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Queery: Taunee Grant

20 questions with the Gay Men’s Chorus marketer

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Taunee Grant (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Taunee Grant wasn’t initially sure if the marketing/communications job with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington was right. The Theresa, N.Y., native had been in Buffalo for 10 years when Grant’s partner of six years, Tessa Lew, was offered a full-time position in the costume department of Shakespeare Theatre Company in late 2008.

“I hemmed and hawed a little,” Grant admits. “It was the first job that was offered and I didn’t know if I should take the first one that came along but then Tessa’s mother said, ‘This could be great blessing, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,’ and that ended up being so true. It’s a dream job for me. Perfect.”

Grant, 32, identifies as queer and trans and is transitioning but hasn’t decided if a name change is in the cards. “It’s kind of an awkward time,” Grant says. “I probably will but I don’t know for sure yet.”

So what’s it like being surrounded by gay men all the time? Grant calls the Chorus “very warm” and “a big family” but also keeps a separate social life with a partner and a group of friends — mostly gay and straight couples who share their interests such as organic gardening, kayaking, whitewater canoeing and the arts.

The Chorus is gearing up for its fall season after taking July and August off. “Men in Tights: a Pink Nutcracker” opens in December while Grant toils away at subscription renewals. Grant admits the job has challenges but finds it rewarding. “Working in the gay community just feels right for me,” Grant says. “I’d kind of been moving toward it for a while. It just feels right.” Grant lives in Capitol Hill.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve never been really in the closet, whether I look like a lesbian, transgendered, or like a guy, I just look queer. There is no option for me to pass as straight unless I decide to create an elaborate and ridiculous costume for myself. My mother asked me if I thought I was gay my junior year in high school. That was a tough conversation. She was so flustered that we missed our exit on the way home and had to turn the car around when we found ourselves at the foot of the bridge to Canada.

Who’s your gay hero?
There are many. Allen Ginsberg. I think the way that his work has documented a gay man’s voice in America is profoundly important. I think that Michaelangelo Signorile’s book “Queer In America” was responsible for inspiring an entire generation of activists. I have to include John Waters, Dorothy Alison, Leslie Feinberg, Urvashi Vaid, Sapphire, Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I’m still exploring all there is to offer but I do know 275 gay men who will be happy to give you their opinion, perhaps in the form of a song.

Describe your dream gay wedding.
I don’t dream in gay wedding. If I did, I hope it would look like a Kenneth Anger film.

What non-gay issue are you most passionate about?
Sustainable agriculture. Producing food below the cost of production is bad for farmers, communities, nutrition and the environment. I also think it is bringing us into a state of living where preparing and sharing quality food isn’t meaningful.

What historical outcome would you change?
I’d spare the world from eight years of Bush, Jr.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
During my first week of work with GMCW, the Chorus was invited to sing at “We Are One: the Obama Inaugural Celebration” at the Lincoln Memorial. Two weeks later I found myself backstage where I met Martin Luther King III, spoke with a delightful woman who sang in choirs for at least three inaugural ceremonies and stood directly in front of Stevie Wonder when he stopped on the grass to sing a few verses of “My Cherie Amour” with GMCW.

On what do you insist?
Joy. Fresh air. Honesty. A good haircut. Good shoes. Good pens.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“I found out I’m going to the Americans for the Arts National Arts Marketing Project Conference this fall. Very exciting.”

If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“On the Road to Find Out” or maybe “The Tranny in the Rye”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would do you?
I’d like to joke that I’d torment Maggie Gallagher and Bishop Harry Jackson with the prospect of turning them gay. But in seriousness, I’ll be writing letters and making calls to say that homosexuality should not be treated as a disease.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
There is a common bond that unites human beings and all natural things. It’s not an iPhone.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep the words gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender out in the forefront. It is celebratory, relevant and our unique culture as LGBT people should be respected. We change hearts by telling the stories of all of our lives. I was so inspired by young LGBT activists at the National Equality March last October. I think they have the power to call out the classism in the LGBT movement and that they are a generation who sees the dark consequences of assimilationist ideas in the LGBT movement. To those young leaders, my advice is to hang on to your ideals.

What would you walk across hot coals for?
My partner, Tessa. Absolutely. And maybe at the end of the row of coals we’d meet in a circle and have that gay dream wedding you asked me about.

What gay stereotype annoys you most?
Most any stereotype that isn’t “by gays for gays” for our own enjoyment or cultural relevance. It irritates me when I sometimes see straight people suddenly become usually loud, superficial, catty or flamey in the company of gay men. It’s so offensive and so very lame.

