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Social Agenda of Feb. 12

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Friday, Feb. 12

Gay organist David Christopher plays a free recital today at 12:15 p.m. at National City Christian Church as part of its “Magical, Mystical, Musical Machine” organ recital series. Organists Stephen Harouff and NCCC’s Charles Miller, who are both gay, play on the 19th and 26th respectively. The recitals are a half hour each. The church is at 5 Thomas Circle, N.W.

Apex has a Mardi Gras party tonight with a costume contest, balloon drop, prizes and “King of Apex” contest. Beads and masks will be given out. DJ Yainnis spins. Doors open at 9. Cover is $6. The club is located at 1415 22nd St., N.W. Visit www.apex-dc.com for more information.

Women in their Twenties meets at the D.C. Center tonight at 8. The group is a social discussion group for lesbian, bi and trans D.C.-area women. Discussions are followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. The Center is located at 1810 14th St., N.W.

Saturday, Feb. 13

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, the District’s largest mostly gay church, has its annual Valentine’s dance tonight at 7 p.m. at the church. Refreshments will be served. A $7 donation is suggested. Call 202-638-7373 or e-mail [email protected] for more information. The church is located at 474 Ridge St., N.W.

“Love,” a concert by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, is today with shows at 5 and 8 p.m. at Church of the Epiphany located at 1317 G Street N.W. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at www.gmcw.org/tickets, by phone at 202-293-1548 or at the HRC shop at 1633 Connecticut Ave., N.W. The concert will feature a chorus transcription of Brahm’s “Liebeslieder Waltzes” by chorus member Robert T. Boaz and a performance by the Rock Creek Singers, a chamber ensemble of Chorus members.

The 38th annual Scarlet’s Bake Sale is today at the Eagle, which is co-sponsoring the event with Green Lantern, another D.C. gay bar. Cake donations will be accepted from 2 to 4 p.m. They’ll be auctioned off from 5 to 9 p.m. Awards will be given for various categories. Several gay non-profits will receive proceeds. The Eagle is at 639 New York Ave., N.W. For more information, call Stephen Decker at 202-210-7553 or Patrick Grady at 703-863-7295.

DJ Scotty Thompson is at Town tonight and a Universal Gear fashion show will be held. Doors open at 10. Drag show starts at 10:30. DJ Wess spins downstairs. Cover is $8 from 10 to 11 p.m. and $12 after 11. Town is at 2009 8th Street, N.W.

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer group, volunteers from 9:30 a.m. to noon today for Books Plus at MLK Library and later in the week at D.C. Central Kitchen, Human Rights Campaign, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and more. Visit www.burgundycrescent.org for a schedule of opportunities or to register to volunteer.

Sunday, Feb. 14

A gay alumni group of George Mason University, the Lambda Alumni Chapter, is participating in the school’s homecoming festivities today and throughout the week. Contact Rob Pilaud at [email protected] or 202-258-5476 for more information.

Local drag queen Shi-Queeta Lee hosts drag brunch every Sunday at Nellie’s Sports Bar, located at 900 U Street, N.W. Brunch buffet is $20. Miss Lee performs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Visit www.nelliessportsbar.com for more information.

Monday, Feb. 15

A youth support group for gay, lesbian and bi teens meets today from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the GW Center Clinic located at 1922 F St., N.W., suite 103. It’s designed to be a safe space for young adults to discuss coming out, discrimination, identity and other issues. It meets every Monday and is facilitated by Sonia Khan, a psychology grad student. Fees for therapy and the group are on a sliding scale.

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 Street, N.W. Visit www.mccdc.com for more information about the church.

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

Tuesday, Feb. 16

The United ENDA Coalition meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force headquarters to encourage LGBT supporters to help pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Training and pizza are provided. The Task Force is at 1325 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., sixth floor. For more information, contact Aaditi Dubale at [email protected]

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 www.fighthivindc.org 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, a gay bar and dance club, is at the corner of 17th and R streets, N.W.

Wednesday, Feb. 17

Tegan and Sara, a band comprised of lesbian twins, play Warner Theatre tonight. Tickets are $33. Visit www.ticketmaster.com for tickets.

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, the District’s largest mostly gay church, has Ash Wednesday services today at noon and 7 p.m. at the church, which is located at 474 Ridge Street, N.W.

The D.C. Center has LGBT career development with Washington-specific information today from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Center’s new location at 1810 14th St., N.W.

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

Thursday, Feb. 18

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 www.dclambdasquares.org.

Friday, Feb. 19

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. Visit www.betmish.org for more information.

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.”

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. Ziegfeld’s is celebrating its one-year anniversary this weekend.

Saturday, Feb. 20

A concert by members of D.C.’s Different Drummers, a gay ensemble, called “Intimate Winds” is today at 2 p.m. in the Adirondack Room at Hillwood Museum Estate. Fischer Tull’s “Liturgical Symphony,” Richard Strauss’ “Serenade,” and more will be performed. Tickets are $20 ($10 for seniors and students) and are available at the door. Visit www.dcdd.org for more information.

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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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