Washingtonblade.com, Volume 52, Issue 06, February 05, 2021

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Mr. Buttigieg goes to Washington Gay Cabinet member makes history after Senate confirmation,

(Photo courtesy of the Office of the Vice President)


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All material in the Washington Blade is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Washington Blade. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representation does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of that person or persons. Although the Washington Blade is supported by many fine advertisers, we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Washington Blade, but the paper cannot take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. A single copy of the Washington Blade is available from authorized distribution points, to any individual within a 50-mile radius of Washington, D.C. Multiple copies are available from the Washington Blade office only. Call for rates. If you are unable to get to a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 52-week mailed subscription for $195 per year or $5.00 per single issue. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Phil Rockstroh at prockstroh@ washblade.com. Postmaster: Send address changes to the Washington Blade, PO BOX 53352 Washington, DC 20009. The Washington Blade is published weekly, on Friday, by Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. Individual Subscriptions are $195 per year for 52 issues (only $3.75 per issue mailed to you USPS). Rates for businesses/institutions are $450 per year. Periodical postage paid at Washington, D.C., and additional mailing offices. Editorial positions of the Washington Blade are expressed in editorials and in editors’ notes as determined by the paper’s editors. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Washington Blade or its staff. To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words; commentaries should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for verification. Send submissions by e-mail to knaff@washblade.com.


2021 D.C. Pride parade, festival canceled for June Organizers considering smaller block party for October By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

Organizers of D.C.’s annual Capital Pride Parade and Festival announced this week that due to ongoing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade and festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row for LGBTQ Pride Month in June. But in a Jan. 27 statement, the Capital Pride Alliance said with the possibility that at least some COVID restrictions would be lifted in the fall, organizers are considering “a new take on the traditional parade” in October. “It depends on how things are looking with COVID and what restrictions are in place and what type of permits the city is actually approving,” said Ryan Bos, executive director of Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s Pride events. “But our hope would be we would be able to do a smaller in-person parade come this fall,” Bos told the Washington Blade. “It would be shorter and have less contingents.” Bos said Capital Pride organizers are also hopeful that a curtailment of the COVID restrictions will enable them to hold a Pride block party in October as a replacement for the festival, but he said no decision has been made about where in the city such a block party would be held.

“Due to the ongoing pandemic, we will not be able to celebrate Pride this June,” the group’s statement says. “However, Capital Pride Alliance is actively working to create unique and inspiring opportunities this Pride month in place of our usual festivities,” the statement says. According to the statement, one event planned for February will a “first ever” Pride Summit called #StillWeLead, which will take place virtually. Bos said the free-ofcharge summit will take place on four successive Thursday evenings beginning the last Thursday in February and will involve discussions among leaders and members of LGBTQ organizations and anyone else in the community interested in participating. The statement says Capital Pride is also conducting an economic impact survey of participants in past Capital Pride events who live both in D.C. and in surrounding states who have been regular participants in D.C. pride events each year. “It will measure the impact that individuals have by attending the Capital Pride celebration and it will also help make Pride bigger, better, and more accessible and inclusive to all,” says the statement. Capital Pride is urging people to take the survey in time for a Feb. 3 deadline for completing it by visiting CapitalPride.org/survey. Bos said other virtual Pride events are being planned for June, which will be announced in the coming weeks. “The Capital Pride Alliance is determined to continue its award-winning programs developed in 2020, such as Pride Talks and the web series Pride in the City,” the Capital Pride statement says in referring to online virtual events. “Perhaps most importantly, we are planning to bring our community back together for an unforgettable, large-scale Pride in 2022, and have set our eyes on 2025 when we will celebrate 50 years of Pride in the Nation’s Capital,” the statement concludes.

MCC Church minister to run for D.C. congressional delegate seat Rev. Wendy Hamilton to challenge Eleanor Holmes Norton in 2022 By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

A Protestant minister who was ordained at the Metropolitan Community Church of D.C., which is part of the worldwide LGBTQ Christian denomination Universal Fellowship of MCC Churches and who describes herself a strong LGBTQ ally, has announced her candidacy for the D.C. Congressional Delegate seat in the city’s June 2022 Democratic primary. Rev. Wendy Hamilton, who would be challenging longtime D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton if Norton runs for re-election, declared her candidacy for the delegate seat at a Jan. 30 ceremony in front of the statue of famed black civil rights advocate Mary McLeod Bethune in D.C.’ s Lincoln Park near Capitol Hill. “I am running for Congress because there is a need for a fundamental change in direction, culture and mindset of this country,” Hamilton says in a statement on her campaign website. “We are stuck in a never-ending cycle and expect different results,” her statement says. “We have to shift to a more human centered approach to government that is holistic in its assessment of its citizens’ needs,” she said. “The status quo will not do. We need a new approach and I want to be a part of that.” In her announcement speech Hamilton said she would be a strong advocate for D.C. statehood and for a “progressive” agenda that would include education and criminal justice reform, improved mental health services, environmental justice, and affordable housing. She said she would also push for a “universal basic income” through which “each D.C. resident would be given $1,000 a month free and clear for life,” according to her website statement. When asked by the Washington Blade after her announcement speech what message she would have for LGBTQ people in D.C. as to why they should vote for her, she said she would continue to be a strong supporter of LGBTQ equality. “The LGBTQ community has been so instrumental in my life to the point that I wouldn’t probably be standing here as an ordained minister if it wasn’t for the Metropolitan Community Churches that have ordained me, that took me in and invited me in as an ally of the community and have treated me like family,” Hamilton told the Blade. “For the last year and a half prior to the pandemic I was the part-time pastor of the Open Door Metropolitan Community Church,” she said, referring to the MCC in Germantown, Md. “My entire congregation was the LGBTQ community. And I learned from my mother how to accept people for who they are,” she said.

Rev. WENDY HAMILTON declared her candidacy for the delegate seat at a Jan. 30 ceremony in D.C.’ s Lincoln Park near Capitol Hill. (Photo courtesy of the Hamilton campaign)

“And I also understand from my faith that God loves everyone. And so, I’ve always felt a very strong connection and allyship if you will.” Norton, a beloved figure in D.C. politics and longtime LGBTQ rights advocate who has held the D.C. congressional delegate seat for 30 years, ran unopposed in the 2020 D.C. Democratic primary. She won re-election in the November general election with 86.3 percent of the vote in an eight-candidate race, with none of her lesser-known opponents receiving more than 2.05 percent of the vote. The Blade asked Hamilton if she considers Norton’s popularity among D.C. voters a possible insurmountable challenge if Norton runs for re-election. “Actually, I don’t in a sense that I respect Eleanor Holmes Norton,” Hamilton said. “She’s my elder. She has done a wonderful job for this city. And I have nothing bad to say about her,” Hamilton continued. “I walk in those footsteps. What I believe is that I am running for D.C., not against Eleanor. And that was what motivated me to step into this role and decide to present what I feel is the continuation, if you will.” Most D.C. political observers consider Norton the odds-on favorite to win in 2022 if she decides to run for another term. Should Norton decide not to run again, a large number of well-known political figures with greater name recognition than Hamilton would be expected to enter the race for Norton’s seat, political observers say. Hamilton’s positions on a wide range of issues can be accessed at revwendyforcongress.com. LO CA L NE WS • F E B R UA RY 0 5 , 2 0 2 1 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 0 5

Pepco CEO says D.C. equity, job program open to LGBTQ people Joint effort with Washington Interfaith Network announced By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

is a “broad-based, multi-racial, multi-faith strictly David Velazquez, president and CEO of the nonpartisan, District-wide citizens’ power Potomac Electric Power Company known as Pepco, organization, rooted in local congregations and stated at a virtual press briefing on Jan. 28 that associations.” The statement says the organization a joint project that Pepco and the Washington brings together leaders “across the divides of race, Interfaith Network (WIN) have launched this week to religion, income, and neighborhoods” to push for “advance equity, inclusion, economic opportunity affordable housing, public safety, and good jobs, and social justice” for underserved communities in among other things. D.C. will be fully inclusive of LGBTQ people. “This partnership will result in increased hiring Velazquez and WIN co-founders Rev. H. Lionel and training opportunities for local and diverse Edmonds and Rev. Joseph Daniels Jr. told the press residents and increased contracting opportunities briefing the partnership that Pepco and WIN have for local and diverse suppliers,” Velazquez said at created was aimed at pushing aggressively for the briefing. “Also, through these existing planned higher wages and more career opportunities for efforts we’re going to be investing millions of dollars more District residents and to help expand local in programs and initiatives that will serve lowand diverse businesses, including minority-owned income households and traditionally underserved businesses. communities,” Velazquez said. D.C. Council members Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) ‘When we talk about being inclusive and equitable, that’s what we’re driving for, “We are proud to partner with Pepco to increase and Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), who participated to be able to include everyone,’ said Pepco Holdings CEO DAVID VELAZQUEZ. access to good job opportunities in some of the in the briefing, expressed strong support for the joint (Photo courtesy of Pepco; ‘LOVE’ mural © 2017 by Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Commissioned and funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DC Creates Public Art Building Communities Program) wards with the highest unemployment rates in the Pepco-WIN effort to boost economic opportunities District by increasing its local hiring through the D.C. for D.C. residents. Infrastructure Academy,” WIN co-founder Edmonds said. Through the press briefing’s moderator, Sheila Brooks, the Washington Blade asked The D.C. Infrastructure Academy is a joint D.C. government program that partners with whether LGBTQ people, who are a part of the diverse communities the Pepco-WIN program Pepco, unions, local universities and other private sector partners to help D.C. residents find is seeking to help, would be welcome to join in the various aspects of the program. infrastructure related jobs. “Yes, that’s a simple answer, absolutely,” Velazquez said. “We’re looking, again, as I “This agreement serves as a nationwide and even global example for what corporate mentioned before, we’re looking to reach out to all the communities, all the residents. You accountability looks like when communities organize to put their interests in racial equity know, when we talk about being inclusive and equitable, that’s what we’re driving for, to be and economic justice on the table,” Edmonds said in referring to the joint WIN-Pepco able to include everyone and helping everyone move forward,” he said. partnership. A joint statement released by Pepco and WIN says WIN, which was founded in 1996,

