Washingtonblade.com, Volume 52, Issue 19, May 07, 2021

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Mask confusion

Mixed reaction to easing of COVID restrictions, PAGES 08 & 18

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Trans teacher, P.G. County schools face off in discrimination lawsuit Officials deny charges of harassment, retaliation By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

Attorneys representing transgender former English teacher Jennifer Eller in a 2018 discrimination lawsuit against the Prince George’s County Public Schools and the county’s Board of Education filed a motion in federal court last week asking a judge to rule in support of Eller’s two main allegations against school officials. The motion for partial summary judgment, filed on April 28 in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, calls on the court to affirm Eller’s charges that school officials acted illegally by failing to intervene when she was subjected to a hostile work environment for five years that included abuse and harassment by students, parents, fellow teachers and supervisors and retaliation by administrators. The motion also calls on the court to affirm that Eller, 39, was forced to resign from her teaching job in 2017 because of the harassment and discriminatory action based

JENNIFER ELLER alleges the P.G. County school system subjected her to discrimination and harassment. (Photo courtesy of Lambda Legal)

on her gender and gender identity. Eller’s motion for summary judgement, which calls for a ruling in her favor on the allegations, came one month after attorneys for the P.G. County Schools and the school board filed their own motion seeking summary judgment against all the allegations in Eller’s lawsuit. If U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day rules in favor of the school system’s motion, which court observers do not think will happen, it would result in the dismissal of the lawsuit. The motion filed by Eller’s attorneys calls on the court to rule against the school system’s motion for summary judgment. Court records show that the motions by the opposing sides in the case came after Magistrate Judge Day issued a March 26 directive requiring the two sides to attend a May 7 settlement conference in which an effort must be made to settle the case before it goes to trial. Day’s directive, in the form of a letter to the attorneys, called for Eller and her attorneys

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to submit 10 business days in advance of the conference a “written demand” for what a settlement agreement should include. Day’s letter calls for P.G. school officials and their attorneys to submit five days in advance of the conference a “written offer” to Eller for what a settlement should consist of. “For years, I was aggressively misgendered, attacked and harassed in the hallways and even in my own classroom by students, peers and supervisors,” Eller said in a statement released by the LGBTQ litigation group Lambda Legal, which, along with the D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter, is representing Eller. “My pleas for help and for sensitivity training on LGBTQ issues for students and staff, were ignored,” Eller said. “The relentless harassment stripped me of the joy of teaching and forced me to resign,” said Eller. “It is time for Prince George’s County Public Schools to be held accountable.” Eller charges in her lawsuit that the harassment and discriminatory action against her began in 2011 when she transitioned from male to female during the school year. The lawsuit says school officials initially responded to her complaints about the harassment by demanding that she stop dressing as a woman and return to wearing men’s clothes, which she refused to do. The lawsuit says she was forced to resign from her teaching job in 2017 after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the alleged abuse she faced on the job. In addition to naming P.G. County Public Schools and the P.G. County Board of Education as defendants, the lawsuit also names as a defendant the school system’s CEO Monica Goldson. The lawsuit charges that the school district and its administrators violated Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act, and the Prince George’s County nondiscrimination code. In its official response to the lawsuit, attorneys for the school system denied Eller’s allegations and claimed the school system had in place nondiscrimination policies that covered gender identity and sexual orientation for school employees and students. The school system also states in its response that Eller may have failed to exhaust administrative remedies required prior to filing a lawsuit and that the lawsuit missed deadlines for certain legal claims. It also says her legal claims may be disqualified because of her “voluntary resignation of employment,” an assertion disputed by Eller’s attorneys who say the resignation was forced by the abuse and harassment Eller faced on the job. Her attorneys also point out that Eller filed a complaint against school officials in 2015 before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which conducted an extensive investigation into Eller’s complaint. The attorneys note that in 2017 the EEOC issued a letter stating that there was “reasonable cause” to believe Eller had been subjected to unlawful treatment based on her sex and gender identity. “After she filed this discrimination charge, the school administration retaliated against Ms. Eller by taking away her advanced placement English class and opening a disciplinary hearing against her that ended in no discipline,” the Lambda Legal statement says. P.G. County school officials have declined requests from the Washington Blade for comment on Eller’s lawsuit, saying they have a policy of not commenting on pending litigation. Among those expressing concern over the issues raised in the Eller lawsuit is College Park, Md., Mayor Patrick Wojahn, who is gay. College Park, which is home to the University of Maryland, is in Prince George’s County. “It’s important for our county and for the entire community, especially for the kids, that the schools be places free of harassment and discrimination,” Wojahn said. “And if what Ms. Eller says is true, then it shows that the school system has fallen seriously short.”

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the city’s COVID-related public health restrictions are being eased one step further by the lifting of a ban on live entertainment at bars, restaurants and nightclubs as of May 1. The mayor’s revised public health order is expected to provide a boost to the city’s gay bars, which will be allowed on a limited basis to resume offering live entertainment, including drag shows, which have been a longtime popular form of entertainment. The new order also expands the maximum number of people allowed to be seated at a single table from six to 10 and lifts a requirement that customers must order at least one food item when seated outdoors. The order leaves in place a requirement that a food item must be served when customers are seated indoors. While welcoming the limited easing of some restrictions, nightlife advocates expressed disappointment that the new mayoral order leaves in place a 25 percent capacity limit on the number of people allowed for indoor dining and bar service along with a required 6’ distancing between tables and seating areas. Also left in place in the new order is the requirement that all customers in bars and restaurants must be seated at all times. In addition, the mayoral order leaves in place a ban on seating at or ordering drinks from a service bar if the bar is staffed by a bartender or another employee. It also leaves in place a requirement that bars, nightclubs, and restaurants close at midnight instead of the pre-pandemic closing times of 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends. Nightlife advocates point out that Maryland has raised its occupancy limit for bars and restaurants to 50 percent and Virginia no longer has a capacity limit, although it requires all patrons to be seated and requires tables to be spaced at a distance in observance of social distancing. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam further eased the state’s restrictions on restaurants and bars by allowing bartenders to

Revised COVID rules allow drag shows to resume But capacity limits continue to frustrate nightlife advocates

serve customers at indoor bar tops. David Perruzza, owner of the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers and its adjoining lesbian bar League of Her Own said he too welcomes the lifting of the ban on live entertainment, which had been in place for about a year. Perruzza said he would be offering the first drag show his bars have had in about a year on May 6. But Perruzza said that like other D.C. gay bars, most of which operate in small or medium size buildings, the requirement that all customers be seated and that tables must be separated by a distance of at least 6 feet limits the number of customers that can enter his establishments, which include dining, even if the capacity limit were to be raised to 50 percent. He said if a 50 percent capacity limit is put in place, the space in his two bars would only allow a 33 percent capacity due to the 6’ social distancing rule. “What would help us is to let people sit at a bar,” Perruzza said. “My whole staff has been vaccinated. So why no bar service now?” Mark Lee, coordinator of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a local trade association representing bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and other entertainment businesses, has said the initial closing of all bars and restaurants early last year due to the COVID outbreak and the subsequent 25 percent indoor occupancy limit has had a devastating impact on many bars, restaurants and nightclubs. “The reality is that D.C. remains an outlier throughout the region and across the nation for the worst restaurant and bar restrictions,” said Lee, who is calling on Bowser to “move the same science-based and health-safe level of re-opening

Activists concerned over removal of D.C. AIDS office executive Dept. of Health declines to explain abrupt replacement of Kharfen By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

The leaders of several local and national AIDS organizations have expressed concern over a decision by D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt to abruptly dismiss Michael Kharfen from his position since 2013 as Senior Deputy Director of the department’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted D.C. Department of Health Disease and Tuberculosis Director Dr. LaQuandra Administration. Nesbitt abruptly dismissed Under the leadership MICHAEL KHARFEN from his position. of Kharfen, who is gay, the Department of Health entity commonly referred to as HAHSTA has played a lead role in what AIDS advocacy organizations consider to be D.C.’s highly successful efforts in recent years to lower the rate of new HIV infections among city residents. Alison Reeves, a spokesperson for Nesbit, declined to give a reason for Kharfen’s termination, saying the DOH does not comment on “personnel matters.” Reeves said DOH official Dr. Anjali Talwalker has been named as interim Senior DOH Deputy Director for HAHSTA while a national search is being conducted for a permanent HAHSTA leader. People who know Kharfen have said he has declined at this time to publicly comment on his departure from HAHSTA. He could not immediately be reached by the Blade for comment. “Michael Kharfen’s departure is a real loss to HAHSTA, the D.C. community, and nationally,” said Paul Kawata, executive director of the D.C.-based National Minority AIDS Council. “It is

important to remember that when Michael took over HAHSTA there were real challenges and concerns,” Kawata said. “He transformed the agency and built strong relationships with local organizations and D.C.-based national organizations,” said Kawata. “His reasoned voice and ability to collaborate will be sorely missed.” At least three sources familiar with HAHSTA, who spoke on condition of not being identified, have said reports have surfaced internally from DOH that director Nesbitt is planning to reorganize several DOH divisions, including HAHSTA. The sources say people familiar with the reported reorganization expressed alarm that HAHSTA would be dismantled as a separate DOH entity, with AIDS-related programs operated by other DOH divisions. “Some think she wants to use the funds earmarked for HAHSTA for other things,” said one of the sources. “She could be jeopardizing federal grant money for HIV and hepatitis,” the source said. The Washington Blade raised questions surrounding Kharfen’s departure with John Falcicchio, the D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, who also serves as Mayor Muriel Bowser’s chief of staff, at a press conference on Monday on an unrelated topic. Falcicchio said he would try to arrange for mayoral spokesperson LaToya Foster to respond to the Blade’s questions about a possible DOH reorganization of HAHSTA and the issues surrounding Kharfen’s departure from DOH. Neither Foster nor another mayoral spokesperson had responded as of late Tuesday. “Michael Kharfen’s leaving D.C. government is a huge loss to the D.C. community and potentially puts at risk federal grants for HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and hepatitis,” according

