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Catania, Graham breeze to victory; 7 gays win in Md. 

Fenty write-in votes high in gay precincts



David Catania's re-election to D.C. Council was one of the few bright spots on an Election Day widely regarded as a disaster for gay rights. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Pro-gay D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray won his race for mayor with 73.9 percent of the vote and gay Council members David Catania (I-At-Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) easily won re-election Tuesday.

But an unauthorized write-in campaign for Mayor Adrian Fenty, who lost the Democratic mayoral nomination to Gray in the Sept. 14 primary, yielded high write-in vote counts in nearly all voter precincts with a high concentration of gay residents.

In Maryland, the number of out gay or lesbian members of the state legislature increased from four to seven in Tuesday’s election. Among the winners is Mary Washington, who captured a House of Delegates seat from Baltimore to become the first black lesbian to win a seat in the Maryland Legislature and the second to hold that distinction in the nation.

The “write-in” category in the D.C. mayor’s race won in at least two precincts with high concentrations of gays on Capitol Hill, highlighting the same racial divisions among voters that surfaced in the primary, where Gray won in majority black sections of the city and Fenty won in majority white areas.

Most of the gay precincts are in majority white sections, such as Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Logan Circle and Capitol Hill. Activists familiar with the LGBT community have said black gays, like their straight counterparts, supported Gray in overwhelming numbers. But because they are dispersed throughout the city and not concentrated in gay enclaves, like those in the mostly white areas, there are no known “black gay” precincts.

“I don’t think those are anti-Gray votes as much as they are pro-Fenty votes,” Catania said on Wednesday. “I think the vast majority of them, after the inauguration, those very same people will be very receptive to Vince and his message, and we’re all going to come back together.”

In his victory speech late Tuesday night at Love nightclub in Northeast D.C., which once hosted the city’s black LGBT Pride festival, Gray reiterated his campaign theme of “one city,” saying his administration will work hard to build unity among D.C.’s diverse population groups.

Most of the city’s LGBT activist leaders joined the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, in backing Gray in the mayoral race.

Gray captured 73.9 percent of the citywide vote, with the “write-in” vote coming in second with 22.8 percent. However, in majority white Wards 1, 2, 3, and 6, the margin between the Gray and write-in vote was closer, with the write-in vote count rising to between 30 and 43 percent. In Precincts 89 and 90 on Capitol Hill, which are home to a sizable gay population, the write-in vote came to 50.3 percent and 50.5 percent respectively, with Gray receiving 46.3 percent and 45.5 percent.

In the majority black Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8, the write-in vote fell to single digits.

D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics executive director Pokey Suleman said the city’s election law bars the board from identifying the names of people receiving write-in votes unless they capture enough votes to win the race. Most election observers assume the vast majority of write-in votes in Tuesday’s mayoral election went to Fenty.

“I would presume that the majority is for Fenty but I would not presume all of them are,” Suleman said.

In the at-large Council race, Catania came in second behind Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) in a four-candidate contest where the highest two vote-getters win the seats. Mendelson, who has a strong record of support on gay issues, and Catania endorsed each other.

Mendelson received 58.3 percent, with Catania receiving 30.9 percent of the vote. Both came out far ahead of challenger David Schwartzman, the Statehood-Green Party candidate who supports LGBT equality; and anti-gay independent candidate Richard Urban, who called for repeal of the city’s same-sex marriage law. Schwartzman received 6.8 percent and Urban received 5.1 percent. Non-Democratic candidates who win at-large seats traditionally have received less votes than the Democratic candidate in a city where the overwhelming majority of voters register as Democrats.

In the Ward 1 Council race, Graham received 81.3 percent of the vote compared to his gay Republican challenger, Marc Morgan, who received 7.6 percent of the vote. Statehood-Green Party candidate Nancy Shia received 9.5 percent.

Ward 5 Council candidate Tim Day, who became the fourth out gay candidate running for a D.C. Council seat this year, lost to incumbent Council member Harry Thomas, a Democrat, by a lopsided margin of 84.0 percent to 5.9 percent.

Day received the endorsement of the Washington Post. He drew additional news media coverage by disclosing IRS and D.C. corporation office records showing that a charitable constituent group that Thomas had been operating for many years did not have a tax exemption from the IRS and lost its corporate status from the city. The Post criticized Thomas over his handling of the charitable group. But the flap over the group did not help Day, an accountant, garner much support from voters.

