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Queery: Garrett Peck

The local author and Prohibition expert answers 20 gay questions



Garrett Peck (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Author Garrett Peck had drastically different experiences writing his two Prohibition-themed books.

“The Prohibition Hangover: Alcohol in America from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet,” his 2009 work, took six years. He wrote it first, then found a publisher. But the follow-up, “Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren’t,” was done in six weeks and came out in March. Obviously he had a good running start on the topic from the first book, but it was still a mammoth undertaking.

“There’s nothing like a deadline to focus you,” he says. “This was around last Thanksgiving, so there went my Christmas, but I’m actually really happy with the way it turned out.”

Look for him Tuesday at the National Press Club for its annual “Book Fair and Authors’ Night” on Tuesday when he and about 90 other authors will sell and sign their latest books. It’s at 5:30 p.m. in the ballroom. Tickets are $5 at the door and the public is welcome.

And yes, Peck enjoys drinking himself. His favorites vary by season and the meal at hand. It good be whisky, a Manhattan or beer.

“I couldn’t pick a favorite,” he says. “It’s like asking for my favorite ice cream or favorite song. I like too many to choose a favorite.”

The 43-year-old Sacramento, Calif., native works as a market analyst for Verizon by day, though he’d love to write full time if possible. He says the publishing industry is in too much flux for that to be realistic. For now, he’s happy to “just keep getting published.”

He came to the area for grad school 17 years ago and stayed. Peck is single and lives in Arlington. He enjoys traveling, hiking, yoga and cooking in his free time.

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

I came out in 1995. My dad was the hardest to tell, being from the panhandle of Nebraska, but he took it pretty well. I had told the other members of my family first, so I knew where they all stood.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Larry Slagle. He’s a dear friend of mine, and he’s been out since the 1950s. He reminds me how important it is to maintain perspective — that there was once a time when being out could be hazardous to one’s career or life, and how far we’ve come in so short a time. The days when gays are fully inclusive in society truly cannot be far away — we will live to see it. It will be a great day.

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

I tend to like places that are quality drinking establishments, where they make the cocktails by hand rather than the soda gun, and where the music isn’t too loud to talk. I’m awfully fond of The Passenger in Mount Vernon, as well as Bar Pilar on 14th Street. Nightclubs aren’t so much my thing — I can’t seem to stay awake past 11. As for the most fun I’ve ever had at a nightspot, that was the short-lived event called “Bent,” which thrived for one year in 1996 at the Andalusian Dog at 14th and U. They played ’80s retro music, and when we danced, it felt like the floor would cave in.

Describe your dream wedding.

I honestly haven’t given this much thought. I’m single, and probably a little too comfortable with that status for my own good. So I don’t know…maybe something fun and frugal, like a weekend in Provincetown with close friends.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

History. I’ve got a long list of book topics I’d like to write, all historic non-fiction. I also lead this oddball historic tour called the Temperance Tour, which hits Prohibition-era sites in the nation’s capital. We go places that most Washingtonians have walked past but never really noticed. Did you know we have a Temperance Fountain, right at 7th & Penn? (

What historical outcome would you change?

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He’s my favorite president, and for a man who had only served as a one-term congressman, he turned out to be a remarkable wartime leader with a real vision for the country. He held the Union together against pro-slavery forces that wanted to tear it apart. I really wish he could have lived and seen through his vision for Reconstruction.

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

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. I had spent the year before in Germany at a German armed forces officers college in Hamburg. I had traveled a number of times to East Germany and seen how oppressive the communist regime was. That the wall would come down through nonviolent resistance was simply stunning. It was the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a miracle.

On what do you insist?

That we be see the humanity in all of God’s children, including people you don’t really like or would even consider an enemy. When was the last time you acknowledged a homeless person or offered them a kind word? Their lives may be broken, but they are no less valuable as people than you and me.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“Reading a book – one with pages. So anachronistic.”

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

“Throwing Spaghetti at a Wall: My Life as a Writer”

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

No way. And miss the off-chance that Ricky Martin might need a step-father for his children?!

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

Is there an afterlife? I hope, but who honestly knows? I’m Christian (I go to Foundry UMC), but am increasingly agnostic the more I learn about the actual origins of the church. … But I’ve seen enough things in my life that I can’t quite explain, and while I have doubts, I’m willing to let God have the benefit of my doubts. And yeah, I see a book about this in my future.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Don’t despair, whatever setbacks come our way. We’re going to win this.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Publishing books is akin to walking across hot coals. It’s not something you do overnight or over a month, but over years. It is a struggle. But it is oh so totally worth it.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That all of us have toy dogs like pugs and coddle them like children. Some of us actually have cats that we coddle like children.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot” was absolutely hilarious and way ahead of its time — and it took place during Prohibition. It’s one of those movies you watch and fall off the couch laughing. Jack Lemmon seemed to honestly enjoy being in drag.

