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Gay, lesbian ANC candidates’ signs torn down Vandals strike in Dupont, Logan Circle areas By LOU CHIBBARO JR.

The election campaign signs for two lesbians running for Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats in the Logan Circle area and a gay man running for a Dupont Circle area ANC seat have been repeatedly pulled down or damaged while signs for other candidates in the same locations have been left alone. Gay Dupont Circle ANC commissioner Mike Silverstein, a spokesperson for the ANC Rainbow Caucus, said one or more unidentified suspects appear to be targeting the signs of the three out lesbian and gay candidates and possibly other LGBTQ ANC candidates. Alexandra Bailey, who’s running for the Logan Circle ANC seat 2F08, Rehana Mohammed, who’s running for the seat in nearby ANC 2F07, and Kyle Mulhall, a candidate for the Dupont Circle area ANC 2B09, have each said their respective campaign signs have been pulled down and sometimes ripped into shreds days after they or their supporters affix them to utility poles and other places along city streets. Bailey said her main campaign signs are made of a strong wood-like backing, which prevents them from being torn. But she said one or more unidentified individuals have been ripping off rainbow decorative tape that she had attached to her signs, indicating the unknown suspects were targeting a specific LGBTQ symbol that was part of her signs. Each of the three said they have not reported the destruction or damage to their campaign signs to D.C. police, saying they did not think police could do much without evidence to identify a suspect. But the Washington Post reported last week that police in Arlington, Va., are investigating the destruction of about 55 campaign signs for Democratic candidates and another 25 campaign signs in other Arlington locations. According to the Post, destruction of political signs in Virginia is considered an act of misdemeanor vandalism punishable by a fine of as much as $2,500 or a maximum one-year jail term. D.C. police spokesperson Brianna Jordan said her office would respond as soon as possible to an inquiry from the Washington Blade asking what, if any, policy D.C. police have for investigating the destruction of political campaign signs in the District. Bailey, Mohammed, and Mulhall said they preferred not to speculate about whether supporters of their respective opponents – each of whom are incumbent commissioners –

played some role in the destruction of their campaign signs. Bailey is challenging incumbent ANC 2F08 commissioner Janice Ferebee. Mohammed is running against incumbent ANC 2F07 member Kevin Sylvester. And Mulhall is challenging incumbent 2B09 commissioner Ed Hanlon. Mulhall said his signs have been equally subjected to being ripped down or damaged in the section of his district that includes the bustling 14th Street business area between S Street and U Street, N.W., as well as along quiet nearby residential streets. “I’ve been getting my signs ripped down regularly for the whole two months I’ve had them up,” he said. “It’s alarming how many I replaced multiple times.” A campaign sign for Kyle Mulhall, a candidate for He said he discovered his most recently the Dupont Circle area ANC 2B09, was torn in half. (Photo courtesy Mulhall) reinstalled signs pulled down and ripped in half on the ground on 14th Street this past weekend. “So I have actually sent some notes to a couple of the businesses to see if any of them have cameras that would have covered people ripping down all of my signs outside their stores and other places,” Mulhall told the Blade. D.C. police routinely approach storefront businesses to view their video surveillance camera footage while investigating crimes. But it couldn’t immediately be determined whether D.C. police would follow that practice to investigate the destruction of election campaign signs.

Out Brigade rolls through D.C.

A Jeep in the Out Brigade passes by the United States Supreme Court on Saturday.

Several dozen cars joined the Out Brigade Saturday, which wound through all eight wards of D.C. This is the first year of the brigade, which was organized by the Capital Pride Alliance and the D.C. Center. The caravan started at the D.C. Eagle at 2 p.m. and made its way past the Supreme Court, Nob Hill, Casa Ruby, and ended in Union Square. The participating vehicles waved flags and played music, cheered on by pedestrians watching from the sidewalk. The Capital Pride Alliance also partnered with Broccoli City and Events DC for an LGBTQ movie night as part of the Out Brigade. Everyone who registered for the parade was eligible for a $5 discount code to use at Park Up DC’s 7 p.m. showing of “Hocus Pocus.” PARKER PURIFOY

Stein Club makes no endorsement in Ward 2 race Members of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s largest local LGBTQ political organization, voted by email last week to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden following a dispute over whether to endorse the Democratic candidate for the Ward 2 D.C. Council seat. By a margin of 79 votes (58.1 percent) to 57 votes (41.9 percent) club members voted for “no endorsement” in the Ward 2 race in which gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Randy Downs is running as an independent against incumbent Democrat Brooke Pinto. The club’s bylaws require a candidate to receive a 60 percent or more majority vote among club members to secure an endorsement. The bylaws also prohibit the club from endorsing a non-Democrat in an election in which a Democratic candidate is running. The decision not to endorse Pinto is considered a sign of significant support among

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Stein Club members for Downs. Downs, who has been active in local LGBTQ rights issues for nearly a decade, is campaigning aggressively for the LGBTQ vote. He has received numerous endorsements from LGBTQ activists as well as from gay and non-gay bar and restaurant owners in Ward 2. Pinto, who has expressed strong support for LGBTQ rights issues, has also received some endorsements from LGBTQ activists and businesses. Stein Club members said a decision earlier this year to delay a vote on a presidential candidate was due to procedural issues rather than any reservations about Biden and his vice presidential running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). In the club’s electronic endorsement vote last week, 97.5 percent of club members voting voted for endorsing the Biden-Harris ticket. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

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Barrett assailed for invoking ‘sexual preference’ in hearing Supreme Court nominee dodges questions on marriage By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s pick for the now vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, fended off questions Tuesday during her confirmation hearing on whether she’d undo same-sex marriage, declining to disavow dissents to historic rulings for marriage equality from her mentor Antonin Scalia. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, invoked the memory of gay rights pioneers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in questioning Barrett, recalling their wedding in 2008 after the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. Feinstein, recalling when Martin died two months later that Lyon was ineligible for Social Security survivor benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act, asked Barrett about Scalia’s dissent to the 2013 ruling striking down the Section 3 of DOMA, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriage. “Now you said in your acceptance speech for this nomination that Justice Scalia’s philosophy is your philosophy,” Feinstein said. “Do you agree with this particular point of Justice Scalia’s view that the U.S. Constitution does not afford gay people, the fundamental right to marry?” Barrett insisted upon her confirmation “you would be getting Justice Barrett, not Justice Scalia.” “I don’t think that anybody should assume that just because Justice Scalia decided a certain way that I would, too,” Barrett said. Barrett, however, then invoked the rule associated with the late U.S. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as is customarily done for judicial nominees, to avoid answering directly how she’d directly rule on same-sex marriage — which is consistent with her testimony and other judicial nominees seeking confirmation. “No hints, no previews, no forecasts,” Barrett said. “That had been the practice of nominees before her, but everybody calls it the Ginsburg rule because she stated it so concisely and it’s been the practice of every nominee since since. So I can’t — and I’m sorry to not be able to embrace or disavow Justice Scalia’s position but I really can’t do that on any point of law.” Feinstein, however, wasn’t satisfied with that answer, calling marriage rights for samesex couples “a fundamental point for large numbers of people, I think, in this country.” “You identify yourself with a justice that you like him would be a consistent vote to roll back hard fought freedoms and protections for the LGBT community,” Feinstein said. “And what I was hoping you would say is that this would be a point of difference where those freedoms would be respected and you haven’t said that.” Barrett responded to Feinstein’s concerns by insisting she “has no agenda,” then went on to disavow discrimination on the basis of “sexual preference.” “I do want to be clear that I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference, and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference,” Barrett said. “Like racism, I think discrimination is abhorrent.” The term sexual preference is considered inappropriate — and offensive — to describe whether or not a person identifies as LGBTQ because it implies being LGBTQ is a choice. Instead, the standard terms are sexual orientation and gender identity (and in some circles, the term sexual identity is emerging as a broader term to encompass all aspects of the LGBTQ community). Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, criticized Barrett in a statement for using the term “sexual preference,” crediting such terminology with the prevalence of widely discredited conversion therapy. “When Amy Coney Barrett used the term ’sexual preference’ in her testimony before the Senate today, she perpetuated the dangerous and false stereotype that being LGBTQ is not a fundamental aspect of identity, but a mere ’preference,’” Minter said. “This is why so many people, including many parents who send their children to conversion therapy, think being LGBTQ is a choice. As judges know, language matters.” Upbraiding Barrett on the committee for use of the term sexual preference was Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who said that was “offensive and outdated” language and “used by anti LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice.” “It is not,” Hirono continued. “Sexual orientation is a key part of a person’s identity. That sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable was a key part of the majority’s opinion in Obergefell, which by the way Scalia did not agree with. So, if it is your view that sexual orientation is merely a preference, as you noted, then the LGBTQ community should be rightly concerned whether you would uphold their constitutional right to marry.” Although Hirono continued in a tirade against Barrett she didn’t allow the nominee to address those remarks. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) at the start of her questioning, gave the 0 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • OCTOBER 16 , 2 0 2 0 • NAT I O NA L NE WS

Judge AMY CONEY BARRETT at the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on Oct. 12, for her nomination to the Supreme Court. (Photo by Leah Millis/Reuters; POOL PHOTO used with permission)

nominee an opportunity to clarify and apologize. “I certainly didn’t mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community,” Barrett said. “So if I did, I greatly apologize for that. I simply meant to be referring to Obergefell as holding with respect to same-sex marriage.” The prospect of Barrett’s confirmation leading the Supreme Court to reverse Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 ruling granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples, has emerged as a concern following an unexpected statement from U.S. Associate Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas last week declaring war on the decision. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sought to allay concerns the Trump-appointed nominee would overturn Obergefell — as well as other Supreme Court precedents — with questioning of his own, prompting Barrett to affirm the limited role of justices. “Judges can’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I have an agenda. I like guns. I hate guns. I like abortion. I hate abortion,’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” Barrett said. Initially asking Barrett to identify the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage (which Barrett correctly identified as Obergefell), Graham asked if the process for a state seeking to defy the decision would be the same for any legal challenge. “It would and one thing I’ve neglected to say before that’s occurring to me now is that not only would someone have to challenge that statute…if they outlawed same-sex marriage, there’d have to be a case challenging it, and for the Supreme Court to take it up, you’d have to have lower courts going along and saying we’re going to flout Obergefell,” Barrett said. Barrett went on to downplay the prospect of the Supreme Court overturning same-sex marriage based on lower courts rejecting the challenge — flat-out ignoring the prospect of the Supreme Court reviewing those lower court decisions and deciding to overturn Obergefell as precedent. “The most likely result would be that lower courts, who are bound by Obergefell would shut such a lawsuit down, and it wouldn’t make its way up to the Supreme Court but if it did, it would be the same process I’ve described,” Barrett said. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), attending the confirmation hearing virtually, asked Barrett whether she’d respect the principle of stare decisis — the idea the Supreme Court should keep with precedent to ensure consistency in the law — with respect to same-sex marriage. After Barrett initially simply affirmed the holding in Obergefell that same-sex couples have a right to marry, the nominee declined to say whether she agrees with that precedent consistent with her testimony in her response to other cases. “Senator, for the reasons I’ve already said, I’m not going to as Justice Kagan put it, give a thumbs up or thumbs down to any particular precedent,” Barrett said. “It’s precedent of the Supreme Court that gives same-sex couples a right to marry.” Upon further questioning from Leahy, however, Barrett affirmed she would not seek to overturn decisions just because a majority of the court supported it, saying “the doctrine of stare decisis requires that.”

