A shot of hope
COVID vaccine arrives, but who will get it and when? PAGE 08
DECEMBER 18, 2020 • VOLUME 51 • ISSUE 51 • WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
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Lesbian joins historic all-woman slate of D.C. electors Helmick, two others cast ballots for Biden-Harris ticket By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | firstname.lastname@example.org
D.C. statehood advocate Barbara Helmick, an out lesbian and Democratic Party activist, cast separate votes on Monday, Dec. 14, for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for president and vice president as part of D.C.’s first-ever allwoman slate of presidential electors. Helmick and fellow Democrats and community activists Meedie Bardonille and Jacqueline Constance Echavarria each cast their ballots for Biden and Harris as one of the three presidential electors allocated to D.C. in presidential elections as part of the Electoral College. The voting took place in a ceremony at the city’s Walter Washington Convention Center. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser presided over the ceremony and the voting. “This is the first time in D.C. history that we have had three female electors,” said D.C. Democratic Party Chair Charles BARBARA HELMICK cast Wilson, who spoke at the ceremony. “And we are so proud her votes on Dec. 14 for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for to do this in the 100th year anniversary of the women’s president and vice president. suffrage movement,” Wilson told the gathering. “We truly couldn’t have picked three better electors.” Helmick became the first lesbian to be selected as a D.C. presidential elector this year by the D.C. Democratic Party, which selects Democratic electors. The late gay Democratic activist Jeff Coudriet served as a D.C. presidential elector in 1996. Helmick and her fellow electors cast their votes on the same day that presidential electors in all 50 states convened to vote in their respective state capitals in keeping with the Electoral College system created under the U.S. Constitution. Based on the outcome of the popular vote in each of the states and D.C., the Biden-Harris ticket was expected to receive a total of 306 electoral votes, including D.C.’s three electoral votes. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were expected to receive 232 electoral votes, a development ensuring that Biden and Harris had emerged as winners of the 2020 presidential election. During the voting, Bowser called on each of the three women electors to verbally announce the two candidates for whom they voted, first for president and then for vice president. “Meedie Bardonille, for whom did you vote?” the mayor called out. “Joseph Biden,” Bardonille replied. “Barbara Helmick, for whom did you vote,” Bowser continued. “Joseph Biden,” Helmick shouted. “Jacqueline Constance Echavarria, for whom did you vote?” said Bowser. “Joseph R. Biden Jr.,” Echavarria replied. Bowser repeated the process for vice president, and Democratic candidate Kamala Harris, the U.S. senator from California, emerged as the unanimous winner, with Helmick and the other two electors announcing in a loud voice they voted for Harris. “Thanks to the 23rd Amendment, passed in 1961, I had the privilege and honor to cast one of D.C.’s three votes for president and vice president of the United States,” Helmick told the Washington Blade. She was referring to the constitutional amendment that assigned three presidential electors to D.C., making D.C. the only jurisdiction other than a state to be a part of the Electoral College. “Today is a day for celebration,” Helmick said. “For electing our first woman VP. For D.C. selecting the first gay woman elector. For the people of D.C. having a voice in the highest office of the land.” Bowser noted that Monday’s electoral vote marked the 15th convening of D.C.’s Electoral College since the city was awarded three electoral votes through the constitutional amendment. “We know so much has happened this year, including the very first vote in Congress in favor of D.C. statehood,” the mayor said. “It is my hope that four years from now we cast our vote as the 51st state.” D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who also spoke at the event, said the 2020 presidential and congressional elections took place after the U.S. House voted in an historic first to approve a D.C. statehood bill that she introduced last year. She said that while the bill has yet to come up for a vote in the Republican controlled Senate, she was hopeful that with 42 Senate co-sponsors the bill could have a shot at passing next year. Other speakers at the Dec. 14 D.C. Electoral College meeting were D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large); D.C. Secretary of State Kimberly Bassett, who presided over part of the event; and Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of the African-American Studies Program at Princeton University. Glaude provided a historical perspective of the Electoral College, noting that it was created as a compromise by the framers of the Constitution at the insistence of representatives of slave-owning states who were fearful of a popular vote for president. 0 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • DECEMBER 1 8 , 2 0 2 0 • LO CA L NE WS
D.C. Council approves bill banning LGBTQ panic defense
Measure also strengthens city hate crimes law By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | email@example.com
D.C. Council member CHARLES ALLEN (D-Ward 6) helped shepherd the panic defense bill through a public hearing and its final draft.
The D.C. Council on Tuesday, Dec. 15, voted unanimously to give final approval of a bill that bans the use of the so-called gay and transgender panic defense in criminal trials. A coalition of local LGBTQ advocacy groups that lobbied for the legislation said it is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity or gender expression is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder. The attorneys have argued that their clients “panicked” after discovering the person against whom they committed a violent crime was gay or transgender, prompting them to act in a way
they believed to be a form of self-defense. At least eight states, including New York and California, have passed similar legislation banning the gay and trans panic defense. The bill approved by the Council, the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, also revises the city’s hate crimes law by clarifying that hatred need not be the sole motivating factor for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or threats. LGBTQ supportive prosecutors and legal observers have said the wording in D.C.’s existing hate crimes law – similar to hate crimes laws in other cities and states – has confused juries by appearing to require that prosecutors prove that hatred was the only motive behind a crime rather than one of several other possible motives. The “sole” motive factor, which some judges have interpreted D.C.’s hate crimes law to require, has resulted in juries finding defendants not guilty of a hate crime, even when evidence of a hate crime was considered strong and convincing, according to legal observers. The bill approved by the D.C. Council this week adds a provision to the existing law that states, “A designated act need not solely be based on or because of an accused’s prejudice.” The Maryland Legislature earlier this year approved a bill making a similar change to Maryland’s hate crimes statute. And a bill is pending in Congress calling for making a similar change to the federal hate crimes law. The Evangelista-Hunter bill passed by the D.C. Council on Tuesday makes a separate change to the city’s existing hate crimes law by authorizing the D.C. Attorney General to bring a civil lawsuit seeking damages against organizations, corporations, and individuals who commit a hate crime against a D.C. resident. Among other remedies the new provision provides civil damages for victims of up to $10,000 per hate crimes act. In addition, the legislation expands the types of properties in the city where it is illegal to display a symbol of hate or to deface a property based on religious or secular uses. D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), chair of the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, which shepherded the bill through a public hearing and its final draft, said the provision related to properties was especially relevant following last weekend’s violent acts by white nationalist protesters, who destroyed property at several D.C. African-American churches. Allen said D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), Council member David Grosso (I-AtLarge), D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser played a role in helping to develop the legislation. The legislation is named after Bella Evangelista, a transgender woman who was shot to death on a D.C. street in 2003 by a 23-year-old man; and after Tony Randolph Hunter, a gay man who died from a head injury sustained from a fall after witnesses said he was attacked and assaulted by a 20-year-old man while walking to a gay bar in 2008. The men charged in the two cases attempted to use the panic defense after their arrests. The bill will now go to Mayor Bowser, who has said she will sign the measure, sending it to Capitol Hill for the required 30 legislative day review by Congress. The D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s Rainbow Caucus, which includes LGBTQ elected ANC members from across the city, issued a statement on Tuesday saying it is “both pleased and gratified” that the Council voted unanimously to ban the gay and trans panic defense and strengthen the city’s hate crimes law. “It is heartening that this necessary legislation also includes provisions strengthening protections and legal recourse against other hate crimes,” the statement says. “The horrific events of the past weekend, including the defiling of our beloved historic Houses of Worship, provide another reminder that we must all stand united against hate and must use the full force of the law to prosecute all hate crimes,” the statement continues. “This battle is not over. We thank the Council for their action today, as we all reaffirm our vow that hate has no place in the District of Columbia.”