What’s your favorite gay movie?
“The Cockettes,” “Paris is Burning,” “Antonia’s Line” and all early Almodovar or Waters films.

What’s the most overrated social custom?
Assigning everything under the sun, inanimate or living, a male or female or “appropriated other” gender whether they want one or not.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?
A comment I heard at Nellie’s Sports Bar made it on Overheard in D.C.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?
You are defined by what you do, not necessarily by your potential to do it.

Why Washington?
Aside from the obvious cultural tourism stuff, which is fantastic, I love that I can leave the office and get in a boat to get a different perspective or escape for a few hours. I appreciate Washington’s rich and long standing cultural diversity. … It’s a great city to enjoy the company of intelligent, opinionated people who are passionate about their work, whatever it may be.

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Real Estate

2024 tax season tips for landlords

A crucial period for investors to assess financial standings

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For many landlords, March can be a stressful time due to the upcoming deadlines to file annual tax returns. The year prior to April is a crucial period for property investors to assess their financial standings, ensure compliance with tax regulations, and take advantage of available tax-saving strategies. As a housing provider, understanding the intricacies of the tax code and how it impacts landlords can significantly impact your bottom line. 

Deductions for Rental Property Owners

One of the advantages of being a landlord in the United States is the ability to deduct numerous expenses related to the rental which can significantly reduce your taxable income. Do not overlook this benefit as it is the federal government’s incentive to promote the development and ownership of rental property. Schedule E of the federal form 1040 organizes the financial results of the rental property from the tax year and is how you report it to the IRS. 

If you qualify as a real estate professional under IRS guidelines, you may be able to deduct rental real estate losses against your other income, reducing your overall tax liability.

Here are some key deductions to consider:

Mortgage Interest: Landlords can deduct the interest paid on mortgage loans for rental properties. Keep detailed records of your mortgage payments and ensure that the loan is used to acquire, improve, or maintain the property.  The lender delivers a form 1098 form to owners of the property to make it easier to claim this deduction.

Property Expenses: Ordinary and necessary expenses related to the property can be deducted. This includes all expenses getting the property ready to rent, charges for finding tenants, management fees, repairs, preventative and on-going maintenance, utilities, HOA dues, etc.  Homeowner insurance premiums and real property taxes can also be deducted and if they are paid to the lender in escrow who in turn pays those bills for you. Those payments will be located on your annual escrow report from the lender or on the form 1098.  Even travel expenses incurred for property-related purposes may be deductible from rental income.

Professional Services: If you do not manage your rental properties yourself, any fees paid to property management professionals such as my firm, an accountant you may have, or real estate attorneys you retain are deductible. These experts should also be able to help you navigate the complexities of tax on income generated by owning and renting out residential real estate.

Depreciation: Depreciation is a non-cash deduction that allows you to account for the wear and tear of your rental property over time. Even though you are not recording this as an expense that you pay for, the IRS provides for a declaration of depreciation expense to recognize that assets lose their value over time.  There are specific guidelines for depreciating different components of your property, such as buildings and appliances or capital improvements made.

Depreciation: A Valuable Benefit to Landlords

Depreciation is a powerful tax-saving tool that deserves special attention. It allows you to allocate a portion of the property’s cost over its useful life, thus reducing your taxable income. To make the most of depreciation, consider the following:

The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) is the method used by the IRS to determine depreciation deductions.  MACRS tables to calculate depreciation accurately are located online and individual residential properties depreciate at a rate of 3.636% each year for 27.5 years.  Note that only buildings and contents are depreciated.  You cannot depreciate the land value.  

Make sure to maintain good records of the property’s original purchase cost, all acquisition fees and charges paid, improvements over time, and other expenses that can be depreciated. These records may be harder to locate if you have lived in the house as owner occupant for some time.  All of this information will be needed to set up your depreciation schedule whether you do it yourself or rely on a tax preparation professional.  Lastly, be aware of  the “recapture tax.” If you sell a rental property for a profit after having claimed depreciation expenses, you may need to pay “recapture tax” on the accumulated depreciation deductions. Proper planning can help minimize this tax liability.

Tax Preparation Tips for DC Landlords

If someone else collects your rental income for you, they will deliver to you a form 1099-MISC. The income reported should match the gross income you receive over that tax year, not the net income after expenses. This is a common misunderstanding.  All rental related expenses can be deducted from the reported gross income.

If your rental income includes subsidized rental payments from the DC Housing Authority, you will be sent a form 10099-MISC.  If your manager also issues a form 1099 on your tax ID, then it needs to be reconciled in your tax return to inform the IRS and to avoid double reporting (and taxation) of rental income.

