Washingtonblade.com, Volume 51, Issue 4, January 24, 2020

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GOOD CLEAN FUN With Crew Club closing, what’s the future of the gay bathhouse in D.C. and beyond? PAGE 23






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Comings & Goings New communications manager at AIDS United

Check It, Whitman-Walker, AHF join MLK parade

By PETER ROSENSTEIN The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: comingsandgoings@ washblade.com. Congratulations to Helen Jeannette Parshall on her new position as Communications Manager HELEN JEANNETTE with AIDS United. The organization’s mission is to PARSHALL end the HIV epidemic in the United States. Upon being named to the position, she said, “As a younger bisexual activist, I stand on the shoulders of so many in the LGBTQ community lost to HIV & AIDS — people who paved the way for me to be who I am openly and without fear. … Our communities must support the health, wellbeing and human rights of everyone impacted by HIV and center the stories of those most disproportionately affected.” Prior to this, Marshall was Digital Medial Manager JEFFREY MACK with the Human Rights Campaign. She worked as a freelance writer and as an International News Intern with the Washington Blade. She was a reporter with the National News Service and earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Latin American Studies and a master’s in multi-platform Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. Congratulations also to Jeffrey Mack, the new Assistant Dean and Director of Advancement for the College of Architecture, Design, and Art at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is leaving his TYLER HATCH position with the Kennedy Center where he was Vice President of Individual Campaigns. Mack’s team raised more than $250 million to build the new REACH at the Kennedy Center. He said, “Working for the Kennedy Center has been a true honor and a dream come true. After 10 years in this wonderful city, I am looking forward to a new chapter in life and the world of academia and the arts.” His career at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts included being Chief Development Officer for the Washington National Opera where he also served as co-interim executive director. Prior to that he worked as senior director of Philanthropic Partnership with Hunt Alternatives and Chief Development Officer for the American Red Cross. Jeffrey was at the Human Rights Campaign as Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager. Congratulations also to Tyler Hatch who began his new job as Development Director at the Friends of the Truman Foundation. Friends of the Truman Foundation is the nonprofit partner to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. Established by Congress in 1975, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship is an independent executive branch agency, and reflects President Truman’s desire not to be honored by a bricks and mortar monument but rather by a living memorial that would act as a catalyst of support for future generations of public servants. The Truman Foundation fulfills that mission by selecting as Truman Scholars, each year, outstanding young people from every state and territory of the United States who are committed to public service leadership. Prior to starting this position, he was associate director of Donor Relations at the American Constitution Society and worked as a policy analyst with Business Strategy Consultants, D.C., and as Development Fund Associate with the College of Idaho, Caldwell, ID.

Mayor Muriel Bowser marched in Monday’s MLK parade with members of King’s family.

The LGBTQ youth business and services group Check It Enterprises, Whitman-Walker Health, and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation were among the dozens of contingents that joined D.C.’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Peace Walk and Parade on Jan. 20. Check It Enterprises, whose headquarters is located on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, S.E., where the MLK Parade passes each year, had a float in the parade on Monday that featured two go-go bands, according to Check It co-founder and managing member Ron Moten. Also located near where the parade began in Anacostia is Whitman-Walker’s Max Robinson Center, whose staff members as well as staff and board members from Whitman-Walker’s other offices joined the parade in a walking contingent, said spokesperson Abby Fenton. Fenton said Whitman-Walker’s HIV testing van was also part of WhitmanWalker’s parade contingent. Thousands of marchers from D.C. and the surrounding jurisdictions were expected to join the parade, which traveled a two-mile route along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue from its starting point at Good Hope Road in Anacostia to the Gateway Pavilion at 2730 MLK Ave. Whitman-Walker and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is headquartered in Los Angeles but has two offices in D.C. and one in Prince George’s County, Md., as well as other locations across the country, provide health care and HIV services to the LGBTQ community. Among those marching in the parade this year were D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and at least six members of the D.C. Council, including Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Ward 8 Council member Trayon White in whose ward the parade took place. Joining the mayor in the parade was Martin Luther King III, the son of the famous civil rights leader, along with other members of the King family. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

D.C. Council member White announces re-election bid

D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) on Monday officially announced his decision to run for a second term in office at a rally at the headquarters of Check It Enterprises, the LGBTQ clothing manufacturing business in Anacostia that provides services to youth. About 100 people, most wearing White-for-re-election T-shirts packed a basement meeting room at the Check It building at 1920 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., S.E., where White talked about his accomplishments as the Ward 8 Council member. “Check It is not endorsing any candidate,” said Ron Moten, one of the Check It founders who serve as its managing member. “However, we have no problem with Mr. White as he consistently supported Check It,” Moten told the Washington Blade. “Any public official who wants to use our business to showcase what change and opportunity looks like is welcome.” White told the Blade after his announcement ceremony that representatives of other D.C. LGBTQ groups, including the youth services group SMYAL and Casa Ruby LGBTQ community services center, attended his announcement event. Among those in attendance was SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir. “I supported Check It,” White said. “I supported SMYAL. I supported Casa Ruby,” he said. “LGBTQ communities are welcome in Ward 8. I think we ought to be inclusive. So we’re happy and excited to have it at Check It, a black-owned business right here in Ward 8 celebrating black excellence in our community.” Check It was founded by former members of what had been known as the Check It youth gang who, through advice and support from Moten, started a T-shirt manufacturing business. The youth founders have since expanded their role to serve as an educational and resource center for at-risk youth. Records from the D.C. Board of Elections show that nine candidates running as Democrats have filed papers to run against White in the city’s June 2 primary election. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

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Gay man running for Baltimore City Council A gay man who is a candidate for the Baltimore City Council this week described his decision to run as a “calling.” “I am a man of faith and I believe that ultimately something in me just kind of stirred when there were no choices,” Akil Patterson told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview. Patterson, 36, hopes to succeed incumbent Council member Shannon Sneed, who is running to become the Council’s next president. Former Baltimore City Council candidate NAACP President Ben Jealous and Akil Patterson Photo courtesy of Patterson Jason Collins, the first openly gay man to play in the NBA, are among those who have endorsed Patterson. Patterson could become the first LGBTQ person elected to the Council if he were to win his race. “I do not believe that gender or sexual orientation should ever prohibit us from being in these positions,” said Patterson. “But I also think that it’s important to recognize when diversity is stepped up.” Patterson said crime is “the number one issue that we consistently hear about.” He said there have been between 25-30 shootings in the 13th District over the last two months. Patterson noted the Baltimore Police Department remains under state control, but the Council has a direct role in the city’s economic development. “If we bring economic development and resources, that means the community benefits from them, that means a reduction of crime,” he said. “Where you see prosperity, economic development and hope, you see less crime. Where you see blight, degradation and negativity you see crime.” Patterson also discussed gentrification and the need to ensure the district’s longtime residents can remain in their homes. “The vision for East Baltimore has to be more (comfortable) with the idea of keeping the community members, and bringing in economic development for those community members to benefit from,” he said. Patterson spoke with the Blade less than two months after former Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion charges that relate to the sale of copies of her “Healthy Holly” children’s book series to the University of Maryland Medical System while she served on its board. “The previous mayor … did some things that were questionable and ultimately she had to pay the consequences for those actions,” said Patterson. Patterson also noted Pugh is one of several people from “a political dynasty” in Baltimore who have been indicted and sent to jail. “We’ve got to take a step back,” said Patterson. “Everyone talks about we want change, but if you keep electing the same type of folks, you’re not going to get change.” State Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), a lesbian, is among those who have announced they are running to succeed Pugh. “She has been a great leader,” said Patterson, noting he supported her campaigns for the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates. “I wish her well in her candidacy.” Patterson, who is originally from Buffalo, N.Y., played football at the University of Maryland. Patterson was later the Terrapins’ wrestling coach. Patterson coached Hudson Taylor, founder of Athlete Ally, an organization that promotes acceptance of LGBTQ athletes, when he was a University of Maryland wrestler. Patterson is a former Athlete Ally consultant who has worked with the NBA and NFL on LGBTQ-specific issues. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Va. Senate passes four LGBTQ rights bills The Virginia Senate on Tuesday approved four LGBTQ rights bills. Senate Bill 245, which state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) introduced, would prohibit any health care provider or counselor in Virginia from practicing so-called conversion therapy. The measure passed by a 20-18 vote margin. “We’re thrilled to see the Virginia Senate pass this bill protecting LGBTQ youth from this harmful practice,” Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck told the Washington Blade during a telephone call. Previous versions of the bill have been introduced since 2016, but consistently failed to pass the Senate. The Senate also passed Senate Bill 161, a measure sponsored by state Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax County) that would require school boards to adopt policies to ensure transgender students have equal access to school facilities and appropriate ID cards. SB 161 would also address harassment. The measure passed by a 24-15 vote margin. The Senate on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 657, a bill introduced by Boysko that would allow trans Virginians to update their name and sex on their birth certificate, by a 24-15 vote margin. Senate Bill 17, a measure introduced by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) that would repeal Virginia’s statutory same-sex marriage ban, passed by a 25-13 vote margin. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

D.C. police: Death at MAL host hotel due to natural causes A 55-year-old man from New York City attending D.C.’s Mid -Atlantic Leather events last weekend died Jan. 19, of natural causes in his room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, according to D.C. Police Lt. Brett Parson. “It was purely natural causes,” said Parson, who oversees the Metropolitan Police Department’s LGBT Liaison Unit. “It was a medical emergency.” Parson told the Washington Blade that because it was a natural death and there were no signs of foul play, police will not disclose the deceased individual’s name. Parson said he wanted to inform the community about what he called an unfortunate occurrence at the otherwise successful MAL weekend events to dispel rumors that might surface suggesting something other than a death by natural causes. One unfounded rumor came to the Blade on Monday by email from a leather enthusiast in Florida who said he learned through “social media” that four people associated with MAL may have been arrested over the weekend and the death was being “swept under the rug.” “There were no arrests related to anything involving MAL this weekend,” Parson said. “I am absolutely certain of that.” He said he could not say for sure if someone participating in MAL was arrested at one of the numerous private parties or unofficial activities that participants may have attended. The person who emailed the Blade said he did not attend MAL and did not know who it was that claimed arrests were made. Between 3,000 and 5,000 people were expected to participate in D.C.’s annual MAL events that took place Jan. 17-20 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel near Capitol Hill and other venues, including the local gay bars DC Eagle, Green Lantern, and Uproar. A spokesperson for MAL couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the death of the MAL attendee. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

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Rep. Brown explains why Buttigieg is ‘the real deal’

