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Hobby Lobby and the war on women

Hobby Lobby, gay news, Washington Blade

Hobby Lobby (Photo by Mike Kalasnik; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The Supreme Court continued its war on women with the decision in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby.

The case was about whether the religious owners of Hobby Lobby stores could determine which contraceptive devices they will include in the health insurance they make available to their employees based on their own religious beliefs rather than on the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which guarantees access to coverage for all approved FDA contraceptive devices.

Organizations like The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a right-wing group supported the owners of the Hobby Lobby stores. They contend they could use their own religious beliefs and transfer those to the business, a corporation closely held by the family, to determine these decisions.

Walter Dellinger, acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration, posited correctly in an op-ed in the Washington Post, that the result of what the owners of Hobby Lobby asked the court to sanction was the ability to, “Selectively deny insurance coverage for contraceptive methods an employer considers sinful effectively making the employer a party to a woman’s medical consultations.”

Those of us who believe in the separation of church and state had hoped this issue had been decided long ago and that it would be evident that Hobby Lobby violated that separation. But clearly that isn’t the case. In its decision, the court held that “closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage.” They went further and held, “The government has failed to show that the mandate is the least restrictive means of advancing its interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to birth control.” In his concurring opinion Justice Kennedy wrote, “The government could pay for the coverage itself, so that women receive it.” What the court said is that it is fine for the corporation to discriminate against women and make them figure out another way to get their health coverage.

This decision, following on others such as the denial of a buffer zone at Planned Parenthood sites, makes it even more urgent for those who believe in both women’s rights and the strict separation of church and state to vote in the 2014 mid-term elections and keep the Senate in Democratic hands. The focus must then turn to ensuring that a Democrat is elected president in 2016. It is clear that as long as the right wing controls the Republican Party, their victories will mean the appointment of justices at all levels who don’t believe women should control their healthcare or in the clear separation of church and state.

When a corporation with 13,000 employees can justify even some healthcare decisions based solely on the owners’ religious beliefs there is a problem. We need to work to stop our nation from continuing down this path of blurring the separation of church and state even further.

On the positive side, the court did hold that its decision “concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates, that is for blood transfusions or vaccinations, necessarily fail if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs.”  It also apparently does not provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice such as discrimination against the LGBT community. But this makes it even clearer that this is a decision against women’s rights by five old white men.

What saved this week from being one of total depression for me was being fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen to the final sermon from Pastor Dean Snyder at Foundry United Methodist Church before his retirement. Snyder spoke of God’s love for all people and that we are all equal in his/her eyes. For 12 years, Dean Snyder has been senior pastor at Foundry and with his wife Jane has been a tower of strength standing up for individual rights. Together they have shown a clear understanding of the separation of church and state even when their own denomination disagreed.

He preached that God doesn’t discriminate. Snyder practiced his faith and stood with the homeless and poor; the downtrodden and the marginalized. Both he and Jane have been leaders in the movements to ensure that civil law is applied equally to all. Listening to Snyder has been inspirational even though I am not a Methodist. He always made me, as he did everyone with whom he came in contact, feel at home at Foundry and he restored my faith in religion.

For all those who believe in women’s rights and the sanctity of the separation of church and state, the Hobby Lobby case should be a rallying cry to elect candidates at all levels of government who share those beliefs.

03
Jul
2014

Defrocked Methodist pastor returns to D.C.

Frank Schaefer, United Methodist Church, gay news, Washington Blade

Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., appeared at Foundry United Methodist Church in December. (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas)

A Methodist minister from Pennsylvania who was defrocked as a clergyman in December for refusing to stop performing same-sex marriages is scheduled to return to D.C.’s Foundry United Methodist Church on Jan. 26.

Ex-pastor Frank Schaefer will deliver guest sermons at a service for “hope and justice” at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on the 26th, according to a statement released by Foundry. Foundry’s pastor, Rev. Dean Snyder, is a longtime ally of the LGBT community and has performed same-sex marriages.

