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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

• 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


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


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 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?


What’s the most overrated social custom?


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.


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


Inauguration and more planned for MLK weekend

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2009 Presidential Inauguration Parade (Washington Blade file photo by Henry Linser)

Inauguration events galore planned for weekend

If you’re excited about the upcoming inauguration but have nowhere to go, here are a few parties happening over the weekend that will celebrate the inauguration in full LGBT fashion:

  • Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League and the D.C. Center host the 2013 Youth Inaugural Ball tonight at 6 p.m. at THEARC Community Center (1901 Mississippi Ave., SE). The party includes free food and drinks, including Chipotle burritos, a photo booth, a DJ and exciting performances. There will also be free and confidential HIV testing. Attendees are asked to “dress to impress.” The ball is open to youths between the ages 13-21. For more information, visit
  • Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts DJ Hector Fonseca for the Inaugural Party Saturday night 10. Cover is $8 before 11 p.m. and $12 after. For more information, visit
  • Human Rights Campaign hosts a cocktail reception for supporters and leaders in town for the inaugural events Sunday at 6 p.m. at Number Nine (1435 P St., NW). For more information, visit
  • Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) hosts “Barack Obash” presented by DW Promotions tonight at 10 p.m. There will be a special surprise guest. A free buffet will be provided. Cover is $10. For more information, visit

MLK Freedom Walk slated for Saturday

To celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, Washington will host the 35th MLK’s Peace and Freedom Walk Saturday morning beginning at 7:30 a.m.

The first walk is the Freedom Walk beginning at Lansburgh Park. Assemble time is 7:30 a.m. Departure time is 8:45 a.m. Attendees are encouraged to make signs reflecting “peace.” For more information, email

The next site is the “Peace Walk,” which begins at 2500 MLK Ave., SE. It departs at 10 a.m. Those who do not want to do the “Freedom Walk” can meet at this site at 8:30 a.m. For more information, visit

The final destination is Shepard Park where the walkers will arrive at noon. Those who won’t walk may arrive at 10:30 a.m. for the program agenda. For more information, visit


Local artists have works in Old Town Alexandria auction

Oregon Waterfall, Tony Frye, art, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Oregon Waterfall,’ by Tony Frye, one of the items slated to be auctioned off in Old Town Alexandria this weekend. Frye and several other local gay artists are participating. (Image courtesy of Tony Frye)

The Vander Zee Gallery (105 S. Lee St.) hosts its eighth annual Art Auction on Saturday night at 6 p.m.

The auction will feature paintings by Rob Vander Zee and about 25 local artists known as the Vander Zee Gallery Painters. The evening will include a silent auction throughout the evening, a live auction at 8 p.m. and final bids will be taken at 9 p.m. Rob Vander Zee, owner/teacher of the gallery, is gay as are several of the artists.

All cash, personal checks and credit cards are accepted. For more information, visit


Calendar through Jan. 24

WTF, Town Danceboutique, gay news, Washington Blade, LGBT nightlife, gay bar

WTF at Town Danceboutique (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

TODAY, Friday, Jan. 18

Club Heaven (2327 18 St., NW) hosts the inaugural launch party for Indie Adams Morgan, a local indie music series, featuring the band Ten Feet Tall, Chrissi Poland from The Scissor Sisters and Caleb Hawley from “American Idol” tonight at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $12 at the door. For more information, email

Wolf Trap (1645 Trap Rd., Vienna) hosts Christopher Cross in the Barns tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Cross brings his fusion of rock and pop together that created his Grammy winning song “Ride like the Wind.” For more information, visit

Whitman-Walker Health offers free HIV testing at Town (2009 8th St., NW) tonight from 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. For details, visit

The Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) hosts “Dr. Who Happy Hour” tonight at 7. There will be one episode of Dr. Who and drink specials. Admission is free. For details, visit

Phase 1 (528 8th St. SE) has its weekly dance party with DJ Jay Von Teese tonight starting at 7:30. Cover is $10. For more information, visit

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. This event is for people 21 and older. There is no cover charge. For details, visit

The Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) is having its happy hour tonight starting at 5 p.m. All drinks are half off until 7:30 p.m. After 9 p.m., admission is $10. The dance floor opens at 11 with DJ Tim-Nice and DJ Cameron. For details, visit

Saturday, Jan. 19

Center Women, women from the D.C. Center, will have an outreach table at BARE at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W) tonight from 10 p.m. to midnight. BARE is a monthly dance party for women. First shift of volunteers will meet at 8 p.m. at D.C. Center (1318 U St., NW) to collect materials and then go to the club. The second shift begins at 10 and goes to midnight. If you are interested in volunteering, visit For more information about the party, visit

Burgundy Crescent volunteers with the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation at the Petsmart in Falls Church (6100 Arlington Blvd.) today between 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers will be dog handlers for their adoption events. Each volunteer will be given a dog to be walk around the property and will be given basic information about the dog for people who ask. For more information, visit

Special Agent Galactica comes to Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd St. S Arlington) tonight 8 p.m. The show features jazz and rock songs including music from Led Zeppelin, Romantics, Stevie Nicks, Pat Benatar, the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane and Elton John. There is no cover for this event. For more information visit

The Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) hosts “Hellmouth Happy Hour” where attendees watch one episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” with drink specials. Cover is free and doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, visit

Sunday, Jan. 20

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts “WTF: Glitter Ball,” described as the gayest inauguration party ever. Two floors will be open; DJs Kennan Orr, Aaorn Riggins and Ed Bailey will be doing the music; seven performers will be out on the floors with lots of glitter. Doors open at 10 and cover is $5. For more information, visit

Monday, Jan. 21

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its HIV+ Newly Diagnosed Support Group tonight at 7. It is a confidential support group for anyone recently diagnosed with HIV and the group welcomes all genders and sexual orientations. For details, visit

Banana Café (500 8th St., SE) has its karaoke night from 7 p.m. to closing. Admission is free. For more information, visit

An Arc of Justice rally and parade is planned for today at 9 a.m. at Malcolm X Park at 16th and Euclid Street, N.W. The march, which starts at 10 a.m., will go to K and 15th streets N.W.

Organizers are calling the event a “determined but hopeful expression of our concern and dissent against the wars, occupations, loss of civil liberties, overwhelming corporate and big money power” and more. An LGBT contingent is planned so bring rainbow flags, issue signs, etc. E-mail to for full details.

Tuesday, Jan. 22

Whitman Walker offers free HIV testing at Panam Supermarket (3552 14th St., NW) today from 4-7:30 p.m. For more information, visit

Whitman-Walker (1701 14th St., NW) holds its group Starting Over for Women tonight at 7. The group is for women whose long-term relationship with another woman. Registration is required. For more information, visit

Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, N.W.) hosts its Safer Sex Kit-packing program tonight from 7-10:30. The packing program is looking for more volunteers to help produce the kits because they say they are barely keeping up with demand. Admission is free and volunteers can just show up. For more information, visit

Wednesday, Jan. 23

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its HIV+ Newly Diagnosed Support Group tonight at 7. It is a confidential support group for anyone recently diagnosed with HIV and the group welcomes all genders and sexual orientations. For details, visit

The Lambda Bridge Club meets tonight at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., SE) at 7:30 p.m. for duplicate bridge. Newcomers are welcome and no reservations are needed. For more information or if you need a partner, visit

Thursday, Jan. 24

The HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STI and TB Administration of the D.C. Department of Health presents “Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning Activities” today from noon to 1 p.m. at HAHSTA (899 North Capitol St., NE). For more information, visit

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its gay men over 50 support group this evening at 6:30 p.m. The group is for gay men entering a new phase of life. Registration is required to attend. For more information, visit

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W) is hosting its weekly Best Package Contest tonight at 9 p.m. There is a $3 cover and there are $2 vodka drinks. Participants in the contest can win $200 in cash prizes. The event is hosted by Lena Lett and music by DJ Chord, DJ Madscience, and DJ Sean Morris. For details, visit


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


Gem from another era

‘The Show-Off’
Through Feb. 2
American Century Theater
Gunston Performing Arts Center, Theatre II
2700 South Lang Street, Arlington

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.


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