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Mid-Atlantic Leather returns Jan. 13, despite COVID surge
The D.C.-based Centaur Motorcycle Club announced on Jan. 2 that its members had voted to hold its annual Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend events in Washington, D.C. as planned Jan. 1317. The announcement came at a time when other large events in D.C. and across the country are being canceled due to a surge in the number of people testing positive for the COVID-19 Omicron strain. An earlier announcement posted on the event’s website describes the Mid-Atlantic Leather, or MAL Weekend, as an event “that attracts thousands of leather men, kinksters, fetish-lovers and curious spectators from all over the world.” That announcement says this year’s MAL for between the Centaur Motorcycle Club, which started the annual MAL events, and the leaders of four prominent D.C. event production companies
Phoenix Park Hotel have agreed to refund any room deposits for MAL weekend guests who decide to cancel their reservations. Among the event company leaders who are Dougie Meyer of Dougie Meyer Presents, Jimmy Martin of JMar Productions, Jesus Quispe of La Fantasy, and Zach Nalbone of Takeover Presents, who collectively have created a team called KINETIC to jointly produce the events for Centaur Motorcycle Club. “Whether you’re a jock, bear, wolf, otter, or any other member of our community, all are welcome
A scene from MAL Weekend in 2019. The 2021 event was cancelled but this year’s event is planned for next week. (Blade photo by Michael Key)
It also says proof of COVID vaccination or a “We acknowledge that it is each individual’s personal choice to attend the MidAtlantic Leather Weekend 2022,” the motorcycle club says in its Jan. 2 announcement. “More details are to come and will include any additional rules, restrictions, or other changes to help make the weekend as safe and fun as possible.” The MAL website also says that the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill, which serves
on 17th Street, N.W. near Dupont Circle on Christmas Eve to view a Christmas tree outside the Floriana Restaurant that is dedicated to the nation’s educators, with photos of Jill Biden in her role as a teacher prominently displayed on the tree. Floriana’s bar manager, Dito Sevilla, who’s
Meyer as saying. “We have secured the city’s best and most colossal venues for KINETIC: MAL Weekend,” Quispe says in the announcement. “There will be lots of dancing, cruising, and sliding into one
saying. One of the weekend’s largest dance events called “KINK,” scheduled for Saturday night, Jan. 15 at D.C.’s Echostage nightclub, “will feature live fetish acts, epic performances, and more chains and whips than can be imagined,” a statement released LOU CHIBBARO JR.
Service a short time before the president and First Lady’s arrival had closed a one-block section of 17th Street where Floriana is located.
to the president giving him a Christmas tree ornament used by the White House. “And I asked him if he would place it on the tree and he did,” according to Sevilla. “Everybody was in a great mood,” he said. themed Christmas trees since 2010. He said “And we offered to open the kitchen for them that as an admirer of Jill Biden’s teaching career, to provide food for them and the Secret which has continued as she and President Service and their staff,” said Sevilla, who noted Biden occupy the White House, he and that Floriana was closed on Christmas Eve and Floriana owner Jamie Branda were inspired to Christmas Day. “And they wouldn’t hear of it. dedicate this year’s tree to the nation’s teachers They said they would come back when we were and educators. open. They wouldn’t make us open on a day we A photo of Jill Biden rests at the top of the were closed. It was very, very sweet of them.” tree, which is located at 17th and Q Streets, Sevilla said the Bidens stayed at the site of the N.W. in front of the restaurant’s enclosed Floriana Christmas tree for about 15 minutes outdoor seating area. The tree includes small during which time they chatted with him and chalkboard placards with the names of about posed for photos in front of the tree. Before 120 teachers, including all of the teachers from The BIDENS visited Floriana on Christmas Eve. departing in a Secret Service-led presidential the nearby Ross Elementary School. (Photo by Thomas Gilespie) motorcade, the Bidens greeted members of Sevilla said that when he informed the White the crowd of bystanders, Sevilla said. House in early December of the Christmas Jill Biden, who holds a doctorate degree in education, served as a high school teacher and professor of English at high schools and a community Biden might consider visiting the tree. But it was only one day earlier, on Dec. college in Delaware during her husband’s tenure as a U.S. senator. During Joe Biden’s tenure as U.S. Vice President during the Obama administration say “something might happen” on Christmas Eve. she served as a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College, “Then on the day of, I was literally in the shower and the same person called where she continued to teach, according to a write-up on the White House and asked if I was around the tree,” Sevilla told the Blade. “I said I’m always website. nearby. And then I got a call a second later from someone who said the Secret In his role as bar manager, Sevilla works Monday through Wednesday nights Service was everywhere.” Service’s large black SUV’s about 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The Secret
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Restaurant and which has a largely gay clientele.
