Washingtonblade.com, Volume 49, Issue 10, March 9, 2018

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‘A matter of life or death’ Protesters decry Trump judicial nominees as anti-LGBT, racist By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com Civil rights leaders, transgender parents and LGBT advocates — joined by Reps. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Donald McEachin (D-Va.) — rallied before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday in opposition to two Trump nominees, one with a history of anti-LGBT legal work, the other with a history of supporting black voter suppression. At times, participants at the rally cited

the motto inscribed on the Supreme Court building, “Equal Justice Under the Law,” as a moral foundation for America contrary to the views of the nominees. The targets of the ire of those in attendance at the rally were Kyle Duncan, whom President Trump nominated in October for a seat on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Thomas Farr, whom Trump nominated in July for a federal judgeship in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, said Duncan and Farr are part and parcel of the quality of nominations submitted by Trump, who have been hostile to civil rights and, in one case, unable to answer basic questions about CONTINUES ON PAGE 14

Rep. JOSEPH P. KENNEDY III (D-Mass.) speaks at a rally in front of the United States Supreme Court against Trump nominees. WASHINGTON BLADE FILE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

Oscar win ignites trans debate in Chile ‘A Fantastic Woman’ has everyone talking, including lawmakers By NICOLÁS LEVY

DANIELA VEGA starred in ‘A Fantastic Woman,’ which won an Oscar on Sunday. AMPAS SCREEN CAPTURE VIA ABC

SANTIAGO, Chile — The success of the Chilean film “A Fantastic Woman” has triggered an authentic revolution in its country of origin. Director Sebastián Lelio’s film marks Chile’s first Oscar in the best foreign language film category. It has also made visible the harsh reality of the local transgender community and the fight for its rights in a very conservative society. Chile’s main newspapers on Monday published on their front pages pictures of Lelio and Daniela Vega, the

28-year-old trans actress who starred in “A Fantastic Woman.” The focus of attention that had been on Vega throughout 2017 intensified after the movie was nominated and the news that she would become the first trans person to present at the Oscars. The impact was felt by the entire society. Chilean national television on March 2 broadcast “A Fantastic Woman.” Google Trends indicates Chilean users searched for “transgender” and “What does it mean to be transgender?” 24 hours before the broadcast, among other specific information related to the film or Vega’s life. “A Fantastic Woman” on Sunday was trending online during the Oscars. CONTINUES ON PAGE 16




D.C. unveils statue of former mayor, an early gay rights supporter.

We talk to the gay director of hotly anticipated film.

Hollywood edges toward inclusivity as LGBT actors, films win acclaim.

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Elkins takes leave of absence at CAMP Rehoboth Steve Elkins, co-founder and longtime executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, the LGBT community services organization in Rehoboth Beach, Del., announced on Feb. 26 that he is taking a medical leave of absence from the organization. A statement released by the CAMP Rehoboth Board of Directors says the board appointed the group’s president and co-founder, Murray Archibald, to serve as interim executive director during Elkins’ STEVE ELKINS (left) has taken a leave from absence. Archibald is Elkins’ husband. CAMP Rehoboth; his husband MURRAY The statement says the board named ARCHIBALD (right) will fill in. the group’s sitting vice president, Chris WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY Beagle, as the new board president to fill the vacancy created by Archibald’s appointment as interim director. It says board member Leslie Sinclair was elected as the new vice president. Elkins has announced in Facebook postings that he is undergoing treatment for cancer. “Steve has served as the Executive Director of CAMP Rehoboth and Murray has served as its Board President for over 25 years,” the board’s statement says. “The vision and leadership has allowed the organization to become one of the most respected nonprofit organizations in the State of Delaware and the mid-Atlantic region, and has contributed greatly to Rehoboth Beach’s reputation as being a community with ‘room for all,’” says the statement. “The CAMP Rehoboth Board of Directors and staff look forward to welcoming Steve back to his full time role,” it says. “We thank the entire community for its outpouring of love and support for Steve, Murray, and CAMP Rehoboth these past few months.” LOU CHIBBARO JR.

LGBT activists turn out for Barry statue unveiling LGBT activists were among the hundreds of District residents that turned out on Saturday, March 3, for a dedication ceremony for the unveiling of a statue of longtime African-American civil rights leader and former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. Current D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, City Council Chair Phil Mendelson, and every member of the 13-member Council participated in or attended the ceremony in which the eight-foot-tall bronze statue of Barry was viewed for the first time by the public in its location outside the John Wilson Building, which serves as D.C.’s city hall. Among the LGBT community members attending the ceremony were several members of Bowser’s staff, including activists John Fanning; Jim Slattery; Polly Donaldson, director of the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development; and Eric Shaw, director of the D.C. Office of Planning. Gay Democratic activist and Blade columnist Peter Rosenstein also attended the event. Barry has been hailed as one of the nation’s most LGBT supportive big city mayors in the 1980s and 1990s. His strong support for LGBT rights in the 1970s during his tenure as a D.C. school board member and later as an at-large D.C. Council member prompted large numbers of LGBT voters to support him in his first run for mayor in 1978. Barry won that race by a razor-thin margin, and the LGBT vote is believed to have been a key factor in helping him win. With that as a backdrop, Barry startled and angered many in the LGBT community in 2009, when as a member of the Council following his four terms as mayor; he opposed a same-sex marriage bill. The bill passed by a margin of 11 to 2, with just Barry and one other Council member voting against it. Just prior to the vote on the bill Barry appeared at a rally organized by an anti-gay minister to voice his opposition to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, a development that further alienated many LGBT activists. LGBT activists familiar with Barry’s record going back to the 1970s have expressed mixed views on whether Barry’s overall support of support for LGBT rights should overshadow his opposition to marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Former Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance President Rick Rosendall is among those who believe Barry’s opposition to marriage equality and the problems he encountered during his tenure as mayor, including an arrest for cocaine possession, should have disqualified him from having a statue installed at city hall in his honor. “More than three years after his death, Marion Barry deserves to be seen as he was, neither sainted nor demonized,” Rosendall said. “He was smart and politically gifted, and supported many LGBT causes and bills. But his undisciplined personal behavior


brought discredit to the District,” Rosendall said. Longtime lesbian activist Barbara Helmick, who attended the statue dedication ceremony, said she believes Barry’s overall record and accomplishments as a politician and civil rights leader clearly overshadow his shortcomings. “Marion Barry clearly was a champion for civil rights for all,” she said. “When you look at the arc of his life, he was there for everybody. His early embracing of the gay community in going to some of the very first Gay Pride Days was phenomenal,” Helmick said. “It was unheard of then.” Added Helmick: “So yeah, later in life he made an error in judgment on the marriage call that had no impact in the end. If you look at the whole of his life, he is a champion.” LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Street-naming bill honoring gay Democrat on ‘indefinite’ hold According to D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), a bill introduced last year calling for the ceremonial naming of a street on Capitol Hill for the late Richard Rausch, a prominent gay Democratic Party activist and advocate for LGBT rights, has been placed on “indefinite hold.” Mendelson, who chairs the Council’s Committee of the Whole, where the bill was sent, noted that the Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commission with jurisdiction over the 200 block of 2nd Street, S.E., where the ceremonial name would be installed, strongly opposes the bill. D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) has said he has a policy of deferring to ANCs in his ward on issues of street naming and has called on Mendelson not to move the bill out of committee for a full Council vote. Mendelson told the Blade last week that he, too, has a longstanding policy of deferring to Council members whose ward a street naming bill impacts and thus he will honor Allen’s request that the bill be placed on hold. Both Allen and Mendelson said they have asked members of ANC 6B to consider changing their position on the bill, but so far the ANC members have declined to reverse their position on the matter. In a letter to Mendelson in December, the ANC said its members voted 10-0 to oppose the Rausch street naming based mostly on procedural grounds. The letter says neither the Council nor the city agency in charge of street namings notified the ANC or residents of the street about the pending bill until six months after it was introduced and after a public hearing was held on the bill in September. City officials said the lack of notification was due to a typographical error in the initial version of the bill that identified the street as the 200 block of 2nd Street, S.W. rather than S.E. This resulted in residents and the ANC in the wrong location being notified about the bill. But supporters of the Rausch ceremonial street naming, including Earl Fowlkes, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest local LGBT political group, have said although ANC 6B wasn’t initially notified about the bill, its members were eventually notified and had sufficient time to weigh in on the proposal. Fowlkes said he is concerned that the ANC may have other motives for its opposition. He pointed to a comment by an ANC member at the meeting in which the vote opposing the bill was taken that Rausch may have been a client of a gay male escort service back in the 1980s. A brief discussion among ANC members about the escort service matter could be heard on an audio recording that the ANC makes of all of its meetings and which was obtained by the Washington Blade. At least two commissioners also were heard on the recording saying they didn’t think Rausch was a significant enough figure to merit a street naming after him. Fowlkes takes strong exception to that assertion, saying Rausch, who died in 2007 of natural causes at 71, worked on behalf of civil rights, including LGBT rights and women’s rights, for a period of more than 40 years. “Richard was an extraordinary man and also did a lot for the Democratic Party,” said Fowlkes, who also serves as executive director of the Center for Black Equity, a national LGBT organization. “He blazed a trail and many of us are following behind those trails. So I stand in gratitude for people like that who stood up for our rights.” Mendelson and Allen said they are ready to bring up the bill for a vote in the full Council, where it is expected to pass, if the ANC changes its mind or if some type of compromise can be reached to make the bill acceptable to the ANC. All ANC members throughout the city are up for re-election in November. LOU CHIBBARO JR.


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Ga. governor signs LGBT ‘neutral’ adoption bill Activists hopeful anti-LGBT measure will die in committee By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia on Monday signed into law a comprehensive bill updating the state’s adoption law after he joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in killing proposed changes that would have allowed adoptions by same-sex couples to be denied on religious grounds. The Georgia General Assembly’s approval of the sweeping adoption reform bill, known as HB 159, which includes no restrictions against same-sex couple adoptions, appears to have been overshadowed by the passage by the Georgia Senate on Feb. 23 of a separate bill, the Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act, or SB 375. That measure calls for allowing private adoption agencies receiving state funds to deny adoptions for certain couples or individual parents based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Legal experts say the bill’s language would allow faith-based adoption agencies to decline to approve an adoption for those with whom they disapprove, including single parents, unmarried couples and LGBT couples. The bill would prohibit the state from defunding or penalizing a private adoption agency for making adoption decisions based on religious grounds. Upon approval last month by the State Senate, SB 375 was sent to the House Judiciary Committee. A spokesperson for the committee’s chair, Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that Willard had yet to schedule a hearing for the bill due to the committee’s consideration of numerous other bills. The spokesperson said she didn’t know when or if Willard planned to call a hearing. Under the Georgia General Assembly’s 2818 legislative session, any bill that isn’t fully approved by the state House and Senate by March 29 will be considered dead for the session. Jen Ryan, a spokesperson for Deal, told the Blade in an email that the “governor’s office doesn’t comment on pending legislation.” However, at least one source familiar with Deal and the Republican-controlled legislature said Deal and a number of prominent GOP lawmakers have made it known they oppose SB 375, among other things, because they believe its perception as a discriminatory law would hurt efforts to bring and retain large businesses in the state. Deal made his views known on that score in 2016 when he vetoed a “religious

Republican Gov. NATHAN DEAL of Georgia this week signed a bill updating the state’s adoption law.

liberties” bill that critics said would have given employers and landlords authority to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds. With Atlanta currently in contention for becoming the home for Amazon’s second corporate headquarters, Deal has called on state lawmakers to refrain from passing bills appearing to allow discrimination. Meanwhile, a source familiar with the entertainment industry said prominent entertainment companies that have long been supportive of LGBT rights, including the Walt Disney Company, Netflix, and others that have produced films or conducted business in Georgia were watching with interest Georgia’s SB 375. The source said that if the bill passes and the governor signs it these and other companies might consider withdrawing film productions from Georgia. “My hope is that the House of Representatives takes on work that’s more important to everyday Georgians and reflects the values of Georgia rather than addressing SB 375,” Georgia State Rep. David Dreyer (D-Atlanta), told the Blade on Tuesday. Dreyer, who opposes SB 375, said he was proud that he and his colleagues in the State House and Senate worked diligently to secure passage of the comprehensive adoption bill that he said will modernize the state’s adoption process. “Really I think the important story here is House Bill 159, which is a nondiscriminatory rewrite of our adoption code,” he said. “It was supported by Georgia Equality and other groups,” Dreyer said in referring to Georgia’s statewide LGBT rights organization. “It not only passed both chambers but the governor scheduled an early signing ceremony and signed it yesterday at noon.” Dreyer noted that the bill was introduced last year and became stalled for a period of time when lawmakers disagreed over certain provisions added by members of the Senate.

“The Senate added discriminatory provisions and it would come back to the House and we would strip those,” Dreyer recalled. “And it went back and forth like that for some time. And the governor said he would only sign what he called a clean adoption bill,” said Dreyer. “And everybody was referring to that as a nondiscriminatory adoption bill,” he said. “And finally this year we got the

Senate to pass a clean adoption bill.” Equality Georgia and the Human Rights Campaign, the national LGTBT advocacy group based in Washington, have spoken out against SB 375. “This bill is a solution in search of a problem and would do nothing but make it more difficult for kids in the child welfare system to find a loving, long-term home,” said Nick Morrow, HRC’s southern states press secretary. “It would also send a strong message that Georgia is not a welcoming place for all,” Morrow said. “HRC opposes this bill and any attempt to single out LGBTQ people for discrimination.” Gay Republican activist Andrew Lawrence, a junior at the University of Georgia in Athens, said he organized an impromptu protest against SB 375 outside the state capital building on March 2. He said about a dozen people turned out to call on the State House to vote “no” on the bill and for Deal to veto it should it pass the House. “Specifically, this bill would allow organizations to refuse LGBT couples the right to adopt children,” he said. “Bigotry, in this case, comes at the expense of a child in need of loving parents.”

