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Candlelight vigil to mark World AIDS Day in D.C.

A list of local World AIDS Day events

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World AIDS Day

Locals observed last year’s World AIDS Day with a candlelight vigil. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Whitman-Walker Health is observing World AIDS Day in D.C. with its annual candlelight vigil in Dupont Circle at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1.
“This year, the world marked three decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” said Don Blanchon, Whitman-Walker’s executive director.

“It has been a year to reflect on what 30 years of HIV/AIDS has cost us, to remember loved ones no longer with us, and, for many who are too young to remember, to learn about what the darkest days of the epidemic were like,” Blanchon said.

He said the candlelight vigil would also reflect on an “increasingly bright future” due to recent medical advances that give hope for new and improved treatment options for people with HIV/AIDS.

Whitman-Walker announced it would be offering free confidential HIV testing on World AIDS Day at its Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center at 1701 14th St., N.W., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and at its Max Robinson Center at 2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., S.E., between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Free and confidential HIV tests were also scheduled to be offered from Whitman-Walker’s mobile testing vehicle at Dupont Circle during the Dec. 1 vigil.

These additional World AIDS Day events were scheduled to take place in the D.C. area:

  • A performance of the comedic play “The Infection Monologues,” which is about the personal stories of five HIV-positive men. Gay activist and actor Michael Sainte-Andress is among the five-person cast; Sponsored by D.C. LGBT Community Center—Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m.; Thurgood Marshall Center Gymnasium, 1816 12th St., N.W.; $5 suggested donation.
  • “Red Hot Night” cocktail party to benefit Whitman-Walker Health; sponsored by Kimpton Hotels of Washington, D.C.; Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6-8 p.m.; Urbana Restaurant & Wine Bar, 2121 P St., N.W. $10 admission.
  • “A Taste of Virginia’s Own” wine tasting event to benefit the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry (NOVAM); Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m., sponsored by Kimpton’s Palomar Arlington, 1121 N. 19th St., Arlington, VA; $30 admission in advance, $35 at door.
  • D.C. LGBT Community Center’s monthly Open Mic Night featuring poet and writer J.T. Bullock; “will have an HIV/AIDS theme in honor of World AIDS Day;” Friday, Dec. 2, 8 p.m., D.C. LGBT Center, 1318 U St., N.W.
  • Remembering World AIDS Day Gospel Music Concert featuring Julia McGirt Nixon and the McGirt Singers with David Yivisaker; sponsored by Faith Temple Church, an LGBT-supportive congregation; Sunday, Dec. 4, 4:30 p.m., 1313 New York Ave., N.W.; $15 admission.
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District of Columbia

Community rallies behind As You Are bar’s fundraising appeal 

D.C. LGBTQ café and bar raised more than $170k to prevent closure

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As You Are bar in March 2022 (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Less than a week after the D.C. LGBTQ café and bar As You Are located in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill issued a GoFundMe appeal on Feb. 5 seeking emergency financial support to prevent it from closing, the popular business reached its goal of $150,000 to get out of debt.

And as of Sunday night, the fundraising appeal had pulled in $171,471 from more than 3,000 individual donations, according to As You Are’s GoFundMe site.

In comments posted on the GoFundMe site, many of the donors said they were motivated to contribute to As You Are because they view it as a special, safe space that offers a welcoming, accepting place for them and their LGBTQ friends or family members.

In their GoFundMe message, As You Are co-owners Jo McDaniel and Rachel “Coach” Pike describe how they view their business as offering community center type programming beyond just a bar and café.

“AYA is a café, bar and dance floor that hosts diverse programming nearly every night of the week, including social sport leagues, Queer youth socials, weekly karaoke, book clubs, open mics, Queer author events, dance parties and much more,” the two said in their message.

“We have faced some particularly tall and costly hurdles that have set us back significantly since the beginning,” the two said in their GoFundMe message. “As we are tapping every resource we can imagine with creativity and open minds we need urgent assistance,” they said. 

“Rach and Jo are truly loved, and AYA is so important to so many people and everyone knew that,” said gay D.C. civic activist Mike Silverstein, who is one of the GoFundMe donors. “The response was absolutely amazing,” Silverstein said. “From every part of our community. People put everything aside, worked together and focused on saving a space that means so much.”

As You Are opened for business in March 2022. McDaniel and Pike have said the financial problems were caused, in part, by a delay in their planned opening due to complications associated with getting their required occupancy permit from the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The two said negotiations with the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which demanded certain soundproofing structures be installed for the interior walls of their building, also added to the delay and increased costs.

