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A helping hand

This year’s Point Foundation scholarship winners have big dreams



Pete Subkoviak, Point Foundation, gay news, Washington Blade

Pete Subkoviak (Photo courtesy of the Point Foundation)

Pete Subkoviak, from Madison, Wis., entered the world female, but never identified as anything other than male. From the age of 3, he insisted he was male. With the support of family and friends, Subkoviak began to transition, gained a second chance at life, and went after it with passion.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Subkoviak spoke often about the transgender community. He interned for Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and pursued a career working on state and federal HIV policy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

Subkoviak is among 76 LGBT students awarded scholarships this year by the Point Foundation, a national group that raises money to fund scholarships for LGBT students in need due to unsupportive families. The Point Foundation began offering scholarships in 2001 and has supported hundreds of students, with 145 alumni already earning their higher education degrees. Many have gone on to pursue their life goals, including becoming doctors, lawyers and filmmakers. Alex Morse, the country’s youngest openly gay mayor, was a Point scholar.

Subkoviak used his Point scholarship for graduate school and plans to matriculate from Johns Hopkins this month and work on health care reform implementation and other policies that will expand access to health insurance.

“The Point Foundation is not just a scholarship program, but has also given me the professional guidance and emotional inspiration I need in order to achieve my academic and post-graduate aspirations,” Subkoviak says. “I really feel driven forward by the fellow scholars, the organization and all of its supporters.”

While the financial assistance that Point offers has helped him a great deal, it’s the networking and growth opportunities that have played just as important a role in his success. Each year, Point holds a leadership conference where all the scholars, alumni, staff and boards get together to share experiences, support each other and build skills.

“Last year we held the event right here in Washington D.C., and we were able to speak with successful LGBT individuals from all walks of life to hear their stories and get advice on how we might follow their path,” Subkoviak says. “The foundation has seen some tremendous growth over the past few years to the point where they can now support 76 scholars. But the need out there is huge so I hope that people continue to jump on the Point bandwagon and they can extend the opportunity to many more LGBT youth.”

One of the most important moments of his time as a Point scholar happened just a few weeks ago when Subkoviak had the opportunity to meet Tyler Clementi’s father and brother and spoke with them about the importance of their work to support LGBT youth. Clementi is the gay Rutgers University student who committed suicide after being secretly recorded during a date with another man by his roommate.

“School can be tough for anyone, but LGBT students can feel especially alone. Point really understands the need for LGBT students to have visible, overt support, and they really work to makes you feel like you have a large community right there with you, rooting for you all the way,” he says. “A few years ago, Point and the Tyler Clementi Foundation joined together to offer a scholarship in Tyler’s name—one dedicated to ending the bullying and isolation of LGBT youth in educational settings.”

With a background and interest in public policy and politics, Subkoviak is working on an innovative transgender employment program.

“As a transgender man myself, I became distressed that very few organizations were serving the community, much less appreciating the discrimination in education and employment that forces many transgender individuals into the street-based sex work and HIV risk behavior,” he says. “In 2010, I drew up the blueprint for a transgender employment program and found a partner in Chicago House and Social Service Agency. Together we built a large coalition of government officials, community leaders and transgender individuals in order to make it a reality.”

Then something interesting happened: public and foundational support for the program exploded, and the scale of the project transformed in breathtaking fashion. It’s taken some time, but this July the final product, called the TransLife Center, will be fully realized.

It will offer TransHousing, beginning with more than 30 units of housing to those who are trans and living on the streets. It will also offer TransWorks, a full-scale employment program, TransHealth with medical connections to care services, TransLegal services and TransSafe, a drop-in center where transgender individuals can get off the street to get a shower, a meal and relax in an environment that is free from discrimination.

“I think that as LGBT organizations continue to acknowledge the need to more fully integrate the ‘T’ into their work that the TransLife Center is going to offer incredibly important lessons and be looked at as a trailblazing program,” he says. “Over the long term I’m interested in authoring a book on domestic policy. I’d also like to join a rock ‘n’ roll band and run for public office—hoping that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Another Point scholar is Monica Motley, a dual degree student at Virginia Tech seeking a doctorate degree in philosophy in the Department of Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences and a master’s of public health degree in the Department of Population Health Sciences.

Monica Motley, Point Foundation, gay news, Washington Blade

Monica Motley (Photo courtesy Point Foundation)

“When I think about the Point Foundation, it’s really meant to me guidance, support and opportunity,” she says. “I can be exactly who I am unapologetically, but also at the same time, better ensuring that I can achieve my potential for greatness to change the world.”