Comings & Goings

Goines takes new post at Victory Fund By PETER ROSENSTEIN

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: comingsandgoings@ washblade.com. Congratulations to Ron L. Goines on his new position as Managing Director of Development with the Victory Fund & Victory Institute. Upon accepting the position he said, “For nearly a decade, I have supported the work of Victory Fund and Victory Institute because of their impact on American politics and the movement for LGBTQ equality. I am thrilled to build upon my history with the organizations at a time when the importance of leadership is so evident. LGBTQ leaders are needed now more than RON L. GOINES STEPHEN BELCOURT BRYANT SANDERS ever and I am ready to ensure these elected officials and candidates have (Photo courtesy Ron L. Goines) (Photo courtesy Stephen Belcourt) (Photo courtesy Bryant Sanders) the programs and resources they need to succeed.” Prior to joining the Victory Fund, Goines was Director of Major Gifts Congratulations also to Bryant Sanders, director and co-founder of the new company and Corporate Relations with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Grassroots Analytics Non-Profit (GANP). The company aims to disrupt traditional event-based D.C. Before that he was with Planned Parenthood Southeast, Atlanta, as Vice President of and high-dollar donor fundraising models to more efficiently generate consistent revenue Development and had worked for a number of Planned Parenthood offices in Texas. He also for mission-focused organizations. Sanders said, “I’m looking forward to using the power of worked with AIDS Foundation, Houston and the Human Rights Campaign in Texas. data and analytics to support progressive organizations, which takes the guesswork out of Goines has his bachelor’s in politics with a minor in African-American Studies from fundraising. We want to help nonprofits meet goals they may have previously found out of Oberlin College in Ohio. reach.” Congratulations also to Stephen Belcourt who joined Talis (a SAGE Publishing Company) GANP uses a vetted and prospected proprietary database of more than 17 million as Sales Manager, North America. Belcourt said, “We work with over 100 institutions donors and can accurately and efficiently identify new prospective donors and the best globally, helping them reach strategic goals around teaching & learning, learner analytics mission-aligned messaging to cultivate those donors into long-term giving relationships. and student experience. Our products are Talis Aspire, an online resource list that integrates Prior to co-founding this company, he worked for The Center for Voter Information and seamlessly with your Learning Management System and Library Management System; and Voter Participation as Deputy Director of Development. Before that he was with Victory Fund Talis Elevate, a universal content player that enables collaboration, engagement and insight & Victory Institute as Corporate and Foundation Gifts Manager. He has also worked as a into resources.” Universities and colleges throughout North America will be Belcourt’s Donor Relations Manager for the D.C. Central Kitchen and for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand market. as a staff assistant. He previously worked for ProQuest and RefWorks-COS as an Account Manager. He has his He has his bachelor’s in Public Affairs with a concentration in Ethics and a minor in German MSc International Management, University of Liverpool, Laureate International Universities. from Wells College, Aurora, N.Y. 0 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 05 , 2 0 2 1 • LO CA L NE WS

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Financial manager, Blade film critic Brian Carney dies at 58

Brian T. Carney, a financial manager and fundraiser for nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C. area and other states who served for the past nine years as the film and television critic for the Washington Blade, died on Jan. 28 from complications associated with congestive heart failure and advanced kidney disease. He was 58. Known for his talent and skills in financial management and writing, Carney has told friends and associates that he had a passion for using both words and numbers. Among the nonprofit organizations he worked with in financial management include the D.C.BRIAN CARNEY worked as the Blade’s based AIDS United and National LGBTQ Task TV and film critic for nine years. Force, the Pittsburgh-based Kuntu Repertory Theatre, and the Cincinnati-based Educational Theatre Association. In his role as the Blade’s film and TV critic Carney wrote reviews, previews and interviews about movie releases and regional film festivals. His reviews often focused on films and TV shows with LGBTQ subjects and characters. In one of his last reviews for the Blade in September before he became too ill to continue writing, Carney provided an interesting glimpse of the fall of 2020 film releases, including films with an LGBTQ theme. “Brian was a beloved member of the Washington Blade family,” said Blade editor Kevin Naff. “He was a total pro, and his insightful columns of film criticism elevated our arts coverage and will live forever in our archive. All of us at the Blade will miss his sense of humor and passion for the arts and for writing.” Carney’s husband, Brian Long, said Carney was born and raised in Monroe, Conn. A writeup about Carney that Long provided to the Blade and Carney’s LinkedIn page show he

earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in urban studies and management. He received a master’s degree in fine arts with a field of study in theater and playwriting at Southern Illinois University, his LinkedIn page says. Prior to writing for the Blade, Carney worked for 10 months as senior manager of compliance and grants management at AIDS United, the D.C. group that advocates for people with HIV and AIDS. Other nonprofit groups he worked for as a financial manager and fundraiser in other states, his LinkedIn page says, were the International Baccalaureate Organization and the Advocacy Institute. Among the volunteer work he performed in recent and past years included serving on the Steering Committee for the LGBT Alumni Association at the University of Pennsylvania; as the founding artistic director for of the theater group Lavender Productions; and as a member of GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics. Long said he and Carney, who lived in Wheaton, Md., for the past seven and a half years, had been a couple since 2007 and were married in 2014. He said the two first met when they lived in Pittsburgh and that Carney lived and worked in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York City before moving to the D.C. area. “I am grateful that we got to do so many awesome things together,” said Long. “We got to see a lot of theater and movies,” he said. “With Brian’s family and friends spread out all over, along with the challenges of COVID-19, there will be no memorial services,” Long told the Blade. Carney is survived by his husband, Brian Long and their three cats, Ava, Zephyr, and Jack. He is also survived by his mother, Barbara Carney; his sister, Susan Baxter; his nephew, Joey Baxter of Leeds, Ala.; his mother-in-law, Carol Long, of Greensburg, Pa..; and by the MadsenHoskin family of Harrisburg, Pa. Long said memorial donations in Carney’s name can be made to the Visiting Nurses Association of Indiana County, Pa.., which provided care for Carney when he first became ill with diabetes while living in Pennsylvania via https://vnaindiana.org. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Beloved Univ. of Md. student, LGBTQ activist Jude Maloney dies at 19

Jude Maloney, a third-year student at the University of Maryland at College Park who identified as a transgender male and who was active with LGBTQ campus organizations, including the Pride Alliance and the group TransU, died on Jan. 25 at Maloney’s off-campus residence at the age of 19 People who knew Maloney said Maloney preferred the pronouns he/him or they/their. A statement released by Luke Jensen, director of the university’s LGBT Equity Center, where Maloney worked part-time, did not disclose a cause of death but said there was “no foul play nor was it related to COVID-19.” During a Feb. 2 virtual service of remembrance for Maloney organized by the College Park campus’s Lutheran Ministry, with which Maloney was involved, people who knew Maloney referred to the death as a suicide. “Jude was an outstanding student studying Information Science and was a member of the University Honors program in the Honors College,” the statement released by the LGBT Equity Center says. “They were an integral part of various campus communities including Lutheran campus ministries,” says the statement. “In addition to their responsibilities as student staff in the LGBT Equity Center, they were involved in many of our programs including the Speakers Bureau, the Lavender Leadership Honor Society, and as a student leader for Q Camp,” the statement continues. “Jude was active with several student groups including the Pride Alliance and TransU,’ it says. “They brought joy and light whenever we saw them,” the statement adds. Rev. Ray Ranker, pastor and chaplain for the Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Maryland at College Park, said Maloney grew up in Calvert County, Md.

“I would say that two important parts of who Jude was include that they were a faithful Christian and that they were a transgender person,” Ranker said. “And so, Jude was active with the LGBT Equity Center, was very active in our campus ministry, was a Sunday school teacher for Hope Lutheran Church at the campus.” Information released by the Lee Funeral Home in Maryland says Maloney’s family received friends at a visitation held at the funeral home on Feb. 2. Ranker, who attended the visitation, said family members and friends then attended the internment of Maloney’s ashes at the Chesapeake Highlands Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Port Republic, Md. “Jude was a loving child, and friend,” a statement JUDE MALONEY was a junior at the released by the funeral homes says. “Any person University of Maryland College Park. who knew or worked with Jude knows what a kind, brilliant, quirky, and tenderhearted person Jude was,” the statement says. “Jude touched many lives and will be greatly missed by all.” Maloney is survived by parents, Leah Woods and Patrick Maloney; sisters Amanda Webber and Anna Louise Webber, and many friends, including fellow students at the University of Maryland. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

D.C. resident, business dev’l expert Jeffrey Hosley dies at 60 Jeffrey Steven Hosley, a longtime Dupont Circle resident who had a long career in strategic business development and enterprise sales for companies including AOL, Anystream, Brightcove, and Amazon, died unexpectedly on Jan. 22 of undisclosed causes. He was 60. Born in Los Angeles on June 7, 1961, Hosley took his role as Boy Scout and big brother seriously and was always there for his little sister Wendy, according to a statement released by family and friends. He was a talented salesman and began working as a paperboy at age 12. Hosley earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Penn State JEFFREY STEVEN HOSLEY

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University and a master’s degree in management information systems from Boston University. He is survived by his parents Patricia and Roy, sister Wendy, partner Charlie, beloved dogs Buck and Nick, and a large circle of friends. A virtual memorial will take place on Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. To attend, use this link: https://bit.ly/3oLrIQh. To visit Hosley’s memorial website to share memories, donate to one of his favorite charities, and stay up-to-date regarding planned events and the memorial fund being created in his name, visit: https://bit.ly/36yIz2C. STAFF REPORTS

JEFFREY STEVEN HOSLEY Born: June 7, 1961 - Died: January 22, 2021

Jeffrey Steven Hosley lived spectacularly and with his whole heart. Jeff was so brilliant at loving and laughing and ribbing and kidding and holding and healing the people he loved, that many of us call him, “my best friend.” Jeff remembered every restaurant server’s name, and was the kind of friend who’d grill a flank steak for your sick dog, or throw a party for your friend he barely knew if your apartment was too small. As host of Hosley Hall, his table was always abundant with delicious food and lively conversation. Jeff was a delightful teller of tales, a wise counselor and the greatest connecter of people we have ever known. Born in Los Angeles, CA on June 7th, 1961, Jeff was serious and thoughtful in his early years. Jeff took his role as boy scout and big brother seriously and was always there for his little sister Wendy- with requisite doses of brotherly teasing. A talented salesman from the start, Jeff began working as a paperboy at age 12. Having earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Penn State and Master’s degree in management information systems from Boston University, he excelled throughout his career in strategic business development and enterprise sales for companies including AOL, Anystream, Brightcove and Amazon. In both his work and personal life, Jeff could engage any audience, solve any problem, and build bridges between ideas as well as people. In the DC Dupont Circle neighborhood that was his home for nearly 30 years, Jeff was an ambassador of inclusion, kindness and community. Being friends with Jeff meant being friends with his dogs, and with his beloved rescue Boston Terriers Cooper, Buck and Nick in tow, Jeff brightened and bettered the shops, restaurants and local dog park, where he created so many deep and lasting friendships. Jeff knew no strangers; to the world he was a friend, and to his friends he was the world. And so it is inexplicable and tragic that on the evening of Friday, January 22nd, 2021, Jeff died unexpectedly at his home. His parents Patricia and Roy, sister Wendy, partner Charlie, canine kids Buck and Nick, and innumerable host of friends are bound together by loss and love and deepest gratitude for an extraordinary, irreplaceable man. He will live on in the best parts of all of us. A Virtual Memorial will take place on Saturday, February 6th at 6pm. To attend, please use this link: https://bit.ly/3oLrIQh Please visit Jeff’s memorial website to share memories, donate to one of Jeff’s favorite charities, and stay up-to-date regarding planned events and the memorial fund being created in Jeff’s name: https://bit.ly/36yIz2C

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In historic first, Buttigieg confirmed as Cabinet-level appointee Racial equity a priority in role as Transportation Secretary By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

