Washingtonblade.com, Volume 50, Issue 46, November 15, 2019

Page 1


MAYOR PETE The Blade joins Buttigieg for a journey across Iowa, PAGE 13


A preview of holiday shows, PAGE 26

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The Blade’s Chris Johnson was among a handful of reporters who rode Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign bus across Iowa last weekend. PAGE 13


Blade 50th Sponsors




Strong support for


Holiday show time!

Check It building purchase


Queery: Ruben J. Gonzales


New Baltimore Eagle ‘to drip sex’


DJ Honey to spin


Re-elected College Park mayor


In the hot seat

discusses politics, future plans


New series launch: Game Changers

Several parties protesting new


On Gossamer wings?

Town nightclub liquor license


Bienvenue a Paris gay


On the bus with Mayor Pete


Auto-themed holiday gifts


Hong Kong reaffirmed as host


D.C. market becoming more balanced

city for 2022 Gay Games


Pepco’s Robbie Atkins on



Students, former faculty keep the faith after Catholic high school firings




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Strong support for Check It building purchase D.C. Attorney General KARL A. RACINE’s office launched a new Civil Rights Section earlier this year.

D.C. Mayor MURIEL BOWSER and U.S. Del. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D-D.C.) cut a red ribbon for the grand opening of Check It Enterprises in Southeast D.C. in 2017. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

More than 20 Ward 8 community leaders joined an official with the mayor’s office as witnesses at a D.C. Council hearing on Nov. 6 to express support for a bill calling for the city to provide a $2 million grant to help the LGBT youth-run company Check It Enterprises to purchase the buildings it currently rents. D.C. Council member Robert White, who introduced the bill, told the hearing before the Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development, that the three small buildings in the heart of the city’s Anacostia neighborhood that Check It Enterprises rents, two of which they sublease to other community organizations, are on the market for sale. He said that in a rapidly gentrifying area of the city, the LGBT-operated business is in danger of being displaced like many other neighborhood businesses, making it difficult for it to relocate in an area where it can continue to serve the Anacostia community, including LGBT youth who live in the area. “Check It Enterprises is a small, District business founded by a group of young people and former Check It LGBTQ gang members,” White said in a statement. He noted the group now operates a clothing manufacturing and sales business specializing in T-shirts and other apparel. “Check It went from being a gang engaged in violent and destructive behavior to a business using their headquarters as a home for community activities,” he said, adding that it “fosters entrepreneurship and is a safe space for LGBTQ youth.” White and witnesses who testified at the hearing pointed out that in addition to selling fashion apparel, Check It Enterprises uses its headquarters at 19181922 Martin Luther King Ave., S.E. to teach young people about the fashion industry through silk screening and sewing classes. Other witnesses, including Star Bennett, its CEO and co-founder, and Ron Moten, managing member and co-founder who serves as adviser to the youth members, told the hearing Check It also provides space for new businesses and essential services to the surrounding community, including sex education classes, a vegetable garden, community meeting space, and a resource center that links youth to counseling and other mental and emotional support services. White noted that Check It members have been featured in the National Portrait Gallery and are the subject of a 2016 documentary film. Among those who testified in support of the bill was Sarosh Olpadwala, director of Real Estate at the Office of the D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. A spokesperson for Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who chairs the Business and Economic Development Committee, said McDuffie and committee members would soon decide the next step for the bill. During the hearing, McDuffie expressed strong support for Check It and its members. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

D.C. att’y gen’l highlights anti-LGBT violence

Trans activist Earline Budd recovering from surgery

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine on Nov. 6 released a report highlighting what he calls “key civil rights concerns” of city residents, including concerns about housing discrimination, racism, and “bias-motivated violence against the LGBTQ+ community.” The report, Community Voices: Perspectives on Civil Rights in the District of Columbia, “summarizes input received at five community listening sessions about ways in which discrimination can limit access to opportunities in housing, employment, and education, and can lead to physical, emotional, and economic harms,” the AG’s Office said in a statement. “Residents are concerned about increases in bias-motivated violence, harassment, and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals,” the statement released by the AG’s Office says. “Sixteen percent of respondents were most concerned about discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, which was second only to racial discrimination,” the statement says. “Attendees spoke about discrimination and harassment they faced in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including the inability to access a gender-appropriate restroom,” it says. Racine has said that in response to reports of ongoing bias and discrimination in the District, his office in April launched a new Civil Rights Section, which includes four attorneys and one investigator. Among other things, he said, the new section will file lawsuits to challenge discrimination. The report can be accessed via oag. dc.gov. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Longtime D.C. transgender rights advocate Earline Budd stated in an email to LGBT community members and the media on Monday that she continues her month-long recuperation from surgery she underwent last month. In an open letter thanking two women from local community groups who came to her house to help her with household chores, Budd added, “Also, today I am feeling better but still have ups and downs from surgery. What I know today is that I will eventually be able to have the quality of life that I have wanted for a long time, and give back in a way that no one will ever know.” Budd told the Blade before undergoing surgery in October that she was having a bariatric sleeve surgical procedure for weight loss. “It has been seen as a safe process but because of my high risk with other things going on it raises a concern,” she said. I had to think hard and long as to whether I wanted to go through with it and decided that I wanted a better quality of life and have the ability to be more mobile,” she told the Blade. In her open email letter on Monday, Budd stated, “Thanks to everyone who has stopped by and the many calls of well wishes. I love you all and see you on Nov. 20th at MCCDC, 474 Ridge Street, N.W., 6-9 pm for the greatest TDOR 2019 event ever.” She was referring to the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event that Budd has organized each year for the past several years. It will be held at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

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New Baltimore Eagle ‘to drip sex’ Original founder returns to re-launch bar with nod to rich leather history FROM STAFF REPORTS

From top: Baltimore Eagle founder TOM KIPLE, now 76, was enticed out of retirement to reopen the bar this week. Photo courtesy Kiple and The Baltimore Eagle reopens Nov. 15 with multiple spaces for discreet encounters. Washington Blade photo by Chris Jennings

This is your father’s Eagle. Baltimore’s LGBTQ nightlife scene is about to get a much needed boost as the Eagle reopens on Nov. 15. And if you’re looking for disco balls and Taylor Swift remixes, look elsewhere. In a nod to the rich tradition of Eagle bars across the country, Baltimore’s renovated and reinvented venue includes plenty of dark nooks for discreet encounters, along with red “crotch lights” newly installed under the bar. That’s not to say the bar and restaurant aren’t welcoming to all. There’s a convivial sports bar at the front of the space; but as you walk deeper into the cavernous building, the lights get dimmer, the decor more risqué and ultimately a dress code will be enforced.

The design and the emphasis on leather tradition are the work of Thomas Kiple, the new owner of the business and the original founder of the Baltimore Eagle in 1991. Kiple, 76, was enticed out of retirement by the building’s straight owners, Charles and Ian Parrish (father and son), to return to Baltimore from Florida and oversee the Eagle’s restoration. Why would Kiple leave a tropical retirement to tackle a challenging business venture following the failure of two previous ownership groups at the same location? “Because leather is my life,” he says, noting he got his start in the leather scene at age 16 thanks to an interest in motorcycles. “The Eagle is my baby, I invented it and I’m bringing it back.”

Kiple is indeed a pioneering figure in the leather scene, joining the Spartan Motorcycle Club in 1978. He first retired from a career in TV and radio in his 50s and wanted something more. So in 1991, he started Baltimore’s first leather bar, the Eagle, at the same location where it reopens this week, at 21st and Charles streets. He sold the original Eagle in 1996 and moved to Tampa, where he opened that city’s Eagle. Two years later, he bought a hotel/resort in St. Petersburg, Fla., and opened the world’s largest gay resort, the SunCoast, which he operated for 10 years before selling and retiring again. Earlier this year, after a second iteration of the Eagle closed, Kiple’s phone rang. And rang another 25 times, he says. It was the Parrishes, seeking advice and ultimately an operator for the business. When they agreed to his conditions for some key renovations to the building, Kiple was in, along with David Lessner, who returns as the Eagle’s new general manager. Lessner was the first bartender Kiple hired for the original Eagle in 1991. Kiple takes leather culture seriously and demands respect from patrons for his bar. To that end, the Eagle plans to offer classes in leather history and culture. While the front of the new space will be a sports bar welcoming to all regardless of attire and featuring large TVs and a pool table, a dress code will be enforced in other sections. Passing through the sports area, visitors will find comfortable seating, the kitchen, which will turn out classic pub fare, then a long hallway with a large chalkboard and newly installed drink rails along the walls. There’s an outdoor smoking area, known as the “Cockpit,” a narrow alley covered by a parachute strung above. Another large outdoor patio will feature a new bar, along with a freshly painted Eagle logo, camouflage netting above and an upstairs deck. Continue down the hallway inside and you come to a door for the “Toolbox” area where patrons must be in leather, Levi’s or “skin.” Inside, there’s another bar, a cage on the floor topped with plexiglass; look up and you’ll see perhaps the world’s largest lighted penis running the length of the room. Titillated? We’re not done yet.

At the back of that room is another door to the “Bunkhouse,” an even darker area that houses a jail cell (a popular fundraising game in which someone is locked up and released only after a certain amount of money has been raised for his bail, which goes to charity). Also in this area is a St. Andrew’s Cross behind curtain number one; curtain number two reveals a locker room motif. There’s another door leading to an upstairs cruise bar called the “Pig Pen,” which wasn’t open yet on a recent Blade tour of the building. Strict leather dress code will apply to that space. The 10,000-square-foot building will ultimately offer a quieter upstairs speakeasy lounge with comfy leather couches and a large event space with stage. Kiple says the adjoining building, which the Parrishes also own, will eventually bring another 3,000 square feet of space to include a leather store and expanded events space. But the key to success? “This place has got to drip sex,” Kiple says. And there lies the advantage of a brick-and-mortar bar over the Internet and apps that continue to challenge traditional gay bars and other businesses. “The Internet has taken a chunk of the business, but there will always be a need for a place to go,” he says. “The thrill of the chase and being conquered — you don’t get that on the Internet.” The Baltimore Eagle, 2022 N. Charles St., will be open 7 days/week, 365 days/ year starting Nov. 15. There will be happy hour specials. As for security, Kiple says there will be a door person, plentiful outdoor lighting and valet parking is planned. He emphasizes that women are welcome. “My bar was the first to have a Ms. Leather contest,” he notes. The bar is also open to those 18 years and older with the caveat that underage customers will be banned if caught trying to order alcohol. Kiple would like the younger generation to feel welcome and to learn the leather lifestyle. “This is here for our community and I take that very seriously,” he says, adding that he hopes D.C.’s leather aficionados will make the trip up I-95. “Baltimore and Washington are growing together more and more and we need an active leather community in both cities.”

10 • WA S HI NGTON BL A DE.CO M • N OV EM B ER 1 5 , 2 0 1 9 • LO CAL N EW S

Re-elected College Park mayor discusses politics, future plans By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

College Park Mayor PATRICK WOJAHN Photo courtesy of Patrick Wojahn

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Fresh from his landslide victory, the gay mayor of College Park on Monday sat down with the Washington Blade in an artsy coffeehouse near the University of Maryland campus which was recently converted from a liquor store. Patrick Wojahn said the change represented “a sense of culture we’re trying to promote,” blending in so well with his full beard and youthful look of which many students who were in the packed venue took little notice. “We’re trying to get away from an alcoholbased culture here in College Park,” he said. Though he grew up in northeastern Wisconsin surrounded by the timber industry and dairy farms, he identified very closely with the students and other residents of this small college town. “Going to college in Madison enabled me to come out,” Wojahn explained. “The university is the first time that a lot of people leave home and are able to explore who they are.” The coming out process began for Wojahn when he traveled to Germany during his junior year in high school. When he returned home, he knew “there was no going back.” “I knew that I would be coming out at some point,” he said. The question was how and when.” The when would be when he was 21 after he traveled to Moscow his junior year in college. He saw the post-Soviet LGBTQ community emerge as antisodomy laws were repealed and other

legal protections became enacted. “Unfortunately, things have very much regressed since then,” Wojahn pointed out, but witnessing those early successes helped him see what was possible for the community through political action and determination. He left Madison for D.C. in 1999 to attend law school at Georgetown. There, at what was once a coffee shop next to a gay club called Badlands, he met his future husband. “Dave is a little mischievous,” Wojahn said with a small smile. “He noticed me checking him out and he allowed this to happen for quite a while, wanting to see how long it would go. I was a little shy back then.” Dave finally came over and the two ended up talking for four hours. They started dating and when things grew serious, they decided to buy a house together in College Park and in the same county where Dave grew up. “We were excited about the idea of living in a college town,” said Wojahn. “So, we looked around and the first house we found in our price range was the one we live in now.” It was not too long after moving to Maryland that Wojahn found himself caught up in the state’s battle for LGBTQ rights. “Shortly after we moved here, I met with Dan Furmansky,” Wojahn explained, referring to the one-time executive director of Equality Maryland, which is now FreeState Justice. “He said they were looking for people to tell their stories and how the inability to get married impacted their lives.” CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM


Va. activists pin hopes on Democrat-controlled General Assembly By MICHAEL K. LAVERS MLAVERS@WASHBLADE.COM Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish on Tuesday said he remains hopeful a Democrat-control General Assembly will increase odds that LGBTQ rights bills will finally become law. “Opportunity with new leadership is here,” Parrish told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview. “It’s really going to present a lot of great opportunities to make Virginia an inclusive and welcoming place for LGBT people.” Parrish spoke with the Blade a week after Democrats regained control of the General Assembly for the first time since the 1990s. The addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to Virginia’s Fair Housing Act and the introduction of a bill that would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment and public accommodations are among Equality Virginia’s legislative priorities once the General Assembly reconvenes in January. Parrish told the Blade his organization will also continue its efforts to ban so-called conversion therapy for minors in Virginia and enact policies that protect transgender students in public schools. The Virginia Senate earlier this year once again passed bills that sought to ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in housing and public employment, but the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates blocked them. Parrish said Equality Virginia is having “ongoing” conversations with incoming House Majority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) and other new Democratic leadership. “It’s hopeful for the wonderful opportunity,” Parrish told the Blade, referring to LGBTQ Virginians. Carl Johansen, chair of Equality Virginia’s board of directors, echoed Parrish’s optimism. “A majority of Virginians support equal rights for LGBTQ+ Virginians,” Johansen told the Blade on Tuesday. “We look forward to passing LGBTQ+ protections in the workplace and housing, etc., in 2020.” Parrish said Equality Virginia will also work with the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom for All Americans to spur passage of the nondiscrimination bill — which would be similar to the Equality Act that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights laws — in the General Assembly. HRC National Press Secretary Lucas Acosta on Nov. 7 told reporters during a conference call with Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock and representatives of other progressive groups the Virginia election results sent “a powerful message.” “For far too long, anti-LGBTQ politicians have had a chokehold on Virginia’s legislative process,” he said. “In January LGBTQ Virginians will wake up for an entirely pro-equality legislative leadership for the first time ever,” added Acosta. Republicans ‘don’t understand what Va. looks like in 2019’ HRC invested more than $250,000 in Virginia to help elect pro-LGBTQ candidates to the General Assembly. The LGBTQ Victory Fund is among the other organizations that worked in the state ahead of last week’s 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 re-election. Roem made history as the first openly trans state legislator re-elected. Family Foundation Action, a Richmond-based anti-LGBTQ organization, 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 transition-related health care for trans policy providers. Roem, who defeated Republican Kelly McGinn by a 57-43 percent margin, during a post-election interview with the Blade did not rule out the possibility that she would introduce the measure herself in 2020. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

Several parties protesting new Town nightclub liquor license D.C. board dismisses challenge from nearby high school, church By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM

The John and Jill Ker Conway Residence apartment building, which abuts the vacant church building that Town wants to move into, is one of four parties that filed a protest against Town’s application for a nightclub license for the church building at 1001 North Capitol Street, NE. Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro Jr.

The owners and a group of tenants living in an apartment building for formerly homeless military veterans are among four parties calling on the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to deny a liquor license that would allow the LGBT nightclub Town Danceboutique to reopen in a former church on North Capitol Street. Also filing an official protest against the license application is Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C, which claims a nightclub at that location would have a negative impact on property values and on the “peace, order, and quiet” in the neighborhood. The Town owners announced plans in August to open a “spectacular” new club in a space inside the former St. Phillips Baptist Church at 1001 N. Capitol St., N.E. located about a half mile north of the U.S. Capitol. “After two full years of searching for a potential new space for a nightclub for the LGBTQ community, we are excited to confirm that we have found a space that has remarkable potential,” the Town owners announced in a Twitter post. The former church building in question abuts the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence

apartment building. The apartment building’s owners, North Capitol Commons Limited Partnership, say the building has 124 affordable apartments “with a specific focus on providing permanent housing for formerly homeless veterans of military service.” “We believe that the proposed use would have a negative effect on the peace, order, and quiet for the residents of the Ker Conway building, as well as in the immediate neighborhood, particularly North Capitol Street and K Street,” the company says in a Sept. 23 letter to the ABC Board opposing the Town license application. The church building where the Town owners plan to reopen the nightclub is surrounded mostly by commercial establishments and office buildings on all sides except for the one attached immediately to its left, the John and Jill Ker Conway Residences. In addition to ANC 6C and the owners of the Conway Residences building, a group of tenants of the Conway Residence building and a group of D.C. residents calling themselves “long time members of Mount Airy Baptist Church,” located one

block away from where the new nightclub would be located, filed separate protest petitions opposing the license application. Meanwhile, the ABC Board dismissed two other protest petitions filed by Mount Airy Baptist Church itself and by nearby Gonzaga College High School, which is a Catholic school. The board stated in its ruling that neither the school nor the church have legal standing to protest a liquor license application unless they are an “abutting property” of the building where the nightclub license is being proposed. In a Sept. 23 letter requesting permission to file its protest, Gonzaga officials cited a D.C. law that “generally precludes” nightclubs from operating within 400 feet of any public, parochial, or private elementary, middle, or high school. The Gonzaga officials noted that their school is within that 400-foot restricted zone. But Jared Powell, a spokesperson for the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, of which the ABC Board is a part, told the Washington Blade that the same D.C. law also states the 400foot restriction does not apply if another establishment with a similar liquor license already exists within 400 feet of a school. Powell noted that another nightclub called Club Elevate, located at 15 K St., N.E., is currently operating within 400 feet of Gonzaga College High School. He said that Gonzaga also holds its own Class C Tavern license. Thus he said the proposed LGBTQ nightclub is exempt from the 400-foot restriction. “While Gonzaga itself currently holds a D.C. Tavern License, it is reserved for several alumni and parent-focused special events per year,” the Gonzaga officials said in their protest letter. In its protest letter, which the ABC Board

dismissed, Mount Airy Baptist Church says it provides substance abuse services to people who live and visit the neighborhood where the nightclub plans to open. Town has been credited with operating as a highly professional and neighborhood friendly nightclub during the 10 years it operated at 2009 8th St., N.W. It closed its door on July 1, 2018 after the warehouse building it rented was sold to real estate developers. In their Twitter statement in August announcing plans to reopen as Town 2.0 on North Capitol Street in the former church building, the town owners stated, “we are going to take all the right steps, forge all the right relationships, and tackle the engineering challenges…and hopefully soon, we will be able to bring something new and exciting back to Washington’s nightlife.” On Wednesday, Nov. 6, the ABC Board held a Protest Status Hearing for the Town license application, which was limited to scheduling and procedural issues. ABC Board Chairperson Donovan Anderson urged the parties protesting the license and Town’s owners to continue a board requirement that the opposing parties engage in negotiations in an attempt to reach a settlement agreement. Town co-owner John Guggenmos, who’s also an ANC commissioner and who attended the hearing with Town’s attorney, told the Blade after the hearing that Town worked well with its neighbors at its previous location and expects to do the same at the proposed new location. “We have a great track record and we’re good operators,” he said. The full Protest Hearing itself is scheduled to be held before the ABC Board on Dec. 4.

1 year later, gay Baltimore man’s murder remains unsolved A spokesperson for the Baltimore Police Department last week said the murder of a gay man who was found dead in his apartment a year ago remains unsolved. Police officers and firefighters found Brendon Michaels dead inside his home on Saint Paul Street on Nov. 8, 2018. Michaels’ death was ruled a “homicide from trauma.” Michaels, 43, grew up in Carroll County. He graduated from Carroll Community College in 1998 with an associate degree in arts and sciences. The school hired Michaels as a full-time fitness instructor in 1999. He was named coordinator of the Carroll Community College Fitness Center in 2008 and became a certified personal trainer in 2014. Michaels in 2011 won $50,000 in the Maryland lottery. “Homicide detectives are still working this case,” Det. Donny Moses of the Baltimore Police Department told the Washington Blade. “As of yet, no persons of interest or suspects have been identified.” Anyone with information on Michaels’ murder is asked to call the Baltimore Police Department at 410-396-2100 or send a message to its text-for-tip line at 443-902-4824. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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On the bus with Mayor Pete Buttigieg electrifies crowds in Iowa as new polls show him taking the lead By CHRIS JOHNSON CJOHNSON@WASHBLADE.COM

Mayor PETE BUTTIGIEG’s Iowa bus tour last week included stops at a fish fry. The Blade was among a handful of media outlets invited along for the ride. Washington Blade photo by Chris Johnson

CHARLES CITY, Iowa — He’d been going for days, fielding endless queries from voters at campaign stops on everything from health care and gun control to whether he plays Dungeons & Dragons. (He doesn’t, but plays board games like Risk.) But asked pointedly whether evangelicals would ever back a gay candidate, Pete Buttigieg didn’t miss a beat. “I’m from Indiana, right?” he said to laughter in the crowd. “I know a little bit about what you’re talking about.” Over the course of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s three-day campaign bus tour across Iowa, there was no escaping the realization the 2020 presidential hopeful is gay. But it wasn’t because Buttigieg was wearing his sexual orientation on his sleeve, or waving a rainbow Pride flag on stage at his rallies. It wasn’t because he hectored his audience to back his candidacy based on the unprecedented nature of an openly gay presidential contender in the race for the Democratic nomination. It was because the audience kept bringing it up and cheered him on for it. Coming off his success at the Liberty & Justice Celebration for Democratic presidential candidates on Nov. 1, Buttigieg lit up crowds over the course of his campaign tour — and being an openly gay candidate was a big part of that welcome reception.

After long bus rides with views of cornfields and big Iowa skies, LGBTQ issues and the prospect of having a gay man in the White House were brought up by the audience, not by the 37-year-old presidential hopeful, in four of the five public events on Buttigieg’s tour. At Charles City, Buttigieg recounted his story of coming out. In June 2015, as Buttigieg was running for re-election as mayor of South Bend, he disclosed his sexual orientation for the first time publicly in an essay for the South Bend Tribune. “As hard as it was for me deciding what to do when I came out — and it was an election year by the way, we didn’t know what the effect was going to be — I just knew in my life, it was time,” Buttigieg said. “And what happened was I got reelected with 80 percent of the vote, even in Indiana when Mike Pence was governor of our state.” The audience ate it up, responding with applause and cheers that lasted several seconds. Building off that response, Buttigieg made a joke involving Chasten Buttigieg, his now husband whom he married last year. “He couldn’t get through the milk aisle at the grocery without hearing about potholes and all these things,” Buttigieg continued, in a seeming attempt to make his family life more relatable. “We invited people to treat us like any other couple, and 99 times out of 100, they did.”


That’s where Buttigieg made his shift. Run-of-the-mill issues like potholes, he said, are what Americans are concerned about, not the prospects of a gay couple in the White House. “What I’m finding is the real question on voters’ minds is how their lives are going to be different when I’m president versus the one we’ve got, or one of the competitors,” he said. Buttigieg conceded he’s “happy to tell my story and I’m proud of who I am,” but wants to focus on the bread-andbutter issues Americans are facing. “This is part of how we break the spell of the current president: It’s not all about me, it’s not all about him, though there are many things we might point out about his deficiencies,” Buttigieg said. “But the more we’re talking about him or me the less we’re talking about you. And when we’re talking about you, we’re winning, because we’ve got the right answers for our lives.” That answer struck a chord with attendees, who responded with cheers and applause. It also exemplifies the way Buttigieg approached the issue of being gay on his campaign tour: Wait for the audience to bring it up, acknowledge it, stand for applause then shift back to bread-and-butter issues or the main campaign message. It would be a historic first having an openly gay president, and that’s inspiring supporters in the same way the idea of electing the first black president helped Barack Obama and the idea of sending a woman to the White House helped Hillary Clinton. William Reinicke, a 19-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who came to hear Buttigieg speak at a fish fry event in Cedar Rapids, said the South Bend mayor is his No. 1 choice for president because he “represents generational change,” and being openly gay is one aspect of that. “I think that’s a plus in the sense that it shows that no matter what your background is, no matter what your orientation is, that you can make it to whatever level possible that there is in this country,” Reinicke said. The most powerful example of this phenomenon — and perhaps the most highly publicized in the media — was

the last question Buttigieg took at a rally Saturday evening in Decorah, where an audience member — through a note passed to a campaign staffer — asked how he’d deal with international leaders from countries “like Saudi Arabia and Russia, where it’s illegal to be gay.” “So, they’re going to have to get used to it,” Buttigieg said succinctly. A full 27 seconds of applause followed. It was the loudest and longest applause for any response that night. Other responses from the crowd of 1,000 to Buttigieg’s lines about action on guns and removing President Trump from the White House were loud, but didn’t come close. Although Buttigieg cautioned, “we can’t intervene in every country and make them be good to their people,” he said his election as president would have an impact on LGBTQ people overseas. “I do believe that one big step forward would be for a country like the United States to be led by somebody that people in those other countries can look to and know that they’re not alone,” Buttigieg concluded. Buttigieg, asked by the Blade on the campaign trail whether he’s surprised being gay has energized his crowds, said he’s seen a lot of older individuals “who have a kid or maybe a niece or nephew who comes out and is gay and trans” seeking to have a better understanding of LGBTQ people. “This campaign has helped that,” Buttigieg said. “So, it’s not only that it, I think, sends a message in particular a lot of youth that they belong and they have a place, but also for a lot of adults with relationships with LGBTQ youth, and then of course a lot of people from an older generation who are LGBTQ just never thought they’d live to see this day.” Buttigieg added, “It has been striking to me how many people it touches in different ways.” He’s certainly connecting with Iowans. A Quinnipiac poll published on Nov. 7 found he’s essentially tied in the state with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) among likely Iowa caucus-goers. Warren has support from 20 percent, followed by Buttigieg at 19 percent, Sen. Bernie CO N T I N U E S ON PAGE 1 6

