Washingtonblade.com, Volume 50, Issue 16, April 19, 2019

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Washington Blade photo by Michael Key


A PRIL 19, 2019 • VOLUM E 50 • I S S UE 16 • WA S HI N GTONB LAD E.CO M

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D.C.’s Khadijah Tribble explains why reform of cannabis laws is an LGBTQ issue, PAGE 24. And more in our special section PAGES 25-31

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Looking back:


Arts & Culture

50 years of the Blade


QUEERY: Van Goodwin

AIDS Healthcare Foundation


Ailey dancers plan

center celebrates 10 years in D.C. 10

Baltimore’s LGBT leaders

Baltimore performances 38

mixed on Pugh’s future 11

Buttigieg makes it official


Gay former ambassador

13 16 17

Regional affirming houses of worship plan seders, services


Awesome Con is still here and queer

to run for Senate


Grand characters in ‘Grand Hotel’

ICE falsified documents


Filmfest D.C. returns

against trans detainee: lawyer


Gay hockey?

Blade contributor


Rocking the boat

seeks asylum in U.S.


Cute and comfy compacts

Reforms hamper HIV med


Navigating D.C.’s market

distribution in Mexico 19



Cannabis Issue

as a foreign buyer 54


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Cheap thrills advertised — April 16, 1979

Disco was king in 1979. Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” was at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart 40 years ago this month. Cheap thrills, for $3.50 a bottle, were also among the products advertised in the April 16, 1979, issue of the Washington Blade.

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AIDS Healthcare Foundation center celebrates 10 years in D.C. Global org provides HIV medical services in D.C., P.G. County offices By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM

Dr. ROXANNE COX-IYAMU, medical director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s D.C. Healthcare Center. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which provides medical care and related services for people with HIV in 43 countries worldwide, including the U.S., is celebrating the 10th anniversary this week of its Blair Underwood Healthcare Center in D.C. Dr. Roxanne Cox-Iyamu, the D.C. center’s medical director, said the center first opened in 2009 at its current location in a medical services building at 2141 K Street, N.W., but in a smaller suite of offices than where it’s now located in the same building. Earlier this year, the AHF Underwood Healthcare Center moved to a larger suite of offices on a different floor to accommodate what Cox-Iyamu says is a patient population of “650 and growing.” Among those attending the center’s opening ceremony in 2009, according to Cox-Iyamu, was television and film actor Blair Underwood, after whom the center has been named in honor of his outspoken advocacy for HIV prevention and services. “Blair had been working with AHF in various projects to encourage AfricanAmerican men to get tested for HIV,” CoxIyamu said while giving the Washington

Blade a tour of the D.C. center’s offices. “He was here with his family,” she said. “It was a big event. And then once the event was over the work of growing the center began. And we spent quite a bit of time in the community,” Cox-Iyamu continued, noting that the AHF Underwood Center has a presence at D.C.’s LGBT Pride events every year. “We participate in a lot of testing events so that people in the community know we’re here,” she said. Similar to its heath care centers in 15 states in the U.S. and as many as 43 countries worldwide, the D.C. AHF center includes an onsite pharmacy that provides HIV-related prescription medication to the center’s patients. Cox-Iyamu said the K Street center’s pharmacy also provides the HIV prevention drug PrEP for people who are HIV negative, including HIV-negative spouses and partners of people with HIV. In the years since it opened its center on K Street, Cox-Iyamu said AHF has subsequently opened one satellite Healthcare Center at 1647 Benning Road, N.E. in D.C. and another at 4302 St. Barnabas Road in Temple Hill, Md., in

Prince George’s County. She said the Benning Road center, which now sees about 450 clients, also serves as a wellness center, which provides walk-in HIV testing and walk-in testing for other sexually transmitted diseases. “We take people regardless of their ability to pay,” she told the Blade, including those who are uninsured. Based on an intake process that assesses patients’ financial status, she said the centers on K Street, Benning Road, and Temple Hills assign a case manager to each patient to help them apply for and obtain Medicaid coverage or other types of insurance for which they may be eligible. African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) make up the largest percentage of patients at all three D.C. area centers, Cox-Iyamu said. Some still face stigma from their families, co-workers, and the communities where they live based on their HIV status, she said. With the K Street AHF center located in a large medical services building, clients fearful of being identified as having HIV can remain anonymous by entering a general medical building that’s not labeled on the outside as an AIDS clinic, she said. “Over time we have grown the staff such that we have a full-range multidisciplinary team,” she said. “We have a physician, we have a medical assistant. We have a nurse case manager. We have a pharmacist on site. And we have a non-medical case manager,” according to Cox-Iyamu. “And I think it’s important to have all of those individuals on board because of the specific needs that the HIV population has,” she said. “And having those resources available to assist with keeping people in care really helps improve the outcomes.” She noted that the K Street center along with the Benning Road and Temple Hills centers have developed strategies to ensure that HIV patients remain in care and continue to return for follow-up visits. “At this site we have a large AfricanAmerican MSM population,” she said, and many are referred to as “couch surfers” because they don’t have a stable home. Some are “dually or triply diagnosed” with HIV along with mental health and substance abuse issues, she said. Similar to other AHF centers across the country, the D.C. centers provide a referral service for patients to other facilities that provide mental health and substance abuse services, Cox-Iyamu said. In addition to the Blair Underwood Healthcare Center on K Street and the

satellite centers on Benning Road and Temple Hills, AHF has an office near the U.S. Capitol that helps coordinate another activity that AHF officials consider highly important to their overall mission – advocacy for people with HIV before the U.S. government and international agencies on HIV and other health policy issues. AHF national spokesperson Ged Kenslea said the group’s national advocacy office in D.C. has been operating for nearly 20 years. Among the issues on which AHF has spoken out have been calls for pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of AIDS drugs and opposition to the proposed merger of CVS Health Corporation and Aetna health services company on grounds that the merger, among other things, would lead to further increases in the price for AIDS drugs. On April 12, Cox-Iyamu and others from the D.C. AHF healthcare centers participated in an AHF-led protest outside the World Bank headquarters in downtown D.C. to raise objections to the World Bank’s definition of “middle income countries” on which the World Bank bases its criteria for providing assistance for such countries, including assistance for AIDS programs. In literature distributed to passersby as the World Bank hosted its annual spring meeting, AHF noted that the World Bank’s definition of a middle income country, or MIC, is a daily income for a worker equivalent to $2.73 per day in most western developed countries, which AHF says is equal to the price of a cup of coffee. At a booth on the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., across from the World Bank building, Cox-Iyamu and other AHF staffers handed out free coffee to passersby as a gesture to draw attention to a call for the World Bank to “raise the MIC.” “The global AIDS response has enough obstacles to overcome without having to deal with an arbitrary economic classification further disrupting efforts,” AHF said in a statement. Among those participating in the protest were John Hassell, AHF’s National Director of Advocacy, who is based in the AHF Capitol Hill office; and Terri Ford, AHF’s Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy, who’s based in Los Angeles. The AHF Underwood Healthcare Center on K Street was scheduled to hold a reception at its offices on April 18 from 3-5 p.m. to celebrate the facility’s 10th anniversary in D.C.

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Stop Cannabis Arrest & Prosecution in Washington DC

We the people of Washington DC ask that Mayor Bowser and the city council direct the Metropolitan Police Department to stop arresting and prosecuting citizens for Possession or Distribution of any amount of Cannabis , Cannabis oils and Cannabis Edibles . Arresting citizens for Cannabis Crimes is Immoral and against the community standard of the citizens of Washington DC Arresting citizens is a waste of the cit city’s resources and affects People of Color disproportionately. The People of Washington DC have spoken that they want the right to purchase recreational cannabis and smoke cannabis in private clubs overwhelmingly in 2015 . Stop All Arrest & Prosecutions of Cannabis We started this petition because... King Weedy Collective is a 501c3 non profit . Our mission is to bring safe access of Cannabis to all citizens and visitors of Washington DC

Please visit www.kingweedy.org to sign this petition AP R IL 1 9 , 2 0 1 9 • WA SHINGTONBLA DE.COM • 09

Baltimore’s LGBT leaders mixed on Pugh’s future JENNIFER ELLER alleges the P.G. County school system subjected her to discrimination and harassment.

Trans teacher’s lawsuit against P.G. County resumes

Baltimore Mayor CATHERINE PUGH is facing mounting calls to step down amid scandal. Photo by Maryland GovPics; courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Baltimore LGBT lawmakers remain mixed on whether the city’s embattled mayor should resign over the “Healthy Holly” scandal. Gay state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) on Friday told the Washington Blade that Catherine Pugh should step down. “I believe the mayor should resign,” said Clippinger. State Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), the first openly LGBT person of color elected to the Maryland Senate, has not responded to multiple requests for comment from the Blade. On April 1, she wrote, “May Mayor Catherine Pugh find peace and health during her ‘temporary leave of absence’” on her Facebook page but did not express any further opinions. State Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), a lesbian, also has not responded to a request for comment on the issue from the Blade. Pugh began her leave of absence on April 1, citing pneumonia. Her spokesperson, James Bentley, in an April 8 statement said she plans to return to work once she recovers. Pugh announced her leave the same day Republican Gov. Larry Hogan asked the Office of the State Prosecutor to investigate the sale of 100,000 copies of Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” book series to the University of Maryland Medical System between 2011-2018. These $500,000 worth of sales occurred while Pugh served on the board of UMMS. The books were meant to go to schools or other children’s centers, but 50,000 copies remain unaccounted for. Pugh returned her most recent $100,000 payment, canceled her book deal and resigned from her position on the UMMS board after the Baltimore Sun broke the scandal in March. She also apologized for doing something “to upset the people.” Pugh has been under fire for the past couple of weeks, and many lawmakers are calling on her to step down. Fourteen of Baltimore’s 15-member City Council signed a letter advising Pugh not to return to her post as mayor after her leave of absence. The president of the council, Bernard “Jack” Young, did not sign the letter. He’s currently serving as the city’s acting mayor while Pugh is on leave. JAMES WELLEMEYER

Negotiations aimed at amicably settling a lawsuit filed last November by a transgender teacher against the Prince George’s County public school system for allegedly subjecting her to discrimination and harassment because of her gender identity have been unsuccessful, according to court records. The records show that proceedings for the lawsuit filed by English teacher Jennifer Eller, 37, resumed on April 1 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in accordance with a schedule set by the judge in the event that a settlement could not be reached by March 28. Disclosure of the settlement negotiations first surfaced in a joint motion filed in court on Feb. 26 by attorneys for Eller and attorneys for the P.G. Public Schools and two other parties being sued by Eller. The motion, which was approved by U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang, called for a 30-day suspension of all action related to the lawsuit to give the two parties time to negotiate a settlement. Neither the attorneys representing Eller, one of whom is with the LGBT litigation group Lambda Legal, nor those representing the school system publicly disclosed the settlement discussions or the failure of the discussions to reach a settlement as of March 28. The Washington Blade learned about those developments from the public court records. When contacted by the Blade, a spokesperson for Lambda Legal declined to disclose a reason for why a settlement could not be reached within the 30day period designated by the judge for settlement discussions while the court proceedings were put on hold. “A settlement has not been reached at the moment and the case schedule will proceed according to public schedule,” said Lambda Legal spokesperson Samy Nemir. A school system spokesperson has declined to respond to the Blade’s repeated requests for comment on the lawsuit, saying school officials never comment on pending litigation. Eller charges in her lawsuit that as a female transgender teacher she was

subjected to five years of discrimination, harassment, abuse and retaliation by school administrators, fellow teachers, students, and parents after she transitioned in 2011 from male to female. The lawsuit says she was forced to resign from her teaching job in 2017 after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the alleged abuse she faced on the job. In its official response to the lawsuit filed in court on Feb. 11, attorneys for the school system deny the allegations and claim the school system had in place nondiscrimination polices that covered gender identity and sexual orientation for school employees and students. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Equality Va. raises $250,000 at dinner Equality Virginia held its 16th annual Commonwealth Dinner at the Greater Richmond Convention Center last Saturday. The event raised more than $250,000 for the Virginia LGBT advocacy group, according to Executive Director James Parrish. Among the attendees were state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the country, and freshman Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. Thirty lawmakers attended the event in total. Roem spoke at the dinner and discussed LGBT issues locally and nationwide. “We have had enough. We will not go quietly,” Roem said to a cheering crowd as she spoke about the trans military ban. Beyond Roem’s remarks, the night also included a recap of Equality Virginia’s advocacy work during this year’s General Assembly session. “I did zero in on the fact that the only reason we weren’t celebrating being the first in the South to have statewide protections for LGBT people in housing and public employment was that Speaker Kirk Cox stood in the way,” Parrish said. With every state lawmaker in Virginia up for re-election in November, Equality Virginia is hoping for new leadership in the House of Delegates to pass those anti-discrimination protections for LGBT Virginians. JAMES WELLEMEYER

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Buttigieg makes it official Days after announcing 2020 bid, Mayor Pete faces hecklers By CHRIS JOHNSON CJOHNSON@WASHBLADE.COM

Mayor PETE BUTTIGIEG speaks at a campaign rally at City Winery in Washington, D.C. on April 4. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

Before a crowd of adoring supporters in South Bend, Ind., who braved the rain to hear him speak, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made his 2020 presidential campaign official on Sunday. “I’m here to join you to make a little news,” Buttigieg said. “My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete. I am a proud son of South Bend, Ind., and I am running for president of the United States.” Previously, the South Bend mayor had formed an exploratory committee for a possible run, but hadn’t yet declared his candidacy. His announcement changed that, making his campaign official. The crowd responded to Buttigieg’s announcement with roaring applause, chanting, “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A” as they waived American flags. A key component of Buttigieg’s message was the economic recovery of South Bend under his watch as mayor after stagnation following the loss of manufacturing — a situation with which many cities in the Midwest are familiar. “More people are moving into South Bend than we’ve seen in a generation,” Buttigieg said. “Thousands of new jobs have been added in our area, and billions in investment. There’s a long way for us to go. Life here is far from perfect. But we’ve changed our trajectory, and shown a path forward for communities like ours.” Touting the reinvigoration of his city under a new economy, Buttigieg — without ever mentioning President Trump by name — also criticized the notion the American Dream can be restored by seeking to go back to the past under a “Make America

Great Again” mentality. “Because there is a myth being sold to industrial and rural communities: the myth that we can stop the clock and turn it back,” Buttigieg said. “It comes from people who think the only way to reach communities like ours is through resentment and nostalgia, selling an impossible promise of returning to a bygone era that was never as great as advertised to begin with. The problem is, they’re telling us to look for greatness in all the wrong places.” Policy items Buttigieg mentioned were ensuring climate security, abolishing the Electoral College, preserving the right to abortion, ensuring access to health care and confronting a growing threat of white nationalism. At one point, Buttigieg invoked his inner Bill Clinton by disparaging the Reagan economic policies of supply-side economics he says were embraced by both Republicans and Democrats. “That era, too, is now over,” Buttigieg said. But just days after the announcement, Buttigieg was heckled in Iowa by two antigay protesters, who invoked the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that the Bible says were destroyed due to sins like sodomy. “The good news is the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, but the Iowa caucuses are up to you,” Buttigieg said in response. Much of Buttigieg’s campaign announcement was deeply personal. He told the story of his immigrant father who died last year after a battle with cancer, his mother who needed heart surgery as well as his personal story of accepting his sexual orientation.