The statement says two other United Methodist ministers who were defrocked will also participate in the services – Jimmy Creech and Beth Stroud. Church officials revoked Creech’s credentials as a Methodist minister in 1999 after he performed a holy union ceremony for a gay male couple in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Stroud was defrocked in 2001 after coming out as a lesbian while assigned as a minister for a United Methodist Church in Philadelphia.

Schaefer, Creech, Stroud and others will participate in a panel discussion at the church following the 11 a.m. worship service, the Foundry statement says.

“Foundry is on the forefront of full inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the life of the church,” the statement says, adding that Foundry continues to push for the United Methodist Church to end the “discriminatory language” related to LGBT people in its Book of Discipline or church law.

22
Jan
2014

Capital Pride names award recipients, entertainers

Dean Snyder, Capital Pride Hero, gay news, Washington Blade, Foundry UMC

Rev. Dean Snyder is among this year’s Capital Pride Heroes.(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Capital Pride, the organization that sponsors D.C.’s annual LGBT Pride parade, festival and related events, has named nine prominent LGBT activists and community allies as recipients of its annual Capital Pride awards.

Awards categories include the Capital Pride Heroes recognizing significant contributions to the LGBT and allied communities; Engendered Spirits, which recognizes contributions to and support for the transgender community; the Bill Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service; and the Larry Stansbury Award for Exemplary Contributions to Pride.

The recipients are scheduled to be honored May 21 from 7-10 p.m. at the Capital Pride Heroes Gala & Silent Auction at the Artisphere arts center, 1101 Wilson Blvd., in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Va.

The Capital Pride Heroes are:

• LGBT rights advocate Nicholas F. Benton, editor and publisher of the Falls Church News-Press, which covers general interest as well as LGBT-related news in Northern Virginia.

• David M. Perez, board president of the Latino GLBT History Project and development director for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest and oldest Latino membership organization in the U.S.

• Rev. Dean Snyder, senior pastor at Foundry United Methodist Church in D.C. and, according to a Capital Pride biography, a “prime and unwavering leader in the fight to end discrimination against LGBT persons in the United Methodist denomination.”

• Dr. Imani Woody, founding director and CEO of Mary’s House for Older Adults, the first LGBT-friendly residential housing development project in Washington, D.C., and a diversity consultant in the field of health, aging and other issues affecting LGBT people of color.

• Tom Yates, according to the Pride committee, is “a steadfast leader and supporter of the Leather/Levi community” and its charitable activities and a longtime member, supporter and past board member for the LGBT Catholic organizations Dignity USA and Dignity Washington.

The Engendered Spirits awardees are Amy Nelson, supervising attorney at Whitman-Walker Health’s Legal Services Program, which provided services for more than 260 transgender clients in 2013; and Alexa Rodriguez, “an avid advocate for transgender Latina equality” and an activist for 12 years “fighting for the rights of the HIV positive and members of the transgender community.”

The Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service is being given to Al Pellenberg, who has been involved in organizing LGBT Pride celebrations for 30 years in Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

The Stansbury Award for Exemplary Contributions for Pride is being given to Robert York, deputy director of development for Whitman-Walker Health and executive director of Capital Pride for six years – from 1999 to 2005.

Capital Pride also announced two of four entertainers for this year’s festival: DJ Cassidy and Betty Who. The remaining two headliners were to be announced after Blade deadline.

