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2nd suspect arrested in assault on drag performer

Women plead not guilty in attack captured on video

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Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade
drag, Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Drag performer Miles Denaro, 24, says he was attacked by two women who called him a ‘tranny’ and ‘faggot.’ (Screen capture)

D.C. police on July 3 arrested the second of two women accused of assaulting a gay male drag performer inside a carry out pizza restaurant in Northwest D.C. that was captured on video and created an uproar in the LGBT community.

Authorities charged Rachel Manna Sahle, 22, with simple assault and attempted second-degree theft for allegedly trying to steal the victim’s purse, according to a charging document filed in court by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Raymone Harding, 28, who was charged one day earlier with a single count of simple assault, and Sahle appeared at a D.C. Superior Court arraignment on July 3, where the two pled not guilty to the charges filed against them.

Judge Karen Howze released them on personal recognizance pending trial on condition that they undergo drug testing, report to the court’s Pre-Trial Services Agency, and stay away from Miles Denaro, 24, the drag performer the two are accused of assaulting.

Charging documents filed in court identify Harding as a nurse.

Howze ordered Sahle and Harding to return to court on Sept. 5 for a status hearing before Judge Juliet McKenna, who will take over the case at that time. Court records identify the two women as residents of Gaithersburg, Md.

Drag performer Denaro, a D.C. resident, told the Blade he identifies as a gay man. He told police and the Blade that the two women dragged him by his hair across the floor at Manny & Olga’s pizza carry out restaurant at 1841 14th St., N.W., while they punched and kicked him in the face and body.  A police report says the incident took place shortly after 3 a.m. on Sunday, June 23.

drag, hate crime, Manny & Olga's, gay news, Washington Blade

A video of the altercation involving drag performer Miles DeNiro early Sunday morning at Manny & Olga’s pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W., shows these two women assaulting DeNiro as one of them drags him by his hair across the floor. (Screen captures)

Denaro said he was dressed as a woman when he entered the restaurant shortly after finishing a drag performance at the nearby Black Cat nightclub. He said the two women started the altercation by making fun of his makeup, with one of them, Sahle, touching his face. He said one of them slapped him in the face after he demanded that they leave him alone. He said the women called him a “tranny” and “faggot” as the incident unfolded.

LGBT activists who watched the video posted online have expressed concern that employees at the restaurant didn’t intervene and, according to police, did not call police while the incident unfolded.

A D.C. police arrest affidavit filed in court says Harding and Sahle gave a different account of what happened than that given by Denaro. It says Harding described the incident as a fight “among several intoxicated customers.”

The affidavit says Sahle accused Denaro of biting her on her thigh in the midst of the fight. She said he told her she would get AIDS as a result of the bite, according to the affidavit.

Denaro told the Blade he bit Sahle in self-defense while he was pinned down on the floor by Harding and while Sahle was pulling out his hair. He said he informed the two women he has HIV after he realized his head was bleeding from injuries he received from the assault.

The affidavit says police decided to charge Sahle and Harding in the case after police investigators observed the video taken by one of the customers at the restaurant that was posted on at least three websites and after viewing a second video provided by Manny & Olga’s that was taken by the restaurant’s security surveillance cameras.

“Defendant 1 [Sahle] was face to face with the complainant and attempted to snatch his purse and then grabbed the complainant’s hair,” the police affidavit says. “Defendant 1 pulled the complainant several feet by his hair…then let go of the hair and threw several punches at the complainant’s head,” it says, citing police observation of both videos.

The affidavit says Denaro spit at Defendant 2 [Harding] after Harding “grabbed the complainant’s wrists and pushed him against a wall in the corner of the store, holding him against the wall.”

At that point, Sahle “grabbed the complainant’s hair and both Defendant 1 and Defendant 2 began punching the complainant in the face and head,” the affidavit says.

The incident involving the alleged assault against Denaro is one of six incidents in D.C. over an eight-day period beginning June 21 in which two transgender women were shot and wounded, a lesbian was shot to death, two other trans women were stabbed and another was sexually assaulted.

Police said only one of the six incidents — the non-fatal shooting of a transgender woman — is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Police officials have said the others were linked to robbery attempts or a dispute between the suspect and victim. Police have not said what they believe the motive was that triggered the assault against Denaro.

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Virginia

Youngkin vetoes bill that would have expanded Va. bullying definition

Bisexual state Del. Joshua Cole introduced House Bill 536

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Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks at a CNN Town Hall on March 9, 2023. (Screen capture via CNN)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Friday vetoed a bill that would have added sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to the state’s definition of bullying.

Lawmakers earlier this year approved House Bill 536, which bisexual state Del. Joshua Cole (D-Fredericksburg) introduced. 

“While I agree with the general purpose of the legislation, regrettably, the General Assembly did not approve my amendments,” said Youngkin in a statement. “Those recommendations would have expanded the definition of bullying to encompass all possible motives.”

“School administrators must work to prevent bullying and support our students’ mental health through a healthy learning environment, but the narrow definition provided in the legislation could be interpreted to exclude groups not included in the Virginia Human Rights Act, such as bullying victims raised with traditional values or those who are in foster care,” added the Republican.

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Rehoboth Beach

Selling Rehoboth: Lee Ann Wilkinson wins prestigious real estate award

Longtime agent on beach prices, her LGBTQ allyship, and more

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Lee Ann Wilkinson doesn’t see real estate prices coming down anytime soon at the beach. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

Longtime Delaware real estate leader Lee Ann Wilkinson of Berkshire Hathaway recently celebrated a major industry award after being named No. 1 in total sales volume for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Network. Wilkinson, a Blade contributor, centers much of her work in the coastal communities of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. We caught up with her to discuss her long career in real estate, her LGBTQ allyship, and more.

