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AIDS 2012: HIV/AIDS activists heckle Gray at Global Village

Housing Works protesters criticized Gray’s response to D.C. epidemic



Gay News, Washington Blade, HIV/AIDS

Protesters disrupt Mayor Vincent Gray’s Global Village speech (Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than a dozen HIV/AIDS activists on Monday heckled Mayor Vincent Gray as he spoke at the International AIDS Conference’s Global Village.

Housing Works members chanted “numbers don’t lie, politicians do” and other slogans as he took the stage inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. They repeatedly accused Gray of not doing enough to combat the city’s HIV/AIDS epidemic as he tried to speak.

“We have the leadership of our health department here and we will be happy to talk with you all about and share with you the plan we have,” said Gray, who specifically pointed out Dr. Gregory Pappas of the Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Disease and Tuberculosis Administration to the protesters. “We will be happy to discuss that with you. We’ll share documents with you.”

The mayor noted that no baby has been born with HIV in D.C. since 2009. Gray also referenced the campaign that city officials unveiled last month that encourages testing among D.C.’s 30,000 employees — he gets tested annually and publicly announces the results.

“I am personally committed finding a cure to this disease,” said Gray. “We know that treatment is prevention.”

The DOH’s latest epidemiological report indicates that 2.7 percent of D.C. residents were living with HIV at the end of 2010. New diagnoses dropped 36 percent among white Washingtonians and 24 percent among the city’s black residents between 2006 and 2010.

Gray reiterated during his speech at the AIDS Memorial Quilt’s opening ceremony on the National Mall on Sunday that the city has distributed more than five million male and female condoms in 2011. He has also credited D.C.’s needle exchange program for the 72 percent drop in HIV rates among intravenous drug users between 2007 and 2010.

“Housing was not on that list,” said Keith Holder of Southeast Washington, who has been HIV-positive since 1985. He told the Blade that he has been on a waiting list for housing for those with the virus since 2001. “Without housing, you’re not going to survive.”

Pappas noted that most of the 1,000 people with HIV who have requested housing support from the city currently live with family and friends. Gray has established an interagency task force to address the issue, but Pappas acknowledged to the Blade that housing for Washingtonians with HIV remains a major problem.

“Most large American cities experience serious housing problems and D.C. is working with HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) to seek funding,” he said.

In addition to housing for people with HIV, D.C. resident Larry Bryant questioned the city’s overall response to the epidemic. He acknowledged the city’s increased testing rates and improved data collection. Bryant stressed, however, that he feels the Gray administration has not done enough to tackle socio-economic and other underlying issues that further contribute to the epidemic’s impact among disproportionately affected communities.

“We’re not looking at prevention in a more comprehensive way,” said Bryant, who has lived with HIV for more than 20 years. “We’re not looking at socio-economic factors that contribute to the epidemic and the most recent surveillance numbers prove that fact both among women, poor women, people of color and heterosexual couples as well.”


District of Columbia

D.C. Council budget bill includes $8.5 million in LGBTQ provisions

Measure also changes Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs



The D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal calling for $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Council on June 12 gave final approval for a $21 billion fiscal year 2025 budget for the District of Columbia that includes more than $8.5 million in funding for LGBTQ-related programs, including $5.25 million in support of the June 2025 World Pride celebration that D.C. will be hosting.

Also included in the budget is $1.7 million in funds for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which includes an increase of $132,000 over the office’s funding for the current fiscal year, and a one-time funding of $1 million for the completion of the renovation of the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community’s new building in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

The D.C. LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition earlier this year asked both the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to approve $1.5 million for the D.C. Center’s building renovation and an additional $300,000 in “recurring” funding for the LGBTQ Center in subsequent years “to support ongoing operational costs and programmatic initiatives.” In its final budget measure, the Council approved $1 million for the renovation work and did not approve the proposed $600,000 in annual operational funding for the center.

The mayor’s budget proposal, which called for the $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025, did not include funding for the D.C. LGBTQ Center or for several other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition.

At the request of D.C. Council member Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), the Council’s only gay member, the Council approved at least two other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition in addition to the funding for the LGBTQ Center. One is $595,000 for 20 additional dedicated housing vouchers for LGBTQ residents who face housing insecurity or homelessness. The LGBTQ housing vouchers are administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The other funding allocation pushed by Parker is $250,000 in funds to support a Black LGBTQ+ History Commission and Black LGBTQIA+ history program that Parker proposed that will also be administered by the LGBTQ Affairs office.

Also at Parker’s request, the Council included in its budget bill a proposal by Parker to change the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs to become a “stand-alone entity” outside the Executive Office of the Mayor. Parker told the Washington Blade this change would “allow for greater transparency and accountability that reflects its evolution over the years.”

He said the change would also give the person serving as the office’s director, who is currently LGBTQ rights advocate Japer Bowles, “greater flexibility to advocate for the interest of LGBTQ residents” and give the Council greater oversight of the office. Parker noted that other community constituent offices under the mayor’s office, including the Office of Latino Affairs and the Office of Veterans Affairs, are stand-alone offices.

The budget bill includes another LGBTQ funding provision introduced by D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) that allocates $100,000 in grants to support LGBTQ supportive businesses in Ward 6 that would be awarded and administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Allen spokesperson Eric Salmi said Allen had in mind two potential businesses on 8th Street, S.E. in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill as potential applicants for the grants.

One is the LGBTQ café and bar As You Are, which had to close temporarily earlier this year due to structural problems in the building it rents. The other potential applicant, Salmi said, is Little District Books, D.C.’s only LGBTQ bookstore that’s located on 8th Street across the street from the U.S. Marine Barracks.

“It’s kind of recognizing Barrack’s Row has a long history of creating spaces that are intended for and safe for the LGBTQ community and wanting to continue that history,” Salmi said  “So, that was his kind of intent behind the language in that funding.”

The mayor’s budget proposal also called for continuing an annual funding of $600,000 to provide workforce development services for transgender and gender non-conforming city residents experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

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Suhas Subramanyam wins Democratic primary in Va. 10th Congressional District

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress



Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Fairfax County) (Photo courtesy of Subramanyam's campaign)

Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudoun County) on Tuesday won the Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in Congress.

Subramanyam won the Democratic primary in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District with 30.4 percent of the votes. The Loudoun County Democrat who was an advisor to former President Barack Obama will face Republican Mike Clancy in November’s general election.

“I’m thrilled to be the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s 10th, and to have won this election during Pride Month,” Subramanyam told the Washington Blade on Wednesday in an emailed statement. “As I have done in the state legislature and as an Obama White House policy advisor, I will always stand as an ally with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wexton, who is a vocal LGBTQ rights champion, last September announced she will not seek re-election after doctors diagnosed her with progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder she has described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.” Wexton is a vice chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and a previous co-chair of its Transgender Equality Task Force.

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Police say they didn’t spray a chemical agent at Baltimore Pride. Why don’t those who attended believe it?

Attendees allege city failed to adequately respond to emergency



A parade participant is photographed clutching on to a rainbow flag at Baltimore’s Pride Parade held on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards/Baltimore Banner)

BY BRENNA SMITH and JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | A chemical agent that disrupted Pride Parade festivities last weekend continues to cause confusion and raise suspicion among many in the Baltimore LGBTQIA+ community, who question the police account of what happened.

The Baltimore Police Department said Tuesday that they had determined the released substance was Mace, but did not say how they came to that conclusion. A BPD spokesperson said that the chemical was released after two groups of people got into an altercation. Three people were treated and released from a nearby hospital because of injuries from the spray.

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

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