Washingtonblade.com, Volume 52, Issue 26, June 25, 2021

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D.C. reckons with anti-Blackness, gentrification after Nellie’s incident Preston Mitchum among those calling for boycott of U Street bar By PRINCE CHINGARANDE

A video posted to Twitter earlier this month showed a member of Nellie’s Sports Bar’s security detail dragging Keisha Young, a 22-year-old Black woman, down the stairs by her hair after confusing her with a different customer who had reportedly tried to sneak liquor into the bar. The video went viral, attracting massive online attention, including from Mayor Muriel Bowser and many others. A second video that appears to show an altercation between Young and other patrons seconds before security dragged her down the stairs has also emerged. “Obviously, entrepreneurs enforce rules in their restaurants, but they’re not allowed to assault anybody,” Bowser told the Washington Post. “If that’s a matter for the Metropolitan Police Department, we’ll take it up.” In a Facebook post that has since been deleted, Nellie’s responded to the surfacing of the video. “We were incredibly upset and disturbed to see the unfortunate event that took place at Nellie’s last night,” referring to the June 12 incident. “We are undergoing a full investigation of the situation. At Nellie’s, we foster an inclusive and safe environment, so events like this are completely unacceptable to us.”

PRESTON MITCHUM, director of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, is a former avid Nellie’s patron who has called for a boycott of the bar.

The statement garnered negative reactions online, forcing Nellie’s to issue a followup statement, part of which read, “We offer a heartfelt apology to all who witnessed the horrific events of the past weekend … Nellie’s will be closed this week as we evaluate this regrettable situation.” Since Nellie’s closed and a protest in solidarity with Young was staged outside the bar on June 13, the queer community has been forced to reckon with what some describe as Nellie’s history of racist practices, as well as D.C.’s increasing gentrification. Accusations of racism at Nellie’s are not new. Whitman-Walker Health in a June 15 tweet noted the incident that involved Young “is not the first time we have heard calls for respect for Black patrons of Nellie’s Sports Bar.” The Capital Pride Alliance in its statement about what happened to Young said Nellie’s response “will impact the CPA’s relationship with Nellie’s.” “Over the years, the culture [at Nellie’s] became one that seemed hell-bent on pushing Black patrons out and making it a bar more for straight people and white gay men. In fact, [owner] Doug Schantz has gone on record calling his bar ‘straight-friendly’,” said Preston Mitchum, director of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project and a former avid Nellie’s patron. Mitchum moved to D.C. in 2011 and started frequenting Nellie’s because of its reasonably priced drinks, which “sounded good” to him as a then-25-year-old

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professional. On the alleged racial profiling at Nellie’s, Mitchum added, “I noticed that when more Black people went, particularly on Sundays, security increased. That always felt peculiar because Friday and Saturday nights were packed and had less security, based on observation. Staff also paid minimal attention to the interactions [between] white patrons. In short, there were many racist interactions and drunken behavior, and no one moved a muscle.” Mitchum also claims that Black patrons were treated poorly compared to white customers in similar situations. He recalls incidents in which police officers were called on Black patrons and they were kicked out whereas many white patrons received warnings or “had fights broken up.” Nellie’s in 2018 was embroiled in controversy over its display of a Blue Lives Matter flag on social media. FOX 5 reported Nellie’s claimed to display the flag in support of LGBTQ officers who were “attending a meeting in a welcoming space.” However, many on social media were enraged by the display of the flag, which is viewed as opposing the Black Lives Matter movement, which hinges on advocating for victims of police brutality, and more importantly, reforming or abolishing the police and replacing it with community security efforts to reduce instances of racial profiling and Black deaths. As a Black customer invested in making Nellie’s safer for him and the rest of the POC queer community, Mitchum said he participated in a number of measures to help change the culture at Nellie’s. In a Facebook post published on his page, Mitchum wrote, “Myself and others have written letters, did interviews, conducted ‘sensitivity’ trainings, met with the owner, and even planted ourselves as observers to document our experiences.” The efforts, however, were in vain, as according to Mitchum, Schantz did not take the efforts seriously. For instance, Mitchum in June 2017 met with Schantz and his manager to discuss the issues at Nellie’s and to draft solutions moving forward. The meeting proved futile as Mitchum notes in a letter to Schantz, made public on social media, that among others things, asserts that Mitchum experienced rudeness from Schantz’s manager and that Schantz uttered statements with racist undertones. “I have revisited our conversation many times and I’m still unsure of the purpose of your manager at our May 30 meeting. Not only did it create an attacking atmosphere of two-on-one, she was your ‘yes woman’ thus another person to shut down my opinion because it didn’t jive with both of yours,” penned Mitchum. Mitchum added, “I hope you can genuinely realize that you equated hip-hop music (that uses “fuck” and the N-word) to violence … there is no valid statistical proof that creates a casual relationship between rap music and violence. Even as I pressed this fact, your response (as well as your manager’s) was ‘it’s his/my bar’ so you can play any music you like.” Given the lack of change in culture at Nellie’s and the recent incident involving Young, Mitchum and others have called for a boycott of the bar. A protest was staged outside Nellie’s on June 13. The Georgetown Voice reports that Nee-Nee Taylor, co-conductor of Harriet’s Dreams (a Black-led community defense organization) said, “we ask the people to protest and boycott Nellie’s because the owner, who is a white man, don’t care about Black women.” The Georgetown Voice also reports that Mitchum, who was present at the protest, “accused Nellie’s of relying on the business of Black patrons and gentrifying the local community while failing to care for its Black employees and patrons.” As Mitchum reflects on how venues safe for Black LGBTQ people are disappearing, he mentions, “What was once ‘Chocolate City,’ we now see a city hovering around 50 percent Black. That’s intentional. I live a few blocks from U Street and anyone need not to be in the area to understand just how much the landscape has shifted.” Regarding places to frequent now, Mitchum recommends Mr. Braxton’s Bar and Restaurant; Hook Hall; BIN 1301; and Fireplace. The Washington Blade has reached out to Schantz for a response to Mitchum’s allegations but did not receive a response. (Michael K. Lavers contributed to this story)

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Lesbian, trans Defense nominees sail through confirmation hearings will transform perceptions of LGBTQ people within Two nominees, one lesbian and one transgender, the ranks of the U.S. military, but also among the sailed though a breezy confirmation hearing last leaders of militaries we work with around the Wednesday for high-ranking positions at the world.” Defense Department. No member of the committee objected to — or Among the five nominees questioned before even pointed out — the sexual orientation or gender the Senate Armed Services Committee were identity of the nominees. In fact, Sen. James Inhofe Shawn Skelly, who’s transgender and nominated (R-Okla.), who had openly called for codifying the to become assistant secretary of defense for transgender military ban into law as opposed to readiness, and Gina Ortiz Jones, who’s a lesbian reversing it, notably recognized Skelly’s gender and nominated to become under secretary of the identity by referring to her as “Ms. Skelly” when Air Force. addressing her. The LGBTQ nominees for the high-ranking posts Questions, instead, comprised issues related to stand out in the wake of the Biden administration the U.S. military, including rooting out “extremism” enacting to reverse the transgender military ban in the military, competition with China, access to enacted under President Trump, as well as the care at medical facilities and the U.S. military being coming anniversary of the lifting of “Don’t Ask, the biggest single consumer of fossil fuels. Don’t Tell.” Skelly, in her opening statement, said she was Both Jones, a former Air Force pilot, and Skelly, GINA ORTIZ JONES and SHAWN SKELLY enjoyed a breezy confirmation “simultaneously humbled and inspired” over a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, served in the hearing last week. (Blade file photos) being nominated for the role as assistant secretary U.S. military at times when they would have been of defense for readiness, which includes being discharged due to their sexual orientation or responsible for recruitment, career development, pay and benefits, and oversight of the gender identity. state of military readiness. Jones made a reference to serving under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as part of her opening “As a retired Naval flight officer, the importance of the department safety and statement for the confirmation hearing. professional military education programs, and the manner in which they support the “My experience in the Air Force was hindered by the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, yet readiness of the total force are deeply ingrained in me, and if confirmed, I will ensure I to remain undeterred because of my desire to serve our country,” Jones said. “That they receive the priority and focus they deserve,” Skelly said. experience cemented my resolve to ensure anyone ready and able to serve can do so Jones and Skelly are two of three pending LGBTQ nominees for high-ranking Defense to their full potential and accordingly our country’s fullest potential.” positions. The other is Brenda “Sue” Fulton, a lesbian who had advocated for “Don’t Annise Parker, CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a statement the nominations of Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and was nominated to become assistant secretary of defense for the LGBTQ individuals to high-ranking Defense roles is significant. manpower and readiness. “These two trailblazing nominees demonstrated their deep military expertise and It wasn’t immediately clear why Fulton wasn’t among the nominees questioned on qualifications before the committee and we know their experiences as LGBTQ people Wednesday even though she was nominated at the same time. The Senate Armed will shape their leadership in these critical positions,” Parker said. “Their performance Services Committee didn’t respond Wednesday to the Washington Blade’s request for was a powerful testament to the progress our military and nation has made – just one comment. decade after the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – and is an important moment for CHRIS JOHNSON LGBTQ service members who served or continue to serve in silence. Their confirmation

White House meeting with LGBTQ leaders renews hope for Equality Act A White House meeting with senior Biden administration officials has left leaders of LGBTQ advocacy groups with renewed hope in their efforts to pass the Equality Act, even though the legislation continues to languish in the U.S. Senate with no plans for an imminent vote. The meeting with LGBTQ advocates, which took place Monday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, marked the first time in the Biden administration an in-person meeting took place with LGBTQ advocates, who have previously held virtual meetings in the time of coronavirus. News of the meeting was made public after the White House issued a formal readout of the discussion late Monday. The readout highlighted the Equality Act, legislation that would expand the prohibition on anti-LGBTQ discrimination under federal civil rights law, as a key component of the discussion. Advocates shared their perspectives on the urgency and importance of Congress extending long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans by passing the Equality Act and shared the efforts their organizations are undertaking to get the bill to the president’s desk,” the readout says. LGBTQ participants in the meeting who spoke with the Washington Blade kept their cards close to their vests on the details on the discussion. One participant, for example, said there were different assessments and intelligence on the path forward for the Equality Act, but declined to offer details. Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign and one of the participants in the meeting, said in a statement to the Blade it demonstrates “passing the Equality Act is a priority for this administration, and our discussion included ensuring we can work together to identify the votes to move the bill through the Senate and onto President Biden’s desk.”


