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OCTOBER 25, 2019 • VOLUME 50 • I S S UE 43 • WA S HI NGTON BL A D E.CO M
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O CTO BE R 25, 2019 • WA SHINGTONBLA D E.COM • 03
VOLUME 50 ISSUE 43
photo by Marco Orando
06 08 10 11 12 13 14 18
50 years of the Blade
Oddly the oddity
DC Council holds hearing on hate
Queery: Robbie Barnett
crimes prosecution, panic defense bills
‘Slay Them’ competition returns
Meeting with mayor, DC
Countdown to Halloween
Council chair called ‘productive’
Dark as a dungeon
Elijah Cummings dies
at Baltimore hospital
Elio and Oliver, part II
14-year-old Calif. cheerleader
Eye on Elton
abused with anti-gay slurs
Senate Dems buckle on trans
A queer redux on Frankenstein
service in defense talks: Source
Northern Ireland marriage
equality law takes effect
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Oct. 23, 1981 issue of the Blade previewed DC elections FROM STAFF REPORTS
Washingtonians went to the polls on Nov. 3, 1981. The Oct. 23 issue of the Washington Blade that year included an election guide from the Gay Activists Alliance and an ad that urged voters to re-elect Alaire Rieffel to the D.C. Board of Education.
Oct. 23, 1981, issue of the Blade
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No vote planned DC Council holds for DC sex work hearing on hate decriminalization bill crimes prosecution, Lead sponsor says more time panic defense bills needed to build support Ruby Corado among witnesses who testified
By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM
By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN Lambda Legal and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers were among the groups that weighed in at Wednesday’s hearing on hate crimes prosecution and two related panic defense bills currently before the D.C. Council. Though their representatives sat at the same witness table, each expert differed sharply on the issues of an LGBT victim’s right to respect and the defendant’s right to due process. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, convened the public hearing to discuss the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s widely reported failure to prosecute significant numbers of hate crimes reported in D.C., as well as the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2019 introduced by Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and the Tony Hunter and Bella Evangelista Panic Defense Prohibition Act introduced by Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large). “The idea you can use this as a defense is reprehensible and must be stopped,” Allen said. “I fully support these bills and advocate their passage as soon as possible to ensure justice is applied in a fair and responsible way.” Both bills seek to limit the use of defenses that seek to partially or completely excuse violent crimes on the grounds of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The panic defense was used in the Hunter and Evangelista cases, but those who were charged in their murders were still convicted. However, the bill named for them goes further to include other identifications such as race, ethnicity and disability. Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado gave testimony in support of both bills, but grew emotional when remembering Evangelista, who was also trans, and how her case was handled. “16-years-ago, I heard Evangelista had been killed in our community,” Corado said. “I heard a lie that blamed the victim for their own death. The person who killed her knew all of us. I encountered him and he knew I was trans.” Sasha Buchert, a senior attorney at Lambda Legal, also gave a statement in support of both bills along with Mike Silverstein of the ANC Rainbow Caucus, SMYAL Youth Programs Fellow Q Garcia-Geary, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance President Bobbi Strang, LGBT hate crime victim Mark Rodeffer and others. “There’s a long history of defendants seeking to justify such violence by asserting that it was motivated by the defendant’s transphobia, homophobia or other biases,” Buchert said. “In Bella’s case the defendant argued that he became enraged when he discovered her gender identity, and in Mr. Hunter’s case the defendant told police that he fatally punched Tony in self-defense after Mr. Hunter supposedly made a sexual overture.” The panic defense was used successfully in each case which Buchert said is reflective of and perpetuates juror bias.
CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
D.C. Council member CHARLES ALLEN (D-Ward 6) this week did not provide a potential timeline for a vote on a bill that would decriminalize sex work in D.C. Photo by Lorie Shaull via Wikimedia Commons
Less than one week after about 160 witnesses testified for and against a controversial bill to decriminalize sex work between consenting adults in the D.C., the chair of a D.C. Council Committee in charge of the bill said the committee has no immediate plans to take further action on the bill. Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who chairs the Council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee that presided over a contentious 14-hour hearing on the bill on Oct. 17, told the Washington Blade this week he could not say when or if the committee will schedule a vote on whether to bring the bill before the full Council for final approval. Many of the witnesses and spectators at the hearing gave highly emotional testimony for or against the bill, the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019. Some of the witnesses and spectators shouted and jeered at those who expressed views opposing their own. The committee has yet to release an official count of how many testified for and against the bill, but an informal count conducted by the Blade shows a slight majority appear to have supported the proposed legislation. “No way around it,” Allen told the Blade on Monday. “I think that there were incredibly sharp divisions on display in very raw, hurtful ways that we need to think about, because I did not see consensus,” he
said. “And now our job will be trying to dig through and listen to all that we heard.” Councilmember David Grosso (I-AtLarge), the lead author and sponsor of the bill, praised Allen for agreeing to hold the hearing and for doing what Grosso called an excellent job in overseeing testimony by dozens of witnesses. At least a dozen witnesses representing LGBT rights organizations expressed strong support for the bill. “I don’t think necessarily that there is an appetite to move it forward now,” Grosso told the Blade in discussing what may happen next with the bill. “I think right now we still have some work to do to garner support to get it moved through the full Council,” he said. “But I don’t think that diminishes the value we got,” he said referring to the marathon Oct. 17 hearing. He noted that many of the witnesses were members of or those who provide services to the transgender community. Several trans witnesses testified that longstanding bias and discrimination faced by trans people, especially trans women of color, have forced them to engage in sex work for economic survival. Among those testifying in support of the bill was Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
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O CTO BE R 25, 2019 • WA SHINGTONBLA D E.COM • 09
10/4/2019 10:18:03 AM
Meeting with mayor, DC Council chair called ‘productive’ By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM
Remembering Jim Williams 1935-2019 A memorial service will take place on Dec. 7 By BALTIMORE OUTLOUD
SMYAL Executive Director SULTAN SHAKIR is among the activists who met with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on Oct. 11. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key
More than a dozen leaders and members of local LGBT advocacy groups met on Oct. 11 with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) to discuss what they said were challenges facing the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community. The meeting, which was not publicly announced and was closed to the press, was held in a conference room at the John A. Wilson Building, where the mayor’s and Council offices are located. According to activists in attendance, others present were D.C. Council members Robert White (D-At-Large) and Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) and at least seven directors of city agencies or offices, including Sheila AlexanderReid, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs. “I thought the meeting with the mayor, Chairman Mendelson, and members of the Council was productive and a positive next step in addressing some of the frustrations from local organizations — frustrations both about the budget process as well as with engaging with agencies that are key to the health and safety of the LGBTQ community,” said Sultan Shakir, executive director of the LGBT youth services group SMYAL, who spoke at the meeting. “We’re looking forward to working with the mayor on recent funding requests as well as with D.C. agency directors to engage around how we can collectively address some of the real and urgent issues that are impacting the LGBTQ community,” Shakir told the Washington Blade. He was referring, among other things, to a request earlier this year by representatives of local LGBT groups that the Council approve $3.5 million in additional funding for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs for a competitive grants program. The request called for the grants to help support LGBT organizations that provide services for LGBT youth, LGBT seniors, and members of the transgender community who are often in need of such services, including housing and employment. The Council did not approve the requested funds, and Mendelson and other Council members said back in March that they were unaware of the request. Organizers of the funding request dispute that claim, saying they sent letters to the Council members specifically asking for the funds. Since that time, leaders of several local LGBT groups, including members of the Rainbow Caucus of the city’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, said they were asking Bowser to consider reprograming funds from other city agencies to come up with the $3.5 million for the LGBT related grants. Members of the Rainbow Caucus, meanwhile, have said they are requesting that the funding proposal be increased to $5 million, which they said they will ask the Council to approve for next year’s city budget. People attending the Oct. 11 meeting with Bowser and Mendelson said the mayor told them she would consider the funding request but she emphasized that specific city agencies rather than the Office of LGBTQ Affairs would be better suited to provide funds to LGBT groups providing services to members of the community. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
JIM WILLIAMS, a well-known LGBT and AIDS activist in Baltimore, died Oct. 4. Photo courtesy of Baltimore OutLoud
Jim Williams co- founder and longtime co-publisher of Baltimore OUTloud, died on Friday, Oct. 4, at Seasons Hospice in Baltimore County following a long illness. He retired from the newspaper in June due to failing health related to heart and lung problems. He was 84 years old and had lived at Cross Keys for many years. Jim was one of the four original founders of the newspaper and became co-publisher following the retirement of founding publisher Mike Chase in 2009. With years of experience managing nonprofits, Jim had great business sense and spearheaded an effort to pay off a significant debt that the newspaper had accrued. He was also instrumental in the decision to buy the Baltimore Gay Paper. On learning of Jim’s death, current Baltimore OUTloud publisher Jim Becker said, “Jim devoted the latter half of his life to serving the gay community as executive director of Moveable Feast and AIDS Interfaith Residential Services. That commitment made him a natural fit as a founder of Baltimore OUTloud. He had great insight into the needs of the community that, combined with a strong business sense, made him invaluable to the newspaper. Until his health began to take its toll, Jim had boundless energy and a love of life, perhaps the result of growing up in New Orleans. He had a great sense of humor, loved a good party , and could light up a room. I will miss him as a tremendous partner in publishing Baltimore OUTloud and as a dear friend.” Reflecting on Jim’s role in founding the newspaper, publisher emeritus Mike Chase said, “I met Jim shortly after he came to
Baltimore and was immediately struck by his commitment to helping those with HIV/AIDS. He embraced Baltimore’s Q-plus community while making the city his home. It was that community spirit that led us to ask him to join in the founding of Baltimore OUTloud. Jim was a patron of local artists and all things of beauty. He faced life’s challenges with his characteristic good humor and a generous nature. I have been proud to call Jim a friend, and know he will be missed by many.” Jim Williams was born at home in Shreveport, La., on April 9, 1935. Two years later, Jim and his family moved to the suburb of St. Bernard Parish, outside New Orleans. His taste for hard work started showing, when at ten, he shined shoes in the local barber shop at 25 cents a pop. While attending Arabi (now Chalmette) High School, Jim was elected the first male cheerleader. “We would play football games across the Mississippi River and ride a school bus,” Jim recounted in an interview he gave to Baltimore OUTloud reporter Frankie Kujawa in June. “We would get into a fight after the games. I’d beat people with my megaphone and run like crazy to get onto the bus.” Jim went on to attend Presbyterianaffiliated Arkansas (now Lyon) College, on a church scholarship. He was elected student body president and preached on weekends at churches throughout Arkansas. After college, Jim dropped plans to be a minister and instead taught eighthgrade English at North Clayton High School for three years. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
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Elijah Cummings dies at Baltimore hospital By MICHAEL K. LAVERS MLAVERS@WASHBLADE.COM
Black LGBT leaders rebuke Trump for ‘lynching’ tweet Comparison to impeachment called ‘simply revolting’ By CHRIS JOHNSON CJOHNSON@WASHBLADE.COM
U.S. Rep. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-Md.) died in a Baltimore hospital on Oct. 17, 2019. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers
Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings died on Oct. 17 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Cummings, 68, represented Maryland’s 7th congressional district, which includes portions of Baltimore, since 1996. Cummings most recently chaired the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is among the committees leading the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. The Associated Press notes Cummings backed needle exchange programs as a way to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Cummings in October 2012 was the last member of the Maryland Democratic congressional delegation to publicly back the state’s same-sex marriage law. Cummings spoke with the Washington Blade about the issue less than a month before Maryland voters upheld the statute in a referendum. “I respect and support the decision of the Maryland legislature and will vote in support of Question 6,” said Cummings. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are among those who mourned Cummings’ death. “Congressman Cummings leaves behind an incredible legacy of fighting for Baltimore City and working to improve people’s lives,” said Hogan in a statement. “He was a passionate and dedicated public servant whose countless contributions made our state and our country better.” Trump, who has previously attacked Cummings, in a tweet extended his “warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings.” “I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader,” tweeted Trump. “His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace.” LGBTQ activists in Maryland also mourned Cummings death. “What a terrible loss for the people of Baltimore and of Maryland,” tweeted Maryland LGBT PAC Treasurer Brian Gaither, who is also the co-founder of the Pride Foundation of Maryland. Maryland state Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery County) described Cummings as a “servant, leader and statesman.” Maryland state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) also mourned Cummings. “There are no words to sufficiently convey the depth of our sorrow when we learned of the passing of this great man,” wrote Washington on her Facebook page. “We in the 43rd District, Baltimore City, Maryland and worldwide have been blessed to count on him as a friend and mentor. He has been with us in every fight. A strong and steady light in what was too frequently a dull and dismal political landscape. A champion who gave a full-throated voice to our hopes and our outrage.” CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
