Connect with us

Local

Local news in brief

Celebrations mark Kameny’s 85th birthday & more

Published

on

Frank Kameny (Photo by Joe Tresh)

Celebrations mark Kameny’s 85th birthday

At least two events were set to take place this week to celebrate the 85th birthday of D.C. gay activist Frank Kameny, who is credited with founding the LGBT rights movement locally and playing a key role in starting the modern gay rights movement nationwide.

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which Kameny helped found in 1976, is hosting a reception in Kameny’s honor Friday, May 21, at the LGBT Community Center at 1810 14th St., N.W., from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event was to include a special presentation on Kameny’s role in the D.C. LGBT community by fellow activist Paul Kunzler, another Stein Club founder.

A group of Kameny friends and fellow activists were scheduled to hold a separate event honoring his life’s work on behalf of gay rights on Thursday night at the Artist Inn Bed & Breakfast at 1824 R St., N.W., near Dupont Circle. The event, which was sponsored by Helping Our Brothers & Sisters, asked for donations from attendees to go toward a special Kameny fund that will “help support Frank Kameny in his later years of life,” according to an announcement of the event.

David Bradberry, a local activist and friend of Kameny, said local artist Don Patron, who was helping to organize the event, has made about a dozen oil paintings of Kameny. Bradberry said some were made from photos of Kameny taken in years past, including during his service in the U.S. Army during World War II. The paintings were to be sold in a silent auction at the event to help raise money for the Kameny fund.

“Kameny is the father of the modern gay movement, and his achievements are legend,” says the announcement.

“He was one of the leaders of the first gay rights demonstrations at the White House, State Department and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall — four years before Stonewall,” it says. “He founded or co-founded the D.C. chapters of the Mattachine Society and Gay Activists Alliance and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.”

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Marriage applications skyrocket in D.C.

The number of applications for a marriage license in the District of Columbia has continued to rise dramatically since licenses became available to same-sex couples in March.

According to Leah Gurowitz, a spokesperson for the D.C. Superior Court’s Marriage Bureau, as of May 18, the bureau received 2,213 marriage license applications since March 3, the day same-sex couples became eligible to apply for a marriage license.

Gurowitz said the Marriage Bureau doesn’t compile figures showing how many of the applications are from same-sex couples. But she said the 2,213 figure, which covers only a two-and-a-half-month period, can be compared to the 3,096 marriage license applications received by the bureau for the entire year in 2009.

“We can’t say that they are all same-sex couples,” said Aisha Mills, president of the Campaign for All D.C. Families, which successfully lobbied the City Council to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009. “But we can say that certainly this is the largest influx of applications they’ve had.”

Mills noted that she and her partner, who applied for a marriage license on March 3, encountered delays in scheduling a civil marriage ceremony at the courthouse.

“We were told the court had a backlog lasting through early June,” she said. “So for the first time ever, the court opened on a Saturday to perform ceremonies,” she said. “It was just one Saturday in late April, but it was the only time they have ever done that before to try to catch up.”

Gurowitz has said the backlog came about after far more same-sex couples applied for civil ceremonies at the courthouse than had been expected. She said steps have been taken to accommodate everyone that applies or a courthouse ceremony.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Capital Pride director to step down

The executive director of Capital Pride is planning to step down from her role following this year’s celebration.

Dyana Mason will leave Capital Pride Alliance at the end of July, when her contract expires, to pursue an advanced degree at the University of Southern California. Capital Pride Alliance announced Mason’s plans Friday.

Mason, who’s originally from California, is planning to pursue a doctorate in policy management.

Michael Lutz, president of the Capital Pride board of directors, said that while Mason “will be missed greatly, we also support and applaud her aspirations, and wish her the very best.”

“We were very fortunate to have Dyana with us as Capital Pride transitioned to its own self-perpetuating entity,” he said. “Her role as a servant-leader helped us to reach many of our growth goals earlier than expected.”

Capital Pride Alliance will post a formal job announcement to its web site, capitalpride.org, May 22. A selection process will take place over the summer, and Capital Pride Alliance aims to announce Mason’s successor this fall.

