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Arts & Entertainment

Calendar through April 11

Concerts, parties, gatherings and more to kick off your April showers

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Diana Damrau, opera, music, gay news, Washington Blade
Diana Damrau, opera, music, gay news, Washington Blade

Opera singer Diana Damrau performs at the Kennedy Center on Monday night. (Photo by Eric Richmond)

Friday, April 5

Bowen McCauley Dance returns to the Kennedy Center (2700 F St. NW) tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The group, known for its commitment to live music and collaboration, presents some newly commissioned works along with some older ones, including “Before the Fall,” “Fire and Air,” “Tableau de Province” and a tribute to the centennial of Stravinsky’s work, “Le Sacre du Printemps.” Tickets are $36-$40. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

NoVa Gay and Lesbian Professionals host a spring social at the Pinzimini restaurant in the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel (801 N. Glebe Road) this evening at 6 p.m. There is no cover charge. For more information, visit meetup.com/novaglp.

Phase 1(1415 22nd Street, NW) hosts the Isis Deverreoux Drag King Race tonight at midnight. Cover is $5. Visit phase1dupont.com for more details.

MOVA Lounge (2204 14th St., NW) holds its “Catalyst” party with DJs TWiN and Kostas. Cover is $12 at the door. For details, visit cherryfund.org.

Saturday, April 6

Burgundy Crescent members volunteer this morning at Food and Friends (219 Riggs Road, NE) at 8 a.m. Volunteers will help with food preparation and packing groceries. The shifts are limited to 10 per shift. They’ll also be at the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation at Falls Church PetSmart (6100 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, Va.) starting at 11:45 a.m. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Equality Virginia holds its Commonwealth Dinner at the Greater Richmond Convention Center (403 N. Third St., Richmond) this evening at 5 p.m. The night will include a silent auction and an after dinner dance. Attendees must register for the event. For more information, visit equalityvirginia.org.

Blowoff, a gay dance party featuring indie rocker Bob Mould and DJ Richard Morel, takes place tonight at the 9:30 Club (815 V St., NW) at 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. Visit 930.com for more details.

Bob Mould discusses the origins of Blowoff:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2pIa6PA6Qk

Code DC hosts a Cherry edition gear party tonight at 9 p.m. at the Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, NW). For more information, visit greenlanterndc.com.

Sunday, April 7

Victory Fund’s annual National Champagne Brunch takes place today at the Washington Hilton (1919 Connecticut Ave., NW) at 11 a.m. The organization works to elect LGBT leaders to help change America’s politics. Individual tickets range from $150-$200. Visit victoryfund.org for more information.

Monday, April 8

The 29th Helen Hayes Awards takes place this evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Warner Theatre (513 13th St., NW). The award celebrates the achievements of about 80 professional theaters throughout the Washington metropolitan area. Local gay theater professionals are always a big part of the event. Tickets are $400-$2,000. For more information, visit theatrewashington.org.

Opera star Diana Damrau performs for the Washington National Opera Celebrity Opera Series tonight at 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., NW). Damrau will be accompanied by French harpist Xavier de Maistre. Tickets are $40-$180. For details, visit kennedy-center.org.

Diana Damrau:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmOgYjYYX6Q

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., NW) holds coffee drop-in for the senior LGBT community today at 10 a.m.-noon. The Center will provide complimentary coffee and a community to chat with. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Bears do Yoga takes place this evening 6:30 p.m. as part of a series at the Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, NW). This is part of a basic yoga series that takes place every Monday and is open to people of varying body types and experience. There is no charge. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its HIV+ Newly Diagnosed Support Group tonight at 7. It is a confidential support group for anyone recently diagnosed with HIV and the group welcomes all genders and sexual orientations. Registration is required and attendees must call 202-797-3580 or email [email protected]. For details, visit whitman-walker.org.

Tuesday, April 9

Fleetwood Mac performs at the Verizon Center (601 F St., NW) as part of its 2013 tour tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $60-$160. Visit verizoncenter.com for details.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LOCAL LGBT RESOURCES WITH OUR BRAND NEW GUIDE

The 2013 Youth Working Group Reception takes place at MOVA Lounge (22014 14th St., NW) this evening at 5 p.m. The reception provides attendees with the opportunity to meet youth working group members and learn how they work to support the LGBT youth in the area. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

D.C. Bi Women meets tonight at 7 at Dupont Italian Kitchen (1637 17th St., NW) in the upstairs room. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Whitman-Walker (1701 14th St., NW) holds its group Starting Over for Women tonight at 7. The group is for women whose long-term relationship with another woman. Registration is required and attendees must call 202-797-3580 or email [email protected]. For more information, visit whitman-walker.org.

Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, N.W.) hosts its Safer Sex Kit-packing program tonight from 7-10:30. The packing program is looking for more volunteers to help produce the kits because they say they are barely keeping up with demand. Admission is free and volunteers can just show up. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Wednesday, April 10

The Big Gay Book Group meets tonight at 7 p.m. at 1155 F St., NW to discuss “Angels in America: Part II Perestroika” by Tony Kushner. For more information, visit biggaybookgroup.com.

