Washingtonblade.com, Volume 50, Issue 45, November 8, 2019

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Party retakes control, Danica Roem cruises to re-election, PAGE 09


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Danica Roem won re-election on Tuesday, part of a blue wave that hit Virginia. PAGE 09


Blade 50th Sponsors




Comings & Goings


Sasha Velour’s one-woman show


Democrats take control,


Trans Day of Remembrance is Nov. 20

Roem wins re-election in Va.


Queery: Ryan McClure

U.S. Attorney speaks out on


Arts & Culture

hate crimes in D.C.


Academic experiment

Gay candidate’s role as drag performer


Sizzling ‘Century’

surfaces in 2020 Del. race


A Stritch in time

Buttigieg has no regrets about


Coming soon in dining ...

coming out later in life


Little witch boy

Trump nominee cries over


Nats celebration at JR.’s

accusation he’s anti-LGBT


Understanding benefits available

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Demand for rights marks Chile’s political crisis


Cannabis Culture


Instagram rejects PrEP ad

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LGBTQ divorce – who gets



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Comings & Goings By PETER ROSENSTEIN

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: comingsandgoings@washblade.com. The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, SAHAND MIRAMINY or are graduating and beginning your career with a new job, let us know so we can share your success. Congratulations to Sahand Miraminy who has joined the Capital Pride Alliance as its new Director of Operations. While The Capital Pride Alliance is primarily known for the annual Parade and Festival, there’s an impressive array of other events, programs, and advocacy they spearhead throughout the year. Next year will be the 45th anniversary of Capital Pride. Upon accepting the position Miraminy said, “As a native to the area, the Capital Pride Alliance was integral to my personal journey as a gay man. I vividly remember attending my first Pride event, and the strong sense of community and belonging was overwhelming. I’m so excited to help others experience that in my new role.” Miraminy has spent the last 10 years managing events and conducting fundraising in D.C. During that time he has planned more than 1,000 special events, festivals, and programs. He has always worked with non-profits having worked for the National Trust for Historic Preservation where he planned up to 120 events, including receptions for major corporations, lectures, races, music festivals, and weddings. Actually Miraminy still is a wedding planner on the side. He has volunteered with the Fairfax County Park Authority, Smithsonian Institution, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. He calls himself a history nerd. Miraminy was born in Fairfax and grew up there until moving to D.C. after college, just a few blocks from where his grandmother’s house was when he was growing up. He said he doesn’t have a simple coming out story but “remembers a point where I didn’t really care to keep it secret anymore toward the end of high school. I’m an identical twin, so I was constantly compared to him. Getting to start over and meet new people, especially while I worked at a restaurant to get through college, was a great opportunity to just be myself.” He attended George Mason University and has a degree in anthropology and archaeology. He said “I wanted to be Indiana Jones in my past life.” I hope the readers of this column will share the following information on an exciting opportunity for aspiring LGBTQ+ journalists. $2,000 Blade Foundation Reporting Fellowship The Blade Foundation is offering a paid fellowship to an aspiring LGBTQ+ journalist in the D.C. area to begin in early 2020. Applicants must be over 18 and must either be currently enrolled in a college journalism program or have an acceptance letter to a program. The fellowship will require 15-20 hours a week with a focus on reporting and writing LGBTQ-specific stories in D.C. and Virginia. The fellowship recipient will report directly to a member of the Washington Blade’s editorial staff and will be expected to participate in weekly staff meetings. To apply send a letter of interest, resume and links to three published articles to Blade Foundation Executive Director Kevin Naff at knaff@washblade. com. The deadline to apply for the fellowship is Dec. 2, and applicants will be notified of a final decision by Dec. 20. All LGBTQ+ journalism students in the D.C. area are encouraged to apply and we especially encourage LGBTQ people of color, transgender and/ or non-binary individuals to take advantage of this opportunity. The Blade Foundation would like to give special thanks to the DC Front Runners for raising money to fund this unique opportunity.

3 gay men hospitalized after attack on P Street By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM

Three gay men were treated and released from a local hospital following a Halloween night attack on the 1400 block of P Street, N.W., in which an unidentified attacker “used homophobic language” while assaulting the men, according to a police report and a Facebook account of the incident by one of the victims. “Without provocation or warning, Suspect 1 punched Victim 1 in the head then slammed Victim 1’s head into a glass window, causing serious bodily injuries,” the D.C. police report says. “Victim 1 was knocked unconscious and needed multiple staples to his head to close the laceration,” the report says. The report classifies the incident as a suspected hate crime. In a Facebook message, one of the victims who identified himself as Timothy Luke provides an account of the incident, calling it an act of hate but saying he is uncertain whether the incident was a hate crime. He says his husband Andy was one of the others assaulted in the incident along with their friend Jeremey. Luke and Andy are among the leaders of the D.C. LGBT cheerleading group Cheer DC, according to Haley Dingerson, a spokesperson for the group “On Thursday evening, my husband Andy, our dear friend Jeremy, and myself were victims of an assault,” Luke states in his Facebook posting. “Many homosexual and derogatory slurs were stated during the attack, however, I am unable to firmly state whether this was a hate crime or just a heinous attack,” he says in his posting. “After spending many hours in the ER until early Friday morning, Jeremy and I are lucky to have walked away with minor injuries,” Luke states in his Facebook message. “However, Andy was not as fortunate. A severe concussion and 7 staples on his scalp later, I was able to bring him home.” The police report says the incident occurred between 10:10 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31 in “front” of 1435 P Street, N.W., which is the address for Number 9, one of two

gay bars located in the Logan Circle neighborhood. Neither the report nor Luke in his Facebook message provides a description of the attacker’s appearance. Luke couldn’t immediately be reached by the Blade for comment. Cheer DC spokesperson Dingerson said she would forward a message from the Blade to Luke and his husband to see if they would agree to an interview about the incident. Among the details she said she could not provide was whether the three men were entering or leaving Number 9 bar when the attack occurred. Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner John Fanning said Second District D.C. Police Commander Duncan Belione told him that one or more of the victims in the attack told detectives in a follow-up interview on Sunday that the suspect had been inside Number 9 before the incident started and a dispute may have occurred over an umbrella. Fanning said Belione indicated he or another police official would provide more details about the incident at the regularly scheduled meeting of ANC 2F on Wednesday evening. “We are aware of the incident but it’s not clear what happened yet,” said Number 9 co-owner Ed Bailey. “We are working with the police and compiling video to accurately figure out what happened,” Bailey told the Blade. In an incident in August in which a group of juvenile males assaulted and robbed a transgender woman at a gas station on Minnesota Ave., N.E. in a latenight attack, D.C. police were able to make three arrests after releasing video images of the attackers taken from a security camera at the gas station. Police listed the incident as a suspected hate crime. Although Luke did not provide any details of where the attack against him and his husband and friend occurred or a description of the attacker in his Facebook message, he said in his posting the three men were grappling over the issue of hate related violence. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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Democrats take control, Roem wins re-election in Va. Historic night as party flips assembly for first time in a generation By MICHAEL K. LAVERS MLAVERS@WASHBLADE.COM

Va. state Del. DANICA ROEM (D-Manassas) won re-election this week. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

MANASSAS, Va. — It was a historic election on Tuesday, as Democrats regained control of the Virginia General Assembly for the first time since the 1990s. Democrats gained six seats in the House of Delegates and two seats in the state Senate. The results in Virginia are widely seen as a referendum on President Trump heading into the 2020 election. All five openly LGBTQ members of the General Assembly — state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and state Dels. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria), Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax County), Danica Roem (D-Manassas) and Dawn Adams (D-Richmond) — won reelection. Roem made history as the first openly transgender state legislator to be reelected, defeating Republican challenger Kelly McGinn by a 57-43 percent margin. Roem — a former journalist who has represented the 13th District in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2018 — is the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the U.S. Roem is the first openly trans state legislator to be re-elected. Her support of the expansion of Virginia’s Medicaid program and efforts to reduce traffic congestion on Route 28 are among the issues on which she campaigned. Family Foundation Action, an anti-LGBTQ group with which McGinn has strong ties, and the Prince William County Republican Committee are among those that attacked Roem based on

her gender identity. “To the people of the 13th District: Thank you so much for the confidence you’ve shown in my team and me by such an overwhelming margin,” tweeted Roem after she won reelection. “I’m grateful to represent you because of who you are — never despite it.” Roem spoke to supporters who were attending an Election Night party at City Tavern in Manassas the Manassas and Manassas Park Cities Democratic Committee organized. “The way that we won this race was by taking care of our constituents for the last two years,” said Roem. “It was by doing what the people asked us to do.” LGBTQ activists across the country applauded Roem’s re-election. “Danica Roem has once again made history, becoming the longest-serving and first openly transgender elected official to be re-elected in our nation’s history,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a statement. LGBTQ Victory Fund President Annise Parker echoed David. “In 2017, Danica wrote the playbook on how transgender candidates can defeat anti-LGBTQ opponents through authenticity and attention to everyday issues — and her reelection victory sets it in stone,” said Parker in a press release. “Voters did not head to the polls to make history, yet they proved


trans candidates can win battleground races in battleground states despite transphobic attacks from opponents.” Daye Pope of the Trans United Fund in a fundraising appeal it sent to supporters described Roem’s re-election as “a victory for trans rights and for working people everywhere.” Roem referred to her constituents when the Washington Blade asked her at City Tavern whether she considers herself a pioneer. “The people who I represent said, ‘Yeah we know she’s trans and she’s a good legislator and she’s great at constituent service and we think that she’s doing a good job,’” she said after she spoke to her supporters. “I hope the message that sends to trans people around the country is that politics is open to you too, and not just politics but whatever you want to pursue in life it’s open to you too and people will actually respect your right to do it,” she added. Democrats celebrated across the state. “Tonight, Virginia Democrats have once again made history,” said Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker in a statement. “Starting this January, for the first time in decades, Democrats will control the House, Senate and the Governor’s Office.” Swecker’s statement did not specifically reference Gov. Ralph Northam, Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax or Attorney General Mark Herring — the state’s highest ranking elected officials — who faced calls to resign earlier this year over racist yearbook photos and sexual assault allegations. “This landmark victory is a tribute to our candidates, their commitment to the issues that matter, and the work of a strong Democratic Party of Virginia and our partners,” said Swecker. Activists have long sought a Democratic majority to spur passage of LGBTQ-specific bills that have stalled in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. They also hope to see ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and progress on more stringent gun laws and other issues. The Human Rights Campaign in August announced a “six-figure” investment in Virginia to help Democrats regain control of the state legislature. Two HRC staffers attended the Manassas and Manassas Park Cities Democratic

Committee’s Election Night party in Manassas at which Roem spoke. A press release that HRC released after Democrats regained control of the General Assembly noted the organization endorsed 27 candidates and “committed to invest” more than $250,000 “to elect pro-equality candidates across Virginia.” “Tonight’s election results send a powerful message that Virginians support a bold, progressive vision for the future of the Commonwealth,” said HRC’s David. “For far too long, anti-LGBTQ politicians have had a chokehold on Virginia’s legislative process and blocked efforts to pass statewide LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, sowing hate and division while putting the lives and livelihoods of LGBTQ Virginians at risk.” Roem told the Blade after she spoke to her supporters at the Manassas and Manassas Park Cities Democratic Committee’s Election Night party that her efforts to reduce traffic congestion on Route 28, extend Virginia Regional Express train service to Gainesville and other legislative priorities will not change with a Democratic majority in the General Assembly. Roem, however, added “it’s time for us to pass a Virginia version of the Equality Act.” “We have a mandate from the people to pass nondiscrimination (bills) that are comprehensive and inclusive of all our LGBTQ constituents,” she said. “We will be getting that done.” A Family Foundation Action late last month faced criticism over a transphobic ad that noted Roem was a co-patron of state Del. Debra Rodman (D-Henrico County)’s bill to require insurance providers to cover transitionrelated health care for trans policyholders. “The people wholeheartedly rejected that message,” Roem told the Blade, referring to the ad. “That was a direct attack and the people rejected it.” Roem did not rule out the possibility that she would introduce the trans health care bill herself in 2020. “The people want inclusive health care that covers your health care needs, no matter what your health care needs are,” she said. “These are not wants. It’s not cosmetic. These are needs and I’m going to be making sure that I’m protecting my transgender constituents and I’m going to protect their families as well.”

U.S. Attorney speaks out on hate crimes in D.C. Liu disputes claims her office isn’t adequately prosecuting hate crimes By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM

JESSIE K. LIU, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, says she disagrees with critics who say her office has failed to adequately prosecute hate crimes.

