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State Dept. brings foreign journalists to Blade office

Journalists from 20 nations visited Monday as part of a special reporting tour to brief journalists on how the U.S. addresses LGBT-related issues

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gay news, Washington Blade

A group of about 20 foreign journalists met with Blade editor Kevin Naff this week for insights on covering LGBT issues. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Journalists from 20 nations visited the offices of the Washington Blade on Monday as part of a special reporting tour organized by the U.S. State Department to brief the journalists on how the U.S. addresses LGBT-related issues.

Blade editor Kevin Naff spoke to the journalists about how the Blade and other media outlets cover the LGBT community and how coverage from the LGBT press differs from coverage by mainline news organizations.

“LGBT issues are a human rights priority for Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton,” said Dick Custin, deputy director of the State Department’s Foreign Press Center, which organized the tour.

“Many of the journalists who will be joining us come from countries where homosexuality is not only stigmatized, it is punishable by imprisonment or even death,” Custin said in an email prior to the journalists’ visit. “The courageous participants on this tour are willing to report back to the readers, listeners and viewers in their home countries on how the U.S. is handling this important issue.”

The nations the journalists were from included: Albania, Chile, China, Croatia, Dominica, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Kosovo, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Turkey and Uganda.

Custin said the journalists on the tour include bloggers and reporters from TV, radio, newspapers and online media. One journalist from Uganda noted that in her country the Blade’s offices would be “ransacked and burned.” Others wondered if the paper had ever been targeted by protests, while some wrongly assumed the government funded the paper’s operations. The session ended with many of the journalists offering international story ideas for the Blade to cover.

“We believe this tour would give journalists – and their audiences worldwide – a perspective on how the world’s leading democracy handles issues of sexual orientation and the sensitivities surrounding it,” Custin said.

In addition to their visit to the Blade offices, the foreign journalists met with Diego Sanchez, the LGBT issues coordinator for U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), and officials at the Pentagon that handle the dismantling of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and gay members of the U.S. military. They then went to Annapolis to meet with openly gay state lawmakers.

The State Department tour also was scheduled to take the journalists to the offices of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage to glean insight into U.S. groups opposing LGBT rights.

The seven-day tour was scheduled to travel to Philadelphia and New York City to enable participants to meet with law enforcement officials that work on efforts to curtail anti-LGBT hate crimes, leaders of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and organizers of the “It Gets Better” campaign, which seeks to curtail LGBT teen suicides.

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Maryland

Protests interrupt Moms for Liberty meeting about removing books in Howard County schools

Guest speaker led book-removal campaign in Carroll County

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Gabriella Monroe holds a poster that says 'Ban Bigotry Not Books' outside Howard County’s Central Branch library in Columbia on Feb. 26, 2024 (Photo by Sam Mallon for the Baltimore Banner)

BY KRISTEN GRIFFITH | When a Howard County chapter of Moms for Liberty wanted to learn how to remove books from schools, they were met with a swarm of protesters sporting rainbow colors and signs looking to send the message that such actions are not welcome in their district.

The conservative parents’ group met Monday night at Howard’s Central Branch library in Columbia to brainstorm how they could get books they deemed inappropriate out of their children’s school libraries. Their guest speaker for the evening was Jessica Garland, who led a successful book-removal campaign in Carroll County. The Howard chapter wanted the playbook.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Rehoboth Beach

Former CAMP Rehoboth official pleads guilty to felony theft

Salvatore Seeley faces possible jail time, agrees to reimburse $176,000

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Salvatore “Sal” Seeley, who served as an official at the Rehoboth Beach, Del., CAMP Rehoboth LGBTQ community center for 20 years, has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of Theft In Excess of $50,000 for allegedly embezzling  funds from the organization for at least a two-and-a-half-year period, according to a Sussex County, Del., Superior Court indictment and a spokesperson for the Delaware Office of the Attorney General.

The spokesperson, Mat Marshall, sent the Blade a copy of the indictment, which he said was handed down against Seeley on Feb. 27 and which provides the only specific court information that the Washington Blade could immediately obtain.

“Salvatore C. Seeley, between the 27th day of February 2019 and the 7th day of September 2021, in the County of Sussex, State of Delaware, did take property belonging to Camp Rehoboth, Inc., consisting of United States currency and other miscellaneous property valued at more than $50,000, intending to appropriate same,” the indictment states.

“I can further confirm that the Defendant entered a guilty plea to one count of Theft in Excess of $50,000,” spokesperson Marshall told the Blade in an email message. “Mr. Seeley also agrees to make restitution of $176,199.78 to CAMP Rehoboth,” Marshall said. “He will be sentenced on April 5 and does face the possibility of prison time.”

Marshall declined to provide additional information on the findings of the law enforcement investigation into Seeley’s alleged theft. The restitution figure of $176,199.79 suggests investigators believe Seeley embezzled at least that amount from CAMP Rehoboth during the time he worked for the organization.

Seeley couldn’t immediately be reached for comment

CAMP Rehoboth describes itself as a nonprofit LGBTQ community service organization and the largest organization of its type “serving the needs of LGBTQ+ people in Rehoboth, greater Sussex County, and throughout the state of Delaware.” The statement adds that the organization “is dedicated to creating a positive environment inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities in Rehoboth and its related communities.”

Kim Leisey, who began her job as executive director of CAMP Rehoboth in July of 2023, said it was her understanding that officials with the organization discovered funds were missing and opened an investigation in September of 2021, a short time before Seeley left the organization. Leisey said that at the time of his departure, Seeley served as CAMP Rehoboth’s director of health and wellness programs. 

At that time, former D.C. Center for the LGBT Community director David Mariner was serving as CAMP Rehoboth’s executive director and reportedly took steps to open an investigation into missing funds. Wesley Combs, CAMP Rehoboth’s current board president, said Seeley resigned from his job around that time in 2021.

“I know that I took this job knowing there was a concern and a problem and an investigation,” Leisey told the Blade. “And I also know that the board of CAMP Rehoboth has done everything it needs to do to ensure that we were compliant, cooperative and that things are going really well here at CAMP Rehoboth.”

Leisey said CAMP Rehoboth currently has a staff of six full-time employees and several contract employees. She said the organization has a current annual budget of $1.4 million.

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District of Columbia

Capital Pride announces 2024 Pride theme

‘Totally radical’ a nod to 80s and 90s

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Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos, on left, announces this year's Pride theme at the Pride Reveal party on Thursday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Pride Alliance on Thursday announced this year’s Pride theme is “totally radical.”

The organization made the announcement at Penn Social in Downtown D.C.

“Capital Pride’s 2024 theme celebrates the courageous spirit and unwavering strength and resilience that defined the LGBTQ+ community during the transformative decades of the 1980s and ‘90s,” said Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos. “It’s about embracing our authenticity, pushing boundaries and advocating for a world where everyone can live their truth without fear or discrimination.”

Capital Pride on Thursday announced this year’s Pride parade, which will take place on June 8, will begin at 14th and T Streets, N.W., and end at Pennsylvania Avenue and 9th Street, N.W.

The Capital Pride Block Party and Family Area will once again take place on 17th Street in Dupont Circle. A Tea Dance will also take place on Constitution Avenue, N.W., near the end of the parade. 

The Capital Pride Festival and Concert will take place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., on June 9.

Capital Pride has also launched a campaign to raise $1.5 million for a new D.C. LGBTQ community center. 

WorldPride will take place in D.C. in 2025. The event will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Pride events in the nation’s capital.

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