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“We’re preparing for large crowds, for road closures, and for delays,” he said. “As the mayor and the chief reiterated, if you are planning to visit the District we are excited to have you here and we encourage you to please use public transportation,” he said. Bowser, Newsham and Marootian each called on D.C. residents and visitors to go to a special website the city created to provide information about all of the All-Star related events, the location of numerous street closings, and suggestions on how best to get to and from the various events. The site can be accessed at sportscapital.dc.gov/. Others who spoke at or attended the news conference included Frank Gambino, Senior Vice President of Operations for the Washington Nationals; Marla Miller, Senior Vice President of Special Events for Major League Baseball; and Paul Weidefeld, General Manager for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. LOU CHIBBARO JR.
Blade travels to Central America to cover Trump immigration policy Mayor MURIEL BOWSER spoke Tuesday at Nationals Stadium about the city’s plans for hosting the All-Star Game. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY LOU CHIBBARO JR.
In ﬁrst, All-Star festivities to include LGBTQ pop-up D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Police Chief Peter Newsham and Department of Transportation Director Jeﬀ Marootian outlined the city’s plans for hosting Major League Baseball’s 2018 All-Star Game and its numerous related events at a news conference on Tuesday. The news conference took place at Washington Nationals Stadium, the location of MLB’s 89th All-Star Game scheduled to take place Tuesday evening, July 17. Bowser said her oﬃce and several city agencies, including the Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Transportation, known as DDOT, have been planning for the All-Star Game and its related events for more than two years. “In the nation’s capital we are used to supporting large events like this one,” she said. “We do it whether we’re welcoming the pope or having the inauguration of a president or inviting a million women to our city, we want to make sure that everybody enjoys themselves, exercises their rights and gets home safely.” Newsham said police oﬃcers, both in uniform and in plain clothes, will be deployed in greater than usual number in areas where All-Star Game related events take place, including the streets surrounding Washington Nationals Stadium. “I can’t think of a better city to host one of baseball’s most treasured games than our city of Washington, D.C.,” said Newsham. He noted that everything went exceptionally well last month when the city hosted nearly a million people who turned out for the parade and celebration of the Washington Capitals hockey team’s Stanley Cup victory. “I do not anticipate anything diﬀerent here,” he said. “At this time there are no credible threats to the nation’s capital during All-Star week where events will begin Friday and they’ll culminate with the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game on July 16 and 17.” Among the events scheduled to take place during that ﬁve-day period will be a ﬁrstof-its-kind LGBTQ Pride Baseball Pop-Up bar hosted by the Washington Blade, which this year became the ﬁrst LGBT publication to serve as an oﬃcial sponsor of MLB AllStar Week. The pop-up gathering will include a beer garden and full cash bar in a space at a building at the corner of South Capital and N Streets, S.E. that will be the future home of Walters Sports Bar. The location is directly across the street from Nationals Stadium. Aimed at serving as a safe space for LGBTQ attendees 21 and older, the pop-up will be open on Friday from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., on Saturday from noon to 3 a.m., on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. and on Monday and Tuesday from noon to 2 a.m. On Friday from 6-8 p.m. the Pride Pop-Up gathering will host the oﬃcial launch of the Blade’s 6th Annual Sports Issue. Marootian, who is one of several high-level LGBT Bowser administration appointees, said at the news conference that DDOT has been working closely with other city and regional agencies, including Metro and the Virginia Transportation Department to ensure that the large crowds can move to and from the All-Star Game events with a minimum of delays.
WASHINGTON — The Washington Blade, the country’s oldest LGBT newspaper, today announced International News Editor Michael Lavers will be in Central America, Mexico and the Southwest U.S. to report on the impact that President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy is having on LGBT migrants and immigrants. Lavers will be in the region through July 23. He will interview LGBT migrants who have been directly impacted by Trump’s policy. Lavers will also speak with activists who are providing assistance to them, and government oﬃcials. This reporting trip is part of the Blade’s multi-year project to provide in-depth coverage of LGBT issues in Latin America. Lavers over the last year has reported from Puerto Rico, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela. “It’s imperative that media outlets cover the full extent of Trump’s cruel immigration policies,” said Blade editor Kevin Naﬀ. “The Blade remains committed to ensuring LGBTQ immigrants aren’t forgotten and that their stories are also told.” “President Trump’s immigration policy has had a very real impact on the lives of LGBT people in Central America and those who live along the Mexico-U.S. border,” said Lavers. “It is more important than ever to show our readers the direct impact this policy is having on our brothers and sisters.” STAFF REPORTS
Man charged in anti-gay assault fails to show up for court hearing A D.C. Superior Court judge on Tuesday issued a bench warrant for the arrest of a D.C. man for failing to show up at a court hearing in connection with his arrest by D.C. police last month for allegedly destroying LGBT Pride decorations outside a pet grooming shop near Dupont Circle. D.C. police on June 10 charged Uduak E. Iben, 34, with one count each of destruction of property, simple assault and attempted threats to do bodily harm for allegedly assaulting one of the shop’s employees and threatening to assault another employee when they asked him to stop damaging the decorations. A police report says the assault and attempted assault took place after Iben allegedly ripped apart a rainbow colored Pride decoration hanging on the outside wall of Doggy Style Bakery, Boutique and Pet Spa at 1642 R St., N.W. A police arrest aﬃdavit says Iben allegedly stated “fuck gay people” while attacking the two employees, prompting police to list the incident as a possible anti-gay hate crime. At his arraignment on the day following his arrest, a judge released Iben on his own recognizance pending a court status hearing scheduled for July 10. Each of the charges against him is classiﬁed as a misdemeanor. The incident in which he was arrested at the pet grooming shop marked the ﬁfth time since April 15 that one or more male suspects have attacked male victims in D.C. while shouting anti-gay slurs. The latest incident at the pet spa became the second time police have made an arrest in one of the ﬁve incidents. LOU CHIBBARO JR.
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Tom Gallagher, U.S. Foreign Service officer, dies at 77 Longtime LGBT rights advocate came out publicly in 1975 By LOU CHIBBARO JR. email@example.com Tom Gallagher, who became the ﬁrst known U.S. Foreign Service oﬃcer to come out as gay in 1975 and who switched careers to become a social worker before returning to the Foreign Service in 1994, died July 8 in his hometown of Tinton Falls, N.J. from complications associated with a bacterial infection. He was 77. In a write-up of his life and career that he prepared shortly before his passing and in an earlier interview published in the TOM GALLAGHER came out in 1975. online publication Slate, he said he decided to disclose his sexual orientation at a 1975 PHOTO COURTESY MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY conference in Washington, D.C., organized by the then Gay Activists Alliance called Gays and the Federal Government. Knowing the disclosure would jeopardize his then 10-year career at the State Department and Foreign Service, he decided to come out because he became tired of having to conceal the truth of who he was, he recounted in the interview. One year later, in 1976, after he determined longstanding policies making it diﬃcult if not impossible for gays working in the Foreign Service to retain their required security clearances, he resigned and moved to California, where he began a new career as a social worker. His biographical write-up says he was born Sept. 11, 1940 in Manhattan before his family moved to New Jersey. He graduated from Holy Spirit School and Red Bank Catholic High School in Asbury Park, N.J. before entering New Jersey’s Monmouth University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1962. Five days after graduating from Monmouth he signed up as a Peace Corps volunteer and entered the ﬁrst Peace Corps group to go to Ethiopia, his biographical write-up says. After completing a Peace Corps training program at Georgetown University he and his group of volunteers were invited to the White House, where President John F. Kennedy and ﬁrst lady Jacqueline Kennedy hosted a send-oﬀ tea party. According to his write-up, upon their arrival in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Peace Corps group was welcomed by Emperor Haile Selassie, the country’s monarch and leader. A month after arriving in the city of Agordot for his assignment to teach a seventh grade history class, Gallagher recounted he heard the “ﬁrst shot” of what became the province of Eritrea’s protracted war of independence. His write-up says he “remained devoted to Eritrea and its people for the rest of his life” and “sixty years after leaving the Peace Corps Tom was still in touch with 13 of the 80 boys he taught in Agordot.” Upon returning to the U.S. he began his ﬁrst full salaried job at the White House where he worked for President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty program. It was at that time that he met Carolyn Worrell, the bright young woman also interested in foreign aﬀairs whom he married a short time later. In his Slate interview with freelance journalist Jacqui Shine he said he believed he was in love with Worrell at a time when he was struggling within himself to ﬁght what he always knew deep inside himself – that he liked men. He had “fooled around with boys” since he was a teenager growing up on the New Jersey shore, he said in the interview. Gallagher began his ﬁrst stint in the Foreign Service in 1965, with his ﬁrst overseas assignment sending him to Jidda, Saudi Arabia. Subsequent assignments took him to Nigeria and Ecuador, where he served as acting U.S. Consul General in the city of Guayaquil, becoming, at age 34, the youngest ever chief of a major U.S. diplomatic mission. He later returned to Washington where he served in various positions at the State Department headquarters before coming out at the gay conference.
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In 1970, shortly after completing his tour in Nigeria, he told his wife he wanted a divorce and arranged for the couple to stay together until Worrell found a job with a federal agency and got “settled,” he said in the Slate interview. It wasn’t until years later that he told his then ex-wife that the marriage breakup was due to his struggle with his sexual orientation, he said in the interview. Meanwhile, after resigning from the Foreign Service in 1976 he moved to California and underwent training to become a social worker. A short time later he began work in the ﬁrst of a number of positions, including a post as an emergency room social worker at UCLA Hospital in Los Angeles. He also volunteered as director of counseling programs at the Gay Community Services Center in LA. Other positions he held included supervisor for the Travelers Aid Society in San Francisco; director of a Napa County, Calif., psychiatric emergency program; and as a volunteer for AIDS programs in the state. In 1994, when President Bill Clinton removed policies preventing gays from working in the Foreign Service, Gallagher returned to his earlier career as a Foreign Service oﬃcer, his write up says. His ﬁrst assignment was that of the position of American Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain. While holding that post Gallagher helped raise $3 million for the Spanish AIDS Foundation. Following his post in Spain he was appointed as Country Oﬃcer for Eritrea and Sudan in the State Department’s Oﬃce of East African Aﬀairs. In 1999, he became head of the visa section at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, where he was credited with refusing a visa for a radical Moroccan who was linked to a terrorist organization considering a plot to spray poison on a U.S. city, according to his biographical write-up. The write-up says he next returned to Washington and worked at the State Department’s Oﬃce of Central African Aﬀairs where he served as Country Oﬃcer for the Republic of the Congo. His ﬁnal tour at the State Department was with the Oﬃce of International Health, where he served as Regional Advisor for Europe and worked on an international AIDS program. After retiring in 2005, Gallagher continued to take on short tours for the State Department including assignments at 17 embassies and consulates on ﬁve continents, the write-up says. He also taught a course on the Middle East as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Monmouth University. In 2012, during an event at the State Department celebrating the 20th anniversary of the State Department’s LGBT employee group, to which Gallagher was invited, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about Gallagher’s role in advocating for LGBT equality when he came out as a Foreign Service oﬃcer in 1975. “I don’t want any of you who are a lot younger ever to take for granted what it took for people like Tom Gallagher to pave the way for all of you,” Clinton told the gathering. “It’s not a moment to be nostalgic,” she said. “It’s a moment for us to remember and to know that all of the employees who sacriﬁced their right to be who they are were really defending your rights and the rights and freedoms of others at home and abroad.” Shine, who conducted the Slate interview, said she got to know Gallagher when she interviewed him for another story about three years ago. “I was very fond of Tom, who was very funny, sweet, and a hell of a storyteller,” she told the Washington Blade. “He was as astonished as anyone by the extraordinary turns his life took, and humbled by and grateful for all he experienced.” Gallagher is survived by his former wife, Carolyn Worrell, who is now a judge in Nevada; and his husband, Amin Dulgumoni, a senior software engineer at Goldman Sachs. Plans for a memorial were expected to be announced soon.
Mary Washington declares victory in Md. Senate race Maryland state Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) on Friday declared victory in her race against longtime state Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City) in the Senate District 43 Democratic primary. Washington defeated Conway by a 51.3-48.7 percent margin. Washington declared victory nearly two weeks after the June 26 primary because of absentee ballots that needed to be counted. Washington in a text message she sent to the Washington Blade on Friday night noted she is now ahead of Conway by 492 votes. Washington also pointed out her opponent has yet to concede. “We won,” proclaimed Washington on her campaign’s Facebook page. “Thank you everyone who believed and made this victory happen.” Washington would be the ﬁrst openly LGBT senator of color in the Maryland Senate if she were to win the general election in November. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
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Fight is on against Kavanaugh, but opponents face uphill battle Signs indicate nominee likely to be conﬁrmed to Supreme Court By CHRIS JOHNSON firstname.lastname@example.org Progressive and LGBT groups are marshaling eﬀorts to block the conﬁrmation of Brett Kavanaugh, but the odds are against them as signs indicate the nominee has a clear path to the U.S. Supreme Court. At an event in the East Room of the White House on Monday, President Trump announced he had selected Kavanaugh, who has served for 12 years as an appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, to succeed U.S. Associate Justice Kennedy on the bench. “This incredibly qualiﬁed nominee deserves a swift conﬁrmation and robust bipartisan support,” Trump said. “The rule of law is our nation’s proud heritage. It is the cornerstone of our freedom. It is what guarantees equal justice. And the Senate now has the chance to protect this glorious heritage by sending Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.” Kavanaugh’s ties to the Republican Party go back decades. In the 1990s, he assisted U.S. Special Counsel Kenneth Starr in his investigation of President Clinton over his aﬀair with Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment. Kavanaugh was also a legal counsel to the White House during the George W. Bush administration. The public record has yielded scant information on Kavanaugh’s views — legal or otherwise — on LGBT issues, although groups that support LGBT rights say his presence on the list of predetermined 25 choices coordinated by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation from which Trump said he’d choose his nominees is reason enough for the LGBT community to fear him. Why else would these right-wing groups support him and place him on that list of potential nominees if they didn’t think he would advance the conservative agenda in the courts, which would include compromising LGBT rights and undermining — if not eliminating — marriage equality? Eric Lesh, executive director of the LGBT Bar of New York, or LeGaL, said during a national call-in panel on Tuesday the support of right-wing groups for Kavanaugh speaks volumes. “These are groups that use hatred and fear-mongering to target the rights of the LGBT community and as we know, they are handpicking their federal judges,” Lesh said. When former President George W. Bush nominated Kavanaugh to the D.C.
Judge BRETT KAVANAUGH appears likely to be conﬁrmed.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS OF D.C.
