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Homeless youth, Annie’s street-naming bills advance

Anne Kaylor, Annie's Paramount Steak House, gay news, Washington Blade

Annie Kaylor (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

The D.C. City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to give preliminary approval of one bill calling for services to homeless LGBT youth and another that would name a street near Dupont Circle after Annie Kaylor, the beloved bartender and manager of Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse who died last July at the age of 86.

The LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Amendment Act of 2013 and the Annie’s Way Designation Act of 2013 are expected to win final approval at the Council’s next legislative meeting later this month.

The homeless LGBTQ youth measure, among other things, allocates funds for expanding existing homeless facilities to include additional beds for “youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.” It also requires service providers to implement “best practices for the culturally competent care of homeless youth” who identify as LGBT or questioning.

The Annie’s bill calls for naming a one-block section of Church Street, N.W., between 17th Street and Stead Park as “Annie’s Way.” The block was where Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse first opened more than 40 years ago and became a favorite eatery and watering hole for members of the LGBT community. Kaylor and her family members who owned and operated the restaurant were longtime supporters of the LGBT community.

08
Jan
2014

Calendar: April 11-17

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

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

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

Friday, April 11

 

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

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

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

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

 

Saturday, April 12

 

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

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

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

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

 

Sunday, April 13

 

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

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

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

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

 

Monday, April 14

 

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

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

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

 

Tuesday, April 15

 

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

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

 

Wednesday, April 16

 


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

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

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

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

 

Thursday, April 17

 

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

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

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

10
Apr
2014

Home loan service Apex

Franckie DiFrancesco, gay news, Washington Blade

Francki DiFrancesco (Photo courtesy of DiFrancesco)

Fresh from a Sirius/XM Radio appearance last Saturday, longtime community personality Francki DiFrancesco fast personifies the passion fueling her successful career. The knowledgeable local mortgage banker at Apex Home Loans had finished discussing new lending regulations and was eager to talk the trade.

Facts and figures, however, aren’t what propelled the 45-year-old Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist (CMPS) to the pinnacle of her profession. That came with dedication and an instinct for customer service first honed as a popular local bartender and women’s nightlife event producer.

“If you can’t trust your bartender,” she jokes, “whom can you trust?” Working ‘back-in-the-day” at former nightclub Tracks and prior restaurant-lounge Trumpets on Dupont Circle’s 17th Street taught the value of an attentive ear and art of personal confidences. “Mortgage lending is more than just loan rates,” she explains, “people need to feel comfortable along the way.”

“Assisting a client should feel like I’m sitting in their living room,” says DiFrancesco, adding that her “goal is to always bring information on how to best structure a purchase or refinance a loan.” “It’s one of life’s most important financial decisions,” DiFrancesco emphasizes, “and it should be with a trusted adviser who understands their situation and future financial goals.”

In her earliest days in the business, clients would pick up mortgage documents at her bar at Trumpets. “I was their friendly gay mortgage banker,” DiFrancesco recalls. “Back then, client couples didn’t want to explain their relationship to a stranger in order to acquire ‘joint on title’ status and develop survivor arrangements,” she explains. “I was one of the first to handle same-sex couple loans.”

DiFrancesco, now a long-established Senior Mortgage Banker at Apex Home Loans headquartered in Rockville, Md., is a top producer at the award-winning firm. Apex was recently named “Best Small Business of the Year” in Montgomery County following national recognition as among the “Top 100 Mortgage Companies in America.”

Last year she handled 133 home loans totaling more than $45 million, highest volume by other than firm principals. Mission success at Apex, however, isn’t calculated in dollars – it’s measured in customer satisfaction.

Her recently launched “Francki’s Rock Bottom Rates” Facebook page provides testimonials. While mortgage processing oftentimes ranks alongside undergoing a root canal, DiFrancesco’s client commendations prove it can be otherwise. Credited with making it “easier than buying a refrigerator,” plentiful praise reaps a steady stream of referral and repeat business. Both individual borrowers and real estate agents laud her attention to the details leading to inking final documents.

DiFrancesco services D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Rehoboth Beach – as a direct lender. That’s an important distinction, she points out, allowing for an expedited process and independent underwriting brokers can’t provide. “There aren’t many who can handle all the steps,” noting her additional certifications throughout Delaware and New Jersey, with Pennsylvania and Florida licensing pending.

“Many banks don’t do business with brokers,” she notes, “they prefer to deal with mortgage bankers. We understand the local market and know our clients. We provide personalized service, handle credit vetting and hold the initial note.” That level of “customer relationship speeds up the process, allows us to shop for better rates among banks and provides the best solution for borrowers.”

Having raised two children with a former partner, DiFrancesco will soon share her Gaithersburg, Md., home with Dr. Tammy Anderson, a University of Delaware sociology professor. They met several years ago at a Mautner Project benefit while DiFrancesco was relaxing at her house in Rehoboth.

“Home is the place we feel most secure, where memories are made,” DiFrancesco says. Her clients quickly discover she loves helping them acquire theirs.

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

29
Jan
2014

Youth Pride is May 3

Youth Pride, Dupont Circle, Washington Blade, gay news

Youth Pride (Washington Blade photo by Tyler Grigsby)

Youth Pride Day is May 3 from noon-5 p.m. in Dupont Circle.

All LGBT youth in the region and allies are welcome. This year’s theme is “Be bold, be beautiful, have pride.”

Youth Pride Alliance handles the event. Visit youthpridealliance.org for details.

24
Apr
2014

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