Buttigieg referenced the struggles of his youth — in terms of his sexual orientation and intellectual curiosity — when he said the only time he’d go back to the past was 20 years ago to allay the fears of his youthful self. The candidate said he would tell his younger self he’d be “all right” and “one rainy April day, before he even turns 40, he’ll wake up to headlines about whether he’s rising too quickly as he becomes a top-tier contender for the American presidency, and to tell him that on that day he announces his campaign for president, he’ll do it with his husband looking on.” Prior to his speech, campaign staffers warmed up the crowd at the rally with a chant holding up three separate signs guiding attendees in saying Buttigieg’s often mispronounced name: “Boot-Edge-Edge.” Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton, Ohio, praised Buttigieg during the rally in a speech explaining her support for her fellow mayor. “He’s someone who’s both a great friend to me, someone who is a compassionate leader for everyday people who have elected him to office, he is the smartest person I know and he is deeply committed to serving our country,” Whaley said. Whaley concluded with a zinger about the current occupant of the White House that generated significant applause from attendees. “Folks, in short, he’s the polar opposite in every way to Donald Trump,” Whaley said. Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, was in South Bend for the

announcement and said in a statement Buttigieg “shattered a lavender ceiling once thought unbreakable, becoming the first openly LGBTQ Democratic presidential candidate in American history and our first real shot at the Oval Office.” “There is enormous power in an openly gay presidential candidate stumping at town halls in Iowa and speaking to Americans from the presidential debate stage – it changes perceptions of our community and raises the bar for candidates who seek LGBTQ support,” Parker said. A Victory Fund spokesperson said the organization has not yet endorsed the candidate, but “we recognize the power of this moment for our community and have been working with his team quite closely.” The newly official candidate — who was largely unknown when he started exploring a presidential run at the start of the year — has enjoyed a boost in the polls. Dazzling many supporters with his demeanor and skill at answering questions, Buttigieg also has a captivating personal story as an openly gay mayor, Harvard graduate, Rhodes scholar and Afghanistan war veteran. A Monmouth University poll published last week found Buttigieg in third place in Iowa with nine percent support behind Joseph Biden and Bernie Sanders, who polled at 27 percent and 16 percent respectively. Following Buttigieg were Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker. In New Hampshire, Buttigieg is also running in third place. Biden had 23 percent support and Sanders had 16 percent, but Buttigieg followed at 11 percent support. Parker said Buttigieg’s “meteoric rise is most notable for the support he’s receiving from diverse groups of voters.” “There are enormous minefields and hurdles to running as an openly LGBTQ candidate, and so far, Mayor Pete has gracefully leapt over them on the world’s largest political stage,” Parker said. “He’s the real deal.” After Buttigieg concluded his speech, his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, joined him on the stage, where the two embraced as the crowd cheered — but not before the candidate offered encouraging words to his audience. “If you and I rise together to meet this moment, one day they will write histories, not just about one campaign or one presidency but about the era that began here today in this building where past, present, and future meet, right here this chilly day in South Bend,” Buttigieg said.

Gay former ambassador to run for Senate

Gay U.S. ambassador DANIEL BAER is running for U.S. Senate in Colorado. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

A gay foreign policy expert who worked in the Obama administration on international LGBT issues has declared his intention to run for U.S. Senate in Colorado. Daniel Baer, who’s 42 and a former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe, announced his candidacy Tuesday in an email blast referencing his spouse, Brian Walsh. “Like many of you, Brian and I are dismayed by the chaos unfolding in Washington under this president,” Baer said. “But we’ve also realized that the best way to find hope and optimism is by putting ourselves on the line, taking risks for the values we believe in, and fighting for the country we want.” If Baer succeeds, he’d become the first openly gay man elected to the U.S. Senate and would join Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first out lesbian elected to the Senate, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the first openly bisexual person elected to the Senate. One of seven openly gay ambassadors in the Obama administration, Baer as U.S. ambassador to OSCE was charged with deescalating tensions in Europe during the Ukraine crisis in 2014. Previously, Baer served as deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor under Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state. Baer worked on international LGBT issues, including the integration of LGBT human rights abuses in the State Department’s annual human rights report. In a campaign video announcement titled “Driving Change,” Baer touts his foreign policy experience at OSCE as well as his relationship with his spouse. It’s not the first time Baer has pursued a run for Congress. In 2017, Baer launched a campaign to run for a U.S. House seat representing Colorado’s 7th congressional district. But Baer later dropped that bid after incumbent Rep. Ed. Perlmutter (D-Colo.) changed his mind and decided to keep the seat he said he’d vacate. By seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, Baer is potentially challenging Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), one of the most vulnerable senators up for election in 2020. According to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Gardner is currently polling eight points behind a generic Democrat on the ballot. In an interview with the Denver Post, Baer touted his foreign policy experience in explaining why he’d be superior to the sitting Republican incumbent. “Cory Gardner sits on the Foreign Relations Committee,” Baer said. “I think one of the things I offer as a candidate going up against him is that I can go toeto-toe with Cory Gardner on foreign policy issues.” But Baer is one of seven Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to run against Gardner and it remains to be seen if Baer will claim victory. The filing deadline and primary for Colorado aren’t yet scheduled. CHRIS JOHNSON

Court won’t undo death penalty for inmate alleging anti-gay bias The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday it won’t hear a case contesting the death penalty of a gay man in South Dakota despite evidence suggesting the jury invoked the punishment based on his sexual orientation. Without explanation, the Supreme Court announced in an order list it wouldn’t hear the petition filed by a public defender in February on behalf of Charles Rhines, who’s been on death row for 22 years and sought to have his penalty reviewed. The order list reflects decisions justices made at a conference on a previous Friday. It takes a vote of at least four justices to agree to grant a writ of certiorari, or take up a petition, but that vote isn’t made public. Among the groups that filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to take up Rhines’ case to reverse his penalty was the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. Daniel Harawa, assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, said in a statement the refusal to hear the case “defies constitutional protections and breaks with Supreme Court precedent.” “Bias of any kind has no place in the jury box, especially in a death penalty case where the Eighth Amendment’s protections against the arbitrary imposition of a capital sentence is implicated,” Harawa said. According to briefs filed before the Supreme Court, jurors in Rhines’ case signed an affidavit suggesting anti-gay stereotypes and biases played out in deliberations. One juror recalled during deliberations “lots of discussion of homosexuality” and “a lot of disgust.” CHRIS JOHNSON

Morehouse College to admit trans men in 2020 Morehouse College, the only all-male historically black college in the United States, will admit students who identify as transgender men starting in 2020. The policy was approved by the board of trustees last week. “In a rapidly changing world that includes a better understanding of gender identity, we’re proud to expand our admissions policy to consider trans men who want to be part of an institution that has produced some of the greatest leaders in social justice, politics, business, and the arts for more than 150 years,” Terrance Dixon, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Morehouse, said in a statement. “The ratification of this policy affirms the College’s commitment to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service.” The school’s press release details the new policy, which requires that transgender students identify as men while attending Morehouse. Transgender women will not be considered for admission. Students who transition from male to female will also not be allowed to matriculate from the university but students will have the option to appeal to a committee. Morehouse College is the only all-male college with a transgender student policy. Tuskegee University, Howard University, Florida A&M University, Southern University, North Carolina Central University, Morgan State University and Spelman College are also HBCUs with transgender policies. Spelman College, a women’s college near Morehouse College in Atlanta, began admitting transgender women for the 20182019 school year. According to the policy, transgender men will not be admitted. Students who are already enrolled at the school and transition from female to male are allowed to matriculate at the college. MARIAH COOPER

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ICE falsified documents against trans detainee: lawyer Alejandra Barrera faces possible deportation By KAREN OCAMB


Photo courtesy TransLatin@ Coalition

The whole world is watching as President Donald Trump decimates the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including removing Ronald Vitiello, a former Border Patrol official who has been the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since June. Trump wants to go in a “tougher direction.” Asked by White House reporters last week if he might put immigration hardliner Stephen Miller in charge of the sizable department, Trump said that while Miller is “a brilliant man…frankly, there’s only one person that’s running [DHS]. You know who that is? It’s me.” It is highly unlikely that Trump or Miller or any of the departing DHS staffers know or care about how tough life already is for trans asylum seeker Alejandra Barrera who fled violence in El Salvador and now faces deportation after 16 months in Cibola County Correctional Center, ICE’s forprofit contracted detention center in Milan, New Mexico. Authorities failed to give her medical treatment for what has since become a serious condition. Cibola became the only detention facility in the country for trans women after the city of Santa Ana, Calif., ended its contract with ICE in May 2017 and closed its specific GBT Pod. “I think that the whole asylum rules, laws, and regulations have been taken advantage of by people that are very bad people, in many cases,” Trump said last week. “These are the people running the

cartels. They’re gaming the system; they have been for years. The only difference is our economy is now so strong that more people come up.” Seeking asylum is a human right under international law for refugees fleeing torture and violence. But the flagrant refusal to recognize asylum rules, laws, and regulations has resulted in the deaths of 22 immigrants in ICE detention centers over the two years since Trump’s been in power, according to an NBC News investigation, revealing a system “long riddled with problems. Within the last year, the DHS Office of Inspector General has issued three reports finding poor treatment and spotty oversight in ICE facilities.” The NBC analysis does not include the deaths of two Guatemalan children in CBP custody in December nor the March death of a 20-month-old girl, Mariee Juárez, nearly two months after she and her mother were detained in Texas. NBC notes that “ICE has said deaths in detention are ‘exceedingly rare,’ involving a fraction of those detained by the agency.” The death of Roxsana Hernández , a 33-year old HIV-positive trans woman from Honduras exposed the particular suffering endured by transgender asylum seekers. An independent autopsy revealed she died of dehydration and AIDS complications after 16 days in Cibola—and she appeared to have been physically abused before her death in May 2018. Though there is no data for LGBT


people specifically, a 2015 survey gives some clue about what Roxsana was trying to escape. The survey ranks Honduras as one of the five deadliest countries in the world for women. Official government statistics reported 380 Honduran women murdered last year, according to a story in the April 5 Sunday Review of the New York Times – not counting number of women who have “disappeared,” which continues to rise. “Unlike in much of the world, where most murdered women are killed by their husbands, partners or family members, half in Honduras are killed by drug cartels and gangs. And the ways they are being killed — shot in the vagina, cut to bits with their parts distributed among various public places, strangled in front of their children, skinned alive — have women running for the border,” The Times reports. Alejandra Barrera fled El Salvador, also one of the five deadliest countries for women, after being pursued by government officials for being a trans activist and by gangs for simply being alive. She followed all the byzantine procedures laid out for asylum seekers, only to be locked up in Cibola detention center, with ICE refusing her medical care or release while her asylum requests are on appeal, a standard procedure. Now, with four requests denied, Alejandra faces deportation. But the denials are all based on fabricated documents, Alejandra’s attorney Rebekah Wolf from Equal Justice

Works tells the Blade, blatantly featuring a signature from an ICE official who was not in that position when the document was dated, as well as other “falsified” information. Alejandra is growing so weak from illness and so weary from the constant battle against cruelty, she’s close to giving up, Wolf says. Wolf is desperately trying to catch the attention of a compassionate lawmaker who can stop the deportation process so Alejandra can get a fair, unbiased asylum hearing and review her evidence that “ICE falsified parole documents in her case.” Alejandra, 44, was an activist, educator and a campaigner for trans and LGBT communities and for people with HIV in El Salvador, Wolf says. She also lived through the El Salvadoran civil war (1979-1992) and “had been targeted a number of different times by the El Salvadoran military at checkpoints who terribly abused her.” So Alejandra escaped with her trans niece, Zulay. They fled through Mexico, where she endured threats and abuse from gangs, which she attempted to report. They arrived at the U.S. border in November of 2017, entered legally through a Port of Entry, but they were detained immediately and transferred to Cibola, some of the first trans women detained there. At the time, the El Paso field office was denying parole to everyone in the El Paso district. “Parole is release under ICE conditions and the regulations that state that once you get what’s called a positive CFI, meaning you’ve got a positive, credible fear of determination, you should be released on parole unless the government can demonstrate that you are a flight risk or a danger to the community,” says Wolf. “What happened shortly after Trump came into office and started rearranging DHS was that there were certain districts around the country that clearly just had a blanket parole denial rule — an unwritten rule that they were denying everybody parole,” she says, noting there is an ACLU lawsuit currently pending about the issue. Alejandra should have been released after maximum two months of detention. “She got a positive, credible fear determination,” Wolf says. “We requested parole five times. In the beginning they just told her there is no parole. So, she and Zulay both have their hearings and Zulay was granted asylum and has been out now for a year. Alejandra was denied.” For updates on Alejandra’s plight, visit washingtonblade.com.

Blade contributor seeks asylum in U.S. González fleeing persecution in Cuba By MICHAEL K. LAVERS

YARIEL VALDÉS GONZÁLEZ photographs a portion of the fence that marks the Mexico-U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan. 26. Valdés, who is from Cuba, is seeking asylum in the U.S. on grounds that he suffered persecution in his homeland because he is a journalist. Valdés is currently in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Mississippi. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers

A Washington Blade contributor has asked for asylum in the U.S. based on the persecution that he said he suffered in his native Cuba because he is a journalist. Yariel Valdés González legally entered the U.S. on March 27 through the Calexico West Port of Entry between Calexico, Calif., and Mexicali, Mexico. Valdés is currently in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Tallahatchee County Correctional Facility, a privately run prison in Tutwiler, Miss. Valdés told the Blade last week during a telephone call from Mississippi that he had his “credible fear interview” on March 30 while he was at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility, another privately run prison in California’s Imperial Valley. A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer conducts the “credible fear interview” to determine whether an asylum seeker’s claim is valid. Valdés told the Blade he does not know when ICE will release him to the custody of his aunt and uncle who live in Miami. Valdés also said the conditions at the Tallahatchee County Correctional Facility are “not very good,” specifically noting the food is “bad.” Valdés, 28, is from Cuba’s Villa Clara

province. He graduated from Universidad Central Marta Abreu de las Villas in 2014 with a degree in journalism. Valdés in a letter that outlines the reasons for which he is requesting asylum says he worked for Vanguardia, a newspaper published by the Cuban Communist Party in Villa Clara, for two years while he was earning his degree. Valdés writes he began to contribute to independent media outlets in 2015. Valdés writes he signed a letter against the “censorship and harassment” of independent media outlets in 2016. He says the Cuban Communist Party began to harass him and his “life became hell.” Valdés also writes current President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who was the county’s vice president at the time, became aware of the situation and went to Villa Clara “to discuss with the newspaper’s directors how to control that public demonstration by some journalists who questioned the authority of the Cuban government.” Valdés in his letter says Vanguardia launched an investigation against him and one of his colleagues “based on a complaint filed by two institutions, which, without foundation, alleged that we had deceived them to obtain statements for

these independent media.” Valdés writes he was docked a month’s pay and was left “without work.” “The accusations and the upcoming sanction were the pretext to exercise their control over me and (make an example of me to) the rest of the journalists,” he says. Valdés writes the Union of Young Communists, a branch of the Cuban Communist Party that publishes the Juventud Rebelde newspaper, later expelled him. Valdés says he was also fired from the state-run radio and television stations for which he had been an announcer. “A few months after I left the newspaper, they closed my contract on the radio and on television because I was no longer a ‘reliable’ person to sit in front of a microphone or in front of a camera and be a voice or face of the revolution,” he writes. Valdés writes he continued to contribute to independent media outlets in Cuba. These include Tremenda Nota, an independent online magazine that is the Blade’s media partner on the Communist island. Valdés writes the Cuban government in August 2018 summoned him to a meeting after a university in Colombia and the International Center for Journalists in D.C.

invited him to participate in a program for Cuban journalists. “These ‘meetings’, which are no more than harsh interrogations, is another strategy to pressure and psychologically attack reporters,” he says. “The meeting was full of intimidations and threats, which reached the point of compromising my freedom in Cuba.” Valdés writes he soon realized Cuban officials had prevented him from leaving the country, which he describes as a “macabre mechanism to prevent, at all costs, my departure to Colombia.” Valdés says he asked authorities to “evaluate my situation” with the assistance of Maykel González Vivero, publisher of Tremenda Nota, and several of his colleagues. Valdés writes the Cuban government allowed him to leave the country because he said he was going to visit his father who has lived in Mexico for more than eight years. Valdés writes he traveled to Colombia and completed the program for Cuban journalists. He arrived in Mexico last fall and soon began to contribute to the Blade. Reporters Without Borders notes Cuba is ranked 172 out of 180 countries on its 2018 World Press Freedom Index. Freedom House in a 2017 report notes Cuba “has the most repressive media environment in the Americas.” The Cuban government on Feb. 23 blocked access to Tremenda Nota’s website on the island. The State Department in its 2018 human rights report notes, the Cuban government “does not recognize independent journalism, and independent journalists sometimes face government harassment, including detention and physical abuse.” “State security, as a last resort of control over me, keeps my colleagues, as well as my family, under surveillance,” writes Valdés in his letter, noting an email he received from Cuba that said authorities are harassing his relatives because of his work as a journalist. “If I return to the island, I fear that they will initiate a process that deprives me of my elementary rights as a human right because in Cuba, in the name of national security, atrocities are committed and the established laws are shamelessly violated,” he adds. Valdés ends his letter by saying there is no freedom of expression or press in Cuba. “Those of us who choose the path of truth and serious journalism without concessions are punished as vulgar criminals,” he says. Editor’s note: Yariel Valdés González has given the Blade permission to report on his asylum case.

