Washington Blade, Volume 54, Issue 35, September 01, 2023

Page 1

Meet director of Johns Hopkins Center for Trans Health

Dr. Fan Liang on politicizing healthcare, fear among patients, PAGE 14

(Photo courtesy Fan Liang)
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54 ISSUE 35 Te Only Stack Style Guide v 1 | February 2018

Comings & Goings

Domi to chair Balkans Observatory Initiative

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: comingsandgoings@washblade.com.

Congratulations to Tanya Domi hired by New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy to chair the Balkans Observatory Initiative. Domi said, “I am delighted to have been hired by New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy to chair the Balkans Observatory Initiative. This is a critical moment in the geopolitics of the Balkan region, which presents possibilities to support democratic efforts underway there that deserve the support of the international community. I am also thrilled to join my colleagues in Sarajevo at the Strategic Analysis Initiative, a new think tank that seeks to address security questions and challenges not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in the broader Balkans region. I look forward to contributing to the work of this new, vital institute.”

Domi is a scholar and international affairs and human rights campaign strategist. She is a Media Skills Trainer & Consultant as well as a writer/journalist. Domi is a fellow at the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity, with the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, the Graduate Center, CUNY,

Blade Foundation names fall fellowship recipient

The Blade Foundation, a nonprofit that works to educate the next generation of queer journalists, named the recipient of its fall fellowship last week.

Omari Foote, a senior majoring in journalism at Howard University, joined the Foundation last week and will spend 12 weeks covering issues related to queerowned businesses in D.C.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to write for this trailblazing publication,” Foote said. “I can’t wait to get to work and begin highlighting LGBTQ businesses.”

The fellowship is funded through a grant from the D.C. Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

“Mayor Bowser and the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs firmly believe in supporting the next generation of queer journalism,” said Japer Bowles, director of the office. “The Washington Blade has been a bedrock for our LGBTQIA+ community for decades by providing us with crucial news that educate and inform us, but also inspire us to live openly and freely as queer folx. We look forward to the continued success of this fellowship program and the stories that come from engaging our vibrant LGBTQIA+ business community.”


and Alliance for Peacebuilding. She hosts “The Peace: We Build It!” a podcast for the Alliance.

Previously, she worked as an adjunct lecturer for Contemporary Global LGBTQ Human Rights with the Hunter College, Roosevelt Public Policy Institute. She was Harriman Institute Faculty Fellow at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Among other positions she has held, since 2013 Domi is an Asylum Consultant for LGBTI persons from the Balkans seeking asylum in the United States.

Domi has won many awards and has many publications to her name. She has been a guest lecturer at Columbia, Duke, Harvard, New York University, and the U.S. Army War College, among others institutions.

Congratulations also to Robert Connor on his award as Media Relations Titan, from PR News. It is awarded to communicators who have worked tirelessly to build strong relationships with journalists and influencers through all channels, including social networks, or succeeded at repositioning a brand through media outreach.

“I am honored to be named to the PR News, People of the Year list, as a Media Relations Titan,” Connor said. “My work as the media relations manager of Scott Circle Communications allows me to advise national organizations on how to effectively communicate about timely issues such as health care access, pending legislation, and cutting-edge

Delaware Stonewall PAC to celebrate 20 years

research. This past year, I paid particular attention to the issues affecting the LGBTQ community during Pride month. I was able to offer expert commentary through interviews in Forbes and Psychology Today, and I published LGBTQ communication guidelines through bylines in PR News and PR Daily. I remain passionate about the power of the media to elevate the voices of historically marginalized communities and to inspire changes in law and public policy.”

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares last week said school boards must adhere to the state’s new guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

Miyares in a letter to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin said the guidelines “comply with the Equal Protection Clause, Title IX and the VHRA” (the Virginia Human Rights Act) and “local school boards are required to adopt policies that are consistent with them.”

The Virginia Department of Education last month released the new guidelines.

Delaware Stonewall PAC, an organization that advocates for the LGBTQ community in Delaware, will celebrate its 20th anniversary at a reception to be held at Shrimpy’s Bar and Grill in Rehoboth Beach, on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 2-4 p.m.

“We will be honoring those who brought us this far,” said Dwayne Bensing, president of the PAC, “but we know that there are still battles ahead of us.”

In addition to honoring more than 50 officials who have served on the board, there will be a keynote speech by Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, the oldest LGBTQ newspaper in the U.S. Naff tells the story of where the LGBTQ movement has come in these 20 years in his new book, “How We Won the War for LGBTQ Equality — And How Our Enemies Could Take it All Away.”

“I’m honored to join the celebration of this important milestone in Delaware politics,” Naff said. “Indeed my Blade tenure coincides with the life of Stonewall PAC, so there’s much to discuss.”

Many of the state’s elected officials and candidates for public office are expected to attend.

One of the founders of the PAC, Peter Schott, said, “I cannot believe how far we have come … but I know our battle for full equality is not over.”

Admission to the event is available by going to delawarestonewall.org.


One section states “schools shall defer to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children.”

“Parents are in the best position to work with their children and, where appropriate, their children’s health care providers to determine (a) what names, nicknames and/or pronouns, if any, shall be used for their child by teachers and school staff while their child is at school, (b) whether their child engages in any counseling or social transition at school that encourages a gender that differs from their child’s sex, or (c) whether their child expresses a gender that differs with their child’s sex while at school,” it reads.

Another section notes “schools shall keep parents informed about their children’s well-being.”

The guidelines further state “schools shall serve the needs of all students” and the Virginia Department of Education “is committed to working with school divisions to ensure a positive, safe and nurturing learning environment for all students.”

The guidelines further state “single-user bathrooms and facilities should be made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage, indicating accessibility for all students.”

Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools have announced they will not implement the new guidelines. NBC Washington on Thursday reported Miyares’ opinion is “nonbinding.”


Va. schools must adhere to new trans guidelines: official
TANYA DOMI (Photo by Harold Levine) OMARI FOOTE
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LGBTQ groups participate in March on Washington 60th anniversary commemoration of historic event draws thousands

Thousands of activists and spectators attended the 60th Anniversary March on Washington on Saturday, Aug. 26. Advocates and leaders from labor unions, faith communities, political groups, and community organizations traveled to the Lincoln Memorial at the historic site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech to call for a continuation in the fight for racial justice and equality.

Several speakers at the rally included a call for LGBTQ equality as an integral part of the broader fight for social justice. Leaders of LGBTQ organizations were among the speakers at the Lincoln Monument. Notable LGBTQ speakers included activists Ollie Henry and Hope Giselle representing the National Black Justice Coalition; Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force; Stacey Stevenson, president and CEO of Family Equality; and Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Several speakers remarked upon the legacy of out gay activist and leader Bayard Rustin, the architect of the original 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

“I’m honored to be here among so many leaders, but especially the legacy of Bayard Rustin,” HRC President Robinson said in her remarks. “Bayard Rustin was the lead organizer for the first March on Washington and he led proudly and loudly as an out gay Black man, y’all. And I say that because the truth is that lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people: We are here today and we have always been here.”

“I have a simple request,” Robinson continued. “If you have a queer or trans child: love them and love them completely. If you have a Pride flag: fly it, waive it, and waive it proudly. And if you’ve got a vote: by God, use it.”

Task Force Executive Director Johnson spoke about the challenges facing members of the LGBTQ community, par-

ticularly those who live in the intersections of identities that face discrimination.

“Our lives are literally under attack,” Johnson said. “Our transgender, genderqueer and non-binary children are being targeted, religion has been weaponized to deny care and rights to our loved ones. The erosion of voting rights, the dehumanization of immigrants, the policing of Black and brown bodies and attempts to erase our contributions from the history books. And yet, here we are.”

Johnson continued, “We deserve congressional leaders that will pass essential, life-saving and affirming legislation like the EACH Act, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Renewing Immigration Provisions Act, and the expansion of civil rights in passing the Equality Act.”

In the pre-program speeches, non-binary activist Ollie Henry remarked, “The March on Washington has always been a march towards. A march towards actualizing the dreams our ancestors laid into each marble slab placed on this stolen soil. They had a dream to be seen, accepted and celebrated just as they are. Decades ago, queer folks in the movement were kept to the outskirts of our community’s garden. But today, we stand in the sunlight.”

Hope Giselle of Get Phluid and the GSA Network addressed the crowd.

“As I stand here, where 60 years ago someone believed in a dream, as a Black trans woman, my dream is to be able to walk around amongst my people at the very cookout that so many are invited to who don’t belong and feel safe,” she said. “My dream is that when I walk into my home, when I see the faces of the people that look like me, they are not turned up in disgust because of the way that I show up and that the con-

tributions that I and the rest of my community make toward the betterment of Blackness is accepted as valuable.”

“To stand on the steps where this beautiful speech was given and be acknowledged in the fullness of who I am both being Black and being a trans woman at the same time feels amazing,” Giselle told the Blade. “But I also feel like it’s commemorative of the message that Dr. King gave, which is one, I believe, about solidarity of all people and about the coming together of everyone for the rights of folks.”

Following the speeches, activists held signs and chanted in a march beginning at Lincoln Circle proceeding south on 23rd Street, N.W. The march continued along Independence Avenue and concluded at West Potomac Park near the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Questions remain after Rehoboth Beach marijuana ban Prohibits smoking, selling weed within town limits

Want to light up in Rehoboth Beach, Del.? If you want to smoke a joint, you’re out of luck.

