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Miscellaneous

Best Of winners database

Every winner since the inception of the Blade readers’ poll in 2001

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2001

Best brunch
Readers — Gabriel
Editors — Perry’s

Best overall dining
Readers — Annie’s
Editors — Mimi’s American Bistro

Best dessert
Readers — Marvelous Market
Editors — Sweetlicks Ice Cream Shoppe and Cafe

Best value
Readers — Trio
Editors — El Tamarindo

Most romantic
Readers — Two Quail
Editors — The Inn at Little Washington

Most trendy
Readers — Laurio Plaza
Editors — Thaiphoon

Tried and true
Readers — Cafe Luna
Editors — Duplex Diner

Best dance club
Readers — Nation
Editors — Badlands

Best country bar
Readers — Remington’s
Editor’s — Sheridan’s 1874 Old West Steakhouse

Best lesbian bar
Readers — Hung Jury
Editors — Phase 1

Best neighborhood pub
Readers — Townhouse Tavern
Editors — Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill

Best happy hour
Readers — JR’s
Editors — Hamburger Mary’s/Titan

Best leather bar
Readers/editors — D.C. Eagle

Best drag show
Readers — Ziegfeld’s
Editors — Feygele Feud

Most interesting crowd
Readers — JR’s
Editors — Club Chaos

Best place to meet people
Readers — JR’s
Editors — The Fireplace

Best DJ
Readers — Michelle Miruski
Editors — Scott Henry

Best bartender
Readers — J.J. Engbert (Annie’s)
Editors — Andreas Ocando (Omega)

Best drag queen
Readers — Lena Lett
Editors — Xavier Onasis Bloomingdale

Best drag king
Readers — Hunter
Editors — Ken Las Vegas

Local hero male
Readers — Frank Kameny
Editors — Phil Pannell

Local hero female
Readers — Annie Kaylor
Editors — Susan Hester

Up and coming local businessperson
Readers — Peter Alexas (Annie’s)
Editors — Rocky Scott (Rocky’s Cafe)

Dynamic couple
Readers — Elizabeth Birch and Hilary Rosen
Editors — Steve Gunderson and Rob Morris

Committed activist — female
Readers — Kathleen DeBold
Editors — Cheryl Spector

Committed activist — male
Readers — Wayne Turner
Editors — Carl Schmid

Best coffeeshop
Readers — Xando Cosi
Editors — Soho Coffee and Tea

Best gym
Readers — Results
Editors — The Fitness Company

Best bookstore
Readers — Lambda Rising
Editors — Kramerbooks & Afterwords
Honorable mention — Sisterspace and Books

Best video store
Readers — Washington Video
Editors — Video Americain

Best art gallery
Readers — Corcoran Gallery of Art
Editors — Kitchen

Best clothing store
Readers — universal Gear
Editors — The Leather Rack

Best theater
Readers — Studio Theatre
Editors — Source Theatre Company

Local artist
Readers — Nicolas Shi
Editors — Sonda Tamarr Allen

Local musician
Readers — Mary Chapin Carpenter
Editors — Arthur Loves Plastic

2002

Best brunch
Readers— Gabriel
Editors — Perry’s

Best overall
Readers — Annie’s
Editor’s — Mercury Grill

Best dining value
Readers — Hamburger Mary’s
Editors — Pepper’s

Most romantic
Readers — Two Quail

Best trendy
Readers — Foodbar DC
Editors — Thaiphoon

Tried and true
Readers — Lauriol Plaza
Editors — Duplex Diner

Best late night
Readers — The Diner

Best dessert
Readers — Afterwards

Virginia restaurant
Readers — Freddie’s Beach Bar

Maryland restaurant
Readers — Cheesecake Factory

Best dance club
Readers — Nation
Editors — Badlands

Best country bar
Readers — Remington’s
Editors — Sheridan’s 1874 Old West Steakhouse

Best neighborhood bar
Readers — JR’s
Editors — Polly’s Cafe

Best lesbian bar
Readers — Phase 1

Best leather bar
Readers — D.C. Eagle

Best happy hour
Readers — JR’s

Best drag show
Readers — Ester Goldberg’s Big Show
Editors — Ella Fitzgerald and the Ladies of Illusion at Zeigfeld’s

Most interesting crowd
Readers/Editors — Lizard Lounge

Best place to meet men
Readers — Cobalt
Editors — 30 Degrees

Best place to meet women
Readers — Liquid Ladies

Best live music
Readers — 9:30 Club
Editors — The Black Cat

Best gimmick
Readers — Feygele Feud at JR’s
Editors — Shirtless Thursdays at Green Lantern

