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The Blade is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special commemorative issue this week.

06 08 10 13 16

Looking back:


Blade 50

50 years of the Blade


Great queer way

U.S. Attorney suggests possible


Three strikes you’re OUT!

change in D.C. hate crimes law


Annie’s and the Blade: a

1 trans woman stabbed, another

symbiotic relationship

carjacked after dating app meeting


From coming out to coming of age

Buttigieg delivers forceful


Small ensembles unite for concert

debate performance


A 50-year gay love affair with cars

San Salvador mayor talks marriage


Authentic and affirming,

equality during D.C. visit 19


Octane fuels change 108





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U.S. Attorney suggests possible change in D.C. hate crimes law Head prosecutor says ambiguity causes jury confusion By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, JESSI K. LIU said certain language in the D.C. Bias Related Crimes Act of 1989 has confused jurors.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessi K. Liu, told an Oct. 10 meeting of her office’s Hate Bias Crimes Task Force that less than clear language in the city’s hate crimes law has made it difficult for prosecutors to obtain convictions in hate crime cases. Liu said she and her team of prosecutors believe certain language in the D.C. Bias Related Crimes Act of 1989 has resulted in the drafting of instructions for juries that have confused jurors and made them more likely to find a defendant not guilty of a hate crime even when the evidence of a hate motivated crime is very strong. “We’re continuing to look at whether there are revisions to the D.C. code, the bias related crimes statute that might be advisable,” said Liu, who noted discussion on this question surfaced at a meeting of the task force earlier this year. “We had a discussion about what are some of the challenges and limitations of the statute and are there improvements that could be made and that ought to be suggested,” she said. “So we welcome anybody’s input on that.” The meeting last week of the Hate Bias Crimes Task Force, which was held at the city’s Reeves Center municipal building, took place two months after the Washington Post reported in an investigative story on D.C. hate crimes that the U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped the hate crime designation

for most people charged with a hate crime by D.C. police in 2018. In its examination of 2018 hate crimes cases in D.C., the Post found that out of 204 reported hate crime cases, D.C. police made arrests in 59 of those cases involving adult offenders. But the Post found that the U.S. Attorney’s Office only prosecuted three of them as hate crimes, deciding to drop the hate crime designation made by D.C. police in all the other cases. At least nine of the 2018 reported hate crimes cases involved LGBT people as victims, including transgender women. Liu has said in the past that prosecutors in her office carefully review all cases brought by D.C. police and drop the hate crime designation only in cases where there is insufficient evidence to secure a conviction by a jury. The Washington Blade asked Liu about her office’s decision to drop most of the hate crime designations for the 2018 cases in an interview after last week’s task force meeting ended. “I guess the first point I want to make about that is that we do prosecute the vast majority of the underlying crimes in those cases,” Liu said. “So I think it is important for everybody to understand that,” she said. “The other thing I think is very important for people to understand is that the D.C. police have different standards for flagging potential bias related crimes than we do when they bring charges,” she continued. She noted that the D.C. police standard instructs officers investigating a crime to check a box on a reporting form when they “have reason to believe” a possible bias crime was committed. “We have to show it being a bias related offense beyond a reasonable doubt,” Liu said. “So it is a much higher standard.” During the Oct. 10 meeting, which more than a dozen LGBT activists attended, Liu reported she has made a number of changes in her office’s violence related crime program that she believes has strengthened the office’s ability to investigate and prosecute hate crimes. Among other things, she said she has put in place a second hate crimes coordinator and hired an experienced prosecutor from the Office of the D.C.

Attorney General, Barbara Chesser, to serve as the new Chief of the office’s Early Case Assessment Section, which acts like an intake section. Chesser, who spoke at the meeting, described in detail how her section carefully screens all arrests by D.C. police and other law enforcement agencies with a biasrelated crime designation. She noted that under the city’s hate crimes law, a hate crime designation cannot be made unless there is sufficient evidence to prosecute an arrested person on the underlying crime such as assault and a long list of other offenses. “Sometimes looking at the hate bias evidence, it’s fine to start the charge right there and then and add the [hate] enhancement,” she said. “And sometimea the offense and the enhancement could use more investigation. It can use more time than we can give it on the day the case comes in because we have to get our cases to court on the same day the arrests come to us,” she continued. “So in those cases we can charge the underlying offense and send the enhancement portion to a grand jury for further investigation,” Chesser told those attending the meeting. She said that as part of the investigation her office goes beyond what police may have looked at such as checking social media to see if the person arrested has a history of making bias or hate related statements against various groups. Also speaking at the meeting was Charles Willoughby, who Liu recently named as Deputy Chief of the office’s   Misdemeanor Section and as Hate Crimes Coordinator. Among community members attending the meeting who asked questions about the office’s prosecution of hate crimes were Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance President Bobbi Strang, transgender activist Dee Curry, and lesbian activist Jan Hamilton. In discussing her concern that the D.C. hate crimes law has flawed language, Liu explained that the jury instructions to which she referred are drafted by a special committee associate with the courts. But she said members of the committee have said the instructions they make are based on their interpretation of the law. Liu told the meeting last week a

dispute over the interpretation of a section of the law that defines how a hate crime should be defined for a jury and how jury instructions should be crafted is currently before the D.C. Court of Appeals, which is expected to issue a ruling on the matter in the near future. According to Liu, the dispute centers on whether a jury is required to find that bias or hate was the sole motive for an underlying crime in order to find the defendant guilty of a hate crime enhancement of the underlying offense. She said that interpretation has confused juries when the defense argues that other motives were at play such as an argument or dispute, making it harder to obtain a conviction. “Our position is as a legal matter we would read that all we have to show is that bias is a motivating factor,” Liu said. “And there could be other factors motivating what happened but the bias is one of perhaps several motivating factors,” she said. “That is not clear in the law,” Liu said. “We have had defense counsel argue that this statute requires that bias is the only reason for the offense. That is now in front of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Under the city’s hate crimes law, a conviction on a hate crime designation could subject the defendant to a sentence one and a half times greater than a conviction without the bias crime enhancement. D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) told the Blade on Tuesday he is skeptical about Liu’s assertion that the Bias Related Crimes Act’s language is unclear and could be the cause of a jury finding people not guilty of hate crimes. However, Mendelson said that if Liu can show that the law in some way is restricting the interpretation by courts to require juries to find that bias is the sole motivation in order to hand down a conviction, he thinks the Council would be open to look at a possible change in the law. Mendelson said the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety is scheduled to examine the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s prosecution of the crimes at a hearing on Oct. 23. He said that would be the appropriate place for Liu to raise the issue of a possible need to change the hate crimes law.

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10/3/19 2:12 PM

1 trans woman stabbed, another carjacked after dating app meeting D.C. police are seeking help from the public in identifying a male suspect who allegedly met two transgender women through a dating app known as Tagged and forced one of them to turn over her car at knifepoint and stabbed and robbed the other victim. Police reports for the two incidents say the perpetrator, believed to be the same person, met the first victim through the Tagged app and arranged to have her pick him up on Oct. 7 at approximately 4:45 a.m. Anyone who can identify the in a parking lot at an apartment building at suspect shown in the photo released by police should call 4238 4th St., S.E.  202-727-9099. “Once at the listed location, the suspect brandished a knife and demanded the victim’s property and vehicle,” according to an Oct. 15 police statement. “The victim complied and the suspect fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle,” the statement says.  The statement says that on Tuesday, Oct. 15, the second victim and the suspect arranged through the Tagged app to meet at the same location at 4238 4th St., S.E. at approximately 3:32 a.m.  “Once at the listed location, the suspect brandished a knife and assaulted the victim inside of a vehicle,” the statement says. “The suspect then fled the scene with the victim’s property,” it says. “The victim sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to an area hospital for medical treatment.” The statement says the suspect in the case from Oct. 7 was captured by a surveillance camera and can be seen in photos released by D.C. police. “The suspect in both cases is described as a black male who is 6’-6’2” in height, with medium complexion,” according to the statement. “The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating these cases as potentially being related,” the statement continues. “In each of the above cases, transgender individuals were victimized after utilizing the Tagged online application,” it says, adding that department’s Special Liaison Branch is assisting in the investigation. Lt. Brett Parson, who heads SLB, told the Blade the LGBT Liaison Unit, which is part of the SLB, is participating in the investigation. Anyone who can identify the suspect shown in the photos released by police should call 202-727-9099 or text their tip to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE at 50411, the statement says.  LOU CHIBBARO JR.

SMYAL to honor Washington Blade SMYAL last week announced its honorees who will be recognized at Sunday’s annual brunch event, including the Washington Blade, which will be presented with the Todd Peterson Award. “In today’s climate, it is increasingly important to have journalism that captures the LGBTQ movement as we continue the struggle for full equality,” SMYAL said in a statement. “Since 1969, the Washington Blade has worked to tell the stories of the LGBTQ community of the D.C. metro area. The Washington Blade has also been an incredible partner of SMYAL’s, helping to amplify the stories and voices of LGBTQ youth. We are grateful for the leadership of the Washington Blade’s owners Lynne [Brown], Kevin [Naff], and Brian [Pitts] in their efforts to document the history and culture of our community.”  Ava Benach is slated to receive the Community Advocate Award. Benach is one of the top immigration lawyers in the area focused on representing transgender asylum seekers.  The brunch will be held Sunday, Oct. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the Marriott Marquis. STAFF REPORTS

Logan Circle residents attend town hall on sex work By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM

Several candidates challenging D.C. Council member Jack Evans for the Ward 2 Council seat attending the town hall, including gay candidate JOHN FANNING. Photo courtesy of Fanning

About 45 people turned out Tuesday night at National City Christian Church in Thomas Circle for an LGBT Town Hall on Sex Work to discuss a bill pending before the D.C. Council that would decriminalize sex work between consenting adults in the nation’s capital. Organizers of the event, all of whom support the proposed legislation, said their aim was to open a dialogue and provide what they believe to be accurate information on the impact of sex work decriminalization on Ward 2 and the city’s Logan Circle neighborhood, where sex workers for years have congregated on certain streets. The organizers said the LGBT community, especially the transgender community, is disproportionately impacted by issues of poverty and lack of access to formal employment, making sex work for many in the LGBT community a means of survival. Among those who helped organize the town hall meeting and who spoke on a panel were Madeleine Stirling, a Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner; Tyrone Hanley, an official with the D.C. Sex Worker Action Coalition, which is lobbying for passage of the decriminalization bill; and Tamika Spellman, an official with the D.C. sex worker advocacy and services organization HIPS, who said she is a former sex worker. Other panelists included Benjamin Brooks, an official with Whitman-Walker Health; Kate D’Adamo, who advocates for sex worker rights; Randy Downs, a

Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner; and Matt Nocella, a spokesperson for the D.C. Council, who discussed the contents and wording of the proposed decriminalization bill. D’Adamo and Spellman gave presentations on the difference between and impacts in other states and countries between “full” decriminalization of sex work for both sex workers and their customers, “partial” decriminalization, in which sex workers themselves would be free from arrest and prosecution but buyers or clients would continue to be subject to arrest and prosecution; and full legalization. The two said nearly all sex worker advocates oppose full legalization, citing the example of the state of Nevada, where they said there are draconian restrictions on how and where sex workers can operate. Under state law and regulation, sex workers in Nevada must become employees of just six brothels. If they engage in sex work outside those brothels they are subjected to some of the nation’s most severe antiprostitution laws, according to D’Adamo. The partial decriminalization structure, which is in effect in some foreign countries, continues the stigma and potential fear of arrest for sex workers because it subjects their customers to arrest and prosecution, forcing them to operate in the same clandestine way they did when sex work was illegal for them. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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Buttigieg delivers forceful debate performance Clashes over health care, guns, war in Syria By CHRIS JOHNSON CJOHNSON@WASHBLADE.COM

PETE BUTTIGIEG (left) delivered a strong debate performance on Tuesday (pictured with ANDREW YANG, center, and BETO O’ROURKE). Screen capture via CNN

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg delivered a forceful performance during the Democratic debate Tuesday night, demonstrating a rare knack for both rising above the fray and engaging in it. The contradictory — but effective — approach from the gay candidate during the debate in Westerville, Ohio, was seen in particular toward the end when Joseph Biden and Elizabeth Warren were quarreling. Buttigieg responded, “For every argument that I’ve witnessed like this I could pay for college for everybody,” then knocked Biden for calling President Trump an “aberration” and accused Warren of fostering “infinite partisan combat.” “We have to fight for the big changes at hand,” Buttigieg added. “But it’s going to take more than fighting. Once again, I want to take you back to that day after Trump has stopped being president. Think about what the president can do to unify a new American majority for some of the boldest things we’ve attempted in my lifetime: Medicare for All Who Want It, actually getting something done on immigration for the first time since the 80s, an assault weapons ban, which would be a huge deal, making college free for low and middle income students. Yet there’s some here on this stage who say it doesn’t count unless we go even further.” At other times during the evening, Buttigieg engaged with his competitors for the Democratic nomination with a ferocity that showed the passion of his beliefs and desire to build a consensus to get things done. When Buttigieg was asked about Beto O’Rourke’s proposed mandatory buyback for assault weapons, he said the

plan was insufficiently fleshed out at a time when action is needed. “We can’t wait,” Buttigieg said. “People are dying in the streets right now.  We can’t wait for universal background checks that we finally have a shot to actually get through.  We can’t wait to ban the sale of new weapons and high-capacity magazines so we don’t wind up with millions more of these things on the street.  We can’t wait for red flag laws that are going to disarm domestic abusers and prevent suicides, which are not being talked about nearly enough as a huge part of the gun violence epidemic in this country.  We cannot wait for purity tests. We have to just get something done.” O’Rourke responded his plan was “not a purity test” and those other proposals aren’t mutually exclusive from his plan, but Buttigieg would have none of it. “I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal,” Buttigieg said. “Everyone on this stage is determined to get something done.  Everyone on this stage recognizes, or at least I thought we did, that the problem is not other Democrats who don’t agree with your particular idea of how to handle this. The problem is the National Rifle Association and their enablers in Congress, and we should be united in taking the fight to them.” Amid an unfolding crisis in Syria after President Trump green-lit an invasion by Turkey, Buttigieg also came out on top in an exchange with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard, who has called for an end to “regime change wars,” urged the audience to “understand the reality”


the situation is the result of American presence in the region. Channeling bipartisan anger over the worsening situation, Buttigieg said the only reality was Trump’s failure. “Well, respectfully, Congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong,” Buttigieg said. “The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence. It’s a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.” Buttigieg, who has also called for an end to endless war, said he didn’t think the Iraq war was right in the first place and the time has come to leave Afghanistan, but the small number of U.S. special operations units in Syria were keeping peace in the region. “Meanwhile, soldiers in the field are reporting that for the first time they feel ashamed — ashamed — of what their country has done,” Buttigieg said. “We saw the spectacle, the horrifying sight of a woman with the lifeless body of her child in her arms asking, what the hell happened to American leadership? And when I was deployed, I knew one of the things keeping me safe was the fact that the flag on my shoulder represented a country known to keep its word. And our allies knew it and our enemies knew it. You take that away, you are taking away what makes America America.”  Gabbard responded Buttigieg was supporting U.S. presence in Syria for “an indefinite period.” That presence, Gabbard said, has caused refugees to flee Syria, undermined U.S. national security and fostered terrorist groups in the Middle East. Buttigieg’s response: That’s Trumpian. “You can put an end to endless war without embracing Donald Trump’s policy, as you’re doing,” Buttigieg said. Gabbard continued to interject about endless war, but Buttigieg kept with the refrain about the United States keeping its word. “Part of what makes it possible for the United States to get people to put their lives on the line to back us up is the idea that we will back them up, too,” Buttigieg said. “When I was deployed, not just the Afghan National Army forces, but the janitors put their lives on the line just by working with U.S. forces. I would have a hard time today looking an Afghan civilian or soldier

in the eye after what just happened over there. And it is undermining the honor of our soldiers. You take away the honor of our soldiers, you might as well go after their body armor next. This president has betrayed American values. Our credibility has been tattered.”  In contrast to Buttigieg, Warren and Biden — the two frontrunners in the Democratic primary — didn’t have as good a night. Warren faced heavy questioning on whether her plan for Medicare for All would result in a middle class tax hike and didn’t provide a definite answer, while Biden was on defense following an interview his son Hunter Biden did on “Good Morning America” in which he admitted he shouldn’t have been on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. A recent poll in Iowa that showed big gains for Buttigieg may be responsible for bolstering his debate performance.  A CBS News poll revealed he has support from 14 percent of Iowa Democrats, which puts him in striking distance of Biden and Warren, who were at 22 percent, and Bernie Sanders, who was at 21 percent. For Buttigieg, that’s a growth of seven percentage points since September. No mention of LGBT issues came up during the debate. (The exception being a question that referenced the controversial friendship revealed last week between Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush). Kasey Suffredini, incoming CEO of Freedom for All Americans, said in a statement last week debate moderators missed an opportunity to discuss the Equality Act. “Just one week after the Supreme Court heard arguments in three LGBTQ workplace discrimination cases –  in which the court will decide whether to make it legal to fire LGBTQ workers just because of who they are – it was disappointing to hear no mention during tonight’s debate of the Equality Act, which would provide express and enduring nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ Americans in all areas of daily life,” Suffredini said. “With nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ Americans reporting having faced some kind of discrimination just because of who they are, and 70 percent of Americans from all walks of life supporting nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, the time to act is now.”


This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY and does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your condition and your treatment.

MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including: } Worsening of Hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV-1 and HBV, your HBV may suddenly get worse if you stop taking BIKTARVY. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months.

ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults. It can either be used in people who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before, or people who are replacing their current HIV-1 medicines and whose healthcare provider determines they meet certain requirements. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS. Do NOT take BIKTARVY if you also take a medicine that contains: } dofetilide } rifampin } any other medicines to treat HIV-1

BEFORE TAKING BIKTARVY Tell your healthcare provider if you: } Have or have had any kidney or liver problems, including hepatitis infection. } Have any other health problems. } Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BIKTARVY can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking BIKTARVY. } Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take: } Keep a list that includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist. } BIKTARVY and other medicines may affect each other. Ask your healthcare provider and pharmacist about medicines that interact with BIKTARVY, and ask if it is safe to take BIKTARVY with all your other medicines.

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POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF BIKTARVY BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including: } Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY” section. } Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking BIKTARVY. } Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys. If you develop new or worse kidney problems, they may tell you to stop taking BIKTARVY. } Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. } Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain. } The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (6%), and headache (5%). These are not all the possible side effects of BIKTARVY. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking BIKTARVY. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY. HOW TO TAKE BIKTARVY Take BIKTARVY 1 time each day with or without food. GET MORE INFORMATION } This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more. } Go to or call 1-800-GILEAD-5. } If you need help paying for your medicine, visit for program information.

BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, DAILY CHARGE, the DAILY CHARGE Logo, KEEP PUSHING, LOVE WHAT’S INSIDE, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. Version date: December 2018 © 2019 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. BVYC0103 02/19

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Because HIV doesn’t change who you are. BIKTARVY® is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in certain adults. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS.