Jessie K. Liu, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, says she strongly disagrees with critics who say her office has failed to adequately prosecute hate crimes in D.C., including about half of the reported hate crimes last year in which the victims were lesbian, gay or transgender. In an Oct. 25 interview with the Washington Blade, Liu said her office has prosecuted the underlying offense, such as threats, assault, murder, or other criminal offenses, in the vast majority of hate crimes cases when her office dropped the hate crimes designation. As she has stated in recent public meetings, Liu told the Blade prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that hate was a motive for someone arrested by D.C. police for a criminal offense designated by police as a hate crime. Liu noted that D.C. police, whom she has praised for being highly trained on how to recognize a hate crime, have a lesser burden of showing “probable cause” when they make an arrest and designate the offense as a possible bias related crime. “We are prosecuting the underlying offense in the vast, vast majority of

cases that are brought to us by MPD as potential bias related crimes,” she said. “And so that’s something I think is important to understand – that this is not a situation where the police are bringing us potential bias related offenses and we’re doing nothing at all,” Liu said. “We’re doing quite a bit.” Liu spoke to the Blade two days after D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who serves as chair of the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, criticized Liu for declining to appear at an Oct. 23 committee hearing on the subject of hate crimes. Prior to the start of the hearing, Allen released a statement citing a Washington Post investigative report earlier this year that found prosecutions had declined sharply in recent years for cases with a hate crime designation. “Despite 113 arrests in biasmotivated crimes in the past two years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted only five as a hate crime, with two of those ending with a plea deal,” Allen said in his statement. “D.C.’s LGBTQ residents are being attacked because of bias and hatred against who they are, yet prosecutions using hate crime enhancements are almost non-existent,” Allen stated. “That is a very distressing message to send to victims and survivors and the broader community,” he said. During the Oct. 23 hearing, Allen criticized Liu for declining his invitation to appear at the hearing to testify on what he called her office’s “failure” to adequately prosecute hate crimes in D.C. Liu instead sent Allen and the committee a seven-page letter describing in detail her office’s procedures and policies for prosecuting hate crimes and several changes she has made to step up efforts to investigate crimes considered bias related. In a separate statement released to the press, Liu said she chose not to appear at the hearing, in part, because she believed the hearing’s title showed a bias toward her office’s handling of hate crimes cases. “What I actually said, and I can clarify that, was that I think the title of the

hearing, which was “Hate Crimes In The District Of Columbia and The Failure To Prosecute By The Office of The United States Attorney,” suggests that the Council or at least the committee had already reached a conclusion before hearing all of the facts that would be aired at the hearing,” Liu told the Blade. “In light of that, I thought the more productive thing to do was to send a letter that would provide a more full explanation of our work in this area,” she said. “My office and I remain open to talking with all of our community partners, including the Council if they would like to do that, about how we as a community can address this issue most effectively.” When asked about one of the findings of the Washington Post investigative report on D.C. hate crimes that significantly more hate crimes prosecutions were brought by the two previous D.C. U.S. Attorneys than have been brought by the office under Liu’s leadership, she said her office was looking to why that appears to be the case. “That’s something that we’re looking at,” she said. “And I don’t have a very clear answer as to why that might be,” she continued. “What I will say is that there has been a suggestion that maybe there’s been some sort of policy change within the office to not be as aggressive about pursuing bias related offenses. And that’s just not true.” Washington Blade: In your letter to D.C. Council member Charles Allen, who chairs the committee that held a hearing on Oct. 23 on concerns that your office was not adequately prosecuting hate crimes, you said you would not appear at the hearing because you thought the hearing and Council member Allen might be biased in interpreting the intentions of the U.S. Attorney. Can you elaborate on that? Jessie Liu: Well I think what I actually said, and I can clarify that, was that I think the title of the hearing, which was “Hate Crimes In The District of Columbia and The Failure To Prosecute By The Office of The United States Attorney” suggests that the Council or at least the committee had already reached a conclusion before hearing all of the facts that would be aired at the hearing.

In light of that, I thought the more productive thing to do was to send a letter that would provide a more full explanation of our work in this area. My office and I remain open to talking with all of our community partners, including the Council if they would like to do that, about how we as a community can address this issue most effectively. Blade: One of the things Councilman Allen, the chairman of the committee, said at the hearing was he received your letter and read it and acknowledged it was quite detailed. But he said that by you not being there to testify in person prevented him and others on the committee from asking you specific follow-up questions. He said one question would have been about your mentioning that some changes might be needed in the city’s hate crimes law to address possible ambiguous wording that has led to jury instructions that you have said may be bias against prosecutors. Would you be willing to answer those questions if they were to send them to you? Liu: Yeah, we would certainly take a look at anything the Council would like to send. And again, we have no problem in engaging with the Council. I think we’ve long had a very productive relationship with the Council. But the way this particular hearing was filed and the statement that there was a failure by my office in the very title of the hearing I think just doesn’t give much opportunity for a productive discussion. And so if the Council was interested in engaging productively with us of course I would love to do that. You have seen me at a number of Hate Violence Task Force meetings. You and I have had conversations at those meetings. We have had meetings with other community groups, including as I said in the letter, the ADL [AntiDefamation League] and the ANC Rainbow Caucus. And I think all of those discussions have been very, very productive. But those are situations where I think all the participants come with an open mind…and I’m happy to continue those discussions. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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Gay candidate’s role as drag performer surfaces in 2020 Del. race

ERIC MORRISON was criticized by his Democratic opponent after performing in drag at a campaign fundraiser.

A Democratic member of the Delaware House of Representatives came under fire last month for making disparaging remarks about a gay man running against him in the Democratic primary next year because his gay opponent performed in a drag show to raise money for his campaign. Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques (D-Glasgow) quickly apologized for his remarks, saying they were “insensitive, hurtful, and simply wrong.” Jaques, 72, had earlier told the Delaware News Journal he was taken aback when he learned his opponent, Eric Morrison, 45, a human resources project manager for JP Morgan Chase Bank, performed in drag at a campaign fundraiser. Morrison has said he has performed as a female impersonator for 25 years, becoming one of the first known drag performers running for a seat in a state legislature. “That’s so far off-base for our district, it’s unbelievable,” the News Journal quoted Jaques as saying in an Oct. 23 article. “You wonder what the point is. You can have fundraisers, I don’t care about that,” he told the newspaper. “But dressing in drag? Really?” According to the News Journal, Jaques, who’s considered a moderate Democrat, suggested Morrison’s involvement in drag could be at odds with several churches in the district. “I’m not sure he represents the people who attend those places of religion,” he told the newspaper. “If he’s actually having a fundraiser in drag, I don’t think those churches would endorse that…I’m just saying it’s a little different, that’s for sure.” Democratic Party leaders of the

Delaware House, including House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach), took the unusual step of criticizing fellow Democrat Jaques for his comments about Morrison, saying House Democrats have “taken great pride” in strengthening LGBT protections in Delaware, the News Journal reported. “We have spoken with Rep. Jaques and expressed our disagreement with what he said,” the House Democratic leaders disclosed in a statement. “We appreciate that he has apologized for his comments.” Jaques first won election to his seat in the legislature in 2008 in the 27th District, which is located in New Castle County. It includes part of the city of Newark. “I very much appreciate that the leaders of the Democratic House caucus reiterated their support for LGBT Delawareans,” Morrison told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “I also appreciate the representative’s apology,” he said. “But to me unfortunately, it doesn’t change his record on LGBT equality, which of course includes voting against same-sex marriage and abstaining from voting to ban conversion therapy for Delaware’s LGBT minors,” Morrison said. Morrison was referring to Jaques’ vote against a 2013 bill in the Delaware House calling for legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. The measure passed and was signed by then-Gov. Jack Markell (D). Morrison said Jaques’s decision to abstain from voting on a bill to ban conversion therapy, which seeks to change someone’s sexual orientation from gay to straight or from transgender to cisgender, for people under the age of 18 shows Jaques’s support for the LGBT community is highly questionable.


“To my mind you can go to Google and in five minutes learn that conversion therapy has been condemned by every major American pediatric, medical, psychiatric, and psychological association,” Morrison said. Morrison noted that Jaques demonstrated he is at odds with Morrison’s views as a progressive Democrat on nonLGBT issues when in 2017 he voted against a bill that would keep a woman’s right to an abortion legal in Delaware if the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the country. Gay Democratic activist and attorney Mitch Crane, who served as chair of the Sussex County, Delaware, Democratic Committee from 2013 to 2016, said Jaques voted for legislation to ban discrimination in Delaware on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. But he said he was troubled over Jaques’s votes against marriage equality and his abstention on the conversion therapy bill. “His comments on the drag issue were surprising and shocking,” Crane said in referring to the remarks about Morrison. “But he backed off quite quickly.”

Crane said the statewide LGBT group Stonewall PAC, for which he serves as vice president, will not make a decision on whom to endorse in the JaquesMorrison race until next spring. In his public apology to Morrison, Jaques acknowledged his comments were inappropriate. “It is wrong to attempt to pass judgment or impose one person’s belief structure onto others,” he said. “My job as a State Representative is to represent all constituents of the 27th District, regardless of gender, race, creed, orientation or identity, period.” Morrison said he’s prepared to respond accordingly if his role as a drag performer should come up again in the election campaign. “I would say first of all I think it’s very mainstream nowadays,” he told the Blade. “I think it’s also important to recognize that it’s a longstanding LGBT art form,” he said. A spokesperson for Jaques’s office in the state capital in Dover didn’t immediately respond to a request by the Blade for comment. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Gay College Park mayor, councilman win re-election COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Mayor Patrick Wojahn and City Councilman PJ Brennan (District 2) were reelected Tuesday by voters who resoundingly rejected anti-LGBTQ rhetoric by one of the mayoral candidates. Wojahn received 1,532 votes, defeating challengers Nikesha Pancho and Lalzarliani Malsawma by a wide margin. The result reflected voter sentiment following an October debate where residents walked out after Malsawma’s homophobic comments against Wojahn and his efforts to make the city more LGBTQ-friendly. “While those comments have been directed at the mayor, they have an impact on everyone in the city,” said Brennan during an election night interview with the Washington Blade. “And it’s been hard to process, but it’s nothing new to us. Many of us have faced discrimination.” Brennan, who has been out since he was 17, said he’s learned to combat hate speech by confronting it and not allowing people to normalize it for LGBTQ people or other marginalized communities. “One of the best ways to do it is to speak about it from the heart and withhold anger,” said Brennan. “You’re not going to change any hearts with that kind of rhetoric.” Brennan’s calm approach was embraced by a majority of College Park voters. “We find strength in our diversity,” Wojahn explained. “And the residents of College Park understand that.” Wojahn, who is originally from Wisconsin, said he and his husband Dave have made College Park their home and feel welcomed by the community. “I love this community,” he said with a smile. “It’s a great place. I love living here. My husband and I have made this our home for over 16 years now.” Wojahn pointed to the work still to do after the election. “Being a university community, we have great resources here,” he added. “Brilliant people who can be put to use to benefit the community in a deeper way. These are things I’d like to explore over the next couple of years.” PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

Buttigieg has no regrets about coming out later in life ‘You’re ready when you’re ready’ By CHRIS JOHNSON CJOHNSON@WASHBLADE.COM

Mayor PETE BUTTIGIEG invited reporters, including from the Blade, aboard his campaign bus last weekend in Iowa. Washington Blade photo by Chris Johnson

MASON CITY, Iowa — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the gay candidate beating expectations in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, said Monday he doesn’t regret coming out later in life, asserting “there’s not a lot to be gained” by rethinking the issue. “I guess my life would be very different,” Buttigieg said. “I don’t know if it’d be better or worse. You’re just — you’re ready when you’re ready. I suppose if dating had been available to me in my 20s I might not have done a lot of the other things I wound up doing. But there’s, there’s not a lot to be gained trying to rewind and guess what otherwise would have been.” Buttigieg made the comments in response to a question from the Washington Blade on his campaign bus tour over the weekend in Iowa, where reporters, including the Blade, were embedded with him. Recent polls in Iowa indicate he’s a top-tier candidate competing with Joseph Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Reporters asked Buttigieg a range of questions — both personal and policybased — in between his appearances at rallies and other events in the state. On the final day of his tour en route to a meet-andgreet event in Britt, Iowa, media outlets, including the Blade, pressed the candidate on his coming out process. One reporter opened up the questioning by asking Buttigieg if he wouldn’t be running for president if he hadn’t come out how and when he did. In June 2015, Buttigieg — at the age of 33 — came out as gay in an essay for the South Bend Tribune titled “Why Coming Out

Matters” a few months before he was up for re-election as mayor. “It’s hard for me to kind of picture alternate universes,” Buttigieg replied. “But I’m running for president because of what is needed right now, and that’s mainly about vision. And if I saw another candidate offering what I was offering, I would probably be following that, not leading. But I don’t know that that would be different if I weren’t gay. You know my story is part of me, and it’s all part of the same person — and therefore part of the same picture — but where I think America needs to go isn’t about me, it’s about America.” The Blade followed up on that question by asking Buttigieg about whether he missed an opportunity to impact LGBT acceptance in Indiana by waiting to come out until later. After all, just months before Buttigieg’s essay was published, Indiana was ground zero in the LGBT rights movements. Then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act that enabled sweeping antiLGBT discrimination in the state. As the Blade pointed out, Pence signed the law in April 2015, then was forced to sign a “fix” to the measure in May 2015 amid a media frenzy and widespread condemnation from the business community and LGBT rights supporters. Although Buttigieg kept quiet about his sexual orientation until one month after Pence signed the “fix,” the candidate said he “didn’t miss any opportunity to make an impact.” “I was one of the leading voices to push back on it,” Buttigieg said. “I don’t know what would have happened if I had come out in the middle of that, but I’m guessing it

would have been more about me and less about why the policy was terrible.” Buttigieg added his advocacy against the law was more effective in his capacity as mayor of South Bend as opposed to a newly out gay man. The decision on coming out, Buttigieg said, was personal and unrelated to making any kind of impact on public policy. “I reached this very personal decision,” Buttigieg said. “And frankly kind of resented the fact that it was going to have to be, you know, it would have anything to do with politics in the outside world, but I was also realistic about the fact that I was in a visible, leadership elected position.” In making the decision to come out a few months before his re-election, Buttigieg said he had to think about whether it would imperil his position as mayor and his platform to speak, “especially when I found myself as a leading Indiana elected voice against Pence’s anti-LGBT law.” (Despite Buttigieg’s assertion he was a leading voice against the law, a report in the Associated Press concluded he hedged that criticism with efforts to collaborate with Pence in his capacity as governor. At the time, Buttigieg was critical of state lawmakers over the religious freedom law and tweeted he was “disappointed” with Pence, but several weeks later attended a Pence event in South Bend.) Nonetheless, Buttigieg has been a favorite in the LGBT community, which has helped propel him to become the first openly gay candidate being taken seriously in a presidential race. Gay donors excited to see Buttigieg succeed are a significant contribution to the impressive fundraising numbers regularly posted by his campaign. Buttigieg, asked by a reporter on the campaign bus how his decision to come out helped his political career, said he would leave it to analysts to talk about the impact, but said it has helped him empathize with other communities. “You don’t have to think you’ve been in somebody’s shoes, you don’t have to pretend there’s an equivalency between what you’ve been though and what somebody else has been through to tap into, and what somebody else has been through to tap into your own story to relate,