N AT I O NAL NE WS • OCTOBER 25, 2019 • WA SH I NGTON BL A DE . COM • 11
Black leaders in the LGBT community are rebuking President Trump for comparing the impeachment inquiry against him to lynching — a practice that claimed the lives of thousands of black Americans over the course the nation’s history. David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, called the comparison between the two “grossly irresponsible and ignorant.” “Trump’s misdirected comparison is reflective of the work that still remains to ensure all Americans are aware of the legacy of racial terror that was lynching and the threat of lynching Black people,” Johns said. Johns, who said he spent the last weekend at the National Memorial for Peace in Montgomery, Ala., said Trump should visit the Equal Justice Initiative — an Alabama-based organization that seeks to challenge racial and economic injustice. The House impeachment inquiry proceeded this week based on evidence Trump improperly made U.S. government aid to Ukraine conditional to investigating his potential political opponent Joseph Biden. Among those who testified was Bill Taylor, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who expressed concern about a quid pro quo in now-public text messages. In apparent frustration with the inquiry, Trump on Tuesday compared the process to lynching. The tweet — perhaps intentionally — created an uproar in the media. After all, the U.S. president was comparing an impeachment process explicitly permitted under the U.S. Constitution to extrajudicial lynching. According to the Tuskegee Institute, 4,743 people were lynched in the U.S. between 1882 and 1968. Not all were black: The number counts 3,446 AfricanAmericans and 1,297 whites. More than 73 percent of these lynchings occurred in the South. Alphonso David, who’s black and the new president of the Human Rights
Campaign, drew on these numbers in his own tweet condemning Trump’s remarks as “simply revolting.” “Learn your history, @realDonaldTrump,” David tweeted. “From 1882 to 1968, at least 4,743 lynchings occurred in the U.S. Of those lynched, 3,446 were Black. To compare an inquiry into your alleged corrupt behavior to the murders of innocent Americans is simply revolting.” White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said Tuesday during a gaggle with reporters at the White House Trump was “not comparing what‘s happened to him with one of our darkest moments in American history.” “He’s just not,” Gidley added. “What he’s explaining clearly is the way he’s been treated by the media since he announced for president. The word impeachment was used about this president the day he was elected and before he was even sworn into office.” But Trump has a history of racist rhetoric both as a presidential candidate and president. Most recently, he tweeted four Democratic congresswomen of color should go back to their home countries and attacked the late-Rep. Elijah Cummings for representing a district filled with “rats and rodents.” Earl Fowlkes, CEO of the D.C.-based Center for Black Equity, was among the black leaders condemning Trump for his latest tweet. “It’s unfortunate that Thump would evoke a term which has such a painful connotation for African-Americans to describe his self inflicted political missteps,” Fowlkes said. “Trump’s blatant disregard for the rule of law is the core of his alleged ‘suffering.’” Trump invocation of lynching recalls a similar comment now-U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas made in 1991 during his confirmation process, which was marred by allegations of sexual misconduct from Anita Hill. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
14-year-old Calif. cheerleader abused with anti-gay slurs By STAFF REPORTS
Adrian Wilcox High School. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
The father of a 14-year-old freshman cheerleader in California is speaking out after his son was abused with homophobic slurs and threatened physically at his high school on Oct. 18. The young victim, who has not been identified because he is a minor, had attended a prep rally where he was allegedly confronted by some members of the Adrian Wilcox High School Chargers’ football team who had directed homophobic slurs at him. School officials are still trying to piece together exactly what happened and asked for the Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) to investigate. In an interview with the Mercury News in San José on Oct. 21, the father of the cheerleader said that both his son and an unidentified female member of the cheerleading squad had been harassed and physically threatened. “We are fearful for his safety — now more than ever,” the father said. The father indicated to the Mercury that his son had elected to return to classes. Jennifer Dericco, a spokeswoman
for Santa Clara Unified School District told the Los Angeles Blade and Bay Area media outlets in a statement, “At Santa Clara Unified School District, we proactively work to create an environment that embraces diversity and we do not tolerate harassment or bullying of any kind.” A SCPD spokesperson, Captain Wahid Kazem told media outlets that his department has assigned two investigators to determine if any crime had been committed. Kazem acknowledged that there were conflicting reports of the incident. On Oct. 19, an anonymous person posted a petition at Change.org, stating that; “At a football game on October 18th, members of the Wilcox High School Varsity football team chanted homophobic slurs (including “f-g”) at a male member of the cheerleading team. They called him “gay” for cheerleading for THEIR team, and showing up every game to cheer them on.” The petition which had garnered
nearly 3,826 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, also noted; “While many people are aware of this incident, there is a slim chance much will be done to change this behavior by tweeting/ posting about it,” the petition, posted anonymously, stated. “The main purpose of this petition is to call the administration and football coaches to attention, so they can investigate this incident.” Dericco told the Mercury News Sunday night that school officials began investigating as soon as the charges were brought to their attention. However, a source close to the football team told the paper that the incident could be a case of misinterpretation. “At the rally Friday, which administrators and teachers attended, the crowd and football players chanted, “‘Hey, Hey, Hey,” while waving arms back and forth,” the source said, adding that the cheerleader might have interpreted the chants as, “‘Gay, Gay, Gay.”” The teen’s father, stricken and emotional at times, disputed what the source told the Mercury News the paper reported. “This is far from a misunderstanding,” said the father, who broke down several times during a 30-minute interview. Echoing the information posted on the petition on Change.org, the father says his son heard far worse, being called a “fag”, a slang word for being gay that is considered a slur the paper reported adding that the father also said his son had been subjected to other incidents over the past month. ““Even after everything that happened, he went back and faced it,” the father said. “He’s so courageous. He has a responsibility to his team and to the school. He’s out there to cheer the football team, and this is what they do.” The father said his son faced more verbal insults during halftime at the game. He said the cheerleaders protested the team by refusing to hold up banners the players run through to enter the field. The father also told the paper he and his son had met Monday morning with Wilcox H.S. principal Kristin Gonzalez and a school district representative he did not identify.” The paper also noted that the Wilcox High School cheerleading coaches Bunny Demera and Michelle Bumbaca declined to comment, referring all questions to the school district’s spokeswoman.
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Senate Dems buckle on trans service in defense talks: source Accusations called ‘inaccurate’ as NDAA talks continue
Katie Hill refutes Republican ‘smear campaign’ Calif. Democrat denies ethics rules breach By KAREN OCAMB KOCAMB@LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
By CHRIS JOHNSON CJOHNSON@WASHBLADE.COM In a rare display of intraparty fighting over LGBT rights, a senior Democratic aide is accusing Senate Democrats of buckling in efforts to overturn the transgender military ban as part of closed-door negotiations for major defense spending legislation. Amid negotiations for the fiscal year 2020 defense authorization bill, the senior Democratic aide last week faulted Senate Democrats for failing to push for inclusion of the “Harry Truman” amendment introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and approved by the U.S. House as part of the legislation. “There is deep concern that Senate Democrats led by Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, are not fighting hard enough to retain the reversal of Trump’s transgender military service ban in the final NDAA conference report,” the aide said. “Ten House Republicans joined with House Democrats to pass the Speier amendment. We hope Senate Democrats will reverse course and make this a top priority in the negotiations.” The “Harry Truman” amendment, named for the executive order President Truman signed in 1948 to desegregate the military, would reverse the trans military ban the Defense Department implemented in April as a result of direction from President Trump. The measure would not only restore trans military service, but prohibit the U.S. armed forces from discriminating against LGBT service members. The amendment states the military must consider applicants based on gender-neutral occupational standards and military occupational specialty, but “may not include any criteria relating to the race, color, national origin, religion, or sex (including gender identity or sexual orientation) of an individual.” Further, the amendment states any Defense Department personnel policy for members of the armed forces “shall ensure equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces, without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, and sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation).” The House approved the amendment in July as part of the defense authorization bill by a bipartisan 242-187 vote. The Senate version contains no similar language. Conferees charged with hammering out a final conference report for the defense authorization bill with have to make a decision on the legislation. Chip Unruh, a Reed spokesperson, disputed the notion of Senate Democrats buckling on the measure, calling the source “inaccurate.” “Sen. Reed’s history of supporting LGBTQ troops goes back to his vote against President Clinton’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” Unruh said. Keeping the language in the final version of the bill will be challenging. Although the Democratic-controlled House agreed to the measure, it would have to make it through a Republican-controlled Senate and avoid Trump’s veto when the larger bill reached his desk — a tall order to fill given Trump will likely seek to defend the ban he instituted. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
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Rep. KATIE HILL (D-Calif.)
Washington Blade photo by Michael Key
California Republicans were expected to launch a major 2020 offensive to win back the six congressional seats they lost to Democrats in 2018. And with Donald Trump as a model for ugly tactics, it should not be surprising that GOP operatives would exploit bisexual Rep. Katie Hill’s private pain as she suffers through an acrimonious divorce. After all, salaciousness in the name of traditional family values has long been a feature of Republican dirty tricks from salivating Stormy Daniels fans. But there is a particularly audacious twist to this attack. RedState, the conservative online site that originated the first rumor, claims the LGBTQ press made them do it. “A story in Metro Weekly covering a resolution introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) condemning Sec. Ben Carson’s comments about transgendered people, which identified Hill as a ‘lesbian’ seemingly prompted Hill’s estranged husband to out her on an entirely different issue,” RedState reported on Oct. 10. “Out lesbian?!? Then why has she been sleeping with her (male) finance director for the past year at least?” wrote Kenny Heslep who filed for divorce in July, requesting spousal support. “I couldn’t dispute this if she was still holding to being bisexual. But but being with her husband (me) for almost 15 years and then leaving me for another MAN, not woman, whom she is still seeing, is not her being a lesbian. Bisexual yes, as I will back up her claims to this. But not lesbian alone.”
Heslep, who lives in LA and didn’t explain how he came across the news items in the local LGBT Washington D.C.-based paper, did not offer any supporting evidence of the alleged affair with Graham Kelly, Hill’s former finance director and current legislative director. The allegation, if true, would be a violation of House ethics rules and possible cause for an investigation of one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s favorite newcomers, having appointed Hill vice chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee that is now involved with the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s fitness for office. After there were no media bites on that report, RedState upped the ante, publishing a nude photo of Hill brushing the hair of someone seated in front of her, along with text messages among Hill, Heslep and an apparent young female campaign staffer with whom the married couple seemed romantically engaged. Twelve days later, Hill was forced to deny having the rumored affair with a staff member but refused to indulge in the sensationalist idea of a “throuple.” Conservative critics called on Hill to resign, claiming national security was at stake since she could have been blackmailed. Others linked the affair to the #MeToo movement since the workplace power dynamic means any employee cannot have a “consensual” relationship with an employer. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
Northern Ireland marriage equality law takes effect Same-sex couples in UK country to begin marrying in 2020 By MICHAEL K. LAVERS MLAVERS@WASHBLADE.COM
A law that extends marriage rights to same-sex couples and decriminalizes abortion in Northern Ireland took effect on Oct. 22, 2019. Image by Andrein via Wikimedia Commons
A law that extends marriage rights to same-sex couples in Northern Ireland took effect on Oct. 22. Northern Ireland’s Stormont Parliament has not met since the country’s coalition government collapsed in 2017. The British Parliament in July voted to force Northern Ireland to allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot and to decriminalize abortion. Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in England, Wales and Scotland since 2014. Ireland in 2015 became the first country in the world to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples through a popular vote. The BBC reported the first same-sex weddings in Northern Ireland are expected to take place early next year. “Change has finally come today and we are on the way to being equal with our fellow citizens,” tweeted Belfast Pride after the law took effect. “It has taken many years of work to get this far.” Paul Twocock, chief executive of Stonewall, a British LGBTQ advocacy group, also applauded the law. “LGBT people in Northern Ireland have waited for too long for marriage equality and we can’t wait to see same-sex couples across Northern Ireland marrying the person they love,” said Twocock in a statement.
