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Queery: Jack Harrison-Quintana

The Task Force policy institute manager answers 20 gay questions



Jack Harrison-Quintana, NGLTF, gay news, Washington Blade
Jack Harrison-Quintana, NGLTF, gay news, Washington Blade

Jack Harrison-Quintana (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Jack Harrison-Quintana is a great example of someone willing to start at the bottom to get a foot in the proverbial door.

He started as an unpaid intern at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force shortly after finishing his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University and is now the Task Force’s policy institute manager where he worked on a national transgender discrimination survey and several other books and projects.

“One of the most important things is just showing up and being in the room and holding on as long as you can,” he says. “That’s the track I took and it definitely worked.”

On Tuesday, he’ll be a panelist at “Opening Dialogue & Challenging Assumptions,” a discussion of LGBT youth and homelessness at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church at 4201 Albemarle St., N.W., from 6-8 p.m. Calvin Gerald, Ruby Corado and Brian Watson will also be on the panel. RSVP to [email protected] if you plan to attend.

Harrison-Quintana, a 26-year-old Signal Mountain, Tenn., native who says he “oscillates between gay, bi and queer” in terms of his own identity, says trans work is his biggest passion in the world of LGBT activism. His first serious relationship was with a person who transitioned shortly after they broke up from male to female and he’s had other close relationships, he says, with trans people. It led, in part, to his work for about five months in 2007 in Cambodia where he helped women activists there clean up their English on grant applications to the U.S. and the U.K. He started the aforementioned survey project at the National Center for Transgender Equality upon returning, then went to the Task Force, which was jointly working on the project with NCTE.

Harrison-Quintana is single and lives in Columbia Heights. He enjoys reading, Dungeons & Dragons, live theater and collecting and watching “My Little Pony” in its current fourth generation reboot which he says is refreshingly broad in its queer perspective.

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

I came out when I was 14.  It was pretty smooth; nobody was surprised.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Transmasculine forefathers like Jack Bee Garland and Lou Sullivan; Chicana feminists, Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa; and my mentor and best friend, Dr. Jaime M. Grant.

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

I spend a lot of time at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, especially on She.Rex night, which is my favorite D.C. party.

Describe your dream wedding.

I’m more likely just to have a really fun party but I’ll have some delicious fluffy cake. Oh, and there will be toasts. I like toasts.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Racial justice and D.C. statehood, which of course aren’t mutually exclusive.

What historical outcome would you change?

Colonization of the global south; genocide of indigenous people; partition of the Korean peninsula. How many do I get to pick?

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

The release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” It came out while I was working at a feminist organization in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and only one bookstore in the city had it. We had to wait until the moment it was released in London and I was leaving on a short jaunt to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, just hours after that so right after the doors opened and we all hurried to get our copy, I ran all the way across town and boarded the bus on which I read it and openly wept the entire ride.

On what do you insist?

The existence of male bisexuality.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“I love an ensemble cast.” –@jch59

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

“Tabletop Whimsy: The Jack Harrison-Quintana Story”

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

Laugh at the people who think heterosexuals have more fun.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

The collective unconscious.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Invest first and foremost in mentoring your own replacement; prioritize the leadership of people of color and trans folks.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

The chance to have seen Kate Bush live at the Hammersmith Odeon; the ability to visit Hong Kong in 1969.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That queer men and queer women don’t mingle.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

John Greyson’s “Zero Patience” (1993)

What’s the most overrated social custom?


What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Now that is a good question. And kind of an embarrassing one, but I’ll be honest and say The Task Force’s own Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement given at Creating Change every year.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

I was a pretty smart kid, but I wish I’d known that I’d be so much happier with Zoloft.

Why Washington?

Not too big, not too small.

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  1. Cynthia M. Burke

    April 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    What a great piece, Jack! Love it and LOVE you!

  2. Angela Garson

    April 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Fabulous interview! Smart, witty, and provocative; just like you!

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Real Estate

Leather and lace in your home decor

From couches to countertops, add some flair



Leather isn’t just for couches anymore; you can find it in countertops and a wide range of décor.

When I was very young, I would visit my maternal grandmother and marvel at the hand-tatted and crocheted doilies that adorned the arms and backs of her sofa and chairs. They were also found on her dressers and side tables, and on the dining table as coasters and placemats, to prevent scratches on the furniture. Like snowflakes, the designs of the doilies were both intricate and individual.

I’m convinced that people had better posture in the early 20th century, because I never saw the remnants of men’s hair tonic, Macassar oil, or pomade on Nana’s doilies, even though they were there to keep the furniture from absorbing those hair products. Certainly, people weren’t the couch potatoes lounging on sofas then that we are today. Being able to Netflix and chill was a long way off.