Pete Buttigieg was approved by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday as transportation secretary with bipartisan support, marking the first time an openly gay person has been confirmed to a Cabinet-level position and a long overdue achievement for the LGBTQ community. The vote to confirm Buttigieg, the former South Bend mayor who was nominated by President Biden after making history in the 2020 Democratic primary as an openly gay candidate, was 86-13. The Democratic caucus was united in support for Buttigieg. Among the Republicans joining them were Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Kennedy (R-La.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). The 13 Republicans voting “no” were Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Many of them are likely 2024 Republican presidential contenders. With that vote, Buttigieg and his spouse, Chasten Buttigieg, will leave their lives in the Midwest to become Washington insiders in a script that could be a play on American filmography — “Mr. Buttigieg Goes to Washington.” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor prior to the confirmation vote Buttigieg is an “outstanding nominee” who has “demonstrated an impressive familiarity with our nation’s entire transportation challenges,” including the proposed gateway tunnel from New Jersey to New York City. “I know that Mr. Buttigieg is committed to working with members from both sides to improve rail and transit, highways and more in rural communities, urban centers and everywhere in between,” Schumer said. “I’m excited to call him ‘Secretary Pete’ by the end of the day.” The bipartisan vote reflects the confirmation hearing for Buttigieg, when he enjoyed a relatively breezy reception by lawmakers from both parties on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation (with the exception of hostile questions from Cruz). Buttigieg, during his testimony before the committee, said renewing America’s infrastructure would be key to his approach as transportation secretary. Buttigieg also said any renewal of the transportation system would be sensitive to racial equity, which is consistent with President Biden’s campaign pledge to tackle systemic racism. Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a statement Buttigieg “shattered a centuries-old political barrier” by winning Senate confirmation to a Cabinet-level role as an openly gay person with bipartisan support. “While his confirmation is historic, Pete is focused on the difficult task ahead,” Parker said. “America is in desperate need of a revitalized transportation effort and his two terms as mayor provide the experience and perspective needed to propose bold solutions. America is fortunate to have Pete as their secretary of transportation.” Buttigieg won the historic designation amid a dispute over whether or not he should be considered the first openly gay person to serve in a Cabinet role. During the Trump administration, Richard Grenell served as acting director of national intelligence, a Cabinet-level role. Grenell, however, never sought or won Senate confirmation for the position, although he was confirmed for his concurrent position as U.S. ambassador to Germany. James Hormel, who became the first openly gay ambassador in U.S. history in 1999 after former President Clinton designated him in a recess appointment as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, said Buttigieg can rightfully claim the title of first openly gay Cabinet official because of the “acting” nature of Grenell’s role, although the Trump White House had insisted the distinction belongs to Grenell. Undisputedly, however, Buttigieg is the first openly gay person to win Senate confirmation specifically for a Cabinet-level position. To be sure, other openly gay people have won Senate confirmation, just not for Cabinet-level roles. The first was Roberta Achtenberg, who was confirmed in 1993 as assistant secretary for the Department of Housing & Urban Development. The long list includes presidential appointees, ambassadors and judicial nominations, many of them for senior positions just shy of Cabinet-level roles. Among them is Fred Hochberg, who served during the Obama years as head of the Export-Import Bank; Eric Fanning, confirmed as Army secretary after a long battle in the Senate in 2016; and Patrick Bumatay, appointed by former President Trump to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and now the highest-ranking out federal judge. In many ways, Buttigieg’s confirmation as first openly gay person to a Cabinet-level

PETE BUTTIGIEG was confirmed with bipartisan support as transportation secretary. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

position is a long overdue vote buttoning up the progress and historic confirmations the LGBTQ community has achieved in recent years. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) was among the senators who took to the Senate floor in support of Buttigieg and gave a shout-out to Chasten Buttigieg. “As a Midwesterner, and as a husband to a Michigander who was born and raised in Traverse City, Secretary-designate Buttigieg fully recognizes the need to protect the Great Lakes,” Peters said. “I agree with Mayor Pete’s belief that he says, ‘Good transportation policy can play no less a role than making possible the American Dream.’” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) also praised Buttigieg on the Senate floor and said she “enthusiastically” supports Buttigieg because he’s up to facing the nation’s transportation challenges. “I look forward to the type of focus that he can give to the Department of Transportation,” Cantwell added. “This area of our government, right now, needs to address the COVID crisis, it needs to help us plan for a better transportation system of the future and it needs to understand that this transportation infrastructure and investment in these changes in these sectors of cars and planes and passenger systems are all changing industries, and so our competitiveness will be at stake as well.” Another Biden nominee, Rachel Levine, may soon achieve another first for the LGBTQ community upon confirmation as assistant secretary of health and become the first openly transgender person to win Senate confirmation. Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, congratulated Buttigieg for his “historic confirmation” in a statement. “This confirmation breaks through a barrier that has existed for too long; where LGBTQ identity served as an impediment to nomination or confirmation at the highest level of government,” David said. “Let this important moment for our movement serve as a reminder to every LGBTQ young person: you too can serve your country in any capacity you earn the qualifications to hold.” David also credited President Biden for achieving the historic first for the LGBTQ community, saying Buttigieg’s confirmation follows through on a commitment to diversity. “President Biden promised to deliver an administration representative of the diversity of this nation, and this confirmation is a significant achievement toward that goal,” David said. Ruben Gonzales, executive director of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a statement Buttigieg’s confirmation is a “testament” to both Biden’s commitment to inclusivity and the American people’s “willingness to judge a leader by their qualifications, not their sexual orientation.” “Each new political barrier broken inspires more LGBTQ people to consider careers in public service, a virtuous cycle we will accelerate until equitable representation is achieved,” Gonzales added.


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Marjorie Taylor Greene backs bill to ban Pride flags at embassies Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), the new QAnon-affiliated member of Congress under scrutiny for spreading wild and blatantly false conspiracy theories on social media, has come out in favor of legislation that would effectively bar U.S. embassies from flying Pride flags. Greene announced she’d co-sponsor the legislation, known as the Old Glory Only Act and introduced last month by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-Ga.), in a statement Monday echoing President Trump’s call for “America First” in foreign policy, which has been criticized as xenophobic. “During my campaign for Congress, I promised that I would always put America First,” Greene said. “That means that only the Stars and Stripes should fly over our embassies in foreign countries. President Biden’s State Department has already raised a flag over our embassies that doesn’t represent the vast majority of Americans.” Justifying her position in support of the Old Glory Only Act, Greene objects to the idea of U.S. embassies flying Black Lives Matter flags, which she said are symbols amounting to “Hate America Flags.” Last year, the U.S. embassy in South Korea had displayed a Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride flag in June, but was forced to take it down after former President Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were displeased, according to Bloomberg News. “In the past, rogue members of the State Department flew the flag of the radical Marxist group, Black Lives Matter,” Greene said. “The domestic terrorists represented by that flag have burned down our cities with the mission of defunding our police. We should NOT be flying a flag of a group who wants to erase our history and bring mass destruction to our country through Communism.” But the Old Glory Only Act would effectively continue a Trump policy barring the display of Pride flags on the same pole as the U.S. flag at U.S. embassies. The onesentence piece of legislation states, “This bill prohibits the flying of any flag other than the U.S. flag over U.S. diplomatic and consular posts.” In 2019, the State Department under the Trump administration issued a directive prohibiting U.S. embassies from flying any flag other than the U.S. flag, which effectively barred them from displaying the Pride flag in recognition of June as Pride Month. Trump defenders downplayed the directive by saying the policy only blocked the display of Pride flags on the official flagpole and allowed embassies to display Pride flags and other materials elsewhere. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his confirmation hearing earlier this month, affirmed he’d reverse the Trump policy and once again allow embassies to fly the U.S. Pride flag. A State Department spokesperson had no comment on the Old Glory Only Act, citing a practice of no comment on pending legislation. The bill has virtually no chance of passing with Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress. Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, said Greene’s support for the Old Glory Only Act demonstrates she “wants to hide behind the bill’s fake patriotism to insult the Black Lives Matter movement for racial equality.” Although the Old Glory Only Act doesn’t say anything explicitly about Pride flags, Bromley called the legislation a “hateful bill” and said it was “originally introduced to prevent U.S. embassies from celebrating Pride events by displaying the rainbow

MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) has co-sponsored legislation that would ban Pride flags at U.S. embassies. (Screen capture via YouTube)

flag during Pride month in June.” “The bill is just a huge distraction,” Bromley said. “Those celebrations never sought to substitute ‘Old Glory’ for the Pride flag – instead, some U.S. embassies sought to honor Old Glory’s promise of unity within our diversity by flying the Pride flag along with our national flag.” Greene, however, in her statement cast the legislation in a different light and said the U.S. government “should only be flying the flag that represents ALL people, the American flag.” “We need to bring back pride in our country and raise the Star Spangled Banner proudly,” Greene said “Old Glory represents our great American military and their sacrifices to ensure our freedom. This isn’t a political issue. This is about patriotism, and we need more of it.” Among the recently emerged and discredited conspiracy theories Greene has been criticized for spreading are the 2017 Charlottesville white supremacist march being an “inside job,” the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School being a “false flag” and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg having used a body double. Nick Dyer, a Greene spokesperson contacted by email for an inquiry over whether the lawmaker is OK with also banning Pride flags at U.S. embassies, accused the Washington Blade of not reading her statement close enough — even though it doesn’t explicitly mention anything about Pride flags. “Did you get the press release?” Dyer said. “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene continues her America First Agenda by cosponsoring Rep. Jeff Duncan’s Old Glory Only Act (H.R. 85), which would ensure that only the American flag flies over U.S. embassies. This bill bans any flag that isn’t the American flag from being displayed.” CHRIS JOHNSON

Va. Senate committee approves HIV decriminalization bill The Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Jan. 27 that would decriminalize HIV transmission in the state. Senate Bill 1138, introduced by state Sens. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) and Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), would repeal sections of the Virginia Code that impose penalties, including incarceration, upon anyone who transmits HIV through sex or another means. “These outdated, dangerous, and discriminatory laws disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other persons of color,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck in a Jan. 28 press release. “To ensure an equitable state for Black and Brown individuals and to promote public health, it’s essential lawmakers pass SB 1138.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, Virginia is currently one of 37 states with laws that criminalize HIV exposure. These laws are a relic from the early days of the epidemic when little was known about the virus’ transmission or how to treat it. The CDC now states more than 30 years of research have shown that many state laws criminalize behaviors that cannot transmit HIV, do not apply the same standards to other

treatable diseases, discourage HIV testing and are unequally enforced. “Virginia’s current HIV laws are rooted in fear and racial biases,” said Deirdre Johnson, co-founder of the ECHO VA (Ending Criminalization of HIV and Overincarceration in Virginia) Coalition. “Criminalization increases stigma and harms marginalized communities. Data shows that these laws target and harm women of color, women who do sex work, and transgender women.” LGBTQ individuals, people of color and sex workers are communities most likely to be impacted by HIV, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. Black Virginians represent less than 20 percent of the state’s population, but they make up more 50 percent of people living with HIV. The CDC reports that Virginia currently is one of 21 states with laws requiring people with HIV who are aware of their status to disclose their status to sex partners. In the last two fiscal years seven Virginians were convicted of misdemeanors, and three of felonies, for having sex without disclosing their status, according to sentencing guidelines data included in the bill. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN


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Pelosi ‘optimistic’ about LGBTQ Equality Act, calls passage a ‘priority’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week she’s “optimistic” about the Equality Act and called its passage a “priority” amid expectations the House could vote on the yet-to-be-introduced measure as early as March. Pelosi made the comments during her weekly news conference in response to a question from the Washington Blade on the timing of the floor vote for the LGBTQ legislation, which President Biden promised during his campaign to sign within his first 100 days in office. “I’m optimistic about it because I do think we will get strong bipartisan support in the House and in the Senate,” Pelosi said. The legislation, which Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) told the Blade he’d introduce in February, has been given new life now that Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House, as opposed to the Trump administration when the bill died in the Senate, as Pelosi noted. “This is such an exciting piece of legislation for us,” Pelosi said. “We passed it in the last Congress. No success in the Senate. It went to Mitch McConnell’s graveyard, the ‘grim reaper.’” A senior Democratic aide told the Blade that Cicilline and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, are looking at the week of Feb. 22 to introduce the Equality Act with a vote expected as early as March. Pelosi said she’s working with the two lawmakers “for when we will roll it out,” and said after that “we will calendar it.” “It’s an early priority for us, H.R. 5,” Pelosi said. “And again, it’s about ending discrimination.” Pelosi then shifted to praising President Biden, commending him for signing two LGBTQ executive orders within his first week in office, including a directive barring further discharges under Trump’s transgender military ban. “I’m very pleased with what President Biden has done so far, especially pleased about eliminating the prohibition on trans people from serving in the military,” Pelosi said. “That too, I think, was a triumph for decency and justice in our country, but some other initiatives that he took about contracting and this or that.” Although the Supreme Court decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County extends vast protections for LGBTQ people under federal law, securing a prohibition against anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace sought for decades by movement leaders, the Equality Act would take things a step further. In addition to the explicit declaration that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination in employment, education, housing, jury service and credit, the Equality Act would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and LGBTQ status in public accommodations and federal programs. Further, the Equality Act would expand the definition of public accommodations under federal civil rights law to include retail stores, banks, transportation services, and health care services. The legislation would also establish that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — a 1994 law aimed at protecting religious liberty — can’t be used to enable anti-LGBT discrimination. The Equality Act was the cornerstone of President Biden’s campaign promises to LGBTQ people. Biden said he’d sign the legislation into law within his first 100 days in National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director KIERRA JOHNSON (Blade photo by Michael Key)

