Washington Blade, Volume 53, Issue 46, November 18, 2022

Page 1

REV. DAVID LETT shares personal story of survival,
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Growing number of care providers catering to LGBTQ seniors

SAGE highlights unique needs of community at Virginia event

An event scheduled for Nov. 17 in Sterling, Va., described as ‘Giving Thanks to LGBTQ+ Elders: SAGE Table’ was ex pected to draw attention to the growing number of organi zations and senior care facilities in Northern Virginia and in the D.C. metro area in general that are supportive of LGBTQ seniors.

The New York City-based national LGBTQ seniors advo cacy group SAGE launched what it called SAGE Tables in 2017 as a gathering to share a meal among people of all ages to support their LGBTQ friends and family members who are seniors, in part, to alleviate social isolation.

SAGE has said hundreds of such gatherings have taken place across the country since SAGE Table events began.

“One of my transgender clients fell,” McPhail said. “She had a neck fracture. She had been doing well, independent, no problems before the fall,” McPhail told the Blade. “She is 63 years old and all of a sudden, she’s going to skilled nursing rehab. And they wanted to put her in a gender in appropriate room,” McPhail continued.

“And it took me hours of shielding her from what I thought was inappropriate, and educating and advocating

weeks to educate people who had no idea of her needs. And at that point, I sat down at my desk and said, enough. So, I created at that time all the information for starting Ag ing Rainbows.”

Among other things, McPhail said, Aging Rainbows ad vises senior care facilities she works with to enroll employ

operated nationally by SAGE. The facilities and organization participating in the program, called SAGECare, are desig nated “SAGECare credentialed” and are included in SAGE database lists available to LGBTQ elders looking for a safe and supportive facility in which to reside.

“It is the case now that in almost all states there are one or more elder care facilities that have been trained throughout our SAGECare program,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams told the Blade in a recent interview. “But it’s nowhere near where it needs to be,” he said. “It needs to be that there are wel coming elder care facilities in every single community in this country” for LGBTQ elders.

Insight Memory Care and Eldementals are SAGECare Platinum credentialed, according to SAGE spokesperson Christina Da Costa.

Abby Fenton, a spokesperson for Whitman-Walker Health, said the LGBTQ supportive health center has long

seniors who make up a large number of its patients.

Fenton said “quite a few” of Whitman-Walker’s LGBTQ seniors patients are longtime HIV survivors who feel com fortable coming to a healthcare provider with expertise and understanding of how best to keep people with HIV healthy.

Whitman-Walker Health also co-coordinates at least four peer-led support groups for LGBTQ seniors called Silver Circles, that meet once a week, according to Michael Mitch ell, the Whitman-Walker coordinator of the Silver Circles program. Mitchell said the program is operated jointly by Whitman-Walker and Iona Senior Services, a D.C.-based including LGBTQ seniors.

LGBTQ older adults, in addition to our other programs that are open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression,” Iona says on its website.

Mitchell said the Silver Circles groups discuss a wide range of issues of interest to LGBTQ seniors, including the subject of sex.

Department of Aging and Community Living, which lists on its website community-based organizations, including Whitman-Walker, Iona, and the D.C. Center that provide services for LGBTQ seniors.

Also providing support and services for LGBTQ seniors

The Sterling, Va., SAGE Table event was being co-hosted facilities that are welcoming to LGBTQ seniors, according to Karen McPhail, the CEO of Eldementals, LLC, one of the senior care providers hosting the event.

McPhail is also the founder and director of Aging Rain bows, a Great Falls, Va.-based group that advocates for the SAGE Table event in Sterling.

The other co-hosts include Insight Memory Care, a se niors care facility in Sterling where the SAGE Table event was to be held; Care Connect Nova of Purcellville, Va., a lesbian-owned company that provides in-home concierge senior care services in all parts of Northern Virginia; and Re tirement Unlimited, Inc. (RUI), a Richmond, Va.-based com pany that provides both independent and assisted living residential facilities for seniors in Northern Virginia.

“Come enjoy an evening of dining and conversation,” a statement released by organizers of the Sterling SAGE Ta ble event says. “SAGE Table events bring together people of all ages to share a meal and conversation,” it says. “The transformative relationships formed around a SAGE Table can alleviate social isolation and its consequences.”

McPhail said that while the senior care operators co-host ing the SAGE Table, including her company, are supportive and knowledgeable of the needs of LGBTQ seniors, not all such facilities have that knowledge and provide that sup port. She said she was prompted to form Aging Rainbows

one of her clients who is transgender.

Da Costa told the Blade this week that there are currently 17 SAGECare credentialed organizations or facilities in the D.C. metro area. Among them is the Ingleside at Rock Creek residential seniors facility in D.C.

Under the SAGECare program, there are now 174,699 professionals trained and 748 SAGECare credentialed or ganizations or facilities nationwide, Da Costa said.

As of one year ago, SAGE said there were 15 elder care

LGBTQ seniors. They are located in several of the nation’s large cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Los An geles. But none are located in D.C., Virginia or Maryland.

Aging Rainbows, meanwhile, is among several D.C.-area organizations that provide support and services for LGBTQ seniors. The D.C. Center for the LGBT Community and Whit man-Walker Health, D.C.’s LGBTQ supportive healthcare center, have provided programs and services for LGBTQ seniors for more than a decade.

Among the regular events offered by Center Aging, the D.C. Center’s seniors program are its weekly Monday morn ing Coffee and Conversation gathering and its weekly Fri day afternoon Tea Time gathering. Both are currently held via Zoom.

As part of its ongoing special events, the Center Aging program held an event on Saturday, July 21 called Intergen erational Hangout in which LGBTQ older adults and LGBTQ younger adults came together for a discussion about “ev erything and anything in the hopes of building bridges between generations and providing some laughs along the way,” according to a D.C. Center announcement of the event.

er adults in Capitol Hill and surrounding neighborhoods, a statement on organization’s website says. The statement says the group’s focus is on helping seniors “age in place” in their own homes by providing services from its volunteers such as home maintenance and transportation.

Like the D.C. Center’s LGBTQ seniors gathering events on Mondays and Fridays, Mitchell said all the Silver Circle gatherings continue to meet virtually via Zoom.

Longtime D.C. LGBTQ seniors advocate Ron Swanda said he is disappointed that the D.C. Center’s seniors gath erings as well as other local seniors events have continued to meet virtually.

“I’d rather do these things face to face because I learn better and I like to get the feel for the people involved,” he said. “When I do it online I don’t,” said Swanda, who told the Blade he has withdrawn from participating in most Zoom events.

Mitchell of Whitman-Walker said that although partic ipants in the LGBTQ seniors programs yearn for the preCOVID, in-person gatherings, most have adjusted to the

“Initially, we were concerned that our senior Circle folks wouldn’t necessarily get the technology,” Mitchell said in re ferring to the use of online programs like Zoom. “But they’ve glommed onto the technology pretty quickly,” he said.

“And what we have found is that they do miss meeting in person, as isolation is one of the things we’re trying to

out after dark, be on icy sidewalks in the winter, that kind of thing has actually been very helpful for a lot of these folks,” according to Mitchell.

More healthcare providers are recognizing the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ elders. (Photo courtesy of Bigstock)

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No one would have expected me to attempt suicide

Successful career, busy social life hid reality of depression

(Editor’s note: The Blade has covered several suicides in our community in recent months. Sadly, the holidays are a time of increased anxiety, isolation, and depression for many. The following is a frst-person account of sur viving suicide along with resources and information on where to get help if you are in crisis. There is an abun dance of resources addressing the unique needs of the LGBTQ community. If you have a personal story you’d like to share with Blade readers about overcoming suicidal ideation, depression, addiction, or isolation, please email us at knaff@washblade.com.)

In late winter 2015 it would have seemed that I had ev erything going for me — a successful drag career (hosting at Town Friday and Saturday nights), and an extremely busy priesthood that consumed my time, especially with preparation for the upcoming holidays. My family life contained the usual stressors. I have plenty of friends, ac quaintances, and a handful of very close friends, and dare I say a few fans.

