Washingtonblade.com, Volume 51, Issue 38, September 18, 2020

Page 1

The show must go on

(Blade photo by Michael Key)

Solomon l Parker k III in Signature Theatreí h s ffall ll concert among seasoní s highlights, Page 20


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Washington Blade sues Trump administration

The Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest LGBTQ newspaper, today announced it has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its refusal to turn over emails related to a rule change allowing federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ workers. The Blade filed a FOIA request for emails within the Department of Labor related to the Trump administration’s proposed rule change allowing a religious exemption in employment non-discrimination requirements for federal contractors. The request sought to shed light on the motivation behind the proposal and whether it was to enable anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the name of religious freedom. The Department has so far ignored the FOIA request, forcing today’s action after more than a year of waiting. “We’re committed to our mission of holding the Trump administration accountable for its actions affecting LGBTQ people and marginalized communities,” said Chris Johnson, Washington Blade White House reporter. “Our readers deserve to know the motivation for the Department of Labor’s proposal to undercut President Obama’s

2014 executive order, which brought long-sought protections for LGBTQ people working for federal contractors.” The suit was filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which is representing the Blade in the case. “We are glad to be representing the Washington Blade as it seeks access to records that could shed light on whether government officials took steps to undermine regulations intended to protect LGBTQ individuals from employment discrimination. Federal FOIA can only promote greater transparency and accountability if agencies comply with their statutory obligations to release information, which we fully expect the Department of Labor to do in this case.” “This is another example of the Trump administration obfuscating and shirking its responsibilities to transparency,” said Blade editor Kevin Naff. “Thank you to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press for joining us in this effort to hold the administration accountable and to get answers to these important questions.” STAFF REPORTS

D.C. Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend 2021 cancelled due to COVID

The annual Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend scheduled for January 2021, which draws well over 1,000 LGBTQ leather enthusiasts and their supporters to the nation’s capital, has been cancelled due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a letter posted on the event’s website. Todd White, president of the Centaur Motorcycle Club, which organizes Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, said in the posted letter that the cancellation decision was made at the organization’s Sept. 13 meeting. “It is with a heavy heart that I am writing this letter,” White wrote. “Following a long discussion and a lot of consideration the membership voted to cancel MAL 2021. This was not an easy decision, but with current trends and local regulations there wasn’t a way to hold the event in a safe and responsible manner,” he said. White added that D.C.’s Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill, which has served for many years as the host hotel for the event, will automatically cancel room reservations and refund any deposits already made for the event. He said those who made reservations in other hotels will have to contact the hotels directly to cancel their reservations. He said for those who purchased a “full run package” to attend the various MAL Weekend events that payment will also be automatically refunded to the purchaser’s account. “We have already started planning MAL 2022 and look forward to welcoming you back to the Mid-Atlantic for an amazing weekend,” White wrote in his letter. “Stay safe and look out for one another. Until once again we can gather together, reminisce with old friends,

A scene from MAL Weekend last year. The 2021 event has been cancelled. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

and create memories with new ones.” The announcement of the cancellation of the 2121 Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend comes shortly after the DC Eagle, the District’s only LGBTQ leather-Levi bar, which had been in business for 30 years, closed its doors permanently due to COVID restrictions and other financial problems it had been facing. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Dupont ANC calls on Council to approve bill banning ‘panic defense’ The Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted unanimously on Sept. 9 to approve a resolution urging the D.C. Council to pass legislation banning the use of the so-called gay and transgender panic defense in criminal trials in the District. One of two bills pending before the Council calling for banning the defense, the Tony Hunter and Bella Evangelista Panic Defense Prohibition Act, has been stalled in the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety since it was first introduced by Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large) in 2017. Grosso named the bill after D.C. transgender woman Bella Evangelista, who was murdered by a man who invoked the panic defense, claiming he lashed out against Evangelista when he learned she was trans after the two had a sexual encounter. Grosso said his bill was also dedicated to a gay man named Tony Hunter, who died at the hands of a man who punched him in the face as Hunter was walking to a gay bar in D.C., knocking him to the ground and causing him to suffer a fatal head injury. The man charged in the case invoked the gay panic defense and was allowed to plead guilty by prosecutors to a charge of simple assault. The second bill, introduced by Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Panic Defense Prohibition Act, has been stalled in the same committee since Mendelson introduced it in 2019. 0 6 • WA S HI NGTONBLAD E.COM • SEPTEM B ER 1 8, 2 02 0 • LO CA L NEW S

Unlike Mendelson’s bill and anti-panic bills passed by other states, Grosso’s bill would expand the categories of crime victims for which the panic defense would be banned from sexual orientation and gender identity to include race, color, religion, national origin, gender, and disability. “Since 2019, New Jersey, Washington, Maine, and Colorado have banned the gay panic defense,” Dupont Circle ANC 2B states in its resolution sent to the Council. “Yet D.C. has the largest LGBTQ population per capita and is falling woefully behind other jurisdictions in protecting this population,” the resolution says. “ANC 2B once again calls on D.C. Council to move with urgency to pass the Tony Hunter and Bella Evangelista Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2019 or other comparable pending legislation banning the use of ‘gay panic’ or ‘trans panic’ defense in D.C. courts, and to do so now, rather than wait to do it in response to another attack or another death,” the resolution concludes. Gay ANC 2B Commissioner Mike Silverstein said D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), who represents the Dupont Circle area, responded to the ANC resolution, saying, “I have just confirmed with the Judiciary Committee that both bills will be moved this fall.” Silverstein said Pinto added in a message to the ANC, “I will continue to ensure these necessary pieces of legislation are moved and hopefully passed before the end of the year.” LOU CHIBBARO JR.

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LGBTQ, BLM activists protest alleged police brutality in P.G. County A group of LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter activists gathered outside of the Prince George’s County Police Department’s District Seven station in Fort Washington on Saturday to demand the removal of an officer who allegedly pushed an LGBTQ organizer at another event last week. Cassy Morris, director and co-founder of the LGBTQ Dignity Project, said she was attending a rally at 1701 Ritchie Station Ct. in Capitol Heights on Sept. 7 when Lt. Victor Dobro approached her. According to Morris, he asked her if she was an organizer for the protest and then insisted that he wanted to make sure the gathering would be peaceful. Morris said she felt Dobro racially profiled her and approached her with unnecessary aggression. She told him that she did not appreciate his tone and that she was going to take a photo of him to record his badge number. That is when Dobro allegedly walked up to her and shoved her. “I was frightened. I was shocked. I was angry,” Morris told the Washington Blade. “I threw away my phone and wallet because I didn’t want them to say they saw me with something in my hand and thought it was a gun. Honestly in my head, I thought I was going to die.” CASSY MORRIS protests outside a Prince George’s County Police Department’s District Seven station in Fort Washington, Md., on Sept. 12. (Washington Blade photo by Steph Purifoy)

Morris told the Blade she met with officers with the department’s Internal Affairs Division on Sept. 11. Morris also provided the Blade with her case number and said a detective is investigating the alleged incident. A spokesperson for the Prince George’s County Police Department confirmed the department is aware of Morris’ allegations and has opened an internal investigation into the incident. The spokesperson declined to provide any further details, calling the matter “confidential.” The spokesperson on Monday told the Blade “with regards to Lt. Dobro, due to Maryland Personnel Law we are unable to provide you reports that are part of an Internal Affairs investigation.” The protesters gathered outside the police station on Saturday and then moved to the corner of Indian Head Highway where they chanted and gave speeches. Krystal Oriadha, Morris’ wife, said they were demanding Dobro’s removal before he hurts someone else. “When you see all these early warning signs of behavior, that’s when you need to fire someone. You shouldn’t wait until an officer kills or seriously injures someone,” she said. “They need to weed out the bad officers early, and that’s how they’re going to save people’s lives.” The LGBTQ Dignity Project is a nonprofit advocacy group formed by Morris and her wife Oriadha to advocate and provide support for the LGBTQ community in Prince George’s County. Ruby Corado, founder and executive director of Casa Ruby in D.C., spoke at the protest about the oppression that LGBTQ people of color in Prince George’s County still face. “There are dozens of trans women who are bullied or are abused by the PG County Police Department with zero accountability,” she said during her speech, directing her words to the several officers standing to the side of the protesters. “As we stand here, we’re not just here for ourselves. We’re here to send a message to the police department that enough is enough. [LGBTQ] people must have equality in this county.” Morris said the Sept. 10 incident is indicative of a bigger problem with the Prince George’s County Police Department. She said she knows many people of color, including those in the LGBTQ community, who will not call the police in moments of crisis because they are scared of how officers might treat them. “Even though I wasn’t killed or injured, what happened to me on Monday [Sept. 10] proves that there are police officers that will actually harm you if you just ask them a simple question,” she said. STEPH PURIFOY 0 8 • WA S HI NGTONBLAD E.COM • SEPTEM B ER 1 8, 2 02 0 • LO CA L NEW S

McBride wins primary, likely to be first out trans state senator

Sarah McBride, who in 2016 was the first openly transgender person to address the Democratic National Convention, made history again with a primary victory Tuesday night, setting her up for her likely win as the highest-ranking openly transgender legislator in the United States. “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude tonight,” McBride said in a statement. “This victory would be impossible without the incredible work of hundreds of grassroots volunteers. It proves that Delaware can show America what is possible when neighbors come together.” The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which had endorsed McBride, declared victory for her in Delaware’s First Senate District shortly after polls closed at 9 p.m. At the time her win was declared, McBride secured 93.3 percent of absentee and mail votes in the primary against Joseph McCole. Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement McBride’s win “shatters another lavender ceiling in our movement to build LGBTQ political power and her victory will inspire more transgender people to run for elected office.” “At a time when the Trump administration, cynical politicians and too many state legislatures are attempting to use trans people as political weapons, Sarah’s win is a powerful reminder that voters are increasingly rejecting the politics of bigotry in favor of candidates who stand for equality,” Parker said. McBride, who has worked as press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, is expected to easily win the general election in the Democratic district, which includes parts of Wilmington. In addition to being the highest-ranking ranking openly transgender legislator in the country, McBride is on her way to becoming the first openly transgender elected official in Delaware. Currently, there are four openly transgender legislators: Virginia State Del. Danica Roem (D-Va.), the first out trans person to win and serve in a state legislature, as well as Colorado State Rep. Brianna Titone and New Hampshire State Reps. Lisa Bunker and Gerri Cannon. “Three years ago there were zero out trans state legislators anywhere in the country, but each win reinvigorates a virtuous cycle that familiarizes voters with trans people and encourages more trans people to run,” Parker concluded. “We are optimistic we can double the number of trans state legislators in 2020 – from four to at least eight – and their impact will be felt well-beyond the boundaries of their districts.” CHRIS JOHNSON

