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Queery: Ryan Newcomb

The suicide prevention advocate answers 20 gay questions

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Ryan Newcomb, Gay News, Washington Blade
Ryan Newcomb, Gay News, Washington Blade

Ryan Newcomb, a 27-year-old suicide prevention advocate from Fort Worth, Texas. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ryan Newcomb knows what it’s like to work in environments that aren’t so gay friendly. Though he wasn’t out at the time, he worked as an intern, then an appointee in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. He also worked for the Boy Scouts of America, a position that — while he admires much of what the organization does — did get to be a problem for him over time.

“It obviously was an organization that was not OK with my sexuality,” the 27-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, native says. “I hope it will change one day and I’m excited to see the strides it has made recently because it’s an incredible organization that inspires a lot of kids to lead good lives.”

The Bush admiration started earlier — he remembers then-Gov. Bush visiting his sixth grade class, a seminal encounter that inspired him to follow and pursue politics. He says it “rocked the boat” a bit in his Democratic-leaning family. Newcomb says he wishes Bush’s gay policies had been different but “at the same time, I’m proud of having that on my resume.”

After four years away, Newcomb came back to Washington in 2010 and works now as area director for Maryland and D.C. for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org). Although it’s not LGBT specific, Newcomb, who’s gay, says it’s time to “break the stigma” associated with suicide.

“People need to know it’s OK to seek help … and that this is not something to be ashamed of,” he says.

Newcomb is single and lives in Chevy Chase, Md., with his two dogs, Dallas and Reagan. He enjoys traveling, reading, spending time with his niece and music of all kinds in his free time.

 

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

For about four years now. The hardest person turned out to be my incredible mother. She is an amazing woman and has been a rock for me, but is coming to terms with it on her own.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

So many people, but my heroes are those around me who have gone through the tough times and fought the incredible fights in their own lives as individuals. My pastor, Dean Snyder, and Jeffrey Johnson (founder of D.C. Gay Flag Football League) especially.

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

I have to give a shout out to Doug Schantz who owns and operates Nellie’s Sports Bar, because it’s an incredible place for sports, socializing and a great time.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

In a country church with a gospel choir, tons of flowers and every seat filled with all of our loved ones. I think the relationship is more important than what the service is like, for sure.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Raising awareness and breaking the stigma around mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

In more modern times, the assassinations and deaths of President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert who were two of the greatest leaders and thinkers our country has ever known.

 

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

Having met several former Presidents (Bushes 41 and 43 and President Clinton) in my former political work; and meeting Joan Rivers a few years back at a White House Correspondence Brunch. She was absolutely hilarious.

 

On what do you insist?

Structure and cleanliness. But foremost, being candid and honest to everyone, always.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. Hebrews 13:2

 

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

Not sure a title would be appropriate. After all, they say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” right?

 

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

First, I would be in disbelief. And then I would change nothing, because God made me the person that I am and I cannot ask for more than that.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe in my Christian faith and a loving God who accepts and loves all people regardless of their sexuality or color or position in life. In that, I believe in and hope for everlasting peace after this life.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Don’t ever become like the opposition. Like Nixon said, “If you hate your enemies, you can destroy yourself.”

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

For my family, my parents, sisters, brother-in-law and my niece. And for my D.C. family, people like JJ and Randy, who are my rocks. Randy especially, has walked on coals for me, figuratively, as a friend and that means the world.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That you have to lose your masculinity to be a gay man.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Far From Heaven”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

I think our five-day work week in America would do well to become a four-day work week, like much of Europe. It would be healthier and better for our longevity and stress levels.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I’d love to win a political election someday, if that counts as a prize.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That it truly does “get better” and that while my life wouldn’t always be easy, every step I take is worth the good fight. And that God has a plan that is bigger than my own.

 

Why Washington?

The culture, the scenery, the history and the people.

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Autos

All charged up: BMW i7 xDrive6

Fairy dust goes a long way in this all-electric luxe sedan

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BMW i7 xDrive60

Sometimes it’s good to be a fairy godmother. That’s how it was for me when organizing a surprise dinner party for my husband Robert, who was celebrating a milestone birthday. 

Event planning isn’t my thing, yet somehow the stars aligned. It seemed like all I had to do was wave a wand and — voila! — the magic began.

Make reservations at a fave intimate restaurant, which often gets booked months in advance? Zing! Ensure that family and childhood friends from across the country could all attend the same weekend? Zing! Find a handsome pianist to serenade us with Broadway show tunes. Zing again!

The only thing missing: a stunning chariot. But then, at the last minute, my test car for the week turned out to be—zing!—the all-electric BMW i7 xDrive60 glam sedan. 