or as propulsion to support somebody,” Buttigieg said. “And I suppose being gay is not the only way I felt that, but it’s the most powerful.” Given Buttigieg came out at the age of 33, when other LGBT people — even his own age — had come out earlier and made contributions to the LGBT movement, the Blade asked the candidate whether he thinks he’d bring the experience of activists who had fought for LGBT rights to the White House. “Everyone’s experience is different, right?” Buttigieg replied. “So, what I will say is that if I’m elected president, it would be a new thing in America, and it’ll be a step in America’s LGBTQ experience. Again, even within the LGBTQ community, there’s so much diversity. It’s not like I know anything personally about what it’s like to be a trans woman of color, other than, again, I think I have a reserve of empathy I can tap into.” When another reporter asked about Iowa voters who say they’re unconcerned with his sexual orientation, but think it may be an impediment to others, Buttigieg said “way too many layers of convolution get added on to these things.” “You got to vote for the person who you think is going to make the best president, and my job is to explain why I’d be the best president,” Buttigieg said. Buttigieg said voters should focus on candidates with whom they connect “instead of psyching ourselves out trying to get ourselves into the hands of people that are different from us and guess how they might vote.” “If something moves you, or inspires you, that’s the best evidence that’s going to move or inspire someone else,” Buttigieg said. Pressed on the issue, Buttigieg brought up similar concerns made years ago about whether Barack Obama would be successful as a black candidate running for the White House. “I remember a lot of conversation from folks in ’07,” Buttigieg said. “Folks would say, ‘I’m ready, I’m ready for sure for a historic president, but I’m just not sure the world is.’” CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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Trump nominee cries over accusation he’s anti-LGBT Judicial pick VanDyke bursts into tears during hearing

NIH launches $100 million effort to cure HIV, sickle cell Advances in gene editing tech provide hope for ‘single injection’ cure By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM


Trump anti-LGBT judicial nominee LAWRENCE VANDYKE cries over assertion he’s anti-LGBT. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

Two of President Trump’s choices for the judiciary — one gay, the other with an anti-gay record — faced questions during their confirmation hearing last week about their fitness for the bench, which led one to break down in tears over assertions he harbors animus toward LGBT people. Lawrence VanDyke, one of two nominees Trump has selected for open seats on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, was unable to speak and visibly crying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to the American Bar Association’s conclusion he wouldn’t be fair to LGBT people as a judge. “No, I did not say that,” VanDyke said through tears under questioning from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). “I do not believe that.” “It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God,” VanDyke said. “They should all be treated with dignity and respect, Senator.” Asked by Hawley to confirm he’d treat “every living entity” who came before him as a judge with respect and dignity, VanDyke replied, “Absolutely, Senator.” “I would not have allowed myself to have been nominated for this position if I did not think I could do that, including members of the LGBT community and any other community that has been historically disadvantaged in this country,” VanDyke said. VanDyke’s public emotional display comes one day after ABA, which evaluates whether judicial nominees are fit for the federal court, went public with a scathing letter that determined he was “not qualified” based on his temperament and animus toward LGBT people. “Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules,” the letter says. “There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.” CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

The National Institutes of Health announced on Oct. 23 it is launching a $100 million initiative over the next four years to fund research to develop genebased cures for HIV and sickle cell disease. The NIH announcement says the initiative will work in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which will also invest $100 million toward gene research for an HIV and sickle cell disease cure. “Dramatic advances in genetics over the last decade have made effective genebased treatments a reality, including new treatments for blindness and certain types of leukemia,” an NIH statement says. “The collaboration between the NIH and the Gates Foundation sets out a bold goal of advancing safe, effective and durable gene-based cures to clinical trials in the United States and relevant countries in sub-Saharan Africa within the next seven to ten years,” the statement says. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, which is an arm of NIH, told the Blade the new initiative is aimed at taking gene research to a new level that has yet to be developed. According to Fauci, the goal is to develop a means of genetically altering disease fighting cells in the body to enable them to protect against HIV through a single injection. He noted that the current line of research, which is nearing the stage of clinical trials on humans, involves withdrawing blood from the body, extracting disease fighting T-cells from the blood in a laboratory, genetically changing the cells to enable them to successfully kill HIV and prevent someone from being infected, and then to “reinfuse” the altered cells back into the person’s body. This is a highly expensive process that requires hospitalization, Fauci said, making it difficult to put in place for the large number of people who need it, especially populations in developing countries in Africa. “We’re talking about something that is highly aspirational with an extremely high reward,” he said. “That is to develop a

delivery system that you can essentially with one injection give it to a person and have that delivery system bring the appropriate gene editing tools to whatever cells you want to bring them to,” he said. Fauci said this system, if it can be technologically achieved, would provide a genetic cure for HIV that could become available on a massive scale in the U.S. and developing countries throughout the world. “Whether or not we’re going to succeed, we don’t know,” he said. “But we’re going to try.” He said the combined $200 million from NIH and the Gates Foundation would be made available to qualified independent researchers or researchers affiliated with universities or with private companies working on gene editing technology. One such company, American Gene Technologies of Rockville, Md., has developed a gene editing process for a possible HIV cure that it believes is ready for human testing. In an announcement last month, the company said it has submitted an Investigational New Drug document, or IND, to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to obtain final approval for clinical trials on humans. The company’s gene editing process involves extracting cells from the body, genetically editing the cells in a laboratory, and reinfusing them into the person’s body. Although this requires a hospital or clinic visit and isn’t the more advanced process that Fauci says NIH is now working toward, if successful, it would be the firstever full cure for HIV through gene therapy. “We are pleased to see the scientific community backing a strategy American Gene Technologies has been pursuing for many years,” said AGT spokesperson Norman Rogers. “Like the NIH, we believe a cure deliverable to developing nations is a critical goal, especially in the landscape of gene and cell therapy where the efficiencies are more than doubling every year as the costs halve,” he said. “In that environment, anything is possible.”

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Demand for rights marks Chile’s political crisis

Congresswoman NATALIA CASTILLO has become known for defending and promoting the rights of sexually and gender diverse Chileans since she took office. Courtesy photo

CONCEPCIÓN, Chile — In less than three days a protest organized by students against the increase in subway fares turned into an imposing and unexpected national protest over years of inequalities in Chile that completely paralyzed the country and put the entire Chilean political class on notice. Millions of people have taken to the streets over the last few days to demonstrate their discontent. Some of the massive marches have nevertheless ended with protesters attacking businesses, torching and looting supermarkets in the worst unrest the country has seen in decades. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera declared a state of emergency, deployed soldiers to the streets and imposed a curfew that deepened the conflict by unleashing the worst cases of human rights violations in the last 30 years in the Latin American country. A group of lawmakers have announced a constitutional complaint against Piñera. “These weeks have been a time bomb that we all knew was going to explode, but we did not know that it would explode now and with such intensity,” said Alessia Injoque, executive president of Fundación Iguales, a Chilean LGBTQ organization. Franco Fuica, legislation and public policy coordinator of Organizando Trans Diversidades (OTD), a trans advocacy group, has a similar opinion. “We are living a social revolution,” he affirmed. The crisis in Chile has been brewing for a long time. Dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1973 staged a coup to topple Salvador Allende, Latin America’s first democratically elected Socialist president. Pinochet reversed Allende’s model and began to implement a diametrically opposed economic formula. The country became a sort of neoliberal laboratory and a cruel dictatorship that persecuted, tortured and killed its opponents. A group of liberal economists who were educated at the University of Chicago, where they learned the ideas of Americans Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger, who were known as the “Chicago boys,” led Pinochet’s economic changes. They implemented economic and social reforms that privatized everything, and were enshrined in Chile’s 1980 constitution that remains in place. A report the U.N. Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) published in January that analyzed the evolution of poverty, spending and social inclusion revealed Chile continues to maintain its high rates of inequality. “One percent of the population holds 26.5 percent of wealth,” the investigation concludes. “We have been in an unfair system for years, where everything is done to ensure the same people always win. Beyond that injustice, there was impunity where nothing happened to people who caused a lot of damage that runs from pain to frustration. The government was indolent and everything came to a head,” said Injoque. The trans activist said they were truly afraid. “I had chills when I found out that soldiers were out on the streets,” they said. “Piñera declared war against my grandchildren on national television, deployed the army to shoot and kill them for peacefully protesting (against) their enormous suffering and the people realize there is complicity there and I hear another loud clamor: ‘Resign Piñera,’” Pamela Jiles of the Frente Amplio, a new political force in the Chilean Congress who has lead the impeachment movement, told the Blade. ESTEBAN GUZMAN

ESTANISLAO FERNÀNDEZ at Buenos Aires Pride Photo: @dyhzy | Instagram

Drag queen son of Argentine president does Pride Among the hundreds of thousands who took part in Buenos Aires Pride last Saturday was the drag queen son of Argentina’s new President-elect. In Argentina’s elections last week, a coalition led by Alberto Fernàndez took power. Fernàndez, who will be sworn in on Dec. 10, has spoken in support of LGBT rights and has also praised his 24-year-old son, Estanislao Fernàndez, who is a drag queen and cos-player with a large social media following. Estanislao posted a message to his Instagram as he rode upon one of the 30 floats at the Pride festival. Translated into English, it read: “Today we send a message of love and acceptance from Buenos Aires to the world. The most important day of the year arrived, the one in which we remember with affection and pride all those who fell so that we can be free and happy. It’s also a day to celebrate and celebrate being proud of being who we are but also a day of claims, we have advanced a lot as a society and we are on a very good path, but until discrimination, violence, hatred and impunity against us cease to exist, the claims continue.” As for Estanislao’s father, his new government is being welcomed by many in the LGBTQ community, and the new President tweeted a message of support for Pride on Saturday. “We are going to build an Argentina with more rights, in which love and equality reign. We are going to build an Argentina for everyone, everyone, and everyone.” This was Buenos Aires’ 28th annual


Pride parade. Organizers of Saturday’s event estimated around 300,000 took to the streets – a far cry from the crowd of about 300 people that took part in the first event in 1992. JOHN PAUL KING

German lawmakers to consider conversion therapy ban A German lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy for minors in his country. Reuters reported the measure that German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is gay, introduced would punish anyone who carries “out conversion therapy on under-18s, or coercing, deceiving or threatening anyone older into such treatment” with up to a year in prison. Anyone who advertises or offers the widely discredited practice would be fined 30,000 euros ($33,383.70) if the bill were to become law. “Homosexuality is not a disease,” Spahn told Reuters in a statement. “Therefore, even the term therapy is misleading.” “This supposed therapy makes you sick and not healthy,” added Spahn. “And a ban is also an important social signal to anyone who struggles with their homosexuality: you are okay the way you are.” The World Psychiatric Association is among the organizations that have publicly condemned conversion therapy. Several U.S. jurisdictions have banned conversion therapy for minors, including D.C. A federal judge in September dismissed a lawsuit that challenges Maryland’s law that prohibits the widely discredited practice. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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More than 1,600 injuries, including 34 deaths, have now been linked to vaping, according to the CDC. Photo by Licsiren; courtesy of Bigstock

1,600 lung injuries linked to vaping: CDC Updated data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has identified a total of 1,604 incidents of lung injury related to the use of portable vaping cartridge products, including 34 deaths. A specific cause of the illness remains unknown, though some experts have speculated that the injuries may be related to additive ingredients in the e-liquid products, such as Vitamin E oil, or the presence of a specific metal-binding agent in certain types of portable cartridges. The agency states that the overwhelming majority of products associated with the illness were obtained via the unregulated “informal” market. The CDC’s latest advisory concludes: “To date, no single compound or ingredient has emerged as the cause of EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury), and there might be more than one cause. Because most patients report using THC-containing products before the onset of symptoms, CDC recommends that persons should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC. Persons should not buy any type of e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC, off the street and should not modify or add any substances to e-cigarette, or vaping, products that are not intended by the manufacturer, including products purchased through retail establishments. In addition, because the specific compound or ingredient causing lung injury is not yet known, and while the investigation continues, persons should consider refraining from use of all e-cigarette, or vaping, products.”

Patients report cannabis offers relief for spinal cord injury symptoms PHILADELPHIA —Many spinal cord injury (SCI) patients with a history of cannabis use say that it provides them “great relief,”

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according to data published in the journal Spinal Cord Series and Cases. A team of investigators affiliated with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia assessed cannabis utilization and attitudes in a national sample of patients with SCI. Forty-two percent of respondents reported being either past users or current users of medical cannabis. Among them, 63 percent reported that cannabis offers “great relief” from symptoms – including the alleviation of pain and spasticity – while 30 percent reported that it provided more limited relief. Only six percent said that cannabis provided no relief from SCI symptoms. A majority of respondents also said that medical cannabis was more effective than prescription medications in treating their condition and that it possesses fewer adverse side effects. Authors concluded: “Our findings support the notion that MC (medical cannabis) may have an important role – either as adjuvant therapy or as monotherapy – in treating a number of common symptoms experienced by individuals living with SCI. There is certainly a need for expedited clinical trials evaluating efficacy of MC in chronic SCI, and no justification for cannabis’ continued classification as a Schedule 1 drug, a designation indicating that it has no accepted medical use.”

