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Best of Gay D.C.: People

Blade readers vote for their favorite people in the Washington LGBT community



Holly Twyford, Studio Theatre, Dirt, gay news, Washington Blade
Tom Goss, music, gay news, Washington Blade, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Musician: Tom Goss (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Musician: Tom Goss

Ba'Naka, Town, gay news, drag queen, Washington Blade, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Drag Queen: Ba’Naka Deveraux (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Drag Queen: Ba’Naka Devereaux
Ladies of Town

Liz Warner-Osborne, fitness, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Personal Trainer: Liz Warner-Osborne (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Personal Trainer: Liz Warner-Osborne

Jeffrey Johnson, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Actor: Jeffrey Johnson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Actor: Jeffrey Johnson
AKA Special Agent Galactica


Holly Twyford, Dirt, Studio Theatre, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Actress: Holly Twyford (Photo courtesy of Studio Theatre)

Best Actress: Holly Twyford

Brent Minor, Team DC, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Committed Activist: Brent Minor (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Most Committed Activist: Brent Minor

Barney Frank, Democratic Party, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Gay Politician: Barney Frank (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Gay Politician: Rep. Barney Frank

U.S. House of Representatives (D-Mass.)

Julie Oleson, Baltimore Charm, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Amateur Athlete: Julie Oleson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Amateur Athlete: Julie Oleson 

Julie Oleson is a rookie tight end who’s been training with the Baltimore Charm of the Lingerie Football League for the past seven months (final cuts are made before the start of the next season). Oleson says she was, “humbled enough being nominated for the award of ‘Best Amateur athlete’ and is blown away winning it.”

The Baltimore Charm is a third year franchise of the Lingerie Football League. The league is made up of several seven-on-seven women’s tackle football teams. Mitch Mortaza created the LFL in 2009 and games can be watched on MTV 2 on Friday nights. The Charm joined the league for the 2010-2011 season and last year they finished the season with a 2-2 record. Of course they are hoping to get past that .500 mark this season. The Charm plays their home games at First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. (JH)

Baltimore Charm

Brandon Hoover, Zoe salon, Best of Gay D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

Best Stylist: Brandon Hoover (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Stylist: Brandon Hoover — Zoe Salon and Spa

Brandon Hoover has been working at ZOE Salon and Spa in Fairfax for three-and-a-half years.

“It’s great,” he says of winning this award. “I’m amazed at how many D.C. residents come to Fairfax to see me.”

His favorite part of being a stylist is the client interaction and the creative outlet it gives him. Many of his clients leave looking completely different after each visit.

“I love encouraging self confidence and making beautiful women even more beautiful,” Hoover says.

This comes to light when he mentions the Pink Hair for Promise program that Zoe is participating in. From now until Feb. 2013, clients can pay $10 to get a pink hair extension, $9 of which goes toward the D.C. Breast Cancer walk. Last year the salon raised $19,000.

In the short time he’s been at Zoe, he has been featured in a national hairstyling collection, and been nominated for a Trend visions award in photo editorial and hair editorial.

If Hoover could do any celebrity’s hair, it would definitely be Lady Gaga.

“Hands down. I am the biggest little monster.” (JE)

Zoe Salon and Spa
11906 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy
Fairfax, Virginia 22033

Ray Gernhart, realtor, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Realtor: Ray Gernhart (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Realtor: Ray Gernhart

Ray Gernhart has been in the real estate business for 25 years. He started in 1985 and since then has coordinated thousands of home sales. He specializes in residential and commercial sales in the D.C., Alexandria and Arlington areas.

He has earned top honors in many areas including a Lifetime Achievement Award, Re/Max Hall of Fame member, Re/Max Platinum Club and the $20 Million Plus Sales Producer since 1999 with the Northern Virginia and Greater Capitol Area Association of Realtors.

Gernhart’s office is located at 5100 Leesburg Pike in Alexandria and he and his team are members of the Re/Max Allegiance.

For more information on Gernhart and his team, visit (JE)

Ray Gernhart and Associates
5100 Leesburg Pike
Alexandria, VA 22302

Chuck Bell, NBC4, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best LGBT TV Personality: Chuck Bell (Washington Blade photo by Jonathan Ellis)

Best LGBT TV Personality: Chuck Bell – NBC4

Chuck Bell has been a meteorologist at NBC4 in D.C. since October 2004.