LOU CHIBBARO JR.
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Comings & Goings By PETER ROSENSTEIN The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, 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 Ronaldo Ribeiro on his new position as a coordinator on the Red-
ally. I am excited to be a part of this amazing team and cannot wait to see how far we
executive coach and adviser helping organizations and individuals reach their highest
board, staff, volunteers and supporters to ensure it continues to serve all members of
actively engaged in their communities in Washington, D.C. and Rehoboth Beach, Del.
D.C. police release video of suspect in shooting of gay man By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | email@example.com D.C. police are seeking help from the public in identifyshooting of a gay man outside a store next to the Georgia ing a gun in the direction of where D.C. resident Larry
his gunshot wound, said the suspect initially pointed the gun at his groin, prompting him to turn his body around, resulting in a single gunshot in the hip area. A gay man was shot in the hip last month at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro station.
son told him and police that the shooter did not say anyal or who has knowledge of this incident should take no says. mation that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for a violent crime committed
tronize the stores and shops surrounding the area where the shooting occurred and sometimes exhibit affection toward one another, he believes the shooter may have ship and targeted him for a hate crime. The police report says the incident is not listed as a
says anyone contacting police with information about the
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on Tuesday that the D.C. LGBTQ community services cen-
could impair his ability to do routine daily functions. The video released by D.C. police can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svtTuZj94JU
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By KAELA ROEDER Each year, more LGBTQ candidates run and are elected
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara Current position: Buncombe County Commissioner
in the Florida Legislature, her priority is advocating for her
father, husband, and entrepreneur, has been on the frontlines of LGBTQ advocacy for
“People are hungry for a different type of leadership — that is rooted in community, that is rooted in transparency,
adopted his son with his
United Church of Christ and the founding executive director
as a single parent, and
She said it’s been a “tremendous honor” to serve as a
friends and “blend in
has been pushing for policy focused on early childhood education and opioid epidemic response, as well as “Local government is such a powerful part of how
in that way and it’s been a big motivator for me in terms of bridges and listening to what her constituents need, which are needed priorities that have been lost under toxic While on the campaign trail, Beach-Ferrara said being out
development bill that establishes an apprenticeship
comprehensive voting rights legislation, environmental justice protections and address the affordable housing “We have got to come up with creative solutions,” she
“The power of people running and being out is that the moment you come out, you’re communicating a few things Brianna Titone, an incumbent in the Colorado Legislature,
that year the law was second parent, but the process was humiliating his partner were one of the couples that sued for the right to marry in
and his husband were couples to marry in the “That was a pretty empowering moment,”
for example, is an issue
Garcia, who is gay, immigrated to the United States from
to bring his unique perspective as a gay parent to the statehouse,
to appoint a majority of women to board and commissions,
and passing the bill banning the “Gay and Trans Panic
“When LGBTQ people are in the room, it changes the
he is running for Congress to help give people the same Titone has been on the frontlines in pushing against
as he has as mayor, expand LGBTQ rights and provide
hopes to support small businesses, pass legislation concerning
people because there are so many different perspectives,” Todd Delmay Current position: Entrepreneur
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Grenell emails hint at initial steps in Trump effort to decriminalize homosexuality By CHRIS JOHNSON | firstname.lastname@example.org Emails from the State Department — obtained by the Washington Blade from a of Information Act — reveal the Trump administration had at least laid the preliminary groundwork for a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality to the extent of identifying 10 countries where it was thought most possible. The initial seven-page batch of emails, obtained RICHARD GRENELL’s emails hint at the groundwork for a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality.
communications from former (Photo public domain) U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell in his capacity as leader of the initiative to decriminalize homosexuality, was delivered to the Blade last month and It’s unclear from the initial production what further efforts, if any, sprang from the
writes. Grenell is short in his reply: “I just tweeted about it.” It’s not clear whether or not Grenell contributed to the decriminalization efforts in Botswana other than the tweet he references. The assistant goes on to share a link from a tweet from the State Department spokesperson congratulating Botswana. administration’s initiative was announced were Gabon, which became one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to decriminalize homosexuality, and Sudan, which eliminated the death penalty as punishment for homosexual conduct (although the punishment There’s no evidence those changes happened as a result of the global initiative Grenell U.S. government during the Trump administration in assisting with efforts, successful or otherwise, to decriminalize homosexuality. was amended in 2016 to clarify federal agencies cannot redact deliberative language without demonstrating revealing that information would cause “foreseeable harm.” The Blade, represented by attorneys at Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, will have the opportunity to
window-dressing to cover up for anti-LGBTQ policies during the Trump administration. In an exchange dated Aug. 23, 2019, an assistant to Grenell forwards an email from an individual whose identity is redacted on an edited list of 10 countries where “we believe
potentially responsive records” numbering in the thousands of pages as a reason for being unable to produce the records in a more timely manner. The initial seven pages produced by the State Department are an extremely small percentage of that total.