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By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

MAYOR BOWSER loosened mask requirements but a 25 percent limited capacity in bars and restaurants has angered some nightlife advocates.

opportunities as in both neighboring and nationwide jurisdictions.” Dr. LaQuanda Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Department of Health, has said nationwide data have shown that restaurants and bars have been among the high-risk places where the coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. But both Nesbitt and Bowser have said in recent weeks that city health officials are closely observing the declining number of new infections among D.C. residents and will be looking at further easing of the current restrictions within a month or two. Bowser also last week loosened mask rules for those who are vaccinated. Small indoor gatherings of vaccinated people are now allowed and locals can enjoy outdoor activities without a mask in small groups of other vaccinated people. Unvaccinated people wear masks when encountering others and rideshare drivers are required to wear a mask. to David Harvey, executive director for the D.C.-based National Coalition of STD Directors. “If his departure is about a consolidation of agencies within DOH, then the community will be the loser,” Harvey said. “We need HAHSTA to continue,” he said, adding, “The mayor should reverse this decision and reinstate Michael Kharfen.” Sources familiar with the D.C. government’s personnel polices have said that Kharfen and other high-level officials holding positions such as that of a senior deputy director are considered “at will” employees who serve at the pleasure of the mayor and the agency head for whom they work. They can be removed for any reason or no reason, those familiar with the personnel policy say. Before becoming the DOH Senior Deputy Director in charge of HAHSTA in 2013, Kharfen served from 2006 to 2013 as HAHSTA’s Bureau Chief for Partnerships, Capacity Building, and Community Outreach. Those who know Kharfen said in that role he is credited with working closely with a wide range of local and national organizations that provide services for people with HIV/AIDS as well as other public health organizations. Among them is the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, which has worked closely with HAHSTA and the DOH to develop, among other things, a plan to significantly curtail new HIV infections in the city by 2020. Other groups working closely with Kharfen have been the Washington AIDS Partnership, the National Coalition of STD Directors, the Prevention Access Campaign, and the HIVHepatitis Policy Institute. “Under Michael’s leadership, D.C. was instrumental in pioneering many new innovations in preventing and treating HIV that were later adopted by other jurisdictions,” said Carl Schmid, executive director of the D.C.-based HIV-Hepatitis Institute. “And if you look at the results, I think it demonstrates success,” Schmid said. “I do not know any details of his departure, but I know he will be missed not only in D.C. but across the country,” Schmid told the Blade.

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Anticipation builds amid delay: Will Biden name LGBTQ ambassadors? U.S. has never had openly lesbian or transgender envoys By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

currently has the distinction of being the openly gay person with the most prestigious More than 100 days into his presidency, President Biden has yet to name picks for a ambassadorial appointment. Consistent with his reputation as a firebrand on social multitude of ambassadorial positions in a delay unusual for a presidency at this stage, media, Grenell hit Germany hard as ambassador to compel the G-5 country to meet its raising questions about whether he’ll miss an opportunity to exhibit America’s LGBTQ military spending obligations as a NATO partner. Grenell has something to show for his community overseas through the appointment of the first-ever lesbian and transgender efforts: The country began to spend closer to 2 percent of its GDP on defense. person as ambassadors. And yet for all these appointments, no president has ever named an open lesbian or Many of these ambassadorial vacancies, which complement the diplomatic corps trans woman for a position as U.S. ambassador, an oversight that stands out after the of the U.S. government to serve as a representation of American diversity overseas, rapid progress on LGBTQ rights in recent years. At a time when transgender rights are are in key positions. Nearly 90 ambassadorial positions, including sought-after posts in in focus amid anti-trans attacks in state legislatures, Israel, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Italy and China, the appointment of an openly transgender remain vacant according to an April article in USA ambassador would also send a signal of solidarity Today. with the transgender community. The delay in ambassadorial appointments There’s no indication Biden won’t appoint an appears to come from pressure on Biden to refrain LGBTQ person for a position as U.S. ambassador, from the traditional practice of naming donors which could be an easy achievement from him who bundled for his presidential campaign to the with the LGBTQ community, but the delay raises prestigious posts as opposed to foreign policy questions on whether or not they will happen, in experts. Biden declined during his campaign addition to keeping the diplomatic corps from to commit to refusing to reward donors with being fully staffed and functional. ambassadorial appointments, but the issue has Moreover, the position of LGBTQ international taken hold in progressive circles. liaison at the State Department, a position Biden On the other hand, many donors and bundlers for campaigned on filling after Trump let the position Biden’s presidential campaign were LGBTQ people, remain vacant, remains unfilled. During the Obama who would reasonably expect an ambassadorial years, Randy Berry served in that role and travelled appointment as a reward for helping get Biden to internationally to work with LGBTQ groups overseas the White House. and demonstrate U.S. solidarity with them. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, under It’s unclear why the international LGBTQ questioning from the Washington Blade on Tuesday PRESIDENT BIDEN has yet to name his picks for many ambassadorial liaison position continues to remain vacant within on whether Biden is missing an opportunity to posts, a rarity after 100 days in office. the Biden administration. A State Department name lesbian and transgender ambassadors in spokesperson referred the Blade on Wednesday historic firsts, urged patience. back to the White House on potential LGBTQ ambassadorial appointments or the “Given we haven’t named many ambassadors quite yet — and we hope to soon; stay international LGBTQ liaison role. tuned — certainly the president looks to ensuring that the people representing him, not To be sure, Biden has made several key LGBTQ appointments in the limited time just in the United States, but around the world, represent the diversity of the country, in his presidency. Among them are Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary, making and that certainly includes people who are LGBTQ, members of the transgender him the first-ever openly gay person to win Senate confirmation for a Cabinet-level community,” Psaki said. role, and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health, which made her the first openly Asked to clarify her definition of “soon” in this context — whether it means days, transgender person to win Senate confirmation for any presidential appointment. weeks, or months — Psaki declined to provide a more definite timeline. In the past few weeks alone, Biden has signaled he’d name openly lesbian and “I think it depends on when the president makes some decisions,” Psaki said. “And transgender people to high-ranking civilian positions at the Defense Department. he’ll continue to consider a range of options for a lot of the positions that are out there Brenda Sue Fulton, a lesbian activist who fought to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the and still remain vacant.” transgender military ban, got the nod as assistant secretary of defense for manpower At the same time, Psaki made a point to commend the work of Foreign Service and reserve affairs, while Shawn Skelly, a transgender national security expert who officers at the State Department with whom Biden has sought to restore trust after years served in the Air Force for 20 years as a Naval Flight Officer, obtained the nod to of scorn from former President Trump. become assistant secretary of defense for readiness. Meanwhile, Gina Ortiz Jones, a “I will say, having served at the State Department for a couple of years, there are lesbian Iraq war veteran who twice ran to represent Texas’ 23rd congressional district, incredible career service employees who are serving in these embassies around was nominated to become Air Force under secretary. the world who are representing the United States and our values.” Psaki said. “That Even the State Department itself has a person from the LGBTQ community serving continues to be the case, but, of course, we’re eager to have ambassadors in place and as its public face. Ned Price, who conducts daily briefings with the media as State confirmed to represent the president and the vice president and the United States.” Department spokesperson, is the first openly gay person to serve in that prominent The appointment of members of the LGBTQ community to ambassadorships has position. a significant place in the movement’s history. In 1998, Jim Hormel became the first The LGBTQ Victory Institute, which at the start of the Biden administration had openly gay person to serve as U.S. ambassador after being named U.S. ambassador to signaled the appointment of a lesbian, transgender person and LGBTQ person of color Luxembourg. But the victory came after a struggle when anti-gay senators, including as U.S. ambassadors were among its goals, expressed confidence Biden would name the late Jesse Helms, refused to confirm Hormel explicitly because he’s gay. President these appointments in due time. Clint0n ended up appointing Hormel as an ambassador through a recess appointment, “President Biden will roll out his picks for ambassadorships over the next few months which averted the need for Senate confirmation. and it presents an incredible opportunity to choose diverse and groundbreaking LGBTQ Presidents regardless of party have achieved historic firsts with the appointment of nominees,” said Ruben Gonzales, executive director of the LGBTQ Victory Institute. openly gay men as ambassadors. Michael Guest in the George W. Bush administration “As President Biden has already made history with the number of LGBTQ women and was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Romania, making him the first openly gay person transgender people he has nominated for Senate-confirmed positions, we predict this to obtain Senate confirmation for an ambassadorship. Former President Obama over commitment to LGBTQ diversity will continue when ambassadors are nominated. The the course of two terms appointed a record seven openly gay men as ambassadors, impact of our first LGBTQ women ambassadors, first LGBTQ ambassadors of color including John Berry as U.S. ambassador to Australia and Daniel Baer as U.S. and first trans ambassadors would be enormous – an impact not lost on the Biden ambassador to the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe. administration.” Richard Grenell, named by President Trump as U.S. ambassador to Germany, 1 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • MAY 07, 2021 • NAT I O NA L NE WS

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Biden vows to support trans youth