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No LGBTQ questions in Harris, Pence VP debate Democratic senator assails response to coronavirus By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

David’s criticism. In the wake of President Trump contracting coronavirus after being disdainful of efforts Social justice, however, did come up in the form of a question on whether Breonna Taylor, to contain the disease, the pandemic took center stage at a debate last week between Sen. a Black woman in Kentucky who was killed in an incident of alleged police brutality, received Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence that left supporters on both sides declaring justice after the state declined to prosecute officers who shot her multiple times during a victory. raid on her home. Early on during the debate in Salt Lake City, Harris tore into Pence for the more than Harris talked about her personal experience with Taylor’s family, then shifted to the video 200,000 deaths as a result of coronavirus and the economic hardship that has resulted from widely seen by Americans of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd. the epidemic. “People around our country of every race, of every age, of every gender — perfect strangers “Here are the facts: 210,000 dead people in our country in just the last several months, to each other — marched shoulder-to-shoulder arm-and-arm fighting for us to finally achieve over 7 million people who have contracted this disease, one in five businesses closed,” Harris that ideal of equal justice under law, said. “We’re looking at frontline and I was a part of those peaceful workers who have been treated like protests,” Harris said. “And I believe sacrificial workers. We are looking at strongly that first of all we are never over 30 million people, who in the going to condone violence, but we last several months had to file for always must fight for the values that unemployment.” we hold dear, including the fight to Harris concluded, “Frankly, this achieve our ideal.” administration has forfeited their Pence, in the most uncomfortable right to re-election.” moment of the debate for the vice Pence, who led the White president, declined to say whether House Coronavirus Task Force, justice had been served. turned the issue to the resilience “Well, our heart breaks for the of the American people, citing loss of any innocent American life, statistics that without the Trump and the family of Breonna Taylor has administration’s actions the death our sympathies,” Pence said. “But I toll would have reached a larger trust our justice system.” figure of 2.2 million people. After briefly addressing Floyd’s “The American people, I believe, death, Pence said ongoing rioting deserve credit for the sacrifices that and looting are taking place they have made putting the health throughout the country, dismissing of their family and their neighbors assertions law enforcement first, our doctors, our nurses are first agencies are systemically racist. responders and I’m going to speak With the nomination of Amy up on behalf of what the American Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme people have done,” Pence said. Sen. KAMALA HARRIS (D-Calif.) criticized Vice President MIKE PENCE Court pending before the U.S. Taking a jab at Joe Biden, for his coronavirus response at last week’s debate. Senate, the topic of the judiciary Pence said he looked at the Biden also came up. Amid criticism Barrett plan to address the coronavirus would let her Catholic beliefs dictate her rulings from the bench, Pence said he hoped by advancing testing and developing a vaccine and concluded “it looks a little bit like Democrats wouldn’t come after the nominee for her faith. plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about.” “Our hope is in the hearing next week, unlike Justice Kavanaugh received with treatment Harris, however, said the American people had to endure hardship because the Trump from you and others, we hope she gets a fair hearing,” Pence said. administration was inadequate in addressing the coronavirus, making a visceral appeal to LGBTQ advocacy and progressive groups have been steadfast in their opposition debate watchers. to Barrett as a replacement for the late U.S. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and “I want to ask the American people: How calm were you when you were panicked about said her confirmation would leave LGBTQ rights vulnerable to religious claims and even where you’re going to get your next roll of toilet paper, how calm were you when your kids jeopardize same-sex marriage. were sent home from school and you didn’t know when they could go back, how do you Harris rejected religion was an issue, saying Democrats objected to holding a vote on a think when your children couldn’t see your parents because you were afraid they could kill nominee to the Supreme Court with 27 days remaining before a presidential election. As them?” Harris said as she looked into the camera. precedent, Harris cited a Supreme Court vacancy in 1864 when Abraham Lincoln was up Moderator Susan Page of USA Today, in the aftermath of the slapfest debate last week for re-election. between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, sought to enforce the rules in speaking time for “But Honest Abe said it’s not the right thing to do,” Harris said. “The American people participants and asked thoughtful, well-researched questions in a debate the Associated deserve to make the decision about who will be the next president of the United States, and Press called “a rare return to some semblance of normal politics.” then that person can select who will serve for a lifetime on the highest court of our land.” LGBTQ issues didn’t come up during the debate, despite calls from LGBTQ advocacy When Harris was asked if Biden would pack the judiciary as president Harris declined to groups for a question to distinguish Harris’ record of support for the LGBTQ community with directly answer, much like Biden in last week’s debate — a point Pence sought to emphasize. Pence’s draconian anti-LGBTQ record. David, after criticizing the debate moderator for not asking a question on LGBTQ issues, Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, publicly criticized Page in a went on to rebuke Pence for talking over both Page and Harris. statement for not bringing up LGBTQ issues during the debate. “Throughout the debate, Mike Pence talked over both Sen. Harris and moderator Susan “Tonight, Susan Page had the opportunity to highlight the stark contrast between Page,” David said. “His condescending display toward these two powerful women is further Mike Pence — the Vice President with the longest and most problematically anti-LGBTQ confirmation of the Trump-Pence campaign’s blatant disrespect for women. Thankfully, record in decades — and Kamala Harris, a true champion of our community,” David said. Kamala Harris clearly demonstrated that she is not only capable but unrivaled in her ability “Unfortunately for the 57 million Equality Voters and 11 million LGBTQ voters eager to hear to lead our nation as Vice President as she prosecuted the case against a reckless president from the candidates on these issues, Page did not ask any questions about the candidates’ and vice president who have failed at every opportunity to manage this pandemic and the LGBTQ records — a disservice to voters across the country.” economic fallout that it has wrought.” The Washington Blade has placed a request with Page seeking comment in response to 1 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • OCTOBER 16 , 2 0 2 0 • NAT I O NA L NE WS


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LGBTQ summit for fed’l workers cancelled to comply with Trump order Diversity training in U.S. agencies under review By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

An upcoming summit, intended to give LGBTQ federal workers an opportunity to meet and network, has been cancelled by organizers in accordance with President Trump’s recent executive order requiring review of diversity training in U.S. agencies to ban critical race theory, the Washington Blade has learned. The Pride in Federal Service Summit, intended to take place virtually amid the coronavirus epidemic, was initially scheduled for Oct. 21-22 and an estimated 500 participants affiliated with the interagency LGBTQ affinity group for federal workers were expected to attend. But according to an internal email shared with the Washington Blade, members of the Pride in Federal Service Summit planning committee announced Tuesday they were forced to postpone the event indefinitely — effectively cancelling it — to comply with Executive Order 13950, which Trump signed last month to ban critical race theory in employment despite consternation from proponents of anti-racism diversity training. “The Pride in Federal Service Summit Planning Committee is disappointed to announce the postponement of the Summit,” writes Meghan Walter, a Portland, Ore.-based employee of the Department of Agriculture and president of Equality USDA, citing guidance from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management seeking to implement Trump’s executive order. Multiple sources familiar with the event confirmed to the Washington Blade on condition of anonymity the email was accurate and the Pride summit was indeed cancelled. “We do not have a timeline for rescheduling the summit, but anticipate no sooner than February 2021,” Walter writes. “The committee has made every effort to pivot in response to these memos and the EO and continue forward with the summit. The OPM guidance issued on Friday has drastically impacted our Summit plans and we see no alternative other than to postpone.” Among the topics for the summit: Building resilient and inclusive employee resource groups, LGBTQ cultural competency, best practices for workplace inclusion and sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination policies in federal employment. Organizers with Pride in Federal Service Summit didn’t respond late Friday to the Washington Blade’s inquiry about whether they had reached out to the Office of Personnel Management to confirm they couldn’t hold the event or whether it was cancelled based on an interpretation of the guidance on Trump’s order, nor when they first announced the event and whether that was before or after Trump signed the directive. The OPM guidance, however, requires the submission of all trainings to the Office of Personnel Management and White House Office of Management & Budget by Nov. 22 for approval to ensure critical race theory, which posits white supremacy is maintained in society without active anti-racist intervention, plays no component.

An LGBTQ summit was cancelled to comply with President DONALD TRUMP‘S executive order.

“These divisive trainings constitute a malign subset of a larger pool of Federal agency trainings held to promote diversity and inclusiveness,” writes OMB Director Russ Vought in a Sept. 22 memo. “The sort of training at issue does neither; it sows division among the workforce by attempting to prescribe and impose upon employees a conformity of belief in ideologies that label entire groups of Americans as inherently racist or evil (e.g., critical race theory).” The White House didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment on whether Trump is OK with the cancellation of the Pride event as a result of his executive order. Trump, however, has railed against critical race theory as a source of harmful ideology and division in the federal government, addressing his order to abolish the training in response to a question from Chris Wallace last week in his debate with Joe Biden. “If you were a certain person, you had no status in life,” Trump said. “It was sort of a reversal. And if you look at that the people, we would pay people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach, very bad ideas and, frankly, very sick ideas and really, they were teaching people to hate our country, and I’m not going to do that, I’m not going to allow that to happen.”

Monica Roberts, trailblazing trans activist, dies at 58 Founder of TransGriot blog was pioneering journalist By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | mlavers@washblade.com

Monica Roberts, a trailblazing Black transgender activist and journalist, died last week at the age of 58. Roberts’ friend, Dee Dee Waters, in a video she posted to her Facebook page confirmed Roberts passed away early Oct. 6. Roberts’ family told local media outlets she died of natural causes. “Monica was such an amazing person,” said Waters on Thursday in her Facebook video. Roberts, 58, was born and raised in Houston. Roberts was the founding editor of TransGriot, a blog that highlighted trans-specific issues. Roberts was also an outspoken activist who, among other things, sharply criticized the Trump administration’s transphobic policies and condemned violence against trans women of color. The National LGBTQ Task Force in January honored Roberts at its annual Creating Change conference that took place in Dallas. TransGriot in 2018 received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog. The organization two years earlier honored Roberts with its Special Recognition Award. NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists on Sept. 28 announced Roberts had been named to its national board of directors. “The passing of Monica Roberts is a tremendous loss,” said Ina Fried, the organization’s former vice president of print, in a statement. “Monica has been a tireless voice for the trans community, in particular the Black trans community. Countless stories, otherwise untold, were heard because of her strong, unwavering voice.” The Trans Journalists Association also mourned Roberts. “Today we are devastated to learn of the passing of Monica Roberts (@TransGriot), a pioneering trans journalist who dedicated her life to lifting the voices of Black trans lives,” said the organization in a tweet. “Her exemplary work as a reporter shows the necessity of trans people writing our own stories.”

MONICA ROBERTS, speaks at a rally against transphobic violence at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change conference in Dallas on Jan. 16, 2020. (Photo courtesy of the National LGBTQ Task Force)

The Harris County Democratic Party in Texas is among the other groups that have honored Roberts for her activism. “This week, the LGBTQ+ community lost one of our fiercest voices in Monica Roberts, an activist who not only lifted up the stories of trans people and inspired generations of countless transgender and non-binary people but all those who knew her,” said Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey in a statement. “She was a mother, sister, aunt, friend, protector and voice for the voiceless.” Equality Texas and the Victory Fund of which former Houston Mayor Annise Parker is president and CEO are among the other LGBTQ advocacy groups that mourned Roberts’ death. “Monica Roberts was a dear friend, trailblazer and a tireless advocate for trans rights,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who represents Houston. “Although she was known nationally, she never failed to lend her platform to support those in need,” added the Houston Democrat. “She was our shero.” NAT I O NA L NE WS • O CTO B E R 1 6 , 2 0 2 0 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 1 3

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Thousands denied blindness cure due to gay ban on tissue donation 1994 FDA policy denounced as ‘outdated’ By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

