Washingtonblade.com, Volume 52, Issue 08, February 19, 2021

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‘A victory for all Americans’ Black trans service members welcome chance to again serve openly

(Photo by Richard Corman, used with permission)


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Clinical psychologist, former teacher Roger Bartman dies at 77 Met longtime partner via Blade personals ad in 1987 By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

Erwin “Roger” Bartman, a high school teacher in Baltimore and Silver Spring, Md. before becoming a clinical psychologist in private practice in Reston, Va., for 42 years, died on Jan. 12 at his home outside Leesburg, Va. of complications associated with Leukemia. He was 77. Peter Kelpinski, Bartman’s life partner since 1987 and husband since 2004, said Bartman was extraordinarily dedicated to his patients and improved the lives of countless people who sought his services as a mental health professional. Bartman was born in Lawton, Okla., and grew up in Louisville, Ky., where he graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1961 and entered the Xavarian Brothers Roman Catholic order. Kelpinski said that after completing his novitiate and taking his first vows he began his studies at Catholic University in D.C. He received bachelor’s degrees at Catholic University in 1967 in mathematics and religious education. He received his master’s degree in mathematics education at Johns Hopkins University the following year. According to Kelpinski, under the name of Brother Raphael, Bartman began his career teaching advanced math courses at Xavarian High Schools in Baltimore and Silver Spring, Md. His resume provided by Kelpinski says he held the positions of assistant dean at Xaverian Junior College in Silver Spring from 1965 to 1967 and served as a summer camp counselor in his role as Xaverian brother in Maryland and Kentucky from 1964 through 1966. His resume shows that he returned to Catholic University to enter its doctoral program in psychology and received his Ph.D. there in clinical psychology in 1976. Upon completion of his doctorate degree, he began an internship at the Fairfax County Northwest Center for Community Health in Reston, Va. and soon began work there as a clinical psychologist. He served in that position through 1986. Kelpinski said Bartman and four partners, while still working at the Northwest Center, started their own private practice in 1977 called Reston Psychotherapy. Bartman later withdrew from his position at Northwest Center to devote his full time work to the Reston Psychotherapy practice, where he remained until his retirement in 2019, Kelpinski said. Kelpinski said he and Bartman first met in January 1987 through a classified personals ad that Kelpinski placed in the Washington Blade seeking to meet someone for a relationship. He said Bartman was one of many people who responded to the ad, but it was Bartman who immediately stood out from the others. Kelpinski’s ad in the Blade, among other things, mentioned he had a “Catholic background,” which he later learned caught Bartman’s attention. It turns out that both men were involved with a Catholic religious order in their early adult years, with Kelpinski becoming involved with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception after considering becoming a priest. Similar to Bartman, who chose to leave the Xavarian Order on amicable terms, as Kelpinski recalls Bartman telling him, to enter a secular life as a practicing psychologist, Kelpinski also

ERWIN ‘ROGER’ BARTMAN passed away last month.

chose to leave his religious order for a career as a florist. Upon speaking by phone for the first time in January 1987 after Bartman responded to Kelpinski’s Blade ad, the two men had their first date over brunch at a restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. “And then we walked around Old Town and just gabbed and gabbed,” as Kelpinski tells it. “And we kind of clicked,” Kelpinski said. “We got along immediately. We were from the same background. It was really amazing.” Among the many things they did together that year was to participate in the October 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights, which drew hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people to the nation’s capital. Not long after that, the couple bought a house on a large tract of land just outside Leesburg, Va., where they lived until Bartman’s passing on Jan. 12 of this year. “He was the love of my life,” said Kelpinski. “He’s one of those few people who could say they changed the world because he helped so many people in their own lives so that they actually were able to live better lives,” said Kelpinski in referring to Bartman’s role as a psychotherapist. “And they made the world better.” Memorial services for Bartman were being planned for this summer in Reston and Louisville. Bartman’s ashes were to be interred in Bay City, Mich., where Kelpinski plans to move to return to his hometown. In addition to Kelpinski, Bartman is survived by his siblings Kathy Furlong and James Bartman of Louisville, Ky., and Lally House of Woodbury, Ky.; an aunt and uncle, Dolores and Frank Lally of Louisville; sisters and brothers-in-law Nancy and Jack MacKenzie and Sandi and Hank Bridges of Bay City, Mich.; and many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, cousins, and numerous friends. He was predeceased by his parents Erwin R. and Mary Kathryn Bartman and grandparents Erwin R. and Louise Bartman and Frank and Orvilla Lally. Contributions in Bartman’s name can be made to Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Va.

ANC drops license protest against D.C. gay bar Uproar Settlement agreement reached at liquor board hearing

Uproar’s license renewal appears to be safe after an agreement last week.

By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission that oversees the city’s U Street, N.W. entertainment district on Thursday, Feb. 11, dropped its opposition to the gay bar Uproar’s license renewal and Uproar’s application to expand the occupancy of its roof deck after it reached a settlement agreement with the bar. The agreement was reached during a four-hour virtual hearing by the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which would have decided whether or not to approve the ANC’s request that it deny the renewal of Uproar’s liquor license had the agreement not been reached. The agreement came less than a week after Uproar owner Tammy Truong posted a Facebook message saying the ANC was engaging in “intimidation” tactics since it first challenged her license in November 2019. She said she would be forced to close Uproar if the ABC Board ruled against her. Gay seniors activist Ron Swanda, who said he’s a regular Uproar customer and a friend of Truong, said the ANC initially proposed a settlement that would have prohibited Uproar from featuring live music or to have DJs playing recorded music. Details of the settlement agreement reached at the ABC Board hearing couldn’t immediately be obtained. The Feb. 11 agreement also came after three gay commissioners won election to ANC 1B in the November 2020 election and took office in January, joining incumbent gay commissioner Robb Hudson. Some observers have speculated that the new commissioners may have softened the ANC’s position on the Uproar license challenge. One of the newly elected gay commissioners, Larry Handerhan, acted as the ANC’s representative at the Nov. 11 ABC Board hearing. He told the hearing his ANC would like to reach an agreement with Uproar rather than force it out of business. “I want to start by saying, you know, 1B is incredibly supportive of businesses on the U Street corridor,” Handerhan said. “We’re really happy to have Uproar in our family. And as 0 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 19 , 2 0 2 1 • LO CA L NE WS

a gay man myself I think it’s really important to say there are not enough LGBT or queer spaces in the city,” he told the hearing. “And I’m thankful for Ms. Truong and her operation for providing that.” Before the agreement was reached, Handerhan, under questioning by ABC Board Chairman Donovan Anderson, said the ANC would be willing to drop its protest against Uproar’s license renewal as a first step toward reaching an agreement. He said the intent of that protest was to persuade Uproar to enter into a settlement agreement rather than to force the bar to go out of business. He said the ANC’s second protest against Uproar’s application for an increase in the occupancy limit for its third-floor roof deck space from 99 to 200 remained a sticking point for an agreement. According to Handerhan, the ANC and nearby residents were concerned that 200 people gathering on the outdoor roof deck could create excessive noise and disturb the neighborhood. When Handerhan and Uproar’s attorney, Thomas Martin, indicated they were close to reaching an agreement, Anderson called a 30-minute recess of the hearing to give the two parties a chance to finalize the agreement. When the hearing resumed, Martin described what he called the highlights of the agreement, but his voice was partially distorted in the YouTube live stream broadcast of the hearing and the details could not be heard. The Washington Blade has submitted a request for a copy of the agreement, which Martin said was drafted on someone’s laptop and circulated by email.

