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friday, jan. 22

A GaySpirits event is being held this weekend in Annandale, Va. It’s a spiritual retreat for gay men who’ve avoided religion because many faiths condemn them. GaySpirits creators say gay men have “unique spiritual giftedness.” The events will take place at Little River U.C.C., located at 8410 Little River Turnpike, tonight from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Cost is $70. For more information, visit gayspirits.com or call 301-580-2953.

The Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has a women’s business luncheon today from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Beacon Hotel, located at 1615 Rhode Island Ave., N.W. Visit caglcc.org for more information on this and other Chamber events.

Apex, a gay dance club located at 1415 22nd St., N.W. in Dupont Circle, is having a Hawaiian-themed “Aloha Dance Party” tonight. Grass skirts and leis will be given out and tiki bar drink specials will run all night. Cover is $6. Visit apex-dc.com for more information.

Trans-themed Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play “I Am My Own Wife” by gay playwright Doug Wright, will be performed tonight at 8 p.m. at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va. The play runs through March 7. Tickets are $69. Visit signature-theatre.org for more information.

Standup comedian and reality show star Kathy Griffin, who’s amassed a large throng of gay fans to her celebrity-skewing humor, is at D.A.R. Constitution Hall tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $58. Tickets to both shows were still available at press time. Visit livenation.com or ticketmaster.com for tickets.

Gay District meets tonight. The group was formerly known as the Twenties Group but has expanded its age range for gay, bi, trans and questioning men from 18 to 35. The group meets for weekly discussion from 8:30 to 9:30 every Friday at St. Margaret’s Church located at 1830 Connecticut Ave. Members dine afterwards then go dancing. The group is changing its contact information but for now, those interested can visit the group on Facebook under the name “GD: Gay District.”

saturday, jan. 23

Adventuring Outdoors Group, a gay hiking group, is joining the Chrysalis Arts and Culture Group, another local gay social outfit, for a trip to Gettysburg today. A moderate 6-mile hike is planned with some steep passages. Those interested should bring beverages, lunch, hiking shoes and about $12 for transportation fees. The groups will meet at 9 a.m. at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station. For more information, contact Craig at 202-462-0535 or [email protected].

D.C. Lambda Squares, a local gay square dancing outfit, has a community dance today with guest caller Jeremy Butler from Virginia Beach. The dance will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. at Sligo Middle School in Silver Spring, Md. Cost is $10. For more information about this or other club affairs, visit dclambdasquares.org.

Several local gay social groups are joining D.C. Icebreakers, a local gay ice skating group, tonight for a large social event at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. Skating will run from 8 to 9 p.m. with a social to follow at Bailey’s Pub and Grill. Other groups slated to join the Icebreakers are Zoom Urban Lesbian Excursions, NOVA Gay & Lesbian Professionals, D.C. Lesbian Singles, Burgundy Crescent Volunteers, NOVA Dynamic Lesbian Singles, the Mixed Ladies Arlington Pool League and Social Cheverly. For more information, visit dcicebreakers.org.

Capital Area Rainbowlers Association has several LGBT bowling leagues running from January through April. A group meets in Alexandria at the AMF Alexandria Lanes at 10:30 a.m. Visit carabowling.org for more information about this and other CARA leagues. The leagues are social and bowlers of all ability levels are welcome.

DJ Joe Hickerson spins at Town tonight. Town is located at 2009 8th St., N.W. Cover is $8 from 10 to 11 p.m. at $12 thereafter.

sunday, jan. 24

Dignity Washington, a local gay Catholic group, celebrates Mass for the LGBT community every Sunday at 6 p.m. at St. Margaret’s, located at 1820 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Call 202-546-2245 for more information or visit dignitywashington.org.

monday, jan. 25

Gay Oscar-winning “Milk” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black speaks at the D.C. Jewish Community Center tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. The JCC is located at 1529 16th St., N.W. Visit washingtondcjcc.org/gloe for tickets.

The D.C. Center’s Elder Think Tank, an intergenerational LGBT group that provides education, advocacy and services to the local aging gay community, meets tonight at the Center’s new location at 1810 14th St., N.W. The group meets the fourth Monday of each month. Visit thedccenter.org for more information.

