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Navigating your family’s new normal

co-parenting, gay news, Washington Blade

The importance of developing a parenting plan and memorializing it in a legally enforceable document before conflict arises between you and your co-parent cannot be overstated.

By MEAGHAN E. HEARN

I recently met with a married couple that separated about a year ago and are preparing to finalize their separation with filing for divorce here in the District. They worked together throughout their yearlong separation to help their children – ages 8 and 5 – adjust to what they call their “new normal.”  The couple’s relationship is amicable and they make a concerted effort to reach joint decisions on parenting issues by considering what is in the best interest of their children. They are fully aware, though, that as their children get older and life moves forward there will be times when tensions mount between them and their relationship to each other as parents will become strained. Their goal now is to do whatever they can to minimize the possibility of court involvement in any future parental disputes.

Many non-married parents – straight and gay – are turning to co-parenting agreements to achieve this goal.  A co-parenting agreement is an agreement between parents that can set forth anything from the moral values the parents wish to instill in their child to agreed upon forms of discipline the parents will or will not use with their child. An effective agreement is drafted in a way that sets forth guidelines for parents to follow that will assist in avoiding and resolving conflicts as parents encounter the inevitable changes life brings. A well thought out and drafted agreement should always provide parents with methods to resolve conflicts without court intervention.

Co-parenting agreements may be entered when your child is born or after you and your co-parent have separated or divorced.  It goes without saying, however, that having these important discussions and drafting an agreement before conflict arises in your relationship with your child’s other parent is often easier than finding that common ground when parents are already at odds with each other.

The beauty of co-parenting agreements is that they can include whatever parents believe is important in raising their child. Agreements typically include clauses detailing which parent will make important decisions regarding their child’s health, education, and welfare, the financial obligations of each parent to the child, and physical custody or visitation schedules that the parents will follow during the school year and summer months. A co-parenting agreement can even include provisions on religious up-bringing, extracurricular activities, geographical restrictions related to a parent’s residence, parameters on where a parent may or may not travel with the child, or even when a parent can introduce their child to a new significant other.

Part of what makes co-parenting agreements so appealing is that they are adaptable to change. An effective co-parenting agreement will set forth factors that parents should consider when making decisions related to their child, as well as the specific process the parents will follow when conflict arises between them.  These agreements can also include clauses requiring parents to participate in mediation or arbitration when they are unable to reach an agreement as to what is in the best interest of their child. Some co-parenting agreements even give final decision making authority to a third party such as a social worker, therapist or similar healthcare provider, when parents are simply unable to reach a decision themselves.

In same-sex relationships, these agreements can be of paramount importance and can often be critical in establishing a non-biological parent’s relationship to his or her child.  If one or both parents reside in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage or does not permit same-sex second parent adoptions, these agreements can provide a layer of protection to the non-biological parent by explicitly setting forth the parent’s rights and obligations to his or her non-biological child.  Although a co-parenting agreement is not legally binding in these states, the current nation-wide judicial shift in recognizing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons indicates that judges would now be more willing to consider these agreements as evidence of not only the non-biological parent’s relationship to the child, but also the parents’ shared goals in raising their child.

The importance of developing a parenting plan and memorializing it in a legally enforceable document before conflict arises between you and your co-parent cannot be overstated.  It will not only allow you and your co-parent to develop a greater understanding of your respective roles and duties as they relate to your child, but it will help your family – as a whole – navigate your “new normal.”

Meaghan E. Hearn is an attorney at Ackerman Brown, PLLC. Reach her at meaghan.hearn@ackermanbrown.com.

21
Mar
2014

Queery: Chris Dinolfo

Chris Dinolfo, gay news, Washington Blade

Chris Dinolfo (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

For Chris Dinolfo, acting is “kind of like a drug.”

Though he keeps a day job “so I can pay my rent,” acting, for him, is essential.

“You kind of get addicted to the adrenaline of it,” he says. “The other part of it is that when you get in a good show and you start to realize you’re telling a really important story … you want to share that with more and more people. It keeps me sane. In some ways it seems counterintuitive — most people I know in the theater are batshit crazy, but I just know I belong in the arts. When I’m not acting, I start to go a little stir crazy.”