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Whitman-Walker to dispense coronavirus vaccine First doses arrive in D.C.; ofﬁcials express hope for easing of pandemic By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | firstname.lastname@example.org
for COVID complications, were also expected to be Whitman-Walker Health, D.C.’s community health included in Phase 1B. center with a special outreach to LGBTQ people and The ﬁnal phase, Phase 2, was expected to include the people with HIV, plans to administer the coronavirus general public. But ofﬁcials with the D.C. Department vaccine in alignment with ofﬁcial D.C. Public Health of Health have said the wide-scale dispensing of the guidelines, according to Dr. Sarah Henn, Whitmanvaccine for the general public was not expected to Walker’s Chief Health Ofﬁcer. take place until the spring at the earliest. Henn said Whitman-Walker will initially prioritize Bowser and Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the its vaccine availability to health care workers to be D.C. Department of Health, have said the ﬁrst supply followed by D.C. residents who are patients at its of 6,825 doses of the vaccine the city received this health centers who are considered to be at high-risk week from the federal government was insufﬁcient. for COVID-19 and its associated illnesses. Nesbitt noted that most of the city’s nearly 85,000 “As the vaccine becomes more available, Whitmanhealthcare workers live in Maryland and Virginia and Walker will work with the Maryland and Virginia health commute to their jobs, many at hospitals in D.C. departments to ensure that our indicated, high-risk Federal ofﬁcials reportedly calculated the number patients who reside in those states will also have Mayor Muriel Bowser said the ﬁrst supply of 6,825 doses of the vaccine the city received this week from the federal government was insufﬁcient. of Phase 1 doses for D.C. based on the number of city access to the vaccine,” Henn said in a statement. (Blade ﬁle photo) residents and didn’t account for the large number of “Whitman-Walker is contracted with the city to healthcare workers that reside in the suburbs but work dispense the COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with in D.C. frontline health care facilities such as hospitals. CDC and D.C. Health guidelines, and we will procure additional vaccines through our Six D.C. healthcare facilities, ﬁve of which are hospitals, are receiving this week’s normal channels once the vaccine is more widely available,” she said. ﬁrst shipment of vaccine doses. They include George Washington University Hospital, News of Whitman-Walker’s plans to dispense the vaccine came one day after D.C., Georgetown Hospital, Children’s Medical Center, Howard University Hospital, and the Maryland, and Virginia joined nearly all states across the country in launching a massive Kaiser Permanente healthcare facilities. vaccination program that began with limiting the vaccine to front-line healthcare “We expect to receive our ﬁrst doses of the vaccine in the following weeks, but workers, ﬁrst responders, and residents and employees at nursing homes. this timeline is dependent on updates from the CDC and the status and quantity of At a news conference on Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined other city ofﬁcials its shipments,” Whitman-Walker’s Henn told the Blade. “With D.C. receiving just under in expressing hope that the launching of the vaccination program would mark the 7,000 doses this week, hospital workers were ﬁrst in line for this batch of the vaccine,” beginning of a major turning point to reverse the harmful impact the COVID pandemic she said. has had on D.C. residents and community-based businesses. “Once we do receive doses of the vaccine at Whitman-Walker, they will be available Under an ofﬁcial D.C. vaccination plan adopted earlier this year based on guidelines at both our Max Robinson Center in historic Anacostia and our 1525 14th Street, N.W. from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this week’s efforts were health center,” Henn said. part of the plan’s Phase 1A, which calls for limiting vaccinations to healthcare workers, Earlier this year, Whitman-Walker, under Henn’s direction, opened respiratory clinics ﬁrst responders such as Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel, at two of its facilities to test and treat patients for COVID. and nursing home residents and staff. At the time Whitman-Walker opened its respiratory clinics earlier this year to treat The plan’s next phase, Phase 1B, calls for making as many doses of the vaccine that COVID patients, Henn said the risk of people with HIV who are receiving standard care become available for people of all ages with underlying conditions such as respiratory treatment to control their HIV is not signiﬁcantly greater than the general public for or cardiovascular ailments and those with weakened immune systems due to organ contracting or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. transplants or cancer chemotherapy. Seniors, who are also considered at higher risk
Lesbian to be sworn in as Anne Arundel police chief
Amal Awad, a 27-year veteran police ofﬁcer in Prince George’s County who in January 2019 became the ﬁrst black, female, and openly LGBTQ Chief of Police in Hyattsville, Md., was scheduled to be sworn in on Dec. 17 as the new Anne Arundel County Chief of Police. Her swearing in was to take place after the Anne Arundel County Council voted unanimously on Dec. 7 to conﬁrm her nomination to the police chief’s position by County Executive Steuart Pittman, making her once again the ﬁrst woman, person of color, and out member of the LGBTQ community to hold that position. “I am honored and humbled that County Executive Pittman has asked me to serve as Anne Arundel County’s next Chief of Police,” Awad said at the time her appointment was announced. “I have dedicated more than half of my life to this noble profession, and I thank Mr. Pittman for selecting me to lead this professional police department during this pivotal moment in modern policing,” she said. A statement about her career background released at the time she became police chief in Hyattsville says she began her career as a Prince George’s County police ofﬁcer at the District 1 Station in Hyattsville. She joined the P.G. department after receiving a master’s degree in
management from John Hopkins University, where she graduated with honors. According to the statement, she worked her way up the ranks in the department, holding the positions of district commander and major in the Ofﬁce of the Chief before she retired. It says she came out of retirement in 2017 to join the Hyattsville Police Department to serve as captain, the department’s number two position. In 2018 she was named Interim Police Chief following the retirement of the then current chief. And less than a year later, in January 2019, Awad became permanent chief of the Hyattsville department. At the time the Anne Arundel County Council conﬁrmed her appointment as chief of that department earlier this month, all Council members spoke out about what they considered to be her exemplary qualiﬁcations for the position. Located within Anne Arundel County is the city of Annapolis, the state capital. LOU CHIBBARO JR.
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AMAL AWAD was scheduled to be sworn in on Dec. 17 as the new Anne Arundel County Chief of Police.
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PETE BUTTIGIEG has been tapped to become transportation secretary. (Blade photo by Michael Key)
Biden taps Buttigieg for Transportation secretary
Would be first out gay confirmed by Senate to Cabinet post By CHRIS JOHNSON
Pete Buttigieg, who made history in the 2020 primary before dropping out and endorsing Joe Biden, has won the nod to become the first openly gay person to take a Cabinet post that requires Senate confirmation, the Washington Blade has confirmed. Buttigieg, who previously served as mayor of South Bend, Ind., is set to be nominated for transportation secretary. CNN was first to report the news. Amid media reports in Axios, CNN and the Daily Beast that Buttigieg was in contention for the job, a Democratic insider told the Blade Buttigieg was heavily lobbying the transition team for the role. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also “leaned in heavily” to promote Buttigieg to become transportation secretary, a Democratic insider told the Blade. The two bonded during preparations for the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City when Buttigieg stood in for Mike Pence, the Democratic insider said. The news comes after the Blade reported last week some in the LGBTQ community were unhappy with LGBTQ movement leaders for not being more vocal in calling for the nomination of an openly LGBTQ Cabinet secretary. After all, other minority groups, including Black and Latino leaders, were more openly pushing for Cabinet appointments and getting key appointments as a result, unlike the LGBTQ community as of last week. At the same time, Buttigieg had been turning down roles in Biden’s Cabinet. Buttigieg told Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, he wouldn’t pursue the role of secretary of veterans affairs despite media speculation he was in contention for the job, according to two Democratic sources. One Democratic insider said Buttigieg rejected the role of director of Office of Management & Budget, and said he wanted a position in the “real Cabinet” and not a “staff-level” job. Buttigieg had previously sought the position of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, but the nomination ended up going to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Foreign Service officer with years of experience. Annise Parker, CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, hailed the news Buttigieg would be nominated as transportation secretary as “a new milestone in a decades-long effort to ensure LGBTQ people are represented throughout our government.” “It distances our nation from a troubled legacy of barring out LGBTQ people from government positions and moves us closer to the president-elect’s vision of a government that reflects America,” Parker said. “As an out LGBTQ person, Pete will bring a unique perspective that will inform and influence policy throughout the federal government. Most important, however, is that Pete will bring his intellect and energy to the Department of Transportation and our nation will be better off because of it.” The Biden transition team didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article. Despite the historic first Buttigieg is set to achieve, he won’t be the first openly gay person to serve as a Cabinet official. That distinction belongs to Richard Grenell, who was acting director of national intelligence during the Trump administration before he resigned and became the face LGBTQ outreach for the Trump campaign. Grenell, however, never won Senate confirmation for the acting DNI job, even 1 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • DECEMBER 1 8 , 2 0 2 0 • NAT I O NA L NE WS
though the chamber approved him for his concurrent role as U.S. ambassador to Germany. Buttigieg, therefore, will have the distinction of being the first openly gay person confirmed by the Senate for a Cabinet-level position, provided he win Senate confirmation. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who supported Buttigieg during the Democratic primary, hailed news the former candidate was selected to become transportation secretary as “a brilliant and historic appointment.” “President-elect Joe Biden has again shown his commitment to diversity and made history with the first-ever nomination of an openly gay American to lead a Cabinet department,” Beyer said. “As Secretary Foxx and others have demonstrated previously, local elected leaders understand transportation from the most important perspective: That last mile to your home or business. Pete Buttigieg’s leadership and work to spark investment helped bring about a renaissance in South Bend.” On the campaign trail, Buttigieg had expressed a desire for overhauling the nation’s infrastructure. In November 2019 during the Abby Finkenauer Fish Fry in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Buttigieg said he was genuinely surprised President Trump didn’t fulfill his campaign promise to take on infrastructure reform. “Worse, they put out this infrastructure plan they were talking about, and the plan was for us — local and state governments — to do most of the work, which is how it works right now,” Buttigieg said. “We cannot go on like this.” Buttigieg said as South Bend mayor he’d get a call when there’s a hole in the road, but would only get enough funding to redo every road “every 25 years or so.” “So, we need federal leadership to build first-rate infrastructure in the United States of America,” Buttigieg said, “including $100 billion to help build out local transit and transportation systems, because that helps our economies locally, including leadership on roads, bridges, and rail, which is a big part of our future, including those unsexy pieces of infrastructure like wastewater and I could spend a whole hour on wastewater but I promise not to.” Buttigieg also said digital infrastructure was a big part of the plan and called for $80 billion “to make sure that every household in America, either by wireless or by fiber, can get high quality internet access.” Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican who served in Obama’s Cabinet, said Biden’s choice of Buttigieg to lead the department is “a good pick,” according to Axios. “It sends a loud message to mayors and to cities that they count,” LaHood is quoted as saying. “It’s where the action is on putting people to work.” Buttigieg will face during his confirmation process a Senate that will be at best a 5050 split or under Republican control, depending on the outcome of the upcoming runoff election in Georgia for two U.S. Senate seats. The Blade has placed a request in with both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation seeking comment on news Buttigieg would be nominated as transportation secretary.
