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EXCLUSIVE: Former manager of Russian gay nightclub to seek asylum in U.S.

Arkady Gyngazov, Russia, Moscow, gay news, Washington Blade

Arkady Gyngazov arrived in D.C. last month. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The former manager of a Russian gay nightclub that has been attacked several times over the last few months told the Washington Blade during an exclusive interview on Thursday he plans to seek asylum in the United States.

Arkady Gyngazov and three of his friends arrived in D.C. on Dec. 14 after flying from Moscow to New York the day before.

He told the Blade he has obtained a pro bono lawyer through Immigration Equality and the D.C. Center who agreed to take his case. Gyngazov has also worked with Larry Poltavtsev of Spectrum Human Rights, an organization that monitors the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record, since he arrived in the nation’s capital.

Gyngazov said he will formally seek asylum once his visa expires in June.

“I’m not going to go back to Russia because I feel my safety, even my life, is threatened,” he said.

Gyngazov was managing the Central Station nightclub in Moscow on Nov. 16 when two men whom security personnel refused to allow inside the establishment opened fire. None of the estimated 500 people who were inside the club during the incident were injured, but the assailants destroyed its surveillance camera and left bullet holes in the building’s facade.

An estimated 500 people evacuated Central Station on Nov. 23 after a group of assailants launched poisonous gas into the club. The Moscow Times reported roughly 100 people on Dec. 14 “dismantled” the roof of the building in which Central Station is located and either damaged or stole some of the club’s equipment that had been stored in the attic.

Gyngazov told the Blade during an interview from Moscow after the Nov. 16 incident the owners of the building placed a large neon sign above the club’s entrance the month before that reads “gay club here.” It also contains an arrow that points toward the door.

“I’m afraid because I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, what will happen to me,” he said on Thursday. “I’m not going to hide all my life.”

Gyngazov, 32, grew up in the Siberian city of Tomsk. He moved to Moscow in 2006.

Gyngazov is not out to his two younger siblings or his grandparents, even though he said he realized he was gay when he was a child. His parents are deceased.

He said life for LGBT Russians was “easier than now” in the 1990s under then-President Boris Yeltsin, in part, because his government was struggling to rebuild the country’s economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Gyngazov told the Blade “he never thought” the Russian Duma would pass a bill that sought to ban gay propaganda to minors and that President Vladimir Putin would sign it into law.

“He’s making a dictatorship, like the Soviet Union two,” said Gyngazov.

Gyngazov said he recently read an article in a Russian newspaper in which government officials said the suicide bombers who killed 34 people in two separate bombings in Volgograd late last month targeted the city because the West has sought to export homosexuality to Russia. Authorities said two men tortured and killed Vladislav Tornovoi near Volgograd last May after he came out to them.

The Duma last month approved a sweeping amnesty bill that prompted the release of two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot who had been serving two-year prison sentences for staging a protest against Putin inside Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2012. Authorities in December also released a group of 30 Greenpeace members who had been in custody since they tried to board an oil rig in the Barents Sea in September and Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky who was serving a 10-year prison sentence after his conviction on fraud charges in 2005.

Gyngazov told the Blade he thinks Putin granted amnesty to members of Pussy Riot, the Greenpeace members and Khodorkovsky because he wanted to temper criticism of his country’s human rights record ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place next month in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. He said he remains fearful of what will happen to LGBT Russians once the games end.

“I’m afraid for my friends who stay there,” said Gyngazov. “When I talk to them, I can’t help them.”

10
Jan
2014

Calendar: Jan. 31

Regie Cabico, Don Michael Mendoza, calendar, gay news, Washington Blade

Regie Cabico, left, and Don Michael Mendoza, directors of LaTiDo. Its next installment is Monday at Black Fox Lounge. (Photo courtesy Mendoza)

Friday, Jan. 31

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts “Kickoff” featuring DJ Matt Bailer tonight from 10 p.m.-closing. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) holds a happy hour from 5-7:30 p.m. tonight with all drinks half price. Music begins at 11 p.m. Enjoy pool, video games and cards. Admission is $5 after 9 p.m. Must be 21 and over. For more details, visit bachelorsmill.com.

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. There is no cover charge and admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit towndc.com.

The “Dollars for Dainty Burlesque Show,” a fundraiser for performer Dainty Dandridge to continue her LGBT health research in Washington, is tonight with two performances. Doors open at 8:45 and 10:45 p.m. at the Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.). Tickets are $15 (blackcatdc.com). For ages 21 and up.

Saturday, Feb. 1

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation at the Falls Church PetSmart (6100 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, Va.) at 11:45 a.m. Participants will be paired with a dog on a leash to walk around and play with. Wear casual clothes. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

The fifth annual Wig Night Out is at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight from 8-11 p.m. Wear your wig and support the Point Foundation, which provides scholarships and mentoring for LGBT college and graduate students. Doors open at 8 p.m. There is a $10 suggested donation with all donations benefiting Point Foundation. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For details, visit towndc.com.

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) presents “Funkytown” tonight at 10 p.m. The dance party features music from three decades of disco, new wave and synth pop-dance. Cover is $8 from 10-11 p.m. and $12 after 11 p.m. Drinks are $3 before 11 p.m. The drag show starts at 10:30 p.m. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For details, visit towndc.com.

