Washington Blade, Volume 53, Issue 30, July 29, 2022

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Ukrainian LGBTQ refugees tell their stories We traveled to

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Lavers)

Berlin Pride

to meet those fleeing Putin’s war, PAGE 16

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Local experts offer Monkeypox update; D.C. has only 10% of vaccine doses needed Testing, transmission, other issues addressed at event sponsored by Blade, DC Health By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | lchibbaro@washblade.com

A panel of four medical and local health officials provided the latest information about the monkeypox outbreak in the nation’s capital and answered a wide range of questions from an audience of more than 100 people on Monday night at a Monkeypox Town Hall meeting sponsored jointly by the D.C. Department of Health and the Washington Blade. Among those attending the event, which was held at the Eaton Hotel in downtown D.C., were representatives of several local LGBTQ organizations and many who self-identified as members of the city’s diverse LGBTQ community. Also attending was Japer Bowles, director of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs. The panelists included emergency healthcare physician N. Adam Brown, who served as moderator of the event; Clover Barnes, Senior Deputy Director of the D.C. Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration, known as HAHSTA; Amanda Cary, nurse practitioner and manager of the Sexual Health Clinic at Whitman-Walker Health; and Alsean Bryant, the strategic response team pharmacist at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Wellness Clinics in Temple Hills, Md., and on Capitol Hill in D.C.\ “We’re here to try to give you the best information we have,” said physician Brown in opening the Town Hall event. “Unfortunately, there are some things that are realities for us with monkeypox,” he said. “The first is, we are learning about this new strain and this new manifestation of the disease on a day-by-day basis,” he continued, noting that while monkeypox has been around since the 1950s, its recent movement outside of Africa to other parts of the world is a new phenomenon. “Number two, we are woefully – I don’t want to use the word unprepared, but we don’t have the requisite vaccines around this country and around the world yet to take care and prevent the spread of this disease,” he said. So, until the federal government provides the necessary number of vaccine doses needed, public health officials, including those in D.C., must undertake a “massive triage” to offer the available number of vaccine doses to those determined to be in most need, Brown told the gathering. Barnes of the Department of Health, which refers to itself as D.C. Health, provided an update on the current D.C. monkeypox outbreak. “Currently, we have about 172 cases here in the District,” she said. “We are really working hard to make sure we are reaching out to everyone who is affected,” Barnes continued. “Our contact trace force has identified and provided vaccines for more than 500 close contacts of those 172 cases,” she said. “Over 90 percent of those cases are of men who identify as gay, same-gender loving, or men who have sex with men or bisexual,” Barnes told the Town Hall gathering. “And to date, nearly 16,000 residents have registered for the pre registration for the vaccination.” Barnes noted that the Town Hall gathering took place on the same day that D.C. Health officials modified their monkeypox vaccination strategy by temporarily stopping the administration of the second dose in the two-dose regimen so that more people will get at least one dose. She said the city will continue to provide a second dose to people who are immunosuppressed and who are considered at higher risk for monkeypox infection. According to Barnes, studies have shown that a one-dose vaccination using the more commonly used of the two available monkeypox vaccines – the JYNNEOS vaccine – still provides significant protection against infection. The panelists noted that D.C. only has about 10 percent of the number of vaccine doses

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it needs to meet current demand. Bryant of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) gave a presentation on the differences between the two vaccines, which have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He pointed out that the second one, known as ACAM2000, requires only one dose. But it has certain side effects that prevent its use for people with a weakened immune system as well as for The Blade and DC Health sponsored a town hall forum on Monkeypox on Monday night at the Eaton. people with other pre-existing (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key) conditions such as heart disease, skin conditions, and use of steroids for treatment of other conditions. Like earlier statements by D.C. Health officials, Barnes, Carey of Whitman-Walker, and Brown stressed that Monkeypox, while currently most prevalent in the U.S. among men who have sex with men, should not be considered a “gay” disease. “Viruses don’t discriminate,” Brown told the gathering. “Humans discriminate. But this virus doesn’t,” he said. “The fact is this is a skin-to-skin transmission disease. Any type of person who has direct contact with the skin with a person who has an infectious rash can get this disease.” Among the most frequent questions and comments from audience members at the Town Hall were related to concerns over the insufficient number of vaccine doses currently available. The panelists, including DC Health’s Barnes, pointed out that the federal government is responsible for providing vaccine doses to all 50 states and D.C. They noted that federal officials, including the Biden administration, have promised to greatly increase the vaccination doses within the next few months. Barnes said D.C. vaccination policy remains the same from its earlier announcements, with the population groups deemed most at risk being placed on the list of those eligible for a vaccination. They include these categories of people: • Gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men and have multiple (more than one) sex partners in the last 14 days. • Transgender women or nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men. • Sex workers (of any sexual orientation or gender) • Staff (of any sexual orientation or gender) at establishments where sexual activity occurs such as bathhouses, saunas, or sex clubs. A full viewing of the Monkeypox Town Hall sponsored by D.C, Health and the Blade can be accessed at our website. D.C. Health officials have urged all D.C. residents to pre-register for the monkeypox vaccine so that they can be contacted by the city as soon as they become eligible for the vaccine at dchealth.dc.gov.

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Comings & Goings

Meloy, Rouse return to Victory Fund By PETER ROSENSTEIN

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: comingsandgoings@washblade.com. Congratulations to Sean Meloy and Marty Rouse both named to positions at the LGBTQ Victory Fund. Meloy returns as Vice President of Political Programs, a role he held for more than four years until announcing his run for Congress last fall. Rouse, who led the political team during Meloy’s campaign, has been named Senior Director of Outreach and Engagement. “Sean and Marty are natural leaders with tremendous political acumen that has helped countless LGBTQ candidates win. Their continued leadership and experience will be instrumental as Victory Fund continues to expand its impact,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “During my previous tenure at Victory Fund during the

Rainbow Wave, we made history time and time again,” Meloy said. “Although my run for Congress was ultimately not successful, I am excited to come back as Vice President of Political Programs and bring an even wider breadth of experience to help the organization and its candidates continue making history.” Rouse said, “While leading Victory Fund’s Political team, I had the chance to support key candidates on the ground bolstering the importance of field organizing and building power at the grassroots level. I look forward to deepening this work in my new role as Senior Director of Outreach and Engagement.” Prior to joining the Victory Fund, Rouse spent more than 14 years with the Human Rights Campaign as Senior Adviser and National Field Director, Policy & Political Affairs. Congratulations also to Sarah McBride, named a member of the Commission on Presidential Scholars. Sen. McBride represents the First Senate District in Delaware. She serves as the chair of the Health and Social Services Committee, where she has championed health care reforms that lower costs, ex-




pand access, and improve quality. In just her first term, she successfully passed paid family and medical leave in the First State, marking the largest expansion of Delaware’s social safety net in decades. Prior to her service in the state Senate, McBride was a national leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality and served as the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. When elected, she became the first openly transgender state senator in American history. The Commission on Presidential Scholars is a group of eminent private citizens appointed by the president to select and honor the Presidential Scholars. The Commissioners make the final selection of the 161 Presidential Scholars.

Gay White House staffer nominated for Assistant Secretary of Energy

The White House announced on July 21 that President Biden has nominated gay White House Special Assistant Jeffrey Marootian to become Assistant U.S. Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, a position that requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Marootian has served since January 2021 as White House Special Assistant to the President for Climate and Science Personnel at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Prior to joining the Biden White House staff, Marootian served from 2017 to 2021 as one of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s openly gay Cabinet members in the position of director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, where he piloted sustainable transportation technologies, oversaw the effort to electrify the city’s Circulator bus fleet, and led the city’s early adoption of the Transportation and Climate Initiative. Marootian oversaw the modernization of hundreds of miles of roads and sidewalks and advanced critical infrastructure projects, such as the reconstruction of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge and expansion of dedicated bus and bike lanes.

JEFFREY MAROOTIAN now faces Senate confirmation for a new role as Assistant Secretary of Energy.

Following Biden’s election as president in November 2020 Marootian served on the Biden presidential transition team addressing transportation related issues. He also served in the administration of President Barack Obama as a White House staff member and later as Assistant Secretary for Administration at the U.S. Department of

Transportation. “Jeff Marootian has spent the last year and a helping to build our team at the Department of Energy, and I am pleased that President Biden has now nominated him to serve as our new Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,” said U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in a statement released last week. “Throughout his impressive career in public service, Jeff has directed big teams executing challenging missions, making him a natural fit to lead the Department’s largest applied energy office,” Granholm said. “His experience developing and implementing sustainable transportation policy at the federal and local level will be particularly invaluable in our ongoing effort to decarbonize America’s transportation sector and meet our bold clean energy goals,” she said. He previously served as director of LGBTQ+ Outreach and led the DNC’s organizing effort to engage LGBTQ+ voters during the 2012 election cycle. LOU CHIBBARO JR. & PETER ROSENSTEIN

Baltimore group to open D.C. facility to offer services discontinued by Casa Ruby

port for LGBTQ immigrants. Corado, who Transgender rights advocate Iya Damresigned from her position as executive mons, the founder and executive director director last year but retained full control of Baltimore Safe Haven, an organization of the organization’s finances, was said to that provides emergency housing and be in El Salvador and couldn’t be reached other services for the LGBTQ community last week when Casa Ruby employees with a special outreach to the transgender disclosed the organization was forced to community, says she plans to open a simclose its operations due to a financial crisis. ilar group in D.C. later this year to provide “The work that she did was truly comservices that D.C.’s Casa Ruby provided mitted to the vision that we also have before its shut down last week. RUBY CORADO (left) and IYA in our mission in Baltimore,” Dammons Dammons, who is originally from D.C. DAMMONS at an event in Baltimore. told the Washington Blade.“We’re going and has longstanding ties to D.C., said she (Blade photo by Philip Van Slooten) to create a low barrier shelter for 18- to was not prepared to comment on the is25-year-olds. We’re going to start a drop-in center and a mosues surrounding the closing of Casa Ruby other than to say bile outreach unit,” Dammons said. she knew Casa Ruby founder and CEO Ruby Corado and She added that her plans also call for “providing services Corado’s years of work carrying out Casa Ruby’s mission. and new employment for those who lost their jobs with reAmong other things, Casa Ruby operated as an LGBTQ gard to what happened with Casa Ruby.” community services center that provided transitional housDammons said she has spoken with officials at the Wanda ing services for homeless LGBTQ youth and adults and sup0 8 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JULY 29, 202 2 • LO CA L NE WS

