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Queery: Daniel L. Hays

Legislative analyst by day, drag performer by night

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Daniel Hays, Muffy Blake Stephyns, gay news, Washington Blade
Daniel Hays, Muffy Blake Stephyns, gay news, Washington Blade

Daniel L. Hays a.k.a. Muffy Blake Stephyns (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When Daniel L Hays moved to the Washington area in 2006 to take a job as a legislative analyst with the U.S. Department of Labor, he thought the drag he’d done back in his native Missouri was behind him.

And for his first few years in D.C., that was the case.

“I called my drag family in, said, ‘Here’s all my stuff,’ and they basically took it all. I thought I was done,” Hays says. “I just didn’t think I’d ever do it again. But I met up with the Bottoms clan and they had seen photos of what I’d done before so that’s when it started up again in about 2010.”

Known these days as Muffy Blake Stephyns — she had different last names in different iterations — Hays says drag is both a way to unwind and give something back.

“I love that I can be involved and bring awareness to other groups through charity shows,” he says.

That’s exactly how it started with his work with the Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance (AGLA). The group has its Miss Gay Arlington pageant tonight at 8 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd Street, Arlington; $10 cover) where contestants will be judged in several categories in an event dubbed “The Glittery Rainbow Connection.” Reigning Miss Gay Arlington Stardust will be honored and a prize package valued at $900 is at stake. Details are available at agla.org.

Miss Gay Arlington started in 2011. Hays, crowned in January as Miss Gay Zodiac in the Academy of Washington, says it’s a way to “increase awareness and activities of AGLA events with a different demographic of people.”

Hays, 38, and his partner Patrick Frieslander, live in Old Town Alexandria with their two cats Xena and Cleo. He enjoys politics, drag, singing, antiques, travel and LGBT activism in his free time.

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

I have been totally out since 2004, though most responded with, “Yes, I know.”  2004 is when “the conversation” was had with my father. My father was the hardest to tell, in large part because he is a Southern Baptist deacon.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Harvey Milk. I keep a poster in my cubicle with a picture of him and his famous “you gotta give ‘em hope” quotation.

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

The best place to be is not any particular establishment; it’s wherever my friends are. But if I have to choose a bar I would say Freddie’s, which makes everyone feel at home, even our straight allies. And Freddie does so much to support the community.

Describe your dream wedding.

A gathering of my family (biological and drag) along with a few other close friends to witness my partner and I commit our lives to one another, followed by a destination honeymoon with a few of our closest friends being invited to join us as we celebrate the happiest day of our lives.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Health care. I have had epilepsy since I was 13 years old. I am fortunate to have always had health insurance; otherwise the medical bills would have eaten me alive. A nation with the riches we collectively have should not have anyone being forced to make decisions about whether to get treatment or take medication based upon their ability to pay.

What historical outcome would you change?

In recent history I would have changed the outcome of Bush v. Gore and had Al Gore sworn in as the 43rd president of the United States.

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

The funeral of Princess Diana.

On what do you insist?

Being true to myself, and not caving to the pressures of society to conform to a particular image or stereotype. I have been fortunate to have an incredible drag mother, Shelby Blake Stephyns, who taught me this.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

As you make your plans for the weekend remember to join us for the 2013 Miss Gay Arlington pageant on Friday at 8 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar.

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

“Christian Panties: The Secret to Good Livin’”

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

Say thanks but no thanks. I am just fine the way God made me. I’m going to continue being true to myself.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe in God, however I don’t buy into the idea that any one religious sect has a claim on what/who God is. For me, God is a higher power that transcends religious and cultural divides and calls us each to be the best we can be, and in the process fulfilling his/her image of us.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Stick to the basics. The goal is equal rights for all. We are not after gay rights, or some special treatment; we are after equal rights for all, no exceptions.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Lady Bunny’s wigs — I live for big hair.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

Discrimination in any form annoys me. Unfortunately too many times the LGBT community falls into the trap of discriminating against and among us.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Sordid Lives”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Most all of them — be true to you.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I’ve never really set my life goals around trophies or prizes. That being said winning the title of Miss Gaye Zodiac (D.C.) was a great honor, but RuPaul if you are reading this I’d love to headline your next tour.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

The freedom that being true to one’s self brings.

Why Washington?

A job that pays the bills!

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Real Estate

What homeowners are grateful for this year

Where you live should be something to appreciate

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Since you’re reading this over Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to write about gratitude as it pertains to real estate, so I started by Googling “gratitude, house.” 

Unsurprisingly, page after page of results were links to recovery centers and residences.  Sandwiched in between was a now defunct coffeeshop and yoga studio in Bandra, Mumbai. Although I applaud people who are in recovery and I like yoga, none of that hit the target of what I was looking for, so here are some of my thoughts and suggestions.

