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Ain’t no mountain high enough

Gay climber uses passion to raise money for Trevor Project

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Casin Crane, Mt. Everest, Trevor Project, Gay News, Washington Blade
Casin Crane, Mt. Everest, Trevor Project, Gay News, Washington Blade

Casin Crane atop Mt. Everest. (Photo courtesy Crane)

The names Kilimanjaro, Denali, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Carstensz Pyramid, Vinson and Everest might not be mean much to the average person, but for a mountain climber, these represent the Seven Summits, a collection of select peaks spanning the far reaches of the globe.

The Seven Summits are comprised of the highest mountain peaks on each of the seven continents and to date, only about 400 people have climbed them all. The latest is 20-year-old Cason Crane of Lawrenceville, N.J.

Crane journeyed from the rarified air of the Himalaya to the plains of Africa to the polar glaciers of Antarctica, becoming the fifth youngest and first openly gay person to complete the Seven Summits. He finished this amazing achievement in April with the successful ascents of Mt. Everest and Mt. McKinley back to back.

“It feels great. I’m relieved because it’s a pretty dangerous endeavor and a lot of people aren’t able to do them without getting frostbite and I’m very lucky to come back with all my fingers and toes,” Crane says. “I don’t feel like some overwhelming sense of joy, but I’m really proud to have set the goal for myself and to have worked really hard over the last 15 months to achieve it.”

The driving force behind Crane’s passion was his effort to raise money for a non-profit lifeline for LGBT youth called The Trevor Project.

“When I was in junior high, I had a good friend who committed suicide and though she wasn’t a lesbian, many people assumed she was and she was a very strong ally for me,” he says. “She was a great friend and this devastated me. I soon learned of the Trevor Project and realized I wanted to find a way to support them, but with school and other things, I wasn’t sure what I could do.”

Soon after, Crane learned about the death of Tyler Clementi, a gay teenager from his home state of New Jersey who had been bullied, then killed himself.

“His death opened my eyes to the growing problem of youth suicide, specifically in the LGBTQ community,” Crane says. “I decided I would attempt to climb those summits to raise awareness and funds for the Trevor Project, to help more LGBTQ youth get the help they need and to call attention to this important issue.”

Calling his mission the Rainbow Summits Project, to date Crane, via fundraisers and donations to his website casoncrane.com, has raised about $135,000 for his cause, with none of the money being used to pay for his climbing trips.

“I’m more proud that I have raised this money, which is more amazing to me than climbing the Seven Summits,” he says. “I’m not done yet. I’m hoping more people learn of what I’ve done and look into this great organization.”

For its part, the Trevor Project is impressed by his efforts and gave him its first Trevor Youth Innovator Award at an event in New York City in June.

“Cason is truly an inspiration,” Abbe Land, executive director and CEO of the Trevor Project, said in an e-mail. “He not only has accomplished incredible feats while climbing the Seven Summits, but Cason has also worked to inspire LGBTQ youth and raise awareness about the Trevor Project’s life-saving, life-affirming services. As a community, we are fortunate that young leaders like Cason are in our midst.”

Crane grew up loving adventure and caught the mountaineering bug when he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with his mother in 2008 at age 15

“I have loved the outdoors since I was very young and always hiked in my spare time. I’ve been an adventurous person for as long as I can remember,” he says. “Kilimanjaro wasn’t a hard mountain. It’s not technical or particularly challenging, but the experience of going up and climbing was novel and new to me. I loved it. It made hiking that much better because now there was this awesome goal to reach the summit.”

Once he decided to shoot for the rest, he faced many challenges along the way. For one, his parents didn’t want him to do it, so that meant figuring out all the logistics of each mountain, contacting the Trevor Project to let them know of his mission and preparing for each climb on his own. Despite their initial hesitation, Crane’s parents did eventually help finance his trips, which he says enabled him to raise “a lot more for the Trevor Project than I would have otherwise.” Those who’ve done the Seven Summits say it can easily cost about $170,000 to secure guides, permits, airfare, equipment and training.

Then of course, there were the climbs. Crane estimates that over the last 15 months, he spent about five months in tents on mountains — his rainbow flag outside of each one. He endured negative 40-degree temperatures, massive blizzards, howling winds and terrain that is foreign to most people.