Comings & Goings

Thomas lands new role at CMS Energy By PETER ROSENSTEIN


The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: comingsandgoings@washblade.com. The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, landed an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. Congratulations to Trevor Thomas on this new position as Executive Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion of the Metro Detroit, Mich., Consumers Energy, CMS Energy. Prior to being promoted he was director of customer experience and communications. Thomas has a long record of leadership in both paid and volunteer positions. He is currently the Board Chair of Fair and Equal Michigan, a statewide talent attraction and equal rights campaign supported by Apple CEO Tim Cook, Dow CEO Jim Fitterling, and 80 other CEOs discrimination law. That effort has now been supported by 37 national organizations that have called on Michigan lawmakers to pass equal rights for LGBTQ people. They jointly signed the statement: “Michigan stands united bisexual, transgender, and queer people. Given the 38

years of inaction by the legislature, more than 500,000 Michiganders signed a petition to right this wrong and compel passage of equal rights. LGBTQ people have been basic services simply for who they are or who they love. We are witnessing a sea change toward equal rights for all and we call upon lawmakers to be on the right side of history. The state house and senate must pass the citizens’ bill as written for a Fair and Equal Michigan ensuring all have an equal chance to succeed.” Thomas’s previous positions included serving as Public Relations Manager, Global Communications and Marketing, Detroit, for Verizon Communications Inc.; Director, National Political and Programs, Washington, D.C. Giffords PAC; Director, National Communications and Marketing, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network; and Deputy Director, National Communications, Human Rights Campaign. In Michigan where he began his career he served as P Thomas currently is a director, board of directors, at the Urban League of Detroit; and a Council Member, Pope Francis Center of Detroit. He also ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from Grand Rapids, Mich. Thomas earned his bachelor’s in journalism from Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Mich., and his MBA from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management, Evanston, Ill.

Corado backs trans Central American Parliament candidate Hails moment as ‘global step forward’

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Elections for the Central American Parliament, the Legislative Assembly and municipal councils will take place in El Salvador on Feb. 28. Salvadorans on that day are called to make their choices for candidates for 3,200 public population and get elected, the candidates have not allowed the pandemic to stop their work and launch their campaign platforms. Such is the case of Alejandra Menjívar Guadrón, a Central American Parliament candidate who on Monday announced her platform and legislative agenda that is comprised of three “We are days away from experiencing the electoral process. There is a lot of support from the party and the people, there are even polls from a couple of consulting houses that position my candidacy within the top 20 Central American Parliament candidates,” Menjívar

said Menjívar excitedly.

Menjívar made it clear that she will work under the principles of equality, equity and inclusion. She also said she is committed to real and direct action, to bringing real change to the Central American Parliament. Menjívar further emphasized the population is unaware of the regional legislative body’s work and recognized that even her own party has not made it known, so she has promised to change that if she is elected. workers and the LGBTQ community, among other groups. They include human rights in Central America, integration and the rule of law in the Central American Parliament, migration and security, natural resources and the environment and tourism and economic development of the region. attended Menjívar’s platform announcement. Corado was recognized for her work in

By ERNESTO VALLE D.C. on behalf of the LGBTQ community and especially trans women. “For me this is very important, from a global point of view on the issue of transgender rights,” Corado told the Blade. “We need society to recognize us for the contributions and changes we can make.” Corado was in El Salvador on vacation and she did not hesitate to attend the event ALEJANDRA MENJÍVAR GUADRÓN, left, with Casa to support Menjívar once she Ruby CEO RUBY CORADO, in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Feb. 8. (Washington Blade photo by Ernesto Valle) found out about it. “This is a very emotional moment,” said Corado. “I can participate in this historic global moment, despite the fact that Corado also told the Blade that what is happening in El Salvador should matter to everyone, because trans people around the world are still denied all kinds of opportunities and rights. “This is a message that says, ‘We are capable,’” said Corado. “I see this as a precedent worldwide, because there may be girls in Africa, Peru, Mexico and they say: I can too.” “The political party does not matter,” she added. “The fact that there is a political entity that recognizes that the LGBT community is capable and able, that recognizes an identity as is the case of Menjívar is a global step forward for me.” FLMN Legislative Assembly candidates Nery Granados, Susy Bonilla, Osmín Domínguez, Gustavo Acosta and Idalia Zepada also attended the event to support Menjívar. Granados on her social media networks praised Menjívar for her “great proposals for the development of the region and our country.” Zepada, for their part, said the party “defends human rights, inclusion, sexual diversity and participation without discrimination.” LO CA L NE WS • F E B R UA RY 1 9 , 2 0 2 1 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 0 7

Important Facts About DOVATO

This is only a brief summary of important information about DOVATO and does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your condition and treatment. What is the most important information I should know about DOVATO? If you have both human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, DOVATO can cause serious side effects, including: • Resistant HBV infection. Your healthcare provider will test you for HBV infection before you start treatment with DOVATO. If you have HIV-1 and hepatitis B, the hepatitis B virus can change (mutate) during your treatment with DOVATO and become harder to treat (resistant). It is not known if DOVATO is safe and effective in people who have HIV-1 and HBV infection. • Worsening of HBV infection. If you have HIV-1 and HBV infection, your HBV may get worse (flare-up) if you stop taking DOVATO. A “flare-up” is when your HBV infection suddenly returns in a worse way than before. Worsening liver disease can be serious and may lead to death. ° Do not run out of DOVATO. Refill your prescription or talk to your healthcare provider before your DOVATO is all gone. ° Do not stop DOVATO without first talking to your healthcare provider. If you stop taking DOVATO, your healthcare provider will need to check your health often and do blood tests regularly for several months to check your liver. What is DOVATO? DOVATO is a prescription medicine that is used without other HIV-1 medicines to treat human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection in adults: who have not received HIV-1 medicines in the past, or to replace their current HIV-1 medicines when their healthcare provider determines that they meet certain requirements. HIV-1 is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It is not known if DOVATO is safe and effective in children. Who should not take DOVATO? Do not take DOVATO if you: • have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine that contains dolutegravir or lamivudine. • take dofetilide. What should I tell my healthcare provider before using DOVATO? Tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you: • have or have had liver problems, including hepatitis B or C infection. • have kidney problems. • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. One of the medicines in DOVATO (dolutegravir) may harm your unborn baby. ° Your healthcare provider may prescribe a different medicine than DOVATO if you are planning to become pregnant or if pregnancy is confirmed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. ° If you can become pregnant, your healthcare provider will perform a pregnancy test before you start treatment with DOVATO. ° If you can become pregnant, you should consistently use effective birth control (contraception) during treatment with DOVATO. ° Tell your healthcare provider right away if you are planning to become pregnant, you become pregnant, or think you may be pregnant during treatment with DOVATO. • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you take DOVATO. ° You should not breastfeed if you have HIV-1 because of the risk of passing HIV-1 to your baby. ° One of the medicines in DOVATO (lamivudine) passes into your breastmilk. ° Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby.