Costa Rica campaign seeks to bolster marriage equality support By MICHAEL K. LAVERS MLAVERS@WASHBLADE.COM More than 30 groups have joined a campaign designed to increase support for marriage rights for same-sex couples in Costa Rica. Sí, Acepto (“Yes I accept” in Spanish) formally launched in August and includes ads that feature LGBTI Costa Ricans’ relatives, friends and teammates. The campaign also includes workshops on the issue that will take place across the country. “This first phase is real stories that talk about (people)’s experience as a dad, as a mom, as an uncle, as a brother, etc., when they realized someone in their family was gay or lesbian,” Sí, Acepto Project Manager Gia Miranda told the Washington Blade last month during a WhatsApp interview from Costa Rica. Miranda added those featured in the ads also talk about how they “now understand” their loved one’s sexual orientation or gender identity “doesn’t change their love for that person one bit.” Freedom to Marry Global has also provided support to the campaign. “Advocates in Costa Rica have built a powerful campaign rooted in conversation as the engine of change,” Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, told the Blade in a statement. “It’s been proven time and time again — in the U.S. and across many countries in Latin America — that when people hear why marriage matters to their gay and lesbian neighbors, as it does to them, and talk about personal stories and shared values, support for the freedom to marry grows.” The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is based in the Costa Rican capital of San José, in January 2018 issued a landmark ruling that recognized samesex marriage and transgender rights. Then-Costa Rican Vice President Ana Helena Chacón announced her government was going to comply with the ruling, which the court announced weeks before the first round of the country’s presidential election.
Carlos Alvarado, who publicly supports marriage rights for samesex couples, was elected president of Costa Rica in April 2018. His opponent in the election’s second round, Fabricio Alvarado, made his opposition to the issue a centerpiece of his campaign. The country’s Supreme Court last November gave members of the Costa Rica National Assembly a deadline of May 26, 2020, to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ decision takes effect. Opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples remains high in Costa Rica, even though the country is seen as a champion of human rights in the region. Costa Rica this month challenged Venezuela’s campaign for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council. The Washington Post on Thursday reported Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said his embattled government “faced a ferocious campaign” after the country won with the support of Cuba and other allies. Protests against the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, began in April 2018. Nicaraguan LGBTI rights advocates are among those who have fled to Costa Rica since the protests and the crackdown against them began. “Costa Rica is a very important pillar for all of us in Central America,” Miranda told the Blade, while adding that conservative and anti-LGBTI attitudes persist. “Costa Rica is a pillar for human rights.” Wolfson said he remains confident the campaign will pave the way for same-sex couples to legally marry in the country. “As Costa Rica prepares to usher in a new era of recognition and respect for all families, the Sí, Acepto campaign will ensure that this landmark marriage victory will unite the country under the shared values of the Costa Rican people,” he told the Blade.
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NEW YORK — In many U.S. cities, tanning salons appear to cluster in neighborhoods where more gay and bisexual men live, according to a study that suggests this might be one reason for higher skin cancer rates among sexual minority men, Reuters reports. Researchers examined data on the number of households with partnered male couples across 4,091 census tracts in 10 U.S. major cities and the distribution of tanning salons across those cities. The odds of living near a tanning salon were twice as high in areas where at least 10 percent of households were male couples than in neighborhoods with fewer gay households, Reuters reports. “This matters because gay men already experience many health disparities and also have higher rates of skin cancer,” said Dr. Eleni Linos, senior author of the study and a professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Stanford University in California. “Tanning beds are a known carcinogen, so having this carcinogen more available in these neighborhoods is a problem,” Linos told Reuters by email. Skin cancer is becoming increasingly common in the U.S., and indoor tanning causes more than 450,000 basal and squamous cell cancers and more than 10,000 melanomas each year, Linos and colleagues write in JAMA Network Open. Compared to straight men, sexual minority men who identify as gay and bisexual have a six-fold higher prevalence of tanning salon use and more than double the skin cancer risk, researchers note.
Depression rates still high for LGB teens LONDON — Depression rates among LGB teens continue to remain high in the U.S. according to new research reported on by the Daily Mail. Researchers found that the rate of depression among LGB teens remained almost unchanged from 1999-2017. These teens were also about twice as likely to report feeling depressed as those who identify as straight. The team, from the Warren Alpert
Medical School of Brown University, in Providence, R.I., says the findings provide further evidence that more aggressive efforts are needed in schools and health clinics to drive down these rates. The prevalence of depression among U.S. teenagers has been slowly rising over the last 10 years. A Pew Research Center poll found that, in 2017, 13 percent of American teens between ages 12-17 said they had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, up from eight percent in 2007. But LGB teens have a risk of depression that is 1.5 to two times higher than their straight peers. And, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGB high school students are nearly five times as likely to attempt suicide compared to straight students.
Nevada ruling could bode well for trans inmates LAS VEGAS — A court ruling out of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could have implications for transgender inmates’ health care access in Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reports. In August, a three-judge panel upheld a 2018 ruling requiring the Idaho Department of Corrections to provide a transgender inmate with gender confirmation surgery. Idaho’s refusal to give inmate Adree Edmo access to the surgery constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, the court determined. Edmo, a transgender woman housed in the all-men’s Idaho State Correctional Center, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. She has requested gender confirmation surgery many times and attempted self-castration twice while in prison, demonstrating a medical need for the surgery, the 9th Circuit determined, the Sun reports. “The broad medical consensus in the area of transgender health care requires providers to individually diagnose, assess and treat individuals’ gender dysphoria, including for those individuals in institutionalized environments,” the threejudge 9th Circuit panel wrote in August. “Treatment can and should include (gender confirmation surgery) when medically necessary.” The Nevada Department of Corrections is aware of the ruling from the 9th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Nevada, said department spokesperson Scott Kelley, the Sun reports.
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is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.
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is a D.C.-based LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
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Libel law and the LGBTQ community An anti-LGBTQ ministry just lost in court in the Deep South. U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson of the Middle District of Alabama said the Southern Poverty Law Center was within its rights to call Coral Ridge Ministries a “hate group.” As President Trump pushes to “open up” libel law, the Coral Ridge Ministries case pushes us to examine broader points: Should we roll back the current strict standard on libel, so it’s easier to collect damages? How did we get our current libel law anyway?
The Coral Ridge case Coral Ridge Ministries, started by the late-Rev. D. James Kennedy in Florida, BROOKLAND CRAFTSMAN FOR RENT “opposes homosexual conduct” but “has • Steps to Rhode Island Metro, Shops, and nothing but love for people who engage exciting new Bryant Street Development in homosexual conduct,” the federal court • 5 bedrooms / 4 full baths said, adding that “it (the ministry) views • Completely updated inside and out homosexual conduct as ‘lawless,’ ‘an • Off-street parking for 2 and abomination,’ ‘vile’ and ‘shameful.’” private patio and decks The mega-church is known • $4,500 per month plus utilities around the world, with its prominent (one pet considered) evangelical Presbyterian ministers Check Zillow for 1012 Rhode Island broadcasting on television and sending Avenue for more info. out mass email newsletters. The Southern Poverty Law Center in CALL OWNER AT Montgomery listed Coral Ridge Ministries as one of 1,200 hate groups in the United States, and that listing made the ministry ineligible for the AmazonSmile charitable giving program. Coral Ridge Ministries sued Southern Poverty Law Center, Amazon.com, and A D V E R T IAmazon’s S I N G charity, PROO F alleging defamation. However, Judge Thompson said ISSUE DATE: 171208 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: Southern Poverty Law Center was within REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of its rights to call Coral Ridge Ministries proof. Proof will be considered final and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is a “hate group,” dismissing the case responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or on Sept.19. Thompson, appointed by IONS any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair GO REVISIONS competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, President Jimmy Carter, was the second or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the ADVERTISER SIGNATURE NS washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contract obligations with the African American federal judge in the liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred washington blade newspaper. This includes but is not limited to placement, by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations payment and insertion schedule. state. He grew up in Tuskegee, Alabama, and warranties. and graduated from Yale College (1969) and Yale Law School (1972). Judge Thompson’s 141-page decision concludes with these summaries: *25 words or less prints free - anything more is $1/word. Southern Poverty Law Center’s listing
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of Coral Ridge Ministries as a “hate group” is protected by the First Amendment. Amazon’s exclusion of Coral Ridge Ministries from its charitable-giving program does not violate the federal Civil Rights Act. “Coral Ridge joined many other public figures around the country in the national discussion about the rights of gay people. When it did this it opened itself up to criticisms about its views,” wrote Judge Thompson. The Sullivan standard on libel My new book, “In Sullivan’s Shadow,” describes the context for the landmark 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established our modern standard on libel claims (New York Times v. Sullivan). Throughout the Jim Crow South, authorities had used libel to punish media and stifle criticism of white supremacists well into the 1960s. Montgomery’s police commissioner, Lester B. Sullivan, sued The New York Times for $500,000 because a full-page ad in 1960 criticized brutal police tactics against civil rights protesters in the South. The ad, entitled “Heed Their Rising Voices,” solicited funds to help pay Dr. Martin Luther King’s mounting legal bills as southern police and courts sought ways to punish his civil rights activism. Sullivan won in Alabama courts. But a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the newspaper and four African American ministers, including Dr. King, who also were named in the suit. Successful libel claims against public officials, the high court said, must prove reckless disregard for the truth, or “actual malice.” Later, the courts expanded this strict standard to public figures. The thinking was, those who thrust themselves into the limelight in an effort to affect change on a particular public issue or controversy should expect caustic criticism. In the recent Coral Ridge Ministries ruling, the judge cites the Sullivan case on page after page. Coral Ridge Ministries, as an outspoken media entity, is a “public figure,” the court said.
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is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.
Can someone slip Hillary a Xanax? Americans love to hate her. Failed 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has a knack for reminding voters why there was, and is, widespread ambivalence or anxiety about her as a political and public ﬁgure. This popular assessment worsens each time she periodically pops up in the news. Currently ﬂacking a new book with co-author daughter Chelsea, Clinton has again generated adverse headlines. Her promotional escapades are not helping Democrats as they struggle to decipher a successful message, and candidate, for the party’s attempt to win the White House. Clinton, however, is still replaying her election humiliation over and over, not just in her head but yet once again in our minds. Despite the work being titled, “The Book of Gutsy Women,” Clinton recently made disparaging remarks and disconcerting comments regarding both Tulsi Gabbard and transgender self-identiﬁcation. Her astonishing and unfounded claims about Gabbard indicate she’s still settling old scores. Clinton’s characterization in an interview last week of the 38-year-old long-shot nomination contender as being “groomed” by Russia for an ultimately independent campaign for president while accusing her of being a “Russian asset” ignited pants-and-suits on ﬁre. Clinton’s comments provoked jaws to drop and stretched many a mouth agape. Rep. Gabbard became the ﬁrst female veteran elected to Congress in 2012 and is the ﬁrst female veteran to run for president, having served two combat deployments in Iraq beginning in 2004. Quickly considered a fresh new dynamic political persona, she was Democratic National Committee vicechair from 2013 to 2016, until resigning over her complaint the party apparatus was inappropriately working to favor Clinton’s nomination and endorsing competitor Bernie Sanders. It’s that criticism and action that still lingers on Clinton’s litany of personal affronts to this day. In an interview with the Sunday Times of London also published last week, Clinton’s controversial commentary on transgender issues were equally startling for LGBT
activists. While Chelsea Clinton disagreed, and was noted as visibly uncomfortable with her mother’s responses, Hillary Clinton espoused the thinking of many a radical feminist and much of the public despite her prior declarations of support for measures prohibiting gender identity discrimination. When questioned regarding her support for children being permitted to compete on sports teams matching their gender identity, the elder Clinton stated, “I think you’ve got to be sensitive to how difﬁcult this is. There are women who’d say [to a trans woman], ‘You know what, you’ve never had the kind of life experiences that I’ve had. So I respect who you are, but don’t tell me you’re the same as me.’” Clinton added, while reported by journalist Decca Aitkenhead as looking “uneasy” about the topic of trans equality, “Errr, I’m just learning about this. It’s a very big generational discussion, because this is not something I grew up with or ever saw. It’s going to take a lot more time and effort to understand what it means to be deﬁning yourself differently.” She went on to say, when asked about women being uncomfortable with “biological males” sharing their bathrooms, “I would say that, absolutely,” while demonstrably nodding, “Absolutely. Yes.” Speculation abounds that Clinton holds out hope that a potentially deadlocked Democratic convention contest among contenders feared only marginally electable will turn to her to be the party nominee. Is there no one among the party leadership capable of persuading Clinton she might better enjoy an extended island respite, perhaps in the middle of the ocean and without cell service or internet connectivity? Voters are increasingly exhausted by President Trump’s domineering daily news cycle domination, but Hillary Clinton is no antidote to the din. A rematch between two of the most disliked and despised presidential candidates in history is desired by nearly no one. Clinton has become a new problem for Democrats, and one the party doesn’t need. Can someone slip Hillary a Xanax?