of mission in Berlin. “Per your request, attached and edited below is the list of 10 countries where LGBTI decriminalization is possible — with your and Robin’s edits incorporated,” the email is redacted. The names of the 10 countries, however, are redacted in the exchange provided to the
Blade’s attorneys on the reasons for the initial limited production, fell back on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and overwhelming nature of the work, citing a need to consult “subject matter experts” before disclosing potentially sensitive material. “That process can take considerable time, particularly given the substantial constraints
for each of the countries. Also redacted are the names of two agencies an assistant in the The assistant tells Grenell the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor hasn’t yet responded, but the embassy “will forward their list when we receive it.” As a result of the redactions, the identity of the 10 countries is unknown at this time. The indication on the extent to which the State Department conducted further efforts to change the law in these countries, or whether there was any engagement after identifying them. Grenell didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment for this article on how the Quinville couldn’t be reached for comment. and Grenell dated June 11, 2019, shortly after Botswana became the latest country to decriminalize homosexuality, forwarding a link to a Washington Post article on that news. The name of the assistant is redacted and may or may not be the same as the one in the other exchange.
response says. “Thus, it’s not necessarily the case that the size of the potentially responsive Similarly, a small production set does not necessarily entail that State has not processed a sizeable number of records during the preceding processing cycle.” The Blade, through its attorneys, has asked the State Department to determine how much of the “sizable universe” has been reviewed and determined to be responsive or nonexperts take. Tremaine LLP, said the initial production from the State Department was unsatisfactory. production consisted of two email records, both heavily redacted. Such a token response after so much time is truly disheartening, and we will continue to push to ensure that the every additional day without that access causes further harm.”
Longtime ally Betty White dies at 99
Betty White, the beloved actress and animal rights advocate who stood by the LGBTQ community as a strong ally died at her home in Brentwood, in West Los
White, who was due to celebrate her 100th birthday on Jan. 17 had tweeted on Tuesday, Dec. 28: “My 100th birthday… I cannot believe it is coming up, and
She co-founded her own production company in the 1950s, one of two women at the time wielding creative control on both sides of the camera. Her 80-year career is the longest for any woman in television, and her work on Golden Girls created a cultural touchstone that remains relevant almost 40 years after its premiere.”
on newsstands nationwide tomorrow.” Reacting to the news about White’s death from their home in Wilmington, Del., when asked by reporters during an informal press gaggle, President Joe Biden
new generation of admirers.
didn’t love Betty White? We’re so sad.”
birthday, the Associated Press reported.
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Lesbian pop star arrested in Hong Kong
by people who were arrested or in self-exile overseas who acted as bloggers for the platform, Li said. Some were also exclusive
Chinese and Hong Kong government authorities last week held a series of raids targeting Stand News, a pro-democracy media outlet, arresting staff and current and former board members including out Canadian Denise Ho, all charged with conspiring to publish seditious materials. In a press conference held last week, Steve Li, senior superintendent of the Police National Security Department told reporters
Ho, a former board member was arrested at home. She was among at least seven others detained including Stand News deputy assignment editor and head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association Ronson Chan, acting chief editor Patrick Lam and former democratic legislator Margaret Ng. Li also related during the press conference that the arrested individuals held “important roles in the company’s editorial direction and strategy.” During the newsroom raid, adding that other arrest warrants have been issued. According to Li, Stand News was publishing “seditious materials between the enactwards the government, the judiciary and cause discontent among the public, which may lead them to disobey the law or the government’s orders.”
vation.” In the case of Ho, the singer-actress-activist was released and tweeted to her followers; “Thank you friends for all your kind messages, I have been released on bail and have returned home safely.” (Screenshot via CBC)
based Cantopop singer and actress. She was born in Hong Kong old is also a pro-democracy and Hong Kong human rights activist.
ment. In addition to participating in street protests and rallies against an aggressively worsening situation for pro-democracy supporters targeted by the Hong Kong government under pressure by the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Ho became a global voice for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
that China be removed from the council.
