Connect with us

Living

Don Lemon: Proud to be out

CNN’s Don Lemon challenging norms about masculinity in black community; sits down for exclusive Q&A with the Blade.

Published

on

Don Lemon
Don Lemon

Don Lemon, the CNN anchor who came out last week, feels like he's won the lottery. (Photo courtesy Reggie Anderson of Reggie Anderson photography, Atlanta)

Two weeks ago, Don Lemon was merely reporting the news, not making it. As CNN’s weekend prime time anchor, Lemon brings a decade of experience breaking news and filing moving special reports. Now, however, Lemon is embarking on an ambitious mission to move America once again, this time to accept and embrace an openly gay African-American news anchor.

It’s a tall order, and Lemon is risking his livelihood, his career and his reputation to come out of the closet as gay. This week, the Washington Blade sat down with the man who has spent so much time covering public figures, and has now become one of those newsmakers himself.

Washington Blade: First of all, congratulations on the new book and coming out. It’s a big month for you.
Don Lemon: Oh thank you!

Blade: Just a few months ago, you made headlines coming out as a victim of sexual abuse in your youth, which was a very surprising moment, and now in your new book, “Transparent,” you were a bit more deliberate and more measured as you come out as an openly gay prime time anchorman at a major cable news channel. Now, you hinted to Gawker last week that coming out feels good, but you weren’t real specific. On a scale of one to incredible, can you rate how the coming out experience has been so far?

Lemon: [laughs] On one to incredible? Are you serious?

Blade: Yeah.

Lemon: OK. [laughs] What if I said ‘one?’ You’d say, ‘uh oh! Goodbye!’ [laughs] I have to tell you I can’t even put it in those terms. I mean, it goes way over a scale of one to 10, honestly. And it goes way over incredible.
I mean I just feel like a new person. And it’s funny because someone from CNN sent me the write up on the ESPN radio guy who came out — and he thanked me and Rick Welts and whoever. And he says that he feels like he won the lottery. And it’s funny because he’s been out for like three days or two days, and I’ve been out three days longer than him, but I know how he feels. It’s like you have this rush of ‘You know what? This is who I am! I don’t have to hide it.’

And even if you’re out in your personal life, and you may have been dating people, and you have gay friends, I think what most people don’t understand for people in the public eye or high profile people, it’s something that you carry around, and you don’t even know and you become so adept at navigating it and avoiding questions and making sure you’re not in situations where you might be outed. Even though you may not be ashamed of what it is outwardly, but there’s something inside of you that’s afraid of someone finding out and using it against you and that it will hurt you in some way.

So it feels … I need to come up with a new word. Fancredible! Or Intastic! There’s not just one word. I feel Extastic!

Blade: I hope both of those words catch on after this interview.

Lemon: What did I say, ‘fancredible?’ that’s actually pretty cool, right?

Blade: I like it, I’m going to start using it this afternoon. Being someone of high visibility — and you were honored as one of the most influential African Americans in Ebony last year and Essence this year — do you think that when public figures in the black community, like yourself, come out as gay, there’s a possibility to change minds?

Lemon: I think if you come out and you’re in a position like mine, or higher, or wherever — even if you’re just in your job, and you feel comfortable to do it — I think you have the opportunity to change minds. …

But I think — I have to be honest — I don’t know any high-profile African Americans who are out. And I always say, ‘name five who have come out in the last five years,’ and they look at me and say ‘well, I dunno,’ and I ask, ‘OK, the last 10 years,’ and they say ‘I dunno,’ and then I just say ‘one, and I’ll give you one,’ and I say Wanda Sykes, and beyond that, most people can’t really name any. And I think it’s different being a woman — she’s very brave. It’s a whole different nuance being a woman and an entertainer.

I’m not an entertainer, I’m not a woman, I work for a very credible and influential news organization. And there, frankly, aren’t many people like me ‘out’ in general, and when you break it down into subcategories like African American or whatever, then there really aren’t any people. So do I think I can change minds? Absolutely, and that’s why I’m doing it. I hope to change minds.

Blade: Why do you think it’s so difficult for public figures in the black community to come out?

Lemon: Well I think it’s difficult for public figures to come out in general. And then if you belong to a group that’s already been discriminated against, then of course it’s harder. When you ask ‘why is it so hard for public figures in the black community,’ I ask, how many public figures in the white community do you know are out? How many public figures in the news are out? You know?