Stadium Club (2127 Queens Chapel Rd., N.E.) presents “Ladies Day” today from 3-9:30 p.m. Admission is $15 before 5 p.m. and $15 after. There is a cash bar, drinks specials and a food menu. For details, visit stadiumclubdc.com.

Sunday, Feb. 2

Celebrate Groundhog Day at Dupont Circle Park (9 Dupont Circle, N.W.) today at 7:30 a.m. Groundhog Phil will predict if there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring. There will be live music, dancers, a puppet show and more. For more information, visit dupontfestival.org.

Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Sunday Drag Brunch” today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. For more details, visit perrysadamsmorgan.com.

Kabin Lounge (1337 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) hosts “Sunday Funday Happy Hour” today from 6-10 p.m. Rail drinks are $5, Stoli cocktails are $7 and Long Island drinks are $9. No cover all night. For details, visit kabindc.com.

Monday, Feb. 3

La-Ti-Do, a spoken word/musical theater cabaret performance group, performs at Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) tonight from 8-11 p.m. Farrell Parker, Liz Hallacy and Christopher Harris are the musical artists-in-residence performing. Admission is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Doors open at 7:55 p.m. For details, visit blackfoxlounge.com.

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Us Helping Us  (3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.) holds a support group for gay black men to discuss topics that affect them today, share perspectives and have meaningful conversations. For details, visit uhupil.org.

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts poker night tonight at 8 p.m. Win prizes. Free to play. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

Tuesday, Feb. 4

SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) hosts a “Rap Group” today from 5-6:30 p.m. Discuss stressful issues like school, bullying, getting into college or finding a job in this support group. For more details, visit smyal.org.

Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts its weekly ”FUK!T Packing Party” from 7-9 p.m. tonight. For more details, visit thedccenter.org or greenlanterndc.com.

Wednesday, Feb. 5

Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses “Times Square Red, Times Sqaure Blue” by Samuel R. Delany, a non-fiction account of Delany’s sexual adventures in Times Square’s pornography movie theaters, at Tenleytown Library (4450 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. All are welcome. For details, visit bookmendc.blogspot.com.

Opera on Tap, a concert that features local opera singers performing in a non-traditional setting, presents ‘Love is in the Air” at Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12. For details, visit operaontap.org/dcmetro.

The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for social bridge. No partner needed. For more information, call 301-345-1571.

Thursday, Feb. 6

The Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia presents the opening of the third annual “ReelAbilities: Disabilities Film Festival” at the Spectrum Theatre (1611 N. Kent St., Arlington, Va.) tonight at 7 p.m. with the film “Come As You Are.” The festival runs through Feb. 13. Eighteen films are screened at 19 venues in the greater D.C. area. Ticket prices and location venues vary. For more details, visit reelabilties.com/greaterdc.

Rude Boi Entertainment hosts “Tempted 2 Touch,” a ladies dance party, at the Fab Lounge (2022 Florida Ave., N.W.) Doors open at 10 p.m. Drink specials $5 and vodka shots $3 all night. No cover charge. Admission limited to guests 21 and over. For more details, visit rudeboientertainment.wordpress.com.

SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) provides free and confidential HIV testing drop-in hours today from 3-5 p.m. For more information, visit smyal.org.

30
Jan
2014

Green Lantern owner dies in Florida

Greg Zehnacker, Green Lantern, obituary, gay news, Washington Blade

Greg Zehnacker, 55, was the principal owner of the D.C. gay bar Green Lantern since 2001. (Photo courtesy of Green Lantern)

Greg Zehnacker, 55, the principal owner of the D.C. gay bar Green Lantern since 2001 and a popular figure in the D.C. LGBT community for more than 30 years, died Feb. 18 while on vacation near Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“It is with overwhelming sadness that we share with you the death of Green Lantern’s beloved owner, Greg Zehnacker,” a statement released by the bar says. “It appears that he died peacefully in his sleep,” the statement says.

The statement, which was posted on the Green Lantern Facebook page, says Zehnacker was a fixture in the D.C.-area LGBT community since the 1980s, when he worked in several gay bars, including the Lost and Found, Pier 9, Rascals and Peppers.

“He was a supporter of D.C.’s many gay clubs and organizations, and routinely provided space at Green Lantern for charity events and meetings, including, among others, the D.C. Center’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Working Group, the Centaurs MC [motorcycle club], and the Washington Scandals Rugby Club,” the statement says.

“Greg loved bringing together people from all walks of life and ensuring they had a good time under the Green Lantern’s roof,” according to the statement. “In that spirit, and as a way of honoring Greg, we will be open during this difficult time and encourage all to come in, raise a glass to Greg, and share your favorite memories of our friend and colleague.”

Derrick Jones, the Green Lantern’s social media director, said Zehnacker was also involved in past years in real estate endeavors. Jones said Zehnacker was born and raised in the D.C. area.

Joel Weinstein, co-owner of the D.C. gay bar Fireplace, said he and his brother and business partner Steve Weinstein along with another partner first opened the Green Lantern in the early 1990s. He said he and his partners closed the bar around 1995 or 1996 due to, among other things, their opening and operating other gay bars in D.C. and Pennsylvania.