SARAH MCBRIDE would make history if elected as the nation’s first openly transgender state senator. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

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How Trump admin is flouting Bostock to allow anti-trans discrimination Limitations based on sex-segregated spaces By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

Constitution does not require Idaho to provide Faced with having to enforce the law to the special treatment Plaintiffs request, under prohibit anti-transgender discrimination in the which biological males are allowed to compete aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark against biological females if and only if the decision for LGBTQ rights this summer, the biological males are transgender.” Trump administration has sought to minimize the (That line of reasoning was ultimately breadth of the ruling in ways that could still lead unconvincing to U.S. District Judge David Nye, to transgender people being denied access to who was adjudicating the case, Hecox v. Little. public spaces and activities. Nye, a Trump appointee, issued a preliminary Although the Supreme Court decision in injunction barring Idaho from enforcing the Bostock v. Clayton County, which found antilaw on the basis it violates the Equal Protection transgender discrimination is a form of sex Clause.) discrimination, thus illegal in the workplace under The Trump administration’s position can Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, would in also be found in the recent rule proposed in theory apply to all statutes and laws against sex July by the Department of Housing & Urban discrimination — the Trump administration is Development allowing sex-segregated promulgating rules allowing anti-transgender homeless shelters to refuse to place transgender discrimination to persist with respect to sexpeople consistent with their gender identity. segregated facilities, such as homeless shelters President DONALD TRUMP’S administration is limiting the Bostock ruling with Homeless shelters aren’t allowed to turn away and school sports. respect to sex segregated spaces. (Screen capture via ABC7 WJLA Facebook livestream) transgender people entirely, but are allowed to It boils down to this legal theory: Denying house them consistent with gender assigned at birth, not gender identity. transgender people access consistently to sex-segregated spaces with their gender “For example, under the proposed rule, if a single-sex facility permissibly provides identity is not tantamount to discrimination, so long as they’re so afforded entry according accommodation for women, and its policy is to serve only biological women, without to their gender assigned at birth. Forcing transgender people into these spaces regard to gender identity, it may decline to accommodate a person who identifies as inconsistent with their gender identity, however, would be something few would be female but who is a biological male,” the proposed rule says. “Conversely, the same willing to accept, and may make them more vulnerable to harassment and violence. shelter may not, on the basis of sex, decline to accommodate a person who identifies as Jon Davidson, chief counsel for the LGBTQ group Freedom for All Americans, said the male but who is a biological female.” conclusion that the Trump administration is limiting the Bostock ruling with respect to Although the Trump administration argues this approach is consistent with the Bostock transgender people’s access to sex-segregated spaces “accurately” assesses the situation. ruling, transgender legal advocates say that’s not the case and falls short of operating “The administration is arguing that, while bans on sex discrimination encompass gender within the scope of the Bostock decision. identity discrimination, they do not, in the administration’s view, require that transgender Davidson said refusing transgender people access to sex-segregated spaces is “legally individuals be treated as the sex with which they identify,” Davidson said. flawed” because the Supreme Court has ruled discrimination based on transgender status Most recently, the Trump administration’s position can be found in the Department of is a form of sex discrimination Education’s updated letter to schools in Connecticut, which has become ground zero “Refusing to allow transgender women and girls to participate in sports that they could in transgender kids participating in school sports after an incident in which students participate in if they were not transgender discriminates based on transgender status by complained when they were beaten in track and field by transgender athletes. The Alliance treating those who are transgender worse than those who are not,” Davidson said. “The Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ legal group, filed a complaint with the Department of same is true of refusing to allow transgender individuals to access shelters that they would Education’s Office of Civil Rights on their behalf. have been able to obtain emergency housing in if they were not transgender.” Although discrimination on the basis of sex discrimination in schools is prohibited Arguably, the Trump administration can say it’s following the legal framework under under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the department opined in a pair Bostock — which found transgender people can’t be fired from a job because they’re of letters dated Aug. 31 the law doesn’t require schools to allow transgender kids to transgender, but didn’t specifically address whether an employer must respect a participate consistent with their gender identity, even after the Bostock decision because transgender person’s gender identity — but Davidson said that’s not the case. “the Court expressly declined to decide questions about how its interpretation of Title VII “Indeed, Aimee Stephens — one of the individuals whose case was decided by Bostock would affect other statutes.” — was fired at least in part because she intended to dress in the attire her employer “After reviewing Bostock, the Office for Civil Rights concurs with counsel for the required for female rather than male employees, so it cannot be the case that refusing employee’s concession in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC, that the Bostock to treat transgender women as other women are treated is permissible under Bostock,” holding does not alter the legal authority for sex-segregated teams under Title IX,” says Davidson said. the letter, signed by Kimberly Richey, acting assistant secretary for civil rights. “Even if But this isn’t the only way the Trump administration is enabling anti-transgender Bostock applied to Title IX — a question the Supreme Court expressly declined to address discrimination after Bostock. In some cases, the Trump administration is just outright — its reasoning would only confirm that Title IX does not permit a biologically male student flouting the determination anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. to compete against females on a sex-segregated team or in a sex-segregated league.” One example is the Department of Health & Human Services withdrawing the ObamaTo bolster its position, the Department of Education points to language in Title IX, which era rule interpreting Section 1557 in the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination, says schools can “operate or sponsor separate teams for members of each sex,” so long to prohibit health care providers from refusing treatment to transgender people, including as they allow members of a different sex to try out for that sport if there is no team for their gender reassignment surgery. The reasoning for vacating it was the belief the ban on sex gender and the activity isn’t a contact sport. discrimination didn’t apply to transgender people, which the Bostock decision expressly The Department of Education letter in the Connecticut case echoes a statement of prohibited. interest the Justice Department filed in Idaho, where the Trump administration sided The ongoing transgender military ban is also likely unlawful now that the Supreme with the state in a legal challenge filed by American Civil Liberties Union against a state Court has determined anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. U.S. law barring transgender girls from participating in school sports — a statement President jurisprudence has established policies and laws enabling sex discrimination should be Trump himself amplified by tweeting out a Breitbart article about it. subject to heightened scrutiny, or a greater assumption they’re unconstitutional. “The Equal Protection Clause does not require states to abandon their efforts to The Justice Department didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment provide biological women with equal opportunity to compete for, and enjoy the lifeon the legality of the Trump administration’s implementation of the Bostock decision. long benefits that flow from, participation in school athletics in order to accommodate the team preferences of transgender athletes,” the statement says. “Put differently, the 10 • WA S HI NGTONBLAD E.COM • SEPTEM B ER 1 8, 2 02 0 • N AT IO NA L NEW S

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Andrew Gillum comes out as bi HRC examines LGBTQ hospital policies, impact of COVID ANDREW GILLUM,w hor anf or Floridag overnor,has co meout as bisexual. (Photop ublicd omain)

Andrew Gillum, a Florida Democrat who after a narrow loss in a 2018 gubernatorial run was engulfed in a scandal after being found in a hotel room with drugs and a male sexw orker,has c omeout as bis exual. Gillum made the announcement about his sexual orientation in an interview with journalist TamronH allt hatw ento nlineM onday. “You didn’t ask the question, you put it out there whether I identify as gay. The answer is I don’t identify as gay but I do identify as bisexual,” Gillum said. “And that is something thatI’ ven evers haredp ubliclybe fore.” In March, the Tallahassee Democrat reported Gillum was one of three men, one of whom was suffering from a drug overdose, found by police with “plastic baggies of suspectedcr ystalme th”inah otelr oominM iamiB each,F la.. The person who overdosed has been reported by numerous outlets as a gay male escort. According to police reports, Gillum was found vomiting in the room too inebriatedt os peakw ithof ficersw hileanot hermanw asp assedo ut. At the time, Gillum denied using any drugs and said he had “too much to drink.” Days later, Gillum said he would enter rehab, citing struggles after losing his race to now Florida Gov.R onD eSantis. Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, commended Gillum on Twitterf orcoming out ,s aying“ comingout as bi+ l ooksdi fferentf rome veryp erson.” “No matter the circumstances, all people deserve respect,” David tweeted. “@ AndrewGillum sharing his story will no doubt help others who may be struggling with comingout ont heirow nt erms.” Gillum, who was known for supporting LGBTQ rights before coming out, is married tohis w ifeR. JaiG illumandp reviouslyw asmay orof Tallahassee. David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a statementB lackpe opleint heL GBTQcommunit yw elcomeG illum’san nouncement. “Black members of the LGBTQ+ community across the country watched Andrew Gillum’s interview with Tamron Hall today with empathy and love, as so many of us can relate to the complex issues and feelings he conveyed,” Johns said. “I applaud Gillum’s willingness to be vulnerable about his struggles and journey on national television, and deeply appreciate the raw emotion he conveyed in his conversation with Hall alongside hisw ife,R . Jai.” CHRIS JOHNSON

