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Exploring the mysteries of Leonardo

Exhibit reveals a ‘superhuman’ artist, inventor



“His mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote.”

Thus wrote art historian Helen Gardner about the archetype of Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci. But is there a mystery still about Leonardo’s sexual orientation?

This giant polymath of the High Renaissance — painter, sculptor, scientist, civil and military engineer, architect, mathematician, musician, anatomist, botanist and writer — appears to have no close relationships with women, except for one. He kept his private life indeed quite secret.

His sexual orientation has been the subject of analysis and speculation and even satire.

He has been thought by many, including Sigmund Freud, to have been gay, but Freud believed him to have merely been latent — gay-oriented but that those desires were unfulfilled.

Some have concluded that he was chastely gay, traumatically stung into sexless celibacy after a charge against him of sodomy with a male prostitute in 1476 when he was 24.

Or instead, as the art historian Kenneth Clark supposed, was Leonardo intimate with two of his pupils? One of them confided to Leonardo’s brothers after his death that the great man’s feelings for his young students were “sviscerato et ardentissimo” (“deeply felt and most ardent love”).

And then there are Leonardo’s private, erotic drawings of one of those pupils, also his ward, the notorious boy known by his well-deserved nickname “Salai” (the little unclean one), who came to live with Leonardo when he was a 10-year-old in 1490 when the painter was 38, and lived with him for 30 more years. Other paintings, especially “John the Baptist” and “Bacchus,” depict androgyny and homoeroticism.

An exhibit at the National Geographic Museum, “Da Vinci – the Genius,” which closes there on Sept. 12, should help to sweep away some of the mysteries surrounding da Vinci, the man who was perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived, whose unquenchable curiosity was equaled only by his vast powers of invention.

The exhibit, which concentrates on his scientific and engineering side as much as his artistic scope, illustrates the point made by the historian Marco Resci who declared of Leonardo that his vision of the world was cooly rational and empirical and not mysterious at all.

For example, in the National Geographic exhibit, which offers a stunning catalogue of the range of da Vinci’s epic genius, consider the section on flight, summed up by Leonardo himself in these words: “There shall be wings! If the accomplishment be not for me, t’is for some other.” For Leonardo was the first to look at the science of flight and in the process to create the engineering of aeronautics.

Leonardo began this study working on the design for flying machines based on wing movements he observed closely by analyzing the flight patterns of birds and bats and dissecting them to study the anatomy of their wings. Later, however, he realized that humans — with less than a quarter of their weight in their arms and chest muscles — would simply never have the strength to fly like birds.

So he began instead to investigate flight without wing movement, by careful study of wind velocity and ways to use air currents to reach great heights. And his ideas, sketched in his many notebooks using his striking mirror-image cursive (being left handed, it was easier for him to write from right to left), foreshadow the use of gliders, airplanes and helicopters and also parachutes of today.

The genius of the National Geographic Exhibit is how it demonstrates the full scope of Leonardo’s genius. It is a comprehensive traveling presentation that required more than a decade to complete and features a vast array of full-scale machine inventions built according to his personal “codices” (or notebooks). It also includes reproductions of his most famous paintings, including the “Mona Lisa.”

To understand the mystery and the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, this is an opportunity not to be missed.


Bars & Parties

Support HIV research with a drag show

Tara Hoot, Evry Pleasure, TrevHER to perform



Tara Hoot performs at Cherry Sundays on Sunday, April 7 at 11 a.m. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

El Techo will host, in partnership with Cherry Fund, a special edition of “Cherry Sundays” on Sunday, April 7 at 11 a.m. 

This event is a one-day fundraising bottomless brunch. There will be performances by Evry Pleasure, Tara Hoot and TrevHER, with DJ Lemz. All tequila shot purchases will be donated to the Cherry Fund.

The Cherry Fund raises money for LGBTQ non-profits whose primary goal is to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS with prevention, treatment and education, and mental health services.

The event costs $45, inclusive of bottomless brunch on margaritas, mimosas, Bloody Marys and Tecates.

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Bars & Parties

MAL kicks off Jan. 11 with Bootcamp

Mid-Atlantic Leather begins with party at Bunker



MAL Weekend kicks off next week. (Image courtesy of Bunker)

Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend arrives next week with a kickoff event Thursday, Jan. 11 from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. at Bunker. Organizers at Kinetic promise a surprise drill sergeant who will whip you into shape. Joshua Ruiz DJs the event. This event is for VIP pass holders only; visit for details.

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Bars & Parties

A roundup of New Year’s Eve parties in D.C.

Celebrate the start of 2024 in style



Xavier Entertainment LLC will host the seventh annual Times Square NYE Celebration at 10 p.m. at Ivy City Smokehouse. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

New Year’s Eve 2024 at Lost Society will be at 7 p.m. at Lost Society. There will be unique entertainment all night along with a journey of the senses through captivating light shows and LED displays, music, and bottle service presentations throughout the evening. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Busboys and Poets will host New Year’s Eve Open Mic and Party at 10 p.m. at 2021 14th St., N.W. This will be an evening of poetry, live DJ, dancing, food, and good company in a vibrant atmosphere where local artists take the stage, showcasing their talents in various genres. The night will be hosted by the talented Charity Blackwell and will feature award-winning poet Black Chakra. Dyanna Monet will deejay. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

QueerTalk DC will host Sapphic New Year’s Celebration at 8 p.m. at FigLeaf Bar & Lounge. The event will celebrate Sapphic, trans, and non-binary communities and feature complimentary hors D’oeuvres, a Champagne toast and DJ sets by DJ Clamazon and DJ Q. For more details, visit Eventbrite

The Queers Upstairs will host Heels & Ties: A Queer New Years Eve Surprise at 9 p.m. at Aliceanna Social Club. This evening will be an unforgettable LGBTQ New Year’s Eve party where you can sip your favorite cocktails and enjoy small bites while dancing the night away with music from DJ Rosie & DJ Missy. Tickets start at $30 and can purchased on Eventbrite

BuffBoyzz Gay-Friendly Male Strip Clubs will host a male revue that caters to men and women at 8 p.m. at Buffboyzz Male Strippers. The event will be an exciting, entertaining and sexy show of exotic male dancers in that will entertain your pants off. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

International Events Washington DC will host the 2024 Black Tie New Year’s Eve Gala at 7:30 p.m. at the Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C. There will be free-flowing Champagne, an open bar, a spectacular balloon drop in the Euro Discotheque Ballroom and live bands and DJs. For dinner, guests can choose from an elegant sit-down, three-course dinner with Champagne or a dinner buffet of international cuisine. Tickets start at $189 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Social Architects will host the 12th Annual New Year’s Eve Casino Night at 8 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Arlington, Va. There will be six rooms of entertainment spread across three floors. The DJs will spin hip hop, R&B, salsa, Afrobeats and old school music. Tickets start at $60 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

Pitchers and A League of Her Own will host a NYE party with complimentary Champagne toast at midnight, party favors, and a DJ all night long.

Shaker’s plans a drag extravaganza with Tatianna and Crystal Edge among others starting at 10:30 p.m.; the $10 cover includes a glass of Champagne. 

Bunker hosts a 12-hour masquerade ball with several DJs, including Joe Gauthreaux. The party starts at 9 p.m. and goes until 9 a.m. on Jan. 1. Tickets start at $45 and are available at

DJ Alex Love spins NYE at Dirty Goose with drink specials at midnight.

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