A first-of-its-kind medical journal study published on Sept. 24 shows that as many as 3,217 intended donations of corneas from the eyes of gay and bisexual men in 2018 that could have restored the vision of blind people through cornea transplant surgery were disqualified under an “outdated” U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy aimed at preventing HIV infection. The study released by JAMA Ophthalmology, an American Medical Association journal, says the little-known FDA policy prohibits the donation of corneas from men who have had sex with men in the past five years from the time of the planned donation. It points out that the policy has not been revised since the FDA adopted it in 1994 despite major scientific advancements in the detection of HIV in human tissue within eight to 10 days after infection. “With millions of people across the world in need of corneal transplants, these discarded corneas from gay and bisexual men could be used to address the shortage and safely restore vision to thousands of patients with corneal blindness or visual impairment,” said Dr. Michael A. Puente, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “With modern virologic testing and a better understanding of the low risk of HIV transmission through corneal transplants, this five-year deferral policy for gay men is not supported by current science,” Puente, an eye surgeon, said in a statement. “We ask federal regulators to reconsider these outdated policies which are depriving patients of the possibility of sight restoration,” he said. Medical literature on cornea donations and corneal transplant surgery states that similar to heart transplants, corneas can only be donated by people who have died, many of whom have left an advance directive to become an organ or tissue donor. The statement accompanying the study says all corneal donors in the United States are required to undergo three separate HIV tests. Puente told the Washington Blade the HIV tests can be performed shortly before a terminally ill person dies or shortly after death as long as at least one of the tests is performed within seven days of the time the cornea is donated. Up until 2015, the FDA adhered to a lifetime ban on men who have sex with men, referred to as MSM, from donating blood. The FDA announced that year that a review it conducted concluded that a lifetime ban was no longer scientifically justified and recommended that MSM considering donating blood be sexually abstinent for one year. In April of this year the FDA lowered the period of abstinence for MSM blood donors to three months. “If it’s safe for gay men to donate their blood after three months of abstinence, I can think of no scientific reason to continue to require gay men to be abstinent for five years to donate their eyes,” Puente said. “This policy can be changed without increasing the risk of HIV transmission, and I would urge authorities to act as soon as possible to help patients who are waiting for sight-restoring surgery.” The medical journal article says to the knowledge of the teams of researchers who conducted the study, “no case of HIV transmission from a corneal transplant has been reported anywhere in the world.” The article notes that in cases where a corneal donor was discovered to be HIV positive after a transplant surgery had taken place, none of the recipients contracted HIV. 1 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • OCTOBER 16 , 2 0 2 0 • NAT I O NA L NE WS

(Photo by Tony Alter; Attribution 2.0 Generic [CC BY 2.0])

“One reason for the low transmissibility of HIV via corneal transplant is thought to be the cornea’s avascularity, which prevents the cornea from being a major reservoir of the virus,” according to the article. “Studies analyzing the corneas of HIV-infected patients have consistently found that that HIV is not present in most of the corneas of HIV-positive patients,” it reports. The statement accompanying the study says the U.S. and Canada are “outliers” in policies restricting corneal donations for MSM. It notes that Canada currently requires MSM to have been abstinent for one year prior to a corneal donation. “Many countries, including Spain, Italy, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, allow gay and bisexual men to donate their eye tissue just as easily as heterosexual donors,” the statement says. “Other countries have deferral periods far shorter than five years,” says the statement. “For example, the United Kingdom allows corneal donation by gay and bisexual men after only three months of abstinence, while the Netherlands and France only require gay and bisexual corneal donors to be abstinent for four months.” Puente told the Blade he learned that members of Congress urged the FDA to modify its MSM cornea donation policy in 2013 and the Eye Bank Association of America in 2017 also called for a change in the policy, but the FDA chose to leave the 1994 policy in place. Monique Richards, a spokesperson for the FDA, told the Blade in an email in response to a Blade inquiry about the MSM corneal donor policy, that the current policy is based on recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1994 guidelines published in its journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “Research has shown that a history of male-to-male sexual contact was associated with a 62-fold increased risk for being HIV positive, whereas the increase in risk for a history of multiple sexual partners of the opposite sex was 2.3 fold,” Richards said. She added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that about two-thirds of all new HIV infections in the United states occur in MSM, who make up only 2 percent of the total U.S. population. “The FDA will continue to review its [tissue] donor deferral policies to ensure they reflect the most up-to-date scientific knowledge,” Richards said. “This process must be data-driven, so the time frame for future changes is not something we can predict.”

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Cubans share their coming out stories National Coming Out Day, as it is called in the U.S., is celebrated on Oct. 11 as an event that promotes the visibility of LGBTI+ people and calls attention to silence, one of the most deeply ingrained forms of homophobia and transphobia. A group of American activists designated Oct. 11 in 1988, the first anniversary of a national march in Washington that was able to draw half a million participants to demand equality. “It is imperative that we come out and we let people know who we are and that we calm their fears and stereotypes,” said Robert Eichberg, speaking about the celebration’s goals a few years later. Eichberg was one of the promoters of National Coming Out Day along with the lesbian activist Jean O’Leary. He died from AIDS in 1995. In Cuba, unlike other countries, especially those in Europe, the celebration of Oct. 11 has not taken off. Some activists, however, this Sunday on social media shared their experiences in the closet or photos in public places that affirm themselves as LGBTI+ people. They celebrated the day designed to leave behind the invisibility and assimilation demanded by a heterosexual and cisgender society that the notion of the closet expresses with particular force. “My great exit from this showcase, as (Pedro) Lemebel called it, was in the military,” recalled Ulises Padrón on his Facebook page. The activist decided to disclose his sexual orientation to an army colonel. “He made me pick up my belongings and I was sleeping in the infirmary for about a week until he decided what to do with me,” he wrote. Ulises began to “invent illnesses” in order to be sent to the hospital and get away from the typical homophobia in his barracks. “It was the moment that I understood that heteronormativity is never going to make concessions to difference because the only thing it owes is itself.” “The truth is that it spared me reading and participating in a history course in which I won some place and they gave us a tour of other units. The major considered me different when I returned, but with the same homophobia. Only now he wasn’t a stranger who continued abusing his authority. It was he who previously held a repudiation rally in front of my classmates’ parents, parents who I knew for my entire life and they did not believe what he said.” Raúl Soublett, a teacher and activist, remembers his coming out as a “stage of my life that was crucial, decisive, difficult but necessary to be able to live without fear.” “Telling my mom and dad that I liked men made me feel free, but at the same time I could not hide. I could not deny that I was very scared of the repercussions that it was going to bring,” he said on Facebook. Raúl had to go back into the closet a bit later. His family kept pressuring (him) and he inadvertently hid his sexual orientation again to protect himself. “At the same time I was realizing that I didn’t have a life. I was able to fight for this freedom that I wanted. I was facing and surviving those threats that obviously

RAÚL SOUBLETT shared his coming out experience on Facebook. (Photo by Damarys Benavides)

mounted. Bit by bit I stopped feeling afraid, ashamed. I didn’t care very much about what people thought of me. All of this was a process in which I was able to accept myself, get to know myself, eliminate certain things that only replicated themselves for me to pretend who I wasn’t.” “Aware of all the dangers and threats to our rights, I think that the world is going to change bit by bit and we are progressing towards this. It is my optimistic side that wants this to be true,” concludes his post. Other activists preferred to show themselves with their partners or with rainbow flags in pictures they posted on Facebook and Twitter. Adiel González Maimó and Yasmín Portales, members of the 11M Platform, one of the few organized independent LGBTI+ groups in Cuba that is currently active, did exactly that. “Q de Cuir” magazine, a digital publication dedicated to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, also published testimonies about the closet. It asked those who were interviewed to discuss “the most difficult coming out” and “the most unexpected coming out.” Tropicana, a trans woman, told “Q de Cuir” that she never needed to come out of the closet. “It was so noticeable to me, you saw it coming how I was going to be,” she said. “I lived with my grandparents, they were my life, they were my parents. The most painful part was the day that my grandparents took all of my things from me. I am talking about the 80s, when things were seen from a very different point of view and to be homosexual in that time was the worst. (Editor’s note: Tremenda Nota is the Blade’s media partner in Cuba.)

LGBTQ migrants still seeking refuge in U.S. Advocates this week said the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies have not stopped LGBTQ people in Central America’s Northern Triangle from traveling to the U.S. to seek asylum. “It’s not a deterrent in the sense of ‘Oh, I’m not going to do this right now. I’ll go next year,’” said Emem Maurus, an attorney with the Transgender Law Center who is based in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, on Wednesday during a virtual press conference that Human Rights Watch organized. “It is certainly having a practical impact, I do want to say that,” added Maurus. “These policies are causing people to be hurt, they are causing people to die, truly. They are causing a lot of harm and in that sense, they are practically impeding asylum, but I don’t know that it’s causing people to be like, ‘Oh, I’ll wait until next spring’ necessarily.” Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador comprise the Northern Triangle. Human Rights Watch on Wednesday released a report that highlights persecution in the region based on sexual orientation and gender identity and Trump administration policies that have put LGBTQ asylum seekers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador at even more risk. The report notes the U.S. in March “entirely closed its southern border to asylum seekers, leaving them to suffer persecution in their home countries or in Mexico.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic served as the pretext for the closure, but for years, the Trump administration had adopted increasingly severe measures aimed at preventing asylum seekers from ever reaching the United States and expelling them quickly if they did cross the border,” reads the report. Estuardo Cifuentes, a gay man from Guatemala, is among those who the U.S. has forced to await the outcome of their asylum cases in Mexico under the “return to Mexico” policy. Cifuentes, who asked for asylum in the U.S. at the end of July 2019, runs a project in the Mexican border city of Matamoros that helps LGBTQ asylum seekers as he awaits the final outcome of his case. “I went back to Matamoros without knowing anything, without knowing anything about the process,” Cifuentes told the Blade during a recent Zoom interview. Maurus last week noted Guatemala in 2019 signed a “safe third country” agreement with the Trump administration that requires migrants who pass through Guatemala on their way to the U.S. to first ask for asylum in the country. TransLatin@ Coalition Executive Director Bamby Salcedo during the press conference also highlighted the inadequate health care and other mistreatment that LGBTQ asylum seekers face while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. MICHAEL K. LAVERS


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is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Trump survived COVID to rot in jail

i e mafia bosses president li el to be brou ht down b R

I’m not sure if I’ve ever had such strong negative feelings about a person as I do for Donald Trump. He engenders those feelings because of his total lack of humanity. It is impossible to find an redeemin value in him. is constant attac s on all those around him and his inhumanity are evident with regard to the innocent children he put in cages. He abused the incredible honor bestowed on him when he was elected president by usin the office to foster hatred and even insurrection as we have seen recentl with regard to the plot against the governor of Michigan. This is a man without a conscience doing everything he can to destroy our democracy. ur countr has alwa s been a wor in pro ress an unfulfilled dream. nstead of tr in to fulfill it rump has activel wor ed to destro it. e pits person a ainst person roup a ainst roup. e claims to find ood in neo a is even thou h he has ewish grandchildren who if it were up to him would be in new concentration camps) and white supremacists and onl points out what he sees as the bad in those tr in to fi ht for equality. He has proven to be a congenital liar and apparently sees himself as something akin to a afia boss someone who thin s he can threaten all those around him to do his bidding. He unleashes verbal attacks and tweets on anyone he perceives as an enemy. e is usin the epartment of ustice as his personal law ers and recentl demanded the attorney general arrest a former president and his current campaign opponent. He threatens his own appointees believing they must be subservient to him rather than to the onstitution to which the swore an oath when assumin office. e co ies up to dictators li e ladimir utin and im on n. Recentl it appeared he saw himself as the reincarnation of Benito Mussolini when posing on the White House balcony saluting an empty lawn. This presidential campaign is about far more than a change in policy. This campaign is about the future of our country. There are crucial issues on the ballot with differing views represented by Biden and Trump. They include who will appoint future judges; will there be more than nine ustices on the upreme ourt will there be chan es in the nation’s healthcare system; will women be able to control their own bodies; will we be in to seriousl fi ht climate chan e will a men and women continue to be able to le all marr . hile all those issues are momentous and crucial to the well bein of the American people and in some cases like climate change to the world, it is important to reco ni e that more than this the election is literall about the survival of our countr as we know it. It is about our democracy and its very existence into the future. It has been clear for years Donald Trump has no ethics and no morals. I believe he never wanted to be president and only ran to strengthen his brand and we now know that was because of his need to earn money to cover his huge debts. When he won he was clearly overwhelmed and had no knowledge of what to do. He was stuck and decided he could bluster his way through as he had done in business. Only with the federal government he couldn’t declare bankruptcy every time he failed and begin again. He was in way over his head. Instead of bringing in those who could actually help and then listen to them his personality was such that he couldn’t do that. He brought toadies li e his dau hter and son in law and others who the minute the spo e up and contradicted him were fired. o the countr and the world are sufferin because of his failures. e rode the economic success of the Obama years and then when COVID hit the wheels came off and he was lost. I am glad Trump survived COVID and he will be called to account for his crimes most li el b the R li e all mafia bosses. an li e me will be happ to see him rot in ail.