Best Virginia bar
Readers — Freddie’s

Best Maryland bar
Readers — The Hippo

Best theater
Readers — Studio Theatre
Editors — Cherry Red

Best art gallery
Readers — The Phillips Collection

Local hero male
Readers — David Catania
Editors — Brett Parsons

Local hero female
Readers — Eleanor Holmes NOrton
Editors — Carlene Cheatam

Committed activist: male
Readers — Blake Humphreys
Editors — Rick Rosendall

Committed activist
Readers — Kathleen DeBold
Editors — Ellen Kahn

Best drag queen
Readers — Lena Lett
Editors — Aubrey

Best DJ
Readers — Wess
Editors — DJ Kostas

Best bartender
Readers — Reggie Tyson (Nation)
Editors — Mike Ferens (Badlands)

Best drag king
Readers/editors — Ken Las Vegas

Best committed transgender activist
Readers pick — Earline Budd
Editors — Riki Wilchins

Best coffee shop
Readers — Xando/Cosi
Editors — Sparky’s Cafe

Best gym
Readers — Results (Dupont Circle)
Editors — Results (Capitol Hill)

Best bookstore
Readers — Lambda Rising
Editors — Kramerbooks & Afterwords

Best video store
Readers — Empire Video

Best clothing store
Readers — Abercrombie & Fitch
Editors — Universal Gear

Best music store
Readers — Melody Music
Editors — DCCD

Most effective non-profit
Readers — Whitman-Walker Clinic
Editors — The Mautner Project

Best spot to cruise
Readers — Dupont Circle
Editors — Whole Foods

2003

Best overall restaurant
Readers — Lauriol Plaza
Editors — 15 RIA

Brunch
Readers/editors — Perry’s

Dessert
Readers — Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
Editors — Cake Love/Love Cafe

Value
Readers — Duplex
Editors — Mr. Henry’s

Most romantic
Readers — Two Quail
Editors — Russia House

Most trendy
Readers — Health Bar
Editors — Helix Lounge

Best late night
Readers/editors — The Diner

Pizza
Readers/editors — Pizzeria Paradiso

Tried and true
Readers/editors — Annie’s

Dance club
Readers/editors — Velvet Nation

Country bar
Readers/editors — Remington’s

Lesbian bar
Readers/editors — Phase 1

Neighborhood pub
Readers — JR’s
Editors — Polly’s Cafe

Happy hour
Readers — JR’s
Editors — 30 Degrees

Leather
Readers/editors — D.C. Eagle

Drag show
Readers/editors — Ziegfeld’s

Most interesting crowd
Readers/editors — Lizard Lounge

Best place to meet men
Readers — Cobalt
Editors — Green Lantern

Best place to meet women
Readers — Mautner Project dinner
Editors — Between Friends

Live music
Readers/editors — 9:30 Club

Special night
Readers/editors — Club Five “Mass”

Maryland bar
Readers — The Hippo
Editors — Grand Central

Virginia bar
Readers/editors — Freddie’s Beach Bar

DJ
Readers — Rob Harris
Editors — Ed Bailey

Bartender
Readers/editors — Mike Izeta (JR’s)

Drag king
Readers/editors — Ken Las Vegas

Drag queen
Readers — Aubrey
Editors — Ella Fitzgerald

Local hero male
Readers — Frank Kameny
Editors — Paul Smith

Local hero female
Readers — Eleanor Holmes Norton
Editors — Esther Katzman

Businessperson
Readers — Richard Zapata
Editors — Ron Henderson

Dynamic couple
Readers/editors — Deb Price and Joyce Murdoch

Committed activist
Readers — Wayne Turner
Editors — Mark Meinke

Committed activist female
Readers/editors — Elizabeth Birch

Committed transgender activist
Readers — Jessica Xavier
Editors — Mara Keisling

Straight ally male
Readers — Mayor Anthony Williams
Editors — Rev. John Bryson Chane

Straight ally female
Readers/editors — Carol Schwartz

Coffeeshop
Readers — Caribou
Editors — Sparky’s Espresso Cafe

Gym
Readers/editors — Results

Bookstore
Readers/editors — Lambda Rising

Video store
Readers — Empire Video
Editors — Video Americain

Music store
Readers/editors — Melody Record Shop

Clothing store
Readers — Universal Gear
Editors — Pop

Non-profit
Readers — Food & Friends
Editors — The Mautner Project

Spot to cruise
Readers — Dupont Circle
Editors — Whole Foods

House of worship
Readers — Metropolitan Community Church of Washington
Editors — National City Christian Church

College or university
Readers — George Washington University
Editors — American University