Alston Foundation and SMYAL, two other D.C. organizations that provide emergency housing services for LGBTQ youth in D.C., for the purpose of collaborating with them on the services that the new D.C. Safe Haven plans to provide. Start-up funds for the opening of D.C. Safe Haven’s operations will be provided by the Okra Project, a national transgender advocacy organization, according to its executive director, Dominique Morgan. Morgan told the Blade in a joint phone interview with Dammons on July 25 that she and her Okra Project team were impressed by Dammons’s plans for the D.C. Safe Haven. Morgan said the Okra Project, among other things, supports the work of transgender leaders like Dammons throughout the country. Dammons said she is aiming to have D.C. Safe Haven’s programs up and running by late fall or early winter of this year to ensure, among other things, that LGBTQ people facing homelessness will have a place to go in the cold weather. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

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HHS expands non-discrimination protections in health care New regulation comes amid monkeypox outbreak By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

A new regulation proposed by the Biden administration seeks to ensure non-discrimination in health care settings for women who have had abortions and LGBTQ people at a time when monkeypox cases continue to increase and fears persist after the U.S. Supreme Court overHHS Secretary XAVIER BECERRA said turned Roe v. Wade. the rule makes clear discrimination in health care is unacceptable. The new regu(Photo Credit: State of California) lation, announced Monday by the Department of Health & Human Services, would interpret Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act to apply more broadly to the definition of sex after the court’s earlier 2016 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which determined anti-LGBTQ discrimination was an illegal form of sex discrimination. The rule would enhance the prohibition discrimination on the basis of sex in health care settings and federally funded health care programs consistent with the law. The regulation also institutes non-discrimination protections for intersex traits; and pregnancy or related conditions, including pregnancy termination; and people with limited English proficiency. Xavier Becerra, secretary of health and human services, announced the proposed rule on Monday during a confer-

ence call with reporters and said it would ensure communities that have had barriers to accessing health care would be able to obtain it. “Everyone in America should be able to get the care that they need from any health provider in the country, especially if they’re that provider is receiving funding from HHS,” Becerra said. “We want to make sure that Americans are free from discrimination when they try to access the care that they need. Pretty simple proposition.” Becerra, asked by the Washington Blade how he sees the proposed rule playing out as part of the Biden administration’s approach to the monkeypox outbreak among gay and bisexual men, said the rule makes clear discrimination in health care is unacceptable and enables LGBTQ people to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health & Human Services. “The reality is that today, the issue of monkeypox, you should not face any discrimination when it comes to the issue of accessing the health care services you might need to address monkeypox,” Becerra said. The new regulation doesn’t appear to be timed as a means to address monkeypox, but a follow-up to an earlier commitment from the Biden administration to make the change. The proposed rule is similar to a regulation in the final years of the Obama administration, which interpreted the language of Section 1557 to bar discrimination based on sex stereotypes and gender identity. The rule, however, was rescinded during the Trump administration under HHS Director of the Office of Civil Rights Roger Severino, who bucked the decision in Bostock and reversed the rule pursuant to an earlier lower federal court ruling in Texas. Melanie Fontes Rainer, now the director of the Office of

Civil Rights under the Biden administration, said on the call that restoring non-discrimination protections after they were rescinded makes health care more accessible for everyone. “The 2020 version of this rule narrowed its scope to cover fewer health programs and activities, limiting vital non-discrimination protections for so many across the country,” Rainer said. “The proposed rule proposes revisions to Section 1557 implementing regulation by restoring and strengthening provisions that protect individuals from discrimination and health programs and activities” The Biden administration rule, however, is different from the Obama-era rule in key aspects. For starters, the Biden-era rule explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in addition to other sex-based categories that were articulated before, using the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock as justification. The newer regulation also contains language that interprets Medicare Part B as federally funded assistance and includes an explicit exemption for health care providers who have objections to certain procedures, such as abortion and gender reassignment surgery. The exact breadth of the religious exemption wasn’t immediately clear. Becerra said during the call the religious conscience provision was included as a result of stakeholder feedback and is consistent with the Biden administration’s goal to protect the rights of people in health care settings. “That is also part of the work that we do, and we don’t believe that there’s any inconsistency in making sure that people are accessing care without discrimination,” Becerra said. Becerra, asked during the call about the timeline for the rule, said he expects it will be made final before the end of this year and after the formal 90-day comment period.

Obergefell lawyer talks post-Roe fate of marriage equality Dan Canon represented plaintiffs in landmark case By CHRISTOPHER KANE

Faced with the likely possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to take away the constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples, congressional Democrats last week reintroduced legislation designed to forestall potential fallout of a reversal of the court’s landmark 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. The Respect for Marriage Act sailed through the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday with support from a quarter of the Republican caucus totaling 47 members. A companion bill in the U.S. Senate introduced by U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), with co-sponsors U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), now stands a chance of securing the endorsement of 10 Senate Republicans, which is necessary to reach the 60-vote bipartisan threshold majority to break a filibuster. The prospect of a floor vote on the bill inched closer, possibly as early as next week with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) commitment to not oppose the bill. Another sign of tepid support among the Senate Republicans came from U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who said he “probably would” vote for the legislation, while U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)’s endorsement was more enthusiastic. “Not only would I like to see Roe, Casey, and Griswold on contraception codified,” said the Alaska senator, “but I’ve also made clear my support … for gay marriage years ago.” Last month, when the High Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion that he saw a valid interest in revisiting other rulings where

to ban same-sex marriage, civil the court had established legal rights lawyer Dan Canon, who precedent with other constiturepresented the Kentucky plaintional privacy rights issues to intiffs in the Obergefell case, told clude Obergefell. the Blade the Respect for MarScrambling to protect reproriage Act would require states ductive rights after the Dobbs v. to recognize marriages of gay Jackson ruling, Democrats introand lesbian couples performed duced an ambitious bill to codify in places where they are legal. the right to abortion nationwide, At least, that is, in states where which earned only seven votes officials would follow the federal from House GOP members and law. was doomed to fail in the Senate “Unless and until the feder(despite Murkowski’s stance on Plaintiffs in marriage equality cases on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 al courts say it’s a violation of a the matter). (Blade photo by Michael Key) government actor’s free exerWith the Respect for Marriage cise rights to have to recognize Act, Democrats have opted for a a marriage — which is a radical, batshit-crazy legal position, more modest approach to mitigate some of the consequencbut still a possible outcome — marriages in places with halfes resulting from a decision overturning marriage equality, way sane judges and/or executive branch officials should be betting that its limited scope would win over enough Senate fine,” Canon said. Republicans to pass it. Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, “The RFMA (Respect for Marriage Act) gives the attorney Democrats also hope to demonstrate their commitment to general and private citizens a civil enforcement mechanism,” protecting marriage equality support which reached 71 perCanon said, but state government employees may neverthecent of Americans according to a Gallup poll in June. less refuse to recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couBy effectively neutralizing the Clinton-era Defense of Marples, and conservative courts could decide their religious riage Act, the legislation would recognize same-sex marobjections and free exercise rights supersede laws like the riage at the federal level, adding additional protections to Respect for Marriage Act. safeguard against the possibility that the constitutional right to marriage equality would be revoked by a court ruling. Should the Supreme Court issue a ruling allowing states CONTINUED AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM


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Michigan’s first out statewide official seeks re-election Dana Nessel elected attorney general in 2018 By JOSH ALBURTUS

In the swing state of Michigan, the presence of an out LGBTQ statewide official for the last four years — a first in the state’s history — has been as much of a political anomaly for the region as it’s been a cultural one. Running for re-election in November after becoming the state’s first LGBTQ candidate to be elected to statewide office, Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has sought to use her office and identity as an out, married lesbian to advocate for LGBTQ equality. Prior to her run for office, she had been involved in LGBTQ legal advocacy efforts in the state, having served as co-counsel in the 2014 DeBoer v. Snyder case that briefly ruled Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in the leadup to the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015. For Nessel, an importance surrounding the representation she has provided to other members of Michigan’s LGBTQ community has remained throughout her first term in office. “Especially for younger generations, it allows for people to see that you can be an openly gay person and be successful in public life,” Nessel told the Washington Blade. “I have never hid who I was, I made every effort to ensure that people sort of have a little insight into my background and also see my family — [I’m] as proud of my family as any person who’s in an opposite-sex marriage — and to see that you can succeed and you can win a statewide election even in a very purple state as long as you have the right policies and as long as you’re willing to put in the work.” Defeating then-Michigan House of Representatives Speaker Tom Leonard, Nessel was elected in 2018 as part of a wave of Democratic ascensions to offices across the nation. She ran, in part, on her experience as a prosecutor and one of the state’s top civil rights lawyers on issues relating to LGBTQ equality. Since then, she has worked with other top officeholders to advance causes involving statewide civil rights efforts and promises made during her initial campaign. Her partnership with officials including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has spanned issues ranging from abortion access to defending Michigan election systems in the wake of the 2020 presidential election and subsequent allegations of widespread voter fraud in the state.

Now entering the final months of her re-election campaign against Republican opponent and Kalamazoo attorney Matt DePerno, the attorney general has remained at the epicenter of efforts to establish additional protections for the state’s LGBTQ community. In a case currently pending in the Michigan Supreme Court, Nessel

Michigan Attorney General DANA NESSEL speaks at the Michigan state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., during a Pride event on June 26, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Nessel’s office)

has argued for an interpretation of the language in the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to expand its prohibition on discrimination to include an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Given the state’s history with regard to progress on LGBTQ rights, the importance of such litigation and the attorney general’s role, Nessel said, remains paramount. “If you look at Michigan, every right that an LGBTQ person has in this state was won in a court battle because, legislatively, we’ve never passed anything that was helpful to the [LGBTQ] community, only laws that are harmful to the community,” Nessel said. But following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn the nationwide right to abortion, Nessel says she is also prepared to stand against challenges to Michigan residents’ rights to privacy in other areas including sexual intimacy. In the event of the Supreme Court ruling to overturn

its 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas that established a nationwide right to same-sex intimacy and privacy regarding consensual sex acts, Nessel said that she would take multiple approaches to ensuring the right — which would affect both same- and opposite-sex couples’ ability to engage in certain private sex acts — remained. “If Lawrence v. Texas were overturned, it’s not just that I would fight, whether testifying before the legislature or using the bully pulpit to talk about how egregious the thought is of being able to basically prosecute people for something that takes place in the privacy of their own bedroom with another consenting adult and how horrendous that is,” Nessel said. “But then, I myself would refuse to prosecute any sodomy cases.” With the attorney general’s position as the state’s top law enforcement official, charged with bringing cases in the courts on behalf of the state, critics have characterized such moves as a neglect of duty. Following the announcement in late June of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs, DePerno released a statement criticizing Nessel’s messaging that she would not prosecute abortion-related cases should the practice once again become criminalized in the state. “It is deeply troubling that Dana Nessel pledged to not enforce the opinion of the Supreme Court even before their announcement this morning,” DePerno said. “We cannot have an attorney general who believes she is better than the Supreme Court and the law.” Pointing to laws rarely tried by county or state prosecutors, such as Michigan’s ban on adultery, Nessel, however, argued that such is a matter of prioritizing her department’s resources to best serve and aid her constituents. “There are so many laws on the books that it’s your prosecutorial discretion as to whether or not you want to bring those cases,” Nessel said. “To me, my priority is protecting the health, the safety and the welfare of my constituents and prosecuting abortion cases — that’s going to jeopardize the lives of women and not assist them. Prosecuting sodomy cases — I don’t know who I’m benefiting if I were to engage in that.” The most recent WDIV/Detroit News polling conducted in early July currently shows Nessel with a seven-point lead over DePerno, with almost 17 percent of voters undecided.