I was impressed with the amount of work that had gone into such a little piece of fabric, so I later tried to learn to crochet. Sadly, all I was able to accomplish was string after string, never having been taught how to join those strings together to resemble a doily. At least with knitting, I was able to form squares large enough to be blankets for my Barbie.

In my mid-century childhood, doilies were put away and saved for grandchildren who, years later, would neither want them nor appreciate their historical value. The ‘50s saw polyvinyl chloride (PVC) go from a commercial substance used frequently in post-WWII construction to a residential fabric that we now refer to fondly as “pleather.” I can still remember the sound of my thighs peeling off the vinyl banquette at the diner when I would get up to leave a booth.

To be without a leather couch in the ‘60s was déclassé and, although styles have changed, such a couch remains a timeless piece. These days, if you are looking for a little more leather in your life and in your home, you can look beyond that couch and chair, where options range from the subdued to the highly decorative.

While vinyl is still the least expensive leather-look fabric, we now have “bonded” leather, made with scraps that are bonded together using polyurethane or latex. As you can tell from the prices of such furniture, the actual leather used in the process can vary from 10-90 percent.

Of course, top grain leather is the most expensive, and we have suede, die cut, embossed, patent, and a variety of other techniques used to change the look of a hide. In addition, there is now vegan leather.

For something unique for your kitchen or bar, check out the tooled leather countertop from Kosel Saddlery ( in Montana. They also make saddles and chaps.

Instead of the shiny granite counters that we all know, MSI Surfaces ( makes honed and leathered granite finishes for a more subtle appearance and has dealers throughout the DMV. 

For a do-it-yourself application, Amazon sells the Aspect brand eight-pack of leather glass, peel and stick subway tiles for backsplashes in five neutral colors for less than $20 each.

EcoDomo ( in Gaithersburg offers a variety of custom leather treatments, including countertops, door and cabinet panels, floor planks and tiles, and wall systems. Your color choices aren’t limited to black or brown either. They can manufacture pieces in blue, red, green, and even in custom colors to match other items in your décor.

Many online stores such as Wayfair and Overstock carry real and faux leather headboards, footstools, poufs and benches at affordable prices. 

There’s always something in leather at Pottery Barn, even for the conservative budget: pieced leather pillows, tufted stools, basket collections, and even a leather-bound coffee table book for cigar aficionados. 

If you’re looking for small accent pieces, try a leather coaster, placemat, napkin ring, or my personal favorite, a cutlery pouch for your tableware collection from Lucrin Geneva ( They also offer office accessories such as crocodile desk sets, wastebaskets and storage boxes.

And for the connoisseur of leather, vinyl, rubber, or even neoprene items of a more personal nature, head to the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency this Friday through Sunday for Mid-Atlantic Leather weekend. With plenty of specialty items, high-impact fashion, toys and games for all ages and yes, even custom-made furniture among the vendor exhibitions, you’re sure to find something that will tickle your fancy.

Just remember that you (and your puppy) must both be vaccinated and masked to attend. We take COVID (and rabies) very seriously here in D.C.

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

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Winter Restaurant Week a welcome escape from the cold

Enjoy D.C.’s diverse culinary scene at great prices



KNEAD Hospitality + Design’s Gatsby is among the hotspots participating in this year’s RAMW Winter Restaurant Week. (Photo courtesy of KNEAD Hospitality + Design)

Saving Washington, D.C. diners from winter doldrums, RAMW Winter Restaurant Week is back in action. It returns Jan. 17-23 with the motto of “Dine Out. Take Out. Eat Up.”

The city’s signature winter dining event is back as a one-week promotion focused on dining out and tasting the city’s diverse culinary scene. Yet it also is providing diners with newer programs that they have grown to love over the past few cycles. These include the popular “RW-To-Go” takeout dinner meals, outdoor dining spaces, as well as cocktail pairings, allowing diners to take advantage of a range of indoor/outdoor comfort levels and dining opportunities.

Participating restaurants are set to offer multi-course brunch and lunch menus for $25 per person, and multi-course dinner menus for $40 or $55 per person for on-premises dining. Most are offering the traditional three-course meals, while others may include extras.

Many restaurants will also offer the RW-To-Go dinner meals, a program introduced in 2019, available at two price points: $70 or $100 for two people and $140 or $200 for four people.

More than 200 restaurants across the area are participating. 