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10/10/19 11:01 AM


San Salvador mayor talks marriage equality during D.C. visit

ERNESTO MUYSHONDT Photo via Facebook

The mayor of El Salvador’s capital talked about marriage equality in his country during a visit to D.C. earlier this month. El Tiempo Latino, a Spanish-language newspaper in D.C., asked Ernesto Muyshondt about the issue during an Oct. 2 interview. Muyshondt said he is not reluctant to talk about it within his Republican Nationalist Alliance (ARENA) party. Muyshondt nevertheless called out ultraconservatives and other ARENA members who do not support the issue, especially given they put it and abortion on the same line with the LGBTI community’s rights. “I think that these issues can be debated openly; we have to respect the rights of other people,” declared the San Salvador mayor. “The right to life is the main human right and I think that ARENA should be a pro-life party. From there the freedom of every person to live their sexual orientation and preference, etc., should also be respected.” LGBT activists in El Salvador, for their part, have welcomed Muyshondt’s comments. “We have heard over the last few months a very important position on his part in relation to respect and people’s dignity and respect for making free decisions. And in this case, he has been very sincere and open to talking about the right to decide in relation to his reference to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community,” William Hernández, director of Asociación Entre Amigos, told the Washington Blade. Hernández also said Muyshondt’s office supported San Salvador’s annual Pride parade this year. “The mayor’s office was represented, even though he could not attend,” said Hernández. “He issued permits and the mayor’s office allowed the event to take place.” “To have people like Mayor Muyshondt talk about civil marriage equality is already a great step forward, because the issue has been tied to a party that has been historically ultra-conservative for years,” Karla Guevara, executive director of Colectivo Alejandría, told the Blade. “We know there are still many people who resist the recognition of LGBT people’s rights, especially marriage equality for gay and lesbians as with the issue of a gender identity law for trans men and women.” ERNESTO VALLE

Ugandan official says no plan to bring back ‘Kill the Gays’ bill A spokesperson for the Ugandan government says it will not reintroduce a bill that would impose the death penalty for anyone found guilty of homosexuality. “Government hereby clarifies that it does not intend to introduce any new

law with regards to the regulation of LGBT activities in Uganda because the current provisions in the penal code are sufficient,” tweeted Ofwono Opondo on Oct. 12. Opondo’s comments came a day after Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo spoke with the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that,” said Lokodo. Uganda is among the countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. Lokodo nevertheless said his country’s “current penal law is limited.” “It only criminalizes the act,” he told Thomson Reuters. “We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalized. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence.” President Yoweri Museveni in 2014 signed Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposed a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. The law was known as the “Kill the Gays” bill because it once contained a death penalty provision. The Obama administration after Museveni signed the law cut U.S. aid to Uganda and imposed a travel ban against officials who carried out human rights abuses. Uganda’s Constitutional Court later struck down the Anti-Homosexuality Act on a technicality. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

ICE appeals asylum ruling for Blade writer An immigration judge’s ruling that granted asylum to a Washington Blade contributor from Cuba has been appealed. Judge Timothy Cole on Sept. 18 granted  asylum to Yariel Valdés González, who suffered persecution in his homeland because he is a journalist. ICE reserved the right to appeal Cole’s ruling within 30 days. Lara Nochomovitz, Valdés’ lawyer, last week told the Blade that ICE appealed the decision. Valdés, 29, entered the U.S. on March 27 through the Calexico West Port of Entry between California’s Imperial Valley and Mexicali, Mexico. ICE on May 3 transferred Valdés to the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility in Plain Dealing, La., from the Tallahatchee County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss. The Associated Press on Wednesday  reported  roughly 8,000 of

the 51,000 people who are currently in ICE custody are in Louisiana. Valdés throughout his detention has documented  the conditions in which he and his fellow detainees are being held. The  Miami Herald  and  Diario las Américas, a Miami-based Spanish-language newspaper, are among the other media outlets that have covered Valdés’ case. “It was a big blow to receive this news, because I thought the end to this more than six-month long battle was coming to an end,” Valdés told the Blade on Thursday in a statement. The Cuban government since the beginning of this year has increased its persecution of independent journalists. Roberto Quiñones, a reporter for CubaNet, a Miami-based website that covers Cuba, on Sept. 11 began to serve a year-long jail sentence after authorities in April arrested him while covering a trial in the city of Guantánamo in eastern Cuba. Authorities on May 8 arrested Luz Escobar, a reporter for  14ymedio,  an independent website founded by Yoani Sánchez, a prominent critic of the Cuban government, as she tried to interview survivors of a freak tornado that tore through parts of Havana in January. The Cuban government on the eve of the Feb. 24 referendum on the country’s new constitution blocked access to the website of  Tremenda Nota,  the Blade’s media partner on the island to which Valdés contributes. Cuban authorities on May 8, the same day when Escobar was arrested, did not allow this reporter into the country after his flight from Miami landed at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Valdés told the Blade after Cole granted him asylum in the U.S. that he hopes he “can start my life over in this country.” Valdés on Thursday reiterated this point, while noting the Cuban government will continue to persecute him if he returns to Cuba. “My fear of being returned to Cuba, where the only thing waiting for me is more repression because of my work as an independent journalist, has returned,” said Valdés. “I came to this country looking for the freedom that I never had and for an end to the Cuban dictatorship’s abuses against me, and it is because of this that I intend to remain strong and keep fighting.” “I am confident that justice will be done soon, because I am in the most democratic country in the world,” he added. “I only ask those who have this decision in their hands for their most profound understanding and help. What I want the most now is to hug my family and friends who have supported me so much during this process. I hope that this great country will give me a definitive welcome soon.” ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency, have not returned the Blade’s request for comment. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at

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


is a regular contributor to the Blade and winner of the 2014 Stonewall Chapbook competition.



is the Blade’s international news editor. Reach him at

is president of Witeck Communications, Inc., based in Washington, D.C. He and his husband, Bob Connelly, Jr. live in Arlington.


is the Blade’s White House reporter. Reach him at

VI E W PO I NT • O CTOBER 18, 2019 • WA SHINGTO NB L A DE . COM • 19


is the Blade’s features editor. Reach him at


is a writer and activist. Reach him at


is co-founder and president of NGLCC;

CHANCE MITCHELL is co-founder and CEO.

212-675-4106 WASHINGTON BLADE OCTOBER 18, 2019 4.625" x 10.5" 4C High Quality NP

A legendary home. Spectacular gardens. And you’re invited.

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Fall is Fabulous

Thank you for trusting us with your stories (The following is adapted from Naff’s speech to the Blade 50th gala on Friday, Oct. 18.) It is impossible to sum up 50 years of what this newspaper has meant to the community in a few short minutes. The New York Times describes the Blade as the “newspaper of record” for the LGBTQ community. That’s true. From Lou Chibbaro’s unflinching coverage of hate crimes in the city to Chris Johnson’s tireless work at the White House to Michael Lavers’s investigative work in Latin America and the Caribbean to Joey DiGuglielmo’s insightful and entertaining celebrity interviews to Michael Key’s award-winning photos documenting it all, we keep busy as the nation’s newspaper of record. But as we know, our readers feel a real connection to the Blade. From my friend Kenji Mundy, who spoke of turning to the Blade for news on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when no one else was paying attention; to Isaiah Poole’s account of meeting his future husband in the Blade personals, our readers are connected to us and we to them. During my 17 years at the Blade, I have been privileged to have a front-row seat to some of the most historic moments in our movement — witnessing President Obama sign the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” attending the first-ever White House Pride receptions, and so many other unforgettable events. This job has had its exciting moments, like the time I introduced Antonin Scalia to Laverne Cox. But the stories that have stayed with me and affected me most are those of ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances because of bigotry and discrimination. One such story we covered more than 15 years ago involved a young gay couple in Baltimore, long before the arrival of marriage equality. They were public school teachers. One partner, who was estranged from his conservative Christian family, was diagnosed with a terminal illness and died. Despite having a will and all legal protections available at the time, his parents later sued the surviving partner to move their son’s body back to the family plot in Tennessee. They won in court and the surviving partner was faced with the prospect of digging up his partner’s grave. The Blade covered the story. National legal groups got

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involved. He kept fighting and eventually won on appeal but only after losing everything he had, his life savings, his car, just to keep his dead partner in the ground. It was a story of resilience. And that’s a theme I have seen repeated in our coverage over the decades. The story of a resilient and loving community fighting to overcome ignorance and hate. We saw it during the height of the AIDS crisis and we saw it again on the ground in Orlando after the Pulse massacre. And we see it today as we stand up to the current administration’s attacks on the transgender community. In 2016, people used to ask me, “Why do we need gay press or gay bars? We have marriage and Hillary is going to win and cement everything.” Well, no one says that anymore. As Barney Frank used to say, “If you’re not at the table, then you’re probably on the menu.” I can assure you that the Blade is at the table, working every day to ensure our issues are addressed and our political leaders held accountable. In the final press conference of his presidency, President Obama called on the Blade’s Chris Johnson for the third-to-last question of his presidency. Chris asked him how LGBT issues would factor into his legacy. And President Obama gave a thoughtful answer in which he declined to take credit for all the LGBTQ progress under his administration. He said, “The primary heroes in this stage of our growth as a democracy and a society are all the individual activists and sons and daughters and couples who courageously said, ‘This is who I am and I’m proud of it.’” I’d like to echo that sentiment and thank all the people over 50 years who agreed to trust us with their stories. It’s a responsibility we continue to take seriously. Without the courage of all those people over five decades who stepped up, came out, and talked openly about their lives, all of our legislative victories would have been impossible. As we wrap this celebration of 50 years, we remain committed to our longstanding mission of telling LGBTQ stories through our lens and writing the first draft of our own history. Thank you for being here and congratulations to the Blade on its first 50 years.

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50 years of commitment to the LGBTQ community MAGPIE







OCT 27





MAR 20


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Celebrating the Blade’s unique role in covering the news

When the Washington Blade first published I was living in New York and had just begun teaching. I was deep in the closet and intended to stay that way, which I did for the next 12 years. Never in a million years could I have dreamt one day I would be writing for the Blade. In 1978 work took me to Washington, D.C. when I took a position in the Carter administration. It was then, being away from family and friends that the idea of coming out first began to take hold. After teaching I had gone to work for Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.) who sponsored the first gay rights bill in Congress. That was in 1974. While working for Bella I met many members of the LGBTQ community and even had a few close gay friends who I was not out to. Later they would tell me they all knew and were waiting for me to accept myself but at the time I wasn’t ready. I did make one foray into the gay community when I came to D.C. answering an ad in the back of a magazine about six weeks before moving to the District. In those days it took weeks to get a response but I did and had a date the first weekend I arrived. It was a one-off date and it was the last one I would have with a man for a number of years. Finding out more about the gay community in D.C. was important to me so I found the Washington Blade. I would read it regularly both for the news and for the ads. Finding out where the bars were and finding out about the places on Half Street in Southeast. They were within walking distance of where I lived in Southwest. I read an ad for the Follies movie theater and eventually got up the nerve to go there. I met my first boyfriend there. He was in town visiting a girl he knew from college and told her he was going to see another friend on Friday night, instead he went to the Follies. We got together and I asked him how he found out about the place and he told me it was from

the Blade. Remember, in those days we didn’t learn everything by going online and reading social media. You actually picked up a hard copy of the Blade and read it (some of us still do). I would head to Dupont Circle and go to Lambda Rising, first looking both ways to see if anybody I knew was on the street who could see me entering the store to browse the books and pick up my copy of the Blade. As I said I would read it cover to cover and it’s from the Blade I found out about the Pride parade and festival then held in Dupont on a field that depending on the year was either dusty or muddy. In later years I found out about the 1987 and 1993 Marches on Washington, read about what the government was doing and what our community’s response was. Today, the Blade still serves such a crucial function for our community. Its reporters report the news as it impacts the community and they do it with a deeper understanding as they are part of the community. A few years ago I was one of the founders of the Blade Foundation. We raise money to help LGBTQ journalism students who will one day report on the news bringing their perspective on life to the stories they report around the world for all media. We also raise funds to cover LGBTQ news around the world and are looking forward to having 50 years of the Blade digitized so it is available to scholars and researchers who want an honest perspective on how our community has grown and fought for equality. Both our successes and the setbacks. Today we are still fighting for our rights and trying to protect the ones we have around the world and the Blade is the only paper reporting it all through the eyes of LGBTQ reporters. We must never forget how important that is. Just think, today the Washington Blade has a credentialed reporter covering the White House. The Blade has been called the paper of record for the gay community and that is an accurate statement. It is crucial the Blade continue to be that. Along with so many others I wish the Blade a happy 50th and hope to be a part of it making history for many years to come.

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O CTO BE R 18, 2 0 1 9 • WA SHINGTONBLA D E.COM • 23


is the Blade’s international news editor. Reach him at

Expanding the Blade’s mission abroad From Cuba to the West Bank, working to document our progress

Washington Blade Photo Editor Michael Key and I were on La Rampa, a street in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, on May 13, 2017, covering a march that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Several people from D.C. approached us on the street while we were on assignment and thanked us for our work on behalf of the LGBT community. The heat and humidity in the Cuban capital on that day were stifling, but those moments solidified to us the Blade’s importance around the world. I have reported from many parts of the world since I became a reporter at the Blade in May 2012: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Spain, Israel and the West Bank. I have also had the immense privilege of interviewing hundreds of people over the last seven years. They include a lesbian activist who runs a migrant shelter in Mexicali, Mexico; a gay hairdresser in Humacao, Puerto Rico, who lost everything in Hurricane Maria; transgender activists in El Salvador who worked as election observers; a group of human rights advocates in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, a bisexual woman who is a member of the Colombian Senate; former Costa Rican Vice President Ana Helena Chacón; San Juan (Puerto Rico) Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz; the mother of a trans Salvadoran woman who died earlier this year after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released her from custody in New Mexico and a drag

queen in the Cuban city of Santiago. The Cuban government earlier this year also blocked me from entering Cuba at Havana’s José Martí International Airport for reasons that remain unknown to me. The Blade over the last 50 years has told our community’s story. The Blade over the last 50 years has also held the powers that be accountable. The Blade now carries out this mission abroad. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity and government-sponsored persecution remain commonplace in many of the countries from which I have reported. The governments in many of the countries from which I have either reported either turn a blind eye to these abuses or allow them to take place with impunity. Upwards of 70 countries continue to criminalize LGBT people simply because of who they are. It is the privilege of my professional life to work with El Salvador Correspondent Ernesto Valle; Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s Cuba media partner; former Mexico Correspondent Yariel Valdés González who has been granted asylum in the U.S. and other contributors who raise visibility around these injustices through their work with the Blade. The current White House occupant has turned his back to the expansion of human rights in the U.S. and around the world. He has also aligned himself with dictators and despots responsible for some of the world’s most egregious human rights abuses against LGBT people and other vulnerable groups. The Blade’s commitment to the LGBT community in the U.S. and around the world is therefore more important than ever. The Blade remains at the forefront of the continued documentation of the LGBT rights movement in the U.S. and the demand for accountability. And as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, I am proud this work had expanded to countries around the world.

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WASHINGTON, DC: 202.332.3433 | TYSONS GALLERIA: 703.962.9310 | MGBWHOME.COM


My all-time best and worst Blade celeb chats

Most are great, some act like they’re doing you a favor BY JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM

I’m naming names, so get ready. I came to the Blade in October 2006 as news editor, then became features editor in 2008, which is my title to this day. That’s probably a record, but I have no easy way to verify that. One small part of my job is interviewing celebrities. It’s tough when it’s somebody you’re not familiar with and you have to research from scratch. It’s super fun when it’s a star you’ve followed for a long time and can go deep and ask interesting, off-the-beaten-path stuff. I work hard to eschew the same handful of questions they’ve been asked nine zillion times before (e.g. to John Waters: “What was Divine like?”). You can geek out and go crazy deep/obscure for a few questions but obviously you don’t want an entire interview of that. Often the audiences for these pieces are people who follow the subjects avidly already so you want to make it interesting for them as well as the casual fan. Nothing pisses off a fan base faster than a set of questions that sounds like you cobbled them together in 10 minutes after reading the press release and the Wikipedia page. These are almost always done by phone because rarely is the celeb in D.C. prior to the event that’s bringing them to our region. I only agree to e-mail interviews under extremely rare circumstances because they usually cherry pick which questions they want to answer and there’s no chance to press them if they play coy or evasive. I let Larry Kramer by on a pass because he has severe hearing loss (he was great — we went several rounds of follow-up by e-mail) and Janis Ian, who was on vocal rest. It’s tough when their handlers have scheduled back-to-back phoners and you only get 15 minutes and have to keep firing like you’re in the lightening round to cram in as much as possible. The celebs don’t give a shit — even under tight time constraints, you’ll sometimes get somebody who’ll ramble on for 10 minutes answering one question, so you’re fucked (I’m looking at you Megan Mullally). You also learn quickly, these

Blade Features Editor JOEY DiGUGLIELMO at his celeb-ensconced desk in 2007. Blade file photo

people are never your friends; many of them are just good at giving you the temporary illusion that they’re chummy with you. As a mentor of mine used to say, you see how quickly that stops when the column inches are over. It also sucks when their publicists stay on the line and cut you off just when you’re getting going. In some cases, I get it — some journalists would hog the celeb’s time so somebody has to be the bad cop. I’m greedy with my celeb time but never go crazy long. Thirty-40 minutes is ideal — you can actually breathe a little, give them time to ramble, then pick your most interesting responses to use. You always have to have more prepared than you’ll get to in case they go Bob Dylan on you and give one-word answers. The best situations are when you develop rapport, keep them engaged (typically this kind of thing bores them) and get them riffing way off their press release. So after 11 years of doing this, I’m giving out my all-time best and worst awards for Blade interviews. We’ll start with the worst. 5. Stand-up legend Margaret Cho (“Mothers’ Day with Margaret” 2013; “Margaret goes ‘psyCHO’ on new tour,” 2015) — perfectly nice lady but not funny in interview mode; like, at all. Makes you feel like she’d rather be doing anything but this. 4. Actress Maria Bello (“Don’t label Maria Bello,” 2015) — didn’t have time for anything much once we got through talking about her book. 3. Andy Cohen (“Deep Talk with Andy Cohen,” 2017) — polite but just didn’t give me much to work with. Very succinct responses delivered in as few

words as possible. It was like he couldn’t wait to get off the phone. 2. Singer Natalie Merchant (“Natalie Merchant goes deep,” 2017) — ostensibly polite and decent elaboration but sounded about as excited as a clerk at a D.C. 7-Eleven. 1. Jazz pianist Patricia Barber (“Cerebral jazz,” 2013) — stock answers, kind of a tone of “why would you ask me that”? to every answer that made me feel she thought I was an idiot. DISHONORABLE MENTION: Rufus Wainwright (“Rufus Wainwright on opera, revisiting his first two albums,” 2018) — Nice enough guy, but we were late getting started, then his handlers cut us off as if the clock had started at the time they were supposed to have called. Best: 5. Actress Valerie Harper (“Taking on Tallulah,” 5-29-09) — one of the rare ones I got to do in person. Chatty, funny, willing to go anywhere the questions took her — a delight. 4. Singer/actress Patti LuPone (“Reminiscing with LuPone,” 9-8-11) — I was terrified. Miss LuPone does not suffer fools gladly and I’m not a show queen, so I was winging it slightly (but I had read her then-new memoir! You don’t always have time.). The appointed time came. Her husband answers and says sorry, she’s getting her hair done. She called a few hours later and apologized. It was perfect — that mild inconvenience put her more at my mercy, so she wasn’t prickly at all. 3. Figure skater/personality Adam Rippon (“Adam Rippon on new life, loves, memoir, ass and skating in the

nude,” 2019) — candid, funny, balked at nothing, not in a hurry and genuinely sweet. 2. Motown legend Mary Wilson (“Mary Wilson shares Motown memories,” 2017) — the Supremes cofounder gleefully went anywhere I led and elaborated without prodding. Miss Ross, of course, has yet to deign us with her presence. 1. Actress Lily Tomlin (“Laughing with Lily,” 2014; “Lily Tomlin on why she’s happy she lost the Emmy this year — and a whole lot more,” 2018) — unsurprisingly, it’s often true that the bigger the name, the more you’re likely to encounter a diva. Tomlin, as many in my field would attest, is the exception. Exceedingly nice, the only celeb to ever make a point of using my name and never in a rush. The ultimate class act A-lister. HONORABLE MENTIONS: Bruce Vilanch (“Dishing with Bruce,” 2013), Leslie Jordan (“Flamboyantly funny,” 2016; “Character actor Leslie Jordan on his pony obsession, TV hits and misses and dream threesome,” 2019); Salim Gauwloos (“Former Madonna dancer Slam recalls ‘Blond Ambition Tour,’ ‘Truth or Dare’); Dave Koz (“A Dave Koz Christmas,” 2014, “Koz and effect,” 2011), Yvonne Craig (“Holy spandex tights! It’s Batgirl!,” 2015) and Alison Arngrim (“Life on the ‘Prairie,’” 2011).

JOEY DIGUGLIELMO Joey DiGuglielmo is the Blade’s features editor. Reach him at

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is a poet and Blade contributor. Her newest collection is ‘Love and Kumquats: New and Selected Poems.’

Breaking the silence: On the 50th anniversary of the Washington Blade “Lying is done with words, and also with silence.” Adrienne Rich

Two daddies, their toddler and yellow lab go to brunch. On a bus, a grandmother on her phone reads in the Blade about drag kings. At a stoplight, a 20-something man turns to his mom. “I like him a lot!” he says, “but I don’t want to marry him!” An ordinary day in Dupont Circle in 2019 – nearly one-fifth through the 21st century. As unremarkable as air. Yet, unthinkable five decades ago! Then, trapped in closets, behind closed door — within ourselves — we didn’t dream we’d ever have such days. In October 1969, months after Stonewall, the Blade began to unlock the lies that kept us locked in fear. Telling our stories in the light of day. Not as bullies’ twisted lies or as we’d like to believe. But, truthfully. With the precision of a laser beam – the sharpness of a sword. “Rare, Fatal Pneumonia Hits Gay Men.” Reagan refuses to say “AIDS.” The 1993 Gay Rights March. Lesbians and breast cancer. Matthew Shepard. Love winning over hate: Edie Windsor! Divas: Barbra! Cher! Judy! Laughter: giving us the guts to face the news! Wanda Sykes! Kathy Griffin! Families: queer moms, dads, kids. Fifty years in, the Blade presses on. Breaking through the silence and lies. Happy Anniversary!

