Washingtonblade.com, Volume 52, Issue 29, July 16, 2021

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D.C. police seek help in finding suspects in anti-trans attack

D.C. police are seeking help from the public in identifying and locating several suspects who attacked and assaulted a transgender woman on Friday, July 9, in the 3100 block of Georgia Avenue, N.W. “At approximately 2:25 a.m., the victim was approached by multiple suspects at the listed location,” according to a police statement. “The suspects began to assault the victim, after they uestioned the victim’s gender identity, causing significant injuries,” the statement says. It says the suspects fled the scene and, according to a separate police incident report, the victim flagged down police officers “while bleeding from the face.” The police statement, which was released on the day of the incident, says the victim was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Although neither the police statement, issued as a press release, nor the public incident report identified the victim as a trans woman, D.C. transgender activist Earline Budd told the Washington Blade she knows the victim and confirmed the victim identifies as a transgender woman. Budd said the victim has been released from the hospital. “Anyone who has knowledge of this incident should take no action but call police at

0 - 0 or text your tip to the Department’s TE T TIP LINE at 50 ,” the police statement says. The statement adds that the department’s Crime Solvers program offers a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and indictment of individuals responsible for a crime in D.C. “The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington is investigating this offense as potentially being motivated by hate or bias,” says the statement. It says the department’s Special Liaison Branch, which includes the department’s LGBT Liaison nit, is assisting Fourth District police detectives with the investigation. Budd said other anti-transgender assaults have taken place in the recent past at the location of Georgia Avenue near Irving Street, N.W., where the latest incident occurred. In response to incidents involving assaults and other serious crimes such as this one, D.C. police routinely approach nearby businesses and homes to obtain video from security cameras to look for images of suspects involved in crimes. D.C. police routinely release photos taken from the video footage to seek help from the public in identifying suspects. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Del. Stonewall PAC to honor McBride The th Annual Delaware Stonewall PAC Summer Fundraiser will honor Delaware Sen. Sarah McBride, Sen. Marie Pinky and Rep. Eric Morrison on Aug. from -6 p.m. at Lavender Fields in Milton, Del. Stonewall PAC supports lawmakers who are committed to passing pro-LGBT legislation. Almost all of the money raised is given to support the candidates, according to a July 10 statement. “We honor them not only for their trailblazing victories but their continuing efforts to ensure equal protection under the law for all,” the statement said. Since the PAC’s beginning, the goal has been to advocate for and protect LGBT rights in the Delaware Legislature, according to the statement. “When we began, non-discrimination and marriage equality in Delaware were non-existent and the thought of an LGBT person being elected was no more than a pipe dream,” Stonewall President Peter Schott said in the statement. “We set those goals as our mission, and now we are so proud to say that we have accomplished that. We still have a lot more to do, and Stonewall as well as our honorees will work toward accomplishing those goals.” Visit deldems.org for more information. ESTHER FRANCES

Delaware Sen. SARAH MCBRIDE is among honorees at Stonewall PAC next month. Blade le photo

Comings & Goings

Mat Young named P at (ISC)² By PETER ROSENSTEIN

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recogni e those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organi ations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: comingsandgoings@washblade.com. The Comings Goings column also invites LGBT college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. Congratulations to Mat Young on being appointed by (ISC) as ice President of Global Advocacy. (ISC) is an international nonprofit membership association focused on inspiring a safe and secure cyber world. It is best known for the acclaimed Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. pon accepting the position Young said, “I’m really looking forward to helping (ISC) build out our global advocacy program and thought leadership resources. We have some big challenges ahead of us as an industry, but I think it’s going to be rewarding, fun and


interesting. Every week, there is major breaking news impacting the cybersecurity profession and lawmakers are really looking for help to understand some of these difficult policy uestions. I feel really fortunate to be able to work in a profession that is growing so uickly and is front and center in some of the most critical economic and national security conversations of the moment.” Young will be responsible for launching and leading a new advocacy and thought leadership program for (ISC) to help address the global cybersecurity workforce shortage as well as positively influence laws, regulations,

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and government standards setting initiatives impacting cybersecurity professionals around the globe. Initially, his role will focus on building (ISC)2’s public policy programs in the nited States, nited ingdom, the European nion and Australia. Young will help establish a global system of political and public policy intelligence monitoring with an aim to engage public policymakers and cybersecurity professionals on government best practices as well as emerging public policy trends. Prior to this, Young served as vice president of state regulatory and legislative affairs for the American Institute of CPAs and oversaw that association’s state advocacy program. He also represented the AICPA before the .S. congressional and executive branches. Prior to this role, he served as AICPA director of congressional and political affairs, working closely with the state CPA societies and AICPA members on federal legislative efforts critical to the CPA profession. Before that Young was director of economic policy for .S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, (D-Mich.), and also worked for the .S. House Financial Services Committee. Young earned his bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in Economics and rban Studies from Trinity niversity and his master’s degree in Public Affairs from the School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton niversity.

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Nellie’s reopens, closes after protesters block entrance

Hours after it reopened for the first time in a month, Nellie’s Sports Bar on Tuesday night closed its doors again shortly after 8 p.m. when protesters formed a human chain to block the gay bar’s entrance doors. About 50 protesters showed up outside Nellie’s, which is located at th and Streets, N.W., about 8 p.m. after learning that the bar had reopened. D.C. police closed the streets surrounding Nellie’s to vehicle traffic as the protesters occupied the busy intersection. Protesters have been assembling outside Nellie’s on Saturday nights for close to a month in response to a June 3 incident during D.C.’s LGBT Pride weekend when a security guard was captured on video dragging a Black woman down a flight of stairs shortly after a fight broke out among Nellie’s customers. Nellie’s announced in a statement a short time later that it dismissed the security company for which the security guard was an employee and apologi ed for the guard’s action. But LGBT and racial justice activists have alleged that Nellie’s has a history of bias against people of color despite the fact that many of its longtime customers have been African-American men and women, LGBT and straight. The city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board two weeks ago asked the ffice of the D.C. Attorney General to open an investigation into allegations that Nellie’s violated the terms of its li uor license for its handling of fights that broke out in the bar shortly before eisha Young, , was dragged by her hair down the stairs by the security guard. The action by the ABC Board came after the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) conducted its own investigation of the June 3 incident and concluded that Nellie’s appeared to have been engaged “in a method of operation conducive to unlawful conduct” at the time the fight broke out inside the bar. An ABRA spokesperson said it will be up to the Attorney

General’s ffice to make a final determination of whether Nellie’s violated city laws or regulations at the time of the fight. The protesters assembled outside Nellie’s on Tuesday night after organi ers posted messages on social media saying they had just discovered that Nellie’s had reopened and called on people to show up outside the bar for a protest. Among the protest organi ers was Makia Green, co-conductor of the Black-led community defense group Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, who describes herself as a ueer trans nonbinary Black liberation organi er. Green told the Washington Blade during the protest that protesters want Nellies to make a full public apology to eisha Young and to release its own surveillance video of the incident involving Young being Protesters formed a human chain around Nellie’s on Tuesday night to block the gay pulled down the flight of stairs. An bar’s entrance doors. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.) ABRA report of the June 13 Nellie’s incident says ABRA has obtained a are calling for Nellie’s to close permanently and for its copy of the Nellie’s video. building to be “put into the hands of Black ueer and Green said protesters are also calling on Nellie’s trans people” as a community center for social justice owner Douglas Schant and his managers to participate endeavors. in “public listening sessions” to hear concerns raised by Nellie’s owner Schant didn’t immediately respond to Nellie’s Black customers and members of the community a re uest by the Blade for comment on the protesters’ about alleged racial bias at the bar. She said that also action and to disclose whether he plans to reopen Nellie’s among the protesters’ demands is for Nellies to make again this week. “reparations” for Young and the Black community. LOU CHIBBARO JR. According to Green, some but not all of the protesters

Capital Stonewall Democrats endorses a. candidates D.C.’s Capital Stonewall Democrats on Monday night voted to endorse what it says was the first round of endorsement of LGBT supportive candidates running for public office in irginia in an effort to help retain the state’s current LGBT supportive General Assembly and governor’s office. Among the six endorsees made by the LGBT group, which used to be called the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, were gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala, and attorney general candidate Mark Herring. As part of a motion approved by unanimous voice vote, the Capital Stonewall Democrats also endorsed the re-election bid of House of Delegates member Danica Roem, who made history in 0 when she became the first transgender person in the .S. to win election and be seated in a state legislature. Roem holds the House of Delegates seat in the state’s 3th House district located in the Manassas area. The others endorsed by the LGBT group include Joshua Cole, an out bisexual man who is running for re-election to his House of Delegates seat in the 8th District longtime LGBT ally Jennifer itchen, who’s running for a House of Delegates seat in District 5 and incumbent delegate and LGBT ally Wendy Gooditteis, who’s running for re-election in District 66. Capital Stonewall Democrats President Jatarious Fra ier said the group will soon make another round of endorsements of irginia candidates, including other gay and lesbian incumbents in the House of Delegates and irginia Senate. He said that among the criteria the group uses in choosing candidates in irginia and other states to endorse is their support for D.C. statehood. “We want to make sure we have a presence in irginia because we know that our closest allies for statehood are there in irginia,” Fra ier told the Blade. “And it’s really great that we do have a significant number of LGBT plus candidates that are also champions for statehood that are running that we will endorse in the upcoming election.” LOU CHIBBARO JR.


State Rep. DANICA ROEM was among those who won the endorsement of Capital Stonewall Democrats on Tuesday.

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Boston Pride dissolves after inclusion controversy

No further events or programming planned FROM STAFF REPORTS

The board of Boston Pride announced last week on the organization’s website that it is dissolving. The Boston Globe reported that a controversy over inclusion, coupled with complaints that the organization excluded people of color and trans people, which had led some to boycott the group were the primary reasons. The statement from the Boston Pride Board of Directors read: “For years, we have volunteered our time with Boston Pride because we care about and are passionate about the LGBTQIA+ community. We strived to foster an environment of diversity and unity within our organization and the community. Over the past 50 years, Boston Pride has facilitated programs and events that have changed our society and promoted equality, but we know there is still work to be done. “Over the past year, we have invested time and energy to address the concerns of the community, both with our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access work with Dorrington & Saunders and by forming the Transformation Advisory Committee comprised of members of the LGBTQIA+ community to help bring change to our organization. We are grateful for all who have been involved in this process. “It is clear to us that our community needs and wants change without the involvement of Boston Pride. We have heard the concerns of the QTBIPOC community and others. We care too much to stand in the way. Therefore, Boston Pride is dissolving. There will be no further events or programming planned, and the board is taking steps to close down the organization. “We know many people care about Pride in Boston, and we encourage them to continue the work. By making the decision to close down, we hope new leaders will emerge from the community to lead the Pride movement in Boston. This decision was made with a heavy heart, out of love and hope for a better future.” Boston’s NPR outlet WBUR reported “the announcement comes after years of growing tension with other Boston-based LGBTQ+ community leaders and organizations. In 2015, Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted the Boston Pride parade to demand

more inclusivity and representation in the Pride organization. And last year, 80% of Boston Pride’s volunteer workforce resigned after a statement put out by Boston Pride’s board received backlash. The board came under fire for removing key parts of the statement, which was originally written by the volunteer workforce. Former volunteers alleged that the board removed “Black Lives Matter,” without consent from its Black Pride committee members. Workers also cited allegations of racism and transphobia as reasons they resigned.” In announcing its dissolution, Boston Pride’s board stated that no further events or programming were planned, and the board is taking steps to close down the organization. It is unclear whether this includes the previously planned Boston Pride parade, which had been postponed until September.