“It’s fascinating that I would be recognized for that,” Bell says of winning this award. “It’s very flattering. I’m pleasantly surprised that people are taking note. I’m very excited by it.”

His most memorable local weather event was the blizzard in February 2010.

“For better or worse, I’m a weather extremes person. I like it most if it’s a record high or record low, record rainfall or record snowfall,” Bell says. “I realize that every day can’t be a record … My favorite weather is always going to be the weather that most people don’t like.” (JE)

Brock Thompson, Library of Congress, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Hill Staffer: Brock Thompson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Hill Staffer: Brock Thompson

Brock Thompson has been working at the Library of Congress since the day after President Obama’s inauguration. He previously worked in the Senate.

“Having your finger on the pulse of the political atmosphere and political scene,” Thompson says is the best part of working on the Hill. “With the Library, it’s the nation’s oldest cultural institution so we get to promote and display our national treasures for everyone to see and enjoy. I never get tired of doing that.”

He’s president of the Library’s LGBT employees group, LC GLOBE. The group has increased membership and programming. The group has also started a rare book fund for rare LGBT books and materials to be added to the library’s LGBT collection.

His book, “The Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South,” a study of gay and lesbian life in Arkansas in the 20th century, was published in 2010 and can be purchased at Amazon. He is also a member of the Rainbow History Project’s board of directors, which he joined in 2011. (JE)

David Aponte, George Washington University, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Student Leader: David Aponte (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Student Leader: David Aponte — George Washington University

Virginia native David Aponte became interested in LGBT issues after learning what some teens were going through in school. He had been bullied in elementary and middle school for his religion, because he wasn’t tall and because his fellow students said he acted too intelligent. He wanted to keep others from feeling that pain.

“As a straight ally myself, a lot of us don’t speak up enough for communities that we don’t identify with,” Aponte says. “I think with the LGBT community, there’s a lot going on right now and people don’t understand what’s going on in that community. It’s important that we advocate for that.”

Aponte is the co-chair of GLSEN’s National Advisory Council and is the chair of the Northern Virginia chapter.

Aponte recently hosted an event with GLSEN for the organizations “Ally Week.” The event was mainly for high school students and had an open mic, dinner and dance.

He’s a junior at George Washington University majoring in integrated information science and technology, a special program geared toward people who are already working. (JE)

Best Masseur/Body Worker: Nildo Silva

It’s hard to stick with a fitness regimen. But, working with an experienced certified personal trainer like Nildo Silva can make that hard work seem almost enjoyable.

After a stint at Tranquil Space, Silva is now working at the popular FIT Personal Training Gym in Dupont Circle. He has multiple certifications and has been in the industry for 15 years, having worked in gyms in several countries.

A favorite with LGBT patrons, Silva is praised for both his persistence and his patience. He is noted for being knowledgeable, friendly and approachable and for his ability to work with both novice and experienced clients. He teaches individual and group personal training sessions, calisthenics and aerobics classes, and “Localizada,” a new style of group resistance training. (BTC)

Nildo Silva
FIT Personal Training Gym
1633 Q Street, NW Suite 110

David Catania, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Local Hero: David Catania (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Local Hero: David Catania

David Catania made history when he was the first openly gay person elected to D.C. Council in 1997 and he’s been making waves ever since.

Catania was initially elected as a Republican, but he has since broken with the party. In 2004, Catania left the GOP after President George W. Bush announced his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Catania was decertified as a delegate to the Republican National Convention and announced his support for the Democratic candidate, John Kerry. In September 2004, he became an independent and still serves as an At-Large Council member in that capacity.

Catania is well known for his work on health care, including tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic, education, housing, public safety and economic empowerment. In 2009, he became the driving force behind a D.C. same-sex marriage bill. The passage of the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act” on March 3, 2010 was hailed as both a personal and political victory for the often controversial Catania. (BTC)

David Catania

David Chung, Nellie's Sports Bar, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Bartender: David Chung (Washington Blade photo by Pete Exis)

Best Bartender: David Chung

Sadly, this award is being given posthumously — David Chung, who tended bar at Nellie’s, committed suicide in July.