‘Gays for Trump’ leader runs for N.C. Legislature

Peter Boykin, the founder and president of the group Gays for Trump, announced last month that he is running as a Republican for a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives in a district representing Greensboro. Boykin is challenging Amos Quick, a Democratic incumbent who serves as pastor of a black church in a Democratic leaning district. Despite what on the surface appears to be an uphill effort to PETER BOYKIN, founder of Gays for Trump, win election to the seat, Boykin is running for the North Carolina House of Representatives. said his platform and positions on local and national issues will draw WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY the attention of voters. Among other things, he said his platform focuses on “school, church, and public safety for everyone, proper gun training and safety, and employment and job security.” “I want to ensure people of all walks of life are treated with dignity and respect so long as they also return the favor,” he said in a statement. “Equality is treating everyone with equal respect regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, political party, or opinions.” Boykin was in D.C. on Sunday for a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in support of President Donald Trump for which he served as lead organizer. The event drew about 100 people. His campaign announcement says Boykin is technical producer and co-owner of MAGA One Radio, a North Carolina-based online radio network that provides news and commentary from a conservative perspective. LOU CHIBBARO JR.



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‘March4Trump’ rally draws 100 to Lincoln Memorial Gays for Trump leader calls event a success By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com The turnout for a rally on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial in support of President Donald Trump, which was organized by the leader of the group Gays for Trump, grew from about a dozen people at its 11 a.m. starting time to nearly 100 enthusiastic participants by shortly after noon. Gays for Trump President Peter Boykin, who was the first of about a dozen speakers to address the gathering, announced that there were no officially scheduled speakers and that the March4Trump event would adopt an “open mic” format where everyone would be welcome to speak, including “our liberal friends.” As it turned out, all those who spoke on a makeshift stage with two loud speakers expressed strong support for Trump. A similar March4Trump rally organized by Boykin one year ago on the grounds of the Washington Monument drew about a dozen counter protesters who denounced Trump and shouted insults at the pro-Trump participants. There were no counter protesters at Sunday’s event. “Donald Trump has delivered for us every single day,” Boykin told rally participants, who assembled on the lower plaza in front of the Lincoln Memorial steps and a short distance from the Reflecting Pool that U.S. Park Service officials had drained during the winter months. “And you can see here our president has drained the swamp in Washington as he has promised,” Boykin said, pointing to the drained Reflecting Pool, which connects the Lincoln Memorial to the grounds of the Washington Monument. “We love a president who is open and honest,” Boykin continued. “We don’t have the fireside chats. We have his Tweets at 3 in the morning.” Boykin and other speakers said the severe wind storms that hit the mid-Atlantic region and the East Coast prevented people who planned to attend the March4Trump event from coming to Washington. “A lot of people stayed home and organized local Trump rallies,” Boykin said. “For every one person here there are 1,000 Trump supporters who could not be here today,” he said. Tim Rush, who identified himself as a 40-year activist and official within the Lyndon LaRouche movement, accused British intelligence agencies of attempting to orchestrate a “coup” against the Trump administration. He said British agents were behind efforts to stir up opposition to Trump by liberal activists in the U.S., including leftleaning news media outlets such as CNN, which he called “Cable News Nonsense.”

D.C. conservative activist Susan Monk said she and her husband are committed Trump supporters in a city where the majority of voters may not agree with them. “No matter how blue this city is, we are proud to come out here to support Trump,” she said. “The network of Trump supporters is what’s saving this country,” she added, noting that she and other Trump supporters are working to encourage fellow Trump backers from throughout the country to vote Republican in the November general election even if they have to “hold their noses” because GOP U.S. Senate or House candidates don’t excite them. “Our president needs a Republican Congress,” she said. Monk praised the diversity of those who turned out for the D.C. March4Trump, noting that among those in the audience were gays and lesbians, Latinos, African Americans and Asians. One of the African Americans who described himself as a proud Trump supporter was Boykin’s husband, Tavaris ‘David’ Smith, who wore a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat with an equal sign decal designed by the LGBT group Human Rights Campaign attached to it. “I was raised in a Democratic family,” Smith told the crowd. “I’m a Republican. I voted for Trump. I’m on the American team and I’m gay,” he said. “God bless America. God bless Trump.” Conservative activist and Trump supporter Isaac Smith of Charlottesville, Va. said Trump has created a “sense of national solidarity” that is helping the U.S. cope with a “dangerous world” and with divisions within the U.S. “We need to stick together,” he said. “The American dream is for everyone” and Trump, according to Isaac Smith, who is not related to David Smith, won election as president, among other things, by emerging as a strong advocate for “the forgotten Americans.” A young man who said he was visiting from South Korea compared some Americans who dislike Trump to what he said were a small but growing number of younger South Koreans, including students, who are becoming sympathetic to North Korea. None of the speakers, including the gay speakers, addressed concerns raised by most mainstream LGBT rights organizations that the Trump administration has rolled back LGBT rights initiatives put in place by President Obama. Among them, LGBT activists have said, is Trump’s attempt to rescind Obama’s directive allowing transgender people to serve in the military; the reversal of a transgender nondiscrimination policy by the Department of Education for the nation’s schools; and the discontinuation of a White House LGBT liaison staff member.

Organizers of a pro-Trump rally on Sunday praised the president, despite his actions to undermine LGBT rights. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY WYATT REID WESTLUND

At about 2:30, after the crowd dwindled to about 25 people, participants in the March4Trump began their planned march from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House. Two U.S. Park Police officers mounted on motorcycles escorted the group along a path next to the Reflecting Pool to 17th Street, where the group proceeded on the sidewalk to the White House. After displaying an American flag, signs saying “Thank You President Trump,” and at least two rainbow flags with the words “Gays for Trump” printed on them near the White House fence, the group dispersed. Boykin said he and several participants planned to walk to the nearby Trump Hotel where they would have a late lunch.

Gay Republican runs for U.S. Senate in Delaware

A financial services industry executive and business consultant who says he’s been openly gay for his entire adult life and married his husband in 2011 announced last month that he is running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in Delaware. Eugene Truono, 59, who most recently served as chief compliance officer for PayPal, is running for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Tom Carper, an LGBT rights supporter who first won election to the Senate in 2000. Truono’s campaign received an unexpected boost last week when Republican businessman Chuck Boyce, who entered the Delaware Senate race one year ago and was expected to run against Truono in a Republican primary, suddenly dropped out of the race citing health issues. Although other Republicans still have time to enter the race, as of this week Truono was the only GOP candidate running for Carper’s seat. “This campaign isn’t about me being gay,” Truono told the Delaware News Journal on the day he announced his candidacy on Feb. 20. “It’s about bringing conservative principles to Washington from Delaware. It’s about pushing things like tax reform, jobs and health care reform – things I think people really care about,” the News Journal quoted him as saying. Truono’s campaign website says that if elected to the Senate he “will fight for equality and justice,” but it doesn’t specifically mention LGBT rights or LGBTrelated issues. In response to an inquiry from the Washington Blade, Truono’s campaign manager, Steve McGuire, responded, among other things, to the questions of whether Truono supports allowing transgender people to serve in the military and whether he would become a co-sponsor of the long stalled LGBT rights bill known as the Equality Act. “Mr. Truono believes that the LGBT community is currently protected under the enumerated rights of the Constitution,” McGuire said in an email message. “A clear example of this is the 2015 United States Supreme Court decision that relied on the Equal Protection Clause in the support of gay marriage,” he said. “He believes the safeguards under the Constitution protect all individuals,” McGuire continued. “Therefore Mr. Truono would not become a cosponsor of the Equality Act as currently written and pending in the U.S. Senate.” On the issue of transgender service in the military, McGuire said Truono “believes that all people who are otherwise qualified under the physical and mental requirements of selective service should be afforded the opportunity to serve our country.” Most political observers in Delaware consider Carper to be the strong favorite to win re-election in November in a state where the majority of voters are registered Democrats. Prior to winning election to the Senate in 2000, Carper served from 1983 to 1993 in the U.S. House of Representatives. He won election in 1992 as Delaware’s governor and served in that post until 2001. LOU CHIBBARO JR.



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Pelosi, HRC on opposite sides over re-election of anti-LGBT Democrat Coalition launches $1.3 million effort to unseat incumbent in primary By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group is spearheading a $1.3 million effort to unseat from Congress a nearly extinct animal — an anti-LGBT Democrat — in an upcoming primary, but that effort runs contrary to the position of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Weeks before the primary on March 20, the Human Rights Campaign has launched an independent expenditure campaign to defeat Rep. Dan Lipinski, who represents Illinois’s 3rd congressional district. Ben Needham, director of strategic initiatives for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a phone interview with the Washington Blade on Friday the effort involves a multi-pronged approach. “We are spending $1.3 million collectively to remove Lipinksi from office,” Needham said. “Those efforts include direct mail programs, social media, campaign and social media ads. It includes an on-air TV buy at this point, and we are doing phone calls into the district as well.” Aside from the Human Rights Campaign, the coalition in the joint independent expenditure effort consists of NARAL Pro-Choice America, SEIU, MoveOn, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and EMILY’s List. It isn’t the first time HRC has attempted to unseat Lipinski, a Catholic lawmaker who has established an anti-LGBT record even though he’s a Democrat and represents a progressive district. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the district by 15 points in the general election; Bernie Sanders won it by 8 points in the Democratic primary. Needham said since Lipinski has taken office in 2005 the lawmaker has “repeatedly taken votes against the LGBTQ community, and he’s consistently done it in every single Congress since then.” “This is not our friend,” Needham said. “This is someone who is extremely antiLGBTQ and he is siding with some of our biggest opponents.” During his first term in Congress, he voted “present” in 2006 when a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage came to the House floor. In the subsequent Congress after Democrats took control, Lipinski in 2007 voted against a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on the House floor. Lipinski was also the only Democratic

A coalition is seeking to unseat anti-LGBT Democrat Rep. DAN LIPINSKI (D-Ill.), but he has support from House Minority Leader NANCY PELOSI (D-Calif.). WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO OF PELOSI BY MICHAEL KEY

co-sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act, which seeks to “protect” opponents of same-sex marriage from government action, but was seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom.” The incident most revealing of Lipinski’s anti-LGBT views was a 2014 campaign mailer to his constituents organized by the anti-LGBT Illinois Family Institute. That flyer indicated Lipinski backed a U.S. constitutional amendment against samesex marriage, supported a measure that would have prohibited the U.S. Justice Department from undermining the Defense of Marriage Act; and backed a conscience clause in major defense spending legislation seen to enable antiLGBT harassment of service members. Those views are in opposition to the tenets of the Democratic Party. The 2016 Democratic Party platform embraces LGBT rights and states “Democrats applaud” the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage that “recognized that LGBT people — like other Americans — have the right to marry the person they love.” Needham said Lipinski has been able to maintain those views in office even though he’s a Democrat because he won the seat, which was previously held by his father, based on name recognition. “He has never had a real race, he has never had to communicate his policies to the people and Illinois’ third district, and so they don’t know what his policies are, and that is the reason why we are partnering with our partner organizations: To make sure voters are educated when they go into the ballot box,” Needham said.

The Lipinski campaign didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment for this article or whether the lawmaker’s views have changed on LGBT issues. Despite his anti-LGBT actions, it should be noted Lipinski’s record isn’t entirely hostile. The lawmaker has voted in favor of federal hate crimes protection legislation for LGBT people and in favor of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. More recently, Lipinski voted with Democrats to uphold President Obama’s executive order barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors and, just last year, to maintain payments for gender reassignment surgery as part of the U.S. military’s health care system. But Lipinski’s anti-LGBT views aren’t the only aspect of his record that offended progressive groups. According to HRC, Lipinski has voted to block his constituents from care at Planned Parenthood and ban abortions, opposed raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and voted in opposition to Obamacare. The only competitor facing Lipinski in the March 20 primary is Marie Newman, a small business person and entrepreneur who established the group called “Team Up to Stop Bullying,” a coalition of 70 organizations seeking to find anti-bullying solutions for school kids. On her campaign website, Newman includes a section on “protecting rights,” which criticizes Lipinski for his anti-LGBT record and pledges a commitment to LGBT people. “In Congress, I will fight tirelessly against discrimination based on race, religion, gender or sexuality — because respect, appreciation and equal rights

are American values that I hold dear,” Newman writes. “We must rededicate ourselves to the basic, American principles of accepting refugees and promoting a welcome environment for all.” Marty Rouse, HRC’s national field director, said Newman is “a candidate with a proven record of supporting LGBTQ equality” and his organization is mobilizing for her in the district on top of the independent expenditure campaign. “Our staff and volunteers have completed hundreds of hour of canvassing and phone banks across the district and greater Chicago,” Rouse said. “HRC has already conducted two campaign advocate training in Chicago for our members. This grassroots mobilization is building to elect a candidate whose values best represent those of Illinois’ third district.” An internal poll from the Newman campaign made public in December declared Lipinski was “vulnerable” based on voters’ lack of knowledge of his positions. Against an unknown candidate, Lipinski led 49 percent to 18 percent, which is sub-50 percent and considered by the Newman campaign a sign of vulnerability. Upon educating Democrats on Lipinski’s record, support for him dropped five points and rose for Newman by 16 points. That closed the gap between them to a margin of less than 10 points. After hearing balanced negative attacks on both candidates, Newman pulled into the lead by five points. Nathan Gonzalez, editor of the nonpartisan publication Inside Elections, said progressive groups “definitely have an opportunity.” “I think when we get closer to an election day, it’s important to rely on the current polling, and there just isn’t a lot of polling,” Gonzalez said. But Lipinski has support in the upcoming primary from at least one progressive, Pelosi, whose voice is strong within the Democratic Party. With the election weeks away and the progressive campaign underway to unseat Lipinski, Pelosi was asked during her weekly news conference whether she supports the incumbent lawmaker. Her response was succinct and arguably half-hearted: “I do.” Those words seemed to surprise the Capitol Hill press corps because a reporter repeated the question, prompting Pelosi to leave no doubt of her position by saying, “I do,” once again. A Democratic leadership aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Blade Pelosi endorsed Lipinski because “leadership always supports incumbents.” Needham said in response to Pelosi’s endorsement of Lipinski the Human Rights Campaign backs her, but still remains focused on defeating the lawmaker.