Although he says for the most part the mountain climbing community is a close-knit group with lots of encouraging words, he did experience some mistreatment because he is gay.

“I encountered a group of climbers on my climb of Denali in Alaska who were not so pleased by the fact that I had my rainbow flag hung outside my tent,” he says. “They said some not-so-nice things and that was very disappointing. When you get used to being totally accepted, to have that come was a shock.”

Crane wouldn’t let that derail his mission and not soon after he became one of the select few to complete what every mountaineer dreams of.

The 20-year-old will be starting Princeton University (studying international relations and Arabic) in the fall but will continue to speak at schools and other gatherings about his climbs in hopes of raising more money and awareness. Possible upcoming trips include visits to the North and South Poles, as well as some climbing out West.

“I’m not doing anything particularly courageous. The courageous people are kids who are standing up to their bullying,” Crane says. “I climbed some big mountains, which is a great physical challenge but I have so much more respect for these kids who face what they do each day. I didn’t have to deal with as much bullying as a mass majority of the LGBT kids do, and I want them to know I am inspired by them.”

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Richard Noble

    July 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    I LOVE IT!

  2. Winifred Preston Barrick

    August 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Congratulations, Cason! You did it and that is so awesome! Your family and friends have to be extremely proud of you as well.

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Real Estate

Helpful tips for homebuyers in seller’s market

2021 has been a great year for home sales

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COVID-19 housing market, gay news, Washington Blade

Without question, 2021 was a great year for home sales. Sellers across the country, in many cases, found themselves listing their homes and quickly having not just one, but multiple offers, many of which were at asking price or above. With limited inventory and high demand, it has been an ideal year to sell—and conversely, often a difficult year to buy. Buyers who are interested in a particular home, or even in a specific neighborhood, often find themselves facing stiff competition to have offers accepted. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that many buyers haven’t had successful and rewarding home buying experiences—just that doing so often means making an extra effort and taking helpful steps to make an offer the most competitive that it can be. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few helpful tips for buyers in a seller’s market:

  • Plan ahead with mortgage pre-approval: While there are certainly a wide variety of strategies that real estate agents and financial advisors may recommend, and while those strategies might vary depending upon the buyer and the circumstances of a particular market, one thing almost all experts agree on is that obtaining a mortgage preapproval is a smart decision. A mortgage preapproval is an ideal way to reassure sellers that a reputable lender has verified your credit and approved your buying power up to a certain limit. If you’re caught in a bidding war with another potential buyer, having preapproval establishing that you are ready, willing, and able to buy just might give you the advantage you need in a competitive market.
  • Be willing to look under budget so you can bid higher: In this highly competitive market, many home buyers find themselves in a situation where they are in a bidding war with another—or even several other—buyers. In that situation, you may find yourself having to make an offer at, or even in many cases, above, the asking price. This means that you may want to adjust your budget—and bidding—accordingly. Choosing to make an offer on a home that has an asking price that is already at the top of your budget may mean that you simply don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to making an offer over that price. Choosing a home slightly under the top of your budget means you’ll have more flexibility to make a bid that is more competitive and likely to be accepted.
  • Consider offering non-price-oriented incentives: Without question, making a highly competitive offer is going to be the key to increasing your chances of having that offer accepted. It’s important to remember that there is more to an offer than just price, however. Buyers may want to consider increasing the appeal of an offer by supplementing it with other incentives beyond just the dollar amount itself. Examples of such incentives might include things like foregoing the seller-paid home warranty that is often offered as part of the process, offering a shorter closing period, not making the purchase contingent upon the sale of a currently-owned home, or other such incentives. Doing so may give you the edge you need to have your offer selected over other competitive bids.
  • Retain the right real estate agent: Often, for LGBTQ buyers, especially in a competitive market, this piece of the puzzle is particularly important. In many, although certainly not all, cases LGBTQ buyers are drawn to specific areas of a city or community where other LGBTQ individuals live. That means that in a market where inventory is already limited and going quickly, there can be even fewer homes available upon which to bid. When that is the case, you will need a real estate agent who knows the community that you’re interested in, and who can quickly help you identify and take action toward making offers on homes that fit your needs. Having the right agent can make all the difference between a smooth and successful home-buying experience, and a stressful one

