Washingtonblade.com, Volume 52, Issue 07, February 12, 2021

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Meet D.C.’s Most Eligible LGBTQ Singles,

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key; flowers provided by Flowers on Fourteenth)


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Stein Club changes name to Capital Stonewall Democrats

Former president says LGBTQ club will preserve its 45-year history By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

Forty-five years after it was founded in January 1976, members of D.C.’s Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, voted in a Zoom meeting on Feb. 8 to change its name to the Capital Stonewall Democrats. The vote came seven months after the club’s members came to a consensus at their July 2020 virtual meeting that the name should be changed and formed an ad hoc committee to propose a selection of new names. Among the reasons some members gave for changing the name was that some historians have reported that Gertrude Stein, an American ex-patriot writer and artist living in France beginning in the early 1920s and who was widely known as a lesbian “married” to her lover Alice B. Toklas, allegedly became a Nazi sympathizer during World War II when the Germans occupied France. Longtime gay Democratic activist Paul Kuntzler, who was one of the Stein Club’s co-founders in 1976, disputes claims that Stein was a Nazi sympathizer. Kuntzler said Stein was widely known as being Jewish. He cited people familiar with Stein who have reported Stein was protected by some of the many French friends she and Toklas had, at least one of whom was part of the German installed French government during the war years. Kuntzler said he strongly opposes changing the club’s name, saying a new name would take away the club’s identity as an important LGBTQ Democratic Party organization for over 40 years. He said that in 1976, he proposed the Stein name as a counterpart to the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club of San Francisco, which was founded in 1971 as the nation’s first LGBTQ Democratic club. Kuntzler, 79, who holds the status as one of two living honorary lifetime members of the club, appears to be the only member to speak out against a name change. Richard Maulsby, one of the other founding members, has said he favored changing the club’s name. Former Stein Club president Earl Fowlkes, who served as co-chair of the ad hoc committee that deliberated over the selection of a new name for the club, said that while some club members were concerned about Stein’s alleged role as a Nazi sympathizer, he believes most club members considered the Stein name to be outdated and not reflective of the club’s role as an advocate for LGBTQ rights in the 21st century. “A lot of people, especially the younger ones and the new members to D.C. felt that the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club did not really let them know it was LGBTQ,” Fowlkes said. “So, having a Democratic Club named after Gertrude Stein doesn’t make any sense on a number of levels,” he said. “It doesn’t undo the history of Gertrude Stein in Washington, D.C., which is a rich history,” Fowlkes said in discussing the name change. “And that history continues with the new name. It’s still the same club with a different name.” The question of whether the Stein Club’s name should be changed “was settled with the vote to do so at the July 13, 2020 General Body Meeting,” club president Jatarious Frazier told the Blade in a Feb. 1 email describing the club’s process for changing its name. Frazier said the committee then moved forward with recommendations for several possible new names. “Following a unanimous vote on the proposed name, the committee decided to move forward and have the Renaming Committee co-chairs present the proposed names for a vote at the January [club] meeting,” Frazier said in his email. He said the committee voted to approve and present the name Capital Stonewall Democrats, a “name that is both reflective of who we are as an organization and is also indicative of the

Club president JATARIOUS FRAZIER said the new name is “reflective of who we are as an organization and is also indicative of the community we serve.” (Photo courtesy D.C. Government)

community we serve,” Frazier told the Blade. He said the committee also proposed three other possible names, the Marsha P. Johnson Democratic Club, named after the black transgender woman and LGBTQ activist who was said to have played a role in New York’s Stonewall riots; DC Pride Dems; and the Lavender Legacy Democratic Club. At the request of former club president Monika Nemeth, club members decided at the January meeting to invite the membership, many of whom were not present at the January meeting, to vote on the four proposed names by email through an email ballot sent to the members. The ballots were sent out on Feb. 1, with a Feb. 8 deadline set for club members to submit their votes via email. At the Feb. 8 Zoom membership meeting, club vice president for administration Heidi Ellis announced that the Capital Stonewall Democrats name came in first place, with 58.3 percent of the vote out of a total of 84 votes cast. But she said the vote did not meet a two-thirds vote threshold needed to complete the name change. The DC Pride Dems name came in second place, with 21.4 percent of the vote. At Ellis’s request, club members agreed to hold a runoff election between the top two vote-getters at the Monday night, Feb. 8 meeting. Following a voice vote, Ellis declared Capital Stonewall Democrats the winner. No one could be heard voting against that name. At the conclusion of the vote Frazier said the club’s officers would immediately begin changing the club’s website and other documents and city agency registrations to reflect the new name. Although the name change is one of the most significant actions the club has taken in years, no one talked about the name change before or after the vote other than to discuss the mechanics of the vote. Instead, the focus of the meeting was on two guest speakers. One, newly elected D.C. Council member and LGBTQ ally Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4), praised the club’s decision to change its name and gave a presentation on the Council’s legislative agenda for 2021, which includes at least two LGBTQ-related bills. The other speaker, longtime D.C. black gay activist Christopher Price, gave a presentation on Black History Month that focused on the history of D.C.’s black LGBTQ community and its numerous leaders in politics and arts and literature.


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Us Helping Us hit with $3.8 million breach of contract lawsuit

Attorneys representing the D.C.-based LGBTQ health and HIV services organization Us Helping Us, People Into Living filed a response in D.C. Superior Court on Feb. 1 strongly contesting a $3.8 million breach of contract lawsuit filed against it by a contracting company that renovated the group’s headquarters building at 3636 Georgia Ave., N.W. The Kier Company, which provides interior design and general contracting work for commercial and residential buildings, charges in its lawsuit filed last November that Us Helping Us violated the terms of its contract for the renovation work by failing to pay the remaining balance of $101,002 out of a total cost of $320,233.75 for the work. Us Helping Us states in its response to the lawsuit that it withheld the final payment because the Kier Company failed to complete the renovation work specified in the original contract and subsequent change orders calling for additional work. “In addition, some of the work provided was of poor quality, requiring remedial construction service,” the Us Helping Us response to the lawsuit says. In a counterclaim accompanying its response, Us Helping Us calls on the court to order the Kier Company to pay $37,400 in compensatory and actual damages for the costs Us Helping Us incurred to retain another contractor to complete the work it says the Kier Company did not complete. In its lawsuit, the Kier Company accuses Us Helping Us of multiple violations of various provisions in the contract it signed with the company for the renovation work. Among them, the lawsuit says, is an alleged failure by Us Helping Us to remove office furniture from the building during the renovation work and the presence of Us Helping Us employees working in the building at the time of the renovation. The lawsuit says the Us Helping Us employees caused “interference” in the work and delays and extra working hours for the construction workers. According to the lawsuit, the alleged interference amounted to “weekend” and “overtime” fees totaling $3,366,000 over and above the original stated cost of $320,233.75 for the entire project. That and other costs the Kier Company holds Us Helping Us responsible for, including late fees for the period from September 2019, when the company says the final payment for the work was due, through the time the lawsuit was filed in November 2020, brings the total amount Us Helping Us owes the Kier Company to $3,856,952.50, the lawsuit alleges. The total revenue received by Us Helping Us, a nonprofit group, for its fiscal year 2020 budget is estimated to be $3.2 million. In its response to the lawsuit, Us Helping Us says its executive director, DeMarc Hickson, attempted to contact the company about completing the work that Us Helping Us claims the company did not finish. The company did not respond to that request after it initially asserted it had completed the work, the Us Helping Us response to the lawsuit says. It says the company agreed to perform its construction work while Us Helping Us employees worked in areas of the building when and where renovation work was not taking place.

Us Helping Us, People Into Living is strongly contesting a $3.8 million breach of contract lawsuit filed against it by a contracting company.

By failing to complete the work the Kier Company “committed the first material breach of the parties’ agreement, thereby excusing Defendant from any obligations,” the Us Helping Us response to the lawsuit says. “Any harm suffered by Plaintiff arose out of its own non-performance of the essential obligations of the parties’ agreement, and by its own actions or omissions that adversely and substantially affected the interest of Defendant,” the response states. The online court docket for the case shows that a scheduling conference was slated for 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 12 to plan the next actions by the two parties. Under longstanding D.C. Superior Court rules, the two parties will be required to enter conciliation negotiations supervised by a judge to determine whether a settlement in the case can be reached before the case will be scheduled for a trial. An attorney representing the Kier Company did not immediately respond to a request by the Washington Blade for comment. “It is disappointing that The Kier Company is suing us for the precious and life-saving resources that Us Helping Us provides to the community,” Us Helping Us said in a statement released by A. Cornelius Baker, the chair of the Us Helping Us board. “We are confident that our legal team will help us resolve this matter,” the statement says. “The mission of Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc. is to improve the health and wellbeing of Black gay men through innovative programs and services, and through a vision of inclusiveness to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in the entire Black community,” a statement on the Us Helping Us website says. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Md. Senate holds hearing on bill to ban panic defense

The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Feb. 5 held a hearing on a bill that would ban the use of the so-called panic defense in the state. Senate Bill 46, sponsored by state Sen. Clarence Lam (D-Baltimore and Howard Counties), would ban a defendant’s use of a victim’s race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation as an excuse for violence committed against them. “This bill will insure that the defense cannot be used to mitigate murder to manslaughter, for example, and is not a defense to assault in any way,” Lam told the committee. He added that the continued use of this defense fuels stereotypes, hate crimes and violence against LGBTQ people and other affected communities by blaming the victims for the crimes committed against them, and this “implies their lives are less than others.” FreeState Justice Legal Director CP Hoffman told the committee that, “despite the significant advances that the LGBTQ+ community has seen over the past couple of decades, we still face significant discrimination and violence at rates significantly higher than state and national averages.” “We have seen multiple cases in Maryland where someone was charged with first degree murder and they were able to get that reduced to second degree murder or to either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, through the use of a ‘panic’-style defense,” Hoffman testified. Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Sasha Buchert, D’Arcy Kemnitz of the National LGBT Bar Association and Maryland ACLU Legislative Outreach Coordinator Jamie Grace Alexander, also representing the interests of Maryland’s Black transgender community, also testified in support of the ban. 0 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 12 , 2 0 2 1 • LO CA L NE WS

“In 2020 there was a record number of murders targeting transgender people, particularly transgender people of color,” Buchert said, noting the brutal nature of the killings that included beatings and burnings. Alexander told the committee that while this bill would impact other communities, “I’m here to specifically address the origins and consequences of this defense for my community.” “Disclosure should be left to the LGBTQ person in order to reduce already disproportionate violence,” Alexander explained, stating Black trans women have the most to lose from “outing” and other forms of “phobic violence.” This bill, and its companion sponsored by state Del. Julie Palakovich Carr (D-Montgomery County) in the House of Delegates, failed to advance in the previous session, which was shortened due to the pandemic. “Because of the early adjournment of the session, we didn’t have time to pass it or address it fully in the Senate,” Lam said. He also pointed to the Attorney General Brian Frosh’s letter of support for this bill, which states “the discovery or perception of a person’s racial, sexual or gender identity can never be adequate provocation for murder or assault.” The letter also notes under Maryland’s current criminal law, discovery of a spouse having sex with another person is similarly “inadequate provocation” for violence. State Sen. Michael Hough (R-Carroll and Frederick Counties), however, questioned if bias rage based on infidelity was actually similar to an LGBTQ “panic defense,” asking, “How do you square the two? They seem much different.” Hoffman responded that this was a broader application of the infidelity biasrage defense currently articulated in state law. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