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A phone call changed my life, and introduced me to the Blade BY BOB WITECK

Growing up in Arlington, Va., in the 1960s, thinking about another boy felt like a one-way ticket to lifelong shame and confusion. I never even heard the words gay or homosexual until I was in high school. By high school, my fears were as real as my secret attractions. With each day I felt the need to read more and talk safely with someone else about my feelings. In the public library, I quietly found the three or four books that described homosexuality in a clinical way, or worse, as a social pathology. Still, no matter what bookshelf I searched, and I looked often, I never stumbled upon so much as a leaflet to suggest there were normal, and happy, healthy boys who also were attracted to other boys. I never imagined meeting anyone who felt as I did. But as luck had it, when I was 16, I read a newspaper story about a group in Washington, D.C., that advocated for homosexual rights called the Mattachine Society. I discovered the names of brave individuals like Dr. Franklin Kameny and Lilli Vincenz. I was amazed. I looked up the group in the phone book, and there it was, plain as day. I wrote down the telephone number and hid it in my wallet since I could not risk anyone might discover it. I kept it buried away for months until I could steel my courage. One afternoon, with the phone number in my wallet and a dime in my pocket, I walked a few blocks to an outof-the-way phone booth. The number of the Mattachine Society was still scrawled on a bit of paper. A man answered politely. He was honest and direct. He was also sensitive to each question I asked. I really hoped to find other teens like me, however during our brief talk, it became plain

that the Mattachine Society was a group for adults. He mentioned the names of several gay bars in the city, but they would be off-limits because of my age. I also could not imagine the courage to meet strange men in a bar and trying to meet someone with whom to form a friendship, or even to date. Like many of us, I wanted it both ways—to find real friends while also keeping my attractions and identity secret. That brave phone call changed my life forever. It was the very first time an adult had ever spoken to me honestly and intelligently about who I was, and about who I hoped to become. It helped me conquer a small part of the fears I held and that I would not be doomed to self-hate and rejection by everyone. Most important to me, he urged me to start by reading the Blade and the Advocate, new publications by, for, and about homosexuals and he told me how I could get my hands on them. I was thrilled to discover not only that there were many others like me, but that we had a powerful ally in print to connect with the community, form real friendships and maybe meet someone to fall in love with. Since that moment 50 years ago, the Washington Blade has been our lifeline and voice. It is still the trusted, indispensable platform for a diverse community serving not only the Nation’s Capital but all of the nation. Fortunately, the man on the other end of my first phone call was Dr. Frank Kameny, the civil rights pioneer who struggled for decades to help us achieve respect, inclusion and equality under the law. Over the decades, the Blade gave me courage, confidence and connections that I could never find anywhere else and all that began with the best advice possible from Dr. Kameny.


is president of Witeck Communications, Inc., based in Washington, D.C. He and his husband, Bob Connelly, Jr. live in Arlington.

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

So much drama, so few column inches A life of intersections with the Blade

I go back 40 years with the Blade to an evening when I was riding around with a friend who stopped by a house north of Dupont Circle and took two copies from a stack on the porch. My relationship grew from reader to news source, event promoter, advertiser, and contributor. I became a source by my involvement in the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, for which my Blade contact was and is reporter Lou Chibbaro Jr. For a while in the ‘80s I was promotion director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington; Noel Gillespie was the Blade’s performing arts critic, and Jim Deely was display advertising manager. In the early ‘80s the chorus decided to get cute with an audition notice, and we ran a Blade classified ad saying, “Talented mouths wanted for large group scene. GMCW auditions,” with my contact number. No one knew what GMCW stood for, and soon my phone was ringing off the hook with wannabe porn stars. Doug Hinckle was the Blade’s longtime news photographer. Once, at a chorus event Doug was covering, I suggested a photo. He snapped, “Don’t tell me how to do my job.” He left behind an extensive photo archive. Senior Editor Lisa Keen, my first editor as a freelance writer, was probably responsible more than anyone for setting the professional standard for gay journalism. At the height of the AIDS crisis, the Blade, as the District’s LGBTQ newspaper of record, regularly ran many pages of obituaries. If you didn’t live through that time, it is hard to convey how bittersweet an experience it was reading them. Several times it fell to me to write an obit for a chorus member. In the case of one singer, I had to call his sister back twice to get details that Lisa said were needed, and I’ll never forget the sister’s sobbing as she spoke about him. Working in small nonprofits often involves chores for which one is untrained; that one may have been my most painful as a volunteer.

Being criticized in the press is a hazard of activism, not just in the lively arts. As the D.C. marriage equality effort heated up 11 years ago, one activist impatient with GLAA’s methodical approach wrote a letter to the Blade accusing me of trying to prevent marriage equality. That was like accusing a madam of opposing brothels. I uncharacteristically held my tongue; another community leader came to my defense. With all the battles and labors of love that help forge a community, imagine the pressures on the managers at a newspaper that covers it. The finished product would have to be on fire to convey it fully; but we’ll save that for Washington Blade, the Opera. Once I was sitting at Jim Deely’s desk, having brought in a chorus ad when he was out, and was writing him a note when longtime publisher Don Michaels came in, saw me, and joked that he couldn’t afford me. Then he told me about a call he had taken from Congressman Barney Frank, who was unhappy with a news story and told Don what a miserable paper he was putting out. Don replied, “You’re just mad that we didn’t give your spin.” Barney slammed down the phone. It wasn’t just politicians who berated the Blade. Some people expect community papers to be straight-up boosters rather than independent journals. One zealous activist accused the New York Blade, before its first issue appeared, of not being worth wrapping fish in. A more serious challenge—reflecting the diversity of our community—requires ongoing effort, not checking a box. Ventures come and go, but what was called The Gay Blade when I first picked it up grew with the times and lasted. It went through multiple redesigns, and gobs of fresh talent have replaced the old stalwarts who moved on, retired, or passed away. The archive is being digitized by the D.C. Public Library, promising a treasure trove of history as it was being made. We take many things for granted, including free community papers, but the 50 years of change this one has seen would have been considerably less well chronicled without it. Copyright © 2019 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

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If not for WHCA, Blade would be barred from Trump’s White House By CHRIS JOHNSON

As the Washington Blade celebrates its 50th anniversary, I take pride in knowing that I have taken part in a full one-fifth of that history as chief political and White House reporter. A lot of that pride comes from personally having spearheaded efforts over the course of 10 years to take the Blade to new levels in terms of its reporting at the White House. That includes participation in the White House press briefings (when they still were happening); contributing to the pool rotation by shadowing the U.S. president every month or so; and posing questions to both President Obama and President Trump. The Blade is the only LGBT news outlet in the White House press corps. I handled it throughout each of eight years of the Obama administration and haven’t been deterred one bit with Trump in the White House. To be sure, the Blade for decades has had robust coverage of national news at the White House. Just ask our veteran reporter Lou Chibbaro Jr., who’ll tell you he had credentials as far back as the Reagan administration and Ari Fleischer responded to his questions in the early years of George W. Bush. (That was before the Bush White House revoked the Blade’s hard pass, which was reinstated when Obama took office.) A lot of people have asked how I can possibly stand going to the Trump White House every day. But I’m an LGBT journalist, not an LGBT advocate. I thrive on finding mismanagement and exposing it. The Trump White House thrives on chaos in a way that would be unheard of during the Obama years. As one example, the White House news briefings have been replaced with survival-of-the-fittest gaggles with Trump upon his departures from the White House. As of now, I have never gotten a

question with Trump in these settings. Reporters seeking to be heard shout questions over each other and the roar of the engine on Marine One. Trump seems focused on taking inquiries from TV networks with large audiences and conservative outlets friendly to him. The pool rotation is a different story. I’ve logged a couple questions with Trump on days the responsibility falls to me, most notably an inquiry on whether he’s OK with his administration making it easier to discriminate against LGBT workers. (He responded by touting his endorsement by the Log Cabin Republicans.) It’s great the U.S. president is willing to open himself for questions regularly from reporters, but the regular White House news briefings should be restored.. Sometimes I get the question in other way: Does the Trump White House really allow an LGBT outlet into the White House? The answer to that question is just barely. If not for the White House Correspondents’ Association, the Blade would be unable to access the White House grounds just as it was during the later Bush years. Under the policy of the White House press office, a reporter seeking to maintain a hard pass has to have logged a high hurdle of time on the White House grounds. Journalists have to clock in at the White House 50 percent of the time in the 180 days, or 90 days in that period. That’s effectively once every other day, including weekends and holidays.


is the Blade’s White House reporter. Reach him at

NGLCC celebrates 50 years of the Washington Blade By JUSTIN NELSON & CHANCE MITCHELL In the nearly 20 years that the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) has been the business voice of the LGBT community, the Washington Blade has been by our side telling our story and the stories of our communities’ successes. The Blade has helped us move corporations and governments to the side of LGBT inclusion by showcasing the $1.7 trillion power that LGBT-owned businesses, like the Blade, add to the U.S. economy every year. As we celebrate the Washington Blade’s 50th anniversary, we offer the gratitude and appreciation of our NGLCC network, including the 1.4 million LGBT business owners we represent in the U.S. and around the globe. The Blade’s profiles on our signature events, on our advocacy positions, and on the heroes of our business community have not just helped ensure our community’s place at the table of opportunity, but has elevated the discussion of the role LGBT people play in business, government, and society by ensuring our voice is present at every major event in DC. The Blade’s exceptional journalists and editors have amplified the message of NGLCC in White House and Hill briefings, leading to powerful commitments from government leaders to recognize, include, and promote our community’s economic interests.   As the NGLCC global network expands to five continents, the Blade’s international team has been a treasured partner in highlighting the strength and resilience of LGBT business owners around the world. Together, we are telling the stories that prove that being out and successful, regardless of geography or background, will never be mutually exclusive again. Since 1969, the Washington Blade has covered the LGBTQ community of the metro

D.C. area, nationally, and internationally and has been an ardent supporter of the NGLCC’s mission to create economic inclusion and prosperity for the LGBT business community. As a longstanding certified LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE), the Blade is a role model to LGBT-owned and operated companies throughout the nation. As one of our LGBTBE owners said, “NGLCC certification creates visibility for LGBT businesses; visibility creates awareness; awareness leads to acceptance; and widespread acceptance ends discrimination. You can’t change hearts, minds and attitudes if you’re invisible.” The Blade has ensured countless hearts and minds are changed by keeping our communities’ successes more visible than ever. In recognition for 50 years of leadership in our communities, and in anticipation of decades more of success ahead, the NGLCC looks forward to bestowing our Pinnacle Award to the Washington Blade on Nov. 22, 2019 at our NGLCC National Dinner. The Pinnacle Award is one of highest and most rarely bestowed honors at the NGLCC. This award recognizes an LGBT or allied person, persons, or organization that has gone above and beyond to promote LGBT equality and opportunity. Needless to say, the Washington Blade is at the pinnacle of LGBT storytelling, representation, and success.  The NGLCC is proud to be a close partner in the Washington Blade’s work, and we look forward to the next 50 years working together.


is co-founder and president of NGLCC;


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‘Paper of record’ chronicled police entrapment and blackmail, AIDS epidemic, marriage

In its 50-year history, the Washington Blade has covered news for the LGBT community that has reflected dramatic advances as well as struggles ranging from workplace discrimination and attempts at blackmail to the AIDS epidemic and the achievement of marriage equality, establishing the Blade’s reputation as the LGBT newspaper of record. In its very first issue in October of 1969 as a one-page monthly newsletter called “The Gay Blade,” the paper reported on the 1960s era fear of blackmail and the possibility of being fired from a government job because of one’s sexual orientation. “Warning to Dupont Circle people,” the first issue states in its third story. “Cars seen too frequently in the Circle area are having their license numbers taken down; their owners later are being harassed and blackmailed.” That same first issue included articles on pioneering gay rights activist Frank Kameny being available to provide help for gays or lesbians subjected to a security check by their employer, the formation of the Gay Liberation Front in New York City, and the launching by the Gay Blade of a gay roommate referral service. Fifty years later, the now weekly Washington Blade has a correspondent accredited to cover the White House and presidential news conferences and an editor-reporter who frequently travels abroad to cover international LGBT news. Since September 1995, the Blade has been available online through its website, enabling it to publish breaking LGBT news on a daily and even an hourly basis. The Blade’s founding editors in October 1969 were Nancy Tucker, a lesbian, and Bart Wenger, a gay man who at the time went by the name Art Stone. Both had been members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the first D.C. gay rights organization of note co-founded by Kameny. Tucker and Wenger have said in subsequent years that although they supported the work of the Mattachine Society, they wanted to launch, four months after the Stonewall riots in New York, an independent news publication to provide needed information for D.C.’s then fledgling gay rights movement. It was Kameny, Tucker told the Blade years later, who convinced her to help produce the new publication. “It filled a clear need right from the



Reporter LOU CHIBBARO JR. (second from left) in a meeting with fellow Blade staff, including editor LISA KEEN (third from left).

Blade’s 50-year history reflects struggles, advances of LGBT community


The very first issue of the Blade, dated October 1969.

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 38 get-go – and it has been that way ever since,” Kameny recalled in an October 2009 interview with the Washington Blade, two years before his passing in 2011. Tucker, who later moved to Albuquerque, N.M., has said several people were involved in producing the Blade’s first issue, including Martha Taylor, her partner at the time, who operated a mimeograph machine that printed the first 500 copies of the paper. But she said many of the people that helped produce and distribute the first issue and the next few issues withdrew

from participation a short time later, leaving only a small “staff,” all of whom were volunteers. “It eventually came down to my doing all of the writing, most of the news work, some of the distribution, all of the advertising selling – and Bart did some of the distribution and let me know what news tips that he came up with,” Tucker said. She said she knew the Blade was becoming influential because LGBT people were using the Blade to publicize the activities of their organizations or businesses. “I have a profound belief that it contributed to really the creation of the gay community in Washington,” Tucker said. “It helped publicize various bars and businesses and stuff as they opened.”

3 8 • WAS H I NGTO NBLA D E.COM • OCTOBER 18, 2019

In July 1973, Tucker announced she was stepping down from her role as editor and publisher of the Blade and issued a call for interested parties to assume control of the then newsletter. Lesbian activist Pat Price, who used the pseudonym Pat Kolar, answered that call and became the new editor and publisher. Although she and others who began to write for the Blade used pseudonyms, their names appearing in the paper marked the first time stories contained bylines. A little over one year later in November 1974 the Blade ended its newsletter size page and began publishing as a standard tabloid format on newsprint paper. Also in November 1974 the paper moved into its first offices at 1724 20th St., N.W. in Dupont Circle. In December 1974, Joseph Crislip, who began writing for the Blade one month earlier under the pseudonym Christian Deforrest, assumed the position of Blade editor and “coordinator” of its business operations. In November 1975, under Crislip’s leadership, the Gay Blade officially changed its name to the Blade and incorporated as a nonprofit corporation called Blade Communications, Inc. In early 1977, shortly after the Blade had moved to a two-room suite on the 2400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W, a gay activist who had recently moved to D.C. from Buffalo, N.Y. named Don Michaels showed up at a Blade volunteer meeting. It was the start of Michaels’ 24year association with the Blade in which he would eventually become publisher and oversee the Blade’s growth in size and status to become one of the nation’s major LGBT publications. According to a detailed account of the Blade’s history by D.C.’s Rainbow History Project, in 1978 Michaels became managing editor while Crislip retained the position of publisher. That same year, in November, the Blade changed from operating as a monthly to a bi-weekly newspaper in response to the growth in its readership and advertising. In October 1980, the Blade reincorporated into a for-profit, employee-owned business and changed its name to the Washington Blade. By early 1982 Michaels assumed the position of publisher succeeding Crislip, and as the paper continued to grow, the decision was made to become a weekly. Steve Martz, who joined the Blade a few years earlier in the advertising department, became managing editor

and Lisa Keen, who started at the Blade in 1979 as a freelance reporter, became assistant editor. From several years prior to that time up until 2001, the Blade had moved to several different locations, including 930 F St., N.W., an office building that became home on its first floor to the 9:30 Club; and later to a small office building at 724 9th St., N.W. It was during that time, around 1984 that Martz left the Blade and Keen assumed the role as top editor, which eventually was given the title of executive editor while Michaels continued as publisher. In 1992, the Blade moved to 1408 U St., N.W., in the city’s newly developing “U Street corridor” that quickly evolved into an entertainment district. One year later, in April 1993, coinciding with the 1993 LGBT March on Washington that brought tens of thousands to the nation’s capital, the Blade published its largest issue to date, containing 216 pages. In 1995, the Blade launched its website,, further expanding its ability to cover breaking LGBT news on a daily basis. In May 2001, a gay-owned media company named Window Media that also owned the Southern Voice LGBT newspaper in Atlanta, purchased the Blade. William Waybourn, one of its principal owners, became the Blade’s new publisher and Chris Crain, another Window Media owner, became the Blade’s executive editor. Michaels, Keen, and others on the Blade’s editorial and management leadership team left the Blade at the time of the sale. In 2006, Waybourn and Crain left the Blade to pursue other endeavors. Crain was succeeded as executive editor by Kevin Naff, who remains the Blade’s editor today. In December 2007, Lynne Brown, who had worked for many years on the Blade’s advertising team, was named Blade publisher. “It’s been a privilege to edit the Blade and help preserve its legacy of quality journalism as we’ve navigated the challenges facing the entire newspaper industry,” said Naff. The Blade relocated from U Street to the National Press Building at 14th and F Street, N.W. in February 2008, bringing it to a location where many of the nation’s most prestigious news media outlets had their Washington news bureaus. CON T I N U E S ON PAGE 4 0



Blade chronicled LGBT community’s growth, struggles CONTINUED FROM PAGE 38 But less than two years later, in November 2009, Window Media’s parent company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, resulting in the shutdown of the Blade and the other LGBT publications owned by Window Media. However, just four days later, the Blade’s staff, which banded together as volunteers, took the extraordinary step of creating a temporary replacement for the Blade called the D.C. Agenda and published its first issue. Through financial support from loyal advertisers and readers, the former Blade staffers continued to publish the D.C. Agenda as a weekly placeholder until former publisher Brown, former editor Naff, and the Blade’s former advertising executive, Brian Pitts, formed a business partnership that purchased the Blade’s assets from the bankruptcy court. The three partners created a new parent company, Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia, and relaunched the Washington Blade brand in April 2010. The new company opened its offices at 1712 14th St., N.W., the Blade’s current headquarters. In October 2010, the Washington Blade Foundation, a new 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was formed to raise money to digitize the full Blade archives. In January 2011, Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia launched a new business unit, Azer Creative as a boutique marketing firm. And in March 2017, BNPO launched the Los Angeles Blade, a sister LGBT newspaper headed by publisher Troy Masters and veteran journalist Karen Ocamb as news editor.

Recollections by former Blade leaders “I still live in D.C. and treasure a 45+ year relationship with John Yanson, who in the early days of the Blade was the staff photographer,” Michaels said when asked what he’s been doing since leaving the Blade. He and Yanson also spend time in San Diego, Calif., where they own a condo, he said.

Current Blade publisher LYNNE BROWN (top); a Blade employee unpacking and filing copies of the paper.

Michaels was quick to reply to the question of what he most remembers about the Blade during his years working there. “How eager our community was for a publication that focused on news and features rather than sexually oriented content,” he said. “Our approach attracted many really dedicated staffers who worked hard and tirelessly to make the paper grow from those 24-page monthly editions way back when into a well-

regarded weekly newspaper of record.” Keen, who had worked on the Blade staff for 20 years before leaving in 2001 as executive editor, said her years at the paper left a lasting impression. “I remember a team of really dedicated colleagues and intensely loyal readers,” she said. “Don Michaels articulated a vision of the paper as one that would strive to meet professional standards and serve the LGBT community,” said Keen.