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Rights, which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights enforces. The Panamanian government has signaled it will comply with the ruling, but it remains unclear whether conservative justices will argue the Inter-American Court of Human Rights decision is not legally binding. Two of the justices’ terms have ended, but González pointed out to the Blade the National Assembly has rejected President Juan Carlos Varela’s nominees to succeed them. The two justices whose terms have expired oppose marriage. “Right now we’re at an impasse,” González told the Blade. “These justices shouldn’t be there, but they are there and the president has not presented the other two and the opponents want these two to vote.” The Panamanian Alliance for Life and the Family, which represents 10 religious organizations and other groups, this week is scheduled to hold a march against marriage in Panama City. González noted these groups continue to pressure the Supreme Court to rule against the issue. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

From left, JOHN WINSTANLEY and ENRIQUE JELENSZKY are one of two same-sex couples seeking marriage rights in Panama. PHOTO COURTESY OF ENRIQUE JELENSZKY

Panama lawyer: Same-sex marriage benefits ‘entire society’ PANAMA CITY — The lawyer who represents two same-sex couples seeking marriage rights in Panama last week said a ruling in their favor would resonate beyond the country’s LGBT community. “This is very good not only for this community, but also for the entire society to become more in tune with the 21st century and to be a more just society,” Carlos Ernesto González of Morgan & Morgan, which is Panama’s largest law firm, told the Blade on Feb. 28 during an interview at his office in the Panamanian capital. “That’s our aim at the end in reality, nothing else.” González represents Enrique Jelenszky, who legally married his husband, John Winstanley, abroad, and Álvaro Levy, whose spouse, Ken Gilberg, is from the U.S. Panama Supreme Court Justice Luis Ramón Fábrega last summer heard oral arguments in both lawsuits. They have been subsequently combined into one case. Panamanian law does not legally recognize same-sex couples. González told the Blade he had wanted to file a marriage lawsuit, but it was difficult to find gays and lesbians who wanted to become plaintiffs. “It took us almost a year to find someone willing to go ahead with this fight,” said González, noting Jelenszky contacted him about a potential legal challenge. “He (Jelenszky) was actually thinking of doing the same thing when we got into contact with each other,” added González. “So we started that case.” González also said Morgan & Morgan’s main partner, Eduardo Morgan, was close to an uncle in New York who was gay. González said the uncle told Morgan a decade ago that “gay marriage” was important “because it provided stability to society and he saw it with his uncle.” Panama would become the first country in Central America to allow same-sex couples to legally marry if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Jelenszky and Levy. Panamanian First Lady Lorena Castillo — whose office has launched an antidiscrimination campaign with U.N. AIDS — and Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo are among the officials in the Central American country who support marriage. Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, and Hunter T. Carter of the New York City Bar Association, who works with advocates throughout Latin America who are seeking marriage rights for same-sex couples in their respective countries, have both filed amicus briefs in support of the plaintiffs. Iván Chanis, a gay Panamanian lawyer who once lived in D.C., is working pro bono with González and Morgan & Morgan on their case. The Panamanian Roman Catholic and Pentecostal churches continue to spearhead opposition to marriage in the country. Fábrega last October drafted a ruling that concluded the two portions of Panama’s family code that prevent gays and lesbians from marrying are not unconstitutional. Fábrega also said the Panamanian National Assembly should consider whether to allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. Fábrega last month withdrew his draft ruling after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Jan. 9 issued a landmark decision that recognizes same-sex marriage and transgender rights. Panama is among the countries that recognize the American Convention on Human

Nicaragua trans group seeks to create new leaders MANAGUA, Nicaragua — The head of a transgender advocacy group in Nicaragua on Tuesday said her primary objective is to “create new leaders.” Venus Caballero, executive director of the Organization of Transgender People of Nicaragua (ODETRANS), noted to the Blade during an interview at her office in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua that her organization has 30 active members across the country. She said ODETRANS members are Organization of Transgender working in the cities of Masaya, León, People of Nicaragua Executive Chinindega, Chontales and Orotal. Director VENUS CABALLERO at her organization’s office in Managua on Caballero, who also represents the Latin Feb. 27. American and Caribbean Network of Trans People (REDLACTRANS) in Nicaragua, WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS told the Blade that ODETRANS has representatives in each of the country’s 15 departments in spite of the fact the organization’s only office is in Managua. “We have trans leaders that are doing work in each one of these departments,” said Caballero. Caballero said ODETRANS’ other objectives include teaching trans Nicaraguans how advocate for their rights, referring to a recent meeting in the northern part of the country that focused on empowering “girls about their human rights, selfcare and self-esteem.” She told the Blade that ODETRANS also encourages trans Nicaraguans to become involved in the country’s political process. The Nicaraguan government in 2009 created the Special Ombudsman for Sexual Diversity position within its Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. The country’s Health Ministry in 2014 issued a resolution that bans discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in health care. Caballero noted Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is married to President Daniel Ortega of the ruling National Liberation Sandinista Front, recently appeared on Nicaraguan television with a trans woman who had graduated from a prominent university with a communications degree. Caballero described Murillo’s decision to highlight the trans university graduate as a “real paradox” because she remains unemployed. “She (Murillo) can say that okay, we are not against the issue (of trans rights), but we haven’t done anything to support the issue,” said Caballero. Caballero also noted Ortega and Murillo — whose government is becoming increasingly authoritarian — describe Nicaragua as a “Christian, socialist and solidarity” country. The Roman Catholic Church and evangelicals also have significant influence over Nicaraguan politicians. “We are a secular country,” said Caballero. “But our government professes a religion.” Caballero further stressed discrimination based on gender identity remains commonplace in Nicaragua, even though ODETRANS and other advocacy groups continue to advocate for a comprehensive trans rights law and local nondiscrimination ordinances. MICHAEL K. LAVERS


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LGBT groups rally at Supreme Court against Trump nominees CONTINUED FROM PAGE 01

legal doctrine before the Senate. “When it comes to judicial nominations, nothing could have prepared us for the Trump administration,” Aron said. “Hostile and offensive statements and behavior that would have gotten in the old days a nominee instantly disqualified — they’re now par for the course.” Duncan, currently a partner at Schaerr Duncan LLP, has a record of opposing LGBT rights in litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court and federal appeals courts. When same-sex marriage came before the Supreme Court, Duncan filed a brief on behalf of 15 states in opposition to nationwide marriage equality. Additionally, he led efforts to keep in place marriage bans in Louisiana and Virginia. After the nationwide ruling for samesex marriage was handed down, Duncan wasn’t done. In Alabama, he represented the birth mother of three children who refused visitation rights to her former same-sex spouse. Although the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in the birth mother’s favor, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision in accordance with Obergefell. On transgender rights, Duncan represented in litigation the Virginia school that sought to bar transgender student Gavin Grimm from using the restroom consistent with his gender identity. Duncan also represented North Carolina Republican lawmakers in their attempt to defend in court House Bill 2, which sought to bar transgender people from using public restrooms of their choice. Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality, said at every turn when transgender rights are challenged Duncan “has been there defending discrimination.” “It’s not just about who his clients were, it’s not even just again and again he sought out the opportunities, the cases and the clients where he could make the arguments and advance the positions that would be most harmful to LGBT Americans and our families,” Tobin said. “He hasn’t just represented and defended those who discriminated against people like us, he has demeaned our families and our children.” Farr, currently a shareholder in the Raleigh office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC, defended in court a voter ID law in North Carolina widely seen as an attempt to prevent minorities from voting. A legal counsel for the 1990 campaign to re-elect the late Sen. Jesse Helms, Farr has denied being part of the campaign’s efforts falsely telling black people they could be prosecuted for voting, although a Justice Department attorney familiar with the effort has insisted Farr was involved.

‘When it comes to judicial nominations, nothing could have prepared us for the Trump administration,’ said NAN ARON, president of Alliance for Justice.

upon taking an oath as a naturalized citizen earlier this year. “The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee equal protection of all citizens under the law, including transgender people,” Van Kuilenburg said. “Unfortunately, Kyle Duncan has shown time and again that he is willing to trample on those rights, and as a mother of transgender child, I am deeply concerned.” The rally was held on the same day the nation’s largest LGBT group, the Human Rights Campaign, sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate in opposition to Farr. Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, was at the rally and said her organization would “completely concur” with the opposition

to Farr, but had special words on the Duncan nomination. “Kyle Duncan is a gun for hire who has made his career about targeting LGBTQ people in every aspect of our lives,” Warbelow said. Lawmakers joining civil rights groups in opposition to Duncan and Farr said the nominees are part of a broader effort from the Trump administration to undermine civil rights. Kennedy, chair of the Congressional Transgender Task Force, said the nominees were contrary of the spirit of efforts in America to move toward greater equality.


The seat to which Farr was nominated has been open since 2005 and is 30 percent African American. Former President Obama nominated for the seat former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who’s black, but U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) blocked the nomination. Farr, who’s white, was initially nominated by former President George W. Bush and Trump renominated him. Todd Cox, director of policy at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, said at the rally the nominations “reveal the disturbing truth that this administration does not just tolerate radical anti-equality views among its judicial nominees, but requires them.” “Overall, Farr’s record is not simply one of a lawyer representing clients,” Farr said. “Rather, he has demonstrated a longstanding dedication to undermining civil rights protections, particularly when it comes to the voting rights of African Americans and people of color.” Sharon McGowan, director of strategy for Lambda Legal, said of two nominees Duncan is “even more dangerous” based on his anti-LGBT record because he’s up for a seat on a federal appeals court. “We know that this is a matter of life or death for our community,” McGowan said. “Kyle Duncan has spent his career denigrating LGBT people — whether it’s denying the legitimacy of our families, accusing gay people of being unfit parents or trying to block our access to the protections of marriage.” Also present at the rally were the parents of transgender children who said the confirmation of Duncan would undermine the safety of their families. Nicola van Kuilenburg, mother of a transgender boy in Frederick, Md., said Duncan is “a serious threat” to the U.S. Constitution, which she swore to defend

Damon C. Miller dies at 71 Damon Craddock Miller died Feb. 10 of prostate cancer at George Washington University Hospital, according to his close friend Richard Mumford. He was 71 and died of prostate cancer. Miller was born on Jan. 26, 1947 in Summit, N.J., attended elementary school in Oakville, Ontario, and graduated as Damon C. Miller valedictorian from the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. He graduated from Princeton University in 1968 with an A.B. cum laude in politics and completed Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I., the same year. Miller served on active duty until 1972 on the USS Northampton and USS Hawkins. He retired from the Naval Reserve in 1991 with the rank of Commander, U.S. Navy Reserve. Miller graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1975 with honors. He had a 32-year career as a maritime lawyer, first with Rawle and Henderson in Philadelphia from 1975-1984, then with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, from which he retired as Senior Admiralty Counsel in 2007. An arts lover his whole life, Miller sang with the Mendelssohn Club in Philadelphia, where he performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy and Riccardo Muti, and with the Oratorio Society of Washington, performing with the National Symphony Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich. He also sang in two choirs at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Md. Miller, who was gay, was active in the Chrysalis Arts and Culture Group of Washington, a gay men’s organization that visits museums, historic homes and other attractions. He hiked frequently with Adventuring, an LGBT outdoors group, and regularly led their hikes at the National Arboretum, Great Falls and Rock Creek Park. In retirement, he volunteered as a teacher of English as a second language in Bethesda. He loved to travel, both nationally and internationally, and kept track of the states he had visited, reaching 49 when he went to Alaska several summers ago; only Hawaii eluded his quest for a complete tally. Miller is survived by his brother, Richard W. Miller, and sister-in-law, Rosalia G-H. Miller, of Washington; and his best friend and companion, Richard Mumford of Alexandria, Va., along with a niece, nephew, grandniece and grandnephew. Memorial gifts may be made to the Damon C. Miller Fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation and to ZERO — the End of Prostate Cancer (zerocancer.org). A memorial service was held Feb. 18. JOEY DiGUGLIELMO


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‘A Fantastic Woman’ reignites Chile trans rights debate CONTINUED FROM PAGE 01