D.C. developer donates ‘Secret Garden’ land to Check It

Local real estate developer Douglas Jemal announced at a Feb. 1 press conference that he is donating a 3,900-square-foot parcel of land known as the Secret Garden located behind three adjoining store-front buildings in Anacostia owned by the LGBTQ youth-run company Check It Enterprises to Check It. Jemal’s announcement at the press conference, which was held on the site of the Secret Garden, ended a four-month standoff in which Check It and its supporters in the community rose up to oppose a request by Jemal’s company, the Douglas Development Corporation, that Check It remove the amenities it and its neighbors have built on the land and turn the property over to Douglas Development, which bought it in 2003 in a little noticed land deal. People in the Anacostia community familiar with the Secret Garden have said it had been abandoned for years and became overgrown with weeds, littered with trash and hypodermic needles, and overrun by rodents. People associated with local small businesses surrounding the land and nearby residents, later joined by Check It, cleaned up the space and turned it into a community gathering place they called the Secret Garden. Hidden by the streets and buildings surrounding it, since around 2012 the space has been used as a vegetable garden, home to honey producing beehives, a space for outdoor concerts on a wooden stage, and a popular community meeting space with tables where families share meals. Ron Moten, Check It’s managing member and co-founder who serves as an adviser to the youth members, told the press conference that following strong support from the Anacostia community and at least three members of the D.C. Council, who spoke at the

press conference, he and Douglas Jemal met to discuss a possible amicable resolution to the Secret Garden matter. Moten praised Jemal for what Moten called Jemal’s understanding of the importance of the Secret Garden to the community it serves. “I appreciate him,” said Moten. “I love everybody here,” Jemal told D.C. Mayor MURIEL BOWSER and U.S. the more than 20 people attending the Del. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D-D.C.) cut a red ribbon for the grand opening of Check It press conference. “This is my giving Enterprises in Southeast D.C. in 2017. back something to the community. (Blade photo by Michael Key) It is an honor and a pleasure to be standing with you today,” he said. D.C. Council members Robert White (D-At-Large); Trayon White (D-Ward 8), in whose ward the Secret Garden is located; and Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) each told the press conference they are strong supporters of Check It and the Secret Garden. The three praised Jemal’s decision to donate his land to enable the Secret Garden to continue its role as an important community asset. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Pannell named to judicial nominating commission

“The Commission is comprised of lawyers and nonD.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton earlier lawyers from across the District,” according to the this month named longtime D.C. LGBTQ rights advocate statement. and Ward 8 community leader Phil Pannell to a commission U.S. presidents have traditionally turned to the senior that will help Norton recommend to President Joe Biden U.S. senator from their political party in each state to the nomination of federal judges and other federal law recommend the names of qualified nominees for federal enforcement officials in D.C. judgeship and other law enforcement positions in their Pannell will serve as one of 14 members of the Federal respective states. Clinton, Obama, and now Biden have Law Enforcement Nominating Commission that Norton extended that courtesy to Norton. created to help her make recommendations to Biden on In a Dec. 22 letter to Democratic senators and to Norton, who he should nominate as judges for the U.S. District Biden’s designee to become White House Counsel, Dana Court for the District of Columbia and for the positions of Remus, said Biden was eager to nominate individuals who U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshall for D.C. reflect the best of America and who “look like” America. “President Biden, like Presidents Clinton and Obama, Ward 8 community leader PHIL PANNELL was named to Pannell currently serves as executive director for the granted Norton senatorial courtesy to recommend a commission that will help recommend to President Joe Anacostia Coordinating Council, a Ward 8 community candidates for federal district court judges and other Biden the nomination of federal judges. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key) advocacy organization. He is also a member of the important federal law enforcement officials in the D.C. Democratic State Committee, which serves as the District,” a statement released by Norton’s office says. governing body for the D.C. Democratic Party. “The Commission will screen and recommend candidates to Norton, who will make LOU CHIBBARO JR. recommendations to Biden,” the statement says.

Va. Senate passes HIV decriminalization bill

The Virginia Senate on Feb. 5 passed a bill that would decriminalize HIV transmission in the state. Senate Bill 1138, sponsored by state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), passed by a 21-17 vote margin. It would amend much of the language in the “infected sexual battery” section that focuses on HIV — specifically naming oral and anal sex acts, and replace them with “a sexually transmitted infection” and “sexual behavior that poses a substantial risk of transmission to another person according to current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.” According to the CDC, laws that criminalize HIV exposure are relics from the early days of the epidemic and do not follow current medical understanding for how the virus is treated or transmitted. “We are encouraged by SB 1138’s progress through the Virginia Senate, and we are grateful for the leadership of Senator Locke and Senator McClellan,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck. “Existing criminalization laws are not effective public health strategies, and that’s why this bill is so necessary.” The CDC also found state laws that criminalize behaviors that do not transmit HIV, or do not apply the same standards to other treatable diseases, discourage HIV testing and are often unequally enforced, particularly among LGBTQ communities and communities of color. The bill was slated to go to the House of Delegates later this week. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

Md. House committee approves name change bill

The Maryland House of Delegates’ Judiciary Committee on Jan. 29 voted unanimously in favor of a bill that would waive the requirement to publish legal name change petitions. House Bill 39, sponsored by state Del. Emily Shetty (D-Montgomery County), seeks to waive the current state requirement for notices of name changes to be published “in a newspaper of general circulation” in the county where the petitioner resides unless waived by the court. At a Jan. 15 hearing, FreeState Justice Legal Director CP Hoffman stated there is currently an inconsistency between courts in approving or denying the requests and this bill would “create a level floor.” Trans Maryland Executive Director Lee Blinder also spoke of the challenges and concerns transgender Marylanders face when finding their dead names could be published to the internet for the rest of their lives. The bill received bipartisan support and state Del. Brenda Thiam (R-Washington County) previously told the Washington Blade she found the privacy threats faced by domestic violence survivors to be particularly persuasive as well. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is scheduled to hold a virtual hearing on the companion bill sponsored by state Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore County) on Feb. 18 at 11 a.m. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN LO CA L NE WS • F E B R UA RY 1 2 , 2 0 2 1 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 0 9


This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY and does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your condition and your treatment.




BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including:

BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including:  Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY” section.  Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking BIKTARVY.  Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys. If you develop new or worse kidney problems, they may tell you to stop taking BIKTARVY.  Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat.  Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain.  The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (6%), and headache (5%). These are not all the possible side effects of BIKTARVY. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking BIKTARVY. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY.

 Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV-1 and HBV, your HBV may suddenly get worse if you stop taking BIKTARVY. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months.

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BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, DAILY CHARGE, the DAILY CHARGE Logo, KEEP CREATING, LOVE WHAT’S INSIDE, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. Version date: February 2020 © 2020 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. BVYC0218 04/20



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F E B R UA RY 1 2 , 2 0 2 1 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO • AM 11 4/27/20 M 11:56

Lincoln Project’s avowed ignorance of Weaver texts undercut by leaked communications

‘Instead of looking into allegations, they swept it under the rug’

The Lincoln Project’s leaders, amid the unfolding scandal of co-founder John Weaver soliciting sexual favors from young men, have asserted they were unaware of his indiscretions until last month, but electronic communications obtained by the Washington Blade call that claim into question and suggest some Lincoln Project executives knew about the texts as early as last summer, but took no substantive action in response. The communications with Lincoln Project officials undermine the assertion that “there was no awareness or insinuations of any type of inappropriate behavior when we became aware of the chatter at the time,” as co-founder Steve Schmidt told The New York Times last month. These electronic messages, which date back to August 2020 and include Lincoln Project cofounder Mike Madrid, showed that leadership was made aware of allegations about Weaver from reporters who were investigating it, and had begun discussions of how to respond to any fallout. The initial alerts came to the attention of the Lincoln Project in early August in the form of inquiries about Weaver from the New York Post. The inquiries, three sources familiar with the New York Post story say, were part of an investigation into Weaver’s inappropriate messages to male youths, and brought to the attention of Madrid. On Aug. 6, the Lincoln Project announced Weaver would go on medical leave after a cardiac emergency, but no further action was announced. “So instead of looking into the allegations, they swept it under the rug,” one source familiar with the situation told the Blade. One source close to the Weaver family and not affiliated with the Lincoln Project said the announcement of medical leave wasn’t a ruse and Weaver had, in fact, suffered a heart attack at the time word of the planned story spread to the anti-Trump group. Weaver has a history of health issues and had missed appearances at Lincoln Project events due to stent procedures before COVID prevented further gatherings. The New York Post never published its article. Weeks later in August, another reporter made inquiries regarding Weaver, which Madrid discussed in internal communications. Keith Edwards, who was working at the time with the Lincoln Project as communications director, was named in the discussion as playing a role in the strategy for the response to the potential story. No further action was taken, one source familiar with the internal communications said. It’s not clear what the exact nature of the story was other than Weaver in the aftermath of him taking medical leave. The Blade is not publishing the messages in order to protect the confidentiality of sources. The electronic messages the Blade reviewed were between Madrid and one of the young men Weaver was texting. That source said the exchanges with Weaver were consensual. The Blade has not seen any evidence that Madrid alerted any other Lincoln Project leaders other than then-communications director Edwards to media inquiries into Weaver. Madrid didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article submitted to his associate at Grassroots Labs LLC, the public relations firm where Madrid works. He also did not respond to a question about whether he signed an NDA with the Lincoln Project. Edwards, who has since departed the Lincoln Project to become senior digital adviser for Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), declined to comment on the internal correspondence. “I cannot comment on an email you refuse to show me about a story that was not written by the New York Post,” Edwards said. “Period.” In December, Ron Steslow a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, left the organization and launched the “Politicology” podcast. Steslow didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment for this article and whether he signed an NDA barring him from talking about the Lincoln Project’s internal matters. The New York Post, which endorsed Trump for re-election in 2020, does not have a reputation for supporting the LGBTQ community. Recent op-eds in the New York Post warn about President Biden’s commitment to transgender rights and transgender kids playing in school sports. Nonetheless, the existence of those earlier alerts, regardless of the source, were about sexually aggressive messaging in which gay men were survivors and contradict the Lincoln Project’s assertion that its leaders were only made aware of Weaver’s indiscretions in the last month as the story gained traction. Other than Weaver taking medical leave as a result of a cardiac emergency as word of the New York Post article reached the Lincoln Project, no action was announced against him in the middle of a campaign season. The New York Post didn’t respond Tuesday morning to the Blade’s request for comment on why it didn’t run its article on Weaver. The Lincoln Project’s eventual denunciation of Weaver would have to wait until last week in the form of a statement calling him “a predator, a liar and an abuser” upon publication of a New York Times article citing 21 men who accused Weaver of sexual predation online. None of the men have accused Weaver of criminal conduct. Steve Schmidt, in a phone interview last week with the Blade, denied the Lincoln Project 1 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 12 , 2 0 2 1 • NAT I O NA L NE WS