Md. congressman campaigning for Pete in Iowa, Michigan

By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com

Coming off the weekend campaigning for Pete Buttigieg in Iowa and acting as a surrogate at events in Detroit, Rep. Anthony Brown is telling voters the former South Bend mayor is the real deal. In an interview Tuesday with the Washington Blade, Brown said he’s been paying attention for months to the presidential candidate — the first competitive openly gay presidential candidate — and was impressed with his performance in debates as well as his vision for foreign policy. After meeting with him in November, Brown said he was impressed with what he saw, then went to Iowa as an observer to “kick the tires, look under the hood.” “I liked what I saw,” Brown said. “I saw an audience that he was connecting to. There seemed to be good energy, good reception in his message.” All that led to Brown’s endorsement of Buttigieg earlier this month. The Maryland Democrat is the first black member of Congress to support Buttigieg, which stands out because Buttigieg has been polling at zero percent among black voters in some polls. Much of that lack of support has been attributed to Buttigieg’s actions as mayor, such as his response to a white South Bend police officer shooting a black man on his watch. Brown said that issue is valid, but that the black community in South Bend has been fully behind Buttigieg and remains so in the presidential race. “If you look at South Bend itself, and there you can look at the African-American civic leaders, elected leaders, business leaders who know him best, he’s got a tremendous amount of support among those African-American leaders,” Brown said. Read the interview below (the full Q&A is at washingtonblade.com): Washington Blade: Tell me a little bit about how you first met Pete Buttigieg and what your initial takeaways were from him. Rep. Anthony Brown: The first time I met him was in September, and it was a brief fiveminute encounter at the Congressional Black Caucus weekend conference gala. It was a big event and literally five minutes. An immediate connection there. It’s been my common experience with someone who served in uniform. Although I always say “Beat Navy” because I’m an Army guy. I think the fact that he’s in the Navy and I’m in the Army,

U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) endorsed Pete Buttigieg, citing his military experience. Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers

there’s just that sort of fraternal connection that we seem to have, so we connected well. It felt good, but again it was mostly just sort of small talk, and stuff like that. Prior to that — that was in September — I actually started paying attention to him as early as July. In July, he gave a foreign policy, national security speech at Indiana University. I didn’t see the speech. I wasn’t there. I read it with my military background and my work on the House Armed Services Committee. I knew that where the candidates are on foreign policy, national security would mean a lot to me. And I was very impressed by his precision, his vision, his priorities and stuff like that. So, he caught my attention. And I saw watching him during the debates, his breadth of understanding, along all of the issues. He seemed very thoughtful and not rehearsed very comfortable, yet not overly confident. So I was impressed by his grasp of the issues, and the way that he was able to communicate thoughts and issues and ideas. And then in November, I guess it was, we sat down for 30 minutes, and we had a real good conversation. Basically, his campaign had reached out to my office and we finally made it work. And I had the opportunity to talk to him about more on national security. I asked about how the campaign was doing, his relationship with the African-American community, his record in South Bend and he was almost as impressive, well actually I would say he was just as impressive, in my thoughts on various issues as I was on his. And then in December, I decided to spend a weekend on the campaign trail, sort of like kick the tires, look under the hood, see whether this guy was the real deal and I thought the best

way to do it was to spend time with him in Iowa, and I did that the weekend after Christmas. And I basically went there to hear him, but my eyes were on the audience and I watched him in probably six or seven different large audiences, venues, town halls and the like. And I liked what I saw. I saw an audience that he was connecting to. There seemed to be good energy, good reception in his message. And I came out of that weekend knowing that I was going to endorse him. So that’s kind of the chronology, if you will. Blade: I can see that a lot went into your endorsement. Did you receive any blowback when you made that announcement? Brown: No. I mean, no blowback. I mean, you know, a lot of people just started asking why, which is not uncommon, and I’ve endorsed candidates at every level on the ballot, first of all, because I’ve been in this business for 25 years, and you always get sort of like, ‘Hey, what’s that all about? What went into it? Did you have a relationship? What was the particular connection? And so, there was certainly that. I think the fact that I was the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse him, that caught a lot of other people’s attention, but I wouldn’t say blowback. I would just say a lot of inquiries, right? “Hey, tell me more. How do you get there?” And it was more of that…Little negative reaction if you will to it. So, yeah, I think that’s been my experience in the last three weeks. Blade: It’s no secret though that polls are showing Mayor Pete has virtually no support among black voters. Why is that? Brown: Well, first of all, you got to set the table, which I’m sure you’re familiar with.

The two candidates in this race who’ve run nationwide, the Vice President [Joseph Biden], and Sen. Sanders. Together, you have probably 70 percent in most polls of African-American support and then the other however many candidates are left — I don’t know, maybe 10 — split that, most of whom are in single digits. And I really attribute the lack of support if you will, to lack of familiarity, right? The more that communities get to know Pete, and this is true whether it’s African-American, the Latino community, working-class community, rural community, Iowa, South Carolina, etc., the more that people get to know Pete Buttigieg — and once they get beyond how to properly pronounce his name — and are squarely considering not just who he is, as a person, but what are the differences he’s going to make in my life? In other words, where is he on issues? What are his priorities? What are his values?… People that know Pete Buttigieg are the people who support Pete Buttigieg. And I think Iowa is a great example, right? A year ago today, he was probably registering near zero percentages as well in the polls, along with all the other campaigns. He spent a lot of time in Iowa, to strengthen his organization, enthusiasm that I saw when I was there, and his standing among the voters is measured in many polls. He’s done very well. If you look at South Bend itself, and there you can look at the African-American civic leaders, elected leaders, business leaders who know him best, he’s got a tremendous amount of support among those African-American leaders. Blade: But should voters be concerned about a South Bend white police officer shooting a black man and housing projects at the expense of low-income homes under Mayor Pete’s watch? Brown: I think America is concerned. Many of us are when you see police community relations that results in a police-involved death. … And I think one of the things that I respect and appreciate about Pete Buttigieg is that he understands those issues and he has worked during his eight years as a mayor in South Bend to bring together a very diverse community, to make sure that he in a very collaborative way… that they’re making the kinds of adjustments and improvements that they need.

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Buttigieg nixes fundraiser at gay club, angering male pole dancers ‘If you want to dance on a pole, we’re the place to be’ By CHRIS JOHNSON cjohnson@washblade.com

The decision by Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign to nix a fundraiser planned at a gay club in Providence — which the venue says is over a dancing pole the owners refused to remove — is angering some LGBTQ people, including male pole dancers who say the decision was unwarranted. Among the pole dancers critical of the decision was Steven Retchless, a gay male pole dancer who made the semi-finals on Season 6 of “America’s Got Talent” and won the title in 2010 of American Pole Fitness Champion. “The pole stigma is associated with sex work, but sex workers whether they’re on a pole or not are humans, too, and shouldn’t be discriminated against for providing a service as old as time,” Retchless told the Washington Blade. “Get over it and support the whole gay community — not just the picture perfect, ‘masc for masc,’ fit-into-a-box and label-me-conservative side.” Retchless, who studied dance as a youth at the Las Vegas Academy of Perfoming Arts & California Institute of the Arts, has toured internationally and taught at Body & Pole studio in New York City. Denouncing both Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, Retchless indicated his support instead for Bernie Sanders. “I don’t believe in politics,” Retchless said. “I think it’s all carefully orchestrated by corporations and conglomerates fueled by greed. Pete and Warren are just in it to divide up the Democrats and the only one with a history of fighting for human rights is Sanders.” News broke over the weekend that Buttigieg had cancelled at the last minute a fundraiser at the Dark Lady, a popular LGBTQ nightclub in Providence, R.I., last week as a result of a dancing pole at the center of the club. Instead, the event was held at the nearby Hotel Providence. Buck Asprinio, the general manager of the Dark Lady, is quoted by local affiliate WPRI as saying the Buttigieg campaign asked staff members to remove the pole, but the owners refused.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, Ind.) at the CNN and Des Moines Register’s Democratic presidential debate. File photo courtesy CNN/Des Moines Register

“It’s been here since we opened and it’s not going anywhere,” Asprinio is quoted as saying. “The dancer pole is part of who we are -- if you want to dance on a pole, we’re the place to be.” Asprinio is quoted as saying the Buttigieg campaign was aware of the pole prior to the event — which was widely publicized on social media because owners sent images of the interior well before the event had started. “We had sent pictures of the club, they knew exactly what the place looked like,” Asprinio reportedly said. “We thought the fundraiser was going forward at full force.” Tess Whittlesey, a Buttigieg campaign spokesperson, didn’t dispute the account of the cancellation, but emphasized the candidate — the first major openly gay candidate in the presidential primary — has hosted events at LGBTQ venues. “Our commitment to LGBTQ+ spaces is strong and we always strive to hold events in inclusive spaces,” Whittlesey said. “Pete and Chasten know first-hand how important it is for members of the LGBTQ+ community to have a safe space to gather and our campaign would never do anything to intentionally disrespect

such a space.” The Buttigieg campaign provided a list of dozens of LGBTQ venues where the candidate has held events, such as the Human Rights Campaign gala in Houston and the Las Vegas LGBTQ Center, and places where the candidate has had a presence, such as the annual Creating Change conference hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force taking place now in Dallas. None of the venues listed, however, seem comparable to a gay nightclub. According to a news statement from “Queers Not Here for Mayor Pete,” staff arrived four hours early to prepare for the fundraiser. The cancellation, the group says, came just 12 minutes before the expected start time, cost the bar an estimated $1,000 and workers were unable to receive tips they had anticipated. The Dark Lady, according to the group, has hosted a variety of LGBTQ community events and political events without issue, hosting senators, members of Congress, governors, mayors, Hillary Clinton and Barney Frank. Anthony Derose, who’s known as the drag queen Jacqueline DiMera and performed at the Dark Lady for 13 years,

said in a statement he won’t support Buttigieg as a result of the cancellation. “All of the sudden our club is not good enough,” Derose said. “I was so excited to get to meet Pete and Chasten a month ago, but now I’m going to have to find another candidate.” A Buttigieg staffer said the campaign had offered to compensate the Dark Lady for the event after cancelling at the last minute. Asprinio told the Blade “it’s very true” the campaign made that offer, but it wouldn’t have covered the cost of expenses. “The [campaign] offered the $400 base fee,” Asprinio said. “I had to pay they entire staff for four hours. I lost over $1,000.” Philip Deal, a queer-identified pole dancer who founded Mr. Pole Dance America, told the Blade the decision to nix the fundraiser was “shameful,” suggesting LGBTQ people should look to another candidate. “In a way, this validated an important point about leadership,” Deal said. “Voting for someone who has lived long enough to experience American history does make a lot of sense.” A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Deal was a featured dancer at the Chasers nightclub in North Carolina and won medals in national pole dancing competitions. Deal said the cancellation demonstrates a point about leadership, indicating voters should instead consider either Warren or Sanders. “If Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders were invited to visit the Dark Lady, I don’t think ether one would bat an eye about it,” Deal said. “This points to a bigger issue in the LGBT community which is young gay people don’t know our history and that’s a serious problem. LGBTQ people died for the right to walk into a bar, dance, and hold hands with their lovers without having to fear police brutality. If Pete Buttigieg does not want to embrace our glorious gay culture, he doesn’t need the gay vote.”