Rehoboth Beach’s mayor and Board of Commissioners voted last week to ban the smoking of cannabis on public property within the city’s 1.6-square-mile limits – despite the possession of cannabis being legal in Delaware. One commissioner, Tim Bennett, abstained, while all others voted for the ban. The city took advantage of a provision that allows local governments to ban its sale.

The mayor and commissioners cited cannabis’ health benefits as the primary reason, noting that the Food and Drug Administration has only approved cannabis-derived medications for rare seizures and researchers’ warnings that cannabis use or exposure can harm adolescents’ brain development, harming their memory, learning coordination, reaction time, and judgement. Commissioner Jay Lagree added a comment from a resident as further proof: A mall in Williamsburg, she said, had turned into a no-go zone for her after a cannabis store set up shop. Now, it’s filled with “unsavory” people, Lagree summarized.

After banning smoking marijuana in public places, the Rehoboth Beach Board of Commissioners and mayor Stan Mills went ahead with a ban on recreational cannabis sales in Rehoboth. Dewey Beach and Ocean City have already banned recreational cannabis stores, the mayor pointed out, so it is important to follow suit.

“I would not want them to be able to say, ‘Oh just go a quarter mile north to Rehoboth Beach and they’ll take care

of your needs,’” he said.

“Raise parking to $10 an hour,” Bennett, the commissioner, joked.

“Outside the dispensaries,” Mills said and laughed.

A cannabis business manager couldn’t convince the officials otherwise. Columbia Care General Manager Laurie Golem said that the business has served 15,000 patients up and down Delaware and provides 100 jobs for Delawareans.

She also claimed three quarters of consumers buy cannabis to improve their health, treating disorders like insomnia and anxiety and providing pain relief. The Blade was unable to find that study, but a study commissioned by cannabis retailer Curaleaf found that around half of all adults polled had used cannabis before. Of those that had used cannabis before, it reported, more than 90% would consider using it for wellness and health. The study polled 2,000 Americans, though it is not clear how respondents were selected. It did not respond to the Blade’s questions.

But can the city enforce the ban on smoking weed?

When a resident asked that question at a July meeting, he did not get a direct answer. Commissioner Toni Sharp noted that the city already has enforcement issues, but the new city manager was stepping up to the plate to fix it.

Commissioner Sharp signaled tepid opposition to the bill, saying she didn’t want to pass any legislation that burdened a police department missing half of its cadets, four dispatchers, and three full-time officers.

“I believe we have our hands full here in Rehoboth with issues that we would like to improve and we may steer clear of this,” she said.

Still, about a month later, she voted to pass the ban on smoking weed in public places. After publication, the city told the Blade that it had arrested or cited 159 people for cannabis possession since January 2021. It did not provide statistics on the number of people written up for smoking cannabis or tobacco on public property.

Adding to the challenge of enforcing the city code might be the Delaware Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in Juliano v. State that the smell of cannabis is not sufficient cause to arrest a person on suspicion of violating the law. Whether this applies to this situation isn’t clear, though, because police are already banned from arresting people for civil violations like smoking weed in a no-smoking area. Rehoboth’s police department first told the Blade through a city spokesperson that it was unfamiliar with the case and the city’s police chief did not respond to the Blade’s call. After publication, Lt. Jaime Riddle said in a statement that the case doesn’t apply because the case only applies to arrests, not stops.

“The odor of marijuana coming from a person who is smoking it, remains probable cause to conduct a stop as it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public,” Riddle wrote.

Thousands of activists and spectators attended the 60th Anniversary March on Washington beginning at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, Aug. 26. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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D.C. gay couple robbed, pistol whipped but U.S. Attorney has yet to prosecute Victim says attackers shouted anti-gay slurs, hit him in face with gun last year

A D.C. gay man says an official with the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia last week explained to him why the office has yet to prosecute two male suspects identified by D.C. police who allegedly assaulted and robbed him and his partner at gunpoint near their home while yelling anti-gay slurs more than a year ago.

The gay man, who asked to be identified by his first name, Michael, said the incident took place shortly after midnight on Jan. 8, 2022, as he and his partner, who has also asked to be identified by his first name, Christopher, were walking home at the intersection of 4th and N streets, N.W., when two men wearing ski masks and brandishing handguns approached them and demanded their money.

According to Michael, the official with the U.S. Attorney’s office, whom he declined to identify, told him the delay in prosecuting the case was due to a lack of sufficient evidence to bring the suspects identified by police to trial. But he said the official told him the case remains open and under investigation.

Michael described the incident in detail in an Aug. 1 letter he mailed to Matthew W. Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who serves as the city’s lead prosecutor.

He urged Graves in his letter to take steps to prosecute the case using information he and Christopher provided police, including the license plate number of the suspects’ getaway car and purchases made with a credit card stolen from the couple during the robbery. Michael provided a copy of the letter to the Washington Blade.

“Two men confronted us yelling homophobic slurs then robbed us at gunpoint,” Michael told Graves in his letter. “During this time, I was also pistol whipped in the face before the two escaped in a getaway car,” he wrote. “To my dismay, it has been more than a year since the incident occurred, and no progress has been made prosecuting the offenders,” he told Graves in his Aug. 1 letter.

Michael points to a D.C. police report confirming that police obtained what they believed was sufficient probable cause to obtain a warrant for the arrest of at least two suspects they identified in their investigation. The police report says the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined the police request for the warrant.

But the report does not list the incident as a hate crime, and a police spokesperson told the Blade that the two victims never told police investigators that the suspects called them anti-gay names. Michael and Christopher told the Blade they thought they mentioned the anti-gay name calling to police, but they acknowledge they may not have done so following the trauma of being robbed at gunpoint.

Michael told the Blade that the official with the U.S. Attorney’s office for the first time informed him in an Aug. 25 phone conversation that the delay in prosecuting the case was due to difficulty in definitively identifying the two suspects who robbed him and Christopher and a third suspect who drove the getaway car based on just the license number and credit card information.

“She said since they had multiple people in the vehicle, and because the gunmen were masked, they are having a hard time linking the credit card/phone information to the car’s license plate,” Michael said the official told him. “They have to specifically know who did what part of the crime to charge them,” he attributed the official as saying.

Michael said in an Aug. 28 phone interview with the Blade that he told the U.S. Attorney’s office official that he

wants the office to prosecute the case, but he is doubtful the office will do so based on what the official told him.

The office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C. has a longstanding policy of not publicly disclosing its reasons for not prosecuting cases like this one.

Patricia Hartman, a spokesperson for the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office, when contacted by the Blade, declined to comment on the case, saying, “We can neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigations.”

The Blade will update this story to include any explanation the U.S. Attorney’s office decides to publicly disclose for its reason for not prosecuting this case.

Christopher, Michael’s partner, told the Blade one of the two suspects that robbed the two men began touching and grabbing his crotch in an “unwelcome action” toward him as the suspect was checking his pants pockets for a wallet or any other belonging that the two suspects intended to steal from the two men as the armed robbery unfolded.

The man who touched his crotch did so after he pointed a gun at his chest, Christopher said.

The D.C. police report for the incident obtained by the Washington Blade says that in addition to taking the two men’s wallets, at least $100 in cash, and credit cards, the armed gunmen took Christopher’s Canada Goose jacket, which the report says had an estimated value of $1,500.

The police report includes the notation, “Prosecution Declined (May 4, 2022).”

The report, however, also states that the incident is not listed as a suspected hate crime.

D.C. police spokesperson Paris Lewbel provided a statement to the Blade saying the two men did not tell the officers responding to the scene of the incident or detectives in follow-up interviews that the suspects called them anti-gay names.

“We have reviewed the BWC [Body Worn Camera] footage of the officers who responded to the scene and interviewed the two victims of the crime,” the police statement says. “They never told officers that the suspects made any statement or anti-gay remarks,” it says.

“In a review of follow-up interviews by detectives, they also never stated the suspects made any statement,” the statement continues. “Had they told the responding officers or detectives, this case would have been classified as a Hate Crime,” it says.

The statement adds, “The detectives conducted a complete and exhaustive investigation of this offense, and based on probable cause, they submitted arrest warrants to the United States Attorney’s Office; after a review, the USAO declined to pursue charges at that time, and MPD closed the case administratively.”

The police statement concludes by saying, “We cannot comment about USAO’s decision and refer you to them for

additional information.

Both Michael and Christopher told the Blade they thought they told police about the anti-gay slurs made by the two suspects who robbed them, but they now believe they may not have disclosed that information under the stress and anxiety they experienced after having been robbed at gunpoint.

“I think we were mostly just in shock at the moment,” Christopher told the Blade in a phone interview. “I don’t know if we focused on that,” he said in recalling that he and Michael were questioned by police officers at the time of the incident for about two hours.

“I’m used to being called a faggot,” Christopher added. “I’m not fazed by that anymore,” he said, pointing out that those feelings and the stress at the moment may have prompted him not to raise the issue of the anti-gay slurs by the two suspects.

Spokespersons for the D.C. police and the U.S. Attorney’s office did not respond to a question by the Blade on whether they might bring a hate crime charge against the suspects if the case is eventually prosecuted.