©2020 ViiV Healthcare or licensor. DLLADVT200008 August 2020 Produced in USA.

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Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Some medicines interact with DOVATO. Keep a list of your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine. • You can ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for a list of medicines that interact with DOVATO. • Do not start taking a new medicine without telling your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can tell you if it is safe to take DOVATO with other medicines. What are possible side effects of DOVATO? DOVATO can cause serious side effects, including: • Those in the “What is the most important information I should know about DOVATO?” section. • Allergic reactions. Call your healthcare provider right away if you develop a rash with DOVATO. Stop taking DOVATO and get medical help right away if you develop a rash with any of the following signs or symptoms: fever; generally ill feeling; tiredness; muscle or joint aches; blisters or sores in mouth; blisters or peeling of the skin; redness or swelling of the eyes; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; problems breathing. • Liver problems. People with a history of hepatitis B or C virus may have an increased risk of developing new or worsening changes in certain liver tests during treatment with DOVATO. Liver problems, including liver failure, have also happened in people without a history of liver disease or other risk factors. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check your liver. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following signs or symptoms of liver problems: your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow (jaundice); dark or “tea-colored” urine; light-colored stools (bowel movements); nausea or vomiting; loss of appetite; and/or pain, aching, or tenderness on the right side of your stomach area. • Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis). Lactic acidosis is a serious medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following symptoms that could be signs of lactic acidosis: feel very weak or tired; unusual (not normal) muscle pain; trouble breathing; stomach pain with nausea and vomiting; feel cold, especially in your arms and legs; feel dizzy or lightheaded; and/or a fast or irregular heartbeat. • Lactic acidosis can also lead to severe liver problems, which can lead to death. Your liver may become large (hepatomegaly) and you may develop fat in your liver (steatosis). Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the signs or symptoms of liver problems which are listed above under “Liver problems.” You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or severe liver problems if you are female or very overweight (obese). • Changes in your immune system (Immune Reconstitution Syndrome) can happen when you start taking HIV-1 medicines. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections that have been hidden in your body for a long time. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you start having new symptoms after you start taking DOVATO. • The most common side effects of DOVATO include: headache; nausea; diarrhea; trouble sleeping; tiredness; and anxiety. These are not all the possible side effects of DOVATO. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

SO MUCH GOES INTO WHO I AM HIV MEDICINE IS ONE PART OF IT. Why could DOVATO be right for you? DOVATO is proven to help control HIV with just 2 medicines in 1 pill. That means fewer medicines* in your body while taking DOVATO. It’s proven as effective as an HIV treatment with 3 or 4 medicines. Learn more about fewer medicines at DOVATO.com DOVATO is a complete prescription regimen to treat HIV-1 in adults who have not received HIV-1 medicines in the past or to replace their current HIV-1 medicines when their doctor determines they meet certain requirements. Results may vary. *As compared with 3- or 4-drug regimens.

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. Where can I find more information? • Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist. • Go to DOVATO.com or call 1-877-844-8872, where you can also get FDA-approved labeling. August 2020 DVT:4PIL Trademark is owned by or licensed to the ViiV Healthcare group of companies.

New to treatment? Considering a switch?

Ask your doctor about DOVATO. F E B R UA RY 1 9 , 2 0 2 1 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 0 9

Will Biden COVID stimulus plan hurt tipped workers? Little-noticed provision would eliminate ‘tipped wage’ system By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

Joshua Chaisson, the gay founder and leader of the Restaurant Workers

A little-noticed provision in President JOE BIDEN’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package would end the tipped wage system in the nation’s restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

that advocates for employees of dining, drinking, and entertainment establishments, is urging LGBTQ rights advocates to join efforts to oppose a little-noticed provision in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package that would end the “tipped wage” system in the nation’s restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The provision to end the tipped wage system is attached to the president’s widely publicized proposal in his stimulus package to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over a phased in period. The U.S. House was expected to

vote on the Biden stimulus proposal next week. Democratic members of Congress, meanwhile, introduced a free-standing bill in January, the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, calling for a $15 per hour minimum wage and the elimination of the tipped wage system. While Chaisson, many LGBTQ tipped workers, and LGBTQ nightlife businesses argue that ending the tipped wage system would have a negative impact on those businesses and LGBTQ tipped workers, eight of the 11 LGBTQ members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of the Raise the Wage Act, which would end the tipped wage system. And Pride at Work, the LGBTQ division at the AFO-CIO, the nation’s largest organized labor group, “adamantly opposes” the tipped wage system and strongly supports the Raise the Wage Act, according to its executive director Jerame Davis. The tipped wage system, also known as the tip credit, is currently in effect in 43 states and D.C. It allows restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other businesses employing tipped workers to pay those workers a lower hourly wage if the tipped workers earn the equivalent of or a greater amount than the full minimum wage in their respective states and D.C. in tips combined with the lower wage. If the workers’ earnings fall short of the full minimum wage, the employer is required by state and federal law to make up the difference. The National Restaurant Association has said restaurants and bars historically have operated in a highly competitive market with a small

Sean Kennedy, the association’s executive vice president for public affairs, told the Washington Blade that studies have shown the average tipped worker makes between $19 and $25 an hour. But Kennedy said the COVID pandemic has created a severe hardship for everyone in the restaurant and bar business during the past year. He said the elimination of the tipped wage system at this time would be “devastating” for restaurants and the average bar and grill. “Over 110,000 restaurants nationwide have shut down since the pandemic started,” he said. “When you combine the restaurants that remain open and the ones that have closed – they have laid off two and a half million workers,” Kennedy said in connection with the pandemic. He said ending the tipped wage system would result in more layoffs by restaurants struggling to survive. Chaisson said ending the tipped wage system would impact the LGBTQ community because, based on his observations, LGBTQ people work in the hospitality industry, including restaurants and bars, in far greater numbers than their percentage in the general population. “There is a huge swath of the LGBTQ community that is represented in the hospitality industry,” he said. In addition to the industry in general, Chaisson said “overtly LGBTQ spaces” like gay bars and nightclubs also employ large numbers of LGBTQ people and provide historically supportive places for LGBTQ people to meet and socialize as patrons. Gay nightlife advocate Mark Lee, the director of the nightlife hospitality trade association D.C. Nightlife Council before being furloughed due to the pandemic, said virtually all of D.C.’s gay bars and LGBTQ-friendly nightlife venues operate under the tipped wage system. tip-wage system and employer tip credit, which workers strongly support,” Lee said in a statement to the Blade. He said that in the “highly unlikely incidence” that their earnings do not exceed the D.C. minimum wage of $15 per hour, the local tipped workers are “guaranteed” the full minimum wage by the employer. Chaisson and Lee also point out that LGBTQ tipped workers played an active role in 1 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 19 , 2 0 2 1 • NAT I O NA L NE WS

