Washington Blade, Volume 53, Issue 45, November 11, 2022

Page 1

ZACHARY PARKER brings gay representation back to D.C. Council, PAGE 06 Dems buck midterm trends; mixed results for LGBTQ candidates, PAGE 10
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Gay D.C. Council candidate Parker wins by wide margin

McDuffie leads Silverman for ‘non-Democratic’ at-large Council seat

Ward 5 D.C. Council candidate Zachary Parker, who won the Democratic primary in June in a hotly contested seven-candidate race, won election to the Ward 5 Council seat on Tuesday by a wide margin, clearing the way for him to become the first openly gay member of the Council since 2015.


As of Tuesday evening, Bonds was in first place and the presumed winner of her seat with 32.02 percent of the vote. McDuffie was in second place with 22.16 percent, ahead of Silverman, who was in third place with 18.78 percent of the vote.

Of the remaining candidates, independent Graham McLaughlin had 10.02 percent, Statehood Green Party candidate David Schwartzman had 5.15 percent, Republican Giuseppe Niosi had 4.02 percent, independent candidate Karim Marshall had 4.96 percent, and Independent Fred Hill had 2.36 precent.

Although McDuffie was ahead of Silverman by 8,925 votes, most political observers were reluctant to declare him the winner with an undetermined number of mail-in and drop box ballots yet to be counted.

The D.C. Board of Elections has yet to officially certify any of the races. Mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 8 will be allowed to be counted if they are delivered by Nov. 15 under Board of Elections rules. Board of Elections spokesperson Nicholas Jacobs said the board also had yet to count ballots placed in citywide drop boxes on election day.

The Associated Press, however, declared Bowser the winner, confirming her historic role of becoming the first woman to be elected to a third term as mayor of D.C.

With the D.C. Board of Elections saying all but some remaining mail-in and drop-box ballots had been counted at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Parker had 93.67 percent of the vote compared to his Republican challenger, Clarence Lee Jr., who had 5.57 percent of the vote.

“Although they say the Democrat usually takes it in the general election, I didn’t want to take anything for granted,” Parker told the Washington Blade at his election night victory party. “So, I ran just as hard in the general as I did in the primary, because Ward 5 deserves it,” he said.

About 150 people turned out for the Parker victory party, held at the Cotton and Reed distillery and tavern located next to Ward 5’s bustling Union Market. Those who attended and who cheered loudly as Parker delivered his victory speech reflected the diverse coalition of Ward 5 residents, including many seniors, who worked on Parker’s campaign.

“Ward 5 is a melting pot. It’s a microcosm of the city,” he told the Blade. “And it’s incumbent on me to represent all of the interests of Ward 5 residents. It’s a duty that I’m honored to have, and I look forward to the challenge.”

Parker was among nearly all the Democratic candidates, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, and the Democrats running in Wards 1, 3, and 6 who were far ahead of their challengers and expected to be declared winners.

Also winning in a decisive vote was Initiative 82, the ballot measure calling for ending the city’s tipped wage system by raising the lower minimum wage for tipped workers, currently at $5.25 per hour, to the full city minimum wage, currently at $16.10 per hour, over the five-year phase-in period.

As of Tuesday evening, the “yes” vote on Initiative 82 received 74.1 percent of the vote, with the “no” vote receiving 25.9 percent.

Several of the city’s gay bar owners and a number of LGBTQ tipped workers expressed strong opposition to the initiative, saying it would lower the earnings of tipped workers, most of whom, they say, earn far more than the city’s full minimum wage. But many of the city’s LGBTQ activists supported the initiative on grounds that all workers should receive the same full minimum wage.

The only race on the D.C. election ballot that appeared too close to call as of Tuesday evening was the race for the so-called non-Democratic at-large D.C. Council seat. Two of the city’s four at-large Council seats were up for election this year, with voters allowed to vote for two candidates. A total of eight candidates were on the ballot for the at-large seats, including incumbent Democrat Anita Bonds and incumbent independent Elissa Silverman.

Incumbent Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie, a Democrat who switched to become an independent, was also among the contenders for one of the two at-large

At around 11 p.m. Tuesday night, Bowser had 74.5 percent of the vote, far ahead of her independent rival Rodney Red Grant, who had 14.8 percent and Republican rival Stacia Hall, who had 6.01 percent of the vote. Libertarian Party candidate Dennis Sobin had 1.3 percent of the vote.

As expected, two other gay candidates on the Nov. 8 D.C. ballot fell short of wining their respective races. Gay Libertarian candidate Bruce Majors had just 2 percent of the vote as of Tuesday evening in his race for the position of D.C. delegate to the House of Representatives. Incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton, a longtime LGBTQ rights supporter, had 86.28 percent of the vote. Republican Nelson Rimensnyder had 6.05 percent and Statehood Green Party contender had 4.0 percent of the vote.

The other out gay candidate, Adrian Salsgiver, also ran as a Libertarian Party candidate for the Ward 3 D.C. Council seat. He had 1.1 percent of the vote compared to Democrat Matthew Frumin, who had 74.9 percent of the vote. Republican candidate David Krucoff had 23.58 percent of the vote.

In the D.C. Council Chair race, Mendelson had 81.8 percent of the vote compared to Statehood Green Party candidate Darryl Moch, who had 9.5 percent and Republican challenger Nate Derenge, who had 7 percent.

In the Ward 1 D.C. Council race, incumbent Democrat and longtime LGBTQ rights supporter Brianne Nadeau had 79.5 percent of the vote. Her Statehood Green Party opponent, Chris Otten, had 17.5 percent.

Ward 6 D.C. Council member Charles Allen, who ran unopposed, had 93.6 percent of the vote, with 6.38 percent going to one or more write-in candidates, according to election returns.

Also running unopposed was D.C. Attorney General candidate Brian Schwalb, a Democrat, who had 97.4 percent of the vote, with 2.59 percent going to write-ins.

Among those attending Mayor Bowser’s election night victory party was gay former D.C. Council member David Catania, who ran unsuccessfully against Bowser as an independent when she first ran for mayor 2014.

Catania, who had a Bowser for Mayor sticker on his shirt, said he and the mayor have the strongly held view that those who compete against one another in elections should join forces to support the needs of citizens after the election is over.

“The mayor and I certainly have done this,” Catania said. “After she was victorious, she reached out to me to serve on a number of commissions and to chair a board and so on and so on,” he said. “and I made a promise the night that I lost,” he said. “I made all my supporters raise their hands and promise to support her.”

Ward 5 D.C. Council candidate ZACHARY PARKER won easily on Tuesday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key) The ‘yes’ vote on Initiative 82 received 74.1 percent of the vote, with the ‘no’ vote receiving 25.9 percent. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
of Amelia Workman and Michael Urie in the 2022 New York production of Jane Anger by Valerie Terranova NOVEMBER 11, 2020 • WASHINGTONBLADE.COM • 07

Moore wins Maryland governor’s race

Brown, Lierman prevail; voters approve recreational marijuana

Democrat Wes Moore on Tuesday defeated Republican Dan Cox in the Maryland gubernatorial election.

Moore and his running mate, Aruna Miller, were ahead of Cox and his running mate, Gordana Schifanelli, by a 59.5137.1 percent margin with 2016 of 2074 Election Day pre cincts reporting results.

Moore, who spoke about his support of LGBTQ rights with the Washington Blade last month, will succeed Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in January. Moore will be Maryland’s first Black governor.

“I care deeply about the LGBTQ+ community,” Moore told the Washington Blade. “And we’re always going to fight to ensure that Maryland is a state that is open and welcome to all, regardless of who you are, regardless of who you love.”

“Congratulations to Gov.-Elect Wes Moore on his historic victory as Maryland’s first Black governor,” said North Caro lina Gov. Roy Cooper, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, in a statement. “His experience as a combat vet eran, small business owner, and CEO of one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty organizations has provided him with the

skills and knowledge to enact bold change and build a Mary land that leaves no one behind. He’ll be a champion for cre ating a thriving economy and a world-class public education system while keeping families safe.”

Biden on Tuesday called Moore to congratulate him.

Also in Maryland, Congressman Anthony Brown defeated former Republican Anne Arundel County Councilman Mi chael Peroutka in Maryland’s attorney general race.

Brown was ahead of Peroutka by a 59.88-39.97 percent margin with 2032 of 2074 Election Day precincts reporting results.

Brown has represented Maryland’s 4th congressional dis trict since 2017. Brown, who was previously Maryland’s lieu tenant governor, will succeed outgoing Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh.

State Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City) defeated Re publican Harford County Executive Barry Glassman in Mary land’s comptroller race.

The Baltimore City Democrat was ahead of her Republican challenger by a 56.85-43.03 percent margin with 2,034 of

2,074 of Election Day precincts reporting their results.

Lierman will succeed Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Voters in Maryland on Tuesday also approved the legaliza tion of recreational marijuana in the state. Question 4, which sought to amend the Maryland Constitution, passed by a 65.51-34.49 percent margin.

Maryland will join Virginia, New Jersey, California, Colora do and more than a dozen other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The nation’s capital has also legalized recreational marijuana.

Mizeur comes up short in House race

Democrat Heather Mizeur on Tuesday came up short in her bid to unseat Republican Congressman Andy Harris in Maryland’s 1st con gressional district.

Mizeur trailed Harris by a 37.4360 percent margin with 305 of 310 Election Day precincts in the district — which encompasses the entire Eastern Shore and portions of Balti more, Carroll and Harford Counties — reporting their results.

Mizeur was a former Takoma Park City Councilwoman before she served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007-2015. Mizeur ran for gov

ernor in 2014.

Mizeur, who lives on the Eastern Shore with her wife, would have been the first lesbian member of Congress from Maryland if she de feated Harris.

The former Maryland lawmaker throughout her campaign criticized Harris over his decision to dispute the 2020 presidential election re sults. Harris during a debate against Mizeur that took place last month at Cecil College in Cecil County at tacked transgender people.

“We gave Andy Harris the challenge of his lifetime in

Spanberger defeats Vega in Va.

Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger on Tuesday defeated Re publican Yesli Vega in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Spanberger was ahead of Vega by a 51.92-47.85 percent margin with 214 of 226 precincts reporting.