Thomas has been a supporter of LGBT rights and voted for the same-sex marriage law, triggering organized opposition to his candidacy from church groups and the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

LGBT activists called the effort by some local religious leaders to target all Council members up for election this year because of their support for the same-sex marriage bill a total failure.

“In the end, it wasn’t the contentious issue that the opponents predicted,” said Mendelson, who also was targeted for his support for the gay marriage bill.  “I can’t tell you how many candidate forums I went to where the issue of marriage equality did not come up,” he said.

“It’s striking that the opposition to marriage equality never got any traction in this election in spite of their intense rhetoric,” he said.

In the Maryland election, incumbent state Sen. Richard Madaleno of District 18 in Montgomery County won re-election with 74.5 percent of the vote.

House of Delegates incumbents Anne Kaiser (District 14), which includes Silver Spring, Olney, and Damascus; Heather Mizeur (District 20), which includes parts of Silver Spring and Takoma Park; and Maggie McIntosh (District 43), which includes parts of Baltimore, each won re-election by comfortable margins.

Washington, who ran in District 43, which has three seats, came in third with 31.6 percent of the vote. The highest three vote-getters win House of Delegates seats in most districts, which have three seats per district.

The other out gay or lesbian challengers who won on Tuesday were Luke Clippinger (District 46), which includes parts of Baltimore; and Bonnie Cullison (District 19), which includes parts of Montgomery County.

Most gay ANC candidates win races

Twenty-four of the 29 D.C Advisory Neighborhood Commission candidates identified by the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club as gay or lesbian or allies of the LGBT community won their races Tuesday. Fourteen of the winners are incumbents.

Three incumbents lost their seats in what observers called unexpected wins by their challengers. Among them were longtime ANC 6D07 Commissioner Robert “Bob” Siegel, who lost his Washington Nationals Stadium area seat to challenger David Garber. Garber had the endorsement of Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). In Ward 5, gay ANC 5C07 Commissioner Barrie Daneker lost to challenger James Fournier.

Gay incumbent Michael Patterson in ANC District 6B09 lost to challenger Brian Flahaven.

Following is a list of the ANC candidates, both incumbents and challengers, listed by the Stein Club as members or allies of the LGBT community. Candidates marked by an asterisk indicate they are either leading or trailing, and the final outcome won’t be determined until absentee and challenged ballots are counted.

Juan Lopez (1B07)—won

Bill O’Field (1C02)—lost

Mike Feldstein (2B01)—won

Jack Jacobson (2B04)–won

Victor Wexler (2B05)—won

Mike Silverstein (2B06)—won

Phil Carney (2B07)—won

Ramon Estrada (2B09)—leading by 39 votes*

Alexander “Alex” Padro (2C01)—won

Michael Benardo (2F06)—won

Lee Brian Reba (3C01)—won

Tom Smith (3D02)—won

Bob Summersgill (3F07)—won

Michael Yates (4C01)—won

Joseph Martin (4C09)—won

Thalia Wiggins (5B06)—won

Mary Lois Farmer-Allen (5C06)—won

Barrie Daneker (5C07)—lost

Adam Healy (6A01)—won

Neil Glick (6B08)—leading by 9 votes*

Michael Patterson (6B09)—lost

Larry Frankel (6B10)—lost

Brian Cox (6C05)—trailing by 13 votes*

Bill Crews (6C07)—won

Andy Litsky (6D04)—won

Roger Moffatt (6D05)—won

Robert “Bob” Siegel (6D07)—lost

Zina Williams (7B02)—won

Catherine Woods (7C03)—won


District of Columbia

AIDS Healthcare Foundation celebrates opening of new D.C. healthcare center

Ribbon-cutting marks launch of state-of-the-art facility on Capitol Hill



AHF’s new healthcare center is located at 650 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the world’s largest HIV/AIDS healthcare organization with its headquarters in Los Angeles, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 27 to mark the official opening of its Capitol Hill Healthcare Center.

The new center, which AHF describes as a state-of-the-art facility for the holistic care and treatment of people with HIV as well as a site for HIV prevention and primary care services, is located at 650 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.  a half block away from the Eastern Market Metro station.

A statement released by AHF says the Capitol Hill Healthcare Center will continue AHF’s ongoing delivery of “cutting-edge medical care and services to patients regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.” The statement adds, “The site also features a full-service AHF Pharmacy and will host Wellness Center services on Saturdays to offer STI testing and treatment.”

The statement was referring to the testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. The D.C. Department of Health has said the highest number of STIs in the city have been reported for men who have sex with men.