Washington Blade: I learned your parents were in real estate, and you began working with them early on in your career. Did you initially intend to follow in their footsteps? 

Lee Ann Wilkinson: Not really. I majored in art. When I got out of college I couldn’t really find a job. So, my parents said, “You need to come work for us.”

Blade: I understand that as an art history major turned writer. Speaking of that: I know you have written some pieces for the Blade, about real estate trends, and the like. How do you pick your topics for these articles? 

Wilkinson:  People always want to know about real estate. Whether buying a first home, second home, a home to invest or retire in. It amazes even me how much interest there is. And it’s not just people looking to buy a $7 million home on beachfront property. It’s people looking to get something in budget for their family.

Blade: I know you have a lot of work in Rehoboth, the Delaware Valley’s historically gay beachside community. Was there ever a time you were NOT selling property to – I guess it was fair to say 40 years ago – mostly gay men? 

Wilkinson: Ha, I grew up coming down for the summer until my family moved here full-time from Norristown, outside of Philly. We had businesses and family in Rehoboth. I think Rehoboth has always been gay-friendly. We never thought about it. My grandfather had a house in Rehoboth before I was born. The gay population was always welcome.

Blade: Do you have a connection to the LGBTQ community beyond real estate? 

Wilkinson: Absolutely. One of my closest friends is a guy I went to college with at the University of Delaware, Joey. You know, Joey was maybe my first gay friend. In fact, we all went to the Easter Sunrise Service on the beach in Rehoboth. We have gay family members, so I have never thought that much about it being anything different.

Blade: I know you recently won a prestigious award with Berkshire Hathaway and were surprised to come in first place. Why?

Wilkinson: For the past 20 years or so we have been in the top 10. We started doing these national things with Berkshire Hathaway. To get in the top 10 was amazing to me especially going up against states like Florida, New Jersey, not to mention San Francisco or Bay Area agents. I just never thought we’d get to the number one spot. My only issue is — where to go now?

Blade: Where do you make your primary residence? Is that Lewes? Do you see the president on occasion? 

Wilkinson: I haven’t seen him at the beach. But he’s on the bike trail a lot. He pops up having breakfast. He goes to Mass at St. Edmond’s in Rehoboth on Saturday evening. But I’m often too busy with work on weekends to catch sight of him.

Blade: Having been in the industry 40 years, how do you find ways to get excited about your work? 

Wilkinson: I really am passionate about it. I really love a challenge. That’s part of the appeal for this job. I always like matching people with things. I really liked getting people the right bathing suits years ago. Selling, it’s just something I’m good at. I would get customers walking outta’ the store with three or four bathing suits when they only wanted one. 

Blade: Are you considering retiring in the next few years? Or will you always be associated with the industry on some level. Maybe as a mentor or silent partner? 

Wilkinson: Oh, no, I’ll always be involved. Three of my four daughters work for me. I am not retiring anytime soon. And if I did, they would be here to continue it on, and I am sure I’d weigh in.

Blade: So, this is very much a family legacy?

Wilkinson: Yeah. My parents are 87 and 91 now. Some 20 years ago mom predicted we’d see an increase in prices, people moving here, etc. I don’t know how she predicted it but mom is right.

Blade: Any current trends you’re noticing? 

Wilkinson: This cycle of people moving here, and prices increasing, and all the building happening. People think the prices are going to come down, but I don’t see that happening.

Blade: Tell me about that. Are the new building ventures changing the faces of Rehoboth and Lewes? After not visiting the Jersey Shore for over a decade I’ve been going the past few summers to my cousin’s place in Cape May. It’s a trailer on a nicely maintained campground and it’s what she can afford. And, there’s so much building happening there.

Wilkinson: Right? It’s about finding a second home you can afford. And, in terms of building projects, the good thing about Rehoboth and Lewes is they are strict on what you can and can’t build downtown. They aren’t going to tear down homes to build multi-family condos, not yet anyway. In Spring Lake, you are seeing townhomes. So, building is happening and we have some condos, but it’s great to not see “overbuilding” happening in these historically smaller cities.

To learn more about Ms. Wilkinson, or property in Sussex County, DE be sure to look for articles she publishes in the Blade and visit the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group website.

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Local

Blum named director of new LGBTQ program at Carr Center

Program to expand research, training on safeguarding human rights

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Diego Garcia Blum

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Diego Garcia Blum on his new position as director, Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program, at the Harvard, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. This new program will expand research and training on safeguarding the human rights of LGBTQI+ people worldwide. It will address the escalating crisis of violence and discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals globally. The vision is to establish the Carr Center as a key international nexus for LGBTQI+ human rights policy, training, ideas, and dialogue

 “The heart of this program is empowering and supporting the brave LGBTQI+ activists working in challenging and often perilous environments,” Garcia Blum said. “Through our training and high-impact research, we aim to supercharge their efforts.”

Prior to this, he has had a varied and impressive career. Recently he served as a Social Change Fellow at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. He worked with the Human Rights Campaign, serving on its Board of Governors. Prior to that, he worked as a nuclear engineer at Orano, a French company. It is described as a global leader in nuclear fuel cycle products and services, from mining to dismantling, conversion, enrichment, recycling, logistics and engineering. He has won many awards for his work and education. The Innovation CORE award at Orano; The Dean Joseph Weil Leadership Award, University of Florida; Most Outstanding Master in Public Policy Student – Ellen Raphael Award, Harvard Kennedy School. 

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