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Latino GLBT History Project to hold 7th annual Pride

Event comes amid allegations groups not invited to take part

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Latino Pride, Latino GLBT History Project, gay news, Washington Blade
Latino Pride, Latino GLBT History Project, gay news, Washington Blade

One of last year’s Latino Pride events at Town Danceboutique (Washington Blade file photo by Blake Bergen)

The ongoing immigration debate will provide the backdrop for the seventh annual D.C. Latino Pride that will take place at various locations throughout the city from May 30-June 6.

[email protected] Director Lisbeth Melendez-Rivera will moderate a panel co-organized by the Latino GLBT History Project and the D.C. Latino Pride Advisory Committee on how the issue impacts LGBT Latinos. James Ferg-Cadima of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Dilicia Molina of La Clínica del Pueblo are among those who will take part in the event on Thursday at the Human Rights Campaign.

Marco Antonio Quiroga, an undocumented gay immigrant who works for Immigration Equality, and Valerie Villalta, a trans advocate who received asylum in the U.S. in 2009 after she fled from her native El Salvador to D.C., will also discuss the issue.

The panel will take place nine days after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill that did not include amendments that would have allowed gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for residency and permitted married same-sex couples to apply for marriage-based green cards.

“Not only were our LGBT families painfully left behind, but politicians used my family as an excuse for discrimination,” Quiroga wrote in a May 24 post to Immigration Equality’s website. “When politicians and pundits talk about the Latino community and the gay community as separate communities, they exclude me. They exclude my family. This false separation hurts our communities.”

Members of the Latino GLBT History Project were among the tens of thousands of people who rallied for comprehensive immigration reform outside the U.S. Capitol last month. The group also worked with CASA de Maryland and Equality Maryland last year on a campaign designed to garner additional support for Maryland’s same-sex marriage law and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

Both ballot measures passed during last November’s referendum.

“As an LGBT Latino group, immigration reform is very important to us,” David Pérez, president of the Latino GLBT History Project, told the Washington Blade.

In addition to the immigration panel, D.C. Latino Pride will also hold a bilingual Mass at Metropolitan Community Church in Northwest Washington on June 2 from 6 – 8 p.m. Joe El Especialista of El Zol 107.9 will deejay a party at Town on June 6 that Candy Citron from the Spanish-language radio station’s Pedro Biaggi en la Mañana program will emcee.

Founded by José Gutierrez in 2000, the Latino GLBT History Project has staged its annual D.C. Latino Pride for seven years. It also celebrated its eighth annual Hispanic LGBT Heritage Awards in 2012.

This year’s D.C. Latino Pride will also take place against the backdrop of a series of LGBT-specific advances that have taken place in countries throughout Latin America over the last several months.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice on May 14 ruled registrars cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Gays and lesbians in neighboring Uruguay can begin to tie the knot in August. The Colombian Senate last month overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, but they can begin to register their relationships on June 20 if lawmakers fail to act upon a 2011 ruling from the South American country’s highest court that mandated them to pass legislation within two years that extends the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage to same-sex couples.

The Mexican Supreme Court in February released its decision that found a Oaxacan law that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Justices with the same tribunal a few weeks later announced a ruling that found anti-gay slurs are not protected speech under Mexico’s constitution.

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in May 2012 signed a law that allows people who have not undergone sex-reassignment surgery to legally change their gender without a doctor or judge’s approval.

“Pride is a really exciting time of the year where we can all celebrate our culture, our identity,” Pérez said. “There are definitely many reasons to celebrate LGBT equality and great activities and legislation that’s passing throughout Latin America as well as to renew our commitment to continue to fight for LGBT equality for equal treatment under the law for all Latinos here in the United States and in many of our members’ home countries throughout Latin America.”

Groups to hold alternate Latino Pride

Eleven groups, including Casa Ruby, the D.C. Center and other LGBT rights organizations, on Tuesday announced they plan to hold an alternate Latino Pride celebration that will take place at various locations throughout the metropolitan area from June 4-9.