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For Buttigieg, being gay a boost on the campaign trail CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13 Sanders (I-Vt.) at 17 percent and former Vice President Joseph Biden at 15 percent. And a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday shows Buttigieg atop the field in Iowa with 22 percent support, followed by Biden at 19, Warren with 18 and Sanders with 13 percent. Faith and passion Of course, being gay isn’t the only personal attribute inspiring Buttigieg’s supporters, many of whom are also impressed with his credentials at just 37 years old. After all, Buttigieg is a Harvardeducated Rhodes scholar who’s also an Afghanistan war veteran and a former McKinsey management consultant. For Linda Langston, a 66-year-old former member of the Lake County Board of Supervisors who attended a Cedar Rapids fish fry wearing a “Pete 2020” campaign sticker, Buttigieg’s sexual orientation is no big deal. “It’s fine,” Langston said. “I mean, my oldest son is gay, so I get it, but that is not what to me is the defining factor, the defining factor is that he’s a really bright, articulate person who has served his country in war, and can come back and speak with hard faith and passion.” Cindy Schubert, a 73-year-old Iowa voter who showed up on a Monday afternoon for a meet-and-greet with Buttigieg in Algona, Iowa, brought up the candidate’s youth when asked by the Blade if he’s championing any issues she supports. “I guess I like the fact that he’s very energetic and young, you know, but at the same time, I’m learning towards Joe because of his experience,” Schubert said. “So I’m really torn.” Although the meet-and-greet event in Algona, hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, attracted an older crowd than Buttigieg’s usual audiences, Schubert said he’s “got a lot of support in this community.” “I think he’s got more support than anybody else,” Schubert said. But Buttigieg’s youth cuts both ways in the Democratic primary, as evidenced by a recent New York Times article on Buttigieg indicating his gushing press and expansive donor base are riling his Democratic rivals, who say he’s inexperienced. At a subsequent rally in Spencer, Buttigieg sought to allay concerns about

his youth and inexperience in response to a question from an attendee. “It’s true that I have not been marinating around Capitol Hill,” Buttigieg said. “I’d argue that might be a virtue at a time like this.” Following applause, Buttigieg said he does have experience “on the ground, dealing with problems as a mayor.” “And one of the things about being a mayor is you are on the ground getting stuff done, we deal with some of the biggest and toughest issues in the country from infrastructure, economic development, from disasters, to getting the 3 a.m. phone call, to planning for the long run racial issues all the way through to infrastructure underground,” Buttigieg said. To laughter, Buttigieg continued, “You don’t get to call fake news if somebody says that the snow didn’t get plowed, either it did or it didn’t. People are going to know.” At times, the connection between Buttigieg’s supporters and the gay presidential candidate was poignant, such as when the campaign tour came to Mason City. On one hand, the city has the distinction of being the town on which “River City” in the classic musical “Music Man” is based and the site where the rock ‘n roll pioneers Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly met their end in a plane crash in 1959. On the other hand, Mason City was also the first stop on the Buttigieg tour within the congressional district of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whose notoriously antiLGBTQ views have animated his career and whom Congress recently censured for comments in favor of white nationalism. LGBTQ people knew about King long before he expressed white nationalism sympathies. Among other things, King in 2010 successfully led the effort to oust by referendum three judges from the Iowa Supreme Court who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Nonetheless, in his stop in King’s district, an audience member presented Buttigieg with an LGBTQ question: What would he do for LGBTQ youth? ‘I was alone’ In response, Buttigieg said winning marriage equality nationwide four years ago “doesn’t mean the job is done,” pointing to the importance of passing federal LGBTQ comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation known as the

Equality Act. “It’s a basic matter of fairness, it’s the right thing to do, and I will sign it when it gets to my desk,” Buttigieg added to loud hoots and applause. Buttigieg pointed out an estimated 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ and said LGBTQ kids are more likely to have mental health problems and commit suicide. “We got to make sure that we wrap around young people with compassion,” Buttigieg said to applause. His response included a personal touch. “There were exactly zero out students at my high school,” Buttigieg said. “I was starting to realize I was different, I was alone, and you need to know you’re not alone, you’re not the only one and everybody in the name of compassion ought to support that.” As he wrapped up in Mason City, Buttigieg said he could embrace policies to advance LGBTQ rights all day long, but emphasized the importance of belonging — a core general message of his campaign. “It’s not just policy,” Buttigieg said. “It’s about the example we send, and the message we send. The message we send is you belong and we love you, and we want to belong.” Buttigieg once again followed the pattern of embracing support for LGBTQ identity before moving to a more general theme, this time with an emotional, almost biblical, appeal that seemed well suited for the audience. And again, Buttigieg won resounding applause. Among the attendees at the Mason City event was Adam Lewis, a 41-year-old social worker who’s gay and volunteers for the Buttigieg campaign. “He just magnetic,” Lewis said, “and I wanted to make sure that as many people as I know could also hear him because I know as soon as you hear him and hear his values and what he stands for, and how he’s going to make sure that everyone belongs in this campaign, that’s all they need to hear.” Lewis, who said the results of the 2016 election “didn’t make sense” to him, said living in King’s district makes Buttigieg a breath of fresh air simply because he’s “someone reasonable, and not racist or homophobic.” “I think people fear change,” Lewis said. “I’m hoping that a lot has changed since the last election, and people are opening their eyes and realizing that we

have to have change. It’s not something to fear, it’s something we need.” Asked if having gay presidential candidate is important to him as a gay man, Lewis said, “it’s not that it’s not important, because who we are and who we love is a central to who we are as human beings,” but added there’s more to it. “It’s about bringing reason and responsibility back to Washington and letting a new generation of people fix the mess that was created over the last several decades,” Lewis said. After the Mason City event, Buttigieg told the Blade that finding a warm reception in conservative areas like King’s district is “really encouraging” and demonstrates the appeal of the Democratic Party’s views in unlikely places. “Part of what I think is really important is to let a lot of people who maybe think they’re the only one in their community or office of family or church pew who sympathizes with Democrats to realize they’re not the only ones, to kind of build a community around these values,” Buttigieg said. Buttigieg also said holding events in conservative areas builds off his theme of unity — a major message he’s articulated in his campaign. “It’s not that we’re going to get everyone to agree,” Buttigieg said. “It’s that there’s a lot more room for us to grow than you would think, but you got to show up, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s important for me to campaign in an area like this.” Trouble in the South The idea of a gay presidential candidate might not play as well in other early states in the Democratic primary. In fact, there’s good evidence being gay could hurt him in the South, which is essential territory for any candidate to secure the Democratic nomination. Late last month, The State, a South Carolina-based newspaper, published a memo on internal Buttigieg campaign focus groups indicating black voters in South Carolina find the candidate’s sexual orientation a barrier to supporting him. Additional stories were published in Politico and the New York Times to the same effect. Buttigieg told the Blade he doesn’t think his sexual orientation “has to be an obstacle” for black voters, but understands “there’s clearly a life journey within a lot of church communities, and a

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lot of generational dynamics.” Even though the issue isn’t going away, Buttigieg said he thinks he can deliver for black voters based on his policy positions, which include a “Douglass Plan” to rectify racial injustice. “I think voters, and in particular black voters who have felt both abused by the Republican Party, but also taken for granted by the Democratic Party, they just want to know if there are going to be results,” Buttigieg said. “And if I can demonstrate that, then a lot of the other stuff falls away.” Asked by the Blade whether the internal focus group published by the State was an authorized leak, Buttigieg denied it was the case. In response to another reporter’s question about whether similar focus groups were commissioned in other states, Buttigieg said he’ll “let others talk to focus group stuff.” Alvin McEwen, a South Carolinabased blogger who’s gay and black, said black voters in South Carolina are more concerned about Trump than Buttigieg and “would support” the candidate if he were the Democratic nominee. “This speculation about homosexuality and the black community is nothing more than a generalization about the black voter and our community in general,” McEwen added. There are nuances that people always miss. Not all black church folk oppose homosexuality. Some actually support the LGBTQ community. They are either LGBTQ or have LGBTQ relatives. They tend to be silent because the prevailing belief is that the black community is homophobic and they aren’t going to rock that boat.” Even on the Iowa trip, there was one instance where Buttigieg’s sexual orientation — as well as his youth — ended up being the elephant in the room as opposed to energizing his candidacy. At the Abby Finkenauer Fish Fry in Cedar Rapids, amid the pungent aroma in the air of fried food, an awkward moment ensued when the three union leaders who were moderating — three older men with a “no nonsense” vibe — asked him about infrastructure. Confessing he’s actually surprised Trump didn’t fulfill his pledge, Buttigieg said infrastructure is important, even the “less sexy” aspects like wastewater management. Coincidentally, one of the moderators for the discussion was representing the plumbers union and said wastewater was “pretty sexy.” Buttigieg shrugged it off with a laugh and said, “Oh yeah?” But the awkwardness continued when another moderator said he wanted to discuss the topic of bridge construction, which he said iron workers find “real sexy.”

Mayor PETE BUTTIGIEG is connecting with Iowans; a new Monmouth poll has him leading the Democratic pack with 22 percent support. Washington Blade photo by Chris Johnson

Touring an ethanol plant Donning a hard hat and blue goggles, Buttigieg inspected an ethanol plant in Mason City, including the laboratory and a room with computer screens monitoring the fermenters, asking questions about best practices and economic policies that would benefit the business. Promoting the facility, which mixes ethanol into petrol to extend its use, Golden Grain Commodity Manager Curt Strong touted exports and the plant’s enhanced environmental practices. Asked by the Blade during the tour how Trump’s trade wars were affecting business, Strong said the important thing is for Congress to pass the United StatesMexico-Canada trade deal, or USMCA, which he said would be a “great first step.” Otherwise, Strong said tariffs in China and Brazil were problematic. “So some of our bigger customers were penalizing us for shipping product to their countries where we could tell they wanted the product,” Strong said. “So the trade wars, it would be great to get them solved. It would be great for us to have a level playing field. But I think there’s a lot of negotiation that needs to go on there.” Concluding the presentation, Buttigieg said biofuels like those produced at Golden Grain could be part of American’s future, but “you got to have policy that supports that” as well as policy consistency. “And the added uncertainty that’s coming from this administration has just created more problems that really haven’t gotten folks here,” Buttigieg said. “Now you’re working around the uncertainty, you’re working through the regulation, but I got to think that it would be extraordinary to think of what could be unlocked if you had another 15 years ahead of you to innovate the way you did last 15 years without some of these things being thrown at you from Washington, D.C.”


On one occasion, Buttigieg broke his own pattern by bringing up his sexual orientation himself — during a forum on disabilities in Cedar Rapids. Touting his newly unveiled comprehensive plan for the disabled, which includes doubling employment among disabled people by 2030, Buttigieg brought up being gay no fewer than three times. Addressing the crowd of advocates for people with disabilities, Buttigieg said many Americans “have been put on the wrong fence of belonging” and he “felt this in one very particular way in my own life,” making an allusion to his sexual orientation without explicitly bringing it up. Asked about the high suicide rate, Buttigieg said he was glad the question came up because he belongs to “actually a couple communities — as a gay veteran — that remind me that there are some communities in America that are disproportionately liable to die by suicide.” Buttigieg also drew a comparison between LGBTQ people and people with disabilities, saying members of both communities cut across all demographics. “I reflected once as a member of the LGBT community, I thought, you know, one thing that’s really special about our community is it’s a minority that is kind of evenly distributed — as far as I can guess — across every geography and race and income group and family background and profession. And then, and then it was pointed out to me that that’s not just true of that community, that’s also true of the disability community.” As a result, Buttigieg said “at a moment when we are frighteningly fractured as a country,” the disabled community — like the LGBTQ community — is “an exceptionally diverse, internally diverse community” that can use its political forces to hold public officials accountable to its needs. “And I hope you find that the

opportunity to provide some of that crucial, knitting back together the social fabric of this country, that I, as I hopefully become president will be relying on the American people to do as we pick up the pieces that first day after the Trump presidency has come to an end,” Buttigieg said. Another exception was during a rally in Waverly, Iowa, when Buttigieg brought up his coming out story in response to a question from a young girl who asked him to name a time in his life he did something that was the right thing to do, but unexpected. It was also a time when Buttigieg most poignantly described his feelings behind his decision to come out in 2015. Initially, Buttigieg responded to the question by saying it was consistent with his expectation for candidates pursuing office, offering an idealistic vision for the values they should uphold. “That’s a really important quality for somebody running for office because that’s part of how you earn your paycheck when you’re in office,” Buttigieg said. “It’s to know — look, when you run for office, you want to win, but if you don’t know what matters more to you than winning, then you should not be in office.” After talking about signing on in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2015 to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Buttigieg shifted to coming out as he was pursuing re-election as South Bend mayor. “The decision to come out, I guess was not expected, it wasn’t you know a battle of right versus wrong, but it felt like a battle inside me because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. There was extended applause and cheers of approval. Back on the bus Buttigieg was asked by the Blade how and when he makes the decision to bring up being gay as opposed to letting his audience do it. The South Bend mayor said the planning is “not always super-intentional, right? “It comes out just over the course of me talking about my life, and certain things remind me of it,” Buttigieg said. “So with the disability community, it reminds me of it because you have this really interesting phenomenon both with the disability and with the LGBTQ world of this minority, if you will, that cuts through every other group.” Buttigieg concluded by acknowledging that being gay will likely come up one way or the other on the campaign trail. “As you know, no two of my stumps are kind of alike because I just kind of go with it, but if I don’t raise it, somebody usually will, so one way or the other, I know it’s part of what we will talk about,” Buttigieg said. “It doesn’t define those appearances, but it’s also something I’m happy to talk about.” CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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Hong Kong reaffirmed as host city for 2022 Gay Games Organizers committed to Asia destination as turmoil continues By LOU CHIBBARO JR. LCHIBBARO@WASHBLADE.COM

A June pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong.