A greater number of the nation’s hospitals and other healthcare facilities have adopted policies and practices in the past year providing equal treatment and support for LGBTQ patients, visitors, and employees, according to the 13th annual Healthcare EqualityI ndexr eportr eleased Aug.3 1b yt heH umanRig htsC ampaignF oundation. The report says a record 765 hospitals and other health care facilities participated in the annual Healthcare Equality Index survey at a time when they faced unprecedented challenges in caring for patients in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It says 495 of the hospitals and other facilities participating in the survey earned a top score of 100 on theirL GBTQ-relatedp oliciesand practices. In a separate report released on Sept. 4, the HRC Foundation provides national survey research data showing that during most of the nation’s first phase “reopening” period related to the COVID pandemic, LGBTQ people are “still 30 percent more likely thant heg eneralp opulationt ob ee xperiencingh igheru nemploymentr ates.” The report says the data also show that LGBTQ people are 20 percent more likely than the general population to have experienced a reduction in work hours during the reopening period. According to the report, the data, collected in partnership with the D.C.-based market research and polling services company PSB Insights, show that LGBTQ people are 50 percent more likely to have taken a pay cut than the general population. “As some states and municipalities across the country have begun to institute policies for reopening their economies, significant attention must be paid to communities who are most vulnerable and living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identifies,” the report says. “New data and analysis from PSB and HRC now show that LGBTQ people are being left behind even as some businesses and public spaces across the country try tor eopen,”t her eports tates. The report, entitled COVID-19 Continues to Adversely Impact LGBTQ People, providest hesead ditionalfi ndings: • The LGBTQ population was 20 percent more likely than the general population to have experienced a reduction in work hours since some states initiated reopening policies. •!LGBTQ people of color are 150 percent more likely to have taken a pay cut than the generalp opulations inces omes tatesb eganr eopeningp olicies. • LGBTQ people of color are 44 percent more likely and transgender people are 125 percent more likely than the general population to have had a reduction in work hours sinces tatesinit iatedr eopeningp olicies. • HRC and PSB data show that 73 percent of the general population and 78 percent of the LGBTQ population preferred containing the virus over reopening the economy beforet hes tatesinit iatedp oliciest or eopen. As parts of the economy reopened, 69 percent of the general population preferred containing the virus over reopening the economy and 80 percent of LGBTQ people preferredco ntainingt hev irus. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Facebook to fact-check ads stoking anti-trans fears

The tech giant Facebook has slapped a fact-check protocol on an anti-transgender ad run by the American Principles Project that seeks to stoke fears that transgender athletesw ould“ destroyg irls’s ports.” David Kearns, a Facebook spokesperson, confirmed to the Blade via email the tech company had placed a fact check on the ads, citing determinations from Politifact and itst hird-partyche ckingp rogram. “Our third-party fact checkers have rated this content which means it is not allowed tor una sanadandany or ganicp ostsw illr eceiveal abel,”K earnsad ded. According to Facebook’s ad library, the American Principles Project spent between $2,000 and $2,500 to run the ad, which was shown entirely in Michigan to criticize Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) for co-sponsoring the Equality Act and Joe Biden for supporting thele gislation. Theadh asr eceived6 0,000t o7 0,000imp ressions. “All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition, at a scholarship, at a title, at victory,” the ad claims. “But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy? Sen. Gary Peters and Joe Biden support legislation that wouldd estroyg irls’s ports.“ CHRIS JOHNSON


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Coons blasts report Philippines leader pardoned Marine for COVID vaccine

Duterte’s surprise pardon of Pemberton on Sept. REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — U.S. Sen. Chris Coons 7 sparked widespread outrage and condemnation (D-Del.) last week blasted a report that suggests the among Philippine activists. Agence France-Presse on president of the Philippine pardoned a U.S. Marine Thursday reported Duterte spokesperson Harry Roque who was convicted of killing a transgender woman in told reporters during a virtual news conference the exchange for coronavirus vaccines from the U.S. pardon should allow the Philippines to receive doses of “That (Rodrigo) Duterte could pardon a murderer who coronavirus vaccines produced in the U.S. killed someone who deserves to be alive today and that “As we all know our president has emphasized the that could possibly be seen as a trade off for a vaccine to need for a vaccine,” said Roque, according to Agence save lives from the latest pandemic strikes me as a new France-Presse.\ low, even for this administration,” said Coons, referring to “The grant of a pardon to Pemberton is in line with our President Trump. president’s desire that the Philippines should also benefit Coons made the comment in response to a when Americans do develop a vaccine,” he added. Washington Blade question during a fundraiser for the The State Department has yet to publicly comment on Blade Foundation that took place at the Blue Moon in the pardon. Rehoboth Beach. U.S. Sen. CHRIS COONS (D-Del.) (Blade photo by Michael Key) Pemberton on Sunday left the Philippines on a U.S. Philippine prosecutors contend Lance Cpl. Joseph military cargo plane. The New York Times reported the U.S. Embassy in Manila in a statement Pemberton in October 2014 murdered Jennifer Laude in a motel in Olongapo City on the said Pemberton “fulfilled his sentence as ordered by Philippine courts and he departed the Philippines’ main island of Luzon after he discovered she was trans. The murder took place Philippines on Sept. 13.“ after Pemberton met Laude at a local nightclub while his ship was docked at the Subic Bay “All legal proceedings in the case took place under Philippine jurisdiction and law,” said Freeport. the embassy. A court in 2015 sentenced Pemberton to 6-12 years in prison, but he received credit for Philippine officials said Pemberton is barred from returning to the country. the time he spent in custody before his trial. A judge the following year reduced Pemberton’s MICHAEL K. LAVERS sentence.

Lesbian from Cuba granted asylum in U.S. An immigration judge on Monday granted asylum to a lesbian from Cuba who has been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for 10 months. Judge Pedro J. Espina, who is based in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, via videoconference granted asylum to Yanelkys Moreno Agramonte, 36, based on the harassment and discrimination she suffered in Cuba because of her sexual orientation. Espina said Moreno would face future persecution if she were to return to her country. Moreno, in an article the Blade published on June 18, said her family and neighbors never accepted her. Moreno also said Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police in Zulueta, a small town in the center of the country where she lived with her girlfriend, Dayana Rodríguez González, 31, subjected her to homophobic treatment. The context of rights for the LGBTQ community on the island is extremely limited, because same-sex couples cannot legally marry and they do not have the right to adoption. Cuba’s Labor Code does not protect transgender people and only those who undergo sex-reassignment surgery can change their gender and photo on their identity document, a process that can take several months. Rodríguez and Moreno entered the U.S. together on Nov. 3, 2019, through a port of

entry in El Paso, Texas, but were separated as soon as they began the asylum process. Rodriguez was released from the El Paso Service Processing Center on Feb. 4, 2020, on parole and a $7,500 bond. Moreno was transferred to the South Louisiana ICE Processing Center in Basile, La., where she remained until her final immigration hearing. Rodríguez, who now lives in Arizona, in a message she sent to the Blade said she was very happy when Moreno called her and told her she had won her case. “I felt a lot of emotion in my heart,” Rodríguez declared. “I couldn’t help it. I still can’t stop crying. We will be together again soon.” Liza Doubossarskaia, a legal assistant for Immigration Equality, which assisted Moreno with her parole petitions, welcomed the decision with joy. “We are all extremely happy for Yanelkys and Dayana,” said Doubossarskaia. “It has been a difficult journey for her, but fortunately it has a happy conclusion.” Moreno won asylum without legal representation and she will be released soon, according to Rodríguez. who added her girlfriend will first move to Houston and then meet her again after 10 months of forced separation. YARIEL VALDES GONZALEZ

Bachelet highlights rights abuses in U.N. speech U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday highlighted LGBTQ rights abuses in Poland and Honduras during her speech at the opening of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s latest session in Geneva. Bachelet expressed concern “about the continuing repression of LGBTI people and activists (in Poland), including restrictions on their freedom of assembly, and the government’s support for towns that have termed themselves — using unacceptable language — ‘LGBTI-free zones.’” A magazine that supports Polish President Andrzej Duda’s government last summer distributed “LGBT-free zone” stickers. Duda in June said LGBTQ “ideology” is more harmful than communism. Justyna Nakielska of Kampania Przeciw Homofobii, a Polish LGBTQ advocacy group, told the Washington Blade earlier this year that

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)


Duda’s Law and Justice party ahead of last October’s parliamentary elections described LGBTQ Poles as “a threat to the family” and said they “want to sexualize children.” Duda won re-election in July. “The scapegoating and targeting of a minority group, for political purposes, feeds intolerance and discrimination, damaging all of society,” said Bachelet. Bachelet also noted “attacks on and violent deaths of LGBTI persons continue to increase” in Honduras. She said the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras has “documented” the murders of seven transgender women in the Central American country since President Juan Orlando Hernández’s government declared a state of emergency in March because of the coronavirus. Bachelet noted three of these killings took place in July. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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isal ongtimeL GBTQr ightsand DemocraticP artyact ivist.H ew rites regularlyf ort heB lade.