By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

had “any knowledge of any misconduct by John Weaver” until January. Schmidt also said no media outlet had submitted to the Lincoln Project a formal request for an on-the-record comment on the Weaver texts. “This story never published,” Schmidt said, referring to the New York Post article. “And there was never an interrogatory put on the From left, Lincoln Project’s co-founders STEVE SCHMIDT, MIKE record, to my knowledge, MADRID and JOHN WEAVER. (Screen captures via CSPAN) to the organization by the New York Post.” Schmidt downplayed Madrid’s role in the organization, saying he was “not part of the map” with Lincoln Project, even though Madrid identifies as a co-founder. “Mike isn’t the spokesperson,” Schmidt said. “Mike isn’t the communications person, Mike isn’t the leader. Mike’s not making decisions.” Asked about the electronic communications related to media inquiries about Weaver that included Madrid, Schmidt said Madrid never ran anything “up the chain of command.” If Madrid wasn’t considered a leader at the Lincoln Project, he certainly was paid like he was. According to Federal Election Commission reports, Madrid made at least $1.5 million from the Lincoln Project in the form of payments to Grassroots Labs LLC. The New York Times reported last month 21 men are accusing Weaver of sexual harassment in private messages to them. In the article, Lincoln Project leaders are quoted as saying they were only made aware of Weaver’s sexual solicitations in January as a result of news articles, which appeared in The American Conservative and Forensic News. Republican insiders who spoke to the Blade bolstered the Times reporting with stories about Weaver’s reputation for inappropriate messages, and indicated Weaver’s behavior was well known in recent years. One Republican insider not affiliated with the Lincoln Project said he received a text in 2016 warning Weaver had a history of sending “creepy” texts to younger gay men. One strategist who said he received sexual solicitations from Weaver said he knew him at first in a professional capacity. At that time, the strategist said Weaver did nothing to suggest he had an interest in men, let alone an interest in the strategist in particular. But several years after they met, the strategist said he received Twitter messages from Weaver and he made comments that were “unwanted, but strange.” “He never offered me like a quid pro quo, or a job,” the strategist said. “That was never even part of a conversation. It was just very weird.” The insider said the DMs consisted of messages similar to others that have been reported, including calling the strategist “my boy.” “I know a lot of people have said [that] was demeaning,” the strategist said. “I felt it was more sort of fatherly like. I mean, there’s more than 25 years apart. But that’s also because I knew him, but I could understand how that would be very disconcerting.” Asked if anything sexually explicit came up, the strategist said Weaver “had a lot of questions about my sex life.” The strategist said he “danced around the conversation, of course, because, well, for professional purposes.” The story is consistent with The New York Times report on interviews with 21 young men accusing Weaver of impropriety over the last five years, characterizing Weaver’s behavior in many cases as aggressive and unwanted. Schmidt, speaking with the Blade, said the Lincoln Project uncovered chatter over the summer in pro-Trump 4chan and 8chan message boards suggesting that Weaver is gay, despite having a wife and two children, although nothing suggested he was sending inappropriate texts. Schmidt said he had a phone call with Weaver in July to ask him about it. “What I said specifically to him is there anything you need to tell us, right?” Schmidt recalled. “He said, ‘Absolutely not. It’s all bullshit. Full stop on that. Period.” Last week, the Lincoln Project took a different tone, repudiating Weaver for sexual harassment of younger males and accusing him of having “led a secret life that was built on a foundation of deception at every level.” “He is a predator, a liar, and an abuser,” the Lincoln Project statement says.


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White House defends trans kids in sports

White House Press Secretary JEN PSAKI said, ‘trans rights are human rights.’ (Image public domain)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki held firm this week under questioning from Fox Radio on President Biden’s commitment to transgender rights, asserting under questioning about transgender kids in school sports: “Trans rights are human rights.” The reporter with Fox Radio asked Psaki about the executive order Biden signed on his first day in office ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which determined anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form sex discrimination. The executive order, the Fox Radio reporter said, could lead to situations where “trans girls and cis girls…may end up competing against each other” and “lawsuits and some concerns among parents.” Psaki, responding to the reporter’s question

on whether the administration had guidance to schools, affirmed she’s “familiar with the order.” When the Fox Radio reporter clarified the inquiry was seeking “a message for local schools officials” on disputes that include situations where students are competing for college scholarships, Psaki held firm. “I would just say that the president’s belief is that trans rights are human rights, and that’s why he signed that executive order,” Psaki said. “In terms of the determinations by universities and colleges, I would certainly defer to them.” The executive order signed explicitly states kids in should be able to go to school without being “denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.” The Department of Education has yet to issue guidance on this order as it pertains to school sports. CHRIS JOHNSON

Biden ‘stands by’ pledge to sign Equality Act in 100 days

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week, amid coronavirus and impeachment crises, that President Biden “stands by” his campaign pledge to sign the Equality Act to expand the ban on anti-LGBTQ discrimination under the law within 100 days — although she indicated Congress has to take initial steps with the legislation. Psaki half-jokingly pointed out the Biden administration started days ago, 15 or so, which she implied leaves plenty of time for Biden to fulfill his campaign promise to the sign the Equality Act within 100 days. “So we have 85 days to go,” Psaki said. With Biden making four crises of the economy, coronavirus, climate and racial inequity his top priorities, as well as the forthcoming impeachment trial of former President Trump, fears had persisted in the LGBTQ community Biden wouldn’t be able to fulfill his campaign pledge on the Equality Act. Additionally, 10 Republican votes would

be needed for the 60 votes to end a filibuster on the legislation in the Senate. Psaki, however, said she had no information when asked when Biden would speak out in support of the legislation, which would be key in his role as chief legislator in advancing the Equality Act. “I think the president has been out speaking out about a range of issues he’s committed to, including many on LGBTQ rights, over the course of the last two weeks of his presidency, and he will continue to be,” Psaki said. “But I don’t have any scheduling updates for you at this point in time.” A senior Democratic aide told the Blade that Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) are looking at the week of Feb. 22 to introduce the Equality Act with a vote expected as early as March. CHRIS JOHNSON

Gay former Ariz. lawmaker joins Biden administration

Former Arizona state Rep. ARLANDO TELLER will serve as the Transportation Department’s deputy assistant secretary for tribal affairs.

A gay Navajo man who was a member of the Arizona House of Representatives has joined the Biden administration. Former state Rep. Arlando Teller will serve as the Transportation Department’s deputy assistant secretary for tribal affairs. Teller was the deputy director of the Navajo Department of Transportation before his election to the Arizona House in 2018. He previously worked at two airports and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Teller on Monday officially resigned his seat. “Elevating indigenous nations’ by the Biden administration only invigorates and encourages me to do more,” Teller told the Washington Blade last Wednesday in a text message. “Representation matters.” Teller served in the Arizona Legislature with five

(Photo courtesy of Teller)


other openly gay men. He spoke with the Blade on the same day Vice President Harris swore in Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is the first out person the U.S. Senate has confirmed to a Cabinet-level position. “Excited for the newest deputy assistant secretary at (U.S. Department of Transportation), the one and only Mr. Arlando Teller,” tweeted Arizona state Rep. Daniel Hernández, Jr., on Tuesday. Teller last November tested positive for the coronavirus and spent several weeks in the hospital in Chinle, his hometown in northeastern Arizona that is in the Navajo Nation. Teller’s mother also contracted the disease and died in December at the same hospital to which he was admitted. Teller for the time being will work remotely from Arizona as he recovers from the coronavirus. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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This is how 300 LGBTQ people in Honduran migrant caravan live EL FLORIDO, Honduras-Guatemala border — One hundred transgender women are part of the more than 300 LGBTQ Hondurans who have decided to flee their country in a migrant caravan that left from San Pedro Sula early on Jan. 15. They are all stranded in Chiquimula, Guatemala, as they wait for the authorities to allow them to enter Mexico and onwards to their destination in the United States. Like the remaining 8,000 members of this first migrant caravan of 2021, the 300 members of the Honduran LGBTQ community have endured long walks through the rain and cold, uncomfortable trips in the back of cars and trucks, in addition to being clubbed and hit by Honduran and Guatemalan military forces. In Aguascalientes, where they were reportedly taken under false pretenses from infiltrators, hundreds of Honduran soldiers and police armed with tanks, rifles and pistols waited for about 1,000 Honduran migrants. The soldiers had orders to shoot at them if they resisted returning to Honduras, according to an observer from an international group. Meanwhile, in El Florido, the caravan’s actual meeting point on the border between Honduras and Guatemala, Guatemalan military forces responded to the caravan’s intention to pass through that Central American country in order to reach Mexico with sticks and blows. Trans men and women, lesbians and gays are fleeing discrimination and poverty caused by the profound

Members of an LGBTQ caravan fleeing Honduras last month. (Photo by Agencia Presentes)

inequality of which diverse populations are victims. LGBTQ migrants who are part of this caravan are also fleeing the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effects of Hurricanes Eta and Iota that ravaged the country in November 2020. A large part of the LGBTQ community in northern Honduras lost their homes and belongings when the passage of the two hurricanes destroyed entire neighborhoods and buried them under tons of mud. The government of Juan Orlando Hernández has not done all of the work it said it would do in the areas

affected by the natural phenomena that devastated the country last year. There are entire neighborhoods that are still buried under mud and where no medical teams or government food aide has reached. Agencia Presentes accompanied many of the Honduran trans women who undertook the journey with the first migrant caravan of the year. Groups of LGBTQ people, especially trans women and gay men who have a feminine gender expression, are physically harassed during the caravan’s journey as Agencia Presentes, which accompanied the 8,000 migrants to the border of Honduras and Guatemala, saw. An example of mistreatment and discrimination against LGBTI+ groups in the migrant caravan is the case of Fabiola, 20, who traveled from Tegucigalpa to flee discrimination and transphobia. During her journey, a man hit Fabiola “to remove her from the men’s line.” Presentes observed a series of verbal insults and harassment against trans women by people who used words such as “faggots,” “idiots” and “assholes,” among others. (Editor’s note: This story is by Dunia Orellana of Presentes, a media outlet that covers gender and human rights in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador. The Blade received permission to republish this article that was published on their web site on Jan. 18. For more, visit washingtonblade.com.)

