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Calendar through July 18

Film screenings, parties, social groups, concerts and events

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Tchaikovsky, Nutcracker Suite, Aina Nergaard-Nammack, Gay News, Washington Blade
Tchaikovsky, Nutcracker Suite, Aina Nergaard-Nammack, Gay News, Washington Blade

Tchaikovsky from Nutcracker Suite’ by Aina Nergaard-Nammack is on display now at Touchstone Gallery, one of the many things to do this week on the LGBT events calendar. (Image courtesy Touchstone)

Friday, July 12

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. There is no cover charge, and admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For details, visit towndc.com.

The Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) hosts its monthly “Gay/Bash!” party tonight at 10 p.m. DJs Joshua and Dean spin rock and pop favorites all night. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased the day of the party. For more information, visit blackcatdc.com.

Touchstone Gallery (901 New York Ave., N.W.) hosts an opening reception from 6-8:30 p.m. tonight for the “Fragments of Classical Music” exhibition by Aina Nergaard-Nammack, who creates each painting based on music by classical composers. For more information, visit touchstonegallery.com.

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) hosts a “women in their twenties” meeting tonight from 8-9:30 p.m. Visit thedccenter.org for more information.

Sheryl Crow performs tonight with special guest Tyler Toliver in Central Park in Fredericksburg, Va., (1541 Carl D Silver Pkwy., Fredericksburg, Va.). Gates open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7. Admission ranges from $22.50-100. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit celebratevirginialive.com.

Special Agent Galactica performs tonight at Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) from 6-9 p.m. Admission is free and limited to guests 21 and over. For details, visit blackfoxlounge.com.

Saturday, July 13

Phase 1 of Dupont (1415 22nd St., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Booty Beach Ladies Dance Party.” The winner of the party’s bikini and board shorts contest will receive cash and prizes. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $5. Visit phase1dc.com for more information.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts “Latin Evolution” tonight from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. DJ Willie and DJ k. Milko spin, and the party features performances by Tatianna from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” with the Divas of Evolution. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For details and to purchase tickets, visit cobaltdc.com.

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) provides free HIV testing today from 4-7 p.m. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Indie rock trio Soundacity perform tonight at Black Fox Lounge from 9:30-10:45 p.m. Admission is $10. Visit blackfoxlounge.com for more details.

Sunday, July 14

Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) hosts karaoke tonight from 9 p.m.-midnight. Cover is $3, and there will also be pool, video gaming systems and cards. For more information, visit bachelorsmill.com.

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts its weekly Drag Brunch with Shi-Queeta Lee today at 11 a.m. The buffet is $24 including one free mimosa. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

The Lambda Sci-Fi group for LGBT science fiction, fantasy and horror fans meets this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at 1425 S St., N.W. Attendants are encouraged to bring a snack and non-alcoholic drink to share. For more details, visit lambdascifi.org.

Hand Poured, an LGBT sketch comedy group, performs this evening at Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) from 6-9 p.m. There will be an extended happy hour, with $7 “Sketch-tinis.” Admission is free. For details, visit blackfoxlounge.com.

Monday, July 15

The Fort Reno Summer Music Series continues tonight at Fort Reno Park (Chesapeake St. and Nebraska Ave., N.W.) from 7:15-9:30 p.m. This week’s local bands include Thundermilk, The Obsessives and Joy Buttons. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, visit fortreno.com.

Casa Ruby (2822 Georgia Ave., N.W.) provides a spanish-language career development workshop today from 4-6 p.m. Visit thedccenter.org for more information.

The AFI Silver screens footage of “La Sylphide,” performed by the world-famous Russian Bolshoi Ballet, today at 12:45 p.m. “La Sylphide” is one of the oldest surviving ballets from the Romantic period, dating back to August Bournonville’s 1836 original. Admission is $11.50. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit afi.com/silver.

Tuesday, July 16

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) hosts a genderqueer discussion group from 7-8 p.m. tonight for people who identify outside of the gender binary. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts a “FUK!T Packing Party” tonight from 7-9 p.m. Volunteers will help make FUK!T packets and TOOLK!Ts. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

Wednesday, July 17

Heist (1802 Jefferson Pl., N.W.) hosts its weekly open bar party tonight from 10-11 p.m. There is no cover charge and admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For details, visit heistdc.com or the Heist D.C. Facebook page.

Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) hosts drag bingo during happy hour tonight from 5-7:30 p.m. All drinks are half price and there will also be pool, video gaming systems and cards. Admission is free. For details, visit bachelorsmill.com.

The Dupont Drawing Group meets tonight at 7 p.m. at The Church of the Pilgrims (2201 P St., N.W.) to draw from the live model. The session is self-directed with no formal instruction and no materials are provided. Drawing spots and easels are available on a first come first serve basis, so guests should arrive anytime after 6:45. No reservations are required and a modest fee to pay the model will be collected. For more information, visit paulreuther.com.

The Lambda Bridge Club meets at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for social bridge. Participants do not need a partner. For more information, call 301-345-1571.

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) provides career development for LGBT individuals during its weekly “Job Club” event from 4-6 p.m. today. Visit thedccenter.org for more details.

Thursday, July 18

MOVA Lounge (2204 14th St., N.W.) hosts “GLBT College Night” this evening, with a vodka open bar for guests who have a college ID from 9-10 p.m. Admission is free and 18 and up. Visit movalounge.com for more details.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Ripped Hot Body Contest” tonight from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Lena Lett hosts the event and contestants can win up to $200 in prizes. $2 rail drinks will be served from 9-11 p.m. Admission is 18 and up and free. For details, visit cobaltdc.com.

The Fort Reno Summer Music Series continue tonight at Fort Reno Park (Chesapeake St. and Nebraska Ave., N.W.) from 7:15-9:30 p.m. This week’s local bands include Bearshark and Washington Bach Consort. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, visit fortreno.com.

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‘Queering Rehoboth Beach’ features love, loss, murder, and more

An interview with gay writer and historian James T. Sears

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'Queering Rehoboth Beach' book cover. (Image courtesy of Temple University Press)

James T. Sears book talk
Saturday, June 29, 5 p.m.
Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

When it comes to LGBTQ summer destinations in the Eastern time zone, almost everyone knows about Provincetown, Mass., Fire Island, N.Y., and Key West, Fla. There are also slightly lesser known, but no less wonderful places, such as Ogunquit, Maine, Saugatuck, Mich., and New Hope, Pa. Sandwiched in between is Rehoboth Beach, Del., a location that is popular with queer folks from D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The dramatic and inspiring story of how Rehoboth Beach came to be what it is today can be found in gay historian James T. Sears’s revealing new book “Queering Rehoboth Beach: Beyond the Boardwalk” (Temple University Press, 2024). As educational as it is dishy, “Queering Rehoboth Beach” provides readers with everything they need to know (and possibly didn’t realize they needed to know) about this fabulous locality. Sears was kind enough to make time to answer a few questions about the book.

WASHINGTON BLADE: James, it’s been a few years since I’ve interviewed you. The last time was in 1997 about your book “From Lonely Hunters to Lonely Hearts: An Oral History of Lesbian and Gay Southern Life.” At the time, you were living in Columbia, S.C. Where are you currently based, and how long have you been there?

JAMES T. SEARS: It has been great reconnecting with you. After that book, we moved to Charleston, S.C. There I wrote several more books. One was about the Mattachine group, focusing on one largely misunderstood leader, Hal Call. Another book shared reminisces of a 90-year-old gentleman, the late John Zeigler, interweaving his diaries, letters, and poetry to chronicle growing up gay in the South at the turn of the last century. From there I moved to Central America where I chronicled everyday queer life and learned Spanish. We returned several years ago and then washed up on Rehoboth Beach.

BLADE: In the introduction to your new book “Queering Rehoboth Beach: Beyond the Boardwalk” (Temple University Press, 2024), you write about how a “restaurant incident” in Rehoboth, which you describe in detail in the prologue, became a kind of inspiration for the book project. Please say something about how as a historian, the personal can also be political and motivational.

