When Nicholas Baatz was told not to re-enlist in the Marines as he’d planned after being outed in 2005 — his tour was up in five months and he claims it would have taken military brass longer to have him kicked out under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — it was a crush that forced him to rethink his career path but he sees it now as a roundabout blessing.
“I thought about re-enlisting once they got rid of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ but I really love what I’m doing now and where life has taken me, so I don’t want to give that up,” he says.
Baatz, known as Charger Stone in D.C. bear circles, runs D.C. Bear Crue which has several events but is mostly known for its 6-11 p.m. weekly Friday evening happy hour at Town (dcbearcrue.com). He also manages Unleashed Massage Studio in Northeast Washington.
Baatz came out after a two-year marriage to a woman failed. He and partner Scott Gunn, a cop in Anne Arundel County he met in 2011, plan to get married next May. Baatz proposed at Bear Happy Hour.
The 32-year-old Groton, Conn., native lives in Hyattsville, Md., with Gunn and their three Great Danes and one German Shepherd — Angel, Lucky, Misty and Tommy.
Baatz spent time in Japan and Iraq during his military years. He enjoys his motorcycle and cleaning in his free time (“I’m a little OCD, so I can’t relax unless everything is in its place”). He plans to graduate in the fall from DeVry University with a degree in technical management.
(Blade photo by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
My first boyfriend outed me to my family and outed me to the Marine Corps. That was in 2005. The hardest thing was admitting it to my mother. Once she knew, I didn’t care who else did.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I met a lot of people who have done great things for the community, but I don’t actually have anyone in particular.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Bear Happy Hour has always been home since I came out. And I’m proud to have been able to manage that event for the past three years.
Describe your dream wedding.
When I think about Scott and I getting married, it’s not the wedding itself I think about. I think about the people who would be there. I would love for my very conservative Baptist family to be there to support me. Not because they think being gay is OK (because they will never believe that), but just to support me in the fact that I’ve found someone I want to be with for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, though I’m closest to my mother more than any other family member, I doubt she will even be there for it.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I think we as a community spend so much time focusing on “our rights” or the attitude that we are “owed” something, that we forget the simple things like just treating each other with respect.
What historical outcome would you change?
In 2005 when my first boyfriend outed me to the Marine Corps I had no idea what to do. I had a few months left on an eight-year contract and they told me to not reenlist or they would kick me out under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” If I knew then what I know now about the support structure for the LGBT community in the armed forces, I would have stayed in. But I was scared, alone, and had no one to go to for help. I didn’t know anything about the community back then. The flip side to that is that if I would have stayed in I wouldn’t be where I’m at now and I wouldn’t have met my fiancé, or owned two small business, or be running the Bear Happy Hour. So I guess maybe I should be thanking him?
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Oh god, pop culture — most memorable? I would have to say no clue. Love the music, ignore the people.
On what do you insist?
I insist that people stay in between their own white dotted lines on the road and use their blinkers when changing lanes. I have no problems getting out of the car and explaining to you why I think you shouldn’t have a driver’s license at the next red light.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Facebook: “Apparently (so I overheard) real men drive Miatas.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Rumor Has It: This one time …”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Not a damn thing.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I grew up in a Baptist church and was heavily involved in the church until I was 24. I guess you could say I am a questioning Christian. I believed all my life that being gay was wrong, and here I am. So what else is wrong?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Be better at it than the opposition.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
I’d do it for a couple million.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That for some reason being gay equals “I am a big black woman stuck in a twink’s body…. GUUUUURRRRRL!!!” Of course we perpetuate the stereotype so we should be blaming ourselves for it.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“A Dirty Shame”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Putting the seat down on the toilet. Honestly — you’re a big girl, you can put it down yourself.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I don’t really care too much about trophies or prizes. I have a few but I couldn’t really care less.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Invest in Apple and Living Social.
I was stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico when I was outed. I found support in the bear community so I made D.C. my home.