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Capital Pride hosts unveiling next week

Capital Pride, gay pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Capital Pride Parade 2012 (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Pride Reveal 2013 is at P.O.V. Lounge at the W Washington Hotel (515 15th St., NW) Thursday night.

The reveal will present the Pride Celebration theme, Capital Pride marquee events showcasing the best of Pride in D.C., and events from many Pride partners and sponsors.

Tickets are $20 to $25. For more information, visit capitalpride.org.

17
Jan
2013

Gem from another era

‘The Show-Off’
Through Feb. 2
American Century Theater
Gunston Performing Arts Center, Theatre II
2700 South Lang Street, Arlington
$35-$40
703-998-4555
americancenturytheatre.org

theater, The Show-Off, Joe Cronin, Jenna Berk, Lee Mikeska Gardner, American Century Theater, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, Joe Cronin, Jenna Berk and Lee Mikeska Gardner in ‘The Show-Off.’ (Photo by Johannes Markus; courtesy of the American Century Theater)

Everyone’s met an Aubrey Piper, the obnoxious title character in George Kelly’s 1924 comedy “The Show-Off.” Loud, boastful, desperate for attention, Aubrey is a nightmare in an obvious toupee and a liar to boot. But lucky for most of us, unlike the Fishers, the good folks featured in Kelly’s play, we don’t have an Aubrey marrying into the family.

At 90, Kelly’s play is windy but fundamentally funny precisely because it deals in familiar, time-resistant types. “The Show-off” got its start as a big Broadway hit and subsequently enjoyed revivals and was adapted to the screen more than once. Currently, it’s in production at Arlington’s American Century Theater, a company committed to promoting 20th century plays as a vital part of today’s cultural dialogue.

The show opens with Mrs. Fisher (Lee Mikeska Gardner) dishing the dirt with her sensible, well-married daughter Clara (Jenna Berk). It seems Aubrey (David Gram) has been coming to call on the Fishers’ younger daughter Amy (Erin E. McGuff) every Wednesday and Sunday evening without fail. Not content to woo his giggly girlfriend privately in the offstage parlor, Aubrey brings his corny jokes, tall tales and off key singing center stage to the living room where Amy’s parents and her inventor brother Joe (Evan Crump) are trying to pass a quiet evening at home. A solid working class family with a comfortable house in northern Philadelphia, the Fishers can’t understand what their daughter sees in the phony low paid freight clerk posing as a Pennsylvania Railroad big shot.

By act two the Fishers’ worst fears are realized: Aubrey and Amy are married. By act three, it gets even worse, and finally a little better. At the end, Clara begins to soften. Locked in a lonely marriage, she is charmed by Aubrey’s sincere love for her sister. And though he doesn’t pull a big salary, Aubrey does go to work every day. In the end, despite — or more likely because of — his borderline con artist ways, Aubrey brings a boon to the family. Will he again in the future? That’s unclear.

Set in the playwright George Kelly’s native Philadelphia, the comedy is filled with references to streets and neighborhoods including the downtown area where Clara’s detached husband Frank (Nello DeBlasio) first spotted Aubrey (he’s hard to miss with jaunty fedora, walking stick and red carnation), and the busy intersection where Aubrey runs down a cop.

George Kelly was enormously popular in the ‘20s and early ‘30s. Today, aside from being movie star Grace Kelly’s uncle, he is best known for “The Show-Off” and his Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Craig’s Wife,” a morality tale about a controlling woman who values a pristine home above family and friendship. (The latter was adapted for the screen in ‘50s as “Harriett Craig,” a juicy mid-career vehicle for none other than real life clean freak Joan Crawford). Kelly was also gay, and not surprising for the time, carefully closeted. He maintained a 55-year relationship with partner William Weagley.

Uniformed in her apron and rolled down hose, Mikeska Gardner’s Mrs. Fisher is a feisty but warmhearted and uncomplicated homemaker. Sometimes she plays her a bit simple but never a fool. Similarly, Gram’s Aubrey even at his most over-the-top, third rate vaudevillian weirdness, is no fool either. It’s a good thing too. The play wouldn’t work otherwise.

Ably directed by Stephen Jarrett, the talented nine-person cast is especially cohesive. Set designer Leigh-Ann Friedel’s living room is handsome and realistic, well suited to Kelly’s durable play. (Kelly had no time for the modernism and more experimental theater forms en vogue in his heyday). Showing great attention to detail, Erin Nugent successfully clothes the cast through numerous costume changes on a presumably not huge budget.