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Tipping. It would be nice if service were included in the price, just like in Europe. It would also be nice if bartenders and waiters earned a living wage, healthcare and retirement benefits — most simply don’t, which is why it’s a job (rather than a career) for the young.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

The National Book Award, of course! (That’s like winning the Oscar for Best Picture.)

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That it’s OK to come out. That people will still love you and accept you for who you are. And as difficult and worrisome as the process can be, it has a huge impact on all around you. Coming out is like dropping a rock in a pond: the ripples will carry you forward through your entire life.

Why Washington?

I came here for grad school and fell in love with the city in a week. It’s a great place to have a career, the gay community is sizable and integrated into the larger society, and we have so much culture — much of it free. For us history dorks, it is ground zero. People are better educated here and have a greater awareness of our past than most other cities.



What it means to be an active ally to your LGBTQ+ co-workers TEST

Five easy tips to help you avoid common risks



Be sure to install baby gates if you have stairs in your home with young children. (Photo by Kasia Bialasiewicz/Bigstock)

Your home is more than just a place to eat and sleep; it’s your safe haven. As much as you might cherish your home, you should probably also recognize the potential hazards within its familiar walls. Accidents can happen in an instant, yet with a little foresight and some simple adjustments, you can transform your house into a safer haven. 

Accidents can happen anywhere, and with a few simple tweaks, you can lower risks in your space. Below you’ll find five tips for each room in your home to help prevent injuries, falls, and other mishaps. In short, home safety. 

This article was inspired by a shower in a rental we managed that began leaking through the kitchen ceiling below. If only the landlord had installed grab bars, right!? Below, we’ll guide you through the steps to fortify your bathroom, making it a place of relaxation without the fear of slips and falls. Then, we’ll venture into the room where the magic happens, where proper planning can ensure great nights and peaceful mornings. We’ll show you how to prevent accidents while you experiment becoming the next Gordon Ramsey. And we’ll include a few surprising solutions for those other rooms that hold their own unique hazards, offering solutions to safeguard against unexpected mishaps.

Bathroom Safety

Install Grab Bars: Adding grab bars near the shower and toilet can provide essential support for family members of all ages. Not only can they help with getting in and out, but they can help provide stability when washing. Make sure they are securely anchored to the wall.

Non-Slip Mats: Place non-slip mats inside the shower and bathtub to prevent slips. They’re a small investment that can save you from falls and head injuries.

Adjust Water Temperature:  Ensure your hot water is set to a safe temperature to avoid scalding. The hot water heater should be set to around 120°F (49°C)l, the middle setting on many water heater settings. 

Medicine Cabinet Locks: If you have young children, use childproof locks on your medicine cabinet to keep harmful substances out of reach.

Proper Lighting: Ensure there’s adequate lighting in the bathroom to avoid trips and falls during nighttime visits. Nightlights can be a simple and effective solution. 

Bedroom Safety

Clear Pathways: Keep pathways in the bedroom clutter free to prevent tripping. Ensure there’s enough space to move around comfortably, particularly getting around the bed.  Be aware where all furniture is when walking around to avoid stubbed toes, particularly at night.

Secure Rugs: If you have throw rugs, use rug grippers or double-sided tape to keep them from slipping. Loose rugs are a common trip hazard. 

Bed Rails: For anyone at risk of falling out of bed, consider installing bed rails to provide extra support and prevent falls.

Nightstands with Drawers: Opt for nightstands with drawers to keep essential items.  This reduces the need to get out of bed at night, minimizing the risk of falls, as you race to grab what you need and not lose a moment’s rest.

Fire Safety: Install battery-operated smoke detectors in the bedrooms if there are none. Make sure to install them 36 inches away from an air vent or the edge of a ceiling fan.  Also six inches away from the joint between the wall and ceiling.  And test smoke detectors regularly.

Kitchen Safety

Non-Slip Flooring: Choose slip-resistant rugs in the kitchen, especially in areas where spills are common. Mats near the sink and stove can also help and you can often buy them fairly cheaply at Costco.

Childproof Cabinets: If you have little ones, use childproof latches on cabinets and drawers to prevent them from accessing potentially hazardous items.