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Editor of Blade’s Cuba media partner released after violent arrest

Cuban police have released the editor of the Washington Blade’s media partner on the island. Tremenda Nota Director Maykel González Vivero in a series of tweets said riot police who claimed he was throwing rocks during an anti-government protest in Havana on Sunday violently arrested him. A source early Wednesday confirmed that González has been released, but he cannot leave his home. The source did not provide any information about González’s condition. González is among the journalists who were arrested during Sunday’s protests against mounting food shortages, the government’s response to the pandemic and a worsening economic crisis that took MAYKEL GONZÁLEZ VIVERO (Blade photo by Michael Key) place across Cuba. “We condemn the government’s violent repression of protesters, journalists and activists,” tweeted Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, on Tuesday. Cuban police have previously detained González, most recently in November 2020. The Interior Ministry in late 2019 banned him from leaving Cuba. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

Rodrigue first trans performer up for lead acting Emmy

“Pose” made television history once again on Tuesday with the announcement that Mj Rodriguez, who played the role of house mother Blanca through all three seasons of the beloved FX series, has received a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series at the 73rd Annual Emmy Awards. It’s the first time in the history of the Television Academy’s prestigious awards body that a transgender performer has been recognized with a nomination in one of the leading actor categories. The Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk/Steven Canals-created series, which follows the lives of several characters involved in the New York Ballroom culture during the 1980s and ‘90s, has been an Emmy contender since its first season, when it was nominated for Primetime Emmys as Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding MJ RODRIGUEZ stars in ‘Pose.’ Lead Actor in a Drama Series. (Photo by kathclick via Bigstock) It won the latter award for actor Billy Porter, who was nominated again for the show’s second season, and on Tuesday snagged his third nomination in the category. Porter’s win in 0 made him the first openly gay performer to receive the award in that category. In addition to the two acting nods, “Pose” was nominated for the second time as Outstanding Drama Series. The show also received nominations for its hairstyling, makeup, prosthetic makeup and costumes (categories included in the Primetime Creative Arts Emmys, which are presented in a separate ceremony), bringing the total nominations for the show’s three-season run to 20. “Pose” was also honored with a special Television Academy Honors award at the 2019 Emmys, for “impactful” television. In response to Rodriguez’ nomination, GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis released a statement: “Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez’s Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series is a breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of ‘Pose.’” JOHN PAUL KING

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COVID breakthrough infections strike summer tourists visiting Provincetown

Dozens test positive for virus after weekend getaway By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

Dozens of summer tourists who were among those visiting the gay resort town of Provincetown, Mass., over the weekend came back with more than beach memories and a tan: They tested positive for COVID-19 — even though they were vaccinated against the disease. The surprise outbreak among individuals who did their public duty to get vaccinated is taking many observers aback at a time when Americans who refuse to get the shot, despite overwhelming evidence of safety and effectiveness in combatting coronavirus, are facing heavy criticism, which experts say precludes the nation from reaching herd immunity. Robert Koy, a gay 28-year-old business strategist from Chicago, told the Washington Blade he tested positive for coronavirus on Monday after learning about mild symptoms among housemates during his visit to Provincetown. “It was just kind of wild,” Koy said. “You went through the whole year-and-a-half of the pandemic and you got vaccinated and do what you’re supposed to do. There wasn’t really any negative pressure against traveling over the Fourth of July for a vaccinated person.” Koy, who said he was vaccinated in April and is now largely asymptomatic aside from a mild cough, said finding out about the dozens of people who came down with coronavirus after visiting Provincetown despite being vaccinated was “really surprising.” “Here in Chicago, I think it’s the same in D.C., but people are drawn out here on the dance floor until four in the morning on a Saturday night, and no one has really seemed to be affected,” Koy said. “So the whole experience was kind of unexpected.” At the same time, Koy said he’s glad no severe cases were being reported and called the breakthrough outbreak “a nice reminder that we’re still kind of learning.” To be sure, the anecdotal reports of COVID infections among vaccinated people who went to Provincetown doesn’t justify refusing the vaccine. All signs and evidence show COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, as medical experts continue to say as they try to convince Americans, many of whom are intransigent against the vaccine, to take their shots. But the COVID breakthrough cases over a short period of time weren’t insignificant in number and put in stark relief the limitations of the vaccine in fully shielding people from coronavirus, including vulnerability from individuals spreading the disease by refusing shots and fears about the emerging Delta variant. Kyle Blaine, a White House reporter for CNN, was among the more high-profile individuals who reported having contracted coronavirus after visiting Provincetown over the weekend. “PSA: If you were in Provincetown last week and have cold/ flu symptoms, please get tested for Covid,” Blain tweeted on Sunday. “My husband and I are fully vaccinated and tested positive yesterday. We’re OK — only mild symptoms so far. I know close to a dozen other vaccinated people who tested positive.” Michael Ahrens, a 32-year-old gay D.C. resident who came down with coronavirus after spending a week in Provincetown, said he initially obtained a negative test result after returning from his vacation, then upon taking a second test Monday out of an abundance of caution tested positive for COVID. “I think, in that moment, I wasn’t as surprised because I had started hearing about more people testing positive, but I really didn’t have any symptoms, so I was surprised because of that,” Ahrens said. “If you had told me a few days prior, that

a bunch of fully vaccinated people were going to be testing positive for COVID, I wouldn’t have believed you.” None of the coronavirus cases associated with visiting Provincetown appear to be life-threatening. The COVID patients who spoke with the Blade said they had mild symptoms such as fatigue and a mild cough, but exhibited no signs of major illness. One person, however, said on Twitter in response to a local reporter’s public inquiry for stories he was among the breakthrough cases and had been hospitalized as a result of his condition. The individual didn’t immediately respond by Blade deadline to go on the record and elaborate further on the severity of his illness. David Hardy, a Los Angeles-based scientific and medical consultant, said the breakthrough infections are “a difficult situation on which to comment due to the imprecise nature of the information available.” “It would be highly surprising to discover that ‘dozens’ of fully vaccinated tourists (gay or straight) were becoming ill with COVID-19 after visiting P-Town,” Hardy said. “We know that all three vaccines given EUA status in the U.S. reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19 illnesses by 85 percent to 95 percent. Recent data from studies evaluating the new Delta variant becoming more common in the U.S. now show that these three vaccines still protect against COVID-19 illness.” Hardy added, however, what isn’t known is whether the vaccines “prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.” “Limited data says that the chance of infection is reduced by ~70%-75% after vaccination, which is good but not great,” Hardy said. “Persons with asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection can still transmit the virus.” A firm count on the number of tourists who went to Provincetown over the weekend and came back with coronavirus would be impossible. After all, individuals could have visited the resort over the weekend, returned home with COVID-19 and gotten their test result elsewhere or never got tested because they remain asymptomatic. The number of coronavirus cases reported by the Barnstable County Department of Public Health last week was between 20 to 25 and more than half were “short-term visitors,” according to local WBZ reporter Louisa Moller. Sean Holihan, a gay D.C. resident who visited Provincetown over the July 4th holiday, counted himself on Twitter among almost 30 tourists who came down with COVID as he cautioned against reading too much into the infections. “Between myself and others, I know of nearly 30 breakthrough cases of Covid that came from visiting Provincetown for the 4th of July,” Holihan wrote. “In each and every situation, the symptoms were mild and no one required a hospital visit. The vaccine works.” A Massachusetts Department of Health spokesperson said specific cases for Provincetown weren’t immediately available, but “breakthrough case numbers are incredibly low and cases in which the person was hospitalized or died are even lower.” As of July 10, the total number of breakthrough cases reported to the Massachusetts Department of Health was 4,450 cases out of 4,195,844 vaccinated individuals, the spokesperson said. That fraction is 0.1 percent of vaccinated individuals. “All available data continue to support that all three vaccines used in the U.S. are highly protective against severe disease and death from all known variants of COVID-19.,” the spokesperson said. “The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated.”


ROBERT KOY, who came down with COVID after visiting Provincetown, said the breakthrough infections despite vaccinations are ‘a nice reminder that we’re still kind of learning.’ (Photo courtesy Koy)

Having chosen a gay resort town for a vacation getaway, many of the tourists who went to Provincetown were members of the LGBTQ community and predominantly gay white men. COVID infection in a community that commonly holds progressive views runs counter to the narrative the virus is spreading among Trump-supporting Americans who refuse to get vaccinated despite assurances of safety and the dangers of contracting COVID. Coronavirus would have ample opportunity to spread among the tourists in Provincetown. Beach parties during the day and club dancing at night, not to mention the close proximity of tourists cramming themselves into group homes to lower costs of their visit, would have been called “superspreader” events at the peak of the pandemic. At least one venue was strict about requiring proof of vaccination before allowing entry into the festivities, turning away those without vaccination cards or even cards showing proof of having taken one of two vaccine shots needed for full vaccination. Other venues, however, were lax at a time when Americans would be expected to have vaccinations before gathering in a large crowd and required no proof of immunity before allowing patrons to enter. Additionally, a ferry tourists commonly use for travel between the Boston airport and the Provincetown resort was cancelled over the weekend due to inclement weather, forcing visitors to cram themselves in crowded buses to get to their destination without open air or social distancing protecting them from infection. Despite having contracted the disease, the COVID patients who spoke to the Blade said coming down with the disease despite having been vaccinated has done nothing to change their views. Koy said the coronavirus outbreak may be evidence the restrictions lifted in recent weeks were too many, too quick and more caution should be exercised. “All the restrictions just kind of ripped away within such a short time span,” Koy said. “I don’t think there was any major caution encouraged as far as going out or as you’re traveling, like continuing to really be vigilant and stay within a small circle of people.” Ahrens said having come down with coronavirus after receiving his vaccination has done nothing to dissuade him from his belief the vaccine is safe and effective. “I followed guidance for fully vaccinated people and fortunately people who are vaccinated are having a much easier time fighting off C ID than people who are not vaccinated,” Ahrens said.