He’s currently in the Sarah Ruhl play “Late: A Cowboy Song” at No Rules Theatre Co. (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington/norulestheatre.org) where he plays Crick, a “controlling, asshole of a character” Dinolfo says he’s “tried to infuse with as much humanity as possible.” Go now if your interest is piqued — the show (which has been called a “quirky … urban fairytale”) closes Sunday.

Dinolfo, a 20-something Fairfield, Conn., native, came to Washington for school 12 years ago and stayed. He works by day in Friendship Heights in admin at a health care clinic. He lives in Kalorama with his boyfriend and enjoys paddle boarding, theater and going to Good Wood on U Street in his free time.

 

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

Since college. My girlfriend.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

There are several LGBT people I truly admire for their courage, activism and just downright moxie: Larry Kramer, who wrote “The Normal Heart,” for saying and writing the things no one wanted to hear at the time about AIDS and how it affected our community. Ellen DeGeneres for being funny, resilient and successful. Harvey Milk for his bravery, optimism and sacrifice. RuPaul. Thank God for RuPaul. Also, any sports figure who comes out.

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

“Peach Pit” at DC 9 with DJ Matt Bailer. Black Cat, 9:30 club and Nellie’s also get my vote. Also, the Blagden Alley Social Club — Google it. And I do wish I had been around to have experienced Tracks.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Provincetown

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

How our government doesn’t subsidize the arts.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

This question is too difficult so I’m gonna go with Drew Barrymore’s dress at the Golden Globes.

 

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

Hanging out with Jason Sellards (Jake Shears) and driving him to JR.’s after a Scissor Sisters concert. Much drinking ensued.

 

On what do you insist?

A sense of humor. And good hygiene.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Publicity for the play in which I am currently performing — “LATE: A Cowboy Song” (Come see it!)

 

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

“Privileged Poor”

 

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

Cry. I don’t want science to screw with what I want to screw.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

The non-physical world. (But seriously, I do believe in a non-physical world.)

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

America isn’t the country we claim it to be as long as LGBT people are denied rights that are inherently given to heterosexual people. Keep on fighting the good fight: Equality for all!

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My nieces and nephew.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

Twink

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

Official LGBT movie: “Paris is Burning.” Unofficial: “Beaches”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

The high school prom.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Powerball

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Parents are people, too; flawed and full of dreams. That, and the foresight to study coding and get in with an ambitious start-up company called Facebook.

 

Why Washington?

Aside from family living here, boyfriend and all the acting opportunities? Because New York is officially for wealthy people. I know that because the Huffington Post told me.

Chris Dinolfo, Late: a Cowboy Song, gay news, Washington Blade

Chris Dinolfo in ‘Late: a Cowboy Song.’ (Photo by Second Glance Photography)

15
Jan
2014

Queery: Tamara Pincus

Tamara Pincus, gay news, Washington Blade

Tamara Pincus (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Tamara Pincus has been out as bi since she was a teen. It took her many more years, though, to embrace her polyamorous side.

She and husband Eric have been married 11 years but she’s also had relationships with women. She also has a partner named James she’s been with two years. Eric has another partner as well.

Pincus, 37, was born in Seattle but grew up in Massachusetts and New York. She’s in private practice as a psychotherapist and sex therapist (tamarapincus.com) and also leads a monthly poly discussion group at the D.C. Center. It usually meets on the third Thursday of each month, though the March meeting will be March 27 because of a prior commitment. She came to Washington 16 years ago.

She says the LGBT movement should be open to less “heteronormativity.”

“I understand why the gay marriage movement has tried to make it look like we’re all just like you with two very normal looking white men with this happy little family, but we also need to be accepting of people who are different too,” she says. “You silence a lot of voices when you say, ‘We’re all just like you.’”

Pincus has two sons, ages 5 and 7 and lives in Alexandria. She enjoys board games and spending time with her family in her free time.

 

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

I came out as bi at 16 and as poly three years ago. The hardest people to tell were definitely parents of my kids’ friends, one of whom ran into my husband when he was on a date with someone else. It hasn’t really been hard to tell people I’m bi.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Buck Angel, Diana Adams, Anita Wagner Illig I could go on. I have a lot of heroes.