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Reforms hamper HIV med distribution in Mexico

Trans activists denounce mental health assessments

MEXICO CITY — Thousands of Mexicans living with HIV or at risk of infection could be left without life-saving services after the government changed the way it funds treatment, according to public health experts and LGBT rights advocates, Reuters reports. Reforms announced last month to centralize drug procurement risk sparking shortages, they say, while the government counters that it has ample supplies and hopes its changes will save money and cut corruption in the drugs chain, Reuters reports. “There is a crisis,” Ricardo Baruch, a public health expert and LGBT rights advocate, told Reuters. “Suddenly everything has happened together.” In February, the government also said that it would no longer fund civil society organizations, leaving more than 200 groups fighting the disease without resources for core activities, such as HIV testing, Reuters reports. Baruch said the knot of changes had created a perfect storm that would hurt marginalized HIV-positive people the most, Reuters reports. “You’re going to see a lot of people like sex workers, drug users and gay men left without basic services for prevention and detection,” Baruch told Reuters. “In Mexico, there aren’t many other sources of funding.” For many living with HIV in Mexico City, the struggle is emblematic of a more serious public health issue following the reforms of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Lopez Obrador took office in December and announced a clutch of reforms, some of which could have a serious impact on patients living with HIV, Reuters reports. Along with halting funding for some NGOs, the administration changed the way it buys medicines in bulk from drug companies. In previous years, the National Centre for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (Censida), had been in charge of purchasing all HIV medicines for patients who depend on the country’s “Popular Insurance” health program, Reuters reports. The agency provides universal access to antiretroviral therapy via the public health system, and currently treats more than 95,000 people living with HIV, Reuters reports. But in March, the administration said the Finance Ministry would now be in charge of overseeing its drug buying. In a statement sent to government HIV clinics last week and obtained by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Censida said that due to these changes, “purchase processes have suffered delays.”

MONTREAL — Doctors should ditch the requirement for a mental health assessment of transgender teens and adults before prescribing them hormone treatment, argues an activist and bioethicist, drawing on their own personal experience in the Journal of Medical Ethics, MedicalXPress reports. The practice is dehumanizing, unjustified and turns the process of transformation into the treatment of a mental illness, says Florence Ashley of McGill University, Montreal, Canada. It should instead be replaced with informed consent, which respects a patient’s lived experience and autonomy, they insist, MedicalXPress reports. The informed consent approach is becoming more common, they acknowledge. But many doctors still require an assessment and referral letter from a mental health professional in compliance with the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care, MedicalXPress reports. The author says that their decision to take hormones was not made in haste, and they had socially transitioned months before opting for hormone treatment. Their university health clinic had adopted informed consent for transgender care, which allowed them to get a prescription for hormones without a referral letter, MedicalXPress reports. But “many others are not so lucky,” they point out, adding that their own luck ran out when they had to get two referral letters for genital surgery. The assessment of gender dysphoria — discomfort or distress caused by the mismatch between a person’s gender identity and his/her sex assigned at birth — left them “feeling exposed, naked and dehumanized,” because it was viewed as a mental flaw that needed fixing, MedicalXPress reports. “Referral requirements for [hormone treatment] treat self-reports of gender dysphoria not as one would treat reports of normal mental experiences, but as one would treat reports of mental illnesses,” they write. By requiring a mental health assessment instead of taking the transgender person’s word, doctors “deny the authority trans people have over their own mental health experiences,” they say. “As being transgender is not a mental illness, treating gender dysphoria in this way is pathologizing and, because it pathologizes normal human variance, dehumanizing.”


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(@briangaither) is the Treasurer of the Maryland LGBT PAC and a Co-Founder of the Pride Foundation of Maryland.


is a resident of Falls Church, Va., and author of ‘Extraordinary Hearts: Reclaiming the Central Role of Gay Sensibility in the Progress of Civilization.’



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


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



is a resident of Falls Church, Va., and author of ‘Extraordinary Hearts: Reclaiming the Central Role of Gay Sensibility in the Progress of Civilization.’

(@briangaither) is the Treasurer of the Maryland LGBT PAC and a Co-Founder of the Pride Foundation of Maryland.

How we talk about Mayor Pete matters Gay identity should not shield candidacy from critical evaluation Have you heard about Pete Buttigieg? He’s gay. He’s the Mayor of South Bend. He went to Harvard. He’s a Rhodes Scholar. He worked at McKinsey. He’s a veteran. He speaks Norwegian. He came out and won re-election. He was on “The View.” He was on CNN. He was on MSNBC. He was on Ellen. He raised $7 million (that’s more than Gillibrand). He’s surging in the polls in Iowa. It’s “BOOT-edge-edge.” That’s how you say it. Just call him Mayor Pete. He’s amazing. He’s super smart. His husband is adorable. They met on Hinge. It’s not like Grindr. And it’s totally official now; he’s running for president. So, let’s all talk about Mayor Pete. We’ve come to the point where an openly gay man is being seriously considered as a candidate for president of the United States. Pete Buttigieg’s campaign is not only historic for the nation, but it’s also an event of great importance for the LGBTQ community. Whatever its final outcome, this campaign is going to influence our current and future efforts to achieve full equality. For many people, Pete’s candidacy itself is a symbol of our progress. He’s a married gay veteran who began his public life when it was not legal for him to openly serve in the military or marry another man. He represents the long struggle to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act. His visibility before millions of people in the media is inherently a reflection and celebration of our social acceptance. Simply being an openly gay candidate on the national stage is the most important aspect of his campaign. For others , he’s overly heteronormative and curates his gay identity in order to satisfy a liberal appetite for diversity. He hasn’t actively contributed to the struggles that enabled his run for presidency; nor does he adequately demonstrate empathy for the most marginalized segments of the LGBTQ community. When and how he came out of the closet matters, more so since his gay identity is the reason for his prominence among media tastemakers in a crowded

field of highly qualified competitors. Either way, a frank and ongoing discussion of this candidacy is necessary. As a community we express ourselves publicly in many ways, and our current political ambitions are far from monolithic. We cannot be defined by a single candidate. In order to represent the range of LGBTQ people, we have to have a conversation that includes all LGBTQ voices. We have to talk about what Mayor Pete means to all of us, not just some of us. At the same time, this discussion is our opportunity to highlight the persistence of bigotry and discrimination. When Mayor Pete mentions a mythical “straight pill,” we need to reinforce the fact that parents in 34 states can subject LGBTQ children to harmful “conversion therapy.” When he details his coming out, we need to emphasize that LGBTQ people who can’t or won’t “pass” can still be fired in 27 states. And when he reminds us that he has more military experience than any President since George H.W. Bush, we must denounce the naked bigotry in the sitting president’s ban on trans service members. Perhaps most importantly, we need to be credible arbiters of LGBTQ identity on behalf of American voters. Only we have the expertise to explain how the campaign’s deployment of Buttigieg’s gay identity speaks to his character; and only we can judge this. Only we can fairly examine his political courage and integrity on LGBTQ issues. And we need to discuss all of it in order to help the country decide if he’s the best candidate to lead the country. The evolution of the Buttigieg campaign is of consequence to each one of us. Those who want to celebrate Buttigieg, the man or the candidate, should do so. But it’s not our universal obligation to allow his gay identity to shield his candidacy from a critical evaluation. Nor is it in our best interest. So let’s talk about Mayor Pete. Let’s amplify our voices in the national media at this moment when the candidacy of an openly gay man has put them at the center of all American life.

Mayor Pete speaks our language He’s one of us and we should support the 2020 hopeful Clearly, the flavor of the week, or the month, or the season, in the U.S. presidential sweepstakes is an openly gay, 37-year-old mayor of a midsized Midwestern city. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is on a big roll right now. The young Harvard grad has given every evidence of being the “real deal,” an unusually articulate, principled progressive who focuses on morality and values. He has challenged the religious right, including Trump supporters, for its hypocrisy for looking the other way in the face of Trump’s brazen and unapologetic sexual transgressions. He has challenged the religious left, where he places himself, to rise to the occasion of these times, to counter the hijacking of the religious dialogue by the right wing, and play a stronger role in the American political process. The fact that Mayor Pete is gay is almost an afterthought with many, including on “Meet the Press” where Chuck Todd barely brought it up amid an array of other issues he bounced off the candidate. Yes, in an ideal world, the matter of a candidate’s sexual orientation should probably be a non-starter, but, friends, we are far from there yet. I became convinced of this witnessing Mayor Pete’s remarkably candid and authentic remarks to the Victory Fund brunch in D.C. recently, where he spoke before a sell-out crowd of maybe 1,000 almost all LGBT people. Yes, there were generous elements of a “boilerplate” campaign stump speech in his remarks. But then there was the more personal stuff, the stuff relating to his struggles as a gay person, about the closet, about the fear, the pain, the selfdoubt, the personal challenges, and how he’s gotten to where he is today. It all had a ring of authenticity in a way that no not-gay person could emulate. I’m sure there are plenty of places where people can read the whole speech

online, or watch the video, so I’m limiting my comments to a main conclusion, namely, that LGBT people should be supporting this man because he speaks our language. He speaks it from his inside. Yes, there is such a thing as “our LGBT language,” although there are plenty of debates about such subjects these days. The assimilation of “our tribe” into the dominant culture is a very big problem, in my view. It doesn’t mean that we have to be off-the-wall and totally bizarro. But we are who we are, and we bring to one another shared experiences of being LGBT that straight people, no matter how sympathetic or empathetic, share. It’s not their fault, they simply can’t know. I really hope the startling and precipitous decline of LGBT social places in our culture, as imperfect as the bars and clubs are and have been, will begin to be reversed. I get it that the “new normal” economy has hit our people, and many lower income groups, particularly hard the last decade. There are more and more ways to economize and spending money at clubs is simply not as likely to happen as it once was. Then there is the anti-social role of the Internet. But it is not an answer to say that, for social places, simply merging into straight environments is the solution. LGBT people need to be themselves, unfiltered, and that means being outrageous at times in our own unique and beautiful ways that we understand and appreciate among ourselves. OK, well, when it comes to Mayor Pete, what’s important about him to me is that he “gets” this sort of thing. He’s gay! We have a shared institutional and emotional history. He might not wind up being whom I support when my paltry sums of money and my voice are called to make a final choice for president. But in the meantime, Mayor Pete deserves and needs our community’s support, and we need his.

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

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

Bernie Sanders Would you like a destroying Democrats’ wedge with that? Unlikely Trumpsters seek to divide progressives chances in 2020 Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a new version of his Medicare-for-All bill, which he and everyone else knows is going nowhere. This year’s version has even fewer co-sponsors than the one he introduced in 2017. What is frustrating is 2019 is the lead up to the presidential primaries and the far-left of the Democratic Party is pushing candidates to jump on the bandwagon with bills like this threatening them with withholding support if they don’t. So a number of the senators running have become co-sponsors of a bill they know is dead on arrival including Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker. Since co-sponsoring they all seem to be backing off in more nuanced statements. There is an alternative that Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar and others like Pete Buttigieg are closer to supporting called Medicare for America. It shares the long-term goal of universal healthcare but starts with a public option for all those currently uninsured to enter Medicare and doesn’t force those happy with their current plan into it. The goal is to make the public option attractive enough over time for people to voluntarily move toward it. Pandering to Sanders is wrong and misreads the general electorate. The Sanders bill ends private insurance in four years without any clear way to pay for a public plan. Today nearly 60% of Americans are covered by employee insurance plans. Medicare is a plan for seniors covered by taxes people pay throughout their careers; even then it isn’t free. People pay for it after age 65 and it covers only 80% of their healthcare costs. To cover the rest they must purchase additional insurance from a private insurer. They also pay extra to cover drugs and Medicare doesn’t cover dental or vision insurance, which many have through their employer. Add to that estimates it will eliminate up to 1.5 million well-paid jobs in the insurance industry and Sanders has no adequate answer on how to replace them. There is a plan to fix the Affordable Care Act proposed by Democrats in the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, who understands if we force Republicans to vote on a series of these bills they get into trouble with the electorate when they don’t support them. The first three

coming to fruition include: Expanding the tax credits available under the law, both reducing costs for lower-income families and expanding eligibility so middle-class Americans can receive federal assistance; creating a national reinsurance program to offset high medical bills for insurers and thereby keep premium increases in check; and rolling back Trump actions expanding skimpier health insurance plans that gave states the freedom to undermine the law’s benefits requirements and reducing enrollment outreach funding. Passing these and others ensuring people with pre-existing conditions can get affordable healthcare insurance; reducing drug prices; and making sure they can keep their children on their plan until the age of 26 is a much better plan than campaigning on the Sanders bill, which everyone knows will not pass anytime in the foreseeable future. Democrats doing what the Speaker has proposed will keep the pressure on Republicans in one area that helped them win the House in 2018. Even if these bills don’t pass the Senate they make it clear to Americans what they will get if they give control of government back to Democrats. Don’t misunderstand me. I am for Universal Healthcare and a single payer system. But the reality is everyone knows that won’t pass at this time. Proposing and campaigning on something that threatens taking away private insurance from nearly 200 million Americans without any real plan to pass a replacement hands Republicans and Trump an issue that they will easily exploit. Some call it a bold move, I call it a dumb move. What Democrats should avoid doing is what Republicans did in 2016 when they promised to rescind and replace the ACA and found out they couldn’t agree among themselves on how to do it. That is what a focus on Sanders’ bill by the electorate would end up like if Democrats take back the government. There is no agreement among Democrats today to pass such a bill made clear by the meager 14 co-sponsors on Sanders’ bill. Let’s be bold but if we are to win in 2020 we can’t be so bold we get ahead of the voters and lose their support. Sanders has thus far opposed the House leadership plan to fix the ACA. Democrats cannot allow him to once again take us down a garden path and sabotage our chances leading to defeat in 2020.

Our ever-projecting president, being (as he fancies) a law unto himself, has declared himself exonerated and his opponents treasonous. To deflect attention, he gets his personal consigliere (a.k.a. Attorney General Barr) to assert that the previous administration spied on his campaign, when in fact his operatives showed up on surveillance tapes only because they were consorting with Russia, a top American adversary. Trump promises a pardon to the head of Customs and Border Protection if he is jailed for violating immigration law. He laments that border guards cannot get “rough” with migrants, whom he considers subhuman. Rather than work with the existing network of nonprofits for the placement of asylum seekers, he wants to weaponize the latter against sanctuary cities. Meanwhile, Trump ally Franklin Graham, chummy with Putin’s Russia because of its anti-gay zeal and authoritarianism, feels duty-bound to impose his faith dictates on the rest of us in the name of—get this— religious freedom, while Trump all but encourages Bibi Netanyahu to annex the West Bank, which is doubtless the fault of a liberal Muslim congresswoman from Minnesota. Welcome to Holy Week. But you knew all that. Allow me to fill you in on something that may have flown under your radar. If “hashtag movement” sounds like an oxymoron, consider the strange circumstance that, even as I write, one such social media creation is on the verge of getting a black media figure fired. My friend Rev. Mark Thompson, morning drive host at SiriusXM Progress and a frequent MSNBC commentator, was suspended on April 9 after defending himself when accosted in Newark by professional provocateur Thomas “Afrika” Ibiang. The hashtag movement #ADOS, which stands for American Descendants Of Slaves and has been attacking Thompson for months, is defending Ibiang and exploiting the incident to get Thompson fired. ADOS, like Thompson, supports reparations, but from a very different angle. Co-founder Yvette Carnell, as musician and social activist Talib Kweli Greene writes, “has videos titled ‘Why Is Everyone So Afraid of Steve Bannon’ and ‘Trump Is Right About Black Poverty.’ ... She has tweets ...

about how Trump is correct about birthright citizenship. She uses her Twitter account to push anti-immigration propaganda, and she uses Nazi slogans like ‘blood and soil.’” Carnell is also a board member of white nationalist think tank PFIR. If all of this sounds bizarre, I feel you. Just understand that Carnell is deliberately driving a wedge between descendants of slaves and other black Americans. Thus Sen. Kamala Harris, of Indian and Jamaican heritage, has her authenticity questioned. But the malign fruits of four centuries of American racism hit all black people regardless of how or when their ancestors got here. One more eccentric fissure in the progressive ranks would mean little by itself. Bruce A. Dixon of Black Agenda Report calls ADOS “a shrunken, shrill, shriveled and tribal version of reparationist politics.” But ADOS is not progressive; and remember that Twitter was used in the 2016 election to confuse and divide. ADOS targets include Joy Ann Reid, TaNehisi Coates, Roland Martin, Malcolm Nance, and Rev. William Barber. If Thompson is purged on such a thin basis, it will encourage further mischief. Mark and I were brought together by coalition politics. I served on the NAACP-DC Metropolitan Police and Criminal Justice Review Task Force that he set up in 1997, which won restoration of independent police review in the District of Columbia. Mark began broadcasting in 1988 under Radio One founder Cathy Hughes. He supports LGBT equality. I have been a regular guest on his show Make It Plain (SXM’s first talk show) since the 2000s. His extensive movement credentials include emceeing the Million Man March and the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration in Selma, Ala. He is a progressive bridge builder. ADOS, contrastingly, builds bridges to white supremacists. Mark was targeted in part for joining critics of SXM’s December 2017 decision to hire former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon as a host, which was rescinded a month later. Why would the black activists of ADOS defend the likes of Bannon and Trump? As we are warned in Matthew Chapter 7 about false prophets, “Know them by their fruits.” Copyright © 2019 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