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(Editor’s note: Blade contributor Yariel Valdés González fled his native Cuba to escape persecution because of his work as an independent journalist. He asked for asylum in the U.S. on March 27, 2019. He spent nearly a year in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody until his release on March 4, 2020. Valdés has written about his experiences in ICE custody that the Blade is publishing in four parts. Visit washingtonblade.com for part I.

‘Welcome to hell!’ An ICE detainee’s diaries, part II Gay Cuban journalist arrives at Louisiana jail By YARIEL VALDÉS GONZALÉS

Welcome to hell! (May 3, 2019) The trip between Mississippi and Louisiana took more than six hours, six endless hours shackled and handcuffed to go to an unknown location. We were in a mobile jail: The windows were secured with bars and inside there was a padlocked security gate, which separates us from the officers in charge of our transportation. I was traveling with Jeiser, a Honduran friend, on a metal seat that numbed my butt until I could barely feel it. The handcuffs were already beginning to leave marks on my hands. The landscape was a great distraction: Immense forests, vast lakes, fields and houses submerged by the floods from the last rains, a few buildings, car dealerships. It was a quick glimpse of daily life in America, so close and yet so far away. The truth was I did not want to miss out on that route, but sleepiness periodically defeated me. I had hardly slept at all the night before. I was lying on the floor in Tallahatchie waiting for the transfer, a long and tedious process. Resting on the bus was in intervals because the handcuffs made it impossible to get into a comfortable position. We also had to go to the bathroom cuffed hand and foot and eat what they gave us: A bag with two pieces of bread, cheese, mayonnaise, some chips, some sweet cookies and a tiny bottle of water. You had to become almost a contortionist to eat like that, but necessity works wonders! And they even told us not to throw anything on the floor, an inconceivable order while being locked up in a moving vehicle. We finally reached our destination: Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility. The jail from the outside looks like a large, rough, imposing and challenging concrete cube. A fat woman who spoke in Spanish and English entered the bus and led us into the prison. Several officers proceeded to free us from the handcuffs as soon as we got out. Finally! They gave me a cardboard box with my name that was, conveniently, already waiting for me. I also had a new identification number (also known as an A number), which would be my ID inside the jail.

Yariel Valdés González’s Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility ID (Photo courtesy of Yariel Valdés González)

We had to put our clothes and shoes in the box and they gave us the uniform: A bright yellow shirt and pants and plastic flip-flops so rough they looked like enemies of the feet. I think no one in this country would think of wearing them, much less the fabric of these clothes that are made in Pakistan with a 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton blend. The result is a garment that is rough to the touch and does not yield, further contributing to the feeling of confinement and suffocation. It is as if the uniform also reminds you that you are in prison.


After completing the registration process, they brought us to a classroom where we waited for the prison’s warden. He soon arrived with the help of the fat lady who translated into Spanish as he explained the rules of the game. “You are not prisoners,” he warned in a stern voice. “You are only detained until your immigration process is complete, about which we have no power or information. We are only here to feed and care for you.” The warden added that although we are not “prisoners,” as counterproductive it may seem, we are subject to the rules of any prisoner in this jail. “Anyone who breaks them will be punished,” added that large man in his 40s with a threatening tone. I was nevertheless happy to be out of Tallahatchie. I would only wait a few days here to see the judge and be able to go free to continue my process. I was told the judge can “reactivate” my parole and everything would be resolved soon. They led me to my dorm after the “friendly” welcome ended. A prisoner dressed in green stripes who was standing very close to the entrance gave me a bag with some belongings and a very thin mattress. They opened the door and I went inside. People inside crowded around the door and a panel of glass that allowed us to see into the room. Everyone was eager to see the new victims. “That is a Cuban,” one of them said as soon as I entered. They immediately took my mattress when they heard my affirmative answer and helped me to settle in my bed, number 30 in the C-3 bunker. “Welcome to hell!” another Cuban told me and little by little everyone was in charge of erasing all the hopes that sustained me. “Nobody leaves here,” they said to me and the joy for the supposed end was fading. They began to deny every bit of information that I brought with me. There are Cubans here who have been in prison for a year or more, only in this detention center. I could not believe it. All of them had “credible fear,” all of them were entitled to parole and all of them were locked up with their dreams hanging by a thread. Many of the Cubans have already lost their asylum hearings and are appealing the immigration judge’s decision. “The only ones who have left here have been deported or who have been out of Cuba for more than two years,” they warned me. I’ve only been off the island for seven months, so that option doesn’t apply to me, at least not at the moment. I felt like all the doors were closing. Each conversation was a slam to my longings, a slap that plunged me deeper into a sea of despair. I exploded. I burst into tears in my bed, under the blanket. I couldn’t control myself. I spent a long time trying to overcome that painful and bitter trance on my own, drawing upon my strength to get up from my hiding place. I barely made it. I went to make the free calls that prisons always offer every time you arrive at a new detention center when you still don’t have money on your phone account. They are just three or five-minute calls that only allow you to say where you are and how you are. I called my aunt and uncle and told them my current location and the ways for them to add money to an account so I could call them. I also contacted (Washington Blade International News Editor) Michael (Lavers) and Hugo Landa, the director of Cubanet, an independent news site for which I worked from Cuba. I poured all my frustrations on them. The words barely came out as my eyes were two springs of tears. They tried to calm me down as best they could. They told me that “each case is different” and not to worry because they would not abandon me. Their words comforted me a little bit. They were a small ointment for the open, latent and bleeding wound that Louisiana was giving me. I hung up while trying to erase the anguish from my face. I don’t know if I made it. I didn’t want to appear weak to everyone else, although I imagine my comrades from Tallahatchie were in the same situation. I was hungry at night and the rest of the Cubans must have known that from their own experiences. They invited me to a meal they made at around 8 p.m. They served me some rice and soup, for which I will be forever grateful, in a glass. It was a delicacy from the gods in order to not go to sleep hungry, which is one of the worst sensations in life.

Prison journalism The idea of writing about Louisiana had been on my mind for several days. I had already done journalism in Tallahatchie by interviewing my friends Darwin and Brittany and I was also thinking of sitting down to organize the ideas for those interviews around the situation of the LGTBQ community in Honduras and Guatemala, the countries from which my friends come. Their testimonies were terrifying voices in my ears, which could not understand such disproportionate evil or justification. I wrote both stories, trying to relive the terror of both, persecuted by homophobic and soulless gangs, in no time. The articles also sought to make their cases visible and that it could also serve as evidence in their migration processes. I don’t know if they were able to see them at some point, or if a relative told them, because they were already in different detention centers by the time I wrote them and they were published. My meeting with the warden My article on Louisiana has been a success. Michael tells me that many people have read it and shared it on social media. Other websites have also aggregated it or have written their own versions of it and many people in Cuba already know where and how I am. My only fear is that my grandparents will find out. We have protected them because they are already too old and we must avoid unnecessary suffering and worry. It won’t solve anything if they know. The Blade will have my story on the front page. It is a great honor for me, as a Cuban journalist and exile. Being on the cover of a newspaper has always thrilled me. Another article of mine had already headlined that gay weekly in the American capital, but undoubtedly this one will acquire other dimensions, which I hope will be positive for me and for those of us who live in Bossier. So it was. ne afternoon an officer called my name at the entrance to the dorm. I picked up my ocuments thinking that it would be a legal visit. I was, however, brought to the reception area where I was greeted by another officer who began to speak to me. His first uestion was whether I spoke English. I replied, “a little.” A nurse of Mexican ancestry who was standing next to me would assist me if my vocabulary was not up to the level of the conversation. With a serious tone, the warden told me that he had received a complaint: The human rights of immigrants in his prison were being violated. The person responsible was me and he had brought me before him to tell him about the “mistreatments” that I had suffered and that had reached the ears of his bosses who were obviously not happy with the bad publicity. He had never dealt with me before. I wasn’t on any list of troublemakers or those who had not been disciplined, so he didn’t understand the root of it all. I had confused him. The warden looked concerned. His face revealed gestures of disorientation until I explained that I was a journalist. His face at that moment lit up and he came to understand what was happening. He was not aware of my article. He had only received that complaint that to him was baseless and full of lies. We got into a debate on many issues with prison and the immigration process that I face here. He claimed that I (and everyone else) were just upset about the way things were going with the judge, but he couldn’t do anything about it. As the highest authority in the jail — only after a few minutes of conversation did I know that I was talking to the warden because I did not remember his face — he did have the power to change many of the absurd rules and racist and abusive behaviors of some of his subordinates. He had not experienced many of the situations described in the article first hand, but therein lies one of the journalist’s functions: To cover other people’s problems and publicize them in search of an appropriate solution. We each expressed our points of view on what we considered fair and unfair, rights and duties of immigrants in their custody and different situations that did not require a great effort to make our stay in this place more pleasant. I even complained about an officer who looked at us with the eyes of a cra y racist and treated us like subhumans. He said he would talk to him and asked about the officer who had brought me to him, a young man with weight and hatred to spare. I rated his behavior as “more or less,” so as not to put myself in such a difficult situation, and they all laughed. The reception room where the interrogation took place was packed with officers. No one wanted to miss this unusual sight. They all looked at me with inquiring eyes, offended because I was “biting the hand that fed me.” That is why I had to measure my words with a ruler. I was entering dangerous territory. I could not forget my position: I

A handwritten draft of an article about Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility’s conditions that Yariel Valdés González sent to the Washington Blade. (Photo courtesy of Valdés)

am at their mercy, although the warden left me with the feeling that he is a rational and receptive man, or so he proved. Our conversation progressed calmly, without rises in tone and in an atmosphere of respect, although the tension never left the room. I felt at various points that he understood my viewpoints and I had the remote illusion that some changes could come. The warden, of course, did not like seeing his damaged reputation on the internet, and that made him defensive all the time. He tried to explain to me the causes of many actions, justifying the vile and ruthless behavior of some. He covered himself with a sheepskin before the wolf in front of him who had attacked his institution with “falsehoods.” There was not a second during the meeting in which he did not perceive the nervous pulses of my blood running through me from head to toe. I still managed to stay calm, despite the fact that my heart pounding in my chest proved the opposite. The nurse asked me to write the title of the article “Living an ‘American Nightmare’” and the page where she could find it while the warden and I ended that conversation with a handshake. He took me back to my dorm with the same officer. An alert went off inside the prison from that moment on: They had an immigrant inside who could be heard on the outside. Inside me, on the contrary, hope was sewn that some improvements could come true. The most certain thing, however, was that I was forever marked as “the one who wrote the article.”