Circuit in 2005, the nominee was strongly supported by the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, which vigorously opposes LGBT and abortion rights. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement Monday that support continues today upon Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. “President Trump promised a constitutionalist — someone who will call balls and strikes according to the Constitution,” Perkins said. “We trust the president that Judge Kavanaugh will ﬁt this mold as a justice. Judge Kavanaugh has a long and praiseworthy history of judging as an originalist, and we look forward to having a justice with his philosophical approach on the court.” While Kavanaugh’s record on LGBT issues is scant, he has writings from the bench and elsewhere contrary to progressive legal views. Prominent among them is a dissent he wrote in a case against “Jane Doe,” an undocumented teen in immigration detention who was barred from having an abortion. Although the D.C. Circuit ordered the U.S. government to grant the abortion, Kavanaugh disagreed, arguing “government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life.” In 2015, Kavanaugh also dissented when the D.C. Circuit refused to allow a rehearing of Priests for Life v. HHS, a case ﬁled by religious groups seeking to get out of Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Citing the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, Kavanaugh argued “the regulations substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations to take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs.” At a time when U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s inﬂuence on the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, Kavanaugh has opined that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, which has led progressives to speculate Trump chose him to get out of upcoming corruption charges. Leslie Proll, a civil rights lawyer
who advises the NAACP on judicial nominations, said Kavanaugh’s past decisions are bad news and his conﬁrmation would amount to remaking the court in the image of Trump. “He has been a strong and consistent voice for the wealthy and the powerful,” Proll said. “Over and over again, he’s ruled against civil rights, workers’ rights, consumer rights and women’s rights. We view him as a dangerous ideologue whose extreme views on civil rights would lurch the court to the far right.” Kavanaugh is nominated to the Supreme Court as a number of cases on LGBT issues are percolating and could reach the high court in the near future. Among them is litigation challenging Trump’s transgender military ban, cases seeking coverage of LGBT people under federal civil rights law and a lawsuit in which businesses are seeking religious exemptions to engage in anti-LGBT discrimination. Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in the conference call “the gravity of this nomination — both to LGBT people and our country as a whole — cannot be overstated,” predicting doom on these LGBT cases if Kavanaugh is conﬁrmed. “There’s nothing in Judge Kavanaugh’s record to suggest that he would understand the real world impact of these issues on the actual lives and wellbeing of LGBT people, or that he would be anything other than a consistent vote to deny basic freedoms to equality both to LGBT people and to other vulnerable groups,” Minter said. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has promised a conﬁrmation vote on Kavanaugh this fall, progressives have launched a #SaveSCOTUS campaign against the nominee that began with a rally at the Supreme Court Monday as Trump made his announcement. Marty Rouse, national ﬁeld director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the organization will contribute to that eﬀort by mobilizing its 3 million members against Kavanaugh, whom he called “a threat to women’s reproductive rights, a threat to aﬀordable health care and a
threat to LGBTQ equality.” “This is a White House that has made rolling back LGBTQ rights a top priority, and having another seat on the Supreme Court is a further vehicle to push that hateful agenda,” Rouse said. Rouse said the focus of the eﬀort will be in Maine and Alaska, which are represented by moderate Republicans Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkoski. Also a focus are red-state Democrats up for re-election: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.). (Rouse didn’t mention Sen. Joe Manchin in his list.) Presuming the Democratic caucus in the Senate is united against Kavanaugh — which is far from assured — “no” votes from Collins and Murkowski would be enough to sink his nomination in the Senate with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) absent as he battles brain cancer. Collins and Murkowski voted against Trump nominees before, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But comments from Collins and Murkowksi after Trump made his announcement indicate they aren’t inclined to oppose Kavanaugh. In fact, the two Republicans have suggested they’re warming to the nominee. In a statement after Trump announced the Kavanaugh nomination, Collins spoke highly of his credentials. “Judge Kavanaugh has impressive credentials and extensive experience, having served more than a decade on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Collins said. “I will conduct a careful, thorough vetting of the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court, as I have done with the ﬁve previous Supreme Court Justices whom I have considered.” According to Politico, Murkowski drew a distinction Monday between Kavanaugh and the other choices on Trump’s list he could have nominated instead. “Let’s put it this way: There were some who have been on the list that I would have had a very, very diﬃcult time supporting, just based on what was already publicly known about them,” Murkowski said. “We’re not dealing with that.” Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, told the Blade there’s “no question the odds favor Kavanaugh’s conﬁrmation,” but eﬀorts against Kavanaugh might inﬂuence him after his conﬁrmation. “Senators have to understand the costs of voting for Kavanaugh,” Sabato said. “At the least, this will push them to give the most thorough possible vetting to him. Vetting can uncover conﬂicts of interest that can force an eventual justice to act a bit more cautiously on the court. It doesn’t work in every case but this technique can beat fruit.” ■ CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
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Tab Hunter dies at 86 Tab Hunter, the 1950s teen heartthrob who would later become a prominent ﬁgure in the gay community, died Sunday night. He was 86. Allan Glaser, his partner for more than three decades, told the Hollywood Reporter that Hunter passed away in Santa Barbara from a blood clot that caused a heart attack. “Tab passed away tonight three days shy of his 87th birthday,” Hunter’s Facebook page announced. “Please honor his memory by saying a prayer on his behalf. He would have liked that.” Actor TAB HUNTER in his hunky ‘50s heyday. Hunter rose to fame with his roles in “Battle Cry” (1955), PHOTO COURTESY THE FILM COLLABORATIVE “The Girl He Left Behind” (1956), “The Burning Hills,” and “Damn Yankees!” (1958), among others. He also kicked oﬀ a short-lived yet successful music career with his single “Young Love,” which Billboard named the number four song of 1957. The record’s success caused Warner Bros., where Hunter was under contract, to form Warner Bros. Records. His career slowed down in the ‘60s and ‘70s but revived again when he starred in the John Waters ﬁlm “Polyester” (1981), opposite legendary drag queen Divine. Hunter came out as gay in his 2005 memoir “Tab Hunter Conﬁdential,” where he detailed his experience of being a closeted actor in Hollywood. He also disclosed his PR relationships with actresses such as Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood to hide his reallife aﬀairs with actors such as “Psycho” star Anthony Perkins. The memoir was adapted into a documentary in 2015. “Tab & Tony,” a ﬁlm about the relationship between Hunter and Perkins, is in the works. J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto and Glaser are on board to produce. MARIAH COOPER
In ﬁrst, Maine guv vetoes ‘ex-gay’ therapy ban Maine Gov. Paul LePage vetoed legislation on Friday that would have banned widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for youth in his state, making him the ﬁrst governor ever in the United States — Democrat or Republican — to veto such a measure. LGBT rights supporters resoundingly criticized the veto of LD 912 by LePage, a Tea Party politician who was once dubbed by Politico as “America’s craziest governor.” Fourteen states and D.C. have enacted similar measures. Marty Rouse, the Human Rights Campaign’s national ﬁeld director, said in a statement LePage’s veto was a “shameful decision” and “leaves Maine’s LGBTQ youth at risk of being subjected to a practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse.” “These crucial protections are supported by a bipartisan majority, and have been signed into law in a growing number of other states by both Democratic and Republican governors — including by the Republican governor in neighboring New Hampshire mere weeks ago,” Rouse said. “With this inexcusable decision, Gov. LePage has become the only governor in the nation to veto legislation protecting young people from this abuse, solidifying his place in history’s hall of shame.” Rouse called on the Maine Legislature — controlled in the House by Democrats and the Senate by Republicans — to override LePage’s veto so the measure will become law regardless of his action. The Maine House approved the measure by 80-55 and the Maine Senate voted for ﬁnal passage 19-12 in the special legislative session last month. The practice of therapy aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or transgender status is considered ineﬀectual at best and harmful at worst. Major medical and psychological institutions — including American Psychological Association, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics — widely reject the practice. In a statement to the legislature, LePage said he vetoed LD 912 because “it is bad public policy” and “attempts to regulate professionals who already have a deﬁned scope of practice and standard of care per their statutory licensing requirements.” “I strongly agree that young people should not be physically or mentally abused if they come out to their parents or guardians because they have expressed sexual or romantic attraction toward an individual of the same gender,” LePage said. “However,
Maine Gov. PAUL LEPAGE has become the ﬁrst governor to veto a ban on “ex-gay” conversion therapy. PHOTO BY MATTHEW GAGNON; COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
as this is written — ‘any practice or course of treatment’ — can call into question a simple conversation. This is so broad that licensed professionals would be prohibited from counseling an individual even at the individual’s own request.” LePage also stated he had concerns the bill would impinge on “religious liberty,” which is code in conservative circles to mean the ability to discriminate against LGBT people. Additionally, LePage said he’s seen “no evidence” indicating conversion therapy “is being used by anyone, including licensed professionals, in the State of Maine.” “Because the standard of practice for these professionals already prohibits any practice or therapy that would amount to physical or mental abuse, what we are really trying to regulate are the private consultative conversations between a licensed provider and a client,” LePage said. LD 912 would have prohibited the advertising, oﬀering or administering conversion therapy to individuals under 18 years of age in Maine as an unfair trade practice, penalizing mental health workers who engage in the practice with loss of their license. The bill had an exemption for members of the clergy as long as they don’t engage in “ex-gay” therapy for monetary compensation. Other jurisdictions that have enacted similar measures are Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire and D.C. CHRIS JOHNSON
Calif. hate crimes rise for third straight year A new report detailing the statistics for hate crimes in 2017 released Monday by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, shows that there were 1,093 reported hate crimes in California in 2017, a 17.4% increase over the previous year. According to the report, hate crimes have increased annually since 2014, jumping roughly 44% over the three-year span. Hate crimes targeting victims based on race, sexual orientation and religion all increased sharply. Greater than half of the hate crimes reported in 2017 involved racial bias, and about 27% involved hostility toward African-American people. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, said changing demographics in California and the increased presence of organized hate groups in the state have combined to drive up hate crimes in the state in recent years. “I think people, particularly with bigots, they are now more emboldened and we are seeing this across a spectrum of data points,” Levin said. “If you look at bigoted social media posts, if you look at the number of white nationalist rallies across the nation and in California.” The Center had earlier published a report in May of this year that studied hate crimes across the U.S. in 38 jurisdictions, including the three largest urban areas in the Golden State of San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego. According to the Times, hate crimes had been trending downward in California for years, records show. Reported hate crimes in the state decreased every year from 2007 to 2014, reaching a low of 758 alleged incidents in California, according to the attorney general’s report. STAFF REPORTS
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India Supreme Court hears challenge to sodomy law India’s top court on Tuesday began to hear oral arguments in a case that challenges the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. The Delhi High Court in 2009 struck down the statute, which is known as Section 377. India’s Supreme Court in 2013 overruled the ruling. Indian lawmakers in 2015 rejected a bill that would have repealed Section 377. The Supreme Court in January said it would reconsider its 2013 ruling, which sparked widespread outrage among LGBTI rights advocates in the country and around the world. LGBTI rights advocates maintain a landmark privacy ruling the Supreme Court issued last year bolsters their eﬀorts to repeal Section 377. Reuters on Tuesday reported Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing the main plaintiﬀ in the case, told the ﬁve judges who are hearing oral arguments that “as society changes, values change.” “What was moral 160 years ago might not be moral today,” said Rohatgi, according to Reuters. India is among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. British Prime Minister Theresa May in April said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era sodomy laws the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries. British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch last month told the Washington Blade nations that have yet to appeal these statutes should do so. “We just urge all of our friends and partners in other countries around the world to move on as we have done to make their societies more open, more liberal, to embrace anti-discrimination in relation to the LGBT community as we have,” he said before the British Embassy in D.C. held its annual Pride month reception. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
British government to ban conversion therapy
HRC President CHAD GRIFFIN on July 9 was among those who took part in a forum at UnidosUS’ annual conference that focused on civil rights during the Trump administration. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY
HRC’s Griffin participates in UnidosUS forum Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griﬃn participated in a forum on civil rights under the Trump administration that took place during UnidosUS’ annual conference in D.C. on Monday. “The LGBTQ community is as diverse as the fabric of our nation,” said Griﬃn during the forum that UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía moderated. “We are women. We are Muslim and we are Jewish. We are black, white, Latinx, Asian, and Native American. We are immigrants and we are people with disabilities.” Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President and CEO Vanita Gupta, NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director Sherrilyn Iﬁll, Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden and Voto Latino President and CEO María Teresa Kumar also took part in the forum. “With so much of our progress under attack, never before has it been more important for social justice movements to stand as one in our pursuit of full equality,” said Griﬃn. Griﬃn in his remarks also noted UnidosUS — the country’s largest Latino civil rights organization that changed its name from the National Council of La Raza in 2017 — is marking its 50th anniversary. “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of UnidosUS, this important discussion is a perfect example of how we are standing together across movements to resist the politics of hate and fear and chart a path toward a more just and equal future,” said Griﬃn. Griﬃn and other forum participants spoke hours before President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to succeed retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The forum also took place against continued outrage over the White House’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that includes the separation of immigrant children from their parents. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
The British government on Tuesday announced it will ban so-called conversion therapy in the U.K. The ban is among the 75 recommendations to promote equality and ﬁght discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity that the government made in response to a nationwide survey of more than 108,000 LGBTI people it launched in July 2017. Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt in the survey’s executive summary notes two percent of respondents said they had “undergone conversion or reparative therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being LGBT” and another ﬁve percent of respondents said they “had been oﬀered it.” “We will bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the U.K.,” said the government in its “LGBT Action Plan: Improving the Lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuals and Transgender People” document that it submitted to Parliament. “These activities are wrong, and we are not willing to let them continue.” The Government Equalities Oﬃce will lead eﬀorts to ban the highly discredited practice. “We will fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, oﬀering or conducting conversion therapy,” said the government. “Our intent is to protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith-based context.” The government added it is “not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking legitimate medical support or spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, a British LGBTI advocacy group, in a statement said it is “absolutely vital that more is done to stamp out this demeaning and unethical act.” Hunt also welcomed the government’s recommendations as “an important ﬁrst step.” “But we must see action that leads to tangible change,” added Hunt. The government released the results of the survey and its recommendations less than three months after Prime Minister Theresa May said she “deeply” regrets colonialera laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual relations the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries. British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch last month urged these nations that have yet to repeal these laws to do so. “We just urge all of our friends and partners in other countries around the world to move on as we have done to make their societies more open, more liberal, to embrace anti-discrimination in relation to the LGBT community as we have,” Darroch told the Washington Blade during an interview at the British Embassy in D.C. before its annual Pride month reception. “It just makes your society a better place.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
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Gay men have better health care after marriage
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NASHVILLE — Getting married increases the likelihood that gay men have health insurance, have a regular doctor and have access to routine health care, according to a study released by Vanderbilt University. Married lesbians did not have similar results, researchers found. Researchers said the study is one of the ﬁrst to examine the eﬀects of legal marriage on LGBT health. They studied 16 years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Although the CDC did not ask respondents their sexual orientation, researchers found trends among households where two same-sex adults resided. Although health care access was improved, there were no signs that it aﬀected health in the population examined, Vanderbilt said in a press release. The next step is to analyze more comprehensive data to see whether they are able to uncover other health impacts related to marriage. “If not, this suggests that same-sex marriage laws are not enough to positively impact the health of LGBT people,” said Gilbert Gonzales Jr., assistant professor of health policy. “There is still a lot of room for change in the policy environment to ensure the safety and well-being of these populations, but more research is needed.”
Trans women at greater risk of blood clots, stroke
LONDON — Transgender women on hormone replacement therapy, Reuters Health reports, have a signiﬁcant risk of serious blood clot and stroke according to ﬁndings of a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The risk of a dangerous type of blood clot, called a venous thromboembolism, nearly doubles for people transitioning from male to female compared to both non-transgender men and women, researchers said in the report. The risk seems to come from hormone therapy. Among transgender women who had started the therapy, the clot risk was ﬁve-fold higher after two years of follow-up compared to non-transgender men and three times higher compared to non-transgender women, Reuters Health reports. And although women have lower rates of heart disease than men, the odds of stroke and heart attack for transgender women remain the same as they would be if they had not transitioned, researchers said. For transgender men, the researchers could not conﬁrm any health risks because number of incidents was too small, Reuters Health reports. The study did not look at speciﬁc formulations, combinations or doses of the hormones used in gender-conﬁrming therapy, so it remains possible that some regimens pose a lower risk than others and that’s where future research should focus, senior author Michael Goodman, a professor of epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, told Reuters Health in a telephone interview. Until now, the data on whether gender conﬁrming medical therapy treatment poses cardiovascular risks has been sparse. The Goodman study used the cases of 2,842 transgender women and 2,118 transgender men, Reuters Health reports. They were treated in California and Georgia in the Kaiser Permanente health system. They typically had been ADVERTISING PROOF followed for about four years and only about 23 percent had undergone genderISSUE DATE: 10.26.12 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: BRIAN PITTS (email@example.com) conﬁrmation surgery. The records of 48,686 men and 48,775 women who had not undergone gender conﬁrming treatment, all matched for race, ethnicity and REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Proof will be considered final and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of year of birth, were used for comparison. the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts NS omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users GN Clot rates were twice as high for all transgender women. But in the key subset can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or EVISIONS any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any that had begun estrogen therapy, the odds of developing a potentially dangerous copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair /LOGO REVISIONS 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. 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When it came to the risk for developing a stroke caused by a blood clot, the odds for transgender women were 9.9 times higher compared to men in the control group and 4.1 times higher than for women in the control group, based on a follow-up period of more than six years. We also host private events Taking hormone therapy as a transgender woman did not increase the odds of a heart attack compared to non-transgender men in the control group. The LINCOLN Restaurant TEDDY & The Bully Bar risk was 2.4 times higher compared to female controls, but women are less likely 1110 Vermont Ave., NW 1200 19th St., NW Washington, DC 20005 Washington, DC 20036 to have a heart attack in that age group anyway, Reuters Health reports. www.lincolnrestaurant-dc.com www.teddyandthebullybar.com It took about two years for the risks to become clear, and they increased over 202-386-9200 202-872-8700 time, Reuters notes.
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Sports can bring out good, bad in us As long as we revere athletes, let’s highlight the best
PETER ROSENSTEIN is a D.C.-based LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
Growing up in New York City during the era of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Sandy Koufax and Whitey Ford one couldn’t help but pick a team and mine was the Yankees. But my version of being a fan was reading the sports pages so I could participate in a conversation with friends many of whom were rabid fans. As a kid, I played softball, tennis, went ice skating, swam and played stickball in the schoolyard. I did none of them well and soon gave up on all of them. Over the years I would go to baseball games if invited and was at Yankee Stadium the day
Sandy Koufax pitched his 16 strikeouts for the Dodgers against the Yankees in the World Series. Even attended games at the old Polo grounds in Hamilton Heights. When I moved to D.C. was invited to a Redskins game, when the stadium was really sold out, but declined, never to be invited again because I had a bridge game. My favorite sport to watch should have given me an early indication of my sexual orientation. For my birthday each year my favorite present was tickets to see the Ice Capades. Years later at the Holiday Inn outside Albany, N.Y. for a conference I met the stars of Ice Capades also staying there and was rewarded for being a fan by getting to know one of them really well. In high school I was the kid who got the note asking to be excused from gym claiming my presence was needed in the student government oﬃce. In college there was a one-credit gym requirement to graduate. I completed that credit during my last semester by taking golf, which at CCNY involved hitting a whiﬄe ball around the gym. Two good friends were golfers one having played at Cornell and the other at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. After learning I had taken golf they E DIT OR IA L C A R T OON
invited me to play a round with them but after the third hole politely suggested I just ‘walk’ along; that eﬀectively was the end of my golﬁng career. These days when friends invite me to the renowned Congressional Country Club outside of Washington it’s to join them for a meal. Sports are important for kids both to ensure good health and to learn to play with others. Team spirit is important. Sports teams also have a great economic impact on the cities in which they are located. It was a ﬁnancial boon for D.C. when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup and it also brought the community together like no other event had in years. Every so often sports enters the realm of politics, which it has again this past year in a way it hadn’t since the protest by the African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem it created a moment for people to seriously think about what is happening in the country, the racial inequities in society and our judicial system. That incident continues to resonate in many ways because the president in one of his more disgusting rants took a meaningful and important moment and tried to turn it into something ugly. Many of our athletes become role models for children. Some take this seriously like the Williams’ sisters working to do good for the community. Some others unfortunately let the huge amount of money they earn go to their heads and act out in ways we don’t want our children to emulate. Sports leagues can make a diﬀerence if they take their responsibility to their athletes and the community more seriously. Recently the NFL reportedly “denied a request from Kansas City Chiefs oﬀensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif when he asked the league if he could put the letters “M.D.” on the back of his jersey. He ﬁnished up his medical degree at McGill University in May.” It would seem they would be proud to have such an athlete in the league and understand having those letters after his name on his jersey would give young people a wonderful role model to look up to. As long as our society continues to revere sports heroes and place them on pedestals let’s highlight the best of them; and there are many great ones out there.