Feds making religious carve-outs to regulations before Trump’s exit Blade FOIA lawsuit uncovers differing views on exemptions By CHRIS JOHNSON
With time running out for the Trump administration, federal agencies are hurriedly ﬁnalizing regulations granting leeway to religious institutions that are federal grantees and contractors, which critics say — and internal emails the Washington Blade obtained exclusively through a FOIA lawsuit suggest — blur the line between church and state and would enable anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Two religious freedom rules that have gone into effect within the past two weeks — in addition to an initial production of emails sought by the Blade obtained under the Freedom of Information Act — conﬁrms restructuring federal regulations to grant more leeway to religious institutions has been a central focus of the Trump administration throughout its four years. Rachel Laser, CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church & State, said in a statement to the Blade she’s “disappointed, though not surprised” the Trump administration would act quickly to make these regulations ﬁnal in lame duck before Trump leaves the White House. “President Trump spent four long years pandering to his Christian nationalist base, which has too often succeeded at securing government policies that open the door to religion-based discrimination against LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities, nonreligious people and others,” Laser said. “These policies are a last-gasp effort by the outgoing administration to ignore the will of the people who rejected Trump’s policies on Nov. 3.” One rule the Department of Labor made ﬁnal last week, a proposed regulation that had been pending since August 2019, expanded the religious carveout in rules prohibiting discrimination in employment practices, essentially allowing any federal contractor to claim an exemption to engage in workplace discrimination, including anti-LGBTQ discrimination. (Federal contractors are still barred from workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.) On Monday, the Trump administration followed up by making ﬁnal a whopping 400-page, nine-agency rule that has been pending since January instructing federal contractors to disperse grants and sub-grants to churches and religious organizations as well as secular groups. Previously, there had to be secular alternatives available for indirect providers of social services, such as food kitchens or homeless shelters, if they require participation in religious activities as a condition of receiving services. Also, direct providers of services had to provide notice that beneﬁciaries are entitled to secular providers if they prefer, and have referrals available to secular alternatives for the services they provide. The Trump administration’s changes lift the notice and referral requirement for direct service providers as well as the need for secular alternatives when the funding goes indirectly to providers who require participation in religious activities. The LGBTQ legal group Lambda Legal criticized the rule change in a statement as “elevating ultraconservative religious interests above everyone else’s basic rights.” Because these regulations went through a rule-making process, the Biden administration won’t be able to easily undo them under the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires the U.S. government to undertake a deliberative process and engage with the public before making regulatory changes. It would take another rulemaking process or several months or more than a year to undo them. White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere defended federal agencies making these rules ﬁnal before Trump leaves ofﬁce. “The American people elected Donald Trump as president for a four-year term, not until Nov. 3, 2020,” Deere said. “President Trump’s ﬁrst term goes until Jan. 20, 2021 as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution and he has every right to continue to advance policies that fulﬁll the commitments and promises he made to the country just as every president before him has done.” The Blade’s FOIA lawsuit, which was ﬁled September in the District Court of D.C. and sought internal emails with words “religion” and “religious” from the Labor Department’s Ofﬁce of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, yielded its ﬁrst results last week. The emails reveal Debra Carr, who has been serving as director of policy for OFCCP, appeared to want nothing to do with regulatory changes proposed by Trump political appointees and signaled that view — sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently — in the email chains. According to her bio, Carr joined OFCCP after serving as an attorney for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Among the reports she wrote were those evaluating the Native American healthcare system and the need to reauthorize the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act; assessing the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act; and reviewing the usefulness of Executive Order 12898 and Title VI as tools for achieving environmental justice. Carr also worked as a civil rights lawyer at the U.S. Justice Department White House
Federal agencies are hastily making religious carve-outs to regulations before President DONALD TRUMP’s exit.
ofﬁce and headed a White House ofﬁce representing the United States at the United Nations on issues related to racism and xenophobia, her bio says. In response to language for a proposed 2017 executive order President Trump would sign on religious liberty, Carr, when pressed for input, writes in an email dated May 2, 2017: “I haven’t looked at what this means in application related to LGBT enforcement and the existing religious exemption.” In an earlier part of the email chain, Carr says she and the solicitor of labor agree on some language components, but instructs ofﬁcials she “won’t sign off unless you clear these joint comments.” Carr adds if that language isn’t cleared she “will reply ‘no comment, defer to SOL for legal opinion’ or just ‘no comment.’” The clearance Carr sought, however, apparently never came. In a subsequent email, Carr makes good on her threat and writes, “OFCCP has no programmatic comment but defers to SOL for substantive legal review and comment.” In a separate exchange, Carr expresses displeasure after she received as part of the comment process for rule changes an email from Ché Walker, who identiﬁes as “Citizen of the United States of America” and urges the Labor Department not to change regulations to allow religious institutions that accept federal money to engage in discriminatory practices. “Not sure why I got this,” writes Carr. When a staffer explains to her it came to her in error and should be directed elsewhere in the Labor Department, Carr replies, “This is the second one.” The staffer replies OFFCP is coming up with “a blanket response” to allow her to point respondents to the right portal, but Carr wasn’t having it. “Sorry, no time to reply to them I’ve got enough email in my inbox to get through,” Carr writes. “As long as the NPRM is correct you guys are covered.” The Labor Department didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article, nor did Carr through the Labor Department. Many emails in the 175-page initial production are heavily redacted. The Labor Department concealed personal contact information and cited deliberative language claims to redact other content. FOIA, however, was amended in 2016 to clarify federal agencies cannot redact deliberative language without demonstrating revealing that information would cause “foreseeable harm.” The Blade, represented by attorneys at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, will have the opportunity to challenge these redactions once the FOIA production is complete. One such heavily redacted email reveals OFCCP was planning to have a meeting with the National Center for Transgender Equality on Aug. 28, 2018. That would have been shortly after the Labor Department issued a memo seeking to bring regulations in compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which critics at the time said was unnecessary because the narrow ruling applied only to the speciﬁcs of that case. Continues at washingtonblade.com.
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Navajo roots never far from gay Ariz. lawmaker Arizona state Rep. Arlando Teller says he was ecstatic when the Biden campaign asked him to introduce Cher at an Oct. 25 campaign fundraiser in Phoenix. “I was actually trying to be calm,” Teller told the Washington Blade a few weeks later during a Zoom interview. “Inside I was a screaming queen, just giddy as all get about.” Teller said the campaign did not tell him the fundraiser’s location until an hour before it took place. Teller nevertheless described his experience with Cher as “amazing.” “I opened for Cher,” Teller joked. Teller is one of six openly gay members of the Arizona Legislature. He was born and raised in Chinle, a town in northeastern Arizona that is in the Navajo Nation. Teller began the interview by formally introducing himself in Navajo. “I am 100 percent Navajo and I have four clans,” said Teller. “What that clan system does is establishes who I am, where I come from and the family lineage that I come from as well.” He also noted in his introduction the places from which his parents come. “That also further allows other Navajos who have never met me to know where I come from and then establishes a kinship,” said Teller. “I could then be someone’s son, or grandson or father or grandfather, so that establishes the way we communicate with each other in Navajo.” Teller’s mother and grandparents raised him after his father died from a heart attack when he was ﬁve years old. Teller’s paternal grandfather was a Code Talker who used their language to help the Allies secretly communicate during World War II. “His legacy is deﬁnitely part of my continued effort to ensure that family vote, they express their rights,” said Teller. “So, it is very important for my family to share with other members of the community the importance of what my grandfather had to do using our language.” Teller attended public schools in the Navajo Nation before he enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz. Teller worked at two airports before he accepted a job at the California Department of
Transportation (Caltrans). Arizona state Rep. ARLANDO TELLER He lived in San Francisco (Photo courtesy of Arlando Teller) for a decade before he returned to the Navajo Nation 11 years ago. Teller said he was “in a sincere, committed relationship and that happened to dissolve.” “My grandmother, who was my foundation, my everything, had passed on,” he told the Blade. “So, a lot of stuff just seemed to crescendo into a situation at that time and I loved living there. I loved my friends. We’re still friends to this day and I had a yearning to come home, but I never really expressed that.” Teller said he only came out to his mother when he was breaking up with his partner. “Mom’s a social worker, very clinical, and so the conversation was for the ﬁrst eight minutes, literally eight minutes, it was all about her, how dare you do this to me! How could you hide this from me? And rightfully so,” he told the Blade. “So, I let her vent and then I said, ‘Hi Mom, this situation is about me, your son. Not about you, and I need your help.’” Teller said he heard his mother gasp and after a few seconds she said, “I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this way up there. This is what you need to do and she went into clinical mode right away: Boom, boom, boom, boom … you need to write this down right now.” Continues at washingtonblade.com. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Supreme Court rejects birth certificate challenge
The U.S. Supreme Court, which many predicted would roll back LGBTQ rights with its new 6-3 conservative majority, has turned down a request to hear a case that would have undercut the guarantee of full marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide. In its orders list Monday, the court without explanation signaled it had denied certiorari in the case, known as Box v. Henderson, which seeks to undermine the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in terms of birth certiﬁcates for children born to lesbian parents. Despite the widely held perception marriage equality for LGBTQ families is settled law and beyond any challenge, the question before the the court was squarely framed as a challenge to same-sex marriage and asked the court to “take this case to address whether Indiana’s paternity-presumption law is consonant with Obergefell.” The petition, which had been pending since June, was an early test for newly conﬁrmed U.S. Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whom many feared would undermine LGBTQ rights from the bench given her publicly stated religious views against same-sex marriage. Barrett’s views on the petition, however, aren’t known. It takes a vote of least four justices to agree to take up a case, but the recorded tally for any petition isn’t publicly recorded. 1 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • DECEMBER 1 8 , 2 0 2 0 • NAT I O NA L NE WS