07
May
2014

Pride Heroes Gala

The 2014 Pride Heroes Gala was held at Artisphere in Arlington, Va. on Wednesday. The 2014 Pride Heroes included Nicholas Benton, David Pérez, Rev. Dean Snyder, Dr. Imani Woody and Tom Yates. Engendered Spirit awards were presented to Amy Nelson and Alexa Rodriguez. The Larry Stansbury Award for Exemplary Contributions to Pride was presented to Robert York. The Bill Miles Award of Outstanding Volunteer Service was given to Al Pellenberg. Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette spoke at the event. Entertainment was provided by the string quartet Well-Strung. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Ben de la Creme 

24
May
2014

Best of Gay D.C.: Lifetime Achievement Award

Rev. Dean Snyder (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Rev. Dean Snyder (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

For the first time in the 12-year history of the Washington Blade’s annual Best of Gay D.C. readers poll awards, the Blade has selected a “lifetime achievement award.” This honor is being awarded to Rev. Dean Snyder, an LGBT ally and senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church (1500 16th St., N.W.).

Snyder, in his 12th year at Foundry in a ministry that began in 1968, says he became sympathetic to the plight and struggle of gay Christians during his years as a campus minister in Pennsylvania.

“I spent a lot of time listening to my gay students tell me of their struggles,” Snyder says. “This includes people who desperately did not want to be gay. I’ll never forget one student who was in aversion therapy and it just broke my heart to see the pain he was going through. … He was so convinced his parents would never accept him and that he could not be a Christian if he was gay.”

By the time Snyder came to Foundry, he was known within the United Methodist congregation for being an LGBT-affirming minister. The church had become “reconciling” (its term for open to gays) five years before he arrived, but he found a simple way to make them feel more included.

“They were saying that while the church was reconciling, they didn’t hear that much acknowledgement of it during the service,” Snyder says. “I decided I would mention it in some way — even if it was as simple as so-and-so is in the hospital, we remember he and his partner George today — … in each service. I just made it a repetitive thing. I used to think being a minister was about being creative but often it’s just about saying the same things over and over.”

Foundry, no doubt in large part for its location between Dupont and Logan Circles, has always had a large LGBT core among its parishioners. Snyder says about a third of its 1,200 members (about 650 attend its two weekly services) are LGBT.

He says the denomination’s General Conference has never punished the church for being LGBT friendly, although the United Methodist denomination as a whole is not totally on board. He says he regularly gets e-mail from around the country “from people who chastise us.”

Snyder says LGBT issues are just one part of the church’s mission. It also works on homelessness, high rates of incarceration among minority youth and other areas in which it advocates for change.

Snyder has announced his retirement. He will end his ministry there next June.

24
Oct
2013

Best of Gay D.C. 2013: People

Best of Gay D.C., Best Artist, Wicked Jezabel, gay news, Washington Blade

Wicked Jezabel (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best singer or band:

Wicked Jezabel

Wickedjezabel.com

Runner-up: Tom Goss

 

Best of Gay D.C., Eric Fanning, Pentagon, Air Force, Best Bureaucrat, gay news, Washington Blade

Eric Fanning (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best bureaucrat:

Eric Fanning

Runner-up: Nancy Sutley

 

As acting secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning personifies the service motto of ”Aim High … Fly-Fight-Win.”

He’s the highest-ranking openly gay civilian official in the U.S. military, overseeing procurement and operations for a $140 billion department at the Air Force. Fanning wins the 2013 award for Best LGBT Bureaucrat or Federal Worker and is the first-ever winner from the Washington Blade in this new category.

Fanning, 45, has had a long political career in D.C. After his initial work on Capitol Hill, Fanning worked during the Clinton administration at the Pentagon and the White House. Once President Obama assumed office, Fanning went to work within the Department of the Navy and continued in that role until he was nominated as Air Force under secretary.

Although the Senate confirmed Fanning for the lesser role as under secretary for the Air Force, Fanning became acting secretary when Michael Donley retired. Since that time, he was among the speakers at an LGBT Pride celebration at the Pentagon in June.

In an interview with the Washington Blade, Fanning said he left the Pentagon after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was implemented in the 1990s and didn’t want to come back until a president was elected who would end it.