“People who joined the staff shared that vision and commitment at a time when working at a ‘gay paper’ was very likely to diminish one’s future employment prospects,” she said. “They were courageous and tough as nails, fun and funny, talented and reliable.” Keen said she and her spouse, Sheilah McCarthy, currently live in Wellesley, Mass., where Keen has been covering national legal and political news for several LGBT news outlets around the country, including her own The couple is raising a 15-year-old son, Sam Keen. Former publisher Waybourn said he and his partner maintain a D.C. residence but spend most of their time in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. They own several businesses, including the Long View Gallery in D.C. “It was a great time to be involved in D.C. media,” Waybourn said in discussing his tenure at the Blade. “I loved working with the staff and individuals I met through community groups and organizations, and still maintain friendships with the individuals I met through the Blade.” Crain, the former executive editor, said he and Waybourn “look back with great pride” on the years the two worked at the Blade. He said their acquisition of the Blade in 2001 through Window Media took place “at the height of prominence in LGBTQ media” and enabled them to work with “a wonderful and talented staff to expand the paper’s local coverage, improve its production quality, grow its advertising base and dramatically increase its presence on the internet.” Crain said by the mid-2000s the Blade was “facing the same challenge as print publications everywhere” such as the loss of classified advertising to the internet. But he said the Blade nevertheless remained profitable, even at the time after he and Waybourn left and the Window Media parent company declared bankruptcy. “We were greatly pleased that the staff took up the mantle to carry on the Blade’s rich history, and we join in celebrating this terrific milestone,” Crain said. CON T I N U E S ON PAGE 4 2

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Highlights of the Blade’s 50 years The Washington Blade began in 1969 as a one-page, monthly newsletter compiled by volunteers and based in an activist’s apartment. It now has 17 fulltime employees and a sister newspaper in Los Angeles. 1960s October 1969: Nancy Tucker, Art Stone and a handful of activists publish the first issue of the Gay Blade. The newsletter, which is published monthly, consists of one side of a letter-size page, printed on a mimeograph machine in Tucker’s apartment. The 500 copies are distributed to the city’s gay bars. 1970s July 1973: Original editor Nancy Tucker leaves the Blade, calling for interested parties to take over the newsletter. That call is answered by Pat Price, who goes by the pseudonym Pat Kolar. It is also the first time in the Blade’s history that stories contain bylines, although nearly all of them are pseudonyms. • July 1974: After undergoing several size changes, the Gay Blade is printed on newsprint for the first time. It uses a format that is slightly larger than tabloid size, but by November 1974, the paper is reduced to the standard tabloid format that is still used today. • November 1974: The Gay Blade moves into its first offices, located on 20th Street, N.W., in Dupont Circle. • November 1975: The Gay Blade officially changes its name to the Blade, and the newspaper also becomes incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the mantle Blade Communications Inc. • August 1976: The Blade moves to a two-room suite on the 2400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. • November 1978: The Blade changes from being published monthly to bi-weekly, signifying the growth of D.C.’s gay readership. 1980s February 1980: The Blade leaves its offices on Pennsylvania Avenue and moves to 930 F St., N.W., above what would later become the 9:30 Club. • October 1980: The Blade re-incorporates as a for-profit, employee-owned business and changes its name officially to the Washington Blade. • October 1984: In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the Blade presents D.C.’s first gay film festival, staged at the Biograph Theatre in Georgetown. • January 1987: The Blade starts the year with a new office, located in the Victor Building at 724 Ninth St., N.W. 1990s September 1992: The Blade moves again, this time to 1408 U St., N.W. • April 1993: To coincide with the 1993 March on Washington, the Blade publishes its largest issue to date, containing 216 pages. • September 1995: The Blade launches its web site. 2000s May 2001: The Blade is purchased by Window Media, a gay-owned media company that also owns the Southern Voice newspaper in Atlanta. Chris Crain, a co-founder of Window Media, becomes the Blade’s executive editor and William Waybourn its publisher. • September 2006: Crain leaves the Blade. He is succeeded by Kevin Naff, who remains the paper’s editor today. • December 2007: Lynne Brown is named publisher. • February 2008: The Blade relocates from U Street to the National Press Building at 14th and F streets, N.W. • November 2009: Window Media’s parent company files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; Blade offices shuttered. Just four days later, the Blade staff publishes under a new name, the DC Agenda, a weekly placeholder publication. 2010s April 2010: Business partners Lynne Brown, Kevin Naff and Brian Pitts purchase the Blade’s assets from the bankruptcy court and re-launch the Washington Blade brand. The new parent company is Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia and its offices move to 1712 14th Street, N.W. October 2010: the Blade Foundation, a new 501(c)3, debuts to raise money to digitize the full Blade archive. January 2011: BNPO launches a new business unit, Azer Creative, a boutique marketing firm. March 2017: BNPO launches the Los Angeles Blade, a sister publication headed by publisher Troy Masters and later adds veteran journalist Karen Ocamb as news editor. 2019: The Blade announces plans for a yearlong celebration of the paper’s 50th anniversary culminating with an October 2019 gala.

From top: A Blade staff photo from summer 2019; the scene at the Blade’s 40th anniversary party in 2009; KEVIN NAFF, LYNNE BROWN and BRIAN PITTS in 2009; NAFF and BROWN announcing the re-launch of the Blade name in April 2010.

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Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

QUEERY: Brian Pitts

The longtime Blade sales exec/co-owner answers 20 queer questions By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM In the Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia triumvirate, Brian Pitts is the quiet one. The company — Blade Publisher Lynne Brown, Editor Kevin Naff and Pitts, all longtime Blade employees —formed to resurrect the Blade in late 2009 after its former owners unceremoniously pulled the plug. “Lynne, Kevin and I wanted to keep the Blade going, so we talked about it and said, ‘Let’s do this,” Pitts says. “We’re like family. We clash sometimes but we respect and care for each other.” Pitts, a 39-year-old Fredericksburg, Va., native, came to Washington 17 years ago from Rehoboth to work at the Blade as a 24-year-old sales executive. “I wanted a sales job that was pretty much Monday through Friday,” he says. “I thought this job would just be a stepping stone, but I never left.” Pitts had seen the Blade at D.C. gay

bars and loved that it was a paper wholly dedicated to gay issues. He’d worked previously as a personal trainer, church organist and seller of manufactured houses. Toughest part of the job? Keeping sales up, he says. “It’s a tough market out there.” Favorite part? “Interacting with a diverse group of people. You can be chit chatting with a car dealer one minute, a Realtor the next.” Tricks of the trade? “I’ve always believed in a consultative approach to sales,” Pitts says. “I’m not just selling them a product or service. I’m helping them sell more homes or more cars, etc., by helping them reach a loyal market of LGBT customers.” Pitts is single (divorced) and lives in Takoma. He enjoys working out, spending time with friends and his dogs and happy hour in his down time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? Since college. It sounds cliche but probably myself. I was called fag in school before I really even knew what I was. Guess they were right! Who’s your LGBTQ hero? Not one person but I’d say the previous generation. They really paved the way and made things so much better for us now. I can’t even imagine. What LGBTQ stereotype most annoys you? That most gay men are incapable of monogamy. Not judging open relationships or polyamory though. To each their own, but I do think there are some gay men that are one-man kind of guys. What’s your proudest professional achievement? Helping continue the legacy of the Blade with my business partners, Lynne Brown and Kevin Naff. What terrifies you? Never finding love again. What’s something trashy or vapid you love? Reality TV. I watch all the “Real Housewives” franchises. What’s your greatest domestic skill? I’m a pretty decent cook as I love to eat.

What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie or show? “Four Moons (Cuatro Lunas).” If you haven’t seen it, check it out! What’s your social media pet peeve? Constant thirst trap pics. I don’t mind one every now and again, but the constant need for validation. What would the end of the LGBTQ movement look like to you? That being LGBTQ is a non-issue. We have some ways to go. Forget politics, it’s about changing people’s mindsets. Why should it matter who one loves or is attracted to? What’s the most overrated social custom? Commercialism around the holidays. It should be about being with loved ones and showing love, not going broke buying gifts. What was your religion, if any, as a child and what is it today? I grew up Methodist. Consider myself spiritual now. What’s D.C.’s best hidden gem? Rock Creek Park — all of it, not just the parts we drive through. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? I think Ellen coming out and the “Puppy Episode.”

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proof. Proof a will dollar, be considered final and willceilings be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of A diller, the are taller! 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 foroors any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users The fl are of old heart pine. 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 I’ve coveted lovely home copyright, patent, trademark, tradethis 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 entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the and now it’s ormine! All mine! 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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Blade logo through the years

The name and look has changed over 50 years but commitment remained the same The look and name of the Blade has changed several times throughout its 50-year history: from its beginnings as a mimeographed one-sheeter called the Gay Blade in 1969, to a brief stint as the DC Agenda in 2010, to the well-known Washington Blade of today. Fifty years on, the Washington Blade continues to evolve with the times.
















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A play-ritual-celebration that is by, for, and about Black people BY ALESHEA HARRIS


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50 years of the Blade

D.C.’s first Pride festival was a block party held on Father’s Day in 1975. Washington Blade archive photo; photographer unknown

D.C.’s second Gay Pride Day was held on June 20, 1976. Washington Blade archive photo; photographer unknown

Gay delegates to the Democratic National Convention Gwen Craig and Yvonne King Kennedy hold signs in Madison Square Garden in 1980. Washington Blade archive photo by Lisa Keen

Members of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club hold a voter registration event at Mr. P’s in 1982. Washington Blade archive photo by Leigh H. Mosley

Mike Ziskind minds the Gay Men’s Chorus booth at Gay Pride on June 20, 1982. Washington Blade archive photo by Brad Green

Revelers ring in the new year at the popular club Tracks on Jan. 1, 1985. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

Mayor Marion Barry joins members of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club celebrating their organization’s 10 year anniversary on Jan. 13, 1985. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

Two young men make signs at Gay Pride Day in 1985. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

Lambda Rising is a popular LGBT bookstore that also serves as the center of the community. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

The D.C. Different Drummers perform on Nov. 10, 1985. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

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50 years of the Blade

Costumed partiers enjoy Halloween night in 1985. Washington Blade archive photo by Annette Lein

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs on Dec. 13, 1985. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

People join in ‘Hands Across America’ on May 25, 1986. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

Dupont Action Lights warn that 637 AIDS Cases had been reported in the D.C. Metro Area by June 3, 1986. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

Steve Heyl and Alan Fox participate in ‘Bootblack Night’ at the D.C. Eagle, sponsored by Brother Help Thyself. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

Lambda Rising co-owner Jim Bennett poses for a photo with gay writer Sasha Allyson in 1987. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

The National March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay rights is held on Oct. 11, 1987. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

The NAMES National AIDS Quilt is put on display in October, 1988. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

ACT-UP holds a civil disobedience action in front of the Supreme Court in 1987. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

ACT-UP holds a direct action at the National Institutes for Health on Oct. 11, 1988. Washington Blade photo by Doug Hinckle

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Congratulations on Your



Anniversary! Paid for by Patrick Kennedy for Ward 2, P.O. Box 18055, Washington, DC 20036. Marina Streznewski, Treasurer. A copy of our report is filed with the Director of Campaign Finance of the District of Columbia Board of Elections.


50 years of the Blade

An ACT-UP activist joins a protest in 1990. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

ACT-UP holds a ‘die-in’ at NIH on May 21, 1990. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

A vigil is held for Tyra Hunter on Sept. 20, 1990. Washington Blade archive photo by Clint Steib

Activists drape anti-gay Senator Jesse Helms’ house with a giant, inflatable condom. Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle

Two men embrace at a Pride celebration in 1994. Washington Blade archive photo by Kristi Gasaway

Young people attend the first Youth Gay Pride Day at Dupont Circle in 1996. Washington Blade archive photo by Clint Steib

Activists march along the street for the Dyke March in 2006. Washington Blade archive photo by Adam Cuthbert

Actor Blair Underwood opens a new AIDS Healthcare Foundation clinic on Sept. 24, 2009. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

The National Equality March is held on Sept. 11, 2009. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

President Barack Obama signs the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act on Oct. 28, 2009. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

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50 years of the Blade

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty signs marriage equality into law on Dec. 18, 2009. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

President Barack Obama signs the repeal of the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, thus allowing for open service of gay, lesbian and bisexual troops. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

Community activists hold a ‘silent march to end anti-LGBT violence’ on March 20, 2012. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

Marriage equality activists hold a rally in front of the United States Supreme Court during oral arguments on the Obergefell v. Hodges case on April 28, 2015. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

Activists celebrate following the Supreme Court’s announcement that it had found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

The White House was bathed in rainbow colors following the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

Tens of thousands of activists attended the Women’s March on Jan 21, 2017. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

‘Gays for Trump’ held a ‘DeploraBall’ on Jan. 20, 2017 following Donald Trump’s inauguration. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

Slain college student Matthew Shepard was interred at the National Cathedral on Oct. 8, 2019. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

Activists blocked the street in front of the Supreme Court during oral arguments in the cases deciding whether LGBT people are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key

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What the Blade means to me Former employees reflect on impact of the newspaper FROM STAFF REPORTS


As we wrap our yearlong celebration of the Washington Blade’s 50th anniversary, we wanted to provide space to former employees to reflect on what the newspaper means to them. Here is a sampling of what they had to say. Thanks to everyone for contributing. JERYL PARADE, Blade account executive, 2009-2016 “I need to tell you this is the last issue of the newspaper you will be delivering. It’s not you. It’s us. We’re shutting down.” “What will you do?” “Look for a job. But not here. In D.C.” “You should apply at the Blade.” “The Blade?” “We’ve been there trying to get their distribution business. You should see the offices. They’re beautiful”. “Yeah. OK. Thanks for the advice.” But I’m not gay. On July 26, 2009, I emailed publisher Lynne Brown my three-page resume with 18 bullet points of publishing

accomplishments. She responded on July 31, 2009. “Thanks for writing. There are only opportunities in life.” In a subsequent email we agreed to meet on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Lynne wrote, “We are generally a casual group. So dress to be yourself.” I did not know if she meant this or was being crafty. Should I really show up in a ‘90s Goth thing? I decided on a business suit. The Blade is, after all, a business. And then some! Happily I got the job. It was advertising sales. I had been a manager for 25 years, but when you work with clients, as I had, you are in sales. I am able to tell on the first day of a new job if it is going to work out. On that first day — even though all I did was read the employee manual — I felt good. I was breathing in fresh air. The next day I made my first sales call. It resulted in a sale. You know it can take 10 or more calls or emails to connect with someone and five or more contacts with said someone to seal the deal. If you’re lucky. Not so with the Blade. I was batting 1,000 percent! Still, I was feeling stilted compared to my debonair coworkers. I remember seeing a team photo from the previous holiday season. Everyone dressed in black. I don’t think anyone was smiling. I would never be as cool as that. About two and a half months into my tenure, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, we came in to work and were told (by the then parent company) to go home. Plenty has been written about the days and weeks that followed. I won’t go into that here. I consulted with my father about what to do next. I told him how the employees had a plan to keep publishing. My dad advised me to stay. He said, “It might be better.” From then on I learned how to work on a commission-only basis and have confidence in my own and our success. I had always worked at a desk, in an office. Now I was free. An advertiser would call me on my cell while I was on the streets of downtown D.C. How cool was I now? I was Blade cool. One of my most vivid memories of working for the Blade is from 2013 in the

Venetian Jewish Ghetto. My friend was on a tour while I was in the piazza taking a call from the Washington Women’s Rugby Football Club (DC Furies) about advertising in our LGBTQ Sports Issue. I had sent an email blast earlier that week from our hotel room in Rome to let everyone know I had previewed the content and it was amazing! Being “not gay” was never an issue. My advertisers and co-workers did not care which of the letters comprising the acronym I was. I had always assumed it was A for Ally. Now I know. It’s G. For Grateful. KEN SAIN, Blade news editor, 2003-2005 Perhaps the most important thing we have learned since Stonewall is that visibility is everything. Many of the advances the LGBTQ community has made in these past decades are because ordinary people had the courage to come out. Each generation has made it easier for the next, and the current one will make it even easier for those who follow. It was far easier in those early years for an Anita Bryant and others to go argue for discrimination when it was just some drag queens no one knew in San Francisco who were denied rights and being assaulted. It’s a lot harder to make that case when it’s your uncle, or sister, or child. So yes, give credit to the leaders for inspiring us and willing to be the face that took the criticism. But remember that each of us who had the courage to tell our truth to family and friends and co-workers also did our part to help change public opinion. And give some credit to the Washington Blade. For 50 years it has been covering the struggle, helping to inspire new generations by telling the stories of those who came before.  It was a source of news for our community when others didn’t even acknowledge our issues.  The Blade did so while maintaining the highest standards of journalism and ethics.   I know from my time as news editor what a vital role the Blade has in the community. I like to think that by covering the community CON T I N U E S ON PAGE 6 4

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Former Blade employees reflect on their tenure CONTINUED FROM PAGE 62 fairly and with integrity we achieved our goals of informing and in some cases entertaining readers. I also believe that by putting a spotlight on the stories of our community, we helped moved the needle on public opinion in some small way. I am deeply proud of my time working for the Blade and the work we did. There is something special about working with quality people on a righteous cause.  Our cause was to show that we could do great journalism for LGBTQ readers and keep them informed of the issues that that in many cases no one else was covering. In doing so, we helped make our community more visible.  And as we’ve learned during these past 50 years, being more visible is one key to being accepted. Happy 50th anniversary, Blade.


KRISTINA CAMPBELL, Blade reporter, managing editor and editor, 1992-2002 The thing I remember most about the Blade was the company’s elegant balance as a fun and often lighthearted atmosphere that was also a professional workplace where we were serious about our mission and our product. I felt close to everyone in the newsroom, especially as I rose the editor ranks and started supervising people who had been my colleagues. It was an honor to be trusted with that role. I remember the work being challenging but rewarding, every day of my tenure there, until the ownership changed and some workplace issues started clouding my focus on the news. I felt an obligation to the community the entire time I worked at the Blade, because it was so important to get the information correct, to be fair, to create a record for information and developments that the mainstream media was only beginning to cover. And I also felt a responsibility to act with objectivity and to give fair and respectful treatment to adversaries of the community or its civil rights work. That was sometimes difficult, but it made me a better journalist and, I think, a better person. I grew up in that job, and I had fun doing it. It was an exciting time to cover gay civil rights issues — news was always developing and it felt like we as a community were on the brink of big things. Indeed, the big things gradually took shape. I often think about the current presidential administration and how

working at the Blade would be so different now, and likely frustrating, as significant pieces of the progress we covered is at risk of (or in the process of) being rolled back. The Blade was, I insisted then and maintain now, the most reliable and professional source of hard news about the gay movement anywhere in the world when I worked there, for most of the 90s and into the next decade, And that was quite something to be part of. I always had such deep respect for the people who hired me and shaped me into a professional — Don Michaels and Lisa Keen — because they gave their careers to being the daily historians of a civil rights movement. The same is true for the longest-tenured Blade staffer in history, Lou Chibbaro Jr., whose professionalism and hard-nosed reporting style made each issue of the paper better. I was fond of everyone on the staff, but those three really made that newspaper into an institution I was proud to participate in. RHONDA SMITH, Blade reporter, features editor, 1997-2005; intern, 1984 I was a journalism undergraduate at Howard University during the early 1980s when I became an intern at the Washington Blade under the tutelage of Lisa Keen and Don Michaels. At the time, I was just coming out and trying to find my way in the world as the daughter of a Southern Baptist minister and a public school teacher from a small town in Texas. The Blade helped shape a key part of my identity in a way that few others did at that time. I get nitty-gritty details about the LGBTQ experience from the Blade that other media organizations might still tend to gloss over. Writers and editors at the Blade take a deeper dive on topics that help determine the extent to which we thrive. The Blade reminds me that my sexual orientation is a blessing that should be embraced. My favorite memory working at the Blade: Watching Lou Chibbaro, Jr. get the story. BRIAN MOYLAN, Blade intern, reporter and features editor, 2000-2006 Gather round, children and let Grandpa Moylan tell you about the bad old days CON T I N U E S ON PAGE 6 6

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before marriage equality, Grindr, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race“. In 2000, during my senior year at George Washington University I was about to graduate and needed a job badly. As an English major with a minor in Thursday College Night at Badlands, I didn’t have many prospects, so I opened up the Washington Blade and faxed my resume to every job listing in the want ads. Don’t worry, kids, if you don’t understand half of the things in the previous sentence. The only two responses I got from my resume were from the Blade itself and the Crew Club, both of them situated on 14th Street when you were more likely to see a prostitute or a shooting in the area rather than an Aesop. I interviewed at the Blade and, as I was getting dressed to go to my interview at the Crew Club, managing editor Kristina Campbell called and told me I got the job. I decided to ditch the Crew Club and become a journalist instead of a jizz mopper. It was my Gwyneth Paltrow “Sliding Doors” moment. I was an editorial assistant making $22,000 a year, which was not very much even back then. One of my first responsibilities was to go to the Supreme Court and pick up the rulings for Boy Scouts of America V. Dale, where the court ruled it was perfectly acceptable for private groups to discriminate against gay people. It was a startling setback and I thought, “This is going to be a tough job if the news is always this bad.” The news, back then was often bad: Iowa’s governor rescinded gay protections already in place, several states banned same-sex adoptions, the Millennium March stiffed its vendors, hate crimes bills got voted down left and right, “Brokeback Mountain” lost to “Crash.” Seriously? Crash?! To make it even worse, Cobalt even burned down. Then George W. Bush was elected and things got even worse as that closet case Ken Mehlman used gay marriage bans to stoke Republican turnout at the polls. Often being at work was painful. But looking back at my time at the Blade (where I eventually rose to be the features editor before I quit in 2006 to move to New York), I don’t remember all of that awful news. Most of all what I remember is the amazing people I worked with, especially Campbell, Lyn Stoessen, and Will O’Bryan, the patient lesbians who taught me how to be a journalist. (Don’t worry, Will always selfidentified as a lesbian.) And of course I think of Kevin Naff, still running the gay paper of record, and Lou Chibbaro Jr., the best reporter I have ever encountered in

20 years in journalism. (I also think of the one coworker I slept with, but we should probably not be naming names.) Secondly, what I remember are all of the amazing events I covered. As an editorial assistant I had to go to a gay community meeting every week and report on it. I met gay SCUBA divers, Black and White Men Together, gay gun enthusiasts, Log Cabin Republicans, and gay affinity groups for every religion you could possibly imagine, including gay atheists. I think of every High Heel Race, all of the Black Prides, each of Ed Bailey’s amazing Madonnaramas at Velvet Nation, all the gay cowboys at the Atlantic Stampede, every film I reviewed at the Reel Affirmations film festival (even the wretched musical based on Matthew Shepherd’s murder). The Blade ushered a 21-year-old kid from a small town in Connecticut into a gay community far more vibrant than he ever could have imagined. It taught me that no matter how bad things got or how slowly progress came, that we always had each other, that there was always a reason to celebrate, and another Halloween was just around the corner. By and large many of the things we were fighting for back in the early 2000s — marriage equality, the end of the gay military ban, outing Ken Mehlman —  have come to pass. Gay news these days is much sunnier and is covered by every outlet from Vice to the New York Times. But that doesn’t mean that the Blade is obsolete. The one thing it will always have going for it is that it is of the community and by the community. No one else had the dedication or support to make it through 50 years of the bad old times. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that legacy. Back in 2000, the Blade gave me a job and since then it has given me a career in media. But the most important thing it gave me, that it still gives me, is hope. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN, Blade intern, 2019 It’s important for the LGBTQ community and our issues to be treated respectfully and normalized in the same manner that mainstream media does for the cisgenderheterosexual community. The Blade takes our lives and opinions on all topics seriously and not just as “quirky” news. For example, the Blade would interview a drag performer about their political views and that becomes the news whereas the news for the straight press is simply that someone performs in drag. Their level of education or insights aren’t of interest.  I’ve read a few other LGBTQ publications in the region and very few strive to elevate LGBTQ discourse beyond the sensational.

