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Calendar: Oct. 22

Halloween parties, the Indigo Girls, Janis Ian and more

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Ricardo Alvarez and Kelly Southall in a publicity photo for the gay-themed 'Charlie Chan and the Mystery of Love' a new work being performed this weekend by Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company at Dance Place. (Photo by Zain Shah; courtesy of Dana Tai Soon Burgess)

Friday, Oct. 22

Reel Affirmations presents a night of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on screen with two movies at the U.S. Navy Memorial Theatre (701 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.). “A Marine Story,” a film about a Marine officer who unexpectedly returns home from the war and is recruited to help a troubled teen prepare for boot camp until the real reasons for her return become known, will begin at 7 p.m. “Out of Annapolis,” a documentary about LGBT alumni of the U.S. Naval Academy, will being at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 each or $25 for both and a reception in between and can be purchased at reelaffirmations.org.

Apex presents an employee drag show tonight at 10 p.m. to benefit Metro Teen AIDS. The entire Apex (1415 22nd St., N.W.) staff will be performing with music by DJ45Z. The show will be hosted by Kristina Kelly and Rachel Savage. Cover for the evening is $10. Attendees must be 18 to enter, 21 to drink.

The 2011 Queen of Queen City Pageant will be tonight at 9 p.m. at the New Embassy Theatre (49 Baltimore St.) in Cumberland. The theme of this year’s pageant is jungle attire. Tickets are $9 and include one free drink. Attendees must be 21 or older. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit newembassy.org.

Ski Bums will be having a happy hour tonight from 8 to 11 p.m. at Nellie’s (900 U St., N.W.) during which the D.C. day trip season will be announced. For more information, visit ski-bums.org.

Choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess’s newest work “Charlie Chan and the Mystery of Love” opens tonight at the Dance Place (3225 8th St., N.E.) at 8 p.m. The multi-media, autobiographical piece is inspired by the popular film detective Charlie Chan and uses video projection, spoken word text and a soundtrack of 1930s and ‘40s music to tell a gay coming-of-age and coming-out story. Tickets range from $22 for general admission to $8 for children 2-17 and can be purchased at danceplace.org.

The International Drag King Extravaganza continues today in Baltimore with workshops, an art and film festival, spaghetti dinner at 5 p.m. and more. (2640 Saint Paul St.) The workshops are $45 for a three-day pass and the dinner is $10. Also part of the event is “Glitterbox” at 8 p.m. and “Lesque” at 11 p.m. at Ottobar (2549 N. Howard St.). $12 gets you into both events. Visit idkexii.com for more information and to purchase tickets and passes.

Saturday, Oct. 23

Connections 2010, a one day business and professional development conference, is today at the Washington Post (1150 15th St., N.W.) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has assembled a line up of speakers, business leaders and vendors for this event.

Defend Yourself will hold a self-defense class for the LGBT community today on the second floor of the Emergence Community Arts Collective (733 Euclid St., N.W.) from 1 to 4 p.m. The class costs $52. For more information and to learn how to register, visit defendyourself.org.

Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” opens tonight at Theater J (1529 16th St., N.W.) presented by the D.C. Jewish Community Center at 8 p.m.

The International Drag King Extravaganza continues with the last day of workshops and art and film and the keynote and lunch at 1 p.m. with keynote speaker Tristan Taormino, both at 2640 Saint Paul St. Later tonight is the showcase at Sonar (407 E. Saratoga St.) at 9 p.m. This is the first time in the history of the event that is will be held on the east coast. The lunch is $20 and the showcase is $15. Visit idkexii.com for more information and to purchase tickets and passes.

Sunday, Oct. 24

GayParazzi, a new LGBT photo group, will explore the Georgetown area and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal path near the Potomac River today at 10 a.m. The group will meet in front of AMC Loews Georgetown Theater (3111 K St., N.W.) and head to the waterfront.

Equality Maryland’s 2010 Signature Gala with special guest Governor Martin O‘Malley, is tonight at the Samuel Riggs Alumni Center at the University of Maryland, College Park. There is a VIP reception at 5:30 p.m. and the dinner and program beings at 6:30. For more information and to learn how to purchase tickets, visit equalitymaryland.org.

The Imperial Court of Washington presents “Dragging Out the Gospel” hosted by Co Co L. Blackwell at Green lantern (1335 Green Court, N.W.) at 7 p.m. One performer will be chosen by audience participation as the best performer and will qualify for “drag gospel performer of the year.” Doors open at 6 p.m. There is a $3 cover.

Lesbian band the Indigo Girls will be at the Birchmere (3701 Mt. Vernon Ave.) in Alexandia tonight at 7:30 p.m. with Mount Moriah. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

Monday, Oct. 25

SAGE Metro D.C. will be having its monthly meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.).

