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Queery: Chris Copley

The Food & Friends communications director answers 20 gay questions

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Chris Copley (Blade photo by Michael Key)

As the youngest of six boys and the only gay one, Chris Copley knew from an early age he was different from his siblings even if he couldn’t pinpoint what it was.

He remembers his next oldest brother — only 11 months older — noticing it when they were about 10 and 11.

“He said, ‘Chris, you’re different. You feel sorry for people more than most.’ He was saying it in the best way an 11-year-old could say that I seemed to have more compassion,” the 26-year-old Plato, Miss., native says. “That and what they always called my swish, my fabulous walk. It’s become a family joke.”

But the compassion isn’t just a gay thing — Copley says a life of volunteerism and service was instilled in him early on. It’s played out in his career choices. He came to Washington in 2010 after earning a master’s in non-profit management in Georgia to work at Volunteer Fairfax. In March he became communications director at Food & Friends, which has its annual Dining Out for Life event on Thursday (find details and participating restaurants at foodandfriends.org).

“I think any fundraiser that is able to bring so many members of a community together for a common cause is a huge benefit for an organization,” he says. “A lot of the people we serve don’t have family or friends to take care of them … it really takes a community to come together. We’re all sharing this world together so we need to take care of each other. Can you imagine facing cancer or HIV by yourself and having no one to rely on?”

Copley moved to D.C. to be with his boyfriend, Justin Jarrell, whom he’d met in graduate school. They live together in Alexandria. Copley was born in Germany where his father was stationed in the Army. From age 6 until college, he was in Missouri. In his free time, Copley enjoys running, working out, family time, cooking, eating, hiking and camping. (Blade photos by Michael Key)

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

I came out four years ago to my mom who jokingly said, “Chris, I love you still and nothing changes in my eyes, but good luck telling your brothers.” I have five older brothers, all who have served in the military and who are fairly conservative. It was very difficult coming out to them because I assumed that their reactions would be negative. However, I was very lucky because all of them reacted with only love and support.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Tina Turner. Her life is a true testament to overcoming the odds and fighting for what you want. At the age of 72, she still looks amazing! If I could only be so lucky!

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

Barcode

Describe your dream wedding.

The two of us at a courthouse with our closest friends and family. Then a massive party!

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Volunteerism and community service

What historical outcome would you change?

9-11. My father was killed in Iraq in 2004 in a war that was initiated, in part, by the 9-11 attacks. My father was an amazing individual and I wouldn’t mind if he was still around.

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

YouTube. I can spend hours watching stupid videos!

On what do you insist?

That people get out and volunteer or find a cause and support it. There’s not a better feeling in the world. Regardless of who you are, there is something that you can be passionate about. Find that and get out and make a difference.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“Take a stand by sitting down and dining in. Make a reservation at your favorite restaurant for Dining Out For Life on April 26. Nearly 130 restaurants will be donating 25-110% of their proceeds to Food & Friends!”

If your life were a book, what would the title be?This one is hard. I feel like my life isn’t interesting enough for people to read. So maybe something that at least makes them open the cover like “100 Ways to Be a Millionaire.”

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

Keep on walking…

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I’m hoping for a heaven full of fried southern food.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

We cannot expect change overnight. Slow is not bad, it’s progress.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My mom and family.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That all LGBT people are self centered and selfish.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Steel Magnolias.” “Drink your juice Shelby”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Using silverware properly.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

A T-shirt one of my brothers made me when I was 5. It has Bart Simpson on the front saying, “Cool, dude.”

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

The best has yet to happen!

Why Washington?

It’s not the reason I moved to the area but the food in D.C. is amazing. In D.C. people can get just as opinionated about food as they do about politics.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Baltimore Pride Parade

Thousands attend annual LGBTQ march and block party

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A scene from the 2024 Baltimore Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Baltimore Pride Parade and Block Party was held on Charles Street in Baltimore, Md. on Saturday, June 15. 

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Sports

Washington Mystics to hold annual Pride game

Team to play Dallas Wings on Saturday

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Mystics will be having their upcoming Pride game on Saturday against the Dallas Wings.