D.C. and Maine in opposing ballot measures calling for ending the tipped wage system. In D.C., a ballot measure was approved by voters in June 2018 by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin calling for ending the tipped wage system in the District. But to the dismay of labor activists, the D.C. Council four months later voted to overturn the initiative under its authority to do so. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who supported the Council’s decision to overturn the initiative, said they were persuaded to oppose the initiative by what they called a groundswell of opposition by tipped workers who called on them to overturn the measure. Chaisson, who is from Maine, played a lead role in persuading the Maine Legislature to overturn a similar ballot measure passed by voters to eliminate the tipped wage system. News media reports from Maine said tipped workers told lawmakers that their earnings dropped dramatically during the period when the ban on the tipped wage took effect prior to its repeal by the legislature. Davis, a longtime LGBTQ rights advocate who heads the AFL-CIO’s Pride at Work, has joined other organized labor activists in disputing claims that eliminating the tipped wage system will hurt tipped workers, including LGBTQ tipped workers. “Workers dependent on tips face all sorts of terrible choices when their wage depends so much on the kindness of each customer,” he told the Blade in statement. “Sexual harassment, discrimination, racism, sexism and more can feel like it’s just part of the job when your wage is determined by how much the customer likes you,” he said. Davis and other labor activists who oppose the tipped wage system also argue that the requirement that the employer must pay the full minimum wage if the tips fall short of that is not well enforced or followed. According to Davis, some employers have contested claims by servers that they did not make the equivalent of the minimum wage, placing servers in the uncomfortable position of challenging their employers or accepting the lower wage. Davis said he also disputes claims that restaurants and bars have been “decimated” in the seven states that have eliminated the tipped minimum wage. “I haven’t heard of any state where bars and restaurants have collapsed due to paying their workers fairly,” he said. “Where is the evidence of this assertion?” U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), one of the record number of nine openly gay or lesbian House members elected or re-elected last November, told the Blade in a statement that restaurant sales were “booming” in California prior to the pandemic. California is among the states that eliminated the tipped wage system more than 10 years ago. Takano said he would not support a proposal by the Restaurant Workers of America to remove the provision to eliminate the tipped wage system from the Raise the Wage Act. In addition to Takano, the other gay or lesbian House members who are co-sponsors of the Raise the Wage Act are Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), and Richie Torres (D-N.Y.). Lesbian Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and gay Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) have not signed on as co-sponsors for the Raise the Wage Act. Lesbian U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is a co-sponsor of the Raise the Wage Act sponsor of the bill. A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a written question from the Washington Blade asking whether President Biden was aware of concerns raised about eliminating the tipped wage system by tipped workers. Davis that many restaurant or bar operators fail to make up the difference if a tipped worker doesn’t make the full minimum wage through tips or that tipped workers are subjected to sexual harassment. He said with tipped workers guaranteed by law to receive at least the full minimum wage, he believes the continued efforts by labor leaders to eliminate the tipped wage system is based, at least in part, on a motive to unionize the restaurant industry, including the thousands of small, community-based and often family-owned restaurants and bars. “As a proud Democrat all my voting life, I certainly understand and respect the need for organized labor in certain situations,” Chaisson said. “That said, the No. 1 no-no for any union is pay for performance. And pay for performance is our entire job description as tipped workers,” he said. As a tipped worker himself, Chaisson said those who work in the bar and restaurant business as tipped workers often compare themselves to those who work in sales and who are paid by commission based on how much they sell a product or service. “Being a tipped worker allows us to be the commissioned-based salespeople that we consider ourselves to be,” he said. “And while their base wage may be the same, the tips in the tipped worker’s pocket greatly depends on their performance and their ability to assure their guests the best possible service.”


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By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com With a U.S. House vote on the Equality Act set for next week, talks between LGBTQ rights advocates and Capitol Hill have begun on getting the legislation across the

certain. The Senate hearing would be another opportunity

newly declared opposition to the bill. LGBTQ rights supporters, who agreed to speak on


vote would take place on the Equality Act. A vote on the Equality Act is expected to take place next week. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

the Equality Act. “


a proposal. liberty provisions in the legislation. “ P


changes are expected in advance of the House vote next week, but the Senate is an open address the issue of transgender kids in sports, although another said the expectation is no

Washington Blade.

legislation will pass. P

“ “And if you apply an asterisk

Still, getting to 10 Republicans is a challenge. The two Republicans who appear to be


P position on a particular legislative action, in anticipation of the House vote detailing P 1 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 19 , 2 0 2 1 • NAT I O NA L NE WS


t Tell

“ this priority swiftly to advance the cause of equality and ensure our laws recognize the equal in the White House. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the Washington Blade P “ within 100 days.


on “



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Romney to oppose Equality Act Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) signaled late Tuesday he would oppose the Equality Act, legislation to expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination under federal

Washington Blade in response to an inquiry on the Equality Act. would be open to negotiations on religious liberty language that could lead him to support the legislation.

Sen. MITT ROMNEY will oppose the Equality Act. (Photo public domain)

LGBTQ rights supporters were counting on Romney to contribute Republican support athletes to compete based in those leagues on their gender identity. P

P P promise, but noted Congress has to take some additional steps. P the condemnation of LGBTQ rights supporters, Paul said transgender participation in

comment on the Equality Act and whether the senators would reconsider their positions stands in contrast

would “associate” himself with Paul.

“if possible broaden [it] to include housing and

entirely different category.” discrimination against transgender kids is prohibited in education and federal programs




P the commonwealth.” P P


announced he is running to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). The election for both seats is in 2022. MICHAEL K. LAVERS Pennsylvania state Rep. BRIAN SIMS (D-Philadelphia) (Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)



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is an activist who writes about LGBTQ issues.

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

Impeachment trial worth holding for history Sycophants in Senate enabled Trump’s betrayals

