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Calendar: events through Nov. 8

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Ba'Naka, Drag, gay news, Washington Blade
Ba'Naka, Drag, gay news, Washington Blade

Ba’Naka (Dustin Schaad), this year’s winner for the third consecutive year in the Blade’s annual Best of Gay D.C. contest, is shown getting ready for a performance at Town in this photo from Michael Lang. It’s part of his exhibit ‘Drag Illusion’ on display at Touchstone Gallery all month. (Photo by Michael Lang, courtesy of Touchstone Gallery)

TODAY (Friday) 

The opening reception of The Drag Illusion is at 6 p.m. today at Touchstone Gallery (901 New York Ave., NW). The exhibit features a photo essay about drag queens and the illusion they create. It will run through Nov. 25. For details, visit touchstonegallery.com.

Phase 1 (528 8th St. SE) has its weekly dance party with DJ Jay Von Teese tonight starting at 7:30 p.m. Cover is $10. For more information, visit phase1dc.com.

Happy hour at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) is from 11-midnight tonight. Vodka is free for that hour. Visit cobaltdc.com for more information.

The Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) is having its happy hour this evening starting at 5 p.m. All drinks are half off until 7:30 p.m. After 11 p.m., admission is $5. For details, visit thebachelorsmill.com.

Saturday, Nov. 3

The D.C./Maryland/Virginia Gay-Straight Alliance & LGBTQA Youth Conference is in School Without Walls Senior High School (2130 G St NW) today from 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. The conference is for Gay-Straight Alliance club members and advisors.

The D.C. Center (1318 U St NW) is holding its first Center Global Meeting at noon today. The meetings focus on international LGBT issues, including the difficulties facing binational LGBT couples and how to help LGBT asylum seekers in the area. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Reel Affirmations Film Festival is having a two-for-one ticket deal today for the films “Welcome to New York” and “Gayby.” Tickets are $10. The films will be shown at the Goethe Institut (812 7th St NW) at 9 p.m. For more information, visit reelaffirmations.org.

The first Saturday of every month is Rumba night at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.). The night starts at 10 p.m. and features special performances, themes and gogo dancers. For more information, visit cobaltdc.com.

Willam, Detox and Vicky Vox, the drag queens behind the Chick-fil-A inspired song “Chow Down,” perform at Town Danceboutique (2009 8th St NW) tonight at 10:30 p.m. Cover is $8 before 11 p.m. and $12 after. For more information, visit towndc.com.

Sunday, Nov. 4

The Reel Affirmations Film Festival is showing two trans-themed films back-to-back today, “Trans” and “Mathi(eu),” at the Carnegie Institution for Science (1530 P St NW) at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit reelaffirmations.org.

In the spirit of Halloween, the Washington Ballet’s final performance of “Dracula” is at 1:30 p.m. today at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St NW). Tickets start at $25. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) holds its weekly Martini Sundays and Homowood Karaoke tonight. Karaoke starts at 10 p.m. and there is no charge for admission. For details, visit cobaltdc.com.

Monday, Nov. 5

The first Monday of every month is volunteer night at the D.C. Center (1318 U St NW). Socialize and enjoy pizza and a raffle while helping the community from 6:30-8:30 p.m. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Justin Bieber plays the Verizon Center (601 F St NW) at 7 p.m. tonight. For tickets and information, visit ticketmaster.com.

Martini Monday at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) includes no cover and $5 martinis, starting at 10 p.m. tonight. Visit cobaltdc.com for more details.

Tuesday, Nov. 6

Election Day features races for president, 33 senate seats and all House seats as well as several gubernatorial and state legislature races, making this an important election year. Additionally, four states, including Maryland, have same-sex marriage initiatives on the ballot. If approved, Maryland’s Question 6 would give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry there. Polls are open in D.C. and Maryland from 7 a.m.-8 p.m and in Virginia from 6 a.m.-7 p.m.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W) is hosting its weekly Flashback night with music from the ‘70s, ‘80 and the early ‘90s, starting at 10 p.m. There is no cover charge. For more details, visit cobaltdc.com.

Wednesday, Nov. 7

Smart Ass at Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St NW) features two trivia games starting at 8 and 9 p.m. Teams compete for reduced tabs and other prizes. For details, visit smartassdc.com.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W) holds its weekly Wednesday Karaoke night tonight.No cover. The night begins at 10 p.m. The nightly special is $5 Absolute and flavored Smirnoff. For more details, visit cobaltdc.com.