Can you be grateful for things inside, outside, and around your home? Of course you can! It might not feel as profound as expressing thanks for the people you love, or good health, or your chosen faith, but as a homeowner, you’re making memories and experiencing ups and downs that you’re going to reflect on years down the road.

Think about the purchase of your home and the steps you went through to seal the deal. Did you find it quickly? Did you compete with other buyers and win? Did you pay a fair price? Did you get a great interest rate? Did the loan process and settlement go smoothly? If so, be grateful.

Where you live can also be something to appreciate. Some people want a bustling urban environment with nearby amenities, such as shopping, dining, transportation, or multiple ways to exercise. Others want the quiet and solitude of a cabin in the mountains or on a lake, with acreage, wildlife and beautiful views of all Mother Nature has to offer. Still others want a larger, more reasonably priced home in the suburbs outside the Beltway, where they can hop on a train and get lost in a novel en route to the office. 

So, is your home situated in the neighborhood or environment you wanted? Did the schools, if important to you, meet your expectations? Is it close to (or if you prefer, far from) family members? Is your commute to work or school manageable? If you answered yes to any of these questions, be grateful.

If you work from home, is the space pleasant and the atmosphere conducive to ensuring productivity? Is the color scheme energizing? Peaceful? Would your décor get at least an 8 out of 10 from Room Rater when you have a conference call on Zoom? 

Is your home big enough to expand into as your family grows? Small enough for downsizing? Does the layout still meet your needs or have your needs changed? 

Is what you own your dream house or condo? Could it be? If you need to make some modifications, be thankful for HGTV, the DIY channel, YouTube how-to videos, Thumbtack, and Yelp reviews.

Living through a renovation can bring out the worst in people. Weeks or months of doing dishes in the bathtub or showering at the gym can cause friction in even the most committed relationship. Once your renovation is completed, however, be grateful that your sanity withstood the trauma of living through it. 

Be thankful for the things you don’t notice or think of often. Do you love the way the dining room chandelier casts light on the ceiling at night or how the sun streams in through the skylight in the early morning? 

Perhaps the feature wall you added makes you smile when you come in the front door or a favorite piece of art that reflects your personality catches your eye. Maybe you have pleasant memories of family gatherings in front of the fireplace or choruses of “Score” as you and your friends watch the World Cup on your 65” TV.

If you’re like me, you’re thankful that your boiler made it through last winter, that you didn’t have to patch the roof again this year, or that you found that hole in the fence and repaired it before your dog got out. 

During the year, we can lose sight of the things we are grateful for, so as Elle Woods suggested in “Legally Blonde 2,” I highly recommend keeping a gratitude jar. 

Use it to keep track of what you’re grateful for by writing things down and dropping those notes in the jar. Then, when you have a home anniversary or are stressed out about a renovation, when out-of-town company stays too long or when the kids draw on the walls with a Sharpie, pull out a note from the jar and read it aloud like a mantra. 

Unlike the sisters of Delta Nu, however, you don’t really have to snap your fingers after reading it.

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 DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Real Estate

Tips for holiday home sales

Buyers at this time of year are more serious

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Tasteful holiday decorations can improve the look of your home if you’re selling at the holidays.

The holiday season is often considered a difficult time to sell a home – but sometimes it’s necessary. For whatever reason, you may need to make a move quickly, and selling during the holiday months from November through January is your best option. If you find yourself in this situation, you should know that selling during the holiday season does have certain advantages. 

Often, more than during any other time of the year, buyers are in the same situation as sellers – they are buying for a reason. It may be a relocation for work, it could be a move to be closer to an older family member, or any number of other reasons that require a move quickly. As a result, holiday buyers are more serious, and make more competitive offers, not to mention the fact that there is often less competition from other sellers because fewer homes are on the market.

If you find yourself needing to sell your home during the holidays, focusing on the advantages can be helpful, along with a few other tips, including:

• Add some holiday cheer to your home: Often, holiday decorations can add an extra spark of seasonal flair and can be quite helpful to sellers – provided that the decorations aren’t overboard. Decorations that are too large or flashy may distract buyers and make your home feel crowded or cluttered. The right decorations, however, can be cheerful and bright and add some holiday spirit to your home that buyers enjoy. 

• Create some curb appeal: The holiday season is a wonderful time to enhance your home’s curb appeal with tasteful lights and other décor. It’s also important if you live in an area where leaves fall from the trees to be certain to rake and maintain your yard and surrounding landscaping. Certainly, if it is icy or snowy, you should shovel your driveway and sidewalks and make sure your home is safe for potential buyers to visit. Additionally, bare trees often draw more attention to the exterior of a home, so ensuring that your paint is touched up, gutters are cleaned, and other exterior features are in good condition is important. 