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

My house.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Well, I had a big wedding at a resort in Leesburg complete with my red velvet dress. My grandmother said I looked like I belonged in a bordello. I don’t think I would want to get married again.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

I am working really hard to make a more sex-positive world. I think accurate sex ed covering issues like consent would go a long way to ending child sexual abuse. I think addressing sexual shame would decrease so-called sex addiction and other problematic sexual behaviors. There are so many places where our culture’s being completely shut down around sexuality is harming us. Abortion rights for instance? Access to birth control? I could go on and on.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

If you change history then you change the present and I have no idea where we would be if what has happened hadn’t. Still if I had to pick one it would be nice if the Holocaust hadn’t happened.

 

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

No idea. I would say some big influences have been “The Princess Bride” and “Rocky Horror.”

 

On what do you insist?

Consent! For instance I recently had to stop a stranger at a party from tickling my child without consent.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I took the Muppet quiz and found out that I am Kermit. Usually I post a lot of articles about trans issues, poly issues and sex worker rights.

 

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

“Lately, Coming Out Poly.” (Which, as it turns out, is the title of the book I’m working on with my brother-in-law — formerly my brother-out-law. Thanks, legalized gay marriage in New York.)

 

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

I love being able to love everyone. I wouldn’t change it.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe there are energies that science has not quite gotten a grip on yet.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

The more inclusive the better. I’ve felt kind of left out in a lot of ways even though I was very active in the LGBT movement in high school and college.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

World peace? A person I love? Who comes up with these scenarios?

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

The stereotypes about bi women that they will have sex with everyone or that they are just here to provide sexual entertainment for straight men.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

It’s a toss up between “But I’m a Cheerleader” and “The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love.” There has yet to be a movie that comes close to covering the queer poly kinky world in which I live.

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

All the ones where you try to look like everyone else or portray “normal” are highly overrated.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

The “Vicki” Sexual Freedom Award given to individuals or organizations whose work and/or life embodies the mission and vision of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That it is really OK to be different and let others see your imperfections.

 

Why Washington?

Well, if there’s a place that needs sex therapists, this is it. But really it’s because the people I love are here and I wouldn’t want to leave them.

26
Feb
2014

Camp time!

Adventure Theatre, camp, gay news, Washington Blade

Adventure Theatre gives kids chances to learn theater of several kinds. (Photo courtesy Adventure)

Summer may seem far away but registration time for summer camp programs is already here. Here are camps all ranging in various interests and age groups that are both fun and LGBT-friendly for campers.

Adventure Theatre (7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md.) offers two musical theater summer camp programs, one for children in grades one-six and one for grades six-12. Grades one-six focuses on singing, dancing and acting with props, costumes and scene-work for two-week sessions. Each session is $750-$800. Grades six-12 can choose from three different sessions that focus on Broadway rival study, golden age musical study and contemporary musical study. These sessions are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sessions run for three weeks and are $1,200. Before and after care are available for both age groups. For more information and to begin registration, visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.

Silver Stars Gymnastics has two locations in the area — Silver Spring (2701 Pittman Drive) and Bowie (14201 Woodcliff Court) with programs for children ages 3 and a half to 15.The summer camp programs teach children basic gymnastics skills such as cartwheels, jumps, tucks, twists and flips. Sessions are a week long with options to attend full day, extended full day, half day and extended half days. Full days are from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. for $305. Half days are from 9 a.m.-noon and are $240. Extended sessions are an extra fee ranging from $25-65. For more information, visit gosilverstars.com.

CommuniKids Preschool and Children Language Center offers summer language immersion programs for children ages 2 and a half to 8 at its two locations in D.C. (4719 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) and Falls Church (510 N. Washington St., Falls Church, Va.). The D.C. location offers the program in Spanish and the Falls Church location offers Spanish and French. There are six sessions that last one-week. Full days are from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and half days are from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Full days are $400 and half days are $265. Extended before and after care is also available for additional fees ranging from $20-50. For more details, visit communikids.com.

Georgetown Day School offers a variety of summer camps including dance, debate, math, touch-typing, fine film and more. There is also an option to design your own camp for a $400 fee. Traditional camp styles such as Hopper Day Camp for ages 5 through fourth grade are also available that has activities such as arts and crafts, cooking and day trips. Six sessions are available from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Each session is $400. For more details on Hopper Day Camp and other camps offered, visit gds.org.

