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Is NFL ready for openly gay player?
Mixed reactions to Michael Sam’s coming out announcement
By MICHAEL K. LAVERS University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam is poised to become the country’s first openly gay professional football player after he came out on Feb. 9. Sam, 24, discussed his sexual orientation in a series of interviews with the New York Times and ESPN. The defensive linebacker is a potential mid-round pick in the National Football League draft that will take place in May. “I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” Sam told the New York Times. “I just want to own my truth.” The New York Times reported Sam, who grew up in Hitchcock, Texas, came out to his teammates at the University of Missouri last August during a teambuilding exercise. He was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year after his team ended the season with a 12-2 record that included a win in the Cotton Bowl. Sam is also an All-American. exclusively reported that Howard Bragman, a gay Hollywood publicist, helped coordinate Sam’s coming out that included the
Missouri defensive lineman MICHAEL SAM has come out as gay and could become the NFL’s first out player.


Poverty in the LGBT community
Studies show image of ‘gay affluence’ is a myth
EDITOR’S NOTE: This week, the Blade kicks off a special yearlong focus on poverty in the LGBT community. The occasional series will examine the problem with special reports from D.C. and around the country. To share your ideas or personal story, visit us on Facebook or email

As the 50th anniversary of the U.S. war on poverty launched by President Lyndon

B. Johnson in 1964 is commemorated this year, LGBT advocates are pointing to little noticed studies showing that the rate of poverty in the LGBT community is higher than that of the general population. In a 2013 report analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other data measuring poverty in the United States, the Williams Institute, a research arm at the University of California Law School in Los Angeles that specializes in LGBT issues, concludes that rates of poverty are higher than the general population among gay men and lesbians between the ages of 18-44 and gay men and

lesbians living alone. The report shows that couples — both gay and straight — tend to have a lower rate of poverty than single people and the population as a whole. But it found that the poverty rate for lesbian couples is higher than that of gay male couples and opposite-sex couples and the poverty rate of same-sex African-American couples is higher than it is for opposite-sex AfricanAmerican couples. Among the report’s findings that surprised LGBT activists were data showing that bisexual men and women had poverty rates of 25.9 percent and

29.4 percent respectively – higher than gay men (20.5 percent) and lesbians (22.7 percent). The report says the same set of data show that heterosexual men had a poverty rate of 15.3 percent compared to a rate of 21.1 percent for heterosexual women. “The LGB poverty data help to debunk the persistent stereotype of the affluent gay man or lesbian,” the Williams Institute report says. “Instead, the poverty data are consistent with the view that LGB people

Marcus Brandon seeks to become first out black man in Congress.

Russian police arrest LGBT activists as Winter Games debut.


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D.C. police are investigating the Feb. 5 burning of a banner outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center.

Pro-LGBT banner burned at D.C. church
D.C. police are investigating the burning of a banner last week outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street, N.W., as a possible anti-LGBT hate crime. Rev. Charles Parker, senior pastor of three LGBT supportive United Methodist churches in D.C., including St. Luke’s, said in a Feb. 6 statement posted on the church website that the incident appeared to be related to the heated debate within the Methodist church over same-sex marriage. Church spokesperson Jeff Clouser told the Blade on Monday that St. Luke’s employees discovered last Tuesday, Feb. 4, that the banner had been burned but weren’t sure exactly when it happened. “I visited our St. Luke’s campus yesterday to find that someone had burned — yes, burned — our ‘Stop the Trials’ banner calling for a stop to church trials of clergy officiating at same-gender weddings,” Parker wrote in his statement. He was referring to a banner currently being displayed by LGBT supportive Methodist churches in D.C. and other cities that consists of a rainbow flag bearing the words, “Stop the Trials.” The message refers to a decision by church leaders to put on trial and defrock pastors who defy Methodist Church rules that prohibit its pastors from performing same-sex marriages. “I am clear in my own wrestling with scripture, tradition, reason, and experience that the current position of our church is wrong,” Parker said in his statement. “I am also clear that other colleagues of good will and integrity have likewise wrestled with the issue and come to a different conclusion,” he said. “What I would like to ask is, ‘can we respect each other enough to allow each of us to act in accordance with our conscience?’” D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said the incident occurred on Feb. 4 and was reported to police on Feb. 5. She said police have classified it as a “destruction of property-hate bias incident.” LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Judge Robert E. Morin’s decision reversed an earlier ruling that Montgomery was not competent to stand trial. He said his latest ruling was based on the findings of a mental competency exam conducted at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the fourth such examination given to Montgomery since the time of his arrest two weeks after Deoni Jones’ murder. Morin scheduled the trial to begin on Oct. 6. The City Council members participating in the Deoni Jones memorial rally on Saturday were David Catania (I-At Large), David Grosso (I-At-Large), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Each of them joined Gray in calling for continued efforts to secure the full rights and dignity of trans people by working hard to overcome hate and prejudice. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Council approves homeless youth, Annie’s street-naming bills
The D.C. City Council on Feb. 4 voted unanimously to give final approval to separate bills calling for services to homeless LGBT youth and for naming a street near Dupont Circle after Annie Kaylor, the beloved bartender and manager of Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse who died last July at the age of 86. Mayor Vincent Gray has said he would sign both bills – the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Amendment Act of 2013 and the Annie’s Way Designation Act of 2013. Gray introduced the Annie’s bill. The homeless youth measure, among other things, allocates city funds for expanding existing homeless facilities, including shelters, to include additional beds for “youth who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.” It also requires service providers to put in place “best practices for the culturally competent care of homeless youth” who identify as LGBT or questioning. The Annie’s bill calls for naming a one-block section of Church Street, N.W., between 17th Street and Stead Park, as “Annie’s Way.” Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse first opened on that block more than 40 years ago and became a favorite eatery and gathering place for members of the LGBT community before moving to its current location two blocks away at 1609 17th St., N.W. Kaylor and her family members who owned and operated the restaurant became longtime supporters of the LGBT community and participated in the city’s annual LGBT Pride festivities. Both bills are expected to take effect in May following the requirement under the city’s charter that all city-approved legislation undergo a review by Congress. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Norton, Cheh win Stein endorsement
The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political organization, voted unanimously on Tuesday night to endorse the re-election races of D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3). The club also voted unanimously to endorse Democrat Franklin Garcia in his race for the city’s shadow U.S. House seat. All three are running unopposed in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary. Norton and Cheh are longtime supporters of the LGBT community. Norton faces opposition in the November general election from Republican, Statehood-Green Party, and Libertarian Party candidates but is considered the strong favorite to win the election. Cheh and Garcia are being challenged in the general election by Libertarian Party candidates. Cheh is viewed as the odds-on favorite to beat lesser-known Libertarian Ryan Sabot. Garcia, a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee and an LGBT rights supporter, is being challenged in November by gay Libertarian candidate Martin Moulton, who is expected to reach out for support in the LGBT community. The Stein Club has scheduled an endorsement meeting and forum for City Council candidates running in the Democratic Primary for 7 p.m., Feb. 26, at the Unity Church of Washington at 1225 R St., N.W. The club will hold a mayoral candidates forum at 7 p.m. on March 6 at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington at 474 Ridge St., N.W. Stein Club Vice President Martin Garcia said that depending on time constraints, the club would listen to candidates running for the city’s shadow U.S. Senate seat and vote on an endorsement in that race either during the mayoral forum on March 6 or during the club’s regular meeting the following week on March 10. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

City officials honor slain trans woman
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and four members of the City Council joined more than 100 people Saturday for the second annual memorial rally for slain transgender woman Deoni JaParker Jones. Jones’ family members organized the event at the parish hall of St. Luke Roman Catholic Church at 4925 E. Capitol St., S.E., less than two blocks from a bus stop where Jones was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2012, in a development that shocked the city’s LGBT community. Judean Jones and Alvin Bethea, Deoni Jones’ mother and stepfather, said they have sought to channel their pain and sadness over the loss of their daughter into a positive effort to change hearts and minds and build understanding and support for trans people and the LGBT community. “God chose to take Deoni,” Bethea told the gathering. “That’s the way we look at it. And we continue to see to it that transgender people get a fair shot at life and a fair shot at jobs,” he said. Bethea announced the launching of the Deoni Jones Foundation, which he said his family and supporters plan to use to help strengthen efforts to combat anti-LGBT violence. Saturday’s memorial gathering took place one day after a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled that Gary Niles Montgomery, 57, the D.C. man charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with Deoni Jones’ death, is mentally competent to stand trial.


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Police gay liaison unit transferred to patrol duty
Critics say action decreases effectiveness of GLLU
By LOU CHIBBARO JR. A decision by D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier to indefinitely reassign members of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit to street patrol duties in the Sixth and Seventh Police Districts is hindering their ability to respond to LGBT-related calls throughout the city, according to sources familiar with the Metropolitan Police Department. A statement released on behalf of Lanier by MPD spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump disputes this claim, saying the GLLU and at least one other specialized unit whose officers have also been detailed to other assignments “are still operational and doing what they have done in the past” to serve the LGBT and other communities. But the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the GLLU’s four active officers previously assigned to the GLLU headquarters office in Dupont Circle have most recently been assigned to patrol a single location deemed a high-crime area – the 1500 block of Alabama Avenue, S.E. – and must obtain permission to answer a GLLU call outside that location. “That permission is not always granted,” said one of the sources. The GLLU and the three other specialized units serving the Latino, AsianPacific Islander, and deaf and hard of hearing communities routinely have been temporarily detailed to street patrol and other assignments since former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey created the units in the 1990s. The latest change, believed to have been initiated by Assistant Chief Diane Groomes, who heads the department’s patrol division, is different than past detail assignments because it has no known termination date and appears to be an indefinite reassignment for the units, the sources said. One of the sources said the department also rearranged the work shifts for members of all four liaison units. Prior to these changes, the four units collectively had officers on duty seven days a week, 24 hours a day except for one hour, the source said. Now, according to the source, no core liaison officer is on duty during a period from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. every day. “Specific units such as the GLLU and the Asian Liaison Unit have been deployed to the Sixth and Seventh Police District over the last several weeks to enhance community outreach in areas of the city that have seen a


STEVE KIOSK, 51 Stephen R. Kiosk died unexpectedly on Jan. 31 according to his former partner Peter Lane. He was 51. Cause of death had not been determined for the former Chicago resident, also formerly of Takoma Park, Md., Lane said. Kiosk was born June 16, 1962 in Zion, Ill. He provided many years of service to those affected by HIV/AIDS in the Washington area. In the early 1990s, he was resident manager of the McKinney House for women and children, and was later associate director of HIV Testing and Counseling at Whitman-Walker Health. Kiosk also served as associate director of Miriam’s House (now N Street Village) for two years. He enjoyed singing and performed with the Washington Opera chorus in five operas. In response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Kiosk and a friend organized a concert; he also used his singing to support fundraising efforts for local nonprofit organizations. He is survived by his loving friend and former partner of 18 years, Peter Lane; many friends throughout the Washington area; family members in Wisconsin and Illinois; and his special canine Lucy. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his beloved cat, Tippi. A memorial Mass will be held 10 a.m. March 1 at St. Peter Church (557 Lake St. Antioch, Ill.). A local memorial gathering is being planned. JOEY DiGUGLIELMO

D.C. Police Chief CATHY LANIER has reassigned members of the department’s GLLU to street patrol duties.


high demand and call volume from specific communities represented by the Liaison Division,” Crump said in her statement. “Even though the officers were given specific areas to patrol and provide community outreach in, the officers are still available to respond to any area of the city to assist when calls for service come in as well as follow up with victims as they have in the past,” Crump said. She noted in her statement to the Blade that the latest change came in response to a review of last year’s calls for service to the GLLU. She said a “large volume” of calls came from the Sixth and Seventh Districts and that many of the calls were for incidents of domestic violence. “Domestic/family violence is a huge concern, and the number of domestic/family violence crimes and incidents that are taking place in the Sixth and Seventh Police Districts involving members of the LGBT community is something that urgently needs to be addressed by the members of the GLLU and Special Liaison Division,” Crump said. The Seventh District is located in the far Southeast section of the city east of the Anacostia River. The Sixth District consists of a section of far Southeast and part of far Northeast D.C. The sources familiar with the GLLU who spoke to the Blade said GLLU officers are committed to responding to domestic violence calls and doing all they can to assist victims of domestic violence. But two of the sources said deploying the GLLU’s four currently active core officers to a single block on Alabama Avenue would do little to help curtail domestic violence.

