Virginia – Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights http://www.washingtonblade.com America's Leading LGBT News Source Fri, 21 Sep 2018 19:46:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Va. still getting its Pride on http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/21/nova-pride-virginia/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/21/nova-pride-virginia/#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 12:45:58 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=48293591 Events coming up for Richmond, Centreville

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NOVA Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

NOVA Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Virginia Pride and NOVA Pride close out September with their celebrations. 

Virginia Pride, presented by Capital One, will be on Brown’s Island (S Seventh St., Richmond, Va.) on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. The free, family-friendly event will feature vendors, food, activities and entertainment. For more information, visit vapride.org. 

The fifth annual NOVA Pride is at Bull Run Special Events Center (7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville, Va.) on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Children can enjoy games such as glow in the dark capture the flag, giant Jenga and giant Twister. There will also be team sports and arts and crafts. Performers include Crys Matthews, Wicked Jezabel, Heather Mae, DJ Enzik and Colour Theory. Transgender advocate Karen Kendra Holmes and former Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe will also speak at the festival. For more details, visit novapride.org. 

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Va. newspaper honors Danica Roem http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/04/va-newspaper-honors-danica-roem/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/09/04/va-newspaper-honors-danica-roem/#respond Tue, 04 Sep 2018 19:48:05 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=47242797 Lawmaker was Prince William Times reporter for nine years

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Danica Roem, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) was sworn in on Jan. 10, 2018. She is the first openly transgender person ever seated in a state legislature in the U.S. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The readers of a Virginia newspaper has named a former reporter as their “Best Local Politician.”

State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) was a reporter for the Prince William Times and the Gainesville Times from 2006-2015.

She was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017. Roem is the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the U.S.

“I dedicated nine years, two months and two weeks to serving the readers of the Gainesville Times and Prince William Times as their local reporter from 2006 to 2015,” said Roem in a statement she released after the Prince William Times made the announcement on Aug. 29. “I’ve continued serving them as their state delegate representing the 13th District of the Virginia House of Delegates. The people of western Prince William County know who I am, know my values and know my platform is focused on constituent service, which is why I’m humbled to be honored by them as their choice for ‘Best Local Politician’ in the Prince William Times 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards.”

Roem in her statement added “the message I hope the readers of the Gainesville Times and Prince William Times send locally is the best way to serve the people is through inclusive leadership that unites our community. That is leadership focused on constituent service, improving our quality of life and remembering that as elected officials, we serve our constituents regardless of their inherent identifiers.”

“To me, the best way I can do that is by focusing on the universal issues my constituents face: traffic, jobs, schools, health care, land use, infrastructure, the environment and equality,” she said. “That’s why every bill I introduced to the House of Delegates this year as the chief patron came as a result of either constituent service requests or the government accountability platform I promised the people I would deliver for them when I told them I would bring a reporter’s eye to Richmond.”

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Longtime gov’t speechwriter Shelbia Lengel dies at 81 http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/30/longtime-govt-speechwriter-shelbia-lengel-dies-at-81/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/30/longtime-govt-speechwriter-shelbia-lengel-dies-at-81/#respond Thu, 30 Aug 2018 14:58:51 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46971836 Played lead role in organizing first national AIDS hotline

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Shelbia Lengel, Black Caucus, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Shelbia “Shellie” Lengel, who served as a public affairs spokesperson and writer, including speechwriter, for several U.S. government agencies in Washington beginning in the late 1950s and played a lead role in organizing the government’s first national AIDS hotline in the early 1980s, died Aug. 27 of cancer at her home in Charlottesville, Va. She was 81.

A native of West Virginia, Lengel graduated second in her high school class in Charleston, W.Va., and was accepted at Duke University in North Carolina on a full scholarship, according to her son, Eric Lengel. Eric Lengel said his mother graduated from Duke in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in English.

He said his mother began her professional career in the federal government in 1958 at the Department of Agriculture as a public information writer and speechwriter.

She continued her role as a writer and speech writer in subsequent years at the then Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1962 to 1968; and at the Environmental Protection Agency from 1969 to 1971. While at EPA she helped organize the agency’s first Earth Day activities, Eric Lengel said.