Anti-tip brackets: Install an anti-tip bracket behind the range. These are often used when children are in the home. Although they are less likely to open the oven door and use it as a step stool to get to the stove-top, adults can also benefit from installing these. 

Adequate Lighting: Proper lighting is crucial in the kitchen to avoid accidents. Under-cabinet lighting can illuminate work areas effectively.

Secure Heavy Items: Ensure heavy pots and pans are stored at waist level to prevent straining or dropping them from high shelves.

Sharp Object Storage: Keep knives and other sharp objects in a secure drawer or block. And handle all sharp items with extreme care, even when washing and drying. These steps reduce the risk of accidental cuts.  

Other Safety Tips

Furniture Anchors: Secure heavy furniture, like bookshelves and dressers, to the wall to prevent tip-overs, especially if you have young children.

Adequate Outlets: Check for damaged outlets and replace them promptly. Avoid overloading circuits with too many devices. Install placeholder plugs in outlets to prevent young curious fingers (or tongues?) from going inside an electrical outlet.

Stair Gates: If your home has stairs, install safety gates at the top and bottom to prevent falls, especially if you have toddlers or pets to keep them off of the stairs when you cannot monitor them.

Emergency Escape Plan: Develop and practice an emergency escape plan with your family, including a designated meeting place outside.

Carbon Monoxide Detector:  If your home burns any fossil fuels for heating or appliances, install carbon monoxide detectors in common areas of your home to detect this odorless gas. The D.C. building codes require this if you use a fireplace or if you have an attached garage. In essence, if there is any potential source of carbon monoxide in the home, be sure to install these detectors.

Remember, a safer home not only prevents accidents but also provides peace of mind for you and your family. Implement these simple tips to create a secure environment in every room of your house.

With these practical tips and a few adjustments, you can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and falls in your home. Enjoy peace of mind in your now much safer haven.

Scott Bloom is owner and senior property manager of Columbia Property Management.

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Celebrity News

Lizzo makes $50K donation to Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Singer is vocal LGBTQ ally



Lizzo at the 65th Grammy Awards (Screenshot from the Grammy Awards)

When Lizzo sings “If I’m shinin,’ everybody gonna shine,” in her hit song, “Juice,” she means it. Proof of that came this week on Instagram when the LGBTQ ally announced the first winner of her annual Juneteenth Giveback Campaign is the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a national nonprofit based in Richmond, Calif., dedicated to the protection and defense of Black transgender people. 

And she did so in song: “On the first day of Juneteenth, Lizzo gave to me,” she sang in her video, posted Tuesday, as she revealed her $50,000 gift to MPJI.

“That’s right, we know who Marsha P. Johnson is. We know what Marsha P. Johnson has done for the LGBTQ, emphasis on that ‘T,’ Q community,” said Lizzo to her 13.5 million followers. “Thank you so much to the people at the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. You deserve this, and I hope this helps you so much as you help protect our Black trans family.” 

“What the Marsha P. Johnson Institute does is protects and defends the rights of Black transgender people. They do this by organizing community, advocating for the people, and creating an intentional healing community, developing transformative leadership and promoting collective power,” she said. 

“We are overjoyed for the shoutout from Lizzo today, the generosity of her sharing her platform and the recognition of MPJI and its work,” said Elle Moxley, MPJI’s executive director. “The resources from this campaign will ensure the protection and defense of Black transgender people continue at a time where it is so vitally needed. We are so grateful for the support of Lizzo and her fans.”

As one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year for 2019 and a 2023 Grammy winner, Lizzo is more than a pop star but an inspiration to millions of fans for her body-positive attitude, her self-confidence on stage and in her videos, her empowering music and her activism. She’s also the founder of her own clothing line, Yitty. In 2021, she made headlines when she publicly corrected a paparazzo for using “she/her” pronouns and misgendering Demi Levato.

As part of her campaign, now in its 4th year, Lizzo recognizes Black-led grassroots organizations and businesses and encourages her fans to join her in supporting each of the five organizations she highlights this week. Fans who take action by donating are  entered into a drawing for an all-expenses paid trip to see her perform at Fuji Rock in Japan later this year. 

This week’s other nonprofits receiving gifts are: Black Girls Smile, Sphinx Music, the University of Houston and Save Our Sisters United.

Find out more about Lizzo’s 4th annual Juneteenth Giveback Campaign by clicking here.

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Celebrity News

Anne Heche dies after removal from life support

Actress dated Ellen DeGeneres in late 1990s



(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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