AIDS groups launch first ‘Zero HIV Stigma Day’

A consortium of four community, medical, and urban health organizations announced they have designated July 21 as the first Zero HIV Stigma Day as a new international awareness day drawing attention to the “persistent levels of stigma experienced by people living with and affected by HIV.” A statement released by the four groups organizing Zero HIV Stigma Day says July 21 was chosen to commemorate the birthday of the late South African AIDS activist Prudence Mabele, who advocated for the rights of women and children living with HIV and against gender related violence.

Organizers say Mabele was the first Black South African woman to publicly share her HIV status in 1992. She died in 2017. “In this fifth decade of the global HIV pandemic, stigma continues to undermine progress and, in combination with fear and shame, is still driving late diagnosis of HIV in a way that is unacceptable and entirely preventable,” said Parminder Sekhon, CEO of NAZ, a minority-led HIV and sexual health organization in the United Kingdom that has provided AIDS-related services and care for more than 30 years. NAZ is one of the four groups organizing Zero HIV Stigma Day.


The other organizations that joined NAZ to launch Zero HIV Stigma Day include the D.C.based International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC); Global HIV Collaborative, which says it works to improve HIV outcomes for the Black community globally; and FastTrack Institute, which was created to support cities and municipalities worldwide in their efforts end the AIDS pandemic and other diseases. Detailed background information about HIV stigma and ways it can be addressed can be accessed at: cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-stigma/index.html. LOU CHIBBARO JR.


410-886-2452 blackwalnutpointinn.com


Senate insiders bullish on marriage vote as summer recess nears More than 10 Republicans possible ‘yes’ votes By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com

Senate insiders are bullish on the prospect of a measure seeking to codify samesex marriage after an unexpected bipartisan vote for the measure in the U.S. House as some predict lawmakers could find the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster and vote to send it to President Biden’s desk, although concerns remain about limited time on the congressional calendar. With support for same-sex marriage at a record high — 7-in-10 Americans support gay nuptials — insiders told the Washington Blade the Senate could approve the Respect for Marriage Act with the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster — or even more. The major obstacles for the measure are finding a time period to put the bill up for a vote in the Senate, waiting for senators out with COVID to return to work, and rounding up enough Republican support. One LGBTQ lobbyist, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said “we’re in a good place” with votes on the measure, although whether or not 60 votes are present is hard to know until Senate Democratic leadership ultimately brings up the bill for a vote.

Sen. TAMMY BALDWIN is taking a lead role in finding votes for the Respect for Marriage Act. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“I think this is one of those things where I think we are absolutely close, and I think we should move forward when we can, which I hoped would be really soon, ideally, to try to have a vote,” the lobbyist said. Lawmakers approved the Respect for Marriage Act by a 267-157 vote, with 47 Republicans joining the unanimous Democratic caucus in supporting the legislation. One-fourth of the House Republican caucus voted for the measure, dubbed the Respect for Marriage Act. The measure would need a smaller share of Republicans in the Senate, one-fourth, to obtain the 60 votes necessary to end a filibuster in the chamber. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first out lesbian senator, was the subject of a recent profile in Politico and was quoted as saying she has spoken to at least 10 Republican senators. One LGBTQ lobbyist said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Wis.), the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, is active in the lobbying process through notes to her staff. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), an original co-sponsor of the measure, and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who has a gay son and was an early Republican supporter of same-sex marriage, are taking an active role in lobbying the Republican caucus, insiders said. In addition to Collins and Portman, a handful of Republicans have declared support for the Respect for Marriage Act, including Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C), who once voted for same-sex partner benefits; and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who has supported LGBTQ rights measures in the past. A fifth and unlikely Republican, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), has said he sees “no reason to oppose the measure.” Other Republicans have been non-committal, such as Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who has a reputation as a moderate, but years ago was once a champion of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage nationwide, or announced they would oppose the measure, such as Sen. Marco Rubio 1 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JULY 29, 2022 • NAT I O NA L NE WS

(R-Fla.), who pointedly called the measure a “stupid waste of time” and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). One Republican, Sen. Tommy Thompson (R-Ala.), surprisingly told reporters he’s OK with same-sex marriage, but hasn’t indicated specifically which way he’ll come down on the bill. Romney, despite his history of opposition to same-sex marriage, may be in play, one LGBTQ lobbyist said, given his new image as a moderate and getting breathing space from Utah lawmakers in the House who were among the 47 Republicans to vote for the Respect for Marriage Act. Other potential votes identified are Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Complicating matters is that a number of senators are out sick. Murkowski and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have been out after contracting COVID, while Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the longest-serving member of the Senate, has been out with a fractured hip he suffered from a fall at his house in McLean, Va. One Republican insider said there is an effort to schedule a vote in the Senate, but that was scrapped with the number of senators absent, although another LGBTQ insider pushed back on that and said a vote may still happen this week. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), following the bipartisan vote for the Respect for Marriage Act in the House, expressed interest on the Senate floor in bringing the measure up for a vote, although he hasn’t specified any time as lawmakers are preparing to exit for the August recess. A Schumer spokesperson said he didn’t have a timing update and referred the Blade to the senator’s public remarks on the measure. Time, however, is running out. Not only is the calendar limited before Congress adjourns for August recess, but one LGBTQ lobbyist said time is not on the side of Respect for Marriage Act as social conservatives are beginning to mount aggressive campaigns against the measure. Schumer, asked about the Respect for Marriage Act during a weekly reporter stakeout Tuesday, said “yes” in response to a question on whether the bill remains a priority before Congress adjourns for August recess. “OK, the bottom line is that we care very much about the Equality Act, the Marriage Equality Act,” Schumer added. “We are trying, working real hard to get 10 Republican senators. Between that and the illnesses, we’re not there yet.” Dangerous amendments also remain a possibility. Unlike the House, which proceeded with the Respect for Marriage Act under a closed rule, the same option isn’t available in the Senate, where proposed amendments are determined by agreement among caucus leaders. One LGBTQ lobbyist, however, downplayed the threat of amendments, saying there may be some that would be acceptable if they would win the vote of additional supporters while objectionable changes could be voted down with bipartisan support. The measure is advancing through Congress amid fears same-sex marriage is under threat after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, when U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas writing in a concurrence he’d like to revisit the the Obergefell decision along with the Lawrence v. Texas and Griswold v. Connecticut cases. No other justices signed Thomas’s concurrence, nor is any state legislature or court case advancing a challenge to marriage rights for same-sex couples. The Respect for Marriage Act wouldn’t keep same-sex marriage the law of the land if the Supreme Court were to strike down Obergefell per se, but rather repeal from the books the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Supreme Court struck down in 2013, and require states to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. There would be constitutional issues if Congress required states to accommodate same-sex couples in their marriage laws, which have been under the jurisdiction of the states. The marriage bill, which would codify existing law and make no additional changes, has momentum and is poised for a vote in the Senate, while the Equality Act, a measure that would expand long-sought after non-discrimination protections in federal law, remains pending in the chamber and is all but dead. No Republican support currently exists for the Equality Act, unlike the Respect for Marriage Act. One LGBTQ lobbyist said anytime a LGBTQ rights measure like the Respect for Marriage Act gets a win, it can only have a positive impact on other measures, but was ultimately circumspect about expressing optimism for any prospects for a non-discrimination bill. “As far as the clock on this Congress, we don’t have a lot of time left,” the lobbyist said. “While I think we were getting closer to 60 on something on non-discrimination protections, maybe not the full Equality Act, it’s hard to see the time working in our favor for this Congress, but I do think this vote in broad strokes helps us.”

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Berlin becomes refuge for LGBTQ Ukrainians Dmitry Shapoval swam across river to escape war-torn country By MICHAEL K. LAVERS

BERLIN — Dmitry Shapoval is a 24-year-old gay man from Ukraine who lives with HIV. He was working at an IT company’s call center and studying web and UX design in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, in February when Russia launched its war against his country. Shapoval swam across a river and entered Poland less than a month later. Shapoval now lives in Berlin with his cat Peach and has begun the process of resettling in Germany. “I feel very secure here,” Shapoval told the Washington Blade on July 22 during an interview at Berlin’s Palais Populaire on the city’s Unter den Linden boulevard. Shapoval is one of the more than 900,000 Ukrainians who have arrived in Germany since the war began. Ukrainians are able to enter Germany without a visa, and the German government provides those who have registered for residency a “basic income” that helps them pay for housing and other basic needs that include food. Ukrainian refugees can also receive access to German language classes, job training programs, and childcare. Anastasiia Baraniuk and her partner, Yulia Mulyukina, were living together in Dnipro, a city on the Dnieper River in central Ukraine, when the war began. Mulyukina, who is from Russia, was living in Moscow when she and Baraniuk began to talk online. Mulyukina traveled to Lviv in western Ukraine via Istanbul to meet Baraniuk, who is a Ukrainian citizen.

DMITRY SHAPOVAL, 24, is a gay Ukrainian with HIV. He fled his country in March and now lives in Berlin. (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Mulyukina on July 22 told the Blade at Palais Populaire that she asked the Russian Embassy in Kyiv for help when the war began. Mulyukina said officials suggested that she “ask Ukraine what to do.” “I was really shocked that my own country, with this idea of bringing peace, bringing quiet to Ukraine, just rejected me entirely,” she said in Russian as Shapoval translated. Baraniuk, who also spoke with the Blade in Russian, said the Ukrainian government and a local NGO provided them with food and money. The couple had planned to stay in Ukraine, but they decided to leave after Mulyukina “heard five explosions” while she was walking to a store. The two women’s friends gave them money to buy train tickets to Poland. Insight, a Ukrainian LGBTQ and intersex rights organization, helped Baraniuk and Mulyukina and their cat enter Poland. They spent a week there before they arrived in Berlin on April 28. Shapoval met them when they arrived at the train station.

