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Team DC assists youth with scholarships

Seeks to encourage inclusion, empower athletes



Sarah Kerndt, Team D.C., gay news, Washington Blade, Laura Ventura
Sarah Kerndt, Team D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

One of Team DC’s scholarship recipients, Sarah Kerndt (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Team DC, the Washington area’s largest LGBT athletics organization, has a mission beyond organizing sports leagues and events for D.C.’s LGBT community. With its student-athlete scholarships, handed out annually to four to six outstanding LGBT athletes in the region, Team DC helps empower gay youth and encourage inclusion.

“By doing things like [the scholarships], I think we help push the conversation forward to be inclusive of LGBT athletes, and LGBT athletes themselves know they are supported and not alone,” said Brent Minor, executive director of Team D.C. “The scholarship program has given us more to be about than just organizing participation in the Gay Games. This helps to establish a stronger and a fuller identity for Team DC”

Team DC’s scholarships provide up to $2,000 for graduating high school seniors who reside in the D.C. metropolitan area and identify as LGBT. Recipients are chosen based not only on athletic success, but also on academic excellence and their promise of serving as positive role models for other LGBT youth.


A diverse committee of educators and parents of LGBT student-athlete college graduates decide which students in the area fulfill the scholarship’s criteria. Although the scholarships are exclusively for LGBT youth, Team DC does not require the recipients to publicly disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“People think all gay youths are coming out now, but that’s definitely not true,” Minor says. “This program is not outing anybody at all. We’re happy to respect their desire to not be out. It adds extra difficulty to talk about not just openly gay students, but openly gay athletes.”

Team DC awarded four local LGBT student-athletes scholarships this year, including Laura Ventura and Sarah Kerndt.

Laura Ventura, Team D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

Laura Ventura (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ventura, a Silver Spring, Md., native who identifies as pansexual, received the Team D.C. scholarship for her talent as a rower on the crew team at Walter Johnson High School where she recently graduated. Ventura had positive experiences being out to her teammates, despite sometimes having to explain what pansexuality — attraction to people of all gender identities and biological sexes — is.

“A lot of people on my team were extremely accepting, or somewhere on the LGBT spectrum themselves. I had to explain [pansexuality], but after the initial explanation that was it,” Ventura says. “My team is a very close-knit team, where we call each other family.”

Ventura was heavily involved with raising awareness of LGBT issues at Walter Johnson, particularly as the president of the school’s Queer-Straight Alliance.

“We did a lot of events,” she says. “We went to D.C. Pride together, saw a lot of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington shows and did Day of Silence. We did a lot of events not just with the club, but with the whole school. I was really excited to win the scholarship because I felt like I had done a lot for my school in trying to gain awareness — on my team and at the school in general. It shows that what I’ve done to teach acceptance has been appreciated by the scholarship committee.”

Ventura is studying nursing at Pace University in New York City next year, which does not have a rowing team. She plans to row for outside clubs in the city.

Sarah Kerndt is a lesbian from Springfield, Va., who graduated earlier this year from West Springfield High School. Team DC awarded her with a scholarship for her gift as a forward on her high school’s basketball team and as a lacrosse goalie. Like Ventura, she largely had positive experiences being out on both teams and was able to confront teammates who made homophobic remarks.

“There were only a couple of incidents where somebody made a remark like ‘That’s so gay.’ I felt comfortable enough around my teammates to approach them about it,” Kerndt says. “I had other teammates who would support me.”

Basketball had always been Kerndt’s sport, but during her junior year she picked up lacrosse. Next year she starts her college career at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., and plans to play for the school’s lacrosse team rather than continuing basketball.

Kerndt was initially waitlisted by Christopher Newport, which was her top-choice, but a chat between her high school lacrosse coach and the university’s lacrosse coach helped to expedite a decision. She wants to play college lacrosse not only because she loves the sport, but also to honor her coach who helped her out.

“I started applying to colleges, and from Christopher Newport I actually got waitlisted. My coach told me she knew the lacrosse coach there, and she told me she could probably get me off the waitlist and she did,” Kerndt says. “I definitely love lacrosse, but I also want to play it for my coach who helped me out.”

Kerndt was ecstatic to win the Team DC scholarship because she says it demonstrates the support LGBT students can find from their community and allows her to tell younger students about this support.

“My first reaction was freaking out over it, because I guess, it’s amazing to see that there are scholarships like Team DC out there,” Kerndt says. “There is a strong LGBT community out there to support everybody, including athletes. I was really honored to be accepted for this — who wouldn’t be?”

Kerndt’s sense of responsibility in educating others and setting a good example is precisely the goal of the Team DC scholarship program.

“Coaches and administrators are often unaware that gays and lesbians play sports, or that that’s even an issue. Sports are one of the last bastions where LGBT participation is not particularly encouraged,” Minor says. “The core mission of Team DC is how to dispel stereotypes. It’s about educating people about the LGBT community and offering more opportunities to play sports.”

Applications for the 2014 Team DC scholarships will start being accepted on Sept. 1. Visit for more information, or to apply for or donate to the Team D.C. scholarship program.



Comings & Goings

Peter Chandler named executive director of Internet Works



Peter Chandler

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 Peter Chandler on being named executive director of Internet Works. Since 2020, Internet Works has worked to ensure the voice of small and medium-sized online platforms is included in policy discussions typically targeted at the largest companies.

Laura Bisesto, chair of the board, said “We’re thrilled that Peter Chandler has joined as Internet Works’ Executive Director. The tech policy space is constantly changing, especially around intermediary liability, and as we work to ensure small and medium-sized tech companies are included in the policy debates lawmakers are having around the country, Peter was a natural fit for us.”

