Best House of Worship: Foundry United Methodist Church
1500 16th Street, NW
Best Spa/Salon: Bang Salon/Aura Spa
1519 15th Street, NW
Aura Spa/Bang Salon Metropole
1517 15th Street, NW
Best Men’s Clothing Store: Universal Gear
1529 14th Street, NW
Best Gym: Vida Fitness
Best Theater: Arena Stage
1101 6th Street, SW
Best LGBT-owned Business: Hank’s Oyster Bar
Best LGBT Social Group: Burgundy Crescent Volunteers
Best Sports Team: Just the Tip Stonewall Kickball
Just the Tip is one of many hilariously named teams in the Stonewall Kickball league.
Stonewall Kickball, led by Martin Espinoza and Mark Gustafson, gives about 470 participants a chance to play and raise money for the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community. The league was started after Espinoza and Gustafson were turned off by other leagues because of their competitiveness and homophobia.
Games are played on Sunday afternoons in Stead Park with drinks before at JR.’s (1519 17th St., N.W.), and afterward at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.). Wednesday nights are devoted to Open Bar and Penny Wars, a fund-raising competition between teams.
Stonewall Kickball is holding an All-Starts Game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. between JR.’s Bar and Cobalt. The teams’ rosters are posted on the Facebook event page. One of the refs will be from Just the Tip and JR.’s will feature two Just the Tip players.
For more information on Stonewall Kickball, visit the league’s page, stonewallsports.com/kickball or their Facebook group. (JE)
Best Art Gallery: Phillips Collection
Originally called the Phillips Memorial Art Gallery, The Phillips Collection was opened to the public in 1921 by Duncan Phillips and his mother Eliza, in memory of his father and brother.
Phillips served as the museum’s director until he died in 1966. His wife, Marjorie, an artist herself, took over as director after his death and their son, Laughlin, succeeded her.
The museum’s permanent collection features more than 3,000 works ranging from masterpieces of French impressionism and American modernism to contemporary art from artists such as Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse and Georgia O’Keeffe. The Phillips has the world’s largest, most significant collection of works by Arthur Dove and the largest American collection of works by Pierre Bonnard. (JE)
1600 21st Street, N.W.
Best Comedy Club: D.C. Improv
D.C. Improv hasn’t changed a lot since it opened its doors 20 years ago. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the place you go if you’re looking for the old school comedy club experience. The venue is tight, the bar food is unremarkable and the drinks are fine. Luckily the talent can be amazing. Of course, there’s always the chance that a comic will bomb. But that’s part of the fun, right?
Located on Connecticut Avenue below Dupont Circle, D.C. Improv has drawn big names over the years (Ellen DeGeneres, Dave Chappelle), and continues to book established and emerging comics. Upcoming acts include Chris Coccia and Ari Shaffir. It also consistently promotes gay acts and gay-themed shows.
Note to the bashful: The place is small, so sit as far from the stage as possible. These comics will make you part of their act (reporter speaks from experience). (PF)
1140 Connecticut Ave. NW
Best Home Furnishings: Miss Pixie’s
Pixie Windsor opened Miss Pixie’s in Adams Morgan in 1997; in 2005 she settled into the current location and just finished a renovation after signing a new five-year lease.
The renovation, among other things, opened up the sightlines in the store allowing customers to more easily see and shop the treasures she brings into the store.
“The back room no longer looks like a place to put the tables, instead it is welcoming and encourages the customer to continue shopping,” she says.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is the bright pink storefront. And while the contents of the store always change, it will always be filled with off-the-beaten-path items that appeal to 20-40 something Washingtonians who don’t necessarily want the same old same old in every room of the house.
Windsor recommends keeping an eye on the Miss Pixie’s website (misspixies.com) for fun and exciting things, like design seminars, a chance to decorate the store bathroom and she may have let it slip that HGTV may have emailed recently. (JH)
1626 14th Street NW
Best Second-Hand Shop: Buffalo Exchange
Buffalo Exchange offers a distinctly New Age slant to the traditional used clothing store.
Buyers and sellers get a fair price for a wide variety of vintage and contemporary fashions. But founders Kerstin and Rebecca Block also emphasize the environmental advantages of the resale fashion industry. Buffalo Exchange promotes itself as a sustainable business that protects the environment by reusing and recycling clothing.
LGBT customers also value Buffalo Exchange for its sense of fun and are staggering to the store to be part of the Celebrity Zombie Invasion now underway at the store. (BTC)
1318 14th Street Northwest
Best Nonprofit: Whitman-Walker Health
Since 1973, Whitman-Walker Health has been providing high-quality and culturally sensitive care to Washington’s LGBT and HIV/AIDS community. It began operations as an offshoot of the Washington Free Clinic and offered services in the basement of the Georgetown Lutheran Church. Today, it offers medical and legal services to thousands of clients from state-of-the-art medical facilities in the District.
The clinic gets its name from two queer Civil War-era health activists — celebrated gay 19th century poet Walt Whitman who came to Washington in December 1862 to care for his wounded brother George and remained for several years to tend to injured soldiers and veterans and Dr. Mary Edwards Walker who graduated from Syracuse Medical College in 1855, the only woman in her class. Denied an officer’s commission because of her gender, Walker volunteered her services as a surgeon and worked in a variety of Army hospitals. She wore a modified military uniform that included trousers, a man’s coat and two pistols. (BTC)
1701 14th St., NW
Best Rehoboth Business: Proud Bookstore
Opening and operating a small business is never easy — especially in recent years with the economic downturn — so congratulations to all of this year’s nominees in this category: Annie’s Bananies, Frogg Pond, Royal Treat and Stingray Sushi.
And hats off to winner Jacques LeClair, owner of Rehoboth’s Proud Bookstore, for opening a gay bookstore and not only surviving the recession, but thriving. Not long after opening, the store moved into a larger space and is filled with LGBT-themed books, gifts, cards, T-shirts and more. Jacques himself is usually behind the counter ready with a friendly welcome for visitors and locals alike. The store has quickly become a gathering place for locals to grab a newspaper and catch up on the latest happenings. (KN)
149 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
Best Local Blog: DCist
Everybody loves DCist.com. Or so it seems. The local blog has won readers’ favorite from Washington City Paper, the Washingtonian and now the Blade.
“Generally speaking, I’m incredibly flattered,” says DCist editor-in-chief Martin Austermuhle. “As simple as it sounds, I like it when people read what we do and enjoy it. It’s very nice coming from the Blade too — it’s a paper I’ve always liked a lot.”
Around since 2005, DCist gets about 50,000 unique hits a day. With two full-time employees and about 30 contributors, the blog covers everything from news to food to the arts. Its staff supported same-sex marriage in D.C.
“As much as D.C. is seen as a center of influence, at heart it’s a small town,” says Austermuele. “That said, there’s never a day that we’re not learning something about a city that we’re convinced we’ve already figured out. (PF)
Best Hotel: Donovan House
Located on Thomas Circle, Donovan House projects sophistication and urban panache in a sea of more style-challenged accommodations.
But Donovan House is more than a pretty face. As a Kimpton Hotel, the gay-friendly Donovan House enjoys a longstanding relationship with the LGBT community, and can boast a 100 percent score on the Human Rights Campaign Equality Index for the last 10 years.
Founded in San Francisco in 1981 at the height of the gay Mecca’s AIDS crisis, Kimpton Hotels lost a lot of employees to the disease, prompting the company to support LGBT organizations prior to other corporations, says Donovan House General Manager Mark Jennings. Kimpton Hotels regularly partners with the Red Ribbon Campaign in raising money to help nonprofit groups nationwide promote HIV awareness and prevention. (PF)
1155 14th Street, NW
Best Theater Production: ‘The Normal Heart’
“The Normal Heart” by playwright-cum-activist Larry Kramer came to Arena Stage this summer. To see a faultless production of Kramer’s very political account of the harrowing early days of the AIDS crisis performed so close to the Capital building was thrilling.
Staged by New York director George C. Wolfe, it featured inspired performances by Patrick Breen as Ned Weeks (a slightly less angry onstage version of Kramer) and handsome Luke Macfarlane as Felix, Ned’s beatific dying lover. TV’s Patricia Wettig was frustration incarnate as the dying men’s doctor, furious with the establishment’s refusal to fund those on the front line. Chris Dinolfo, a local actor who is gay, made an impact as young David, the first character in the play to die from AIDS.
Almost three decades after its premiere, Kramer’s beautiful protest/memorial conjures up the terror and devastation surrounding the onset of what was then informally called the gay plague. Today Kramer’s play feels less angry. Mostly it’s heartbreakingly sad. (PF)
Best Yoga Studio: Yoga District
Whether you’re looking to do the downward dog for the first time or hone already considerable yogi skills, there’s something for you at Yoga District. With numerous classes focusing on everything from toning to alignment to flexibility, Yoga District promises practices that are relevant to your needs whatever your experience level.
Founded by Jasmine Chehrazi, Yoga District is a local cooperative of yoga studios located in Dupont Circle; H Street, NE; Bloomingdale; 14th Street Corridor and downtown. The studios are famously no frills and their classes respect both the needs of the individuals as well as the group.
Popular with vast swathes of yoga loving locals, Yoga District offers affordable and by-donation classes in community-run yoga centers committed to eco-friendly practices led by knowledgeable instructors. Since its inception, Yoga District’s mission has been that every being deserves the holistic benefits of yoga as a practical tool of empowerment, health and physical fitness. (PF)
1635 Connecticut Ave., NW
(and other locations)
Best Women’s Clothing Store: Proud Threads
Misty Branch says she and her girlfriend, Sarah Moecker, saw a need for high-quality, non-rainbow-themed LGBT clothing.
“So we decided to do something about it,” the owner of online women’s clothing store Proud Threads says.
For now, Proud Threads primarily sells T-shirts mostly for gay women online and at Pride festivals. Their website (proudthreads.com) shows a selection of cute T-shirts and baseball shirts featuring clever slogans and graphics, playfully celebrating LGBT pride in a hip, quirky way.
Up and running since May, Proud Threads is still in its early days. Branch says getting started has had its bumps. “We began with a lot of designs that we’ll never, never show anyone. Sarah is the designer and I’m her ruthless critic. At first she didn’t like it but later she stopped taking it personally and the product has improved.” (PF)