Organizers of the Gay Games, the quadrennial international LGBT sports event, announced in a statement released Monday night that they remain committed to holding the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong despite ongoing pro-democracy protest demonstrations that have rocked the city since June and have become increasingly violent. The joint statement by the Federation of Gay Games and the Gay Games Hong Kong Management Team says the decision to reaffirm plans to hold the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong was made during the FGG’s Annual General Assembly meeting held in Guadalajara, Mexico Oct. 31-Nov. 2. The statement says more than 130 delegates from 23 countries participated in the Guadalajara meeting. Among those in attendance was a representative of the D.C. LGBT sports group Team D.C. “While we fully recognize the troubles in Hong Kong continue, the FGG Board and the attending members are leaving Mexico committed to the Gay Games in Hong Kong, which will be a spectacular

sports and cultural event that will kickstart and foster LGBTQ+ connections among our communities in the city and region,” the statement says. “This will be the largest LGBTQ+ sports and cultural event ever held in Asia,” the statement continues. “12,000 participants, 36 sports, and 20+ cultural events will take place over 9 days in November 2022.” According to the statement, the Hong Kong Team presented two sessions to update FGG members on the current state of planning for Gay Games 11. “One presentation [was] on the current situation in Hong Kong and the other outlining the progress of the Hong Kong team for the 2022 Gay Games,” the statement says. The FGG released its statement a few hours after CNN and other international news media outlets reported a man was set on fire Monday in Hong Kong shortly after police shot a protester during one of the most unsettling days of the five-month-long ongoing protests that sometimes involve violent actions by police and protesters. The protests began in response to a proposed law by the Hong Kong government that would have allowed local authorities to extradite Hong Kong residents to China for prosecution for certain offenses. Local authorities dropped that proposal following a groundswell of opposition by pro-democracy advocates. But the protests have continued as Hong Kong authorities, with reported demands by China, have refused to adopt other democratic reforms demanded by prodemocracy forces. Experts have said China has taken a more assertive role in local Hong Kong affairs in recent years following the 1997 agreement with the United Kingdom in which the British turned over Hong Kong, a longtime British colony, to China. The agreement allows Hong Kong to govern itself in a semi-autonomous way for 50 years after the agreement, but observers say there is little outsiders can do if China


violates the agreement. CNN reported that on Monday witnesses saw protesters hurl gasoline bombs, set fires, and put up barricades to disrupt public transportation in a number of locations, including subway stations. Police announced at a press conference on Monday night that protesters had blocked roads in 120 locations around the city, CNN reported. “The nonstop protests have also sent retail and tourism numbers plunging, and the semi-autonomous city fell into recession in October,” CNN reports. “Travel is dropping as demonstrations escalate in violence, and there is increasing public hostility toward the city government and police force,” CNN reported on Monday. The FGG statement released Monday night does not say whether FGG officials have developed a plan to relocate the Gay Games to another city if the current turmoil in Hong Kong doesn’t subside by 2022. Gay Games spokesperson Shiv Paul told the Washington Blade in an email he would provide additional information Tuesday night. Grace Thompson, the Team D.C. representative who attended the FGG meeting in Guadalajara, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. In 2017, the FGG selected Hong Kong over D.C. and Guadalajara, which were among the three finalist cities competing to host the Games. About 15,000 athletes and thousands more spectators turned out for the Gay Games in Paris in 2018. “Hong Kong is an opportunity to make a positive political statement by doing something that is fun and nonthreatening and which can change peoples’ perspectives of what it means to be LGBTQ+“ said Gene Dermody, a participant in all 10 previous Gay Games, in the FGG statement. “We believe in the power of unity that comes from diversity,” the statement says. “The Gay Games 11 tagline, Unity in Diversity, is an extremely relevant message not just for the Gay Games but for Hong Kong at this difficult time.”

LaPlacaCohen Publication: Insertion date: Size:

Students, former faculty keep the faith after Catholic high school firings

212-675-4106 WASHINGTON BLADE NOVEMBER 15, 2019 4.625" x 10.5" 4C NP


Shelly’s Voice was founded by students at Roncalli to support their fired guidance counselors.

Marriage equality may be the law of the land, but at Roman Catholic Churchrun Roncalli High School in Indiana, the lesson being taught is that having a samesex marriage, or standing in solidarity with those who do, will cost you your career. Those scenarios played out, when the Central and Southern Indiana-serving Archdiocese of Indianapolis discovered longtime Roncalli guidance counselors Shelly Fitzgerald and Lynn Starkey were both married to women. Roncalli social worker Kelley Fisher, a straight ally who publicly supported Fitzgerald and Starkey following their firing, also lost her job—and gay-identified Dominic Conover, who founded the Shelly’s Voice Advocacy Group alongside five straight Roncalli students, discontinued his vocal support of Fitzgerald for months (a behavior without which, he was told, he would not receive his diploma). Fitzgerald, who grew up in the Catholic faith and graduated from Roncalli High School in 1991, returned to its halls as a guidance counselor in 2004, then worked as Co-Director of Guidance until 2018, when the church obtained a copy of her marriage certificate via a tipster who, ironically, has yet to be publicly identified. Fitzgerald, notes the Indy Star in an Aug. 20, 2019 article, “was called into a meeting [Aug. 10, 2018] with officials from her school and the church and given three options: divorce her wife, quit her job or wait out the end of her contract quietly and be fired at the end of the school year, when it would expire.” Two days later, Fitzgerald was put on administrative leave and banned from campus. She received a May 2, 2019 letter from Roncalli that her contract would not be renewed, by which point she had

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11/12/19 2:48 PM

filed with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), alleging discrimination and retaliation. A federal lawsuit was filed on Oct. 22 of this year. “I was stunned,” says Fitzgerald, of her dismissal. “I was just living my life as I wanted to live it, and was caught completely off guard,” especially since her sexual orientation had never been a source of controversy or trouble. “The predominant amount of people I worked with not only knew I was gay and had a partner,” says Fitzgerald, “but my daughter has walked the halls since she was able to walk—and we hung around socially with many who worked there, including administrators … I’ve been out, really, since I was 18 years old. But I wasn’t out to students and parents, because as a counselor, that’s not part of the job, to compare stories.” Once dismissed from Roncalli, however, Fitzgerald found herself at the heart of a “nonstop local story” for the past year and a half. “One of the biggest adjustments for me has been the lack of anonymity,” says Fitzgerald, who cites the activism of Conover and other Shelly’s Voice members as the reason “why this story has legs. The day they stepped up, they changed the trajectory of my life forever. They’ve shown what it’s like to be true allies… That made it easier for me, because it gave me an opportunity change things, so nobody has to go through this again. I just want people to have a safe place to be. So this is not a story about a guidance counselor getting fired. It’s a story about how we can change the path, to make sure everyone has a welcome seat at the table.” CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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


(@briangaither) is a gay activist and writer who lives in Maryland.



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


is a D.C.-based writer who contributes regularly to the Blade.



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







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GOP, party of chaos The stream of Republican distractions and diversions from the House impeachment inquiry, centered on Donald Trump’s attempted extortion of Ukraine, is like someone who works out of a home office being interrupted during a live broadcast by his toddlers bursting into the room—only the toddlers are like the demon child in “The Omen.” With the hearings going public this week, everyone is wondering how much more chaos Congressmen Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz can stir up. Having been to the circus before, I really don’t need to watch another showoff abusing lions. If you decide to watch, keep in mind that it could be worse. Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes tweeted, “Reading through these transcripts, I am pleased to report that at least none of the people discussed bring a whip to work. You can’t take these things for granted anymore.” A few observations: An impeachment inquiry is not a coup. It is authorized by Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution. It is not a criminal proceeding. Braying a lie a hundred times neither makes it true nor turns a pumpkin into a carriage. Distinguished career diplomats and decorated military veterans do not become traitors and spies because a spoiled adolescent from Queens doesn’t like to be contradicted. Behind the likely articles of impeachment, for which the strongest and clearest case can be made, lurks mischief by and on behalf of Trump that reminds us why a compelling narrative is needed against this dangerous and destructive president: the changing rationalizations, the ever-moving goal posts, the projecting of Trump’s sins onto his foes, and the repeated, zombielike resurrection of debunked conspiracy theories such as the one used to shift blame for foreign interference in the 2016 election from Russia onto Ukraine. A perfect illustration of Trump’s gift for attracting henchmen from hell: on the same day that Kevin McCarthy appointed Jordan to the House Intelligence Committee, a second person stated he had told Jordan about sexual abuses against students when Jordan was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University in the 1990s, which Jordan denies.

The Trump family’s sociopathy was displayed by Donald Jr. as he described how a visit to Arlington National Cemetery reminded him of the attacks his family had suffered and the sacrifices they had to make to help their father succeed— sacrifices nowhere in evidence. Whistling past the graveyard has been raised to desperate new heights, as reported in stories with headlines like “Six times Trump’s allies downplayed Trump’s actions by pointing to his incompetence.” That piece ends by quoting a 2014 Trump tweet (there is always a tweet) attacking Obama: “Are you allowed to impeach a president for gross incompetence?” Amid frantic demands by Trump to “name the whistleblower,” who is protected under federal law, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that “there was no doubt” Trump sought a quid pro quo during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vindman was on that call, and therefore is a direct witness; so President Russian Asset and his minions keep screaming about the whistleblower, like a fire department attacking a 911 caller and denying there was a fire after the house burned down. Trump’s defenders constantly, indignantly insist that the rules everyone else goes by somehow do not apply to him. By attacking those who courageously step up to tell the truth, Trump and Company put them in danger. You might say he is shooting them in the middle of Fifth Avenue, just as his diehard supporters want. Thinking as they are told, Trump’s fans are far more outraged by a parodic characterization by Rep. Adam Schiff than by the president’s brazen wrongdoing. The stream of frenzied, baseless denunciations is designed to distract us from the damning revelations that the Democrats are patiently and methodically bringing to light. Trump’s tantrums, which are getting worse, are about to be eclipsed by the truth about who is harming the country and who is holding the vandals to account. Use your mute button judiciously. Listen for the signal amid the noise. Let us remember and honor the patriots who brave a petty tyrant’s wrath by standing their ground amid the battle for our country. Copyright © 2019 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

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BRIAN GAITHER (@briangaither) is a gay activist and writer who lives in Maryland.

Without Maryland’s Black voters, there is no ‘Pete & Chasten’ Some months ago, shortly after Pete Buttigieg spoke to the national convention of the NAACP, I opined here in the Blade that he was engaging in a deliberate pattern of code-switching — especially regarding his husband — whenever he addressed Black audiences. Apparently, he’s still at it. As reported in Time magazine, during his stump speech before a Black congregation in Rock Hill, S.C., “the part where [Buttigieg] normally mentions his husband Chasten, or alludes to the fact that he owes his marriage to a single vote on the Supreme Court, went unsaid.” For an openly gay candidate campaigning as a man of faith, Mayor Pete’s choice is curious. Why not attend church services with Chasten as he did on his visit to see President Carter in Georgia? Why not mention how his marriage moved him closer to God as he did for the assembled donors of the LGBTQ Victory Fund in Washington? Why hide this central truth of his life, so openly shared with others, from Black churchgoers in South Carolina? Perhaps the reason is a focus group of Black Democrats in South Carolina that the campaign commissioned in July. According to a local newspaper report, the political consultants hired to conduct this focus group informed Buttigieg that for some of its 24 participants “being gay was a barrier... their preference is for his sexuality to not be front and center.” And if we’re to trust a quote from the chairman of the Black caucus in the state’s Democratic party, Buttigieg himself “agreed it was not to his advantage to make a big deal out of it.” But Pete’s marriage is a big deal, and it wouldn’t be possible without the large number of Black Marylanders in 2012 who supported Question 6, the ballot initiative formalizing statewide recognition of samesex unions. Without a win on Question 6, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur would not have wed on the tarmac at BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport in 2013. And without Obergefell fighting his way to the Supreme Court, we’d still be waiting for nine justices to decide whether or not a gay man in

Indiana has the right to marry a teacher he met on Hinge. Public opinion polling conducted prior to the election certainly suggests the important role of the state’s Black voters in passing Question 6. An October 2012 Goucher College Poll, the last poll fielded before the vote, found that 49 percent of Black residents supported same-sex marriage, with 43 percent opposed. However, it’s the election outcome itself that confirms that the provenance of Pete and Chasten’s marriage lies with the Black vote in Maryland. Comparing official results for Question 6 and the percentage of Black residents in each of the state’s counties, per the 2010 U.S. Census, three indisputable facts become clear. First, Question 6 received majority support where turnout among registered Democrats was higher than turnout among registered Republicans. Second, Question 6 failed by the highest margins in counties with the lowest percentage of Black residents (despite 60 percent support registered among white residents in the Goucher College Poll). Third, the two counties with the largest number of Black residents, Prince George’s County (64.5 percent) and Baltimore City (63.7 percent), together provided 316,310 votes in favor of the measure. Given these facts, it’s nearly impossible mathematically that Question 6 would have passed by 127,459 votes if Black voters had opposed it to the same degree they’re now supporting the Buttigieg candidacy. To win more support from Black voters in South Carolina and elsewhere, maybe Pete can start telling the story of how Black voters in Maryland created one of the most important realities of his life. Instead of elevating Justice Anthony Kennedy’s “single vote” on the Supreme Court, maybe Pete can honor the thousands of Black Marylanders to whom he actually owes the opportunity to be with the man who’s brought him closer to God.


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is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.