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Image via YouTube

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation into law banning the use of the gay panic defense in court.

N.J. is 9th state to ban ‘gay panic’ defense

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law Tuesday legislation that would prohibit the use of gay or trans panic as a defense in state court, making the Garden State the ninth in the United States to enact such a law. “We will always stand with our LGBTQ+ community and promote full equality for all our residents,” Murphy said in a statement. “Gay and trans panic defenses are rooted in homophobia and abhorrent excuses that should never be used to justify violence against vulnerable populations. With this new law, we are enacting critical measures to protect our friends and neighbors in the LGBTQ+ community.” Individuals accused of violent crimes against LGBT people have in the past invoked gay and trans panic defenses in court to receive a lesser sentence, and in some cases, avoid conviction. In essence, the accused would blame the emotional disturbance of finding their victim was LGBT to avoid legal consequences for the act of violence. Primary sponsors of the legislation, known as A1796, include New Jersey State Assembly members John McKeon and Joann Downey and State Sens. Joe Lagana and Vin Gopal. “The ‘gay panic or trans panic’ defense is not a freestanding defense to criminal liability, but rather a legal tactic,” McKeon said in a statement. “Whether the person was gay, transgender or heterosexual, sexual orientation should not have any bearing on determining a person’s guilt in a murder trial. It is prejudiced against the LGBTQ community.” CHRIS JOHNSON

RuPAUL to host SNL for first time

Thousands attend Creating Change

Everything seems to be coming up RuPaul these days. The Emmy-winning icon, who is not only the creator of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” but a renowned recording artist, actor, and drag superstar, has never been far out of the limelight. In recent months, however, he seems to be practically bathing in it. On Jan. 10, Netflix premiered “AJ and the Queen,” the 10-episode comedy in which he has his first-ever leading role in a scripted TV series, and it’s been getting him plenty of extra attention. Before that, VH1 announced in August that it would bring back “Drag Race” for a 12th season, as well as an “All-Stars 5” and a new “Celebrity Drag Race” edition over the next year. In addition, The “Drag Race” brand announced plans for even greater expansion worldwide, with a first season of “Canada’s Drag Race” and a second season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” planned for debuts in 2020. Now, RuPaul will join the ranks of some of pop culture’s greatest icons when he takes the stage in front of a live studio audience in New York’s Rockefeller Center on Feb. 8 for his debut gig as host of “Saturday Night Live.” As announced by NBC, RuPaul will serve as host for the episode, with Justin Bieber as musical guest, one week after an episode featuring NFL star J.J. Watt as host and country artist Luke Combs as the musical guest on Feb. 1. Though it marks RuPaul’s first appearance as host, it’s not the first time the 59-year-old star has been on SNL – in 1993, he appeared in a sketch during a show hosted by Charles Barkley. After NBC’s announcement, the Twitter account for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” posted an image with the caption, “Start your engines…and live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!!! Can’t wait Mama.” JOHN PAUL KING

DALLAS — Thousands of activists from the U.S. and around the world attended he National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference that took place last weekend in Dallas. A rally against anti-transgender violence took place on Jan. 16 before the conference officially began with a keynote speech from Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, founder of the Center for Transformative Change in California. The Task Force on the same night honored Monica Roberts, a Houston-based trans activist and blogger. The Task Force’s annual “State of the Movement” speech on Jan. 17 was a plenary that focused on trans women of color. Executive Director Rea Carey and Deputy Executive Director Kierra Johnson joined Micky Bradford of the Transgender Law Center, Taffy Lei Johnson of the Seattle-based United Territories of Pacific Islanders’ Alliance, Jade Lenore of AIDS United and Jeynce Mizrahi Poindexter of Equality Michigan on stage. “When we were talking about this conversation that we wanted to have together today, we talked about the power of culture change,” said Carey at the beginning of the plenary. “We all know that while policy and legislation having strong pro-LGBTQ legislative change is a necessary part of protecting LGBTQ people and our families, we also know that policy has and never will take care of all of it.” José Gutiérrez, founder of the Latino GLBT History Project, and Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, a Puerto Rico-born LGBTQ activist who lives in Maryland, are among those who attended the conference. Other attendees included Arizona state Rep. Daniel Hernández; Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund Executive Director Andy Marra; Quentin Hill of A Wider Bridge and Arianna Lint, executive director of Arianna’s Center, an organization that serves trans people in South Florida. The first Creating Change took place in 1988. Next year’s conference will take place in D.C. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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Group demands ICE release trans woman An advocacy group says a transgender woman who is in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in New Mexico is “in a life-or-death medical crisis.” The Santa Fe Dreamers Project, an Albuquerque-based immigrant advocacy group, in a Jan. 16 press release says ICE last December released a trans asylum seeker from El Salvador identified as J.H. from the Cibola County Correctional Center where she had been detained for nearly a year. The press release notes ICE released J.H. after she successfully proved her life “would be in grave danger if she were returned to El Salvador.” The Santa Fe Dreamers Project says J.H. “became gravely ill” and was hospitalized for several days at Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque. The press release notes ICE once again detained her on Jan. 13, two days after her release from the hospital, and returned her to the Cibola County Correctional Center. The press release notes J.H. had a seizure within 24 hours after ICE detained her and she “is reportedly in very bad condition.” “Advocates and lawyers from Santa Fe Dreamers Project have been in round the clock communication with ICE leadership in ABQ (Albuquerque) demanding that she be released or, at the very least, she is brought to proper medical care,” says the Santa Fe Dreamers Project. “She has not been provided her routine medication or the antibiotics she was prescribed at Lovelace.” Roxsana Hernández, a trans Honduran woman with HIV who had briefly been detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center, died at Lovelace Medical Center on May 25, 2018. This reporter is among the handful of journalists who ICE invited to tour the facility last June. More than two dozen trans women at the Cibola County Correctional Center in a letter they sent to Trans Queer Pueblo, a Phoenixbased group that advocates on behalf of undocumented LGBTQ immigrants, roughly two weeks after the reporters’ visit complained about inadequate medical care and staffers who “psychologically and verbally” mistreated them. ICE has been sharply criticized over the treatment of trans women at other detention centers around the country. More than 40 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives last week called for ICE to release all trans people who are in their custody. An ICE spokesperson did not return

the Blade’s request for comment on the Santa Fe Dreamers Project’s claims. ICE in previous interviews and statements has nevertheless defended its treatment of trans people in their custody. A 2015 memorandum thenICE Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations Thomas Homan signed requires personnel to allow trans detainees to identify themselves based on their gender identity on data forms. The directive, among other things, also contains guidelines for a “respectful, safe and secure environment” for trans detainees and requires detention facilities to provide them with access to hormone therapy and other trans-specific health care. “Cibola is not equipped to handle this,” Santa Fe Dreamers Project Advocacy Director Alma Rosa Silva Bañuelos, who also works with the Trans Latin@ Coalition, told the Blade on Saturday in reference to J.H. “She needs to be hospitalized.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

First 2020 murder of trans woman reported in El Salvador CIUDAD DELGADO, El Salvador — A transgender woman was found dead in El Salvador on Jan. 17. The body of Briyit Michelle Alas, 22, was found in the Santa Margarita 2 neighborhood of Ciudad Delgado. She was not immediately identified because authorities did not find her ID documents at the scene; but she had been shot three times in her torso, once behind her ear and once in her shoulder. Authorities said Alas was killed at least 10 hours before they found her body. A source told the Blade that Alas’s family was able to identify her. Alas had not been home for several hours when photos of her dead body with the clothes in which she had been seen began to circulate on social media. Alas’ family identified her body at the morgue. Alas is the first trans woman in El Salvador to be reported killed this year. Her murder is one of the hundreds of unresolved cases that Salvadoran LGBTQ organizations have documented and for which authorities have largely not followed up. LGBTQ activists and organizations are helping Alas’ family cover her funeral costs because they have few resources. ERNESTO VALLE

Reuven Magder after he served food to migrants who are living in a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, on Jan. 12. Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers

D.C. boy volunteers at Mexico migrant camp A D.C. boy traveled to the Mexican border city of Matamoros last week to help migrants who are living in a camp. Reuven Magder, 12, along with his father, Dan Magder, were among a group from Adas Israel Congregation in Cleveland Park who traveled to Matamoros with Team Brownsville, a group in Brownsville, Texas, that cooks food for the camp’s residents and provides them with sleeping bags and other items. The Magders and other Team Brownsville volunteers served rice, beans, chicken and juice from a nearby restaurant to hundreds of migrants. The Magders also erected a tent for two families from Honduras and Ecuador who moved into the camp. The Mexican authorities have built a dome over the area in which the Magders were working in order to provide migrants who are living in tents some protection from the elements. Resource Center Matamoros, a group co-founded by Gaby Zavala, a community organizer who lives in Brownsville, works with Mexican officials when new migrants arrive at the camp and provides them with clothes and other supplies they need. Reuven on Sunday told the Blade he decided to help migrants for his bar mitzvah project. He created a fundraiser that raised several thousand dollars for Team Brownsville. Michael Benavides, a gay man who lives in Brownsville with his husband, co-founded Team Brownsville. “I can do anything that does good in the world,” Reuven told the Blade. “I wanted to do something that was related to immigrants.” Many of the more than 2,000 people who are currently living in the camp have asked for asylum in the U.S. The Trump administration has forced them to await the outcome of their cases in Mexico under its controversial “remain in Mexico” program. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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CANNABIS CULTURE Congress holds hearing on ‘cannabis policies for new decade’ Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health last week held a legislative hearing, “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade,” during which they considered multiple legislative bills aimed at amending federal cannabis laws. This marks the first time that members of the Energy and Commerce Committee have debated issues specific to marijuana policy reform. However, during the three-hour hearing, members declined to explicitly discuss the merits of any specific cannabis measure before the committee. “At a time when nearly 70 percent of all Americans want to end our failed federal policy of blanket cannabis criminalization, it is unfortunate to see so many participants at this hearing advocating largely for business as usual,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. He continued: “The fact of the matter is that legalization and regulation work. Eleven states regulate the adult use of marijuana and 33 states provide for medical cannabis access. The time for federal policy to reflect this political and cultural reality is now. Congress should promptly approve the MORE Act and put the failed legacy of marijuana criminalization behind us.” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano expressed disappointment that Committee members failed to advance any of the bills before it, but was not surprised. “Many of these proposals, like The MORE Act, seek to fundamentally change federal marijuana policies,” he said. “However, the witnesses before the committee are proponents and purveyors of the status quo.” Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) stated, “I’m pleased Chairman Pallone and Health Subcommittee Chair Eshoo made this hearing a priority. It was important to hear a number of senior members of Congress affirming the change that is taking place at the state level and affirming the contradictions that are created by the federal government being out of step and out of touch. It’s past time for Congress to catch up with the American people.” Six cannabis-related bills are currently before the Committee, including HR 3884, the MORE Act, which recently was approved in the House Judiciary Committee by a bipartisan vote of 24-10 and waived by the House Small Business Committee. Committee members announced their intent to hold a follow up hearing in the future. Witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing were representatives from the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

1 in 7 consumers bought cannabis out of state ONTARIO, Canada — One in seven U.S. cannabis consumers acknowledge having purchased cannabis from an out-of-state market within the past year, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. A pair of investigators affiliated with the University of Waterloo in Canada assessed cannabis purchasing habits of 4,320 subjects who acknowledged having consumed cannabis in the past 12 months. Overall, 15 percent of participants said that they obtained cannabis from another state. Respondents in states where adult-use cannabis sales are legal were less likely to make out-of-state purchases than were respondents in states where cannabis access is prohibited. Respondents residing in the south-central region of the United States, which includes Texas, and the north-central region of the United States, which includes Nebraska and the Dakotas, were most likely to acknowledge making out-of-state purchases. Those subjects residing in the pacific region of the United States (California, Oregon, and Washington) were least likely to admit having done so. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.