“The administration has continued to be a proactive partner in advancing LGBTQ protections across the board and an outspoken champion for equality,” David said. “We look forward to more dialogue and progress in partnership with the White House.” It doesn’t seem the meeting produced anything dramatic in terms of new direction for the Equality Act. One observer close to the meeting said it wasn’t geared toward making major decisions and was more a showing of White House support for the LGBTQ community. One direct consequence of the meeting, however, is clarification on which senior administration officials are heading up efforts on the Equality Act. The White House identifies three members of the Biden team who participated in the meeting: Susan Rice, director of the Domestic Policy Council; Cedric Richmond, director of the Office of Public Engagement; and Jen Klein, executive director of the Gender Policy Council. The White House didn’t respond to additional inquiries from the Washington Blade following its readout on the meeting, such as who initiated it and the path forward on the Equality Act in the aftermath of the discussion. Kasey Suffredini, CEO of the LGBTQ group Freedom for All Americans and another meeting participant, conveyed in a statement to the Blade the continued importance of the Equality Act. “America is ready for the Equality Act, and after the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ attacks in the states this year, it’s clear our LGBTQ friends, family members and neighbors need protections from discrimination now as much as ever,” Suffredini said. “With public reports of bipartisan discussions happening in the Senate, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to discuss with the White House, as we are doing with all critical stakeholders, the ongoing and paramount importance of passing this legislation.” CHRIS JOHNSON

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In NFL first, Raiders’ Carl Nassib comes out Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out this week, making him the NFL’s only openly gay player. “II just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib said in a video he posted on his Instagram account. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life. I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for. I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know I’m not doing this for attention, but I think representation matters.” Nassib also announced that he is donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. STAFF REPORTS CARL NASSIB came out this week. (Photo courtesy Instagram)

Police describe Wilton Manors Pride incident as ‘fatal crash’ who was in a convertible participating in the The Fort Lauderdale Police Department on parade. Florida Congressman Ted Deutch was Sunday released additional information about also nearby. an incident at a Wilton Manors Pride parade that “Our thoughts and prayers are with those left one person dead and another injured. affected by the tragic accident that occurred A press release notes a 77-year-old man who when the Stonewall Pride Parade was just getting was “a participant who had ailments preventing started,” said Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus him from walking the duration of the parade and President Justin Knight in a statement he issued was selected to drive as the lead vehicle” was after the incident. “Our fellow chorus members behind the wheel of a 2011 white Dodge Ram were those injured and the driver was also part pickup truck that struck the two people near the of the chorus family.” Stonewall Pride Parade’s staging area shortly “To my knowledge, this was not an attack on before 7 p.m. on Saturday. the LGBTQ community,” added Knight. “We “As the vehicle began to move forward in anticipate more details to follow and ask for the anticipation for the start of the parade, the community’s love and support.” vehicle accelerated unexpectedly, striking two Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis initially pedestrians,” reads the press release. “After described the incident as “a terrorist attack striking the pedestrians, the driver continued against the LGBT community,” without any official across all lanes of traffic, ultimately crashing into A screenshot from a video taken at the scene by Joey Spears. confirmation. Detective Ali Adamson of the Fort the fence of a business on the west side of the (Image courtesy of @pinto_spears, via Twitter. Screenshot used with permission from South Florida Gay News) Lauderdale Police Department on Saturday street.” confirmed to reporters that investigators are “working with” the Federal Bureau of “The driver remained on scene and has been cooperative with investigators for the Investigation, but stressed the “investigation is active and we are considering and duration of the investigation,” further notes the press release. “A DUI investigation of evaluating all possibilities.” the driver was conducted on scene and showed no signs of impairment.” “Last evening, at the start of what was to be a celebration of pride for the LGBT The press release confirms the driver and the two people he hit are members of the community and commemoration of our hard-won victories for equality, our community Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus. faced the worst of tragedies. The grief of our LGBT community — and greater Fort Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue transported both victims to Broward Health Medical Lauderdale as a whole — is palpable,” said Trantalis on Sunday in a statement he Center “with serious injuries.” The press release notes one of the victims died shortly posted to his Facebook page. after he arrived at the hospital. “I was an eyewitness to the horrifying events. It terrorized me and all around me. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department, which is leading the investigation, has I reported what I saw to law enforcement and had strong concerns about what not publicly identified the victims and the driver, but the press release describes the transpired — concerns for the safety of my community. I feared it could be intentional incident as a “fatal traffic crash.” The press release notes the second victim remains based on what I saw from mere feet away,” he added. hospitalized at Broward Health Medical Center, but “is expected to survive.” Trantalis added “law enforcement took what appeared obvious to me and others “While no arrests have been made, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department continues nearby and investigated further — as is their job.” to investigate this incident and will not be releasing the names of the involved parties “As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in due to the status of the investigation,” says the press release. “The Fort Lauderdale which a truck careened out of control,” he said. “As a result, one man died, two others Police Department asks anyone who may have witnessed this incident, who has not were injured and the lives of two members of Congress were at risk. My heart breaks already spoken to investigators, to contact Traffic Homicide Investigator Paul Williams for all impacted by this tragedy.” at (954) 828-5755.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS The pickup truck narrowly avoided U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.),


Forever Business without barriers: How TD Bank helps LGBTQ2+ business owners be their true selves. When you’re a business owner, it’s often necessary to have frank and open conversations with your financial professional. By freely discussing your opportunities, challenges and frustrations, your banker can gain a better understanding of the inner workings of your business and recommend the right financial solutions. However, some business owners don’t feel comfortable offering full disclosure to their bankers—including many LGBTQ2+ individuals. They’re simply not open to being “out” to their financial professionals, which can lead to a lack of transparency, poor planning and misguided advice. In addition, credit discrimination is still a sad reality. Until March 2021, when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interpretative rule clarifying sex discrimination under Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and Regulation B, it was legal in 35 states for bankers to decline a loan based on the sexual orientation of the applicant.

A groundbreaking program for the LGBTQ2+ community Wanting every business owner to be properly represented, TD Bank created a program specifically to reach out to the LGBTQ2+ business community. To date, TD remains the only financial institution in the U.S. with a program of this kind. “TD is removing barriers and allowing individuals to be their authentic selves as they discuss their businesses and their financial picture with us,” said Steve Garibell, Vice President and LGBTQ2+ Business Development Officer. “We see ourselves as much more than bankers. We’re a source of trusted advice for businesses that urgently need a voice and an advocate.”

Opening doors to certifications, opportunities and revenue

from the federal government to state governments to Fortune 500 companies—have made commitments to awarding a percentage of their contracts to diverse-owned businesses. Examples of Diverse Business Certifications include LGBT Business Enterprise, Minority Owned, Woman Owned, HUB Zone Business and more.

Joining together to lift up LGBTQ2+ businesses TD has also developed close relationships with organizations like the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). “As I’ve worked to pass more than twenty LGBTQ2+ inclusive laws and policies in more than a dozen states across America, I encourage business owners to take advantage of not just LGBTBE certification from the NGLCC, but also the unique suite of services offered specifically for our communities from TD Bank,” said Jonathan Lovitz, LGBTQ2+ Business Advocate and TD Bank Pride Thought Leader. “Knowing your business is being supported by those with an understanding of what our communities need is such a valuable differentiator.”

It’s all part of TD’s empathetic approach to banking. TD Bank has a longtime reputation for going above and beyond for customers, from longer hours to attentive service to new ways of making banking easier. They call it being “Unexpectedly Human.”

To learn more, contact: Steve Garibell, Vice President LGBTQ2+ Business Development Officer 212-918-4186 | Steven.Garibell@td.com linkedin.com/in/stevengaribell

Helping business owners receive the right financial solutions is only the beginning. Another key aspect of the program involves educating LGBTQ2+ individuals on the Diverse Business Certifications available to them. A wide range of organizations— Member FDIC | TD Bank, N.A.

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U.S. Senate to consider apology for past anti-LGBTQ discrimination

Report shows 70-year history of gov’t persecution, purges of ‘sex deviates’ By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) are preparing to introduce a first-ever resolution calling on the Senate to acknowledge and apologize for the federal government’s discrimination against LGBTQ federal workers and members of the military over a period of at least 70 years. The two senators have agreed to introduce the proposed resolution at the request of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., an LGBTQ group that specializes in archival research into the federal government’s decades-long policy of banning LGBTQ people from working in federal jobs and serving in the U.S. military and purging them when found to be in those positions. The Mattachine Society, in partnership with the international law firm McDermott Will & Emery, prepared a 28-page white paper reporting in extensive detail the U.S. government’s history of what it calls discrimination and persecution of LGBTQ federal workers and LGBTQ military service members. The white paper is entitled, “America’s Promise of Reconciliation and Redemption: The Need for an Official Acknowledgement and Apology for the Historic Government Assault on LGBT Federal Employees and Military Personnel.” In a statement, the Mattachine Society says the paper is the product of a two-year research project involving a team of five attorneys with the McDermott Will & Emery firm and Mattachine Society. “Over many decades, the United States government, led by teams within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and nearly every agency and branch of government, began the process of investigating, harassing, interrogating, court-martialing, terminating, hospitalizing, and, in some cases, criminally prosecuting LGBT Americans for no other reason than their sexual orientation or gender expression,” the paper says. “This wholesale purging left tens of thousands in financial ruin, without jobs, with personal lives destroyed, and, in many cases, completely estranged from their own families,” the paper states. “A straightforward acknowledgement of the mistreatment of these military and civilian employees and an official apology is overdue,” the paper continues. “Both the Congress and the Executive Branch were complicit in this pervasive mistreatment of LGBT citizens.” The paper points out that over the past 30 years Congress has officially acknowledged and apologized on six different occasions for U.S. mistreatment of other marginalized groups. Among the subject areas of those apologies were the enslavement of African Americans, the failure to enforce anti-lynching laws to protect African Americans, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the mistreatment of Native Hawaiians, the mistreatment of Native Americans,

Pioneering activist FRANK KAMENY, who was fired from his government job for being gay, received an apology from the government decades later, but that apology did not extend to the thousands of other LGBT Americans persecuted by their government.

and government polices of exclusion of Chinese immigrants. The paper says the time has come for the federal government to issue its own “acknowledgement and apology” to the LGBT community by following the precedent established by Congress with respect to apologies to the other marginalized groups. Jeff Trammell, a Mattachine Society board member who led the project to prepare the white paper, said Baldwin and Kaine were in the process of lining up other senators to sign on as co-sponsors of the resolution. Baldwin is the Senate’s only out lesbian member. Kaine is a longtime supporter of LGBTQ rights. Trammell said Mattachine of Washington considers the Senate resolution the first step in an ongoing effort to obtain a similar resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives and a possible similar statement of acknowledgement and apology from the executive branch, including the Biden administration. He said he and the resolution’s supporters were hopeful that most senators, including Republicans, would view it as non-controversial and as a nonpartisan measure because it seeks only the acknowledgement of historical facts. Trammell noted that unlike other resolutions of apology pertaining to other minorities approved by Congress in the past, the LGBT apology resolution does not call for any financial reparations. The eight-page proposed resolution addresses


that question by stating, “Nothing in this resolution... authorizes or supports any claim against the United States or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.” Trammell noted that under the Obama administration, John Berry, the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, issued an official government apology for the firing of D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny from his government job in the late 1950s. But Trammell said the apology to Kameny, which was considered important and groundbreaking, did not extend to the thousands of other LGBTQ employees fired or harassed in the years before and after Kameny’s firing. The white paper also points out that at least seven U.S. allied nations have issued apologies for past mistreatment of their own LGBTQ citizens. Among them are Spain, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Brazil, and The Netherlands. “We believe the time has come to understand and acknowledge the historical animus that LGBT federal employees and military personnel faced for generations from their own government to ensure it can never happen again,” Trammell said. The white paper can be accessed here: mattachinesocietywashingtondc.files.wordpress. com/2021/06/mattachine-acknowledgment-andapology-white-paper-6-8-2021.pdf


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Chief Justice JOHN ROBERTS wrote the decision in the Fulton case, which did not find a First Amendment right to discriminate.