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is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.
is a D.C.-based LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
Giuliani, Mulvaney, Trump; an Abbott and Costello Movie White House cast of characters out of control Other than they aren’t funny but really scary, these characters could be in an Abbott and Costello movie. You want to ask the question; Who’s on first? Clearly these collectively insane and dangerous people along with the rest of the Trump White House and administration are totally out of contact with reality and out of control. Trump declares over and over regarding his interactions with the president of the Ukraine there was no quidpro-quo. His envoy Gordon Sondland states to Congressional committees Trump said this over and over to him on a short phone call about why the U.S. hold off on its sale of weapons to Ukraine. Then in one of the more bizarre recent White House press conferences, that’s saying something as they are all bizarre, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney says, “Of course there was a quid-pro-quo.” He says there always is a political one in our international relationships and this one was about Hillary’s server and the Justice Department knew about it. Then the Justice Department spokesperson denies knowing about it and Trump’s personal lawyers say they knew nothing about what Mulvaney was saying. A few hours later Mulvaney tries to walk his statements back. Mulvaney also announced Trump had selected his own resort, the Doral in Miami, as the location for next year’s G-7 meeting and if people don’t like all the sleaziness of all Trump’s machinations they should ‘Just get over it.” Meanwhile during all this Trump is in Texas holding a political rally and cutting a ribbon on a new Louis Vuitton mini factory in Texas with his daughter Ivanka who has made millions while serving him in the
White House off the Trump name. A day after Trump returns to D.C. he tweets he changed his mind about the Doral as the location for the G-7and says other sites will be considered. Now during all this Rudy Giuliani is finding out he is under investigation and a bunch of his associates who have been working with him on his mission to have the Biden’s investigated again in the Ukraine have been arrested trying to leave the country with one-way tickets. Of course, he claims he knows nothing about this. Now to be fair — LOL — he is also dealing with his current and third wife who is filing for divorce and threatening to write a book about his sleaziness. His first wife was his second cousin and his second found out he was leaving her when he held a press conference to announce it. What a guy! Donald Trump is leading our nation down the drain and trying to take much of the world with us. It is hard to remember one outrageous act from last week when you know another will follow in quick succession. He has now put the lives of our allies, the Kurds, in danger and didn’t even know they fought on our side in World War II. He is kissing the ass of the Turkish president as he slaughters and chases thousands of Kurds from their homes. Trump’s actions are also once again giving life to ISIS with thousands being released from prisons and he is placing the entire region in turmoil leaving the United States out in the cold without any recourse to do anything about it. The clear winners are Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish president and Vladimir Putin who are planning to meet this week and will surely gloat over how truly dumb Trump is.
The Blade at 50
LGBTQ newspaper of record saved lives The first issue was just a single sheet. One-sided. The Gay Blade as it was called back then ran a total of 10 very brief articles. One announcing a blood drive, another a less than 20-word review of an off-Broadway play, and another a warning to gay men in Dupont: Cars seen too frequently in the Circle area are having their license numbers taken Down: “The owners later are being harassed and blackmailed.” That was in October of 1969, just four months after the riots at the Stonewall Inn. The Blade’s circulation then was usually hand-to-hand. Picked up initially in a gay bar, maybe Jo-Anna’s on Capitol Hill or the Chicken Hut downtown, then passed from reader to reader as the week went on. It’s difficult to say how many hands were on a single issue. Blade reporters would attach pseudonyms to their bylines to mask identities. That was 50 years ago. The topics of course changed, queer spaces closed and reopened as neighborhoods shifted, but the mission of the Blade remained largely unchanged — to deliver information to a segment of the population that was more or less completely ignored by the mainstream media. Information can be a precious thing, a vital thing, and with so many avenues for it these days that’s largely taken for granted. Just how important is information for marginalized groups? It may have very well saved lives. In July of 1973, just a few years after its initial run, The Blade printed “arrest cards,” something to clip out and keep in your wallet should you be harassed by the police when leaving a gay bar, bars like Pier Nine or Lost and Found. Among the seven bullet points to remember, get an attorney, say nothing, and in capital letters, “under no circumstances should you give the name of your employer.” Jobs were on the line.
The protection of livelihood shifted dramatically in the following decade to matters of life and death. In July 1981, the Blade ran a rather ominous headline, “Rare, Fatal Pneumonia Hits Gay Men.” As the AIDS crisis began to unfold, the Blade ran vital medical news in the front pages, information available nowhere else but within its margins. Obituaries filled the back pages. For a post-AIDS generation, a lost generation, a generation without mentorship, people like me, coming to Washington, D.C., picking up the Blade and seeing happy, smiling faces at events, advertisements for gayowned businesses, and scores of articles speaking to me, did wonders. JR’s Thursday happy hour was full or people thumbing through the new edition, seeing who was where, knowing where to be, what organizations to join, and flipping through news that would seldom be seen elsewhere. If the Blade did that for me, what could it do for the selfesteem and outlook of an entire city? Simply put, the Blade built a community. And as our Pride celebrations grew larger and larger, the Blade told us and those scores of people coming from outside our city where to celebrate and indeed how to celebrate — out, proud and unapologetically. Protecting lives, saving lives, and helping to secure better lives for LGBT Washington, 50 years later the Blade continues its service by speaking to those still largely ignored by the mainstream media. At desperate times in our past, when entire segments of the population desperate for information on themselves, the Blade was there. The Blade was there to shield, to protect, and of course celebrate us. Happy birthday, Blade. Here’s to another 50 years of having the Blade by our side.
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Boasting three season winners (Aquaria, Violet Chachki and Yvie Oddly), the 2019 “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq the World Tour” features one of the stronger lineups the franchise has ever launched. Hosted by Michelle Visage, a “Drag Race” legend in her own right at the judge’s table, the show features “mission leader” Asia O’Hara on a journey to save the universe with the help of Detox, Monet Exchange, Naomi Smalls, Plastique, Kameron Michaels and Vanessa “Vanjie” Mateo. The tour comes to Washington Sunday night. Yvie (aka Jovan Bridges), the 26-yearold 2019/season 11 “Drag Race” champ, unleashed her throaty trademark cackle liberally during a phone interview last week from Williamsville, N.Y. Her comments have been slightly edited for length. WASHINGTON BLADE: How’s the tour going so far? YVIE ODDLY: It’s really fun. It’s definitely been a challenge just trying to adapt my drag to a whole other thing on a crazy, massive scale, but I feel like I finally got the swing of things and it’s just a stellar show. It’s so much fun to be a part of. I love the girls, I love the people we work with and they feed me well (laughs). BLADE: Any queens from other seasons you didn’t know before you’ve bonded with? YVIE: Well, basically the whole cast. Up to this point, I’d only had the pleasure of working with Vanjie and Plastique so it’s been really cool to get one-on-one tme and hang out with a lot of the girls. I’d say the people I’ve probably gotten to know the best so far would be, like Naomi is really cool. I never would have imagined being friends with a pair of legs (laughs). I’ve also gotten along really well with Detox so far. I’m enjoying this experience.
YVIE ODDLY says life has been insane — but in a good way — since winning ‘Drag Race’ this year. Photo by Marco Orando
Oddly the oddity
‘Drag Race’ season 11 champ Yvie on her tour, sisters, adventures, love life and more By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM
BLADE: You’re also touring with two past season winners. Is there any unspoken deference to you three from the other girls? YVIE: I mean I’d like to think that I could probably get away with more shit if I wanted to (laughs). Uh, but no. It really does just feel like all of the girls, as much as the competition is the thing that elevated our careers to this point and in a way brought us all together, that’s all behind us know and we’re just working queens all in the same field, all trying to make a living.
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BLADE: What’s the drama meter like on tour vs. on the show? I’m sure you’re gonna say you’re all getting along great but c’mon — it’s drag, there has to be some drama right? YVIE: It literally has been like zero. Sorry to be the wet blanket. There’s something about being in a competition environment and not having anybody you can talk to at home, not having a phone and being put in isolation that really will just rattle up the most human emotions out of everybody. When you’re in that environment, it’s super volatile at points, but on tour, we’re all just working queens. There literally hasn’t been almost anything. BLADE: There was some controversy earlier this year when Monet X Change was fired from the “Haters Roast: the Shady Tour” after she bailed one of the dates to accept an offer from Madonna. How has this tour promoter (Voss) been like to work with for you and what would you do if Madonna called you to be ditch the tour to be in one of her videos? YVIE: I love working with Voss. They’ve been producing things for a very long time and have the capability to put on some of the craziest, biggest shows and spectacles and they just treat me nice, they treat me well, that’s why I’m here. The Madonna video, that depends, is she asking me? BLADE: Sorry, this is just hypothetical. YVIE: Well that’s why I love working with Voss. I would never have to leave a tour to work on a Madonna video. They want my career to be as beautiful and blossoming as possible so they’d figure out a way to make it work. BLADE: Did anything jump out at you watching your season on TV vs. how it felt in the moment? YVIE: No. I typically have a pretty good idea of what’s going on around me at all moments (laughs). So literally the only thing that was surprising was hearing the other girl’s confessionals. That’s the only thing I wasn’t in the room for. BLADE: You were quite abrasive at times. You said you were trying to be helpful but some were offended. Do you regret any of it? YVIE: I don’t care whether or not I came across as abrasive. It’s something that many people value and many people don’t and that’s all on their plates. I just wanted to live authentically especially
when I saw how inauthentic others were being and if it’s abrasive to tell the truth in a world that’s more comfortable telling lies outright then so be it, let me be that abrasive bitch. BLADE: What was it like performing at Pride in Denver (your home town) fresh off your win in June? YVIE: That was actually unimaginable. It felt like coming home from war. I know that’s a really intense comparison, but I had worked so hard to get on “Drag Race” to get my career to that point and I never thought, there’s one part of me that never really thought about what it would feel like to win or to lose or what any of it would feel like regardless. So after it all hit, so coming back home after making my city proud and being only the second person from Denver on the show I felt like what I imagine sports teams feel like when they win their championships (laughs). BLADE: Are you still based in Denver? YVIE: Yes I am. BLADE: Do you plan to stay or are you considering moving to one of the coasts? YVIE: I’m not moving to one of the coasts … at least as it stands right now, I really like the idea of being home when I’m home so if I’m only ever home for short amounts of time, then Denver is where I want to be. BLADE: Overall what’s life been like since you won? YVIE: It’s been like I’ve died and been reborn a thousands times. It really has. Not only am I trying so many different things that never thought I would try but I wake up literally in a different city every day, meet a whole bunch of new people every day and just have some of the most insane experiences, so I feel like since getting on “Drag Race” and definitely since airing and 100 percent since winning, I feel like every day is a crazy-ass rebirth (laughs). BLADE: I’m trying to think how to ask this diplomatically: you have so much insane flexibility in your performances. Does that come in handy in your, um, romantic life or is it just for stage? YVIE: (laughs) Unfortunately not. You know that whole adage about ladies in the street vs. in the sheets? I’m a freak on the streets and a blouse in the sheets.