The YMCA in D.C. has a number of different camps for children of all ages. Cooking Delight teaches basic cooking and nutrition, Pirate Splash has different pirate themed games and activities, Creative Writing which allows campers to work on their own short stories and many more. YMCA also offers Camp Letts (4009 Camp Letts Rd., Edgewater, Md.), a day and overnight camp, that offers traditional camp activities such as kayaking and horseback riding. For more details on specific camps and pricing, visit ymcadc.org and campletts.org.

The Lowell School (1640 Kalmia Rd., N.W.) has summer programs for children ages 2 and three quarters through 15. Young campers in pre-K and kindergarten programs enjoy a combination of in-class and outdoors activities aimed toward self -discovery and building social skills. Campers in grades one-six can participate in daily workshops as well as in a variety of specialty camps. Teens can explore the city in Amazing Race D.C. and Get out! Trips Camp. There are two full sessions and two mini camp sessions. Partial financial aid is available. For a list of prices and camps, visit lowellschool.org.

DAR Museum (1776 D St., N.W.) offers Junior Historian Camp for children ages 9-12 from July 14-18. The camp teaches children about D.C. from 1800-1815. Learn about the capitol’s architecture, art, archeology, maps, museums and more of the time period. Fun activities such as taking field trips, doing a mock archaeology excavation and making your own exhibition are offered. The program is from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. The fee is $300. For more information, visit dar.org.

Circle Yoga (3838 Northampton St., N.W.) has Budding Yogis summer camp for kids ages 4-12. This program teaches mindful yoga while also incorporating group games, camp songs and arts and crafts. Children ages 4-7 have half day camp from 9 a.m.-noon for $250 per week. Children ages 6-12 have full day camp from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for $365 per week. There are two half-day session camps and seven full-day camp sessions. Sessions last one week. For more information, visit circleyoga.com.

TIC Camp offers summer camp programs that focus on sports and technology for kids ages 7-12 with locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Sports options available include ultimate Frisbee, soccer, dance and more. Technology programs range from web development to animation and filmmaking. Tuition is $825 per session with four session dates per location. Extended day sessions are available for an additional $200. For more details, visit ticcamp.com.

Green Acres School (11701 Danville Dr., North Bethesda, Md.) has multiple summer programs for kids of all ages. Activities include swimming and indoor and outdoor activities. Kreative Kangaroos is for younger children and offers small group activities with no more than six children per group for closer interaction. Junior camp is for children in kindergarten through second grade. Kreative Kangaroos and Junior Camp have one six-week session from June 16-July 25. Junior campers are required to sign up for all six weeks. Senior camp is for children completing second through sixth grade in June and offers two three-week sessions. Junior and senior camp is $2,490 for six weeks. Senior camp is $1,485 for three weeks. Camp financial aid is available. For more details, visit greenacres.org.

Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Camp Creativity offers sessions in Georgetown, downtown, Hill Center and Capitol Hill Day School. Programs are available for children ages 5-16. Learnt to paint with watercolors, illustrate stories and how to launch a magazine. Prices vary by location and program. For more details, visit corcoran.org/camps.

21
Mar
2014

Queery: Bryce Keyser/Porcelain St. Clair

 Bryce Keyser, Dolly Parton, Porcelain St. Clair, drag, gay news, Washington Blade

Bryce Keyser (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bryce Keyser is planning to eventually get away from the salon work he does — he’s a stylist at Bang Salon on U Street — and make his drag alter ego his full-time work.

Porcelain St. Clair was begun, he says, “on a whim.”

“I did a costume contest at my old job and won,” the Manassas, Va., native says. “People said, ‘Wow, you’re pretty good, maybe you should do some more,’ so I got some costumes made, did some drag contests and got booked pretty quickly.”

Dolly Parton is his main character, which he says he does about 95 percent of the time, but he also does Liza, Madonna and Shania on occasion. He says Parton, whom he grew up idolizing and has met several times, knows his work and has been supportive.

There’s no big secret to the boobs, he says — just cotton padding mostly. He made all the foam body padding himself.