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, the District’s largest mostly gay church, has an HIV-positive support group for people of faith every Monday at the church. For more information, contact Matt Senger at 202-546-2159 or e-mail him at [email protected] MCC-DC is located at 474 Ridge St., N.W. Visit mccdc.com for more information about the church.

Nellie’s Sports Bar, a gay bar located at 900 U St., N.W., holds “Pokerface,” a Texas hold ‘em poker night every Monday at 8 p.m. It’s free to play and prizes are awarded. Visit nelliessportsbar.com for more information.

Freddie’s Beach Bar, located at 555 S. 23rd St. in Crystal City, Va., has disco trivia every Monday at 8 p.m.

tuesday, jan. 26

D.C.’s HIV Working Group assembles safer sex kits with its “packing parties” every Tuesday at EFN Lounge. Those who volunteer their time get drink discounts. The events are held from 7 to 10:30 p.m. at Motley Bar, located above EFN, which is at 1318 9th St., N.W. Visit fighthivindc.com for more information.

Poz, a bar night for HIV-positive men and men open to dating HIV-positive men regardless of their own HIV status, is held every Tuesday night from 7 p.m. to midnight at Motley Bar, located above EFN Lounge at 1318 19th St., N.W. The event is organized by HIV-positive party promoter Jacob Pring. Visit the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/pozdc for more information.

Cobalt has “Flashback,” a retro night, every Tuesday at 10 p.m. Rail vodka drinks are free from 10 to 11 p.m. Cobalt is at the corner of 17th and R streets, N.W.

wednesday, jan. 27

Pop diva Mariah Carey brings her “Angels Advocate Tour” to D.A.R. Constitution Hall tonight at 7:30 p.m. She’s touring to support her latest album, 2009’s “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel.” The tour shares a moniker with Carey’s upcoming remix album, set to drop in March. Tickets are $249.25. Visit livenation.com or ticketmaster.com for tickets.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has weekly volunteer nights every Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at its offices located at 1325 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Suite 600. Volunteers fold and stuff letters for the gay rights organization. Pizza is provided. For more information, contact Ezra Towne at [email protected].

Ladies First night is tonight and every Wednesday at Fab Lounge, located at 1805 Connecticut Ave., N.W. For more information, visit myspace.com/ladiesfirst.

thursday, jan. 28

D.C. Lambda Squares, a local gay square dancing group, meets every Thursday for square dancing. Those who’ve taken the group’s “Mainstream” and “Plus” classes dance on the first and third Thursdays. “Plus” and “Advanced” classes are on the second and fourth Thursdays. For more information about the group or to find out when beginner classes are available, visit dclambdasquares.org.

Special Agent Galactica, the drag alter ego of Ganymede Arts’ Jeffrey Johnson, performs a cabaret act tonight called “Galactica and the Chocolate Factory” at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. at ACKC, located at 1529 14th Street, N.W. ACKC, located next to Universal Gear, has a new coffee bar that will be open during the show. Admission is free. Visit ganymedearts.org for more information.

friday, jan. 29

A new Friday night drag show at Ziegfeld’s has started with a new hostess. The Ladies of Illusion hosted by Kristina Kelly has performances every Friday at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Bet Mishpachah, a gay synagogue located at the D.C. JCC at 16th and Q streets, N.W., holds Ereve Shabbat services every Friday at 8:30 p.m. followed by an Oneg Shabbat social. Morning services are held on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month at 10 a.m. followed by Kiddush luncheon. Straights are welcome. Visit betmish.org for more information.

saturday, jan. 30

The Miss Freddie’s Beach Bar drag pageant is tonight. Show starts at 9 p.m. The winner will represent the bar at various events, such as Capital Pride, throughout the year. Those wishing to compete must apply beforehand. Applications are available now at the bar. Cover is $10. Call 703-685-0555 for more information. Freddie’s is located at 555 S. 23rd St. in Crystal City, Va.