6 in 10 physicians say cannabis a ‘legitimate medical therapy’ ROCHESTER, Minn. — Nearly six in 10 primary care physicians believe that medical cannabis is a “legitimate” therapeutic option, according to survey data published in the journal BMC Family Practice. Investigators with the Mayo Clinic surveyed the attitudes of primary care providers in a large Minnesota-based health care system. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “medical cannabis was a legitimate medical therapy.” That finding is consistent with both national and state-specific surveys similarly showing that most doctors are supportive of medical cannabis access. Nonetheless, half of respondents expressed discomfort in talking to their patients about medical cannabis options, a finding that is also consistent with prior data. Many expressed a desire to receive additional education about cannabis in order to become better versed in the subject. Authors concluded: “Providers generally believe that medical cannabis is a legitimate medical therapy. Significant opportunities exist to: 1) close knowledge gaps for clinicians through the collection and dissemination of information about the effectiveness of medical cannabis for state qualifying conditions; 2) alleviate concerns about drug interactions by exploring opportunities for information sharing between dispensaries and traditional medical practices; and 3) expand the knowledge base about how medical cannabis impacts patient QOL (quality of life).” Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml,org.

Instagram rejects PrEP ad NEW YORK — Instagram rejected a PrEP ad from Apicha Community Health Center, an LGBT primary care center in New York, on the grounds that it was “too political,” VICE reports. The center was told it “hadn’t been authorized to run ads about social issues, elections or politics,” they told VICE. “They said the copy was the problem but were unable to tell us what part of the copy was too political,” said Phillip Miner, Apicha’s director of grants and communications, in a phone interview with VICE on Friday morning. “It’s incredibly frustrating to encounter these sort of road blocks.” Instagram did not respond to VICE’s request for comment. It’s happened before but health workers have been able to work through the pushback. Twitter initially rejected the center’s PrEP Aware campaign for such reasons, though Apicha CHC was able to successfully appeal the rejection, VICE reports. “Upon further review, we’ve determined that the ad is in compliance [with our Adult Sexual Content policy] and have allowed it to run,” a spokesperson for Twitter told VICE in an email. That’s how this process usually goes, according to Miner. Apicha CHC submits a campaign, and it gets rejected for being “too sexual.” (“It’s very hard to talk about sex without talking about sex,” Miner noted.) The center then appeals that rejection, and the campaign goes through. It has never had a campaign rejected on the grounds of it being political, VICE reports.

Philly LGBT center offers trans leave PHILADELPHIA — In what could be a first for health-care workers in Pennsylvania, a new contract for employees of Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center (an LGBT health center) guarantees full- and part-time employees a minimum two weeks of paid leave for any gender-affirming surgery and ensures further paid time off as medically necessary. Prior to the contract, Mazzoni employees, a quarter of whom are trans or gender nonconforming, would have used sick days or vacation time, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “Trans workers have different life

milestones and can’t often access (genderaffirming surgeries) until adulthood,” said Morgan Haven-Tietze, a 33-yearold care coordinator who lives in South Philadelphia, to the Inquirer. “We really wanted folks who reach those milestones to be celebrated in the workplace, too.” The benefit will serve not only Mazzoni employees, but could be model language for future negotiations, said Matt Yarnell, president of Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pa., the state’s largest union of health-care workers, the Inquirer reports. He said explicit paid time off for genderaffirming surgeries is to his knowledge the first of its kind in the state.

Texas youth case ignites trans debate THOROFARE, N.J. — A Texas court case involving a custody dispute over a young child who may identify as transgender has ignited a national debate about the appropriate course of pediatric treatment, with the state’s governor calling for an investigation into the case and one legislator proposing a bill that would prohibit the use of pubertal blockers for minors, Healio reports. The talk of proposed legislation — along with misinformation about genderaffirming care quickly spreading on blogs and social media — has sparked an outcry from the pediatric endocrinology community, with many experts expressing dismay about talk of pediatric treatments that go against all standards of care and practice guidelines, Healio reports. “I remain completely baffled by attempts to take something that is purely medical and treat it as if there is any political element to it at all,” Joshua D. Safer, MD, medical director of the Center for Transgender Surgery and Medicine at the Mount Sinai Health System, told Endocrine Today. “The key approach to gender-expansive children who might be transgender is to follow their lead in terms of how they want to present and dress. There are no medical treatments for children before puberty of any sort and there are no surgeries.” In a clinical practice guideline published in 2017 by the Endocrine Society, researchers recommend avoiding hormone therapy for transgender children prior to puberty. The guideline states that any decisions regarding the social transition of prepubertal youths with gender incongruence should be made with the assistance of a mental health provider or another experienced professional, Healio reports.

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


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



is a longtime AIDS activist and writer whose most recent books are ‘The God in Time’ and ‘Shakespeare’s Identities.’


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


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

Edie Windsor’s ‘Wild and Precious Life’ Smoking hot memoir celebrates queer icon’s life “Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?” queer poet Mary Oliver wrote in her poem “The Summer Day.” “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?” More than half of LGBTQ people in the United States can be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Then there’s the increase of anti-queer hate crimes and the Trump administration push for “religious freedom.” If you’re queer, it can feel scary or hopeless to make plans for your life. Sometimes, like the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz,” you need some courage and hope. A new posthumous memoir, “A Wild and Precious Life” by gay rights icon Edith (a.k.a. Edie) Windsor with journalist Joshua Lyon, has arrived just in time. Windsor, who died at age 88 in 2017, wasn’t cowed by fear or despair. She did more with her life than most of us would do if we had 10 lives. Often, our icons are venerable, heroic, historic gods, but, not quite human. And their memoirs are often worthy, but dull. This isn’t the case with Windsor or her memoir. “A Wild and Precious Life,” her illuminating, smoking hot memoir, brings the renowned LGBTQ activist vividly to life. Reading it, we’re not only with Windsor as she stands on the steps of the Supreme Court after its historic United States v. Windsor ruling. It gets up close and personal when she picks up lovers in bars and counts cards in casinos. Lyon worked with Windsor to compile and craft the memoir. After her death (she died before the work was finished), he added to the “memoir/biography hybrid.” Lyon contributes much to the volume – from information about queer history to insights about Windsor gleamed from interviews with her family and friends. Windsor’s heroic role in the struggle for marriage equality can never be

overstated. In 1963, Windsor fell in love with psychologist Thea Spyer. The couple were together until Spyer, who had multiple sclerosis, died in 2009. In 1996, former President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. This infamous law (for which Clinton later apologized) defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman. In 2007, Spyer and Windsor married in Canada. But, Windsor had to pay $363,053 in inheritance taxes because the U.S. government didn’t recognize their marriage. Windsor successfully sued the U.S. government. It’s hard to imagine anyone in the queer community who hasn’t felt the impact of DOMA being struck down. In the preface to “A Wild and Precious Love,” Lyon speaks for many of us who are thankful for what Windsor did for marriage equality. One day, Windsor interviewed him to see if she wanted to work with him on her memoir. The day of the meeting, “happened to be the eighth anniversary of the day I’d met my husband,” Lyon writes, “so I went in with the attitude that even if I didn’t get hired, I was lucky to get a chance to thank the woman who made our marriage possible.” “A Wild and Precious Life” is funny and frank about Windsor. She loved to sing Judy Garland songs and adored the color pink. So much that she decorated the bedroom she shared with Spyer completely in pink from the walls to the sheets on the bed. Windsor “drove like a maniac,” Judith Kasen-Windsor, who married Windsor in 2016, told Lyon, “she said stop lights were just a suggestion.” Windsor’s bravery, commitment to queer activism and love of life shine through her “A Wild and Precious Life.” “Don’t postpone joy!” was her motto. In our time, LGBTQ advocacy and joy are needed as never before. Let’s do all we can to carry on Windsor’s legacy.


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

Democrats’ conundrum: Change our system or elect a president Democrats may be facing a difficult conundrum — either vote for a candidate who will try to change the way our nation functions or one who can beat Trump. The debate within the party is whether we can do both at the same time. I don’t know the answer but lean toward thinking we can’t do both. It seems most Democrats want to nominate the person with the best chance of defeating Donald Trump and help to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. The question is whether that is a left-leaning candidate or a moderate. It is clearly not a candidate who can win only on the West Coast and upper East Coast, but rather someone who can also motivate people to vote for them in the upper Midwest and Pennsylvania. We have seen in 2000 and again in 2016 winning the popular vote by 500,000 or even three million doesn’t mean squat if those votes aren’t in the right places. The Electoral College, as antiquated as it is, is here to stay. Democrats began this primary season with a plethora of great candidates many now falling by the wayside leaving us with difficult choices. Some in the party think we need someone new to jump into the race; I don’t. Warren and Sanders are on the far left of the spectrum proposing ideas that will be called big government by Republicans. Each of their ideas costs incredible amounts of money and their solution is to tax the rich to pay for them — Medicare-for-all; the government relieving or paying of student loans for everyone; free college; and more. Warren introduced a nearly trillion dollar education program ending support for charter schools and beefing up the public schools including paying teachers higher salaries. All interesting ideas. She now suggests a 6 percent wealth tax on billionaires and a 2 percent one on those having between $50 million and a billion to pay for them and her Medicare-for-all plan. Remember this would have to go through Congress and the chance of that

happening is zero. So it will be important to know how she would frame all these programs in a general election. Sanders wants to pay for his programs by including tax increases on the middle class. How does he convince people in the long run they will save money? Hard to imagine Congress going along with that, even a Democratic Congress. Again who knows? But the fact is these massive government programs will be hard to sell in areas Democrats need to win the White House. Then there are the moderates: Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and more recently as he reads the polls and seems to moderate positions, Pete Buttigieg. Biden is having a hard time remembering some facts and clearly showing his age. Klobuchar has had a hard time connecting with primary voters and Buttigieg is young and while doing well in Iowa and collecting lots of money from the LGBTQ and elitist white communities in big cities has yet to reach 1 percent of support with African-American and Latinos voters. Without them he can’t win the primary, never mind the general election. Then there is Kamala Harris. She began her campaign with great hope and great support but instead of gaining it seems she is losing the support she had. Maybe one reason is her pragmatism. She began thinking she would run as a far-left progressive and soon realized she couldn’t compete in that lane with Warren and Sanders. She is now trying to recalibrate and become the candidate bridging the gap between moderates and the left. So it’s back to the essence of my initial premise, which is can a far-left candidate who proposes dramatically changing the way our country functions win the presidency? That may depend on two things: how much crazier Trump becomes and what the economic picture looks like in June of 2020. We just might have to go with the slogan “Dump Trump! Vote Democratic to bring sanity back to the White House and stability back to our world.”

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JAMES DRISCOLL is a longtime AIDS activist and writer whose most recent books are ‘The God in Time’ and ‘Shakespeare’s Identities.’

The most insidious virus: stigma If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. —Leviticus 20:13 Stigma did not create AIDS. Yet it prepared the way and speeded its ravaging course through America and the world. First stigma delayed understanding of the disease: it’s a gay cancer, it’s a punishment from God, they brought it on themselves, so who cares? Then stigma delayed government action, research, and assistance for the sick and dying. Stigma made people afraid to get tested for HIV and treated. Stigma made people ashamed, isolating and alienating them from friends and family. Stigma cost people jobs, professional standing, housing, a seat on an airplane or in a dentist’s chair. Stigma made many afraid to live, and want to die. But then it began to make some brave people very angry and AIDS activism was born. The activists quickly realized that to end AIDS we must end stigma. AIDS activism did more to fight the stigma on being gay or having AIDS than any other social force. In this way, AIDS activism, like the civil rights movement, became a great moral movement of our time, defending the innocent, restoring dignity to the violated, giving hope to the desperate, and reviving faith in the disillusioned. AIDS activism gave LGBT people courage, dignity, and power they had never held before. It inspired many to stand up and proudly proclaim who they are and who they love. Twenty-six of the world’s most advanced countries now recognize gay marriage, in 2017 France elected a gay man President, and today a gay man openly married to another man is a prominent candidate for President of the United States. Gays be damned, earlier this year Karen Pence, wife of the current vice president of the United States, took a teaching job at a school that stigmatizes and discriminates against LGBT people grounding their policies on the afore cited merciless scripture. Of the 31,102 verses in the Bible, Pence’s Immanuel School chose to follow that one! Did the Pences ever ask what text Jesus would have chosen to guide policies toward gay people? The

focus on the hate-filled verse is telling in light of the little known fact that Karen Pence has been divorced. Jesus in the New Testament repeatedly condemns divorce, but never mentions homosexuality. Ignoring the warning about those who live in glass houses, the Pences have pushed gay “conversion therapy,” an atrocity from the inquisition, and they dine brazenly on the full menu of homophobia. Yet many LGBT Republicans give the Pences a pass. Of course LGBT Democrats are no better when they defend proponents of Sharia law within the Democratic party. Stigma is everywhere promoted in the name of religion. The right to stigmatize LGBT people, spread lies and hatred against us, and fill LGBT children with guilt and shame is defended as an expression of “religious freedom” just as slavery, segregation, Apartheid, and antiSemitism were all defended in the name of obedience to God and the Bible. The largest US Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Church once used the curse of Cain to justify slavery. Not till 1995 did this church apologize for its shameful record on slavery and racism. Among the many costs of continued stigmatizing of LGBTs is a suicide rate among our people under age 30 of 4+ times the rate in the general population. That equates to more than 1,000 excess lives lost to bias and stigma each year. Opponents to stigmatizing LGBTs do so on sound ethical principles. Their grounds for opposing stigma is not an odd verse in an otherwise disregarded section of the Old Testament. It is the very core of Jesus’s message and of the Judeo-Christian ethic: “And as you would that men do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31) Who wants to suffer discrimination, who likes to be stigmatized? No one! The Trump administration has a plan “to end AIDS” that increases HIV testing and PrEP availability. At the same time Trump allows Mike Pence to fill HHS with sectarians, like himself and Karen, who promote stigma and believe LGBTs should be treated in the spirit of Leviticus 20:13.

