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You don’t have to go far to get away

Richmond, Philly, Rehoboth, Lost River make for memorable regional getaways

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Richmond rolls out the rainbow carpet

The Richmond Convention & Visitors Bureau — like those of many mid-size cities — has put a lot of effort into enticing the lavender dollar. Virginia may be one of the most anti-gay states legislatively, but Richmond is rolling out the rainbow carpet and has much to offer the discerning gay traveler.

For starters, it’s only two hours from Washington. And taking a comfortable round-trip Amtrak ride from Union Station runs about $50.

LGBT travelers are especially welcome at the Linden Row Inn as well as Maury Place at Monument bed and breakfast.

Linden Row Inn (Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Linden Row Inn offers spacious rooms filled with ornate antiques from the mid-to-late 1800s. The fully restored Greek revival hotel is conveniently located in the center of historic downtown Richmond. Prices range from around $110 per night for a sprawling, well-decorated two-bedroom to around $240 per night for a gracious parlor room. For more information or to reserve a room, go to lindenrowinn.com.

Maury Place (Blade photo by Michael Key)

The gay-owned Maury Place at Monument bed and breakfast offers an intimate setting with meticulous attention to design. The luxury guesthouse boasts a seasonal swimming pool, four suites with sumptuous decor, heated tile floors in the bathrooms and a welcoming-yet-unobtrusive staff. Prices range from around $190 to $290 per night. Go to mauryplace.com to book a room.

There are many great restaurants in Richmond, but Chez Fouchee and the Empress stand out.

Chez Fouchee, a gay-owned restaurant nestled between downtown and the Broad Street arts district, has an affordable-yet-satisfying lunch menu seven days a week and a fine dining dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. For lunch, try an artisan baguette sandwich, the quiche du jour or one of the original salads. Prices range from $7.50 for a baguette or salad to $13.50 for a lunch steak. For the more formal dinner, be prepared to spend more than $20 per entrée. Save room for dessert; the rich lemon butter cake is worth the extra trip to the gym. For menus, reservations and more information, go to chezfoushee.com.

The Empress serves elegant cuisine that any foodie will love. The cozy lesbian-owned restaurant offers scintillating and innovative dishes ranging from bison lasagna to pistachio crusted duck breast. Vegetarian options round out the menu. Prices for entrées range from $10 to $15 and market price for seafood. The Empress serves breakfast and lunch Mondays through Fridays and dinner Tuesdays through Sundays with a brunch on Sundays. Go to theempressrva.com for more information.

There are many things to do in Richmond, and plenty to perk the interest of the LGBT traveler looking for art, history and nightlife.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a major attraction for travelers and Richmond residents alike. The glass and stone museum holds 23,000 works of art in its permanent collection and is host to world-class special exhibitions. Go to vmfa.museum for information on exhibits, food, events and more.

The River City is home to several theater companies with shows ranging from the classics to the avant garde. Of special interest to a gay audience is Richmond Triangle Players, an LGBT theater company. James Edwin Parker’s gay-themed “2 Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter’s Night” is having its Virginia premiere on Thursday and will run through Feb. 4. Go to rtriangle.org for tickets, show times and more information on the company.

Drag cabaret at Godfrey's Restaurant and Nightclub in Richmond. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

To unwind after a long day of exploring, there are many LGBT nightlife destinations. For an action-packed nightlife experience, go to Nations on West Broad Street. The club has two bars, a large dance floor and a drag cabaret. For a more laid back experience, Barcode on East Grace Street offers a friendly atmosphere complete with lunch and dinner specials. The best place to meet women is Babes of Carytown located on West Cary Street. Babes is welcoming to everyone and features live music and a drag show. Godfrey’s Restaurant and Nightclub on East Grace Street transforms from a lively dance club at night to a fun drag brunch on Sunday mornings. Reservations are required for the drag brunch.

There’s an LGBT section at visitrichmondva.com that’s a must-visit site if you plan to go.