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Theater

‘Hadestown’ comes to the Kennedy Center

Levi Kreis discusses return to live theater

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Levi Kreis is an out actor who plays Hermes in the national tour of ‘Hadestown’ soon opening at the Kennedy Center. (Photo courtesy of Levi Kreis)

Hadestown
Through Oct. 31
The Kennedy Center
$45.00 – $175.00
Kennedy-center.org
For Covid-19 safety regulations go to Kennedy-center.org/visit/covid-safety/

Early in September at New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre, out singer/actor Levi Kreis was in the audience for the long-awaited Broadway reopening of “Hadestown,” Anaïs Mitchell’s rousing musical reimagining of the Orpheus myth in which the legendary Greek hero descends into the underworld to rescue his lover Eurydice. 

After almost 18 months of pandemic-induced closure, the Tony Award-winning folk opera was back and the house was full. In a recent phone interview, Kreis describes the evening as “love-filled, and electrifying and emotional after such a difficult time.” Now, Kreis is onstage in the national tour of “Hadestown,” currently launching at the Kennedy Center. As Hermes, the shape-shifting god of oratory, Kreis is both narrator and chaperone to the story’s young lovers. 

A Tennessee native, Kreis, 39, has triumphantly survived turbulent times including a harrowingly prolonged coming out experience that included six years of conversion therapy, education disruptions, and music contract losses. He officially came out through his acclaimed album “One of the Ones” (2006), which features a collection of piano vocals about past boyfriends. And four years later, he splendidly won a Tony Award for originating the role of rock and roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in the rockabilly musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” 

Throughout much of the pandemic, Kreis leaned into his own music and found ways to reconnect with his largely gay fan base. But he’s happy to now be touring, noting that all the “Hadestown” cast have been hungering to perform before a real live audience.

When not on the road, he’s based in New York City with his husband, classical-crossover recording artist Jason Antone. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Hermes is the same role for which André De Shields—the brilliant African American actor, also gay, and some decades your elder won a Tony and has resumed playing on Broadway, right?

LEVI KREIS: That’s right. It’s really a testament to the creative team. Rather than laying us over what Broadway created. They’re creating a tour that’s uniquely different; still true to the beauty of the story but with a different flavor. 

BLADE: What attracted you to the part?

KREIS: First, I fell in love with the show. My own musical sensibilities understand the origins of where this music comes from. It’s very bluesy and gospel. Southern and rootsy. And that’s everything I’ve created in my career as a singer/songwriter.

BLADE: With your life experience, do you feel called to mentor?

KREIS: The biggest effort I’ve given to this narrative is being a pioneer of the out-music movement starting in 2005 which was a moment when gay artists were not signed to major labels. I want through eight major labels—when they found out I was gay things always went south. 

It’s been amazing to be a voice in LGBTQ media when no one was speaking about these things. It’s popular now, but back when it mattered it was a lot harder to start my career as an openly gay artist and speak about these issues rather than keep quiet, cash in, and only then come out. 

BLADE: Where did that nerve come from?

KREIS: Less about nerve and more about being beaten down. How many things have to happen before you give up and decide to be honest?  

BLADE: For many theatergoers, “Hadestown” will be their return to live theater. Other than it being visionary and remarkably entertaining, why would you recommend it? 

KREIS: We need encouragement right now. But we also need art that facilitates a lot of important conversation about what’s happening in the world. This has both elements.  

“Hadestown” is not a piece of art that you easily forget. You’re going to walk out of the theater with a story that sticks with you. You’ll realized that your own voice matters. There’s a part in the show, Orpheus’ song, when the gods encourage him to get the balance of the world back again by telling him that his voice matters. 

BLADE: Is it timely?

KREIS: Art is here to change the world. And this piece of art hits the nail right on the head. I’m a purist when it comes to art and song. There’s a reason why we do it. people are listening now in a way they haven’t listened before. To miss that is to miss the role of society, I think. 

BLADE: And going forward? 

KREIS: It’s going to be interesting. We could double down on super commercialized theater or we may decide to really go the other direction and reclaim innovation. That remains to be seen. 

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Books

Book details fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Clinton-era policy was horrific for LGB servicemembers

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‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By C. Dixon Osburn
c.2021, self-published $35 hardcover, paperback $25, Kindle $12.99 / 450 pages

When Senior Airman Brandi Grijalva was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, she talked with a chaplain’s assistant about some problems she had at home. The chaplain’s assistant said what she told him would be confidential. But when she revealed that she was a lesbian, the chaplain’s assistant no longer kept her conversation with him confidential. Grijalva, after being investigated was discharged.

