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Rayceen Pendarvis refuses to give up
Longtime activist led prayer for thousands at Black Lives Matter Plaza By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN Local LGBTQ host and activist Rayceen Pendarvis spoke with the Washington Blade this week about the recent Black Lives Matter protests and reﬂected on the importance of including Black trans voices in this historic D.C. and national discussion. For Pendarvis, this discussion is also personal. Days after the Trump administration forcibly removed protesters from an area near Lafayette Square on June 1, the activist led a diverse crowd in a prayer for healing in the newly renamed “Black Lives Matter” Plaza. “Father God, for those who are Black, white, straight, gay and for those who are nonbelievers, let us come together and heal this country,” Pendarvis said to many who bowed their heads while a few held hands. “The human race needs to heal and needs to understand the importance of those who are Black and brown in this country.” The host of the popular “Ask Rayceen” show also moderated a virtual forum on June 30 that brought together public ofﬁcials, law enforcement and members of the community to discuss ongoing violence against Black trans women. Pendarvis told the Blade it was important to bring people together and give a voice to those who need it. “I am a father of ﬁve and a mother of D.C.,” Pendarvis, who prefers not to use pronoun labels, said proudly. “I feel like I represent everybody. It’s important when you represent your community that you give voice to all. I listen to everyone’s story and I create safe spaces. I feel that it is important … that every essence of who I am represents the LGBTQIA community in its fullness.” Pendarvis is a D.C. native whose personal history is intermingled with the history of the nation as it has played out in the capital city. The 70-year-old Washingtonian has seen the 1963 March on Washington, has marched for marriage equality and has been a part of every Pride celebration in the city, including Black Pride, Trans Pride, Youth Pride, Latinx Pride and Capital Pride. “I understand the importance of marches,” Pendarvis said. “I understand the importance of rallies and of making our voices heard and our bodies seen. I know that this moment is on the eve of change and we are in a moment of transition and of a new beginning.” However, other queer people of color in D.C. have mentioned the pain, fear and frustration that have exploded in cities across the U.S. since the killing of George Floyd by white police ofﬁcers on May 29 in Minneapolis. Kenya Hutton, who is the program director for D.C.’s Black Pride, spoke of the anxieties he feels as a gay Black man when pulled over by the police. He said the recent protests brought those anxieties to the forefront and he had to work through them with his partner who is white. “When the protests hit D.C., one night I was taking my dogs out for a walk and there were police on the corner and my anxiety got up,” Hutton told the Blade. “And I couldn’t walk down there with my partner. I just got scared.” He said his partner, who is originally from Kentucky, was supportive, especially on that night, but lately they’ve had “very in-depth conversations.” Pendarvis has had these difﬁcult conversations as well and says reﬂectively, “I’m in a place of understanding why we just can’t give up.” The activist and host, who is used to tackling difﬁcult subjects with care, said this moment may be challenging, particularly for young people, but it is a challenge worth facing. “For a long time folks have become so comfortable because so many people fought for all these freedoms we have today,” Pendarvis explained. “But when your freedom is now threatened, you understand what we have gone through and that now becomes a part of your journey and your strength. So now we must all stand together, walk together, march together and come through this better. Pain gives birth to joy.” But Pendarvis also pointed out that this moment is incomplete without the voices of those who are Black and transgender. “Because their lives matter,” Pendarvis said. “We cannot say that Black lives matter and exclude our black trans brothers and sisters … It’s very challenging because 0 6 • WAS H I NGTO NBLA DE.COM • AUGUST 07, 2020 • LOCA L N E W S
RAYCEEN PENDARVIS (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
unfortunately so many lives are being taken. What about the lives that are being taken that we don’t know about, that don’t make it to the news, that go unreported and misgendered?” “You have to give them voice,” Pendarvis added. “It is important that their voices matter, more than ever. Especially now.” Pendarvis mentioned the names of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two transgender women of color who were part of the early Stonewall legacy, and stated, “It’s a dishonor to their lives if we don’t stand together in this experience under the umbrella of Black Lives Matter.” Thinking of the children she raised as well as the younger generation out marching for their rights and their lives, Pendarvis said it was important for them to know their history and have these conversations with their elders, saying that is the path toward healing. “It’s healing because when you feel devalued, or you feel as if you don’t belong, when you look in the face of someone who has felt the same experiences 50 years ago, you will understand why you stand and look at them today,” Pendarvis said. “Because you are looking in the face of someone who paved the way.” But even during these difﬁcult times of protests, tear gas and backlash, Pendarvis remains hopeful and “proud of our city,” particularly following Mayor Muriel Bowser’s painting of “Black Lives Matter” down the street leading toward the White House. “I was so proud of that moment,” Pendarvis said. “And when I came and was a part of the demonstrations and the march and was asked to give a prayer of healing, [I] stood on the stage before 200,000 people and saw all of those people, young, old, black, white, straight, gay — not caring about party afﬁliation but standing in the human experience … my heart cried. My soul cried.” Pendarvis said this was because being able to feel the spirits of so many people, who have gone through so much tragedy before, also being present on that day. “I did not feel alone,” Pendarvis explained. “And being able to speak the names of trans men and women whose lives had been taken … it allowed everyone to experience why their lives mattered. That they were someone’s child, that they were someone’s brother, sister, cousin — that they mattered.” As a D.C. native experiencing this historic moment along with the rest of the nation and world, Pendarvis sees the city as one that “represents pride, justice, diversity and freedom, and that’s so important, especially now more than ever.”
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D.C. police name suspected killer in 2002 trans murders Suspect was himself murdered in 2017; mother disputes ‘trans panic’ motive By LOU CHIBBARO JR. email@example.com D.C. police disclosed last week they have identiﬁed the person they believe used a semiautomatic weapon to ﬁre a hail of bullets at two transgender female teenagers on Aug. 12, 2002, killing the two as they sat in a car on a street in Southeast Washington. The murder of Stephanie Thomas, 19, and Ukea Davis, 18, on the 4900 block of C Street, S.E. about 3:20 a.m. just a few blocks from the apartment the two friends shared nearly 18 years ago shocked and angered LGBTQ activists and city ofﬁcials, who believed the incident was a hate crime. In a development that raised further questions among the slain trans women’s friends and family members, police disclosed on July 30 last week that the man they believe killed Thomas and Davis – Michael Dupree Price of Southeast D.C. – was himself shot to death in an unsolved murder in May 2017. He was 36 years old at the time of his death. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told the Washington Blade on Monday in a telephone interview that two recently found “ear witnesses” told homicide detective Daniel Whalen, who is assigned to the Homicide Branch’s Cold Case Squad, that Price admitted to the witnesses that he killed the two women and said he did so after he learned they were transgender and became angry. “That’s why we believe it was a hate crime,” Newsham said. “So the way they were able to close the case was that the detective went back into the ﬁle – and it’s always good to have a fresh set of eyes on these older cases,” Newsham told the Blade. “He found a document in there that had not been followed up on, which led him to a witness. Newsham said the person is referred to as an “ear witness” because the person didn’t witness the crime taking place but spoke directly to the person involved in the crime, in this case, the person who admitted committing the crime. “It was a person who was already in jail,” Newsham said of the witness. “And that person gave some pretty speciﬁc information to the investigator that led him to believe the suspect in the case essentially told him what happened,” Newsham continued. “And then the investigator was able to ﬁnd a second person who did the same thing. So we’re pretty conﬁdent that this suspect [Price] was the one who was responsible for the homicides.” According to Newsham, both witnesses were emphatic that Price told them his reason for killing Thomas and Davis was his discovery that they were transgender. Price told one of the witnesses, Newsham said, “that he had killed the decedents because they tricked him into believing they were girls and one had engaged in a sexual act with him.” Price also told the second witness he killed Thomas and Davis after learning they were transgender at some point after the three were smoking marijuana together, Newsham said. Queen Washington, Davis’s mother, who was fully supportive of her daughter’s status as a transgender person, told the Blade this week she strongly disputes the claim that Price did not know Thomas and Davis were transgender. Washington said that since learning of the witnesses’ statements that Price confessed to the two murders and his motive for the killings was his reported discovery that Thomas and Davis were transgender, she has spoken with people who knew the two trans women from the Marshall Heights neighborhood in Southeast D.C. where they lived. “It’s a lie,” she said. “Everybody in the neighborhood knew
D.C. Police Chief PETER NEWSHAM told the Blade he believes the shooting of two trans teens in 2002 was a hate crime.
who Stephanie and Ukea were, that they were transgender,” Washington told the Blade on Tuesday. Washington said that in the past few days she remembered that at the time of the murder, and even before the murder, people who knew her daughter and Ukea Davis told her Price, who also lived in the neighborhood, knew the two trans women and clearly knew they were transgender. “He lived only a few blocks from Stephanie and his name would come up,” Washington said. “Nobody believes this story by these witnesses that Price was shocked when he learned they were transgender,” Washington said. “I think Michael Price liked Stephanie,” she said. “My thought on the motive is Stephanie had a relationship with Price and something went wrong and he killed her.” LGBTQ activists have said men charged with murdering transgender women often use the so-called “trans panic defense” as an alibi for their action, saying they were shocked when they learned a woman with whom they had a sexual encounter turned out to be transgender. Activists and others familiar with crimes against transgender people say the panic defense is often used as an excuse by perpetrators who knew all along that their victims were transgender and had other motives, including hatred, for committing the crime. Washington also said she and others in the neighborhood where her daughter and Davis lived at the time of the murder believe at least one other man participated in the shooting of the two women. She said that people in the neighborhood believe a close friend of Price, Ricardo Smith, who went by the nickname Black, is believed to have been an accomplice to Price in the murder of Thomas and Davis. Some of the neighbors believed Smith aka Black was the driver of a third car that blocked Stephanie Thomas from escaping from Price, who neighbors believe was chasing Thomas’s car minutes before she and Davis were shot to death. Washington and transgender rights advocate Earline Budd, who said she arrived at the scene of the shooting shortly after the incident took place, said nearby residents reported seeing what appeared to be a car chase, with one car following the car Thomas was driving. Budd said one witness, who heard a loud screeching noise of a car slamming on its brakes, reported seeing Thomas’s car stopped behind the side of a third car, which appeared to have deliberately blocked Thomas from driving away from the car following her car, Budd said.