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday President Biden will fulfill the pledge he made in his speech to Congress to have the backs of transgender youth by using the bully pulpit, deferring to the U.S. Justice Department on potential legal action against attacks from state legislatures. Psaki made the remarks under questioning from the Washington Blade in the aftermath of Biden’s speech last week before a joint session White House Press Secretary JEN PSAKI to Congress, when he called on said President Biden will have the backs of transgender youth. lawmakers to pass the Equality Act and told transgender youth he’d have their back amid a flurry of anti-transgender attacks in state legislatures. “Well, certainly the president has put in place — has signed executive orders, he’s also used the power of the bully pulpit and his presidency to convey that transgender

rights are human rights, and that is the view and belief of his administration and how he expects policies to be implemented,” Psaki said. Many of the state measures are aimed at restricting transgender youth’s access to school sports by prohibiting biological boys from playing in girls’ events, essentially transgender girls from participation. Other measures prohibit transition-related health care. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday signed legislation requiring parental notification for LGBTQ-inclusive school curricula. Psaki specifically addressed measures that would prohibit transgender youth from playing sports in her remarks on how Biden would follow up on his pledge. “That includes ensuring that transgender youth have the opportunity to play sports and to be treated equally in states across the country, so he will look to members of his administration to implement what his view and what his value is as president,” Psaki said. Asked in a follow-up if she would rule out legal action against states as part of that effort, Psaki deferred entirely to the Justice Department. “I will leave that to the Department of Justice,” Psaki said. The Justice Department for weeks hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment on whether it will take legal action against the measures against transgender youth, which critics say amount to unlawful sex discrimination under the law. CHRIS JOHNSON

Biden endorses Equality Act in speech to Congress President Biden, delivering his first joint speech before Congress on the eve of his 100th day of his presidency last week, urged Congress to pass the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ people against discrimination, signaling support for transgender youth amid a flurry of attacks in state legislatures. “I also hope Congress will get to my desk the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ Americans,” Biden said. “To all transgender Americans watching at hone, especially young people who are so brave: I want you to know your president has your back.” Although the U.S. House has acted to pass the Equality Act, the legislation has remained at an impasse in the U.S. Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster. Biden had pledged during his presidential campaign to sign the Equality Act within his first 100 days in office, but has

PRESIDENT BIDEN delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress last week.

fallen short of that goal. It remains to be seen whether Biden in his joint speech before Congress will create new traction for the Equality Act. In 2010, when former President Obama brought up “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in his State of the Union speech, it made waves and led to Congress passing legislation that year during the lame duck session. Biden included the Equality Act in a speech where he articulated other agenda items, including passage of health care, corporate tax increases and the DREAM Act. Seated behind Biden were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Vice President Kamala Harris, marking the first time in history two women sat behind a U.S. president in a speech before a joint session of Congress. CHRIS JOHNSON

Nat’l trans military group elects new president SPARTA, the nation’s leading transgender military service advocacy organization, announced Saturday that it has elected Bree Fram as its new board chair and president of the organization. She has been a member of SPARTA since 2014 and has served on the board of directors since April 2018, most recently as vice president. Fram is also a lieutenant colonel and astronautical engineer in the U.S. Air Force and will soon be recommissioning into the U. S. Space Force. She is currently a student at the U.S. Naval War College with a follow-on assignment to the Department of Defense at the Pentagon. “I’m honored and humbled to serve as SPARTA president on behalf of so many amazing transgender service member,” said Fram. “We will do our utmost to continue SPARTA’s a rich history of incredible dedication and progress. My heartfelt thanks go to the previous leaders of the organization, including Sue Fulton, Jacob Eleazar, Blake Dremann, and Emma Shinn, and all our members for the incredible achievements of the past eight years. Despite setbacks, their desire to make transgender military service possible is reality again as of yesterday as the new Department of Defense Policy went into effect.”



The immediate past president, Emma Shinn served through a challenging time as President Trump’s ban on transgender service went into effect in April 2019. With the January 2021 executive order from President Biden directing the Defense Department to re-implement open transgender service, she and the organization celebrated a major success. “Leading SPARTA for the past two years has been a tremendous honor and privilege,” stated Shinn as her time at the head of SPARTA came to an end. She continued, “I am confident that SPARTA will continue to help our military and nation recognize the value trans service members bring to the mission.” In a press release the organization noted that Fram’s remarks highlighted the fact that SPARTA’s mission is not over. “Although transgender service members have already proven they belong on the battlefield and here at home, we need to ensure they can’t be erased in the future by an administration set on turning back the clock. Beyond ensuring our members can thrive in their careers, my top priority is to ensure the opportunity to serve is enshrined in law.” BRODY LEVESQUE (Photo courtesy of SPARTA)

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Caitlyn Jenner: Trans girls shouldn’t play girls’ sports Reality television star Caitlyn Jenner was asked Saturday by a reporter from celebrity news tabloid TMZ about her position on the multiple pieces of anti-trans youth sports legislation across the U.S. Jenner responded that she saw it as a question of fairness saying that she opposed biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school. “It just isn’t fair,” Jenner said adding, “and we have to protect girls’ sports in our school.” When the reporter attempted to ask a follow-up question to Jenner as to whether or not that would delegitimize trans people who have already transitioned, she deflected and got in her vehicle not answering. She announced last week that she is running for governor of California. Jenner, 71, a trans woman and longtime outspoken member of the Republican Party, would face incumbent Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a likely recall election later this year. BRODY LEVESQUE CAITLYN JENNER is running for governor of California.

Patrick O’Connell, acclaimed AIDS activist, dies at 67 In 1990 O’Connell helped Visual AIDS organize the first Night Without Light, Patrick O’Connell, a founding director of the New York City-based AIDS advocacy which was held at the time of World AIDS Day. New York City’s skyscraper buildings, group Visual AIDS who played a lead role in developing the internationally recognized bridges, monuments, and Broadway theaters turned off their lights for 15 minutes to display of an inverted, V-shaped red ribbon as a symbol of AIDS advocacy, died on commemorate people who lost their lives to AIDS, the New York Times reported. March 23 at a Manhattan hospital from AIDS-related causes, according to the New York In the kickoff of its Red Ribbon Project in 1991, McConnell helped organize volunteers Times. He was 67. to join “ribbon bees” in which thousands of the ribbons were cut and folded for Visual AIDS said in a statement that O’Connell held the title of founding director of the distribution around the city, the Times reports. Those who knew McConnell said he organization from 1980 to 1995. also arranged for his team of volunteers to call Broadway theaters and producers of During those years, according to the statement and others who knew him, O’Connell the upcoming Tony Awards television broadcast to have participants and theater goers was involved in the group’s widely recognized and supported efforts to use art and display the red ribbons on their clothes. artist’s works to advocate in support of people with HIV/AIDS and efforts to curtail the Among those displaying a red ribbon on his label at the Tony Wards broadcast was epidemic that had a devastating impact on the art world. actor Jeremy Irons, who was one of Thanks to a grant from the Art Matters the hosts. In later years, large numbers foundation, Visual Arts was able to of celebrities followed the practice of retain O’Connell as its first paid staff wearing the red ribbon, and in 1993 the member in 1990, the group said in its U.S. Postal Service issued a red ribbon statement. stamp. “Armed with a fax machine and an The Times reports that O’Connell was early Macintosh computer, Patrick born and raised in Manhattan, where he helped Visual AIDS grow from a attended Fordham Preparatory School volunteer group to a sustainable nonand later graduated from Trinity College profit organization,” the statement says. in Hartford, Conn., in 1973 with a “A passionate spokesperson for the bachelor’s degree in history. According organization, he helped projects like to Visual AIDS, O’Connell served as Day Without Art, Night Without Light, director of the Hallwalls arts center in and the Red Ribbon reach thousands Buffalo, N.Y. from 1977 to 1978 before of people and organizations across the returning to New York City to work for a world,” the group says in its statement. gallery called Artists Space. “We were living in a war zone,” the The Times reports that O’Connell statement quoted O’Connell as saying learned in the middle 1980s that he had in a 2011 interview with the Long Island contracted AIDS and began a regimen newspaper Newsday. “But it was like a of early AIDS treatment with a cocktail war that was some kind of deep secret of over 30 pills a day. His involvement only we knew about,” O’Connell said in with Visual AIDS, which began in 1989, the interview. “Thousands were dying ended on an active basis in 1995 when of AIDS. We felt we had to respond Activist Patrick O’Connell was instrumental in creating the red ribbon to promote AIDS awareness, his health worsened, the Times reports. with a visible expression,” he told the which was displayed at the Obama White House. As one of the last remaining survivors newspaper. of his New York contemporaries who With O’Connell’s help, Visual AIDS had HIV beginning in the 1980s, O’Connell continued in his strong support for AIDSin 1989 organized the first annual Day Without Art in which dozens of galleries and related causes through 2000s and beyond, people who knew him said. museums in New York and other cities covered art works with black cloths to symbolize Visual AIDS says it is gathering remembrances and photos for a tribute post for the mourning of those who died of AIDS. Among those participating were the Brooklyn O’Connell on its website. It has invited people to share their memories of him by sending Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art written contributions and images via email to: emcgowan@visualaids.org. in New York, which replaced a Picasso painting with a “somber informational placard,” LOU CHIBBARO JR. according to the New York Times. 1 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • MAY 07, 2021 • NAT I O NA L NE WS

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3 trans people allege abuse at Miami jail Staff accused of inappropriate strip searches, name calling By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | mlavers@washblade.com