Supreme Court ruling in Fulton case limited in scope

Both sides claim victory in 9-0 decision on foster care By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week in favor of a religious-affiliated foster care agency seeking to refuse child placement into LGBTQ homes, issuing a decision with limited reach that determined the City of Philadelphia’s enforcement of a contract with non-discrimination provisions violates freedom of religion under the First Amendment. In a surprise twist, the ruling was unanimous with nine justices on the court agreeing to the result in favor of Catholic Social Services, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the opinion. As noted by SCOTUSblog, the court seemed much more divided in oral arguments, although inclined to rule for the foster care agency. “The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless the agency agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny and violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” Roberts writes. Although Catholic Social Services had also contended a freedom of speech right under the First Amendment to reject same-sex couples, Roberts adds the court didn’t reach a conclusion on that part of the argument. Becket Law, which had argued on behalf of Catholic Social Services, crowed in a statement over its win at the Supreme Court. “It’s a beautiful day when the highest court in the land protects foster moms and the 200-year-old religious ministry that supports them,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket. “Taking care of children, especially children who have been neglected and abused is a universal value that spans all ideological divides. A key portion of the Roberts decision that could limit its reach is language specific to Philadelphia’s contract with the city allowing for discretion on enforcement, which he says means the measure isn’t generally applicable. “Section 3.21 of the contract requires an agency to provide services defined in the contract to prospective foster parents without regard to their sexual orientation,” Roberts writes. “But section 3.21 also permits exceptions to this requirement at the ‘sole discretion’ of the Commissioner. This inclusion of a mechanism for entirely discretionary exceptions renders the non-discrimination provision not generally applicable.” The American Civil Liberties Union, which had argued before the Supreme Court in the case and sided with the City of Philadelphia, claimed a small victory after the decision. “The decision will not affect any foster care programs that do not have the same system for individualized exemptions that were at issue here,” Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project, said in a statement. “This is good news for the more than 400,000 children in foster care across the country, who are the ones who get hurt the most if placement decisions are made based on an agency’s religious beliefs rather than the child’s best interest. And this decision does not allow discrimination in other taxpayer-funded government programs such as homeless shelters, disaster relief programs and health care.” Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of the LGBTQ Catholic group DignityUSA,


initially issued a statement saying the decision opened the door to discrimination against LGBTQ families, but subsequently updated it with a reaction more attuned to the decision’s language. “While we are disappointed in the specifics of today’s ruling, we are relieved that the court did not allow a broad exemption to nondiscrimination provisions in foster and adoption care,” Duddy-Burke said. “It remains deeply problematic that some religiously affiliated agencies continue to seek the ability to ban same-sex couples from opening their hearts and homes to children in need and undermine our hopes for expanding our families. The biases that lie at the heart of this case need to be eradicated.” David Flugman, a lawyer at the New York-based Selendy & Gay PLLC whose practice includes LGBTQ rights, said in a statement the technical nature of the Fulton decision is “sure to invite even more litigation.“ “Today the Supreme Court held, on narrow, technical grounds, that the City of Philadelphia’s attempt to ensure that Catholic Charities abide by the same nondiscrimination provisions applicable to all other city contractors could not withstand Catholic Charities’ religious right to refuse to screen loving same-sex couples to act as foster parents,” Flugman writes. “The Court did not take up Catholic Charities’ invitation to scuttle the 30 year-old test for free exercise claims that was announced in Smith v. Employment Division, which held that a neutral law of general applicability could survive even if it burdens religious practice.” The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the decision of the U.S. Third Circuit of Court of Appeals, which had ruled in favor of City of Philadelphia enforcing its contract with Catholic Social Services. Both the appeals courts and the lower trial court had come to the opposite conclusion of the U.S. Supreme Court. Notably, although the City of Philadelphia in addition to the contract it struck with Catholic Social Services has in place an LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance, the Supreme Court determines that measure doesn’t apply in the context of foster care services because it’s limited to the services “made available to the public.” “Certification is not ‘made available to the public’ in the usual sense of the words,” Roberts writes. “Certification as a foster parent is not readily accessible to the public; the process involves a customized and selective assessment that bears little resemblance to staying in a hotel, eating at a restaurant, or riding a bus.” Fatima Goss Graves, CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement the decision from the Supreme Court “is a harmful loss to the children in the foster care system in Philadelphia as well as the countless LGBTQ parents.” “Weakening the government’s ability to protect their civil rights is hardly in their best interest, and we’re committed to ensuring this loophole is not stretched to further justify hatred or prejudice,” Graves added. “We must protect the right of every person to live without fear of discrimination because of who they are or who they love, and we must hold that value particularly close when it comes to the best interest of LGBTQ youth and the families who love them.”

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Reston Pride 2021 In-person festival returns to Virginia suburb (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

The 2021 Reston Pride Festival was held at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, Va. on Saturday.

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TASHI-KALI ACKET is program manager for Baltimore Safe Haven.

The importance of marching for Black trans lives

Youth deserve to see their allies help create change

I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an ally to the trans community. Identifying myself as an ally, rather than a member of the trans community is important to note. I could never assume a position of resonance, or complete understanding of the struggle and strife of trans folks. As the program manager for BSH, I have witnessed countless justifications, and matter-of-fact necessity, for the Black Trans Lives Matter marches. While escorting my clients to meetings with multiple institutions and organizations, I have often witnessed, even after the first correction, serial misgendering. My clients are young adults between ages 18-24. I fear that the resentment that surely multiplies, both internally and externally, with each misgendering experience, is likely to result in depression and anxiety. To dismiss one’s identity is to erase their existence. It is my duty as an ally, and a leader, to confront these scenarios head on, by identifying and educating misguided professionals, while setting a threshold of accountability during subsequent encounters. Trans youth deserve to know and feel allyship; they deserve to see an ally create change on their behalf. All trans people, including the youth of the community, have the fundamental right to exist and be recognized for who they know themselves to be; visibility matters beyond a community level. This year we lost one of our trans sisters in a cold city jail cell. Kim Wirtz’s life mattered. She was a Black trans woman who had not seen the likes of a courtroom but was sentenced to death, without the allowance of exercising her right to a trial. She was a sister, a daughter, an aunt and a friend. We march for reform, so that our sisters will never be forced into unsafe housing. We need reform and we need it now! No trans woman deserves to be forced to appear male because she is incarcerated. We march for those who started this work before many of us were born. We march in the legacy of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. We march for the youth so they can grow up and be free to be themselves without shame. I ask that you march alongside us, as we inspire and create positive change, and as we churn the oceans of reform on behalf of our trans brothers and sisters, and subsequently, on behalf of all of us.

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Get Covered. Stay Covered.


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

When did ‘moderate’ become a dirty word? Like it or not, most Americans don’t identify as ‘liberal’


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When did the word “moderate” become a dirty word in Democratic politics? One definition of moderate in the Oxford dictionary is “(Of a person, party, or policy) not radical or excessively right- or left-wing.” To me that sounds like what was once called a liberal or someone who worked to get things done. Our nation’s founders set up a government requiring compromise to get anything done — three branches of government with a system of checks and balances. Congress has its own system of checks and balances in that to pass laws and a budget there needs to be agreement between the House and Senate. We have found over the preceding two centuries the American people actually believe in that system often electing different parties to control the Senate and House and rarely have we seen situations where both the executive and legislative branches are controlled by the same party, even then the judicial branch acts as a balance to what they can do. In the long run this system has worked. It works best when people are willing to compromise moving forward at a steady pace without veering dramatically to the left or right. Polling shows most Americans identify as either moderate or conservative, with a smaller share identifying as liberal. Those identifying more liberal identify as Democrats. Why is this important to know? It’s important because the future of what both moderates and progressives want will be determined by how those Democrats running for election in 2022 deal with this information. To see the future we must look at how Democrats are voting in 2021. A column in the Washington Post titled, “Moderate Democrats are winning elections,” gave us an idea. It speaks to the winning ideas of progressives yet explains even Democrats who like progressive ideas end up voting for the more moderate candidate. “Virginia has been the single greatest state-level success story for the progressive agenda in America in recent years. And it happened while Ralph Northam, another establishment figure who beat out a more progressive candidate in his primary, has been governor.” It goes on to suggest moderates will still win. “Is McAuliffe going to be as aggressive as some of his opponents might have been in going even further in a progressive direction? Probably not. But neither is he going to reverse any of that progress; his actions will be constrained by the context progressives created. That’s true at the national level as well, if perhaps not quite to the same extent. But it’s not surprising that progressives are disappointed that the politicians they most support, those in the mold of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are often falling short, especially when they’re running in competitive races. When it comes time to cast their ballots, Democratic voters keep deciding that, although they like progressive ideas, it’s safer to go with candidates with reputations as moderates.” The Democratic Party must face facts the majority of Americans don’t identify with the left-wing of the Democratic Party even if they do support some of their initiatives. They must realize Republicans have been able to use the words of the left to tag the entire Democratic Party as “socialist.” Is this nonsense? Of course it is, but is it fact? Yes! It was borne out by the 2020 elections. Many congressional candidates in swing districts and swing states lost having faced a backlash from the word “socialist” and from slogans like “defund the police.” They couldn’t overcome them. Joe Biden ran as a moderate. He reiterated often he was neither a socialist nor did he believe in defunding the police but he had the benefit of running against Trump and managed to win. I grew up identifying as liberal. I was for universal healthcare when Hillary Clinton proposed it in 1992. I supported the Equality Act well before I came out when Bella S. Abzug (D-N.Y.) introduced it in 1974. I worked for human and civil rights and for the rights of persons with a disability. Today I am labeled a moderate by the Democratic left but I see myself as a pragmatic liberal supporting many progressive ideas but wanting to make constant progress and realizing it can’t be all or nothing. We live in a difficult time with a Trump party, the old GOP, refusing any compromise. So we need to keep the House and add to the Senate in 2022. We need at least a few more moderate Democratic senators who will give us the chance to abandon the filibuster and open the door to real progress.

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B.A. SCHAAFF (they/he) is an attorney in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor and is vice president of Pride at DOL.

Biden administration working for equity in the workplace Celebrating our victories during Pride while continuing fight for change




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Pride month is a chance for LGBTQ+ people to be proud and visible in a world that tells us not to be. Pride month is a chance to celebrate and honor the work of LGBTQ+ people as we fight every day for equity and inclusion in society, in the law and in our workplaces. Thanks to the tireless work of advocates, we’ve had many recent encouraging wins at the national level: Last June, in Bostock vs. Clayton County, the Supreme Court affirmed that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. In January, President Biden issued Executive Order 13988, Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, and another executive order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the federal government, which includes LGBTQ+ persons. He also rescinded a 2020 executive order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping that had a chilling effect on diversity and inclusion training programs among federal agencies and contractors. The Biden-Harris administration has stated strong support for the Equality Act, which would amend existing federal civil rights laws to expressly include non-discrimination protections on the basis of sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), providing security and equality to LGBTQ+ people in accessing housing, employment, education, public accommodations, health care and other federally funded services, credit and more. In March, President Biden became the first U.S. president to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility. In the past year, anti-racism protests have sparked important conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Department of Labor has recommitted to being an inclusive workplace, and continues to offer trainings related to sexual orientation and gender identity, including those related to the use of gender-inclusive language and pronouns. I’ve been proud to provide these trainings and support those efforts as a vice president of Pride at DOL, an affinity group for the department’s LGBTQ+ employees and contractors and our allies. As part of the department’s efforts to implement the sexual orientation and gender identity executive order, our Civil Rights Center – a member of the Title VI/Title IX Interagency Working Group led by the Department of Justice – will serve on the Title IX and Executive Order 13988 Committee. This committee will serve to provide opportunities for interagency collaboration to advance EO 13988’s goal of protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, ensuring the Bostock decision is applied to Title IX and other relevant statutes, and making federal agencies welcoming to LGBTQ+ people. The department is also working to reverse the impact of the prior administration’s executive order on diversity training. Our Office of Federal Contract and Compliance Programs is examining promising practices for diversity training as one component of broader efforts to eliminate bias from employment practices. In addition, the department is conducting an equity review to better understand how well our policies and programs are reaching historically underserved populations, and launched a related data challenge. But there is still more work to do, and our pride can come at a price. Being visible sometimes means being exposed to harassment, discrimination, and violence. This is especially true for transgender people, particularly those who are women and people of color. Equity and inclusion require creating an environment — through language, policies and practices — that not only tolerates but recognizes and affirms people’s identities and relationships. Only with this can employers create a sense of belonging and value in their organization. So as we celebrate Pride month this year and every year, let’s recognize all the work that has been done and that is necessary to keep pushing forward.