The impeachment trial was more emotional than expected. The videos used to make the case against former President Donald Trump were vivid, frightening, and more impactful than watching it live on Jan. 6. Watching live had me furious at the perpetrators and Trump for inciting insurrection. We knew he did nothing to stop it. Seeing the new videos during the trial and realizing Trump knew the Secret Service was evacuating Vice President Mike Pence and his family and continued to incite the crowd against him was chilling. P people who lost their lives defending our Constitution, our democracy, and the lives of members of Congress, their staffs and so many other workers. I was furious all over again with Trump and his sycophants for putting our country through this. Our country will survive. We survived the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the attacks of 9/11. We are resilient but those 44 Republican senators who voted to acquit Trump by the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Josh Hawley, represent the dregs of humanity. I predict their blatant pandering to Trump and the worst in our society will one day come back to haunt each of them. Listening to Mitch McConnell condemn Trump and then use a BS excuse for acquitting simply brought to the fore the civil war raging in the Republican Party. The Jan. 6 insurrection Trump fomented will become the totality of his legacy in history books. It will also be what those who refused to speak out in defense of our Constitution will be remembered for. Watching the impeachment trial makes it clear we live in perilous times. It is also clear having the trial, even with an acquittal, was important. The world must see how despicable Donald Trump really is and that there are some in Congress and those like the Capitol Hill police and DCMPD willing to give their lives to defend our Constitution

free speech

Governments must leave the canceling for the people to settle new. Who can forget what happened to the Dixie Chicks after their anti-Bush comments? The Christian Right has long boycotted anyone who associated with the LGBTQ community, such as a 2005 campaign against Ford Motors that forced the automaker to cancel its ads in gay magazines. In 2003, CBS canceled a series on former President Ronald Reagan after conservatives not alone. What we now call cancel culture is the contentious nature of a free society wrestling can create a countervailing force and rally behind those being unfairly silenced. This is the state gets involved in cancel culture? Free society-canceling gets most of the attention, but the state-sanctioned kind is far scarier, and it’s what pro-Palestinian solidarity activists are up against. No cancel culture P critical of Israel and sympathetic toward the Palestinians, no matter how apolitical the sympathy, is often falsely maligned as anti-Jewish hate speech from an Oakland museum’s exhibition to a restaurant serving Palestinian food and a play at the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center. Pro-Israel partisans are within their rights to be irritated by the mere visibility of Palestinians, but what’s unacceptable is their attempt to enlist the state in their canceling. That’s what P respect the Palestinian refugees’ right-of-return.


with Israeli apartheid by ceasing operations on occupied land. While the Republican-led

Leader Schumer for not calling witnesses, McConnell’s statement after the trial showed House managers fully made their case. He and most other Republicans would never vote to convict. Even without a conviction the trial is a warning to anyone occupying

even withholding an opinion on BDS comes with consequences. Texas’s anti-BDS law, for instance, requires individuals to explicitly disavow BDS before assuming the position of a

because some are too cowardly to act. Donald J. Trump has always been a corrupt individual and cheater. He is a liar, a homophobe, a sexist, and a racist having been cited for discrimination in the buildings he and his father owned in New York. Few ever fought trump successfully. One who did is a friend. Marvin Roffman, a successful and respected securities analyst, had his reputation brutally undermined by Trump when, according to Michael Kruse in a Politico Magazine feature, “He told a

issue and proceed to impose a litmus test prior to disbursing public aid whose allocation should be non-discriminatory. Imagine if these anti-BDS laws were applied to any other issue. Tomorrow, for instance, Texas might require denunciation of Black Lives Matter before doling out public scholarships.

fail.” The feature explains how he fought back and won. During the impeachment trial, Trump’s lawyers said Democrats were afraid of Trump running and winning again. They suggested the whole purpose of the trial was to have Trump convicted for inciting a violent insurrection, which would then be used to stop


is not the fear of Trump running again but rather his losing again and doing the same thing.” Manager Raskin in his closing remarks asked senators, “Would any of you bet Donald Trump were ever to get back into the White House he would not do the same things again?” Clearly 44 of them were willing to bet. Trump never changed his stripes; he has always been a thug running his life like a holds them to account. 1 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 19 , 2 0 2 1 • V I E WP O I NT

The basic issue at hand isn’t whether BDS, or any other cause, is right or wrong, but whether the government should have the right to enforce political beliefs on its citizens. It does not P after the civil rights organization promoted a boycott of white-owned businesses in support combine with other persons in pursuit of a common goal by lawful means” and that states designed to force governmental and economic change.” The clear language of the court strikes at the heart of the anti-BDS laws, which are facing ongoing court challenges. P agree that governments need to stay out of it and leave the canceling for the people to settle. It’s time to strike down the anti-BDS laws.

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(he/him/his) is a transgender man and young professional in the D.C. area. He was featured on National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ in 2017 as a student at Yale University. Isaac is also on the board of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia. Find him on Instagram @isaacamend.


is president and CEO of Black, Gifted & Whole.

Debunking misconceptions about #transgender

patients with HIV

Everyone has a story, and each should be celebrated

Biden should reverse change to Medicare Part D

In 2020, I was featured on National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution” documentary, hosted by Katie Couric. The documentary surveys the state of transgender and nonbinary lives in 2020, spanning the United States, Samoa, and other locations. In our segment, Couric came to Yale and interviewed our cast members about gender pronouns and our own stories of transitioning. I am a transgender man who came to Yale as a Division One runner on the women’s cross country team, only to change my name from “Isabel” After being in the documentary, and being out as trans and a young professional for four years Whether this is for trans kids, newcomers to gender transitions, or just the general public, these corrected misconceptions will help you understand our community a bit better. Most trans people knew they wanted to change genders from day one: False. Many trans people I know have transitioned after the age of 18. Then, many others have transitioned in childhood. The media like to propagate this notion that all trans people felt trapped in their own bodies at age 3, and were intensely struggling with gender since their toddler days. While this is the case for countless trans children, a lot of other trans adults have Either way, I know trans people who started dressing differently when they were 7, and trans Most trans people hate being in their former gender: False. While living in the wrong body can be incredibly traumatizing, this does not mean that trans people hate everything about their former lives. I know plenty of nonbinary people who treasured being women and men, and plenty of transwomen and transmen who are nostalgic I actually still miss certain things about being Isabel — the female friendships I had, being a sister, even the wider array of clothes and styles that seemed available to wear. Although I prefer Trans people are always attracted to the opposite sex: False. When I transitioned to being a guy, lots of friends and family automatically assumed I wanted a girlfriend. But the more I’ve grown, the more comfortable I am being attracted to both sexes. And that is the case for so many other trans people: trans women can date women, trans men can date men, nonbinary people can date nonbinary people, and basically anyone of any gender can date and love anyone else of any gender as well. At its core, seems pretty simple, Trans people have a difficult time finding love: False. Before I came out as transgender, a few people told me they were worried about my love While dating as trans does come with some unusual stresses and triggers, you’ll be surprised Trans people are not happy: False. A friend and I remarked at how most trans representation in the media revolves around our alarmingly high rates of suicide, depression, anxiety, bullying, homelessness, unemployment, There are not enough media articles that depict how trans people can lead happy, normal lives. At the end of the day, trans people just want to be able to go about their daily lives without I agree! If we all could collectively relax about pronouns, name changes, and hormones, we can make the lives of trans children exponentially better. With a wave of new anti-trans legislation coming in state legislatures, it’s even more imperative to treat newcomers to the Seems easy, right?

