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Black Pride schedule and more

Black Pride, Retro Dance Party, Gay News, Washington Blade

So much to do this weekend during D.C.’s annual Black Pride festival. (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

There are several events occurring this Memorial Day. D.C. Black Pride is the official planning organizing agency but several other groups also have parties and activities planned for black LGBT people and allies.

D.C. Black Pride Official Events

Host hotel: Hyatt Regency Washington

(400 New Jersey Ave., NW)


Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) hosts the Washington, DC HIPAA launch event “Information is Powerful Medicine” beginning at 10 a.m.

The opening reception and community awards presentation at the Hyatt Regency Washington (400 New Jersey Ave., NW) starts at 6 p.m.

At the same time, D.C. Concerned Providers host an LGBT Prom at Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge St., NW). This event is for ages 16-21 and it is free. The evening will include food, HIV testing, raffles, photographer, vogue and a runway competition and a Prom King and Queen.

RainbowConnects hosts speed dating at the host hotel, Hyatt Regency Washington (400 New Jersey Ave., NW) at 7:30 p.m. Donations will be collected to support the D.C. Center.


A community town hall meeting on the topic “Are We Prepared to Address Homophobia in the Black Church,” begins at 11 a.m. at the host hotel in Congressional A room. The town hall will be facilitated by Rev. Larry Burks and will discuss the impact of homophobia on LGBT attendees at black churches.

There will be several workshops held in the host hotel in different rooms starting at noon, including “Transgender Awareness 101: Like Sands Through the Hourglass, the Days of the Trans Life,” “PReParing for an End: A Prevention Plan to End New HIV infections in Black Gay Communities,” “Old School vs. New School: An Intergenerational Discussion,” “Protected and Served: The LGBT Communities’ Attitudes & Experiences with Police,” “TransENDing Boudaries,” “ManDate: The Construction of Black Manhood and Masculinity” and “Women’s Inter-Generational Salon.” To see the full description of these events and locations, visit

The D.C. Black Pride Film Festival begins at 1 p.m. at the host hotel. The films featured include “Friend of Essex,” “Pariah,” “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom,” “God Loves Uganda” and “You Are Not Alone.”

A Post Happy Hour sponsored by Barefoot Bubbly Wines starts at 5 p.m. at the Thurgood Marshall Center (1816 12th St., NW).

The D.C. Black Pride Poetry Slam hosted by ButtaflySoul begins at 7 p.m. at the host hotel and admission is $10. Performers will enter a contest that has three different cash prizes, with first place also receiving an appearance on stage at the Health & Wellness Festival.


An interfaith service is provided at the host hotel at 9 a.m.

The Health & Wellness Festival begins at noon at the Francis-Stevens Educational Campus (2425 N St., NW).

For more information on official D.C. Black Pride events, visit

Events from other groups include:


MOVA Lounge (2204 14th St., NW) hosts the Genesis III Happy Hour as a pre 5000 Men Pride Mega Party at 5 p.m.. This is open to the public with a live DJ and a light buffet with two complimentary drinks per pass holder. Cover is $35.

The annual 5000 Men Pride Mega Party starts at 9 p.m. at the Ibiza Nightclub (1222 1st St., NE). This is a favorite Friday celebration and costs $40.


The Tropical Heat Beach Mega Party starts at 2 p.m. at the Heron Shelter at Sandy Point Beach of Sandy Point State Park (1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis). The day includes a $300 hot body contest, music, free food, an open bar from 2-4 p.m. for pass holders and sexy dancers. Cover charge is $40.

The main event of Pride starts at 9 p.m. featuring R&B singer Brandy at Love (1350 Okie St., NE). There are expected to be 10,000 men in attendance. VIP cover is $60.

R&B singer Brandy plays Love on Saturday


When the party ends at 5 a.m., Pride will host a Red Eye Breakfast Club at a venue that will be announced. Cost will be $20.

Pride hosts the Annual Wet & Sexy Unity Mega Pool Party Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Accokeek Mansion. The day includes a live DJ, free food, a ticket bar, sexy dancers and rated X entertainment. Cost is $35.

Fur Nightclub (33 Patterson St., NE) hosts the Men In White event which features a surprise celebrity performance. Cover is $30.

Muse (717 6th St., NW) hosts a “sizzling hot Sunday party” featuring multiple levels and 2 DJs at 11 a.m. This is a promotional partner’s event, so it is not covered by event passes.


The annual Us Helping Us Picnic at Fort Dupont Park (3600 F St., SE) starts at noon. There will be free food and beverages for pass holders at the Omega tent.

The Layla Lounge (501 Morse St., NE) hosts Apocalypse Chapter III starting at 9 p.m. Cover is $15.

Participants can pay for these events individually or they can pay $99 for an event pass that has the value of $330. For more information, visit


Donald Despertt, 30

Donald Despertt. (Screen shot via

Donald Despertt. (Screen shot via

Donald Allen Despertt, a senior advertising coordinator at the Washington Post who was involved with a separate business that produces entertainment events, including LGBT and AIDS fundraising events, died in Washington on June 17. He was 30.

In recent years, Donald Despertt served as a volunteer event organizer for D.C. Black Pride, one of the city’s largest LGBT events, in his role as chief operating officer at Omega Entertainment, an event planning company, according to his friend Michael Stratton.