Once again, The American Century Theater has fulfilled its mission by plucking and mounting a charming seldom-produced show from the American repertoire. See it while you can.

17
Jan
2013

GLSEN works for safe schools

Lady Gaga, National Equality March, gay news, Washington Blade

Lady Gaga (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

It’s been said that for social progress to occur, blood must be shed. One could spend a dissertation exploring the topic, but there’s evidence to support the concept. It will be interesting to see how things play out with U.S. gun laws after the Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., massacres. But we’re far enough out to see some positive results come from the rash of gay teen suicides of 2010.

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. GLSEN’s initiatives strive to create healthy school climates by educating teachers, students and the general public about the value of respecting every individual regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Established in 1990 and now boasting 38 local chapters in the United States, GLSEN projects such as Day of Silence, ThinkB4YouSpeak and Changing the Game have grabbed national attention. Its staff has been working hard way before 2010, but those tragedies seemed to galvanize the organization with a spate of new programs and partnerships.

In November, GLSEN became a partner with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to promote their shared missions by creating the Born Brave Bus tour, which includes pre-concert safe space tailgate parties.

GLSEN utilizes its own research department and national polling organizations to determine positive and negative changes in the national school climate. Its 2011 National School Climate Survey reached about 8,500 LGBT students.

Research indicators led to the creation of Changing the Game in 2011 whose mission is to assist K-12 schools in creating and maintaining an athletic and physical education climate based on the core principles of respect, safety and equal access for all.

“From our research studies, we found that less than 50 percent of LGBT students were participating in school sports,” says Robert McGarry, director of education at GLSEN. “We had been providing diversity training for educators for 20 years and found that it was time to fill the gap by providing education on managing a sports field or locker room.”

Most of the sports education tools, which include game plans for athletes, coaches, athletic directors, principals, physical education teachers and parents, were created by Project Director Pat Griffin.

Griffin is a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the author of the book “Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sports.”

Getting the word out for a sports initiative targeted at K-12 schools is a little more difficult than for programs aimed at higher education that answer to the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) or the professional sports teams that answer to their respective commissioners.

To accomplish that task, Changing the Game reaches out to member organizations for coaches and athletic directors, attends national conferences and lends support to student alliance groups.

“Our research shows that coaches and physical education teachers are the least likely adult that a student will turn to with LGBT issues,” McGarry says. “Getting the word out to them is important to our mission.”

The need for projects like Changing the Game can be seen locally in the progression of the Team D.C. College Scholarship program.

The Team D.C. scholarships are aimed at local openly gay high school student athletes. When the program was established in 2008, the group struggled to get even one applicant.

After years of interactions with local educators and coaches, the 2012 scholarship board of directors had to choose from multiple applicants to narrow the awards down to six recipients.

Coming up for the Changing the Game project is an overhaul of its website to create a more youth-centric feel including an athlete all-star list.

The future looks bright for LGBT athletes considering the dedication of the people behind projects like Changing the Game. More information is at glsen.org.

17
Jan
2013

How out is safe?

‘Family Pride: What LGBT Families Should Know about Navigating Home, School, and Safety in Their Neighborhoods’
By Michael Shelton
Beacon Press
$16
240 pages

Family Pride, books, gay news, Washington Blade, COLAGE

Family Pride‘ by Michael Shelton

At your house, the door’s always open.

You love having a big group around your table any time; in fact, the more, the merrier. Family and friends never hesitate to stop by because you’ll make room for them no matter what. They’re always welcome. They know that.

The door’s always open, but it’s also closed.

You’re an LGBT family, and that creates some sticky issues. Whom do you tell and what’s safe to say? How do you protect your children? You may get a little guidance on that by reading “Family Pride” by Michael Shelton.

Your family is just like everybody else’s. Almost.

You like the same foods and TV programs, wear the same clothes, drive the same streets and laugh at the same stupid things. The only difference between you and the other families in your neighborhood is that you’re gay. You’re also in good company: a third of lesbians and one of five gay men are parents.

Still, almost half of your neighbors think they have nothing in common with you.

Pop culture, don’t-tell behavior and mythology are partly to blame for that: it’s widely (and erroneously) believed, for example, that most LGBT households are affluent, white, highly educated and only found in urban areas. Lesbian single mothers often keep their lives hidden to protect their children. Rural and small-town LGBT families are thought not to exist.