The petition was ﬁled by the state of Indiana, which sought in cases of children born to same-sex parents who are women to refuse to place the name of a nonbirth mother on the child’s birth certiﬁcate, even if the two same-sex parents in the relationship are married to each other. In a ﬁling before the Supreme Court on Nov. 23, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill contended “common sense” should allow states to presume the child born to lesbian parents had a biological father. “In the vast majority of cases, a birth mother’s husband will, in fact, be the biological father of the child, with all the rights and obligations attendant thereto,” Hill writes. “But a birth mother’s wife will never be the biological father of the child, meaning that, whenever a birth-mother’s wife gains presumptive ‘parentage’ status, a biological father’s rights and obligations to the child have necessarily been undermined without proper adjudication.” The state of Indiana has continuously failed in convincing courts to agree to its demands. State courts had ruled the state must place the names of both lesbian parents on their children’s birth certiﬁcates consistent with Obergefell. When the case reached the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the appellate court afﬁrmed those decisions and concluded the law must be applied the same for different-sex and same-sex parents. In an opposition brief to the Supreme Court on Nov. 10, lawyers with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and other attorneys maintained the Seventh Circuit “correctly construed state law.” “Based on its analysis of Indiana statutes and case law, the court of appeals found that Indiana law affords a birth mother’s husband the right to be listed on the birth certiﬁcate of a child born during the marriage, including when a child is born through donor insemination and it is known that the husband is not the child’s biological parent,” the brief says. “Having made that determination, the court of appeals held that…the same rule must be applied to married same-sex couples.” CHRIS JOHNSON
Eight Nights of Holiday Sparkle! This holiday season ZooLights Express—powered by Pepco—is hitting the road to bring the colorful glow of Washington, D.C.’s beloved Smithsonian’s National Zoo holiday tradition to you! 6 - 8 p.m. on the following days Ward 1 | Friday, Nov. 27 Ward 2 | Saturday, Nov. 28
Ward 5 | Friday, Dec. 11 Ward 6 | Saturday, Dec. 12
Ward 3 | Friday, Dec. 4 Ward 4 | Saturday, Dec. 5
Ward 7 | Friday, Dec.18 Ward 8 | Saturday, Dec.19
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Gay protester arrested in Cuba
OSMEL ADRIÁN RUBIO SANTOS while on hunger strike. (Photo courtesy of Katherine Bisquet Rodríguez’s Facebook page)
Cuban authorities on Tuesday arrested a gay man who is a member of a protest movement against the government. A video that Osmel Adrián Rubio Santos’ mother, Isbe Santos González, sent to Washington Blade contributor Yariel Valdés González shows authorities placing Rubio into a patrol car outside of his home in Havana’s Cotorro neighborhood. Rubio in the video is wearing a face mask with his hands behind his back. Santos says her son was arrested after he left their home to buy bread at a nearby bakery. Rubio, 18, was one of the 14 members of the San Isidro Movement who went on a hunger and thirst strike last month in a dilapidated building in Old Havana to protest the arrest of Daniel Solís, a rapper who was sentenced to eight months in prison for “disrespect” after he criticized the Cuban government in a Facebook Live video. Authorities on Nov. 26 forcibly removed Rubio and the other San Isidro Movement members from the building. Rubio told the Blade during a recent interview that state security agents subsequently prevented him from leaving his home. Rubio also said his neighbors marched in front of it to publicly repudiate him. “It was a wonderful few days,” Rubio told the Blade, referring to the days he spent in the San Isidro Movement’s headquarters. “I could see what a free Cuba would be like, because there were all kinds of people there, from a gay man like me to a Muslim.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Hungary lawmakers approve anti-LGBTQ adoption bill
Lawmakers in Hungary on Tuesday approved proposals that would effectively ban same-sex couples from adopting children and define marriage as between a man and a woman. Reuters reports the Hungarian Constitution will now define family as “based on marriage and the parent-child relation. The mother is a woman, the father a man.” Hungarian law previously allowed same-sex couples to adopt children if one partner applied as a single person. Reuters cited Justice Minister Judit Varga who said the “main rule is that only married couples can adopt a child, that is, a man and a woman who are married.” “(The) Hungarian Parliament passed the amendments that stigmatize same-sex couples raising children and transgender people, make LGBTQI school education programs impossible and complicate single-parent adoption,” tweeted the Háttér Society, a Hungarian LGBTQ advocacy group, after the vote. Tuesday’s vote is the latest in a series of attacks against LGBTQ Hungarians that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his ruling Fidesz party have carried out in recent years. The Hungarian Parliament earlier this year approved a bill that prevents transgender and intersex people from legally changing their gender. Jozsef Szajer, a promiment Fidesz member who helped write Hungary’s 2011 Constitution that defines marriage as
a union between a man and a woman, resigned from the European Parliament late last month after he attended a gay sex party in Brussels. “These bills further restrict the rights of LGBTI children and parents in Hungary,” said ILGA-Europe Advocacy Director Katrin Hugendubel in a press release that ILGA-Europe, Transgender Europe and Amnesty International issued on Tuesday. “LGBTI children will be forced to grow up in an environment which restricts them from being able to express their identities, and children across Hungary will be refused safe and loving families, as adoption is restricted only to married heterosexual couples.” “This attempt to rush through these discriminatory, homophobic and transphobic new laws are part of an ongoing attack on LGBTI people by Hungarian authorities,” added Hugendubel. Transgender Europe Executive Director Masen Davis echoed this sentiment, while adding that European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen should formally respond to Hungary’s LGBTQ rights crackdown. “Earlier this year, Hungary made it impossible for trans people to change their names and legal gender marker,” said Davis. “We are deeply concerned for the health and safety of trans children and adults in Hungary in such a hostile climate.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS
U.K. to ease blood donation restrictions for gay, bi men The British government on Monday announced it will ease restrictions on gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood. Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock in a press release notes “donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than three months will be eligible to donate regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner or the type of sex they have.” The press release notes the new policy will take effect in the U.K. next summer. The country previously allowed gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they hadn’t had sex for three months. The press release also notes gay and bisexual men under the new policy will “no longer be asked to declare if they have had sex with another man or their sexuality, making blood donation gender neutral and more inclusive.” “By closely examining the latest evidence relating to blood donation and sexual behavior, we have been able to bring forward more inclusive policy to allow people to safely donate blood to save lives,” said Hancock. Nancy Kelly, chief executive of Stonewall, a British LGBTQ rights group, welcomed the new policy. “We want to see a blood donation system that allows the greatest number of people to donate safely,” said Kelly in a statement. “This change will help ensure more gay and bi men can donate blood, and represents an important first step towards a donation selection policy entirely based on an individualized assessment of risk.” “We will continue to work with government to build on this progress and ensure that more people, including LGBT+ people, can donate blood safely in the future,” she added.
Monday’s announcement comes against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to ravage the U.K. and many other countries around the world. The U.K. on Dec. 8 began its coronavirus vaccination campaign. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April announced gay and bisexual men can donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for three months. The previous deferral period was 12 months. MICHAEL K. LAVERS
1 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • DECEMBER 1 8 , 2 0 2 0 • I NT E R NAT I O NA L NE WS
a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.
Deb Price won over straight readers with beloved column
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Pioneering journalist introduced us to a mainstream audience
There’s no question that transphobia and homophobia persist, even ﬁve years after marriage equality. Yet, today, many people don’t bat an eye when celebs say they’re LGBTQ. “Who cares now when somebody’s gay,” a member of my family asked recently. She’s far from being a rainbow ﬂag-waving LGBTQ rights activist. Yet, she wasn’t shocked or judgey when actor Elliot Page came out as trans. “He’s the same person – still a great actor,” she said. This was far from the prevailing attitude when the ﬁrst column with a queer perspective by trailblazing lesbian journalist Deb Price debuted in The Detroit News in 1992. When her column premiered, it was the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act. Ellen was still in the closet, AIDS was a death sentence and same-sex marriage wasn’t even remotely on the horizon. As I’ve written before, then, when my partner was hospitalized, I could only visit her when I said I was her sister. Price’s column was the ﬁrst nationally syndicated weekly column on gay life to run in the mainstream press. Price, who wrote 900 columns over 18 years, died on Nov. 20 at age 62 at a Hong Kong hospital from interstitial pneumonitis. Price is survived by her wife Joyce Murdoch. She was allowed to stay by Price’s side at the hospital for the last 11 weeks of her life, Murdoch told The New York Times. Price’s many columns, as much as any legislation, helped to change attitudes toward LGBTQ rights. Murdoch and Price became a couple in 1986. Her debut column appeared in 1992 in The Detroit News. In her ﬁrst column, Price asked her readers what she should call Murdoch. It’s hard to imagine but in those days people rarely, if ever, used the word “partner.” I remember all too well how awkward it was then when people called my partner “your friend” or “your companion.” “I found the courage to ask for the column that I’d always wanted to read,” Price told the Association of LGBTQ Journalists. “I wanted to be entertained, not offended. Talked to, not about. Informed, not maligned. Inspired, not demoralized.” In her ﬁrst column, Price jolted hetero readers awake. “So tell me, America,” she asked, “how do I introduce Joyce?” “Maybe we should seize a word, as we did with ‘gay,’” Price added, “and make it ours. Or is it simply part of gay culture to have a love that answers to many names?” When Price posed this question, queer love, in most circles, still didn’t dare speak its name. Many more of us queers were closeted then – afraid to come out to our families, employers, even our friends. Though there’s still a long way to go for queer representation in movies and TV, queers on screen were even fewer. Those who were on screen were rarely portrayed as ordinary people who fell in love, had families or held jobs. Price made being queer less scary for hetero readers. She wrote about how we ﬁght over dishes and she wrote about us gardening, working, and taking vacations. Price used the language of domesticity to make readers understand how demeaning it was when same-sex couples couldn’t marry. “We watch our siblings get eight silver trays, 12 pickle forks, a fondue pot and a trip to Hawaii for settling down,” she wrote. “And then our relatives give us a hard time or nothing at all.” Price must have had a thick hide. She received hate-ﬁlled responses. Yet, so many readers, queer and hetero, loved her column. At a time when few hetero people knew openly LGBTQ people, Price’s column made us seem approachable – maybe even like folks they’d enjoy getting to know. Thank you, Deb, for your bravery and pioneering work! R.I.P.