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Happy 70th to iconic ‘All About Eve’

Film’s wit still sparkles, its camp still delights “Hi, I’m Kathi. I’m an Evaholic.” If you’re queer, you’ll know the source of my addiction. Like many of my LGBTQ friends, I’ve been a lifelong fan of the movie “All About Eve.” Some say the world is made up of beach lovers and mountain aficionados. But, lovers of Oscar Wilde, camp, Bette Davis, and, of course, Thelma Ritter, know: there are Eve obsessives and, well, other people. Seventy years ago, in October 1950, “All About Eve,” written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, premiered in New York City. I love Old Hollywood. But even I have to admit that some of Tinseltown’s “classics” are as out of date as MySpace or your greatgrandma’s girdle. Yet “All About Eve” has aged as well as a fine vintage wine. Its wit still sparkles, its camp delights and its story resonates with anyone who’s run up against treachery and deceit. (Think of the young employee you’ve mentored who goes after your job. The fake BFF who makes a move on your spouse. Trump running for a second term.). Unless you’ve lived with your head under a rock, you either know the plot of “Eve” or have seen references to it in pop culture (in everything from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to “The Simpsons”). Eve (Anne Baxter) seems to be an innocent young, worshipful fan of the theater and of actress Margo Channing (Bette Davis). But, in truth, Eve is an habitual liar with no conscience who’ll do anything to benefit her career as an actress (from taking Margo’s roles away from her to seducing the theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders). There are deliciously campy supporting characters from Birdie (played fabulously by Thelma Ritter) to producer Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff). Trying to say why you love “All About Eve” so much is like attempting to tell a dog person why you like cats. But you give it a go. Because you’d like to get everyone you can hooked on “Eve.” “All About Eve is, to me, is one of the most entertaining movies ever made,” writes Sam Staggs in “All About All About Eve.” Staggs’s book, a meticulously researched “bio” of “Eve,” is an indispensable guide to all aspects of the movie – from its script to its actors to “Applause,” (the Broadway musical of “Eve” starring Lauren Bacall). “I wanted to write not as a detached observer but rather from the point of view of an audience member trying to figure out why I like the movie so much,” Staggs writes, “and why I still find it fresh after thirty or forty viewings.” “All about Eve” is a movie for grown-ups, Miles David Moore, film critic for Scene4 told me in a phone interview. “But it’s not adult like “Midnight Cowboy,” he added. Mankiewicz wasn’t queer. But, he imbues “Eve” with a queer sensibility. As others have pointed out, Eve appears to be a lesbian (though coded). In the opening scene, she’s wearing (for the 1950s) an “unfeminine” trench coat and hat. In another scene, she walks arm-and-arm up the stairs with another woman (who seems like a girlfriend – if Eve possessed an iota of affection for anyone). Eve isn’t a queer role model for me. But how I adore hating her! Addison DeWitt is seen with the aspiring actress Miss Casswell (Marilyn Monroe) on his arm. Later, he wants to possess Eve. Though “any sex between Addison and Eve wouldn’t be pretty,” Moore said. Yet, DeWitt to anyone with gaydar seems to be a queer of the Oscar Wilde sort. “My native habitat is the theater,” he says. “In it, I toil not, neither do I spin.” Then, there’s Bette: “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” “All About Eve” is a feminist picture, holy writ for queer – brilliant satire for LGBTQ and hetero fans. Happy anniversary, Eve!



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Brock Thompson

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

The boldness of Randy Downs

Ward 2’s daring Council hopeful deserves your vote and who also are partnered reluctant to go into the What better place to sit down and chat with shelter system alone. Downs is seeking to remedy Randy Downs than at Annie’s on 17th Street, itself this. an institution, a significant strip in Downs’ Dupont As a gay man, Downs has a unique perspective ANC constituency. We sat on Annie’s new outside on what this city can provide, and who exactly needs “strEATery,” one of the many wildly popular outside these services. And frankly, It’s been too long since patios now taking over streets across the city, COVID we’ve had queer representation on the Council. measures meant to support the District’s restaurant David Cantania and the late Jim Graham have been industry. And do note, you saw them on 17th Street our only openly gay members in its entire history. first. And all thanks to Randy Downs, Neighborhood Ward 2, arguably the gayest ward in the city, cutting Commissioner and candidate for the Ward 2 seat on through Dupont, Logan, and Georgetown, needs this the District Council. representation more so than perhaps any other. Downs believes that these strEATeries make the As a gay man who grew up poor, Downs is no neighborhood more lively, as well as safer. stranger to struggle. Growing up in rural Missouri, Traffic is slowed and calmed, there’s more space Downs started working in the restaurant industry at for social distancing, and more activity at night means the age of 13. This was not some cushy job for pocket a decrease in crime. Asked if we can keep the popular money either, as Downs told me. But rather taken on ‘strEATeries’ post pandemic, Downs replied with a to help support his family. All in all, it’s a background confident “absolutely.” And Annie’s is what you’d that has installed a useful empathy, in that Downs expect it to be — adorned with festive paper lanterns, knows exactly what it takes for some District residents colorful tablecloths, and planters. It’s very them. It’s to make ends meet. very 17th Street. And this is just one of Randy Downs’ Downs moved to the District almost 10 years myriad accomplishments. ago. And on why Washington remains so special to From his mere four years as an ANC him, Downs told me that the city “has offered me so Commissioner, positions too often dismissed much,” adding that “D.C. has simply allowed me to be as powerless or even perfunctory, Downs’ list of who I wanted to be.” achievements reads like a litany of good deeds any RANDY DOWNS is running for Ward 2 Council. Downs, too, you should know, is no stranger current D.C. Council member would kill to have on to a fight. In 2013, he was diagnosed with stage 2 their resume. Downs helped usher the much-needed testicular cancer. He’s been cancer-free for six years now, “technically cured” he told me. Stead Park community center renovation and expansion slated to break ground next year. But the experience instilled in him greater patience and determination toward life. He also The $16 million project will add a badly needed community multi-purpose meeting space got one of D.C.’s first medical marijuana cards. “Card 104,” he told me, to help with his to Ward 2 cancer treatments. It has made him a supporter of Ballot Initiative 81, the only initiative on Look for that starting early next year. this year’s ballot seeking to decriminalize the possession and distribution of entheogenic There’s also the clever workaround to long sought for rainbow crosswalks, appearing in plants and fungus. cities across America but blocked here by federal highway officials. Downs threaded that The District of Columbia is the most physically fit, the most educated, and the gayest needle by creating the popular rainbow banners, not obstructing the walks themselves, city in the country. It takes a special man to represent such a place. And many have come but rather bordering them. Then there’s the rainbow and trans flag banners, also Downs’ to recognize this. His list of his endorsements is long — including the Washington Teachers doing, adorning the street lights up and down 17th. These two things could be dismissed Union, Persist DC (formerly DC for Elizabeth Warren), the LGBTQ Victory Fund, and many of as largely symbolic. the restaurants in Downs’ contingency such as the Tabard Inn, Annie’s, and Agora. Downs’ But symbols are important. Perhaps even more so to minority groups seeking visibility. main challenger is the incumbent, 28-year-old Brooke Pinto, who won the seat by just over Downs recognizes that. Then there’s the decades-old and foolhardy 17th Street liquor 300 votes in a special election. And there’s a stark contrast to the Missouri-born Downs and moratorium, that seemingly did very little but stymie growth in development along what the Connecticut-born Pinto. Downs’ campaign has been largely funded through small local is now one of the city’s most charming streets. Since then, 17th Street has seen somewhat donations, with Downs taking advantage of the city’s new Fair Elections Program, a fundsof a renaissance, with new and inventive restaurants moving in, everything from Astoria, to matching initiative meant to get big money out of politics. Pinto’s campaign has largely Duke’s, to Mikko. They now share the blocks with mainstays such as Floriana and JR.’s. All of been funded by her family’s significant largess. There are donors for sure, many of whom this bolsters 17th Street now vibrant and teeming with life on any day of the week. are both wealthy and not residents of the District. And scanning the list of those included There is practically no one left out of Downs’ vision. He’s actively pushing the District for you’ll see the fervently anti-gay and anti-choice former Attorney General of Michigan, dedicated and permanent community and housing space for LGBTQ seniors, a segment Trump Republican Bill Schuette. That is troubling to say the least. of our community too often overlooked. He’s worked tirelessly as an advocate for our trans There are many reasons Randy Downs is running, and many reasons why he deserves community, earning a well-deserved endorsement from the unsinkable Ruby Corado and the seat. I’ve listed just a few here. But know that there’s a certain boldness to Downs. That her life-saving operations at Casa Ruby. a 34-year-old gay man from rural Missouri would somehow find his way to Washington, Downs has a real plan for those in the District experiencing homelessness, advocating for D.C., and then run for its Council. That’s daring. But he’s proven to be a man of quick and a “Housing First” strategy in the city, a process that places those experiencing homelessness thoughtful action that let loose on our city, beyond his few blocks he currently oversees, will directly from the street to an apartment, bypassing the current delayed, cumbersome, and bring nothing but good things to the District. bureaucratic shelter/voucher process. And what District residents may not understand — is there are currently no coed shelters in the city, making those experiencing homelessness Vote Randy Downs on Nov. 3. 2 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • OCTOBER 16 , 2 0 2 0 • V I E WP O I NT

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Best of Gay D.C. 2020

Celebrating our resilience in a year like no other FROM STAFF REPORTS

The 19th annual Washington Blade Best Of awards arrive amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered so many of our perennial winners in this competition. Theater productions, cinemas, popular fundraising events remain shuttered; bars and restaurants operate at reduced capacity and struggle to remain afloat. COVID has upended our world in unprecedented ways. Just a year ago, the Blade was preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a gala party. Now such events are just a distant memory in the age of social distancing. But amid the loss and heartbreak, there emerge stories of hope, heroism, and resilience. First responders, doctors, nurses and even grocery store clerks have stepped up and become heroes in 2020. Business owners got creative, moving to virtual operations, creating new products (face masks, hand sanitizer), and taking their business


outside (restaurants, bars). Drag queens performed on Zoom and fitness instructors did the same. We adapted. The LGBTQ community has been through a pandemic before. So here we celebrate the best of our LGBTQ community in Washington. We reduced our usual 100 categories to 40 given all the COVID closures and restrictions on nightlife and arts & entertainment events. About 4,000 nominations and 25,000 votes were cast in 40 categories for the 19th annual Best of awards. The Blade’s Stephen Rutgers coordinated the process. The photographers are credited throughout. This year’s contributing writers are Philip Van Slooten, Joey DiGuglielmo, and Kevin Naff. There will be no Best Of party this year, of course, but we will celebrate all the winners and nominees virtually in an online presentation at our website. We look forward to a raucous in-person celebration in 2021.


In his first clinical role at Children’s National Hospital, Ryan Maddock worked with kids with chronic kidney disease. In his current role in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, he’s discussed organ donation with parents whose children are at death’s door. So when Maddock saw his friend Paul Johnson, whom he met in 2011 through Stonewall Kickball, struggling with kidney disease, he wanted to help. Johnson, whom Maddock says often looked “awful and sick,” initially didn’t think Maddock was serious, but Maddock persisted. He says giving the “gift of life” was not a hard decision. “I understood the process,” Maddock, a 39-year-old gay Eckington resident, says. “I believe in it with all my being and heart.” Johnson doesn’t have Maddock’s kidney but his willingness to donate enabled Johnson to find a donor whom doctors thought would be a better match. A positive cross match between Maddock and Johnson meant Johnson’s body was more likely to reject Maddock’s kidney, so a pairing program was entered at Medstar Georgetown and transplant coordinators worked to find the best donor/recipient for each pair. Maddock doesn’t know who ended up with his kidney but he hopes to someday. Without Maddock’s willingness do donate, it could have been years before Johnson would have been able to find a match, Maddock says. “At first he thought I was crazy and not serious. After we were both through the evaluation process we understood each other and have a trust and love for each other,” Maddock says. “He tells me all the time how thankful he is, but I am truly grateful to be able to give him this life off of dialysis.” The surgeries happened July 14 at Medstar Georgetown. Maddock has five laparoscopic scars and one longer scar (two-and-a-half inches) on his abdomen. He says it was not traumatic and he has no after effects. His only limitation because of the donation is he cannot take certain types of anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofin.