The general truth is that what researchers know about same-sex parents is “not necessarily accurate.” This is exacerbated by what Shelton says is “passing,” or telling a white lie or a lie of omission in order to maintain discretion within the community. “Passing,” therefore, avoids full disclosure, which may be undesirable for reasons of discrimination, bullying or downright danger.

There are, of course, impacts on the children for “passing,” just like there are for coming out (which, says Shelton, should be a “process”). Children in an LGBT family can’t be raised like every other kid because they’re not like other kids. Still, they should know the truth about their parents, they can be taught the fine art of discretion without lying and they should be taught that straight people are not the enemy.

I struggled a lot with what’s inside “Family Pride.”

I liked that LGBT parents will find a lot of information in this book: information on diversity, studies, challenges and services that can help to meet those challenges. Author Michael Shelton includes case studies and first-person accounts to support his facts and they’re quite interesting to read.

I fear, however, that what you’ll find may be old news. Anyone living as a gay man or a lesbian is likely already aware of laws, services and harassment. They know how and where to seek help. They don’t need a book to tell them the statistics.

Therefore, overall, I think that the audience for this book lies in newly created LGBT families or allies wishing to understand or lend a hand. “Family Pride” will be helpful for them, but established LGBT families probably needn’t bother to open it.

24
Jan
2013

Equality Va. heading south to Richmond

Equality Virginia, Washington Blade, gay news

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Equality Virginia holds its Day of Action at the Library of Virginia (800 E. Broad St.) in Richmond on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

Day of Action brings together more than 200 members and activists from across the state, inspiring LGBT and allied Virginians to create positive change. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet legislators and discuss bills important to the LGBT community and to attend workshops hosted by top attorneys and fellow activists.

Registration ranges from free to $12, depending on which package is purchased. For more information, visit equalityvirginia.org.

24
Jan
2013

Shi Queeta-Lee returns to the Howard

Shi-Queeta-Lee, Drag Salute, gay news, Washington Blade

Shi-Queeta-Lee hosts her ‘Drag Salute’ shows every other month at the refurbished Howard. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Drag Valentine Salute comes to the Howard Theatre (620 T St., NW) Monday night at 8 p.m.

The show was created and directed by cast member Shi Queeta-Lee, who has been featured on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” ABC’s “Ugly Betty” and reality shows “Drag City: DC” and “R&B Divas.” The show is a revue of legendary performers Rihanna, Adele and Whitney Houston with the best female impersonators in the area.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the show. For more information, visit thehowardtheatre.com.

07
Feb
2013

Gay author Peck mines history for new book

Garrett Peck (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Garrett Peck (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Local gay author Garrett Peck is releasing his fourth book “The Smithsonian Castle and the Seneca Quarry” about the long forgotten quarry that provided the redstone for the Castle and other buildings in the area. To celebrate its release, Peck will be providing several events around the region, including readings and a walking tour.

• Seneca Quarry Tour starting at the C&O Canal’s Seneca Aqueduct (located at the end of Riley’s Lock Road, Poolesville) Saturday morning at 11 a.m. Attendees are asked to RSVP on the Facebook event page.

• Georgetown Neighborhood Library (3260 R St., NW) hosts Peck at the George Peabody Lecture in the library’s Peabody Room on Thursday evening 6:30 p.m.

• Politics and Prose (5015 Connecticut Ave., NW) holds a book talk and a signing beginning at 5 p.m. on Feb. 24.

• The Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE) hosts a talk by Peck and will feature his photos from prior book “The Potomac River” and “The Smithsonian Castle and the Seneca Quarry” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28. To register for this event, visit hillcenterdc.org.

• Peck will host a Seneca-Quarry Tour on March 2 starting at the Seneca Aqueduct (at the end of Riley’s Lock Rd., Poolesville) at 1 p.m. After there will be a book party at the Rockland’s Farm (14525 Montevideo Rd., Poolesville) starting at 3:30 p.m. Attendees are asked to RSVP on the Facebook event.

• There will be another Seneca Quarry Tour for Politics & Prose patrons on March 16 at 1 p.m.

• Potomac Riverkeeper, one of the leading advocates for a clean, healthy river, hosts a talk about the quarry at 6:30 p.m. on March 28 at 1100 15th St., NW, 11th Floor. Registration details will follow.

• Peck will appear at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 18. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gaithersburg City Hall Grounds (31 S. Summit Ave., Gaithersburg).

For more information, visit garrettpeck.com.

