Washingtonblade.com, Volume 49, Issue 51, December 21, 2018

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Happy holidays from the Blade




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Happy Holidays

From F rom Empowerment Liberation Cathedral & Bishop Allyson Abrams, D.Min

Meet us on Sundays at 1p for worship services in DC. All LGBT Christians are affirmed at ELC. 2019 Special Events at ELC in DC. Join us. 01.20.19 - Dr. King Sunday 1p 02.17.19 - S.T.U.D. Sunday 1p 04.14.19 - Palm Sunday 1p 04.21.19 - Easter/Resurrection Sunday 1p 05.03.19 - ELC Anniversary Praise Night 7p 05.05.19 - ELC’S 5th Church Anniversary 1p 08.11.19 - Family & Friends Sunday 1p 08.18.19 - Back To School Sunday 1p 10.13.19 - Praying In Pink (Cancer Awareness) Sunday 1p 10.27.19 - Domestic Violence Awareness Sunday 1p 11.10.19 - Veterans Sunday 1p 11.17.19 - Transgender Day of Remembrance Sunday 1p 12.08.19 - ELC Christmas Fellowship 6p 12.22.19 - Christmas Worship 1p 12.31.19 - Watch Night Worship 10p

ELC, 5301 North Capitol St NE, Washington DC (PCUCC Sanctuary)



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Comings & Goings


Baltimore Eagle to stay closed through the holidays

De Guzman named acting director of Office on Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs

City liquor board delays decision on request to transfer license



The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: comingsandgoings@washblade.com. Congratulations to Ben de Guzman, named Acting Director of the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (MOAPIA). He most recently served as the Community Outreach Specialist in the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Questioning (LGBTQ) Affairs, BEN DE GUZMAN helping to lead the agency’s constituent services and engagement efforts. De Guzman has been a leading voice at the local and national level on issues of racial equity, immigrants’ rights, veterans’ affairs, and LGBTQ justice for 20 years. Previously, de Guzman served on the Executive Committee for the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure a legacy of remembrance for Filipino WWII veterans and their service to the U.S. and the Philippines. He led their communications, outreach and political strategies leading to the passage of the Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act in 2016. He also served as the National Coordinator for the National Alliance for Filipino DAVID DO Veterans Equity, where he organized a national legislative campaign that created the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund in 2009. In October 2015 he helped coordinate Mayor Bowser’s first-ever Filipino American History Month commemoration. Among his other positions, he served as National Managing Coordinator for the Diverse Elders Coalition. He coordinated local and national strategies to bring the voices of diverse constituencies to the 2015 White Conference on Aging. He planned the only Town Hall Forum providing feedback to Conference planners that was translated simultaneously in four languages; English, Spanish, Khmer, and Tagalog. He was principal staff at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, where he managed the policy and programmatic work for NQAPIA and its federation of 40 Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander LGBT groups around the country. As a trainer for OCA: Asian Pacific American Advocates APIAU Leadership 101 program for more than a decade he has trained over 1,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Congratulations also to David Do, named Interim Director of Department For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV). Since 2015, Do served as Director of the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (MOAPIA). On taking the new job he said, “As the Department of For-Hire Vehicles continues to innovate the industry, I am looking at how big data will help us address equity and affordability issues in transportation. The key to that is looking at how we can leverage the industry to serve our most vulnerable communities.” Do is a seasoned community advocate and a champion for neighborhood and constituent engagement. Prior to working for Mayor Bowser he served in the administrations of both Mayors Adrien Fenty and Vincent Gray. He has extensive experience working with numerous businesses and community-based organizations around the District, including his promotion of capital improvement grants during his tenure in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). Do earned a bachelor’s in Economics from the University of California, Merced and a master’s in Community Planning from the University of Maryland, College Park. He has also gone through the George Washington University/Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, certified public manager and regional executive program.

Members of Baltimore’s leather community will have to go some place other than the Baltimore Eagle this season to spread holiday cheer. Baltimore’s liquor board decided not to take action on a request to transfer ownership of the liquor license for the recently shuttered leather bar until it has more information on which to base a decision. The board held a hearing on Nov. 29 to consider a request to transfer the license to Baltimore Eagle LLC, an entity headed by Lorraine Parrish and Kathleen Church, The Baltimore Eagle closed abruptly who are affiliated with the landlords of in July after a dispute between its the property at 2022 N. Charles St. owners and managers. But after hearing from three lawyers WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY CHRIS JENNINGS with different positions on the transfer, the board members stopped the public meeting and said they would take up the matter again on Jan. 10. That means the bar, which closed in July following a dispute between the landlords and their managers, must remain closed at least until then. Before it closed, the Baltimore Eagle was operated by a group called 4 Crazy Guys LLC, headed by Charles King and Greg King. Lorraine Parrish is married to Ian Parrish and is the daughter-in-law of Charles Parrish, the landlords of the Eagle property, and Church is an employee. According to their liquor board application, Lorraine Parrish would own 99 percent of the stock in Baltimore Eagle LLC and Church would own one percent. The Eagle’s liquor license had been transferred to the Charles Street property in 2016 from the Hippo, a gay dance club that closed in 2015. The Eagle had been dormant for several years following the death of a previous owner and reopened in late 2016 after extensive renovations. At the Nov. 29 hearing, the board members said they needed to determine who controls the liquor license now before they can make any decisions about transferring it to new operators. An attorney for the Parrishes told the liquor board that he believes the license automatically reverted to the landlords after 4 Crazy Guys abruptly shut the business in July. He cited an 1823 court ruling that he said supports his position. An attorney for John Yelcick, the primary investor in the club, told the liquor board that Yelcick has a judge’s order awarding him the liquor license. The liquor board postponed its decision after a third attorney, Adam Spence, said he was the court-appointed receiver for the assets of 4 Crazy Guys group, including the liquor license. Spence warned the liquor board that it does not have the jurisdiction to transfer the liquor license of a business under receivership until it is authorized to do so by a judge with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. He said a court hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Jan. 7. “We have two parties who are disputing who owns” the liquor license, Spence said after the hearing. “I can’t have the liquor license transferred until the court makes sense of it.” Before it closed, the Eagle was one of the largest LGBTQ-friendly clubs in Baltimore. The dispute became public after the Kings posted a message on their website stating that their landlords “meddled” and interfered with the way they operated the business. Ian Parrish said the applicants were prepared to reopen the bar “right away,” if the board had granted the transfer request. He said the principals of Baltimore Eagle LLC have been working to assemble a staff to operate the business in case the license transfer was approved but understand they will now have to wait until the next liquor board hearing. Parrish declined to say who would be hired. Before it closed, the Eagle had about 30 employees.



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Stein Club honors Danica Roem

Rep. NANCY PELOSI stopped by Floriana on 17th Street on Friday. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL KEY

Pelosi visits Floriana, plugs Equality Act Gay manager decorates tree in honor of soon-to-be House Speaker By LOU CHIBBARO JR. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told LGBT activists and others who joined her on a visit last Friday to a Christmas tree outside Floriana Restaurant on 17th Street, N.W. near Dupont Circle that’s dedicated to her that she will give top priority to passing an LGBT rights bill in 2019. Dito Sevilla, who works as Floriana’s bar manager, said he has been in charge of arranging for the installation of a large Christmas tree on the plaza in front of the popular Italian restaurant. He said he decorates the tree each year with a different theme, drawing the attention of Floriana customers and nearby residents and visitors. “This year I said, ‘oh my God, it has to be Nancy Pelosi,’” he told the Blade. “She’s going to be our next Speaker. She’s the Democratic leader. And she looks terrific. And so that’s where it all began.” The 17-and-a-half-foot tall Douglas fir tree has a large photo of Pelosi holding the Speaker’s gavel from when she was House Speaker in 2009 as its tree-top ornament. In addition to having more than 9,000 lights glowing at night, Sevilla placed on the tree more than a dozen American flags and large white ribbons with the names of the women elected to the U.S. House in the 2018 mid-term election along with photos of some of them. “This is really something,” said Pelosi when she arrived at the site at 1601 17th St., N.W. “It’s really remarkable. I’m going to show the pictures to my grandchildren.” Among those joining Pelosi were members of her staff and friends and well-wishers, including several gay activists who live in the neighborhood. Among them were former Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance President Rick Rosendall and Democratic activist and political commentator Peter Rosenstein. Pelosi agreed to numerous requests by neighborhood residents to pose with them for photos. When asked by the Blade whether she thought the LGBT rights bill known as the Equality Act would come up for a vote in the House after Democrats take control of the body in January, Pelosi said she was certain the measure would pass in the House. “But the way that we will be successful – not only that we can pass it but we want it to become law,” she said referring to its prospects of passing in the Republican-controlled Senate. “So we think our best friend in all of this will be public opinion,” she said. “The public sees what this is and says let’s just get on with it – let’s just get on with it.” Pelosi said that along with the Equality Act, House Democrats would be pushing hard for “responsible background checks to end gun violence” and for legislation to protect “dreamers,” the mostly young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who have lived in the U.S. most of their lives. Sevilla said Pelosi’s visit was initiated by some of her staff members who live in the neighborhood. “The tree started getting some traction and people started getting their picture taken in front of it and hash-tagging it,” he said. “And a couple of people from her office I think live up the street and they ended up stopping by. And they said we have to bring her by. She would love this,” he said. “And one thing led to another and they gave me a call…and here they are,” said Sevilla.

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s largest local LGBT political group, honored Virginia House of Delegates member Danica Roem (D-Manassas) on Monday night by presenting her with its Justice Award at the club’s annual holiday party. Roem became the first transgender person to take office in the Virginia General Assembly on Jan. 5 following her November 2017 election. She thanked the Stein Club for its support of her campaign last year and invited club members to get involved in her 2019 re-election campaign. She told the Blade she will be running for a second two-year term in the House of Delegates on what she believes was a strong record of accomplishment during her first year in office. Just this week, she said, commuter bus service began for the first time ever in parts of her district that include Haymarket and Gainesville, a development she pledged to work for as part of her election campaign platform calling for improved transportation in Northern Virginia. “I voted to secure the funding for that,” she said. “And I was part of the bipartisan coalition that got it done.” Roem noted that the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority in June also allocated $120 million for improvements for Route 28, an important commuter artery in her district. “So we’re getting stuff done. And I’m running on my record. I’m unapologetically running on my record,” she said. “And while I’m doing it, I’m still myself. It’s like that’s never going to change. And I’m still a champion for equality. I’m still a champion for inclusivity.” The Stein Club’s president-elect, Monika Nemeth, said Roem was an inspiration to her when she ran and won election in November to a seat on D.C.’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission in Ward 3, becoming the first known transgender person to be elected to an ANC position in the city. Nemeth will succeed gay Democratic activist Earl Fowlkes as the Stein Club president in January. She pointed out that while there are no scheduled local elections for public office in D.C. in 2019, important elections for the Virginia Legislature will take place that year. She said she will push for the Stein Club and its members to visit Roem’s district early in the year to volunteer for her campaign. At the Stein Club’s holiday party Monday night, Fowlkes presented the club’s Frank Kameny Pioneer Award named after the late D.C. gay rights leader Frank Kameny to Nemeth for what Fowlkes said was her pioneering and successful efforts to run for public office in D.C. as an out transgender woman. The club presented its Desi Deschaine Young Democrat of the Year Award to Matthew Abbruzzese, the newly elected Stein Club secretary, among other things, for his campaign work for D.C. Democratic candidates over the past several years. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Activists attend Council ceremony opposing violence against sex workers LGBT activists were among those attending a ceremony at the D.C. Council chamber on Tuesday commemorating a resolution the Council passed earlier this month recognizing Dec. 17 as the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large), who introduced a bill last year calling for decriminalizing sex work in the District, formally presented the resolution during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Council’s Committee of the Whole. He was joined by members of the D.C. Sex Workers Advocacy Coalition, which includes at least three local LGBT rights organizations and the sex worker advocacy group HIPS. Grosso noted this was the third year in a row in which the Council passed the resolution recognizing the international day opposing violence against sex workers. “Normally, we pass the resolution and I present it at a community event to mark the day, but this year I thought it would be important to make the presentation here in the Council chamber,” he said. “That is because many people are unfamiliar with this day and what it represents – the simple idea that no one should be a victim of violence because of being involved in commercial sex.” LOU CHIBBARO JR.


