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washingtonblade.com - volume 42, issue 38 - september 23, 2011

washingtonblade.com - volume 42, issue 38 - september 23, 2011

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Published by: Washington Blade Newspaper on Sep 22, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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After 18 years, service membersare finally ‘part of the family’
By CHRIS JOHNSONcjohnson@washblade.com
Gay and lesbian service members are beginningto make their sexual orientation known now that the18-year-old law prohibiting open service known as “Don’tAsk, Don’t Tell” has finally been lifted from the books.Members of OutServe, an organization of active dutyLGBT military service members, touted the importanceof the change during a news conference Tuesday at theHuman Rights Campaign headquarters in D.C.1st Lt. Josh Seefried, a New Jersey-based financedirector for the Air Force and OutServe’s co-founderand co-director, said being able to take part fully in themilitary family was particularly important to him.“That’s what the military brags about so much is havingthat aspect of being part of the family, being part of theteam,” Seefried said. “I almost resented the Air Force fornot giving me that opportunity to be part of that team,not being able to bring someone to an event. Now I feellike I can go back to work and I can be part of that teamnow and actually be honest.”Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Seefried had gone bythe alias J.D. Smith to avoid being expelled from militaryas he headed his 4,300-member LGBT organization.Now that the gay ban has been lifted, he’s free to bepublic with his real name as a gay airman.Lt. Cmdr. Zac Matthews, a Coast Guard helicopterpilot who’s served on both U.S. coasts as well as the
Celebrating gay sex
Activist says male sexualityshould be embraced in HIV fight
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.lchibbaro@washblade.com
In his role as president and CEO of the NationalAssociation of People with AIDS, Frank OldhamJr. is upfront about where he stands on the AIDSepidemic.He’s a 63-year-old gay man who has lived withHIV for more than 20 years. He has dedicated muchof his career to fighting AIDS, both in the privatesector and as a high-level official in city AIDSagencies in New York, Chicago and D.C. He servedfrom 1993-1994 as chief of D.C.’s Agency for HIV/AIDS.His driving ambition is to help bring about theeradication of AIDS for everyone, with a short-termgoal of lowering the HIV infection rate in the UnitedStates over the next several years.But Oldham says his efforts in organizing aseries of D.C.-based events next week for theNAPWA-sponsored National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Sept. 27 brings an oftenoverlooked fact into clear view: Gay men accountfor more than 50 percent of the people with HIV inthe United States and represent the only group atrisk for HIV in the country that still has increasingnumbers of new infections each year.In an interview this week, Oldham presented theBlade with two fliers NAPWA is using to promoteNational Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Bothfeature photos of attractive, bare-chested youngmen, one black and one white.
Gay troops come outafter ‘Don’t Ask’ expires
Gay and lesbian service members came out publicly this week after repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was finalized. From left,
Melissa Ferrick playsthe Birchmere whilePhaseFest returns witha diverse lineup.
Vote now for your faves in dining,nightlife and more in our annual Best Of Gay DC contest.
Local activists dividedover decision to nameLeroy Thorpe to post
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.lchibbaro@washblade.com
 Gay activists had mixed views this weekover a decision by Mayor Vincent Gray toappoint a controversial civic leader who inpast years referred to gays as “faggots”to a mayoral advisory committee thatlooks at city programs to curtail juveniledelinquency.Gray last week named Leroy Thorpe,a licensed social worker and counselorwith the D.C. Department of YouthRehabilitation Services and a longtime civicactivist in the city’s Shaw neighborhood,to the mayor’s Juvenile Justice AdvisoryGroup. The unpaid advisory panel assiststhe mayor and DYRS, among other things,on how to use federal funds to strengthenthe city’s juvenile justice system.D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward2), a longtime supporter of LGBT rights,sent Gray a letter strongly recommendingThorpe for the appointment.Evans could not be immediatelyreached for comment.And Ron Collins, Gray’s gay directorof the Mayor’s Office of Boards andCommissions, said he vetted Thorpe forthe appointment and recommendedthat the mayor name him to the advisorypanel. Collins said Thorpe’s backgroundand experience on juvenile justice issuesshowed him to be qualified for the post.“I’ve known Leroy Thorpe for a numberof years and I really don’t feel that he is abigot toward any community,” Collins toldthe Blade.Thorpe told the Blade in a phonemessage on Monday that he prefers notto discuss things he said in the past butsaid he’s changed his views and treats allpeople with respect.