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is mayor of College Park, Md.

D.C. statehood is an LGBTQ equality issue

Lack of congressional representation rooted in racism Washington, D.C. has long been a power center for the LGBTQ community. Our community has made a deep imprint on Washington, D.C. life, politics, and culture – from Frank ameny and the Mattachine Society, to Whitman-Walker filling the vacuum left by the Reagan administration when the HI AIDS crisis hit, to Dupont Circle and the modern e uality movement. Currently, the city has the highest percentage of LGBT individuals in the nited States, with 9.8% of the population identifying as members of the community. Throughout the DMV region, the LGBTQ+ community matters – Maryland was one of the first states in the nation to pass e ual marriage rights for same-sex couples at the ballot box, a movement I was proud to be part of. The State of Maryland has full authority over its own family laws, without its budget being subject to approval of Congress. This is important. In Maryland, we have been able to create positive change not just on the local and state level, but also on the federal level. I am fortunate enough to live in, and represent, a jurisdiction that has not just full congressional representation, but strong advocates in Congress. In College Park, we appreciate having Steny Hoyer, the second most powerful member of the House of Representatives, as our representative and advocate. We also appreciate having our two senators – Chris Van Hollen, a rising leader in the Senate, and Ben Cardin, who holds key leadership roles in several Senate committees. All of this makes it that much more frustrating that the District of Columbia — the center of our region and a place where many College Park residents go to work, shop, and eat — lacks full representation in Congress, and lacks full control over its own laws and budget. Our national leadership can ignore the interests and needs of our region, and restrict the ability of D.C. residents to decide their own policies and set their own rules, without any fear of serious repercussion. This is unacceptable. As leaders and as a community that votes, we can do better. The continued lack of congressional representation for the District of Columbia is rooted in racism and D.C.’s historic status as an important power and cultural center for African Americans. Our country’s resistance to Home Rule and political power for the local community in D.C. stemmed from African-American power in Washington, D.C., starting with Reconstruction. White Americans spoke openly about the desire to keep power in the capital city away from its African-American population. As such, statehood for the District of Columbia is critical not only to give full representation for its strong and vibrant African-American community, but also its strong and vibrant LGBT community. Without full and e ual representation in Congress, the significant advances that we have made locally for the LGBT community will not be reflected in our national leadership, and the ability for our community’s local leaders to pursue advances on the local level is deeply hindered. For me, this isn’t just a political issue, it’s a personal one. When my husband Dave and I joined Deane and Polyak v. Conaway, the lawsuit for e ual marriage rights for same-sex couples in Maryland, we learned the importance of representation of our community’s interests in our state and federal legislative bodies. After the Maryland Court of Appeals decided against marriage e uality in Maryland by a vote of -3, we had to turn to the Maryland General Assembly to secure our rights as a married couple. We now are looking to the nited States Congress to advance e uality on the federal level. nfortunately, congressional representatives like Sen. yrsten Sinema, who claim to believe in e uality for the LGBT e uality, continue to stand in the way of the Democratic majority’s will to grant full statehood to the District of Columbia. By supporting the filibuster, Sinema and others like West irginia Sen. Joe Manchin continue to prevent Congress from giving a full voice to D.C.’s LGBT community, and all D.C. residents. Critical civil rights legislation like the E uality Act, which would help ensure recognition of full civil rights for the LGBT community would be much more likely to pass if D.C. had two senators directly accountable to D.C. voters. This would benefit LGBT and allied residents of College Park, the entire State of Maryland, and the whole country. It is time for all fair-minded legislators to stop standing in the way and allow D.C. statehood to pass both chambers of Congress.

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RUTH EISENBERG and LETITIA GOMEZ are Rehoboth Beach homeowners and appellants from the Planning Commission decision granting Clear Space Theatre’s building permits.

pholding the law in Rehoboth

Clear Space Theatre plan should include off-street parking We were dismayed to see evin Naff’s opinion piece in the Blade that attempts to turn a land use dispute about a local theater in Rehoboth Beach into a personal attack on the mayor and members of the Board of Commissioners. The mayor and commissioners made the right decision. The controversy grows out of a proposal by Clear Space Theatre (CST) to erect two new buildings, including a 256-seat theater and a second building housing the CST Arts Institute, with no provision for parking. They would be located on lots very close to the busy traffic circle at the entrance to Rehoboth. The Rehoboth city code mandates site plan review for large and or complex projects, which would have a major impact on the city. The mayor and commission justifiably disapproved the proposal because CST never submitted code compliant plans, and the Planning Commission never reviewed and never approved code compliant plans. These irregularities would allow CST to avoid including the off-street parking that the City oning Code re uires for these two buildings and their activities.

The strangest criticism of the vote to reject the proposal was the suggestion in the opinion piece that the mayor and commission’s decision was tainted with anti-gay bias. nsurprisingly in a gayfriendly town like Rehoboth, there are gay men and lesbians on both sides of this dispute. When members of our community disagree on an issue like how best to manage local land use, it’s a disagreement, not a question of anti-gay hostility. It should go without saying that as residents of Rehoboth, we have the right to expect that development proposals that will dramatically affect the town’s quality of life will be carefully considered and that the city’s laws will be enforced. We believe the supporters of the theater, many of whom do not live in the city limits of Rehoboth Beach, expect the same where they live. These concerns are e ually important for visitors, whose most fre uent complaints about our town are excessive traffic and lack of parking. Those of us who appealed the Planning Commission decision (all Rehoboth Beach homeowners) want to solve these problems, not put our heads in the lovely Rehoboth Beach sand until it is too late to fix them. We support theater also, and we hope that CST can remain in the town of Rehoboth, but with a provision for off-street parking that the law requires and in a location that generates good will rather than headaches.


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

Federal money shouldn’t go to schools that discriminate WaPo gets it wrong again

It seems like the 100th time the Washington Post editorialized defending the D.C. school voucher program. Their online headline was, “Why are unions and Democrats so + Largest LGBT owned title company opposed to giving poor children a choice in schooling?” They make unproven claims about the benefit those scholarship children get compared to public school programs + Billions of dollars in transactions closed annually available to all children in D.C. + 6 in house attorneys Democrats and unions oppose the program because studies done each year by + Residential and commercial transactions the Department of Education reached the same conclusion as the one done in May 2019, which concluded: “The voucher program had no impact on student academic + In home and in office refinance settlements achievement.” + Licensed in DC, DE, MD, NJ, VA & WV The report went on to say, “There were no statistically significant impacts on either reading or mathematics achievement for students who received vouchers or used vouchers three years after applying to the program.” Further, “The lack of impact on student academic achievement applied to each of the study’s eight subgroups of students: (1) students attending schools in need of improvement when they applied, (2) students not attending schools in need of improvement when they applied, (3) students entering elementary grades when they applied, (4) students entering secondary grades when they applied, (5) students scoring above the median in reading at the time of application, (6) students below the median in reading at the time of application, (7) students scoring above the median in mathematics at the time of application, and (8) students below the median in mathematics at the time of application.” Then there is another major concern, which is those scholarships may be used in religious schools that have discriminated against LGBTQ students and staff. Former D.C. Council member David Grosso, chairman of the D.C. City Council Committee on Education said, “It is disturbing that over 80% of the students with vouchers attend schools that operate outside the non-discrimination provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act.” So there are clear reasons for unions and Democrats to oppose this rip-off of federal Some think I should dress more like funds, which instead could be used by students in the DCPS and charter school system. a woman. Some think I should dress According to the D.C. Public Charter School Board in the 2019-2020 school year, “The more like a man. number of students enrolled in public schools in the District of Columbia increased for the 11th consecutive year, reaching 94,603, according to preliminary data released by the ffice of the State Superintendent of Education ( SSE). There are 3,556 P - and adult students enrolled in public charter schools in the 0 - 0 school year.” Clearly parents have a choice of where to send their children in D.C. and they are making those choices. Another point the Post tries to make in its editorial is the District welcomed this decision to fund the program years ago. They mention one public official who supported what Republicans in Congress foisted on the District and that was Mayor Anthony Williams. He was pilloried for his support of this program at the time by other D.C. elected officials, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. The other person pilloried for her support in the Senate was Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) who it was pointed out would never have had the guts to try and foist the program on residents in her state. They couldn’t come up with Please treat me the same way any another politician in DC who supported it because there were none. person would want to be treated: The time has come to phase out this program and President Biden intends that to ADVERTISI with courtesy and respect. happen. I applaud him for that. In its D.C. spending bill for 2022 the House appropriations PROOF #1 ISSUE DATE: 171208 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: bill concludes it is time for that to happen. Even the Post in its editorial grudgingly admits, Discrimination based on gender identity and “To be sure the quality of the city’s public schools has improved since the program was expression illegal theofDistrict REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submittediswithin 24 in hours the date of of Columbia. 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 enacted.” REVISIONS If you think you’ve been the target of 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,discrimination, and/or any materialvisit to which users REDESIGN www.ohr.dc.gov Opponents of this program have always said a pillar of our democracy is our children can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or TEXT REVISIONS any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any 727-4559. or call (202) are entitled to a free public education. We can agree that education should be improved copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair IMAGE/LOGO REVISIONS competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the ADVERTISER SIGNATURE for all, our teachers should be paid more, and the federal government should contribute NO REVISIONS washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all By signing this proof you are agreeing to y liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred washington blade newspaper. This include more to the national education budget. Taking money from the meager amount the by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations payment and insertion schedule. and warranties. federal government contributes to public education and sharing it with private parochial GLBT AFFAIRS schools in this way is neither appropriate nor valuable as all the studies have shown no matter how often the Post tries to claim differently. Maybe it’s time the Post changed its editorial board, or at least the person who writes on local issues, so we can get some differing views in our hometown paper. In the case of Show your support! Spread word of the #TransRespect campaign by photographing this ad and sharing on Twitter. school vouchers their views are both repetitive and wrong.

I may not fit some ideas about gender, and I am a proud part of DC.


