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Calendar for April 23

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Friday, April 23

Burgundy Crescent volunteers today for “GOING TO THE CHAPEL: Singing for Justice and Joy” at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. To participate, visit burgundycrescent.org.

[Gay] Comedy Show moves to Town Danceboutique, 2009 8th St., N.W., this month. The show is from 8-10 p.m. with your host Shawn Hollenbach. Admission is $10.

EFN Lounge presents “Ru Who?” featuring special guest Mystique from season two of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The show starts at 9 p.m. at EFN Lounge, 1318 9th St. N.W., with DJ Matt Bailer. Must be 21+ to enter; $5 cover benefits Miss Gay DC Pageants.

Joan Rivers performs at the Avalon Theater, 42 E. Dover St., Easton, MD at 8 p.m. Call 410-822-7299 for tickets, which range $50-100.

Wicked Liquid, featuring Josh Colon from “Real World DC,” performs at Santa Fe Café, in College Park, Md., at 11 p.m.

Whitman-Walker Clinic’s 17th annual spring gala, “Masquerade on the Mall.” The black tie event will be held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, 1301 Constitution Ave., N.W. from 6:30-11 p.m. Proceeds will benefit HIV/AIDS services at Whitman-Walker. For more information visit wwc.org. See related story on page 24.

Saturday, April 24

Rainbow Families, DC, an organization for LGBT parents and prospective parents, holds its 2010 conference at GDS High School, 4200 Davenport St., N.W., from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Visit rainbowfamiliesdc.org for information.

Burgundy Crescent volunteers today for the annual Anacostia River Clean-up and Earth Day Celebration. To participate, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Miss Gay DC America 2010 Regional Pageant, hosted by Town Danceboutique located at 2009 8th Street, N.W. Pre-judging of evening gowns at 5:45 p.m. Pageant begins promptly at 6:45 p.m. Directly after the pageant Town will feature DJ Manny Lehman; $10 cover.

Fourth Saturdays at MOVA Lounge are POZ Saturdays. POZ mixers provide a supportive atmosphere for those who are HIV positive and those who want to help eradicate the stigma surrounding HIV. Music will be provided by DJ Eric Evans and DJ Bryan Yamasaki. POZ starts at 9 p.m. MOVA Lounge is located at 1435 P St., N.W.

Fourth Saturday of each month The Green Lantern, 1335 Green Ct., N.W., is the home of électrik with your host Timur Tugberk. électrik features the best in dance, electro, deep and dirty house, trance, and circuit music provided by Dj Moh Ducis. No cover from 10-11 p.m., $5 cover from 11 p.m.-3 a.m.

BLOWOFF at the 9:30 club, 815 V St., N.W., from 11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Tickets $12

SHIFT returns to Cobalt, 1639 R St., N.W., with “April Showers” with DJ MAJR (Mikey Adolphson) providing a mix of electro, indie rock, pop and new wave. 10 p.m.-3 a.m., $5 cover, 21+

Sunday, April 25

Drag Brunch at Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U St., N.W., hosted by Shi-Queeta Lee. Every Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $20 brunch buffet, your first mimosa is free.

Monday, April 26

Bears Do Yoga. Classes will begin at 6:15 p.m. in the DC Center activity room, 1810 14th St., N.W., and last for one hour. There is a suggested $5 donation. To RSVP for this class e-mail [email protected]

Join Harvey Fierstein and the cast of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Town Danceboutique, 2009 8th Street, N.W., for an intimate cabaret performance benefitting Broadway Cares. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Food by Joaquin Fajardo. Entry to the performance is $20. 21+

Country Western dance lessons at Remingtons, 639 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E. (half-block west of Eastern Market Metro) from 8:30-9:30 p.m., $5 per person, per lesson.

Tuesday, April 27

Free Workshop on HIV/AIDS Surveillance Data: “HIV/AIDS Surveillance in the District: the 2008 Epidemiologic Report,” presented by Mid-Atlantic Public Health Training Center, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and the Washington Public Health Association. The workshop will take place from 1-3 p.m., in George Washington University’s Rose Hall, 2300 I St., N.W., room 229. The workshop is free, but registration is required. For more information, e-mail [email protected]

Whitman-Walker Clinic’s HIV Mobile Testing will be located at Miriam’s Kitchen, 2401 Virginia Ave., N.W., from 4:30-6 p.m.

Volunteers will be assembling safer sex kits and enjoying drink specials at Motley. 7-10:30 p.m. Motley is the upstairs bar at EFN Lounge, located at 1318 9th St., N.W.

Drag Bingo at Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U St., N.W., hosted by Shi-Queeta Lee, every Tuesday starting at 8 p.m. Free to play, lots of cool prizes.

Wednesday, April 28

Center for American Progress Action Fund presents “Understanding and Meeting the Needs of LGBT Elders” from noon-1:30 p.m. Rep. Tammy Baldwin is the keynote speaker; Winnie Stachelberg moderates. Admission is free and seating is first come, first served. Lunch served at 11:30. 1333 H St., N.W., 10th floor. For more information call 202-682-1611.

Each Wednesday at the Green Lantern is POZ Wednesday. POZ mixers provide a supportive atmosphere for those who are HIV positive and those who want to help eradicate the stigma surrounding HIV. Music will be provided by DJ Jason Horswill and DJ ELE. POZ starts at 8 p.m. The Green Lantern is located at 1335 Green Ct., N.W.

Hollaback Transgender Support Group meets from 6:30-8 p.m. in the DC Center activity room. The DC Center is located at 1810 14th St., N.W., convenient to the U Street/Cardozo Metro and on the 14th Street bus lines.

Thursday, April 29

Edie Beale Returns to Washington, D.C. to Perform Live at Cobalt, 1639 R St., N.W., at 7:30 p.m. “Edie Beale LIVE at Reno Sweeney” recreates the nightclub performance of Ms. Beale, of Grey Gardens fame, in New York City in 1978; Ganymeade’s artistic director, Jeffrey Johnson plays Beale.

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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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