JOSEPH F. VIVALO, JR., 53 Joseph F. “Joe” Vivalo, Jr., 53, a former resident of Washington and Arlington who was active in political and AIDS charity fundraising and events management, died in Key West, Fla., on Feb. 5. His death was from suicide, according to Terry Michael, with whom Vivalo shared an apartment on Capitol Hill in 1986-87 and again in 1992-93. Vivalo, who was gay, worked as a waiter at Mr. Henry’s restaurant, Michael said, after moving to the District from Portland, Ore., in July 1986. Living in New York from 1988-92, he returned to Washington in November 1992, where he resided again on Capitol Hill and later in the Logan Circle area, before settling in Arlington. At the time of his death, Vivalo had been living and working at a guesthouse in Key West. A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Vivalo was a director of the Pallotta TeamWorks AIDS Ride in Washington in the late 1990s and was director of the Whitman-Walker Health AIDS Walk in 2000, when he also produced a fundraising concert for Whitman-Walker at the Kennedy Center, featuring singer Patti LaBelle. He worked in several AIDS walks in Manhattan in the late 1980s. Specializing in arts and entertainment fundraising, Vivalo was fundraising director for former U.S. Rep. and 1984 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, in her unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate in New York in 1992. He had served in the Mondale-Ferraro presidential campaign in Portland, Ore., in 1984, as a young field worker. He worked on the Clinton-Gore Inaugural Committee in Washington in 1992. And he was on the facilities management staff of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. in 2012. For a time, he ran a bike restoration business in Arlington. Born Dec. 30, 1960 in Youngstown, Vivalo was a son of the late Joseph Vivalo and Marie Ann “Dolly” Vivalo, who survives, along with siblings Debbie, Jeff, John, Katie, Jacqueline, Michael and Kimberly. He is also survived by friends in the Washington area, including Walter Quetsch of Capitol Hill, at whose Fire Island cottage Vivalo was a frequent guest during the past two decades, and Washington attorney Jim Prunty, whom Vivalo met during his years in Portland. Vivalo attended Ohio University, where he earned a degree in political communication. He was an active swimmer in high school and college. He had a passion for dance music and was a friend of the late San Francisco disco icon Sylvester James, “who visited Joe at our apartment on Capitol Hill in late 1987,” Michael said, noting that “Sylvester’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ and ‘You Are My Friend’ tracks became Joe’s signature songs.” A memorial service for Vivalo was held in Youngstown Feb. 8. JOEY DiGUGLIELMO


FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 07 08 • FEBRUARY 14, 2014 NATIONAL NEWS

Kentucky must recognize gay marriages
Judge rules anti-gay amendment unconstitutional
By MICHAEL K. LAVERS A federal judge on Wednesday ruled Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions. Judge John G. Heyburn II of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky said the Bluegrass State’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman is also unconstitutional. “The court concluded that Kentucky’s denial of recognition for valid same-sex marriages violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, even under the most deferential standard of review,” wrote Heyburn in his 23-page ruling. “Accordingly, Kentucky’s statutes and constitutional amendment that mandate this denial are unconstitutional.” Four gay and lesbian couples that legally married outside Kentucky filed the lawsuit seeking marriage rights in their state. Greg Bourke and Michael Deleon, a Louisville couple that has been together for 31 years and are raising two teenaged children, exchanged vows in Canada in 2004. Jimmy Meade and Luther Barlowe of Bardstown, who have been together for 44 years, tied the knot in Iowa in 2009. Randell Johnson and Paul Campion of Louisville, who have been together for 22 years and have four children, married in California in 2008. Kimberly Franklin and Tamera Boyd exchanged vows in Connecticut in 2010. Kentucky voters in 2004 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. “Usually, as here, the tradition behind the challenged law began at a time when most people did not fully appreciate, much less articulate, the individual rights in question,” said Heyburn, who frequently refers to the landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Virginia’s interracial marriage ban in his decision. “For years, many states had a tradition of segregation and even articulated reasons why it created a better, more stable society. Similarly, many states deprived women of their equal rights under the law, believing this to properly preserve our traditions.” Heyburn, who then-President George H.W. Bush appointed to the federal bench in 1992, also cited last June’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. “The body of constitutional jurisprudence that serves as its foundation has evolved gradually over the past 47 years,” wrote Heyburn. Eighteen states and D.C. have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. A federal judge last month ruled Oklahoma’s gay nuptials ban is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court less than two weeks earlier blocked any future same-sex marriages from taking place in Utah pending the outcome of an appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby’s December ruling that struck down the Beehive State’s gay nuptials ban. A federal judge in Norfolk, Va., is expected to issue her ruling shortly in a lawsuit that challenges Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. “Today a Republican-appointed federal judge in Kentucky held – as did judges in Utah and Oklahoma weeks ago and as did the U.S. Supreme Court last year – that there is simply not legitimate justification for denying equal protection to same-sex couples, echoing the majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry, including a growing number of conservatives,” said Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson. The Family Foundation of Kentucky, which filed an amicus brief in support of the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban, criticized Heyburn’s decision. “Legislating same-sex marriage from the bench is not the will of the people,” said the group on its Twitter page. Heyburn issued his ruling on the same day a federal judge in San Antonio heard oral arguments in a case that challenges Texas’s marriage amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Missouri on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in state court on behalf of eight same-sex couples seeking recognition of their marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions. The Forum for Equality Louisiana on the same day filed an identical lawsuit in a federal court in New Orleans on behalf of four gay and lesbian couples that legally married outside the state. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday announced the Justice Department will now recognize same-sex marriages in civil and criminal cases and extend full benefits to gay spouses of police officers and other public safety personnel killed while on duty. This new policy applies to the 32 states that currently do not recognize same-sex marriages.

Mormons make case for marriage bans
LDS Church joins religious groups in legal filing before Tenth Circuit
By CHRIS JOHNSON The Mormon Church joined other major Christian groups on Monday in filing a legal brief supporting bans on samesex marriage in Utah and Oklahoma, although they rely on a study that authors say shouldn’t be used as evidence against same-sex marriage. The 53-page document urges the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold bans on same-sex marriage on the argument that children are better off when raised by opposite-sex parents. “Every child has a father and a mother,” the brief states. “Procreation within a stable male-female marriage gives a child a uniquely full human context that accounts for both the child’s biology and the deeper intentions and commitments of the child’s parents. The male-female ideal in marriage and parenting provides children security and other irreplaceable benefits.” To bolster this argument, the brief on page 24 relies on a 2002 study from Trends, reiterated that objection Tuesday in an email to the Washington Blade. “Child Trends has been diligent in noting that it is inaccurate to make conclusions about the well-being of children being raised in same-sex households based on our study on heterosexual households,” Walter said. “As noted, this was not part of the study. In fact, we made this case in parliamentary hearings on this issue in Ireland when we were alerted that our information was being misrepresented.” The study was also cited in the legal brief that the state of Utah filed last week before the Tenth Circuit in favor of its ban on samesex marriage. The research also comes up in at least one other friend-of-the-court brief that was signed by social scientists and Mark Regenrus, who produced a discredited study against same-sex parenting. Major psychological and family groups have disputed the notion that gay parents aren’t as fit as straight parents in raising children. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out in support of samesex marriage. Walter encouraged experts on the issue to research the issue of same-sex parenting because of the prevalence of LGBT families. “We do not have data on children in same-sex families but hope research will be done in this area given the significant number of gay and lesbian families raising children,” Walter said. The brief was filed in two separate cases related to same-sex marriage: one is the case filed against Utah’s ban, known as Kitchen v. Herbert, the other is the case filed against Oklahoma’s ban, known as Bishop v. Smith. In addition to the LDS Church, other groups listed on the filing are the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; National Association of Evangelicals; the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The LDS Church is joining others in filing the brief despite an earlier media report from local Salt Lake City affiliate FOX 13 saying the church wouldn’t issue a filing in the case. The church didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on why it was participating in filing despite this report. Additionally, the brief cautions the court against striking down marriage bans on the basis that they adhere to the traditional concerns of morality, suggesting they should be upheld on the basis of freedom of religion.

The Mormon Church filed a brief before the Tenth Circuit in opposition to same-sex marriage.

the D.C.-based non-profit Child Trends, titled “Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children and What Can We Do About It?” The study makes no explicit reference to same-sex marriage. But anti-gay groups have cited this study before in separate briefs filed before the Supreme Court last year in favor of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act — much to the objection of its authors who say their research says nothing about same-sex marriage. Frank Walter, a spokesperson for Child NEWS FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 09

Brandon seeks to become first out black congressman
Distinction would be ‘significant’ for black, LGBT people
By CHRIS JOHNSON Marcus Brandon has a chance to make history. If he wins his bid to represent North Carolina’s 12th congressional district in the U.S. House, he could become the first openly gay black person elected to Congress. Brandon, 39, says that distinction would be “really significant” because black people within the LGBT community tend to suffer most in terms of discrimination, but he asks potential supporters to look at his full body of work as the reason to back his candidacy. “I tell people don’t vote for me because I’m gay, [but] because I passed more bills than anybody in the race,” Brandon said. “And so, we’re about effectiveness. So, for people to see my work, it really makes it a much more powerful conversation to say, ‘You know what, we really don’t care about his sexuality; we’re just glad he put 10 new schools in our district.’” The congressional hopeful spoke to the Washington Blade last week in the offices of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which has endorsed his candidacy. The 12th congressional district, which is located in central North Carolona and comprises portions of Charlotte, WinstonSalem and High Point, is heavily Democratic. It has been vacant since former Rep. Mel Watt resigned this year to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency and a special election has been set for November. The district has a significant AfricanAmerican population; 47.2 percent of the residents are white, while 44.6 percent are black. More than a quarter of residents in the district live below the poverty line. “The social ills that come out of that — I have the highest HIV rates, I have the highest infant mortality rates, I have the highest drop out rates,” Brandon said. “Whenever you say 41 percent of African-American males don’t graduate, that number doubles in that community.” Brandon has experience in the political arena and distinction of toppling an incumbent in his own party. In 2011, he was elected to represent Greensboro in the State House of Representatives after beating four-term lawmaker and newspaper owner Earl Jones in the Democratic primary. He’s currently the only openly gay member of the North Carolina General Assembly. Yet again in his run for Congress, Brandon has competition for the Democratic nomination. Several other Democrats are in the race to claim the Democratic banner for the seat, including State Rep. Alma Adams, attorney George Battle III, attorney Curtis Osborne and State Sen. Malcolm Graham. But Brandon said the most recent fundraising numbers reveal that only two Democratic candidates are in a position to “run a sufficient race here.” Brandon has raised the most, taking in $213,804 and having $71,000 in cash on hand, while Adams comes in second, taking in $202,000 and having $92,000 in cash on hand. The primary is May 6. “I’ve never lost an election, and I don’t intend to lose this one,” Brandon said. “We have the biggest organization, the one with the most momentum and we fully anticipate it to be a very close election, but I have no doubt that we’ll win this race.” David Wasserman, House editor at the Cook Political Report, said it’s too early to determine what will happen in the primary, but added Brandon is a strong candidate. “It’s so early in the race that it’s difficult to tell who will comprise the top tier,” Wasserman said. “But it’s safe to say Brandon will be a formidable contender, because he appeals to multiple constituency groups in the Democratic Party.” Brandon isn’t the only openly gay black candidate in the middle of a congressional bid. Also pursuing a seat is Steve Dunwood, a Michigan candidate who’s seeking to represent Detroit in the U.S. House.

N.C. state Rep. MARCUS BRANDON (D-Greensboro) is running for Congress in North Carolina.

“I felt that underrepresented communities, like the one I live in, were not really having true representation in terms of being able to deal with structural issues concerning our community, dealing with education and equality, dealing with income inequality, environmental inequality,” Brandon said.

Russian LGBT rights record overshadows Olympics
14 activists arrested before opening ceremony
By MICHAEL K. LAVERS The 2014 Winter Olympics officially opened on Feb. 7 amid outrage over the arrest of 14 Russian LGBT rights advocates earlier in the day. Police arrested 10 activists near Moscow’s Red Square who held rainbow and Russian flags as they sung the Russian national anthem just before the games opened in Sochi. Elena Kostynchenko, who is among those taken into custody, told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview from Moscow on Feb. 8 that officers beat one activist and choked another once they arrived at a local police station. She said authorities also threatened to sexually assault her and another female advocate. Kostynchenko told the Blade officers also made lewd comments about her body and spit in her face before her release. “They didn’t care about anything,” said Kostynchenko. St. Petersburg police earlier on Feb. 7 arrested Anastasia Smirnova and three other Russian LGBT rights advocates as they marched with a banner that read “discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic movement. Principle 6. Olympic charter” in reference to a campaign in support of adding sexual orientation to the Olympic charter. Smirnova appeared on a U.N. panel in December that commemorated the 65th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She later took part in a Capitol Hill briefing on Russia’s LGBT rights record. Smirnova told the Blade she and the three other activists faced additional harassment after St. Petersburg officials released them from custody on Feb. 7. She said it took them three hours before local police officers and other authorities allowed them to retrieve their car that had been towed. “We are sorry to learn of the detention of activists in Russia for making political statements,” Aaron Jensen, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the State Department, told the Blade after Russian police arrested Smirnova and the other LGBT rights advocates in St. Petersburg and Moscow. “This is an example of the disturbing trend in the Russian Federation of legislation, prosecutions, and government actions aimed at suppressing dissent and groups that advocate for human rights and government accountability.” Florida Congresswoman Ileana RosLehtinen is among those who also criticized the activists’ arrest. “Tonight’s about solidarity,” said Ty Cobb, director of global engagement for the Human Rights Campaign, as he read an e-mail from Smirnova during an opening ceremony watch party his organization co-hosted with Team D.C., Capital Pride and Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies and Pride House International that benefitted the Russian LGBT Sports Federation. “Let them know we stand in solidarity with them.” Activists in New York, Philadelphia and nearly 40 other cities around the world held similar events during the opening ceremony. A handful of activists gathered outside the Russian embassy in Northwest D.C. on Feb. 9 to protest the Kremlin’s gay rights record. Russian President Vladimir Putin told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos last month those who protest his government’s LGBT rights record during the Olympics would not face prosecution under the country’s controversial law that bans gay propaganda to minors. The International Olympic Committee has repeatedly said it has received assurances from the Kremlin that gays and lesbians will not suffer discrimination during the games that are taking place in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi. The Blade’s attempts to reach the Russian government for comment on the arrests were unsuccessful. “We understand that the protesters were quickly released,” said IOC spokesperson Sandrine Tonge on Feb. 9. “As in many countries in the world, in Russia, you need permission before staging a protest. I understand this was the reason that they were temporarily detained.”