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is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
Trump, Republicans model the Third Reich If their behavior doesn’t change the GOP deserves to die
Donald Trump and the Republican Party are clearly using Hitler and the Third Reich as their model for how to destroy democracy in the United States. We are lucky we are strong enough they won’t succeed in the long run. It has been reported: “According to a 1990 Vanity Fair interview, Ivana Trump once told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that her husband, real-estate mogul Donald Trump, now a leading Republican presidential candidate, kept a book of Hitler’s speeches near his bed.” While it is clear Trump doesn’t read much, recent events make this a believable story. In judging the impact Trump’s speeches and lies have had one must only look at the recent actions of the Republican Party in Texas, led by their attorney general Ken Paxton who himself is reported to be under FBI investigation, to invalidate the vote in four other states. This spurious action was supported by 17 other state attorneys general and 126 Republican members of Congress. One can look at this in two ways. The ﬁrst is all are so dumb they don’t know the United States is a federation. Under our system of federalism we don’t have one national election but rather each state holds an election. The total vote is counted and reported but each state’s election determines which candidate’s electors will participate in the Electoral College vote, which decides who will be the president and vice president. My take is these Republicans do understand that which makes their actions seditious (inciting or causing people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch). The 126 members of Congress who supported this lawsuit not only know about our democracy and our Constitution, they each took an oath that says: “I do solemnly swear (or afﬁrm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” So will those 126 members suffer any consequences for their actions? While some suggest they not be seated in the next Congress, my view is they should all be censured. At a minimum they should have such a mark next to their names in our history books. While the Justices of the Supreme Court did the right thing by not taking the case, and we should thank them, those ﬁling and lending their names to it should not escape without any repercussions. Trump has now attacked the Supreme Court suggesting because they didn’t side with him the justices lack courage; I think it showed they had some. He has attacked individual judges around the country for throwing out all the specious cases his team is ﬁling; he has attacked members of his own party like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for being unwilling to overturn the will of the voters. He has supported white nationalists and Neo Nazis. He refuses to concede the election and incited his supporters like the ‘Proud Boys’ to protest in the streets. He is using his bully pulpit to subvert our democracy just like Hitler did in Germany. Will people stand up to him and his supporters in ways that will be remembered? That has yet to be seen and we may not know until the next general election or we could see it in the Georgia Senate run-off races. I am not for using violence to respond but there can be actions such as the one reported taken by the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board which wrote, “The newspaper apologizes for endorsing GOP Rep. Michael Waltz who backed election reversal.” Newspapers around the nation that endorsed one of the other 125 members of Congress who joined Waltz should be doing the same. The fact we haven’t seen them do it yet is an indication of how strong the ‘cult’ of Trump is. He has a Hitler-like hold on the minds of people who in other ways we would consider normal. The willingness of other elected Republicans to follow Trump’s lead for fear of losing their next election if they don’t is mindboggling. It might signal the ﬁnal death knell of the Republican Party as we once knew it. If their behavior doesn’t change the party deserves to die. 1 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • DECEMBER 1 8 , 2 0 2 0 • V I E WP O I NT
is publisher of the Los Angeles Blade.
300,000 and counting…
We called out Reagan in the ‘80s and we call out Trump now “This is the ﬁnal surge,” says California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “This is the most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic.” Newsom was talking about the catastrophic spread of COVID-19 and the crushing number of grave cases jamming ICU units throughout the Golden State. Left unsaid during his recent news conference is a cultural subtext that needs to be screamed out loud. Despite 300,000 U.S. deaths and counting — someone dies of COVID every 30 seconds — people are tuning out, blaming government and public health departments for bad messaging, losing control of this and causing ﬁnancial disaster for businesses and the millions who’ve lost their jobs. Masks work but haphazard restrictions haven’t stopped the spread. So why believe a vaccine will do the trick? A vaccine is but one weapon in the ﬁght against COVID-19. The truest weapons will continue to be social distancing and masking up to protect yourself and others from this airborne virus. But some of us have been here before and have already suffered a catastrophic leadership vacuum and just pure evil during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. We called out Ronald Reagan then and we must call out Donald Trump now. Trump has relished in a narcissistic feeding frenzy of conspiracy theories to his followers. He insisted COVID was a hoax and when he got it, he pretended it could be easily conquered though few have access to the same treatment and care he received. Even now, his shockingly soulless and willful spreading of misinformation continues as the death toll mounts. Too many in our community seem to have fallen for it. Upset about bar closures, being denied an outdoor dinner experience at La Boheme, having to spend holidays at home instead of tripping on a red carpet to get to another cocktail party – too many LGBTQ people swaggered over to Trump’s death cult of deﬁance. Don’t get me wrong. People are suffering deep economic injury. But I am patient and I trust the new administration will offer real help. More than a half million people will be dead by the time we celebrate Pride in 2021, probably more than 50,000 in LA alone. Will you be among them? Do you really care? In the earliest days of AIDS, our community struggled as pandemic raged and without governmental intervention. When no one came to the rescue, we tried to rescue ourselves, coming up with simple solutions like wearing condoms and reduction in the numbers of anonymous partners. But, after a while, simple solutions like “wear a condom every time” became boring and people took umbrage at the seemingly anti-sex and homophobic calls to limit the number of sexual partners, the monitoring or closure of gathering spaces and at the constant intrusion into every aspect of their personal lives. People began ﬁghting for the right to return to life as normal — virus be damned. As AIDS deaths soared, the community, though united on many fronts, splintered into camps, including advocacy groups like ACT UP and a small group of alienated HIV-positive men who touted a kind of not my brother’s keeper barebacking culture. And like the criticism aimed at unmasked MAGA supporters crowded together at an indoor Trump rally, some people understood when HIVnegative men engaged in unsafe sex, it was a personal choice, despite the risks. Yes, it’s all too familiar. When AIDS hit, our spaces emptied — and not because our local governments issued stay-at-home orders. The Castro emptied. WeHo changed. The Village emptied. Our spaces emptied out of fear, confusion and an abundance of caution. We were left with no information, no therapies, no treatment, no infrastructure to support us. No government to bail us out. We were left with nothing but dead and dying friends and fear and a powerful sense of pride that many of us devoted the best years of our lives, our careers, our treasures and our love to saving our community. We learned that as knowledge and science advances, what is required of our vigilance changes. And so we learned to push through. HIV became a chronic, manageable disease that is now entirely preventable. We have more tools to prevent it than ever, thanks to activists who pushed science in the direction of treatment. And until the new COVID vaccines are proven effective and accessible, wear a mask. Don’t become a statistic – 300,000 and counting. Hope to see you at Pride.
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Shop local this season and make a difference Gift cards, donations, and other ideas for thoughtful giving By PARKER PURIFOY
In a year of political upheaval and protest, The Outrage, located at 1722 14th St NW, provides every kind of gift needed for progressive friends and family members. The pride gift box comes with “Pride was a Riot” socks, Black Lives Matter and Pride pins, pride balloons, and a “Say Their Names” postcard. The proceeds from this $25 set go to the Trevor Project and Black Lives Matter. They also have several different versions of the “Pride was a Riot” T-shirts in different sizes and colors. This shirt is currently on sale for $16 instead of $32. The Outrage sells candles made by the Queer Candle Company in different scents like honeycomb, apple tree, and whiskey&wood. The 100% soy candles are $22 and proceeds go to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
Many different $5 pronoun pins can be found at The Outrage with funds from these purchases going to The Trevor Project. Parents looking for gifts for family members could also turn to the “I Love My Dads” and “I Love My Moms” onesies which come in various sizes for $25.
The DC Area Transmasculine Society
The Outrage offers an array of Pride and BLM gift ideas.
Busboys and Poets
a nonproﬁt devoted to helping transmasculine people, sells a variety of merchandise including trans ﬂag pins, which go for only $4 and make perfect stocking stuffers. DCATS also sells a variety of trans pride shirts including a they/them pronouns shirt and trans visibility shirt , which are both sold for $20.
a combined restaurant, bar, bookstore, and coffee shop with several locations around the city, offers several options for LGBTQ-speciﬁc merchandise. For $25 you can get a “Peace and Love Pride” T-shirt. They also offer a Busboys and Poets T-shirt in rainbow colors for $25 and a “Resisting” T-shirt for the same price.
is a D.C.-based, Black-owned candle business. Their candles are hand-poured and come in dozens of different scents.
D.C.-based company Scout Bags
offers dozens of different options for shoppers, including the $45 Daytripper shoulder bag, and the $58 Pack Leader backpack. For those shopping on a budget, Scout has a whole section for gift options under $50 and under $25. Scout Bags offers dozens of different bags.
Make a Donation
For the holidays this year, you could also substitute traditional gifts for a donation in the name of a loved one. Some D.C.-based LGBTQ organizations to consider donating to are: SMYAL, Casa Ruby, Capital Pride Alliance, D.C. Black Pride, Whitman Walker Health, Friendship Place, and, of course, the Blade Foundation. Another gift option to support local LGBTQ businesses is to buy gift cards for family and friends from bars that have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Options include Nellie’s Sports Bar, A League of Her Own, Pitchers, Trade, and Number Nine. 2 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • DECEMBER 1 8 , 2 0 2 0
DCATS sells a variety of trans pride shirts.