Under the D.C. hate crimes law as recently amended, hatred need not be the only motive for the underlying crime for which a hate crime designation could be added. Although armed robbery was the underlying crime in this case, prosecutors can add a hate crime designation if they believe there is sufficient evidence to do so.

Michael states in his letter to U.S. Attorney Graves that he and Christopher provided D.C. police with a photo of the rear of the getaway car capturing the license plate number after the two suspects entered the car with a third person driving the vehicle. Christopher said he took the photo with his phone that the suspects, for unknown reasons, did not take. They took Michael’s phone but minutes later tossed it out the window of the getaway car as it drove off.

According to Michael’s letter to Graves, he and Christopher promptly reported the incident to D.C. police, provided police with the photo of the car license number and subsequently provided police with information about how one of the credit cards stolen from them was used to order food through a food delivery service.

“With the help of online account information provided by the food delivery service, MPD told us they had enough telephonic evidence to corroborate our stories and for an arrest warrant,” Michael says in the letter.

Defense attorneys familiar with this type of case have said “probable cause” by itself may not be sufficient to convince a jury to render a verdict of guilty. Defense attorneys point to the requirement under criminal law that prosecutors must convince a jury that someone is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a more stringent criteria than probable cause.

Michael said one or more of the detectives involved in the case told him they believed the evidence obtained from the license plate number of the getaway car, the use of at least one stolen credit card, and information from the food delivery service DoorDash that one of the suspects made purchases through the stolen credit card was substantial enough to charge the suspects, who Michael said the detectives declined to identify by name.

“I do believe that even if one could not prove armed robbery beyond a reasonable doubt, other illegal acts, such as credit card fraud, could be proven,” Michael said in his letter to Graves.

A gay couple says they were robbed and pistol whipped while being called anti-gay slurs last year.



EXCLUSIVE: Meet director of Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health

Dr. Fan Liang on politicizing healthcare, fear among patients

The topic of gender affirming healthcare has never attracted more attention or scrutiny, presenting challenges for both patients and providers, including Dr. Fan Liang, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender and Gender Expansive Health and assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Speaking with the Washington Blade by phone last week, Liang shared her perspective on a variety of topics, including her concerns about the ways in which media organizations and others have shaped the discourse about gender affirming care.

Too often, she said, the public is provided incomplete or inaccurate information, framed with politically charged and polarizing language rather than balanced and nuanced reporting for the benefit of audiences who might have little to no familiarity with the topics at hand.

“This is an evolving field that requires input from many different types of specialists,” Liang noted, so one issue comes when providers “start to comment outside of their scope of practice, or extrapolate into everybody’s experience.”

A more intractable and difficult problem, Liang said, is presented by the fact that, “issues with transgender health have really taken center stage with regard to national politics, and as a result of that, the narrative has really been reduced to an unsophisticated representation of what’s going on.”

“I think that is dangerous for patients and for the community that these patients live in and have to work in and survive in because it paints a picture that is really inaccurate,” she said.

Conservative state legislatures across the country have introduced a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills this year, passing dozens, including a slew of anti-trans healthcare restrictions. The Human Rights Campaign reports 35.1 percent of transgender youth now live in states that have passed bans on gender affirming care, many of which carry criminal penalties for providers.

A big part of the Center’s work, Liang told the Blade, involves working closely with trans patients and organizations like Trans Maryland and the Trans Rights Advocacy Coalition “to make sure that the community’s voices are being heard, so that we’re able to represent those interests here.”

She described “a generalized sense of anxiety and fear,” concerns that she said are “pervasive throughout the community,” over “access to surgery and to overall gender healthcare.”

“I get a lot of questions about that,” she said.

While Liang has not yet worked with any patients who traveled to the Center because gender affirming care was banned in the states where they reside, she said, “I do anticipate that will happen in the relatively near future.”

Challenges for clinicians

The political climate “really interferes in physician autonomy and basically using our training and discretion to provide the best therapies that we can,” based on research and

evidence-based guidelines from medical organizations on best practices standards of care, Liang said.

“I earnestly believe that people who go into medicine try to do right by their patients and try to provide exceptional care whenever they can,” she said. “When I speak to other providers who are engaged in trans care, the reason they entered the field was because they saw patients that were suffering and had no other providers to go to and they were filling a need that desperately needed to be filled.”

“It is unfortunate that their motives are being misinterpreted, because it is causing significant emotional harm to these providers who are being targeted,” Liang said, noting “there is so much vitriol from the anti-trans side of things,” including “this narrative out there that physicians are providing trans care because of financial reasons or because of some sort of politically motivated, I don’t know, conspiracy.” The political climate, along with the realities of practicing in this speciality, may threaten to stem the pipeline of new providers whose practice would otherwise include gender affirming care, said Liang, who serves on the interview board for incoming residents who are looking to specialize in plastic surgery.

Many, perhaps even most, she said, are eager to explore transgender care, often because, particularly among young trainees, they are friends with trans and non-binary people. “I don’t know how much of that interest persists as they move through the training pipeline, because — especially if they are at an institution that does provide trans care — they do see a lot of the struggles that physicians encounter in being able to offer these services.”

Liang noted the “significant hurdles from an insurance standpoint” and the “significant prerequisites in order to access surgery,” which require “a tremendous amount of back-end coordination and optimization of the logistics for surgical readiness.”

“And then,” she said, “they see a lot of the backlash in the media against trans providers, and I think that that does discourage residents who otherwise would be interested in the field because physicians, by and large, are a pretty conservative bunch. And having them start their practice where they’re sort of stepping into a political minefield is not ideal.”

“Some physicians feel like they can make the most amount of impact by being advocates for the patient population on a national stage or being more vocal about how anti-trans legislation has been impacting their patients,” Liang said.

“My goal, as the director for the Center for Transgender Health here at Hopkins is really to normalize this care to allow for the open conversation and discussion amongst providers to create a safe space for people to feel comfortable providing this care,” she said.

De-stigmatizing gender affirming care and connecting clinicians who practice in this space will help these providers understand they are not “functioning in isolation” and instead are part of “a national effort and a nationally con-

certed effort toward delivering state-of-the-art health care,” Liang said.

“It’s important,” she said, to “bring the generalized healthcare community to the table in offering these services and have a frank discussion when it comes to education, research and teaching.”

Other providers, however, “do not feel comfortable putting themselves into that place of vulnerability,” Liang said, “and I don’t fault them for it because I personally know people who’ve received death threats and who have been targeted because of what they say to the media,” in many cases because their comments were reported incorrectly or out of context.

In July, Liang participated in an emergency trans rights roundtable on Capitol Hill with representatives from advocacy groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Transgender Law Center, as well as members of Congress including U.S. Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.).

She told the Blade it was “a really wonderful experience” to “hear the heartfelt stories” of the panelists advocating on behalf of themselves, their friends, and their families, earning the attention of members of Congress.

“I do think advocacy is important,” Liang told the Blade. “I try to make time for it when I can,” she said, “but I have to balance that with all of my other clinical obligations.”

On Aug. 1, The Baltimore Banner reported that the director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs in Baltimore filed a discrimination complaint with the city’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights against the Hopkins Center for Transgender and Gender Expansive Health. (The story was also published by the Washington Blade, which has a media partnership with the Banner.)

Asked for comment, Liang said “it was an upsetting article to read,” adding, “I was upset that there wasn’t more due diligence done to investigate a little bit further” because instead the article presents “just this one person’s account of things.”

She noted there is “not much I can say from a physician standpoint because everything is contained within HIPAA,” the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which prohibits providers from even acknowledging which patients they may or may not have worked with.

The Banner article underscores the importance of journalists’ obligations to “make sure there is due diligence to confirm sources and make sure things are accurate,” Liang said, including, of course, when covering complicated and politically fraught subjects like gender affirming care.

“On the one hand, it’s really wonderful that there’s a fair amount of press being dedicated to trans issues around the country,” Liang said, but what is “frustrating for me is these conversations always seem to be so loaded and politically charged, and there doesn’t seem to be much space for people to ask earnest and honest questions” without taking heat from either side.

There is “compassion to be offered for patients who are struggling to receive basic health care” as well as for “people who are struggling to understand how this issue is evolving,” those for whom the matter is “uncharted territory” and therefore likely to “cause consternation and fear,” she said.

“Most of the time, the way to overcome” this is to cultivate “relationships with people who do identify as transgender or non-binary” on the grassroots level, she said, while leaving room “for people to ask earnest and honest questions.”

‘I do think advocacy is important … but I have to balance that with all of my other clinical obligations,’ said Dr. FAN LIANG (Photo courtesy of Fan Liang)

Prosecutors dismiss case against suspect in 2017 murder of D.C. trans man

Distraught mother of victim is told lead witness went missing

At the request of prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney, a D.C. Superior Court judge on Aug. 17 dismissed a charge of first-degree murder and two gun related charges against a D.C. man arrested for the 2017 shooting death of a transgender man in a Southeast D.C. apartment where police say both men were living.

Court records show Akihs Gaius Green, 42, was found shot in the head execution style on March 1, 2017, in an apartment where he and the man charged with shooting him, Jordan Smith, 36, and Smith’s girlfriend, had been living at 212 Wayne Place, S.E.