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ANDREW ISEN has more than 30 years of experience in brand engagement with LGBTQ consumers and has helped more than 1,000 companies target these consumers and create valuable relationships. He is the founder and president of the award-winning marketing firm WinMarkconcepts.com

Pride is more than a rainbow Companies should create year-round approach to the LGBTQ consumer

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Pride season is here. Tens of thousands of ATMs across the country will sport rainbow adornments, Target and H&M will devote sections of their stores to a panoply of rainbow trinkets and garments, companies from nearly every business segment in America will wish the LGBTQ community a “Happy Pride.” Rainbow flags will be festooned across storefronts nationwide and then disappear. What many companies fail to realize is this annual ritual known as ‘rainbow washing,’ can have unintended negative consequences. Pride is 24/7/365 and companies that relegate their LGBTQ outreach to one month a year are often perceived as pandering and “tokenistic.” What forward thinking marketers understand is the need for brands to talk to the LGBTQ consumer on a year-round basis. So time to move off of the Pride-month-only strategy. A $1 trillion spending engine, LGBTQ consumers are recognized as having the highest discretionary household income, estimated to be 23% above the national average. Recent surveys say that a whopping 20% of trendsetting millennials ages 2534 identify as LGBTQ. The math speaks for itself. The LGBTQ segment is not homogenous or monolithic. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, creating the need for nuanced outreach efforts. Fully, 61% of respondents in a recent poll found that diversity in marketing and advertising was highly important, positively impacting a brand’s bottom line. All aspects of marketing messaging can be customized and delivered to segments and subsegments of the LGBTQ consumer sector through multiple mediums. LGBTQ consumers are highly enthusiastic, recognized as the earliest adopters and greatest influencers representing disproportionate control of a brand’s profitability. Brands should develop emotional connections. Qualitative research shows that ‘positive image enforcement’ leads to positive purchasing decisions. Oreo’s “Proud Parent” outreach and commercial is an of-the-moment illustration, making this connection. This community responds favorably to the perception of being treated equally, as friends or family, rather than as outsiders. Savvy marketers must carefully navigate a fine line, necessitating tactile communication, devoid of stereotypes, while staying laser focused on brand messaging. LGBTQ relatable lexicon and imagery should be employed, wherever possible, to create a stronger bond between a brand and this consumer. This consumer understands sincerity and authenticity. Not to be underestimated is the power and outsize impact of social media ‘influencers’ on brand building and purchasing decisions. LGBTQ influencers have surged on all main platforms, including Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. More than 92% of those aged 18-34 respond that they seek recommendations from a trusted source. Choosing relatable influencers that connect with consumers on emotional levels is key. Impactful LGBTQ ‘champion’ Tyler Oakley, reaching more than 7.5 million followers, connects daily with core consumers’ values and aspirations. The pandemic has forced companies to be creative in their marketing outreach. For example, many alcohol companies are hosting online happy hours and dance events with prominent DJs. A prime example is Jack Daniels’ drag queen hosted virtual entertainment parties. Recently, companies such as Budweiser, Walgreens, IBM and Microsoft, to name a few, have launched consumer specific campaigns representing the ‘world around us.’ Geico’s affectionate portrayal of a male couple is another example of how these sliceof-life moments are all encompassing, reflecting a melting pot of the USA. Sponsorships are also highly effective ways to bond with the LGBTQ consumer. Molson Coors’ Vizzy Hard Seltzer’s $1 million sponsorship of the Human Rights Campaign is extremely visible, as is Kellogg’s collaboration with GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) on its “Together with Pride” cereal launch. When Pride season comes to an end, farsighted companies will cease the 11-month hibernation, and will use 2021 to create a holistic approach to the LGBTQ consumer, talking to them throughout the year. One thing will become crystal clear: These visionary companies will jump over the rainbow into a pot of gold.

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HIV research sped development of COVID vaccine Top NIH official says success in coronavirus will boost AIDS work By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

Since 1996, Carl W. Dieffenbach, who holds a Ph.D. in biophysics from John Hopkins University, has served as director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, which is an arm of the U.S. National Institutes of Health or NIH. In a June 10 interview with the Washington Blade, Dieffenbach gave an update on the extensive, ongoing research into the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine that he has helped to coordinate for many years, including current human trials for a prospective AIDS vaccine taking place in the U.S., South America, and Africa. One thing he feels passionate about is a development not widely reported in the media reports about the successful development of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to Dieffenbach, the extensive research into an AIDS vaccine in recent and past years, while not yet successful in yielding an effective AIDS vaccine, helped lay the groundwork for the rapid development of the different versions of a COVID vaccine. “Because my division runs the largest clinical trials program in the world, we jumped in with both feet to help with coronavirus disease for both vaccines and drugs and things like that,” he said. “And the platforms that were used – the way they are making the coronavirus vaccines – the RNA vaccines with Moderna – were first piloted by NIH and Moderna to try to make an HIV vaccine,” Dieffenbach says. “So, in many ways, the work for the past 25 years that we’ve done in HIV vaccines sped the development of coronavirus vaccines,” he told the Blade. “And now it’s time to take what we’ve learned from coronavirus and take it back to HIV and start afresh or continue with what we have and build upon from what we have learned.” Dieffenbach says one reason the development of a COVID vaccine came about before an AIDS vaccine, despite more than 20 years of AIDS vaccine research, is that the HIV virus is far more complex than the coronavirus, especially its ability to infect and remain embedded in the infected person for life. “Back in 2007 we had the first hint that an AIDS vaccine might be possible with a study called RV144,” Dieffenbach says. “We spent 10 years trying to replicate that, and we just completed that study – a study called HVTN702. And it showed no efficacy,” he said, meaning it did not work. “So that was a big disappointment to us,” he says “But in the meantime, we had pushed forward with the J&J [Johnson and Johnson pharmaceutical company] vaccine and are pretty far along. We’ll see what happens. We should know in the next several months whether the N26 version of an AIDS vaccine, and HIV vaccine works or not,” he says. “We’re very close to an answer.” Washington Blade: Where do things stand in the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine in light of Dr. Fauci’s statement a few weeks ago that the development of a COVID-19 vaccine could provide a boost to developing an AIDS vaccine? Carl Dieffenbach: Sure. So, maybe I can start by introducing myself to you as a way of putting this into a context. So, I’m the director of the Division of AIDS, which is the largest funder of HIV research in the world. And I report directly to Dr. Fauci. So, I’m responsible for all AIDS, all the time. And that is my passion and purpose in life. Part of that is working toward a safe, effective, and durable HIV vaccine, which has been one of the two most challenging questions left in science today. The other is a cure. They are connected in some ways. So, with that as background, when coronavirus disease came along – because my division runs the largest clinical trials program in the world – we jumped in with both feet to help with coronavirus disease for both vaccines and drugs and things like that. And the platforms that were used – the way they are making the coronavirus vaccines – the RNA vaccines with Moderna were first piloted by NIH and Moderna to try to make an HIV vaccine. So, we’ve being working on that platform with Moderna for several years. The leadership at Pfizer used to be part of a group at Penn, where we were also working with them. The J&J vaccine – we currently have in two Phase III clinical trials for HIV, one in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically in young women and the other one in the Americas in men who have sex with men and transgender individuals. Both of those Phase IIIs are moving along. The women’s study is fully enrolled. The men’s study was hit hard by COVID, but we worked through and will be fully enrolled by September. One other vaccine just to talk about is the Oxford vaccine, the AstraZeneca vaccine. That is also using a platform at Oxford University, which has been used for HIV. So, in many ways, the work for the past 25 years that we’ve done in HIV vaccines sped the development of coronavirus vaccines. And now it’s time to take what we’ve learned from coronavirus and take it back to HIV and start afresh or continue with what we have and build upon from where we have learned.

Blade: That’s very interesting. But can we assume, then, from the clinical trials that have taken place for an HIV vaccine that they did not succeed in providing the immunity needed for an effective vaccine? Dieffenbach: So, that’s exactly the problem we have. Back in 2007 we had the first hint that an AIDS vaccine might be possible with a study called RV144. We spent 10 years trying to replicate that, and we just completed that study – a study called HVTN702. And it showed no efficacy. So, that was a big disappointment to us. But in the meantime, we had pushed forward with the J&J vaccine and are pretty far along. We’ll see what happens. We should know in the next several months whether the N26 version of an AIDS vaccine, and HIV vaccine works or not. We’re very close to an answer. ‘In many ways, the work for the past

Blade: So, the human trials are 25 years that we’ve done in HIV vaccines ongoing. sped the development of coronavirus vaccines,’ CARL W. DIEFFENBACH, Ph.D. (Photo credit NIAID) Dieffenbach: Oh, again – the study in young women in subSahara Africa is fully enrolled. The men’s study will be fully enrolled in September. So, we have fought through the coronavirus epidemic to maintain, to nurse these trials along to make sure with the $100 million or so we’ve invested, that we didn’t want them to go down the drain literally because we lost too many people for follow-up. So, this was a herculean effort that has gone on all the time trying to do the vaccine studies for coronavirus disease, which we were also incredibly successful in. Blade: Can we assume all of the people participating in the studies were HIV negative? Dieffenbach: Yes, they’re HIV negative. They are people who are at risk. And also, in South America, for example, the major countries we’re in are Peru and Brazil. And they’ve had a strong research culture with us, going back more than a decade. For example, both of those countries played big roles in our studies of pre-exposure prophylaxis. A study called I-PREX that demonstrated that in men who have sex with men that [a PrEP drug] works well to prevent HIV acquisition in seronegative men who have sex with men. So, we’ve been there. This is a really good setup for the countries, for the citizens that are in those countries that want to avail themselves to the research that has benefited everybody. Blade: Among those who are participating in these ongoing AIDS vaccine trials, can we assume they cannot be taking the PrEP anti-retroviral drugs that have been shown to be highly effective in preventing HIV infection? Dieffenbach: So, what we’ve done is we – everything is by conversation. So, when somebody who is interested in the study comes in, we talk to them. What is your chief interest in being in this study? And a lot of people want to be in the study because then they can access PrEP. They want to make it easier to get a hold of pre-exposure prophylaxis. They feel that is the best way that they can protect themselves. So, in that situation, what we do is we take those people and link them to PrEP services where they can easily get PrEP in their community. So, first it’s taking care of those people. Then there are people who really have no interest in PrEP. And we actually counsel them every time they come in for a study. Are you sure you don’t want to access PrEP? And those are the people we then say, if you’re not interested in PrEP, what do you think about participating in a vaccine trial?