Looking from the outside, my life seemed normal (nor mal for me). No one would have ever expected me to consider suicide. More and more, depression continually rolled over me like a tidal wave and I found myself with no purpose or defense. I had experienced depression be fore, but never to this magnitude. It became unbearable; a feeling of worthlessness and sheer sadness with anxiety

nights with unrelenting insomnia, one right after the other. Being a person of faith required that I make peace with my decision and my creator. I believed that a God who so loves me would not want me to suffer under such a crush ing weight of depression. The Lord is a God of mercy, and how could a merciful God show anything but mercy? I re alized that suicide was my best option, despite the many resources available to me, such as The National Suicide Prevent hotline (1-800-273-8255), the various suicide pre vention organizations (The Trevor Project, A.F.S.P., Out reach by the DC Center), and now the newly established 988 number.

I availed myself of none. I reached out to no one. I be lieved no one would understand my situation. I was em barrassed that I could not handle my own life and there fore concluded that taking my own life would cause little fuss.

So, on Dec. 6, 2015, I Googled “What are the least pain ful ways to kill yourself?” No. 2 in the search was “shoot yourself in the heart.” The page promised it would be

needed to do was pick a day. I picked Dec. 11, 2015. I made a list of all the other things I needed or wanted to get accomplished before the day. Chores as simple as getting my hair cut and setting out the clothes I wanted to be buried in. I decided on a last meal. A very simple shrimp salad from Cameron’s on 16th Street. The writing of 12 individual handwritten letters (which were to serve as my suicide notes). I wrote a special letter to the boys who were going to take care of my everything, my French Bulldog Christian, He would stay with me until the end, and then he would be someone else’s love.

If anything, during this period my depression and hope lessness had grown even deeper. It was a bitter cold day on the 11th of December. At 2:55 p.m., I took a 38-caliber revolver, placed it over my heart and pulled the trigger.

so loud my ears were ringing and the smell of gunpowder

nothing like we see in the movies or on television. First and foremost what I found shocking to me was that I did not fall down, but instead I was walking around for 8-10 minutes before the bullet had done enough damage causing me to lie down and eventually pass out.

I thought I must have done it wrong. After all, why was I still upright and moving around? Then the pain started to set in. Oh, the pain! The greatest pain I have ever felt caused me to eventually pass out, that is how severe it was. I passed out before the ambulance arrived. I was lucky enough to have a friend call for emergency services. Once I arrived at MedStar I underwent a 21-hour surgery. The bullet missed my heart by three centimeters; further proof that Americans are awful at the metric system. I was put in a medically induced coma for 10 days. I would later have three additional surgeries to correct various issues. The bullet nicked a rib and traveled downward. I spent a month and three weeks in the hospital. The surgeons re moved a portion of my liver, and completely removed my gallbladder, spleen, a portion of my lower intestine and appendix. Likewise, they repaired some major damage done to my stomach.

Waking up with my wrists bound and a breathing tube

this! Once the breathing tube was removed my recovery began and, with it, a whole new story. During recovery I had to avail myself of counseling and was diagnosed with severe depression and acute anxiety. I was started on nu merous medications and therapy.

Throughout all of this, I was fortunate enough to have many visitors from the community — friends, family, and some folks I had only known from interacting socially at the club. Perhaps one of the more profound lessons I learned through this process is that my death would have caused pain for so may people.

I keep up with my counseling and medications to min imize suicidal thoughts. To someone who is suicidal and it seems like it is the only option out, you are wrong. It re quires courage to reach out. Depression is worn inwards and it can weigh a ton at times. But no one has to go through this alone. There are plenty of groups that spe cialize in helping those who are suicidal especially in OUR LGBT community.


988. The new 988 suicide and crisis lifeline is available 24 hours/day and offers telephone and online chat.

The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis inter vention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people ages 13-24.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (online chat available).The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741, a free, 24/7 support for those in crisis.

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: 888-843-4564. Provides telephone, online pri vate one-to-one chat and email peer-support, as well as information and local resources across the United States.

Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860. Trans Lifeline is a transled organization that connects trans people to the com munity, support, and resources

The True Colors United, 212-461-4401. The True Colors Fund works to end homelessness among LGBTQ youth.

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E). Addresses individ uals coping with non-suicidal self-injury, including locally based information, support and therapy referrals.

U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-7997233. Operating around the clock, seven days a week, tline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): 800-656-HOPE/800-810-7440 (TTY). The nation’s largest out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

SMYAL, smyal.org. D.C.-based organization advocat ing for LGBTQ youth.

D.C. Department of Mental Health Access Helpline, 888-7WE-HELP.

Wanda Alston Foundation (202-733-3643) in D.C. pro vides transitional living and support services to homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth ages 18-24.

(This list was compiled by PFLAG and Blade staff )

Rev. DAVID LETT shares the story of his suicide attempt and urges readers to seek help if they are in crisis. (Washington Blade fle photo by Michael Key)


and stress over the holidays

Staying sober over the holidays can be a challenge. It has the potential to be a stressful time of year, especially for members of the LGBTQ community. The holiday season can exacerbate stress, anxiety, and depression, particularly when returning home.

Unfortunately, many of these emotional triggers often cause people to turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping. Research has suggested that LGTBQ individuals are three times more likely to experience these mental health conditions.

Avoiding the temptation to drink in excess takes work, but it is not impossible. Whether you are in recovery or not, there are practical ways to manage sobriety and stress over the holidays.

Make sure basic needs are met during the holidays. H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) is an excellent way to remember to meet basic needs. These are often four things that contribute to stress and relapse. Make it a point to eat regularly, exercise, stay connected with other people, and get plenty of sleep.

When attending holiday parties, have a backup plan. If you find yourself in a situation where there is a strong urge to drink or do drugs, have an escape plan. The people around you who know you are working on sobriety or are choosing holiday sobriety will understand. It is OK to leave holiday parties early or turn down in-

vitations. Do not feel obligated to put yourself in risky situations.

Consider non-alcoholic drinks or holiday mocktails. Bring your own beverages to holiday parties or encourage hosts to offer holiday mocktails. “Holiday mocktails are becoming increasingly popular at holiday parties because it removes the risk of drinking and driving and provides options for someone who wants a holiday drink, but without the alcohol,” said Marcel Gemme of Addicted.org.

Don’t go it alone and have some support. Have a sober friend or family member attend holiday parties with you. Ask for help from family and friends or participate in local support groups. More importantly, give thanks and foster an attitude of gratitude. Write down what you are grateful for and why sobriety is important this holiday season.

Excessive alcohol use is dangerous during the holiday season as more people travel on the roads. Unfortunately, drinking and driving is an all too common occurrence. In 2019, in Washington State, 33.1% of all driving fatalities were alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.

It is essential to be careful over the holiday season and your limits. Whether you are in recovery or want to maintain sobriety over the holidays, be aware of the

The holidays mean parties, which can be difficult to manage if you’re in recovery.

triggers and the risks.

Finally, remember the true meaning of the holiday season, love, joy, compassion, kindness, and gratitude. Share in new experiences or create new traditions and enjoy the time spent with those close to you. If someone is struggling, reach out and help, there are excellent resources to help people who are battling addiction.

has spent most

healthcare website Recovery

( Michael Leach has spent most of his career as a healthcare professional specializing in Substance Use Disorder and addiction recovery. He is a Certifi ed Clinical Medical Assistant, and contributor to the healthcare website Recovery Begins.)

Have a backup plan when attending parties
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Trans Day of Remembrance a time to celebrate life New coalition working with Black trans-led orgs to end violence

Communities around the country gather to honor Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on Nov. 20. Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a trans activist, created TDOR as a vigil for Rita Hester, a Black trans woman who was murdered in 1998. Since 1999, TDOR has become a national memorial to those whose lives were stolen from them because of transphobia and anti-trans violence.

