BHT awards $75,000 in grants
Brother, Help Thyself, a local organization that supports LGBT and HIV/AIDS work, awarded about $75,000 in grants to 31 area nonproﬁts last weekend at a reception held at Ziegfelds/Secrets nightclub.Among the grant recipients were: AIDS Action Baltimore, the DC Center’s HIV Working Group, DC Rape Crisis Center, Equality Maryland Foundation, Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Helping Our Brothers and Sisters, HIPS, Latino GLBT History Project, Rainbow History Project, SMYAL and the Wanda Alston Foundation. “What really makes this annual event so wonderful, on top of the awarding of the actual checks, is the opportunity for our grantees to network and connect,” said BHT President Jim Slattery. “They all do such great work and their expertise and best practices are vital to our community and each other.”In addition to the grants, BHT presented four annual awards. The Billy Collison Award, BHT’s underdog award, was given to Baltimore’s Hope Springs. The George Dodson Business award went to GayRVA.com. The Founders Award, given to an organization doing great work with little funding, went to Casa Ruby LGBT Community Center. And the Anthony J. Bachrach Award, which recognizes an individual doing outstanding work on behalf of the community, was presented to David Mariner, executive director of the DC Center.
Baltimore’s GLCCB moving to Waxter Center
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) announced it is ﬁnalizing details to move its administrative ofﬁces and program meeting space to the third ﬂoor of the Waxter Center building (1000 Cathedral St.) in the Mount Vernon neighborhood.“We’re overjoyed to ﬁnally announce this exciting next step of the GLCCB,” said Matt Thorn, the GLCCB’s executive director. “The Waxter Center is a perfect ﬁt for the needs of our organization and the communities we serve.”The deal is expected to be completed on Feb. 5.The GLCCB’s regularly scheduled program meetings will remain at the 241 W. Chase building until Feb. 9. Beginning Feb. 10, meetings will take place at the Waxter Center. Updates on directions to the new location, access to the building and meeting room numbers will be updated on GLCCB’s website (GLCCB.org) and Facebook page (Facebook.com/glccb).
Gay activist Robert Coggin dies at 62
Robert Mitchell Coggin, a longtime D.C.-area resident who played a key role in helping to pass a gay rights law in Montgomery County, Md., in 1984, died Jan. 19 from complications associated with Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy. He was 62.His friends Tanner Wray and Karl Debus-Lopez said Coggin became active in gay rights activities in 1972 when he co-founded the ﬁrst gay student group, the Gay Student Union, at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1976. Wray and Debus-Lopez said Coggin became the founder of the Suburban Maryland Lesbian and Gay Alliance in Montgomery County in 1982 after becoming a resident of the county.“He was a leader in the ﬁght to have Montgomery County, Md., pass a non-discrimination law that includes gays and lesbians in 1984,” the two said. “Over the years, Robert continued to be active with numerous gay and lesbian rights groups in their efforts to move forward on civil rights legislation.”Coggin, who lived in Silver Spring, Md., was born in Danville, Va. He worked for many years for the National Institutes of Health in Maryland as an administrative assistant, Wray and Debus-Lopez said.“During his time at NIH, Robert received many awards for his outstanding performance,” the two said. “Despite the fact that he had a chronic and degenerative illness, Robert’s outlook on life was always positive,” they said. “He enjoyed movies, theater, dinners out with friends, and he was a pioneering crusader in the ﬁght for gay rights in the mid-Atlantic region.”Through his estate, Coggin made arrangements to establish a scholarship fund for LGBT students at the University of Virginia, according to Wray and Debus-Lopez.He is predeceased by his parents, Belva Mitchell Coggin and Henry Ernest Coggin, and a brother, William Henry Coggin. He is survived by numerous cousins and friends, including Debus-Lopez and Wray and his former partner Don Crisostomo.A memorial service is being planned for the near future. Donations can be made to the University of Virginia Fund of Charlottesville, Va., under the name Robert Coggin, and to the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Tucson, Ariz.
LOU CHIBBARO JR.
Witeck mulls run for Congress
Bob Witeck, president and founder of the public relations ﬁrm Witeck Communications and a longtime LGBT rights advocate, says he’s thinking about running for the U.S. House seat in Northern Virginia currently held by Democratic Rep. James Moran, who’s retiring.“I would say I’m talking to some folks about the idea,” Witeck told the Blade on Monday. “I would say my chances of doing it are not great but it’s something I want to consider before I would say absolutely not.”Witeck said friends and supporters approached him about running and offered to help raise money for his campaign should he choose to enter the race.As many as a dozen or more Democrats are considering or have announced plans to run for the seat in the 8th congressional district in the Democratic primary in June. The winner of the primary is strongly favored to win the November general election in the heavily Democratic district.Among those expressing interest in running is gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), whose Senate district includes most of the sections of Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax County that make up the 8th congressional district.Jay Fisette, chair of the Arlington County Board who’s gay, announced last week he isn’t running for Moran’s seat following speculation that he might become a candidate.“I’m a native of the 8th District,” Witeck said. “I grew up there. It’s my hometown and a community I obviously care about.”He said one factor making the race attractive to him is the idea of adding to the ranks of openly LGBT people in Congress.“So there’s something I would want to give some serious thought to,” he said. “I think whoever is the nominee is going to be a very good one because we have a ﬁeld of very strong people. So to me, getting behind someone is also very likely but at the same time I don’t want to rule it out yet.Witeck noted that because so many people are likely to compete for the seat in the primary, garnering a plurality rather than an absolute majority of the vote would be sufﬁcient to win the race.“I think it means that individuals who may not be well known politically will have an opportunity to create a base,” he said.Among those who have announced they are running for the congressional seat are Don Beyer, the Virginia businessman and former lieutenant governor; Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), who resigned from her post as chair of the Virginia Democratic Party to make way to run for the congressional seat; Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax); Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington); and businessman Bruce Shuttleworth, who lost to Moran in the 2012 Democratic primary.All have records of support for LGBT rights.
LOU CHIBBARO JR.
02 • JANUARY 31, 2014 LOCAL NEWS
says he’s thinking about running for the U.S. House seat in Northern Virginia currently held by Democratic Rep. James Moran, who’s retiring.
WASHINGTON BLADE FILE PHOTO