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BLADE: Your lip sync against Brooke Lynn Hytes in episode eight was so mindbogglingly epic. What was it like in the moment? Did you realize she was really turning it out as well? And how did you feel when you found out you were both saved? YVIE: I definitely was hyper focused on delivering the best performance I could, so while I didn’t necessarily see Brooke Lynn during any of our lip sync except for maybe one split second here or there, there’s something to be said about the energy of going and fighting for your chance to stay and fighting for your chance to continue being seen that just flips a switch on in you and Brooke Lynn up until that point was already the fiercest competitor around and the one person I really didn’t want to have to lip sync against, so when both of us were called for the bottom, I could just feel the energy going full throttle. I could feel Brooke Lynn fighting to stay too and I knew I had to put up a damn good fight if I wanted to be there beside her. That being said, I feel like the fans sometimes get into this mindset, like, “Oh it’s obviously going to be a double save” or, “These things are predictable,” to them but when we were there on that stage, I never even considered like the possibility of a double save. I just considered was I good enough to beat her, was I good enough to secure my place in this competition, and if not, am I ready to pack my bags? So getting called at the same time felt like some strange act of God, like some weird miracle, like, “Oh yeah, by the way, this doesn’t ever happen but merry Christmas.” BLADE: How are you and Silky now? That was such a “Drag Race” rivalry for the ages. YVIE: I mean Silky is probably one of the girls I’m closer to from the show just ‘cause we did go through so much shit with each other in the experience itself and then having to watch the fans relive that in a way, so even though I only ever get to see her occasionally, she’s my sister. BLADE: You drew a lot of ire for your selfie policy. Sorry if I missed some of it, but was it more about you being exhausted after a show or did you not think it was fair to be taking a bunch of selfies after a show to the people who had paid for the meet and greet? YVIE: My thinking on it is that I didn’t want people to be selfish for me. It was always about the fact that regardless of
whether it’s for money or for my body or for whatever reason, if somebody says no, you just have to be respectful of that and I was getting so many people who started to get to a really creepy, unsettling level when I would tell them no. They would follow me back to my hotel room, they would like be berating me because they felt they deserved something for having watched me on TV (laughs). It’s just not how I feel. So when I made the initial tweets, it was out of frustration of people not listening to that. It was mostly because I’m tired, I’m fucking exhausted after a show, and people would rather believe it’s about money or it’s about me being some spoiled diva who wants all the fame fortune and none of the work that goes into it when really I never wanted fame and fortune, I wanted to be an artist and I feel like that’s who fans appreciate and respect. I’ve had plenty of people who love the hugs I’ve ben giving out (laughs) in place of bullshit selfies, which will just fade away into a timeline of, “Look at me and vaidate my life.” BLADE: Bianca del Rio …. (cuts off; Bianca criticized Yvie’s policy) YVIE: That grumpy old bitch. Whatever. That’s why I was shocked. I wasn’t shocked by fans being upset by what I said but I was shocked when she and a few other queens kind of jumped on the bandwagon because they chose to believe the most (inaudible) part about it and being a part of “Drag Race,” there’s always a deeper level that not everybody is going to read into or will even want to read into sympathetically and being like, “This life is hard.” She turns down photos with fans as well, instead of being, “Life is hard, sometime it’s OK to say no,” she was like this spoiled bitch who doesn’t want to take any photos but wants fame and fortune and she wants your money. So good on her, she can give as much terrible life advice as she wants. CON T I N U E S ON PAGE 2 8
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq the World Tour’ Sunday, Oct. 27 8 p.m. The Anthem 901 Wharf St., S.W. $52-62 ticketmaster.com
Penis glimpse by Troye Sivan was Yvie highlight CONTINUED FROM PAGE 27
of time to get my whole body pink and I didn’t have time when you’re under those constraints, you just don’t have time for decency or shyness (laughs). I guess he was just watching through one of those mirrors or something.
BLADE: You said on the show because of your (genetic connective tissue disorder) condition you won’t be able to do drag forever. Any idea how long you might have for this? And what would you be doing if not drag? YVIE: If I wasn’t doing drag, I’d still be creating. I was an artist before I found the medium of drag and I’ll be an artist afterwards. I have to create to survive, that’s just how I feel, the only way that I feel like I’m living my life authentically so I have had to think about that and remind myself that even if I can’t do things the way I’m doing them now, there is always a future, however I don’t have a timeline. … It’s just some days my body is there for me and some days it’s not and I know that if I keep doing drag the way I do it right now, there’s going to be a lot more of those not days.
BLADE: Are you just naturally super thin or do you work out and watch your diet? YVIE: I mean I live a super active lifestyle and always have. Way more active than honestly I probably should be. But I eat like crap (laughs) and my only exercise is drag. BLADE: Are you seeing anybody? What’s it like trying to date when you’re on the road so much? YVIE: I actually have been dating the same guy since literally the week before our show started airing. I feel like I’ve been lucky because I’ve gotten to enter a relationship in the unique context of he didn’t know me before, so he doesn’t have any claims to my previous identity or what I was like before “Drag Race” and he didn’t come to know me through the medium or through the time when I was on TV, so he like never had any like fan girl moment or anything, he was there with me fright from the beginning, so it’s been magical to kind of get to know somebody authentically as myself and just ride this whole experience with him. To answer your second part, yes, it’s super hard.
BLADE: How long did it take to film season 11? YVIE: It’s like a regular filming schedule, Monday-Friday, all hours of the day. I honestly don’t remember how long I was there for the whole time. I know it takes a few days to film an episode. BLADE: Did you feel pressed for time during the competition? YVIE: No. Only during the time challenges when they make it quite apparent how little you have of anything. BLADE: Have you been watching “Drag Race U.K.”? YVIE: Yes I have. BLADE: Any thoughts or favorites? YVIE: Um, it’s too early for me to call favorites, especially since what their queens offer is such a different dynamic from what we’ve seen in the U.S. seasons. However I’m just in love with some of the camp and wit that goes into their drag. I love a stupid bitch. BLADE: It was announced you were gonna have your own World of Wonder
YVIE ODDLY performs live on the ‘Werq the World Tour.’ Photo courtesy Voss
show. When can we look for that? YVIE: It’s actually called “Yvie’s Odd School” and it’s already out on the World of Wonder plus app. I think we’re like four episodes deep. Go check it out. BLADE: You’ve released several singles. Would you like to establish a long-running music career? YVIE: I mean it’s something I’d never considered prior to “Drag Race” but I’ve really enjoyed exploring it so it’s definitely one of the routes I’d like to take artistically. BLADE: Had you auditioned before you got on “Drag Race”? YVIE: It was my third time. The old
third time’s the charm thing. BLADE: Who was your favorite celebrity guest judge? YVIE: Either Elvira — because she’s like everything, or Troye Sivan, because he saw my penis. BLADE: Was that on the show? I don’t remember that. YVIE: I think he said it on “Untucked.” BLADE: Hmmmm, how did that happen? You weren’t shy about parading it around. YVIE: I mean, it wasn’t a parade necessarily. I only had a certain amount
BLADE: Does he live in Denver? YVIE: That’s what makes it even harder. He moved to Boston to go to law school like right when I left for tour. I will be seeing him shortly. BLADE: Is his name out there publicly? YVIE: I mean, I’m not ashamed of him, but I don’t want to put him on blast like that. BLADE: Thanks and good luck with the tour and your other endeavors, this was fun. YVIE: Thank you darling.
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QUEERY Robbie Barnett ROBBIE BARNETT at last week’s Washington Blade 50th Anniversary Gala. Washington Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo
QUEERY: Robbie Barnett
The departing JR.’s VJ answers 20 queer questions By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM
Robbie Barnett came to Washington in 2004 to be with his then-boyfriend, who’d been transferred here with the Navy. He started hanging out at JR.’s (especially for its Monday Night Showtunes) and became friends with former manager Dave Perruzza. When one of the VJs left in 2015, Perruzza asked Barnett to give it a try. It turned out to be a perfect fit for the retro pop culture aficionado. Barnett cites Jane Russell’s solo number from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” a Dolly number from “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and Liza at Radio City Music Hall as his all-time favorite clips. Songs from “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Evita,” “Wicked,” “Rent” and “anything Disney” were the most requested, Barnett says. Barnett worked at the Blade from 2008-2010 before moving into the hospitality industry. He’s leaving a job as lead concierge with JBG Smith at an apartment complex in Crystal City to move
to Walla Walla, Wash., with C.J. Augustine, his partner of three-and-a-half years. Augustine, who already moved, is pursuing his dream of becoming a winemaker. For Barnett, who lived in 10 different places (currently in Brookland) during his D.C. years, it’s time for a change. “I will miss all the amazing friends I have made here and the vibrant theater scene, the bars and the insanely good-looking gay men who live here,” he says, “but D.C. has lost its mind with the rent prices and the traffic and congestion are unbearable. … I’m old enough to be at the point where all these things are not worth the conveniences and resources of the city.” The 37-year-old Norfolk, Va., native plans to fly away Oct. 29 with his cat, Goose, to join Augustine. Barnett enjoys classic Hollywood, scrapbooking, traveling, baking from scratch, horror movies, following Madonna and all things ‘80s in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I’ve been out since 1999 at 17 years old. The hardest person to tell was myself. Who’s your LGBTQ hero? OK, now I’m not just saying this because she is the publisher of this newspaper or because she was my boss for a while, but without a doubt, my LGBTQ hero is Lynne Brown. I watched how she tirelessly fought to get the Blade out of bankruptcy during that dark period when we worked together, shoulder to shoulder. I experienced first hand just how important preserving gay history means to her and how passionate she is about the future of our community, not to mention all she has done behind the scenes for the D.C. gay community for the past three decades. What LGBTQ stereotype most annoys you? That we are incapable of doing anything athletic. I have been known to run a block or two to catch a bus. What’s your proudest professional achievement? The first time I was published in the
Blade in 2008. I wrote a short piece on the 1939 film “The Women” in anticipation of (that horrible) remake that was coming out that year. I was so excited that I sent copies of the paper to everyone back home. What terrifies you? Outliving all my loved ones. I don’t want to be the last one left. That’s why I drink so much. What’s something trashy or vapid you love? I’m obsessed with “Dynasty,” specifically Alexis Carrington, played by Joan Collins. It’s so over the top, classy and trashy all at the same time. What’s your greatest domestic skill? I’m a pretty good party host. My goal is to make sure no one gets bored. Or maybe my goal has been to make sure I don’t get bored? Either way, I’m a good host. What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie or show? “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.” It’s so quotable and campy. Two things I love in a film.
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What’s the most overrated social custom? Clapping. Cheering. Whistling. Basically anything straight people do at a sporting event. What was your religion, if any, as a child and what is it today? Didn’t grow up with religion and I don’t practice one as an adult. What’s D.C.’s best hidden gem? Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. You’d never know you were in D.C. They have the Lotus & Water Lily Festival every summer, but great to visit any time of year. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Madonna’s Marie Antoinette-inspired performance of “Vogue” at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards. I’m still in awe 30 years later. What celebrity death hit you hardest? The double whammy of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds a day later. Still getting over that one. If you could redo one moment from your past, what would it be? Just one moment? I have a storage unit full of moments I would love to redo. If I had to pick only one, I would have made sure I was home the day my father died. He had home hospice and was dying of cancer when I was 18. I selfishly went on an out-oftown trip that day and when I came home late that night, I found out he was gone. This was before cell phones were commonplace, so my mom didn’t have a way to reach me. What are your obsessions? Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Or, depending on the day: Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Finish this sentence — It’s about damn time: … I was asked to do Queery!
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Counterclockwise from left: RICKY ROSE, one of the guests at next week’s ‘Ask Rayceen Show’ Photo courtesy Rayceen; TEGAN and SARA are here Oct. 27 Tuesday night Washington Blade file photo.
‘Slay Them’ competition returns The next Slay Them Dead Drag Competition is Friday, Nov. 1 from 9-11 p.m. at Red Bear Brewing (209 M St., NE). Everyone is welcome to sign up. Desiree Dik hosts the competition every first Friday of the month at Red Bear. Winners take home a cash prize and a chance to co-host and perform in future events. November’s event is in honor of the day of the dead. Show starts at 9 p.m. Visit redbear.beer for more information.
Big Flea is next weekend The D.C. Big Flea Antiques Market runs Nov. 2-3 at the Dulles Expo Center (4320 Chantilly Shopping Center,
Photo courtesy Sire Records;
and the High Heel Race is
Chantilly, Va.). Tickets are $10. Admission is valid the entire weekend which includes Saturday hours of 9 a.m.6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The D.C. market is a family-friendly event that has been presenting antiques and collectibles in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. For tickets and information, visit thebigfleamarket.com.