Biden administration rescinds global gag rule President Biden on Jan. 28 axed the so-called global gag rule, a Reagan-era order that restricts U.S. funding and assistance to overseas organizations that offer abortions. Also known as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, the rule prohibited groups that received public funding from the U.S. to offer abortion services or disclose relevant information related to the practice. This applied in countries where the procedure is legal. In the past, the rule restricted reproductive health and did not extend into other health sectors. But under the Trump administration, restrictions were taken a step further and expanded the barriers to all types of global health funding to non-U.S. NGOs. Because many organizations that provide HIV/AIDS resources also offer reproductive health services, LGBTQ people abroad saw limited access to care. The rule did not dictate what can be done with U.S. dollars, but who can receive the funding, said Beirne Roose-Snyder, the director of public policy at the Center for Health and Gender Equity. Even if the organization used non-U.S. funds to provide restricted services or information, it would violate the policy, said Roose-Snyder. Also, if the foreign group that receives U.S. funds sub-grants funds to another organization that does not receive U.S. funding itself, the latter organization under the Trump expansion must also comply with the rule. “The policy poisons the whole foreign organization,” she said. “And it impacts not just what they can do with U.S. money, but it poisons everything they can do with everybody’s money.” Health organizations abroad had a choice: Take much-needed funds, or bar themselves from providing essential health services, Roose-Snyder said. Nearly $9 billion in funding per year was affected, she said. “As the largest global health donor, we wield a lot of power,” she said. LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS service organizations have,

by-and-large, praised the Biden administration for the removal of the rule. “The policy shift will free up millions in U.S. global health funding, enable the US to rejoin the group of countries which champion sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide, and support life-saving health programs for communities in need,” wrote Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, in an emailed statement to the Washington Blade. Kimberly Frost, co-chair of ILGA North America and the Caribbean, said moving away from the gag rule is a sign the administration is “moving in the right direction.” “It is showing its commitment to supporting women in all their diversity to claim their rights; it is creating the conditions to properly fund access to sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services, in a ripple effect that would benefit also the HIV/AIDS response,” she said in an emailed statement. Mark Bromley, chair of the Council on Global Equality, said this memorandum will allow HIV/AIDS programs to be more effective. “Removing the global gag rule actually strengthens our programs, makes them more effective and brings us closer toward our overall goal of turning the page on HIV and AIDS as a global pandemic,” he said. Inevitable gaps in care due to organizational restrictions were “catastrophic” and “deadly,” Roose-Snyder said. At the time of its reinstatement, there was mass-messaging the gag rule would not disrupt access to healthcare abroad. This is a “fiction,” she said. “Because if you have a gap in HIV prevention, the harm may be people becoming positive,” she said. “And that’s not a one time harm.” The Center for Health and Gender Equity conducted a case study, Prescribing Chaos, on the effects of the gag rule in several countries, including Mozambique. HIV/AIDS and malaria are the top causes of death in


PRESIDENT BIDEN axed the so-called global gag rule on organizations that provide abortions.

the country, and 13.2 percent of Mozambique’s adult population and 200,000 children are living with HIV, according to the study. The Mozambican Association for Family Development, or AMODEFA, is one of the largest health organizations in Mozambique, an affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and long-time recipient of funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The organization lost 60 percent of its budget because it could not comply with the rule. Clinics closed, staff was laid off and community advocates providing information about care dwindled as a result. Mozambique was not a unique situation, Roose-Snyder said. Many countries lose not only clinical capabilities, but the advocacy and relationship-building side of care, she said. KAELA ROEDER

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

A new Roaring ‘20s awaits at pandemic’s end Where will you celebrate when the world returns to normal?

We’re all at home. We’re all bored. And we’re sitting on a giant, gay spring. And on top of that, it’s cold out. Pretty tough for a people that basically emerge from the womb wearing a tank top. But now that the vaccine rollout has been upgraded from sputtering to a slow churning, we are all wondering what this summer, and indeed the rest of the year will look like. Will it resemble anything close to normal? Will it be a new normal? Whatever it might be, and if history is any clue, it’s going to be wild. It’s no wonder that following World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic, some 100 years ago, that the Roaring Twenties came along. Not to go too far down the history hole, but I think we all know what those days looked like. Or at least we’ve all read, or saw anyway, “The Great Gatsby.” And I think we got a glimpse of this last summer. Rehoboth Beach for last year’s Labor Day weekend was completely insane. The beach was packed and the weather was beautiful. And more Jazz Age than I think we’d like, secret parties were scattered all over town. One party I guess I can talk about was the giant beach bonfire party that the city itself put on. I hope that continues post-COVID. Whatever the next summer will look like, I think there will certainly be a new gay psychology around not only celebrating mobility but life more generally. Then there’s Pride, the District’s largest celebration. It’s already been postponed again. And we all saw that coming, I guess. But fall should yield something. And let’s face it, wouldn’t fall be a better time of year for a large outdoor party? June in D.C. borders on sweltering, with humidity approaching 100%, and a thunderstorm about to blow through. A fall Pride would just be more, well, civilized. Plus Mayor Bowser is rolling out new plans for outdoor alcohol zones, large public spaces where public consumption of alcohol would be allowed. And while I don’t think anyone wants us to be another New Orleans, the pandemic did teach us that folks like congregating outside, and while there, to drink. It’s just who we are. Just drive by Logan Circle anytime of day when the weather is nice and you’ll see what I mean. And then there’s our gay city more broadly. Certainly I’m no economist. But one positive thing about the last year is that it sparked some innovation, or at least folks finding some talents or even passions they didn’t even know they had. I mean, how many of my friends are bakers now? And with that and a clearinghouse of cheap commercial spaces, perhaps we will see a wave of new gay eateries and bars and all sorts of new things. One can hope. And then there’s the friendships we’ve lost along the way. D.C. is a social town for sure. And the pandemic cost us all sorts of levels of friendships that we took for granted. And we all learned fairly quickly that Zoom calls can only provide so much. I’m not sure the end of the pandemic will change exactly how we relate to each other. Regarding any new group psychology celebrating gay life, maybe that brings us to appreciate each other a little more. These are just some predictions anyway. It’s going to be a long winter for sure. But damn if it doesn’t look a little brighter already. So, where will you be roaring this summer? Rehoboth Beach? Fire Island? The Green Lantern? With friends you forgot you had, or at least you hadn’t roared with in a while? Whatever it might look like, it’s going to be wild. And I can’t wait. 1 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 12 , 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.

Will the glow from the Biden administration last? Democrats should stay focused on making progress

We are in the thralls of the first few weeks of the Biden/Harris administration and it feels great. Excitement is in the air over all the executive orders and presidential memorandums impacting everything from the LGBTQ community, to immigration, racial justice, and climate change. President Biden’s State Department speech saying America is back and will once again work with our allies was applauded around the world. American diplomats were ecstatic to hear they once again have a president who has their back and supports the work they do. Democrats loved seeing Vice President Kamala Harris in the Senate President’s chair cast her first tie-breaking vote to move forward the budget resolution that could lead to passing the administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package and enjoyed hearing the president say he is prepared to fill every open judicial vacancy within his first two years. House Democrats stuck together to remove Marjorie Taylor Green from committees and passed the budget resolution, step two toward going it alone on passing the stimulus bill in budget reconciliation if Republicans, as the president says, only support nothing or too little. Then Defense Secretary Austin answered the call from FEMA to have the military, especially medics and nurses, help states set up mass COVID vaccination sites and it was important the administration use the Defense Production Act to ensure enough vaccine and the needles and gloves to help people get it. Things are moving along so well we could be lulled into thinking it will always be this way. How long will the high last? Will it all come crashing down to earth like a relationship gone bad? When will internecine fights in the Democratic Party start? Will they outshine all the good now happening? My answer to those questions is it doesn’t have to happen if Democrats stay focused on one thing: making progress. There will be fights about how fast progress is being made and who gets what they want first. Those things can be dealt with if everyone remembers we are all in this together. We need to recognize not everything will be accomplished in two years. So as legislation moves forward it’s important to remember part of what needs to happen is to ensure there will be more than two years to accomplish the things we want. Democrats need to keep reminding themselves how much could get done if they keep the House and the Senate for all four years of a Biden/Harris administration, which means we must pass the Voting Rights Act. It means there shouldn’t be threats of intra-party primaries. It means working together as a united party and using the big tent to move everyone forward. It means not stopping progress because everything isn’t won in one bill. It also means remembering the founders of our great country set up a government requiring compromise to move forward, which often means things happen incrementally. Maybe getting a government option add-on to the Affordable Care Act in the first two years can lead to universal healthcare in the next two. It means eliminating some college debt and lowering interest rates on all of it can be a positive start. It means finding compromises all can live with as we continue to move forward while never giving up our principles could give the Democratic Party the chance to hold on to Congress for more than two years. None of this will be easy but Democrats must figure out how to take advantage of the civil war raging within the Republican Party. They took advantage of the Democratic Party’s internal fights in the last election and while Democrats won the presidency they lost House seats, didn’t win the Senate seats hoped for, and lost legislatures around the country. We should recognize except for Trump’s total mishandling of the pandemic he would most likely have won. So now it’s time to turn the tables on Republicans and take advantage of their fights while at the same time producing positive results for all Americans. This can only be done if every member of the Democratic Party recognizes by standing together everyone will win in the long run.









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RANAE VON MEDING is a writer and a same-sex parent to two young daughters with her wife Audrey. They live in Dublin, Ireland where she has become an outspoken advocate for equal rights for children of LGBTQ+ families. She is the co-founder and CEO of ‘Equality For Children.’ You can find her on Instagram at @ranaevonmeding.