For an array of modern, unique gift ideas, check out Naked Decor. From tea towels and umbrellas to vases and D.C.-centric gifts, Naked Decor offers creative options at affordable prices. A Michelle Obama “Women We Admire” ornament is $21.95. D.C.-themed face masks $15.95 for two; D.C. neighborhoods pillow is $49.95. Check them out at nakeddecor.com.
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Holiday sex in your parents’ house without getting caught White noise, weatherstripping, and more tips for naughty fun By MICHAEL ALVEAR
This year some of us are taking our partners home for the holidays and wondering how we can, ahem, slide the package up the porch without the ‘rents ﬁnding out. The simplest solution is to avoid sex during your visit but for the more adventurous among us, this is unacceptable. The siren song of sneaking around, the chance to show Santa the true meaning of being naughty, well, these are temptations that may be too strong to resist. Should you decide to take the risk I have a few suggestions. My top recommendation is a soundprooﬁng technique so next-level your parents won’t be able to hear you even if they’re in the next room and the sounds coming out of your bedroom are louder than a car horn going off at 3 a.m. In fact, my method is so good you could hammer it in like a rooﬁng crew on the creakiest bed with the squeakiest ﬂoors and your parents still wouldn’t hear you. My technique? Get your parents drunk and wait till they pass out. Ahh, the holidays really bring out the best in everyone, don’t they? Obviously, there are ethical and moral consequences to leading your parents in a cheer (“One tequila, two tequilas, three tequilas, FLOOR!”). If you don’t feel comfortable with the fallout, maybe save that approach for 2022. Perhaps the better route is to soundproof the guest room. Start by sneaking into your parents’ bedroom when they’re not home. Have your partner stay in the guest room and imitate the kind of noises likely to come out of a typical lovemaking session. This will give you a close approximation of how much noise you can get away with. Now you’re ready for the actual soundprooﬁng. First, use a towel to “weather-strip” the bottom of the door. Then, put some more underneath the bed. This will further mufﬂe the
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noise coming out of your mufﬂers and ensure that private time stays private. I can’t stress this too much — rapid-ﬁre squeaks will betray you. The human mind is built to recognize patterns, and the pounding sounds of love are unmistakable. If toweling up isn’t possible, set up camp on the ﬂoor. At least there you’ve eliminated sounds from the headboard and the bedsprings. Second, bring a portable Bluetooth or wireless speaker and place it right behind the door. If the bed squeaks, play a lot of Britney. If either of you moan a lot, play Barry White, Leonard Cohen or hell, Adele. Another option: A sound machine playing white noise. Of course, that means you have to remember to bring all these items, so put them on your To Do Him list. Here are a couple of more items: WD-40 and a screwdriver. Very helpful for tightening bed screws and reducing friction. Also, they’re apt metaphors for what you’re hoping to do in bed. If your parents have especially thin walls, run the shower (they’ll hear the water running in the pipes, camouﬂaging your naughty sounds). Finally, put a chair under the doorknob if they don’t have a lock. It will save a lot of unpleasantness should the soundprooﬁng work so well Mom thinks now’s the time to ask what you want for breakfast. Holiday sex at your parents’ house is a DIY project: You take matters into your own hands, bring the right tools and do the work with missionary zeal. The result? Bragging rights. You’ll be able to tell friends, “The presents weren’t the only things that got laid under the tree.” (Michael Alvear is the author of “How To Bottom Like A Porn Star” and “How To Top Like A Porn Star.” For more information, visit likeapornstar.net.)
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By Parker Purifoy
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. The DC Transmasculine Society is hosting a transmasculine game night starting at 7 p.m. This month’s game is Skribblio, a multiplayer drawing and guessing game. The game night is primarily for transmasculine and nonbinary people but friends, partners, and allies of any gender are welcome. For more information, go to DCATS.org The Wharf is continuing its pop-up movie series on Transit Pier with holiday movies this weekend. Attendees will get a private ﬁrepit and 20inch television to watch movies like Home Alone, The Grinch, A Christmas Story, and Elf. Showing times are at either 2 p.m. or 6 p.m. Each ﬁrepit seats four people and parties should reserve their ﬁrepit in advance. More information can be found on The Wharf’s Facebook page.
Saturday, December 19 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 email@example.com. KhushDC is holding a Town Hall today at 1:30 p.m. to wrap up the year’s operations and recap their accomplishments in 2020. It is also an opportunity for the community to provide input and feedback on the organization’s operations. They will also be going over their annual budget. KhushDC is a social, educational, and advocacy community organization for South Asian LGBTQ people in the DC metro area.
Sunday, December 20 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. The DC Center is hosting its monthly support group for people who identify outside of the gender binary over Zoom at 7 p.m. Meetings are on the fourth Tuesday and third Mondays of each month. More information can be found at thedccenter.org/events.
Monday, December 21 LGBT Older Adults and friends are invited to join the DC Center at 10 a.m. for a Center Aging Coffee Drop-In. For more information visit thedccenter.org and Center Aging on social media.
Tuesday, December 22 The Mayor’s ofﬁce of LGBTQ Affairs is partnering with ServeDC and Us Helping Us to give boxed groceries and prepared meals for their 2020 DC Hope Care Holiday Food Distribution. The distribution will happen today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Shiloh Baptist Church at 1500 9th Street NW. The event is free and goods will be given away on a ﬁrst-come, ﬁrst-served basis.
Thursday, December 24 Coming Out Discussion Group will hold a session at 7 p.m. It is a peer-facilitated group designed to create a safe space to share experiences about coming out. For more information go to thedccenter.org/events.
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Those interested in helping JON OSSOFF and Raphael Warnock win the Senate runoff elections in Georgia can meet for a grassroots campaigning session on Dec. 21. (Photo courtesy Jon Ossoff Campaign)
OUT&ABOUT Take in Christmas spirit with a winter walk of lights Family and friends can experience Meadowlark Botanical Gardens’ Winter Walk of Lights every night until Jan. 3 in Vienna, Va. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, new protocols and restrictions have been put into place but the walk of lights is still operating on its normal hours and schedule. Those who would like to experience the winter lights should go to winterwalkoﬂights.com to purchase their tickets. The tickets are only available for purchase online. The walk is more than half a mile long and features many different light features to provide guests with great picture-taking opportunities.
Learn how to organize for Ga. Senate runoff Those interested in the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia can join Network For Progress, Blue Victory War Room, DMV Grassroots Coordinating Committee, and several other organizations for a grassroots campaigning session on Dec. 21 starting at 6 p.m. The session will help educate volunteers on how they can make a difference in the upcoming runoff races, which will determine the majority in the Senate. It will be hosted by Jim McBride who served as a leader with President-elect Joe Biden’s “Communities United” program, which worked to mobilize grassroots networks on the East Coast. The Zoom link for the event can be found at Network For Progress’s Facebook page. The evening’s agenda includes a 30 minute introduction and updates from participating organizations, a 2020 campaign feedback and Q&A portion, and then two different trainings on how to campaign by word of mouth. It focuses speciﬁcally on friend-to-friend campaigning which emphasizes organizing within peoples’ individual social circles.
Call or Text 657-522-0770 nccf-cares.org/fostercare/
Nick Sanati|The Sanati Group Nick resides in Georgetown, Washington, DC and has lived in the DMV area since 2000. Always successful in business, Nick is focused on his clients and their needs. Nick utilizes his 20 plus years of experience in sales and his business degree, to provide his clients with the best customer service through each transaction. His strong negotiation and organizational skills, attention to detail and real estate knowledge, allows him to furnish his clients with the service they deserve. Nick has a passion for real estate and realizes that purchasing a home is one of the largest and best investments an individual can make. Fluent in English and Farsi. The Sanati Group | Licensed in the District of Columbia & Virginia | DC License #SP200202548 | VA License #0225245967 Homestead Realty | 7524 Gardner Park Drive, Gainesville, VA 20155 Oﬃce: 571-261-8800 | Mobile: 202-746-9018 | Nick@thesanatigroup.com
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Tom of Finland bio reveals dangers of creating erotic art Secret work depicted masculine lumberjacks, soldiers By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
Sometimes, you can’t worry about other people’s thoughts. You can listen to them but you don’t have to hear them because there are days when making yourself happy supersedes any outside opinion, when you need to pay closer attention to you. As in the new biography “Tom of Finland” by F. Valentine Hooven III, sometimes what makes you joyful today can become a calling. Born in the mid-spring of 1920 in Kaarina, Finland, young Touko Laaksonen was raised in a community of lumberjacks and farmers. He was fascinated by those “well-muscled laborers” but he didn’t quite know why until he was an adolescent. By the time Touko understood that he was homosexual, he’d become talented at sketching the men he saw although, purely for his own enjoyment and sexual relief, he depicted those men naked and for that, he had to hide his work. He hid who he By F. Valentine Hooven III was, too: as a young man, he had c.2020, Cernunnos | $50.00/295 pages a girlfriend, worked in a maledominated world of advertising, and even served in the Finnish army during World War II, where he sketched his uniformed “buddies” as gifts for their wives and girlfriends. Uniforms. Touko couldn’t resist a man wearing one, and they were featured in what he called “my dirty drawings.” Those drawings included uniformed Nazi ofﬁcers, artwork that got Touko “into trouble,” but had he gotten caught in his habit of having illegal, exceedingly risky anonymous sex with random men during the war, it could have been far worse. Post-war, art was enough for Touko the sexual being. Though he had a lover (a word he claimed to dislike), art was again his release, more than any other physical act. This desire for erotica grew his portfolio throughout the 1950s, and he carefully shared it with “anyone he thought would appreciate it” – including a publisher of a new kind of international magazine, who immediately accepted it for publication. A year later, that magazine’s cover featured “a new, exciting, never-before-published artist” who now called himself Tom of Finland. Let’s acknowledge this up front: “Tom of Finland” is absolutely ﬁlled with reproductions of Tom’s artwork from the 1940s through 1991, when he died. Nearly every bit of it’s explicit in nature, drawn in typical over-the-top, over-endowed Tom of Finland style. That artwork is why readers should turn their eyes away, and toward the narrative. Author F. Valentine Hooven III explains quite often in this biography – which was ﬁnished just before Tom’s death but never before published – how dangerous the mere creation of his art was for Tom of Finland: literally, many times, the drawings could have gotten him jailed or killed. This changes the meaning of the artwork, and it gives modern readers a sense of the amount of secret-keeping a gay man had to abide, preStonewall. Though Hooven’s voice can be annoyingly sunny at times, the courageous turn this story takes is irresistibly appealing, so ﬁnd it. Savor it once, ﬁrst, for the artwork; then, for a story that’ll fascinate you. Indeed, “Tom of Finland” will make you happy.