MICHAEL KEY

Flowers, photos and more in Philly

As one of the country’s largest metro areas, Philadelphia is always bustling with gay energy but two spring attractions are especially worth noting — lesbian photographer Zoe Strauss has a major exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that runs through April 22. And time your visit right and you can also catch the Philadelphia International Flower Show slated for March 4-11.

One of the major exhibits at last year’s Philadelphia Flower Show (Photo courtesy Pennsylvania Horticultural Society)

The latter, a tradition since 1829 that now draws about 250,000 visitors each year, is “a fantastic show for anybody interested in flowers, plants and greening but anybody can enjoy it,” says Alan Jaffe, PR manager for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which stages the event each year.

This year’s theme is “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha” so expect the usual eye-popping displays built around an exotic theme. LGBT Night Out is March 5 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and the event always draws plenty of gays including exhibitors, designers, landscape architects and more.

The event is at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch Streets). Visit theflowershow.com for details.

Strauss (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Strauss is an unlikely success story. The former babysitter with no formal training in photography launched a 10-year project to display her work for one day each year underneath Interstate 95 in South Philadelphia (she’s a Philly native). Critical acclaim came in time and now she’s the subject of a major exhibition that launched two weeks ago and features several special events as well as 39 donated billboard displays featuring her photos through the spring.

The 41-year-old Strauss, who lives with her wife Lynn Bloom in South Philly, says her lesbian identity is endlessly informing of her work even in non-obvious ways.

“It’s extremely central to it because I’m a lesbian and my work is very personal so it’s central to everything I make whether it’s presented in that moment or not,” she says. “I’m very interested in gender and the fluidity of it, so it’s of great importance to my overall body of work,” she says. “And even if (a particular image) is not directly related to the LGBT community, it still kind of always is because I’m the one making it.”

The Museum is on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. Visit philamuseum.org for details.

JOEY DiGUGLIELMO

Rehoboth’s off-season appeal

Before the summer rush, there are loads of activities that Washington’s LGBT community will find enticing in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

You can see men in skimpy swim trunks or elaborate costumes plunge into the cold Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 5 in a benefit for Special Olympics Delaware, and a week later, on Feb. 11, you can shop at the Convention Center at the state’s largest indoor garage sale, Merchant’s Attic I. Merchant’s Attic II is scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day.

The Blue Moon reopens Feb. 9, and judging by the dumpsters outside the Moon this winter, there are many upgrades awaiting inside.

Washington’s own Gay Men’s Chorus will join with the CAMP Rehoboth Chorus in concert on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

The President’s Day weekend traditionally has CAMP Rehoboth co-sponsor a mini film festival called “Another Take” with the Rehoboth Beach Film Society. This year, the films are the award-winning “Beginners” (Feb. 18), and the Chely Wright documentary, “Wish Me Away” (Feb. 19). Both begin at 2 p.m. and are shown upstairs at the Movies at Midway.

March 3 brings another Rehoboth tradition, as the Convention Center will be filled with the smell of chocolate at the annual Chocolate Festival. March will end with another Convention Center tradition, now in its 15th year, the Resorts Home Expo, showcasing the top home service companies, developers, Realtors and mortgage firms (March 31-April 1).

Camp Rehoboth holds a Women’s Fest each April, this year from April 12-15, and will feature Col. Grethe Cammermeyer and Suzanne Westenhoefer among others.

If you have a summer residence at the beach or are thinking of owning a place, you’ll want to want to check out the Designer Show House (10 Fourth Street) on Fridays through Sundays April 20-May 6.  For the odds and ends that you must have, the very popular annual Spring Sidewalk Sale will be held May 18-20. And do not forget that the second Saturday of each month throughout the year the arts community holds the Mosaic Art Walk.