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League presents speed dating at Nellie’s (900 U St., N.W.) tonight from 7 to 10 p.m. There is a $15 cover and check in is at 6 p.m.

Hope Operas, whose founder is openly gay, has its third week of five new shows tonight to raise money for charity. The shows are at 8 p.m. at the Comedy Spot, in Ballston Mall (4238 Wilson, Blvd.), in Arlington. Each show benefits a different charity. Tickets are $12 per show. For more information call 323-788-8970 or e-mail [email protected].

Adele Stan will be at Busboys & Poets’s 5th and K streets location tonight signing and discussing “Dangerous Brew: Exposing the Tea Party’s Agenda to Take Over America,” an anthology she co-edited with Don Hazen.

The Indigo Girls will be at the Birchmere (3701 Mt. Vernon Ave.) in Alexandia, tonight at 7:30 p.m. with Mount Moriah. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

Tuesday, Oct. 26

The Mautner Project will be having a workshop entitled “Getting Unstuck” tonight at its headquarters (1875 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Ste., 710) from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with Gail Waldman. To RSVP call 202-332-5536 or e-mail [email protected].

Nellie’s (900 U St., N.W.) will be holding a “Glee” watch party tonight on the deck in the pub room at 8 p.m. featuring a $3 beer special all night.

Wednesday, Oct. 27

Secrets (1824 Half St., S.W.) is holdings it monthly amateur dance contest tonight beginning at 11 p.m. Contests must sign up at the main bar between 10 and 10:45 p.m. This month’s contest is masquerade themed and contestants are encouraged to wear masks.

The Pink Party is hosing a candlelight vigil in Dupont Circle today from 6 to 9 p.m. in connection with the national Facebook effort to wear purple on Oct. 20 to “show support for LGBT people and protest/mourn the youth suicides.”  Attendees are asked to bring their own candles and cups.

Thursday, Oct. 28

Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence will have its monthly meeting tonight at the D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) from 7 to 9 p.m.

Ganymede Arts presents Gerald Duval’s “Edie Beale Live at Reno Sweeney” starring Jeffrey Johnson, tonight at Noi’s Nook at go mama go! (1809 14th St., N.W.) at 8 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ganymedearts.org.

LAMBDA SCI-FI book discussion group meets today at 7 p.m at 1425 S Street NW. This month’s book is “Soulless,” by Gail Carriger. For more information or to RSVP, call Peter and Rob at 202-483-6369 or James at 202-232-3141 or e-mail  [email protected] or visit lambdasf.org.

Friday, Oct. 29

Margaret Cho will be at the Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. with her show, “Cho Dependent.” Tickets are $40.50 or $57.60 and can be purchased at livenation.com.

Zoom Urban Lesbian Excursions hosts “Night at the Museum” tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Museum of Crime and Punishment (575 7th St., N.W.) as it turns into a haunted torture chamber. Attendees are welcome to wear costumes but masks are prohibited. Tickets are $23 and can be purchased at zoomexcursions.com.

The D.C. Kings will be at Apex tonight at 11 p.m. as part a special ladies night featuring a few Halloween-themed performances.

Saturday, Oct. 30

Douche Bag City, an exhibition of video animation, painting and sculpture by Federico Solmi, opens today with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at Conner Contemporary Art (1358 Florida Ave., N.E.).

Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club (1103 Bladensburg Rd., N.E.) is hosting its Halloween Homecoming tonight from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. featuring DJs Junebullet of She.Rex, Natty Boom of Anthology of Booty, and vANNIEty Kills of Anniething Goes. Costumes are required for entry. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased online. Visit jimmyvalentineslhc.com for more information and tickets.

Tom Paxton and Janis Ian, “Together at Last,” will be at the Birchmere (3701 Mt. Vernon Ave.) in Alexandia, tonight at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com. Ian is a lesbian.

Phase 1 (525 8th St., S.E.) is having its annual Halloween costume contest tonight. Best costume will win $100 and there will be other prizes for sexiest and mot hilarious. Doors open at 7 p.m. and attendees must be 21 or older to enter.

Sunday, Oct. 31

Nellie’s (900 U St., N.W.) is having a Halloween costume party tonight from 8 p.m. to midnight. First place wins $250 cash, second place wins a $100 Nellie’s tab and third place wins a $50 Cubano’s dinner. There’s no cover for this event.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Crush

New gay bar holds opening party

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Jared Keith Lee serves a drink at Crush. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The new LGBTQ venue Crush held a party for friends, family and close supporters on Tuesday. For more information on future events at Crush, go to their Instagram page @crushbardc.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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a&e features

What to expect at the 2024 National Cannabis Festival

Wu-Tang Clan to perform; policy discussions also planned

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Juicy J performs at the 2023 National Cannabis Festival (Photo credit: Alive Coverage)

(Editor’s note: Tickets are still available for the National Cannabis Festival, with prices starting at $55 for one-day general admission on Friday through $190 for a two-day pass with early-entry access. The Washington Blade, one of the event’s sponsors, will host a LGBTQIA+ Lounge and moderate a panel discussion on Saturday with the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.)