Lambda Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., SE) for social bridge. Newcomers are welcome. For more information, visit lambdabridge.com.

The Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) is hosting drag bingo starring Jasmine from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. tonight. Admission is free. For more information, visit bachelorsmill.com.

Thursday, Nov. 8

Outserve Military Night at Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St NW) has drink specials from 8 p.m. until closing with a military ID. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

The Dupont Circle branch of EagleBank (1228 Connecticut Ave NW) is sponsoring a networking event for the Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Camber of Commerce (CAGLCC). The event is free for CAGLCC members and $25 for non-members. For information and to pre-register, visit caglcc.org

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W) is hosting its weekly Best Package Contest tonight at 9 p.m. There is a $3 cover and there are $2 vodka drinks. Participants in the contest can win $200 in cash prizes. The event is hosted by Lena Lett and music by DJ Chord, DJ Madscience, and DJ Sean Morris. For details, visit cobaltdc.com.

The “freak folk” group CocoRosie plays the 9:30 Club (815 V St NW) at 10 p.m. Tickets are $20. For tickets and information, visit ticketfly.com.

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Sports

Four Olympics, 13 years, and now a Gold Medal for Tom Daley

“I hope any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone. You can achieve anything.”

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British Olympic Diving Duo Matty Lee and Tom Daley (Photo Credit: Daley Instagram)

TOKYO – Standing there on the podium with tears forming in his eyes, a masked for Covid-19 British Olympic diver Tom Daley saw his dreams of Olympic Gold finally come true Monday. Watching a live-stream of the event intently, at the moment Daley secured his victory, Tom’s husband, writer Lance Black and Tom’s mother took in the results and jumped up screaming in joy.

Daley along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee won the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving on Monday at Tokyo 2020 narrowly besting the defending champions, China’s Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen by just 1.23 points.

“I still can’t honestly believe what is happening,” Daley told BBC Sport. “That moment, being about to be announced as Olympic champions, I was gone. I was blubbering.” 

Daley tells young LGBTQ people: “You can achieve anything”

Later at a press conference, Daley, an openly gay athlete talked about the experience of being gay and at the games;

“In terms of out athletes, there are more openly out athletes at these Olympic Games than any Olympic Games previously. I came out in 2013 and when I was younger I always felt like the one that was alone and different and didn’t fit. There was something about me that was never going to be as good as what society wanted me to be. I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone. You can achieve anything.”

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Books

Drew Pisarra’s ‘dangerously funny and queerly inventive brain’

‘You’re Pretty Gay’ shatters expectations and social mores

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Drew Pisarra’s ‘You’re Pretty Gay’ is just out from Chaffinch Press.

Is there anything more absurd than this, wondered gay poet and writer Drew Pisarra.  Pisarra, then, was an assistant to a paralegal at a toothpaste company.

Fiercely protective of the pattern on its toothpaste, they wrote letters to rivals who, they felt, were infringing on their copyright.

Even when their competitors were in countries in the middle of a civil war, “They would write back, ‘we can’t respond now, we’re in a war,’” Pisarra said.

But that didn’t soften the heart of the toothpaste company. They’d insist that “this most important matter be dealt with as soon as the war ends,” Pisarra said.

If you think that authors don’t encounter the absurdity and grit of everyday life or that all writers do is drink coffee (or sip stronger libations) while looking at the sunset, you haven’t met Pisarra.

Pisarra, 56, whose new short story collection “You’re Pretty Gay” is just out from Chaffinch Press, has worked at everything from ventriloquism to domestic work.

The word “unique” is so hackneyed that it’s a cliche to say it’s a cliche. But there’s no other way to describe “You’re Pretty Gay.”

This collection “is a prime example of Drew Pisarra’s dangerously funny and queerly inventive brain,” said Kevin Sampsell, author of “This Is Between Us.” “Each story is its own performance, its own shattering of expectations and social mores.”

Pisarra, who lives in Manhattan, gives readers a mosaic of wit, surrealism,  sex, queerness, memory, mortality and self-discovery.

In “You’re Pretty Gay,” there are gay bars in New York and New Orleans.

You’ll find everything from adolescent bullies fighting over a rare caterpillar to a character taking an AIDS test and, later, meeting up with Mrs. Claus.  

