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D.C. gay clubs ponder mayor’s proposal to extend bar hours



Vince Gray, safe-schools, bullying, gay news, gay politics dc

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has proposed allowing nightlife venues to extend the time they may serve alcoholic beverages from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. during the week and from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Customers and owners of the city’s gay bars and nightclubs have joined other city residents in discussing a proposal by Mayor Vincent Gray to allow establishments serving liquor to stay open one hour later each night of the week.

Gray surprised many of the city’s civic activists and Advisory Neighborhood Commission members by attaching the proposal to his fiscal year 2013 budget rather than making it a freestanding bill.

The proposal would allow bars, nightclubs, restaurants and hotels to extend the time they may serve alcoholic beverages from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. during the week and from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends.

“I think there are probably some who like it and some who don’t,” Gray told the Blade last week at a budget briefing he held in Ward 5. “A lot of people who like nightlife are very supportive of it. There are people who say let’s make this a kind of city that has a global and international feel.”

According to Gray and the city’s chief financial officer, Natwar M. Gandhi, the proposal would yield a projected additional sales and excise tax revenue of $3.21 million for fiscal year 2013 and $12.84 million over a four-year period. Gray said the additional revenue would come at a time when the city faces a possible budget shortfall that could result in cuts to important social services programs.

The proposal must be approved by the 13-member D.C. City Council, which is expected to take up the matter later this month or early next month as part of its consideration of the city budget.

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who chairs a Council committee that oversees the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), has come out against the proposal. At a committee hearing Tuesday night, Graham said he agrees with concerns raised by civic groups and a number of ANC commissioners that allowing bars and clubs to remain open another hour would have a harmful impact on many neighborhoods throughout the city.

Opponents testified at the hearing that bars and nightclubs in certain parts of the city, especially in Adams Morgan and Georgetown, would result in noise, heavy traffic congestion, and sometimes disturbances and crime in those neighborhoods. Extending by one hour the closing time for such businesses would only prolong the noise and other problems associated with such businesses, several ANC commissioners said.

Among other concerns, Graham said the city’s public transportation system, especially Metro rail service, would not be operating at the time bars close. Thousands of people who consume alcohol and many who are intoxicated might seek to drive home, putting the public in jeopardy, Graham said.

A clear majority of the more than 40 witnesses that testified before Graham’s Committee on Human Services Tuesday night expressed opposition to the proposal. Most of those opposing the proposal were members of neighborhood civic groups and ANC members.

Gay D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) has yet to take a position on the mayor’s proposal, according to spokesperson Brendan Williams-Kief, who said Catania is assessing the potential impact of extending bar closing hours.

The D.C. Nightlife Association, whose members include many bars and restaurants, including gay bars, strongly supports the proposal, saying it would boost the city’s economy by strengthening a nightlife industry that accounts for a large number of jobs in the city.

Nightlife Association Executive Director Skip Coburn testified that extending the hours of bar closing times would decrease the problems cited by opponents by staggering the times customers leave and ending the current situation where thousands leave the clubs at the current 3 a.m. closing time on weekends.

Gay nightlife advocate Mark Lee, who also testified before the committee, told the Blade that he and others supportive of the proposals don’t believe civic activists and ANC commissioners always represent the sentiment of a majority of the residents in their districts.

“Those testifying in opposition are the traditional opponents to alcohol licensing regulatory reform and are the relatively few individuals and representatives of small civic groups and ANCs who protest liquor licensing applications and battle to impose so-called ‘voluntary agreements’ and operating restrictions on establishments,” Lee said.

“I, for one, did not find the level of participation by opponents at the hearings to be that significant, as they represented only portions of the city, including only a few areas of the city with prominent dining and entertainment districts,” said Lee, who writes a Blade column on city business issues.

Similar to Coburn, Lee said extending closing hours would create a “calming effect” in high-density entertainment areas.

Other nightlife advocates testifying said not all bars and clubs would choose to stay open until 3 a.m. during the week or 4 a.m. on weekends.

Lee, similar other nightlife advocates, urged the Council not to restrict the extended closing hours to certain parts of the city, such as the downtown business district, as some have suggested.