Comings & Goings

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the profes sional 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 suc cesses with us at: comingsandgoings@washblade.com.

Congratulations to Dan Chevez on his new position as Fi nancial Analyst at the Pediatric Hematology Division of Johns Hopkins Medicine. He will be overseeing the 340B Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) program. Prior to this he was a Financial Analyst in the Johns Hopkins University, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Office of the Dean. He has also worked as a Rela tionship Manager (SAFE registered) at Wells Fargo Bank N.A. in

this race,” Mizeur told her supporters at the Farmhouse on Kent Island.

Harris on Tuesday watched the election results come in at a Salisbury restaurant.

“It is an incredible honor and privilege to once again be chosen by the people of the 1st Congressional District to serve as their voice in Congress,” said Harris in a state ment. “As the son of immigrants who fled communism, I am reassured by the results — that despite the harmful last two years, the American dream is still alive and well. I look forward to our efforts in the Republican majority to cut spending, reduce inflation, rein in our Southern border, restore law and order, and serve as a check on the rogue and out-of-touch Biden administration.”

Baltimore, and in the same role at Bank of America, in Baltimore. He worked in a part-time position as a research assistant with the National Academy of Education, in Washington, D.C. Chevez is a former Media and Public Relations Fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force, and said, “I still volunteer every year to be a house captain for the Creating Change Conference.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concen tration in social stratification and inequality from the University of Maryland, College Park, and anticipates completion in May 2023 of his master’s degree in liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University.

WES MOORE (Photo courtesy of Moore campaign) HEATHER MIZEUR (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers) U.S. Rep. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (Photo public domain) DAN CHEVEZ

Focus shifts to lame duck session after likely GOP takeover of House Advocates hope to advance marriage bill in Senate

With Republicans expected to wrest control of the U.S. House after the midterms, LGBTQ advocates are turning their focus toward priorities for the lame duck session before the next Congress is seated – while bracing for a hostile legislative environment next year. (Visit washing tonblade.com for updated election results.)

In the near term, a Republican majority in the House will put pressure on Senate Democrats to bring a floor vote to codify protections for same-sex marriage before the year’s end.

The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) this summer, which would require the federal government to recognize preexisting marriages between same-sex couples – a safeguard to gird against some of the conse quences that would result if the conservative U.S. Supreme Court reverses or substantially weakens its landmark mar riage equality ruling.

“All eyes are on the RFMA,” said Albert Fujii, press secre tary for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to elect prochoice LGBTQ candidates. Clearing the 60-vote threshold in the upper chamber during this legislative session is reasonably likely given that a key number of Republican senators may support the bill because they are slated to retire or lose their reelection bids, Fujii told the Washing ton Blade on Tuesday.

Should Republicans secure a majority in the House, Mi nority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) is expected to become Speaker, a position for which he is backed by for

mer President Donald Trump.

The Bakersfield congressman said that if his party takes the House, they will reinstate extremist anti-LGBTQ Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) right to serve on commit tees in the chamber. Greene was stripped of her commit tee assignments last year following revelations that she spread conspiracy theories and endorsed violence against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) on social media.

A Republican majority in the House would also mean greater chances of success for anti-LGBTQ legislation that has already been introduced, such as a federal version of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education (“Don’t Say Gay”) bill and Greene’s measure to criminalize healthcare providers who offer medically necessary care for transgender mi nors, Fujii said.

“With McCarthy as speaker, those bills have a greater chance of moving forward,” with members voting them out of committees and calling for floor votes, Fujii said.

Republicans only needed a net gain of five House seats in the midterms to win a majority. FiveThirtyEight, a site that aggregates and analyzes polling data, estimated that 10 Republican candidates faced odds of 90% or greater to pick up new seats.

Some of those represent districts that were redrawn to include more GOP voters, while others – in Colorado, Flor ida, Montana, and Texas – represent newly created districts that were expected to go red.

According to FiveThirtyEight, there were 19 House seats

not currently occupied by Republican members that Re publican candidates were favored to win, while Democrats were expected to flip only as many as five red seats.

Progressive groups celebrate LGBTQ midterm wins

Progressive LGBTQ groups celebrated the pro-equality LGBTQ candidates running in key midterm races across the country on Tuesday, several of whom claimed victory as Election Day stretched into the night.

Becca Balint and Maura Healey were among the first can didates whose races were called, both becoming the first women and the first LGBTQ people elected to, respective ly, represent Vermont in Congress and serve as governor of Massachusetts.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports pro-choice LGBTQ candidates, toasted the candidates’ success “shat tering lavender and glass ceilings.”

“The future of LGBTQ equality and women’s rights were on the ballot — and Vermonters delivered tonight,” Victory Fund President Mayor Annise Parker said in a press release on Balint’s win. “For nearly a decade, Becca led efforts to pass meaningful legislation to increase fairness and equity within Vermont. Now, she is ready to do the same in Con gress.”

In a press release announcing Healey’s victory, Parker said, “In the face of so much hate and intolerance sweep ing our nation, her win is a sign — especially to LGBTQ kids in desperate need of hope — that LGBTQ people have a place in American society and can become respected pub lic leaders.”

LPAC, a group that supports women and nonbinary LGBTQ candidates running for public office, also published press releases celebrating Healey and Balint on Tuesday af ternoon.

Just before midnight, the Victory Fund called Robert Garcia’s victory for California’s 42nd Congressional District. Garcia will be the first openly gay immigrant elected to Congress.

“We are confident Robert’s deep policy experience and

ability to build strong, diverse coalitions will make him an ex ceptional legisla tor,” Parker said.

“His win tonight will inspire count less other LGBTQ and first-gener ation Americans to pursue careers in public service.”

Democrat and LGBTQ ally Wes Moore also made his tory on Tuesday, becoming Maryland’s first Black gover nor-elect in his race against Donald Trump-backed far-right candidate Dan Cox, while gay Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) won their reelection bids.

Democrat and LGBTQ ally Maxwell Alejandro Frost, 25, became the first Generation Z candidate to win a congres sional seat, where he will represent Florida’s 10th Congres sional District in the House.

Per pool reports, by 11:30 p.m., President Joe Biden made congratulatory calls to Healey; Polis; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); U.S. Sens. Tammy Duck worth (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.); Demo cratic Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee; Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker; Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills; U.S. Sens. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.); U.S. Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), D.C. Mayor Mu riel Bowser), U.S. Sen.-elects Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Seth

Magaziner (D-R.I.), and Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Josh Sha piro.

Meanwhile, Tina Kotek is locked in a close race for Ore gon’s governorship whose outcome may not be clear until later this week. If elected, she would join Healey as the na tion’s first openly lesbian governor.

And the fates of LGBTQ candidates in closer races for seats in the lower chamber are still unclear. These include U.S. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), who are running for reelection, along with Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Will Rollins, who are competing for House seats in Oregon and California, respectively. Malo ney, the DCCC chief, trailed Mike Lawler as of Wednesday morning and is expected to lose his bid for re-election.

Heather Mizeur, who would have been Maryland’s first openly lesbian member of Congress, conceded her defeat Tuesday evening to incumbent Republican Maryland Con gressman Andy Harris.

A historic number of LGBTQ candidates ran for elected office this year, advocacy groups said. The Victory Fund en dorsed 411 people in races in 49 states, D.C., Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, also touted the diverse pool of candidates in the midterms, citing the record numbers of transgender and gender nonconforming people who ran this year. The organization also noted that the electorate is composed of more LGBTQ voters than ever before.

“We will continue to stand and fight every day alongside our allies and partners across the country, in support of a pro-democracy, pro-equality, and pro-choice future,” Inter im HRC President Joni Madison said in a press release from the organization.

Sen. TAMMY BALDWIN is looking for 10 Republican votes for a marriage bill in the Senate. (Photo by Chris Schmitt Photography) MAURA HEALEY won her race for Massachusetts governor. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
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Trevor Project CEO removed after ‘workplace well-being’ concerns

The board of directors of the Trevor Project, which de scribes itself as the world’s largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for LGBTQ young people, has “elected to make a change in leadership” by removing from office it’s chief executive officer and executive di rector since 2017, Amit Paley, according to a statement released to the Washington Blade.

The Blade reached out to Trevor Project for comment after the publication Teen Vogue broke the news about Paley’s dismissal in a Nov. 4 story. The story cited an un identified source familiar with the organization as saying the dismissal was brought about following “staff dissatis faction, particularly as it relates to the organization’s quick large-scale growth and the burden it put on employees.”

In its statement to the Blade, which is identical to the one it sent to Teen Vogue, Trevor Project says in recent years it has struggled to provide its services for LGBTQ youth at risk for suicide in the midst of a hostile political climate in which LGBTQ youth and their families are un der attack.

“The Trevor Project is currently facing a period of tran sition, rethinking how to sustainably grow our 24/7 crisis services to respond to the public health crisis of LGBTQ youth suicide and address the mental health disparities impacting these youth,” the statement says.

“In 2017, the organization averaged less than 200 inbound crisis contacts per day; in 2022, it’s averaging more than 2,000 crisis contacts per day,” the statement continues.

“This intense climate has led to significant stress on our organization, and many members of our staff have raised concerns about workplace well-being, profes sional development, prioritization performance metrics and resourcing compensation — particularly as they im pact our BIPOC [Black, indigenous and people of color], transgender, nonbinary and disabled team members,” the statement says.

“While a comprehensive, independent review of the Trevor Project is being conducted, the board of directors elected to make a change in leadership,” it says, while making no specific mention that it dismissed Paley.

In response to a request by the Blade for comment, Paley arranged for a communications firm representing him to send the Blade the same statement he released

to Teen Vogue.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to lead the Trevor Project’s life-saving team for over five years,” Paley’s state ment says.

It points out that under his tenure, the organization expanded its services by launching a “24/7 digital crisis service, created a ground-breaking research department, expanded the world’s largest campaign to end conver sion therapy and grew our team from 50 employees to

familiar with the Trevor Project said at some point prior to Paley’s removal, more than 200 employees signed a letter to the board expressing dissatisfaction with Paley’s leadership.

