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Queery: Rev. Dwayne Johnson

The MCC-D.C. minister answers 20 gay questions



(Blade photo by Michael Key)

Christmas means family time for lots of people but that will be especially true this year for Rev. Dwayne Johnson.

His parents are both ministers (his sister is, too) and they’ll be preaching throughout the holidays at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, the mostly LGBT church where Johnson took over as senior pastor in January. Johnson’s father will preach on Christmas Eve, his mother the day after Christmas.

So how do conservative Church of the Nazarene ministers like his parents fit in at MCC, the liberal, gay-friendly denomination that preaches openness and tolerance?

“My parents have faced some criticism for their support,” Johnson says. “And I don’t know that theologically we’re in full agreement but for them, and I can’t really speak for them, but I think they made peace with the fact that there are things they just don’t understand. I took them to a gay bar with me in Houston a few years ago. They were in town and I had to go to a fundraiser so I just took them with me. They’re not really bar and club people, so it was a fun experience.”

Johnson, a Lubbock, Texas, native who’s lived in several cities in Missouri, California, Kansas, Indiana, Texas and more, says Christmas is a time to remember God’s gifts to humanities, one of which is being queer.

“It’s a gift, not a curse,” he says. “There are still some who would call it a curse, but it’s actually one of God’s greatest gifts because queer people bring a different perspective. It’s not a matter of being covered by grace and all that stuff. It’s not an issue of sin. It’s part of God’s divine plan.”

Johnson says his first year at MCC — he previously spent 13 years at a large MCC church in Houston — has gone “amazingly fast.” He’s officiated 35 weddings, a boom that surged when the District voted to allow same-sex marriage last December.

He says the church is understaffed so he’s working on increasing programming and reversing what has become declining attendance numbers in the last few years. It’s also a homecoming for him. He worked as a pastoral assistant at the church from 1989 to 1992 upon leaving his parents’ denomination thinking his ministry years were behind him.

Johnson is single. He lost a former partner several years ago to AIDS. He almost married a woman once and eventually officiated her marriage to someone else. They’re still friends. Johnson lives in D.C.’s Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood. He enjoys baseball and talking with friends about “non-church stuff” in his free time.

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

I came out when I was 24. It was most difficult to tell my parents. They immediately affirmed their love for me. Mom and I were sitting in the front seat of my car in Overland Park, Kansas. We talked for hours and there were tissues everywhere.

Who’s your gay hero?

Rev. Troy Perry. He founded MCC before Stonewall and he is still going strong for human rights for all people.

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

Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill. I met friends there my first night in Washington, D.C. in July of 1989 and now that I’m back in Washington, it still feels like home.

Describe your dream gay wedding.

First I need to meet the dream guy. Then, the dream wedding would reflect our personalities as individuals and as a couple without trying to meet anyone else’s expectations.

What non-gay issue are you most passionate about?

There are no gay issues or straight issues — there are only human issues and we are all connected and it is about time we figure that out.

What historical outcome would you change?

The 1968 assassinations of King and Kennedy. I can only imagine the positive impact had they both lived long and full lives.

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

The release of the iPhone. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I must remember to control it to keep it from controlling me. Sometimes I long for moments when nothing beeps or vibrates.

On what do you insist?

Finding humor, grace and beauty on even the most difficult days.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

At 2 p.m. on Dec. 19: “MCCDC Toy Drive to bring joy to 300 children & youth affected or effected by HIV/AIDS. Thanks to all who helped bring joy to this corner of the world!” The post included a pic of some of the toys arranged around our altar in the MCCDC sanctuary.

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

“SHATTERED ASSUMPTIONS: Surprised by God the Adventurous Lover”

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

I would marvel at the ingenuity of science then pray nobody would use it.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

The physical world is the small but glorious tip of an unfathomable and even more glorious iceberg.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

It is not just about “us” — and who are “we” anyway?

What would you walk across hot coals for?

With the right footwear I would walk across coals for a good cup of coffee.

What gay stereotype annoys you most?

Beyond stereotypes, clichés and assumptions there are real people with some incredible stories to tell if we just listen.

What’s your favorite gay movie?

“On a Clear Day you Can See Forever.” I’ll never forget the wallpaper in Daisy’s (Barbra Streisand) bedroom. I had a boyfriend break up with me over my fascination with this movie. His loss.

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Being “in style” whatever that means. And who gets to decide that anyway?

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

The “Best Uncle Award” from my four nieces Savannah, Riley, Reagan and Sawyer.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Not to worry about what others think of me and to remember I can survive people being mad at me. People pleasing is self-destructive.

Why Washington?

I’ve found something to love everywhere I’ve lived. Washington feels like a convergence of all the places I’ve ever lived and all the people I’ve ever known. I’m grateful that 2010 brought me home to Washington.

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Pride rides

Two models offer strong, confident, inspiring styling



BMW X5 xDrive 45e

As usual, June is bustin’ out all over, with Vice President Kamala Harris making history by joining in the festivities. But the fun doesn’t have to end there. Two fine crossover SUVs show how easy it is to keep the party going indefinitely. I call them Pride rides—strong, confident and inspiring. 