“Not only will doing so impose a distinct competitive disadvantage to businesses outside a targeted zone, but the benefits of naturally staged patron departures will be eliminated by artificially limiting eligibility,” he said.

Ed Bailey, part owner of the D.C. gay nightclub Town and the gay bar Number 9, said he was especially concerned about allowing the extended hours in some locations but not others.

“That would be an unfair advantage to our competitors,” he said.

Bailey said Town, located at Florida Avenue and 8th Street, N.W., already has permission under the terms of its liquor license to stay open until 5 a.m. on weekends as long as alcohol service stops at 3 a.m. He said the club usually stays open until 3:30 or 4 depending on how late customers decide to stay. But he said the extended hours prevent problems faced by other clubs where large numbers of people leave at the same time.

He said Town has yet to take an official position on the mayor’s proposal.

“We want to provide the best possible event for our patron,” he said. “But we also realize we need to respect our neighbors. We want to make sure we don’t step over any boundaries that are inappropriate for the neighborhood.”

An informal survey by the Blade found that most gay bars in the city favor the mayor’s proposal to extend the closing hours, with a number of them saying they may only choose to remain open an additional hour on certain occasions.

Mark Rutstein, general manager of Cobalt, said Cobalt and JR.’s support the mayor’s proposal to extend the time nightlife venues may serve alcohol. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“It would come in handy when we need it,” said Greg Zehnacker, owner of the gay bar Green Lantern near 13th and L streets, N.W. “We would do it at times like Gay Pride week.”

Mark Rutstein, general manager of Cobalt, a gay bar on the 17th Street, N.W. entertainment strip near Dupont Circle, said Cobalt and nearby gay bar JR.’s, which are owned by the same company, support the mayor’s proposal. But he said he and other bar and club owners in the popular 17th Street neighborhood are concerned that existing voluntary agreements with the Dupont Circle ANC could lead to serious financial hardship for those clubs.

Rutstein and other club representatives noted that city officials have said ANC voluntary agreements, which are ratified by the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, would take precedent over the mayor’s proposal for extending bar hours if the ANC agreements call for closing at an earlier hour.

If competing bars and clubs in other parts of the city are not bound by earlier closing hours imposed by ANCs, those establishments could likely draw away customers from the clubs that must close earlier, Rutstein said.

Jerry Griswell, manager of the Dupont Circle gay bar Fireplace, was the only gay bar representative reached who expressed opposition to the mayor’s proposal.

“I don’t like the idea of people drinking another hour at night,” Griswell said. “I don’t think our employees would want to spend another hour at work. I don’t support it.”


District of Columbia

Point Foundation offers growing range of scholarships, support

‘Resources to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through’



Celina Gerbic, a member of the Point Foundation’s board of directors, speaks at last year’s event. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Many in D.C. know the Point Foundation for its longstanding scholarship program and its popular Taste of Point fundraiser each spring. But the nonprofit is offering a growing range of services to its young scholars, including mental health resources and social media support.

This year’s Taste of Point brought mixologists, restaurateurs, and donors together on May 3 at Room and Board for the annual celebration. With a number of local businesses and organizations donating to the silent auction, the event both raised money for Point Foundation’s scholarships while recognizing scholarship recipients and program alumni.

Among the lineup of featured speakers was one of the foundation’s flagship scholarship recipients, Rio Dennis, a dual master’s and law candidate at Georgetown University.

“I applied for the Point Foundation Flagship Scholarship because I believed in its mission of helping LGBTQ+ students achieve their academic goals while also providing training and resources so we can become better leaders within the LGBTQ community during school and long term,” Dennis said in her speech. 

The Taste of Point celebration began in 2013, born from another event called the Cornerstone Reception. Originally planned as a normal fundraiser with hor d’oeuvres, the foundation transformed it into the current Taste of Point celebration that facilitates partnerships with new, local restaurants.

Some restaurants, like Compass Rose and Hank’s Oyster Bar, partnered with Point Foundation for their first celebration. They have been catering at the fundraiser ever since.