“Our restaurants have shown resilience, creativity, and perseverance over the past two years, and they continue to count on the amazing support of loyal diners and newcomers through promotions like Restaurant Week,” said RAMW President & CEO Kathy Hollinger. “Designed to get diners out to experience all our great food scene has to offer, we have evolved this turnkey promotion to help meet diners where they are in terms of comfort. With offerings to include RW-To-Go, curbside pickup and delivery, heated patios, cozy igloos and indoor dining, there is truly something for anyone looking to support their favorite spot or try something new.”

New restaurants participating in Winter Restaurant Week include Ala, Bar Chinois, Bistro Du Jour, The Mayflower Club, Officina Cafe, Penny Royal Station, and Urban Roast in the District; Diabolo’s Cantina at MGM and Rosa Mexicano at National Harbor; North Italia Tysons; and the newest The Capital Grille location in Fairfax.

2021 RAMMYS Winners and finalists participating include Convivial, Cranes (also Michelin-starred), Espita, Estadio, iRicchi, and Sababa. 

In the 14th Street and Dupont Circle areas, popular participating restaurants include Agora, Cork, Duke’s, Floriana, and Sushi Taro, among others. 

Winter Restaurant Week also extends beyond core neighborhoods, stretching far past the city’s borders. Areas like Takoma Park and Bethesda in Maryland, and Alexandria and National Landing in Virginia, are also hosting participating restaurants. 

Some spots are offering additional deals, extended timelines, and other options. “I’m excited about the creativity of our local restaurants,” says Hollinger, “with their offers and spaces that give diners great experiences during the promotion, and the flexibility to dine in the way that works for them whether indoor, in heated outdoor dining spaces or at home with our Restaurant Week To-Go program.”

For example, Ambar (both the D.C. and Clarendon locales) will have a $70 seven-course to-go menu for two people. The deal includes a bottle of wine in addition to the food. 

Schlow Restaurant Group has a $40 gift card for more than three meals at any of its restaurants, including NAMA Sushi Bar and TICO in D.C. and Alta Strada Italian Restaurants in D.C. and Fairfax. 

James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schlow says, “This is a great way for Restaurant Week diners to experience more of our menu offerings, and perhaps explore some of our restaurants they haven’t tried yet. Plus, with [our] Restaurant Week extended an additional week through Jan. 30, there’s ample time to dine.”

Gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design group is involving all its restaurants in the promotion. The group’s restaurants include Gatsby, Mi Vida, The Grill, and more. Owner Jason Berry notes that he is “excited to participate in this year’s winter restaurant week. Each year Restaurant Week brings new diners to our doors to experience the creativity and talent our staff continues to showcase at our restaurants.”

Recall that the city has reinstated mask mandates for indoor spaces. In addition, On Jan. 15, 2022, per Mayor’s Order 2021-148, the District of Columbia adopts a citywide vaccination entry requirement that requires COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor facilities within the city. This includes restaurants and bars.

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Real Estate

What to know if you’re buying or selling in 2022

Research interest rates, contractors now before spring arrives



Spring will be here before you know it so prepare for buying and selling a home now.

The years 2020 and 2021 were wild on the books for real estate. Many successfully sold a house, bought a house, or sold a smaller residence and bought a larger one due to the new “needs” that they realized they had.  

After a year or more of staying home, working from home, dining out (at home), studying from home, many just realized they needed a different home than the one they were sitting in.  Many experts are saying that 2022 might be the year we go back to our “normal cycles” in real estate. If that is the case, then what does that mean?  

It means that right now, first time buyers can find deals on one- or two-bedroom condos that are sitting on the market, and the single family home market is going to be ramping up in the spring, when more buyers are out in the streets and more homes are getting ready to go on the market. So, if you are thinking of selling this year, you might already need to be calling painters, carpenters, and other contractors to do those little projects that make a home ready for photographs and to be shown in its best light. Now that the holidays are over, many of the contractors we hire start getting calls, and their schedules start to fill up. As a Compass agent, we have the “Concierge” program that helps sellers to finance, at zero interest, projects that spruce up their home, and then it gets paid back when the home sells. I know other brokerages have some similar programs, also. 

If you are going to buy a home this year, you might want to seriously look at how long homes have been sitting in the market in the neighborhoods that interest you. If the “days on market” are more than 20, 30, 40 or even 50 days, this might be your time to strike. Call a local lender or two and see what interest rate you can get and how much you can get approved for a loan. Interest rates could be going up this year, so you might want to get this done in the first half of the year, if your current situation allows.  

At any rate, if you are thinking of making a move this year, feel free to sign up for one of my homebuyer seminars, or give me (or your favorite Realtor) a call and find out what you need to do to get ready to make this move.

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at [email protected] or 703-587-0597.

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