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Calendar Through May 9

Pink & Purple Weekend, spring flings, drag shows, parties and more

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Denyce Graves, gay news, Washington Blade
Denyce Graves, gay news, Washington Blade

Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves performs with the National Philharmonic this weekend at the Strathmore (Photo by Devon Cass Silver).

Friday, May 3

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force kicks off its Pink and Purple weekend tonight at 8 p.m. at the Hotel Helix Patio (1430 Rhode Island Ave., NW). The weekend honors community leaders who push for LGBT equality and educate local activists. Tonight’s event is “Dusk: for Women and their Friends,” which is $30 at the door. Later in the night starting at 10 p.m. is the Pink and Purple Party at Cobalt (1639 R St., NW). Tickets are not available ahead of time for this event. The weekend ends with the Pink and Purple Awards Brunch at the Mayflower Hotel (1127 Connecticut Ave., NW) on Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. This year’s brunch will honor actor Jeffrey Wright, an LGBT advocate, Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award winner, as well as Robert Raben, an accomplished leader for the LGBT community who is the former assistant attorney general under President Bill Clinton. Tickets are $125. For details, visit thetaskforce.org.

NoVA Gay and Lesbian Professionals host a spring social at the Kora Lounge (2250 Crystal Drive, Arlington, Va.) this evening at 6 p.m. Visit gogaydc.com for more information.

The “A List Show” at Remington’s Nightclub (639 Pennsylvania Ave., SE) hosts with Ladi Lenore, “The Darling of the Empire” tonight at 10 p.m. Cover is $10. For more information, visit remingtonswdc.com.

The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance presents the Miss Gay Arlington Pageant “The Glittery Rainbow Connection” at Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant (555 23rd Street South, Arlington, Va.) at 8 p.m. The theme for this year’s pageant is “Priscilla Takes Arlington,” based on the film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” Contestant entry fee is $25. For details, visit agla.org.

Conductor Christoph Eschenbach leads the National Symphony Orchestra in the show “A Tribute to Slava” tonight at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., NW) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$85. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

Saturday, May 4

Denyce Graves, a famous mezzo-soprano, performs with the National Philharmonic at the Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane) tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. Grave will perform Brahm’s “Alto Rhapsody” under the direction of conductor Piotr Gajewski. Tickets are $28-$81. Visit nationalphilharmonic.org for details.

Burgundy Crescent Volunteers are invited to work the Around the World Embassy Tour today at 10 a.m. Volunteers will welcome residents and visitors while they experience the different Washington embassies. The tours will be between Massachusetts Ave. and P St., NW. They’ll also be at Food and Friends (219 Riggs Rd., NE) at 8 a.m. and again at 9:45 a.m. Volunteers will help with food preparation and packing groceries. The shifts are limited to 10 per shift. Others will be at 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.

Sunday, May 5

The Literary Hill BookFest kicks off today at 11 a.m. at the North Hall of Eastern Market (575 7th St., NW). The afternoon includes thought-provoking writers who will discuss, read and sign their works. Visit literaryhillbookfest.org for more information.

Monday, May 6

The GI Film Festival kicks off tonight with a black tie salute to James Bond and gala event at the Signature Theater (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA) at 7 p.m. Tickets are $135. The festival is the only one to celebrate and commemorate the military through the medium of film. Part of their schedule includes a screening of the short documentary “Do Tell” on May 10 at 10 p.m. The film follows gay American military members stationed in an outpost in Japan pre and post “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Tickets to this event are $30. Attendees can buy passes for $50-$350. Visit gifilmfestival.com.

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.

Tuesday, May 7

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, May 8

Washington Ballet presents “The Sun Also Rises,” a show based of Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel, tonight at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., NW) at 7:30 p.m. Under the artistic direction of gay choreographer Septime Webre, the show tells the story of journalist Jake Barnes, a 1920s American expatriate in Paris, and his journey that leads him to the “running of the bulls” in Pamplona, Spain. Tickets are $25-$125. Visit kennedy-center.org for more details.

The Lambda Bridge Club meets tonight at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., SE) at 7:30 p.m. for social bridge. Newcomers are welcome and no reservations are needed. For more information or if you need a partner, visit lambdabridge.com.

Thursday, May 9

Rocker Beth Hart performs at the Birchmere Music Hall (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. Hart’s initial fame, after a record-breaking stint on “Star Search,” was garnered from her hit “LA Song (Out of this Town)” that was used on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Her music is influenced by blues, rock, gospel and jazz. Tickets are $25. For details, visit birchmere.com.

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CAMP Rehoboth’s president talks pandemic, planning, and the future

Wesley Combs marks six months in new role

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Wesley Combs took over as president of CAMP Rehoboth six months ago and is now focused on searching for a new permanent executive director. (Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

June marks half a year since Wesley Combs stepped into his role as president of CAMP Rehoboth. In a conversation with the Blade, Combs recounted his first six months in the position — a time he said was characterized by transition and learning.