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Campaign urges ‘courageous conversations’ during holiday season ‘Words Matter’ aims to counter bias against LGBT people of color By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com The National Black Justice Coalition, a D.C.-based civil rights organization that advocates for black LGBT people, issued a statement last week calling for “courageous and life-saving conversations during the holiday season” to help curtail bias and stigma faced by LGBT people of color. In its Dec. 12 statement NBJC pointed to two recent developments that highlight what it called the stigma and bigotry LGBT people, especially black LGBT people, continue to face that sometimes surface in the popular media. “This past weekend, Twitter and traditional media blew up after comedian D.L Hughley called Trans actress Indya Moore a ‘pussy’ and Kevin Hart resigned from hosting the Oscars after refusing to apologize for extremely homophobic language,” NBJC said in its statement. Hart, an actor-comedian, later issued an apology to the LGBT community for what he called “insensitive words from my past” that surfaced recently from his past postings on Twitter. Hughley declined to apologize and said he didn’t believe Hart should have

‘No one wins when we don’t dig in, grow, and demonstrate a desire to honor everyone’s humanity,’ said NBJC Executive Director DAVID JOHNS.


withdrawn from serving as host of the Oscars scheduled to take place in Hollywood in February. NBJC noted in its statements that the anti-LGBT remarks attributed to Hughley and Hart were followed by an incident in New York City in which a 20-year-old woman suffered a fractured spine in

an attack in the subway by a man who shouted an anti-gay slur. “As we move into the holiday season, a time for family, sharing love, and good cheer, it is important to remember the many ways that Black LGBTQ and same gender loving people as well as individuals thriving with HIV face stress, ridicule, and

the risk of rejection simply as a result of who they are and how they show up in the world,” the statement says. The group said its call for “courageous and life-saving conversations during the holiday season” is part of its recently launched “Words Matter Campaign” and a recently released “Digital HIV Toolkit,” which outlines actions people can take to educate and persuade their loved ones and others to end bias and stigma against LGBT people and people with HIV. “Words Matter is based largely on NBJC’s commitment to creating spaces where all Black people feel comfortable showing up in all of their identities and empowering individuals to have stigma free, asset based conversations with their parents, family, and friends,” the statement says. NBJC has also released on its website a link to an online pledge it is urging supportive people to take to show they oppose anti-LGBT and HIV bigotry, especially toward black LGBT people. “No one wins when we don’t dig in, grow, and demonstrate a desire to honor everyone’s humanity,” said NBJC Executive Director David Johns. “We cannot hide stigma and bigotry behind jokes,” he said. “There’s power in precision and words matter,” Johns said. Information about NBJC’s Words Matter Campaign and its Pledge against anti-LGBT and HIV bias can be accessed at nbjc.org.

W.Va. judge refuses to perform same-sex marriages Following complaint, he stops performing all weddings By LOU CHIBBARO JR. lchibbaro@washblade.com A West Virginia judge who twice won election to the bench in a section of the state near the Maryland border has discontinued performing all marriages rather than face possible disciplinary action for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. Fairness West Virginia, a statewide LGBT rights group, said it filed a complaint against Judge Lynn A. Nelson of the Twenty-First Judicial Circuit covering Grant, Mineral, and Tucker Counties after one of the judge’s clerks told the group he performed marriages for opposite-sex couples but not for same-sex couples. In a Dec. 10 statement, Fairness West Virginia said it filed the complaint with the state Judicial Investigations Commission,

Judge LYNN NELSON has stopped performing all marriages rather than marry gay couples.

which it said issued a warning to Nelson on Oct. 25 and then “dismissed the matter.” The group said it filed the complaint after first contacting the judge’s office for an explanation and received no response. “Last week, Fairness contacted Nelson’s office again and learned from a clerk that he has stopped performing marriages altogether,” the group said in its statement.

“It is unfortunate, because it appears that the judge is willing to deny this service to everyone so as to avoid providing equal treatment to gay and lesbian couples,” said Andrew Schneider, the group’s executive director. “Private citizens like clergy are free to choose who they marry or refuse to marry, but public officials must treat everyone the same, by law,” Schneider said. He called on Nelson to provide marriage services to everyone, even though his decision to stop performing all marriages means he’s technically treating all couples equally. “Loving same-sex couples only want what their opposite-sex counterparts have, the ability to be married and live their lives together,” Schneider said. The West Virginia judiciary website says Nelson served in the elected position of Mineral County prosecutor from 1989 to 2008. He won election to the bench in the TwentyFirst Judicial Circuit in 2008 and was re-elected to a second eight-year term in 2016.

Fairness West Virginia said it learned of Nelson’s refusal to perform samesex marriages through a telephone survey it conducted of all of the state’s Circuit Court and Family Court judges to determine which ones performed marriage ceremonies. It said Nelson’s was the only office that stated the judge did not perform same-sex marriages. The group says its survey found that about half of all judges said they don’t perform marriages at all and that in four counties in the state – Ritchie, Wood, Wayne, and Gilmer – no public officials perform marriages. As a means of assisting gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage related services Fairness West Virginia says it has compiled a statewide LGBTQ+ Wedding Resource Guide that “lists more than 70 ordained individuals who are willing to officiate ceremonies, regardless of the gender of those being married.” The guide can be accessed at fairnesswv.org.


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ICE official defends treatment of transgender detainees Trans woman with HIV died in May while in custody By MICHAEL K. LAVERS mlavers@washblade.com An official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday defended the agency’s treatment of transgender people who are in its custody. Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, the gay deputy assistant director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Custody Programs, during an interview with the Washington Blade at ICE headquarters in Southwest Washington noted a 2015 memorandum that then-ICE Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations Thomas Homan signed. The directive requires personnel to allow trans detainees to identify themselves based on their gender identity on data forms. It also contains, among other things, guidelines for a “respectful, safe and secure environment” for trans detainees and requires detention facilities to provide them with access to hormone therapy and other trans-specific health care. A unit for trans detainees opened at the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, N.M., in 2017. A unit for gay, bisexual and trans detainees opened at the Santa Ana Jail in Orange County, Calif., in 2011. The unit from 2014 housed only trans detainees. It closed last year after ICE’s contract with the Santa Ana Jail ended. Lorenzen-Strait told the Blade the 2015 memorandum includes recommendations from the Human Rights Campaign and other advocacy groups that include Lambda Legal. The Imperial Valley LGBT Resource Center in El Centro, Calif., and other advocacy groups are conducting trainings with ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection that focus on improving the treatment of LGBTI detainees. “LGBTI care is of paramount importance to us,” said Lorenzen-Strait. Lorenzen-Strait also provided the Blade with a copy of a training for ERO staff on the memorandum. The training contains a timeline of the trans rights movement. It also defines the words “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” “transgender” and “intersex” and “transgender women” and “transgender men.” “The word transgender relates to a person’s gender identity,” says the training. “Specifically, transgender refers to individuals whose assigned sex at birth does not match their internal feelings of gender.” The training contains interviews with Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Jessica Hawkins, who is the first openly trans person to be named director of the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit, and

An LGBTI advocacy group in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, honors ROXSANA HERNÁNDEZ, a transgender woman with HIV who died in ICE custody on May 25. WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS

others who talk about their experiences as trans people. It also contains a portion of Caitlyn Jenner’s 2015 interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC in which she came out as trans. The training contains a list of “unacceptable terms” in English and Spanish — including “faggot” and “maricón“ — that ERO staff should not use when speaking with LGBTI detainees. “They can very easily be considered disrespectful or even harassing or abusive,” says the training. “Similarly, do not joke about a detainee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Doing so promotes an environment in which the mistreatment of LGBTI individuals is seen as both acceptable and tolerated. You should also resist the urge to label individuals based on your own assumptions or stereotypes before you know how they identify.” The training also shows a scenario of an ERO officer who is processing a trans woman who had just been detained. “At no time shall a search be conducted for the sole purpose of determining a detainee’s biological sex,” it notes. “Placement into segregation should only occur when necessary and in compliance with applicable detention standards. Placement into administrative segregation due to a detainees’ identification as transgender should be used only as a last resort.” The training notes one of ERO’s “highest priorities” is “ensuring the safety and security of everyone in our custody, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, or collectively LGBTI.” Lorenzen-Strait reiterated this point during the interview. “I take this charge very importantly,” he

told the Blade. “I am a member of the gay community. I have a husband. I have kids.” Lorenzen-Strait spoke with the Blade less than seven months after Roxsana Hernández, a trans woman from Honduras with HIV, died in ICE custody. CBP on May 9 took Hernández, 33, into custody when she asked for asylum at the San Ysidro port of entry near San Diego. She was transferred to the Cibola County Correctional Center a few days later. Hernández was admitted to a local hospital “with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV” on May 17. Hernández died on May 25. An initial autopsy listed the cause of death as cardiac arrest. The Transgender Law Center last month released the results of a second autopsy that shows Hernández was beaten before she died. The second autopsy also concludes the cause of death “was most probably severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection, with the probable presence of one or more opportunistic infections.” A letter that U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) sent to Acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello and CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan on Dec. 5 cites reports that indicate Hernández “endured freezing temperatures and was denied adequate food, water and medical care” while in custody at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and “vomited” while ICE transported her between facilities. CBP on Dec. 6 took Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala, her father and more than 100 other migrants into custody near the Antelope Wells port of entry in New Mexico.

Reports indicate Caal was flown from a Border Patrol station to a children’s hospital in El Paso, Texas, after her father told agents she was sick and throwing up. Caal died on Dec. 8. Lorenzen-Strait on Tuesday did not discuss the Caal case, in part, because she had been in Border Patrol custody. ICE spokesperson Danielle Bennett in a previous statement described allegations that Hernández was “abused in ICE custody” as “false.” President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that includes the separation of migrant children from their parents has sparked widespread fear and outrage among immigrant rights groups. U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) told the Blade in June after he and other lawmakers traveled to South Texas there are no policies in place that specifically address the needs of LGBTI migrant children who have been separated from their parents. LGBTI people from El Salvador, Honduras and other Central American countries in which violence and discrimination remains rampant continue to migrate with hopes of reaching the U.S., despite the Trump administration’s policies. Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa, an LGBTI advocacy group in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, on a wall inside its offices has a picture of Hernández and those of more than a dozen local activists and community members who have been killed over the last decade. Melani Sofía Rosales Quiñones, a trans woman from Guatemala City, told the Blade earlier this month in the Mexican city of Tijuana she was in a coma for three days after a group of men attacked her and beat her jaw. Rosales also said gang members threatened to kill her mother and her younger brother after she filed a complaint against them with the local police. “People are not going (to the U.S.) because it’s so beautiful,” Andrea Ayala, executive director of Espacio de Mujeres Lesbianas por la Diversidad, a Salvadoran advocacy group, told the Blade on July 13 during an interview in the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador. “People migrate because they will die and because they are hungry and because they are in need.” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in particular has faced harsh criticism over the Trump administration’s immigration policy. Lorenzen-Strait on Tuesday said the Department of Homeland Security, ICE and CBP continue to support efforts to provide adequate care to LGBTI detainees in their custody. “We’ve had no backtracking of resources,” he said. Chris Johnson in D.C. and Yariel Valdés González in Tijuana, Mexico, contributed to this report.


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Full name: Michael Moore Occupation: Realtor Favorite local restaurant: Sushi Ogawa Favorite local bar/lounge: Rooftop at the W hotel Favorite vacation spot: Italy (anywhere will be fine) Favorite Charity: Food & Friends Favorite thing to do on a weekend: Spending the weekend in NYC

Michael is wearing the latest items from the winter 2018 collection.

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Revisiting ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ eight years after repeal Mixner on how it happened — and Clinton’s betrayal By KAREN OCAMB David Mixner is a pacifist, a firm believer in the principles espoused by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He was prepared to go to prison for five years rather than respond to the draft— or come out as gay. He got a deferment after being beaten up by police during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. The following year, as co-organizer for the Oct. 15, 1969 Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, he met Bill Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar with whom he started a decades-long friendship. AIDS, not gays in the military, was top of mind for Mixner, a longtime Los Angeles-based political consultant. But over dinners, he started hearing about gays serving in silence. “Clearly there was nothing more visible, more dramatic, more powerful than the image of LGBT Americans wanting to serve their country and going through everything from harassment to beatings to death to court martials to dishonorable discharge, losing benefits, losing families—it was an appalling situation,” Mixner told the Blade. “I can’t have my personal beliefs override the freedom of others.” Then in 1991, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton called to say he was running for president and wanted Mixner’s support. Mixner hesitated, which annoyed Clinton. Mixner explained that he didn’t know where his old friend stood on gay issues. “I cannot go through this era of AIDS, losing hundreds of friends and just, for power’s sake, sign onto your campaign. It dishonors all of their deaths.” Clinton told him to draw up a list of what he wanted and give it to their mutual friend, Los Angeles-based attorney Mickey Kantor. Mixner sent three issues: the gay Civil Rights Bill, sign an executive order lifting the ban on gays in the military and fund and expedite the process for promising HIV/AIDS drugs. Not a problem, Clinton replied. The problem was that most of the LGBT community supported Paul Tsongas and didn’t know “this Bubba from the South,” Mixner says. He invited Tsongas and Clinton to meet with ANGLE, a political checkbook activist group that met in the Hollywood Hills home of Dr. Scott Hitt and Alex Kolezar. Tsongas was arrogant; Clinton was charming. After pledging to support all three issues, attorney Diane Abbitt asked him: “How do we know we can believe you—that you’re not just another hot bag of air?” Clinton said he’d prove himself. Which he did, telling the surprised press that he would have signed AB 101, the