An earlier article by Teen Vogue published on July 25 reports that some staff members at that time were call ing on Paley to resign after news surfaced that he worked prior to joining the Trevor Project for the corporate con sulting firm McKinsey and Co. helping the pharmaceuti cal company Purdue Pharma increase its sales of opioid drugs.

With many LGBTQ youth, along with other young people, dying from the overdose of opioid drugs across the country, some of the Trevor Project staffers thought it was hypocritical for Paley to join the Trevor Project as CEO shortly after promoting the sale of opioids, the Teen Vogue article reports.

The article reports Paley sent an email to the staff after news about his links to opioid sales surfaced, stating, “If I knew then what I know now, I would not have agreed to do any consulting work for [Purdue] and I regret that I did.”

At the time Paley became Trevor Project’s CEO in 2017 and during his first few years there, Trevor Project had of fices in West Hollywood, Calif., and New York City, with a smaller office in D.C. But according to spokesperson Tali Mackay, currently, “the Trevor Project is fully remote, and we do not have physical offices.”

over 500.”

The statement, which makes no mention of the report ed concerns raised by employees, concludes by saying, “the Trevor Project’s vital work is needed now more than ever, and I will always remain deeply committed to the organization’s vision of a world where all LGBTQ young people see a bright future for themselves.”

The Trevor Project ’s statement, meanwhile, says un til a permanent CEO is identified, Peggy Rajski, one of Trevor Project’s founders and longtime board member, will serve as interim CEO. It says Gina Muñoz, the board’s chair emeritus, will serve as special assistant to the inter im CEO.

Teen Vogue reports in its Nov. 4 story that two sources

One former employee who spoke to the Blade on con dition of not being identified said most concerns raised by staff members about Paley were not because he want ed to expand the Trevor Project’s programs to meet the needs of a growing number of clients.

The main concern, the former staffer said, was his per ceived inability or unwillingness to address the needs of the staff, including transgender staff members who felt their specific needs weren’t being met.

“It’s hard to make that kind of growth,” the former staff er said. “And I think he had a vision, but that vision had to turn inward more than outward sometimes.”

Both Paley and the Trevor Project officials declined to comment further than what they said in the statements they released, their respective spokespersons said.

DeSantis crushes Crist in Florida guv race

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday de feated Democrat Charlie Crist in the state’s gubernatorial election.

DeSantis as of 8:12 p.m. ET was ahead of Crist by a 57.541.9 percent margin with 74 percent of the total number of votes counted.

DeSantis, who signed Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law earli er this year, narrowly defeated Democrat Andrew Gilliam in 2018. DeSantis, who is a former congressman, is expected to run for president in 2024.

AMIT PALEY (Screen capture via HRC YouTube) Florida Gov. RON DESANTIS was easily re-elected on Tuesday. (YouTube screenshot)

D.C. selected to host WorldPride 2025

InterPride, a global organization representing more than 400 Pride organizations in at least 70 countries, announced last week that it has selected D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance to host WorldPride 2025 in D.C.

The international Pride event, which is usually held every two years, draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

Capital Pride Alliance submitted a bid to host World Pride 2025 in September 2021 but lost the bid to an LGBTQ organization in Taiwan that proposed holding the event in the Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung.

But in a surprise development, the Taiwanese group Kaohsiung Pride announced in August of this year that it withdrew its bid and abruptly cancelled its plans for hosting the event in Taiwan.

That immediately raised the question of whether In terPride would reopen the bidding process or select D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance, which was the runner up group in the 2021 bidding.

In its announcement late last week, InterPride said the question of what to do about WorldPride 2025 was discussed at great length at its Annual General Meeting and World Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, held Oct. 27-30.

“The membership was asked to decide whether the event should not take place in 2025, or if it should be awarded to the first runner-up, the Capital Pride Alliance (CPA) from Washington, D.C., U.S.A.,” the InterPride an nouncement says.

“Seventy-four percent (74 percent) of the membership voted to award WorldPride 2025 to CPA, while 19 per cent voted not to hold World Pride in 2025 and 7 percent abstained,” according to the announcement.

“The Capital Pride Alliance is thrilled and honored to have been awarded the privilege of hosting World Pride 2025,” Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos said in a statement. “We thank InterPride for this wonder ful opportunity to share the best of the Washington re

gion with our friends from around the globe and to have them participate with us on the 50th anniversary of Pride in D.C.,” Bos said.

In a separate statement, InterPride Co-Presidents Linda DeMarco and Hadi Damien congratulated Capital Pride Alliance for being named host of WorldPride 2025.

“We are glad the Capital Pride Alliance was still willing to host WorldPride 2025, and we welcome the vote of confidence the membership put in them,” the two said. “We all trust the Capital Pride Alliance has what it takes to deliver a robust WorldPride.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who expressed strong support for the Capital Pride Alliance’s 2021 bid to host WorldPride, told the Washington Blade in a statement on Thursday that she looks forward to WorldPride being held in D.C.

“Pride in D.C. is a manifestation of our DC values — an opportunity for people to celebrate themselves & the di versity of our community,” the mayor said. “What better

way to celebrate 50 years of Pride in D.C. than with the largest LGBTQ+ event in the world. See you at the pride of our lifetime in 2025.”

In its statement announcing D.C. had been selected to host WorldPride 2025, InterPride also announced a WorldPride would be held in 2026 and its members voted by a margin of 59 percent to 37 percent to select Amsterdam in the Netherlands over Orlando, Fla., to be the host city. The announcement says the two com peting groups were Pride Amsterdam and Come Out with Pride of Orlando.

An official with Pride Amsterdam says in the state ment that, among its activities planned for WorldPride 2026, will be a commemoration honoring the victims of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, in which 49 mostly LGBTQ people were shot and killed by a lone gunman who targeted the gay nightclub. Po lice shot and killed the gunman.

Bos has said that among the events planned for WorldPride 2025 will be a celebration of the 50th an niversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

In a statement released on Friday, Capital Pride Alli ance says the proposed dates for WorldPride 2025 are May 22 through June 8.

“WorldPride DC 2025 will feature a vibrant and innova tive slate of cultural programs that highlight the best that Washington, D.C. has to offer,” the statement says. “It will include a human rights conference, in partnership with the 34th annual D.C. Black Pride,” it says.

“We would like to thank the members of our team who put in countless hours to advocate on behalf of Wash ington, D.C., in addition to our many local and national LGBTQ+ organizations, local businesses, government agencies, and our corporate advocates who provided support for the bid,” said Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance board of directors.

NYC LGBTQ historic sites project receives ‘excellence’ award

The National Trust for Historic Development has cho sen the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project as the recipient of its Trustees Award for Organization Excel lence.

The LGBT Historic Sites Project is one of nine historic preservation-related organizations that were recognized with awards at a Nov. 4 virtual ceremony that was avail able to the public.

“The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a nationally rec ognized and influential cultural heritage initiative and ed ucational resource that identifies and documents diverse extant LGBT sites from the 17th century to 2000,” the an nouncement says.

“The only permanent organization of its kind in the U.S., the project staff have created an interactive website, National Register nominations, publicans and programs and school educational materials, among other resourc es,” the announcement continues.

‘Sitting at the intersection of historic preservation and social justice, the organization has been particularly ea ger to document LGBT sites associated with women and Black, Asian, Latinx, trans and gender-variant communi ties,” according to the announcement. “In the near future, they hope to prioritize local sites of LGBT history associat

ed with Indigenous and Two-Spirit peoples,” it says.

In its announcement, the Na tional Trust for Historic Preserva tion says its National Preservation Awards ceremony is held each year during its annual PastForward Con ference, which was held virtually on Nov. 4.

“Each year at the PastForward Conference we come together to recognize those making a real dif ference in historic preservation,” said Paul Edmondson, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This year’s re cipients embody not just the pres ervation of American History, but also demonstrate how preserving historic places can play a key role in addressing critical issues of today, including climate change, equality and housing,” Edmondson said.

D.C. will host WorldPride 2025. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key) The Stonewall Inn during New York City Pride (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Rep. Maloney, DCCC chair, loses re-election bid in New York

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Ny.) conceded defeat Wednesday morning, a surprising turn of events for the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Com mittee (DCCC) as the party more broadly managed to avoid a “red wave” of Republican victories in the midterm elections.

The candidates are reportedly only 3,000 votes apart in the race for New York’s 17th Congressional District. Ma loney’s Republican challenger Mike Lawler, who serves in the New York State Assembly and was previously chair of the state’s Republican Party, told supporters it was prema ture to declare victory.

“We’ll have to wait a little bit longer for the voters of this district to serve Sean Patrick Maloney the best dish of Chef Boyardee, and I can promise you, it will be served cold,” he said.

The comment referred to Maloney’s advice to families struggling with high costs amid record inflation. “Well, I grew up in a family where if the gas price went up, the

food price went down, so by this time of the week we’d be eating Chef Boyardee if that budget wasn’t gonna

change,” Maloney said during an interview that drew backlash from critics.

Maloney, who in 2012 became the first openly gay member of Congress to represent New York, has served on the U.S. House’s Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on Agriculture, and the Committee on Trans portation and Infrastructure. He also co-chairs the Con gressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus.

Maloney joined Congress before members’ benefits were extended to their same-sex partners, telling The New York Times, “They would be explaining what your benefits were, then all of a sudden this embarrassed look would flash across their face like, ‘Oh, sorry. I guess this doesn’t apply to you.’”

Last year, he became the first openly gay chair of the House Democrats’ campaign committee, which is the sixth highest-ranking Democratic position in the cham ber.

Russia transferring Brittney Griner to penal colony

Lawyers for WNBA star Brittney Griner on Wednesday said Russian authorities are transferring her to a penal colony.

Officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in Feb ruary detained Griner — a Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medalist who is a lesbian and married to her wife, Cherelle Griner — after customs in spectors allegedly found hashish oil in her luggage. The State Department has determined that Russia “wrongfully detained” her.

A Russian court on Aug. 4 convicted Brittney Griner of smuggling drugs into the country and sentenced her to nine years in a penal colony. An appellate court on Oct. 25 denied Brittney Griner’s appeal.

The Washington Post reported lawyers currently don’t know where Brittney Griner is.