Shapoval, Baraniuk, and Mulyukina are among those who participated in a two-day meeting the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration organized that took place in Berlin from July 21-22. Activists from Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy and the U.S. attended the gathering that had a stated goal of starting “the conversation about long-term/mid-term needs and solutions for LGBTIQ Ukrainians and incite collaboration among stakeholders working with LGBTIQ Ukrainians and third-country nationals.” “We were thrilled to bring together activists and human rights defenders from 10 countries and 20 organizations to develop medium and long-term strategies to support displaced LGBTIQ Ukrainians and third country nationals,” ORAM Executive Director Steve Roth told the Blade after the meeting. “All these organizations, including ORAM, have done an amazing job getting emergency support and services to LGBTIQ Ukrainians in need. As the war in Ukraine drags on, it’s more important than ever for organizations to coordinate efforts and plan for supporting longer term needs. This two-day roundtable in Berlin was a great step in that direction.” ORAM has partnered with Airbnb, Hilton and Alight (formerly known as the American Refugee Agency) to provide more than 1,000 nights of short-term housing to LGBTQ and intersex Ukrainians and other displaced people in Germany and other countries in Europe. Shapoval, Baraniuk and Mulyukina are among those who live in such apartments. Roth noted ORAM has begun to develop “a housing collective” for LGBTQ and intersex Ukrainians in Berlin. He said ORAM rents the apartments in which the refugees can live for up to six months, “allowing them to register in Berlin, access social welfare and other services.” “Safe and secure housing is one of the most urgent needs facing displaced LGBTIQ Ukrainians,” Roth told the Blade. “It’s an essential element in getting settled and rebuilding lives.”

Berlin Pride shows solidarity with Ukraine

The meeting ended a day before the annual Christopher Street Day parade took place in Berlin. Baraniuk helped carry ORAM’s banner during the parade, while Mulyukina took pictures for the organization. Kyiv Pride Executive Director Lenny Emson is one of the LGBTQ and intersex activists from Ukraine who participated in the ORAM meeting and in the parade. He told the Blade before the parade began that he took several trains from Kyiv to Poland before he flew to Berlin. Emson said the trip took two days. “I understand that it is a safe ground, but I still have those flashbacks,” Emson told the Blade as he smoked a cigarette in front of a hotel near the parade staging area. “When you were sitting in the conference room and I saw something that reminds me of an air raid siren I was getting a panic attack. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a safe place.” Emson also took issue with parade organizers’ opposition to war. “Unfortunately, we as the Ukrainian community here (are) very disappointed with the motto that Berlin Pride put on the main stage: No war,” said Emson. “This doesn’t reflect the feelings that we have right now.”


“We would like to actually say it loud: Stop Russian aggression,” he added. “We need action right now. We need to stop it. We need to stop Russian aggression. We need to stop it right now.” A group of marchers held a blue and yellow — the colors of Ukraine’s flag — banner that read “Arm Ukraine: Make Pride in Mariupol possible” while others simply carried the Ukrainian flag. A man carried a homemade sign that read “Arm Ukraine: Make Pride in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Zaporizha, Kryvyi Rih possible again.” Viktoriya, a woman from northern Ukraine who is now pursuing her Ph.D. in Berlin, held a cardboard poster that noted her homeland’s “queer soldiers are fighting for all of us.” “I’m marching for both rights of queer people and rights of Ukrainians: The right to live and the right for love,” she said as she marched toward Potsdamer Platz in the center of Berlin. Discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity were commonplace in Ukraine before the war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last year pledged his country would continue to fight anti-LGBTQ and anti-intersex discrimination after he met with President Joe Biden at the White House. Shapoval, who is dating a man he met last October when he traveled to Berlin, told the Blade that he received “looks” in Kyiv if he wore a pink shirt. He was wearing a pair of purple sneakers during the interview. Shapoval said he would not have been comfortable wearing them if he were still in Kyiv. “For me it was even harder because I had misery in Ukraine because of homophobes,” he said. “Even the gay community is so toxic in Ukraine because it’s all about toxic masculinity and all of that … I also had some experiences where gays were like, ‘Oh my gosh just cut your hair and then we will get in touch with you.’” Shapoval has begun the process of applying for German residency. “I fell in love with the city right from the beginning,” he said. “I found friends here.” Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights, and others have noted transgender and gender non-conforming Ukrainians have not been able to leave the country because they cannot exempt themselves from military conscription. Another issue that LGBTQ and intersex Ukrainians have faced as they attempt to resettle in another country is the lack of legal recognition of their relationships. A marriage equality petition that Kyiv Pride submitted to Zelenskky on July 12 received more than 28,000 signatures, which is higher than the threshold that requires him to consider it. Ukrainian law requires Zelenskky to respond to it within 10 days of receiving it. Baraniuk and Mulyukina hope to resettle in the U.S. and Canada, but are unable to legally prove they are in a relationship. The U.S. has a marriage-based immigration system for bi-national couples, while the Canadian system requires them to be married or “common-law partners.” The U.S. has approved Baraniuk’s resettlement request, but denied Mulyukina. They said the process to legally prove they are together is prohibitively expensive.”Right now we are looking for a way to get the proof that we are a couple,” said Baraniuk. “We don’t want to stay in Berlin.”

Celebrating diversity, supporting the community, and sharing our pride. At Kaiser Permanente, the region’s leading health system,1 we’ve always supported the LGBTQ+ community. From inclusive, compassionate care provided by physicians knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ health issues to a welcoming and safe environment, you’ll always get care that makes you feel like you belong.

kp.org/pridemedical/mas In the survey Best Health Insurance Companies for 2021 by Insure.com, Kaiser Permanente as a national enterprise is rated #1 overall among 15 companies. In the NCQA Commercial Health Plan Ratings 2021, our commercial plan is rated 5 out of 5, the highest rating in MD, VA, and DC. The 2019 Commission on Cancer, a program of the American College of Surgeons, granted Three-Year Accreditation with Commendation to the Kaiser Permanente cancer care program (extended through 2022). The Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group is the largest multispecialty medical group in the Washington, DC, and Baltimore areas and exclusively treats Kaiser Permanente members. Permanente doctors are recognized as Top Doctors in Northern Virginia Magazine (2022), Washingtonian magazine (2021), and Baltimore magazine (2021). According to NCQA’s Quality Compass® 2021, we’re rated 5 out of 5 in 29 measures, including: controlling blood pressure (heart disease), blood pressure control (140/90) (diabetes), glucose control, colorectal screening, breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, childhood immunizations, prenatal check-ups, and postpartum care. Quality Compass is a registered trademark of the NCQA.


Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc. 2101 E. Jefferson St. Rockville, MD 20852 2022BD0702 MAS 6/3/22-12/31/23

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JOHN PALMEIRI is SAMHSA’s 988 Acting Director and BRIAN ALTMAN is SAMHSA’s Senior Advisor on LGBTQI+ Policy.


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

New 988 Suicide Lifeline seeks to meet LGBTQ community’s unique needs

Outbreak declared ‘global emergency’

LGBTQI+ individuals are more likely than their counterparts to exhibit suicidal behavior. According to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, nearly half of students identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual reported seriously considered suicide. These students experienced a near fourfold increase in suicide attempts compared with heterosexual students. LGBTQI+ adults are also at greater risk of suicide. According to the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 15.9 percent of LGB respondents ages 26 to 49 reported serious suicidal thoughts within the past year, and 2.1 percent reported a suicide attempt. The experiences of stigmatization, rejection, trauma, victimization, microaggressions, homophobia and transphobia all contribute to this elevated risk. Conversely, support and connection between LGBTQI+ youth and their family or caregiver, peers, school and community, can promote better mental health, fewer negative outcomes and stronger (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles County) resilience. The federal government, along with public and private sector partners, plays an important role toward building this affirming support and connection. On July 16, SAMHSA led the nationwide transition to 988 as the easy-to-remember number to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline — an important step forward to strengthen and transform crisis care in our country. Historically there have been notable gaps in accessing needed care for suicidal, mental health and substance use concerns with marginalized groups often facing additional barriers and inequitable outcomes. SAMHSA is committed to enhancing access to crisis services for LGBTQI+ youth, including through the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, and has outlined a number of critical activities. These include enhanced training, service linkage to specialized care and creation and testing of direct chat portals and interactive voice response menu options. In addition, research shows the training and expertise of the counselors who respond to crisis contacts matters. A recent survey of 12- to 25-year-old callers conducted by the Trevor Project revealed that nearly half indicated they called specifically because of LGBT-affirming counselors. Recent federal appropriations direct $7.2 million to provide specialized services for LGBTQ youth within the 988 Lifeline. SAMHSA has been working closely with its partners to do so. Given both youth preferences for digital tools like text and chat and the particular needs of LGBTQI+ youth, such enhancements in access are critically important strategies to promote engagement. The implementation of 988 and expanding access to affirming support for struggling LGBTQI+ youth is a critical first step in saving lives, decreasing stigma and linking those in need to compassionate and effective care. If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org

The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) says “the expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an extraordinary situation that now qualifies as a global emergency.” As of July 23 more than 2,300 cases have been documented in the United States and many in the health community believe that is a dramatic undercount. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “made the decision to issue the declaration despite a lack of consensus among experts serving on the U.N. health agency’s emergency committee. It was the first time the chief of the U.N. health agency has taken such an action.” Tedros added, “We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the international health regulations.” As reported, “A global emergency is WHO’s highest level of alert, but the designation does not necessarily mean a disease is particularly transmissible or lethal.” Currently there is only one lab in Denmark that makes the vaccine against Monkeypox. There apparently was an indication monkeypox could spread a few years ago and no one looked at stockpiling vaccine. At this time the LGBTQ community is seeing the brunt of this outbreak. Men having sex with men are mostly the ones getting it. WHO’s top monkeypox expert, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, said “this week 99% of all the monkeypox cases beyond Africa were in men and that of those, 98% involved men who have sex with men. Experts suspect the monkeypox outbreaks in Europe and North America were spread via sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain.” This is not a gay disease and it is important we don’t allow this to have the impact HIV/AIDS did on the gay community by stigmatizing the people who got it. I know in Washington, D.C., while the current people who have been allowed to register for the vaccine are gay men and healthcare workers, the Director of the Department of Health, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, made clear in her statement this is not a disease limited to gay men and as more vaccine becomes available others will be allowed to register for it. HHS, which has been overseeing vaccine rollout and distribution, “recommends vaccination for those at high risk following a confirmed monkeypox exposure. The press release went on to explain that this includes: Individuals who had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox; Individuals who know their sexual partner was diagnosed with monkeypox; men who have sex with men who have recently had multiple sex partners in a venue where there was known to be monkeypox or in an area where monkeypox is spreading. The CDC also recommends that people whose jobs may expose them to monkeypox, get vaccinated. This could include lab personnel, research lab workers, and certain healthcare and public health response team members.” The LGBTQ community both around the world and in the United States did not need this now. We are already under attack. In the U.S. we are facing the possibility if Democrats lose in the midterm elections, that it could set back the progress made by women and the LGBTQ community for decades. Women already lost the right to control their own health and body; the LGBTQ community is being threatened with the loss of the right to marry. But let us not forget even if Congress protects that right, which is very questionable with the current Senate; they have yet to pass the Equality Act first introduced by Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.) in 1974. There are no protections for employment or housing in 27 states. You can marry on a Sunday and be fired and thrown out of your home on Monday. We must remember any progress we have made can be stripped away by this rightwing Republican Supreme Court, and by Republicans if they take over Congress. So, add the possibility our community will be seen as spreading Monkeypox, and life could get more dangerous for many. The government must immediately secure more vaccine, and ensure respected members of the healthcare community in every city and state speak out telling communities this is not a gay disease. This should not become another way to discriminate against our community.