Israel to allow surrogacy for same-sex couples, trans people
Senegal rejects effort to further criminalize homosexuality
The Israeli government last week announced same-sex couples and transgender people will now be able to have children via surrogate. Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who is gay, discussed the
Lawmakers in Senegal have rejected a bill that would have further criminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in the country. issued a statement that described the measure as a “bogus debate.” Lawmakers formally tabled the bill.
must allow same-sex couples and single men to have a child via surrogate. The ruling directed the government to act within six months. The new policy, which includes single men, will take
MICHAEL K. LAVERS MICHAEL K. LAVERS
New rules written into Swiss law will allow transgender and intersex citizens of Swit-
happy to see this law pass before the end of the year. Some countries have shown major step-backs in legal gender recognition, such as Hungary or Russia. It offers our communities some hope to see the Swiss example.”
bill for legal gender recognition procedures based on self-determination. Previously,
expressed criticism that for those younger people and those under adult protection
In addition, under the current law, legal gender recognition, procedures in Switzerland are still based on court proceedings that vary from court to court or even from judge to judge. The new law will not only simplify and standardize the procedure but
achieved the current human rights standard for adult intersex and trans women and -
According to Transgender Network Switzerland, costs will be reduced to an adminbat discrimination against trans people and support trans people rights, welcomed
change in the future with the consent of the legal representative, even if they are this way, although the change in the gender entry does not affect anyone other than yourself.” Switzerland joins Ireland, Belgium, Portugal and Norway as one of the few countries on the continent that allow a person to legally change gender without hormone therBRODY LEVESQUE
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(he/him/his) is a trans man and young professional in the D.C. area. He was featured on National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ in 2017 as a student at Yale University. Isaac is also
Controversy around Nikita Dragun
Society has a lot of work to do in accepting trans people for who we are In late September of 2021, it was revealed that the Too Hot to Handle reality TV star Harry Jowsey had hooked up with Nikita Dragun, a popular Youtuber and trans woman. News of Harry and Nikita’s hookup soon spread through Of course, news that Harry had yet another famous hookup was no surprise: the reality TV stud had formerly been in a relationship with Francesa Farago, among a slew of other women. But the fact that Harry would sleep with a trans person was news to many ears. Soon after news of the hookup broke, web commentators blew up social media channels: TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and blogs. The news that Harry had hooked up with Nikita was in fact spurred by a music video that Nikita released, cleverly called Tyga, model Michal Yerger, and, of course, Jowsey. Nikita sang along, as frames of heated conversations with Some commentators soon pointed out that it was wrong for commentators noted that it was OK for the men to sleep with Nikita, but not for her to out them. These articles and bloggers reek of hypocrisy. Since when encounters? Would these bloggers require a cisgender
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“D**k” that outed their partners, and they weren’t trans, surely commentators would not cause a fuss. and Michael Yerger implies that it is shameful for cis people to sleep with trans folk. It implies that we somehow have to cover our tracks and silently sleep with those we want to share a bed with. Jowsey, to his credit, took pride in his hookup with Nikita. On the popular BFF podcast, Jowsey states that he is lucky to who accept him sleeping with a trans woman. In a later TikTok post, Jowsey rehashed the segment on that podcast, and said that “trans women are women.” Unfortunately, society still has to do a lot of work to accept trans people for who we are. In the meantime, I hope more reality stars and TikTokers like Jowsey can come out about their hookups and romances with trans people. Trans people, after all, are pretty beautiful.
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is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.
Mandates, mandates, and more mandates
The time has come to require COVID vaccinations for all The time has come to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for everyone. People must get vaccinated and wear masks to protect themselves, their community, friends and loved ones. If they don’t have the respect for themselves and others to do this on their own it’s servers in many restaurants and venues not wearing masks. One would think owners, out of respect, would want to protect their staff from COVID. At the same time, the Delaware governor declared a ‘State of Emergency’ so he could call on the National Guard to help This is a healthcare emergency! Government can and should act to protect the people. The Supreme Court agrees. The court “refused to block New York’s requirement that health care workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus even when they cite religious objections. In October the court refused to provide relief to health care workers in Maine who had made an essentially identical request in a challenge to a similar state requirement. They also rejected challenges to vaccination requirements at Indiana University, for personnel in New York City’s school system and for workers at a Massachusetts hospital. The court also rejected a challenge to a federal mandate requiring masks for air travel.” The court will hear the next challenge to government mandates on Jan. 7. court Judge Stephen P. Friot “sided with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has said the mandate is needed to maintain a healthy force that is ready to act quickly.” In ruling “Friot also disagreed with Stitt’s assertion that the Pentagon was overstepping its constitutional authority, noting that Guard members are already required to receive nine immunizations.” He wrote, “Adding a tenth … vaccine to the list of nine that all service members are already required to take would hardly amount to ‘an enormous and transformative expansion [of the] regulatory authority’ the Secretary of Defense already possesses.” Mandates are legal and we need to take this as far as possible. It’s incredible some of our highest-paid athletes, many looked up to by children in our community, say they won’t get vaccinated. Children listening to them may actually die because of them. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently took action mandating as of Jan. 15 anyone entering a restaurant, gym or entertainment venue in D.C. will have to have at least one dose of the vaccine and vaccination. Guess what, not even multi-millionaire athletes are exempt from the order. It mandated every player and all staff on the teams his organization, Monument Sports, owns be vaccinated? Is it about money?