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AIDS @40: White House laughs as gays try to save themselves

An APLA candlelight vigil in 1983. (Photo courtesy APLA Health)

Reagan administration ignored growing epidemic By KAREN OCAMB

Like so many others in California, lesbian feminist Ivy Bottini had high expectations for the federal government to finally intervene in the growing AIDS crisis after the first congressional committee hearing on the mysterious new disease, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman on April 13, 1982. There was very little press coverage of the hearing — held at the Los Angeles Gay Community Services Center on Highland Ave. in Hollywood. But years later, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health recalled a quote reported by the Washington Blade: “I want to be especially blunt about the political aspects of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS),” Waxman said. “This horrible disease afflicts members of one of the nation’s most stigmatized and discriminated-against minorities….There is no doubt in my mind that if the same disease had appeared among Americans of Norwegian descent, or among tennis players, rather than among gay males, the responses of the government and the medical community would have been different.” The gay San Francisco newspaper The Sentinel published a very short brief on April 16 entitled “House Holds Cancer Hearings” about “the gay cancer.” The paper quoted an unnamed subcommittee staffer saying the CDC, “which is coordinating research on the baffling outbreak, ‘should not have to nickel and dime’ for funds.” The brief appeared next to a column written by gay nurse Bobbi Campbell, who wrote about going to The Shanti Project to get emotional support for his KS. Bottini’s takeaway from the hearing was that no one really knew how AIDS was transmitted. She was upset. Her friend Ken Schnorr had died just before the hearing and Bottini had to explain to Ken’s distraught mother that he had not been abused at the hospital — the purple bruises on his body were KS lesions. After weeks of governmental inaction, Bottini called Dr. Joel Weisman, Schnorr’s gay doctor, to update the community at a town hall in Fiesta Hall in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park. Weisman had sent gay patients to Dr. Michael Gottlieb and was one of the co-authors on the first CDC public report about AIDS on June 5, 1981. Bottini later recalled how gay men often thanked her for saving their lives at that packed town hall. Bottini subsequently founded AIDS Network LA, to serve as a clearing house for collecting and disseminating information. But not everyone bought the science-based premise that AIDS was transmitted through bodily fluids — including Bottini’s friend Morris Kight, prompting a deep three-year rift. Nonetheless, groups offering gay men advice on how to have safe sex started emerging, as did peer groups forming for emotional, spiritual and healthcare support. The Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights, Houston’s Citizens for Human Equality and the new Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City published pamphlets and newsletters. Panic and denial were wafting in tandem through gay Los Angeles, too. In Oct. 1982, friends Nancy Cole Sawaya (an ally), Matt Redman, Ervin Munro, and Max Drew convened an emergency informational meeting at the Los Angeles Gay Community Services Center on Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease (GRID, soon to be called AIDS) delivered by a representative from San Francisco’s Kaposi’s Sarcoma Foundation. “My friends and I were in New York in 1981, hearing stories among friends coming down with this mysterious disease. We realized that back home in L.A. there was no hotline, no 2 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JUNE 25, 202 1

medical care, and no one to turn to for emotional support,” Redman told The Advocate’s Chris Bull on July 17, 2001 for a story on the 20th anniversary of AIDS. “For some reason I wasn’t really scared. It was so early on that no one could predict what would happen.” That quickly changed when the friends realized there was no level of governmental help forthcoming. They set up a hotline in a closet space at the Center, found 12 volunteers and asked Weisman to train them on how to answer questions, reading off a one-page fact sheet. The idea was to “reduce fear” and eventually give out referrals to doctors and others willing to help. The four also reached out to friends to raise money, netting $7,000 at a tony Christmas benefit to fund a new organization called AIDS Project Los Angeles. They set up a Board of Directors with Weisman and longtime checkbook activist attorney Diane Abbitt as co-chairs. They gaveled their first board meeting to order on Jan. 14, 1983 with five clients. The following month, APLA produced and distributed a brochure about AIDS in both English and Spanish. Four months later, in May, APLA and other activists organized the first candlelight march in Los Angeles at the Federal Building in Westwood and in four other cities. The LA event was attended by more than 5,000 people demanding federal action. The KS/AIDS Foundation in San Francisco was led by people with AIDS carrying a banner that read “Fighting For Our Lives.” When the banner was unfurled at the National Lesbian and Gay Health Conference that June by activists presenting The Denver Principles, the crowd cried, with a 10-minute ovation. “If the word ‘empowerment’ hadn’t yet been a part of the health care lexicon, it was about to be,” HIV/AIDS activist Mark S. King wrote in POZ. “The group took turns reading a document to the conference they had just created themselves, during hours sitting in a hospitality suite of the hotel. It was their Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence rolled into one. It would be known as The Denver Principles, and it began like this: ‘We condemn attempts to label us as ‘victims,’ which implies defeat, and we are only occasionally ‘patients,’ which implies passivity, helplessness, and dependence upon the care of others. We are ‘people with AIDS.’» While The Denver Principles were injecting selfempowerment into the growing movement of people with AIDS, the Reagan administration was infecting America through mass media association of homosexuality, AIDS and old myths of sexual perversion. Ronald Reagan was keenly aware of his anti-gay evangelical base, appointing Gary Bauer as a domestic policy adviser. Bauer was a close associate of James Dobson, president of the powerful Religious Right group Focus on the Family. Reagan also picked anti-abortion crusader C. Everett Koop as surgeon general — which turned into a mini-scandal when Koop agreed that sexually explicit AIDS education and gay-positive materials should be federally funded for schools. “You cannot be an efficient health officer with integrity if you let other things get in the way of health messages,” Koop told the Village Voice. Koop was slammed by the Moral Majority’s Rev. Jerry Falwell and other anti-gay evangelicals. But perhaps one of the most egregious examples of the Reagan administration’s homophobic callousness toward people with AIDS came from the persistent laughter

emanating from the podium of White House Press Secretary Larry Speakes. On Oct. 15, 1982, less than four weeks after Reps. Henry Waxman and Phillip Burton introduced a bill to allocate funds to the CDC for surveillance and the NIH for AIDS research, reporter Lester Kinsolving asked Speakes about the new disease called A.I.D.S. KINSOLVING: Larry, does the president have any reaction to the announcement — the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases? SPEAKES: What’s AIDS? KINSOLVING: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the president is aware of it? SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter.) KINSOLVING: You don’t have it. Well, I’m relieved to hear that, Larry. (Laughter.) I’m delighted. SPEAKES: Do you? KINSOLVING: No, I don’t….In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke? SPEAKES: No, I don’t know anything about it, Lester. What – KINSOLVING: Does the president, does anybody in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry? SPEAKES: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s been any – KINSOLVING: Nobody knows? SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester. The exchange goes on like that. For another two years. On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2015, Vanity Fair debuted a 7:43 documentary directed and produced by Scott Calonico about that 1982 exchange between Kinsolving and Speakes. But Calonico also found audio of similar exchanges in 1983 and 1984 for his film, “When AIDS Was Funny.” (Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final installment of this special series looking back at 40 years of AIDS. Visit washingtonblade.com for the previous installments.)

40 Years of HIV and Over 40 Years of Community Healthcare 40 Years… ■

Of caring for those who were often turned away.

Of fighting the fear and stigma that came with HIV.

Of advocating for public health support, intervention, and funding.

Of volunteering time, empathy, heart, and dedication.

Of providing substance use treatment services.

Of helping people die with dignity.

f marching passed the White House O and down Freedom Plaza.

And now we have multiple treatments for HIV.

And now we have HIV prescription assistance programs.

That led to volunteering as an AIDS buddy. hat led to the oldest medical-legal partnership T in the nation. hat led to HIV and Hepatitis C clinical research T at Whitman-Walker. hat led to HIV mentorship programs and T HIV peer counseling programs. hat led to creating the AIDS Education T Fund and AIDS Education Hotline. hat led to Max Robinson becoming the namesake of T Whitman-Walker’s clinic in southeast Washington, DC. That led to Magic Johnson sharing his HIV status and increasing HIV awareness in Black communities. hat led to candlelight vigils with Elizabeth Taylor T and Judith Light.

The led to 35 years of AIDS Walks to raise funds to fight HIV – with the 2021 Walk & 5K to End HIV on October 23rd! Register at WalktoEndHIV.org!

And now we HIV prevention tools like PrEP and PEP, condoms, barriers and HIV treatment. And now we have scientifically proven strategies like U=U – which means someone who takes HIV medication consistently and as directed will achieve an Undetectable viral load of HIV, making their HIV Untransmittable to another person through sex. And now we have decades of clinical HIV research that helped pave the way for COVID-19 vaccines that are safe and effective at preventing severe symptoms, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

And now, Whitman-Walker will open a new medical home in southeast Washington, DC – coming to St. Elizabeths in 2023 where we will be able to deliver even more care and services to community! GIVE TODAY AT whitmanwalkerimpact.org/donate2021

That led to the creation of the AIDS Quilt by Cleve Jones and community. That led to local Washington, DC heroes and HIV activists doing their parts to fight HIV. hat led to documenters and photographers T who preserved it all.

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John-Manuel Andriote

has reported on HIV-AIDS as a journalist since 1986. His most recent book, which he calls a bookend for acclaimed debut novel ‘Victory Deferred’, is ‘Stonewall Strong: Gay Men’s Heroic Fight for Resilience, Good Health, and a Strong Community.’ The research materials and recorded interviews for Victory Deferred comprise a special collection curated by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Claiming our power in the HIV-AIDS epidemic

‘It is my experience that our community is heroic’ By JOHN-MANUEL ANDRIOTE

“Unless we fight for our lives, we shall die,” wrote Larry Kramer in the New York Native in March 1983. Before Kramer’s article “1,112 and Counting,” gay people were doing what they could to care for the sick and mourn their dead with quiet dignity. After the article appeared in gay papers across the country, gay people grew increasingly unwilling to be quiet about the deaths of gay men and the preternatural silence about the epidemic from elected officials. In San Francisco, the momentum generated by a July 1984 political march spiraled into support for an independent gay AIDS activist group in San Francisco. Gay community leaders tapped Paul Boneberg, then 31 and president of the Stonewall Democratic Club, to head the new group. Mobilization Against AIDS came into existence in the fall of 1984 with the express goal of organizing street demonstrations, a goal it accomplished by staging monthly protests. Besides its street demos, Mobilization, beginning in 1985, took on the task of organizing the annual AIDS candlelight vigil that the San Francisco People with AIDS Coalition had started in 1983. As the 1980s wore on, and tens of thousands of gay men died with still no effective treatment for AIDS, Larry Kramer’s nerves were shot. In a March 10, 1987, speech Kramer gave at the New York Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, today known as the LGBT Center of New York, he laid into the gay community as only Larry Kramer could. “If my speech tonight doesn’t scare the shit out of you, we’re in real trouble,” he told the group. By then, 32,000 AIDS cases had been reported across the country—nearly a third of them in New York. President Reagan still hadn’t spoken about AIDS to frightened Americans. “If what you’re hearing doesn’t rouse you to anger, fury, rage, and action, gay men will have no future here on earth,” said Kramer. “How long does it take before you get angry and fight back?” The crux of the speech was Kramer’s simple question: “Do we want to start a new organization devoted solely to political action?” The answer was a resounding “Yes!” Two days later, about 300 people again showed up at the center where they formed ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. The group’s first demonstration—a protest on Wall Street against the exorbitant price of just-approved AZT, the most expensive drug ever to that point—introduced what became the group’s distinctive brand of street theater. ACT UP took the camp humor and theatricality of the Gay Liberation Front “zaps” to a whole new level. As Kramer told me in our interview for “Victory Deferred,” “The fact that everybody responded to ACT UP, I think was more just a question of time, and moment, and frustration. It was the right time for it to happen.” As in every catastrophe humans have faced throughout history, there were only two options for gay men when the viral cluster bomb erupted in the community: fight or flight. “AIDS made us choose,” said Paul Boneberg, in our interview in San Francisco for “Stonewall Strong.” “Most chose to stay and fight.” In his characteristically understated manner, Boneberg added, “It is my experience that our community is heroic.” Larry Kramer put it a little differently in our 1995 interview. We talked in the living room of his Fifth Avenue apartment, the setting for some of gay America’s most historic moments, including the world’s first AIDS fundraiser in 1981 and, in 1982, the formation of GMHC, the world’s first AIDS service organization. Reflecting in particular on ACT UP, Kramer said, “Singlehandedly, we changed the image of gay people from limp-wristed fairies to guerrilla warriors.” 3 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JUNE 25, 202 1