“It really gives you the sense of the amount of love and the amount of community that we have around the Point Foundation and mission,” said Celina Gerbic, a member on the foundation’s board of directors. “They really see, with hearing from the scholars, what the effects can be if we’re raising money for those scholarships and mentoring opportunities.”

The event also allows the foundation to showcase new offerings, such as the Community College Scholarship that was rolled out just before the pandemic in collaboration with Wells Fargo. The community college program gives scholars a financial scholarship each year of their community college experience as well as coaching and admissions counseling for students planning to transfer to a university. 

Meanwhile, the foundation is also expanding its new BIPOC scholarship, which announced its next round of recipients on May 22. The scholarship is currently supporting between 500 and 555 scholars across the country.

Omari Foote, one of the current BIPOC scholarship recipients, appreciates how the scholarship recognizes her as a Black queer student. She is even encouraging other queer students and friends to apply to receive similar assistance.

However, Point is even more than that, Dennis notes. 

Before the school year started, the Point Foundation sent Dennis and all of the new flagship scholars to Los Angeles for a leadership development conference. Scholars discussed how to become active leaders on campus, how to ask for certain resources, what is offered by their campuses, and what tutoring programs are available.

This year, Point also did a joint partnership with an online therapy program to offer discounted prices for all scholars. 

“I have anxiety and depression and I struggled a lot in undergrad with trying to balance that with my having to support myself financially,” Dennis said. “So I was definitely grateful that Georgetown did have a program that is specifically for people of color to get free therapy and Point definitely helped with… asking those questions because it is one of those programs that isn’t as well publicized.”

Point even provided Dennis with a mentor who was also a Point Scholar in law school. Meeting monthly on Zoom and texting all throughout the month, Dennis’s mentor provides academic support that helps her use the right resources and make decisions about her career.

Foote finds the scholarship unique in other ways as well. As a recipient of a handful of other scholarships outside of Point, Foote’s interactions with her scholarship programs mostly stop after they send instructions for writing donor thank you notes. But Point keeps reaching out to maintain a relationship with scholars long after that.

“They’ve reached out to me to spotlight me on Instagram,” Foote said. “They reached out to me even for this dinner, paying for my transportation to and from the dinner … It’s like they’re not just there to give you the money. They’re there to really help you navigate the college world and to be that caring supportive system that a lot of us just don’t have anymore now that we are living by ourselves.”

Last November, the foundation also held an Out in Higher Ed Week, wherein they teach scholars how to be LGBTQ+ advocates on campus. These resources help students navigate the ins and outs of discussing LGBTQ+ issues in university settings.

After graduation, Dennis has even thought about returning to the Point Foundation as a mentor to help future Black queer students, especially first generation law students, balance their mental health and financial situations.

“Point has connected me with fellow scholars who have become my friends. Point has provided me with resources and support to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through,” Dennis said. “I definitely plan on continuing to be involved with Point.”

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District of Columbia

D.C.’s Pride celebrations include parade, festival, fireworks, and more

More than 100 events for all ages planned for June



The Blade’s Pride on the Pier returns June 10 with the region’s only Pride fireworks display at 9 p.m.

More than 100 different events for all ages and interests will take place in D.C. for Pride month.

The Capital Pride Alliance will officially kick off Pride month on Thursday with a show from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Sasha Velour, the 17th Official D.C. Latinx Pride Party and more at Bunker (2001 14th St., N.W.)

Capital Pride on Friday will hold Capital Pride Honors at Penn Social (801 E St., N.W.). Capital Pride every Pride month honors individuals and organizations that have made a lasting impact on D.C.’s LGBTQ community. Among the honorees this year is the National LGBTQ Task Force, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The Washington Nationals will host the 17th annual Pride Night Out on June 6. With the purchase of a Pride ticket, attendees will receive a Pride T-shirt and $5 from their ticket will go to support Team DC, which helps to support the LGBTQ community in sports.

D.C.’s largest Pride event, the Capital Pride Parade, will take place on June 10. The parade will follow a 1.5-mile route, which will step off on 14th Street at T Street, N.W., and finish on P Street at 21st Street N.W. A map of the expected parade route can be found on the Capital Pride website

During the parade, the Capital Block Party will take place at the intersection of Q and 17th Streets. The party will feature local vendors, food trucks and a 21+ beverage garden. The party will also have a designated viewing area for families with children to watch the parade, along with other children’s activities. 