Pérez disputed Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado’s claims that the Latino GLBT History Project left her group and others out of this year’s Pride celebrations.

“Casa Ruby was invited to be part of the advisory committee, but decided not to participate,” he said.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Ruby Corado

    May 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Dear Readers:
    11 Latino LGBT Groups Are Presenting A truly inclusive community Celebration Of Latino Pride This Year It is not just Casa Ruby.
    * Casa Ruby LGBT Center * Foundation Angie.
    *DC Center Latinos * Grupo De Apoyo Juana Mancia.
    *Project Stripes LAYC * Majestic Crazy Tuesdays.
    *Latin Soul Productions * La Cabana Noches De Fantasia.
    * Club Fuego Phase 1 Dupont * Ma Ma's Happy Hour.
    * Media Partner Heroes Latinos.

    The Latino LGBT Community is more than one organization presenting a community event on their own, for the sole purposes of making money for educational programs that never reach out LGBT Latinos who are members of the above organizations.

    Capital Pride celebrations have the purpose of bringing LGBT people together to celebrate their pride, Other Groups Have Celebrated Together as a community These past weeks. Latino Pride Should Not Be the exception 11 Groups should not have Just one group celebrate for them.

    Ruby Corado

  2. Larry Gray

    May 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Will there be sign language interpreters provided for these Pride events? Please do not forget Deaf LGBTs/Deaf Latinos/Deaf LGBT Latinos!

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Nellie’s agrees to $5,000 fine, 7-day license suspension over brawl

Penalty prompted by security guard dragging Black woman down stairs

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Nellie’s must pay a fine and face a seven-day license suspension over a June 13 brawl in which a Black woman was dragged down the stairs. (Blade file photo by Tom Hausman)

The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Wednesday, Oct 20, approved a compromise agreement it reached with Nellie’s Sports Bar that calls for the U Street, N.W. gay bar to pay a $5,000 fine and serve a seven-day license suspension over a June 13 incident in which a Black woman was dragged down a flight of stars by a Nellie’s security guard during a brawl between Nellie’s customers.

The agreement calls for a license suspension of 24 days with 17 days to be suspended and seven days to be served “so long as the Respondent does not commit any violations within (1) year from the date of this Order,” the ABC Board declared in a three-page order confirming the agreement.  

The order states that the license suspension will be served from Dec. 20-26 of this year. It also states that Nellie’s must pay the fine within 120 days from the date of the order. If the fine is not paid during that time “its license shall be immediately suspended until all amounts owed are paid.”

As a final stipulation of the agreement, the ABC Board states that Nellie’s must file a “legally compliant security plan” within 10 calendar days of the Oct. 20 order.

The security plan requirement stems from an earlier finding by the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration related to the June 13 incident that Nellie’s was in violation of several provisions of the city’s liquor law, including a provision that a security plan that meets the standards of the city’s liquor regulations is in place.

An ABRA investigation of the June 13 incident found, among other things, that “multiple assaults occurred inside the establishment while the licensee was engaged in a method of operation conducive to unlawful conduct.”

The action by the Nellie’s security guard, which took place during the city’s LGBTQ Pride weekend, was captured on video taken by one of the customers on their phone. The video went viral on social media, prompting a series of protests against the bar by LGBTQ activists and Black Lives Matter advocates.

Nellie’s issued an apology for the incident the following day and announced it had fired the private security company whose employee, who is Black, dragged Keisha Young, 22, down the stairs. Nellie’s also announced it would temporarily close for business to assess what had happened and develop plans for reopening as a safe space for all members of the community. It reopened 35 days later, with protesters continuing to assemble outside the bar for several more weeks.

 When the five-member ABC Board on Oct. 20 held a roll call vote to approve what is officially called an Offer-In-Compromise or OIC agreement with Nellie’s that includes the fine, license suspension, and other provisions, gay ABC Board member Edward Grandis voted against the agreement, becoming the only member to do so.

A video recording of the virtual ABC Board meeting available through YouTube shows that Grandis expressed general support for the decision by both the board and Nellie’s to reach a compromise agreement. But he said he objects to the license suspension requirement.