Vega has become a point of reference for the Chilean trans community in a year marked by the still slow progress of a gender identity bill in Congress and the presence of the anti-trans “Freedom Bus” last June. Sebastián Piñera, the right-wing former president, was elected in December with the support of a conservative political coalition that includes some groups opposed to the LGBTI agenda. The screening of the film in local movie theaters was among the several initiatives that promoted visibility of Chile’s trans community. These include the publication of an article about the first trans woman who transitioned on the job in the country. Vega has taken advantage of the spotlight to make some political statements about the conditions to which trans people are exposed. She has publicly pointed out the irony of representing her country with a passport that doesn’t recognize her gender identity and has described herself as “happy and incorrigible” after Piñera declared shortly before the election the gender identity of trans children could be corrected overtime. Franco Fuica, a trans activist who is a member of Organizando Trans Diversidades (OTD), a Chilean trans advocacy group, said Vega is a role model for trans children and teenagers and their families. “One of the hardest barriers for trans people is not having references,” Fuica told the Washington Blade. “A few years ago, I met a 12-year-old trans girl who wanted to be a sex worker because she thought that was what a trans person had to do. Today trans adults, like Daniela, could be role models to future generations and we have to create new imagery to move towards a healthier society and fearless families.” Evelyn Silva, director of Fundación Selenna, an organization that works for the rights of trans children in Chile, said trans boys and girls can see Vega as someone who has achieved her dreams. “It is very significant that she is a woman, because trans women are the most discriminated people in the LGBTI community,” said Silva. “This award gives hope for our children to think not everything that is related to transsexuality is sad or hard.” Fuica said Vega has proved “trans people can do everything we want, as long as we conquer all the spaces and opportunities that we deserve just like any other person.” “And that is what Daniela is accomplishing,” added Fuica. The Oscar has reignited the public debate around gender identity and trans

people’s rights. Outgoing President Michelle Bachelet herself made a series of statements in favor of the trans community moments after “A Fantastic Woman” won the Oscar. “The award, which makes us proud, not only recognizes a great quality film, but also a history of respect that makes us good as a country,” wrote Bachelet on Sunday night on her Twitter account. Some Chilean LGBTI movement leaders in the hours after the Oscars have used “A Fantastic Woman’s” win to accelerate the discussion of the gender identity bill. Fundación Iguales President Juan Enrique Pi said “a celebration without understanding the duty we have as society to protect trans community is petty” and pointed to current and future administration and Congress officials to fulfill these pending matters. Rolando Jiménez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, had a similar opinion. “The joy of public authorities for the success of the film requires at a minimum (a commitment) to accelerate the discussion of the gender identity bill, protecting trans people rights from their childhood and without conditions,” he said. Fuica added OTD expects the film’s impact could pave the way for the gender identity bill to be approved this week before Piñera takes office on March 11. The Chilean Senate on Tuesday approved the measure, but it remains unlikely it will be signed into law by the time Piñera arrives at La Moneda. Local media have indicated “A Fantastic Woman” has presented the new administration with its first challenge before it even takes office. Gonzalo Blumel, the future minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency, the institution within the Chilean Executive Branch in charge of prioritizing legislative debates in Congress, said during a national radio broadcast the movie “presents us a challenge we have to take.” Blumel also recognized “the need of legislation, especially because the change of registration is cumbersome and is not up to the standards.” Future Justice Minister Hernán Larraín, who is part of the most conservative party that was part of Piñera’s coalition and, paradoxically, the father of one of “A Fantastic Woman’s” producers, said the incoming administration will do everything it can “to bring solutions for a just need” of trans people. Larraín, however, added the situation of trans minors will be more complicated because “no one can make decisions for them, not even their parents.” “We have to look for a temporary solution,” said Larraín.

JAMES IVORY wore a tuxedo shirt emblazoned with the image of Timothee Chalamet who played Elio in Ivory’s Best Adapted Screenplay winning film ‘Call Me By Your Name.’ AMPAS SCREEN CAPTURE VIA ABC

Oscar grapples with inclusivity, misogyny The message, in case you missed it, came through loud and clear in host Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue. Referring to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the subsequent impact of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, he said, “What happened with Harvey and what’s happening all over is way overdue. We can’t let bad behavior slide anymore. The world is watching us. We need to set an example.” He also addressed positive steps towards inclusion in the movie industry over the past year, and pointed out how these were reflected in this year’s crop of nominations – singling out Greta Gerwig (the first female nominated for Best Director in 8 years, for “Lady Bird”) and Rachel Morrison (the first female nominated for Best Cinematography, ever, for “Mudbound”). It’s worth pointing out that, later in the evening, both these women lost the award in their respective categories. Throughout the evening, it was clear that the Academy had taken pains to ensure the #OscarSoWhite hashtag would not be a thing this year. From “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman to Asian-American “Last Jedi” actress Kelly Marie Tran to Native American actor Wes Studi, the show was all about representation; it became so obvious that, late in the proceedings, presenters Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph joked about “Oscar So Black” before reassuring the audience that there were still plenty of white people backstage (the pair’s appearance was one of the evening’s highlights, with many online commentators calling for them to co-host a show or be teamed for a movie). Mary J. Blige – the first person to be nominated for both her acting and songwriting – performed “Mighty River” (from “Mudbound” which she co-wrote with Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson), and accompanying Keala Settle in her rendition of “This Is Me” (the inclusive, self-empowering anthem from “The Greatest Showman”) was an emphatically diverse back-up choir and dance corps that helped drive the performance toward an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd. Both would later lose the award. It was a running theme throughout the show. The biggest disappointment of the evening – certainly for LGBT audiences, but also for many others who were rightly electrified by his astonishing performance – was Timothée Chalamet’s loss in the Best Actor category for his performance in “Call Me By Your Name.” Continues at washingtonblade.com. JOHN PAUL KING



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Keep your promise to protect each other.

LGBT needs addressed in Calif. bill package SAN FRANCISCO — California lawmakers will consider a bill package for this year’s legislative session that includes provisions for youth and LGBT health issues, the Bay Area Reporter reports. Public services for homeless LGBT youth, needs of LGBT seniors and a crackdown on “ex-gay” therapy are on the slate. Lawmakers may even include an apology to the community for past anti-gay laws, the Reporter reports. Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, told the Reporter he’s focused on “addressing the disparities in health and well-being” that LGBT residents face. The lead author of two of the more influential proposals this year is gay Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), who chairs the Legislative LGBT Caucus. His Assembly Bill 2943 would designate “conversion therapy” as consumer fraud in the Golden State. If the bill is adopted, then licensed professionals found to be offering what mainstream medical groups decry as junk science could be stripped of their license to practice in California, the Reporter reports. In 2012, state leaders enacted legislation that banned mental health professionals from trying to alter the sexual orientation of LGBT youth 18 and younger. Low’s bill would effectively expand the ban to include adults, the article notes. Zbur told the Reporter that despite the earlier legislation, which survived court challenges, there are adults in California being offered conversion therapy. Low is also the lead author of Assembly Concurrent Resolution 172 that would offer an official apology for the state’s past discriminatory laws that oppressed and persecuted the LGBT community. The state’s mistreatment of its LGBT residents dates back centuries, the Reporter reports. Low’s office has pointed to indecency statutes that allowed the police to harass and sometimes arrest people who were considered deviant or gender-bending. Also cited is a 1909 law that called for sterilizing those convicted and imprisoned for committing sodomy and oral sex acts.

HIV, syphilis ‘cluster’ outbreak plagues Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. — About 125 people including high school students have contracted HIV, syphilis or both in a “cluster” outbreak here, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Three local babies were also born with syphilis last year, health officials said. “This is an epidemic people are not talking about enough, and it leads to people taking unnecessary risks,” said Melissa Ugland, a public health consultant who works with a number of local nonprofit organizations that focus on public health, according to the Sentinel. There has been no announcement to the general public from the Milwaukee Health Department as of Tuesday. Fewer than 10 percent of the 125 people who tested positive are Milwaukee Public Schools students, but health care experts anticipate that the numbers could increase as more people come forward, the Sentinel reports. A cluster is an aggregation of disease closely grouped in time and place. This cluster was identified as such because the people in it could all be connected and were in contact with each other during a 12-month, identifiable period, the Sentinel reports citing health officials. Most of those in the group are men and 45 percent were HIV positive, Ugland and other health care advocates said. The Sentinel did not address how many of those were men who have sex with men. ADVERTISING Ugland said she did not know which school or schools were impacted by the cluster but she said it could be several. PROOF #1 ISSUE DATE: 10.26.12 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: BRIAN PITTS (bpitts@washblade.com) In a statement, the school district said the Health Department informed its REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of staff that the entire city is experiencing an increase in sexually transmitted adviC e Proof • m i a t ifinal o and N will • beL submitted i t i Gfor apublication t i o Nif revision • a isPnot P submitted e a L Swithin • 24 C hours o LofL a B o r a t i o N proof. wille bed considered the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts REVISIONS omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is infections in young people ages 15-24. responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users REDESIGN can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or “Because schools have a significant number of students in the 15-18 age TEXTgroup, REVISIONS any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair IMAGE/LOGO REVISIONS we are working with the Milwaukee Health Department, in a collaborative and competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the ADVERTISER SIGNATURE NO REVISIONS washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contr preventive effort, to share information with young people in middle schools and liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred washington blade newspaper. This includes but is n by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations payment and insertion schedule. high schools to keep them healthy and to protect their health,” the statement said. and warranties. The number of those affected may grow. “(The cluster) was still considered ongoing; they were continuing to try to track FamiLY | eState PLaNNiNG | emPLoYmeNt | immiGratioN down some folks,” Ugland told the Sentinel. ComPLeX LitiGatioN | CiviL riGHtS | LGBt | adoPtioN | BuSiNeSS Public health advocates are labeling the cluster a “sentinel event” because of the number of young people becoming HIV positive and the fact that a baby was born with syphilis. Health officials first became aware of a growing problem with sexually at tor N e YS at L aw • d C | m d | va transmitted infections in mid-December after several people reported having HIV or syphilis symptoms, sources said, according to the Sentinel. 3 0 1 . 8 9 1 . 2 2 0 0 • S P - L aw. C o m


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Barbara Comstock’s badge of shame Va. congresswoman ranks No. 10 on NRA cash haul list By JASON LINDSAY Generally, being mentioned in a Top Ten list is positive — a sign you’re doing something worth recognition. But Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock is probably hoping no one will notice her appearance on the notorious list — U.S. House members receiving the most cash from the National Rifle Association. Comstock lands at No. 10 on the list of House members collecting the most cash from the NRA during their careers — more than $137,000 from the discredited organization charged with opposing every sensible gun reform proposal that would stem the flow of blood in our schools, churches and theaters. The “A” rating Comstock received from the NRA must stand for Arm Americans, because that’s what she’s about. The Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students and teachers dead has rekindled the flame for commonsense gun reform activism, spurred by the social media-savvy students who saw their classmates murdered. They have charged all those re-

ceiving NRA cash with wearing Badges of Shame. This new generation of gun reform leaders, although only in their first weeks as activists, has drawn a clear line in the sand: if you take NRA cash, you are responsible for the bloodshed. That should have Comstock worried, because she’s out of step with the voters in her district. Representing Virginia’s 10th district, which stretches westward from the wealthy D.C. suburbs to the West Virginia border, Comstock was named one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents by the prestigious Cook Political Report, which sees her district as a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats. Late last year, Comstock enthusiastically voted for one of the Republicans’ top legislative priorities, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would allow dangerous and untrained people to carry loaded, hidden guns in more public places. That vote occurred just days before the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members. Comstock’s Concealed Carry vote was particularly tone-deaf, coming right on the heels of Virginia’s legislative and gubernatorial election, which saw a blue sweep across the Commonwealth. Exit E DIT OR IA L C A R T OON

polls showed that gun reform was the second most important issue for voters, just behind health care. Newly inaugurated Gov. Ralph Northam made gun reform a major issue in his campaign against Ed Gillespie, who touted his NRA “A” rating in TV ads. But Comstock’s record of loosening gun laws doesn’t stop there: she voted to allow people on the terrorist watch list to purchase firearms, voted to give severely mentally ill veterans and Social Security disability beneficiaries easier access to firearms. In short, there isn’t a pro-gun vote Comstock won’t take, or a Republican talking point she won’t parrot. Comstock even blamed the FBI for the Parkland shooting in a statement, calling out “the system” rather than the ability of a 19-year-old to legally purchase an assault weapon and large capacity magazines. This may be the year Comstock’s electoral luck runs out. Virginia’s 10th is now a blue district: in 2016, voters went for Clinton over Trump 52-42 percent. In the 2017 state elections, Democrat Northam took more than 56 percent in the governor’s race, winning by 12 percentage points. At the House of Delegates level, seven Republican incumbents with districts touching Comstock’s congressional district were defeated by Democrats. Meanwhile over the last two cycles, support for Comstock has decreased: in 2014 she beat her Democratic opponent by 16 points in her first election to the House, but that margin was down to less than 6 points in 2016. The combination of the blue wave election results of 2017, the continuing surge of grassroots enthusiasm, and the clear takeaways from exit polling that standing with the gun lobby over the safety of your constituents has political consequences, does not bode well for Comstock. In the days following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., I knew that the LGBTQ community could be a new driving force in the fight for commonsense gun reform. Comstock’s history of taking significant amounts of NRA cash might earn her a spot on another list this year — in addition to being No. 10 in NRA blood money — this year, she could be on the list of Republican incumbents who are defeated with the help of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. JASON LINDSAY is founder and executive director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a PAC that supports state and federal candidates who will act on sensible gun policy reforms and champion LGBTQ equality. To get involved, visit PrideFund.org.

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.