He said he was pleased to learn several years later that someone had opened a new gay bar in the same building and called it the Green Lantern. Although he didn’t know Zehnacker, Weinstein said he wished the new owner well in his effort to bring the establishment back to life.

The Green Lantern’s statement says further details regarding memorials and tributes to Zehnacker would be announced soon.

Zehnacker is survived by his partner, Tom Tarantino, who, along with Zehnacker, has lived in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood; his parents, Raymond and Charlotte Zehnacker; and his brother Mike Zehnacker and sister-in-law Carol.

19
Feb
2014

Queery: Tamara Pincus

Tamara Pincus, gay news, Washington Blade

Tamara Pincus (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Tamara Pincus has been out as bi since she was a teen. It took her many more years, though, to embrace her polyamorous side.

She and husband Eric have been married 11 years but she’s also had relationships with women. She also has a partner named James she’s been with two years. Eric has another partner as well.

Pincus, 37, was born in Seattle but grew up in Massachusetts and New York. She’s in private practice as a psychotherapist and sex therapist (tamarapincus.com) and also leads a monthly poly discussion group at the D.C. Center. It usually meets on the third Thursday of each month, though the March meeting will be March 27 because of a prior commitment. She came to Washington 16 years ago.

She says the LGBT movement should be open to less “heteronormativity.”

“I understand why the gay marriage movement has tried to make it look like we’re all just like you with two very normal looking white men with this happy little family, but we also need to be accepting of people who are different too,” she says. “You silence a lot of voices when you say, ‘We’re all just like you.’”

Pincus has two sons, ages 5 and 7 and lives in Alexandria. She enjoys board games and spending time with her family in her free time.

 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? 

I came out as bi at 16 and as poly three years ago. The hardest people to tell were definitely parents of my kids’ friends, one of whom ran into my husband when he was on a date with someone else. It hasn’t really been hard to tell people I’m bi.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Buck Angel, Diana Adams, Anita Wagner Illig I could go on. I have a lot of heroes.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

My house.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Well, I had a big wedding at a resort in Leesburg complete with my red velvet dress. My grandmother said I looked like I belonged in a bordello. I don’t think I would want to get married again.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

I am working really hard to make a more sex-positive world. I think accurate sex ed covering issues like consent would go a long way to ending child sexual abuse. I think addressing sexual shame would decrease so-called sex addiction and other problematic sexual behaviors. There are so many places where our culture’s being completely shut down around sexuality is harming us. Abortion rights for instance? Access to birth control? I could go on and on.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

If you change history then you change the present and I have no idea where we would be if what has happened hadn’t. Still if I had to pick one it would be nice if the Holocaust hadn’t happened.

 

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

No idea. I would say some big influences have been “The Princess Bride” and “Rocky Horror.”

 

On what do you insist?

Consent! For instance I recently had to stop a stranger at a party from tickling my child without consent.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I took the Muppet quiz and found out that I am Kermit. Usually I post a lot of articles about trans issues, poly issues and sex worker rights.

 

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Lately, Coming Out Poly.” (Which, as it turns out, is the title of the book I’m working on with my brother-in-law — formerly my brother-out-law. Thanks, legalized gay marriage in New York.)

 

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I love being able to love everyone. I wouldn’t change it.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe there are energies that science has not quite gotten a grip on yet.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

The more inclusive the better. I’ve felt kind of left out in a lot of ways even though I was very active in the LGBT movement in high school and college.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

World peace? A person I love? Who comes up with these scenarios?

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

The stereotypes about bi women that they will have sex with everyone or that they are just here to provide sexual entertainment for straight men.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

It’s a toss up between “But I’m a Cheerleader” and “The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love.” There has yet to be a movie that comes close to covering the queer poly kinky world in which I live.

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

All the ones where you try to look like everyone else or portray “normal” are highly overrated.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

The “Vicki” Sexual Freedom Award given to individuals or organizations whose work and/or life embodies the mission and vision of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That it is really OK to be different and let others see your imperfections.

 

Why Washington?

Well, if there’s a place that needs sex therapists, this is it. But really it’s because the people I love are here and I wouldn’t want to leave them.

26
Feb
2014

And the Oscar goes to ….

Oscar watch party, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

D.C. Film Society hosts “And the Winner Is…,” an Oscars broadcast party, at Arlington Cinema and Draft House (2903 Columbia Pk., Arlington, Va.) Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. Come watch the Oscars on the cinema screen. Tickets are $21. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit arlingtondrafthouse.com.

D.C. Shorts hosts “Snuggle with the Stars,” an Oscars-watch pajama party, at the U.S. Navy Memorial ‘s Burke Theater (701 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) Sunday at 6 p.m. The awards show will be shown on a two-story HD screen. There will be champagne, cocktails, snack food and pizza. Guests must be 21 and over. General admission tickets are $25 and V.I.P tickets are $50 and include a special gift. For more information, visit snuggle.dcshorts.com.

The D.C. Center presents “Glamour, Glitter and Gold,” its annual Oscar gala, at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) Sunday night at 7 p.m. General admission is $15. V.I.P. admission is $45 and includes V.I.P. seating, swag bags, hors d’oeuvres and more. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit thedccenter.org.