‘Rayceen’ season finale “The Ask Rayceen Show” has its eighth season finale Wednesday, Nov. 6 from 6-9 p.m. at the HRC Equality Center (1640 Rhode Island Ave., NW). Admission is free and the public is welcome to this 18-and-up event. The “titillatingly sexy” season ender includes scheduled performances by DJ Heat, Ayala, Mone, Ricky Rose and
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Tonight is the Your Voice; Our Voice Town Hall Meeting from 6-9 p.m. at the HRC (1640 Rhode Island Ave., NW). This free event is presented by the Gay Men’s Health Collaborative and gives gay/ bisexual men of color an opportunity to voice their needs to community leaders and advocates. The panel includes local community inﬂuencers, D.C. Council Members, CBO representatives and public health professionals. For more information, visit eventbrite.com. Sleater-Kinney performs at The Anthem (901 Wharf St., SW) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $37. This American rock band (both members are bi) was inﬂuence by the riot grrl movement and is a part of the indie rock scene. Tickets available at ticketmaster.com.
Saturday, Oct. 26 burlesque entertainer Brooke Jay “The Sensualist” as Oya Kayne. The event also includes erotic art, vendors, a cash bar and more. To register for this and other events, visit teamrayceen.eventbrite.com.
Out organist to perform Music director and organist Marvin Mills performs at the First Sunday Virtuoso Organists Concert Series Sunday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m., presented by D.C.’s First Baptist Church (1328 16th St., N.W). The public is invited to this free event which features renowned organists performing on the venue’s 6,000-pipe Austin organ. Mills, who’s gay, has performed nationally at The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Wolf Trap, and internationally in Krakow, Poland. For more information, visit ﬁrstbaptistdc.org.
The 2019 Walk and 5K to End HIV is today from 7:30-11:30 a.m starting in Freedom Plaza. Whitman-Walker Health and Real Talk D.C. host this fundraising event to ﬁght HIV. Proceeds beneﬁt Whitman-Walker’s community health and outreach efforts to provide culturally inclusive and accessible care to all. For more information, visit walktoendhiv.org. The D.C. Halloween Bar Crawl is today from 3-11 p.m. at Dupont Circle. Tickets start at $22.49. Cost includes drink and meal specials. All door cover charges are waived for this holiday event and led bracelets will guide participants through the crawl. Live staff will be on hand to assist as well. Participating venues and ticket information at barcrawllive.com. PT in the Park, hosted by the Mayor’s Ofﬁce of Veterans Affairs and Sarge Fitt, is today from 8-10 a.m. and includes free outdoor ﬁtness sessions in Kenilworth Park (1900 Anacostia Dr.). This event promotes Mayor Bowser’s FitDC health and wellness initiative, as well as encourages District residents to pursue a healthier lifestyle. It’s open to the public and admission is free. For tickets and information visit eventbrite.com/e/pt-inthe-park-tickets. Miss Adams Morgan 2019:
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Passport to Adventure is tonight at 6 p.m. at the Washington Hilton (1919 Connecticut Ave., N.W.). Tickets start at $85 and part of the proceeds beneﬁt local LGBT charities. Guests are encouraged to come in travel-themed costumes. For more information, visit eventbrite.com.
Tuesday, Oct. 29
The Reel Afﬁrmations ﬁlm festival screens “Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth” today from 12:30-2 p.m. at the GALA Hispanic Theatre (3333 14th St., N.W.). This U.K. ﬁlm directed by Jeanie Finlay is about a gay transgender man unprepared for the reality of carrying his own child. Tickets are $14 and available via reel-afﬁrmations.ticketleap.com. Tegan and Sara perform tonight at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.). This Canadian indie pop band is composed of identical twin (lesbian) sisters who are both songwriters and together have released numerous studio albums and EPs. Tickets start at $40.50 and are available at ticketﬂy.com.
The 33rd annual 17th St., High Heel Race is tonight from 7-10 p.m. The race is at 9. It’s free. Look for the event on Facebook for details. Pride Outside and National Geographic’s LGBTQ Staff Association host an LGBTQ history walking tour of Dupont with Dr. Brock Thompson today from 5:30-7 p.m. starting at the National Geographic Museum (1145 17th St., NW). Thompson is a historian at the Library of Congress and will share information on D.C.’s ﬁrst ofﬁcial gay pride celebration and the history of the High Heel Race. Visit Facebook events for more information. The 9:30 club (815 V St., NW) hosts Big Freedia with Low Cut Connie tonight starting at 7 p.m. Big Freedia, aka Freddie Ross (who’s gay), is the queen of New Orleans bounce music and helped popularize the once underground hip-hop genre. Low Cut Connie is a Philadelphia rock band knowledge for their high-energy live show. Tickets are $25 for this genre-bending event, and are available at ticketﬂy.com.
Monday, Oct. 28
Wednesday, Oct. 30
An Artist Panel Talk with John Paradiso, Shen Wei and Matt Storm and hosted by the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University is today from 4-5 p.m. at Gallery 102 (22nd St., N.W.). Paradiso‘s multimedia work addresses issues of identity, sexuality, health and love. Storm’s photography engages transgender and queer issues, and Wei’s intimate and poetic portraits have been exhibited internationally. More information at corcoran.gwu.edu/gallery-102. The Queer Caucus Happy Hour is tonight from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant (555 23rd St., S, Arlington, Va.). This monthly happy hour, hosted by the Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, is at a venue not far from the Crystal City metro and is open to the public. More information on Facebook Events.
The Washington National Opera presents “Otello” tonight at 7:30 p.m at the Kennedy Center Opera House (2700 F St., N.W.). Tickets start at $59. This Verdi opera based on Shakespeare’s play was last staged by WNO nearly 20 years ago. For tickets and information, visit kennedy-center.org.
Sunday, Oct. 27
Thursday, Oct. 31 Decades Horror Story is tonight starting at 10 p.m. at Decades (1219 Connecticut Ave.). The “American Horror Story” theme will ﬁll the venue’s multiple ﬂoors and will include everything from an asylum to a haunted hotel. Tickets are $10 at eventbrite.com. Thirst Trap Thursdays with host Venus Valhalla continues at Pitchers D.C. (2317 18th St., NW) starting at 11 p.m. This weekly event features cocktails and queer entertainment. Show starts at 11 p.m. sharp. Visit pitchersbardc.com for details.
Saturday, Oct. 26 The Rainbow Families Halloween Party is tonight from 5-8 p.m. at Browne Academy (5917 Telegraph Road, Alexandria, Va.) All LGBT families are invited to this kid-friendly event featuring music, games, food, costumes and more. For tickets and information, visit Rainbow families.org/events. The Annapolis Pride Halloween Party and Fundraiser is tonight from 7-11 p.m. at the Eastport Democratic Club (525 State St., Annapolis, Md.). This is its second annual event and features a costume contest, music, food, a cash bar and more. Tickets are $20 at secure.givelively.org. Jokers Gone Wild a Halloween benefit event for the Barry Smythers fund, is tonight at 9 p.m. at Soundcheck (1420 K St., N.W.). Tickets start at $25 and a portion of door proceeds benefit mental health awareness. Drag show starts at 9:30 p.m. and features Maddelynn Hatter from Dracula season three. About $2,000 in cash and prizes to be given to costume contest winners. Tickets and information at eventbrite.com.
Washington Blade photo
Countdown to Halloween
Queer-friendly Allhalllowtide events abound in D.C. and beyond By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN Night of the Living Zoo is tonight from 7-10:30 p.m. at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Ave., N.W.). Event includes a dance party, a costume competition hosted by Science on Tap, performance artists and an afterhours access to animal houses and exhibits. VIP tickets include a private dance party, private access to VIP bar and lounge, exclusive animal viewings and more. Visit nationalzoo.si.edu for tickets and information. The Swazz Queer Halloween Party is tonight at 9 p.m. at Smith Public Trust (3514 12th St., N.E.). Early bird tickets are $10, regular $15. This queer dance party features a costume contest with prizes at 12:30 a.m. a full bar serving creepy cocktails, ghostly projections and more. Visit swazzevents. com for tickets and information.
Sunday, Oct. 27 Kid Friendly Gluten-Free Halloween Baking Class is today from 10:30 a.m.-noon. At the Children’s National Medical Center Diabetes Care Complex (111 Michigan Ave., N.W.). The public is invited to a morning of holidaythemed backing. All recipes are glutenfree and peer mentors will be present to help younger children. Costumes are encouraged. For more information, visit washingtondc.eventful.com.
Tuesday, Oct. 29 Boo! Halloween is a floral design workshop hosted by Helen Olivia Floral Design (1519 Leslie Ave., Alexandria, Va.) tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. All the tools, flowers, vases and instruction will be provided to create a beautiful and relaxing holiday-themed arrangement. Tickets and information at helenoliviaflowers.com.
Wednesday, Oct. 30 Superfine! Art Fair D.C. 2019 is tonight at 8 p.m. in Union Market (1309 5th St., N.E.). Tickets start at $15 for this pre-Halloween event filled with curated performances and an opportunity to meet and connect with local artists. A chance to surround yourself in art while collecting costume ideas. Info and program available at superfine.world/discover-dc.
The Halloween Even Fun Run is tonight from 6:30-8 p.m., hosted by PR One Loudoun (20432 Exchange St., Ashburn, Va.). The public is invited to join members of the PR training program for a fun run from the store. Come dressed in your best costume. Kids and pets are welcome to join in. All levels welcome. More information available at potomacriverrunning.com.
HALLOWEEN Hall-O-Screen Party: Nightmare Before Christmas is tonight from 6-10 p.m. at The Reach at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.). No tickets are required for this free outdoor event. Beginning at 6, Dance Metro D.C.’s Becky Ferrell teaches the crowd the moves to “Thriller,” “Monster Mash,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s” “Time Warp,” and more. Film starts at 7:30. More information available at kennedy-center.org. The Haunted Disco D.C. Halloween night dance party hosted by Geek Nite Out is tonight from 8 p.m.-midnight at the Navy Yard (125 O St., N.E.). Tickets are $45 until Oct. 25 and $50 after. This pop-up dance party features two DJs on two levels, an open bar, special effects and light fare. The “midnight abduction” whisks away seven best-dressed contest winners to an undisclosed location for a complimentary hotel stay. For details visit haunteddiscodc.com. Dark and Stormy Halloween featuring DJs Kangal, Mindjacket and Shea Van Horn is tonight starting at 9 p.m. at the DC9 (1940 9th St., N.W.). This event includes a costume contest and all-night dancing to electro, synth wave, retro, goth, industrial and other dark disco classics. Doors open at 9 for this 21-and-up event. Tickets are $5. More information available at dc9.club.
Friday, Nov. 1 The Rocky Horror Picture Show 2019 is tonight from 8-10 p.m. at Georgetown University’s ICC Auditorium (3700 O St., N.W.). The school’s campus Pride hosts this throwback event featuring a student shadow cast performance and audience participation. The 1975 film is a musical multi-genre classic and the longest-running theatrical release in film history with a large international cult following. Tickets are $1.09 and available at bit.ly/gurocky19. QREW: HallowQWEEN is tonight at 10 p.m. at Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe (2477-2475 18th St., N.W.). Admission is is free before 11 p.m. to this 21-and-up event which features costumed dancing all night long. After 11, admission is $10. Tickets and information at songbyrddc.com.
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Make yo holida ur reserv y ations today !!!
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ALANNA McNAUGHTON (center) in ‘She Kills Monsters.’ Photo courtesy Ryan Maxwell Photography
Dark as a dungeon ‘She Kills Monsters’ is clever essay on grief at Rorschach By PATRICK FOLLIARD The title sounds scary. But in fact, Qui Nguyen’s play is a comedy about grief. Granted, sometimes grief can be frightening — overwhelming, enveloping and seemingly endless. But Nguyen sets a funny, stage combat-filled 1990s story against the world of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), the fantasy, role-playing table top game in which geeks become warriors. Bored with her life in Athens, Ohio, Agnes Evans yearns for a change when suddenly her entire family, including 15-year-old younger sister Tilly, is wiped out in a car crash. Fast-forward three years and Agnes, still grappling with grief, is teaching at Tilly’s high school. While cleaning out the family home, she comes across Tilly’s D&D module (essentially a notebook containing a game scenario) and with the help of a D& D player, delves into a part of her late sister’s life that she never knew. Now at Rorschach Theatre, “She Kills Monsters” is directed by Randy Baker and features Christina Day as Agnes and Alanna McNaughton as Tilly.
