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Queery: Steve Clemons

The think tank guru and blogger answers 20 gay questions

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(Blade photo by Michael Key)

Steve Clemons reads a lot. He’s never fully caught up on the thousands of e-mails he gets daily and he’s inundated with what he calls a “gusher” of information. But it’s part of what gives his blog, the Washington Note, its sharp edge and keeps him in demand as a commentator on cable news.

“It’s constant and I do a pretty good job of keeping up with it, absorbing information quickly,” he says. “So the chances are high that I will know an angle or a twist to ask about. You gotta be informed — that’s a big part of it. If not, you’ll be derivative.”

Clemons started his blog with his friend Josh Marshall in 2004 as an outlet for his dual passion of foreign policy and economic “stuff,” that he wasn’t doing much with at his day job as a senior fellow at the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, a centrist think tank he co-founded 12 years ago. He got on the national radar quickly and was named a blog favorite this year by Time magazine. A well-timed scoop in 2006 about former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and a cancelled hearing earned him more than 6 million hits in a single day.

Clemons, a 48-year-old Bartlesville, Okla., native, has been in Washington 16 years. Before that, he spent 14 years in Los Angeles where he directed the Japan America Society of Southern California.

His philosophy on being openly gay is, “I don’t shy away from it, but I don’t wear it on my sleeve either.”

He and his partner, Andrew Oros, have been together 19 years and live in Dupont Circle with their dog, Oakley, a Weimaraner.

Clemons enjoys blogging, running, biking, fishing, reading and selling small items on eBay in his spare time.  (Blade photos by Michael Key)

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

Since 1992. One of my mentors, Chalmers Johnson, was tough for me but went well. Also my husband’s mom, whose sister was spreading rumors that I was having an affair with Andrew’s mom. Untrue of course — the affair was with her son.

Who’s your gay hero?

Alexander the Great, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, John Maynard Keynes, Frank Kameny, Pedro Zamora, Andrew Tobias

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

Nellie’s (Cobalt is close second).

Describe your dream gay wedding.

Had it — eloped and got married on the steps of San Francisco City Hall with a couple of other gay couples in August 2008 and on-looking tourists applauding like crazy when my husband and I kissed. In 1996 had an LTC-BBQ (long-term commitment barbecue at my father-in-law’s. Also very cool.)

What non-gay issue are you most passionate about?

Improving the direction of U.S. foreign policy — getting Israel/Palestine resolved, ending the Afghanistan war, getting Iran on a non-nuclear course, normalizing relations with Cuba, etc.

What historical outcome would you change?

I would have preferred Monica Lewinsky to have an affair with Bill Clinton after he was president rather than during his time in office. We might then have gotten Israel/Palestine two-state solution in place and have resolved the North Korea nuclear mess early. This in turn might have helped Al Gore get elected over Bush, preempted the invasion of Iraq and probably wouldn’t have had the same Iran challenge we have today.

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

I went as “media” to the HRC dinner featuring President Obama. During “media availability” I met the cast of “Glee” as well as Lady Gaga while waiting to meet Matthew Shepard’s parents. I didn’t know who “Glee” and Lady Gaga were (though in retrospect I had heard Gaga’s music — just didn’t know the name of the singer) and only recognized Jane Lynch from “Julie and Julia.” Now I love Gaga and “Glee” obsessively. Other cool thing is that Darren Star, creater of “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place,” and “Sex in the City,” was my best friend in college. Took Darren to the White House Correspondents dinner this year and sat him next to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Denis McDonough and Joshua Marshall. It was really hot when Bradley Cooper, Cynthia Nixon and other Darren discoveries came over to schmooze our table.

On what do you insist?

Active engagement in life and causes. No time for those who wait passively for things to happen.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

@SCClemons — Obama will score very, very big points across the board if DADT passes the Senate tomorrow. This is a big deal. There will be great fanfare and celebration or lots of tears tomorrow.

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

“America’s Gay Machiavelli”

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

Stay exactly as I am.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

Energy

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Remember that their job is to eventually put the LGBT business out of business, not become too comfortable with the status quo struggles. We want equality, fairness, an end to discrimination — and we need to keep the pressure up all the time to move our rights forward.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

An end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (ouch, those are hot!), gay marriage in America, saving anyone in Matthew Shepard’s shoes, my friends in need, my husband.

What gay stereotype annoys you most?

The notion that gay men are pedophiles or that effeminacy and being gay are in lockstep.

What’s your favorite gay movie?

“Longtime Companion” (“Another Country” comes in close second)

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Wearing ties — can we just get rid of them all?

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Any national bass fishing trophy — and maybe a Pulitzer for blogging.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That it was really, really all going to be OK.

Why Washington?