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Longest-serving Blade staff share memories Brown, Rockstroh, Chibbaro recall scoops, clients, challenges and more By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM

From left: LYNNE BROWN, PHIL ROCKSTROH, LOU CHIBBARO, JR. and JOEY DiGUGLIELMO, who conducted an interview with the other three in September. Washington Blade photo by Michael Lavers

I interviewed the Blade’s three longest-serving employees — Lynne Brown, Phil Rockstroh and Lou Chibbaro, Jr. — on Sept. 12 at National City Christian Church in Washington. On the occasion of the Blade’s 50th anniversary, I wanted to get their thoughts and experiences down for posterity. The 90-minute conversation will be uploaded soon in five installments on YouTube. Thanks to Michael Key for the videography. These are highlights from the conversation. PHIL ROCKSTROH Awareness of the Blade: I was working in Indianapolis for the Hardware Association and traveled all over the country doing research. … In every town I went to, I looked for a gay newspaper and when I saw the Blade I was like, “Wow, this really is a newspaper,” not just a bar rag which is what I was accustomed to seeing in Indianapolis. Joining the staff: In early 1986, a friend of mine had just moved here and said, “Phil, the Washington Blade is hiring, that would be perfect for you,” so I came and applied and here I am. First title: Sales rep. Current title: I handle accounts

receivable, classified advertising, credit card processing and anything else they need done in the office. Early memories: So I moved to Washington in April 1986, April 6 was my first issue, at the time I was I think we were 24 pages, maybe 32 on average and a woman by the name of Shannon Rodes was the sales manager and she was really a strong, excited woman who encouraged me to go out and drum up business. … The opportunity seemed immense. Logistics: We didn’t have fax machines then, so as far as operating in the business, I would bring notes in from a client, put those all down on paper, give them to the production department, they would typeset them and pull images and do it all by hand, then I had to take a proof back to the client by hand. I think my recollection is that maybe there were 16 people staff. … It was just so different. I think it was like four-five years before we actually got computers in the office and that was a big step too. We still weren’t e-mailing proofs, but we could manage account databases then. Location: 930 F Street. The 9:30 Club was downstairs and we were upstairs. It could get noisy. There would be a nighttime shift if the paper wasn’t

done, we would be there working and it would be loud, but now we’re next to a construction zone. Coming out: I came out to my family in 1976 and then came out to the rest of the world over time. Clients: Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse. One of the smartest things that I ended up doing Shannon suggested that I take our directories and really make them so we had lots of doctors and therapists available to our readers. … Skewers was an early advertiser. Brought to you by Andy Shallal. It was a mediterranean restaurant. Cafe Luna, Olsson’s Books, Capitol Video. Growth: When I started in ’86 I said we were either 24 or 32 pages, it was rare that we had national ads then, by the time that we hit 1990, 1991, 1993, the march — that publication was 216 pages and there was a lot of national ads in there. It had gradually grown and unfortunately the reason why it grew was because if the awareness of the gay community from the AIDS crisis, it put the gay community out there and everybody was like, “Wow, there’s a lot of people that I’m missing marketing to.” Biggest get: Kitchen Bazaar, a Bed, Bath and Beyond-type store on Connecticut Avenue and they had several locations. I had been after them for years and one day they just finally called me back and it was astounding and resulted in full-page ads regularly. Longevity: I came to work at the Blade because I believed in bringing the mission of the gay community, giving it much more visibility and bringing it to the world. It gave me a good feeling to know I was a part of that. LYNNE BROWN Awareness of the Blade: I came to Washington because of a newspaper, but not the Washington Blade. But I read the Blade, saw the Blade and used the Blade in one failed courtship. Joining the staff: When I interviewed for a sales position, I think the thing that cinched it was that I was a long-haired lesbian who didn’t really scare (the sales

director) and I had a dog instead of a cat. I said I had been reading the Blade while in San Diego on graduate work. He didn’t believe me and got up and went and checked his own subscription list and low and behold I was telling him the truth. Not sure if it was the subscription that cinched it or the fact that he found a sales person who wouldn’t lie to him. First title: This was like 1987-88 and I was a junior account executive to Philip, who taught me everything I know. Title today: publisher Early memories: There was an ad traffic person and Phil and me. The preponderance of income came from classifieds in the ’80s. … Any non-profit went to him. and they had pretty strict geographic areas, Phil had Dupont Circle, I had Capitol Hill, I had Virginia, he had Maryland, it didn’t make a lot of sense, but prospecting calls from those areas came to you and on your down time if you wanted to go walk a street or visit somebody and ask for referrals, that was all on you. As Phil said, without a fax machine or a computer or a cell phone, and my first cell phone was this big and it was the first one and it lasted two days before it was pick-pocketed out of my shoulder bag there on the corner by the Chesapeake House. Location: In the Victor Building on 9th Street. On the corner of H and 9th was a huge parking lot and a teenytiny standalone building that held the Chesapeake House. The city was a very different place then. Clients: I was very fond of Tracks. I can’t not mention two advertisers by name and that would be Tracks the nightclub, owned and operated by Marty Chernoff, who always said he was straight and owned a club in Denver as well. … And early in my career, a young man from Nebraska named John Guggenmos and his business partner Ed Bailey had a management arrangement with Marty and called me in and they were gung ho. I want to thank Ed personally for the 1993 March on Washington ad he CON T I N U E S ON PAGE 7 2

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’93 March on Washington, N.Y. AIDS trip among memorable experiences

From left: PHIL ROCKSTROH says a friend alerted him that the Blade was hiring and he’d be ‘a perfect fit’; LYNNE BROWN in her early years at the Blade; and LOU CHIBBARO, JR., the Blade’s longest-serving employee, has been writing for the paper since the mid-‘70s. Chibbaro

says a strong interest in LGBT and political issues has kept him at the paper through the decades. Washington Blade photos

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 70 bought. It was 17 full pages, he was open 24 hours a day and he did two ads for each 12 hours through the run of the weekend. …The other fun moment in my life was when a guy from Boston who owned the Safari Club came to D.C. to open the Crew Club and DC Allen is a character in his own right and a brilliant entrepreneur. My favorites are these repeat customers who you help when they’re young and they stay with you forever. 1993 March on Washington: It was set for 80-90 pages …. then I turned in my numbers and it went up to 260. … Don (Michaels) complained bitterly that I was the only one who made money that week because the larger press run meant that the deliveries spilled over, the paper was this thick so you can’t get more than 10 in a bundle when normally you get 25, you can normally put 150 of those on a truck and deliver them once, he spent the whole weekend delivering that paper to places over and over and over again and I guess that annoyed him.

Biggest get: Very early on … I signed a high-end men’s clothing store called Britches in Georgetown. (Don Michaels) was very covetous of that account. … Also Schneider’s on Capitol Hill became a really great account for me. Longevity: I came to the Blade in deep poverty and debt and the commission sales aspect of my life had proved I could make a living and the Blade let me be me. … It was a wonderful coalescence of my skill set, my need, and my identity coming together in a 9-5 format. LOU CHIBBARO, JR. Awareness of the Blade: I’d moved to Washington in 1972. … A person from a gay counseling center in New York told me about the Blade and said it would be a good resource. Location: In a building on 19th Street on Dupont Circle on the second floor above Lambda Rising, the gay bookstore. It was a townhouse that had been converted to offices. Joining the staff: One day I was in the building to go to the bookstore and I just walked upstairs and met the editor

at the time and told him I was interested and that’s how it all began. Like so many of us back then, he wrote under a pseudonym, Christian deForrest. His real name was Chris Crislip and he worked for the Defense Department. Sadly he’s no longer with us, he died of AIDS. First title: I don’t know that we had titles. I started as a freelancer in ’76. Title today: Senior news reporter. Early memories: I was writing about local politics. In 1976, a presidential election year, I got my first scoop as one might say, brought to my attention by Paul Kuntzler, who’s still around. He tipped me off that they were planning to nominate a gay person for president … just so the person would have an opportunity to speak on the platform at the Democratic National Convention, which we put on the front page of the Blade. Ultimately it was vetoed by gay leaders because they didn’t want to offend then-Gov. Jimmy Carter. Growth: I came on full-time in I believe ’84. It was a weekly then and it was growing and advertising was increasing to thanks to Phil and Lynne and others so they had more financial capacity to hire

someone so I believe I started as halftime and within a few years was full time. Major stories: (AIDS was) something that started as a curiosity but it wasn’t long before we knew this was an enormous situation and I learned a lot about it. … Lisa Keen, the then editor, and I traveled to New York and arranged meetings with the organization that became the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. They were really in the midst of it and I believe we may have even met Larry Kramer at that time. They briefed us on it and said this is what you have to expect will come. … some of the businesses complained that reporting on it would be hurtful to their business but we said as diplomatically as possible, we think this is something the community needs to know about. Ruffling feathers: It really goes back to the very history of the Blade. The founders — I think it might have even been in Frank Kameny’s basement, were very clear they wanted it to be independent of the Mattachine Society, which was Washington’s first major LGBT organization. They did not want the Gay Blade, as it was known then, to be a (mouthpiece) for the gay organizations, but a serious news organization. So when things went wrong with these organizations — they would run out of money or something — we’d report it and they’d get angry. … Also some of the clubs sadly, it’s not their fault, but if a fight or disruption would happen there, we’d report it and they didn’t like that and would let us know. (ROCKSTROH: Periodically there’d be something that would happen at JR.’s and Lou would report it and I’d go, “Oh God, Eric (Little) is going to kill me.” And he did, you know, but we’d move on and he continued to be one of my best accounts. BROWN: We’ve been put out of almost every gay bar in the city at one time or another.) Longevity: I think it’s because I’m fascinated by the subject matter. As a gay person, I came to Washington because I was a political junkie, so this was the place to be. Slowly but certainly I got to know the community quite well and I just find the types of stories we do very interesting. They have significance, they can have impact both internally and externally by educating the general public, so to speak, on what our community is all about.

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‘It all started with an ad in the Washington Blade’ PAUL CREGO, left, and ISAIAH POOLE on their wedding day — July 24, 2010. Photo by Sharon Farmer; courtesy the couple

Personal classified ads, as many Washington Blade readers will recall, used to be a huge thing. They started appearing in the early ‘70s not long after the paper launched in 1969. “That was the first type of advertising that existed,” says Phil Rockstroh, the Blade’s classifieds manager, who has been with the paper since 1986. “The easiest thing to do was to add a couple of lines of text on the back page.” There were no photos but the ads were “cluttered” with acronyms. “It was GWM, 34, searching for GBM,” with “GWM” standing for gay white man and “GBM” standing for gay black man. “Trying to figure out what half of [the acronyms] meant was always the fun,” Rockstroh says. Two men who remember them fondly are Isaiah Poole and Paul Crego. They met in the summer of 1999 when Poole placed a Blade personal ad stating he was looking for a relationship with a man “for whom spirituality was important.” One of the men who responded was Paul Crego, a former United Methodist minister with a theology doctorate from Harvard. “His ad had the word ‘spiritual.’ That’s the tag that I attached to,” Crego says. The couple says these types of personal ads were a common way for gay men to meet in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. “Of course, you could do the bar scene. But I just really felt that the best thing for me to meet people who were outside of my circle would be putting an ad and see what would happen,” Poole says. Poole remembers that the Blade had multiple sections for personal ads, one

for those looking for “encounters,” or hookups, and another for those looking for long-term relationships. Lesbians, bi and trans folks also placed Blade personal ads. “At the peak — I would say in the late ‘90s — we would have a whole page of men’s personals, a half page of women’s,” Rockstroh says. “And classifieds altogether had grown into maybe six pages.” The section continued to grow until the internet all but wiped it out. “Craigslist and all of the phone services became more sophisticated and took us out of the pie,” Rockstroh says. “Now, Grindr, Tinder and other apps have made ads in the Blade even less common,” though a few still appear. Crego and Poole went on a date to a Filipino restaurant in 1999. Though the restaurant is now “long gone,” Crego says, he and Poole are still together. They got married on July 24, 2010, soon after marriage equality legislation passed in the D.C. Council. And their 10year anniversary is fast approaching. Originally from the D.C. area, Poole grew up in an adoptive family and became a reporter after high school. He started at The Washington Times, where he covered Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign and served in both writing and editing roles for a decade until 1991. “There was an actual gay mafia at The Washington Times in the 1980s,” Poole says. Following his time there, Poole floated between local papers and even worked for an AIDS advocacy group for a bit. In 2000, he left D.C. for three years to earn his bachelor’s degree in journalism

Local married couple met via personals in 1999 By JAMES WELLEMEYER at Penn State. “I managed to skate through a huge chunk of my life without an undergraduate degree and felt like I had gotten to the end of skating.” Poole and Crego maintained their relationship while Poole studied in Pennsylvania. “I wanted to be sure that Paul was the person with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I would say that Paul’s persistence made a difference,” Poole says. Crego remembers taking the bus from D.C. to Pennsylvania to visit Poole on weekends. “When someone genuinely loves you, it’s stupid to say no to that, especially when he is as good a person as Paul is,” Poole says. Once Poole completed his degree, he returned to D.C. to work as a reporter for Congressional Quarterly. He now serves as the editorial manager at the Democracy Collaborative. Crego’s path has been a little less complicated. From just north of Syracuse, N.Y., he has worked at the Library of Congress for more than 20 years. Both religious, Crego and Poole always valued marriage as an institution. And both men were involved in early battles for gay rights. While at The Washington Times, Poole worked with other LGBT journalists to help establish the Association of LGBTQ Journalists (NLGJA) in the mid-1980s. “It was about a dozen of us who were involved in early meetings to get that organization launched. It’s now a huge thing,” Poole says. “I think partly because of the NLGJA, it’s not a big deal that

Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon have shows on CNN.” Crego presided at a 1984 union service of two men in Syracuse through the Metropolitan Community Church. “I did it with the proviso that my name was not to be mentioned anywhere because I could have been kicked out of my job,” he says. The Syracuse Post Standard picked up on the story and it soon reached The New York Times. “You can look in The New York Times of September 5, 1984, and there’s an article called ‘Homosexual Weddings Stir Dispute.’ They mention the minister of a mainline denomination. That’s me,” Crego says. On the day same-sex marriage became legal in D.C. in 2010, Crego emailed Poole, asking, “When are you going to get married?” “That got his attention, and he showed it to everybody in his office,” Crego says. Poole and Crego wed in July of that year. “Although it wasn’t on the hottest day that summer, it was 102. And the church wasn’t air-conditioned,” Crego says. The wedding drew approximately 80 people, Poole remembers, including three best men and six clergy members from multiple denominations. Poole and Crego now live with two cats, Tina and Ketedan, in Northeast D.C. “We go to movies, plays and musicals. We saw ‘Hamilton’ when it was only on Broadway two weeks. We got tickets well before they were $1,000 a piece,” Crego says. “And it all started,” Poole says, “With an ad in the Washington Blade.”

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Praise for Blade coverage of the Americas Recent years saw expanded international coverage By MICHAEL K. LAVERS MLAVERS@WASHBLADE.COM

ZULEIKA, a transgender woman from El Salvador’s San Vicente Department, is among the LGBTI migrants who live at a shelter in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, that Respetttrans Chihuahua, a local advocacy group, runs. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers

The Washington Blade in recent years has significantly expanded its coverage of LGBTI issues outside the mainland U.S. The Blade since 2012 has reported from Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, Israel, the West Bank and the U.N. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz; former Costa Rican Vice President Ana Helena Chacón; Colombian Sen. Angélica Lozano and Randy Boissonnault, who is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s adviser on LGBTI issues, are among the myriad officials whom the Blade has interviewed over the last decade. The Blade also has correspondents and contributors who are based in Miami, Cuba, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Botswana and

Bosnia and Herzegovina and regularly hosts LGBTI activists from around the world at its D.C. offices. The Blade in May made national headlines when the Cuban government prohibited this reporter from entering the country. “For me, the Blade sums up some of the best of LGBT+ reporting in the Americas,” said Hugo Greenhalgh, editor of Openly, an LGBTI news website managed by the Thompson Reuters Foundation. “The strength of its on-theground reporting shows in the quality of the articles it sources not just in the United States, but in the vital stories it uncovers across Central America in particular.” “We at Openly are proud to share the same mission in covering crucial LGBT+ stories, which is why we focus on global issues affecting the wider LGBT+ community around

the world, at a time when this coverage has never been more needed,” he added. Elias Jahshan was the editor of the Star Observer, an LGBTI newspaper in Australia, from 2013-2016. Jahshan, who now lives in London, said the Blade over the last 50 years “has been instrumental in highlighting news and people from the LGBT community — not just in Washington, D.C., not just in the U.S., but also worldwide.” “Their coverage of politics from Capitol Hill or the White House in the context of the LGBT community is second-to-none,” said Jahshan. “I particularly admire how they pursue journalism in its truest form: Objective, with a unique nose for news and interviews and most importantly, speaking truth to power.” Jahshan also noted this year is the Star Observer’s 40th anniversary. “This embodiment of journalism is becoming increasingly rare in queer media,” said Jahshan. “It’s something we should never take for granted.” Activists around the world are also celebrating the Blade’s 50th anniversary. Maria Sjõdin, deputy executive director of OutRight Action International, a New York-based global LGBTI advocacy group, said the Blade “has been around as long as the modern LGBTIQ movement, and the creation of an LGBTIQ specific media outlet which reflected and highlighted LGBTIQ issues undoubtedly gave the movement an immeasurable boost.” “Beyond the LGBTIQ community, by elevating the voices of LGBTIQ people at

a time when those voices were concealed, sharing stories of LGBTIQ people’s lives, and reporting on policy and legislation developments in an LGBTIQ-inclusive way, the Washington Blade played a significant role in demystifying who LGBTIQ people are and changing the narratives used to describe us, which, in turn, was crucial to the gains in international and national level recognition and protection of LGBTIQ people,” added Sjödin. Sjödin also noted the “LGBTIQ movement is a global one” and the Blade’s “coverage of international issues contributes to a deeper understanding of the diversity, challenges and opportunities LGBTIQ people face around the world both within and beyond the LGBTIQ community, ensuring that we are better equipped to keep fighting for LGBTIQ equality globally.” Maria Fontenelle of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, an LGBTI advocacy group that works throughout the eastern Caribbean, agreed with Sjödin. “The Washington Blade has amplified the issues, the advocacy, the activists in smaller Anglo-Caribbean countries, exposing our work to audiences that we may otherwise have not reached,” said Fontenelle. “It has therefore contributed to advancing the conversation on full recognition of the rights of LGBTQI people in the region.” CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM


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The City of West Hollywood Congratulates the Washington Blade on 50 Years of LGBT News Reporting.


City of West Hollywood California 1984

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Activists, business owners on the Blade’s impact Praise for news and features coverage over the years FROM STAFF REPORTS press over the past year, this coverage of our issues remains the exception, rather than the norm. I can count on the Blade to always cover the issues that are important to the LGBTQ community.   What’s one Blade story you’ve never forgotten?  I always got excited when someone from the D.C. Center was featured in the Queery section of the Blade. It may seem silly to some people to ask a community leader what their favorite movie or hobby is, but it always made me feel a little bit more connected to people.  


We asked a few local activists and business owners to share their thoughts on how the Blade has impacted them. Their responses follow. Freddie Lutz Owner, Freddie’s Beach Bar Describe your first encounter with the Blade.   Forty years ago while trying to place an ad for Cafe Italia, I met Lynne Brown who was so helpful to me and has remained a good friend. My manager Tony Rivenbark recounts his experience in early 1996 while in high school. He’d heard about the Blade and carefully entered a bookstore in Ballston Commons Mall and when nobody was looking he snuck it into his coat, raced home to read through it in his locked bedroom door. It was his LGBT eye opener.  How has the Blade impacted your organization or business? As the only gay bar in Northern Virginia, the Blade has consistently supported us over the years. What do you get from the Blade that you can’t find elsewhere? The Blade is the PRIMARY source of investigative journalism FOR the LGBT community about issues AFFECTING the LGBT community locally, regionally, nationally and worldwide. David Mariner Executive director, CAMP Rehoboth Describe your first encounter  with the Blade.  