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Marijuana intersections

Overlap of gay, cannabis advocacy efforts goes back to ‘80s in California KHADIJAH TRIBBLE says the history of marijuana legalization has deep overlap with queer people. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

Marijuana legalization is often seen as a criminal justice issue. In 2017 alone, more than 600,000 people were arrested on marijuana violations and advocates across the country are pushing for its decriminalization to reduce arrest rates. But many say the legalization of pot is also an LGBT issue. Not only are LGBT people more likely to use marijuana, but the initial push for medical marijuana legalization in the U.S. started in response to the AIDS epidemic. Khadijah Tribble, an HIV and cannabis activist who studied marijuana policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and now leads a social enterprise organization called Marijuana Matters, says she saw an intersection between the LGBTQ community, the HIV epidemic and marijuana legalization in her research. “The LGBTQ community out in California were the first main activists pushing for medicinal marijuana laws,” Tribble says. This push came in the early 1990s, says Paul Scott, a longtime marijuana and HIV activist and current president of the Los Angeles Black Gay Pride Association. Scott lived in San Francisco in 1994. “The AIDS crisis was so damaging at the time,” he remembers. But the northern Californian city was “progressive” in addressing it. “Marijuana was just part of the treatment,” Scott says. “It helped alleviate

some of the symptoms of AIDS and the horrible cocktails they put them on initially, which were almost proving as deadly as the virus was.” According to Scott, “a guy named Dennis Peron worked with City Hall, got the District Attorney of San Francisco involved, and got the ball rolling.” Peron, whose partner Jonathan West died of AIDS in 1990, sold weed in The Castro to men with HIV. In 1991, he gathered support for Proposition P in San Francisco. The resolution, which passed with 79 percent of the vote, demanded the state government allow marijuana for medicinal use. Peron went on to start the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club and in 1996, co-authored California Proposition 215. The proposition, which passed and remains in place today, permits the use of medical marijuana in the state. “We had all these other diseases that marijuana helps for. But it wasn’t until the visual effect of young white men dying in the hospitals with AIDS that it shook the conscience of America and began to change the law,” Scott says. “It wasn’t because of black folks getting arrested. It wasn’t because it was the right thing to do. For the first time, this country saw young white men dying and sprung into action to do something.” More than 20 years after 1996, Scott and Tribble both believe marijuana legalization remains an LGBT issue today. “For me, marijuana matters in the


LGBTQ community because it always has,” Tribble says. “It’s still an LGBT issue because it’s still not accessible to everybody everywhere,” Scott says. “HIV/AIDS is still high in black populations in the South. And they can’t get pot. They still have to break laws. So absolutely it is.” Tribble also says the criminalization of marijuana disproportionately affects some LGBTQ people. “Any prohibition on civil liberties tends to impact marginalized communities the most,” she says. “When you have identities that have been systematically discriminated — your gender, your sexuality — you are primed to be more marginalized by marijuana laws. If you are a cisgender white male, you are the least likely to be stopped for marijuana. If you are a person of color who is trans, you are more likely to be stopped, more likely to do time and the time will be longer.” The sale of marijuana remains illegal in D.C., but private use is no longer outlawed. However, in some states, such as California, Colorado, Maine and others, selling weed is now legal. As the number of these states rises, some hope marijuana will bring new business opportunities for LGBT people. “I am an LGBT-owned business in the cannabis community,” Tribble says. “Because LGBT people have been marginalized in the prohibition, LGBT

communities should be privileged when we talk about access to employment, access to entrepreneurship opportunities.” Amber Senter is the co-founder and executive director of Supernova Women, a group of women of color in the cannabis industry. She also hopes marijuana legalization will increase LGBT business ownership but worries the reality may look different. “When cannabis started out, it was for people who weren’t seen as normal in society,” Senter, who’s queer, says. “So in the beginning, you had a lot of obviously LGBT people.” “Now with everything moving toward being corporate, they’re pushing everyone who was in it before out,” she says. “There will be more opportunities overall, so there will be more opportunities for LGBT people. But at the same time, the culture is not the same.” Scott holds a similar opinion on the issue. He got into the marijuana business early, starting the second cannabis club in the U.S. He then decided to open another in a primarily black area of Los Angeles when he moved to the city. “I want to say yes,” Scott says on whether legalization will bring more opportunities for LGBT people. “I think there’s a small window. I think I was lucky enough to create that window. But I’m being pragmatic here and once it becomes legal, it’s competitive. And if you don’t have the money, you won’t have the business.”

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D.C. medical marijuana program ‘getting better’ Some say delays in patient approval encouraged street purchases PATRICIA HAWKINS said city delays in approving a patient’s application for a medical card needed to buy medical marijuana have prompted some patients to resort to buying the marijuana on the street. Washington Blade photo by Pete Exis

Although D.C. legalized the production and sale of marijuana for medical purposes just over 20 years ago, activists familiar with the city’s implementation of the program say it has become known for its long delays in approving patients for medical marijuana use. People following the D.C. Department of Health’s operation of the city’s medical marijuana program say improvements were put in place in the past two months that appear to be streamlining a cumbersome bureaucratic process that they say discouraged many patients in need of medical marijuana. Patricia Hawkins, a clinical psychologist and former deputy director of D.C.’s WhitmanWalker Health, said city delays in approving a patient’s application for a city approved medical card needed to allow the patient to buy medical marijuana at licensed dispensaries prompted some patients to resort to buying the marijuana from “pop-up” dealers who operate illegally, sometimes selling marijuana on the street. “That’s the last thing we need them to do,” said Hawkins, who noted that the purity and content of marijuana bought on the black market is unknown and could have harmful additives such as pesticides. She said street drug dealers also have the reputation for attempting to sell people other harmful drugs such as heroin. Hawkins noted that LGBT and AIDS activists played an important role in persuading the city to enact the medical marijuana program in the late 1990s just prior to the availability of effective AIDS drugs. She said marijuana treatment was shown to be helpful to AIDS patients suffering from severe weight loss by increasing their appetite. D.C.’s medical marijuana program is run by the Department of Health’s Division AP R IL 19, 2019 • WA SHINGTONBLA D E.COM • 25


of Medical Marijuana and Integrative Therapy. Under rules established by the DOH, in order to become authorized to buy marijuana for medical purposes a patient must first obtain a written recommendation from his or her primary care physician. “This recommendation must assert that the use of marijuana is medically necessary for the patient for the treatment of a qualifying medical condition or to mitigate the side effects of a qualifying medical treatment,” a statement on the DOH website says. The statement says the written recommendation must include the physician’s signature and license number. The physician must then send that to the DOH. The patient is required to submit to the DOH a completed application form that shows proof of residency in D.C. and include a photo copy of a government issued identification document such as a driver’s license. A $100 registration fee is also required, with a $25 fee for a patient that qualifies for low-income status. One D.C. patient who spoke to the Washington Blade about the process on condition that the patient not be identified said that in the recent past it took between two and four months for the DOH to process the patient’s application and send the needed medical card. Under the city’s medical marijuana program, the medical card expires after one year and a new application must be submitted to have it renewed along with the $100 fee. The patient that spoke to the Blade said only a few doctors in the city have the training or the desire to prescribe medical marijuana as a treatment for a medical condition. “The waiting rooms are overfull and there’s a long time you have to wait to see the doctor,” said the patient. “And then last year the Department of Health lost my paperwork so I had to go through the whole process again,” said the

patient. “It’s just frustrating and annoying. And it’s way more cumbersome and way more bureaucratic than is necessary.” Under changes made earlier this year, the DOH website now says applications for the medical card are processed within 30 business days. Linda Green, owner of Anacostia Organics, one of six licensed medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating in the city, said the DOH last month began offering patients the option of submitting their application for the medical card online. “The processing time has been cut down considerably,” she said. “The DOH says the process now can take just one week. They are saying it takes five to seven days to get your card,” added Green, who said she’s “very hopeful” that the streamlined process will encourage more patients in need of medical marijuana to enter the program. The National Holistic Healing Center, another D.C. medical marijuana dispensary located near Dupont Circle, told the Blade in a statement there have been “considerable improvements to the process for obtaining a medical card.” The statement, which doesn’t identify the person who wrote it, says National Holistic has patients who have received their medical card from the DOH in two to three weeks through the online application process. Green of Anacostia Organics and the National Holistic statement said there are a wide range of different types of cannabis, the preferred name for marijuana by the dispensaries, from which a patient can choose to best meet their medical needs. Experts at the dispensaries will help the patient select the type best for them, some of which are inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. A DOH spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Congress gets serious on cannabis laws Bills address banking reform, veterans’ access, medical research By JACK JACOBSON, THOMPSON COBURN & BECKY DANSKY Democratic control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years has given Congress its first opportunity to bring federal laws and regulations more in line with recent dramatic shifts in state cannabis policy. A slew of bipartisan cannabis bills are getting their first public hearings and votes on issues ranging from banking to veterans access to reforming the criminal justice system. And cannabis activists are winning. Currently, 47 states acknowledge the medical benefit of cannabis, 33 states allow the purchase of cannabis for medicinal use, and 10 states, Guam and the District of Columbia allow adult recreational use. Yet cannabis is still considered a Schedule I Drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means it is still federally illegal. The discord between state and federal law has prevented many in the financial industry from offering services to cannabis related businesses. As a result, most of the $10.4 billion in legal marijuana sales last year occurred using cash-only transactions. This Congress started with swift action on cannabis banking reform, with a successful subcommittee hearing on the “SAFE Banking Act,” legislation that would prohibit federal regulators from discouraging or interfering with financial institutions working with state compliant cannabis businesses. On March 28, the House Committee on Financial Services approved the bill in a bipartisan vote of 45-15. The legislation now moves to the full House for consideration. On April 4, legislators introduced the “STATES Act,” which would effectively amend the Controlled Substances Act and defer to the various states regarding the legalization and regulation of cannabis and limit federal agents from raiding state licensed businesses. The bill provides that transactions which comply with state law would not constitute trafficking and thereby result in proceeds of an unlawful transaction. The “Marijuana Justice Act” has been introduced in the House and Senate, and would radically transform how the federal government treats cannabis. The legislation goes beyond simply de-scheduling the drug, making it legal to buy, sell, consume, and transport; the bill would also expunge “each conviction for marijuana use or possession offense entered by the [Federal] court.” The “Marijuana Justice Act” only has Democratic cosponsors at this time, but is likely to be raised at a House Judiciary

Committee hearing in the coming months. Congress is also making a strong push to allow veterans access to cannabis. From PTSD to chronic pain, marijuana can be a safer, nonaddictive alternative to opioids. Members of Congress have introduced legislation to allow and to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct research on the medical effects of cannabis. The “Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act” would protect veterans who use, possess or transport medical marijuana, and would allow VA doctors to issue recommendations to veterans for legal medical marijuana programs. With approximately one million LGBTQ veterans living in the U.S. and about 250,000 LGBTQ veterans accessing the VA medical system, these changes could make an enormous difference in the care and treatment of thousands of LGBTQ veterans. In addition to veterans research, legislators are also working to pass legislation to make it easier for institutes of higher education and medical professionals to conduct research on medical marijuana more broadly. Current federal laws and regulations significantly restrict the ability to research the medical effects of cannabis, including derivatives THC and CBD. The “Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act” would establish a new registration process to facilitate medical marijuana research and open to new avenues to potentially groundbreaking medical cannabis applications. Major legislative victories are far from certain this year, but progress is being made. Banking reform, veterans’ access, and medical research are among the lowest-hanging fruit and have better-than-even shots at becoming law. Hurdles remain, however. There is limited floor time in the House before the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns overtake Congress’s legislative and policy work. Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) will need to be convinced to bring legislation to the Senate floor for a vote, either individually or as a part of a larger package. And finally, the White House has shied away from major statements on cannabis legislation; whether President Trump would sign legislation that loosens federal cannabis laws is anyone’s guess. (Jack Jacobson, Thompson Coburn and Becky Dansky are with the Safe and Responsible Banking Alliance.)

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No pot uniformity in DMV region



Restrictions fewest in D.C.; tightest in Virginia


APRIL 28 at 7:30 PM




Be careful traveling throughout the region with pot in your possession. It’s illegal to transport across state lines.

Spend time in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Rehoboth Beach? Be careful — cannabis laws vary significantly in our region. The District has the freest laws. In Washington, medical and recreational cannabis use is legal for adults over 21. It joins 10 states (Maine, Massachusetts, Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Michigan and Alaska) as the pot-friendliest jurisdictions, although it is still illegal to sell pot commercially in D.C. In Maryland, Delaware or if you venture into West Virginia, cannabis is approved for medical use with a doctor’s recommendation. Recreational use has been decriminalized in Maryland and Delaware. It’s a misdemeanor in West Virginia. In Virginia (and throughout the Bible Belt), CBD-only (Cannabidiol) laws allow for some medical access. Virginia, however has some of the most expansive CBD laws of the 14 states with CBD-only laws. Be careful traveling though — no states allow transport of cannabis across state lines. Cannabis is prohibited in all forms in three states — Idaho, South Dakota and Nebraska. Other interesting cannabis numbers, courtesy of the 2018 publication “Marijuana Goes Mainstream”: • 88 percent of Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana according to a CNN poll. • 84 percent of Americans support ending jail sentences for those caught with small amounts of marijuana (CNN).

• 60 percent of Americans support outright legalization of marijuana according to Gallup. • marijuana ranks third among recreational drugs in the U.S. after alcohol and tobacco according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws • 75 percent of U.S. marijuana sales come from California or Colorado (herb.com). • $6.7 billion was paid for legal marijuana sales in the U.S. in 2016, up 30 percent from the previous year according to Arcview Market Research. It’s expected to hit more than $20 billion by 2021. • Black market marijuana sales accounted for $46.4 billion in sales in 2016 (Arcview). • Daily cannabis users average 600 extra calories a day (herb.com). • 55 million Americans have tried pot at least once (Marist/Yahoo poll) and 35 million are regular users averaging once or twice-monthly use. • smoking pot around your pets will affect them; symptoms of pets inhaling second-hand pot smoke include pacing, panting and loss of balance, usually within 30-60 minutes of exposure. • 14 percent of U.S. marijuana smokers are Republicans (Marist/Yahoo). • 11 percent of marijuana users say they hide their stash (Marish/Yahoo). • 76 percent of Americans say marijuana is more of a health risk than tobacco (Marish/Yahoo). • The famous Hollywood sign has been vandalized twice to read “Hollyweed” — in 1976 and 2017 according to the New York Times.

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Photo by mikeledray; Courtesy of Bigstock


Tickets are available at the Kennedy Center Box Office. Charge by phone at 202 467 4600 and at kennedy-center.org. Visit www.lyndacarter.com.

Claiming space for LGBTQ community in cannabis movement We must create inclusive conversations around health care By LAILA MAKLED & CAROLINE PHILLIPS

The cannabis legalization movement was driven by the efforts of diverse communities. Photo by cendeced; Courtesy of Bigstock

The cannabis legalization movement was driven by the efforts of diverse communities, yet cannabis industry, advocacy and media do not reflect that diversity, including a lack of representation of the LGBTQIA community. Both cannabis and LGBTQIA community have lived on the fringes of society for decades, navigating a country where their acceptance was, and often still is, hard to attain. Many compare the “rapid” change in opinion on gay marriage with the shift in public support for cannabis legalization, and while those parallels may feel valid, to say experiences of cannabis consumers and being LGBTQIA are the same rejects the nuance of being queer in today’s society. It’s high time to create a cannabis community that more accurately reflects its users and supporters, and to put an end to the trend of a male-dominated, white, cis-gender, cannabis industry. D.C. and 33 states permit medical cannabis use, 10 states plus D.C. have adult use programs, and 66% of people in the U.S. support cannabis legalization. Long before cannabis legalization was fathomable, the LGBTQIA community strongly supported legalization for healthcare and recreational pursuits. According to the 2010 General Social Survey, 65% of gay and lesbian respondents supported cannabis legalization, with that number growing to 80% in 2016. Support is even greater among those who identified as bisexual, at 73% in 2010 and 91% in 2016. In comparison, heterosexual individuals supported legalization at a much lower rate of 44% in 2010, and 58% in 2016, yet the LGBTQIA audience remains a secondary

priority to marketers and companies in the cannabis industry. Despite the widespread support for cannabis legalization in the LGBTQIA community, there is little discussion of where we fit into the industry. A familiar phrase in cannabis media is “coming out of the cannabis closet.” If you Google “coming out of the cannabis closet,” you will find myriad articles and videos walking you through how to do so with suggestions on how to tell your personal story or promising health care savings, but you’ll have a hard time finding any content directed at or covering topics impacting the LGBTQIA community. The conversation of coming out within the LGBTQIA community is controversial as it is. For example, coming out as a latinx trans person in a poor community is completely different experience than coming out as a gay cis man in upper-class suburbia. For a phrase charged with such heavy emotion and consequence for so many individuals to be co-opted by an industry that has yet to invite those individuals in, just feels wrong. There is already a growing movement within the cannabis industry to ensure equal representation of women and people of color. It’s time for the LGBTQIA community to be included in our conversations about diversity and inclusion, and for the cannabis industry and media to take serious steps to create inclusive conferences, industry meet-ups, articles and conversations around health care. (Laila Makled and Caroline Phillips are with the National Cannabis Festival, which is being held Saturday at RFK Stadium.)