Still fighting for parental rights in Ireland

Every child of an LGBTQ parent deserves equality under the law My name is Ranae and I live in Dublin, Ireland with my wife Audrey. Our daughters Ava and Arya are 4 and 2. Our girls have two mothers, yet I am still seen as a single parent. Audrey and I were an unlikely couple from the start. She was in her fourth and I was in my first year of acting in a theater school in Dublin. We were paired together at an open day and became friends. We were so different, yet we immediately clicked. I knew Audrey wasn’t straight, but over the course of the next year, I had no idea that I was developing feelings for her. The day before my 21st birthday the realization hit me like a bolt of lightning. The feelings I had for her were so much more than just friendship. The rest, as they say, is history. We have been together for 12 years now, and married for five. Audrey and I always knew we wanted to have kids and talked about this from the moment we started dating. We both have lots of siblings and knew that life wouldn’t be complete for us without having our own kids. I always dreamed about being pregnant and going through the process of growing and birthing a baby. Audrey, on the other hand, didn’t really want to be pregnant as long as she could become a parent. It was almost an unspoken thing that I would be the one to carry our child, should we go down the IVF route. One night in early 2015, after a few glasses of wine, I had an idea. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could use Audrey’s eggs but I would carry the baby? This way, our children would genetically be Audreys, but I would be the birth mother. At the time it was just a silly idea we had. Little did we know that conversation would change the course of our lives. We decided to Google it and lo and behold, we found out that it wasn’t that crazy of an idea. Reciprocal IVF was actually an incredibly popular fertility treatment option for same-sex couples. At that moment, we knew that Reciprocal IVF was right for us. When we tried to book a clinic appointment in Dublin, we were disappointed to find out that they wouldn’t treat us in Ireland. Back in 2015, Reciprocal IVF wasn’t licensed yet. In fact it’s only been licensed in the last year. We were given the option to do IUI/IVF with my own eggs, but at that point we had our hearts set on using Audrey’s eggs. Despite the setback, it made us more determined to find a way. We found a clinic in Spain and to be honest it was a bit of a crazy time for us. We didn’t know any other LGBTQ+ parents, let alone any who had undergone treatment abroad. We had no clue what we were doing, and made so many mistakes along the way. A few months later, we conceived our first child with the help of an anonymous sperm donor. Conceiving our first child in the wake of marriage equality in Ireland was like a dream. Wrapped up in our little bubble of happiness, we went through that pregnancy with a sense of hope for our future. We got married when I was five months along and we celebrated a future that was finally equal. Little did we know what lay ahead of us. Toward the end of my pregnancy, we learned something that devastated us. LGBTQ+ parents in Ireland were still not equal. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with emotions and going through various stages of shock. My first reaction was ‘but we are married and we voted for marriage equality last year.’ After consulting with a solicitor, we found out more. From the moment our daughter was born I would be a married woman but considered a single mother. I would be forced 2 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 12 , 2 0 2 1

to register myself as a sole parent and our family would not be recognised under the law, simply because we were a same-sex couple. The simple difference was that I was married to a woman and not a man and because of this, Audrey would be a legal stranger to her own child. There are some moments that stick with me. Moments that were stolen from us as a young family and ones that we will never get back. The day we registered Ava’s birth, we walked into the registration office and saw all the proud parents with their babies. When they called us into the room, the registrar sat down behind her desk. Without looking up she asked, ‘OK, so which one of you is the mother?’ We said, ‘We both are.’ ‘But which one of you gave birth?’ I said, ‘I did!’ She looked at me and said, ‘OK Ranae, I will be directing all my questions at you, if that’s OK?’ From that point on, she didn’t even look at Audrey. It felt like a kick in the gut. It was just all wrong. That was the day I promised Audrey I was never going to stop fighting until we fixed this. I joked and said, well at least this will all be sorted out by the time we have another baby. How wrong I was. Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2018 and I lie bleeding in the recovery suite with a second daughter, listening to fireworks, my heart breaking because I knew we were still in the same position as before. As it stands today, I am considered a single parent to our daughters. Our children, along with countless others in Ireland, are denied the right to a legal connection with both of their parents simply because their parents are a same-sex couple. Much has changed in the last five years. In 2019, following on from an online petition that I started, we started a campaign called ‘Equality For Children’ along with a group of other LGBTQ+ parents. Since then we have been successful at lobbying the government for change and raising awareness of these issues within Ireland. Legislation was finally passed in 2020 that would allow certain LGBTQ+ families to have both parents legally recognised. Sadly it’s legislation that will only cover certain methods of conception. It’s great to see progress in the right direction, but it’s galling for anyone who falls outside of this and is still being actively discriminated against. Only female couples who have conceived in an Irish clinic with a non anonymous donor and a child born in Ireland are covered. I can’t really put into words how damaging this has been for our family. To be reminded every day that you are ‘less than.’ That you are not equal. For your kids to be punished because their parents aren’t straight. In practical terms it’s an issue for children when one of their parents is unable to give medical consent, unable to travel freely with them, unable to make decisions on their behalf. But it goes beyond that, the emotional and physiological damage it has done to our families is immeasurable. Following on from lengthy legal proceedings, our family soon hopes to be recognised. If we are, we will be one of the lucky ones. What about all those who fall outside of this? Are their children less deserving of equality? Because they have two dads? Because they were conceived outside of a clinic? Because they have a known donor? Because they weren’t born in Ireland? This fight will never be over until every child of an LGBTQ+ parent in Ireland has the same rights and protections as any other child in the country.




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Meet D.C.’s Most Eligible LGBTQ Singles Yes, you can date during a pandemic FROM STAFF REPORTS

The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, from telework to dining out, but D.C.’s singles scene perseveres with outdoor dates, igloo dinners, and Zoom meetings. This is the seventh annual Washington Blade Most Eligible LGBT Singles issue. It began with reader nominations; from that list, our staff chose the most eligible with an eye for locals with interesting stories, those doing compelling work and yes, those who are easy on the eye. This year’s crop of top singles agree that confidence is a turn on and bad breath is a deal breaker. Meet D.C.’s Most Eligible LGBTQ singles for 2021.

Aramis Angleró, 31, Accountant

Craig Cipollini, 53, Director of Marketing

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Gay What are you looking for in a mate? I’m looking for someone who challenges me and motivates me to try new things. Someone who has a great smile, knows what he wants and is driven by his passions. Biggest turn off: Dishonesty, rudeness, someone who thinks they know it all and is not willing to grow and hear someone else’s perspective. Biggest turn on: Someone confident in their own skin that they can hold a conversation and an active guy in sports or fitness. Hobbies? Competitive volleyball is my passion (I play in the local league DCPVL), picked up running in 2020 and love live musicals and comedy shows. How has COVID impacted your dating life? It’s been difficult. I normally connect with a guy face to face, which makes the interaction more organic. However, during COVID I’ve used dating apps but it sometimes feels forced. Pets, kids, or neither? I would love to have a dog but I know it’s a lot of responsibility so co-parenting would be a plus. Kids? Well, I’m not there yet but open to the conversation if we both feel ready. Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Simple answer: No. I’m open to having a conversation as long as it’s respectful and the values where we differ aren’t extreme. Celebrity crush: Darren Criss Name one obscure fact about yourself: One would think being Latino from Puerto Rico I would enjoy the summer weather but I hate sweating so unless I’m in a pool or at the beach, I enjoying being in A/C.

How do you identify? Gay male What are you looking for in a mate? Someone with a sense of humor (!!!), passionate, focused, confident (but not arrogant,) responsible, caring, comfortable, relaxed, someone who loves the performing arts, someone I find physically attractive, and a sense of fun. Biggest turn off: Arrogance Biggest turn on: Confidence Hobbies? Artwork, working out, dance, movies, hanging with friends How has COVID impacted your dating life? Where to start LOL … Haven’t really been able to date or meet people, so I’ve just been hanging with my friends. I’ve tried a few dating apps and had a few dates (mostly Zoom calls) but not much dating really. Pets, kids, or neither? No pets or kids (but I love dogs!) Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Possibly. It would really depend on how different their political views were from mine. Celebrity crush: Can I list more than one? Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Marwan Kenzari, Regé-Jean Page, Simu Liu, Jonathan Bailey Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’ve performed on live national television.

Derrick Johnson, 35, Chief Diversity Officer & Director of Event Strategy

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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How do you identify? Gay (Pronouns: he/him/his) What are you looking for in a mate? I’m looking for a man who is confident, thoughtful, goaloriented, philanthropic, open-minded, and makes me laugh. He must have a sense of humor and be driven by impacting the lives of others. Biggest turn off: Entitlement (i.e. being rude to servers) Biggest turn on: A man who dances like no one is watching. Hobbies? Music touches my soul; flag football and fitness classes keep me in physically good shape; video games distract my mind; traveling expands my awareness; volunteering makes me feel good. How has COVID impacted your dating life? COVID has limited my ability to meet people while doing the things I love. It has shown me the importance of cultivating relationships and the value of maximizing moments in life. Pets, kids, or neither? Dog(s) and kid(s) Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Political views, yes. Humanitarian views, no. Celebrity crush: Brendon Urie (the talent...woof) Name one obscure fact about yourself: I almost went to Mars #marsone

Mike Reddy, 33, Director of Advocacy at Marketing for Change Amanda Haverkamp, 25

(Photo courtesy of Mike Reddy)

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Occupation: Just started work in the cybersecurity sales arena after spending three years in the U.S. Senate How do you identify? Lesbian What are you looking for in a mate? I’m looking for someone who can be my biggest cheerleader in all areas of life, and who will welcome me to be the same to her in return. I’d like my person to appreciate the grandiosity of how I show affection, but also recognize the simplest moments and be able to appreciate those together. Must haves: a strong personality, a grasp on her “story,” and a little bit of hopeless romanticism. Biggest turn off: A “floater,” which is what I call those who don’t know what they’re looking for. Biggest turn on: Charisma, decisiveness, sense of humor Hobbies? Cars and mural-hunting! I’ve loved cars since I was a kid. There are several childhood pics of me with Hot Wheels in my hand or playing with toy trucks on the beach. In college, I focused in on German performance cars, and have never looked back! Flying through the backroads and going on road trips are my favorite activities. As for murals, whenever I visit a new city, I make it a point to scout out the street art. In fact, a lot of my Instagram is dedicated to combining these hobbies through car photography. I’m super nerdy about it, but if you think you can handle it, drop me a line (or a like) @semperamanda. How has COVID impacted your dating life? The pandemic has led me to go on a lot more outdoorsy dates, which is awesome. Hikes, beach walks, picnics, boating, and scenic drives are some of my favorites. Pets, kids, or neither? Neither at the moment, though my three-year plan involves adopting a cat! I’m open to pets 100%. Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? This is such a Washingtonian question! Haha. I’ve done this in the past, and it hasn’t worked out, though I do believe that if the issues that a couple disagrees on are not pivotal to the point of negatively affecting others in any way, shape, or form, then it can be discussed. Definitely very case-by-case. Celebrity crush: Jessica Chastain Name one obscure fact about yourself: When I was in the Coast Guard stationed on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, I did my Search and Rescue swim test in the harbor where they filmed the movie “Jaws” — during the peak of great white shark mating season.

How do you identify? Open to all types of humans, except for adult fans of those Minion characters. What are you looking for in a mate? I’m not a very “online” person, so someone who wants to do lots of stuff in the real world. But not hiking. If you enjoy hiking, I’m sure there’s someone else on this list for you. Biggest turn off: Hiking Biggest turn on: Hill staffers. Tell me about your proximity to power, baby. Hobbies? Cooking Indian food How has COVID impacted your dating life? Peace and stability are my biggest motivations right now. It’s a wild world out there! Pets, kids, or neither? I’ve got an unruly Pitt-mix pup. And I’d love kids, but honestly I’m just so tired. Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Sure! But I’m not generally compatible with people at the far ends of the spectrum. Celebrity crush: Jacinda Ardern Name one obscure fact about yourself: I used to take Richard Simmons’ workout class when I lived in LA.

Maria Miller, ripe 29

(Photo courtesy of Maria Miller)

Occupation: You name it, I’ve probably done it. How do you identify? DYKE What are you looking for in a mate? Someone to finish Patsy Cline lyrics when I’m singing terribly. Biggest turn off: Bad tippers and people who are rude to ANY sort of service industry staff. Biggest turn on: Kind and genuine people. Hobbies? Community organizing, painting, making jewelry, wine. How has COVID impacted your dating life? It’s literally non-existent. Pets, kids, or neither? I love pets and kids, I have none. Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Why would I? Celebrity crush: Ciara and Selena (not Gomez) Name one obscure fact about yourself: I still have two baby teeth.