Nationwide transition to easy-to-remember hotline began July 16

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The LGBTQ community, Monkeypox, and the WHO

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is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.

Glenn Thompson is a pox on America’s genitals

GOP congressman votes against marriage, then attends gay son’s wedding Usually summer is kind of quiet around here. Washington still has the old-school tradition of emptying out during the hotter months. Out-of-office responses bounce around town like a beach ball. Gays head to Fire Island, Provincetown, Rehoboth, or just anywhere in this city with a pool. Straights go, well, wherever it is they go. With a quieter town, this column usually takes a few weeks off. But, this town can surprise you. There is a lot of talk around this city. Is the government failing us again when it comes to monkeypox? Where in the world is Ruby Corado? As fast as the news may move, even in the summer, I’m not sure I can really add anything helpful there. So, why not write about another pox on the genitals of America — the Republican Party. Specifically, have you met Pennsylvania Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Awkward Thanksgiving). As you may know, last week the House of Representatives voted on the Respect for Marriage Act; the act that would essentially codify not only gay marriage, but also interracial marriage. The bill passed in what could be considered a bipartisan fashion. Two things here — gay marriage is overwhelmingly supported by the electorate, that and the fact that we’re talking that and interracial marriage is a tad embarrassing for our country. None of that stopped 157 House Republicans from voting against protecting them both. Enter Glenn Thompson. Google him. Hit images. Isn’t it always strange that Republicans just look like Republicans? Round, bald, red tie. Could have been a jerk football coach but life took him in another direction. Well, he’s got a gay son. And, this gay son had his gay wedding just three days after his father voted against the Respect for Marriage Act. What in the gay hell, right? I reached out to the congressman’s office and his press secretary Maddison Stone. (Just a note, that second ‘d’ is hers not mine.). Stone responded with this sort of canned response, “Congressman and Mrs. Thompson were thrilled to attend and celebrate their son’s marriage on Friday night as he began this new chapter in his life. The Thompsons are very happy to welcome their new son-in-law into their family.” Welcome, indeed. I have so many questions. But I guess they all boil down to when, exactly, did Republicans get so damn spiteful. Who can’t get behind love? Two men in tuxedos sharing a kiss? Even if you don’t have a gay kid, most folks these days can point to a gay cousin, nephew, friend of a friend of a friend. But here we are again. Gearing up for another fight over marriage. And here we are calling out Republicans on their blatant hypocrisy and meanness. Calling them out is important for sure. But you just have to remember, people like Glenn Thompson, they just don’t care. And do I feel bad for not only calling out the congressman, but making fun of his appearance? Not really. They don’t care, why should we? And I sincerely hope that every holiday in Congressman Widebody’s home is as awkward and tense as they can be. Gay marriage has only had seven years of court protection. Roe had decades, remember. And the way the Supreme Court has titled to the far right spectrum of fucking crazy, we should all be worried. Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy called it ‘settled law,’ adding ‘right now.’ So, who’s ready for another fight? And until I throw myself over a police barricade at the Supreme Court, if marriage is indeed struck down, I’ll do my part in calling out these assholes whenever I can.


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3 LGBTQ-friendly cities to visit this fall

San Francisco, Chicago, and Palm Springs beckon with nightlife, food, charm

By BILL MALCOLM For nightlife, make your first stop to Sidetracks (3349 N. Halsted), America’s biggest and It’s late July and that means you’re running out of time to plan a summer vacation — but oldest video bar. the time is perfect to plan a fall getaway. Here are three LGBTQ-friendly options to consider The famous Sunday afternoon showtunes now happen on Mondays and Fridays as well. with abundant nightlife, culinary delights, and cultural attractions. Don’t miss the rooftop bar. There is something going on every night. You can’t beat this #1: CHICAGO mega video bar institution. Many other LGBTQ bars are nearby. The North End at 3733 N. Halsted is a sports bar. The Lucky Horsehoe features adult entertainment. Charlie’s is a western themed bar. Just north of Andersonville, you will find Touche and Jackhammer on North Clark, which are popular with the leather crowd. Chicago is a major hub for all transportation types with both O’Hare and Midway Airports as options. Southwest has a hub in Midway Airport. Hop on the Orange Line for a quick ride in. For more information, visit GrabChicago.com (or pick up a copy). GRAB Magazine is Chicago’s only remaining in print LGBTQ magazine. Check the maps at the back of the magazine on where to find the bars, restaurants, and other LGBTQ businesses. The Chicago Reader is the biweekly alternative publication. You will be amazed at everything Chicago has to offer. It is the Paris of the Midwest and arguably one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world. Just ask lesbian Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

#2: PALM SPRINGS Chicago boasts some of the world’s greatest architecture.

Chicago makes for a perfect fall vacation. Festivals, biking along the lake or walking the Kathy Osterman (Hollywood) Beach (the queer beach) in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood are all great options. The gayborhood, Boystown has been re-christened as “Northalsted” to promote inclusion. You will find most of the bars and gay businesses on Halsted Street. I always stay at the Hotel Versey (644 W. Diversey Parkway) near the Diversey Brown Line (at the intersection of Clark/Broadway/Diversey) just south of the gayborhood. The rooms are also full of murals featuring local attractions and parking is just $20 for your entire stay at the garage next door (Century Shopping Center), which also features a LA Fitness free to use for hotel guests. Book directly at HotelVersey.com to save. Weekday rates are reasonable and the weekend rates are also better than anything you will find downtown. Plus, you can walk to the bars or just enjoy the many nearby shops and restaurants. There is even a Trader Joe’s across the street and just west of there is the new Dom’s Kitchen and Market (2730 N. Halstead St.). Just steps away from the hotel is my favorite Italian restaurant, which will sell you a slice of their amazing pizza, Renaldi’s Pizza (2827 N. Broadway) is a local favorite. Try the Spingione Sausage Pizza. Farther up Broadway you will find Unabridged Books (3521 N. Broadway), one of the last remaining independent bookstores that features a wide array of LGBTQ titles. They have been around since 1980 and are still going strong. Broadway features loads of independent shops and restaurants and is a fun way to spend the day. Don’t miss Cram Fashion at 3331 N. Broadway. Grab a salad or enjoy a glass of wine at Mariano’s. Bring your appetite for the new nearby Dom’s Kitchen and Market (2730 N. Halsted Street) where every kind of food is available freshly prepared. If you need anything, you will find the Walmart Neighborhood Market at 2844 N. Broadway. Next door to the Hotel Versey you will find Stan’s Donuts, a local favorite that also has grilled cheese and cookies. Other hotel options in the neighborhood include the Best Western Hawthorn Terrace and The Willows. All are just steps to the Lakeshore Path, which runs along nearby Lake Michigan. Bargain hunters will also love the Heart of Chicago Motel near the Andersonville neighborhood farther north and features free parking. Hop on the L or the CTA bus for a trip to the Loop to experience the incredible Chicago architecture. Walk along the new Riverwalk and then head up Michigan Avenue, which features the best shopping in the Midwest. Enjoy the buildings. My favorite is the Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue near the Chicago River. Even the new buildings are stunning. Chicago does have the best architecture of any city on the planet. Millennium Park in the loop is a must. The Shedd Aquarium is also recommended. Navy Pier has a Ferris wheel. 2 4 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JULY 29, 202 2

There’s always something new to give you another reason to visit Palm Springs besides the great winter weather. My most recent visit included a stop at the hottest new restaurant in town, Bar Cecil, a stop at the aviation themed speakeasy Air Bar at Bouschet, and a trip up the tram for a hike in the San Jacinto mountains. Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto and enjoy a hike (or snow shoeing) in the alpine meadows. The 10-minute trip on the world’s largest rotating tram car takes just 10 minutes to ascend 8,500 feet from the base of Chino Canyon to the top of Mount San Jacinto where breathtaking views and pristine alpine wilderness await. Take a short hike in the Long Valley or visit the Winter Adventure Center. Details at pstramway.com. Other ideas: • Hike on the North Lykken Trail at the end of Ramon Road. Bring plenty of sunscreen and water. • Explore the new Heritage Galleries and Antique District in Uptown. • Visit the Palm Springs Air Museum to see the world’s largest collection of flyable World War 2 aircraft. • Check out the new city park downtown and the oversize statute of Marilyn Monroe. Arenas Road downtown features most of the bars. Enjoy happy hour at Quads. The new speakeasy, AirBar, is a must. Enjoy cocktails while you sit on First Class seats from Northwest Orient or enjoy coach seating on what appears to be old Southwest Airlines seats (complete with seat belts) served by a bartender dressed like a pilot. This aviation themed bar is inside Bouschet. Don’t miss the wine tastings, the Saturday night flight, and the Sunday disco and boozy Bruch. However, unlike airline travel, lunch and dinner are served (or available for purchase). Details at pspairbar.com. CONTINUES ON PAGE 26

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Time to plan your fall travel PALM SPRINGS (continued)

Good choices for lodging include the Hotel Zoso, the Holliday House, and The Rowan by Kimpton. The Margaritaville Resort reportedly has the largest pool. But check the resort fees before you book. They can be $47 a day. Another great option is the Santiago. Ristretto is great for coffee and breakfast. Lulu’s downtown has great quesadillas. The trout at the Eight4Nine Restaurant is to die for. El Mirasol has great Mexican food. The new Bar Cecil (restaurant) is a must. If you cannot get reservations, arrive early and sit at the bar. Vegetarians and juice lovers will want to try Nature’s Health Food and Café. As for getting there, beware of the new hassles of traveling. American cancelled my outbound flight (staffing shortage?) so I ended up on Southwest. You don’t need a car if you stay in one of the downtown hotels. Also, save by taking the SunLine Bus to your hotel using the stop just outside the airport. It is just $1. The Film Festival runs Jan. 6-17 while the Modernism week starts in mid-February. For more information go to the Visit Palm Springs website, visitGreaterPS.com. You can also read or pick up a copy of GED Magazine (GEDMag.com), Rage Magazine, or the Coachella Valley Independent for a current list of happenings. The Desert Daily Guide is another great resource. You won’t run out of new and fun things to do in this desert LGBTQ+ oasis, which is always re-inventing itself and always a delight to visit.