He said she took a hiatus from government service from 1971 to 1976 when she served as executive director of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Pennsylvania at the organization’s office in Reading, Pa.

She resumed her career in the federal government in 1976, her son said, when she became a public affairs spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, where she remained until her retirement in 1988.

Eric Lengel said his mother became actively involved in HHS’s efforts to address the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, among other things, by playing a key role in getting the agency’s AIDS hotline up and running.

He said she also worked on AIDS related projects with then U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Everett Koop at a time when AIDS was little understood. President Ronald Reagan appointed Koop, who was known then as a conservative fundamentalist Christian who was strongly opposed for the Surgeon General’s position by LGBT and AIDS activists.

But in the midst of Shellie Lengel’s role as a spokesperson for HHS, Koop riled his once conservative supporters and pleased many AIDS activists by calling for widespread distribution of condoms, including in schools, as part of the nation’s AIDS prevention effort.

Eric Lengel said his mother became involved as a volunteer for AIDS causes upon her retirement in 1988. Among other things, she worked as a volunteer for D.C.’s Food and Friends, the first large-scale organization in the D.C. area that delivered meals for homebound people with HIV/AIDS.

Her longtime support for the LGBT community and its struggle with AIDS hit home in a profound way in 1994, Eric Lengel said, when his brother, one of her three sons, Andy Lengel, who was gay, died of AIDS.

Shellie Lengel is survived by her husband, Alan Lengel; her sons Eric and Ed Lengel; and grandchildren Megan Lengel, Stephen Lengel, Mike Lengel, Thomas Lengel, and Laura Lengel.

She was scheduled to be buried at the National Memorial Park in Falls Church, Va., next to her son Andy in an upcoming private ceremony.

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Gay man files bias complaint against D.C. hospital http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/28/jonathan-schafer-bias-complaint/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/28/jonathan-schafer-bias-complaint/#respond Tue, 28 Aug 2018 13:48:32 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46850738 Patient says intake nurse suggested he enter ‘heterosexual relationship’

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Jonathan Schafer, gay news, Washington Blade

Jonathan Schafer accuses Psychiatric Institute of Washington of anti-gay discrimination. (Photo courtesy Schafer)

Arlington, Va., resident Jonathan Schafer filed a complaint last week with the D.C. Office of Human Rights charging that Psychiatric Institute of Washington, a psychiatric hospital, subjected him to anti-gay discrimination in the way it treated him as a patient.

His complaint accuses an official that he says processed his admission to the hospital on Aug. 7 with saying his problems were due to his sexual orientation and that he should consider entering a heterosexual relationship.

“At the time of intake I was told by the Director of Intake that it sounded as if being a homosexual was messing with my head and that I should try a heterosexual relationship,” Schafer states in his complaint.

“She also said anything I could do with a guy, I could do with a woman,” the complaint says. “She also said I should try a heterosexual relationship so that I can have children and feel that I’ve contributed to the world,” Schafer’s complaint says.

In an 11-minute video of himself talking about his encounter with the intake official that he posted on his Facebook page, Schafer said he didn’t obtain the name of the intake official but believes she is a registered nurse. He states in his video he believes she acted inappropriately by suggesting his sexual orientation was responsible in some way for the depression he was experiencing at the time he entered the facility.

“You know, when she was saying those things I was very vulnerable,” he says on his posted video. “So it was very inappropriate behavior from her as a professional, especially in health care and especially in a mental or behavioral health setting,” he said in the video.

In response to an inquiry from the Washington Blade, Psychiatric Institute of Washington released a statement on Aug. 23 saying the hospital employee in question denied making the comments Schafer claimed she made to him.

“Hospital leadership is investigating the matter involving a single individual in the intake department,” the statement says. “We take all feedback seriously, and clearly would never condone the alleged statements attributed our employee, as they are inconsistent with our philosophy, operating principles and policies,” it says.

“Upon questioning, our employee denies that any such statements were made,” the hospital statement continues. “Nevertheless, we apologize that this patient reported a negative experience at our facility.”

