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Queery: Dr. Robin Halprin-Hawkins

The local lesbian psychologist answers 20 gay questions

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Dr. Robin Halprin-Hawkins (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Robin Halprin-Hawkins, a clinical psychologist with the D.C. Department of Mental Health, was in interesting places at key times when it comes to LGBT history.

In 1969 at age 16, she was within a half block of the Stonewall Riots but because she was underage, she didn’t go any closer once she and friends realized police were on the scene. Her years living in New York’s West Village and on Fire Island in the late ‘60s gave her a front row seat to that turbulent time.

And she saw her first patient with “GRID” (an early term for HIV before it was identified) at Crownsville Hospital Center in 1982, an incident that sparked her continual commitment to HIV and AIDS work since then. She was a volunteer therapist with the People Living With HIV/AIDS program at Whitman-Walker Clinic from 1986 to 2008 and she and spouse Pat Hawkins have presented research on HIV/AIDS caregiver burnout at the American Psychological Association Convention. She’s now a volunteer with the D.C. Community AIDS Network.

The 60-year-old New Brunswick, N.J., native, is passionate about her work, LGBT rights and the pets she’s cared for and lost.

Halprin-Hawkins lived in New York for her first two years of college, then transferred to Massachusetts to finish. She earned her master’s and Ph.D. in clinical psychology at American University in D.C. She and Hawkins live in Waldorf, Md., and own getaway spots along the Potomac River in Marshall Hall, Md., and also a cottage in West Virginia.

She’s a voracious reader and enjoys photography, travel, learning foreign languages and her cats in her free time.

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

Forty-eight years, since I was 12. No one was hard to tell, but not everyone reacted well. I told my very liberal Democrat father, who worked in communications, produced plays and concerts in the county parks and knew and introduced me to lots of gay people, when I was 16. He put me in therapy to make it go away. It didn’t work.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Sappho. All the LGBT people I knew in New York City in the late ‘60s, who were living lives of integrity. Rachel Maddow.

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

Annie’s, hands down.

Describe your dream wedding.

We actually had two — in Ontario in 2003, I was fit to bust. I ran around telling everybody we were “just married,” including cab drivers and hotel clerks. When Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, we did it again, to make it legal in the U.S. on the bowsprit of a whale boat in Provincetown Harbor.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Universal health care including complete parity for behavioral health. Feral cat rescue and TNR (trap-neuter-release).

What historical outcome would you change?

Other than the leap of HIV/AIDS from apes to humans, with its tragic physical and emotional consequences for countless millions of people, particularly our gay brothers? The 2000 presidential election that Bush 2 stole from Gore.

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

Women’s music — Willie Tyson, Meg Christian, Chris Williamson and my good friend and former partner Adrienne Torf — which was birthed in D.C. just before I came here for graduate school.

On what do you insist?

I’m from New York — are you kidding? Everything! In terms of everyday, little stuff like being called “Dr.” I also always insist on “sexual orientation” rather than “preference.” To me, it’s like eye color, handedness or race: it’s a characteristic I was born with, not a “lifestyle” I choose or not.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

A vehement argument with my neurosurgeon classmate from Rutgers Preparatory School about the Affordable Care Act. A viral video of a swimming cat. My favorite recent FB post was my happy birthday wishes to Pat, the “bestest of spouses.”

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Vincero!” (I will prevail.)  I am a breast cancer survivor. As an LGBT individual, I am a member of a discriminated-against minority. I am a person affected by HIV/AIDS. I am a soldier in these fights, and we will win!

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

Absolutely nothing. I love my life.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?  

I can’t believe that this is all there is. Eternal love is the only thing that makes any sense.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?  

Fight hard and relentlessly for federal recognition of marriage equality with all the responsibilities and rights, such as survivor Social Security and pension benefits.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My spouse and my cats. Human rights.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?  

That someone has to be “the man” in a lesbian relationship. If I wanted a man, I’d have one.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Desert Hearts” and “Longtime Companion.”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Dressing up to travel. Anything more than “smart casual” is ridiculous on trains and planes. Comfort is what’s important.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I got mine — my spouse, Dr. Pat Hawkins. Though I would also like to be fellowed by the American Psychological Association’s LGBT Division 44.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That no matter how hard you try, there may be some things you will never be or have, but if you don’t bust your ass, you have no shot at any of them.

Why Washington?  

While in graduate school at The American University, I fell into “forever love” (Pat and I have been together more than 30 years now, married for nine), and she would never leave Washington, because of her fervent commitment to make things happen in health care, especially in HIV/AIDS.

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Out & About

DC Center to host Alzheimer’s awareness event

‘Seniors & Cognition’ talk to explore warning signs, healthy brain practices

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The DC LGBTQ+ Community Center, the DC Department on Aging and Community Living, and the Alzheimer’s Association are joining forces to host “Seniors & Cognition with the Alzheimer’s Association” on Thursday, July 25 at 2 p.m. on Zoom. 