Keyser starts a new show on Thursday at LivingSocial (918 F St., N.W.) where he’ll be every week. He also does Nellie’s Drag Brunch every Sunday and Drag Salute to the Divas every month at the Howard with his drag mother, Shiqueeta Lee (the next Howard show is Feb. 9).

Keyser is single and enjoys reading, shopping at thrift stores and watching QVC and HSN in his free time.

 

Bryce Keyser, Dolly Parton, Porcelain St. Clair, gay news, Washington Blade

Porcelain St. Clair performed as Dolly Parton at the Mr. and Miss Cobalt competition in December. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

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

I’ve been out, to everyone, for about a year and a half now. The hardest person to tell was myself. For a long time I didn’t want to accept the lifestyle and the pain that may come with associating yourself as gay. I finally got tired of sheltering who I really was and came out to everyone at lightning speed.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

All the LGBT people who came before me and helped pave the way for us today. Without them, I’d probably still be in the closet.

 

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

Town is my first love. It was the first gay club I ever went to and the place that I started my drag career and met my drag mother, Shiqueeta Lee!

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Two men, holding hands, surrounded by friends and family underneath a beautiful altar covered in white roses. I’m a hopeless romantic — as long as there is something sappy and there’s love involved, I’m set!

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

This year, Beyoncé tied Dolly Parton with the record for the most Grammy Award nominations for any female artist. Oh wait — this is supposed to be non-LGBT!

 

What historical outcome would you change?

The assassination of JFK. He gave America hope at a very crucial time.

 

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

I’m still in recovery from Dolly not winning the Best Original Song Oscar in 2006.

 

On what do you insist?

Love, acceptance and the pursuit of happiness.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Announcing that I am one of three new cast members on the D.C.-based drag reality show “Drag City: DC.” This will be the third season of the show and it’s going to be a good one!

 

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

“How to Launch a Drag Career in 30 Days”

 

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

I would applaud the scientists who discovered it, then continue watching that week’s Judith Ripka’s Jewelry special on QVC. I am very proud of my sexuality and of who I am. Being gay has enhanced my life in so many ways.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I am not a religious person by any means, although I am a very spiritual person. I do believe there is something bigger than us out there somewhere. I think you kind of have to believe that to stay halfway sane in this world.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Rhinestone the rainbow flag; it will look better under the spotlights.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My family. Take care of them while you can.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That we all wear pink on Wednesdays. Everyone knows we wear ruby slipper red on Wednesdays now.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Steel Magnolias” will always be my favorite. It’s hilarious, southern, so sad it will make you cry your eyes out and Dolly plays the town hairdresser. It’s got my name written all over it in 12 different languages.

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Using the men’s restroom. I am more of a lady than half the traffic that passes through an average women’s restroom. Plus they smell nicer.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

The support of my family. No trophy or honor that I will ever receive in my lifetime will top that.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

I wish I would have known where everything was going to end up and that it all gets better. I stressed out for a long time trying to figure out what I “wanted to be when I grew up” when I actually knew all along, but didn’t want to accept it because it wasn’t what everyone else was doing.

 

Why Washington?  

Washington is like New York City’s baby sister. It has almost everything you’d ever want in a city however it’s a little less stressful than New York. The perfect place for a freelance female impressionist like myself.

22
Jan
2014

Smart tips for your tax refund

tax return, gay news, Washington Blade

Think carefully about what you will do with your tax refund. (Photo courtesy StatePoint)

StatePoint — If you’re fortunate enough to receive a refund this tax season, it’s time to think about sensible uses for the extra income so, as Grandpa used to say, “it doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.”

The smartest thing to do with a little extra money, experts say, is to use it in a way that benefits your budget, generates extra income or helps you achieve financial peace of mind.

This can be accomplished in several ways, including putting the money into a savings account with a competitive interest rate, investing in energy saving improvements for your home or paying down debt. Or, if these options don’t move you, consider donating your refund to a charity of your choice.

“There’s an old saying that money can’t buy happiness, and while this may be true, our research shows that saving money can impact our sense of well-being,” says Diane Morais, Ally Bank deposits and line of business integration executive.

In fact, among those with a savings account, 38 percent of respondents surveyed report feeling extremely, or very happy, versus 29 percent of those without one, according to a recent Ally Bank survey.