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An appeal for more conversation and less rage What happens when you get kicked out of a restaurant? By JACK GARDNER The hills are alive, and it’s pretty frightening, as Barbra Streisand sang way back in 1967. That was a turbulent time, like this one. And it’s not music in the air. It’s malice. Dangerous, misguided, naive malice. We have gone from it’s OK to agree to disagree to I will ruin your dinner, and worse, if you don’t agree. Case in point: in a recent column for the Blade, Peter Rosenstein says it was just ﬁne to kick Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders out of the Red Hen restaurant. He argues, with hysterical irony, that we can “make a point in a civil way and try to educate her” by refusing her service in a public establishment. Civil? Educate her? Where is the Red Hen? The gulag? Kids, this is madness. And certainly Trump’s own nasty rhetoric has fanned the ﬂames. But it is a very, very slippery slope. Sliding down that slope with her usual wild abandon we now have Maxine Waters. Harass them all. Not just when they order a cheeseburger. But, at gas
stations. At department stores. Anywhere you see them. Charge, dahlings, charge! But is that who we are? Are we really going to sink that low? And if it’s OK for you to kick them out today, will it be OK for them to kick you out tomorrow? Who gets to decide who are the angels and who are the demons? And is it really that clear cut? Maybe we need less rage. Maybe we need more conversation. Politics, to anyone who has ever swam in those currents, is muddy water. But to righteous zealots — on either side — it is all crystal clear. All smooth sailing in a world of good guys and bad guys. If only it were that simple. It isn’t. Rosenstein is a Democratic Party activist. He has every right to assert that Trump is the enemy of women, immigrants, African Americans, gay people, and all that is good and holy. Others have every right to disagree with him. But, rather than have a rational conversation on the issues, usually there is no conversation at all. Not if you want dinner. Mae West once said, “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” Honey, we’ve all drifted. Politics is not the stuﬀ of purity. And it does not justify screaming at people in restaurants or refusing to sell them gas at Exxon. Politicians are not angels. They are
not demons. They are politicians. When Barack Obama ran for the Illinois state Senate, from a liberal district, he supported gay marriage. But, when he ran for the U.S. Senate, and needed more, shall we say, diverse support, he was against it. When he ran for president, the ﬁrst time, he still opposed gay marriage. So, was he the devil then? But, he’s an angel now? When do these lines get drawn? And who gets to draw them? Or, for a more current example, consider Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator Gillibrand wants to be president. She is everything the left presumably believes is on the side of the angels. Sen. Gillibrand may be singing with the choir now. But, when she represented a more conservative upstate New York district in Congress, it was a far diﬀerent tune. She had an A rating from the NRA. The Human Rights Campaign gave her the lowest rating on gay issues for any New York Democrat. She supported a balanced budget and opposed deﬁcit spending. She supported ﬁning sanctuary cities. Supported making English the national language. Yes to stronger border enforcement. No to amnesty for illegal immigrants. And for good measure no driver’s
licenses either. Heresy! She sounds, well, kind of Trumpian. That was then. This is now. Gillibrand, with her eyes on the White House, has gone from A to F with the NRA. Suddenly she wants to abolish ICE. And every entitlement is a good entitlement. One might reasonably ask: purity or politics? At what point was it OK for her to keep her menu and order? Which is not to ignore that Trump has his own history of ﬂipping and ﬂopping. Muddy water, my dears, muddy water. Michelle Obama famously said that we go high when they go low. If only. We live now in a world of intolerance. Of rage. And hypocrisy. The sound of malice. And of silence. It didn’t use to be this way. Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch — ﬁerce opponents on the Senate ﬂoor — were great friends in the Senate dining room. They didn’t disrupt each other’s dinner. They had dinner together. They behaved like intelligent, civil human beings. And for all their diﬀerences, guess what, sometimes they actually worked together. Now that sounds heavenly. JACK GARDNER is a former speechwriter in the U.S. Senate.
C O U N TE RPO I N T
Against tyranny, we need the storm Liberals and moderates must stop acquiescing to Trumpist deﬂection
RICHARD J. ROSENDALL is a writer and activist. Reach him at email@example.com.
America verges on an abyss. Compromise essential to governance is scorned as ﬁrewalls against tyranny are knocked down. Members of the ruling party, serving an entrenched minority, trample everyone in their way without a trace of honor, decency, or any identiﬁable standard other than power at any cost. Longheld norms and values are cast aside. More people are awakening to the threat. We are like the woman in a horror movie when the policeman tells her, “We’ve traced the call... it’s coming from inside the house.” We must do more than scream. The brazenness of the GOP’s vandalism
is at least clarifying. Every branch of government is now aligned with our cut-rate Napoleon. His court packing absolves him of all sins in the eyes of his base, while any hopes for post-conﬁrmation epiphanies of moderation are as likely as the president being struck by a meteorite on the 18th green. This raging, heedless tribalism stems from what Times columnist Charles Blow calls White Extinction Anxiety, interwoven with misogyny, xenophobia, and religious bigotry. The battle by a shrinking demographic to maintain its historical supremacy is impervious to reason or feeling. Why care about children ripped from their mothers if you consider both less than human? Why hold your team to standards you apply to your opponents? For the sake of fairness? That is precisely what Trump’s mob rejects. Trump demands that our NATO partners pay up, as if the alliance were a protection racket. That is not how it was set up; but coming from a mobbed-up New York real estate market, that’s all the juvenile delinquent in the executive mansion knows. Allies who sent their soldiers to ﬁght and die alongside ours do not deserve such high-handed treatment. Real strength requires respecting allies and understanding the role of soft power; but all that matters to Trump is his swagger. As exiled Putin
critics continued to be murdered, Trump considered recognizing his pal’s annexation of Crimea, and eight Republican lawmakers spent Independence Day in Moscow brown-nosing Russian oﬃcials. Last week, attorney Alan Dershowitz slammed friends on Martha’s Vineyard who shun him for defending Trump. I suggested that if Dershowitz is concerned about civility, he should take a long look at the man he is defending. A friend scolded me, “If we are not defending the Constitution, we are no better than Trump. If attorneys are allowed to refuse to represent those they ﬁnd despicable, none of us are safe.” This high-minded pose is like Robespierre defending the guillotine. All of our necks are under the blade. Dershowitz effectively argues that Trump is above the law and cannot obstruct justice. A president has many powers, but not the right to use them for criminal purposes. Rather than acknowledge this, Dershowitz pretends he is Joseph Welch staring down Sen. Joe McCarthy. Treating a bully as a victim, and attacking those who call him to account, turns truth on its head. Some protests against Trump oﬃcials do reveal more passion than planning. We are a diverse movement. But protest is constitutionally protected just like due process
rights, which Trump would abolish as cavalierly as he breaks promises made to immigrant soldiers. Autocratic behavior is not protected. If Dershowitz loves the Constitution so much, he should condemn the attacks on Robert Mueller. Instead he joins in. Speaking of bullies, Rep. Jim Jordan, cofounder of the Freedom Caucus, reacted like a coward to the Ohio State wrestling scandal. Credible claims that his late former colleague Dr. Richard Strauss committed sexual abuse are not erased by inventing a “deep state” conspiracy. The wrestlers who came forward expressed fondness for Jordan and dismay at his claimed ignorance. Instead of threatening to impeach Rod Rosenstein, Jordan should check a mirror. Trumpists wear down the opposition with endless lies, conspiracy theories and deﬂections. In the face of this onslaught, it is colossal folly to let Trump win the low-expectations game while chastising Maxine Waters for being harsh or Patricia Okoumou for inconveniencing tourists by climbing to Lady Liberty’s feet. Enough with one-way calls for civility. As Frederick Douglass said in 1852, “We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” Copyright © 2018 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.
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Be afraid, be very afraid, of Brett Kavanaugh KATHI WOLFE, a regular contributor to the Blade, was the winner of the 2014 Stonewall Chapbook Competition.
I rarely worried about the end of the world. Until Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he is retiring from the Supreme Court. President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, 53, a conservative federal appeals court judge and former aide to President George W. Bush, to replace Kennedy on the Supreme Court. He worked for independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr when President Bill Clinton was impeached. Since then, Kavanaugh has argued that a sitting president shouldn’t be subject to investigations. If Kavanaugh is conﬁrmed, the impact would likely be devastating for so many of us – LGBTQ people, women, people of color, children, elders – anyone not male, straight, white
and rich. Basic rights, which we’ve too often taken for granted, including the right to marry, vote and have an abortion, could be taken away. And, given Kavanaugh’s views, who could trust that the Supreme Court would protect Robert Mueller in his investigation? Kennedy, though conservative, often, was a swing vote on the Supreme Court. He voted with the liberals on the court – particularly on landmark LGBTQ and reproductive rights cases. Kavanaugh is way to the right of Kennedy. If he is conﬁrmed, for the ﬁrst time in decades, conservatives will have the balance of power on the Supreme Court. Ironically, the Supreme Court has often been oﬀ the radar screen for those of us who should have been paying attention. We drank Champagne when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. We worried about the religious right’s opposition to abortion and increasing insistence on their “right” to “religious freedom,” yet we didn’t fear that Roe v. Wade or marriage equality would really be overthrown or gutted. Now, we’re waking up. Wondering if it’s only a bad dream. Unfortunately, it isn’t a dream. Kavanaugh would “guarantee 40 more years
of Trump’s values on the Supreme Court,” Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, said in a statement, “We have reason to fear that Judge Kavanaugh will abuse his power on the Court to protect the wealthy and the powerful while depriving LGBT Americans of our dignity, demeaning our community, and diminishing our status as equal citizens.” Kavanaugh’s nomination is key to Trump’s plan to strip health care from millions through the courts, Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress said in a statement. “This nomination is also payback for the hardline antichoice activists who have defended his disgusting misogyny no matter what,” she said. For years, Republicans and Tea Party members have successfully worked to place conservative judges in the courts from state courts to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, Democrats and other progressives haven’t been engaged with our country’s courts – from the local level to the Supreme Court. A progressive group, Demand Justice, recently conducted a focus group for 10 Democratic-leaning women. Several of the women didn’t know who Justice Kennedy was, NPR reported.
If Kavanaugh is conﬁrmed, many of us could feel the impact in our lives. My friend Ruth is a straight, retired family nurse practitioner who’s involved with her church. Yet, she worries about the consequences if the Supreme Court rules that health care providers should be permitted to refuse to perform abortions or deny treatment to LGBTQ or other people who they dislike. “It goes against the Hippocratic oath — medical ethics,” she told me, “and it goes against the values of religion.” I don’t want to demonize people who are pro-life or those who are religious. Religion plays an important role in many of our lives and the issue of abortion is complex. Even so, I don’t wish to live in a theocracy. I want our Supreme Court to protect the civil rights and reproductive freedom of everyone in our country. What can we do to prevent this from happening? First, though it’ll be an uphill battle going against nearly insurmountable odds, let’s do all we can to keep Kavanaugh from being conﬁrmed. Second, let’s vote in the 2018 midterms in November for members of Congress who would protect us from Trump’s Supreme Court picks. Hopefully, justice will prevail.
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se an do o l it t l e : t h e all- aro und a l l -s t a r Nats pitcher, wife on life in D.C., their LGBT advocacy — and whether the team is ready for a gay player By KEVIN MAJOROS Ace relief pitcher Sean Doolittle was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Washington Nationals in July of 2017. He eloped with his then-girlfriend, Eireann Dolan one day after the regular baseball season ended last year. Doolittle was named a 2018 All-Star this week; he was a member of the 2014 MLB All-Star team and this season is rounding out to be one of the best of his career. Doolittle and Dolan received national attention in 2015 when they purchased hundreds of tickets to the Oakland Athletics Pride Night after the event received backlash from fans. The tickets were donated to local LGBTQ groups and an additional $40,000 was raised. Local LGBTQ youth leadership and housing program, SMYAL, has caught the attention of Doolittle and Dolan and they donated 52 tickets to the organization for Night OUT at the Nationals last month. Going a step further, they stopped in personally to deliver the tickets at the SMYAL youth program’s headquarters and the SMYAL transitional housing program. The Washington Blade sat down with the couple inside Nationals Park for a conversation about the LGBTQ community, life in D.C., baseball and music. Washington Blade: You’re both active with charitable causes including work with Syrian refugees and military veterans’ mental health and housing. How did you become interested in the LBGTQ community? Eireann Dolan: I have two moms. But even if I didn’t, I think this is something that’s really important. It’s always been really important, at least in my family. And something that we’ve always valued is the idea of having an accepting place. Having a sense of home. It factors into all the charity work that we do, all of the community work. We work with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. We’re going to have about 30 refugees coming to the game tomorrow night. Blade: That’s incredible. Dolan: Yeah, so we’re going to have them on the ﬁeld and they are veterans who are injured or widowed. We deal with housing for them. Our theme seems to be a sense of home. Making sure people feel welcome. Whether they’re a refugee,
EIREANN DOLAN and SEAN DOOLITTLE are active in supporting SMYAL, among other charitable causes they’ve adopted. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY
whether they’re a veteran returning or transitioning back into civilian life, or whether they’re somebody in the LGBTQ community who maybe hasn’t considered that sports would be a space for them. We want to make sure that they know it is a space for them. They do have a home here and we accept them as they are. It’s always been really important to us. Blade: And then you stumbled upon SMYAL here in D.C. Dolan: We did. Well, it kept getting name dropped to us so many times by so
many people. Doolittle: In advance of the Nationals Pride night, we wanted to get involved. We wanted to do something more than catch the ﬁrst pitch or meet some people on the ﬁeld before the game. And we love this community, we love being here, and we wanted to give back. And like she said, in some of the meetings we had with the folks here, with the Nats, SMYAL had been referenced several times. We were able to make a couple visits over there before Pride night. Dolan: That was incredible.
Doolittle: It’s an incredible organization and the holistic approach that they take, helping with everything from housing to leadership to education to helping people become voices in their communities. Dolan: That was the biggest thing, I think. Doolittle: And then coming back. They go through the program and then they come back to SMYAL to give back and pay it forward. That was something that we found to be incredibly inspiring. And CONTINUES ON PAGE 22
doolittle talks caps, nfl protests and love for d.c. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21
if, through this process, we can lift their voices up and help tell their stories, that’s what we’re trying to do. Blade: Do either of you have any thoughts as to why Major League Baseball has never had an openly gay player? There seems to be upper management support, team player support and fan support. Dolan: There’s a lot of hesitation for any athlete, and baseball particularly, to share a lot of their private life, just full stop. Baseball is a bit more buttoned-up. The players themselves are not marketed in such a way, or they don’t maybe market themselves in such a way that talks about their personal life. You look at basketball, you look at football, you look even at hockey. You know the spouses. You know the families. You know what they do. You know where they’re from. But in baseball, it’s a little bit diﬀerent. I think that may contribute to it, but that, I don’t think is the answer entirely. Doolittle: I do think there is growing support, like you talked about. I think Major League Baseball’s taken steps towards it. I still think there are steps that need to be made in educating more people. I think as we continue to make it a better space, a more accepting space, we can continue to get rid of all this toxic masculinity bullshit that happens in a locker room. Blade: Does it happen here with the Nationals? Doolittle: Of course it happens. It’s performative. Sometimes that’s a guy’s way of psyching themselves up to go play. But I think we’re seeing less and less of it, and it’s fallen by the wayside. We just need to be continuously focused on creating a space that’s accepting. When you’re with these guys in such close proximity over six, eight months over the course of the season, guys should be OK with being themselves. Whether it’s you’re gay or whether it’s a diﬀerent religion, or you’re from a diﬀerent country. We have guys in here from how many diﬀerent countries? How many diﬀerent religious backgrounds? So I think just continuing that evolution in the clubhouse. Dolan: That sports era of the ‘90s, early 2000s of hyper-masculine, almost borderline toxic masculine, alpha, humiliate your opponent, keep your head down, don’t look like you’re having fun. That’s waning because fans want fun. They like the back ﬂips. They like the personality. And you’ve got guys out there, you’ve got little pockets of people
SEAN DOOLITTLE and EIREANN DOLAN sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the Blade and opened up about their support for LGBT equality. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY
showing their personality. Blade: Do you think this team is ready for a gay player? Doolittle: I don’t know. And that’s the thing, I don’t think we’re going to know until that happens. I wish I had a better answer. Dolan: I think baseball is ready and I think clubhouses know if a guy can help your team, period, the end. Doesn’t matter. Blade: What’s your take on the NFL’s anthem protest? Dolan: It’s not an anthem protest, that’s my ﬁrst thing. They’re not protesting the anthem, they’re protesting the violence against young African-American men, particularly. Doolittle: I think the NFL’s response was incredibly dangerous and disgusting. You’re punishing guys by policing peaceful protesting. I think it sends a really bad message across the United States. Dolan: And if you say no politics in sports, then how do you explain ﬂyovers that you do before games? How do you explain all the active recruiting that they do for the military during games? Why are we picking and choosing? When you’re
telling young African-American men, “We want to watch you, we want to watch you do this particular thing, but don’t talk,” that just smacks of something that I thought this country had moved past. Doolittle: I think it could have been a relatively short-lived story with a much better ending if, initially, they had focused their energies on listening and trying to ﬁgure out a way to get guys to stand. So when Kaepernick starts kneeling, they start listening to his message. They help him get involved to focus that message into action in the community. And soon enough, we have guys that are proud to stand up for the anthem because they’re helping their communities and bettering people and remedying the situation. And I think, unfortunately, it’s been used as something in this culture war that we’ve seen. These guys have done a lot of incredible work in their communities. They’ve met with government oﬃcials, they’ve done a lot of outreach with law enforcement in their communities. They are backing it up with signiﬁcant action. So I wish everybody felt good enough and proud enough to stand for the anthem without being told that they had to do so.