Guest speakers will walk the audience through understanding Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, their warning signs, healthy brain practices, and more. The lecture series will consist of three 1.5-hour sessions, with the others set to take place in August and September. 

To register, visit the DC Center’s website

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Sports

Brittney Griner and wife celebrate birth of their son

Cherelle Griner gave birth to healthy baby boy earlier this month

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Brittney Griner (Screen capture via Instagram)

It’s a boy for Brittney and Cherelle Griner. The Phoenix Mercury center revealed the news in interviews with CBS Sports and NBC News. 

“Every minute I feel like he’s popping into my head, said Griner. “Literally everything revolves around him. And I love it.”

The couple officially welcomed the baby boy on July 8. He weighs 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

“That’s my man. He is amazing,” Griner told CBS Sports. “They said as soon as you see them, everything that you thought mattered just goes out the window. That’s literally what happened.” 

Griner, 33, corrected the CBS News correspondent who said, “You’re about to be a mom!” She told her Cherelle, 33, had already delivered the baby and that she preferred to be called,“Pops.” 

Griner told NBC News correspondent Liz Kreutz they chose to name their newborn son, “Bash.” 

The WNBA star said she is Bash’s biggest fan and is constantly taking photos of him. “My whole phone has turned into him now,” Griner told CBS Sports.

The baby comes as Griner gets set to play in Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game and then head to Paris with Team USA to compete for their 8th straight gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games. 

“It kind of sucks because I have to leave, but at the same time, he will understand,” said Griner. 

Her time in Paris will mark the first time since the basketball star was released from a Russian gulag, where she was held on drug charges for nearly 10 months in 2022.

“BG is locked in and ready to go,” Griner told NBC News on Friday. “I’m happy, I’m in a great place. I’m representing my country, the country that fought for me to come back. I’m gonna represent it well.”

Griner also spoke with NBC News about her hopes the U.S. can win the freedom of imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian maximum security prison on Friday. 

“We have to get him back,” she said. 

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Calendar

Calendar: July 19-25

LGBTQ events in the days to come

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Friday, July 19

“Center Aging Friday Tea Time” will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ+ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of choice. For more details, email [email protected].

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Community Happy Hour” at 7 p.m. at Puro Gusto. This event is ideal for making new friends, professional networking, idea-sharing, and community building. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Saturday, July 20

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Community Brunch” at 11 a.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. This fun weekly event brings the DMV area LGBTQ+ community, including allies, together for delicious food and conversation. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

“LGBTQ People of Color Support Group” will be at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This peer support group is an outlet for LGBTQ People of Color to come together and talk about anything affecting them in a space that strives to be safe and judgment free. For more details, visit thedccenter.org/poc or facebook.com/centerpoc.

Sunday, July 21

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Dinner” at 6:30 p.m. at Federico Ristorante Italiano Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. Guests are encouraged to come enjoy an evening of Italian-style dining and conversation with other LGBTQ+ folk. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Funday Social and Games” at 3 p.m. at Moxy. This event is ideal for making meaningful new connections and informal community building, or just to unwind and enjoy the group happy hour. There will be Monopoly, chess, checkers, Jenga and many other games. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

AfroCode DC will be at 4 p.m. at Decades DC. This event will be an experience of non-stop music, dancing, and good vibes and a crossover of genres and a fusion of cultures. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Monday, July 22

Center Aging: Monday Coffee & Conversation will be at 10 a.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of their choice. For more details, email [email protected].

“Queer Book Club” will be at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. The club meets on the fourth Monday of the month to discuss queer books by queer authors. This month’s read is yet to be announced. For more details, email [email protected].

Tuesday, July 23

Pride on the Patio Events will host “LGBTQ Social Mixer” at 5:30 p.m. at Showroom. Dress is casual, fancy, or comfortable. Guests are encouraged to bring their most authentic self to chat, laugh, and get a little crazy. Admission is free and more details are on Eventbrite.

Coming Out Discussion Group will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a peer-facilitated discussion group and a safe space to share experiences about coming out and discuss topics as it relates to doing so. For more details, visit the group’s Facebook page.

“Genderqueer DC” will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a support group for people who identify outside of the gender binary, whether you’re bigender, agender, genderfluid, or just know that you’re not 100% cis. For more details, email [email protected].

Wednesday, July 24

Job Club will be at 6 p.m. on Zoom. This is a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve self-confidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking — allowing participants to move away from being merely “applicants” toward being “candidates.” For more information, email [email protected] or visit thedccenter.org/careers.

“Asexual and Aromantic Group” will meet at 7 p.m. on Zoom and in person at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. This is a space where people who are questioning this aspect of their identity or those who identify as asexual and/or aromantic can come together, share stories and experiences, and discuss various topics. For more details, email [email protected].

Thursday, July 25

Virtual Yoga with Charles M. will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a free weekly class focusing on yoga, breath work, and meditation. For more details, visit the DC Center for the LGBT Community’s website.

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