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

Trump is scum who Gays seem to undercut foreign policy, be Mayor Pete’s committed bribery worst critics This week, the impeachment process in Congress goes public. A number of those who have already testified to Trump’s attempt to bribe/blackmail the Ukrainians for his own personal benefit will now testify in front of the American people. According to Reuters they include “the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, who is considered a critical witness to the case against Trump. Taylor was upset to find out that security aid to Ukraine, as well as a White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky, had been delayed for political reasons. Another senior U.S. diplomat, George Kent, will appear with Taylor at Wednesday’s hearing. Kent said in closed-door testimony that he had been alarmed by efforts by Giuliani and others to pressure Ukraine to accede to Trump’s demands.” Also “Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify on Friday. She says she was ousted from her post after she came under attack by Giuliani. She says Giuliani’s associates “may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.” Each of these individuals will have an impact on the public. It will also be important to see and hear from Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman who actually listened in on the call. According to VOA news “Now 44, Vindman and his twin brother, Yevgeny, were 3-years-old when they and their family fled Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, for the United States. His brother is also an Army lieutenant colonel and a lawyer handling ethics issues for the National Security Council.” It will be difficult for even the most disgusting of Republican members of Congress, and there are many claiming that title, to attack a veteran who has a Purple Heart and walks around with shrapnel in his body from defending our country. Aside from hearing from these witnesses it will be crucial for Democrats

when talking about what Trump did to merit impeachment to speak to the American people in simple and clear language. Something like “Trump, the scumbag who undercut our foreign policy and committed bribery.” Now I am not suggesting members of Congress actually use the word scumbag however accurate that is, but they need to stop using Latin phrases like quid pro quo, which need to be explained because now even Republicans agree that happened. They have moved from denying it to saying everyone does it. Rand Paul, one sleazy senator from Kentucky, the other being ‘Moscow Mitch,’ was on “Meet the Press” saying what Joe Biden did as vice president when he told Ukraine they had to fire their prosecutor was the same thing as what Trump did. Unfortunately for Paul and Republicans the truth about what Biden did was to act on American foreign policy supported by all of our European allies and the International Monetary Fund. Trump on the other hand simply decided to try to bribe the Ukrainians to help him smear a political opponent. These things are very different and easy to understand. Then there is Trump’s former lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, another of the sleazy players around Trump, who worked at Trump’s behest to undercut what has been American foreign policy toward Ukraine carried out by the State Department and our ambassadors. As Giuliani’s associates begin to speak out we will get an even clearer picture of how far Trump was willing to go to subjugate American foreign policy for his own personal gain. All of this won’t be easy as Republicans are intent on turning the hearings into a circus. I am sure we will count in the dozens, maybe hundreds, the number of times they mention the names Biden and Clinton in their effort to confuse the public as to what these hearings are about. Democrats will have to constantly remind the public this hearing is about a sitting president not private citizens.

Why do we think we’re not ready for primetime?

Do we really want a gay president? I mean, really want it? Because I have to say, it really doesn’t seem that way. You may remember my column from a couple of months ago, asking gays to stop telling mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg how to be gay. Then it was all getting too much. Mayor Pete was at once not gay enough, too gay, not the right kind of gay. It made no sense. It was as if many in our community thought the first gay to be a serious contender for our nation’s highest office would either look like Tom of Finland or some plaid-clad gay gym bunny. There was all that. But when I thought about this some more, I think there’s a larger issue at the heart of this. A few weeks ago, watching I-forget-which-one-we’re-on presidential debate at Dito’s Bar on 17th Street, I was listening to Mayor Pete’s answer to some policy question. Erudite, calm, collected, well-spoken — it’s everything we’ve been missing in a president and I wondered aloud just why he isn’t completely running away with the nomination. “Because he’s gay,” half the bar reminded me. Well, that may be. But also it seems to me when you ask around if America is ready for a gay president, it’s many of our fellow gays who seem to say, “no.” Granted, my sample may be off, as I hang out with mostly gay people. But still, why exactly do we think we’re not ready for primetime? Why do we think we’re not ready, or don’t deserve this? It’s striking really. I wonder if we could all go back to, say, the year 2001, and ask around if the country was ready, or could elect, an African-American president? Would the answer be similar? “No, not right now. . .

maybe in 20 more years or so.” I have to say is America ready for a fill-in-the-blank candidacy, that really depends on the candidate. Barack Obama was certainly a powerhouse, and to say Hillary Clinton had her share of detractors is a gross understatement. So then is America ready for a gay president? Again, it depends on the candidate. And if we depend on Mayor Pete then the answer is decidedly yes. This all could be simple handwringing from the left. This person can’t win, neither can he, or she, etc. The last election and indeed the last three years have us rightfully frightened of what another Trump term would look like. I frankly believe we have a great crop of candidates to choose from. The gay one included. And America seems to be trending gay for sure. You have the gay marriage victory, but other signs point to America getting a bit more of a swish in her stride. All things gay are going both mainstream and political, from our High Heel Race now being sponsored by the mayor’s office, to Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing on RuPaul. Colorado even elected out and open Jared Polis as governor just last year. And I personally think he’s a disaster. So, maybe sometimes it doesn’t depend on the candidate? I have to think, if it wouldn’t have been for AIDS and evangelical Christianity, gays would have been running the show here for some time now. God, can you imagine our world without those two things? Can you imagine where our collective selfesteem would be then? Can you imagine a United States where gays are running the show? It’s easy if you try.

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MARIAH CAREY plays MGM National Harbor Dec. 9-10. Photo courtesy Live Nation

Holiday show time!

Region already bustling with seasonal offerings that continue through New Year’s


From a giant Christmas maze at Nationals Park to appearances from the Nutcracker and Ebenezer Scrooge, from klezmer concerts to lively Kwanzaa celebrations, it’s going to be a spectacular holiday season in the D.C. region. It kicks off at the Warner Theatre (warnertheatredc.com) with “A Magical Cirque Christmas” (Nov. 22) and “A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour” (Nov. 23). From Nov. 30-Dec. 29, the Warner Theatre will again host the Washington Ballet’s beloved production of “The Nutcracker.” Featuring a cast of over 100 and classic choreography by Septime Webre, this historic production is set in Georgetown and stars George

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Washington as the heroic nutcracker and includes appearances by King George III, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, John Paul Jones and other historical figures. Tickets and information on special events like performances at THEARC and the Nutcracker Tea Party are at washingtonballet.org. Through Jan. 5, Arlington’s Signature Theatre is offering a special seasonal treat for musical theater fans: a fresh look at the ground-breaking Broadway musical “A Chorus Line.” The theatre will also present “A Motown Christmas” Dec. 3-21. On Dec. 7, Wolf Trap hosts the Annual Holiday Sing-A-Long. Attendees are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy for “Toys for Tots” and a candle to participate in the traditional candlelit recessional. Admission is free and details can be found at (wolftrap.org/tickets). Other holiday programming at Wolf Trap includes Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes with “The Best Christmas Party Ever” (Dec. 5-6) and virtuoso fiddler Eileen Ivers with “A Joyful Christmas” (Dec. 7). The championship magic continues at National Park as “Enchant D.C.” transforms the baseball field into a world of Christmas wonder. The attractions include the World’s Largest Christmas Light Maze, a Holiday Market with about 60 local and international vendors, an Ice Skating Trail and the Enchant Cinema. Children of all ages can visit with Santa Claus at Santa’s Landing and Ms. Claus will host a story time in her special reading nook. Enchant D.C. will also include live entertainment as well as venues for casual treats and fine dining. The magic runs Nov. 22-Dec. 29. Tickets and more information are available at enchantchristmas.com. D.C. Different Drummers (dcdd.org) will hold their annual holiday concert on Sunday, Dec. 15 at the Church of the Reformation near Union Station. From free shows on the Millennium Stage to a diverse array of concerts and shows in several theaters, every corner of the Kennedy Center will be filled with holiday cheer this season. This year’s schedule includes “Love, Factually,” the Second City’s farcical take on the beloved holiday film Dec. 3-29 and the NSO’s “A Holiday Pops!” with special guest Leslie Odom, Jr. (“Hamilton” and “Harriet”) Dec. 13-14. From Nov. 23-Jan. 5, the Kennedy Center will present the world premiere of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical!),” based on the popular

From top: CRAIG WALLACE in ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Photo by Scott Suchman for Ford’s Theatre; The cast of ‘A Chorus Line at Signature Theatre.’ Photo by Christopher Mueller; and ‘The Hip Hop Nutcracker.’ Photo courtesy Strathmore


children’s book by Mo Willems. From Dec. 19-22, the National Symphony Orchestra will present the perennial audience favorite Handel’s “Messiah.” The popular “Sing-Along Messiah” will take place on Dec. 23. Free general admission tickets will be distributed starting at 4:30 p.m. on the day of the event. From Dec. 13-18, the Folger Consort (folger.edu/folger-consort), the early music ensemble of the Folger Shakespeare Library, will present “Gloria!,” a baroque Italian Christmas with music by Vivaldi, Scarlatti and Corelli. The Folger Shakespeare Library (folger.edu) will also celebrate the season with the annual Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute. On Monday, Dec. 9, there will be a discussion of Dickinson’s poetry followed by a wine reception featuring slices of Dickinson’s famous black cake. As always, the Strathmore in North Bethesda is a center for holiday cheer. Events at the Mansion will include performances by Bridget Kibbey, known as the Yo-Yo Ma of the harp (Dec. 5) and a concert by cellist Alicia Ward and percussionist Joey Antico as part of the “Inspired Pairing” series (Dec. 12). The rich holiday programming at the Music Center at Strathmore include the 30th anniversary tour of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (Dec. 2), the annual Christmas Tour by smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz & Friends (Dec. 9), a family-friendly evening of storytelling by comedian and actor Sinbad (Dec. 13) and the return of an audience favorite, “The Hip-Hop Nutcracker” (Dec. 17-19). There will also be special holiday performances by the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra (Dec. 7) and the Strathmore Children’s Chorus (Dec. 8). Powered by Strathmore, AMP will offer a lively mix of holiday programming at the Pike & Rose on Rockville Pike. Shows include the Kids Pajama Jam Party hosted by Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats (Dec. 1), country rock singer Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers (Dec. 3), classical crossover quartet the Sons of Serendip (Dec. 5) and D.C.-based smooth jazz musician Anthony Walker (Dec. 6). In addition, the Sweetback Sisters will host a toe-tapping country Christmas (Dec. 8); 2019 Strathmore Artist-in-Residence Seán Heely will return with “A Celtic Christmas” (Dec. 13); Seth Kibel and his CON T I N U E S ON PAGE 2 8

Revels celebrate winter solstice Dec. 7-15 at Lisner CONTINUED FROM PAGE 27 quartet will offer klezmer music, jazz and Hanukkah tunes (Dec. 18); and, The Soul Crackers will celebrate the holidays with the sounds of Memphis and Motown (Dec. 21). Information on all of these events can be found at strathmore.org. As usual, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington will be ringing in the holiday season with glitter and glamour. The all-new edition of “The Holiday Show” will be bigger and better than ever, featuring disco dancers, falling snowflakes, soaring vocals, muscle boys, candlelight processionals, a visit from Santa Claus, and a 7-foot Christmas tree. Performances are December 7, 14 and 15 at the Lincoln Theatre; the matinee performances on Dec. 14 and 15 will be ASL-interpreted. Tickets are available at gmcw.org. From Dec. 14-30, the Atlas Performing Arts Centre on H Street, NE (atlasarts. secure.force.com/ticket) will present Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show. This contemporary holiday tradition features percussive beats, friendly, furry characters, pre-show instrument-making workshops and a dance party hosted by DJ Frosty the Snowman. Atlas will also present “A Bohemian Christmas” on Dec. 16 and the children’s show “Squeakers and Mr. Gumdrops” from Dec. 27-31. Filthy film auteur John Waters brings his annual holiday show — this year dubbed “Filthier & Merrier: It’ll Stuff Your Turkey” — to the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday, Dec. 18 and his beloved hometown Baltimore at Baltimore Soundstage the following night. Tickets available through the venue websites or via Ticketmaster. Pop diva Mariah Carey brings her “All I Want for Christmas Is You” show to MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., Dec. 9-10. Prices may ebb and flow based on demand, but as of this writing range from $110-500 via Ticketmaster. (Side note: Epic this month released a “deluxe 25th anniversary edition” of her classic release “Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas” featuring

a generous bounty of bonus content including vintage live cuts recorded at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.) With beautiful holiday decorations augmenting the legendary stained-glass windows, the Washington National Cathedral (cathedral.org) is a splendid place to celebrate the holiday season. From Dec. 6-8, the Cathedral Choir will sing Handel’s “Messiah,” and on Dec. 7 the chorus will present a special family edition of the masterwork, often performed this time of year. This shortened version of this iconic work focuses on the birth of Jesus and continues the story of his death and resurrection through selected arias and choruses, ending with the famous “Hallelujah Chorus.” With a cast of about 100, Washington Revels (revelsdc.org) will present the 37th annual production of “The Christmas Revels” in eight performances from December 7-15 at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Combining elements of a fully staged holiday play, a choral concert with sing-alongs and centuries-old winter traditions, The Christmas Revels offers a trademark blend of professional entertainment and community engagement. The Christmas Revels: “Celestial Fools” will transport audiences to a rustic European village nestled somewhere in the mists of time. As the winter days grow short, three wandering performers arrive from far-off lands, weaving music, dances and stories from their cultures into an enchanting and dramatic tale of the Winter Solstice. Fans of Charles Dickens can enjoy his classic holiday tale in two very different versions. Ford’s Theatre (fords.org) offers “A Christmas Carol” with all the trimmings. Popular D.C. actor Craig Wallace (recently seen in “Death of a Salesman” and “Fences”) leads a large cast in a rollicking production filled with lively music and sumptuous sets and costumes. The Olney Theatre Company just north of Washington, offers company member Paul Morella in a solo rendition “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas.” Drawing from Dickens’ own lecture notes, Morella’s one-man show is a captivating theatrical tour de force. Olney will also present “Singin’ In

From top: EMILY TYRA in ‘A Chorus Line’ at Signature Theatre. KALANTARI & THE JAZZ CATS. Photo courtesy Strathmore

the Rain” this holiday season. Based on the beloved 1952 film, the show includes great singing and dancing and, of course, an onstage rain shower. Another ghost story is haunting The Shakespeare Theatre this holiday season. A Christmas favorite with audiences in London’s West End, “The Woman in Black” will be scaring D.C. audiences from Dec. 4-22 at the Shakespeare’s Michael R. Klein Theatre. More traditional holiday fare will be onstage at the Shakespeare’s Sidney Harmon Hall: J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan and Wendy” in a new adaptation by Lauren Gunderson. Dance Place in the Brookland

Photo by Christopher Mueller;


neighborhood (danceplace.org) will hold a Kwanzaa Celebration on Dec. 14. Led by director Sylvia Soumah, the communal event will celebrate the seven principles of the holiday. On Dec. 27, the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum (anacostia.si.edu) will host an interactive introduction to Kwanzaa with the Melvin Deal African Heritage Dancers and Drummers. The audience participatory program includes dancers, singers, music, colorful costumes and lively characters designed for young children and adults alike.