The Wharf will be home to the fourth annual Pride on the Pier during the parade, hosted by the Washington Blade, LURe DC and the Wharf. The event, held from 2-9 p.m., will feature a fireworks show at 9 p.m., a DJ, drag performances, and more. VIP tickets are available in two shifts, offering catered food, open bar, and more. The fireworks display is sponsored by the Leonard-Litz LGBTQ Foundation. For more information and to buy VIP tickets, visit General admission to the festivities on the pier is free.

The parade will be followed by the Capital Pride Festival on June 11. Taking place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., the festival will feature more than 300 booths with local vendors, businesses and organizations. From 12-8 p.m., the Capital Pride Concert will host acts such as Broadway actress Idina Menzel and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Monét X Change.

From June 5-Aug. 11, ARTECHOUSE will be exhibiting its newest exhibit “PIXELBLOOM: Timeless Butterflies.” Visitors can use the promo code “PRIDE20” to get 20 percent off their ticket during Pride month.

Throughout the summer, Capital Pride will also host a variety of online events. In partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Capital Pride will host Youth in Action: Wearing Our PRIDE, which will feature young indigenous activists working toward social justice. Capital Pride will also host Zoom affinity support groups and social hours.

Further details and a full calendar of events can be found on the Capital Pride website.

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Arts & Entertainment

Must-attend D.C. Pride events for 2023

Don’t miss out on these fun events during D.C. Pride



Pride Month has arrived, bringing along a vibrant array of events to explore throughout the month of June. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in our favorite events over the upcoming weeks!


The Washington Blade, in partnership with LURe DC and The Wharf, is excited to announce the 4th annual Pride on the Pier and Fireworks show during DC Pride weekend on Saturday, June 10, 2023, from 2-9 p.m.

The event will include the annual Pride on the Pier Fireworks Show presented by the Leonard-Litz Foundation at 9 p.m.

3PM: Drag Show

4PM: Capital Pride Parade Viewing on the Big Screen

9PM: Fireworks Show presented by the Leonard-Litz Foundation


Once again we’re celebrating Pride in DC with the release of Pride Pils!

The 2023 design has been created and donated by the talented Chord Bezerra of District CO/OP.

Attendance is “FREE” but please RSVP via this Eventbrite or donating at the event to further support our non-profit partners SMYAL and The Blade Foundation. 100% will be donated. As always, DC Brau and Red Bear Brewing Co. will be donating all profit from the sale of this year’s Pride Pils to our non-profit partners.


Dupont Underground, in partnership with the Washington Blade presents The Ground We Stand On: Past and Present DC LGBTQ Changemakers. DC’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community stands as a testament to the unwavering spirit of countless individuals throughout the years. In recognition of their indomitable courage and resilience, an inspiring exhibition titled “The Ground We Stand On: Past and Present DC LGBTQ Changemakers” will showcase the remarkable journeys of both past and present changemakers who have left an indelible mark on the tapestry of Washington, DC. The exhibit underscores the enduring legacy of these remarkable individuals, serving as an inspiration for present and future generations. By shining a light on their remarkable contributions, this exhibition aims to empower and encourage the continuous evolution of the DC LGBTQ+ community and its influence that transcends boundaries.


Join Dupont Underground and the Washington Blade every Friday for Drag Underground. Featuring some of the best Drag Queens in DC!

Performers include Destiny B Childs, Elecktra Gee, Jane Saw, and Shi-Queeta Lee


metrobar prides itself on serving locally-produced beer, wine and spirits. As part of this mission, we are hosting a curated tasting event featuring Civic Vodka & Assembly Gin from local, woman-owned and operated distillery, Republic Restoratives. We will also have a selection of beers from DC Brau, including their annual Pride Pils for tasting.


Join Dupont Underground and the Washington Blade every Friday for Drag Underground. Featuring some of the best Drag Queens in DC!

Performers include Cake Pop, GiGI Paris Couture, Kabuki Bukkake, Delila B. Lee

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