I mean, I know of two, other than me — two journalists who are white — but as far as being black journalists who are out, I don’t know any! I don’t know any professional black athletes who are working now who are out, I don’t know any black singers or performers or actors who are out, and I don’t know many whites who are.

And so, it’s hard to come out anyway — as much as we’d like to think the world has changed. And yes, it has; people’s attitudes in general in America are changing about gay people. But still it’s deemed as something you want to keep secret, and you don’t want to talk about it. So, when you get the black community — a community that has a history of discrimination —that’s one more category, one more name for them. It’s like, ‘OK, so he’s a black guy, now he’s a black gay guy,’ and that’s another label I’m adding to myself. And that would be another label that some black person could be adding to themselves: gay. That’s a frightening prospect, especially when you don’t know what the outcome will be on the other side.

Don Lemon

CNN anchor Don Lemon comes out in his new book, 'Transparent,' due out June 16. (Photo courtesy Reggie Anderson of Reggie Anderson photography, Atlanta)

And let’s not forget — very important — it’s different in the black community. In the black community, for the most part, not all black people, the church has been the backbone of the community for so long, and the church preaches against homosexuality. So when you’re growing up, from the day you go into church, it is instilled in you that being gay is going against God. And that happens in any church. But when the backbone, the structure of the community has been so associated with the church, it’s even doubly more imprinted on your being and on your psyche.

And so it’s tough. In that community you’re supposed to be masculine. You’re supposed to be a man. You’re supposed to be strong. And people equate gay with being weak. And so men aren’t supposed to be weak. Men are supposed to provide for the family, and take care of their women. And so that’s how it’s deemed to be, for the most part, in the African-American community.

And people can say I’m throwing black people under the bus: I am black, I’m not doing it, I’m speaking for myself as well, because I lived in that whole environment forever. And it is true, I speak from experience.

Blade: Speaking of experience, as a gay newsman, your orientation informs your reporting. Do we need more openly gay journalists to help our community tell our stories properly?

Lemon: Let me preface that by saying: I have been doing these interviews a lot, and people have been trying to compare me to other people and pit me against other journalists. That’s not my role here. My role here is to talk about me.

I think it would be helpful in any profession if people would come out. If more people could feel comfortable in any profession, from being an attorney, to being an athlete, to being an actor, to being a garbage worker, to being a cleaning lady, to being a journalist. It would be more than helpful — the more people that come out, the better it will be for the Tyler Clementis of the world.

That being said, people should feel comfortable doing it whenever they want to do it. I don’t know other people’s journeys or stories, and why they may not be choosing to come out. That’s up to them. And you’ll have to ask those people why they don’t feel comfortable coming out.

But do I think there should be more openly gay journalists? I think it would help in any profession, like I said, if more people could feel comfortable coming out. And I don’t think that’s any different in the profession that I’m in. Does that make sense?

Blade: Definitely. Speaking of Tyler, you mentioned to Joy Behar that Tyler’s suicide influenced your decision to tell the story of being a gay man in the media, through the book you were writing at the time of his suicide. Why was this such a turning point for you?

Lemon: Because it just speaks to the whole reason why I’m doing it. And to your last question, which I will add to, I will give you more than you asked me for on the last question.

Because, last week before this happened, I may have felt differently. Since this has happened, I’ve gotten so many people who have written to me, who have contacted me, and who have stopped me on the street, in airports, in the grocery store, in parking lots, on the sidewalks and wherever and said ‘thank you for standing up. Thank you for walking in truth. Thank you, because of what you’ve done, you’ve allowed me to feel comfortable coming out.’ And, ‘thank you — I felt that I was bad. I’m a teenager, and now I see that I can be successful, and maybe someday I can be on television. I’d like to be like you Mr. Lemon.’

Do you know what that’s like coming from a teenager?

So if someone like Tyler Clementi could have reached out, or had seen someone that he could have related to, or felt comfortable enough to even call, or e-mailed, or send a text or a Tweet, or reach out in some way, then I have made a difference.

So, that being said, I think there is power in being able to be who you are, and being able to help other people, and being able to be — in some way — an example, or at least someone that teens can look up to, on the television, and go ‘hmm. I’m gay, he’s gay. He’s doing alright for himself.’

So, when you ask me ‘do we need more out gay journalists?’ That’s the answer to your question.

