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Video captures vandal damaging Blade box

vandal, gay news, Washington Blade

This unidentified man can be seen damaging a Blade distribution box on 14th Street. If you recognize this man, please email Blade publisher Lynne Brown at lbrown@washblade.com.

The Washington Blade this week appealed to its readers for help in identifying a man captured on video removing and discarding copies of the Blade from a distribution box on the sidewalk in front of the Blade office on 14th Street, N.W.

The same man can be seen in the video posted on YouTube and Facebook reaching into the box and ripping off a clip intended to hold a copy of the paper against the box’s window.

“Chronic and progressively nastier vandalism has targeted Blade boxes, denying readers their newspapers for approximately two years,” said Blade publisher Lynne Brown.

“Frustrated by the loss of papers, property and concern for readers’ safety, Blade staffers set up video surveillance,” Brown said. “If anyone recognizes this man, we will take the next step.”

For more than two years, one or more vandals have been damaging Blade distribution boxes throughout the city, breaking the windows or the clips on the boxes and removing and in some cases disposing in nearby trash bins stacks of papers, preventing readers from obtaining them.

In other cases, the vandal or vandals have tossed feces into the boxes, forcing the Blade’s distribution company to transport the boxes to a warehouse where they are steam cleaned. Company officials have said the as-yet-unidentified perpetrator sometimes targets the same boxes with excrement shortly after they are returned to the sidewalks.

“This video footage is a first step at protecting ourselves,” Brown said. “Posting it online and asking our readers to help identify him is the second step,” she said. “We are fed up and moving more aggressively to address the situation.”

At the Blade’s request, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray earlier this year submitted to the City Council legislation that would make it a misdemeanor offense to steal large quantities of free newspapers. The Blade sought the legislation after D.C. police said they did not have legal authority to arrest someone for taking a free newspaper regardless of how many copies are taken.

On the mayor’s behalf, Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) introduced in February the Criminal Penalties for the Theft of Newspapers Act of 2014. The legislation would make it “unlawful for a person to knowingly or willingly obtain or exert unauthorized control over newspapers with the intent to prevent another person from reading the newspapers.”

The bill calls for a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 or both for someone convicted of violating the proposed law.

The bill is currently pending before the Council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). It would cover all of the more than a dozen free distribution newspapers in the city.

“Newspaper publishers have reported an ongoing problem of vandalism and theft of all of the newspapers from newspaper distribution boxes,” Gray said in a letter to the Council. “I urge the Council to take prompt and favorable action on this legislation.”

28
May
2014

Music in the Night

Hilton Hotels presented a “Music in the Night” cabaret with local talent at Town Danceboutique on Monday. (Washington Blade photos by Damien Salas) Music in the Night 

05
Jun
2014

Pride Parade Party

The Washington Blade and Whitman-Walker Health co-hosted a post-parade party at the end of the Capital Pride Parade Route. Guests included the NFL’s Chris Kluwe and several local politicians. The Pride Parade Party was sponsored by HAILO, DC Brau, Devil’s Backbone, Vino Lovers, Whitman-Walker Health, Flowers on Fourteenth, Miss Pixies and Chipotle. (Washington Blade photos by Damien Salas) Pride Parade 

09
Jun
2014

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 

03
Jan
2014


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 

01
Mar
2014

Pride celebration at Fort Meade

Kevin Naff, National Press Club, gay news, Washington Blade

Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Defense Media Activity, which provides news and information on behalf of the Defense Department to service members around the world, held its first-ever Pride month commemoration on Tuesday.

Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff was the featured speaker at the event, held at the Fort Meade Army installation in suburban Maryland, where the DMA is located. In his hour-long remarks, Naff touched on an array of LGBT-related topics, including the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the continuing ban on openly transgender service members.

About 75 civilian staffers and uniformed service members attended the event, which was held in a state-of-the-art DMA television studio and recorded for a future broadcast on YouTube. Naff was introduced by Kenji Mundy, the wife of a retired service member who shared her story of supporting her spouse from the closet as she served in Iraq. Mundy said she often turned to the Blade for news and information about DADT and other issues over the years.

“It was an honor to speak at Fort Meade,” Naff said after the event. “I never imagined 12 years ago when I started at the Blade that within a decade the U.S. military would be inviting openly gay speakers to its bases to celebrate Pride month.”

Defense Media Activity presents information and entertainment across a variety of platforms, including radio, TV, Internet, print and social media to millions of U.S. forces around the world.

25
Jun
2014

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.”

Visit lgbtsinthenews.com for more information.

07
Mar
2014

Blade names new sales manager

Stephen Rutgers, gay news, Washington Blade

Stephen Rutgers takes over as Blade sales manager July 1. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade announced today the promotion of Stephen Rutgers to the position of sales manager.

Rutgers has been with the company for two and a half years. He previously managed the Blade’s events and marketing efforts. Effective July 1, he adds management of the Blade’s sales force to his duties.

“Stephen is hard-working, smart and knows the D.C. market well,” said Blade publisher Lynne Brown. “We are well positioned for continued growth with him at the helm of our sales operation.”

Rutgers will immediately focus on several upcoming special events. The Blade’s second annual Sports Issue will be published Aug. 22, followed by the annual Fall Arts Preview in early September. October brings two big events: a reception celebrating the Blade’s 45th anniversary and the popular Best of Gay DC party and special issue at the end of the month.

“I’m excited to get started in this new role,” Rutgers said. “It brings together my interests in sales, management and a love for D.C.”

Stephen has a background in marketing and operations. He holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from The George Washington University School of Business. He has experience in advertising, sports marketing and event planning. He is also involved locally with an array of community events, including the annual 17th Street Festival.

30
Jun
2014

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.

02
Apr
2014