House Speaker NANCY PELOSI (D-Calif.) says she’s ‘optimistic’ about the Equality Act. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

office as recently as October in an interview with Philadelphia Gay News, although he hasn’t commented on the bill in the week since he took office as president. Reflecting on the absence of such protections under federal law, Pelosi continued, “It’s amazing that we would even have to do such things, but we’re particularly proud of the Equality Act because it’s so comprehensive.” “Again, ending discrimination in the workplace and in every other aspect, not only is good for the LGBTQ community, for our whole society, but also for businesses that want the very best,” Pelosi said. “They should be hiring without any concern of complaint about the diversity that they are introducing.” In the previous Congress, the U.S. Chamber of Congress had come out in support of the Equality Act, which Pelosi alluded to in her remarks as she contemplated passage in the Senate. The challenge is greater in that chamber given the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a legislative filibuster. “That’s why we think we’ll have strong bipartisan support,” Pelosi said. “We think the business community will help us in the Senate.” Pelosi took a question from another reporter as the Blade tried to follow up with an inquiry on whether the White House has reached out to her on the legislation. Pelosi’s office didn’t immediately respond to a follow-up inquiry on whether that conversation has taken place. CHRIS JOHNSON

Task Force holds first virtual Creating Change The 33rd annual Creating Change conference hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force held its events virtually last weekend for the first time due to the pandemic. The country’s largest LGBTQ activist conference brought participants from across the U.S. to connect and share knowledge, skills and mutual dedication to ensuring equity for LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups. Hosted by comic Sandra Valls, the multi-day event emphasized the importance of togetherness and intersectionality. The conference featured special guests like Adrienne Maree Brown, a Black feminist author and women’s rights activist; and American rapper Big Freedia. Dominique Jackson, who plays Elektra Abundance on the hit TV show “Pose,” also attended. “The past election has shown us that when we stand together as a force, we will win,” Jackson said at the event. “But you can’t just show up for (an) election and then sit back.” Topics covered at this year’s conference included the intersections of LGBTQ people and immigration, transgender activism and recognition, aging as an LGBTQ person and


fundraising tips for small and large advocacy organizations. The conference also introduced Kierra Johnson as the Task Force’s new executive director. “As difficult as these last few years have been for us, I think they’ve also given us a map,” Johnson said in Saturday’s “State of the Movement” speech. “I think it’s undeniable how fragile our democracy is. And we’ve got work to do, right? And it is work that the task force is committed to being a part of.” Rea Carey stepped down on Monday after 12 years as executive director. Johnson served as the Task Force’s deputy executive director since 2018. She served as the executive director of Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity for 10 years before working with the Task Force. “It is precisely because of this collective power that we have a conference that looks the way it looks. It is because of our collective power that we are seeing changes that we never thought possible 10, 15, 20 years ago,” Johnson said. KAELA ROEDER



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Carmen Vázquez, longtime LGBTQ activist, dies at 72 immigration, reproductive justice and sexual freedom movements. And in mine,” Carmen Vázquez, a longtime LGBTQ activist, died last week from coronavirus added Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey. “I’m deeply sad that one of our complications. She was 72. movement’s most brilliant activists is no longer with us. I’ve never known this A press release that the National LGBTQ Task Force and SAGE released on Thursday movement without Carmen in it. A fierce, Puerto Rican butch, who spoke, wrote, notes Vázquez was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in New York City’s Harlem organized, mobilized and willed with her small neighborhood. but powerful body justice and liberation into this Vázquez was the founding director of the world.” Women’s Building in San Francisco and helped The Woodhull Freedom Foundation in its establish the city’s Lavender Youth Recreation statement said Vázquez “was part of our family and Information Center. and we will miss her every single day.” Former Vázquez returned to New York City in the midEmpire State Pride Agenda Executive Director 1990s. Alan van Capelle also mourned Vázquez. She helped create the New York State LGBT “COVID has taken from us a fierce activist who Health and Health Services Network. could play the role of mother, sister, teacher, Vázquez was the director of public policy at co-conspirator all in service of building a more the LGBT Community Center in New York City just and equal world,” wrote van Capelle on his from 1994-2003. Vázquez from 2003-2007 was Facebook page. “The advancement of LGBTQ the deputy executive director of the Empire State liberation was made faster because of her efforts Pride Agenda, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy and countless lives are fuller and more protected group in New York that shut down in 2016. because of her. May her memory be a blessing Vázquez most recently was the coordinator of and now, we stand on her shoulders.” the New York State Department of Health’s LGBT The Human Rights Campaign echoed van Health and Human Services Unit. Capelle. Vázquez co-chaired the board of directors CARMEN VÁZQUEZ “Carmen was a true trailblazer for LGBTQ of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, which (Photo courtesy of Ricci Joy Levy/Woodhull Freedom Foundation) equality and was a hero to so many, particularly promotes sexual freedom. The Task Force in 2020 Latinx LGBTQ folks,” said HRC on its Twitter page. honored Vázquez at its annual Creating Change “Our hearts go out to Carmen’s friends and loved ones.” conference in Dallas for her work on behalf of LGBTQ seniors. Activists in Puerto Rico also acknowledged Vázquez’s roots on the island. “One of my proudest moments as an activist was presenting Carmen with the annual “Carmen was a trailblazer,” Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, SAGE Award at Creating Change 2020, in recognition of her lifetime of courage, a Puerto Rico LGBTQ advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Thursday in a text fierceness and struggle,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams in the press release that his message. “She inspired many of us to fight for our rights, our dignity, our liberation. organization and the Task Force released. “It’s unimaginable that Carmen has passed, She was truly an orgullo boricua (proud Boricua).” but the spirit of someone as fierce as Carmen lives forever and continues to inspire us.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS “The loss of Carmen tears open a hole in the heart of the LGBTQ+, social justice,

U.S. calls for release of Venezuelan HIV/AIDS workers The U.S. has joined the growing calls for the Venezuelan government to release five HIV/AIDS service providers who were arrested on Jan. 12. A press release from Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA), a Venezuelan human rights organization, notes members of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence on Jan. 12 raided the offices of Azul Positivo in Maracaibo, a city in the country’s Zulia state. “After questioning directors of the organization present at the headquarters for a period of six hours, without a legal order or allowing outside contact with them, the officials proceeded to arrest six members, including its president Johan León Reyes,” says PROVEA in its press release that it released on Jan. 13. “None of these people have been released and their current situation is unknown.” A source in Venezuela on Saturday told the Washington Blade that authorities released a driver who is heterosexual the following day. The source notes León and his four other colleagues — who they said are gay men with HIV — remain in custody and are in a Maracaibo hospital because they have the coronavirus. “They are still in jail, but they have been temporarily moved,” said the source. “They are handcuffed.” James “Jimmy” Story, the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, on Jan. 21 called for the men’s release. “We call for the release of the five Azul Positivo employees and we condemn the attack against this NGO that provides assistance to seropositive people in the state of Zulia and that leaves the poorest communities more vulnerable,” he tweeted, while adding the raid “leaves the poorest communities more vulnerable.” “Enough criminalization of humanitarian aide,” said Story. Story in a Jan. 29 directly criticized President Nicolás Maduro and his government’s continued crackdown against NGOs in the country. “On this Day of the Social Worker, the world asks why employees of the NGO Azul Positivo, which has been working for the health of seropositive people in Zulia for more than 16 years, have been detained,” he tweeted. “What does

Maduro want by attacking NGOs? What kind of peace for the people is this?” UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet are among those who have also called for the men’s release. “I call on the Venezuelan authorities to release from police custody the five humanitarians working for the nongovernmental organization Azul Positivo, and to return essential equipment seized at the time of their arrest,” said Byanyima in a Jan. 29 UNAIDS press release. “A strong and empowered civil society plays a central role in providing much-needed services to the most vulnerable people and is critical to making progress against the HIV pandemic and other health threats in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” More than 100 Venezuelan NGOs and human rights organizations have also called for the Azul Positivo staffers’ release. “Azul Positivo is an allied organization of United Nations agencies, contributing to UNAIDS by carrying out tests for the detection of HIV in a fast, safe and free way to communities of popular sectors,” they said in a statement contained in PROVEA’s Jan. 13 press release. “Azul Positivo is an important partner of the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for contributing to the implementation of projects in the border area with Colombia on sexual and reproductive orientation for teenagers, young women and pregnant women.” The source in Venezuela with whom the Blade spoke noted Azul Positivo receives UNHCR funds. The source also said Azul Positivo provided food and medications to “homeless and starving people” on the country’s border with Colombia. “It’s not convenient,” the source told the Blade, referring to the Venezuelan government when asked why it decided to arrest the Azul Positivo staffers. The arrests took place against the backdrop of Venezuela’s worsening economic and political crises. Millions of Venezuelans in recent years have migrated to Colombia and other South American countries. MICHAEL K. LAVERS


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is Senior Vice President of Development and External Affairs at the Cancer Support Community. A former Obama administration official, he resides with his husband in the Logan Circle neighborhood.