If you are looking for pure entertainment, most of the bars and restaurants continue to offer specials during the winter and spring and there are theater options at both Clear Space in Rehoboth and Possum Point in Georgetown, or you might want to check out the expanded Proud! Bookstore, which has moved directly across from its former location at Village by the Sea, on the Baltimore Avenue side.

PETER SCHOTT

Big change in Lost River

If you’re more into mountains than beaches, then consider visiting Lost River, W.Va. Curl up with a good book by the fire, enjoy a robust cabernet with friends at the Guesthouse, or go for a brisk winter hike.

After 30 years in business, the gay-owned Guesthouse at Lost River changed ownership earlier this month. New owners Michael Cooley and Gary Robinson promise to continue the gay-friendly traditions of the Guesthouse. They are currently featuring a winter craft beer selection from Frederick’s Flying Dog Brewery in the lounge. The Guesthouse also offers wedding packages and can supply couples with photographers, DJs and everything to make the celebration of your wedding or commitment ceremony memorable. Visit guesthouselostriver.com for more information.

 

 

 

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Real Estate

Looking for vacation homes during Memorial Day weekend

A busy, strategic time in the housing market

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As summer arrives, more tourists begin thinking of buying in resort towns like Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Memorial Day weekend, a time to honor the sacrifices of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, also marks the unofficial start of summer. Beyond its significance as a day of remembrance, it has become a prime period for the real estate market. The long weekend provides a unique opportunity for home buyers and sellers, making it one of the busiest and most strategic times in the housing market.

Memorial Day weekend is often a time when people head to the beach, the country, or the mountains for relaxation and to join in the local festivities. This long weekend offers a break from routine, a chance to honor those who have served, and an opportunity to enjoy the beginning of warmer weather. 

For real estate agents, however, Memorial Day weekend can be a blend of work and leisure, especially in resort communities where the real estate market is particularly active during this time. 

The influx of visitors to these destinations often includes prospective buyers who are considering purchasing vacation homes or investment properties. As a result, real estate agents in these areas might find themselves balancing work commitments with personal downtime.

We are keenly aware that the long weekend brings a surge in potential clients. Agents joke among themselves about business being slow until they make plans to go out of town. Open houses and community home tours are often scheduled to coincide with the holiday, taking advantage of the increased foot traffic.

Due to constantly improving technology, real estate agents can effectively manage their time and resources even during busy holiday weekends. Virtual tours, online listings, and digital marketing campaigns enable agents to reach a broad audience without always being physically present. Technology also allows agents to stay connected with clients and respond to inquiries promptly, ensuring that the clients do not miss out on potential sales opportunities. 

Often, agents licensed in the DMV are expanding their territories by becoming licensed in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Writing offers while on vacation has become the norm. Social media accounts can highlight special listings and open house events, and agents can also post pictures and descriptions of amenities in the towns they are visiting, attracting interested buyers who are in the area for the weekend.

The vibrant atmosphere of vacation getaway towns during Memorial Day weekend also provides a unique opportunity for networking and relationship-building. Agents can meet potential clients in a casual setting, forging connections that might lead to new business opportunities. They can also form relationships with other agents and create partnerships to help current and future clients find leisure homes.

The appeal of owning a place by the water, for example, is often strongest during the summer months, when the weather is inviting and the potential for rental income is high. Real estate agents who serve beach towns such as Ocean City, Md., Virginia Beach, Va., or Rehoboth Beach, Del., often mix business with pleasure as they seek out new clients.

Alternatively, if the relaxed life in the country is more to your liking, places such as The Amish area of Lancaster County, Pa. may be for you. Charles Town, W.Va., and Ashland, Va. have a robust military history and may be what you’re looking to enjoy. If mountains and lakes are more your style, the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, the Appalachians of West Virginia, or Deep Creek Lake, Md., may fit the bill, so let’s look at a few properties on the market today.

In Ocean City, you can find an oceanfront, one-bedroom condominium with beach and sunset views in a short-term rental building for $439,900. As you can imagine, it already has four weeks booked for the summer.