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Budd said she rushed to the scene after receiving a call informing her of the murders by former D.C. police Lt. Brett Parson, who headed the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit. Parson has since retired from the force. “What we know is they were chased and we saw these skid marks on the street,” said Budd. “The witnesses said they were chased and then they were blocked off. And that’s why they were able to shoot them and kill them in the car – they, not him, they,” said Budd in emphasizing her belief that Price was not a lone gunman in the double murder. But in yet another twist in what some activists consider a convoluted case, Washington told the Blade her niece, who knew Ricardo Smith from the neighborhood, told her she recently learned that Smith died in prison between 10 months and a year ago. Washington said her niece didn’t know the cause of his death. When asked about the assertion by Queen Washington, Earline Budd, and reportedly others in the neighborhood that there was a second suspect in the case, Newsham said he was aware that multiple witnesses from the neighborhood had different recollections about the incident. “I would say this,” he told the Blade. “We wouldn’t completely eliminate that as a possibility. “So we would say if there is a second suspect and if anybody has information in that regard that we would continue to ask them to come forward,” he said. In response to claims by Washington and Budd that it was widely known in the neighborhood that Price knew Thomas and Davis were transgender women, Newsham said homicide investigators were basing their conclusion on the motive on consistent statements from the two witnesses. He said one of the witnesses was interviewed by homicide investigators on Jan. 16, 2019. “During this interview he advised detectives that Michael Price had confessed to him a short time after the murders occurred,” Newsham said in an email in response to followup questions from the Blade. It was during this interview, according to Newsham, that Price told the witness he killed Thomas and Davis because “they tricked him into believing they were girls and one had engaged in a sexual act with him.” Newsham said the second witness was interviewed at the Maryland Department of Corrections Patuxent Institution, where he was serving a prison sentence. The witness also told MPD detectives Price told the witness he killed the two women after learning they were transgender, Newsham reiterated. In addition to these two witnesses, Newsham said other witnesses reported hearing second hand accounts that backed up the accounts by the two witnesses whose accounts prompted MPD to conclude Price was responsible for the trans women’s murders. “At least one witness provided information that the decedents approached Price to purchase marijuana,” Newsham said. “Other witness accounts however detail Michael Price approaching the decedents thinking that they were women,” he said. “There were several other witnesses interviewed who all provided the same street rumor that Michael Price killed the decedent after receiving a sexual favor from one or both of the decedents, then ﬁnding out they were transgender.” CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
USAID fires staffer after anti-LGBTQ Tweets A Trump administration staffer unleashed a series of tweets Monday expressing anti-LGBTQ animus, prompting the U.S. Agency for International Development to ﬁre her after her anti-LGBTQ views had once gone without reprisal, according to Politico. Merritt Corrigan, who reportedly had a short, but rocky, tenure as deputy White House liaison to USAID, tweeted, “Gay marriage isn’t marriage, Men aren’t women [and] US-funded Tunisian LGBT soap operas aren’t America First” in a tirade aimed at LGBTQ people and advances in LGBTQ rights. Corrigan on Twitter announced she’d have more to say Thursday at a news conference with conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burman, notorious for making debunked attacks on progressive leaders. “The United States is losing ground in the battle to garner inﬂuence through humanitarian aid because we now refuse to help countries who don’t celebrate sexual deviancy,” Corrigan said. “Meanwhile, Russia and China are happy to step in and eat our lunch.” In an attack on transgender women speciﬁcally, Corrigan expressed frustration with USAID policies that don’t take into account whether or not a woman is transgender. “I watched with horror this week as USAID distributed taxpayer funded documents claiming ‘we cannot tell someone’s sex or gender by looking at them’ and that not calling oneself ‘cis-gendered” is a microagression,” Corrigan said. “I’m not cis-anything. I’m a woman.” According to Politico’s Daniel Lippman, USAID ﬁred Merritt Corrigan on Monday after she began posting her tweets. Barsa told the White House of his decision and received no pushback, Politico reported. The White House and USAID didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on whether the Trump administration would repudiate her remarks. Corrigan’s reported departure comes months after CNN’s KFile reported in late June that Corrigan has a history of inﬂammatory rhetoric aimed at refugees, the LGBTQ community and women. “Mass deportations when?,” Corrigan tweeted in October 2019, linking to a 2010 article in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel said German multiculturalism has failed, according to CNN. According to a report in Axios, USAID employee groups in June requested to meet with John Barsa, the acting administrator of USAID, over concerns about Corrigan and other appointees. Barsa, however, defended Corrigan at the time despite her history of antiLGBTQ and anti-immigrant comments. Corrigan previously worked at Hungary’s Embassy in the United States, where she repeatedly tweeted support for far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and referred to him as “the shining champion of Western civilization,” according to ProPublica. Led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), 20 Democratic House members sent a letter to Barsa in late July, urging him to demand Corrigan’s resignation because her positions are “in direct opposition to the work USAID supports.” CHRIS JOHNSON
MERRITT CORRIGAN unleashed anti-LGBTQ tweets leading to her dismissal. (Photo via Twitter)
Blade wins GLAAD Award The Blade’s CHRIS JOHNSON beat out reporters from the New York Times, USA Today and other mainstream outlets to win Outstanding Newspaper Article. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
Washington Blade White House reporter Chris Johnson won the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Newspaper Article, the media advocacy organization announced last week. Johnson won for “Military reports no discharges under trans ban — but advocates have doubts,” which examined whether the Pentagon has been kicking out transgender service members since President Trump’s 2017 tweet announcing the ban. Johnson faced stiff competition in the category, with nominees from the New York Times, USA Today, LA Times, and Dallas Morning News. He accepted the award via video. “I’m proud to represent the only LGBTQ news outlet in the White House press corps and thankful GLAAD is recognizing the exclusive news content Blade staffers work hard to produce every day,” Johnson said. GLAAD streamed its annual awards ceremony on its Facebook and YouTube channels on July 30. In addition to Johnson, the Blade’s Karen Ocamb received a special recognition award from GLAAD. Two other such awards went to “Special,” a Netﬂix short-form comedy series about a gay man with cerebral palsy; and Mark Segal, founder of Philadelphia Gay News. “After initially starting her career at CBS News and producing the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Ocamb joined the LGBTQ press in the 1980s after more than 100 friends died from AIDS,” GLAAD said in a release. “She has since become a leading force and champion for LGBTQ media. She is known for her smart, fair, and professional writing style as well as her staunch dedication to shining the spotlight on underreported LGBTQ people and issues.” STAFF REPORTS
House votes to defund trans military ban The U.S. House voted late last week to approve an amendment introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) to defund President Trump’s transgender military ban as part of major defense spending legislation. Lawmakers approved the amendment by voice vote as part of a block of amendments the House Rules Committee approved for consideration during debate over the ﬁscal year 2012 defense appropriations bill. Jennifer Dane, executive director of the Modern Military Association of America, said in a statement after the vote undoing the transgender ban would foster an inclusive military. “As our nation faces seemingly unprecedented challenges, it’s crucially important that the military return to an inclusive policy that allows any qualiﬁed patriot to serve,” Dane said. “With this vote, the U.S. House of Representatives just sent a powerful message that bigotry and discrimination should have no place in our armed forces. We urge the full Congress to ensure this critically important amendment is passed.” The vote comes nearly three years after President Trump tweeted out the policy on July 26, 2017, saying he’d bar transgender people from serving from the military “in any capacity.” Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he’d reverse the ban upon his election and allow transgender people to serve openly in the military. CHRIS JOHNSON
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After allegations of a toxic and racist work environment, there’s speculation that ELLEN DEGENERES will walk away from her lucrative show, a claim disputed by show executives.