Celebrate first lady’s visit to Whitman-Walker, then act A reminder that COVID has disrupted cancer care for many

When I first glanced at my phone around 4 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, the litany of social media alerts signaled a new era. The White House had announced that first lady Dr. Jill Biden would visit Whitman-Walker Health’s 14th Street location, a five-minute walk from where I live. Yes, the first lady’s initial visit outside the White House would be to a beloved community health center that is a proverbial welcome mat for people who are often unseen and unheard in the health system. On another, more personal note, the first lady’s visit brought together many parts of my 22 years as a D.C. resident. In addition to using the testing services, I have also volunteered at Whitman-Walker. Many friends are currently on the staff or board of directors. Plus, during my time in the Obama administration at AmeriCorps, Whitman-Walker hosted convenings on the intersection of health and national service. On the day of Dr. Biden’s visit, my heart warmed at the notion of another opportunity to work with Whitman-Walker. As the White House announcement indicated, Dr. Biden’s visit was “to highlight and promote support services for cancer patients and caregivers, as well as hear about the impact of COVID-19 on access to health care, including cancer screenings and prevention efforts.” The reason I was at Whitman-Walker on that Friday is because I work for the Cancer Support Community (CSC), a global nonprofit that provides $50 million in free support and navigation services annually to individuals affected by cancer. In 2015, Whitman-Walker Health became the first federally qualified health center to integrate CSC’s services into its care model. The services include psychosocial distress screening, treatment decision-making support, problem-solving skill development, care coordination and navigation, and self-advocacy training. CSC’s Executive Chair Kim Thiboldeaux, who has worked with Dr. Biden on multiple issues over the years, joined Whitman-Walker Health’s CEO Naseema Shafi in leading the conversation with Dr. Biden. More than anything, that conversation was a call to action—especially important as we mark World Cancer Day on Feb. 4. Dr. Biden’s visit and the global focus on cancer come as a pandemic has disrupted health services in once unimaginable ways. Cancer screenings are between 29 and 35 percent lower than pre-COVID-19 levels and 40 percent of respondents in one survey say their cancer-related care has been disrupted. The drop in screenings and disruption to services are especially acute in D.C. After all, more people die from cancer in D.C. than from Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, HIV/AIDS, suicide, influenza, and pneumonia combined. D.C. also has the highest reported death rates due to breast and prostate cancer. As a prostate cancer survivor myself, I had no idea of this statistic when I went through my experience five years ago. Whether a survivor or a family member or friend of someone affected by cancer, we all know these numbers put a mirror up to the inequities in our system. Nationally, among all racial and ethnic groups, Black and African-American people have the highest death and shortest survival rates for most cancers. While the research regarding LGBTQ Americans and cancer is not nearly as extensive, the American Cancer Society estimated that there could have been 135,000 new cancer cases and over 45,000 cancer deaths in 2020 among LGBTQ Americans. The LGBTQ community may be disproportionately affected by anal, breast, cervical, colorectal, endometrial, lung, and prostate cancers. If these numbers seem overwhelming, just think of the experiences of the people behind them. Those very individuals are the ones whose voices must be at the center of the conversation that answers one of the key questions Dr. Biden posed: What are you hearing from patients? In the spirit of World Cancer Day, taking on the challenges these patients identify will no doubt be hard, but we must match the celebration of a first lady’s historic visit to a community health center with a commitment to act. 1 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 05 , 2 0 2 1 • V I E WP O I NT


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

Marjorie Taylor Greene is delusional, dangerous

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We must not let despotism take root in America

It is kind of exciting to see the Republican Party disintegrate into a civil war and try to figure out which side will win. Will it be the rational old-line party represented by those who founded the Lincoln Project or the Trump cult who at the moment look like they are ahead? The reality with Trump on the ballot is that he pulled out voters but when the election was about him he lost — both the presidency and then the two Senate races in Georgia. There will now be an impeachment trial and the Senate ethics panel will investigate Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) in secret. In the House, there could be a vote to censure or throw out Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). These impeachment and House votes will put Republicans who run in 2022 on the record. Democratic legislative successes will be what Democrats will use in 2022 but they have more. In the same way Republicans used Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and socialism against every Democrat in vulnerable districts, Democrats must use Greene and her cohorts, including Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Matthew Cawthorn (R-N.C.), against vulnerable Republicans. There is a lot wrong with Republicans in Congress including the aforementioned as well as Matt Goetz (R-S.C.), Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). But Greene, Boebert and Cawthorn or as I call them the ‘insurrection trio,’ are the scariest since they have publicly been hailed as the future of the Republican Party and the ideal example of a Republican candidate today. Democrats can use Greene’s support of QAnon, the incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection, and the trio’s delusional views in ads to let all voters connect them directly to Republican candidates who didn’t speak out against them. There may be 30 to 40 Republican seats where this can work because as one of my friends suggested, a former congressperson, what you say to voters about the incumbent Republican in those swing Districts is: “Aren’t you disappointed in (insert the name). We all thought he/she would have had more decency, common sense and cared more for us and our country.” Greene is the easiest to hang around their necks. We just need to share videos of her stalking a student who had just survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida; video of her claiming 911 was a hoax; video of her supporting those who attacked the Capitol and of her suggesting certain members of Congress should be executed. Then we have Cawthorn videos inciting rioters to attack the Capitol at Trump’s rallies; getting elected even when it was known he is a certified liar like Trump when he lied claiming to have been on his way to the Naval Academy before his accident when he had already been rejected and claiming business success when he had none. Some may just excuse him for being an idiot or could attribute other things to his visit to Hitler’s Eagles Nest home and referring to Hitler as the Fuhrer and then saying he didn’t know that would offend people. Then there is Boebert, the gun-toting congresswoman from Colorado who Newsweek reported “On the day of the riot she tweeted “Today is 1776,” referring to the year of the American Revolution. As Americans we must take a stand and defend our democracy from those who would see it destroyed. We must stand for the truth and fight the lies being fed to the American voter; those who are either less educated or simply susceptible to conspiracy theories. We must be willing to call out the bullies like Cruz and Hawley who are willing to promote these lies and conspiracies for their own personal gain and desire for power. We have seen this before in Nazi Germany with the rise of Hitler. We have seen it in the rise of other despots around the world. We must never let it happen here.

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Pepco’s Commitment to Our Customers and the Climate Climate change poses a threat to all our communities. From coastal towns and riverfront communities, to urban centers and suburban neighborhoods, the frequency and severity of storms, heat waves, droughts and wildfires is increasing. Among the other extremes of the year 2020, it was also one of the two hottest years on record, tying with 2016. The need to take bold action to both reduce the emissions that drive climate change and build resilience for an unpredictable future is critical and Pepco is committed to doing its part. As the local electricity provider for the District of Columbia, we are connected to our customers and communities by more than just wires and recognize the role we can and must play in helping to drive actions with positive climate impact. And, while Pepco does not own power plants, we know there are actions we can take to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of our own operations, including our buildings, fleet and grid, and help our customers and communities do the same. Pepco supports the District’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and recently launched a Climate Change Commitment aligned with this effort. Pepco’s Climate Change Commitment includes more than 20 actions to help combat the climate crisis and drive its own greenhouse gas emissions down by 70 percent over the next five years. “Climate change is real, and we are seeing its many effects today,” notes Melissa Lavinson, senior vice president of Governmental and External Affairs for Pepco Holdings. “We need to take action now to ensure a clean and healthy environment for our families, our communities and future generations. And, for Pepco, it all starts with building a smarter, stronger and cleaner energy system and providing climate solutions that benefit all Washingtonians.” The company is also exploring solutions as an energy delivery company that provides products and services to customers to enable them to take action to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint; and as a community partner that can enable programs and initiatives to help reduce energy use, build resilience and advance clean energy technologies, like local solar, electrified transportation and battery storage. Pepco is making land and roof space available for community solar projects to benefit limited-income customers and help the District meet its local solar goals. And, Pepco itself will switch to 100 percent clean and renewable electricity for electricity consumed in its own buildings and convert to energy-efficient lighting across its District properties by the end of 2025.

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To encourage all District residents to use energy more efficiently and drive down emissions in the built environment, Pepco collaborated with the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, the DC Sustainable Energy Utility, the District Government and more than 20 environmental, business and community groups to launch #ReduceEnergyUseDC to inspire residents to save energy, save money and help flight climate change. Pepco will also take action to create systemic changes to energy consumption and cultivate longlasting consumer behaviors through a suite of energy efficiency programs that will be proposed to and considered by the DC Public Service Commission in 2021. At the same time, Pepco is building out the infrastructure necessary to support greater electrification of taxis, rideshare vehicles, buses, and other vehicles in the District. Pepco, itself, will electrify half of its own passenger and medium-duty fleet by 2030. The company also offers EV charging rates to its District customers and will support an innovative pilot to electrify food trucks. “Local energy delivery companies like Pepco are in the position to tackle climate change on a number of fronts, but we can’t do it alone,” says Lavinson. “Developing a unified approach to solve climate problems equitably, effectively and expeditiously is among the biggest challenges we face. By being a good partner and building a smarter, stronger and cleaner electric grid, we know we can be an important part of the change, and create good paying jobs for District residents, while expanding business opportunities for local businesses in the process.” As 2021 progresses, Pepco will be making similar commitments for its Maryland operations, customers, and communities. It will be building from existing initiatives such as EVSmart, which enables electrified transportation, its award winning EmpowerMD energy efficiency programs, which helps customers save energy and money, its pending Smart Streetlights proposal and its Sustainable Community Grants program.

For more information on Pepco’s Climate Change Commitment and to track how the company is progressing toward it’s climate goals, visit: pepco.com/Climate


Let Strathmore set the stage for your special event. With three incredibly unique spaces, we can help you host memorable events of all kinds— large and small.

Strathmore Private Events: 301.581.5255 | rentals@strathmore.org 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852 | STRATHMORE.ORG F E B R UA RY 0 5 , 2 0 2 1 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 2 1

Big gay Valentine’s Gift Guide 2021

Special surprises for your significant other on this very different V-Day By MIKEY ROX

They say that the pandemic and its quarantine restrictions has either brought couples closer together or pushed them to divorce. If your relationship survived the lockdowns, then consider rewarding your significant other with one of our Valentine’s Day gift ideas below.

Athleisure Pleaser

Cirque du Tittay

Bring sexy back to your bedroom with the rainbow-sequined reusable-silicon pasties from Body Body that are so cheerful and entertaining that even Janet would approve.

$13.20; bodybody.com

Erotic Embroidery

Does your S.O. carry a gallery-worthy weapon between his, her, or their legs? Immortalize and celebrate it on your own hall walls with detailed cross-stitched hoops embellished with vibrant beading handmade by artist Andrew Emel and available on Etsy at StitchedPeensShop. NSFW photos of finished commissions @stitched_peens on Instagram.

$100+; etsy.com/shop/stitchedpeensshop

fivebyfive athleisure brand’s Origin tank tops are made from sustainable bamboo while its Purpose collection tanks, tees, and shorts are comprised of 100% recycled post-consumer plastic. All items are ethically produced in facilities that have a track record of safe and fair labor practices and are packaged in recycled materials so when you break a sweat you’re helping to save the planet.

$45-$59, fivebyfive.cc

Spill the Tea

Fearless Bracelet

Alex and Ani’s rainbow “Fearless” bracelet in shiny gold lets would-be harassers know straight out the gate that the 100% That Bitch who’s wearing it is an out-and-proud champion of kickin’ ass and takin’ names.

$28.50, alexandani.com

TITteas may sound like an inflated brand name but 5% of each order goes directly to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, so you’re not only feeding your own soul with a hot cup, you’re also sipping your way to saving lives. A free tea ball infuser is included with your first order with email-list signup.

$5-$15, titteas.com


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Fit for a Queen


Oh no she better don’t… forget to subscribe to the Drag Society quarterly boxes curated by a celebrity queen and filled to the brim with her handpicked products. Current box features Mayhem Miller-approved merch, including fashion accessories, cosmetics and tools, collectible enamel pin, signed photo, and more. Yas, gawd, your drag-obsessed henny will love it.

$50 quarterly, dragsociety.com

Booze-Free Bevvies

If Dry January did a body good, extend the respite into deeper winter – without completely depriving yourself. Crystal-infused wine alternative Rock Grace promotes beauty, energy, and wellness in a non-alcoholic rosé that’s all natural, calorie and sugar free, while Hairless Dog Brewing offers mixed cases for suds lovers who crave that satisfying beer taste sans the bloat. $25, rockgrace.com;

$44, drinkhairlessdog.com

Wild Fires

Each of Wildwood Candle Co.’s nine USA-sourced, vegan scents represents different trails found throughout Portland’s Forest Park, the longest of which is the company’s namesake. Specific trail details and GPS coordinates are listed under each scent’s description so adventurous couples (or thruples – we don’t judge around here) can find and explore that trail in person someday. Five percent of profits are donated to the Forest Park Conservancy.