The historic district of Charles Town, W.Va., offers a 3,000-square-foot Victorian home built in 1890. It has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, 10’ high ceilings, original pocket doors, inlaid floors, and central air conditioning for $159,900. What’s the catch? It requires a complete renovation, but what a wonderful project it could be for weekend warriors.

Stretch your budget a bit more and you can own a 4,000-square-foot chalet with mountain views on both sides in Front Royal, Va. For less than $700,000, you will get four bedrooms and three baths, nearly two acres of land, and low-maintenance siding.

While many people flock to nearby vacation spots purely for relaxation, real estate agents often find themselves working diligently to learn about different areas and capitalize on the increased interest in local properties. By doing so, they can help clients find their dream homes, whether for retirement, short getaways, or investment potential.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed associate broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Advice

After 16 years together, my wife suddenly wants children

‘I don’t want to be stuck in restrictive heteronormativity’

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Dear Michael,

A few months ago you answered a letter from a guy who wanted a baby but his boyfriend didn’t. I’m in the opposite situation. Carol and I have been together for 16 years (we’re married) and all of a sudden she wants to have a baby. This was never on the table until her dad died last year suddenly of a heart attack.  

Since then she’s been a different person. She tells me that she wants to focus on something “bigger” than just enjoying life and also wants some sort of sense that “life will go on.”

To me, being queer has always meant that we get to fully live life in the present, for us.  We don’t have to focus on having kids and all that entails: fertility stuff, sleep deprivation, diapers, babysitters, PTA obligations, college tuition, etc. Let straight people deal with those headaches while I enjoy myself. 

I don’t want to be stuck in restrictive heteronormativity, giving my time and energy to a kid who’s going to go from crying to whining to tantrums to rebellion to not talking to me. And then expect me to pay their bills after they’re 18.  

And why crowd the planet even more? In my opinion, having a baby on this planet is selfish sentimentality.

Carol and I always saw 100 percent eye-to-eye on this issue but now she’s gone over to the other side. I have shared all of the above to shake some sense into her but haven’t gotten anywhere. This was not our agreement at all.

I know you can’t change someone else, but doesn’t she owe our relationship a commitment to the life we already agreed on? I’ve suggested grief counseling but she says no.

Michael replies:

No one owes their partner a commitment to not change. It’s a guarantee that we all change over time. Relationships challenge us to stay with someone as we both evolve in big and sometimes unexpected ways over the years. There’s no way around this challenge if you want to stay happily married. 

It’s also true that you don’t have to keep living with someone who changes in ways you don’t want to accommodate. So, if Carol is certain that she wants to be a mom and if you are certain that you don’t, you can leave.

It makes sense that you’re sad and angry (putting it mildly) when your wife suddenly wants to completely upend your life. That said, you’re not going to improve your marriage by criticizing Carol or insulting her wish to parent. And if you pressure her to give up a deeply held wish, she will likely resent you.

Instead of these tactics, how about being curious regarding her desire to parent? What “bigger” meaning is she hoping to get from life? How does she think her father’s untimely death affected her, not just on this issue but possibly in other ways as well?

There’s great value in being curious about our partners’ differences rather than contemptuous or critical. That’s a path toward greater intimacy, in that we get to deeply understand the person we are spending our life with. While you may not stay with Carol, you still might want to have a close and caring relationship with the woman you’ve spent 16 years with. Understanding her better might also help you make some peace with her desire to parent.

I also want to encourage you to consider that there are many ways to be gay, lesbian, queer — to be just about anything. You could say it’s “heteronormative” to want to parent; but you could also view it as a common human (and non-human) desire that is unrelated to sexual orientation. Carol has different ideas for how she wants to live. This doesn’t mean that she is foolish.

I’m curious about why you have such an unrelentingly negative view about parenting and kids. Is it possible that you’ve had some tough experiences in your life that have shaped this view? 