“In this particular regard, when the facts and the testimony indicate that the licensee on its own initiative without any knowledge, at least in the testimony, of prompting from the government or MPD or any party, to itself close for 35 days during – generally – the pandemic when so many companies lost their companies and their employees lost their jobs and the neighborhoods lost their establishments, I really believe that this particular situation shows that the licensee took this event seriously and accordingly in a manner that hopefully will prevent it from happening again or have better security measures to avoid this type of situation in the future,” Grandis told his fellow board members.

“And I just wanted the record to show I’m supportive of the OIC generally, but I don’t believe it was constructed in a way that indicates what this licensee has done since that incident,” Grandis said.

Nellie’s owner, Douglas Schantz, and Nellie’s attorney, Andrew Klein, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Klein, who spoke at the ABC Board hearing on Wednesday, said in response to a question by Grandis that Nellie’s reluctantly agreed to the fine and license suspension, which he called “excessive,” among other things, because Schantz wants to put the matter behind him and to “heal” and “move on” with the community.

The ABC Board’s action came one day after the Washington City Paper announced that Nellie’s Sports Bar finished in second place among its readers in its annual Best of D.C. contest for the category of “Best Gay Bar/Club/Lounge.”

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UDC hosts event recognizing LGBTQ support at HBCUs

Seven campuses participate in annual event

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The Human Rights Campaign Foundation created the annual Out Loud Day event three years ago to ‘celebrate LGBTQ+ people and develop innovative inclusion efforts.’ (Screen capture via YouTube)

The University of the District of Columbia on Wednesday, Oct. 20, hosted one of seven “Out Loud Day” events highlighting LGBTQ visibility and inclusion at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) on college campuses throughout the country.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the national LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that it created the annual Out Loud Day event three years ago to “celebrate LGBTQ+ people and develop innovative inclusion efforts” at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.

“It is also a day to take stock of all the challenges that LGBTQ+ students face in their daily lives at HBCUs and to have discussions on how to foster even more inclusion on their campuses,” said Leslie Hall, the HRC HBCU Program Director in a statement.

“This is the third time that the Human Rights Campaign has hosted the day, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue to expand upon the LGBTQ+ inclusion work we have been doing for years alongside HBCU administrations and student leaders,” Hall said.

Rishard Butts, HRC’s HBCU Program Senior Manager, told the Washington Blade that the UDC event included in-person activities that began at 5 p.m. on its campus in Northwest D.C. Among the events were an open dialogue session covering LGBTQ topics of interest to student participants. He said another session focused on LGBTQ figures in history, including those who were Black, and their impact on historic developments locally or worldwide. 

He said a third session included a trivia contest in which student participants received small prizes for answering questions about LGBTQ topics of interest to the community.

Butts noted that the HBCU Out Loud Day event was taking place at UDC a little over two years after the university celebrated the grand opening of its Center for Diversity, Inclusion & Multicultural Affairs. At the time of its opening, the Center said it would provide services and a space to meet and socialize for “students of all sexual orientations and gender identities/expressions.”

According to Butts, the concept for Out Loud Day at historically black colleges and universities began, in part, as a response to National Coming Out Day, which he said is not something that all LGBTQ people of color could do.

“So, we flipped this day around and instead of putting the responsibility of someone coming out, we put the responsibility on everyone to celebrate everyone,” he said. “So, it’s HBCU Out Loud Day so everyone is ‘out loud’, and everyone is proud, and everyone is celebrating and uplifting the stories of LGBTQ people and it’s not just the responsibility of the person who is out or coming out.”

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Gay man attacked, beaten by neighbors in Northeast D.C.

Police list incident as hate crime but courthouse ‘backlog’ could delay arrests

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Antonio Zephir was beaten by neighbors and fears for his life. (Photo courtesy of Zephir)

A woman, her daughter, and a man believed to be the daughter’s father repeatedly punched a gay man in the face while the mother called him a “Jewish faggot” and other anti-gay slurs during an Oct. 13 incident on the grounds of an apartment building where the victim and the two women live, according to the victim and a D.C. police incident report.