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D.C. summer ablaze with events, concerts, art

A plethora of activity in wake of COVID restrictions loosening up By PRINCE CHINGARANDE

After a year of public events being cancelled and residents staying cooped up in their homes due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the “outside” is finally open and D.C. is effervescing with events. Check out ways to make up for lost time during the remaining months of this year’s summer season: The Baltimore Museum of Art will open Women Behaving Badly: 400 Years of Power & Protest, an exhibition dedicated to the women who rebelled on Sunday, July 18. The exhibition combines prints, photographs, and books to tell the stories of past heroines and modern trailblazers, celebrating women throughout history who broke rules, transgressed boundaries, and insisted upon recognition of their human rights. For more information, visit the BMA’s website. Tschabalala Self: By My Self is on view at the BMA through Sept. 19, 2021. Explore 13 paintings and two related sculptures curated by Cecilia Wichmann that reveal artist Tschabalala Self’s depth, intricacy, and singularity. The exhibition explores how the compositional process generates meaning in Self’s work, reflecting her theory of selfhood as a consciousness that is at once produced by external images and by an ongoing reworking and evolving of forms into a new whole. Self was born in Harlem, New York, in 1990 and is based in New Haven, Conn. For more information, visit the BMA’s website. The 1455 Summer Festival will begin on Thursday, July 15 at 4 p.m., featuring a stellar lineup of literary leaders and creatives (many of whom are part of the LGBTQ community) who will share their insights into the art of storytelling. The lineup will include literary superstar Brian Broome, author of “Punch Me Up to the Gods,” and Booker-Prize-winning author “Shuggie Bain” and fashion designer Douglas Stuart, among others. Some of the festival’s events include “What Makes a Successful (Queer) Narrative?” a panel that’ll dissect queer storytelling throughout the years. There will also be a teen poetry contest with a $5,000 grand prize. For more information, visit the festival’s website. The National Museum of Asian Art will open Hokusai: Mad about Painting on Saturday, Aug. 28. The exhibition will feature work by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) best known for his iconic woodblock print, “The Great Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa” and a breathtaking painting titled “Breaking Waves” that was created 15 years after Great Wave at the height of Hokusai’s career. Drawing on the museum’s impressive Hokusai collection, visitors have the opportunity to see a new presentation, with artworks being added throughout the summer. In addition to Breaking Waves, the exhibition includes works large and small, from folding screens and hanging scrolls to paintings and drawings. For more information, visit the NMAA’s website. Awesome Con will be from Friday, Aug. 20 to Sunday, Aug. 22. The event is D.C.’s own Comic Con, a celebration of geek culture, bringing more than 70,000 fans together with their favorite stars from across comics, movies, television, toys, games, and more. Awesome Con is home to Science Fair, Book Fair, Awesome Con Jr, Pride Alley, a celebration of queer creators and fans curated by GeeksOUT, and Destination Cosplay. For more information, visit awesomecon.com. The Maryland Renaissance Festival will begin on Saturday, Aug. 28 and runs Saturdays and Sundays and Labor Day Monday through Sunday, Oct. 24 for nine weekends of thrills, feasting, handmade crafts, entertainment and merriment in Crownsville, near Annapolis, Md. The 27-acre Village of Revel Grove comes to life each autumn with more than 200 professional performers on 10 stages, a 3,000 seat arena with armored jousting on magnificent steeds and streets filled with village characters. For more information, visit rennfest.com. The National Museum of Women in the Arts will be open for special evening hours from Thursday, Aug. 5 to Friday, Aug. 6 from 5-8 p.m. The featured exhibitions are Mary Ellen Mark: Girlhood, which presents images photographer Mary Ellen Mark made throughout her career depicting girls and young women, and Selections from the Collection, which highlights historical and contemporary art by women around the world. Free timed tickets are required so that the museum can ensure the safety of patrons and their staff. Visit their website for more information. The 13th Annual Ukefest will begin on Friday, Aug. 13. Celebrating a decade dedicated to this small but mighty music maker, UkeFest Artistic Directors Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer return alongside extraordinary instructors like Peter Luongo, Kevin Carroll, Ginger Johnson and more. The program orientation will kick off on Friday night, followed by four days of classes and evening events. For those looking for more intensive skill development, Strathmore’s UkeFest is the only program of its kind that offers an advanced track. Admission is $225 and more information is available at Strathmore.org. The Drive-In at Union Market will start at 7:30 p.m. every first Friday of the month through October. While watching films under the stars, enjoy dozens of local, regional, and international foods: Egyptian favorites by Fava Pot, night market noodles from 1 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JULY 16, 2021

Som Tam, ice cream locally churned by The Creamery, tasty takeout burgers from Lucky Buns and more. Movie audio will be transmitted through an FM transmitter on the radio and through speakers placed on Neal Place. All movies are shown with open captioning, and the movie plays rain or shine. Each showing costs $20 per car. For A scene from 2019’s Awesome Con. This year’s event is slated more information, visit for the weekend of August 20. (Blade photo by Michael Key) unionmarketdc.com. Unwind with an hourlong vinyasa outdoor yoga session taught by District Flow Yoga every Tuesday and Thursday on District Pier and every Sunday morning on Recreation Pier at The Wharf. Enjoy waterfront views and fresh air as you shed the stress of the day or greet the new one. The outdoor yoga class on Sunday, July 25 is hosted on Recreation The BOB MOULD BAND plays 9:30 Club on Sept. 18. (Photo courtesy 9:30 Club) Pier from 9-10 a.m. and costs $10. Tickets must be purchased on Eventbrite. For more information, visit wharfdc.com. FUTURES, the first building-wide exploration of the future on the National Mall, will open in the late summer and run through summer 2022. This exhibition is your guide to a vast array of interactives, artworks, technologies, and ideas that are glimpses into humanity’s next chapter. Smell a molecule. Clean your clothes in a wetland. Meditate with an AI robot. Travel through space and time. Watch water being harvested from the air. Become an emoji. The FUTURES is yours to decide, debate, delight. Patrons are encouraged to dream big, and imagine not just one future, but many possible futures on the horizon—playful, sustainable, inclusive. Visit the Arts and Industries Building’s website for more information. The National Portrait Gallery will open “Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands” on Friday, Aug. 27. Hung Liu (b. 1948) is a contemporary Chinese American artist, whose multilayered paintings have established new frameworks for understanding portraiture in relation to time, memory, and history. Often sourcing her subjects from photographs, Liu elevates overlooked individuals by amplifying the stories of those who have historically been invisible or unheard. More information is available at the gallery’s website. After a long COVID drought, music is back! The 9:30 Club has a schedule of shows starting in September, notably the return of the Bob Mould Band on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. (tickets are $25 and still available). Tinashe performs her “333Tour” on Oct. 3 (tickets on sale July 16). Visit 930.com for the full schedule and hurry, because many shows are already selling out. Meanwhile, at I.M.P.’s Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, more shows are headed our way, including James Taylor and his All-Star Band on Aug. 10. Wilco and SleaterKinney perform Aug. 20. For more throwback fixes, New Kids on the Block are slated for Aug. 4 and Alanis Morissette with Garbage and Liz Phair play on Aug. 31. Visit merriweathermusic.com for the full lineup. Wolf Trap has a full schedule of events planned this summer as well. Highlights include Renee Fleming on Aug. 6, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on Aug. 12, and ABBA the Concert on Aug. 15. Visit wolftrap.org for the full schedule.

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D.C.’s restaurant scene bustling again

Western Market, range of new eateries arrive as COVID wanes By EVAN CAPLAN

From pandemic slumber to summer awakening: the D.C. dining scene is wasting no time in opening back up after restrictions were lifted in June. Make the best of eating and drinking inside or outside with a full plate of what’s to come in summer 2021. Check out all the openings and happenings in this list: To take in the entire dining scene, take part in Metropolitan Washington Summer Restaurant Week, running Aug. 9-15. Unlike the previous restaurant week, this will return to a focus on on-premises dining, but keep the family-to-go dinner meals and cocktail pairings for those who still want the takeout or at-home experience. In Barracks Row, Crazy Aunt Helen’s is a new spot from a veteran in the D.C. food industry. The all-day casual comfort food and diner-style spot is run by first-time owner and former marketing director of lesbian-owned Hank’s Oyster Bar, Shayne Mason. Images of icons like Jackie Kennedy line the wall, with dishes like fried chicken, housecured pastrami Reubens, and mushroom “crab” cakes. The Line Hotel closed two of its restaurants during the pandemic, but is now set to open No Goodbyes. It will serve Chesapeake-based dishes, with crab cakes as the star. Fried chicken and catfish will also be on the menu. Replacing the B Too spot in the heart of 14th Street will be Maiz 64, an upscale Mexican spot to highlight small-batch mezcal. It is a “modern homage to authentic Mexican cuisine,” that uses local ingredients. Check out the ceviche raw bar, as well as the creative taco bar with creative options like charred broccoli mole and suckling pig with pork rinds and avocado. On the wharf, the enormous Ilili brings elegant Mediterranean-Levantine cuisine to D.C. “with a New York attitude” as it is the second spot outside of its first Manhattan location. The chef tops labneh yogurt with Petrossian roe, and stuffs kibbeh with steak tartare. Just north of U Street, taking over the vacant former Quarter & Glory space, will be St. James. The owner and chef is Peter Prime, who currently runs Cane on H Street, N.E. (Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant). He is now overseeing this sister project with a much larger footprint. Named for a city in his home country of Trinidad, the restaurant brings flavors from across the Caribbean through Prime’s modern lens. In Adams Morgan, a pop-up brings Bolivian cocktails and street food courtesy of Carla Sanchez and her brother. Called Casa Kantuta, the pop-up runs until Aug. 8 in the bottom level of the Spacycloud restaurant-shop. Bartender Luis Aliaga slings drinks using Andean ingredients and inspiration with fun names like the Angry Llama. Just north in Adams Morgan is Shabu Plus. In the same building as Death Punch Bar and Shibuya, the same owners (Chef Darren Norris and wife Candice) bring a Japanese hot pot experience. Diners start with a choice of one of three broths, plus vegetables, and the order meats like wagyu and lobster tail by the ounce. Over in Shaw, the former Bistro Bohem space is set to be refreshed as Quattro Osteria. The owners, originally from Naples, bring an Italian flair, with well-known and modern dishes and drinks. In Foggy Bottom, a huge new marketplace called Western Market will open later in the fall. The 12,300-square-foot space will transform a historic market, originally built in 1802, into a hall with more than a dozen food and beverage vendors. Taste everything from lobster rolls to sushi to arepas, and even sub sandwiches from Shaw’s Capo Deli.