14
Feb
2013

GMCW gets hitched with wedding-themed show

Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, My Big Fat Gay Wedding, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image courtesy of GMCW)

Gay Men’s Chorus holds its concert “My Big Fat Gay Wedding” at Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., NW) Saturday night at 8 p.m.

The show invites the audience to celebrate love while witnessing a real on-stage wedding with the Chorus and 1,300 of their closes friends. There will be several love songs from Broadway. Party favors and cake will be provided in the lobby.

Tickets are $25 to $50. For more information, visit gmcw.org.

14
Feb
2013

Queery: Sarah Blazucki

Sarah Blazucki, gay news, Washington Blade, Queery

Sarah Blazucki (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Mid-year last year, Sarah Blazucki was ready for a professional change.

The 37-year-old Baltimore native had a good six-and-a-half year run as editor at Philadelphia Gay News and was looking for fresh vistas to tackle. In October, she moved to Washington to work as a writer and editor with The Peace Corps.

“I felt like I’d done all I could do with the paper and it was time to let someone else take over,” she says. “Someone with new, fresh ideas and for me to do something else. I was sort of looking to take my career to the next level.”

Though she says things are “very good” in her new position, it’s a huge change from what she calls “the rhythm” of the weekly newspaper rigors. She also realizes it will take time to get integrated into D.C. LGBT life.

“Just being at the PGN, I very much had my finger on the pulse of the LGBT community and down here I just don’t,” she says. “Granted I’ve only lived here three months, but it’s just going to take some time to find the community again. And not just the bars. I know where they are, but I mean really the heart of the community. The non-profits, the larger piece that really makes up the heart of the community.”

Blazucki is also active in the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the founder of website lgbtrights.me which allows web surfers to find out what laws apply in their part of the country. She also writes resumes on the side.

She has identified as queer since she was 21 and was in an 11-year relationship with a man whom she eventually married. But she says she knew all along she “was not straight.”

Blazucki’s dating but not in a serious relationship. She lives in Petworth and enjoys running, yoga, reading and “being a news junkie” in her free time.

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

Since I was 21. Sometimes I get flack from gays and lesbians because I’m not a gold-star lesbian and that can be hard.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Can I have more than one? As a journalist, I really admire Rachel Maddow. She’s super-smart and she’s got moxie. I also have a couple of personal heroes, who I can also count as friends: Gloria Casarez, who is the director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, and Carrie Jacobs, the executive director of The Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia.

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

Tracks. I had some good times there.

Describe your dream wedding.

I was married before and that was probably as close as I would get. (See my answer about overrated social customs.) It was a 1920s carnivale theme, very fun. Less of a wedding, and more of a big party.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Gender equality/women’s rights.

What historical outcome would you change?

The 2007 Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. In the case, the court ruled 5-4 against Lilly Ledbetter, who had been getting paid less than her male counterparts at Goodyear for years. The court said her claim of long-term discriminatory pay decisions was filed after the statute of limitations, 180 days, had expired.

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

Pop culture really isn’t my forte, but Kurt Cobain’s suicide was pretty significant.

On what do you insist?

It’s OK to be gay. Also, good grammar and correct language use. It’s my job.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“So excited to have found what is likely the closest grocery store to my house, and it’s an organic grocer. That only took 3 mos. Sheesh!”

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

“Determined: How I got over a mostly shitty childhood and found my way in the world”

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

For myself, nothing. I like being queer. For others, encourage self-acceptance.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

The universe.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Keep up the good fight. Don’t let the LGBT-rights movement be sidelined by petty differences. Don’t sacrifice the minorities amongst us for the good of the majority.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My family, my close friends, LGBT equality.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That lesbians “process” too much.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Bound”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Weddings

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I’m not particularly motivated by either, but a Pulitzer would be nice.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That my life and work mattered, and that I could have a positive impact with both.

Why Washington?

Work. And it helps that my family is close.

09
Jan
2013

GMCW gears up for ‘Xanadu’ next weekend

GMCW, Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, Xanadu, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image courtesy Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington puts on a all-male version of “Xanadu” at Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., NW) on March 15-16 at 8 p.m. with a matinee performance on March 17 at 3 p.m.

The show is based on the 1980 romantic film starring Olivia Newton-John. The main character Kira, a Greek muse, is sent to California with a mission: to inspire men. She inspires the creative genius of the film to create the world’s first roller disco.

Tickets are $20-$55. For more information, visit gmcw.org.

07
Mar
2013