JOSHUA LYNSEN

Equality Virginia’s CEO resigns

The chief executive officer of Equality Virginia has resigned his position, according to a statement issued by the organization.

Jon Blair submitted his resignation April 30. Blair joined Equality Virginia in January 2009, notably taking the helm of an LGBT organization despite being straight.

Mark Board, chair of Equality Virginia’s board, said in the statement that Blair’s resignation was “unsolicited, unexpected and without notice.”

David Lampo, vice president of Virginia Log Cabin and a former Equality Virginia board member, said his understanding was Blair left Equality Virginia to take a job as campaign manager for Democratic Alaskan gubernatorial candidate Ethan Berkowitz.

According to the statement, Jean Segner, another Equality Virginia board member, will take up the role as interim CEO immediately and will serve without compensation.

Board said Equality Virginia is “fortunate to have board members ready to step up” to continue the work of the organization.

“The continuity of leadership offered by Jean Segner and our current staff ensures that [Equality Virginia] will continue to move forward effectively changing laws and changing lives,” Board said.

Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, Equality Virginia’s legislative strategist and general counsel, told the Blade the organization will be looking for a new CEO this summer after the membership of the board transition July 1.

“I suspect that the search process and all of that won’t … start until later this summer,” she said.

Lampo said those involved with the organization were “surprised and shocked” by Blair’s resignation.

“I think he did a reasonably good job given the constraints that a lot of organizations like that were under during the recession, with the substantially decreased funding, and decreased interest on the part of the GLBT community,” Lampo said.

Still, Lampo said Blair held a “political and partisan background” that affected his leadership at Equality Virginia.

“I think he always had trouble adjusting to the non-partisan atmosphere of an organization like Equality Virginia and the fact that he wasn’t down in the partisan trenches during election time,” Lampo said.

CHRIS JOHNSON

D.C. man guilty in anti-gay hate crime

A D.C. Superior Court jury last week rendered a guilty verdict for a bias-related assault and robbery against one of two men charged with attacking two teenagers in Southeast Washington in November.

The jury found Michael Cowan, 23, guilty of one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, and one count of assault with significant injury, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Both charges were considered bias-related.

The statement says witnesses observed Cowan calling one of the two victims, a 17-year-old male, a “faggot” during the attack. The second victim was a 19-year-old male, according to the statement.

The jury found a second defendant, Vernon Long, 25, guilty of robbery and assault-related offenses, but acquitted him of the government’s allegation that the two charges were bias-related.

The statement says the incident began the day before Thanksgiving as the two victims were leaving a convenience store along the 2400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, S.E. It says the two defendants attacked the victims from behind and demanded they turn over their jackets.

“While the second victim was huddled in the fetal position on the ground, Cowan and Long, along with accomplices, repeatedly punched and kicked the second victim in the face and body,” says the statement. “As the attack continued, Cowan (and possibly others n the group) repeatedly called the second victim a ‘faggot.’”

Both defendants face a possible sentence of more than 10 years in prison, and Cowan faces greater jail time under an enhanced sentencing provision in the city’s hate crimes law.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Maryland

Protests interrupt Moms for Liberty meeting about removing books in Howard County schools

Guest speaker led book-removal campaign in Carroll County

Published

on

Gabriella Monroe holds a poster that says 'Ban Bigotry Not Books' outside Howard County’s Central Branch library in Columbia on Feb. 26, 2024 (Photo by Sam Mallon for the Baltimore Banner)

BY KRISTEN GRIFFITH | When a Howard County chapter of Moms for Liberty wanted to learn how to remove books from schools, they were met with a swarm of protesters sporting rainbow colors and signs looking to send the message that such actions are not welcome in their district.

The conservative parents’ group met Monday night at Howard’s Central Branch library in Columbia to brainstorm how they could get books they deemed inappropriate out of their children’s school libraries. Their guest speaker for the evening was Jessica Garland, who led a successful book-removal campaign in Carroll County. The Howard chapter wanted the playbook.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

Continue Reading

Rehoboth Beach

Former CAMP Rehoboth official pleads guilty to felony theft

Salvatore Seeley faces possible jail time, agrees to reimburse $176,000

Published

on

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Salvatore “Sal” Seeley, who served as an official at the Rehoboth Beach, Del., CAMP Rehoboth LGBTQ community center for 20 years, has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of Theft In Excess of $50,000 for allegedly embezzling  funds from the organization for at least a two-and-a-half-year period, according to a Sussex County, Del., Superior Court indictment and a spokesperson for the Delaware Office of the Attorney General.