the former editor of the Los Angeles Blade.
for being such a good friend LGBTQ community owes iconic star immense debt of gratitude
17. The airwaves and social media were ablaze with tributes to this television pioneer –
on to become a fun guest on variety shows and a spot-on game show contestant, especially on “Password,” hosted by her beloved husband Allen Ludden. Most of us got to know her through her cheeky star-turn as sex-enthralled Sue Ann with her friend Mary Tyler Moore, then as sweetly naïve, St. Olaf, Minnesota story-teller alongside other senior dream girls Bea Arthur, Rue
doing a Snickers commercial that year, which sparked a Facebook campaign to get her
The reacted to LGBTQ characters at a time when hate crimes against us were de rigueur and evangelical preachers were proclaiming that AIDS was God’s punishment for Isn’t It Romantic Dorothy decides not to tell Rose or Blanche that Pat is a lesbian. Dorothy tells Blanche the secret, only to have Blanche become miffed because Pat chose Rose over her. That night, Rose shares her bed with Jean, who confesses her romantic feelings. Rose pretends to be asleep – but the camera sees her wide-eyed surprise. Embarrassed the next morning, Jean decides to cut her visit short. Rose says Pat is neither a joke nor is she whisked away to be “cured.” And the reaction from win Primetime Emmy nominations and director Terry Hughes wins a Primetime Emmy
school, children need to prove they are vaccinated for a host of diseases. Nearly fourteen diseases have been close to eliminated through vaccines. They include polio, smallpox, measles, tetanus, and rubella among others. The fact is the coronavirus vaccine has become a political pawn and that’s tragic. Trumpism and Republicans have actually caused thousands of deaths with their rhetoric about and against vaccines and masks. It has gotten so when Trump himself now tells his supporters he was vaccinated and boosted, and suggests they do the same, they boo him. The unvaccinated now account for most of those in hospital beds and those dying of COVID. Only 62.65% of Americans are fully vaccinated. Shameful when there is enough So back to the premise of this column. If people won’t act responsibly on their own, then government and businesses must act and insist, with mandates, that all Americans be vaccinated. COVID will not be the last pandemic in our lifetimes. Let us set the right protocols now for future ones making sure we will act responsibly. That means mandates for masks and vaccinations for everyone. 1 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JANUARY 07, 2 0 2 2 • V I E WP O I NT
still reverberates with meaning. Rose receives a letter from the hospital where six years earlier she had gallbladder surgery. The hospital advises that she get tested since the blood for her transfusion may have been tainted with HIV. imagination at the time. Blanche, who has already had an AIDS test as a realistic response to her sexualized lifestyle, serves as a calming voice of reason as the episode Here’s an excerpt: “Blanche: Hi Rose, what’s goin’ on? Rose: Oh I’m just sitting here kicking myself for not taking care of my gallbladder, and for going to that hospital for the operation, and for letting them give me blood Blanche: Now, now, Rose, take it easy.