Say-Anything Socks

$28, wildwoodcandleco.com

Netflix & Chilled Literary Blooms

Upcycled pages of your favorite classic books that can no longer be donated or sold are turned into lifelike paper roses that never die. Literary Blooms bestsellers include Pride and Prejudice, Alice in Wonderland, Agatha Christie novels, Anne of Green Gables, Sherlock Holmes, and the works of William Shakespeare. The Icons Collection features flowers fashioned from books covering Judy, Cher, Marilyn, and Audrey.

Pique the curiosity of cute cruisersby in Gumball Poodle’s statement crew socks that give a glimpse into your playful personality. With conversation-starting styles like “I Don’t Wear Underwear,” “Daddy,” “Hung,” and “I’d Rather Be Naked,” you’ll have a couple legs up on the competition.

$6-$13, gumballpoodle.com

$23-$73, literaryblooms.com

Social-distancing protocol may keep you away from bars and restaurants this V-Day, so make the most of a romantic night in. Plum’s wine appliance holds two standard bottles of vino, automatically identifies varietals using artificial intelligence, chills each bottle to its ideal serving temperature, and preserves wine for 90 days. You’ll be hosting happy hour, not amateur hour.

$2,499, shop.plum.wine

Hello Dolly

Created by designer Lucie Kaas, this adorable collection of gay icons as Japanese kokeshi dolls will delight discerning art lovers and kids-at-heart alike. The armless wooden sculptures popular in Asian culture star a number of your favorite LGBTQ champions and pioneers, including Elton John, Coco Chanel, David Bowie, Anna Wintour, Andy Warhol, Jackie O., and many more.

$54-$109, luciekaas.com

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Comedian SAMPSON MCCORMICK is featured in ‘Love the One You’re With.’


(Photo courtesy Kola for 510 Media)


Today P&P Live! presents a virtual discussion with nonbinary journalist and author Annalee Newitz on their latest nonfiction work “Four Lost Cities of the Urban Age” tonight at 7 p.m. This deep history of urban life explores Italy’s Pompeii, Cambodia’s Angkor, Turkey’s Catalhoyuk and the ancient metropolis of Cahokia in indigenous America. For more information on this free event, visit the P&P Live Facebook page.

Saturday, February 06

The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site hosts a walking tour of Douglass’ Anacostia today at noon. Tickets are $20. Local reporter and historian John Muller leads the walk through the neighborhood, which explores historic and contemporary politics, architecture and folklore. Visit nps.gov/frdo for more information and for any pandemic-related changes.

Sunday, February 07

Red Bear Brewing (209 M St. N.E.) invites the public to watch the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. This Super Bowl LV watch party is an indoor dining event displayed on Red Bear’s TVs and big screen. For more information on this event and pandemic guidelines, visit redbear.beer.

Monday, February 08

Tyler Stovall, author of “White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea,” is tonight’s guest for Black History Month on P&P Live! at 6 p.m. Stovall’s work discusses the history of modern conceptions of freedom and democracy amidst the American ideal of liberty and the reality African slavery. For more information on this and other events, visit politics-prose.com.

Tuesday, February 09

The White House Historical Association presents “Slavery in the President’s Neighborhood” tonight at 5 p.m. as part of their Facebook Live series commemorating Black History Month. This free event delves into stories such as the 1848 Pearl Incident, considered to be the largest attempted escape of enslaved people in D.C. Visit the White House Historical Association’s Facebook page for details.

Wednesday, February 10

The DC-Area Transmasculine Society virtual Transmasculine and Nonbinary Social Hour is tonight at 8 p.m. This free event is for individuals who were assigned female at birth but do not feel that assignment defines them. Participants do not have to live in the D.C. area to join this event and make new friends and connections. For more information, visit dcats.org.

Thursday, February 11

A League of Her Own hosts Second Thursday Queer Trivia at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Participants are welcome to play individually or in a team to share knowledge on women’s contributions to sports, literature, and more. Visit the event’s Facebook page for more information. 2 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 05 , 2 0 2 1


REEL Affirmations celebrates BHM with exclusive screening REEL Affirmations hosts the online screening of “Love the One You’re With,” a film highlighting the relationship of a Black gay couple, Feb. 12-13 for $10. This virtual ticket grants unlimited access to this film from award-winning comedian and filmmaker Sampson McCormick and directed by Spencer M. Collins V beginning 12 p.m. on Friday to 12 p.m. on Saturday. Ticket access also includes a pre-recorded Q&A with McCormick, Collins and the cast. This dramatic comedy follows Miles and Avery through laughs and twists as their longterm relationship faces a possible end. Visit thedccenter.org for tickets and more information.

DCATS Pal-entine’s Celebration is Feb. 13 The DC-Area Transmasculine Society hosts a virtual Pal-entine’s Day event Saturday, Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. via Zoom. This free event is open to trans folk and cis friends to enjoy guided medication and card-making activities. Participants can register through Eventbrite to download a free affirmations journal and Valentine’s Day card during this opportunity for self-healing and appreciation in a supportive environment. Although the event is free, donations are accepted by adding the amount to the virtual ticket, or through Venmo or Paypal. All funds will go to support DCATS’ Binder Exchange Program to help individuals with gender dysphoria who cannot afford this symptomrelieving device. For tickets and information visit dcats.org or this event’s page on Facebook and Eventbrite.

DC Queer Flix, Rayceen host Nigerian film discussion DC Queer Flix present a YouTube watch party and Twitter discussion on “Defiance,” a documentary about the fight for Nigerian LGBTQ equality, Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. This documentary screening includes a panel on the issues raised in the film as well as a live Twitter discussion hosted by Rayceen Pendarvis and Krylios of Team Rayceen Productions with the filmmaker Harry Itie. Participants can join in the Twitter conversation using the tags #DCQueerFlix and #DefianceDoc. More information is available at twitter.com/dcpl and on Team Rayceen’s YouTube channel.

HRC hosts web series for trans, nonbinary job-seekers The Human Rights Campaign continues its ongoing biweekly web series focused on connecting transgender and nonbinary job seekers to employment resources on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. via their website. This free one-hour event provides resources and practical advice targeted to help trans and nonbinary people, especially those of color, overcome obstacles leading to higher unemployment and underemployment rates compared to their cisgender counterparts. This “Who’s Hiring” series, in partnership with Trans Can Work, highlights current employment opportunities and provides information on applying for them. The series includes information such as resume prep and interviewing skills which may be challenging for the unique needs of this particular population. For more information and to register, visit HRC.im/WhosHiring.

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Lesbian love story becomes thriller in ‘Two of Us’ More Hitchcockian potboiler than heartfelt sociopolitical drama

By JOHN PAUL KING trickery of a slasher film, complete with menacing American cinema may finally have entered an characters, shadowy hallways, and jump scares; era when there are more LGBTQ stories on our we’re never sure what is waiting for her in the screens, but it must be acknowledged that, as darkness or just beyond the door. By the time she much of a hard-won blessing this may be, an entire reaches her desperate endgame, however, he has generation (or two) of our community’s older taken us beyond the tropes of his faux-horror conceit members are still being left out of the picture. and brought us squarely into the climax of a caper That’s true, of course, for older people across film. the board. American movies, focused eternally In terms of storytelling, all this genre-jumping on profit, aim for a younger, more lucrative technique effectively pulls the viewer out of the demographic, and stories about the over-50 distanced, intellectual space into which we are crowd usually don’t make the cut. As the industry initially lulled and thrusts us instead into a more shifts to a post-pandemic future that includes more visceral mindset. More importantly, perhaps, it has at-home viewing options for feature film releases, the effect of forcing us to identify in a more personal that imbalance may begin to change – but in the way with its protagonists, causing us to experience meantime, thankfully, we can still look to Europe MARTINE CHEVALLIER and BARBARA SUKOWA in ‘Two of Us.’ their harrowing circumstance more directly than for movies about our queer elders. (Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures) we might from the safe distance allowed by an The latest such offering is France’s official entry exploration of social issues. for the Oscar category formerly known as Best Foreign Language Film, “Two of Us” (titled At the same time, the film’s primary setting lends itself to a craftily subliminal observation “Deux” in its native country), stars two veterans of Euro-cinema as a long-term lesbian about public and private identity. The two women’s nearly identical apartments, separated couple who unexpectedly find themselves dealing with the consequences of living in the by a stair landing, have open doors when we first see them, creating a shared space that closet. they inhabit together; but later, when other people are inevitably brought into the mix Nina (Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (Martine Chevallier) are two retired women who by Madeleine’s condition, the opening and closing of these same doors becomes an have been secret lovers for decades. Living in separate apartments on the same floor intricate dynamic in Nina’s efforts to reach her lover. Meneghetti has also said the idea of the same building, they have maintained the illusion of being merely neighbors for for his movie actually came from his encounter with a real-life living arrangement like the the sake of Madeleine’s adult children, who have no idea their mother is gay; now they one shared by Nina and Madeleine. As a result of this architectural inspiration, the film’s have plans to sell their homes and move together to Rome, as they have always wanted carefully arranged physical geography invites us to contemplate the way our behavior is to do. But before that can happen, Madeleine suffers a massive stroke that puts her in governed by privacy. To put it more simply: it confronts us with the notion that who we are, the hospital and renders her unable to communicate – forcing Nina to take increasingly and what we do, often depends on whether or not anyone can see us. extreme measures in order to be by the side of the woman she loves. A final revelation from the filmmaker touches on what elevates “Two of Us” beyond Decades of experience with narratives like the one presented here is likely to lead the sum of its eclectic set of parts. In discussing his two leading characters, he has said, audiences to expect a grim-but-important story about the need to fight against cultural “I didn’t want us to feel sorry for them.” It’s this desire to avoid sentiment that makes us homophobia and discrimination; but while those things may factor into the screenplay engage so fully with the story. Each of the lovers makes questionable choices, and neither penned by director Filippo Meneghetti and co-writer Malysone Bovorasmy for “Two of the script nor the performances (both Sukowa and Chevallier are exquisitely real) make Us,” what it delivers has arguably more to do with the habit of being repressed than it does any effort to mitigate their culpability in their own unfortunate crisis. At the same time, with repression itself. In any case, it diverts us from our expectations quickly; after setting Madeleine’s daughter (Léa Drucker, also giving a delicate, layered performance) serves itself up as a late-in-life “coming out” story, it veers without warning into a milieu that more as the film’s antagonist, but she is no raging homophobe. When she begins to suspect closely resembles a Hitchcockian potboiler than a heartfelt sociopolitical drama. That’s no that something is not as it seems with her mother’s overly concerned neighbor, her hostile accident, according to Meneghetti. The director has said his intention was “to shoot this response is not so much over any issue of sexuality as it is out of anger about being lied to. love story as if it were a thriller,” and it’s a tactic that works across multiple layers. That last point begs the question of why Nina never even considers trying to tell the truth The lynchpin on which this approach hangs is Madeleine’s closeted status with her about her relationship with Madeleine to her daughter. The answer to that is something children. Once her awareness is dimmed and her ability to speak is removed, perhaps the movie never really gives us, but surely challenges us to contemplate. forever, it’s too late for her to come out; moreover, it’s impossible for her to convey “Two of Us,” like the season’s other LGBTQ drama about an older couple facing a health her desire to have her beloved by her side, or even that she is anything more than an crisis, “Supernova,” faces the obstacle of being perceived as a “downer” in a time when acquaintance. As a consequence, Nina is placed in an impossible position, but one she is most audiences are likely to prefer lighter fare. But, also like “Supernova,” it is surprisingly determined to surmount. Initially, she finds excuses – a visit to check in on her “neighbor” upbeat. It’s also engaging, suspenseful, powerful, and – perhaps most unexpected of all at the hospital, an offer to lend a hand with the various burdens of care – but when these – exciting in an edge-of-your-seat kind of way. That, along with its excellent performances begin to wear thin, her efforts escalate. Using tactics of stealth, manipulation, and boldand a tour-de-force turn from its filmmaker, should be more than enough to make it a faced dishonesty, she follows the imperative of her heart into progressively dangerous, must-see for anyone who likes their LGBTQ movies to be outstanding cinema, too. even illegal action. As she does, Meneghetti depicts her downward spiral with all the

