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Howling at the moon: Dupont group decries noise

noise, gay news, Washington Blade

Claiming ignorance after moving into an entertainment district should not be grounds for later complaints regarding living in a commercial zone.

The tiny cadre of chronic complainers railing against the indignities of city living in D.C.’s Dupont Circle mixed-use neighborhood seldom fail to amaze and amuse.

So it was once again this week when Washington City Paper advised that yet another small ad hoc anti-business group had launched in the commercial district. Headlined “Citizen Vigilante Group Forms to Combat Noise in Dupont,” the publication reported that residents of the Palladium Condominium, directly adjacent to the six-lane Connecticut Avenue, N.W., commercial thoroughfare, were upset about noise from nightlife venues in the downtown area.

Named the D.C. Nightlife Noise Coalition, the assemblage appears to be the latest incarnation of one formed by Palladium resident Abigail Nichols, now a Dupont Circle neighborhood advisory commission member from district 2B-05. Her group, the Alcohol Sanity Coalition D.C., was formed in an unsuccessful effort opposing liquor-licensing reforms enacted a little over a year ago.

Nichols had argued that nightlife establishments have a monetary incentive to play music with “a rhythmic beat” at elevated levels. She publicly claimed that “alcohol tastes sweeter in the presence of loud music” and that “young males consume beer 20 percent faster” when listening to it.

The new “anti-noise” gaggle is demanding enforcement of a city ordinance limiting exterior sound within one meter outside venues to less than 60 decibels, the equivalent of two persons laughing during normal conversation. In a 23-page document detailing their annoyance, building residents acknowledge that this measurement is equivalent to “a quiet conversation.”

Sound measurements conducted in another part of the city by a restaurant battling objections to an outdoor patio abutting a major traffic artery registered a passing Metrobus at decibel levels in the mid-to-high-80s, with patron conversations adding no additional noise to the surrounding area. Sound meter readings by the Dupont coterie indicate that in seven of eight instances the noise level immediately outside area nightlife establishments overlapped with the ambient levels of auto traffic prior to venue opening.

This so-called “citizen group” objects to standard city inspector protocol to first verify that an excessive noise level exists within the complaining person’s home. They argue that, according to the law, the sound measurement must be made within one meter – or 3.28 feet – of the business. City regulators, however, have discovered that businesses targeted by coordinated cliques generate anonymous phone complaints without merit or from blocks away. In a high-profile instance several years ago on U Street, officials utilized Caller ID to visit the home of a woman who had phoned in nearly 100 complaints, finding no unusual noise could be heard inside her apartment.

These Dupont dwellers are actually late to the public discussion regarding noise abatement strategies and should be careful what they wish for in any official response. A D.C. Council committee recently engaged a task force meeting for two years to make recommendations regarding revising noise regulations. Key among the determinations was requiring housing construction soundproofing materials and window qualities to prevent noise seepage into units.

That should be of concern to Steve Coniglio, developer of 70 planned units of housing on a commercially zoned street only a half-block from several nightclubs, who has joined the complaining Palladium residents around the corner. Is it not his responsibility to ensure construction includes sufficient soundproofing to mitigate noise originating within a commercial area? Or should he be allowed to build housing units not adequately designed for urban noise?

Claiming ignorance after moving into an entertainment district, however, should not be grounds for later complaints regarding living in a commercial zone.

Before this disgruntled group howls too loudly, they might pause to consider the potential downside to their whining. If the city determines that current noise restrictions are unrealistically low or unenforceable, the likely solution may be to either raise the allowable level or officially require that sound measurements be conducted inside the complainants’ domicile.

How loudly would a hearty cackle register on a sound monitor?

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow him on Twitter, @MarkLeeDC or reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

05
Feb
2014

Youth Pride Day

The Youth Pride Alliance of the D.C. Metro Area held Youth Pride Day at Dupont Circle on Saturday. (Washington Blade photos by Damien Salas) Youth Pride 

08
May
2014

Pro-LGBT banner set on fire at D.C. church

St. Luke's United Methodist Church Mission Center, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. police are investigating the Feb. 5 burning of a banner outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center. (Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Church, a multi-site United Methodist congregation in D.C. that includes St. Luke’s Mission Center Church at Wisconsin and Calvert streets, N.W.)