No sooner had I stepped off my Southwest Airlines flight at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) than I was in a LGBTQ history exhibit like no other. The new Harvey Milk Terminal (aka Terminal One), which has been open less than a year at SFO, showcases the life of former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Milk was an LGBTQ political trailblazer in so many respects. He was the first openly gay individual elected to office in California (in 1977) and served just 11 months before being murdered by another Supervisor, Dan White who also assassinated Mayor George Moscone. The amazing life of one of the nation’s first openly LGBTQ politicians is showcased in a half mile exhibit as you walk down the new terminal named in his honor. The terminal exhibit alone is worth a visit to the City by the Bay. I always stay at Beck’s Motor Lodge near the Castro right on Market Street. Shops and restaurants are nearby and the rates are reasonable. It is also out of the touristy areas and in the heart of the gayborhood. They have free parking but you won’t need a car. Other options nearby include the Parker Guest House and The Willows. A walk along Castro Street is another history lesson with famous LGBTQ folks embedded in gold sidewalk displays. Learn about the lives of LGBTQ legends, many from the Bay Area. The city was and is a magnet for LGBTQ folks and is still cutting edge today. San Francisco safe outdoor hiking options abound. From my motel (Becks Motor Lodge) you can hike up to Buena Vista Park for great views of the Bay Area and Twin Peaks. Then hike over to Corona Heights for more great views of the City by the Bay (with lunch at the Josesphine Café at the Randall Museum). A hike up to Twin Peaks is another option from the Castro. A bit farther is the amazing Golden Gate Park and the beaches on the Pacific Ocean. We took BART from 24th/Mission down to the Embarcadero. We stopped at Rincon Center with 1930 era murals of the history of California. Then we headed over to the Ferry Build-

2 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JULY 29, 202 2

San Francisco remains a must-see city for any LGBTQ traveler.

ing for lunch and shopping. Head over to the new rooftop gardens at the Salesforce Tower Transbay Transit Terminal, which features a display in the mile-long garden of the various types of ecosystems that thrive in the Mediterranean climate of this amazing state. Don’t miss the redwood garden. A walk thought the Financial District up to Union Square is another must. If you have a car, try Edgewood County Park on the Peninsula just down I-280 south of the City on the world’s most beautiful freeway (really). The bars are open in the Castro Street neighborhood and include The Lookout (3600 16th St. at Market), which has a great deck overlooking the street scene. Twin Peaks Tavern at Market and Castro (401 Castro) bills itself as the Gateway to the Castro and features Irish Coffee and drink specials. It also has outdoor seating and great views of the street action. Hi Tops at 2247 Market is another fun sports bar with outdoor seating. Erics on Church Street (accessible via the J Church Metro Line) has great lunch specials. It is a Chinese restaurant with tasty home-cooked, healthful ingredients. In nearby West Portal, enjoy Italian food at the amazing Spiazzo Restaurant. Try the salmon. (Catch the K or L line bus from the Castro.) West Portal also abounds with other options for dining. Peet’s Coffee is across the street from Beck’s Motor Lodge is a great breakfast option for to go selections. I took Southwest to SFO and flew back out of Oakland International Airport (OAK). Both are convenient options served by the BART transit system. Get a Clipper Card and you can also use it on the San Francisco bus system, Muni. Check out the Bay Area Reporter (ebar.com or pick up a printed copy), which just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Bay Times is the other local LGBTQ publication. Both are great sources for ideas on what to do while visiting and current updates on what is open and what is not. (Bill Malcolm’s syndicated LGBTQ value travel column runs in select LGBTQ publications around America.)

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Musing on the Shenandoah Valley and W.Va.

ROBERT EARL enjoying time at Muse. (Photo by Anthony Istrico)

Area offers growing selection of farm-to-table cuisine, craft beer, and more

By ROBERT EARL Back in 2005, when my husband Stephen and I bought our first cabin in Lost River, W.Va., a close DMV friend dubbed the area “17th Street with trees” and likened Rehoboth Beach to “17th Street with sand.” We had been to Lost River once after we met in 1991 but had not returned due to work and professional scheduling conflicts. As we settled into our cabin, the exploring began locally in Hardy County. We went on ever-expanding jaunts to trail hike and learn about all the Shenandoah Valley had to offer. When out and about, we enjoyed exploring the local food and wine options in addition to where to buy “this and that,” like other grocery stores not in Hardy County and the closest Lowe’s and Tractor Supply Company. We discovered more quality food and wine options in the Shenandoah Valley than we expected, leading us to some local favorites that became our regular haunts. A major part of our weekend exploration involved the Shenandoah Valley wine scene, which allowed us to expand our palates and better understand Virginia wine. The best and closest to Lost River is Muse Vineyards, located in Woodstock, Va., a 90-minute drive from the Beltway and close to some outstanding hikes. The Vineyard is also adjacent to the newest state park, Seven Bends State Park, named for the meandering curves of the Shenandoah River that uniquely flows south to north.

It was 2016 when we first discovered Muse, after its tasting room had just opened, it had already been awarded the 2015 Virginia Governors Cup for its 2009 Clio red wine. Muse’s wines are named for the Greek Muses, such as Erato (erotic poetry) and Calliope (heroic poetry). Owners Robert Muse and Sally Cowal — and Emma the vineyard-guardian Barbet French water dog — are the most gracious hosts, with Sally and Emma in the tasting room and Robert in the rows of fields and wine-making. Muse boasts about 20 varieties of grapes (even Nebbiolo) offering their guests an opportunity to expand their perceptions of what Virginia agriculture is really capable of producing. You can also tour the vines with scheduled, guided excursions with the owners or via a QR-code-self-guided tour with a glass of wine. The owners also celebrate local artists, so the tasting room curates monthly exhibits. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the food. The Muse menu is creative and bucks traditional fare. I’ve been a club member now for seven years, and I enjoy the social aspects ranging from full moon festivals to wine club parties. Sadly, I now visit Muse and other locations as a widower, having lost my partner and husband of 29 years in 2020. Stephen loved Muse wines and the setting, as well as the hospitality of Sally, Robert, and Emma. Our last visit together to Muse was in May 2020 before we knew he was terminally

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ill. It still warms my heart on each visit to Muse. There are many special memories of visits to Muse. One is how well the food offerings have evolved over the years. As a pate lover, Muse regularly has it on its menu. It’s so hard to find pate at grocers in the Valley. When Muse released its sparkling blanc de blanc, it had a special sparkling and oysters on the half shell event. Another is owning two original works of art from an early exhibition. Turns out the artist worked in the tasting room and the purchase were her first works of art to be sold. Shenandoah County continues to offer a growing selection of farm-to-table cuisine and craft beer, surrounded by the bends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah, with a lovely hike, scenic vista, or river float always within reach. Back at home at Hardy County, there’s the reliable Lost River Grill and TK’s Lounge with “Flippy the squirrel,” the acclaimed restaurant at the Guesthouse at Lost River, and the Lost River General Store and the Inn at Lost River, where we had our 25th anniversary dinner celebration under prior ownership. The new owners are doing a great job continuing the legacy of food, provisions, and inn-keeping. Life is good – beautiful, serene, relaxed, and friendly – in Hardy County and close by in West Virginia and Virginia.

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Friday, July 29

Friday Tea Time will be at 2 p.m. in the DC Center in the atrium of the Reeves Center. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ+ adults. For more information, contact adamheller@thedccenter.org. LGBTQ+ Social in the City will be at 7 p.m. at the Moxy. This event is ideal for making new connections and community building. Tickets are free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Saturday, July 30 Virtual Yoga Class with Charles M. will be at 12 p.m. online. This is a free weekly class focusing on yoga, breath work, and meditation. You can RSVP for this event on the DC Center’s website. Go Gay DC will host an LGBTQ Brunch at 10 a.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. This weekly event brings the DMV area LGBTQ+ community, including Allies, together for delicious food and conversation. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Sunday, July 31 LGBTQ Coffee and Conversation will be at 12 p.m. at As You Are. This event is ideal for those looking to make more friends in the LGBTQ+ community after two years of the pandemic. This event is free and you can register on Eventbrite. “Sunday Vibes! LGBTQ+ Inclusive Outdoor Event!” will be at 2 p.m. at Dirty Habit. DJs Eletrox and Jai Syncere will bring guests Top 40 music, Afrobeats, reggaeton, house remixes, throwbacks and more. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Monday, August 01 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, visit the Center Aging’s Facebook or Twitter. Not Another Drag Show will be at 8 p.m. at Dupont Italian Kitchen. Logan Stone will host the event along with a rotating cast of other DMV performers. Tickets are free and can be accessed on Eventbrite.

Tuesday, August 02 Center Aging Women’s Social and Discussion Group will be at 6 p.m. on Zoom. This group is a place where older LGBTQ+ women can meet and socialize with one another. To register for this event, visit the DC Center’s website.

Wednesday, August 03 BookMen DC will be at 7:30 p.m. in-person in the Reeves Building at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. This is an informal group of men who are interested in fiction and non-fiction gay literature. For more information, visit BookMen DC’s website.

Thursday, August 04 The DC Center’s Food Pantry Program will be held all day at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. To be fair with who is receiving boxes, the program is moving to a lottery system. People will be informed on Wednesday at 5 p.m. if they are picked to receive a produce box. No proof of residency or income is required. For more information, email supportdesk@thedccenter.org or call 202-682-2245. API Queer Support Group will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This support group is co-sponsored by APIQS (Asian Pacific Islander Queer Society DC) and AQUA (Asian Queers United for Action). Email supportdesk@thedccenter.org for more information. 3 0 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JULY 29, 202 2

RAYCEEN PENDARVIS hosts a dance party at Silver Pride next month. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)


Silver Pride to return after two-year hiatus Whitman-Walker Health and Team Rayceen Productions will join forces to host the return of Silver Pride on Monday, Aug. 15 at 4 p.m. at Studio Theatre. This event is to celebrate senior members of the LGBTQ community. This is a free dance party hosted by Rayceen Pendarvis. The celebration will include live music and an interactive exhibition featuring Whitman-Walker and Team Rayceen’s community partners. To RSVP, visit www.Rayceen.com.

RuPaul’s Drag Race World Tour to stop in D.C. RuPaul’s Drag Race World Tour, “WERQ THE WORLD” will be in the D.C. area on Saturday, Aug. 6 at The Theatre at MGM National Harbor. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” favorites Kameron Michaels, Rose, Vanjie, Asia O’Hara, and Jaida Essence Hall, and season 14 finalists Angeria Paris VanMichaels, Daya Betty, and Jorgeous will be performing. In this year’s live production, an experiment gone wrong sends audiences spiraling through time with no way of returning to 2022. The queens will whisk fans on a magical journey through iconic periods of history in hopes of returning them safely home. Tickets start at $48 and can be purchased on Voss Events’ website.

Annual LGBTQ literary festival to return in August OutWrite’s annual LGBTQ Literary Festival will begin on Friday, Aug. 5, and end on Sunday, Aug. 7. The festival will take place virtually on the DC Center for the LGBT Community’s YouTube page. This year’s festival will feature 70 LGBTQ+ authors including poets, novelists, playwrights, and activists. Participants will enjoy multiple educational, entertaining, and enlightening events including eight readings, seven panel discussions, and four workshops. All events are free and open to the public. For the full festival schedule and to register for events, visit the DC Center’s website.