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Although they don’t hang out as before because of the pandemic, Maddock says he and Johnson talk regularly and are both doing well. Maddock is back to work. “I don’t have anyone else in my family with kidney disease and I knew that Paul’s life on dialysis was awful and he deserved a second chance at life off of dialysis,” Maddock says. JD

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Desire Dik says when the pandemic first hit she was “freaking out like every other drag performer” about the loss of performance and income opportunity. “But after I shook it off, Red Bear still wanted to do virtual drag bingo and Extravaganza so we kept doing those — safely, of course,” Dik says. With her “day job” in teaching on hold, Dik was inspired by seeing drag performers around the country take their art online so she did the same. For now, Desiree Dik’s Oddbalel and Slash Run are virtual. She got in touch with Oddball vets and have kept it going. For her tenacity, Dik has been named this year’s Best of Gay D.C. Best Drag Queen, a title previously held by legends such as Ba’Naka, Bombalicious Eklaver and Destiny B. Childs. She’s working now on a Halloween show. Extravaganza is on hiatus for now but in its place is “Drag-livery” where drag queens pack takeout food for delivery. They go to homes and put on mini-drag shows while patrons eat their takeout. George Marius was born in Falls Church, Va., but sent to Peru at 6 months old to be raised by his sister. He lived there until age 10, went back to live with parents in Falls Church and was kicked out at age 16 for being gay. He got into drag on his 17th birthday at Freddie’s Beach Bar and said it just “made sense because I was a gay theater kid.” He tried it again a year later at a Town competition and was hooked. “It’s been very crazy but at the end of the day, drag is what I love to do and see in others,” Dik says. “It just brings me joy.” JD



Majic Dyke, a Nairobi native who came to the U.S. with their family at age 10, says a lifetime of confusion about their gender identity clicked into focus in 2017 when they started performing as a drag king and got “fully integrated” with the LGBT scene in Washington. “This is when things truly fell into place in my life,” Majic wrote in a blog post on uniteuk1.com. “I finally had the vocabulary that affirmed what I had always felt, and I finally had people around me that loved and accepted me in all my forms.” Majic identifies as non-binary and pansexual and says all pronouns are OK. Other monikers they favor are “genderqueer,” “drag king,” “go-go dancer,” “your friendly neighborhood gay boi” and “#beardsandtitties.” In a Facebook post during the nomination process, Majic campaigned openly for the award and said they were “happy as fuck to be nominated alongside my sibs.” Look for Majic on social media to find out more about performances. JD

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(Photo by Katherine Gaines/AmbientEye Photography)



Runner up: DYLAN DICKHERSON India Larelle Houston has been performing since 2005, which is her full-time work. “I got into the art form because I had a love for the performing arts and I found a way to express myself through drag,” Houston says. She’s a cast member at Chanellie’s Drag Brunch on Saturdays and a cast member at Perry’s on Sundays. She also performs at Red Bear Brewing Company and other venues in Washington and beyond. Like everyone, she’s been “greatly affected” by COVID-19 as both her drag brunches are on hiatus until Washington moves into phase three reopening. Several other venues have either closed or are not offering live entertainment. By now, her Sunday brunch is happening virtually. She had savings, which has helped stay afloat. Houston did not campaign for this award but says, “It feels absolutely wonderful to be loved and appreciated for what I do.” “It is a great honor to be chosen Best of Gay D.C.,” she says. “The gods must have had a plan for me.” JD

PRESS PASS The Washington Blade

The Washington Blade is the only LGBTQ media outlet accredited for the White House press corps. Without the Blade, LGBTQ voices and relevant news would be absent from the White House Press Briefing Room. We cannot afford to let this happen and must keep both The Washington Blade and Los Angeles Blade solvent. Please help ensure the critical freedom of the press extends to LGBTQ people. Join us in donating to the Blade Foundation or buy an ad. Vivian Mayer, Ally and Principal of Mayer & Associates, and Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s Chief Communications Officer, support LGBTQ and diverse media. Join us in ensuring all voices are heard.

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Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse 1609 17th St., N.W. anniesparamontdc.com

Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, a Washington institution since 1948, is now open for both dine-in and carry out and thanks to its outdoor patio, it has won Best Outdoor Dining, a new category for this year’s Best of Gay D.C. Awards. In early 2019, Annie’s received the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classic Award, which honors restaurants with “timeless appeal” and that serve “quality food that reflects the character of their communities.” Annie’s was only the third D.C. restaurant to earn that distinction. George Katinas and his family opened Paramount Steakhouse in 1948. Katinas hired his sister Anne “Annie” Katinas Kaylor, to work the bar. Her popularity led to the restaurant changing its name to Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse. She died in 2013. In the early years of these awards, Anne’s was a perennial favorite winning Best Overall Restaurant (2001, 2002), Tried & True (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006), Best Late Night (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012), Best Brunch (2005) and Best Steakhouse (2007, 2008). Kaylor was named Local Hero Female in 2001. The menu is hearty American food with an array of burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads available for lunch. House specials like “Bull in the Pan” (sirloin tips), basil-pine nut pesto pasta and pot roast are staples of the dinner menu. JD




Pride in the City is a new web series that will introduce online viewers to some of Capital Pride staff’s “favorite people and places” in Washington. “From bars and restaurants to cultural treasures and small businesses to local heroes who make our community proud,” Ryan Bos, Capital Pride executive director, said in an e-mail. “Along the way we’ll offer insider perspectives and the opportunity for viewers to participate in a variety of ways.” Two have been held so far: #stillweentertain on June 28 and #stillwelaugh on Aug. 9 and are available for viewing on YouTube. A third installment will be announced after the Out Brigade (a Pride motorcade through the District) on Oct. 10. One is planned before year’s end. Find out more at capitalpride.org/pride-in-the-city. JD


Trade (1410 14th St., N.W.) opened in 2015 and quickly established itself as one of the city’s most popular newer gay bars. Like everyone else, the Trade team has had a long, slow haul back to some semblance of normalcy after moving to takeout only on March 15 (digital content was created by local performance artists), opening for limited outdoor service on May 29 and limited indoor service on June 22. Although some job descriptions “evolved” due to COVID, no staff was laid off, says Aaron Riggins, marketing and programming manager (he also bartends and manages shifts). Because of capacity restrictions, business is not what it was pre-pandemic but its outdoor space has been in high demand. Reservations are recommended but walk-up tables are sometimes available. Tito’s and Soda is the most popular drink. On tap, Bud Light and Stella are the most popular. Town is owned by John Guggenmos, Ed Bailey and Chachi Boyle, the team behind the now-closed Town Danceboutique. In 2018, Trade won Best ABSOLUT Happy Hour and Best Neighborhood Bar in 2017. Trade is popular, Riggins says, because it’s “all about family.” “It’s humbling how supportive and loyal our patrons, staff and performance artists have been,” he says. “The health and well-being of our family is very important to us and we are taking the social distancing measures very seriously. We are also incredibly lucky to have an immensely talented creative family that has been helping us produce digital content while we can’t have onsite entertainment. Look out for more of the efforts as we get closer to Halloween.” JD

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Business is almost back to pre-COVID levels at gay-owned ThreeFifty Bakery but owner Jimmy Hopper and his partner Michael Graham are concerned about the coming winter months. “Things have been challenging during ThreeFifty Bakery COVID,” Graham says. “However, we worked and Coffee Bar early to develop the safest possible customer 1926 17th St., N.W. experience by utilizing the patio space for single customer ordering. We have also been extremely fortunate to have the full support of the neighborhood. … We are concerned about the fall and winter months with indoor spacing limitations.” Three Fifty, which opened in 2014, has 14 employees and says its customer base is about 30 percent LGBTQ. The most popular drink is a caramel latte and the most popular pastry is a tie between the quiche and apple zucchini bread. “It feels really great to win this honor and we are so proud to be an LGBTowned business and to have the continued support from the neighborhood, LGBT community and the District,” Graham says. Three Fifty also won Best LGBT-owned Business in the Blade poll in 2017. This win is monumental — Three Fifty dethrones Compass Coffee, which had four consecutive wins in this category through 2019. JD

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Early on in the pandemic Duplex Diner when dining inside was unheard 2004 18th St., N.W. of, Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., duplexdiner.com N.W.) got creative with takeout and curbside service. Resident drag queen Goldie Grigio worked the window and customers paid online in advance. The diner is known for its nononsense menu that features everything from broccolIni salad, meatloaf, reuben and chicken tenders to tasty cocktails like the Famous Lemon Squeeze. Owners Mark Hunker and Jeff McCracken had been regulars there since the late ‘90s and took over the Adams Morgan favorite in 2015. Manager Kelly Laczko, who’s been at the diner for eight years, keeps things running smoothly. “Things have been surprisingly good,” Laczko said in a Blade interview earlier this year. “We’ve had so much love from the community and people have been amazing. We’ve gotten a lot of support so far. We are very lucky.” JD





Editors’ Choice: ANNIE’S PARAMOUNT STEAKHOUSE Nellie’s huge outdoor rooftop space has poised it well to survive COVID and this D.C. institution soldiers on. “Things are good,” says owner Doug Schantz. “We’re missing the old normal like everybody else but things are better than expected.” Nellie’s Sports Bar Nellie’s is following all the 900 U St., N.W. nelliessportsbar.com D.C. restrictions under phase 2 reopening and is following all the usual guidelines but has moved its “streetery” seating to its rooftop. A bus stop on U Street and limited space on 9th meant the rooftop was its best option. The two open areas and eight huge windows that allow ample air circulation have allowed the popular gay sports bar to stay busy and follow guidelines. But it’s still a struggle. Schantz says 50 percent capacity figures were estimated by standing patrons so with seating, it’s more like 20 percent to remain compliant, but that, of course, is the new normal. There are currently 15 on staff, down from 40 pre-COVID. To-go cocktails — illegal pre-COVID — have proven enormously popular. Pouches are decorated with two labels — one says, “Drink your juice, Shelby” and features flavors; the other is a parody of the Campbell’s soup can but says Nellie’s Soup instead. Other cocktails, wine or beer can be purchased in 14 oz. recyclable cups with lids. One food item (a cookie, tater tots, whatever) must be purchased with each to go alcoholic beverage. All the cups, lids and straws are recyclable. Schantz says his clientele has stayed faithful and many come weekly. Weekend drag brunches are on hiatus. The huge site, which opened in 2007, has 37 TVs so it’s a great place to watch the debates, Schantz says. Nellie’s is a perennial favorite in the Best of Gay D.C. Awards. It usually wins something every year. Last year it won Best Drag Show for its brunch, in 2018 it won Best Margarita and in 2016 it won Hottest Bar Staff. JD




(Photo courtesy BYT)

Brightest Young Things was hit “incredibly hard” by COVID-19, says cofounder Svetlana Legetic, a straight ally. It required “a complete re-do of how we do things and earn our living,” she says. “There was absolutely no plan B such as relying on investors or fairy godparents,” she says. BYT bills itself as an editorial and event platform for Washington, New York and Chicago. As the world has shifted to virtual events, at least for large gatherings, BYT has pivoted offering content such as “Tips for Sober October,” “Let Our Very Own Prya Konings Be Your World Vegetarian Day Sage,” “It’s OK You Are Not OK” and more at brightestyoungthings.com. “Obviously there are no physical events or festivals, but we have seen our online engagement rise exponentially and the virtual projects we have worked on whether independently or with partners like Smithsonian … confirmed to us that the community needs that positive, quality content because it makes them feel connected to each other, even when apart, and we can’t underestimate the value of that,” Legetic says. Pre-COVID there were 12 full-time staffers; there are now four and a team of freelance contributors. While not exclusively queer, BYT was conceived as being LGBT-inclusive from its inception. brightestyoungthings.com JD