“It was very difficult when we were getting to the end of the first two years and it wasn’t clear if we were going to be able to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Fanning said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do if we didn’t get the repeal through because some people couldn’t work because they were openly gay or lesbian.” (CJ)

 

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Local heroine:

Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s long-serving congressional delegate and a longtime proponent of LGBT equality.

Runner-up: Katy Ray

 

 

David Perruzza (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

David Perruzza (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Local hero:

Dave Perruzza

Runner-up: Freddie Lutz (Freddie’s Beach Bar)

 

Dave Perruzza, perhaps best known as manager of JR.’s, also devotes much time to organizing the annual 17th Street High Heel Race. The 27th annual race is scheduled for Oct. 29. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Perruzza began working at the well-known Dupont Circle gay bar in 1996, handling coat check. He soon worked his way up to the top spot at the 17th Street, N.W., bar known for its friendly environment and popular theme nights. Readers from near and far appreciate that Perruzza strives to make everyone feel welcome and at home, whether you’re a local headed to happy hour after a long day on the Hill or a tourist looking for a friendly face.

 

 

Xavier Bottoms (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Xavier Bottoms (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best drag king:

Xavier Bottoms

Runner-up: Sebastian Katz

 

Best of Gay D.C., Best Realtor, Mark Rutstein, gay news, Washington Blade

Mark Rutstein (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Realtor:

Mark Rutstein

Runner-up: Ray Gernhart

 

Mark Rutstein is a repeat winner in this category. He works both as manager of Cobalt and as a Realtor for Coldwell Banker on 17th Street.

 

DJ Wess (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

DJ Wess (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best DJ:

DJ Wess

Runner-up: Chord Bezerra

 

Heidi Glüm (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Heidi Glüm (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best drag queen:

Heidi Glum

Runner-up: Ba’Naka

 

For Heidi Glum (aka Miles DeNiro), drag was a ticket out of a miserable job.

“I was a shampoo person at a salon,” she says. “It was a terrible job. I was essentially a maid. So I quit and all I do now is drag. I’ve been busting my ass to make it a career.”

Glum (pronounced “gloom”) started drag about five years ago in New York where she says she was a long-time “club kid.” Back in D.C. the past two years, Glum has several monthly gigs — a drag bingo at Mellow Mushroom, Gay Bash, WTF and Crack and “a lot of stuff in New York too.”

At times it’s been rough going. Glum was attacked by two patrons at Manny & Olga’s, a pizzeria on 14th Street in June after a Black Cat performance. Glum was beaten and called “tranny” and “faggot” in an incident captured on video.

She says her philosophy of great drag means infusing feeling in the work.

“You can tell when someone is really feeling it,” she says. “It comes up from somewhere inside you. You either have it or you don’t, this sort of spark. You can tell some of them are just dressed up for the hell of it.” (JD)

 

Best of Gay D.C., Ed Bailey, Best Business Person, Town Danceboutique, Number Nine, gay news, Washington Blade

Ed Bailey (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best businessperson:

Ed Bailey (Town Danceboutique)

Runner-up: Karen Diehl

 

Eddie Weingart (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Eddie Weingart (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best massage:

Eddie Weingart

Deep Knead Massage Therapy and Body Work

Runner-up: The Legendary Dave

 

For Eddie Weingart, “making people feel whole is the number one thing,” in his massage work.

Having survived a serious car accident in 2001, he knows first-hand about pain management. He says his work, which incorporates both ancient and modern techniques, is tailored to “bring a wellness of body, mind and spirit.”

Weingart is gay and is based in Silver Spring, though he has many clients in D.C. He guesses about 95 percent of his clients are LGBT. He’s been in the area three years and averages 50-60 massages per week. (JD)

 

Denis Largeron (Photo by Denis Largeron)

Denis Largeron (Photo by Denis Largeron)

Best visual artist:

Denis Largeron

Runner-up Lisa Marie Thalhammer

 

Digital photographer Denis Largeron has been shooting part-time professionally for about three years. By day, he works at World Bank.

