Mario Ward loves Kings Dominion and even had a season pass when he lived in Richmond, Va.
Spinal issues prevent him from riding rides to the degree he did years ago, but he still enjoys the experience.
“Overall the atmosphere of amusement parks excites me and I get life seeing how people express themselves,” the 39-year-old, Memphis, Tenn., native says.
Brother Help Thyself has its annual Pride Night at Kings Dominion on Saturday, Aug. 19 from 3 p.m.-midnight at the park in Doswell, Va. It’s a huge event — nearly 800 people have RSVP’d on Facebook. Tickets are $41. Visit kingsdominion.com and enter promo code “pridenight.” Full details at brotherhelpthyself.org.
Ward, a new board member with the organization, says its services have added urgency in the current administration. He says its financial support to non-profit LGBT and HIV/AIDS groups in the region are invaluable.
“In the current political state, many of those organizations are losing funding and many are resources to some of our most vulnerable Americans,” Ward says.
Ward works by day in the Office of Legal Victims of the Executive Office for the United States Attorneys. He returned to Washington in 2011 with the U.S. Navy after a stint here previously from 1998-2004.
Ward is in a long-distance relationship and lives in Anacostia. He enjoys traveling, music, reading, walking, working out and volunteering in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have officially been out since I was about 24. The hardest person to tell might have been a best friend in my hometown at the time. I feel that my sexuality defines only so much of me and might not be as important as my other easily identifiable identities.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
This is a hard one! I suppose my LGBT hero may not have been born yet or maybe I just can’t pinpoint them.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Current best: the new D.C. Eagle (you can catch me there behind the bar on occasion) and Green Lantern. Past: Tracks, the Delta, Edge/Wet.
Describe your dream wedding.
Invited friends and family, at some unconventional location such as the deck or a rooftop like at the D.C. Eagle. A part of me is fine just going to the Justice of the Peace (or having a friend or family member officiate the ceremony) and then going on an amazing honeymoon.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Health care, civil rights and rights of victims.
What historical outcome would you change?
Events that have occurred as of Nov. 8, 2016 and Jan. 20, 2017.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
At the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, a then 64-year-old Grace Jones wearing a red and black PVC leotard with a floor-length corset bustle, topped off with a sky-high headdress while hula hooping to “Slave to the Rhythm.” Unapologetically being her, keeping up and never stopping the action (all things I can relate to).
On what do you insist?
On asking questions when I don’t understand enough to move forward in conversations or make important decisions, especially when interacting with people I respect and/or love.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Facebook “Miss Maryland Crabs” as I was watching “Hairspray.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“This All REALLY Happened!!”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Not a damn thing, I am perfect just the way I am.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
The different levels of the spiritual realm.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Don’t just speak about diversity (try inclusion), listen (don’t take things personally) and remember what the fight is all about. Continue to lay the groundwork for the future.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
To save a loved one from harm.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Promiscuity without accountability.
What is your favorite LGBT movie?
Currently “Moonlight” with a close second being “Cruising.”
What is the most overrated social custom?
Many things related to gender roles and handshaking as a greeting. I prefer hugs. OK, maybe not at work.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
There aren’t many but if people were trophies, I think they all know who they are.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I would be 40 in the blink of an eye.
Washington is one of a handful of destinations in our country where I like to think people tend to at least understand and more often than not explore inclusion of all people, which is a real strength. It’s not perfect of course, but neither am I. We also have three airports and it’s convenient for lots of stuff I like such as day trips to the beach or weekend camping trips.