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Top researcher says AIDS work sped up COVID vaccine Because they’re the ones who have the most freedom of thought. They don’t have an opinion about the vaccine or about PrEP. So, those are the people we’ve been focusing on and enrolling. So, we’ve been very careful to make sure that if people wanted PrEP they not only have access, but they didn’t feel like somehow having to trade something in order to get it. The freedom to join a study should be a free choice. And it shouldn’t be a coercive thing to get PrEP. So, we just took that off the table and said if you’re truly interested in PrEP we can get you PrEP and make sure that was available. Blade: So, in that case, if they choose PrEP they would not be in the vaccine trial? Dieffenbach: You know, it’s interesting that you ask it in that way. Because you have relationships with your community, many of the investigators have reported that people will say, you know I tried PrEP and it wasn’t for me. It made me gaseous. It upset my stomach. I wasn’t myself. I tried it. I couldn’t make it work for me. I want to stop PrEP. Am I still eligible for the [vaccine] study? And the answer is of course. Many people are very happy on PrEP and they come in for visits occasionally and say this is working for me and just have the relationship with the doctors there, so it works. So, again, it’s about maintaining contact with your communities. Blade: Can you tell a little about what happens next after people become part of an HIV vaccine trial. Do you have to keep in touch with these people, and do they have to get an HIV test periodically? Dieffenbach: Exactly. So, the vaccine consists of a series of injections. It’s a mixture of vector systems that delivers a series of encoded HIV genes that are specifically designed to induce very broad immunity. There’s a whole computer-based process to design those components of the vaccine to make sure that it has sequence similarities with all the different versions of HIV circulating in the globe. And then at the end there is a protein boost. And we carry this out. So, about every three to four months people come in. They get a shot. They fill out questionnaires. They give a blood sample. And they’re tested for HIV and are given a boost or a placebo. And they stay in touch with the clinic. They come in and out of the clinic. And the retention is quite high in these situations because people really like having the attention of the clinic available to them. It’s part of the community.

the target of the study population. So, 705 is all women in sub-Saharan Africa. And in the Americas in North and South America it is all men who have sex with men and transgender individuals. Blade: Can we assume that the researchers that are doing these studies have a sensitivity of LGBTQ people? Is there still an issue where people worry about being outed as being gay or transgender? Dieffenbach: So, many of the sites that we work with have been part of our system for over 20 years. And so, they are trusted members of the LGBTQ community within their cities and states. And ‘states’ is a literal term where it’s a state in Colombia or Peru or Brazil. And so, it is part of the fabric of the gay community in these places. Just like in San Francisco the San Francisco health clinic and the DCF clinics are part and parcel of everything the community does there. And so, the lead physician in San Francisco is Susan Buchbinder. She has been a leader in health in this population for over 25 years or actually closer to 30 years at this point. We’re all getting old. Do you know that? So, we have been at this a very long time. And really have tried to build structures that are durable and therefore are reliable to the community. And that’s where we go back to the same groups time after time. Blade: Have the locations of the vaccine testing sites been released publicly? Dieffenbach: Yes, all of that is publicly available on clinicaltrials.gov. If you go into clinicaltrials.gov and search HVTN705 or HVTN706 you will get a version of the protocol, all the times it’s been modified, where we are – the protocol. All of that is public knowledge and available to you. HVTN705 is the women’s study. HVTN706 is the men’s study. Blade: Is there a timeframe for when these latest vaccine studies might be completed? Dieffenbach: I think within the next several months. We will get an answer out of the women’s study and then the men’s study is probably a year away. We were slowed a little bit because of COVID. We actually had to pause enrollment for several months. But we’re back on track.

Blade: Are any of these AIDS vaccine trials that are going on taking place in the United States? Dieffenbach: Yes. So, the study is called Mosaico. And it’s HVTN706. And we have sites throughout the United States as well as South America. But that study is limited to men who have sex with men – the one in the United States.

Blade: Isn’t there a parallel research effort for an HIV/AIDS cure? Dieffenbach: Yes, we have a very large program in cure research. It is a lot earlier in the discovery process and so it’s still very ‘researchy.’ And we have a very large program called the Martin Delany Collaboratories for Cure Research. Martin Delany was an activist who really pushed NIH in so many wonderful ways to really take the need for a cure seriously. His argument was a cure is the next logical step after effective antiretroviral therapy. You cannot stop with one pill once a day. You’ve got to keep going. And he was pretty persistent. And unfortunately, he died several years go and we just thought the best way to honor him, and his memory was to name a program after him.

Blade: Is it broader than just men who have sex with men in other countries? Dieffenbach: No, so we decided to really focus on specific at-risk populations. So, in the Americas we chose to focus on men who have sex with men and transgender individuals. And sub-Saharan Africa we focused on young women because that is

(Editor’s note: Next week, in the second and final installment of his interview with the Blade, Dr. Dieffenbach discusses the progress in research and studies into an HIV/AIDS cure and explains from a scientific standpoint why an HIV vaccine is taking longer to develop than a COVID vaccine.)

Blade: So, they go to a clinic for all of this? Dieffenbach: It’s a research clinic. It’s not like a state-run health clinic. It’s a research clinic. Clinic is just a term for where people are seen.

3 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JUNE 25, 202 1

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‘Rainbow Milk’ by Paul Mendez is being adapted into a TV series.

Catching up wth ‘Rainbow Milk’ author Paul Mendez Widely praised novel began as memoir By KATHI WOLFE

In 2004, Black, gay writer Paul Mendez, then 22, was in London, studying acting. To pay for the acting classes, he was a sex worker. Today, Mendez, now 39, is one of the hottest authors on the literary scene. His debut novel “Rainbow Milk,” published in the United Kingdom last year and released this month in the United States, has received wide praise. The BBC, the Observer and other U.K. outlets put “Rainbow Milk” on their best books of 2020 lists. Recently, Mendez spoke with the Blade on FaceTime about a range of topics. Mendez grew up in a working class family as a Jehovah’s Witness in Dudley, a town in an industrial region called the Black Country in the West Midlands, a county in central England. His grandparents came to the U.K. from Jamaica as part of the Windrush generation. The term “Windrush generation” refers to people from Caribbean countries who emigrated to the U.K. between 1948 and 1971. They were encouraged to come to the United Kingdom because of labor shortages after World War II. Yet, they encountered racism and hostility to immigration when they arrived in the U.K. Because of his sexual orientation, Mendez was “disfellowshipped” by his Jehovah’s Witness family and church. Now, Mendez lives in London with his partner Alan Hollinghurst. Hollinghurst, a novelist, was born in Stroud in Gloucestershire, England in 1954. He was awarded the Man Booker Prize for his novel “The Line of Beauty.” “Rainbow Milk” begins in the 1950s. Norman and Claudette, middle-class newlyweds in Jamaica emigrate to England. They’re part of the Windrush generation. They hope there future will be better in the U.K. But, on arriving there, they encounter racism and have trouble finding suitable work. When Norman starts to lose his eyesight, the family’s survival is at risk. Norman narrates this part of the novel in the first person. The rest of “Rainbow Milk” takes place 50 years later. Here, we meet the protagonist of the novel: Jesse McCarthy, a young Black, gay British man. Jesse is Norman’s grandson. Jesse’s mother is Black and his stepfather is white. He’s never known his father who left the family when he was a baby. He and his working-class family, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, live in the industrial region of the Black Country. Nineteen-year-old Jesse is bright and a devout Jehovah’s Witness. He is considered to be a potential leader by members of the church. But Jesse begins to think he might be queer. He knows he needs to keep this a secret. His attempt at secrecy fails. Jesse is disfellowshipped by Jehovah’s Witnesses after a church member outs him. In 2002, Jesse escapes to London to create a life for himself as a queer, Black working-class man. Jesse becomes a sex worker to stay afloat and explores his sexuality. He reckons with race, class, sexuality, and spirituality in his search for selfdiscovery, freedom and the stability of a chosen family. “You’ve lost your center of gravity,” a friend says to Jesse, “so to survive, you’ll need to take steps to create another.” In “Rainbow Milk,” Jesse evolves from a young man (not yet out of his teens) trying to navigate life in a strange city into an adult who’s a writer in a stable queer relationship. There are some similarities between Jesse and Mendez. Both are Black, queer and were disfellowshipped by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They’re British with a Jamaican heritage, they both moved to London and became sex workers as well as writers. “Rainbow Milk” is both “autobiographical and fictional,” Mendez said. Yet, though it has elements of autobiography, “It’s a work of fiction,” he said. “I’ve created unique 3 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JUNE 25, 202 1

scenes that I didn’t go through personally, but I went through, maybe, something similar, with other people.” He created characters “with interiors,” Mendez added. One difference: Jesse moved to London at a different age and year (at 19 in 2002) than when Mendez moved to London (at age 22 in 2004). Mendez researched what London was like then and created characters who didn’t share his story. Jesse, for instance, has a white father. Mendez’s dad is Black and married to his mother. “It became interesting for me to examine what it’s like to be raised as a Black person without any sense of [Black] heritage,” Mendez said. It’s hard to answer the question of whether a novel is autobiographical, Mendez said. Hollinghurst, for instance, went to boarding school, studied at Oxford, became an editor at a literary journal and then a novelist. “That’s the kind of world, he writes about,” Mendez said, “but they’re not him.” People should be able to tell the difference between a memoir and a work of fiction, he added. “Rainbow Milk” began as a memoir but his publisher challenged Mendez. “She recognized that I wasn’t going all the way,” Mendez said, “I was protecting people. I was reticent when it came to discussing some of the most difficult moments that I’d been through.” The novel began to flow when he switched to fiction and began writing in the third person. “I wasn’t reopening old wounds,” Mendez said. Mendez has been a performing member of two theater companies and worked as a voice actor, appearing on audio books by Andrea Levy, Paul Theroux and Ben Okri. He narrates the audio version of “Rainbow Milk.” Mendez has contributed to “Esquire,” “Vogue” and other publications. He is studying for an M.A. in Black British Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London. Because he’s so busy, Mendez is taking a year off from his studies. He’s thinking about his second novel and working with a production company to adapt “Rainbow Milk” into a TV series. Adapting “Rainbow Milk” for TV has been different for Mendez from working on “Rainbow Milk” first as a memoir, then as a novel. “In picking apart ‘Rainbow Milk’ to construct 10 episodes,” Mendez said, “you do see where the narrative thread could have been worked out a little bit better.” “It will be wonderful to see a visual Jesse,” Mendez added. “Rainbow Milk” came out in the U.K. soon after George Floyd was murdered. In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, voices like his and other Black writers in the U.K. have been more sought after, Mendez said. “It’s felt at times that I’m the name on everyone’s lips,” Mendez said. “We need a Black person. Let’s call Paul Mendez. We’ve heard of him.” “I think only five books by five Black British men have been published over the last five years,” Mendez said. There is hope that this will change. Mendez is a member of the Black Writers Guild, which was formed last June. “We’ve come together to hold the mainstream publishing industry to account,” he said. The Guild wrote an open letter to the “big five” publishers in the U.K. calling upon the overwhelming white publishing industry to become more inclusive. “They all vowed to work closely with me to help effect change,” Mendez said, “it’s what are we going to do in the long term to systematically include Black voices in the publishing industry?” Books are the way to change people’s lives, he added.

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Join A League of Her Own and DJ Tezrah for a Pride block party brunch at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mess Hall.



Friday, June 25 “DISDance, Pride Edition- Still We Dance” will be at 6:30 p.m. Join the D.C. Public Library and show your Pride by dancing with the Library’s Freegal music collections. Post a video or photo of you and your crew dancing or lip-syncing to Instagram and tag D.C. Public Library on Instagram (@dcpubliclibrary) using the tags #DCPLDanceParty and #StillWeDance. The library’s favorite videos will be shared, and crown the video with the most likes the virtual Queen of Pride! All four Pride playlists are available here on Freegal with the names Still We Lead, Still We Live, Still We Laugh, and Still We Love. Prince George’s County Memorial Library Systems will host “STEM at Home: Outside the Binary!” virtually at 12 p.m. The event will ask attendees to make four crafts (one snail craft, two worm crafts, and a clownfish craft) while hearing about animals that don’t quite fit into the male/female biological sex binary. More information is available at: https://ww1.pgcmls.info/event/5160063.

