Hamid Lagder knows four languages — his native Arabic, the French he studied in his native Marrakech, Morocco, the Russian he mastered during his seven years there and, of course, English. He’s mostly lived in Washington since winning a Green Card lottery and arriving here in 2005.
Lagder doesn’t claim to have any special affinity for mastering new languages. He just adapts to where he is and his needs at the time. What he’s most passionate about is painting. He works by day as an IT manager for an e-commerce company but has been painting since he was a child.
“I could paint all day long,” Lagder, 45, says. “Maybe if I still lived in Morocco I could do it full time but the situation there is different. Here you have to pay bills and everything.”
He’s having his first exhibition Thursday at Puro Café Bar & Lounge (1529 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) from 7-10 p.m. (one night only). About 12 of the acrylics on canvas — landscapes and abstract — will be on display. More information is at hlagder.com.
“There are so many things you can express in art,” he says. “A lot of these works tell a story.”
Lagder says it wasn’t particularly hard for him to come to terms with being gay, though he’s not out to his family in Morocco, where he visits once or twice per year.
“The gay life you have in Europe and America just doesn’t exist there,” he says. “They would probably think it was just something to be cured. They wouldn’t understand at all.”
Lagder, who loves Western pop culture, enjoys painting and traveling in his free time. He’s single and lives on H Street. (Blade photo by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out to friends since I moved to this country seven years ago. The hardest person to tell was a close straight friend.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Wanda Sykes. Everything she says and does makes me laugh, every gesture.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Sax is one of the best nightspots in D.C. I love the interior and the music. It’s just what D.C. needs — an upscale lounge on 11 and H streets, N.W.
Describe your dream wedding.
I’d skimp on the wedding and splurge on the honeymoon! I love to travel so I’d want to go somewhere I haven’t been yet, like Buenos Aires.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
The alarming decline in non-supernatural characters on HBO’s “True Blood,” and the state of the economy.
What historical outcome would you change?
They should never have cancelled “Knots Landing.” And I wish Princess Diana was still alive.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The recent deaths of gone-too-soon Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.
On what do you insist?
Honesty. And no ice in my Diet Coke.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
On Facebook, I posted one of the paintings that will be featured in my upcoming art show.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“50 Shades of Gay”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I’d make doctors’ appointments for all of my hot straight friends.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I was raised Muslim and while I am not, obviously, adhering strictly to that faith I do believe in God/Allah.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep up the good work!
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Certainly not for fun. Who is asking me to walk across hot coals anyway?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That all gay men in D.C. are pretentious.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I value my friends but they refuse to sit still on my mantle. I’d love to be recognized for my art someday.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That washboard abs don’t come easy. That in the blink of an eye I’d be 45.
I have great friends here and I think D.C. is one of the greatest cities on the planet. There is so much to see and do and learn here! And I love the art museums, of course.