Because, people like me, and other journalists, who are in this profession are more attainable. You see an actor? You don’t feel like that’s attainable. You see someone who is in that sort of position, which is a fantasy anyway, where they’re acting on a role on a movie screen, even if they do come out, they’re an entertainer, and most people cannot ascend to that sort of thing. It’s not going to happen for everyone.

But pretty much, being a journalist is not unattainable for the average American. So it’s a position where someone can actually feel that you can reach out and touch them, that it speaks a truth. It’s not a fantasy.

So, when that happened to Tyler Clementi, something clicked in me, and I said, ‘you know what? This is ridiculous.’ By sitting here, just being silent about it, then what I’m doing is telling other people to be silent about it. Even if I’m not saying it, I am showing them by example that they should be silent.

Like I said, maybe I wouldn’t have felt like this a week ago — the day before I came out, I probably would have been, ‘Oh gosh, I don’t want that!’ But just by the silence there’s some deception in that. I truly feel that. And I don’t mean that for anyone else, I’m talking about for me. I’m not pointing fingers at anybody, I’m not talking about other journalists, I’m talking about me, and the epiphany that I reached, and then having gone to the other side, and gone to ‘the dark side,’ so to speak, now I feel more empowered, and I think people should feel comfortable coming out in their own time.

Blade: We’ve talked about all the good, but what is the risk for you in coming out now?

Lemon: Well the risk… at first there was a perceived risk. That, you know, my livelihood would be taken away, that people would shun me, that people would ostracize me, that people would turn off the television and not watch me.

Sometimes the fear of the unknown is worse than actually knowing, right?

Now that I’ve come out, and I’m on this side, then now I’m living in that risk and that fear. Maybe there are people that won’t watch me. Meh! I’ll have to deal with it. Maybe there are people who are going to write bad, dirty things about me. Meh! I’ll have to deal with it. Before I was dealing with the possibility, which isn’t real. So now I’m living it. So now I’m walking, and taking those steps, and every single day, if it does indeed happen, then I’ll just have to deal with it. And I’ll have to discuss it.

If it doesn’t happen? Then all of that fear was for naught.

So the actual fear was losing my livelihood. Who knows? That could still happen. But you know what? I don’t think so. I tend to believe in the goodness of people. And since this has happened, I’ve had so much support, and I thought that I wouldn’t — quite honestly, I have to be honest. I didn’t think I’d have any support in the gay community, or not much at all. And I think that — and not just in the gay community, but in the country overall — I’ve had so much support that if it doesn’t work out, I’ll go on to do something else, and I’ll thrive. And I’ll prosper. Just for the step that I’ve taken, which they think is very brave. I happen to think that, you know, I just walked in my truth.

I think Ellen was brave, doing it, what, almost 20 years ago? Coming up on 15 years? So I think Ellen was brave. That took a lot of guts to do it back then. There were so many people like ‘Oh is Ellen gay? Is Ellen gay? Oh my gosh!’ And she said, ‘Yeah I am!’ And look what happened. And that’s how I feel. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that in order to move and get beyond something, you just have to do it.

So I don’t know if people are going to want to watch me, I don’t know if people are going to want to hire me — I write about it in the book — I don’t know. But I do know that at a certain point, you just have to own up to it, walk in it, be truthful, and keep living your life.

Blade: How supportive have your colleagues been?

Lemon: My colleagues have been really supportive. I think it’s funny because I think they sort of look at me differently, because even though they work with me every day, they don’t really know my story, and now they feel like they know me a lot better.

Blade: Any last words you want to leave our readers? Anything you’ve learned through this process that you really haven’t been able to talk about yet?

Lemon: I have to say that, when you’re wrong about something, you have to own up to it. Don’t you think you have to admit your mistakes? Especially when one of the reasons that I’m doing it, is to change attitudes about gay people, and ‘let’s just get over it and move on,’ and this whole process. One reason it took me so long to come out is because I thought that I wouldn’t have the support from the gay community because I don’t look like, you know, a Ken doll. You know what I mean. I’m not like the Clark Kent; the gay prototype muscle boy or whatever. You know, at events, I would always be typically the only African American there, you know, either of a handful or the only. So I didn’t think that there was this sort of support system for someone like me in the gay community. And boy have I been proven wrong. And thankfully so.

