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HRC store vandalized; radical queer group claims responsibility

The Dupont Circle Human Rights Campaign store was vandalized last night by a group claiming to be paying homage to the Stonewall Riots.

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WASHINGTON — The Dupont Circle Human Rights Campaign store was vandalized last night by a group claiming to be paying homage to the Stonewall Riots.

HRC vandalized

Damage to the HRC store in Dupont Circle was minimal. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The group, which called themselves “The Right Honorable Wicked Stepmothers’ Traveling, Drinking and Debating Society and Men’s Auxiliary,” claims to have “poured pink paint into light bulbs, grabbed hammers,” before vandalizing the store, which according to HRC offers “a unique fusing of education and grassroots advocacy with HRC’s signature merchandise.”

All damage appears to be mostly cosmetic, with paint splatters visible on the windows of the store, and the word “Stonewall” spray-painted on the sidewalk immediately in front of the store.

Michael Cole-Schwartz, Director of Communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said in response to the vandalism, “HRC’s DC Action Center and Store was vandalized last night with paint on the front windows and an LGBT group has claimed responsibility for the crime. It’s unfortunate that after a marriage win in New York that represented an unprecedented coming together of LGBT groups, some are more interested in fostering division in the community.”

The full text of the offending group’s press release is bellow:

ROWDY QUEERS TRASH AND GLAMDALIZE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN GIFT SHOP IN WASHINGTON, DC ON THE 42nd ANNIVERSARY OF THE STONEWALL RIOTS

HRC vandalized

The word Stonewall painted on the sidewalk in front of the HRC store. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

(In the wee hours of June 29, 2011)

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) gift shop in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC is a god awful monstrosity. We were in there yesterday and between wiping our genitals on the clothing and discovering that the snow globes wouldn’t properly fit up our bums, we got to thinking:

“This place would look great with a bit of shattered glass and splattered paint.”

So we strapped on our riot chaps, poured pink paint into light bulbs, grabbed hammers, and went party party party! all over that tacky testament to the transformation of radical queer liberation into consumer junk.

We’ve got good reason. This week marks the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

On the night of June 28, 1969, New York City’s Public Morals Squad did a routine raid of an East Village gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. Everything was going fine until, in the midst of the standard genital check that police forced on draq queens, a lesbian beaned a cop straight in the head with a ripped-up parking meter. And so queer liberation was born.

The modern LGBT movement owes its success to three days of smashing, burning, punching, and kicking–all of it happily indiscriminate–and the confrontational tactics of groups like ACT-UP that followed in the decades since. Yet, somehow we’ve forgotten our riotous roots.

Gay Pride, for example, wasn’t always a suburban county fair with less fanny packs and lined with banks and politicians. The first Pride was the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day march, a celebration of the riots the year before (and to this day, Pride festivals the world over are celebrated in June).

But we’ve been snorting ritalin and drinking whiskey all night and this manifesto tomfoolery is wearing us down so let’s bring it home, shall we?

Why, you’re asking, did we specifically target the HRC, a massive national gay rights non-profit as opposed to vomiting urine on Rick Santorum or something equally fun?

Put simply, they suck. What do they suck? Cash. Lots of it.

The HRC rakes in something approaching 50 million dollars a year in revenue–their executive director, Joe Salmonellamayonaisemanese pulls in a salary of several hundred grand. What have we gotten out of this bloated carcass? Not a thing worth mentioning and every now and then, they eagerly sell trans people up the river. Seriously, this is an organization that hordes money and does nothing useful. It’s a sad, sick dinosaur.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC violence against the LGBT community is on the rise; DC’s only LGBT center is forced to go hat in hand to real estate developers and beg for space, only to face eviction a few years down the road; We lack a homeless shelter for queer youth and services for our community are the victims of budget cuts. Can you think of something better to do with a few million dollars?

(Did you know that 50 million dollars can buy about 300 thousand pounds of glitter?)

Everyone: We know you mean well, but stop giving these idiots your money. Stop putting that equal sticker on your car. Stop going to their lame galas. And for the love of Judy Garland’s Ghost and Robert Mapplethorpe’s Zombie Bones, stop saying “It Gets Better” and hoping for a miracle from up on high. We don’t expect you to riot (although we swear you’ll love it once you get going!) but it’s time for us to quit with the passivity, move to action, build community and care for each other instead of hoping the Gay Non-Profit Industrial Complex will ever get anything done.

Sincerely,

THE RIGHT HONORABLE WICKED STEPMOTHERS’ TRAVELING, DRINKING AND DEBATING SOCIETY AND MEN’S AUXILIARY

The group posted a copy of their press release here.

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Virginia

Man who killed one in 2000 Roanoke gay bar shooting dies in prison

One of the worst bias attacks targeting LGBTQ community

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Ronald Edward Gay died while serving life sentences for attacking a Virginia gay bar. (Washington Blade clipping from Sept. 29, 2000)

A man sentenced to four consecutive life terms in prison for the September 2000 shooting at a gay bar in Roanoke, Va., in which one man lost his life and six others were wounded, died of natural causes on Jan. 15, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections told WSLA 10 TV News that Ronald Edward Gay died while being treated at a hospital near the Deerfield Correctional Center, a state prison where he had been living as an inmate. He was 75. 

Witnesses and law enforcement officials reported at the time of the shooting that a middle-aged man later identified as Gay arrived alone at Roanoke’s Backstreet Café, a popular gay bar, on the night of Sept. 22, 2000.