Lesbian icon faces scrutiny after allegations of toxic work environment By ROB WATSON
There are two things you do not want to be right now, a statue of a Confederate General or Ellen DeGeneres. Long overdue are the attacks on the former, cold images of steel and marble, and representations of a war to preserve slavery. But Ellen? Her top producers today appear to be facing serious allegations. The Hollywood Reporter stated that “executive producer Ed Glavin — one of the show’s three EPs, and the one at the center of many of the nastier claims — is among those who will be let go. ‘Once he’s out, it will be like a new day,’ says a source close to the show, one of two who claim DeGeneres was largely kept shielded from Glavin’s day-to-day handling or mishandling of the staff. Others are expected to be out as well.” Buzzfeed meanwhile is eager to publish anyone who has an unkind word to say about Ellen personally. They have put out a plea: “We want your help! If you have more information or a tip regarding workplace culture on the Ellen show or in Hollywood, contact …buzzfeed.com, or reach us securely at tips.buzzfeed.com.” Their featured article “People Think Ellen DeGeneres Needs To Be Held Accountable For The Allegedly Toxic Culture At Her Show” features a dozen non-viral Twitter posts with single digit “likes” blaming Ellen personally for all the infractions. Speaking of “people,” People magazine piled on with tweets from celebrities Leah Thompson and Brad Garrett, both of whom seem to point accusing ﬁngers at Ellen personally. “Know more than one who were treated horribly by her. Common knowledge.” Garrett asserted. “True story. It is.” Thompson agreed. According to the New York Post and The Daily Mail, Ellen is ready to quit. The Post reports, “Anonymous insiders at Telepictures said the longtime host of her eponymous talk show is ready to hang up her microphone in the wake of recent allegations about “toxic” workplace conditions. A source at Telepictures told DailyMail.com that the host is telling executives at Telepictures and Warner Bros that she has had enough and wants to walk away from the show. ‘She feels she can’t go on and the only way to recover her personal brand from this is to shut down the show,” an insider told the outlet on Friday. ‘The truth is she knew what was going on — it’s her show. The buck stops with her. She can blame every executive under the sun — but Ellen is ultimately the one to blame.” In a statement DeGeneres released last week, she promised her show “would be a place of happiness – no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be
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treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry.” She vowed staff changes, and Glavin is widely expected to leave, The Hollywood Reporter said. But others say it’s unlikely DeGeneres would leave her lucrative show. She has two years left on a contract she signed in 2019. The show’s senior vice president, Blake Bryant, issued a statement announcing that the show would return on Sept. 9. The controversy exploded in recent weeks as former employees of the show have gone public with allegations of racism and harassment. “That ‘be kind’ bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” one former employee told BuzzFeed News. “I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.” In a joint statement to BuzzFeed News, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner said: “Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment,” they said. “We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us. “For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.” Amid the allegations of a toxic work environment came news that employees of the show “were panicking because they had been told very little about their future, including whether they would continue to be paid — and the host allegedly hired nonunion tech employees in the meantime to produce the show remotely from her house,” as the Washington Post and Variety reported. Warner Bros. released a statement last week that said, “Though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary ﬁndings of the investigation indicated some deﬁciencies related to the show’s day-to-day management. We have identiﬁed several stafﬁng changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised.”
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Activists skeptical of Biden pledge to end HIV by 2025 Candidate’s plan is 5 years more aggressive than Trump’s By CHRIS JOHNSON firstname.lastname@example.org Joe Biden is seeking to one-up President Trump on the ﬁght against HIV by pledging to end the epidemic by 2025 — an ambitious goal that would beat the current administration’s goal by ﬁve years, although some HIV advocates are skeptical the presidential candidate can pull it off. Biden laid out his plan to address HIV, which relies heavily on bolstering the Affordable Care Act, in a 20page questionnaire submitted to a coalition of HIV/ AIDS groups in June. A chief component of his vision is updating the Obama administration’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy. “As President, I will re-commit to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2025,” Biden writes. “Updating the nation’s comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy will aggressively reduce new HIV cases, while increasing access to treatment and eliminating inequitable access to services and supports.” Consistently drawing on LGBTQ rights in his HIV plan, Biden asserts he’ll ensure LGBTQ people have full access to health care in his administration. That’s a sharp contrast with the Trump administration, which has scrapped Obama-era regulations against antitransgender discrimination in health care. Biden also recognizes health disparities among different communities, acknowledging LGBTQ people face stigma and disproportionate rates of HIV and Black Americans represent 40 percent of all new HIV cases, but are 13 percent of the U.S. population. Biden’s commitment to ending HIV by 2025 is ﬁve years more aggressive than the Trump administration’s “Ending the HIV Epidemic” initiative, which has 2030 as the goal. Trump’s PrEP-centric plan targets areas of the United States where new HIV infections are most prevalent to reduce new HIV diagnoses by 75 percent within ﬁve years, and by 90 percent within 10 years. Jennifer Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the Affordable Care Act — which Trump has sought to dismantle, but Biden has defended — is a key difference between Trump and Biden. “President Trump put forward an ambitious ‘Ending the HIV Epidemic’ plan and helped to secure new funding to support it, which is an important step,” Kates said. “The biggest difference between the candidates on HIV policy is the Affordable Care Act, which has already led to a signiﬁcant increase in coverage for people with HIV. Former Vice President Biden would build on the ACA’s foundation and work to broaden coverage. In contrast, President Trump has repeatedly fought to repeal the ACA and scale back coverage.” Kates added Biden’s plan “also recognizes the importance of addressing systemic racism in the ﬁght against HIV and he would work to reinstitute nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ populations in health care, which the Trump administration recently removed.” Asked, however, if all those factors could lead Biden to end the HIV epidemic by 2025, Kates said, “I think
Former Vice President JOE BIDEN has pledged as president to beat HIV by 2025.
signiﬁcant progress toward that goal could be made, though the effects of COVID-19 are going to be felt for a long time, and will be tough to overcome.” Biden in his questionnaire responses leaves a lot unanswered. The candidate calls for “increased funding for HIV research” and “full funding for Ryan White” without deﬁning what that means, nor does he call for increased funding for the Center for Disease Control’s HIV programs or speciﬁc funding to end the HIV epidemic. Carl Schmid, co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, said, “I would say no” when asked if he thinks Biden can pull off his pledge to beat HIV by 2025. “We got a strategy…with Obama, but we never got any funding to implement the strategy, and the community has to be honest about that,” Schmid said. Schmid, who emphasized his assessment was based on a “purely policy” standpoint because he’s with a non-proﬁt, said Biden’s plan is “policy driven,” but a concerted effort in leadership, which he said was seen under the Trump administration, is needed. “We’ve had so many terrible policies, but at the same time we had this concerted effort, which everyone I’m sure in the community would agree is exactly what we need, right?” Schmid said. “More testing, more prevention more PrEP, more treatment, more workforce: There are the things that we’re doing all over the world that everyone wants.” Asked whether the key distinction between Biden and Trump on their HIV plans is funding, Schmid said it’s also leadership, asserting the HIV community has had conversations with senior health ofﬁcials under Trump that haven’t happened in previous administrations.
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(Photo courtesy of CNN)
“You probably never even knew who the Assistant Secretary of Health was in any other administration,” Schmid said. “We [were always told] that ofﬁce didn’t have much power they don’t have a budget they don’t have anything in [Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir] has shown that ofﬁce does.” In terms of the global epidemic, Biden in his questionnaire responses identiﬁes as a key component PEPFAR, which he says under his administration will seek to combat anti-LGBTQ stigmas overseas, but much of the focus is dedicated to generalized efforts to prepare for global pandemics amid the coronavirus crisis. Asia Russell, executive director of the New Yorkbased group Health GAP, said neither Trump nor Biden have presented credible plans to ﬁght the global AIDS epidemic. “The global AIDS crisis is one the greatest preventable public health disasters in history,” Russell said. “Science has shown us how to ﬁnally defeat HIV in the U.S. and abroad. But neither candidate has adopted a plan the world needs to show that he is the president who can end AIDS once and for all.” Russell had particularly harsh words for Biden for what she called the absence of any global HIV plan. “While Biden recently expressed hopeful comments about the need for intellectual property barriers to be broken in favor of COVID-19 vaccine access for all, his silence on the need to massively scale up investment in treatment to defeat a leading cause of preventable death and suffering worldwide is cruel — it speaks volumes,” Russell said. The Biden campaign didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment for this article on skepticism about the candidate’s pledge to beat HIV/AIDS by 2025.
