D.C. police put out a call for help this week in their investigation into five separate attacks against male victims in the city between June 2 and July 30 that investigators believe were motivated by anti-gay bias.
“In an attempt to raise community awareness and solicit information from the public, the Metropolitan Police Department is releasing this information relative to our ongoing investigation into a number of crimes as possible bias-related crimes,” according to a police e-mail alert sent to LGBT activists.
“Moreover, MPD is examining the cases for possible similarities. However, at this time, it has not been determined that these incidents are related,” the e-mail message says.
The alert says the first of the string of incidents took place June 2 about 5:20 p.m. along the 1500 block of R Street, N.W., when three young male suspects approached a male victim as he was “bending over to tie his shoe.” It says one of the suspects used a “homophobic epithet” before he or the other one struck the victim with a wooden object. It describes the suspects only as young black men.
On July 6 at about 9:20 p.m. a male victim was approached by two male suspects along the 800 block of Emerson Street, N.W. and knocked to the ground and assaulted while one of the suspects called him an anti-gay name, the police alert says.
The alert doesn’t disclose the names of any of the victims in the five incidents. In this incident, the victim, 29-year-old D.C. resident Francisco Martin, contacted the Blade shortly after the assault occurred to tell what happened, saying one of the attackers struck him in the head with a strip of plywood.
Martin, a makeup artist, described the suspects as black males, with one appearing between 30 to 35 years old, about 5’ 11” to 6’ tall and weighing between 170 and 180 pounds with a short haircut and wearing a white tank top and blue shorts. He said the other suspect appeared between 25 and 30, was between 5’7” and 5’8” tall and weighed about 150 pounds, with short black hair, a goatee, and wearing a yellow Polo shirt and jeans.
The alert says the third incident took place shortly after midnight on July 24, when the victim says he was approached by several black males after walking outside a club on the 2000 block of P Street, N.W. near Dupont Circle. “It is alleged that the assailants approached the victim and asked if the victim called them a homophobic epithet,” the police alert says
“At this point, the victim was knocked to the ground, assaulted and kicked,” it says. “When the victim attempted to call police from his cell phone, two of the suspects returned, assaulted him more, grabbed his cell phone and fled.” It says the victim described one of the suspects as having a dark complexion, weighing about 170 pounds and wearing a red shirt.
The next incident took place July 27 when “approximately six black males approached a male victim as he entered the lobby of a building in the 1400 block of R Street, N.W.,” the alert says. It says one of the suspects made an anti-gay remark as he and the others “began punching and kicking the victim.” It says the victim was taken to a hospital for treatment of his injuries. It describes the suspects as black males in their teens.
The last of the five incidents occurred July 30 at about 1:45 a.m. as a male victim “was leaving an establishment at 22nd and P Streets, N.W. It says a “subject bumped into him and used a homophobic epithet.” It says the victim walked away but the subject and as many as 15 to 20 other “black males and black females” followed the victim. One or more of the people following him struck him from behind and knocked him to the ground, according to the police alert. It says the suspects fled in three vehicles, including a white Chevy Impala, a blue Toyota Corolla, and a Silver Dodge Charger with Virginia license plates.
The police alert says that anyone with information about the five incidents should call police at 202-727-9099 or 1-888-919-2746. It says people with information may also call the department’s Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit at 202-727-5427.
Comings & Goings
Nathanson takes role at Outright Action
The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]
The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success.
Congratulations to Rikki Nathanson on her new position as Senior Advisor – Global Trans Program with OutRight Action International in New York. Nathanson will be based in D.C.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be taking on this new role as Senior Advisor in OutRight’s Global Trans Program,” said Nathanson. “I have finally found the perfect fit for me: as a trans woman who has been fighting for equality not only for myself, but for others globally, this position is not only a job, it’s intrinsically part of who I am. So, what better way to live, nurture and grow myself.”
Nathanson will be working closely with all program staff to ensure a cohesive and intentional approach to gender issues throughout OutRight’s programs, including its approach to gender ideology movements. She will lead new initiatives on gender advocacy and policy change, focused but not limited to legal gender recognition and anti-discrimination legislation and policies.
Prior to this Nathanson was director of housing programs at Casa Ruby in D.C. She has also held a number of other positions including: founder/executive director of Trans Research, Education, Advocacy & Training (TREAT), Zimbabwe; chairperson Southern Africa Trans Forum, SATF, Cape Town, South Africa; executive director, Ricochet Modeling Agency, Zimbabwe; and company secretary for Dunlop Zimbabwe Limited, Zimbabwe.
SMYAL Director Shakir to step down Dec. 31
Board to launch Executive Search beginning in January
Sultan Shakir, who has served as executive director of D.C.’s LGBTQ youth advocacy organization SMYAL since August 2014, announced on Friday that he will be stepping down from his position effective Dec. 31.
In a Dec. 3 announcement, SMYAL said details of Shakir’s future career plans would be announced in the coming weeks.