You know I’ve had friends who were a part of gay organizations, and they would say, ‘Oh Don, you’re wrong.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but Neal, look at me, I’m the only one, I’m the only African American in the room, and it’s filled with a bunch of wealthy white guys, or a bunch of middle class white men. Why would someone care about me? Why would these people be supportive of me?’

And I have just been proven wrong. I think that — white, black, Asian, Hispanic, whatever — as gay people, I think we’re yearning for our stories to be told, and for inclusion, and when someone steps up to make a stand, I think we should get behind them, and I think we should do that with all of our gay brothers and sisters, and not just the ones who look like us.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Real Estate

5 tips for buying property in Rehoboth Beach

Local Realtors offer advice for navigating real estate boom

Published

on

Lee Ann Wilkinson and Chris Beagle offer advice on navigating Rehoboth Beach’s hot real estate market. (Blade file photo of Wilkinson by Daniel Truitt; photo of Beagle courtesy Beagle)

The pandemic has sent real estate prices soaring to unprecedented heights as more and more buyers look to secure properties. The trend has proven especially strong in beach towns and second home markets — with Rehoboth Beach, Del. no exception.

The Blade spoke with five local Realtors and asked for their tips for buying property amid a boom in the Rehoboth Beach real estate market.

Tip 1: Find a compatible Realtor

The pandemic has been a period of widespread uncertainty. For buyers, this means that staying up-to-date on the real estate market’s conditions and the availability of properties is all the more important, because they can change every day, said Lee Ann Wilkinson, CEO of The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty.

Russell Stucki, a Realtor with RE/MAX Realty Group Rehoboth, added that it is helpful to have a Realtor with year-round experience in the area, as they will be better informed about the market as a whole.

Once you have a Realtor, it is important to communicate what you want so they can approach the market with your interests in mind, Wilkinson added.

“That’s number one, find a really good Realtor who can represent you and knows what you’re looking for,” she said. That way, when “property becomes available, you are notified immediately and can be competitive with other buyers.”

Tip 2: Get pre-approved for a loan

In the current real estate market, it is important that buyers enter the process of looking for a property prepared, said Chris Beagle, a Realtor at Berkshire-Hathaway-Gallo Realty. For those not paying in cash, this includes obtaining a pre-approval letter from the start that indicates a lender is willing to provide you the funds required to close on a purchase.

“Too often people wait and then find a property and go in the reverse order,” preparing their financial documents afterwards, Beagle explained. In the current market, “time is of the essence.”

“Be prepared to have very few if no contingencies in your contract, like inspections and financing,” Wilkinson added. “That doesn’t mean you have to have the cash to buy the house — it just means that you have to be able to prove you can buy the house without being contingent on financing.”

Tip 3: Act quickly and decisively

With so many different people looking to buy properties in the Rehoboth Beach area, it is important to make decisions as soon as possible, said Andrew Whitescarver, a Realtor with RE/MAX Realty Group Rehoboth.

“The best advice I can give a buyer is: If you see a house online you are interested in, do not wait until the weekend to come see it. The house will be gone,” he explained. Instead, “schedule a virtual walk through” as soon as you can.

If you are ready to make an offer on a certain property, “make a clean offer with an escalation clause” for it to remain competitive with other buyers, Whitescarver added.

“This is not a sleep-on-it market. You have to act quickly and decisively,” agreed Joe Sterner, a Realtor at Keller Williams Realty. “If you want something, you’re going to have to be a little aggressive. This is not the market where you can bid … under the list price.”

While there might be some room for price negotiation on properties that have been listed for more than 10 days, “you have to go into it expecting that you’re going to be paying at least list price” for recently listed homes.

Tip 4: Keep your options open

With properties selling quickly, it is important to be flexible with what you are looking for if you are buying on a budget, Wilkinson said. By “looking outside of the box,” you can “broaden your expectations so you can have more properties that would work for you,” including those that did not sell immediately and can be purchased at a better price.

“It’s a seller’s market,” Stucki added, making it potentially harder to find an exact match because “we have limited inventory.”

“Look at those things that maybe aren’t what everybody else is looking at, and see how you can make them work for you” without getting caught up in specific “contingencies” that might make securing a property less realistic, Wilkinson suggested.

Tip 5: Don’t lose hope

Although navigating such a heated market can be daunting, especially for first-time buyers, Beagle noted that it is important to stay invested and focus on securing a property that works for you.