• Choose the right price point: Regardless of the time of year, pricing your home competitively will help to increase your chances of selling it quickly. Often, homes priced too high will linger on the market. The longer a home stays on the market, the more skittish some buyers become, and the lower the price may eventually have to go to ultimately sell it. Pricing your home competitively from the beginning can be very helpful.

• Remain accessible: The holidays can be a busy time, with many obligations and activities. As a result, it can often be more difficult than usual for real estate agents to arrange and schedule showings. Clearing your schedule as much as possible to accommodate agents and potential buyers can help to ensure that you get as many showings as possible, which will ultimately increase the chances of a quick and successful sale.

• Find the right real estate agent: The importance of this last tip can’t be overstated. Finding an agent who knows and loves the community will help you to market your home effectively, highlight all of its selling points, and connect with the right buyer. At GayRealEstate.com, buyers and sellers across the country are paired up with LGBTQ-friendly agents who can help them achieve their real estate goals, and this can make all the difference between a smooth and successful selling experience, and a stressful one.

While these tips are intended to be helpful, it’s also extremely important to consult with an agent who knows your unique market and can give you tips for your particular home. At GayRealEstate.com, we’d love to connect you with that agent today. Get in touch with us soon – we look forward to helping you reach your real estate goals.

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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Autos

Holiday gifts for car lovers

Something for everyone, from a Barbie Maserati to Subaru dog sweaters

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Sure, a $100 gift card to use at the gas pump or EV charging station is a nice stocking stuffer this holiday season, but there are plenty of other much more playful gifts for car fans. 

Subaru Blue-Striped Beanie

To help reduce waste and carbon emissions, Subaru offers assorted eco-friendly clothing. This includes a blue-striped beanie ($15), made from 100% recycled acrylic knit and festooned with a sassy pom on top. Subaru Motorsports USA logo is embroidered on the side. 

Barbie Maserati Grecale Trofeo SUV 

For megabucks motorheads, Neiman Marcus offers its annual holiday catalogue —a collection of “fantasy gifts”— with the Barbie Maserati Grecale Trofeo SUV ($330,000). This fab ride—in shocking pink and with yellow accents—can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds. Only one is available, with 10% of the sale donated to the Barbie Dream Gap Project, which helps provide equal opportunities for girls and young women. 

Hyundai Nexo Kiddie Car

Back in the day, there were Hot Wheels, Matchbox Cars and Tonka Toys. Today, there’s the Hyundai Nexo kiddie car ($737), an electric-powered plaything with vegan leather, stitched seating and rear sensors that beep when there’s an obstruction. Parents can control the car via a Bluetooth remote-control system. Charging time: seven hours.

Mercedes Classic 300 SL Desk Clock

Turn back time with the Mercedes classic 300 SL desk clock ($85) made of aluminum and stainless steel, with a wave pattern on the dial similar to the design used on the dashboard of that vintage Benz. 

The Godfather Cadillac Model Car

Like Marlon Brando, here’s an offer you can’t refuse: The Godfather Cadillac ($23), a diecast model of the 1955 Fleetwood in that movie. 

Ferrari Wraparound Sunglasses

Caio bella! Sleek unisex sunglasses ($1,275) from Ferrari feature a futuristic wraparound design with steel frame, titanium nose pads and the automaker’s prancing-horse emblem on each lens. 

Maserati Blue Unisex Socks

What better stocking stuffer than, well, socks. Maserati’s blue unisex socks ($31) are made of a high-quality blend of cotton and technical fabric, with the Maserati trident logo inlaid on the side and sole of each sock. Ideal for outdoor activities or sports.

BMW Scooter

The BMW kid’s scooter ($120) is made of durable plastic and metal, with a height-adjustable steering bar and convenient storage drawer to hold stuff. Available in choice of two snazzy color combinations: white/raspberry or black/orange. 

Ford Bronco Holiday Adult Onesie

Ford is proud of its ugly holiday sweaters, but this year there’s the Bronco holiday adult onesie ($45). Made of 100% polyester polar fleece, this glorified pajama comes with loose-fitting hood, tight-fitting cuffs for your arms and ankles, and a cringe-worthy design in maroon, sage and cream coloring. 

Land Rover Heritage Watch

Inspired by old-school aviator timepieces, the Land Rover Heritage Watch ($282) has a leather strap, rugged stitching and early Land Rover logo on a matte black dial and ion-plated case. Available with a snazzy Land Rover presentation box.

Subaru Dog Sweater

Subaru offers festive gifts for those four-legged members in your family, including a holiday dog sweater ($35) made of jacquard knit. Other Subaru pet-centric presents: collars, leashes, clip-on safety light, travel roll-up mat, toss-n-chew dog toy, fleece plushie full of cat nip, and more. 

Retro Datsun Lunch Box

Gearhead foodies will appreciate the Datsun lunch box ($15), with images of two iconic cars from that retro automaker: the racy 240z roadster on one side and the stylish 510 sedan on the other. 

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