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Cannabis Culture

Colorado Gov. JARED POLIS

Colo. governor signs bill permitting cannabis for autism DENVER — Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation, House Bill 1028, expanding the pool of patients qualified to access medical cannabis to include those with autism spectrum disorder. The measure also mandates the state Board of Health to prioritize grant funding to study the use of cannabis for autism and other pediatric conditions. Recent clinical trial data report that the adjunctive use of cannabidiol is associated with reduced ASD symptoms and is well tolerated among patients.

THC limits not correlated to driving impairment LANSING, Mich. — The presence of THC in blood is not correlated with driving performance and is not a reliable indicator of psychomotor impairment, according to recommendations made by a state-appointed traffic safety task force. A report issued by the Michigan Impaired Driving Safety Commission finds that peak THC blood levels are not associated with maximal behavioral impairment and further finds that the compound’s influence upon driving performance varies significantly among individual consumers. As a result, “The Commission recommends against the establishment of a threshold of delta-9-THC bodily content for determining driving impairment and instead recommends the use of roadside sobriety tests to determine whether a driver is impaired.” The Commission’s recommendations are similar to those previously issued by the American Automobile Association, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and other traffic safety experts who have similarly opined against the imposition of per se thresholds for the presence of THC. NORML similarly argues that the identification of THC in blood is a poor predictor of either recent cannabis exposure or impaired performance. H E A LT H • APR I L 19, 2019 • WA SHINGTONBLA DE . COM • 29

The Commission’s report further opines that subjects influenced by cannabis “typically drive slower, keep greater following distances, and take fewer risks than when sober.” They add, “While there is some uncertainty as to the crash risk associated with cannabis impairment alone, the research is clear that the risk is lower than that of alcohol impairment.” Five states — Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington —impose various per se limits for the detection of specific amounts of THC in blood while eleven states (Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin) impose zero tolerant per se standards. In those states, it is a criminal violation of the traffic safety laws to operate a motor vehicle with detectable levels of THC in blood. Colorado law infers driver impairment in instances where THC is detected in blood at levels of 5ng/ml or higher.

FDA seeks public comments on CBD marketing rules SILVER SPRING, Md. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a public hearing to address issues surrounding the “safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling, and sale” of products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids such as CBD. Outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that the public meeting will take place on May 31 at the agency’s White Oak Campus in Silver Spring, Md. The agency is also accepting public comments on the issue, which may be submitted through July 2, 2019. Speaking before Congress on multiple occasions, Gottlieb has stated that it may take “years” for the agency to establish rules and regulations governing the marketing of hemp-derived cannabinoid products. He further expressed concerns about the prospect of chain retailers like CVS and Walgreens carrying certain CBD-infused products, such as topical lotions and sprays, on their shelves. In December, Congress enacted legislation removing industrial hemp (defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC) and products containing cannabinoids derived from hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. The following day, the FDA stated: “Congress explicitly preserved the agency’s current authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and section 351 of the Public Health Service Act.” The agency further opined, “[I]t’s unlawful under the FD&C Act to introduce food containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived.” The agency continues to selectively target manufacturers who it believes are marketing CBD-infused products in a manner that violates the agency’s interpretation of the law. Public comments on this issue may be submitted electronically to the FDA. The FDA Questions and Answer page: ‘Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabinoid-Derived Products’ is online. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.

Countries slow to legalize recreational marijuana New Zealand to hold referendum on issue in 2020 By MICHAEL K. LAVERS MLAVERS@WASHBLADE.COM

Canadian Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU backed a law that legalized recreational marijuana in his country. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers


Test Drive the All-New


Only a handful of countries have legalized recreational marijuana, even though public opinion toward the drug continues to change. Uruguay in 2013 became the first country to legalize recreational marijuana. A law then-President José Mujica signed allows residents of the South American country who are at least 18 to buy 1.4 ounces of marijuana a month from pharmacies that have agreed to sell the drug. The statute also allows Uruguayans to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes and establish smoking clubs. The Cannabis Act, which legalized recreational marijuana across Canada, took effect on Oct. 17, 2018. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier in the year defended the law during a press conference after the Canadian Senate approved it. “We will soon have a new system in place, one that keeps cannabis out of the hands of our kids and keeps profits away from organized crime,” he said. South Africa’s Constitutional Court on Sept. 18, 2018, ruled adults can use marijuana in “a private place.” Georgia’s Constitutional Court less than two months earlier issued a ruling that struck down fines for marijuana use. A referendum on whether to legalize recreational marijuana in New Zealand is expected to take place in 2020. The Make It Legal Campaign, which supports the drug’s legalization, on its website says its goals are to “turn out and vote” and “vote yes to progressive law reform, whatever the question.” Those who support the legalization of recreational marijuana argue it will expand economic opportunities and reduce crime, among other things. Opponents insist marijuana has an adverse impact on a person’s

health and contributes to higher rates of substance abuse among teenagers. “When people think about ‘cannabis,’ they probably immediately think about a joint,” said Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First New Zealand, a group that opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana in the country, in a March 13 press release. “But legalizing marijuana will be far more than that. People will be popping it between classes, sucking on it while driving, drinking it before work, chewing on it while they talk to others, and eating it as a dessert.” Dozens of other countries around the world in recent years have also decriminalized recreational marijuana and/ or legalized medicinal uses of the drug. The sale of marijuana in licensed coffee shops is “tolerated” under Dutch law. Jamaica, Chile, Vanuatu, Luxembourg and Israel are among the countries that have legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. The European Parliament on Feb. 13 approved a non-binding resolution that, among other things, calls upon the European Commission and members of the European Union “to address the regulatory, financial and cultural barriers which weigh on scientific research into the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and on research into cannabis in general.” The resolution also calls upon the European Commission “to determine the priority areas for research into cannabis for medicinal purposes in agreement with the competent authorities, drawing on pioneering research in other countries and focusing on those areas which may bring the greatest added value.”

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Etheridge extols pot virtues on new record


April 24

(a Scottish

American cabaret)

Unabashed cannabis lover’s new project is melancholy rocker By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM

MELISSA ETHERIDGE is back with one of her stronger efforts, ‘The Medicine Show.’ Photo courtesy Concord Media

Melissa Etheridge is easy to take for granted. She’s sturdy, reliably good and one of not many ‘90s hitmakers still releasing new music on a regular cycle. Her new release “The Medicine Show,” her 15th studio album and third on her own label, is full of big melodic choruses; churning, easy-onthe-ear mid-tempo lite rock cuts; punctuations of harder, tougher rock edges and logical (some might say predictable, but they largely work) chord progressions. It’s a surprisingly melancholy record, not quite as heavy overall as her 2014 release “This is M.E.,” but more in that vein musically than 2012’s slinkier, more soulful project “4th Street Feeling.” Her last album, 2016’s covers album “MEmphis Rock and Soul” was a pleasant detour; now Etheridge is back to her own songwriting with these 11 solid cuts. A Targetexclusive edition — not available to critics — has two bonus cuts. She opened her tour this week in Los Angeles and plays Wolf Trap June 25 with Pat Benetar and Neil Giraldo. Things get off to a rollicking start with the hard rocking title cut. It’s a little inane and lyrically repetitive — the hooks are based around nursery rhyme phrases like “high-ho, high-ho” and “E-I-E-I-O” — but it accomplishes what it sets out to do getting the record off to a bold start with rock thunder and a strong ear worm. Etheridge says in press copy for the record, it’s about many things. “Calling the album ‘The Medicine Show’ puts straight up, front and center, that this is about health, wellness, cannabis, this new thought, new paradigm, however you want to talk about it, however you want to understand it. It influences every song on the album. We’re not afraid of this any more. We’ve come a long way.” For this project, Etheridge reunited with

John Shanks, a producer she worked with on three previous projects — “Breakdown” (1999), “Lucky” (2004) and “Fearless Love” (2010). Shanks brought in drummer Victor Indrizzo, bassist Chris Chaney and keyboardist Max Hart. The sessions were done mostly live in studio giving the album a fresh, lived-in feel. Many of the standout cuts are mid-tempo, hummable rockers. “Wild and Lonely” is catchy, moody and finds Etheridge’s trademark raspy vocals sounding as good and unrestrained as ever. “Shaking,” another rock cut, is punctuated by a thundering, five-beat drum pattern. “Love Will Live,” one of the harder rocking cuts, is straightforward and solid and “Woman Like You” is equally catchy and melodic. Things slow down only twice — “I Know You” starts off as a strings-and-piano ballad but gets big and passionate by its end as does “Here Comes the Pain.” The record closes with “Last Hello,” a more melancholy cut on which Etheridge sings of loss: “this day will end and oh I miss you/I will rise again and oh I miss you/I’ll find the strength within/to shout never again/ wish I could see my friend/Oh I miss you.” There’s not a lot of lyrical specificity, but Etheridge says the song is dedicated to survivors of the Parkland school shootings. Elsewhere, she says the album hints at the opioid crisis, national anxiety, cannabis and more. The record works much the same way Sheryl Crow’s 2017 return to form album “Be Myself” worked — “The Medicine Show” is a bit of a ‘90s throwback but in a good way. Several cuts feel like they could almost have been outtakes from her classic records like “Yes I Am” (1993) or “Your Little Secret” (1995). It’s classic Etheridge but with a new twist and its consistency and listenability make up for any ground it doesn’t break.

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This Week in the Arts provided by CultureCapital.com

Alan Cumming: Legal Immigrant Apr 24. Strathmore. strathmore.org.


Legal Immigrant, a collection of musings on his ten years as a US citizen, growing older, and what it feels like to be an immigrant in today’s America is a true, oldfashioned cabaret featuring a smorgasbord of genres. Ever wanted to hear Schubert and Peggy Lee together in one song? You will! Hits by Scottish treasures The Proclaimers also make an appearance, and there might even be a Disney Princess medley sung without a drop of irony.

Grand Hotel, The Musical Thru May 19. Signature Theatre. sigtheatre.org.

It is 1928 and Berlin is at the center of a razzle-dazzle world between two wars. At the bustling Grand Hotel a series of eclectic guests and staff including a fading ballerina, a destitute baron, a wannabe-starlet typist, and an ailing bookkeeper collide in a non-stop musical toast to the high life.

Parsons Dance Apr 20. Mason’s Center for the Arts. cfa.gmu.edu.

New York City-based Parsons Dance is internationally celebrated for creating and performing American modern dance that is positive, life-affirming, enriching, and accessible. Stunning works, like the iconic Caught, exemplify this company’s innovation and huge audience appeal.

Digital 21 Live Apr 23. SPAIN arts & culture at Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain. spainculture.us.

Miguel López Mora is the musician, producer and video artist behind Digital 21. He started in 1988 as a pioneer in the Spanish electronic music scene by combining with video art. As a multi-instrumentalist musician, he has composed, arranged and played every instrument of his solo albums, remaining true to his artistic concept of total independence and coherence of all audiovisual creation. PHOTO COURTESY OF STRATHMORE

THEATRE Broadway Center Stage: Tommy. Apr 25Apr 28. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Into the Woods. Thru May 16. One Destiny. Thru Oct 26. Ford’s Theatre. fords.org. Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors. Thru May 12. Olney Theatre. olneytheatre.org. Oslo by J. T. Rogers. Apr 24-May 19. Round House. roundhousetheatre.org. Shear Madness. Thru Jun 19. Kennedy Center. shearmadness.com. Stomp. Apr 23-Apr 28. National Theatre. thenationaldc.org.

The Shooting Gallery. Thru Apr 27. Native Son. Thru Apr 28. Mosaic Theater Company at Atlas. mosaictheater.org.

DANCE Open Rehearsal: Living Art Collective Ensemble Apr 20. Living Art Collective Ensemble. Apr 21. National Gallery of Art. nga.gov. Soul in Motion: 35th Anniversary Celebration. Apr 20. BlackRock. blackrockcenter.org. The Legacy of the New Dance Group. Apr 19. Library of Congress. loc.gov.

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Aaron Goldberg Trio. Apr 19. Atlas. atlasarts.org. Carpe Diem-Revels Community Sing. Apr 21. Washington Revels at Seekers Church. revelsdc.org. Jazzmeia Horn Quintet. Apr 20. Library of Congress. loc.gov. Mathilde Handelsman. Apr 20. Kreeger Museum. kreegermuseum.org. REMIX: Can You Dig It? Apr 25. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian. npg.si.edu. The Secret Sisters. Apr 19. Omara Portuondo. Apr 23-Apr 24. John McCutcheon. Apr 25. The Barns at Wolf Trap. wolftrap.org. Unexpected Italy (I): From Vivaldi to Rossini. Thru Apr 20. Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony. Apr 25-Apr 27. NSO at Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Yevgeny Kutik, violin & Anna Polonsky, piano. Apr 23. Washington Performing Arts at Kennedy Center. washingtonperformingarts.org.

MUSEUMS AU Museum at the Katzen. Peripheral Visions. Thru Apr 24. Kenneth Victor Young: Continuum. Thru May 26. american.edu. Anderson House. Revolutionary Reflections: French Memories of the War for America. Thru Oct 27. societyofthecincinnati.org. Dumbarton Oaks. Written in Knots: Undeciphered Accounts of Andean Life. Thru Aug 18. Beyond Knotting: Wari and Inka Tunics from the Collection. Thru Aug 18. doaks.org. Folger Shakespeare Library. A Monument to Shakespeare: The Architecture of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Thru Jan 5. folger.edu. Kreeger Museum. Charles Hinman: Structures, 1965–2014. Thru Jul 31. kreegermuseum.org. Library of Congress. Baseball Americana. Thru Jun 29. Art in Action: Herblock and Fellow Artists Respond to Their Times. Thru Aug 17. loc.gov. National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art. Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice. Thru May 26. Venetian Prints in the Time of Tintoretto. Thru May 26. Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice. Thru Jul 9. The American Pre-Raphaelites: Radical Realists. Thru Jul 21. Oliver Lee Jackson: Recent Paintings. Thru Sep 15. nga.gov.

National Geographic. Queens of Egypt. Thru Sep 2. nationalgeographic.org. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling. Thru Jul 28. New York Ave Sculpture Project. Thru Sep 20. nmwa.org. Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire. Thru Jun 1. Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World. Thru Sep 30. americanindian.si.edu. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian. Orchids: Amazing Adaptations. Thru Apr 28. Lincoln’s Contemporaries. Thru May 19. Champions. Thru May 19. One Year: 1968, An American Odyssey. Thru May 19. npg.si.edu. Postal Museum. Beautiful Blooms: Flowering Plants on Stamps. Thru Jul 14. postalmuseum.si.edu.

GALLERIES Arts Barn. Black and White. Thru May 12. gaithersburgmd.gov. DC Arts Center. Then/Again. Thru Apr 28. dcartscenter.org. Del Ray Artisans. (No) Comfort Zone. Thru Apr 28. delrayartisans.org. gallery neptune & brown. Foon Sham: Twist of Lime. Thru Apr 20. galleryneptunebrown.com. Hill Center. Hill Center Galleries. Thru Apr 28. hillcenterdc.org. JCCNV. Meaning Making Through Art Making. Thru May 10. jccnv.org. Korean Cultural Center DC. Painted in Light. Thru Apr 22. Breaking Boundaries. Thru Apr 26. koreaculturedc.org. Glen Echo Park. Space Cowgirls: Ciara Barsotti. Thru Apr 27. All Nature Is But Art. Thru Apr 28. Meditations on the Personal: The Work of Susan Lyon. Thru Apr 28. glenechopark.org. The Art League. Megan Partridge: Bugs. Or Kafka on Prozac.. Thru May 5. theartleague.org. Waverly Street Gallery. Kristina Penhoet : Indeterminate Identities. Thru May 4. waverlystreetgallery.com. Zenith Gallery. Crisis Mode: Endangered Earth. Thru May 11. zenithgallery.com. Zenith Sculpture Space. Women who Work, Care, and Create. Thru Apr 27. zenithgallery.com.

AND MORE... Alliance Française. Des Mots et des Hommes Series: Book Talk and Signing. Apr 24. francedc.org. Folger Theatre. Rough Magic: Performing Shakespeare through Gaming Technology. Apr 22. folger.edu. Hill Center. Brunch with Bubbly: Classic Spring Brunch. Apr 20. Beyond Basics: Pasta Making. Thru Jun 20. hillcenterdc.org.