Chung’s friend Zachary Wine said Chung had been battling suicidal tendencies. Wine told the Blade that he decided to publicly discuss Chung’s suicide as a way to help others who may want to take their own lives. “If you care about someone, tell them. If you can’t tell them, show them,” Wine says. “If you can’t show them, make yourself find a way to let the people you care about know, and never stop. I myself am horrible about showing my emotions, but it’s only through being there for someone that we can try to make sure this tragedy doesn’t happen again.”

Friends, family and patrons recalled Chung warmly, remembering his infectious smile and friendly manner. Wine eulogized his friend by saying, “he was one of the most caring individuals I’ve ever had the grace to know. And he carried that not just to the people he was close with, but the people he didn’t know.” (BTC)

DJ Rosie, Rosie Hicks, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best DJ: Rosie Hicks (Washington Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

Best DJ: Rosie Hicks

Popular DJ Rosie Hicks has a very full dance card these days. On the first Friday of every month she hosts Flirt Fridays at Phase 1 of Dupont. On the third Saturday, she plays for BARE (presented by the Ladies of LURe) at Cobalt. And, on the first, second and third Thursday of each month, she plays for Hip Hop Night at Club Hippo in Baltimore.

The native Baltimore resident is known for spinning a diverse blend of hip hop, top 40 and old school.

In her day job, Hicks works as a special education teacher at the Kennedy Krieger Center, where she “helps children with special needs reach their full potential.” She has a master’s in special education from Johns Hopkins University and an undergraduate degree in electronic media and film from Towson University. (BTC)

Aiden Cox, Drag King, Kings of D.C., Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Drag King: Aiden Cox (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Drag King: Aidan Cox

Aidan Cox is often described as a drag king stripper and admits he likes to take his clothes off.

“I’m a little different than other drag kings,” he says. “I sometimes do a tribal design on my chest and show the tape that binds my chest and I wear different pairs of little boy underwear. A lot of times I strip down to my underwear.”

Cox began performing in 2009 after reading about drag kings online and watching their videos on YouTube. Then Cox discovered the website for the D.C. Kings. Aidan started talking to Ken Vegas who invited him to attend a meeting.

For Cox, the magic started when he first performed in December 2009. “The stage has made me a new person,” he says. “Once you step into that light you get this amazing rush and you can’t help but want to keep going back for more.”

When not on stage, Cox, who identifies as queer, is working on a degree in counseling and hopes to work as a counselor for LGBT people. (BTC)

Aidan Cox

Raymond Panas, George Washington University, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Educator: Raymond Panas (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Educator: Raymond Panas

Perhaps the best lesson Ray Panas offers his students at George Washington University is his ability to juggle his work as an educator, a researcher and an activist.

The popular instructor started teaching at GW in August 2009. He serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Research in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

As a researcher, Panas worked at the Allegheny County Public Health Labs in Pittsburgh and wrote a primer on AIDS Testing and Counseling for the Allegheny County Health Department. Panas is now director of medical and scientific affairs at Sucampo Pharmaceutical in Bethesda.

As an activist, Panas has been active in a variety of LGBT and HIV/AIDS groups. He has been on the board of Capital Pride since 2009 and currently serves as the organization’s secretary. He is also an active long-time member of Dignity/Washington, a community of LGBT Catholics. Panas was president of the group from 2007-2010. (BTC)

Best Rehoboth Bartender: Christopher Chandler

This was a close contest, with last year’s winner, Jamie Romano of Purple Parrot, and the multi-talented Holly Lane of Café Azafran, finishing just behind winner Chris Chandler of the Blue Moon. A Blue Moon fixture, Chandler (as he’s known to regulars) is known for his friendly smile, an uncanny memory (he’s usually mixing your drink before you order it) and, of course, his CrossFit-honed physique. Whether you visit the Moon on a packed summer weekend or a frigid, quiet February night, Chandler’s usually there to welcome you.

Congratulations, Chandler, but a piece of advice: If you want to retain the title next year, try mastering Jamie’s impressive rainbow shot or belting out show tunes while mixing drinks like Holly. (KN)

Blue Moon
35 Baltimore Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

Katy Ray, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Local Heroine: Katy Ray (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Local Heroine: Katy Ray

Katy Ray is perhaps best known as a promoter for Phase 1. In that role, she proudly hosts and publicizes events for the country’s longest-operating lesbian bar. She got her start shortly after she moved here from Richmond.