Supporters say Sam should focus on football

New York Times and ESPN interviews. The LGBT sports website noted the defensive lineman’s agents — Joe Barkett and Cameron Weiss — said they concluded it would “be less of a distraction” for Sam to come out this month as opposed to “after the draft, during summer training camp or during the season.” Sam attended a dinner at Bragman’s Los Angeles home on Feb. 8 – one day before he spoke with the aforementioned media outlets. Gay former NFL players Dave Kopay and Wade Davis, gay former professional baseball player Billy Bean, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and co-founders Jim Buzinski and Cyd Zeigler, Jr., also attended. said Buzinski “grilled him” during a practice interview earlier in the day. Bragman, Barkett and Weiss critiqued his answers. “When the topic was football he knew what to say, sharing playing experiences and his love of defense,” reported Outsports. com, noting Sam also shared details of his troubled childhood that included abuse he said he suffered at the hands of his brothers and losing three siblings. “When questions turned to gay issues in that mock interview, Sam worked through the answers.” The NFL applauded Sam in a statement it released shortly after the New York Times and ESPN published their interviews. “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage,” said the league. “We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and other university officials also praised Sam – students honored the defensive lineman by writing his name in the snow in the school’s football stadium on Feb. 9. Denver Broncos Vice President John Elway and Hall of Famer Deion Sanders are among the former and current NFL players who also applauded Sam. “Good for him,” said Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith on Twitter. President Obama and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) are among those who also applauded Sam. “Michael Sam has made a historic and courageous decision to live his authentic truth for the world to see,” said National BlackJusticeCoalitionCEOSharonLettmanHicks in a press release that announced an online campaign with Athlete Ally designed to rally additional support for the defensive lineman. “Sam continues the tradition of breaking down barriers for not only LGBT athletes who dream of playing professional sports, but all LGBT people, young and old, who seek to live openly, honestly and safely in their neighborhoods and communities.”

Team D.C. President Les Johnson echoed Lettman-Hicks. “He’s done a very brave thing,” Johnson told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. Sam came out nearly a year after former Washington Wizards center Jason Collins became the first male athlete who actively played in a major American professional sports league to come out as gay. Robbie Rogers, a professional soccer player who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, disclosed his sexual orientation last February before returning to the sport after a brief retirement. “Congratulations on leading the way,” wrote Collins on his Twitter account after Sam came out. “That’s real sportsmanship.” Football ‘not ready’ for openly gay player Reaction to Sam’s coming out has not been universally positive. Kent University on Monday indefinitely suspended wrestler Sam Wheeler after he repeatedly used anti-gay slurs in a series of tweets that criticized Sam. An anonymous NFL player personnel assistant told Sports Illustrated he feels “football is not ready for [an openly gay player] just yet” and an out teammate would “chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.” An NFL assistant coach who also did not give his name told the magazine Sam’s announcement was “not a smart move.” The NFL officials with whom Sports Illustrated spoke said the defensive lineman’s decision to come out would have an adverse impact on his ranking ahead of May’s draft. Sam’s CBS draft ranking on Feb. 10 was 70 spots lower than it was before the New York Times and ESPN published their interviews. Sam’s father, Michael Sam, Sr., also reacted negatively to his son’s decision. The older Sam told the New York Times his son told him in a text message while he was celebrating his birthday at a Denny’s outside of Dallas. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks,” said Sam’s father. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.” “I’m old school,” he added, noting he took one of his older sons to Mexico to lose his virginity. “I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.” Zeigler told the Blade on Tuesday that he expected some to react negatively to Sam’s announcement. He nevertheless described them as “idiots” and categorized their concerns as “poppycock.” “He was openly gay on the University of Missouri football team that went 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl,” said Zeigler. “The only way [the NFL] is different from college is the men are older, more experienced. They know more people who are gay.” The Ravens, the New York Giants, the New England Patriots, the Minnesota Vikings and the Cleveland Browns are

among the NFL teams that have said they would draft Sam. “If it’s a distraction to the team that’s not on Michael Sam or because he is gay,” Zeigler told the Blade. “It’s because of bad leadership on the team.” The Human Rights Campaign on Monday tweeted a picture of Sam and a link to its blog. Stampp Corbin, the former co-chair of the National LGBT Leadership Council for Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign who publishes a gay newspaper in San Diego, launched a

petition on that urges the NFL to draft the defensive lineman. “Michael is a football player, not an activist,” Bragman told “If you start showing up at too many dinners and too many parades, you start to send the message to a potential team about his priorities. The community wins when he steps onto an NFL field and plays in a game, not as the grand marshal of a pride parade.”

Nevada AG won’t defend marriage ban
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced this week she has sought to withdraw her earlier legal brief that argued against marriage equality — an action one advocate says indicates she’ll no longer defend in court her state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Masto, a Democrat, said she wants to withdraw her brief — which stirred controversy because it invoked bigamy and incest while defending Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage — based on a related case decided by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that determined jurors should not face discrimination based on sexual orientation. “After thoughtful review and analysis, the State has determined that its arguments grounded upon equal protection and due process are no longer sustainable,” Masto said. “Additionally, the legal evolution referenced by SmithKline is undeniably a ‘doctrinal development’ that vitiates the State’s position. Thus not only is the State’s equal protection argument undermined, so is its Baker v. Nelson argument.” Masto had previously indicated that she was reconsidering her position on the Nevada marriage lawsuit, which is currently before the Ninth Circuit, in the days after her initial filing based on the SmithKline ruling. She had filed her brief before the court on the same day it rendered its decision in SmithKline v. Abbott, which determined laws in the Ninth Circuit related to sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny, or a greater assumption they’re unconstitutional. That ruling established precedent in the Ninth Circuit that will likely lead to marriage bans being struck down within that jurisdiction. The case in which Masto withdrew her filing is known as Sevcik v. Sandoval, which was filed in 2012 by Lambda Legal and other legal firms on behalf of eight same-sex couples. Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, said the decision means that Masto will no longer defend the marriage ban in court in the same way that Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is not defending a similar ban in his state. An LGBT advocate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Masto’s position isn’t quite the same as Herring’s, but, in practice, it ends up being about the same position. In the nine-page motion to withdraw, Masto walks through her logic as to why the brief she previously submitted no longer holds up. “SmithKline’s holding sets a new standard of review for cases in the Ninth Circuit,” Masto writes. “Because the State’s argument was grounded upon equal protection and relied on High Tech, and thus was constructed upon the premise that only rational basis review applied to laws categorizing on the basis of sexual orientation, the State’s argument cannot withstand legal scrutiny.” The earlier brief cited as precedent Baker v. Nelson, a marriage case in the 1970s that the U.S. Supreme Court refuse to hear for lack of federal question, and an earlier ruling by a federal judge in Nevada upholding the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. But with the more recent ruling in the gay juror case, Masto writes “both of these holdings have been vitiated.” Masto’s request to withdraw her brief follows the earlier decision by Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover to withdraw his brief, which was also motivated by the Ninth Circuit ruling in SmithKline. CHRIS JOHNSON


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LGBT poverty rate higher than general population

continue to face economic challenges that affect their income and life chances, such as susceptibility to employment discrimination, higher rates of being uninsured, and a lack of access to various tax and other financial benefits via exclusion from the right to marry,” the report says. The report uses the U.S. Census Bureau definition of poverty for 2012 in its analysis of LGBT poverty levels based on family income. That definition lists the “poverty line” for a single person household as an annual income of $11,815 or less. The poverty line for a two-person household was $15,079, and for a four-person household was $23,684 in 2012.

Trans poverty ‘extraordinarily high’
A separate study prepared jointly by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2011, called “Injustice at Every Turn,” shows dramatically higher rates of poverty and homelessness among transgender Americans in each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Kylar Broadus, senior policy counsel and director of the Trans Civil Rights Project for The Task Force, called the poverty rate in the transgender community “extraordinarily high.” He said a key factor leading to economic hardship among transgender people is the persistent problem of employment discrimination. “There’s double the national rate of unemployment,” he said in discussing the trans community of which he said he’s a member. “And once we’re employed 90 percent of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment and discrimination on the job,” he noted in pointing to the NCTE-Task Force study. “Forty-seven percent said they experienced adverse outcomes such as being fired, not hired or denied promotions because of being transgender or gender non-conforming,” Broadus said. He said the respondents reported various forms of housing discrimination that are contributing factors to homelessness in the transgender community. According to the study, 19 percent of respondents reported having been refused a home or an apartment to rent and 11 percent reported being evicted because of their gender identity or expression. “Nineteen percent experienced homelessness at some point in their lives because they were transgender or didn’t conform as well, and then 55 percent were denied access to shelters,” he said. Another study released by the Williams Institute last week reports that 2.4 million LGBT adults, or 29 percent, “experienced a time in the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family.” The study, written by Williams Institute demographer Gary Gates, found that LGBT people are more likely to rely on the federal food stamp program for assistance than their heterosexual counterparts. “One in four bisexuals (25 percent) receive food stamps,” the report says, “34 percent of LGBT women were food insecure in the last year; and LGBT African Americans, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians experienced food insecurity in the last year at rates of 37 percent, 55 percent, and 78 percent respectively,” the report says.


LGBT homeless rate high in San Francisco
Yet another report released last June found that 29 percent of the homeless population in San Francisco identified as LGBT. The report, which was part of the city’s biennial homeless count, included for the first time a count of the number of homeless people who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Brian Bassinger, director of the San Francisco-based AIDS Housing Alliance, which provides services to the HIV and LGBT communities, said although the finding to some degree reflects the high LGBT population in San Francisco, which is 15 percent, he believes LGBT people make up a sizable percent of the homeless population in other cities throughout the country. Bassinger said he also believes the 29 percent figure for San Francisco is most likely an under count and that the actual

number is higher. “LGBT people in the shelter system here are regularly targeted for violence, harassment and hate crimes, which are very well documented,” he said. Since much of the effort to count homeless people in the city takes place at shelters, large numbers of LGBT homeless people are not counted because they generally avoid the shelters out of fear of harassment and violence, Bassinger said. He said his group also closely monitors a development in San Francisco threatening to push the city’s older LGBT population into poverty and which may be occurring in other cities – the enormous rise in the cost of housing due to gentrification and a booming real estate market. Those who for years have lived in popular gay neighborhoods as tenants are being displaced by the conversion of rental apartment buildings and houses into upscale condominiums, Bassinger said. “Long-term San Franciscans who have spent decades building the system to deliver access to equal treatment under the law here in San Francisco are getting displaced by all of these people moving into our community,” he said. And because they can no longer afford to live in San Francisco many are being forced to move to other parts of the state or other states that are less LGBT friendly and don’t have the support community they came to enjoy for so many years, according to Bassinger. The Williams Institute’s 2013 report, meanwhile, analyzes data from four surveys of the U.S. population with a demographic breakdown that included mostly gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals as well as a smaller, combined “LGBT” sample. The four surveys were conducted by these organizations or government agencies:

• The 2010 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau with a sample of more than 500,000 and which included data from same-sex couple households. • The National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics from 2006-2010 included a sample of more than 19,000 people throughout the country, including people who identified as LGB, the Williams Institute study says. • The California Health Interview Survey conducted by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research in collaboration with California Department of Public Health surveyed more than 50,000 Californians, including LGB adults from 2007 to 2009. • A Gallup Daily Tracking Poll conducted between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012 with a sample of more than 120,000 adults from 18 and older, included people who identified themselves as LGBT in all 50 states and D.C. The poll was conducted by phone. The report includes these additional findings on the subject of poverty in the LGBT community: • African-American same-sex couples have poverty rates more than twice the rate of different-sex married African Americans. • One-third of lesbian couples and 20.1 percent of gay male couples who don’t have a high school diploma are in poverty, compared to 18.8 percent of heterosexual couples. • Lesbian couples living in rural areas are more likely to be poor (14.1 percent) compared to 4.5 percent of lesbian couples in large cities; 10.2 percent of gay male couples who live in small metropolitan areas are poor compared with just 3.3 percent of gay male couples who live in large metropolitan areas. • Nearly one in four children living with a male same-sex couple and 19.2 percent of children living with a female same-sex couple is in poverty. This compares with 12.1 percent of children living with married heterosexual couples who are in poverty. • African-American children in gay male households have the highest poverty rate (52.3 percent) of any children in any household type. • 14 percent of lesbian couples and 7.7 percent of gay male couples received food stamps, compared to 6.5 percent of straight married couples. In addition, 2.2 percent of same-sex female couples received government cash assistance compared to 0.8 percent of women in different-sex couples. And 1.2 percent of men in same-sex couples received cash assistance compared to 0.6 percent of men in different-sex couple relationships who received cash assistance.


FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 17


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JOHN MOSLEY, JR. was arrested for allegedly firebombing a couple’s house.

Couple’s Essex house firebombed

A house where two women were living was firebombed on Feb. 4. Police arrested a neighbor, John Mosley, Jr., 65, in connection with the crime that destroyed the two-story house in the 700 block of Essex Avenue. Mosley is being held without bail and has been charged with attempted murder, arson and assault. Two women, Rose Bartko and Catherine Smith, had lived in the house for a number of years. Bartko told Baltimore County Police that there was a heated argument between Smith and Mosley and that he threatened the couple. Bartko was not in the house at the time, but Smith was inside to call police for help when she heard windows shattering and saw fire. A neighbor helped her escape. Smith was treated for smoke inhalation at Bayview Medical Center. A firefighter and police officer also received minor injuries. The couple’s dog died in the blaze and their cat is missing. Baltimore County Police spokesperson Elise Armacost told the Blade that the dispute between Mosley and his neighbors had been a recent occurrence, and police had visited Moseley several times since January. Police found no evidence to suggest that this was a hate crime.