Every year owners with rental property in the District of Columbia need to file tax returns with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR). It is important to keep your tax filings current as it can create a roadblock in the future to renew your business license or do other business with the District government if you need a clean hands certificate.

A D-30 form is filed to report rental income, even if you do not earn other income in the District. You must also file a Personal Property Tax return FP-31, even if you have no personal property at the rental. The latter filing can be done online within minutes as a zero dollar return in your MyTaxDC portal. CPM has instructions if you need help. 

If you wish to file an extension so that your DC taxes are filed later in the year, use form FR-128 and file it on time.  NOTE: If you expect to have tax due for when you file the D-30, you must pay the estimated amount at the time of filing the extension. Failure to do so or failure to pay the right amount, will result in fines and penalties.

Navigating tax season as a property investor or landlord requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a good understanding of the tax code. Deductions, depreciation, and tax-saving strategies are essential tools that can help you maximize your return on investment and minimize your tax liability. 

As March arrives and tax filing begins, consider consulting with a tax professional to ensure you are making the most of these opportunities. With the right approach, you can make tax season a financially rewarding time for your real estate investments rather than a burden..

This article was written with publicly available information and is not to be considered as professional tax advice. A taxpayer should always consult a tax professional to determine if the ideas and strategies presented in this article apply to their situation. 

Note: Tax deadlines may vary based on individual circumstances, state residency, and tax situations. Always verify deadlines with the relevant tax authorities and consult with a tax professional if needed.

Scott Bloom is owner and Senior Property Manager of Columbia Property Management. Bloom founded Columbia Property Management in 2012. CPM’s goal is to provide a powerful, personal level of service to clients. For more information and resources, go to columbiapm.com 

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Real Estate

Building dream homes with confidence

The pros, cons, and LGBTQ insights of new construction

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One key advantage of buying a newly constructed home is the ability to customize its finishings.

Buying a new construction home offers a unique set of advantages and challenges compared to purchasing a pre-owned property. Understanding these can help potential homeowners make informed decisions. Here’s an exploration of the pros and cons of buying a new construction home and the importance of professional real estate assistance.

Advantages of Buying a New Construction Home

Customization: One of the primary benefits of buying a new construction home is the ability to customize it according to your preferences. Buyers often have the option to select floor plans, finishes, and fixtures, making the home truly their own.

Modern Features: New homes are built with the latest technologies and materials, offering more energy-efficient windows, appliances, HVAC systems, and construction methods. This can lead to significant savings on utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

Less Maintenance: Since everything from the appliances to the roof is brand new, homeowners typically face fewer maintenance issues in the first few years compared to older homes where systems might be nearing the end of their lifespan.

Warranties: New construction homes usually come with warranties that cover the structure and sometimes appliances and systems for a certain period, providing peace of mind to the buyer.

Disadvantages of Buying a New Construction Home

Higher Costs: Often, new construction homes come at a premium price compared to older homes. Customizations and upgrades can also add up quickly, further increasing the overall cost.

Delays: Construction timelines can be unpredictable due to weather, supply chain issues, or labor shortages. This can lead to delays in the move-in date, which can be problematic for buyers with specific timing needs.

Immature Landscaping: Newly developed areas may lack mature trees and landscaping, which can affect the property’s aesthetic appeal and privacy. It may take years for new plantings to grow fully.

Community Development: In new subdivisions, construction can continue for months or years after you move in, leading to ongoing noise, dust, and traffic.

Importance of Connecting with a GayRealEstate.com Realtor

Expert Guidance: A Realtor familiar with new construction can provide invaluable advice on the quality of different builders, potential future developments in the area, and the negotiation of upgrades and closing costs.

Representation: Builders have their own sales agents or representatives looking out for their interests. Having your own real estate agent ensures someone is advocating for your best interests, helping to navigate contracts and warranties.

Market Knowledge: Realtors have a deep understanding of the local real estate market, which can help in evaluating the new construction home’s quality and price against current market conditions.

LGBTQ Friendly: For LGBTQ individuals and families, finding a welcoming and supportive community is crucial. Realtors from GayRealEstate.com specialize in understanding the unique needs and concerns of the LGBTQ community, ensuring a smooth and respectful home-buying experience.

Before visiting a new home community, connecting with a Realtor from GayRealEstate.com can provide you with a competitive advantage. Their expertise, advocacy, and personalized support can help navigate the complexities of buying a new construction home, making the process less stressful and more rewarding. Whether it’s negotiating the price, understanding the fine print of your contract, or choosing the right community, a professional real estate agent is an invaluable asset in your home-buying journey.