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In Foggy Bottom, a huge new marketplace called Western Market will open later in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Western Market)

Chef Alfredo Solis already has three Mexican restaurants (Anafre, El Sol, Mezcalero). His next venture travels farther afield in the form of Mariscos 1133 on 11th Street. Mariscos 1133 celebrates the coastal cuisine of the entire continent of communities, with inspiration from California, Pero, Mexico, and beyond. Diners can expect dishes like Brazilian moqueca (fish stew), ceviches, and with a nod to the local, a spin on crab cakes. Gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design’s latest opening is Mi Casa in Dupont Circle. Inspired by Chef Roberto Santibañez’s years living in Texas and his Mexican heritage, Mi Casa’s “border cuisine” concept aims to marry Mexican, TexMex, and the American Southwest. Hungry now? Get a taste of restaurants that opened during the spring: Las Gemelas Cocina. This dual-concept restaurant in La Cosecha brings a casual taco bar as well as an upscale sit-down Mexican menu. It comes from the operators of Espita in Shaw. The Point. This enormous seafood restaurant anchors new development in Buzzard Point, near Audi Field. Crab doughnuts are the star, plus lots of fish and lobster rolls. It’s run by the owners of Ivy City Smokehouse and Tony & Joe’s. Dauphine’s. This elegant homage to cuisine from New Orleans brings not only a raw bar (for seafood) but a boucherie, a whole-pig butcher style of service popular in Cajun cooking. Casual dishes like po’ boys are offered next to headcheese and caviar. La Famosa. This Navy Yard spot channels Puerto Rico through a relaxed, waterside vibe and lots of fried plantains and rum. Makan. This Malaysian restaurant in Columbia Heights narrows Southeast Asian dishes to hone in on this particular country. Taste the unripe mango salad, as well as the pandan leaf that appears in both drinks and dishes. Caruso’s Grocery. This homey Italian spot by Matt Adler (from Osteria Morini) is set near the Potomac Avenue Metro. A deep wine list accompanies dishes like burrata, shrimp scampi, and chicken Parm. Chicatana. This Mexican restaurant lands in an area of 14th Street of Columbia Heights with several other Mexican eateries nearby – but has a twist. It’s named for a type of ant used in traditional Oaxacan cuisine, tossing a couple tiny crunchy ants (similar to chapulines, or grasshopper) on anything from ceviche to cocktails. The menu, instead of focusing on tacos, offers a broad and modern take on Mexican food. Lupo Pizzeria. This 14th Street location comes from the same group as Lupo Verde. Lupo Pizzeria offers a menu of elevated Italian street food, Italian cocktails, and lots of bubbly. The signature from the chef is pizza made with handmade black squidink dough.

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In-person, virtual, and outdoor theater options abound

Theater Alliance’s producing artistic director RAYMOND O.CALDWELL directs ‘The Blackest Battle.’

Your favorite D.C. stages are busy this season

In the before times, summer at the Kennedy Center meant a big Broadway musical national tour or two. Slipping into the unmistakable box’s cool, darkened red Opera House for a show during the dog days of summer is a treat I’ve enjoyed since I was kid. But because of the pandemic, this summer the landmark’s indoor spaces remain dark. But there’s still a lot happening. The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage has moved outdoors to the Reach, a collection of pavilions and open areas adjacent to the original building. In this striking, openair, riverside plaza, you’ll find loads of free entertainment ranging from live music and film screenings to dance lessons, yoga sessions, and arts markets. While it’s too late to enjoy early June’s “The Wig Party: A Capitol Drag Festival,” there’s still much to see in-person and via livestream. Here are a few selections from the Millennium Stage program. The DMV’s authentic Afro-Latinx experience “Adobo Gigante” (July 22-24) returns with a midsummer weekend of programming. There’s “Raga at the REACH” (Aug. 5-7), a three-day festival focused on presenting the vibrant culture and heritage of India through live music, dance, film, and local arts vendors. And in late August, it’s “On Deck: Women Shedding Through Boundaries” (Aug. 26-28), an all-inclusive festival featuring women in action sports and music like skateboarding and jazz. Visit kennedy-center.org for more information. Elsewhere around town, companies and artists are presenting heaps of new, original work, featuring both familiar and less familiar faces. Local out playwright George Purefoy Tilson’s new one act “Holler” premieres virtually on Sunday July 18 at 7 p.m. Set in the hills of coal country, it’s the story of four siblings who cling to fading memories while wrestling with a haunting secret. The virtual production is directed by talented Evan Casey who is also included in the five-person cast along with Bernadette Arvidson, Emilie Zelle Holmstock, Larry Levinson, and Timothy Sayles. “Holler’s” opening is a fundraiser for CCI Health & Wellness Services, an organization that supports the most vulnerable in local communities. For more information visit https://bit. ly/hollerpremiere. Subsequent streaming opportunities will soon be made available via link on the “Holler” Facebook page. For summer of 2021, Spooky Action Theatre presents “Happy, Beyond…Happy,” a short play virtual reading

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By PATRICK FOLLIARD series inspired by a list of “happiness words” that do not directly translate into English. Through July 18, the two readings are playwrights MarieClaude St-Laurent and Marie-Ève Milothelmed’s “Collect Call,” the story of sisters and their rocky relationship; and Emma Gibson’s “Adam + Rose,” a play about separation and love. Both readings are directed by esteemed gay director José Zayes. Spookyaction.org Through July 25, Studio Theatre is streaming awardwinning playwright George Brant’s “Tender Age.” Directed by Henry Godinez, the one-person play stars New York actor Bobby Moreno as Martín, a young father who faces a moral reckoning after going to work as a security guard at a local Walmart-turned-detention center for children separated from their families at the nearby Texas border. Studio-theatre.org Theater Alliance ends its digital season with playwright Psalmayene 24’s “The Blackest Battle” (July 31 – August 29), a revolutionary hip-hop musical that puts an original spin on urban violence. Set on the Fourth of July in the not-too-distant future, it portrays a world where reparations have been paid to African Americans yet Black on Black violence rages on. But despite the bellicose atmosphere, two members of warring rap factions manage to fall in love. “The Blackest Battle” is directed by Theater Alliance’s out artistic director Raymond O. Caldwell, and features a sevenperson cast including talented out actor Jade Jones as Bonita. Theateralliance.com Tyson’s 1st Stage is presenting its annual Logan Festival of Solo Performance, only this year it’s happening outdoors at busy Boro Park (8350 Broad Street, Tysons, Va.). The festival opener is “Opera Soup” (Aug. 21 -29), a family-friendly amalgam of music and lively storytelling written and performed by accomplished opera singer Lori Brown Mirabel. And for just two special performances (also at Boro Park), Mirabel performs an autobiographical solo piece “Charmed Life” (Aug. 27-28) in which she tells not only her own story, but also pays homage to famous opera artists who have gone before, and specifically to the Black women opera singers of the past. 1ststage.org At Olney Theatre Center (OTC), the shady campus with its open-air amphitheater, the Root Family Stage, is ideal for safer, in-person offerings. Beginning in late July through the end of August, OTC

presents the weekly Friday night Andrew A. Isen Cabaret Series pairing some of the D.C. area’s best musical talent. The duos include Awa Sal Secka and out actor Bobby Smith (July 23); Ines Nassara and Tracy Lynn Olivera (July 30); Donna Migliaccio, and Nova Payton (Aug. 6); Rayanne Gonzales and local gay performer Rayshun Lamarr who appeared as a contestant on TV’s “The Voice” (Aug. 13); Greg Maheu and Vishal Vaidya (Aug. 20) and finally, Malinda Kathleen Reese and Alan Wiggins (Aug. 27). On two consecutive free admission Wednesday nights in August, OTC presents “Olney in Drag,” a two-part extravaganza where audiences are asked “enjoy a drink as these fabulous drag queens shine brighter than the stars in the evening sky.” The first show (Aug. 18) features Brooklyn Heights, Betty O’Hellno, Ariel Von Quinn, Evon Michelle. The second show (Aug. 25) includes Kristina Kelly, Vagenesis, Tiara Missou (David Singleton who appeared in “Elf the Musical” at OTC), and Echinacea Monroe (terrific out actor Solomon Parker). Olneytheatre.org If keeping kids entertained figures into your summer in the city, why not add some in-person youth theater to the mix? Bethesda’s Imagination Stage is borrowing Olney Theatre’s outdoor space to reprise “Paper Dreams” (July 31 – Aug. 15), a dance-based performance about friends who live inside a wastepaper basket. A collaboration with Mons Dansa Dance Company (Barcelona, Spain), it’s directed by Claudia Moreso and remounted by Imagination Stage’s Kathryn Chase Bryer. Admission is free. Imaginationstage. org Glen Echo Park’s Adventure Theatre is presenting “Fairytales in the Sun,” two original works performed inperson on the park’s outdoor campus. Running through Sept. 6, “Fairy Tales in the Sun” features two one-act plays: Lara Yang’s “The Flood in the Future,” the tale of a young girl who learns some vital life lessons about sacrifice and cooperation and Michelle Lynch’s “From Cinders to Ella,” a play about forging your own happily ever after. Both are directed by Stan Kang. Adventuretheatre-mtc. org

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New gay-directed doc Sexplanation’ seeks to de-shame sex D.C. Asian Pacific Film Festival runs virtually July 15-25 By KAELA ROEDER

The new, gay-directed film “Sexplanation” is hitting the big screen this week at the D.C. Asian Pacific Film Festival, along with other LGBTQ-centric movies. “Sexplanation,” by Alex Liu and Leonardo Neri, is a comprehensive, Schoolhouse Rockstyle documentary that follows Liu’s personal journey in removing shame and stigma around sex and sex education. The film festival features 56 movies from seven countries and runs virtually from July 15 to 25. Liu’s documentary is one of the seven feature films at the festival. “We have always celebrated and been inspired by the work of AAPI filmmakers, but we are at a pivotal time in history for Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” said Melissa Bisagni, the festival director, in a press release. “We are committed to driving awareness to the rich and diverse narratives of the AAPI experience and ensure the inclusion of communities that have been overlooked for far too long in film.” In “Sexplanation,” Liu, 39, interviews several sex experts, researchers and even his own family to deconstruct the long-lived shame around sex in the United States. He also outlines the lack of comprehensive sex education in schools — especially when it comes to non-heterosexual and cisgender relationships. Growing up as a gay man and not learning about queerness contributed to a great amount of shame and feelings of self-hatred, he said. “It’s dehumanizing. It feels like you’re invisible, feels like you don’t belong,” Liu said. “It’s just a very isolating anxiety-inducing existence. And I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.” This isn’t Liu’s first time working in the multimedia health space. He’s worked as a video, radio and print health journalist for CNN Health and the San Francisco NPR station KQED. As part of his research in the documentary, Liu interviews his parents about their limited sex education and awkward feelings around the topic. “Going into it was one of the most anxiety-ridden moments of my life because we never had these conversations before,” Liu said. “I’m just so grateful that they were willing to do

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‘Sexplanation’ is a comprehensive, Schoolhouse Rock-style documentary that follows Alex Liu’s personal journey in removing shame around sex.

it and do it on camera especially.” To ease the audience, Liu included old news clips, movie scenes and bright animations when explaining the shame-filled history of sex. “What we tried to do with the film is just present sex the way I think it should be presented: It’s fun, fantastic, pleasure-filled, brightly colored.” Liu’s goal in producing the film is to help people, especially LGBTQ folks, feel more comfortable about discussing sex, he said. When he came out 20 years ago, Liu said he thought he was comfortable with sex and had overcome sexual shame. Ultimately, battling sexual shame is a life-long process, he said. He said it’s an honor to be featured at the festival, especially to present sex in a positive way for an Asian-American audience. “We’re really not very well presented in many ways and it’s great to be able to show a side of the Asian American experience that many people have,” he said. Other LGBTQ films include the short “Incognito,” a film that centers on a young woman who claims to have teleported from the past and the short “Mint,” which captures a queer and Kazakh-Russian immigrant’s race against the clock to find the money for his final college tuition payment. The complete DC Asian Pacific Film Festival schedule and tickets can be found at apafilm.org.