Green died from the gunshot wound more than four months later on July 21, 2017, court records show. Charging documents show that D.C. police initially charged Smith with second-degree murder on Nov. 9, 2017, following an investigation into the incident.

At the request of prosecutors, a grand jury on June 11, 2018, indicted Smith on charges of First-Degree Murder While Armed, Possession of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm (Prior Conviction). Court records show Smith had a prior conviction of illegal possession of a gun.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office did not respond to a request by the Washington Blade for an explanation of why its prosecutors decided to dismiss the case. The office has a longstanding policy of not publicly disclosing its reasons for dismissing cases or not prosecuting cases.

Green’s mother, Vickie McNeal, told the Blade prosecutors in the case informed her last week that the lead prosecution witness in the case could not be found and they did not believe they could obtain a conviction at Smith’s trial, which was scheduled to begin on Sept. 12.

An affidavit in support of Smith’s arrest says the lead witness, identified only as Witness 2, was believed to have been Smith’s girlfriend. The affidavit says Smith and Green reportedly had been staying at her apartment at the time of the shooting.

McNeal said she believes Green, who was a friend of Witness 2, was visiting the apartment on the night of the shoot-

ing but was not living there.

The arrest affidavit says Witness 2 told police she saw Smith pull out a gun after he got into an argument with Green and she heard three shots fired, but she didn’t see who fired the gun. Another witness, according to the arrest affidavit, told police Witness 2 told that witness that she saw Smith shoot Green.

But Witness 2 denied she said that and has insisted she did not witness the shooting, the affidavit states. The affidavit also states that Witness 2 told police she was high on PCP at the time of the incident and her memory of what happened was unclear.

McNeal said prosecutors called her and visited her home to inform her of the decision to dismiss the case. She said their visit and phone call came after they informed her in June that the case was moving forward, and they were ready for the upcoming trial.

Among those who called and came to her home to tell her the case was dropped, McNeal said, were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marybeth Manfeda and David Gorman, and witness-victim specialist Jennifer Clark.

“They were just saying they couldn’t find the witness,” McNeal told the Blade. “And I said the United States can find anybody they want to find. So, you can’t tell me they can’t find her. Because I say nothing has been done.”

Added McNeal, “I was hollering and crying and screaming for hours and made myself sick” shortly after being informed the case against the man she believes murdered her transgender child had been dropped.

The arrest affidavit says Smith told detectives who questioned him that his girlfriend and Green had been in a relationship at one time, but his girlfriend told him they were just friends at the time of the shooting. That raised speculation that Smith’s motive for the shooting could have been jealousy over his girlfriend having a relationship with Green.

But McNeal said she is convinced the motive for the murder was Smith’s anti-gay and anti-trans bias.

“He’s a hater,” she said. “He’s a hater of homosexual women. He’s homophobic and transgender phobic.”

Veteran D.C. defense attorney Cheryl Stein, at the Blade’s request, reviewed some of the court records for the case against Smith before it was dismissed on Aug. 17.

“Because I do not have access to most of the relevant pleadings in the case, I cannot give a definitive explanation of why the government dismissed the case,” she told the Blade. “But based on the documents that I have reviewed, it is clear to me that the prosecution determined that it simply didn’t have enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said.

Stein noted that the defense raised serious questions about the credibility of the lead witness in the case, Witness 2, by citing her statements to police that she was on PCP at the time of the incident.

“When questioned right after the murder, she said she had no memory of the events,” Stein points out. “When a witness is so altered by drugs or alcohol that it affects their ability to accurately perceive and/or remember what they witnessed, they are disqualified from testifying,” she said. “Without that witness, the prosecution cannot possibly prove its case.”

Stein also points to court records showing the defense raised in a motion to “Suppress Tangible Evidence and Statements” that police allegedly violated Smith’s Miranda rights to remain silent when police took him into custody and obtained statements from him that could be incriminating.

“If those facts are correct, then nothing he said could be introduced at trial,” Stein said.

Anti-trans Republican running against Roem

Virginia state Sen. Danica Roem (D-Manassas)’s Republican opponent in her state Senate race continues to highlight his opposition to transgender rights.

Bill Woolf’s consulting company, Woolf Group Strategic Solutions, in an April 15 Facebook post noted the Biden-Harris administration “has proposed a rule change that would make transgender sports bans illegal under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination at educational institutions that receive federal funding.” The post invites organizations to contact his company if they need “assistance or guidance in submitting a public comment.”

Woolf on April 21 liked a tweet from the Republican Party of Virginia that defended House Resolution 734.

“HB 734 does not ban trans students from competing on school sports teams,” reads the tweet in response to Virginia Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan’s statement about why she voted against HB 734. “It simply says that students must compete on the teams that correspond with their biological sex.”

Woolf on April 20 liked an anti-transgender tweet the Redheaded Libertarian posted.

“Telling a child he or she is ‘born in the wrong body’ is one of the more sinister evils in our society,” wrote the Redheaded Libertarian. “How are you going to tell a child, in all her wonder and innocence, that she was a mistake, who needs to be ‘fixed’ with drugs. mutilation

and sterilization?”

Woolf on March 11 spoke at a human trafficking forum the Catholic Diocese of Arlington organized.

“When we start taking about the gender identity issues, we get into some pretty controversial stuff, but the reality is that because of the confusion that society is causing with our young people — particularly those that, you know, are being told to identify as a certain way — is making them even more vulnerable to the traffickers,” said Woolf. “There’s been many boys, both that I’ve worked with and that some of my colleagues have worked with that have been victimized, that were told — they were convinced by the trafficker that they had a same-sex attraction when really they didn’t and after coming out of that trafficking scenario, once they were able to escape they were able to come forward and say no, that’s not who I was, but I was manipulated into believing that.”

Woolf on Aug. 15 said he is “100 percent committed to passing Sage’s Law,” a bill that would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents.

AKIHS GAIUS GREEN was shot to death in 2017. (Photo via Facebook) Virginia state Sen. DANICA ROEM (D-Manassas) (Blade file photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)

Canada warns its LGBTQ citizens about traveling to U.S.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Deputy Canadian Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that Global Affairs Canada has updated its travel advisory for the U.S. for LGBTQ Canadians.

The new advisory reads “some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws,” and directs people to a web page that CBC reported provides broad information on how members of the community could be targeted while travelling to foreign countries.

That advice tells travelers to beware of laws that criminalize same-sex activities and relationships, or target people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

That advice also warns travelers that laws to curb vagrancy and public nuisance incidents could also be used to target them in an effort “to criminalize 2SLGBTQI+ people.”

During the press briefing Freeland said she supported the decision to update the travel advice but would not comment on whether U.S. President Joe Biden was informed before the update was made.

“Every Canadian government, very much including our government, needs to put at the center of everything we do the interests and the safety of every single Canadian,

and of every single group of Canadians,” she said. “That’s what we’re doing now. That’s what we’re always going to do.”

Freeland also told reporters that as a former foreign affairs minister, she’s confident that travel advisories appear-

ing on the Global Affairs Canada website are “done very professionally.”

“We have professionals in the government whose job is to look carefully around the world and to monitor whether there are particular dangers to particular groups of Canadians. That’s their job and it’s the right thing to do,” the deputy prime minister added.

In a media statement released by Global Affairs Canada, the department said:

“Since the beginning of 2023, certain states in the U.S. have passed laws banning drag shows and restricting the transgender community from access to gender affirming care and from participation in sporting events. The information is provided to enable travelers to make their own informed decisions regarding destinations. Outside Canada, laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics can be very different from those in Canada.”

The American Civil Liberties Union is tracking 495 anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S. for the 2023 legislative year in over half of the U.S., a majority that would impact LGBTQ Canadian travelers.

Texas GOP bans Log Cabin from state convention

Richard Grenell, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence during the Trump administration, urged the Texas GOP to lift its ban on the conservative LGBTQ group Log Cabin Republicans.

“The Texas Republican Party bans Logcabin, the gay conservative group with 80 chapters across the US,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Texas is the only state that bans us from their state convention.”

Grenell, whose post came in response to the news announced Friday by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) that

his state will host the 2028 Republican National Convention, added the convention “should not be in Texas if this ban remains.”

Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi responded with a gif of The Lone Star Flag waving in the wind.

Asked for comment, Log Cabin Republicans President Charles Moran shared a post by the group on X that reads, “Inclusion wins. @TexasGOP has fi ve years to get it right…clock starts now.”

Abortion dominates first GOP 2024 debate

Among the non-economic issues discussed by the eight candidates who appeared on stage last week for the first Republican Party 2024 presidential primary debate, abortion loomed larger than other topics, including LGBTQ rights.

The Fox News moderators asked each GOP hopeful to share their positions on a federal law governing access to the procedure, with only two – South Carolina’s U.S. Senator Tim Scott and former Vice President Mike Pence – pledging to support a 15-week ban.

“We cannot let states like California, New York, and Illinois have abortions on demand up until the day of birth,” said Scott, who called the 15-week limit the “minimum” restriction he would support.

The proposal is “an idea whose time has come,” Pence said, adding, “We appointed three conservatives to the Supreme Court who gave Americans a new beginning for the right to life,” a reference to last year’s Dobbs decision overturning the constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade.