“It does become frustrating for buyers … because a home purchase is an emotional process, and people become emotionally attached to a property and get their hopes up,” he said. Despite the challenges, “it’s a learning process” which “inexperienced buyers have to go through” in order to get what they want, requiring a level of commitment, he explained.

While the future of the Rehoboth Beach real estate market is uncertain, Stucki pointed to some changes the city has seen over the course of the pandemic that have proven beneficial.
“As far as the area is concerned, we’ve grown and diversified. We’ve experienced an influx of creative talent with all the different varieties of activities, entertainment … (and) art,” he said. Moving forward, Stucki expects Rehoboth Beach properties “will continue to maintain or exceed” their current values.

But Sterner added that, although there is still a housing boom, the market is “slowing down” some, which might help new buyers enter the market.

Beagle noted that this year is an election year for the state, and periods of uncertainty like election seasons are not historically “favorable for the market.”

He added that he is unsure how sustainable the current market is. “I don’t know that the industry could continue to sustain itself with the rapid increases in value that we’ve experienced over the last two-and-a-half years,” he said, predicting some level of “stabilization” in the market.

Beagle offered one final piece of advice: “If we’ve learned nothing else these last couple of years, expect the unexpected.”

Continue Reading

Real Estate

How much home can I afford with rising interest rates?

Put your best foot forward when making an offer

Published

on

In today’s hot market, there are often stories of bidding wars and multiple offers.

For many, purchasing a home is a significant, exciting expenditure. It’s one of the biggest financial decisions many people make, and it’s one that is worth considering carefully. Often, in a market as competitive and fast-moving as the current one, homebuyers find themselves looking at potential homes and realizing that a highly competitive offer may be necessary. There are often stories of bidding wars and multiple offers being made on available homes in a matter of days. 

While that may not be the case forever, what will remain true is that most homebuyers want to put their best foot forward when making an offer. Most buyers want to find a home they love, that they can bid on competitively, and that they can afford if they end up being the chosen buyer. This begs the question – what type of offer is reasonable to make given your financial circumstances? How much home can you afford? These are important questions to ask.

A closer look at the calculations

Determining how much you can comfortably spend on the mortgage for a new home while still meeting all of your other existing financial obligations is an important calculation to make ahead of time. After all, purchasing a home is a decision that can significantly impact your financial situation, so you want to be sure that you’re fully informed and that you feel confident in the choice you make. 

Often, the rule of thumb where mortgages are concerned is that you can “afford” a mortgage that is around 2 to 2.5 times your income. A mortgage payment is typically made up of four primary components – principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. It is important to consider each of these components when determining the total amount of the mortgage, and what percentage of your annual gross income will go toward that payment. Often called the front-end ratio, or mortgage-to-income ratio, you’ll want to consider that percentage and usually seek to secure a mortgage payment that does not exceed roughly 28 to 30% of your annual gross income. Considering the numbers is only a part of the picture, however.

Looking beyond the numbers

Making this decision is not always strictly a matter of numbers and calculations. It also involves carefully considering your priorities and preferences and truly making a decision that you feel will give you the freedom to live in a home that you love and enjoy, while also continuing to maintain the lifestyle that you love. Determining how much house you can afford will depend on a variety of factors, including:

Your loan amount and the term of years over which your mortgage will last;

Your income;

Your total monthly expenses;

Any taxes you might be required to pay, property or otherwise;

Current mortgage rates and estimated closing costs;

Any homeowners’ association fees;

Any other relevant factors that you determine should be considered in consultation with a trusted agent. 

After considering all of these factors, be certain to keep in mind that it’s also important to be realistic as you make your decision about what you can comfortably afford. Don’t underestimate your monthly expenses. It may not be helpful to tell yourself that you’ll cut back on leisure spending if you don’t think you really will, or to underestimate what you might need in an emergency fund for unexpected events. Doing so can often leave you in a difficult spot where debt can accumulate quickly. If anything, it’s best to overestimate your expenses so that you have some breathing room in your budget. 

We’re here for you

Wherever you are in the real estate process – if you’re searching for the perfect home to buy, considering whether now is the time to sell, or anywhere in between – at GayRealEstate.com, we’re here for you. We are passionate about connecting LGBTQ buyers and sellers across the country with talented, experienced, and LGBTQ-friendly real estate agents who know and love the communities in which they live and are ready to help you calculate just how much home you can afford, and connect you with a top LGBTQ+ mortgage lender for prequalification. Having the right agent can make all the difference to your real estate experience, and we want it to be the very best it can be. If we can help you, visit us at GayRealEstate.com today to get connected and get started. 

