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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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Sports

Four Olympics, 13 years, and now a Gold Medal for Tom Daley

“I hope any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone. You can achieve anything.”

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British Olympic Diving Duo Matty Lee and Tom Daley (Photo Credit: Daley Instagram)

TOKYO – Standing there on the podium with tears forming in his eyes, a masked for Covid-19 British Olympic diver Tom Daley saw his dreams of Olympic Gold finally come true Monday. Watching a live-stream of the event intently, at the moment Daley secured his victory, Tom’s husband, writer Lance Black and Tom’s mother took in the results and jumped up screaming in joy.

Daley along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee won the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving on Monday at Tokyo 2020 narrowly besting the defending champions, China’s Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen by just 1.23 points.

“I still can’t honestly believe what is happening,” Daley told BBC Sport. “That moment, being about to be announced as Olympic champions, I was gone. I was blubbering.” 

Daley tells young LGBTQ people: “You can achieve anything”

Later at a press conference, Daley, an openly gay athlete talked about the experience of being gay and at the games;

“In terms of out athletes, there are more openly out athletes at these Olympic Games than any Olympic Games previously. I came out in 2013 and when I was younger I always felt like the one that was alone and different and didn’t fit. There was something about me that was never going to be as good as what society wanted me to be. I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone. You can achieve anything.”

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Books

Drew Pisarra’s ‘dangerously funny and queerly inventive brain’

‘You’re Pretty Gay’ shatters expectations and social mores

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Drew Pisarra’s ‘You’re Pretty Gay’ is just out from Chaffinch Press.

Is there anything more absurd than this, wondered gay poet and writer Drew Pisarra.  Pisarra, then, was an assistant to a paralegal at a toothpaste company.

Fiercely protective of the pattern on its toothpaste, they wrote letters to rivals who, they felt, were infringing on their copyright.

Even when their competitors were in countries in the middle of a civil war, “They would write back, ‘we can’t respond now, we’re in a war,’” Pisarra said.

But that didn’t soften the heart of the toothpaste company. They’d insist that “this most important matter be dealt with as soon as the war ends,” Pisarra said.

If you think that authors don’t encounter the absurdity and grit of everyday life or that all writers do is drink coffee (or sip stronger libations) while looking at the sunset, you haven’t met Pisarra.

Pisarra, 56, whose new short story collection “You’re Pretty Gay” is just out from Chaffinch Press, has worked at everything from ventriloquism to domestic work.

The word “unique” is so hackneyed that it’s a cliche to say it’s a cliche. But there’s no other way to describe “You’re Pretty Gay.”

This collection “is a prime example of Drew Pisarra’s dangerously funny and queerly inventive brain,” said Kevin Sampsell, author of “This Is Between Us.” “Each story is its own performance, its own shattering of expectations and social mores.”

Pisarra, who lives in Manhattan, gives readers a mosaic of wit, surrealism,  sex, queerness, memory, mortality and self-discovery.

In “You’re Pretty Gay,” there are gay bars in New York and New Orleans.

You’ll find everything from adolescent bullies fighting over a rare caterpillar to a character taking an AIDS test and, later, meeting up with Mrs. Claus.  

“Mrs. Claus I didn’t even know you were alive,” says the narrator of “Arctic Chill.” “I didn’t even know you were real. I haven’t received a gift from you or your husband in ten years.”

Another of Pisarra’s tales revolves around a trip to hell. “I love traveling,” says the narrator of “The Hat from Hell, “I got this hat when I was in Hell back in 1992.”

In “Granny,” siblings gather after their mother’s death. “All anyone could remember of her was that chair, how she sat in it for the last 40 years,” Pisarra writes, “immobile as ‘Jeopardy’ and the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ glared at her night after night.”

Pisarra’s characters yearn to find love, sex, and who they really are.

“In my quest to bed mankind, I tended to avoid perfection’s rejection,” says the narrator of “Every Man for Myself.”

