Dan Melman is vice president of parks and public realm at the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District.
This 500-acre neighborhood includes eight acres of parks that are programmed with concerts, movies, fitness classes and festivals.
Melman and his husband Ed are parents of twin sons, now 16. They are deeply engaged in their school life, which includes sports and increasingly difficult homework.
Their two dogs were not acquired to replace their teenage sons who leave for college in 15 months.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out for more than 25 years. Initially telling my parents was difficult. I had been in a relationship (with my now husband) for perhaps a year and the challenge of keeping that important portion of my life closed off from my parents certainly outweighed any fear of rejection.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I think out politicians such as Barney Frank paved the way for the very important activism that followed.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I will give the nod to Tracks, both for the many fun nights I had there and also because I now work in that neighborhood so many years afterwards. Being part of transformation of an area once known for warehouse clubs into a vibrant community of homes, shops and parks is very rewarding.
Describe your dream wedding.
We nailed it on roughly our 20th anniversary. Our sons were our best men. We were surrounded by friends and family on a beautiful night that included a meaningful service and a great celebration.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Second chances. I supervise a program that has allowed returning citizens to engage in meaningful work and re-establish themselves with their family and in the community. Check it out at HYPERLINK “http://rwwdc.org/”rwwdc.org.
What historical outcome would you change?
Given the sleep I’ve lost worrying about so many issues dear to me, I’ll say the election results. The country has started down a pathway that seems very out of character.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I remember the death of “The Real World’s” Pedro Zamora well because I had met him. He was on the board of my work organization at the time. He was a charismatic young man who put himself out in the public to change opinions about HIV/AIDS. He really accomplished a lot and was younger than me. He was taken too soon.
On what do you insist?
Some humor in most things. I think it gives perspective. I’ve been engaged in health decisions for family members that can actually be life-or-death decisions. Most everything else is going to work out.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I was amplifying a post about the achievements of one of the teams at my sons’ school. Several family friends had a really great weekend of competition.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“You Can Get Here from There if You Make Your Own Way”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would question why scientists were not studying how to increase compassion and caring.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I have an internal moral compass to which I try to adhere. I have hope that everything else beyond my control is going to work out OK.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Include everyone. While the movement has added more letters and in some ways has become more fragmented, we need to bring everyone forward together.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My sons, my husband, my family and friends. All the material things can be replaced or preserved in memories.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Materialism. Portions of our community are targeted and valued for their power as consumers. I think the history of activism, social justice and caring are unfortunately overlooked.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I have a long-standing joke with my husband about André Téchiné and “Wild Reeds,” which we never saw, but seemed to be previewed extensively in front of many mediocre movies we actually did see. I think I made us go to a bad sci-fi movie over “Wild Reeds” back in the day and then it closed.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Tolerance and equal time for opinions science or society have already settled. For me as a parent, the issue of marriage and parenting are settled. I don’t think there needs to be a counter-point to the dangers of smoking or climate change.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
A good night’s sleep.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Enjoy everything and learn from everything if you can. With 18 far in the rear-view mirror, I have few regrets and was shaped by trying new things.
Washington has all the benefits of bigger cities but in many ways it is a small town. I love running into friends in unexpected places.