Mpg: 20 mpg (gas only), 50 mpg (electric and gas)

0 to 60 mph: 4.7 seconds

In 2015, back when Gus Kenworthy and Caitlin Jenner came charging out of the closet, BMW was making its own hoopla with the X5 xDrive 40e. This was the automaker’s first plug-in hybrid, an engineering marvel that could shift seamlessly between EV and gas-engine mode. Ride and handling were as good as any traditional SUV. And despite a hefty curb weight, acceleration to 60 mph was a decent 6.2 seconds. 

Fast forward to the X5 xDrive 45e, the next-gen model rolling into showrooms this year. Thanks to the pandemic, this debut has been more subtle. But the enhancements are quite substantial. The new engine—stronger and quieter than the previous model—helps this midsize SUV blast to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. Despite being over 400 pounds heavier, the updated X5 is actually nimbler. And the electric-only range is 31 miles, or twice as far as the old model. That’s a good thing, because overall fuel economy is now 20 mpg versus 24 mpg. Luckily, most motorists drive only about 30 miles each day anyway. (Or at least they did prior to the pandemic.) 

Inside, the cockpit design is minimalist chic, but with lots of standard features: faux-leather seats, panoramic roof, two 12.3-inch digital screens, and smartphone integration for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. All-wheel drive also is standard, even in electric-only mode. Along with all the latest safety gear, there’s active cruise control with a stop-and-go function that can be used at speeds up to 130 mph (yo, for autobahn drivers, not those of us stateside). And during a much-needed weekend getaway with some freeway backups, the traffic-jam-assist feature worked its magic: I was able take my hands off the wheel and relieve a lot of driver fatigue and frustration as the vehicle drove itself. This also was a blessing for my partner, who didn’t have to listen to me swear like a New York City taxi driver. 



Mpg: 20 city/24 highway

0 to 60 mph: 5.8 seconds

For a few more bells and whistles, there’s the Mercedes GLS 450. This full-size SUV has acres of cargo room and can easily seat seven passengers. For a sportier vibe, you can swap out the second-row bench seat for two captain’s chairs. 

A robust six-cylinder engine comes standard and provides plenty of punch. The entry-level GLS handles just as effortlessly as the higher-end V8 model, which adds another $23,000 to the price tag. Both vehicles are smooth operators, with all-wheel drive and a sophisticated suspension that raises and lowers the chassis. There’s even a clever pothole-sensing system to neutralize nasty bumps and enhance the feeling that this hulking SUV is floating on air. As with many BMWs and Mercedes, the GLS now comes with two huge 12.3-inch screens: one for the digital gauges and the other for the infotainment system. 

Various pricey options abound, including five-zone climate control, a tablet to operate the infotainment system, and front and rear massaging seats that can be programmed to apply soothing relief to your back, tush or both. As if such amenities weren’t enough, you can toss in heated and cooled cupholders, as well as a cabin fragrance system with choice of four aromas. Both Mercedes and BMW offer vibrant ambient lighting, with thin strips of interior lights illuminating the foot wells, door panels, dashboard trim, climate control vents, cupholders, speaker rims, center console and more. To tap into your inner rainbow, the GLS has a digital color wheel where you can choose from 64 lustrous hues. You can customize the lighting even further, selecting different colors to illuminate various parts of the interior at the same time. For me, calling up some funky mood lighting and a few rockin’ Pride songs on the stereo is the perfect way to get the party started. 

Mercedes GLS 450
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Real Estate

Can you buy a home with Bitcoin?

Buyer, seller must agree to terms before using cryptocurrency



Bitcoin. Most of us have heard of it. Increasingly, many are looking to invest in it. For many, cryptocurrency has now gone beyond being somewhat of an exclusive province for the more adventurous and risk inclined investors and is becoming far more mainstream, as more than 100,000 vendors worldwide accept it as a valid currency. All of this leads to an important question – can you purchase a home with Bitcoin?

For those hoping to do so, the good news is that it is a possibility. In fact, it is a possibility that may not be as distinct or far-fetched as many might have expected. First and foremost, both buyer and seller must agree on the exchange of Bitcoin for the property. As opposed to situations where more traditional forms of payment are utilized, a Bitcoin transaction requires the agreement of all parties up front.

Although you can buy a home with Bitcoin, this doesn’t mean that most buyers are in a place yet where they actually do. Certainly, using virtual currency to purchase real estate is still a very new and novel idea, so of course, there is still some hesitation in certain sectors of the market. Often, these concerns center around a lack of regulation and understanding of cryptocurrency. Others have concerns about how Bitcoin transactions will be taxed. All of these questions and concerns are understandable, and it is expected that as cryptocurrency continues to become more mainstream these concerns will lessen, and purchasing a home in this manner may be an option for an increasing number of buyers.

There are also definite pros and cons to a bitcoin home sale. One of the advantages, for many, is that the transaction can be completed very quickly. Often, after everything is signed, the transaction can be completed in as little as 10 minutes, depending on network congestion. On the other side of the coin, however, it’s important to be sure that you trust the other party if you’re making a real estate purchase. Bitcoin transactions are often not reversible, so it’s important to be certain about your choices ahead of time.