QUEERY Van Goodwin Photo by Robin Kenyetta; courtesy Goodwin

QUEERY: Van Goodwin

The CAGLCC president answers 20 gay questions By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM

Editor’s note — On the occasion of the Blade’s 50th anniversary and for the first time in many years, Blade editors have refreshed the questions in Queery, a feature that debuted in the paper in 2007. Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce President Van Goodwin says LGBT chambers provide a service that can’t be provided elsewhere — making the case for LGBT rights with data and economics. “That resonates with policymakers in a different and often more effective manner than they’re used to hearing,” he says. Queer chambers also right some of the business world’s historic wrongs, he says. “LGBTQ people have long been at a disadvantage in professional and business opportunities not only because of overt discrimination, but also the fact that we haven’t had access to the same social and professional networks,” the 40-yearold Natchez, Miss., native, says. “LGBTQ chambers help address that.” CAGLCC has its 11th annual Mega Networking event on Wednesday, April

24 from 6-9 p.m. at City Winery (1350 Okie St., N.E.). It’s free. About 30 area nonprofits will be represented and the event typically draws about 1,000 attendees. It’s free. Details at caglcc.org. Goodwin has been involved with CAGLCC for 12 years, on the board for four and president for three. He joined through a friend and was simply “looking to meet other people and connect myself better professionally.” He enjoys Mega Networking especially because it brings together many businesses and non-profits in a space where “they would otherwise never engage each other.” Goodwin is owner and managing director of Van Allen, LLC, an information technology and services business he started in 2014. He came to Washington 16 years ago for work. Goodwin is single (“af,” as he puts it) and lives in Van Ness (“Van in Van Ness, I know,” he says). Having visited 45 countries, travel is his passion though he also enjoys art and hiking.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

After breaking up with a college girlfriend of a couple years about 18 years ago, I just talked to friends about my experiences with other men as they unfolded over a couple of years, but the conversation was about what I did rather than what I was. The identity evolved and by the time it did, the people who chose to still be there didn’t care.

Who’s your LGBTQ hero? John Waters. His films find appreciation in people’s differences and most importantly, he gives people permission to be different and to see the hypocrisy in those who would exclude them. What LGBTQ stereotype most annoys you? The expectation of being catty, especially in the way gay men expect each other to adhere to the stereotype. It leads to some incredibly toxic behavior in our community when we should be showing authentic support. Just be kind and learn how to be both funny and kind at the same time. What’s your proudest professional achievement? Probably starting my own business that just passed its fifth year in operation.

What terrifies you? Leaving the world worse than I found it. That and locked-in syndrome. What’s something trashy or vapid you love? I would eat a Taco Bell Mexican Pizza value meal every day if I could. What’s your greatest domestic skill? Draping freshly dried clothes over my living room furniture so masterfully that they won’t wrinkle for days or sometimes even weeks on end. What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie or show? “DTLA,” and I really love Darryl Stephens as a lead in everything I’ve seen him in. He’s talented, authentic and effortlessly sexy. What’s your social media pet peeve? Not doing a cursory fact (or even sanity) check before sharing. What would the end of the LGBT movement look like to you? I think that happens when people don’t need L, G, B, T and Q because people don’t define an identity based on who they love. It’s when people are no longer constrained by how the people around them define those identities.

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What’s the most overrated social custom? Feigning being too busy. What was your religion, if any, as a child and what is it today? I grew up as Roman Catholic, went to Catholic school, the whole thing. Today I don’t claim any particular religion but I respect the role faith can play in people’s lives and society and respect the role people of faith played in my life. What’s D.C.’s best hidden gem? Lincoln’s Cottage. It’s massive and beautiful and creates an intimate relationship with history the more popular sites can’t. Most of the city doesn’t even know it’s there. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? I was really thrilled when I saw Liza Minnelli featured in “Arrested Development.” It’s the most perfect character I’d never have thought to create. What celebrity death hit you hardest? Stephen Hawking. His writing made some of the most complex topics attainable to me at a young age. That helped give me the confidence to try for achievements that seemed beyond me, because I knew that if I could understand that, there’s so much more I could do.



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If you could redo one moment from your past, what would it be? I’d have done whatever I could to get to a more urban area for college or after high school in general. I didn’t have the context then, but I see now how good that would have been for me. What are your obsessions? I like seeing people around me create success (and hopefully some for me too). Finish this sentence — It’s about damn time: We head-on address that rapidly advancing technology is consolidating massive power largely by random chance, and let go of the ridiculous fantasy that something in a capitalistsocialist dichotomy will fix it. Also, if I may, it’s about damn time Netflix brought back “Battlestar Galactica.”



National Symphony Orchestra Pops



What do you wish you’d known REVIEW at 18? 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 IREVISIONS wish I’d understood the power the of date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts 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 changing a conversation and how REDESIGN can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or TEXTperception REVISIONS is reality. It would any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any much 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, have saved me years and stress. or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the NO REVISIONS washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations and warranties.

Why Washington? I [expletive] love this town. This city is incredibly smart and driven. In a tiny diamond, it’s easy to meet the most accomplished humans on earth on a given subject. It forces you to stay on your toes. It loves a good happy hour or street party. It has a deep culture of civic engagement with a comically large collection of oneperson institutions. And it’s super gay. AP R IL 1 9 , 2 0 1 9

Vanessa Williams



Steven Reineke, conductor

Vanessa Williams has conquered Broadway (Into the Woods), television (Ugly Betty), and music charts, selling millions of albums worldwide with hits like “Colors of the Wind” and “Save the Best for Last.” For one night only, the Grammy®, Tony®, ADVERTISER SIGNATURE and Emmy® Award nominee joins the National Symphony Orchestra for an By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contract obligations with the washington blade newspaper. This includes but is not limited to placement, unforgettable program of pop, R&B, and musical theater favorites! payment and insertion schedule.

May 3 & 4 | Concert Hall

Kennedy-Center.org (202) 467-4600

David M. Rubenstein is the Presenting Underwriter of the NSO.

Groups call (202) 416-8400 For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540 AARP is the Presenting Sponsor of the NSO Pops Season.

Counterclockwise from top: ALAN CUMMING performs his cabaret show at the Strathmore on April 24 Photo by Christopher Boudewyns; courtesy Strathmore, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater plays Baltimore next weekend Photo courtesy AADT, SEEINA B. DIAMOND will pass on the crown to a new Miss Gay Arlington next Friday at Freddie’s Photo courtesy AGLA.

Ailey dancers plan Baltimore performances Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater brings its 60th anniversary tour to the Modell Lyric (140 W. Mt Royal Ave., Baltimore) on April 23-24 at 7:30 p.m. The dance troupe began during a New York City performance in March 1958 with a group of African-American dancers led by Ailey. Since that performance, Alvin Ailey has brought together the African-American cultural experience with American modern dance in performances for an estimated 25 million people in the United States and around the world. The performance on April 23 will include “Lazarus Act 1,” “Lazarus Act 2” and “Revelations.” For the April 24 show, the company will perform

“Members Don’t Get Weary,” “The Call,” “Juba” and an encore performance of “Revelations.” Tickets range from $36-71. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit modell-lyric.com.

Peggy Lee. In between, he will also weave in hits from Scottish band The Proclaimers and some Disney tunes. Tickets range from $45-85. For details, visit strathmore.org.

Cumming returns with cabaret

Miss Gay Arlington is April 26

Bi actor/singer Alan Cumming presents his new concert “Legal Immigrant: A Scottish/ American Cabaret” at the Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Ln., North Bethesda, Md.) on Wednesday, April 24 at 8 p.m. Cumming, who was born in the United Kingdom, will ponder his decade-long experience as a U.S. immigrant through a multi-genre cabaret. He will perform music ranging from Austrian composer Franz Schubert to American singing legend

AGLA hosts Miss Gay Arlington 2019 at Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd St., S Arlington, Va.) on Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m. The pageant’s theme this year will be “An Evening in the Land of Oz.” Reining queen Seeina B. Diamond will be honored and contestants will compete for the 2019 crown. Categories will include presentation (“Wizard of Oz” theme), talent, evening gown and on-stage question. Miss Gay Arlington will receive a prize package of

cash and prizes totaling $1,500. For more information, visit facebook. com/outinnova.

Pitchers launches new Drag Picnic Pitchers D.C. (2317 18th St., N.W.) presents Drag Picnic, a new drag brunch on Saturday, April 27 at 1 p.m. Featured performers will be Sasha Adams, Iyana Deschanel, Katrina Colby and Venus Fastrada. Brooklyn Heights hosts the show. Seating begins at 12:30 p.m. followed by the show which will begin promptly at 1 p.m. Reservations are required. This is a new event slated for the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. For more details, visit pitchersdc. eventbrite.com.

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Want an FWB for a good cause? “Floating with Benefits,” a drag cruise fundraiser for the D.C. Center will be held on Friday, April 26 at 9:30 p.m. launching from the Georgetown Waterfront. Drag queens Venus Valhalla, Kittney Stone, Tiffany D, Geneva Confection and Citrine will perform. Tickets are $55 and include top shelf open bar. Supporters and sponsors are Stonewall Kickball, Boomerang Boat Tours and D.C. Impeachers (one of the Stonewall Kickball teams). After purchasing a ticket, meet fellow passengers on the dock at 9:30 p.m. at the Washington Harbor. The group will board in the commercial vessel boarding zone at Georgetown Waterfront (Washington Harbor). The closest street address is 3100 K St., N.W.; cross streets are 31st and K. From there, continue down 31st Street by foot. The dock is at the end of 31st Street. Boarding is on the left, in front of the Fiola Mare Restaurant & Nick’s Riverside Grill. There are many paid parking garages nearby. Must be 21 or older. Tickets online at bit.ly/dragcruise.

The Baltimore Eagle (2022 N Charles St., Baltimore) hosts Rise, its grand reopening party, tonight from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Drag performers will include “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Tatianna, Shaunda Leer, Betty O’Hellno, Gadfrie Arbulu and Iyana Deschanel. Brooklyn Heights hosts the show. The show will be interpreted by MidAtlantic Deaf & Interpreter Fund. No cover. For more information, visit facebook.com/ thebaltimoreeagle. Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts Rough House, a clothes-off party, tonight from 10 p.m.-12:45 a.m. DJ Lemz and DJ The Barber Streisand will spin tracks. Cover is $5 with clothes check. For more details, visit greenlanterndc.com. 5050Taphouse (29 W Cork St., Winchester, Va.) hosts drag bingo featuring Ongina from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” tonight at 9:30 p.m. There will be prizes, games and drag performances. Candy Snatch, Sasha Renee and Chasity Vain will perform. Seating at the bar, hightop table community seating and general admission tickets for standing room only are $20. Reserved table for two guests are $40. Proceeds will be raised for the non-profit organization, Winchester Are: The Aids Response Effort. For more details, visit facebook.com/5050taphouse. D.C. Bear Crue hosts Bear Happy Hour at Uproar Lounge & Restaurant (639 Florida Ave., N.W.) tonight from 5-10 p.m. Drink specials are until 10 p.m. and include $5 rail cocktails and $5 draft pitchers. Free appetizers will be handed out throughout the night. For more details, visit facebook. com/bearhappyhour. Shen Yun, a classical Chinese music and dance company, returns to the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. The show runs through April 21. The company combines elaborate costumes, high-tech backdrops and a full orchestra to give a fresh perspective on ancient Chinese dances and lessons. Tickets range from $80-180. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

Saturday, April 20 Backdoor Baltimore hosts a 4/20 party queer warehouse party, at Graffiti Warehouse (128 W North Ave., Baltimore) tonight from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. There will be custom curated art installations, photo

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booths, drag performances, go-go performances and more. DJ The Carry Nation, DJ Sappho, DJ KeenanOrr, DJ StrikeStone, DJ Landan Brawley, DJ Ducky Dynamo, DJ EZGrüüv, DJ Brandon Michael and DJ John Jones will spin house, disco and techno music all night. Tickets are $15. For more details, search “Backdoor Baltimore” on Facebook. Mim Entertainment hosts 420, an LGBT day party, at Pure Lounge (1326 U St., N.W.) today from 4-9:30 p.m. DJ Mim and DJ L Stackz will play hip-hop, Afro-beats, R&B, reggae, go-go and more. There will be drink specials and hookah available. Cover is $10. For more information, visit facebook.com/mimentdc. Womxn Fuck Shit Up D.C., a queerinclusive music festival, is at Union Stage (740 Water St., S.W.) today at 5 p.m. The festival benefits This Could Go Boom, which promotes and distributes music from underrepresented and genderdiverse musicians. Tickets are $20. For more details and to purchase tickers, visit unionstage.com. Onyx-Mid Atlantic Pledges present Welcum to the Jungle, a gay jungle party, tonight from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Dress code is jungle gear such as loin cloths, camo and fur. There will be kink demos, raffles, prizes, cupcakes and Jell-O shots. DJ Theo Storm will spin tracks. Proceeds benefit Casa Ruby. For more information, visit dceagle.com.

Sunday, April 21 The Imperial Court of Washington presents “It’s a Peter Rabbit Roulette Easter Show” at Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 South 23rd St., Arlington, Va.) tonight from 8-10 p.m. Jacque, Ginger and Rudy host the show. The show will benefit Imperial Court’s Reign VII Charities, the True Colors Fund and D.C. Royale. For more information, visit facebook.com/ imperialcourtdc. Korean, Queer and Transgender Association hosts its monthly meeting at 12721 Magna Carta Rd., Herndon, Va., this evening from 5-8 p.m. Queer Koreans and allies are invited to join. Attendees are asked to bring a dish to share. For more details, visit facebook.com/kqtindc. LezLink hosts a coffee mixer for professional queer and lesbian women at Colony Club (3118 Georgia Ave., N.W.) today from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. There will be coffee, tea and pizza. Tickets are $5 and do not includes food or drink. For more details,

visit facebook.com/lezlinksocialclub. Purple Raign Productions hosts a Prince celebration/opioid awareness party at Red Lounge Bar & Grill (2013 14th St., N.W.) today from 4-10 p.m. DJ Doctor Rock will play music by Prince, The Time, Sheila E and Vanity/Apollonia 6 all day. There will be a contest for the attendee that brings the most people to the party with them and a celebrity look-alike contest. Cover is $10. For more information, visit facebook.com/redloungedc.

Monday, April 22 The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W..) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Tuesday, April 23 Landmark’s E Street Cinema (555 11th St., N.W.) presents a screening of the documentary “Nureyev” tonight at 7 p.m. BAFTA-nominated directors Jacqui Morris and David Morris tell the story of Russian male ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. The documentary chronicles his rise to fame and his open sexuality in the face of the Russian government. Tickets are $15. For more details, visit facebook. com/estreetcinema.

Wednesday, April 24 The Lambda Bridge Club meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for duplicate bridge. No reservations required and new comers welcome. If you need a partner, call 703-407-6540.

Thursday, April 25 The 14th annual Hump Festival, a short adult film festival curated by Dan Savage, starts tonight at Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. The festival continues through April 27. Tickets are $25. For more information, visit blackcatdc.com.

NATIONAL CITY CHRISTIAN CHURCH in Thomas Circle is one of Washington’s most LGBTaffirming parishes. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

Regional affirming houses of worship plan seders, services

Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday form Paschal Triduum for Christians By MARIAH COOPER Editor’s note: Many churches in the D.C. area are LGBT affirming. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. To have services listed in a future edition, contact Blade Features Editor Joey DiGuglielmo at joeyd@washblade.com.

Friday, April 19 (Good Friday and first day of Passover) Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) holds a morning prayer in the presence of the reserved sacrament at 10 a.m. At noon, there will be the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday with scripture, music, prayer and communion. There will be a live webcast.

Good Friday evening service is at 7 p.m. with a live webcast. The service will reflect on the death and burial of Christ through readings and music. Passes are not required for any of these services. For more information, visit cathedral.org. St. George’s Episcopal Church (160 U St., N.W.) has a Good Friday service at 6:30 p.m. For more details, visit stgeorgesdc.org. Dignity/Nova celebrates Good Friday at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church (1830 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit dignitywashington.org. Calvary Baptist Church (755 8th St., N.W.) will have a Good Friday service with the sermon “The Seven Last Words of Jesus: An Account from Women of the Global South” at 11 a.m. For more details, visit calvarydc.org. Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge St., N.W.) holds its Good Friday service today. For a service time, visit mccdc.com for updates. Western Presbyterian Church (2401 Virginia Ave., N.W.) has a Good Friday service at noon. For more information, visit westernpresbyterian.net. Foundry United Methodist Church (1500 16th St., N.W.) has a Good Friday service with the Adoration of the Cross at noon and 7 p.m. Visit foundryumc.com for details. Waterfront Church D.C. (1000 New Jersey Ave., S.E.) holds a Good Friday service at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. There will be a children’s program during each service. For more information, visit waterfrontchurchdc.com. National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, N.W.) has a Good Friday worship service at 7 p.m. For details, visit nationalcitycc.org. Sixth & I (600 I St., N.W.) holds a community seder led by Chazzan Larry Paul and musician Robyn Helzner tonight at 7 p.m. Menu will include Matzah ball chicken soup, a dinner buffet of roasted chicken, Moroccan dandelions and potato pie, seasonal fruit and berry salad, rainbow layered cake and more. For more details, visit sixthani.org.