Because Washington is the sun around which politicos here and around the world orbit. D.C. is a free trade zone for pursuing any cause — and to get a better world, whether through ending LGBT discrimination or improving America’s foreign policy course, one has to compete effectively in the game here.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Bruce Majors

    January 3, 2011 at 6:01 am

    I think it’s very amusing Steve thinks DADT is an achievement for the Obamanoids.

    DADT could have been done at any time in the past 2 years or under President Clinton. But without that issue it would be harder to milk gay donors for dollars for the DNC.

    It was passed now only so Obama, presiding over double digit unemployment he has helped create and facing the loss of Congress and the loss of the Senate in 2012, could claim that he achieved something.

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Dining

D.C. Restaurant Week returns

Celebrating a revitalized dining scene after COVID closures

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A sample of what’s available from The DC Restaurant Group, which owns spots like Shaw’s Tavern and 801 Restaurant. Entrees include lobster and grits and salmon over succotash. (Photo courtesy DC Restaurant Group)

After being confined to a to-go program for the last two iterations, Washington, D.C.’s Restaurant Week is back this summer to celebrate the revitalized dining scene in the city. Summer Restaurant Week 2021, run by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), is scheduled to kick off Monday, Aug. 9, and last through Sunday, Aug. 15. 

The signature summer dining event returns to a one-week promotion this year, though restaurants have the option of extending their promotions. Diners can enjoy three-course menus at a range of indoor/outdoor comfort levels at more than 200 restaurants, ranging from fast-casual eateries to fine-dining destinations. In addition, the to-go family-style options that were introduced last year are not gone, however, as many restaurants will also offer this off-premise option. Of course, many spots plan to include a cocktail pairing as well.

Dinner is the main event for participating restaurants, with the classic three-course dinner priced at $35 per person. Several restaurants with higher overall price points are also offering an elevated $55 dinner with exclusive items. Three-course lunches run $22, and weekend brunch is also $22. 

Finally, many restaurants will also offer “RW-To-Go” dinner meals, available at two price points: $60 or $120 for two people and $100 or $200 for four people.

These RW-To-Go dinner meal packages are available for takeout or delivery, and diners can order RW-To-Go either directly from the participating restaurant or check their delivery app for the offer.

D.C. restaurants remain open at 100 percent capacity, but Mayor Bowser last week reinstated mask mandates for indoor spaces.  

New restaurants participating in Summer Restaurant Week include Angolo, ANXO, Flower Child, Le Sel, GATSBY, Glover Park Grill, Gypsy Kitchen, and Truluck’s in D.C.; and Spice Kraft Indian Bistro in Virginia.

“This year’s Summer Restaurant Week is not only providing diners with great options at great prices for dining out, but is also the first time all restaurants across our region are able to accommodate diners at full capacity both indoors and outdoors,” says Kathy Hollinger, president and CEO of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. “Being fully open is a step toward recovery for the industry and also toward a return to our dynamic local restaurants in their spaces which help to elevate the dining experience.”

RAMW is the regional association representing restaurants and the foodservice industry in the D.C. Metropolitan Area. RAWM also runs the RAMMYs, the awards for the food and beverage industry. 

Restaurant operators themselves reinforced how important the promotion is to them. “Restaurant Week is an opportunity for us to showcase our resilience and commitment to serving our staff and community,” says Salwa Laaraichi of Station 4. 

For Eric Heidenberger, a partner at The DC Restaurant Group, which owns spots like Shaw’s Tavern and 801 Restaurant, the past year has been a challenge. But RAMW, he says, “has been very supportive to the D.C. restaurant community and a key a resource in helping us navigate the challenges of the pandemic. We’re excited to participate in the first “normal” restaurant week in almost a year and a half. Restaurant week is a great opportunity for us reach new diners and showcase new dishes to our regular/repeat customers.”

All of gay-owned Knead Restaurant + Design’s locations are participating in Restaurant Week. Co-owners Jason Berry said that he hopes that Restaurant Week “offers a way for diners to begin dipping their toe by taking advantage of these well-priced promotions. Restaurant Week brings a much-needed lift to August revenue and is especially meaningful this year as so many restaurants have been hurting these last 16 months.” 

As for what’s going to be offered at his restaurants, which include Gatsby, The Grill, Mi Casa, Mi Vida, and Succotash, most of which debuted just this year, “each of our restaurants takes a unique approach to offering seasonal additions, fun new items and crowd pleasers so that all guests have something for them during Restaurant Week.”

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Living

Trusting The Tech – Why technology is key for the LGBTQ community

The LGBTQ community is harnessing the power of technology in order to promote inclusion.