“Mrs. Claus I didn’t even know you were alive,” says the narrator of “Arctic Chill.” “I didn’t even know you were real. I haven’t received a gift from you or your husband in ten years.”

Another of Pisarra’s tales revolves around a trip to hell. “I love traveling,” says the narrator of “The Hat from Hell, “I got this hat when I was in Hell back in 1992.”

In “Granny,” siblings gather after their mother’s death. “All anyone could remember of her was that chair, how she sat in it for the last 40 years,” Pisarra writes, “immobile as ‘Jeopardy’ and the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ glared at her night after night.”

Pisarra’s characters yearn to find love, sex, and who they really are.

“In my quest to bed mankind, I tended to avoid perfection’s rejection,” says the narrator of “Every Man for Myself.”

Pisarra, whose first short story collection “Publick Spanking” was published in 1996, was born in Orange, N.J. When he was in the third grade, he moved to Maryland. There, except for living in Oxon Hill for a year, he grew up in Silver Spring.

When Pisarra was growing up, being gay wasn’t even remotely on the horizon. “There was such denial in the culture then,” Pisarra said.

From early on, he had feelings for men. “I had a crush on a boy in kindergarten,” Pisarra said.

He consulted books and a priest, which wasn’t helpful. They said he’d grow out of it.

“As a teenager, I recognized that I hadn’t outgrown it,” Pisarra said.

Pisarra was a college freshman when he came out. “I sobbed the night I came out,” he said.

He was out in college, Pisarra said, “but I wasn’t getting laid.” That changed when he moved to New Orleans after college.

Pisarra graduated from Hofstra University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in theater.

In college, a professor had the students sit in a circle. Then, the teacher told them how she thought they’d be cast. 

“She told me, ‘you’re a grotesque,’”Pisarra said, “‘You won’t work until you’re in your fifties. Because your face and body don’t match.’”

Pisarra was relieved to hear this. His sense of relief was related to being a young gay man in the late 1980s.

“I wasn’t interested in being closeted,” Pisarra said, “I wrote. I wanted to perform.  I wasn’t interested in conforming.”

Since then, Pisarra has been creating – performing and writing his own material. Some of the stories in “You’re Pretty Gay” were originally created for the stage.

“I don’t write that often,” Pisarra said, “I started writing the stories in ‘You’re Pretty Gay’ 20 years ago.”

A prodigious reader, Pisarra has always “written to some degree,” he said.

Pisarra got turned on to writing poetry when he went to a meeting of a gay and lesbian writers group.

“There were, like, 10 people in this apartment,” Pisarra said, “there was a terrible woman sitting next to me.”

He would have dropped out of the group, if he hadn’t met writer Mare Davis, now his close friend.  

“I said to her, ‘I never want to see any of these people again except you,’” Pisarra said, “She inspired me to get into poetry.”

Davis wrote the introduction to Pisarra’s poetry collection “Infinity Standing Up” (Capturing Fire Press).

Released in 2019, the volume of sexy, playful sonnets received glowing reviews from the Washington Post, the Blade and other outlets.

“Devour me! Think me not some crazy nut!,” Pisarra writes in one of his sonnets.

With lines like these, he gives Shakespeare a run for his money.

Pisarra has held a variety of jobs – many of which have involved the arts. He has helped homeless people with mental health issues to find housing.

“I ran a writers group for them,” Pisarra said, “I encouraged a super-talented woman to send her work out.”

The woman and Pisarra submitted their work to the same magazine. “Her work was accepted. Mine wasn’t,” he said, “I was thrilled!”

In an unusual career twist, Pisarra, who received a literary grant from the Café Royal Cultural Foundation, toured a ventriloquist act entitled “Singularly Grotesque.” He created the act after the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art commissioned him to develop a new solo piece.

“I was wandering around the library aisles and I found two (self-help) pamphlets on talking with ‘multiple’ selves,’” Pisarra said, “and I thought this is ventriloquism in a nutshell.”

Pisarra hadn’t watched much TV.  But that didn’t keep him from interviewing with AMC to be its director of digital media.

“I thought why not,” Pisarra said, “it would be a chance to see what else is out there in the world.”

He worked on the websites for “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.”  “It was a pleasure to be part of the online team for these cultural phenomena!” Pisarra said.

With Molly Gross, Pisarra co-founded Saint Flashlight. In this project, he and Gross find inventive ways to get poetry into public spaces.