The statement adds, “Despite a patient’s share of their personal information, PIW is not authorized to disclose details of patient care due to HIPAA patient privacy law, therefore cannot comment on any specifics.”

However, in response to an earlier question submitted to the hospital by the Blade, the statement says “we do not practice conversion therapy.”

In his posted video, Schafer said that following his encounter with the intake official he was worried that he might be subjected by the hospital to conversion therapy.

That practice has been debunked by professional mental health organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, as being ineffective and having the potential to cause serious mental health problems.

Schafer told the Blade that in addition to the complaint he filed with the D.C. Office of Human Rights, he filed an internal grievance complaint with PIW and sent email messages to other government and private organizations informing them of what he claims was the discriminatory treatment he received as a patient as PIW.

Among the agencies he contacted about the PIW matter, he told the Blade, were the Office of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, the D.C. Hospital Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the national LGBT organizations Human Rights Campaign and the Trevor Project.

Schafer also provided the Blade with a copy of an Aug. 17 letter he received from Psychiatric Institute of Washington responding to his grievance complaint with the hospital.

The letter, written by Dody A. McClain, the hospital’s Director of Quality Management, says McClain completed a thorough investigation into Schafer’s complaint. In a development that surprised Schafer, unlike the hospital’s statement to the Blade, the letter did not mention that the employee who’s the subject of Schafer’s complaint has denied making the statements Schafer alleges she made to him.

Instead, McClain’s letter to Schafer lists two specific actions it says the hospital has taken to “resolve your grievance.”

The first, it says, “Reviewed your concerns and provided feedback to the staff member involved and followed our performance management policies.”

The second action, the letter states, “Retrained the staff member on diversity/cultural competence.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to apologize that your experience at PIW did not meet your needs and expectations,” McClain states in his letter to Schafer. “Thank you for taking the time to report your concerns to PIW. We appreciate your feedback. Patient satisfaction is a top level priority for us.”

In its statement to the Blade, the hospital states, “PIW does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation. Further, PIW does not exclude people or treat them differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation.”

In an email to the Blade, Schafer, however, pointed out that in its official nondiscrimination statement on its website, PIW lists only the groups protected against discrimination in federal law. He notes, as the Blade also observed on the PIW’s website, that the official nondiscrimination statement makes no mention of the broader list of protected categories under the D.C. Human Rights Act, including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

PIW didn’t respond to a follow-up question from the Blade asking why the D.C. Human Rights Act’s broader list of protected groups are missing from the hospital’s nondiscrimination statement on its website as of early this week.

One local D.C. attorney who has represented clients who have filed discrimination complaints before the D.C. Office of Human Rights and who spoke to the Blade on condition of not being identified said it was uncertain how the OHR would act on Schafer’s complaint. Since the complaint doesn’t accuse PIW of refusing treatment for Schafer and limits its concern with what Schafer says was inappropriate treatment by one employee, it’s unclear whether that could be considered a violation of the city’s Human Rights Act, the attorney said.

Under a longstanding policy, the Office of Human Rights never confirms it has received a discrimination complaint until it completes an investigation of the complaint and makes a determination of probable cause that discrimination occurred. At that point the office calls on the two parties to enter into negotiations to determine whether a settlement can be reached.

If a settlement cannot be reached, the OHR schedules an evidentiary public hearing similar to a trial in which the D.C. Commission on Human Rights acts as the jury and rules on whether discrimination occurred.

“So I just wanted to share my story and encourage people, again, that are dealing with depression on a day to day basis to continue to seek help, talk to your friends and family,” Schafer said in his Facebook video. “Again, but never let anybody like this individual put you down for who you are. Be proud of who you are, embrace who you are, love who you are. Equality has no room for discrimination or hatred.”

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Restaurant Week continues through Sunday http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/17/restaurant-week-continues-through-sunday/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/17/restaurant-week-continues-through-sunday/#respond Fri, 17 Aug 2018 19:20:47 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46264902 Area specials abound throughout D.C., Md., and Va.