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its HIV+ Newly Diagnosed Support Group tonight at 7. It’s a confidential support group for anyone recently diagnosed with HIV and the group welcomes all genders and sexual orientations. Registration is required and attendees must call 202-797-3580 or email [email protected]. For details, visit whitman-walker.org.

Thursday, April 11

Burgundy Crescent volunteers with this evening with Food and Friends (219 Riggs Road, NE) at 6 p.m. Volunteers will help with food preparation and packing groceries. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

The Lambda Bridge Club meets at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., SE) tonight at 7:30 p.m. No reservations are needed ad newcomers are welcome. For details, visit lambdabridge.com.

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its gay men over 50 support group this evening at 6:30 p.m. The group is for gay men entering a new phase of life. Registration is required to attend. Registration is required and attendees must call 202-797-3580 or email [email protected]. For more information, visit whitman-walker.org.

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Theater

‘Hadestown’ comes to the Kennedy Center

Levi Kreis discusses return to live theater

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Levi Kreis is an out actor who plays Hermes in the national tour of ‘Hadestown’ soon opening at the Kennedy Center. (Photo courtesy of Levi Kreis)

Hadestown
Through Oct. 31
The Kennedy Center
$45.00 – $175.00
Kennedy-center.org
For Covid-19 safety regulations go to Kennedy-center.org/visit/covid-safety/

Early in September at New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre, out singer/actor Levi Kreis was in the audience for the long-awaited Broadway reopening of “Hadestown,” Anaïs Mitchell’s rousing musical reimagining of the Orpheus myth in which the legendary Greek hero descends into the underworld to rescue his lover Eurydice. 

After almost 18 months of pandemic-induced closure, the Tony Award-winning folk opera was back and the house was full. In a recent phone interview, Kreis describes the evening as “love-filled, and electrifying and emotional after such a difficult time.” Now, Kreis is onstage in the national tour of “Hadestown,” currently launching at the Kennedy Center. As Hermes, the shape-shifting god of oratory, Kreis is both narrator and chaperone to the story’s young lovers. 

A Tennessee native, Kreis, 39, has triumphantly survived turbulent times including a harrowingly prolonged coming out experience that included six years of conversion therapy, education disruptions, and music contract losses. He officially came out through his acclaimed album “One of the Ones” (2006), which features a collection of piano vocals about past boyfriends. And four years later, he splendidly won a Tony Award for originating the role of rock and roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in the rockabilly musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” 

Throughout much of the pandemic, Kreis leaned into his own music and found ways to reconnect with his largely gay fan base. But he’s happy to now be touring, noting that all the “Hadestown” cast have been hungering to perform before a real live audience.

When not on the road, he’s based in New York City with his husband, classical-crossover recording artist Jason Antone. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Hermes is the same role for which André De Shields—the brilliant African American actor, also gay, and some decades your elder won a Tony and has resumed playing on Broadway, right?

LEVI KREIS: That’s right. It’s really a testament to the creative team. Rather than laying us over what Broadway created. They’re creating a tour that’s uniquely different; still true to the beauty of the story but with a different flavor. 

BLADE: What attracted you to the part?

KREIS: First, I fell in love with the show. My own musical sensibilities understand the origins of where this music comes from. It’s very bluesy and gospel. Southern and rootsy. And that’s everything I’ve created in my career as a singer/songwriter.

BLADE: With your life experience, do you feel called to mentor?

KREIS: The biggest effort I’ve given to this narrative is being a pioneer of the out-music movement starting in 2005 which was a moment when gay artists were not signed to major labels. I want through eight major labels—when they found out I was gay things always went south. 

It’s been amazing to be a voice in LGBTQ media when no one was speaking about these things. It’s popular now, but back when it mattered it was a lot harder to start my career as an openly gay artist and speak about these issues rather than keep quiet, cash in, and only then come out. 

BLADE: Where did that nerve come from?

KREIS: Less about nerve and more about being beaten down. How many things have to happen before you give up and decide to be honest?  

BLADE: For many theatergoers, “Hadestown” will be their return to live theater. Other than it being visionary and remarkably entertaining, why would you recommend it? 

KREIS: We need encouragement right now. But we also need art that facilitates a lot of important conversation about what’s happening in the world. This has both elements.  

“Hadestown” is not a piece of art that you easily forget. You’re going to walk out of the theater with a story that sticks with you. You’ll realized that your own voice matters. There’s a part in the show, Orpheus’ song, when the gods encourage him to get the balance of the world back again by telling him that his voice matters. 

BLADE: Is it timely?

KREIS: Art is here to change the world. And this piece of art hits the nail right on the head. I’m a purist when it comes to art and song. There’s a reason why we do it. people are listening now in a way they haven’t listened before. To miss that is to miss the role of society, I think. 