Three transgender people allege they suffered abuse at a Miami jail last year after police arrested them during Black Lives Matter protests. The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund in a letter it sent to MiamiDade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava last week notes Christian Pallidine, a college student who identifies as a trans man, was attending a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Miami on May 31, 2020, when Miami-Dade police officers arrested him and charged him with violating a county-wide curfew. Pallidine arrived at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center a short time later, and the letter notes personnel abused him because of his gender identity. “The staff at TGK subjected Mr. Pallidine to degrading and outrageous treatment because he is transgender,” it reads. “TGK staff forced him to strip and display his genitals in front of a group of officers — part of a series of invasive, pseudo-medical, sexualized procedures conducted on him for no legitimate purpose. TGK staff also belittled Mr. Pallidine, publicized his transgender status to others, asked gratuitous questions about his anatomy, and called him derogatory names.” The letter, among other things, notes Pallidine underwent an examination that “focused solely on his transgender status” and it “took place in a public area where others could easily see and hear him and the person questioning him.” The letter says the officer who conducted the exam asked him “multiple questions about his genitals and plans for future medical care, such as, ‘Do you want a penis in the future?’” Pallidine alleges he was forced to take a pregnancy test “because of his genitals” and officers mocked him because of his gender identity. Pallidine also says officers forced him to undergo a strip search and placed him in solitary confinement before his release. Jae Bucci and Gabriela Amaya Cruz on July 19, 2020, attended a rally and march for Black trans women in downtown Miami. Miami-Dade police officers brought them to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center after they arrested them. Bucci, who is a teacher and makeup artist, last week during a virtual press conference that TLDEF, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Harvard LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic organized, said the gender marker on her ID is female and the Miami-Dade Police Department processed her as such. Bucci noted Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center personnel also processed her as female, but she said an officer told her, “Aha, I knew it. That’s what I was looking for” after she disclosed her gender identity. Bucci said her friends were not able to find her because officers had reclassified her as male. Bucci told reporters that officers placed her with male prisoners and, like Pallidine, forced her to undergo an “illegal strip search in front of several officers.” “They tugged at my piercings, drawing blood, and forcibly tried to remove my hair, assuming it to be a wig,” said Bucci. “They forced me to sit with men … I was put in danger,” she added. “I needed protection. I asked to be seated with other women, but the guards were only hyperfocused on my genitals, repeatedly calling me a man.” Bucci said she was later placed in solitary confinement “for hours with no contact, food, water, leading to a panic attack where I began to self-harm and contemplate suicide.” Bucci said officers also forced her to wear men’s clothing “with my breasts clearly visible.” Amaya Cruz — a barista, artist and activist — said she suffered many of the same abuses that Bucci and Pallidine described once she arrived at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. Amaya Cruz told reporters the officers did not know whether to place her with female or male inmates once she disclosed her gender identity to them. She said officers forced her to remove her wig before they took her mugshot. Amaya Cruz said she objected to male officers patting her down, and they told a female colleague that “he’s saying he’s a woman, but he’s a man. He has a dick still.” Amaya Cruz said the female officer did her pat down and allowed her to fill out paperwork in which she disclosed her gender identity. Amaya Cruz said the officer allowed her to sit with other female inmates. Amaya Cruz was born with ectrodactyly, a rare genetic disorder that limits finger movement, but she was subject to “excessive force” during the pat down and when guards took her fingerprints. Amaya Cruz said the female officer who did her pat-down told her to change into a pair of basketball shorts and a white T-shirt before her release. “I was so uncomfortable and I just complied because my only reaction was I don’t want to be here any longer,” said Amaya Cruz. “At that point I felt uncomfortable, humiliated, my gender was being yelled out the entire night. My gender identity was not being taken seriously in any way.” 1 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • MAY 07, 2021 • NAT I O NA L NE WS

CHRISTIAN PALLIDINE was attending a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Miami on May 31, 2020, when Miami-Dade police officers arrested him. (Photo courtesy Pallidine)

TLDEF Staff Attorney Alejandra Caraballo told reporters the “health and safety of our clients were jeopardized by the willful and wanton treatment by the officers at TGK.” “The current policies followed at TGK are woefully inadequate and are discriminatory on their face, which will inevitably lead towards the targeted harassment of trans people in custody,” added Caraballo. Harvard LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic Founding Director Alexander Chen also took part in the press conference alongside Arianna Lint, chief executive officer of Arianna’s Center, an organization that serves trans women in South Florida. Tatiana Williams, cofounder and executive director of Transinclusive Group, which also works with trans people in South Florida, also participated. “The change has to happen, as we all mentioned, structurally,” said Williams. “It has to happen at the top.” The letter to Levine Cava calls for her office to “reach a resolution” with Pallidine, Bucci and Amaya Cruz without litigation that specifically addresses several points: 1) “Policy and procedure updates to address the issues faced by our clients and other transgender community members.” 2) “Meaningful accountability measures for MDCR (Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department) staff that go well beyond what Internal Affairs currently provides.” 3) “Appropriate discipline for the MDCR staff involved in the inappropriate treatment of our clients.” 4) “Updates to county records concerning our clients and their gender.” 5) “Compensation to our clients as allowed by law; and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs as allowed by law.” “We have achieved similar results working with officials elsewhere in the country, and are confident we can do the same here,” reads the letter. Chen echoed this point during the press conference. “We have every expectation that we will be able to come to an accord with the county that will both do justice to our plaintiffs and protect transgender people in the county going forward,” he said. Lint, like Chen, noted Levine Cava championed LGBTQ rights when she was a member of the Miami-Dade County Commission until she succeeded now-Congressman Carlos Giménez last November. “I am calling on Mayor Levine Cava to continue this support for the transgender community by taking steps to address the mistreatment of transgender individuals in Miami-Dade County jails,” said Lint. “Arianna’s Center is committed to working with Mayor Levine Cava to eradicate prejudice against the transgender community in our prisons, jails, detention centers and through the whole criminal justice system.” Levine Cava’s office has not returned the Washington Blade’s request for comment.


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

Mayor Bowser and CDC take a wrong turn

We’ve come far in fight against COVID, there’s no reason to rush it I am a big supporter of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. She is doing a great job for the people of D.C. and working hard fighting for our best interests. But no one is perfect. On April 30, her administration made a big mistake releasing a policy on masks reported by dcist: “D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser further lifted mask restrictions for fully vaccinated people in an order published on Friday evening. The order says fully vaccinated people may go maskless in businesses, office buildings and other indoor settings and tasks businesses with enforcing the new rule.” It went on to say, “The businesses, office buildings, or other establishments shall exclude or attempt to eject persons who are not wearing masks or who remove their required masks, except in circumstances where the person is fully vaccinated and is permitted to conduct their activities without wearing a mask.” It continued: “Businesses are allowed to request to see vaccine cards or other proof that patrons have been vaccinated to determine whether or not they have to wear a mask, per the order. Employers may ‘establish rules for mask-wearing at their offices or facilities that are more stringent’ than the new District regulations.” Reading this, I felt it made no sense and would cause havoc for restaurants and businesses. Others agreed and spoke up and the policy was rescinded on Saturday, May 1. The Washington Post wrote: “To mask or not to mask? Mayor’s order stokes confusion in D.C.” The original CDC advice on masks was confusing enough and Bowser made it worse. She isn’t the only one causing confusion. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a new order on masks, which Montgomery County Executive Elrich immediately said he wouldn’t follow. Clearly this isn’t an easy thing to deal with. With the CDC telling people for months they need masks everywhere, changing policy is complicated, especially when there will be different requirements for those who have been vaccinated and those yet to be. The administration wanted to show the benefit of being vaccinated but caused confusion. In addition I believe the CDC made a huge mistake by pausing the J&J vaccine. It seems they could have investigated the 15 cases of blood clots, out of the nearly eight million shots given, in the two weeks they did without creating havoc and fear of the vaccine. They could have given information to the medical community and shared it with the public on how to handle such an occurrence without the pause. As a lay person reading and listening to the various medical experts I’m convinced there is little chance of getting COVID outdoors if you are vaccinated and even if you aren’t and not wearing a mask, unless you stand close with a group who also haven’t been vaccinated. So why not just begin to change mask policy for outside. The basic CDC statement was good: Vaccinated people no longer need a mask outside and it’s suggested if unvaccinated people are in groups without appropriate distance they should continue to wear them. Simple enough. The real problem occurs when talking about masking indoors in public places like restaurants and other businesses, including grocery stores. How do you separate those who have been vaccinated from those who haven’t and still at major risk indoors being in close proximity to others who aren’t? Wouldn’t it just be simpler to say we all need to continue to wear a mask indoors in public places especially since we are far from herd immunity? According to the D.C. Health Department only 35% are fully vaccinated. As someone who has been vaccinated, I am happy to continue to wear my mask inside public spaces to help protect others and to encourage everyone who has yet to be vaccinated to continue to wear their mask. Why would we make every restaurant, bar, grocery store or other business have an enforcer at the door checking for proof of vaccination before they let someone in without a mask? It’s not fair to put that burden on businesses that already have so much to do to make their establishments safe for all. The TSA was right when it announced Friday it extended the mask mandate until Sept. 16 at airports, on commercial aircraft, and on all buses and trains. We have come so far in the fight against COVID there is no reason to rush this. Let’s make the rules as simple as possible. We are one community so we should act like it. 1 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • MAY 07, 2021 • V I E WP O I NT

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is a longtime Republican-Libertarian AIDS activist whose most recent book is ‘How AIDS Activists Challenged America.’

