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‘Tis the season

DC Center, HRC and Victory Fund plan fall galas in coming days

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Pink, left, and Bette Midler at last year's HRC dinner. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

This week’s social and political scene is busy with three events coming up honoring a diverse group of people.

The D.C. Center is having its annual fall reception tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Sofitel (806 15th St., N.W.). The reception will serve to reflect on the Center’s work over the past year as well as honor those who have made outstanding contributions to the LGBT community. This year’s honorees are Rick Rosendall, Sheila Alexander-Reid, Frank Kameny and Earline Budd.

“This is a larger event than we’ve done in the past,” said David Mariner, the Center’s director. “It’s the first time we’ve done the event in a hotel …we’re going as an organization and that makes sense.”

Mariner thinks the event will be even bigger next year, as it will be the Center’s 10th anniversary. Tickets are $75 for individuals, $200 for host committee and $45 for students and seniors. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit thedccenter.org.

HRC holds its 15th annual national dinner at the Washington Convention Center on Saturday night.

President Barack Obama will make his second appearance as president at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, and will deliver the keynote address. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be presented with the National Ally for Equality Award for his advocacy on marriage equality in New York State.

“This has been a remarkable year in the fight for LGBT equality,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We’re thrilled to be joined by national leaders and inspiring artists as we celebrate our victories and redouble our efforts for the fights that remain ahead.”

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who is running for the U.S. Senate, will also be a featured speaker.

Entertainment will be provided by Cyndi Lauper and Greyson Chance, who is the first artist to be signed to Ellen DeGeneres’ record label, eleveneleven. Pop singer Mika will also give a full concert for the event’s after-party. For more information, visit hrcnationaldinner.org.

And the Victory Fund’s 11th annual Gay and Lesbian Leadership Awards are Wednesday at 101 Constitution Rooftop (101 Constitution Ave., N.W.). This year’s honorees are Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who was at the center of the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), vice-chair of the House LGBT Equality Caucus.

“Just as we need more openly LGBT members of Congress who can speak authentically about their lives, we also need more straight allies who see the value in removing barriers for LGBT Americans,” said Denis Dison, vice president of communications. “Lawmakers like Sen. Collins and Congressman Ellison deserve to be recognized for standing up and speaking out for a freer and fairer country.”

The event begins with a VIP reception starting at 6 p.m. and the program beginning at 6:30 p.m. Individual tickets are $150 and can be purchased online at victoryfund.org.

 

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Out & About

DC Center to host estate planning seminar series

Three sessions presented by Murray Scheel

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The DC Center hosts a series of talks on end-of-life planning next week.

The DC Center for the LGBT Community and the DC Department on Aging and Community Living will host “Estate Planning Tools with Murray Scheel” via Zoom. 

Scheel will walk guests through the process of taking care of the end-of-life planning business that needs to be addressed during the golden years. Scheel is Senior Staff Attorney at Whitman-Walker Health’s Legal Services.

This event series will consist of three 1.5-hour sessions:

Jan. 19, 3 p.m. – “Tools for while you’re living” (overview, general power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, disposition of remains, etc.)

Jan. 26, 3 p.m. – “Tools for after you’re gone” (living wills, last wills, assets, etc.)

Feb. 2, 3 p.m. – “Healthcare insurance & long term care” (Medicare, Medicaid, correcting misinformation, skilled nursing, hospice care, etc.)

To register for this event, visit the DC Center website.

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Out & About

DC Center to host legal seminar for trans people

Attorney Richard Tappan and paralegal Miranda Shipman to give legal advice

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The DC Center for the LGBT Community will host a “Gender and Name Change Legal Seminar” on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. online. 

Attorney Richard Tappan and paralegal Miranda Shipman will give legal advice and speak on the importance of the legal community within the LGBTQ community, the difficulties of the LGBTQ community in the legal field and name and gender changes. 

Guests can find the link at the DC Center website.

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Books

Seeking love and community in Nicaragua

‘High-Risk Homosexual’ explores author’s youth, coming out

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(Book cover image courtesy of Soft Skill Press)

High-Risk Homosexual: A Memoir
By Edgar Gomez
c.2022, Soft Skull Press
$16.95/304 pages

Here. Try this.

It fits you, but the color isn’t flattering. It’s too long, too short, too tight, too loose. That’s not your style, so try something else until you find the thing that looks like you. The perfect thing is out there. As in the new book “High-Risk Homosexual” by Edgar Gomez, when something’s right, it’s right.

He was 13 when he figured out that he was a problem to be solved.

Edgar Gomez’ mother had left him in her native Nicaragua with his tíos, just for a while because she had to return to Florida to work. He wasn’t there without her for long, but it took years for him to understand that his time with his uncles was meant to make him more masculine.

In retrospect, he says, nobody wanted him to be a man more than he did. He wanted to be liked by other kids and so he told lies in school to make himself stand out. He wanted his mother to see his love of pretty things and say that it was OK. He wanted his brother to acknowledge that Gomez was gay, and to tell him that he loved him.

Instead, after his brother left for college, Gomez got his first boyfriend, a boy he came out to but who couldn’t come out to himself. He was called names in school. He came out to his mother, who freaked out about it. He befriended a drag queen, but “Princess” used him.

Things he wanted: a real boyfriend. Love. A ban on the stereotype of a macho Latinx man.

Things he still had, while in college: his mother and older brother. A tormentor-turned-mentor. A part-time job. His weirdness. His virginity.

Things he wanted to lose, while in college: his room at his mother’s house. His virginity, but that wouldn’t happen until later, during a painful one-afternoon-stand with a hot man who said he had a girlfriend. That hurt, both physically and emotionally but like so many things at so many times, Gomez tried not to think about it.

If he never considered what he didn’t have, he says, “I wouldn’t miss it.”

In a way, you could say that “High-Risk Homosexual” is a book in search of a point. It’s really quite random and told (mostly) linearly, but not quite. It has its peaks, but also low valleys. And you won’t care about any of this, because you’ll be enjoying every bit of it.

Yeah, this memoir is good: author Edgar Gomez’s literary wandering makes it feel much like an honest conversation with readers. There are wince-worthy moments that allow empathy here, and experiences that are unique but oddly ubiquitous, that leave space for a sense of sympatico. There are passages that are so wistfully uncomfortable that you might squirm, or start “snort-laughing,” or want to stop a moment and just think.

And there’s room for that, too, so take your time. “High-Risk Homosexual” is an affable book with just enough seriousness to make it worth a try.

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