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

Continue Reading

Dining

Crazy Aunt Helen’s to host ‘Pride-a-palooza’

Barracks Row restaurant celebrating all month long

Published

on

Crazy Aunt Helen’s ‘serves American comfort food with a southern slant.’ (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Shane Mayson’s restaurant is as colorful as his language. His multi-hued American eatery Crazy Aunt Helen’s debuted last July on Barracks Row, just a few days after Pride concluded. But as Pride is 365, this restaurant has spent its first year with flair and fanfare, and this June, Mayson, who identifies as gay, isn’t holding back.

“I LOVE PRIDE MONTH,” Mayson wrote (caps are his). “I love everything we have at Crazy Aunt Helen’s for Pride. Check out our events and get blown away,” he says.

This isn’t Mayson’s first Pride – but it is his first as owner of Crazy Aunt Helen’s, a delightfully fabulous neighborhood restaurant in Barracks Row.  

Thus far in June, Mayson has already held comedy shows, book readings, a ladies’ tea dance, play readings, bingo, and a Story District event. Coming up on June 25, to end Pride month with even more color, is “Pride-a-palooza,” featuring a host of drag queens, food, drinks, prizes, and plenty of surprises that MayD.C. Mayor Muriel Bowserson has been waiting an entire year to showcase.

Crazy Aunt Helen’s “serves American comfort food with a southern slant,” explains Mayson. Taking over the space of Irish pub Finn McCool’s, Crazy Aunt Helen’s spreads over two floors, plus a patio and streatery. The interior is wildly bright: a Prince-esque purple host stand and staircase welcome guests, and a highlighter-green wooden banquette runs the length of the dining room. A set of wicker chairs and flower-print cushions recall that southern influence.

Mayson enlisted Pixie Windsor – the very same of eponymous Miss Pixie’s – to design the restaurant (the two have been friends for years). “Pixie has a way with creating fabulous comfortable spaces,” Mayson says. 

Windsor and Mayson partnered to craft the whimsical aesthetic, from the brilliant paint job to a bright-pink neon sign.

Mayson is quick to note that his Aunt Helen “was charming, warm, and funny, with an amazing laugh, and I wanted my restaurant to have that same feeling,” he says. “I wanted our guests to feel like they are getting a big’ol hug each time they walk in the doors.” 

The menu is just as homey and eclectic. Mayson waxes poetic about the fried green tomatoes, the chicken fried steak smothered in chicken sausage gravy, and a Jewish-style braised brisket. Yet many of the dishes are also vegan and vegetarian, like the “fab” cakes made of soy and mushroom and a vegan steak.

As for the drinks, Mayson says that the “signature cocktails are also seasonally driven, and I only use local distilleries like Republic Restoratives, another LGBTQIA business.” There’s also a list of beer, wine, and zero-proof drinks.

Mayson has been in the restaurant business since he moved to D.C. in 1984, working first at Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill, and most recently as director of business development for the restaurant group of the highly lauded restaurant industry leader, and lesbian, Jamie Leeds.

Mayson is using Pride this year as Crazy Aunt Helen’s coming out, both as a restaurant and a safe space. “I can say that I have had experiences in my life where I didn’t feel welcomed places. The staff and I work very hard to make sure everyone who walks into Crazy Aunt Helen’s feels welcome,” he says.

“I find it’s the small things that build to allow folks to feel safe,” he notes. There’s no required uniform, allowing staff to dress however they feel most comfortable. Mayson also makes an effort to support local LGBTQ artists and performers, giving them space in the second-floor Peacock Room to share their talents.

To that end, Mayson is offering The Rainbow Theatre Project, a theater group that has been dark since pandemic closings, a home until they are back up and running. During June, they performed four staged readings from four LGBTQ playwrights. “I can’t wait to have the Peacock Room buzzing with entertainment every night of the week and to hear all the people laughing and enjoying the food, each other and the show,” Mayson says.

Mayson’s goal at Crazy Aunt Helen’s is twofold: create a space “that’s welcoming and nourishing to both our bellies and our spirits.”

Shane Mayson (Photo courtesy of Mayson)

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]