Since 1991, CAMP Rehoboth has worked to develop programming “inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities” in the Rehoboth Beach, Del. area, according to the nonprofit’s website. As president, Combs oversees the organization’s board of directors and executive director, helping determine areas of focus and ensure programming meets community needs.

For Combs, his more than three decades of involvement with CAMP Rehoboth have shaped the course of his life. In the summer of 1989 — just before the organization’s creation — he met his now-husband, who was then living in a beach house with Steve Elkins and Murray Archibald, CAMP Rehoboth’s founders.

Since then, he has served as a financial supporter of the organization, noting that it has been crucial to fostering understanding that works against an “undercurrent of anti-LGBTQ sentiment” in Rehoboth Beach’s history that has, at times, propagated violence against LGBTQ community members.

In 2019, after Elkins passed away, Combs was called upon by CAMP Rehoboth’s Board of Directors to serve on a search committee for the organization’s next executive director. Later that year, he was invited to become a board member and, this past November, was elected president.

Combs noted that CAMP Rehoboth is also still recovering from the pandemic, and is working to restart programming paused in the switch to remote operations. In his first six months, he has sought to ensure that people feel “comfortable” visiting and engaging with CAMP Rehoboth again, and wants to ensure all community members can access its programming, including those from rural parts of Delaware and those without a means of getting downtown.

Still, Combs’s first six months were not without unexpected turns: On May 31, David Mariner stepped down from his role as CAMP Rehoboth executive director, necessitating a search for his replacement. Combs noted that he would help facilitate the search for an interim director to serve for the remainder of the year and ensure that there is “a stable transition of power.” CAMP Rehoboth last week announced it has named Lisa Evans to the interim director role.

Chris Beagle, whose term as president of CAMP Rehoboth preceded Combs’s own, noted that the experience of participating in a search committee with the organization will “better enable him to lead the process this time.”

Before completing his term, Beagle helped prepare Combs for the new role, noting that the “combination of his professional background, his executive leadership (and) his passion for the organization” make Combs a strong president. Regarding the results of the election, “I was extremely confident, and I remain extremely confident,” Beagle said.

Bob Witeck, a pioneer in LGBTQ marketing and communications, has known Combs for nearly four decades. The two founded a public relations firm together in 1993 and went on to work together for 20 years, with clients ranging from major businesses like Ford Motor Company to celebrities including Chaz Bono and Christopher Reeve. According to Witeck, Combs’s work in the firm is a testament to his commitment to LGBTQ advocacy.

“Our firm was the first founded primarily to work on issues specific to LGBTQ identities, because we wanted to counsel corporations about their marketing and media strategies and working in the LGBTQ market,” he explained. By helping develop communications strategies inclusive of those with LGBTQ identities, Combs established a background of LGBTQ advocacy that truly “made a mark,” Witeck said.

Witeck emphasized that, in his new position, Combs brings both business experience and a renewed focus on historically underrepresented in LGBTQ advocacy — including people with disabilities, trans people and people of color.

Looking to the rest of the year, CAMP Rehoboth hopes to host a larger-scale event during Labor Day weekend. In addition, the organization will revisit its strategic plan — first developed in 2019 but delayed due to the pandemic — and ensure it still meets the needs of the local community, Combs said. He added that he intends to reexamine the plan and other programming to ensure inclusivity for trans community members.

“CAMP Rehoboth continues to be a vital resource in the community,” he said. “The focus for the next two years is to make sure we’re doing and delivering services that meet the needs of everyone in our community.”

Wesley Combs, gay news, Washington Blade
Wesley Combs (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)
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Sports

DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win

Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records

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The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Palm Springs, Calif. (Photo courtesy DCAC)

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) world championships in Palm Springs, Calif., in April on a mission to capture their first world title since 2013.

It was a long road back to international competition for the DCAC swimmers after the disruption of training and travel brought on by the worldwide pandemic.

When the team returned from IGLA in Melbourne, Australia in March of 2020, their training pools were closed, and all competitions were canceled.

By May they had established a training site in the South River in Annapolis where they swam until November of that year. Eventually, pools began to reopen, and the team was faced with battling for training time in COVID-restricted pools.

Following the postponement of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, the IGLA community scrambled to put together a competition in Palm Springs that would be hosted in tandem by West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions. 

DCAC’s swimmers in Palm Springs consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies ranging in age from 22 to 76 years old. Each swimmer was eligible to enter five individual events and three relay events.

With 67 teams in attendance, DCAC jumped out to an early lead on day one in the large team category with West Hollywood Aquatics and San Francisco Tsunami in close pursuit. 

Despite the disqualifications of two of their winning relays for early takeoffs, DCAC held on to their lead over the remaining three days to claim their first world title in nine years.

Three DCAC swimmers, Grant Casey, Carmen Robb and Jerry Frentsos, won gold in all five of their individual events. In total, the team won 125 gold, 66 silver and 35 bronze medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC team records.

Addison Winger was a first time IGLA swimmer and hadn’t competed in 12 years. He had heard the tales from past IGLAs and wanted to join in on the fun.