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‘Red Clocks’ exposes frightening reality of our time New novel depicts life in a U.S. where abortion, in vitro are illegal

KATHI WOLFE, a writer and poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

In 1959, my mother, who loved my brother and me, was expecting another child. After much soul-searching, she decided to have an abortion. My mom had Type-1 diabetes and knew that she might not survive another pregnancy. Then, in the pre-Roe v. Wade era terminating a pregnancy was far from easy. “I would have loved to have had another baby if I could have. It was the hardest decision I ever made,” my Mom told me years later. “It wasn’t easy to find a doctor

and your Dad and I felt we couldn’t talk about it – even to close friends.” I’ve been thinking about my Mom’s abortion story, as I’ve been reading “Red Clocks,” a stunning new novel by Leni Zumas. “Red Clocks” is set in the present in the United States. Abortion and in vitro fertilization are illegal. The “Every Child Needs Two” law is about to take effect. When this law is enacted, single women will no longer be able to adopt children. In this fictional landscape, if you go to Canada to have an abortion, you’ll run into the “pink wall.” The Canadian government under an agreement with the U.S. will arrest and extradite you. Five, maybe even three years ago, I likely would have thought “Red Clocks” to be a brilliant, cautionary dystopia. It would have seemed a chilling depiction of what could have been if we hadn’t, since 1973, had Roe v. Wade or feminism. Now, in the Trump/ Pence era, “Red Clocks” seems not only an all too-real glimpse of what the future could bring – but a depiction of a world all too close to our present reality. As many reviewers have pointed out, “Red Clocks” is “The Handmaid’s Tale” of our time. (“The

Handmaid’s Tale” is the renowned dystopian 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. It’s set in the near future where the U.S. has become a misogynistic society, governed by a right-wing, Christian theocracy.) Why does “Red Clocks” feel so real – as if it’s story could soon become our story? Because in January the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services proposed a rule that would allow health care providers to refuse to provide abortion and other health care services to women and transgender people if it went against their religious beliefs. Also, in January, as the Blade and other news outlets reported, HHS created a new agency called the Conscience & Religious Freedom Division to help enforce laws created to protect religious freedom. The Trump administration speaks of the new HHS division in Orwellian language. “Laws protecting religious freedom and conscience rights are just empty words on paper if they aren’t enforced,” Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said in a statement. “No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral

or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice.” It’s ironic that Severino is concerned about guaranteeing justice for “victims of unlawful discrimination.” When he was a Heritage Foundation scholar, the Blade reported, Severino opposed having transgender people serve in the military and supported North Carolina’s anti-trans bathroom law House Bill 2. Freedom of religion is one of the great things about this country, but the Trump administration is becoming a theocracy. The misogynistic and anti-queer HHS proposed rule and new division are a pathway to discrimination and injustice – a threat to the freedom and health of women and transgender people. “Woke up one morning to a presidentelect she hadn’t voted for,” Zumas writes of Ro, one of the characters in “Red Clocks.“ Art can put a human face on vital issues and strip away didacticism in a way that no policy debate can. If you want to understand the frightening reality of the new HHS division, read “Red Clocks.”


Trump the Scavenger descends The chaos president revels in ersatz glory at his country’s expense

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

Our improbable president, fortified by fantasies of bravery, carries no gun; but if he did, it would be made of stolen vibranium and disguised as a TV remote control. Like other imaginary weapons, it is unaffected by the new tariffs. His most dangerous weapon is his brazen disregard for norms and traditions. Trump’s policy proposals, if impulsive bullshitting can be called that, are like an exotic fish whose poison either kills you or gives you superpowers. Sit over here, tuck in your napkin, and please pay in advance. His latest attack on the social safety net is a budget proposal to replace food stamps with what are euphemistically called “America’s harvest boxes,” courtesy

of convenient conservatives who demand freedom for themselves and paternalism toward everyone else. Days before Trump announced his new tariffs on foreign-made steel, former adviser Carl Icahn dumped millions of dollars worth of steel-related stocks. Martha Stewart found herself redecorating a prison cell for lying about less; so let the questioning begin. It’s an ill trade wind that blows no vulture capitalist into the pokey. Trump’s son-in-law has been making a pile using his White House position. Soon Jared may be breaking a pile, as in rocks. It turns out that the chief White House calligrapher has a higher security clearance than Kushner. That calligraphers require a clearance is a reminder of the robust institutions standing in the Scavenger’s way. This week on “Chickenhawks Blowing Things Up,” former UN Ambassador John Bolton calls for a preemptive strike against North Korea. He is being mentioned as a possible replacement for H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser. Apparently, Trump needs a fresh supply of crazy people. Megyn Kelly, whom Trump said in 2015 had “blood coming out of her wherever,” proves herself tougher on Vladimir Putin than he is, having confronted the Russian

despot in another interview. Putin later announced an intercontinental cruise missile impervious to American defenses, but Trump was busy critiquing Alec Baldwin. Whatever your position on guns, Trump probably embraced it at one time or another last week. His cavalier dismissal of due process recalled the summer day long ago when I first read the trial over who stole the tarts in Alice in Wonderland: “Sentence first—verdict afterwards.” Now our wannabe dictator praises Chinese President Xi’s power grab and says, at a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, “Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day.” He admires the sort of men we fought to protect the world from, while he denounces athletes for kneeling and demands more football concussions. Elsewhere in American greatness, Trump’s faithful followers pursue their holy war. Couples at a Unification Church offshoot in Pennsylvania exchanged vows while wearing crowns (some fashioned from bullets) and holding AR-15s. Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky whose defense of traditional families includes her four marriages, has put her name to a ghost-written memoir titled Under God’s Authority. The book description says, “Kim chronicles her dramatic encounters with furious, fistpounding, homosexual men.” How can

a county clerk impose her life choices on others in defiance of the Supreme Court? She seems, in any case, to have missed the Christ who commanded, “Love your neighbor.” There is no placating Trump’s rabble. People long fed on bitterness and paranoia do not easily change their diet. On Nov. 6 we should deliver them a defeat so devastating that they go back into the holes they crawled out of. In the meantime, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues, as does the attrition of top White House staff. It appears that a number of Trump associates, some flunking their background checks, may be convicted of conspiring against the United States. That remains to be seen. America’s crisis of self-destruction ironically coincides with a rare cultural moment as Ryan Coogler’s magnificent Black Panther is celebrated across the African diaspora, whose progeny reach back to the homeland over a void of stolen history as incuriousness, greed, cruelty, and lies hollow out a mighty republic. In a sense, the idea of America is as mythical as Wakanda. If we do not fight to redeem it, it will disappear like a dream into the mist. Copyright © 2018 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.


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Barry still a hero to some and an enigma to others Former mayor’s statue a fitting tribute to civil rights icon

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

When Marion Barry Jr. died in 2014, I wrote a column with the headline, “A hero to some; an enigma to others.” Listening to comments and reading columns surrounding the unveiling of his statue on Pennsylvania Avenue last Saturday that clearly hasn’t changed. Partly responsible is the ongoing racial divide in our city. But there is also an age divide between those who knew Marion Barry before he uttered the famous line “the bitch set me up” when he was arrested for doing drugs and those who only learned about him later. Defying all odds he was once again elected mayor after he got out of jail. But many feel after

that election he only added to the downhill slide the District’s finances were undergoing under Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly. Barry was first elected mayor in 1978. Glenn Baker, producer of a documentary for WETA on D.C. in the 1980s, said of Barry, “Whites helped elect him; he embraced the gay community and was very wise about developing that constituency. He had gay members on his staff and in the city government, and as a result, D.C. became known as a gay-friendly city, and grew to be one of the most vibrant gay communities in the country.” That history made it so shocking to the LGBTQ community when he came back onto the Council after his last term as mayor and voted against marriage equality. He publicly supported, in a speech on Freedom Plaza, a bunch of homophobic ministers and never adequately explained himself. But to the African-American community and many of us who knew Barry from the late ‘70s and ‘80s he was in some ways larger than life. We knew him as a civil rights icon and in many ways a great mayor. He was supportive of me as a member of the LGBT community during the years I was coming out. It turned out even though he voted against marriage equality it was his early efforts and suc-

cess in amending the city’s Human Rights Act that ensured there could be no referendum on marriage equality in the District and the majority could never vote to curtail the rights of a minority. I first met Barry just after moving to D.C. prior to the 1978 mayoral election. He asked for my vote but I wasn’t yet a D.C. voter. Like many who came to work for the Carter administration we all thought after a few years we would return home. Forty years later I am proud to say D.C. is my home. I am a policy wonk and my work on disability issues in the Carter administration led to my first appointment to a D.C. commission by Mayor Barry. As the second elected mayor of the city, after Walter Washington, Barry was responsible for turning the District of Columbia from a small sleepy Southern town into a real city. When he was elected in 1978, the city still had visible and invisible vestiges of the 1968 riots. Barry began the building of a vibrant downtown and was responsible for the Reeves Center, the municipal building that began the rebirth of the U Street corridor. Barry was reelected in 1982 and 1986 without much competition. But the third term was marred by womanizing, drinking and drug use. Several of his top aides

were convicted of corruption. The U.S. Attorney at the time tried every way to connect Barry to the corruption but couldn’t. Then, in what some believed to be an outrageous perversion of power, he set up the sting in which Barry was caught smoking crack cocaine. After all that, Barry was convicted of only a misdemeanor charge but received a six-month jail term. Sharon Pratt Kelly had been elected mayor in 1990 with the support of countless editorials in the Washington Post. Vowing to “sweep the city clean” she instead oversaw the demise of the city’s finances. After getting out of jail, Barry ran for Council in 1992 and won the Ward 8 seat. Then to the surprise of many ran and won his fourth term as mayor in 1994 with nearly 56 percent of the vote. Barry was magnanimous to many like me who didn’t support him in that race and continued to work with us on a host of issues we cared about. In 2004, Barry ran again in Ward 8 for Council and won. He held the seat until his death. Marion Barry’s statue on Pennsylvania Avenue is appropriate as he and the District of Columbia will forever be linked in history. Barry will be remembered for all the good things he did and for all those families who have a better life because of him.


The woman behind the Rainbow Flag Lynn Segerblom, James McNamara and Gilbert Baker co-created the LGBT symbol By LYNN SEGERBLOM I taught myself to dye and hand paint fabrics in high school. I experimented with dyes, paints, wax, gutta resist, rubber bands and woodblocks to make designs on fabric and on clothing. I moved to San Francisco when I was 18 and dyeing and sewing became my job. I made colorful things to sell. Then I got into dyeing yards and yards of silk for designer Lea Ditson. I joined “The Angels of Light Theater Company” and one of their communal houses was right by the Gay Community Center at 330 Grove St. At one point, Gilbert Baker and I were roommates. Back then I did not know my sexuality. I had a girlfriend but later realized I was heterosexual with extremely strong feelings for LGBT rights. But all my friends were LGBT and we were all experimenting. Mostly we just cared about art and found prejudiced people irritating. Anyway – I rented a room at the Center in which I could do my dyeing. I had a few clients

who wanted my clothes. The Center had no water heater so I had to heat the water up in big canning pots and then mix it with the cold water in giant trashcans—dye-vats. And there was no washer or dryer so I had to rinse by hand then put the cloth in trash bags and run to the Laundromat. It was work. Well, in 1978 there was going to be a Gay Parade and the Gay Parade Committee needed decorations. Originally we were going to decorate City Hall with bunting, but our plans changed when we were offered the Civic Center flagpoles and the two large poles at UN Plaza on Market St. Lee-Lee Mentley, who ran the Top Floor Gallery at 330 Grove and founded the Artist Coalition, helped us buy art supplies after the Committee gave us money. We were excited! I had made flags before for a sailboat club in Sausalito. I knew where to buy white cotton muslin fabric, where to get dyes in bulk, grommets, threads, etc. Gilbert, James McNamara and I brought our sewing machines, irons and ironing boards to the Center and we bought trashcans. The smaller flags along the reflectingpool each needed an artist to dye-paint and sew them. Then there were the two big flags on Market Street—James and I said we’d do those, with James supervising the sewers.

James went to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City and was amazing with sewing, cutting, constructing. He taught Gilbert how to sew in the early 1970s. Now, what to put on them? I’m sure we all had a meeting about this but I was “the Rainbow Faerie” so I wanted them to be rainbow colored flags. We all agreed. I decided the sequence of colors would be reversed on the two big flags: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, aqua blue, royal blue, violet on one. The other one would start with violet then royal blue, etc. I dyed each strip by hand—and I decided mine would have stars in the corner, like the American flag. This meant I had to cut two sets of matching woodblock cut like stars, varnished, glued and c-clamped to the white cloth that was folded in a special pattern to make “repeating stars in a circle.” I was not sure it would work but thank the heavens it did! One more thing about the “stars and stripes” rainbow flag—it has a lamé star stitched to the aqua stripe, silver lamé on one side, gold lamé on the other side. Just a touch of “glitter.” We prewashed the fabric, dyed it all by hand and rinsed it all by hand on the roof of 330 Grove and then dashed off to the Laundromat. Then we ironed all of it—pinning, working

out what went where. Future documentarian Glenne McElhinney was there as a volunteer. James sewed all the strips together for the big flags but a lot of volunteers showed up to help us, thank god, we needed them! It was a big job. We were worried about finishing on time. We had a test-run day before the parade. Someone had a truck to put them in and someone else had the keys to the flagpoles. Would it all work? Somehow it did. On June 25, 1978, all the flags for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade were beautiful—the reflecting pool flags and the two big rainbow flags. James was also a photographer and took great photos of what we did. Thank heavens his close friend Paul Langlotz kept them all. Gilbert is usually given all the credit for creating the Rainbow Flag—but really it took three flag makers, the artists from the Eureka/Noe Valley Artist Coalition, (founded by Harvey Milk, Scotty Smith and Lee Mentley), the Parade Committee and countless volunteers to create all the color that made the Rainbow Flag stick in people’s minds that Gay Freedom Day. I know it sounds corny but I believe in the power of color—rainbow color—to heal people. I’m still a believer today.


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NICK ROBINSON, left, with director GREG BERLANTI on the set of ‘Love, Simon.’ PHOTO COURTESY THE KARPEL GROUP

The Berlanti touch Busy gay director juggles superhero series with dramedy ‘Love, Simon’ By BRIAN T. CARNEY By any measure, gay writer, director and producer Greg Berlanti has had an amazing career so far. Over the last 20 years, he’s been involved in the creation and development of several iconic movies and television series, many of which have featured prominent LGBT characters. Now he’s about to launch a very personal project, a big screen gay romance called “Love, Simon.” The 45-year-old Berlanti was born in Rye, N.Y. and studied playwriting at Northwestern University. His first gig in Hollywood (1998-2002) was working as writer and then producer of the WB’s popular teen drama “Dawson’s Creek.” The cast of the show included Kerr Smith who played one of the first openly gay teens on television. In the 1998 episode entitled “True Love,” Jack’s kiss with Ethan (Adam Kaufman) was the first-ever gay male kiss on prime time television.