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Liar, racist, sexist, homophobe, and president Trump has eroded the world’s trust in our democracy

What is wrong with this headline? What does it say about our country when with absolute certainty there is proof of who Trump is in his own words? It often appears he is proud of being a liar, racist, sexist, and homophobe. He believes it strengthens him withhis bas eor ,as I cal lit ,h iscul t.] Just as important is what this says to the world about the United States when this insufferable psychotic moron up for reelection will certainly get at least 40 percent of the vote. People across the globe see Americans fl ocking to his rallies, cheering him and looking at him adoringly like Vice President Pence looks at him. The Cult of Trump lionizes him without regard for the state of the nation or even the state of their own lives. I watched some of his rallies and think of cult leader Jim Jones. He conspired to direct a mass murder-suicide of himself and his followers in his jungle commune at Jonestown,!Guyana. You have to believe if Trump were to ask some of his followers to take theirow nl ivesins upportof h iscamp aignmany ap pearw illingt od oit f orh im. The United States is a country in which nearly 30 million people are out of work. A country that has lost 200,000 people to a virus the president called a hoax and still says will miraculously disappear. Today we know from a conversation Bob Woodward taped with him that as early as January, Trump knew how serious this virus was and outright liedt ot he Americanp eopleabout it .H edidnot hingt hent ot ryt ok eepit f romg etting to the stage it has today. Nothing! Through his inaction and lying he has turned the United States into a pariah to much of the world. Today Americans are banned from traveling in much of the world. Yet over 40 percent of the people say they will still vote forhim. The attendees at his rallies appear to be overwhelmingly white and working class without college education. Now don’t get me wrong there are many successful people with only a high school education and I believe not everyone has to go to college. But these attendees, Trump’s cult members, clearly don’t understand science or even want to. They would rather believe every word that comes out of the mouth of their cult leader and repeated to them on Fox News and a number of right-wing news outlets such as Rush Limbaugh’s show. They don’t think twice even after hearing the words come out of his own mouth prove their cult leader is a liar. They won’t believe what Trump’so wnf amily,h isnie ceandol ders ister,s ayabout h im. As we move closer to the election the rest of the world is watching us and either feeling sad for us or laughing at us. We were once a great power they could rely on and today Trump has turned us into a second-rate government and is a toady of Vladimir Putin who seems to hold something over Trump’s head. Recently Trump offered to help Putin with the fires in Siberia. ìP resident Putin expressed his sincere gratitude for such an attentive attitude and for the offer of help and support.î This when Trump told the governor of California and the citizens in the West who are fighting the worst forest fires int heir h istoryt hatt heys houldh aver akedt heirl eaves. The results of a recent 2020 poll of 11,000 respondents ì across nine European countries, commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), showed that in! almost every country surveyed, there was an increasingly negative perception of the U.S.î The poll found ìI n a frightening world, one looks around for friends. But Europeans are uncertain who they can rely on. Ö Now, Europeans’ trust in Trump’s America!isg one.î The world is waiting to see if American voters reject Trump on Nov. 3. Those of us who care about our country and who have any sense of decency and care about our planets ureh opet heyw ill.


(Photo courtesy of the United States Air Force)

Tribute to my American heroes

Trump’s comments on military are inexcusable LOS ANGELES – As a journalist I have been present at Dover AFB Delaware oft times in the middle of the night as the massive C-17 Cargo Jets bearing their precious cargo of the bodies of American soldiers, airmen and women, sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardme mbersk illedin s ervicet ot heirco untrya rrive. Unwittingly, I have undoubtedly been present for the scenario as described by Charlotte Clymer, trans activist, writer, and U.S. Army veteran in the following thread belowt hatI ur gey out op leaser ead. The most important duty of a president of the United States is in the role of commander-in-chief. Trump has failed miserably sinking to the depths of abject depravity to denigrate those young men and women who wear or have worn the uniform(s) of the United States military services. Trump’s remarks as initially reported on by my journalistic colleague Jeffery Goldberg at The Atlantic magazine this week on Thursday and since verified unexpectedly by, of all media organizations, Fox News, are beyondine xcusable. Although I’m now living in California, I’ve spent countless hours while living and working in Washington, D.C. strolling the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, and Ia ttendedne arlye veryM emorialD ayce remonya sw ello vert hoset wod ecades. I have spent time with the families of those killed in service in the recent wars in the Middle East buried in Section 60 and on Sept. 11, 2001, I was present in the Pentagon and witnessed yet again the heroism and humanity of those who are members of the military. There is no defense of this slimy behavior period. Any person who can still support this man is not a decent human being, period. They are simply a boil on the rectum of humanityand s houldb et reated ass uch. For every Gold Star parent who has lost their child, for every Blue Star family, for every veteran, active duty, reservist, and Guard member, know this: This proud Canadian has benefited personally from the service of your loved ones, and thanks you deeply for yours erviceand t het rutho fw hatit m eanst ob ea n Americanh ero. Donald Trump and his offspring are dishonorable rubbish and have no humanity. They are the poster children for evil at its core and as such, need to be treated with contempt. Here’st hel inkt oC harlotte’st hreada nda gainI u rgey out or eadit p lease: https://twitter.com/cmclymer/status/1302220377523998720?s

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SOLOMON PARKER III will sing Earth, Wind & Fire’s classic ‘September’ accompanied by Mark G. Meadows at Signature’s fall concert. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. theater scene adapts with films, concerts, and more Despite COVID, plenty of entertaining stage options for fall By PATRICK FOLLIARD

Taking cues from Anthony Fauci’s recent suggestion to hunker down and stay at home this fall, most theaters have cancelled live performances and will continue to engage audiences in virtual, innovative ways. Still, a handful of venues and companies plan to reopen sooner. Here’s a smattering of what’s in store. Arena Stage has already kicked off its fall season with the release of its third world premiere film, “The 51st State.” “The hyper local 60-minute film created by Washington, D.C. artists through the voices of 11 residents was inspired by protests and the re-ignition of a movement after the murder of George Floyd and the quest for creating the 51st state and sovereignty in Washington, D.C. From a first-time protester to a fourth-generation Washingtonian political scientist, to artists, an attorney, people of faith, and a retired couple who moved to take part in the movement despite the COVID-19 risks, these diverse perspectives and real-life stories are vividly told and transformed into affecting narratives by 10 local playwrights.” Featured playwrights in the docudrama include, among others, Helen Hayes Award winner Dane Figueroa Edidi, Farah Lawal Harris, Teshonne Nicole Powell, and Karen Zacarías. Filmed in different locations around D.C., the story of each citizen is portrayed by 11 terrific familiar faces, including Sherri L. Edelen, talented out actor Justin Weaks, and Jacob Yeh. Directing duties are split among Arena’s formidable out artistic director Molly Smith, deputy artistic director Seema Sueko, and senior artistic adviser Anita Maynard-Losh, along with local directors Paige Hernandez and director Psalmayene 24. “The 51st State” can be streamed on WTOP.com and arenastage.org/The51stState. Arenastage.org This week, Folger Theatre is premiering its virtual project “Encores,” an initiative to help provide more online content for the community while most arts institutions remain closed during the pandemic. “Encores” is a weekly online series highlighting past performances from the historic Folger stage, recalling the rich history of public programming at the Folger. Excerpts from Folger Theatre, the Folger Consort early music ensemble, O.B. Hardison Poetry Series and more will be featured. The series will go out via email each Friday through this calendar year and can also be found on the Folger website at www.folger.edu/encores-1. On Sept. 25, theatreWashington presents the Helen Hayes Awards with a virtual celebration for theater professionals and their fans. In past weeks, recipients from various categories were presented awards during a series of intimate and technically seamless Zoom sessions. The culminating event - to be co-hosted by local favorites Felicia Curry and Naomi Jacobson – will include the presentation of more awards and varied tributes. theatrewashington.org Through Oct. 4, Olney Theatre Center (OTC) is streaming a timely take on gay 2 0 • WA S HI NGTONBLAD E.COM • SEPTEM B ER 1 8, 2 02 0 • A& E

playwright Stephen Karam’s Tony Award-winning play “The Humans,” a one act about a stressed out family unraveling on Thanksgiving Day. With a stellar six-person cast featuring local favorites Kimberly Gilbert, Mitchell Hébert, Sherri L. Edelen, Dani Stoller, Catie Flye, and New York-based actor Jonathan Raviv, the production was filmed from six separate locations during quarantine. Also, throughout October, OTC is celebrating BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists and the tradition of social protest with four streaming installments of “Just Arts”. Each installment highlights a different pillar of social justice: “Accessibility,” “Rights,” “Equity,” and “Participation.” The project is co-curated by Chil Kong, artistic director of Adventure Theatre MTC; Kevin McAllister, actor and artistic director Artistic Director of the Baltimore-based theater company ArtsCentric, Inc; Nicole A. Watson, associate artistic director at Round House Theatre; and Elena Velasco, artistic director of Convergence Theatre. The quartet were invited by Olney Theatre’s out artistic director Jason Loewith to create a program around the theme of performance and social justice, responding to the social upheaval of the past summer and highlighting BIPOC artists during the period leading up to this fall’s general election. In OTC’s press release, Loewith says “The twin pandemics of coronavirus and racism we’re facing give predominantly white cultural institutions like ours an opportunity to revolutionize the way they work.” “For OTC, that means decentering my privileged role as curator and inviting others with a different point of view and background to share in building our theater’s future. We want OTC to matter to everyone in our community, and this is our first public step in making the table bigger.” A finalized schedule and streaming details will be released in late September. OTC isn’t sure what comes beyond that. Thinking optimistically, they’d like to be able to produce Paul Morella’s solo “A Christmas Carol” in December with an audience of 100-150 socially distanced in their 428-seat mainstage. But Montgomery County has not approved guidelines that would allow that although the state of Maryland has. Olneytheatre.org. Round House Theatre’s virtual season begins with “American Dreams” (Oct. 5-11), created by writer Leila Buck (“Love Letter to Lebanon”) and director Tamilla Woodard (“Hadestown” on Broadway). It’s “a participatory performance that imagines a world where the only way to gain U.S. citizenship is by competing in a televised game show. The playful, interactive production uses voting, polling, Q&As, and more to allow audience members each night to directly affect the outcome of the show.” Roundhousetheatre.org Esteemed physical company Synectic Theater is celebrating its 20th anniversary season with “Joy” (Oct. 12-Nov. 1) a live, designed-for-digital theatrical production conceived by Chris Rushing and starring Maria Simpkins (directed by Katherine DuBois) and Vato Tsikurishvili (directed by his father Founding Artistic Director Paata Tsikurishvili) in separate, but parallel versions, presented via Zoom. “In this intimate and personal experience, audiences capped at 25 people will receive a

surprise package in the mail inviting them to enjoy interactive solo performances that stimulate the senses and examine the impact of joy in our own lives.” Synetictheater.org Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is entering fall with a virtual audio production. Together, Woolly and Telephonic Literary Union “repurpose the customer service hotline for stranger, more tender use in ‘Human Resources,’ an intimate audio anthology for remote times.” Though the pieces do not have LGBTQ+ specific material, they’re purported to have broad appeal. Telephone lines will be open Oct. 1-25. To file a claim or plan your escape, dial 1-800804-1573. Woollymammoth.net For fall, Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD, is presenting “Monuments: Creative Forces” (Oct. 2–25). It’s “an innovative outdoor projection installation by Craig Walsh, in partnership with Strathmore, pays homage to six individual artists who are forces of nature: individuals whose work and artistic endeavors are changing the shape of our community in fundamental ways.” Strathmore.org. On October 17, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington kicks off its 40th anniversary season with “Losing My Mind: A Celebration of Sondheim,” a virtual cabaret featuring over 20 GMCW soloists celebrating the 90th birthday of one of Broadway’s greatest composers, Stephen Sondheim. Songs include “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “(Not) Getting Married Today,” “Somewhere,” and “Children Will Listen.” Gmcw.org Employing reduced-capacity, social-distanced seating, hand sanitizer, and masks (for patrons, staff, and volunteers), GALA Hispanic Theatre is reopening with Lope de Vega’s “El perro del hortelano (Dog in the Manger)” (Oct. 29-Nov. 22), a classic comedy from Spain’s Golden Age. Galatheatre.org