Former President Donald Trump, who appointed those justices, did not attend the debate. The latest polls show he is leading the other candidates by a wide margin, with 56 percent support among likely Republican primary voters compared to 10 percent each for the candidates tied for second place, both of whom participated in the de-

bate: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Hours before the event began, the South Carolina Supreme Court allowed the legislature’s six-week abortion ban to take effect. The state’s former Gov. Nikki Haley, who also served as U.N. ambassador under Trump, struck a more measured tone — asserting that she is “unapologetically pro-life” but lamenting that the High Court’s “unelected justices did not need to decide something this personal.”

Haley accused her rivals of misrepresenting the political challenges that would come with passage of a federal ban, which would require a 60-vote majority in the Senate that she stated is not a realistic expectation.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who had signed a six-week abortion ban, came out against proposals for a federal prohibition by the Congress.

Also sharing the stage were former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The debate was moderated by Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

“In Florida, we eliminated critical race theory from our K-12 schools, we eliminated gender ideology from our K-12 schools,” DeSantis said. “We need education in this country, not indoctrination in this country.”

Haley again reiterated her opposition to allowing trans-

gender girls to compete on girls’ sports teams, proclaiming that “biological boys don’t belong in locker rooms of any of our girls,” an issue that Fox host MacCallum noted, Haley had once called “the women’s issue of our time.”

“In North Dakota, we’ve made a priority of protecting women’s sports, and we’ve done that in our state,” Burgum said, referencing the anti-trans sports ban he signed in April. At the same time, he hedged that “the idea that every school district and state and every teacher is somehow indoctrinating people is just false.”

In his closing statements, Ramaswamy said “there are two genders,” along with other proclamations like “God is real,” “reverse racism is racism,” and “The nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to man.”

Other references to LGBTQ issues were more ambiguous.

Haley, for instance, said “There’s a lot of crazy woke things happening in these schools,” arguing “We need transparency in the classroom because parents should never have to wonder what’s being said or taught to their children in the classroom.”

“If God made you a man, you play sports against men,” Scott said in his closing statement, a possible reference to policies allowing transgender student athletes to compete on teams consistent with their gender identities.

Deputy Canadian Prime Minister CHRYSTIA FREELAND (center wearing white sweater) at this year’s Toronto Pride. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian government) Log Cabin Republicans President CHARLES MORAN (Blade photo by Michael Key)
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is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

Prisoner 01135809 wins

debate without showing up Trump casts long shadow over sorry lot of GOP hopefuls

Those who dream of having Donald Trump behind bars at least now have the first step: a mug shot and a prisoner number assigned. I must admit when I saw the mug shot and the prisoner number, I kept thinking of the song in “Les Misérables” where he sings, “I am Jean Valjean 24601” only this time it would be “I am Donald Trump 01135809” and we would hope Javert wouldn’t let him go, or in this case one of the juries, in one of the cases, would hold him accountable for his crimes and maybe send him to prison. Interesting no one has yet to figure out where the Secret Service would be placed while he is in his cell.

Like Jean Valjean, I can imagine Trump on the run. The only difference is he would never do anything good for anyone. Maybe he would run to Russia to be with his friend Vladimir Putin, or try to get Benjamin Netanyahu to invite him to Israel. Though by then Netanyahu may also be in jail, where he belongs. He clearly couldn’t run to England where recently there was a poll and Donald Trump is the most disliked thing about the United States.

I did not watch the Republican debate, but have read about it, and seen numerous video clips. They verified for me I was smart not to waste two hours of my time watching. The video clips showed Vivek Ramaswarmy with a shit-eating grin, emulating Trump’s 2016 campaign strategy. The outsider with no experience, claiming that was a good thing for the country. He is also the most ‘America First’ candidate, with Ron DeSantis a close second. A big difference, which must have bothered Trump, is Vivek has bigger hands. He kept waiving his fingers around as if to prove it. It is hard to fathom Americans would get suckered in again by someone like that, but then we must remember he was playing to Republicans, and they are a Trump cult. I keep thinking if he loses again will Trump do a Jim Jones and ask his followers to die by suicide, and would they?

As I write this, polls taken immediately following the debate like a Washington Post poll showed Republicans in Iowa think DeSantis did the best with 29%, followed by Ramaswarmy with 26%, and Haley at 15%. Another JL Partners poll had Ramaswamy at 28% and DeSantis at 27%. All the others were in low single digits. It will be interesting how the debate impacts their overall polling numbers in a couple of weeks.

From the columns I read, and Republicans interviewed after the debate, it seems the clear winner was Donald Trump, who wasn’t there. We will see if he goes down in the next Iowa poll. Nationally the big winner had to be President Biden, who just looks so much better compared to all the nasty clowns running for the Republican nomination. There were a few good clips, which Democrats can surely use in their commercials. One was Haley blaming Trump and Republicans for $8 trillion of deficits while he was president. Then there are Chris Christie’s attacks on Trump, and even on Ramaswamy, when he said he sounded like a GPTchat. We must remember there will be two more of these shit-shows, aka debates, before Republicans start their primary

Apparently nearly 13 million people tuned into the debate on Fox News, more than anyone predicted. And reports said there were well over 100 million clicks on X, formerly Twitter, for the Tucker Carlson interview with Trump. We know both those numbers can mean so many things. How long anyone watched, or listened. Were many of them Democrats just curious to hear the opposition, or Republicans who are Trump supporters just confirming their votes and seeing who was going to attack their cult leader? One thing we did find out was that if Trump gets convicted in any of his cases, seven of the eight people on the debate stage would still support him if he is the candidate. Even Christie raised his hand and then tried to weasel out of it. But then to be eligible to be in the debate candidates had to agree to support the eventual Republican candidate.

So we live in uncharted territory, and will continue to do so for a long time. Remember, it is more than five months until the first Republican primary, or caucus in Iowa, and the Republican Convention, which will be held in Milwaukee, is still 11 months away.



LOS ANGELES – My favorite quote is from former South African President Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” in which President Mandela wrote:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

These days more-so than ever before, that thought is so true and applicable to the great battles being waged by American conservatives against other Americans. It is an unceasing war where innocents, children mainly, lose their lives and in many cases their souls to the hatred espoused by the right.

I’ve gone from being a political journalist to being a war correspondent reporting on the casualties of this war as good people, decent people, are killed or die by suicide because they have lost all hope.

Last month, a beloved member of a small tight-knit community in the San Bernardino Mountains adjacent to Lake Arrowhead lost her life to the hate that has consumed the cultural and political landscape of the United States.

Laura Ann Carleton was murdered by a 27-year-old man, who had been exposed to a steady diet of homophobic and transphobic hatred, lies, and propaganda that culminated in his anger taking the life of Carleton, a mother of nine children in a blended family, a loving wife of nearly three decades, and a beloved business owner who was an integral part of the community of Cedar Lake.

His hatred of the LGBTQ community was documented by Sheriff’s investigators and journalists reviewing his social media history and posts.

The reason Carleton was cut down you ask? Because she was an important and steadfast ally of the LGBTQ community who proudly displayed her commitment to this besieged minority communit b in the s mbol of its spirit a ride a publicl outside at her place of busi ness.

he was murdered for in a ride a let that sin in for a moment.

anadian writer ournalist novelist and antholo ist ichael Rowe re ectin on this heinous crime wrote in a Facebook Post on Aug. 21:

“Quick exercise: take the phrase, “these are good, decent people who simply take issue with the LGBTQIA lifestyle,” and substitute literally any other minority group for “LGBTQIA.” What happens then? When you do that, are they still “good decent people?” Maybe ask Carleton’s annihilated husband and her now-motherless children.

“As for me, I’m tired of the “thoughts and prayers” sop, and I’m tired of bigoted straight people’s primitive religious superstitions—pardon me, “religious freedoms”—taking precedence over the safety and freedom of queer people and their allies. And I’m especially bone-tired of the people who hate us being accorded the “good, decent people” designation in “debates” about our humanity, just because, apparently, in the general consensus, “alphabet people” still don’t really rate.”

I’m in complete agreement with my journalist colleague and likely more so than bone-tired as I have literally like many in the LGBTQ movement and community been on the front lines waging this warfare against a segment of society who actually don’t possess a shred of humanity.

Recently, the war has been focused on “parental rights,” directed at the LGBTQ community, most especially transgender and queer youth, in a campaign of terrorism designed to erase trans outh from e istence. he ri ht wants to forcibl in ict pain and sufferin all in the name of “their” rights as parents to raise their children but the consideration for other people’s children be damned.

These campaigns are at a local level, school boards, state legislative bodies, all in what arguabl is clearl defined as stochastic terrorism. et me uic l trot out the definition of that term for those unaware:

“Stochastic terrorism is the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act which is statisticall probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted.

is editor of the Los Angeles Blade.
I’m a war correspondent, reporting on endless anti-LGBTQ violence
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Charles Busch reflects on the paths he didn’t


in new book

‘Leading Lady’ a riveting memoir from legendary entertainer

“Charles, I’m telling you, I go to plays in rat-infested basements where I’m the only one who shows up,” the late queer icon Joan Rivers once told the queer, legendary playwright, actor, director, novelist, cabaret performer and drag icon, Charles Busch. “I can see the actors peeking through the curtain and groaning, ‘Oh God, that old bitch in the fur coat is here. Does that mean we’ve gotta go on?’” Busch reminded Rivers that she’d seen him perform in a rat-infested basement.