Lawmakers endorse trans equality

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Included among those testifying before the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee in Annapolis on behalf of SB212, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, were Councilwoman Courtney Watson of Howard County and Councilman Tom Quirk of Baltimore County. Both represented jurisdictions where gender identity protections were enacted. Other jurisdictions that have such anti-discrimination laws in place in Maryland are Baltimore City, Montgomery County and the city of Hyattsville. Howard County passed the law in December 2011, and Watson reported that since the law went into effect, there have been “no complaints, no problems.” Baltimore County enacted a similar law in February 2012. Quirk, who also testified that there have been no problems arising from the law, said that the current bill before the committee represents “a respect for human dignity.” Alvin Gilliard, representing Baltimore’s Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement, testified he was proud that Baltimore City was the first jurisdiction in the state to pass a nondiscrimination law in 2002.

Mr., Miss Gay East Baltimore to debut
The first-ever Mr. and Miss Gay East Baltimore contest will take place at The Quest Bar on Saturday. Categories include: East Baltimore casual wear, evening wear, and talent (seven minutes including one-minute set-up). The theme colors are red and white and can be worn in the first two categories. All interested Mr. and Miss contestants must be at least age 21. Cover is $6 at the door, $5 in advance. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the contest begins at 9 p.m. The Quest is located at 3607 Fleet St. in Baltimore. STEVE CHARING

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New LGBT health initiative unveiled in Pa.
PHILADELPHIA — The University of Pennsylvania is unrolling an LGBT health initiative that covers medical, dental and nursing schools as well as the region’s largest health system, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Penn is set to announce its Program for LGBT Health Friday and has posted details online this week. P.J. Brennan, the health system’s chief medical officer, told the Inquirer it was a natural fit with Penn Medicine’s three-pronged mission: research, education, and patient care. There has been no opposition, he said, a sharp contrast with the 1980s. He was training in infectious diseases here when the division had to fight “a lot of fear and ignorance” to start an HIV program. Now Penn is compiling a list of its LGBT experts to include in a brochure that would help patients choose doctors. The idea came out of a daylong planning retreat that the program’s organizers held in the fall, the Inquirer reports.

UK health officials report record high STI rates for gay men there.

Health experts to address high STI rates in gays
LONDON — Health experts in the UK were slated to meet in London Friday to share evidence and devise new strategies to address what they say are record high STI rates for gay men there, the Independent reports. Rates of gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis in gay men have soared in recent years, official figures show, while new HIV infections have also reached record highs, the paper said. Experts say that, paradoxically, the rise of successful drug treatments for HIV has contributed to increased infection rates for other sexually transmitted infections. More men are having unprotected sex in the assumption that they no longer need to wear a condom to protect themselves from the virus, once considered a death sentence before the advent of effective anti-retroviral drugs. Other men are lowering their risk by sero-sorting, or ensuring partners have the same HIV status as them, but then having unprotected sex, risking the transmission of other infections, the Independent said. The problem has taken on a worrying new dimension in the past five years, with a minority of gay men, particularly in London and other major cities, taking up high risk sexual behavior associated with the injection club drugs such as crystal meth. Infection rates for HIV itself are also on the rise, with 3,250 new diagnoses in men who have sex with men the UK in 2012, an all-time high, the paper reported. There were 36,000 STI diagnoses in men who have sex with men in England alone in 2012, including 8,500 new cases of chlamydia, 10,800 for gonorrhoea and 2,100 cases of syphilis. Although improved testing and screening explains some of the rise, health experts agree that high risk behaviours have become much more common, the Independent reports.

Major grant awarded to black gay HIV study
PITTSBURGH — The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health announced this week that it was awarded a $3.2 million grant to study the reasons why black gay men are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS, Pittsburgh City Paper reports. “Where could all this virus be coming from, if black gay men are in fact more conservative in terms of sex and less likely to shoot drugs?” Ron Stall, director of the Center for LGBT Health Research at Pitt and principal investigator on the project, told City Paper. “If you can’t answer that basic question you can’t do HIV prevention among black gay men.” According to the CDC, young African American gay and bisexual men accounted for the highest number of new HIV infections among all gay and bisexual men in 2010. Black gay and bisexual men ages 13-24 also accounted for twice as many new infections as their white or Latino/Hispanic peers in that year, the Pittsburgh City Paper article said. The project, a collaboration with the Center for Black Equity, will survey 6,000 black men who have sex with men — the largest sample of this subgroup ever studied — to try and figure out why they are less likely to get tested for HIV, or seek medical treatment even if their HIV status is known. Participants will give their feedback anonymously and will be recruited at black gay pride events across the country. They’ll also be asked to answer questions about their mental health, substance use and violence victimization and other health issues to understand negative health outcomes associated with the subgroup, but also possible areas of resilience, the City Paper reports.

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While most of us slow down and go into hibernation for the winter, I often feel the wintertime is the best time to reflect, explore and experiment with your healthy behaviors. Therefore, I wanted to share both quick tips and things you can do about during the cold winter months. Food patterns. Winter is a great time to try to experiment with changes in your regular food patterns or behaviors. While I don’t believe in diets or diet plans, I do think changes in food patterns can really help in losing weight for some people. Every person and body type is different and therefore, everyone responds differently to certain food pattern changes. Diet fads or diet plans, are not a “one size fits all”-type thing. Why do you think there are so many of them? You should try a food pattern change that is best for you. I have seen a number of my clients succeed with the Paleo diet where others have had desired results with the fasting diet or the Adkins diet. Whatever option you choose to try, be sure to listen to what feels right in your body. Your body knows best, so listen to it. For example, if you are on the Paleo diet and it makes you feel slow and sluggish, then maybe it isn’t the right diet for you. In addition, it takes about three to four weeks for the body to really process and understand a significant change in your eating behaviors. Therefore, don’t give up. Stay with it for a good month or so. One of my favorite quick food pattern changes is having vegetables at breakfast time. I have

considerably more energy if I eat a salad or veggies with protein in the morning. Make the gym fun. Often when I hear gym members’ chatting they are often speaking negatively about working out or having to come to the gym to exercise. The gym should be a place you enjoy coming to everyday. Personally, I see the gym and my workout as a sacred time and place where I can let all the outside noises and stress of life melt away. It’s important for everyone to reflect on what the gym means to them and begin practicing that behavior during the winter time. Whatever that meaning is. So how can you make the gym more fun? First, begin your workout with your favorite song and your favorite exercise. Turn up the volume and work it out. Second, also start your workout out with some really good deep stretching and deep breathing. You will feel more relaxed and focused. Third, try not to carry your phone around with you at the gym. That’s right, no phone. I find that our phones tend to be more of a distraction than a help when it comes to focusing on the gym. Let the work emails and text messages go and focus on yourself. If your phone is your music source then turn off the emails and ignore the texts. Research something fitness related. Did you know that we read most during the winter months? As the temperature drops and the snow flies, try snuggling up with your iPad or Kindle by reading up on the latest fitness trends. Have you had an interest in doing High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) but aren’t sure how it’s different from other types of training? Do you know what essential vitamins and minerals are in kale that make it a super food? Maybe you want to learn more about hiking outdoors and what locations in the area are the best for good trials. For instance, I have been doing a lot of research and reading a lot about Spirulina. Did you know that Spirulina is really an algae that grows off the coast of South America, Mexico and Africa? It’s considered a superfood because it is packed with vitamin B-12, protein, beta carotene and all of the essential amino acids. Needless to say, I have been incorporating a teaspoon into my diet everyday. The internet is your oyster — go find the pearls of wisdom. 22 • FEBRUARY 14, 2014 INSIDE LGBT WASHINGTON V O L U M E 4 5 I S S U E 0 7

Registering as ‘independent’ a copout
D.C. should retain its closed primary system
an independent. I haven’t quite figured out why not having your political views public and associating with the party that represents them makes you cool but some think it does. There are two main political parties in the nation, Republican and Democratic. When registering to vote in D.C. you have the option of registering in those two or the Green Party, Statehood Party, register no party (independent) or list some other party. In D.C., which is overwhelmingly Democratic, provisions have been made in our home rule charter for two at-large Council seats to go to a candidate other than a Democrat. So over the years we have had members of the Statehood Party, Republican Party and independents holding those seats. Council member David Catania first got elected as a Republican. When he decided to leave the Republican Party he chose to become an independent so he could keep his seat. Nothing stopped him from registering as a Democrat other than either he didn’t believe in the principles of the party or it was politically expedient that he didn’t have to give up his seat (one allocated for someone other than a Democrat). I am a proud Democrat and have been since first registering to vote in New York City. An activist in politics from a very young age, there is pride in the party I have chosen and an unwillingness to see all the work so many party activists have accomplished potentially be undone by those not in the party choosing its candidates. Democrats have fought for years for the principles of the party we support and have battled to ensure that our party supports and stands for the human and civil rights of all people and progressive policies. Today there is not much similarity between the two major parties. They represent very differing views of the world. So that makes me question this desire of some unwilling to stand up for one of them and rather declare themselves independent, which doesn’t indicate at all what they believe or what principles they are willing to fight for. It rather seems a copout. An independent who wants to vote in a Democratic or Republican Party primary chooses to let others fight for the principles of the party and then after the debate is all over say, “Here I am and I now want to choose who will be the standard bearer for what you have fought for and believe”. When my party chooses a candidate in its primary not to my liking I am still free to support another party’s candidate in the general election. It hasn’t happened often but in 1994 I supported and volunteered countless hours for Carol Schwartz, when she ran as the Republican candidate for mayor. Recently we have seen a candidate in Ward 1 drop out of the Democratic primary and change his party affiliation to independent. He declared he wanted to give the people of the Ward more choice in the election. If he couldn’t connect with the voters in the Democratic primary, what makes him think he will connect with them later? This debate will continue but I hope that for the foreseeable future we maintain a closed primary system in D.C.

PETER ROSENSTEIN is a D.C.-based LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

There has been debate recently about changing the primary system in the District of Columbia and nearly all of it from those outside the Democratic Party who feel disenfranchised. There is a simple solution and that is for them to register as Democrats. But clearly that doesn’t satisfy them. I would make one change to the current closed primary system and that is to hold a run-off election when no candidate reaches a pre-determined percentage of the vote. But that actually ends up uniting the party around one candidate and some who want open primaries in D.C. may not like that as it will make it even more unlikely than now to elect anyone other than a Democrat. The District is a Democratic town because the majority of the people living here believe in the principles of the Democratic Party and are willing to stand up for them. In today’s political world there seems to be some cache in telling people you are

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Why we need more than ENDA
Partners should be able to care for each other in sickness and health
By WENDY CHUN-HOON Imagine being pregnant with twins and your lawful and loving spouse has to sue you to establish joint custody under the law. That was just one of the stories I heard last month in Houston, where I traveled along with 4,000 other activists, workers, family members and allies to Creating Change — the country’s largest LGBTQ conference. On my first day, I participated in a workshop on families. Most of us were there because we’re starting families and need to learn how to navigate the complex and dynamic web of laws that — for the most part — don’t serve us well. The woman I referenced above had married her wife in Massachusetts. The couple moved their family to North Carolina and was now expecting twins. Under North Carolina law, their marriage didn’t exist. Not only would her wife have to sue her, she also couldn’t use family leave to care for her spouse as she recovered from the birth. The Family Medical Leave Act, established 21 years ago, is the only federal policy that protects workers’ jobs when a child is born or adopted or when a loved one falls seriously ill. It is woefully outdated. Forty percent of the workforce doesn’t qualify. Many who do can’t afford to sacrifice their paychecks for unpaid leave. The FMLA provides too few protections for workers and their families –—and even fewer for LGBTQ families. In far too many workplaces across our country, LGBTQ workers are fired because their employers are legally allowed to discriminate against them for their sexual or gender identity. In far too many communities, LGBTQ couples’ relationships aren’t recognized and LGBTQ parents aren’t able to establish a legal relationship to their children. And in far too many households, LGBTQ partners aren’t able to care for each other without risking wages or, worse, their jobs because FMLA’s restrictive definition of the word “spouse” does not include their relationship. My role in the workshop was to educate folks about their rights under the FMLA. There was some good news. In 2010, the Department of Labor issued a ruling affirming that the “in loco parentis” (standing in the shoes of a parent) provision of the FMLA applies to same-sex couples. For LGTBQ families (and many other families) this is critical. It helps to formally establish a parent-child relationship for non-birth parents who are very much, in fact, raising their kids. The North Carolina partner who wasn’t carrying the twins could take leave to care for them – just not for her wife. I was able to name one other highpoint in my presentation. When, in June of last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, overturning key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, suddenly certain married LGBTQ couples were granted FMLA coverage to care for each other in emergencies. Married couples that live in a state with marriage equality can qualify for FMLA leave for their partner. For the North Carolina woman, however, her spouse would not be able to take FMLA leave to care for her after the birth or should she fall seriously ill. Only 25 percent of kids today are being raised in this country’s “traditional” concept of the mom-dad, two-parent household. It’s long past time to reform the FMLA. We can start by treating same-sex married couples the same as we treat different-sex married couples by not conditioning FMLA coverage on where you live. This is something the Department of Labor could issue a ruling on now. But we also need to change the FMLA to establish a more comprehensive definition of family. This is especially important, for example, for older LGBTQ couples who aren’t married as well as for those who have no interest in marrying. We all benefit when laws recognize and strengthen the many forms of family in the U.S. today.

WENDY CHUN-HOON is D.C. director of Family Values @ Work. She lives in D.C.