Local activist, community leader, and founder of Baltimore Safe Haven, Iya Dammons, is preparing for the day with a wee of a ti ities that honor the trans o unity s fight against violence while also paying homage to victims who were failed by the systems that should have protected them from their murderers.

“We will read off the names and have a few youth, com munity members and advocates step up and share stories of their loved ones who have paved the way,” Dammons said.

Dammons, a Black trans woman and Washington, D.C. na tive, is no stranger to the uphill struggle of her brothers and sisters in the Baltimore-Washington metro area trans com munity. At different times during her life, Dammons battled homelessness and turned to sex work to support herself. Dammons’s own experience navigating the tumultuous wa ters of life fuels her desire to help her community.

I a a re e tion of the eo le that I wor with a ons said.

A 2021 Williams Institute study found that trans people over the age of 16 are victimized four times more often than cisgender people and have higher rates of violent victimiza tion.

One of Baltimore Safe Haven’s driving forces is increasing community awareness of what anti-trans violence looks like for those who are still ali e and fighting for e uity and usti e

“Sometimes we get so caught up with remembering peo ple that we do not tell our own community members that we appreciate you, but we want you to be vigilant and mindful that harm can happen to you at anytime,” Dammons said. or a ons is not ust a out re e ering lo ed ones but also acknowledging that anti-trans violence can happen to her.

“I know that the worst can happen anyday to myself. So I’m sharing space with those other community members to let them know they’re not alone and we stand together in soli darity,” Dammons said.

Elle Moxley, a Black trans woman and founder of the Mar sha P. Johnson Institute, echoes Dammons’s plea to remem ber, protect, and cherish trans lives.

This month, the Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) will launch its new coalition that works with Black trans-led orga ni ations to end anti trans iolen e s e ifi ally against la trans women, and improve trans people’s lives through pub li oli y and e uity

The coalition will bring organizations together from under served areas of the country like the Midwest and Deep South, which are traditionally conservative areas that have higher rates of anti-trans violence.

“As violence continues to be something that is a pattern for this country, we know that our efforts to build power will probably be the only efforts to end that violence,” Moxley said.

Both Dammons and Moxley are targeting the structures that perpetuate anti-trans violence in their activism. e re not ust re orting on the na es of those who ha e een urdered that we re not ust re orting on igilante i olence, that we actually are doing our work to provide solu

tions to ending that violence,” Moxley said.

The MPJI’s coalition will support numerous events and out reach efforts, including advocacy days, legislative days, and healing retreats.

In Washington, D.C., Dammons is starting a new Safe Ha ven chapter.

“We’re looking at a building now to establish a housing program for 18 to 24 year olds,” Dammons said.

Like Dammons, Moxley sees TDOR as an appreciation for life and the ability to be a voice for those whose voices were unfairly silenced.

“This is a time of commemoration and a time of owing the fight for our li es together o ley said for e means that I am still alive, that I’m still here, and that my name is not on a list when it could have easily been based on the things that I’ve experienced and survived.”

Safe Haven will hold its TDOR remembrance ceremony at 5 p.m. on Nov. 20 at 401 N. Howard St. in Baltimore. There will be a Trans Day of Remembrance brunch, “We will not be erased,” on Saturday, Nov. 19, 11:30 a.m. at Hillcrest Heights Community Center at 2300 Oxon Run Dr., Oxon Hill, Md. Tickets are free but you must register at the event’s Eventbrite page.

IYA DAMMONS is no stranger to the struggles of her brothers and sisters in the Baltimore-Washington metro area trans community. (Photo by E.K. Outlaw)

Trump reiterates anti-LGBTQ themes in 2024 announcement

Announcing his plans to run again for president in 2024, former President Donald Trump’s speech on Tuesday night from his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida recycled themes of economic populism, international trade, and fear mongering over immigration from Latin American countries that were central to his 2016 campaign.

suffered by Republican candidates in last week’s midterm elections, as well as those who have blamed him for the party’s weaker-than-expected showing at the ballot box.

He then recited popular recent Republican talking points about President Joe Biden’s

rent administration for America’s dicey withdrawal from Afghanistan and Russia’s inva sion of Ukraine.

Next, the former president expressed admiration for China and Singapore’s ruthless prosecution of drug dealers, suggesting that American leaders emulate their example, before turning his attention to matters concerning transgender youth in schools and in the military.

Schools engaged in “radical civics and gender insanity” will lose federal funding, Trump promised.

“We will not let men, as an example, participate in women’s sports. No men! My peo ple tell me ‘Sir, that’s politically incorrect to say.’ I say, ‘that’s okay, I’ll say it anyway,’” he said. “As commander-in-chief, I will get Biden’s radical left ideology out of our military.”

Trump appeared to reference Biden’s reversal, with an executive order, of the Trump administration’s ban on trans Americans from serving in the armed forces.

As the former president delivered his speech, LGBTQ groups published statements condemning Trump’s planned 2024 run.

GLAAD announced it, “documented more than 200 attacks against LGBTQ people

ti-LGBTQ actions and rhetoric and policy that empowered white supremacists and fu eled racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and misogyny. The unmistakable message from the 2022 midterms is that Americans value freedom, support the democratic process, and reject the divisive policies of the recent past. GLAAD urges the media to include former President Trump’s record against LGBTQ equality in their campaign reporting.”

A statement from LGBTQ Victory Fund President Annise Parker read in part:

“Another Donald Trump presidency presents a serious threat to our nation’s LGBTQ community which continues to face rampant homophobia and transphobia fueled by his divisiveness. Donald Trump and those who wish to follow in his footsteps continue to use our community — and LGBTQ kids in particular — as political pawns in their quest for power.”

The Human Rights Campaign issued a press release documenting “Trump’s timeline

of hate.” Joni Madison, the group’s interim president, condemned the former presi dent’s reelection bid, writing in part that: “Even as Republican voters have become increasingly supportive of LGBTQ+ people — registering majority approval of nondiscrimination projections and marriage equality — [Trump] and his extremist MAGA supporters have worked tirelessly to try to slander

onslaught of unconscionable executive orders that made it harder to live as an LGBTQ+ person in this country.”

Among the songs that played before Trump took the stage was “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” a tune whose next refrain is “singing the song of angry men.”

Trump’s decision to run again for the presidency, and to announce his candidacy so early is widely believed to be — at least in part — a means of dodging the many investi gations by state and federal law enforcement agencies in which the former president has become enmeshed.

Analysis: Voters repudiate attacks on trans youth in midterms

The results of this year’s midterm elections showed a tendency among American voters to rebuke extremism from the right, whether it took the form of denying the results of democratic elections or denying women’s re productive freedoms.

For the LGBTQ community and its allies, it was also a repudiation of attacks from some far-right GOP candi dates on trans people, particularly trans youth.

Virginia would not have reelected Democratic Reps. Jennifer Wexton and Abigail Spanberger “if transpho bic attacks that are geared toward and about kids were an effective message and an effective persuasion mes sage,” Virginia Delegate Danica Roem told the Washing ton Blade on Tuesday.

Transphobic campaigns led by the congresswomen’s Republican challengers cost them Virginia’s Prince Wil liam County, said Roem, who would become the second openly trans state senator in the country if she is elect District.

Republicans in the state went as far as to weaponize a sexual assault case to attack trans students – by lying about the gender identity of the perpetrator, Roem said.

Last year, the mother of a boy who was charged with

sexually assaulting a girl in a Loudoun County high school told The Daily Mail, “First of all, he is not trans gender…And I think this is all doing an extreme disser vice to those students who actually identify as transgen der.”

It is not just in the DC-Maryland-Virginia region that voters rejected transphobic attacks during this election cycle, Roem said. GOP candidates tried this approach in Michigan and Wisconsin, leading to the reelection of Democratic Governors Tony Evers and Gretchen Whit

40 years, Roem said.