The Mystics Pride game is one of the team’s theme nights they host every year, with Pride night being a recurring event. The team faced off against the Phoenix Mercury last June. Brittney Griner, who Russia released from a penal colony in December 2022 after a court convicted her of importing illegal drugs after customs officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage, attended the game. 

Unlike the NBA, where there are currently no openly LGBTQ players, there are multiple WNBA players who are out. Mystics players Emily Englster, Brittney Sykes, and Stefanie Dolson are all queer.

The Mystics on June 1 acknowledged Pride Month in a post to its X account.

“Celebrating Pride this month and every month,” reads the message.

The game is on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Entertainment and Sports Arena (1100 Oak Drive, S.E.). Fans can purchase special Pride tickets that come with exclusive Mystics Pride-themed jerseys. 

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Theater

Queers win big at 77th annual Tony Awards

‘Merrily We Roll Along’ among winners

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(Photo courtesy of the Tony Awards' Facebook page)

It was a banner night for queer theater artists at the 77th annual Tony Awards, honoring the best in Broadway theater at the Lincoln Center in New York on Sunday. Some of the biggest honors of the night went to the revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Merrily We Roll Along” and the dance-musical based on Sufjan Stephens’ album “Illinoise.

“Merrily We Roll Along,” which follows three friends as their lives change over the course of 20 years, told in reverse chronological order, picked up the awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Orchestrations. 

Out actor Jonathan Groff picked up his first Tony Award for his leading role as Franklin Shepard in the show, while his costar Daniel Radcliffe earned his first Tony Award for featured performance as Charley Kringas. 

Groff gave a heartfelt and teary acceptance speech about how he used to watch the Tony Awards as a child in Lancaster County, Pa.

“Thank you for letting me dress up like Mary Poppins when I was three,” he said to his parents in the audience. “Even if they didn’t understand me, my family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment.”

Groff also thanked the everyone in the production of “Spring Awakening,” where he made his Broadway debut in 2006, for inspiring him to come out at the age of 23.

“To actually be able to be a part of making theatre in this city, and just as much to be able to watch the work of this incredible community has been the greatest pleasure of my life,” he said. 

This was Groff’s third Tony nomination, having been previously nominated for his leading role in “Spring Awakening” and for his featured performance as King George III in “Hamilton.” 

Radcliffe, who is best known for starring in the “Harry Potter” series of movies, has long been an ally of the LGBTQ community, and has recently been known to spar with “Harry Potter” creator JK Rowling over her extreme opposition to trans rights on social media and in interviews. It was Radcliffe’s first Tony nomination and win.

Lesbian icon Sarah Paulson won her first Tony Award for her starring role in the play “Appropriate,” about a family coming to terms with the legacy of their slave-owning ancestors as they attempt to sell their late father’s estate. It was her first nomination and win.

In her acceptance speech, she thanked her partner Holland Taylor “for loving me.” Along with Paulson’s Emmy win for “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” she is halfway to EGOT status.

The Sufjan Stephens dance-musical “Illinoise,” based on his album of the same name, took home the award for Best Choreography for choreographer Justin Peck. It was his second win.

During the ceremony, the cast of “Illinoise” performed “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!”, a moving dance number about a queer romance.

A big winner of the night was the adaptation of the S.E. Hinton novel “The Outsiders,” which dominated the musical categories, earning Best Director, Sound Design, Lighting Design, and Best Musical, which earned LGBTQ ally Angelina Jolie her first Tony Award.

Also a big winner was “Stereophonic,” which dominated the play categories, winning the awards for Best Play, Featured Actor, Director, Sound Design, and Scenic Design.

“Suffs,” a musical about the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S., which acknowledges the lesbian relationship that suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt had in song called “If We Were Married,” took home awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score, both for creator Shaina Taub. 

Had “Suffs” also won for Best Musical, producers Hilary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai would have won their first Tony Awards. 

Other winners include Maleah Joi Moon for her lead role and Kecia Lewis for her featured role in the Alicia Keys musical “Hell’s Kitchen,” Jeremy Strong for his lead role in An Enemy of the People, and Kara Young for her featured role in “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.”

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