Art gallery
Readers — Phillips Collection
Editors — Art-O-Matic

Movie theater
Readers — Loew’s Georgetown 14
Editors — Landmark Bethesda Row

Theater
Readers/Editors — Shakespeare Theatre

Theater company
Readers/editors — Cherry Red

Artist
Readers — Nicholas Shi
Editors — Gordon Binder

Musician
Readers/editors — Outskirts of Town

2004

Best overall restaurant
Readers — Lauriol Plaza
Editors — David Greggory Restau Lounge

Brunch
Readers — Gabriel
Editors — Cashion’s Eat Place

Ethnic
Readers — Thaiphoon
Editors — White Tiger

Vegetarian
Readers/editors — Vegetable Garden

Best value
Readers — Chipotle
Editors — The Cafe Menu at Palena’s

Dessert
Readers — Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
Editors — Cold Stone Creamery

Most trendy
Readers — Komi
Editors — Firefly

Late night
Readers — Annie’s
Editors — Sette Osteria

Best new restaurant
Readers — Rice
Editors — Palette

Tried and true
Readers — Annie’s
Editors — Duplex Diner

Most romantic
Readers — Two Quail
Editors — Obelisk

Best dance club
Readers — Velvet Nation
Editors — Cobalt

Best lesbian bar
Readers/editors — Phase 1

Best lesbian night
Readers — Liquid Ladies
Editors — Merge

Neighborhood pub
Readers — JR’s
Editors — Duplex Diner

Happy hour
Readers — JR’s
Editors — Helix

Best drag show
Readers — Ziegfeld’s
Editors — Chaos

Best place to meet men
Readers — JR’s
Editors — Apex

Best place to meet women
Readers/editors — Liquid Ladies

Most interesting/diverse crowd
Readers/editors — Lizard Lounge

Best special night/party
Readers — Excursion Tea Dance
Editors — Taint

Best Maryland or Virginia bar
Readers — Freddie’s Beach Bar
Editors — The Hippo

Best new bar/club
Readers/editors — Halo

Local non-profit
Readers — Whitman-Walker Clinic
Editors — Equality Fairfax

Bookstore
Readers — Lambda Rising
Editors — Candida’s World of Books

House of worship
Readers — Foundry United Methodist
Editors — Bet Mishpachah

Theater
Readers — Signature Theatre
Editors — Arena Stage

Coffeeshop
Readers — Caribou
Editors — Sparky’s

Gym
Readers — Results
Editors — Body Smith

Video store
Readers — Empire Video
Editors — Netflix

Clothing store
Readers — Universal Gear
Editors — Commander Salamander

Movie theater
Readers — Loews Georgetown 14
Editors — Landmark E Street Cinema

Music store
Readers/editors — Melody Record Shop

Best spot to cruise
Readers — 17th Street
Editors — Whole Foods

Local hero male
Readers — David Catania
Editors — Adrien Alstad

Local hero female
Readers — Cheryl Jacques
Editors — Janet Miller-Jenkins

Best straight ally
Readers — Carol Schwartz
Editors — Sam Brooks

Drag performer
Readers — Cookie Buffet
Editors — Ella Fitzgerald

Local businessperson
Readers — Eric Hirschfield
Editors — Ron Henderson

Best DJ
Readers — Rob Harris
Editors — DJ Wess

Best bartender
Readers — Mike Izeta (JR’s)
Editors — Darren Phillips (Logan Tavern/Lizard Lounge)

2005

Best new restaurant
Readers: Merkado Kitchen
Editors: Hank’s Oyster Bar

Most romantic
Readers: Two Quail
Editors: Grill from Ipanema

Best Vegetarian
Readers: Mark’s Kitchen
Editors: Great Sage

Best ethnic
Readers: Rice
Editors: W Domku Bar & Cafe

Best brunch
Readers: Annie’s
Editors: Logan Tavern

Best dessert
Readers: Kingsbury Chocolates
Editors: Kramerbooks

Tried and true
Readers: Annie’s
Editors: Duplex

Best value
Readers: Lauriol Plaza
Editors: Coppi’s

Best late night
Readers: The Diner
Editors: Annie’s

Best dance club
Readers: Apex
Editors: Velvet Nation

Best lesbian bar
Readers/editors: Phase 1

Best lesbian night
Readers: Chaos Wednesdays
Editors: A Different Kind of Ladies Night

Neighborhood pub
Readers: JR’s
Editors: Duplex Diner

Happy hour
Readers: Halo
Editors: 30 Degrees

Drag show
Readers: Ziegfeld’s
Editors: D.C. Kings

Place to meet men
Readers: Cobalt
Editors: D.C. Eagle

Place to meet women
Readers: Mautner Project Gala
Editors: Liquid Ladies

Most interesting/diverse crowd
Readers: Halo
Editors: Fuego

Best special night/party
Readers: Cobalt’s flashback
Editors: Taint

Best suburban bar
Readers: Freddie’s
Editors: De Lounge

Best DJ
Readers: Jason Royce
Editors: Rob Harris

Local male hero
Readers: Robert York
Editors: Phil Pannell

Local female hero
Readers: Kathleen DeBold
Editors: Wanda Alston (posthumous)