In 2007, Motley was elected the first African-American homecoming queen in 35 years, as well as the first openly gay homecoming queen at Virginia Commonwealth University.

A Danville, Va., native, Motley, who came out at 16, plans to become a social scientist and public health practitioner seeking to better understand how various socioeconomic factors influence health behaviors and outcomes in high risk populations, such as the LGBT community.

“My research aims to identify and better understand different social factors—physical environment, education, income — influence our health behaviors, especially physical activity and nutrition,” she says. “I look at that in high-risk communities, communities of color, LGBTQ, individual of over 45, low-income.”

Not only does she work on the research itself, but she tries to figure out how to recruit more diverse individuals into research so that it can better prepare those as catalysts for change.

“One of the most valuable things I have taken away from Point is mentorship from people who look like me,” she says. “Not necessarily in the literal sense, but being from a small city, an African American, a woman and an out lesbian, it was really important that I was connected personally and professionally that I was connected to people who were also gay. It has helped me become more confident.”

Point Foundation’s academic/program year begins in July with a leadership conference, where past and recently awarded scholars receive intensive training in leadership development, accountability, community service guidance, and advocacy and philanthropy to the LGBT community.

“When I look at my fellow scholars, these are brilliant individuals. There’s someone who has discovered a planet. There’s someone who has won an award for documentaries. For someone to say that they need me to succeed so we can all continue this movement to achieve equality, it moves me and gets me so emotional,” Motley says. “Think of how much further along we would be if we had more people tell the generations that are our future that we are underestimating our ability for equality. That’s what the Point Foundation did for me. It’s been life changing for me.”



Gay clone wonders if he’s part of an ant colony

Why do we cede control of our social lives to others?



(Image by Tamara Luiza/Bigstock)


Looking at some photos from my weekends at the beach this summer, it struck me that me and my friends (gay men in our 30s-40s) all pretty much look alike. Practically the same haircut, gym body, swimwear, smile. I almost couldn’t tell who was who.

This got me thinking. I live in the same apartment building as a lot of my friends. We all have similar furniture and watch the same shows and eat at the same restaurants and go to the same clubs and dance to the same music and drink the same drinks and vacation in the same places and work out at the same gym and belong to the same sports leagues and go to the same concerts and have the same routines.

I’m not even sure who makes the decisions about what to do. Something is popular, or becomes popular, and it seems like fun and we’re all doing it. Then it’s on to the next thing. But who is deciding what all of us are doing, not doing, or no longer doing?

I think I’m happy, generally, having fun, but I have this strange feeling like I’m part of an ant colony instead of being an individual.

Is this just the way it is? We find our tribe and then we’re all going through life together like this?

Michael replies:

I think you are facing an unavoidable dilemma that comes with being human. How much do you give up your own individuality to fit in? Put differently, what price are you willing to pay, to live an honest life and be known as the person you really are?

Did you come out—which takes great effort and brings some risks—to live a life that is right for you? Or to live pretty much the same life that your friends are living?

If you are happy doing all the same things as your friends, without even knowing for sure why you’re spending your time (that is, your life) doing these things, no problem.

But you feel like you’re part of an ant colony. So clearly, this way of living doesn’t sit all that well with you.

What would you be doing if you weren’t following the group agenda? How would you cut your hair? Would you go to the gym as much? What shows would you like (or not like) to watch? Where would you vacation? Do you like the drinks you’re ordering?

And some more important questions: What do you deeply care about? What are your values? What are the sorts of things you want to dedicate your life to? Are you living in a way that reflects any of this?

This may be the only life you get. Using it well (in my view, at least) means deciding for yourself who you want to be and how you want to live.

Sometimes people are afraid to be different out of fear that they won’t fit in with their friend group. People often tell me they’re worried they will be criticized or viewed negatively for wanting to do things that are different from what “everyone” likes to do. No one wants to be left out of parties or dinners or vacation plans.

Do you think your friends would still want to spend time with you if you weren’t always on board with “the plan,” or suggested some new ideas for activities that you were genuinely interested in?

It’s possible that if you start developing more of an individual identity, you might fit in less with some (or even all) of your friends. Feeling lonely or unpopular is not fun. You may have to decide if that’s better or worse than putting on a persona to fit in and be accepted.

It’s also possible that you can be more thoughtful about what you do, sometimes say “no” and still be part of your friend group.

Even if your friends aren’t always on the same page, I’m hopeful you can continue to have close relationships with at least some of them. A real friendship should be able to tolerate different views and different interests. How could it be otherwise, when all of us are different in some big ways, even from our closest friends?

Thinking about your dilemma through this lens, you could view sharing more of yourself with your friends and letting them know you better as an invitation for greater closeness.