Blade: Would you go to the White House if the Nats win the World Series? Doolittle: People have asked me that before, and you don’t get to answer that question unless you win the World Series Dolan: We’ll talk to you in October. Blade: As a relief pitcher, you’re either the hero or the goat. How do you deal with that on a daily basis? Do you have stress techniques? Doolittle: I’ve gotten a lot better at it over the last couple years. Early in my career, I pitched with a lot of emotion and I put a lot into, like you said, whether you’re the hero or the goat in that scenario. There’s no gray area in that line of work. There’s no, well I thought I executed my pitches really well, I just didn’t get the results I wanted. That’s not a great consolation prize for you or the other 24 guys on your team. Dolan: And the fans don’t want to hear it. Doolittle: Yeah, and it’s tough to explain that away. I was very attached to how I was pitching, and if I was getting the job done. If I didn’t get the job done, that CONTINUES ON PAGE 23
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 22
was a blow to my self-esteem. Over the last few years, I worked a lot at processing the outings, mentally preparing for the outings, changing the way that I use that energy. I used to pitch with a ton of emotion. Now, I use the energy to hyper focus. I want to calm things down. I want things to be slow and smooth. Dolan: You’re very Zen. Doolittle: I think it’s helped me manage a lot of that stress. It’s not always easy, but it’s an occupational hazard. Blade: Your stats this year are amazing and..... Dolan: Don’t say them, don’t say them, don’t say them. Blade: All right. Don’t say them out loud? Dolan: No. We’re very superstitious. Blade: Are the stats that shall not be named a result of your comfort level in D.C. or are you doing something diﬀerent in training? Doolittle: I feel very comfortable in D.C. We love it here. I changed some things. But a lot of it was behind the scenes. We changed a lot with the arm care program that I have. I dealt with some shoulder injuries in the past, when I was with Oakland, and I missed some time on the disabled list, and I think sometimes, just getting a fresh set of eyes or a new way of explaining things, really helps. And we added some things to that program, to the daily routine. I feel strong. I feel, at this point in the season, even with the work load I’ve had, I feel really good about where my body’s at, and I think when you don’t have to worry every day about, how’s my arm going to feel when you come to the ﬁeld, you can throw yourself into focusing on your outing and who you might face rather than focusing on trying to get your body ready to pitch. So that’s been a load oﬀ my shoulders, pardon the pun. Dolan: Did you catch the eye roll on the recording? Was it loud enough? Blade: You had an unusual path to becoming an MLB relief pitcher. You pitched growing up and also played ﬁrst base at University of Virginia. And then, you were drafted by the Oakland Athletics as an outﬁelder and a ﬁrst baseman. Is this where you were supposed to be the whole time? There was a little side path. Doolittle: I feel like it is. It’s a lot easier for me to say this now, but I’m glad I went
through that transition process. There were some really dark times. I missed three full seasons on the disabled list in the minor leagues. Dolan: So close to getting a call up, too. He was right on the cusp. Doolittle: And before I got hurt the ﬁrst time in 2009.... Blade: As a ﬁrst baseman? Doolittle: As a ﬁrst baseman, yeah. It’s totally shifted my perspective on everything. This almost didn’t happen at all. In 2011, I had contacted my agent to go back and try and ﬁgure out the process of re-enrolling in college, because I was that far at the end of my rope. And the A’s came to me and said, “Hey, would you like to think about pitching?” I joke that I took the scenic route to the big leagues. It makes me appreciate every day that I get to wear that little logo on the back of my hat that says I’m in the big leagues. It came really close to never happening. Dolan: There’s something to be said about having experienced adversity and failed. I don’t think I would be with him if he was this super successful player. I don’t think I would have been drawn to him. Doolittle: Right, you learn a lot of humility, you learn a lot about yourself. Dolan: Yeah. If you’d been that ﬁrst round pick that you were, superstar ﬁrst baseman.... Doolittle: I was the man. Dolan: You were the man. Blade: You prefer him damaged? Dolan: That’s right up my alley. Who else is going to humble him, honestly? Blade: What are you liking about living in D.C.? Doolittle: It’s an awesome city. There’s a good energy, there’s a creative energy, it’s very diverse, it’s very accepting. The sense of community, the pride of being from D.C., that’s a thing that we found that I think was really cool. There’s a lot that we like about it. Dolan: It’s amazing. We love the local bookstores and local record shops. We love just discovering new, cool spots that we can hit up every time we have a spare hour or so. Blade: What about the excitement of MLB All-Star Week being in the town where you’re now pitching? Doolittle: I think it’s awesome. I think us players, we’re starting to feel that buzz and that energy surrounding it. I’m excited for the Nationals fans and the organization, because they’ve done
everything so ﬁrst class. There’s a good energy surrounding D.C. sports now, and I think to bring the best players from around baseball here to D.C., that’s going to be really cool. Blade: Has the Stanley Cup win by the Washington Capitals aﬀected the team in any way? Doolittle: We deﬁnitely followed it as a team. Before or after our games, whenever the Caps were playing, the TVs in the clubhouse were on. We were following it on our phones, or any chance we could, we were watching the game. We were all in, and I think it was great for us because they gave us the blueprint. They showed us how it’s done. They’ve had a similar storyline. They’ve had to answer a lot of the same questions we’ve had to answer after having really successful, regular seasons, but not making the deep run into the playoﬀs. They’ve had to answer the questions, is this the year you get over the hump? How are you guys going to break through? So to see them do it, and to see them break through and not stop, and keep going. It was really fun. And when they came here, that was the biggest thing that they said. It was really cool to share that experience, just for a little bit, with the Cup, in the locker room and on the ﬁeld. Even though it’s a diﬀerent sport, that energy, you can feel it. We’ve had Champagne celebrations before, and once you get a taste of that, you want more. And that’s really motivating, to have another team in your city bring in a trophy like that. Dolan: And to see the parade and the reaction from the fan base. This is a sports city. And I don’t think people give it enough credit for being the sports city that it is. It was a nice taste. Blade: Sean, you are a Star Wars fan and your Twitter handle is Obi-Sean Kenobi. Was the Solo movie a win or lose for you? Did you go in costume? Doolittle: I loved it and we didn’t go in costume this time. We were in Miami, so we were on the road. But we did see it opening night. Dolan: It was really hot there; a Chewbacca costume would have been diﬃcult. Doolittle: Yeah. And I don’t know if I can pull oﬀ a Princess Leia bikini. Dolan: Not to say we haven’t tried. There’s your cover picture. Blade: What’s on your music playlist right now? Doolittle: I’m a metalhead. I was raised
on the sounds of Black Sabbath and Ozzy, AC/DC and Metallica, and my love for it grew from there. When we were kids, we would be going to a Little League game. I’d be nine years old and we were rolling up in the minivan, blasting Black Sabbath. Dolan: Oh, bad, bad. Love it. Doolittle: There’s a band from Texas called Power Trip. They’re new but their sound is very ‘80s thrash, which I really dig. There’s another band call Chemist. It’s called doom metal. It’s a lot slower and they have some good stuﬀ. I really only listen to it when I’m at the ﬁeld. When we’re at home, it’s a lot more mellow. Dolan: We’re pretty eclectic at home. It’s not all metal for us. We like a lot of the new Nashville sound. I’m not a huge country fan, but Sturgill Simpson and.... Doolittle: Jason Isbell. Dolan: And Colter Wall, yeah. A lot of that is really good. And I love hardcore gangster rap, honestly. I’m not going to lie, it’s my weakness. When he’s pitching, I put on noise canceling headphones and blast gangster rap. Tupac or Biggie, and it works. It calms my nerves because there’s something about it. Blade: There are nerves for you while he’s pitching? Dolan: I don’t watch, no. I haven’t watched him pitch live in years. I’m too superstitious. Blade: Give me a quirk about the other person that makes you laugh. Doolittle: Oh my god. Dolan: He has a tactile thing about mesh. Doolittle: It’s very soft. Dolan: He likes to touch mesh. Doolittle: Quirks that make me laugh.... Dolan: Careful, careful. Doolittle: Well the aforementioned noise canceling headphones, she likes them so much that she’s taken to wearing them in the shower. Dolan: They’re large speakers and I have three separate shower caps. Doolittle: She took 45 minutes in the bathroom recently and I was like, what is going on? I was knocking on the door. She didn’t hear me. Dolan: I bought a deep conditioner mask. Listen, this hair doesn’t get like this on its own. Blade: Sean, we need to get you to practice. Let’s grab a photo ﬁrst. Dolan: Cool. Doolittle: Oh, cool. Dolan: All right. Don’t forget your dry cleaning, Sean. We want that front and center in frame.
meet 2 c o u p l e s shari ng their live s a n d a l o ve o f sp orts Rowing, swimming oﬀer friendly competition and a common bond By KEVIN MAJOROS Many of the LGBT sports teams in D.C. count same-sex couples as members of their clubs. Some joined the team together and others became a couple after ﬁrst being teammates. Meet two LGBT couples who have woven sports into the lives they are sharing. Not only are they beneﬁtting their own health and well-being, they are sharing it with their partner. Sheila O’Sullivan grew up in Novi, Mich., where soccer was her sport of choice. She attended high school in England and added rowing as her spring sport. Back in the States, she graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut in 2000. She coached rowing on Sammamish Lake in Washington before heading to grad school at Carnegie Mellon University. Canonsburg, Pa. was home to Gretchen O’Sullivan where she played softball and tennis in high school. She attended Allegheny College and was a member of the orchestra. A stint with AmeriCorps was followed by grad school at Carnegie Mellon. The pair became a couple after meeting at grad school in Pittsburgh. Sheila would graduate ﬁrst in 2007 and leave to work with the Peace Corps before moving to D.C. in 2009 where she joined the club program of the DC Strokes Rowing Club. “After she left I joined the learn to row program with Three Rivers Rowing in Pittsburgh,” says Gretchen. “It was all because of Sheila. I never would have thought of rowing otherwise.” Gretchen came to D.C. the following year and started with the DC Strokes novice program. She eventually joined Sheila in the club program and they often ended up in the same boat. “She would get frustrated with me, but the overall experience was great,” says Sheila. “It’s great being outside and working as a team. We met our core group of friends with the Strokes and even if we are not rowing, they remain in our lives.” “She was only trying to help me when we were in a boat together, but it was sometimes stressful,” Gretchen says. “Otherwise it was wonderful and there was great energy. Our drives back and forth to practice were always fun.” Life started getting in the way for the pair and they began swapping rowing
FRED DEVER and ERIC CZANDER met on the DC Aquatics team.
SHEILA and GRETCHEN O’SULLIVAN are members of the DC Strokes Rowing Club.
PHOTO COURTESY THE COUPLE
seasons to be supportive of who had the time to row. There was work, a new puppy, a new house, and they got married in the spring of 2013. Both were competing in regattas – Sheila moved up to the competitive program and rowed at Stonewall, Charm City Sprints and the Head of the Hooch in Tennessee; Gretchen at the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland where she won medals of each color. Gretchen was trying to get pregnant in 2015 which meant that it was Sheila’s turn to row again. Their baby was born in late 2016 and Sheila started training for a new job with the Park Police. Gretchen is working as a site coordinator with a national nonproﬁt. Both are currently not rowing but are itching to get back in the boat. “I really wanted to stay involved, so I am serving on the DC Strokes board as secretary,” says Gretchen. “Rowing is really for everyone and you can adapt it to your own needs. I would love for her to row again and I also see it for myself on the horizon.” “I love that it is something you can come back to at any age and I am inspired by rowers that are older,” Sheila says. “Rowing is a passion of mine and it will be a lifetime sport for me.” Syracuse, N.Y. native Fred Dever grew up competing in swimming and water polo through high school. He was an NCAA Division I swimmer at Marist College for four years and captained in his ﬁnal year. On the side, he lifeguarded and coached swimming and water polo. His work in pharmaceutical sales brought him to D.C. in 1995 and he was reluctant to join DC Aquatics Club
because he didn’t think a gay team would be serious. “I joined the team in 2002 and it was great getting back into organized workouts and making new friends,” says Fred. “It’s super rewarding, competitive, and everything you can wish for as a gay athlete.” Eric Czander started swimming year around at age nine while growing up in Westﬁeld, N.J. He swam for four years as an NCAA Division I athlete at Vanderbilt University. His education continued at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Emory University School of Medicine for his Neurology residency. He signed on for ﬁve years in the Navy hoping that the military lifestyle would prevent him from coming out. Before his duty began, he joined masters swimming and helped form a gay team in Atlanta where he came out in 1993. His last two years in the military brought him to D.C. where he joined DC Aquatics in 1998. Fred and Eric met on the team and have spent the last 16 years sharing their lives with a healthy dose of swimming, triathlons and running. “It helps with motivation to have someone to go to practice with and just having someone by your side,” says Eric. “It’s nice to be able to bounce things oﬀ each other. We are each other’s biggest motivator and biggest critic.” “I like the way it feels having sports in our lives,” Fred says. “I would be a slacker if it wasn’t for Eric. He is much more driven than I am.” Fred and Eric are the same age and compete in the same age group in swimming, though not in the same events. They are also of the same ability
PHOTO COURTESY THE COUPLE
and purposefully don’t train in the same lane at practice. “There is a little competitiveness in practice even though we don’t swim the same events,” Eric says. “Never harmful though, always healthy. Both of us have grown and learned from each other.” “Sometimes I just want my own space, so I can be silly with our other teammates,” adds Fred. In addition to competitive swimming, Fred and Eric have also completed running marathons and triathlons together. Eric had been competing in them for years before meeting Fred and brought him into the sports. “My ﬁrst marathon in D.C. was cancelled and Eric pushed me to run the St. Louis Marathon,” says Fred. “We always make sure the other one is safe in our races. Someone died in a recent open water race we were in and I ended up in the medical tent at the Boston Marathon. Each race starts with “I love you, be safe.”’ “When he started doing road running and triathlons, I was beating him at ﬁrst and then he started beating me,” says Eric. “We try not to race next to each other, but our times are very similar. It’s good motivation.” Coming up for the pair is a trip to Paris for Gay Games X in August where they both will be swimming eight events in the pool. “Swimming is all about family and connections,” Fred says. “Our DC Aquatics teammates are our family.” “It’s awesome to explore new cities and cultures together,” Eric says. “Plus, I can’t wait for Fred to butcher the French language.”
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m l b target s b u l l y i n g w ith ‘ sh red h at e’ pr o g r a m 11 D.C. schools participate in ﬁrst year of project By LOU CHIBBARO JR. firstname.lastname@example.org On May 23, about 250 students from 11 D.C. public and charter schools met Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner at Nationals Stadium, and about 25 of them joined Turner on the ﬁeld shortly before the start of the game between the Nationals and the San Diego Padres. In addition to talking about baseball, Turner talked to the middle and high school students about a subject he said he knows about personally – bullying and a program sponsored by Major League Baseball and the ESPN TV sports network to prevent bullying in the nation’s schools. “I think two things,” Turner told the students, according to a joint statement released by the Nationals and MLB. “Be yourself, you are who you are and be proud of it,” he said. “And rely on your friends and your family.” As the students listened intently, Turner added, “A lot of people that bully or whatever it may be, people that don’t know you, classmates or a lot of stuﬀ is from people who don’t know you and what your values and morals are.” Joining Turner in the gathering with the students that day was Billy Bean, a gay former Major League Baseball player who now serves as MLB’s Vice President for Social Responsibility and as Special Assistant to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. The students’ visit with Turner and Bean at Nationals Park and the invitation they received to watch the Nationals game that day was part of a new program launched in January 2017 by Major League Baseball, ESPN, and ESPN’s X-Games sports competition called Shred Hate. The Shred Hate program included visits by school kids to the ballparks in three participating cities during its ﬁrst-year launch – D.C., Chicago, and Minneapolis. But the major component of the program took place in the approximately 35 schools in those cities along with others in Colorado that were selected for the 2017-2018 school year. A non-proﬁt San Francisco-based organization called No Bully, which has been training schools on how to put in place bullying prevention and eradication eﬀorts for more than a decade, has been retained by MLB and ESPN to carry out the Shred Hate program in the selected schools. “The No Bully System is a set of interventions to prevent and stop bullying
Washington Nationals shortstop TREA TURNER meets school kids participating in the Shred Hate program on the ﬁeld at Nationals Stadium. PHOTO COURTESY MLB
and cyberbullying in school and after school programs,” according to a March 2018 statement released by ESPN. “The school leadership team receives coaching on how to lead school culture change,” it says. “No Bully staﬀ trainings motivate and teach school faculty how to interrupt and stop student bullying, and parents are trained to support the school’s antibullying initiative,” the statement says. On its own website No Bully says it has developed and reﬁned its bullying prevention system through years of partnering with schools across the country. It says schools that implement the ‘No Bully System’ are solving 90 percent of their bullying incidents. A key component of the system, according to No Bully, is direct involvement of the students who become members of a school “solution team” that responds to bullying incidents. “The school joins with parents to prevent student bullying and cyberbullying through building a culture where every student is accepted for who they are,” the group says. Bean told the Washington Blade that Trea Turner is one of as many as a dozen MLB players that have so far interacted with students from the schools participating in Shred Hate in D.C., Chicago, and Minneapolis during the program’s ﬁrst year. In addition to the Washington Nationals, the participating players were with the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins. Several of the players, including
Turner of the Nationals and Minnesota Twins center ﬁelder Byron Buxton, have recorded videos that are being used as public service announcements, Bean said. He said the PSAs have been shown on the video screens at the ballparks as well as on some local TV stations. “Every kid deserves go to school and have fun and just be themselves,” Buxton says in the PSA he recorded. “You know, there is no place in this world for bullying. Be proud of yourself. Be proud of the things that make you happy,” he says. “It was important for me to let kids know you are somebody and to never give up because nothing’s impossible,” Buxton continues. “Together, let’s stop bullying. Choose kindness and shred hate.” Asked whether the Shred Hate program, including its training programs in the schools, addresses the issue of anti-LGBT bullying, Bean said, “Absolutely. LGBT kids are persecuted and bullied at a higher percentage than those who don’t identify as LGBT.” He added, “We would not have picked a partner that did not have a clear understanding of the time and place for those conversations” related to anti-LGBT bullying. Lynne Seifert, a former school teacher and school administrator in Colorado who participated in the No Bully program in schools where she worked, now serves as No Bully’s partnership manager and coordinator for the Shred Hate program. During the past year she has visited schools in all three cities involved in Shred Hate, including some of the 11
D.C. schools, where she set up training sessions for teachers and administrators. “We go in and we train the staﬀ how to interrupt conﬂict and bullying in a very non-confrontational way,” Seifert told the Blade. “And we do that by using their social vision or their social contract,” she said, noting that the system encourages all students to agree to an unwritten “contract” and vision aimed at discouraging bullying and making it “cool” to be against bullying. Seifert said that among the D.C. schools participating in the program were Washington Global Public Charter School, Center City Public Charter School, Washington Latin Public Charter School, Hardy Middle School, and Hope Community Public Charter School. Bean said Shred Hate oﬃcials conducted a survey of the principals at the 35 schools participating in the program this year in the three cities, and the results have been encouraging. Among other things, attendance at the schools increased an average of six percent over last year, he said. “And they have decreased school suspensions by 50 percent,” said Bean. “They had a total of 175 detentions last year in those schools and they were down to only 47 this year,” he said. “So we’re seeing some across the board numbers” that indicate the program’s goal of “creating and sustaining a bullyfree zone” is advancing, Bean said. ■ CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
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t r a n s coach boo s tin g v i sib i l i t y for girls’ b a s e b a l l ‘Everyone should be able to play the sport that they love’ By KEVIN MAJOROS Ava Benach signed up her daughter Paloma to play little league baseball when she was ﬁve years old. At the time, she made the erroneous assumption that eventually, Paloma would have to switch to softball. Ava and her wife Mona did sign Paloma up for softball at age 9. Paloma was having none of it. The next year, Paloma participated in an all-girls baseball team sponsored by Baseball for All that won a national tournament in Chino Hills, Calif. It was a boy’s tournament and they were the only girls team. In 2015, the Benach family started recruiting girls locally and DC Girls Baseball was formed. The organization is the only girls’ baseball program in the region and it draws girls 18 and under from across the D.C. metro area, giving them an opportunity to play baseball at the highest levels. Ava is serving as president, board chair and head coach of DC Girls Baseball. Along with coaching her now 14-year-old daughter, she also coaches the teams of her two sons, Teddy and Alex, who play with Capitol City Little League. “Society is telling these girls that baseball is not a sport for them. They experience extreme loneliness if they play on boys’ teams and any mistakes are blamed on their gender,” says Ava. “I have deep admiration and respect for these girls and I love watching them turn into leaders. It is tremendously beneﬁcial for them and builds their conﬁdence.” Ava’s own path to baseball began in Long Island. She played soccer and little league before switching over to a club team at age 12. In high school, she swam competitively and walked onto the team at Boston College where she swam for four years. She came to the area in 1994 to attend law school at George Washington University and work on Capitol Hill. She has been an immigration lawyer since 1998. She began coaching little league teams as each of her three kids became eligible to play. The Benach household experienced a change recently as Ava transitioned to female. Throughout the process, Ava maintained her visibility. “When you transition in your 40s, you are already a known quantity. It went better than I thought, and I didn’t lose any
AVA BENACH and daughter PALOMA share a love of baseball.
friends or clients,” Ava says. “I have a public image in both sports and my profession. I depend upon my reputation.” The success of DC Girls Baseball drew the attention of the Eastern Women’s Baseball Conference (EWBC), which has been providing opportunities for women to play baseball for more than 20 years. The league features four teams – Montgomery County BarnCats, Baltimore Blues, Virginia Flames and Virginia Fury. They also ﬁeld a travel team, DC Thunder, for tournament play. A relationship was formed, and the two organizations began having clinics together. A few of the adult players from EWBC began coaching for DC Girls Baseball. Several of the girls have been recruited to the adult league and the adult travel team. Paloma Benach was recruited last year to play on the Virginia Fury team in EWBC and she also plays on their travel team, DC Thunder. Normally a pitcher when playing girls baseball, Paloma is a utility player with EWBC to rest her pitching arm. She was 13 at the time and found
herself facing experienced adults. “At ﬁrst I thought it would be diﬃcult because they know more than I know,” says Paloma. “I do well but there are games where I need assistance.” Paloma was joined on the team this year by Ava who plays third base. Now that they have a coach and teammate relationship, it brings up a certain question. What does Paloma call Ava? “She calls me dad which is awkward sometimes in certain parts of the country,” says Ava. “It’s an actual historical biological fact. I don’t want to compete with my wife for the title of mother after 19 years of marriage.” Both players have something to add in regard to the dynamic of playing together. “She ignores me,” Ava says. “I have watched her play a thousand times and am amazingly proud of her, even though I am ruining her mojo.” “Honestly, I try not to look at her. It’s too emotional so I view her as a coach and teammate,” Paloma says. “I think it’s amazing that she has given up so much of her time for all of this.”