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QUEERY Ruben J. Gonzales Photo by Teddy Wihite

QUEERY: Ruben J. Gonzales

The LGBTQ Victory Institute VP answers 20 queer questions By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO JOEYD@WASHBLADE.COM

The 2020 election, being queer and indigenous, the role of same-sex partners on the campaign trail, criminal justice reform, plastics pollution — these are just some of the topics attendees are tackling this week at the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference, which runs through Saturday in Washington. “Anti-LGBTQ laws and opportunities to advance equality often occur at the state and local level,” says Ruben J. Gonzales, vice president of the organization. “Victory Institute’s work focuses on building a bench of LGBTQ elected officials who can affect change there. There is also an undeniable benefit to growing and diversifying the number of candidates and elected officials who can be out and proud role models for young queer people and change hearts and minds through their campaigns and careers.” Close to 600 are attending the conference, in its 35th year. It’s been held in Washington annually since 2016 (it was held in other cities prior).

“(The conference) remains at its core a place for elected and appointed officials — current and aspiring as well as the people who love them — to come together,” Gonzales says. “We will offer them many settings for doing that including our plenary and breakout sessions, many receptions and nights out in Washington.” The Institute employs 19 and has a $2.9 million annual operating budget (in addition to the $2.8 million for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, its sister organization). Gonzales, who identifies as queer, came to Washington 10 years ago to work at UnidosUS. The 43-year-old Phoenix native previously led GLAAD’s volunteer program and raised major gifts for the LGBTQ Task Force. Gonzales is married to Joaquin Tamayo, his partner of 20 years. They live in Petworth with their Wheaten Terrier, Sadie Rose. Gonzales enjoys working out, audiobook memoirs and “anything related to dance” in his free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I’ve been out for 26 years. My Nana (my Dad’s mom) was the hardest person to tell. She was the person I loved the most who I really thought might not accept me after coming out to her. She told me she loved me but asked me to never be affectionate with a man in front of her; she eventually relented on that and was very supportive. Who’s your LGBTQ hero? Jose Sarria was the first openly gay person to run for public office in 1961. I know how much courage it takes to run now and I am amazed that Sarria ran as an out Latinx Queer 13 years before Kathy Kozachenko became the first out elected official in the U.S. in 1974. What LGBTQ stereotype most annoys you? That gays are mean and catty. What’s your proudest professional achievement? Since I have worked at Victory Institute, the number of transgender and gender non-conforming elected officials has grown from under a handful to more than 30. This year over 20 percent of the people we trained to run for office were transgender or gender non-conforming. What terrifies you? Four more years of kids in cages. What’s something trashy or vapid you love? What’s something trashy or vapid I don’t love?

What’s your greatest domestic skill? Making playlists for every and all occasions. What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie or show? All of the gay ’90s movies: “Paris is Burning,” “Trick,” “Broken Hearts Club,” “Party Girl,” “Jeffrey,” “Velvet Goldmine,” “The Opposite of Sex,” “But I’m a Cheerleader,” “Beautiful Thing,” “To Wong Foo” and “The Celluloid Closet.” What’s your social media pet peeve? Vaguebooking (posting something intentionally ambiguous for attention). I mean either share something or don’t. What would the end of the LGBTQ movement look like to you? LGBTQ people will always be a minority and our movement toward full equality will be ongoing. However, electing more than 22,000 LGBTQ people to achieve equitable representation (4.5 percent of all elected positions) in the U.S. is a good start. We are at just about 800 now. What’s the most overrated social custom? Putting away your white shoes after Labor Day. What was your religion, if any, as a child and what is it today? I grew up Catholic and today I still have a special place in my heart and on my altar for la Virgen de Guadalupe. What’s D.C.’s best hidden gem? The drag scene in Petworth. Taqueria del Barrio has a great drag brunch

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Clockwise from left: IAN McEUEN will sing the part of Nika Magadoff in ‘The Consul,’ a performance by Baltimore Concert Opera next weekend Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker; courtesy BCO; DJ HONEY will spin at the Tart Queer Dance Party Nov. 23 Photo courtesy DJ Honey; and members of the Baltimore Queer Day Hike group on a recent outing. They reconvene Nov. 24. Photo courtesy the group.

DJ Honey to spin The Tart Queer Dance Party, presented by WillCall Events is Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Rock and Roll Hotel (1353 H St., N.E.). Show starts at 10 p.m. The venue, an ex-funeral parlor turned lounge, features vintage decor, a dance floor and a rooftop bar. DJ Honey spins “tart” beats by Lizzo, Nicki Minaj, Kim Petras and Lady Gaga while drag artists Vagenesis, Desiree Dik, JaxKnife Complex and Washington Heights perform. DJ Honey, known for playing a variety of music including a few classic ‘90s grooves, has mixed beats at the hottest venues in the Philadelphia and D.C. areas. Tickets for this event are $10 in advance or $15 the day of the show. Visit rockandrollhoteldc.com for more information.

Drag Show returns Nov. 23

Queer Baltimore group plans hike

Desiree Dik hosts a Drag Show Extravaganza presented by Red Bear Brewing (209 M St., N.E.) Saturday, Nov. 23 from 9-11 p.m. Performers Bombalicious Eklaver, Chicki Parm, Baby and Indiana Bones share their artistry with the masses in this pre-holiday show. Everyone is welcome and also invited to compete every first Friday at the monthly Slay Them drag competition. Competitors can sign up with host Desiree Dik at every drag bingo or drag show event. Desiree is one of the region’s most prevalent performers and enjoys bringing the art form to the masses. For more information, visit redbear.beer.

The Baltimore Queer Day Hike of the Cascade Falls Loop Trail presented by The Venture Out Project and the recreational equipment retailer REI is Sunday, Nov. 24 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Cascade Falls Loop Trail is a threemile loop located near Elkridge, Md., and features a waterfall and a number of activity options such as bird watching, hiking, biking and jogging. Carpoolers can meet up at the 33rd Street Farmers Market in Baltimore at 9 a.m. Others are welcome to meet up at 9:45 at the trailhead in Elkridge and park on the side of the road. Visit ventureoutproject.com to sign up for the Queer Day Hike event.

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Baltimore Concert Opera to perform The Baltimore Concert Opera presents Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Consul” in the Grand Ballroom of the Engineers Club (11 W. Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore) on Friday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $29.50. Menotti, whose former student and partner Samuel Barber wrote “Adagio for Strings,” memorably used in the film “Platoon,” composed “The Consul” around the story of Magda Sorel whose husband flees the country as a dissident after a violent encounter with police. She tries in vain to obtain a visa, finally proclaiming the day will come when “neither ink nor seal shall cage our souls.” “Salome” star Melanie Henley Heyn makes her BCO debut in the role of “Magda Sorel.” Tickets and information are available at baltimoreconcertopera.com.

LGBTQ Youth Friday is tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Manassas Park Community Center (99 Adams St., Manassas Park, Va.). Facilitators lead queer and trans-centered programming and a chance for queer youth to meet in an affirming environment. Email program organizer Tony Thomas T.Thomas@manassasparkva.gov for more information. The Annual Womxn’s Party presented by The D.C. Center and Center Women is tonight from 7-10 p.m. at The Outrage (1722 14th St., N.W.). Standard admission is $25 and includes one drink ticket. Cash bar, complimentary food and a silent auction with proceeds to benefit support and social programming at The D.C. Center. All genders welcome. For tickets and information, visit thedccenter.org. The 2019 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference presents Women Out to Win, a “party with a purpose,” tonight from 7-10 p.m. in the Living Room D.C. (1008 Vermont Ave., N.W.). Attendees can engage with women leaders who make up 40 percent of all LGBTQ elected officials serving nationwide. Tickets start at $50 and are available at secure.everyaction.com. Trans and Genderqueer Game Night is tonight from 7-9 p.m. at the D.C. Center. The third Friday of the month is a time for a relaxing, laid-back evening of games and fun in an inclusive environment. All are welcome. For more information, visit thedccenter.org. Blowout Baltimore hosted by Bombalicious Eklaver is tonight at 9 p.m. at the Grand Central Nightclub (1001 North Charles St., Baltimore). Music by top local DJs, provocative drag performances and an all-inclusive dance environment. Visit Facebook events and grandcentralclub. com for more information.

Saturday, Nov. 16 Female DJ Herstory VI: A Celebration of Women and Girls Who Spin presented by TMF1 Productions kicks off from 3-9 p.m. today at the Bravo Bravo (1001 Connecticut Ave., N.W.). Cost is $5 until 4 p.m. and $10 after. A celebration of female DJs spinning their own styles. More information at facebook.com/bravobravohh. Freedom: An Evening of LGBTQ Storytelling presented by FreeState Justice is tonight from 7-10 p.m. at Baltimore Center Stage (700 North Calvert St., Baltimore). Eight LGBTQ storytellers share a glimpse into their worlds following the theme of freedom. Preceded by a cocktail hour featuring live music. Tickets are $10 on eventbrite.com. What’s Your Rising Sign: A Deep Lez Dance Party hosted by Night Shift


Monday, Nov. 18

LGBTQ and Clifton Pleasure Club is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Clifton Pleasure Club (1725 Ponca St., Baltimore). Featuring DJ ReEduk8, GoGo dancers and drag king performances. No cover before 9 p.m. $10 after. Visit Facebook events for more information. The Peach Pit ‘90s Dance Party is at 10:30 p.m. tonight at the DC9 (1940 9th St., N.W.). DJ Matt Bailer spins a new playlist of Peach Pit-approved ‘90s hits each month. Cost is $5 before midnight and $8 after for this 21 and up event. Visit dc9.club for more information. District Queer Comedy Festival After-Party is tonight at 11 p.m. at the 18th and U Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., N.W.). Guests are invited to eat, drink and be merry with festival comedians. Proceeds benefit Casa Ruby. RSVP at comedicpursuits.com.

Singing with the Sisters weekly karaoke with the D.C. Sisters is at 9 p.m. tonight at the Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., NW). Performances starts at 9:30 p.m. Happy hour prices run all night. Visit dcsisters.org for more information.

Sunday, Nov. 17

The Trans-Atlantic LGBT Business Dialogue is today from 3-5 p.m. at the Swiss Embassy (2900 K St., N.W.). A valid government ID is required for entry to this free event. The Scandinavian LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the Equality Chamber of Commerce for the D.C. Metro Area host a joint panel talk with a networking reception at 5 p.m. Register at eventbrite.com. The D.C. observation of the Transgender Day of Remembrance is tonight from 6-8:30 p.m. at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge St., N.W.). This annual observation commemorates those who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred and serves as a reminder that most anti-transgender murder cases remain unsolved. Visit thedccenter.org for more information. Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses Lillian Faderman’s “The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle” tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W., Suite 105). All are welcome. More information at bookmendc.blogspot.com.

Bingo with the Sisters is today from 1-4 p.m. at Red Bear Brewing (209 M St., N.E.). The D.C. Sisters begin their monthly bingo at 2 p.m. sharp. $20 for six rounds, each with a $100 cash prize. Event includes a raffle, food and beverages for purchase, a “TV Land” costume contest and more. Proceeds benefit HIPS. Visit dcsisters.org for more information. God Loves LGBT Asians hosted by the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W., Suite 105) is today from 2-4 p.m. A workshop on religious acceptance for LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Visit thedccenter.org for more information. The D.C. Concert Orchestra presents a free concert today at 3 p.m. at the Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St., N.W.). Program includes Farrenc Overture No. 1, Brahms Symphony No. 3 and more. Donations accepted. RSVP at dccos.org/performances. Pretty Boi Drag Presents #SundayService tonight from 6-9 p.m. at Busboys and Poets, Brookland (625 Monroe St., N.E.). Tickets start at $20. This annual drag church event is a celebration of community through song, dance and performance, but not religion. Dress up and show out, but leave the Bibles at home. For more information, visit eventbrite.com. Stomping Out Violence Against the LGBTQ Community is tonight from 6-9:30 p.m. at the Hyattsville Busboys and Poets (5331 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville, Md.). This discussion presented by the Institute for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence and various agencies in the D.C.-area also features live entertainment, food and information sharing on violence prevention. Tickets are $25 on eventbrite.com.

Tuesday, Nov. 19 The Queer Caucus Monthly Happy Hour hosted by the Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America is tonight from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Red Bear Brewing (209 M St., N.W.). Open to the public and membership is not required to socialize. For more information, visit mdcdsa.org.

Wednesday, Nov. 20

Thursday, Nov. 21 The Queer Book Club discusses “Destroy All Monsters” by Sam J. Miller tonight from 7-9 p.m. in the lounge of the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W., Suite 105). Wine and snacks provided. For more information, look for the event on Facebook. Opera Lafayette opens its 25th anniversary season tonight DETAILS with a performance of the 1683 work “Venus and Adonis,” a French-inspired chamber opera by composer John Blow and librettist Anne Kingsmill. It will be sung in English by leads Lea Desandre and Douglas Williams. Tickets range from $60-105. Details at operalafayette.com.