This is just one of the many stories that Busch, born in 1954, tells in his riveting memoir, “Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy,” which comes out on Sept. 12.

“Leading Lady” is a page-turner. Some of its tales of Busch’s life and career, such as his account of a Christmas party with Rivers as a guest, are dishy. Others, like his memories of trying to care for his beloved Aunt Lil, when he knew she was dying, would make even the Wicked Witch in Oz tear up.

The memoir, is, as Busch says on his website (charlesbusch.com), the story of “a talented artist’s Oz-like journey.”

“Leading Lady” isn’t linear. This isn’t a detriment. Busch deftly intertwines memories of his life and career from his mom dying when he was seven to being raised by his loving Aunt Lil to being the author and star of the cult classic “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” to watching Kim Novak handle fans to being the Tony-nominated writer of “Tales of the Allergist’s Wife” to being creative during the pandemic.

“Storytelling is a huge part of my life,” Busch told the Blade in a lengthy phone interview, “I get into various adventures and, I think, this could be a good story to tell.”

Interviewing Busch is like chatting with a fab storyteller over coffee or a glass of wine. Except that you’re talking to a legend who’s entertained and inspired queers (and discerning hetero audiences) for decades. (I’m wearing my “Vampire” T-shirt as I write this.)

As a playwright, Busch writes “linear” plays, with a beginning, middle and an end, he said. As a cabaret singer, “the way I sing songs is telling a story,” Busch said.

Since childhood, he’s been creating vivid scenes in his imagination. From early on, Busch has felt as if he’s both a spectator and star in the movie of his life.

It seemed inevitable that he’d write a memoir. It’s the ultimate form of storytelling. “You reach a certain point in your life,” Busch said, “where you’re more reflective and see your life as a whole.”

“You reflect on the paths you didn’t take,” he added. Busch spent his childhood in Hartsdale, N.Y. He had two older sisters, Betsy and Margaret. His mother’s death was devastating for Busch. His Aunt Lil and Joan Rivers have been among the women who have been “mothers” to Busch since his mom died.

Once, Busch said he and Rivers dined with friends. “Joan Rivers said ‘I wish I had a gay son I could phone at midnight and discuss whatever movie was on TCM,’” he recalled. Busch would have loved to have been Rivers’s “gay son.”

Life in Hartsdale was hard for Busch after his mother passed away. His father was often absent and showed little interest in his children.

Things were miserable for Busch when his grandmother, for a time, cared for the family. He knew, as a boy, that he was gay and hated going to school where a mov-

ie-and-theater-loving kid who liked to draw wasn’t one of the cool kids.

Yet Busch forgave his “father’s failings,” he writes in “Leading Lady, “because he gave me the theater.”

Busch became entranced with the theater when his father, an aspiring opera singer who performed in summer stock, took him to the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York City to hear Joan Sutherland sing the role of Amina in Bellini’s “La Sonnambula.”

Busch was saved from a life of boredom and bullying when Aunt Lil, his mother’s sister, took him to live with her in Manhattan. There, like Auntie Mame, she raised him. She prodded him into applying to the High School of Music and Art in New York City. He was accepted there.

After high school, Busch graduated with a bachelor’s degree in drama from Northwestern University in 1976.

“My Aunt Lil is the leading lady [of the title of his memoir],” Busch said, “she was the most influential person in my life.”

One of the reasons why Busch wrote “Leading Lady” was to paint a full portrait of her. “It was important that it not be this kind of gauzy, sentimental memory piece,” he said, “making her out to be a saint.”

Aunt Lil adopted Bush when he was 14. Her goal was that he would go to college, become independent, be a survivor – make a place for himself in the world.

“I don’t know what would have happened if she hadn’t stepped in,” Busch said.

“She was very intellectual,” he added, “I’ve never met anyone [else] with such a pure devotion to thinking. It was a little intimidating.”

Aunt Lil’s standards for caring – for giving of oneself –were so high that it was almost impossible to meet them. “She believed that you should anticipate what people would need,” Busch said, “before they told you.”

Looking back, Busch is most proud of himself when, “I’ve gone past my natural self-absorption,” he said, “when I’ve thought of someone else.”

Busch is being too hard on himself. In “Leading Lady,” and when interviewed, he’s caring and curious as well as witty, savvy, and as you’d expect, a bit campy.

His sister Margaret died recently. “She declined gradually over nine months,” Busch, said, choking up, “I gave her my bedroom and I slept on my sofa.”

Like many of her generation, Aunt Lil didn’t understand queerness or drag. But she loved Busch. She didn’t go to see his productions, he said. “She could have gone like other parents,” he said, “and been tight-lipped. And said something nice that she didn’t believe.”

But “she didn’t want to lie or be hurtful,” Busch added, “so, for her, it was: can’t I just love and support you, and not go?”

Aunt Lil didn’t get Busch’s sexuality. But she knew about secrecy. Busch learned of a terrifying secret that his aunt had long kept hidden. In the 1930s, during the Depression, Aunt Lil worked as a nurse. One day, when she worked overtime, one of the patients suffered a burn. She had to leave nursing. “Her sister in a nasty mood revealed this,” Busch said, “Aunt Lil never discussed it.”

In the 1970s, Busch had trouble getting into theater because there were only roles for actors playing straight

male characters. “The only way I could get on stage was to write my own roles,” he said, “I have a rather androgynous nature.”

Busch found that the feminine within him was a place of authority and strength. “I’m fine when I play male characters,” he said, “but I’m better when I play female characters.”

Why this is so liberating for him is a bit of a mystery to Busch. “But I accept and love it,” he said.

Times have changed since Busch made his first big splash with “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.” “In 1985, being a drag queen was considered a negative,” Busch said, “my generation of drag performers bristled at being referred to as drag queens.”

Busch no longer bristles. “I feel like the characters,” he said, “I enjoy costumes and getting the right wig.”

“But, I go from male to female not through trickery or anything visual, I transfer through my soul.”

In “Leading Lady,” Busch recalls AIDS and other dark moments from the past. Many of his friends and colleagues died from AIDS. “AIDS was the World War II of our generation,” he said.

But Busch, in his memoir and in his life, isn’t only looking back. He’s very much in the present. Busch is embarrassed to say he was lucky. During the pandemic, devastating to many, he made art. He did play readings on Zoom and finished writing “Leading Lady” which he’d worked on for 14 years.

During the pandemic, Busch with Carl Andress co-wrote and co-directed the movie “The Sixth Reel.” The film’s cast includes Busch, Julie Halston (Busch’s longtime muse), Margaret Cho and Tim Daly.

Busch describes the film, an homage to the Hollywood madcap movies of the 1930s, as “a comic, caper movie.”

“I play a disreputable dealer in movie memorabilia,” Busch said, “a legendary lost film is found, and I see it as my ticket out of debt.”

The “Sixth Reel” is playing from Sept. 21 to Sept. 27 at the LOOK Dine-In Cinema West 57th Street in New York City.

“I hope the run in New York will encourage people to distribute this little movie,” Busch said.

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Friday, September 01

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Social” at 7 p.m. at The Commentary. This event is ideal for making new friends, professional networking, idea-sharing, and community building. Admission is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

“Center Aging: Friday Tea Time” will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. This event is a social hour for older LGBTQ+ adults. For more information, contact adam@thedccenter.org.

Saturday, September 02

LGBTQ People of Color Support Group will be at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This peer support group is an outlet for LGBTQ People of Color to come together and talk about anything affecting them in a space the strives to be safe and judgment free. There are all sorts of activities like watching movies, poetry events, storytelling, and just hanging out with others. For more details, visit thedccenter.org/poc or facebook.com/centerp.

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Brunch” at 11a.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. Guests are encouraged to come enjoy brunch with other LGBTQ+ folk.. Admission is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Sunday, September 03

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Coffee & Conversation” at 12 p.m. at As You Are. This event is ideal for those looking to make new friends & connections in the DMV’s LGBTQ+ community. Admission is free and more details are available on Eventbrite. AfroCode DC will be at 4 p.m. at Decades DC. This event will be an experience of nonstop music, dancing, and good vibes and a crossover of genres and a fusion of cultures. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Monday, September 04

“Reign: A Variety Drag Show” will be at 8 p.m. at Dupont Italian Kitchen. Logan Stone will host the event, featuring Dabatha Christie, Hennessey, Sirene Noir Sidora Jackson, and Anamosity. Admission is free and more details are available on Eventbrite. 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.


Rehoboth’s SunFestival kicks off this weekend

Labor Day Weekend in Rehoboth Beach brings the annual SunFestival celebration benefitting CAMP Rehoboth.

The weekend promises two nights of revelry with entertainers and nationally known DJs creating the “ultimate party to close out summer” Sept. 2-3.

Saturday’s $45 general admission tickets are sold out but you can join a waitlist at the event’s website. The $95 pass to both nights is also sold out. But general admission tickets for the Sept. 3 dance party starting at 7 p.m. with DJs Robbie Leslie and Joe Gauthreaux remain available. CAMP Rehoboth promises a “state-of-the-art club-like atmosphere,” with new design elements and video imaging. Visit camprehoboth.com for tickets and more information

Tuesday, September 05

Pride on the Patio Events will host “LGBTQ+ Social Mixer ” at 5:30 p.m. at Showroom. This event is a weekly cocktails and dinner social mixer for the LGBTQIA community in Frederick, Md. Admission is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Wednesday, September 06

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.