Presidential candidate BILL CLINTON thanking friend DAVID MIXNER at ANGLE event in 1991 WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO BY KAREN OCAMB

gay rights bill Republican Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed. And he promised to sign the military executive order. The executive order wasn’t without controversy inside the Clinton campaign. But Mixner and ANGLE pushed hard, raising lots of money and insisting “gay rights” be part of Clinton’s talking points. And when the Paula Jones/Gennifer Flowers scandal popped up, ANGLE stuck with Clinton, even as others declared his candidacy dead. ANGLE bought one third of all the tickets to a major Warren Christopher-hosted fundraiser at the Beverly Wilshire, with a gay reception hosted by Mixner and Roberta Achtenberg before the big dinner. “It was the darkest moment of the Clinton campaign and there we were visible, loyal and strong,” Mixner says. “That was a real turning point for us in the Clinton campaign. They never forgot it. And the money we raised really helped them stay alive in New Hampshire.” Mixner pressed Clinton to appear before the gay community. Though it became one of his most famous campaign moments, it almost didn’t happen. Mixner had already sold out the Palace in Hollywood and if the press couldn’t attend, there would be some $200,000 left on the table. Clinton relented and recommitted to lifting the ban, giving money to fight AIDS and supporting gay rights. Then came the nominating convention. Bob Hattoy and Elizabeth Glaser spoke about AIDS in primetime. But an early copy of Clinton’s acceptance speech was missing the word “gay.” Tom Henderson and Mixner organized eight delegations that would walk out if no mention was made. Mixner gave an ultimatum and the campaign was

livid. But Clinton included the reference, thrilling LGBTs and allies in the macarenadancing crowd. When Clinton won, the LGBT community started counting down to freedom after the long dark night of Reagan/Bush years with thousands lost to AIDS. But Mixner saw trouble brewing. A decision was expected soon in Keith Meinhold’s federal court case challenging his discharge under the gay ban. Two weeks before the election, Mixner and his close associate Jeremy Bernard trekked down to Little Rock to discuss how “the reality of rhetoric and implementation after you’re elected is two different things.” They needed someone in the transition team to assume gay issues in their portfolio. “No one wanted it,” Mixner says. “They were all lining up for their jobs and they thought that if this was in their portfolio, that they would not be taken seriously. And quite honestly, I wasn’t taken seriously.” After Clinton won, the community turned to Mixner, Bob Hattoy and Roberta Achtenberg for answers. Meanwhile, the Meinhold case is heating up. Mixner calls the campaign to say someone needs to brief the president-elect. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” they say. “Well, the morning of Clinton’s first post-election press conference, guess what came down? The Meinhold decision. So the very first question that the New York Times asked: ‘Given the Meinhold decision, are you still going to issue the executive order on the military?’ Clinton, not having been briefed and not realizing that a campaign was different from governing, which I kept trying to tell him, wasn’t prepared and said yes.” The campaign was shocked that the

executive order on gays in the military dominated the headlines. “They all were caught off guard,” Mixner says. “They shouldn’t have been. They were all briefed two weeks before the election but no one listened. They went into sheer panic.” But Mixner had an idea: “Do what Jimmy Carter did on amnesty for draft dodgers, which was equally as controversial.” Immediately after he was sworn in as president, Mixner says, Carter “signed about 12 tough executive orders that got lost in the press about the inauguration, the parties, the parades, the speech—and it worked. It was just done. Amnesty was granted, some people fought it but it was a done deal and it got lost, it became a side bar story of the inauguration.” Why not do that on the military? About 20 orders, just like Carter “and then it’s done,” Mixner says. “They thought it was a great idea and they sent someone to look at what Carter did. That’s what we believed was going to be done up until just before the inauguration.” Mixner was in his hotel, nervous about a big event honoring him that night. He got a call from Clinton top campaign adviser George Stephanopoulos. “He said, ‘David, we need your help.’ I said, ‘sure.’ He said, ‘We’re not going to sign the executive order.’ I said, ‘This is crazy.’ He said, ‘Listen, we feel we need six months to build public support. The president told me to tell you that he gives you his word that he’ll sign it in six months but we want the community to raise money and to do this and we need you to go and deliver that message to the community.’” “I said, ‘Would the president promise me if we do all of that that he’ll sign it in six months?’”


NATIONAL NEWS “You have the president’s word,” Stephanopoulos told Mixner. Mixner delivered the word that night and the next day to HRCF. “That’s where the idea for the Campaign for Military Service came in,” Mixner says. Tom Stoddard agreed to head the new organization. “There was not a better choice. Everyone was excited. A man of principle, of dignity, a brilliant organizer, one of the kindest people I knew. I was thrilled,” Mixner says. And with that, they began organizing at Bob Shrum and Mary Louise Oates’ living room with David Geffen and Barry Diller promising to raise “huge amounts of money” and Fred Hochberg agreeing to be treasurer. “And off we were,” says Mixner. They organized a major campaign with unions and religious groups joining in and polls going up. “We did everything the president asked us to do.” But instead of acting presidential, calling in the commanders-in-chief and announcing that they accept his change in policy or resign—Clinton failed the leadership test. And into the vacuum stepped Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, a Democrat considered by Mixner to be a racist bully. “Sam Nunn supported (Alabama Gov.) George Wallace twice,” Mixner says. “And he was head of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was a big believer in segregation. And he said, ‘not on my watch’ and he called (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) Colin Powell and he held hearings and the White House wasn’t prepared.” Nunn also created the media narrative, going with Sen. John Warner into the sleeping quarters on a submarine and asking sailors lying together in close quarters how they felt about allowing gays in the military. “That picture was on the front page everywhere,” says Mixner. “So that sent them into a panic and Clinton came back and said, evidently, to his staff, we can’t have gays sleep with straights like that.’ And that’s when he suggested that perhaps they would explore the options of segregated barracks and segregated units. They didn’t use the word ‘segregated’ but separate. I went through the roof.” Discharged gay Naval aviator Tracy Thorne was booked on ABC News’ Nightline and asked Mixner to go along. “That’s when I said, ‘Segregation didn’t work for blacks and we wouldn’t accept it and it was nothing more than a segregated plan.’ And I really let loose that this was a totally unacceptable solution,” Mixner says. “Well, that got the White House really angry at me.” Mixner then went to Dallas where on March 27, 1993, he delivered a speech at the mega-MCC Church entitled “the Story of Self-Hatred” about AIDS, segregation, and gay and lesbian civil rights that is now in a collection of great civil rights speeches called “Ripples of Hope.”

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DAVID MIXNER, DIANE ABBITT, JOHN DURAN among those arrested at the White House gate after DADT announced.

The Clinton administration was angry and the gay community was annoyed that Mixner’s public pronouncements might cost access to political power after so many years in the wilderness. “Rahm Emanuel decided that if he could make me a target, he could send a message that you’ll lose access and you’ll be punished if you speak out against this administration,” Mixner says. The “first act of that punishment” came in April before the March on Washington when Clinton held the historic meeting in the Oval Office between the president of the United States and the LGBT community “and I was taken off the list.” Longtime LA-based lesbian activist Torie Osborn brought a signed copy of Randy Shilts’ very detailed “Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military” to the meeting, which Clinton held when they posed for pictures. “That was painful for me quite honestly, very painful. It hurt. Because that was one of my dreams of being in the first meeting,” Mixner says. “But you know, you live your principles and there’s a price sometimes. And sometimes there’s great price.” Then in mid-May, without any notification to Tom Stoddard or Mixner or HRCF, out Rep. Barney Frank announces that a compromise had been reached with the president called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “We read about it in the fuckin’ newspaper,” Mixner says, his voice rising. “Barney literally betrayed us. He didn’t consult with any of us. They went to him and Barney was in love with Stephanopoulos and cut this deal.” Suddenly, Mixner says, “the concept of an executive order was thrown out the window and the community, caught off guard, sort of started buying into this as a ‘compromise.’ Ending it would take an act of Congress instead of the signature of the president. But Clinton wanted that. He just wanted it off his fuckin’ desk.” Tim McFeeley, executive director of HRCF,

was the first to protest and get arrested. After Clinton’s official announcement of the new policy on a military base flanked by generals, Mixner got a call from Stephanopoulos. “He said, ‘We want your support on this, David. It’s fact. It’s done.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely not. This is going to be a disastrous policy. No one can live like that. It’s going to set up blackmail. It will destroy thousands of lives’—and it did. There’s things I’ve been wrong on and there’s things I’ve been right on and this was one of ‘em that I was right on.” Numerous gay people on the inside offered Clinton support, suggesting Mixner was now among the fringe on the outside. He knew the price if he protested and got arrested like McFeeley. “It isn’t like I was naive,” Mixner says. “I knew Clinton and I knew Emanuel. I knew all of them. I knew how the game was played. I went into it with open eyes that I would cut off all access to the White House. And I decided to get arrested.” But first, Mixner met with ANGLE, sharing his decision and that he didn’t expect them to join him. “This is a personal decision. I went around the country. I got him to say this stuff. I got you involved. I feel personal responsibility to give witness, though it’s not going to change the policy. It’s an old Quaker tradition of giving witness against a great evil, even though you can’t change it. I’ve gotta give witness,” Mixner says. “And much to their credit, most all of ANGLE joined in. And those who didn’t join in getting arrested were responsible for getting us out of jail.” It was front page news and the next day Emanuel announced that Mixner was no longer welcome in the White House—nor were any of the people that he worked with. “In 24 hours, I lost every one of my clients and couldn’t work for four years. I was selling watches to pay for my rent. Jeremy, literally, was taking my watches down to pawn shops to pay for my rent,”


Mixner says. The Advocate put him on the cover: “David Mixner, Friend of Nobody,” which added to the pain. “There were people who committed suicide, several were sent to Leavenworth, over 14,000 were dismissed without benefits, dishonorably,” he recalls. “Just as we thought would happen. It was horrendous. And it all depended on who their commander was. If you had a good commander sometimes they ignored it. If you had a so-so commander they’d just give you a dishonorable discharge and let it go. If you had a bad commander, they’d go out of the way to make sure you paid a price.” President Obama “had to spend his first four years overturning the damage that Clinton did to us,” he says. Mixner and Clinton eventually reconciled in 1998 at an ANGLE fundraiser in Beverly Hills featuring new California Gov. Gray Davis. Mixner was “very teary” during the ceremony when Obama signed the repeal of DADT. “I never thought I’d see the day and had paid such a price,” he says. “The person who was the kindest to me that day was (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi. She was on the stage with the president, saw me and came down off the stage, gave me a hug, held me by the shoulders and said, ‘None of us would be in this room if it wasn’t for you.’ And I’ll never forget it. That was one of the highlights of my life and made all that I had sacrificed worth it.” Mixner recalls going to the Clinton White House before he was banished with so many gay people whispering “Thank you.” He returned to the Obama White House for a Christmas party, invited by America’s first gay Social Secretary—Jeremy Bernard. “They had a little gay bowling league among some of the gay White House staff, the military people. And they were showing me pictures of their husbands,” Mixner says. “What a different world, right? From whispers to pride.”


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Nicaragua’s rainbow revolutionaries Fleeing Ortega’s violence to survive and make a difference in Costa Rica By ARMANDO TRULL SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica and BARCELONA, Spain — A humble cinderblock home with a tin roof in a poor neighborhood in the Costa Rican capital of San José has become a refuge for nearly 40 gay Nicaraguan youth who played a leading role in the popular uprising against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s regime last April. The destitute youth fled Nicaragua as refugees to nearby Costa Rica after Ortega launched a brutal and bloody crackdown on those who led months of mostly peaceful protests against changes in the country’s social security system and government corruption. The 8-month long government repression, condemned by the U.N. and the Organization of American States, has left at least 500 dead including two dozen minors as well as many more injuries. Among the victims are scores of LGBTI Nicaraguans. The violence has touched off a worldwide diaspora surpassing one million Nicaraguans, including hundreds if not thousands of gays. They are fleeing a country where neighbors inform on each other, the police and paramilitary supporters harass, illegally detain, beat, torture or kill anyone they suspect and do so with immunity. “I never imagined that they would be so ruthless,” says Randal, a university senior studying psychology. “They were shooting to kill.” The bespectacled goateed youth’s voice quakes as he recounts the emotion filled months before he, along with many other gays were forced to flee Nicaragua. “As the number of innocent dead increased so did our rage,” he says. “The people were so enraged that we filled the streets of many cities in protests, we took over university campuses and flooded social media.” The country’s few LGBTI organizations were among the first to publicly denounce the violence. They were among the first to man the barricades, especially young gay influencers on social media. Randal says he was proud to see so many members of the LGBTI community participate in the protests. “We were right there, upfront, in the struggle to defend our country,” he recalls. “Manning the barricades, delivering water and food. Helping the wounded. Providing encouragement,” he adds with a beaming, yet sad smile. “It was natural you see, we as a community are used to fighting for our rights. From an early age, I had to struggle for my right to be included and accepted in a homophobic culture.”