American officials have publicly acknowledged their willingness to release Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S., as part of a deal to secure the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, another American citizen who is serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia after his conviction for spying.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday acknowledged the U.S. has “made a signifi cant offer to the Russians to resolve the current unaccept able and wrongful detentions of American citizens.”

“In the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. government has

continued to follow up on that offer and pro pose alternative potential ways forward with the Russians through all available channels,” said Jean-Pierre. “The U.S. government is unwavering in its commitment to its work on behalf of Brittney and other Americans de tained in Russia — including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan.”

“Every minute that Brittney Griner must en dure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” she added. “As the administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her re lease, the president has directed the admin istration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal col ony.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his own statement echoed Jean-Pierre.

“Following a sham trial and the unjust sentencing of Brittney Griner, Moscow is transferring her from a prison in Moscow to a remote penal colony,” said Blinken. “It is another injustice layered on her ongoing unjust and wrongful detention.”

“As we work to secure Brittney Griner’s release, we ex pect Russian authorities to provide our embassy officials with regular access to all U.S. citizens detained in Russia, including Brittney, as is their obligation. Ensuring the health and welfare of U.S. citizen detainees in Russia is a

priority, and we will continue to press for fair and trans parent treatment for them all,” he added. “Our hearts are with Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, as well as their family, friends, and supporters, who all continue to suffer from Russia’s decision to wrongfully detain U.S. citizens. We continue to work relentlessly to bring them home. I am focused on doing so, as are so many others in the department. We will not relent until they are reunited with their loved ones.”

Bisexual singer Aaron Carter found dead

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide in vestigators are continuing their investigation into the cir cumstances surrounding the death of singer-rapper Aar on Carter, 34, who was found unresponsive in his home.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies and EMS from L.A. County Fire Department’s Fire station 129, respond ed to the Carter residence at 42502 Valley Vista Drive Sat urday morning at approximately 11:00 a.m.

According to LASD spokesperson Deputy Alejandra Parra, the person making the 911 call, later identified as the house sitter, stated “she found a male unresponsive

in the bath tub.” She was advised by the dispatcher to begin cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) prior to the deputies arrival.

Shortly after the deputies arrived, LACD Fire depart ment EMS personnel arrived and pronounced the male (Carter) deceased at the scene. Representatives for Car ter’s family confirmed the singer’s death but did not pro vide any immediate further comment.

“We are still in the process of accepting this unfortu nate reality,” Carter’s fiancé, Melanie Martin said in a state ment Saturday afternoon. “Your thoughts and prayers are

greatly appreciated.”

The singer’s publicist released a statement noting: “The family has been notified and will be flying out to Los Angeles. Aaron worked very hard towards the end of his life in recovery, to be a good father and to make amends with his family.”

The singer-rapper rose to fame as an adolescent star singing and acting. Carter, the younger brother of the Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter was an actor in film and tele vision shows like “Lizzie McGuire” and “7th Heaven.”

U.S. Rep. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-Ny.) (Blade photo by Michael Key) A tribute to BRITTNEY GRINER in D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Jordan James Gipple, age 56 of Rehoboth Beach, DE passed away at home on Saturday, October 29, 2022. He was born on August 12, 1966, in Washington, DC, son of the late James and Patricia (Burke) Gipple.

Jordan grew up in the metro DC area and continued to live and work there as a chef and restaurant manager. These experiences led him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park from which he graduated in 1987. Jordan was an exceptionally talented chef, salesman and event organizer, planning everything from Presidential Inaugural Ball dinners to fetes for Princess Diana. For most people, that would’ve been enough. But Jordan loved growth and challenges. He went back to school at George Mason University and finished with a BS in information systems in 2001. From there, he built a career as an IT project manager for Verizon, and more recently, the Grant Street Group out of Pittsburgh, PA. He was a self-proclaimed technology geek who also loved to connect with people and was as comfortable writing software as he was in the kitchen cooking amazing food for his friends and family.

Jordan met the love of his life, Paul Weppner, 26 years ago. They were joyously married on September 6, 2014, which Jordan described as the best day of his life. Paul’s large extended and loving family enveloped Jordan and brought him great happiness. Rehoboth became their primary residence in 2014, and that’s where they enjoyed an extensive network of family and friends. Jordan reveled in traveling with Paul, friends and family. He liked to stay active and social with fitness classes, skiing, snowboarding, and scuba diving. He could often be found relaxing on the beach, cooking, and doing home projects around the house. But Jordan was also a dedicated volunteer for AA and CAMP Rehoboth. He was passionate about both these organizations, and happily devoted much of his time and effort to them.

Above all, time spent with those he held dear was what he cherished most. Jordan loved his family. His youth and energy endeared him to his nieces and nephews. Their memories of beach vacations with Uncle Jordan and Uncle Paul are treasured. Jordan was a loving husband, brother, uncle, and friend. Loved by many, he will be deeply missed by all who had the good fortune to know him.

Jordan is survived by his beloved husband, Paul Weppner; his brothers: E.G. Gipple (Karin) of Annapolis, MD; and Jesse Gipple of West Virginia; his sister, Jean Gipple (Doug Oliver) of Oregon; his mother-in-law, Winnifred Weppner of Frankford, DE; his sisters-in-law: Rebecca Moore (Layton) of Ocean City, MD; and Rachel Baker (David) of Lutherville, MD; his brother-in-law, Chris Weppner of Idaho; his adoring nieces and nephews: Shane, Jimi (Kim), Chris, Jenna (Pat); his loving dog, Henry; and numerous cousins and dear friends.

Final care for Jordan has been entrusted to Parsell Funeral Homes and Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, Lewes, DE.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Jordan's memory to CAMP Rehoboth at https://www.camprehoboth.com/. Please visit Jordan’s Life Memorial Webpage and sign his virtual guestbook at www.parsellfuneralhomes.com.

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Racist puppet act shows white gay men commodifying Black bodies

Leather bar Touché, located in Rogers Park in Chicago, is under fire after allowing Jerry Halliday, a white puppeteer, to perform a transphobic and racist act with a Black puppet named “Sista Girl” during Touché’s 45th anniversary party.

Halliday’s distasteful 45-minute set trafficked in racial stereotypes and mocked Black women and Black vernacular.

At one point, “Sista Girl” asks the predominantly white audience, “fellas you wanna know the quickest way to get a man’s attention? Just go in the back of the room and go yeahhhh.” Halliday then lifts Sista Girl’s skirt and exposes her private area, which he calls an “afro puff” and likens to a “Brillo pad” to “do my pots and pans” and “whistle while I work, lawd.”

This harmful scene employs the Jezebel stereotype, which hypersexualizes Black women and dates back to slavery. The Jezebel stereotype is one of three pernicious sexist stereotypes that play into racist tropes about Black women’s sexuality. Labeling a Black woman a “Jezebel” has been used to rationalize the sexual exploitation and rape of Black women.

This performance is a reminder of how the white LGBTQ community participates in colonizing and commodifying Black bodies within capitalism.

When an audience member pushes back, heckling Halliday to verbalize how racist his act is, Halliday responds in a blaccent and threatens to “cut” the noisy audience member. As another audience member chimes in to add how weird the act is, Halliday drowns out their dissent by directing the audience members that want him to finish the act to clap.

The room is quickly engulfed in claps and boos as the two audience members leave the bar.

In that moment, the audience — mostly gay white men — does not see the bridges of allyship burning or hear the call to form a bucket brigade to douse the sparks of racism before it consumes them. They are mesmerized by the laughter floating through intoxicated air, forgetting the Black and Brown women who sacrificed their bodies on the front lines of history and held the bricks of the foundation the audience now stands on, free to mock those who gave them this right.

Even after some patrons left and bartender Cris Bleaux quit on the spot, the continued support of Halliday and Touché in this performance is a slap in the face for the Black LGBTQ community and a clear declaration that Black people and Black queerness are not welcome at Touché.

Besides Halliday’s inability to understand and recognize how his performance of Blackness — as he puts it, he is “a Black woman trapped in a white’s man body”— is harmful, the bigger issue is those audience members who wanted the performance to continue. Under the cover of a spotlight and the word “comedy,” few questioned the entitlement in assuming that Black bodies should be used and displayed for their entertainment.

Halliday’s performance and Touché’s complicity in platforming racism, transphobia, anti-Blackness, and misogynoir is a reminder to Black LGBTQ folks that many spaces aren’t safe or built for us.

In the aftermath, apologies for being complicit in racism in 2022 are exhausting and predictable. The apologies only come after the anger has risen to a boil and the lid on the pot starts to loudly clank against the rim. Yet the continued platforming of minstrelsy leaves marginalized communities dancing to the same Jim-Crow tune, questioning why the LGBTQ community still lacks accountability in the entertainment scene.

And the “sorry we got caught” apology Touché posted after videos of Halliday’s act began to go viral is disingenuous. In its apology, Touché claims it did not properly vet Halliday and his performance. Yet an advertisement for the event, which Touché manager David Roche wrote, touted the venue’s longstanding ties to Halliday: “to salute our early days on Lincoln Avenue, we just had to bring the talented puppeteer Jerry Halliday back.”

Touché’s management had plenty of chances to stop the performance. Instead, Touché sat back and profited while Halliday raked in cash tips from the audience “for Sista Girl and her five children.” Let’s be clear, Touché: Black women, Black people, and Black culture are not here for your entertainment.

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James was just 16 when Mom and Dad found out he was gay. Faced with the choice of accepting his orientation, they chose not to and forced him to leave. They couldn’t tolerate his “lifestyle choice.” In the small rural town in Georgia where he lived, he became an outcast with no support system. He ended up on the streets of Atlanta, where he eventually found his chosen family, which embraced him and fulfilled his need for support, comfort, and kinship.

James’s story is hardly unique. Roughly 40% of queer adults have faced rejection from their biological families. As for homeless youth, more than 40% are LGBTQ. What happens to these queer individuals once the safety net from parents, other family members and colleagues is yanked away?

Chosen families in the queer community are a lifeline, all about belonging and filling the void left by biological families. Chosen families are inclusive. Rather than shutting people out, they provide joy, security, and protection.

A new project — The Chosen Family Project — seeks to explore this little-understood but essential part of the LGBTQ story, the idea of the chosen or “found” family.