With two full days of events and programs along with performances by Wu-Tang Clan, Redman, and Thundercat, the 2024 National Cannabis Festival will be bigger than ever this year.

Leading up to the festivities on Friday and Saturday at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium are plenty of can’t-miss experiences planned for 420 Week, including the National Cannabis Policy Summit and an LGBTQ happy hour hosted by the District’s Black-owned queer bar, Thurst Lounge (both happening on Wednesday).

On Tuesday, the Blade caught up with NCF Founder and Executive Producer Caroline Phillips, principal at The High Street PR & Events, for a discussion about the event’s history and the pivotal political moment for cannabis legalization and drug policy reform both locally and nationally. Phillips also shared her thoughts about the role of LGBTQ activists in these movements and the through-line connecting issues of freedom and bodily autonomy.

After D.C. residents voted to approve Initiative 71 in the fall of 2014, she said, adults were permitted to share cannabis and grow the plant at home, while possession was decriminalized with the hope and expectation that fewer people would be incarcerated.

“When that happened, there was also an influx of really high-priced conferences that promised to connect people to big business opportunities so they could make millions in what they were calling the ‘green rush,'” Phillips said.

“At the time, I was working for Human Rights First,” a nonprofit that was, and is, engaged in “a lot of issues to do with world refugees and immigration in the United States” — so, “it was really interesting to me to see the overlap between drug policy reform and some of these other issues that I was working on,” Phillips said.

“And then it rubbed me a little bit the wrong way to hear about the ‘green rush’ before we’d heard about criminal justice reform around cannabis and before we’d heard about people being let out of jail for cannabis offenses.”

“As my interests grew, I realized that there was really a need for this conversation to happen in a larger way that allowed the larger community, the broader community, to learn about not just cannabis legalization, but to understand how it connects to our criminal justice system, to understand how it can really stimulate and benefit our economy, and to understand how it can become a wellness tool for so many people,” Phillips said.

“On top of all of that, as a minority in the cannabis space, it was important to me that this event and my work in the cannabis industry really amplified how we could create space for Black and Brown people to be stakeholders in this economy in a meaningful way.”

Caroline Phillips (Photo by Greg Powers)

“Since I was already working in event production, I decided to use those skills and apply them to creating a cannabis event,” she said. “And in order to create an event that I thought could really give back to our community with ticket prices low enough for people to actually be able to attend, I thought a large-scale event would be good — and thus was born the cannabis festival.”

D.C. to see more regulated cannabis businesses ‘very soon’

Phillips said she believes decriminalization in D.C. has decreased the number of cannabis-related arrests in the city, but she noted arrests have, nevertheless, continued to disproportionately impact Black and Brown people.

“We’re at a really interesting crossroads for our city and for our cannabis community,” she said. In the eight years since Initiative 71 was passed, “We’ve had our licensed regulated cannabis dispensaries and cultivators who’ve been existing in a very red tape-heavy environment, a very tax heavy environment, and then we have the unregulated cannabis cultivators and cannabis dispensaries in the city” who operate via a “loophole” in the law “that allows the sharing of cannabis between adults who are over the age of 21.”

Many of the purveyors in the latter group, Phillips said, “are looking at trying to get into the legal space; so they’re trying to become regulated businesses in Washington, D.C.”

She noted the city will be “releasing 30 or so licenses in the next couple of weeks, and those stores should be coming online very soon” which will mean “you’ll be seeing a lot more of the regulated stores popping up in neighborhoods and hopefully a lot more opportunity for folks that are interested in leaving the unregulated space to be able to join the regulated marketplace.”

National push for de-scheduling cannabis

Signaling the political momentum for reforming cannabis and criminal justice laws, Wednesday’s Policy Summit will feature U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate majority leader.

Also representing Capitol Hill at the Summit will be U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) — who will be receiving the Supernova Women Cannabis Champion Lifetime Achievement Award — along with an aide to U.S. Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio).

Nationally, Phillips said much of the conversation around cannabis concerns de-scheduling. Even though 40 states and D.C. have legalized the drug for recreational and/or medical use, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I substance since the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1971, which means it carries the heftiest restrictions on, and penalties for, its possession, sale, distribution, and cultivation.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services formally requested the drug be reclassified as a Schedule III substance in August, which inaugurated an ongoing review, and in January a group of 12 Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Biden-Harris administration’s Drug Enforcement Administration urging the agency to de-schedule cannabis altogether.