Biden’s big gay opportunity The best friend LGBTQ Americans have yet had in the White House

President Joe Biden faces many tough challenges. Foreign adversaries are preparing to test him, rancorous political divisions confront him at home where COVID-19 has ravaged the American economy and spirit. With Washington gridlock threatening to block his most ambitious plans, opportunities for legacy achievements may prove scarce. Still, in one critical area, Biden can earn an honored place in history: LGBTQ rights. Of all major contemporary American political figures, Biden has been the quickest to take a stand for our rights. He is the best friend LGBTQs have yet had in the White House. I do not say so lightly, I am a lifelong Republican. From day one, Biden began rolling back the biased policies promoted by Donald Trump’s Marginalizer-in-Chief, Mike Pence. Much damage remains to be undone, especially because the media and many Democrats have gone easy on Pence and his cronies. But Joe himself got off to a fast start placing qualified LGBTQ officials in highly visible positions, including his Cabinet. Secretary of State Tony Blinken set the tone early by flying the rainbow flag at U.S. embassies and naming a special envoy for LGBTQ rights. What a welcome change to have an administration proud of, rather than wary of, its LGBTQ supporters. Yet much more needs to be done to rid this nation of the cruel blights of LGBTQ stigma and marginalization. There can be neither equality nor equity for people who are systematically stigmatized and marginalized. The cruelty of these violations is evident in a suicide rate among LGBTQ youth five times that of youth in the general population. A national commission studying patterns, causes, and consequences of LGBTQ stigma, marginalization, and bullying could help awaken Americans to the damage from the prejudices many of us still face. Indeed, older LGBTQs who feel comfortably protected, have a special obligation to defend gay youth who remain vulnerable. Stigmatization is worse for minority LGBTQs who bear a double burden of bias. BGLM!-Black Gay Lives Matter! Stigma impedes HIV testing and treatment; one consequence is a shocking rate of new HIV-AIDS infections among people of color four times the rate among whites. Even as we pursue our national struggle to end racial bias, America must recognize our equal moral obligation to expose and repudiate our ugly history of LGBTQ stigmatization and marginalization. How do we stop these evils? Most crucial, we must pass a muscular Equality Act that protects the rights and dignity of all LGBTQs wherever they live in America. Yet to pass it soon, we must avoid “poison pills” that may doom it to failure. Protection for LGBTQ youth is urgent. Better a bill we can pass now giving us 90% of what we all need, than a failed bill promising 100% of what some wish for. Education is essential. Students must learn about the sufferings of LGBTQ people and our contributions to humanity and to America. All should be told about LGBTQ civil rights heroes like Bayard Rustin, Harvey Milk, and Barbara Jordan, scientists and thinkers like Alan Turing, George Washington Carver, and Plato, writers like Walt Whitman, James Baldwin, and Henry James, composers like Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, and Billy Strayhorn, and artists like Michelangelo, Georgia O’Keefe, and Frida Kahlo—the full list is much longer. Formal recognition of the sufferings and achievements of LGBTQ people is long overdue. As a starter, let’s build an Equality Museum on the Mall to celebrate LGBTQ Americans. No politician has yet ventured to suggest building one; their omission reinforces our marginalized state. President Biden could make history by stepping up. Although Biden himself has made a strong start on LGBTQ rights, it is a serious mistake for the Democrats to take the gay vote for granted. Polls indicate Trump’s share rose from 16% in 2016 to 28% in 2020. LGBTQs followed a normal tendency to divide more evenly between the parties. In the 2020 campaign Democrats avoided reminding voters that Trump’s number two, Mike Pence, has been America’s number one stigma super spreader. At the same time, on the QT, they reassured closet Pences among their own. They took us for granted assuming all LGBTQs are Woke Groupthinkers. In the next election, more LGBTQs who agree with Republicans on issues like Iran, immigration, or taxes will vote GOP if the Democrats fail to raise their ante for us. More Democrats need to follow the leadership Biden is showing on LGBTQ issues. Biden himself has a big opportunity to become America’s president for LGBTQ rights. But to grasp that opportunity, he will need aggressive initiatives to end stigmatization, celebrate our contributions, and make a crystal clear national commitment to full equality for all LGBTQ peoples. 2 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • MAY 07, 2021 • V I E WP O I NT

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Final season of ‘Pose’ is must-see TV that matters Groundbreaking show prepares to end award-winning run By JOHN PAUL KING

We got through it, and there is another side to it. We can get to the other side. When the COVID pandemic hit in the early months of 2020, there were certainly more “I feel like that’s what ‘Pose’ really accomplishes this season, reminding the public that pressing and essential worries for us to grapple with than how it would impact the next it’s when we come together and when we lead with love [that] we get to the other side.” season of a TV show. Yet it’s a testament to the power of “Pose” that many among its Mock elaborated on the theme of resilience by discussing the importance of showing legion of fans were at least as concerned about the show’s disruption as they were about the strength of House mothers like Blanca and Electra (Dominique Jackson), who hold the possibility of running out of toilet paper. together — and lift up — their entire community: The powerhouse FX drama — which spotlights the legends, icons and ferocious house “It’s that matriarchal power and lineage that I think the ballroom is, and what trans mothers of New York’s underground ball culture in the late 1980s — had already made women are to one another, that then feeds everyone else and enables them to shine history. Not only did it feature the largest cast of transgender actors in regular roles, it and have all the things that they want in the world. For me, it is [about] that celebration boasted the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ actors ever included in a scripted series. In […] of Black trans women — that they’ve created this space, that they brought everyone its first two seasons, the show racked up accolades and honors (including a Primetime else in with them, and that, at the end of the day, they are often the ones most often Emmy for Billy Porter as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series) while breaking forgotten. new ground for the inclusion and representation of queer people — and especially “I think with this season, I want everyone across transgender people of color — in television, both in the industry, the audience, to realize that. I think it’s front of the camera, and behind it. With the end of essential, and it’s important.” its second season in August 2019, fans were hungry Mock also talked about the way “Pose” focuses for a third — but thanks to COVID, its future was on the small, day-to-day lives of its characters as suddenly in question. much as it does the larger-than-life splendor of So, when word came that the show’s third season the ballroom culture in which they participate: would have its debut on May 2, it was the best news “We wanted to ensure that we show the everyday, since finding out the vaccines were finally going to mundane moments, as well as the great, grand start rolling out. But it was bittersweet: Along with celebrations. The ballroom is are presentation of confirmation of the series’ imminent return came what it means to congregate and share testimony the sad revelation that the new season would also and to love on each other, and our show is a be the last. “Pose” would be coming to an end with celebration of the everyday intimacies. So, for us, a final, seven-episode arc. while we were plotting these big, grand moments As any viewer of show can attest, there were a […] we wanted to bring in traditions — weddings, lot of threads left hanging when last we saw its matrimony, all this stuff — that our characters get to characters. That means there’s a lot of ground engage in. We wanted to be a part of the tradition to cover in these last chapters in order to give of that, and all the moments that a family shares everyone — characters and audience alike — the The cast of ‘Pose’ in a scene from the final season. (Photo courtesy FX) together. We wanted to make sure that all of those closure they deserve. things were celebrated in this.” The show’s official synopsis goes like this: It’s now When discussion turned to the unprecedented level of support and collaborative 1994 and ballroom feels like a distant memory for Blanca, who struggles to balance inclusion with which the show’s queer cast were bestowed by Ryan Murphy and the being a mother with being a present partner to her new love, as well as her latest role as rest of the creative staff — from the presence of trans women like Mock and co-producer a nurse’s aide. Meanwhile, as AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for Americans Our Lady J in the writers’ room to the extensive reliance on the insights and talents of ages 25 to 44, Pray Tell contends with unexpected health burdens. Meanwhile, a vicious real-life members of the ballroom community — Jackson was quick to add that besides new upstart house is emerging in the ballroom world, and the members of the House of giving the show its ferocious authenticity, it gave her an increased recognition of her Evangelista are forced to defend their legacy. own worth: Obviously, there are a lot of details left hidden in that broad overview, and fans are “I will never, ever, ever walk into a space thinking that I need to impress them […] I undoubtedly full of questions about what they can expect to see. will never walk into a space being fearful of my identity stopping me from anything. Fortunately, the bulk of the show’s main cast convened on Zoom recently (along with Because of this journey, when I walk into spaces now, my identity is not because I’m an show co-creator and Executive Producer Steven Canals and Executive Producer Janet abomination. My identity is a plus. My identity is my value. So, when I walk into spaces Mock) for a press conference to discuss their “Pose” experience, and while they didn’t now,they need to impress me. You can be the biggest Hollywood director, producer, exactly give away any spoilers, they definitely dropped some tantalizing hints about whatever, but you’re not going to take my story or relay stories that are reflective of my what’s in store for audiences in the farewell season. life or my existence and make them into anything you want, because of ‘Pose,’ because In truth, most of the discussion was dominated by reminiscences and expressions of of Ryan, because of Steven, because of Janet and Brad [co-creator/executive producer mutual appreciation, sure signs that the feeling of family we see onscreen is something Falchuk), because of Our Lady J, because of my cast members. that has taken hold off screen, as well. But in between the affectionate banter, the cast “I will never walk into spaces or live a life or an existence thinking that I need to and creatives addressed several questions that might be most on viewers’ minds. impress anyone.” Perhaps the most pressing of these — why, after only three seasons, is the critic-andIf the cast members themselves have found themselves feeling more empowered audience-acclaimed show calling it quits? — was taken on by Canals, who explained: thanks to “Pose,” so too have the millions of LGBTQ people — and allies — who have tuned “I always knew what the beginning and what the end of the narrative would be. And into it since its premiere in 2018. The show is one of those rare entries into the cultural when Ryan Murphy and I first met in September of 2016, we felt really strongly that lexicon that simply allows its queer and trans people to live authentic lives, giving longthat particular narrative made sense. And so, while we certainly could have continued withheld representation to countless viewers who were able to see themselves reflected to create narrative around these characters and in this world, and we certainly had a back from the screen for perhaps the very first time. It’s that powerful sense of validation conversation in the writers’ room about it … I think we all agreed that it just made sense provided by “Pose” that keeps it standing tall in an entertainment market now providing for us to ‘land the plane,’ if you will, comfortably — as opposed to continuing to give so much LGBTQ inclusion that it’s becoming dangerously easy to take it for granted. an audience a story that just simply didn’t have any real core intention or a real thrust Whatever moments of heartbreak, joy, and celebration “Pose” brings us as it plays toward specificity.” out its final act — and there are sure to be many — we can all be sure it will leave us with Also of interest was the obvious subject of how the parallels between the current a message expressed through an oft-heard line of dialogue that Mock says she found pandemic and the AIDS crisis that looms over the show’s narrative might be reflected herself writing “over and over again” during the series’ run: in the new episodes. While he didn’t hint at any direct connections in “Pose,” Porter “You are everything, and you deserve everything this world has to offer.” It’s that used the subject to underscore a theme that has always been one of the show’s most nurturing sentiment the “Pose” has been instilling in us from the beginning, like a important elements: mother to us all. “I think the parallels are quite profound. I know that as a Black gay man who lived The first two episodes of its final season aired on May 2, on FX. The final through the AIDS crisis, I have been dealing with a lot of PTSD during this COVID time. five episodes will air Sunday nights at 10 p.m. It’s very reminiscent of what it was like then. The best news about that is that I survived. 2 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • MAY 07, 2021

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Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs screens ‘Eat With Me’

DC Asian Coalition centers stories of activism in DMV To commemorate Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Act to Change, AQUA DC, and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Program join forces for a free virtual event that highlights stories of Asian American history and activism in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area on May 11 at 7 p.m. The event will include discussions about the rise and fall of D.C.’s Chinatown, student activism that demanded Asian American studies at the University of Maryland, and intersections with other social movements. Local Asian American community leaders and advocates will share anecdotes of their experiences and how their work persists today. Audience members will also be invited to participate as well. To register, visit the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/ events/2938177786422910.

In celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, The Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, DC Public Library, and the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs host a screening of “Eat With Me” for May’s #DCQueerFlix on May 14, beginning at 6 p.m. “Eat With Me,” David Au’s directorial debut, features the story of a mother and her gay son learning to reconnect while trying to keep their business afloat. The film offers a novel take on love, life, and food in the center of Los Angeles. “Eat With Me” will be available on the Kanopy streaming service and is free for D.C. library patrons. To register for this virtual event, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/eat-with-me-watch-party-with-dc-public-librarymoapia-tickets-149184331351?aff=ebdsoporgprofile.

Virtual panel tackles Va. trans student policies Equality Virginia hosts a virtual panel focused on dissecting the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) newly released guidance concerning the treatment of transgender and non-binary youth in schools. This event will be on May 12 at 6 p.m. Perspectives from LGBTQ youth, parents, legal experts, and community leaders will be shared to shed light on VDOE’s new policies set to go into effect during the 20212022 school year. Event registration is available at: http://bit.ly/EV-TSP.


Virginia Gov. RALPH NORTHAM has signed a series of pro-LGBTQ bills this year. Equality Virginia hosts a panel discussion on May 12.


Today The DC Center hosts “Friday Tea Time,” a social hour for older LGBTQ+ adults at 2:00 p.m. via Zoom. For access to the Zoom link and more information, contact justin@thedccenter.org.

Saturday, May 8

Today, the DC Center will host a support group for LGBTQ people of color at 1 p.m. via Zoom. This peer support group is an outlet for LGBTQ people of color to come together and talk about anything affecting them in a space that strives to be safe and judgement-free. The event includes activities like watching movies, poetry events, storytelling, and just hanging out with others. For more information, visit thedccenter.org/poc or facebook. com/centerpoc, or email your interest to supportdesk@ thedccenter.org. Join the DC Center for the LGBT Community and the DC Department on Aging and Community Living (DACL) for a three-part storytelling workshop series focusing on the craft of storytelling. Today’s workshop is titled, “Beyond ‘Once Upon a Time’: Story Structure and How to Use It,” will be led by writer and communications consultant, Erin Becker. For more information, you can reach out to adamheller@thedccenter.org.

Sunday, May 9

The D.C.-area Transmasculine Society hosts “Partners of Transmasc Support Group” at 4 p.m. via Zoom. The group discussion creates a partner-only space 2 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • MAY 07, 2021

where individuals can support each other through the unique issues they face. Partners of all genders and sexual orientations are welcomed. The group is facilitated. To register for the event, visit: https://www.eventbrite. com/e/partners-of-transmasculine-folks-support-grouptickets-132325213275.

Monday, May 10

LGBT older adults and friends are invited to the “Center Aging Coffee Drop-In” at 10 a.m. via Zoom. This event is an opportunity to have friendly conversations and discuss current issues you may be dealing with. For more information, visit Center Aging’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/centeraging.

Tuesday, May 11

The DC Center’s Coming Out Discussion Group will be at 7 p.m. via Zoom today. This event is a peer-facilitated discussion group that discusses coming out experiences and topics as it relates to doing so. For more information, visit Coming Out Discussion Group’s Facebook page. The Trans Support Group will be hosted virtually at 7 p.m. via Zoom. This event is intended to provide emotionally and physically safe space for trans-identifying people and those who may be questioning their gender identity/expression to join together in community and learn from one another. All who identify under the trans umbrella or are unsure, and seek to continually reinforce our principles of respect, acceptance and protection through ongoing input from our attendees are welcome. Contact supportdesk@thedccenter.org for more information.

Wednesday, May 12 Today, Defend Yourself hosts “Get Empowered: A Self-Defense Happy Hour” at 6:30 p.m. at the DC Center. This self-defense class will cover how to respond to negative situations through verbal and physical selfdefense methods. This class is open to all genders. To get registered, visit: defendyourself.org/find-a-class.

Thursday, May 13

Taiwanese American Professionals Washington, D.C. area (TAP DC) hosts a free online mental health talk beginning at 7 p.m. The event features Claudia Nguyen, a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor based in D.C. In this session, Claudia will guide attendees through topics such as racial trauma and dismantling racism. To register for the event, visit: https://www.facebook.com/ TaiwaneseAmericanProfessionalsDC.

Friday, May 14

Women in Their Twenties and Thirties (WiTT) hosts a social discussion group for queer women in the D.C. area that begins at 8 p.m. This event will provide participants with the opportunity to make new friends, have new experiences, and explore the city with other great queer women. You can find more information by joining WiTT’s closed Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/ groups/womenintheir20s.












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‘Halston’ promises sumptuous look at rise and fall of a fashion icon

Gay designer defined women’s style for an era By JOHN PAUL KING

When we hear the name “Halston,” our first thought is not likely to be of his status as an LGBTQ hero – except in the sense that he designed clothes for best friend Liza Minnelli. Yet Roy Halston Frowick, who became the first “celebrity designer” in a career that defined women’s fashion for an era and paved the way for the age of influencers by making his identity synonymous with his brand, can be clearly seen today as a queer pioneer. A gay midwestern boy whose grandmother gave him a love of sewing, he rose to fame after designing the famed pillbox hat worn by Jacqueline Kennedy at her husband’s 1961 inauguration, and spent the next decade building a reputation fueled by the celebrity of a growing list of famous clients while honing a style that combined functionality, elegance and comfort in a way that seemed perfectly in tune with the rising women’s liberation movement. The empowering ease and “effortless” sex appeal of his designs came to epitomize ‘70s style, a signature feature of the Disco Era that has cast its not-so-subtle influence on every generation since, and the fashion house he started became legendary in an industry that was still tightly controlled (like every other industry) by straight men. It was an accomplishment that might have gone unheralded by most at the time, but which historical perspective reveals as a groundbreaking moment in the LGBTQ community’s rise from the shadows. Unfortunately, Halston’s fall from glory – marked by his loss of control over the company he started, through a series of corporate acquisitions that might fairly be described as nefarious – and subsequent 1990 death from AIDS-associated Kaposi’s sarcoma still largely overshadows his reputation (if not the fashions he created) in the popular imagination. But thanks to the arrival of the new Netflix limited series “Halston,” which drops on May 14, that is about to change. Created and directed by Emmy-winner Daniel Minahan, the five-episode biographical portrait stars Ewan McGregor as Halston, and follows the legendary designer as he leverages his single, invented name into a worldwide fashion empire synonymous with luxury, sex, status, and fame, literally defining the ‘70s and ‘80s era New York in which he lives, before a hostile take-over forces him to battle for control of his most precious asset – the name Halston itself. McGregor is joined by a cast that includes Bill Pullman (as Halston’s business associate David Mahoney), Krysta Rodriguez (as Minnelli), Rebecca Dayan (as Elsa Peretti, another close Halston friend), Gian Franco Rodriguez (as Halston’s sometime lover, Victor Hugo), David Pittu (as Halston illustrator and creative director Joe Eula), Rory Culkin (as Joel Schumacher), Kelly Bishop, Sullivan Jones, and Vera Farmiga – and as even a quick look at the publicity shots of each of them in full costume for their roles is enough to verify that the series has gone out of its way to meticulously recreate the look and feel of Halston’s glamorous world. The series found its way to the screen thanks to Minahan’s interest in “Simply Halston,” a bio penned by Vanity Fair writer Stephen Gaines. Working with producer Christine Vachon, he began work on adapting the book as a feature-length film, but the scope of the story made honing it into a two-hour-ish running time a daunting task, and the idea was shelved. The option on the book then passed through a series of other hands, but when the rights became available again, Vachon approached Minahan with the idea of revisiting the project as a miniseries, and, as Minagan says, “it just clicked.” It wasn’t long until Ryan Murphy reached out (through Alexis Martin Woodall, president of his production company) to express his interest, and things “started moving very quickly.” “Working with Ryan is a unique experience,” says Minahan, who previously worked with the powerhouse producer on “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” “He draws the best out of