Saturday, April 20 (Holy Saturday and second day of Passover) Edlavitch D.C.-JCC hosts its Second Night Community Seder at Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School - North Campus (6045 16th St., N.W.) from 6-9 p.m. The seder will be led by Sonya Weisburd, director of social justice and volunteer programs at the EDCJCC, and song leader Ari Jacobson. A traditional, kosher Passover meal will be served. Registration is required. Visit edcjcc.org for more information. Dignity/Nova holds Easter Vigil mass at Immanuel Church on the Hill (3606 Seminary Rd., Alexandria, Va.) at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit dignitynova.org. Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) hosts the Great Vigil and first Eucharist of Easter at 8 p.m. Incense will be used at the service. All are welcome to bring bells. Visit cathedral. org for details. St. George’s Episcopal Church (160 U St., N.W.) holds an Easter Vigil at 7 p.m. For more information, visit stgeorgesdc.org.

Sunday, April 21 (Easter) The United Church (1920 G St., N.W.) holds an Easter Sunday service in German at 9:30 a.m. followed by an Easter Sunday service in English at 11 a.m. For more information, visit theunitedchurch.org. Western Presbyterian Church (2401 Virginia Ave., N.W.) has its Easter Sunday service at 11 a.m. For details, visit northernpresbyterian.net. Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge St., N.W.) hosts Resurrection Worship Services at 9 and 11 a.m. For more details, visit mccdc.com. Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) celebrates the Festival Holy Eucharist with a service at 8 a.m. and another service at 11:15 a.m. There will be scripture, prayers and music. Both services are full but can be watched on the live webcast. At 2 p.m., the Cathedral holds an Easter Sunday Organ Recital with organist George Fergus. Passes are not required but there is a $10 recommended donation. At 4 p.m., the cathedral closes out its Easter festivities with Festival Choral Evensong. The traditional Anglican service will include readings from Holy Scripture, choir-led psalms, hymns, anthems and a short sermon. Passes aren’t required. Visit cathedral.org for more details. St. George’s Episcopal Church (160 U St., N.W.) holds an early Easter service at 7:30 a.m. followed by an Easter Day Festival Eucharist service at 10 a.m. For more details, visit stgeorgesdc.org. Dignity/Nova holds its Easter service at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church (1830 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) at 6 p.m. For more information, visit dignitywashington.org. Foundry United Methodist Church (1500 16th St., N.W.) has Easter Sunday services at 9 and 11:15 a.m. Foundry choirs, organ, piano and brass musicians will perform. For details, visit foundryumc. com. National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, N.W.) presents a gospel worship service at 8:30 a.m. At 11 a.m. there will be another worship service followed by a brunch hosted by Nick Bullock at 12:30 p.m. For more information, visit nationalcitycc.org. Waterfront Church D.C. hosts a massive Easter service at Nationals Park (1500 South Capitol St., S.E.) at 8:30, 9:45 and 11:15 a.m. Parking is free in Garage B. For more information, visit waterfrontchurchdc.com.

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One of the revelers at last year’s Awesome Con in Washington. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

Awesome Con is still here and queer

LGBT content remains convention staple By MARIAH COOPER

Awesome Con is back to indulge the inner-geeks of people in the D.C. area at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mt Vernon Pl., N.W.) next weekend (April 26-28). The sixth annual Comic Con will join together fans of comic books, TV shows, movies and games for three days of exhibits, panels, celebrity meet and greets, photo-ops and much more. Whether it’s your first time attending the convention or you’re a repeat con attendee, Awesome Con is curated with you in mind (details at awesome-con.com). Ron Brister, vice president of Left Field Media, says his organization, which produces conventions across the country including Awesome Con, does analysis to see what fans would be interested in seeing. The result is a mix of currently popular movies and TV shows and old favorites that bring the nostalgia. This year “Riverdale” stars Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones) and KJ Apa (Archie Andrews) will headline a panel

and meet and greet for fans. The wildly popular TV series is a darker reimagining of the classic Archie Comics with plenty of LGBTQ representation in its characters Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) and Kevin Keller (Casey Cott). Jon Bernthal (“Punisher,” “The Walking Dead”), Zach Callison, the voice of Steven on the hit cartoon “Steven Universe,” Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor on “Doctor Who,” Milo Ventimiglia (“This is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Stark Trek: Discovery”) and comedian/singer“Weird Al” Yankovic will also make appearances. The nostalgic con additions include reunions of the 1985 teen flick “Weird Science” with Kelly LeBrock, Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith, TV comedy “The Office” with Creed Bratton, Kate Flannery and Oscar Nunez, ‘90s film “Karate Kid”with Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, and Martin Kove, 1987 fantasy film “Princess Bride” with Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon and Wallace Shawn, the cast of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” including Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis and Wil Wheaton and Kevin Sorbo from the’90s series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.” DC and Warner Bros. have also partnered with Awesome Con to celebrate Batman’s 80th anniversary. Attendees will be able to view the iconic Bat suits from Michael Keaton to Ben Affleck and other movie props. Brister says it’s the type of exhibit you can usually only see somewhere like the Museum of Modern Art but it will be on view for con attendees at no additional cost. There will also be plenty of LGBTQ content to geek out on. The biggest gay celebrity to appear at Awesome Con this year will be con favorite John Barrowman. Fans grew to love him on shows such as “Torchwood,” “Doctor Who” and “Arrow” but his passion for conventions and his fans earned him a special place at Awesome Con. For the third year in a row, Barrowman will return to give a panel talk, meet and greet and photo-op. The actor has become known for strutting out in heels or elaborate cosplay for his panels and taking outrageous pictures with fans. His vibrant personality is something Brister says is always on. “John Barrowman is a funny guy. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, he does a number of our events. He’s a bit of a good luck charm,” Brister says. “Some celebrities don’t have that kind of energy level because the character may be high energy on the show that you love but in reality the actors may not be that person you want them to be when you meet them. John Barrowman is 100 percent that person you want him to be when you meet him so that’s why he’s been coming back

year after year.” British actor Tom Payne, who is straight, will be at the convention. Payne is best known for portraying openly gay character Jesus on “The Walking Dead.” Awesome Con has partnered with New York City-based nonprofit organization Geeks Out, Flame Con and the Washington Blade to bring LGBTQ content creators and con-goers together in Pride Alley. The section will be located in the Exhibit Hall which is open to attendees each day of the convention. Brister says that creators who identify as LGBTQ will be indicated on the program guide, mobile app and on their tables. Pride Alley is important to include, especially for teenagers and young adults, according to Brister. One of the goals of Pride Alley is to “make sure that younger audiences that are identifying that way and haven’t found their place in the world yet, have these examples of people who are working in these industries, who are out and working on some of the biggest books that DC and Marvel have to offer or they’re working on their own creative properties being published,” Brister says. “Hopefully the community at large sees this as a super positive experience,” Brister adds. Pride Alley artists include Rage Gear Studios, Simon Graves, Marta Mickelsen, Yinz, among others. Attendees can also drop in on Pride Alley panels such as Gender in SFF Fiction: Women & Nonbinary Authors, Exploring Gay and Lesbian Comic Creators, We ARE Gaymers! Be Proud, Crossplay 101, Marvel’s LGBT Legacy, among others. For those who want to delve into the science fiction world, Awesome Con and Smithsonian Magazine have teamed up to bring back Future Con which will have programming such as Putting the Pop Culture in STEM Education and Science Fiction to Fact: The Voyage of Biometrics. National Geographic, the National Science Foundation, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum are just a few science exhibitors that will be tabling the Exhibitors Hall. The little ones can get in on the fun with Awesome Con Jr., an interactive and family-friendly area where children can meet animals, catch a live lightsaber performance, learn spells, watch a Dreamworks screening or participate in the Kids Costume Parade. The amount of choices on what to do and who to see is exactly what Awesome Con organizers have been aiming for during their year-long convention preparation. “We try to make sure we have fandoms and talent whether it be on the celebrity side, authors or creators that appeals to all demographics, all age groups. We really want Awesome Con to truly have something for everybody,” Brister says.

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Queer your beer. &

2019 #PridePils Congratulations to Maggie Dougherty on her winning design!

Marsha P. Johnson 1945-1992

"Pay it no mind" All profits of can sales to benefit Blade Foundation & SMYAL

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Grand characters in ‘Grand Hotel’ By PATRICK FOLLIARD

+ Largest LGBT owned title company + Billions of dollars in transactions closed annually + 6 in house attorneys + Residential and commercial transactions + In home and in office refinance settlements + Licensed in DC, DE, MD, NJ, VA & WV

NICKI ELLEDGE as Flaemmchen ans NKRUMAH GATLING as Baron Felix von Gaigem in ‘Grand Hotel.’ Photo by C. Stanley Photography; courtesy Signature

“Grand Hotel” (now at Signature Theatre) is open for business. And from the look of the Berlin hotel’s swank lobby, it seems the epitome of elegance and order. But beneath that sleek façade lies something entirely different. Both guests and staff have a story and Robert Wright & George Forrest’s score gives them a chance to tell it. For instance hotel resident Colonel-Doctor Otternschlag (Lawrence Redmond), a veteran of the Great War with the scars and a morphine habit to prove it. His stabbing a needle into his forearm gives a glimpse into the place’s underbelly. Gravely ill Otto Kringelein (out actor Bobby Smith), the shabbily dressed accountant whose room reservation is reluctantly honored only after prized guest Baron Felix von Gaigern (Nkrumah Gatling) vouches for him, is Some think I should dress more like one. He’s cashed in his life savings to at last live a woman. Some think I should dress large and shake his lifelong schlemiel status more like a man. before he dies. And the handsome, young Baron who came to his assistance? He’s living on lies, theft and his good looks. In large sumptuous rooms, fading prima ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya (Natascia Diaz) seeks refuge from her very public professional demise. She wants to be alone. Her slavishly devoted assistant Raffaela (Crystal Mosser) longs for her boss to retire so they can retreat to a romantic villa far from what’s left of the fans and entourage. Just when it finally seems that dream is near, the ADVERTISING PROOF Baron reinvigorates the dancer’s passion as ISSUE DATE: 181026 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: evidenced in the actors’ chemistry. Please treat me the same way any And then there’s Flaemmchen, a bleached 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 person would want to be treated: blonde secretary with Hollywood ambitions, the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts NS omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is with courtesy and respect. responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users GN who isn’t averse to trading on her youth to can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or EVISIONS any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any hurry things up. Winningly played by Nicki copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right,based false advertising, unfair identity and Discrimination on gender /LOGO REVISIONS competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, Elledge (who looks plucked from the era), or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naffispitts omnimedia (dba the of Columbia. ADVERTISER SIGNATURE SIONS expression illegal in thellcDistrict 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 contract obligations with the 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 not limited toBerliner placement, the appealing is called to the hotel to 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. If you think you’ve been the target of and warranties. take dictation from an increasingly unsavory discrimination, visit www.ohr.dc.gov businessman, General Director Preysing or call (202) 727-4559. (Kevin McCallister), and reconsider her destiny. Set in the 1928, the show hints at portending economic and social upset, but GLBT for the moment, it’s a frantic pursuit of fun. AFFAIRS In the hotel bar, there’s Charleston dancing, flowing cocktails, a male couple tangoing and The Jimmys, an African-American song and Show your support! Spread word of the #TransRespect dance team played by Ian Anthony Coleman campaign by photographing this ad and sharing on Twitter. and Solomon Parker III, singing their jazz hot

I may not fit some ideas about gender, and I am a proud part of DC.


number, “Maybe My Baby Loves Me.” But a harsher reality exists below stairs for the hotel’s underpaid scullery workers, telephone operators, and onsite hookers. Young reception clerk Erik (Nicholas McDonough) works endless back-to-back shifts and deflects unwanted passes from his amorous boss Rohna (out actor Ben Gunderson) while his wife languishes in a hospital across town. It’s not easy. The Tony-winning 1989 musical is based on Austrian writer Vicki Baum’s 1929 novel. The book was also adapted to the big screen with the star-studded 1932 MGM film featuring Garbo, two Barrymores and an ascendant Crawford. At less than two- hours without intermission, Signature’s fleet-footed production confidently helmed by Eric Schaeffer, features peppy numbers choreographed by Kelly Crandall D’Amboise and melodic if not particularly memorable music, played by an able orchestra tucked out of sight behind a scrim on the lobby’s mezzanine floor. Set designer Paul Tate dePoo III transforms Signature’s large Max space into a luxe twostory art deco oasis. Out designer Robert Perdziola’s costumes the cast in a grayscale palette of clothes from era. Diaz’s ballerina is in fur trimmed, Erté-inspired traveling attire. Each look suits the wearers’ function and rank. Ultimately, stories wrap up abruptly and somewhat unsatisfyingly. The evening’s most compelling aspect is its look into the lives of two woman — one chasing a dream and the other losing her grip on success. While very different, Flaemmchen and Grushinskaya, (excellently assayed by Elledge and Diaz) are both resilient and moving forward. In “Grand Hotel,” classes and kinds intersect, if only for a short time, creating a mix prime for intrigue, romance, friendship and tragedy.

‘Grand Hotel’

Through May 19 Signature Theatre 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington $65-112 703-820-9771 sigtheatre.org

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A scene from ‘Threesome,’ one of the selections in this year’s Filmfest D.C. Photo courtesy Seville International

Filmfest D.C. returns Annual movie-thon again features plenty of local, queer content


Now in its 33rd year, Filmfest D.C. returns to celebrate International Cinema and Cultural Discovery. Over the course of 11 days, the festival will present 80 films from 45 countries, including several great movies that explore global LGBT diversity. Filmfest D.C. kicks off Thursday, April 25 with “Ladies in Black.” Written and directed by award-winning director Brue Beresford (“Tender Mercies,” “Breaker Morant”), the film is set in Sydney, Australia in 1959 and takes place in a glamorous upscale department store. The movie stars Julia Ormond and Angourie Rice (“Every Day”). The festival closes May 5 with “C’est La Vie,” a French dramedy about a frenzied caterer working on an extravagant highprofile wedding at a 17th-century chateau just outside of Paris. As usual, the offerings at Filmfest D.C. are organized under several broad themes. Trust No One focuses on espionage, crime and thrillers. One of the highlights in this category is the world premiere of “D.C. Noir,” an anthology of four stories written by acclaimed local author George Pelecanos. All of the films

were shot on location in D.C. and used alllocal crews. Pelecanos will be on hand for the screening. The Lighter Side, a collection of international comedies, includes two fun films on LGBT themes. Directed by Nicolas Monette, “Threesome” is a French Canadian sex farce. Overworked and undersatisfied, financial analyst Estelle lets three of her friends convince her that a threeway will reinvigorate her life. Despite all of her detailed spreadsheets and strategic plans, chaos ensues. In “Simple Wedding,” Nousha’s Iranian family is desperate for her to get married but things get complicated when she falls in love with Alex, an eccentric bisexual artist. Justice Matters focuses on filmmakers who use their talents to make audiences aware of injustices and to fight against them. In “Rafiki,” an award-winning film from Kenya, the injustice is the homophobia two young women encounter when they fall in love. The film was initially banned in Kenya, but opened to wild applause at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Director Wanuri Kahiu will attend the screening on April 26. Global Rhythms, films about music, includes the Canadian documentary “Hugh Hefner’s After Dark: Speaking Out m America.” Compiled from Hefner’s groundbreaking television shows “Playboy’s Penthouse” and “Playboy After Dark,” the movie features incredible performances by and hard-hitting discussions about race and sex with artists such as Moms Mabley, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Sammy Davis Jr., Dick Gregory, James Brown and Nina Simone. Finally, a new category called Foodflix, offers several fascinating films about food.

