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Queery: Heather Mizeur

20 gay questions with the Maryland state delegate



Maryland State Delegate Heather Mizeur (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Heather Mizeur appears poised for re-election to the Maryland House of Delegates representing the 20th District (Montgomery County) after Tuesday’s primary.

Mizeur, who ran on a platform of broader health care availability, renewable energy production and equal rights for gays, says being openly lesbian has been a political advantage.

“The district overall is overwhelmingly progressive, one of the most progressive in the state,” she says. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets of conservatives, but by and large, it’s really been an asset more than anything else. When I was running in 2006 there were seven of us running for three seats. Two were incumbents, five were challengers. When I was knocking on doors, I heard some people say, ‘You’re all the same on so many of the issues, I’m having a hard time distinguishing.’ Being able to say, ‘Well, I’m a lesbian,’ helped me stand out.”

Mizeur, a 37-year-old Takoma Park resident, grew up in Blue Mound, Ill., and came to Washington in 1994 where she worked in the offices of several Democratic members of Congress. She was Sen. John Kerry’s director of domestic policy from 2003 to 2006. A former Takoma Park City Council member, Mizeur has been in the General Assembly since 2007.

She gained national exposure when she was named a pivotal superdelegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, an episode she remembers with mixed feelings.

“I actually could have done without a lot of the elements of that process,” she says. “I felt there was too much emphasis on the candidates trying to court and recruit from the delegate count rather than running the primary system. … I didn’t think it was my place to pick a side or step in until all the voters had their say.” (She eventually endorsed Obama.)

Mizeur enjoys golf, wine, food, travel and quality time with family and friends in her down time. She and her spouse, Deborah Mizeur, were married in 2005 on the Chesapeake Bay and had a legal ceremony in Napa Valley, Calif., in 2008. They share their home with their dog, Chester.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I came out in college, in 1993. I was most scared to tell my parents because I feared it would be the first time in my life I was going to disappoint them. We are a very close family and I was always the over-achiever, rule-following child that wanted my parents to be proud of me. I was terrified that this was going to be a wedge in our family. Thankfully, our family bond was stronger than that and after an initial bumpy few weeks, we returned to our regular interactions and my parents could not be more supportive.

Who’s your gay hero?

I don’t often think of people with labels attached, but if pressed, I would have to say Rachel Maddow. She’s done so much to promote issues of importance to our community with a savvy intelligence that resonates with audiences writ large.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

Ha. Well, the question presumes that I have an active nightlife. My preference is to drink really good wine with friends in the comfort of our home. When I choose to go out, though, I like MOVA quite a bit.

Describe your dream gay wedding.

We had our dream gay wedding in 2005, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Because Maryland hadn’t (and still hasn’t) stepped up to the plate on marriage equality, we borrowed from a Quaker tradition and had everyone in attendance sign an artist’s rendering of our wedding vows. This beautiful marriage license is framed and hanging in our living room. Some day soon we’ll make Maryland respect that and start granting licenses here in the Free State.

What non-gay issue are you most passionate about?

I’ve spent my entire professional career fighting to make sure that everyone in this country has access to affordable, high-quality health care. I’m most proud of laws I sponsored to cover an additional 170,000 Marylanders with health coverage. I’m eager to help Maryland implement federal health reform options in the most meaningful, innovative way possible.

What historical outcome would you change?

The assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

As a kid, it would have to be Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video release and craziness over his album. As an adult, I would say Melissa Etheridge playing the Grammys post-chemo and nailing her parts of the Janis Joplin song with Joss Stone. What an inspiration on how to find your strength to overcome adversity. It still gives me goose bumps.

On what do you insist?

That the toilet paper roll from the top of the roll.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Musings about missing a mentor who died of breast cancer in 1998. Penny was a state legislator in Illinois. Her niece recently contacted me to tell me she has been following my work in Maryland and that her aunt would have been proud. Caught me off guard. Made me cry. Felt like sharing the story with my friends – especially the ones from Illinois that also knew and admired her.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Just a Small Town Girl”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Wake up, check my email, walk the dog, read the newspaper, eat breakfast, work, have lunch, go to a meeting, work, walk the dog, eat dinner, work, watch Rachel Maddow, kiss my wife goodnight, sleep. Repeat.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

By and large, traditional Catholic teachings. But in James’ Epistle, he says, “Faith without works is dead.” I believe we have to work in the here and now to create our heaven, our peace, our community and our relationship with our Creator.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Our community is as diverse as America and it will take all of us to win. So everyone take a deep breath, remember what we’re fighting for and work together.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My wife.

What gay stereotype annoys you most?

How can you choose? They’re all so reductive.

What’s your favorite gay movie?

“Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love.”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Registering for wedding gifts when you’re both already two adults that own everything.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Being selected a national Truman Scholar in 1994.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

I was aware at an early age that the world is much bigger than any of us, and that learning never stops. But if I had the chance to tell my 18-year-old self anything, it would be a message similar to what many gay teens need to hear – that we’re all going to be OK. Specifically, it would have been nice to know that I will, indeed, marry an amazing woman and my parents will support me and so will my community; and that – gasp – I can even still have a viable chance at serving in elected public office as an openly lesbian candidate.