One of the project’s most innovative efforts has been putting haiku on movie marquees.  It’s fun to see people, looking up, counting the syllables, Pisarra said. You sweat when you put the letters up on the marquee, he added.

“It’s part of the fun! It makes you feel like you’re making something matter,” Pisarra said.

He doesn’t want poetry to be confined to “The New Yorker.”  “It should push the envelope,” Pisarra said, “It’s not just for the upper crust.”

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Out & About

Calendar: July 23-29

Events in the week to come

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‘Stepping OUT on Faith’ features speakers addressing their interfaith spiritual experiences of the AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed on the National Mall 1987. (File photo courtesy of the NAMES Project Foundation)

Friday, July 23

Friday Tea Time and social for older LGBTQ adults will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. You are welcome to bring your own beverage. For access to the Zoom link, email [email protected].

“Trans Support Group” will be hosted on Zoom at 7 p.m. This event is intended to provide emotionally and physically safe space for transgender people and those who may be questioning their gender identity/expression to join in community and learn from one another.  All who identify under the trans umbrella or are unsure, and seek to continually reinforce principles of respect, acceptance, and protection through ongoing input from our attendees are welcome.

Saturday, July 24

The “Gay District Meeting” will be at 8 p.m. via Zoom. Gay District is a community-based organization focused on building understanding of gay culture and personal identity, awareness of community events and civil rights for gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and inter-sexed men between the ages of 18 and 35 in the D.C. metropolitan area. For more information, visit gaydistrict.org

Join the DC Center in volunteering at Food & Friends from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 219 Riggs Road, N.E. Food and Friends prepares and delivers meals and groceries to people living with HIV, cancer, and other life challenging illnesses. Up to five volunteers are needed every month. If you need a ride from the Fort Totten Metro, call the Food and Friends shuttle at 202- 669-6437.

Sunday, July 25

“Crafternoons with Shop Made in DC!” will be at 12 p.m. at 1353 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. Guests are encouraged to bring a project or come and make one at Shop Made in DC’s classroom table. There will be various art supplies available. For more information, visit Eventbrite.

Monday, July 26

The Center Aging Coffee Drop-in will be at 10 a.m. at the DC Center. LGBT Older Adults and friends are invited for friendly conversations and current issues that you might be dealing with. For more information visit Center Aging’s Facebook or website.

Tuesday, July 27

Join Center Faith for Intersectional Faith Forums at 7 p.m. online. In this Forum, attendees will hear from panelists who participated in the LGBT history event “Stepping OUT on Faith” in 2014. These pioneers will speak about their interfaith spiritual experiences of the AIDS Memorial Quilt of the Names Project Foundation displayed on the National Mall 1987 that led to establishing Center Faith. For more information, visit Center Faith’s Facebook page.

Genderqueer DC support group will be on Zoom at 7 p.m. All those who identify as bigender, agender, genderfluid, or are not 100% cisgender are welcome to attend. For more information visit genderqueerdc.org or Genderqueer DC’s Facebook

Wednesday, July 28

Join the DC Center for its virtual job club, 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. The event begins on Zoom at 6 p.m. For more information, email [email protected]

Friendship Place’s LGBTQ+ will host the final session of a free webinar series titled “Advocacy, Resistance, and LGBTQ+ Resilience” at 12 p.m. This event will be a panel conversation focused on the vital work of advocacy and resistance to ensure access and rights for the LGBTQ+ community. The panel will also touch on the importance of self-care in the work of advocacy and resilience that comes from community. For more information, visit capitalpride.org.

Thursday, July 29

“Queer Book Club” will be at 7 p.m. via Skype. This month’s book discussion will be “Black Boy Out of Time” by Hari Ziyad. If you are interested in participating, please email [email protected]

The Mayor’s Office will host a “Veterans Roundtable” on Thursday, July 29 at 12 p.m. This event aims to connect the District’s veterans with information, resources, and organizations that may be beneficial to a successful military transition. 

It will be an informal discussion that revolves around varying topics including housing, employment, healthcare, and legal services. Upon conclusion of the discussion, all resource providers in attendance offer feedback on any topics discussed or how they can assist the veteran or their family in a positive capacity.

The event will be hosted in person and will highlight BIPOC Veteran Mental Health Awareness with speakers from the DC VA Medical Center. For more information, visit Eventbrite.

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