Despertt’s interest in business and entrepreneurship surfaced in a May 1999 article in the Washington Times when he was a junior at D.C.’s Theodore Roosevelt High School. The article noted that he began training for a career as an entrepreneur in the sixth grade and started his own baking business when he was 15.

Biographical information posted on his LinkedIn page says he won the National Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship in 1999. One year earlier, the same organization named Donald Despertt first place winner in its Business Plan Competition contest.

He graduated from Roosevelt High as class valedictorian in 2000 before beginning his undergraduate studies at Georgetown University in marketing, operations and information management. He later served as advertising manager for The Hoya, the Georgetown University student newspaper.

In 2010 and 2011 Despertt served as director of men’s promotion for the White Attire Affair fundraising event for Al Sura, a D.C. charitable foundation that gives money to AIDS service organizations.

“He was a wonderful person who did all he could to help community organizations that helped people,” said Abur-Rahim Briggs, president of Al Sura.

A viewing and funeral service were scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 3, at Peace Baptist Church at 712 18th St., N.E. Interment was scheduled to follow the service at D.C.’s Glenwood Cemetery.


Several factors contributed to Omega closing

Omega, gay bar, LGBT nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Omega in 2009 (Washington Blade file photo by Henry Linser)

A few more details emerged this week about the closing of long-time Dupont Circle-based gay bar Omega, although specifics of who purchased the property remain undisclosed.

Perry Morehouse, who started there as a bartender 35 years ago and was its general manager for about the last 20 years, said this week he doesn’t know specifics other than that “it was sold to two guys that are gonna make it their private residence.” As for the sudden closing, he said it was explained to him that the business, which opened as The Fraternity House on Sept. 1, 1976 according to Mark Meinke of Rainbow History Project, had to be dissolved and moved out by year’s end.

Morehouse concurs it is unfortunate that such a long-time staple of D.C. gay nightlife didn’t get to have a closing night party as other former D.C. gay bars and clubs have done, but said the decision was beyond his control.

“I wasn’t involved in the decision at all,” Morehouse said. “I think with the people involved, it had to be closed before the end of the year. It’s just a guess, but it may have been a tax issue, I’m not sure.”

Morehouse said the building/business had been for sale since May. It was located at the rear of 2122 P Street, NW, the address it used in its promotions, though the technical address was 2123 Twining Court, NW.

“We just always used that in our advertising and such because nobody knew where Twining Court was, but everybody knows P Street,” Morehouse said.

He also said owner Glen Thompson, a Delaware resident who also owned the nearby gay bar/club Apex (now closed) and former Rehoboth Beach, Del.,-based gay club Renegade, declined to answer questions about the business or why it was sold. Morehouse declined to comment on the degree to which Thompson was involved in the business.

Morehouse did, however, offer his own thoughts. He said business had been “a lot slower” in recent years.

“I attribute it to a couple things,” he told the Blade. “One, the gay demographic has moved farther east … it got to where it was hard to get people to cross over to the west side of the Circle. Second, we were mainly a cruise bar and in the advent of the internet, it really hurt some of that. Suddenly you can go online and pull up a thousand people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia all looking for a date. They all used to be at the bar.”

Morehouse said while certain specials — like their “shirtless men drink free” nights on Wednesdays — remained popular, it’s untenable to run such specials all the time.

“You can’t give the bar away every night,” he said. “People go where the specials are. We were popular on Wednesdays. Green Lantern had theirs on Thursdays. JR.’s is popular on Sunday afternoons. The bears go to bear happy hour, but most of them don’t go out other nights. It’s just the way things are with demographics now.”

He also said gay assimilation into mainstream society has taken a toll on traditional gay watering holes and hang-out spots.

“Twenty years ago, gay people went to gay bars to hang out with other gay people and I don’t think you have that as much anymore,” Morehouse said. “People used to go to Annie’s because you could be with your own kind. Now, five gay men can go have dinner together anywhere and not feel out of place. I’ve even seen two guys out on the dance floor at a straight bar and hardly anyone looks sideways, especially in D.C. People don’t feel uncomfortable out like they used to. They feel they can let their hair down just about anywhere now.”

According to D.C. property records, the Twining Court location was sold to Thompson in 2005 for $2 million. Morehouse confirmed that prior to that, the location was rented. Sales records have not yet been posted for the current transaction, but the property has a proposed 2013 value of $2.2 million. It’s registered as a historic carriage house in Washington, a point Morehouse said had little impact on their ability to use it as a bar. He said about 15 employees were on staff, not counting contract employees such as DJs.

“A lot of people worked there a long time,” he said. “We had a couple bartenders who were there 15 to 20 years, so there’s quite a few that had worked there quite awhile.”

Morehouse said the name was changed to Omega “probably 16 or 17 years ago” though the reason for the change was “something I honestly don’t know.”

Morehouse informed employees Dec. 26 of the closing. Its website initially remained live but now a blank black screen appears at

Deacon Maccubbin, owner of now-closed gay bookstore Lambda Rising, said in an e-mail that “we’ll miss seeing Perry behind the upstairs bar.” He and partner James Bennett met there when it was The Fraternity House.

“So it’s held a fond spot in our memories for 35 years,” Maccubbin wrote.

Washington Blade staff writer Lou Chibbaro Jr. contributed to this report.