Young gay Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica sleep on the floor on thin mattresses, huddled together to share body heat. PHOTO BY ARMANDO TRULL

Once it became clear the Ortega regime was determined to kill or jail the dissenters even as it pretended to negotiate a settlement, many members of the LGBTI community involved in the protests realized they had little option but to flee to nearby Costa Rica. “The payment for these protests has been death, jail and exile,” says Ulises Rivas. The slight young man with copper brown skin and deep black hair and eyes was a long-time environmental and gay rights activist before the April crisis. He says when he fled for his life to Costa Rica he encountered scores of gay Nicaraguan youth who had been involved in the protests wandering the streets and parks of San José, homeless and hungry. “About 10 of us got together and created Asociación Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI (Children of the LGBTI Rainbow Association),” says Ulises. Ulises approached several influential Nicaraguans who had been forced into exile in Costa Rica, including Alvaro Leiva, Nicaragua’s former human rights ombudsman. They contributed the seed money for the youth to rent the group home and launch Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI. “We are so very grateful to them for their support. They have been among the few people willing to help us,” says Ulises. “It broke my heart to see so many young educated Nicaraguan members of our community lost and confused in San José,” says Randal. “Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI was our response. We not only gave them a roof and a plate of food but also a sense of purpose and a family.” You have to drive through muddy rut filled roads on the outer fringes of San José to get to the Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI home. It’s in a poor neighborhood

where cinderblock tin-roofed houses are perched precariously on lush verdant hills. Skinny mongrels roam the neighborhood. Loud bachata music permeates the cool moist mountain air. As you enter the house, painted in faded mango, green and turquoise the first thing that you notice is the energy. Nearly 40 youth from late teens to late 20s share the space. Some are busy sweeping the cracked tile floor, others are huddled around a small battered laptop while others strategize beneath a Nicaraguan flag next to a wall calendar of upcoming events in which they will participate. I watch as a slight young man named Alberto carries an old aluminum pot to an outdoor wood fired stove and begins to make rice and beans. “Sometimes it’s all we can eat,” he says. “Provided there are donations.” What happens if there aren’t donations. I ask. “We go hungry,” he says almost apologetically. Helping him cook is Arlen. The frizzy haired 20-something young lesbian was among the first people to move into the home “I was wandering through the parks, homeless,” she says. “I don’t know what would have become of me, if it weren’t for the boys,” she notes. Arlen fled Nicaragua after she was flagged by security forces as one of the main providers of food, supplies and medicine to youth holed up in multiple barricades throughout Managua. “Paramilitary crashed the door of the house where I was living,” she says. “Fortunately, I wasn’t there. That same day I headed to Costa Rica with just the clothes on my back and the little money I had.” It’s pretty much the same story for most of the youth here, fleeing one step ahead of paramilitary thugs under

government orders. This humble home has indeed been a refuge. The youth share wafer thin mattresses on the floor. They huddle together like lost children, under multiple worn blankets that barely protect them from the cold sweeping up from the floor and hovering overhead. They hug battered teddy bears. On the walls, rainbow flags and even a unicorn. “We have become like a family,” says Magdiel, one of the group’s leader, as he shivers beneath a blanket. “The older take care of the younger. We share what little we have even our body heat at night.” In one corner of the house toward the rear a slight young man and a blonde girl sit on a battered donated sofa talking about how much they miss their families. “I had always lived within the warm and loving embrace of my papa,” she says and then bursts into tears, the sobs coming like a tidal wave. Soon the young man is also crying and so are the other youth nearby. “We are so young, so inexperienced and innocent,” says Ulises in a cracked voice as he watches the youth embrace one another. “We long for our families so very much. It’s very painful. We did what we believed was right. We stood up against oppression.” But returning home is not an option, it could place not only them but their families in danger. So Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI is giving these youth purpose. They participate in weekly activities such as cleaning up public parks, dance lessons and free haircuts. “We want to show people in Costa Rica that we can be a positive force in the country that has welcomed us,” says Ulises. The youth also participate in workshops to learn survival skills in a new society including how to apply for asylum. ■ CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM



DE C E M B E R 21, 2018 • 15

Keep your promise to protect each other.

Singapore activists take on gay sex ban SINGAPORE — LGBT activists in Singapore are challenging a gay sex ban inspired by India’s recent removal of its ban by its Supreme Court, the New York Times reports. Its inspired action in other countries with similar laws as well, the article notes. While previous legal challenges to the ban have failed, activists revived efforts after Tommy Koh, a veteran Singaporean diplomat, commented on the Indian decision, urging the gay community to “try again,” the Times reports. The encouragement from Koh set off a wave of discussion surrounding Section 377A, which dates to 1938 and threatens up to two years in prison for a man who engages in “any act of gross indecency” with another man. The law says nothing about sex between women and is rarely enforced. In addition to activist Johnson Ong’s constitutional challenge, more than 50,000 people, including a former attorney general and several former diplomats, signed a petition urging the government to reconsider Section 377A as part of a major penal code review, its first in more than a decade, the Times reports. The government declined. Though the initial burst of energy has largely subsided, activists remain determined to push the changes through. Their efforts received a boost on Monday when Singapore’s High Court ruled in a landmark case that a gay Singaporean man would be allowed to legally adopt a child he fathered through a surrogate, the Times reports. Conservative religious groups have been leading the opposition to the repeal movement. In September, the National Council of Churches of Singapore, which represents about 200 churches, came out in support of the law, stating that the “homosexual lifestyle is not only harmful for individuals, but also for families and society as a whole,” the Times reports.

Aussie study confirms LGB health disparities NEW YORK — LGB Australians continue to experience significant disadvantage when it comes to health and wellbeing compared to their straight peers, a University of Queensland study has found, according to a MedicalXPress report. Dr. Francisco Perales, of UQ’s Institute for Social Science Research, identified bi people as being at higher risk of poor outcomes compared to both straight and gay/lesbian people. “Disparities in health and wellbeing between gay/lesbian and straight individuals were stable from 2012 to 2016,” Dr. Perales said in the report. ”In the same period, disparities between bi and straight individuals widened for more than half of the indicators.” The study also found that non-straight women — particularly bi women — fared worse than non-straight men, MedicalXPress reports. LGB disadvantage was more pronounced in domains such as mental health, emotional problems and social functioning, and less pronounced for physical functioning and substance abuse. The study is published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

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Court rules in favor of trans inmate

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho issued a preliminary 5130 Wisconsin Ave. NW • DC • (202) 966-6400 • www.JosephGawlers.com injunction this week in Edmo v. Idaho Department of Correction, ordering the department to provide Adree Edmo, a Native American transgender woman, with ADVERTISING what it called “medically necessary gender-confirmation surgery.” The department ISSUE DATE: 10.26.12 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: BRIAN PITTS (bpitts@washblade.com) and its for-profit medical provider, Corizon Health, have denied PROOF Edmo #1 surgery for more than four years what her advocates called a “clear and urgent need for it.” 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 The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed the lawsuit on behalf of Edmo adviC ed i a twilli not oN • L i after t i 12:01 G apm t wednesday, i o N •theaweek P Pof epublication.Brown a L S • Cnaff o pitts L L a B o r at i o N thee date• of m proof. Revisions be accepted REVISIONS 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 REDESIGN with Hadsell Stormer and Renick LLP and Ferguson Durham, PLLC. The center can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or TEXT REVISIONS any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any announced the injunction in a press release. copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair IMAGE/LOGO REVISIONS competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, A preliminary injunction is a legal tool used by the court to preventNO irreparable or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the ADVERTISER SIGNATURE REVISIONS washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contr liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred washington blade newspaper. This includes but is no harm while a case is being heard by the court. The court reached its decision to order by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations payment and insertion schedule. and warranties. a preliminary injunction after a three-day evidentiary hearing and extensive briefing. “In refusing to provide surgery, (the department) and Corizon have ignored generally accepted medical standards for the treatment of gender dysphoria,” FamiLY | eState PLaNNiNG | emPLoYmeNt | immiGratioN the court ruled. “This constitutes deliberate indifference to Ms. Edmo’s serious ComPLeX LitiGatioN | CiviL riGHtS | LGBt | adoPtioN | BuSiNeSS medical needs and violates her rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” “I am relieved and grateful that the court validated my right to necessary medical treatment,” said plaintiff Adree Edmo. “Not having the care I need is like at tor N e YS at L aw • d C | m d | va being in a prison within a prison. Even though I am still living, it has felt like I have been dying inside.” 3 0 1 . 8 9 1 . 2 2 0 0 • S P - L aw. C o m

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Nancy Pelosi, from the White House to Floriana Schooling the president and prepping for speakership

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

Whether schooling our embarrassment of a president in the White House or visiting a Christmas tree dedicated to her and the new women members of the House of Representatives in front of Floriana restaurant on 17th Street in D.C., Nancy Pelosi is a class act. Dito E. Sevilla, the master of ceremonies of all that goes on at Floriana and Dito’s Bar below the restaurant, outdid himself with this year’s Christmas tree. Those who know Dito understand his fascination with politics and his great sense of humor. This year he figured he would do his best to support the election of Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House by putting a huge picture of her atop the tree and calling it Pelostree. It seems a few of her staff who live in Dupont saw

the tree and told the leader about it and she agreed to stop by and see it. On her visit she was wearing the same coat and sunglasses she had on in the picture, which has now become iconic, of her and Sen. Chuck Schumer walking out of the White House after besting the president and forcing him to take responsibility for any government shut-down that may happen. She did joke saying the press had it wrong when they reported it as a red coat as it is actually orange. Orange or red with those sunglasses on she looked fierce. She took the time to talk to the small crowd that had gathered speaking about how she has supported the LGBTQ+ community from the days she first came to Congress. She believes the fight to get government funding to combat HIV/AIDS galvanized the community and eventually led to the public being supportive of getting rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. She spoke of what her hopes are when she takes back the Speaker’s gavel on Jan. 3. How many of the issues regarding voting rights, women’s rights and equal rights including issues of equality for the LGBTQ+ community will be worked on in the Judiciary Committee and how she believes they will have the support of the general population. She said she hopes to see the House as a Town Hall working on issues with input from communities across the nation and


continuously gathering support. She believes working in an open and transparent way will allow the public to see what Democrats can do if they take back the White House and the Senate in 2020. Pelosi is quite an amazing woman. She understands how to get things done. She grew up in a political family. Her father Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. was a Democratic Congressman from Maryland and then mayor of Baltimore and her brother Thomas D’Alesandro III was also mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971. After moving to California she immersed herself in the Democratic Party becoming chair of the California Democratic Party from 1981-1983. Pelosi won her seat in Congress in a special election after Congresswoman Sala Burton became ill and she took office in June 1987. From day one in Congress Pelosi has been a fighter for progressive causes. Her abilities were quickly recognized and she served on the Appropriations and Intelligence committees. In 2001 she was elected by her fellow Democrats as House Minority Whip, the second in leadership to Dick Gephardt who was Minority Leader. When he resigned that post to run his losing fight for the Democratic nomination in 2002 she was elected Minority Leader, the first woman to lead a major party in the House. When Democrats took over the House in 2007 she was elected Speaker, again a first for a woman. Pelosi is credited by many, including President Obama, for being the person most responsible for passing the Affordable Care Act in the House. She understood how to count votes and what was needed to keep Democrats together, which has only become more difficult over the years. Her ability has never been on display more than it has since the recent elections as she fought and apparently guaranteed she will be the next Speaker of the House. If anyone was still questioning how effective she will be her recent visit to the White House laid any last minute reservations to rest. She clearly got the better of the president and did it in her inimitable way, never raising her voice but schooling him in reality and calling him out for his lack of facts and his inability to accept the power she will have as the next Speaker. He clearly didn’t know what hit him. While speaking at Floriana she said she especially enjoyed the cartoon that had Trump running into a wall and the wall was labeled Pelosi. We can be assured the next Speaker of the House is a woman of the people who will make sure the people’s business actually gets done in the House.






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D E CE MBE R 2 1 , 2 0 1 8 • 1 7

Pelosi, a Christmas tree and the loyalty of gay men She had our back when no one else did

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

She came to Washington in a special election in 1987. Being called on the House floor for the first time, most newly elected members typically take just a few moments to thank their spouses, their constituents who sent them there and be done with it. Nancy Pelosi did all that, but added at the end “now we must take leadership of course in the crisis of AIDS. And I look forward to working with you on

that. . .” A shocking and bold move. Afterwards, other members privately told her she was insane for even mentioning AIDS. “Why would you bring that up?” Another asking, “why would you even want to be associated with that?” “That’s why I came and that’s why I ran,” she explained. Simply put, she did not come to mess around. Fast forward some 30 years later to outside of Floriana’s, a well-known, wellliked, neighborhood Italian restaurant in Dupont Circle. A staple of the local community, the entertaining and boisterous barman Dito Sevilla erected on the restaurant’s patio a 17-foot-tall Douglas fir. Sevilla’s Christmas trees are often thematic, and this year the “Pelos-Tree”, as it came to be known, is not just dedicated to her (a three-foot cutout of Pelosi sits atop) but to all the newly elected women members. All of their names — Rashida Tlaib from Michigan, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar — displayed on flowing red, white

and blue ribbons. Last Friday morning, Pelosi herself came by to see it. The whole thing really should have been filmed. As a small crowd began to gather as word spread up and down 17th Street, what followed, as I was told, was almost an hour of her telling stories, a sort of oral history of the LGBT movement as it navigated its way through the marble halls of Congress. All told as Pelosi took time to pose with numerous passersby wanting selfies with the Speaker Designate. “She had a ball,” her press office told me. And well-deserved, too. In a role such as hers, often singled out as the go-to punching bag for the entire conservative moment, having sheer praise and positivity thrown at you must be a rarity indeed. Her joy at the event and seeing the tree was real. “Alright boys, it’s been lovely. But I have to get to my day job,” she announced. Next up in that day job, she made clear to those gathered, the Equality Act.