Like other bars and restaurants across the city, McDaniel and Pike said their rent became a financial burden during a slow period for business last summer. They told the Washington Blade their landlord declined a request to renegotiate the lease to make an allowance based on sales. The two told the Washington Post that their rent is $27,000 per month, which they had to begin paying before they were able to open for business, and they spent $40,000 on soundproofing the walls, all of which contributed to a debt of about $150,000.

McDaniel and Pike, who spoke to the Blade at the time they launched their GoFundMe appeal, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the success of their fundraising and their future plans for As You Are. They told the Post now that they are no longer in debt, they plan to take up several offers of financial advice and they’re looking into possibly buying a property rather than renting. They said they also plan to apply for D.C. government business grants now that they have caught up on back tax payments.

Among those who posted comments on the As You Are GoFundMe site after making a contribution was Megan Mowery, who wrote, “AYA gives us a place to feel community, it is so rare to find a queer space where I can have fun and feel safe.” Mowrey added, “The programming AYA puts on absolutely has something for everyone. I love you AYA!!!”

Helena Chaves, another donor, stated in a GoFundMe post, “As You Are has been a monumental addition to the LGBTQIA+ community in Washington, D.C. They hold so many events and fundraisers, provide beautiful accommodations for us disabled folk, and have protocols in place to diminish harassment in the space.” 

Among the larger donors shown on the As You Are GoFundMe site is the Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride festival and parade, which donated $2,500. 

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Maryland

Baltimore County police arrest suspect in rape of transgender woman

Jalen Green allegedly target victim through dating app

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Baltimore County police announced Feb. 15 they had arrested and charged a 22-year-old man with first-degree rape, first-degree assault, armed robbery and firearm-related charges in addition to other offenses.

According to a statement released by police, Jalen Green was arrested in connection with a sexual assault that occurred in the 3000 block of Putty Hill Avenue in Parkville on Feb. 11 at approximately 3:30 p.m. 

Investigators say Green targeted a member of the transgender community through a dating app.

WBAL reported

According to the charging documents, the victim told officers that Green contacted her for sex in exchange for money. The victim told officers that Green pointed the gun at her and demanded money, the documents state.

Not having any cash, the victim said Green used her phone to send himself $100 in the Cash App and then stole two prescription bottles from the victim. According to police, Green then sexually assaulted the victim at gunpoint and recorded video on his cellphone.

The charging documents state that investigators recovered evidence from the scene, including DNA. A search warrant was being sought to recover potential evidence on Green’s cellphone, the documents state.

Investigators seek to hear from anyone who may have been in contact with Green.

The Baltimore County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is seeking information from anyone who may have been in contact with this subject. Detectives can be contacted at (410) 887-2223. 

If you are a survivor of a sexual assault, you can contact the Sexual Assault Hotline for crisis counseling by calling (410) 828-6390. The Special Victims Unit also works with TurnAround who can be contacted by calling (410) 377-8111.

Green is being held without bond at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

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Local

Comings & Goings

Hayashi takes role at National LGBTQ Task Force

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Kris Hayashi

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 Kris Hayashi named Director of Advocacy and Action department, at the National LGBTQ Task Force. The department encompasses the organization’s policy, field, and faith teams. Hayashi is a longtime LGBTQ activist and leader in the fight for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming members of the community. 

Executive Director Kierra Johnson said, “We could not be more excited or honored to welcome Kris Hayashi to our team and the Task Force family. Kris will bring immeasurable expertise to our advocacy and policy work as our community, especially our trans and non-binary siblings, are under unrelenting and unprecedented attacks. Having Kris join us as we launch our Queer the Vote campaign, and more, in this critical election year, bringing decades of leadership and knowledge, is a game-changer for the Task Force at this time.” 

Upon accepting the position, Hayashi said, “At a time when trans communities are facing escalating attacks on our rights, lives, and very existence, I am excited to join the National LGBTQ Task Force and support the organization’s work to build a queer progressive movement that centers trans power, resistance, and joy. The National LGBTQ Task Force is a legacy institution that aims to work at the intersections of the multiple identities our trans and queer family members hold and that means the world to me.” 

Hayashi has been active in social, racial, and economic justice movements for 30 years and specifically within LGBT movements for the last 20. Most recently Hayashi served as the executive director at the Transgender Law Center (TLC). Previously, Hayashi served as the executive director/co-director of the Audre Lorde Project (ALP), a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color organizing center based in New York City. Prior to that Hayashi served as executive director of Youth United for Community Action, California. Hayashi serves on the board of the California Endowment.

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