In early November, Signature Theatre presents its filmed Fall Concert of vinyl hits directed by Signature’s out associate artistic director Matthew Gardiner and featuring a talented group of singers including, among others, Awa Sal Secka, Natascia Diaz, Nova Y. Payton, Maria Rizzo and out actors Jade Jones and Solomon Parker III. “I’ll be filming on Signature’s roof,” explains Parker who’ll be singing Earth, Wind & Fire’s classic “September” accompanied by Mark G. Meadows. Parker, a 26-year-old tenor who lives in Wheaton, Md., studied theater at Montgomery College before going on to be cast in Signature’s productions of“Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and more recently “Grand Hotel.” During quarantine, he’s developed a drag persona, Echinacea Monroe, who performs each Wednesday evening on Instagram Live. “It’s been fun, and a great way to stay creative,” he adds. Sigtheatre.org. Ford’s Theatre is canceling in-person performances of “A Christmas Carol,” which, like past years, was scheduled for November and December. Instead, Ford’s will release a radio version of the play in December with Craig Wallace returning as Scrooge. Fords. org Citing audiences’ health and safety as a top priority, The Kennedy Center is moving most planned programming to spring of 2021 and beyond. kennedy-center.org And Rehoboth Beach’s Clear Space Theatre debuts the Tennessee Williams classic “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Sept. 18. It runs through Oct. 4. Clear Space held a preview for its 2021 season last weekend but attendees were sworn to secrecy until all rights to next year’s productions are secured. Suffice to say it will be a fabulous season of proven hit productions at the beach. Clearspacetheatre.org

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JANELLE MONÁE portrays best-selling author Veronica Henley in ‘Antebellum.’ (Photo by Matt Kennedy)

‘Antebellum’ explores truths of our ugly past Modern black woman finds herself in the old South By BRIAN T. CARNEY

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It seems appropriate that “Antebellum,” the new thriller about the ongoing impact of racial injustice in America, literally started as a nightmare. According to Gerard Bush, who co-wrote and co-directed the movie with his husband Christopher Renz, he dreamed that a desperate woman was trying to reach out across the dimensions for help. Bush says, “it was the most visceral experience I have ever had in a sleep state. When I woke up, I wrote down all of the points in the Notes section on my phone. The next day Christopher and I discussed it and started writing the short story that became the screenplay.” “Antebellum” stars Janelle Monáe as best-selling author Veronica Henley. The powerhouse cast also includes Kiersey Clemons, Jena Malone, Lily Cowles and Gabourey Sidibe. Bush describes Henley as “this incredibly accomplished modern young Black woman: a mother, wife, a pillar of the community, a thought leader and an activist.” Based on the memories of his dream, Bush says “Veronica is plucked from her beautiful life and thrust into the open-air haunted house of the antebellum South where she has to solve the mystery of what is happening to her before it is too late.” Renz says that he and Bush wrote the script in shifts. “We don’t actually come together at the same table until the script is complete. I’m more of a night person so I’ll write from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and then Gerard will look at my pages. He’ll read and edit them and then write his pages in the morning. We go back and forth like that and write the story.” Bush adds, “I need my space to write alone. As writers, we both require absolute solitude. But we have a way of making art together that really works. We have this telepathic shorthand.” He also notes that, “as a directing duo it works very well that we’re a writing duo. We’re able to build the script in our own home by ourselves. We can have these knock-down drag-out creative fights when we disagree. By the time we get to set, we have the same vision and we know exactly what we want.” Renz says that when they are on the set, they are physically together 99.95 percent of the time. The couple met 12 years ago at a rooftop party in Miami. On their fourth date, they wrote a story about aliens together. They started an advertising agency that focused on the luxury fashion world, but after the murder of Trayvon Martin they decided to move into the social justice space. They started working with partners like Amnesty International, Harry Belafonte and Jay Z and ultimately decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue their particular brand of storytelling. “Antebellum” was originally scheduled for an April release, but it was delayed in the wake of the coronavirus. Bush and Renz are both excited to see how the world receives their movie. They say, “our ardent hope is that the film drives an urgent conversation around the need to confront the truth of our past in all of its ugliness so that we can stop being haunted by that past in our present and prevent ourselves from being robbed of our future.” “As artists,” Bush notes, “we have to tell the stories that force people to confront the truth.” “Antebellum” is available on VOD platforms now.

COVID complicates fall film releases

‘Wonder Woman’ pushed back but others forging ahead By BRIAN T. CARNEY

After a summer of delays and postponements, the fall movie release schedule is finally starting to take shape. There will undoubtedly be lots of changes, but as of press time, here’s a glimpse at some of the cinematic delights waiting for LGBTQ audiences. Premiering on virtual cinema platforms on Sept. 23, “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” profiles the legendary gay neurologist and storyteller as he looks back on his decades-long battles with depression, homophobia and a hostile medical profession. Helmed by visionary director Julie Taymor (Broadway’s “The Lion King), “The Glorias” (Sept. 30) is an unconventional biopic of feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Steinem is played by four actresses (including Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander); the supporting cast includes Bette Midler as Bella Abzug and Lorraine Toussaint as Flo Kennedy. On the superhero front, “Wonder Woman 1984” (which features Gal Gadot running through the streets of Washington) was just moved from Oct. 2 to a Christmas Day release and “Black Widow” with Scarlett Johansson opens on Nov. 6. On the horror front, “Candyman” (Oct. 16) is a “spiritual sequel” to the classic 1992 thriller. Director Nia Costa, who co-wrote the script with Win Rosenfeld and Academy Award winner Jordan Peele, returns to the Chicago neighborhood where the terrifying urban legend began. On the super sleuth front, Kenneth Branagh directs and stars as Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile” (Oct. 23). The most highly anticipated LGBTQ releases are both slated to premiere on Nov. 13. In “Monsoon,” Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”) returns to Ho Chi Minh City and starts dating an American clothing designer (Parker Sawyers who played Barack Obama in “Southside With You”). In the period drama “Ammonite” written and directed by Francis Lee (“God’s Own Country”), acclaimed fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) develops an intense bond with Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan). Finally, some brave producers have started to schedule holiday releases. The latest installment in the James Bond franchise, “No Time To Die,” is slated to open in theaters on Nov. 20. Daniel Craig returns as 007; the glittering cast includes Rami Malek, Christoph Waltz, Lashana Lynch, Léa Seydoux, Ana de Armas and the usual team of Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Jeffrey Wright. Helmed by out filmmaker Clea Duvall, the lesbian holiday rom-com “Happiest Season” is scheduled to open on Nov. 25. Abby (Kristen Stewart) plans to propose to girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) at her family’s Christmas dinner, but discovers that Harper hasn’t told her family about their relationship. The terrific cast includes Daniel Levy, Victor Garber, Mary Steenburgen, Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie. “Dune,” Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel, hits theaters on Dec. 18. LGBTQ fan favorite Timothée Chalamet leads an amazing cast that includes Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac, Dave Bautista and Charlotte Rampling. Gal Gadot’s ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ was moved from an October release to Christmas Day.