Why Washington?

It’s where political addicts live. It’s where you meet other people that want to make our country and world a better place.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Steve Kay

    September 19, 2010 at 3:54 am

    Right on Heather. We all love you. Gay str8 etc

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Real Estate

Leather and lace in your home decor

From couches to countertops, add some flair



Leather isn’t just for couches anymore; you can find it in countertops and a wide range of décor.

When I was very young, I would visit my maternal grandmother and marvel at the hand-tatted and crocheted doilies that adorned the arms and backs of her sofa and chairs. They were also found on her dressers and side tables, and on the dining table as coasters and placemats, to prevent scratches on the furniture. Like snowflakes, the designs of the doilies were both intricate and individual.

I’m convinced that people had better posture in the early 20th century, because I never saw the remnants of men’s hair tonic, Macassar oil, or pomade on Nana’s doilies, even though they were there to keep the furniture from absorbing those hair products. Certainly, people weren’t the couch potatoes lounging on sofas then that we are today. Being able to Netflix and chill was a long way off.

I was impressed with the amount of work that had gone into such a little piece of fabric, so I later tried to learn to crochet. Sadly, all I was able to accomplish was string after string, never having been taught how to join those strings together to resemble a doily. At least with knitting, I was able to form squares large enough to be blankets for my Barbie.

In my mid-century childhood, doilies were put away and saved for grandchildren who, years later, would neither want them nor appreciate their historical value. The ‘50s saw polyvinyl chloride (PVC) go from a commercial substance used frequently in post-WWII construction to a residential fabric that we now refer to fondly as “pleather.” I can still remember the sound of my thighs peeling off the vinyl banquette at the diner when I would get up to leave a booth.

To be without a leather couch in the ‘60s was déclassé and, although styles have changed, such a couch remains a timeless piece. These days, if you are looking for a little more leather in your life and in your home, you can look beyond that couch and chair, where options range from the subdued to the highly decorative.

While vinyl is still the least expensive leather-look fabric, we now have “bonded” leather, made with scraps that are bonded together using polyurethane or latex. As you can tell from the prices of such furniture, the actual leather used in the process can vary from 10-90 percent.

Of course, top grain leather is the most expensive, and we have suede, die cut, embossed, patent, and a variety of other techniques used to change the look of a hide. In addition, there is now vegan leather.

For something unique for your kitchen or bar, check out the tooled leather countertop from Kosel Saddlery ( in Montana. They also make saddles and chaps.

Instead of the shiny granite counters that we all know, MSI Surfaces ( makes honed and leathered granite finishes for a more subtle appearance and has dealers throughout the DMV. 

For a do-it-yourself application, Amazon sells the Aspect brand eight-pack of leather glass, peel and stick subway tiles for backsplashes in five neutral colors for less than $20 each.

EcoDomo ( in Gaithersburg offers a variety of custom leather treatments, including countertops, door and cabinet panels, floor planks and tiles, and wall systems. Your color choices aren’t limited to black or brown either. They can manufacture pieces in blue, red, green, and even in custom colors to match other items in your décor.

Many online stores such as Wayfair and Overstock carry real and faux leather headboards, footstools, poufs and benches at affordable prices. 

There’s always something in leather at Pottery Barn, even for the conservative budget: pieced leather pillows, tufted stools, basket collections, and even a leather-bound coffee table book for cigar aficionados. 

If you’re looking for small accent pieces, try a leather coaster, placemat, napkin ring, or my personal favorite, a cutlery pouch for your tableware collection from Lucrin Geneva ( They also offer office accessories such as crocodile desk sets, wastebaskets and storage boxes.

And for the connoisseur of leather, vinyl, rubber, or even neoprene items of a more personal nature, head to the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency this Friday through Sunday for Mid-Atlantic Leather weekend. With plenty of specialty items, high-impact fashion, toys and games for all ages and yes, even custom-made furniture among the vendor exhibitions, you’re sure to find something that will tickle your fancy.

Just remember that you (and your puppy) must both be vaccinated and masked to attend. We take COVID (and rabies) very seriously here in D.C.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate.  Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Winter Restaurant Week a welcome escape from the cold

Enjoy D.C.’s diverse culinary scene at great prices



KNEAD Hospitality + Design’s Gatsby is among the hotspots participating in this year’s RAMW Winter Restaurant Week. (Photo courtesy of KNEAD Hospitality + Design)

Saving Washington, D.C. diners from winter doldrums, RAMW Winter Restaurant Week is back in action. It returns Jan. 17-23 with the motto of “Dine Out. Take Out. Eat Up.”

The city’s signature winter dining event is back as a one-week promotion focused on dining out and tasting the city’s diverse culinary scene. Yet it also is providing diners with newer programs that they have grown to love over the past few cycles. These include the popular “RW-To-Go” takeout dinner meals, outdoor dining spaces, as well as cocktail pairings, allowing diners to take advantage of a range of indoor/outdoor comfort levels and dining opportunities.