“I was new to D.C. and saw the ad for their karaoke night. It said if you bring 16 friends, you get a $25 bar tab. Well, I know how to network. I set up an event on my Facebook page and decided to make it a Lady Gaga night.”

About 80 people showed up and the night was a great success. Angela Lombardi, manager of Phase 1, asked Ray, a lesbian, if she wanted to host karaoke on a regular basis. Ray said yes, and the monthly event is now a fixture on the D.C. lesbian social calendar. Ray generally organizes each evening around a theme and she is already looking forward to the holiday lingerie party in December.

Ray, who works as a high school teacher by day, established a Gay-Straight Alliance at her school and teaches straight students that they can work as allies. Last summer she worked with LGBT school liaisons from across the city to develop educational materials for the D.C. Public School system. She encourages her students “not to take crap from anyone and to own who they are.” (BTC)

Katy Ray

Joe Palacios, Georgetown, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Clergy: Joe Palacios (Washington Blade photo by Jonathan Ellis)

Best Clergy: Rev. Joseph Palacios

Joe Palacios is a Catholic priest on inactive status.

He’s a professor at Georgetown University where he has taught sociology and mentored many young gay men. He is vice president of The Center and celebrates Mass with Dignity Washington and Northern Virginia. Many know him politically from Catholics for Equality with which he worked on the marriage campaign in D.C. and now in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington State.

Authenticity matters, Palacios says. When entering the seminary at 32 in 1983, he presented himself as gay, celibate and willing to abide by the rules. Years later at Georgetown, he discovered that he was one of very few Latino professors and that there were a lot of gay students on campus. This reinforced his commitment to authenticity in his teaching, ministries, academic research and political activism. To be anything less than authentic, he says, would be shortchanging both himself and those around him in their own quests for authenticity. (PF)

Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality, NCTE, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Trans Advocate: Mara Keisling (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Trans Advocate: Mara Keisling

Mara Keisling once told the Blade that she would walk through hot coals for “anything she believed in.” Her indefatigable pursuit of transgender equality, make us believe her.

As founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Keisling (a transgender woman and parent) is one of the country’s leading voices for transgender rights. Her work with the Center (which Keisling helped found in 2003) has involved several prominent achievements including the first-ever trans-inclusive federal legislation, modification of State Department rules for changing gender markers on passports and the first congressional hearing on transgender issues.

In a recent interview with her alma mater, Penn State University, Keisling said, “almost anytime anything gets done for transgender people or for LGBT people, as a whole, we get calls from people saying, ‘Yes, but I still don’t have a job.’”  She and the Center are working to change this. (PF)

Douglas Warren Shantz, Doug Shantz, Nellie's Sports Bar, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Businessperson: Douglas Warren Shantz (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Businessperson: Douglas Schantz

Douglas Schantz, a self-proclaimed StairMaster champion, is the owner-operator of Nellie’s Sports Bar, which opened on U Street in 2007.

The win this year came as a surprise to Schantz, especially since he’s doing what he loves.

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and Nellie’s allows me to express that,” he says.

Schantz opened the bar, named after his great- and great-great grandmothers, with Rocio Anzola-Mendez after becoming friends when they worked together previously.

“I’m very in touch with my family’s genealogy,” Schantz says about the name, his favorite thing about the bar. “It seemed like a fun and natural fit.”

It’s to be expected that if any of the local teams has a televised game — professional or collegiate — it will be shown at the bar and big events, such as playoff games and tournaments, will be on the stadium-sized viewing screen. There’s no limit to which sports they’ll show.

“Every sport is my favorite to watch, duh,” Schantz says.

The bar also has regular events such as Drag Bingo, Drag Brunch, “Beat-the-Clock” happy hour, “Golden Girls” watch party and more.

Before opening Nellie’s, Schantz worked at advertising agencies in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington. (JE)

Nellie’s Sports Bar
900 U St., N.W.

Brett Johnson, Cobalt, Washington Blade, gay news, Best of Gay D.C.