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JOSHUA BUSCHER as Larry; DAXX JAYROE WIESER as Mark, BRYAN CHARLES MOORE as Don and the cast of ‘A Chorus Line.’ Photo by Christopher Mueller; courtesy Signature Theatre

In the hot seat

Auditionees share lives in Signature’s ‘A Chorus Line’ By PATRICK FOLLIARD Several years back, Signature Theatre asked audiences what topped their wish list for future shows. The majority answered “A Chorus Line,” the 1975 Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical wrought from true life experience and the genius of director-choreographer Michael Bennett. Now that request is being granted with a production that delivers energy, excitement and raw emotion along with polished staging. During the show’s inception, stories were pulled from informal, recorded sessions with Broadway dancers — not stars — sharing their beginnings and lives on the chorus line. Under Bennett’s guidance, a hit production with almost no set and not a lot of plot emerged, injecting new life, financially and artistically, into a then-stale Broadway. Signature’s take, staged by talented out director Matthew Gardiner with new choreography by Broadway’s Denis Jones, wastes no time in displaying both the seminal work’s enduring charms and its capacity to evolve with new ideas. The show opens with “I Hope I Get It,” a vigorous number featuring a tight area

jammed with young dancers eager to land a new job in the chorus. Eventually, auditionees are whittled down to 17 vying for eight spots, four “boys” and four “girls.” In the audition room, candidates stand side by side along a line facing the audience. This audition is like no other. In addition to learning dance combinations and lyrics, they’ll be asked personal questions about their backstories. The queries come from Zach (an intense Matthew Risch), the firm but encouraging director seated visibly at a card table in the middle of the audience (rather than the disembodied voice from the back of the house found in most productions). Aspirants must prove they’re more than an appealing headshot and good technique. After some discomfort, their replies issue forth in words, song and dance. Sometimes, a dancer slips into pantomime and we hear those nervously waiting their turns voice anxieties, fears and thoughts. One of these stories belongs to Paul (Jeff Gorti), a gay dancer from Spanish Harlem. He shyly recounts a bumpy youth that involved being molested as a kid at the movies, an abysmal stint in Catholic high school and time spent in a professional drag act. It’s a touching, understated performance. During the years since James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante wrote “A Chorus Line’s” book, oversharing has become the norm. Still, their characters’ stories grab our attention. That said, some scenes are by far more interesting than others. Highlights include upbeat song and dance bit “I Can Do That,” in which Mike (Trevor Michael Schmidt) peppily, and here acrobatically, details his first brush with dance.

Body image looms large with dancers. In “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three,” better known as “Tits and Ass,” Val (Adena Ershow) amusingly explains how plastic surgery has boosted her career. And Connie (Lina Lee) reveals the challenges and advantages of having never grown beyond 4’10.” Mario Rizzo is a delight as sexy, jaded Sheila. At almost 30 (a tricky number for any member of the chorus), she knows her way around an audition. And though quick with the pithy riposte and shady side-eye, she is vulnerable beneath the hardened shell as evidenced in “At the Ballet.” Along with fellow dancers Bebe (Jillian Wessel) and Maggie (Kayla Pecchioni), she sings about dance as a respite from an unhappy home life and other unpleasantness. Bronx girl Diana played by Samantha Marisol Gershman, a genuine triple threat, engagingly describes her entrée to the chorus with “Nothing,” and later gives a moving rendition of the chorus dancer’s anthem, “What I Did for Love.” With the visually arresting but ultimately bland “The Music and the Mirror,” auditionee Cassie (Emily Tyra) makes her case. Hoping to return to the chorus after achieving some success on Broadway but failing in Los Angeles, she needs a job. But that moment in the spotlight and a complicated relationship with director Zach may hinder her chances. Under Gardiner’s helm, the show focuses on the group; what comes to the fore as most important is the ensemble and its ambitions and passions as a whole. It’s inspiring. Signature’s routinely stellar musical director Jon Kalbfleisch is especially successful leading the unseen 10-person orchestra. He more than does justice to Marvin Hamlisch’s score comprised of show tune favorites and standalone songs with unforgettable lyrics by Edward Kleban. While in spots a tad more acrobatic and balletic than the original, Denis Jones’ choreography mostly retains the spirit of Bennett’s choreographic vision. His reimagining of the ensemble number about growing up, “Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love” is particularly terrific. And while the intimacy of Signature’s space almost uniformly adds to the experience, the notterribly-deep stage doesn’t allow for the same impact as Bennett’s bigger, iconic finale. In short, “A Chorus Line” is what’s good about musical theater. And Signature makes that point.

‘A Chorus Line’ Through Jan. 5 Signature Theatre 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, Va. 703-820-9771 sigtheatre.org

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This Week in the Arts provided by CultureCapital.com The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Nov 20-Dec 22. Round House. roundhousetheatre.org. The Havel Project. Thru Nov 17. Dupont Underground. dupontunderground.org. Theory. Thru Nov 17. Mosaic Theater Company at Atlas. mosaictheater.org.


Amadeus Thru Dec 22. Folger Theatre. folger.edu. Genius and jealousy collide in the opulent salons and opera houses of 18thcentury Vienna. When an impulsive and eccentric prodigy outshines an envious, God-fearing composer consumed by bitterness, theatrical fireworks emerge. The mediocre Salieri will do everything in his power to destroy his musical rival—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. With Helen Hayes Award-winner Ian Merrill Peakes as Salieri.

Amjad Ali Khan Nov 16. Washington Performing Arts at Sixth & I. washingtonperformingarts.org.

Having established himself as the world’s preeminent sarod player over the course of a distinguished career spanning more than six decades, Amjad Ali Kahn brings his expressive sound to Sixth & I for a family gathering with his sons Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, both “excellent musicians” (New York Times) in their own right.

District Queer Comedy Festival Nov 15-17. District Queer Comedy Festival. culturaldc.org.

Providing a venue and performance opportunity for LGBTQIA+ performers and showcase their talent in the DMV area, the District Queer Comedy Festival includes four shows and workshops.

Women: A Century of Change Thru May 1. National Geographic. nationalgeographic.org.

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the U.S. constitutional amendment confirming women’s right to vote, a powerful new exhibition and book from National Geographic showcases iconic women around the world. WOMEN: A CENTURY OF CHANGE illuminates, celebrates and reflects on where the world’s women have been, where they are now and where they are going. Photo Courtesy of Folger Theatre

THEATRE A Chorus Line. Thru Jan 4. Soul Divas. Nov 19-Nov 23. Signature Theatre. sigtheatre.org. Airness. Thru Nov 30. Keegan Theatre. keegantheatre.com. Edward Albee’s Occupant. Thru Nov 30. Theater J at EDCJCC. theaterj.org.

Janeane Garofalo. Nov 15. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Otello. Thru Nov 16. The Magic Flute. Thru Nov 23. WNO at Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Rent 20th Anniversary Tour. Thru Nov 17. National Theatre. thenationaldc.org. Sea by Jon Fosse. Thru Nov 24. DC Arts Center. dcartscenter.org. Singin’ In The Rain. Thru Jan 5. Olney Theatre. olneytheatre.org.

1,000 years of Sound and Movement. Nov 19. Korean Cultural Center DC at Kennedy Center. koreaculturedc.org. Raíz de 4. Thru Nov 17. GALA Hispanic Theatre. galatheatre.org. Mark Morris Dance Group: Pepperland. Thru Nov 16. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org.

MUSIC Amy Helm. Nov 21. Brian Newman. Nov 20. Wolf Trap at The Barns. wolftrap.org. Carter Brey, Cellist. Nov 17. The Apollo Orchestra. apolloorchestra.com. Cecily Salutes DC. Nov 16. Atlas. atlasarts.org. Chopin: the Raphael of the Piano. Nov 16. Irish Chamber Orchestra. Nov 20. Library of Congress. loc.gov. Community Sing. Nov 21. Washington Revels at Seekers Church. revelsdc.org. Fleming and Gilfry in an NSO cocommission / Noseda conducts Also sprach Zarathustra. Nov 21-Nov 23. Noseda conducts Tristan and Isolde. Thru Nov 15. NSO at Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Fresh AIR Nov 20. Petty Coat Junction. Nov 15. The Small Glories. Nov 17. AMP. ampbystrathmore.com. Inscape Chamber Orchestra. Nov 17. Potter Violins. pottersviolins.com. Mozart Requiem. Nov 16. The Washington Chorus at Kennedy Center. thewashingtonchorus.org. Pardon My French!. Nov 21. Strathmore at The Mansion. strathmore.org. Romantic Masterworks. Nov 17. DC Concert Orchestra Society. dcconcertorchestra.org. Taipei Symphony Orchestra. Nov 15. Washington Performing Arts at Strathmore. washingtonperformingarts.org. The Kojo Odu Roney Experience featuring Antoine Roney. Nov 16. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. The Silkroad Ensemble. Nov 15-Nov 16. The Barns at Wolf Trap. wolftrap.org. Il Postino. Nov 16-Nov 17. Mason’s Center for the Arts. cfa.gmu.edu.

Zoltán Fejérvári. Nov 17. Washington Performing Arts at Kennedy Center. washingtonperformingarts.org.

MUSEUMS AU Museum at the Katzen. Moves Like Walter: New Curators Open the Corcoran Legacy Collection. Topographies of Life: Pam Rogers, Lynn Sures, Mel Watkin. ARCADIA: The Clyde’s Murals by William Woodward. Christine Neill: Observations from the Valley Floor. Dark World: Photographs by Frank Hallam Day. Michal Heiman’s Radical Link: A New Community of Women, 1855-2020. Fair is foul & foul is fair. Thru Dec 15. american.edu. Anacostia Neighborhood Library. Right to the City @Anacostia Neighborhood Library. Thru Apr 20. anacostia.si.edu. Dumbarton Oaks. Ornament: Fragments of Byzantine Fashion. Thru Jan 5. Asian Art from the Bliss Collection. Thru Jun 1. doaks.org. Folger Shakespeare Library. Miniature Shakespeare Books from the Harner Collection. Thru Dec 31. The Architecture of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Thru Jan 5. folger.edu. Library of Congress. Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote. Thru Sep 1. Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages. Thru Sep 12. loc.gov. National Archives. Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote. Thru Jan 3. archivesfoundation.org. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age. Thru Jan 5. Judy Chicago—The End: A Meditation on Death and Extinction. Thru Jan 20. Live Dangerously. Thru Jan 20. New York Ave Sculpture Project. Thru Sep 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: 100 Years of Diplomatic Couriers. Thru Jan 26. postalmuseum.si.edu.

GALLERIES 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.

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New series launch: Game Changers By KEVIN MAJOROS

JOHN JACK GALLAGHER says photographing local LGBTQ athletes has given him a perspective many don’t have. Photo courtesy JJG

In the first installment of the Washington Blade’s Game Changers series, we meet a photographer who has been capturing LGBT athletes in action for close to a decade. One thing that comes up in conversation with John Jack Gallagher is the preferred use of his first name. Is it John or Jack? He says that some people get frustrated and are afraid to ask. “I get a lot of “Hey … there.” To set the record straight, I was Jack until kindergarten and was too shy to tell the teacher, so I started being called John. Over the years I answered to either name depending on whether it was in a work setting or with friends,” Gallagher says. “When Facebook came along, I started a page called John Jack Photography because I thought it would alleviate the confusion. People started calling me John Jack and it stuck. I am now John Jack.” Gallagher was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Cherry Hill, N.J., at age 12. He participated in Little League and basketball as a youth and ran cross country and track in high school. He was 6’4” tall by the eighth grade which drew interest from the high school basketball coaches. He tried out for the team but didn’t make the cut. “I can’t jump and I am not competitive. I also didn’t care if I played basketball or not,” Gallagher says. “I had grown 13 inches in three years and the agility just wasn’t there. I still don’t understand how people can jump.” For the social aspects Gallagher did play intramural basketball while attending college at St Joseph’s University. His 22-year career as an accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers took him to Chicago and London before he transferred with his then-partner to D.C. in 2003. Due to changes at his employer’s firm, Gallagher ended his accounting career early. Newly single and looking for something

different, he joined the Washington Wetskins water polo team and began taking photography classes at the Smithsonian. Gallagher had friends who were playing on one of the Stonewall Kickball teams during their inaugural season in 2010. He started showing up on Sundays to take pictures of his friends and began posting them on Facebook. One player asked him to photograph a wedding and his career as a photographer was launched. Word of mouth and crossover among the LGBT sports teams led to him photographing for Stonewall Kickball, Stonewall Dodgeball, Stonewall Bocce, Federal Triangles Soccer Club, D.C. Gay Flag Football League, Rogue Darts and Rogue Cornhole. He also traveled with Stonewall Sports this past summer to Raleigh where he photographed the seven sports being played in their annual Stonewall National Tournament. Being on the sidelines watching the LGBT sports teams evolve has given Gallagher the opportunity to observe the rewards that players are experiencing from being a part of a larger community. “This isn’t just a group of similar types of LGBT people, it is a diverse group who are forming bonds, experiencing camaraderie and finding second families through sports,” Gallagher says. “After living through decades of people being afraid to be seen with other LGBT people, it has been beautiful to see them all together in a safe space where they can be who they are and dress as they want. Short shorts, Speedos and wigs are now everyday sporting attire.” As Gallagher’s work spreads over social media, the photos are being shared with his subject’s families and friends worldwide. His work has become a marker for his existence in the community. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM


December 7 8PM December 14 3PM | 8PM December 15 3PM Lincoln Theatre | 1215 U Street NW Tickets: 877-435-9849 or GMCW.org tickets and groups of 10 or more call 202-293-1548

On Gossamer wings? By THOM MURPHY

TOM GOSS’s new album ‘Territories’ was inspired by gay marital troubles. Album cover courtesy Press Here Publicity