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Ari Schwartz, 34, Attorney

Murray Penner, 59, U.S. Executive Director, Prevention Access Campaign/U=U

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Lesbian, Jewish, Feminist What are you looking for in a mate? Romance, kindness, vision, a ride or die, and Big Dyke Energy -- a lesbian who is joyfully settled in her life and is also making it a priority to meet her last LTR and future wife/baby mama. I’m looking for a witness to my life and the opportunity to fall in love all over again every single morning with the same woman. Do you want to dance at your 50th wedding anniversary, too? Let me know via IG @apschwartzesq. Biggest turn off: Someone who doesn’t know who they are. Know what you want and need. If you know how to ask, I’ll know how to answer. Be an active participant in every moment of the creation of your life, please. Biggest turn on: Stability, ambition, unapologetic laughter, a big bright smile, strong hands, power lesbians. Hobbies? You can catch me at your local plant nursery every weekend with an oat milk latte in hand. Big houseplant enthusiast, re-teaching myself piano, reconnecting with my ancestral roots by actively learning Hebrew, building lesbian community and campfires, daily REDFIN scrolling, and pretending to understand my growing crystal collection beyond their aesthetics. I’d always rather be at the beach. How has COVID impacted your dating life? While I no longer have the chance encounter at Trader Joe’s or Home Depot, or a first-date at an arcade playing air hockey, I still make dating a priority in my life. All it takes is one moment, one person, and one decision to change the entire trajectory of your life. Don’t let COVID stop you from meeting someone that makes every nerve in your body send a shockwave through your soul each moment you’re near her (even if it’s outside from six-feet apart). Pets, kids, or neither? I definitely want both kids and a dog. The con in dating me is that I am allergic to cats. But I’ll take Claritin for the right woman. Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? As long as our core values still align, and the difference isn’t rooted in challenging my right to exist. Celebrity Crush? Bette Porter 4eva Name one obscure fact about yourself: My playlists jump from country pop to trap music within seconds.

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Gay What are you looking for in a mate? I’m looking for an independent, easy-going, familyoriented, trustworthy, fun-loving man who is looking for someone to complement his life. Biggest turn off: Clingy people Biggest turn on: Confidence Hobbies? Travel, movies, dining out, spending time with family/friends How has COVID impacted your dating life? I’ve mainly stayed home and haven’t dated at all during COVID, which wasn’t much of a change from pre-COVID! I’m just now getting back into dating, but I take COVID very seriously so dates will mainly be outdoors. I’m also fully vaccinated now so I will feel safer re-entering the dating life! Pets, kids, or neither? Dog, cat and two adult children (20 and 24 years old) Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? This is a very important issue for me. In the past, I would say yes. But in this era, I would say most likely not. Because of the polarization of political views that has occurred over the last four years, I would need to be sure that the values one has for fundamental respect and rights of all people are aligned with mine, and that who they support politically also has similar values. That would be the determining factor if I would date someone, not their political views alone. Celebrity crush: Steve Kornacki Name one obscure fact about yourself: People see me as outgoing and personable, but I’m incredibly shy and introverted.

Stephanie Schweitzer, 32, Graphic Designer How do you identify? Lesbian What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who likes adventure, traveling, and being active, while also perfectly thrilled with nights in. The counterbalance is important to me. Paired with someone who also values family, whether it’s blood related or chosen family. Biggest turn off: Passing judgement too quickly. Biggest turn on: Confidence. Someone who truly knows who they are at their core and isn’t intimidated by the confidence of their partner. And patience. Hobbies? Indoor skydiving, cars/motorcycles, volunteering with animals, stuffing my face with food/drinks from new restaurants I discover. Anything art related. How has COVID impacted your dating life? Before the pandemic, I lived a busy life; endto-end each day with work and hobbies. COVID has forced me to slow down and focus my attention on what the next phase of my life looks like. While work and hobbies are still a huge part of that next phase, finding someone to share my life with has become more of a priority. Pets, kids, or neither? Have pets, want kids eventually. Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Sure, as long as we can meet at the understanding that difference of opinions can be a positive thing. Celebrity crush: Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Lawrence, Chelsea Handler, Betty Who Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’m a sculptor.


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Joe Kozel, 38, Fifth Grade Teacher

Drew Kelly, 28, Attorney

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Gay What are you looking for in a mate? In an ideal world, I’d find someone who is honest, driven, and athletic. In the real world, I’d find someone with a cute dog. Biggest turn off: My biggest turn off is gas lighting — and bad breath. Biggest turn on: My biggest turn on is someone with a cute smirk and hair I can run my hands through. Hobbies? My most recent hobbies are getting ignored on Grindr, and trying not to become popular on @gaysovercovid. Other hobbies include reading, playing chess, working out, and pretending I can cook. How has COVID impacted your dating life? What dating life? Pets, kids, or neither? DOGS Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? It depends on the views, and where they are on the political scale. So ... maybe? Celebrity crush: Ricky Martin Name one obscure fact about yourself: I have run five marathons.

How do you identify? Gay What are you looking for in a mate? Easy-going guy who enjoys nights out on the weekends and documentaries after work on the weeknights — and a guy who likes my eclectic taste in music and who prefers the beach to anywhere else. Biggest turn off: Arrogance and guns and boat shoes. Biggest turn on: Someone who is comfortable around others, and who makes others comfortable around them. Also good teeth. Hobbies? Drinking rum and Cokes with friends, running, and stalking online real estate sites. Also anything water-related: boating, paddle boarding, kayaking, waterskiing. How has COVID impacted your dating life? It has slowed things down quite a bit, but made more time for me. Hopefully when we come out of this, we all know ourselves a bit better. Pets, kids, or neither? If my guy wants them, I want them. Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Political views? Maybe. Morals and ethics? No. Celebrity crush: Cal Shapiro, Robbie Rogers, Dacre Montgomery, Faith Hill Name one obscure fact about yourself: My favorite restaurant is Wawa.

Jasmine “Jazzy” Garcia, 29, Scheduling Coordinator

(Photo courtesy of Jasmine “Jazzy” Garcia)

How do you identify? Lesbian What are you looking for in a mate? You absolutely have to make me laugh because life is too short to take so seriously. Let’s make each other laugh about anything and everything. Biggest turn off: JEALOUSY. If I’m yours, I’m yours. I also hate tardiness. Be ready and be on time. Biggest turn on: I’m turned on by confidence. Standing strong in who you are and your convictions is just so sexy to me (as long as your convictions do not harm a person or group). Someone who is open, optimistic, easy going, 420 friendly and a person who is spiritually connected with who she is. Hobbies? I play a lot of video games (especially in quarantine). Before COVID, you could find me at Flash nightclub. I take my dog on hikes and when the world isn’t in shambles, I love traveling. The beach is my happy place. How has COVID impacted your dating life? COVID has completely halted my dating life. Meeting new people right now is impossible. I tried dating apps and I delete them within a week. Pets, kids, or neither? REGGIE! My four-year-old pitbull/beagle mix is my whole life. I take him everywhere if he’s allowed. Sometimes I’ll decline an invite if he can’t come along. He is my furry child. As of right now I have zero interest in children. Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Absolutely not. Trump supporters need not apply. Celebrity crush: Katherine Moennig (duh!), Samira Wiley and Snow tha Product. Name one obscure fact about yourself: I am the creator and admin of Lesbians in DC Facebook group! I am also starting a podcast for queer women with a friend, so join my Facebook group for the official launch.


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Calvin Seino, 31, IT Delivery Manager

Nikki Goldschein, 27, PAC Manager

(Photo courtesy of Calvin Seino)

(Photo by Anna Voe Ray)

How do you identify? Gay What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is true to who they are, that goes to therapy, and takes vacations. Biggest turn off: Not having drive or ambition Biggest turn on: Drive and ambition Hobbies? Cooking, listening to music, going to concerts, working out, and reading tech/car blogs. How has COVID impacted your dating life? I prefer to meet people organically, ideally while doing things we both enjoy. COVID has forced that interaction to happen online. I find it extremely difficult to read personality via a screen. Pets, kids, or neither? I have a beautiful Goldendoodle named Belair. Kids are on my life vision board. Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? I try to give people room to be individuals in thought and even embrace/explore differences. I actually prefer to not date people who are too similar in thought as it stifles each other’s growth. However, there is a hard line with social injustice, and systematic issues. Celebrity crush: Rege-Jean Page Name one obscure fact about yourself: I think capers can go in almost any dish.

How do you identify? Lesbian, Gay, Queer What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is outgoing and has a strong sense of humor. Liberal, duh. A person who gets excited about a good drink or fun activity. Affectionate. A woman who is DOWN (ex. we’re hosting a dinner party tonight, great! We’re going to a costume party, let me grab my wig. I need some space tonight, see ya). Biggest turn off: Cats and someone who is super messy Biggest turn on: Someone ambitious and passionate about their work or hobbies. Good cooks. Someone living their life loud and proud. Someone who has been around the sun a few more times than I have. Hobbies? Cooking and baking. Being outdoors: beach and mountains. Road tripping. Newly into tennis. How has COVID impacted your dating life? Woof. It’s been, uh, tough. Pets, kids, or neither? Don’t have either but hoping for both Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Hard to imagine in this day and age, especially since my politics and work life are so deeply intertwined. Plus, the right has really gone off the deep. Celebrity crush: Toni Collette, Rosario Dawson (sorry Cory) and Aubrey Plaza (like most other gays on Twitter this year) Name one obscure fact about yourself: I was president of my high school’s GSA.

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The African American History and Culture Museum presents Historically Speaking: An Evening with the Rev. JESSE JACKSON on Tuesday. (Photo public domain)


Today REEL Affirmations On Demand hosts a virtual screening of “Love the One You’re With,” a Black History Month celebration of queer Black love, beginning today at noon. Virtual tickets are $10 and grant access to the film until noon on Saturday. For more information, visit thedccenter.org. Red Bear Brewing (209 M St., N.E.) hosts RuPaul Viewing tonight at 8 p.m. Guests can enjoy beer, food, and cocktails while watching contestants claw their way to victory on the big screens. Visit redbear.beer for more information.

Saturday, February 13

The D.C.-area Transmasculine Society Pal-entine’s Day: Self Love virtual event is today at 5 p.m. via Zoom. Both cis and trans folks are invited to this creative event, which includes a guided card-making activity. Individuals who register for this free event can receive a downloadable affirmations journal and a Valentine’s Day card. For more information and to register, visit dcats.org or their Facebook event page. It’s the Year of the Ox and the Smithsonian American Art Museum,the Chinese Cultural Institute and the Chinese Embassy host free virtual celebrations today beginning at 10 a.m. For more information on crafts, video performances and more, visit the SAAM Family Zone at americanart.si.edu/events/family-zone.