Pisarra, whose first short story collection “Publick Spanking” was published in 1996, was born in Orange, N.J. When he was in the third grade, he moved to Maryland. There, except for living in Oxon Hill for a year, he grew up in Silver Spring.

When Pisarra was growing up, being gay wasn’t even remotely on the horizon. “There was such denial in the culture then,” Pisarra said.

From early on, he had feelings for men. “I had a crush on a boy in kindergarten,” Pisarra said.

He consulted books and a priest, which wasn’t helpful. They said he’d grow out of it.

“As a teenager, I recognized that I hadn’t outgrown it,” Pisarra said.

Pisarra was a college freshman when he came out. “I sobbed the night I came out,” he said.

He was out in college, Pisarra said, “but I wasn’t getting laid.” That changed when he moved to New Orleans after college.

Pisarra graduated from Hofstra University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in theater.

In college, a professor had the students sit in a circle. Then, the teacher told them how she thought they’d be cast. 

“She told me, ‘you’re a grotesque,’”Pisarra said, “‘You won’t work until you’re in your fifties. Because your face and body don’t match.’”

Pisarra was relieved to hear this. His sense of relief was related to being a young gay man in the late 1980s.

“I wasn’t interested in being closeted,” Pisarra said, “I wrote. I wanted to perform.  I wasn’t interested in conforming.”

Since then, Pisarra has been creating – performing and writing his own material. Some of the stories in “You’re Pretty Gay” were originally created for the stage.

“I don’t write that often,” Pisarra said, “I started writing the stories in ‘You’re Pretty Gay’ 20 years ago.”

A prodigious reader, Pisarra has always “written to some degree,” he said.

Pisarra got turned on to writing poetry when he went to a meeting of a gay and lesbian writers group.

“There were, like, 10 people in this apartment,” Pisarra said, “there was a terrible woman sitting next to me.”

He would have dropped out of the group, if he hadn’t met writer Mare Davis, now his close friend.  

“I said to her, ‘I never want to see any of these people again except you,’” Pisarra said, “She inspired me to get into poetry.”

Davis wrote the introduction to Pisarra’s poetry collection “Infinity Standing Up” (Capturing Fire Press).

Released in 2019, the volume of sexy, playful sonnets received glowing reviews from the Washington Post, the Blade and other outlets.

“Devour me! Think me not some crazy nut!,” Pisarra writes in one of his sonnets.

With lines like these, he gives Shakespeare a run for his money.

Pisarra has held a variety of jobs – many of which have involved the arts. He has helped homeless people with mental health issues to find housing.

“I ran a writers group for them,” Pisarra said, “I encouraged a super-talented woman to send her work out.”

The woman and Pisarra submitted their work to the same magazine. “Her work was accepted. Mine wasn’t,” he said, “I was thrilled!”

In an unusual career twist, Pisarra, who received a literary grant from the Café Royal Cultural Foundation, toured a ventriloquist act entitled “Singularly Grotesque.” He created the act after the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art commissioned him to develop a new solo piece.

“I was wandering around the library aisles and I found two (self-help) pamphlets on talking with ‘multiple’ selves,’” Pisarra said, “and I thought this is ventriloquism in a nutshell.”

Pisarra hadn’t watched much TV.  But that didn’t keep him from interviewing with AMC to be its director of digital media.

“I thought why not,” Pisarra said, “it would be a chance to see what else is out there in the world.”

He worked on the websites for “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.”  “It was a pleasure to be part of the online team for these cultural phenomena!” Pisarra said.

With Molly Gross, Pisarra co-founded Saint Flashlight. In this project, he and Gross find inventive ways to get poetry into public spaces.

One of the project’s most innovative efforts has been putting haiku on movie marquees.  It’s fun to see people, looking up, counting the syllables, Pisarra said. You sweat when you put the letters up on the marquee, he added.

“It’s part of the fun! It makes you feel like you’re making something matter,” Pisarra said.

He doesn’t want poetry to be confined to “The New Yorker.”  “It should push the envelope,” Pisarra said, “It’s not just for the upper crust.”