“Across the country anti-equality opponents tried to win close races by persuading swing voters that trans kids were a danger – a group of people that needed to be bullied and attacked,” said Geoff Wetrosky, cam paign director for the Human Rights Campaign, Ameri ca’s largest LGBTQ organization.

“And it failed for them as a strategy, in places from Michigan to Kansas, where close races ended up going to the pro-equality candidates not despite these attacks but because of them,” Wetrosky told the Blade.

“Voters did not appreciate candidates singling out trans kids and speaking propaganda and stigma to rile

up extreme members of their base,” he added.

Wetrosky recounted how parents in Arizona had re ceived an anti-trans mailer that was disseminated by for nization America First Legal and reacted by “showing up to the polls for their trans kid but also to show that com munities of color could not be split from LGBTQ folks.”

It would be inaccurate to say that Republican guber natorial candidates like Florida’s Ron DeSantis or South Dakota’s Kristi Noem were reelected because of their open hostility toward trans youth, Wetrosky contends,

In terms of attacking trans candidates running for tries to use these tactics but it’s harder and harder to manufacture a boogeyman,” LGBTQ Victory Fund and LGBTQ Victory Institute President & CEO Annise Parker told the Blade by phone on Tuesday.

Parker agreed with Wetrosky’s position that much of meant to appeal to the most extreme elements of the of those with national political ambitions.

DONALD TRUMP launched his third campaign for president on Tuesday. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Respect for Marriage Act advances in Senate

The U.S. Senate was expected to pass the Respect for Mar riage Act late this week, which would codify some of the pro tections for same-sex and interracial couples that were estab lished by the U.S. Supreme Court but could be weakened or overturned by the High Court’s conservative supermajority.

cloture on the legislation, an aide to Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) told the Washington Blade on Monday.

email. (Visit washingtonblade.com for updates.)

Baldwin is widely credited with driving momentum

(R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) released a statement on Monday urging Senate leadership to put the Respect for Marriage Act

CNN reported multiple sources said the coalition of sen to pass.

This summer, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-

Pierre said that President Joe Biden is ready to sign the bill into law.

“He is a proud champion of the right for people to marry whom they love and is grateful to see bipartisan support for

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBTQ organization, celebrated Schumer’s announcement earlier today that the upper chamber will “vote on the Respect for Marriage Act in the coming weeks so that no American is dis

The legislation, HRC said in the press release, will “codify federal marriage equality by guaranteeing the federal rights,

The impetus behind the Respect for Marriage Act came with the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the constitutional right to abortion in America.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion in which he pledged to revisit precedents governing same-sex marriage and other matters that were decided on the basis of the right to privacy.

Democrats retain control of Senate

Control of the U.S. Senate will remain in the hands of Democrats after U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) defeated Republican Adam Laxalt, the state’s former attorney general, in a hotly contested race.

The 58-year-old Cortez Masto has been serving as the senior U.S. senator from Nevada since 2017. Previously she was the state’s 32nd attorney general from 20072015.

Her reelection means that President Joe Biden main

secretaries. All eyes are now on the U.S. House of Repre sentatives where the balance of power is at stake. As of

retake the chamber and have begun the process of elect ing a Speaker.

dured a tough reelection campaign made more protract ed after the mail-in ballot counting with the results rest

ing largely with the state’s most populous county, Clark County, home to Las Vegas, which posted updates once

NBC reported that in the campaign’s closing days, Lax alt, a Trump loyalist who drew the former president as well as Donald Trump, Jr., to the state to stump for him,

amining Biden’s top medical adviser Anthony Fauci and Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

Laxalt had also questioned the results of the 2020 elec

“There should be consequences for people who un dermine our democracy, who peddle the ‘big lie’ and

Reno, the state’s second largest city, in October.

Laxalt handily won the state’s 15 rural counties, in some counties winning 80 percent of the vote, while Cortez

Customs & Border Protection commissioner resigns

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris last Saturday.

Magnus had reportedly been told earlier in the week by

Multiple media outlets reported that Magnus said Friday that he had no plans to step down despite being told to re sign by Mayorkas.

“I want to make this clear: I have no plans to resign as CBP

Washington Post. “I didn’t take this job as a resume builder. I came to Washington, D.C. — moved my family here — be cause I care about this agency, its mission and the goals of Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Magnus wrote: “Thank you for sioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection over the past year. It has been a privilege and honor to be part of your administration.

“I am submitting my resignation effective immediately but wish you and your administration the very best going

Magnus added.

Pressure on the White House to remove the embattled CBP commissioner came from within the administration as well as from House Republicans. Last week a group of House

letter to the president demanding that he remove Magnus after an article in Politico revealed extreme dissatisfaction within the agency.

“According to a recent report by Politico, Commissioner Magnus continually fails to attend high-level meetings re garding the border crisis. Even worse, he was caught sleep


“The report goes on to detail Commissioner Magnus’ con ment of Homeland Security (DHS) instead of focusing on the

According to the Los Angeles Times, the CBP chief and Mayorkas argued over Magnus’ decision not to continue a

well over how to reform the Border Patrol.

The day before, Magnus also attended a meeting of Border Patrol chiefs after Mayorkas had told him not to

him to resign.

me to resign when I still cared deeply about the work I was doing and felt that that work was focused on the things I was

istration’s crackdown on immigrants and its negative effect on relations between law enforcement and immigrant com munities.

Magnus is gay and married Terrance Cheung, former chief of staff to the mayor of Richmond. Calif., in 2014.

Speaking in the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh, where he is attending the East Asia Summit, Biden reacted to the news.
“I feel good and I’m looking forward to the next couple
Sen. Majority Leader CHARLES SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), Sen. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-Wisc.), and Sen. SUSAN COLLINS (R-Maine.) (Blade photo by Michael Key) U.S. Sen. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D-Nev.) won her race for re-election. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

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World Cup ambassador calls homosexuality ‘damage in the mind’

World Cup Ambassador Khalid Salman on Nov. 7 de scribed homosexuality as “damage in the mind.”

Salman, a former Qatari soccer player, made the comment during an interview with a reporter from ZDF, a German television station, in Doha, the Qatari capital.

The former Qatari soccer player in response to the re porter’s question about the criminalization of consen sual same-sex sexual relations in his country described homosexuality as “haram” or “forbidden” under Sharia law. A member of the World Cup organizing committee abruptly stopped the interview after Salman made his

The World Cup is scheduled to begin in Doha on Sunday.

Qatar is among the handful of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain punish able by death.

Human Rights Watch last month in a report noted bitrary arrested lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and subjected them to ill-treatment in

The report documents six cases “of severe and re in police custody” during the aforementioned period.

“Security forces arrested people in public places based solely on their gender expression and unlawfully searched their phones,” said Human Rights Watch. “As

a requirement for their release, security forces man dated that transgender women detainees attend con version therapy sessions at a government-sponsored ‘behavioral support center.

Peter Tatchell, a British activist, on Oct. 25 protest ed the country’s LGBTQ and intersex rights record while standing outside the National Museum of Qatar in Doha. British comedian Joe Harry Lycett has chal lenged David Beckham to walk away from a £10 million ($11.84 million) deal to be a World Cup ambassador.

Ten captains of European soccer teams that will com pete in the World Cup have said they will wear “one love” armbands to show their support for LGBTQ and intersex people. The U.S. men’s soccer team while in in its badge.

“I think that when we are on the world stage and [we’re in] Qatar, it’s important to bring awareness to these issues, and that’s what Be the Change is about,” said head coach Gregg Berhalter during a press con ference.

India insurance company recognizes same-sex couple

The year 2019 was a time of celebration for the Indi an LGBTQ community. It was the year when the Indian Supreme Court struck down a colonial-era discrimina tory law that criminalized homosexuality in the country,

The nation’s LGBTQ community has been continu

A queer couple, Suchandra Das and Sree Mukherjee, who live in the eastern metropolitan city of Kolkata, ini tiated the RTI.