PHOTO COURTESY AVA BENACH
The remaining months of summer will be a busy time for both of them. Along with DC Girls Baseball and EWBC, Paloma is playing on the Moose Baseball travel team where she is the only girl. This fall she will try out for her school’s girls’ basketball team and the boys’ baseball team. There will also be baseball tournaments including two stops at Beyer Stadium, former home of the Rockford Peaches. The gender barrier in baseball continues to improve and this year, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball launched the 2018 Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series to provide opportunities for girls who wish to continue playing or working in baseball. “There are always going to be people who are not OK with girls playing baseball, but we have created a community where people can be who they are,” says Paloma. “I love this sport and am happy to be surrounded by people who support me and love me.” “These girls are just asking for the chance to play baseball,” Ava says. “Everyone should be able to play the sport that they love.”
bl a d e to ho st f irst p r ide po p- up bar d u r i ng a l l- s t ar week First LGBT media outlet to sponsor MLB’s festivities By STAFF REPORTS Major League Baseball and the Washington Blade announced last month that the Blade will serve as a sponsor of 2018 MLB All-Star Week, which will be hosted in Washington, D.C., marking the ﬁrst time that MLB has partnered with an LGBT news outlet on the event. The 2018 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard and related events will take place at Nationals Park and other locations throughout Washington, D.C. The Washington Blade has been working with MLB to promote and advertise the All-Star celebration events and is credited as a sponsor during the week. “Everyone at the Blade is excited to work with Major League Baseball on this groundbreaking collaboration,” said Blade editor Kevin Naﬀ. “As LGBTQ visibility and acceptance continue to grow, we appreciate the eﬀorts of MLB to foster an inclusive environment for players and fans.” This year’s All-Star festivities include GEICO All-Star FanFest from Friday, July 13 through Tuesday, July 17 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center; the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and Legends & Celebrity Softball on All-Star Sunday, July 15 at Nationals Park; the T-Mobile Home Run Derby as part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 16 at Nationals Park; and the 89th MLB AllStar Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday, July 17, also at Nationals Park. Billy Bean, Vice President & Special
Assistant to the Commissioner, Major League Baseball said: “MLB is pleased to have the Washington Blade as one of the sponsors of our Midsummer Classic. Working together to promote many of the incredible events is another example of MLB’s inclusive message for all baseball fans. All-Star Week is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we are all looking forward to being in Washington D.C.” In conjunction with the sponsorship, the Blade, is hosting the ﬁrst LGBTQ Pride Baseball Pop-Up during the festivities. The pop-up will be open from Friday, July 13 at 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Tuesday, July 17. The Pride Baseball Pop-Up will provide a safe space for LGBTQ attendees 21 and older during the 2018 All-Star events and will include a beer garden and full cash bar. The pop-up is located directly across the street from Nationals Park and will give fans easy access to oﬃcial events. Located on the corner of South Capitol and N Street, S.E. (1221 Vann St., S.E.), the pop-up will be the future home of Walters Sports Bar starting in 2019. The Pride Baseball Pop-Up will host the launch of the Blade’s 6th Annual Sports Issue on Friday, June 13 from 6-8 p.m.
Pride Baseball Pop-Up Hours Friday, July 13: 4PM-3AM Saturday, July 14:noon-3AM Sunday, July 15: 10AM-2AM Monday, July 16:noon-2AM Tuesday, July 17:noon-2AM For more information and updated information about special events, please visit pridebaseballbar.com.
BRIAN HOTCHKISS How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I was out to my friends at 17 and my family at 21. Besides myself, it was most diﬃcult telling my Mom.
WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY
the d.c. gay flag football commissioner answers 20 gay questions By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO email@example.com Brian Hotchkiss says D.C.’s recreational gay sports leagues are a great way to meet people and make new friends. And he should know — he’s commissioner of the D.C. Gay Flag Football League, he’s on the Huck and Run Ultimate Frisbee team, he has a Stonewall Dodgeball team (Duck Dodgers in the 21st and One-Half Century) and this summer he joined Stonewall Bocce. Hotchkiss, a teacher by day, carefully stacks his schedule so he’s never double booked for games. Huck and Run plays Mondays, soccer is Tuesday, dodgeball Wednesdays, rugby is Saturdays and football on Sundays. “If there’s ever a conﬂict, deciding between the two is tricky,” the 31-yearold Ithaca, N.Y., native says. He can’t pick a favorite but has been in the football league the longest — since fall, 2012. As commissioner, he oversees and supports all the league’s operations, a role he started in spring 2017. He juggles it all “with varying degrees of success, less sleep than is healthy and a very colorful, messy Google calendar.” Hotchkiss grew up playing baseball, football and soccer through high school and ﬂag football, lacrosse and rugby in college. He likes to watch any sport in season and has been enjoying the World Cup. He roots for the Washington Nationals and the Buﬀalo Bills. Hotchkiss works by day as a teacher at the Washington Latin Public Charter School. He came to the city in 2012 for a teaching job at Towson University. He’s single and lives with two roommates in the Bloomingdale/Shaw area. Hotchkiss enjoys sports (of course), food, running, lifting and keeping up with pop culture in his free time.
Who’s your LGBT hero? Andrew Goldstein coming out to his Dartmouth lacrosse teammates inspired me to come out. Also, I was lucky to meet John Amaechi in college and was awed by his presence and intellect. What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? I have very fond memories at my ﬁrst gay bar and club, Nellie’s and Town (RIP). I’m excited by the newly opened Pitchers. Describe your dream wedding. Small ceremony. Picturesque view. A few friends and family. Personal vows. Everyone’s invited to the rager afterwards. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? As a teacher, I’d be remiss not to say education. Besides building better schools, criminal justice reform is close to my heart. What historical outcome would you change? Kiddingly, I’d push Scott Norwood’s game-losing ﬁeld goal in Super Bowl XXV to the left. Actually, I’d tell Lincoln the reviews for “Our American Cousin” were terrible. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? It’s not one moment, but, instead, the steady rise of gay representation in media (though there’s still a long way to go). It’s still mind-blowing to me that I got to witness “Modern Family’s” gay couple go from being subversive to mundane. On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? Reminding DCGFFLers that Beach Bowl registration is closing soon! If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Something obscurely referential that, like, two people would get and I’d have to explain to everyone else who’d be like, politely, “Oh! OK, I… get it.” If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Stay gay. Being so has been so positively formative and altering that I couldn’t imagine life any other way. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? Life, being, sentience might exist. But we’ve got work to do to make ours more perfect. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Listen to and be guided by the marginalized voices of our community: People of color, people who are economically disadvantaged and trans folk. What would you walk across hot coals for? A friend. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That same-sex relationships ought to follow gendered, heteronormative binaries (e.g.: “Which one’s the man? Who’s the woman?”) What’s your favorite LGBT movie? Last year was great for gay ﬁlm: “Call Me By Your Name” and “Beats Per Minute” were both exceptional. What’s the most overrated social custom? Carb-free diets. What trophy or prize do you most covet? Secretary of Education nomination. Or a six pack. What do you wish you’d known at 18? Worry less. Do more. He isn’t the one. Why Washington? This town’s full of incredibly intelligent, passionately dedicated, just-minded, ambition-seeking citizens who believe, truly, they can make a diﬀerence. Their energy, conviction and resolve are infectious.
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temp t in g t as t e s for al l - st ar w e e k It’s not just popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks anymore at the ole’ ball game By EVAN CAPLAN The Washington Blade has announced that it will serve as a sponsor of the 2018 MLB All-Star Week, which will be hosted at Nationals Stadium. The Blade will be the ﬁrst LGBT news organization to partner with MLB on the event. This partnership has created an exciting opportunity for people across the spectrum of fandom. Baseball games can be warm, sweaty and tiring aﬀairs, and watching men in tight uniforms takes plenty of energy. To get that sustenance, the ballpark has an array of toothsome options, from high-end spots to your classic salty peanuts, as well as several bars. To make it easy on you, we’ve created a handy LGBT-appropriate guide to dining at the park, whether during All-Star Week or any time during the long, hot season. Before the game starts: Start with something refreshing and adorable to get you in the mood for the big game. Head to Section 108 for newcomer vendor District Coolers and its handy throwback bags of nostalgia. District Coolers is selling juice boxes for adults, ﬁlled with mixed drinks. Options include the likes of raspberry gin rickey and blueberry mojito, poured from a tap into your pouch. The heat just got a bit more bearable. Top of the Inning: When those balls come ﬂying, you want to be quick on your feet, so you may want to keep it light when beginning your day at the park. At Field of Greens (Section 136), the allvegetarian menu can feed a crowd or those looking for a superfood start to a game. Check out the veggie cheese steak, mushroom sandwich or the Marylandproud vegan crab cake. There’s also a gluten-free grill station in Center Field Plaza. For something a more substantive, visit Grace’s Kitchen, a hot new stand featuring fare from female chefs and restaurateurs: try subs from the likes of Pizzeria Paradiso’s Ruth Gresser or shrimp po’boys from Hank’s Oyster Bar. Between innings: Yep. Time for a drink. Whether you lean more toward the pitcher, the catcher or like them both equally, all teams are in favor of grabbing a cocktail. Take your ID with you to District of Cocktails (Sections 112 and 135), where you can not only get a buzz while
Slow smoked beef brisket, one of many yummy options available this summer at National Stadium. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONALS STADIUM
watching balls and strikes, you can also support local. The stand is pouring from a rotating menu of drinks using spirits made right here in D.C. The sourced distilleries include District Distilling, Republic Restoratives (co-founded by two lesbian women), New Columbia Distillers and One Eight Distilling. Seventh inning stretch: To soak up the drinks and rev up for the ﬁnal innings, there are two new vendors that are laser-focused on what fans are gunning for when they need true nourishment: meat. Visit Italian Outpost in Section 301,
which plates enormous, Coliseum-size sandwiches, including the sure-to-befamous Italian hot beef dip. Otherwise, we can also suggest a trip to Old Hickory BBQ in the same section. It also serves meaty sandwiches, like a juicy brisket, but the star here is the enormous nachos, a plate of chips drowned in warm, gooey cheese and smothered in hot pulled pork. Chili cheese fries from Ben’s Chili Bowl is also a good option. Extra Innings: When everyone on the ﬁeld has scored, but you’re looking for something more, there’s a full-on party
at The Yards and the Capitol Riverfront in the blocks surrounding the stadium in celebration of All-Star Week. For a nightcap, take your palate to District Winery (385 Water St., S.E.), which will oﬀer a wine ﬂight featuring four 2017 District Winery-made wines; on the rooftop terrace there will also be an “upscale tailgate.” And to round out the day with something sweet, check out Ice Cream Jubilee (301 Water St., S.E.) and its specialty Baseball Sundae: two scoops of any ﬂavor of ice cream, topped with sprinkles, whipped cream, and yes, a cherry.
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Last year’s United Night OUT soccer game. WASHINGTON BLADE FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN MAJOROS
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united night out soccer match is july 25 D.C. United to play N.Y. Red Bulls in annual LGBT fan event By ABBY WARGO D.C. United fans are invited to come out for another year of soccer and support for the LGBT community. The eighth annual United Night OUT is Wednesday, July 25 at 6 p.m. at Audi Field (100 Potomac Ave. S.W.). Hosted by Team DC and the Federal Triangles Soccer Club, D.C. United Soccer Club will play the New York Red Bulls. The annual game is the second largest in Team D.C.’s Night OUT event series after Night OUT with the Nationals. “It’s a natural ﬁt for the Night OUT series, and it has continued to grow,” says Jim Ensor, chief organizer of the event and co-captain of the Federal Triangles Soccer Club Unicorns. A portion of ticket sales, which are $30 each, will go toward a non-proﬁt LGBT organization. Some of the money will be used to support the Federal Triangles’ two teams that will be playing at Gay Games 10 in Paris. “It’s a good fundraiser, it’s social and it’s to support a local team,” he says. Ensor said that he “felt compelled” to organize a special gay event with D.C. United. “It’s been my baby from the start. … I’ve been a D.C. United fan since 1996 and I’m part of the LGBT community,” he says. Ensor says he wanted to help people from Federal Triangles, an LGBT club, feel comfortable going to professional soccer games. “It’s about getting people who wouldn’t normally go to soccer games out there,” he says. D.C. United has been supportive personally and publicly. The Night
OUT series has also helped the LGBT community gain visibility, Ensor says. Gaining corporate partners for the event was also helpful. “D.C. United is a reasonably priced, successful club. I wanted it to be a part of the (LGBT) community, which is underserved in general. (Night OUT) is a way to bridge that gap and bring the two together,” he says. Although some of the special features of the event are still in the works due to the new facility, there will be pregame festivities and discounted ticket prices. The match will only be the second game D.C. United has played on the new ﬁeld. There will also be a VIP area for groups of 10 or more people. The game will also feature giveaways and incentives like rainbow scarves. Group leaders with 10 or more guests will receive a 2018 commemorative D.C. United scarf and group leaders with 20 or more guests will receive a replica jersey. Last year, D.C. United players wore rainbow numbers on their uniforms and the team captain’s rainbow armband was sold to raise money. The Night OUT event has also received support from D.C. United supporter club the Screaming Eagles. “Through this event, they found that they’ve had LGBT supporters that they didn’t even know about,” Ensor says. Last year, the event drew 550 people, and was close to 700 people the previous year. Ensor is hoping the new stadium will generate interest. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or Eventbrite.com. The promotional code to purchase tickets via Ticketmaster is “uno.” Ensor says this represents the mantra for the event: one game, one community, united. “I hope we can all come together, even if it’s for one night, and be uno,” he says.
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Some think I should dress more like a woman. Some think I should dress more like a man.
I may not fit some ideas about gender, and I am a proud part of DC. Please treat me the same way any person would want to be treated: with courtesy and respect. Discrimination based on gender identity and expression is illegal in the District of Columbia. If you think you’ve been the target of discrimination, visit www.ohr.dc.gov or call (202) 727-4559.
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rejected by family, trans soccer player finds support from teammates Reeves Gift overcomes homelessness, heads to USC to study ﬁlmmaking By KEVIN MAJOROS Last fall, Reeves Gift was living a double life. He was making great strides in his high school classes and on the soccer ﬁeld at Chesapeake Math and IT Academy. At the same time, he was invaded by fear at the prospect of going home. The girls on his soccer team knew he was transgender, but he had never talked to his parents about it. To make matters worse, he was named homecoming king at his school’s dance. “I left for the dance in a pre-approved outﬁt and then changed into my homecoming king outﬁt,” says Gift. “I had a blast that night, but I was terriﬁed that I would be caught. There would be consequences if my parents found out.” Everything came to a head for Gift when he ﬁnally told his parents at the end of the year. The reaction was not good, and he did not feel safe in what he describes as an abusive situation. On Jan. 2, he left home and a case worker came and picked him up. He bounced around the DMV area until he found a place to stay so he could ﬁnish high school. Through all of his struggles, he experienced acceptance and release through his sport of soccer. His teammates and coaches found out he was homeless and stepped forward with emotional support. “I was surprised by the love that they showed me. It’s hard for me to process good things without being suspicious,” Gift says. “I was feeling deep emotions and deep worry. That all falls away when I am playing soccer. It’s important for me to be with people who want to work as a team.” Gift played varsity soccer as a goalkeeper through all four years of high school. At his school, the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams ran the same practices and did drills together. Even though he wasn’t able to play on the boys’ team, it was a good experience to practice with them. “It made me feel good to know that I was on par with the boys’ goalkeeper,” says Gift. “Both teams knew I was trans and I felt like one of the guys.” His situation at home that once felt like a “dark cloud of terror” evolved through his ﬁnal semester of high school. He turned 18, emancipated himself and obtained a protective order against his parents. While living on couches, he earned his high school diploma along with an associate degree through an early college program.