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Friday, July 16

The National Museum of African Art will reopen its doors today. Visitors will be able to engage with African art and history dating back centuries. The National Museum of African Art provides a comprehensive look at the history of expressions on the African continent, using a fascinating creative lens. For information regarding hours and entry, visit the museum’s website. Friday Tea Time and social for older LGBTQ adults will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. You are welcome to bring your own beverage. For access to the Zoom link, email: justin@thedccenter.org.


Monday, July 19

Genderqueer DC support group will be on Zoom at 7 p.m. All those who identify as bigender, agender, genderfluid, or are not 00 cisgender are welcome to attend. For more information visit genderqueerdc. org or Genderqueer DC’s Facebook. The Center Aging Coffee Drop-in will be at 10 a.m. at the DC Center. LGBT Older Adults and friends are invited for friendly conversations and current issues that you might be dealing with. For more information visit Center Aging’s Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, July 20 Center Faith will host Interfaith Intersectional Forums at 7 p.m. online. In this forum, attendees will hear from panelists who participated in the LGBT history event “Stepping OUT on Faith” in 2014. These pioneers will speak about their interfaith spiritual experiences of the AIDS Memorial Quilt of the Names Project Foundation displayed on the National Mall 1987 that led to establishing Center Faith. To sign up to watch the livestream, visit: facebook.com/centerfaith. The Center Bi monthly round table will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This event is an opportunity for people to gather in order to discuss issues related to bisexuality or as Bi individuals in a private setting. Visit Center Bi’s Facebook or Meetup for more information. The BMA’s ‘Now is the Time’ exhibition closes July 18.

Wednesday, July 21

(Photo courtesy BMA)

Saturday, July 17 LGBTQ People of Color Support Group will be at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This peer support group is an outlet for LGBTQ people of color to come together and talk about anything affecting them in a space that strives to be safe and judgement free. There will be many activities including watching movies, poetry events, storytelling, and just hanging out with others. For more information, visit thedccenter.org/poc. Khush DC will host a South Asian LGBTQ Support Group at 1:30 p.m. via Zoom. This peer support group is an outlet for South Asian-identified LGBT individuals to come and talk about anything affecting them. It’s a secure, judgement-free environment to discuss relationships, sexuality, health, well-being, identity, culture, religion, and many other topics. For more information, please contact board.khushdc@ gmail.com.

Sunday, July 18 The DC Center and Beta Kappa Chapter of the Beta Phi Omega Sorority will have a peer-led Black Lesbian Support Group at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This support group will discuss the joys and challenges of being a Black lesbian. You do not need to be a member of the Beta Kappa Chapter or the Beta Phi Omega Sorority in order to join, but they do ask that you either identify as a lesbian or are questioning that aspect of your identity. For more information, please contact supportdesk@thedccenter.org.

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. Join BookMen DC for an informal discussion of gay literature (both fiction and non-fiction). Attendees mostly live in or near D.C., but a few members bring a breath of fresh air to meetings from outside the Beltway. Visitors to D.C. are always welcome to drop in and join the discussion. For more information, visit: bookmendc.blogspot.com.

Thursday, July 22 The DC Anti-Violence Project will have an open meeting on Zoom at 7 p.m. The primary mission of the DC Anti-Violence Project is to reduce violence against LGBT individuals (and those perceived as LGBT) through community outreach, education, and monitoring cases to ensure that the rights and dignity of LGBT victims are respected and protected. The DC Anti-Violence Project also seeks to assist victims of anti-LGBT violence by advocating on their behalf, encouraging reporting, and providing a community of support. To access the Zoom link, email supportdesk@ thedccenter.org.

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1455 Literary Arts Summer Festival celebrates queer work The third annual 1455 Literary Arts Summer Festival will be held from Thursday, July 15 to Saturday, July 17. This free virtual event features 200 literary leaders, from top book award winners to journalists and poets including Douglas Stuart, Lisa Ling, Sunny Hostin and more. This year’s festival will focus on the power of storytelling and the crucial role it plays not only in creative and academic fields, but far beyond. The gathering will be a rare opportunity for participants to learn from some of today’s most celebrated, diverse, and up-and-coming storytellers, who bring their unique perspectives to timely issues such as politics, race relations, and sexual equality. As part of the festival, 1455 will also host a Teen Poetry Contest centered around the theme of “Finding Community During Crisis.” The competitors will submit work that is a reflection on or reaction to the contemporary sociopolitical and cultural environment. The winner will receive recognition and an award of $5,000. For more information about the festival, visit: https://1455litarts.org.

Gay Men’s Chorus gears up for ‘Portraits’ project In preparation for the “Portraits” project, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (GMCW) has invited artists to submit work to be included, which will premiere in June 2024. “Portraits” will represent through visual art, music, and dance, the spectrum of sexual, gender, racial, ethnic, and cultural identities. Featured artworks may include a portrait, or a scene depicting an aspect of the human experience, including identity expression and historical references specific to the LGBT community. Artists may submit paintings, drawings, and photographs, or even a sample or sketch of a proposed work to be developed. Multiple submissions are permitted and artists will be awarded $2,500 per selected piece. Selected artworks will be used as projections as part of a live performance, brought to life aurally by music, and visually by GMCW’s 17th Street Dance ensemble to be presented in June 2024. Music will be commissioned by composers inspired by the artworks selected for the project. To submit artwork, visit: gmcw.org.

BMA’s ‘Now is the Time’ exhibition closing soon The Baltimore Museum of Art’s “Now is the Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection” exhibition will run until Sunday, July 18. The exhibition offers an insightful snapshot of the BMA’s curatorial effort, led by Asma Naeem, Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator, and Katy Siegel, Senior Programming and Research Curator and Thaw Chair of Modern Art at Stony Brook University, to identify artists deserving of greater scholarly research and public attention, placing the highest priority on those artists who are also women, Black, Indigenous, self-trained, and/or have connections to Baltimore. For more information regarding “Now is the Time,” visit the BMA’s website.


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Da ling dance doc celebrates legacy of AIDS-era masterpiece Capturing the will to survive of a beleaguered generation By JOHN PAUL KING

Once upon a time in New York City, Bill and Arnie formed a dance company. They met each other in 1971, falling in love at first sight across a crowded room at S NY, and spent the next decade exploring their lives and their art together. Arnie was a photographer, at first, but his fascination with the human body and its movement stoked by his collaborations with Bill, a dancer who was his muse and favorite ‘Can You Bring It’ from co-directors Rosalynde photographic subject soon led LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz captures the beauty of bodies in motion. (Photo courtesy Kino Lorber) him to become a dancer himself. Together they found acclaim as a team, creating their own works as part of the American Dance Asylum during a rise that culminated in the birth of the Bill T. Jones Arnie ane Company in 8 . What followed was a brilliant and prolific period in which the two partners were among the most celebrated dance artists in the New York scene. It was also a period when AIDS was ravaging the dance community, decimating the ranks of companies all over the city and casting its dark shadow over much of the work being produced at the time. Bill and Arnie, charmed as their lives had been, could not escape that shadow, and Arnie ane died of AIDS-related lymphoma, at the age of 3 , in 88. That bittersweet true-life love story would make for a profoundly moving documentary on its own strength alone, but the film delivered by co-directors Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwit has its sights on something bigger than that. “Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters” is the story of what happened after ane’s untimely passing, and it illuminates the way that art provides a channel for the personal to become universal and give expression to the shared trauma of an entire community. The new documentary, which debuted at the D C NYC film festival and opens in select theaters and virtual cinemas nationwide on July 6, is not about Bill and Arnie, nor even about Bill himself though his name is in the title and he appears extensively onscreen, both in contemporary and archival footage but about the seminal ballet that came in the wake of Arnie’s passing. “D-Man in the Waters” was mounted in 8 by Jones and the company he and ane had started, shaped by a creative process through which both he and his dancers found expression for the myriad emotions spawned by their loss. Set to Felix Mendelssohn’s soaring ctet for Strings, the piece captures the infectious energy, innocence and will to survive of a beleaguered generation, propelled by the non-stop momentum of dancers hurling across the stage in a whirlwind of leaps, rolls, and slides. Though it gives full weight to the inevitable sorrow at its core, it nevertheless maintains an attitude of defiant celebration, embodying strength and resilience over loss, and is widely acknowledged today as one of the most significant works of art to come out of the AIDS epidemic. “Can You Bring It” utili es extensive interviews and archival footage to chronicle the history of the original “D-Man” the title referring to the nickname for Demian Ac uavella, a beloved company member who struggled against the virus during its creation before himself dying in 0 while also following a contemporary remount of the production by students at Loyola Marymount niversity. Those students are led by none other than the film’s co-director, Rosalynde LeBlanc (herself a former member of the Jones ane Company and a leading figure in maintaining Jones’ legacy and pedagogy), and a large portion of the modern footage is centered around LeBlanc and Jones himself working with these young pre-professional dancers most of them likely not even born when the AIDS crisis was raging to help them find the personal connection re uired to unlock the power of the choreography. Through the juxtaposition of the two creative efforts, original and modern, the movie provides a thoughtful and unexpectedly gripping exploration of the process by which art can be adapted to the needs of a different era without losing the essence at its core. From an intellectual or aesthetic perspective, it’s a rich and nuanced close-up look at the hard work as much of it mental and emotional as physical that is the art of dance. CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM

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‘The Guncle’ never wanted kids but now has two Novel is as charming as they come with a surprise ending By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

‘The Guncle’ By Steven Rowley c.2021, Putnam $27 | 326 pages

The situation you’re facing isn’t one you wanted. You had no wish for it; in fact, it’s 100 percent the opposite. Not your circus, not your monkeys, as they say. So usually, you’d follow your instincts and run but this time, you surprise yourself by stepping up and taking ownership. Now it is your problem but, as in the new novel, “The Guncle” by Steven Rowley, that’s more than OK. Sara had been his friend first. Patrick wasn’t exactly happy when she married his brother, Greg, but she managed to make it work and he loved her for it. He loved her first, actually, and he never let her forget it. But now she was gone and Greg had asked the impossible: would Patrick – gay man, former TV star, Palm Springs fixture, no-responsibilities Patrick – take Greg and Sara’s kids, nine-year-old Maisie and six-year-old Grant, for the summer so Greg could go to rehab while grieving the death of his wife? Could the kids’ GUP (Gay Uncle Patrick) step up? No. There was no way that Patrick was taking temporary custody of two kids – but then his older sister, Clara, copped an attitude, rolled her eyes, and told him he was “off the hook.”