The Blade interviewed me many, many years ago when I maintained a progressive LGBT website/blog called  I still have the article (somewhere). Although the site hasn’t been active for a long time, I still occasionally hear from someone who was impacted by it.   How has the Blade  impacted your organization or business?  The Blade has been such a wonderful partner for both the D.C. Center (where I used to be executive director) and for CAMP Rehoboth (where I am currently executive director).  The LGBTQ community in D.C. has always had a strong connection to Rehoboth, and that is well documented in the pages of the Washington Blade. From sharing photos from Sundance or Women’s FEST, writing news stories about local LGBTQ issues or promoting our events, we appreciate the Blade’s support of CAMP Rehoboth! What do you get from the Blade that you can’t find elsewhere?   Local LGBTQ news is so important right now and the Blade is one of the few places you can find it. D.C. and Rehoboth are both places where the LGBTQ community has made a lot of progress, but much work still remains.  We make progress when we understand the local issues, and are engaging our local elected officials.  Local news coverage is such an important part of this effort.  Why is the Blade important to LGBTQ Washington?  While we have seen some great articles about LGBTQ issues in the mainstream

Don Mike Mendoza Founder, La-Ti-Do monthly cabaret Describe your first encounter  with the Blade.   I was asked to participate in the Queery and I was featured as a community member doing something new and unique with my company LA TI DO Productions. How has the Blade impacted  your organization or business? It’s been very helpful in drawing attention to our events, but also to our major anniversaries as a newly forming organization within the D.C. arts community. What do you get from the Blade  that you can’t find elsewhere? Accessibility to its staff on collaborative awareness campaigns and features. We would not have gotten as much word out about what we do without the help of The Blade. Why is the Blade important to LGBTQ Washington? Underrepresented voices always need to be heard and The Blade makes that possible for the LGBTQ community in the way that they show their dedication to supporting the community with inclusive coverage. What’s one Blade story you’ve never forgotten? My Queery! I was honored to be a part of it!

Jose Guttierez Activist/founder, Latino GLBT History Project Describe your first encounter  with the Blade.   My first encounter with the Blade was when I attended the 1993 National March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. The  encounter  was extraordinary and magical because the  Blade  covered the 1993 National March and also for the complete information about our LGBTQ community. The Washington  Blade  was the  first  newspaper that I saw communicating the news, the cultural, social and political events. I also remember that the  Blade  cover all the obituaries of all our LGBTQ family including my friends that died from the AIDS epidemic.       How has the Blade  impacted your organization or business? The Blade impacted the Latino GLBT History Project (LHP), the D.C. Latino Pride, our Latinx LGBTQ community and my life in a positive way. The  Blade  supported our  first  D.C. local and national groups since the late 1980s. The  Blade  helped us in covering our early events and our historic Latinx LGBTQ exhibits at the old D.C. Center and in some museums. The Blade supports our familia and helped to advertise our monthly meetings and activities. The Blade impacted my life and provided me the tools to communicate with other groups, organizations and with other Latinx LGBTQ people.   What do you get from the Blade that you can’t find elsewhere? The Washington  Blade  is one of the most important newspapers for our LGBTQ community in the world. The  Blade  provided local, national and international news and information that you can’t find in other newspapers. The  Blade  is an oasis of information including our local news, the calendar of events, cultural activities, obituaries, political news and other important information. It’s an honor and a privilege to read every week the Blade and to call all the staff my familia.  

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RUBBERBANDance GROUP Friday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m.

THE FOUR SEASONS Zurich Chamber Orchestra featuring Daniel Hope, violin Sunday Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.

Aquila Theatre GEORGE ORWELL’S 1984 Saturday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m.

CHANTICLEER A Chanticleer Christmas Saturday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m.

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons / Max Richter: Recomposed

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‘Define yourself’ — Ariadne Getty on family, philanthropy and queer activism ‘I encourage everybody who has any way of being part of a cause to make the time and become involved’ By KEVIN SESSUMS

‘I’ve never pretended that I made a penny in my life. I inherited this money and I’m a steward. I have to honor it,’ says philanthropist ARIADNE GETTY.

“Money is like manure,” said J. Paul Getty. “You have to spread it around or it smells.” Getty himself was redolent of a rascally sort of rapaciousness. He was also a tough old coot with a tumescent appetite for beautiful women. But he had a soft spot for one particular beauty in his life: his granddaughter and godchild, Ariadne Getty, now 57, who has always been a bit of a rascal herself — one part punk, one part princess. “I’ve never taken any of this for granted,” the philanthropist tells me when she is read that quote from her grandfather. “I’ve never pretended that I made a penny in my life. I inherited this money and I’m a steward. I have to honor it. Actually, I have to honor my greatgrandmother who set up the trust. She didn’t trust my grandfather because he was a womanizer,” she says, confirming this lede paragraph and letting loose a signature burst of laughter, a quick gale of it that can blow through a conversation like a gust of gumption. Such frankness is refreshing as she sits at a table in her Los Angeles home on this conference call as we converse in the disembodied way that such calls engender on top of the already stilted badinage of an interview’s back-andforth, a kind of disembodied, distilled discourse all its own with which such wealthy patrons raised by the wolves of fame and fortune engage journalists after having been coached to do so by the experts they hire to smooth their heralded heredity into but a smattering of personality quirks and wisecracks. Call it the knowingness of the known. Getty has an expert publicist and the expert head of her charitable foundation there at the table with her at each of her elbows, which I imagine to be well-lotioned, even though she is unafraid to throw such elbows around a bit roughly if need be in the staid world of philanthropy. That is her charm: her ability, elbows ready, to challenge others to find their inner iconoclast even as they

serve a higher purpose to better society as a whole. Yet there is nothing slippery about this iconoclastic woman even if the emollients of lotion and lavish privilege come to mind when speaking with her. Indeed, Ariadne Getty speaks haltingly — a bit shyly — and chooses her words quite carefully. This is not out of a fear of being misquoted so much as it is out of the seriousness with which she takes her philanthropic impulse. When she was first starting her charitable foundation, she came up with a one-line, two-word mission statement: “Unpopular Causes.” It has since expanded to the more generalized assertion that the goal of the Ariadne Getty Foundation is to “work with partners worldwide to improve the lives of individuals and communities through large-scale investments & handson advocacy.” The focus most recently at the foundation has been shoring up LGBTQ organizations, such as the Los Angeles LGBT Center and GLAAD. Getty joined the board of directors of the latter in 2016 and last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos she pledged $15 million to the organization, which focuses on media and how we as a culture can rewrite the script for LGBTQ acceptance. I ask her if maybe her daughter Nats Getty’s mission statement for her genderfluid streetwear line, Strike Oil, might be an even better fit for her foundation. It reads, in part: “For the misfits and the outcasts, The unseen and the unheard, For anyone who dares to be different, Because different is dope.” She readily agrees and tells me that Nats and her brother August, also a fashion designer but one with a more high-end couture aesthetic focused on the female client, are her “beacons of information and light.” They are her only two children. August is gay. Nats is a lesbian and married to Gigi Gorgeous, CON T I N U E S ON PAGE 1 0 3

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His deadliest enemy is his jealous heart.

Otello DC premiere of new work! Fri, Nov 8

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STRATHMORE.ORG | 301.581.5100 O CTO BE R 18, 2019 • WA SHINGTONBLA D E.COM • 81

WNO’s Presenting Sponsor

Groups call (202) 416-8400 For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540 Generous support for WNO Italian Opera is provided by Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello. Additional support for Otello is provided by the Dallas Morse Coors Foundation for the Performing Arts and the Dr. M. Lee Pearce Foundation, Inc

Queer identity paramount to Frenchie Davis’ identity

‘Idol,’ ‘Voice’ and Broadway alum to perform at Blade Gala By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

FRENCHIE DAVIS says she’s been honored to work with many out performers on the Great White Way. Photo courtesy Left of Center Productions

Frenchie Davis is not only a bisexual singer, actress and activist, she’s also an avid fan of the 1980s television series, “The Golden Girls.” “You know, Bea Arthur didn’t get her first television job until she was almost 50 years old,” Davis says during a Blade interview. “You have to blaze your own trail. So, don’t try to follow my footsteps because I don’t even know where the hell they lead yet because I’m still walking them.” Davis’ professional journey began when she left California to study theater at Howard University by day and sing in D.C.’s drag clubs at night. She performs tonight at the Blade’s 50th Anniversary Gala. “I sang at the Edge, at Tracks, at all the old clubs,” Davis, 40, says. “Because we tip our performers. Those tips bought groceries and paid for books.” She credits those early experiences with helping her grow not only as a performer but as a person, and says “they were my aunts, uncles and surrogate parents.”

While still a student, Davis traveled to Germany as a “Little Shop of Horrors” cast member before returning to audition for “American Idol.” The community came through again and helped pay her way to New York. “Every dollar raised for me to go was from someone who believed in me, so I was like, ‘Damn, now I have to see this shit through.’” Davis delivered performances notable for both her talent and controversy. She points out she grew from that experience, which led to several Broadway and other stage performances. “I knew Frenchie from ‘Rent,’” says bisexual writer, producer and actor J.C. Gonzalez. “As I was the first understudy to the original ‘Angel.’ She joined the cast after I had left, but everyone knows everyone on Broadway.” Davis also marveled at all of the notable actors she came to know and work with over the years, including Billy Porter, who this year became the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy award for outstanding leading actor for his work in “Pose.” Davis and Porter worked together on “Dreamgirls” in 2004. “Just being able to share the stage with talented people who are members of this community and opening doors for other people,” Davis says. “That’s really powerful and I feel really proud to be a part of that.” In 2017 she received the Jose Esteban Munoz award from the Center for LGBTQ Studies (CLAGS) at the Graduate Center, CUNY for her portrayal as the butch bartender “Henri” in “The View UpStairs.” The UpStairs Lounge was a New Orleans’ gay bar that was the target of an arson attack in 1973. It was the deadliest gay club massacre in the U.S. prior to the 2016 Pulse shooting. “The reason we don’t know much about it is because it was the early ’70s,” Davis says. “And the few who survived the fire were so afraid of being outed that nobody ever talked about it.” Davis and other cast members pored

over police photos while preparing for the production. She recalls being moved by the burned body of a young man who failed to escape out a window. “There was a straight club across the street,” she says. “And nobody there tried to help. Someone even said, ‘At least it burned their dresses off.’ That broke me.” The experience and the award reaffirmed Davis’ connection to the community. But that connection hasn’t been an easy one. “We have to acknowledge that there are racists in our community. I’ve heard white gay people use the (n-word),” Davis says, feeling an inconsistency between how people of color are treated for homophobia compared to how LGBT people are treated for racism. “And don’t get me started on biphobia,” she says. “We all know of a (lesbian) who got pregnant for having sex with a guy. We all know one. So, it’s not as cut and dry as our community often places pressure on people to make it.” Davis says life is complex and she’s even open to a polyamorous situation because of her demanding work schedule, which was a source of frustration in her previous relationship. “It was hard because I traveled a lot. … If I’m singing on a cruise ship, I’m in the middle of the ocean, I might not be able to call you.” For now, Davis is looking to upcoming holiday concerts in San Diego and Palm Springs as well as dropping a couple of indie mixtapes of covers called “Blunts and Alkaline Water” and “Coffee and Cocktails.” The first merges her love of acoustic cabaret and her love of hip hop. The second is a collection of her favorite jazz standards and Broadway hits. “People love me for staying in this business for so long while maintaining my authentic self,” she says. “Others may make a lot of money but may not know who they are looking at in the mirror. I feel immense gratitude for being able to be real-life happy and enjoying the journey.”

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Thank you to everyone who made the 50th Anniversary Gala a success.


Jocko Fajardo • June Crenshaw 50TH ANNIVERSARY HOST COMMITTEE

Marvin Bowser Lee Granados

Aimee Schimmel & Julie Parker Mike Silverstein

Robert York Dionne Reeder Daniel Penchina

Ebone Bell Celina Gerbic Sterling Higgins

Editra Allen Jim ‘Chachi’ Boyle DC Allen


Peter Rosenstein • Colleen Dermody • Andrew Williams • Khadijah Tribble • Chris Beagle 50TH ANNIVERSARY BLADE STAFF Lynne J. Brown Lou Chibbaro Jr. Mariah Cooper Joey DiGuglielmo Joe Hickling Chris Johnson Michael Key Michael K. Lavers Troy Masters

Kevin Naff Roman Navarrette James M. Neal Karen Ocamb Brian Pitts Phillip G. Rockstroh Stephen Rutgers Tiara Slater Beverly Denice Sparks

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Congratulations on 50 years of

unparalleled excellence in journalism for the LGBTQ community and beyond.

Thank you for your commitment to sharing the voices and stories of our communities. We see you. O CTO BE R 18, 2019 • WA SHINGTONBLA D E.COM • 85

Blade Foundation awards first $5,000 scholarship Working toward expanding int’l focus to Africa By KEVIN NAFF KNAFF@WASHBLADE.COM

CINDY CAMPOS, a woman from Mexico’s Michoacán state, washes clothes at Cobina Posada del Migrante, a lesbian-run migrant shelter in Mexicali, Mexico, on Jan. 27. The Blade Foundation has devoted three years to a focus on LGBTQ issues in Latin America. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers

The Blade Foundation has a dual mission: To fund enterprise journalism projects on LGBTQ issues and to fund scholarships for aspiring journalists. As the Foundation enters its 10th year, we are wrapping up an impactful,

three year, in-depth reporting project looking at LGBTQ issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over these past three years, we’ve been to 16 countries, filing hundreds of stories that have been shared countless times via social media and inspired mainstream media coverage. We’ve created a network of grassroots reporters across the region who file important stories on everything from the rise of an anti-LGBTQ president in Brazil to the prospects for marriage equality in Cuba. We covered the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and how it impacted Puerto Rico’s LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities. We followed the plight of Ricky Santiago, a gay business owner whose business and home were destroyed in the storm. His family endured months without power and water and The Blade Foundation was there to assist with donations and volunteer time to help him rebuild. We’ve aggressively covered the Cuban government’s treatment of its LGBTQ citizens, making seven trips to the island. During our final visit earlier this year our international news editor, Michael Lavers, was kicked out of the country because of our honest and hard hitting reporting. We’ve covered the plight of migrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and other places where LGBTQ people face violence, poverty and discrimination. We profiled the good work of a lesbian-run shelter in Mexico that’s saving the lives

of LGBTQ people traveling in the large caravans of migrants — whose plights go uncovered by the mainstream media, making our work even more important. Our foundation also funds fellowships for LGBTQ journalism students with a focus on regions and topics that suffer from a lack of attention and funding. And this month, we’re excited to announce our very first recipient of the $5,000 Blade Foundation Journalism scholarship. That scholarship goes to Philip Van Slooten, a journalism student and military veteran from the University of Maryland. Our next goal is to expand our international focus to Africa, where we can spotlight the progress that’s happening and the challenges that remain. Your contribution to the Blade Foundation helps us to educate and train the next generation of LGBTQ journalists at a time when our community is facing grave threats and the need for independent journalism focused on our community has never been greater. By telling our stories through our lens, we educate our community, guide the mainstream media to the challenges we face and hold our elected officials accountable. Your contributions also help us fund ambitious projects, like our work in Latin America and the Caribbean, two regions at a crossroads when it comes to LGBTQ equality and in desperate need of media focused on our unique issues. To donate, please visit

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Great queer way

From legends to locals on the side hustle, Blade’s theater coverage spotlights wide range of talent By PATRICK FOLLIARD

Long-time Blade theater critic PATRICK FOLLIARD (right) with Blade Features Editor JOEY DiGUGLIELMO at the former Blade offices in the Press Club building in 2007. Folliard started freelancing for the Blade with an interview with filmmaker Todd Haynes in 1990. He wrote on various arts topics for the paper through the ‘90s and ‘00s and started focusing more on theater around 2004 when he reviewed Studio’s ‘Fly Away.’ Washington Blade file photo

Theater is a wondrous beat – challenging, layered and entertaining. The beauty of the beat extends beyond what’s playing. It’s a glimpse into the human experience and a reflection of our times. And seeing the LGBTQ faction of Washington-area theater become increasingly visible on and off stage, makes it even more gratifying. As reviewer and interviewer, I’ve seen work ranging from not good to heartrendingly beautiful, regardless of being seated comfortably in a state-ofthe-art auditorium or on wobbly chairs in unheated back rooms. I’ve spoken with big stars in upmarket restaurants and well-appointed green rooms, but more often it’s been with hardworking, less-celebrated theater professionals via phone during a rehearsal break or a stolen moment at a day job. What those profiled typically have in common is a willingness to share their passion and

push their latest project. But not all — a famous New York director replying monosyllabically to thoughtful questions comes to mind. Anyone familiar with the D.C.-area theater scene has been inspired by its smaller operations. Challenged with soaring rents and other costs, past and present companies like Rorschach, Factory 449: Ganymede Arts (originally known as Actor’s Theatre of Washington) MetroStage, WSC Avant Bard (formerly Washington Shakespeare Company), American Century Theater, Rainbow Theatre Project, Taffety Punk, Spooky Action Theater, Theater Alliance, etc., have all produced good work. The big theaters inspire too. During those heady, venue-expanding boom days of the 2000s, out artistic directors raised many millions and led the way. Michael Kahn added size and possibilities to the Shakespeare Theatre Company with the glorious Harman Center for the Arts. On the waterfront, Molly Smith worked magic in creating Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer moved his company from a repurposed garage to a dramatic new two-theater situation at Arlington’s Village at Shirlington. Happily, the beat collides with divas. Ten minutes into an interview in a quiet lounge at the Kennedy Center, Eartha Kitt dropped her imperious demeanor and said, “You’ve passed my test.” Without further explanation, she spoke candidly about a hard but exciting life. A lively Elizabeth Ashley in town to play the titular character in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” asked if I moonlighted with the health department. Not waiting for a reply, she lit up and chain smoked for an hour while explaining the importance of hard work and loyalty in the theater. A few hours before climbing on stage as Lady Bracknell at the Lansburgh, the great Siân Phillips slid into a cramped basement office wearing full stage makeup, a blood red kimono and matching turban. She prefaced her best anecdotes with, “this is off the record.” Interviews with some of the great out men of theater include a tête-à-tête

in a Watergate kitchen with Broadway’s perky composer Jerry Herman before he greeted his eager, Champagnesipping public assembled in the other room; a long and lovely talk with playwright Terrence McNally, one of the nicest and more forthright men in the theater; and an exhilarating, masterclasslike conversation with actor Andre De Shields who pointed out August Wilson’s exclusion of queer characters from District Hill, the black Pittsburgh neighborhood where many of his plays are set. De Shields said, “Trust me, we were there.” It’s been exciting to witness the enduring careers of out folks who are willing to share (and re-share) their stories with the Blade, including (among numerous others) actors Sarah Marshall, Michael Russotto and Will Gartshore; director Serge Seiden (Mosaic Theater Company); and the exquisitely talented costume designer Robert Perdziola. Equally compelling are the newer careers and stories of trans actors Dezi Bing and Dane Figueroa Edidi, out actors Justin Weaks and Jade Jones, and nonbinary actors Avi Roque and Moriamo Temidayo Akibu, and myriad others. The Kennedy Center has proffered unforgettable fare for review with Cate Blanchett playing Blanche in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Kathleen Turner’s genius turn as Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and the “Loveland” sequence with Bernadette Peters backed by a bank of roses in a revival of Sondheim’s “Follies,” stunningly staged by Eric Schaeffer. Looking back, productions continue to resonate for a million, sometimes inexplicable, reasons. Among the many, there’s Molly Smith’s alive and diverse “Oklahoma!” at Arena; Olney Theatre’s unique and sexy football play “Colossal,” staged by trans director Will Davis; out director Matthew Gardiner’s terrific, exceptionally cohesive “West Side Story” at Signature; and Forum Theatre’s beautiful rendering of out playwright Steve Yockey’s “Blackberry Winter,” a moving dramedy about Alzheimer’s disease and caretaking performed brilliantly by out actor Holly Twyford. It’s been a thrill and an education.