The victim, Antonio Zephir, 51, told the Washington Blade the incident began after the mother began shouting anti-gay slurs at him as he walked past her and his roommate outside the Northwood Gardens Apartments at 4870 Fort Totten Dr., N.E. at about 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13. 

Zephir identifies the mother as Aurlora Y. Ellis in court papers seeking a restraining order against her that he filed in D.C. Superior Court. He said she had acted in a hostile way toward him before the assault incident.

“For several months, every time Ms. Ellis sees me, she shouts homophobic slurs and I continued to ignore her,” Zephir told the Blade in an email.

He said that minutes before the Oct. 13 attack, Ellis yelled the words “Jewish faggot” when he walked past her as she was talking to his roommate, Steven Johnson. Zephir said it is well known among his neighbors at the apartment complex that he is of the Jewish faith.

“I responded with not-so-kind words. She ran towards me and assaulted me with hard punches toward my face,” Zephir wrote in his email to the Blade. 

“I punched back in an attempt to defend myself,” he wrote. “Mr. Johnson tried to break us up when her daughter Latera Cox and [Cox’s] father assaulted me,” according to Zephir’s account of the incident. “Ms. Ellis yelled, ‘Call the police, you bitch faggot. They’re not going to do anything. This isn’t over yet.”

At that point, Ellis, her daughter Latera Cox, and the man Zephir believes to be Cox’s father fled the scene, Zephir told the Blade.

The D.C. police incident report, which lists the assault as a suspected hate crime, says, “All three suspects then fled east bound” on the 4800 block of Fort Totten Dr., N.E.

Zephir said he immediately called police, who arrived on the scene and took a report on the incident. The report obtained by the Blade lists the incident as a simple assault, which is a misdemeanor under D.C. law.

But Zephir said a detective working on the case told him this week that police were looking into speeding up the process of obtaining warrants for the arrest of the three attackers based, in part, on the injuries Zephir suffered from the attack. He provided the Blade with a medical report issued by the Washington Hospital Center, where his roommate took him to the emergency room the day following the attack, in response to severe pain he was experiencing to his face and head.

The report from the hospital, which treated and released him on Oct. 14, says he was diagnosed as having a fractured nose; a fracture of the “interior orbital wall,” which is the bone surrounding one of his eyes; subconjunctival hemorrhage or bleeding of his left eye; and “laceration of oral cavity” which means an injury inside his mouth caused by trauma from the assault.

Zephir told the Blade that the same detective told him last week that due to a “backlog” in cases at the D.C. Superior Court, it could take between one and two months for police and prosecutors to obtain warrants for the arrests of the two women and the man who assaulted him.

A police spokesperson told the Blade the case remains under active investigation. A spokesperson for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which acts as the prosecutor for adult criminal cases in D.C., said he would look into whether the office could publicly comment on the status of efforts to obtain arrest warrants for the three attackers.

Zephir said rumors had surfaced prior to the assault incident that Ellis may have access to a gun. Based on what he feared was a threat by Ellis when she told him during the attack that “this isn’t over yet,” he said he persuaded his roommate to drive him to the courthouse on the same day as the attack to apply for a court restraining order to prevent Ellis from harming him again.

Court records show he also filed a civil complaint against Ellis, Ellis’s daughter, and Ellis’s roommate, Linda Miller, who Zephir says in the complaint acted as an “enabler” for Ellis’ hostility toward him.

The complaint, which is a civil lawsuit that Zephir wrote by hand and filed by himself without hiring a lawyer, calls for $18,000 in damages.  

“I have nightmares,” Zephir told the Blade. “I can’t believe it happened. I keep reliving the experience over and over and over in my head,” he said. “And I feel like I’m a prisoner in my own apartment. I don’t feel safe because I, honest to God, feel like she is going to bodily harm me and I might be, God forbid, murdered.”

Ellis, Cox, and Miller could not immediately be reached for comment.

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