The Chosen Family Project was born out of months of discussion in 2020 among the initial three founders, Steve Rossetti, Steven Drew Auerbach and Bruce Purdy, all gay men living in Palm Springs, Calif. These founders wanted to support the gay community through an online platform that assists gay men through the coming out process. After exploring the existing literature and organizations, they discovered there was very little about what happens after coming out. The original idea evolved into a focus on the chosen, created family.

The Chosen Family Project’s mission is to celebrate, honor, and give voice to the diverse, loving, and joyful people we in the LGBTQ community call “family.” Through books, interviews and documentary films, The Chosen Family Project will redefine the notion of the traditional nuclear family. It will share stories from people of various age groups and regions of our country about how they found, created and nurtured their chosen family. The Project will shine a light on the many forms and combinations of these families.

Through stories, testimonials, photographs, re-imagined iconic images and select family recipes, the Project will provide a new lens for understanding the concept of family. The chosen family becomes a refuge and a source of unconditional love from the people we support and who support us.

In this way, The Chosen Family Project hopes to change the prevailing narrative that has labeled LGBTQ families as different, though in reality they are more alike than different.

These powerful stories are a part of the LGBTQ history and culture, not to be forgotten. Our goal is to highlight and counteract the long-standing adversity that the LGBTQ community has faced (and continues to face), based on whom they love. We aim to inspire compassion and community rather than divisiveness.

Revenue from The Chosen Family Project will support LGBTQ foundations and individuals that assist those moving from traumatic family circumstances toward the triumph of living authentically with the family they choose.

For more information, contact TheChosenFamilyProject2023@gmail.com

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KENT & DIEGO have been together for 20 years, married for over a decade, and are raising two beautiful children together. They are featured in an ad produced by GLAAD and Family Equality now running nationwide.

We need all who support us to speak up

Married gay fathers fight to save marriage equality

When we met 20 years ago, neither of us could have imagined the life we now share. We have been inseparable ever since and are happily — and legally — married, with two exceptional children. Our relationship is rooted in love, respect and commitment and is more resilient because of hard-won gains and painful losses.

LGBTQ couples and our marriages have the support of an overwhelming majority of Americans. Now we are speaking out in a new campaign to encourage all who support us to speak up.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, tossing out rights Americans have had for almost 50 years, we immediately saw the threat. Our rights will likely be the next to go, as laid out in the concurring opinion urging the court to reconsider Obergefell. The U.S. Senate then delayed a vote on codifying marriage equality until after the election. Our rights as a family are in the hands of judges and voters, a reality most couples never have to face.

But our love story is as extraordinary and ordinary as any other. We serendipitously met while sitting one in front of the other at a concert in 2002. We got engaged three years later on Christmas Eve 2005, with a “down-on-one-knee” proposal, and a scavenger hunt leading to two silver rings hung from a crystal cross tree ornament. We began our shared journey toward becoming a family after popping the question: Would you do me the honor of spending the rest of your life with me? The crystal cross is the final ornament we place on our Christmas tree each year with our children.

We had a quintessential chapel wedding in December 2007. Our parents walked us down the aisle, and our sisters and two best friends stood with us to witness our commitment, surrounded by family and close friends. Our wedding was not yet a legal marriage but it had every element of meaning important to any couple.

In 2011, we expanded our family through adoption. Despite the birth family choosing us as a couple, our state of residence considered us nothing more than roommates. One of us became our son’s legal adoptive parent, while the state relegated the other to the status of “other adult in the household.”

The fear and anxiety we faced as a committed couple, living in a state without marriage equality, led us to travel to Washington, D.C., in 2012 to make our marriage legal. After many conversations with each other and family, we decided to relocate to a state with marriage rights in 2014 — a choice we realize not all families can make. We started over with a young child, a new home and employment and no family and friends support system.

We worked with a local attorney to secure legal recognition for the non-adoptive parent, a process that involved legal fees, paperwork, and patience. We also amended our son’s birth certificate to include us both as his parents. In 2015, we expanded our family again when we welcomed our second child, whom we could adopt jointly as a married couple.

We felt secure returning to raise our sons near family in 2015, following the Obergefell ruling. It seems ancient history to think of all the steps we had to take to get the same legal recognition and protections as any other couples and parents. Since Obergefell, families of all shapes and sizes have been increasingly accepted and welcomed in communities.

Still, there is no doubt the court can take marriage rights away and will try. The risk to our family and all LGBTQ families is crystal clear and deeply troubling. For us, if the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, a dormant constitutional amendment banning the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in our current state of residence would immediately invalidate the legal recognition of our marriage.

We got married because we love each other and we want to be there for each other. Our marriage helps protect our kids and us. We never want to worry about one of us not being allowed in a hospital room, being eligible for survivor benefits, or, God forbid, having our kids not seen as part of our family. All families deserve love and protection.

Equality for all families should not be a partisan issue. LGBTQ families already have the support of people from all parties. By sharing our story, we want to alert every LGBTQ and ally American to take action to protect our family and our marriage. It’s time for politicians to catch up.

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Riding the joy train with Amy Ray New solo project

Whether out singer/songwriter Amy Ray is performing with longtime musical partner Emily Saliers as one half of the Indigo Girls, as she has since the mid-1980s, or going solo as she did with her solo debut “Stag” in 2001, you recognize her instantly. Her distinctive vocal style, which suits whatever genre she’s performing – folk, punk, Americana, or gospel – has become as much her trademark as the outspokenness of her lyrics.

“If It All Goes South” (Daemon), Ray’s exceptional seventh solo album is a welcome addition to her singular output, touching on themes of queerness and social issues, all performed in her warm and welcoming manner. Amy was gracious enough to make time to talk about the new album around the time of its release.

BLADE: Before we get to your new album “If It All Goes South,” I wanted to go back in time a little bit. Your 2001 solo debut album “Stag” and its 2005 follow-up “Prom” are firmly rooted in a punk rock/riot grrrl aesthetic. While the Indigo Girls are more than capable of rocking out, did you feel that the songs on those albums wouldn’t have been a good fit for what you do with Emily (Saliers)?

AMY RAY: Yes. I think it was because of two things. One was the collaborators. Those were people I’m a fan of, most of them are people that Daemon Records (Ray’s record label) had an association with, in some way or another. It was kind of like this other camp of people that were different from the collaborators that the Indigos would typically play with. It tended to be more studio accurate, in some ways. As opposed to that punk rock ethic which is music being from a different place, and accuracy maybe being less important than technical prowess.

BLADE: A little more DIY.

RAY: Yeah! And I also think the subject matter, the songs were just a little more singular in a way that was hard to do them as the Indigo Girls and not dilute the message. As soon as you get us together, we really shift the other person’s song, it becomes a duet. The subject matter to me was so specific and gender queer and punk rock edge that it didn’t feel like it would work. At that time, when I wrote (the song) “Lucy Stoners,” Emily wasn’t interested in doing some of those songs. She wasn’t down with the attitude. Now, she would say, I’m sure just knowing her, that [laughs] she’d do it now. Because her attitude has changed. I was hanging out with and influenced by people that were from that DIY movement, and there was lots of gender queer conversation. It was a different place than Emily was in as a gay person. Now, I look back on all of it and I think I was, all the time, reaching around to different collaborations because I love collaborating with different kinds of people. It always teaches me something. It’s also a different itch that I get scratch.

BLADE: In terms of trajectory, to my ear, your most recent three solo albums – 2014’s “Goodnight Tender,” 2018’s “Holler,” and the new one, “If It All Goes South” (Daemon) – in addition to being alphabetically titled, feel like an Americana trilogy. Do you consider them to be linked?

RAY: Yeah. I mean I didn’t say to myself, “This is the third one and then I’ll stop.” But “If It All Goes South” was definitely a record where there was a thread from the other ones and some things that I wanted to achieve that I didn’t feel like I was able to do on the other ones. I think I didn’t even know that until we started making this one. This is

‘If It All Goes South’ focuses on healing

more successful at combining a few of my punk-abilly influences into an Americana world. Also, some of that spontaneity we were starting to get on “Holler.” Now that we’ve played together as long as we have as a band, it was at its peak on this record. I think we just needed to make a couple of records to get to that place. I like them all, but for different reasons. They do different things for me. This one gathers up all the loose ends of “Holler” and “Goodnight Tender” musically and ties them up and puts them in a different context, and almost raises the bar. Lyrically, I wanted to have songs that were about healing, a “you’re not alone” kind of vibe, because of the time period that we had just been through. It’s also the same producer (Brian Speiser) on all three, and we’ve worked together on projects. It started off casually – “Hey, I’ve been wanting to do this country record with these songs. Let’s do this together.”

BLADE: Am I reading too much into the album’s title “If It All Goes South,” or is it a play on words, as in “goes south” as a direction and as deterioration?

RAY: You’re not reading too much into it. There’s even more you can read into it, politically. When I was writing (the song) “Chuck Will’s Widow,” Georgia was the epicenter of some big political movement. When Warnock got elected and Abrams declared running for governor again, I was like, “Oh man, I’m in the right place for once.” But we knew it wasn’t always going to be easy. My perspective in that song was a couple things. “If it all goes South, count it as a blessing, that’s where you are.” Yes, it’s directional, and also like, if things get really shitty, try to make the best of it, of course, it’s what you tell your kids all the time.

BLADE: As any Indigo Girls fan or follower of your solo output knows, you have a history of playing well with others, in addition to Emily (Saliers), “If It All Goes South” is no exception with guest vocalists including Brandi Carlile (“Subway”), H.C. McEntire (“Muscadine),” Allison Russell (“Tear It Down”), Natalie Hemby (“From This Room”), and the trio I’m With Her (“Chuck Witt’s Widow”). When you begin the recording process for an album do you have a wish list of musical guests or how does that work?