‘Tom of Finland: The Ofﬁcial Life and Work of a Gay Hero’
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THANK YOU TO ALL OUR ADVERTISERS, PARTNERS & SPONSORS FOR SUPPORTING THE BLADE DURING 2020. WE COULD NOT DO IT WITHOUT YOU. 9:30 Club / IMP oo n Cleanin ervi e AARP L adem of o e d lt C dams or an artnershi ealth are Fo ndation le ander adro C Co n il t Lar e Can didate le andria esta rant artners lfon o Fair llison ro n me at eridian ill o to meri an lant riadne Gett Fo ndation ro nd o n overs Babe altimore se m of rt altimore m hon r hestra arrie hool astille ea ear e edi Gro elfort F rnit re en aramillo et ish a hah ett ie el Lon and Foster eal state e ta ro erties i tarv Gilead ill ani i ite he Fr it of Fairfa ravo alon a renda i h Cent r illenni n renda mall ritish emodelin roo e into for ard r e a ell d Li ht dtenders of C Cafe erlin Calli aris Cam eho oth Ca ital rea LG Cham er of Commer e Ca ital ride llian e C rin e Geor es Co nt Casa Corado Cathedral Choral o iet C C Centers for isease Control CF ervi es Gro Chase re ton ealth ervi es Chatnoires LLC Cherr F nd Christine Garner Citi an Cit Choir of ashin ton Cit o s Cit iner C Clar e h ammer Clear a e heatre Com an Cl de s esta rant Gro C LG Comm nit rve Cold ell an er ont Lo an Col m ia ro ert ana ement Com ast Comm nit Fo ndation of ont omer Co nt Co Co Gro Craftmar omes Craftsman to Care Cre Cl C atro a ed sh
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I love reading biographies – especially, of queer artists and writers. But some bios put you to sleep. Happily, “Sometimes You Have to Lie” by Leslie Brody, the new, intriguing biography of queer artist and writer Louise Fitzhugh, author and illustrator of the beloved children’s book “Harriet the Spy,” won’t give you any shut-eye. “Harriet the Spy,” since its publication in 1964, has been enjoyed by generations of kids and adults. It’s been made into a movie. Brody was hired in 1988 to write an adaptation of “Harriet the Spy” for the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company. I discovered “Harriet the Spy” only recently as I read “Sometimes You Have to Lie.” What a great ﬁnd! Harriet, a sassy New York City kid, is a writer. Her nanny, Ole Golly, tells her that writers take notes on people. Harriet, notebook in hand, soon begins to “spy” on everyone – from her neighbors to her schoolmates. As Fitzhugh, who was queer, wrote to her friend, gay poet James Merrill, Harriet is a “nasty little girl who keeps a notebook on all her friends.” Harriet is fabulously “nasty!” She wears jeans, carries a tool belt on her waist and says “I’ll be damned if I’ll go to dancing school!” Harriet is the queer love-child of Jo March and Holden Caulﬁeld. She’s inspired thousands of hetero and queer readers to become spies and rebels (writers). As it so often is with LGBTQ artists and writers (even creators of classics), I had no idea that Louise Fitzhugh, who lived from 1928 to 1974, was queer. Fitzhugh wasn’t just a lesbian. She was fabulously queer! Fitzhugh was born in Memphis, Tenn. Her family was wealthy. Her parents, who met and wed quickly in a “jazz age
‘Harriet the Spy’ creator was fabulously queer
New bio highlights renegade life of Louise Fitzhugh By KATHI WOLFE
marriage,” divorced when she was a baby. She was raised by her father Millsaps Fitzhugh and her eccentric, but loving grandmother.. For years, she was told that her mother had died. Later, Fitzhugh learned that her mother, who was denied custody and visitation rights, was alive. She was devastated to read in news accounts of her parents’ acrimonious divorce proceedings that during their quarrels her folks had thrown her (a baby) on to a couch. As a teen, Fitzhugh had a boyfriend who thought of her as “beautiful” but “a little different from the other girls, a little bit more serious and very smart.” He was right on all counts. Early on, Fitzhugh knew that she liked girls. As a teenager, she fell in love with photojournalist Amelia Brent. At the same time, she eloped with Ed Thompson, because he, like her, wanted to leave the Jim Crow South. Fitzhugh soon had a change of heart, the unconsumated marriage was annulled and she returned to Memphis. She didn’t remain back home for long. Soon, Fitzhugh, 19, left to attend Bard to study poetry and painting. For the rest of her life, she lived in Greenwich Village in New York and later in Connecticut (while traveling to Rome and other locales). Over the decades, she had several loving, long-term, samesex relationships. Fitzhugh was quite close to a male friend, but rebuffed his wish for sex, because she couldn’t “abide” a man “in her bed.” Fitzhugh’s circle of vital, creative queer friends ranged from
children’s book writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak to playwright Lorraine Hansberry. Jane Wagner, Lily Tomlin’s spouse, was among those who knew her. I so wish I could have been part of this glittering 1950s queer ‘Sometimes You Have to life — until I realize how closeted queers had to Lie: The Life and Times of be. Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade “As an adult, Fitzhugh Author of Harriet the Spy’ was unapologetically By Leslie Brody out of the closet,” Brody c2020, Seal Press | $30/335 pages writes. Fitzhugh also was aware, Brody adds, that a “little lie to preserve your identity and self-respect can be a soul-saving measure.” But, Fitzhugh knew that, as Ole Golly tells Harriet, “to yourself you must always tell the truth.” “Sometimes You Have to Lie” is the fascinating story of the long-hidden truth about the life of the queer author of an iconic children’s book. Harriet wouldn’t be able to put it down.