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

Trump on trial Will we see any profiles in courage?

John F. Kennedy wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Profiles in Courage” described in Wikipedia as “short biographies describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States senators. The book profiles senators who defied the opinions of their party and constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions.” Kennedy wrote, “To be courageous, these stories make clear, requires no exceptional qualifications, no magic formula, no special combination of time, place and circumstance. It is an opportunity that sooner or later is presented to us all. Politics merely furnishes one arena which imposes special tests of courage. In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follow his conscience - the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men - each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient - they can teach, they can offer hope, they provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.” Time is near for each senator to look into their soul and decide the right thing to do based on the facts presented to them during the trial. It can be hoped, though it may be a pipe dream, they will actually listen to the facts presented and not just the media or even their constituents on one side of the issue or the other. They must determine whether or not the crimes described in the House of Representatives’ Articles of Impeachment rise to the level called for in the Constitution that reads “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” It is clear the Democrats in the House of Representatives decided the actions of Donald Trump have risen to that level. They have now presented two Articles

of Impeachment to the Senate. One on using the high office of president for personal gain involving bribery and the other to obstruct the work of the Congress outlined by the Constitution. While the public will debate these issues until the end of time it is to the United States Senate the Constitution gives the job of sitting in judgement. These 100 senators took an oath to uphold the Constitution when they were sworn in and took the following oath administered by Chief Justice Roberts prior to the beginning of the trial and signed their names to it in the Senate Oath book. “That in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.” How many have already lied under oath by swearing to this, including Majority Leader ‘Moscow Mitch’ McConnell (R-Ken.)? He said on television in a recent response to Sean Hannity, “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House counsel. The case is so darn weak coming over from the House. We all know how it’s going to end. There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office.” I am not holding my breath that we will see any Profiles in Courage. I have my opinion on what the Senate should do and that the president’s actions have risen to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. But then I am not on the jury of 100 senators. And this jury is different than a regular courtroom jury that many of us have or will serve on. This jury of 100 may ask questions that they must submit in writing and even have the final decision on what evidence can be admitted and even on how much evidence they are willing to listen to. So in many ways both sides are presenting their case not only to this jury of 100 but to the American people. It is just about a forgone conclusion this jury of 100 will acquit the president but then the jury of Americans who will vote in 2020 will have the final decision. It will be they who decide if Trump will remain in office for another four years or if they remove him.

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

Throwaway people in our midst ‘Just Mercy’ helps change the narrative on criminal justice

I recently met a grizzled panhandler walking along 16th Street in downtown Washington. He was cursing that nobody would hire him because of his criminal record. He told me that he slept in an alley, and pointed to a trashcan that he had searched four times that day. He was afraid of dying in the cold, but didn’t feel safe in homeless shelters, so he carried a knife. Somehow I was less concerned about a convict with a knife walking beside me than about the fellow five blocks south, without a conviction, who joked and complained on the same afternoon about being impeached. Why did that homeless man return to the same trash can several times a day? It was beside a stream of people who could afford to waste food. Not only was he familiar with the most promising trash cans, he knew the locations of several ATMs where kind souls could get him cash. Such is the life of a street survivor in our throwaway culture. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” So said Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch to his daughter Scout in 1962’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” His performance as the quintessential white savior defending a wrongly accused black man won him an Oscar and inspired many people to become lawyers. His halo was snatched away when Harper Lee’s novel “Go Set a Watchman,” published in 2015, revealed that Atticus served on the white supremacist Maycomb County Citizens’ Council. Speaking of points of view, Mockingbird was perfectly designed to make white people in the civil rights era feel better about themselves. Six decades later, there is more diversity among filmmakers. The current movie “Just Mercy,” starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, which also concerns an unjustly accused black man, is partly set in Monroeville, Ala., the real place that inspired the fictional Maycomb. This true story, however, is told from a black perspective. A black sensibility permeates the film.

The contrast between Bryan Stevenson‘s meeting with the wrongly convicted man’s family and the comparable scene in Mockingbird is telling: in “Just Mercy,” the defense attorney is not just paying his respects but seeking input. In “Mockingbird,” polite Negroes are plentiful on the porch and in the courtroom balcony. In “Just Mercy,” black people are active participants: they have agency. The danger Stevenson faces as a black attorney from Harvard, just by being there and persisting, is palpable. The portrayal of the prisoners whose cells are next to that of Foxx’s Walter McMillian is as humane as I have seen. Stevenson says, “We have a system of justice that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent.” According to the Equal Justice Initiative, which he founded, “Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced.” Reform is hard. As Paul Butler describes in Chokehold, “Ban the Box” policies (for which I myself testified in 2012) “prohibit employers from conducting criminal background checks until late in the application process. The hope was this would give people coming home from prison a better chance at landing an interview, but studies have shown that BTB policies have actually done more harm than good for black men. When employers don’t have actual information about whether people have a criminal background, they tend to assume that young African American men do.” Butler writes, “The truth is that the vast majority of black men have never committed a violent crime. It’s a stereotype that ... can be supported by a selective view of the evidence.” The homeless, including former prisoners, transgender people, and veterans with PTSD, represent systemic failures, as in criminal justice. Filmic truth-telling like Just Mercy can further efforts like Stevenson’s to change the narrative. Things are not always as we imagine. If we stop throwing our fellow human beings away, all of our streets can better reflect the society we have long told ourselves we are.

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

Colonel Don Schofield, Commander and Conductor

Celebrating Kate Millett’s feminist literary criticism A new series exploring lives of queer women fighting for equality

(Editor’s note: This column is the first in a series highlighting queer women feminists.) As I write this, The New York Times editorial board has just endorsed Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, two female Democratic presidential candidates. Last week, I cheered when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment! (The ERA faces legal challenges.) Until 1920, women in our country (except in a few states) didn’t have the right to vote. The 19th amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote, was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919. It was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. Since the 1900s, women have fought for the right to vote and for equality for women. Women’s rights matter to LGBTQ women. Today, many women still earn less than men. Then there’s sexual harassment and #MeToo. Misogyny lurks in the queer and hetero community. Historically, queer women have been part of the feminist movement. Yet, many second-wave feminists, out of homophobia and transphobia, disavowed or downplayed queer feminists. Betty Friedan, author of the groundbreaking “Feminine Mystique” called lesbians the “lavender menace.” (Years later, she apologized for the slur.) This series will highlight queer women who have been part of the struggle for women’s equality. I’ll begin with Kate Millett, author of the trailblazing 1970 book “Sexual Politics.” The work was such a cultural phenomenon, that in the era when magazines ruled pop culture, Millett was on the cover of Time. Why am I starting with Millett? Because feminism isn’t just political – it’s personal. When I was young and struggling to come out, I was in a bookstore with my grandmother. We noticed a book called “Flying” by Kate Millett. My grandmother thought it was a memoir by a woman pilot. Scanning the back cover, I saw that it was a memoir – but not about aviation. It was Millett’s story of

what it was like to come out as queer while famous. I wrote Millett a fan letter full of my sexual confusion and angst. Most authors would have ignored such an intrusive missive. But Millett wrote back. “Keep on truckin,’” she said to me on a postcard. Millett, who died at age 82 on Sept. 6, 2017 while vacationing in Paris with her spouse Sophie Keir, energized and inspired generations of hetero and queer women. Not only people like me, but our teachers, older sisters – our moms. Her work encouraged us to “keep truckin’” when we didn’t know how to even talk about, let alone fight against, sexism or the patriarchy. Most doctoral dissertations never make it out of academia. Even if they’re published as a book, they rarely attract much attention. Yet, as The New York Times has noted, Millett’s “Sexual Politics,” originally, her doctoral thesis, has been credited with starting a “Copernican revolution in the understanding of gender roles.” Sometimes literary criticism is as dull as dishwater and political analysis, a mindnumbing rant. But that wasn’t the case with “Sexual Politics.” In this groundbreaking work, Millett exposed the misogyny of D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and other literary titans. Norman Mailer’s obsession with masculinity, she said, was “precarious spiritual capital in need of endless replenishment and threatened on every side.” In her literary criticism, Millett used literature to show how women had internalized sexist assumptions about themselves. “Many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against,” she wrote in “Sexual Politics.” Some lesbian feminists said she didn’t come out soon enough. Yet, she spoke openly about being a lesbian — writing about her sexuality and fame in “Flying” (1974) and in another memoir “Sita*(1977).” Millett was a sculptor as well as a writer. In “The Loony Bin Trip,” she wrote about her struggles with psychiatric abuse. Yet, Millett’s greatest legacy is her feminist literary criticism. Her investigation into the gender dynamics of novels was revolutionary. It changed hearts and minds. If you have ideas for this series, Tweet me @UppityBlindGirl.