He focuses on commercial work and does weddings, portraits, what he calls “boudoir” photo and various gay events.

“I think last year I shot about every gay circuit party there was on the East Coast,” he says. “Most of the time, it’s promoters who hire me to shoot their events but I also shoot for some magazines as well.”

Largeron is gay and came to the U.S. about six years ago to be with a then-boyfriend.

“For me, it’s all about having a client and meeting their specific need,” he says. “Every client has a different expectation and that’s what I like about it. You have to adjust.” (JD)

 

Bethany Carter Howlett (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bethany Carter Howlett (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best personal trainer:

Bethany Carter Howlett

Runner-up: Drew McNeil

 

Finding the motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle can be difficult. Bethany Carter Howlett makes it easier with her fitness expertise.

Howlett is a professional fitness athlete, formerly a body builder and registered dietician. She holds multiple certifications and trains anyone from children to professional athletes. She also owns four gyms in Virginia.

“I feel being a trainer who practices what she preaches by competing, training and living the healthy lifestyle of a professional athlete allows for a strong advantage in my favor among other personal trainers in the area,” Howlett says.

Her training programs are diverse from one-on-one sessions to group classes. Howlett can train people in person or even online. Her diet plans are specially made to suit the needs of the individual from their genetic lineage to their health history.

A Virginia native, Howlett began gymnastics at age 3. As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, where she received her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology, she was a cheerleader.

Howlett is married to Jason Rowley and they are expecting their first child. Howlett has continued training clients and working out throughout her pregnancy. She hopes to be back in the gym two weeks after she gives birth. (MC)

 

 

Bruce DePuyt (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bruce DePuyt (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best TV personality:
Bruce DePuyt WJLA, News Channel 8
Runner-up: Chuck Bell, NBC4

 

“News Talk with Bruce DePuyt” on News Channel 8 remains among the metropolitan area’s most influential local news programs.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and other politicians and officials frequently discuss the important issues of the day. LGBT-specific topics that include the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, efforts to repeal Virginia’s gay nuptials ban and Russia’s LGBT rights record are also a regular part of the weekday talk show’s line-up.

“I’ve been a loyal reader of the Washington Blade for 30 years, so this is a very special honor,” DePuyt said upon learning he had won.

DePuyt has been with News Channel 8 since 1993.

He covered Maryland politics extensively until he became the host of “News Talk” in 2002.

“I also want to acknowledge my employer of the last 20 years, WJLA/NewsChannel 8 for always being in my corner,” DePuyt said.

DePuyt was a reporter and anchor at WVIR in Charlottesville, Va., before he arrived at News Channel 8. He also produced an award-winning weekly talk show, “21 This Week” on “Cable News 21” in Montgomery County, Md.

“News Talk” airs on News Channel 8 weekdays live at 10 a.m. (ML)

 

 

Best of Gay D.C., best actor, Logan Sutherland, gay news, Washington Blade

Logan Sutherland (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best actor:

Logan Sutherland

Runner-up: Will Gartshore

 

At just 22, Logan Sutherland is at the beginning of his acting career and he’s already winning awards. “This is an incredible surprise,” he says. “I didn’t even promote myself. I’ve been way too busy!”

After graduating from American University’s musical theater program in the spring, Sutherland began landing acting gigs straight away beginning with multiple roles in the Source Festival at Source Theatre in June. Shortly after, he drew praise for his showy turn in this summer’s Fringe Festival favorite “One Night in New York.”

“It was like Disney had made a big gay musical about a guy coming to New York looking for love,” he says. “I played Andy, one of the bitchy people that he met in Chelsea. He was like the Regina George [from “Mean Girls”] — a real bitch.”

A genuine triple threat, Sutherland has been performing since he was a kid in small town Schwenksville, Pa. Currently the out actor is understudying for “Lulu and the Brontosaurus” at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. Later this season he will appear in Woolly Mammoth’s “The Summoning of Everyman,” a morality play that now reads as satire.