“I love Tilly,” says McNaughton, a queer actor who has lived in D.C. since January. “This play and Tilly have been on my radar for a while.” In the game, says McNaughton, 23, Tilly is a strong knight who carries a broad sword. And because she’s also the dungeon master, she has created a fantasy land of queer empowerment exclusively inhabited by gay characters, and a safe space to come out. Inspired by high school archetypes, the production’s costumes use elements associated with power, but reclaim them for the nerds and the queers, McNaughton says. Tilly wears spraypainted football shoulder pads stolen from a jock and is rocking a Breeders band T-shirt. While exploring Tilly’s world of D&D, straight Agnes sees a lot: After catching her younger sister making out with her demon queen girlfriend, she encounters a demon man who loves men and meets a flirty elf who insists Agnes just hasn’t met the right girl yet. Unlike Tilly, who acknowledged her burgeoning sexuality in small-town Ohio, McNaughton explored her identity in a less threatening environment. Part of a liberal family in California’s Bay Area, McNaughton sort of came out in middle school. When her mom reacted “Honey, we all love our girlfriends,” McNaughton was comforted but dissatisfied with the reply. It was while studying theater and political science at Boston University that McNaughton began to actively explore queer history, queer spaces and talk
about her identity. It’s also where she played the lead “Hamlet” in a program called Femina Shakes. “I was a broody young gal, so a character who is so caught in their own mind appealed to me,” she says. “Working with an all-female design team and all non-cis male performers was an empowering way to play the part.” Another seminal college acting experience for McNaughton, was assaying Edward/Betty in brilliant British playwright Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud Nine.” “As a queer performer, it was exciting to play both a young boy who is figuring out his identity and sexuality, and a closed-off, uptight older woman who’s trying to figure out her life,” she says. When not acting, the high energy McNaughton works in a reproductive health space in D.C. She finds both endeavors to be complementary and maintains that her day job informs the type of work she does as a performer. While “She Kills Monsters” mostly focuses on Agnes’ growth, McNaughton says it’s an opportunity to watch powerful queer characters living fulfilling, magical, adventuresome lives as humans and monsters without the burden of their whole story being about their identity. They just get to be. “It’s relatable to anyone who has ever dealt with grief, felt like an outcast or identified as a nerd. That’s a lot of Venn diagram overlaps.”
‘She Kills Monsters’ Through Nov. 10 Rorschach Theatre Atlas Performing Arts Center 1333 H St., N.E. $10-40 rorschachtheatre.com
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Amazing ‘Grace’ By BRIAN T. CARNEY
Mozart meets Maurice Sendak and a little magic.
MELVIL POUPAUD in ‘By the Grace of God.’ Photo courtesy Music Box Films
Two interesting films opening in D.C. this week deal with difficult historical issues and homosexuality in very different ways. Written and directed by gay French filmmaker François Ozon, “By the Grace of God” is a passionate and timely exploration of the ongoing clerical abuse scandal in the French Catholic Church. Based on actual events, Ozon tells the story of three survivors (and their families and allies) who band together to form a group called La Parole Libérée (“Lift the Burden of Silence”). They advocate for civil and canonical trials for the abusers and encourage other victims to come forward and tell their stories. The film is a clear condemnation of the abusers and their enablers, but it’s also a probing examination of the longterm damage caused by both the initial molestation and the subsequent cover-up by the Catholic Church. Ozon also explores how the three men begin the healing process and the mysteries of faith and spirituality. Ozon also clearly denounces the attempt to link homosexuality with pedophilia. When Cardinal Barberin casually links the two, Alexandre Guérin, one of the survivors, promptly shuts him down and tells him the two are not connected. Ozon’s supple screenplay is surprisingly elegant and efficient. He focuses on each of the three men in turn: Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud), a successful businessman and father of five who remains Catholic; François Debord (Denis Ménochet), a family man with small children who is now an atheist; and the troubled Emmanuel Thomassin (Swann Arlaud), who is unable to hold down a job or maintain a healthy relationship. As each man tells his story, Ozon uses chilling (but discreet) flashbacks to show how the charismatic Father Bernard Preynat preyed on each of the boys. Ozon also uses voiceovers throughout the movie to provide expository information and to move the sometimes complicated action along. As the characters move through the environs of Lyon, they read from their emails and letters, creating an aural web that connects them all, a highly effective technique.
Ozon’s collaboration with Director of Photography Manu Dacosse is breathtaking, capturing both the grand spectacle of the opulent churches, the chaotic energy of press briefings and the intimate conversations between the network of survivors and supporters. The opening scene is especially noteworthy. In full regalia, Cardinal Barberin crosses the terrace of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and looks out over the city of Lyon. It’s a beautiful sequence that establishes the pomp and power of the church and the deep bonds between the church and the city. The acting is superb. Each of the three leads turn in compelling performances and create strong bonds with the supporting players. Despite their involvement in the scandal, the three representatives of the Catholic Church are presented as threedimensional characters. Bernard Verley is excellent as the evil priest and François Marthouret is appropriately slick as his bureaucratic protector. Martine Erhel is fascinating as Régine Marie, the church psychologist who serves as a bridge between the abused men and the institution that allowed them to be abused. “By the Grace of God” is a powerful film by one of the most fascinating queer filmmakers working today. It’s a powerful denunciation of those implicated in the clerical abuse scandal, but it’s also a moving testament to the brave survivors and a fascinating exploration of the mysteries of faith. With the tagline “an anti-hate satire,” “Jojo Rabbit” takes a much different approach to history. Set in a small German town during the final days of World War II, the movie centers on Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (an excellent Roman Griffin Davis), a sweet but rather dim-witted 10-year-old boy who is a fervent member of the Hitler Youth. He even has an imaginary friend named Adolf, a rather goofy version of the Führer played with gleeful abandon by writer/director Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and “What We Do in the Shadows”). CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
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The Magic Flute
Photo by Cory Weaver
November 2–23 | Opera House Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder In English with Projected English Titles
Kennedy-Center.org (202) 467-4600
Major support for WNO is provided by Jacqueline Badger Mars. David M. Rubenstein is the Presenting Underwriter of WNO.
Groups call (202) 416-8400 For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540 WNO acknowledges the longstanding generosity of Life Chairman Mrs. Eugene B. Casey. WNO’s Presenting Sponsor
‘Find Me,’ the sequel to ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ will be released Oct. 29. Image courtesy Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Elio and Oliver, part II
New ‘Call Me By Your Name’ sequel takes long way around By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM
Unusually close father fixations, intense longing, the first flush of new romance that’s as scary as it is exciting, oh — and pretty much everybody here is bi. These are the major themes of “Find Me,” the sequel to “Call Me By Your Name.” Out Oct. 29, it continues the stories of the same-sex lovers Elio and Oliver that Andre Aciman introduced in his 2007 novel, memorably adapted into a 2017 movie with Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer. I’m gonna stay pretty vague here and keep this as spoiler free as possible. If you want more on setting and premise, that’s
easily available online. I went into this 100 percent blind and found the experience quite satisfying. “Call Me” director Luca Guadagino has said he’s planning a sequel of his own that would pick up a few years after the film (the book had an episodic final third not depicted in the movie) with Elio and Oliver navigating through the AIDS era. “Find Me” eschews that scenario altogether. “Find Me” (1/2 out of four) really takes its time gathering steam. I can’t necessarily say that’s a bad thing — one of “Call Me’s” biggest charms (in both book and film form) was its unusually languid pace, which so deftly captured the feel of a lazy Italian summer in which Elio and Oliver discovered each other. The pacing, though, worked much better in the earlier book as it was more suited to the timeline of the story. For Aciman to take his same good, ole’ time covering — as in the book’s first section — just a few days’ time, often feels laborious. Not helping matters is how suddenly he’ll speed things up at whim. One particular same-sex romance in the middle section of the book dubbed “Cadenza” starts off with Aciman’s trademark detail in which no thought or action is deemed too fleeting or throwaway to not share. We’re treated to passages like: “… and then he asked if he could shampoo my hair, to which I said of course he could, and while the shampoo sat on my hair after he’d rubbed it in, I heard him wash himself, only then to feel his fingers rubbing and prodding my skull time and time again.” That’s all fine and good — sensory detail can be powerful — but then just a few pages later: “Thursday that week we met again at nine at the same restaurant. Friday for lunch. And then for dinner as well. After breakfast that Saturday, he said he was going to drive to the country …” It’s such an extreme pick up of the pacing you almost feel literary whiplash. Musical motifs form the book’s four sections — Tempo, Cadenza, Capriccio and Da Capo. Told in first person, it takes awhile in each section to figure out who’s speaking and where we are. And be ready to wait. I mean, really wait. Elio is first mentioned by name on page 107; Oliver is alluded to first on page 139. We first see his name on page 233. As one plods through this leisurely pace, it’s always in the back of the mind whether or not Aciman will deliver a satisfying enough finale to have justified his long roundabouts. That’s, of course, up to each reader to decide, but I would have preferred not spending so much time in the lives and passions of new characters like Miranda (who figures heavily in Tempo, the longest section at a whopping 117 pages) and Michel, a central figure in “Cadenza.”
I was, at first, grateful to have been spared equally detailed prose about Micol, Oliver’s wife of many years, and how they ended up together. And yet, in retrospect, it would have yielded a bit more insight into Oliver, the more inscrutable of the central couple in “Call Me.” He ends up feeling like an afterthought here. Yes, we do get inside his head a bit in Capriccio and Da Capo, but it feels underdeveloped. In Cadenza, Aciman spends dozens of pages detailing Elio (a pianist) cracking a musical mystery (he’s given a handwritten score of murky origins). It’s mildly involving and ends up having some poignance, but ultimately factors — as is common with these types of red herring plot devices — way less in the grand scheme of the story than you’d think considering the attention it gets. Aciman’s biggest failure here is his inability to differentiate his characters enough as they navigate the throes and blushes of new love. Told always in first person, they narrate things like, “we were staring at each other, and yet neither of us was saying anything. I knew that if I uttered another word I would break the spell, so we sat there, silent and staring, silent and staring, as if she too did not want to lift the spell.” By the end of the book, we’ve been treated to three rounds of this sort of thing from three different perspectives but the voices aren’t distinct enough to justify such poring over these mini-moments. One might argue that’s the point — Aciman is noting how similar these mating rituals, this flirting is across the board, male or female, gay (more like bi) or straight. But he introduces, then tosses aside so cavalierly such major characters in his story while making us wait, almost masochistically, to discover the fate of Elio and Oliver, it ends up feeling more like a long trip around Robin Hood’s barn than the insightful dissection of human emotion he clearly intends it to be. In fairness, do these things ever really work? One thinks, of course, of everything from the recent “The Testaments” (the sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”) to “Go Set a Watchman” (sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird”). Are these projects ever terribly satisfying? What would that even look like in Elio and Oliver’s world? Do we want them together setting up house with a white picket fence? We’d hate him if he’d killed one of them off. What does one do with this conundrum? Aciman has made a noble effort and the book is engrossing, even at his pace, which is actually saying something. But ultimately too much time is spent on rabbit trails with the goods way too rushed over in the final section (Da Capo is a mere 13 pages) to prove effective, much less as shatteringly evocative as “Call Me.”