SEARS: I want to capture reader’s interest by personalizing this book more than I have others. The restaurant anecdote is the book’s backstory. It explains, in part, my motivation for writing it, and more crucially, introduces one meaning of “queering Rehoboth.” That is, in order to judge this “incident”—and the book itself—we need to engage in multiple readings of history, or at least be comfortable with this approach. I underscore that what is accepted as “history”—about an individual, a community, or a society—is simply a reflection of that era’s accepted view. Queering history challenges that consensus.

BLADE: Who do you see as the target audience for “Queering Rehoboth Beach?”

SEARS: Well, certainly if you have been to Rehoboth or reside there, this book provides a history of the town—and its queering—giving details that I doubt even locals know! Also, for those interested in the evolution of other East Coast queer resorts (Ptown, Fire Island, Key West) this book adds to that set of histories. My book will also be of interest to students of social change and community organizing. Most importantly, though, it is just a good summer read.

BLADE: “Queering Rehoboth Beach” features numerous interviews. What was involved in the selection process of interview subjects?

SEARS: I interviewed dozens of people. They are listed in the book as the “Cast of Narrators.” Before these interviews, I engaged in a systematic review of local and state newspapers, going back to Rehoboth’s founding as a Methodist Church Camp in 1873. I also read anecdotal stories penned by lesbians and gay men. These appeared in local or regional queer publications, such as Letters from CAMP Rehoboth and the Washington Blade. Within a year, I had compiled a list of key individuals to interview. However, I also interviewed lesbians, gay men, transgender individuals, and heterosexuals who lived or worked in Rehoboth sometime during the book’s main timeframe (1970s-2000s). I sought diversity in background and perspective. To facilitate their memories, I provided a set of questions before we met. I often had photos, letters, or other memorabilia to prime their memories during our conversation. 

BLADE: Under the heading of the more things change, the more they stay the same, the act of making homosexuality an issue in politics continues to this day. What do you think it will take for that to change?

SEARS: You pose a key question. Those who effectuated change in Rehoboth — queers and progressive straights — sought common ground. Their goal was to integrate into the town. As such, rather than primarily focus on sexual and gender differences, they stressed values held in common. Rather than proselytize or agitate, they opened up businesses, restored houses, joined houses of worship, and engaged in the town’s civic life. 

To foster and sustain change, however, those in power and those who supported them also had to have a willingness to listen, to bracket their presuppositions, and to engage in genuine dialogue. Violent incidents, especially one on the boardwalk, and the multi-year imbroglio of The Strand nightclub, gradually caused people to seek common ground.

That did not, however, come without its costs. For some — long separated from straight society — and for others — unchallenged in their heteronormativity — it was too great of a cost to bear. Further, minorities within the queer “community,” such as people of color, those with limited income, and transgender individuals, never entered or were never invited into this enlarging public square.

The troubles chronicled in my book occurred during the era of the “Moral Majority” and “Gay Cancer.” Nevertheless, it didn’t approach the degree of polarization, acrimony, fake news, and demagoguery of today. So, whether this approach would even be viable as a strategy for social change is debatable.

BLADE: In recent years, there has been a proliferation of books about LGBTQ bars, a subject that is prominent in “Queering Rehoboth Beach.” Was this something of which you were aware while writing the book, and how do you see your book’s place on the shelf alongside these other books?

SEARS: Queering heterosexual space has been a survival strategy for generations of queer folks. These spaces — under-used softball fields, desolate beaches, darkened parks, and out-of-the-way bars — are detailed in many LGBTQ+ books, from the classic, “Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold,” to the recently published “A Place of Our Own” and “The Bars Are Ours.” Of course, these spaces did not encompass the kaleidoscope of queer life, but they provide us a historical gateway into various segments of a queer community and culture.

This was certainly true for my book. Unsurprisingly, until The Strand controversy, which began in 1988, all of Rehoboth’s queer bars were beyond the town limits. There were, however, homosexual watering holes in the liminal sexual space. For instance, you had the Pink Pony on the boardwalk during the 1950s and the Back Porch Café during the 1970s. So, in this sense, I think “Queering Rehoboth Beach” fits well in this ever-enlarging canon of queer history.