BMW i7 xDrive60

$121,000

MPGe: 87 city/95 highway

Range: 291 to 321 miles 

Fastest charging time: 212 miles in 34 minutes (80% charged) 

PROS: Hyper fast. Sublime cabin. Dazzling tech.

CONS: Pricey. So-so cargo area. A sedan in a world of SUVs.

IN A NUTSHELL: To drive or not to drive, that’s the question with the BMW i7. Rarely is it more exciting to be the passenger than the driver in a sports sedan, especially a Bimmer. But as I chauffeured my husband to the restaurant on his birthday, he seemed to be having way too much fun enjoying the dizzying array of creature comforts.

Spa treatment. The futuristic seats, made of quilted Merino leather, are as plush and comfortable as anything from Roche Bobois. But the optional cashmere/wool fabric looks and feels even better. All seats—both front and rear—come with ventilation and heating that activates much quicker than in most cars. The superb massage function does bodywork like a real masseur—but without the need to tip 20% when your session ends. 

Concert-hall acoustics. Other high-priced rides offer premium audio, but the standard Bowers & Wilkens stereo in the i7 is bravo: 18 speakers and 655 watts. Better yet, my test car had the much-ballyhooed Diamond Surround Sound System, with 36 speakers powered by a 1965-watt amplifier. Yes, two of those speakers use actual diamonds to increase clarity. The result is perhaps the best-sounding vehicle acoustics ever.

IMAX-like screen. The Rear Executive Lounge Seating package adds a reclining right rear seat with footrest and a center console with foldable table that serves as a floating desk. Think first-class seating on an airplane. Most impressive is the huge, 31-inch 8K theater screen that drops down from the ceiling and comes with Amazon Fire capability. All rear window shades lower and the panoramic-glass roof shade closes when in theater mode. Built tastefully into the armrest on each rear door is what looks like an Apple iPhone to control the rear lighting, movie screen and other functions. Any home theater system should be so good.

Racecar features. Up front, the driver is spoiled with many other goodies. A curved digital screen, the same as in the cutting-edge BMW iX SUV, houses a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 14.9-inch infotainment monitor. Two motors—one for each axle—creates an impressive 536-horsepower. Press the accelerator and—whoosh!—the i7 sprints from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. The amazing auto-leveling suspension absorbs potholes and speed bumps as if this 6,000-pound sedan were floating on air. 

Rolls-Royce aura. BMW, which also owns Rolls-Royce, has sprinkled the i7 with stately design cues. This includes softer, more graceful styling and none of the severe, chiseled angles of previous BMWs. Other plusses: Swarovski crystals in the headlights and 22 precision-focused LEDs in the high beams. But the illuminated grille, while impressive, has a more ominous vibe. (Stephen King’s Christine, anyone?) 

Full-size comfort. The i7 is a full-figured ride, more than 17-feet long and 6.4-feet wide. Here’s where the automatic parking comes in handy, allowing this BMW to parallel or perpendicular park itself. Trunk capacity is 18 cubic feet, which is decent but less than some competitors. Inside, though, there are plenty of clever storage compartments. 

A pretty penny. Full of options, my test car was a wallet-busting $152,000. But that’s a bargain—well, sort of—compared with the high-performance i7 M70. With 650 horsepower and a 0-to-60 time of 3.5 seconds, the M70 is the fastest all-electric M car ever made. It also costs $169,000. 

Alas, such sticker prices are too rich for my blood. Sorry Robert, maybe if we win the lottery.

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Real Estate

A look at down payment assistance programs

Pride in ourselves, Pride in homeownership

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(Photo by GaJaS/Bigstock)

One of the most popular questions at our home buyer seminars is “What are the down payment assistance or first-time homebuyer programs available where I live?”  There are various programs sponsored by multiple jurisdictions with the help of local banks, federal grants and loans as well. Knowledgeable lenders in the area will direct their eligible borrowers to these programs when a home purchase is being considered. Some of the programs are frequently mentioned in the local news: HPAP, EAHP, and DC Open Doors. There are also other options such as:

• FHLB grant for down payment assistance and/or closing costs

• Bank portfolio loans such as the Sandy Spring Bank loan, which can be 3% of the home purchase price – paired with a 97% first trust loan which is 100% financing at market rates

• Citibank Home Run

• Bank of America Down Payment Grant or Home Grant

• Chase Dream Maker Grant

• DC Open Doors – (DC Purchases only)

• HPAP/EAHP (for DC purchases only, when funds are available.)

All of these programs, grants, and loans come with guidelines and regulations, which may include income limits, household size limitations, geographic boundaries, homebuyer education classes, occupying the home as a primary residence, and funds availability. Some are easier to use and implement than others. Others may be available but can take 60 or more days to close on a home purchase, where another buyer may offer a seller a 30-day close. Some of these options may be stacked together to help build the buyer’s purchasing power.  