Pelosi also wore that Max Mara burnt orange coat, made famous with her exiting that contentious Oval Office meeting with President Trump earlier this month. Max Mara discontinued the coat some years ago. But the company recently announced plans to bring it back. In a phone call. I asked her press office if her wearing the now iconic coat to the tree event was intentional, “yes it was,” the voice on the other end told me. Gay men owe Pelosi their loyalty simply because she had our back when quite literally no one else did. And gay men aren’t ones to blindly pledge loyalty. When Pelosi emerged from that meeting with President Trump she once again proved her mettle against perhaps the biggest bully in the country. “Pelosi did not come to mess around,” as one reporter stated. But many of us gay men knew that from the beginning. And for that, she’s earned our continued loyalty. After all, she still has what it takes. And we still have work to do.


More than agency incompetence sank tip-wage revote D.C. election board connived with referendum proposer to circumvent rules

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

Last week’s court-ordered halt of a controversial attempt to qualify a D.C. ballot referendum that would have overturned the repeal by elected officials of Initiative 77 was caused by more than election board incompetence. The proposed referendum effort was unraveled by something more sinister than slipshod, and represented corrupt agency practice by bumbling bureaucrats. Agency arrogance and an astonishing indifference to the law were the actual culprits. The city’s long-troubled and muchmaligned Board of Elections was guilty of conniving with the referendum proposer

to simply ignore the independent agency’s self-written procedural regulations. It was a brazen and intentional effort to bypass the rules for the purpose of maximizing the period for collecting the required signatures to qualify the measure for a special election. Ignoring established requirements for issuing the required publication of a public hearing notification in the D.C. Register, it was hoped, would add a total of three days for signature collection. Instead, a now-notorious collaboration between applicant and agency to circumvent the rules sank the whole shebang. Most astonishing was the stark admission to the court by the agency attorney of a flaunting of the public notice requirement as if the board should suffer no consequence for its deliberate violation. Additionally, in what can only be characterized as the penultimate can’t-walk-and-chewgum-at-the-same-time excuse was agency claim of extraordinary hardship if needing to issue the proscribed legal notice while burdened with simultaneously conducting the city’s general election. D.C. Superior Court Judge Neal E. Kravitz ruled in favor of two tipped worker plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by local bar and restaurant employees Valerie Graham and Andrew Shapiro, represented by Veritas law firm. I became acquainted

with both plaintiffs in my role as managing consultant for NO2DC77, one of several local groups opposing Initiative 77. These community efforts engaged literally thousands of nightlife and hospitality employees who spent their time when not working and also sacrificing shifts to support retention of the tip-wage system in order to protect their jobs, livelihoods and incomes. Employees at local bars, restaurants, and nightclubs were strongly opposed to the attempt by out-of-state political group ROC-United to eliminate the tip credit. This worker-supported wage system combines a base-wage with tips in guaranteeing that tipped employees earn at least the minimum wage. Opposition to ROC’s effort was so pervasive among workers that 13 of 15 D.C. elected officials sided with them, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, Attorney General Karl Racine, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson and all but two of his Council colleagues. They characterized the preponderance of worker opinion as a “nearly universal” “overwhelming number” “vast majority” of those who would be affected. Following a surprisingly competitive vote on the widely misunderstood and deceptively worded proposal during the city’s primary election in June, the D.C. Coun-

cil voted 8-5 to repeal the measure and Mayor Bowser immediately signed the bill. The “Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act” was then transmitted to Congress for the 30-legislative-day review period required of District legislation, necessitating submission of sufficient referendum-requesting qualifying signatures prior to the now-enacted repeal. ROC dumped a whopping $200,000 in outsider cash to hire paid signature collectors and finance the referendum attempt, which would have prohibited another repeal for 12 months. The court decision precluded determining whether sufficient signatures were collected or there being adequate time to re-do the process. Due to the Board of Elections indicating an intention to revise its regulations, it would be wholly inappropriate for current personnel to do so in light of a demonstrably unabashed disregard for following the rules. Cleaning house must come first if voters are to have confidence in future election and ballot measure procedures. To avoid further embarrassment to the District and damage to the integrity of local electoral processes, city officials should undertake an immediate review of agency personnel followed by a flurry of pink slips. Only then would it be reasonable for a review of regulations to occur.

1 8 • DE CE MB ER 2 1, 2018


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DAVID BURTKA (left) and husband NEIL PATRICK HARRIS have created their own holiday traditions as a family. PHOTO COURTESY CAPTIOL ONE

No place like home for the holidays Neil Patrick Harris and hubby David Burtka celebrate home, family and entertaining By MARIAH COOPER mcooper@washblade.com Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka are maestros of multiple domains individually but put them together and it begs the question: what can’t these two do? Harris is an actor, comedian, singer and, yes, a magician. Meanwhile, Burtka is an actor and professional chef. One of Harris’ many television projects, the hit Netflix show “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” streams its final season on Jan. 1.

For Burtka, his cookbook “Life Is a Party: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebration” becomes available April 16. The couple juggles all of these career endeavors while parenting their 8-yearold twins, Harper Grace Burtka-Harris and Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris, and still always seem ready to host the next party. Harris and Burtka showed no signs of slowing down as they breezed into D.C.

to celebrate Capitol One’s new diningand-entertainment Savor Rewards credit card, of which the couple are proud brand ambassadors. The dinner event, cosponsored with restaurant and hospitality company Resy, took place at A Rake’s Progress in Adams Morgan’s swanky Line Hotel. Harris and Burtka aren’t shy about their love for good drinks and food making the Capitol One Savor card a suitable marketing fit.

The event began with a cocktail hour where guests sipped crafted cocktails like Burtka’s special recipe for Spiced Cranberry Champagne Punch. Later in the evening, Burtka and Harris welcomed guests before everyone tucked into succulent slow cooked beef short ribs, butterpat roasted trout, cheddar CONTINUES ON PAGE 33

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QU E E R Y : 2 0 Q U E ST I O N S F O R RE V . MI CH E LE H . MO RG A N

REV . MI C H EL E H . M O RG A N How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came out in 1986 and my mother. Who’s your LGBT hero? The Rev. Pauli Murray


By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com The Christmas pageant at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Capitol Hill features a loose policy on who may appear at the manger. As teens read the biblical nativity passage, children of the parish act out the story. “We have a very open policy on who was there,” Rev. Michele H. Morgan, St. Mark’s rector, says. “If your child loves their honeybee costume from Halloween, we want them in the pageant. Most years we have dinosaurs, super heroes, bees and some Disney princesses. … We are not strict interpreters of scripture and everyone is welcome extends to the play.” Morgan came to St. Mark’s in 2015 from Minneapolis for the post. The church also has a 9:30 p.m. carol sing, 10 p.m. Mass in the round and a 10 a.m. “simple” service on Christmas with reception following that Morgan says is a “very quiet, laid-back service.” Advent IV services (Dec. 23) are at 9, 11:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. Details at stmarks.net. Morgan was ordained in 2004 and was the first “out, big, ole’ homo” (as she puts it) where she was serving in Minnesota. The 55-year-old Calgary, Alberta native says “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is her favorite carol and Luke 7:18-23 is a favorite scripture passage. She and wife Michelle Dibblee live with their dog Rosie in Fort Totten. Morgan enjoys biking, dog walking, baseball and hockey and cross stitching in her free time.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? I have been sober for 32 years, so I am at a loss to answer that. I never go to nightspots, but I do love wandering around union market with my beloved. Describe your dream wedding. I had it twice: once in an Episcopal Church presided by the now Bishop of Washington with 200 of our friends, both sets of parents and a potluck afterward by all the little old ladies of the church. The second, once we won marriage in Minnesota, on a hillside on a farm in Scandia Minn., with friends family and a dinner provided by a young transman who was in my first confirmation class. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? Gun violence prevention. What historical outcome would you change? The Battle of the Milivian Bridge. Constantine’s victory gave him total control of the Western Roman Empire paving the way for Christianity to become the dominant religion for the Roman Empire and ultimately for Europe. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Being thanked last week by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for hosting the National Vigil to end gun violence. She shook my hand and I said, “Thanks for being Nancy Pelosi.” On what do you insist? That all means all and that as writer and teacher Clay Shirky said: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? A picture of Mary who is in her 80s and Brandon who is in his 40s and me. If your life were a book, what would the title be? “Always Learning”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Say I hope that people use it for good, and I would take a pass. I love who I am and who I was created to be and what if I was changed would it do to my beloved? What do you believe in beyond the physical world? On some days I believe that I will see those I love and can no longer see again. On other days I believe that done is good. I am OK with both of those options. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Work together and embrace intersectionality. What would you walk across hot coals for? My wife, my dog Rosie the Thug Princess and the right to go out in the world and not get shot. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That the LGBTQ community cannot be people of faith and love a power greater then themselves. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? I know it’s cheesy but, I loved “Longtime Companion.” I also believe at the end of “Copycat,” once the serial killer has been dispatched, the Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter characters fall madly in love and run off together. What’s the most overrated social custom? Something to do with silverware. I mean how many forks do you need at a place setting? What trophy or prize do you most covet? The Stanley Cup, mainly because there is only one Stanley Cup. I could never manage to crash the net. What do you wish you’d known at 18? That I would have a life that I loved and be authentic to who I was made to be. Why Washington?

I was offered to do meaningful work here.


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22 • DE C E M B E R 21, 201 8


On the stage, under the tree Tickets to current local productions make great last-minute gifts By PATRICK FOLLIARD

Wishing Everyone a Happy Holiday! Thank you for reading the Blade. From the Staff of the Washington Blade!

Scrambling for a last-minute gift? Theater tickets to current productions are always an easy sure winner. Here are a few recommendations. At Imagination Stage in Bethesda, it’s “Cinderella,” but with a twist. Yes, she’s the bullied stepdaughter who seeks solace in daydreams and woodland critters, but this Cinderella isn’t waiting to be saved from a life of drudgery by the first man of means who comes along. In fact, long before stepping one sparkly shod foot into the palace, Cinderella encounters a sword-bearing man (the prince, unbeknownst to her) and handily disarms him using her broom. No retiring wallflower she. Also, she doesn’t accept the royal marriage proposal without seriously considering her own goals and dreams. With a melodic score by Alyn Cardarelli and Steve Goers, “Cinderella” stars Awa Sal Secka in the title role. She’s a charming, strong presence with a gorgeous voice. The cast boasts another fabulous voice — Tracy Lynn Olivera as a silver birdturned-droll fairy godmother majestically clad in a shimmery gown adorned with plumage at the neckline. All the other familiar fairytale faces are on hand: There’s Rat (Chris Stinson) who is coaxed into being transformed into human coachman Ratford when he’s assured that the palace staff will be passing cheese platters at the ball. With strategically placed padding, Evan Casey gives a nicely reserved performance as the icy Stepmother who’s really no crueler than your garden variety Vogue editrix. Understandably unhappy, she’s tasked with finding husbands for her clumsy and childish daughters, Cinderella’s stepsisters. And of course, the story includes a kindly Prince Jason played Disney perfect by Jay Frisby. Not far from the prince is his mincing valet Wesley (Michael Wood), a servant with an interesting secret. While scenic designer Paige Hathaway transforms the stage into a wintry wonderland of twinkling lights, director Kathryn Chase Bryer makes use of the large auditorium with madcap dashes. She also gets interactive by inviting audience members to try on the fabled glass slipper, prompting little girls (and a few little boys) to loudly implore “Me! Me!” At 80 minutes with an intermission, Imagination Stage’s fun and fast moving “Cinderella” is recommended for ages 4 and up. At historic Warner Theatre, The


AWA SAL SECKA as Cinderella.

Washington Ballet is back with its thoroughly pleasing production “The Nutcracker.” Prior to a recent performance, artistic director Julie Kent took the stage to announce that this year marks the 15th anniversary of her predecessor Septime Webre’s very Washington take on the ballet holiday classic. Set to Tchaikovsky’s magical score, the ballet takes place in a Georgetown mansion (handsomely designed by Peter Horne) on a snowy Christmas circa 1882. Young Clara and her family are celebrating along with maiden aunts, young couples, lots of children and a kilted old gent. When the mysterious Mr. Drosselmeyer and his handsome young nephew arrive and present Clara with a magic nutcracker, the night takes a fantastic turn. A wildly enchanting, beautifully danced dream ensues in a cherry blossom world inhabited by a life-sized George Washington nutcracker battling rats, fairies and cavaliers, frontiersman, Mother Barnum and her clowns, and an Anacostia brave and maiden. The music is canned, regrettably. If only a patron with deep pockets had anted up the cash to hire an orchestra for the run. The superb dancers (and Tchaikovsky) deserve it. ■ CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM ‘CINDERELLA’ Through Jan. 6 Imagination Stage 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda $15-35 301-280-1660 Imatinationstage.org ‘THE NUTCRACKER’ Through Dec. 28 The Washington Ballet at Warner Theatre 513 13th St., N.W. $33-54 Washingtonballet.org ‘FANCY NANCY’S SPLENDIFEROUS CHRISTMAS’ Through Jan. 6 Adventure Theatre MTC Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd. Glen Echo, Md. $25 301-634-2270 Adventuretheatre-mtc.org


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24 • D E C E M B E R 21, 2018

O U T & A BO U T




David Guetta plans Echostage DJ set Club Glow presents David Guetta at Echostage (2135 Queens Chapel Rd., N.E.) on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 9 p.m. The French DJ is known for his hit singles “Titanium,” “Gettin’ Over You,” “Turn Me On” and more. Guetta has collaborated with big names such as Sia, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, among others. Tickets range from $40-50. For more details, visit echostage.com.