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‘Ratched’ brings back iconic cinematic villain Paulson, Murphy reunite for chilling Netflix series By BRIAN T. CARNEY

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Are monsters born or made? That’s one of the questions Sarah Paulson and Ryan Murphy are tackling in their latest collaboration, “Ratched.” Paulson is playing Nurse Mildred Ratched, one of the most iconic villains in movie history. Louise Fletcher won the Academy Award in 1976 for her chilling work as the sadistic nurse; in a poll by the American Film Institute, Ratched was ranked as the fifth-greatest villain in cinematic history. In preparing to play the twisted character, Paulson studied the novel and the film in detail and even borrowed some gestures from the movie. Ratched’s famous keychain is a link between Fletcher and Paulson. To create a credible (and terrifying) backstory for the sadistic nurse Paulson, Murphy and their talented colleagues also drew on a variety of other sources: the Technicolor melodramas of filmmaker Douglas Sirk; the brutal conditions faced by nurses in front-line field hospitals in World War II; the barbaric history of psychiatric medicine and the forced institutionalization of homosexuals; and, the daily toll of living in a sexist environment. As the series opens, Nurse Ratched is trying to land a job at California’s Lucia State Hospital. The head nurse, Betsy Bucket (Judy Davis), objects to hiring her, but Ratched quickly blackmails Dr. Richard Hanover (Jon Briones) into offering her a position. Ratched is soon at the center of several intrigues: the imprisonment of serial killer Edmund Tolleson (Finn Wittrock); the reelection campaign of the callous California governor (Vincent D’Onofrio) and the schemes of his clever press secretary (Cynthia Nixon); the arrival of a new patient with multiple personalities (Sophie Okenedo); the investigations of an inquisitive hotel clerk (Amanda Plummer) and a mysterious private gumshoe (Corey Stoll); and, a wealthy widow with revenge on her mind (Sharon Stone). Paulson found Ratched’s core in an unexpected place. She noted, “she’s a work in progress. She’s had a very traumatic childhood. She has been abandoned at a young age, has lost contact with her brother and the most fundamentally acute quality about her is that she is lonely.” The actress, who also served as executive producer for the series, adds, “It wouldn’t be the worst thing if people were to feel sympathetic to her once they understood what she has endured. Even though what she’s doing is sometimes very self-serving, and sometimes it’s downright menacing, she still has her reasons. I think as an actor your job is simply to be committed to those reasons.” Paulson’s castmate Cynthia Nixon adds, “What we see in Sarah’s performance is somebody who has had horrific things happen to her. Somebody with less strength may not have made it. Her Nurse Ratched is able to take these terrible traumas that happened to her, compartmentalize them and keep moving forward. She can be ruthless, but she can also be shy and fragile. She can be incredibly sexually aggressive, or she can be very frightened when someone just touches her hand. I think that’s what we do if we want to survive.” Paulson also worked closely with the costume team to develop a signature look for Mildred Ratched. Everyone felt strongly that this was a character who didn’t possess a lot and who used clothes as camouflage and a form of armor. Designer Lou Eyrich elaborates, “If Mildred needs to be a quiet mouse, she dresses one way, but if she needs to go in for the kill, she might dress another way.” Season One (Episodes 1-8) of “Ratched” binge-drops on Netflix on Sept. 18; season two (Episode 2 9-18) is expected to run in 2021.

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SARAH PAULSON in ‘Ratched.’

(Photo by Saeed Adyani)

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ANTHONY RAPP as Harry Hay in ‘Equal.’

(Photo courtesy of HBO)

Fall TV season brings handful of queer shows

‘Boys in the Band,’ ‘Equal’ among highlights By BRIAN T. CARNEY

With production of scripted series at a virtual standstill due to COVID-19, fall television schedules are filled with animated series and reality programming. Nonetheless, there are some great queer shows to look forward to. As of press time, here is a guide to some of the LGBTQ programs that are on the calendar. Hulu has marked the start of school season by dropping all four episodes of the acclaimed Australian children series “First Day.” Young transgender actor Evie Macdonald stars as Hannah Bradford who is attending school for the first time as a girl and finding the courage to live as her most authentic self. Starting Sept. 14, HBO will drop eight weekly episodes of the new teen drama “We Are Who We Are.” Co-written and directed by Academy Award nominee Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name”), the show focuses on two American teens whose families are living on a U.S. military base in Italy. Introverted Frazier (Jack Dylan Grazer) and his military moms (Chloë Sevigny and Alice Braga) are the new arrivals at the base; seemingly selfconfident Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamón), whose family has lived abroad for years, is the lynchpin of a free-wheeling group of friends. In 1968, playwright Mart Crowley shocked New York audiences with “The Boys in the Band,” a ground-breaking play that dared to depict the lives of gay men with honesty and humor. The play was a surprise hit and Crowley turned his script into a screenplay that was filmed by William Friedkin (“Cruising” and “The Exorcist”). Fifty years after the film’s premiere, producer Ryan Murphy is bringing “The Boys in the Band” back to the screen in a new adaptation that reunites acclaimed director Joe Mantello and the all-star cast of the Tony Award-winning 2018 Broadway revival. The cast, all of whom are openly gay, includes Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells and Tuc Watkins. The film premieres on Netflix on Oct. 2. Lena Waithe is one of the producers of “The 40-Year-Old-Version” which premieres on Netflix on Oct. 9. Writer/director Radha Blank stars as a down-on-her-luck award-winning playwright who decides to reinvent herself as a rapper. The movie is shot in stunning black and white. To celebrate LGBT History Month, HBO Max is releasing the four-part docuseries “Equal.” The exciting series, which will binge-drop in October, will use both archival footage and dramatic recreations to tell the stories of trail-blazing pioneers in the fight for LGBTQ equality. The amazing cast includes Cheyenne Jackson as Dale Jennings, Anthony Rapp as Harry Hay, Shannon Purser and Heather Matarazzo as Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, Jamie Clayton as Christine Jorgensen, Samira Wiley as Lorraine Hannsberry, Keiynan Lonsdale as Bayard Rustin, Jai Rodriguez as José Sarria and Hailie Sahar as Sylvia Rivera. Stephen Kijak and Kimberley Reed (“Prodigal Son” and “Dark Money”) direct. Finally, on Oct. 21, the Hollywood classic “Rebecca” gets an unnecessary makeover from Netflix. Ben Wheatley (“Free Fire” and “High-Rise”) directs Armie Hammer, Lily James and Kristin Scott Thomas. Purists will want to sit this one out. 26 • WA S HI NGTONBLAD E.COM • SEPTEM B ER 1 8, 2 02 0 • A& E

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Victura Park is named for President John F. Kennedy’s beloved boat.

A pop-up winery to pair with your pops

Victura Park a harmonious match between Kennedy Center, culinary stars By EVAN CAPLAN

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Along the Potomac, a premier performing arts center in Washington, D.C. has paired with some of the premier restaurateurs and culinary stars in the city. It’s a harmonious match. This fall, the Kennedy Center is partnering with industry veterans Ian and Eric Hilton (The Brixton, Player’s Club, El Rey, among others) and Erik Bruner-Yang (ABC Pony, Brothers and Sisters) to host a semi-permanent pop-up wine garden and café, Victura Park, at the center’s new REACH space. After years of planning, months of buildout, and $250 million, Kennedy Center’s interactive, forward-thinking performing arts refresh REACH scuttled its extensive calendar of events when the pandemic restrictions took effect. Like any good conductor, however, the Kennedy Center pivoted gracefully, transforming a portion of the REACH outdoor space into Victura Park. Named for President John F. Kennedy’s beloved boat, Victura, the cafe takes its cues from the rolling, lush landscape of vibrant Virginia vineyards. Ian Hilton says that the café was crafted as a locale “for friends and family to come reconnect in a safe and open air environment where they can go to unwind and destress.” The trio had long planned a restaurant collaboration, and they worked together to produce the food options for the opening of REACH in late 2019. Pre-pandemic, they were set to open a café inside, but as a permanent indoor restaurant no longer became viable, Hilton says that the parties agreed to imagine an environment in plein air to enjoy sips and bites overlooking the elegant Potomac. Like the collaborative, experimental performing arts center itself, Hilton says that “atmosphere is a key component to our menu.” Brendan Padgett, a spokesperson for the Kennedy Center, adds that “what makes Victura Park so special is that Ian, Eric, and Erik created a winery-inspired experience that works seamlessly to compliment Steven Holl’s stunning architecture for the REACH and the surrounding lawns and gardens.” While guests enjoy the sun and atmosphere at picnic tables and refurbished wooden barrels (or on their own blankets and chairs on the manicured lawns), they can purchase from a rotating list of about 10 wines available by the glass ($8-$12) and bottle ($26-38). The warm weather menu brings options like prosecco, chardonnay, and sparkling rose, along with sunny-day cocktails like margaritas, orange smashes, and boozy ice pops ($79). Hilton says that the drinks may change as the temps drop. While the Hilton brothers take care of the wine, Bruner-Yang oversees the food program. Light bites run from cheese and charcuterie boards to elegant smoked salmon rillettes ($4-29). There’s also a “Family Meal” of entrée-sized dishes that vary by week ($20), and feature collaborations from guest chefs. And as the seasons change, the team plans to have themed weekends to match Kennedy Center events; Hilton says that Oktoberfest is on the docket. “For me,” Bruner-Yang says,” it’s “an honor to be part of the Kennedy Center. It’s a living memorial and place of arts. I was a piano player growing up, and participated in recitals at the Kennedy Center, so it’s cool to have it back in my life again.” The Kennedy Center, he notes, is actually also a public park. The café reintroduces the idea that the landscape there belongs to the people. After pandemic-related setbacks, Padgett concludes that “Victura Park is the first step in bringing the REACH back to life. It was designed as a place to break down barriers between artists and audiences and connect communities.”

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MEGAN RAPINOE has a new memoir coming out at the end of the year. (Screenshot via Twitter)

Books galore, from Tom of Finland to Megan Rapinoe

New season offers plenty of LGBTQ-themed reads By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

So many books, so little time. If you’ve been feeling that way during the pandemic (who knew there were SO MANY books published each year?), then hold on to your seat. For readers who are gay, lesbian, bi, queer, or trans, 2020’s not all bad. Check out these fall books you can find....

SEPTEMBER Yes, September has already started, but your fall reading wouldn’t be complete without these great books. To start your next reading pile, Tom of Finland has a new book out in September, as does Chasten Buttigieg, Jonathan Van Ness, and Tony Kushner. This month you’ll find a book on non-binary pronouns and language, and one for queer and gestational mothers. Look for “If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We’ve Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family” by Jaimie Kelton and Robin Hopkins. Go find a new book about being Ace. Read something new about Susan Sontag. Treat yourself to a new novel from this fall or maybe from this summer that you might’ve missed, or check out a new LGBTQ book for the kid in your life.

OCTOBER Your TBR pile isn’t big enough yet, so look for these great October releases: for the history fan, “The Lexington Six: Lesbian and Gay Resistance in 1970s America” by Josephine Donovan; or “Others of My Kind: Transatlantic Transgender Histories” by Alex Bakker, Rainer Herrn, Michael Thomas Taylor, and Annette F. Timm. Miles McKenna has a new book about being your true self releasing in October. Look for “In Their Shoes: Navigating NonBinary Life” by Jamie Windust, as well as a new book for parents of non-binary kids by Andrea Bennett. You’ll find a cookbookslash-biography about James Beard this month. Also look for “Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction,” edited by Joshua Whitehead. There are new novels waiting for you in October, mysteries for cold, dark nights, and romances to put you in the mood. Hey, and don’t act surprised that you’ll find gay ghost stories, too....