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Give Your Valentine the Gift of Theatre

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Celebrating Leachman’s wonderful work, fearless life Iconic actress defied ageism, sexism to conquer Hollywood, Broadway By KATHI WOLFE

Some icons seem stiff, formal – ethereal. That was never the case with Cloris Leachman, the queer icon and legendary actress who died at 94 on Jan. 27 at her home in Encinitas, Calif. Leachman was as earthy as your granny, as eccentric as your wacky, but beloved aunt and sassier than any diva you ever met. To me and her many other aficionados, aged eight to 80, it feels as if we’ve lost the actress who could tear your heart out (in movies like “The Last Picture Show”) one minute, and leave you rolling on the floor CLORIS LEACHMAN, the queer laughing (as in “Young Frankenstein,” the icon and legendary actress, died at hilarious Mel Brooks horror spoof) the next. 94 on Jan. 27. It’s a hoary cliche to say that someone’s a life force. But, how else to describe Leachman? Born in Des Moines, she acted in children’s theater when she was 7. After becoming a Miss America finalist, Leachman studied at the renowned Actor’s Studio. In 1950, Leachman appeared on Broadway in “As You Like It” with Katharine Hepburn. Decades later, she went back to the stage. In 1989 and 1990, she appeared in theaters across the country in “Grandma Moses: An American Primitive.” Some Boomers remember Leachman as Ruth, the mother in the 1957-58 season of the TV show “Lassie.” Leachman told interviewers that the show’s powers-that-be had to remind her that the star of the show was Lassie, not her. You wonder how Leachman could have the energy, stamina, and talent to do all that she did in her lifetime. She won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her heart-rending portrayal of the lonely coach’s wife in “The Last Picture Show” and eight Primetime Emmys (for her work on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Cher” and other shows). Leachman flipped the bird to ageism. Until, the end of her life, she defied stereotypes about getting old. At 82, she appeared on “Dancing with the Stars.” In 2009, “Cloris,” her autobiography (written with her ex-husband, the late George Englund), came out. From it, we learn that Leachman, among her many accomplishments, cooked chili “that was given four stars by both Elizabeth Taylor and the volunteer firemen of East Rochester.” (Englund sponsored a theater in East Rochester, N.Y.) In her 80s and into her 90s, Leachman played zany, bawdy, demented grannies on “Malcolm in the Middle” and other shows. At age 94, the last year of her life, she appeared as a frail, but energetic, grandma in the queer family drama “Jump, Darling.” “At that age, most people are either long since passed or snoozing all day in front of their televisions,” Glenn Gaylord wrote in “The Queer Review” of her performance in the movie. “Cloris, however, is still at the top of the Call Sheet, showing up for work, and delivering powerful performances.” Like many of my generation, I came to love Leachman as Phyllis, the bonkers, exasperating, but lovable, and in her way, loving friend on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” In college, we watched Mary (Mary Tyler Moore), single and the only woman, navigate the newsroom in fictional TV station WJM in Minneapolis. Rhoda (Valerie Harper) was her BFF. Yet, in many episodes, Phyllis (played fabulously by Leachman) was the highlight of the show. As I’ve written in the Blade before, one episode of the program in 1973, “My Brother’s Keeper,” was groundbreaking in its queer representation. The show treated being gay as a normal part of life. Phyllis is dismayed that her brother Ben, who’s visiting, is hanging out with Rhoda. “I’m not going to marry, Ben,” Rhoda says, “he’s not my type.” “Why not?” asks Phyllis, “he’s educated, he’s successful...” “He’s gay,” Rhoda says. At a time when being gay was thought to be a mental illness, the show helped us to come out to ourselves. Thank you, Cloris, for your wonderful work and fearless life. R.I.P. 3 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 05 , 2 0 2 1

WILLIAM DEMERITT (Nathan) in ‘The Catastrophist’ produced by Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Marin Theatre Company)

‘Catastrophist’ offers lessons from a pre-COVID plague Lauren Gunderson’s new work timely, moving By PATRICK FOLLIARD

Timely, intensely personal, and moving, Lauren Gunderson’s new work, a one-man play titled “The Catastrophist” (a Round House Theatre and Marin Theatre Company world premiere digital co-production now streaming through the end of February), is an 80-minute dive into the life and work of famed virologist Dr. Nathan Wolfe, a compelling protagonist who just so happens to be the playwright’s real-life husband. It opens with Wolfe (appealingly played by William DeMerritt) ambling onto an empty stage where he unwittingly becomes the focus of his wife’s latest script. And though Gunderson isn’t seen, her presence is felt. Now and then, Wolfe shares her thoughts (“My wife would like me to tell you …”). His story unfolds in titled scenes that hopscotch from childhood recollections to 2016 when the play is set. And though it’s not exactly today, it’s every much about what’s happening in the world now. More drama than science, Gunderson manages to keep the viewer interested in both sickness and the man. Marin Company’s artistic director - and the play’s director - Jasson Minadakis commissioned Gunderson to write “The Catastrophist” during the COVID-19 pandemic, though it doesn’t reference COVID directly, it touches on the causes, fears, and disastrous repercussions surrounding the pandemic. Gunderson, whose work is wildly popular in American regional theater, portrays her husband as rather a Renaissance man – he’s artistic, athletic, scientific, spiritual, and, especially as played DeMerritt, demonstrably cocky, kind, and vulnerable. Wolfe shares his early years in Detroit as a musical theater-loving, straight kid with a collection of “Playbills” pinned to his bedroom wall. Though he’ll grow up to be an atheist, he’s steeped in his family’s Jewish beliefs, particularly adhering to the concept of the Tikkun Olam, a deep respect for social action, healing, and the pursuit of social justice After earning degrees at Harvard, Wolfe is off to West Africa for nearly a decade followed by a basement lab at the CDC in Atlanta where his research focuses primarily on the transmission of viruses closely related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) between nonhuman primates and bushmeat hunters in Africa. Success ensues and he becomes a notable virus hunter, does Ted Talks, receives grants and publishes papers and, in 2011, his bestselling book, “The Viral Storm.” Filmed on a bare stage in Marin’s Boyer Theatre and presented entirely digitally, DeMerritt assays Wolfe engagingly. Dressed in street clothes, he brings vibrancy and an immediacy to the unadorned, moodily lit space. DeMerritt, a multi-ethnic actor and New York native, is perhaps best known for his work in HBO’s “The Normal Heart,” based on the Tony Award-winning play by playwright and AIDS activist Larry Kramer. But, back to the play. The fall of 2014 proves a powerfully seminal time for Wolfe. As he slides into middle age, life intensifies. He and his wife are expecting their first son, his beloved father is stricken with cancer, and Wolfe becomes increasingly worried about worldwide pandemics. So intent is he to make his point about the seriousness of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, Wolfe attends an important CDC meeting in Washington while passing a kidney stone. Despite his best efforts, Wolfe is accused of mishandling the Ebola scourge, an allegation that strikes deep. The playwright takes the opportunity to defend her husband’s unjustly perceived shortcomings. And she mentions her husband’s plan to protect the economy from pandemics years before the COVID-19 outbreak. But ultimately, it’s genetics and not a virus that levels the most harmful blow of all. (Not to spoil the ending, I’ll stop there.) Never dry, informative, and affecting, Gunderson’s play is filled with surprises and meaningful moments.

‘The Catastrophist’ Round House Theatre

Through Feb. 28 | $30 | Roundhousetheatre.org









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The transformation of Eleanor Roosevelt

New book reveals surprising flaws of first lady in layered portrayal By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

Life, as they say, is an open book. When you’re born, someone else starts writing it for you, but it doesn’t take long for you to be your own author. Through the years, you’ll scribble ideas, compose thoughtfully, add chapters, and crumple pages. Your life’s book might be a series of quick notes, long essays, one-liners or, as in “Eleanor” by David Michaelis, you could build an epic story. In today’s world, we might call Eleanor Roosevelt’s mother abusive: Anna Hall Roosevelt never had a kind word to say to her daughter, often mockingly calling little Eleanor “Granny.” It’s true that Eleanor wasn’t lithe and beautiful like her mother; she was awkward and stern, a Daddy’s girl for an often-absent, alcoholic father. Orphaned by the time she was 12, Eleanor had been long told that she was homely and plain but school chums knew her as a caring girl with a sharp mind. That intelligence later caught the eye of the dashing Franklin Roosevelt, a somewhat-distant cousin who By David Michaelis courted her with the nose-holding c.2020, Simon & Schuster approval of his mother. $35.00 / 698 pages It was a good match, but only for a short while: too quickly, it was apparent that Eleanor and Franklin were colossally mismatched. She needed him to need her but he couldn’t – not in the way she wanted, so she found love in the arms of another man and a woman. Her compassion for others, a rather acquired sense, helped buoy his ambition; his ambition gave her a reason to dig in and reach out to their fellow Americans in need. Despite that it invited controversy from Washington insiders, Roosevelt changed the office of the first lady by ignoring what past first Ladies had done. Readers who are not deep historians are in for many layers of surprise inside “Eleanor,” the first being Roosevelt’s early life, and the racism she exhibited as a young woman. Famously, she was a champion of African Americans during the years of her husband’s time as president and beyond, and she strove for equality, but author David Michaelis shows a sort of axis of attitude that the former first lady experienced. His portrayal is balanced with compassion: Michaelis lets us see a transformation in the pages of this book and it’s fascinating to watch. Rather than romanticize Roosevelt, Michaelis paints her as someone with flaws that she may not have overtly acknowledged but that she learned to work around. This becomes abundantly clear in tales of the warmth Roosevelt craved but was denied by her husband and the relationships she enjoyed in open secret, including a passionate love she shared with reporter Lorena Hickock and a much-debated, possible affair with State Trooper Earl Miller. Such tales are told matter-of-factly and without salaciousness, though you may feel a whoop of delight at a supposedly staid Depression-era White House that really was a den of dalliance. Don’t let its heft frighten you away: “Eleanor” may be wide but so is its story. Indeed, you’ll be carried away when you open this book.