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Crew Club is closing and Glorious Health is in limbo, yet clubs in other U.S. cities are booming. What’s the future of these gay institutions? By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com

in the sauna and steam room.” It’s fair to say many gay and bi men in the region will miss the club. Owner DC Allen sold the building mid-2016 to a real estate developer, a deal that’s estimated to have netted them more than twice what they paid for it in 2003, according to city tax records. The 8,000-squarefoot, two-story building was assessed at a value of more than $5 million for 2020, according to previous Blade reports. He cited the health of his partner and his own health (they’re 70 and 63 respectively) as the main reason they opted not to seek another location. “We would not, at this point in time,

Skyrocketing real estate costs in major cities are threatening gay bathhouse culture as developers pounce on hot, valuable properties. ISTOCK PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES

Even in 2020, no one the Blade contacted would go on the record to talk about their experiences at the Crew Club, the Washington gay gym and bathhouse that will end its 25-year run next month. It wasn’t hard finding folks who went — the club near Logan Circle has always been popular. But attribution was hard to pin down. “I would go occasionally. It was very hit or miss,” one Washington gay man said. “Going on a Saturday night around 2 a.m. could be insane on some nights though. Cute, tipsy out-of-town gays who were cute and fun. I had some crazy times

be able to make our money back and I don’t know how we could retire if we had another business,” he said. Allen, circumspect in a brief phone interview this week, declined to make any of his 15 employees available for comment. He said hook-up apps like Scruff and Grindr did impact the business for “the next couple of years” after they took off, but things subsequently improved. “Some of the more marginalized [gay bathhouses] went out of business, but the rest of us saw a regular amount of business after three-five years,” he said. “There was a correction.”

He said he kept no records on how many of his clientele were locals vs. out-of-towners. Upholding a “very strict policy for our clientele,” was of utmost importance, Allen said. So is the Crew Club’s closing a one-off or is the industry — which has been around in various forms since the Roman Empire — slowly becoming a thing of the past? A Guardian article from 2014 painted a picture of dwindling businesses and an industry that had its heyday in the ’70s. It claimed about 70 were in business at the time, down from about 200 in the disco era, figures current industry insiders say are roughly accurate. And how likely is it that some other entrepreneur will eventually open another gay bathhouse here with Washington’s astronomical real estate prices and ongoing gentrification? Not to mention the lack of a Council member such as the late Jim Graham (who was gay) to help work through the red tape much as he did for other gay businesses, such as Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, that were displaced more than a decade ago by Nationals Stadium? Glorious Health Club (2120 West Virginia Ave., N.E.) survived the stadium invasion but was shuttered last March by the city for multiple building code violations. Its owners are hoping to open this month pending another inspection. But it’s not the apps, overall gay mainstreaming or waning Millennial (or Gen Z) interest that is the biggest threat to U.S. gay bathhouses. The biggest issue, one long-time veteran of the industry says, is escalating real estate prices in metro areas that have enough gay population to sustain them. Dennis Holding came out in 1971 and met Jack Campbell, who he says “pretty much was the founder” of The Club gay bathhouse chain, in 1972 in Cleveland. Holding became an investor that year in a gay bathhouse in Indianapolis (Club Indianapolis), which is still open, and has been in business for 47 years as an investor/partner. Today, he and others are behind gay bathhouses in three cities — Houston (Club Houston), Orlando (Club Orlando) and Miami (Club Aqua Miami). He’s also friendly with many others in the industry and says the situation in Washington, sadly, is not unusual. “The greatest threat to the business is the cost of real estate and the old age of the owners,” he said by phone this week from his second home in Palm Springs. “What happened in D.C. is they couldn’t

22 • WAS H IN GTO N B LAD E.CO M • JAN UARY 2 4 , 2 0 2 0

find a clear way for the operation to continue without them physically being involved and their capital, the bulk of their net worth was tied up in real estate. … I know of two or three other groups that have closed or seen their operations dwindle in the last five-seven years I guess in which the senior partner passes away and the shares end up sometimes in the hands of non-gay relatives — a sister, a brother, maybe a boyfriend, a boyfriend’s family, whatever, and they don’t quite know how to handle all of it. Their succession plans are very weak.” Holding (who has his own succession plan in place) says in some cases a straight relative has continued a gay bathhouse business — he mentions a straight owner who formerly had clubs in Dallas, Austin and Milwaukee, who ran them for years but eventually decided to sell to hungry real estate developers rather than modernize or update the clubs. “Sometimes it’s the right thing to do business wise,” Holding says. “He probably made about $6 million, they built an apartment house or two, and he moves to his hometown in California and has a nice, comfortable life. His kids had no interest in it and his father was about 95. There have been several situations like that where the real estate has just become so valuable.” Holding says other clubs will likely see the same fate in time. “I know of an operator who turned down $8 million for his real estate a month ago,” Holding says. “That’s the evil side of it, and it has nothing to do with the business.” At the height of the app scare about seven years ago, gay bathhouse owners united to form the Men’s Sauna Association (gaybathhousesauna.com) aka the North American Bathhouse Association (NABA). The preferred industry word now, members say, is sauna. Bathhouse sounds seedy and dated, some say. About 90 percent of gay bathhouses/ saunas in the U.S. are members. They joined forces for several reasons — joint bargaining power with suppliers, to provide aid to new businesses getting the run-around from various municipalities not interested in “adult” businesses, to brainstorm how to make the apps work to their advantage and other matters of joint interest. The industry, overall, is quite strong, says Tom Gatz-Nibbio, NABA executive

Gay bathhouse industry professionals at the NABA 2019 National Convention in Orlando last September. Photo courtesy NABA

director. All the major U.S. chains — Clubs (Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Dallas, Columbus), Steamworks (Berkeley, Chicago, Seattle) and Midtowne Spa (Los Angeles, Denver) are members. He says the businesses that are doing the best are the ones whose owners have invested in serious remodeling. “They’re really the industry leaders,” Gatz-Nibbio says. “The ones who have really stepped up and remodeled to provide a clean, safe environment.” Holding agrees. He estimates annual U.S. revenue industry wide to be approaching $100 million. Club Houston just finished a major renovation a few months ago. “Our slogan is ‘good clean fun,’” he says. Cleanliness is critical to the success of the business. And having what I call attractions in the play areas, the dark room — you need to have clever places to play but dirty, dank, smelly — that doesn’t work.” Gatz-Nibbio scrolls mentally over the country, mentioning markets not yet referenced here. He knows of two in New York City (East Side Club, West Side

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Club) and says it’s odd there aren’t more in that market. He says private sex parties are more “a thing” there. One closed in Chicago, but another remains. There are two each in Detroit and Las Vegas. Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta and San Diego each have one. Seattle has a Steamworks. One closed in Honolulu. There are none in San Francisco proper (the city outlawed them at the height of the AIDS crisis) but there is one nearby in Berkeley (Steamworks Berkeley) and another in San Jose (The Watergarden). Some exist in unexpected markets — Grand Rapids, Mich., (The Diplomat Club) and Colorado Springs, Colo. (Buddies Private Club). Washington could soon join Boston and New Orleans as major U.S. cities lacking one. Prohibitive real estate costs, especially anywhere near the French Quarter, have prevented anything from blossoming there, Gatz-Nibbio says. Holding says the apps turned out to be more of a hiccup than any serious disruption. “We felt it at first until people started realizing going into a stranger’s home or having a stranger into your home isn’t

always the smartest thing to do,” he says. “And people started to wake up to the false advertising. You’re expecting a 6 foot, 2 blonde hunk but the real thing at the door is not that.” Gatz-Nibbio says some apps are working with the saunas in joint partnerships. Squirt, for example, was at the last NABA convention and is partnering on an initiative. December was a record month for Holding in Houston and Miami. He’s friendly with the owner of Club Dallas, which he says is also booming. “It might have slowed growth a little, but we never lost money,” he says. A much bigger scare years ago, of course, was AIDS. “The day Rock Hudson died, our business fell off about 40, 50 percent,” Holding says. Working with area health departments, offering testing in the clubs and, of course, later the advances of protease inhibitors helped things rebound. Continues on page 33

as he was more than twice my size, I didn’t have much of a choice. What’s something trashy or vapid you love?

QUEERY Marc Donnelly

Back in the day, I remember loving to binge “Dante’s Cove.” It was terrible and fantastic. What’s your greatest domestic skill? Gardening. I’m particularly proud of my ghost and scorpion peppers that I’ve been growing for the past four years. I really love learning about the entire gardening process and appreciate the time, planning and care that goes into helping something grow. What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie or show?

Photo courtesy Six Degree Singers

QUEERY: Marc Donnelly

The Six Degree Singers associate artistic director/accompanist answers 20 queer questions By JOEY DIGUGLIELMO joeyd@washblade.com Marc Donnelly has filled many roles in the Six Degree Singers. As a countertenor, his range was expansive enough that he was formerly the alto section leader. He accompanies on the piano. He’s been on the board and this year he’s serving as associate artistic director under director Rachel Carlson, who started the 40-voice choir in her mom’s basement in early 2009. The Singers have two upcoming concerts. They’ll perform on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 4:30 p.m. at Hughes Methodist Church in Wheaton, Md.; and Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda. The program for both is “SHOWER to SHORE: a Celebration of Water,” featuring music from various genres and periods. Tickets are $12-15 (or

$15-20 at the door). Free for youth 18 and younger. Details at singsix.com or e-mail to sixdegreesingers@gmail.com with questions. About 20 percent of the choir is LGBTQ. Their repertoire is varied — contemporary, renaissance, world, folk, jazz and more. Donnelly, a 34-year-old, North Kingstown, R.I., native, moved to the region from New England in 2012 for his husband, Chris Wilbert’s, work with MedStar Emergency Physicians. Donnelly runs his own music studio offering piano and voice lessons by day (marcsdonnelly.com). He and Wilbert live in Silver Spring. Donnelly enjoys baking, cooking, gardening, neighborhood walks, dinner parties, ice skating and travel in his free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? A high school friend who’d also confided in me about something significant. We were able to support each other. I came out to the rest of the world over the following year. Who’s your LGBTQ hero? Either Ellen or Rachel Maddow. What LGBTQ stereotype most annoys you? When someone inevitably asks my husband and me who does the cooking? Our answer: we both do! What’s your proudest professional achievement? I’m very proud of having developed a music studio that focuses on a wholistic music education for all students: technique, music history, theory, listening skills, concert behavior and general civics among students.

“Queer as Folk.” This was transformative for me in college, helping me realize that LGBTQ relationships were possible by actually seeing one. We didn’t receive this input from most media growing up. Seeing it helped me to visualize that what I have now was a real possibility. What’s your social media pet peeve? Seeing people out together at a meal and all of them are on their phones. I hope for a return to our society valuing face to face interactions over screens. What would the end of the LGBTQ movement look like to you? Like attending our welcoming and embracing church, but out in the everyday world. There would be no fear of holding hands or showing affection to those you love. What’s the most overrated social custom? Having to ask permission to use the restroom.

What terrifies you?

What was your religion, if any, as a child and what is it today?