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Metro Washington Restaurant Week, gay news, Washington Blade

Agora is participating in Metro Washington Restaurant Week. (Photo courtesy of Agora)

Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week runs through Sunday, Aug. 19 at various participating restaurants in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. 

More than 250 restaurants will offer special menus. Restaurant week prices are $22 lunch, $22 brunch and $35 dinner. Participating restaurants include Birch and Barley, City Winery D.C., District Commons, Hank’s Pasta Bar and many more. 

For more information, visit ramw.org/restaurantweek. 

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QUEERY: Dan Carter http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/16/queery-dan-carter/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/16/queery-dan-carter/#respond Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:54:08 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46198686 The local yoga instructor answers 20 gay questions

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Dan Carter, gay news, Washington Blade

Dan Carter (Photo by Cassidy DuHon)

Dan Carter’s yoga obsession started when he was trying to attract the attention of the girl he wanted to take to prom.

“She was obsessed with yoga and after a few classes, so was I,” the 27-year-old Philomont, Va., native says. “In the end I realized I didn’t like girls ‘that way’ but I did like the yoga. We’re both yoga teachers now.”

Carter says the appeal for him is the idea that it takes you “completely within your own body.”

“You can feel and control internal processes like breath, pulse, digestion, temperature regulation and pain,” he says. “A lot of people thought the famous yogis of the early 20th century were supernatural because they could do this kind of stuff. I’m not anywhere near that level, but I’m working at it.”

Carter has been teaching for four years. For the first two, he taught part time while working at the Discovery Channel. Two years ago he started teaching full time.

“I was really nervous when I took the leap, but I’m so much happier and healthier now. It’s very cathartic and thought provoking for me. I have a hard time turning off my brain, but during a great yoga class, I’m totally in my own space and in control of my mind and body.”

Carter teaches 15-20 classes per week at Past Tense, VIDA Fitness, Flow Yoga Center and the Capital Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness. He’s hosting a four-day “very nontraditional” yoga retreat he calls Summer Camp for Adults Aug. 31-Sept. 3 at the Blue Mountain Retreat Center. The promo code JOINTHEPACK at  danimalyoga.com makes it $445 for the trip with meals, classes and accommodations included.

Carter says he has lots of gay students in his classes.

“It depends where I teach,” he says. “I lead weekly naked yoga classes and those are almost completely gay. At VIDA, I also have a large gay and lesbian population.”

Carter — “Danimal” to his friends — is engaged to Cassidy DuHon. They live together in Shaw. Carter enjoys drag and Bloons Tower (an iPad game) in his free time.

“I teach a very intentional, anatomy-focused style of yoga and at the end of the day, I need something totally ridiculous to distract me.”

(Photo by Cassidy DuHon)

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

I’ve been out for eight years. The hardest people to tell were my fraternity brothers. In the end they’ve been some of the coolest and most accepting people.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero? 

Right now, Adam Rippon. He’s one of the first gay celebrities who is unabashed to be feminine and talk about gay sex openly. I think femmephobia in the gay community is super toxic and it’s good to see him just being himself.

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

Trade. The owners and managers have worked really hard to make it an inclusive and alternative space for LGBT nightlife. Some of my best friends have launched parties or nightlife careers there. They support our local drag community and queer culture in a really amazing way. I think they really have their finger on the pulse of where gay culture is headed.

Describe your dream wedding.

My wedding that’s coming up this spring! We’re getting married at Pineapple Point in Ft. Lauderdale. It’s a drag-encouraged wedding and we have some real gags planned. Imagine “The Birdcage” meets “Miami Vice” meets “Golden Girls” meets a Cyndi Lauper video.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Right now I’m only focused on LGBT issues. I think under the current administration, it’s important to lift each other up. Recently I’ve focused on partnering with the transgender community here in D.C. Last fall my friend Leah Haile and I led a yoga class called Shine Yoga where we partnered with The D.C. Center to help educate the gay community about trans issues and how we can be allies. This summer I volunteered to be roasted to fundraise for Trans Women of Color Collective. With the incredible help of their executive director Dr. Hunter, we raised $3,000.

What historical outcome would you change?