D.C. police are investigating the burning of a banner last week outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street, N.W., as a possible anti-LGBT hate crime.

Rev. Charles Parker, senior pastor of three LGBT supportive United Methodist churches in D.C., including St. Luke’s, said in a Feb. 6 statement posted on the church website that the incident appeared to be related to the heated debate within the Methodist church over same-sex marriage.

Church spokesperson Jeff Clouser told the Blade on Monday, Feb. 10, that St. Luke’s employees discovered last Tuesday, Feb. 4, that the banner had been burned but weren’t sure exactly when it happened.

“I visited our St. Luke’s campus yesterday to find that someone had burned – yes, burned – our ‘Stop the Trials’ banner calling for a stop to church trials of clergy officiating at same-gender weddings,” Parker wrote in his statement.

He was referring to a banner currently being displayed by LGBT supportive Methodist churches in D.C. and other cities that consists of a rainbow flag bearing the words, “Stop the Trials.” The message refers to a decision by church leaders to put on trial and defrock pastors who defy Methodist Church rules that prohibit its pastors from performing same-sex marriages.

“I am clear in my own wrestling with scripture, tradition, reason, and experience that the current position of our church is wrong,” Parker said in his statement. “I am also clear that other colleagues of good will and integrity have likewise wrestled with the issue and come to a different conclusion,” he said.

“What I would like to ask is, ‘can we respect each other enough to allow each of us to act in accordance with our conscience?’”

Foundry United Methodist Church, another LGBT supportive church on 16th Street, N.W., near Dupont Circle, has twice welcomed as a guest speaker Frank Schaefer, a former Methodist minister from Pennsylvania who was defrocked for performing his son’s same-sex wedding.

Foundry is among the D.C.-area Methodist churches that are displaying the “Stop the Trials” banner.

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said the incident occurred on Feb. 4 and was reported to police on Feb. 5. She said police have classified it as a “destruction of property-hate bias incident.”

10
Feb
2014

Outdoor café fee hike hot as a summer sidewalk

fee, gay news, Washington Blade

The popular patio at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

It might have seemed like a good idea to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to scheme up a proposal to hike city fees for outdoor cafés by $1 million in the dreary days of winter. But it sure looked silly when the public caught wind of it last week in the run-up to the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

When D.C. Council members sat down at an all-day meeting to review Gray’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Support Act, incorporating Council recommendations, a previously little-known proposal to more than double sidewalk café fees for most businesses and nearly double them for the remaining few dominated public attention.

Dupont Circle eateries on 17th Street were featured on NBC4 News with reporter Tom Sherwood. Hank’s Oyster Bar manager Jeff Strine and Floriana Restaurant owner Dino Tapper pointed out that ever-increasing fees and taxes were a growing hardship for local establishments. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells pledged his opposition to the increase, saying, “It really sends a message to small business that we’re raising the fee for the sake of raising the fee.”

Mayor Gray wants to increase annual fees by 66 percent – although a companion provision eliminating prorated fees for partial-year seasonal operation converts it to a much higher amount for all but about 30 businesses among hundreds.

Reaction was equally swift and harsh to an additional element of the legislation. A D.C. Council committee, chaired by frequent enterprise nemesis Mary Cheh, had approved a new penalty stipulating that business owners could face imprisonment of up to 10 days or a fine of $1,000 for each day of a regulatory violation.

Local restaurateur and industry advocate Geoff Tracy remarked on social media, “I’ll never understand why politicians keep restaurants perpetually in the crosshairs.”

At-Large Council member David Grosso – not always a friend to local small businesses but proven when provoked to possess common-sense reactions to the most egregious excesses – took to Twitter to call the idea of locking up business owners for regulatory infractions “ridiculous.” Logan Circle neighborhood advisory chair Matt Raymond sardonically commented on Facebook, “We MUST get these dangerous scofflaws whose sidewalk cafés encroach one inch beyond their permit off the streets and behind bars, where they belong!”

You could envision neighborhood naysayers rustling around in kitchen drawers for tape measures. Cheh sensibly demurred, suggesting she was willing to remove the prison provision.

