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Pride House

The Human Rights Campaign, Team DC, Capital Pride, Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies and Pride House International hosted “Pride House: Washington Olympics Opening Ceremony Watch Event” at HRC headquarters on Friday to benefit the Russia LGBT Sport Federation. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key) Pride House 

08
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

‘Juno’ actress comes out

Ellen Page, Juno, X-Men, hollywood, gay, lesbian, gay news, Washington Blade

Actress Ellen Page. (Photo by Ninha Morandini; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Ellen Page, Oscar nominated for playing a pregnant teen in the hit 2007 film “Juno,” told a Human Rights Campaign crowd in Las Vegas Friday that she’s gay, several media outlets have reported.

“I’m here today because I am gay,” Page, 26, told the audience gathered at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for HRC’s THRIVE LGBT youth conference. “And because maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.”

“I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” Page said. “I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain.”

She’s slated to appear next in the upcoming film “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

The Hollywood Reporter broke the story and has more here.

15
Feb
2014

Former HRC president to co-chair D.C. Council campaign

Joe Solmonese, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade

Former HRC president Joe Solmonese will assist Khalid Pitts’ campaign for Council. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Joe Solmonese, former president of the Human Rights Campaign, has been named co-chair of the campaign of D.C. businessman and progressive activist Khalid Pitts, who’s running as an independent for the at-large Council seat being vacated by mayoral candidate David Catania.

Pitts and his wife, Diane Gross, are owners of Cork Restaurant and Wine Bar and Cork Market and Tasting Room, separate businesses located along the restaurant and entertainment corridor on 14th Street, N.W., near U Street.

Pitts also serves as president of US Action, a progressive advocacy group, and secretary-treasurer of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority, which administers the city’s health insurance exchange program associated with the Obamacare law.

“Khalid Pitts is a friend, a community organizer, local business owner and a thoughtful progressive,” Solmonese said in a statement released by the Pitts campaign. “He has been a part of D.C.’s economic revitalization and has a thoughtful and responsible vision for the city’s future.”

Added Solmonese: “Khalid and I have talked on a number of occasions about the great strides we have made here in D.C. on behalf of LGBT equality. And we are both proud to have been a part of the fight to win marriage equality here.”

Pitts is one of at least seven candidates that have filed papers to run for the at-large Council seat as an independent. Democrat turned independent Elissa Silverman, who received strong support from LGBT activists in her previous unsuccessful race for the at-large seat, has been reaching out to the LGBT community for support this year.

Also running for the at-large seat being vacated by Catania is gay Republican Marc Morgan, who ran unopposed in the GOP primary on April 1.

Solmonese is a managing director and founding partner of Gavin/Solmonese, a corporate strategy and public affairs consulting firm with an office in D.C.

29
May
2014

Cartoon: Ellen Page comes out

Ellen Page, Human Rights Campaign, Juno, coming out, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade

Ellen Page comes out. (Washington Blade cartoon by Ranslem)

19
Feb
2014

Fired teachers request papal audience

Pope Francis, Catholic Church, gay news, Washington Blade

Pope Francis (Photo by Agência Brasil; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign on May 27 delivered a letter to the Vatican on behalf of nine teachers who have lost their jobs at Roman Catholic schools or churches because they are gay or lesbian or have supported LGBT family members.

Nicholas Coppola, a former religious education teacher at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Oceanside, N.Y., who was removed from public duties at the Long Island parish after he married his same-sex partner, is among those who signed the letter that requests an audience with Pope Francis.

“Unfortunately, we are a group bonded together not just by Catholic values,” reads the letter. “We are a group of teachers, administrators and lay people who have all lost our jobs simply because of who we love.”

LGBT Catholics have welcomed Francis’ more moderate tone on marriage, homosexuality and other gay-specific issues since he succeeded Pope Benedict XVI in March 2013. The Vatican’s position on the aforementioned topics has not changed in spite of the Argentine-born pontiff’s more conciliatory tone.

29
May
2014

Victory Fund’s dangerous endorsement

Richard Tisei, Republican, Massachusetts, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Republican Richard Tisei is challenging a pro-LGBT Democrat for Congress in Massachusetts. (Photo courtesy of Tisei).

By JOE RACALTO

 

Recently, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed former Massachusetts Republican Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, who is openly gay, for Congress. Although I applaud Tisei — and all LGBT political candidates who run for public office — this endorsement is not justified and sets a dangerous precedent.

Tisei’s opponent, Democratic Rep. John Tierney, has been a staunch champion for LGBT rights — even when it wasn’t popular. He backed marriage equality in Massachusetts, despite the criticism. He has supported the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act; he was a strong and early supporter of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and he has a HRC score of 100 percent in the 112th Congress.

Tierney’s support for LGBT causes is clean, clear and perfect.

And, Congressman Tierney will do one thing Tisei will not do — vote for Leader Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House.

It is no secret that Speaker John Boehner does not support ENDA, claiming it is not necessary. Nor is it a secret that the GOP continues to block or stall every single LGBT advancement at all levels, and in all parts of the country. Given the recent events in Arizona, ENDA is needed now more than ever and if Democrats were in control, ENDA would be the law of the land. Make no mistake, Tisei’s potential vote for Boehner would be a vote to further delay justice for LGBT Americans who face employment discrimination.