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EWAN MCGREGOR as Halston and GIAN FRANCO RODRIGUEZ as Halston’s sometime lover, Victor Hugo. (Photo courtesy Netflix)

people, and he demands excellence from everyone who works with him. He has an uncanny sense for story, and I’ve been fascinated for years by the tone he’s able to strike in his work and the depth of emotion that he’s able to express. He also says Murphy had “a unique relationship” with the material that helped inform the end product. “[He] grew up in Indiana […] then he worked building an empire as a gay man in a corporate world as Halston did, so he was really generous with his experience. A lot of that made it into our scripts. We were very lucky to have him be involved.” As for McGregor, Minahan says that although he had considered a whole list of actors for the starring role, the “one and only meeting” he had was with the popular and prolific Scots actor. Though McGregor identifies as straight, he has long been an LGBTQ ally, with a history of sensitive and insightful performances in gay roles (most notably the fictionalized amalgam of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed he portrayed in Todd Haynes’ glam-era fantasy, “Velvet Goldmine”), and according to Minahan, his work as Halston is nothing short of immersive. “Watching Ewan transform into Halston was fascinating,” he says. “When he arrived in New York, he asked for a room where he could work undisturbed with some props — True cigarettes, which are the same brand Halston smoked, cigarette holders, Flair pens like Halston used, scissors, fabric, a black turtleneck, a tape measure, and some yellow lined notepads.” The actor also worked with costume designer Jeriana San Juan, acquiring a detailed familiarity with the technical minutiae involved with designing and assembling clothes – even going so far, according to San Juan, as studying her eye movements while she worked “so he could better track his eyeline when he’s designing as Halston in the show.” Of course, it’s one thing to capture the physical reality of a true-life character, and quite another to infuse that character with an inner life that honors their experience. From the fabulous ferocity he displays in the show’s trailer, the versatile star of movies as wide-ranging as “Trainspotting,” “Moulin Rouge,” and the middle “Star Wars” trilogy looks to have delivered a career-topping performance – and if there’s any doubt whether he can convey the authenticity required to illuminate the drive that took Halston to the pinnacle of the fashion world when it was still run by a conservative and closed-minded “boys’ club,” his delivery of the line, “I’ve been an outsider my entire life, till one day I just stopped giving a flying fuck,” should put it to rest. With what could become one of the season’s most acclaimed performances at the center, and its sumptuous depiction of an iconic era through San Juan’s costumes and the worldbuilding of production designer Mark Ricker, “Halston” looks to be a benchmark for “prestige” TV in 2021. In any case, thanks to the enduring fascination its subject and his legacy still hold for millions of fans and admirers, queer and straight alike, it’s sure to be at the top of a lot of “must watch” lists when it debuts on May 14.

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Laundry is his love language

New book explores author’s fascination with clean clothes By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

Tomorrow’s outfit is on a chair over there. That’s where it’s been since you last washed it. What you wore today came from a basket and off a hanger, the shirt needed ironing, there was a tiny stain on the pants but who noticed? and you just bought new socks, so there’s that. Time to do the wash? Yeah, but get a load of this: “Laundry Love” by Patric Richardson (with Karin B. Miller). In one of his earliest memories, Patric Richardson’s uncle holds him aloft so that Richardson could watch laundry swimming in the washer. He was almost a baby then, but the fascination was set: at age three, Richardson was “over the moon” when he received a toy washing machine as a birthday gift. He remembers that it was Harvest Gold. Growing up, Richardson absorbed washday secrets from an extended family of women and he learned the appeal of laundry hung on a line outside. While at the University of Kentucky, he met three professors who taught him about textiles, and employers educated him further. Love of fabric eventually became Richardson’s career and laundry is his love-language: “caring for your loved ones’ clothes shows them love.” The first thing to know, Richardson states, is that “our clothes are bossy.” If something you enjoy wearing says “Dry Clean Only” on the label, lay it on the kitchen counter, grab a pair of scissors, and cut that label off because, “anything can be washed at home.” Here, you’ll learn how to save time on wash day. Find out why big-brand-name detergents are unsafe, and see what you need to care for your clothes properly. Learn to iron, eliminate horrible stains, wash woolens and other awkward-to-clean items, and see how to rescue yellowed linens and special-event clothing like a pro. Remember, says Richardson: “You don’t have to do laundry – you get to do laundry.” These days, though, author Patric Richardson doesn’t “get to” very often. His husband, he says, does their wash while Richardson runs a clothing store and offers “Laundry Camp” at the Mall of America. But since not everyone can be a

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happy camper, there’s “Laundry Love.” If you’re thinking that a book about joyfully washing clothes would be a mighty skinny book, you’re right but laundry is only a part of this story here. The rest is biography, and a love-letter to Appalachain and southern women. In giving props to the women who raised him, Richardson shows how his interest in fabric grew, too; the subject of textiles, which may be perceived as mundane by many, is treated in this light as something precious and accessible. If you come for the biography, you’ll be glad you stayed for the hints as Richardson shows how even the most delicate items can be safely home-cleaned. That fur you love? Done. That stinky-perfumed vintage item you found? Clean. Ahhhhhhh, so pick up the undies in the corner, use grandma’s linens, shop thrift stores with impunity. Go ahead, fear-free. Having “Laundry Love” should take a load off your mind.

‘Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore’ By Patric Richardson with Karin B. Miller c.2021, Flatiron Books | $25.99/185 pages

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Rehoboth Beach welcomes Christopher Peterson back Drag legend to perform weekly beginning July 4 By PETER ROSENSTEIN

Christopher Peterson will celebrate 25 years of performing his brilliant show EYECONS when he brings it back to Rehoboth Beach this summer. He will be at Clear Space Theatre every Saturday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. from July 4 to Sept. 5. I have seen the show a number of times over the years from when he performed at the Renegade showroom (youngsters may not remember the Renegade out on the highway) to now at the Clear Space Theatre, so I am biased in saying it is always worth the price of a ticket. In fact it is worth a lot more because Christopher is an amazing talent. In addition to his own show he can be seen in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” at Clear Space.

Drag legend CHRISTOPHER PETERSON (Photo courtesy of Peterson)

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Christopher. He has lived in Key West, Fla., for years and performs there during the winter and when he isn’t booked around the country. Christopher told me he was born Moncton, New Brunswick but grew up in Halifax (actually Dartmouth across the harbor) Nova Scotia, Canada 58 years ago. We talked about gay life today and I asked him when he came out and he responded: “in the womb.” He told me he always knew who he was even before he knew you could call it gay. He told me he was lucky and grew up in a family that always accepted him for who he was. I asked him if he was excited about coming back to Rehoboth and he told me he sometimes thought of this as his final ‘widow tour’ as it is his first time back at the beach since he lost the love of his life, James Mill, in September of 2019. They were together for 35 years and James was not only his partner in life but in business. Many in Rehoboth knew James and will miss seeing him at Christopher’s side. He was a beautiful man. Christopher has been called North America’s greatest female impersonator and though I haven’t seen all of them, I have seen enough to thoroughly concur with that. He

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not only impersonate the characters, he seems to become them. He never lip-syncs but sings their songs and talks in their voice. Christopher once said his only vocal training was in high school and in church choirs but you would never know that when listening to him sing. Christopher also designs all of his own costumes and they are incredible. It’s amazing how quickly he can change from Marilyn Monroe and become Cher with just a new gown and new wig that he has stashed in the closet at the side of the stage. The transformation is mesmerizing. Over the years he has impersonated so many iconic women, including Marilyn Monroe, Carol Channing, Madonna, Joan Rivers, Reba McEntire, Bette Midler, Tina Turner, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Cher, Bette Davis, and Lucille Ball. He will add a new character once in a while if he feels comfortable having tried them out — one being Lady Gaga. I asked him if he has a favorite character and he said, “That’s like asking me if I have a favorite child. These are all my children and they each represent something special to me.” He said, “as an example Streisand is the voice and Garland is the heart.” I remember he was once quoted as saying Judy Garland is his favorite to do and since he told me she represents the heart it didn’t surprise me as Christopher has a big heart. He often saves her for the end of the show and when you see her you leave wanting more. I asked Christopher about the weirdest thing that ever happened during his show. He told me the story about an evening during the show, when he talks with an audience member, he leaned over the stage and began to chat with a table on the right of the stage and asked an older gentleman, Christopher called him Mary, how he liked the show. After saying he loved it the next thing Christopher saw was Mary keeling over. Turns out he had a heart attack. Christopher said he told the audience there would be a pause in the show and asked if there was a doctor in the house. One came forward and attended to the man and called 911. The gentleman seemed to recover and after they took him out on a stretcher the show went on. Christopher said this has happened more than once at his shows. Maybe it’s the excitement. I asked him if any of the women he impersonates have been to see the show and was surprised when he said no. I would think any of those still alive would be honored to see how Christopher does them and shows them off so well. This will be an exciting summer in Rehoboth and Christopher is prepared for visitors to come to the show and still follow any restrictions in effect for the pandemic. The theater has said it will continue to abide by all COVID restrictions in order to ensure the safety of both the actors and the audience. Clear Space Theatre has been doing this all winter and doing it safely. I urge anyone who has never seen Christopher Peterson to get your tickets early as anyone who has seen him will be buying tickets to his shows and you don’t want to miss this chance to have a great fun evening in the theater.