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DC Commanders notch Pride Bowl victory Local teams ‘overcome some difficulties’ to score wins

By KEVIN MAJOROS There was a special meaning for Arnold in the win, as it Pride Bowl XIV was contested in Chicago in late June drawbrought reflections of his teammate, John Boyd, who passed ing more than 800 players from across the country. The annuin 2020. al tournament featured 32 teams in the Open Division and 12 “We played on the same field where John threw his first teams in the Women’s Division. touchdown pass as a quarterback,” Arnold says. “It was a great For the DC Gay Flag Football League (DCGFFL) travel teams, punctuation mark, and I was joyous for many reasons.” it marked their second tournament of the year having previousArnold points to the travel experience as a tight-knit commuly competed in the Florida Sunshine Cup XI in February. nity filled with amazing people, lifelong friends, and an elevated The DCGFFL sent five travel teams consisting of more than level of competition. 80 athletes to Chicago – three teams in the Open Division and “Several years ago we didn’t compete well and ended up two teams in the Women’s Division. skipping the closing events to lick our wounds at a local dive Each team was guaranteed four games in bracket play with bar in Chicago,” Arnold says. “We have returned to that same the winners moving on to the semifinals. The DC Admirals, bar every year and are welcomed with open arms. Sharing that Washington Generals, DC Commanders, and DC Senators quality time with your teammates and the next generation of Black all advanced to compete in the final four. players is what keeps me coming back.” The DC Commanders would go on to win their championNikki Kasparek founded the DCGFFL’s first women’s travel ship game 8-0, defeating the Austin Capitals in the Open B2 team, DC Senators, in 2014 with Gay Bowl XIV being their first Bracket. They scored early in the game and held off their optournament. ponent over two 30-minute halves in a tough defensive battle. Pride Bowl marked another first for the players as two DCThree players from the DCGFFL travel teams were selected GFFL women’s travel teams competed in the tournament – DC to the Pride Bowl All-Tournament Team – Drew Crane of the Senators Black and DC Senators Red. Washington Generals, Matan Showstack of the DC Command“It was exciting having a second team there and it gave us a ers, and Derrick Johnson of the Washington Generals. built-in cheering section,” says Kasparek. “The group of womClay Arnold has been on the DC Commanders’ travel team en on our second team energized all of us and everyone put for six years and has captained since 2018. This year will mark in significant playing time. The Red team was captained by two the first full travel season post-COVID for the players who will veterans and the rest of the players were all rookies.” also be traveling to Honolulu for Gay Bowl XXII in October. The DCGFFL has experienced significant growth in women’s “We have overcome some difficulties to get back to taking players over the past two seasons with 35 women currently the majority of our players to tournaments, including securing playing in the leagues. enough money to pay for jerseys,” says Arnold. “The ComKasparek, who has a wife and two kids at home, says she is manders brought five players who had never traveled and it’s very tied to the Senators and the DCGFFL and is excited about great having new talent.”

The DC Commanders won their championship game 8-0 last month. (Photo courtesy DCGFFL)

all of the new players. “I am incredibly competitive and the DCGFFL leagues and travel tournaments allow me to scratch that itch,” Kasparek says. “I am going to enjoy all of it – the friendships, the seasons, the tournaments, the moments – until I can’t flex that muscle anymore.” Along with the increase in women’s players, the DCGFFL has picked up over 100 new players in the past two seasons. Logan Dawson was recently elected as the new commissioner and also played for the Commanders at Pride Bowl. “Traveling is a great opportunity to bond with your teammates and compete with the best players from all the cities in attendance,” says Dawson. “It is a higher level of competition than our league play and offers our players an experience that will improve their skill set.” The DCGFFL has been using the DC Commanders name for many years and have no plans to change it because of the recent name change of the NFL’s Washington Commanders. “We like the connection and for the first time ever, members of the DC Commanders and the DCGFFL marched side-by-side with members of the Washington Commanders’ organization in the Capital Pride parade this year,” Dawson says. “We will also have interaction with them at their Pride Night this September.” Registration is now open for Season XXIII of the DCGFFL. Coming up for their travel teams are Beach Bowl 2022 and Gay Bowl XXII.


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NEIL PATRICK HARRIS stars in ‘Uncoupled.’ (Photo courtesy Netflix)

NPH is ‘Uncoupled’ in new Netflix sitcom

Show lampoons queer NYC social scene’s mores and manners

By JOHN PAUL KING both undercuts the show’s “guilty pleasure” appeal and enriches it. Indeed, much of the Summer of 2022 might just go down in history as “The Summer of the Queer Romfun of “Uncoupled” comes from its lampooning of the queer social scene’s mores and com.” With movies and shows like “Heartstopper,” “Fire Island,” and “Anything’s Posmanners – the shallow obsessions with youth and hotness, money and status, and all the sible” already gracing our screens, and upcoming projects like Billy Eichner’s much-another interpersonal dynamics that enable us to judge each other – and letting us laugh ticipated “Bros” still on the horizon, it seems like Hollywood is trying to make up for all at the attitudes and pretensions we love to hate about ourselves. It allows us to let its those years of content in which LGBTQ people were only allowed to be shown as tragic characters off the hook, and ourselves, too, by reminding us that we are all only human, victims or comic relief – when we weren’t being erased altogether, that is – by giving us and that humans are sometimes ridiculous. a glut of the kinds of happily-ever-after stories we never got to see about ourselves. It’s In service of that, “Uncoupled” has a stellar cast that not only has the comedic chops about time, and nobody is complaining. to sell its farcical goings-on but the nuance to go a little deeper. At the forefront, of Still, with all these feel-good romances heading our way, it was inevitable that we course, is Harris, who deploys the confidence of a seasoned sitcom star to give us a fully would eventually get something that looks at the flip side of that coin – a story about realized leading character, and whose eternally boyish looks and persona have aged breaking up. What we might not have expected, however, is that it would be a comedy. just enough to make him an ideal centerpiece for a story that is, in many ways, about “Uncoupled,” the new Netflix series from Darren Star and Jeffrey Richman, is exactly growing up. Campbell more than holds her own next to him – their BFF chemistry makes that. It stars Neil Patrick Harris as Michael, who – as a successful Manhattan real estate them one of the more interesting platonic pairings in recent television memory – and broker with a close-knit group of friends and a 17-year loving relationship with the handBrooks and Ashmanskas turn their roles into much more than mere side characters. It’s some Colin (Tuc Watkins) – seems to be living every gay man’s dream. He gets a rude a likable cast, across the board; yet the show’s most impressive acting turns might just awakening, however, when Colin, on the eve of his 50th birthday, blindsides him by come from two of its recurring supporting players – Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Hardin as abruptly packing up his things and moving out of their apartment, leaving him to face a high-profile (and high maintenance) real estate client, and Broadway legend André De two nightmares he never saw coming – the loss of a person he believed was his soulShields as Michael’s elderly-but-regal neighbor – who bring some much-needed weight mate, and the reality of being a 40-something single gay man in New York City. to the proceedings and make their scenes among the most memorable of the season. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to do it alone. His business partner and confidante SuStill, all the superficiality on display does sometimes wear thin, and some viewers zanne (Tisha Campbell) is at his side to walk him through the painful stages of dealing might begin to wonder if Michael and his friends really are as vapid as their priorities with a breakup, as are his two closest friends, TV weatherman Billy (Emerson Brooks) often make them seem; and while all the characters get some hard lessons as the season and high-end art dealer Stanley (Brooks Ashmanskas). While it’s true that none of them progresses, it’s by no means certain they will learn from them, and these moments can are exactly qualified when it comes to giving relationship advice, he needs all the help feel like lip service in a show that sometimes seems to celebrate self-absorbed vanity he can get – especially when he begins to awkwardly fumble his way back into a dating even as it satirizes it. scene that looks a lot different than he remembers. Still, Star and Richman know their audience, and they’re not interested in wagging As written by Star and Richman, with director Andrew Fleming at the helm, the show’s fingers at them. “Uncoupled” is not meant to be social criticism; it’s about learning how deep dive into the funny side of breakups doesn’t have much time for tears and regret. to live again when your heart gets broken. To that end, instead of turning Colin into Playing out in the upscale, glamorous world of New York’s high gay society, it keeps the just another stereotypical hated “ex” to be treated as an enemy and subjected to bitter tone light and lifted, moving beyond the heartbreak as quickly as possible and setting scorn, or simply letting him leave and forgetting about him, they keep him in the picture. its sights on the rich comedic territory to be found in the frolics and foibles of the priviThey never let us forget that their series, ultimately, is about a relationship; it may have leged set. It’s a milieu that should come as no surprise considering that co-creator Star changed, but it still exists, and there are overlapping threads between two lives that can is the man responsible for “Sex and the City,” not to mention “Beverly Hills 90210” and never quite be untangled. That’s a decidedly un-shallow level of understanding, han“Melrose Place,” all of which banked on similar currency. Indeed, it’s easy to see Michael dled with a refreshing lack of maudlin sentiment or rancor, and it’s more than enough and his trio of compadres as natural successors to the iconic gal pals of “Sex and the proof that the show has much more going for it than just shallow characters, sexy situaCity” – more diverse and openly queer, perhaps, but recognizably kindred in spirit. tions, and soapy plot twists. Star’s co-creator brings his own pedigree into the mix, too. As an executive producer More than that, it makes us interested in seeing where things might go in season and writer on “Modern Family” (and similar duties on shows like “Frasier” and “Wings” two. before that), he doubtless has much to do with the whip-smart sitcom sensibility that 3 6 • WA SHIN GTO N BLADE.COM • JULY 29, 202 2

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Love of baseball unites father, gay son

‘Magic Season’ explores family life after a tragedy

By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER You’ve always looked up to your dad. Sometimes it happened literally, like when you were a child and “up” was the only way to see his face hovering over yours. You’ve looked up at him in anger, embarrassment, dismissal, and yeah, you’ve looked up to him in the best ways, too – never forgetting, as in the memoir “Magic Season” by Wade Rouse, that sometimes, the hardest thing is seeing eye-to-eye. Wade Rouse threw like a girl. He couldn’t catch a baseball, either, and he wasn’t much of a runner as a young boy. He tried, because his father insisted on it but Rouse was better with words and books and thoughts. He was nothing like his elder brother, Todd, who was a natural hunter, a good sportsman, and an athlete, and their father never let Rouse forget it. And yet, curiously, Rouse and his dad bonded over baseball. Specifically, their love of Cardinals baseball became the one passion they shared. The stats, the players, the idea that “Anything can happen,” the hope that there’d be a World Series at the end of every season was the glue they needed. It was what saved them when Todd was killed in a motorcycle accident. When Rouse came out to his father, Cards baseball was what brought them back together after two years of estrangement. In between games, though, and between seasons, there was yelling, cruelty, and all the times when father and son didn’t communicate. Rouse accepted, but didn’t like, his father’s alcoholism or his harsh life-lessons: his

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father didn’t like Rouse’s plans for his own future. Rouse admits that he cried a lot, and he was surprised at the rare times when his father displayed emotion – especially since an Ozarks man like Ted Rouse didn’t do things like that. Until the time was right. Love, Wade Rouse says, is “shaped like a baseball.” You catch it, throw it, or hit it out of the park, but “You don’t know where it’s going.” Just be sure you never take “your eye off it, from beginning to end.” Oh, my. “Magic Season” is a 10-hankie book. First, though, you’re going to laugh because author Wade Rouse is a natural-born humorist and his family is a great launching-pad for him despite the splinters and near-clawing despair of the overall theme of this book. That sense of humor can’t seem to let a good story go, even when it’s obvious that there’s something heartbreaking waiting in the bullpen. Which brings us to the father-son-baseball triple-play. It may seem to some readers that such a book has been done and done again, but this one feels different. Rouse excels at filling in the blanks on the other, essential teammates in this tale and, like any big skirmish, readers are left breathless, now knowing the final score until the last out. If you like your memoirs sweet, but with a dash of spice and some tears, here you go. For you, “Magic Season” is a book to look up.