PfftRight. And so Greg headed to rehab after the funeral and the kids went home with Patrick to Palm Springs. It would be a long 90 days. Grant was cute but full of questions; Patrick learned to make things up. Maisie was nobody’s fool and Patrick learned to hide his passwords. He gave them “Guncle” Rules (gay + uncle = guncle), life lessons, and stories about their mother – but past that, what does a gay man who never wanted kids do when he suddenly has two of them? He takes them to the museum way too often, that’s what. He takes them to fivestar restaurants and cringes when they order kid food. He lounges with them in the pool, gets them a dog, lets them put up a Christmas tree in July, hugs them, and throws a party. And he loves them. There are four words that best describe “The Guncle”: A. Dor. A. Bull. That’s it. This novel is simply as charming as they come and don’t be surprised if you can almost hear your favorite actors as any of the characters here. Don’t be surprised, either, if you spend your vacation racing to reach the ending you think’s coming and you’re wrong. Indeed, author Steven Rowley offers the perfect mix of snorts and sobs here, snarky fun one minute and pathos the next but neither emotion is belabored or forced. That gives readers room to enjoy the tale as it unfolds and grows like an inflating pool toy, and to watch the characters twisting wistfully in irresistible, concentric circles. Your ticket’s in your hand, your suitcase is packed, your destination is close, but you need a book to get you there. If you’d love to immerse yourself inside a sweet novel like “The Guncle,” then step right up.







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Westminster Pride

Maryland festival draws hundreds (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

The Westminster Pride Festival was held in downtown Westminster, Md. on Saturday.

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Adventure cruisers

These two vehicles are perfect for your next adventure By JOE PHILLIPS

With everyone itching to get out and travel during the big reopening, it’s no wonder roadways are jammed with day-trippers and tourists. But these two vehicles can help you avoid the noise and go on your own excellent adventure.


CHRYSLER PACIFICA PINNACLE $55,000 Mpg: 19 city/28 highway 0 to 60 mph: 7.9 seconds Is there such a thing as a fun minivan You wouldn’t think so. But the Chrysler Pacifica has won numerous awards for its spirited suspension and nimble handling. This hauler is much better at transporting people and cargo than most pickups and SUVs. And this year the Pacifica, already a style maven among minivans, gets a tasteful makeover. This includes a streamlined grille, liftgate, wheels, and front and rear running lights. For better traction on slippery roads, all-wheel drive is now available. There’s also a new top-tier trim level—the Pinnacle—with quilted Nappa leather seats and (bling alert!) snazzy matching pillows for the second-row captain’s chairs. The infotainment system, already easy to use, now has a crisp 10.1-inch screen, along with smartphone integration and up to 12 USB ports. Because of an improved processor, the infotainment system is more responsive. This was a big plus whenever I approached highway construction ones and needed to find a uick escape route. In the end, I was able to deftly skirt bottlenecks, enjoy a few unfamiliar yet pleasant byways, and still arrive everywhere on time. Along with a backup camera, there’s a 360-degree view to help you fit into almost any parking spot. And while it may seem a bit creepy, a new FamCam inside the cabin helps you keep an eye on the kids—or any unruly adults—who may be acting up in the backseat. Crash-test scores are stellar, and Chrysler found a way to shoehorn in almost every safety feature, including blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection. No, the Pacifica Pinnacle is not a sport sedan or souped-up super coupe. But it also doesn’t drive like a bulky minivan, despite the acres of interior room and cubbyholes. Instead, I was able to enjoy the best of both worlds—a refreshing ride with plenty of room for passengers and cargo. For neat freaks like me, there was an extra bonus: a built-in vacuum cleaner.

MERCEDES AMG GT 43 $91,000 Mpg: 20 city/25 highway 0 to 60 mph: 4.8 seconds


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For auto journalists, test vehicles are like speed dating: Each car is the object of your affection but only until the next one arrives. Yet sometimes you really do find a soul mate. That’s the case with the Mercedes AMG GT 43. This four-door sedan looks like a hot rod, sounds like a muscle car and drives like a high-performance speedster. Each time I slipped behind the wheel, there was something new and exciting to stir the senses. Cue the silky nine-speed transmission. The subdued ambient lighting. The snug seats that hug you like a lover. And the various driver settings that let you stiffen the suspension to take any corner like a pro. With the touch of a button, you can ratchet up the exhaust rumble to impress your neighbors. Press another button to raise the large rear spoiler—effectively saying “back off” to anyone clueless enough to tailgate such a ferocious fastback. Even curbside, the haughty look of this ride is intimidating. Inside, there are dual 12.3-inch digital displays and a wide center console with wireless charging pad. Another charging pad is part of an optional rear-seat package, which adds three-zone climate control, heated/cooled rear cupholders, two more USB ports and a rear touchscreen. The new infotainment system offers speech recognition for voice commands and software that actually learns how to anticipate when you might be about to change the nav screen or radio channel. And the clarity of the Burmester surround-sound stereo remains crystal clear even when it’s cranked up to the max. Despite a base price of $91,000, the AMG GT 43 is actually a bargain. After all, the slightly more powerful GT 53 starts at $100,000, and the highend GT 63 is an eye-popping $162,000. At the end of a weeklong stint with this dream machine, I had fallen hard it finding any excuse to make an extra Starbucks run or go on a spur-of-the-moment day trip or drive to the grocery store three times in an hour or, well, you get the picture.

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The five-step downsizing plan

Set goals and a budget — then de-clutter By JEFF HAMMERBERG

Are you considering downsizing? For any number of reasons, this might be a decision that makes sense at this point in your life. Perhaps you have children that are now grown and have moved out, or you entertained large parties and those days have passed, now having more space than you can use. Maybe you simply want less home to take care of and fewer chores on your to-do list. Perhaps you’d like a smaller mortgage, so you can put the extra money toward other things. Or possibly, you’re willing to pay a slightly higher mortgage so that you can have a smaller home in an area where you’ve always wanted to live. Whatever your reasons, if you’re thinking of downsizing, having a plan can be extremely valuable. Those preparing to downsi e may find that following this helpful five-step plan can make the process a smooth and successful experience:

Before you downsize, you’ll need to de-clutter your home.

• Think through your goals: This may seem like an obvious step, but it is one that people often overlook. As you think about downsizing, take the time to sit down and come up with a detailed list of your goals. Ask yourself the necessary questions that will help you to narrow and focus your search. These are questions like: What’s important to you in life — being close to family and friends? Living in a place you love? Having easy access to medical care? Access to an international airport? Spend some time thinking through your priorities and desires. How much of a mortgage will you be able to pay, particularly if you are retiring or anticipating increased health care costs as you age? Maybe you’re able to live mortgage free with the sale of your larger home. How much square footage would you feel comfortable caring for? How will you prepare for the move? Thinking carefully about your future by working through 3 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JULY 16, 202 1 • B US I NE S S

important questions like these can help you move closer toward a concrete vision of your ideal downsi ing situation and provide peace of mind and confidence during the process. Look for a location you love: Location is an important aspect of any real estate transaction, but this can be especially true when downsizing. What are your reasons for downsizing? Thinking this through may help you to choose a location that is ideal for your needs. Are you downsizing because you are getting older and health issues are a concern? If so, choosing a location close to a city center where you can easily access medical care might be important. Are you downsizing because you’re tired of living in a large home in a suburban area and want easier access to amenities that a more urban environment may offer? If so, looking for more walkable neighborhoods closer to a larger metropolitan area might be important for you. Are you retiring and downsizing because you want to live in that gay-friendly city that you’ve always loved? Focus your home search there. Be sure to budget: After you’ve thought through your goals and decided on a desirable location, you’ll want to spend time closely looking at your financial situation and coming up with a realistic budget to achieve your goals. Meeting with a financial professional to review your assets and debts, what you might make from the sale of your current home, and what the total costs of downsizing might be can be tremendously helpful, and can ensure that you make your move with financial confidence and security. • Don’t forget to declutter: Certainly, downsizing means you’ll have less space – and this means less room for extra stuff. Before your move, take advantage of the downsizing process as an opportunity to let go of items you no longer truly need or use and to make space for new things and experiences. It is important to get started on this process early. Often, when people are downsizing, they still overestimate the amount of room they will have for extra items. Don’t make this mistake. Taking the time to sit down and think about what will fit within your new space removes the stress of later having to dispose of those belongings after you move. • Find the right agent: The importance of this step in your downsizing plan should not be overlooked. Whether you are staying relatively close to home or moving across the country, you will need an agent who knows the community you’re interested in and can help direct you to neighborhoods and homes that will best fit your needs. This can particularly be true when you are an LGBTQ home buyer or seller and you want to ensure that you find not only a house that you love, but also a community where you can feel truly at home. Working with the right agent can reduce your stress, save time, and greatly increase your overall satisfaction with your real estate experience. Wondering how to find exactly the right agent for your needs At www.GayRealEstate.com, that’s where we come in. Whatever your real estate needs – whether you are looking to buy, sell, upgrade, or downsi e, at www.GayRealEstate.com, we are here for you. We are passionate about connecting LGBTQ home buyers and sellers across the country with agents who are talented, experienced, and committed to helping their clients achieve their real estate dreams. In any real estate experience, having an agent who knows and loves their community and who values each client, and understands that client’s unique needs can be invaluable. We are dedicated to delivering that experience every time. You deserve nothing less. We look forward to helping you soon.

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


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



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