Jeff Hammerberg (he/him/his) is the Founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526, [email protected] or GayRealEstate.com

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Dining

Jane Jane brings throwback joy to busy 14th Street

Cocktail bar characterized by warm Southern hospitality

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(Photo courtesy of Deney Lam)

There is no standing at Jane Jane, the new classic cocktail bar in the heart of 14th Street. Its 850 square feet is for sitting and savoring, drinking in the relaxed retro vibe and the thoughtful craft cocktails. 

At the foot of the mixed-use Liz development where Whitman-Walker is the major tenant, Jane Jane’s creative use of a shoebox-sized space brings throwback joy to a busy thoroughfare. 

In the pre-COVID days of 2019, Whitman-Walker approached the Jane Jane owners, hospitality veterans Jean Paul (JP) Sabatier, Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield, all gay men, to make good use of the vacant parcel, and ensure it would be run by LGBTQ entrepreneurs. “It required some gymnastics because of the layout,” says Brabham, “but we came up with this cozy classic cocktail concept.” 

The hangout spot is an effort by the trio to “celebrate hospitality. We want everyone who walks into the space to feel like friends of ours we are having over for drinks or a bite. Its a cocktail party in our home,” he says. They felt connected to the idea of a tiny bar—a space where they would want to have a drink.

Named for Brabham’s mother, Jane Jane is as alluring and lively as it is intimate, each detail in the experience characterized by warm Southern hospitality—right from the bowl of spiced nuts that swiftly appear at each table at the beginning of service.

Sabatier, who has held stints at D.C. institutions like Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Maydan, and Compass Rose, oversees the bar and cocktail program, organized by spirit. (For their part, Brabham and Porterfield, romantic partners, also act as co-owners of Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop; Porterfield is also the current Curator and Director of Long View Gallery in Shaw.)

Sabatier has presented classic cocktails with a few noteworthy nods to current zeitgeist, as imagined by his lengthy experience behind the bar. The booklet-like menu includes a broad selection of familiar favorites like a Negroni, Manhattan, martini, but also features Sabatier’s handpicked favorite classics like the Boulevardier (a whiskey Negroni), Last Word (gin married to herbaceous green chartreuse) and Air Mail (rum, honey and cava). Drinks fall in the $13-$16 range; a “Golden Hour” runs daily until 7 p.m. featuring beer and wine specials and a punch of the day. 

Sabatier’s creative juices flow on the first page through cocktails like the vividly named Tears at an Orgy, with brandy, orange and maraschino, as well as the best-selling, highly Instagrammable Crop Top, a gin cocktail with a red-wine floater—and a name that matches the look of the bi-color drink. “It’s fun, delicious, and speaks to the space,” says Sabatier. He notes that their vodka of choice comes from Civic, a local, women- and LGBTQ-owned distillery.

Sabatier, a classically trained chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate, also oversees the small selection of bar bites (the space has no kitchen, part of the required “gymnastics” to make it functional.)

Beyond the complimentary vessel of rosemary-flecked mixed nuts, other bar snacks run from pickled vegetables to a Southern-style Pimento cheese dip and an onion dip creamy enough to make your grandmother blush. The “Jane’s Caviar” dish is a spread of trout roe and crème fraiche and comes with a towering mound of shatteringly crisp chips. A weekend brunch is in the works, which will serve goodies from local bakeries.

The retro-style interior recalls both California and the South, with only 32 seats inside and a 14-seat patio. Cozy booths done up in a hunter green as warm and inviting as a cool aunt are slung below walnut-wood walls and bar. Bright patterned tiles run the length of the floor; the back wall has playful cocktail wallpaper. A charming needlepoint by the restrooms kindly requests of guests, “please don’t do coke in the bathroom.”

The owners note that while Jane Jane is not explicitly a gay bar, its location in a traditionally gay-welcoming institution means that it has LGBTQ in its bones.

“Supporting LGBTQ people, businesses, and causes has been in Jane Jane’s ownership’s DNA at every establishment at which they have been involved,” they say, having supported local LGBTQ+ organizations like Casa Ruby, Victory Fund, SMYAL and the Human Rights Campaign, among others. 