REEVES GIFT found himself homeless after coming out as trans to his parents. Now, he’s headed to ﬁlm school at USC. WASHINGTON BLADE FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN MAJOROS
“I have my teammates, friends and case manager to thank for all of this,” Gift says. “It was really hard dedicating the time to school and soccer with everything going on and I was afraid I wouldn’t graduate.” Coming up for Gift is one ﬁnal summer in the D.C. area. He will play soccer as a goalie with the LGBT-based Summer of Freedom Soccer League, which is hosted by the Federal Triangles Soccer Club. This fall, Gift will enter the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. With no money coming from his
family, he had to get creative to come up with the funds for college. He is using a combination of Pell Grants, gift aid, work study and a ﬁnancial aid scholarship from USC. Locally, he received a Team DC sports scholarship and a Youth Leadership Award from SMYAL. “It took a lot of reaching out to people, marketing myself and relying on the LGBT community,” says Gift. “I am hoping my journey gives me the tools and resources to help other kids in my situation. I picked ﬁlm school because I want to inﬂuence the world
and change the way the world thinks.” He says that this summer he wants to focus on healing, getting to know himself and ﬁnding closure before he heads oﬀ to college. Leaving that feeling of terror behind is important for him to move forward. Sports at USC will be on his own terms and he hopes it includes rugby. “I want to learn, be curious and explore while being in a safe space,” Gift says. “I want to temper that with compassion even if it is impossible. Everyone’s path is diﬀerent, and it is my time to rise up.”
catc hi n g u p w it h ml b’s fi rst o u t gay u mpi r e Dale Scott keeping busy advocating for LGBT visibility in sports By KEVIN MAJOROS Dale Scott is making his way through the umpire’s tunnel in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In a short time, he will throw out the ﬁrst pitch at the Baltimore Orioles ﬁrst LGBT Pride Night. “Hey, I need ﬁve minutes,” he says as he darts into the umpire’s prep room in the stadium. In the room, Scott hugs and reunites with his former co-workers, the four MLB umpires who will be working the game that night. After his appearance on the mound, Scott heads over to the dugout where he has a laugh-ﬁlled conversation with Orioles manager Buck Showalter and former MLB player Billy Bean. The respect and admiration for Scott in the stadium that night reﬂects how far Major League Baseball has progressed in regard to the LGBT community. As one of 76 MLB umpires, Scott was the only one who was openly gay. He came out in 2014. In his 3,897th game on April 14, 2017 in Toronto, Scott took a foul ball to the chin area of his mask and suﬀered a concussion and whiplash. It was his second concussion in eight months and his fourth in ﬁve years. “When I mentioned my neck, they put me in a brace and carried me out on a stretcher,” says Scott. “You know us gays, we like to make an exit.” Staring at the ceiling in the emergency room with the team doctor at his side, Scott pondered the long-term eﬀects of concussions and began to rethink his original plan to work for two more years. He was put on medical leave through 2017 and after 32 seasons as an MLB umpire, he retired on Jan. 1 of this year. Scott has been with his partner Michael Rausch for more than 30 years and they married in 2013. Retirement has resulted in a lifestyle change for both of them. “It’s nice not to be in an airport, hotel or restaurant on a daily basis though we have traveled to Italy and Germany since my retirement,” says Scott. “Mostly I have been doing a lot of nothing.” Not entirely true as he has already had a busy summer advocating for the LGBT community. In addition to his appearance at Orioles Pride Night, he also threw out
the ﬁrst pitch at the Los Angeles Dodgers Pride Night. Last month, he rode on MLB’s ﬁrst ﬂoat in the New York City Pride Parade along with Billy Bean and deputy baseball commissioner Dan Halem. They were joined on foot by roughly 200 MLB employees. This month he will speak at the National Association of Sports Oﬃcials summit in New Orleans. “For years I had to compartmentalize who I was and what I was. I realized I was in a spotlight and I had to follow their path. I had the built-in excuse of constant travel to explain why I wasn’t dating,” says Scott. “It’s easier to separate when you don’t live in the same town where you work. I knew I was out on an island, but it was easy to navigate.” He actually was dating and co-habitating with Rausch whom he met a year after his ﬁrst season in 1986 with MLB. Up until they were married in 2013 by the mayor of Palm Springs, Rausch had his own MLB I.D. card and was on Scott’s insurance as his same-sex domestic partner. “The player reactions were all positive to my coming out. They just wanted me to get calls, pitches and plays correct,” Scott says. “An Oakland pitching coach approached me and told me it took a lot of courage and guts to come out in this form.” Scott refers to the possibility of an MLB player coming out as the last bastion. He feels that for the younger generation it just isn’t a big deal. “It’s going to happen eventually. There will be a big league guy on the roster who comes out and it will be news,” Scott says. “The reaction from the players will be, “can he hit, can he ﬁeld?’” Scott’s long list of favorite memories includes working in iconic ballparks, his ﬁrst playoﬀs series, the 1998 World Series, his three MLB All-Star games and working his way up to crew chief for MLB. After a lifetime of oﬃciating in sports starting at age 15, Scott says it is really strange to be in the stands. He isn’t watching much baseball but keeps an eye on highlight reels because he is receiving calls about plays from baseball analysts. One of his guilty pleasures is watching the University of Oregon Ducks sports teams. As he has always been, he is drawn to watching the mechanics and coverages of the umpires and oﬃcials who he refers to as the third team. “That will never leave me,” says Scott. “I will always be tied to umpires and I will always be on the third team.”
Former MLB umpire DALE SCOTT threw out the ﬁrst pitch at the Orioles’ ﬁrst oﬃcial Pride Night last month. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY KEVIN MAJOROS
WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY KEVIN MAJOROS
m eet t he gay , m a s c, a ss-kic k ing p ro w r e s t l e r Mike Parrow is on a mission to compete in WrestleMania By KEVIN MAJOROS Professional wrestler Mike Parrow has a message for any young LGBT athlete that is sitting alone in a locker room wondering if they will ever be accepted. “Your sexuality has nothing to do with your athletic ability,” says Parrow. “I thought my teammates wouldn’t accept me and I was wrong. Your team will support you.” Leaving the team culture behind as a closeted college football player at Carolina Coastal University, Parrow put aside thoughts of law school to pursue a new path. At 6’4” and 345 pounds, he drove to Kissimmee, Fla., to attend the Team 3D Academy of Professional Wrestling. With no prior wrestling experience, Parrow entered a ﬁeld that is a cutthroat mix of sports and entertainment. “I came from the sports world of a football locker room where I was an alpha male,” Parrow says. “The wrestlers at the academy were not of the same sports background. I wasn’t prepared for all the diﬀerent personalities.” At the same time, Parrow was dealing with accepting his own sexuality. Along with stepping into the wrestling ring, he was about to enter another arena – the world of gay dating. “I knew I was gay, but I didn’t want to be,” says Parrow. “I was in a new town and I didn’t want people to know. I was scared.” Scared to the point that he borrowed money to pay for his own conversion therapy. He couldn’t suppress who he was anymore and decided to try dating. “I was this weird unicorn because I wasn’t part of the culture. The people I met on dating apps were rude, mean and cruel. I was called closet case, fat, ugly and was shamed for my masculinity. I was terriﬁed, and it pushed me farther into the closet,” Parrow says. “A lot of misconceptions can be talked out, but I wasn’t meeting people who wanted to talk. We make villains when we don’t need to make villains.” A lot has changed for Parrow since he got past those ﬁrst steps of accepting himself as a gay man. Based in Orlando, last month he celebrated his ﬁve-year anniversary with partner Morgan Cole. They will be married later this year.
MIKE PARROW is a professional wrestler who says ‘your sexuality has nothing to do with your athletic ability.’
“Morgan believes in me and that has led to the success I am experiencing in my wrestling career,” says Parrow. “He has passed all the tests and he talks to my parents more than I do.” Mike Parrow has found his niche in the villain faction of professional wrestling. He is considered an independent wrestler and is promoted by Evolve Wrestling and Major League Wrestling. Originally from Troy, N.Y., he grew up playing baseball, basketball and football. Both his brother and sister were involved in sports as well as his father who is still active in the Pop Warner sports programs. His mother is a Sunday school teacher and her reply to Parrow’s coming out was, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” His police oﬃcer father commented, “I wouldn’t be a very good detective if I didn’t already know.” “My parents are proud of me and I have been lucky to have had a great experience with them,” Parrow says. “I will never understand a parent not accepting their
child. Your child is yours, everything else is borrowed.” His former football teammates and the professional wrestling community have also accepted Parrow with open arms. He says his promoters are proud to have a gay, masculine, ass-kicking badass in their stable. “Pro wrestling is for every community and I love seeing people’s faces when I come out as a gay, masculine character,” says Parrow. “I have worn a Pride ﬂag over my shoulder walking into the ring, and the standing ovation and resulting tweets were very positive. That’s why I am doing me now.” Making himself visible as an LGBT role model has had tangible rewards for Parrow. In April, he was part of a Progress Wrestling match before WrestleMania in New Orleans. People stopped him on the streets of the city, some for a hug, some for a cry. “I met a gay kid from England who had come over to see me. He was literally shaking and told me ‘we don’t feel forgotten in
PHOTO COURTESY PARROW
wrestling anymore,’” Parrow says. “It makes me feel like I am doing the right thing.” Parrow has set goals for himself as he progresses through his pro wrestling career. One is a new ﬁtness regimen that helped him drop to 280 pounds. He calls it a nice mix of a ketogenic diet, CrossFit, weightlifting and elliptical work. Three days a week he works on moves with another wrestler and watches tapes. He travels most every weekend for matches, sometimes with his tag team partner, Odinson. He eventually hopes to wrestle in Europe and Japan, which could be a stepping stone to that one end goal. “The WrestleMania moment. My moment. The music hits and I am behind the curtain listening to the fans. I start crying. This whole quest, the ups and downs, the hard work was all worth it. That is my sports moment, my big goal,” says Parrow. “I like to be challenged and I want to prove you wrong. I used to be ashamed but now I am proud of who I am.”
ta k e m e o ut t o th e b al l game ? Baseball Chapel wants to spread the gospel — but what does that mean for queer players? By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO firstname.lastname@example.org Baseball and white evangelical Christianity have a long history going back to the days of Billy Sunday (1862-1935), an outﬁelder in the game’s National League in the 1880s who went on to become widely accepted as the “most celebrated and inﬂuential American evangelist during the ﬁrst two decades of the 20th century,” according to a 1955 biography. Sunday converted to Christianity and in 1891 turned down a lucrative baseball contract to go into full-time ministry with a Chicago YMCA. Although Sunday was ordained by the Presbyterian Church and his revival meetings were nondenominational, he was a strict Calvinist and taught traditionally evangelical and fundamentalist doctrine such as the inerrancy of scripture and that one must be saved to avoid hell. The links between white evangelical Christianity and “America’s pastime” continue today through organizations such as Baseball Chapel, a group that appoints team chapel leaders to provide chaplain-like services to players in both Major and Minor League Baseball to “bring encouragement to people in the world of professional baseball through the gospel so that some become discipled followers of Jesus Christ.” According to the group’s website, chapel programs are established for all 210 teams in the major and minor leagues and many independent league teams. About 3,000 players, coaches, managers, trainers, oﬃce staﬀ and other team personnel, umpires and members of the media attend. The agency was formed in 1973 when Watson Spoelstra, a Detroit sportswriter, approached Commissioner Bowie Kuhn with the idea of an organized chapel program for every major league team. By 1975, all major teams had a chapel program. The minor league component was started in 1978, according to the Baseball Chapel website. All board members and staﬀ, paid and volunteer, agree to the group’s statement of faith “without reservation,” its website notes. White evangelical Christianity has
Baseball and evangelical Christianity have a long history in the U.S. PHOTO BY BILL ANDREWS; PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA
evolved in the U.S. and there are varying views as to its origins, although it’s a relatively recent phenomenon in the history of the Christian faith. There was greater overlap of belief with mainline strains of the faith (e.g. Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal) in the early 20th century but a starker line was drawn in the 1980s when Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority linked itself to the Republican Party. There was overlap with the Jesus Movement — conservative Christianity’s answer to the Woodstock era — where the born again experience was emphasized and eventually a full-on counterculture formed with books, movies, and especially pop- and rock-ﬂavored gospel music created by and for this audience. These products existed to a far greater degree than anything comparable in mainline or Catholic Christianity. Today, just 34 percent of white U.S. evangelicals support same-sex marriage (numbers are higher among 18-29 year olds but lower overall in the Bible Belt) compared to 67 percent of white U.S. mainline protestants and 66 percent of white U.S. Catholics, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. And white evangelical support of President Donald Trump is at an all-time high, according to the same group — in an
April poll, 75 percent held a positive view of the president (81 percent of among white evangelical U.S. men). Trump won the white evangelical vote by more than 80 percent according to polling data. Not all white U.S. evangelicals believe the same doctrine. There are charismatic and non-charismatic (i.e. “speaking in tongues”) strains, but there is much overlap of belief. Baseball Chapel’s statement of faith does not mention samesex marriage or activity but reads much like those of other evangelical, anti-gay groups with language calling the Bible the “inspired, infallible word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts.” It oﬀers “daily devotions” with topics like “staying humble in success,” “thy will be done,” “remember God’s faithfulness” and many others. Some LGBT activists say even if Baseball Chapel isn’t openly condemning LGBT people, the fraught history of LGBT people and the historically heavily heteronormative world of U.S. sports culture is cause for, at least, caution. “Institutional religions have been part of the American sports story from the founding of this country,” says David McFarland, producer of the new sports documentary “Alone in the Game,” about the struggle of LGBT athletes. “I am very concerned for our LGBTQ athletes
and their ability to fulﬁll their dreams in sports. Americans have habitually turned playing ﬁelds into praying ﬁelds. And more than ever, sports have also ﬁgured into the making of America’s civil religious discourse as athletic expressions of national identity. Extreme religious themes and ideas continue to attach themselves to sports in new and innovative ways keeping LGBTQ athletes oﬀ the playing ﬁelds and living in silence.” But is there a danger of being too wary if Baseball Chapel has no anti-LGBT history to point to? If anything, it appears to have attracted more controversy for other reasons. Josh Miller, a minor league umpire for eight years, said the weekly services — always optional though held in the close conﬁnes of a locker room that made them diﬃcult to avoid — made him uncomfortable because of his Jewish faith in a 2008 New York Times interview. In 2005, the Washington Post reported that a Baseball Chapel volunteer chaplain’s assertion that Jews are “doomed because they don’t believe in Jesus” inspired Major League Baseball to reevaluate its relationship with Baseball Chapel (it continued). The group doesn’t appear to have attracted much controversy in recent years. McFarland says there are larger groups — some with annual budgets over $100 million — doing Christian outreach ministry at all levels. He says Baseball Chapel, in terms of size and scope, “doesn’t even compare” to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a more explicitly anti-LGBT group whose statement of faith says marriage is “exclusively the union of one man and one woman.” Baseball Chapel, which has eight staﬀ members (three are part-time) and hundreds of volunteers, declined the Blade’s request for an interview. In an e-mail, Baseball Chapel President Vince Nauss said the group’s work is private. “Baseball Chapel’s service to the teams are intended to be behind the scenes and thus we are careful to respect the private nature of our role with the players and staﬀ members,” Nauss wrote. “I rarely grant interviews with media outlets and therefore decline the request.” Local minor league teams say their chaplain services have been nonproblematic. A spokesman for Maryland’s Hagerstown Suns says there are no openly gay players on this season’s roster that he knows of. He wasn’t sure if any of their CONTINUES ON PAGE 43
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In three weeks, athletes from D.C. will take on competitors from around the world at the 10th edition of the Gay Games in Paris. The Gay Games are held every four years and the venues in Paris will host 12,000 athletes from more than 80 countries who will compete in 36 sports. Local athletes from multiple sports will march in the opening ceremonies together under the D.C. banner in a uniform that was organized by Team DC. John Guzman is slated to compete in his third Gay Games and is embracing a new sport in Paris. Previously, he competed in soccer and squash. He is now a member of Lambda Links and will be golﬁng individually along with playing in the team event with his partner, Steve Sparks. “The Ryder Cup is being held in Paris in September and the golf superintendent is gay. He is opening the course to all the Gay Games participants after our competition is over. I am so geeked out to play on that course,” says Guzman. “Our community has multiple things that tie us together and I love that the Gay Games oﬀers commonalities that can be built in other ways.” The water polo competition will include 32 teams competing in two divisions. Kris Pritchard will be attending his second Gay Games with his teammates from the Washington Wetskins. “Now more than ever, this event is an opportunity for the LGBT community to show the world what it means to put aside the diﬀerences our countries might have,” Pritchard says. “It’s going to be an amazing week and I tip my hat to the volunteers and organizers who are involved to make this happen.” David Monroe will travel to Paris with players from the DC Sentinels basketball team. Members from their squads have medaled in the last two Gay Games. “I was at the Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998 and Chicago in 2006. I look forward to seeing how the gay community is still coming together for inclusive competition and fun,” says Monroe. “It will be a great 10 days.” The triathlon in Paris will be contested in the sprint distance and Olympic distance. Bryan Frank from TriOut will be competing in his second Gay Games. “It will be exciting to take on an Olympic distance triathlon outside of Paris and defend my title after winning the race in Cleveland four years ago,” Frank says. “I am also thrilled at the prospect of exploring more of the Games, seeing other events, meeting athletes and experiencing Paris.”
The last Gay Games was held in Cleveland; this year, athletes are headed to Paris. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY
This will be the third Gay Games for Federal Triangles Soccer Club player Jim Ensor after competing in Cologne in 2010 and Cleveland in 2014. “I look forward to the competition and camaraderie of an international competition. It’s such a delicate balance to compete in friendship.” Says Ensor. “I love seeing how the Games are incorporated into the city and surrounding areas along with how it is received by the city.” Mick Bullock and his partner Justin Fritscher will be tackling their ﬁrst Gay Games as members of the DC Front Runners. Both will compete in the 5K and the half marathon. “We do everything together and running is one of our passions. We are excited to see Europe for the ﬁrst time and be with over 20 of our teammates from DC Front Runners,” Bullock says. “The Gay Games are a great opportunity to come together for healthy competition and meet athletes from all over the world.” At the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland, Logan Dawson competed with the Denver team in swimming. After moving to D.C., he joined the District of Columbia Aquatics Club in late 2017. His second Gay Games will be with his new teammates. “I have bonded with my DCAC teammates and would feel like I was missing out if I wasn’t going with them to Paris,” says Dawson. “It’s neat to be at a sports event that is more than a swim meet and I look forward to meeting international athletes from other sports.” Tim Murphy married Chris Walsh last month and both of them will be competing in their ﬁrst Gay Games. They are members of Capital Tennis Association and will be playing singles, doubles and mixed doubles. “We are looking forward to meeting people who have come from all over the world to play sports. It will be great to represent our country in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremonies,” Murphy says. “This is going to be part sports event and part honeymoon for us.” Gay Games X: Paris 2018 will be held from Aug. 4-11.