I’m not pushing you to change your mind, but you might consider talking with some parents to get some sense of what parenting, and children, are actually like. 

You might open up your thinking, and your heart. You might decide you are willing to lean in Carol’s direction, or you might not. In any case, I’m hopeful that you would get a more balanced picture of what parenting and childhood can be. 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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Real Estate

Yes, there are other coastal Delaware towns besides Rehoboth

Explore Bethany, Ocean View, Milton for more affordable options

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World War II watch towers dot the Delaware coastal landscape outside of Rehoboth. (Photo by Ethan Bean)

Often when we Washingtonians think of Delaware we think of Rehoboth Beach only. Well, believe it or not, there are actually other coastal towns besides Rehoboth — even some that are being taken over by gay buyers. Although you won’t find anything quite like Rehoboth, there are other options out there when looking for something perhaps a bit more affordable than Rehoboth within close proximity to all that Rehoboth has to offer.

The first option would be to look a bit farther inland. There are great condo options a bit inland from Rehoboth that will afford you some more space and are more economically priced. These options are usually a closer commute to those of us heading to the beach from D.C. Think of those condos you pass along Route 1 near the outlets – still having a Rehoboth address, but not the asking price of in-town Rehoboth. 

Let’s take a look at coastal towns that are outside of Rehoboth. Let me preface this by saying that I am a Delawarian. Born and raised in a real estate centric family with deep roots in Delaware. My grandfather always said, “Buy as close to the water as they won’t make more of it.” Obviously he was kind of wrong, because they make these hideous man-made retention pond, but of course he was speaking about the ocean and bay. No matter what coastal town I speak about in this article, they will be costly. It is just a fact. There are some options, however, that are priced a bit better than others.

Bethany Beach, for example. I know, it’s a bit sleepy and considered “family friendly,” however it is also priced better than Rehoboth. I am biased because that’s where I hang my hat and it’s a quick drive or Uber to Rehoboth for a night out or day at Poodle Beach. I also enjoy the fact that I have oodles of friends who have boats and have easy access to the bay for kayaking and afternoons out on the boats for happy hours. There’s nothing better than watching the sunset on the bay in a boat with a glass of rosé, something easily done with the access points from the Bethany Beach area.

Another coastal town that is on the opposite side of the state is Broadkill Beach. If you have ever visited the Outer Banks, this is the Outer Banks of Delaware. Broadkill Beach is technically in Milton, Del., and is a smaller beach community with essentially one road in and out providing a very exclusive feel for residents. The beaches are not like those of Rehoboth, Dewey, Bethany, or Fenwick. There is no boardwalk, no tourist attractions, little commercial development, etc. You literally go here for the beach, rest, and relaxation. Peace and quiet — the polar opposite from what Rehoboth provides.

Lastly, there are always quaint inland towns that offer respite from the beach but allow a quick drive to the sand. Some of my favorites are the town of Milton, which is a quick drive to Lewes beach. Milton provides a charming downtown area with shops, restaurants, coffeeshops, a lively arts district, and more. Truly a once upon a time sleepy town that in the past few years has woken up – it still retains its charm and character. Some of my favorite restaurants and shops are here. A quick drive takes you to the beaches of Lewes and also the town of Lewes, which is equally charming.

My next favorite coastal town – again – because I am biased – is Ocean View, which is a town outside of Bethany Beach. This town is more spread out, however it offers lots of restaurants, coffeeshops, Delaware State parks and this side of the Indian River Bridge, you gain easy access to the bay, which truly changes your way of life.

The next time you are at the beach, take time from kik’ing at Aqua or Poodle Beach and spend some time exploring the quaint town of Milton or drive along scenic Route 1 south to Bethany Beach to see what other coastal towns Delaware has to offer outside of Rehoboth that might be a more economical option in making your beach home a reality. I promise that a second home at the Delaware beaches is more within reach than you may think.

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,  [email protected] or BurnsandNoble.com.

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