When not acting, Sutherland works as a server at Founding Farmers three blocks from the White House.  He’s considering film work, which may involve a move to New York or California in the future. But for now, the Dupont Circle resident says he’s learning a lot and happy to be a part of the D.C. theater scene. (PF)

 

Best actress:

Jessica Thorne

Runner-up: Holly Twyford

 

Jessica Thorne is a fresh and definitely welcomed face on the local theater scene. The self-described straight LGBT ally initially left her native Georgia for D.C. to attend Catholic University’s musical theater program. After graduating in 2011, she immediately began performing with Synetic Theatre Company, the never boring movement-based troupe based in Crystal City.

“I’m incredibly grateful to Synetic. They changed me as an artist,” says Thorne who remains a member of the company. “As an actor it makes you incredibly comfortable with your body and who you are in space and time. It was a great experience and very singular to the company.”

Last season, Thorne was an ensemble member in director Ethan McSweeney’s gorgeous production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Shakespeare Theater Company. And more recently she shone as wholesome Janet in Studio Theatre’s “Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show.”

As a freshman in high school, Thorne was certain she wanted to pursue a career in theater. She is grateful to her mother and grandmother for supporting her choice to study theater in college. “They’ve been there every step of the way,” she says. “For me, that support has been really imperative in becoming an artist. You base a lot of your success on the people who are backing you.” She also thanks her colleagues in the D.C. theater community whom she describes as incredibly supportive and generous.

Currently studying voice in New York with singer/composer Marisa Michelson, Thorne considers D.C. home and is slated to perform here in two shows this spring (about which she cannot yet reveal details). We promise to keep readers posted. (PF)

 

Kat Skyles (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Kat Skyles (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Hill staffer:

Kat Skiles

Runner-up: Guy Cecil

 

President Barack Obama (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Barack Obama (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best straight ally:

President Barack Obama

Runner-up: Brooke Jordan

 

Best of Gay D.C., Best Bartender, Carlos Arroyo, JR's, gay news, Washington Blade

Carlos Arroyo (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best bartender:

Carlos Arroyo (JR.’s)

Runner-up: Liz Warner-Osborne (Cobalt)

 

Carlos Arroyo says the relaxed atmosphere at JR.’s makes it a great place to work.

“It’s a great vibe overall,” he says. “The clientele is super awesome. We have amazing regulars and people just go there to have a great time. It’s not pretentious. They leave work and everything at the door. … It’s probably one of the most relaxed bars I’ve worked in.”

Arroyo has been in D.C. about 13 years and has dabbled in theater, communications work, personal training, catering and more. He also helps his partner with a photography business and says the two “travel quite often.”

Arroyo previously worked at Number Nine on P Street for about a year and a half, but moved over to JR.’s. He’s quick to assert he has enjoyed working at both hotspots.

“When JR.’s comes calling, you can’t turn them down,” he says. “It’s one of the busiest gay bars in D.C.” (JD)

 

Jamie Romano (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Naff)

Jamie Romano (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Naff)

Best Rehoboth bartender:

Jamie Romano (Purple Parrot)

Runner-up: Chris Chandler (Blue Moon)

 

Jamie Romano is a repeat winner, having taken this prize two years ago. He reclaims it this year in a close contest with Chris Chandler. Romano has an uncanny ability to remember his customers’ favorite drink and often has one at the ready before you sit down. You can find him behind the main bar at the gay-owned Purple Parrot and at the popular outdoor bar in back, known as the Biergarten.

 

 

Best of Gay D.C., Josh Deese, Trevor Project, Judy Shepard, Committed Activist, gay news, Washington Blade

Josh Deese (Photo courtesy of Josh Deese)

Most committed activist:

Josh Deese

Runner-up: Halley Cohen

 

Florida native Josh Deese knew he wanted to make a difference in the LGBT community after being bullied for his sexuality growing up led him to attempt suicide.  His experience drew him to The Trevor Project’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC).