While talking to the media, Das said LIC mentioned in its reply that there is no legal bar to nominate any

“In effect, this means that there is no bar for a policy holder from making a person not related to him or her by birth, consanguinity, marriage or adoption as his or her nom inee,” said Das to Times Now News.

Though the LIC is under the government of India, which continuously opposes the law for same-sex marriage in the Delhi High Court, the RTI reply is in contradiction with the gov ernment’s stand.

“I welcome LIC’s move on inclusiveness,” said Kalki Sub

Subramaniam is a transgen

hi, called for structural and attitudinal changes in soci ety to let the LGBTQ community live a life of autonomy and dignity.

Salunkhe, a digital creator with the LGBT Navi Mumbai, said that it is contradictory, but it’s still a stepping stone

“Marriage, adoption, inheritance are a few rights we are looking forward to. These rights not only give us the sense of equality, it gives is a sense of security and dependency,” said Salunkhe. “Talking about this step taken by LIC, at least queer couples get to be the depends of each other legally, which makes it a very happy news for every queer individual. And as it is cor rectly said ‘it is better to take small steps in the right direction than to take a great leap forward,’ this little step is also going to be a great one for queer individu als and legal system to understand and formulate safe and equal laws in regards to marriage, adoption, etc. for the community.”

Kanav Narayan Sahgal, a communications manager at Nyaaya, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, also expressed happiness on the LIC’s written reply on same-sex part

The Delhi High Court is already in the process of (LIC), a public sector insurance company under In dia’s Finance Ministry, last month shocked the country while replying to a question — “if a gay partner can be named as the nominee in the insurance policy or not?” under the Right to Information Act, RTI. The company in its reply said there is no legal bar for anyone to make

“Inclusive steps by corporate companies to rec ognize LGBTQI communities are on the rise in India, which is very welcome. It helps us with opportunities for a better living through jobs and improved econom ic status.” she said.

Supreme Court judges have recently shown encour aging and positive support for the LGBTQ community in the country. In August, one of the top judges, Jus

“LIC’s response to the RTI is a welcome move. And while the central government continues to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, one should welcome small steps like these in the long march to ward equality,” said Sahgal in an email to the Blade. “However, it should be noted that even though a samesex partner is a nominee, they don’t automatically get succession rights. LGBTQ+ organizations like Varta do have legal solutions to overcome these loopholes, but

were to simply legislate on marriage equality and settle the matter once and for all.”

(Screenshot via YouTube) (Bigstock photo)
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is gay D.C.-based professional who has worked in international development and is an advocate for LGBTQ rights.

Inter ride s ad de ision to a andon aiwan

Local host committees should be free to decide name of event

As many in the LGBTQ community in Washington, D.C. discovered recently, our city will now host orld ride in any of the initial rea tions I saw fro those in y i ediate networ were a i of e ite ent and s e ti is does ha e the gay infrastru ture to su ort hosting a glo al ride e ent ording to Inter ride the ased non rofit organi ation that owns the li ensing rights for orld ride the answer is yes owe er what seemed to get lost in the conversation was why D.C. was newly awarded as the host for this event after publicly losing its bid to host WorldPride back in 2021 to Taiwan.

In ugust of this year the orld ride aiwan re aration o ittee announ ed that it was withdrawing fro hosting the glo al ele ration after a dis ute with Inter ride o er the na e of the e ent he host o ittee insisted on alling it orld ride aiwan while Inter ride insisted that the e ent e alled orld ride aohsiung in tradition with using the na e of the host ity and not that of the host ountry he o ittee did not accept this name change and Taiwan will no longer host the event, as revealed in an announ e ent y the inistry of oreign ffairs of aiwan

There is much he-said-she-said in competing press releases and subsequent interviews of how Inter ride and the o ittee arri ed at this oint It is ertain that not all of the e hind-the-scenes negotiations are fully available to the public and it appears that the fallout ulti ately o es down to the disagree ent o er the na e of the e ent Inter ride s de ision that this e ent would no longer ta e la e in aiwan is ulti ately har ful for the o unity in aiwan and ast sia as a whole Inter ride is s uarely to blame and fails to stand up for the rights of our community by failing to engage in the public demonstration of Pride that has made the LGBTQ rights movement successful over the better part of the last century.

Inter ride s de ision to di tate the na e of the e ent shows a estern inded la of regard for the local and regional politics of East Asia and continues the imperialist trend of di tating ter s to the lo al outh y awarding this e ent Inter ride should ha e allowed the o ittee to hoose its own na e for the e ent ind you the na e that they initially id and su itted all of the a erwor with throughout the idding ro ess and ulti ately u lished for the announ e ent of the award was orld ride aiwan

Inter ride o resident inda e ar o has insisted that the reason for the na e hange was not oti ated y geo oliti al tensions It is disheartening that Inter ride tried to dis tance itself from politics when the movement they support has its foundational roots in oliti s It also see s highly i lausi le that Inter ride did not onsider the geo oliti al tensions in whi h aiwan is urrently ensnared Inter ride should ta e a stan e in su orting

aiwan and allowing the to hoose the na e for this glo al e ent In shying away Inter Pride is failing to align itself with the country with the best record of LGBTQ rights in East Asia.

Awarding Taiwan with the 2025 event was monumental and invaluable for raising the rofile of rights in ast sia whi h are tenuous and not wides read Inter ride dis tancing itself from this stance is a disservice to the LGBTQ community in Taiwan and East sia as a whole i tating that the o ittee ste down fro using the na e aiwan disregards the complex history and identity of the Taiwanese people and the LGBTQ comunity there Inter ride s failure to stand u for aiwan y allowing the to use their hosen name for the event is symbolic of the Western imperialism mindset that is still pervasive in the o unity and estern ased international organi ations he o ittee has e ery right to a e the e ent in their i age Inter ride has ta en away agen y fro the committee and the LGBTQ community in Taiwan from deciding the name of their own event in a way that is hard not to read as imperialist.

e an all agree that ride is an inherently oliti al e ent hen for ed to ta e a stan e on allowing the o ittee to use aiwan in the na e for the e ent Inter ride al ed and lai ed to not e oliti al It etrays the history of the o e ent to not ta e a o liti al stan e and instead disengage with the o ittee and aiwan as a whole o o resi dent adi a ien who is on re ord saying that traditionally the na e of the e ent is ased on the ity that the e ent is held and not the ountry it should e as ed why Inter ride feels they need to ling to this nonsensi al and aseless tradition hile the final re arations for orld ride ydney are underway egins to prepare to host its event, and Amsterdam celebrates their announcement of hosting WorldPride in 2026, it is critical that we as a community examine where we sit in the broader conte t of the glo al o e ent Inter ride s in e i ility and de ision to o e the e ent away from Taiwan should be a reminder that we have a duty to support our community both at ho e and a road In eri a we ertainly ha e a ery tough and long road ahead of us in ter s of a hie ing full e uality for our o unity ut that does not e use us fro not exercising our privilege in the global community from seeking to lift fellow community e ers around the world and su ort their fight for rights

I ho e that we as a o unity will ee this in ind and start holding organi ations li e Inter ride a ounta le to the o unity at large I all on Inter ride to announ e a orld ride e ent in a ity outside of the lo al orth ntil then I will loo forward to orld ride in Washington, D.C. in 2025 and elevating our city to the global stage.

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


The mid-term election is a huge win for Democrats and for our democracy, and a huge loss for the media. While Democrats may lose the House of Representatives, they came closer than anyone in the media predicted. They kept control of the Sen ate, will likely increase their lead by one when Rafael Warnock (D-Ga.) wins his run-off, and won governorships and state legislatures. In Michigan, Democrats control the

All this while in the lead-up to the elections the media was predicting doom and gloom for Democrats. The closer the elections came the more outrageous the head lines claiming the Republicans were going to have a red wave. All this based on per son-in-the-street interviews and Republican polling. Turns out young people and a low turnout within that age group. This year according to MSNBC, “turnout in bat tleground states was even higher for this key demographic, at around 31 percent. In according to the Philadelphia Enquirer, “Voters cited abortion as a key issue in Penn

The media has clearly become a bunch of lazy individuals looking at each other to determine what to say, not wanting to be the outlier. Toward the end of the campaign anyone watching MSNBC might think they were watching Fox News based on the interviews they were showing. The only difference was at MSNBC they were unhappy with what they were showing, at Fox they were gleeful.