Following his success with “Dawson’s Creek,” Berlanti went on to create two more successful series for the WB: “Everwood” (2002-2006) and “Jack and Bobby” (2004-2005). The final season of “Everwood” featured the comingout story of piano prodigy Kyle Hunter (played by Steven R. McQueen). After his success at the WB, Berlanti moved to ABC to launch the series “Brothers and Sisters.” Written by gay playwright Jon Robin Baitz, the show explored the life of Nora Walker (Sally Field), matriarch of the Walker clan following the sudden death of her husband. Gay son Kevin (played by Matthew Rhys) helps his mother tend his siblings while he sorted out his own onagain, off-again relationship with Scotty Wandell (Luke MacFarlane). In 2007, Berlanti created “Dirty Sexy

Money” about a New York lawyer (Peter Krause) and his rich New York City clients for ABC. Berlanti cast trans actress Candis Cayne as Carmella Rainer, a trans woman having an affair with married New York Attorney General Patrick Darling (William Baldwin). This made Cayne the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character on primetime TV. Meanwhile, Berlanti began to explore his interest in filmmaking. In 2000, he wrote and directed “The Broken Hearts Club: a Romantic Comedy,” a heartwarming movie that has become a perennial gay favorite. Set in West Hollywood, the film is centered on a bar owned by Jack (John Mahoney) and the group of friends who frequent the bar and play on Jack’s softball team. Based on Berlanti’s friends at the time, the cast was filled with rising stars including Timothy

Olyphant, Dean Cain, Zach Braff, Matt McGrath, Andrew Keegan and Billy Porter. Movies were also Berlanti’s introduction to the DC Extended Universe with which he is now closely associated. In 2011, he co-wrote and co-produced “Green Lantern” starring Ryan Reynolds as the title character. Although the movie was neither a critical nor financial success, a reboot of the franchise is in development. Since then, Berlanti has developed a highly successful and lucrative collaboration with DC Comics and the CW network. GLAAD and other LGBT media watchdogs have frequently praised Berlanti’s work with the DC Extended Universe for its inclusion of so many LGBT actors and characters. Since 2012, Berlanti has been producing “Arrow.” He’s also involved CONTINUES ON PAGE 33


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Q U E E RY : 2 0 Q U E ST I O N S F O R I SA A C BE LF E R

ISAAC BELFER How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came out to myself and the world when I was 27. After years of thinking that I just hadn’t met the right girl, I finally realized that no, that wasn’t the problem. Once I was ready to come out, my family and friends were unequivocally supportive and I am very grateful for that.


By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com For many LGBT Jews, the Passover themes of liberation and standing up for the oppressed resonate on multiple levels. “Because of our historical experience being strangers in other peoples’ lands, we should stand up for those in our own society who are vulnerable and need our support,” says Isaac Belfer, director of community affairs on the board of Bet Mishpachah. “Today when the rights and basic human dignity of many vulnerable members of our society are being threatened, we have an obligation to resist by standing up on their behalf.” That all ties into the ethos of “Reflections on Resistance: a Decade of the National Rainbow Seder,” slated for Sunday, March 18 at 5 p.m. at the HRC building (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.). This year, Bet Mishpachah, a local, LGBT-affirming synagogue is joining Edlavitch D.C.-JCC GLOE and Israeli House Washington for the event. Abby Stein, the first openly trans woman to be ordained by an Orthodox institution, will lead the Seder. Details at thejdc. convio.net or look for the event on Facebook. Belfer says the Washington-area LGBT Jewish community is “large, diverse and dynamic.” He’s been at Bet Mish for a few years but has stepped up his involvement in recent months. Find out more at betmish.org. Belfer works by day as a patent litigation associate at a law firm. The 31-yearold Palo Alto, Calif., native came to Washington three-and-a-half years ago for work. He lives in Logan Circle and is single. Belfer enjoys reading, running, bridge, movies, theater, restaurants and classical music in his free time.


Who’s your LGBT hero? My heroes are the generations of LGBT people who came before us, whose persistence and sacrifice paved the way for the tremendous progress we’ve made in the last 15 years. What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? Weather permitting, I’m a fan of outdoor patios and roof decks. The Trade patio is a recent favorite. Describe your dream wedding. In my dream wedding, I would be surrounded by family and close friends. That’s what matters. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? I think every child should have a real opportunity to pursue his/her/their dreams. A big part of that is providing excellent public education and I have the highest respect for teachers who dedicate their careers to helping their students succeed. For educational opportunity to be real, though, we need to make progress on many other critical social issues, such as housing, health care and a living wage. What historical outcome would you change? The Holocaust What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? The Broadway opening of “Dear Evan Hansen.” What a spectacular show! On what do you insist? Honesty What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? Probably wishing a friend happy birthday on Facebook. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “Reflections on a Deliberate Life” If science discovered a way to change

sexual orientation, what would you do? Advocate for using the medical breakthroughs underlying that discovery to do something that actually benefits humanity, like curing cancer. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I’m not sure. But even with my uncertainty, I feel at home in the Jewish tradition, which encourages the questioning of everything, including the nature of the divine. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Listen to people from all parts of the diverse LGBT community. We’ve made tremendous progress over the past several years, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve full acceptance of and appreciation for the full range of queer identities. What would you walk across hot coals for? My family. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That gay guys all present themselves in a particular way. We’re a hugely diverse group and there’s no one “gay” way of talking, walking or anything else. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Call Me By Your Name” What’s the most overrated social custom? With smartphones always at hand, many people seem to think they need to be consuming some sort of media at all times. I like my iPhone as much as the next guy, but sometimes it’s nice to take time just to think. What trophy or prize do you most covet? None. I’d like to achieve professional success in some form, but I don’t need a prize to tell me when I’ve gotten there. What do you wish you’d known at 18? Not to worry about what others think of me. Why Washington? People here are engaged with politics and what’s going on in the world, which is my kind of culture. This city is also a great place to practice law, with a huge variety of practice areas and outstanding colleagues to learn from.



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The water beckons


Swimming tough to shake off for Aquatics members By KEVIN MAJOROS

D.C. newbies often don’t realize our local LGBT sports leagues are equally welcoming to straight folks and varied skill levels. D.C. Aquatics members Dana Connors, who’s gay, and Julian Caballero, straight, are perfect examples. Boasting everything from beginning swimmers to Olympians, D.C. Aquatics is a dynamic team that offers structured, coached practices year around, six days a week. The coaching staff guides the swimmers on their path to either fitness or competition in U.S. Masters Swimming. Team captain Connors describes his childhood in Corkscrew, Fla., as the typical gay kid story. He was not athletic and always felt different from other kids. He found exhilaration from horse training and learning to jump with horses at his grandmother’s house in Cape Cod. At his brother’s urging, he joined the cross country team in high school and became addicted to daily running. That led to him completing a few triathlons before he graduated. In the years that followed, his life has taken him all over the world with sports being a constant companion. “My sports journey was born out of ignorance, propelled by addiction and maintained by a desire for health and fitness,” Connors says. “It’s not about competition. Sports fuels my spiritual, mental and physical health. One of the things I love about D.C. Aquatics is that we are a mix of people who don’t have the same end goals.” Connors spent four years at the University of Florida on the triathlon team where his coach encouraged him to sign up for U.S. Masters Swimming. After college were stints in France and Holland where he completed marathons, continued to swim and went to grad school. The Fulbright Program next took him to Korea. He eventually landed a job with a biotech company in Annapolis before moving to the Shenandoah Valley where he started a bluegrass band. Connors had been playing all along with orchestras and symphonies, but his proficiencies in violin, fiddle, mandolin and guitar led him to the banjo. The first thing that he did when he moved to D.C. in 2012 was to join D.C. Aquatics. He now works at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health where he runs a biomarker and cancer portfolio. He also plays locally in the band the October Sessions. While he competes a few times a year with D.C. Aquatics, Connors likes to focus on other aspects of what sports mean to him. “Masters swimming does a great job of getting all types of people into the water

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JULIAN CABALLERO, left, and DANA CONNORS, members of D.C. Aquatics.

together. I have trained in the same lane as Olympians, but also with swimmers who are just getting started,” Connors says. “I have very few friends who are not on this team. These swimmers are my teammates, my family and my friends.” Finding out what a sport really means to you happens when work commitments and life in general prevent you from pursuing it. Julian Caballero has stopped and started swimming multiple times and in each instance, was drawn back into the sport. Growing up in Bogotá, Colombia meant that soccer was the overwhelming sport of choice for most children. Caballero played through his youth and then switched over to karate before swim lessons led to competitive swimming at 13. Economic reasons ended his competitive swimming, but he picked it up again on the club team while attending the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. After completing his master’s degree, he was left with no options for competitive swimming. There were no spaces in Bogotá for adults to swim. An internship with Inter-American Development Bank brought him to D.C. in 2003. He had studied English but had to start taking night classes to improve his skills. Once again, swimming was put on hold. Caballero left D.C. to pursue his Ph.D. in economics at University of California, Santa Cruz and found himself in a swimming hotbed. “I started swimming with a masters team there and it was outdoor training, all year long,” Caballero says. “I had been running and going to the gym all along, but swimming is different. I realized how much I was missing it.” He returned to the D.C. area with his wife in 2011 to work as the lead economist for IDB Invest who provide funding to private enterprises in Latin America. His new job and married life in Arlington kept him from finding a team that worked with his schedule. He fit in lap swimming on his own whenever he could and completed a couple triathlons. ■ CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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This Week in the Arts provided by CultureCapital.com DANCE Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan: Formosa. Mar 9. GMU Center for the Arts. cfa.gmu.edu. Dahlak Brathwaite. Mar 9-Mar 10. Dance Place. danceplace.org. Dance Salons. Thru Mar 17. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian. npg.si.edu.


Motown: Hitsville U.S.A. Cabaret Mar 13-Mar 25. Signature Theatre. sigtheatre.org.

With Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and The Supremes as just a few of the artists to come out of Motown, no other record company has had such an enormous impact on popular music and culture. Groove to the Motown sound with hits such as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “My Girl,” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.”

“S” by Circa Mar 12. Strathmore. strathmore.org.

Circa’s first performance at Strathmore will see seven talented acrobats fly, leap, and contort their way through a breathtaking spectacle that must be seen to be believed.

Don Carlo Thru Mar 17. Washington National Opera. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org.

Family ties fray and unravel in Verdi’s spectacle of forbidden passion, political intrigue, and shattering betrayal set at the height of the Spanish Empire.

Wind and Sky Thru Mar 31. Gallery Underground. arlingtonartistsalliance.org.

Wind and Sky is a show of selected works by Gallery Underground members exploring this timely spring theme. Also featuring ceramic artist Joanne Barrera whose work explores the technical possibilities for decorative surface treatments using underglazes, sgraffito, slip trailing and texturizing techniques. PHOTO COURTESY OF SIGNATURE THEATRE

THEATRE The Winter’s Tale. Mar 14-Apr 22. Folger Theatre. folger.edu. Ivy League of Comedy. Mar 9. BlackRock. blackrockcenter.org. Naked Girls Reading. Mar 9. The Wheel Theatre Company. Thru Mar 17. Improv Wars. Mar 12-May 21. DC Arts Center. dcartscenter.org. The Wiz. Mar 9-May 12. Ford’s Theatre. fords.org. Chicago. Mar 10-Apr 7. Keegan Theatre. keegantheatre.com. Every Brilliant Thing. Thru Mar 25. Olney Theatre Center. olneytheatre.org.

Comedy Showcase Night. Mar 10. Stand-Up Studios. standupstudios.com. The Wolves. Thru Mar 18. Studio Theatre. studiotheatre.org. Shostakovich and The Black Monk: A Russian Fantasy. Mar 11. The Barns. wolftrap.org. Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice. Thru Mar 11. Quotidian Theatre Company. quotidiantheatre.org. Becoming Dr. Ruth. Thru Mar 18. Theater J. theaterj.org. Avenue Q The Musical. Thru Apr 1. Workhouse Arts Center. workhousearts.org.

Hot Club of San Francisco. Mar 15. AIR: Drew Kid. Mar 14-Mar 28. Strathmore. strathmore.org. John Eaton: Indiana On Our Minds: The Music of Cole Porter & Hoagy Carmichael. Mar 9. Wolf Trap. The Barns. wolftrap.org. Chopteeth. Mar 9. AMP. ampbystrathmore.com. We the Women. Mar 9. National Archives. archivesfoundation.org. Gryphon Trio, Piano Trio. Mar 11. Bender JCC. benderjccgw.org. Jason Marsalis and the 21st Century Trad Band. Mar 9. Dervish. Mar 11. BlackRock. blackrockcenter.org. The American Songbook. Mar 10-Mar 11. Capitol Hill Chorale. Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church. capitolhillchorale.org. Russian String Orchestra. Mar 11. GMU Center for the Arts. cfa.gmu.edu. Madrigals Meet Minimalism PopUp Party with The Washington Chorus. Mar 9. The Washington Chorus. Dupont Underground. thewashingtonchorus.org. Deepak Ram. Mar 9. Gandhi Memorial Center. gandhimemorialcenter.org. Global Sounds on the Hill: ilusha. Mar 9. Hill Center. hillcenterdc.org. Revels Pub Sing in Falls Church. Mar 11. Washington Revels. Ireland’s Four Provinces. revelsdc.org. Laura and Linda Benanti: The Story Goes On. Mar 9. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. The Janoska Ensemble. Mar 11. National Gallery of Art. nga.gov. American Expressions. Mar 11. Gourmet Symphony. One Eight Distilling. gourmetsymphony.org. Ragtime Concert. Mar 11. Anderson House. societyofthecincinnati.org. The Irish Tenors. Mar 10. National Theatre. thenationaldc.org.

MUSEUMS Folger Shakespeare Library. Beyond Words: Book Illustration in the Age of Shakespeare. Thru Jun 3. folger.edu. National Archives. Remembering Vietnam. Thru Jan 6. archivesfoundation.org.

