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Who says gay men don’t read?

2 local gay book clubs thriving in era of the iPad



Despite booming sales of the iPad, Kindle and other digital book readers, some see a disturbing trend among gay men: We are reading fewer books today than previous generations.

Robert Starner, co-founder in 2004 of the D.C.-area Big Gay Book Group, when he was working at the Lambda Rising bookstore on Connecticut Avenue, agrees that “now it seems that the gay men’s community is not reading as much as they were in the mid-1980s and 1990s,” and he confesses he doesn’t know why.

Starner’s lament is possibly an age-old complaint, echoing that of the great modernist poet Ezra Pound who decades ago rebuked his own generation when he declared that “the classics are not read in our time” and that this fact “sorely troubles my mind.”

But in our day consider these doleful facts: bookstores like Lambda Rising in D.C. and Rehoboth Beach and the Oscar Wilde Bookstore in New York City have closed their doors.

Nevertheless, gay men and books continue to intersect at meetings such as those held monthly by Starner’s group, the Big Gay Book Group, whose next event is Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at his firm’s downtown D.C. office location, 1155 F St., N.W., Suite 200.

The book under the lens that night will be “Role Models” by Baltimore’s own gay filmmaker and provocateur John Waters. That book is a collection of essays on such iconic figures as playwright Tennessee Williams and singer Johnny Mathis but also Esther Martin, owner of one of the scariest bars in Charm City. Each of the subjects is an extreme figure who helped Waters “form his own brand of neurotic happiness,” according to Sarner.

Waters, discoverer of the drag personality known as Divine and auteur of the film “Hairspray,” the basis for the hit Broadway musical of the same title, is, according to Starner, “one of the most unique, perverse and hilarious artistic minds of our time.”

The range of books read in the group is wide, says Starner, and especially heavy on fiction in the first several years but most recently also broadened to include non-fiction titles. Classics of gay literature – like Andrew Holleran’s “Dancer from the Dance” and John Rechy’s “City of Night” as well as older works including E.M. Forster’s “Maurice” and James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” – have been highlights, and he discovered that “some of the younger men had not read them, and more surprisingly some of those who are older men had not either.”

Another group, Bookmen DC, meets twice each month, on the first and third Wednesdays for about an hour, according to co-founder Tom Wischer. Both groups welcome drop-ins – basically “just show up as your interests and schedule allow,” says Wischer, who began the group in 1999 with staff members at the Whitman-Walker Clinic. At first the group was called Potomac Gay Men’s Book Group, then it was known as Boys and Books for most of its history. It was agreed that its first title was simply too stuffy-sounding.

The group’s current coordinator, Steve Honley, who also edits the Foreign Service Journal, stresses that the group is “all volunteer.”

“There are no articles of incorporation and no money involved – it’s a social group, and we are very inclusive – we welcome everybody. This is not a college seminar – come as you are.”

Noting that the group is now in its 12th year of existence, Honley proudly told the Blade recently that, “there are not that many groups this old in the gay community.” The book count is now at about 170 books and counting, “with very few duds” he said, adding “come check us out.”

The group’s next meeting will feature a book co-edited by a group member, Philip Clark (with David Gross), “Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS.”

Bookmen DC meets at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at the Sumner School, 1201 17th St., N.W.


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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