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‘I don’t know if I will make it’
HIV-positive ICE detainee fears contracting coronavirus By MICHAEL K. LAVERS email@example.com A person with HIV who is in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody says he is afraid the coronavirus will kill him. “With my condition, God forbid, if I get coronavirus, I don’t know if I will make it,” the ICE detainee told the Washington Blade on July 29 during an interview. The detainee has been in ICE custody at a privately run detention center in the Southeast since last October. The detainee is originally from a country in Africa with laws that criminalize people with HIV and members of the LGBTQ community. The detainee asked the Blade not to identify them by name to protect their privacy. They also requested the Blade not identify the country from which they originate and the facility in which they remain in ICE custody because of fear of retaliation and any potential impact their decision to speak publicly could have on their asylum case. “It would be a death sentence if I were sent back home,” said the detainee. The detainee told the Blade there have been coronavirus cases in their detention center, including a man from India who tested positive before his scheduled deportation. “They were taking him out to deport him,” said the detainee. “They closed our unit down for a month.” The detainee said there are 96 detainees in his unit. They told the Blade that ICE quarantined them after another detainee tested positive for the coronavirus. “We were not able to leave the unit,” they said. They told the Blade that staff brought food to the unit when it was locked down. The detainee said they are now able to access the yard for an hour a day. ICE on its website notes as of Monday there were 908 detainees with conﬁrmed coronavirus cases. There were 21,888 people in ICE custody as of July 31. Statistics on ICE’s website note 21,085 detainees have been tested as of July 31. Immigration Equality and Lambda Legal are among the advocacy groups that have demanded ICE release detainees with HIV because of the pandemic. ICE in April released four men with HIV who had been detained at privately run detention centers in Louisiana and Arizona. ICE in the same month also released Iván and Ramón, two Cuban men with HIV represented by Immigration Equality and Lambda Legal, from a privately run detention center in Texas. “We are relieved that Iván and Ramón don’t have to spend one more day in the dangerous conditions of ICE detention, terriﬁed of contracting COVID-19,” said Immigration Equality Legal Director Bridget Crawford after their release. A federal judge in California has ordered ICE “to identify and track all ICE detainees with risk factors” and consider whether they should be released. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf in April said ICE would consider the release of detainees who are at increased risk for the coronavirus on a “case-by-case basis.” An ICE spokesperson a few weeks after Wolf’s comments said their agency had released upwards of 700 detainees “after evaluating their immigration history, criminal record, potential threat to public safety, ﬂight risk and national security concerns.” ICE in March suspended in-person visitation at its detention centers. ICE in previous statements says it continues to provide detainees with soap for showering and handwashing, sanitizer and masks. “The health, welfare and safety of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees is one of the agency’s highest priorities,” says ICE on its website. “Since the onset of reports of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), ICE epidemiologists have been tracking the outbreak, regularly updating infection prevention and control protocols, and issuing guidance to ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) staff for the screening and management of potential exposure among detainees.” “ICE continues to incorporate CDC’s COVID-19 guidance, which is built upon the already established infectious disease monitoring and management protocols currently in use by the agency,” adds ICE. “In addition, ICE is actively working with state and local health partners to determine if any detainee requires additional testing or monitoring to combat the spread of the virus.” Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley in June told the Blade that ICE is “ignoring” social distancing guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and not providing “protective gear or hygiene products” to detainees. The detainee with whom the Blade spoke last week also said there is no socially distancing at the detention center where they are in ICE custody. “There’s no such thing right now as socially distancing,” they said. “It’s not safe,” added the detainee.
ICE said as of Monday there were 908 detainees with conﬁrmed coronavirus cases.
El Salvador ofﬁcers get 20 years for killing trans woman SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Three police ofﬁcers in El Salvador have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of a transgender woman in 2019. “20 years in prison for three PNC (National Civil Police) ofﬁcers for the murder of a member of the LGBTI community,” wrote El Salvador Attorney General Raúl Melara on his Twitter account after announcing the San Salvador court’s verdict against Carlos Rosales, Jaime Mendoza and Luis Avelar for kidnapping Camila Díaz Córdova on Jan. 31, 2019. Díaz was found hours later with various injuries to her body. She died at Rosales National Hospital on Feb. 3, 2019. Díaz’s friend, Virginia Flores, told the Washington Blade the U.S. deported her in 2017 after she migrated because of the danger the LGBTQ community — especially trans people — face in El Salvador. “It is personally the least that I expected, but it is still no fair. It is half justice,” said Flores. “It was immediately clear that it was a hate crime, but I am pleased that they have sentenced these killers.” The three police ofﬁcers had their ﬁrst court hearing on July 5, 2019, after they were charged with kidnapping and aggravated homicide as a hate crime. The judge did not admit the aggravating circumstance in the case. “By not admitting the aggravating circumstance, the sentence did not reach 50 years in prison,” Mónica Linares, director of Aspidh Arcoiris Trans, a Salvadoran trans advocacy group, told the Blade. “Two previous hearings removed the aggravating circumstance because of lack of evidence.” ERNESTO VALLE
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SARAH KATE ELLIS is president and CEO of GLAAD.
Pence stands in stark contrast to Biden’s VP shortlist
LGBTQ people cannot take anything for granted and cannot stay home
With less than three months to go until one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime, all eyes are on Joe Biden. He is expected to soon reveal his vice presidential pick. As LGBTQ Americans, we are paying particularly close attention. Despite what some pundits would have us believe, the vice president matters. When Joe Biden was vice president, he pushed the administration to move forward on marriage equality. As vice president, Mike Pence has led the charge for Donald Trump and put LGBTQ people and our equality in unprecedented peril. GLAAD has tracked more than 165 attacks in policy and rhetoric from President Trump, Vice President Pence, and the administration’s appointees since they took ofﬁce in January 2017. It started on day one with the removal of all mentions of LGBTQ people and policy from the ofﬁcial White House web site and has continued nonstop. With Pence at his side in May 2017, Trump signed the ﬁrst of several so-called “religious liberty” executive orders, paving the way for newly sanctioned discrimination in public life. Later that year in a closed-door and unannounced event, Trump and Pence posed proudly for a photograph in the Oval Ofﬁce with notorious anti-LGBTQ activists. Meanwhile, following Trump’s egregious attempt to ban transgender service members, Pence argued behind closed doors for the elimination of their health care beneﬁts. Sadly, we knew the danger of a Pence vice presidency from the moment Trump put him on the ticket, so none of this came as a surprise to us. As governor of Indiana, Pence earned national notoriety for signing a so-called “religious freedom” bill that antiLGBTQ activists in his state championed for the purposes of allowing business owners the right to refuse service to LGBTQ customers. After outcry and boycotts, Pence was forced to sign an amended version that made it clear the law cannot be used to discrimination on basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. And in his ﬁrst run for Congress, he vowed to oppose marriage equality and give employers a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the workplace.
The Pence record stands in stark contrast to that of the reported leading contenders to join the Biden ticket. When she was District Attorney, Sen. Kamala Harris established an LGBTQ hate crimes unit and as California attorney general, she refused to defend the state’s Proposition 8, which disallowed samesex marriage. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been an outspoken advocate for transgender Americans, using her platforms to shine a light on the violence experienced by trans women of color in particular. She has fought in the Senate to get justice for same-sex couples who couldn’t jointly ﬁle taxes prior to the Supreme Court ruling on marriage. In 2012, she was a leading voice in urging President Obama to support same-sex marriage. As President Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice made international LGBTQ rights a priority, and spoke out forcefully when other nations’ leaders put us in harms way. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the ﬁrst openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate, has made LGBTQ equality a cornerstone of her service. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a military hero herself, has been a ﬁerce opponent of the Trump transgender military ban. Rep. Karen Bass has been an outspoken advocate for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. Congresswoman Val Demmings has been an ardent supporter of the Equality Act and a champion for ensuring that the tragedy at Pulse nightclub in her home state of Florida is not forgotten. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms inaugurated the city’s ﬁrst report on LGBTQ affairs and appointed the city’s ﬁrst full-time LGBTQ Affairs Coordinator. Running for Georgia governor, Stacey Abrams became the ﬁrst major party candidate for that ofﬁce to march in the Atlanta Pride parade, building on a lifelong record of LGBTQ advocacy dating back to her days at Spelman College. As LGBTQ people, we cannot take anything for granted, and we cannot stay home. We must use our voices to educate one another and our allies about what’s at stake and who stands with us. And we must use our votes to protect the progress we have made and lay the path for full equality. The stage is nearly set. The rest is up to us. To join GLAAD’s 2020 Election campaign to educate, engage, and activate LGBTQ and ally voters, visit GLAAD.org/vote.
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is executive director of LGBT Tech, a nonpartisan group working to ensure that technology issues of concern to LGBTQ communities are addressed in public policy conversations.