Saturday, June 26 Join A League of Her Own, Mess Hall, and DJ Tezrah for a Pride block party brunch at 10 a.m. at Mess Hall. Chef Mathew Ramsey will be on site slinging breakfast sandos and sides, and there will also be ALOHO bartenders on site to keep the party going. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased on Eventbrite. LGBTQ+ youth are invited to join thousands of youth from across the country for the NYC Youth Pride 2021 Watch party at 3 p.m. at the Eaton D.C. This free event will be hosted by the Wanda Alston Foundation in collaboration with NYC Pride. The event includes refreshments, DJ, and streaming entertainment from NYC Youth Pride. Youth up to age 24 admitted. To save a spot, visit Eventbrite.

Sunday, June 27 Join the Garden and ALX for “Growing Pride at the Garden” a family-friendly day in honor of Capital Pride at 2 p.m. This event will have something for everyone, including food trucks and 15 local LGBTQ+ makers and allies that will be selling local goods. Guests are encouraged to register for the event beforehand on Eventbrite. “Pride Pilates with Becca” will be at 9 a.m. at the Upper West Side Cafe (Squash on Fire). This class is high intensity, low impact, and based on the Pilates principles: breathing, precision, and control. A full body workout is promised with every class and every class is designed for all fitness levels. This session will be $22 and registration is available at outfitclass.com/ explore/1129.

Monday, June 28 “Pride Month Social: Stonewall Edition” will be at Freddie’s Beach Bar at 7 p.m. Grab your beach attire and come out to this free event commemorating the Stonewall riots. As part of the event, Freddie’s Beach Bar will be asking for nonperishable food donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Donations are voluntary, but are appreciated. If you would like to dine in, please make a reservation ahead of time. More information is available on Facebook. Join Capital Pride DC for “#StayatHomeDCTrivia - Pride Edition” a monthly virtual trivia event at 6:30 p.m. This month’s questions will focus on LGBTQ history, culture, film, literature, and people. For more information, visit capitalpride.org.

Tuesday, June 29 A Tour of Her Own in partnership with A League of Her Own will host A Walking Tour + A Social Gathering at A League Of Her Own at 6 p.m. This women-powered evening will take you on a historical journey through the nation’s capital. For more information, visit Eventbrite. Join the DC Center for its virtual job club, a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve selfconfidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking. The event begins on Zoom at 6 p.m. For more information, email careercenters@thedccenter.org.

Wednesday, June 30 Join Capital Pride Alliance for “StillWe Lead Session 4: UPLIFTING THE VOICES OF OUR LGBTQ+ ELDERS virtually at 6 p.m. This panel will provide open and organic dialog across the community to further the discussion on lifting the voices of our most marginalized and rediscover the voices of our elders. Event registration is available here.

Thursday, July 01 The API Queer Support Group will be on Zoom at 7 p.m. The support group is co-sponsored by APIQS (Asian Pacific Islander Queer Society DC) and AQUA (Asian Queers United for Action). To access the Zoom link, visit: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81413712470. Join the DC Center for their virtual job club, a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve selfconfidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking. The event begins on Zoom at 6 p.m. For more information, email careercenters@thedccenter.org.

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OUT & ABOUT Md. civil rights commission hosts LGBTQ health event On Monday, June 28, the Board of Commissioners and staff of the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights will host a virtual event titled “A Hidden Health Crisis: Health Disparities Facing the LGBTQ Community” to celebrate Pride month and “[stand] as allies and in support of the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community.” The statement released by the commission reads, “Progress has been achieved in Maryland. Yet the arc of justice must continuously bend towards supporting all historically excluded communities, often while combating against intolerance. In Maryland, LGBTQ+ communities ‘continue to face significant and disturbing barriers in almost every facet of their lives, including public health, employment, community safety and housing.’ Maryland must identify and address disparities.” This free virtual event begins at 12 p.m. and registration is available on Eventbrite.

Mayor’s office offers tech training for trans job seekers The Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs in conjunction with BYTE BACK will offer a program titled “Transgender Pathway Project: a Free Top Notch Computer Training + Employment Readiness Program” for transgender and non-binary-identifying individuals interested in building essential skills in tech and earning the associated recognized certifications. The program will offer opportunities to learn essential skills in computer foundations courses; obtain recognized Microsoft and CompTIA certifications; and get hired in an administrative or IT career job. Admission to the program is competitive with priority given to career-seekers. To register, you must meet the eligibility requirements and pass an assessment test. For more information, contact charmaine.eccles@dc.gov or call 202-903-3958.

Inaugural #RainbowRideDC set for June 26 The ANC Rainbow Caucus, GGWash, WABA, members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and Lime will host the inaugural #RainbowRideDC on Saturday, June 26 at 1 p.m. The event will celebrate queer liberation history on a ride throughout the District and raise awareness and funds for HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive), an organization that has promoted the health, rights, and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by sexual exchange and/or drug use due to choice, coercion, or circumstance. To attend the event, please RSVP at https://wonkpolicy. com/rainbowride2021/. Donations to HIPS can also be made on HIPS’s website.

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ANGELO MADSEN MINAX director of ‘North By Current.’ (Photo courtesy Tribeca Film Festival)

Tribeca fest yields must-see queer documentaries

Compelling films on Leonard Bernstein, Marin Alsop among top fare By JOHN PAUL KING

If you’re a film fanatic, chances are pretty good you are already aware that the Tribeca Film Festival took place this month. One of the most prestigious events on the festival circuit, this New York City cinematic staple was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff, as a means of revitalizing the economic and cultural landscape of lower Manhattan in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It’s become a mainstay of the city’s annual calendar, providing a high-profile platform that has brought visibility to hundreds of independent and international films – as well as to the artists who made them – across the 20 years since its inception. Although Tribeca is not an LGBTQ+ film festival, it’s always been inclusive of LGBTQ+ films – after all, it is held in the middle of Pride month. The 20th anniversary edition, which was held June 9-20 and featured both virtual and in-person screenings, offered a particularly impressive crop, especially among the documentary lineup. That means fans of queer docs will surely be keeping an eye out for them as they make their way into general release over the next few months. Not to worry, the Blade has you covered. Here’s a sampling of some of the titles included among the LGBTQ+ themed documentary features that premiered during the festival. There are no official release dates yet – but with the Tribeca pedigree behind them, these enticing gems are sure to be heading to your screens very soon. “BERNSTEIN‘S WALL” Leonard Bernstein was one of the greatest classical music figures of the 20th century, the child of a Russian Jewish immigrant who rose to become not only conductor of the New York Philharmonic but a respected composer in his own right, a kind of musical ambassador who became a household name by educating millions of viewers about symphonic music on TV. He was also a gay man. In this documentary from filmmaker Douglas Tirola, we are given a comprehensive look at a life lived both in and out of the concert hall and intertwined with key historical moments. Illuminated by a rich trove of interviews, television appearances, home movie footage, photos, and letters, the film covers musical triumphs like “West Side Story” but also documents Bernstein’s pushing-the-edge activism, such as his protesting of the Vietnam War and his support of the Black Panthers. It also delves into the complexities of his personal life, exploring his fraught relationship with his father, his marriage and family life, and his struggles to find peace with his sexuality. The result is an enlightening portrait of a beloved American icon as both an accomplished musical artist and an important public figure during one of the most tumultuous eras in American culture. “BUILDING A BRIDGE” Prompted by the apparent apathy of his peers in the wake of 2016’s horrific Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, New York-based priest, author, and journalist Father James Martin wrote a book. After it was published, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity” led to appearances on outlets from Colbert to Fox News, and he became something of a celebrity – but though he may have been lauded by many for the acceptance espoused in his views, he was also denounced as a heretic by many others. This documentary, directed by Evan Mascagni and Shannon Post (and executive-produced by notable Catholic Martin Scorsese) follows the “outspoken but good-humored” priest as he speaks before packed houses, faces protesters, consoles queer youth and their struggling parents, and makes a journey to Rome. After this year’s March 15 Vatican statement barring priests from blessing same-sex unions, this one seems particularly timely. 4 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JUNE 25, 202 1

“THE CONDUCTOR” Internationally renowned conductor Marin Alsop has smashed a lot of glass ceilings. She was the first woman to serve as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, rising to the top of a profession that had always been dominated by men. Director Bernadette Wegenstein charts that rise in this “exhilarating” documentary, filmed with “unprecedented access” to its subject and a “backstage pass” to her world, by telling the openly lesbian Alsop’s story through a combination of interviews and shared moments, encounters with musical “cognoscenti,” previously unseen archival footage with her mentor Leonard Bernstein (yes, him again), and scenes of her teaching a next wave of young conductors who, like her, were being excluded from the classical music canon. The articulate Alsop is a charismatic protagonist, and her story makes for an inspiring and triumphant film about overcoming discrimination – and about pursuing your talent, against all odds. “NORTH BY CURRENT” A complex, experimental-leaning documentary from filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax, this meditation on “the relationships between mothers and children, truths and myths, losses and gains” began to take shape when Minax returned to his rural Michigan hometown in the wake of his young niece’s death to make a film about the family’s wrongful persecution. Before long, he found himself expanding his scope to explore a web of themes of generational addiction, fervent Christianity, and trans embodiment – all while participating in the evolving dynamic of a family trying to repair itself. Finally, the filmmaker turned the camera toward himself. The resulting film is a deeply personal meditation on identity, familial roles and responsibilities, and the challenges of learning to accept one another. “NO STRAIGHT LINES: THE RISE OF QUEER COMICS” Adapted from Justin Hall’s anthology of the same name, this fun documentary spotlights five LGBTQ+ comic book artists – Alison Bechdel (“Fun Home”), Jennifer Camper (“Rude Girls and Dangerous Women”), Howard Cruse (“Gay Comix”), Rupert Kinnard (“B.B. And The Diva”) and Mary Wings (“Come Out Comix”) while showcasing the evolution of the comic book side by side with the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. This celebratory film from director Vivian Kleiman blends art, comedy and politics to entertain while also schooling audiences about some important milestones of queer representation and the challenges faced by the community along the way. “PRAY AWAY” From director Kristine Stolakis comes this provocative documentary about Exodus International, an organization that was started in the 1970s by five men who were struggling with being gay in their Evangelical church. Organized as a Bible study group to help people “leave the homosexual lifestyle,” it grew to become the largest and most controversial conversion therapy organization in the world. In this frank exposé, Stolakis introduces us people like self-identified “ex-trans” Jeffrey, who says “I lived transgender, but I left it all to follow Jesus,” and Julie, who spent a decade going through intensive counseling to “become straight” – but also to former leaders in the conversion therapy movement who have now embraced their sexuality, coming out as LGBTQ themselves and disavowing the movement they helped to start. This one will be coming to Netflix in August.

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Saugatuck/Douglas is the art coast of Michigan The Saugatuck-Douglas villages in Southwest Michigan are the only LGBTQ-focused vacation areas between Provincetown and the Russian River in California. Nestled with sandy beaches along Lake Michigan (and fresh, shark-free waters), the area is not only an artist colony but now features a plethora of wineries and microbreweries and is a fruit basket (blueberries, peaches, apples, and more are all grown here). With two LGBTQ+ resorts (Dunes Resort and CampIt), there is something for everyone and for every budget. Don’t forget to take home some blueberries and peaches.