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Georgetown | 3 BR, 3.5 BA 1055 Wisconsin Avenue NW #2W | $4,750,000 NYC-Style in DC Georgetown. Stunning 3,538 sq.ft. of contemporary light-filled space in prestigious 1055 High, located in the Georgetown Waterfront community. 3BR, library, 3.5 BA, 2 garage parking + storage and large private terrace. Expansive master BR suite overlooking the bustling city life and beautiful canal. Pristine designer closets, serene spa-inspired BA, gourmet kitchen. Rooftop heated pool, fitness room, garden lounge, grilling area, sweeping city views. Only seven units in the building with 24hr building concierge. Steps to restaurants, shopping, bike path, harbor and cultural activities. By appointment only to pre-qualified buyers. MLS# DCDC423230

COLLEEN HARKINS CARTER | 202.674.9454 Kalorama | 5 BR, 4 BA 2029 Connecticut Avenue NW #71 $4,500,000

Hill East | 4-Unit Building 1713 E Street NE $1,275,000

This penthouse jewel spans the entire Connecticut Avenue side of 2029 Connecticut and evokes the apex of Parisian elegance: beautifully high ceilings, fine plaster moldings, luxuriously proportioned rooms and hardwood floors. Monument views from the south side, and Cathedral views from the west and north. The almost 20ʼ foyer, with two coat closets, opens to the 42ʼ x 12.5ʼ stunning gallery that is the center of the home. It opens to the living room, formal dining room, library, ownerʼs suite wing and guest suites. The living room and library feature fireplaces plus a discreet wet bar tucked into the library. MLS# DCDC423230

Ideal Opportunity! Fully vacant 4-unit in DC near Capitol Hill and Benning Rd NE, just blocks from the new streetcar system that goes down H Street NE to Whole Foods Market, Starbucks Coffee, Farmbird, Benʼs Chili Bowl, Union Station, and much more. This building has a large rear addition which creates 4 extra-large BR units with center dens. Each living room has wood floors and recessed lighting. Recent updates include new bathrooms and kitchens with granite counters, replacement HVAC units, brushed nickel plumbing fixtures, and large master BR closets. The rear yard has been paved to allow parking for multiple cars. Come now while this property is still available! MLS# DCDC443698


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Mt. Vernon Triangle | 1 BR, 1 Bath 1010 Massachusetts Avenue NW 3411 $464,900

Downtown Living at the Sonata Condominium in the Old City #2 / Chinatown section of Northwest Washington, DC. Loft Style living in a modern 75-unit luxury condominium conveniently located between Union Station, Mount Vernon Square, Chinatown and Judiciary Square. This (approximately) 781 square foot property has 1 BR with Den and assigned garage parking. Unit 702 has breathtaking southern exposure views of the Massachusetts Ave NW City Scape. The condo unit itself features Maple Hardwood Floors, Expansive Windows, Washer / Dryer in Unit, Track Lighting, Exposed Cylindrical HVAC Ductwork, and a raised Loft Style Den with half bath. MLS# DCDC439920

Luxury living in Mt. Vernon Triangle! Modern condo features hardwood floors, floor to ceiling windows, crown molding, and garage parking in the building. The gourmet kitchen boasts granite counters, custom backsplash, stainless appliances and a wine cooler. Spacious master suite with luxury en-suite bath. Washer/Dryer in unit. Amenities include a secure building, 24-hr front desk, rooftop deck + grills, pool, lounge areas. Steps to dining & shops + Metro. MLS# DCDC443170


JT POWELL 202.536.1081

14th Street Corridor | 2 BR, 2 BA 2125 14th Street NW #705 | $759,000 Imagine it.... youʼre in an unbeatable location on the 14th Street Corridor thatʼs just seconds away from the fantastic U Street Corridor, the Metroʼs green and yellow lines two blocks away, shopping, expansive dining and nightlife options, coffee shops, gyms, the new YMCA Anthony Bowen complex with its Olympic sized pool, as well as a Yes! Organic Market and a CVS attached to the building, a Trader Joeʼs just two blocks away and both Harris Teeter and Whole Foods nearby! Located in PN Hoffmanʼs (known for the Wharf) Award-winning Union Row community, the building has 24/7 concierge services, first-floor lounge, and an 8th-floor rooftop terrace. MLS# DCDC442442

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Three strikes you’re OUT! Blade helped forming D.C. gay sports leagues By KEVIN MAJOROS

D.C. Frontrunners in the AIDS Walk in 1984. The Blade was crucial to the group’s founding. Washington Blade file photo by Doug Hinckle

The LGBT sports movement moved into full swing 10 years ago and the Washington Blade capitalized on the changing environment by expanding its scope and establishing a dedicated sports column to report on the D.C. athletes involved in the movement. Since that time, the Blade has showcased hundreds of local LGBT athletes who are thriving in sports community as out athletes. In 2013, the Blade introduced an annual sports issue which shines a light on local, national and international LGBT athletes who are breaking down stereotypes through their involvement in sports. In the decades leading up to the LGBT sports movement, visibility wasn’t always welcomed by LGBT athletes who were mostly living in the shadows. Fear of rejection and bullying, and even fear of being kicked out of their sport, led many athletes to remain in the closet. As the pioneers of the Washington D.C. LGBT sports community began forming clubs, there was one source that allowed athletes to share their message in hopes of finding other athletes who wanted to play sports. That source felt like a safe space which in turn would lead to the safe spaces that are now common in our local LGBT sports community. Many of the first LGBT teams that were

formed in D.C., such as the D.C. Front Runners, the Federal Triangles Soccer Club, the Washington Wetskins and the District of Columbia Aquatics Club, were producing their own newsletters and mailing them out in unmarked envelopes to protect the identities of their athletes. Once their fears began to subside, they turned to the Washington Blade to reach a wider audience. The Blade began adding sports announcements in its Calendar section and started sharing stories in the Close Up section. In the August 7, 1981 issue of the Washington Blade, the following ad appeared announcing the presence of gay runners: All Gay runners interested in starting up a running club are invited to attend an organizational meeting to be held at the Gay Community Center, 1469 Church Street, N.W., August 13 at 7. A small ad hoc steering committee has already begun considering items for the meeting agenda, including the choice of a name, the formal club structure, the possibility of organizing a seasonal race, and the options available for affiliating with local and national Gay and non-gay running organizations. The group will also discuss the 4.4 mile fun run scheduled for 9 a.m., August 15 on the towpath along the canal, starting underneath Key Bridge.

The announcement would mark the birth of the D.C. Front Runners who are still meeting at 7 pm on Thursdays for weekly fun runs. “As a practical matter, the Blade provided the Front Runners an opportunity to communicate to the broader community. Many of our core group of runners came from our announcements in the Blade,” says Tony Anderson, a longtime Front Runner and former club coordinator. “I remember a straight friend saying, ‘This isn’t fair, you have a news outlet that can communicate to your entire community in an effective way,’” The same holds true for the first members of the Federal Triangles Soccer Club, who started with pickup games on the National Mall. “The Blade was our form of communication to everybody for our pickup games in 1990,” says Jim Ensor of the Federal Triangles. “We had a lot of players get involved with the team through the Blade and many are still active with us.” In July, 1985, a group of swimmers placed an ad in the Blade looking for water polo players. They had no idea how to play, but they wanted to be a part of something outside the bar scene. “Everyone read the Blade because it was the only way to communicate,” says Jack Markey, a co-founder of the Washington Wetskins and the District of Columbia Aquatics Club. “It made people aware of the resources in the community — everything was in the Blade.” Fast-forward to 2019 and Washington D.C., led by information clearinghouse Team D.C., is one of the largest LGBT sports communities in the world with more than 40 LGBT sports clubs. Earlier this year, Europe-based pointed to the Washington Blade as a leading news source on sports news and content with an LGBT emphasis. The Blade will continue to spotlight the journeys of LGBT athletes through themed storytelling such as the Rookies & Vets series and the All Star series. This fall, a new series titled Game Changers will be introduced. The LGBT athletes who once lived in the shadows have stepped into the light. Sharing stories sparks connections and the Blade is the connection that has endured for 50 years.

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Annie’s and the Blade: a symbiotic relationship

17th Street steakhouse long known as welcoming gay hub By EVAN CAPLAN

ANNIE KAYLOR at Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse in an undated photo likely from the 1980s. Washington Blade file photo by Doug Hinckle

Like the fine cuts of steak and wine it serves, Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse has only gotten better with age. At the tender age of 71, Annie’s (1609 17th St., N.W.) outdates The Washington Blade by two decades. Yet the development of the restaurant and the paper of record are inextricably intertwined. “It was as if Annie’s and The Washington Blade grew up together, almost like coming out together,” says current owner Paul Katinas, who’s straight. He’s the son of founder George Katinas, and nephew of namesake Annie. Father George opened simply named Paramount Steakhouse in 1948, at the corner of 17th and Church Streets, NW. He and his five sisters transformed what started out as a relaxed beer joint into a more formal restaurant. George Katinas, a lover of fine meat, began to cut all the steak in-house, and his sister Annie moved to front-of-house and bartender duties. She became a hit, “vivacious, fun and

known to entertain,” Paul Katinas says. It was Annie Kaylor who helped create the community space for which restaurant has become celebrated. The nascent gay community in the Dupont Circle area in the early ’60s saw the steakhouse as a warm, liberating, open place. In honor of Annie and her spirit, George Katinas renamed the restaurant for her. “Annie’s became home, and was there when there weren’t too many other opportunities or places to go,” says Paul Katinas. “During a time when the LGBTQ community was struggling to find places where they were accepted, the restaurant was always a welcoming and loving environment. I understand that in the ’60s, around the time of the riots, is when Annie’s became home for the gay community. It was the only place for the community to go and be free.” He said that this was also around the time of the 1969 birth of The Blade. As Annie’s became a bedrock part of the city’s LGBTQ community, so did The Blade. By the 1970s, Annie’s was advertising in The Blade. “We’ve had a very good, long relationship,” Katinas says. When Annie’s headed up the street to its current location, allowing gay bar JR.’s to move in, loyal customers moved with it. The stretch of 17th Street between the two spots eventually became the staging grounds for the famed High Heel Race. The restaurant also became a center of community activity, sponsoring events and local institutions like Whitman-Walker Health, Food & Friends and the Gay Men’s Chorus. “Annie’s was one of the first sponsors of Gay Men’s Chorus,” Katinas says. “It’s almost like they grew up there too.” Annie’s has supported the Pride parade for many years. Katinas also noted that when he began running the restaurant, “The Blade would bring at least 500 copies of the paper each Friday. People would pop in just for the paper,” he says. “Times have

changed, but we still make sure to carry The Blade when it comes out.” Kaylor died in 2013 at age 86. Annie’s celebrated its platinum anniversary last year in December. Only two months later, Annie’s achieved the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics award. The award is granted to recipients that are “Distinguished by their timeless appeal… that reflects the character of their communities,” according to the James Beard website. Longtime D.C. food critic David Hagedorn nominated Annie’s for the award. Regarding Annie’s he described an early experience of visiting the restaurant as an undergraduate student in the 1970s. “One evening, we made the trek to Annie’s. It was a long, narrow space with low lighting. Most of the clientele were men, laughing, drinking, flirting; all of the staff were women. I felt like I had arrived in a place that was all mine, where the air was fresh and clear, even through a cumulus of cigarette smoke. It was freedom, the same feeling I would later experience when I stepped off the plane in Provincetown or the ferry in Fire Island for the first time. More than freedom, it was community. … Soon after Paramount opened, it gained a reputation as a safe place for gay men, many of whom worked for the government and risked losing their jobs and going to jail if their sexuality were discovered. In an oft-recounted story from the restaurant’s early days, Annie went up to two men holding hands under the table and told them they were welcome to hold hands above it.” Katinas makes sure that this kind of environment is still present at Annie’s. He’s kept it in the family too, as his daughter Georgia recently began managing the restaurant. The two work hard to maintain the steaks and the atmosphere. “Receiving the James Beard Award was really a stamp for the restaurant, but also the gay community and the neighborhood,” he says. “It’s something for all of us to be proud of.”

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From coming out to coming of age Blade film reviews cover wide spate of queer content By BRIAN T. CARNEY

The Blade’s 1980 review of the dark William Friedkin-directed thriller ‘Crusing.’ Photo from Blade archives

Happy 50th birthday Washington Blade! I’ve had the privilege of being the Blade’s movie critic since September 2011. I also served as an arts writer from 1993-1995. It’s been a fascinating time for LGBT filmmakers and a fascinating time for queer film criticism. I’m a proud card-carrying member of GALECA (the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics). Every year our 200-plus members present the Dorian Awards to outstanding films and television shows. We celebrate excellence (and sometimes campiness) on the big screen and the small screen, but we proudly shine a spotlight on outstanding LGBT works and artists (and allies). Our awards are covered by Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and are catalogued by the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Wikipedia. We’ve celebrated LGBT representation in great movies like “The Favourite,” “Moonlight” and “Carol” and in amazing television shows like “Transparent,” “American Horror Story” and “Pose.” But we’ve also been there to talk about the overall lack of diversity in Hollywood studios and to highlight problems with LGBT representation on the big and small screen. I’ve written about the homophobia in “Green

Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Hollywood’s problem with casting out LGBT actors in LGBT roles. I’ve also had the opportunity to offer a queer perspective on movies like the Dick Cheney biopic “Vice” by the (straight) award-winning director Adam McKay. Most mainstream critics didn’t mention the character of Cheney’s lesbian daughter Mary, played by Alison Pill, or mentioned her only in passing. But a closer look at her appearances showed how McKay tried to humanize Cheney by focusing on his (partial) acceptance of her sexuality. Did it work? No. Dick Cheney is still a monster. But, it’s an interesting moment for the representation of lesbians in Hollywood. And the Blade was there. In the 50 years the Blade has been around, there’s been a rather remarkable shift in the way Hollywood depicts LGBT characters. Speaking very broadly, we’ve gone from coded sissies (like Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” and “the only good gay is a dead gay” (think “The Children’s Hour”) to pleas for tolerance and demands for acceptance (think “La Cage aux Folles” or “Torch Song Trilogy”) to contemporary movies where sexuality is a personality trait and not a problem in and of itself (think “Booksmart” or “Love, Simon”). It’s been a

remarkable journey, although there’s still a long way to go, especially in increasing the visibility of trans and genderqueer characters and actors. It would take some major time and a deep dive in the Blade archives to determine when the paper started running movie reviews. We know it wasn’t immediately — the first issues were mimeographed one-three-sheet editions. Theater and music reviews were more abundant in the paper in the ‘70s. But by the dawn of the 1980s, movie reviews were common in the paper. A story by Dave Walter on the front page of the Feb. 7, 1980 edition told of a movie chain, General Cinema Corporation, that refused to show the highly controversial movie “Cruising,” the William Friedkin (“The Exorcist”) movie with Al Pacino about a serial killer targeting gay men. But it wasn’t out of any sense of solidarity for gay people — the chain told the Blade the movie, “In our judgement, should be X-rated,” and thus didn’t meet its criteria for exhibition. In the following week’s edition, critic Tom Huhn called the movie “technically a mess” but said it was more dark and grim than homophobic. Through seasonal previews and annual reviews and top ten lists, as well as participation in GALECA’s Dorian Awards, the Blade has come to play an important role in regional and national film coverage. But the Blade plays a very special role in celebrating and promoting LGBT creators and queer content. For example, the D.C. metro area is host to several great film festivals. The Blade has played an important role in spotlighting queer content at these festivals and has also encouraged events to up their diversity game when necessary. This weekend (October 17-20), the wonderful Middleburg Film Festival includes great films by and about queer people, as well as some cool sneak peeks at upcoming Academy Award contenders. Next weekend (October 25-27), D.C.’s fabulous Reel Affirmations Film Festival celebrates LGBT filmmakers from around the globe. The Blade is there to follow the career arc of great queer auteurs like Pedro Almodóvar from his early movies (“Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls Like Mom”) to his latest masterwork (“Pain and Glory”).

His movies are celebrated around the world, but amazingly, there are mainstream critics who fail to note Almodóvar’s proud identification as gay man (which is crucial to understanding his work) or to fully discuss the queer themes in his work (not to mention Antonio Banderas’ decadeslong work as a queer ally). That’s why the Blade’s queer film criticism matters. The Blade is there to discuss the new work of great LGBT narrative filmmakers like Angela Robinson (“Professor Marsden and the Wonder Women”), Ira Sachs (“Little Men” and the upcoming “Frankie”), Gus van Sant (“My Own Private Idaho,” “Milk” and “He Won’t Get Far On Foot”) and Wash Westmoreland (“Colette”) as well as great queer documentarians like Kimberly Reed (“Prodigal Son” and “Dark Money,”) Matt Tyrnauer (“Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” and “Where’s My Roy Cohn?”) and Ryan White (“Ask Dr. Ruth”). The Blade is also there to profile fascinating LGBT and genderqueer actors including Murray Bartlett, Asia Kate Dillon, Ser Anzoategul and Natalie Morales (not to mention cool allies like Taylor Swift’s boyfriend Joe Alwyn and Andrea Riseborough). Perhaps most importantly, the Blade has been there to spread the word about emergent queer filmmakers, many of whom got crucial early exposure through Reel Affirmations: Fawzia Mizra (“Signature Move”), Sudhanshu Saria (“Loev”), Janelle Williams-Thomas (“Water in a Broken Glass”), Desiree Akhaven (“The Miseducation of Cameron Post”), Ellen Smit (“Just Friends”) and Lucio Castro (“End of the Century”). Finally, as the growth of streaming television has increased the opportunities for LGBT representation on the small screen, the Blade has widened its focus to look at the pansexual superheroes on the CW, to the lesbians playing a central role in the resistance on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” to California teens exploring their gender and sexual expression on “Euphoria,” to the futuristic drama of “Years and Years” to the delightful familyfriendly LGBT-affirming adventures of “The Bravest Knight” and “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.” Here’s to another 50 years of the Washington Blade being a bold voice in exploring LGBT representation in Hollywood.

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Counterclockwise from left: The 17th Street Dancers will be part of the Gay Men’s Chorus small ensembles extravaganza Oct. 26 Photo courtesy GMCW; The Walk/Run to End HIV is Oct. 26 Washington Blade file photo; and The High Heel Race is Oct. 29 Washington Blade file photo.

Small ensembles unite for concert

Got your heels ready?

Early Halloween party at Swazz

The Gay Men’s Chorus of D.C. presents its small ensembles extravaganza at Live! At 10th and G (945 G St., N.W.) Saturday, Oct. 26 at 5 and 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $45. For this event all four chorus select ensembles (Potomac Fever, Rock Creek Singers, Seasons of Love and 17th Street Dance) return to showcase music and dance featuring songs from the worlds of pop, Broadway, spirituals and more. Audiences will hear favorites including “Lean On Me,” “Carry On My Wayward Son,” “Holding Out for a Hero” and others. For tickets and information visit

The 17th Street High Heel Race is Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 7-10 p.m. The public is welcome and admission is free. A D.C. tradition for more than 30 years, attendees can cheer on competitors racing a quarter-mile in festive heels or full drag and make up. Always held on the Tuesday before Halloween, thousands of spectators pack Dupont Circle to watch hundreds of costumed drag artists show off their often extravagant creations. Participants gather around 6 p.m. Race begins at 9. Visit for more information.

Swazz Events hosts the Swazz Queer Halloween Party at Smith Public Trust (3514 12th St., N.E.) Friday, Oct. 25 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 early bird, $15 regular. This queer Halloween dance party includes a costume contest with prizes, a spooky-themed dance floor, a full bar serving creepy cocktails and more. Contestants have a chance to win a Queer-n-Proud t-shirt among other prizes. Tickets and information available at

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The Washington Blade 50th Birthday Gala is tonight from 6-10 p.m. at the InterContinental D.C., The Wharf (801 Wharf St., S.W.). The public is invited to join the Blade in celebrating five decades of LGBTQ journalism. Cocktails served at 6 p.m. Dinner and program begins at 7. Proceeds benefit the Blade Foundation’s charitable community work. For tickets and information visit AEG presents Bianca Del Rio’s 2019 “It’s Jester Joke” Tour tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.). Tickets start at $39.50. Doors open at 6:30, and the show starts at 8. Tickets and information are available at LaFantasy Productions hosts its Superhero Underwear Party with Eliad Cohen tonight beginning at 10 p.m. at Saint Yves (1220 Connecticut Ave., N.W.). Tickets are $35 for this 21-and-up event. Featuring guest DJ Alex Acosta and warm up entertainment by Guy Lewis. Tickets and details at Tonight starting at 10 p.m. the Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts Rough House, a lights off, hands on dance party. $5 cover includes clothes check. Guest DJs Lemz and The Barber Streisand. For more information visit

Saturday, Oct. 19

AIDS walk/run is Oct. 26 The 2019 Walk & 5K to End HIV hosted by Whitman-Walker Health and Real Talk D.C. is Saturday, Oct. 26 from 7:30-11:30 a.m. The race begins and ends at Freedom Plaza (Pennsylvania Ave. and 13th St., N.W.). General registration is $25 for walkers and $35 for timed runners. Held for the past 33 years, this is Whitman-Walker’s signature fundraiser to ensure comprehensive and accessible health care to those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Donors can support a participant, support a team, send a general donation or register as a “Sleep Walker” for $40. Sleep Walkers who support the event from home will be mailed a commemorative t-shirt following the event. Register at

The D.C. Chamber Musicians present a free concert today at 3 p.m. at the Western Presbyterian Church (2501 Virginia Ave., N.W.). Concert preceded by master classes at 2 p.m. which are open to the public. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Visit for more information. Tonight from 9-11 p.m. is Desiree Dik’s Horror Show at Red Bear Brewing (209 M St., N.E.). Featuring Bombalicious Eklaver, Magic Dyke, Skip Squealia Gilmour and special guest Rupaul’s drag race contestant Dax Exclamationpoint. More information at HER DC: The LockHer Room presented by HER App and Tagg Magazine is today from 2-6 p.m. at A League of Her Own (2319 18th St., N.W.). Tickets start at $15. This sports-themed dance party featuring DJ Mim is open to those identifying as cisgender lesbians, nonbinary and their trans brothers and sisters. Allies can purchase an ally ticket. Visit for tickets and information. Tasting Tour of Delaware is tonight from 6:30-8 p.m. at Cooter Brown’s Twisted Southern Kitchen and bourbon Bar (70 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.). Guests are invited to meet at a new

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spot each month to sample regional foods and drinks with new friends. More information at Pride Bowling is 7-9 p.m. at Bowlerama (3031 New Castle Ave., New Castle, Del.). Cost is $14 per bowler with two hours of bowling and free shoe rental included. Pay the Delaware Pride rep. for special pricing. For more information, visit

Sunday, Oct. 20 The 2019 SMYAL Fall Brunch is today from 10:30 a.m to 2 p.m. at D.C.’s Marriott Marquis (901 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.). SMYAL’s premier fundraising event includes a cocktail reception, silent auction, three-course brunch and a chance to hear from LGBT community leaders. Tickets available at Bingo with the D.C. Sisters is today from 1-4 p.m. at Red Bear Brewing (209 M St., N.E.). Tickets are $20 for this 18-andup event fundraiser for Casa Ruby. Price includes six rounds of bingo, each with a $100 cash prize, and a chance for a door prize. Other activities include a raffle, costume contest and more. Tickets and information at Freddie’s Follies Drag Show is tonight at 8 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant (555 23rd St., Arlington, Va.). $5 cover. Showtime is 8 p.m. sharp. For more information, visit

Monday, Oct. 21 LGBTQ Affirming / Safe Space Yoga is tonight from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Norfolk LGBT Life Center (248 W 24th St., Norfolk, Va.). All body types and all yoga levels, including beginners, are welcome. For more information, visit It’s Pride Monday tonight at The Underground (408 W Main St., Lansdale, Pa.) starting at 7 p.m. Admission is free to this dance party to kick off the week. More information available at Philadelphia.