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post wrote, “The headlines coming into Tuesday’s elections almost uniformly predicted a Democratic wipeout. Here’s just a small sam

Defense in Blue States, Brace for a Red Wave in the House, Red tsunami watch, The Republican wave is building fast, Democrats fear midterm drubbing as party leaders rush to defend blue seats, Why the midterms are going to be great for Donald Trump, Breaking down the GOP’s midterm momentum, Democrats confront their nightmare scenario on election eve as economic concerns overshadow abortion and democracy worries; I pulled those from The Post, the New York Times, CNN, Axios and Politico —

It is a sad commentary on what people are getting from the media. Today it is all about opinion and not really hard news. Cable ‘news,’ really a misnomer, is the worst. Today it is all entertainment. The media is generally trying to excuse themselves with a different set of headlines. They don’t admit how wrong they were because if they did that they would have to change and aren’t about to.

The time has come for the media and pollsters to tell people the truth — namely, that they don’t know what the American people will do. Clearly the American people voted to save democracy and personal rights. Maybe not by huge majorities but by enough to save face for our nation around the world. President Biden could go off to meet with world leaders, especially China’s Xi Jinping, as a winner. He was right in how he focused on saving our democracy and abortion rights. His message worked despite his approval ratings being under 45% and people feeling the country was going in the wrong direction. They seem to have understood what Biden was saying

just said Democrats are to blame but didn’t say what they would do if elected. Seems most Americans aren’t as stupid or gullible as Republicans would like to think. Except for the MAGA Republicans, they agreed the last presidential election was fairly run. They reacted negatively to being stripped of their personal rights by a Republican appointed Supreme Court.

Now will this election be enough for the Republican Party to move forward and away from Trumpism? Who knows? One can only hope when reporting on this the media will shy away from sensationalism, and move forward to real reporting and doing the research required to back it up.

win the midterms — media loses Pundits and pollsters falsely predicted red wave that went splat
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A queer screen roundup for the holidays

a Whitney biopic are just around the corner

Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and we all know what that means. No, we’re not talking about digging out all those saved recipes for using leftover turkey. We mean, of course, that it’s time for the Blade’s annual Holiday Entertainment Preview, when we round up all the new LGBTQ viewing options coming our way during the upcoming season. No, they’re not all themed for the holidays (because, let’s face it, sometimes everybody needs a little escape from all that seasonal cheer), but they’re all

planning, partying, and going to the gym to work off all those giant meals and decadent sweets.

“She Said” (in theaters Nov. 18)

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan star as New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in this true-life drama about the investigation that led to the bombshell 2017 report exposing Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long history of sexual misconduct against women. There’s no direct LGBTQ connection here, per se, but the #MeToo movement inspired by the revelations is cause enough for us to include it on our list, simply in the name of solidarity. The fact that it’s female-written and female-directed (by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Maria Schrader, respectively) bodes well for the messaging in this one, which also stars Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Jennifer Ehle, and Samantha Morton.

“Wednesday” (Netflix, Nov. 23)

Again, there’s no direct LGBTQ connection within the content here (at least as far as we know, yet), but surely none is needed to explain why this new supernatural comedy/mystery series from Executive Producer Tim Burton and creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar – detailing the crime-solving adventures of now-teenaged Wednesday Addams as she navigates her high school years at Nevermore Academy – has our recommendation. The goth daughter of Gomez and Morticia has long been a queer fan favorite, after all, and there are plenty of other reasons to look forward to this new iteration of “The Addams Family” and its “creepy and kooky” world. Starring Jenna Ortega in the title role, with Gwendoline Christie, Riki Lindhome, and Jamie McShane – and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzman, and Fred Armisen making guest appearances as Morticia, Gomez, and Uncle Fester, respectively.

“The Holiday Sitter” (Hallmark, Dec. 11)

This one not only has LGBTQ appeal, it’s an actual holiday movie. From the notoriholiday rom-com about two men (a queer couple was featured in 2020’s “The Christmas House,” but it wasn’t about them falling in love) starring out “Mean Girls” star Jonathan his out-of-town sister and her husband and recruits a handsome neighbor to help him. We’re sure you’ll know where things will go from there, but it should be a cozy seasonal watch, anyway. Also starring George Krissa and Chelsea Hobbs.



(in theaters, limited Dec. 2 / wide Dec. 9)

December’s awards season push kicks off with this adaptation of Michael Ausiello’s bestselling memoir, in which a young gay couple meet, fall in love, and build a life together for over a decade – only to be faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis for one of them. We know it doesn’t sound like holiday cheer, but it takes as light an approach with the subject matter as possible; that doesn’t mean you won’t cry, of course, but this Michael Showalter-directed tearjerker is hoping you’ll get the point that love is worth it even when you know there’s going to be a sad ending – and you can’t ask for a more appropriate seasonal message than that. Starring Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge, Sally Field, and Bill Irwin.


Agnes” (in theaters, limited Dec. 2/Dec. 9)

ercise from director Chase Joynt takes the story of Agnes – a pioneering transgender woman whose participation in an infamous UCLA gender health study in the 1960s

viewed.” Promising “vividly rendered” re-enactments of vintage trans history, collaboratively created by an all-star cast of trans performers, artists, and thinkers, this one is only getting a limited theatrical release, for now – but even if it doesn’t screen near you, keep your eyes open, because it looks like it’s worth waiting for. Angelica Ross, Jen Richards, and Zackary Drucker are among the featured stars.

“The Whale” (in theaters, Dec. 9)

Another award contender surfaces with this buzzy new drama from the ever-intense Darren Aronofsky, adapted by Samuel D. Hunter from his own play and featuring the long-anticipated return of former Hollywood hunk Brendan Fraser – who stars as an obese middle-aged man trying to reconcile with his estranged daughter after abandoning her and her mother to be with another man. It’s won awards already, at Venice

and for Fraser’s comeback performance – is to be believed, it’s probably going to get several more. But that’s not why we recommend it; we just know you love Brendan Fraser as much as we do. Also starring Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, and Samantha Morton.

“Babylon” (in theaters, Dec. 23)

in 1920s Los Angeles, and he doesn’t skimp on the star power. With Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Diego Calva leading an ensemble cast, this lavish look at early Hollywood traces the rise and fall of several intertwined characters to spin a tale of “outsized ambition during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity.” We’re told there’s a queer storyline involved, though there are no details yet – but regardless of that, we’re in based on that description alone. Also starring Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, P.J. Byrne, Lukas Haas, Olivia Hamilton, Tobey Maguire, Max Minghella, Rory Scovel, Katherine Waterston, Flea, Jeff Garlin, Eric Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Samara Weaving, and Olivia Wilde, this is bound to be another awards favorite, and probably a whole lot of opulent fun, too.

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (in theaters, Dec. 23)

Finally, this eagerly awaited biopic of Whitney Houston – directed by Kasi Lemmons and written by Oscar nominee Anthny McCarten – shows up just in time for Christmas to deliver “a no-holds-barred portrait” of the iconic pop star, following her life and career from New Jersey choir girl to one of the best-selling and most awarded recording artists of all time. Starring BAFTA winner Naomi Ackie as Houston, it promises to take us on “an inspirational, poignant – and so emotional – journey” through the late singer’s “trailblazing life and career,” with “show-stopping performances and a soundtrack of the her most beloved hits as you’ve never heard them before.” That’s a lot of hyperbole, but frankly, we’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t get real about Houston’s long-obscured sexuality. Even so, it gets our tentative recommendation on the basis of diva interest alone. Happy holidays!