Beaches and peaches abound in this LGBTQ-friendly escape By BILL MALCOLM


Oval Beach in Saugatuck is an award winner. The sunsets are incredible. You can hike for miles in the nearby dunes or walk along the beach. You can also climb to the top of nearby Mounty Baldhead, a high sand dune on the west side of the river. Take a tour of the Kalamazoo River out to Lake Michigan on an authentic stern wheel paddleboat. I loved the sunset cruise. Snacks and drinks available (cash only). You will find them at 716 Water St. in Saugatuck (www.saugatuckboatcruises.com). Check out the new 1860s era fish shanty and Fish Market next door. It features posters telling about the colorful fishing history of Saugatuck. Take a hike to the beach at the Wau-Ke-Na Nature Preserve at 116th St. just south of West Side County Park. Further north you will find the historic Pier Cove Beach (2290 Lakeshore Dr., Fennville). North of Saugatuck you can take a hike up the dunes and down at Laketown Beach. It’s free but parking is limited. Take a walk around historic downtown Douglass, which even has a park honoring the Dunes Resort founders who turned the area into an LGBTQ destination. Enjoy “Unmasked: Photographic Portraits After 2020” at the new Douglas Library. The Saugatuck Center for the Arts has shows all summer including “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” and “Just Too Big: Songs from Broadway Blockbusters.” Details and tickets at sc4a.org. Pick blueberries at Blue Star Farms or just grab a pint to go. (bluestarblueberries.com) Take a hike through the sand dunes and forest down to the beach at Saugatuck Dunes State Park.


The Dunes Resort in Douglas (333 Blue Star Highway) offers cabins and motel rooms that are affordable at the weekday special rate (Monday-Wednesday). Don’t miss the bar scene, the outdoor bar and dance floor, and the many special events. The T Dance on Sundays includes a barbeque. The pool scene includes cocktails and food to order as well as cabanas. It’s another must and is great for people watching. Upcoming events include: Aug. 6-8 Mardi Gras Weekend Aug. 20-21 White Party Weekend For more information, go to dunesresort.com. Other nearby motels include The Blue Star Motel next to the Dunes or the AmericInn just down the road, both in Douglas. The Northern Lights Condos also are an option. Down in Fennville, stay at the Camp It Resort, located at 6635 118th Ave. in Fennville (campitresort.com). This Michigan LGBTQ resort welcomes everyone. They just had their first trans week. Camping, cabins, bunk house, and other lodging options make this a place your affordable option. The Biggie Food Truck is perfect for a meal or snack. The pool scene

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The Saugatuck Dunes State Park offers breathtaking scenery. (Photo by Bill Malcolm)

is a lot of fun and they often have shows. Set on 33 acres, there store has everything you need and is open late on weekends. They too have a lot going on this season including: July 23-25 Christmas in July Sept. 17-19 Wine and Dine Weekend includes a tour of nearby wineries Oct. 8-10 includes a tour of 3 new nearby microbreweries


The new women-owned Guardian Brewery and restaurant has a great Sunday Brunch. Their micro brews are very good. They are just off exit 41 off I-196 in Saugatuck. The Farmhouse Deli (100 Blue Star Highway, Douglas) features farm to table deli sandwiches, soups, and fresh squeezed juices. They are at 100 Blue Star Highway in Douglas. Try the carrot blend, Zing, fresh juice creation. The new Isabel’s Market and Eatery (across from the Dunes Resort at 310 Blue Star Highway) features local products and has an Italian theme. Try the pastrami sandwich. You can even take a cooking class. Don’t miss the pizza and subs at Lakeshore Convenience and Pizza, 155 Blue Star Highway in Douglas. The Uncommon Coffee Roasters in downtown Saugatuck is perfect for a coffee. Pick up some beans to go. The What Not in Fennville is another local favorite. Don’t miss the fish fry on Fridays.


The area is about two hours from Chicago and three hours from Detroit. You can also fly into Grand Rapids or take Amtrak to Holland. If you stay at the Dunes, you might be able to get away with no car. Otherwise you need one although they do have an on-demand bus and bike rentals in downtown Saugatuck.


Stop by the Saugatuck Douglas Visitors Information Center in Douglas (95 Blue Star Highway) or visit their website, Saugatuck.com. (Bill Malcolm is the nation’s only LGBTQ+ value travel columnist. Based in Indianapolis, his columns have appeared in publications across the country. His opinions are his own. Special thanks to Oval Beach, the Saugatuck Douglas Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Douglas Dunes Resort, and Camp It Resort.)

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‘As a Woman’ charts a transition within evangelical setting Paula Stone’s story resonates with female readers By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

‘As a Woman’

By Paula Stone Williams c.2021. Atria Books $27.00 | 256 pages

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There are two sides to every story. In politics, there’s left and right; in fairy tales, it’s good or evil. Guilty or innocent in court, salty or spicy mealtimes, dog or cat among friends, heads or tails. Sometimes you choose and at other times, like in “As a Woman” by Paula Stone Williams, you can see both sides. From the time he was very small, Paul Williams thought that he “should have been born a girl.” He wasn’t bitter about it – not when he was a teen, not even as an adult – but it lingered in the background of his life. Oh, he tried to tamp down his desires to dress in his mother’s clothes but he could not, though he knew it would anger her. She caught him once wearing his grandmother’s cast-offs and he never forgot her reaction; even so, he ransacked her closet at least once a week during his adolescence, hoping his parents wouldn’t come home early. His feelings of furtiveness were perhaps exacerbated by a family legacy of evangelical ministry. Every man he knew was a leader in their church; when he was young, it was assumed that Williams would follow them, as if there was no other option. And so, dutifully, he became a CEO in a “church planting” organization. He married a woman he genuinely loved, and they started a family. But the urges didn’t go away. As his children grew and left the nest, Williams began to explore the possibility of letting out the woman he was inside. He confessed everything to his wife, started hormones, and asked for his wife’s silence until he made plans for a transition physically and at work. He’d been at the organization for 35 years, and he was respected, although less than he believed. Williams was fired and humiliated. Marriage in question, children shaken, job gone, he began to assess his life. The world needed to know the truth. And so, on July 29, 2014, Paula Stone Williams officially took to her blog. Come to “As a Woman” looking for a memoir, and you’re going to be happy: most of the pages here tell a tale of transitioning while immersed in a major evangelical organization, which are generally incompatible things. This is interesting, told in an unabashedly forward manner as author Paula Stone Williams resists minimizing her male past. Dig deeper, though, and there’s more to this book: its look at the difference in how society as a whole regards the roles of men and women, from someone with knowledge of both, is funny and sharp-eyed, and could serve as a primerslash-warning for newly transitioning women. It’s fiery, it’s sometimes the tiniest bit whiny, it’s a little repetitious, and it’s eyebrow-raising with a dash of heated argument-starter for zest. In the end, “As a Woman” leaves a lot for female readers to agree with; Williams’s observations are honed, hard, and honest. Men, however – particularly cis men – could take umbrage at her observations, and might give this book a little bit of side-eye.

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Be sure to paint your interior walls before selling a home and even consider adding wallpaper with an adhesive back that is easy for buyers to remove.

Tips to properly prep your home to sell for the most Paint, wallpaper, lighting, and more will set the tone By JUSTIN NOBLE

So you’ve lived in your home for a few years now and while you were able to turn a blind eye to those little items that need some TLC they now need your immediate attention. Fido gnawed on the baseboards instead of the $200 worth of dog toys you’ve purchased for him. Or maybe that one time your friend Tim wore heels — and didn’t wear them well, which resulted in several scuffs on the once beautiful white-oak wide plank flooring you have. These items are things that you will surely already have on your “pre-market” list of things to do, but what else can you do to maximize your presence in the market while not breaking the bank? Paint colors are vital to first impressions. Paint colors evoke so many sensory feels and emotions. It is important to pick a color that is neutral enough but does not cast a hue on the surrounding areas. For example, grey. Who didn’t know I was going there? It’s GREY. Not Blue. Not green. Be sure to pick a pure grey color to neutralize the space and add in other sensory cues. For example, if you select a grey leaning toward a blue hue you might get prospective buyers to question the brightness of a space as blue tones are often found to be “cold” or barren. This is the foundation for a buyer. Do not skip the fresh coat of paint. It will cover up all the imperfections and make a buyer feel welcomed and like your property is truly move-in ready. Light fixtures are another thing that can easily, and inexpensively, change the feel of a property. Go with what is trendy these days. Don’t worry if it’s something that you feel might be too taste specific, as most buyers understand that light fixtures can easily be changed out and if not then it’s their real estate agent’s job to let them know. When I walk through a property with clients who are selling their home, I always recommend paying close attention to light fixtures in the entryway, dining room, pendant lighting in the kitchen, and bathrooms. Again, first impressions are important

and everyone judges. Ensure that the foyer light fixture is trendy and takes your breath away. Like the paint color, it will set the tone for the rest of the property. Be sure to pay attention to the lumens or wattage of a light fixture - no dimly lit spaces here. Wallpaper is another great option to make a space pop. I would urge one considering this to use wallpaper that has a removable adhesive backing and not traditional wallpaper. Ensure it’s something that is not permanent as everything is taste specific. Be sure to mention to your real estate agent that you have placed REMOVABLE wallpaper so that they can inform buyers that it will not be a painstaking process to remove. Go crazy. Use a statement large print wallpaper to attract attention and if you use a neutral color paint you can really go in any direction as far as pattern. One more tip: wallpaper isn’t just for the wall anymore. Think bigger, like the ceiling of an office or powder room, perhaps the inside of a coffered ceiling or a wall above a fireplace. Keeping with the “judge a book by its cover” theme here — and ensuring that you set the right tone for your home — one of your largest investments is the curb appeal. This is not only important to homes, so if you have a condo you aren’t getting away that easily. Think of things like a doormat, perhaps door decor, etc. Just make sure that your HOA/condo association does not have any issues with these items. Be sure to plant seasonal plants and potted plants that speak to the season in which your home will be on the market. If you have overgrown trees or shrubs be sure to trim those so that everyone can see your home. Be sure to power wash a driveway or walkway leading to the front door so that everything on the outside looks as great as that freshly painted, wallpapered and well-lit home. I hope that these simple and rather inexpensive suggestions help you ensure that your property looks its best. If you are interested in ensuring that your home is marketed the best, please feel free to reach out.

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REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Proof will be considered final and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations and warranties.

Spruce Up Your Home this Summer We’re all excited for summer festivities, outdoor gatherings with friends and family, or simply lounging in the sun, but how do you begin to prepare your home for making the most out of summer? Here’s a checklist of helpful ideas to help you get started: 1 Clean and dry your outdoor furniture. As barbeque season approaches, it’s time to freshen up your outdoor cushions and wipe down any furniture so it’s free from pollen. Get the patio furniture looking new again and ready for hosting! 2 Beautify your outdoor space. Add your favorite summer vegetable plants to a garden space, pull out any weeds and

3 Clean out your grill. Turn on the grill at max temperature, close the hood, and allow the grill to stay on for 15 minutes. Scrub the grill to get rid of excess burnt residue. For extra stubborn grease, dip a half lemon in salt and rub it onto the areas. This will effectively scour and degrease your grill so it’s ready for a summer full of new, delicious recipes. 4

summer blooming plants include daylilies, black-eyed susans,

Michael Moore Realtor® Over 29 Years of Experience Licensed in DC, MD, VA

heavy comforter for a cooler material like bamboo or linen to help beat the DMV heat.

M: 202.262.7762 O: 202.386.6330 Washington, DC 20005

Compass is a licensed real estate brokerage that abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. Compass is licensed as Compass Real Estate in DC and as Compass in Virginia and Maryland.

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