Torey Carter, COO of the Victory Fund, said Tisei’s election to Congress would “shatter a glass ceiling for the Republican Party” and “further the dialogue within the GOP about LGBT issues.”  With all due respect to Carter, at what cost and at whose expense? Should those who fight for LGBT rights have to sit by and wait for the Republicans to understand? Additionally, in order to “further” one must “start.” They have had 40 years to start the dialogue and who is gullible enough to believe Tisei can help them with that process?

This country has moved on and the election of Tisei over Rep. Tierney would represent a major setback for LGBT Americans. We must never, ever turn our backs on those who have championed our causes, like Tierney, simply to “shatter glass” or “further dialogue (within the GOP)” or whatever other reason the Victory Fund uses to describe this dangerous endorsement.

Joe Racalto is president of Giesta Racalto, LLC. He served as former Rep. Barney Frank’s senior policy adviser and is a board member at Freedom to Work.

04
Mar
2014

HRC urges Obama to take action on Uganda

South, Human Rights Campaign, American Foundation for Equal Rights, AFER, HRC, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, Virginia, Chad Griffin, Tom Shuttleworth, Carol Schall, Emily, Mary Townley, Adam Umhoefer, David Boies, Ted Olson, Tim Bostic, Washington Blade, Tony London

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. (Washington Blade file by Michael Key).

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin penned a letter to the Obama administration this week, asking the president to take a more aggressive stance against harassment, property loss and violence against LGBT Ugandans ever since the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposes a life sentence on any person engaging in same-sex sexual behavior.

“I respectfully ask that you direct the Administration’s interagency review to begin issuing immediate, concrete results that will illustrate the United States’ commitment to protecting human rights in Uganda,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in the letter.

Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told the Blade in a statement Tuesday that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act “runs counter to universal human rights and to human dignity.”

For the past three months, the Obama administration has said it plans to “review” its relationship with Uganda.

Ventrell noted that when Uganda’s anti-gay law was first instituted, the administration responded by diverting funds away from anti-gay tourism programs and religious groups in Uganda. Additionally, the Department of Defense cancelled scheduled events in the country, and Secretary of State John Kerry said he planned to meet with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to discuss “why what he did could not be based on any kind of science or fact.”

The HRC’s letter pushes the administration to take more definitive steps – not only in Uganda, but also in other nations with equally discriminatory legislation on the books.

“An immediate demonstration of significant consequences, moreover, will put other leaders who are considering similar bills on notice that enacting anti-LGBT laws will effect their country’s relationship with the United States,” Griffin wrote. “A further review that incorporates Nigeria, Russia, and Brunei – countries that recently passed heinous anti-LGBT laws – is also imperative to signal to the world that these consequences are not directed solely towards Africa.”

American leaders have said that diverting funds from Uganda – especially dollars previously aimed toward groups fighting HIV/AIDS like the anti-gay Inter-Religious Council of Uganda – could cause trouble for the country if it continues to cling to the Anti-Homosexual Act.

“The backwardness of the new law is damaging Uganda’s international reputation and could jeopardize progress in fighting HIV/AIDS, attracting foreign investment and promoting tourism,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in February.

“Africans do not seek to impose their views on anybody,” Museveni said in a statement Feb. 18. “We do not want anybody to impose their views on us. This very debate was provoked by Western groups who come to our schools and try to recruit children into homosexuality.”

Uganda is one of more than 70 countries where homosexuality remains criminalized and next week, the nation’s anti-gay ideals could gain more prominence on the international stage.

Uganda’s foreign minister, Sam Kutesa, who supports the anti-gay law, was elected president of the United Nations General Assembly. He’ll assume that post next week after being elected by the African Union “acclamation,” without a single ballot being cast.

04
Jun
2014

Mississippi city passes LGBT ordinance

Oxford, Mississippi, gay news, Washington Blade

Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Kathy Jean; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

OXFORD, Miss.–A third Mississippi city has passed a resolution in support of adding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to its diversity statement.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen on March 4 unanimously approved the resolution.

“Tolerance and acceptance creates the strongest bonds between neighbors,” said Alderman Jay Hughes in a Human Rights Campaign press release. “I am proud to be on the right side of history in reaffirming Oxford’s long-standing commitment to that most fundamental principle.”

Hattiesburg last month added LGBT-specific language to its diversity statement. The Starkville Board of Alderman in January approved the state’s first pro-LGBT municipal resolution.

05
Mar
2014

LGBT wedding photos presented at HRC

wedding, The New Art of Capturing Love, gay news, Washington Blade

Cover image from ‘The New Art of Capturing Love’ by Kathryn Hamm and Thea Dodds. (Hudson River Photography image reprinted by permission from Amphoto Books)

“The New Art of Capturing Love,” a panel discussion that’s part of the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Talks series with Politics & Prose, is Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at HRC Headquarters (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.).

Gayweddings.com president Kathryn Hamm and photographer Thea Dodds will discuss what they say are the limitations of traditional notions of gender roles in wedding rituals and photography and the ways LGBT couples can help straight couples buck tradition. They will also consider how the mainstream wedding industry — a billion-dollar-plus industry per year — handles this niche market.

A photography show featuring shots from their new book of the same title, billed as the first LGBT wedding photography book, will also be on site. They will also answer questions and sign copies of the book. The event is free and open to the public. Visit hrc.org/capturinglove for details.

12
Jun
2014