Tamar Braxton plays the Howard R&B songstress Tamar Braxton performs at the Howard Theatre (620 T St., N.W.) on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. Braxon, the younger sister of Toni Braxton, became well known for appearing on “Braxton Family Values” and later her spinoff series “Tamar & Vince.” Her fourth studio album “Bluebird of Happiness” was released in 2017. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $55-89.50. Limited seating available. VIP Meet and Greet Experience tickets are $100 and include a meet and greet with Braxton, digital photo, glass of champagne, a commemorative VIP laminate and keychain. Purchase VIP tickets at emglive.net. Concert ticket is required for entry and sold separately. For more information, visit thehowardtheatre.com.


’Nutcracker’ returns with D.C. twist

Misfits party is Dec. 29

The Washington Ballet gives its annual performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) through Dec. 28. This version of “The Nutcracker” is set in Georgetown in 1882 with the classic roles replaced with historical figures such as General George Washington as the Nutcracker and King George III as the Rat King. More than 100 dancers bring their flair to the Christmas tale set to the musical score by Tchaikovsky. Doors open one hour prior to showtime. Tickets range from $32-136. For more information, visit warnertheatredc.com.

Distrkt C and La Fantasy presents Misfits at L8 Lounge (727 15th St., N.W.) on Saturday, Dec. 29 from 10 p.m.-4 a.m. The party is for muscle boys, circuit queens, pretty boys, daddies and leather aficionados to come together. DJ Chord kicks off the party with an opening set followed by a main DJ set from Joe Gauthreaux (pictured here). Tickets are $30. Visit distrktc.com to purchase tickets.



DE C E M B E R 21, 2018 • 25


‘Icarus Falls,’ the new Zayn record, sounds like the former One Direction singer got all his sex education by listening to pop radio.

Zayn ‘Falls’ Bloated, banal, nearly 90-minute album only intermittently interesting By THOM MURPHY It was late summer 2014 when I saw Zayn Malik perform at Nashville’s LP Field, which regularly serves as football stadium for the Tennessee Titans. At the time Malik, who goes by his stylized first name ZAYN, was touring alongside fellow One Direction members Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson in sold-out NFL arenas and mega-stadiums around the world. It was a part of the group’s ambitious 2014 “Where We Are Tour.” But among the over 50,000 people in attendance that August evening, it was clear Zayn was crowd favorite, rivaled only perhaps by Styles. For artists like Zayn, it can be hard to make the transition from filling arenas with teenagers to appealing to a broaderage demographic. And Zayn became aware of the potential challenge earlier than other members of the boy band, making his exit while the group was still at peak popularity. He quickly released the single “Pillowtalk,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, followed by full debut album, “Mind of Mine,” also a No. 1 on Billboard. But Zayn’s sophomore album “Icarus Falls,” which marks almost four years since his departure from One Direction, is perhaps the best test yet of Zayn’s ability to appeal to a larger audience. Lead single “Let Me” is a laid back, R&Binfused track that works rather well. It’s nothing spectacular but has catchy, chill rhythm. It would be entirely inoffensive if it weren’t for the excessively banal lyrics: “Sweet baby, our sex has meaning/Know this time you’ll stay ‘til the morning.” Sex is always a given in pop music, but one has the impression that Zayn learned everything he knows about relationships from listening to Top 40 radio. The content is more of a regurgitation of everything else one hears than something with even a hint of originality. The freshness

of “Mind Of Mine” makes the banality of certain tracks on the new album appear especially pronounced. The other singles released ahead of the album — and there were five of them after “Let Me” — have been mixed. “Entertainer” abstains from total lyrically inanity but travels little distance musically. The opening hook is ear-catching, but the song seems to be stuck in some sort of limbo, never really changing tenor. “Sour Diesel” is something of a musical outlier on the album and sounds like something that will be used on the runway at Paris Fashion Week. It’s a sort of hollow, monotonous upbeat thing that would pair well with another more stimulating spectacle. The nail in the coffin is a kitschy guitar solo toward the end that was ostensibly borrowed from the rehearsal of a Guns N’ Roses cover band. The single “Too Much,” featuring Timbaland, is much better. It has a sensual pulse that carries the melody and robust synth pads that make for an ethereal sound. “Fingers” is a largely mediocre R&B track and sounds a bit dated. It’s better suited to 2008 than 2018. “No Candle No Light,” featuring Nicki Minaj, is a good uptempo dance track, but the EDM-inspired chorus again sounds a few years out of date with effects not unlike Skrillex and Diplo’s 2015 “Where Are Ü Now” with Justin Bieber. Yet for all its faults, there is no shortage of material. The album clocks in a just under 90 minutes, surprisingly long for a pop record. And there are solid tracks interspersed throughout. The songs “Scripted,” “Fresh Air” and “Imprint” are all musically interesting and avoid the lyrical unoriginality that plagues several of the singles. There is no questioning that Zayn has successfully distanced himself from his boy band days and with more success than his former One Direction bandmates, with the exception of Harry Styles, who has a fairly developed solo project. Yet “Icarus Falls,” unlike the much more innovative “Mind of Mine,” secures his place in the pop music scene by appealing to the lowest common denominator. In 2018 we can do better and so can he.


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New ’19 SUV models impressive Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia among standout comfy cruisers

Large and lumbering SUVs, with their gas-guzzler rep and oversized swagger, have always been a buzzkill, at least for me. But after some prodding from automaker colleagues, I decided to test a bevy of these brutes. Turns out many Leviathans have evolved into gentle giants, with an unexpected emphasis on agility, amenities and fuel economy.

worth the extra cash for the excellent 400-hp V6 turbo, with a stop/start engine feature that conserves fuel. Gobs of other goodies include 22-inch wheels, power-adjustable pedals, power-folding third-row seat, hands-free power liftgate, panoramic sunroof and running boards that automatically deploy when getting in and out of the vehicle. There’s also a suite of safety features, with airbags everywhere. The Sync voicecontrol system includes Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless phone charging. As for navigating in and out of tight spaces, it turns out the Expedition comes with an automated parking system.

FORD EXPEDITION PLATINUM 4X4 $74,000 Mpg: 17 city/24 highway Zero-60 mph: 5.9 seconds Cargo capacity: 104.6 cubic feet

TOYOTA SEQUOIA PLATINUM 4WD $68,000 Mpg: 13 city/17 highway Zero-60 mph: 6.7 seconds Cargo capacity: 120.1 cu. ft.

So there I was, debating whether or not to squeeze a compact crossover into an itty parking spot in an underground D.C. garage. But as soon as I spotted a Ford Expedition in a similar space, it was game on: No way was I going to be shown up by a hulking hauler. Still, I was impressed. A few months later, when actually test-driving an Expedition, I was impressed again. Despite being built on an F-150 truck platform, the Expedition handles more like a Mercedes S-Class sedan. Sprinting around curvy backroads was as fun as a theme-park thrill ride, and I was driving in Normal mode, not the more athletic Sport mode. With clever nips and tucks, today’s Expedition looks like a smaller, stylish Explorer. Pricing for a base-model Expedition costs $54,000, while the top-end Platinum 4X4 model is another 20 grand. But it’s

Did Toyota miss the memo on redesigning vehicles every few years? After all, the current Sequoia is based on the second-gen version launched back in 2008. Gas mileage lags similar SUVs, and there’s definitely no wow factor in the old-timey cabin. Still, the exterior gets a refresh, with three new colors, an updated front end, and snazzier headlights and taillights. There’s also a flashy new TRD Sport trim, with metallic black mirror caps, black/chrome badging, black interior treatments and a sport-tuned suspension. Built on the Tundra full-size pickup chassis, the Sequoia’s cargo capacity is hard to beat. And with three rows of seating, there’s abundant headroom and legroom for eight adults. I was surprised how quiet and composed this sport-ute handled


over potholes and minor off-roading. Acceleration and braking also were smooth and precise. Many optional safety features are now standard, including lanedeparture warning, automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection. Expect high reliability (this is Toyota, after all). And remember, there’s a nice upside to a dated design: It’s often easier to negotiate a decent price at the dealership. NISSAN ARMADA PLATINUM RESERVE 4WD $62,000 Mpg: 13 city/18 highway Zero-60 mph: 5.9 seconds Cargo capacity: 95.4 cu. ft. With a complete redesign last year, the Nissan Armada gets a leg up on the Toyota Sequoia — almost. Sure, the Armada exterior is jazzier, and the interior borrows heavily from upscale Infiniti. But those knobs and switches aren’t the latest iteration, which means the cabin could use a “Queer Eye” makeover. Another nit to pick: Sequoia has the better infotainment system, with smartphone capability. But the Armada has plenty of plusses, including a nifty new V8 engine with a pleasing exhaust rumble. Step on the gas, and this SUV is as fast as a Nissan Maxima sedan. I found the suspension and cornering as sharp and nimble as the Ford Expedition. There’s also a novel rearview-camera feature, where the backup camera is projected onto the rearview mirror. And the Armada (and its high-end cousin, the Infiniti QX80) have the highest towing capacity at 8,500 pounds of the SUVs here. I also test drove an Infiniti QX80, and the performance, storage space and other

stats are identical to the Nissan Armada. But the QX80 has a sleeker, quieter cabin, with more comfortable seats. Of course, the QX80 also costs about $20,000 more. RANGE ROVER V8 SUPERCHARGED $105,000 Mpg: 16 city/21 highway Zero-60 mph: 4.8 seconds Cargo capacity: 71.7 cu. ft. Talk about getting the royal treatment: Where else can you find a ritzy Brit box on wheels, with 20-way power-adjustable seats, electronic air suspension to lower the vehicle for easy access, soft-close doors to prevent any harsh slamming sound and an automatic facial-massage feature. OK, so there’s no facial massage, but you get the picture: The Range Rover V8 Supercharged is a superior SUV. It all starts with the engine, a burly, 518-hp supercharged V8 that rockets this chic chariot from zero-60 mph in less than five seconds. Swing sharply into a hairpin curve, mash the accelerator on the straightaway and (surprise!) there’s virtually no body roll despite the tall stance and high chassis. Inside, opulence is the word, with premium wood trim, a gesture-controlled sunblind for the panoramic sunroof and a high-tech infotainment system with two 10-inch touchscreens. My main beef was when the infotainment system froze up a few times, an unfortunate nod to Range Rover’s reliability issues. Another concern: cargo capacity was limited compared to other SUVs. Still, along with superb driving capabilities, it was hard not to appreciate this Rover’s blend of old-world craftsmanship and modern comfort.



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ADAM RIPPON, at last week’s Vicks pop-up in NYC, has his sights set on TV, film and a Vegas skating extravaganza.

