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2013 in photography

2013 was a banner year for the LGBT community. Here are the top Washington Blade photos of the year. (Washington Blade photos by Blake Bergen, Tyler Grigsby, Michael Key, Kevin Majoros, Damien Salas, Lee Whitman and Jon Wooten) buyphoto 


LGBT Media Journalists Converging

MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell gave the keynote address at the LGBT Media Journalists Converging conference on Friday at the AFL CIO headquarters. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key) LGBT media 


Panel of journalists, activists tackles outing, Russia, ENDA

Kevin Naff, Thom Senzee, Mandy Carter, Sarah Blazucki, Rob Smith, Adam Moore, Will Walters, journalists, gay news, Washington Blade, outing

Panelists included (left to right) Kevin Naff, Thom Senzee, Mandy Carter, Sarah Blazucki, Rob Smith, Adam Moore and Will Walters. (Photo courtesy of Thom Senzee)

Last week’s engagement at the National Press Club of the “LGBTs In The News” panel series, currently on a nationwide tour, revealed differences in opinion about the ethics of outing.

Comprised of leaders from the fields of journalism, entertainment and activism, the panel also shed light on the need for greater opportunities for LGBT actors and broadcast personalities and for better coverage of people of color at the front lines of the LGBT-equality movement.

Citing a landmark report his organization released last year, which was researched and compiled by the Williams Institute at UCLA, SAG-AFTRA’s national director of EEO and diversity, Adam Moore noted that the entertainment industry in the U.S. is the “most visible workplace on Earth,” and that as LGBT actors and media professionals gain parity in job opportunities, the entertainment industry and news business can lead by example as models of equal opportunity.

“We’ve already come a long way in our industries,” said Moore. “But you might be surprised how far we still have to go. This is an industry that is still run by a lot of very traditional, very conservative and highly risk-averse people at the top.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the controversy surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi vis-à-vis Russia’s anti-gay-propaganda law was, for all intents and purposes, only modestly grazed as a point of discussion during the panel.

However, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was a hot topic among the panelists.

“What I believe, and as Arizona Governor Jan Brewer learned recently, corporations that have already instituted non-discrimination policies for LGBT workers are inclined to put pressure on congress to pass ENDA,” said panelist Will Walters, whose civil rights education organization, FreeWillUSA is a major sponsor of the panel series. “Ironically, big business may force ENDA to a ‘yes’ vote in the long run.”

The discussion, which was also sponsored by the Washington Blade and SAG-AFTRA (formerly the Screen Actors Guild) and held in the National Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Room, soon turned to the enduring question of whether it is ethical for, or even incumbent upon, reporters to disclose secretly gay public figures’ sexual orientation.

“If you’re a private citizen with no public persona, that’s one thing,” Blade editor, Kevin Naff said. “However, there’s an entirely different set of rules that are specific to people in the public eye. They’ve chosen a path in the limelight and they are fair game—especially when they’re hurting other gay people and being hypocritical at the same time.”

According to Naff, ultimately it matters not whether a closeted public figure is hostile to the cause of LGBT equality.

“If they’re a public figure, reporting their sexual orientation is fair game,” he said. “If you’re in the public eye, this is part of what you signed up for.”

But author-activist and Iraq war veteran, Rob Smith disagreed.

“It’s not up to me to tell someone, even if they are against us publicly, ‘you’re going to be outed whether you like it or not,’” he said. “I’m sorry, but that’s not right; and it hurts us all in the long run.”

At least one other panelist, civil rights leader Mandy Carter, agreed with Smith.

“It can cause all kinds of damage in a person’s life to be outed, including loss of career and even suicide,” said Carter, who is co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition. “I’m not going to be the one to decide for you whether or not you should come out of the closet.”

Working with other individuals and organizations, not least among them, Walter Naegle, surviving partner of the late Bayard Rustin, Carter has been a key figure in helping increase awareness about Rustin’s role alongside civil rights activist, A. Philip Randolph as chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

There was consensus among all of the panelists about the importance of educating the world about Bayard Rustin, who was openly gay in the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and beyond, but who—despite being among Dr. King’s closest advisers—was kept out of the public eye as much as possible for fear that the Civil Rights movement might be “tarnished” by Rustin’s homosexuality.

All of the panelists agreed that passing ENDA was probably the most important goal the LGBT community has on its plate at the moment. Yet, each agreed that passage of ENDA in 2014 is all but impossible.

“I think 2015 looks a little more plausible,” said National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association vice president of print and online media, Sarah Blazucki.

The next “LGBTs In The News” panel will be in late spring in New York City and will feature the theme: “LGBTs and Our Allies: We couldn’t do it without you.”

“New York promises to be a decidedly star-studded panel, as we expect to have some of the music industry’s most illustrious LGBT allies and community members on the panel,” said series founder and panel moderator, Thom Senzee, a freelance journalist.