Rider surveillance poses threat to LGBTQ privacy
Cities should abandon real-time location tracking
June has come and gone, and the absence of most Pride parades, parties, and other public demonstrations of solidarity with the LGBTQ community is palpable. These Pride events have become annual reminders of the progress we’ve made in the 50 years since the Stonewall riots. And yet, despite daily advancements in the ﬁght for LGBTQ equality – namely the recent Supreme Court victory on workplace protections under the Civil Rights Act – we cannot rest on our laurels and must remain vigilant against policies that could take us backward. Where can progress still be made? It’s not just in the courts, legislative chambers, or other government bodies. Businesses and corporate institutions also yield signiﬁcant inﬂuence in shaping policies and public perceptions around LGBTQ issues. The tech industry, in particular, often goes unnoticed in terms of its signiﬁcance to the LGBTQ community and what it can still achieve. Though signiﬁcant challenges and concerns remain, and new unexpected tech-speciﬁc issues have arisen, especially around online privacy and safety and too many LGBTQ individuals being on the wrong side of the digital divide,many difﬁcult aspects of growing up LGBTQ continue to be ameliorated thanks to technological innovation. Unfortunately, the widespread adoption and proliferation of technology can also be dangerous to our community, especially when wielded by government entities with little or no oversight. Algorithmic discrimination, facial recognition and encryption are just some of the areas where we are disproportionately affected. Another emerging area of concern for the privacy of LGBTQ individuals is a data collection tool called the Mobility Data Speciﬁcation (MDS). The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) developed MDS last year to track the movements of individual vehicles as they move throughout the city. It’s currently being used on dockless bikes and scooters, and will eventually be expanded to all ride-sharing vehicles like Ubers and Lyfts. MDS functions by collecting a rider’s starting point, route, and destination, all without an opt-out mechanism. Studies have shown that it’s easy to identify riders using this information, providing the city government with a massive
surveillance apparatus. Not surprisingly, other cities like Washington, D.C., are considering following suit, and the implications for LGBTQ individuals are alarming. If you’re part of the LGBTQ community, you know that a right to privacy – and with it your right to come out on your own terms – has been a key part of the ﬁght for equality. For LGBTQ individuals, having a safe place to gather with other members of the community – whether it’s a friend’s home, bars, or activity groups – is a key part of becoming comfortable with their identity. If MDS could result in someone being outed by their location data, many LGBTQ people would be deterred from engaging in these important activities. Imagine if a city employee were tracked to a gay bar by a coworker with MDS access and involuntarily outed. Or consider a government agency tracking individuals engaged in lawful activities, like attending equality protests or rallies. Just as troubling, what if someone were tracked to APLA Health or Whitman-Walker, taking away their autonomy over their personal medical activities? All of these risks are undoubtedly serious, and we want to avoid them, but they’re ultimately secondary to one of the greatest threats at this intersection of surveillance and LGBTQ rights, which is the potential for violence. LGBTQ individuals, especially trans women of color, have historically been and are still targets of vicious attacks due to social stigmas and hate that we’ve fought hard to eradicate. The Center for Democracy and Technology said this about MDS: “The risk of harm from exposing [location] information is particularly high for survivors of genderbased assault and hate-motivated violence.” That is not a risk worth taking. Unfortunately, we have yet to reach a time when LGBTQ individuals are free from discrimination and the fear of social marginalization and violence. Out of a ﬁrm commitment to seeing that day eventually arrive, we believe Los Angeles, Washington, D..C, and other cities should abandon realtime location tracking with MDS. Simply put, it’s a technology that could expose critically sensitive data without clear safeguards or regulations in place, resulting in great harm to the LGBTQ community. Now is the time to learn more, speak out, and raise awareness of rider surveillance before it’s too late.
JEFF TRAMMELL headed LGBTQ outreach for the Gore and Kerry presidential campaigns. CHARLES FRANCIS is president of The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. and served on President George W. Bush’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
‘Silence = Death, VOTE’
Take a lesson from AIDS activism on Nov. 3 Deep in a Smithsonian vault rests an iconic election poster from the 1980s stored in an archival drawer. It reads: “Silence = Death, VOTE.” It can still shock with its imagery and blunt words. “Your vote is a weapon….we are at war,” the poster states in an historic political call to action for LGBTQ Americans to engage in the most important election of their lives in the midst of a raging epidemic. It was an election as primally important then as the one all Americans face, today. Despite President Trump’s suggestion that it be postponed, we are have that election, hell or high water, on Nov. 3. “Silence = Death,” emerging from the pain of the AIDS epidemic, is oddly prophetic for 2020. Engage and ﬁght back or quietly succumb. Intended to rally outrage about the indifference of the federal government to the epidemic of that time, the words called forth three decades of LGBTQ activism that brought unimaginable change. Today, that same challenge faces the whole nation. An epidemic spreads like wildﬁre. Americans are dying and the White House is indifferent, if not hostile, to the science and medical progress essential to survival. “Silence = Death” was introduced in 1988 after seven excruciating years of denial of science and public health in favor of silence about the AIDS epidemic by the Reagan administration. Dr. Anthony Fauci had been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for four years, and had witnessed ﬁrst-hand the political silence and bumbling that surrounded the epidemic. Five presidencies later, Dr. Fauci recalled the crucial intersection between then and today’s American COVID epidemic challenge: “….it was only when the world realized how the gay community responded to the outbreak with incredible courage and dignity and strength and activism” did the stigma of AIDS diminish and global progress against the epidemic advance. The Silence = Death “activism that Dr. Fauci praised led to the growth of the self-identiﬁed LGBTQ vote that today numbers nine million adults, according to the Williams Institute. These voters developed a new intensity of engagement with politics in the ﬁrst national presidential election when the major party candidates took clear and differing positions on the issue of LGBTQ rights. It was at the 1992 presidential convention where candidate Patrick Buchanan declared, “There is a religious war going on in the country, it is a cultural war…..We must take back our culture and take back our country!” At Mount Rushmore on July 4th, Trump could not have sounded more like Buchanan: a “left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution…..they would destroy the very civilization.” The 2020 election demands the same historic courage, dignity, strength and activism Dr. Fauci summoned at the White House coronavirus brieﬁng. Trump is reelected only if Americans don’t vote, if they are silent. LGBTQ, as well as young, Black, brown, seniors, women – all Americans have an extraordinary stake in the outcome of this election. Indeed “Silence = Death” stands as a warning to all Americans who do not use the only true weapon we have, the vote, to ﬁght the epidemic and to keep our precious country and its citizens alive.
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is a regular contributor to the Blade and winner of the 2014 Stonewall Chapbook competition.
is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
Forget the pandemic, immerse D.C. public funding for yourself in de Havilland! elections must be transparent Iconic star had an iron will, changed Hollywood system “The life of the love interest is really pretty boring,” Academy Award-winning actress Olivia de Havilland told the Academy of Achievement in 2006. That may have been true for the beloved silver screen star. But, life with de Havilland as your love interest would never have been boring! De Havilland, a gay icon and one of Old Hollywood’s last surviving stars, died on July 26 at age 104 at her home in Paris. It’s hard to believe that de Havilland is no longer with us. We know movie stars, no matter how stellar, will fade away. But, somehow, we expected de Havilland to always be there. Like many of her aﬁcionados, I ﬁrst knew de Havilland as Melanie Hamilton in “Gone with the Wind.” I saw the 1939 Civil War epic when I was 10. I had no clue about the racism in the ﬁlm. But, I loved Melanie’s gentleness. “Gone with the Wind” is streaming now on HBO Max with an introduction saying that the movie represents life in the Confederate South as “a world of grace and beauty, without acknowledging the brutalities of the system of chattel slavery upon which this world is based.” In its day, every actress on earth wanted to be in “Gone with the Wind.” De Havilland fought to play Melanie. Though petite (she was just 5 feet, three inches tall) and beautiful, de Havilland had an iron will. De Havilland then was under contract to Warner Bros. “Gone with the Wind” was an MGM production. When Jack Warner wouldn’t agree to lend her to MGM, she went over his head. After she had lunch with his wife, Warner agreed to lend her to MGM. De Havilland was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress for her performance as Melanie. But the Oscar went to Hattie McDaniel who played the slave Mammy in the ﬁlm. (McDaniel was the ﬁrst African-American
to be awarded an Oscar.) After her success with “Gone with the Wind,” de Havilland successfully sued Warner Bros. for the right to perform more challenging roles. The case, unofﬁcially known as the “de Havilland law,” helped to end the Hollywood studio system’s power over actors and writers. I had no idea of de Havilland’s talent until I, entranced, binge-watched her movies. If you want to blissfully forget the pandemic, immerse yourself in de Havilland! Thankfully, many of her ﬁlms from “The Dark Mirror” to “The Snake Pit” to “To Each His Own” (for which she received an Oscar) are streaming. De Havilland was born in 1916 to British parents in Tokyo. After her parents divorced, her mother moved de Havilland and her sister, the actress Joan Fontaine (who died in 2013), to California. The acting bug bit de Havilland early on. Her mother had been an actress. One day when she was ﬁve, de Havilland put on her mother’s stage make-up, which she found in a box. Her mother told her not to do that again. But that didn’t diminish de Havilland’s acting ambitions. She was discovered by Hollywood when, as a teenager, de Havilland appeared as Hermia in a Hollywood Bowl production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In 1935, she made her ﬁlm debut in the ﬁlm of the Shakespeare play. Over her career, de Havilland’s roles ranged from Maid Marion in “The Adventures of Robin Hood” to (her real life friend) Bette Davis’s character’s cousin in the camp classic “Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” Her Academy Awardwinning portrayal of Catherine Sloper, a young woman with an uncaring father who’s bedazzled by a fortune hunter, will knock your socks off! “I’m not at all sure if you know that I’m alive,” de Havilland wrote in “Every Frenchman Has One,” her book about living in Paris (where she moved to in the 1950s). Not to worry, Olivia, you’ll always be alive to us.