If you make any moves along these lines, perhaps you will find that some of your friends have similar feelings. You might be less alone than you think.

In any case, you will be choosing a more honest life and the opportunity to be known for whom you really are.

(Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].)

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New Workforce Program Aims to Help Expand Economic Opportunity for the Trans Community

Finding inclusion while pursuing sustainable careers.



Sudhesna Kusulia recently graduated from the internship program as a full-time employee at JPMorgan Chase. Photo courtesy Sudhesna Kusulia.

It was only a few years ago that Sudhesna Kusulia would travel 10 kilometers (about 6.21 mi) from her rural village in India to be able to connect to the internet. 

The community she grew up in, Dangaria Kondh, had no network, electricity or constructed houses. When Kusulia got a smartphone in 2020, she gained a window to another world—one where she was able to explore the aspects of her identity she had suppressed since childhood. 

“I realized I’m not alone,” says Sudeshna, who identifies as a trans woman. “I belong in the LGBTQ+ community, there are millions of people like me living life authentically.”

Growing up, Sudeshna had a love for fashion and Bollywood dancing, and recalls carefully selecting dresses and accessories for her sisters, while secretly wishing she could wear them herself. “The disconnect between my soul and the body I was in was very painful to experience,” she explains. Facing these challenges, Sudeshna struggled with depression throughout her journey to self-acceptance. “From a young age, people started bullying me. I isolated myself. I would just cry in my bedroom, beating the wall with no one to hear my pain.”

Social stigma, barriers to opportunities, and lack of family support often push transgender people to the fringes of the society. Though recent policy changes in India have reduced barriers and provided rights to the broader LGBTQ+ community— India’s Supreme Court decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in 2018 — there’s still a long way to go, especially when it comes to advancing equity and inclusion for the country’s gender expansive (transgender and non-binary) population. 

India is the JPMorgan Chase’s second largest market worldwide in terms of number of employees, where is has been providing services to clients since 1945.  Today, the bank has expanded its presence in India, growing its corporate centers across the country, which act as strategic hubs for JPMorgan Chase.  Here, employees are working at the forefront of cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science, operations and so much more that is used around the world.

At JPMorgan Chase, the Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs is committed to advancing equity and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community globally. One of the ways the office works to do this is by ensuring all employees and potential employees have an equal opportunity to pursue their full potential and enjoy a fulfilling career. Recognizing both the unique struggles of the trans community in India as well as the immense talent pool that is leading the way for new business and innovation in the region, JPMorgan Chase worked with PeriFerry to create a transgender internship program in 2022. PeriFerry is a first-of-its-kind social enterprise in India that creates upskilling and employment opportunities for the gender expansive community. 

“Across industry, we see that transgender and nonbinary people do not experience equal opportunities to thrive in their careers and achieve sustainable livelihoods,” says Brad Baumoel, global head of JPMorgan Chase’s Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs. “At JPMorgan Chase, we’re committed to creating pathways for the next generation of trans and nonbinary leaders to develop and thrive in their careers.”

Advancing careers in an inclusive workplace

When Sudeshna went to college in 2016 and came out to her parents in 2020, it was a turning point. She finally felt comfortable in her skin and felt ready to pursue her dreams. But while she was ready to enter the workforce, she was worried her identity would hold her back. A friend suggested she connect with PeriFerry.

Sudeshna landed a spot in PeriFerry’s REVIVE program, a residential corporate training program designed for transgender individuals to venture into the workforce with confidence and acceptance, providing training opportunities in professional English communication, digital literacy, financial literacy, aptitude enhancement, resume building, and interview preparation. That’s how she found JPMorgan Chase. 

Through PeriFerry’s REVIVE program, JPMorgan Chase creates dedicated internship roles to gender expansive people across the company’s three corporate centers in India.  The 20-week program, inclusive of on-the-job training, is made up of eight weeks of classroom training by PeriFerry, followed by a 12-week internship with JPMorgan Chase. The first and the second cohort had 13 and 11 transgender candidates respectively, who interned across different parts of the business and in operations teams. Interns also were able to participate with the bank’s internal Gender Expansive Council, which organized sessions where employees shared their personal experiences as trans leaders at the bank.

Since the internship program launched in June 2022, it has resulted in the hire of over twenty full-time employees. 

Connecting with the community for support 

While her personal journey has been challenging, and despite rising anti-LGBTQ+ laws and sentiment across the globe, Sudeshna wants to inspire other transgender youth to recognize the beauty in themselves. “It’s a struggle for us. It will take decades before we feel complete acceptance, but it needs to be done. It has to be done,” she says.