Center Aging: Women’s Social & Discussion Group will be at 6 p.m. at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. This group is a place where older LGBTQ+ women can meet and socialize with one another. There will be discussion, activities, and a chance for guests to share what events they want to include in the future. For more details, visit the DC Center’s website.

Thursday, September 07

API Queer Support Group will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This support group for the Asian and Pacific Islander queer community is hosted by APIQS (Asian Pacific Islander Queer Society DC) and AQUA (Asian Queers United for Action). For more details, email supportdesk@thedccenter.org.

Tom Goss to perform at Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend

Out singer Tom Goss will perform at the Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Sands Hotel.

He will sing his memorable songs like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Bears,” as well as tracks from his new album, “Remember What It Feels Like,” where he sings about being a 42-year-old gay man still reeling from his husband’s infidelity who was recently conned by a lover with a secret life now serving time in prison.

Tickets to Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Mayor’s office to host cookout to celebrate coming out

The D.C. Department of Human Services will host “Coming Out Cookout and Celebration” on Friday, Sept. 1 at 4 p.m. at Living Life Alternatives Shelter.

This event will celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, the advocacy efforts it took to create the LGBTQIA+ low-barrier shelter, and the one-year anniversary of Living Life Alternatives. LGBTQIA+ community members and allies will have a chance to learn more about LLA’s work and engage with other community members.

This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

There are still limited tickets available for this holiday weekend’s SunFestival.
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‘Sweat’ examines Trump appeal among working class A disheartening play that isn’t entirely without hope

Lynn Nottage’s powerful Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Sweat” (now at Keegan Theatre) takes a naked look at the working-class disillusionment that helped put Trump in the White House.

Set in Reading, Pa., in 2000 and 2008, it covers a crucial time when working people, particularly union folks, lost a lot of footing. Ably helmed by locally based director Angelisa Gillyard, Keegan’s latest effort benefits incalculably from a committed cast and its intimate space, ideal for a production whose less noisy scenes are its best

Each evening, after working a grueling shift at Olstead’s Steel Tubing mill, longtime employees and best friends Tracey, Cynthia, and Jessie convene at their local bar. It’s where they gather to celebrate milestones, complain about management, and unwind. Now middle-aged, the trio who’ve worked at the factory since their late teens, know the drill, but things are about to change.

When we meet them, it’s Tracey’s birthday. As the partying wanes, conversation veers toward work. Rumor has it that management is recruiting a floor worker to join them upstairs in the air-conditioned offices. Hotheaded Tracey (played to a tee by Susan Marie Rhea) wants none of it. She’s a stay in your lane kind of gal, perfectly content with her well-paying, blue collar union job. For Cynthia (the reliably excellent Lolita Marie) it’s different. She’s Black and entered the union without connections; she’s open to making more money and trying new things. The third musketeer, former free spirit Jessie (Santina Maiolatesi) is too inebriated to care.

When one of the line workers is promoted, feathers are ruffled. Resentments build quickly and accusations fly. Loyalty is

inevitably called into question. Racism rears its head.

Both Nottage and director Gillyard are Black women. The end of industry in America is typically told as an exclusively angry white man’s story. Not here. What’s more, Nottage’s male characters aren’t all white and angry, though that’s a part of it.

Actors Jamil Joseph and Bowen Fox give nuanced performances as close friends as well as Tracey and Cynthia’s sons Jason and Chris, respectively. They enter prison as confident boys and come out changed men with new creeds: Chris is never without a tiny copy of the New Testament and Jason is sporting neo- Nazi tattoos on his face.

John Townson plays bartender/peacekeeper Stan. After 28 years at Olstead’s, a nasty injury on the floor forced him to leave the job. Townson shares an illuminating scene with DeJeanette Horne who plays Cynthia’s estranged husband Brucie, a former factory employee seeking solace in drug addiction after being locked out from his job.

Andrés F. Roa is Oscar, a hardworking barback, eager to grab a piece of the diminished American dream. And rounding out the cast is Deimoni Brewington as Evan, a trenchant parole officer.

For Nottage, Olstead’s serves as a microcosm of something bigger and scarier. As unions become increasingly impotent, workers suddenly lose livelihood and identity, a veritable way of life. Work for less renumeration versus strikes and lockouts. Of course, union workers had no way of knowing what was ahead, but still, we wonder how could they not see it coming. The characters’ uncertainties are relatable and further amplified by today’s COVID closures and now AI.

There’s a lot of realism here. The set, compliments of Matthew J. Keenan, conjures a straight-from-central-casting, no-frills watering hole as seen on TV’s “Roseanne” with its American flag featured prominently alongside neon beer promotions. (On a smallish chalkboard, Bud Light is marvelously advertised as the daily special.) The language evokes realness too, and it’s delivered as such.

Much of the narrative rife with humor and exasperation unfolds predictably. Things chug along without too much surprise, but the climax and subsequent ending offer some unexpected complications. While “Sweat” is often disheartening, it isn’t entirely without hope.


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(Left to right) SUSAN MARIE RHEA, SANTINA MAIOLATESI, and LOLITA MARIE (Photo by Cameron Whitman)
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Sundance veteran takes a wild ride with ‘Rotting in the Sun’ Silva returns with outrageous film that satirizes modern culture

Unless you’re a follower of independent cinema or the international film festival circuit, the name Sebastián Silva may not be familiar to you – yet.

The gay, Chilean-born filmmaker – also known as a musician and illustrator – has enjoyed substantial spotlight on his work over the last decade and a half, starting with a win for Best Film at the 2008 Chilean Pedro Sienna Awards for his debut feature – “La Vida Me Mata” (“Life Kills Me”) – and following up with 2009’s “The Maid.” The latter launched him into the American Indie scene, earning a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; it went on to pick up several other honors, including a Golden Globe nomination, and firmly established him as an up-and-coming young director. Since then, his reputation has lured “Indie favorite” actors like Kristen Wiig, Juno Temple, Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffman, and Alia Shawkat to star in his films, and he’s garnered more accolades and awards along the way.

Still, the kind of films Silva makes are not exactly the kind that cross easily over into the mainstream, and wider recognition has thus far eluded him. Nevertheless, he remains a festival favorite, having twice returned in triumph to Sundance for premieres of his work, most recently with “Rotting in the Sun,” which debuted at the festival earlier this year. Now set for a limited theatrical release on Sept. 8 before expanding to digital a week later, it just might be the movie that finally gets the multi-hyphenate filmmaker the attention he deserves – though perhaps not for the reasons he might wish.

Directed by Silva from a screenplay co-written with frequent collaborator Pedro Peirano, his cryptically titled film scores points for audacity from its premise alone. Casting himself and real-life social media star Jordan Firstman as fictional versions of themselves, the filmmaker weaves an outrageous stream-of-events narrative that savagely satirizes both the self-obsession and perpetually distracted state of modern culture, simultaneously skewering the business of filmmaking and “content creation” while offering a sharp, darkly humorous commentary on the impact of economic and social class in human experience.

That sounds like a lot to juggle in a single movie, especially one with a less-than-two-hour runtime, but Silva and Peirano’s script manages it deftly with a intricately crafted structure that carries us along through a twisting plot that begins when the fictional Sebastián – nihilistic, misanthropic, and addicted to ketamine and poppers –takes an impromptu trip to a nude gay beach resort on the advice of his best friend (Mateo Riestra). There, he encounters the gregarious and flamboyant Firstman, a fan of his work who aggressively courts him for a closer relationship, both personally and professionally. With his career stalled and his finances drying up, the reluctant Silva agrees to collaborate on a show, and invites Firstman to come and stay with him in Mexico City while they write it.

From there, things don’t go quite the way we expect. Though we’ve been primed for an “opposites-attract” romance, accompanied by a bemusing clash of Silva’s existential bleakness against the life-affirming positivity of his joyously hedonistic counterpart, an unexpected turn of events veers into a new course; rom-com tropes give way to a stark and harrowing mystery, with Silva’s longtime

housekeeper Vero (Catalina Saavedra) at the center, and the film becomes a gripping thriller that blends suspense with social commentary and stark surrealism for a wild ride capable of making the heart pound and the head spin. We could say more – other reviewers have, making their jobs easier but spoiling some of the movie’s most electrifying surprises in the process – but to do so would be a disservice both to Silva’s painstaking efforts in crafting the narrative and the viewer’s enjoyment in experiencing it firsthand.

That does make it necessary to “talk around” some things; for instance, we can’t say all the things we’d like about Saavedra – returning to Silva’s fold after playing the title role in “The Maid” – and her performance without giving away key information; rigidly unsentimental, raw with emotions most of us find uncomfortable to watch, the movie hinges on her portrayal of this character, and she owns it completely.

We also can’t say much about the remarkable movement of the story, charted by the script and driven by the skillful, ever-flowing handheld camera approach of cinematographer Gabriel Díaz Alliende, which follows a singular thread of cause-and-effect through a course marked by random occurrence and inevitable consequence and plays out like an elaborate maze of falling dominoes; nor can we go into much detail about the observations the film makes about the divide between the privileged and the underclasses who serve them, who live in such different worlds that even the simplest interactions between them are often complicated by an inability to communicate or understand each other across the gap.