Beyond a savings account, another smart move is to make a deductible IRA contribution. Not only will you earn interest, your contribution may be eligible for a tax deduction. Depending on the size of the refund, you may need to find a bank that has no minimum deposit requirement or monthly maintenance fees that can quickly eat away at your principal. For example, Ally Bank, Member FDIC, meets both criteria. To learn more about options that meet your specific personal needs, visit AllyBank.com.

While few people will regret saving money, another wallet-friendly option is to invest your tax refund into money-saving projects, such as energy efficient home improvements. In addition to helping reduce utility costs, you may qualify for a tax credit, called the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit, on such projects as solar power and wind turbine upgrades. More information can be found at energy.gov.

Also, consider paying off credit card debt to save on the interest expense and improve your credit score to help you obtain better terms for big ticket items like a car or a home. For free budgeting and credit tips, visit AllyWalletWise.com.

And finally, you may also want to consider making a donation to a charitable cause, which in some instances may reduce your tax liability. Always check with a tax professional if this is a concern.

Regardless of how you spend your refund, remember that it’s your hard-earned money, not a windfall — so be sure to use it wisely.

28
Feb
2014

Queery: Joe Bello

Joe Bello, Capital Pride Symphonic Band, gay news, Washington Blade

Joe Bello (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When Joe Bello was in elementary school, he saw a euphonium demonstration and was hooked.

“I just fell in love with the sound and decided what’s what I wanted to do,” says the 36-year-old Naperville, Ill. native, who started playing at age 8.

It’s been a rich life for the most part. Since 1998 he’s played with the United States Air Force Concert Band. He’s retiring in August.

And a concert Saturday night with the Capital Pride Symphonic Band, which he’s conducted for the past six years, is his swan song with that group.

Their program, dubbed “Dances!,” is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Columbia Heights Education Campus Auditorium (3101 16th St., N.W.) and will feature everything from polka and tango to what Bello calls “slower, lyrical-type pieces” and more. Tickets are $20 ($10 for students/seniors; 12 and under free with an adult). Details are at dcdd.org.

Bello has been in Washington for 16 years and lives in the Navy Yard section of town. He plans to move to Chicago in August to enter a doctoral program at Northwestern University. He hopes eventually to be a university band director.

Bello is single and enjoys triathlon training, cycling, wine, friends and traveling in his free time.

 

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

I came out when I was 16 in high school back in 1994. The hardest person to tell was my mother.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero? 

Greg Louganis

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

Nation

 

Describe your dream wedding. 

I would have a small chamber orchestra playing some of my favorite classical music on the beach or somewhere near water.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? 

Hmm — not into politics.

 

What historical outcome would you change? 

The Holocaust.

 

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

Realizing Ricky Martin was gay!

 

On what do you insist? 

That music education continues to be taught in schools and to advocate for the importance of symphony orchestras in our country.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? 

My last Facebook post was about the Air Force approving my early retirement.

 

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

“Gay and Reckless”

 

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

Stay just the way I am.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe in spirituality and that our souls will migrate to something or someone else.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? 

Stay strong and committed.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for? 

The man of my dreams, oh and a bag of spicy potato chips.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? 

Sexual preference in the bedroom.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie? 

“Mommie Dearest”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom? 

Hand shaking

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet? 

The opportunity to solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on television when I was 16.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18? 

That people are not always as they seem from the outside.

 

Why Washington? 

I wanted to play my instrument professionally, and the military bands are the only place I’m able to do that.

26
Mar
2014

Queery: Brandon Montgomery

Brandon Montgomery, DHS, Department of Homeland Security, gay news, Washington Blade

Brandon Montgomery (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Pride group within the Department of Homeland Security may sound big — it has about 500 members — but Brandon Montgomery, its president, says it’s really not when you consider that the department employs about 250,000 people.

“Just like in the military, there’s a lot of stigma people have to overcome,” Montgomery says. “I think giving people in the federal law enforcement world a sense of belonging is paramount. … Every employer that can offer that kind of support should do so.”

Montgomery has been with the DHS a little over seven years and has served in several departments. Now he’s a public affairs officer and liaison for film, TV and multimedia producers who need information on the department. The 47-year-old San Antonio native moved to Washington about 10 years ago when his ex-wife was pursuing a doctoral degree and got transferred.