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Activists from Ukraine joined annual Christopher Street Day Parade (Washington Blade photos by Michael K. Lavers)

More than 100,000 people attended the annual Christopher Street Day Parade in the German capital on Saturday. Activists from Ukraine are among those who took part.

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From foreclosure to Obama’s White House, Black gay exec talks resilience, self-love

Williams’s advice to entrepreneurs: Do the research and make it happen By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN

The road to loving himself as a Black gay man hasn’t been easy for a 38-year-old business owner who once worked as a communications expert for both the U.S. House of Representatives and former President Barack Obama. When Marcus A. Williams, the principal consultant and owner of D.C.-based MW Consulting, sat as a child around the dinner table with his family, his mother told MARCUS A. WILLIAMS is the them their house was principal consultant and owner of going to be foreclosed D.C.-based MW Consulting. (Photo by Kea Dupree-Alfred) on. Williams recalled how he admired the strength it took for her to calmly tell them where they each were going to stay until his parents figured things out. Fortunately, the phone rang with an 11th hour offer to rent a home they could move into immediately. Williams never forgot that day at the table or that lesson in resilience. “I grew up in a rough neighborhood with drug abuse and family members who were incarcerated,” Williams said. “To be able to come from that environment and go to Penn State and then start a business — I take that as a sign to my community that it is possible.” As the owner of a full-service communications and Information Technology consulting firm generating gross revenues of more than $400,000 in 2019, Williams wants to show others that they can also beat the odds. But a major problem historically for Black-owned businesses has been unequal access to capital. According to the 2018 Small Business Credit survey, large banks approved about 60 percent of loan applications from white small business owners, but only 29 percent from those identifying as Black, meaning most Black small business owners who apply for loans are turned down. This problem was exacerbated during the height of the pandemic when the Payroll Protection Program, intended to shore up small businesses through the crisis, was administered primarily through large banks that favored their preexisting clients, according to a 2020 report by the Brookings Institute. When Williams applied for a PPP loan, he was turned down without a clear reason. He was fortunate he could turn to the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), which helped him secure grants and access to other programs that helped his business survive the crisis. Cision PR Newswire reported only 2.3 percent of employer businesses in the U.S. are Black owned, and in the IT field specifically, Black and Latinx workers remain underrepresented in tech jobs by nearly 50 percent, according to Brookings 2018 data. Additionally, Black LGBTQ adults are more likely to experience economic insecurity than non-LGBTQ Black adults, according to a 2021 report from the Williams Institute. Research by the Movement Advancement Project from 2013 points to discrimination and unsafe schools as two factors

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(Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a multi-part summer series of stories taking a closer look at how a group of diverse LGBTQ entrepreneurs survived and thrived during the pandemic. The series is sponsored by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. All installments in the series are available at our website.)

contributing to the disparity. Williams told the Blade how he came to deal with these challenges to business and to his identity in his own way.

out here trying to be a role model, but I understand that the more visible you are, the more you can be an inspiration to others.”

‘I am Black first ’

NGLCC ‘helps me feel comfortable in my skin’

Williams recently returned from a trip to Ghana where he visited the former ports used during the transatlantic slave trade. The experience was a moving one for him, as well as insightful. “We have been resilient since we were first captured and brought to this country to build it,” he said, acknowledging the strength he saw in his mother and his grandparents. “Resilience is an innate survival trait for us. It is what is in our blood from our ancestors.” The experience gave him a deeper understanding of who he was and what that meant historically. He understood that for him and how he carried himself, his color was often the most visible part of him, and people made assumptions about him based on that.

“When I graduated [from Penn State], I wasn’t getting any job offers,” Williams said, adding he was excited to see friends do amazing things with their careers but wanted more for himself. He finally landed an interview with the CW network in New York in his field of broadcast journalism. His mother wanted to lend her hard-earned money to help him attend the interview, but he wasn’t certain this path was in his future. “My affluent friends were getting me interviews, but I wasn’t feeling it. So, I prayed on it,” he said. “What was my next step?” After watching a friend die from cancer at age 28, he heard one of his “guardian angels” encouraging him to go for his dreams — a path that began with researching consulting career options on the internet and eventually led him to Obama’s White House. He called this his “Janet Jackson ‘Control’ moment,” comparing the decision to take control of his future to the similar feelings the legendary pop star expressed in her breakthrough song and album. But he wants others to understand that path wasn’t easy. His business struggled financially during the pandemic crisis, and though he was reluctant to take on more debt, he applied for a PPP loan only to be rejected. He grew desperate. The NGLCC helped him access grants and programs that helped keep his business afloat, but he also had to rely on his mother to help him pay his bills – something his pride usually didn’t allow him to do, but he had to bend in order to survive. “I am Black first and I want people in the Black community to see that and absorb it,” Williams said. “I’m not an activist

Years earlier, Williams had traveled to Paris for his 30th birthday. While he was there, he had another life-changing moment, this time about his sexuality. When he bowed his head over his French onion soup to say grace, he found himself praying for the strength to be better in his 30s than he was in his 20s. “When I said to love myself more, it made me emotional and I cried for 15 minutes,” he said. “My soup got cold. They brought me a fresh one.” Some Black LGBTQ people have reported challenges with their intersectionality, which can lead to feelings of disconnection from larger communities. The Williams Institute found only 49 percent of Black LGBTQ adults felt socially connected to the larger Black community. This is in contrast to 62 percent of Black LGB adults who reported feeling connected to the larger LGBTQ community (only 29 percent of Black trans adults felt connected to their larger gender communities). These numbers indicate the difficulties Black LGBTQ people can face when navigating intersecting identities. And for Black gay business owners, this can be an additional layer to deal with on top of running a business during a crisis. Despite these challenges, Williams said during that moment of reflection in Paris, he moved to a new place of self-acceptance. But he also admitted that “one cry doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to be out and proud,” but it was a step in the right direction. Williams said each time he told others about owning a certified LGBTQ business enterprise, it was a little easier, and he became a little more proud. “The more I say ‘yes, I am LGBTQ,’ and the more I talk in focus groups about the challenges I face, the more it allows me to be more comfortable in my skin,” he said. “It’s not about if people can tell if you’re in the community, it is about your comfort in being able to say it. And that is another thing about how beautiful this process about being a business owner has been.” Williams is extremely grateful for the mentoring he has received from the NGLCC, particularly from its Community of Color initiative and from being part of the inaugural entrepreneurial cohort. He said having such initiatives shows NGLCC understands that LGBTQ business owners of color have special needs within the larger community and often need a little more help. “That understanding is a level of respect and cultural competency that I encourage others to implement,” Williams said, for a moment donning his hat as a professional strategic communications consultant. Williams’ advice to Black LGBTQ youth and others who are interested in starting a business is to do the research and make it happen, and to see failures as opportunities to develop resilience. He also advises businesses seeking long-term economic recovery to have both minority business owners and consumers at the table as part of the conversation. “Because we are resilient and we are persistent and we find solutions to even the most difficult problems — we find the light in very dark places,” he said, adding not to do so is to “leave a lot of money on the table.”

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Mortgage rates continue to drop while rent skyrockets Start living for yourself and not your landlord

There are several sayings that I keep in my “Realtor tool kit,” aside from those catty, snarky comments, I hold two true and use them on a daily basis: “Date the rate - marry the home” and “You’re paying a 100% interest rate when you rent.” It’s pretty simple. As we have seen rates fluctuate as much as some of our waistlines — mine included. Let’s look at the housing market in terms that we all know and understand: DATING! It’s important to realize that we are NOT marrying the interest rate we purchase our home with, instead we are merely dating — for however long or short it may be. Here in D.C. it’s often short; can I get an amen? But in all seriousness, we see rates come and go up and down. We were spoiled with the unsustainably low rates for the past several years below 4% and now that rates are, frankly, where they should be, we are claiming the victim role. Today is still a great time to buy. The rates we are seeing today are still historically low when you think about it. We are lucky to live in an area such as the D.C. metro where demand is always strong and a change in party means more than a recession in regards to the housing market. Rates have continued to drop in the past few weeks. Aside from the current rate that you are paying, it’s important to realize that you are marrying the house and just simply dating the rate. You can refinance your interest rate whenever you want. Trade that baby in for a new model with


Remember you can always refinance a high interest rate down the road.

a lower rate. You are, however, married to the home that you decide to purchase. If you are currently in the market and see a home that you absolutely love — or in my case is like 80% okay because we all know that you are the arm candy here and hold up the relationship — or I mean the house has a dishwasher and central AC, then buy it. You can always refinance later to a lower rate. Looking at the second saying in my bedazzled sparkling Realtor tool kit we have the saying “You’re paying a 100% interest rate when you rent,” which is for sure factual. You are paying someone else’s mortgage and as such that interest rate is 100%. Don’t get me wrong, when I first moved to D.C.

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from quaint Bethany Beach, Del., I rented as I was unsure of what neighborhood I wanted to call home. But once I got my bearings I stopped paying 100% interest and helping pad the landlord’s pockets and started living for myself, my future, and married the house. I would encourage everyone that is reading this and who is currently in a rental to speak to a mortgage broker - see what you can afford and if it makes sense for you to buy — I bet it will. In most cases, it is less expensive to buy than it is to rent in cities, including in D.C. Not only is it less expensive, but there are several grant and down payment assistance programs available to district residents to help with making homeownership a reality for you. Start living for yourself, not your landlord, and always remember to date the rate and marry the home.


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