Ultimately, while there are many ways to finance the purchase of a home, there’s only one way to ensure that you have a smooth and successful real estate experience – and that’s by getting connected with the Realtor who knows and loves the community that you’re interested in.

As an LGBTQ home buyer or seller, you want someone who values you for who you are, who understands your needs and real estate goals, and who will be committed to helping you achieve them. At, that’s where we come in. It is our passion and our purpose to connect LGBTQ homebuyers and sellers, with agents across the country who have the talent, experience, and dedication necessary to make your real estate experience the best it can be. You deserve nothing less. We would be honored to help you get started on your next real estate journey today. Contact us anytime.

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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Real Estate

The trendiest paint colors of 2021

Ultimate Gray, Illuminating, Urbane Bronze among year’s hues.



Pantone’s two colors of the year are Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. (Image courtesy of Pantone)

Last year, I decided to forego writing about the paint colors of the year, since many people in our vibrant community were out of work. Buying Farrow and Ball paint for $125 a gallon, it would seem, was not the first thing on their to-do lists.

So here we are in 2021 where the Pantone color of the year is…wait for it…Ultimate Gray. 

Aren’t we tired of gray yet? Sure, Pantone pairs it with an outrageously bright yellow called Illuminating, which I would have guessed was a blue-toned white had I not seen it online. The combination of gray and yellow has been used in linens and fabrics for several years, albeit in softer hues, so while the stronger hues have been updated for 2021, I don’t find them fresh or exciting anymore.

There is an array of colors in the lineup this year that are reminiscent of dirt. Dulux has Brave Ground, a neutral earth tone that “creates a feeling of stability, growth and potential, and provides a firm foundation for change and creativity.” That sounds like a color I need to have in my paint collection just to write articles, negotiate real estate contracts, and watch the news.

Sherwin Williams brings us Urbane Bronze, which they describe as “sophisticated” and “rooted in nature.” Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward Wilson would have likened it to biophilia, a term he coined for humankind’s desire to search for “a connection to nature and other forms of life.” I think it would accent cicadas nicely.

Contemplative, the 2021 choice from Pratt and Lambert paints, is a color to think about. It’s a deep moss like that found in the rainforest or on the front of my house. I guess it’s time for a power-wash. 

Teal has been around for decades, but it became so over-used that 20 years ago, Crayola removed Teal Blue from its crayon collection. Now it’s back in Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal, a deep, muted blue-green-gray combination, the ocean’s equivalent of mossy Contemplative.

Southwestern dirt is represented by Behr’s Canyon Dusk, which looks a little like a New Mexico landscape on a hot, dry day, without the cacti interspersed or the mountains on the horizon. Or try it on the exterior of your organic adobe home.

Glidden suggests using its 2021 choice, Aqua Fiesta, a softer, muted turquoise-aqua blend that won’t overpower your bedroom, bathroom and kitchen walls, and will promote a feeling of calm where used.

Dutch Boy has selected Earth’s Harmony for 2021. While the name implies a brown tone, this color is actually a cheerful blue that takes you to the moon and back. (Well, to the sky anyway.) Check out how it looks on kitchen cabinets on Dutch Boy’s website. Forget the gray-on-the-bottom and white-on-the-top cabinet theme and liven up your kitchen with this vibrant color.

Now, if you’re not already on overload, Valspar gives us 12 new colors to select from. Many are neutral and all are muted. 

The brown and tan tones include Maple Leaf (think Vermont maple syrup candy), Unforgettable (a perfectly forgettable beige), Arizona Dust (refer to Behr’s Canyon Dusk above), and Gallery Gray (gray is possibly a misnomer – it looks tan to me). 

The blues and greens are Lucy Blue (teal by another name), Blissful Blue (a mid-toned blue gray), Granite Dust (a very light blend of green and gray), Garden Flower (a happy green with only a touch of gray), and Academy Gray (more akin to teal than gray and the darkest of their 2021 choices).

In addition, Valspar gives us Soft Candlelight (a not-too-bright yellow), Cherry Taupe (a neutral with slightly pink tones), and my favorite, Dusty Lavender (true to its name, although anything called Dusty makes me want to go and take a shower).

Clark and Kensington paint combines its colors into three collections of six colors each: Understated Impact, Mindful Living, and Creative Escape, which sound like things to ruminate about while doing goat yoga. 

Each collection features hues that are like the blues, greens, tans, and grays created by every other paint company. The one exception is Red Tulip, found in the Understated Impact collection. It’s more of a ruby or garnet than a true red, but it’s nice to see someone paint outside the box. 

This month, I hope to see more decorating in gem colors: Garnet, Amber, Citrine, Emerald, Sapphire, and Amethyst, with accents of Smoky Quartz and Tiger Eye, and a smattering of Sky-Blue Topaz, Rose Quartz, and Pearls. 

Now, wouldn’t that make a nice flag?  Stay colorful, my friends.

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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