Adam Rippon readies for bucket list and beyond Former Olympic skater prepares for an acting career By SCOTT STIFFLER You’re on thin ice if you think Adam Rippon plans to rest on his laurels. This year saw the good sport with the winning attitude take home a bronze Winter Olympics team event medal, get the gold (by coming in first on an athletesonly season of “Dancing with the Stars”), and shine, in the face of shade thrown from Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter account. Having announced last month that his days as a competitive figure skater are over, Rippon is raring to parlay his recent comedic turn on “Will & Grace” into a robust acting portfolio. “Comedy feels like another space where I can feel super-comfortable,” he said late last week, while figuratively lacing up, in anticipation of taping scenes for the “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” holiday special, “Christmas on I.C.E.” (Dec. 19, TBS). “I know what it takes to be a successful athlete,” Rippon said. “I want to start working with an acting coach, so when I go out for different roles, I’m prepared. I don’t want to be naïve and believe I can

be successful in another career without putting in the work.” But what good is all that preparation, to say nothing of a standout wardrobe, if cold and flu season takes you out of the running? To the rescue came Rippon’s press junket, which was brought to us by the folks at Vicks, who partnered with the skating champ for last week’s NYC pop-up experience, featuring new Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil products. Hot soup, and a meetand-greet with Rippon, awaited attendees. The celebrity draw assured us that his endorsement of the brand stems from those years of training for competition. Even while under the weather, Rippon recalled, “I wanted to stay on the ice as much as possible. DayQuil and NyQuil, I could always rely on to take, and it helped me get through those practices, when I wasn’t feeling so great.” What’s more, he deadpanned, Vicks products “don’t come up in drug tests.” Deploying a disarming, off-thecuff comment is a time-tested skill of Rippon’s, albeit one whose purpose has evolved. “Growing up,” he recalled, “I used humor to deflect. As I got older, I became more comfortable with who I was and the people around me, so I would use humor to connect. It’s a way to break down those barriers, where I’m able to meet

somebody for the first time, and they feel like they know me.” Currently at work on a memoir likely to stick its landing in late 2019, Rippon said it will “share my experience as a young kid from a small town, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.” Expect the tone to be “lighthearted and funny, even when we’re talking about important events that didn’t go in my favor.” And there have been disappointments. After World Junior title wins in 2008 and 2009, Rippon was on the fast track to Olympic glory, and then he failed to make the cut, twice, in 2010 and 2014. But even when he didn’t end up on the podium, or competing at all, due to injury, he wasn’t one to mope — a good choice, since the camera loves sourpuss reaction shots to a poor score, or a competitor’s triumph. “When you can cheer on other people and help them have success,” Rippon reasoned, “it always helps you. If I could be happy for them when they skated well, I felt I did better… Sometimes, when people come up, it feels like you’ve lost a little bit of yourself. But the real truth is, there’s always room for more. It’s not that one for them meant less for me.” Then there’s the burden, or legacy, or burdensome legacy, of being a pioneer:

First out LGBTQ person to compete in the Winter Olympics, and first openly gay person to win “Dancing with the Stars.” “Yes, I’ve been the first to do them,” Rippon said, “but it’s such a small and almost irrelevant fact of my own life, because it’s just a part of who I am… Being gay is a part of me I couldn’t control. It just is. What I want to be known for is the way I treat other people, the dedication I have. Those are things I can work on.” Looking at 2019 as a year “to transition to a new career,” Rippon hopes “you’ll be able to catch me on TV a lot more.” As for bucket list projects, Rippon envisions finding a regular gig that builds on his work as a special correspondent with “Good Morning America.” He’d also like to be in a comedic feature film. And watch out, Britney — they’ll be no “Oops!” when he does it again. “I’ll always be a skater,” Rippon vowed. “So I would love to have my own show in Vegas. I think that would be a lot of fun, and it would be a great opportunity for so many skaters, who are great performers, to showcase that.” Asked if he has a title in mind for the glittery Vegas marquee, the perennial cando kid said, “I don’t have one yet, but don’t worry. I’ll think of something really good.”


2 8 • DE CE MB ER 2 1, 2018


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

TODAY The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts Pup Night tonight from 8 p.m.-3 a.m. Puppies and handlers are welcome. There will be a large mosh area for play. Kibble and drink specials run all night. Attendees must be 18 to enter and 21 to drink. The drag show begins upstairs at 10:30 p.m. For more details, visit dceagle.com. The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) also hosts “The War on Christmas,” a holiday dance party, today from noon-3 a.m. DJ IcyFunk will spin tracks. Free entry before midnight. $5 cover after midnight. For more information, visit dceagle.com. XX+Crostino (1926 9th St., N.W.) hosts Cuddles and Coco today from 5 p.m.2:30 a.m. There will be a variety of hot coco, spiked eggnog, Christmas cookies and s’mores. “The Grinch” and two other movies of the crowd’s choosing will be screened. Guests are encouraged to bring a bean bag and blankets. Pillows will be provided. For more details, visit facebook.com/xxcrostino. D.C. Bear Crue hosts Bear Happy Hour at Uproar Lounge & Restaurant (639 Florida Ave., N.W.) this evening from 5-10 p.m. Drink specials include $5 rail cocktails and $5 draft pitchers of Bud Light and Shock Top. Free appetizers will be handed out all night. For more details, visit facebook.com/bearhappyhour. Macy Gray performs at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper cLUB (7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md.) tonight at 8 p.m. The singer/songwriter with the signature raspy voice will perform songs from her newest album “Ruby.” Tickets range from $67-87. There is a $20 food and beverage minimum per person not included in the ticket price. For more information, visit bethesdabluesjazz.com. The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts holiday game night tonight from 7-9 p.m. There will be card and board games provided but attendees are invited to bring their own games to share. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

SATURDAY, DEC. 22 Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) hosts Robyn vs. Gaga Dance Party tonight at 9:30 p.m. The venue will only play Lady Gaga and Robyn’s hits, remixes, collaborations and deep tracks all night. Tickets are $10. For more details, visit blackcatdc.com. The National Museum of American History (14th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W.) screens “Die Hard” for one day only today from 3-5 p.m. Tickets range from $6-10. For more information, visit si.edu/imax/movie. The D.C. Center volunteers at Food and Friends (219 Riggs Rd., N.E.) today


‘A Charlie Brown Christmas Ice” exhibit is open now through Jan. 1 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.

from 10 a.m.-noon. The group will help prepare meals to people living with HIV, cancer and other life challenging illnesses. Duties may include peeling, dicing, portioning, sorting, bagging, labeling and more. For more details, visit thedccenter.org. The National Symphony Orchestra performs “Handel’s Messiah” at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. The show will be conducted by Nicholas McGegan. Tickets range from $15-99. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org. Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center (201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.) presents “A Charlie Brown Christmas. ICE” today through Jan. 1. Charlie Brown rediscovers the meaning of Christmas through two million pounds of ice sculptures and displays. Attractions in the indoor winter wonderland include the depiction of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the full nativity scene carved out of ice. Adult tickets are $32 and child ticket are $24. For more details, visit gaylordnationaltickets.com.

SUNDAY, DEC. 23 Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) has a drag brunch today with shows at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Drag entertainers will perform as Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Pink and more. Tickets are $41.91 and include an

all-you-can-eat buffet and one mimosa or bloody mary. Performers include Chanel Devereaux, Alexiya-nycole Davenport, Chicki Parm, LaBellela Ziah and Sapphire Ardwick Ardmore-Blue. For more details, visit nelliessportsbar.com. Downtown Holiday Market’s last day is today from noon-8 p.m. in the center of 8th and F Streets, N.W. The market offers hundreds of gift items such as jewelry, pottery, paintings and more sold by more than 150 regional artisans. There is also live music and food and drink vendors. For more information, visit downtownholidaymarket.com.

MONDAY, DEC. 24 AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, Md.) screens “It’s a Wonderful Life” today at 1:45 and 6:45 p.m. The film will be shown in new 4K restoration The 1:45 p.m. showing will include a book event with Jeremy Arnold author of Turner Classic Movies’ “Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season. “ Tickets range from $5-13. For more information, visit silver.afi.com.

TUESDAY, DEC. 25 The Yards D.C. (301 Water St., S.E.) presents Light Yards tonight from 6-10 p.m. This event includes outdoor public light art installations including worldwide

traveling light installations “The Pool” by Jen Lewin Studio and “Angels of Freedom” by OGE Group. On “The Pool,” visitors can hop, skip and jump on 106 interactive circular pads of light. “Angels of Freedom” turns visitors into angels when they pose in front of five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos. Admission is free. For more details, visit theyardsdc.com.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 26 Freddie’s Beach Bar Bar (555 23rd St. S, Arlington, Va.) hosts Beach Blanket Drag Bingo tonight from 8-10 p.m. Entry is free and there will be prizes. After bingo, there will be karaoke. Ms. Regina Jozet Adams, Ophelia Bottoms and Ashlee Jozet Adams host the event. For more information, visit facebook.com/ freddiesbeachbararlington. Anita Baker performs at MGM National Harbot (101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md.) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $95-350. For more details, visit mgmnationalharbor.com.

THURSDAY, DEC. 27 Le Kon Restaurant (3227 Washington Blvd., Arlington, Va) hosts its weekly Pride Night today at 6 p.m. Fifteen percent of all bar proceeds will be donated to NOVA Pride. For more information, visit facebook.com/lekonrestaurant.



D E CE MBE R 2 1 , 2 0 1 8 • 2 9

Christmas and Kwanzaa events LGBT-affirming D.C.-area churches, centers welcome worshipers By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com Editor’s note: Many churches in the D.C. area are LGBT affirming. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive. CHRISTMAS EVE St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Rock Creek Park (Rock Creek Church Rd. and Webster St., N.W.) holds a Christmas Eve service today at 4:45 p.m. For details, visit stpaulsrockcreek.org. Dumbarton United Methodist Church (3133 Dumbarton St., N.W.) has a Christmas Eve worship service at 6 p.m. There will be a children’s Christmas pageant, special Christmas music, blessing of children, carols and candlelight. For more information, visit dumbartonumc.org. National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, N.W.) holds a candlelight community worship service with prelude music at 7 p.m. For more information, visit nationalcitycc.org. Seekers Church (276 Carroll St., N.W.) celebrates Christmas Eve with a dinner from 6-7 p.m. followed by a service of lessons and carols from 7:30-8:30 p.m. For more details, visit seekerschurch.org. The Christ Church on Capitol Hill (620 G St., S.E.) has events and services throughout the day and night. At 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., the church hosts its “come as you are” family service which features an informal pick-up pageant, carols, children’s message and communion. A formal family service follows at 6:30 p.m. with a Christmas pageant, homily, carols, communion and music from the St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble. At 10 p.m. there will be a choral prelude with the St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble. They will be joined by the Christ Church choir. The Festival Eucharist follows at 10:30 p.m. with a candlelit sanctuary, sermon, communion, carols and music from the St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble. The final event is the festive reception at 11:30 p.m. Attendees are asked to bring food and drink to share. For more information, visit washingtonparish.org. Foundry United Methodist Church (1500 16th St., N.W.) holds a children’s Christmas Eve service today from 6-7 p.m. followed by a Candlelight Christmas Eve Service from 8-9 p.m. For more information, visit foundryumc.org. Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge St., N.W.) has a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. For more details, visit mccdc.com.


Saint John’s Episcopal Church (1525 H St., N.W.) has Christmas Eve services from 3:30-11 p.m. At 3:30 p.m. there will be carols and anthems followed by a pageant and the Choral Holy Eucharist at 4 p.m. At 7 p.m. there will be carols and anthems with the Festival Eucharist starting at 7:30 p.m. The last service of the night kicks off with carols and anthems at 10:30 p.m. and then Festival Eucharist at 11 p.m. For more details, visit stjohns-dc.org. Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) holds a children’s Christmas service today at 11 a.m. Lessons and carols is this evening at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve Holy Eucharist is tonight at 10 p.m. Check online before going — some services may be full in advance. Details at cathedral.org. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (300 A St., S.E.) has a pageant with Eucharist today at 4 p.m., a carol sing at 9:30 p.m. and a festival Eucharist at 10 p.m. Details at stmarks.net. Foundry United Methodist Church (1500 16th St., N.W.) has services tonight

at 6 and 8 p.m. Details at foundryumc.org. CHRISTMAS DAY Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) holds its Christmas Day Holy Eucharist at 11:15 a.m. featuring scripture, season choral performance, instrumental music and hymns. Passes are not required. At 1:30 p.m. there will be a Christmas Day organ recital by George Fergus. There is a $10 recommended donation. For more information, visit cathedral.org. St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church (1830 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) has a Christmas Day service with the Holy Eucharist today at 10 a.m. For more details, visit stmargaretsdc.org. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Rock Creek Park (Rock Creek Church Rd. and Webster St., N.W.) holds a Christmas service today at 10:30 a.m. For details, visit stpaulsrockcreek.org. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (300 A St., S.E.) has a Christmas Day Mass today at

10 a.m. Details at stmarks.net. KWANZAA UNIA-ACL hosts “Kwanzaa Nia 2018 Feast and Celebration” on Sunday, Dec. 30 from 5-10 p.m. at the Thurgood Marshall Center Trust (1816 12th St., N.W.). Look for the event on Facebook for details. Roots of Scouting, Inc. hosts a Kwanzaa celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 26 at St. Cecilia Catholic Church (3301 Windsor Ave., Baltimore) in Baltimore. Look for the event on Facebook for details. BRUHS: Book Reading Uplifts His Spirit presents “UMOJA,” a Kwanzaa celebration for LGBT communities of color, family and friends. It’s a potluck event with music, vendors, festivities and more on Wednesday, Dc. 26 at 6:45 p.m. at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W., no. 105). Details at thedccenter.org. The D.C. Kwanzaa planning committee has various events planned and also offers a calendar and resource guide. Look for the group on Facebook for details.