Craig Haack was a corporal in the Marines serving in Okinawa, Japan. Haack, who had made it through boot camp, felt confident. Until investigators barged into his barracks. Looking for evidence “of homosexual conduct,” they ransacked everything from his computers to his platform shoes. Haack was too stunned to respond when asked if he was gay.

In 1996, Lt. Col. Steve Loomis’ house was burned down by an Army private. The Army discharged the private who torched Loomis’ house. You’d think the Army would have supported Loomis. But you’d be wrong. The army discharged Loomis for conduct unbecoming an officer because a fire marshal found a homemade sex tape in the ashes.

These are just a few of the enraging, poignant, at times absurd (platform shoes?), all-too-true stories told in “Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by C. Dixon Osburn.

As a rule, I don’t review self-published books. But “Mission Possible” is the stunning exception that proves that rules, on occasion, are made to be broken.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was the official U.S. policy on gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving in the military. Former President Bill Clinton announced the policy on July 19, 1993. It took effect on Feb. 28, 1994.

Sexual orientation was covered by DADT. Gender identity was covered by separate Department of Defense regulations.

Congress voted to repeal DADT in December 2010 (the House on Dec. 15, 2010, and the Senate on Dec. 18, 2010). On Dec. 22, 2010, Former President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law. 

DADT banned gay, lesbian and bisexual people who were out from serving in the U.S. military. Under DADT, it was not permitted to ask if servicemembers were LGB. But, LGB servicemembers couldn’t be out. They couldn’t talk about their partners, carry photos of their girlfriends or boyfriends or list their same-sex partner as their emergency contract.

It took nearly a year for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to go into effect. On Sept. 20, 2011, Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “certified to Congress that implementing repeal of the policy {DADT} would have no effect on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion or recruiting and retention,” Osburn writes.

Before DADT, out LGBT people weren’t permitted to serve in the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was intended to be a compromise—a policy that would be less onerous on LGB people, but that would pass muster with people who believed that gay servicemembers would destroy military readiness, morale and unit cohesion.

Like many in the queer community, I knew that DADT was a horror-show from the get-go. Over the 17 years that DADT was in effect, an estimated 14,000 LGB servicemembers were discharged because of their sexual orientation, according to the Veterans Administration.

But, I had no idea how horrific “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was until I read “Mission Possible.”              

In “Mission Possible,” Osburn, who with Michelle Benecke, co-founded the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), pulls off a nearly impossible hat trick.

In a clear, vivid, often spellbinding narrative, Osburn tells the complex history of the DADT-repeal effort as well as the stories of servicemembers who were pelted with gay slurs, assaulted and murdered under DADT.

Hats off to SLDN, now known as the Modern Military Association of America, for its heroic work to repeal DADT! (Other LGBTQ+ organizations worked on the repeal effort, but SLDN did the lion’s share of the work.)

You wouldn’t think a 450-pager about repealing a policy would keep you up all night reading. But, “Mission Possible” will keep you wide-awake. You won’t need the espresso.

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Arts & Entertainment

NSYNC star Lance Bass & husband Michael Turchin welcome twins

Singer, husband, and popular West Hollywood nightclub owner, now adds the job of ‘Dad’ to his resume

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Lance Bass and Michael Turchin via Instagram

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Former boy-band NSYNC star and co-owner of the popular LGBTQ+ nightspot Rocco’s, Lance Bass, announced that he and husband Michael Turchin are the proud parents of twins, Violet Betty and Alexander James.

In his announcement on Instagram, Bass wrote; ‘The baby dragons have arrived!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ I can not express how much love I feel right now. Thank you for all the kind wishes. It meant a lot. Now, how do you change a diaper??! Ahhhhhhhh!”

The babies were carried via surrogate, the singer noted saying that Alexander, born one minute before his sister on Wednesday, weighed 4 lbs., 14 oz. Violet weighed 4 lbs., 11 oz. Bass said in his Instagram post.

His husband also announced the news on his Instagram account. “Introducing the newest members of the Turchin-Bass household: Violet Betty and Alexander James!!!! They’re pure perfection and yes that includes the dozens of poops we’ve already dealt with. Our hearts our full!!! Thank you everyone for the well wishes 🥰🥰🥰”

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