Best Straight Ally: Brett Johnson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Straight Ally: Brett Johnson

Brett Johnson started working at Level One about three years ago as a server. She steadily worked her way up the ranks becoming a bartender, then assistant manager and finally general manager.

Through her job, she meets and interacts with people all the time.

“A lot of this year has been hard on a lot of my friends and a lot of my clients or customers … we’ve become really close and we’re there for each other … it’s kind of an award that validates everything that happened,” Johnson says. “I really appreciate it. I love the people that voted for me.”

She says that interaction and even the interaction between customers is one of the best parts of working at the restaurant. She once had a friend take a customer to JR.’s because he wanted to go, but didn’t want to go alone.

“They meet the staff and they meet other people sitting at the bar then they feel completely comfortable going upstairs,” Johnson says. “It just builds a community.”

Johnson became interested in LGBT rights in high school when her older brother came out. She started a gay-straight alliance in her high school and worked on a bullying and harassment policy in Omaha, Neb. She’s worked with several organizations through her job at Level One, including the Mautner Project and the Gay Men’s Chorus. (JE)

Level One
1639 R Street, NW



Real Estate

Totally radical home buying

We should celebrate advancement of homeownership rights



The phrase “totally radical” came of age in the 1980s and was defined as cool, wonderful, or awesome. Its synonym, wicked, can be found in nearly all Ben Affleck movies and a cry of “Excellent!” will bring back memories of an adventure had by Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) in 1989.

Although some people are not ready for cocooning yet, homeownership is still a cornerstone of financial strength and wealth building. For LGBTQ individuals, owning a home can provide a sense of economic security and a sanctuary where they can express their personalities freely and without fear of discrimination or harassment. 

Whether house, condominium, or cooperative apartment, owning a place to chill allows you to build a legacy and provide for future generations. It offers the stability needed to plan for the future, whether that involves raising a family, supporting aging parents, or ensuring a spouse’s or partner’s financial security.

Homeowners are also more likely to invest in their communities, fostering strong, inclusive, bitchin’ neighborhoods. For many LGBTQ people, a home is “In the District,” which prides itself on diversity. Homeownership allows individuals to create personal spaces that reflect their identities and values, contribute to the city’s rich cultural tapestry, support local businesses, and participate in community events and governance.

The journey toward homeownership for gay individuals has evolved over the years, reflecting broader societal changes and the struggle for LGBTQ rights. The stark contrast between the ’80s and now highlights the progress made, the challenges that still exist, and future uncertainties brought forth by the space cadets in our political system. 

In the 1980s, homeownership for gay people was bogus. The decade was marked by lame, pervasive discrimination and limited legal protections. The HIV/AIDS epidemic further stigmatized the gay community, intensifying societal prejudices. This climate of fear and hostility permeated various aspects of life, including the housing market.

Gay individuals faced overt discrimination from landlords, real estate agents, and mortgage lenders, even in the rental market. It was not uncommon for same-sex couples to be denied housing simply because of their sexual orientation. Even in the late ’90s I had clients looking for homes in Prince William County, Va., who had to hightail it out of an open house when told to take a hike. I kid you not!

Financial institutions were often unwilling to grant mortgages to same-sex couples or openly gay individuals. When they did, the terms were often less favorable than those offered to heterosexual couples. This made the dream of homeownership significantly harder to achieve, even though DINKs (dual income, no kids) tended to have more household income than so-called “traditional” families.

Additionally, the lack of legal recognition for same-sex relationships posed harsh challenges. Without the ability to marry, same-sex couples faced difficulties in co-owning property and ensuring that their partner had legal rights to the home. Estate planning was complicated, as inheritance laws did not recognize same-sex partners, potentially leading to the loss of a home upon a partner’s death.

The landmark Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, was a fantabulous moment. This ruling provided same-sex couples with the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, including the ability to jointly own property and inherit without complication.

Anti-discrimination laws have also evolved. The definition of sex under the Federal Fair Housing Act has been expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity, as have protected classes in Maryland and Virginia. The District has taken that a step further; our protected classes also include gender expression and personal appearance. 

Organizations like the DC Center for the LGBT Community and the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) offer resources and advocacy for LGBTQ+ homebuyers. These organizations provide educational workshops, networking opportunities, and support to navigate the housing market.