Sunday, February 14

Lesbians in Love hosts a virtual Valentine’s Day LGBTQ+ Partner Yoga Date tonight at 6 p.m. This is a free couples event and all genders and levels of yoga experience are welcome. For more information, visit lesbiansinlove.com or the event’s Facebook page.

Monday, February 15

Click in With Coach hosted by A League of Her Own and Em Bank continues tonight at 7 p.m. This weekly “bar talk” virtual event is a chance for regulars and newbies to meet and continue to build a community. Venmo will also be available to tip the bartender. More information is available on the event’s Facebook page.

Tuesday, February 16

The African American History and Culture Museum presents Historically Speaking: An Evening with the Rev. Jesse Jackson tonight at 7 p.m. online. This free-to-attend conversation with Jackson and his biographer David Masciotra discusses Jackson’s history and views on the present within the context of his latest biography “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters.” Visit nmaahc.si.edu for more information on this and other Black History Month events.

Wednesday, February 17

A virtual queer / trans femmes meetup hosted by Queer in Oakland and Femme4Femme is tonight at 9 p.m. For tickets and information, visit their Eventbrite page.

Thursday, February 18

The Anacostia Community Museum presents a virtual presentation on John R. Kinard, the first African American director of a Smithsonian museum today at 2:30 p.m. This free event is led by his daughter Dr. Joy G. Kinard and details his innovations which serve as a model for museums around the world. For more information and to register for this Zoom discussion, visit si.edu. 3 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 12 , 2 0 2 1

OUT&ABOUT Holocaust Museum highlights gay couple that ‘resisted through love’ The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum presents a Facebook Live event on straight and gay couples that resisted through love during the Holocaust on Feb. 12 at 9:30 a.m. The Nazis persecuted gay men as enemies of the “Reich.” Gad Beck and Manfred Lewin met in a Jewish youth group. They spent many nights together, before events of the Holocaust ripped them apart. Their story is part of the event, which also includes straight couples who found love in Nazi concentration camps. Museum historians will discuss their stories on Facebook Live to show “how love became an act of resistance for people persecuted by the Nazi regime.” Visit the Holocaust Museum on Facebook for details on how to access the event.

BlackLight BIPOC, LGBTQ summit preview Feb. 25 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland hosts a Blacklight Summit preview event on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. Both the preview and the summit are free online events. The BlackLight Summit, scheduled for March 4-6, is a dance exhibition and discussion centering and affirming the narratives and experiences of marginalized groups, particularly from the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. This virtual three-day event features roundtable conversations, movement labs and artistic presentations from Black artists. The preview event features the discussion “Challenge and Change: Revelations of Black Women in the Arts.” Visit theclarice.umd.edu for more information and to register for tickets.

Red Bear offers Valentine date nights Red Bear Brewery (209 M St., N.E.) hosts Brewery Date Nights this Valentine’s Day weekend from Friday, Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. to Sunday, Feb. 14 at 10 p.m. This event could be a good opportunity for those looking for a holiday cuddle with their favorite bear over a choice brew for two. Red Bear complies with D.C. and CDC pandemic guidelines while offering a rerelease of their Cupid’s Black Heart Strawberry Chocolate Bock and Cupid’s Arrow Chocolate Raspberry Chocolatini. For more information or to monitor pandemic-related changes, visit redbear.beer.

A discussion on undocumented, LGBTQ organizing The National Museum of American History hosts a virtual discussion on the nexus between organizing by undocumented groups and views on democracy Friday, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m. This free webcast asks “What does democracy look like today?” while exploring testimonials from groups helping undocumented communities survive the pandemic. Other discussions include the impact of 9/11, the DREAM Act, deportation, policing, and organizing across identities by LGBTQ and communities of color. For viewing and other information, visit the Smithsonian’s website at si.edu and look for the History in Real Time: Undocumented Organizing page.

The challenges of conducting in a pandemic

TWC’s first Black maestro Eugene Rogers on COVID and inclusion By PATRICK FOLLIARD

When renowned conductor Dr. Eugene Rogers was announced as artistic director of The Washington Chorus (TWC) in February 2020, he was thrilled. As the first AfricanAmerican maestro in the Grammy Awardwinning choral ensemble’s 60-year history, he was eager to get to work. In midsummer, when he was in fact handed the reins to the chorus, the state of the world had changed dramatically and consequently conducting had too, yet he remained equally enthused. By the end of the year, despite unprecedented challenges, TWC successfully managed to virtually present its popular annual holiday concert, “Candlelight Christmas,” as well as the moving short music film “Cantata for a More Hopeful Tomorrow,” a TWC-commissioned work by acclaimed composer Damien Geter inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rogers grew up singing gospel and R&B in rural Halifax Country, Va. He sang everywhere – up and down dirt roads and from the altar at church. A love for music prompted him to earn a bachelor’s degree in choral music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in choral conducting from University of Michigan. “Who grows up knowing what a conductor does?” Rogers asks. “But from my first conducting class I was hooked. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I’d been put on earth to conduct.” And now knowing there are people of color who look to him for inspiration, Rogers takes his background as a Black conductor seriously. Through his presence on the podium and repertoire, he draws an increasingly diverse following to the classical music scene and beyond. In addition to TWC, Rogers is Director of Choirs at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he lives with his husband Mark, a music lover though not a musician.

BLADE: What else is the same? ROGERS: Even with masks

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and Zoom, I’m still connecting with people and there’s always the musical merit – the craft, the art of what we do. And that’s why I’m not afraid for the future – if we can get 113 people at virtual rehearsal engaging with this art form even though it looks so different, that tells me we’re not going anywhere. BLADE: This must require some flexibility. ROGERS: Because of my background, I grew up able to improvise in styles. I’ve always brought that to my work. An ability to read the audience, change it up. That has benefited me during the pandemic. I won’t lie — the stress level has been high when you have to throw everything and reinvent. But together with my nimble, creative colleague Stephen Marc Beaudoin [TWC’s executive director], we’re not afraid to think outside of the box. We’re not afraid to make choices that look different from a traditional symphonic chorus.

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BLADE: What’s your favorite music? ROGERS: Whatever I’m studying at the moment. I love classical equally to folk, idiomatic music, as well as popular music. It changes with my mood, and the story I’m telling in a concert. I don’t have limits. Right now, my life is mostly classical because I teach grad students who are going to be conductors. Currently I’m in a Mendelssohn and Bach world. Not a bad place to be.

Feb 1-28

by Ryan J. Haddad Directed by Laura Savia and Jess McLeod

BLADE: As TWC’s first African-American artistic director is inclusion on your mind? STREAMING ON DEMAND ADVERTISI ROGERS: Yes, inclusion ranks high with PROOF #1 ISSUE DATE: 171208 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: musical excellence and community. REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of TWC has a long relationship with proof. Proof will be considered final and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts conducting local youths. REVISIONS And I’m only omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users REDESIGN hoping to expand that withTEXT relationships can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or REVISIONS any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair with HBCUs in the area and DCPS. I started IMAGE/LOGO REVISIONS competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the ADVERTISER SIGNATURE off as a high school teacher.NO REVISIONS washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all By signing this proof you are agreeing to yo liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred washington blade newspaper. This includes by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations payment and insertion schedule. We’re also creating the Mahogany Series, and warranties. an annual concert focusing on the artistic contributions of black and Latinx and American Indian communities – symphonic, operatic, musical theater, jazz or blues. I want to add more chairs to the table. To honor what TWC has done in the past and expand on it.


Photo by Lawrence E. Moten III

WASHINGTON BLADE: During a pandemic, what exactly is conducting? DR. EUGENE ROGERS: For me it depends on the scenario. Here at the University of Michigan I’m in person with my classes. It’s the same but with precautions – we wear masks and the singers stand 12 feet apart. The space seats 300 plus with only 30 people or so in the room. With TWC, my work is mostly remote. Still, the connection remains strong. The artistic work and inspirational motivational work as a conductor, the logistical work of increased planning, those elements are all there except in a different format.

Dr. EUGENE ROGERS, artistic director of The Washington Chorus.

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A scene from ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley,’ a film version of Patricia Highsmith’s series of novels about the famous protagonist. Her work is available in print, e-book and audiobook format. (Photo courtesy Paramount/Miramax)

Highsmith at 100: Literary legacy marred by racism

Few writers are as popular or more embedded in pop culture By KATHI WOLFE

You don’t know this about me but I’m a murderer. At least that’s what the brilliant, talented, queer novelist Patricia Highsmith, who was born 100 years ago, may well have called me. Why, would Highsmith renowned for her novel “Strangers on a Train” and other psychological thrillers, have said this of me? Because, I confess, I’ve eaten snails, smothered, so to speak, in garlic and butter. Highsmith, a misanthrope, gave us in her fiction Tom Ripley, the world’s most charming, but murderous sociopath. Yet, she (seriously) believed that you were a murderer if you ate snails. SERVING THE LGBT COMMUNITY FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS. NOW IN DC, MD & VA! Welcome to the world of Patricia Highsmith! Few writers are as popular, well regarded or more embedded in pop culture than 827 Woodside Parkway • Silver Spring, MD 20910 Highsmith, who lived from 1921 to 1995. She wrote many short stories and more than 20 p: 240.863.2441 • f: 240.491.9551 novels. More than 25 movies and numerous TV adaptations have been made of her work. Highsmith’s diaries (comprising some 8,000 pages) will be published this year. A movie, jfairfax@jenniferfairfax.com • www.jenniferfairfax with the same name, of her 1957 psychological erotic thriller “Deep Water,” starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas will be released in August. Her first novel, “Strangers on a Train,” is a gripping psychological thriller. In it, two men, strangers, meet on a train. Guy has a troublesome wife who won’t divorce him, and Bruno, an engaging sociopath is enraged that his wealthy father won’t give him money. Bruno proposes that they go “criss-cross” – that they murder the person who’s so annoying to each other. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 movie of the novel will keep you glued to your seat. Highsmith is perhaps best known for her series of novels about Tom Ripley. (“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” the first of the Ripley novels, was published in 1955. The last Ripley thriller, “Ripley Under Water,” was released in 1991.) Ripley is a sociopath. Lies are to him what potato chips are to junk food addicts: he can never tell just one. Ripley steals other people’s identities, forges paintings and murders anyone who’s an obstacle on his path. Yet, I dare any reader, no matter how saintly, not to love him. He’s handsome, courteous, clever, witty, great at doing impressions of people and has fabulous taste in art, food, and wine. Highsmith’s work will give you an unforgettable mix of pleasure and suspense. As you read, you’ll wonder: Why am I enthralled by characters who deceive and steal identities as naturally as they might have a beer or coffee? Why am I rooting for a murderer? Graham Greene called Highsmith “the poet of apprehension.” Perhaps Highsmith’s most important contribution to LGBTQ history was her groundbreaking 1952 novel “The Price of Salt” (later re-titled “Carol”). As I’ve written before in the Blade, Highsmith originally wrote the novel under the pseudonym Clare Morgan out of fear that using her real name would have derailed her career. “The Price of Salt” was a rare novel for that time: It featured a lesbian couple who didn’t die or go to jail. It gave hope to generations of queers. ADVERTISING PROOF A Fort Worth, Texas native, she moved at age 12 with her mother and stepfather to New ISSUE DATE: 171208 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: York City. Highsmith often said that her mother had told her that she’d tried to abort her by drinking turpentine. REVIEW 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 Highsmith was brilliant, eccentric, but “bigoted, obsessed and intolerant,” Richard the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users Bradford wrote in “The Daily Mail.” can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or SIONS any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any She had numerous relationships with women as well as some male lovers. In one diary copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair GO REVISIONS competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, entry, Highsmith noted that she’d had 10 lovers in one day. She “made the likes of Casanova or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the ADVERTISER SIGNATURE NS washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contract obligations with the liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred washington blade newspaper. Thislook includes but is not limited to wrote placement, Bradford, author of the new biography “Devils, Lusts and Strange demure,” by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations payment and insertion schedule. and warranties. Desires: The Life of Patricia Highsmith.” Highsmith didn’t like Black people or women (except for sex). She was so virulently antiSemitic that she wished more Jewish people had been killed in the Holocaust. Yet, Highsmith had a soft spot. She left her estate to Yaddo, the writer’s retreat where she worked on “Strangers on a Train” in 1948. Knowing about Highsmith’s bigotry is stomach turning. Yet her writing is magnificent, thrilling, pleasurable, and psychologically profound. That’s something to celebrate on her centennial. 3 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 12 , 2 0 2 1