Straight ally
Readers: Adrian Fenty
Editors: Revs. Dennis and Christine Wiley (Covenant Baptist Church)

Best bartender
Readers/editors: Mike Harrington

Local businessperson
Readers: Rob Kingsbury
Editors: Mike Weber

Drag performer
Readers/editors: Ella Fitzgerald

Best non-profit/activist group
Readers: Mautner Project
Editors: Equality Maryland

House of worship
Readers: MCC-DC
Editors: Unity of Washington

Best movie theater
Readers: Landmark E Street
Editors: AFI Silver

Best theater
Readers: Studio Theatre
Editors: Shakespeare Theatre Co.

Coffeeshop
Readers: Caribou
Editors: Sparky’s Cafe

Best gym
Readers: Results
Editors: Bodysmith Personal Training

Clothing store
Readers: Universal Gear
Editors: Pop

Bookstore
Readers: Lambda Rising
Editors: Candida’s World of Books

Music shop
Readers/editors: Melody Records

Best video store
Readers: The Video Rack
Editors
Video Americain

Best spot to cruise
Readers: Dupont Circle
Editors: 14th Street

2006

Best new restaurant
Busboys and Poets

Most romantic
Two Quail

Best brunch
Shi-Queeta’s Illusion Champagne Brunch at Onyx

Best vegetarian
Asylum

Best dessert
Afterward’s Cafe

Best late night
Annie’s

Best ethnic
Thai Tanic

Tried and true
Annie’s

Best pizza
2 Amy’s

Best dance club
Apex

Best drag show
Bachelor’s Mill

Best lesbian bar
Phase 1

Best Maryland bar
The Hippo

Best Virginia bar
Freddie’s Beach Bar

Best place to meet women:
A Different Kind of Ladies Night

Best neighborhood bar
Best place to meet men
Best happy hour
Halo

Best women’s clothing store
Meeps

Best spa
The Grooming Lounge

Best place to take a first date
L’Enfant Cafe

Best hair salon
Bang

Best gym
Results

Best day trip
Great Falls

Best home decorating store
Go Mama Go!

Best men’s clothing store
Universal Gear

Best bookstore
Lambda Rising

Best house of worship
MCC-DC

Best cruise spot
Dupont Circle

Best video store
The Video Rack

Best live music venue
9:30 Club

Best place to take mom
The National Portrait Galler

Best non profit
HRC

Best music store
Melody Record Shop

Best theater company
Actors Theatre of Washington

Best movie theater
Landmark E Street

Local hero female
Darlene Nipper

Local hero male
Brett Parson

Best DJ
Jason Royce

Best bartender
Mike Harrington (Apex)

Straight ally
Carol Schwartz

Best businessperson
Mike Fine with Tax Masters

Best drag performer
Shi-Queeta-Lee

2007

Best new restaurant
Jack’s

Best vegetarian
Vegetate

Best Indian
Indique

Best dessert
Kramerbooks

Best brunch
Beacon Bar and Grill

Best late night
Best steakhouse
Annie’s

Best romantic
Two Quail

Best thai
Thai Tanic

Best wine list
Hank’s Oyster Bar

Best dance club
Apex

Best Virginia bar
Freddie’s Beach Bar

Best lesbian bar
Phase 1

Best happy hour
Best neighborhood bar
Best place to meet men
Halo

Best Maryland bar
The Hippo

Best karaoke
Mama’s Trailer Park at Remington’s

Best drag show
Chit’s The Bowled & the Beautiful

Best dance party
Best place to meet women
Girl Confidential

Best gay-friendly straight bar
Republic Gardens

Best theater company
Studio Theatre

Best social Club
BeBar

Best day trip
Tie: Rehoboth Beach/Philadelphia

Best live music venue
9:30 Club

Best place to take mom
The Kennedy Center

Best women’s clothing
H&M

Best bookstore
Lambda Rising

Best home decorating store
West Elm

Best gym
Results

Best local blog
DCist

Best coffee shop
Soho Tea and Coffee

Best sports team
Washington Renegades

Best non-profit
Food & Friends

Best neighborhood
Logan Circle

Best spa:
Skin: Cosmetic Dermatology of Georgetown

Best hair salon
Blondie’s Spa/Salon

Best house of worship
MCC-DC

Best men’s clothing store
Universal Gear

Best movie theater
Landmark’s E Street

Best drag queen
Queen Bambi

Best abs
Harold Sanco

Local female hero
Cheryl Spector

Best lesbian actress
Holly Twyford

Best gay actor
Will Gartshore

Best DJ
Jason Royce

Local hero
Best straight ally
Adrian Fenty

Best gay politician
David Catania

Best drag king
E-Clef

Best bartender
Brian Sparrow (Cobalt)