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

D.C. battle looms on spending, taxes The warning signs were evident last month when enterprise leaders, economic analysts, and a previous city mayor and the current D.C. Council chair gathered at the University of the District of Columbia to assess the state of the local and regional economies. While the D.C. economy is stable and remains a strong employment center in the region, the city is struggling to retain the small and moderate size businesses generated during recent boom years. In a special report released at the event, the D.C. Policy Center indicated the city experienced a net loss of 1,486 businesses and nearly 64,000 jobs in the most recent 15-year period through 2015 for which data is available. The District has been losing more businesses than new ones created, despite gaining more than 5,000 new companies at a 15 percent growth rate over nearly a decade from 2010 through 2018. Jobs and businesses have become an export commodity migrating to surrounding jurisdictions, and the longnotorious unfriendly entrepreneurial environment is a leading factor continuing to propel that exodus. Former Mayor Anthony Williams, who guided D.C. out of its busted-broke period from the mid-90s and federal control until the end of 2001, was quoted in media reports as offering a succinct summary by saying, “If you’re a small business looking to do business, you’re going to look at where the most onerous regulations are.” Now serving as CEO of the non-profit Federal City Council, Williams noted that businesses “have to look at regulations and how they’re piling up.” The conference report underscored that reality, with D.C. businesses identifying local policies as the primary culprit. The unpredictability of business conditions due to ever-shifting and more onerous city government regulations, mandates, and rules was cited, along with the District’s heavy business tax burden at the top of the region and among the worst in the nation. Cumbersome and inefficient business

licensing and permitting protocols also remain a big complaint. Only one-in-five District-based new ventures complete the process of forming and opening within a year. Hospitality and nightlife establishments, a leading business sector and major job creator, are required to endure an astounding best-case delay of a seven-months-or-more minimum to merely be licensed. The anguish of disheartened local business leaders didn’t end there. Groans were reported to have emanated from the crowd when D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson told attendees he anticipated his colleagues will introduce proposals for raising business tax rates to generate additional revenues in order to further increase government spending. A budget battle is brewing and it is expected to break out in the early months of next year. This looming conflict has been building ever since current city spending was set last spring for the fiscal year that began last month. That’s when mayoral-proposed and council-approved government expenditures outpaced actual annual revenues. Although cash from local sources, totaling nearly $8 billion, rose less than four percent, outlays spiked up at over double that amount. Current financial-year spending was built on one-time snatched bundles of monies, hocus-pocus stealing of a little here and there, and hikes in some commercial taxation. Our politicians will start out next time in a hole they dug. With a total budget of over $15.5 billion, D.C. elected officials reign over the spending of more than $22,000 for each woman, man, and child living in the city. Yet too many local leaders and the let’s-spendmore it’s-never-enough keep-doling-it-out types are still clamoring for bigger bucks. At stake is whether District politicians will begin to unravel recently implemented tax reforms and an extremely modest business tax rate reduction. D.C. enterprise expects to again be the target. Community commerce, and the jobs and economic vitality hometown businesses generate, will continue to be the toll.

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Package tours of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni are thriving with various lineups as the show’s popularity continues to soar. The “Werq the World Tour,” for example, which played D.C. two weeks ago, features winners of three past seasons: Yvie Oddly (season 11), Aquaria (season 10) and Violet Chachki (season seven). But Sasha Velour, the season nine winner who identifies as genderqueer, is staking out her own path. Her onequeen show “Smoke & Mirrors” plays Washington Monday night and continues through Nov. 30. She spoke to the Blade Tuesday by phone from Kansas City, Mo. Velour’s comments have been slightly edited for length. WASHINGTON BLADE: How’s the tour going? SASHA VELOUR: Oh my gosh, it’s going amazing. The last show we did in Chicago was sold out, packed with local drag artists and the performances themselves have just been going so well, we’re thrilled. BLADE: Does (partner) Johnny (Velour) travel with you? VELOUR: Yes. I mean Johnny is kind of an important part of the show. He presses all the buttons that keep the multi-media aspect running well … and we’re traveling with our dog throughout the country and beyond so it’s good to have a little downtime together.

SASHA VELOUR on tour. Photo by Jeff Eason

Sasha Velour’s one-woman show

Poised, fabulous season nine ‘Drag Race’ champ brings ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ to D.C. By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM

BLADE: Are audiences different? Do you sense any difference between a Texas audience vs. Pittsburgh, for instance? VELOUR: Um, it’s slight differences but actually mostly I’m shocked by being in places I would never have thought of as queer friendly and looking out and seeing hundreds of people standing, screaming for drag expression. It gives me a lot of hope that there’s so many like-minded audiences throughout the world that are, like, accepting of people however we want to express our gender as long as we’re doing it over the top beautifully, spectacularly, I think that’s kind of the unifying thing is that it feels like we built a little alternate world over the course of one “Smoke & Mirrors”

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performance. and everyone comes in and by the end if just feels like people are overflowing with feelings. It has that community vibe. BLADE: But have you felt you had to win them over a bit more in some markets or anything like that? VELOUR: No, not at all. BLADE: Do you like the execution/ performance or the design/planning of a show better? VELOUR: I enjoy them both. I’ve always been a planing queen. I used to plan these epic performances that were taking place in dive bars while I was on my commute every morning on the subway to and from work. And then have no rehearsal and bring it to life in the moment, and now we get a little bit more of a full creative process now, we get rehearsal time, I’ve been able to workshop this show for almost a year. So it’s a different style now, the planning process if over and I get to fine tune the performance which is a real privilege. With drag performers, so often we’re doing a pop-up performance and then on to the next thing. So it’s been really great to be able to be so careful with my own art work and I feel like I’m better technically at a lot of things than I was when I started doing drag. It’s nice to see that change. BLADE: What’s the biggest logistical hurdle of touring this show? VELOUR: Honestly caring for the costumes and wigs. It’s 13 different performances and somehow, even though I barely step off stage, there’s a different look for every number, I designed a different world for every number. The scenery changes with a projector so that’s easy, all you need is a computer, but for the costumes and the wigs, half of the things are white velvet which is one of the hardest to take care of, but it projects onto beautifully which is such an important part of the show so thankfully I have a fabulous person traveling with me Monica helping me (with) things, helping me spray seven different wigs, and is backstage helping me in the real act of “Smoke & Mirrors” which happens in the wings of the theater as we rip clothes off me, put them back on, dab sweat off the back of my ears, that’s the real magic trick, keeps us on our toes.

BLADE: Do you have duplicates? How do you keep stuff from getting sweaty and gross when you’re traveling? VELOUR: I have one body suit, I wear against my skin for about half the show, I just have a duplicate of that finally so I can switch them in and out. I actually like washing my costumes myself. I have a particular way that I do it where I let them soak in different little bowls around my hotel room so I’ll do that every time we have a day off, my biggest classic costume trick is you gotta spray everything with vodka immediately after walking off stage. It sounds like a great party trick, it’s helpful to have a little spray bottle of vodka near you when you’re performing in drag too because one for the costumes, two for the mouth and that sanitizes, keeps things smelling fresh and clean. It’s an amazing wardrobe trick.

but I’m excited to return to it.

BLADE: Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on the “Drag Race” postshow experience by touring solo? So many of the queens tour together, they go back for “All Stars.” Do you ever feel out of the loop? VELOUR: It’s complicated. I really enjoy, I do miss getting to travel with other drag artists. It’s something that other people who’ve been through this crazy experience of RuPaul’s Drag Race do have in common that makes it nice to travel together, share experiences and horror stories and fantasies and all of the above, but it’s been a pleasure getting to be the lead producer on this project and even though it really means I have to be a lot more serious than I used to be about drag, it’s ultimately a really, really good thing. I’m just able to customize the stage show for my specific way of performing and learning how to do that and how to pull all those strings behind the scenes, that often, that information is sometimes kept from the drag performers themselves or we have to learn it the hard way, but hopefully those are skills that I can continue to use and share with other people.

BLADE: Did you watch seasons 10 and 11 of “Drag Race”? VELOUR: I love “Drag Race” so I always follow it. Sometimes all the work room talking is a little much for me. I remember too well so I can piece apart how it’s constructed and it drives me crazy, so I often just get to the best part which is the challenge on the runways, that’s my favorite half hour.

BLADE: Does Nightgowns (Velour’s monthly New York show) go on hiatus when you’re on tour? VELOUR: Yes. We used to fly back and put it together in a single day and recently Nightgowns has gotten so ambitious and complicated in itself that we’re tying to do more select shows throughout the year rather than a monthly pop-up. It’s getting a little unsustainable


BLADE: Did your recent staph infection, surgery and the recovery process give you any existential crisis? What did you think about during your recovery period? VELOUR: That’s an existential crisis I have every day. (laughs) I’m mostly kidding. Yeah, it was it put a lot of things into perspective. A reminder of things that I have taken for granted in my life and health and a support system, for the most pressing things cannot be something that you take for granted. Focused on art and career and fame and Instagram followers — none of that really matters in the long run. Health and thriving and family does and I feel like I’m trying to find a balance. In an ideal world, those worlds support each other, that’s what I’m trying to get.

BLADE: Are Aquaria and Yvie worthy successors to you? VELOUR: Absolutely. I think they’re both so interesting. It’s exciting to see. “Drag Race” is just so big, the audience is so huge, it’s great to see other how many people can benefit from this phenomenon. It’s never just the winner. I know this myself — it’s really all about what you do with the opportunity. So many people, esp. the people who go far on the show, get asked … the opportunity that is so rare, such a privilege in the world of drag. I’m always curious to see what people do with it. That’s ultimately what I look for, not how they do on the show but what they do after. BLADE: Do you ever see RuPaul? I know he’s busy with a million different projects, but has he ever reached out since you were on and offered any affirmation? VELOUR: Oh my gosh, it’s so funny, I actually had a very beautiful run in with RuPaul on the street about a year ago in Los Angles and I just ran into traffic to see RuPaul and we just had such a nice conversation, just away from the cameras

and away from all the phenomenon, I just really thanked him for this huge opportunity and I tried to tell him about how I tried to really follow in his footsteps and continue to kind of spread the good word of drag in all these communities so it was a really nice moment. BLADE: Did he say anything nice or act like he was glad to see you? VELOUR: Yes, absolutely. It was funny. I had on really really tall shoes, like giant platform sneakers so I was pretty much the same height as him for the first time than we had ever previously been. I’m significantly shorter than him, so he was like very impressed with my height. BLADE: There was a lot of drama on your season with Valentina, Farrah Moan, Aja, Nina and others. That reunion was especially bitchy. Did you ever feel you were being sucked into any of that? VELOUR: We had a funny combination of people of different ages on our season so there was kind of like the 23 group, that had their own style of dealing with the stress of the competition, and the early 30s group that had our own way of doing it. So I think it was more natural personalities and experience kind of put us in those different categories. I love those girls and I love being around other drag performers and even when they start acting dramatic and have problems with each other it’s all part of the work. BLADE: What are your plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas? VELOUR: Thanksgiving, our plans are not totally set. It’s right in the middle of the tour, so we might end up having a dinner with the entire crew which is our sort of family on the road. Once it reaches December, Johnny and I are gonna like crawl into a cave and disappear. To recover from this incredible journey.

Sasha Velour’s Smoke & Mirrors Monday, Nov. 11 8 p.m. Lincoln Theatre 1215 U St., N.W. $35-125 thelincolndc.com sashavelour.com smokeandmirrorslive.com

Counterclockwise from left: Pretty Boi Drag will have a #SundayService event Nov. 17 Washington Blade photo Tom Hausam; Trans Day of Remembrance is Nov. 20 Washington Blade photo by Michael Key and Women Out to Win is Nov. 15 Photo courtesy Victory Institute.

Trans Day of Remembrance is Nov. 20 The D.C. observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance is Wednesday, Nov. 20 from 6-8:30 p.m. at Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge St., N.W.). This day commemorates those who have been killed in acts of anti-trans violence. The 1998 murder of Rita Hester, a Boston transgender woman, initiated the Remembering our Dead web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Hester’s murder, like many similar cases, has yet to be solved. Visit thedccenter.org for more information.

Womxn’s Party set for Nov. 15

Pretty Boi gets churchy

The D.C. Center presents its Annual Womxn’s Party Friday, Nov. 15 from 7-10 p.m. at The Outrage (1722 14th St., N.W.). Tickets start at $25. Guests are invited to enjoy drinks, catch up with friends, dance and mingle while raising money to support the D.C. Center. The silent auction includes items from Hanks Oyster Bar, Miss Pixie’s, Yoga Heights D.C., the Newseum and more. Admission price includes one drink ticket. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Pretty Boi Drag Presents #SundayService on Sunday, Nov. 17 from 6-9 p.m. at Busboys and PoetsBrookland (625 Monroe St., N.E.). Advance tickets are $25 and $30 on the day of the event. This annual drag church event is offered as a chance to dress up and celebrate the community through song, dance and performance. Pretty Boi Drag will provide church fans and programs while the audience is encouraged to join in the fun with church lady hats and dapper suits. Tickets are available at prettyboidrag. com for this 18-and-up event.

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TODAY GLO’s underwear dance party returns to the Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) tonight starting at 10 p.m. This special Halloween edition features resident DJs Ultra and Phoenix. $5 admission includes free clothes check. More information on this and other events at greenlanterndc.com. Women in their 20s and 30s, a queer discussion group, is tonight from 8-9 p.m. at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.). Attendees meet for a social discussion followed by dinner nearby. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Saturday, Nov. 9

In it to win it The 2019 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference Presents Women Out to Win Friday, Nov. 15 from 7-10 p.m. at the Living Room D.C. (1008 Vermont Ave., N.W.). Tickets start at $50 for young professionals (30 and under) and include one drink ticket. At this “party with a purpose” event, attendees will have an opportunity to engage with women leaders who make up 40 percent of all LBTQ elected officials serving nationwide. About two dozen out women elected officials and 200 queer women donors and influencers from across the country are expected to attend this year’s event. Last year’s participants included former Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Ohio state Sen. Nickie Antonio among many others. Visit victoryinstitute.org for more information.