Married 19 years, he divorced in 2010 and later started a relationship with his current partner, Stevan Johnson. They have joint custody of his two daughters, Katherine and Claire (14 and 8 respectively), and live together in Silver Spring.

Montgomery enjoys Broadway, museums, reading, movies and cooking in his free time.

 

Brandon Montgomery, DHS, Department of Homeland Security, gay news, Washington Blade

Brandon Montgomery with family. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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

About five years. The hardest person to tell was my wife. The second hardest were my kids who were pretty young at the time, though in the end they were the quickest to accept and adapt to it.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

I admire the unsung heroes who stand up for what they believe, battle bullying and discrimination and show the “rest of the world” that being is gay is normal. But if I have to pick someone, it would be Harvey Milk.

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

I’m old. Best nightspot to me is home with friends and Stevan dishing dirt but I really enjoy the Green Lantern — hot men, not boys and all very friendly. It’s what I imagine the gay “Cheers” would be like.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Well, I had the big fancy formal one in my previous life. But, if I were to marry again, my dream wedding would include Stevan and me on a beach, with my children, friends, family, lots of laughter, dancing and Champagne.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Equality. Gay or not. I think it is the basis for anything that gets me all riled up.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

That’s a toss-up between the “hanging chad” in Nov. 2000 and the assassination of Lincoln. Both were horrific.

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

Wow, I’ve had so many — meeting Adam Levine at a Super Bowl party where he performed and meeting and chatting with Prince, at a Grammys after party. Watching the New York City premiere of “The King’s Speech” with my Academy Award-winning producer and friend and chatting and being caddy with Leslie Jordan.

 

On what do you insist?

Be honest. Be bold. Be compassionate.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Photo of snow in backyard: “Peaceful day of constant snow. Looking out bedroom window. Expect 7” when done. As a gay man … that’s pretty much average … of snow for one day.”

 

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

“Me Talk Pretty One Day”

 

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

Why change perfection, just because you can?

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

Well, I’m Episcopalian. Catholic-lite.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Be honest. Be bold. Be compassionate.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My children. And to sing and dish with Kristin Chenoweth

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

“Straight acting” — that’s ridiculous. Really, what does that mean?

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“A Single Man.” However the one that most impacted me emotionally wasn’t a movie, but the play “The Normal Heart.”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Thank you notes.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

The ring Stevan gave me. It’s funny, we had the girls in the car and singing like fools to “Single Lady,” and he put a ring on it. Awe…

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That life would be good being gay. Life would be tough being gay or playing straight. In the end it doesn’t matter, life is tough but make the best of it.

 

Why Washington?

It’s an incredible city filled with history, culture and inspiring leaders creating social and world change right in your midst. Not to mention the gays are beautiful and it’s an easy gateway to the Caribbean and Europe!

 

29
Jan
2014

Protecting your nest egg

nest egg, gay news, Washington Blade

Take steps to prevent future crises and protect your own nest egg.

StatePoint — From increased unemployment to commonplace home foreclosures, it’s hard to forget the devastating effects of the 2008 financial crisis and the worst recession since the Great Depression.

While the hope is that regulatory bodies and bureaus created in the crisis’ wake will help prevent a recurrence, some experts say these reforms were shaped by the same entities responsible for the crisis, but that citizens have the power to chart a different course for their own economic futures.

“Whether policies were formed with selfless or selfish intentions, you don’t need to quietly agree to them, especially if they are misguided. We have a system that can respond to the efforts of individual citizens,” says Jay W. Richards, Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and author of the new book, “Infiltrated: How to Stop the Insiders and Activists Who Are Exploiting the Financial Crisis to Control Our Lives and Our Fortunes.”

In his book, Richards suggests that complacency on the part of ordinary citizens will lead to more serious financial disasters. He encourages readers to take steps to prevent future crises and protect their own nest eggs:

• Get informed: “Many culpable entities used the crisis fallout to lay blame elsewhere and increase their own power,” Richards says. “But with knowledge, prudence and intelligent action, history won’t have to repeat itself.”

“The only way to prevent deception and cynicism during future crises is for ordinary citizens to get informed and outraged enough to change our fiscal and regulatory trajectory,” says Richards.