This week saw the release of songwriter Tom Goss’ seventh studio album “Territories.” Goss, who is best known in the gay music scene, not unlike Steve Grand, could be best identified by his distinctive brand of indie rock, a style he dedicated his previous six albums to perfecting. Uptempo acoustic guitars and drums, an instrumentation like much of the indie rock music of the mid-2000s (think Augustana), undergirded Goss’ storytelling songwriting tendencies. But for Goss’ small, devoted following, “Territories” arrives as something of a shock. Since his emergence on the scene around 2006, his focus has been on the kind of folk rock so conducive to storytelling, and his folksy, even slightly mushy lyrics have been successful in connecting with his gay audience. Although his 2016 “What Doesn’t Break” included far more synth and electronic effects, it could still be classified as characteristically indie-pop/indie-rock, even with a slightly harder edge. The major influences of the new album seem to be ambient music and ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). ASMR has emerged in the past couple of years as a fad, which uses repeated, everyday sounds to create pleasurable feelings for listeners. “Territories,” produced by Ian Carmichael, capitalizes on the popularity of ASMR, creating tracks that would perhaps more accurately be considered soundscapes than songs. It’s a curious, maybe savvy, move on the part of Goss and his producers, but the songs are effectively stripped of any internal drive. Instead of the music being moved by a palpable sonic tension, one has more the impression of floating along aimlessly. It’s ideal music for the bathtub, for intimacy, but is so disconnected from the ordinary rhythms of life that the music is hard to place. It’s like sweeping cinematography without the directed action of the plot. Nonetheless, there is a continuity to the wanderings, with many of

the songs tied to specific geography (“Berlin,” “Quayside,” “Quebec,” “Amsterdam” and so on). And Goss succeeds in making the listener hear the distinction of each location. Take for example the single “Berlin,” a story about sexual reawakening in the German capital. Of course, the city has been of interest to gay writers and artists, especially in the English-speaking world, since Christopher Isherwood’s classic “Goodbye to Berlin” in 1939. The subsequent adaptation of the novel into the 1972 movie “Cabaret,” starring Liza Minnelli, Joel Gray and Michael York, permanently cemented Berlin in the gay imagination. The music video for “Berlin” pays tribute to this aesthetic, with its costumes and backroom-of-a-cabaret setting. It’s an interesting, conscious situation of a contemporary gay story in reference to iconic cultural markers. Press materials for the album say the song is inspired by Goss’s long-time husband’s infidelity and their subsequent decision to have an open relationship, which led Goss to a sexual reawakening. “Quayside” is the best of the on location tracks — the song is balanced, not lacking in direction like many of the others. If anything, it suffers from an overly redundant chorus, not unlike Goss’ hymn to “Berlin.” Despite the washy, vaguely nauseating synth punctuated by ASMR, the album manages a couple of gems despite itself. “Eve” is a fantastically balanced, sexy song that succeeds on every point. There is a delightful Ben Folds-esque quality to it, and rather swimming about without direction, the track takes us somewhere. It’s bound to be one of the more popular on the new album. Likewise, “Zedel” is a delightful blues-influenced track, which Goss pulls off deftly. One common feature of these tunes is that both are keyboard driven, which gives the music more structure and Goss a framework in which to shine. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Great views of Paris. Be sure and visit the Montmartre Museum as well and the associated Renoir Gardens. Where to eat Grab coffee at Alma Coffee. Don’t ask for milk or cream in your coffee. The French don’t use it and don’t drink (although they eat a lot of cheese). Ma Bourgogne has great steak and fries (in the Marais).

An outdoor Paris cafe.

Bienvenue a Paris gay

French capital city is great for a wintertime visit By BILL MALCOLM

Editor’s note — This is a new column. The Blade editors welcome Bill Malcolm to the fold. Winter is the perfect time to visit Paris. The crowds are gone. The weather is not as cold as many U.S. cities. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in museums, it doesn’t matter anyway. Plus, Paris has a great gay scene and a gayborhood — The Marais. Getting there I snagged a great low fare on Delta Airlines. The service was exceptional and everything was free. Free hot dinner and breakfast, free headsets, free blankets and pillows, free eyeshades and more. Once in Paris, hop on the commuter rail to town, the RER-B then take the Metro to get to your hotel from the Gare du Nord Station. Where to stay I stayed at The Moxy, a new Marriott brand geared for millennials. The rate

was very reasonable (it varied by day with one day at just 93 Euros or around $110). It’s located near the Marais in the Bastille District and near no less than three Metro stations. You can walk to many of the major attractions or hop on the subway. Two nearby stores (Franprix) have everything you need including salad bars, hot sandwiches and great selections of wine. Nightlife The bars are mostly in the Marais. Bears will of course like the Bears’ Den. The Open Café serves food and is a lot of fun. Sly Bar has a great happy hour and karaoke on Mondays and Tuesdays. The Raidd bar has a shower show. You can dance the night away at Le Depot. What to do The first day I walked around the historic Marais District. Like many gayborhoods, it has been gentrified and is now full of high-end stores as well. The second day visit the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, walk along the Seine River and explore the shops of the Champs-Elysees. Then visit the new Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at The Louvre. The third day explore the Natural History Museums, the zoo (Le Zoo du Jardin des Plantes), the Indoor Tropical Gardens, the Botanical Gardens, then walk back to the hotel. There’s also a farmer’s market on Sundays in the Bastille District where you can find local delicacies including pig’s feet, French cheeses, Paella and every kind of pastry and bread you could want. I liked the new Liberation Museum (Musee de la Liberation de Paris) which chronicles the German occupation of France. Day four go to visit Montmartre and

Travel tips • Your ATM card works at French banks and they don’t charge a withdrawal fee. • Many of the museums are free the first Sunday of the month in the winter. • Paris is seven hours ahead of Chicago so the jet lag is a hassle. Try to check into your hotel early but wait until 3 to take a nap. On the way home, stay up late at home to re-adjust. • The Euro is worth slightly more than the U.S. dollar. • Tips are included at restaurants. • Buy a 10 ticket pack of Metro tickets and save. • Turn off your phone and put it in Airplane mode. Shut off all data for all your apps too. Otherwise you will face roaming charges from French carriers which can be quite high. Most places have free internet so you can stay connected that way. • Most locals speak some English but if you can, try to start the conversation in French. For more information and travel ideas Paris has a number of LGBTQ publications all of which have city gay guides. Qweek has a lot of ideas especially for nightlife (Qweek.fr) along with maps of the neighborhoods. Strobo Magazine has a great map of the nightlife (strobomag.com). Tribu is another great publication also with a map. Parisinfo.com has travel tips as well and you can visit them at the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) in the Marias. You can’t beat a winter visit to gay Paree.

Bill Malcolm is the nation’s only syndicated LGBTQ value travel columnist. He resides in Indianapolis and his column is or has been run by LGBTQ publications in Indianapolis, Chicago, TampaOrlando, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Detroit, Washington, Raleigh, Charlotte and Palm Springs and also found on the IGLTA travel blog. He received no compensation of any kind from any of the places visited (nor airlines nor hotels). His opinions are his own.

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Bring miles of smiles to gearheads and others on your shopping list By JOE PHILLIPS Porsche Kiddie Car The Baby Porsche 4S ($165) is a fun ride for tots, made of high-quality plastic and sporting a lizard green paint job. But beware: With the soft seat, “whisperquiet” tires and mechanical horn — along with nifty 3D headlights and taillights — it’s easy to see how kids today just might expect you to buy them a real Porsche when it’s time for their first real car. Ferrari Pilota Watch A limited-edition Pilota chronograph watch ($399) from Ferrari features an elegant black dial with red and silver accents. There’s also a black perforated wrist strap and red stitching. Another plus: The stainless-steel watch is water resistant to 325 feet. Mercedes Shopping Bag Forget typical grocery bags. Mercedes has an all-purpose shopping bag ($25) made of gray felt with an embroidered black logo. There’s also a zipped inner pocket for keys, wallets and such. And the bag’s handles are made from real seat-belt material to make them extra sturdy. Nissan Nismo Socks To keep toes toasty, Nissan offers 15inch black socks ($14) emblazoned with the logo from its Nismo motorsports brand. The Nismo logo is on the top of the sock, with “Brake Gas” written on the bottom of one sock and “Clutch” on the bottom of the other. Mustang Boombox The Ford Mustang boombox ($110)

has Bluetooth connectivity and comes with two full-range speakers, deep bass radiator and rechargeable battery. The cool design is mid-century modern, with an AM/FM tuning dial that looks like the speedometer from a classic 1960s Stang. Mercedes Cologne Mercedes says its men’s fragrance ($85) is full of pear notes and muskmallow seeds, where “woody notes unfold through elegant rosewood on a bed of oakmoss.” In other words, it smells nice. Jaguar XKSS Racing Espresso Set What better way to get your pulse racing than with high-test espresso served in mugs featuring the iconic 1957 Jaguar XKSS roadster? These beloved cars have a storied past: Only 25 were supposed to be built and a fire destroyed nine of them. Today, they can fetch millions at auction. The four bone porcelain mugs ($64) are dishwasher safe and come with contrasting color saucers and a stylish presentation box. Land Rover iPhone Case with Terrain Icons Land Rover has various phone and tablet cases, including an iPhone case ($20) that features the automaker’s well-known terrain icons used to identify road conditions: snow, desert, off-road, etc. Yes, Samsung users, there are some other cases for you as well. Porsche Motorsport Bear For that special cub or otter in your life, Porsche has a cuddly teddy bear ($90) with motorsport racing suit, cap and lanyard.

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D.C. market becoming more balanced

D.C. is trending toward a buyers market, marking a change from recent years. Photo courtesy of Bigstock

That means it’s a better time for buyers By JOSEPH HUDSON I often hear the question – “What’s the market like?” Well, here we go – it seems that the market for real estate in D.C., while still competitive and neighborhoods are still gaining in value or staying strong in their value, is trending toward a buyers market. Based off what I have heard from other agents, houses in many instances are sitting longer on the market, getting fewer offers than we were seeing a few years ago, and buyers are starting to ask for more from the seller with regards to credits, repairs, price reductions, etc.

This could be for many reasons, but as we all know in D.C. we are headed into another election season, so many people could be “sitting it out” until 2021 just to see where we sit and how the economy is. Another major concern is the U.S./ China trade conflict. What does this mean for buyers? Well, traditionally the winter market has always leaned toward the favor of the buyer – less houses are up for sale over the holidays, but also less people tend to head out on a Wednesday night after work, in the cold, and perhaps the rain or snow to look at dream houses. Less traffic means less headache usually for buyers so if they do head out to look at houses, they might find one they like, and possibly could be the only one looking at it. So, they put in an offer and next thing you know, they are ratified and are headed toward closing. If you are a buyer, or are considering buying, find your local Realtor (you know

where to find me!) and ask them to start your search now. Combining the benefits of the winter market + a sudden shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market could be amazing for potential buyers. One quick story before I go – I had a buyer this past year who had to get ratified three times before she was able to buy. She was using many local programs for her purchase, down payment assistance, grants, HPAP and EAHP (which are programs for down payment assistance sponsored by the District of Columbia). Traditionally, a buyer like her would have a hard time getting a winning offer in, because the programs she was using have many mandatory details that sellers don’t always want to deal with like home inspections, punch lists, extra paperwork, possible delays in settlement, etc. Well, I ratified her three times this past year without much hassle, and that tells me that we are definitely

headed into buyer market territory. Why did she ratify three times? Well that’s almost a whole other article, but sometimes the houses didn’t pass inspection, the budgets of the condo buildings were not great, or there was a cloud on the title of the condo she was trying to buy. All that aside, do not fear – find a good Realtor to represent you and help you navigate the waters of going under contract and ensuring your purchase is a good one. The market is becoming more balanced between the parties involved, which is great for buyers, so happy house hunting!

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

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Pepco’s Robbie Atkins on the importance of visibility

‘When you see yourself represented, you are able to aspire for more’ FROM STAFF REPORTS In 2014, Robbie Atkins had worked for Pepco for more than 25 years, but his coworkers were still able to take him by surprise. When he and his husband, Joe, married that year, to his amazement, his entire department planned a surprise wedding party for him. “I walked into the conference room and they had an actual wedding cake,” he says. “I was totally blown away by that. I never expected them to even acknowledge my nuptials, especially not with a cake and gifts!” Since his co-workers’ visible and festive show of support, Atkins, Pepco’s Manager of Energy Supplier Services, has been witnessing more changes around the company. “Seeing our president and CEO filming a video on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots was amazing,” he says. “Five years ago, 10 years ago, you wouldn’t have seen something like that.” Last year, Atkins experienced another milestone. “Walking for the first time in the Capital Pride parade, carrying the Pepco and Exelon parade banner, with our company’s logo in the rainbow colors and representing my company in the parade was an honor and it was a great accomplishment,” he said. “Hearing the parade spectators cheer and yell ‘Pepco, Pepco, yay,’ that was really very emotional for me. After being here for 31 years, this is something that I never, ever though I was going to see.” He remembers trying unsuccessfully to raise money for the AIDS Walk in 1988. “People would say, ‘I can’t give to that.’ It made me feel like I was less of a person because I asked for money for the AIDS Walk, but yet they were fine asking me to support their kids’ popcorn and candy fundraisers.” Now, Atkins serves as treasurer for Pepco’s Pride employee resource group, focused on issues of interest and concern to LGBTQ employees and the community. He also remembers failed attempts

ROBBIE ATKINS, Pepco’s manager of energy supplier services, has been with the company for more than 30 years.

Photo courtesy Pepco; photographer Rick Giammaria; “LOVE” mural © 2017 by Lisa Marie Thalhammer, commissioned and funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DC Creates Public Art Building Communities Program

to create a Pride group in the ’90s, as people were fearful the affiliation would affect their careers. Atkins fought against those feelings. “I’ve always brought my authentic self to work. I didn’t change – what you see is what you get. There were some people who told me in order to progress, I needed to tone it down a little bit to be more like everyone else.” One incident that still stands out in his memory is a colleague commenting on a new employee saying, “Finally, a real man coming into the department.” Atkins

recalls replying, “A real man? The last time I checked, I was a real man. And she said, ‘You know what I mean.’” He was somewhat disappointed in the response of their other colleagues, who said, “That’s just her. Just let it go.” He replied, “You’re saying it’s okay for her to say that and it’s not okay.” “Certain things just stick with you and never, ever leave. I remember it as clear as day.” “I try to treat everyone the way I would want to be treated,” he adds. “I wouldn’t say

things to hurt others’ feelings just because they are different or because I might not agree with what they might want to do.” As things continue progressing, Atkins says he would like to see even more diversity and inclusion in the upper ranks of management for gays as well as African Americans and women. “Being able to see myself represented at that level gives me the drive to see that I can also be a senior vice president, or president. When you see yourself represented, you are able to aspire for more and work toward a higher goal.”

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