Best businessperson
Mike Fine (Tax Masters)

2008

Best bakery
Tie: Firehook/Cake Love

Best brunch
Best non-D.C. bar
Best date restaurant
Freddie’s Beach Bar

Best burger
Five Guys

Best new restaurant
Cork

Best dessert/sweet shop
Gerogetown Cupcake

Best food store
Whole Foods

Best Indian restaurant
Tandoori Nights

Best late night
Best steak dinner
Annie’s

Best Thai restaurant
Mai Thai

Best wine/liquor
Bin 66

Best dance club
Best place to meet men
Best dance party
Best drag show
Town Danceboutique

Best lesbian nightlife event/bar
Best place to meet women
Phase 1

Best happy hour
Halo

Best cocktail
Mojito at Halo

Best live music
9:30 Club

Best neighborhood bar
JR’s

Most welcoming straight bar
Jack’s

Best pet retail
PetSmart

Best home furnishings
Go Mama Go!

Best theater company
Ganymede Arts

Best gay actor
Jeffrey Johnson

Best cosmetic treatment facility/spa
Skin Cosmetic Dermatology of Georgetown

Best sports team
Washington Renegades

Best hotel
Hotel Palomar

Best social club
Tie: The Academy of Washington/Capital Area Rainbowlers Association

Best art gallery
National Gallery of Art

Best auto retailer
Saturn of Alexandria

Best clothing store
Universal Gear

Best bookstore
Lambda Rising

Best local blog
DCist

Best movie theater
Landmark E Street

Best museum
Newseum

Best nearby getaway
Rehoboth Beach

Best non profit
Food & Friends

Best vet
Colonial Animal Hospital

Best gym
Results

Best house of worship
MCC-DC

Best cleaning service
A Cleaning Service, Inc.

Best weekend getaway
Guest House at Lost River

Best lawn care company
Branches Tree Experts

Best drag king
Xavier Bottoms

Best drag queen
Blair Michaeils

Best personal trainer
Mike Everts at FIT

Best DJ
DJ Wess (Town)

Best real estate pro
Bryan Talbott at Esquire Federal City

Best business person
Michael Fine at Tax Masters

Best local artist
Seroya

Local hero female
Carol Schwartz

Best hairstylist
Bryan Smith (Blondie’s)

Local hero male
Ed Bailey

Best straight ally
Jack Evans

Best bartender
Kymmr Barker (Freddie’s Beach Bar)

2009

Best dessert/sweets shop
Cake Love

Best hotel bar
Point of View at the W Hotel

Best new restaurant
Level One

Best brunch
Beacon Bar & Grill

Best wine bar
Cork

Best late night
The Diner

Best date restaurant
The Melting Pot

Best vegetarian
Vegetate

Best specialty cocktails
Halo

Best dance club
Town

Most gay-friendly straight bar
Black Cat

Best out-of-the-District bar:
Freddie’s Beach Bar

Best happy hour
JR’s

Best neighborhood bar/place to meet men
Nellie’s

Best place to meet women:
Phase 1

Best drag show
Ziegfeld’s/Secrets

Best lesbian nightlife event
Bare at Cobalt

Best theater
Studio Theatre

Best bookstore
Kramerbooks

Best hotel
W Hotel

Best art gallery
National Portrait Gallery

Best museum
National Gallery of Art

Best non-profit
Whitman-Walker

Best social club
Burgundy Crescent

Best sports team
D.C. Aquatics Club

Best home furnishings
IKEA

Best live music venue
9:30 Club

Best food store
Trader Joe’s

Best weekend getaway
Hotel Rehoboth

Gest gym
VIDA

Best auto retailer
BMW of Arlington

Best pet retailer
Dogs by Day

Best vet
CityPaws

Best movie theater
Landmark E Street

Best wine/liquor store
Barrel House Liquors

Best house of worship
MCC-DC

Best local blog
DCist

Best cosmetic treatment/spa
Bang Salon

Best clothing store
H&M

Local hero male
Matt Bamford

Best hairstylist Patrick Guarniere

Local hero female
Eleanor Holmes Norton

Best bartender
Dylan Davis

Best straight ally
Brett Johnson

Best businessperson
Ed Bailey

Best drag king
Xavier Bottoms

Best personal trainer
Mike Everts at FIT

Best attorney
Glen Ackerman

Best local artist
Glenn Fry

Best real estate professional
Mark Rutstein

Best drag queen
Ella Fitzgerald

Best DJ
DJ Wess (Town)