“These days, you know, I got older, gotwiser,” he said. “And I don’t act like I didbefore, back in the time when…I spokewithout thinking. Everybody deserves respectand I don’t care who or what you are.”Martin Moulton, president of theConvention Center CommunityAssociation, a Shaw-based group thathas long been at odds with Thorpe, saysThorpe’s “history of bigotry” makes himunsuitable for a mayoral appointment.In a series of e-mails sent to publicofficials and gay activists, Moulton pointsto statements Thorpe has made about gayson at least two occasions over the past 20years. One took place in 1991, when Thorpeshouted through a bullhorn at a pollingstation on Election Day that gay City Councilcandidate Jim Zais was a “faggot” and Shawvoters should not support him.Zais, who died of AIDS in 1994, lost theelection to Evans by a close margin. At thetime, Evans and his supporters disavowedThorpe’s characterization of Zais, sayinghe wasn’t representing Evans or the Evanscampaign.Moulton noted that Thorpe severalyears ago called gay D.C. Council memberDavid Catania (I-At-Large) an anti-gayname during a City Council hearing.According to Moulton, Gray violated apromise he made to the Gay and LesbianActivists Alliance on a GLAA questionnaireduring last year’s mayoral election campaign,when Gray said he would “decline to honorindividuals or organizations that promoteany sort of bigotry.”
Cause of death was‘impact head trauma’
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.lchibbaro@washblade.com
The D.C. Medical Examiner disclosedon Tuesday that gay engineer GauravGopalan, who was found dead Sept. 10on a sidewalk in Columbia Heights at 5:20a.m., died of blunt force trauma to thehead and that the death has been ruleda homicide.News that Gopalan’s death was due toan act of violence came after D.C. policeinitially announced there were no obvioussigns of injuries to Gopalan’s body and thata final determination on the death wouldhave to wait for results of toxicological tests.Gopalan, a native of India, was founddead on the 2600 block of 11th Street,N.W., in a location less than two blocksfrom where he lived. He was dressed inwomen’s clothes with some facial makeup,prompting police to initially describe himas a transgender woman.With no identification on him, it tookpolice three days to track down his identityfollowing the release of a post mortem phototaken by the Medical Examiner’s office.It could not be immediately determinedwhy the Medical Examiner’s office didn’tdisclose last week its findings released todaythat Gopalan suffered a “subarachnoidhemorrhage,” or internal head bleeding,due to “blunt impact head trauma.”Beverly Fields, a spokesperson for theMedical Examiner’s Office, said the latestfindings were based on the autopsyconducted last week.Bob Shaeffer, Gopalan’s partner, toldthe Blade Monday that he didn’t knowwhere Gopalan had been on the nightbefore his death but said police told himthey obtained video footage of Gopalannear the corner of Florida Avenue and UStreet, N.W. The gay nightclub Town andthe gay sports bar Nellie’s are located inthat area.Police last week said they had contactedthe management of several gay clubs inthe city to ask whether Gopalan had beenseen in the clubs in the hours prior to hisdeath. At a news conference last week,Homicide Branch Capt. Michael Farish saidrepresentatives of the clubs weren’t certainwhether Gopalan had visited the clubs.Gopalan received a doctorate degree inaeronautical engineering at the Universityof Maryland and later worked with theuniversity on research projects relatedto sound suppression of helicopter rotorblades, a technology deemed importantfor U.S. military applications.Officials with the University of Maryland’sschool of engineering and D.C.’s SouthAsian LGBT group Khush D.C., to whichGopalan had ties, this week continued tomourn Gopalan’s death.He also served as president of theFred Schmitz Group, an aeronauticalengineering consulting firm, which heoperated out of the home that he andShaeffer shared in Columbia Heights.Rehan Rizvi, a member of Khush D.C.,said Gopalan attended a number of thegroup’s events during the past few years.Rizvi said Khush D.C. planned tocoordinate a possible memorial service forGopalan with the University of Maryland’sengineering school, which was expectedto host a memorial at the campus.People who knew Gopalan said he alsoserved as an assistant director and stagemanager for Shakespeare plays producedby a the WSC Avant Bard theater groupformerly known as the WashingtonShakespeare Company.The ruling of his death as a homicideis certain to further alarm LGBT activists.Gopalan’s death followed shootings orthe attempted shooting of at least fivetransgender women since July. One of the women, Lashai Mclean, 23, was shotto death on July 20 on the 6100 block of Dix Street, N.E.Police have said they have no evidenceso far to indicate any of the incidents arelinked to the same perpetrator.
Gay engineer’s death ruled a homicide
’s decision to appoint acontroversial civic leader to a mayoral advisorycommittee has rankled some.
Gray board appointee called gays ‘faggots’
SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 • 03

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