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Gay Alexandria City Council candidate loses primary

Sean Holihan was among 14 Council candidates on the Democratic primary ballot



gay news, washington blade, virginia politics
Sean Holihan and Danny Barefoot, gay news, gay politics dc

Sean Holihan and his partner Danny Barefoot. (Courtesy of Sean Holihan for City Council)

Gay Alexandria City Council candidate Sean Holihan on Tuesday did not receive enough votes in the contentious Democratic primary to advance to the general election.

Unofficial election results show that former Councilman Timothy Lovain received 9.09 percent of the vote. Former Councilman Justin Wilson came in second with 8.75 percent of the vote. Gay incumbent Councilman Paul Smedberg came in fifth with 8.35 percent of the vote.

Smedberg and the other five winners will square off against three Republican candidates in November.

“The voters decided to go with an established group of great candidates who have had good bases of support and have lived in the community for a very long time,” Holihan told the Blade. “I’ll be happy to work with them in November.”

Holihan, who is NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s communications director, declared his candidacy in January. He stressed to the Blade earlier on Tuesday that he was optimistic going into the primary.

“It’s been a pretty intense primary and I hope we can turn out on top,” he said. “We ran a pretty good race.”

Holihan pointed to what he described as long-term development of the city as one of the issues that prompted him to run.

“D.C. is one of the top growing job areas in the country because government and health care are the two fastest growing job sectors, and we can’t build a wall around the city,” he said. “We need to figure out how to handle the need for more housing as well as grow our commercial tax base in order to pay for all the things we need like better transit, schools as well as our infrastructure like sewer systems.”

Holihan, who chairs the Equality Virginia Political Action Committee, criticized incumbent Republican Councilman Frank Fannon last month for suggesting that marriage rights for same-sex couples is a “divisive issue.” Mayor William Euille is among the more than 200 mayors from across the country who have joined Freedom to Marry’s “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” campaign.

Holihan added that the gay Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland’s failed nomination as a General District Court judge is among the issues about which voters have spoken with him.

“When I go knocking on doors people often bring up Richmond as far as [Attorney General] Ken Cuccinelli and ultrasound [bill] stuff,” he said. “During that whole week with Tracy Thorne-Begland, that came up numerous times; [they were] just kind of shaking their heads in disbelief that they didn’t think Richmond couldn’t get any worse. And of course they managed to find a way to do that.”

Holihan also responded to a Washington Post article on Monday that reported his partner, Danny Barefoot, donated $3,000 to a PAC that attacked fellow Democratic Council candidate Boyd Walker.

“We’ve run a really progressive race and a positive tone,” he said. “Danny is a campaign professional. He’s a consultant. We are two separate people. We live in the same house. We’ve worked together on many things, but he’s a separate person. We have separate bank accounts so what he does in his own professional manner is not something that he’s ever had to ask my permission for.”

Holihan said he has no plans to run for office again.




Prince George’s County library system launches banned book club

First discussion to take place in Hyattsville on June 14



(Bigstock photo)

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has launched its Rock Banned Book Club.

The club will feature monthly discussions of the 13 top banned books from 2022, most of which focus on LGBTQ-specific themes. 

The club’s first discussion, which will take place at the Hyattsville Branch Library on June 14, will be on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. 

Kobabe’s memoir won the 2020 American Library Association Alex Award and recounts Kobabe’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality through adolescence and adulthood. According to the American Library Association, the book faced the most censorship challenges of any novel at 151.

“We’re seeing nationally the highest rate of challenges to books in libraries since the data has been collected by the American Library Association,” Nicholas Brown, acting co-chief executive officer of the library, said. “I think what happens with all of the discourse around book banning is that, oftentimes, not everyone participating in that discourse is actually taking the time to read the full works and discuss them and understand where the author might be coming from and whose stories are being reflected in these books.”

Along with the book club, the library system is hosting a Pride celebration at the Hyattsville branch on Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion, vogue and runway workshops, free HIV testing and more. 

The library system will host its second annual Rainbow Festival on June 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bowie Branch Library with family-friendly events like craft stations, story time and a live DJ. In April, the library system won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its banned books campaign.

“I think a lot of folks don’t always realize that your local public library is kind of the front line of democracy and we always have been,” Brown said. “Public libraries across the country are very united on this and if the right to read continues to be under threat like it’s been, it is not a good time for the state of our democracy.”

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building



D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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