I’m less focused on what I wish could be changed and more on what I can change. When Trump won in 2016 I spent a year being stressed and having unhealthy anxiety about my future. I’ve gotten past that and use my energy elevating the gay community, living an unabashed queer lifestyle and helping my friends, family and students be as happy and healthy as possible.

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

The Lady Gaga, Beyonce “Telephone” music video premiere.

On what do you insist?

I think people use the word “sorry” way too much. I think it should be reserved for serious situations.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

A video from my roast. If you like it or laugh, make sure to donate to the Trans Women of Color Collective!

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

“A Series of Fortunate Events”

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

Nope.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I’m still exploring my relationship with the spiritual world. I don’t think I need to have it figured out yet. I do my best to be a good person, be kind to others, animals and our planet — to me that’s what matters most.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Don’t isolate the letters and reach out to other minority communities. I think cis, white, gay men need to work harder to ask our trans friends and friends of color how we can be allies.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

A really cute dog.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That they have a certain body type. We come in all shapes and sizes and the sexiest thing to me is a bold personality.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie or TV show?

I love “Pose” on FX right now! I think it’s elevating trans, black and Latino narratives in the wider context of the gay community.

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Wearing a shirt in public. D.C. is a swamp! We take our shirts off during Pride, why not all year round?

What trophy or prize do you most covet? 

My red, suede, fringe, stiletto, heel boots. They look like they belong in a Shania Twain video and I LOVE them.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

I wish I had known that people would not just accept my most authentic self, but celebrate it. I am much happier letting my freak flag fly and being honest with my family and friends. I think it gives them permission to do the same with me.

Why Washington? 

The District keeps getting weirder and cooler, you just have to know where to look for it. If you’re the kind of person who’s looking for that kind of crowd I encourage you to come to my naked yoga class or if that’s not your thing, just come to Trade and say hello to me. My friends and I want to continue building queer community here in D.C.

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Virginia man arrested for 2017 murder of gay activist http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/13/virginia-man-arrested-for-bruce-garnett-murder/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/13/virginia-man-arrested-for-bruce-garnett-murder/#respond Mon, 13 Aug 2018 19:01:26 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46042382 Chesterfield police say victim and suspect were in relationship

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Bruce Garnett, gay news, Washington Blade

James M. Wheeler was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Bruce Garnett, who was stabbed to death in 2017. (Photo courtesy Chesterfield County Police)

Police in Chesterfield County, Va., on Aug. 6 arrested a 56-year-old Virginia man for the April 2017 murder of longtime Virginia gay activist Bruce Garnett, 67, who was found stabbed to death in his apartment in a section of Chesterfield near Richmond.

Police charged James M. Wheeler, a resident of the town of Stuarts Draft near Staunton, Va., with second-degree murder in connection with Garnett’s death after he confessed to the murder, according to Maj. Edward Carpenter of the Chesterfield Police Investigations Bureau.

“I can tell you that we received information that the suspect pretty much confessed to an independent party about his involvement in the case,” Carpenter told the Washington Blade.

“And based on that we were able to do some corroboration and coordination, and a search warrant was executed on a residence in Augusta County, Va.,” which was where Wheeler lived in Stuarts Draft, Carpenter said. According to Carpenter, Wheeler agreed to voluntarily go with Chesterfield detectives to the Augusta County police station for an interview.

“After several hours of interviewing he confessed to stabbing Mr. Garnett to death,” said Carpenter, who added that Wheeler confirmed he and Garnett had been friends and were in some type of relationship. “They had a friendship that lasted for an extended period of time,” said Carpenter, noting that Wheeler didn’t describe him and Garnett as a couple.

“That wasn’t said in the confession,” he said. “But the bottom line is they did have a relationship.”

Carpenter said Wheeler was being held without bond at the Middle River Regional Jail in Staunton while extradition arrangements were being made to transfer him to Chesterfield, where he will be prosecuted in Chesterfield County Circuit Court.

Garnett’s brother, Bill Garnett, told the Richmond Times Dispatch that his brother was an early pioneer for gay rights in Virginia and helped form the Gay Rights Association in Richmond in the 1970s. In 1978 Bruce Garnett became the first known registered lobbyist for LGBT related issues before the Virginia General Assembly, his brother told the Times Dispatch.

