. metroumw@ gmail.com.

LOCKER ROOM ATTENDANTS NEEDED! The Crew Club, a gay men’s naturist gym & sauna, is now hiring Locker Room Attendants. We all scrub toilets & do heavy cleaning. You must be physically able to handle the work & have a great attitude doing it. No drunks/druggies need apply. Please call David at (202) 319-1333. from 9-5pm, to schedule an interview.



COUNSELING FOR GAY MEN. Individual/ couple counseling w/ volunteer peer counselor. Gay Men’s Counseling Community since 1973. 202-580-8861. gaymenscounseling. org. No fees, donation requested.

ADOPTION & ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE Law Attorney Jennifer Fairfax represents clients in DC, MD & VA. interested in adoption or ART matters. 301221-9651, JFairfax@ jenniferfairfax.com.

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FULL SERVICE LAW FIRM Representing the GLBT community for over 35 years. Family adoptions, estate planning, immigration, employment. (301) 891-2200. Silber, Perlman, Sigman & Tilev, P.A. www. SP-Law.com.

FERNANDO’S CLEANING: Residential & Commercial Cleaning, Reasonable Rates, Free Estimates, Routine, 1-Time, Move-In/ Move-Out. (202) 234-7050, 202-486-6183. TELL ‘EM YOU SAW THEIR AD IN THE Blade classifieds!




AROUND TOWN MOVERS. Professional Moving & Storage. Let Our Movers Do The Heavy Lifting. Mention the ‘Blade’ for 5% off of our regular rates. Call today 202.734.3080. www. aroundtownmovers.com

Gay & Veteran Owner/Operator. 2016 Luxury BMW 750Li Sedan. Properly Licensed & Livery Insured in DC. www.KasperLivery.com. Phone 202554-2471.

PHOTOGRAPHY STEVE O’TOOLE PHOTOGRAPHY Fine Art Photographer for Portraits & Weddings and more! Check out my website - www. steveotoolephotography. com. Specializing in Bears & Big men. Steve 703-861-4422.

GREAT SCOTT MOVING INC. Local & Long Distance, Pianos! A Great Move at a Great Price call (301) 699-2066. Highly` rated by Consumer Check Book, Better Business Bureau, Yelp & Angie’s List. We’ve moved the Blade, let us move you!


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DAVE LLOYD & ASSOCIATES Top 1% Nationwide NVAR Life Member Top Producder




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4 2 • F E B RUA RY 2 3, 2018

ENHANCE YOUR AD WITH OUR UPGRADES PICTURES BOLD TEXT LARGE TEXT COLOR AND MORE CONTACT US AT 202-747-2077 U CALL WE HAUL ! ! ! ! RESIDENTIAL – COMMERCIAL We Specialize in *Light & Heavy Hauling *Construction Materials *Trash Removal REASONABLE RATES ***A Black-Owned Business*** Serving DC-MD-VA (202) 516-0638 (202) 704-1546


Insect, Rodent, & Critter Control. Effective Experience Detecting & Eliminating All Types of Household Pests including Ants, Bed Bugs, Termites & Rodents. Schedule your Pest Inspection Today (202) 455-9924. DC, MD, VA, DE.


Cambridge MD is a new up & coming Gay Friendly Eastern Shore Historic community. This is a perfect place for your hospitality needs. Just blocks from the Marina & walking distance to downtown Cambridge. Whether you are just entertaining in this grand home or making a profit with Air BNB, you will love this unique property. 5 bedroom 3.5 baths, swimming pool, fishpond, MUST SEE!! Contact Donna MC Donald 410330-3009 Sharon Realty. Or visit SharonRE.com search 209 Glenburn Ave, Cambridge, MD 21613. $660,000.



$1,950/mth plus utils. 600 sq. ft., ground level with private patio just off 18th & Columbia NW. Available March 1. Contact sftomtom@aol.com.

DUPONT NORTH METRO 2 blks $1899/mth. 1BR condo, 1 bath, Imperial House, dishwasher, hardwood Floors, High Speed Internet, Elevator, Utilities included: Air Conditioned, Electricity, Heat, water. 1601 18th Street, NW. Gary 202-486-4566.




CAPITOL HILL 1BR near H St. Hardwood floors, Updated galley kitchen. W/D in unit. $1,539/mo ++ Call Joel @202-274-1882 or email jn1martin@aol.com.

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TOP RATED MASSEUR Custom bodywork! Exceptional deep tissue & sensual bodywork for total stress relief in private studio both on the Hill & at Farragut Square. Call Erik 202544-5688. In calls only! No texts! Intro Special $99.00. THE MAGIC TOUCH: SWEDISH, Massage or Deep Tissue. Appts 202486-6183, Low Rates, 24/7, In-Calls.

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F E BRU A RY 2 3 , 2 0 1 8 • 4 3


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