December 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm EDT | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Queery: Dave Peterson

Dave Peterson with his designs. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Artist Dave Peterson was ready to branch out on his own. After 15 years working for Be As You Are in Georgetown, he started his own design company in September 2007.

“I really wanted to be on my own and have control over my work,” the 43-year-old Rockville, Md., native says.

Now he sells his T-shirts and screen prints in local shops such as Caramel on U Street and Trohv in Takoma Park and Baltimore. An exhibit of his work just opened this week at Buzz Bakery & Lounge in Alexandria, Va. (901 Slaters Lane). It will be up through the end of January. Or looks for his whimsical, pun-heavy drawings and quips at

Peterson says his simple, purposefully crudely drawn figures are intentional.

“They’re supposed to just be simple and funny,” he says.

But that doesn’t mean they’re slapped together — quality control is important, he says. It’s the reason he’s gradually getting into other formats like keychains or mugs. He launched a line of greeting cards in September. The screen prints, especially, take care to execute. Roughly 36 by 24 inches in size, Peterson scans his drawings — many of the same ones he uses on his T-shirts — and prints them out on wood at the Corcoran in Georgetown. He says the results, which form a sort of stencil on the wood, works well for his band of art. Peterson also dabbles in photography and does some freelance design work on the side.

He’s lived in the Dupont/Logan area since ’93 and still has family in Rockville. He and boyfriend Hex Talastas have been together four years and co-habitate at Logan and 14th with their dog, Remi, a Lab.

Peterson enjoys movies, hiking, baking and going for walks with Remi at Rock Creek Park in his free time. (Blade photos by Michael Key)

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

I came out in ’93. I told most everybody close to me in the span of a week. Once the door was open, I just wanted to fly. It was such a high and a relief, I wanted to share my joy with everybody. My life took a sudden u-turn, and I just felt so great and happy and free. I never regretted it, and still feel joy thinking about it. Hardest to tell were my parents. I told them while driving them home from National Airport. My mother’s famous first words from the backseat were: “Are ya, honey?”

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Pedro Zamora. He was such an inspiration on “Real World.” I was (and still am) a big fan of the show and his persona had such a big impact on me — a representation of a gay man that I could relate to and be inspired by. So much of what I thought it meant to be gay at the time was negative and scary. He was the exact opposite of that. Confident and sexy and proud. That had a big influence on me and how I could imagine myself living. That is how I wanted to be if I ever was courageous enough to come out myself.

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

I don’t go out much anymore, but I always LOVED Tracks — most especially the Madonnarama nights. I remember in high school Tracks had such this mystique. It was the place to go if you wanted to be rebellious. You would shop at Commander Salamander and dance at Tracks. Of course I never had the courage to go until I was in college.

Describe your dream wedding.

Small and casual. Close friends and lots of laughter.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Freedom of any and every kind.

What historical outcome would you change?

9-11 is the first thing that comes to mind.

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

Madonna’s “Virgin Tour.” It was my first concert and I went with my close high school friends Kristin, Cheryl, Michelle, Julie and Ken. We were 16, and so excited.

On what do you insist?

Self deprecation and a great sense of humor. Honesty is always important too.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I just saw a big ol’ raccoon on our sidewalk! Crazy, never seen that in dc!”

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


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

Nothing. I’m perfectly happy as a gay man and have no reason to change.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I grew up Presbyterian, so that has pretty much shaped my spiritual beliefs.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Keep forging ahead, you’re on the right track!

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My boyfriend Hex and dog Remi.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

Gays aren’t capable of long-lasting, loving relationships.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Jossi & Jeager” — a movie with small moments and an amazing ending. It will inspire me forever.

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Lifeguards wearing suits. They are usually so sexy, they should work naked.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Meeting and working with photographer Bruce Weber. I think I would die of excitement. I discovered his work when I was 14 and it’s had an enormous influence on me ever since. To meet him and work with him would be my ultimate dream.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That coming out would be great. That it would all work out well and that life is really exciting and fun as a gay man.

Why Washington?

I grew up close by in Bethesda so it was only natural that I would move into the city as an adult. I love living in a gay neighborhood. The whole vibe is just perfect.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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