“It was a great experience to compete for DCAC at an international competition. I had never been in a championship meet before where you go through the process of tapering, shaving, and suiting up in tech gear,” says Winger. “The relays were amazing, and I enjoyed taking advice and feedback from our coaches to incorporate into future races. It was also great spending quality team with my teammates outside of the pool.”

Olivia Kisker had competed with DCAC at IGLA Melbourne in 2020 and was looking forward to traveling with her team again.

“Even though the days were long at the pool, we still had time for Joshua Tree, the gondolas and all that Palm Springs has to offer,” Kisker says. “I love traveling and doing it with your teammates provides a setting for bonding and getting to know people better. I also enjoyed competing against my teammate Sarah. It’s like a friendship and a rivalry.”

Craig Franz restarted his post-COVID competitive swimming at IGLA Palm Springs and went on to a training camp and open water race in Hawaii this past month.

“The whole thing about this team is relationships and sharing swimming as a common denominator. The swim competitions legitimize building relationships and supporting each other in healthy ways,” say Franz. “Palm Springs felt like a more relaxed setting, and we needed this meet to rebuild the team. It provided a nutritional base for what we are about – swimming and friendships.”

Sarah Padrutt had not competed since 2019 and all the talk about past IGLAs prompted her to attend for the first time.

“I had so much fun, and it was cool having people cheering and being supported by teammates,” Padrutt says. “It was also a nice wakeup call, a reminder of how much I like competing. I like the pressure of racing and being on relays with my team. It was a very positive experience.”

Charles Cockrell has been a Masters swimmer for decades and is the chair of the Legislation Committee for United States Masters Swimming. He came out in 2019 and these championships marked his first time competing at IGLA.

“I wanted to compete at a swim meet that was a combination of the LGBTQ community and the sport of swimming. It was a fun, accepting and engaging environment,” says Cockrell. “The takeaway was that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was nice to be gathered together in a queer space. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and it was great being attached to a big team like DCAC.”

Coming up next for DCAC is the United States Masters Swimming Nationals in Richmond in August. Next year, the team will travel to London for the 2023 IGLA world championships to be held in the London Olympic Pool.

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Out & About

10 LGBTQ events this week

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead

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From movie nights to dance parties, there is a lot to do in the region this week. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in D.C. that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.


MNSkating’s Pride Too!

Monday, June 27
7:30 p.m.
Laurel Skating Center
9890 Brewers Court
Laurel, Md.
Facebook | Meetup

Join the Monday Night Skaters for a Pride-themed skating party in Laurel, Md. on Monday.


Queen of the Capital at Adams Morgan Movie Nights

Tuesday, June 28
8-11 p.m.
Adams Morgan Soccer Field
Facebook

The Adams Morgan Partnership BID will be showing “Queen of the Capital” from local documentary maker Josh Davidsburg.


Pride Night at Frederick Keys

Wednesday, June 29
6-9 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium
21 Stadium Drive
Frederick, Md.
Facebook | Tickets

Join Pride on the Patio for a night of baseball as the Frederick Keys hold Pride Night sponsored by the Frederick Center.


LGBTQ Families Discussion & Beer Tasting

Wednesday, June 29
7-8 p.m.
Aslin Beer Company
847 South Pickett Street
Alexandria, Va.
Facebook | Tickets

Rainbow Families will have an informal discussion about such topics as coming out, celebrating your child’s identity, being a good ally in the workplace and more . . . followed by a beer tasting! No charge, but donations will be taken.


First Friday LGBTQ+ Social with GoGayDC

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
The Commentary (in the Westin)
801 North Glebe Road
Arlington, Va.
Facebook | Eventbrite

Join GoGayDC for a monthly social gathering in Ballston.


Drag Race All-Stars Viewing Party

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
JR.’s Bar
1519 17th Street, N.W.
Facebook

Get together with other Drag Race super fans for an evening viewing party hosted by Citrine.


Outdoor Movie Night

Friday, July 1
8:30-10:30 p.m.
Stead Park
1625 P Street, N.W.
Facebook

Bring your blanket and catch a movie on the big screen at Stead Park.


FireWerk with DJ Chord

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead

Friday, July 1
9 p.m.
AquaGrill Reho
57 Baltimore Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Facebook 

Kick off Independence Day weekend in Rehoboth with a no cover dance party at AquaGrill.


Zodiac Drag Contest

Zodiac Drag Contest (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Sunday, July 3
8 p.m.
Freddie’s Beach Bar
555 23rd Street S
Arlington, Va.
$5 cover
Facebook

The monthly amateur drag competition returns to Freddie’s on Sunday. Check out the new talent (or try it out yourself).


Flashy 4th of July Weekend

Sunday, July 3 – Monday, July 4
10 p.m.
Flash
645 Florida Aveune, N.W.
$30
Facebook | Eventbrite

Celebrate Independence Day with a Flashy 4th of July on the dance floor of Flash.


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