“Just having a feeling that people don’t appreciate you and that you’re worthless takes its toll on you,” says Deese. “It only takes one, a friend, parent or ally to stand up and save someone’s life and let them know they aren’t alone.”

Deese, who cites Harvey Milk as one of his heroes, has spoken with The Trevor Project about LGBT youth suicide, most recently at The National Cathedral with Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s mother. He also serves as the Neighboring Commuter Representative on the University of Maryland Government Association.

In the future he plans to work in real estate in the D.C. area and eventually would like to run for the U.S. House. He hopes his efforts to help the LGBT community will lead to LGBT youth feeling safer and appreciated in the future. He says he wants them to understand life is an option.

He’s a sophomore at the University of Maryland majoring in government and politics with a minor in LGBT studies. (MC)

 

 

Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best gay politician:

Del. Heather Mizeur (Maryland)

Runner-up: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

 

Del. Heather Mizeur has represented Takoma Park and Silver Spring in the Maryland General Assembly since 2006. But she’s best known now as the openly gay candidate for governor. She faces current Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler in the contest. She would make history as the state’s first female governor and the country’s first openly LGBT elected governor if she prevails next year.

“Diversity is enormously important,” she told the Blade. “Not simply to have a gay governor, but to have a governor who can represent the voices of people in communities that have not always had a voice in the process.”

 

 

Allyson Robinson (Washington Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

Allyson Robinson (Washington Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

Best trans advocate:

Allyson Robinson

Runner-up: Ruby Corado

 

It was a difficult year for Allyson Robinson, who stepped down from her position as executive director of OutServe-SLDN in June. Robinson, who led OutServe-SLDN for nine months, was the only openly transgender leader of a national LGBT rights organization. A new group, Servicemembers, Partners and Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All (SPARTA) announced its formation in July, following the turmoil at OutServe-SLDN. Robinson remains a prominent voice for transgender rights and LGBT equality.

 

 

Best of Gay D.C., Best Amateur Athlete, Stonewall Kickball, Martin Espinoza, gay news, Washington Blade

Martin Espinoza (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best amateur athlete:

Martin Espinoza (Stonewall Kickball)

Runner-up: Julie Olsen

 

Diego Orbegoso (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Diego Orbegoso (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best stylist:

Diego Orbegoso, Bang Salon

Runner-up: Dmitri Lords, Zoe Salon & Spa

 

Diego Obregoso says the best part of being a stylist is “the magical boosting of people’s energy by making them feel good.”

With a background in makeup and cosmetology, Obregoso has been at Bang Metropole (1519 15th St., N.W.) for six years. He’s gay and estimates about 60 percent of his customers are LGBT.

A native of Lima, Peru, Obregoso has been in the U.S. 11 years. (JD)

 

 

Best of Gay D.C., David Lett, Best Clergy, gay news, Washington Blade

The Very Rev. David B. Lett (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best clergy:

Rev. David Lett

Runner-up: Rabbi Shira Stutman

 

Sometimes Saturday is a very short night sleep-wise for David Lett. He’s often out until the wee hours hostessing (as Lena Lett) the drag show at Town Danceboutique. Sundays are often spent doing spiritual duties as supply clergy with the North American Old Catholic Church, an LGBT-affirming offshoot of the Roman Catholic Church where years ago, Lett went to seminary and studied in Rome.

Lett says the two roles aren’t as dissimilar as they might seem.