Commissary (1443 P St., N.W.) hosts its second annual Oscar viewing party, with a complimentary Oscar cocktail, tonight from 4-11 p.m. The extended happy hour is from 4-8 p.m. and includes a viewing of the red carpet. Enjoy Oscar’s movie-themed cocktails and food including the cocktail Rosalyn’s Nail Polish from “American Hustle” and Texas Red Chili from “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” There will also be prizes and a gourmet popcorn bar with flavors such as Cinnamon Bun and Siracha. For details, visit commissarydc.com.

Helix Lounge (1430 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) has an Oscars happy hour today from 5-11 p.m. Watch the show on a flat screen T.V. while enjoying Oscar-themed cocktails and burger sliders. For details, visit hotelhelix.com.

Also, the National Archives is screening all the nominated documentary and short subject features again this year through Sunday at the William G. McGowan Theater. Several nominated films have already been shown, but the screenings continue all weekend. Free tickets are handed out at the special events entrance on Constitution Ave. an hour before start time. Visit archivesfoundation.org/event/Oscars for full details.

27
Feb
2014

Calendar: April 11-17

Kelly Mantle, RuPaul's Drag Race, gay news, Washington Blade, calendar

Kelly Mantle from the current season of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ is at Town Saturday night. (Photo courtesy Mantle)

Calendar for the week ahead in LGBT D.C. events:

Friday, April 11

 

Rock and Roll Hotel (1353 H St., N.E.) hosts “Bear Happy Hour” tonight from 6-10 p.m. There will be $4 rail drinks, $3 draft pints, $7 draft PBR pitchers and more. For more details, visit rockandrollhoteldc.com.

Siren hosts its fourth annual “Robyn Riot” at Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) tonight from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. There will be an open vodka bar from 10-11 p.m. Music will be mostly Robyn with a few other artists mixed in. DJ Majr, DJ Delia Volla and DJ Sam Blodgett will spin tracks with a performance by Pussy Noir. For more details, visit greenlanterndc.com.

Women in Their 20s, a social discussion group for lesbian, bisexual, transgender and all women interested in women, meets today at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) from 8-9:30 p.m. All welcome to join. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Number Nine (1435 P St., N.W.) hosts a happy hour today from 5-9 p.m. All drinks are half price. Admission is free. For more information, visit numberninedc.com.

 

Saturday, April 12

 

Washington Humane Society hosts “Fashion for Paws Eighth Annual Runway Show” at the Omni Shoreham Hotel (2500 Calvert St., N.W.) tonight from 8 p.m.-midnight. Cocktail attire is required. Dinner begins at 8 p.m. and the runway show starts at 9:15 p.m. Tickets start at $100.

Kelly Mantel from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season six comes to Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight. Doors open at 10 p.m. Cover is $8 from 10-11 p.m. and $12 after 11 p.m. Drinks are $3 before 11 p.m. The drag show starts at 10 p.m.

“Pink and Drink,” a Dupont Circle bar crawl, returns today from 1-9 p.m. There will be music, raffles and prizes. Drink specials include $4 pink 52 shots, $3 Finlandia Vodka drinks, $3 Southern Comfort and more. Wear pink to help raise breast cancer awareness. Participating bars include The Front Page (1333 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.), Rumors (1900 M St., N.W.) and many more. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. Tickets are $15. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit pinkanddrink.com.

Countdown to Yuri’s Night, a commemoration of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic first manned space flight, is tonight at 8 p.m. at Anacostia Arts Center (1231 Good Hope Road, S.E.). Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Shuttle service will be provided to the Eastern Market and Anacostia Metro stations free. Visit c2yn.com for details.

 

Sunday, April 13

 

Special Agent Galactica performs with guitarist Peter Fields at Shaw’s Tavern (520 Florida Ave., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. Galactica mixes music with anecdotes about her life and people she has met as a cadet. There is no cover charge. For more details, visit shawstavern.com.

Chick Chat, a lesbian 50-and-over singles group, tours the Cylbum Arboretum (4915 Greenspring Ave., Baltimore) today from 2-3 p.m. To RSVP, email woernerc@yahoo.com. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Sunday Drag Brunch” today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. For more details, visit perrysadamsmorgan.com.

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts a drag brunch today with two shows at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

 

Monday, April 14

 

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Us Helping Us  (3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.) holds a support group for gay black men to discuss topics that affect them today, share perspectives and have meaningful conversations. For details, visit uhupil.org.

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts poker night tonight at 8 p.m. Win prizes. Free to play. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

 

Tuesday, April 15

 

Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts its weekly ”FUK!T Packing Party” from 7-9 p.m. tonight. For more details, visit thedccenter.org or greenlanterndc.com.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts a MENA discussion forum today at 6:30 p.m. The panel discussion topic is LGBT issues in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

 

Wednesday, April 16

 


The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for social bridge. No partner needed. For more information, call 301-345-1571.

The D.C. Center hosts “Woman to Woman,” a support group for HIV-positive women who love women, today at the Women’s Collective (1331 Rhode Island Ave., N.E.) from 5:30-7 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) hosts free and confidential HIV testing today from 3-5 p.m. For more information, visit smyal.org.

Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses two novellas by Allan Gurganus, “Preservation News” and “He’s One, Too” at 7:30 p.m. tonight at AFSA headquarters (2101 E St., N.W.). All welcome. Visit bookmendc.blogspot.com for details.

 

Thursday, April 17

 

Whitman-Walker Health presents “Be the Care,” its annual spring affair, at National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Ave., N.W.) tonight at 6:30 p.m. Jeffrey Crowley, program director of the National HIV/AIDS Initiative at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, will be presented with the “Partner for Life” award. There will be a cocktail reception. NBC 4 news anchor Pat Lawson Muse will emcee the event. Tickets start at $75. For more details, visit whitman-walker.org.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts its monthly Poly Discussion Group at 7 p.m. People of all different stages are invited to discuss polyamory and other consensual non-monogamous relationships. This event is for newcomers, people in established polyamorous relationships and open to folks of all sexual orientations. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Center and Professionals in the City host speed dating for women in their 20s and 30s at Finn and Porter located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel (900 10th St., N.W.) tonight from 7-9 p.m. Dating is approximately one hour. After enjoy a mixer with fellow speed daters. Cash bar. Check in is at 7 p.m. and dating begins at 7:20 p.m.  Complimentary valet parking offered to anyone who purchases two drinks or other items from the bar or restaurant. Cost is $30. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

10
Apr
2014

LGBT groups rejected for D.C. funded grants

Vince Gray, activists, Vincent Gray, District of Columbia, gay news, Washington Blade, Capital Pride Parade

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray encouraged LGBT groups to apply for the grants. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A foundation retained by the D.C. government to award city funded grants to local non-profit organizations under a newly launched program turned down grant applications from six LGBT organizations and another three groups that provide services to LGBT clients.

The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region announced on April 16 that it had approved grants of up to $100,000 each for 58 non-profit organizations out of a total of 315 groups that applied for grants under the $15 million City Fund program created by Mayor Vincent Gray.

The six LGBT oriented groups – including the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, Casa Ruby, and the SMYAL – were among 257 of the 315 organizations applying for a grant that were turned down, according to information released by the Community Foundation.

Casa Ruby is an LGBT community center based in Columbia Heights that reaches out to the Latino and transgender communities. SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) provides services for LGBT youth.

The other LGBT specific groups turned down for grants were the Center for Black Equity, which, among other things, coordinates black LGBT Pride events and sponsors conferences for the black LGBT community; the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign; Us Helping Us, an AIDS service organization that reaches out to black gay and bisexual men; and Whitman-Walker Health, the city’s largest AIDS service organization that provides health related services to the LGBT community as well as other communities.

Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), which, among other things, provides services for transgender sex workers; and Food and Friends, which provides home-delivered meals and nutritional services to people with HIV and other serious illnesses, including LGBT people, were also among the groups turned down for grants under the City Fund program.

“Today, the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, the Center for Black Equity, Casa Ruby, SMYAL, Us Helping Us, HIPS, and the Human Rights Campaign expressed their deep disappointment that not a single local LGBT organization received funding under the City Fund,” a joint statement by the groups says.

“Currently, very few services specifically targeted to the LGBT community are publicly funded in Washington, D.C.,” the statement says. “This lack of targeted funding is particularly problematic as the LGBT community is dealing with a variety of challenges around HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and stigma; youth homelessness; healthcare access – including mental health services; disproportionate levels of anxiety, depression and substance abuse; and high levels of unemployment in the transgender community,” according to the statement.

“We are hopeful that the Community Foundation will take a hard look at this issue and urge the Foundation to learn more about the needs of the LGBT community,” the statement says. “A dedicated public funding stream needs to be made available for programs and services for the LGBT community.”

Ruby Corado, founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, said she has called on officials with the Community Foundation to meet with LGBT community representatives to discuss concerns that no LGBT specific groups were approved for a City Fund grant.

Terry Lee Freeman, president of the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, told the Blade in a statement on Monday that last week’s grant awards were the first of at least three rounds of grant awards that will be made this year and early next year.

She said the Community Foundation is urging organizations that weren’t approved in the first round to apply again for grants under the program.

“We received 315 applications totaling over $30 million in requests for this round alone,” she said. “We were able to fund 58 programs totaling over $3.5 million. That leaves over 250 applications that were unfortunately not accepted for funding in this round, including many wonderful organizations with important missions,” she said.

“The review committee carefully considered all applications and the process was highly competitive,” she said. “There are a number of reasons why an organization might not be funded. In some cases it’s because they do not fit with the guidelines or funding criteria or did not properly complete the application.”

Criteria listed on the City Fund website include a requirement an organization must have an IRS 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status; that it cannot be an “advocacy” organization; it must have an annual budget of at least $100,000; and it must submit an audited financial report showing financial stability.

At the request of Gray, the D.C. Council in 2013 approved funding of $15 million for the grant program. A write-up on the fund’s website says the program is aimed at supporting “effective non-profits that provide critical programs and services across the city.”

The goal of these programs, the write-up says, is to “grow and diversify the District’s economy, educate and prepare the workforce for the new economy; and improve the quality of life for all.”