Why I support Jack Evans for mayor
Council member has supported gay rights for 25 years
By DENNIS BASS Twenty-five years ago, elected officials weren’t talking about gay rights. But Jack Evans was. He led the fight for domestic partnerships, civil unions and gay marriage, and helped repeal laws that discriminated against gays and lesbians. Long before it was popular, Jack championed equality regardless of sexual orientation. He didn’t do it because it was politically correct. He did it because it was right. He was there at the start of the gay rights movement in D.C. and he has been an ally of our community and its most skillful advocate over the last two decades. When he first ran for Council in 1991, there were some who said Jack would not have the same commitment to gay issues as an LGBT candidate. Council member Evans has certainly proven those people wrong. Today, Jack has undisputedly the strongest record of any candidate on the issues that matter not only to our community, but also to the entire District. When Jack was first elected, gay people were routinely harassed and arrested for committing sodomy. In his first year on the Council, Jack led the fight to abolish the repressive anti-sodomy law, after years of failed attempts. In 1998, Jack became the first elected D.C. official to publicly support samesex marriage, and year after year Jack has sponsored successful legislation to guarantee LGBT people the rights of straight married couples in areas such as adoption, health care, inheritance, and domestic partnership, until the Council finally adopted full marriage rights for gays and lesbians. But Jack’s efforts didn’t stop with marriage equality. He has relentlessly waged battles to enact medical marijuana, condom availability, needle exchange programs, reporting of bias-related hate crimes, and LGBT sensitivity training for Metropolitan police, fire, and EMT personnel — overcoming the often-hostile objections of some fellow Council members and opposition in Congress. In recognition of all he has done for the LGBT community, Jack Evans was awarded the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance Distinguished Service Award. When you combine Jack’s record on LGBT issues with his other achievements in fiscal management by balancing the District’s budget; bringing to D.C. the convention center, baseball stadium and Verizon Center, along with other job-creating projects; and supporting education reform that is beginning to show benefits in D.C.’s schools, I can’t see how the choice could be any clearer. Yes, “the District is doing pretty darn good,” as one of Mayor Gray’s supporters said, but much of the credit for what’s happening now goes to Jack Evans’ efforts, who, as the long-time chair of the Council’s Finance and Revenue committee, laid the groundwork for much of the prosperity and progress that we’re seeing today. What kind of an LGBT advocate will he be as mayor? Jack says that, even in a city like Washington where much has been accomplished, the fight for LGBT rights is far from over. As mayor, Jack Evans will continue his advocacy on LGBT issues by increasing funding for health initiatives focused on LGBT people and youth, increasing workplace protections for transgender people, ensuring that same-sex married partners are treated equally under Medicaid, initiating LGBT sensitivity training for all District government employees, and including gender-orientation curriculum in the sex-education programs of the D.C. public schools. For these reasons, Jack Evans is the right choice for mayor.

DENNIS BASS was deputy executive director of Center for Science in the Public Interest from 1981 until he retired in 2012. He served on the Dupont Circle ANC from 1986 until 1995 and volunteered on every Jack Evans campaign since he first ran for Council in 1991. 24 • FEBRUARY 14, 2014 OUR BUSINESS MATTERS

Most mayoral hopefuls favor liquor-licensing reform
D.C. candidates measured on commitment to fixing license protest scheme
community. LGBT residents have witnessed how existing rules allow infamous “Gang of 5” ad hoc license protest groups and small “citizens groups” to directly intervene, attempting to delay or deny licensing. With LGBT voters comprising 10 percent of the District’s adult population, and likely a higher percentage of voters, candidates covet a high rating. The question, one of 12, is as follows: “Will you support strengthening Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) reforms by eliminating license protests filed by citizens associations and ad hoc groups, requiring stakeholders to participate in the community process provided by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission?” While all candidates, including those competing for Council seats, were asked to respond, here’s how the seven-of-eight questionnaire-returning Democratic mayoral candidates measured up: • Best Answer: Mayor Vincent Gray. He’s a “YES” and demonstrates his keen understanding of the need for reform while clearly enunciating why: “Frivolous licensing protests filed with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) stand in the way of businesses operating free of special operating protocols. Protests by ad hoc groups…should not interfere with the issuance of ABC licenses to businesses.” • Great Answer: D.C. Council member Jack Evans. He’s a “YES” and provides a rationale: “I have heard from both residents and businesses that the ABC Board takes too long to make decisions. I think this needs to be a more decisive process… Dragging out some of these cases months and months really can be very unfair to everyone and unnecessarily divisive.” • Good Answer: Restaurateur Andy Shallal. He’s a “YES” and utilizes his direct experience with the licensing scheme: “I am familiar with the problems that face the owners of restaurants that serve alcohol. My restaurants all serve alcohol, and I have had to deal with the ABC’s regulations for each of them.” • Straightforward Answer: D.C. Council member Vincent Orange. He’s a “YES” – his solitary affirmative response. • “Gets It” Answer: Reta Jo Lewis. Although beginning, “I will have to study this issue with greater detail,” she notes, “I am the daughter of entrepreneurs – small business owners. I have a tremendous respect for creating great communities through small business, innovation and entrepreneurship. The current regulations…caus[e] significant barriers for small businesses… all of our processes are convoluted and outdated. I know we can do better.” • Most Disappointing Answer: D.C. Council member Tommy Wells. He declines to answer the question, instead stating, “This is a proposal that needs further study.” He goes on to contort the issue, failing to reprise his passionate arguments in favor of this specific proposition from the dais during Council debate leading to modest initial reforms in Dec. 2012 limiting “Gang of 5” protests. • Worst Answer: D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser. She fails to answer the question, utilizing a politician’s “dodge,” but indicates she is “not inclined to limit their ability to protest licenses,” albeit incorrectly referencing ANCs. While Bowser has consistently exhibited reluctance, ambivalence and lack of leadership on licensing reform, she notes joining a Council majority approving “some limitations” of protest groups. Trying to play both sides, however, she “continue[s] to think they lend value to the process.” With long-overdue reforms supported by most mayoral candidates, it is hoped that courage will strengthen Council candidate backbones. Down ballot, some remain fearful of a diminishing few shrill voices while the broader electorate grows intolerant of fealty to their shenanigans.

MARK LEE is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at

Every election the non-partisan Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance elicits candidate positions on issues of interest to the LGBT community. GLAA’s policy brief and questionnaire is the basis for ratings assigned to D.C. vote-seekers. GLAA will soon release scores for candidates competing in the April 1 party primaries. This campaign cycle candidates have been asked a specific question regarding the next step in reforming the city’s alcohol licensing system for bars and restaurants. Repairing regulations to ensure the process is fixed to be fair for local businesses has long been of compelling concern to the gay


D.C. must have representation in Congress
As we work to that goal, local gov’t has more power than many realize
By JIM GRAHAM I serve on one of the most powerful elected legislative bodies in the nation. I am a member of the D.C. Council. Whoa, hold on, I hear you say, how can that be when every law passed by the Council must go to, and may be changed by, Congress at will? And by a Congress where D.C. lacks any voting representation. To be sure, D.C. statehood is one of the last remaining great human rights violations in the USA. Our city is entitled to full voting representation in the House and Senate and for that there can be no substitute. Yet, in direct consequence of the congressional role, there is a widely held view that the D.C. government has little power. On closer examination, that is far from the case. D.C. may be the most unique political jurisdiction in the U.S. And since Home Rule was established on Dec. 24, 1973 — a 40th anniversary that went largely unnoticed — the D.C. government incorporates city, county and state functions. Thus, for example, motor vehicles, transportation and public works — functions that usually are not within the power of city/county government — are under our government. Moreover, except for Nebraska, D.C. is the only unicameral state legislature in the U.S. And Nebraska’s single house has 49 members in contrast to D.C.’s 13. In our unicameral legislature, a law can be passed with the support of only seven votes and the signature of the mayor. But what about this congressional review, where a D.C. law must lay over for 30 legislative days? True enough. But how often do D.C. laws simply lay over in Congress without action or interference by them? Almost always is the answer. Even though the heavy boot of a Congress where we have no vote is constantly hanging over the heads of District residents, Congress has used this authority only on rare occasions over the last 40 years — indeed only three times over the last 40 years — and not since 1991. In recent times, Congress has taken no action to disturb what in earlier times would have been viewed as enticing political targets — smoke-free workplaces and marriage equality come immediately to mind. And D.C.’s congressional review is nothing like what many cities and counties must go through in order to take certain actions. In Virginia or New York, operating under what is known as the “Dillon Rule,” local government may only pass certain laws as expressly allowed by the state legislature. For example, in order for Mayor Bloomberg in New York City to gain control over the NYC public schools laws had to be introduced and passed in Albany in both houses and then signed by the governor. Mayor Fenty needed but seven Council members in D.C. to do about the same thing. Congress also has the authority to impose restrictions on the District’s ability to raise funds, such as the congressional prohibition of a commuter tax, and override initiatives approved by District residents through referendum. But here again, the authority is increasingly not used. For example, prohibition on needle exchange and medical marijuana funding — both imposed in FY1998 — were lifted in recent years. Only the restriction on spending on abortions remains. So too, Congress may use the District as a “laboratory” for its own initiatives that they think would be “popular back home.” Federal funding for opportunity scholarships for private schools and various actions related to charter schools are examples. Forty years into the history of this relatively young government and we have accomplished a lot. The District’s legislature — among the most progressive in social policy in the country — also oversees one of the strongest economies in the country today. We must have our votes in Congress. But as we all work to that goal, our local government has more power than many realize.
Council member JIM GRAHAM represents Ward 1 on the D.C. Council. LIFE IN THE INTERSECTION FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 25

Black voters on support for white mayoral hopefuls
For some in D.C., appeal of Evans, Wells transcends race
the first time at 12. It was my first time out of D.C. He took me to a cabin in Minnesota with his family. He also sent me to basketball and baseball camps out of my community. He showed me that there is stuff bigger than where I live.” While Sanders’ support of Wells has a lot to do with the bond they developed over the years while Wells mentored him, he clearly believes that Wells is the right choice politically. When discussing Wells’ politics, he mentioned Wells’ minimum wage challenge this past December, where Wells purchased groceries and traveled on a minimum wage salary of $8.25 per hour for one week to show how difficult it is to live in D.C. on minimum wage. “I don’t think there’s another candidate who will go as far as him to prove his point,” Sanders said. “He’s always willing to push the envelope and do things the average person wouldn’t do. He’s the first white guy I saw who would come to pick me up in the hood, wait 20 or 30 minutes in a car, and not think about it.” “I look at his whole track record. When I first met him he was an ANC commissioner, then he got on the school board, then the City Council, and now he’s running for mayor. That’s my motivation that you can always do more than what you do. You watch the stuff he does for people. I know I’m not the only person he helped out and mentored. He took me to play basketball with the kids in the youth detention center in Northeast and there were no cameras around, we would just go. He’s that down to earth and that grounded.” Jacques Point Du Jour, 27, is also an African-American native Washingtonian. He lives in Ward 6, works as an assistant at a legal consulting firm and supports Jack Evans for mayor. He was introduced to Evans by one of his friends and he believes that Evans’ “history has been nothing but amazing. He played a vital part in revitalizing 14th Street. I remember 14th Street 20 years ago and I see what it is now.” Point Du Jour said he did not consider race when deciding to back Evans. “It’s 2014 and it shouldn’t be about race,” he said. “Race tends to get in the way of the greater role.” He hasn’t experienced any backlash from his friends for supporting a white mayoral candidate. Many of his friends aren’t even paying attention to the election. “People in their mid or late 20s don’t think supporting a mayoral candidate is relevant,” he said, “but I think it’s ex-

LATEEFAH WILLIAMS’ biweekly column, ‘Life in the Intersection,’ focuses on the intersection of race, gender and sexual orientation. She is a former president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club. Reach her at or follow her at twitter @lateefahwms.

D.C. political races are often divided by race. Even when all of the viable candidates are African American, support for a particular candidate still is usually easily discernable by race and geography. This year, we will probably have the closest Democratic mayoral primary since home rule. It is also the first year that we have white mayoral candidates who have a reasonable chance to be elected mayor. Based on history, conventional wisdom suggests that most African Americans will support one of the AfricanAmerican candidates. However, there are some black District residents who are strongly supporting white mayoral candidates in the Democratic primary. It may surprise some folks that the African Americans who are unabashedly supporting Tommy Wells or Jack Evans, the two white Democratic candidates, are quite diverse in background. Once you start discussing Wells’ and Evans’ campaigns with their African-American supporters, you realize that they are a hard group to generalize. Dominic Sanders, 23, is a senior social work major at Millersville University and he defies every stereotype of a Tommy Wells supporter. He is an African American, native Washingtonian from humble beginnings, who grew up in several Ward 6 neighborhoods in Southeast and Southwest Washington. This May, he will become the first person in his family to graduate from college. Sanders met Wells through late D.C. activist Jan Eichhorn when he was six. He kept asking Eichhorn, who organized a local mentoring and tutoring program, for a mentor and eventually she introduced him to Wells and they have been friends ever since. “Tommy exposed me to a lot,” Sanders said. “He took me on an airplane for

The city’s two white Democratic mayoral candidates, TOMMY WELLS and JACK EVANS, are drawing diverse support.

tremely important.” Point Du Jour, who described his political leanings as “Democratic toward the liberal end of the spectrum,” said Evans’ pro-business reputation does not bother him at all. “If you don’t have business connections, how would you create jobs and bring in more prosperity.” He thinks that Evans can serve the entire city. “I heard him talk about meeting with communities in Ward 8 and how it’s important for them to take part in the prosperity.” Maceo Thomas, 42, a property manager from Ward 7, is a Wells supporter. Thomas said he supports Wells because “there is a real issue around integrity in our government. It’s not confined to D.C., but we have a big problem in D.C. I watched Tommy from afar and watched him get punished in the Council for doing what’s right.” “People are rushing to get into Ward 6, into the Capitol Hill area, because of the schools and the amenities,” Thomas said. “Tommy was in a leadership position to help the community get those things. Those are the same things we want in ward 7 and east of the river.” When asked about any resistance that he has faced in supporting a white mayoral candidate, Thomas acknowledged that when he “went door knocking with Tommy near the Minnesota

Avenue Metro, some folks responded that [Wells] is white.” However, Thomas said that after people started “talking to Tommy for a little bit, they were shaking their head and following along in the conversation.” Thomas said he did not consider race when he decided to support Wells. “Black people are much smarter than people give us credit for,” he said. He added that people are wrong “if they think we wouldn’t vote for Tommy Wells because he’s white.” Thomas attributes Wells’ limited support outside of Ward 6 to there not being “a lot of media around Council members, so people don’t know who he is. As more people examine who he is, I think they will give him a chance.” While I personally have limited my mayoral choices to three candidates — one of the candidates featured here, along with two of the leading AfricanAmerican candidates — I would be disingenuous if I did not acknowledge that race, or more so the ability to appeal to all races, is at least part of my consideration. I would never vote for anyone who I don’t believe is qualified to run the city well, but it is also important to me that all Washingtonians feel that they are a valued part of the city. Candidates of any race can do that, but it is imperative for the next mayor to have that quality.