The day before Donald Trump left the White House, his administration patients. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a policy that, if implemented, will put numerous lifesaving drugs off-limits to Medicare recipients. Medicare provides health insurance to 63 million seniors and people with disabilities. Trump’s gut punch affects Part D, the section of Medicare that covers most prescription drugs. The last-minute policy change would allow the private insurance companies that sponsor Part D plans to stop covering many medications in Part D’s “six protected classes” as early as 2022. The protected classes include anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antineoplastics, antipsychotics, antiretrovirals, and immunosuppressants — drugs that treat conditions including epilepsy, depression, cancer, and HIV. The protected categories exist because these types of drugs are not easily interchangeable. An antipsychotic that treats one person’s schizophrenia, for instance, may be ineffective in another patient. Patients for them. Today under Part D, insurers must cover “all or substantially all” of the drugs that fall into those six classes. But under the proposed new policy, insurers would only have to cover one drug per class, starting next year. The policy makes one exception, for antiretrovirals to treat HIV, which would remain protected until 2023. I live with HIV and depression, conditions I manage with drugs in the protected classes. So I know from personal experience that there is no

together effectively. More than 47 million Americans depend on Part D plans, and many of them need medicines from the protected classes. If the new policy goes themselves suddenly cut off from trusted treatments. It’s a cruel thing to do to sick people. Thankfully, I’m able to manage my HIV with medication. But the consequences of stopping treatment could be deadly for me, as it could for any of the estimated 1.2 million Americans living with the virus. This is a population, moreover, that is disproportionately Black. Whereas Blacks make up 13.4 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 42 percent of new HIV cases. President Biden has promised to make healthcare “a right for all, not a privilege for just a few,” vowing to prioritize health care for people of color. He can do that by scrapping this callous policy. The former administration’s reforms admittedly weren’t all bad. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed closing a legal loophole that allows middlemen in the drug supply chain to pocket rebates offered by biotech companies without passing those savings on to patients at the pharmacy. Allowing this “rebate rule” to take effect would make drugs more affordable. But aside from scattered exceptions like the rebate rule, the Trump administration’s policies need to be reversed. The Biden administration can start with the disastrous, last-minute proposal to sabotage the six protected classes.

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Closing ‘a dark chapter’ in American history

Black trans service members welcome chance to again serve openly By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

Transgender U.S. Navy Corpsman Akira Wyatt rises at 6 a.m. at Camp Pendleton each day to see sailors and Marines for sick calls, and today she does so a little easier. President Biden on Jan. 25 signed an executive order rescinding the Trump administration’s ban on trans individuals being able to enlist or openly serve in the military. The ban was in response to former President Trump’s July 26, 2017 tweets prohibiting “transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” But Wyatt and others who had transitioned prior to the ban going into effect in April 2019 continued to serve in silence while others like them were prevented from enlisting or receiving transitional care. And some, like Wyatt, also served in critical medical roles during the global coronavirus crisis. When she heard the ban had been lifted, the 29-year-old Black Filipina woman said she felt “like when Mario hits the mushroom and goes up a level.” “President Biden’s restoration of open service recognizes transgender service members as an integral part of our military and closes a dark chapter of history,” said Emma Shinn, a Marine Corps captain and president of SPART*A, an organization supporting trans service members, in a joint statement with the Modern Military Association of America. “I am elated that the approximately 15,000 transgender service members proudly serving across the globe can rest easier knowing that their service to

Wyatt’s unit responded on Feb. 11 by holding an open forum on race where she and her co-workers shared with peers what life was like for them. Wyatt said many women service members and service members of color were happy to have a new defense secretary and vice president who represents them, but she said others seemed to need “deserved to be there” in high positions. Wyatt said it seemed as if their leadership positions were unearned. Still, she was glad for the opportunity and the discussion brought on by more inclusive senior leadership. “I see this now as progress. We’re growing as a country,” said Cropper, who self“Now we have a leader who is choosing to see the needs of the people and he is addressing them. And I think that

Army Staff Sgt. ALLYN CROPPER.

U.S. Navy Corpsman AKIRA WYATT

our nation is seen, valued and that they can continue to serve as their authentic selves.” Wyatt told the Washington Blade she was also happy to see the U.S. elect a Black woman of South Asian descent born to immigrants like herself. On that day, even before the ban had been lifted, she sat back with her cup of coffee and “felt like a boss.” “I had my Keurig and I sipped it,” Wyatt said laughing while recalling the moment she learned Kamala Harris had become the next vice president. “I shall embody her, I shall be her, and this morning shall be boss!” Wyatt and Army Staff Sgts. Allyn Cropper and Keishaun Lowery are all active duty service members who also identify as trans people of color. They each recalled feeling anxiety not only during the four years of the ban but also during last summer’s racial unrest and the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 in which former service members and white supremacists were reported to have taken part.

“There’s always going to be something, I mean I’m Black and I’m in the military,” Cropper said. “But this is now one less thing off my shoulders that I have to worry about.” Instead, he can try to relax and just focus on caring for his partner, his l6-year-old cousin, his two miniature schnauzers, Seoul and Carlito, and his Staffordshire terrier Siri. “Reversing this ban is a victory for all Americans,” said SPART*A Vice President Bree Fram, who is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, in the Jan. 25 joint statement. “President Biden has given the gift of opportunity to thousands of individuals who will use it to serve the country they love.”

(Photo courtesy of Allyn Cropper)

Cropper met Biden at the Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019, in Miami where the future president shook his hand and said, “I see you.” He also met nowTransportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who commended him on his military service as a veteran himself. While driving to a routine doctor’s appointment on Feb. 11 and doing “just regular everyday life stuff,” Cropper told the Blade of the hope he feels now that Trump’s trans service member ban is now behind him.

(Photo courtesy of Wyatt)

banned openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. Despite these restrictions, he still earned several military awards and honors, including

made them feel hopeful again for the future. Austin on Feb. 5 signed the Department of Defense Instruction 1325.06, “Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces,” directing

“A lot of times the physical aspect of military service is brought up with trans service members,” Cropper said while pointing out he and others like him not only met the physical standards but exceeded them. “To be a Master Fitness Trainer you have to score in the 90th percentile in every event.”

day “stand down,” according to a Pentagon press release.

that being able to serve openly also affects leadership skills.


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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 22 “When leaders can be more authentic, they can be more honest,” he said. “In the world in general, we have a shortage of honest leaders. Anything we can do to have people be more honest and authentic in general is the right thing to do.” Lowery currently lives with his wife, daughter and two great Danes, but he grew up “pretty poor” and joined the Army in search of a better life. While Cropper came from a family of professionals, including a mother who is a doctor of internal medicine, and wanted to prove that he could make it on his own, Lowery always happy to help you.” Lowery also recalled being a “tomboy raised in a Pentecostal world” who wore basketball shorts for the “sheer comfort.” He didn’t know what being trans was in those days, but he knew being himself meant being masculine. “It was a way of life,” he said, one that he couldn’t live openly under the ban. “Medical professionals didn’t have the resources to assist you.” He also described troubles not with peers or subordinates, but with senior leaders who didn’t know how to handle his decision to transition. While updating his military paperwork and taking Zoom college classes from home, Lowery told the Blade about a major under whom he served during the ban who told the team he led that they didn’t have to use his correct pronouns, that “the regulations don’t force us to.” “You can call him whatever you want legally,” Lowery said, recalling the major’s words. “You’re not going to get into trouble.” Currently, Lowery is taking classes so he can one day go to law school and help others

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who are actually impacted by them.” Both Cropper and Lowery also spoke of their identities as Black men serving during “I had emotions that overtook me when it came down to those protests,” Cropper said. “I felt every single part of my identity was under attack last year. I couldn’t be Black enough, I couldn’t be trans enough and I couldn’t be valued as a soldier, which I gave up over a decade of my life becoming.” But he looked to the differences between Biden and Trump and saw a chance for growth and opportunity. saying to more people, you are valued and you, too, can serve your country.” Still, Lowery was a little more pragmatic. He questioned how even senior leaders with good intentions, but working all the way in D.C., could really impact the lives of individual soldiers of color in isolated, rural areas like Kansas. He pointed out that isolated Black, Latino, LGBTQ or other soldiers from diverse backgrounds who were longing for community, family and acceptance. “Adding a Smoothie King on base won’t change things at an installation that is not diverse, but I still want it,” he laughed. “But it won’t change things.” So for now, Lowery continues his pre-law studies, Cropper continues to work hard to advance his military career, and Wyatt continues to spend precious time with her new husband when not rising early for sick call duties. “Me and my [trans] sisters have this saying,” Wyatt said. “That your courage is your crown, so wear it to the T.”








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Making Reconstructing Judaism work for all

Movement’s new director of diversity on overcoming racism, homophobia By KATHI WOLFE

Her mother told Lawson that the earliest person in her family to come to America was from Ethiopia and a Jew. “I feel like I didn’t so much convert as get in touch with

When you’re a kid, you often have no idea what shape your life will take. Growing up in Missouri in a military, Christian, but not religious, family, Rabbi Sandra Lawson wouldn’t have thought that she would become a rabbi. Yet in March, Lawson, who is Black, queer, an activist, social media pioneer, vegan, a veteran, and a musician, will become Reconstructing Judaism’s inaugural director of racial diversity, equity and inclusion. (Reconstructing Judaism is the central organization of the Reconstructionist movement of Judaism.)

Her graduate study gave Lawson a background in sociology and research. “I had a better understanding of Lawson became involved in interfaith community organizing. She wanted to be a bridge between her identities and communities – Black, queer and Jewish. Lawson felt she could do this more effectively if she had racial and ethnic diversity in the Jewish community. Lawson is a 2018 Reconstructionist Rabbinical College graduate and was ordained as a rabbi in the same year. Since 2018, she has served as Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life at Elon University. She lives with her wife Susan Hurrey and their dogs Simon, Bridget, and Izzy in Burlington, N.C. The Jewish community hasn’t come to grips with its white privilege, Lawson said. “My hope is that the Jewish

Deborah Waxman, president of Reconstructing Judaism, said in a statement, “Sandra has the substance, the experience, the passion and the compassion to help lead Lawson, 51, has done more in her life than a hundred have done in theirs. In a lengthy telephone interview, she talked to the Blade about her life. Her family had some rough patches. Her parents’ marriage was in trouble. Though they weren’t religious, her mother took her to church a few times. “The services she said. Her parents divorced. “For a few years, my brother and Lawson went to college but she found that she wasn’t Lawson didn’t know it then but this was the best thing she could have done. “In the military, I learned to plan She enlisted in the U.S. Army before “Don’t Ask, Don’t “We asked questions. It was ridiculous, she had no Lawson said that she couldn’t let people know an important part of herself. “I couldn’t trust people except Lawson was out to her father who was supportive. Don’t worry about being the only gay person, he told her. “He believed women should do what they want to have While in the military, Lawson was a Military Police

worked to deescalate situations. “I was on bases like Fort was upset because there was a dildo in his wife’s drawer. therapist who saw them by herself. Then I was called in

Rabbi SANDRA LAWSON (left) is Reconstructing Judaism’s inaugural director of racial diversity, equity and inclusion. She’s pictured here with her wife SUSAN HURREY. (Photo courtesy Lawson)

Lawson was called in on another case because a wife to explain to them: ‘I understand you’re mad. But you In the Army, Lawson learned that it’s good to be interested in becoming a personal trainer. “I was good at Lawson pursued her education along with her military service and personal training business. She earned a bachelor’s in Sociology from Saint Leo University and a master’s in Sociology from Clark Atlanta University. In her personal training business, Lawson had Jewish clients and a Jewish girlfriend. Her girlfriend’s family was Rabbi Joshua Lesser. Today, Lawson and Lesser are close friends. After she asked him about Judaism, Lesser invited her to visit his synagogue, Congregation Bet Haverim (CBH). Lawson worried that CBH might treat her differently because she’s Black. But this was far from the case as the Congregation was welcoming. “There was this prayer called a Prayer for the End of Lawson writes on her website (www.rabbisandralawson. com), “and the entire community was saying this prayer, She converted to Judaism in 2004. Yet, Lawson doesn’t like the term converted. She sees the term “as a way to separate out people who are different in the Jewish

2 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 19 , 2 0 2 1

can’t work against racism in your community if you don’t Jews of color comprise at least 12 to 15 percent of American Jewry, according to a study released in 2019 by the Jews of Color Initiative. Yet, Lawson and other Jews of color experience racial bias in the Jewish community. Lawson spoke of one example of the racism that rabbinical school, she interviewed with a congregation’s P said, “yet the committee’s president called me. He said four people who held the purse strings wouldn’t come to progressive congregations don’t think much, if anything, about it now – if they have a lesbian, gay or bisexual rabbi, Lawson said. But in the 1990s, queer rabbis who applied for jobs encountered homophobia. Training was put in place and queer people were put in leadership positions to combat the homophobia, Lawson said. Black and brown rabbis need to be put in leadership positions, Lawson said, so that Jews of color who are rabbis don’t seem to be a novelty. Just because you’ve read an anti-racist book or taken a class doesn’t mean that your struggle against racism “She’s a white woman – a rabbi in Ferguson, Missouri – an ally. She said people asked her, ‘how can we be anti-

P Judaism is a religion of doing, Lawson said, “believing

F E B R UA RY 1 9 , 2 0 2 1 • WA S H I N GTO N B L A D E.CO M • 2 7

Candice Iloh will discuss her YA novel ‘Every Body Looking’ on Feb. 18.


Today It’s Tabletop Weekend at Red Bear Brewery starting today at 1 p.m. and running until Sunday at 10 p.m. Pods of friends are invited to bring their favorite board games to the taproom and spend two hours enjoying Red Bear food and beverages. Visit redbear. beer and Facebook for more information. The DC-area Transmasculine Society hosts a virtual Transmasculine and Nonbinary Art Night tonight at 7 p.m. via Zoom. This crafting circle is primarily for those who were assigned female at birth but identify as masculine. However, friends, spouses and allies of any gender are welcome to participate. Visit dcats.org or this event’s Facebook page for free tickets and information.

Saturday, February 20 “Art & Me: Lunar New Year” is a free online celebration of the Chinese New Year in a virtual workshop hosted by the Smithsonian American Art and Asian Art museums today at 10 a.m. This family-friendly event is a hands-on workshop for children ages 3-8 and their families. Visit si.edu for more information.