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Hold candidates accountable for money received and spent The D.C. City Council in its wisdom passed The Fair Elections Amendment Act of 2018 to provide public funds (taxpayer money) to those who decide to run for ofﬁce in the District. Those eligible to participate in the program are candidates for Mayor, Attorney General, Chairman and Members of the Council, At-Large and Ward (13), and Members of the State Board of Education (9). This public money is available for both primaries and the general election. From what I have observed it is a generous program and fairly easy for candidates to access, maybe even too easy to qualify for. Recently, a candidate who announced as an independent for a Ward Council seat tweeted he qualiﬁed for the program within 11 hours. My initial thought on seeing the tweet is any program that gives out city funds to candidates who qualify in less than a day may be worth taking a second look at. This year we are having a three-stage contest for the Ward 2 council seat. First, there was a Democratic primary to see who would run for the full four-year term in November and then a special election to ﬁll the remaining term of a member who had resigned. There were about 10 people running in those elections and from a cursory review the city gave out more than $1 million to those candidates to fund their races. As it turned out the winner of both the primary and special election was the one candidate who self-funded and didn’t participate in the program. In the upcoming general election to take place on Nov. 3, there are 25 candidates who have ﬁled to run for the two at-large seats open and 14 for the four Ward seats up. If they all apply and qualify for money from the program that will cost D.C. taxpayers a lot of money. One requirement for a candidate for an At-Large Council seat to qualify for the program is to get contributions from at least 250 small dollar contributors, which
in the aggregate, total $12,000 and that will qualify them for $40,000 from the program. They can then continue to get matching funds up to about $308,000. Considering there are 25 potential candidates and even if they all don’t end up on the ballot this could get very expensive. The city could be paying out a lot of money for candidates who it is clear have no legitimate chance of winning. If a candidate decides not to join this public ﬁnancing scheme there are still limits on what they can raise from individuals or businesses. I am not sure they can raise enough from any individual or business to be considered bought. All that being said I am in favor of public ﬁnancing for campaigns. The issue for me is how it is done and how much money we give to candidates. To determine how this program is working it will be necessary for a full report to be submitted to the Council and available for the public to see on what the costs were for the entire scope of the 2020 election cycle. It needs detail on each candidate, their contributions to qualify for the program, how much they received, how much they spent and what they spent it on. Then we need to see if any money was returned to the system from candidates who didn’t use all they received. It would then be interesting to see a comparison with any candidate who didn’t enter the system and rather self-funded by raising their own contributions without matching funds. That will be the only way we can judge how successful the Fair Elections program is. We have to also take into consideration this was an unusual year because of the pandemic so we will need to continue to follow this on a regular basis and then make adjustments to the program as necessary. D.C. is clearly an interesting case study as there are only 24 major ofﬁces we contest elections for. Other ofﬁces we hold elections for, our congressional representative who has no vote, shadow ofﬁces, and the members of the local ANCs are not covered by this act.
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‘My biggest hope is that the museum not only diversiﬁes but also is a leader in opening up pathways,’ said STEVEN NELSON.
National Gallery of Art’s new dean talks diversity, COVID Nelson left Los Angeles for D.C. just as lockdowns began By KAELA ROEDER While most of us were just trying to get by during recent COVID quarantines, Steven Nelson accepted a new high-proﬁle job and moved cross country amid the pandemic. After more than 20 years in academia, multiple publications, awards and speakerships, Nelson was appointed as the new dean of the National Gallery of Art’s research institute that promotes the studies of the production, use, and cultural meaning of art. In this position at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Nelson will focus on fundraising, leadership and scholarship work to advance the center’s mission and impact. The research center, which was founded in 1979, has been the epicenter of scholarly work on a variety of topics and art mediums. In July, Nelson retired from UCLA where he was a professor for 20 years and taught subjects ranging from African art, Black power in art and African architecture. He was also the director of the UCLA African Studies Center and an adviser to UCLA leadership on diversity and inclusion strategic planning. Nelson ﬁrst joined the National Gallery as the Andrew W. Mellon professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. In that professorship, he wrote two manuscripts for upcoming books titled “Structural Adjustment: Mapping, Geography, and the Visual Cultures of Blackness” and “On the Underground Railroad.” In addition, he is co-editing a project titled “The Black Modernisms Seminars,” which is a research volume that is part of the center’s initiative on African-American art. The project will be published in 2021. New role during pandemic Despite not yet having a solidiﬁed housing plan and working remotely, Nelson said his transition to a new leadership role has been smooth. “Moving in a pandemic has been really interesting and complicated to assess, however, it’s been weirdly more seamless than I thought it would be,” he said. Nelson said the move also acted as a distraction from “all the really terrible things that were happening in the world.” The announcement of Nelson’s new role came on March 6, early in the spread of the coronavirus. Nelson had been working in Washington for his previous role but had to return to Los Angeles to pack for permanent relocation. When not in meetings or writing policy proposals, Nelson said he enjoys learning more about Washington with his husband and says he likes the setup and walkability of the city. When the concerns of the pandemic lessen, he said he hopes to explore local museums in his free time. Like any new position, getting acclimated to new colleagues and processes is to be expected, he said. Also, Nelson has been in the building since 2018 as the Andrew W. Mellon professor, which made the transition even more seamless, he said. Nelson also said he is enjoying working with others more directly as a dean. He described his past academic work as isolating, saying research and writing can be more of a lonely process. “Being part of a larger leadership team has been really energetic,” he said. “I’m a social animal and I really enjoy being part of a team that charts a course forward for an institution.” When editing applications for Ph.D. programs in the late ‘90s, Nelson said he seldom included his gay identity in his admission materials, while his Black identity was noted in all 2 0 • WAS H I NGTO NBLA D E.COM • AUGUST 07, 2 020
of them. “A friend of mine said, ‘Why wouldn’t you be out on all of these applications? If you’re not going to be out, why would you go to xyz institutions?’ I took that to heart and decided to be open,” he said. Since then, Nelson said that he has always been open about his sexual orientation and that it has impacted the ways he researches, approaches the world and works. He is also planning on promoting inclusion and diversity at all levels at the gallery. “As a person who is black, gay and left-handed, this is important to me. My biggest hope is that the museum not only diversiﬁes but also is a leader in opening up pathways,” he said. “We’re working on ways to do that.” Identity has impacted the work Nelson has done in the past, and he said he hopes to “move the needle” for others. He also said his experiences as being the only African American in the room at many times in his life has impacted him greatly, and he said he is looking forward to promoting inclusion and diversity at the gallery to make that reality less common in the future. Nelson is currently forming a new strategic plan for the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and ﬁnding ways for the center to be at the forefront of the entire gallery. He is also looking at diversity and inclusion actions to take to make several aspects of the museum more inclusive, including making attendants and staff feel more accepted. In accordance with the rest of the gallery, he said he hopes to “create an institution that fosters excellence in scholarship, that is accessible and that is part of a larger creation of pathways into the profession for younger people. With ever-changing health and safety guidelines, Nelson said the future of museums is going to look different. He said he sees more digital programming coming up and less focus on physical spaces. New museums and galleries are less likely to emerge, he said. Following this vision, the National Gallery of Art has already provided programs online, such as lectures, screenings and blogs. The gallery also partially reopened in mid-July to the public, allowing people to observe the ground ﬂoor exhibit with timed entries, face coverings and social distancing. For the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Nelson said digital events have been at the forefront of programming for years — the circumstances of the pandemic have not made a signiﬁcant difference. He plans to continue these events for years to come. Nelson said his favorite aspect of teaching at UCLA was the students. The art history and African-American studies programs at UCLA are also very diverse, with students coming from a myriad of backgrounds and experiences, he said. While Nelson said he is excited for the next steps ahead, he will miss teaching students. While completing his Ph.D. at Harvard University, Nelson focused his dissertation on African art. He was originally interested in studying modern art, but learning about African art changed his research path. In 1993, Nelson traveled to Cameroon for a year to research his dissertation on an Africanist art historian, which inspired him to delve into African art research and to continue visiting the continent. Now, he has visited Senegal and other countries. He also wrote the book “From Cameroon to Paris: Mousgoum Architecture In and Out of Africa,” which analyzes the residential architecture of the populations in far-north Cameroon.
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LATOYA MILLERHARRIS is a senior training specialist at Pepco.
She shows up, 100 percent her authentic self and she is breaking barriers while doing so. The entertainment industry recognizes her for her brilliant artistry, not based on her appearance. Her conﬁdence is inspiring.
QUEERY LaToya MillerHarris
What LGBTQ stereotype most annoys you? As a masculine presenting lesbian, I am personally annoyed with the assumption that I wish to be a man. I do not. Anyone who knows me also knows that I embrace my feminine side. I am most comfortable in attire “deemed” for a man, as well as my low haircut. For me, masculinity does not equate gender.