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Out & About

Calendar: July 23-29

Events in the week to come

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‘Stepping OUT on Faith’ features speakers addressing their interfaith spiritual experiences of the AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed on the National Mall 1987. (File photo courtesy of the NAMES Project Foundation)

Friday, July 23

Friday Tea Time and social for older LGBTQ adults will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. You are welcome to bring your own beverage. For access to the Zoom link, email [email protected].

“Trans Support Group” will be hosted on Zoom at 7 p.m. This event is intended to provide emotionally and physically safe space for transgender people and those who may be questioning their gender identity/expression to join in community and learn from one another.  All who identify under the trans umbrella or are unsure, and seek to continually reinforce principles of respect, acceptance, and protection through ongoing input from our attendees are welcome.

Saturday, July 24

The “Gay District Meeting” will be at 8 p.m. via Zoom. Gay District is a community-based organization focused on building understanding of gay culture and personal identity, awareness of community events and civil rights for gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and inter-sexed men between the ages of 18 and 35 in the D.C. metropolitan area. For more information, visit gaydistrict.org

Join the DC Center in volunteering at Food & Friends from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 219 Riggs Road, N.E. Food and Friends prepares and delivers meals and groceries to people living with HIV, cancer, and other life challenging illnesses. Up to five volunteers are needed every month. If you need a ride from the Fort Totten Metro, call the Food and Friends shuttle at 202- 669-6437.

Sunday, July 25

“Crafternoons with Shop Made in DC!” will be at 12 p.m. at 1353 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. Guests are encouraged to bring a project or come and make one at Shop Made in DC’s classroom table. There will be various art supplies available. For more information, visit Eventbrite.

Monday, July 26

The Center Aging Coffee Drop-in will be at 10 a.m. at the DC Center. LGBT Older Adults and friends are invited for friendly conversations and current issues that you might be dealing with. For more information visit Center Aging’s Facebook or website.

Tuesday, July 27

Join Center Faith for Intersectional Faith Forums at 7 p.m. online. In this Forum, attendees will hear from panelists who participated in the LGBT history event “Stepping OUT on Faith” in 2014. These pioneers will speak about their interfaith spiritual experiences of the AIDS Memorial Quilt of the Names Project Foundation displayed on the National Mall 1987 that led to establishing Center Faith. For more information, visit Center Faith’s Facebook page.

Genderqueer DC support group will be on Zoom at 7 p.m. All those who identify as bigender, agender, genderfluid, or are not 100% cisgender are welcome to attend. For more information visit genderqueerdc.org or Genderqueer DC’s Facebook

Wednesday, July 28

Join the DC Center for its virtual job club, a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve self-confidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking. The event begins on Zoom at 6 p.m. For more information, email [email protected]

Friendship Place’s LGBTQ+ will host the final session of a free webinar series titled “Advocacy, Resistance, and LGBTQ+ Resilience” at 12 p.m. This event will be a panel conversation focused on the vital work of advocacy and resistance to ensure access and rights for the LGBTQ+ community. The panel will also touch on the importance of self-care in the work of advocacy and resilience that comes from community. For more information, visit capitalpride.org.

Thursday, July 29

“Queer Book Club” will be at 7 p.m. via Skype. This month’s book discussion will be “Black Boy Out of Time” by Hari Ziyad. If you are interested in participating, please email [email protected]

The Mayor’s Office will host a “Veterans Roundtable” on Thursday, July 29 at 12 p.m. This event aims to connect the District’s veterans with information, resources, and organizations that may be beneficial to a successful military transition. 

It will be an informal discussion that revolves around varying topics including housing, employment, healthcare, and legal services. Upon conclusion of the discussion, all resource providers in attendance offer feedback on any topics discussed or how they can assist the veteran or their family in a positive capacity.

The event will be hosted in person and will highlight BIPOC Veteran Mental Health Awareness with speakers from the DC VA Medical Center. For more information, visit Eventbrite.

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