BLADE: And going forward? 

KREIS: It’s going to be interesting. We could double down on super commercialized theater or we may decide to really go the other direction and reclaim innovation. That remains to be seen. 

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Books

Book details fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Clinton-era policy was horrific for LGB servicemembers

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‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By C. Dixon Osburn
c.2021, self-published $35 hardcover, paperback $25, Kindle $12.99 / 450 pages

When Senior Airman Brandi Grijalva was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, she talked with a chaplain’s assistant about some problems she had at home. The chaplain’s assistant said what she told him would be confidential. But when she revealed that she was a lesbian, the chaplain’s assistant no longer kept her conversation with him confidential. Grijalva, after being investigated was discharged.

Craig Haack was a corporal in the Marines serving in Okinawa, Japan. Haack, who had made it through boot camp, felt confident. Until investigators barged into his barracks. Looking for evidence “of homosexual conduct,” they ransacked everything from his computers to his platform shoes. Haack was too stunned to respond when asked if he was gay.

In 1996, Lt. Col. Steve Loomis’ house was burned down by an Army private. The Army discharged the private who torched Loomis’ house. You’d think the Army would have supported Loomis. But you’d be wrong. The army discharged Loomis for conduct unbecoming an officer because a fire marshal found a homemade sex tape in the ashes.

These are just a few of the enraging, poignant, at times absurd (platform shoes?), all-too-true stories told in “Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by C. Dixon Osburn.

As a rule, I don’t review self-published books. But “Mission Possible” is the stunning exception that proves that rules, on occasion, are made to be broken.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was the official U.S. policy on gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving in the military. Former President Bill Clinton announced the policy on July 19, 1993. It took effect on Feb. 28, 1994.

Sexual orientation was covered by DADT. Gender identity was covered by separate Department of Defense regulations.

Congress voted to repeal DADT in December 2010 (the House on Dec. 15, 2010, and the Senate on Dec. 18, 2010). On Dec. 22, 2010, Former President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law. 

DADT banned gay, lesbian and bisexual people who were out from serving in the U.S. military. Under DADT, it was not permitted to ask if servicemembers were LGB. But, LGB servicemembers couldn’t be out. They couldn’t talk about their partners, carry photos of their girlfriends or boyfriends or list their same-sex partner as their emergency contract.

It took nearly a year for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to go into effect. On Sept. 20, 2011, Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “certified to Congress that implementing repeal of the policy {DADT} would have no effect on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion or recruiting and retention,” Osburn writes.

Before DADT, out LGBT people weren’t permitted to serve in the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was intended to be a compromise—a policy that would be less onerous on LGB people, but that would pass muster with people who believed that gay servicemembers would destroy military readiness, morale and unit cohesion.

Like many in the queer community, I knew that DADT was a horror-show from the get-go. Over the 17 years that DADT was in effect, an estimated 14,000 LGB servicemembers were discharged because of their sexual orientation, according to the Veterans Administration.

But, I had no idea how horrific “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was until I read “Mission Possible.”              

In “Mission Possible,” Osburn, who with Michelle Benecke, co-founded the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), pulls off a nearly impossible hat trick.

In a clear, vivid, often spellbinding narrative, Osburn tells the complex history of the DADT-repeal effort as well as the stories of servicemembers who were pelted with gay slurs, assaulted and murdered under DADT.

Hats off to SLDN, now known as the Modern Military Association of America, for its heroic work to repeal DADT! (Other LGBTQ+ organizations worked on the repeal effort, but SLDN did the lion’s share of the work.)

You wouldn’t think a 450-pager about repealing a policy would keep you up all night reading. But, “Mission Possible” will keep you wide-awake. You won’t need the espresso.

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Arts & Entertainment

NSYNC star Lance Bass & husband Michael Turchin welcome twins

Singer, husband, and popular West Hollywood nightclub owner, now adds the job of ‘Dad’ to his resume

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Lance Bass and Michael Turchin via Instagram

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Former boy-band NSYNC star and co-owner of the popular LGBTQ+ nightspot Rocco’s, Lance Bass, announced that he and husband Michael Turchin are the proud parents of twins, Violet Betty and Alexander James.

In his announcement on Instagram, Bass wrote; ‘The baby dragons have arrived!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ I can not express how much love I feel right now. Thank you for all the kind wishes. It meant a lot. Now, how do you change a diaper??! Ahhhhhhhh!”

The babies were carried via surrogate, the singer noted saying that Alexander, born one minute before his sister on Wednesday, weighed 4 lbs., 14 oz. Violet weighed 4 lbs., 11 oz. Bass said in his Instagram post.

His husband also announced the news on his Instagram account. “Introducing the newest members of the Turchin-Bass household: Violet Betty and Alexander James!!!! They’re pure perfection and yes that includes the dozens of poops we’ve already dealt with. Our hearts our full!!! Thank you everyone for the well wishes 🥰🥰🥰”

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