Best actor
John Moletress

2010

Best vegetarian restaurant
The Reef

Best ethnic
Rice

Best dessert
Hello Cupcake

Best hotel bar
POV at the W Hotel

Best brunch
Level One

Best wine bar
Cork

Best plae for food & wifi
Busboys & Poets

Best chef
Allan Javery of Level One

Best date restaurant
Floriana

Best late night
Annie’s

Best dance club
Town

Best out-of-D.C. bar
Freddie’s Beach Bar

Best happy hour
Thursdays at JR’s

Best place to meet men
Cobalt

Best drag show
Ziegfeld’s

Best place to meet women
Phase 1

Best cocktail
Cucumber Ginger Martini (MOVA)

Best gay-friendly straight bar
Cafe St-Ex

Best live music
9:30 Club

Best neighborhood bar
Nellie’s

Best house of worship
MCC-DC

Best movie theater
Landmark E Street

Best home furnishings
Room and Board

Best bookstore
Kramerbooks

Best hotel
The Dupont Hotel

Best art gallery
Gallery planb

Best non-profit
Food & Friends

Best local blog
DCist

Best spa
Bliss

Best place to get married
Hillwood Estate

Best wedding registry
Crate & Barrel

Best clothing store
Universal Gear

Best gym
Vida Fitness

Best theater
Studio Theatre

Best weekend getaway
Rehoboth Beach

Local hero female
Lynda Carter

Local hero male
David Catania

Best drag king
E-Cleff

Best realtor
Mark Rutstein

Best DJ
Chord Bezerra

Best drag queen
Ba’Naka

Best businessperson
David Franco

Best personal trainer
Tyler Sullivan (Vida)

Best gay TV personality
Tie — Roby Chavez/Paul Wharton

Best actor
Jeffrey Johnson

Best straight ally
Phil Hicks

Best Secrets dancer
Christian

Best bartender
Kymmr Barker (Freddie’s)

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Miscellaneous

LGBTQ people: Canaries in a violent coal mine

We continue to be targets We continue to be targets of politically inspired attacks

Published

on

Did you read about the group of staid U.S. historians who just met privately with President Biden to warn him that U.S. democracy is teetering? They told him we’re closer to civil war and authoritarian rule than at any point in history since the 1860s.

Guess who knew that already? Queer people. Black people. Immigrants. Women. Politicians on the right are using us as punching bags, and violence is breaking out everywhere.

It’s not in our imaginations, and I’ll show you the data in just a minute to back that up. Then I’ll explain what that has to do with the breakdown of democracy.

But first, let’s meet some canaries.

Chuck Johnson and J.P. Singh recently told the Washington Blade a group of young men spotted them holding hands steps away from their D.C. home. As the couple was returning from an evening out, the group shouted that they were “faggots” and punched them both. The couple ran, but the men chased them down. They knocked Chuck to the ground, punching and kicking him.

Responding to J.P.’s 911 call, EMS rushed Chuck to the hospital where he was treated for a broken thumb and underwent surgery for a jaw broken in two places.

According to the Blade, another gay couple was attacked in D.C. under similar unprovoked circumstances on Aug. 7, chased down by random strangers who objected to them holding hands, then called them “monkeypox faggots,” knocking them to the ground, brutally punching and kicking them.

Jacob and Christian are also canaries.

They’re a gay couple who were attacked while standing at the end of Christian’s driveway in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah in July. A group of young men in a car spotted them hugging. They jumped out, yelling, “We don’t like gay people in our street.”

Christian tried to defend Jacob from violence by stepping in front of him. He ended up on the ground, beaten so badly he landed in the hospital diagnosed with brain swelling.

I interviewed Christian and his family earlier this month and learned that he often puts up with anti-gay slurs shouted at him in the street by random strangers.

Over the past week, nurses and doctors in Boston have received a barrage of hateful phone calls and text messages, including at least one bomb threat, inspired by anti-LGBTQ extremist Chaya Raichik of Brooklyn who tweets as Libs of Tiktok. Raichik objects to parents choosing gender-affirming care for transgender teens, and she objects to medical providers delivering that care. She used Twitter to unleash an army of Proud Boys and other haters.

Slate reporter and Harvard Law instructor Alejandra Caraballo tweeted this: “In the last 5 days, Libs of Tiktok has tweeted and retweeted 14 posts about Boston Children’s Hospital. As a result, BCH providers are being inundated in death threats and harassing calls and emails. It’s now affecting their services. This is stochastic terrorism, full stop.”