Tuesday, Oct. 22 Tonight is Game Night from 6-8 p.m. at the Norfolk LGBT Life Center (248 W 24th St., Norfolk, Va.). The community is invited to a night of fun and friendly competition in an affirming space. For more information, visit The newly formed Loudoun Chapter of PFLAG invites the lgbt community and allies to participate in a monthly community group meeting every 4th Tuesday from 7-9 p.m. at the Crossroads

United Methodists Church (43454 Crossroads Dr., Ashburn, Va.). Meetings are free. Register at

Wednesday, Oct. 23 The Virginia Film Festival begins today throughout Charlottesville and includes numerous LGBT films as part of the lineup. Venues include Common House (206 West Market St.), Culbreth Theater (University of Virginia drama building, 109 Culbreth Rd.), Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center (233 4th St., N.W.) and more. For tickets and a film list, visit Lesbians Got Talent! FABS Open Mic Night is tonight from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at XX+ Crostino (1926 9th St., N.W.). Guests are invited to sing, play an instrument, perform poetry, share a story or otherwise showcase their talent in a supportive environment. More information at

Thursday, Oct. 24 The Rocky Horror Show LGBTQ+ Night Out is tonight from 6-10 p.m. at the Bucks County Playhouse (70 south Main St., New Hope Pa.). Pre-show party at The Mansion Inn Bar (9 South Main St., New Hope, Pa.) at 6 p.m. serving cocktails and light fare. Live show starts at 7:30 at the playhouse. More information at Book Talk: Friends of Dorothy hosted by the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center (522 W. Maple St., Barnard Rustin Way, Allentown, Pa.) tonight from 6-8 p.m. A book signing by author Dee Michel and a dessert reception will follow. Visit bradburysullivancenter. org for more information. AfroQueer — Black LGBTQ Immigrants in America hosted by Rayceen Pendarvis is tonight from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Human Rights Campaign (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.). This exploration of the intersections of culture, sexuality and gender is free and open to the public. Register at teamrayceen. Thirst Trap Thursdays Drag Show continues tonight at 11 p.m. with host Venus Valhalla at Pitchers D.C. (2317 18th St., N.W.). Every Thursday guests can enjoy a cocktail and queer entertainment starting at 11 sharp. More information at Live Your Life Thursdays hosted by Derek Delequa is tonight from 10-11 p.m. at Pure Flavor Hookah Lounge (228 W 9th St., Wilmington, Del.). Tickets start at $10. A Delaware Pride sponsored event. Visit for more information.

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A 50-year gay love affair with cars Longtime Blade autos columnist recalls adventures By JOE PHILLIPS

From top: JOE PHILLIPS when he started writing for the Blade and today. In the vintage photo, he’s test driving a Jeep Wrangler similar to the one on ‘Queer as Folk.’ In the new photo, he’s seen with a Jaguar I-Pace EV. Photos courtesy Phillips

For almost two decades, I’ve written the monthly auto column for the Blade. Back then, I didn’t know any gay publication that covered cars. That seemed a shame, considering all the gay gearheads out there. My partner Robert — who could care less about horsepower and antilock brakes — broached the topic during dinner with the editor of the Blade at the time. We all had a story to tell about memorable cars and this jumpstarted the column. I soon found that Lynne Brown, who would later become publisher, loved cars as much as I did. Since then I’ve reviewed all sorts of vehicles, from Jeeps to Jaguars. And no, I don’t have a favorite (everyone always asks). But then, how could I? There are

hundreds of new vehicles arriving in showrooms each year, and they now include traditional hybrids, plug-ins, electrics, hydrogen fuel cell, various types of autonomous rides and the like. The list of gadgets has grown from one-touch windows, which now seem like no big whoop, to blind-spot monitors, massaging seats, self-parking systems, night-vision windshield displays and more. Yet the thrill of anticipation when I get behind the wheel of a new car has stayed the same. Think butterflies before a first date. Yes, there have been some absolutely fabulous rides: the first Mazda Miata in 1989, the 2000 Audi TT, 2005 Ford GT, 2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith and others. With many cars, my partner and I have driven across country to see family and friends.

And our beloved dog (a 70-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback who loved riding in cars) had especially good taste — she preferred vehicles with deep rear seats, like the BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS. Of course, there have been real clunkers. Most notorious was the shortlived Yugo in the early 1990s. Full of creaks and rattles, this econobox had the herky-jerky steering of a dumpy gokart. I should have known better than to attend a ride-and-drive event with other journalists in Napa Valley, where Yugo execs started things off with a two-hour reception full of wine and little food. Only then were we sent off in test cars on narrow mountain roads. The assumption: We journalists would be so overcome with good cheer as to overlook all of a Yugo’s foibles. This desperate tactic didn’t work and, as it turned out, neither did the car. Good or bad, the vehicles I remember most aren’t necessarily the ones I’ve driven. That’s because over the past half century there have been plenty of iconic cars in gay movies, TV shows, books and even concerts. These vehicles, which moved me as much as the LGBTQ productions they were in, are a major reason I enjoy reviewing cars. With that in mind, here’s a quick drive down memory lane to celebrate just some of them. Liberace — Mr. Showmanship, who described himself as a “one-man Disneyland,” would arrive onstage in flamboyant, chauffeur-driven cars, including a 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V (which also appeared in the 2013 HBO movie “Behind the Candelabra”) and a crystal-covered roadster at Radio City Music Hall. “Thelma and Louise” — Sure, this film has Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Brad Pitt. But the real star is the 1966 Ford Thunderbird that Sarandon and Davis drive across country and over a cliff into the Grand Canyon. A classic film with a classic car. “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” — This cult fave is renowned for its soundtrack as much as its positive portrayal of two drag queens (Hugo Weaving and hunky Guy Pearce) and a transgender woman (Terence Stamp) as they trek across Australia in a lavender tour bus named Priscilla. “To Wong Foo, Thanks for

Everything! Julie Newmar” — One year later, another film follows three drag queens (Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo) on a similar soulsearching road trip from New York City to Los Angeles. Their ride: a 1967 Cadillac DeVille convertible. Subaru — The automaker targets the LGBT market — especially lesbians — when it features Martina Navratilova in ground-breaking TV commercials and print ads in 2000. “The Birdcage” — In this movie, there are more cars than stars. A Lincoln Town Car ferries Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest and Calista Flockhart to Miami Beach. Christine Baranski drives a BMW 325i convertible. Nathan Lane, dressed in a chic canary-yellow outfit from head to toe, gets behind the wheel of a matching 1957 Ford Thunderbird. And dozens of vehicles cruise past The Birdcage nightclub on Ocean Boulevard, including a Buick Roadmaster, Ford Mustang, Geo Tracker, Suzuki Sidekick and more. “In & Out” — Tom Selleck drives a Ford Taurus when he stops to confront Kevin Kline and give him a big manly kiss. Debbie Reynolds and Wilfred Brimley show up in a dowdy Plymouth station wagon. And jilted Joan Cusack speeds off in a Toyota Camry. “Will and Grace” — Grace inherits an old Chevy Citation from her Uncle Larry, sells it to charity, then tries to buy the car back from wisecracking Ellen DeGeneres as a nun who delivers cheesecakes. “Queer as Folk” — In the first episode, Brian drives new boy-toy Justin to high school in a Jeep Wrangler. The car was vandalized the night before, with “Faggot” spray-painted on the side. But Brian doesn’t care, and his defiance sets the tone for the rest of the series. Cat on the Scent — Part of the Mrs. Murphy mystery series by Rita Mae Brown, Cat on the Scent features three sleuths — two cats and a corgi — who work together to drive a car. “Brokeback Mountain” — Various trucks appear throughout the tragic love story, including Ford and GMC pickups from the 1950s and 1960s. “Cars 3” — Finally, the Disney/Pixar franchise gets a butch lesbian. Lea DeLaria is the voice of Miss Fritter, a decked-out school bus, who is a force of nature at the demolition derby.

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Authentic and affirming, Octane fuels change Delivering empowering information to D.C.’s LGBT community By SCOTT STIFFLER From billboards to bus stop kiosks to the click of a mouse or the swipe of a phone, advertising inundates—but the words and images chosen to pique our interest in a product or inspire a behavior rarely acknowledge the lives, let alone the existence, of LGBT people. One notable exception is when the conversation turns to sex—and for 19 years, one company has been at the forefront of generating creative content that effectively delivers empowering information to D.C.’s LGBT community. “We’re trying to reach people where they live, play, work, and socialize,” says Octane Public Relations & Advertising CEO Everett Hamilton, of the social marketing campaigns they create for the D.C. Department of Health ( “How you do that,” he notes, “is sometimes the easy part. The challenge is coming up with authentic ways to communicate.” Octane’s answer to that challenge is anchored in providing the LGBT community with, so to speak, straight talk—a message not every media outlet is willing to receive. Recalling a campaign during the early days of PrEP, Hamilton notes the commercial Octane ( produced was not accepted by some TV stations, while others deemed it only suitable to run after 9 or 10 p.m. “Some regions didn’t want to run the campaign, because they didn’t want people to think they had high HIV infection rates.” Hamilton say Octane, which is owned by women and minorities and dedicates its communication service to social change, storytelling, and culture, “can come up with any kind of campaign, but there are other municipalities that would not run what we run in D.C.” The credit for that, says Hamilton, “goes

A recent campaign from Ocatane promoting the use of PrEP.

to all of the [DC] mayors. They approached this from a public health perspective. There’s never been any pushback, because they know everything we do is data based. I also credit the DOH with normalizing the conversation around HIV and AIDS, by emphasizing that it’s not something you whisper about.” Michael Kharfen, senior deputy director of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration, D.C. Department of Health, reflects on the long relationship with Octane, the prime contractor for its social marketing campaigns. “They’ve developed these messages,” says Kharfen, “as well as the implementation strategies. Their boldness in generating content is quite exceptional. Ten years ago, we started our efforts under the umbrella of, we called it, ‘DC Takes on HIV.’ They came up with that tagline. There was a lot of feeling from the community that the Health Department had not been the driver of change in this city, and this complimented a number of changes we were taking. So we really have evolved, and I give them a lot of credit for that.” But that effort to take a frank conversation to the community has not been without its challenges.

One element of Octane’s 2000s-era “Rubber Revolution” condom distribution campaign ran photos of, Hamilton recalls, “men embracing, men kissing, men looking like they just had sex or were just about to have sex. Even then, this was not something you could put in every publication. But how else are you going to connect with gay men about condom use, if you didn’t show them in situations where they would need them?” Early on, says Hamilton, the Washington Blade “was the only place that would show two men together in bed, men kissing, condoms—and that’s because the Blade was, and is, at the heart of our community. So it would be natural to turn to them to help us connect in a very credible way.” From AIDS to PrEP to viral load suppression, says Hamilton, “The Blade has been there, reporting on these developments, while our campaigns have been going parallel. It’s like we’ve been in synch.” “Octane has offered consistent, solid, invaluable support,” notes Washington Blade publisher Lynne Brown, who recalls a moment of financial instability in 2009, when the paper was bought back from the corporate conglomerate that had taken it

over. “Everett’s grasp of our dire situation was instant. His support was pivotal to our ability to move forward. The Blade is indebted to him for his constant, generous involvement.” No debt is owed, says Hamilton. “I sent her an email saying, ‘Let me know how Octane can help,’” he recalls, of his 2009 outreach. “We never abandoned the Blade, because it was important to the DOH, and to me. It wasn’t charity. It was, ‘Hey, we have got to get this advertising to the community, and you’re still the place people turn to. We want to continue, and to expand our partnership with you.’ ” Hamilton says Octane has “three partners. We have the Blade, and we have Michael Kharfen, who lets us be really creative. Our “Sexual + Being” campaign [] took a year and a half of work, and Michael allowed us that time, to get it right. We also have Mayor Bowser, who has supported everything that has come out of Octane. We’ve come so far in D.C. It’s not just about HIV and AIDS, but the full compliment of sexual health. Now, the transgender population has been added into that, as well as a number of other different demographic groups.” This week, Octane launched its first campaign created specifically for Spanish speakers, to talk about sexual health as a part of overall health and well-being. Next month, the “U=U” campaign (as in, undetectable equals untransmittable) will target D.C. residents who currently have HIV, to educate them on the importance of staying in HIV treatment. Says Kharfen, of campaigns in which the message intersects with personal identity and holistic health, “You cannot disconnect people’s behavior from who they are. That’s the current framework of ‘Sexual + Being,’ which Octane came up with. These two messages are very much intertwined. Taking a much more affirming and aspirational view has been quite effective, and Octane has been very diligent, in terms of doing the formative research work we expect—ideas that are developed, and tested.” That eye for detail, and commitment to create a message that inspires positive action, notes Kharfen, is essential to the DOH mission. “One of the ways we perceive our work,” says Kharfen, “is that it’s more than just a campaign. We’re not trying to sell athletic shoes. We’re trying to influence behaviors.”

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Ariadne Getty, an expert in taking on ‘unpopular causes’ CONTINUED FROM PAGE 80 the YouTube sensation and transgender activist. They are the kind of adults who still have a cool-kid vibe about them, as does their part punk/part princess mom. They are quite a triple-treat as a close-knit family as well as a style council of creative spirits who straddle lots of worlds — Getty runs both the fashion lines — and I’d wager some of that Getty wealth that when you use the term “grommet” around them they know it is not only something that can reinforce an eyelet sewn into a piece of clothing, but also a term for an inexperienced skateboarder with scratched-up knees and no real scratch of his own. “Inexperienced” is not a term anyone would use for Ariadne Getty who grew up outside Siena, Italy, with her mother after her parents divorced. It was in many ways an idyllic setting for a childhood but anywhere would have been within reach of the tentacles of the family scandals that, as she grew up and realized what her last name meant to the larger world, strengthened her even as it all made her a bit wary — and, yes, for a time quite weary — of public attention. Her father J. Paul Getty II was a drug addict for much of his life (her stepmother died of a heroin overdose) and became a recluse in England in his later years, but one finally with a generous spirit which she seems to have inherited from him. She survived the actual narrative of the kidnapping of her older brother, J. Paul Getty III, and his subsequent heartbreaking health issues as well as the faux narratives made more noxious for their rather mercenary and monetary reasons. She bonded with her sister Aileen who is herself an activist and philanthropist, roles that were motivated by Aileen’s HIV-positive status. She lived in London and had a swinging time designing T-shirts and being a bit of dilettante who dallied in lots of sybaritic endeavors. She even had an academic interregnum at Bennington College in Vermont. Getty’s gust of laughter again blows through the conversation when I bring up her college days because of how few those days actually were. So she didn’t go for the whole four years?

“I certainly did not.” Does she even remember her time at Bennington or was it basically one long, however brief, blackout? “It’s a little bit fuzzy to be honest,” she confesses. “But I did learn a lot there. I really did. I had some fantastic people I was exposed to. It really was an environment that allows you to find your own personality without the restrictions of rules. It’s almost like a Waldorf approach to college,” she tells me, citing the Rudolf Steiner holistic model of education. But I take it as another kind of cue. “A Waldorf salad approach?” I ask. Another gust of of laughter. “It does put nuts into your life,” she says. Some would claim that her children and their circle of friends — many of them the misfits and outcasts cited in Nats’s mission statement for Strike Oil streetwear — are the latest nuts in her life with whom she has surrounded herself. She is a kind of den mother of the denizen of acceptance that her home has become for this extended LA family. They even call her Mama G. Does she think she would be so viscerally focused on LGBTQ rights if she weren’t the mother of two gay children and seen as a mother figure for so many of their friends? There is a maternal aspect to her activism. “I always say I am here doing this mostly to support what my children have made me aware of … I’m not sure how the Mama G thing started, but it’s so sweet. I get texts to Mama G all the time from the friends of my children and my daughter-in-law Gigi. I am a fiercely loyal mother. I will go to war for my children and their friends.” “You’re like a polar bear,” I tell her. “I can’t believe you said that. That’s my spirit animal. You got me there. They are my cubs — Nats and August. And all of their friends are, too.” “Yet not all wealthy parents support their gay children in the way that you have chosen to support yours. Some of them even donate to Donald Trump. Would you meet with Trump if he invited you to the White House?” “Oh, Kevin … Kevin …,” she says, moaning. No laughter is launched into the conversation at the thought of this. There is a long silence instead. “I would have to say, ‘I’m sorry. Under most other situations, I would be honored to be invited and I would love to go,’” she

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carefully begins. “But as Trump continues to stop people’s human rights and disregards the basic … ah … ah, ” she stops again. Time to throw some elbows, after all. “You know what, I would tell him in a heartbeat that under any other circumstances I would love to go but I actually wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I met with him in the Oval Office. I would probably even have a couple of rotten tomatoes in my pocket,” she says, that gust of laughter finally unleashed as she references her time in England and how the groundlings there would respond to their own vulgarians on their Elizabethan stages by throwing such weaponized fruit at them. “You could bring your children and daughter-in-law to bear visual witness to your meeting with him,” I suggest, knowing that Gigi is sort of Trump’s type and how disconcerting that would be for him to be turned on by her. “If he allowed me even to bring them with me,” says Getty. “Can you imagine? Or we could wear MAGA caps but install little mini-cams in them and tape his reaction when I introduced him to my daughter-in-law, ‘Mr. President, this is Gigi. She’s transgender.’” We have been speaking on this conference call the same day that Ellen DeGeneres was getting media flak for her friendship with another president, George W. Bush. What does Ariadne think of Ellen’s response to the criticism? “I personally believe that if you have a platform no matter what it is — even if it is your single voice as a human — you have a responsibility to it. Ellen is extremely fortunate to have such a fan base and a platform. I personally believe that there is nothing wrong with being friendly in private, but going public with it and saying what she said sends a mixed message. It not only might confuse her fans but also those who aren’t necessarily her fans but use her as a sort of barometer. Since she is a comedian, she gets to tackle a lot of topics. I do think that this is a message that does not need to be so public. Yes, it’s important to respect and accept everyone for who they are. I haven’t read exactly what she said. But if she is using her platform but she is ignoring the facts that there were so many rollbacks with Bush and his administration and there were so many LGBTQ injustices passed,

then I don’t agree with that. “She is not referencing that. She is not saying even though these things happened, we can affect a change if we approach those who have been against us in a fair and kind way in order to try and find a middle ground … After the election in 2016, I called Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO at GLAAD. I said I’m going to bed and closing my curtain and I’m going to stay here for a couple of weeks because I’m so very depressed. And she said, ‘I’m going to give you 24 hours to be depressed and then I want you to get out of bed, get dressed, brush your hair, and make 10 calls to talk about the changes you want to see happen. Get up and stand up and get to work.’ And that’s what I did.” “Here is another quote from your grandfather,” I say, winding down our conference call. “’The rich are not born skeptical or cynical,’” he said. “They are made that way by events and circumstances.’And yet you, Ariadne, have had the opposite reactions to the events and circumstances of your life. They have made you less cynical and skeptical. They have given you a social conscience and spurred you to activism.” The laughter is no longer a gust of gumption. It is now more a lovely little breeze, a hum of humility underlying it here on the line. “You know what, life is too short,” she says. “I’ve had all the things happen to me that you can imagine — especially people taking advantage. There could be plenty of space in my life to just shut down and not interact and just basically be a victim, or what have you. But I love my life. It is really a privilege to be involved with the LGBT Center in LA, which has so many intergenerational programs there. I’m fortunate. I encourage everybody who has any way of being part of a cause to make the time and become involved.” She pauses. The breeze erupts into one last gust that carries more than itself forward. “Don’t let what other people do define you,” says Getty. “Define yourself.” (Editor’s note: Ariadne Getty is being honored with the Washington Blade Lifetime Achievement Award for LGBTQ Advocacy for her commitment to equality. The award is being presented to her at the Blade’s 50th anniversary gala on Oct. 18 in D.C.)

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