Mara Levi has made several shifts in her adult life. She came out in 2000 and was in a long-term relationship for five years, which found her and her ex moving from Massachusetts to D.C. where she lived for five years.
Frustration in that relationship — which ended in mid-2008 — inspired many of the songs on her latest album, “We Listen to Fools,” which dropped in October. She’s touring the album now — look for a D.C. show with her band the Pushovers on Feb. 26 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (details here) and will be in the Midwest this month. It’s her third project.
Levi, a veteran performer at Capital Pride, Phasefest and many D.C. venues, moved to Brooklyn in November 2009 to be with her new girlfriend/fiance, Meredith who, at the time, was in law school there. Levi is also continuing her education — she’s in a graduate program at New York University and plans eventually to teach music. She hasn’t given up on the touring musician/singer-songwriter lifestyle, but says several years of breaking even — an accomplishment, she says — gave way to some practical considerations.
“I consider myself a pretty accomplished musician but I’ve never said I was good at marketing, business, all those other important components that go into it,” Levi says. “You start thinking about savings and wanting to have kids and all those things that are just not realistic if you’re breaking even.”
The Shaker Heights, Ohio, native is still friendly with her ex and spends time in Washington visiting the two cats they had together — Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge.
Levi enjoys word games, web design and carpentry in her spare time. She likes to relax on the beach in Mexico.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
My family was hard to tell, not because I was concerned about their reactions, but because they were the first people I told. After that, and after they reacted with openness and love, I didn’t really worry about coming out to other people.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
My Uncle Jeff. We haven’t talked a ton about gay things, but I know he has done a lot of political work to make being gay easier for all of us, and he always set a fantastic example for how being gay can be an important part of your life, but also how wonderful it is to do good things for all people.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Phase 1. Always my favorite, always welcoming to all, and always red.
Describe your dream wedding.
I’m planning it right now. It involves flamingos and smoke machines.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Social justice in education.
What historical outcome would you change?
The ninth game of the 1997 World Series. Specifically the ninth inning, because that’s where the Indians lost it.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
When the Pushovers (my band) played at the 9:30 club!
On what do you insist?
Fairness. Life can be fair if we all make it so.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Vamonos al Mexico. (Not sure if it was correct Spanish grammar, but it’s what I posted.)
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Just a Few More Miles”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
You mean change sexual orientation so that gay people could un-gay themselves (or vice versa)? I would lobby to remove science from schools because clearly science would be a waste of time in that scenario.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
A universe of love and compassion.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Sometimes compromise and baby steps are important, but sometimes making a stand on principle and drawing a line in the sand is equally important.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My family, my friends, my pets and a plantain enchilada with mole sauce.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Wait, there are gay stereotypes? I thought we were all open-minded individuals who saw individual expressions of sexuality as enriching personality traits, not a defining characteristic. We’re not?
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“But I’m a Cheerleader”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Fashion. Give me a pair of sweatpants, some comfy shoes and a T-shirt and I’m happy as a pig in a puddle.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The Nobel Prize for chemistry. I keep coming so CLOSE!
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
How (and why) to network.
D.C. is small but active, friendly, clean, easy to get around and clean (yes, a second mention was necessary). I miss living in D.C. very much and hope to come back some day.