Mike McVicker, AHF’s Regional Director for its D.C., Maryland, and Virginia facilities, said the Capitol Hill center began taking patients in October of 2021 as AHF transferred its operations from its facility on Benning Road, N.E. about two miles from the Capitol Hill site. McVicker said the Benning Road site has now been closed.

AHF’s second D.C. medical center is located downtown at 2141 K St., N.W. AHF operates three other extended D.C.-area health care centers in Falls Church, Va., Temple Hills, Md. and Baltimore.

“Our Capitol Hill Healthcare Center has no waiting room, so patients immediately are escorted to treatment rooms and serviced from a centrally located provider workstation,” McVicker said. “The goal is to maximize efficiency using this patient-centered model to improve health outcomes and increase retention in care.”

McVicker told the Blade the AHF Capitol Hill center is currently serving 585 patients and has a staff of 10, including Dr. Conor Grey, who serves as medical director. He said a separate team of five staffers operates the Saturday walk-in center that provides STI services as well as services related to the HIV prevention medication known as PrEP.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this team,” Dr. Grey said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was held in a courtyard outside the Capitol Hill office building where the AHF center is located. About 50 people, including D.C. government officials, attended the event.

“This is a beautiful thing to celebrate,” Grey said. “So, I’m very happy to enjoy the day with all of you, and looking forward to a bright, productive future working together and fighting a common enemy that has unfortunately been with us.”

Others who spoke at the event included Tom Myers, AHF’s Chief of Public Affairs and General Counsel; Toni Flemming, Supervisory Public Health Analyst and Field Operations Manager for the D.C. Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration (HAHSTA), and Dr. Christie Olejeme, Public Health Analyst for HAHSTA’s Care and Treatment Division.

Also speaking at the event was Japer Bowles, director of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

Bowles called the AHF Capitol Hill center “another pivotal resource” for the LGBTQ community as well as for the city.

“We know, as has been previously stated, a low-barrier HIV prevention support is pivotal to the mayor’s mission of eliminating HIV infections in the District of Columbia and the region,” Bowles told the gathering.

“So, I’m very excited to see more services specifically provided to those in the Southeast and Northeast quadrants of our District,” he said, referring to the AHF Capitol Hill center. “This is a great moment for our community, but also for D.C. as a whole.”

In its statement released this week announcing the official opening of the Capitol Hill Center AHF notes that currently, 11,904 D.C. residents, or 1.8 percent of the population, are living with HIV. It points out that HIV disproportionately impacts Black residents, who make up about 44 percent of the population but comprise nearly three-quarters of the city’s HIV cases.

AHF official Myers said the Capitol Hill center will join its other D.C.-area facilities in addressing the issue of racial disparities related to HIV.

“Our treatment model helps eliminate barriers for those already in care, those who may not know their HIV status, and those living with HIV who may not currently be in care,” he said.

AHF says in its statement that it currently operates more than 900 healthcare centers around the world in 45 countries including 17 U.S. states. It has more than 1.7 million people in care, according to the statement. Founded in 1987, the organization has also taken on the role of public advocacy for federal and local government programs in the U.S. to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including efforts to lower the costs of HIV drugs.

During its work in the late 1980s and early 1990s AHF emerged as a strong advocate for addressing the special needs of gay and bisexual men who were hit hardest by HIV/AIDS at the start of the epidemic.

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District of Columbia

Georgetown University hosts panel on transgender, nonbinary issues

Lawmakers from Mont., Okla. among panelists



Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner speaks at Georgetown University on Sept. 26, 2023. (Photo by Sydney Carroll)

A panel on transgender and nonbinary issues took place at Georgetown University on Tuesday.

The panel included Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr and her fiancée, journalist Erin Reed, who are both trans, and nonbinary Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner. Charlotte Clymer was also on the panel that Amanda Phillips, a nonbinary Georgetown professor, moderated. 

The panel began with a discussion about anti-trans laws that have been enacted across the country.

Reed said the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Principles Project developed a strategy in response to North Carolina’s now repealed law that banned trans people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity. 

They focused on states that are more “business-friendly and therefore harder to boycott, and started with sports. Reed said bans on gender-segregated sports put an “asterisk on [trans] identity” that made further attacks possible.

Clymer spoke on attitudes towards trans policies. 

She referenced a survey that asked Americans if they supported nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals. Around 75 percent of respondents, including almost half of Republicans, said yes. Clymer said the next question that asked if such protections exist concerns her.

Roughly half of respondents said yes. 