RAY: I usually have a wish list when I’m writing the song. Alison Brown, she’s part of the band, so I always think about her banjo playing when I’m writing. She doesn’t tour with us, but she’s in the band. I started writing “From This Room” a long time ago, and I started writing it as a duet. I didn’t have anybody in mind at that point, but I hadn’t finished it yet. When I was finishing it for the record,

I had just seen Natalie Hemby with The Highwomen and had also just had met her and Emily writes with her sometimes. So, I knew her and I was thinking about her voice. When I wrote “Subway,” in part, in tribute to (the late DJ) Rita Houston, who had been so crucial. She and Brandi Carlile were super close. She really helped develop Brandi’s career in being such an indicator station, getting other people on board. So, I was thinking about Brandi and the chorus vocals that would be there because I was writing kind of an ambitious chorus for me [laughs]. I’m like, “I’m gonna have to have Brandi in here!” For “North Star,” that kind of gospel song at the end, when I wrote it and Jeff Fielder, the guitar player, and I were demoing it, I was like, “This is not right. There’s another ingredient. I don’t know enough about the kind of music I’m trying to write to do it.” I got Phil Cook to come in, as a co-writer really, to finish the song musically. Fill out the chords and make it the gospel song I was trying to write. The only person I wanted to do this was Phil Cook. I am just very specific. Like Sarah Jarosz, on this record in particular I wanted to get a mandolin player and I wanted Sarah to play mandolin. We’re always covering the parts ourselves. Jeff’s a great mandolin player, but Sarah Jarosz is a fucking prodigy [laughs]. … It’s never like a wish list of, “Who’s famous? Who can we get?” It’s more a case of who are these songs geared towards, so that when they come into the studio, you don’t tell them anything, really. They just do what they do great, and it works.

BLADE: You mentioned the late, queer, influential WFUV DJ Rita Houston, and I was wondering what you think the loss of Houston means for new artists?

RAY: It’s a huge hole in the universe of people that would take a new artist and sort of help develop them, take chances at radio, and give people that space. She also was a mentor to artists. She wasn’t ever judging your art by whether you were gay or not, or what color your skin was. … She was a mentor in shared musicality. Being able to trust her and understanding how that taught you about the terrain that you’re in and who you can and can’t trust in that way.

BLADE: “Subway” ends with the line “This Georgia girl has got it bad for New York.” With that in mind, could there be an Amy Ray or Indigo Girls musical on Broadway at some point in the future?

RAY: [Big laugh] That’s Emily’s territory. She’s working on some things. A couple of different musicals, and I’m not working on them with her. She’s developing two different ones, and I think one of them has actually gotten some traction and some workshopping that’s pretty important. There is a musical that a friend of mine from high school has been writing that’s really interesting and it’s gotten a lot of workshops. It’s still in the early stages. It uses Michelle Malone’s music and my solo music. Then there’s a movie coming out called “Glitter and Doom” which is a movie musical that’s just Indigo Girls music. It’s coming out next year, I think. We’re still working on the final credits song.

BLADE: After the current Indigo Girls tour wraps up, is there a possibility of an Amy Ray solo tour?

RAY: Yeah. We’re booking dates in February for the South. I’ve tried touring in cold places in February, and it’s hard [laughs]. We’ll head up to the North in May.

AMY RAY’s new solo album ‘If It All Goes South’ is out now. (Photo by Sandlin Gaither)


Friday, November 11

Center Aging Friday Tea Time will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of choice. For more details, contact Adam (adamheller@thedccenter.org).

Women in their Twenties and Thirties will be at 8 p.m. on Zoom. This is a social discussion group for queer women in the Washington, D.C. area and is a great way to make new friends and meet other queer women in a fun and friendly setting. For meeting updates join WiTT’s closed Facebook group.

Saturday, November 12

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. Guests are encouraged to RSVP on the DC Center ’s website, providing their name, email address, and zip code, along with any questions they may have. The link to the class will be sent out at 6:00p.m. the day before the event.

Universal Pride Meeting will be at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This group seeks to support, educate, empower, and create change for people with disabilities. The group facilitator will be actor and disability advocate Andy Arias and queries can be sent to andyarias09@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 13

GoGay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Coffee + Conversation” at 12 p.m. at As You Are. This event is for those looking to make more friends in the LGBTQ+ community and trying to meet some new faces after two years of the pandemic. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Champagne, Comedy and Drag will be at 8 p.m. at DC Comedy Loft and Bier Baron Tavern. This show will be 60 minutes of nonstop comedy, drag, and is the perfect mood for Sunday entertainment featuring the best LGBTQ+ comics and drag queens in DC. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Monday, November 14

Center Aging Monday Coffee and Conversation will be at 10 a.m. 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 be hosting, there will also be a rotating cast of local DMV performers. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Tuesday, November 15

Bi Roundtable Discussion will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This event is an opportunity for people to gather in order to discuss issues related to bisexuality or as bisexual individuals in a private setting. For more information, visit Facebook or Meetup. Global Security Pride Community will be hosting “High Tea Mixer ” at 1 p.m. at The Watermark Hotel. This inaugural event will feature remarks from GSPC’s co-leads, Meta chief security officer Nick Lovrien and Capital One safety & security executive Arian Avila, on the efforts to stand up a special-interest council within the global private and public security industry. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Wednesday, November 16

Job Club will be at 6 p.m. on Zoom. This is a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve self-confidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking — allowing participants to move away from being merely “applicants” toward being “candidates.” For more information, email centercareers@thedccenter.org or visit www.thedccenter.org/careers.

BookMen DC will be at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom. Book Men DC is an informal group of men who are interested in fiction and non-fiction gay literature. For more details, visit BookMen’s website.

Thursday, November 17

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.

“Brooklyn Thursdays” will be at 5 p.m. at Brooklyn on U. This is a ladies night karaoke event. Admission is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Capital Pride to host inaugural benefit ball

Capital Pride Alliance will host its inaugural “Fuschia Ball: A Pride 365 Fund Benefit ” on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. at Echostage.

The evening will begin with a VIP reception at 8 p.m. honoring Capital Pride’s volunteers, partners, advocates, donors, and valuable team members. Doors will open to the general public at 9:30 p.m and guests will enjoy a night of performances by International Drag Superstar Shea Couleé, DJ Joe Gauthreaux, DJ Tracy Young, DJ Eletrox, International Ballroom House of Garcon, Bang, and hosted by theNational Bearded Empress, Vagenesis.

Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased on Capital Pride’s website.

Virginia LGBTQ org to honor intergenerationality

Insight Memory Care, Sterling, Aging Rainbows, Retirement Unlimited Inc, and Eldementals will host “Giving Thanks to LGBTQ+ Elders SAGE Table” on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. at Insight Memory Care Center - Sterling.

This event is an evening of dining and conversation. SAGE Table is an initiative that was launched in 2017 to fight isolation in the LGBT community through the power of intergenerational connections.

This event is a potluck event, but guests who cannot bring an item are encouraged to still attend the event.

Admission is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

VAGENESIS will host the inaugural Fuschia Ball. (Photo courtesy Images Male Photography)

Paula Poundstone on comedy, COVID, and worm farming

Beloved comic performs at Birchmere this weekend

Comedy legend Paula Poundstone is appearing in Alexandria, Va., on Nov. 11 and 12, no matter what wrenches are thrown into her travel plans.

Set to arrive in Dayton, Ohio last weekend, Pound stone was stuck in a situation eerily similar to the plot of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” After being stuck on a flight from Rochester, N.Y. to Washington, D.C. and missing her connection to Dayton, Poundstone and her promoter flew into Cincinnati with a mother-son duo stuck in a similar situation. The quartet ended up driving to Dayton together while Paula completed a telephone interview with the Washington Blade, making it to Day ton just in time for her 7:30 show.

Despite her travel troubles, Poundstone was more than happy to discuss her upcoming show in Virginia. The Birchmere Music Hall, the venue for her perfor mance, holds a special place in Poundstone’s heart.

“The Birchmere was the first job I did after Trump was elected, and I will never forget that experience, I hope, because it was so healing to be with this group of peo ple and to feel free to say what I thought and felt in as comedic a way as I could,” said Poundstone. While she hopes that a healing energy isn’t needed for this show, Poundstone is ready to deliver a fresh and funny show for her fans.

Her comedy routine has been evolving for 42 years, and despite her recent memory issues, Poundstone finds a way to create a unique experience for each au dience, leaving the piece nearly entirely unscripted. She discusses the usual hits, like current events and raising her (now “not fun at all”) children, but also likes to rely on good audience interaction.

“My favorite part of the night is just talking to the au dience.”

Before COVID cancelled her meet and greets, Pound stone had a set of fans attend three shows in a row and come to her after the last one singing praises for both her overall performance and her ability to deliver a con stant rotation of fresh content.

While Paula loves her job, touring leaves her with lit tle to no free time. “All I care about all day long is, you know, finding a wall I can lean on to sleep,” leaving little time for her pre-show routine of MSNBC and writing for her hit podcast, “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone.”

Aside from her regular performances and podcasts, Poundstone has a unique hobby to help her pass the time. She interviewed a vermicomposter on her podcast not too long ago who introduced her to the world of worm farming.

After volunteering at her local food bank during the stay at home order, Poundstone saw the amount of food waste being produced and decided to bring home the 20-gal lon barrel to open her very own worm farm. She sells the waste created by her worms for $4 a pound, or if you are looking for a personal experience, you can pay $30 for a pound of worm waste, a video of the farming process, and Poundstone will name one of her worms after you.

The worm farm is far from Poundstone’s final goal in life. Since COVID interrupted everyone’s lives, she realized how lucky she is to be in this profession. “People come up to me

and tell me how important it is, you know, people say ‘Oh I haven’t laughed that hard in I don’t know when’ you know, and we got a lot of laugh about.” While the tour is still moving along, Poundstone urges fans to attend the performance as masked and as vaccinated as possible, so we don’t get stuck in another new wave.

Even if worms aren’t your cup of tea, you will have a great time at Paula Poundstone’s tour, this Friday and Saturday at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria. Tickets and additional information can be found at paulapoundstone.com/tour.

PAULA POUNDSTONE returns to the Birchmere this weekend. (Photo courtesy Poundstone)


Virginia Opera


Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. Gilbert & Sullivan’s beloved comic operetta fit for all ages

THE 5 BROWNS Christmas with The 5 Browns Saturday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m.