Gray’s proposal, along with Cheh’s committee, also relinquishes future D.C. Council control of regulations and fees – instead giving the executive exclusive authority to determine all licensing approvals, rules and permit costs. Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington President Kathy Hollinger had earlier written to Council members arguing against investing sole authority with the mayor.

“Sidewalk cafés contribute greatly to the ambiance of our city, create jobs and provide substantial revenues…through sales and employment taxes,” Hollinger wrote. “In addition, sidewalk cafés contribute to public safety, by encouraging ‘eyes on the street,’ a known inhibitor of criminal activity. Given these important contributions…the rental rates paid for the use of public space for cafés should be part of larger policy discussions before the full Council…”

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, however, astonishingly revealed he thought the proposed fees weren’t set high enough.

David Garber, a neighborhood advisory commissioner in the rapidly developing Navy Yard area where residents gleefully cheer the opening of each new outdoor dining and drinking space, offered a succinct retort. “D.C. already has a reputation for being a difficult and costly place to start and run a business. When businesses and entrepreneurs are considering where to open, grow, and succeed, I hope that in the future our reputation is a little more friendly than it is today. Proposed fee increases like this won’t bring us there, and will ultimately cost us more than we hope to earn.”

D.C. Council budget deliberations get underway this week. As quick as an egg fries up on a hot summer sidewalk, the Council should reject these proposals.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

28
May
2014

From Stonewall to marriage equality at lightning speed

Stonewall to marriage, gay news, Washington Blade, National Equality March

Even those of us involved in the fight for women’s rights and civil rights would never have believed the speed at which things are changing for the LGBT community. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The progress from Stonewall to marriage equality in my lifetime is amazing. My accepting who I am mirrored the evolving LGBT movement. Coming of age at 21 in New York City, a gay man deep in the closet, hiding my sexual orientation to become a teacher. At 25, starting a political career and working for the most gay-friendly politician in the nation, the congresswoman who introduced the first ENDA bill in Congress, yet still deep in the closet.

Then moving to Washington, D.C. at 31, a city that just elected a mayor who credited the LGBT community and the Stein Democratic Club with making the difference in his election. Pride events were gaining in strength and visibility and my first in Dupont Circle had me hiding behind a tree to make sure my picture wouldn’t end up in a newspaper. Then life started moving faster for me and the LGBT community. By the time I was 34, we were beginning to hear about AIDS and that coincided with my coming out to friends. Then began the process of my morphing into an LGBT activist joining in the fight against HIV/AIDS and openly participating in marches for LGBT rights, openly attending Pride events on a muddy field in Dupont, and being a regular at Rascals, the bar of the moment.

Over the ensuing years the organized LGBT community would get stronger and stand up for our rights and I would find that being “out” still had its consequences. Being rejected for a job for being gay was one of them. As the community turned to more activism, my role in politics was becoming more identified with being gay. First becoming a columnist for the Washington Blade and then finding my picture on the front page of the Washington Post supporting a mayoral candidate and being identified as among other things a gay activist.

As the fight for marriage equality heated up in D.C., GLAA activist Rick Rosendall and I met at a little outdoor lunch place on 17th Street and set the plans in motion to form the Foundation for All DC Families, which begat the Campaign for All DC Families, which helped coordinate the fight for marriage equality in the District.

For so many who grew up in the Baby Boomer generation, life continues to hold many surprises. But even those of us involved in the fight for women’s rights and civil rights would never have believed the speed at which things are changing for the LGBT community.

The courts are moving at a much faster pace than anyone could have predicted even a year ago, striking down bans on gay marriage enacted by state legislatures. State constitutional amendments banning marriage equality are being declared unconstitutional by a raft of federal judges. From Oklahoma to Kentucky, Utah to Virginia, federal judges are saying that states must recognize these marriages. While the cases are being appealed there is a clear path for one or more of them to reach the Supreme Court in its next term. While they weren’t ready to make a decision when they rejected the Prop 8 case in 2013, they will now probably have to decide the fate of marriage equality nationwide and determine whether it is constitutional to discriminate against gay and lesbian citizens.

Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in her decision in Virginia added to the so-far unanimous group of federal judges who have thrown out these bans. Judge Allen quoted from Mildred Loving, who was at the center of the 1967 Supreme Court case that struck down laws banning interracial marriage. At the time that case was decided only 14 states had laws allowing interracial marriage and already there are 17 states and the District of Columbia that allow gay marriage. While people are hailing her decision she clearly had to be embarrassed when she had to amend her written opinion because she confused the U. S. Constitution with the Declaration of Independence. She isn’t the first and won’t be the last to do that.

Clearly the time has come in our country for full equality. The decisions made by these federal judges have been based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor. Then Attorney General Eric Holder announced “the federal government would recognize legal same-sex marriages in federal matters including bankruptcies, prison visits and survivor benefits.” He stated that, “It is the [Justice Department's] policy to recognize lawful same-sex marriages as broadly as possible, to ensure equal treatment for all members of society regardless of sexual orientation.”

In what seems like lightning speed, the LGBT community is moving toward full civil and human rights.

18
Feb
2014

Kluwe named grand marshal of Pride parade

Capital Pride Parade, gay news, Washington Blade

Though the parade and festival are next weekend, many official Capital Pride events are underway now. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Some moan and groan every November about so-called “Christmas creep” — retailers setting up their displays earlier, it seems, every year — but a similar thing is happening with Capital Pride and its various spin-off events, both official and unofficial and so far, no vociferous protest voices have emerged.

In fact, if Capital Pride organizers had their way, Pride 365 would be a way of life in Washington and beyond. This year’s theme is “building our bright future.”

“We really want this to be not just some event that gets trotted out once a year every June,” says Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director. “I’m extremely excited at the way we’ve seen things grow just in my short tenure, about two-and-a-half years, here. We’ve seen a variety of new partnerships and community excitement from those wanting to participate and support the organization. It’s extremely exciting to see the attention our community is receiving and realize that people want to be part of what Pride here represents.”

Capital Pride events are in full swing. They officially kick off Friday, but some events, such as the May 21 Pride Heroes Gala, have already been held. Youth Pride unofficially kicked off the D.C. Pride season on May 3 and Trans Pride and D.C. Black Pride also had their events this month. Latino Pride (see more on page 20) kicked off May 25 but has its main events this weekend. Anyone wanting to make a $10 donation can text the word “pride” to 85944 and it will be added to your phone bill.

Highlights of this year’s Capital Pride events include (all events are free and open to the public except where noted):

Build Your Best Life: Total Health Festival will be Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. At Kaiser Permanent Total Health (700 2nd St. N.E.). It’s billed as a day of learning about LGBT health with workshops, presentations, information booths, exercise instruction, nutrition counseling, giveaways and more. Whitman-Walker Health, SMYAL, Casa Ruby, Rainbow Families D.C., Kaiser Permanente and many other local groups are slated to participate.

Day in the Park is Sunday from 4-10 p.m. at Francis Stevens Elementary School’s Francis Field (2425 N St. N.W.), and will feature the Stonewall Kickball’s Drag Ball event and an outdoor moving screening of the movie “Space Balls!” Birdie LaCage hosts. Donations are welcome. The event is a fundraiser for the D.C. Center and Capital Pride. Gates open at 4. The game begins at 5. The movie begins at sunset, about 8 p.m.

• The third annual Music in the Night is Monday from 7-10 p.m. at Town Danceboutique (2009 8th St., N.W.). The event is a musical theater cabaret hosted by Joshua Morgan, a local actor and co-artistic director of No Rules Theatre. Bayla Whitten, Matt Delorenzo, Shayna Blass, Janet Aldrich, Austion Colby, Roz White and others are slated to perform. Tickets are $20.

• The 31st annual Capital Pride Interfaith Service is also Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. and will bring together nearly 20 LGBT-affirming faith groups. The theme will be “building interfaith allies” and Rev. Frank Schafer, a United Methodist pastor defrocked last year for officiating at his gay son’ s wedding, will be the keynote speaker. The Community Choir of Love and Justice, led by the revs. Candy Holmes and David North, will perform. The service will be held at Luther Place Memorial Church at 1226 Vermont Ave., N.W. in Thomas Circle.