While there are two U.S. Supreme Court rulings — Obergefell and Bostock — that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples and employment protections to LGBTQ people respectively, Clymer noted there are no federal protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Turner and Zephyr spoke about being censured for defending trans rights. 

Oklahoma lawmakers in March censured Turner after they refused to turn into the authorities a trans person who had allegedly assaulted a state trooper. 

Turner said in Oklahoma, where there is no public debate, and politicians are openly anti-trans, residents are fighting against an “apathetic” and “heinous” legislature. On the topic of activism, they said being a “truth teller,” and saying “absolutely not” is “what got [them] censured.”

Zephyr’s censure was in April after she criticized a bill to restrict gender-affirming health care in Montana. The protests that followed stemmed from trans issues, but Zepher said they were about much more. 

“The protests […] were about recognizing that when you silence a legislator, you take away representation from their constituents,” she said. “That fight became a larger fight about democracy.” 

From left: Erin Reed and her fiancée, Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, speak at Georgetown University on Sept. 26, 2023. (Photo by Sydney Carroll)

The panelists talked about mental health and addressing it.

Turner said that being the representation they needed keeps them going. 

“I didn’t think I was going to make it through middle school,” they said. “Representation matters for so many people […] if you can aid in being that representation, being that force that helps somebody else keep going, that is one of the most powerful experiences.” 

The panel agreed that finding community is important to mental health. 

“Sometimes our best activism is finding our community,” Reed said. 

The panel also spoke about queer joy and strength. 

“Queer joy is the thing they can’t take away,” Zephyr said. 

Reed talked about photos of activists who were organizing before the Stonewall riots in 1969; they were smiling and enjoying their community. 

“The queer story is a story of not just surviving in the margins but thriving in the margins,” Reed said.

Turner added “trans lives aren’t just lives worth fighting for, they are lives worth living.”

A self-described “journalist” who didn’t identify himself or his outlet asked the panel, “What is a woman?” Clymer turned the question back to him, and he said it “comes down to genetics.”

Clymer began to explain that chromosomes don’t always define sex. The audience member began to argue and ignored an event organizer who was asking him to leave. Security promptly escorted him out. 

Reed continued Clymer’s point that even biological sex is difficult to define. 

“Last year, 15 different state legislators tried to define sex, did you know that none of them managed to do so in a way that was scientifically correct?”

The panelists also offered advice to allies. 

Clymer said treading about trans issues and being informed about them is a great start. 

“You’ve got to step up,” she said.

Turner said allyship goes beyond relationships, and into the realm of being uncomfortable. 

“Allyship is synonymous with action and moving forward,” they said.

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Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach theater announces new managing director

Clear Space hires Joe Gfaller after national search



Joe Gfaller starts his new role in November.

Rehoboth Beach’s Clear Space Theatre Company announced Tuesday that its board of directors has unanimously selected Joe Gfaller to join the company as managing director after a national search. 

Gfaller, who currently serves as managing director for Metro Theater Company in St. Louis, will join Artistic Director David Button as co-leader at CSTC, which marks its 20th anniversary in 2024.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity to help Clear Space Theatre Company grow its civic and philanthropic footprint as it begins a third decade of serving the community in coastal Delaware,” Gfaller said.

“Rehoboth is a special place to all who call it home, both year-round and seasonally. It is an extraordinary honor to work with such a creative and dynamic team as the CSTC staff and board to help the company grow to represent and reflect the fullness of this community.”

At Metro Theater Company, which is St. Louis’s primary professional theater for youth and families, Gfaller guided campaigns that helped grow the company’s revenues by 40% over four years, according to a release from Clear Space.

“Joe brings a wide range of theater experiences to the position and is sure to make an immediate impact on the company,” said Clear Space Board chair Laura Lee Mason. “His impressive track record and visionary leadership will undoubtedly elevate Clear Space to new heights. Joe shares our dedication to providing the community with outstanding education and theatrical experiences, and we look forward to collaborating with him to achieve those artistic aspirations.”

CSTC Artistic Director David Button added, “I look forward to Clear Space Theatre Company’s growth alongside Joe Gfaller. Not only will Clear Space benefit from his talent, but so will the community and state arts industry as a whole.”

Gfaller will begin full time in Rehoboth Beach in mid-November. During an October visit for the opening of “Young Frankenstein” at CSTC on Oct. 13, there will be opportunities for the public to meet him during the CAMP Rehoboth Street Festival on Oct. 15. He will be joined by his husband Kraig and their two dogs, Sprout and Emmit.

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