“While we are sad to see Sultan leave, we wish him nothing but the same success in his new endeavor as he had at SMYAL,” said Rob Cogorno, SMYAL’s board chair. “His leadership and vision enabled SMYAL to expand greatly needed services to LGBTQ youth in the DC metro area throughout his tenure,” Cogorno said.
“I am immensely proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together in my time at SMYAL,” Shakir said in a statement released by SMYAL. “SMYAL has been an integral and vital resource in the DMV community for over 37 years, and while we have come a long way in combating homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexual health stigma, homelessness, violence against the LGBTQ community, and oppression, we have a long way to go,” he said.
“This work has never been about one person,” said Shakir. “SMYAL was founded by our community and we’re still around because of our community,” he said. “I leave knowing that the commitment and passion of the SMYAL Board, staff, volunteers, and youth leaders have created a solid foundation from which our work will continue to grow until LGBTQ youth no longer need us.”
The SMYAL statement says that under Shakir’s tenure, SMYAL, which stands for Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, expanded its programs and services for LGBTQ youth. Among other things, in 2017 SMYAL opened its first of several housing facilities for homeless LGBTQ youth that include culturally competent case management, education and employment assistance.
“The Youth Housing Program now comprises five programmatic models that serve a combined 61 youth residents,” the statement says.
It points out that also under Shakir’s leadership, SMYAL expanded the age range of the youth its programs serve under a new Little SMYALs program, which welcomes LGBTQ youth ages 6-12. And earlier in 2021 under Shakir’s guidance, SMYAL began a new Clinical Services Department “which provides affirming and accessible mental health counseling,” the statement says.
“The SMYAL Board of Directors will officially launch an Executive Search beginning in January 2022 and expects to have named a new Executive Director by summer 2022,” the statement says. It says the board will soon name an interim executive director to work with SMYAL’s Deputy Executive Director, Jorge Membreno, and the organization’s leadership team to oversee the day-to-day activities until a new executive director is named.
Rainbow History Project to honor LGBTQ ‘Pioneers’
Virtual celebration to take place on Dec. 9
D.C.’s Rainbow History Project says it will honor and recognize 12 individuals and one organization by designating them as Community Pioneers “for their diverse contributions to the Washington-area LGBTQ community” at a Dec. 9 virtual celebration.
“Rainbow History Project is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the LGBT history of metropolitan Washington, D.C.,” the group says in a statement announcing the event. “The Pioneers awards recognize diverse community leaders for their roles as organizational founders, innovators, advocates and volunteers,” the statement says.
“The Pioneers celebration will be held virtually and is designed with special features that reproduce the feeling of attending in-person, such as live streaming and video chatting with other attendees and Pioneers before and after the core awards programing,” according to the statement.
“Celebrating our Community Pioneers has been a cherished tradition since Rainbow History Project’s founding 21 years ago,” said Rob Berger, the organization’s chairperson. “It’s always an inspiring event, and we are happy that our virtual platform will still allow participants to meet and talk with the Pioneers,” Berger said in the statement.
The virtual event is free and open to the public, the statement says. Organizers released this link for those interested in attending, saying a short registration process may require registering in advance.
Following is the list of Community Pioneers scheduled to be honored at the Dec. 9 event as released by Rainbow History Project along with the project’s description of their backgrounds.
– Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a local group that since its founding has addressed equal rights issues for LGBTQ Virginians from a state and local perspective.
– Eboné F. Bell, founder and editor-in-chief of Tagg Magazine and Tagg Communication LLC.
– Bart Forbes, founding member of “Gay Fairfax,” a pioneering television newsmagazine program in Northern Virginia.
– Ellen Kahan, youth and family advocate, president of Rainbow Families, former director of the Lesbian Services Program at Whitman-Walker Health, and currently senior director of programs and partnerships at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
– Theodore Kirkland (deceased), a co-founder of D.C. Black Pride in 1991, member of the Gay Liberation Front and Skyline Faggots, active community health volunteer and advocate.
– Paul Marengo, community leader through LGBTQ organizations including Reel Affirmations, Cherry Fund, and Pride celebrations for youth, Latino, Black and Transgender communities.
– David Mariner, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, and former executive director of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community.
– Mark Meinke founder longtime chair, Rainbow History Project, and co-founder of Rainbow Heritage Network, a national organization for the recognition and preservation of sites, history and heritage associated with sexual and gender minorities.
– Michael “Micci” Sainte Andress, artist, health educator and advocate and an early leader in bringing African Americans into HIV/AIDS clinical trials.
– Boden Sandstrom, founder and owner of Woman Sound (later City Sound), the first all-woman sound company, which makes LGBTQ rights rallies and the women’s music scene possible.
– Casse Culver (deceased), nationally acclaimed D.C. lesbian feminist singer-songwriter, and partner of Boden Sandstrom, whose followers said her love songs and feminist lyrics moved audiences from foot stomping to silent reflection.
– Alan Sharpe, playwright, director and co-founder of the African American Collective Theater in Washington, D.C., in 1976, which now focuses on LGBTQ life and culture in the Black community.
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