Sunday, February 21 The African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change hosts a virtual panel discussion on starting a business today at 2 p.m. via Zoom. This free Black History Month discussion is also a business fair and networking event highlighting Black LGBTQ entrepreneurs and focusing on women of color. For tickets and information, visit eventbrite.com/e/black-business-virtual-event-tickets-138539981815.

Monday, February 22 A virtual Transmasculine and Nonbinary Chat, Chill and Game hosted by the D.C.area Transmasculine Society is tonight at 5 p.m. Allies of any gender are also welcome to hang out, chat and game solo or with others. For more information on how to join this Discord event, visit dcats.org/discord and the Facebook event page.

Wednesday, February 24

P&P Live! hosts Candice Iloh, Amyra León Politics and Prose hosts a virtual discussion with Black authors, musicians and activists Candice Iloh and Amyra León on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets are free to this event but participants are encouraged to purchase copies of Iloh’s semi-autobiographical YA novel “Every Body Looking” and León’s lyrical exploration of her past, “Concrete Kids.” León, who was featured in the PBS American Masters series, wrote of the love, bloodshed and poetry she found surviving New York’s foster care system while navigating complex issues of race, gender and sexual trauma. “I am a Harlem native. A poet, musician and educator,” she said during her American Master’s introduction. “And a Black woman who loves being Black.” Iloh, a queer Nigerian-American whose previous work has been published by Lambda Literary, wrote a coming-of-age story about an Historically Black College student who explores her sexuality, past trauma, and immigrant identities. “I think a lot of us have this character inside of us,” Iloh said in a Vimeo introduction to her book posted in September 2020. “Someone who just needs the opportunity to get out of the house, get away from family, get away from all the things we’ve ever known so Iloh and León will speak with Deborah D. Taylor, a retired Baltimore librarian and adjunct professor of YA literature at the University of Maryland, to discuss activism, lived experiences and the arts. For free tickets and information, visit politics-prose.com.

KhushDC, Caribbean Equality Project Black History series continues KhushDC and the Caribbean Equality Project have partnered for a live four-part social media series inviting the Black and Brown LGBTQ communities to share their journeys and experiences. The virtual event continues Feb. 25 and 28 via CEP’s Facebook Live page. KhushDC is a South Asian LGBTQ community group serving the D.C. area and the P of Caribbean origin. This virtual Black History Month series launched on KhushDC’s Instagram account on Feb. 11 and 18 with events celebrating Black history from a different perspective and exploring Black power as an inspiration for global activism. The series moves to Facebook on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. with “Black Queer & Trans Activism: How Did We Get Here?” and on Feb. 28 with “Drag Dinner & Black Activism: Where Do We Go From Here?” More information is available at thedccenter.org, khushdc.org or via email at board@ khushdc.org.

A virtual social hour for those identifying as transmasculine and nonbinary is tonight at 8 p.m. This free event is facilitated by the D.C.-area Transmasculine Society and is for those who were assigned female at birth but identify as masculine to make new friends and social connections even during the pandemic. Participants do not have to live in the D.C. area to attend. Visit dcats.org for more information.

exploring praise given to straight actors in queer roles, beginning Friday, Feb. 26 at noon.

Thursday, February 25

It also grants access to a pre-recorded Zoom Q&A with Director Ryan Spahn and the cast.

The Queer Book Club meets tonight at 7 p.m. via Skype. The group meets monthly on the last Thursday to discuss queer books by queer authors. For more information, email supportdesk@thedccenter.org. 2 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 19 , 2 0 2 1

REEL Affirmations screens ‘Nora Highland’ Feb. 26

is adapted from the similarly named play and seeks to educate as well as entertain. Tickets and information are available at thedccenter.org.

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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 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 can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or 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 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 washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations and warranties.

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‘All the Devils Are Here’ Shakespeare Theatre Company (Now Streaming) $25 | Shakespearehteatre.org

PATRICK PAGE in ‘All the Devils Are Here.’

(Photo courtesy Shakespeare Theatre Company)

The Bard’s best villains take center stage Shakespeare Theatre Company presents By PATRICK FOLLIARD With live performances not happening, some stage directors are rethinking their approach to theater. “Suddenly we’re becoming skilled with cameras,” says Alan Paul, associate artistic director at the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC). “It’s less a choice and more something we have to do.” P written and performed by Broadway actor Patrick Page (now streaming at STC). In an enormously entertaining and informative 80 minutes, Page assays a chronological catalogue of Shakespeare’s best villains, demonstrating the Bard’s development as a playwright as his bad guys evolve from and then moves from early villains to twisted Richard III and on to evil, sociopathic Iago. Page even not ordinarily ascribed the bad guy descriptor, but it works. audience and with only the smallest possible crew, was an entirely novel assignment for Paul. And because Page had already performed his play prior to teaming up with Paul, the process wasn’t typical.

happy collaboration.



P P distancing, assigned bathrooms, etc.) were a constant stress. P pandemic. That’s why I made sure the empty seats are shown at the beginning and the end of the play. I want it to serve as a sort of time capsule.” P

when one needs to be heard in a large theater.” P P Barron. P As a director, Paul is looking forward to STC once again opening its doors. Without revealing too much, he says STC has some wonderful things planned for audiences as soon as it’s safe to reopen the theater and ready to go. It will be the company’s initial baby step into reopening. P 3 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 19 , 2 0 2 1


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LGBTQ housing rights further protected under presidential order Hope for the future in the eradication of discrimination By JEFF HAMMERBERG

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is taking intentional steps forward to enforce a new executive order signed by President Biden on Jan. 20, and protect the housing rights of the LGBTQ community. Across America, housing discrimination against the LGBTQ community remains prevalent. More than one-third of Americans still don’t believe our LGBTQ community deserves protection and dignity in housing, employment, adoption, and other areas of life. Federal lawyers in the Trump administration had argued that “Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination because of sex does not bar discrimination because of sexual orientation.” By effectively drawing a distinction between sex and sexual identity, the brief aims to carve out the latter from Title VII’s protections. This new order signed by President Biden serves as a means to fully enforce Title VII as it relates to the LBGTQ community. The policy within this order states: “every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love.” Further, “people should be able to… secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination. All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” This order is important, as Freedom For All Americans reports, in 27 states, there are no explicit statewide laws at all protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. In 21 states and the District of Columbia, state law protects people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. From a practical standpoint, the executive order instructs each agency within the U.S. government,

PRESIDENT BIDEN signed an o de that

ill significantly ad ance and p otect the ho sing ights o the

including HUD, to review existing orders and policies as well as agency actions as pertaining to Title VII which may be inconsistent with the policy set forth in this order to ensure the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. A plan for implementing changes is due within 100 days of the order.

Jeff Hammerberg



as it pertains to housing is not new, GayRealEstate.com as part of their advocacy and giving program have been for over 25 years. This Biden/Harris administration executive order promises hope for the future in the eradication of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation for all Americans.

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