Dumbarton Oaks. Ancient Textiles. Thru Mar 31. doaks.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. Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings. Thru May 28. nga.gov. National Geographic. Tomb of Christ. Thru Aug 15. nglive.org. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Hard to Define: Artists’ Books from the Collection. Thru Mar 23. nmwa.org. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian. Portraits of the World: Switzerland. Thru Nov 12. npg.si.edu.

GALLERIES Strathmore. Up in the Air. Mar 10-Apr 29. strathmore.org. gallery neptune & brown. (Inside) Out: New Work by Erick Johnson. Mar 10-Apr 14. galleryneptunebrown.com. Glen Echo Park. Dorothy Fall. Thru Mar 25. glenechopark.org. Goethe-Institut. Early UFA Film Posters. Thru Apr 30. goethe.de. Hill Center. Viewfinders: 8 Photographers. Thru Apr 29. hillcenterdc.org. The Art League. Landscape. Thru Mar 31. theartleague.org. Waverly Street Gallery. Highlighting the Life I Live. Thru Apr 7. waverlystreetgallery.com. Woodlawn and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House. Thru Mar 31. woodlawnpopeleighey.org. Zenith Gallery. Light Up Your HeART. Thru Mar 24. zenithgallery.com. DC Arts Center. Letters to MOM. Mar 9-Apr 8. dcartscenter.org.

AND MORE… WIFV. The Locavore Film Series Presents FROM THE BACK OF THE ROOM. Mar 14. Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. wifv.org. Folger Theatre. Stage Director Talk: The Winter’s Tale. Mar 15. Folger Shakespeare Library. folger.edu. Alliance Française. La Nuit de la Poésie. Mar 9. francedc.org. Hill Center. The Art of French Cooking with Chef Gérard Pangaud. Mar 10. Crossing Borders: Sushi Rolling. Mar 14. hillcenterdc.org. Bender JCC. Multifaith Film Festival: An Act of Defiance. Mar 9. Precious Life. Mar 11. benderjccgw.org. National Geographic. Environmental Film Festival: Opening Night Event. Mar 15. dceff.org.



Suzanne Ciani M A R C H 09, 2018 • 27


Imbuing empathy Classic Twain tale gets Bollywood makeover at Imagination By PATRICK FOLLIARD Lookalikes swapping identities is a tried-and-true plotline. Imaginations are reliably fired by accounts of peasants donning jeweled crowns or bumpkins slipping into city cousins’ slicker duds. Typically in these stories after having experienced the highlife, the more relatable character returns to hearth and — be it ever so humble — home. With “The Princess & the Pauper: A Bollywood Tale,” Imagination Stage presents a new musical inspired by Bollywood and adapted from the Mark Twain classic. But this doppelganger story is moved to long-ago India and its doubles are female: the unhappy Princess Razia (a wonderfully entitled Anjna Swaminathan) and Rani (Alexandra Palting), the daughter of an impoverished seamstress. Penned by playwright Anu Yadav and staged by Janet Stanford, the fun and folklore-filled adventure with a social conscience and Bollywood beat, unfolds clearly and like so much Bombay cinema, its actors regularly break out into song (compliments of mononynous composer Aks). The score ranges from ballads to boisterous musical numbers performed by the entire five-person, delightfully committed cast. Yadav’s play was commissioned as part of Imagination Stage’s ongoing effort to create new work for underrepresented part of the community, in this case South Asians. Shy Rani lives meagerly with her devoted, hardworking mother Hema (Sarah Corey) and pesky, consumptive little sister Zoya (Nora Achrati). But despite strained circumstances, this family is preternaturally perky. When the larder is bare, they get a real kick out of pretending to eat imaginary royal mangoes. Yet beneath her sunny disposition, Rani knows it’s not right for the people to go without while a parasitic ruling class enjoys plenty. Her feelings are shared by handsome young family friend Nassim (Jordan Moral). Meanwhile, over at the palace, Princess Razia is generally miserable. Spoiled, willful and cranky, Razia lives lavishly under the watch of her loyal servant Fatima (Emily Madden), and though wanting for nothing, she still longs to find freedom moving among commoners beyond the palace walls. By chance, Rani and Razia meet in the


From left are ALEXANDRA PALTING, JIMMY MAVRIKES and JORDAN MORAL in ‘The Princess & the Pauper.’

fabled royal mango garden. Stunned by their mutual resemblance, Razia persuades Rani to trade clothes and lives. And so, the adventure begins with all the ensuing laughs and lessons associated with each young woman encountering a new word to which she is both unsuited and unfamiliar. It’s a course in inequities and how the other half lives. Villainy comes in the vainglorious form of the Wazir, a high-ranking politico (played with campy relish by out actor Jimmy Mavrikes) who with the help of a mesmerizing jewel, connives to steal the late Sultan’s throne away from the young Princess. Mavrikes is poised to star opposite Lukas James Miller in Signature Theatre’s upcoming “Girlfriend,” a musical about young same-sex love. Throughout the two-act show, the cast interacts with the population of the Sultanate (i.e. the audience) asking us to help with the harvest, chant for the freedom of the wrongly imprisoned and ultimately to repeat the Princess’s revered late mother’s slogan: “In the divine our hearts entwine!” It’s a good-looking production with a first-rate design team. Emily Lotz creates an exotic, ancient locale using traditional Indian architecture comprised of graceful arches and elegant latticework strikingly lit by Christopher Brusberg. Kristen P. Ahern’s costumes are colorful and transporting. And it all ends with a delightful twist. ‘THE PRINCESS & THE PAUPER – A BOLLYWOOD TALE’ Through March 18 Imagination Stage 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda $10 and up Recommended for ages 5 and up Imaginationstage.org

NOW THRU MARCH 19 MUSIC / DANCE / FILM / DIALOGUE Be a part of today’s art—and tomorrow’s transformation.

For a full listing of events, plug in at direct-current.org


Orange Grove Dance

Anthracite Fields

TICKETS ON SALE NOW! direct-current.org 202-467-4600 / Groups 202-416-8400

For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540. David M. Rubenstein is the Presenting Underwriter of the NSO.

New Artistic Initiatives are funded in honor of Linda and Kenneth Pollin.

The NSO Music Director Chair is generously endowed by Victoria and Roger Sant.

Support for Jazz at the Kennedy Center is generously provided by Elizabeth and C. Michael Kojaian.

The Blue Series is sponsored by United Technologies Corporation.

Support for Explore the Arts is provided by The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation. DIRECT CURRENT is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.


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CA LE N D A R the Beast: Stories About Mismatched Partnerships, Odd Couples or Unlikely Alliances” at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight from 8-10 p.m. A mix of first time and seasoned storytellers will share their tales. Seating is first-come-first-served. Attendees can bring food in but no outside beverages. Tickets are $19.50. For more details, visit storydistrict.org. Republic (6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park, Md.) hosts Alegre Happy Hour, an LGBT happy hour, today from 5-7 p.m. For more information, visit republictakoma.com. The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts a transgender support group tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. All are welcome regardless of gender, orientation or status. Partners, family and allies are also invited. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

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

TODAY Comedian Randy Rainbow performs at Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $30-37. For more details, visit warnertheatredc.com. HybridNine hosts Military Ball at Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) tonight from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. DJ Scott Howard will spin tracks. Military gear is encouraged. Clothing check available. There will be go-go cadets. Cover is $5 or free entry with valid military ID. For more information, visit greenlanterndc.com. Gamma D.C., a support group for men in mixed-orientation relationships, meets at Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave., N.W.) tonight from 7:30-9:30 p.m. The group is for men who are attracted to men but are currently, or were at one point, in relationships with women. For more information, visit gammaindc.org. Women in Their 20s, a social discussion group for LBT and all women interested in women, meets tonight at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) from 8-9:30 p.m. All welcome to join. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

The Lambda Bridge Club meets tonight 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 703407-6540. Big Gay Book Group meets at Trio Bistro Restaurant (1537 17th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss “Call Me By Your Name” by Andre Aciman. Newcomers welcome. For more details, visit biggaybookgroup.com or email biggaybookgroup@hotmail.com.



Lesbian singer/songwriter Crys Matthews performs at Pearl Street Warehouse (33 Pearl St., S.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. Echo Bloom opens the show. Tickets are $15. This is an all-ages show but guests under 21 must be accompanied by a parent. For more details, visit crysmatthews.com. Washington D.C. History & Culture presents a guided tour of the First Ladies exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (1300 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) today from 10 a.m.-noon. The exhibit includes gowns worn by Jacqueline Kennedy, Lou Hoover, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and more. Robert Kelleman, the founder of Washington D.C. History & Culture, will guide the tour. For more information, visit facebook.com/dchistoryandculture. Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Mixtape, a gay dance party, tonight from 11 p.m.-3 a.m. DJ Matt Bailer, DJ Tezrah and DJ Chaotic will spin a mix of electropop, indie-dance and house music. Cover is $15 from 10 p.m.-midnight and $12 after midnight. Doors open at 10 p.m. For more details, visit towndc.com. Distrkt C hosts Double Trouble, a dance party, at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) tonight from 10 p.m.6 a.m. DJ Tracy Young and DJ Alyson Calagna will spin tracks. One Magical

The Washington Design Center (1099 14th St., N.W.) hosts its Spring Market today from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. There will be celebrity designers, new product launches, educational workshops and open houses. Scheduled events include a discussion with HGTV designer star Vern Yip at 11 a.m., a Q&A with Gretchen Everett and Cocktails and Conversation with Decorative Furnishings Association President Chad Stark. Admission is free but registration is required. For more details, visit designcenterdc.com. Lesbians Who Tech hosts a meet up at Gaslight Tavern D.C. (2012 9th St., N.W.) tonight from 6-9 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/ lesbianswhotech. The National Cherry Blossom Festival hosts its Pink Tie Party at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) tonight from 7-11 p.m. There will be spring-inspired food and drink from local restaurants, a silent auction, music from DJ Shelly and performances from DC pop duo NUEX and live painter Simon Bull. Guests are encouraged to wear pink. General admission tickets are $225. Tickets for guests ages 21-30 are $100. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit nationalcherryblosomfestival.org.



CRYS MATTHEWS performs at Pearl Street Warehouse on Saturday night.

Weekend, an LGBT pride event, will also be giving away one pair of passes for its June event. Tickets are $30. For more information, visit distrktc.com. WERQ Syn kicks off Cherry 2018, a dance charity event, at L8 Lounge (727 15th St., N.W.) tonight from 10 p.m.-4 a.m. DJ Power Infiniti will play music. No dress code. Tickets are $20. For more details, search “WERQ Syn” on Facebook.

SUNDAY, MARCH 11 The LoveForward Campaign hosts its first ever Stand Up, Speak Out AntiBullying rally at Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School (4301 13th St., N.W.) today from noon-4 p.m. There will be guest speakers, live entertainment, vendors, door prizes, special guests and more. Admission is free. For more details, search “LoveForward Campaign” on Facebook. Nellies Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts a drag brunch today with shows at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. For more

information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

MONDAY, MARCH 12 TheatreWashington presents Showtunes & Cocktails at Beacon Bar & Grill (1615 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) tonight from 7-10 p.m. Maestro Glenn Pearson will perform on the piano accompanied by Stephen Russell Murray on vocals. Admission is pay-what-you-can. For more information, visit theatrewashington.org. Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts the fifth annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic tonight from 7:30-10:30 p.m. The competition is the largest LGBT bartender competition, Guests can sample all cocktails and vote on their favorites. Drag performer Ba’Naka will host the event. Ba’Naka and Sasha Adams will perform. No cover but RSVP is required. For more details, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

TUESDAY, MARCH 13 Story District presents “Beauty &



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Oscar’s ‘Fantastic’ night makes trans history LGBT representation stronger at 90th annual Academy Awards By BRIAN T. CARNEY Despite a bloated presentation that clocked in at almost four hours, the telecast of the 90th Academy Awards had some spectacular moments, especially for LGBT movie fans. The big moment came when “A Fantastic Woman” won the award for Best Foreign Language Film, the first Oscar win for he country of Chile. Directed by Sebastián Leilo, the movie centers on Marina Vidal (Daniela Vega), a trans woman who is kicked out of her apartment when her boyfriend suddenly dies. Vega’s moving performance marked a cinematic milestone — a trans woman being payed by a trans actress in a mainstream movie. The award was presented by veteran actress and LGBT icon Rita Moreno (now appearing in the Netflix reboot of the classic sitcom “One Day at a Time” which now features a lesbian character and is set in a Cuban-American household). In the most fabulous entrance of the evening, Moreno strutted to the microphone wearing the same dress she wore to accept her Academy Award for “West Side Story.” Vega made even more cinematic history when she became the first openly trans person to be a presenter on the Oscar stage (appropriately enough, she introduced Sufjan Steven’s performance of his song “The Mystery of Love” from “Call Me By Your Name”). She acknowledged the importance of her appearance on the Oscar stage, saying, “Thank you so much for this moment.” She also encouraged the audience to “open your heart to love.” Sadly, the trans director Yance Ford did not win for his documentary “Strong Island.” Openly gay screenwriter James Ivory (“Maurice”) also made Oscar history when he accepted the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name,” the only award for the film. The 89-year old Ivory became the oldest person to win an Academy Award. In a touching speech he mentioned his late collaborators Ismail Merchant (who was also his life partner) and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. In another noteworthy development, after Disney’s “Coco” won the award for Best Animated Feature, no one commented when two members of the creative team (producer Darla K. Anderson and co-writer and co-director Adrian Molina) thanked their same-sex


Actress DANIELA VEGA introduces Sufjan Stevens at the Academy Awards Sunday night.

spouses. In the past, such declarations of LGBT love would have made headlines. In addition, “Coco” director Lee Unkrich underscored a major theme of the evening when he said, “Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters! Perhaps this means Tio Oscar and Tio Felipe were a gay couple after all. “Coco’s” lovely ballad “Remember Me” took home the Oscar for Best Original Song, beating out the power ballad “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” written by the gay-straight duo of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. During the ceremony, “This Is Me” (which will undoubtedly be performed at every Pride celebration this summer) was given a powerhouse performance by cast member Keala Settle. Settle also appeared in a commercial for Walmart that was actually part of the ceremony. “The Shape of Water,” a queer celebration of community and resistance,

was nominated for 13 Oscars (the most nominations this year) and won four: Best Picture, Best Director (Guillermo del Toro), Best Score for Alexandre Desplat and Best Production Design. Richard Jenkins, who played the heroine’s nextdoor neighbor and gay best friend did not win, nor did his co-stars Octavia Spencer and Sally Hawkins. While the creative team behind “The Shape of Water” gathered the most statues, no movie dominated the evening. “Dunkirk,” “The Darkest Hour” and “Blade Runner 2049” won several of the design awards (and Gary Oldman won Best Actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour”). Not surprisingly, Mark Bridges won Best Costume Design for his sumptuous couture designs in “Phantom Thread.” And in an unexpected moment, a very surprised Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay for his powerful horror film, “Get Out.”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” won acting honors for Frances McDormand (Best Actress) and Sam Rockwell (Best Supporting Actor). McDormand’s acceptance speech was a call to action. She asked all the women in the audience to stand and be recognized and she called on everyone to demand “inclusion riders” in their contracts. (Inclusion riders are clauses that require that film crews meet minimum diversity standards to retain the services of the artist.) Several major movies surprisingly went home empty-handed, including: “Lady Bird,” “The Post” and “Mudbound,” which was directed by the ground-breaking Dee Rees, an out black lesbian. In what may have been the funniest moment of the very long telecast filled with lame jokes, Mark Bridges (Best Costume Design) won the Jet Ski that host Jimmy Kimmel promised to the winner who gave the shortest acceptance speech, Bridges came in at 38 seconds.