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‘The Lady and the Dale’ explores transphobia in 1970s America Docuseries opens window on uniquely American auto industry scandal By JOHN PAUL KING

One of the advantages of living in a culture that obsessively records itself is that looking back on ourselves often delivers a healthy dose of 20/20 hindsight, not just on whatever piece of history we are trying to study but on all the things that have changed since it happened – and sometimes, on all the things that haven’t. Such an experience is provided by “The Lady and the Dale,” HBO Max’s Duplass Brothersproduced docuseries that opens a window on 1970s America by relating the details of an implausible but true automotive industry scandal that captured headlines before fading into obscure cultural memory. In the process, it turns a quirky true-life tale of corporate chicanery into an eye-opening examination of the way our beliefs about gender shape the public narrative. It also forces us to ponder questions about how much those beliefs have evolved – if, indeed, they have evolved at all – in the years since the story it tells took place. Directed by Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker, the four-episode chronicle spins the kind of yarn that might be considered too implausible to be believed if it hadn’t happened in real life. It’s more than revisiting a news story – it’s the saga of one Elizabeth Carmichael, who splashed into fame at the height of the 1970s oil crisis with her introduction of a fuelefficient, radically redesigned automobile called the Dale. Armed with a prototype and a knack for promotion, she gathered an impressive stable of designers and engineers and started her own company, the Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation, and began touting her innovative, three-wheeled vehicle to an American public in the grip of an OPEC-driven fuel shortage that had driven gas prices to record highs. Taking advance orders to fund production, the upstart entrepreneur soon fell under suspicion for her seemingly outrageous promises of 70-mile-per gallon fuel economy and a quick rollout; when technical setbacks cast even more doubt on her claims, increased scrutiny from media and law enforcement uncovered a hidden past of shady scams, audacious escapes, and concealed identity, culminating in the revelation that she was both a longtime fugitive from justice and a transgender woman. Choosing to defend herself in court against charges of fraud and business code violations, she found herself also waging an uphill battle with misogyny and transphobia, and she ultimately opted instead to pull a decade-and-ahalf-long disappearing act before authorities were finally able to catch up with her. Assembled in the slick, now-familiar “docu-tainment” style that has become the fashion with high-profile shows of its ilk, “The Lady and the Dale” takes a deceptively bemused tone from the start. Though considerable footage exists of Elizabeth Carmichael from her days

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in the spotlight, much of A scene from ‘The Lady and the Dale.’ (Photo courtesy HBO Max) her life can be glimpsed only through a few family photos and home movies, and the show makes up for this dearth of material by mining those images to create clever, quirky animations illustrating her story. These visual aids might seem too lighthearted to accompany a tale of deception, greed, crime, and systemic bigotry, but as more is revealed about the complex and conflicted underlying morality of the story, their whimsy seems more like irony – the kind that might arise from living through decades of oppression from a society oblivious to its own role as oppressor. That is, of course, precisely the viewpoint Cammilleri and Drucker want you to take. As they piece together the details of Carmichael’s notorious misadventures – through interviews, news and courtroom footage, and commentary by experts adding a contemporary perspective – they slyly, almost subversively peel back the convoluted layers of circumstance to reveal the unmistakable face of transphobia cowering at the core of her story. Using the tall-tale appeal of their subject, they draw their audience into an “if I only knew then what I know now” retrospect on an era when most Americans saw no difference between a transgender woman and a drag queen. The archival news coverage they show us is rife with misgendering and dead-naming, interviews with authorities and journalists assert the presumed untrustworthiness of a “man posing as a woman,” and the enthusiasm with which media and authorities cast Carmichael as a villain and raises a now-obvious red flag about the real reasons behind her merciless persecution. By the time the series reaches its halfway mark, it becomes clear that, while she may well have been culpable in the events that led to the charges against her, she was really being punished for the crime of being trans. At the same time, the series provides an unexpectedly positive parallel real-life narrative, in which Carmichael managed to successfully transition while continuing in her role as head of a household, maintaining the love and support of a family who stayed with her even through years of living on the lam. Through interviews with children and other relatives, we learn about a warm and loving person who was fully accepted on her own terms by a wife and kids that stayed loyal despite an unstable and often dire lifestyle. Couple these with the descriptions coming from associates from the Dale days of a charismatic, dynamic leader who inspired their faith and commitment even as the project fell apart, and you have a very different person from the unscrupulous grifter in the portrait painted by the authorities, journalists, and other public voices who led the charge against her. The reason behind this gap in perception between the people who knew Carmichael and those who knew only an image they themselves had helped to create seems obvious. It’s why visibility is such an important facet in the fight for acceptance – the more we become aware that the people we demonize are people we actually know, the more our attitudes change and our empathy grows. But while this might seem like a no-brainer in 2021, it was not quite so clear in 1974. That it is so readily apparent now is testament to the power of hard work and activism. Of course, not everyone in our society will be surprised by the revelations of hindsight bestowed by “The Lady in the Dale.” For trans audiences, the ingrained transphobia it explores is an all-too-familiar part of everyday life, a point underscored in the series by the presence of several trans commentators, who provide a scholarly and informed cultural perspective throughout. And while the distance of time allows the luxury of acknowledging how far we’ve come, it’s worth noting that at least one journalist interviewed for the film doubles down on the same transphobic bile he spewed forth when he covered the Carmichael case nearly five decades ago. That’s what makes “The Lady and the Dale” much more than just the latest must-watch distraction on streaming TV. It’s also an essential piece of trans activism, wrapped in an entertaining package that is now being played on screens all across America for people who would likely have never clicked “play” on such a thing – and that’s a con job that Elizabeth Carmichael herself would be proud of.

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The history of presidential homes From Mount Vernon to Rehoboth Beach By VALERIE M. BLAKE

When I lived in what was West Germany in the late ‘80s, my job allowed me to travel frequently throughout Western Europe. I learned that you can’t go to Salzburg, Austria without running into something Mozart related. The house where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born was built in the 12th century. The family lived in an apartment on the third floor. The building is now a museum and there are more sites honoring his talent throughout the city. It seemed that the public wanted to get in on the action too because I found no less than six other houses in the city that sported a historical marker reading Mozart Geburtshaus (Mozart’s Birthplace) which, like “Bill Clinton slept here,” was a very popular sign. If you lived in the DMV pre-pandemic, chances are you’ve been to or taken friends to Mount Vernon Estate, George Washington’s home in Fairfax County, Va. The Palladian home was built in 1734 and expanded several times. Although I have searched three times, I still can’t find any remnants of that cherry tree he purportedly chopped down. The tradition of letting the public visit the home is more than 200 years old. George, a great host, is said to have announced, “I have no objection to any sober or orderly person’s gratifying their curiosity in viewing the buildings.” Upon their return from London in 1788, John Adams and his wife, Abigail, lived at Peacefield, an historic estate and farm in Braintree, Mass., which was renamed Quincy in 1792. When John became president, Abigail embarked on a 12-year renovation project to expand the home from a small, low-ceiling house to a comfortable, Georgian-style residence. John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree (later Rehoboth Beach is now a presidential retreat as Joe Biden owns a home in the gay-popular resort town. Quincy) on 7/11/1767 and continued to live at his local getaway. That same cottage was also selected by James Buchanan, Rutherford Peacefield, as did two additional generations of the Adams family (not to be confused B. Hayes, and Chester A. Arthur as their summer White House retreat. with the Addams family), until it was gifted to the National Park Service in 1946. Both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan had California properties that were referred Fun fact: 186 years, almost to the day, after the birth of John Quincy Adams, I was to as the Western White House. Nixon’s was a large, beachfront, Spanish-style, Mission also born in Quincy, and my father became the town’s city manager in the mid-1950s. Revival called La Pacifica (House of Peace), located in San Clemente, Calif. Virginia has been a popular place for our presidents to live. Thomas Jefferson had Reagan’s retreat north of Santa Barbara in the mountains was named Rancho de his Monticello in Charlottesville, James Madison’s home, Montpelier, in Orange County Cielo (Heaven’s Ranch). Toward the end of his term as governor of California, he bought was registered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. the ranch for $527,000 (valued at roughly $2.7 million in January 2020). After Ronald James Monroe lived at Highland, a plantation adjacent to Thomas Jefferson’s Reagan’s death, his wife, Nancy, sold the property to the Young Americans Foundation, Monticello until accumulated debts forced him to sell in 1825. Berkley Plantation in a conservative youth organization in Herndon, Va. Charles City County was the ancestral home of two presidents: William Henry Harrison Now, I know you don’t want to hear more about Mar-a-Lago, so since this three-day and his grandson, Benjamin. It is said that American whiskey was distilled there in 1620. weekend encompasses both Presidents’ Day and Valentine’s Day, I suggest we drive up John Tyler’s birthplace was also in Charles City County, Va. He was raised on Greenway to the Bidens’ house in Greenville, Del. If they’re not there, we can head to their vacation Plantation in a manor home his father had built. Rounding out the Virginians, Gerald home in Rehoboth Beach. Ford’s home was an unassuming Colonial in Alexandria, with an enclosed garage that Be sure to wear a mask. Bring flowers and candy for Dr. Jill and treats for Major and served as an office for the Secret Service while he was president. Champ. We can send out for No Contact food via Door Dash or Uber Eats. See you After growing up in the famous log cabin in Illinois, President Abraham Lincoln chose there! a Gothic Revival cottage on the grounds of the Soldier’s home in Washington, D.C., as

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