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Autos

Rugged yet ritzy: Ford Bronco, Nissan Pathfinder

One offers retro design, the other an edgy and chic look

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Ford Bronco

Both the Ford Bronco and Nissan Pathfinder have rough-and-ready reputations. Each boasts butch bona fides and some nifty off-road capability. But dig a bit deeper into your wallet, and you can step up to higher trim levels for added power and a bit more bling. 

FORD BRONCO HERITAGE LIMITED EDITION

$70,000 

MPG: 17 city/17 highway

0 to 60 mph: 6.2 seconds

Maximum cargo room: 77.6 cu. ft. 

PROS: Retro design, rousing engine rumble, myriad amenities

CONS: Low fuel economy, bouncy ride, pricey

IN A NUTSHELL: After a 24-year hiatus, the Ford Bronco came galloping back to showrooms in 2021. Today there are nine trim levels, including the Heritage Limited Edition that I just finished test driving for a week. At $70,000, this Bronco—second only to the $90,000 Raptor—still costs a pretty penny: $30,000 more than the entry-level model. Yet the higher price is worth it, with a gritty V6 turbo that offers much more giddy-up than the standard four-cylinder engine. 

There’s also a rad retro design, with heritage-style graphics, multiple skid plates, and special bumpers and fenders. Exterior colors—especially the Robin’s Egg Blue, coupled with a white grille and white roof—are a nice throwback to the 1960s. So are the removable doors and roof panels for a safari-like look à la an old-timey “Wild Kingdom” episode. 

Yes, the Bronco is a truck-based SUV, so expect more bounciness than in a Lexus or a Lincoln. But the stable steering and comfortable seats help make up for it. Ground clearance is high, thanks to large 35-inch mud-terrain tires. Luckily, running boards and numerous rubber-lined grab handles make it easy to climb in and out. 

Despite the sound-deadening insulation, there’s still a fair amount of exterior wind noise at high speeds. But this makes it easier to hear the sweet sound of the Bronco’s strong whinny, er, exhaust growl. 

Along with a vibe that’s decidedly old-school cool, this mid-sizer comes with lots of modern amenities: keyless entry, remote start, heated seats, ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, 360-degree surround-view camera and 10-speaker premium B&O stereo. New this year is a larger, 12-inch touchscreen. I also liked the huge stowage area, with convenient cargo straps to hold down gear, a flip-up rear window for easy access, and a swing-out door to hold a full-size spare tire. 

I guess you could say Ford wasn’t horsing around when it decided to add such a fully loaded Bronco to the stable. 

NISSAN PATHFINDER ROCK CREEK

$44,000

MPG: 20 city/23 highway

0 to 60 mph: 7.0 seconds

Maximum cargo room: 80.4 cu. ft. 

PROS: Roomy, comfy, muted cabin

CONS: So-so gas mileage, tight third row, many competitors 

IN A NUTSHELL: Seeking an SUV that’s more diamonds than denim? Then consider the Nissan Pathfinder, also redesigned just a few years ago and a big step up from the previous model. But instead of retro styling like a Ford Bronco, the look here is a combo of edgy and chic. 

That’s especially true with the Rock Creek version, which sports an aggressive front fascia, grille inserts, trendy black cladding, raised off-road suspension, all-terrain tires and tubular roof rack that can hold 220 pounds. “Rock Creek” badging, which is stamped on the side panels and rear liftgate, is also embroidered in stylish orange contrast stitching on the water-resistant seats. All-wheel drive — optional on all other trims — is standard here. And Rock Creek towing capacity, which is 3,500 pounds on most other Pathfinders, is an impressive 6,000 pounds.

The spacious cabin has enough room for up to eight passengers, though third-row legroom is tight. In the second row, you can opt for a pair of captain’s chairs instead of a three-person bench seat. Regardless, those rear seats are heated, which is a nice touch. 

Nissan has done a good job of making vehicles that feel as rich and luxurious as those in its high-end Infiniti lineup. On the Pathfinder, that means thicker glass and extra insulation for a whisper-quiet cabin. There’s also brushed-aluminum trim and a sporty flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters. Along with smartphone integration, wireless charging pad and voice-command capability, other tech features include a windshield head-up display, 360-degree bird’s-eye camera, ambient interior lighting, 13-speaker Bose stereo and a slew of safety options. 

Nissan Pathfinder

When comparing the Ford Bronco with the Nissan Pathfinder, it’s hard to resist the rip-roaring ride of a fun and feisty Bronco. But the more practical Pathfinder is still plenty adventurous, especially with all the goodies that come in the Rock Creek.

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