At an LGBT Pride forum organized by the Blade last June, Gray urged LGBT organizations to apply for grants under the program, saying the criteria for awarding grants “are broad and certainly would include the kinds of issues we are talking about here tonight.”

But Freeman said in her statement on Monday that the mayor’s office directed the Community Foundation to limit the focus of the grants on seven “issue areas” that include the arts, education, environment, health, job readiness, public safety, and senior services.

“The fund was set up to target issue areas rather than specific populations,” Freeman said. “The issue areas were created by the D.C. government and provided to the Community Foundation to enact as the fund administrator.”

Freeman added, “Funding in each issue area is intended to serve as wide and diverse a population as possible, including District residents in the LGBT community.”

She noted that grants approved for at least two organizations – TrueChild and Metro Teen AIDS – will address LGBT-related issues.

Riki Wilchins, executive director of TrueChild, said the organization isn’t specifically LGBT oriented but specializes in educating the public on gender role issues and gender role discrimination that impact the LGBT community. Wilchins said the TrueChild grant approved by the Community Foundation calls for following up on earlier research by TrueChild to develop educational programs and “interventions” to prevent violence against trans women of color.

The program is aimed at changing the hearts and minds of young straight males who are most often identified as the perpetrators of violence against transgender women and LGBT people in general, Wilchins said.

Adam Tenner, executive director of Metro Teen AIDS, which reaches out to LGBT youth and other population groups through HIV prevention programs, said a $46,000 grant approved by the Community Foundation for Metro Teen AIDS will be used to expand an existing program called REALtalk.

According to Tenner, Metro Teen AIDS and a partner group will train over 60 young people “to make more than 5,000 contacts with youth throughout the city” to educate the youth on HIV prevention. He said LGBT youth will be involved in the program.

Community Foundation spokesperson Jenny Towns said the foundation doesn’t release its reasons for turning down grant applications and leaves it up to the organizations themselves to release such information.

In the case of the LGBT groups, Casa Ruby and the D.C. Center released to the Blade a brief summary sheet they received from the Community Foundation stating why their grant application was declined.

“Overall, the proposed program had a nice design and referenced a need in the community,” the statement said about the D.C. Center’s proposal. “A large portion of the requested funding was for a staff position,” it said. “There were questions over the sustainability of the project: What would happen to this position and the program if you did not receive funding next year? The amount of the request compared to the organizational budget was high,” the statement said.

In the case of Casa Ruby, the Community Foundation said in its summary statement Casa Ruby didn’t submit with its application an audited financial statement or a certificate of good standing required of all applicants, and submitted an “incomplete budget versus actuals” in connection with the group’s income.

Corado said she will check with the person who prepared the Casa Ruby grant application, but as far as she knows, everything requested was submitted with the application.

“I feel a grant giving organization would work with us,” she said. “They could have called us and worked with us to get all the information they needed. Any funder that really cares – they will work with you.”

She said she was troubled that the Community Foundation has turned down grant applications for all of the LGBT groups that submitted proposals, including Casa Ruby’s. She said the Casa Ruby proposal was aimed at helping trans people find employment in the city.

Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity, said he is skeptical of the Community Foundation’s suggestion that LGBT organizations may not have been approved for a grant because criteria set by the city called for “issue” oriented grants rather than grants targeting a specific population group.

“That to me is not an excuse,” Fowlkes told the Blade. “We have a large LGBT population in the District and we have a large LGBT population that is very visible and has a great deal of community needs,” he said.

“Obviously we’re disappointed that none of us were funded,” Fowlkes said. “We’re kind of shocked that none of us were funded. And we all couldn’t have written bad grants.”

Fowlkes and representatives of the LGBT groups aside from Casa Ruby and the D.C. Center said they had not received information from the Community Foundation explaining why their applications were declined as of late Monday.

Paul Guequierre, spokesperson for the HRC Foundation, said the HRC Foundation proposal called for “engaging educators, families, and students in the community to decrease bullying and increase respect for diversity.” He said the program would focus on 500 educators and 30 schools in Wards 1, 7 and 8.

Shawn Jain, a spokesperson for Whitman-Walker Health, said Whitman-Walker applied for a $100,000 grant to boost its patient centered medical home program, which helps patients manage and organize their own care at the organization’s Elizabeth Taylor Clinic.

“We don’t know what the reason was,” he said, when asked why the City Fund declined to approve the grant. “We got a notice saying we have to call them to find out.”

Jain added, “We congratulate the organizations that received their grants.”

22
Apr
2014

Reel revival

Randy Harrison, Michael Urie, Such Good People, gay news, Washington Blade, Reel Affirmations

Randy Harrison and Michael Urie in ‘Such Good People.’ (Photo courtesy of Reel Affirmations)

Girl Trash

Friday, 7 p.m.

 

Such Good People

Friday, 9 p.m.

 

Heterosexual Jill

Saturday, 7 p.m.

 

Five Dances

Saturday, 9 p.m.

 

‘Just Gender’

Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

 

Human Rights Campaign

1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.

Reel Affirmations, a program of the D.C. Center

 

$10 general admission

$30 VIP pass for all four films this weekend

$50 host committee tickets

reelaffirmations.org

Reel Affirmations, Washington’s long-running LGBT film festival, is back with a crop of new films to be shown this weekend and into next week.