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If you’ve managed to avoid watching even a single shows, you now have a reason to watch. Julia Lemigova, who has been openly lesbian member of the cast in the history of the cast member Adriana de Moura, the statuesque Lemigova towers over her castmates in more ways than one. She has a wonderful sense of humor, and her selfto the cast, her presence is essential to making the show a well-rounded experience. Julia was gracious enough to answer a few questions. Real Real
Housewives of Miami, now airing on Peacock? JULIA LEMIGOVA Real Housewives but life is busy with me farming or something else. I never watched the show until my dear friend Adriana called me and invited me to try to be her partner on the show. I was so thrilled because my real-life friendship with Adriana is like
and overcome quite a few challenges. BLADE: We’re very glad you like it here. You have that honor mean to you? LEMIGOVA: I feel so proud, and I never use this word quite new to me. I would not even try to pretend I am a spokesperson for it, but I’m so happy to be a spokesperson for myself and for my family. I hope that as a family we share it with the world, and especially with those who may need it. BLADE: Episode three of the new season includes scenes from Wynwood Pride. Living in South Florida as we both do, we have multiple Pride festivals, including Miami Beach Pride, Fort Lauderdale Pride, Stonewall Pride in Wilton Manors, Pride of the Palm Beaches, and myriad Pride festivals? LEMIGOVA that come with it, I was not able to participate in that this year, unfortunately, in a lot of Prides that I would have wanted to.
season, and that’s it [laughs]. I was convinced! I loved it! I became an instant fan. It was like a natural chemistry. BLADE: I was touched by the story of how you met Martina, to whom you’ve been married since December 2014. Did you do anything special to celebrate your wedding anniversary? LEMIGOVA: We were actually in the middle of moving was kind of going fast and we wanted to get the house to ready for our daughters. So, we haven’t really celebrated. moving boxes and packing on our anniversary. But we did open a bottle of something and had dinner. Now that both of our daughters came back from being abroad, we are looking forward to celebrating it together with them. Christmas, wedding anniversary, all of it in the new house. BLADE: Another fascinating detail is the way you talk about how you had been closeted, but that living in Miami has allowed you to be more of yourself. Can you please say a few words about that? LEMIGOVA: I felt free from the second I stepped onto U.S. soil. Being so shy and introverted about my life while stayed in a small art deco hotel on the beach. I remember having breakfast and looking at people walking, Somehow, I found myself walking around Ocean Drive with Martina,
same-sex marriage was not legal. We had to plan ahead
JULIA LEMIGOVA, who has been married to Martina
the new season, you are introduced in the new season couple of episodes, it’s obvious that Adriana is a little bit
part of Pride in Paris, which was so much fun. Actually, New
your friend? LEMIGOVA
BLADE: In addition to living with Martina in Miami Beach, you also have a farm in Broward County. What do you like best about the goats and chickens and all that goes with the farm? LEMIGOVA: I grew up in Moscow. Every summer my
hadn’t heard that about Adriana. But now that you’re saying so, I’ll ask her if she was told that as well. When I looked in
animals, farm animals is part of my growing up. It’s who I am. Living in Europe, I could never make this dream happen. In Florida, when we decided to be in Miami, it was such a open about how I live, who I am, and my sexuality, but I also realized my second dream, which is to live among my fourlegged and two-legged creatures. I have an unusual farm. It is a working farm — it keeps me working [laughs], but it’s all of them, even my multiple numbers of chickens. I love so I’ll have a lot of milk. I cannot wait to start showing my cast-member friends how to make goat cheese. It gives me a sense of kind of belonging, tranquility. What makes it chicken galoshes. I’m comfortable in both [laughs]. I’m at the beach house in high-heeled shoes and I have galoshes in my pickup truck for when I pick up my hay and feed for dinner in Miami Beach.
2 2 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JANUARY 07, 2 0 2 2
interact with people, in general. Men, women, my chickens. of energy.
important do you think it is for people to have a creative outlet for expression such as painting? LEMIGOVA: I think it’s so important. Whether it’s painting or any kind of art or whatever other outlet they could have feelings, the avalanche of different emotions into something so beautiful like art or, in my case [laughs], interacting with takes the tennis balls, smashing them all over my beautiful
beautiful piece of art. I’m fascinated by how she can do that. and chickens and tortoises, and all of that.
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OUT & ABOUT
By TINASHE CHINGARANDE
Friday, January 07 Friday Tea Time and social hour for Older LGBTQ+ adults will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. Feel free to bring your beverage of choice. For the Zoom link or more information, contact Justin (firstname.lastname@example.org). Go Gay DC will host “First Friday LGBTQ+ Social” at 7 p.m. at The Commentary. This free social event is ideal for making new friends, professional networking, idea sharing, and community building, or to unwind and enjoy the extended happy hour. For more event
Saturday, January 08
Equality Va. Commonwealth Dinner tix now available Equality Virginia will host its 19th Annual Commonwealth Dinner on Saturday, March 26 at Greater Richmond Convention Center. host since 2019, so guests are encouraged to “dust off your dancing shoes and get ready for an incredible evening of celebration!” Guests attending the dinner should be fully vaccinated or be able to show proof of a negative PCR COVID test taken 48 hours prior to the event. More information about Equality Virginia’s safety protocols can be accessed on its website. For information about the dinner and to purchase tickets, visit Equality Virginia’s website.