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The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington wasn’t able to have its annual Spring Affair this year because of COVID, so instead, organizers held a Summer Soiree Aug. 15, which went off without any glitches or technical issues, had 679 registered attendees and raised about $125,000 for the organization and now wins this Blade readers’ poll award. Not bad! The Chorus performed virtually and performed bits; Leslie Jordan was the celebrity guest. The Chorus’s next event is “Losing My Mind: a Celebration of Sondheim,” a virtual cabaret on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. This year’s holiday show is also online. The Chorus and its ensembles are rehearsing entirely via Zoom. JD

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Editors’ Choice: VSL HAIR DESIGN

Temperatures are taken for anyone who comes in the building, payments are totally cashless, work stations have been spread out and sanitation continues at a high level. These are just some of the changes that have allowed Logan 14 Aveda Salon & Spa to stay open amid the pandemic. “What hasn’t changed is what we do,” says Katie Rose, general manager, who has been at the Logan 14 Aveda Salon & Spa salon, which has 41 staffers, for five 1314 14th St., N.W. logan14salonspa.com years. “We service our guests and make people look and feel better about themselves.” The salon was closed from March 16-June 10 and upon reopening offered free services to health care workers nominated by customers and staff. Rose says business is not up to pre-pandemic levels and a few staff members were laid off but she says slowly things are getting busier. She says their customers, about 75 percent of whom are LGBT she guesses, have “been amazing.” “It’s been heartwarming to see the outpouring of love from our guests and how glad they are to come back in,” Rose says. This is Logan 14’s fifth consecutive win in this category, which Rose says “means the world to us.” JD



Logan Tavern 1423 P St., N.W. logantavern.com

Perhaps in these uncertain times, we don’t want something fancy and boundary pushing. Logan Tavern’s win here and its unpretentious charm — upscale but never snooty — seems to suit our 2020 sensibilities. Logan Tavern is owned and operated by EatWell DC and combines friendly prices with a hip, laid-back atmosphere. Logan is a great go-to place for delicious, un-fussy food. It’s a place where you recognize the ingredients, the flavors and the dishes you are being served. The drinks are affordable and the service is excellent with friendly and accommodating staff. It’s mostly hearty American fare. Dinner entrees like boneless southern fried chicken, crispy skin-on rockfish, crab-stuffed chile relleno and lemon ricotta gnocchi are popular staples. Logan won Best Bloody Mary in these awards in 2018 and Best Date Restaurant in 2012. JD




Good ole’ Chuck Bell, meteorologist at NBC4 since October 2004. He was runner-up last year (and also in 2015, 2016 and 2018). He also won this award in 2014 and 2012. “It’s very flattering,” he said of a previous win. “I’m pleasantly surprised that people are taking note.” He’s joined this year by his NBC4 colleague Wendy Rieger, the 2015 winner. Rieger stumbled upon broadcast journalism when she was a college dropout looking to make money as an actress. She found a job reading the news on camera in Norfolk, Va., and fell in love with the business. Bell is gay; Rieger is an ally. JD



In 2017, Mayor Bowser wore a bright yellow dress and a big smile while accepting her award for “Best D.C. Public Official” at the Blade’s Best of Gay D.C. awards. Times have changed, particularly this year, marking her fifth in office. Bowser assumed office as mayor in 2015 after previously representing Ward 4 on the D.C. City Council since 2007. A native of the region, she is the District’s second female mayor. (Photo by Lorie Shaull via Flickr) This year, Bowser helmed the District through a deadly pandemic, its devastating economic fall out and desperate calls for racial justice. A long-time supporter of D.C.’s LGBTQ community, Bowser tweeted on June 15 in response to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling protecting LGBTQ employees against workplace discrimination, “There’s more work to be done, but today we celebrate equality. Happy pride & keep fighting.” Today her smile represents the District’s resilience and her bright yellow paint sent a message of solidarity seen around the world. PVS

SMYAL has been working with LGBTQ youth for more than 35 years and its empowered leaders have been staffing tables and community organizing at events across the city. This non-profit, now known for its after-school programs, youth counseling services, and educational and training programs for youth service providers working in schools, shelters, government agencies and hospitals, began in 1984 by local professionals and activists. According to its website, SMYAL started with a conference organized to address urgent youth issues after an LGBTQ-identifying youth was hospitalized. Today SMYAL is a leader in providing support services and advocacy to youth in need of affirming care. During an especially hard year for LGBTQ youth who often look to Pride as a means to connect with others and themselves, the community recognized SMYAL as the year’s “Best Non-profit” for its efforts to maintain a sense of connection for our youth. PVS 3 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • OCTOBER 16 , 2 0 2 0

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In 2014, Bishop Allyson Abrams resigned as pastor of a small Detroit church after announcing that she had married her wife in Iowa. One year later, a Supreme Court ruling would legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S., but at the time she may have felt like she was risking everything to be with the woman she loved. She set up her ministry in the D.C. area and has remained a symbol of strength and courage ever since. “People say it’s amazing to hear a pastor say that God loves us the way we are,” Abrams told the Blade back in 2014. “I’m always going to make sure God knows them.” This year Allyson’s community supported her with a “Best Clergy” award. PVS



SMYAL has been working with LGBTQ youth for more than 35 years and its empowered leaders have been staffing tables and community organizing at events across the city. This non-profit, now known for its after-school programs, youth counseling services, and educational and training programs for youth service providers working in schools, shelters, government agencies and hospitals, began in 1984 by local professionals and activists. According to its website, SMYAL started with a conference organized to address urgent youth issues after an LGBTQ-identifying youth was hospitalized. Today SMYAL is a leader in providing support services and advocacy to youth in need of affirming care. During an especially hard year for LGBTQ youth who often look to Pride as a means to connect with others and themselves, the community recognized SMYAL as the year’s “Best Non-profit” for its efforts to maintain a sense of connection for our youth. PVS


It was a busy year for singer Pamala Stanley, the ‘80s disco star who has enjoyed a long and wildly popular residency in Rehoboth Beach, Del. In January, she announced plans to move her show from the Blue Moon to The Pines. Then the pandemic hit. Immediately, Stanley pivoted, staging virtual shows from home. Then she took the show to The Pines stage with a virtual audience of hundreds watching from the safety of home while Stanley danced and sang her heart out, taking requests online. She used the shows as fundraisers for Beebe Medical Foundation. Owners of The Pines announced Stanley’s first concert on April 26 was so successful that she would perform a virtual tea dance to benefit Beebe every Saturday until The Pines was allowed to reopen. At that first benefit, Stanley dedicated one of her biggest hits, “Coming Out of Hiding,” to all her fans who were getting restless after weeks in quarantine: “This is for everybody,” she said, “because we have been in hiding for way too long, don’t you agree?” The four-week virtual fundraisers with Stanley, Mona Lotts, and Michael Solonski brought in $19,000 for Beebe Medical Foundation to help cover expenses incurred because of the pandemic. Stanley has since resumed regular shows at The Pines, Thursday-Sunday nights while observing social distancing protocols in the large Pines venue. PVS


In June, “Queen of the Capital,” an independent documentary film about D.C. drag artist Daniel Hays’ quest as Muffy Blake Stephyns to be voted Empress of the Imperial Court of Washington in 2014, premiered at the Newseum and began the festival circuit. Today the Imperial Court of Washington D.C., is one of many LGBTQ-affirming social groups across the country and in 2011 it joined the International Imperial Court System, which began in San Francisco in 1965. This year, the community honored the Imperial Court of Washington D.C. with a “Best LGBTQ Social Group” award. PVS


Editors’ Choice: WTOP 103.5

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This top D.C. radio station not only keeps the District current on the latest hits, its Facebook page covers the gamut from celebrity break ups, weddings and pregnancies to strangely interesting stories of Instagram influencers caught using fake private jets as sets for photo shoots. During a time when everyone needed to just shut out the world and go 2015 again, Hot 99.5 earned another top spot from voters as the “Best Local TV/Radio Station.” PVS

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NATASHA CLOUD, WASHINGTON MYSTICS Runner up: SEAN DOOLITTLE, WASHINGTON NATIONALS Last year, Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud helped her team win its first WNBA championship. She’s also a vocal and public supporter for causes she believes in like ending gun violence and supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement. “Juneteenth is a day of celebration,” Cloud said during a Wizards and Mystics peaceful protest against racial injustice and police brutality. “It’s a day of liberation. It’s a day that we were finally freed from our bondage. We couldn’t think of a better day than today to come out here and come together, collectively and unified in solidarity with one another for a greater cause.” Though Cloud announced in June that she would sit out the 2020 season due to her concerns about systemic racism and the ongoing pandemic, voters recognized her excellence both on and off the court with a “Best Pro Athlete” award. PVS


(Photo courtesy RBB)

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE; courtesy Mystics)



D.C.’s popular LGBTQ-friendly night spots are an important part of the community, so TRADE tweeted on Sept. 24, “Winter is coming...and we’ll be ready” followed by a promise to provide heaters and socially distanced comfort amid an ongoing pandemic crisis. TRADE opened for business in 2015 and at the time co-owner John Guggenmos, also co-owner of Number Nine, planned for a new bar that included a dance floor and live DJs. Five years later TRADE, like other small businesses devastated by the pandemic, relies heavily on the community to keep its doors open. Similarly, Number Nine updated its website to thank the community for its support during the pandemic. “We wouldn’t be able to get through this without the support of our amazing patrons and staff. So, thank you.” PVS

NUMBER NINE 1435 P St., N.W. numberninedc.com

Red Bear Brewing Company 209 M St., N.E. redbear.beer

Back in April, when pandemic lockdowns and unemployment levels were at their worst, Red Bear Brewing’s Bryan Van Den Oever told the Blade, “We’ll see what happens when the dust settles. We’ll fight like hell until then.” Throughout the crisis, Red Bear and other popular local LGBTQ businesses like Pitchers, A League of Her Own, JR.’s, Green Lantern and others continued to fight to be a vital connection to their staff and the community, both virtually and now on a limited in-person basis. This year the community showed its appreciation for a continued dedication to beer, music and drag with a “Best Businessperson” award to Van Den Oever and the rest of Red Bear’s feisty, tenacious team for not just surviving the pandemic, but innovating and thriving, inspiring the rest of the small business community in the process. PVS


Vida is no stranger to winning this category, and staying afloat while innovating during the pandemic brought unforeseen challenges to this popular, perennial winner. They rose to that challenge, taking their award-winning fitness classes online and continuing to deliver results for clients. Multiple D.C. locations | vidafitness.com PVS



(Photo by Red Leash Photography; courtesy Zeiger)

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Dr. Robyn Zeiger has won this award several times for her work as a licensed clinical professional counselor. “You walk into a therapist’s office and you know they are also LGBT so you don’t have to explain anything,” she told the Blade upon winning this award in 2017. You don’t have to teach them. You can just be yourself and you don’t have to justify anything.” In addition to counseling, Zeiger has worked as an adjunct senior lecturer at University of Maryland. Dr. Robyn Zeiger | drrobynzeiger.com PVS

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Michael Moore won this category last year. Moore credits his success to consistent customer service, telling the Blade last year: “My career began with first-time homebuyers. In time, first-time buyers become sellers and they buy another house and they tell their friends. Now my business is almost entirely referrals and repeats. “I’m a huge proponent of staging and doing what it takes to project the property in its best light,” he says. “I try to create a situation that when a prospective buyer walks in the door, they love it, and think to themselves ‘won’t my friends be jealous when they see me living here.’” PVS

Michael Moore | Compass 1313 14th St., N.W. | compass.com

Friendship Animal Hospital | 4105 Brandywine St., N.W. PVS




As one of the top five agent groups in all of D.C., The Jenn Smira Team brings more than 50 years of combined real estate experience to each transaction. Smira and her team have cultivated a loyal network of previous clients and referrals as they empower buyers and sellers to achieve their goals. A onestop shop for all your real estate needs, Smira’s team offers an impressive range of in-house expertise — from marketing and PR, to staging and listing guidance. Smira is a previous board member of the District of Columbia Association of Realtors (DCAR), DCAR Public Policy Committee, and currently on the board of DC WISE. PVS

Jenn Smira Team | Compass 1313 14th St., N.W. | compass.com

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Runner up: AMY NELSON Ava Benach works as an immigration lawyer and is the founder and coach of DC Girls Baseball. She has written op-eds for the Blade, including a piece on the need to overcome baseball’s sexist and homophobic traditions. She’s not just a skilled professional, but an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ equality. PVS




Free for everyone — registration required Visit GMCW.org for more information Event will be ASL interpreted

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It has been a triumphant year for Roxy Overbrooke (aka Charles Bounds). Bounds had a particularly nasty time with COVID-19, contracting the disease in March. He was sick for about a month and was hospitalized in the Rehoboth area for 15 days, an experience he calls “intense, scary and life changing.” “With that said, though, everyone at Beebe Healthcare was amazing,” he told the Blade earlier this year. “I’m feeling much better now.” Bounds grew up going to Rehoboth with family and loved it for its beaches and moved there full time about 10 years ago. Bounds entered a competition 12 years ago and “caught the bug,” for drag. Now it’s his full-time work. Bounds performs as Roxy Overbrooke at the Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.), hosting bingo, karaoke, a drag show and celebrity impersonation shows. (Check bluemoonrehoboth.com for updated event schedules.) Fully recovered from COVID, Bounds continued to wow socially distanced crowds all summer with his booming voice and, of course, glittering gowns. A beautiful person inside and out, Bounds is a fighter and Roxy is a star performer.