“Stay tuned for a major announcement about our confirmed panelists for the New York engagement of LGBTs In The News.”

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OBITUARY: Mike Ritter, Blade contributor, dies at 48

Mike Ritter, gay news, Washington Blade

Mike Ritter was a well-known, award-winning political cartoonist. (Photo by Michael Chesworth; courtesy GA Voice)

Mike Ritter, a Washington Blade contributor and art director for the LGBT newspaper GA Voice in Atlanta, died shortly after midnight on Sunday, March 30. He was 48.

He was admitted to the emergency room at Atlanta Medical Center on Friday, March 28, where doctors determined he had a dissection on his aorta, a severe condition. After undergoing a 10-hour surgery on Saturday, he died due to the severity of his condition and complications from undergoing open-heart surgery.

Ritter was a native of Washington State and attended college at Arizona State University. While working on the newspaper at ASU, Ritter was awarded 10 Gold Circle Awards from Columbia University’s Scholastic Press Association. He also won two first-place awards in the editorial cartoon and comic strip categories.

He was the editorial cartoonist at the Tribune in Phoenix from 1992-2005 and a syndicated cartoonist with King Features Syndicate.

Ritter was honored by the Suburban Newspapers of America while at the Tribune and was awarded first place for editorial cartooning by the Arizona Press Club in 1993, 1995 and 1996.

In 1999 he received the Thomson newspaper chain’s highest award for illustration and a Freedom of Information Award from the Arizona Newspaper Association.

He served as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists from 2003-2004. The AAEC noted Ritter was likely one of the first openly gay staff cartoonist at a mainstream daily newspaper while he worked for the East Valley and Scottsdale Tribune papers in Arizona. The East Valley Tribune has a slide show of his nationally recognized 9-11 political cartoon as well as many of his illustrations.

In 2004 he was profiled by Editor & Publisher magazine where he was also noted for being an openly gay staff cartoonist at a mainstream daily newspaper.

After Ritter moved to Atlanta, he joined the staff of the former Southern Voice where he was a graphic designer and cartoonist. He also was a cartoonist for GA Voice and worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before joining the GA Voice staff as full-time art director last year. In 2011 as cartoonist for the GA Voice, he won third place for Best Original Editorial Cartoon in the National Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper contest. The cartoon was a biting look at the Atlanta Police Department’s raid on the Atlanta Eagle after news broke that that the lead investigator of the raid was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. No drugs were found during the raid of the Eagle in 2009.

Many of his GA Voice and SoVo cartoons were picked up by other LGBT media outlets and blogs and he was an occasional Blade contributor, including work on several colorful and memorable front covers.

“Mike was a dear friend, a great person. He made me laugh. He made me think. He made me a better person and a better editor. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of old music and old movies. A true Renaissance man,” said Dyana Bagby, GA Voice editor. “He kept his great sense of humor until the very end even though he was in pain and uncomfortable. We at the GA Voice are heartbroken.”

Ritter’s impact goes far beyond his cartoons and graphic design, agreed Laura Douglas-Brown, GA Voice co-founder and former editor.

“I could talk about Mike’s brilliance, his skill as a cartoonist and illustrator, his keen political wit — but this would barely touch the surface of who Mike was to so many,” Douglas-Brown said. “There simply are no words big enough for the man he was or the legacy he leaves behind.”

His best friends, Will Alford and Tim Messier, are in contact with the family and plans for a memorial will be announced as soon as more information is made available.

He was born Aug. 21, 1965, and his family includes five older sisters, a brother and his parents.


NYC Pride Parade

buyphotoThe New York City Pride Parade wound through the streets of Manhattan on Sunday. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)  


Vandalism of Blade boxes, theft of papers continues

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Vandals appear to have stepped up their attacks on Blade distribution boxes. (Washington Blade photo)

Unidentified perpetrators are emptying some of the Washington Blade’s newspaper distribution boxes of papers on the day they are delivered and vandalizing others by smearing human excrement on the papers and the inside surfaces, preventing readers from gaining access to the Blade in locations throughout the city.

Blade publisher Lynne Brown said that while the bulk theft of the papers and the vandalism of the boxes have been taking place for the past two years, the frequency and intensity of the incidents appear to have increased during Thanksgiving week.

“We restock and clean as fast as possible,” Brown said. “But there’s a loss of property. This is our product. It’s being destroyed,” she said. “And the confidence of our readers is being challenged.”

John Ryan, co-owner of Media Point LLC, a newspaper distribution company that delivers the Blade each week to the street boxes and other locations, such as bars, bookstores and restaurants, said his drivers remove the boxes soiled by excrement and take them to a company warehouse, where they are steam cleaned.