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LGBT counter protesters avoid contact with white supremacists at rally http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/13/lgbt-counter-protesters-avoid-contact-with-white-supremacists-at-rally/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/13/lgbt-counter-protesters-avoid-contact-with-white-supremacists-at-rally/#respond Mon, 13 Aug 2018 14:13:50 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=46032763 ‘Queer and Trans ResisDance’ march blocks traffic

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white supremacist, gay news, Washington Blade

Thousands of counter protesters vastly outnumbered the 20 or so white supremacists who showed up in D.C. on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

About 150 LGBT people and their supporters marched from Dupont Circle to 18th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. on Sunday afternoon as part of what they called a Queer and Trans “ResisDance Party” and counter protest to the Unite the Right rally next to the White House organized by white supremacist leaders.

The LGBT counter protesters, who tossed rainbow colored graffiti and danced to music blaring from a portable loudspeaker while marching along downtown streets, decided not to continue their procession to Lafayette Park, where the Unite the Right rally began more than an hour earlier than originally planned.

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“We are here to send a clear message to Nazis and to white supremacists that you and your ideology are not welcome here, not here in D.C., not here in the U.S., and here in the world,” gay activist Firas Nasr, the lead organizer of the LGBT contingent, said in Dupont Circle before the contingent began its march.

“We are here today to send a clear message that we, queer and trans people, that we intersectional people, people of color, disabled folks, native folks, we are here and we’re not going anywhere,” he said.

Among the signs and banners carried by the LGBT contingent was one that read “Smash White Supremacy.”

The LGBT counter protesters were among more than 10,000 counter protesters that turned out in several different locations in downtown D.C. on Sunday afternoon to challenge the Unite the Right contingent, far outnumbering them.

Thousands of counter protesters lined the police barricades at Lafayette Park during the Unite the Right Rally. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Out of fear of potential violence and retaliation by white supremacists expected to participate in the Unite the Right rally, organizers of the LGBT contingent did not announce the Dupont Circle location where they first assembled or the route of their march until Saturday, just one day before the event.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and District Police Chief Peter Newsham announced at a news conference Sunday night after the rally and counter protests were over that the massive presence of police that separated the opposing groups on Sunday succeeded in preventing violent outbreaks similar to the clashes that erupted in the first Unite the Right rally held one year ago in Charlottesville, Va.

Activist Sarah Massey, director of communications for the National LGBTQ Task Force, was among two bikers that led the LGBT contingent’s march on their motorcycles. Massey told the Washington Blade the contingent’s organizers decided to stop at 18th and Pennsylvania Avenue for the purpose of possibly acting as a surprise “welcoming party” for the Unite the Right contingent.

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Unite the Right leaders announced last week that they planned to arrive in D.C. from Virginia on Metro and planned to exit at the Foggy Bottom Metro station. They said they planned to march along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House and Lafayette Park, where they planned to hold their rally, which was originally scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

But press reports, including a report from Yahoo News, said the Unite the Right contingent arrived at the Foggy Bottom station about 2:30 p.m. The news reports said the contingent that arrived in D.C. consisted of only about 22 people, far fewer than the 400 people the contingent’s organizers said they expected to attend the event.

If the Unite the Right contingent arrived in Foggy Bottom near 23rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue at 2:30 p.m. they could have walked along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House and Lafayette Park before the LGBT contingent reached Pennsylvania Avenue at 19th Street about 3:30 p.m.

Press reports said the contingent was accompanied by a flank of D.C. police officers as it marched along downtown streets, but the press reports didn’t say which streets the Unite the Right members took.

Unite the Right Rally (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Unite the Right Rally (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Nasr told the Blade he had learned from what he believed to be a reliable source that word that the LGBT counter protesters had assembled on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House prompted the Unite the Right organizers to change their plans to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to Lafayette Park.

“It’s been incredible,” Nasr said. “We’ve successfully shut down the street that the white supremacists and the Nazis were going to walk down,” he said. “This street right here, yes, Pennsylvania Avenue,” he added.