The festival, now part of the D.C. Center Arts Program, is partnering with Human Rights Campaign, where its offerings will be screened. It’s re-launching its monthly film series, Reel Affirmations XTRA and offering “The Pride Film Festival,” which offers the five films  slated for a Tuesday screening.

Visit reelaffirmations.org or thedccenter.org for details.

05
Jun
2014

D.C. Center moves into new space at Reeves Center

David Mariner, Michael Sessa, D.C. Center, LGBT, gay, bisexual, transgender, lesbian, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Center Executive Director David Mariner, right, and Michael Sessa. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

With little fanfare and no official announcement, the D.C. LGBT Community Center moved into its new home at the city’s Reeves Center municipal building last week in the heart of the city’s booming commercial and entertainment district at 14th and U Streets, N.W.

On Friday afternoon, D.C. Center Executive Director David Mariner and local interior designer Paul Corrie, who donated his services for the design of the rooms and walls, were overseeing workers and volunteers place finishing touches to the gleaming new space of 2,468 square feet.

Mariner said the Center is looking forward to its official grand opening celebration scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 23, from noon to 4 p.m., to which the public is invited. The new space at 2000 14th St., N.W., Ste. 105, is located less than a block from the Center’s old offices at 1318 U St., N.W.

The move into the smartly designed and furnished new space comes just over two months after the Center learned that the Reeves building was expected to be demolished in two or three years as part of a city land deal linked to plans for a new soccer stadium near the Southwest waterfront.

Center President Michael Sessa declined to disclose whether the city agreed to modify the 15-year lease agreement the organization signed earlier this year, at a monthly rent of $4,000, and to compensate the Center for having to vacate the premises years earlier than planned. At the time the lease was signed, Center officials expected to amortize the more than $70,000 it cost to renovate the new space over a period of at least 15 years.

When D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced in late July that the Reeves building was expected to close in just a few years, the Center’s board announced it was stopping construction on the ground floor, storefront space “until we have a better understanding of where the mayor proposes to relocate the Center.”

In a separate statement to the Blade on Friday, Sessa said, “The Center is in the process of moving into the Reeves Center now. We need some time to catch our breath, let the dust settle and then we’ll issue a communication for all.”

Sessa added, “I’m working with the board to develop a statement that will articulate where we stand and what has happened since construction was halted.”

City Administrator Allen Y. Lew is in charge of putting together a $300 million land deal in which the city will turn over the Reeves Center to a developer who, in turn, will give the city part of the land in Buzzard Point needed to build the new stadium for the D.C. United soccer team.

According to the Washington Post, Lew insists the deal will move ahead as planned, even though some members of the D.C. City Council – including gay Council members David Catania (I-At-Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) – and Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) have raised concerns about the cost of the project for the city.

On Friday, Mariner and close to a dozen volunteers were busily unwrapping furniture and computer workstations, which will be available to members of the community as part of the Center’s wide range of programs.

A sofa and other furnishings for a lounge located in front of large windows overlooking the sidewalk on 14th Street, N.W., were donated by Mitchell Gold, Mariner said. He said other businesses and organizations helped finance and furnish other rooms by becoming official sponsors of the rooms.

According to Mariner, the Crew Club, a gym and spa that caters to gay men, sponsored the spacious conference room; the Dupont Social Club sponsored the lounge; the Stonewall Kickball League sponsored the activity room; and Capital Pride, the group that organizes the city’ annual LGBT Pride parade and festival, sponsored the reception area.

Mariner said the reception area was placed near the door that leads to the Reeves Center’s first-floor atrium, which he said the Center will use as its main entrance. He said the entrance to the street won’t be used as a primary entrance.

04
Nov
2013

Calendar: Nov. 15

Transgender Day of Remembrance, Jessica Xavier, Metropolitan Community Church of D.C., MCC-DC, gay news, Washington Blade, events

D.C.’s Transgender Day of Remembrance is slated for Wednesday night at MCC. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Friday, Nov. 15

Howard Community College’s Rep Stage (10901 Little Patuxent Prkwy., Columbia, Md.) presents “I Am My Own Wife,” a one-man show performed by Michael Stebbins, tonight at 8 p.m. The play tells the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German transvestite who survived the Nazi and East German Communist regimes. Tickets range from $33-40. For details, visit repstage.org or call 443-518-1500.

Lisa Marie Presley performs at Wolf Trap (1645 Trap Rd., Vienna, Va.) tonight at 8 p.m. She performs songs from her latest album “Storm and Grace” and older hits. Tickets range from $35-$40. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit wolftrap.org.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts free vodka Friday tonight from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Free rail vodka 11 p.m.-midnight. Two DJs on two floors.  Cover is $10. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit cobaltdc.com.

Saturday, Nov. 16

The Latino Queer Bilingual Writing Group hosts its monthly workshop today at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) today from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Open to writers of any genre and levels of experience to share creative work in Spanish or English. Workshop is free and no prior experience is necessary. For details, call 202-682-2245 or email washeg@gmail.com.

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers for Casey Trees to help plant 50 shade trees at the Armed Forces Retirement Home (199 Rock Creek Church Rd., N.W.) from 9 a.m.-noon today. Wear appropriate clothing such as closed toe shoes. Bring photo ID. To volunteer, email jonathan@burgundycrescent.org. For more details, visit burgundycrescent.org.

The Smithsonian hosts 12 contemporary poets for a public reading of their work in “Lines in Long Array: A Civil War Commemoration: Poems and Photographs, Past and Present” at the National Portrait Gallery (8th and F streets, N.W.) in the Tucker McEvoy Auditorium today at 2 p.m. Afterward, there will be a round table discussion and book signing. It is the first time the Smithsonian has commissioned works of poetry. Cost is free. For details, visit npg.si.edu.

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts “Gagarama” to celebrate Lady Gaga’s new album “ARTPOP” tonight at 10 p.m. Lady Gaga music will play upstairs and downstairs will be a Gaga-free playlist. The cover is $8 from 10-11 p.m. and $12 after 11 p.m. There will be $3 drinks before 11 p.m. The drag show starts at 10:30 p.m. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit towndc.com.

Sunday, Nov. 17

A benefit for Rehoboth Beach, Del.,-based singer Viki Dee — a popular lesbian entertainer there who lost her home and pets in an October house fire — has been rescheduled to occur today from 2-7 p.m. at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center (229 Rehoboth Ave.). The benefit will feature 15 local entertainers, silent and live auctions and a spaghetti dinner. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Maggio Shields Real Estate (70 Rehoboth Ave., No. 101), Sign-a-Rama or CAMP Rehoboth (37 Baltimore Ave.).

Dignity Washington, an LGBT Catholic group, hosts “Love Lost in Translation: Homosexuality and the Bible,” a PowerPoint presentation, today at 3 p.m. at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church (1830 Connecticut Ave.). Danish linguist and theologian K. Renato Lings will give the presentation. Visit dignitywashington.org for details.

Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Sunday Drag Brunch” today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. For more details, visit perrysadamsmorgan.com.

Adventuring, an LGBT outdoors group, hosts a circuit hike through Old Rag early this morning at 1:15 a.m. Meet at 1:15 a.m at the East Falls Church Kiss and Ride (2001 N. Sycamore St., Arlington, Va.). Hike time starts at 3:30 a.m. After the hike there will be a wait at the peak to watch the sun rise after 7 a.m. There is an optional breakfast at the Northside 29 Restaurant (5037 Lee Hwy., Warrenton, Va.) after the hike. For advanced hikers only. Bring plenty of snacks and drinks. Wear sturdy boots and bring a head lamp. Cost is $25. For more information, visit adventuring.org.

Monday, Nov. 18

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts Adoption Information Night tonight from 6-8 p.m. Learn about the D.C. child welfare system and the need for host/foster families in the District. Foster and host parents will speak as well as representatives of the Latin American Youth Center’s Child Placement programs. A question-and-answer session will follow. The event is free. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

Tuesday, Nov. 19

Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts its weekly ”FUK!T Packing Party” from 7-10:30 p.m. tonight. For more details, visit thedccenter.org or greenlanterndc.com.

Whitman-Walker hosts free HIV testing at Panam Supermarker (3552 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 7-9 p.m. For details, visir Whitman-walker.org.

University of Maryland (College Park, Md.) hosts “Queering the Body: Performing the Self” tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Stamp Student Union. Kris Grey, a gender queer artist, gives a performance lecture about exposing the permeability and constructed nature of the male/female binary. Admission is free. For details, visit umd.edu.

Wednesday, Nov. 20

Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses “The Practical Heart” by Allan Gurganus, a tale about inhabitants in a North Carolina town including a young man dying of AIDS, at 2101 E St., N.W.at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome. For details, visit bookmendc.blogspot.com.

The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for social bridge. No partner needed. For more information, call 301-345-1571.

The Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge St., N.W.) hosts the D.C. observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance today at 6 p.m.  The vigil remembers the transgender people whose lives have been lost. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Thursday, Nov. 21

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for its 11th annual National Dinner Gala at the NGLCC office (729 15th St., N.W) and the National Building Musem (401 F St., N.W.) today at various times. Volunteers will assist with facilitating the dinner in registration, greeting guests, crowd management and more. There is a possibility volunteers can enjoy the dinner. To volunteer, email jonathan@burgundycrescent.org. For more details on exact volunteer times and locations, visit burgundycrescent.org.

The D.C. Center hosts “Beaujolais Nouveau,” a wine tasting and networking event, tonight from 7-9 p.m.  Beaujolais Nouveua is a red wine produced in the Beaujolais region in France. Every year after weeks of fermentation it is released for sale on the third Thursday of November. The party is hosted by Ebone Bell, founder and managing editor of bi-monthly lesbian publication Tagg, and Laura V Steiner, the owner and CEO of Meliora Pet Care and active LGBT community member. Tickets are $20. To purchase tickets visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) hosts its monthly Poly Discussion Group at 7 p.m. People of all different stages are invited to discuss polyamory and other consensual non-monogamous relationships. This event is for new comers, established polyamorous relationships and open to all sexual orientations. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts the “2013 NCA Queer No Host Party” tonight from 9 p.m.-midnight. Bring your friends and colleagues for fun and queer solidarity to celebrate the third Queer No Host. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

14
Nov
2013