Ryan said during the past month or two, the unidentified perpetrator or perpetrators have repeatedly targeted Blade boxes on 17th Street outside some of the neighborhood’s popular bars and restaurants, including the gay bar Colbalt at 17th and R streets, N.W.

“I don’t know how they are getting it into the box, but it’s the fifth time with these boxes that we’ve had to pull them off the street and clean them and put them back,” he said in referring to the boxes smeared with excrement.

“We’re at wit’s end as far as that goes because that is a nasty job as you can imagine,” he said.

“And three days later they’re doing it again, and we have to pick them back up,” said Media Point supervisor Richard Goldsmith, who is in charge of the Blade distribution operation.

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said earlier this year that the department is “very committed” to addressing reports of vandalism of newspaper boxes. But Crump and other police officials have said the U.S. Attorney’s office has determined that it’s not a crime to take a free newspaper, even large quantities of the paper.

Maryland and other states have passed laws that make it a crime to remove large quantities of free newspapers if the intent is to deprive others from reading them or obtaining them. D.C. has yet to adopt such a law, police officials have said.

Brown said that with the vandalism appearing to be increasing, she plans to more aggressively report the incidents to police at the time the delivery drivers discover the damaged boxes.

According to Brown and Ryan, in addition to the excrement smearing, vandals have started to smash the plastic window on the boxes and break off a clip that holds one copy of the paper against the window so readers can read the headlines and determine if a new issue has been delivered.

Ryan and Goldsmith said they take steps to repair and replace the broken windows and clips on the boxes as fast as they can, but in certain locations the vandals return and break them almost as soon as the repaired boxes are put back on the street.

“If a hate crime is a factor, one of my concerns is what if a reader is taking a Blade out and this hateful, spiteful person who’s kicking out the window on the box decides to attack a Blade reader?”


The time to buy is now

Jack Lew, Jacob Lew, United States Department of the Treasury, Barack Obama Administration, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently said that ‘a lot of head winds’ are dying down and that banks are better capitalized now than in recent years. (Photo public domain)


If you are in the housing market, you may have noticed something that you may find frightening: interest rates are up. However, this rise in interest rates should not stop you from buying now. If you thought interest rates would stay at 3 percent forever (as they formerly were), you were most certainly mistaken and perhaps a tad naïve. Within the last four months, a rise in interest rates up 1.5 percent to 4.5 percent has shocked many potential homebuyers.

This gradual rise in interest rates has shocked some potential homebuyers so much that they are no longer in the market to buy. Let us be clear: Do not let this happen to you.

Here are some basic reasons why the current market is still the best time to purchase a property in D.C. First, interest rates at 4.5 percent are still historically very low. If you are a buyer looking and feel you should wait for them to go back down, think again. The forecast and climate at the Federal Reserve shows that interest rates will be going up even higher within the next year. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently stated at the Washington Economic Club, “A lot of head winds” are dying down, and banks are better capitalized and “the U.S. is seen as a very attractive country for investment.” All of these are indicators that interest rates will rise in the future.

Now, how about we go through an example. Let’s assume you are purchasing a $600,000 property with a 10 percent down payment. If you were lucky and got the lower interest rate back in early May 2013 of 3.5 percent, the “P&I” — or Principle and Interest Payment — on your new property would be $2,424 month. The current rate on the same loan with 4.625 percent interest with P&I is $2,776. That is only $350 a month more than our initial example.

If we assume within a year home values will increase 10 percent (note: we obviously we cannot predict this estimate for sure as in some zip codes in D.C. this appreciation is much higher, per MLS review), and rates increase 1.5 percent, that payment will be $3,609 a month. That is $833 more than what you would pay in this market. This is of course assuming the predictions pan out.

Historically, appreciation in Washington, D.C. cycles up on a five-to-six-year cycle, while the stagnate or depreciating markets are typically shorter as only being three to four years. Because we are just into the end of the first year of appreciation, history should tell us we have another four to five years to benefit from this appreciating market.

With the U.S. economy steadily gaining momentum, the Federal Reserve has to increase interest rates to curb inflation. With the Federal Reserve chair nominee still up in the air, the markets are poised to be volatile. In addition, many other factors and influences both domestic and foreign continue to put pressure, good and bad, on rates to increase.

And so now we have the moral to the example: Jump in and do not hesitate to buy NOW! History has shown and will prove you are making a wise choice.

If you would like more mortgage and interest rate advice, please contact Rob Clark at 703-518-2814.  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Dupont is located in the heart of Dupont Circle at 1606 17th St., N.W. at Q Street.  If you are interested in buying or selling please reach out to us for the real scoop. You can contact us at 202-387-6180.