The 11th Annual South African Bazaar is today from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building (1 Veterans Pl., Silver Spring, Md.). This free event includes beaded crafts, South African art, Zulu baskets, jewelry and other original gifts in time for the holidays. Sponsored by the African Women’s Network International and the South African Bazaar Craft Cooperative. Email southafricanbazaar@hotmail.com for more information. Arty Queers: D.C.’s LGBTQ Art Market is today from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W., suite 105). This monthly indoor LGBTQ art market features original artwork for sale including paintings, pottery, photography and more. Tickets and information available at thedccenter.org. GayC/DC, the all-gay AC/DC tribute band, performs tonight starting at 8 p.m. at the Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.). Now in their second year, the band scored a “pick of the week” in LA Weekly for being true to the original while changing lyrics for a gay crowd. Tickets are $18 on blackcatdc.com.

Sunday, Nov. 10 All are welcome to attend the Transgender Veterans Dinner at the Chateau (3439 Benning Rd., N.E.) from 5-8 p.m. This event hosted by May is? “All


About Trans” and We the People honors gender-nonconforming and other LGBT veterans and service members. Email mayistransdc@gmail.com for more information. The Flashy Veterans Day weekend party is tonight at 10 p.m. at Flashy Sundays (645 Florida Ave., N.W.). Cover is $20 with an extended bar until 4 a.m. DJs TWiN and Sean Morris will keep the beats flowing until 5. Visit facebook.com/ flashydc for more information. LURe D.C. presents Spark tonight starting at 9 p.m. at A League of Her Own (2317 18th St., N.W.). There is no cover for this 21-and-up event featuring guest bartenders and community fundraising for the TAGG Scholarship Fund for future LGBT business leaders and entrepreneurs. Look for the event on Facebook for details.

Center Military presents the Veterans Day Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony for LGBT Veterans today from noon1:30 p.m. at Congressional Cemetery (1801 E St., S.E.). The public is invited to this ceremony and memorial service at the grave of Technical Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, a gay service member who publicly challenged the military’s LGBT ban in 1975. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

the D.C.-Area Transmasculine Society is tonight from 6-9 p.m. at Red Bear Brewing (209 M St., S.E.). Friends and partners are welcome to this 17-and-up event when accompanied by someone transmasculine. More information available at dcats.org and redbear.beer. Lez Read is tonight from 7-8 p.m. at the Politics and Prose Bookstore (5015 Connecticut Ave., N.W.). This book group reads a wide selection of fiction and nonfiction works on lesbian and queer themes or written by lesbian or queeridentified writers. Email bookgroups@ politics-prose.com to learn more about the group or tonight’s selection. The Lambda Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for duplicate bridge. No reservations are needed and newcomers are welcome. Phone 202-841-0279 if you need a partner. The Big Gay Book Group meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the Trio Bistro (1537 17th St., N.W.). This week’s discussion will cover South Bend, Ind. Mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg’s memoir “Shortest Way Home.” Email biggaybookgroup@hotmail.com for more information and to RSVP. Coven D.C. is tonight at 10 p.m. at Ten Tigers Parlour (3813 Georgia Ave., N.W.). This party for queer womxn is the second Saturday of every month and is headed up by two queer womxn who call themselves The Coven. Visit facebook. com/thecovendc for more information.

Tuesday, Nov. 12

Thursday, Nov. 14

Drag Bingo with Desiree Dik is tonight from 7-9 p.m. at Red Bear Brewing (209 M St., N.E.). Free bingo with prizes each round and drag performers to entertain. Show starts at 7. Visit redbear. beer for more information. ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy presented by Story District is tonight at the Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.). Locals share true stories about misunderstandings in a mix of lighthearted and heartwarming tales. Tickets are $20. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Visit blackcatdc.com for more information.

Single Tingle: A Singles Happy Hour for LGBTQ Womxn presented by LezLink Social Club is tonight from 6-8 p.m. at XX+ Crostino (1926 9th St., N.W.). A happy hour space dedicated to local LGBTQ womxn looking to mix and mingle. Happy hour until 7 p.m. with specialty cocktails until 8. VIsit xxcrostino.com or eventbrite.com for more information. Queer Tango is tonight from 7-9:30 p.m. at BloomBars (3222 11th St., N.W.). All levels are welcome to this weekly class and dance experience. Come with or without a partner. Students are encouraged to switch roles and try something new. More information on this event and other classes is at tangomercurio.org.

Monday, Nov. 11

Wednesday, Nov. 13 The Transmasculine and Nonbinary Social Hour hosted by

QUEERY Ryan McClure Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

QUEERY: Ryan McClure

The District Queer Comedy Festival co-founder answers 20 queer questions By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM Twenty-one stand-up performers and five improv teams — all LGBT — from all over the Eastern Seaboard will unite Nov. 15-16 for the first-ever District Queer Comedy Festival. Ryan McClure, who’s co-producing the event with Kelsie Anderson (they met through improv), says his philosophy of comedy comes from being authentic. “Do comedy that you find funny,” says the 31-year-old North Hampton, N.H., native. “Don’t censor yourself to conform to what you think an audience wants to hear. Even if the audience doesn’t laugh at every joke or understand every queer reference, your authenticity and energy will come through and you’ll have a lot more fun doing comedy.” Shows will be held at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at the D.C. Arts Center (2438 18th St., N.W.) on Nov. 15 and 16. Two workshops will be led by queer teachers at Source Theater (1835 14th St., N.W.) on Nov. 16 (one on improv, one on stand-up), and

an open mic for charity will be held at noon on Nov. 17 at Colony Club (3118 Georgia Ave., N.W.) with proceeds going to benefit Casa Ruby. Full details at comedicpursuits.com or look for the festival on Facebook. McClure has been doing improv for four years and performs on two indie teams. Festival participants were found through social media and auditioned by video. McClure, an attorney by day, spends his free time doing “comedy-related stuff,” such as working, performing or attending improv shows, doing theater tech for Washington Improv Theater, co-hosting Imrov Brunch (a monthly showcase) and more. He also recently started writing sketch comedy. He also enjoys foreign language study, board games, going to the gym and podcasts. He came to Washington 10 years ago for college and law school. He’s single and lives in Logan Circle.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? About nine years. My parents. Who’s your LGBTQ hero? Xena: Warrior Princess What LGBTQ stereotype most annoys you? That gay men all like going to gay bars and clubs. They’re too loud and crowded! What’s your proudest professional achievement? Starting LGBTQ AF, and having it featured on WETA (the local PBS affiliate) as part of a television segment aired during Pride month. What terrifies you? That bugs will lay their eggs in my skin when I’m sleeping and then they’ll hatch and eat their way out through my skin. What’s something trashy or vapid you love? “House Hunters,” if you consider that vapid. But I just kind of like it and will watch it sometimes if it’s on in a waiting room and there’s nothing else to do.

What’s your greatest domestic skill? I enjoy cleaning and organizing. What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie or show? “UNHhhh” (YouTube series) What’s your social media pet peeve? Selfies in public bathrooms where you can see stalls or urinals. What would the end of the LGBTQ movement look like to you? Greater LGBTQ representation in media and government. What’s the most overrated social custom? Saying something after someone sneezes. What was your religion, if any, as a child and what is it today? Catholic/agnostic What’s D.C.’s best hidden gem? Dojo Comedy What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Not really a “moment,” but watching “The Simpsons’” golden age as it was airing; the show helped define my sense of humor.

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What celebrity death hit you hardest? None. I don’t really identify with celebrities. If you could redo one moment from your past, what would it be? I would go to a college with a more traditional campus; I didn’t really like going to school in the city. What are your obsessions? Improv comedy. Cats. Samoyeds. Finish this sentence — It’s about damn time: People stopped listening to music on their phone’s speaker on public transportation. What do you wish you’d known at 18? Most people don’t know what they’re doing and really are just faking it until making it.

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This Week in the Arts provided by CultureCapital.com Singin’ In The Rain. Nov 8-Jan 5. Olney Theatre. olneytheatre.org. The Havel Project. Thru Nov 17. Dupont Underground. dupontunderground.org. Theory. Thru Nov 17. Mosaic Theater Company at Atlas. mosaictheater.org.

DANCE Fuego Flamenco XV: Entresueño. Thru Nov 10. Rafael Peral and Marisa Adame (Spain). Nov 14-Nov 17. GALA Hispanic Theatre. galatheatre.org. Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE. Nov 8. Strathmore. strathmore.org. SOLE Defined. Nov 9-Nov 10. Dance Place. danceplace.org. Taj Express. Nov 9. Mason’s Center for the Arts. cfa.gmu.edu.


A Chorus Line Thru Jan 4. Signature Theatre. sigtheatre.org.

Winner of nine Tony Awards® and the Pulitzer Prize, overflowing with sensational ballet, tap and jazz dance numbers, this non-stop showcase with one of the largest casts in Signature history is the one singular sensation for the holiday season.

Leon Fleisher Nov 12. Maryland Lyric Opera at Strathmore. mdlo.org.

The MDLO Orchestra, presents Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12, performed with Leon Fleisher at the piano.

Rent 20th Anniversary Tour Nov 12-Nov 17. National Theatre. thenationaldc.org.

The Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning masterpiece returns to the stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary touring production. A reimagining of Puccini’s La Bohème, RENT follows an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams without selling out.

Mark Morris Dance Group: Pepperland Nov 13-Nov 16. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org.

Mark Morris Dance Group adds some spice to this season with a colorful, exuberant new production that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Photo Courtesy of Signature Theatre

THEATRE Airness. Nov 8-Nov 30. Keegan Theatre. keegantheatre.com. Amadeus. Thru Dec 22. Folger Theatre. folger.edu. Edward Albee’s Occupant. Thru Nov 30. Theater J at EDCJCC. theaterj.org.

Otello. Thru Nov 16. The Magic Flute. Thru Nov 23. WNO at Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Renée Fleming VOICES: Joyce DiDonato. Nov 8-Nov 9. No Such Thing as a Fish. Nov 10. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. ROOM: 27 Minutes; You as empath. Thru Nov 10. Sea by Jon Fosse. Thru Nov 24. DC Arts Center. dcartscenter.org.

Norm Lewis. Nov 14. Veterans History Project Art Showcase. Nov 9. Library of Congress. loc.gov. At Home with Bach. Nov 9. Washington Bach Consort. bachconsort.org. Día de los Muertos. Nov 9-Nov 10. Choral Arts Society at Mexican Cultural Institute. choralarts.org. Contemporary Ensemble. Nov 10. Anderson House. societyofthecincinnati.org. Jason Moran + Ingrid Laubrock, Black Stars. Nov 9. Kennedy Center. kennedycenter.org. John Eaton. Nov 10. Leo Kottke. Nov 9. Max Weinberg’s Jukebox. Nov 8. Trace Bundy. Nov 14. The Barns at Wolf Trap. wolftrap.org. Mark G Meadows & The Movement. Nov 9. Dumbarton Concerts. dumbartonconcerts.org. Molly Joyce. Nov 14. Strathmore at The Mansion. strathmore.org. Richard Lin, Violin Chih Chen, Piano. Nov 12. Embassy Series at Anderson House. embassyseries.org. Rob Kapilow’s What Makes It Great: Mozart Requiem. Nov 10. The Washington Chorus at Baird Auditorium. thewashingtonchorus.org. At Home with Bach. Nov 8. Washington Bach Consort at Live! at 10th & G. bachconsort.org. Klezmer Brunch with Seth Kibel. Thru Jan 5. JxJ at EDCJCC. jxjdc.org

MUSEUMS AU Museum at the Katzen. Moves Like Walter, Topographies of Life, ARCADIA, Dark World, Fair is foul & foul is fair. Nov 9-Dec 15. american.edu.

Dumbarton Oaks. Ornament: Fragments of Byzantine Fashion. Thru Jan 5. Asian Art from the Bliss Collection. Thru Jun 1. doaks.org. Library of Congress. Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote. Thru Sep 1. Comic Art. Thru Sep 12. loc.gov. National Archives. Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote. Thru Jan 3. archivesfoundation.org. National Geographic. WOMEN: A Century of Change. Thru May 1. nationalgeographic.org. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Judy Chicago—The End, Live Dangerously. Thru Jan 20. nmwa.org. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian. Portraits of the World: Korea Exhibition. Thru Nov 17. Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence. Thru Jan 5. In Mid-Sentence. Thru Mar 29. One Life: Marian Anderson. Thru May 17. Women of Progress: Early Camera Portraits. Thru May 31. Storied Women of the Civil War Era. Thru May 8. npg.si.edu. Postal Museum. None Swifter Than These. Thru Jan 26. postalmuseum.si.edu.

GALLERIES Arlington Cultural Affairs. Places in Paper - Guild of American Papercutters. Thru Dec 8. arts.arlingtonva.us. Arts Barn. Figuratively Speaking Gallery Exhibit. Thru Nov 18. gaithersburgmd.gov. CHAW. Migrant Quilt Project. Thru Dec 9. chaw.org. DC Arts Center. Nano Sculptures. Thru Nov 17. ReVisions by Ellyn Weiss. Thru Dec 1. dcartscenter.org. Del Ray Artisans. $100 & Under Art Exhibit. Thru Dec 1. Creature Comforts Art Exhibit. Thru Jan 26. delrayartisans.org. Dupont Underground. World Press Photo Exhibition. Nov 9-Dec 8. dupontunderground.org. Arlington Artist Alliance. Road Trip Solo Show by Pattee Hipschen. Thru Nov 29. Scenes of Scotland Solo Show by Shelley Micali. Thru Dec 7. arlingtonartistsalliance.org. Korean Cultural Center DC. Resonance. Thru Nov 29. Talk Talk Korea 2019 Winners. Nov 8-Nov 29. koreaculturedc.org. Pozez JCC. Judy Wengrovitz — A Retrospective. Thru Dec 2. jccnv.org. Waverly Street Gallery. The Allure of Color - Recent Work by Grace E. Peterson. Thru Dec 7. waverlystreetgallery.com. Zenith Gallery. enDANGERd. Thru Nov 16. 6@35 - Fabricating Culture. Thru Jan 4. zenithgallery.com.