QUEERY: LaToya MillerHarris The Pepco ERG co-founder answers 20 queer questions FROM STAFF REPORTS LaToya MillerHarris is a senior training specialist at Pepco. In 2016, she and two co-workers founded the Exelon Pride Employee Resource Group for Pepco’s D.C./Maryland region. “Being excited about Exelon’s introduction of ERGs to Pepco, I joined Baltimore Gas & Electric’s (also an Exelon Company) Pride ERG,” MillerHarris said. “Seeing the work BGE was doing for its LGBTQ employees, allies, and community, I immediately wanted to see the same for Pepco and hopped on the opportunity to be on a team that created the business plan, engaged membership, co-led the chapter and advocated for LGBTQ concerns within the Pepco workplace.” MillerHarris has served as the events chair since 2016 and says it’s important for employees to feel empowered to bring their authentic selves to the workplace. “We spend a great deal of time at work, so it is important that LGBTQ employees feel visible, equal, and safe,” she said. “How can effective conversations be held regarding LGBTQ healthcare,
discrimination, bathrooms, etc. if there is a lack of support from the company as a whole?” MillerHarris, 39, is married to Brittany MillerHarris; the two celebrated their ﬁrst wedding anniversary on July 20 and live in Oxon Hill, Md. She was born and raised in Southeast D.C. and enjoys self-care days as well as strength training. How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I came out at the age of 16, so that is 23 years. The hardest person to tell would have been my grandmother. We were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses and I did not want to disappoint her. I never got the courage to actually tell her, but I remember her telling me “LaToya, Jehovah loves you just the way you are.” She passed in 2001 and I like to believe that if she were alive today, she would love me as much as she told me God does. Who’s your LGBTQ hero? My new LGBTQ hero is Lena Waithe.
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What’s your proudest professional achievement? I am proud to play an important role in the DC Infrastructure Academy. DCIA is a partnership with District Department of Employment Services (DOES) and Pepco. Through this program, I have had the pleasure of training 40 D.C. residents for employment in the infrastructure industry. We have had two cohorts thus far and I have witnessed all 40 participants land new careers with Pepco or our Contractors of Choice. To see what they were able to overcome, to witness their commitment, and be a part of their success is a rewarding experience. The next cohort is starting soon. What terriﬁes you? Honestly, death. I feel like I have so much more to accomplish and so many lives to touch. What’s something trashy or vapid you love? I enjoy watching ratchet TV with my wife. Right now, we are watching “Marriage Boot Camp – Hip Hop Edition.” What’s your greatest domestic skill? I am the “cleaner” at home.
everywhere. Transgender rights. Better laws against hate crimes. There is just so much work to be done. What’s the most overrated social custom? That women should wear dresses, make up, and heels. I hope for the day that all masculine presenting women can feel comfortable, accepted and safe in society. What was your religion, if any, as a child and what is it today? I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. Today, I am spiritual. I believe in God. I call him Jehovah. I pray. What’s D.C.’s best hidden gem? There was a speakeasy that just recently closed permanently due to COVID-19. It was called Nocturne and was located in the Shaw area. That was my gem. Shout out to Hakim and Daniel. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? For me, it was when Diddy did the Bad Boy Reunion Tour. That was EPIC! Best concert of my life – and we go to a LOT of concerts. What celebrity death hardest? I can’t say that one has.
If you could redo one moment from your past, what would it be? I would have attended a traditional college. Things were tough at that time in my life, but I wish I had the support system to have gone to a traditional college. Preferably, Howard University. My wife is a grad of Howard and I now know some AWESOME people from there. Great things have come from Howard. What are your obsessions? SNEAKERS! My closets are overﬂowing with sneakers.
What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie or show? I don’t have a favorite LGBTQ movie or show. I do enjoy watching Ellen’s talk show, when I can catch it. I love her!
Finish this sentence — It’s about damn time: For a new president. Go out and VOTE!
What’s your social media pet peeve? I think I AM a social media pet peeve *laughing*. I post ALL the time. As an introvert, social media let’s me “act” like an extrovert.
18? Don’t take out student loans that you do not need, no matter how hard times are.
What would the end of the LGBTQ movement look like to you? Marriage equality for everyone,
What do you wish you’d known at
Why Washington? DC, born and raised!
Summer Restaurant week is coming with a focus on outdoor and socially distant dining options, like this recent scene from Pitchers.
FROM THE VAULTS: The teen edition
CALENDAR By KAELA ROEDER
The Songbyrd is kicking off their outdoor dinner and movie series with a screening of “Purple Rain” at 9 p.m. tonight. Seating is limited and registration is required in advance. Only patrons over 21 are allowed, and there is a $25 minimum spend per table. Details at songbyrddc.com/events.
Saturday, August 8
Rainbow Families’ Virtual Family conference is today and tomorrow. The conference offers more than 25 workshops on varying topics, including pathways to parenthood, race and diversity in families, guidance for parents, ﬁnancial, legal and other important subjects. Registration is $35. Learn more at rainbowfamilies.org.
Sunday, August 9
Yoga for Black Lives Matter is hosting an outdoor power Vinyasa-style class focused on traditional yoga postures and foundational and grounding poses on today at 7:30 p.m at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Tickets are $25, but attendees can donate as little as $5.50. Proceeds from this session will be donated to Movement for Black Lives. More classes are scheduled to be held every few weeks until Sept. 27. Details at the respective Eventbrite page.
Monday, August 10
The National Gallery of Art has reopened the ground ﬂoor exhibits from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Free, timed passes will be required for entry, and attendees are encouraged to arrive within their 30-minute entry time. Details at nga.gov/ visit/reopening.
Tuesday, August 11
The National Museum of Asian Art is hosting virtual a 30-minute online meditation class today at 12:15 p.m., as well as each week led by Washington-based meditation teachers. All are
welcome, and no previous experience is required. Details at asia.si.edu/events.
Wednesday, August 12
Join Busboys and Poets for a socially distant “surprise” feature movie night tonight and every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the business’ Shirlington location. Attendees can pre-order their food for contactless ordering. Registration is required on Eventbrite, and the event is free. Learn more by visiting busboysandpoets. com/events-list
Thursday, August 13
Former Congresswoman Katie Hill is set to discuss her new book “She Will Rise” streamed through P&P Live! with Politics and Prose Bookstore tonight at 6 p.m. There is no set ticket price, but a donation of $5-$10 is suggested. In this book, Hill details personal experiences with misogyny and double standards in politics. Visit politics-prose.com/event to learn more.
OUT&ABOUT Summer Restaurant Week returns
Summer Restaurant Week, presented by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, runs from Aug. 17-30. This year, the event has expanded to include a to-go program with a variety of family-style offerings as well as alcoholic options available over the two weeks. Details at ramw.org/restaurantweek
Heart to Hand, Inc. offers self-defense classes
Heart to Hand, Inc. is hosting selfdefense classes speciﬁcally designed for trans individuals. The organization is a community-based healthcare organization helping those affected by HIV and other STDs. The event is free to the public, but Black trans women are encouraged to attend. For more information, contact Kaniya Walker from the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catch up on queer ﬁlms you may have missed By BRIAN T. CARNEY
This week’s curated collection of movies to enjoy while you’re sheltered in place zooms in on queer teens. “Every Day,” an intriguing sci-ﬁ rom-com mash-up, is a charming and thought-provoking movie that never found the audience it deserved. It has a lot going for it. It’s based on a novel by Lambda Literary Award winner David Levithan and it’s directed by Michael Sucsy, who helmed HBO’s award-winning adaptation of “Grey Gardens.” The cast is great, especially the charming Angourie Rice (“Spider-Man: Far from Home”) in the challenging lead role. But, the movie’s hard to explain. Rice plays Rhiannon, a shy high-school student who encounters “A,” an entity who inhabits a different human body (male or female) every day. It’s great fun to watch Rhiannon ﬁgure out what’s going on and to watch “A” learn about human behavior. It’s a hard concept to reduce to a catchy tagline, but it’s an engaging genderbending boundary-busting movie. The excellent comedy “Booksmart” also had challenges ﬁnding an audience; part of the problem was an ad campaign that didn’t reach out to the LGBTQ community or mention that one of the lead characters was a lesbian. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein (“Lady Bird”) play Amy (gay) and Molly (straight), two high school academic superstars who realize on graduation night that they should have spent more time partying and less time studying. First-time feature-ﬁlm director Olivia Wilde (who was named 2019’s Wilde Wit by GALECA, the Society of LGBT Entertainment Critics) nicely captures both the raucous humor and the heartfelt sentiment of the moment. The terriﬁc cast includes Will Forte and Lisa Kudrow as Amy’s overly accepting parents. Director Greg Berlanti, known for his innovative and inclusive programming on the CW network, found commercial success with “Love, Simon” his take on contemporary gay teens. Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is a high school student in an afﬂuent Atlanta suburb. He knows he’s gay, but is reluctant to come out to his friends and family. Like the sometimes callous Simon, the movie has some glaring blind spots about class and “straight-acting” gays, but it’s redeemed by a great script, Berlanti’s solid direction, Robinson’s charm and terriﬁc supporting performances from Josh Duhamel, Natasha Rothwell and Tony Hale. Robinson and screenwriters Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker have launched a spin-off series on Hulu, but “Love, Victor” is a pale imitation of the original movie. The passionate Kenyan romance “Raﬁki” is about two young women who fall in love. It was initially banned under Kenya’s strict anti-LGBT laws, but writer/director Wanuri Kahiu won an important international legal victory by convincing the Kenyan Supreme Court to lift the ban. Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) are anxiously awaiting the results of their all-important school exams. Their friendship is challenged by the political rivalry between their fathers, but their lives are threatened when Mama Atim, the vicious gossip who runs the local café, tells everyone about their relationship. Kahiu directs with remarkable conﬁdence and a strong sense of pacing and style. She paints a vibrant picture of the Nairobi neighborhood where the story unfolds and creates vivid multi-dimensional characters. Queer teenagers are also under attack in two excellent conversion therapy dramas. Based on the hard-hitting memoir by Garrard Conley, “Boy Erased” tells the story of Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges). When Jared’s conservative Christian parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) learn that he is gay, they send him to a church-based gay conversion program run by Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton, who also directed and wrote the screenplay). In “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” a teenage girl is sent to a conversion therapy camp when her aunt catches her in the backseat of a car with another girl. Chloë Grace Moretz offers a ﬁnely nuanced performance as Cameron, with Sasha Lane and Forrest Goodluck as fellow “campers” and Jennifer Ehle and John Gallaher Jr. as the creepy siblings who run the camp. Both movies feature solid screenplays that clearly condemn conversion therapy while creating interesting, well-rounded characters. Finally, “But I’m a Cheerleader,” which introduced the world to the great Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll” and “Orange is the New Black”) offers a satirical take on the world of “sexual redirection.” AUGUST 0 7 , 2 0 2 0 • WAS H IN GTO N B LAD E.CO M • 2 5
Vidal vs. Buckley play reinvented as film Mosaic’s ‘Inherit the Windbag’ thwarted by COVID By PATRICK FOLLIARD
“Inherit the Windbag,” a new play by Alexandra Petri, was on the verge of opening at Mosaic Theater Company in March when COVID-19 abruptly shut it down. Now the thwarted world premiere project is about to be reinvented as a ﬁlm to stream at home. Filming begins next week. During the summer of 1968, then-lagging network ABC took a gamble on how to cover the Republican and Democratic conventions. They hired American ideological opposites - arch conservative William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal, iconoclastic leftist, novelist and brilliant essayist – to increase ratings with provocative nightly debate. Despite the patrician veneers and volley of ﬁve dollar words, this wasn’t polite conversation. Things got particularly hot when Vidal called Buckley a “crypto Nazi,” and a snarling Buckley replied “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddam face, and you’ll stay plastered.” (Gore identiﬁed as bisexual though he lived with a man and had sex only with men.)