Heights. I remember being at the Grand Canyon and my dad wanted a photo of us at the edge. My brother picked me up to get me closer to the edge for a picture. I wasn’t a big fan of that at all, but seeing

I grew up in the Episcopal church and am still a regular at Christ Church in Kensington on Sunday mornings. I love that I can openly hold hands or kiss my husband in that community. We

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celebrated our wedding there and are joined with other LGBTQ couples in a truly blessed community. What’s D.C.’s best hidden gem? Biking the monuments at night is pretty spectacular. We have a route for taking out-of-town guests around the tidal basin. It’s a bit more precarious in the dark, but no one has fallen in yet. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Y2K What celebrity death hit you hardest? Ned Stark on “Game of Thrones.” When did TV decide it was OK to kill off title characters before the season was even over? If you could redo one moment from your past, what would it be? Honestly, I wouldn’t want to change any personal decisions. What are your obsessions? Vowels and intonation. I spend a lot of my days talking with singers about tall vowels. If they aren’t right, the music will never be in tune and I’m overly sensitive when they aren’t what they should be. That and ridiculously hot, hot sauce. Finish this sentence — It’s about damn time: … for some snacks. I’ve gotten hungry answering all these questions! Who’s bringing the nachos?


Meet Us at the 24 Hour Enrollment Marathon Ben’s Chili Bowl - 1213 U Street NW SAT JAN 25 12 NOON THRU SUN JAN 26 12 NOON Nearest Metro: U St/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo Station


What do you wish you’d known at 18?

• RADIO ONE: WOL-AM 1450 and MAJIC 102.3

That the best parts of life and my best friends would come in the future. It gets better!

• Autentica: WCTN-AM 950

Why Washington? Despite the traffic, life in the DMV is amazing. The cultures and languages represented, restaurants, liberal politics, access to good airports and wonderful neighbors.

JA N UA RY 2 4 , 2 0 2 0 • WA SHINGTONBLA D E.COM • 25

• Radio.com: El Zol 107.9 FM and WPGC 95.5 FM

DCHealthLink.com | (855) 532-5465 TTY 711 DC residents are required to have health insurance, get an exemption, or pay a tax penalty. We are here to help. If you have questions, please contact us.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers perform Jamar Roberts’ ‘Ode.’ Photo by Paul Kolnik; courtesyAADT

Ailey dancers return Feb. engagement at Kennedy Center is D.C. tradition The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs Feb. 4-9 at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.). Tickets start at $49. This influential dance company founded by gay, African-American dancer, choreographer and activist Alvin Ailey continues to celebrate and speak to the black American experience. This engagement includes Jamar Robert’s “Ode” about the fragility of life in a time of growing gun violence, Ailey’s classic “Revelations” and more. Visit kennedy-center.org for tickets and information.

QREW party is Feb. 1 Come sexy or comfy to slumber-themed event QREW: Lounge & Lingerie hosted by The QREW is Saturday, Feb. 1 at 10 p.m. at the DC9 (1940 9th St., N.W.). This dance party has a sexy slumber theme fit for a comfy onesie or a fun and flirty teddy. There is a $10 cover and all are welcome to this event which features music by Vodkatrina at 11 p.m. More information is available at dc9. club.

Takes two to tango Queer-centric classes start next week Queer Tango classes begin Monday, Feb. 3 from 7:30-9 p.m. at the Green Lantern (1335 Green Court N.W.). The cost is $120 for this month-long series. Tango Mercurio presents this comprehensive introduction on Mondays from Feb. 3-March 9. Roles are fluid as participants learn from both sides of the embrace. No prior dance experience is needed. Dancers are encouraged to wear leather-soled shoes or other types of footwear that allows the foot to slide upon the floor. Visit tangomercurio.org and look for the Queer Tango course for details.

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TODAY Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures: “Swan Lake” will be performed today at 1:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.). Bourne is gay and conceived a new version of the classic ballet. Tickets are $29 at kennedy-center.org.

4220). No Justice No Pride is hosting this event to help transgender D.C. residents overcome barriers to living a quality life. Visit nojusticenopride.org for more information. Dignity at Drag Bingo is tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.). One dollar from each special cocktail sold goes to Dignity-Washington as as well as to a chance to win fun prizes. For more information, visit dignitywashington.org.

The Herstorical Portraits Tour hosted by A Tour of Her Own is today from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the National Portrait Gallery (8th and F streets, N.W.). This tour delves into the images that bring to life notable and notorious American women who helped shape the nation. For more information, visit atourofherown.com. Spill the Tea with AQUA D.C. is tonight from 6-8 p.m. at Pitchers (2317 18th St., N.W.). Asian and Pacific Islander Queers United for Action hosts this event for queer and trans Asians and Pacific Islanders. Visit aquadc.us for more information. Gay and Bisexual Men Speed Dating hosted by Professionals in the City and Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) is tonight from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available via Eventbrite and Facebook events. Go Fresh! Queer Lewks presented by Kicks and Giggles is tonight at 10 p.m. at Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.). This queer house music dance party is for all races, body types, gender identities and expressions who want to sport their freshest kicks. More information on this and other events is available at greenlanterndc. com. The Abortion AF, the counterprotest to the March for Life hosted by Abortion Access Front, is today from 11 a.m.-2 p.m at the U.S. Supreme Court (1 1st St., N.E.). Abortion Access Front, the National Organization for Women, the Women’s Information Network, Feminist Campus and more invite the public to join them at the Supreme Court and counter-protest the perennial March for Life. Free signs will be provided, but attendees are encouraged to make or bring more as well. For more details, visit tinyurl.com/roeisheretostay

Saturday, Jan. 25 Drag Queen Story Hour with the D.C. Public Library is today at 10:30 a.m. at The LINE Hotel (1770 Euclid St., N.W.). Free tickets for this event are available at dqshjan.eventbrite.com. The Trans Womxn Clothing Swap at the They/Them Collective house (68

Wednesday, Jan. 29

LIAM MOWER as The Prince in ‘Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.’ Photo by Johan Persson

Allison St., N.E.) is today from 5-7 p.m. The collective is looking for make up, hair stylist and seamstress volunteers as well as donations of trans-inclusive items. Email theythemcollective@gmail.com for more information. The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts the Brother, Help Thyself Grant Awards Reception today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. BHT has donated nearly $3.3 million to the Baltimore and D.C. LGBTQ communities and welcome others to celebrate their service. Visit dceagle.com for more information. JOX hosted by Matt Black Productions is tonight at 9 p.m. at the Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.). This event features music by DJ Ultra, all-night drink specials and an $8 cover. For more information, visit greenlanterndc.com. Chanellie’s Drag Brunch is today from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.). Chanel Devereaux and her team of drag artists perform during an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet. Tickets are available on eventbrite.com.

Sunday, Jan. 26 An Australia Day Fundraiser hosted by Pitchers (2317 18th St., N.W.) is today from 4-9 p.m. This special event features a drag show, sexy kangaroos and a raffle to benefit those affected by the

JA N UA RY 2 4 , 2 0 2 0 • WA SHINGTONBLA D E.COM • 27

Australian wildfires. Details are available at pitchersbardc.com and on their Facebook page. A Down Under Drag Kiki is tonight from 8-10 p.m. at the Dupont Italian Kitchen (1637 17th St., N.W.). There is no cover for this show hosted by Emerald Star. Proceeds benefit the Australian Red Cross and the Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service. Visit dupontitaliankitchen.com for more information.

Monday, Jan. 27 The D.C. Black Pride 2020 Reveal party is tonight at 6 p.m. at Number Nine (1435 P St., N.W.). The theme for the 30th anniversary of D.C. Black Pride will be announced at this special event. Free tickets are available on eventbrite.com. LTD’s eighth Anniversary Show and Party is tonight at 7 p.m. at Le Mirch (1736 Connecticut Ave N.W.). La Ti Do’s anniversary event features a show, award presentation and after party. General admission tickets are $20 on brownpapertickets.com.

Tuesday, Jan. 28 Name Change Hearing Sign Up is today at 1:30 p.m. at the D.C. Superior Courthouse (500 Indiana Ave., N.W., room

The Bi-Bi-Bi Happy Hour is tonight from 6-9 p.m. at Homestead Food and Beverage (3911 Georgia Ave., N.W.). This event is for anyone who is bisexual, bicurious, pansexual, polysexual or questioning. Visit Facebook events for more details. The Lambda Bridge Club meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for Duplicate Bridge. No reservations are needed and newcomers are welcome. Call 202-841-0279 if you need a partner.

Thursday, Jan. 30 Queer-Trans-Nonbinary Yoga is today at 6:30 p.m. at the Lamont Dharma House (1719 Lamont St., N.W.). This event is a safe space for those who identify outside the binary or don’t feel comfortable in a yoga studio. All are welcome to attend and pay what you can. Visit Facebook events for more information. “The Murderers are Among Us” (1946), a chilling post-WWII film about Nazis living among Holocaust survivors in 1945 Berlin, screens today at 6:30 p.m. at the LIZ (1377 R St., N.W., suite 300). The Goethe-Institut Washington hosts this free screening. For more information on this and other events, visit goethe.de. D.C. Lambda Squares holds its club night tonight (and every Thursday) at 7:30 p.m. at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle). Details at dclambdasquares.org.

This Week in the Arts provided by CultureCapital.com Spring Awakening. Thru Feb 23. Round House. roundhousetheatre.org. The Bardy Bunch. Jan 24. Folger Theatre. folger.edu.


Massenet’s Thaïs Jan 30-Feb 1. Maryland Lyric Opera at The Clarice. mdlo.org.

A new production of Massenet’s rarely produced Thaïs. Claudia Zahn directs this new production in collaboration with scenic and lighting designer Harry Feiner. Sarah Joy Miller, a rising American soprano who made her Metropolitan Opera debut last season, sings the iconic title role. Louis Otey co-stars as Athanaël, and MDLO Young Artist Institute alumni Joseph Michael Brent, Hunter Enoch, Caroline Hewitt, Sarah Joyce Cooper, and Hayan Kim round out the cast.

The Merry Wives of Windsor Thru Mar 1. Folger Theatre. folger.edu.

The pursuit of money is bound to backfire when the targets are smarter than their gold-digging schemer. Falstaff’s dubious plan to woo Windsor’s wealthy housewives is met with hilarious retaliation, when the ladies devise a plot to teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget. The comedic comeuppance is an absolute treat in Shakespeare’s delightful comedy on love, money, deception, and the power of women.

The National Ballet of Canada: Forsythe, Kylián and Ratmansky Jan 28-Jan 29. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org.

Canada’s esteemed ballet company returns with two programs: Jan. 28 & 29, experience two works by William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, and Alexei Ratmansky’s Piano Concerto #1.

Midori & Thibaudet Jan 25. Washington Performing Arts at Strathmore. washingtonperformingarts.org.

