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Queery: Kat Skiles

The lesbian web designer answers 20 gay questions

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Kat Skiles (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Kat Skiles is starting to get the sense that she’s stumbled into something. Her new website lezgettogether.com — she built if over the hurricane weekend — is doing healthy early traffic.

A free Facebook-esque site for D.C.-area lesbians, it’s earned about 160 members in its first month and is adding more daily.

“Everybody who’s seen it has been like, ‘Oh my gosh, yeah, we’ve needed this,'” Skiles says.

She got the idea after struggling to make friends upon moving to Washington herself in 2008. She says her first few years here were spent “looking desperately” for a diverse gathering space. She kept coming up dry.

“Facebook is awesome, bars and nightlife are great, but I think there really is a need for a specific, separate space where lesbians of all different ages and demographics can mingle,” she says.

And why is this so hard with D.C.’s strong LGBT population? Why doesn’t it seem to be a problem for gay men?

“I don’t know,” Skiles says. “It’s a good question and I’m sure there all kinds of great conversations to be had about that.”

The upstart costs have been minimal but she hopes to soon have it up and running on its own through ad sales. She didn’t conceive of it as a business venture but she would like it to be self sustaining. The first gathering is planned for Oct. 21. Members will meet at 6:30 at Solly’s Tavern for the inaugural “lesbian attack,” a monthly event where they’ll gather at a straight bar for the evening.

Skiles, a 26-year-old Salt Lake City native, is an online communications director for the U.S. House. She loves working on the Hill and has long been fascinated by politics. She’s also the communications director for the LGBT Congressional Staff Association.

Skiles studied religion and politics at Northern California’s Dominican University but came to D.C. for an internship in 2006 and “fell in love with it.”

Skiles is in a relationship and lives in Columbia Heights. She enjoys pick-up basketball, working out, Scrabble and American history. (Blade photos by Michael Key)

 

 

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

I don’t know that I ever really “came out.” Being gay was just this thing I started doing one day.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Tammy Baldwin.

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

Chi Cha Lounge on U Street. It is second to none.

Describe your dream wedding.

The Jefferson Memorial. It is going to happen.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Veterans issues are near and dear to my heart. Three generations of my family have fought in wars with the United States Army, most recently my brother in Iraq.

What historical outcome would you change?

The legal institution of slavery in the earliest years of American history.

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

The night Nancy Pelosi took the Speakership. I’m a big fan of firsts for women in general and I really admire Pelosi, but I also campaigned myself ragged that election cycle. I felt so a part of the victory. It was all very moving.

On what do you insist?

Standing up for what’s right, even if it is awkward.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I’ve been working really hard to get the word out aboutLezGetTogether.com and so I’ve posted the link all over Facebook and Twitter a million times. You probably should too. Go on… go on…

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

“The Girl Who Preferred Her Hoodie to An Umbrella”

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

I would join the Tea Party in declaring science a hoax. Actually, no. I would just declare science a hoax.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

My views about the non-physical world are rooted in staying focused on the here and now. I read this beautiful book a few years ago called “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” that sums it up pretty well. My favorite section says, “Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness — if you had little time left to live — you would waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you, you do have a terminal illness. It’s called birth. You don’t have more than a few years left. No one does! So be happy now, without reason or you will never be at all.”

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

As we continue advancing equality, it’s important to recognize the value of lending a hand to others along the way. Our LGBT family is a canvas of diversity and that means we have to fight in every instance of discrimination — men for women, whites for minorities, rich for poor and so on. We pick up ourselves when we pick up others.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

A Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. If that option were to become unavailable I’d go for a jar of Nutella and a spoon.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

I studied religion in college and grew up in a family of Irish Catholics so I have a particular irritation with those who mischaracterize the message of Christ and push forward with such ferocity that which is clearly hateful and discriminatory. I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on those folks though, because when Jesus sees that the gays aren’t pulling their weight in contributing to overpopulation and dogs start marrying bunnies, Armageddon is likely to ensue — or something like that.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Kissing Jessica Stein”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

That it’s impolite to speak about religion or politics. Great. Let’s just talk about the weather or what time the mail comes. Why would I want to hear about the values and ideas that most significantly shape who you are? This social custom seems a bit ridiculous.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I’d like to run for D.C. City Council.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

All that studying would actually pay off.

Why Washington?

I fell in love with this town a long time ago. I’ll grow old here.

 

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Sports

DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win

Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records

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The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Palm Springs, Calif. (Photo courtesy DCAC)

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) world championships in Palm Springs, Calif., in April on a mission to capture their first world title since 2013.

It was a long road back to international competition for the DCAC swimmers after the disruption of training and travel brought on by the worldwide pandemic.

When the team returned from IGLA in Melbourne, Australia in March of 2020, their training pools were closed, and all competitions were canceled.

By May they had established a training site in the South River in Annapolis where they swam until November of that year. Eventually, pools began to reopen, and the team was faced with battling for training time in COVID-restricted pools.

Following the postponement of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, the IGLA community scrambled to put together a competition in Palm Springs that would be hosted in tandem by West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions. 

DCAC’s swimmers in Palm Springs consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies ranging in age from 22 to 76 years old. Each swimmer was eligible to enter five individual events and three relay events.

With 67 teams in attendance, DCAC jumped out to an early lead on day one in the large team category with West Hollywood Aquatics and San Francisco Tsunami in close pursuit. 

Despite the disqualifications of two of their winning relays for early takeoffs, DCAC held on to their lead over the remaining three days to claim their first world title in nine years.