Capital Pride Parade

Thousands of people flocked to the streets of D.C. to watch the 2013 Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photos by George Marc Alderman, Anne Barrington, Patrick Brown, John Browning, Candace Craig, Jen Huls, Michael Key, Joyce Morton, Jana Panarites, Stacey W. Parker, Robert Rapanut, Damien Salas, Amy Stubbs and Jessica Watson) buyphoto 


NY Times columnist to talk marriage

mass wedding, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, Supreme Court, Proposition 8, Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, DOMA, gay news, LGBT, Washington Blade, marriage equality

Frank Bruni will speak about the recent shift in public opinion on same-sex marriage in America. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Frank Bruni, New York Times’ first openly gay op-ed columnist, will speak about the recent shift in public sentiment on gay marriage in America.  The event takes place on Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. at Goucher College Kraushaar Auditorium, 1021 Dulaney Valley Rd. in Towson.

Bruni, Goucher’s fall 2013 Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Visiting Professor, has been an op-ed columnist for The New York Times since June 2011. He joined the paper in 1995, first working for the metropolitan desk. He and three colleagues won the George Polk Award that year for coverage of the child-abuse death of Elisa Izquierdo.

He later moved to the Washington bureau, covering Congress and George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and first year in office. He left Washington to serve as the Rome bureau chief from 2002 to 2004 and then became the Times’ chief restaurant critic from 2004 to 2009.

Bruni has consistently contributed to the Times’ Sunday magazine, and during two periods—most recently from 2009 to 2011—he was one of its staff writers. From 2010 to 2011, he additionally wrote a column on bars and drinking, called “The Tipsy Diaries.”

He has also written two New York Times best sellers: a memoir, “Born Round” (2009), and “Ambling Into History” (2003), a chronicle of George W. Bush’s campaign for the presidency, and he was the co-author of “A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church” (1993).

The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Visiting Professorship was created to bring distinguished scholars, teachers, and practitioners to Goucher’s campus to advance local and national dialogues on pressing issues of our time. Tickets are $10 general admission. Visit here for tickets or call 410-337-6333.


Meet the Blade’s summer interns

Blade summer interns

Blade summer interns Will Owen, Alwyn Dippenaar and Damien Salas discuss their time working with the nation’s oldest LGBT weekly print newspaper. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade continues its summer intern program this year with three students from diverse backgrounds to help in its sales, photo and features departments.

Alwyn Dippenaar, 20, finished an internship last week crafting a series of business profiles. His profile of Dave Perruzza, manager of JR.’s is in this week’s edition. Dippenaar worked here as one of 17 students in the South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP) through his school, the University of Pretoria in his native South Africa. He arrived in the U.S. June 20 and found the Blade through attorney Glen Ackerman whose practice is near the SAWIP D.C. office on Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

“This has been such a nice experience for me to really see the LGBT community here up close,” Dippenaar says. “It’s been great to see how small businesses run in the U.S. and learn several things I can take back with me to South Africa where they’re trying to create more of a culture of entrepreneurship.”

Dippenaar also wrote profiles of local businesses Maid to Clean and Evolve Property Management, LLC, which will be published during the next two weeks.

Dippenaar is a native Afrikaans speaker, one of several languages spoken in South Africa. He learned English — which he speaks fluently — in college. He’s straight but says having a gay uncle helped him grow comfortable around gays. Dippenaar hopes to work in international relations when he graduates at the end of the year.

Damien Salas, a 23-year-old student at University of Georgia majoring in visual journalism, started his internship in the photo department working with Blade Photo Editor Michael Key in early May. He finishes next month and says he’s enjoyed his time here.

“It’s really been a diverse and exciting internship,” says Salas, who’s gay.

He says his most memorable assignment was his first — with a press pass yet secured (it came later), he had to “talk my way in” to a Capitol Hill hearing for the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act.”

“I was only used to covering college sports and D.C. isn’t always as welcoming to photojournalists, so it’s forced me to really show up and have the credentials and be ready to run with the big dogs,” Salas says. “You have to be willing to run toward the storm, not away from it and this has given me a good chance to do that.”

Salas got a camera from his parents when he was about 14 and became hooked on photography. He says he’s concerned about newspapers axing their photo departments but he hopes in time it will “be revitalized.”

Will Owen, a 21-year-old soon-to-be senior at Tufts University near Boston, is an international relations/Spanish major but has a strong interest in journalism. He interned at the Blade last summer as well and returned this year to work in the features department.

Owen, who’s gay, remembers seeing the Blade at the AFI Silver before he was out and was intrigued by it. He says working at the Blade has been satisfying.

“I just like feeling informed and connected to the city and the gay community in D.C.,” says Owen, who’s based in Bethesda when school is out. “It’s been really good and I feel I’ve had more opportunities here than I probably would have at other places.”

The Blade offers internship opportunities year-round in various departments. To apply, email a resume, letter of interest and work samples to features editor Joey DiGuglielmo at or editor Kevin Naff at