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Gray joins advocates at D.C. Transgender Day of Remembrance commemoration

Ruby Corado, Vincent Gray, Metropolitan Community Church, Transgender Day of Remembrance, gay news, Washington Blade

Ruby Corado and Mayor Vincent Gray (Washington Blade photo by Tyler Grigsby)

Hundreds of people gathered at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington on Wednesday to commemorate the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance really marks another day in the struggle to be able to protect the rights of people who are transgender in the District of Columbia,” D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said.

Transgender advocates Earline Budd, Charles Hastings and Jeri Hughes; Wanda Alston Foundation Executive Director Brian Watson; Nico Quintana of the D.C. Trans Coalition and Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado are among those who also spoke.

Organizers of the event honored Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer, Alison Gardner and her late-husband, Dan Massey. Shirli Hughes, Ovation, the Unity Fellowship Church DC Agape choir and members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington also performed.

“Tonight we gather here in light and love,” Hastings said. “That light and love is radiating from this building, going all over the city even into the darkest and hate-filled corners.”

Gwendolyn Ann Smith organized the first Transgender Day of Remembrance as a way to honor Rita Hester, a trans woman murdered inside her Boston apartment in 1998.

The D.C. event was one of dozens of Transgender Day of Remembrance commemorations, vigils and other gatherings held across around the world.

Those who gathered at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington read the names of the 12 trans D.C. residents who have been killed since 2000. They also honored known victims of anti-trans homicides from around the U.S. and the world.

“Each and every one of us is important to our community,” D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, who apologized on behalf of the department during last year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance commemoration for the way emergency medical personnel treated Tyra Hunter after a car accident in 1995. She subsequently died from her injuries. “Our commitment to each and every one in this city is important.”

Assistant D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham highlighted the unsolved murders of Stephanie Thomas and Ukea Davis in 2002 and Elexius Woodland in 2005. He said seven of the 12 trans homicides that have taken place in D.C. since 2000 remain open.

“The Metropolitan Police Department does not intend to forget these victims or their families,” Newsham said. “MPD will not be satisfied until all the people responsible for these homicides are brought to justice.”

Gray highlighted the passage of the JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013 that allows trans Washingtonians to legally change their birth certificates without sex reassignment surgery during his remarks.

He said no trans Washingtonian has lost their life to violence in D.C. so far this year, but there have been a number of attacks he said should be classified as hate crimes.

“We have a long ways to go,” Gray said.


LGBT activist Dan Massey dies

Dan Massey, gay news, Washington Blade, obituary

Dan Massey (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Washington, D.C. resident Dan Massey, a scientist and technology development executive who advocated for LGBT rights and sexual freedom causes, died Jan. 28 following a battle with cancer. He was 70.

Local activists who knew Massey said he and his wife and partner of 35 years, Alison Gardner, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to raise money and provide support for a wide range of local and national LGBT and sexual freedom advocacy organizations.

“Dan was a gentle and generous soul, and will be missed by the many people he helped and inspired,” said Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington.

“He was always helping someone,” Rosendall said. “I do not know anything nicer to say about anyone. Our hearts go out to Dan’s wife and soul mate, GAA Secretary Alison Gardner.”

A biography of Massey published on Wikipedia and distributed by Gardner says Massey’s professional career was in the fields of computer science and information technology.

He was a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University and authored seven books in the fields of artificial intelligence, probability and statistics, and managing computers in business, according to the biography.

He worked as chief engineer for the Cambridge, Mass., based firm BBN Technologies from 1972 to 1992. He worked from 1994 until his retirement in January 2011 for Science Applications International Corporation in Vienna, Va.

While working in the field of science, Massey teamed up with Gardner over the past 20 years or longer to advocate for sexual freedom and the elimination of societal bias and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, his biography says.

Massey served for more than 20 years on the executive committee of the Urantia Book Fellowship and founded the Urantia Society of Central Connecticut. The two groups seek to study and carry out spiritual and philosophical teachings of an early to middle 20th century collection of spiritual writings known as the Urantia Papers.

He also served on the Advisory Council of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance; the Policy Advisory Board of Gender Rights Maryland, a transgender advocacy organization; and the “WikiQueer” Global Advisory Board, according to information provided by Gardner.

In recent years, activists got to know Massey and Gardner through the sexual freedom organization and blog they founded in 2009 called VenusPlusX. Its stated purpose is to “inform and uplift” the ideals of sexual liberation “through education, training, and communications to support and accelerate the New Age.”

Its website, which Gardner continues to publish,, says the group adopted its name from a science fiction novel that takes place in a “post-gender future.” The website says the group’s members are inspired from “two famous androgynous, transgender U.S.A. icons – the Statue of Liberty and “Columbia,” the statue on top of the U.S. Capitol dome.

Transgender activist Dana Beyer, co-founder of Gender Rights Maryland, called Massey a champion of transgender rights.

“Dan called himself an androgyne,” Beyer told the Blade. “He did not view himself as male or female.”

In a tribute to Massey in the Huffington Post last week, Beyer said Massey’s most important legacy is his “passionate advocacy over the years in support of social justice for all.”

The VenusPlusX blog says Massey and Gardner sought to advance their sexual freedom advocacy through “a new concept of the intrinsic value of sex and gender expression, of personal erotic freedom, to replace millennia of unreasoned ignorance, fear, and hatred with the true joy of Love.”

In addition to Gardner, Massey is survived by his son Ross and daughter Tiye.

A memorial service for Massey is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23, at 1:30 p.m. at the Josephine Butler Parks Center, 2437 15th St., N.W., which overlooks Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park.

In lieu of flowers, Gardner said Massey requested that contributions be made to D.C.’s Latino LGBT community center Casa Ruby; the newly endowed Dan Massey Transleadership Scholarship Fund; “or a charity of your choice.”


Rosendall elected GLAA president

Rick Rosendall, GLAA, gay news, Washington Blade

Rick Rosendall (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Longtime D.C. gay activist Rick Rosendall won election on Dec. 11 as president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, a group with which he’s been active for more than 20 years.

Rosendall, who had been serving as the group’s vice president for political affairs, succeeds current GLAA President Miguel Tuason, who chose not to run for another term.

GLAA member Charles Butler won election to the vice president for political affairs position.

Kevin Davis, the GLAA vice president for administration; Alison Gardner, the group’s secretary; and Gary Collins, treasurer, were re-elected to those posts.

Each of the officer candidates ran unopposed and was elected by acclamation.