According to Sudeshna, the two critical areas that the trans community needs support on are finding steady, respectful employment and a good, safe place to live. Across the globe, JPMorgan Chase supports nonprofits dedicated to advancing economic inclusion for the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community, including transgender youth and elder communities. 

Learn more about how JPMorgan Chase is helping expand economic opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community, and advance equality and inclusion for employees globally.  

Visit our careers page for opportunities.  

© 2023 JPMorgan Chase & Co. All rights reserved. JPMorgan Chase is an Equal Opportunity Employer, including Disability/Veterans.

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Real Estate

Back to basics in home buying process

Fantasizing about pricey condos you can’t afford is not the first step



That multi-million dollar Logan Circle condo sounds good after a boozy brunch but can you really afford it?

As a home buyer we often forget what goes into the home buying process. There are several steps that you must take in order to purchase a home and similar to school or continuing education, it’s always a good idea to get back to basics to refresh your memory (or perhaps learn for the first time) the nuances of home buying and those steps that a Realtor is there to help you navigate.

Most buyers assume that the first step in home buying is the HUNT! You have been on Redfin or Zillow stalking some properties that are on the market and going into open houses on your lazy Sundays after a boozy brunch imagining yourself in a condo in Logan Circle. Well I hate to be the one to tell ya – but that is not your first step. You may have just been wasting your time as you are not able to afford those properties you have been looking at online and daydreaming about the furniture placement. In reality the first step to home ownership is getting  a pre-approval from a reputable local lender. A lender will do a quick pull of credit and finances to give you an idea of what type of mortgage and the amount of that mortgage. While you may think you can afford a mortgage, the mortgage industry will financially let you know what you can actually afford.

Once you have that pre-approval in hand we can start the hunt. This is the time that your agent is going to ask you for your list of wants and needs. These lists will no doubt change over time when actually touring properties. Agents are there to guide you through the process. We are teammates on this hunt together. Likely your agent will send you properties and you will also find a few on your own that are of interest. Just like with teaching, learning, fashion, etc. there are different styles that work for different people. Please remember that if you do not like the style your agent uses, there are more fish in the sea. Find the agent that you jibe with — you are going to be spending a great deal of time together.

Once you’ve found the home of your dreams – this is where the real fun begins. Your agent will run comps on the property to find its value. Value is a subjective thing; at the end of the day a property is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Comparable sales (comps) are a list of properties with the same bedrooms, bathrooms, size and within the same radius of the property that you are interested in purchasing. These figures are used to either support the asking price or support a lower offer price for the piece of real estate. Once the comps are run and you agree on an offer price, there are a few other items that need to be hashed out that are part of the offer of sale. 

Arguably one of the more important factors is the inspection period. This is usually used to perform a home inspection and find any items that may need special attention or repair that would drastically affect the home’s value. This is also a time to take measurements, take pictures, bring in a contractor for quotes etc. So you will want to ask for an appropriate amount of time for these items to be completed. 

The final item to go over in the contract (we are just breezing through this here) is coupled with the financing piece. We need to determine a closing date. This will usually line up with what the mortgage lender (remember step one) will need in order for you to produce any and all documents to them and to get the loan into underwriting in order to close the sale. In the DMV this is usually about 30-days from contract acceptance to closing. There are, of course, instances where it can be sooner and those where it can be extended a bit. It’s all a fine dance between all parties involved to ensure a smooth transaction. It truly does take a village.

Once the offer is written, presented, negotiated and all parties agree to the terms – then this menagerie of bulleted items and timelines are set into place. There are timed items for different types of real estate and each jurisdiction is different regarding their timing – which is why its vital to use a Realtor that performs often in that specific area in which you are looking to purchase.

This is by no means an all-encompassing list of items within a real estate contract nor a true roadmap to home ownership, however, it represents the stripped down fundamental steps in the home buying process. Aside from the contract, which protects you as the buyer, it is important to ensure that you align yourself with your ‘A Team’ for the hunt. That includes a lender, title company, home inspector and any auxiliary contractors, etc., that your trusted real estate agent can help provide a list for you to choose from.

In this current climate there are mumblings and lawsuits about the “need” for a Realtor to be used in a home buying or selling transaction. After reading the snippet of tasks above, I would surely believe that a Realtor is vital to a successful home purchase in this market. We have gone from a seller’s market with super low inventory levels to a market with higher interest rates and equally low inventory levels. Realtors are on the pulse of the market and what is changing because we are in the trenches – I would argue that assistance with your home purchase, one of the most valuable assets you will have – is one in which having a professional by your side is of vital importance.

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s international Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well-versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,  [email protected] or

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