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w or l d c u p draws atte n ti o n to r ussia ’ s an ti -lgbt po li c i e s Arrests, harassment, beatings reported By MICHAEL K. LAVERS email@example.com Russian LGBT Sports Federation President Alexander Agapov was at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on June 14 for the ﬁrst game of the 2018 World Cup. A picture that Agapov sent to the Washington Blade shows him holding a rainbow ﬂag during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech. Apagov on July 2 said during a Facebook Messenger interview that a group of men from the North Caucasus region were the only people who “weren’t happy with the ﬂag.” “At the stadium everything was quite ﬁne,” said Apagov. Russia is hosting the World Cup against lingering criticism over a host of issues that include its LGBT rights record, the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Moscow Times last month reported Cossacks — paramilitary groups that have previously targeted LGBTI and feminist groups — were planning to report to the police same-sex couples who are kissing during the World Cup in Rostov-on-Don. Russian police on June 14 arrested Peter Tatchell, a prominent British LGBTI rights advocate, as he protested against Russia’s human rights record outside the Kremlin. Media reports also indicate a gay couple from France who traveled to St. Petersburg for the World Cup was attacked. Apagov told the Blade he questions whether the couple’s sexual orientation motivated the attack. “I tend to think this was fake news,” he said. The Fare Network — an organization that ﬁghts against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability and other factors in soccer — has opened two Diversity Houses in Moscow and St. Petersburg for World Cup fans with FIFA’s support. These Diversity Houses have also hosted meetings, presentations and other events with Russian human rights organizations. Fare Network Eastern Europe Development Oﬃcer Pavel Klymenko on July 2 conﬁrmed to the Blade during a telephone interview from Moscow the landlord of the building in which the St. Petersburg Diversity House was located told his organization the night before it was scheduled to open that it had to move. Klymenko added the Fare Network has not “had any issues” in their new location in the city.
Russian LGBT Sports Federation President ALEXANDER AGAPOV holds a rainbow ﬂag during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the World Cup. PHOTO COURTESY AGAPOV
Andrea Ayala, executive director of Espacio de Mujeres Lesbianas por la Diversidad, a Salvadoran advocacy group known by the acronym ESMULES, visited the FARE Network’s Diversity House in Moscow while she was in Russia for the World Cup. Ayala told the Blade during a WhatsApp interview from Nizhny Novgorod that she met a transgender Russian woman, a Russian woman with HIV, a pansexual woman and a woman from Chechnya. She added she did not feel “safe openly showing her diverse sexuality” outside the Diversity House. “It was very shocking for me,” said Ayala, referring to the Russians she met. “The bravery of these people is really admirable.” Putin in 2013 sparked worldwide outrage when he signed a law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors in Russia. The Kremlin has also faced criticism over its response to the anti-gay crackdown
in Chechnya that Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, broke in 2017. Elena Kostyuchenko, who is a Novaya Gazeta reporter, is among the 10 LGBTI activists who were arrested in Moscow’s Red Square as they sang the Russian national anthem before the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics that took place in Sochi. A bomb threat, a smoke bomb that was detonated during a basketball tournament and venues that abruptly cancelled events are among the disruptions the Russian LGBT Sports Federation faced when it held the Russian Open Games in Moscow a few weeks later. The Russian government did not respond to the Blade’s requests for comment for this story. A FIFA spokesperson in response to the Blade’s question about Cossacks in Rostovon-Dan said the organization has “a zerotolerance approach to discrimination.” The spokesperson speciﬁcally pointed to
Article 4 of the FIFA Statute. “Non-discrimination, gender equality and stance against racism discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin color, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion,” it reads. FIFA on June 20 ﬁned Mexico $10,000 after its fans used an anti-gay chant during a match against Germany. FIFA in recent years has also ﬁned Chile, Honduras and other countries for similar fan conduct. “FIFA is committed to ﬁghting all forms of discrimination in football, including homophobia,” a FIFA spokesperson told the Blade in 2017. Ayala defended FIFA’s eﬀorts combat discrimination. “I think FIFA is beginning to focus more on diversity,” she told the Blade. The Russian LGBT Sports Federation and the Fare Network are also hoping to work with the Russian Football Union to address homophobia and other forms of discrimination in Russian soccer. “We’re trying to inﬂuence them to work more seriously on the issues of discrimination,” said Klymenko. Agapov told the Blade he met with Russian Football Union representatives a few months ago. Agapov said he “had a very good impression and expected a lot of support from them.” “But when I asked for support...they said not this time because this topic is too speciﬁc in Russia to support our football festival,” he added. The Russian Football Union did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment. Klymenko said the World Cup “feels like a bit of a bubble, a breath of freedom” for Russians. He expressed concern the Kremlin will once again target LGBTI activists, among others, once the World Cup ends. “Obviously our biggest worry is when the World Cup is over, the situation will go back to normal,” said Klymenko. Apagov agreed, noting his organization’s events are “now supervised” by Russia’s Federal Security Services. He pointed out to the Blade they “caused problems for us” during the Russian Open Games. “They are interested in the high-proﬁle guests’ security,” said Apagov. “That’s normal and true, but remembering all the troubles we had in the past with the police and so-on, I don’t think we can feel safe when the World Cup is over.”
m eet b raz il ’ s f irs t t r a n s pro vol l ey b al l pl a y e r Tifanny Abreu reminds fans to ‘never give up on yourself’ By FELIPE ALFACE Being a professional transgender athlete in the country that kills the most transgender people in the world does not escape Tifanny Abreu’s attention. “We need more love and less hatred, more education and less discrimination, respect for all and all for respect,” she told the Blade. “That is the only way to build a better country for all.” When we talk about Tifanny Abreu it is impossible not to mention how many barriers she had to cross to become the ﬁrst transgender woman to play an oﬃcial match in the Professional Brazilian Volleyball League. But when we approached her for an interview she was more than cautious about talking about her past — an understandable hesitation coming from someone who carries the heavy load of breaking paradigms and ﬁghting for her earned right to play professionally the game she loves in spite of the negative attention she got for her ﬁrst professional participation in the Brazilian League during the 2017/18 season. Much has been said about the advantage she might have by having developed as a man and only transitioning in her late 20s – her body’s development was entirely completed as a man given her an increase in bone development as some detractors argued. But that argument points to the prejudice still rampant in the country and reveals how far Brazil is from equality and full inclusion. José Roberto Guimarães, the Brazilian national women’s volleyball head coach, already stated that the fact of the matter is that she is playing inside the rules established by the International Olympic Committee, which regulates transgender participation in sports by the testosterone levels in the athlete’s blood – to be eligible the athlete must have less than 10 nmol/L of testosterone before the debut in women’s competitions. Abreu’s tests showed she had a testosterone level of 0.2 nmol/L. Her story with professional women’s volleyball started in Italy in early 2017 playing the country’s second division for Golem Palmi. As the season ended, she went to Brazil to visit friends and family and treat a hand injury. And that is how her story with Volêi Bauru team began. She was invited by Bauru Vôlei to treat
TIFANNY ABREU, the ﬁrst transgender athlete to play professional volleyball in Brazilian League.
her injury in their facilities and using their professionals. Soon enough came the invite to stay and play for them – and she decided not to go back to Europe and play in their team to stay in her country close to friends and relatives. Problems started to surface when she recovered from her injury and started constantly being the highlight of Bauru Vôlei’s campaign, scoring a high level of points, as high as Tandara Caixeta, the Brazilian national’s team opposite spiker. Currently in training to start playing the 2018/19 pre-season, Abreu wanted to leave behind past issues and talk to us about the future. She is signed for the season with Vôlei Bauru for another year and decided to do that because her
reception in the city, by the local fans and by the staﬀ and fellow players was the best she could ever hope for. And she can expect an even better season since the team has reached to sign other featured players known for playing at a high level. An example of that is Valentina Diouf, the internationally known Italian opposite spiker. But Abreu dismisses any sign of rivalry. “There is no dispute. A team is a family. We win, ﬁght and lose together. The head coach will make a decision on which of us will make ﬁrst string. The really important thing will be the results we can reach as a team.” Abreu has already completed a season as “the ﬁrst transgender athlete” and as she probably will progress and grow
PHOTO COURTESY ABREU
in her game, she just wants to play the game she loves as “another one of the girls” away from the persecution she had to endure at her prior season of the Brazilian League. “I am just an athlete with dreams and challenges,” she said. “And like every other athlete I’ll keep ﬁghting to win the challenges I face and reach as high as possible.” By the end of the interview, Abreu was asked about transgender youth and the challenges they face, and that is when she reaﬃrmed the most important part of her strength and beliefs in a message for anyone who might be struggling with identity. “Follow your dreams. Fight for who you are and never give up on yourself,” she said.
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Art Competition & Exhibit JULY 19TH GET YOUR FREE TICKETS TODAY: sexualbeingdc.eventbrite.com
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current chaplains are with Baseball Chapel. Geoﬀ Arnold, director of broadcasting and public relations with Maryland’s Frederick Keys, a AA aﬃliate of the Baltimore Orioles, says he’s interacted with the Baseball Chapel folks “a decent amount.” There aren’t any openly gay players on the Keys, he said. “They typically oﬀer short services for players on Sundays regardless of whether the team is at home or on the road,” Arnold wrote in an e-mail. “To call it a religious group would be a stretch since they are more of a service for players who want to be able to practice their faith but can’t make it to normal services. … I can tell you that the services are non-denominational and inclusive to everyone regardless of age, race or sexual orientation. … Participation is 100 percent voluntary and it’s simply a resource. Everyone I’ve ever interacted with from Baseball Chapel
has been ﬁrst rate people who really care about the players and in some cases have played themselves.” Arnold said it’s a “super low-key environment, the services are very short and nobody is pushy or makes you feel uncomfortable.” But what about other groups? Are chaplain services oﬀered for Catholics, Jews or even possibly Muslims? Do the leagues give those faiths equal time? Arnold says he knows of “a bunch of Catholic guys who attend Baseball Chapel.” He was unaware of any Jewish groups oﬀering comparable services and says there are few Muslim players in minor league baseball. Rev. Anjel Scarborough, an Episcopal priest and LGBT ally in Ellicott City, Md., says she’s unaware of mainline, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim chaplaincies in sports settings. She says white evangelical chaplains are common in other sports as well. It’s not surprising, she says, since
outreach eﬀorts are part and parcel with evangelical belief. While Pride nights in Major League Baseball are huge now (this year 24 out of 30 teams have Pride events planned), that only started in the early 2000s. Christian groups have been at it in baseball decades longer. So is it any big deal for LGBT people if Baseball Chapel is that benign? Opinions vary. Aside from LGBT issues, Scarborough said she has other concerns. “Spiritual care from a group like this is very one-dimensional and only represents a narrow bandwidth of Christianity at that,” Scarborough, priest in charge of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Md., says. “Evangelicalism operates on a view of the church known as the salvation model. … In essence, this view is the church exists to win souls for Christ, hence the eﬀort to proselytize in alternative venues like sports teams. But that’s a pretty narrow view of why the church exists.”
She says the evangelical vs. mainline view of salvation also diﬀers. “The view in evangelical Christianity is all about salvation so you can go to heaven when you die,” Scarborough says. “In general, mainline Christianity sees salvation as a here-and-now reality, not exclusively about a future promise about what happens after death”. Matthew Vines, executive director of the Reformation Project, a group that oﬀers a “Bible-based, gospel-centered approach to LGBTQ inclusion,” says groups that aren’t more unequivocal in their LGBT positions can still be problematic. “They may not have any anti-LGBTQ language on their website, but given how many conservative Christian groups oﬀer harmful advice about how to respond to LGBTQ people who come out,” Vines said, “a closeted player considering coming out would likely worry about the message the group would send to its members about whether or not to support an out teammate.”
PFLAG promotes the equality and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons, their families and friends through: • Support to cope with an adverse society. • Education to enlighten an ill-informed public. • Advocacy to end discrimination and secure equal civil rights. Trained facilitators lead the Arlington Support Group and confidentiality is maintained. For further information about the Arlington Support Group, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our groups meet on the second Sunday of each month, from 3 – 4:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, at George Mason Drive & Route 50. A.L.Y. is a group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning Youth and Allies in grades 7-12. Our goal is to give LGBTQ youth a safe place to gather. Trained facilitators lead the youth group. Confidentiality maintained. For more info, contact: email@example.com. Our Washington DC Chapter of PFLAG may be reached at 202-638-3852.
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CA LE N D A R
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.
By ABBY WARGO
TODAY The Blade’s Sports Issue Launch Party is tonight from 6-8 p.m. at Walters Sports Bar (1221 Van St. S.E.). There will be special giveaways. Admission is free. For more information, visit facebook.com/ events. GAMMA, a conﬁdential support group for LGBT men, meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave. N.W.). For more information, visit gammaindc.org. Women in their 20s and 30s, a social discussion group for queer women, meets tonight at 8 p.m. at the D.C. Center (Reeves Building, 2000 14th St. N.W., Suite 105). All are welcome. For more information, visit gogaydc.org. The Monumental Theatre Company, at Ainsle Arts Center (3900 W. Braddock Rd., Alexandria, Va.), performs “Pippin” tonight at 8 p.m. The theater company’s summer show is directed by Rebecca Wahls, musically directed by Leigh Delano and choreographed by Ahmad Maaty. The show is sponsored by Holly Hassett, Solomon Parker and Tiziano D’Aﬀuso. Tickets are $30 at artful.ly. For more information, visit facebook.com/events. The Hagerstown Pride Kick-oﬀ Show is tonight from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at The Lodge (21614 National Pike, Boonsboro, Md.). DJ Sidekick will provide beats. Cover charge is $3 and $6 after 10 p.m. Guests must be 21 or older with a valid government ID. The main stage show begins at 10:45 p.m. and stars Chasity Vain, Maranda Rights, Madison St. Lawrence and Ivanna Rights. For more information, visit facebook.com/events. The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd. N.E.) hosts Beer Bash tonight from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. All proceeds go to beneﬁt the Imperial Court of Washington and its charities. For more information, visit facebook.com/events.
SATURDAY, JULY 14 Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St. N.W.) hosts Drag Brunch today at 10:30 a.m. Chanel Devereaux performs. The ﬁrst mimosa or Bloody Mary purchased is free. Tickets are $45.21 and can be purchased at Eventbrite.com. For more information, visit facebook.com/events. Hagerstown Pride Festival is today from noon-6 p.m. at the Central Lot and Elizabeth Hager Center Lot (14 N. Potomac St., Hagerstown, Md.) in downtown Hagerstown. Presented by Hagerstown Hopes, an LGBT nonproﬁt, this is the event’s seventh year. There will be live entertainment, vendors, speakers, and food. All are welcome and the event
WASHINGTON BLADE FILE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY
The Hagerstown Pride Festival is Saturday in Hagerstown, Md.
is family friendly. For more information, visit facebook.com/events. Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company perform tonight and Sunday night at 8 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively. The performance is at Dance Place (3225 8th St. N.E.). The dance performance features “Chakra,” a hybrid of Indian classical and modern style dance. Tickets range from $15-$30 and can be purchased at danceplace.com. For more information, visit facebook.com/events.
SUNDAY, JULY 15 The Mister Nice Jewish Boy Pageant is today from 2-4:30 p.m. at the U Street Music Hall (1115 U St. N.W.). The contestants are Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Zach Levine, Michael Ramsey and Jeremy Sherman. Mr. Nice Jewish Boy 2017 Tony Cohn hosts. In conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, all proceeds will be donated to Keshet to support their LGBT and ally Shabbaton. The event also features a raﬄe with prizes from local businesses. General admission is $15 and VIP admission is $30. VIPs receive one drink ticket, priority seating, two raﬄe tickets and a meet-andgreet with the contestants after the show. For tickets, go to ticketﬂy.com. For more information, visit facebook.com/events. The Casa Ruby LGBT Community Center (2822 Georgia Ave. N.W.) hosts Volunteer at Casa Ruby alongside the D.C. Center tonight from 7-8 p.m. Once a month, the D.C. Center partners with Casa Ruby to provide a hot meal to current residents. Individuals or organizations can volunteer to provide meals. Any amount of food is appreciated and store-bought meals are allowed. For more information, visit gogaydc.org or casaruby.org. Shania Twain brings her “Now” Tour tonight at 8 p.m. to Capital One Arena (601 F St. N.W.). Tickets range from $25-120 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.
The Imperial Court of Washington and Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd St. S, Arlington, Va.) host Christmas in July tonight from 8-10 p.m. The suggested door donation is $5 and donations beneﬁt the Court and Just a Hand non-proﬁt. Guests can receive additional door prize tickets if they bring new school supplies to donate. For more information, visit facebook.com/events.
MONDAY, JULY 16 A Dupont Circle Walking Tour meets today from 1-3 p.m. at the south exit of the Dupont Circle Metro station (1350 Connecticut Ave. N.W.). The tour will view mansions and row houses from the early 1900s, a brewmaster’s castle and Corcoran Street. Tickets are $20 per person and kids 3 years or younger are free. There is a $5 discount with a military or federal government ID. Payment is accepted in advance as well as cash or credit upon arrival. For more information, visit washingtonwalks.com. PFLAG’s monthly meeting is at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St. N.W., Suite 105) from 7-9 p.m. tonight. The meeting provides a conﬁdential space to share and learn information on current LGBT events and issues. For more information, visit gogaydc.org. A Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance meeting is tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St. N.W., Suite 105). The group meets every third Monday of the month. For more information, visit glaa.org. The D.C. Center also hosts the Center Faith monthly meeting tonight from 7:309 p.m. The interfaith networks meets every third Monday of the month. For more information, visit facebook.com/centerfaith.
TUESDAY, JULY 17 Inside Out LGBT Radio airs today from
2-3 p.m. at WPFW 89.3 FM. Listeners can call in and share comments. For more information, visit gogaydc.org. Phone Bank for the HRC National Dinner is tonight at the Human Rights Campaign oﬃce (1640 Rhode Island Ave. N.W.) at 6:30 p.m. Participants join the phone banks to solicit items for the upcoming HRC National Dinner’s silent auction on Sept. 15. No experience is necessary; HRC staﬀ will provide training and scripts. For more information, visit gogaydc.org or hrc.org. A Bi Roundtable Discussion is tonight from 7-9 p.m. at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St. N.W.). The monthly roundtable discusses issues related to bisexuality in a private setting. For more information, visit gogaydc.org.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 18 The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St. S.E.). No partner is needed to attend. For more information, call Tim Holtz at 301-345-1571. Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St. N.W.). The group is discussing “From Macho to Mariposa: Gay Latino Fiction,” edited by Charles Rice-Gonzalez and Charlie Vasquez. All are welcome. For more information, visit bookmendc. blogspot.com.