Celebrate the holidays with this quintet of acclaimed pianists

VIENNA BOYS CHOIR Christmas in Vienna

Friday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. A yuletide program made for family memories


Holiday Pops: Songs of the Season

Saturday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. A beloved holiday tradition!

Located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University. For information on health and safety protocols, visit

Queer Wino’s William Ferguson on a mission to queer wine

Educational website elevates stories of LGBTQ figures in the industry

William Ferguson likes talking about wine. His mission: queering wine. Ferguson, who uses he/they pronouns, runs Queer Wino, a wine sales and education website.

When Ferguson began in the industry, he stood in the face of discrimination for his sexuality and gender identity. In search of support and community, he set out to forge his own path of visibility and leadership for LGBTQ people in wine. He now holds a Level II certification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), but formal certifications and education were only the beginning.

With Queer Wino, his aim is simple: to raise awareness of the unique issues LGBTQ people face in the wine industry and to raise their profile. When buying wine, he endeavors to focus on smaller producers, unknown regions, and wines made by anyone outside of cis, straight, white men.

Ferguson’s work is neither pedantic nor esoteric. Breaking down barriers, he focuses on presenting the idea of wine – buying, tasting, pairing – approachable and enjoyable. His Instagram and TikTok feeds are full of thoughtful, candid posts about wine.

“The idea that only red wine can age is false, however, the whole story is complicated. Before I explain, let’s set the record straight — or gayly aligned — and acknowledge that there are age-worthy white wines, rosés, and sparkling wines,” reads one.

In another, Ferguson is strolling down a street in a simple white T-shirt. He posts an image with text that reads, “Red wine is more complex than white wine.” In the caption he states, “Ummmm. No. Just no. It’s not true. Both can be equally complex or simple.”

“Wine and food is a great way to create a space for people to connect,” he notes. “When people share food and wine it increases their

feeling of connection and community. I just want this to be available to everyone, not just an elite few. So, I think what we can learn is that the magic of food and wine doesn’t have to be only one type of experience,” but an experience for all, he says.

Ferguson’s most impactful work began in 2020, when he launched a series titled, “Pride in Wine,” which highlights LGBTQ “wine nerds and professionals.” Pride in Wine is a series of profiles of queer people involved in the wine industry. Thus far, the series has profiled wine educators, vineyard managers, wine label owners, and more. The series is available on his website.

Wine is his profession, but also his passion. He looks for inspiration from people “who love it, and take it seriously, but still have a sense of humor about it.” As for other wine inspiration, he looks to the likes of writer Jancis Robinson and the activism of Justin Trabue, Darwin Acosta, and Elaine Chukan Brown.

“There are countless situations where I just can’t tell if someone is taking me seriously or not because of how they may be perceiving me. Then there’s job-based discrimination. In a way, you can’t win. If you’re closeted on the job to protect yourself and seem to avoid things, people will think you’re lying, and if you’re out they may just not hire you or fire you or discriminate. I’ve even had an employer say there was just something about me at some point before firing me. It just makes you think and wonder.

“A big part of visibility and representation is getting more people to see who you are authentically while doing what you love,” he says. Whether that’s debunking wine myths on Instagram or highlighting and elevating the stories of other LGBTQ people in the wine field, Ferguson is ensuring that there will always be space for queers in wine.

WILLIAM FERGUSON elevates the stories of other LGBTQ people in the wine field.
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‘Ballad of Emmett Till’ recounts last two weeks of a life cut short

A deftly staged and well-acted look at seminal American tragedy

“The Ballad of Emmett Till,” the first part of playwright Ifa Bayeza’s “The Till Trilogy” (now playing at Mosaic Theater Company), recounts the last two weeks of the title character’s short life.

There are bursts of joy and laughter during those days, but always lurking is the knowledge that the Black 14-year-old’s infectious vitality will soon be horrifically snuffed out for allegedly whistling at a white woman.

The piece, deftly staged by Talvin Wilks, opens with the cast gathering on a dimly lit stage, hauntingly chanting the boy’s name, a sound that’s both foreboding and alluring, an invitation to hear his story, a seminal tragedy that drew the attention of a nation.

‘The Till Trilogy: The Ballad of Emmett Till’

Through Nov. 20 | Mosaic Theater Company

Atlas Performing Arts Center 1333 H St., N.E. | $50-$64 | Mosaictheater.org

It’s the summer of 1955 and young Emmett, affectionately nicknamed Bobo, convinces his protective mother to grant him a little independence. Wearing a summer suit, new bucks, and that jaunty straw hat (made so familiar from the real life Till’s iconic photograph), he boards a train headed from Chicago to Money, Miss., where he’ll spend time with family in the Jim Crow South.

The road from the rural station to the humble home of Emmett’s Great Uncle Mose, a tenant farmer and lay preacher, narrows from two lanes to one to a dirt lane. It’s a happy place where everyone is expected to work. And despite being warned to defer to racist whites without question, Emmett and his cousin experience a freedom they don’t know on Chicago’s Southside. In the South, the city boys are free to drive and party at the boozy juke joint on Saturday nights. And while Emmett doesn’t take to picking the cotton or wringing a chicken’s neck, he adapts to other aspects of country life like fishing and going barefoot.

Antonio Michael Woodard nails Emmett as an energetic, smart-alecky, endearing youth, a child on the threshold of young manhood.

The stellar cast’s remaining five members play multiple roles: Billie Krishawn plays Emmett’s mother Mary Till-Bradley whose brave decision to display her son’s grossly disfigured corpse in an open casket for the world to see is credited with helping to spark the civil rights movement, as well as young boy cousin and Caroline Bryant, the white woman who set off the chain of events that led to Emmett’s death; out actors Jaysen Wright and Vaughn Ryan Midder convincingly double as both Emmett’s pals and the vicious white men who killed him; and the stalwartly versatile Jason Bowen plays Mose and other various Mississippians important to the story.

As the piece’s two older women, Rolanda Watts (of TV talk show fame) is excellent, instantly delineating between the two with a slight intonation or change of posture. She exudes warmth as Emmett’s great aunt, a kind woman who knew nothing about cotton but followed her heart and ended up the wife of a poor planter.

Bayeza sets the story in the past and present. At times, Emmett tells his own story, insisting he isn’t going to die, that he’s the chatty Chicago kid who will never stop talking, he’ll always be heard. The piece is also laced with sympathetic songs, ranging from hummable doowop to plaintive ballad, sung unaccompanied by some of the cast.

With roughly hewn planks and beams, set designer Andrew Cohen creates a barnlike atmosphere, evoking the scene of the crime. Sound designer Kwamina “Binnie” Biney adds atmosphere with the sounds of wild water fowls, and chickens clucking in the coop.

The playwright did her homework. In addition to describing his love for nice clothes and budding interest in girls, Bayeza details Emmett’s stammer and the bout with polio that left him with a withered leg. She touches on Mary’s jobs, relationships, intelligence, and ambition.

After a long, drawn-out death scene, the story’s painful ending is delivered as implicitly assured, but not without some promise of hope.

Running concurrently through Nov. 20 are the other parts of the trilogy: “That Summer in Sumner” and “Benevolence.”

Stars of ‘The Ballad of Emmett Till’ (l-r): JAYSEN WRIGHT, ANTONIO MICHAEL WOODARD as Till, and VAUGHN RYAN MIDDER. (Photo by Teresa Castracane)
Reprinted from November 3, 2022 Falls Church News-Press
NOVEMBER 11, 2020 • WASHINGTONBLADE.COM • 35 Direct from Spain! ALEJANDRA José Almarcha & Lucía Ruibal In collaboration with Flamenco Spain Arts and Culture + FECACE Nov 10 - 13 An intimate composition that evokes memories, places, experiences, and people who influenced Almarcha as he pays tribute to his late mother... Enjoy Almarcha’s masterful guitar, accompanied by the unmistakably powerful dancer Lucía Ruibal, singer Fabiola Santiago Castillo, percussionist Jonatan Pacheco López, and violinist Fernando Clemente López. $35 Regular tickets for Nov 10, 12 & 13 Use code ALE35, OR 15% OFF Senior, Military, Teacher, Under 25 for Nov 10, 12 & 13. Use code HHM 202-234-7174 | galatheatre.org Masks & proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID test required 3333 14th St NW, WDC 20010 One block north of Columbia Heights Metro station (Green/Yellow lines)

‘Far From Heaven’ still packs a punch 20 years later Queer classic a merciless deconstruction of American identity

One of the joys of great movies – as any real cinema buff can surely attest – is the ability to revisit them through a new set of eyes. Though the images they show us are frozen, unchanging from the day they were first captured, you the viewer and the world you live in are different each time you watch them.

This shift in perspective becomes even more apparent when the movie in question is a film you haven’t seen in many years. There’s a risk involved, of course: re-watching a favorite, you may find it doesn’t live up to your fond memories; alternatively, you could discover previously unappreciated layers that make you love it even more than you did before. Either way, you’re likely to experience the movie as if it were complete ly new.

Sometimes, though, the power of a movie over time can be deepened by just how much watching it feels the same – and that’s why queer filmmaker Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven,” which turns 20 years old this month, speaks even louder to us now than it did in 2002.

Even then, of course, it was a look back at a faraway past. Set in the upper-middle-class world of Hartford, Conn., in the late 1950s, it transported us into a seminal period of our history and forced us to take stock of just how much things have changed – and just how much they haven’t –in our own time.

Borrowing more than a page from the glossy Tech nicolor melodramas of the era in which it takes place – in particular, the work of Doug las Sirk, a German immigrant whose outsider’s eye tinged the soapy escapist films he directed with a subtle un dercurrent of social criticism that would only come to be appreciated by a later gen eration – “Far From Heaven” is both a painstaking homage to a classic genre and a merciless deconstruction of American identity.

Whitaker, a housewife living within a picture-perfect existence as the dutiful home maker and wife. Her husband, Frank (Dennis Quaid), is a higher-echelon executive at a television manufacturing company – the 1950s equivalent, perhaps, of a tech bro – whose paycheck she spends in the daily running of the household she shares with him and their two young children, a job made considerably easier by the presence of hard-working housekeeper Sybil (Viola Davis); her copious personal time is filled with the obligatory demands of her class position – organizing fundraisers, car-pooling kids to after-school functions, and planning parties designed as much to show off her fami ly’s position of status and privilege as for anything else. Her idyllic existence, however, is about to be disrupted.