• An LGBT poetry celebration will be held Tuesday from noon-2 p.m. on the first floor of the Library of Congress (Thomas Jefferson Building). This inaugural event will feature established and emerging gay and lesbian poets such as Joan Larkin, Kamilah Aisha Moon, D.A. Powell and Dan Vera as well as a display of the library’s rare LGBT materials. Book sales and a singing will follow.

• On Tuesday night, Capital Pride’s Women’s Spoken Word event featuring Adele Hampton and Mary Bowman and hosted by Shelly Bell will be held from 8:30-11:30 p.m. at Busboys and Poets (1025 5th St., N.W.). Tickets are $5 per person.

• The D.C. Bike Party Pride Run will be held starting in Dupont Circle on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Those participating are encouraged to dress festively with “your hottest pinks and most electric blues” with “feather boas and sparkles … strongly encouraged.”

• Human Rights Campaign, Capital Pride and SpeakeasyDC are joining forces for Born This Way: Stories about Queer Culture in America to be held Wednesday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at HRC headquarters (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.). A reception and cash bar starts at 6:30 with the SpeakeasyDC performance — billed as “an evening of entertaining, thought provoking and exquisitely crafted true stories that showcase a range of LGBT perspectives” (recommended for adults) will start at 7:30.

• AARP will present Who’s Taking Care of You on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams store (1526 14th St. N.W.), a panel discussion and networking reception to discuss caregiving and isolation among LGBT seniors.

• The D.C. Front Runners have the Pride Run 5K June 6 at 7 p.m. at Congressional Cemetery (1801 E St., S.E.). Cost is $40 or $30 for those under 21. Online registration closes at 11:59 p.m. June 5. Visit dcfrontreunners.org for details.

Blast Off!, the official Pride opening party from Brightest Young Things and Capital Pride, has its “spaaaaaaaace party” on June 6 at 9 p.m. at Union Market (1309 5th St. N.W.) COST?

• The 39th annual Pride Parade kicks off June 7 at 4:30 p.m. at 22nd and P streets, N.W. and travels 1.5 miles through Dupont Circle and 17th Street by Logan Circle and ends at 14th and S streets. About 150,000 watch the parade each year, which features around 170 floats/contingents. A review stand is located at 15th and P. The first contingent is expected there around 5 p.m. The final contingents should arrive there about 7:15 p.m.

For the first time, an Armed Forces Color Guard from the Department of Defense will present and retire colors at the parade. Organizers say they’re excited about “this significant step forward for the community as a whole and particularly for those LGBT members of the armed forces.”

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, an LGBT ally, will serve as grand marshal.

• The Cherry Fund will host an after party in the wee hours — from 3:30-9:30 a.m. Sunday at Tropicalia (2001 14th St. N.W.) featuring DJs David Merrill and Benny K. Tickets are $35 and are available at cherryfund.org.

• And on June 8, the Capital Pride Street Festival will be held in its usual spot on Pennsylvania Avenue, between 3rd and 7th streets, where the Capitol Stage, with the U.S. Capitol visible just behind, has been a tradition for 18 years. Festival exhibit hours are noon-7 p.m. and will feature 300 sponsors/vendors, three stages, two beverage gardens, a family area, numerous food vendors and headline performances by Karmin, Bonnie McKee, DJ Cassidy and Betty Who. The festival typically draws about 200,000 people. A $10-20 donation is requested.

Those attending the festival will have a chance to participate in the Future is Here, a “time machine” project from the National LGBT Museum and Capital Pride in which participants can record oral histories in video booths that are being collected for next year’s 40th anniversary of Capital Pride. The Future is Here is also a family and educational activity area at the festival with a moon bounce, water slide, refreshments and more.

Out DJ Tracy Young will spin at the Capitol Sunset Closing Party just after the festival.

Visit capitalpride.org for more information.

29
May
2014

Boom-time for L’Enfant

Jim Ball, Christopher Lynch, Cafe L'Enfant, gay news, Washington Blade

Jim Ball and Christopher Lynch hoped to contribute to ‘café society.’ (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Like the newly confident city for which the venue namesake designed the geographic layout, L’Enfant Café & Bar is in boom-time mode. Steps from French architect and civil engineer Pierre L’Enfant’s original Florida Avenue city boundary sits the long-popular dining, drinking and entertainment landmark at 2000 18th St., N.W.