This is Holly Lane’s third win as Best Rehoboth Bartender, taking the prize in 2014 and 2017. Normally behind the bar at Cafe Azafran with her trademark headset belting out tunes while making drinks, Lane went on hiatus for much of the year due to COVID closures. But Azafran — and Lane — are back, though not to full capacity, of course. Things are different, but Lane’s infectious kindness and bartending and singing skills keep her loyal customers coming back, no matter what.





The gay-owned Purple Parrot is a Rehoboth institution and when the pandemic hit, the bar/restaurant was well positioned for outdoor service with its popular Biergarten out back and sidewalk seating in front. It hasn’t been easy, but the indefatigable staff — especially Chandler and Jamie — maintained socially distant protocols all summer, keeping locals and tourists alike safe, fed, and happy.

Purple Parrot 134 Rehoboth Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971


Rise Up in Rehoboth is the 10th location in this regional chain, which operates in Annapolis, Cambridge, and Edgewater, among others. The cafe is located at the roundabout just as you enter town. You can’t miss the black-and-white building. Rise Up offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s even a full bar, a gorgeous live edge wood bar sits to the right of the coffee station. The 502 Bar and Rise Up offer outdoor seating and are pet friendly, a perfect option in these socially distanced times. 4 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • OCTOBER 16 , 2 0 2 0

The multi-talented Magnolia Applebottom brings her sharp wit and singing skills to the Blue Moon stage for the popular Climax show. Last year’s Best Rehoboth Drag Queen winner, Magnolia wins this new category this year amid a town full of live entertainment competition.

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The Blue Moon has won this award so many times that it’s hard to count. The iconic Moon persevered through COVID, offering its flawless, high-end menu for takeout during the spring and reopening this summer with socially distanced tables inside. A COVID silver lining this summer: You could order the full menu on the bar side while being entertained by talented NYC pianist Nate Buccieri.




Editors’ Choice: BLUE MOON

It was a rough year for Joe Ciarlante-Zuber (right) and his husband and business partner Darryl Ciarlante-Zuber. Darryl contracted COVID-19 and spent 54 days in the hospital, 34 of those in the ICU. The two own the popular Diego’s, which has a large outdoor patio space. They converted it into a beach-themed bar, complete with truckloads of sand. Joe worked hard all season, ensuring customers stayed six feet apart and taking everyone’s temperature at the door. The dedication paid off, as Diego’s resumed as a busy fixture on the summer scene. Darryl’s recovery and Joe’s perseverance proved an inspiration to the entire community.


Runner up: TANNER HOLT

Runner up: JASON ABELA

This is Lee Ann Wilkinson’s third consecutive win in this category. The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group has ranked #1 in real estate sales in Sussex County, Del., for more than 20 years and ranks #3 nationally for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices real estate network. In addition, she is a regular contributor to the Blade. Our readers know her through her informed articles on real estate trends at the Delaware beaches.

16698 Kings Hwy A. Lewes, Del. leeanngroup.com 4 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • OCTOBER 16 , 2 0 2 0

Eli Lynn elitrained.com @elitelifestyleinitiatives

Eli Lynn is owner and head trainer at Elite Lifestyle Initiatives and trains clients in the comfort of their homes. Lynn, who’s straight, specializes in functioning training, strength and conditioning training and balance training. As for his approach to new clients, he says, “First, I ask them what their goals are and if they have any previous injuries or surgeries. After one session you can tell what they need to work on and what needs to improve.” Lynn says COVID has forced him to train some clients through FaceTime, but the pandemic has also helped his business grow, “because no one wants to work out at a gym so me coming to their house and training them in their own home, everyone feels safer to work out that way.” As for his advice for those who have gained weight during COVID: “I tell them that everyone is in the same spot as them and what matters the most is you’re here and starting to work out. Everyone has different ways of dealing with COVID and you already took a huge step forward by hiring me and helping you get back in shape.”





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Long & Foster Real Estate Park Potomac 12500 Park Potomac Ave Suite 101S Potomac, Maryland 20854



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$749,900 5511 Colorado Ave, NW, #501, Washington, DC 20011 Rare Find!!! Fabulous 2700 SF Penthouse with secured elevator access directly into unit. Additional 2700 SF spectacular private rooftop access with panoramic views of the city!! Full-sized gourmet kitchen opens to spacious family room. Separate Airy DR/LR. Oversized windows and HW floors throughout. 3 Bedrooms with en suite bathroom. Owner's bath boasts heated floor/towel rack and Jacuzzi Tub. Separate laundry room with full sized W/D. Covered reserved parking and additional storage unit included. One block from Rock Creek Park. Close to Petworth and 14th Street shops & restaurants. Near 2 Metro Stops. Walkability Score of 81. AGENT BONUS- $7500 w/ Full Price Offer!!! BUYER BONUS- Seller will pay 1 yr of Monthly Condo Fees!!!


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Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. If your property is listed with another broker, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing.

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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.


By Parker Purifoy

Saturday, October 17

The LGBTQ People of Color Support Group will meet at 1 p.m. to provide an outlet for LGBTQ people of color to talk about anything affecting them. For the Zoom link to the meeting, email supportdesk@thedccenter.org. Gay District is meeting at 8 p.m. today via Zoom. Gay District is a community-based organization focused on building understanding of gay culture and personal identity for LGBTQ+ men between the ages of 18 and 35. To ask for the Zoom URL, email supportdesk@dccenter.org 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. 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.

(Washington Blade photo by Chris Jennings)

Sunday, October 18

LGBT individuals through community outreach, education, and monitoring cases to ensure that the rights and dignity of LGBT victims are respected and protected. More details can be found at thedccenter.org/events. The Coming Out Discussion Group holds 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 DC Center and Beta Kappa Chapter of the Beta Phi Omega Sorority are leading a Black Lesbian Support Group session today at 1 p.m. Attendees do not need to be members of the sorority to join. The information to join the Zoom session can be found at thedccenter.org/events.


Monday, October 19

The DC Center hosts 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. 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.

Tuesday, October 20

KushDC is holding a game night at 7 p.m. KhushDC is a social, educational, and advocacy community organization for South Asian LGBTQ people in the DC metro area. Information for the Zoom session can be found on thedccenter.org/events.

Wednesday, October 21

There will be a virtual Bi Roundtable Discussion at 7 p.m. today, held by The Center Bi. The discussion is intended for attendees to talk about issues related to bisexuality or talk as bisexual individuals in a private setting. Details can be found at thedccenter.org/events and on The Center Bi’s social media pages. Book Men DC is an informal group of men who are interested in both fictional and nonfictional gay literature. They are hosting a meeting today at 7:30 p.m. Attendees do not need to officially join the group or commit to read every book. More information can be found at thedccenter.org/events. 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, October 22

The DC Center hosts an open meeting of the DC Anti-Violence Project at 7 p.m. via Zoom. The primary mission of the DC Anti-Violence Project is to reduce violence against 5 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • OCTOBER 16 , 2 0 2 0 • A &E

FreeState Justice debuts LGBTQ book club Join FreeState Justice on Oct. 25 for the first meeting of their new LGBTQ book club. For this first meeting, Legal Director at FreeState Justice C.P. Hoffman will lead a discussion on Martin Duberman’s “Has the Gay Movement Failed?”, which examines how the LGBTQ liberation movement went from radical and intersectional to moderate and mainstream. All meetings of the book club will be held virtually until further notice and registration can be found at the organization’s website. FreeState Justice is a legal advocacy organization that seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQ people in Maryland.

Join City Center NOVA for Halloween scavenger hunt For $50, groups can register with City Center NOVA to go on a scavenger hunt through D.C.’s landmarks. Participants will explore the city’s history, learn secrets, mingle with “resident spirits” and work through brain teaser challenges. For those who don’t want to physically venture out into the city, there is also a virtual option that can be completed from home. The scavenger hunt will be on Oct. 16 from 5-10 p.m. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the organization, which seeks to create an inclusive community in Northern Virginia by advocating for affordable and equitable housing. To register and to find more information, head to the organization’s website.

Taste and Shop Georgetown comes to a close This week is the last week of Taste and Shop Georgetown, a three-week celebration of local cuisine and small businesses. This year’s event is free but participants are encouraged to consider making donations to the Georgetown Ministry Center’s mission to end homelessness. The event is featuring promotion specials, discounts, and low-cost parking and goes through Oct. 25. Participating restaurants include brunch spots, bars, and family diners. There are also participating retail stores, salons, and boutiques. For a full list of restaurants and companies, go to gerogetowndc.com.


FOR SALE: 402 Emerson St NW

Washington, DC 20011

$850,000 | 4 BD | 4 BA | 1320 SQ FT

Completely renovated bright and modern home on a quiet street featuring large living spaces, expensive upgrades, astroturf backyard, 2 car off street parking, 3BR upstairs, and a large walk out basement with bedroom, living space, and bar. This home was completely renovated & rebuilt four short years ago and offers incredible value. Main level features an open floor plan, on trend kitchen with white cabinets & breakfast bar, large living and dining spaces, and an exposed brick wall. Upstairs you will find a master suite with soaring ceilings, upstairs laundry, spacious secondary bedrooms, and an additional full bath. The lower level features a large living space, full size bedroom, walk out to the backyard, and a pantry bar for storage. Virtual Tour & More Information: 402emersonstnw.com

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Licensed in DC, MD, & VA VA. If you are already working with an agent this is not meant to solicit your business.

145 Church St., NW Vienna, VA 22180

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A vote for eco-friendly rides

wo fine reen machines in the scape eaf By JOE PHILLIPS

While it’s important this year to work with family and friends to help get out the vote, I’ve also needed the occasional distraction. hat s wh test drivin cars has been a welcome reprieve uc il the two reen machines below turned out to be fine diversions What better way to escape all the political pandemonium than, well, in a Ford Escape? This year marks the return of the hybrid version, as well as the debut of a plug-in hybrid. What’s more, this compact crossover has been fully redesigned, with all the poise and pluck of a Porsche Macan. While the Macan may be twice as fast—and twice the price—the Escape Hybrid has a 200-hp engine that is still fairly quick. Precise steering is a plus, as is the sturdy suspension that translates into almost no body roll. Inside, the front seats are comfortable but not exactly snug. Tasteful gauges and controls are easy to use, including an 8.0-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. As for cargo capacity, a small lithium-ion battery pack takes up a bit of rear-seat legroom but still leaves plenty of space. While it does take a few jujitsu-like maneuvers to fold the rear seats completel at this is a minor uibble Two trim levels are available, both with keyless entry, pushbutton start, heated seats and smartphone integration. For a $5,000 premium, the high-end Titanium level adds lots of extras: ambient lighting, hands-free liftgate, 10-speaker Band & Olufsen stereo, rain-sensing windshield wipers and more. You can even splurge on a panoramic sunroof and head-up display, though the price tag will start to hit $40,000. But at least those hybrid fuel savings will help offset some of the cost. ith all the hoopla surroundin ash hi h end electric vehicles like the Audi e-Tron, Jaguar I-Pace or any Tesla model, it’s easy to underestimate the Nissan Leaf. Yet this subcompact has been a tough competitor ever since it was introduced 10 years ago. Back then, the paltry 73-mile range caused battery anxiety every time I slid behind the steering wheel. But the range on this EV has been doubled, thanks to improved technology and a more aerodynamic desi n includin sculpted headli hts that de ect wind from the side mirrors. With the new Leaf Plus model, there’s an even more powerful motor and larger battery pack to extend the range to an impressive 226 miles. While the Leaf Plus adds $6,550 to the sticker price, it also comes with a fast-charging port and upgraded stereo, nav system and adaptive cruise control. But even a base-model Leaf comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as safety features like lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitor and collision warning with emergency braking.