In many cases they are worth exploring, and “seeing if the shoe fits.” A knowledgeable lender will be able to help a prospective home buyer to “try on these shoes” and see if there is a good fit. The best local Realtors and lenders will help a buyer understand which can be used at the time of purchase, and what types of documentation are necessary for each instance.  

In our experience, the programs are there for those who need it, and in many cases make the difference between what a buyer has available to bring to the table, and what they need to get the “Sold” sign put out on the lawn, and the keys in their hand. Some buyers may decide to investigate these options and go without the program or the available funds anyway.  Perhaps the interest rate is higher when using a program as opposed to going without it, meaning the monthly payment will be more when you use these programs.  Each buyer has their own criteria of what makes a good fit for them.  As with anything, “Mama said you gotta shop around.”  It’s worth considering the various down payment & first time homebuyer assistance options available when looking to purchase and deciding which option(s) provide the best fit.  

Don’t hesitate to reach out for more information.

Joseph Hudson is a referral agent with Metro Referrals. Reach him at [email protected] or 703-587-0597. Tina Del Casale is a mortgage banker at Sandy Spring Bank. Reach her at 301-850-1326.

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Advice

How much fighting is OK in a relationship?

I love my boyfriend but we can’t agree on anything

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Is it good for couples to fight a lot? (Photo by Andrey Popov/Bigstock)

Dear Michael,

How much arguing is OK in a relationship?

Sometimes I think I’d like to spend the rest of my life with my boyfriend Adam but other times he drives me absolutely crazy.

We get into these fights where he just refuses to see it my way. He insists he’s right and digs in until I agree he has a point. He can never just agree with me or let it go.

The thing is, he doesn’t always have a point and if I won’t concede that he does, he says I don’t respect his intelligence.

Our fights range from Madonna’s talent (or lack thereof) to what is or isn’t OK to eat for breakfast, to whose job it is to take out the garbage, to what the best abs exercises are, to where we should go on vacation this summer, to whether recycling plastics accomplishes anything, to whether we should have sex in the morning or at night. I’m sick of it!

On the other hand, Adam is smart, funny, and super-hot. 

Is it normal for couples to fight so much? I don’t know why it’s so hard for him to see it my way sometimes.

Michael replies:

Sounds to me like you guys are in an ongoing power-control struggle where one of you is continuously trying to influence the other (power move), and the other one is continuously refusing to be influenced (control move).

There’s nothing “wrong” with making power and control moves. We all do them, all the time. They’re part of every relationship: Writing this reply, I’m making a power move, in that I’m wanting to influence the way you think about your relationship. If you disagree with me, you’re making a control move by not accepting my influence. No problem at all: You don’t have to let me (or anyone) influence you.

The problems arise when these moves become the ongoing operating system of your relationship. One of you keeps telling the other person how to behave or think, or what is “correct”; and the other won’t agree, no matter what the issue. You each dig in. Warmth and collaboration go out the window. You can’t have a loving relationship when you’re mired in a power-control struggle.

The problem is not that you two see things differently. That’s an unavoidable part of life.  In any relationship, partners will at times have very different opinions, even about very important matters. The problem is that you’re choosing to argue about it, to try to prove that you are right and the other person is wrong. He won’t see it your way and you won’t see it his way. 

Notice that I’m putting you in the same boat as Adam. That’s because you’re joining him in this dynamic.

One thing you two can do to get out of this dynamic is to stop arguing about things that are a matter of opinion. It’s not possible to prove you’re right. Doing so just gets you dug in against each other.  

In general, it’s a waste of time to argue about why you are right and your partner is wrong. If you win the argument, your partner loses. And if one of you is the loser, you both lose because you wind up with a bitter relationship.

Instead, you could have fun enjoying the reality that each of you has very different opinions, even about very important things, and each of you has the job of figuring out how to live and generally be happy with someone who is different in some big ways from you. 

If you each start letting yourself be influenced by your partner, even if you don’t always agree on what’s “best” or “right,” you’re going to open yourself up to all sorts of experiences, possibilities, and ways of looking at things that you hadn’t considered. That’s one of the great ways that relationships push us to grow.

If you think I have a point, I’m glad. You may decide you’d like to make some changes in your relationship. Remember, though, that Adam is his own person. Perhaps you’ll be able to influence him to consider a new way of approaching your differences, perhaps not. 

That said, you have a lot of power over yourself. And if you decide you don’t want to keep getting stuck in power-control struggles, you can change this dynamic on your own simply by not participating. Not in a game-playing, “I’m right and you’re wrong” way, but by taking the position, over and over, that you two are different and sometimes see things differently, and you aren’t going to fight about who is right and who is wrong, because that isn’t going to get you anywhere good.

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

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