Porterfield says that they were surprised that, given the locale, people assumed Jane Jane was a gay bar. “It’s not a gay or straight bar, just a fantastic cocktail bar that welcomes anyone to hang out with us,” he says. 

Nevertheless, the owners have taken into consideration the significance of being in the Liz development, as both gay men and as part of the hospitality industry. “It highlights the lack of representation as gay owners in this bar and restaurant world,” says Porterfield. They note the lack of women, LGBTQ and BIPOC representation. 

“It’s very special to us that we opened in this space,” says Porterfield, “so we want to show that we have opened a place that is all about inclusivity.”

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Autos

One lean, mean green machine

New Ford Mustang Mach-E is electrifying

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(Photo courtesy of Ford)

Here’s a shocker: Electric vehicles have been around for over 180 years. By the time of the first Hershey bar in 1900, EVs had hit their own sweet spot—surging to almost 30 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. But when Henry Ford began to produce cars on his moving assembly line in 1913, the popularity of the gas-powered Model T soon short-circuited EV sales. Cue to a century later, when the debut of the all-electric Nissan Leaf in 2010 sent a jolt through the auto industry. Yet it would take another decade to get drivers charged up about anything other than gas-powered rides. Today, it’s hard to keep track of all the EVs out there, along with other green machines like hybrids. While the current microchip shortage has slowed or stopped production on many cars for now, I was lucky enough to drive the all-new, all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E. The experience was, well, truly electrifying.

Ford Mustang Mach-E
$47,000
Range: up to 305 miles
0 to 60 mph: 4.2 seconds

When the Ford Mustang Mach-E was first announced, many auto aficionados were left scratching their heads. After all, a Mustang is one of the most iconic muscle cars ever created, and the Mach-E designation sounds suspiciously like the “Mach-1” branding used on flashy high-performance Stangs. Yet this new Mustang is a crossover SUV—and an electric one to boot. While the initial designs were captivating, plenty of skeptics remained. Luckily, they needn’t have worried. I was mesmerized the moment the Mach-E arrived, eager to run my hand along its sinewy side panels and strapping rear end. To keep the design as aerodynamic as possible, there are no traditional door handles. Instead, you use the key fob, your smartphone or a push button on the window frame to pop open the door. 

On the inside, there’s a small latch in the armrest versus the typical door handle. Such design elements are not only aesthetically pleasing, they also save space and reduce weight. Other novelties: This is the first Ford vehicle to use recycled animal-free fabrics, as well as a vegan steering wheel that’s as durable as leather. On the space-age dashboard, the premium Bang & Olufsen speakers are concealed beneath fabric covers that mimic the look of pricey home-theater speakers. And the unique design of the quiet cabin allows for a subwoofer that is 50 percent lighter than usual, yet still retains a deep rich clarity. As for the gigantic 15.5-inch vertical touchscreen in the center of the dash, it resembles a sort of funky oversized iPad from “The Orville.” Along with large climate controls for easier viewing, the touchscreen has interactive maps to locate the nearest charging stations. Those maps came in handy during two weekend trips, as did the heavily bolstered seats that helped prevent driver fatigue but also were easy on the tush. In total, there are five Mach-E trim levels, each with differing configurations for power and range (the distance you can travel on a full charge). 

While even the base-model Mach-E is fast and lively, it’s the high-test GT version that strikes like a thunder bolt. Rocketing from 0 to 60 seconds in just 3.8 seconds, the Mach-E GT is quicker than a Toyota Supra super coupe. And thanks to lower-than-expected ground clearance and a superb suspension, the Mach-E is just as agile. Those grippy regenerative brakes help, of course, allowing you to speed up or slow down using only the accelerator pedal. 

It’s worth noting there are other EVs in the Ford stable, including the electric F-150 Lightning full-size pickup, the E-Transit commercial van and various green machines on the way. By 2030, Ford is aiming for 40 percent of its global sales to be EVs. That’s a great goal for a company that once helped pull the plug on the “electric horseless carriage” but today is leading the charge with its own cutting-edge EVs.

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