Nasr’s claim that the LGBT counter protest led to a rerouting of the Unite the Right contingent couldn’t be confirmed from D.C. police as of Sunday night.

After remaining on Pennsylvania Avenue at 18th Street, N.W. for about 30 minutes, where they danced and shouted slogans against white supremacy, the LGBT contingent turned left on 18th Street and headed back to Dupont Circle.

Before reaching the circle, the contingent stopped for 10 minutes each in the busy intersections of 18th and K Streets and 18th and Connecticut Avenue, N.W., blocking traffic and prompting angry motorists and Metro buses to honk their horns.

Some of the stopped motorists looked on with amusement as they watched the LGBT protesters gyrating in the intersection to loud dance music and continuing to toss into the air the colorful graffiti that they said was biodegradable and friendly to the environment.

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. police were on the scene but took no action to stop the protesters from blocking the two intersections.

When asked why the contingent chose to block the streets in what appeared to be acts of civil disobedience, Nasr said, “We don’t cooperate with the police, so blocking the streets is what we do. And it’s fabulous,” he said. “It’s a queer dance protest, so that’s what we do.”

In its route from and back to Dupont Circle the LGBT contingent used volunteers to stand in various intersections to stop traffic as the contingent crossed many streets. Organizers said they made no attempt to obtain a police permit for a parade route as is the normal practice.

When the contingent began its march along 19th Street there were no D.C. police officers present. Upon the contingent’s march back to Dupont Circle a few police cars stopped alongside streets to stop cars while the contingent crossed those streets.

As the group continued along Connecticut Avenue on its return to Dupont Circle customers of two popular clubs along the street – the Dirty Martini and the Mad Hatter – walked into the street and began dancing with the protesters as the music continued to blare from the contingent’s loudspeaker.

Massey and other participants in the LGBT contingent said the dance protest was successful in drawing attention to the LGBT community’s strong support and solidarity with groups targeted by white supremacists.

“I think our queer and trans and LGBTQ event is showing love in the face of hate,” Massey said. “And that’s what this is about. We’re going to be in solidarity. We’re going to show love for one another and we’re unified,” she said.

In his remarks at the Dupont Circle rally, Nasr said he believed the event’s effort of combining an LGBT tradition of dancing to convey a serious message would succeed.

“We are here today to love one another and celebrate our community because we are beautiful,” he said. “And we are a threat to fascists and white supremacists who want us out. And our threat is our celebration.”

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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LGBT counter protesters to ‘peacefully’ confront white supremacist rally http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/10/lgbt-counter-protesters-to-peacefully-confront-white-supremacist-rally/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/10/lgbt-counter-protesters-to-peacefully-confront-white-supremacist-rally/#respond Fri, 10 Aug 2018 12:50:21 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=45914385 D.C. prepared to prevent violent clashes at Sunday’s ‘Unite the Right’ event

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Unite the Right, gay news, Washington Blade

‘We the people of Washington, D.C. say unequivocally we denounce hate,’ said Mayor Muriel Bowser. (Screen capture via Facebook)

A contingent of LGBT activists is considering joining more than 1,000 counter protesters expected to show up on Sunday at Lafayette Square across from the White House to confront participants in a “Unite the Right” rally organized by white supremacist leaders, according to an official with the National LGBTQ Task Force.

Sarah Massey, the Task Force’s director of communications, said a coalition of LGBT activists invited her and the Task Force to join an LGBT contingent expected to participate in counter protests at Lafayette Park and other locations.

She said specific details of the actions of the LGBT contingent and the time and place it will gather on Sunday had yet to be announced as of late Thursday but were expected to be announced in a press release sometime on Friday.

“We want to make sure there is a loud and proud LGBT presence at the counter protests,” Massey told the Washington Blade on Thursday. “It will be a resist dance party type protest,” she said. “It will be completely peaceful and a powerful expression of love.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and District Police Chief Peter Newsham were joined by more than a dozen city officials and community leaders at a news conference on Thursday where they announced the city has spent months preparing for Sunday’s Unite the Right rally and the expected counter demonstrators.