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A queer redux on Frankenstein
P R E S E N T S
By KATHI WOLFE
Photo courtesy Grove Press
Sex dolls for Jesus! Mary Shelley’s nipples! Disembodied hands! Monsters! These are among the many tricks and treats to be found in Jeanette Winterson’s playful new novel “Frankissstein: A Love Story.” If you’re looking for a sexy, queer, thoughtprovoking read this Halloween season, “Frankissstein” will hit your sweet spot. Winterson’s work is known for its inventiveness with language and gender ﬂuidity. Most of us would be intimidated if we met William Shakespeare or Virginia Woolf at a dinner party, but Winterson could give either a run for their money. Winterson, who is 60 and queer, was born in Manchester, U.K. She was adopted by Pentecostal Christian parents. “The trouble with a book is that you never know what’s in it till it’s too late,” Winterson’s mother told her. Today, Winterson, an Ofﬁcer of the Order of the British Empire and Professor of New Writing at the University of Manchester, is married to author Susie Orbach. Winterson’s 1985 Whitbread Prizewinning debut novel “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit” was life-changing for many. When lesbians were rarely portrayed positively in ﬁction, “Oranges” featured a lesbian coming to terms with her sexuality. “Frankissstein” isn’t as groundbreaking as “Oranges” and some of Winterson’s other novels, yet, it doesn’t disappoint: it’s timely and queer in all senses of the word — from eccentric to gender-bending. As you’d expect from Winterson, “Frankissstein,” which was longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, is an eclectic work. Through historical ﬁction and speculative ﬁction, it intertwines two stories. The ﬁrst tale in “Frankissstein” is about Marry Shelley. It’s 1816. Shelley, 18, is hanging out in the Alps with her husband the poet Percy B. Shelley, the poet Lord Byron and some of their friends and relations. Mary,
Percy and Byron compete to see who can write the best horror story. Mary wins the contest with her novel “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” (published in 1818). No, Frankenstein isn’t the monster. In “Frankenstein,” Victor Frankenstein, a scientist, becomes obsessed with the idea of creating a being that will come to life. Unfortunately, the creature comes to life with tragic results. In Winterson’s telling, Shelley has become obsessed, even in love with Victor, her creation. Few novels have had more of an impact on pop culture than “Frankenstein” — from the 1931 ﬁlm of the novel starring Boris Karloff, directed by queer ﬁlmmaker James Whale, to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” “Frankissstein” spices up the pop culture mix. “My nipples are like the teats of a rain god,” Mary Shelley says after walking naked outside in a storm. She stands up to sexism when Byron claims that the “life-spark is male.” If the only professions open to you were being a nurse or governess, Mary asks Byron, would you be a “life-spark?” Besides, she adds, “no living man has yet given birth to anything living.” The second story in “Frankissstein” is set in the present in the United Kingdom and Memphis, Tenn. There’s Ry, a trans doctor, who identiﬁes as a “hybrid.” Ry’s preferred pronoun is “they.” They are in love with Victor Stein.
‘Frankissstein: A Love Story’ By Jeanette Winterson Grove Press $27 340 pages
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An intimate showcase of music and dance featuring Potomac Fever, Rock Creek Singers, Seasons of Love, & 17th Street Dance
October 26 | 5PM | 8PM Live! at 10th & G | 945 G Street NW For tickets, call 202-293-1548 or visit GMCW.org
tickets and groups of 10 or more call 202-293-1548
Local drag legend subject of new doc By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN
+ Largest LGBT owned title company + Billions of dollars in transactions closed annually + 6 in house attorneys + Residential and commercial transactions + In home and in ofﬁce reﬁnance settlements + Licensed in DC, DE, MD, NJ, VA & WV
MUFFY BLAKE STEPHYNS says drag is just another version of theater. Photo courtesy Reel Afﬁrmations
Reel Afﬁrmations screens “Queen of the Capital” today at 5 p.m. at Gala Hispanic Theatre (3333 14th St., N.W.). This 80-minute documentary ﬁlmed by Josh Davisburg, a University Piotr Gajewski, conductor, National Philharmonic of Maryland professor and his thenstudents, Alex Glass, Alanna Delﬁno and Brandi Vincent, follows Muffy Blake Stephyns, a D.C.-based drag performer, through her year-long competition for an Imperial Court Crown. In the process both professor and students learned about the city’s colorful drag history. “There used to be house parties, and the members would come and dress up,” Davisburg, who identiﬁes as an LGBT ally, says. “It would be very glamorous.” Davisburg says early feedback he received on the ﬁlm was that he didn’t A D V E R T Icapture S I N G the P R“raunchiness” OOF of drag. But SATURDAY NOVEMBER 2 @ 8PM he learned from interviews how the AIDS ISSUE DATE: 171208 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: AT STRATHMORE MUSIC HALL epidemic changed the art. TICKETS $29–$79 REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Proof will be considered ﬁnal and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of “We lost a generation,” Stephyns (aka 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 Daniel Hays) says, adding gentriﬁcation responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users Relive the music of ABBA with ARRIVAL FROM SWEDEN as they perform the can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or IONS destroyed early drag venues and forced any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any copyright, patent, trademark, secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right,Take false advertising, unfair groups greatest hitstradeDancing Queen, Mamma Mia, a Chance, Waterloo, GO REVISIONS competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, change as well. or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the ADVERTISER SIGNATURE NS washington blade) and to hold brown naff omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) National harmless from anyPhilharmonic! and all By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contract obligations with the Fernando, Knowing MepittsKnowing You with the The cultural documentary began as liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred washington blade newspaper. This includes but is not limited to placement, by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations payment and insertion schedule. and warranties. Vincent’s class project, but Davisburg was encouraged to develop it into NATIONALPHILHARMONIC.ORG feature-length by Stephyns’ charisma, or call 301.581.5100 the Imperial Court’s charity work and the idea of introducing local commuters to Free Parking another side of Washington.
TH E M U S I C OF ABBA
“I can’t tell you how many people who work in D.C. and have seen the ﬁlm say they never knew this was there,” Davisburg says. Glass, the student director of photography, had never known this side of the city either. “This was my ﬁrst experience directly with the LGBT and drag communities,” he says. “And the shows were really different, really fun. The atmosphere was upbeat and it was really open to us. We became good friends with the performers.” Stephyns was philosophical on the issue. “Every drag character is just that, a character,” she says. “It’s theater, but it also tells a story. There’s a story about that individual that’s also being told and their connection to the community.” Though this ﬁlm has screened in Palm Springs and Atlanta and will also screen in Maryland and Virginia, Davidsburg says it’s important to screen in D.C. as well. “We knew we wanted to screen at a ﬁlm festival in D.C., so we applied to Reel Afﬁrmations and we were lucky to get accepted,” he says. “It would be nice to show it here in our hometown.” The Reel Afﬁrmations ﬁlm festival runs today through Sunday. Tickets start at $40 and are available at reel-afﬁrmations. ticketleap.com.
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Eye on Elton
Image courtesy Henry Holt
Nobody said it would be easy. You have your eyes set on something but doing it will take time, sacrifice and effort. You’ll get things right, but you’ll also get in your own way before you get to where you want to be and if you don’t believe that, then read “Me” by Elton John. On and off through most of his life, John had a tumultuous relationship with his mother. She was sometimes angry, sometimes abusive, rarely loving, but she did one important thing for him: She introduced him to Elvis Presley’s music. Though John says he’d wanted to be a musician since he was very small, the 78 RPM his “mum” brought home opened a window for a huge record collection, a passion for seeing live music and a dream of playing in a band onstage. Soon, he was gigging with regional bands and accidentally meeting people who would help his career. At 19, he was still a virgin, still naïve about being gay and rather blithe about his natural ability to write music. That was OK, though; he’d met Bernie Taupin, who wrote lyrics over breakfast and together, they’d pen hits by lunchtime. At 22, John had fallen in love with a man, was no longer a virgin and “things (professionally) were starting to move, very gradually.” Just one year later, he performed for the first time in America. Through his early career, stardom gave John a delightful platter of surprises and he seized most everything that came his way: singers he admired praised him, famous people he’d watched wanted to meet him. He later hobnobbed with royalty, both the music kind and the Buckingham Palace kind. He fell in love, married, divorced and fell into an
obsession over something that made his life so, so much harder. There is a certain aura surrounding the first third of “Me,” and it’ll charm the socks off you: author Elton John writes about his childhood, quickly, before he leaps into the bits about his early career with a sense of wide-eyed awe at what life had just handed him. If he’d said “Gee whiz!” even once, you’d understand. Alas, after the kid-in-a-candy-store naiveté evaporates and his career takes off, John’s account of his young-manhood seems jaded; he says he was “exhausted” by constant work and pressures, and the second third of his book shows that in the voice readers see. Here — in the stories of parties, recording sessions and industry goings-on — the tale starts to slip into that which plagues so many star biographies: name-dropping and seemingly unnecessary sameness. It would mar the book, were it not for the sense of droll humor that John continues to pack around his anecdotes. By the final third of this book, we get a settled John who’s clean, happier, less frenetic but still funny. Here’s where readers reach what is likely familiar, as though we’ve read this book before. But, of course, you haven’t because “Me” (also the title Katharine Hepburn chose for her memoir) is John’s first and only autobiography and enjoying it is easy.
‘Me’ By Elton John Henry Holt $30 375 pages
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Washington Blade’s 50th Anniversary Gala The Washington Blade celebrated its 50th anniversary at a gala at the Intercontinental Hotel at the Wharf on Friday. Speakers included Mayor Muriel Bowser, philanthropist Ariadne Getty and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.). Entertainment was provided by singer Frenchie Davis. Washington Blade photos by Zach Brien and Vanessa Pham
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Downsizing dilemmas Paring down clutter can be an overwhelming project for older parents By SHERRI ANNE GREEN As a first-time home buyer, you may have looked to your parents for down payment assistance, advice on what to look for in a home or as an extra sounding board during the process. As your parents get older and look to downsize their home, they may turn to you for the same support. Aging adults often need help downsizing from their current home so they can move into a more manageable home size, transition to an assisted living facility or relocate to a retirement community.When that time comes, you can return the favor your parents did for you and help them through their selling and buying experience. Trust me, they will need you. It can be very emotional for older adults to leave the home they’ve lived in for years, raised their family in and have so many memories wrapped up in. I’ve worked with numerous aging adults and parents. They have lots of questions, can get confused by the decisions to make, need questions answered more than one time and generally are overwhelmed by the financial decisions and emotional toll of selling and moving. So remember to pack your patience as you help them pack their belongings. The first step in helping your parents downsize is to identify with them how much space they will need to feel at home. Downsizing includes not only moving into a smaller space, but it can also mean parting with personal belongings that hold important memories. Organize the paring down into three piles — need, may need and give away. Usually the give away pile is easiest, so start there. As you work through the process of what
Helping older parents pare down clutter can be an arduous process. Washington Blade photo
to keep and what to give away, identify various family members or a charity that can benefit from the belongings you parents need to discard. It may help your parents let go of certain items if they know that they are going to a charity, or to assist someone they know, rather than just tossed to the side. With the paring down in progress, you need to engage a real estate agent. You will want to have an agent in place from the start to help you prepare and sell the home, as well as, purchase their next place. You should interview agents together with your parents so that you can ask the tough questions your parents may be too polite to ask. Make sure you hire an agent who has worked with people in this exact stage of life. Many agents may be eager to help, but one that has gone through this stage of life with their own family, and also with clients, can help your parents, as well as you, with the process. The sale and purchase may not be quick, your parents may need things explained more than once, showings may be tough to negotiate if they don’t want to leave the house often and other particulars can come into play, so the patience, communication style and
personality of the agent you select will be imperative to a smooth transaction on both sides. Help your parents by reading the listing agreement and the buyer broker agreement and explaining the contents along with the agent. Your reassurance that the agent is guiding them in the right direction can be very comforting. Moreover, you knowing your parents are working with someone you trust and the agent knowing that the family is supportive of the effort, are also important. When it comes time to look for a new home, go with your parents to showings. They will likely be eager to hear your thoughts and you can also make sure the agent is explaining things about the homes that are important for your parents to learn. As the home sale progresses, make sure the agent is providing regular feedback. Are there things you can do to help make your parents’ home more appealing during the showings? Can you take them to lunch during the open house events so that the buyers have freedom to look and ask questions while touring? Little things that you can assist with will go a long way to the success of their home sale.
Make sure your agent gives your parents a seller net proceeds worksheet and a buyer’s settlement cost estimate from a title company so they can feel comfortable in their decisions. It’s also helpful to have the title company run title and check on payments like taxes and water bills to ensure there is nothing outstanding that could impede a successful closing. There will be a lot of decisions to make, but with you, and a great agent by their side, the process can go smoothly.
Sherri Anne Green is an award winning REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage having earned the prestigious International Sterling Society, a Top 1000 Award from NRT, and numerous Top 100 awards. Focusing on custom, data-driven marketing and client service, Sherri Anne provides impeccable, high-touch service tailored to her client’s unique situation. She can be reached via phone or text: 202-798-1288, email: sherri. email@example.com, on Facebook or Instagram: SherriAnneGreen.
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On October 25-27, 2019, Reel Afﬁrmations Film Festival presents several days of NEW AND EXCITING international, documentary, short and feature ﬁlms from all over the world to Washington. Film Lovers Passes start at $40.00
Gala Hispanic Theatre 3333 14th Street NW Tickets and more info www.reelafﬁrmations.org
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