26 • FEBRUARY 14, 2014




How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? I have been out since I was 18. The hardest person to tell was my mother, who broke down and cried. She thought I would not have a happy life. In contrast, my Dad was great and very supportive. Who’s your LGBT hero? Harvey Milk, because of his passion. What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? This is going to date me but it has got to be Tracks from way back when. I remember a time when I couldn’t imagine not going to Tracks on a weekend. Describe your dream wedding. My wedding was my dream wedding. Matt and I got married in Ptown and honestly a number of people said it was their favorite wedding too. We sent people on a treasure hunt, I made tea bowls for everyone and we gave them out dressed in kimonos and then we had a lovely and tearful wedding ceremony at the Red Roof Inn. Wouldn’t do anything different except stopping all the rain that weekend. What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? I love making pots. That’s why I opened District Clay. What historical outcome would you change? I’d make it so that Al Gore officially beat George Bush. Then we would not have had Iraq or a gay bashing White House. What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Cher in Las Vegas On what do you insist? Being considerate. What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? About opening District Clay! If your life were a book, what would the title be? “What a Wonderful World It Is” If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? Encourage more people to become gay. What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I believe that there is a life force that is beyond the physical world and we will discover what it is when we get there. What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?


By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO About 15 years ago, a friend of Cass Johnson’s convinced him to join a pottery class. “He dropped out after five or six weeks, but I was hooked,” Johnson says. “I just kept on taking classes.” On Jan. 28, Johnson saw his dream come true when he opened District Clay, a new 2,000-square-foot ceramic and pottery studio in D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood (2414 Douglas Ave., N.E.). Johnson says it’s the first new ceramic teaching studio to open in D.C. in 20 years. Classes are offered in sculpture, tile and more and the space includes several kilns, wheels and other pottery accoutrements. Classes will be offered during the day, evenings and weekends. A discount is being offered this month in relation to the grand opening (details at Johnson says he sensed a demand when he realized other studios in the city frequently were full. “There is something almost soulful about turning a lump of clay into an elegant vase or mug,” the 54-year-old gay Redondo Beach, Calif., native says. “If you think about it, there are not many opportunities to make something with your own hands. I find it a very relaxing atmosphere, one where the outside world just fades away.” Johnson came to Washington 24 years ago and worked as a lobbyist. He and husband, Matt, live in Woodley Park. He enjoys gardening, bicycling, dog walking, reading, bread making and, of course, pottery, in his free time.

Keep charging.

What would you walk across hot coals for? My partner Matt. We have been in love since our second date and have never had a bad day. It sounds impossible but it’s true. It is miraculous for me. What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? That gay men have to be effeminate. What’s your favorite LGBT movie? “Milk.” Great political movie. What’s the most overrated social custom? I don’t know what the most overrated custom is but the most underrated is hugging. People should hug more. What trophy or prize do you most covet? I would love to have a piece of my pottery in a major museum collection. What do you wish you’d known at 18? I wish I had started doing pottery at 18 rather than at 40. At 18, I had no real idea what I wanted to do. Why Washington? I came here to get involved in public policy. I had no idea at the time what a great city Washington is. Coming from L.A., where you had to drive everywhere, to Washington, a city of real neighborhoods, was mind blowing in a very positive way.

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Love Songs THE





FEB 14












LuPone times two
Actress Patti LuPone makes two D.C. appearances this week. First, she speaks with Michael Kahn for “Classic Conversations with Michael Kahn,” a discussion series between Kahn and a notable actor about classical theater, at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F St., N.W.) Monday at 7:30 p.m. Then Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., LuPone joins her former “Evita” co-star Mandy Patinkin at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) for a reunion concert, “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin,” an engagement that runs through Feb. 23. LuPone is a Tony Award-winning actress known for her roles in the Broadway shows “Evita,” “Gypsy” and “Sweeney Todd.” She has also made appearances on the television shows “Glee” and “Army Wives.” Tickets for “Classic Conversations with Michael Kahn” start at $15. For more information, visit Tickets for “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin” range from $95-$150. For details, visit




Takei hosts evening of otherworldly music
“Star Trek” alum George Takei hosts Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s “SciFi Spectacular” at the Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Ln., North Bethesda, Md.) Thursday at 8 p.m. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra plays selections from “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” and John Williams’s “E.T.: Somewhere in Time.” Takei, who is openly gay, is also an LGBT rights activist. Tickets range from $46-$109. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit

Arena launches Summit discussion series

ALYSHA UMPHRESS and MARA DAVI in Signature’s ‘Beaches.’

Unlikely duo
Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.) presents the stage revival of hit movie “Beaches” Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. It runs through March. 23. The play is based on the 1985 novel by Iris Rainer Dart and was later adapted into the popular 1988 movie (a gay favorite) starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. The production, which chronicles the friendship between two women, stars Mara Davi as Bertie White and Alysha Umphress as Cee Cee Bloom. Tickets range from $29-$69. For more information, visit

Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks will host a series of panel discussions about theater at Arena Stage (1101 Sixth St., S.W.). The first is slated for Monday at 7 p.m. at Arena’s Kogod Cradle and will feature Arena’s Molly Smith, Ryan Rilette of Round House Theatre, Eric Schaeffer of Signature Theatre, Paul R. Tetreault of Ford’s Theatre and Paata Tsikurishvili of Synetic Theater. The discussions will focus on addressing challenges of the art form. Future installments are set for March 24 and April 28. Tickets are free but reservations are encouraged. Visit for details.


FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 31


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CARLOS CASTILLO in ‘La Senorita de Tacna.’

Aunt’s story re-imagined in poignant ‘Tacna’
By PATRICK FOLLIARD “The Young Lady from Tacna” is a play about creating stories. It’s also about memory, family and mysteryshrouded romance. Ingeniously constructed by Peru’s Noble laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, the action follows a writer in search of a love story as he moves from his present to a place of memories to an even more distanced place, mostly imagined. Seldom done in Washington, this poignant yet humorous work (performed in Spanish with English surtitles) is currently playing at GALA Hispanic Theatre in a superb production, adroitly staged by director José Carrasquillo, Tucked away in his cluttered study (anywhere in the world, 1980), middle-aged writer Belisario struggles to make literature out of the failed great passion of Mamaé, his long-deceased great aunt who died a 100-year-old spinster. He wonders why as a young woman she abruptly ended her engagement to a dashing Chilean officer, opting instead to live her life as a poor but loved relation, dependent on her cousin Carmen’s family for the remainder of her long life. It’s a secret she never revealed. In his struggle to recreate his aunt’s romance, Belisario relies on memories, time traveling from his study to his grandparents’ house in Lima circa 1950 where Mamaé, despite having already slipped into a screeching dementia, remains a strong force. The once-well off family’s resources are steadily diminishing and Belisario’s mother Amelia is caring for both Mamaé and her elderly parents. In exchange her brother pays her son’s law school tuition — a legal career for Belisario is her dream not his. It won’t happen. The writer imagines his aunt young again. She springs from her rocking chair; tosses aside the lacey shawl. He sees his aunt with her avid suitor, relieving excitement and disappointment. He creates tales surrounding her cancelled nuptials including a meeting with her betrothed’s formidable


“This is raw energy… Shirts on or off, this is what dance is all about and definitely not to be missed.”

(202) 467-4600
Tickets also available at the Box Office | Groups (202) 416-8400
This tour of Compagnie Käfig is made possible by a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. International Programming at the Kennedy Center is made possible through the generosity of the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts.

Tickets on sale now!

mistress and builds stories from fragmented memories like her alleged attachment to an ivory fan and her preference to attend Mass at a modest church in a nearby slum. Numerous quick changes in time and place are graceful and entirely lucid thanks mostly to talented gay director Carrasquillo. His staging is impeccable. He also elicits memorable performances from an able cast. Carlos Castillo is terrific as Belisario. A graying and disheveled character is a departure for out actor Castillo who typically plays younger parts. But he gives a nuanced performance — some of his best work to date. As Mamaé, Luz Nicolás is a marvel, seamlessly changing from ancient termagant to proud ingénue and back again. Marian Licha’s Carmen is sure of her place in the world, exuding confidence and kindness. As her husband Pedro, the reliably excellent Hugo Medrano subtly demonstrates the lighter side of decline. His character is slipping into a gentler, sometimes amusing dotage. Andrea Aranguren is wonderfully versatile as both the other woman and Belisario’s mother. Tim Pabon and Oscar Ceville are respectively convincing as Amelia’s brothers — the harried, responsible Agustin and the passionate but broke Cesar. The playwright creates (and the three players execute) the dynamic of caretaker siblings to the tee. And Victor Maldonado capably adds dimension to the role of the Disney princehandsome officer. Giorgos Tsappas’ sloped diagonal set provides a journey for memories turned into tales over times. At the top of the incline sits Mamaé’s rocking chair next to a large bare window. At the opposite lower end is Belisario’s cramped writing space. The back opens to the white trunks of Chekhovian Aspen trees evocatively lit by lighting designer Cory Ryan Frank. The GALA production is a beautifully rendered take on a somewhat difficult play.
‘THE YOUNG LADY FROM TACNA’/ ‘LA SEÑORITA DE TACNA’ Through March 9 Gala Hispanic Theatre 3333 14th Street, N.W., Columbia Heights $20-42 202-234-7174





Peter and the Starcatcher. Thru Feb 16. Orphie and the Book of Heroes. Thru Feb 23. Shear Madness. Thru Jun 30. Kennedy Center. 202-467-4600. Richard III. Thru Mar 9. Folger Theatre. 202-544-7077. Violet. Thru Feb 23. Ford’s Theatre. 800-982-2787. Virginia Opera: Ariadne auf Naxos. Feb 14-Feb 16. GMU Center for the Arts. 888-945-2468. Tribes. Thru Feb 23. Studio Theatre. 202-232-3300. The Best Man. Thru Feb 22. Keegan Theatre. 703-892-0202. The Young Lady from Tacna. Thru Mar 9. GALA Hispanic Theatre. 202-234-7174. Yellow Face. Thru Feb 23. Theater J. 800-494-8497. Seminar. Thru Mar 2. Round House Bethesda. 240-644-1100. The Waiting Room. Feb 14-Feb 22. Clarice Smith. 301-405-2787. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Thru Feb 23. Olney. 301-924-3400. Love, Faith and Other Dirty Words. Feb 19. JCCNV. 703-323-0880. Beaches. Feb 18-Mar 23. Signature Theatre. 703-820-9771. Twelfth Night. Thru Feb 16. Synetic Theater. 703-824-8060. Such a Life You’ve Given Me... and it’s not enough . Thru Mar 9. Teatro de la Luna. Gunston. 703-548-3092. Glassheart. Thru Feb 16. Rorschach Theatre. Atlas. 202-399-7993. Scapin. Thru Feb 16. Constellation Theatre Company. Source Theatre. 202-204-7741. Back To Methuselah. Feb 20-Mar 16. Washington Stage Guild. Undercroft Theatre. 240-582-0050. The Wedding Dress. Thru Mar 9. Spooky Action Theater. Universalist National Memorial Church. 202-248-0301.

Living the Dream… Singing the Dream. Feb 16. WPAS. Kennedy Center. 202-785-9733. Chad & Jeremy. Feb 20. The Barns at Wolf Trap. 877-965-3872. Peter Nero: Music of the Heart. Feb 15. GMU Center for the Arts. 888-945-2468. Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet. Feb 15. Clarice Smith. 301-405-2787. C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band. Feb 15. Artisphere. 703-875-1100.

Corcoran Gallery of Art. Question Bridge: Black Males. Thru Feb 16. NOW at the Corcoran – Mia Feuer: An Unkindness. Thru Feb 23. Alex Prager: Face in the Crowd. Thru Mar 9. American Journeys Visions of Place. Thru Sep 21. 202-639-1700. Folger Shakespeare Library. Shakespeare’s the Thing. Thru Jun 15. Ford’s Theatre. Abraham Lincoln and the Technology of War. Thru Jul 6. 202-347-4833. National Gallery of Art. Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections. Thru Mar 2. The Dying Gaul.. Thru Mar 16. 202-737-4215. National Geographic. Women of Vision. Thru Mar 9. One Cubic Foot. Thru Mar 31. A New Age of Exploration. Thru Jun 8. 202-857-7000. Museum of Women in the Arts. New York Avenue Sculpture Project: Chakaia Booker. Thru Mar 1. Judy Chicago: Circa ‘75. Thru Apr 13. Workt by Hand: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts. Thru Apr 27. 202-783-5000. The Phillips Collection. Duncan Phillips and New York Collections. Thru Feb 28. Jean Meisel: 50-65 Horizon Line. Thru May 4. 202-387-2151.