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ANDREA HARRIS SMITH and MUSA GURNIS in ’Theory.’ Photo by Christopher Banks; courtesy MTC

Academic experiment

Lesbian college prof faces dicey drama in Mosaic’s ‘Theory’ By PATRICK FOLLIARD

Canadian playwright Norman Yeung doesn’t back off from socially relevant topics. In his thought-provoking technothriller “Theory,” now making its U.S. premiere at Mosaic Theater Company, he takes on the limits of free speech. Young, white tenure-track professor Isabelle (Musa Gurnis) wants to shake up academia. On the first day of her introduction to film studies course, she tears up the traditional staid syllabus and replaces it with one featuring more works by women and filmmakers of color rather than one almost exclusively comprised of dead white men. Isabelle also announces that she’s created an unmoderated, uncensored online message board where students can freely express their views beyond the lecture hall. In theory, it’s a great idea, but some of Isabelle’s more than 100 students are a tad trepidatious, and rightly so. In a short time, the board is littered with homophobic, misogynist and racist slurs. But amid the morass of negativity, some terrific ideas and intelligent exchanges can be found. Heartened by the positive aspects, Isabelle encourages her students to stay on track as she continues with her promise to neither block nor delete. Not surprisingly, Isabelle’s online experiment soon spills over into her personal life. At home, she is suddenly attached to her laptop, obsessively reading every new email and message. Isabelle’s wife Lee, a black tenured professor and author, suggests she tread a quieter path, insisting that controversy isn’t the surest route to tenure for a young professor. And Lee, once a firebrand herself, has mellowed over time. She’s

more interested in her personal writing career and starting a family with Isabelle as the couple has planned. What’s important to Lee is that she and her wife have tenure in the same city — no easy feat. On campus, Isabelle’s class is represented by a diverse quartet of students (Benairen Kane, Tyasia Velines, Camilo Linares and Josh Adams) who aren’t afraid to express opinions ranging from problems with language and content to their professor’s performance. It’s ostensibly an argumentative but mostly likeable foursome. But while some students are quarrelsome in class, online they’re vicious. Will bold, well-meaning and often annoying Isabelle rethink her policy? Here’s where the playwright veers from near didactic and makes a sharp turn into thriller land. Without giving away too much, the plot quickly changes. One of the message board regulars scarily crosses the line. A Swiss Army knife is involved. In a scene that gives some insight into the current state of faculty-student relations, Isabelle seeks advice from her boss, the dapperly dressed department head Owen (Tony K. Nam). His thoughts on how to handle students (which I won’t reveal here) are exasperatingly weak and unfortunately true to life. Director Victoria Murray Baatin seamlessly moves the action from classroom to office to living room (all housed on Daniel Ettinger’s sleek gray and pistachio, split-level set). Dylan Uremovich’s projections of messages and texts, and images from seminal films like D.W. Griffith’s silent “Birth of a Nation” and Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trihn Thi’s controversial “Baise-Moi” effectively add tension and atmosphere. And while Yeung’s script could have been better plumbed for its extant humor and broadish performances might have been reined in here and there, it’s a lucid, cohesive production. “Theory” doesn’t answer all the questions. But it’s undeniably a conversation starter.


Through Nov. 17 Mosaic Theater Company Atlas Performing Arts Center 1333 H St., N.E. $10-65 mosaictheater.org

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IL POSTINO Virginia Opera Saturday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.

RUBBERBANDance GROUP Vic’s Mix Friday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m.

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

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


Located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University, six miles west of Beltway exit 54 at the intersection of Braddock Road and Rt. 123.


JUAN BARBERINI (in distance) and RAMON PUJOL in ‘End of the Century.’ Photo courtesy Cinema Guild

Sizzling ‘Century’ Out filmmaker Lucio Castro shares journey of gay filmmaking

By BRIAN T. CARNEY After great success at film festivals around the world (including a one-night stand at D.C.’s Reel Affirmations), “End of the Century” (Fin de siglo) is settling in today for an exclusive engagement at Landmark E Street Cinema (it’s in Spanish with English subtitles). Written and directed by out Argentinian filmmaker Lucio Castro, the movie is about an Argentinian poet named Ocho (Juan Barberini) who’s visiting Barcelona. As he wanders around the city, he keeps seeing Javi (Ramón Pujol); when the two finally meet, they realize they have met each other before, and that they may have a future together. Castro starts with a blank page and sees where the story takes him. The award-winning filmmaker says, “Every time I write with a plan it feels a little bit stiff, so I prefer to write without a plan. I like to start without anything in mind. The story really comes out of the joy I have when I write and it really helps put me in the place of the audience. It puts me closer to the way the audience thinks.” For this movie, Castro began

contemplating a visitor to Barcelona. “I started thinking about a character arriving in the city. What would this character do? He checks into his Airbnb, he checks out the bookshelf, he opens the fridge. He doesn’t unpack so I know he’s just here for a couple of days, maybe for the weekend,” he says. “Then he goes for a walk. At night he wants to have sex. He fails. The next day he meets up with someone and they end up having sex. They start talking and maybe in the middle of the conversation they realize they have met before. So, I just started imaging their first encounter, how it was in the past, and that’s really how I wrote it.” For “End of the Century,” Castro’s approach to screenwriting helped shape the movie’s tone and pace. The movie starts with a long sequence where Ocho wanders through Barcelona. There’s no spoken dialogue, just the ambient noises of the city, the squawks of animals in the city park and the sounds of the waves on the beach. The scene is also shaped by the Castro’s own experiences as a traveler and his canny instincts as a filmmaker. “I’ve noticed that when I’m alone I’m very aware of the city,” Castro says. “The people, the conversations. I look at the buildings and I feel the air. I notice things. When I’m with somebody else, I’m focused on our conversation.” Castro wanted to capture this feeling in his movie. “I wanted to explore this contrast, and I thought a good way to do this was to extend the silence and show how you’re more sensitive to the space around you when you’re alone. It feels like a diary,”

he says. “But then a dialogue starts with his Ocho’s attraction to Javi. It felt like a hypnotic way to get into the movie to get into the mind of the main character. From drifting around the city, Ocho starts to focus on Javi.” In addition to the complex opening of the movie, Castro the screenwriter set up other challenges for Castro the director with the sizzling sex scenes between Ocho and Javi. He says the actors were a bit anxious about the intense erotic action, especially Barberini who had a bad experience on his previous shoot. “The director told the actors to just pretend like they were having sex while he moved the camera around. It was very uncomfortable,” Castro says. Barberini asked Castro to take a different approach. According to Castro, the actor said, “Let’s do the opposite. You tell me exactly what you want. We’ll definitely go all out, but in a very controlled space.” So Castro, directing his first featurelength film, made sure to create a safe space for his actors to work in. “I choreographed the shots,” he says, “and we really planned it out. It required a very specific framing and it was shot very fast in 20-second increments. They were of course naked, but they didn’t care if we could see their body parts. They were comfortable with the intensity and the intimacy.” Castro started working on films in his native Argentina. He graduated from the prestigious Centro de Experimentación (C.I.C.) and worked on several movie sets before moving to New York in 2000. The multi-talented artist earned a degree from the Parsons School of Design and started work as a menswear designer (luciocastro. com) while making short films on the side. Around seven years ago, Castro remembers, “I started putting much more time into filmmaking and working on feature films. I wrote two screenplays, one set in Argentina and one set in update New York. But both films have large casts and multiple locations, so I wrote the script for ‘End of the Century’ that could be done with a much smaller budget.” Not surprisingly, Castro is a major film buff. “I have so many favorite films,” he says, “but for this movie I was looking a lot at a movie called ‘Certified Copy’ by Abbas Kiarostami. It’s a French film made by an Iranian director with Juliette Binoche. I love the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni and I was also watching his movie ‘L’Eclisse’ a lot.” Castro is sure these masterpieces have left their ark on “End of the Century.” “Of course, they come through me in ways that I’m not even aware of,” he says. “I am sure this film is made of bits and pieces of many films.”

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A Stritch in time By KATHI WOLFE

Photo courtesy Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Fuck! This is a fab read! Don’t be put off! Long before everyone used the profanity, Elaine Stritch, the queer icon, actress and singer, known as “Broadway’s enduring dame,” embraced the f-word. With her gender-bending white men’s shirts and black tights, it was part of her inimitable style. Everyone from Noel Coward to Elton John adored Stritch, who died at age 89 in 2014. She won a Tony Award for her 2001 one-woman show “Elaine Stritch At Liberty” and an Emmy for her work on “Law and Order.” Her iconic interpretation of Stephen Sondheim’s song “The Ladies Who Lunch” in the 1970 musical “Company” earned her lasting acclaim. Stritch aficionados loved it when she appeared as the mother of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) on NBC’s “30 Rock.” Yet, she had a drinking problem and could be difficult to work with. Many, including Harold Prince, thought Stritch was an “employment risk” and a “pain in the ass.” “How do you solve a problem like Elaine Stritch?” Nathan Lane asked at her memorial service. “How do you hold a fucking moonbeam in your hand?” Fasten your seatbelts! “Still Here,” a new bio by Alexandra Jacobs, will take you on a fast-moving ride through Stritch’s glamorous, funny, sad, fascinating, lonely life. Along the way, you’ll encounter celebs from Marlon Brando to Rock Hudson to Bea Arthur. Stritch was born to an upper-middleclass Catholic family in Detroit. “The Stritches were committed but not strict Catholics,” Jacobs writes. Yet, her family “put the convent in conventional.” Stritch went to a convent school and Cardinal Samuel Stritch was her cousin. Years later, the columnist Earl Wilson

erroneously reported that Stritch was the Cardinal’s daughter. One day, “she went to meet the holy man in person,” Jacobs writes. “Ushered in by a nun, she sat down on a redbacked seat with a stool under it. ‘Elaine, that’s my chair,’ he told her.” From childhood on, Stritch wanted to be in show business. At age 5, she fell in love with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers when an uncle took her to see “The Band Wagon” in New York. As a child playing on the porch one day, “Elaine fatally swatted enough flies to spell out her name,” Jacobs writes. “‘It was her way of supposing her name in lights,’ according to her friend Julie Keyes. ‘And that’s what billing is about,’ Elaine told her.” When she was 18, Stritch left the convent school and suburban Detroit behind to make it in the theater in New York. Moving there in 1943 “as a young woman in pursuit of fun, music, nightclubs and theater with all the trimmings was fantastically auspicious,” Jacobs writes. In the middle of World War II, It was the year when “Oklahoma!” (the “Hamilton” of its time) opened on Broadway and the first American Fashion Week was held. Elaine’s impatient personality was a perfect match, Jacobs writes, for the atmosphere of New York, which was “one of urgency and carpe diem in the face of an uncertain future.”

‘Still Here: The Madcap, Nervy, Singular Life of Elaine Stritch’ By Alexandra Jacobs Farrar, Straus and Giroux $28 352 pages


Women of Color: The Power of Protest November 14 | 6–7:30 p.m. | McEvoy Auditorium Join the National Portrait Gallery in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African Art for a series of lectures and discussions that address activism and social justice through the lens of women of color. These events are funded by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, Because of Her Story. Free—Register at npg.eventbrite.com.

8th and F St. NW • Washington, DC 20001 • npg.si.edu #myNPG • @Smithsoniannpg Ida B. Wells-Barnett (detail) by Sallie E. Garrity, albumen silver print, c. 1893. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz showed off its wares in October at NKOTB. The team behind Pow Wow plans to open in early 2020. Photo by Evan Caplan

Coming soon in dining … New restaurants unveil fare at NKOTB event By EVAN CAPLAN The buzzy, biannual sneak-peak food event New Kitchens on the Block (aka NKOTB) held its sixth iteration on Oct. 20 at Mess Hall, showcasing a wealth of food talent from youthful first-timers to internationally renowned industry veterans. It’s a chance for Washington to “savor signature dishes and drinks from 10 of D.C.’s most hyped new restaurants,” according to organizers Al Goldberg (a Mess Hall founder) and Nevin Martell (a recognized local food writer). All of the restaurants featured look to open in winter or spring 2020. D.C. has plenty to get excited about — here are a few highlights: Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz From the owners of H Street’s Pow Wow, Bubbie’s is bringing the same vegan panache to an all-American table. “I wanted the food to be more accessible and classic,” says owner Margeaux Riccio. Pow Wow has been a sleeper hit, catering

to dietary restriction palates, since its food is also certified Kosher. The team doesn’t import pre-made patties like Impossible; instead, all the plant-based food is made in-house. Bubbie’s will have diner faves like fried chicken sandwiches, smoked beet burger topped with bacon and blue cheese. The location is still under wraps. Cranes On a different side of the Latin spectrum is Cranes, a more conceptual restaurant grounded as much in its food as it will be in its spirit. Owner and chef Pepe Moncayo grew up in Spain but hails from Singapore, where he’s run his restaurant “Bam!” for nearly a decade. He’s planning a Spanish-Japanese fusion restaurant with sake service that’s based on Spanish cooking “infused with the culture of Japan,” Moncayo says. He served a creamy risotto prepared in a massive paella pan. Cranes will open in Penn Quarter. La Famosa On the tropical end, La Famosa will give D.C. a taste of chef-owner Juancarlos Parkhurst’s native Puerto Rico. The son of a canning family, Parkhurst acknowledge the great Latin food scene, like Salvadoran cuisine, but bemoaned the lack of Puerto Rican food. La Famosa will be “fast-fine” dining, according to Parkhurst, serving comida Criolla (a term used to describe traditional Latin Caribbean cuisine). “The food of my island is humble, but I’ll serve it in refined ways,” he says. La Famosa plated hearty servings of fried ripe plantains topped with spicy fish stew.