The spokesperson, Mat Marshall, sent the Blade a copy of the indictment, which he said was handed down against Seeley on Feb. 27 and which provides the only specific court information that the Washington Blade could immediately obtain.

“Salvatore C. Seeley, between the 27th day of February 2019 and the 7th day of September 2021, in the County of Sussex, State of Delaware, did take property belonging to Camp Rehoboth, Inc., consisting of United States currency and other miscellaneous property valued at more than $50,000, intending to appropriate same,” the indictment states.

“I can further confirm that the Defendant entered a guilty plea to one count of Theft in Excess of $50,000,” spokesperson Marshall told the Blade in an email message. “Mr. Seeley also agrees to make restitution of $176,199.78 to CAMP Rehoboth,” Marshall said. “He will be sentenced on April 5 and does face the possibility of prison time.”

Marshall declined to provide additional information on the findings of the law enforcement investigation into Seeley’s alleged theft. The restitution figure of $176,199.79 suggests investigators believe Seeley embezzled at least that amount from CAMP Rehoboth during the time he worked for the organization.

Seeley couldn’t immediately be reached for comment

CAMP Rehoboth describes itself as a nonprofit LGBTQ community service organization and the largest organization of its type “serving the needs of LGBTQ+ people in Rehoboth, greater Sussex County, and throughout the state of Delaware.” The statement adds that the organization “is dedicated to creating a positive environment inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities in Rehoboth and its related communities.”

Kim Leisey, who began her job as executive director of CAMP Rehoboth in July of 2023, said it was her understanding that officials with the organization discovered funds were missing and opened an investigation in September of 2021, a short time before Seeley left the organization. Leisey said that at the time of his departure, Seeley served as CAMP Rehoboth’s director of health and wellness programs. 

At that time, former D.C. Center for the LGBT Community director David Mariner was serving as CAMP Rehoboth’s executive director and reportedly took steps to open an investigation into missing funds. Wesley Combs, CAMP Rehoboth’s current board president, said Seeley resigned from his job around that time in 2021.

“I know that I took this job knowing there was a concern and a problem and an investigation,” Leisey told the Blade. “And I also know that the board of CAMP Rehoboth has done everything it needs to do to ensure that we were compliant, cooperative and that things are going really well here at CAMP Rehoboth.”

Leisey said CAMP Rehoboth currently has a staff of six full-time employees and several contract employees. She said the organization has a current annual budget of $1.4 million.

Continue Reading

District of Columbia

Capital Pride announces 2024 Pride theme

‘Totally radical’ a nod to 80s and 90s

Published

on

Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos, on left, announces this year's Pride theme at the Pride Reveal party on Thursday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Pride Alliance on Thursday announced this year’s Pride theme is “totally radical.”

The organization made the announcement at Penn Social in Downtown D.C.

“Capital Pride’s 2024 theme celebrates the courageous spirit and unwavering strength and resilience that defined the LGBTQ+ community during the transformative decades of the 1980s and ‘90s,” said Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos. “It’s about embracing our authenticity, pushing boundaries and advocating for a world where everyone can live their truth without fear or discrimination.”

Capital Pride on Thursday announced this year’s Pride parade, which will take place on June 8, will begin at 14th and T Streets, N.W., and end at Pennsylvania Avenue and 9th Street, N.W.

The Capital Pride Block Party and Family Area will once again take place on 17th Street in Dupont Circle. A Tea Dance will also take place on Constitution Avenue, N.W., near the end of the parade. 

The Capital Pride Festival and Concert will take place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., on June 9.

Capital Pride has also launched a campaign to raise $1.5 million for a new D.C. LGBTQ community center. 

WorldPride will take place in D.C. in 2025. The event will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Pride events in the nation’s capital.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular