August 21, 2013 at 9:34 am EDT | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Queery: Denny Lyon
Denny Lyon, Nellie's Sports Bar and Grill, gay news, Washington Blade

Denny Lyon (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Regulars at Nellie’s Sports Bar know there’s always something going on there — a local sports league having happy hour on the roof, a Sunday drag brunch or a benefit for a local LGBT non-profit.

The coming days are no different — Nellie’s is one of the sponsors and “host bar” for the Gay Softball World Series, which is expected to bring thousands to the city next week.

Denny Lyon is Nellie’s director of operations. He joined the bustling business last year and says he was brought on in large part for his restaurant experience.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” Lyon says. “I started in gay businesses and clubs back in the ‘70s and now I’m back.”

Lyon, who was born in Durham, N.C., has lived many places — Buffalo, N.Y.; Indianapolis; Brussels; Belgium; Minnesota; Ann Arbor, Mich.; San Francisco and more, but considers Washington his home, having spent most of his adult life here.

He and Angel Lizana, his partner of three-and-a-half years, live together in Falls Church, Va. Lyon enjoys gardening and cooking in his free time.


How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I’ve been out since college.  It’s been so long I don’t remember having a hard time telling anyone.  It was the rebellious years so it was expected.


Who’s your LGBT hero?

The Stonewall drag queens.


What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

This is very difficult for me to answer.  From 1972 to 1985 and briefly in the ‘90s, I worked for the company that owned and ran the Lost and Found and The Pier. They were both fabulous in their day and in their own way.


Describe your dream wedding.

I’ve never thought that I would have one. Although now, it would be the beach in P’town with Angel.


What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Immigration reform.


What historical outcome would you change?

The 2000 election. If Gore had won …


What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.


On what do you insist?



What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I don’t Tweet. Happy Birth Date to Shannon, my niece and goddaughter.


If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“The Long and Winding Road”


If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Stay just the same.  It’s taken me this long to get where I am.


What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

There must be something but I have no idea what it must be.


What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Stop being so strident. Learn how to listen and compromise.


What would you walk across hot coals for?

My family and friends.


What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

Pride footage/photos of drag queens and leathermen. Everyone thinks that’s what we all are.


What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Broken Sky.” It’s Mexican with virtually no dialogue.


What’s the most overrated social custom?

I don’t think there is one. I feel there are a lot of social customs that have gone by the wayside that I wish would come back. Etiquette and politeness cannot be overrated. Whatever happened to writing “thank you” notes?


What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Already got it. This year’s RAMMY for Nellie’s.


What do you wish you’d known at 18?

How important my father would become to me in later life.


Why Washington?

It was my family’s home when I was growing up. As a child, I’d visit my grandmother every summer for two weeks. I fell in love with its beauty and charm. I used to love the streetcars. It’s changed quite a bit obviously but I love it.


Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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