Eleven years ago, co-owners Jim Ball and Christopher Lynch discovered this “perfect place” for the next adventure in their lives. The lively restaurant-bar the then couple opened in April 2003 became a unique component of a maturing nexus of evolving commerce straddling Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan at the intersection of 18th and U streets.

Last weekend was an anniversary for the duo. After exchanging Valentine’s Day gifts at the Manhattan apartment they shared a year prior to launching their hospitality enterprise in D.C., traditional Tiffany treasures were followed by Ball presenting Lynch with a flip chart. Ball asked his cohort to list five “hopes and dreams” while he did the same.

Both lists contained a solitary shared item – opening a coffeehouse and bar. “We wanted to do something different and be our own boss,” Lynch says. They soon would.

“We hoped to contribute to ‘café society’,” Ball recounts. “Fusing what we liked about the East Village spots we frequented,” Lynch notes, as Ball adds, “combined with the tradition of the French.” “At the time there were few places with outdoor space,” Ball recalls. They now offer the area’s largest sidewalk patio.

Their goal was a destination to enjoy a cappuccino or glass of wine along with a meal. “Where a table for two suddenly grows larger” on the spacious wrap-around patio with the addition of friendly faces both known and new, Ball says.

The menu features French-inspired classics and notes “we are the true backbone of this economy, a small business that dreams big.” Steak frites, bistro burgers, savory dinner crepes, and mussels are popular plates. Aperitifs, specialty cocktails, a selection of draft or bottled beers and wines are offered. Open until midnight Sunday-Thursday and 2 a.m. on weekends, seasonal spring-summer-fall lunch service will soon re-initiate.

A national “Top 100 Brunch” among 14,000 Open Table venues, the weekly Saturday reservation-only “La Boum” early-afternoon booze-and-breakfast “house party” with DJ fills 60 interior table and bar seats. With either Lynch or Ball as emcee behind covered windows, guests are exhorted to celebrate debauchery. “We’re pretending our parents are away for the weekend and we have the keys to the liquor cabinet,” Ball writes on the business website. An acclaimed Sunday “Speakeasy” cabaret supper club featuring drag performers from New York, Las Vegas, Berlin and London is on hiatus.

The owners relish the relationships developed with patrons. After investing in imported French café tables and chairs and installing shrubbery boxes, locals were quick to appreciate the streetscape enhancement. The desired “street activation” of city government terminology is more simply expressed by neighbors as “enlivening and beautifying” their street-corner location, Lynch says.

The venue’s sustained success was no certainty. Neither Lynch, previously a sales and marketing professional with Estee Lauder Companies or Ball, an independent event and marketing consultant, had prior industry experience. “We met in a bar and ate in a lot of restaurants,” Ball chuckles. “We ‘winged it’,” he says, “and that was the most exciting part. We learned a lot fast. It’s all part of a story being written every day.”

“We’re proud of these 11 years,” Lynch adds, “most of all that we’ve created a sense of community with our customers.” “We can brainstorm a new idea today and tomorrow make it happen,” explains Ball, “that’s the magic of it.”

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

18
Feb
2014

250,000 expected for Capital Pride weekend

Capital Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

The 39th annual Capital Pride Parade and Festival will be held this weekend. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

More than 250,000 people from the D.C. metropolitan area and the Mid-Atlantic region are expected to participate in the 39th Annual Capital Pride Parade on Saturday and the annual Capital Pride Festival on Sunday.

The parade and festival in recent years have served as the grand finale to a month of LGBT Pride-related events in the nation’s capital, including the annual Black Pride, Trans Pride, Youth Pride and Latino Pride.

As D.C.’s largest LGBT community event of the year, Sunday’s Pride festival was to include entertainment from nationally recognized headline performers, hundreds of booths representing LGBT organizations and LGBT-friendly groups and businesses, including corporate sponsors.

Several federal and D.C. government agencies were scheduled to set up booths at the festival, including LGBT employee groups with the FBI and the CIA. At least four D.C. government agencies, including the Office of Human Rights and the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking reserved space for booths.