3 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 05 , 2 0 2 1

Shaw’s HalfSmoke is so cool, it’s hot

Enjoy scrumptious sausages and more in safe, heated igloos By EVAN CAPLAN

COVID-19 cases to use it as an outdoor dining room,” said Smith. “With winter and cold Black-owned. Gay-managed. Kelly Clarkson-approved. Winter Wonderland, care of weather setting in, the igloos just seemed like the perfect way to use the space.” Shaw’s sausage joint HalfSmoke, is so cool, it’s hot. To get the space off right, Smith set up the pop-up in a matter of days, installing Kicked off just in time for the winter solstice, this parking-lot pop-up took over a vacant everything from the electric lines to blow-up snowmen to ensure the igloos would be ready 2,500-square-foot piece of pavement across from Howard Theater on T Street and for the deep winter chill and the temporary complete ban on indoor dining. Of course, Florida Avenue in December. HalfSmoke, dating from 2016, is a relaxed American-fare challenges remain today: moving food and drink from the HalfSmoke kitchen, more establishment sporting board games and a menu of sausages crafted over a wood-fired than a block away, proved a logistical flame. HalfSmoke’s patio experience incorporates a dozen six-person heated plastic igloos, and a handful of challenge. Uneven pavement played After working with the owner of picnic tables set around propane heaters for a total capacity of more than 100. havoc with plated dishes and craft the lot earlier in the year to host a (Photo courtesy HalfSmoke) cocktails. Internet service has also Howard University homecoming event, proven difficult, so servers send orders HalfSmoke owner and founder Andre into the kitchen via text message. McCain seized on the opportunity to “In normal years, the winter can use the space to expand dining options sometimes get pretty bleak,” said at HalfSmoke during winter COVID-19 McCain. “This year, with the challenges restrictions. we are facing, we wanted to create a The expansive alfresco patio food and drink experience that will be experience incorporates a dozen sixuplifting for everyone to share.” He and person cozy heated plastic igloos, and Smith envisioned their own “version of a handful of picnic tables set around Winter Wonderland after research of propane heaters for a total capacity others around the country.” of more than 100 socially distant When the pandemic hit in March of diners. Dotting the space are inflatable 2020, HalfSmoke, like other restaurants, snowmen, fairy lights, and a whole lot of was forced to cease operations and seasonal décor. pivoted to creative operations. McCain “We are very excited about the and his chefs launched Butter Me Up unique opportunity to create a safe and in May 2020 as “breakfast made to comfortable outdoor space that allows uplift.” Each order isn’t just an egg us to share new, inventive, and fun food sandwich, but includes an “action and drink concepts,” says McCain. card” of kindness, like reaching out to The creative pop-up’s wintry trees a neighbor “to bring people together,” and tinsel sparked both local and he said. national attention, most notably from talk show host and American Idol Kelly Clarkson. Moving forward, Smith reports that the theme and décor will change with the seasons. On Jan. 27, 2021, Clarkson hosted Andre on her show, extolling the virtues of a restaurant Smith went all in for Christmas in December, transitioned to a more general winter concept able to arrive at “cool” concepts while constrained by regulations and the weather. for January, and February will see a Valentine’s Day theme. During the show, Clarkson said the concept looks like a “hell of a good time. I want to In March, he says, the pop-up will transform to the new season – perhaps “florals for eat in an igloo.” At the end of the segment, noting McCain’s creativity, Clarkson awarded spring,” Smith says. After that, plans are still in the works. him $5,000. Smith also says that HalfSmoke may host outdoor, socially distant events to support Once snug inside the igloos, diners and game-players have four separate menus to Capital Pride during Pride season. McCain added that “we are super excited about the order from. Not only is the regular HalfSmoke menu available, but diners can also check opportunities 2021 will present for us to engage with the LGBTQ community as we look out the menu from Morning After Next, the restaurant’s all-day, every-day brunch concept to rebound from the pandemic and bring people closer again.” that McCain launched in support of outdoor dining. Smith recognizes that he, and HalfSmoke, have been pretty lucky. Counting the In addition, HalfSmoke’s morning-only virtual breakfast sandwich menu Butter Me Wonderland pop-up space and the current 25% indoor capacity, as well as the restaurant’s Up, which launched in May 2020, as well as Get Social, a new virtual pizza pop-up that small permanent patio, its current capacity is more than 175 people – making it one of the launched earlier this month, are also available. largest restaurants in the city. To oversee and manage the launch of the pop-up McCain turned to Derek Smith, a For now, the igloos can be reserved online via the HalfSmoke website; it’s a $50 booking veteran of the restaurant industry. fee on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The pop-up is open daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. “McCain worked with the lot owner once again in anticipation of the winter spike in

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Why attend a homebuyer seminar? It’s only the biggest purchase of your life By JOSEPH HUDSON

What are some of the best ways to prepare to buy property? Well, attending a homebuyer seminar is one way to get your head in the game, and also to start preparing for the tasks ahead. One thing I find with most of my first-time buyers is that they are ready, willing, and able, but just don’t really know what to expect in the next few months. So with my first-time buyers, I try to give them a sense of what is going to happen. First, they are going to get in touch with a lender to see what their financial state is, and if it’s not ideal, the lender can give them ideas of what to do and how to make it better. Then we are going to make a list of what they are looking for, what they want and what they don’t want in a property. Then we are going to compare that list to what is on the market. Once we are pre-approved and ready to go, we can look at houses and decide which one is the best candidate. Do they want something that is turn-key and ready to move in? Do they mind if the home needs some renovations and are willing and able to manage those renovations? Are there 10 other people trying to buy the home and we need to come up with a competitive strategy? The other part of attending a homebuyer seminar is that the attendee gets to ask questions of a lender. Are there programs that might help them save money on closing costs? Are there programs in this jurisdiction that will help them with their down payment? Are there ways of getting credits from the seller or the lender that will help them have less cash to close the deal? Are there tax benefits that they don’t know about? Another part of the homebuyer seminar is to discuss what the buyer has available to them as protections in the process. To discuss the contingencies that are available, and how they apply. Also, it’s good to clarify how much cash is needed to close the deal. What is the earnest money deposit and how does that compare to the down payment? All of this helps the firsttime or even the second-time homebuyer to be more educated in their purchase and to know all the cards that could be in their hand as they make a move toward homeownership. My next homebuyer seminar will be on Feb. 9 on Zoom if you would like to attend.

Before buying, consider attending a homebuyer seminar.

Joseph Hudson

is a Realtor with The Rutstein Group at Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or Joseph.hudson@compass.com.

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Ingleside at Rock Creek and Ingleside at King Farm are not-for-profit, CARF-accredited, SAGECare-certified, life plan communities.

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HUGE FINE ART CERAMICS SALE & Studio Materials & Eqpt. Joyce Michaud Ceramics Gallery & Studio, 6512 Putman Rd. Thurmont MD . Feb.12,10-4; 13th 9-3; 14th 10-3. For Sale is her entire inventory of Hand Thrown: East Asian Wedged Coil Technique, Raku, Salt Glazedexclusive award winning ceramics designs & full contents of the artist’s studio. Joyce is founder of MFA prgm. at Hood College, in collection of Renwick, Wuxi Museum of Art Yixing, China & others. Details here: https://www.estatesales.net/MD/ Thurmont/21788/2774427, http:// jmichaudgallery.hypermart.net/ htdocs/Profiles.shtml. Cash or credit cards. 301-332-5585. Laurie Zook EstateMAX. (Call for wholesale volume purchases.TAX I.D. needed.)


COUNSELING FOR LGBTQ People. Individual/couple counseling with a volunteer peer counselor. GMCC, servicing since 1973. 202-5808661. gaymenscounseling.org. No fees, donation requested.



We are seeking passionate innovators to help us change the way the U.S. Department of Defense solves its national security challenges. The National Security Innovation Network drives innovation through service and collaboration with the defense, academia, and venture communities. Learn more and apply at nsin.us/careers. Positions start closing as soon as Feb 9. PLACE YOUR CLASSIFIEDS ONLINE



Inova Juniper Program Job Opportunities Are you interested in improving the lives of patients living with HIV? Learn more about Inova Juniper at https://www.inova.org/juniper • RN Clinical Manager –Fairfax/Mt. Vernon • RN Clinical Manager – Falls Church/ Herndon/Leesburg • Grants Manager (GMO) • Physician Practice Manager To apply for any of these positions please go to: https://www.inovacareers.org/ or contact Joseph Schmucker at joseph.schmucker@inova.org.



KASPER’S LIVERY SERVICE Since 1987. Gay & Veteran Owner/ Operator. 2016 Luxury BMW 750Li Sedan. Properly Licensed & Livery Insured in DC. www.KasperLivery. com. Phone 202-554-2471.


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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Results-Oriented • Affordable

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33 years serving the LGBT community

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See website for NPR story on my work

is looking for dedicated individuals to work as Direct Support Professionals assisting intellectually disabled adults with behavioral & health SALE / FLORIDA complexities in our residential locations in the District of Columbia FORT LAUDERDALE CONDO & Maryland. Very Nice, 1BR, 11/2 BA, Job Requirements furnished, swimming pool, Ability to lift up to 75 lbs., $130k or best offer. Completion of required trainings prior to hire, Completion of Trained 703-989-4412. Medication Certification (TME) and/ MEN FOR MEN or CMT (Certified Medication Technician) within 6 months of hire, Cleared SEEKING: MIKE. YOU DOH background check prior to hire, were a pharmacist in MD. Sometimes Valid Driver’s License, Valid CPR & came to see me at karaoke in First Aid, Negative COVID-19 test DuPont Circle. Please contact results prior to start of work (taken Scott: drsjr58biz@gmail.com. within 3 days prior to date of hire). COVID-19 vaccination within 45 days BODYWORK of hire. PROOF #2 ISSUE DATE 170414 SALES REPRESENTATIVE PHIL ROCKSTROH prockstroh Contact the Human Resources THE MAGIC TOUCH: Swedish, Department @ 202-832-8787 Massage or Deep Tissue. Appts 202REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Proof will be considered final and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of for further information. the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts REVISIONS 486-6183, Low Rates, 24/7, In-Calls. omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is


ADOPTION, DONOR, SURROGACY legal services. Jennifer represents LGBTQ clients in DC, MD & VA interested in adoption or ART matters. 240-863- 2441, JFairfax@jenniferfairfax.com.

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place your ad d online at washingtonblade.com/classifieds and the ad prints free in the paper and online.* *25 words or less prints free, anything more is $1/word.

Must Be Received By Tuesday at 5PM To Be Included in That Week’s Edition of Washington Blade! For assistance, email: classifieds@washblade.com


Place your HOUSING TO SHARE ad online at washingtonblade.com and the ad prints free in the paper and online.* *25 words or less prints free - anything more is $1/word.

3 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 05 , 2 0 2 1 • C L A S S I F I E D S




FOR SALE | $1,100,100

4212 Brookfield Drive, Kensington, MD 20895

Everything You Want - Space, Condition & Location! Imagine living in a home with fabulous indoor and outdoor space AND walking distance to everything you want and need. Your home search stops here! This wonderful four Bedroom, four full Bath colonial features an exceptional main level with a beautiful chef’s Kitchen (commercial grade stainless appliances, island, marble counters & pantry), a Mud Room; Guest Room/ Office, Full Bath, Living Room and a Dining Room that’s open to the Family Room & Kitchen. Second floor features a lovely Owners Suite, 3 additional large Bedrooms, Hall Bath & Laundry Room. The Lower Level features a large Recreation Room, full Bath, 2nd Family Room and fully equipped Bar, office and good storage space. A side screened porch, large rear patio, play gym and a fully fenced back yard make this home perfect. To have a confidential conversation about buying or selling a home, contact Kathy Byars at 240.372.9708 or Kathy@KathyByars.com.


Dining Room

Living Room

Primary Bedroom

Kathy Byars, REALTOR® | Licensed in MD & DC | 240.372.9708 | KathyByars.com Kensington 3804 Howard Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895 | Broker 202.552.5600 | Equal Housing Opportunity

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Wishing everyone a safe


hopeful 2021!

16 698 Ki ngs Hi ghway St e . A , L e w e s , D E 19958 • ( 3 02) 645- 6 664 • L e e A n n Gr o u p . c o m

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Treat Your Valentine to a Home at the Beach! LEWES BEACH LIFESTYLE


9 Milton Avenue

528 E Cape Shores Drive

MLS: 175544 | Offered at $1,199,000

MLS: 175192 | Offered at $1,500,00


1 Patriots Way

MLS: 173372 | Offered at $1,950,000

F E B R UA RY 0 5 , 2 0 2 1 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 3 9

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