322 MASS. AVE. NE • 202.543.7656

FORD ESCAPE HYBRID $29,000 Mpg: 43 city/37 highway 0 to 60 mph: 8.7 seconds

NISSAN LEAF $32,000 Range: 150 to 226 miles Options include LED headlights, surround-view camera, 0 to 60 mph: 8.4 seconds heated seats and heated steering wheel. Sadly, the back seats don t fold at and there s no telescopin steerin wheel ome contenders also offer more features and a lon er ran e though often for a price. Overall, the Leaf seems like something George Jetson would drive, from the almost cartoonish styling to the high-pitched whirring motor. There’s also a geeky e-Pedal driving system, which allows the driver to speed up, slow down and even stop the vehicle using only the accelerator pedal. This makes for a rad ride, especially when tackling twisty switchbacks or weavin throu h commuter traffic hen there s the ProPilot semi autonomous feature which eeps the car centered in its own lane and automatically brakes/restarts in any kind of gridlock. There are other practical reasons to buy a Leaf, such as Nissan’s renowned reliability and a warranty that covers the battery for up to eight years or 100,000 miles. But as far as EVs go, the Leaf gets my vote because it’s fun and playful.


Developing skilled & independent thinkers. GRADES 6-12 | WASHINGTON, DC | CO-ED & INDEPENDENT



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Reel Affirmations continues virtually amid pandemic

Festival to showcase dozens of LGBTQ films online


‘These stories are absolutely 100 percent real, need to be told, need to be seen, need to be talked about,’ said festival director KIMBERLEY BUSH. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Like almost every other organization in the region, The D.C. Center has been forced to adapt its programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite the virus, the Reel Affirmations film festival is ready to showcase dozens of LGBTQ films, albeit virtually. Reel Affirmations, an international LGBTQ film festival organized by The D.C. Center, will continue with its five-day schedule featuring 60 films from 15 countries on four continents. The films include comedies, dramas, romances, and documentaries in both feature length and short formats. The festival starts Oct. 21 and will include virtual and drive-in screenings along with virtual Q&A’s with directors of some films. Kimberley Bush, acting executive director of The D.C. Center and film festival director, said they made the decision to close the center in mid-March when the virus began to hit the city. After they moved the organization’s monthly film screenings online, Bush said they knew they had to shift the festival to the same format. “It is challenging to not be in brick and mortar to actually physically connect to our LGBTQ siblings but our team has been able to successfully move just about all of our programs, support/peer groups, mental health counseling, events, etc. to the virtual world,” Bush said in an emailed statement. Bush started working with Reel Affirmations in the 1990s as a volunteer and then rose to become festival director before joining the festival with The D.C. Center in 2014. Those who wish to watch the films can pay for them individually or purchase different bundled packages on Reel Affirmation’s website. The feature length films include “Tahara,” a queer, coming-of-age drama set in Rochester, N.Y., about a Black queer Jewish teen girl who is manipulated into a romantic encounter with her best friend during the funeral service of their former Hebrew school classmate. Also featured is “Out Loud,” which chronicles the first season of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, the largest choir of transgender and gender nonconforming people in the world. “These stories are absolutely 100 percent real, need to be told, need to be seen, need to be talked about, cried about, laughed at, introspectively ingested and digested, and above all embraced,” Bush said in their statement. The festival begins the process of selecting films in January by putting out an open call for LGBTQ films from all over the world. The organization’s curation team then spends months narrowing the submissions to get the final lineup. This year presented a particular opportunity to showcase films about and by LGBTQ people of color because of the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Bush said. “With the current political and social climate, our desire to [showcase LGBTQ creators of color and their films] is even stronger and more necessary because it is often that our LGBTQ siblings are still left out of the global conversation except when it is to strip away human rights or report yet another horribly tragic death,” they said. “It’s integral that the community has the opportunity to see and hear our lives and our stories. With this, change can come.” Despite the challenges of putting the festival together remotely, Bush said they are excited to still be putting it on for the community. “It is important to be able to proclaim we are still here and we still have stories to tell that are game changing, vibrant, provocative, deeply resonating, at times emotionally jarring, humorous but most of all human,” they said. “It is also important to continue to support and provide a venue for our LGBTQ creatives to have an outlet for their life’s work and to honor and celebrate them during such disconnected and extraordinarily challenging times in our lives.” A &E • OCTO B ER 1 6 , 2 0 2 0 • O CTO B ER 1 6 , 2 0 2 0 • 5 5

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Don’t miss these 2 books from award-winning queer writers

Diaz, Shapland pen unforgettable poetry, nonfiction By KATHI WOLFE

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Often, you enjoy a book. But it’s as ethereal as a lovely snowflake. After a month, you forget about it. That’s not the case with two unforgettable books by queer authors that are among this year’s National Book Awards finalists. Natalie Diaz, a queer, Native American poet is a finalist in poetry for “Postcolonial Love Poem” and queer writer Jenn Shapland is a finalist in nonfiction for “My Autobiography of Carson McCullers.” The winners of the distinguished award will be announced in a virtual ceremony on Nov. 18. Winners of the prestigious prize will receive $10,000; finalists will receive $1,000. Neither Diaz’s or Shapland’s book – one a searing volume of poetry, the other an arresting memoir – will slip out of your mind. Each volume will leave you questioning and pondering yourself, identity, erasure and history. “Postcolonial Love Poem” is Diaz’s second poetry collection. Her first poetry collection “When My Brother Was an Aztec,” was an American Book Award winner. Diaz, who is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe, has received many honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship. She is the By Natalie Diaz Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and c.2020, Graywolf Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. $16/105 pages Poetry is of the body – the body personal, the body political and the body historical. Rarely has this been more true than in “Postcolonial Love Poem.” Diaz’s poetry speaks eloquently and vividly of desire. “Haven’t they moved like rivers/like glory, like light/over the seven days of your body?” she writes in the poem “These Hands, If Not Gods,” “And wasn’t that good?/Them at your hips/isn’t this what God felt when he pressed together/the first Beloved: Everything.” The narrator of Diaz’s poems knows that desire is often intermingled with worry, anxiety and sleeplessness. She uses striking imagery to evoke desire and the night. “Insomnia is like spring that way – surprising/and many petaled,” Diaz writes in the poem “From the Desire Field,” “the kick and leap of gold grasshoppers at my brow/I am stuck in the witched hours of want/I want her green life.” The volume is a stirring indictment of injustice and erasure. “Police kill Native Americans more/ than any other race,” Diaz writes in the poem “American Arithmetic.” “I’m not good at math–can you blame me?/I’ve had an American education,” she adds with incisive irony later in the poem. “Postcolonial Love Poem” is the most provocative, compelling poetry collection I’ve read in eons. Check it out. In her memoir “My Autobiography of Carson McCullers,” her first book, writer Jenn Shapland explores erasure and identity. Carson McCullers, who lived from 1917 to 1967 and is best known for her novel “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” and her novel (as well as its adaptation for the stage) “The Member of the Wedding,” is an iconic writer, playwright and poet. Yet, in biographies and literary history, her queerness has been largely erased. In her genredefying book (part memoir, part biography), Shapland examines and illumines both McCullers’ and her own identity, queerness, memory, obsession and love. Her nonfiction has been published A D V E in R “Tin T I SHouse,” I N G “Essay P R O Daily” O F and other publications. Shapland won the 2019 Rabkin Foundation Award for art journalism, and her essay “Finders, Keepers” won a 2017 Pushcart Prize. She teaches as an adjunct in creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. When Shapland was a graduate student, she discovered intimate letters that McCullers wrote to a woman named Annemarie. As she uncovers the letters, she becomes obsessed not only with how history has erased McCullers’ queerness but with how queer women’s love stories are told. In short, evocative, incisive chapters, Shapland questions: Why have queer women had to (even ADVERTISER SIGNATURE now) tell their stories in a way that fits straight narratives? Why have we had to be ourselves – By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contract obligations with the washington blade newspaper. This includes but is not limited to placement, navigate in hetero spaces? As she struggles with her own sexuality, Shapland wonders what payment and insertion schedule. McCullers’ secrets and legacy will reveal to her about herself. “To tell another person’s story,” Shapland writes, “a writer must make that person some version of herself, must find a way to inhabit her.” “My Autobiography of Carson McCullers” is an absorbing, revealing story of queer history and identity.

‘Postcolonial Love Poem’

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September brings sales slowdown for certain home types Not all sectors of D.C. market living up to the hype By MARC ROSS

Sales of certain types of homes slowed considerably in September.

“The housing market is roaring right now.” “Home prices climb to record high in pandemic as buyers seek space.” “2020: the summer of booming home sales.” As you might have noticed, these are the types of headlines that have been dominating our news feeds across the nation and in Washington, D.C. And without a doubt, this year did mark a sizable shift in home buying needs as consumers adjusted to our “new normal” pandemic reality. Some trends at the forefront of this unprecedented moment in real estate? More emphasis on space—space to spread out, to be outside, and to work from home—as well as the return of suburban allure. In D.C., we experienced a delayed spring market that ramped up in June and only started showing signs of slowing toward the end of August. During this timeframe, multiple offers were prevalent for homes of many shapes and sizes—from the attached townhouse downtown to the detached single-family home in the suburbs. In short, the news of our increasingly competitive landscape was spot on—at least in some areas of the market throughout this time. Once September came to a close, though, everything changed. Since then, there’s been a noticeable pause in the demand for specific housing types. Condos are now collecting days on market. The luxury townhouses downtown are seeing only a trickle of showings. Agents are moving to make quick price modifications while inventory sits unsold. The question remains: What is the catalyst for this deceleration? Is it simply post Labor Day inventory lingering? Is it COVID? Social and economic instability? Or perhaps the shift in buyer demands? And with the added pressure of an election on the horizon, there’s no shortage of factors that could account for the current market

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state. The bottom line, though, is that not all sectors of our diverse housing market in Washington, D.C. (and its surrounding areas) are currently living up to the media hype. Over the past few months, one thing has become abundantly clear to us Realtors: gone are the days of relying on historical data to guide the clients we serve. We’ve officially entered unchartered territory, with agents reimagining what it means to buy and sell real estate during a worldwide pandemic. As Realtors, we are first and foremost trusted advisers to our clients. These days, our best advice may change from week to week, but our mission should always remain constant: to empower buyers and sellers with information—no matter how suddenly new developments unfold, or how uncertain things may seem. Although we’re living through unprecedented times, I have faith most of all in the spirit and resilience of our city. In my experience, cities always bounce back—especially those like D.C., with so many opportunities and advantages to offer. I believe that when D.C. fully opens up and the worst is behind us, people will once again flock to walkable neighborhoods where convenience is a way of life. Until that day, knowledge is power. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or just stay informed, having a Realtor you can count on has never been quite as important as it is right now.

Marc Ross

is a vice president and real estate agent licensed in D.C. awarded among the Top 50 Large Real Estate Teams in America as reported by The Wall Street Journal with the Jenn Smira Team at Compass Real Estate. Reach him at 202-487-0000 or marc@compass.com.

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