E 180302


30 • MA R C H 09, 2018

O U T & A BO U T

Win a chance to be a Guest Ringmaster at the

Big Apple Circus!

WHEN: Saturday March 17th - 7 pm

WHERE: National Harbor 238 Waterfront Street National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD 20745


Bianca’s back!




Bianca Del Rio brings her “Blame It On Bianca” tour to the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.) for a sold-out show on Thursday, March 15 at 8 p.m. The tour is in promotion of her book “Blame It On Bianca Del Rio,” which describes Bianca as “the expert on nothing with an opinion on everything.” In the book, the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” champ gives her commentary on every day annoyances and offers honest advice. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, visit thelincolndc.com.


The ‘Wonder’ of it all




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LGBT events at National City A group for LGBT parishioners at National City Christian Church has two ADVERTISER SIGNATURE By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contract obligations with the March washingtonevents. blade newspaper. This includes but is not limited to placement, payment and insertion schedule. Worshipers will meet for brunch after the 11 a.m. service on Sunday, March 11 at ChurchKey (1337 14th St., N.W.) on the upper level. RSVP to Minister of Music Mike McMahon at mmcmahon@nationalcitycc.org if you plan to attend. Rev. Stephen Gentle will continue his Bible study on the book of Mark on Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. in the church’s downstairs music suite. The church also has mid-day recitals on its world-famous organ most Fridays at 12:15 p.m. that are free. The LGBT-affirming church is located at 5 Thomas Circle. Details at nationalcitycc.org.

Lynda Carter performs “Red, Rock & Blues” at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) on Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m. Carter, iconic to gays for her ‘70s role on TV’s “Wonder Woman,” will sing a mix of classic standards, jazz, country, blues, covers and original songs. She will be accompanied by her backing band and is known for her playful, rollicking annual D.C. (and for her hometown) appearances. Tickets range from $55-110. For more information, visit kennedycenter.org.

Time to ‘Make America Gay Again’ The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents “Make America Gay Again” at the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.) on Saturday, March 17 at 4 p.m. The chorus will celebrate the diversity of the United States in this performance that will include songs such as “We Are One,” “Beautiful City” and “If We Only Have Love.” Tickets range from $25-65. Doors open at 3 p.m. For more details, visit gmcw.org.


M A R C H 09, 2018 • 31

Lover or loser? Live-in lesbian resents being shoved back in the closet

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

HI MICHAEL, Based on our vibe, I asked a gal I met out to dinner. She told me that she was dating a man but added that she’d been attracted to women in the past. Soon, she left her boyfriend and we started dating. I spend most of my time (including nights) at her place. This is problematic because her family lives nearby and frequently come over without notice. She has shared how they engrained in her the importance of marrying a man and she is battling internally. So when I first started staying over, I would have to hide in closets when her family would show up unexpectedly so that I wouldn’t be seen. I’m still hiding some of the time because she does not want her family to see how often I am there; but I am hiding less, because I don’t like hiding. And once, she even took me over to meet them briefly. So now her family knows I am her “friend,” knows my name and that I am a potential roommate, as we are talking about moving in together. We have a kitten, but she denied me the opportunity to contribute half to purchasing her in case we ever broke up. My girlfriend has told her sister and a few friends about us. Regarding her parents, she tells me to trust her, be patient and supportive, that she will tell them but needs time. But how much time is enough time? She means everything to me and has been the first person I have been with that I truly feel is the one, but I have doubt that she feels the same way because she is not honest about who I am to her. MICHAEL REPLIES: This letter is all about your girlfriend and the ways in which you think she has

been making your life difficult and painful. You are focusing on the wrong person. You knew from the get-go what you were getting into, given that she told you when you met that she was dating a man. Yet you chose to pursue her. Since then, you’ve agreed to literally hide in the closet so that her family won’t suspect that she’s in a relationship with you. You’ve even tolerated her buying a kitten without your contribution so that ownership will be clearly hers if you break up. And you’ve continued to stay in this relationship. The answer isn’t for you to figure out how long you can wait for your girlfriend to change, it’s to figure out why this situation has been so alluring from the beginning and to decide if you really want anything different than feeling like the helpless victim of your closeted girlfriend. While you report that you’re hiding less frequently, you still are getting into that closet. I wonder what you’re looking for, and what you feel you deserve. What makes you want to stick around in a relationship where you are largely hidden away and downplayed? What are your own feelings about being gay? Does it somehow work for you to be in a down-low relationship? Is your own family less than approving of your sexual orientation? Do they even know? If the gay issue is thorny for you, as I suspect it is, you have some work to do on yourself before you can have a healthy relationship with another woman. Another important question: What has contributed to you accepting such low standards for a relationship? I wonder what your past relationships were like. Open and loving? Or somehow seeming like a challenge to get the other person to be interested in you or really treat you as a partner? You don’t seem to feel you deserve much, despite your being offended by your girlfriend’s behavior. You would do yourself a favor to figure out why this is. Not incidentally, I am wondering what about your girlfriend makes you feel that she is “the one.” She’s making it loud and clear where she stands, and it isn’t in a visible, committed relationship with you. If you want something different from what you have, don’t count on your girlfriend changing. True, most everyone does change over time, but we don’t get to dictate the changes others make. Nor can we make them adhere to a schedule So take your focus off your girlfriend and put your focus on yourself. You’ve got some work to do if you don’t want to continue to play the victim in this or any other relationship.

Mark Morris Dance Group Mark Morris, Artistic Director

Silkroad Ensemble with Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova

Layla and Majnun D.C. premiere (Hajibeyli, arr. by Gandelsman, Jacobsen, and Qasimov/Morris)

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The presentation of Layla and Majnun was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Photo by Susana Millman



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Director calls ’Simon’ script ‘timely and timeless’ CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23

with several other superhero series that are still on the air, including “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Black Lightning.” He also produces “Riverdale,” based on updated versions of the characters from the Archie comics. With all these series underway (and even more on their way), Berlanti set a record for having 10 different scripted television series planned to air in the 2017-2018 television season on various networks and digital platforms. In the midst of all this, Berlanti still found time to get married. Last Dec. 2, Berlanti exchanged vows with Robbie Rogers who made history by coming out while he was a professional soccer player. Forced to retire in 2017 due to injuries, Rogers is now working as an actor and producer. Berlanti and Rogers live in Los Angeles with their son Caleb who just celebrated his second birthday. And now, Berlanti is set to release his next project, “Love, Simon,” a romantic comedy-drama slated for a U.S. release March 16. Adapted by the writing team of Isaak Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger from the award-winning book “Simon vs. the

Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli, the movie is about Simon Spier, a gay teenager who is not ready to come out of the closet. Things begin to look better when he starts an online relationship with a fellow student named “Blue,” but takes a turn for the worse when a classmate discovers the emails and blackmails him. Berlanti says the movie is “a comingout story that makes you laugh, cry and feel.” He became aware of the book when people in his office decided to pursue it, but couldn’t get the rights. “When the script was written it came my way,” Berlanti says. “I fell in love. It felt both timely and timeless. It reminded me of films that I grew up with that were about coming of age and figuring yourself out. But, it had one essential difference — this script had a gay character front and center. I had a visceral reaction to the script and I hoped that audiences would have the same reaction.” Once he had his hands on the script, Berlanti used the skills he has developed adapting comic books for the small screen. “Working with the DC Comic Universe,” he says, “I’ve learned to try and honor the DNA of the characters, but it still has to work in this new art form. There’s a


reason the character was popular to begin with and you have to get the heart of the character and extrapolate that out. … I would go back to the book all the time whether it was for a line or a moment. I just didn’t want to miss anything.” With the premiere of “Love, Simon” approaching, Berlanti says he finds himself

thinking about his first feature film, “The Broken Hearts Club.” Partially it’s because his new movie is getting the wide release that his first movie never received. But it’s also because he misses his friend, actor John Mahoney (“Frasier”) who died in February at 77. “John was a real godfather for that movie. He was the name who came on board to help us get financing. He knew I was kind of figuring out how I would pull this off and he was very supportive. I remember sitting with him in between set-ups and he was just giving me the confidence to tell that story.” As for Mahoney’s sexuality, Berlanti says, “He and I never discussed our private lives.” Of posthumous attempts to out people, Berlanti says, “I really think that Harvey Milk said it right: Every gay person has to come out. But, I do believe that everyone needs to determine their own timeline. To borrow Simon’s line from the movie, ‘I’m supposed to be the one that decides when and how and who knows, and how I get to say it, that’s supposed to be my thing.’” To borrow another of Simon’s lines, “I’m done living in a world where I don’t get to be who I am. I deserve a great love story and I want someone to share it with.”


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Something old, something new, something borrowed, something you Make sure you’re living somewhere tailored to your needs By JOSEPH HUDSON Today we are going to address the differences in process of buying older construction, whether it be a fee simple single family home, condominium, or a co-op. And we will also discuss the differences between older construction and new construction, whether it be a rowhome that now has an added floor and a roof deck, with a possible basement rental unit, or even just one of the many new condominium buildings that you see as you drive through neighborhoods like Petworth, Columbia Heights, Logan Circle, Capitol Hill or Bloomingdale. SOMETHING OLD: When buying an older home, chances are you will be using the GCAAR (Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors) or an NVAR (Northern Virginia Association of Realtors) contract. These are standard contracts that are used time and again in regional real estate transactions. As a buyer, you will choose whether to include a financing contingency or a home inspection contingency. You will then proceed with the terms of the contract if you ratify, and then will sign papers at the settlement table with a local title company and receive the keys to your condominium or home.

One advantage of buying older construction that new construction doesn’t come with is that the building has been tested and lived in. SOMETHING NEW: However, if you are buying new construction, many times the builder has a contract that they want you to use, and often prefer you to use their preferred title company or sometimes offer incentives to use their preferred lender, such as closing cost assistance or a credit. Many times, the builder contract still has language in it to protect a buyer from losing their Earnest Money Deposit, and many times the builder contract still allows the buyer to have a home inspection and write up a punch list of items for the seller to fix before the buyer takes possession of the property. SOMETHING BORROWED: Most lenders can work with their clients on helping them to buy old or new construction. If the buyer is using a VA loan, they might have to get a new construction building approved by the VA before issuing a loan in the building. Most lenders will want to see that an older building has been taking care of its maintenance responsibilities, as well as replenishing reserves for future projects, such as installing a new elevator, or repairing the roof. As we saw in the D.C. area this past weekend, a windstorm can come out of nowhere and suddenly money needs to be available to fix items that were damaged in a storm. In new construction, the condo fees for vacant

New condo buildings often have various levels of finishes that a buyer can discuss with the developer and decide what color countertop or backsplash they will be installing in the kitchen. PHOTO BY BIGSTOCK; COURTESY OF A AND N PHOTOGRAPHY

and unsold units are usually estimated and covered by the builder until enough of the building is sold and occupied that the buyers can take over paying for the community amenities, maintenance, and building up the reserves. SOMETHING YOU: What is almost always possible whether you are buying new construction or older construction is the ability to make alterations to the unit and tailor the layout, décor and features to your needs. Many older condos get bought, the kitchen wall gets blown out and then the new owner now has an open concept kitchen, which is great for entertaining guests and keeping the conversation going. New condo buildings

sometimes have various levels of finishes that a buyer can discuss with a representative from the developer and decide what color countertop or backsplash they will be installing in the kitchen, and which package of finishes they want in the master bathroom. Buying a home, whether old or new, is a great way to make sure you are living in something that is tailored just for you. JOSEPH HUDSON is a licensed Realtor in D.C., and works for the Bediz Group, which is part of Keller Williams Capital Properties. He can be contacted with real estate related questions at joseph@bediz.com or by phone at 703-5870597. Keller Williams Capital Properties, 202243-7700; 1918 18th St., N.W. Ct. Ste. 2, Washington D.C. 20009.

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