January 13, 2012 at 6:37 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay gang gives up crime for clothing line

Members of Check It staged a fashion show this week (Washington Blade photo by Pete Exis)

Members of a local gay youth group called Check It that D.C. police described as a gang responsible for a rash of thefts and fights near the Gallery Place Metro station are undergoing training as entrepreneurs interested in selling their own line of clothing.

Four Check It members and their adult supporters and sponsors appeared Monday night at a meeting of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, to announce plans for a Jan. 10 fundraiser and fashion presentation at a downtown gallery. The group also announced plans for a Saturday, Jan. 14, runway fashion show and launch of their clothing line at the Rock East Community Auditorium on Shepard St., N.W.

“As you know, the group that many held responsible for the wave of violence and theft at the stores in the Gallery Place Metro have made the decision to turn over a new leaf,” said Patrice Lancaster, one of the adult sponsors that have assisted Check It members in recent months.

Lancaster and Ward 7 community activist and founder of the local group Peaceoholics, Ron Mouten, said Check It members have told of how they were thrown out of their homes by parents who couldn’t accept their sexual orientation. The Check It members often were taunted and bullied by hostile fellow students at their D.C. schools, prompting them to band together as a gang to fend off bullying and harassment, members of the group have said.

According to Lancaster and Mouten, a Washington Post story last September about the plight of the Check It members prompted community leaders and the D.C. Police youth bureau to intervene on the youths’ behalf, helping them to become productive citizens.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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