NOVEMBER & DECEMBER The season starts to wind down some this month, but there are still new books to be read. Look for lots of Holiday books in November and December. If you’re eyeing an engagement ring this year, look for “What Obergefell v. Hodges Should Have Said: The Nation’s Top Legal Experts Rewrite America’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision” by Jack M. Balkin. Look for a new memoir by Megan Rapinoe this month. Find a colorful book on “The Rainbow Revolution.” Read about anti-Nazi lesbians and their bravery during World War II. Look for your favorite manga books. And for the younger reader, you’ll find “Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!” by Joy Ellison, illustrated by Teshika Silver; it’s a kid-friendly story of Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and LGBTQ history. The housekeeping: remember that titles change, release dates change and stuff happens. If you need more help, ask. That’s why book sellers are paid the Big Bucks (just kidding, so be doubly kind to them). Season’s readings! 3 4 • WA S HI NGTONBLAD E.COM • SEPTEM B ER 1 8, 2 02 0 • A& E

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This year’s SMYAL Fall Brunch won’t look like this as the event moves online due to COVID. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

This year’s Pride Run 5K encourages runners to participate and run wherever they feel safe. (Washington Blade photo by Drew Brown)

D.C. fall calendar filled with virtual events SMYAL Brunch, Helen Hayes Awards, others move online By STEPH PURIFOY

Some upcoming events don’t fit in our regular fall arts categories. And although many events have been cancelled due to COVID, here are a few to mark on your calendar. The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is premiering several new weekly virtual programs through the end of October. “Writing Hour” is every Tuesday at 5 p.m. via Zoom. “Introducing…” is a program to highlight Latinx history makers in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. New episodes can be found every Wednesday at 11 a.m. on the National Portrait Gallery’s Youtube page. “Drawn to Figures” is an online workshop to teach viewers how to sketch the human body. New episodes will be posted to their Youtube page every Thursday at 11 a.m. “Open Studios” is a weekly art workshop with artist Jill Galloway. Every Friday at 11 a.m., new episodes will be posted to the Gallery’s Youtube page. The workshops are geared toward all age groups and skill levels. The Capital Pride Alliance is hosting its first completely virtual Pride Stride, a nationwide event to celebrate National Coming Out Day. To register for the 5k or 10k race go to pridestride.org. The race can be completed any time between Sept. 15 and Oct. 31. The Victory Fund NextGen Network event is on Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is hosting a Virtual Portrait Signs event on Sept. 24, at 5 p.m. A deaf gallery educator will conduct the conversation in ASL. For details and to register, email NPGAccess@si.edu. The Human Rights Campaign’s Unite For Equality event will be held virtually on Sept. 24 starting at 8 p.m. HRC is offering a no-cost ticket option this year to engage with voters before the November elections. The 2020 Helen Hayes Awards will be held virtually on Sept. 25. The event will be hosted by Felicia Curry and Naomi Jacobson and will include additional award announcements for outstanding productions, ensembles, and the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is hosting a Zoom event on Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. titled “Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain: Power, Femininity and Portraiture in the Court of Felipe III”. Led by Ross Karlan, world languages educator at UCLA, the lecture will cover a series of portraits of Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz and Andrés López Polanco. The event is free but registration is required. 3 6 • WA S HI NGTONBLAD E.COM • SEPTEM B ER 1 8, 2 02 0 • A& E

DC Front Runners’ 5k Pride Run is happening virtually from Oct. 1-10. Registration is $30 and participants are encouraged to run anywhere they feel safe. The National Trans Visibility March is holding its virtual Torch Awards on Oct. 2. The Torch Awards recognize achievements and honor individuals whose work has impacted the lives of transgender and gender nonconforming people across the nation. This work includes areas related to activism, practice and policy, journalism, education, as well as programs and service. Capital Pride Alliance is partnering with the National Trans Visibility March to bring the first ever Capital Pridemobile. The Pridemobile will kick off the 2020 National Trans Visibility March on Oct. 3 from 2-4 p.m. Details at www.nationaltransmarch.com In recognition of LGBTQ+ History Month and National Coming Out Day, the Capital Pride Alliance is holding an Out Brigade on Oct. 10 from 2-5 p.m. The brigade is an opportunity for community members to register their cars and drive through the city to show their pride. SMYAL’s Annual Fall Brunch is on Oct. 11 at 12 p.m. The event will be held completely virtually this year. The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club will hold its State Board of Education Forums on Oct. 13 and 15. The Equality Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 2020 Mega Networking event on Oct. 21 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Reel Affirmations is holding its film festival on Oct. 25-27 The screenings will all be online and will showcase international, documentary, short and feature films that center LGBTQ stories.

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By Steph Purifoy

OUT&ABOUT HRC web series for trans job seekers

HRC continues its Transgender Justice Initiative with a web series for job seekers.


Friday Tea Time is a virtual social gathering at 2 p.m. for older LGBTQ adults via Zoom. Participants are encouraged to bring their beverage of choice while socializing with friends. For more information, visit thedccenter.org/events Today is the last day of the Virtual Palestine Advocacy Days, hosted by American Muslims for Palestine. Registration is $10 and participants will be calling their representatives in Congress. The in-person event has been postponed until March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More information can be found at palestineadvocacy.com

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Monday, September 21 LGBT Older Adults and friends are invited to join the DC Center at 10 a.m. for a Center Aging Coffee Drop-In. For more information visit thedccenter.org and Center Aging on social media. The DC Center is hosting its monthly support group for people who identify outside of the gender binary over Zoom at 7 p.m. Meetings are on the fourth Tuesday and third Mondays of each month. More information can be found at thedccenter.org/events

Saturday, September 19

Tuesday, September 22

LGBTQ People of Color Support Group is a virtual gathering at 1 p.m. for people of color to discuss anything impacting them or their lives. This group typically meets on the third Saturday of every month at 1 p.m., but due to COVID-19, they are now meeting every Saturday via Zoom. More information can be found at thedccenter.org/events South Asian LGBTQ Support Group is a virtual event hosted by KhushDC to provide a safe, confidential space for South Asian LGBTQ community members to come together and share experiences. The peer support group is an outlet for South Asian-identified LGBTQ individuals to come and talk about anything affecting them. The group session will begin at 1:30 p.m. More information can be found at thedccenter.org/events Gay District is holding a meeting for gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and inter-sexed men between the ages of 18 and 35 in the D.C. area. The discussion will begin at 8 p.m. via Zoom. For more information go to thedccenter.org/events Online Yoga at the Garden is being hosted by the U.S. Botanical Gardens today at 10:30 a.m. An instructor from WithLoveDC will guide participants through a one-hour meditation and yoga practice via Zoom. There will only be enough room in the Zoom for 100 participants. The sessions are free but registration is required. More information can be found on The U.S Botanic Garden’s Facebook page.

A Virtual dinner and discussion of the first two episodes of the TV show “Pose” on Netflix from 7-9 p.m. A limited number of Uber Eats gift cards will be available to the first eight registrants. Visit thedccenter.org/events for more details.

Sunday, September 20

The DC Center and Beta Kappa Chapter of the Beta Phi Omega Sorority are hosting a peer-led support group devoted to Black lesbians. You do not need to be a member of the Beta Kappa Chapter or the Beta Phi Omega Sorority to join. For more information, go to thedccenter.org/events.

Wednesday, September 23

Virtual Job Club meets today at 6 p.m. via Zoom. This weekly support program helps job seekers improve their self-confidence, resilience and motivation needed for effective job searching and networking. Discussions include strategies, techniques and goal plans needed to find meaningful and satisfying employment. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Thursday, September 24

The Coming Out Discussion Group is holding a peer-led discussion at 7 p.m. It is a safe space to share experiences and discuss topics around coming out. Visit thedccenter.org/events for more information. The next meeting of the DC Anti-Violence Project is at 7 p.m. at the DC Center at 2000 14th Street NW, Suite 105. These are open meetings to discuss lessening violence within and directed toward LGBTQ communities. For more details, visit thedccenter.org/events The Queer Book Club meets today at 7 p.m. via Skype. This meeting, they will be discussing “You Exist Too Much” by Zaina Arafat. To join or to ask any questions, email supportdesk@thedccenter.org.

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As part of HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, the organization is hosting several more installations of “Who’s Hiring Web Series For Trans Job-seekers,” including one on Sept. 23. The conversations will be led by Beck Bailey, director of the Workplace Equality Program at HRC, and Drian Juarez, vice president of programs at Trans Can Work. They will highlight current employment opportunities across the job market and how to apply. They will also provide job preparation resources such as resume prep and building interviewing skills. This series, which began in May, is designed to help employ transgender people, who statistically face a higher rate of unemployment than anyone else is the LGBTQ community due to workplace discrimination.

Black Restaurant Week starting Sept. 18 Black Restaurant Week LLC is holding its annual celebration of African-American, African, and Caribbean cuisine in the Greater Washington D.C. region from Sept. 18-27. During Black Restaurant Week, foodies, culinary influencers, locals and guests will be treated to prefixe brunch, lunch, and dinner menus at restaurants like Matchbox, The Kitchen Jerk, Halfsmoke DC, Hen Quarter, The Rub, Big Buns, and Austin Grill. Participants will be able to vote on their favorite restaurant and the most popular establishment will win a Black Plate Award. Participating guests can also submit photos of their receipts from restaurants in order to enter a raffle to win various prizes. The organization is placing emphasis on helping the Black restaurant industry through the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the pandemic, Black Restaurant Week LLC has also waived all participation fees for restaurants. Black Restaurant Week was founded in 2016 by Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell, and Derek Robinson in Houston. The organization now operates in 11 different cities and works with 270 minority businesses and professionals from around the country.