Along with the Summit, Phillips noted that “a large contingent of advocates will be coming to Washington, D.C. this week to host a vigil at the White House and to be at the festival educating people” about these issues. She said NCF is working with the 420 Unity Coalition to push Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to “move straight to de-scheduling cannabis.”

“This would allow folks who have been locked up for cannabis offenses the chance to be released,” she said. “It would also allow medical patients greater access. It would also allow business owners the chance to exist without the specter of the federal government coming in and telling them what they’re doing is wrong and that they’re criminals.”

Phillips added, however, that de-scheduling cannabis will not “suddenly erase” the “generations and generations of systemic racism” in America’s financial institutions, business marketplace, and criminal justice system, nor the consequences that has wrought on Black and Brown communities.

An example of the work that remains, she said, is making sure “that all people are treated fairly by financial institutions so that they can get the funding for their businesses” to, hopefully, create not just another industry, but “really a better industry” that from the outset is focused on “equity” and “access.”

Policy wonks should be sure to visit the festival, too. “We have a really terrific lineup in our policy pavilion,” Phillips said. “A lot of our heavy hitters from our advocacy committee will be presenting programming.”

“On Saturday there is a really strong federal marijuana reform panel that is being led by Maritza Perez Medina from the Drug Policy Alliance,” she said. “So that’s going to be a terrific discussion” that will also feature “representation from the Veterans Cannabis Coalition.”

“We also have a really interesting talk being led by the Law Enforcement Action Partnership about conservatives, cops, and cannabis,” Phillips added.

Cannabis and the LGBTQ community

“I think what’s so interesting about LGBTQIA+ culture and the cannabis community are the parallels that we’ve seen in the movements towards legalization,” Phillips said.

The fight for LGBTQ rights over the years has often involved centering personal stories and personal experiences, she said. “And that really, I think, began to resonate, the more that we talked about it openly in society; the more it was something that we started to see on television; the more it became a topic in youth development and making sure that we’re raising healthy children.”

Likewise, Phillips said, “we’ve seen cannabis become more of a conversation in mainstream culture. We’ve heard the stories of people who’ve had veterans in their families that have used cannabis instead of pharmaceuticals, the friends or family members who’ve had cancer that have turned to CBD or THC so they could sleep, so they could eat so they could get some level of relief.”

Stories about cannabis have also included accounts of folks who were “arrested when they were young” or “the family member who’s still locked up,” she said, just as stories about LGBTQ people have often involved unjust and unnecessary suffering.

Not only are there similarities in the socio-political struggles, Phillips said, but LGBTQ people have played a central role pushing for cannabis legalization and, in fact, in ushering in the movement by “advocating for HIV patients in California to be able to access cannabis’s medicine.”

As a result of the queer community’s involvement, she said, “the foundation of cannabis legalization is truly patient access and criminal justice reform.”

“LGBTQIA+ advocates and cannabis advocates have managed to rein in support of the majority of Americans for the issues that they find important,” Phillips said, even if, unfortunately, other movements for bodily autonomy like those concerning issues of reproductive justice “don’t see that same support.”

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Sports

Brittney Griner, wife expecting first child

WNBA star released from Russian gulag in December 2022

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Cherelle and Brittney Griner are expecting their first child in July. The couple shared the news on Instagram. (Photo courtesy of Brittney Griner's Instagram page)

One year after returning to the WNBA after her release from a Russian gulag and declaring, “I’m never playing overseas again,” Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner and her wife announced they have something even bigger coming up this summer. 

Cherelle, 31, and Brittney, 33, are expecting their first child in July. The couple shared the news with their 715,000 followers on Instagram

“Can’t believe we’re less than three months away from meeting our favorite human being,” the caption read, with the hashtag, #BabyGrinerComingSoon and #July2024.

Griner returned to the U.S. in December 2022 in a prisoner swap, more than nine months after being arrested in Moscow for possession of vape cartridges containing prescription cannabis.

In April 2023, at her first news conference following her release, the two-time Olympic gold medalist made only one exception to her vow to never play overseas again: To return to the Summer Olympic Games, which will be played in Paris starting in July, the same month “Baby Griner” is due. “The only time I would want to would be to represent the USA,” she said last year. 

Given that the unrestricted free agent is on the roster of both Team USA and her WNBA team, it’s not immediately clear where Griner will be when their first child arrives. 

The Griners purchased their “forever home” in Phoenix just last year.

“Phoenix is home,” Griner said at the Mercury’s end-of-season media day, according to ESPN. “Me and my wife literally just got a place. This is it.”

As the Los Angeles Blade reported last December, Griner is working with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts — like Griner, a married lesbian — on an ESPN television documentary as well as a television series for ABC about her life story. Cherelle is executive producer of these projects. 

Next month, Griner’s tell-all memoir of her Russian incarceration will be published by Penguin Random House. It’s titled “Coming Home” and the hardcover hits bookstores on May 7.

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