• Take control: Online educational resources can help you get informed. To brush up on basic financial skills, visit MyMoney.gov, a site created by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission with information on how to save, what to consider when borrowing, and how to make a budget.

• Diversify: Experts recommend balancing different types of assets, such as cash, stocks, bonds and commodities. Having different types of investments means you might be better shielded from economic crises, because some assets might fall while others might rise.

• Don’t rely on your home: If the recession taught people anything, it’s not to rely too much on home equity for retirement. Many think their homes are more valuable than they really are or will be when it’s time to retire.

• Be philanthropic: “Those concerned about the future should be the first to grow effective local organizations providing real safety nets for the destitute,” says Richards, who believes philanthropy is a moral responsibility best left to communities.

• Think of the future: When a consumer borrows, she or he alone bears the debt. However, when the government over-spends for short-term goals, future generations are expected to foot some, or all, of the bill. “This is immoral and no fancy economic theory can change that,” Richards says.

Be civic: Your vote matters to politicians. Call, write and visit them to express concerns over economic regulations you don’t support.

More information about “Infiltrated” can be found at InfiltratedTheBook.com.

Remember, you don’t need a PhD in economics to stay informed.

28
Feb
2014

Queery: Torey Carter

Torey Carter, gay news, Washington Blade

Torey Carter (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When Torey Carter joined the Victory Fund staff four years ago, he says the organization’s singularity of focus was the main draw.

“The thing that strikes me is that we’re now seeing victories in places where you don’t readily or quickly think of there being LGBT officeholders,” the 37-year-old Hertford, N.C., native says. “I’m not talking about California or New York but in the heartland and in the South, I have the opportunity to work for an organization that works to get people elected in the kinds of towns like where I grew up. It hasn’t happened there, but it’s a reality that’s completely possible now and it wasn’t then. That’s why I still come to work every day.”

Victory Fund has its champagne brunch, one of its key annual events, Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Washington Hilton Hotel (1919 Conn. Ave., N.W.). Individual tickets are $250 and several sponsorship brackets are available. Several LGBT elected officials such as Maine’s Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Jared Polis will speak. Tickets are still available at victoryfund.org.

Carter has been in the D.C. area for about 25 years and worked many years as an accountant before joining Victory Fund.

Carter and partner Mike Conneen live together in Washington’s Takoma neighborhood. Carter enjoys home improvement projects, gardening, cooking, exercise and playing with Rex, his 6-year-old Quaker parrot, in his free time.

 

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

I’ve been out about 15 years. It was hardest to tell my grandmother because her health at the time was poor and I worried it would add to her worries. But she welcomed my truth and embraced me with unconditional love.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Bayard Rustin was a man ahead of his time.

 

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

Nothing compares to standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, gazing out at the stars over the reflecting pool with the Capitol Building in the distance, reflecting on the history that unfolded at that site.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Matching suits, family, friends and lots of Beyonce on the dance floor.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Every child deserves a quality education. It’s the best resource for folks that come from a place like me to level the playing field.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

I’d change who shot J.R. It would have been more interesting if one of the main characters, like Sue Ellen, had done it. And I’d make sure the Bible was properly translated.

 

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

I’ll never forget where I was when I found out who shot J.R.

 

On what do you insist?

No pork, no chocolate, no diet soda.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“What is this white stuff falling from the sky???” (Sunday, March 30, 2014)

 

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

“Torey Carter: A Model Life”

 

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

you do?

I would welcome all newly converted straight people to the gay community.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I was raised Baptist and I believe in a just but loving God. I also still believe Pluto is a planet, regardless of what scientists say.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

The momentum is in the blue states. But the laws, minds and hearts to change are in the red states.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My future children, and my children’s future.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That gay men and lesbians don’t/can’t get along.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Broken Hearts Club” has a special place in my heart.

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Family-style portions are excessive. And second and third place are unnecessary; there’s only one winner.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I should win an Oscar for my ability to impersonate select reality TV stars.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

My father — I wish I would have known that we only had 10 years to fix almost 30.

 

Why Washington?

Washington is an international symbol of freedom and democracy. But when my mom and I moved here from North Carolina (at age 12), it was also a city of hope and opportunity. And it still is.

03
Apr
2014