Yoga for Black Lives Matter Yoga for Black Lives Matter is hosting a session of Sunset Vinyasa Yoga on Sunday to raise funds for various organizations in the Black Lives Matter movement. Proceeds from Sunday’s session will go to the National Black Justice Coalition. This is one of the last sessions in a series that began in early August. Sunday’s event will be held at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture at 1400 Constitution Ave., N.W. Tickets are $25, but attendees can donate as little as $5.50.

D.C. Jazz Festival goes virtual The 16th annual D.C. Jazz Festival will be held virtually from Sept. 24-28. The festival will be held completely virtually this year. The lineup features some of the biggest names in jazz including Grammy-winner Danilo Perez, Marc Cary, and Matthew Whitaker. Audience members will also be able to vote on which musician takes home the 2020 DCJazzPrix grand prize. All five days of events can be streamed for free. More information can be found at dcjazzfest.org

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Snazzy sedans and comfort rides

Sentra, Avalon, and A220 offer bells and whistles galore By JOE PHILLIPS

Meatloaf? Mac and cheese? Mama’s fried chicken? Everyone has a favorite comfort food, especially in times of stress. For me, I prefer comfort cars: tried-and-true chariots, loaded with just enough excitement to keep things interesting. Here are three of my faves.


The first Nissan Sentra landed on U.S. shores in 1982, back when “Dynasty” and “Dallas” ruled the airwaves. Snarky Alexis may have had a ritzy Rolls-Royce, but today’s Sentra—completely redesigned for 2020—offers a lot more bells and whistles. The striking design mimics the larger Altima and Maxima sedans, with a V-shaped grille and dramatically curved headlights. This updated subcompact is lower and wider than the previous model, giving it a more muscular stance. There also are some nifty exterior colors: Electric Blue, Rosewood and Scarlet Ember, to name a few. And for the first time, two-tone color combinations are available. Inside, the cabin gets a much-needed makeover, filled with high-quality materials, optional 8-inch touchscreen and a racy flat-bottom steering wheel. Three trim levels are all powered by a new four-cylinder, 149-hp engine that is adequate—but not exactly thrilling. Still, fuel economy is impressive, and overall handling and braking have improved. Standard safety features include blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, and automatic braking. Options include bigger tires, heated seats, Bose audio and more. For anyone hoping to save enough and emulate J.R. Ewing’s lifestyle someday, there’s a lot of value here. After all, the average price of a car today is close to $38,000—about twice the cost of a base-model Sentra. Toyota’s flagship sedan—the full-size Avalon sedan—has been around since 1994. But it wasn’t until a 2015 facelift that this four-door land yacht could be considered somewhat sporty. A complete redo rolled into dealer showrooms a few years later, with a daring design and punchy powertrain. This year there’s a new TRD trim level, full of more bells and whistles. Yet even regular trims offer plenty of pizzazz: LED headlights, keyless entry/ ignition, heated seats and advanced safety features. The 9-inch touchscreen is especially nice, part of a center stack of user-friendly switchgear. Along with a roomy cabin loaded with cupholders, the trunk can handle a decent amount of gear. And somehow Toyota has combined an exceedingly comfy ride with performance-like handling. Alas, the low roofline can impinge on taller passengers. And while fuel economy is decent, you’ll need the hybrid version to really bump up gas mileage. As for the TRD trim level, spicy is the word: stiffer suspension, better brakes, 19-inch wheels and a crackling dualexhaust system that will wake the dead. It also comes with a trendy black and gray cabin, accented with red seatbelts, red edging on the floor mats, and red stitching on the seats, steering wheel and gearshift. Yes, springing for the TRD adds $4,000 to the deal. But trust me, you’ll turn just as many heads with this souped-up Avalon as with a hepped-up exotic car.


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Compared with the Nissan Sentra and Toyota Avalon, the Mercedes A220 appears to be the new kid on the block. But this all-new subcompact sedan simply continues the high standards set by Carl Benz when he developed the world’s first production car in 1885. Yikes, talk about provenance! The A220 is the first A-Class vehicle in the United States. It’s also the smallest and least expensive Mercedes available. But it boasts the automaker’s trademark styling, sublime handling and poised performance. Acceleration may be slower than some competitors, and fuel efficiency falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. But steering is superb, and the richly appointed cabin is dazzling. Amenities include form-fitting seats, panoramic sunroof, head-up display, massaging seats and 12-speaker Burmester stereo. Unfortunately, the trunk is relatively tiny, so be sure to pack light. A high-performance AMG A35 model amps up the fun, with a 302-hp engine, all-wheel drive and seductive exhaust growl. At $46,000, it also amps up the price. Add in various options, such as enhanced navigation, driver assistance and other packages, and suddenly you’re at $50,000-plus. It may be cold comfort, but that’s a bargain when you consider how many AMG models easily top $100,000.

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$20,000 Mpg: 29 city/39 highway 0 to 60 mph: 9.2 seconds


$37,000 Mpg: 22 city/32 highway 0 to 60 mph: 6 seconds


$34,000 Mpg: 24 city/35 highway 0 to 60 mph: 6.1 seconds

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The new fall season should remain robust.

Is fall the new spring for real estate in 2020? Mortgage rates likely to remain at record lows amid pandemic By KHALIL EL-GHOUL

As the summer market ends and the start of the fall real estate season begins it looks as though the historically fast-paced summer and spring seasons will carry over to the colder seasons. So, does that mean fall is the new spring real estate season? It sure seems to look that way. With record-low mortgage rates, accelerated activity, high demand for homes with less inventory, and a change of buyer needs, get ready for a strong fall housing market in the D.C. metro area. Record-Low Mortgage Rates Hovering Around 3% In the last month, D.C. sale prices grew by 13.8% and the current median price of U.S. homes climbed to $323,807 which is a 5.6% increase from this time last year. In four short months, the U.S. housing market has fully recovered and is even looking better than in 2019. However, mortgage rates have stayed at record lows. The Federal Reserve has kept interest rates low throughout the pandemic in an attempt to keep the economy moving. Their attempt has been successful as 2020’s housing market has outperformed 2019 with a prediction from the National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yung that this year’s home sales will surge past the 5.34 million homes sold in 2019. Accelerated Activity: High Demand With Less Inventory The fall real estate season should drastically surpass previous seasons particularly due to increased activity. Along with low mortgage rates comes less inventory. Realtors across the country are seeing a surplus in clients and a decrease in available homes. Simply put, there just aren’t enough homes to keep up with the current demand. Because of the incredibly high demand, current projections forecast the aggressive competition among prospective buyers seen this summer to continue into the fall season. Average homes for sale are expected to continue the trend of multiple offers, causing the average home price to jump considerably. Along with the current trends, we are also seeing first-time homebuyers fearlessly make the jump to homeowner status.

Changing Needs While our current norm of daily living has evolved so have the needs of our home. The need for multifunctional, spacious homes has increased. Before the pandemic, a three-bedroom, two-bath, kitchen with upgraded appliances, and a comfy living room was enough for homebuyers to sign their name on the dotted line. However, as the worldwide pandemic carries on life as we once knew homeowners’ needs have altered. With an unprecedented number of Americans working from home and the strong indication that this will continue after the eradication of the COVID-19 pandemic, homebuyers are looking for a home, workplace, and school all in one. With the increase of Americans working from home, location becomes less of a deal-breaker as it once was allowing prospective buyers to expand their search parameters. “Zoom rooms” is an increasingly popular phrase being thrown around when searching for a new home. Zoom rooms are considered aesthetically pleasing rooms that are ideal for virtual meetings, not just rooms with 70-inch displays, camera, and noise-canceling microphone arrays, which is what a Zoom room technically is defined as. With students at home while virtually learning, having space for children’s various needs such as a safe space outside has homebuyers altering their needs. With the fast pace at which homes are being sold, mortgage rates likely to remain at record lows, and a pandemic that has altered how Americans live it is safe to assume that fall may be the new spring for real estate in 2020. If you’re in the market for a new home, the Glass House team would love to help you buy and sell anywhere in the D.C. metro area. We offer a low, flat rate, commission fee for sellers and a commission rebate program for home buyers. Glass House Real Estate is a more modern and affordable way to buy and sell real estate and we’re here for you.

Khalil El-Ghoul

is principal broker of Glass House Real Estate. Reach him at khalil@glasshousere.com, 571-235-4821. Glass House Real Estate is a modern, more affordable way to buy and sell a home in the DC Metro area. Learn more about what makes us different at glassshousere.com 4 4 • WA S HI NGTONBLAD E.COM • SEPTEM B ER 1 8, 2 02 0 • B US INES S


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COLUMBIA HEIGHTS 5 BR. Victorian Brownstone 3,000+ SF, 5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 3 levels and has parking for 2 cars in rear. Prime location in the heart of Columbia Heights off of 14th Street - 2 blocks south of the Columbia Heights Metro (yellow & green lines), DC USA (Target, Washington Sports Club, etc), short walk to Adams Morgan and all retail on 14th & U Street ! (202) 437-4320. Email: beaupearce2003@yahoo.com. GORGEOUS GEORGETOWN 2BD/1BA. Lovely oasis in downtown Georgetown. $2,600/mo. Contact Matt at EASE Properties, contact@leaseindc. com or (202) 670-4111. Available NOW! GORGEOUS GEORGETOWN 1BD/1BA. Lovely oasis in downtown Georgetown. EASE Properties: contact@leaseindc.com or (202) 6704111. $2,550/mo. Available Now!


AROUND TOWN MOVERS. Professional Moving & Storage. Let Our Movers Do The Heavy Lifting. Mention the ë Blade’ for 5% off of our regular rates. Call today!202.734.3080. www.aroundtownmovers.com.

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