BRENDAN FRAZIER stars in ‘The Whale.’
24 • WASHINGTONBLADE.COM • NOVEMBER 18, 2022 CALENDAR | R Friday, November 18 Saturday, November 19 Sunday, November 20 Monday, November 21 Tuesday, November 22 Wednesday, November 23 The Thursday, November 24 OUT & ABOUT Nov. 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance
R R “Trans Day of Remembrance Brunch” “Black Trans Joy Brunch” “Transgender Day of Remembrance”

Poignant ‘Sanctuary City’ depicts two immigrants struggling to get ahead in America

Undocumented friends navigate post-9/11 New Jersey

As a kid growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, María Victoria Martínez was obsessed with musicals, Broadway shows like “West Side Story” and Disney movies were on non stop rotation. She knew the scores by heart and longed to play not the ingenues or princesses, but rather character roles like “The Little Mermaid’s” villainous Ursula and Miss Hannigan, the comically bitter lush in “Annie.”

“Imitating the singers is how I learned English,” says Martínez, 30. It also ignited a pas sion for theater that ultimately lured her into show biz (though she doesn’t do musicals).

Without giving too much away, adds Martínez, G’s position in the U.S. is more stable than s till she s willing to fight to hel se ure his fate e is argua ly her only friend

WASHINGTON BLADE: ould you des ri e your hara ter as the fierier of the two?

MARĺA VICTORIA MARTĺNEZ: es s I read the lay I definitely saw this ardent fire in hen she feels safe the fire urns ut she feels in danger her fire is o usti le and liable to burn everything down. G is the engine that tries to keep B going, to uplift hi to find ways for hi to stay in the ountry

They share moments when they seem like brother and sister, sometimes friends, and even lovers. It’s left open for audience to interpret as they watch the play. It’s messy. And that’s what makes it good.

BLADE: Was it tough moving the production across country?

MARTĺNEZ: Transferring theaters was tricky – they’re very different spaces. In Berkeley we were in a black box almost in full round. Arena’s Kreeger Theater is proscenium, so we e had to atten out our lo ing ut in doing so we found new o ents in the show.

Audiences are different in every city. In California, there were certain moments in the show where audiences were really cracking up and here, we don’t hear a peep. But after all, theater is a living organism and moving gives new and different life.

BLADE: In “Sanctuary City,” you and Hernán Angulo play such incredibly close friends. How is that relationship offstage?

MARTĺNEZ: We were so fortunate to have been cast together. We got along right off the at and now we re ery lose I identify as ueer and he identifies as a gay an ut it’s really our Latinidad (Latinness) that brought us together. And we both love to laugh a lot. When apart we Facetime and share Tik Toks and serious articles too.

I’m Puerto Rican and he’s Mexican American from the Bay Area. I’m interested in Mexi an ulture anish is y first language and ern n s ea s anish so there s that too

BLADE a e you witnessed the ourage and ain of undo u ented eo le first hand?

After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico followed by a master’s degree from A.R.T. (American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University), she kicked off a career as a multifaceted actor. Martínez follows the work, but splits most her time between San Juan and New York City: “It’s my idea of a bicoastal existence,” she says.

urrently art ne who identifies as ueer is at rena tage starring in ulit er Prize-winning playwright Martyna Majok’s “Sanctuary City,” an Arena/Berkeley Reper tory Theatre co-production directed by David Mendizábal with associate direction and transfer direction by Cara Hinh.

Set in Newark, N.J., not long after 9/11, a time when anti-immigrant sentiment was on the rise, the new work is a timely and poignant piece. Martínez and out actor Her nán Angulo play longtime undocumented friends (simply called G and B, respectively), struggling to get ahead in America, the only home they’ve ever known.

MARTĺNEZ: In Puerto Rico most of the immigrants are Dominicans. We’re generally welcoming to them. But I have seen some bad things, and when I witness that aggres sion, it doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t understand blocking someone from seeking refuge.

BLADE: Anything directed at you personally?

MARTĺNEZ es I e erien ed so e unsettling eno ho ia when ru was first elected. I was still at A.R.T. and traveling home to San Juan. At the airport, I was speaking Spanish and a lady purposely bumped into me and told me to go back to my country. I hold a U.S. passport, so you can only imagine what happens to people who are more vulnerable.

These things are really important to talk about. And I’m happy and proud to be doing the show in D.C. I think it gives it even more meaning.

HERNAN ANGULO and MARÍA VICTORIA MARTÍNEZ in Sanctuary City at Arena Stage.
(Photo by Margot Schulman)
by Valerie Terranova
Photo of Amelia
and Michael Urie
the 2022 New York production of Jane Anger

Reliving a magical softball world series in D.C. Jackson, Mace worked for years and through a pandemic to bring event to the city

After almost two years of disruptions, the LGBTQ sports community in the District of Columbia is thriving once again.

Tournaments that were canceled have been rescheduled, leagues are back in ac tion, and sports permitting within the Dis trict is working its way back to normal.

The Washington Blade checked in with two Chesapeake and Potomac Softball (CAPS) players who worked for several years to bring the Amateur Sports Alliance of North America (ASANA) Softball World Series to D.C.

The ASANA Softball World Series 2022 was held in D.C. in August and brought in more than 1,500 athletes, coaches and fans who celebrated sports and community over seven days.

Cis women, trans women, trans men and nonbinary athletes were eligible to play in the series, and cis men were welcome to coach or manage teams.

Rhonda Jackson and Tony Mace were co-hosts of the Host City Committee who brought the series to our nation’s capital.

Blade: Tell me about the journey to bring the ASANA World Series to D.C.

Tony Mace: We submitted our bid in 2019 to host the 2021 World Series, which was then rescheduled due to the pandemic. The 2020 Series was cancelled and eventu ally we received the 2022 award to host.

Blade: Was there a theme behind your bid?

Rhonda Jackson: Yes, our goal was to elevate the player experience both on and off the field ery layer was treated as if they were the best softball player on the planet. We wanted the players and the city to be the center of attention. We attended a Mystics game and a Nationals game, which were both great to experience as a commu nity.

Mace: We were excited for the opportu nity to show off D.C. and we are really proud of what we are doing here as an LGBTQ soft ball community. We wanted to share it.

Blade: Let’s talk softball. How was the Se ries?

Mace: ASANA has 28 member cities, and we had a total of 47 teams from 21 cities o eting in the through i isions he games were held at Watkins Regional Park and Fairland Regional Park.

Jackson: eryone was treated as an elite athlete, and it didn’t feel like a local or regional tournament. The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation did an awesome job of getting the fields in sha e for the eries

They were a big part of the player experi en e hen we arri ed on the first day it was a s iritual o ent erything was erfe t and there were a lot of smiling faces. I hope we created memories that last a lifetime.

Blade: How many local teams compet ed?

Jackson: fielded fi e tea s har s won their di ision wag finished third in their di ision and artas finished fourth in their division.

Blade: And I understand congratulations are in order for you, RJ?

Jackson: During the Series, I was induct ed into the ASANA Hall of Fame. My com petitive teams, my local teams and the CAPS Board were all there. I could feel the love.

Mace: The Hall of Fame dinner was mag ical. Actually, every day of that week was incredible. It is truly amazing to have play ers from across the country come and play at your home ballpark. I made a ton of new friends and Friday night under the lights was a really special moment.

Jackson: The whole week was about special moments, connecting with new and old friends, giving folks an opportunity to thrive, and creating a safe, inclusive space to compete.

Blade: And congrats to you, too, Tony for being inducted into the CAPS Hall of Fame this year.Right after the ASANA World Se ries ended, you headed to Dallas to com pete in NAGAAA Softball World Series with other CAPS travel teams. How was the tour nament?

Mace: We had two teams from D.C. make it to the i ision ha ionshi s ig Blue won the Masters D Division and DC ruff finished se ond in the i ision It is always great when your sister teams play well and seeing everyone pull togeth er from the D.C. community to celebrate the DC Big Blue victory was heartwarming.