A N EV EN IN G WI TH PATTI L UP ONE & MA NDY PAT INKIN F EB 1 8 -F EB 23 . K E NNE D Y C E NTE R. 2 0 2 -4 6 7 -4 6 0 0. K E NNE DY-C E NTE R .ORG. Two of Broadway’s most venerated performers join again after their 1980 Tonywinning performances in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Evita. R O S A N N E C A SH F EB 1 4 . WPA S. G W L I SNE R AUDI TOR IU M. 2 0 2 -7 8 5 -9 7 3 2. WPAS.OR G . Her own thoughtful approach, combined with her roots and pop influences, has garnered her a Grammy, 12 Grammy nominations, and eleven No. 1 singles. G L O BA L GL IMP SE S SE R I E S F EB 1 4 -F EB 16 . NATI ONAL G E OG RAPH IC. 2 0 2 -8 5 7 -7 0 0 0. NG L I VE .OR G . This weekend you can view the five Oscar-nominated films for the 86th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and National Geographic Live. A reception will take place before or after each screening. W E A R E PR O UD TO P R E SE NT…. T HR U M A R 9 . WOOL LY MAMM OTH. 2 0 2 -3 9 3 -3 9 3 9. WOOL LY MAMM OTH.NET. One of The New York Times top 10 plays of 2012, We Are Proud to Present… is innovative, fast-paced, funny, and a wholly unique take on race, empathy, and the devastating consequences of our best intentions.

1200 First St. NE. NoMa Lobby Project. Thru Feb 22. Artisphere. Claire Briggs: #Coping. Thru Mar 15. Gary Kachadourian: Progress Report + Backgrounds. Thru Mar 21. C. Andrew Rohrmann: Undone. Thru Mar 30. 703-875-1100. Gallery plan b. Figures & Vistas / Works by Gordon Binder and Joyce McCarten. Thru Feb 16. Works by Regina Miele. Feb 19Mar 23. 202-234-2711. Goethe-Institut. Afrofuturism: Artists on Three Continents Explore ‘’Black to the Future’’. Thru Feb 28. 202-289-1200. Joan Hisaoka Gallery. A Window into the Mind’s Eye. Thru Mar 15. 202-483-8600. University of the District of Columbia. Post-Oil City: The History of the City’s Future. Thru Mar 1.

Krasnoyarsk Dance Company of Siberia. Feb 19. Strathmore. 301-581-5100.

Marcus Johnson and the Urban Jam Band. Feb 14. Newport Jazz Festival: Now 60. Feb 16. The Lomax Project: Jayme Stone, Bruce Molsky, Julian Lage & Margaret Glaspy. Feb 20. Strathmore. 301-581-5100. Angelique Kidjo. Feb 16. GW Lisner Auditorium. 202-994-6800.


FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 35

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DEAR MICHAEL, Valentine’s Day is here and I’m going to be celebrating with my partner of 15 years. We’ll go out for an intimate dinner and then … nothing. While our friends see us as the perfect couple — and in many ways we are — we never have sex anymore. We have a beautiful home, a garden, two children and a dog; enjoy snuggling on the couch while we watch a movie and cooking together; have lots to talk about, and are best friends; but the spark has been gone for some time. Is there any way around this? We’re not eager to open our relationship because we’re fearful of how it might affect our marriage and our family. We both miss sex and certainly find other people attractive. In fact, we find each other attractive — we’re both in great shape. But having sex somehow clashes with our relationship. I know this may sound crazy, but it seems strange to even think about being sexual with someone I love so much and feel so close to. Any ideas? MICHAEL REPLIES: The big message we get from our culture is that sex should stay as hot as it was when we initially got together with our partner. The implicit lesson is that something is wrong if we stop feeling that huge thrill. But sex does change after you’ve been with your partner for a while. You can’t keep feeling the same sizzling excitement that you felt when you first met, because the newness is gone. Newness is what generates a lot of the sexual heat at the outset of a relationship. This does seem like a major design flaw in our brains, if we’re interested in forming a long-term relationship. It’s almost cosmically funny that the more we invest in a relationship, the closer we get,

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and the more we love each other, the less spontaneous sexual attraction we may feel toward our partner. Whatever the biological reasons for this, it’s up to each of us to figure out some way to generate long-term excitement around sex with our partner if we want to stay together, long term. The first step is to accept reality: sex is not going to naturally be as steamy and irresistible as it was at the beginning. We all might take some time to mourn that loss, because easy steamy irresistibility is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it is totally glorified in our culture as the gold standard of sex. But it is just one way to have sex. And if you want a lasting monogamous relationship that includes sex, as opposed to having affairs, or a career of serial monogamy, you are going to have to discover a new way to have sex and a new meaning for sex in your relationship. How about sex for emotional connection? Sex for attachment? Sex for closeness? Sex to celebrate just being together? Not to say that sex in a long-term relationship cannot be recreational or highintensity. But expecting that the sex must always be hot in order to be worthwhile will lead you to be contemptuous of much of the sex that you have in your LTR. Not a helpful stance! Another point for you to consider: as couples get closer, sex may start to feel like too much closeness, and avoiding sex may be a way to keep some useful distance. If I were working with you both, I would want to explore how much each of you are really standing on your own as two separate individuals who are in a relationship with each other, versus being enmeshed, with your feelings and reactions all tangled up with each other. While enmeshment may sound appealing, and is easy to fall into when you are building a life and a family together, it takes the oxygen out of a relationship, leaving people feeling smothered and wanting their space. One likely outcome: no sex. An experienced couples therapist can help you sort this out. Finally, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned, resurrecting a sex life with your partner is bound to seem awkward. But it’s a damaging myth that great sex should just happen. There is nothing odd or unromantic about planning to have sex. I encourage you both to make this effort, and to expect things to be uncomfortable at the outset. Good luck to the two of you. Thanks for writing about this important and very common issue and happy Valentine’s Day!


FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 37

“A high-spirited revival of the best kind of old-school musical comedy.”
— The Washington Post
“ extraordinary show that should not be missed”

— MD Theatre Guide

SAVE $10 ON ADULT TICKETS! Use the Code H2SWB when ordering
on the Olney Theatre Center Mainstage

Spend an evening with Broadway’s

(currently appearing in Olney Theatre Centers’ production of How to Succeed in Business)


For Tickets & Performance Times: Call 301.924.3400 or visit
2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd • Olney, MD 20832

singing the classics from

Featuring Helen Hayes Award-Winner

Ticket Prices: Adults $35 Olney Theatre Center Members $25


Center for the Arts

2013–2014 SEASON

Visit us at

Peter Nero

Music of the Heart
Saturday, February 15 at 8 p.m. Since the 1960’s, Peter Nero has warmed the hearts of audiences around the world with his dazzling musical gifts and personable style. Join him–at this most romantic time of year–for an engaging concert that celebrates the music of romance as he plays pieces from a range of composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd Weber, the Beatles, Mozart, and more. $30, $52, $60

Max Raabe & Palast Orchester
The Golden Age
Sunday, March 2 at 4 p.m. You’re in a popular Berlin nightclub back in the 1920’s-1930’s. The smooth, impeccably dressed crooner with the silky voice is singing the current cabaret hits backed by the very fine orchestra… Irresistible elegant fun! Featured in Vogue before their Carnegie Hall appearance this past October, Max Raabe and Palast Orchester – classically trained and serious about the music, but not themselves – present a delightful concert quite unlike anything you’ve experienced before! $23, $38, $46 ff

Joffrey Ballet
American Legends
Friday, March 7 at 8 p.m.

Body and Soul

Saturday, March 8 at 8 p.m. The Center for the Arts is honored to welcome one of the world’s most well-known and respected dance companies. American Legends will feature Jerome Robbins’ Interplay, Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs and more. Body and Soul features works by some of today’s most brilliant choreographers. “Balletgoing rarely gets more rewarding, and the [Joffrey] dancers reach for – and often grasp – new levels of achievement.” (Chicago Tribune) Friday, $25, $42, $50 / Saturday, $25, $42, $50

ff = Family Friendly performances that are most suitable for families with younger children


888-945-2468 or

Located on the Fairfax campus, six miles west of Beltway exit 54 at the intersection of Braddock Road and Rt. 123. 38 • FEBRUARY 14, 2014 CALENDAR

E-mail calendar items to calendars@washblade. com two weeks prior to your event. Space is limited so priority is given to LGBT-specific events or those with LGBT participants. Recurring events must be re-submitted each time.

TODAY The Barns at Wolf Trap (1635 Trap Rd., Vienna, Va.) presents “Love and Kisses, Swings and Misses, A Valentine’s Day Celebration” performed by D.C. jazz band Chaise Lounge tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. For details, visit American University (4400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.) hosts “Lavender Languages,” an academic conference on language use in LGBT life, today through Sunday. Topics include the Sochi Olympics controversy, queer language and hip-hop, neoliberal homophobia, varieties of speech in the drag speech community and more. Tickets are $20-$30. For details, visit cas/anthropology/lavender-languages. Wellness, Alcohol and Violence Education Services (WAVES) at George Mason University (4400 University Dr., Fairfax, Va.) presents “The Vagina Monologues,” a play celebrating female sexuality, today and tomorrow at 8 p.m. in the Harris Theatre. Tickets are $25. For details, visit BreakfastClub presents “Love is a Battlefield,” an ‘80s dance party, at 18th and U Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., N.W.) tonight from 9 p.m.-midnight. ‘80s costumes are encouraged. Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) presents “A Very Kylie Valentine’s,” a dance party playing music by Kylie Minogue, tonight from 10 p.m.- 3 a.m. There is an open vodka bar from 10-11 p.m. SATURDAY, FEB. 15 The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents “Passion” at Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St., N.W.) today at 3 and 8 p.m. The chorus sings popular songs from Dolly Parton to Pink as well as songs from “Miss Saigon,” “La Traviata” and “The Marriage of Figaro.” Tickets range from $44-49. Tickets can be purchased online at gmcw.og.

Treashay Khan and Shauna Balenciaga, is tonight at the Upscale Ballroom (3900 Bexley Rd.,) from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Dress up in costume to compete in various categories for trophies and money. Categories include “RuPaul or Nah?,” for best looking drag queen, best looking transman, best looking butch and more. Lure D.C. presents “Bare I V’day Edition,” a Valentine’s ladies dance party, tonight at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Cover is $7 before midnight and $10 after. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit Rainbow Youth Alliance hosts a Valentine’s Day dance tonight at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville (100 Welsh Park Dr., Rockville, Md.) tonight from 7-11 p.m. The dance is for LGBT youth and allies ages 12-18 and will be chaperoned by Rainbow Youth Alliance adults. For more details, visit SUNDAY, FEB.16 Human Rights Campaign and Lure D.C. presents “Washington D.C. Her HRC” at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight from 8 p.m.-midnight. The night features all female DJs playing old school music. For details, visit WTF presents the 2014 HOMOlympics, an Olympics watch party with music, at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.). Doors open at 10 p.m. Admission is free before 11 p.m. and $5 after. Guests must be 21 and over. For details, visit MONDAY, FEB. 17 Queer for Christ, a young-adult LGBT Christian group, hosts a February happy hour at Larry’s Lounge (1836 18th St., N.W.) today from 7-9 p.m. For details, visit Us Helping Us (3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.) holds a support group for gay black men to discuss topics that affect them, share perspectives and have meaningful conversations. For details, visit TUESDAY, FEB. 18. Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts its weekly ”FUK!T Packing Party”

from 7-9 p.m. tonight. For more details, visit or Whitman Walker holds free and confidential HIV testing at Crew Club (1321 14th St., N.W.) today from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. For details, visit SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) hosts “Café SMYAL,” a fun event to get out of the cold, today from 4-5 p.m. Drink hot cocoa, play board games and make new friends. For more information, visit WEDNESDAY, FEB. 19 Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses selections from “Seminal: The Anthology of Canada’s Gay Male Poets” today at the American Foreign Service Association (2101 E St., N.W.) at 7 p.m. All are welcome. For details, visit The Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project presents an organ showcase today in the Concert Hall (2700 F St., N.W.) at 7 p.m. The showcase features students from various music schools all over the country. Admission is free. For details, visit THURSDAY, FEB. 20 The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts its monthly Poly Discussion Group at 7 p.m. People of all different stages are invited to discuss polyamory and other consensual non-monogamous relationships. This event is for new comers, established polyamorous relationships and open to all sexual orientations. For details, visit Rude Boi Entertainment hosts “Tempted 2 Touch,” a ladies dance party, at the Fab Lounge (2022 Florida Ave., N.W.) Doors open at 10 p.m. Drink specials $5 and vodka shots $3 all night. No cover charge. Admission limited to guests 21 and over. For more details, visit rudeboientertainment. SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) provides free and confidential HIV testing drop-in hours today from 3-5 p.m. For more information, visit MARIAH COOPER


The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs a romantic-themed concert twice on Saturday.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton hosts a tax preparation fair at Washington Convention Center (801 Mt. Vernon Pl., N.W.) this morning from 10 a.m.noon. Get help filling out a FAFSA form, receive housing and mortgage counseling, credit counseling and more. The fair is only for D.C. residents with income less than $52,000 a year whose earnings come from wages, salaries and pensions. Admission is free. For details, visit Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation at the Falls Church PetSmart (6100 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, Va.) at 11:45 a.m. You will be paired with a dog on a leash to walk around and play with. Wear casual clothes. For more information, visit “The Media Takeout Ball,” hosted by

It’s All About Love.
All members of More Light Presbyterians/Open Doors Chapter


FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 39

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PFLAG promotes the equality and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons, their families and friends through:
• Support to cope with an adverse society. • Education to enlighten an ill-informed public. • Advocacy to end discrimination and secure equal civil rights. Trained facilitators lead the Arlington Support Group and confidentiality is maintained. For further information about the Arlington Support Group, contact us at Our groups meet on the second Sunday of each month, from 3 – 4:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, at George Mason Drive & Route 50. A.L.Y. is a group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning Youth and Allies in grades 7-12. Our goal is to give LGBTQ youth a safe place to gather. Trained facilitators lead the youth group. Confidentiality maintained. For more info, contact: Our Washington DC Chapter of PFLAG may be reached at 202-638-3852.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is seeking a dynamic and results-driven Media and Public Relations Director with an outstanding track record of delivering national and specialist target media hits. Working closely with the Director of Communications, the position will help lead the organization’s outreach to the media and influencers in the media. This position will be based in Washington, D.C. with some travel. The Task Force is the country’s premier social justice organization fighting to improve the lives of LGBT people, and working to create positive, lasting change and A D V Eopportunity R T I S Ifor Nall. G P R O O F Please submit a cover letter describing your interest in being a member of the Task Force staff, a resume addressing your experience and qualifications relevant to the position responsibilities and three examples of your work. If possible, please submit the names, affiliations and contact information for three references. Applications submitted via e-mail for this position should be directed to; please write “Media and Public Relations Director” in the subject line. No phone calls, please. ADVERTISER SIGNATURE


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The Task Force is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, personal appearance, family responsibility, political affiliation or any other status protected by applicable law. Women, transgender people, veterans and people of color are encouraged to apply.