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30 • DE C E M B E R 21, 201 8


Adapting Baldwin Oscar-winning screenwriter/ director Barry Jenkins on ‘Beale Street’ project By BRIAN T. CARNEY

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“If Beale Street Could Talk,” writer/ director Barry Jenkins’s stunning cinematic adaptation of the novel by legendary gay author James Baldwin, got its start when Jenkins was dumped by a college girlfriend. As the award-winning director of “Moonlight” recalls, “She was smarter, wiser, beautiful. I don’t know what she was doing with me.” It didn’t last long. “I was an idiot and she broke up with me,” he says. “She told me, ‘You need to read James Baldwin.’ I had painted myself into such a small box. I think she was telling me, ‘You need to grow.’” She recommended he start with “Giovanni’s Room” (about an interracial gay relationship) and “The Fire Next Time” (a book of essays about race and religion in America). “That was my entry point to Baldwin,” he says, “so that’s what I’m going to tell other folks. For your first experience with Baldwin, start there.” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the first English-language cinematic adaptation of a Baldwin novel, tracks the romance between Clementine “Tish” Rivers (played by newcomer KiKi Layne) and Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James). Tish and Fonny are childhood friends who fall in love as adults, but their happiness is shattered when Fonny is falsely accused of rape by a racist white policeman. As Tish and her family fight to prove Fonny’s innocence, she discovers she’s pregnant with his child. In adapting Baldwin’s 1974 novel, Jenkins says he wanted to pay homage to the thoughtful and passionate way Baldwin constructed his narrative. “From the very beginning, the lives of black people in America have always been so deeply rooted in degradation and despair and yet we have always managed to manifest joy and love and build community,” he says. “I felt that on one hand we could paint with a brush that was very dark and reference that despair but on the other hand, we could paint with a brush that was leaning into this joy, this love, this beauty. Not that they go hand in hand, but I feel that they are both facts of the black experience.” This approach to Baldwin shaped every aspect of Jenkins’ cinematic adaptation. For example, Jenkins wanted the film to reflect the two different voices Baldwin uses in the book. According to the Academy Award-winning screenwriter, “one is very lush and sensual, very passionate about romance and romanticism. The other is


Director BARRY JENKINS and KIKI LAYNE on the set of ‘If Beale Street Could Talk.’

a clear-eyed social critique, especially of how the American government treats the lives and souls of black folks.” The novel is narrated by Tish, but Jenkins notes that, “even though the story is told from Tish’s perspective, a lot of times it’s really Baldwin speaking through her. Film is not the best medium for interiority; literature is. But there was an opportunity to bring this interiority from the novel to the screen through the use of voiceover narration. We could bring Baldwin to the screen fully intact.” Jenkins’ decision to use voiceover narration led to a challenge in casting the character of Tish. “In the film,” Jenkins says, “Tish speaks with two voices. In the present-day scenes, she’s experiencing everything for the first time. She’s very innocent, almost naïve. But in the narration, where her voice fuses with Baldwin’s, she’s speaking from just a step removed. She’s gained experience. I wanted to have someone who could have this fresh innocence and yet speak in this wise way, the girl and the woman. When I saw Kiki’s audition tape, I felt I saw all those things.” In addition to his skills as a writer and director, Jenkins is known for his sensitive and thoughtful presentations of black masculinity. Jenkins credits his colleagues for helping him to explore this challenging territory. “Tarrel Alvin McCraney and James Baldwin have written these wonderful scenarios. I don’t know if it’s because Tarrel and Mr. Baldwin are both black gay men, but I know they are writers who want to push their characters to reveal their deepest truest selves. I feel fortunate that both of these pieces have landed in my lap and that I can go out with people like Trevante Rhodes and Andre Holland and Stephan James and Brian Tyree Henry, all those wonderful richly diverse black men who are willing to go to that place where you can truly see them in their deepest selves.” Jenkins’ next project will take him in a very different direction. He’s writing and directing an 11-part Amazon series based on the acclaimed novel “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. ■ CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM



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‘Queer’ teens New book on out youth compelling despite academic tendencies

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

Growing up is hard. Most sentient adults would agree and decline a chance to returns to the teen years between changing bodies, mean girls, bullies and facing adulthood, it’s enough to have endured it once. But for kids who are “different” on top of all that, there’s hope, as Mary Robertson says in “Growing Up Queer.” In the early years of the Obama administration, after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and after three states made same-sex marriage legal, Robertson began volunteering at her local LGBT Resource Center, specifically, in the basement teen hang-out called Spectrum. She was working on research and she hoped, over time, to interview Spectrum’s teen clientele but she was nervous: as a cisgender straight woman, what would the kids tell her? Plenty, as it turned out. While there were gay, lesbian and transgender teens at Spectrum, the majority of the youth Robertson studied called themselves “queer,” a wider sexuality- and gender-encompassing identity specifically separate from gay or lesbian. As one young man indicated, identifying as queer was easier than repeatedly resetting his self-identity as he learned more about himself and the people he might be attracted to. Many of her interviewees told Robertson they knew early in their lives that they

were not heteronormal. Many teens told stories of recognizing their own interest in same-sex actors and performers when they were young and of precocious selfacknowledgment of same-sex leanings. One claimed innocence that compelled him to ask for clarification on slurs, thus learning negativity about his feelings long before he knew his feelings “had a name.” Robertson says suicide rates for LGBT students are inflated, but she also notes that today’s queer teens have access to an abundance of support: her subjects often noted family attitudes that have shifted with the times and there seems to be more acceptance from peers. Gay-Straight Alliances weren’t widely known in high schools until the 1990s but today, most larger schools have GSAs and nearly every state in the U.S. has at least one LGBT center. For her queer subjects, this is good news, Robertson says. On the future, she says, “This is what gives it so much promise.” As eye-opening and reassuring as it is, this book may be a challenge. “Growing Up Queer” can sometimes read like a thesis paper made of cardboard, perhaps due to its original intent for research. When the narrative dips like that, it feels a lot like when your newly PhD’d brother expounds on his favorite subject: it grows complicated, often unnecessary and sometimes redundant. Thankfully, author Mary Robertson gets out of the way enough to make a reader want to forgive such transgressions and just enjoy the teens she meets. There’s life in them, deep introspection and philosophical thought, as well as acceptance covered slightly with the scabs of perseverance. Their voices are real and need no explaining. They offer hope. That makes this book accessible, but academics may get more from it than will casual readers. Tackle “Growing Up Queer” if you wish, but understanding may come hard. ‘GROWING UP QUEER’ By Mary Robertson NYU Press $26 224 pages

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Burtka’s the chef, Harris the bartender at family gatherings CON TINUED FROM PAGE 19

scalloped potatoes and country ham fried rice, to name a few of the savory dishes. Burtka and Harris talked to the Blade about their favorite holiday drinks and treats, how to navigate tense dinner table conversations and fond memories of their first Christmas together. WASHINGTON BLADE: You’ve become known for your family photos with your kids. What’s your secret for that perfect holiday photo? DAVID BURTKA: Tasers. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: Yeah, it slows them down. I think with iPhone cameras being so effective we can pretty much take pictures of most everything. Before, you had to say “Stop,” get out a camera, take a photo, download it. Now, the quality of the camera is so good that we take pictures of our hotel room, our dinner, what we’re wearing. So the idea of taking pictures is sort of commonplace. If anything, the kids now at 8 years old are savvy enough to be playing us like fiddles with photography. So they’ll say, “You can take this picture but it can’t go on Instagram.” BURTKA: It’s interesting, we never intended to be known for our family photos. We just really love showing and sharing with the world. Also, we have

a strange world that we live in. There’s the paparazzi and I think that if you take the price off their heads and you sort of control the photo and are able to release what you want to release they’re not going to be hounding us as much. HARRIS: That happened more in L.A. If you didn’t have any images of your newborn kids out there, then they would ask photographers to follow you around so they could be the people to have that photo. So, if we just posted our own photos the need for that lessens because we were providing photos, not to news organizations, but just to anyone who was interested in it. At the same time when you look at Instagram a vast majority of parents post pictures of their children because the kids are stupid adorable. So I don’t think we’re doing anything unusual, we just have to make sure that they’re well-shot pictures. I try to be discerning with our imagery. BLADE: What’s your favorite Christmas present you’ve given each other? BURTKA: I have two. They’re both art. The first are these really great portraits that he had of the kids done by Jill Greenberg. Those were amazing. Those made me cry. HARRIS: He didn’t know I was doing it. I

went and took the kids and didn’t tell him and did the photoshoot. BURTKA: There was another piece of art that he had done that was flip art. So it was like one of those old-timey movies where the screens flip. But it was a story of Neil being a magician and coming into frame and the kids are sitting there. They were really small like 2 years old. And he takes a sheet and covers them up and uncovers them and they’re gone. HARRIS: I got two empty chairs and I cover the empty chairs and then the kids are there and then we bow and they go back, reset. BURTKA: It was creative and so beautiful. HARRIS: We collect contemporary art so that’s an easy one to do for David. And by easy I mean expensive. For me, I like experiential things. It’s not just Christmas, it’s pretty much all year long. I’m constantly seeing things that I want to buy. This new book came out, I’d love to have this new shaker for my bar, I’m always doing that. So it’s the experiences. David got me once two half-day classes with Bobby Flay. BURTKA: That was your birthday. HARRIS: …where I got to go to his house

and he taught me how to barbecue. That was really special to get to see that and do that live. That’s kind of a once-in-alifetime situation. I love those. BLADE: During the holidays, families get together and they might have different political opinions. What’s your advice for navigating difficult holiday table talk? BURTKA: Booze. HARRIS: Really? BURTKA: Just kidding. HARRIS: I think to make the meal a bit of a game. There’s something called Table Topics that are these cubes and inside of them are these cards and each card has a question. “If you were on a desert island and you could only bring two books what would you bring?” Or “What do you think is the most influential thing that’s happened in your life?” And we’ll usually at a formal meal put one of those cards under everyone’s plate or mix it with the napkin so that in the conversation, if there’s a lull or it gets contentious you can say, “Oh well, hey, I have a question. What was your favorite comic book hero growing up?” and then it keeps things kind of buoyant and quasi-frivolous.


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House hunters: Christmas edition Finding the perfect home for Santa By VALERIE M. BLAKE I recently found a house for Chris Kringle and Sandy Claus, a lovely couple referred to me by mutual friends from the little town of Bethlehem, Pa. During an initial 10-minute phone call, Chris told me that he and Sandy would be coming to town for a week to search for their dream home. We arranged to meet at Starbucks the following week to discuss their housing requirements over a vente eggnog latte in a controversial holiday-themed cup. As I had requested on the phone, they brought with them a pre-approval letter from the North Pole branch of Guild Mortgage. (No joke! Guild Mortgage is an established firm with offices up and down the West Coast. It has been in business for more than 50 years and, according to their website, enjoys an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and four stars on Yelp.) We spent some time discussing how I could best help them find the winter wonderland that would become their new home. “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,” said Sandy. “I understand,” I replied apologetically, “but I’m prohibited by fair housing regulations from discussing racial demographics.” While we continued to sip our nog, they

Santa’s must-have list is long and includes stables and plenty of room for his workshop. PHOTO BY BILLYFOTO ; PHOTO COURTESY OF BIGSTOCK

told me that they were heavily involved in charity work and would soon be receiving an influx of cash for their down payment from the Trump Foundation in Manhattan. The kicker: they had to be settled and in the house before Chris left on a business trip on Dec. 24. “Let me take the reins,” I suggested. “This is the most wonderful time of the year to buy a house.” When I asked what they were looking for, Chris got a list of necessities out of his backpack and checked it twice before handing it to me. As our discussion ensued, I realized that this was going to be more of

a challenge then I had thought. The house itself needed to have 8 upstairs bedrooms, 7 ensuite bathrooms, 6 fireplaces, and a view of the Capitol dome. They also wanted a sturdy rooftop and a commercial kitchen to prepare meals for a large crowd. So far, so good. There were 15 properties in our multiple listing service that met their basic criteria. But wait! They also wanted a home office where Chris and his pals could tinker with toys over milk and cookies while Sandy downed a couple of wassails with a bourbon chaser. I suggested that their house should have a large basement that could be turned into a workshop. Then they mentioned needing a guesthouse too. “No problem,” I said, knowing that many luxury home buyers have large parties, fundraising events, weekend visitors and extended family who relish their privacy. “How big does it need to be?” I asked. “Well, let’s see,” mused Sandy. “I think we can make do with 20 bedrooms, but they don’t have to be very large. We just need space for our vertically challenged seasonal migrant workers and an occasional visiting cabinet secretary, if we can find one who’s not on the naughty list.” Now things were looking a bit more difficult. We were down to six homes to select from after I added a minimum of two acres to their search criteria and checked zoning

requirements for multi-family residences. It was then that Chris stroked his hipster beard and asked Sandy, “Did you mention the stables?” I bit my tongue to avoid saying something naughty and, while Chris went outside to smoke his pipe, I eliminated every community with a homeowners’ association from our list. Since there was only one home left, I scheduled a viewing appointment, paid the bill, and brought the car around. As we headed out, Chris thought aloud, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” “Let it snow,” replied Sandy. “House hunting is tiring and all I want to do is deck the halls while you sit back and roast your chestnuts on an open fire.” “Don’t worry,” I chimed in. “I’ll soon have you rockin’ around the Christmas tree spreading joy to the world in your new home.” And when we arrived at the house and walked into the foyer, I knew we had found the right one. We wrote a cash offer and they settled this morning, under budget and ahead of schedule. We parted ways then, but as they Ubered out of sight, I heard Chris exclaim, “Sandy, baby, I love our new house, but all I really want for Christmas is you.” VALERIE M. BLAKE is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and Director of Education & Mentorship at Real Living| At Home. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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