When Jonathan Blumenthal finds a hobby or passion, he likes exploring it with other gay people. He’s started two groups to do just that.
Back in 2001, the gay singles volunteer group he used to work with had disbanded and his relationship with Eric Cohen, whom he’d met volunteering, had rendered him ineligible for it anyway. So he started Burgundy Crescent Volunteers, a booming group that has about 5,000 on its e-mail list and never has trouble finding people to staff its efforts.
“It’s a nice way to give back to the community and to get involved,” he says. “It’s also a nice way to meet people and create a social life and also a way to feel like you’re giving something back.”
And last year he became interested in photography and started GayParazzi, a group for photographers such as himself.
“I just enjoy being around other gay people,” he says. “Gays are more fun than straight people.”
By day, the 42-year-old Long Island native is a research psychologist with the National Institutes of Health. He came to Washington in 1997 after going to school in Pittsburgh and Montreal.
He and Cohen, whom he met in 1999, got married in September. He enjoys photography in his free time and relaxes by spending time with his partner and their dog, Jasper. They live in Silver Spring.
For more information on Burgundy Crescent and a complete schedule of social and volunteer opportunities with the group, visit burgundycrescent.org. (Blade photos by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Twenty years and my parents because I wasn’t sure how they’d react.
However, had I known mom would soon thereafter become president of
PFLAG Long Island and then later star in a TV commercial to support
marriage equality in New York, it probably would have been a little easier.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Frank Kameny. We have all benefited from all the work he has done
in his lifetime to further equal rights. BCV had the privilege a few
years back of helping to get the outside of his home ready to be
designated as a D.C. Historic Landmark. We were also able to provide
volunteers for many events over the years that honored his work and
protected his signs and papers. With so much accomplished, may he now
rest in peace.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
To be honest, Eric and I live in the suburbs and are not ones to stay
out late. However, one of our favorite things to do is grab ice cream
from Larry’s and people watch in Dupont Circle.
Describe your dream wedding.
Personal, and intimate. As you can imagine, since being involved with
GayParazzi, photography has become a real interest of mine, so a good
photographer is a must. Eric is learning to play guitar, so a good
classical guitarist is essential also. Luckily, we had all of this
(plus an amazing cake) in September when we got married in New York
with our immediate families.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Pet adoption. Our basset hound Jasper was adopted from Basset Rescue
Of Old Dominion (BROOD). I regularly volunteer with other BCV
members at Lost Dog and Cat Rescue. Unfortunately, Eric forbids me
from adopting a dog unless it is a basset hound. His whole family has
What historical outcome would you change?
Proposition 8. Once you fight for, and get the right to marry, I
think you feel even more sympathetic for those who do not have the
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Neil Patrick Harris singing “It’s not just for gays anymore” at the Tonys.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
And that concludes the litany of wedding-related status updates (until
9/25/12). The comments were mostly of disbelief.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“What to expect when you’re not expecting”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Wonder how soon it will be before straight people figure out we had
the better deal all along.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Not much. I usually find myself focused on the here and now.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
If you need volunteers, give me a ring.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Again, dark chocolate.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Gay men are drama queens and love to dance. I can’t dance.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” Nick Adams made
the Broadway show even better.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Wrapping gifts in pretty paper. Eric gets his gifts in a brown paper bag.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Any prize that comes with dark chocolate.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
What a great experience it is to be gay and be part of the LGBT community.
There is so much to do in and around the city, the LGBT community is
large, diverse, and friendly, and because it has so many non-profits,
it is a great place to run an organization that supplies volunteers.