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Fight Fat this Winter 40 • FEBRUARY 14, 2014 SPORTIN’ IN D.C.

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DAVID LUTZ of TriOut, a gay subgroup of the D.C. Triathlon Club.

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“Like” us on Facebook.

New TriOut group plans Lost River weekend, Gay Games and more

In 2011, the D.C. Triathlon Club began a loosely organized effort to reach out to the large number of LGBT athletes in the area. In 2013, the club began a more formal outreach spearheaded by club members David Lutz and Jonathan Montet. This year, with its club member list swelling upwards to 1,500 athletes, the Club launched a pilot project to begin segmenting its athletes into affiliate triathlon teams. The first new affiliate is TriOut, which will consist of athletes from the LGBT community and their friends. Also launching soon is MoCo Mafia (Montgomery County). A D V E R T I S I“We N G thought P R O O about F forming our own ISSUE DATE: 02.14.14 SALES REPRESENTATIVE: BRIAN PITTS ( entity,” Lutz says. “But with so many great programs already in place at DCTri, this was REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Proof will be considered final and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of the best choice for us.” the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts NS omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is Athletes interested in joining TriOut will responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users GN can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or EVISIONS any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any receive the full benefits of the Club, $50 copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair /LOGO REVISIONS competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, membership fee and will receive a member or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the ADVERTISER SIGNATURE SIONS washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all By signing this proof you are agreeing to your contract obligations with the kit geared specifi cally to the TriOut athletes. liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred washington blade newspaper. This includes but is not limited to placement, by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations payment and insertion schedule. and warranties. “We are just launching this project and the support has been amazing,” Lutz says. “There are already 69 members on our Facebook page.” All club training events will be available to new LGBT team members along with some extra training rides, runs and swims to bolster an inclusive team feel. In the works for later in the summer is an intense training weekend in Lost River, W.Va., where attendees can expect to spend

a three-to-four day weekend cycling, running, swimming and recovering with yoga workouts. In addition to the club’s featured races, TriOut team members will compete in several LGBT-interest races. “We will be sending athletes to the D.C. Frontrunners Pride Run and the District of Columbia Aquatics Club’s Swim for Life,” Lutz says. “In August, we are hoping to send at least 10 members to the Olympic-length triathlon at the Gay Games in Cleveland.” Lutz competed in his second Ironman in Copenhagen last August followed a week later by an Olympic-length triathlon in Stockholm. He was awarded “Most Improved Triathlete” by DCTri for his accomplishments in 2013. Currently, the TriOut members are holding happy hours every second Thursday of the month and the location rotates around the various bars in the area. Coming up in March is the first quarterly mixer with multiple local LGBT sports teams, which will feature the D.C. Gay Flag Football League, the D.C. Frontrunners and TriOut. Interested athletes will also get a chance to talk to the triathletes one on one at the annual Team D.C. Sportsfest to be held in April. Over this past weekend, I was in attendance at the virtual Pride House event at the HRC for the Sochi opening ceremonies. I ran into Washington Wetskins water polo player Kris Prichard, who enthusiastically told me about training for his first triathlon with some of the inspiration coming from TriOut. Welcome to the Team D.C. family, TriOut. Stay tuned for the announcement of yet another LGBT sports team in the coming weeks.


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Feb. 22–Mar. 8 | Opera House
David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of WNO. General Dynamics is the proud sponsor of WNO’s 2013-2014 Season. WNO’s production of Moby-Dick is made possible through the generous support of Jacqueline Badger Mars Additional support is provided by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tickets on sale now! (202) 467-4600 Tickets also available at the Box Office | Groups (202) 416-8400

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42 • FEBRUARY 14, 2014


REVIEW AD FOR COPY AND DESIGN ACCURACY. Revisions must be submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Proof will be considered final and will be submitted for publication if revision is not submitted within 24 hours of the date of proof. Revisions will not be accepted after 12:01 pm wednesday, the week of publication.Brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) is not responsible for the content and/or design of your ad. Advertiser is responsible for any legal liability arising out of or relating to the advertisement, and/or any material to which users can link through the advertisement. Advertiser represents that its advertisement will not violate any criminal laws or any rgihts of third parties, including, but not limited to, such violations as infringement or misapporpriation of any copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, music, image, or other proprietary or propety right, false advertising, unfair competition, defamation, invasion of privacy or rights of celebrity, violation of anti-discrimination law or regulation, or any other right of any person or entity. Advertiser agrees to idemnify brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) and to hold brown naff pitts omnimedia llc (dba the washington blade) harmless from any and all liability, loss, damages, claims, or causes of action, including reasonable legal fees and expenses that may be incurred by brown naff pitts omnimedia llc, arising out of or related to advertiser’s breach of any of the foregoing representations and warranties.




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REAL ESTATE more properties on the market for a longer time in January 2014 over January 2013 in Mid-City, but fewer in D.C. overall. However, to put this all in perspective, there must be a six-month supply of homes on the market for it to be considered a “balanced” market between sellers and buyers. Dividing the average days on the market by 30 to obtain the number of months of supply of available homes, we can see that both D.C. overall and Mid-City have approximately a twomonth supply of homes on the market— making it clear that we are still in a seller’s market. (However, this figure is up from the fall season, when homes moved so quickly off the shelf that there was less than a onemonth supply.) Identifying winners and losers in this category depends on your point of view: if you

FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 45
buying options increased in zip code 20005, while they decreased in zip code 20002. Looks like the H Street district is heating up. The final comparison is sold price/original list price. Here, what’s being compared is how big a percentage of the original list price sellers are getting. The higher the percentage, the more we are in a seller’s market. The D.C. market has been in the 90+ percentage range for the last five years—even through the modest real estate decline we experienced in the District. Bargains are few and far between in D.C., and this is something that newcomers trying to buy a home here frequently learn the hard way by losing a number of their first offers. In this category, there wasn’t much different between D.C. overall and Mid-City from January 2013 to January 2014: Both experienced a .7 percent increase in the ratio of sold price to original list price, with the Mid-City ratio of 98.5 percent being 1.4 percent higher than D.C.’s 97.1 percent. (This means that MidCity homes sell for closer to asking price— surprise!) In this category, the big winners— at least from a seller’s perspective—were zip codes 20004 (Penn Quarter) and 20005 (Logan Circle), with 4.5 percent and 3.4 percent increases over January 2013. It’s worth pointing out that zip code 20005 had a sold price/ original list price ratio of 101.3 percent. This means that Logan Circle properties are selling for more than their asking price—even in the dead of winter. How is that possible? It means that 20005 properties are receiving multiple contract offers.

Mid-City in winter
Winners and losers in the January 2014 real estate market
By TED SMITH The books are closed on January 2014 real estate stats and, in general, it was a better month for market activity than January 2013. So let’s take a look at the numbers: First, comparing median sold prices, Heights, Mt. Pleasant) as the winner with 28 solds and a 35.3 percent increase. The big loser was zip code 20003 (Capitol Hill, Navy Yards) with a -2.8 percent decrease in median sold prices over January 2013. For active listings, Mid-City had a greater percentage increase in the number of properties on the market—from 387 in January 2013 to 463 in January 2014—for an increase of 19.6 percent in available properties in comparison to only a 5.4 percent increase for DC overall. Again, the big Mid-

Mid-City properties saw growth in median sold prices for January 2014 over January 2013 — $576,101 over $511,841. These figures are higher for both Mid-City and D.C. overall in either year; additionally, Mid-City median sold prices have a greater increase year over year than D.C.—by 12.6 percent compared to 11.6 percent for D.C. The big Mid-City winners in this category were zip code 20005 (Logan Circle) and 20004 (Penn Quarter), with 63.3 percent and 53.9 percent increases respectively. However, because these two zip codes had so few solds in January (a total of eight), it might be more accurate to designate zip code 20010 (Columbia

City zip code winner was 20010 (Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant) with a 78.3 percent increase in active listings, while the big loser was again zip code 20003 (Capitol Hill, Navy Yards) with a decrease of -34.8 percent in the number of active listings. Average days on the market is one indicator of the “speed of the market” and a general index of the seller’s market: the fewer the number of days on the market, the more the market is considered to be a seller’s market. Here, D.C. showed an -18.5 percent decrease in average days on the market, while Mid-City experienced a 35.3 percent increase. This means there were

are a seller, a lower number of days on the market is better because it means that there is less competition for your property; if you are a buyer, a greater number of days is better because it means you have more options from which to choose and sellers may be more willing to negotiate. So, for this category, winner/loser zip codes for sellers are 20002 (H Street, Atlas District, Trinidad) with a decrease of average days on the market of -66.1 percent over January 2013 and 20005 (Logan Circle) with an increase of average days on the market of 205.4 percent over January 2013. For buyers , the winner/ loser zip codes are just the opposite: your

Ted Smith is a licensed Realtor with Real Living | at Home specializing in Mid-City DC. Reach him at and follow him on, or @TedSmithSellsDC. You can also join him at free monthly seminars for first-time homebuyers or monthly tours of open houses in a different neighborhood each week. Sign up at

46 • FEBRUARY 14, 2014


‘I go home happy every day,’ says Yeme MeNGISTU of Universal Gear.

Universal Gear operations director long a popular face of community retail
By MARK LEE When local clothing retailer Universal Gear moved four blocks north on 14th Street last week, Yeme Mengistu made sure business was interrupted only one day. She and the staff packed up the store on Sunday night, moved on Monday and re-opened on Tuesday. That’s the high-energy effervescent personality that has earned her the affection of legions of store patrons over the years. “ I love ‘love’ and I love life,” she is known to say, failing to sound corny. “This is my dream job,” Mengistu explains, “I’m giggling 24 hours a day.” Known to many only by her first name, she’s a smart and sassy woman who easily wins friends with her quick smile, easy repartee and infectious attitude. Spanning 21 years of success under the stewardship of owner David Franco, Universal Gear is newly set up in a spacious street-level storefront in the new Harper apartment building at 1919 14th St., N.W., a half-block south of U Street. At the center of one of the city’s busiest commercial corridors, the new corner retail space offers floorto-ceiling windows on two sides, brightening the interior with light and connecting it to the bustling streetscape. Mengistu began working at Universal Gear a little more than a year after the original 17th and Q streets location opened in 1993. Living in her first apartment nearby, it hadn’t taken long for the 19-year-old Howard University nursing school student to become a familiar face in the neighborhood. Preceding short stints working on the patio at the former Trio Pizza adjacent to the namesake restaurant and at Java House across the street provided a mutual introduction. She would often host early-morning gatherings in her home after the area’s bars had closed. “It was a crazy time and I did it all,” she recalls of those halcyon days. “I was



Dwellings with

Sinking living room.

Valerie M. Blake

Associate Broker, GRI

(And I thought it had already sunk.)
Dupont Circle Office • 202.243.7700 (o) 202.246.8602 (c) •

a foreign-born young woman adopted by this gay neighborhood family while figuring life out,” she says, noting her Ethiopian heritage. Her parents sent her to D.C. at the age of 13 to attend school. Mengistu will briefly return to her homeland for two weeks this month to finalize conversion of her grandmother’s bequeathed estate into an orphanage – to be named “Love Mission.” Her voice cracks when describing the children who have lost their parents to HIV. “I always come back heavy-hearted,” she quietly offers, “now it is my time to give back.” When Mengistu landed a job as emergency room nurse following graduation, she thought her retail days were over. After six months “of the constant trauma coming through the door,” however, she discovered she “couldn’t handle the stress” of her chosen profession. Married to NASA photographer Chris Gunn and pregnant with their now 13-year-old daughter Blaine, she devoted herself to her offspring’s first two years. She kept in touch with Franco and then co-owner Keith Clark, accepting their invitation to return evenings and weekends while her husband covered childcare duties. Once her daughter began school, Mengistu again took on a full schedule. She later assisted in opening the former Rehoboth store and in the 2012 opening of the first of two New York City locations. Now company director of operations, Mengistu frequently travels north to oversee the Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen stores. The 45 storewide employees usually know when ‘Momma’ is coming,” she laughs. Most days, though, you’ll find Mengistu in D.C., constantly popping out from her office to chat with customers wanting to say hello. “I go home happy every day,” she points out, “the beneficiary of the same ‘retail therapy’ we provide our customers.” She’s also spreading a lot of love along the way.
Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail. com.


FEBRUARY 14, 2014 • 47

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LARGE 2BR/2BA CONDO in Shirlington to share avail. March 1st. Condo is furnished & BR can be rented partially furnished if wanted (bed & dresser). Unit also has full sized washer/ dryer. Assigned parking space is also included. $1000/month incl. utils. Call or Text David 202607-3853.

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