Universal Pride Meeting will be at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This group seeks to support, educate, empower, and create change for People with Disabilities (PWD). The group facilitator will be CAKE Society Co will host “Trans/Queer Brunch” at 10 a.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar. Guests are encouraged to come make friends, and enjoy brunch with our community members and
Sunday, January 09 Trauma-Sensitive Gentle Yoga will be at 6 p.m. at Eaton DC. Here, guests will experiment with yoga as a way to reclaim self-empowerment, joy, and connection while moving the harmful energy stuck within their nervous systems as a result of experiencing trauma either directly through personal life events, or indirectly as a result of navigating society as a person who experiences marginalization. More event details are available on Eventbrite.
MAL Weekend returns to D.C. at 10 p.m. to Sunday, Jan. 16. at 4 a.m. international DJs, and massive venues where thousands of men can dance, cruise, and “slide into each other.” Eventbrite.
Monday, January 10 Center Aging Coffee Drop-In will be at 10 a.m. at the DC Center for the LGBT Community and online on Zoom. LGBT Older Adults — and friends — are invited to enjoy friendly conversations and to discuss any issues you might be dealing with. For more information,
Tuesday, January 11 Coming Out Discussion Group will be at 7 p.m. in-person at the DC Center for the LGBT Community and online on Zoom. This is a peer-facilitated discussion group and a safe space to share experiences about coming out and discuss topics as it relates to doing so. For more
MAL Weekend returns on Thursday, January 13. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
Trans Support Group will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This support group is intended to provide emotionally and physically safe space for trans* people and those who may be questioning their gender identity/expression to join together in community and learn from one another.
Wednesday, January 12 Job Club will be at 6 p.m. in-person at the DC Center for the LGBT Community and online on Zoom. The Job Club is a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, productivity for effective job searches and networking — allowing participants to move away from being merely “applicants” toward being “candidates.” For more information, email email@example.com or visit www.thedccenter.org/careers.
Thursday, January 13 Therapist & Tequila will be at 6 p.m. at The Backroom (Inside Capo Deli). This event will bring therapists to a bar setting for an honest open dialogue about the mystical world of therapy. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite. 2 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JANUARY 07, 2 0 2 2
Equality Virginia hosts its 19th Annual Commonwealth Dinner on March 26. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Bokenkamp/Equality Virginia)
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By JOHN PAUL KING
DAKOTA JOHNSON and SONOYA MIZUNO in ‘Am I OK?’ (Photo courtesy Gloria Sanchez Productions)
AM I OK?
FIRE ISLAND MY FAKE BOYFRIEND
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‘Nine Night’ explores Jamaican custom of mourning ‘Equally moving and hilarious in many parts’ By PATRICK FOLLIARD
technical theater and not acting, he landed all the male leads in the college’s plays. It was a part during his last year at Marymount (“Beckett’s ‘Endgame’ of all things,” adds Douglas with a chuckle) that
When Round House Theatre began making plans for the U.S. premiere of Natasha Gordon’s “Nine Night,” they asked out director Timothy Douglas to interview with the playwright about helming the production. “It’s like we were separated at on Zoom, and I when I learned Natasha wanted to work with me, I made it work.” A big success in London, “Nine Night” is a dramedy centered on the death of a family matriarch followed by the prescribed Jamaican tradition of exuberant mourning. The end-of-life custom entails nine consecutive nights of serious partying to celebrate the life of the departed, but there’s also a spiritual component. On the ninth night, it’s believed that the spirit returns to its earthly dwelling. By celebrating and rearranging furniture, the revelers discombobulate the deceased so they don’t want to stay, ensuring the spirit crosses over. “In traditional Jamaican culture, nine night is a serious thing,” explains Douglas. “And while I didn’t set out to direct a dramedy. I found it equally moving and hilarious in many parts.” Gordon, the London-born playwright of Jamaican descent, possessed only a casual knowledge of nine night growing up. But when her grandmother died, her mother became ritual was thrust on the family. “From the playwright’s perspective what happened was chaos,” adds Douglas. “And going through that inspired her to write the play.” The work’s central character draws from the Gordons’ life experience straddling two different cultures. And while it was the play itself that really grabbed Douglas, he relates to that aspect too. “It connected a lot of dots for me,” says Douglas, 60. “Elders in my family are from the Caribbean and share similar ways of celebrating life and in particular the deceased. There was an immediate familiarity on a feeling level for me. And with every