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After another Pride month, we reflect on how far we’ve come – and how much work is still left to do.  Changing perceptions and raising awareness is never easy but, in the modern world, the LGBTQ community is harnessing the power of technology in order to promote inclusion.  In this article, we’re going to look at the ways in which our tech is taking things to new levels:

Safety First

In 2021, we’re still seeing far too many headlines about attacks on members of the LGBTQ community, and its vital that individuals are vigilant about their safety – and that of others. Technology such as the GeoSure travel safety app can provide a valuable layer of protection.  Additionally, new features such as the functionality introduced by Tinder to prevent LGBTQ identification being shown in the profile of users who may be travelling through intolerant nations are incredibly important.  We’re all working toward a world without discrimination but, until that day comes, safety is of paramount importance.  Similarly, technology comes into play when it comes to venues such as salons in areas where safety may be an issue.  A lot of salons are now mindful of this and are using appointment booking software such as Booksy which allows them to manage appointments through an app to ensure that their environments are as safe and comfortable as possible. 

Inform And Educate

Technology can be an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to breaking down barriers between the LGBTQ community and other members of society.  The groundbreaking LGBTQ+ Experiment website has been created to do just that by allowing people to ask – and answer – questions in order to increase understanding.  More importantly, innovations like this one are incredibly useful in eliminating some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the LGBTQ community.

Uniting Communities

You may have read about a recent incident on Lake Moses, Washington, whereby a group of young boaters were recorded hurling abuse at fellow boaters who were displaying a Pride flag.  During the incident, the abusers ran into trouble when their boat burst into flames…….and were rescued by the boaters with the Pride flag.  

Following the incident, thousands of Washingtonians took to social media to praise the rescuers – with many describing the incident as ‘karma’.  As unpleasant as this event was, through the use of social media, it brought together members of all communities, thereby connecting and uniting people against this kind of mindless abuse.  

Putting LGBTQ In The Picture

Improving visual representation has always been important for different ethnic and gender groups; from the introduction of African American Barbie dolls to more inclusion in television and film.  Tech giant, Apple, has highlighted its commitment to visual inclusivity by introducing gender neutral and same sex couple emojis – a move which can only help to improve inclusivity.

Connecting Through Content

Historically, media channels tended to ‘play it safe’ when it came to the representation of minorities – something which resulted in a widespread sense of isolation and alienation.  The advent of the internet – and more significantly, social media – means that representation, and the publishing of content, is handed to the masses, rather than to a few media outlets who may or may not have their agenda.  For the LGBTQ community, the ability to create and publish content which highlights issues and promotes inclusion is a huge step toward better understanding and awareness. 

Technology is constantly evolving and can be an extremely valuable tool when it comes to connecting and uniting communities and improving understanding.  In a world where it seems that anything is possible, this technology is key to breaking down barriers and creating a world where inclusion is the norm.

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Real Estate

How to prepare yourself in this seller’s market

Millennials are putting down the avocado toast and picking up mortgages

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Just because it’s a seller’s market, doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to buy.

For the first time, Millennials are cutting back on spending money on multiple streaming subscriptions, $10 drinks, and avocado toast. They are dipping their feet into purchasing their first home. The current market conditions can be tough for some buyers though, so being prepared is more important now than ever. 

The first step in the home buying process is finding the right real estate agent. Your agent should be trustworthy and someone who is knowledgeable about the area, sales contract, and local programs that may be able to save you money. Once you find the perfect agent, ask them to refer you to their preferred local lenders. When talking with lenders, not only should you focus on interest rates, but also ask about their in-house processing and underwriting. This may be able to give you a competitive advantage against other offers. 

Once you’ve decided on your lender, they will need several documents to help them determine your eligible purchase price. Now is the perfect time to get your documents in order, including 30 days of pay stubs, two years of tax returns and/or W2s and 1099s, and two consecutive bank statements. Providing these documents in a timely manner can help expedite the pre-approval process and prevent delays once you’re under contract. The lender will also look at your median credit score from the three major credit bureaus. Since your credit score has a direct effect on your interest rate, it’s important to pay close attention to your score. If your credit score needs a little help, talk to your Realtor and lender to see if they have recommendations on how to boost your score or programs that may be able to help.

After you’ve been pre-approved, it’s time to look at properties. With these current market conditions, properties typically don’t stay on the market for very long. Depending on the type of property, some may only be on the market for a few days. Doing your due diligence at the beginning of your home search can help save you time and focus on the properties that really fit your criteria. Now is the time to make that wish list, visit neighborhoods, research schools, and get a really good idea of what you’re looking for. In this market, it’s very important to see a property as soon as it hits the market. By fully understanding your search criteria in advance and making sure you’re available to see properties after work or on a lunch break, you will be better prepared to make an offer when “the one” hits the market. 

The most common question I get now is, “should I wait?” In most cases, the cost of waiting can cost you. With historically low interest rates and housing prices continuing to increase, now is still a great time to purchase real estate. Being prepared, patient and having an informed Realtor and lender on your side will definitely help in this market.

Teddy Rojanadit is a licensed Realtor in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland with Bediz Group at Keller Williams Capital Properties. Follow him at @teddydcrealtor on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. He can be reached at [email protected] or 202-664-3736.

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