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‘Blindness’ explores a terrifying new pandemic

Sidney Harman Hall production features immersive sound, light installation By PATRICK FOLLIARD


Through June 13 Shakespeare Theatre Company Sidney Harman Hall 610 F St., N.W. $44-54 Shakespearetheatre.org Masks and social distancing, yes, but I never expected a return to live theater to include a stage without actors and an audience seated onstage. But that’s exactly how it went it down on a recent sunny Saturday morning in Washington. We longed for something, and after a year of indisputably warranted darkness, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) has obliged by reopening Sidney Harman Hall with Donmar Warehouse’s terrifyingly enthralling production of “Blindness,” an immersive sound and light installation anchored by Juliet Stevenson’s astonishing recorded vocal performance heard — jarringly, soothingly, eerily — through binaural headphones. Adapted by Simon Stephens from Nobel Prize winner José Saramago’s same-titled dystopian novel, and staged by Walter Meierjohann (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”), the London born, 75-minute tale begins with narrator Stevens matter-of-factly relaying the details surrounding the outbreak of a pandemic that causes blindness. What starts off as an alarming, isolated incident, rapidly devolves into something all-encompassing and petrifying. Uncannily, Saramago’s 1995 book, both looks back to plague stories and prophetically toward COVID-19. In addition to narrator, Stevenson (an Olivier Award-winning stage actor also known for films like “Truly, Madly, Deeply”) plays the wife of an ophthalmologist whose office is where patient zero spreads the disease to various other patients – a little cross-eyed boy, an alluring young woman hiding a case of conjunctivitis behind dark sunglasses, a thief, an older gent sporting an eye patch, and sundry others. The doctor’s wife, who is immune to the new sight-stealing disease, is doomed/ blessed to become the lone eyewitness to violence, injustices, and death as the situation becomes progressively scary, primitive, and dangerous. Rather than darkness, the afflicted are submerged into a world of milky whiteness. The pandemic – a new pathogen whose means of transmission is unknown – moves 3 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • MAY 07, 2021

The audience takes the stage in ‘Blindness.’ (Photo by Helen Maybanks)

quickly throughout the city, then the nation, and beyond. Early in the outbreak, the health ministry is reluctant to get too involved, choosing instead to minimize the seriousness of what’s happening. Sounds familiar, I know. Like the story, Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting design becomes increasingly menacing as things move along. Originally playfully colorful fluorescent tubes suspended high from the ceiling, they turn stark white and are lowered to audience members’ line of sight. Then they are darkened altogether, interrupted by occasional bright colorless flashes. Through headphones, the audience hears rain storms, harsh announcements, barricades being dragged, screams, sobs, footsteps, and gunshots. At times, Stevenson whispers in your ear. Once, I mechanically answered “Yes, I’m here.” Masked, seated often in total darkness, headphones, it’s immersive, sometimes claustrophobically so. (If it becomes too much, there’s a flash light attached to the leg of each metal chair. Turn it on and an usher will escort you off the stage.) During the pandemic STC has developed health and safety measures that include masks, air filtration, social distancing, etc. For “Blindness” only 40 patrons are allowed per viewing. No one is seated next to someone outside of their own party, and a limited number of single tickets are available for purchase by calling the box office. Headsets, seats, and flashlights are disinfected before every performance, and all bathrooms and lobby spaces will be cleaned prior to the next seating group enters the building. Exiting the Harman, you might think how odd it is to have been on stage before the actors’ union has allowed them to perform indoors before a live audience. Outdoors, the warm wind feels invigorating against your face as you walk down the street. Still, the nearby upscale Mexican restaurant’s windows remain boarded and the half dozen people around you are walking determinedly, all - except one – wearing a mask.


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Real estate’s occupational hazards

“You should write a book.” I hear that a lot from clients and friends when I tell a real estate story that most people wouldn’t believe unless they had experienced something similar. My colleagues understand. Most of us have stories about Cujo-like pets, lost keys and stubborn lockboxes and unusual things we have experienced in the industry. And lest we forget, what would any Great American Novel be without sex? Showing instructions will often say, “Don’t let the cat out.” You will gingerly open the front door hoping the cat is not on alert waiting to escape as you go in the house. If the cat happens to get out despite your best efforts, the natural inclination is to get the cat and put it back in the house. If you are By VALERIE M. BLAKE successful, one of two things will happen: first, you will have to stop at the drug store to purchase some Neosporin to dress your wounds or second, you may get a call from the seller’s agent asking why there is an extra cat in the house. Playing “find the lockbox” is a rewarding game we play, but like a mouse looking for the cheese, there can be dead ends and pitfalls. On one excursion, the box was yet to be found when my client and I spotted a gate to a rear door. We walked over, I pressed the gate latch, and we were in. Unfortunately, the lockbox wasn’t to be found. So, what do you do? You go back to the gate and press the latch to get out, right? Except some DIY-er has installed a one-way latch. Your client tries to call her mother, who is down the street in the car with the air conditioning on, listening to a Barry Manilow CD. Oops! Her phone is back in the car with Mom. You call the listing agent and get voicemail. You sit down on the concrete bench to think. Concrete bench, you say? Yes, a 450-pound concrete bench, which we push over next to the gate. My client, who is taller than I, stands on it and I boost her over the top of the gate. Finally, we have completed our exit strategy! We never did get into the house. You never know who you might find in a house either, especially since COVID-19 restricted the number of people who could be there during a showing to three. I’m sure that didn’t count the vagrant who ran out the back door and left the gas burners he had been using for heat on or the construction workers who left their burger wrappings and half consumed shakes in the bedroom. Agents can get pretty touchy when you lock them out during your 15-minute showing appointment (yes, that’s a thing now). It gets worse when they find you on your knees with your butt in the air, using a wire hangar (sorry, Mommie Dearest) to try to pull a key up through a 1/8th inch space between deck boards on the front porch where you dropped it. (The owner ultimately came over with another key.) Sometimes, you have to put your Sherlock Holmes cap on and search for a special feature that is listed on the fact sheet. “Storage near the front door” could actually be an elevator shaft that was never completed. And sometimes, you open a door to an eave in the attic and find your client’s 9-year-old wide-eyed looking in and saying, “This must be where they play Dungeons and Dragons” as her mother drags her out of the room. Many of us have run across the startled tenant or homeowner who doesn’t get the notification about an appointment. We find them sleeping naked or simply hiding under the covers, flushing the toilet, taking a shower, or in the throes of passion. Despite my habit of calling out, “Real Estate” when opening a front door, sometimes they just can’t hear me. Years ago, I had a listing appointment with a man who, after keeping me waiting on the porch for 20 minutes, opened the door wearing nothing but a shower wrap and a soap-on-arope. I didn’t bother to reschedule. Then there was the geriatric nymphomaniac who proceeded to snort lines of cocaine from atop the marble countertop in the kitchen as we discussed selling her house while the pool boy hung out in the nearby cabana. By the way, has anyone heard from him? I’ll go check.

From being locked out to walking in on naked sellers


is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202- 246-8602, email her via www.DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

Accessing locked homes for sale presents all sorts of potential problems when showing homes.

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Let Michael Guide You Home

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Gay Men for research study My name is James Hersey; I am conducting research to gain insight into the aging experience among Openly Gay Generation X Men. This study is part of my doctoral education program at the Harold Able School of Psychology at Capella University. If you are a gay man born & living in the US (exclusive of military service), have been openly gay from the age of 25, were born between 1965 & 1980, & are willing to commit to a one hour video interview you are eligible. To enroll in the study, or if you have any questions please contact me at gaygenxresearchstudy@ outlook.com This study is not right for you if you were born in a different generation, are straight/bisexual/questioning, not raised in the U.S., or came out after the age of 25.


COUNSELING FOR LGBTQ People. Individual/couple counseling with a volunteer peer counselor. GMCC, servicing since 1973. 202-580-8661. gaymenscounseling.org. No fees, donation requested.


HOUSING SHARE/ DC GWM ISO SAME TO SHARE ELEGANT home in SW DC. Utilities, maid & parking are included. W/D, DW, Filtered Water/ ice machine, cable & WiFi, garden (but no yard work), outdoor galleries for tanning, cocktails, etc. Friendly, but non- intrusive, housemate/landlord. Rent reduced. Please call Bruce (202) 4884888. Thank you!




THE MAGIC TOUCH: Swedish, Massage or Deep Tissue. Appts 202-486-6183, Low Rates, 24/7, In-Calls.

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202-244-0903 socialanxietyhelp.com

See website for NPR story on my work


MAGNIFICENT EFFICIENCY $230,000 Dupont Circle EfficiencyCondominium. Seller willing to PROOF #2 contribute to closing ISSUEcosts. DATE 170414 SALES REPRESENTATIVE PHIL ROCKSTROH prockstroh Contact Ron Ziegel (240) 949-4445 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 of The Jane Fairweather Team the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts REVISIONS llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is (240) 223-4663 with Long andomnimedia Foster REDESIGN responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users can through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or any TEXT REVISIONS (310) 907-7600 link 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.



Larry Cohen, LICSW

33 years serving the LGBT community



Free Estimates, paving/asphalt, concrete, brick, flagstone, chimneys, driveways, patios, walkways, walls and foundations. Drainage systems, repairs & maintenance. http:// capitolhillmasonry.com Call Frank 202-931-8889.

Results-Oriented • Affordable



Since 1987. Gay & Veteran Owner/ Operator. 2016 Luxury BMW 750Li Sedan. Proper DC License & Livery Insured. www.KasperLivery.com. Phone 202-554-2471.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy


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


is looking for dedicated individuals to work as Direct Support Professionals assisting intellectually disabled adults with behavioral & health complexities in our residential location in the District of Columbia & Maryland. Job Requirements Ability to lift up to 75 lbs. Completion of required trainings prior to hire, Completion of Trained Medication Certifications (TME) and/or CMT (Certified Medication Technician) within 6 months of hire, Cleared DOH background Check prior to hire, Valid Driver’s License, Valid CPR & FIrst Aid, NEgative COVID-19 test results prior to start of work (taken within 3 days prior to date of hire). COVID-19 vaccination within 45 days of hire. Contact the Human Resources Department @ 202-832-8787 for further information.



of Dupont Bright & Sunny Jr. 1 BR was masterfully renovated in 2020. Kitchen feat. beautiful Quartz countertop, SS appliances. The General Scott has a lovely Green Roof w/ a Deck, a 24- Hour concierge. Robert Sabanosh, Phone: 202-2139979, RLAH.

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