In Petri’s satirical battle of wits, Vidal and Buckley are reunited in a hellscape, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., where they debate again. Added to the mix are a supporting cast of conjured “demons” including mid-20th writers and chat show regulars James Baldwin, Truman Capote, and Ayn Rand. Best known for her smart and funny Washington Post opinion pieces, Petri, 32, was drawn to the fabled contretemps after seeing “Best of Enemies,” Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s 2015 documentary that entertainingly lays out the televised feud: “I was fascinated and repulsed by my own fascination,” she recalls. “They have a visceral mutual loathing that comes through the camera and that’s very watchable to me. “Vidal was a fascinating and contradictory ﬁgure. If you were creating someone out of thin air you couldn’t make him up. And the pair together, with their use of polysyllabic words, classical allusions, and idiosyncratic accents, were well matched. Yet, though deeply and superﬁcially the same, their world views were vastly different.” After having been away from the script for some time, Petri is excited to do some rewriting for the digital debut. “It’s something that’s easy to go back to - despite the obfuscating verbiage, the characters are working through the same things we are today. Everything around them has the same urgency as we’re seeing now.” Admired Washington-based actor Paul Morella plays Vidal. Watching Vidal on YouTube helped in creating his characterization. There’s lots of available video of the man who famously said “Never turn down a chance to have sex or be
on television.” Here’s Morella’s takeaway: “Vidal consistently used a certain mid-Atlantic patrician accent. There’s almost a musicality and rhythm to the way he speaks. My goal has been to lock into that way of speaking which uses words intellectually and as weapons. They’re his arsenal – both the intellect behind them and the manner of delivering them. “Physically, Vidal has an elegance that compared to Buckley’s restlessness illuminates the debate segments in a way that people familiar with it will recognize.” Morella, who is straight, has assayed gay characters before, including execrable lawyer Roy Cohn in both parts of “Angels in America” at Signature Theatre; and while in graduate school at Catholic University he played one of the guys in Mart Crowley’s seminal “Boys in the Band.” “When I got the part, I hadn’t been in theater very long and some of the humor eluded me but it worked for my character,” he remembers. Mosaic Theater’s decision to ﬁlm promises ample opportunity to play with screens and TV cameras, the technology behind the debates: “The plan is to use a combination of video and ﬁlming, done at home with green screen setup and shot remotely with actors positioned so it looks like the we’re together.” “It won’t be just a Hollywood Squares Zoom type of thing,” Morella assures. As part of Mosaic Theater’s ongoing virtual public programming, Petri will discuss her play and other topics with “Creative Conversation: Alexandra Petri – Playwright of “Inherit the Windbag.” Friday, August 14, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Watch live on the Mosaic Theater Company Facebook page.
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Living large in small spaces
Murphy beds, creative storage solutions can help By VALERIE M. BLAKE
With prices in the DMV housing market continuing to rise, some buyers are opting to purchase something smaller with a corresponding lower price. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 129 efﬁciency condominiums and cooperatives sold in the District, ranging in price from $147,000 to $400,000. In Maryland, there were 28 sold in Montgomery County priced from $68,000 to $320,000. Arlington ruled Northern Virginia with 30 units sold between $120,000 and $370,000. Elsewhere inside the Beltway, there were 29 more. Most of these homes are 500 square feet or less, perhaps a little larger than the size of a typical two-car garage. Yet, when they are in a residential building with the right amenities and storage options, they can feel quite large. The important thing is learning how to organize. For a little help, try reading Christopher Lowell’s “Seven Layers of Organization” or “The KonMari Method” by Marie Kondo and be ruthless about purging what you don’t need or want. A typical studio or efﬁciency condo will likely have a small kitchen, a bathroom, a dressing area/closet and a room that will take on any name you want. If you think you can’t ﬁt everything you want into a kitchen, you should know that good things, like kitchen appliances, come in small packages. Pair a 24” refrigerator and stove with an 18” dishwasher. An undermount, 22” sink will ﬁt in a 24” base cabinet. If you have an L-shaped kitchen, add a 33” Lazy Susan cabinet or a blind base with a half-moon shelf that allows you to see all the things you have in the very back of the cabinet. Store your knives and cooking utensils nearby with a magnetic wall strip. Add a pullout cutting board to a base cabinet. Buy upper cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling. Hang a semi-circular pot rack on the wall. Install shelves in half a closet to use as a pantry. You can save space in a bathroom by eschewing a tub in favor of a stall shower. A pedestal sink is a good choice for a small space, but pair it with a mirrored medicine cabinet so you have more storage as well as a grooming area. A European belly bowl vanity is a popular alternative to a pedestal, giving you some storage underneath for toilet tissue and essentials. You can add robe hooks to the back of the door and install a hotel towel shelf above the commode where towels are out of the way but easily accessible. When it comes to closets, there are tons of alternatives to store what you have. Take the measurements to a designer at The Container Store for an Elfa shelf system or design your own at EasyClosets.com. If you have the luxury of a larger closet but are a little light on funds, you can save space in the main room simply by putting your dresser in the closet itself. Try raising it and attaching it to the studs, leaving room below for your shoe collection.
A Murphy bed like this one from Wayfair is a terriﬁc space saver in a tight condo.
As we move into the main room, I recommend getting a copy of Christopher Lowell’s “You Can Do It! Small Spaces: Decorating to Make Every Inch Count,” which you can pick up online for as little as $3 used (or you can borrow my copy). It’s critical that each piece of furniture serve a dual purpose. For example, your sofa can pull out to double as a bed. Your Murphy bed can include side closets or bookshelves. Your dresser or credenza can double as a TV stand. Choose end tables and coffee tables with drawers or hidden storage. Drop leaf tables can open or expand for a dinner party and ottomans or poufs can serve as chairs. There are also desks that mount on a wall; they fold down to reveal cubbies, shelves, and a writing surface and fold up out of the way when not in use. Ikea’s KALLAX shelf system can be conﬁgured to serve as a low-cost room divider. Barn doors, roll-up shades and curtains hung on ceiling tracks are great for enclosing or hiding things like your unmade bed or your dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Finally, check out vurni.com, a blog that features chic, modern, dual purpose furnishings to go with your low maintenance lifestyle, with links to where those items can be purchased. Your personal space, no matter how small, will never feel cluttered again.
Valerie M. Blake
is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia and Director of Education & Mentorship at RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs. 2 8 • WAS H I NGTO NBLA DE.COM • AUGUST 07, 2020
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