Violin superstar Midori and “master colorist and . . . great communicator” (Seattle Times) Jean-Yves Thibaudet team up for their first Washington Performing Arts appearances in more than a decade to commemorate Beethoven’s 250th birthday year. Photo Courtesy of Maryland Lyric Opera

THEATRE Artstream’s Maryland Cabaret Presents Brave. Jan 27. AMP. ampbystrathmore.com. Broadway Center Stage: Next to Normal. Jan 29-Feb 2. WORLD STAGES—Sundance Institute: Grey Rock. Jan 30-Feb 1. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Gun & Powder. Jan 28-Feb 23. Signature Theatre. sigtheatre.org.

Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot. Jan 24-Feb 1. Reston Community Players. restonplayers.org. Miss You Like Hell. Jan 29-Mar 1. Olney Theatre. olneytheatre.org. Pilgrims Musa & Sheri in The New World. Thru Feb 16. Mosaic Theater Company at Atlas. mosaictheater.org. Recent Tragic Events. Thru Feb 16. Prologue Theatre at Atlas. prologuetheatre.org. Sheltered. Thru Feb 1. Theater J at EDCJCC. theaterj.org.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet: Figures of Speech. Jan 25. Mason’s Center for the Arts. cfa.gmu.edu. Darlingdance. Jan 25-Jan 26. Dance Place. danceplace.org. Gregory Maqoma’s Vuyani Dance Theatre: Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro. Jan 24-Jan 25. Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures: Swan Lake. Thru Jan 26. The National Ballet of Canada: The Sleeping Beauty. Jan 30-Feb 2. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Hiplet Ballerinas. Jan 25. The Alden at McLean Community Center. mcleancenter.org. Step Afrika!. Thru Jan 24. Step Afrika! at Publick Playhouse. stepafrika.org.

MUSIC Ayo. Jan 29. Beijing Guitar Duo. Jan 30. Strathmore at The Mansion. strathmore.org. Dunedin Consort. Jan 30. Library of Congress. loc.gov. Eschenbach returns / Tetzlaff plays Dvořák. Jan 24-Jan 25. Lugansky plays Mozart / Honeck conducts Dvořák. Jan 30-Feb 1. NSO at Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Fortas Chamber Music Concerts: Nelly’s Harpsichord: Music from Mount Vernon. Jan 26. Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. Hip Hop Karaoke. Jan 24. Kassa Overall’s Blue Swamini featuring Carmen Lundy. Jan 25. Mason Bates’s KC Jukebox: Juan Atkins Techno. Jan 30. The Reach @The Kennedy Center. kennedy-center.org. International Guitar Night. Jan 29Jan 30. Masters of Hawaiian Music. Jan 24-Jan 25. Wolf Trap at the Barns. wolftrap.org. Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel: Commemorating Rachmaninoff and Debussy. Jan 26. Mason’s Center for the Arts. cfa.gmu.edu. Living the Dream…Singing the Dream. Jan 26. Choral Arts Society at the Kennedy Center. choralarts.org. MLK Tribute Concert. Jan 26. Washington Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center. washingtonperformingarts.org.

Revels Pub Sing at McGinty’s. Jan 26. Washington Revels at McGinty’s Public House. revelsdc.org. The BSO Music Box. Jan 25-May 9. AMP. ampbystrathmore.com. Rhythm and Jews: Jews and the Birth of Rock and Roll. Jan 29. JxJ at EDCJCC. jxjdc.org.

MUSEUMS AU Museum at the Katzen. Robert Franklin Gates. Jan 25. Winter Opening Reception. Jan 25. Communicating Vessels: Ed Bisese, Elyse Harrison, Wayne Paige. Jan 25-Mar 15. Good Form, Decorum, and in the Manner: Portraits from the Collections of Washington Print Club Members. Jan 25-Mar 15. Heroes & Losers: The Edification of Luis Lorenzana. Jan 25-Mar 15. Landscape in an Eroded Field - Carol Barsha, Heather Theresa Clark, Artemis Herber. Jan 25-Mar 15. Robert Franklin Gates: Paint What You See. Jan 25-May 24. Volkmar Wentzel. Jan 25-May 24. american.edu. Anacostia Neighborhood Library. Right to the City @Anacostia Neighborhood Library. Thru Apr 20. anacostia.si.edu. Dumbarton Oaks. Asian Art from the Bliss Collection. Thru Jun 1. A Nobility of Matter: Asian Art from the Bliss Collection. Thru Jun 1. doaks.org. Library of Congress. Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote. Thru Sep 1. Comic Art: 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 Geographic. WOMEN: A Century of Change. Thru May 1. Becoming Jane. Thru Jun 1. nationalgeographic.org. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Delita Martin: Calling Down The Spirits. Thru Apr 19. New York Ave Sculpture Project. Thru Sep 20. nmwa.org. Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. The Great Inka Road. Thru Jun 1. Our Universes. Thru Sep 30. Nation to Nation. Thru Dec 31. Return to a Native Place. Thru Jan 1. Americans. Thru Dec 31. americanindian.si.edu. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian. 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.

28 • WAS H IN GTO N B LAD E.CO M • JAN UARY 2 4 , 2 0 2 0

Special Valentine’s Day package available!

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON 2019–2020 SEASON GET TICKETS 703-993-2787 or CFA.GMU.EDU Half price tickets available for youth through grade 12!


Groundbreaking modern dance



What Problem?

Saturday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. Join a public town hall discussion with Jones on Jan. 29. Details at cfa.gmu.edu.

Virginia Opera

Rossini’s celebrated comic opera

Figures of Speech

CINDERELLA Saturday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m.


Hosted by Anderson and Roe Saturday, Feb. 29 at 8 p.m.

A live recording of the popular NPR show!

A world premiere featuring Bill T. Jones on stage

JA N UA RY 2 4 , 2 0 2 0 • WA SHINGTONBLA DE.COM • 29

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

Prickly proposal

Dinner party turns fraught in ’Sheltered’ By PATRICK FOLLIARD

ERIN WEAVER (left) and KIMBERLY GILBERT in ‘Sheltered.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane; courtesy DC-JCC

It’s spring of 1939, and everything in Leonard and Evelyn Kirsch’s world seems safe and secure — cocooned almost. But all isn’t what it appears in Alix Sobler’s play “Sheltered,” now at Theater J. When we meet Leonard and Evelyn (David Schlumpf and Erin Weaver, respectively) in the living room of their studiously tasteful Providence, R.I., home, they’re dressed for dinner and expecting guests. The meal is being prepared by the housekeeper and the children are out of earshot. Though ostensibly a serene scene, the couple is tense as they nervously strategize how best to pitch a prickly proposal to their guests — old but no longer close friends Marty and Roberta Bloom, played by Alexander Strain and Kimberly Gilbert. While most Americans have heard the horrific reports of anti-Semitism coming out of Nazi-occupied Austria, they’ve reacted differently. Many maintain

an isolationist or wait and see stance, but the Kirsches, Jews themselves, are deeply concerned and opt to do something. After numerous visits to Washington, Leonard has managed to secure visas for 40 Jewish children to gain entry into the U.S., provided he find them homes stateside. At this dinner, the Kirsches intend to ask the Blooms to foster a child. The gregarious guests arrive fresh from a performance of “Our Town.” Marty loved it. As he explains the familiarity of Thornton Wilder’s then-modern, yet nostalgic take on American life, Roberta rolls her eyes, noting there is nothing about her Jewish husband’s background that remotely reflects anything in the playwright’s small-town New England story. Just a generation off the shtetl, Marty Bloom (formerly Moshe Blumenthal) relishes the American dream. The Blooms are less refined than Len, a

Brown educated physician, and his welleducated, elegantly dressed wife Evelyn, but they’re all committed to establishing themselves in the mainstream of American life. Neither couple is religious. But certainly, the couples differ with regard to activism. Marty won’t be associated with the funny ways of the Old County. He thinks Europe should solve its own problems and takes comfort in believing that things have a way of working themselves out. Gilbert gives a revelatory performance as Roberta, a dissatisfied woman stuck in an abusive marriage whose biggest concerned are money and her fast teenage daughter’s reputation. She’s typically overwhelmed by the prospect of risk and is deeply hurt that Evelyn has neglected their friendship until now. Act two takes place a month later in Vienna. The action is confined to a wellappointed hotel suite where the Kirsches are headquartered while Leonard haggles with the gestapo and Evelyn selects the fortunate 40 from a stack of files, a more harrowing task than she’d anticipated.

‘Sheltered’ Through Feb. 2 Theater J Edlavitch D.C. Jewish Community Center 1529 16th St., N.W. $25-69 202-777-3210 theaterj.org

30 • WA S H IN GTO N B LAD E.CO M • JAN UARY 2 4 , 2 0 2 0

‘Dracula’ deserves a chance Bisexual controversy aside, new series is bloody fun By JOHN PAUL KING

The new ‘Dracula’ series is available now on Netflix. Photo courtesy Netflix

It’s already become fashionable to bash the new “Dracula” series unleashed on the world with the new year by “Sherlock” creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffatt. Co-produced by the BBC and Netflix, the latest incarnation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic became queer news late last year when Gatiss (who is out) teased that its re-imagined title character would have bisexual appetites, immediately piquing the interest of queer horror lovers the world over. Things began to turn, however, when co-creator Moffatt “clarified” by telling The Times that “bisexual” was not exactly the right word to describe the show’s vision of the Count. “He’s bi-homicidal, it’s not the same thing,” he says. “He’s killing them, not dating them.” Controversy ensued, of course. Online commentators suggested that the BBC had engaged in “queer-baiting” to draw LGBTQ viewers to the show, and some took Gatiss’ additional comments that “horror should be transgressive” to imply that the bisexual overtones themselves were meant to be shocking — an outdated concept in 2020, to be sure. When the show dropped on Jan. 1 (on BBC One in the U.K. and Netflix in the U.S.), the “bi-vampire-curious” among us got all our questions answered and those answers, it seems, were not the ones most

of us wanted. Any real discussion of whether this “Dracula” works is dependent on spoilers, thanks to the nature of its narrative conceits, so readers beyond this point should consider themselves warned. The details of Stoker’s novel are wellknown, of course, and this latest renovation remains surprisingly faithful to them, all things considered; but as any follower of Gatiss and Moffatt’s career knows, much of the magic in their work — most notably, their modern-day “Sherlock,” which made Benedict Cumberbatch the household name everybody loved to mispronounce — hinges on the way they shatter a familiar story and re-assemble its shards into something that feels fresh. When it works, it’s breathtakingly enjoyable. For many viewers, it seems, the problem with their “Dracula” is that it just doesn’t. Comprised of three feature-length episodes, the series begins in much the same way as almost every version of the tale, with the arrival of solicitor Jonathan Harker at the mysterious Romanian castle where Dracula has spent centuries draining his neighbors of their blood. This time, his story is told in flashback, as he relates his harrowing experiences there to a nun at a convent to which he has barely escaped with his life, or so he thinks. The Count,