“Michelin Stars: Tales from the Kitchen,” a behind-the-scenes look at the famous restaurant guide, will be introduced by Washington’s own Michelin starred chef, Aaron Silverman. “The Best Sommelier in the World,” about the intense competition at the prestigious World Sommelier Competition, will be hosted by Lindsay Fern, sommelier at the renowned Inn at Little Washington. In addition to the outstanding featurelength films, Filmfest D.C. also included several great collections of shorts from around he world. Lunafest is an annual celebration of “short films by, for and about women.” In the very funny “Are We Good Parents?” American director Bola Ogun looks at two frenzied parents (Tracie Thoms and Sean Maguire) who question their parenting skills and their preconceived notions about their daughter’s sexuality as she gets ready for her first school dance. The collection Metro Shorts includes the excellent short film “The Pick Up” about a sullen teenager, a flat tire and an unexpected revelation. Director Giovanna Chesler, a professor at George Mason University, will be at the screening on Sunday, April 28. And Short Cuts 1 and Short Cuts 2 include several short films on LGBT themes. “Masks” is about a closeted medical student who fears she will be outed when a masked gunman opens fire at a gay nightclub. The documentary “Sweetheart Dancers” is about Sean and Adrian, a two-spirit couple who try to rewrite the rules of Native-American culture through their participation in a powwow dance competition that defines a couple as a man and a woman. “Welcome to the Ball” is about two young children who break through traditional concepts of gender and disability. Finally, Filmfest D.C. will offer an exciting new cinematic experience, “Traveling While Black.” Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams, the movie is an immersive 3-D 360-degree virtual reality documentary that explores the history of Ben’s Chili Bowl. Founded in 1958, the iconic D.C. restaurant was listed in the “Green Book,” a guide to U.S. restaurants that would serve African Americans. The 21-minute film is a powerful exploration of discrimination, the imposition of restricted movements and the creation of safe spaces. Screenings will be held at Ben’s Chili Bowl April 2829. Admission to the special event are free, but reservations are required. There will also be a panel discussion on Sunday, April 28.

Filmfest D.C.

April 25-May 5 Landmark’s E Street Cinema and AMC Mazza Gallerie Theatres Tickets and schedules available at filmfestdc.org

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Gay hockey?

Local enthusiast working to revive dormant sport By KEVIN MAJOROS



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Annual discount on one land line service per household.

for more info call 311 or visit doee.dc.gov/udp

To apply for the telephone Lifeline Service (Economy II), call 800-253-0846. These programs are for DC residents only.

JUSTIN DEL ROSARIO says his work experience will come in handy launching Gay Hockey D.C. Photo courtesy del Rosario

After a long absence in Washington, hockey for gays has reemerged as Gay Hockey D.C. In the mid-2000s, a loosely held together group of LGBT hockey players were active in D.C., even fielding a team for the Gay Games. When Justin del Rosario began searching the area for an LGBT-inclusive group, he discovered they had disbanded. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, del Rosario participated in judo but found the competitive aspect to be stressful. At the University of Utah, he was in the ROTC program and served in the Utah Army National Guard. He was called to active duty after 9/11 and his duties included a stint in Hawaii with the Department of Defense. A new assignment brought del Rosario to the D.C. area and after turning 40, he began setting new goals for himself including learning how to play hockey. Last July, he began taking adult classes at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex and has advanced through its hockey skating skills curriculum. Realizing he loved what he was doing and wanting to share it, he began the research to form an LGBT-based hockey group. “I want to provide a foundation for people who are interested in the sport,”

del Rosario says. “I am drawing on my professional work experience which includes an ability to organize people.” He started by contacting a local coach and reaching out to the Washington Capitals. He then established communication with other LGBT-based hockey organizations like the New York City Gay Hockey Association and Boston Pride for guidance on their experiences and partnerships. Last fall, Gay Hockey D.C. began hosting periodic Hockey Brunch Sunday events to solicit perspective members. It was an opportunity meet people, learn about their experiences and build momentum. “We are customizing what we offer to fit the hockey climate in D.C.,” del Rosario says. “Hockey players tend to join multiple groups and there are a lot of beer leagues in the area.” On Saturday, April 20 from 1:30-2:40 p.m., Gay Hockey D.C. will hold its first “Stick-n-Shoot” event at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. It will be the first step on the ice in the journey to forming a team. “I have been drawn to hockey since watching it as a kid at the Olympics,” del Rosario says. “We are hoping to build a strong gay/straight alliance and share the sport to a wider community of people who might not have played otherwise.”

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Rocking the boat Closeted gay guy fears workplace homophobia

MICHAEL, I’m a 24 year-old gay man, low-key, don’t like to draw attention to myself. I work as a contractor with the military here in D.C. I really love my job and would like to continue doing work like I’m doing now for the long term. However, I’m in a tough situation. I’ve been on my current project for the last eight months and the people I work with make a lot of casually homophobic remarks. I’m not out at work and from the way the people around me talk, I’m sure they don’t think I’m gay. I am finding this very difficult to endure. Their comments are offensive. I want to speak up but I’m worried that if I do, I could hurt or derail my career. There are non-discrimination rules in place, but I’m worried I’d get a reputation for causing trouble and then have some sort of negativity directed toward me that would somehow cause problems for my career going forward. But it’s upsetting to listen to people say hateful comments about gay people even if they’re not said in a malicious way toward me. Everything is said in a spirit of just joking around. But it stings. I’d like to let it roll off my back but I’m having trouble ignoring this. While I love the work I do, I’m starting to hate going into the office. I just get really depressed having to face this, day in, day out. And I’m feeling increasingly anxious, waiting for the next nasty remark. MICHAEL REPLIES: Little wonder you are feeling depressed and anxious. Having to endure homo-negative comments while feeling powerless to speak up is rough. This is the experience of the closet, which you are in at work, at least. Being in the closet takes an awful toll on mental health. It’s difficult to feel good about yourself when you are pretending to be someone you’re not, monitoring what you say and how you act out of fear of giving away your secret. Of course there are many good reasons, even in the United States today, to remain in the closet. I understand you could damage your reputation and your career. Many people justifiably fear losing their jobs, their friends and their family. And of course, in some parts of the world,

you can lose your life if you come out. However you might also consider the costs to your well-being of remaining closeted at work and weigh them against the potential consequences to you of speaking out. For example: How does striving to give your colleagues the impression that you’re not gay affect you at the office? In addition to making you anxious and depressed (which are themselves severe consequences), you may well be feeling isolated, given that you can’t let anyone get too close to you. Does keeping your colleagues at a distance affect how they interact with you? Often people sense that there is something “off” about a closeted colleague. You may be seen as aloof, secretive, unfriendly or even strange. Any and all of those impressions may negatively impact your career. What about stress? When you have a secret, fear of discovery can eat away at you and make it nearly impossible to relax. Short- and long-term effects of stress range from discomfort to illness to death. You haven’t mentioned whether or not you’re closeted in other parts of your life. I understand your reasons for not being out at work, but I wonder if you may have negative feelings about being gay that lead you to see coming out at work in an even less favorable light. If this is the case, please consider working with a gaypositive therapist to challenge your gaynegative feelings. Disliking a vital part of yourself makes for a terrible existence. This is your life to live. It is no one else’s place to tell you that you must confront bigotry when doing may have some major negative consequences to you, even if that bigotry is itself hurting you. That said, change happens when people take a stand on issues that they care deeply about, despite the price they may pay. When we can find the strength to do so, the increased self-esteem and satisfaction that come from working to make a positive difference to our world may outweigh the sacrifices and pain we endure for putting ourselves on the line. If you do find it in yourself to take the risk of speaking up, you might find that by coming out you help to change the attitudes of the people around you. Although there are no guarantees, when people come to really know people who are different, they are more likely to accept difference.

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Keep your promise to protect each other.

Wills & Trusts Powers of Attorney • Living Wills Partnership & Prenuptial Agreements

(240) 778-2330 • (703) 536-0220 www.PartnerPlanning.com

Serving the LGBT Community in DC/MD/VA since 1983 Lawrence S. Jacobs/McMillan Metro, PC

Cute and comfy compacts. They may not be as snuggly as teddy bears, or leather bears for that matter, but they handle well, fit anywhere and are surprisingly spacious. Priced around $20,000, these pint-sized rides are a bargain, especially when the average price of a vehicle today is, gulp, $33,500. FIAT 500 $17,000 MPG: 28 city/33 highway Zero-60 mph: 8.1 seconds


Cute and comfy compacts

Pint-sized rides offer bargain in pricey auto market By JOE PHILLIPS

Forget the “Fix It Again Tony” stigma, I think there’s still something sexy about a Fiat 500. Produced from 1957-1975, this minicar was resurrected in 2007 and landed on U.S. shores five years later. Like the modish Mini Cooper, the Fiat’s funky design has staying power. There also are nifty color packages to offset the standard black, white and red. What the 500 lacked was an engine with enough oomph, which is why a frisky turbo is now standard across the lineup. For more zip, there’s the sportier yet pricier Abarth model. The base-model Pop comes with rearview camera, voice controls and heated side mirrors, while the mid-level Lounge adds a blast of bling: chrome shift knob, chrome-heated side mirrors, heated seats and auto-dimming rearview mirror with microphone. The Lounge also has a fixed glass roof, making the cabin feel larger than it is. And for audiophiles, the optional Beats premium stereo is a must. But there are a few downsides, such as so-so fuel economy and — horrors! — no smartphone capability. The retro interior dash is playful but limited, especially with the dinky infotainment screen. Still, the 500 is a fun fashion accessory, even if it showcases a bit more style than substance. KIA FORTE EX $22,000 MPG: 30 city/40 highway Zero-60 mph: 8.2 seconds If the definition of “forte” means best and brightest, then the completely redesigned Kia Forte fits the bill. Well, almost. The raves include a knock-out design, wonderful gas mileage and an unexpectedly zippy engine in the top-end EX model. Ride and handling are akin to a base BMW, with feather-light steering, level cornering and grippy tires. And the breadth of features is mind boggling: heated/ventilated seats, windshield wiper de-icer, nav system with voice controls,

lots of USB ports, a wireless device charger and more. Oh, and the trunk is ginormous. Yet there are a few rants, such as the infotainment system that conked out more than once during my week-long test drive. Yes, those Harman Kardan speakers created spectacular sound. But being held hostage to one radio channel for 10 minutes and not being able to turn the volume down was a bummer. Also, insulation is obviously sparse in the noisy interior. And yet, at this very affordable price, you get much more than you pay for including smartphone integration, remote start, blind-spot monitor, collisionavoidance system and lane-departure warning. The Launch Edition package adds a power sunroof, wireless phone charger, graphite-finish alloys, sexy rear spoiler and other goodies. As if all this wasn’t enough, Hyundai boasts a stellar 10-year/100,000mile powertrain warranty, with a basic warranty (and roadside assistance) for five years or 60,000 miles. TOYOTA COROLLA HATCHBACK XSE $23,000 MPG: 28 city/37 highway Zero-60 mph: 7.5 seconds While the Corolla has been one of the best-selling cars in the world, a bevy of competitors has elbowed in with cheekier, racier rides. So Toyota rejiggered the design, tossed in the latest tech doohickeys and voila!, this staid, dependable workhorse now looks and handles like a ramped-up tuner car. Adding to the glitz, some Corolla colors are the same vibrant shade as those eye-popping pastel wigs in a RuPaul drag race. The cabin is full of faux leather and aluminum trim, with glossy black accents. And the modern dash is intuitive to use, with a raised eight-inch touchscreen to help keep eyes on the road. Toyota didn’t skimp on safety features, which include pedestrian detection, automatic high-beams, an external camera that reads road sings and a lane-assist feature to keep the vehicle centered in its lane. This hatchback (to be followed by the 2020 sedan) is lower, wider and shorter than before, with plenty of headroom. Alas, rear-seat legroom is tight, with seatbacks that don’t recline. And cargo room is fairly limited. But this is a compact car, after all, perfect for city driving and parking. With Toyota’s high marks for reliability and resale values, this hatchback is back to being a real contender.

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Coat: Arti 50393665 $575 Pant: Hesten 50393673 $228

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Avalon Saturdays

Fashion expert on the original ‘Queer Eye’ Carson Kressley and entertainer Todrick Hall made an appearance at the Avalon Saturdays LGBT dance party at Soundcheck on April 13. Washington Blade photos by Molly Byrom

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Get Your Tickets to the Maker of Zoe Today!

Friday, May 17th at 7:00 PM Saturday, May 18th at 1:00 PM & 7:00 PM Doors Open One Hour Before ShowTime. Late Seating Ends Thirty Minutes After ShowTime

In the heart of Washington DC, Avery, an outwardly confident and whimsical toy designer, finds true meaning and purpose, after a supernatural encounter with an angelic messenger. Avery is transported to the Land of Zoe and embarks on a journey filled with mystery and wonder. This moving and suspenseful tale will delight and intrigue audiences, as it unfolds the truth of The Maker’s Love for all and looks at the common misconceptions of Scripture concerning homosexuality. You will be moved by this inspirational and entertaining performance, enjoy a delicious Italian Dinner served right to your table, and help support God’s message of love for all people!

$37.50 Includes Admission to the Play & your choice of: ~ Regular or Gluten Free Pasta ~ Meat Sauce, Turkey Meat Sauce or Vegetarian Sauce ~ Fresh Garden Salad w/Dressing Choice & Garlic Bread ~ Decadent Chocolate or Lemon Pound Cake ~ Water, Tea, or Lemonade

All Proceeds Support the MCCDC Drama Ministry!

474 Ridge St. Washington DC 20001 mccdc.com/mccdc-fund-raising-events/


Concessions Available For Sale in the Lobby

Thank you for supporting LGBTQ & Woman’s owned small business!


ISSUE DATE: 04.01.16



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 date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts 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 can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations and warranties.

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By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contract obligations with the washington blade newspaper. This includes but is not limited to placement, payment and insertion schedule.

We believe that to create an exceptional community of culture, it takes all kinds.

The Ingleside Communities Are Proud We are proud to be advocates for an entire new generation of diversity, of our great history, and heritage of serving Washington, DC area seniors. Our legacy of promoting a culture of inclusion provides extraordinary service and exceptional care. Visit us today, and discover what engaged living can mean to you!

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Ingleside at Rock Creek and Ingleside at King Farm are not-for-profit, CARF accredited, continuing care retirement communities. 5 2 • WAS H IN GTO N B LAD E.CO M • AP R IL 1 9 , 2 0 1 9

Navigating D.C.’s market as a foreign buyer I’ve helped visitors from Mexico, Vietnam, Argentina and elsewhere By JOSEPH HUDSON In this week’s column I would like to address the international community’s presence here in the Washington, D.C. area and how being a foreign citizen or speaking another language can help, complicate, or be addressed in a real estate transaction. I speak Spanish, as a result of living in Mexico as an exchange student. I have had clients buy property who speak Spanish, have had Russian money involved in a purchase, had an Argentinean client, a Vietnamese speaking client, several Mexican clients, and have met countless people at open houses who live in other countries part time or full time, yet want to buy property in this thriving metro area that is D.C. One of my clients recently bought his first property in Berlin, Germany. He had to provide his own kitchen, and in Germany the BUYER pays the commission, not the seller. A few things to think of when planning to purchase property as a foreign citizen or someone who lives abroad: • Is the money readily available to be deposited in the U.S.? Are there money transfer issues to be aware of if your money is in a foreign bank account? Does the money have to be transferred in chunks? I recently heard of an agent who had a Chinese client and the money could only come to the U.S. in certain amounts at one time. • Will the property be a primary residence? Will it be an investment? Do you think you want to rent it out when you are not here or have it available on AirBnB or a similar website? Does the building

Buying in D.C. as a foreign citizen presents unique challenges. Photo by Andy Dean Photography; Photo courtesy of Bigstock

allow rentals or AirBnB? • Are the title company and lender able to work with someone that has other foreign language needs? Does the buyer speak enough English that the transaction can be conducted in that language? • Does someone’s birth name or what is on their passport correspond to what name they use in daily life? What name needs to be on the contract? • Is there going to be power of attorney needed for one member of the transaction because they are out of the country? One client I had almost got writer’s cramp because she had to sign for her foreign born husband with several names and

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write her name and also “Attorney in Fact.” • Is the contract fully understood by all parties involved in the transaction? Do the addendums and home inspection list make sense? • Is the settlement scheduled at a time that works for all parties? Does someone need to “pre-sign” because they will be out of the country at the time of settlement or do they need to get a power of attorney? Foreign investment in the U.S. is a common occurrence. As an agent, I just need to find and utilize the resources available to make sure my clients are represented to the fullest, and understand all the nuts and bolts of the transaction that

they will be taking part in. For more questions about real estate please contact Joe Hudson at the Oakley Group with Compass Real Estate. My next homebuyer seminar is going to be in May in Arlington, Va. Email me to find out more. Si usted esta interesado en aprender más de como comprar a una casa, escribeme! Joseph.Hudson@compass.com

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with The Oakley Group at Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or Joseph.hudson@compass.com.



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ACADEMY OF HOPE Adult PCS seeks a qualified fundraising event planner to manage all aspects of a unique fundraising gala to be held in April 2020. The full RFP can be found on our website www.aohdc.org. Responses should be provided in electronic format and emailed to joy@aohdc.org by Friday, April 19, 2019. Please contact Joy at 202-269-6623 Ext. 109 with any questions.

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