In a more general way, we can certainly talk about the movie’s appreciation for irony; indeed, its most sublime moments are dripping with it, and it provides the undercurrent for the tone of existential absurdism in which Silva steeps his film; for, make no mistake, in this “existential

summer” marked by movies like “Asteroid City,” “Barbie,” and “Oppenheimer,” “Rotting in the Sun” fits right in –though, for what it’s worth, its inescapable dread is countered by a kind of humanistic compassion which, though it doesn’t exactly cast everything in a layer of sweetness and light, goes a long way toward leaving our hope for humanity at least somewhat intact.

Lastly, we can talk about the penises. Yes, there are a lot of them, and a few scenes of un-simulated gay sex, too; most of these take place in the early scenes at the resort, and while it would be wrong to say they are irrelevant to the larger purpose of Silva’s movie they certainly are not the point of it, prompting him to admit in a Variety interview that he was “a little bit scared that a lot of people will be centered on the cocks.” Predictably, most reviews (including this one, it appears) and much of the publicity for the film seem angled to let us know they are there.

Ultimately, “Rotting in the Sun” is about much more than cocks, of course; it’s also about much more than the various human pretensions, constructs, delusions, and dysfunctions it both sends up and seems to caution us about. Like all great films, it contains all those things within a larger picture that points toward a more all-encompassing perspective on life – and, admirably, doesn’t try to tell us what to think of it, though it might guide us to a smaller conclusion or two about how we treat each other along the way.

Be warned: though ostensibly a comedy, “Rotting in the Sun” is not a film for the faint-hearted, and it should be noted that it explores themes of suicidal ideation that might be triggering for some viewers.

If you’re not deterred by that – and if your interest is piqued by all the things we couldn’t say – then you are heartily encouraged to watch it at your first opportunity. We guarantee that afterward, you’ll remember the name Sebastián Silva.

JORDAN FIRSTMAN and SEBASTIÁN SILVA in ‘Rotting in the Sun.’
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More than a coming-of-age, coming out story ‘Through the Groves’ a sharp, hilarious new book

You can’t see the forest for the trees.

Fluffy pines, and oaks that started growing before your parents were born. Tall willows, towering cottonwoods that create a canopy far above you. The forest soothes your mind; if you have an out-of-control imagination, it offers a good scare. Nature’s there, and in the new book “Through the Groves” by Anne Hull, you’ll find memories, too.

She still recalls the smell and the heat and the pesticides.

Anne Hull was her daddy’s sidekick the summer she was six years old, riding along with him on his job as a fruit buyer in the middle of Florida where rows of orange trees stretched for miles. Together, they visited the dusty, scarred older Black men who worked the groves on her father’s route, and her father taught her all about “withholding confidential information” and not telling her mother about using a chalky field as a bathroom or about the gun in his car.

Hull’s mother already knew about the roadside stops he made, and the bars along his way home: the ride-alongs Hull so enjoyed were meant to deter her father from “Friday afternoon fever” and bright neon beer signs.

Back then, Hull was only starting to notice that her family moved often, from one ramshackle house to another, and she saw the weekly checks her great-grandmother gave her father. She already knew that adults kept secrets that weren’t so secret to a growing girl who was obsessed with being a spy someday. These were adventures just like the adventures she had with cousins and her little brother, who was an accident-prone “calamity.”

When Hull’s mother left Hull’s father and moved in with Hull’s grandmother, that was an adventure, too – until it wasn’t. Hull had become old enough to understand genteel poverty and that hand-me-downs weren’t cool. She bonded with her grandmother over music; sneered at her mother, as teenagers do; and she thought about her dad, but only in the abstract.

He never forgot about her, though.

He never stopped trying to be her father.

Do you really want some treacly life story now? Nah, you want something solid and sincere, right? Something different. Part coming-of-age, but more, maybe.

You want “Through the Groves.”

Rather than opening this tale where most childhood memoirs start, with eye-rolling, attitudinal teen years, author Anne Hull’s story begins the summer she was six years old and they move forward from there. This gives readers the gift of an observant kid’seye view of life – one that’s older than its years and doesn’t miss a thing, but that’s not insufferably precious or precocious. Viewed through the lens of a grown-up, then, those early memories give readers the “more” they crave, becoming a triple-whammy of coming-ofage, coming out, and coming to terms with the frailty of family. That’s sharp as flint but also hilarious.

Hull says her father was a storyteller and this orange apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Start “Through the

and you’ll find that you just can’t leaf it.

‘Through the Groves: A Memoir’
By Anne Hull c.2023, Henry Holt | $26.99 | 224 pages
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United Night Out

LGBTQ soccer fans enjoy an evening at Audi Field

Federal Triangles Soccer Club and Team DC co-sponsored United Night Out with DC United at Audi Field on Saturday, Aug. 26. Drag artists Mari Con Carne, D’Manda Martini and Bombshell Monroe performed in a pregame show. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)
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Navigating the 3-2-1 mortgage in a changing market

Tap into affordability and leverage projected rate shifts

Navigating the path to homeownership is a milestone that holds immense significance for everyone. However, for members of our LGBTQ community, the journey often carries unique considerations that demand careful thought and planning.

With higher mortgage rates on the horizon and the Federal Reserve poised for policy changes, coupled with the ongoing challenge of rising housing prices due to low inventory, finding a mortgage solution that aligns with both financial goals and community values is paramount.

1. Initial Financial Advantage: With a 3-2-1 Mortgage, you initiate your homeownership venture with initial payments set significantly lower than the prevailing mortgage rates. This positions you favorably in the market, allowing you to commence your homeownership journey with manageable monthly payments, freeing up resources for other essential expenditures.

2. Anticipating Rate Adjustments: As the Fed recalibrates its policies and the mortgage rates embark on a downward trajectory, the 3-2-1 Mortgage structure strategically aligns you to harness this shift. Your payments remain highly competitive, ensuring that you gain a competitive edge as the rates transition into a more favorable range.

3. Flexibility Amid Changing Circumstances: The early years of homeownership can be a period of change. The reduced payments in the 3-2-1 structure provide you with financial agility to navigate potential shifts in your life, both personal and professional.

4. Navigating the Refinancing Opportunity: As mortgage rates dip due to anticipated Fed policy changes over the next 12 months, the door opens to explore refinancing. This could lead to further payment reductions or a shorter loan term, enabling you to maximize financial gains in the long run.

5. Long-Term Financial Security: Fixed-rate mortgages ensure stability in a fluctuating market. With a 3-2-1 Mortgage, the consistent payments offer a shield against potential rate fluctuations throughout the loan term.

6. Leveraging Property Appreciation: With housing

prices poised to continue their ascent due to constrained inventory, your investment gains momentum. The accrued equity in your home provides options for future endeavors, such as refinancing, capitalizing on a profitable sale, or utilizing the enhanced home value for other financial pursuits.

7. Guidance from Real Estate Experts: Consulting a real estate professional at GayRealEstate.com remains a prudent step before any major financial/housing commitment, including your choice of mortgage. Their insights will help align your unique financial situation and objectives with the optimal decision.

Considering the 3-2-1 Mortgage option in the current dynamic may be a savvy choice, allowing you to tap into the affordability at the outset, leverage projected rate shifts, and stay ahead in a housing market characterized by climbing prices and limited inventory.

Whether you’re seeking a welcoming neighborhood, navigating the intricacies of mortgage options, or aligning your homeownership dreams with your LGBTQ+

identity, a specialized Realtor is your dedicated advocate.

Don’t hesitate to reach out today for a free, no-obligation conversation with the finest LGBTQ+ Realtors at GayRealEstate.com, and a referral to an LGBTQ+ friendly mortgage lender. Your path to homeownership is a story that deserves to be written with care, authenticity, and unwavering support. Together, let’s make this chapter one of triumph, belonging, and prosperity. Your dream home awaits - let’s embark on this journey together.

Jeff Hammerberg is a distinguished entrepreneur and broker, renowned as the founder behind GayRealEstate. com. With an impressive journey spanning more than 25 years, he has played a pivotal role in championing the mission of fair, transparent, and just representation for every member of the LGBTQ+ community in the realm of residential real estate.


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

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2023 FEP 000026

Date of Death 10/22/2020


Katharyn A Phelps whose address is 103 Graiden Street, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20774 was appointed personal representative of the estate of Michael Leroy Williams Sr, deceased, by the Orphan’s Court for Prince George’s County, State of Maryland, on December 30, 2020. Service of process may be made upon David Roberts 1717 N Street NW, Ste 1 Washington, DC 20036 whose designation as District of Columbia agent has been filed with the Register of Wills, DC. The decedent owned the following District of Columbia real property: 1900 2nd Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Claims against the decedent may be presented to the undersigned and filed with the Register of Wills for the District of Columbia, Building A, 515 5th Street, N.W., 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20001 within 6 months from the date of first publication of this notice. Name of newspaper and/or periodical: Washington Blade, Daily Washington Law Reporter. Date of first publication: September 01, 2023 Katharyn A. Phelps, Personal Representative, 240-839-0035 A True Test Copy Nicole Stevens, Register of Wills


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