The advancement of homeownership rights for gay people is a testament to the righteous resilience and determination of the LGBTQ+ community. As society continues to strive for equality, it is essential to address the remaining challenges to ensure that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can achieve the goal of homeownership.

In 2024, the only limitations on owning a home are finding one and being able to afford it. Pride weekend is a great time to go to open houses. You’ll probably be walking right by several. 

But if you’re not ready yet and just feel like getting your ’80s jams on, grab your disco balls and check out the Totally Tubular Festival at The Anthem at The Wharf on July 14.I’ll be Desperately Seeking Susan and will, as they used to say in the ’70s, catch you on the flip flop.

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Real Estate

Decorating tips for Pride in D.C.

Perfect time to add a dash of creativity to your living space



Hang your Pride flag and other LGBTQ-themed décor this Pride month. (Washington Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

As the vibrant LGBTQ community in Washington, D.C., gears up for the much-anticipated Pride celebrations on June 8 and June 9, it’s the perfect time to add a splash of color and a dash of creativity to your living space. Normally, I know you’re used to reading more educational and serious articles in this space. In the spirit of D.C. Pride this year, I thought a bit of levity would be welcomed.

Whether you’re in a cozy condo, a spacious home, or a rental apartment, here are some fabulous ways to zhuzh up your indoors and outdoors with Pride-themed décor. 

Indoors: Celebrate with Style

1. Colorful Accents Everywhere

Transform your living area into a festive space by incorporating the colors of the rainbow. Here’s how:

• Throw Pillows and Blankets: Swap out your regular throw pillows and blankets for those in bright, rainbow colors. This simple change can make your space instantly feel more festive.

• Pride Flags: Hang LGBTQ Pride flags on your walls or in your windows. The traditional rainbow flag is a staple, but also consider including other flags like the bisexual, transgender, or pansexual flags to celebrate the diversity of our community.

• Art and Posters: Display Pride-themed art or inspirational quotes from LGBTQ+ icons. Local artists often have prints and posters that reflect the spirit of Pride.

2. Light It Up. Lighting can set the mood for any celebration:

• Fairy Lights: Drape rainbow-colored fairy lights around your living room or bedroom for a magical touch.

• LED Candles: Use multi-colored LED candles to safely add a warm glow to your space.

3. Tabletop Décor. Celebrate at every meal with:

• Tablecloths and Runners: A vibrant rainbow tablecloth or runner can turn every dining experience into a celebration.

• Centerpieces: Create centerpieces with flowers in hues of the rainbow, or use colorful glass bottles as vases.

4. DIY Pride Crafts. Get creative with DIY decorations:

• Rainbow Paper Chains: Make paper chains in rainbow colors and hang them across your rooms.

• Pride Mason Jars: Paint mason jars in rainbow stripes and use them to hold utensils or flowers.

Outdoors: A Festive Façade

1. Balcony or Patio Pride. If you have outdoor space, make it a part of the celebration:

• Rainbow Banners and Streamers: Decorate your balcony or patio railings with rainbow banners and streamers.

• Outdoor Flags: Fly a large Pride flag from your balcony or in your garden.

2. Welcoming Door Décor. Your front door can be a bold statement of support:

• Pride Wreath: Create or buy a wreath featuring rainbow colors or themed around different LGBTQ+ flags.

• Welcome Mats: Greet visitors with Pride-themed welcome mats.

3. Garden and Window Dressings. Let your garden or exterior windows echo your Pride:

• Window Decals: Use removable rainbow decals to decorate windows facing the street.

• Garden Flags: Place small rainbow or other LGBTQ+ flags throughout your garden or in plant pots on your porch.

4. Lighting the Night. Make your outdoor space shine:

• Solar Rainbow Lights: Use solar-powered lights in Pride colors to illuminate pathways or garden borders.

• Projection Lights: Project rainbow patterns or Pride flags onto your home’s exterior.

Community Engagement

1. Share the Spirit. Decorate your shared spaces if you’re in an apartment building:

• Bulletin Boards: Put up colorful notices or flyers announcing local Pride events.

• Community Areas: If possible, decorate communal areas with small flags or posters.

2. Local Pride. Support local LGBTQ businesses by buying decorations or craft supplies from them. This not only helps the community but also promotes local artists and crafters.