But then something changed. The director ardently explains, “I’m grateful to acting. It gave me focus, a way to communicate and navigate complicated life experiences. It saved my life.” But after therapy and spiritual growth coupled with an epiphany experienced while acting in a play in West Hollywood, he knew it wasn’t for him. He needed to direct. the play, Douglas’ upcoming project is a different story. with Terrance Blanchard’s “Champion” at Boston Lyric Opera. welterweight who regained the world championship in 1962 countries. And to Douglas’ astonishment, internationally famous mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe is cast to play a supporting role in
At 18, Douglas made a beeline from Long Island to Manhattan. For many years he called New York home. Now he’s (Photo courtesy of Round House Theatre) in Boston where he is the distinguished artist in residence at Emerson College. But over the years, he’s maintained a special relationship with the DMV. In addition to being sort of a staple at Round House, he’s directed to much acclaim at Arena Stage, Through Jan. 30 Studio Theatre, and Theater Alliance to name a few. (Begins streaming on demand Jan. 20) In fact, his professional directorial career kickstarted at D.C.’s Round House Theatre Folger with “Richard III” in 1995. “I was a complete unknown to them. I had no track record yet. 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, Md. But the Folger was at a point where they could take risks. They $41-$56, and $32.50 (virtual) needed to replace a director, and on the recommendation of roundhousetheatre.org a costume designer who’d heard of me, Michael Tolaydo who than being introduced to me cold.” played the production’s titular role, agreed to take me on. That Douglas caught the theater bug in grade school, and it grew really changed things for me.” from there. When he attended Marymount Manhattan College “Being pretty much a gun for hire, every time D.C. asks me back, I always say yes.” it was transitioning from all women to coeducational, and though he was studying
2 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JANUARY 07, 2 0 2 2
HIT WEST END KITCHEN DRAMEDY
N O W P L AY I N G THROUGH JAN 30
B Y N ATA S H A G O R D O N DIRECTED BY TIMOTHY DOUGLAS
A M I LY M AT R I A R C H G LO R I A H A S
died, and her family gathers for the traditional Jamaican Nine Night, a multi-day celebration (and endurance test) full of food, revelry, and a nonstop parade of mourners. Natasha Gordon’s debut play—a popular triumph in its 2018 National Theatre premiere and subsequent West End run—explores the tensions of inhabiting two cultures, the inescapable bonds of family, and the many layers of grief in an “exuberantly funny” (The Guardian) and profoundly relatable story of the ties that bind. Raved The Guardian’s Michael Billington, “Playwrighting debuts don’t come much better than this.”
Nine Night is sponsored by Nan Beckley.
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A snowstorm transformed D.C. into a winter wonderland on Monday. More than 8” of snow fell in D.C., with some parts of Maryland and Northern Virginia receiving over a foot.
day. The D.C. Snowball Fight Association organized a
3 5 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JANUARY 07, 2 0 2 2
What to know if you’re buying or selling in 2022 Research interest rates, contractors now before spring arrives By JOSEPH HUDSON
The years 2020 and 2021 were wild on the books for real estate. Many successfully sold a house, bought a house, or sold a smaller residence and bought a larger one due to the new “needs” that they realized they had. After a year or more of staying home, working from home, dining out (at home), studying from home, many just realized they needed a different home than the one they were sitting in. Many experts are saying that 2022 might be the year we go back to our “normal cycles” in real estate. If that is the case, then what does that mean?
back when the home sells. I know other brokerages have some similar programs, also. If you are going to buy a home this year, you might want to seriously look at how long homes have been sitting in the market in the neighborhoods that interest you. If the “days on market” are more than 20, 30, 40 or even 50 days, this might be two and see what interest rate you can get and how much you can get approved for a loan. Interest rates could be going up this year, so you might want to get this current situation allows. At any rate, if you are thinking of making a move this year, feel free to sign up for one of my homebuyer seminars, or give me (or your favorite Realtor) a call
condos that are sitting on the market, and the single family home market is going Spring will be here before you know it so prepare for buying and selling a home now. to be ramping up in the spring, when more buyers are out in the streets and ready to make this move. more homes are getting ready to go on the market. So, if you are thinking of selling this year, you might already need to be calling painters, carpenters, and other contractors to do those little projects that make a home ready for photographs and to be shown in its best light. Now that the holidays are over, many of the contractors we hire start getting calls, and their schedules start is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-587-0597.
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