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3 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • DECEMBER 1 8 , 2 0 2 0
CHADWICK BOSEMAN and VIOLA DAVIS give powerful performances in ‘Ma Rainey.’ (Photo courtesy Netﬂix)
Netﬂix delivers bold, bisexual ‘Ma Rainey’ Boseman, Davis shine in one of year’s best ﬁlms By JOHN PAUL KING
There are a lot of reasons why “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” should be on the top of your viewing list in the last weeks of 2020. For a large percentage of viewers, the biggest one might well be that the Netﬂix adaptation of August Wilson’s Tony-nominated play, which debuts on Dec. 18, turned out to be the ﬁnal ﬁlm appearance of Chadwick Boseman. For others, it might be the appeal of seeing fan-favorite diva Viola Davis sink her acting chops into another meaty role, while music aﬁcionados may be drawn by the role itself – a reallife blues legend whose known bisexuality could, in turn, draw LGBTQ viewers curious to see how that aspect of her life is handled by the ﬁlm. Whether or not any of those things are a hook for you, there is one inescapable reason for watching. At the end of a year in which Black experience in America has been thrust to the forefront of our cultural attention, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” might well be considered a must-see for any American concerned for the state of their nation by virtue of its “blackness” alone. It’s true that the streaming universe has no shortage of such content. But what the new Netﬂix ﬁlm brings to the table is something rare in an entertainment landscape that favors the new, now, and next over the echoing memories of a time gone by – a work of weight and import, crafted with meticulous artistry by one of the most signiﬁcant Black theater artists of the 20th century at the peak of his skills, and carrying with it all the insight of a lifetime spent negotiating the racial divide during some of the greatest cultural upheaval in recent memory. “Ma Rainey” covers a short window in the life of its titular blues icon – just a few hours, really – but it uses that brief snapshot to explore a vast landscape of topics, as the singer and her band convene for a recording session on a hot Chicago day in 1927. The singer, wellknown for her tempestuous lifestyle and “difﬁcult” behavior, is late to arrive, leaving her musicians to kill time in reminiscence and debate, while her white album producers stew and fret over the delays to their schedule. When she arrives, she comes with an entourage; a pretty dancer from her tour, now her latest arm candy, and a stuttering nephew she insists must record a spoken introduction to a song. With all the players in place, the afternoon’s work can ﬁnally begin, but interruptions ensue and tensions are running high, inevitably sparking heated conﬂicts and festering confrontations – not the least of which center around Levee, the band’s hot-headed young trumpeter, who has musical ambitions of his own and an ego to rival Ma Rainey herself. That synopsis is the blueprint for everything we see in the ﬁlm – but it would be disingenuous to imply that “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is uneventful. A lot of momentous things happen; revelations are made, rivalries are stoked, motivations are unmasked, and actions are taken that can never be taken back. Nor is it all heavy going; within the drama and the passion is woven a fair share of tempering humor and even moments of unblemished joy. And underneath it all, like an ancient spring buried just below the surface, bubbles the steady and unbroken effect exerted by the subtext of race. Playwright Wilson wrote “Ma Rainey” as part of what would be a 10-play cycle documenting black life in America throughout the 20th century, informed by a childhood
in which he experienced ﬁrst-hand the grip of poverty exacerbated by inequality and inspired by the blues music he had loved from an early age. It’s not a biography of its title character; rather, it’s a ﬁctional exploration of themes that spread, like fractals, from the exploitation of black artists – of black voices – by white culture, to reveal the subtle but insidious effects of racial oppression. When I write about ﬁlm, I usually try to remove myself from the discussion; but as a white writer, it’s not possible for me to comment on how “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” conveys Black experience. I can say that, to me, it felt powerfully authentic, that it moved me, and that I believed I held a deeper empathy at the end of it. I might also be M-TH 11:30AM-10PM • F-SAT 11:30AM-11PM able, as a gay man, to recognize and relate to the familiar patterns, SUN. BRUNCH 11AM-3PM / DINNER 3-10PM charted so clearly by Wilson throughout his play, that frequently mark the internal politics of the oppressed – the jockeying for positions of 322 MASS. AVE. NE • 202.543.7656 favor, the bitterness of the rejected, the misdirection of frustration and anger toward self and each other – and the further conﬂicts that arise between generations as that frustration and anger grow in the face of a system built on keeping you down. I can certainly say that those brought in for Boseman or Davis will have no reason to be disappointed. Davis has nothing to prove, and nothing to lose, which makes her perfect to capture the beautiful monster that Wilson created in his vision of Ma Rainey. She is every inch the sullen, confrontational diva, exacting, petty, and sometimes cruel; yet her every moment onscreen conveys the absolving truth that the only way to claim power from an oppressor is to make him fear you – along with the terrible thrill that comes of living on that dangerous edge. As for Boseman, his performance here can only serve to cement his status as a legendary talent, taken too soon. As the complex, conﬂicted, driven, and dangerous Levee, he is electrifying; he instills a deliberately polarizing ﬁgure with total humanity, while never losing the edge that makes him an antagonist for almost every character around him. His work is made all the more extraordinary by the fact that he was dying of colorectal cancer when he ﬁlmed it – something perhaps evidenced by a gaunt appearance, but in no way by the intensity and passion of his performance. The rest of the cast is made up of less familiar faces, but they form a solid ensemble that’s every bit as capable as the stars they support. PROOF #1 ISSUE DATE: 20-12-18 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: JOE HICKLING (jhickling@washb Behind the camera, director George C. Wolfe does an outstanding REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. job of keeping the ﬁlm grounded in its theatrical origins while giving Proof will be considered ﬁnal and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of the of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts REVISIONS it an expanded feel for the screen – mostly accomplished date through omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is REDESIGN responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws stylistic choices rather than expanding scenes or settingscan –linkrgihts and TEXT REVISIONS or any of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, IMAGE/LOGO REVISIONS unfair competition, screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson provides an adaptation that is defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or A regulation, or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia NO REVISIONS llc (dba the washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless B right in tune with that approach. from any and all liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses w that may be incurred by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the p foregoing representations and warranties. When you add the musical contributions of Branford Marsalis and a handful of stellar renditions of some of Rainey’s classic blues songs, you have more than enough ingredients to make a damn good movie. Considering that, perhaps what I can say about “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” might prove to be the best reason of all to watch it - it’s one of the most thoroughly well-rounded, excellently made ﬁlms of the year. And if it helps you get a little closer to understanding what it’s like to be Black in America, then so much the better.
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Ranger, Wrangler make for sensible, enjoyable rides By JOE PHILLIPS
Earlier this year, I wrote about my ﬁrst car: a used sports coupe with a souped-up engine. My mom bought me this sexy ride when I was a high-school band nerd. Yes, some moms are cool, even if they are living NASCAR dreams through their kids. Before moving to California after college, I tossed aside my bad-ass cred and talked mom into selling me her Pontiac Bonneville station wagon. Driving across country in a gigantic land yacht—with its crushed-velour seats and faux wood siding—was more practical than a two-door hot rod. Luckily, this woody was also a blast. My new West Coast friends loved tumbling into it to head to concerts and Dodgers games. And when I came out of the closet, my boyfriends were somehow attracted to a geeky 20-something who had a honkin’ family wagon. All I
FORD RANGER SUPERCREW XLT $35,000 | Mpg: 22 city/24 highway | 0 to 60 mph: 7 seconds The Ford Ranger has a split personality, with the functionality of a pickup and the smoothness of a crossover. As a midsizer, it’s easy to park this truck anywhere. And braking and cornering are impressive. This hauler that can tow up to 7,500 pounds, with a best-inclass payload capacity of 1,860 pounds. All Rangers come with Wi-Fi hotspot and forwardcollision warning, which can automatically apply the brakes. Available in two- or four-door models, the mid-level XLT trim level is affordable yet offers gobs of amenities, including alloy wheels, keyless entry and smartphone integration. Various packages add powerfolding mirrors, nav system, rear-parking sensors and other gear. I liked the acceleration of the XLT, though the base-model Ranger is lighter and scoots even faster.
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know is it helped me get dates. The two haulers below—one a plucky Ford pickup and the other an all-terrain Jeep—may be more exciting than my Bonneville beast, but they’re just as sensible. I became wistful just test-driving them, wishing these vehicles could ferry family and friends to lively gettogethers. But at least my partner and I could ﬁll them with plenty of groceries and other supplies, which meant fewer shopping trips and less time at the store during a pandemic. We did take the time to just drive around town each day, breaking free of cabin fever and trying to keep our sanity. And we also spent time reminiscing about my mom, who passed away earlier this year and would have loved both of these rides. After all, she’s the one who really had an eye for fun cars.Luckily, this woody was also
JEEP WRANGLER UNLIMITED RUBICON $43,000 | Mpg: 21 city/26 highway | 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds Nothing says retro like a Jeep Wrangler. The base model doesn’t even have air conditioning, power windows or power door locks. Talk about spartan. But depending on trim level—there are more than a dozen—today’s Wranglers offer heated seats and steering wheel, automatic climate control, remote engine start, keyless entry, tinted windows and more. Passenger room is snug and the cabin isn’t exactly soundproof. But Jeep buyers aren’t looking for opulence: They want an adventure. And rugged Wranglers deliver, with removable doors, removable roof and a folding windshield. While all versions come with four-wheel drive, the Unlimited Rubicon—the most popular trim—comes with sportier styling and serious off-road traction. This Wrangler feels like a Tonka toy for adults, with optional hilldescent control, blind-spot monitor and premium Alpine stereo. For true grit, the Unlimited Rubicon 392—at a pricey $60,000—boasts a stunning 470-hp V8 Hemi engine, muscular cladding and four tailpipes pumping out a heady exhaust growl. Lucky for greener thrillseekers, there’s now a Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid.
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Back to Basics, a fundraiser for N Street Village Center empowers homeless, low-income women in D.C. By JENN SMIRA
For most, 2020 has been a year plagued by feelings of hopelessness and futility. And after eight months spent keeping our distance, watching, and waiting, it’s fair to say that COVID fatigue is a real thing. The Jenn Smira Team, like all of us these days, is no stranger to any of these feelings. But this holiday season, we’ve decided to do something about it. How? By turning that fatigue and frustration into philanthropic action.
holiday season by collecting donations and purchasing much-needed, everyday items from the village’s Amazon Wishlist. The truth is—it’s often these everyday (or basic) items that get overlooked, but that could make all the difference for someone looking to bounce back after one of the most trying years to date.
Brought to you by The Jenn Smira Team, Back to Basics is a fundraiser for N Street Village, a center that empowers homeless and low-income women in Washington, D.C., to claim their highest quality of life by offering a broad spectrum of services, housing, and advocacy set in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. At N Street Village, women can learn to achieve stability by making meaningful gains in their housing, income, employment, mental health, physical health, and addiction recovery. N Street serves nearly 2,000 homeless and low-income women each year, women who could use our support right now, more than ever.
The mission behind Back to Basics is grounded in practicality, but the connection our team has to N Street Village is deeply personal. For starters, their ofﬁce is located right next door, and they’ve volunteered here as a team countless times.
At N Street Village, women can learn to achieve stability by making meaningful gains in their housing, income, employment, and more. (Photo courtesy N Street Village)
So, what is Back to Basics? It’s a mission to support the everyday needs of this vital community during the
We’ve gotten to know the ladies who call N Street home, and seen ﬁrst-hand the power this community has to transform lives. Not to mention the fact that the owner is one of their long-term clients. In short? Our team knows it takes a village, and we’re immensely proud to be a part of this one.
Interested in getting back to basics with them this holiday season? The Jenn Smira Team is collecting donations at: gofundme.com/f/back-to-basics-jst-campaign in order to purchase these must-needed, everyday items from the village’s Amazon Wishlist. Every dollar counts.
3 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • DECEMBER 1 8 , 2 0 2 0 • B US I NE S S
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As 2020 draws to a close, I wanted to thank my fabulous clients, friends and neighbors for your business and support throughout the year. I am extremely grateful for the trust you placed in me to help you buy or sell your home, and for your thoughtful referrals to others who are interested in the real estate market in Northern Virginia. It has been my pleasure to be of service. HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOURS!
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