When I saw the tweet, I called a friend of mine who practices internal medicine at a different Boston hospital. As I asked him for a comment, he reminded me that we watched the 2016 election returns together at a bar in Detroit.

“I won’t say I told you so,” he said. “But I told you so.”

I remembered how fearful he became the night Donald Trump was elected. “I’m from Lebanon,” he reminded me, “and my last name broadcasts ‘Arab’ loud and clear. Trump is going to make my life hell, and since you’re a gay man, you’d better be as worried as I am.”

Libs of Tiktok is the tip of the iceberg on Twitter, where attacks against LGBTQ people are constant background noise, and where community standards meant to prohibit slurs and attacks are rarely enforced. Caraballo asks in her tweet thread, “When will Twitter do something about [Libs of TikTok] and their ability to rile up massive harassment campaigns against their targets? Last time it was Nazis at pride and drag events. This time it’s threatening pediatricians.”

According to a new study released on Aug. 10 by the Human Rights Campaign and the Center for Countering Digital Hate, “discriminatory and inflammatory “grooming” content surge by over 400% across social media platforms” in response to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law.

According to Christopher Kane writing in the Los Angeles Blade, major social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter are doing almost nothing to counter growing waves of anti-LGBTQ hate speech on their platforms. Both platforms claim their rules prohibit users from calling LGBTQ people pedophiles or groomers, but neither platform routinely removes such slurs, not even when users report the slurs.

According to Alexandra Martinez writing in Prism, anti-LGBTQ arson and frequent street attacks in New York City have left queer people this summer living with a gnawing feeling of unease.

It’s not just New York City. She notes that 2021 was the deadliest year on record for LGBTQ people in the U.S., and that violence rates are surging higher in 2022.

Remember Ricky Shiffer who was shot and killed after he tried to shoot up an Ohio FBI office? He was outraged that the FBI searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. He urged people to arm themselves and join him.

Did you know hatred of LGBTQ people is one of the reasons he supported Trump? Read this tweet, in an account deleted after his attack:

“We need to be ready for war against the communists who chemically nueter [sic] prebuscent [sic] children and call it gender transitioning, not bellyache about the arguments of 30 years ago. Save ammunition.”

Large majorities of Americans say they support LGBTQ equality. Large majorities of Americans say they believe our nation should stand for freedom and liberty for all, including for marginalized people. Large majorities of Americans support women’s reproductive freedom, support taking steps to lift up Black people, and support immigrant rights.

Large majorities of Americans want to live in a diverse, pluralistic society where everyone is free to pursue happiness and live in peace.

I wrote this column from the perspective of a queer person, but my Lebanese-American doctor friend could have written something similar from his immigrant perspective. My writer friend Allison Gaines could have written from the perspective of a Black woman.

We share a common fear: that politically and religiously conservative white men are working as hard as they can to sow fear of the Other for personal power and privilege. Men like Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and many more are plying the demagogue’s trade.

Leaders are spouting hate, seeking to establish or maintain minority rule, and historians are warning President Biden that they may very well succeed.

Chuck Johnson, J.P. Singh, Chad Sanford, Jacob Metcalf, Christian Peacock, and a score of nurses and doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital already know. They’ve been the targets of extreme violence in the past few weeks, directed by people using hatred of the Other to prop up their own privilege and power.

I opened this article by writing about the historians who told President Biden that we’re at a place we haven’t been since the 1860s. In the same meeting, they made a more frightening comparison.

They warned the president we’re at a very similar place to where Germany found itself in the 1930s when a demagogue took power by demonizing the Jews. They say a war like the one that destroyed Europe could repeat itself soon, only with the U.S. in the driver’s seat.

We worry the rest of you don’t see and hear the hatred directed against us. We worry that you’re too complacent. We don’t think you appreciate the gravity of the crisis facing our nation. We fear apathy will let the the Republican Party seize Congress and state governments this November, unleashing a process that could cement minority rule for generations.

Extremists in the Republican Party are already quietly taking over state election offices, something the Washington Post warned about last November.

Will Democratic voter turnout this November be overwhelming? Will it be enough to stop the assault on our teetering Democracy?

Only you can help make that happen. Will you?

(The preceding article was previously published by Prism & Pen– Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished by permission.)

James Finn is a columnist for the Los Angeles Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, and alumnus of Queer Nation and ACT UP. Reach him at [email protected].

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Celebrity News

Anne Heche dies after removal from life support

Actress dated Ellen DeGeneres in late 1990s

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(Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition)

Actress Anne Heche died after she was removed from life support on Sunday, nearly two weeks after her Mini-Cooper crashed through a two-story house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department believe she was intoxicated at the time.

She sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns and was being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, near Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

The 53-year-old actress who was a star of films like “Donnie Brasco,” the political satire “Wag the Dog” and the 1998 remake of “Psycho,” had been declared legally dead under California law on Friday, however, her family kept her alive long enough to be an organ donor.

In a statement Friday, the LAPD announced that: “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.” LAPD detectives had previously made public that investigators into the crash found narcotics in a blood sample taken from Heche.

The actress’s family released a statement on Friday:

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement added.

Heche was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son, Homer, together. She had another son, named Atlas, during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series “Men In Trees.”

Laffoon left a moving tribute on an Instagram reel in which he also gave an update on how their 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon is coping with the loss of his mother.

“I loved her and I miss her, and I’m always going to,” he said adding: “Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine. But he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong, and he’s gonna be okay.”

“Rest In Peace, Mom, I love you, Homer,” the actor’s 20-year-old son, Homer, said in a statement after Heche was declared legally dead on Friday.“ My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” read the statement. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

Tupper, a Canadian actor who starred alongside Heche in “Men in Trees,” had a 13-year-old son, Atlas, with her. “Love you forever,” Tupper, 57, wrote on his Instagram post’s caption with a broken heart emoji, which shared an image of the actress from Men in Trees.

Between 1997 and 2000, Heche was also in a relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“This is a sad day,” DeGeneres posted on Twitter. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.” The year after her break-up with the comedian, in September 2001, Heche recounted in her memoir “Call Me Crazy,” about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.

KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin noted that over the past two decades, Heche’s career pivoted several times. In 2017, she hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis called “Love and Heche.”

In 2020, Heche made her way into the podcast world. She launched “Better Together” which she cohosted alongside Heather Duffy Boylston. The show was described as a way to celebrate friendship. 

She also worked in smaller films, on Broadway, and on TV shows. She recently had recurring roles on the network series “Chicago P.D.,” and “All Rise” and was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”

People magazine reported that several of Heche’s acting projects are expected to be released posthumously.

These include “Girl in Room 13,” expected to be released on Lifetime in September, “What Remains,” scheduled to be released in 2023, and HBO Max TV series “The Idol,” created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.

In her Instagram post from earlier this year Heche stands between her sons Atlas, 13 and Homer, 20.

From KTLA:

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Celebrity News

‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

George Takei tweets ‘we lived long and prospered together’

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(Screenshot/YouTube The Smithsonian Channel)

She was a groundbreaking cultural icon who broke barriers in a time of societal upheaval and battling for the civil rights of Black Americans. An actress, a mother and thoroughly devoted to the legions of fans of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Nyota Uhura, has died at 89.

The announcement on her Facebook page by her son read:

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World

I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.

Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.

Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.

I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.

Live Long and Prosper,

Kyle Johnson

Nichols was born in Robbins, Ill., in 1932, according to her IMDb page. Legendary composer Duke Ellington “discovered” Nichols and helped her become a singer and dancer. She later turned to acting, and joined Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek,” where she played Uhura from 1966 to 1969.

Out actor George Takei who played ‘Sulu’ on Star Trek the original series with Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Nyota Uhura, at a Star Trek convention in this undated photo. (George Takei/Twitter)

It was in that role of Uhura that Nichols not only broke barriers between races, most famously her onscreen kiss, the first between a Black person and a white person, with castmate William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, but she also became a role model for young Black women and men inspiring them to seek out their own places in science, technology, and other human endeavors.

In numerous interviews over the years Nichols often recalled how the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a fan of the show and praised her role and personally encouraged her to stay with the series.

When the first series ended Nichols went on to become a spokesperson for NASA, where she “helped recruit and inspire a new generation of fearless astronauts.” She later reprised her role in several successful “Star Trek” films and continued to advocate for the advancement of Black Americans especially in the areas of science and technology.

Formerly a NASA deputy administrator, Frederick Gregory, now 81, told the Associated Press he once saw an advertisement in which Nichols said “I want you to apply for the NASA program.”

“She was talking to me,” he recounted. The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot.

President Joe Biden weighed in Sunday afternoon on her passing in a statement issued by the White House:

In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.
 
A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.
 
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.
 
Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.

Nichols son said that services will be private for family members and her closest friends.

In 2008 the actress at a news conference, coordinated by the filmmakers of the motion picture “TRU LOVED,” in honor of the more than 900 students at Los Angeles’ Miguel Contreras Learning Complex’s School of Social Justice who participated in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

Nichelle Nichols speaks on LGBTQ rights:

Her fellow castmate and life long friend, openly Out actor George Takei shared his sadness on hearing of Nichols’ passing on Twitter:

From the September 2016 edition of the Smithsonian Channel: “Star Trek’s decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1966. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.”

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols on Uhura’s Radical Impact:

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