“To be a drag performer, you have to be confident and you have to be able to put yourself in front of people and …. take them from wherever they are to a new place. A priest does a lot of the same things, there’s just not as much liquor going around. … The basic tenets of the role are identical. It’s just the means by which they are done that is completely different.”  (JD)

 

Rev. Dean Snyder (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Rev. Dean Snyder (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Lifetime achievement award:

Rev. Dean Snyder (Foundry United Methodist Church)

 

Rev. Dean Snyder has been an LGBT ally for 40 years and he is the inaugural recipient of the Blade’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

He has fought to change his denomination’s ban on same-sex marriages being performed by the church’s ministers. In 2010, the Foundry congregation voted 367-8 to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the church.

A large portion of Foundry’s congregation is LGBT, including couples that have been in committed relationships for decades. This brought Snyder to question the church’s laws.

“We started doing services to honor gay and lesbian committed relationships, which we argued were not a violation of the rules because we weren’t actually consecrating a marriage,” Snyder told the Blade. “But then … when it was clear marriage was going to become legal in Washington, D.C., then we couldn’t fudge anymore. It was either marriage or it wasn’t.”

24
Oct
2013

2012 was a very good year

It was an interesting year in so many ways. Looking back made me realize the first thing I did was accept reaching the age when many people retire. I contemplated that for about 10 minutes before moving on to more relevant thoughts. After all, life was still fun, my job still interesting and writing was still something I enjoy.

Each month of the year brought with it some new events to focus on. Overriding everything was the election. In January, I wondered why we should care what the Iowa caucus results were — and I am still wondering. That was about the same time the pizza guy flamed out over his transgressions with a series of women. The ups and downs of the Republican debates were fascinating in a macabre way, like watching a train wreck is fascinating. Some of the candidates faded faster than others including Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann (not fast enough), Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry. Others like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum hung around longer and used the eventual nominee Mitt Romney as a piñata dragging him further to the right all to the eventual benefit of President Obama.

Then there was Foundry United Methodist Church’s fight for LGBT rights within the Methodist Church. While they lost that fight we can all be thankful for the ongoing work of Foundry and their Senior Pastor Dean Snyder. In May, Dr. Robert Spitzer, a leading member of the American Psychological Association, wrote an apology (better late than never) that admitted he was wrong when he authored a study supporting “reparative therapy” for gays. That study harmed unknown numbers of young gay men who were subjected to this phony therapy and still are in some areas.

June brought Pride with its festivals and parades and the knowledge that we now had a president who supported marriage equality and was willing to stand up and tell the world. There was also the decision by the Supreme Court to declare “Obamacare” constitutional. In his statements on the Affordable Care Act as well as other comments Justice Scalia again showed why he should be impeached.

July brought the International AIDS Conference to the United States for the first time in 20 years. There were meetings and talk about how far we have come in the fight against HIV/AIDS and recognition of how far we still had to go. There was the announcement of the first patient, called the “Berlin Patient” who has reportedly been cured and the discussion of spending more money on finding a cure and not just finding a vaccine. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the conference and to great applause spoke of a generation without AIDS being within reach.

In August we watched the spectacle of the Republican Convention in which they approved a platform clearly more appropriate for the 19th century than the 21st. They highlighted their fight against women and the LGBT community and selected the Romney/Ryan ticket, which proved a colossal mistake.

The election was going fine for the Democrats until the first presidential debate, when President Obama barely showed up. An election thought to be in the bag suddenly became a nail biter for a short while. But those of us who are Nate Silver fans soon understood that President Obama was going to win a second term and do so fairly easily. The bonus was winning marriage referenda in four states and gaining House seats and two Senate seats as well.

All in all, a good year yet it ended with so many things left to be done. Some are easy and can be done with the stroke of a pen like the president signing an executive order to ban discrimination in federal contracting. Others — like setting the nation on a course to fiscal solvency — will take negotiation and perseverance and require our help as we pressure Congress to act.

But at midnight on Dec. 31, as we say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in 2013, let us all drink a toast to the year past and say a prayer and pledge to each other that in the year to come we will keep up the good fight for equality and will do everything in our power to make the world a safer and healthier place for all.

27
Dec
2012