THURSDAY, JULY 19 Vida Fitness (1612 U St. N.W.) hosts a Human Rights Campaign National Dinner Table Captain Reception tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. The evening of appreciation and thanks to the National Dinner Table Captains is meant to encourage ticket sales for the 22nd annual National Dinner on Sept. 15. To RSVP, visit act.hrc.org.
W A SH I N GTO NB LAD E.C OM
J U LY 1 3 , 2 0 1 8 • 4 5
Michael Moore firstname.lastname@example.org
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103.4% Michael’s avergae list to sale price
Compass is a licensed real estate brokerage that abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Compass is licensed as Compass Real Estate in DC and as Compass in Virginia and Maryland. 1232 31st Street NW, Washington, DC 20007 |202.448.9002
46 • JUL Y 13, 2018
O U T & A BO U T
By ABBY WARGO
CALL FOR RESERVATIONS PHOTO COURTESY MUTE PR
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Erasure here for two shows next weekend Gay electro-pop legends Erasure bring their “World Be Gone Tour” to the Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) next weekend with two shows — July 20-21 at 8 p.m. each night. Reed and Caroline (“Singularity,” “Washington Machine”) open. Erasure released a 24-track live double album “World Be Live” two weeks ago. Recorded in February, it’s available on double CD, triple vinyl and digital formats. Tickets range from $47-82. Details at ticketmaster.com.
PHOTO COURTESY SETH COHEN PR
‘90s hitmaker Paula Cole plans D.C. date
Paula Cole (“Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?”) performs at City Winery Washington (1350 Okie St. N.E.) on Friday, July 20. “An Evening With Paula Cole” is from 8-11 p.m., where Cole, a straight ally, will perform her greatest hits in an intimate venue. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $30-38 and can be purchased at citywinery.com.
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Culture Club to share bill with B-52s Boy George & Culture Club (“Karma Chameleon”) performs with The B-52s (“Love Shack,” “Rock Lobster”) at 7 p.m. July 18 at the Wolf Trap’s Filene Center (1645 Trap Road, Vienna, Va.). The “Life” tour opens with the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey (“Hold Me Now”). Tickets range from $42-90 and can be purchased at wolftrap.org.
Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.) presents its annual Sizzlin’ Summer Cabaret Nights series starting Thursday, July 19 at 8 p.m. The series continues through Aug. 4. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington opens the series with “It Takes Two,” where members will perform duets and tangos. The series continues with Rochelle Rice (July 20), “An Evening of Stephen Sondheim” (also July 20), Bomb McDonald (July 21), Monumental Theatre Company (July 22) and more. Tickets are $35. Full details at sigtheatre.org.
T HE ATER
J U L Y 13, 2018 • 47
Chanting with movement
75+ COMICS. 6 VENUES. U N D E R 1 R O O F.
‘I do what I do because I love it,’ says out dancer By PATRICK FOLLIARD
Daniel Roberge was acting, singing and dancing in his native Australia when he was still a little boy. But at 16, he unwittingly embarked on a career when he began classical ballet training in New Castle, his hometown. Within a year he was successfully competing in international ballet competitions and after several additional years of training, he relocated to Washington where he’s a company dancer with The Washington Ballet. He’ll be featured in its upcoming productions “The Washington Ballet Welcomes,” “Contemporary Masters” and the annual six-week run of “The Nutcracker” followed by “The Sleeping Beauty.” During oﬀ-season from the ballet, Roberge, 27, takes on other dancing gigs. In June he was part of Chamber Dance Project’s stunning program “Ballet, Chant & Song” at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre. Chamber Dance Project’s founder and artistic director Diane Coburn Bruning says Roberge is all about “clarity and commitment. He’s a hardworking dancer who doesn’t know how to give anything less than 110 percent. He’s also a lot of fun.” “Chant,” an especially beautiful new piece in the luminous program which Bruning describes as a visceral sculpture of sound and movement, featured hauntingly sublime chanters and insanely agile ballet dancers including Roberge and two other strong male dancers clad only in long skirts. At the post performance party at trendy Hotel Monaco, a rapt female admirer recommended Roberge always dance shirtless. Recently Roberge, speaking via phone directly from the beach at gay hotspot Fire Island Pines, New York, addressed the idea of dancing shirtless and other facets of a dancer’s life. WASHINGTON BLADE: So how about dancing shirtless? DANIEL ROBERGE: With the amount of work we put into it, why not let the people see that? It’s nice to see how muscles ripple — it’s the cause and eﬀect of movement. That shows best when you’re shirtless or in tights. BLADE: And what brought you to DC, rather than, say, New York City with all its dance companies? ROBERGE: The Washington Ballet. It struck me as a good ﬁt. I liked their diverse array of work. I knew I’d be able to use my background in jazz and musical theater. I didn’t know much about the town. That
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PHOTO BY EDUARDO PATINO
DANIEL ROBERGE says Washington has been a good ﬁt for him artistically and personally.
came later. I was excited about work and fell in love with the city afterward. In my travels I’m always an advocate for the city. Subsequently I’ve found many opportunities here including doing an ad campaign for D.C.’s City Center. For right now my career is just where I’d like it to be. BLADE: And do you have a favorite ballet? ROBERGE: I like doing anything that makes me feel good whether that means the process or the music. I do what I do because I love it. That’s the only way I can put it. Each piece is unique. I feel diﬀerent things for diﬀerent pieces. I love contemporary work and I love classical ballet too although it can be a little rigid sometimes. Working on Chamber Dance Project’s “Chant” allowed us all to bring what we have to the table. And when you do that it doesn’t feel like work.
PATTON OSWALT HARRY SHEARER THE SECOND CITY RIOT! A CELEBRATION OF WOMEN IN COMEDY STARRING PHOEBE ROBINSON, BRIDGET EVERETT, AMANDA SEALES, MELISSA VILLASEÑOR, SASHEER ZAMATA NEIL HAMBURGER HARI KONDABOLU CHRIS GETHARD BABY WANTS CANDY OPHIRA EISENBERG EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH WITH CATIE LAZARUS AMANDA SEALES PRESENTS: SMART, FUNNY & BLACK wellRED COMEDY TOUR WITH TRAE CROWDER, DREW MORGAN, & COREY RYAN FORRESTER JOE’S PUB PRESENTS WHAT’S YOUR SAFE WORD? PICTURE THIS! UNDERGROUND COMEDY JO FIRESTONE AND FRIENDS ON DECK THAT’S SO RETROGRADE PODCAST THE NEW NEGROES WITH BARON VAUGHN & OPEN MIKE EAGLE JAMES ADOMIAN (BERNIE SANDERS TOWN HALL) DAVID GBORIE
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BLADE: As a kid you did musical theater. Have you brought that to Washington Ballet? ROBERGE: Yes, though I was never a principal actor, I love doing non-dancing character roles in ballet. I’m comfortable doing it and I’m good at it. I received very good reviews for playing Bottom en pointe in … “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and for tapping in another of our ballets. I’m a versatile dancer and performer for sure. BLADE: And when you’re not working? ROBERGE: My partner and I travel a lot. He’s a Midwesterner who works in medical education. Before he met me he’d never been to a ballet. We’re diﬀerent but I’ve exposed him to the arts. It’s changed him. I’ve learned a lot from him too. Also, I’m working on a liberal arts degree. It’s been interesting because as dancers we start our professional careers so early, we don’t have a lot of time for university.
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Tickets also available at the Box Office. Groups call (202) 416-8400. For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540.
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4 8 • J ULY 1 3 , 2 0 1 8
MU SI C
Stunning summer sophomore eﬀorts Beefy Steve Grand, twinky Olly of Years & Years are as musically as physically disparate By THOM MURPHY Out queer artists remain the exception in 2018. But the number who have come out or who are open about their sexuality continues to grow: Singers like Frank Ocean, Troye Sivan, Hayley Kiyoko, Janelle Monáe, Sam Smith and Brendon Urie are good examples of how queerness plays out on mainstream pop charts. But artists on the periphery of mainstream American pop rarely get the attention given to their Top 40 counterparts. Two new albums make the less mainstream queer artists hard to ignore: British band Years & Years and American singer Steve Grand are out with sophomore albums that grapple with sexuality in prominent, public ways — and both comfortably use male pronouns to refer to a love interests, something of a rarity even for queer artists. Years & Years, whose debut album “Communion” (2015) made it to No. 1 Billboard spot in the U.K., released a short ﬁlm to accompany its new dance pop record “Palo Santo.” And it has much in common with Janelle Monáe’s recent “Dirty Computer,” which imagines a dystopian future where sexual nonconformity is controlled and repressed. “Palo Santo” envisions a futuristic city where humans serve as cabaret-style entertainment for unfeeling androids. In the short ﬁlm, Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander performs in the android-controlled cabaret. Complete with strip teases and elaborate choreography, the short ﬁlm portrays humans forced into the seemingly impossible task of making the nonhuman androids feel emotion. The not-so-veiled critique of our over-connected culture comes through clearly and one can’t help but wonder if Alexander wrote parts of the album during a “Black Mirror” binge. Lyrically, Years & Years navigates this sci-ﬁ universe by way of religious language. “Sanctify,” the album’s lead single, is an up-tempo, sensual track with relatively sparse instrumentation — the verses rely heavily on percussion. The layered harmonies and vocal trills are reminiscent of early 2000s boybands like ‘NSYNC. But there’s something else at play, a subversive sensuality ﬁltered through religious vocabulary. As Alexander croons sweetly in the chorus, “Sanctify my body with pain/sanctify the love that you crave.” This interesting — to say the least — marriage of religious expressions and
ALEXANDER PHOTO BY ED COOKE; GRAND PHOTO COURTESY THE SINGER
OLLY ALEXANDER, the British Years & Years frontman, uses religious imagery to great eﬀect on his band’s new album. Corn-fed gay hunk STEVE GRAND is also back with an easy-on-the-ear rock/country hybrid eﬀort.
queer sexuality occurs over and over throughout the album. In “Hallelujah,” an upbeat dance track, he ties the word to the body of a lover: “Until our bodies are singing hallelujah.” The repurposing of religious verbiage is something of a band trademark: “Communion” was not a haphazard choice of title for their debut album. And many of the tracks on “Palo Santo” reﬂect this tendency, with titles such as “Sanctify,” “Hallelujah” and “Preacher.” Alexander is clearly invested in pushing lyrical boundaries. The catchiest track on the album is “If You’re Over Me,” a cheery dance track with a bouncy synth hook. Consequently, it’s the song Alexander performs at the cabaret in the short ﬁlm. The lyrics address familiar breakup themes: “Well you should set me free/baby if you’re over me.” But the song is irresistibly danceable and has already been performing well on the charts, arriving at No. 6 on the Billboard Oﬃcial U.K. Singles Chart. But the album isn’t all dance. As with the “Communion,” “Palo Santo” shows a great deal of variety. The title track plays with various rhythms and is piano driven. In “Here,” the most subdued track on the album, Alexander relies on his upper register and layered harmonies to create a haunting, ethereal sound. The
simplicity of the lyrics add to the eﬀect: the chorus is just a simple repetition of the phrase “I’m not here.” “Palo Santo” stands out not only for its high production values — the costumes and choreography — but also for its seamless ﬂow. Each track is meticulously placed. The album’s overall sound and Alexander’s vocals are at times reminiscent of Justin Timberlake’s on “FutureSex/LoveSounds” (2006). And it stands as a reminder that queer artists need not sacriﬁce musical quality for a strong concept. If Years & Years trends continental, edgy and futuristic, Steve Grand is a fully homegrown product. Following the success of his 2015 album “All American Boy,” the singer from suburban Illinois has been a ﬁxture of the gay community, regularly performing at summer concerts in Provincetown and at Pride festivals, and relishing the opportunity to sing in his underwear — almost as much as his enthusiastic fans. Much like his previous album, “Not the End of Me” bounces between piano-driven pop/rock and country. But the album cover shows an unsmiling, bearded Grand, who seems ready to show a deeper part of himself. Writing as a gay man, the songs deal with relationships, hook-up culture and cheating. There are many things to like about
Grand’s new album. His lyrics are wonderfully conversational and he’s an excellent storyteller. His songs have a refreshing down-to-earth quality. Though the reverb is often overdone and he’s sometimes more than a little cheesy, there is something almost irresistible and believable about Grand’s music. The single “Walking” is a synthesizerheavy dance track. It’s a fun, catchy song that is likely to ﬁnd its way into nightclubs. It comes closest to the youthful, carefree feeling of songs like “Better Oﬀ” and “AllAmerican Boy” from the previous album. “Ain’t It Something” has the feel of Jason Mraz song, a summer romance with a beach vibe. As Grand charmingly puts it, “You walked in with that grin, as if proud of the job you did/Hiding that southern accent, but I know a ‘good-ole’ boy’ when I see him.” But Grand is at his best when he’s behind the piano. And the more reﬂective material on “Not the End of Me” gives him the chance to do just that, particularly on tracks “Don’t Let the Light In,” “Anti Hero,” “All I Want” and “Can’t Go Back.” Years & Years and Steve Grand exemplify queer artists outside of the mainstream who are unafraid to make sexuality a central theme of their music. And in all likelihood, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
A D V I CE
J U L Y 13, 2018 • 49
Conditional love Lesbian can’t win between religious parents, demanding ex
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
MICHAEL, My girlfriend Becky broke up with me after nine months because I’m not out to my religious parents. They’ve made it clear my entire life that gay people are not acceptable. If I were to come out to them, I’m certain they would disown me. I couldn’t care less about not getting an inheritance. I just don’t know how I would live without my parents’ loving me. They don’t live in the area so I only see them a couple times per year. When I returned after visiting them for Father’s Day, Becky had moved out. I think it’s really mean of her to be trying to get me to essentially choose between a relationship with her or a relationship with my parents. She isn’t in my shoes. Her parents, whom I know because they live in D.C., are totally supportive and were with us at Pride a few weeks ago. She can’t imagine having parents who would stop loving her as mine would. And she can’t understand why I’m not mad at them. But I believe you can’t be angry at people over their religious convictions. I’m heartbroken. I love Becky and have done my best to be a great girlfriend. I’ve been happier with her than I’d ever previously been. Now she pulled the carpet out from under me. Is her behavior fair?
MICHAEL REPLIES: This is not a question of fair. Becky gets to decide whether she wants to be with you or not, whatever her reason. You can’t force her to be with you. Likewise, you get to decide if you want to be out to your parents or not. Becky can’t force you. But she doesn’t want to be with you, if you aren’t. I’m sorry you’re in pain right now and I’m sorry you’re in a tough situation that’s likely to recur unless you change the conditions of your life. Suppose you get into another relationship. Even if you see your parents infrequently, how might hiding your relationship from them torque your life? Would you be afraid to live with your signiﬁcant other for fear that your parents might visit? If you wanted to become parents yourselves, would you be able to conceal that from your own parents? Would you be able to keep your story straight (literally) so as not to slip up and give yourself away? Who would want to accompany you on such a life journey? Going along with your secrecy and contortions would be a hardship and a headache. I’d also venture to say that hiding from your parents must be negatively aﬀecting your self esteem. No matter what justiﬁcation you make for your parents, part of you has to believe you’re not OK if you’re willing to keep yourself in a straitjacket in order not to oﬀend them. Low self esteem doesn’t make you great relationship material. I’m not telling you to come out to your parents. No one can make that decision but you, but believing that you need your parents’ love to survive and that they must think you’re straight so that they will love you, will constrict your life and interfere with your eﬀorts to ﬁnd someone to love you for whom you actually are. Perhaps they might surprise you and choose you over their religious beliefs. But you can’t force them to accept you. All you can do is decide whether what you have with them is worth what you’re losing in return.
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Buying a house? Who’s gonna pay for it? Tips for preparing financially for home ownership By JOSEPH HUDSON There are lots of questions people have in their minds about being able to afford a house. Especially in cities like Washington D.C., New York, San Francisco – any of these metro areas that have rapidly grown and changed over the last few decades. Housing costs have increased significantly. A quick search shows that the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. has been hovering around the $2,000 mark for over the last five years. Some years and months above, some below. So how does one begin the arduous task of putting money away to buy a home when such a large portion of your paycheck goes to just paying for the place you currently inhabit? Well, fortunately D.C. has some programs, and your Realtor can use some techniques to help you put a small amount down, or even get a seller credit to help cover some of your closing costs. It’s not a guarantee in every situation, but I think it might be easier than some people think to get themselves out of paying someone else’s mortgage (renting) and
Shopping for a house and don’t have 20 percent to put down? Don’t worry, there are programs to help. PHOTO BY ANDY DEAN PHOTOGRAPHY; PHOTO COURTESY OF BIGSTOCK
paying their own. For example, programs like D.C. Opens Doors and the HPAP (Home Purchase Assistance Program) are sometimes useful for people who don’t have a lot of cash available. D.C. Opens Doors can help people have a 3% or 3.5% down payment which converts to a grant if the homeowner stays in the property for five years. Then the purchaser just needs to have
the closing cost cash on hand. D.C. Opens Doors is attractive for competitive offer situations, which happen often in this city, because you can still have a 30-day closing period, which is pretty common. There are income maximums and loan amount maximums that apply here, but they are pretty healthy and people with average incomes in this city would qualify. With regards to HPAP, this is how it
is described on the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development website: “As of 2017, eligible applicants can receive a maximum of $80,000 in gap financing assistance and an additional $4,000 in closing cost assistance. The HPAP 0% interest loan for borrowers with incomes below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) is deferred until the property is sold, refinanced to take out equity, or is no longer their primary residence. Moderate-income borrowers who earn between 80 percent and 110 percent AMI will have payments deferred for five years with a 40-year principal-only repayment period. The maximum first trust loan amount cannot exceed $417,000, the conventional conforming loan limit.” There are many other details regarding these programs, and if you really want to know more, contact me, and I can put you in touch with a local lender who understands the ins and outs of these programs, and can walk you through what you need to prepare financially for transitioning into home ownership! Oh, and there’s always Powerball and Mega-Millions, too.
JOSEPH HUDSON is a Realtor with the Oakley Group at Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or email@example.com.
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Looking to buy or list your home this summer? Call me anytime for a free consult. With over 23 million in sales last year and a masters in architecture, my background and commitment to service will help you find, sell or buy the home that is perfect for you.
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Washingtonblade.com, Volume 49, Issue 28, July 13, 2017