The Amateur Sports Alliance of North America brought its Softball World Series to D.C. in August. (Photo courtesy ASANA)

Whether you adore old Hollywood, are fascinated by the world,” assistant director Ridgeway Callow says, in “HollyIt’s often been said that there would be no Hollywood

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Christmas with The 5 Browns

Saturday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. Celebrate the holidays with this quintet of acclaimed pianists

Family Series


Sunday, Nov. 27 at 3 p.m. The best of the best holiday cartoons, film, and jazz!



Holiday Pops: Songs of the Season

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


Christmas in Vienna

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

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


Fuchsia Ball

performs at

Pride event

Capital Pride Alliance held The Fuchsia Ball at Echostage on Saturday, Nov. 12. Music was provided by DJs Electrox, Tracy Young and Joe Gauthreaux. The event was hosted by Vagenesis and featured performances by the House of Garcon, Bang and Shea Couleé.

Couleé Capital (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)
Fabulous Christmas trees. Festive décor. Immersive virtual experiences. Make Hillwood your holiday oasis. Hours: Tues – Sun 10am – 5pm HillwoodMuseum.org 4155 Linnean Ave. NW, Washington DC Free parking 4 BR EAK OU T CHECK OUT THE REST OF WOOLLY’S 2022-23 SEASON AT WOOLLYMAMMOTH.NET

Holiday gifts for car lovers

Something for everyone, from a Barbie Maserati to Subaru dog sweaters

Sure, a $100 gift card to use at the gas pump or EV charging station is a nice stocking stuffer this holiday season, but there are plenty of other much more playful gifts for car fans.

Ferrari Wraparound Sunglasses

Caio bella! Sleek unisex sunglasses ($1,275) from Ferrari feature a futuristic wraparound design with steel frame, titanium nose pads and the automaker’s prancing-horse emblem on each lens.

Subaru Blue-Striped Beanie

To help reduce waste and carbon emissions, Subaru offers assorted eco-friendly clothing. This includes a bluestriped beanie ($15), made from 100% recycled acrylic knit and festooned with a sassy pom on top. Subaru Motorsports USA logo is embroidered on the side.

Hyundai Nexo Kiddie Car

Back in the day, there were Hot Wheels, Matchbox Cars and Tonka Toys. Today, there’s the Hyundai Nexo kiddie car ($737), an electric-powered plaything with vegan leather, stitched seating and rear sensors that beep when there’s an obstruction. Parents can control the car via a Bluetooth remote-control system. Charging time: seven hours.

Mercedes Classic 300 SL Desk Clock

Ford Bronco Holiday Adult Onesie

Ford is proud of its ugly holiday sweaters, but this year there’s the Bronco holiday adult onesie ($45). Made of 100% polyester polar

cuffs for your arms and ankles, and a cringe-worthy design in maroon, sage and cream coloring.

Land Rover Heritage Watch

Inspired by old-school aviator timepieces, the Land Rover Heritage Watch ($282) has a leather strap, rugged stitching and early Land Rover logo on a matte black dial and ion-plated case. Available with a snazzy Land Rover presentation box.

Turn back time with the Mercedes classic 300 SL desk clock ($85) made of aluminum and stainless steel, with a wave pattern on the dial similar to the design used on the dashboard of that vintage Benz.

The Godfather Cadillac Model Car

Like Marlon Brando, here’s an offer you can’t refuse: The Godfather Cadillac ($23), a diecast model of the 1955 Fleetwood in that movie.

Maserati Blue Unisex Socks

What better stocking stuffer than, well, socks. Maserati’s blue unisex socks ($31) are made of a high-quality blend of cotton and technical fabric, with the Maserati trident logo inlaid on the side and sole of each sock. Ideal for outdoor activities or sports.

BMW Scooter

For megabucks motorheads, Neiman Marcus offers its annual holiday catalogue —a collection of “fantasy gifts”— with the Barbie Maserati Grecale Trofeo SUV ($330,000). This fab ride—in shocking pink and with yellow accents— can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds. Only one is available, with 10% of the sale donated to the Barbie Dream Gap Project, which helps provide equal opportunities for girls and young women.

The BMW kid’s scooter ($120) is made of durable plastic and metal, with a height-adjustable steering bar and convenient storage drawer to hold stuff. Available in choice of two snazzy color combinations: white/ raspberry or black/ orange.

leashes, clip-on safety light, travel roll-up mat, of cat nip, and more.

Retro Datsun Lunch Box

Gearhead foodies will appreciate the Datsun lunch box ($15), with images of two iconic cars from that retro automaker: the racy 240z roadster on one side and the stylish 510 sedan on the other.

Barbie Maserati Grecale Trofeo SUV Subaru Dog Sweater Subaru offers festive gifts for those four-legged members in your family, including a holiday dog sweater ($35) made of jacquard knit. Other Subaru pet-centric presents: collars,
carbon emissions, Subaru

i s for holiday ho e sales uyers at this ti e of year are ore serious

he holiday season is often onsidered a diffi ult ti e to sell a ho e ut so eti es it s ne essary or what e er reason you ay need to a e a o e ui ly and selling during the holiday onths fro o e er through anuary is your est o tion If you find yourself in this situation you should now that selling during the holiday season does ha e ertain ad antages ften ore than during any other ti e of the year uyers are in the sa e situation as sellers they are uy ing for a reason It ay e a relo ation for wor it ould e a o e to e loser to an older fa ily e er or any nu er of other reasons that re uire a o e ui ly s a result holiday uyers are ore serious and a e ore o etiti e offers not to ention the fa t that there is often less o etition fro other sellers e ause fewer ho es are on the ar et

If you find yourself needing to sell your ho e during the holidays fo us ing on the advantages can e hel ful along with a few other ti s in luding

• Add some holiday cheer to your home: Of ten, holiday decorations can add an extra spark of seasonal air and can be quite helpful to sell ers – provided that the decorations aren’t over board. Decorations that are too large or ashy may distract buyers and make your home feel crowded or cluttered. The right decorations, however, can be cheer ful and bright and add some holiday spirit to your home that buyers enjoy.

• Create some curb appeal: The holiday season is a wonderful time to enhance your home’s curb ap peal with tasteful lights and other décor. It’s also important if you live in an area where leaves fall from the trees to be certain to rake and maintain your yard and surrounding landscaping. Certainly, if it is icy or snowy, you should shovel your drive way and sidewalks and make sure your home is safe for potential buyers to visit. Additionally, bare trees often draw more attention to the exterior of a home, so ensuring that your paint is touched up, gutters are cleaned, and other exterior features are in good condition is important.

• Choose the right price point: Regardless of the time of year, pricing your home competitively will help to increase your chances of selling it quickly. Often, homes priced too high will linger on the market. The longer a home stays on the market, the more skittish some buyers become, and the lower the price may eventually have to go to ul timately sell it. Pricing your home competitively from the beginning can be very helpful.

• Remain accessible: The holidays can be a busy time, with many obligations and activities. As a result, it can often be more difficult than usual for real estate agents to arrange and schedule show

ings. Clearing your schedule as much as possible to accommodate agents and potential buyers can help to ensure that you get as many showings as possible, which will ultimately increase the chanc es of a quick and successful sale.

• Find the right real estate agent: The importance of this last tip can’t be overstated. Finding an agent who knows and loves the community will help you to market your home effectively, high light all of its selling points, and connect with the right buyer. At www.GayRealEstate.com, buy ers and sellers across the country are paired up with LGBTQ-friendly agents who can help them achieve their real estate goals, and this can make all the difference between a smooth and success ful selling experience, and a stressful one.

hile these ti s are intended to e hel ful it s also e tre ely i ortant to onsult with an agent who nows your uni ue ar et and an gi e you ti s for your ar ti ular ho e t www ay eal state o we d lo e to onne t you with that agent today et in tou h with us soon we loo forward to hel ing you rea h your real estate goals


is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or jeffhammerberg@gmail.com

Tasteful holiday decorations can improve the look of your home if you’re selling at the holidays.
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