Participating restaurants are set to offer multi-course brunch and lunch menus for $25 per person, and multi-course dinner menus for $40 or $55 per person for on-premises dining. Most are offering the traditional three-course meals, while others may include extras.

Many restaurants will also offer the RW-To-Go dinner meals, a program introduced in 2019, available at two price points: $70 or $100 for two people and $140 or $200 for four people.

More than 200 restaurants across the area are participating. 

“Our restaurants have shown resilience, creativity, and perseverance over the past two years, and they continue to count on the amazing support of loyal diners and newcomers through promotions like Restaurant Week,” said RAMW President & CEO Kathy Hollinger. “Designed to get diners out to experience all our great food scene has to offer, we have evolved this turnkey promotion to help meet diners where they are in terms of comfort. With offerings to include RW-To-Go, curbside pickup and delivery, heated patios, cozy igloos and indoor dining, there is truly something for anyone looking to support their favorite spot or try something new.”

New restaurants participating in Winter Restaurant Week include Ala, Bar Chinois, Bistro Du Jour, The Mayflower Club, Officina Cafe, Penny Royal Station, and Urban Roast in the District; Diabolo’s Cantina at MGM and Rosa Mexicano at National Harbor; North Italia Tysons; and the newest The Capital Grille location in Fairfax.

2021 RAMMYS Winners and finalists participating include Convivial, Cranes (also Michelin-starred), Espita, Estadio, iRicchi, and Sababa. 

In the 14th Street and Dupont Circle areas, popular participating restaurants include Agora, Cork, Duke’s, Floriana, and Sushi Taro, among others. 

Winter Restaurant Week also extends beyond core neighborhoods, stretching far past the city’s borders. Areas like Takoma Park and Bethesda in Maryland, and Alexandria and National Landing in Virginia, are also hosting participating restaurants. 

Some spots are offering additional deals, extended timelines, and other options. “I’m excited about the creativity of our local restaurants,” says Hollinger, “with their offers and spaces that give diners great experiences during the promotion, and the flexibility to dine in the way that works for them whether indoor, in heated outdoor dining spaces or at home with our Restaurant Week To-Go program.”

For example, Ambar (both the D.C. and Clarendon locales) will have a $70 seven-course to-go menu for two people. The deal includes a bottle of wine in addition to the food. 

Schlow Restaurant Group has a $40 gift card for more than three meals at any of its restaurants, including NAMA Sushi Bar and TICO in D.C. and Alta Strada Italian Restaurants in D.C. and Fairfax. 

James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schlow says, “This is a great way for Restaurant Week diners to experience more of our menu offerings, and perhaps explore some of our restaurants they haven’t tried yet. Plus, with [our] Restaurant Week extended an additional week through Jan. 30, there’s ample time to dine.”

Gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design group is involving all its restaurants in the promotion. The group’s restaurants include Gatsby, Mi Vida, The Grill, and more. Owner Jason Berry notes that he is “excited to participate in this year’s winter restaurant week. Each year Restaurant Week brings new diners to our doors to experience the creativity and talent our staff continues to showcase at our restaurants.”

Recall that the city has reinstated mask mandates for indoor spaces. In addition, On Jan. 15, 2022, per Mayor’s Order 2021-148, the District of Columbia adopts a citywide vaccination entry requirement that requires COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor facilities within the city. This includes restaurants and bars.

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Real Estate

What to know if you’re buying or selling in 2022

Research interest rates, contractors now before spring arrives



Spring will be here before you know it so prepare for buying and selling a home now.

The years 2020 and 2021 were wild on the books for real estate. Many successfully sold a house, bought a house, or sold a smaller residence and bought a larger one due to the new “needs” that they realized they had.  

After a year or more of staying home, working from home, dining out (at home), studying from home, many just realized they needed a different home than the one they were sitting in.  Many experts are saying that 2022 might be the year we go back to our “normal cycles” in real estate. If that is the case, then what does that mean?  

It means that right now, first time buyers can find deals on one- or two-bedroom condos that are sitting on the market, and the single family home market is going to be ramping up in the spring, when more buyers are out in the streets and more homes are getting ready to go on the market. So, if you are thinking of selling this year, you might already need to be calling painters, carpenters, and other contractors to do those little projects that make a home ready for photographs and to be shown in its best light. Now that the holidays are over, many of the contractors we hire start getting calls, and their schedules start to fill up. As a Compass agent, we have the “Concierge” program that helps sellers to finance, at zero interest, projects that spruce up their home, and then it gets paid back when the home sells. I know other brokerages have some similar programs, also. 

If you are going to buy a home this year, you might want to seriously look at how long homes have been sitting in the market in the neighborhoods that interest you. If the “days on market” are more than 20, 30, 40 or even 50 days, this might be your time to strike. Call a local lender or two and see what interest rate you can get and how much you can get approved for a loan. Interest rates could be going up this year, so you might want to get this done in the first half of the year, if your current situation allows.  

At any rate, if you are thinking of making a move this year, feel free to sign up for one of my homebuyer seminars, or give me (or your favorite Realtor) a call and find out what you need to do to get ready to make this move.

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at [email protected] or 703-587-0597.

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