Frank, as she discovers in the most awkward way imag inable, turns out to have long-repressed homosex ual desires, upon which he has begun acting by delv ing into the hidden under ground world of closeted 1957 queer life and which have put an even greater emotional distance into their already-perfunctory mar riage. At the same time, she herself begins a friendship with her Black gardener, Raymond (Dennis Haysbert), a widowed father raising a daughter on his own while operating a successful land scaping business serving the prosperous white communi ty. Naïve but good-hearted, she clings to the hope that psychological treatment can “cure” her wayward hus band, while denying her own feelings toward Raymond and remaining willfully dismissive of the stigmatizing gossip that sweeps her social cir cle – even her closest friend (Patricia Clarkson), whose loyalty ends up extending only as far as her own prejudices will allow – about the nature of their relationship. Even in a real 1950s melodrama, she would be in for a hard lesson.

Awash in rich fall colors and adorned down to the smallest detail with pristine replication of the period’s iconic clothing, architecture, décor, and automobiles, its aesthetic – breathtakingly beautiful from start to finish – was accomplished by team effort. Haynes wrote a screenplay ripe with the familiar over-the-top style of the vin tage films he wanted to recreate and directed with an eye toward emulating the vi sual conventions – framing, camera angles, editing choices – with which they were composed, even to the point of using old-fashioned rear projection process shots for driving scenes; cinematographer Edward Lachman captured it all on film utilizing the same lens filters and lighting techniques used in the originals; Elmer Bernstein, who composed the music for many of the same classics that inspired the film, envelops the narrative the lush romantic strains of his final major movie score, adding an even more tangible layer of authenticity to the package; and an impeccable cast of gifted screen actors, led by Julianne Moore in a performance that won her the Volpi Cup for Best Ac tress at the Venice Film Festival (and should have won her an Oscar, according to many awards-show pundits who consider her loss to Halle Berry in “Monster’s Ball” one of the Academy’s most egregious snubs), play out the drama with all the skill required to honor the movie’s mise-en-scène while still making each moment feel palpably real.

Yet as impressive as the film is as a technical achievement in style, it’s not defined by that measure alone. Rather, the style functions entirely in service of a larger goal, in which the myth of “the good old days” is lavishly rendered onscreen only to be torn down by a narrative that asserts all the reasons why they weren’t so good after all.

First and foremost, our identification is imprinted upon Moore’s character, Cathy

That lesson might be entirely predictable from our contemporary point-of-view –our knowledge of the pernicious influence of homophobia and racism on those who dared to veer from the heteronormative path proscribed and enforced by the social order of our past is firmly established enough to foresee exactly how wrong things will go on both of these fronts – but what makes it resonate with modern audiences has nothing to do with any expectation of a happy ending.

Instead, the power of “Far From Heaven” lies in the uncomfortable realization that sexuality and race are still, decades later, a great divider within the American social order. Haynes – who rose to prominence as one of the architects of the “new queer cinema” of the ‘90s by exploring the traumatic memories of Boomer childhood in films that questioned the then-dominant assumptions of established norms – crafts his film with a heightened reality that feels more like a sedative-induced hallucination than a tranquil dream; in paying tribute to the films that influenced his youth, he re-imagines them through the lens of hindsight, revealing the “American Dream” that reinforced our preconceived assumptions about the “natural order” of things to be nothing more than a cruel and manipulative lie more likely to prevent our happiness than enable it. That message, clear two decades ago, now rings truer than ever.

In 2002, it was a quietly devastating assertion that only the privileged few had rea son to look back fondly on mid-20th-century life in our country. In 2022, in the wake of a disastrous conservative push to “make America great again” by regressing to the strictures of a long-tarnished fantasy, it’s a chilling reminder of just how much we have to lose.

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Geena Davis




long before she did in real life Iconic actress revisits her ‘Polite’ life in new memoir

Years ago, a colleague videotaped me as I apologized for bumping into a desk. “I’m sorry,” I said to this inanimate object, “I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings.”

If you’re terminally polite, love kick-ass movies and wor ship bad-asses, you’ll lap up “Dying of Politeness: A Mem oir” by badass, feminist, Academy-Award-winning actor and activist Geena Davis.

In the memoir (Davis’s debut as an author), Davis, 66, tells entertaining, sometimes moving, stories about her wide-ranging life: from her childhood (her parents were more polite than Emily Post ever dreamt of) to her acting career to finishing in 24th place in archery in the 2000 Summer Olympics trials.

Davis, a queer and feminist icon, has been in many mov ies. Her awards include an Oscar for best supporting ac tress for her portrayal of dog trainer Muriel Prichett in “The Accidental Tourist,” the adaptation of the Anne Tyler novel of the same name. Davis watched her boyfriend (Jeff Gold blum) turn into an insect in “The Fly” and played Barbara in the comedy-horror picture “Beetlejuice.”

Davis is loved by LGBTQ folk for her work in two 1990s classics.

In 1991, she was Thelma (Susan Sarandon was Louise) in “Thelma and Louise,” the classic film that made many women cheer and a lot of men squirm.

Just a year later, Davis was Dottie in the movie that’s still a fave of hetero and queer girls and women — “A League of Their Own.” Unlike the series with the same name recently released by Amazon Prime, the film has no explicitly queer characters. But with Madonna (Mae) and Rosie O’Donnell

(Doris), the picture has a fab queer quotient.

You’d think, after watching Davis as Thelma and Dot tie, that the Oscar-winning actor leapt from her mother’s womb as a badass.

But it’s clear from the get-go that it took more than a minute for Davis to emerge as her badass self. Davis could easily have titled not only the first chapter of her memoir, but the entire book, “My Journey to Badassery.”

“I kicked ass onscreen way before I did so in real life,” Davis writes.

But, “Dying of Politeness” is a more than apt title for the memoir. Her parents were loving, but polite to the point of absurdity.

They insisted that Davis say “no thank you, I’m not thirsty” “even if someone was handing me an already poured glass of ice water,” Davis writes.

One of Davis’s childhood memories was of the time her 99-year-old great-uncle drove her and her family to his house. The relative kept veering into the oncoming “if blessedly empty,” traffic lane, she recalls. Rather than say ing anything, “my parents simply moved me to the spot between them on the back seat,” Davis writes, “thinking, I presume, that when the inevitable head-on collision oc curred, I’d be killed a little less in the middle.”

The humor in this anecdote of a childhood brush with death is typical of the wit sprinkled throughout “Dying of Politeness.”

Davis, who grew up in Wareham, Mass., decided at age 3 that she wanted to be in the movies. After studying act ing at Boston University, Davis left college and moved to

New York.

Davis may have been as she writes, “a cripplingly polite New Englander,” but she wasn’t lacking in chutzpah.

In New York, Davis worked as a Lord and Taylor sales clerk. On a dare, she joined a group of manne quins in a café scene in the department store window. Soon, people lined up to watch her perform in street theater.

‘Dying of Politeness: A Memoir’

c.2022, Harper One | $28.99 | 288 pages

Davis got her first movie role in “Tootsie” after Sidney Pollack saw her pictures in the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. Dustin Hoffman, starring in the movie, mentored her. He told her not to sleep with her co-stars.

The memoir is more than entertaining. Davis writes of sexual harassment, her effort to create inclusion in Holly wood by founding the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and how her dad cared for her mom when she had dementia.

It’s hard to think of a timelier book than “Dying of Polite ness” in our current political climate. Badassery is needed now more than ever.

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Wig Night Out

Annual tradition renewed at Pitchers on Saturday

Patrons donned their best wigs for Wig Night Out at Pitchers DC on Saturday, Nov. 5. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

To upgrade your home before selling or not?

It often pays to invest in flooring, paint, countertops

One of the biggest questions many homeowners have is: Do I need to upgrade my home before I sell it? Is the investment going to pay for itself? Should I make specific decisions about my home that a future buyer may or may not be happy with? There are arguments for and against making lots of upgrades. A decent Realtor can help their seller research how much various upgrades may cost, and what might give them the most bang for their buck.

Most people start their home search online. So, the photos for a home are in most cases the first impression that a potential buyer gets of a house. And as many people say, you never get a second chance for a first impression. Most Realtors will try to get their seller to at least get the house de-cluttered, vacant or just as clean as possible for photos. If it’s in the seller’s budget, do we want to replace appliances? Do we want to put in granite or quartz countertops? Does the bathroom need an updated vanity? What kind of lights and ceiling fans do we have? Obviously, it comes down to budget. And each seller will have a different circumstance.

For many people, hardwood floors are much preferable to carpet. In some cases, just putting in new carpet can be a great upgrade. But if you can afford it, putting in hardwood floors, or luxury vinyl plank flooring can be a nice upgrade. Cabinets – can be replaced, painted, or just fitted with new handles and knobs. Appliances, do we want stainless steel? Many buyers and renters prefer that.

The reality for most people is that the home search starts online. And if the photos don’t look good, then there probably won’t be much traffic through the house. And the less traffic there is, the less likely an offer will be made. Or the longer it will sit on the market.

If you have a house to sell, sometimes it’s good to go look at what the competition is and try to decide how your house stacks up against what buyers are seeing. It is important to clean, de-clutter, and put your best foot forward. The spring market is not far away. If you have more questions about how to get your home ready to sell, feel free to contact me or your trusted Realtor.


is a Realtor with The Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at joseph@dcrealestate.com or 703-587-0597.

Selling your home? You might consider replacing those laminate countertops with granite or quartz.

A dangerous love triangle. A fortune-teller’s mysterious prophecy. What will be revealed at The Masked Ball?


VERDI’S Un Ballo in Maschera

Our Season of Verdi continues with the master composer's deeply emotional audience into the masked ball of the

INDIRA MAHAJAN , soprano Amelia “Incandescent... unforgettable” (Opera News)

ALEKSEY BOGDANOV, baritone Renato “Pitch-perfect” (The Washington Post)

DARYL FREEDMAN , mezzo-soprano

“Striking, sumptuous” performances (Opera News)

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