Although the White House isn’t participating in the parade or festival, President Barack Obama submitted an official letter of recognition, which is published in the Pride Guide, Capital Pride’s official publication.

“For generations, courageous lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans have spoken up, come out, and blazed trails for others to do the same,” the president wrote in his letter. “Festivals like Capital Pride bring opportunities to reflect on hard-won progress and the work before us still to forge a more just Nation,” he said.

Among the 170 floats and contingents set to participate in the parade, Capital Pride organizers say they are especially proud that for the first time ever, a U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard contingent was scheduled to march in the parade. The contingent was scheduled to perform its traditional presenting and retiring of the “colors” or U.S. flag at the start and end of the parade.

“We are very pleased that we asked and the Department of Defense agreed to provide us with a Color Guard,” said Bernie Delia, chair of the Capital Pride board of directors.

“It’s a wonderful step forward for everyone involved – for the country, for those LGBT members of the military,” he said. “I think it is a fantastic development for everyone.”

Former Minnesota Vikings player Chris Kluwe, an LGBT ally, was scheduled to serve as grand marshal for the parade.

Similar to past years, the festival on Sunday will be held on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., between 3rd and 7th streets, with the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop to the main stage.  The festival exhibit hours are from noon to 7 p.m.

As a new feature this year, events on the main “Capitol” stage, including a dance party, will continue until sunset at about 9 p.m., according to an announcement by Capital Pride.

Among those scheduled to appear on that stage throughout the day were headliner performers Rita Ora, Karmin, Bonnie McKee, Betty Who and DJ Cassidy.

“We’re looking forward to an absolutely wonderful weekend,” Delia said. “We’ve got a phenomenal lineup for the entertainment on Sunday. And we’re thrilled that Chris Kluwe is our grand marshal for the parade.”

The parade was scheduled to kick off Saturday, June 7, at 4:30 p.m. at its traditional starting point of 22nd and P streets, N.W. Similar to last year, it will travel east on P Street to Dupont Circle, where it winds around the circle to New Hampshire Avenue and heads to R Street, where it will turn right on 17th Street.

With thousands of spectators expected to line 17th Street, where several gay bars and restaurants are located, the parade will pass along 17th Street then turn left on P Street, where it will travel past the official reviewing stand at 15th and P.

From there, the parade will continue along P Street to 14th Street, where it will turn left and travel north to its endpoint at 14th and R streets, N.W.

According to information released by Capital Pride, the lesbian group Dykes on Bikes of Washington, D.C. was designated as the lead contingent of the parade. Contingents of the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C., the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, the Arlington County Police gay and lesbian liaison division and George Mason University Police were scheduled as the next contingents.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and at least eight members of the D.C. City Council, including Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and mayoral candidates David Catania (I-At-Large) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), were scheduled to lead their own parade contingents.

And at least eight candidates running for seats on the D.C. Council as well as Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who’s running for a U.S. House seat, were scheduled to participate in the parade.

Visit capitalpride.org for more information.

04
Jun
2014

Queery: DC Allen

DC Allen, Crew Club, gay news, Washington Blade

DC Allen (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Things will be a little different at the Crew Club (1321 14th St., N.W.) on Sunday. From 2-6 p.m., owner DC Allen is hosting a birthday party. Gay porn star Matthew Rush will be on hand. It’s open to the public.

Allen, a 58-year-old Boston native, has been in D.C. since 1990 after spending the ‘80s in New York.

He and husband Ken Flick live on 17th Street near Dupont Circle with their dog, Toad. Allen enjoys reading, community activism, working out, cooking and traveling in his free time.

Find the Crew Club on Facebook or visit thecrewclub.co for details.

 

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

Since 1979. My stepfather who was not gay friendly.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Frank Kameny for his long-term activism.

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

The Crew Club, of course!

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Surrounded by family and friends, in the District Courthouse with fake flowers on a plastic trellis. We did it in October 2012!

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

The little children in the U.S. Congress playing their childish games.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Windsor case would apply to all states, not just the federal government.

 

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

The first time I saw “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. The irreverence and truth was spectacular!