BLADE: As one of the most pro-LGBTQ presidents in U.S. history, how much, if it all, did the Biden Delaware connection have to do with your desire to write “Queering Rehoboth Beach?”

SEARS: It is just a coincidence. Interestingly, as I was researching this book, I came across a 1973 news story about Sen. Joe Biden speaking at a civic association meeting. One of the 30 or so residents attending was James Robert Vane. The paper reported the senator being “startled” when Vane questioned him about the ban on homosexuals serving in the U.S. civil service and military. Uttering the familiar trope about being “security risks,” he then added, “I admit I haven’t given it much thought.” In Bidenesque manner, he paused and then exclaimed, “I’ll be darned!”

Biden was a frequent diner at the Back Porch Café, often using the restaurant’s kitchen phone for political calls. Like the progressives I spoke about earlier, he had lived in a heteronormative bubble—a Catholic one at that! Yet, like many in Rehoboth, he eventually changed his view, strongly advocating for queer rights as Vice President during the Obama administration.

BLADE: How do you think Rehoboth residents will respond to your depiction of their town?

SEARS: Well, if recent events are predictive of future ones, then I think it will be generally positive. My first book signing at the locally owned bookstore resulted in it selling out. The manager did tell me that a gentleman stepped to the counter asking, “Why is this queer book here?”— pointing to the front table of “Beach Reads.” That singular objection notwithstanding, his plan is to keep multiple boxes in stock throughout the summer.

BLADE: Over the years, many non-fiction and fiction books have been written about places such as Provincetown, Fire Island, and Key West. Is it your hope that more books will be written about Rehoboth Beach?

SEARS: My hope is that writers and researchers continue to queer our stories. Focusing on persons, events, and communities, particularly micro-histories, provides a richer narrative of queer lives. It also allows us to queer the first generation of macro-histories which too often glossed over everyday activists. So, as the saying goes, let a thousand flowers bloom.

BLADE: Do you think that “Queering Rehoboth Beach” would make for a good documentary film subject?

SEARS: Absolutely, although probably not on the Hallmark Channel [laughs]! It would make an incredible film — a documentary or a drama — even a mini-series. Because it focuses on people: their lives and dreams, their long-running feuds and abbreviated love affairs, their darker secrets, and lighter moments within a larger context of the country’s social transformation. “Queering Rehoboth Beach” details the town’s first gay murder, the transformation of a once homophobic mayor, burned-out bars, and vigilante assaults on queers, the octogenarian lesbian couple, living for decades in Rehoboth never speaking the “L word,” who die within months of one another. It, too, is a story of how the sinewy arms of Jim Crow affected white Rehoboth — gay and straight. In short, “Queering Rehoboth Beach” is about a small beach town, transformed generation over generation like shifting sands yet retaining undercurrents of what are the best and worst in American life and culture.

BLADE: Have you started thinking about or working on your next book?

SEARS: The manuscript for this book was submitted to the publisher more than a year ago. During that time, I’ve been working on my first book of fiction. It is a queer novel set in early nineteenth century Wales against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars and industrialization. I want to transport the reader into an era before the construction of homosexuality and at the inception of the women’s movement. How does one make meaning of sexual feelings toward the same gender or about being in the wrong gender? In the process of this murder mystery, I integrate Celtic culture and mythology and interrogate how today’s choices and those we made in the past (and in past lives) affect our future and those of others.

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PHOTOS: Capital Pride Parade

Annual LGBTQ march takes new route

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Cheer DC marches in the 2024 Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 8. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 2024 Capital Pride Parade was held in downtown Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 8. The 49th annual march was moved this year from the Dupont Circle area to 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Billy Porter and Keke Palmer served as the parade’s grand marshals. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff made an appearance at the beginning of the parade.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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PHOTOS: RIOT! Capital Pride Opening Party

LGBTQ community celebration held at Echostage

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RIOT! Capital Pride Opening Party is held at Echostage on Friday, June 7. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Capital Pride weekend festivities began with the RIOT! Capital Pride Opening Party at Echostage on Friday, June 7.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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