Newsham said that unlike the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., one year ago that became mired in violent clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters, D.C. police and the U.S. Park Police have developed an operational plan to keep the opposing groups of protesters separated from one another.

“Every police action that you will see on Sunday will be done with the ultimate goal of ensuring the safety of everyone that attends,” he said.

Bowser said that while participants in the Unite the Right rally had a First Amendment right to express their views she was confident that they would be overshadowed by the city’s strong message of opposition to hate.

“On Sunday, we know we have people coming to our city for the sole purpose of spewing hate,” Bowser said. “We the people of Washington, D.C. say unequivocally we denounce hate, we denounce anti-Semitism, and we denounce the rhetoric that we expect to hear this Sunday,” she told the press conference, which was held at Adas Israel Congregation synagogue in Northwest D.C.

“The only right message and the message that I hope people carry as Washingtonians is love, inclusion and diversity,” she said.

Organizers of the Unite the Right rally have announced they plan to meet at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Vienna, Va., Metro station, where they plan to ride together to the Foggy Bottom station. From there they plan to march along Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. to Lafayette Square, where they plan to hold their rally from 5:40 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Newsham said at the press conference plans to use the Metro and march along Pennsylvania Avenue were considered tentative and could change.

A coalition of about 40 progressive organizations has announced plans for a counter demonstration at Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C. beginning at noon on Sunday. Organizers said they plan to begin marching from Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The U.S. Park Service said it issued a permit for the Unite the Right rally at Lafayette Square and that rally organizers stated in their application for the permit that they expected about 400 people to attend the rally.

The Park Service has also issued permits to organizers of the expected counter protests for at least three sites – Freedom Plaza, McPherson Square and Lafayette Square.

The Washington Blade will provide an update on plans by the LGBT contingent of the counter protesters, including the location and time they plan to assemble, when that information becomes available.

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Religious protesters picket Freddie’s drag show http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/01/religious-protesters-picket-freddies-drag-show/ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/08/01/religious-protesters-picket-freddies-drag-show/#respond Wed, 01 Aug 2018 20:57:23 +0000 http://www.washingtonblade.com/?p=45547991 ‘A man shall not dress like a woman’

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Freddie's protesters, gay news, Washington Blade

Two protesters berated customers at Freddie’s on Saturday.

A young woman and young man carrying signs quoting the Bible staged a two-person protest July 28 outside Freddie’s Beach Bar, the Arlington, Va., gay bar and restaurant.

Freddie Lutz, owner of the establishment located in Arlington’s Crystal City section, said the two protesters arrived shortly after the bar’s weekly Saturday night drag show began. He said he quickly went outside and captured part of the protest on video with his phone.

“You will burn in hell if you don’t repent with this wicked, perverted lifestyle!” the woman protester is heard shouting on the video. “A woman shall not dress like man and a man shall not dress like a woman, for it is an abomination to the Lord,” she yelled at several Freddie’s customers who walked out on the sidewalk to watch the protest.

“You need to repent,” the woman protester continued. “The wicked shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

Lutz said one of the customers who greeted the protesters and jokingly posed for a photo behind their sign saying “sexual sinners don’t go to heaven” was local filmmaker Fiona Dawson, who’s working on a film about the transgender community. According to Lutz, Dawson was celebrating her birthday on the Freddie’s patio overlooking the sidewalk when the protesters showed up.

Among those with Dawson was Amanda Simpson, who became the first openly transgender presidential appointee in 2009 when President Obama appointed her as senior technical adviser to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

Lutz said he invited the male protester inside Freddie’s and the two had what Lutz said was a positive dialogue.

“I said I just want you to look at this room,” Lutz recounted telling the man. “Everybody’s happy. Everybody’s getting along. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished here,” Lutz said he told the young man. “Straight people come in here building bridges and everybody gets along. And I said you can feel the love in this room.”

Before the two went back outside Lutz said the man told him “he really appreciated me inviting him into my place.”

The protesters, who said they were affiliated with a local church, picketed and chanted religious slogans outside the club for about an hour before leaving.

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