he tells her, had hired him as an agent to set up a relocation to England, in hope of finding meals with more “flavor” than the superstitious and unsophisticated locals are able to provide. It’s here where we discover that the bisexual spin was not altogether wrong; Dracula’s wooing of Harker is overtly homoerotic (by which tactic the unfortunate lawyer is not unmoved), and he ultimately refers to the young man as his “favorite bride.” Yet ultimately, it’s all a ploy; like all of Dracula’s attractions, it’s based on blood, not sex, and anyone hoping for a queer vampire love story would be well-advised to look instead to the books of Anne Rice. By the end of the first installment, we have learned that the situation is both nothing like what we are being told and exactly what we think it looks like, and also that the increasingly hard-edged and interrogative nun is none other than the Gatiss-Moffat reinvention of Dracula’s equally iconic arch-nemesis, Dr. Van Helsing, having been given both a genderflip and considerably more sass. Up to this point, most viewers seem to have been all in. It’s with the second episode that audience opinions seem to split. Documenting the Count’s sea voyage to England, it expands the Stoker novel’s sixpage account into an Agatha Christie-style “And Then There Were None” scenario (which includes a doomed gay couple within the mix — again, not the supernatural romance we might have wished, but more than a token nod to representation, at least) before unexpectedly having Dracula finally set foot on English soil smack in the middle of modern times. This climactic reveal, along with the presence of a new and doubly-determined Van Helsing (no longer a nun but still female), sets up a final chapter in which, if social media can be considered a valid gauge, the whole thing falls apart into a disappointing and frustrating mess. Contemporary setting notwithstanding, many of the book’s characters still put in an appearance, such as the tragic Lucy, whose journey from hopeful bride to walking corpse is here played out by a lovely young social media influencer who also happens to be a woman of color with gay BFF, adding a few more points for to the diversity scale. It’s the tale’s final twist,

however, that has left many viewers feeling cheated, betrayed or otherwise victimized by the series. That final revelation will remain unspoiled here. What matters more is that a lot of people seem to really hate it. Like disgruntled “Star Wars” or Marvel fans who take to the internet to campaign against creative choices with which they disagree, so too have “Dracula” purists seem to have embraced the new series as the latest example of how a thing they love has been ruined. It would be hard to argue that the latest offering from Gatiss and Moffatt is a masterpiece. Its cleverness is often too deliberate, its glibness too self-referential and its horror too perfunctory; and while Dolly Wells is a show-stealing wonder as the durable Van Helsing, Danish actor Claes Bang can’t quite manage the delicate balance between camp and menace that is required to make Dracula the sexy beast we all want to see, though admittedly, he tries his best to shine through the sometimes ridiculous dialogue he’s been given to work with. Even so, “Dracula” was never high art. It was a purely commercial endeavor for Stoker and even the iconic 1931 movie version starring Bela Lugosi was a clunky potboiler, even for its day. Every screen retelling has remade the durable tale in the image of the day, from the bloodthirsty horror of Christopher Lee’s popular incarnation to the subversive protogoth allure of Gary Oldman’s romantic outsider in Francis Coppola’s divisive 1992 adaptation, and the best of them have always made bold choices in order to bring some meaning to the proceedings beyond the archetypal horror that drives the original novel. Gatiss and Moffatt have done no less, and if the result flies in the face of expectation, it can hardly be helped. Instead of simply telling us a story we already know, they have taken the core of the vampire mystique — the seductive appeal of death itself — and made it the focus of a meditation that happens to also be a lurid, not-to-be-taken-too-seriously guilty pleasure. For those who prefer their classics as-is, that might understandably be a deal-breaker. Anyone else should be encouraged to give it a chance. It can be a lot of bloody fun, if you let it.

GAME CHANGERS: John Isaacson Volleyball player bridging deaf/hearing league gap By KEVIN MAJOROS

JOHN ISAACSON has played in several D.C.-area LGBT sports leagues. Photo courtesy Isaacson

The LGBT sports community in Washington has a rich history of creating welcoming and inclusive spaces where all types of athletes can embrace the rewards that come from participating in sports. This week in the Blade’s Game Changers series, we meet a gay athlete from the D.C. Pride Volleyball League who is helping bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing communities. Growing up in Des Moines, John Isaacson didn’t pick up sports until high school where he was a three-sport athlete in basketball, football and track. He ran track for four years at Gallaudet University and was a 400 meter and 400 meter hurdles specialist. Isaacson also ran cross country at Gallaudet for three years. “I have always enjoyed running and being a hurdles specialist had parallels to what I experience in life,” Isaacson says. “I overcome barriers every day as a deaf person and combining my love of running with jumping hurdles was a great fit for me.” Gallaudet University is the only higher education institution in the world in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. Its enrollment is a mix of students from all over the world. Isaacson served as captain of the track team for his final two years and points to the experience as a great opportunity to meet people from as far away as China. “I really liked the team environment and meeting so many people with different life experiences,” Isaacson says. “I stayed in D.C. after graduating in 2017 because I love living in a stable deaf community.” Isaacson was playing in social pick-up games with D.C. Pride Volleyball when he learned about their league which runs

in the spring and fall. He wrapped up his fifth season at the end of 2019. “Volleyball is a complete team effort and I love the strategies that are involved,” Isaacson says. “The sport has been a new thing for my mind and body, and it is great to be developing different skills.” D.C. Pride Volleyball plays on the tournament circuit with the North American Gay Volleyball Association and Isaacson has competed locally as well as traveling to tournaments in Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and New York City. “My favorite position on the court is middle blocker,” Isaacson says. “I am a good jumper and I take a lot of pride in my blocks.” Isaacson has also played with Stonewall Kickball and is now in his first season with D.C. Gay Basketball League. Playing gay team sports has helped him expand his social network. “I wasn’t out in college — I would say I came out more internally,” Isaacson says. “The LGBT sports community has helped me grow as a person and has allowed me to be more myself. I am always seeing other players out and about in D.C.” The D.C. Pride Volleyball League averages between three and six deaf players per season. Isaacson says everyone, even those without ASL skills, can be creative while communicating whether it be through gestures or texting in person. Isaacson, who works at Access Interpreting as the scheduling coordinator, provided a well-attended one day ASL for Volleyball Seminar for the league players. Along with standard conversational exchanges, it included terms related to volleyball. “I have always wanted to build a better bridge between the deaf and hearing communities,” Isaacson says. “It’s important for us to work together as a team to communicate more effectively.”

32 • WA S H IN GTO N B LAD E.CO M • JAN UARY 2 4 , 2 0 2 0

D.C. may become one of few major cities without gay bathhouse Continued from page 23

Lube packets on display at a NABA Convention last September. Photo courtesy NABA

“We never stopped being profitable,” he says. “We just cut a lot of expenses. We ran with less labor, which was a big factor, we just tightened our belts. I remember the first meeting after we realized we’d just been really walloped, but we just tightened our belts. We had limited

JA N UA RY 2 4 , 2 0 2 0 • WA SHINGTONBLA D E.COM • 33

profitability, then good profitability within four to five years, I guess.” Escorting and prostitution were never big problems, Holding says. Most members reported them to staff if they were propositioned. Police usually were happy to work with them.

He says a police squad in Dallas was known to be overzealous in previous years. “They thought we were just a den of iniquity,” he says with a chuckle. “But it was mainly about drugs. They liked to break down doors and have mass arrests but eventually we convinced them not to be stupid about it and we’d work with them.” Drugs, he says, are a constant issue. A list of barred patrons is kept for those who violate the policy. Too rigorous a bag or body check at the door deters customers, he says. In other ways, police liked having the businesses there, he says. “They like it because if they catch somebody in a park or public place, they can say, ‘Get out of here you asshole, you know there’s a place you can go for that.’ That’s basically been their attitude. It’s not warm and friendly, but they like it that there’s a place in town you can go for that and that’s fine by us. That’s the way it should be.” Holding never kept records of how many of his clients were semi-local to each business vs. out of town. If local is a 40-mile radius, he guesses the majority are local if for no other reason than the business tends to do well with repeat consumers. It’s an older crowd in the daytime, and owners cater to them. Not everyone is there for sex, he says. The music and lighting changes after 6 p.m., when the working-age crowd tends to come. Get them in once — for an open house, a guest visit or whatever — and if the club is clean and well run, they’ll be back, he says. Holding knows of no horror stories of anti-gay city bureaucracies holding up entrepreneurs. He’s never heard of a citizen petition movement against a pending gay bathhouse. A business association his Orlando property was seeking to join many years ago was headed by two lesbians who took issue with the no women policy, but that eventually blew over. He can recall no major pushback from LGBT activist organizations that have sometimes painted heteronormative pictures of gay life to conservative constituents. Allen says one change he noticed over the years was how credit card use spiked from roughly 20 percent in his early years in business to about 70-80 percent today. “What that means is people no longer have a fear of being gay, they don’t really care,” Allen says. “That confidence and that freedom is from 40 years of activism.”

Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2020 The Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2020 competition was held during Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. David Spivey of Pittsburgh took home the title this year. Washington Blade photos by Michael Key

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Winning offers – highest price or best terms? A good Realtor will help you find out context for each home sale By JOSEPH HUDSON One thing I have learned over the years is that yes, the sales price matters to a seller of a home. Of course it matters. But sometimes there are other circumstances that matter also. For example, does the seller need to stay in the property for a while as they look for their new home or tie up some loose ends that just can’t be done within the usual 30-day time frame? So do they need a longer closing period or a rent back? A rent back is where the property is sold to the new buyers, but then the new buyers “rent back” the home to the old owner while they get their belongings packed up and move, or need time to look for their new home. Does the seller need to sell that house as fast as they can so they want a 14-day close, and you need a lender that can wrap up all the details in a short period of time? Does the house need repairs but the seller doesn’t have the time or energy to do them so they would rather issue a credit to the next buyer so they can move on with their lives? I once helped a couple buy a home but the sellers did NOT want to sell it to

SHOULDN’T THE FINAL MEMORIES OF A LOVED ONE BE AMONG THE FINEST? a developer, and the fact that my clients wanted to keep the home intact but just do normal renovations was the deciding factor in selling the home they had owned for decades that they did not want to see get chopped up by a developer. Living in the D.C. area, we often have buyers and/or sellers who have to travel internationally for extended periods of time for work. Sometimes a seller wants to take advantage of selling their home at the “prime time” for selling it such as


during the Spring Market, but they are not ready to move yet because at the same time as settlement they have a large work trip coming up and want to rent the home back for an extra month so they have time to finish their work priorities and then come back and start the moving out process. Having a good Realtor at your side will help you find out the context for each home sale. Because as one of my old professors used to say, “Context is everything.”

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