Safety and Considerations

• Check with your landlord or HOA: Before hanging decorations outside or in shared areas, make sure to check if there are any restrictions.

• Be Mindful of Neighbors: While celebrating Pride, ensure your decorations are respectful and mindful of your neighbors.

By decorating your home for Pride in Washington, D.C., you’re not just brightening up your living space; you’re showing your support and solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Let your Pride shine brightly, and make this year’s celebrations unforgettable!

Scott Bloom is owner and senior property manager, Columbia Property Management. For more information and resources, visit

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Real Estate

Looking for vacation homes during Memorial Day weekend

A busy, strategic time in the housing market



As summer arrives, more tourists begin thinking of buying in resort towns like Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Memorial Day weekend, a time to honor the sacrifices of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, also marks the unofficial start of summer. Beyond its significance as a day of remembrance, it has become a prime period for the real estate market. The long weekend provides a unique opportunity for home buyers and sellers, making it one of the busiest and most strategic times in the housing market.

Memorial Day weekend is often a time when people head to the beach, the country, or the mountains for relaxation and to join in the local festivities. This long weekend offers a break from routine, a chance to honor those who have served, and an opportunity to enjoy the beginning of warmer weather. 

For real estate agents, however, Memorial Day weekend can be a blend of work and leisure, especially in resort communities where the real estate market is particularly active during this time. 

The influx of visitors to these destinations often includes prospective buyers who are considering purchasing vacation homes or investment properties. As a result, real estate agents in these areas might find themselves balancing work commitments with personal downtime.

We are keenly aware that the long weekend brings a surge in potential clients. Agents joke among themselves about business being slow until they make plans to go out of town. Open houses and community home tours are often scheduled to coincide with the holiday, taking advantage of the increased foot traffic.

Due to constantly improving technology, real estate agents can effectively manage their time and resources even during busy holiday weekends. Virtual tours, online listings, and digital marketing campaigns enable agents to reach a broad audience without always being physically present. Technology also allows agents to stay connected with clients and respond to inquiries promptly, ensuring that the clients do not miss out on potential sales opportunities. 

Often, agents licensed in the DMV are expanding their territories by becoming licensed in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Writing offers while on vacation has become the norm. Social media accounts can highlight special listings and open house events, and agents can also post pictures and descriptions of amenities in the towns they are visiting, attracting interested buyers who are in the area for the weekend.

The vibrant atmosphere of vacation getaway towns during Memorial Day weekend also provides a unique opportunity for networking and relationship-building. Agents can meet potential clients in a casual setting, forging connections that might lead to new business opportunities. They can also form relationships with other agents and create partnerships to help current and future clients find leisure homes.

The appeal of owning a place by the water, for example, is often strongest during the summer months, when the weather is inviting and the potential for rental income is high. Real estate agents who serve beach towns such as Ocean City, Md., Virginia Beach, Va., or Rehoboth Beach, Del., often mix business with pleasure as they seek out new clients.

Alternatively, if the relaxed life in the country is more to your liking, places such as The Amish area of Lancaster County, Pa. may be for you. Charles Town, W.Va., and Ashland, Va. have a robust military history and may be what you’re looking to enjoy. If mountains and lakes are more your style, the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, the Appalachians of West Virginia, or Deep Creek Lake, Md., may fit the bill, so let’s look at a few properties on the market today.

In Ocean City, you can find an oceanfront, one-bedroom condominium with beach and sunset views in a short-term rental building for $439,900. As you can imagine, it already has four weeks booked for the summer.

The historic district of Charles Town, W.Va., offers a 3,000-square-foot Victorian home built in 1890. It has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, 10’ high ceilings, original pocket doors, inlaid floors, and central air conditioning for $159,900. What’s the catch? It requires a complete renovation, but what a wonderful project it could be for weekend warriors.

Stretch your budget a bit more and you can own a 4,000-square-foot chalet with mountain views on both sides in Front Royal, Va. For less than $700,000, you will get four bedrooms and three baths, nearly two acres of land, and low-maintenance siding.

While many people flock to nearby vacation spots purely for relaxation, real estate agents often find themselves working diligently to learn about different areas and capitalize on the increased interest in local properties. By doing so, they can help clients find their dream homes, whether for retirement, short getaways, or investment potential.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed associate broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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