Three DCAC swimmers, Grant Casey, Carmen Robb and Jerry Frentsos, won gold in all five of their individual events. In total, the team won 125 gold, 66 silver and 35 bronze medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC team records.

Addison Winger was a first time IGLA swimmer and hadn’t competed in 12 years. He had heard the tales from past IGLAs and wanted to join in on the fun.

“It was a great experience to compete for DCAC at an international competition. I had never been in a championship meet before where you go through the process of tapering, shaving, and suiting up in tech gear,” says Winger. “The relays were amazing, and I enjoyed taking advice and feedback from our coaches to incorporate into future races. It was also great spending quality team with my teammates outside of the pool.”

Olivia Kisker had competed with DCAC at IGLA Melbourne in 2020 and was looking forward to traveling with her team again.

“Even though the days were long at the pool, we still had time for Joshua Tree, the gondolas and all that Palm Springs has to offer,” Kisker says. “I love traveling and doing it with your teammates provides a setting for bonding and getting to know people better. I also enjoyed competing against my teammate Sarah. It’s like a friendship and a rivalry.”

Craig Franz restarted his post-COVID competitive swimming at IGLA Palm Springs and went on to a training camp and open water race in Hawaii this past month.

“The whole thing about this team is relationships and sharing swimming as a common denominator. The swim competitions legitimize building relationships and supporting each other in healthy ways,” say Franz. “Palm Springs felt like a more relaxed setting, and we needed this meet to rebuild the team. It provided a nutritional base for what we are about – swimming and friendships.”

Sarah Padrutt had not competed since 2019 and all the talk about past IGLAs prompted her to attend for the first time.

“I had so much fun, and it was cool having people cheering and being supported by teammates,” Padrutt says. “It was also a nice wakeup call, a reminder of how much I like competing. I like the pressure of racing and being on relays with my team. It was a very positive experience.”

Charles Cockrell has been a Masters swimmer for decades and is the chair of the Legislation Committee for United States Masters Swimming. He came out in 2019 and these championships marked his first time competing at IGLA.

“I wanted to compete at a swim meet that was a combination of the LGBTQ community and the sport of swimming. It was a fun, accepting and engaging environment,” says Cockrell. “The takeaway was that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was nice to be gathered together in a queer space. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and it was great being attached to a big team like DCAC.”

Coming up next for DCAC is the United States Masters Swimming Nationals in Richmond in August. Next year, the team will travel to London for the 2023 IGLA world championships to be held in the London Olympic Pool.

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Out & About

10 LGBTQ events this week

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead

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From movie nights to dance parties, there is a lot to do in the region this week. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in D.C. that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.


MNSkating’s Pride Too!

Monday, June 27
7:30 p.m.
Laurel Skating Center
9890 Brewers Court
Laurel, Md.
Facebook | Meetup

Join the Monday Night Skaters for a Pride-themed skating party in Laurel, Md. on Monday.


Queen of the Capital at Adams Morgan Movie Nights

Tuesday, June 28
8-11 p.m.
Adams Morgan Soccer Field
Facebook

The Adams Morgan Partnership BID will be showing “Queen of the Capital” from local documentary maker Josh Davidsburg.


Pride Night at Frederick Keys

Wednesday, June 29
6-9 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium
21 Stadium Drive
Frederick, Md.
Facebook | Tickets

Join Pride on the Patio for a night of baseball as the Frederick Keys hold Pride Night sponsored by the Frederick Center.


LGBTQ Families Discussion & Beer Tasting

Wednesday, June 29
7-8 p.m.
Aslin Beer Company
847 South Pickett Street
Alexandria, Va.
Facebook | Tickets

Rainbow Families will have an informal discussion about such topics as coming out, celebrating your child’s identity, being a good ally in the workplace and more . . . followed by a beer tasting! No charge, but donations will be taken.


First Friday LGBTQ+ Social with GoGayDC

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
The Commentary (in the Westin)
801 North Glebe Road
Arlington, Va.
Facebook | Eventbrite

Join GoGayDC for a monthly social gathering in Ballston.


Drag Race All-Stars Viewing Party

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
JR.’s Bar
1519 17th Street, N.W.
Facebook

Get together with other Drag Race super fans for an evening viewing party hosted by Citrine.


Outdoor Movie Night

Friday, July 1
8:30-10:30 p.m.
Stead Park
1625 P Street, N.W.
Facebook

Bring your blanket and catch a movie on the big screen at Stead Park.


FireWerk with DJ Chord

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead

Friday, July 1
9 p.m.
AquaGrill Reho
57 Baltimore Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Facebook 

Kick off Independence Day weekend in Rehoboth with a no cover dance party at AquaGrill.


Zodiac Drag Contest

Zodiac Drag Contest (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Sunday, July 3
8 p.m.
Freddie’s Beach Bar
555 23rd Street S
Arlington, Va.
$5 cover
Facebook

The monthly amateur drag competition returns to Freddie’s on Sunday. Check out the new talent (or try it out yourself).


Flashy 4th of July Weekend

Sunday, July 3 – Monday, July 4
10 p.m.
Flash
645 Florida Aveune, N.W.
$30
Facebook | Eventbrite

Celebrate Independence Day with a Flashy 4th of July on the dance floor of Flash.


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Photos

PHOTOS: Loudoun Pride

LGBTQ community celebration held at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Va.

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Loudoun County, Va. elected officials gather on the main stage at Loudoun Pride on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The first Loudoun Pride was held at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Va. on Saturday, June 26.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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