Maialino Mare Situated at the table next to Pearl’s, but a different culinary universe is Maialino Mare, celebrity chef Danny Meyer’s first full-service restaurant foray in Washington (he owns Union Square Hospitality Group, which runs Shake Shack). The traditional Italian restaurant, a sister of the spot of the same name in New York City, will open in the Thompson Hotel in Navy Yard. Chef Rose Noel said that “Meyer loves D.C. and sports, so being by the Stadium was a good fit.” Maiano Mare is a Roman-style trattoria, she says, “bringing the heart of Italy to the heart of America.” The restaurant served a creamy cacio e pepe pasta at the event. Pearls’ Bagels Also on the classic end of the spectrum is Pearl’s, a plucky shop run by Allee and Oliver Cox. The Cox’s, fed up with their Shaw-neighborhood bagel options (and former day jobs), started making their own crispy-outside, chewyinside carbs at home. The bagels will echo the New York style, but will be boiled in honey water and baked in a pizza oven. At NKOTB, Pearl’s (named for their puppy) served mini bagels with options like smoked-tuna spread and homemade jalapeno cream cheese. “We were hungry, and we just wanted good bagels,” says Oliver. Pearl’s will open not far from the Cox’s home, near the Convention Center. As a bonus, creative culinary star Erik Bruner-Yang, of envelope-dissolving restaurants like Brothers and Sisters, Maketto, and Spoken English, operated a pop-up tent with his new client &Pizza. Bruner-Yang took the helm as Executive Chef of &Pizza earlier this year, infusing the local chain with fresh thoughts and new directions for the doughy concoctions, giving &Pizza a touch more spirit. The other participants included Emmy Squared (deep-dish pizza), Hi/Fi Taco (Mexican in The Roost, a Capitol Hill food hall), Tabla (a relaxed Georgian spot on Georgia Ave from the Supra owners), and Soko (old-fashioned butcher shop in Takoma Park). Catoctin Creek, El Silencio, New Columbia Distillers and One Eight Distilling supplied cocktails, while 3 Stars Brewing Company has beers on hand.

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Halloween is over this year, but not for you. Your decorations are still up because the season is young. There’s plenty of time left for skeletons, monsters and wind that howls like a banshee. You can still hear spirits highstepping in your upstairs. Most important of all: as in the new book, “Toil & Trouble” by Augusten Burroughs, witches walk among us. At just 8 years old, Augusten Burroughs learned that he was a witch. Riding the bus home from school, he’d had the sudden realization that something happened to his grandmother; he knew without knowing, saw without seeing and rushed to his mother in a panic. Matter-offactly, she calmed him; she was a witch, too, and had sensed that her younger son had the “gift.” “It was the strongest bond my mother and I had when I was young,” Burroughs says. Most people think of Hollywood magic or crones on brooms when they think of witches but those are just myths, he says. The truth comes in three parts: witches have existed for as long as have humans. They’ve “always been misunderstood.” And yes, “witches are real,” and each is a little different, as Burroughs learned when his Aunt Curtis (a witch) introduced him to a root woman (another witch) who told him something about his future. Witchcraft isn’t perfect, though. It didn’t help much while Burroughs was bullied as a boy. Sometimes, spells took longer to work than he hoped they might. It isn’t for revenge or hurtful purposes, although ADVERTISING PROOF there is a way to influence how things turn out and patience is key. “Magick” worked when he wanted to move from


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Manhattan to his beloved New England; it didn’t work when he wanted to talk to a friend on the phone. It warned him of a possibly bad situation near his new home, but there were no details. It helps find lost objects, but not lost confidence. And when his magick went missing as his husband fell seriously ill, Burroughs learned that, “Things are not as they appear. They are much, much more.” When starting “Toil & Trouble,” you could be forgiven for thinking that author Augusten Burroughs is pulling your leg. He does, after all, write with humor and this witch stuff is conjured, right? Isn’t it? After a few more pages, it won’t matter. You’ll be so engrossed by this tale of the magick of life and so caught up in the stories Burroughs tells, that witchcraft really becomes no big deal, no less normal than blue eyes or brown hair. And while it’s the main reason for this book and everything attached to it, it’s more of a magically delightful, meaningful backdrop for tales of family, growing up gay, falling in love with a man, finding home and forgiving. “Toil & Trouble” is not a dark-andstormy-night kind of book, and it won’t make you jumpy. There are, however, a few hair-raising pages that’ll make you squirm but mostly, it’s funny and sweet and charming, a cauldron full of goodness.

‘Toil & Trouble’ By Augusten Burroughs St. Martin’s Press $27.99 320 pages




Nats celebration at JR.’s Washington Nationals fans gathered on Saturday at JR.’s to celebrate the World Series win. Washington Blade photos by Zach Brien

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By ALEX GRAHAM As we celebrate Veterans Day, it is important to honor and appreciate the sacrifices our veterans, especially those within the LGBT community, have made. After decades of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” our LGBT veterans and active duty service members were allowed to come out of the shadows in September 2011. This meant that no matter their orientation they did not have to worry about losing certain earned benefits. And, with the Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, veterans and active duty service members’ families gained access to more benefits. For individual service members and their families, no matter how they are composed, it is important to understand which key financial benefits are available to them. The first key benefit that every active duty or service member should take note of is the Veterans Administration (VA) home loan program. I’ve talked extensively about homeownership in previous columns, but this is truly an amazing program for our service members. A few key benefits: no down payment required (as long as the house appraises at loan value - a good Realtor can help here), improved interest rates and terms, no private mortgage insurance (savings of hundreds of dollars a month), and the ability to borrow up to the Fannie Mae/ Freddie Mac conforming limit in your locale. While it doesn’t mean you can have poor credit and no income, it does, with a little planning, help open the door to homeownership during or after your service. This is a very flexible program that can also be passed onto a surviving spouse as long as certain conditions are met. Other financial benefits focus on education and life insurance. For education, your spouse and children

may be eligible under the VA education benefits program (Chapter 35), which provides two core benefits under the GI Bill. The first is for survivors and children of any service member that died in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001, also known as the ‘Fry Scholarship.’ The second is called the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program which is for members who may have perished or be permanently disabled. Both programs allow recipients to cover the cost of education or retraining. Next, LGBTQ service members can leverage the military life insurance system to receive improved rates and coverage limits without having to jump through extra hoops. It pays to start coverage while in service, but even when you leave service you have some great flexibility to maximize these benefits for your family. Lastly, while somber, this is an extremely important benefit - the ability to appoint your surviving spouse to receive your flag after burial and subsequently, their right to be buried with you in a military sponsored cemetery. Today, it seems crazy to think that this was not a right afforded to us before, but it truly was not that long ago. As we celebrate our veterans, I want to thank the generations of LGBTQ service members, both active and retired, who served our nation while not enjoying the same rights as we do today.

Alex Graham is a Principal at Graham Capital Wealth Management, a registered Investment Advisor located on K Street. Reach him at 202-780-7726 or Alex.Graham@ grahamcapitalwealth.com.

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LGBTQ divorce – who gets the marital home?

Tackling the complicated task of untangling two lives By JEFF HAMMERBERG

Divorce is difficult. There’s no way around that simple truth. While members of the gay community across the country have understandably rejoiced in the hardfought and much deserved right to marry those whom they love, divorce is another side to that coin that certainly provides less cause for rejoicing. Sometimes, divorce is inevitable, and it is the best choice for the couple involved, but it is not without heartache and a certain amount of stress for everyone involved. After all, taking two lives that have become intertwined and separating them again can often be a complicated and messy process. During a divorce, emotions run high and issues between the couple can become contentious. While pain and conflict usually can’t be avoided entirely, there are steps that couples can take to help reduce the stress associated with divorce. One of those steps is planning ahead. Looking realistically and pragmatically at the issues you face and making decisions you can both agree upon is an important part of making a complicated process a bit less so. As couples facing divorce look at the issues before them, often one of the biggest issues to decide upon is what to do with the marital home. In many divorce situations, for LBGTQ and straight couples alike, the home that the couple shares is one of their most valuable assets. As a result, deciding what to do with it – who will stay, who will leave, or whether the couple will sell the home and split the proceeds can be a difficult decision. It is one that couples should think about carefully, however, and after making a decision, take the necessary steps to protect their legal rights. When deciding what to do with the marital home, one of two things typically happens: One spouse keeps the home and the other moves out; The couple sells the home. While there are certainly other options that are pursued (the couple may rent the home, for example, or use it in some other mutually agreed-upon manner), these are

the two most commonly pursued routes. Regardless of which option you and your spouse choose, it is important to understand the ramifications of that decision, and to take the proper steps to ensure that your intentions are effectively carried out. If one spouse chooses to keep the home, it is important to take the following steps: Executing a quitclaim deed: The spouse who is not keeping the home must generally execute a quitclaim deed at the conclusion of the divorce process. A quitclaim deed awards the interest of one spouse in the home to the other. Revising the mortgage: Unless the marital home is paid off, most married couples that own a home together have a mortgage that is in the name of both spouses. If you are no longer going to live in the home, it is important to ensure that your name is removed from the mortgage. There are various ways to accomplish this, but most often, the spouse who is keeping the home can refinance the mortgage and remove the other spouse’s name when doing so. If the spouse who is remaining in the home has excellent credit, then that spouse might be able to assume the mortgage in their name only. The spouses should also consider entering into an “assumption agreement” – through this agreement, one spouse can remove the name of the other spouse from the mortgage and take over payment of the mortgage under its initial terms without having to pay the costs and fees associated with refinancing. Contacting an attorney: The importance of this step cannot be stressed enough. Even if you think you have taken the necessary steps to remove your name (or your spouse’s name as the case may be) from the mortgage, it is always wise to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in the applicable law to be certain. Some parties neglect to account for the mortgage in their divorce settlement, which can ultimately result in a situation in the future where the spouse who has moved out discovered that their name is still on the mortgage. If this is the case, it can be possible that when the spouse who has moved out goes to buy another home or vehicle, they are told that their income-to-debt ratio is too high to do so. Even worse, the spouse who keeps the home may fall behind or fail entirely to make the mortgage payments. If the spouse who moved out remains on the mortgage, this can


hurt his or her credit rating as well. For all of these reasons, it is a smart decision to speak with an attorney who understands the law, and the steps to take to protect your rights and your financial future. If you elect, as a couple, for one spouse to remain in the home, then it is important to follow the foregoing steps to ensure that both of you ultimately achieve the outcome you are seeking. Selling the Home If, on the other hand, you and your spouse decide that the best option is to sell your home, you will need to begin working cooperatively together toward that goal. After preparing your home for the market, it will be necessary to find a realtor who can work well with both of you, and who is a good fit for your personalities and goals for the sale of your home. For the LGBTQ community, choosing a realtor may taken on added layers of consideration in terms of finding someone who understands not only your goals in selling your home, but also any plans you may have for your future residence after the divorce. Certainly, not everyone in the LGBTQ community makes living in the most actively gay community their number one priority, but everyone wants to live somewhere where they feel as if they are an accepted, valued, and active part of the social life around them. An experienced realtor will be able to help you find a community where you truly feel connected as you begin a new chapter of your life after your divorce. A Note for Unmarried Couples Having set out these important steps for married couples who are divorcing to take if one spouse chooses to remain in the home, we would be remiss not to recognize that in our modern world, people live many kind of lifestyles – while it may suit one couple best to marry, other couples choose not to marry, for any number of reasons. These relationships, too, unfortunately sometimes come to an end. In these cases, the situation with respect to how to handle the home that the couple shared may turn out slightly differently. Certainly, if one member of the couple has his or her name solely on the mortgage and was responsible for paying that mortgage entirely, that person is the person with the legal right to the home, and the person who will most likely remain there. If your name is not on the mortgage and you have not made documented

contributions to the mortgage payment, then legally you are without much claim to remain there. Alternatively, some couples who are unmarried and have not yet been together long enough to have a common law marriage do still make the decision to purchase property together. In that situation, if both individuals have their name on the deed, the sale of the home would typically result in 50% of the proceeds going to each partner. In other cases, unmarried couples choose to make the same decision as married couples do, with one partner assuming the mortgage and the other partner executing a quitclaim deed or assumption agreement. In other circumstances, however, some couples remain together for so long that they are in fact considered “married” in the eyes of the law. While not all states recognize common law marriage, many do. In this situation, if both partners have their name on the deed, they would proceed either with selling the home, or with one partner assuming the interest in the home upon separation. If, however, the property is only in the name of one party, a battle may ensue upon separation, unless the party whose name is not on the deed can establish that a common intention existed between the two that each party would be entitled to a share in the property. Proving common intention can be difficult without having those intentions expressed in writing, or without evidence that both parties contributed to the purchase price, mortgage payments, and maintenance of the property. Certainly, contacting an attorney with knowledge and experience of the law would be a wise decision for those who find themselves in this situation.

Jeff Hammerberg is the founding CEO of GayRealEstate. com, which is committed to connecting members of the LGBTQ community with Realtors we know personally, and have investigated and interviewed extensively, to ensure a smooth real estate experience. While divorce may not be easy, buying and selling your home with an experienced agent can be. Jeff can be reached via phone at 888-420-MOVE (6683), e-mail: manager@gayrealestate. com, or on FB at gayrealestate.

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