According to an account by an eyewitness to the incident who spoke last week with the Roanoke Times newspaper, after ordering a beer and standing next to the bar for a short time, Gay reached into the long trench coat he was wearing, pulled out a 9mm pistol, and fired a round “straight into the chest of 43-year-old Danny Overstreet, before opening fire on the rest of the bar.”

Overstreet, a beloved regular patron at the Backstreet Café, died at the scene of the shooting. Six others, who were wounded by bullets fired by Gay, later recovered, but they and many others who were present and witnessed the shooting were left emotionally scarred, the Roanoke Times reported.

In the weeks following the shooting, news media outlets, including the Washington Blade and the Washington Post, reported findings of an investigation by local police that Gay told police he went to Backstreet specifically to target gay people because he became bitter after years of being taunted and teased for his last name of “Gay.”

The Roanoke Times reported that, among other things, Gay told police “God told him to do it” and that he once wrote that there was an evil inside of him telling him “to shoot or have no rest.”

Gay later pleaded guilty to multiple charges against him, including murder. On July 23, 2001, he was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences in prison for the shooting incident and the murder of Overstreet.

The Backstreet incident in Roanoke was considered by LGBTQ rights advocates and others to be one of the worst incidents in which LGBTQ people were targeted for a shooting until the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in which 49 people died and 53 more were wounded in a mass shooting by 29-year-old Omar Mateen.

Mateen, who was shot and killed by Orlando police after a three-hour standoff, told police in a phone call from inside the nightclub after the shooting began that he swore allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and his attack against the gay nightclub was motivated by the U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Syria. The FBI later classified the incident as a terrorist attack.

The Roanoke Times reported that the shooting incident at Backstreet Café prompted LGBTQ residents and allies to gather in the days and weeks after the incident for vigils and marches. About 1,000 people walked through the streets of downtown Roanoke to honor the life of Overstreet and to urge Congress to pass federal hate crimes legislation, the newspaper reported.

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Local

Va. senator introduces anti-transgender student athlete bill

Democrats have vowed to thwart anti-LGBTQ measures in state Senate

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transgender, Gender Conference East, trans, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban transgender students from joining school sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 766, which state Sen. Jennifer Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) introduced on Friday, would require “each elementary or secondary school or a private school that competes in sponsored athletic events against such public schools to designate athletic teams, whether a school athletic team or an intramural team sponsored by such school, based on biological sex as follows: (i) ‘males,’ ‘men,’ or ‘boys’; (ii) ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’; or (iii) ‘coed’ or ‘mixed.'”

“Under the bill, male students are not permitted to participate on any school athletic team or squad designated for ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’; however, this provision does not apply to physical education classes at schools,” adds the bill. “The bill provides civil penalties for students and schools that suffer harm as a result of a violation of the bill. Such civil actions are required to be initiated within two years after the harm occurred.”

Kiggans introduced her bill less than a week after Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office.

Youngkin during his campaign said he does not support allowing trans children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity. Elizabeth Schultz, an anti-LGBTQ former member of the Fairfax County School Board, has been named the Virginia Department of Education’s Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Jan. 12 with Republicans in control of the state House of Delegates. Democrats still control the state Senate, and they have pledged to thwart any anti-LGBTQ bills.

“Let’s be clear: This is part of an ongoing, nationwide effort to exclude trans people from enjoying the benefits of sports like their cisgender peers,” tweeted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia on Friday after Kiggans introduced SB 766. “We won’t tolerate this.”

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Comings & Goings

Hazen inducted into Cooperative Hall of Fame

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Paul Hazen

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected] 

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Congratulations to Paul Hazen on his being inducted into the 2022 Cooperative Hall of Fame.  On receiving the honor, he said, “I am very lucky to be given the opportunity to combine my work in international development with my volunteer cooperative development work in Washington DC.”

Hazen is executive director, U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC) and has devoted his career to elevating the cooperative voice domestically and internationally. U.S. co-ops include Ace Hardware, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Sunkist, REI and the Associated Press. Hazen helped establish federal legislation promoting rural co-op development.  

Prior to joining OCDC, he was CEO of Washington, D.C.-based National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International. During his 25-year tenure with the organization, he held key positions, including chief operating officer, vice president of public policy, vice president of member services and director of consumer cooperatives.

He worked for Rep. Al Baldus (Wisc.). He was executive director of Rural Housing Inc. in Madison, Wisc., where he developed co-ops and affordable housing projects in rural communities. 

As a volunteer, Hazen formed the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) with 12 congregations in D.C.  In 2020, CPA secured more than $18.7 million in contracts resulting in an investment of $13 million in D.C.-based small businesses owned by people of color.

Ben Finzel

Congratulations also to Ben Finzel, who was inducted into the National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame. Upon receiving the honor, he said “To be recognized by your peers is wonderful; to be honored by them is amazing. I still can’t quite believe I have done enough to be worthy of this recognition, but I know enough to be thankful and appreciative of this high honor. Thank you PRSA National Capital Chapter for including me in such inspiring company; I will be forever grateful.”

Finzel is president of RENEWPR, a D.C.-based public affairs, communications consulting firm. In 2004, he helped launch FH Out Front, the first global LGBTQ communications practice at an international firm, Fleishman Hillard, and served as its first global chair. He started DC Family Communicators, a professional networking group for LGBTQ communications professionals. Finzel served on the Victory Campaign Board of the LGBTQ Victory Fund from 2007 to 2017.

His firm is currently celebrating its seventh year in business. To recognize that accomplishment, Finzel is launching an endowed scholarship at his alma mater, Texas Tech University. His business is certified as an LGBT Business Enterprise by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

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