 

On what do you insist?

That we as a community never put up with bullies.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I posted my birthday party at the Crew Club that I’m throwing on Sunday. I also posted thank yous to everyone who wished me happy birthday.

 

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

“Whoremaster to Weenie Waggers”

 

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

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I would stay the same delightful homosexual that I am today.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

A spiritual existence and a power greater than myself.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Never forget that we are not heterosexuals.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Complete equality.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

We are not all 20-year-old muscle bunnies.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Kinky Boots”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

There are no overrated social customs.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I was lucky enough to receive the Business Leader of the Year Award in 2012 from the Capitol Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. That was and is the award I most coveted because it recognized all of the positive things I’ve tried to do in the D.C. gay community.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Floss more, eat less.

 

Why Washington?

I had family in the area. Also, Washington has the highest percentage of master’s degrees per workforce in the world. I like a bright, driven population around me.

05
Mar
2014

The business of a broadening pride in equality

corporate, gay news, Washington Blade

Enterprise takes as much pride in standing with us as we do in joining with one another and a supportive community. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay Pride celebrations across the country this summer have offered a unique reflection of an astounding moment in time. Now part internal community celebration and a simultaneous measure of external engagement and broader public affirmation, these annual events have increasingly become more party and less protest.

In D.C., some have casually predicted that the local Capital Pride festivities will soon involve attendance by as many non-gay area residents as the high-profile Halloween-themed “High-Heel Race” now does each October on 17th Street in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Others wonder whether gay participation in Pride events will begin to diminish in coming years, especially in localities like the District where the LGBT community enjoys a full complement of civil equality and commonplace community embrace.

The annual Pride Parade on Saturday that kicks off the early June weekend in the nation’s capital each year has gradually become at least as well-attended as the next-day downtown Festival and a broadly shared community-wide event. More than ever before, this year an entire city and metropolitan area took notice of the dual events amid a wave of unprecedented local media coverage, community news features and special publication and broadcast profiles.

Businesses large and small, and national and local, are the major event sponsors and primary financial underwriters.

Dorothy, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

The accelerating nationwide acceptance of lesbians and gays alongside political approval of same-sex relationships and marriage equality has heightened the focus of the larger community. With distinct national majorities now in full support of gay rights and approving of our relationships and right to marry should we so choose, locally it seemed an entire city wanted to share in a commemoration of that development. It was essentially “gay weekend” for everyone, unlike any previous iteration.

Of course, all of this might be merely a temporary phenomenon, perhaps a collective exhale that local and national culture has progressed to dominant status with normative acceptance of gays and lesbians within a framework of equal treatment under the law as the new societal standard. The larger citizenry’s involvement in marking this advance may end up mirroring our own declining and potentially growing disinterest in this tradition of memorialized revelry.

For the time being at least, broad civic engagement and corporate sponsorship of these annual Stonewall-saluting events will remain substantial and business engagement is likely to grow even more prominent. As notable as the increasing corporate participation and brand affiliation with Pride events has become, it represents an overall explosion in general marketing to the gay community year-round. While prior national outreach to gays and lesbians was largely limited to alcohol and other specific product categories with already-established consumer and venue relationships, commercial communication now involves an enlarged spectrum of commerce.

Especially significant, no longer is this association narrow in breadth of exposure or limited to being “dog-whistle” in nature. It is direct and non-ambiguous, as well as pervasive, utilizing images as authentic as our lives today. Conveyed with the nonchalance it should be, corporate outreach is now an ordinary marketplace activity.

Companies have caught on that the benefits of reaching out to a wide range of diverse market segments without hesitation or hidden from others includes the gay community. Businesses understand the value of target-specific communication, whether a national or local product or service. Nowadays it also reaps benefit within other demographics by signifying a contemporary cultural affinity critical to creating a positive brand image reflective of modern mores.

Cultural codification through corporate encouragement rivals even the impact of legislation, as it empowers the community change in attitude that paves the way for it.

Corporate America and local businesses alike are strong allies for equality. Enterprise takes as much pride in standing with us as we do in joining with one another and a supportive community.

That’s important to business and is the part of winning that should make us proud.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

02
Jul
2014