Chandler has 30 years of campaign, political, legislative, and advocacy experience at the state and federal levels. He previously served as Senior Vice President of Federal Policy and Government Relations at TechNet. During his time at the association, Peter was named a “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill newspaper. Prior to that he served as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine). Chandler has also consulted and trained numerous political and advocacy groups, including the ACLU, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute, and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in 1998. In 2020, he was elected to the board of the National LGBTQ Task Force.

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District of Columbia

New D.C. walking tour highlights LGBTQ history

Zach Patalingjug launched company in June in time for Pride Month



Zach Patalingjug leads his Beyond the Closet: The Persecution and Liberation of the LGBTQ Community in Washington, D.C., tour on July 13, 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Sean Koperek)

Want to learn more about the city’s LGBTQ history while seeing some of the sights? Beyond the Landmarks’ Beyond the Closet: The Persecution and Liberation of the LGBTQ Community in Washington, D.C., tour could be just the choice.

Zach Patalingjug launched the company in June, and offers walks that highlights some of Washington’s LGBTQ history.

The LGBTQ-specific tour starts with him emailing each person on the route with a meet-up location and some advice for the tour itself. His business last month saw a lot of tourists participate in his tour — in part because of Pride Month, and Patalinjug is hoping to keep the momentum. 

Patalingjug, who is from California, has traveled to more than half of the country’s states and has traveled abroad numerous times to sightsee and absorb cultures. He told the Washington Blade he became inspired to create his company after reading James Kirchick’s “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington.”

Patalingjug spent a year researching his tour. He utilized the D.C. Central Library, where its fourth floor is dedicated entirely to the city’s history.

“I wanted to create a company that really explores the hidden gems, the lesser known history of Washington, D.C., to get the experiences that are truly authentic, and to tell stories that you don’t hear on most sightseeing tours,” he told the Washington Blade. 

The tours are between two to three hours long, depending on the group’s speed.

They officially start at 9:30 a.m., but Patalingjug recommends participants arrive 10 minutes earlier.

Each group meets in Farragut Square, directly outside of the Farragut West Metro station. The tour begins there and proceeds to Lafayette Square, where Patalingjug discusses the White House, the Hay-Adams Hotel, the former Lambda Rising bookstore, the Human Rights Campaign, the now-closed Chicken Hut near the White House, and myriad other locations. 

The tour ends in Dupont Circle.

Human Rights Campaign headquarters (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Patalingjug’s tour is more than a walk — each one is themed with topics that include “service, persecution, and liberation.

“Countless folks within the LGBTQ community have served and continue to serve the federal government,” he told the Blade.

He noted many of the people the tour highlights worked for the federal government before they lost their careers because they were outed or caught with a same-sex partner during the so-called “Lavender Scare.”

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry shortly before he stepped down in 2017 formally apologized to State Department personnel who were fired under the directive that then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued in 1953. President Joe Biden last year issued a formal proclamation on the policy’s 70th anniversary.

“For so many members of the LGBTQI+ community, hate, discrimination, and isolation throughout our country’s history have denied them the full promise of America,” Biden said. “The ‘Lavender Scare’ epitomized — and institutionalized — this injustice.”

Patalingjug’s tour highlights Frank Kameny, founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the city’s first politically active LGBTQ rights group that organized one of the country’s first gay rights protest that took place in front of the White House in 1965.

The protest highlighted the federal government’s discrimination against gays and lesbians. Kameny in 1957 lost his job as an astronomer in the Army Map Service because he was gay.

Frank Kameny Way in Dupont Circle is part of Zach Patalingjug’s Beyond the Closet: The Persecution and Liberation of the LGBTQ Community in Washington, D.C., tour (Washington Blade photo by Sean Koperek)

The tour also highlights Margaret “Midge” Costanza, an advisor to former President Jimmy Carter who invited members of the National Gay Task Force, which is now known as the National LGBTQ Task Force, to the White House in 1977.

“I’m just incredibly excited to be able to tell the authentic stories of people who lived through this period of history,” said Patalingjug.

Log onto Beyond the Landmarks’ website for more information.

Michael K. Lavers and Lou Chibbaro, Jr., contributed to this story.

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District of Columbia

Ruby Corado pleads guilty to wire fraud in plea agreement

Reduced charge says she stole at least $150,000 in COVID-relief funds



Ruby Corado in El Salvador (Photo via Facebook)

Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of the now-defunct LGBTQ community services organization Casa Ruby, pleaded guilty Wednesday, July 17, to a single charge of wire fraud as part of a plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors with the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.

The charge to which she pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for D.C. says she diverted at least $150,000 “in taxpayer-backed emergency COVID relief funds to private off-shore bank accounts for her personal use,” according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Court records show that U.S. District Court Judge Trevor N. McFadden, who is presiding over the case, has scheduled a sentencing hearing for Jan. 10, 2025.

Corado’s guilty plea came a little over six weeks after prosecutors on May 31 filed a one-count criminal information charge of wire fraud against her that replaced an earlier criminal complaint charging her with bank fraud, money laundering, monetary transactions in criminally derived proceeds, and failure to file a required report of a foreign bank account.

The earlier complaint was filed at the time the FBI arrested Corado on March 5 of this year at a hotel in Laurel, Md., shortly after she returned to the U.S. from El Salvador. The initial complaint, like the new criminal information that replaced it, accused Corado of diverting at least $150,000 of federal pandemic relief funds to her own bank accounts in El Salvador. The charges say the funds were intended for use by Casa Ruby to support indigent LGBTQ clients in need of housing and other support services.

At the request of Corado’s court-appointed attorney and against the wishes of federal prosecutors, who said Corado would be a flight risk, another judge agreed to release Corado into the custody of her niece in Rockville, Md., under a home detention order. The release order came seven days after Corado had been held in jail since the time of her arrest on March 5.

In addition to a prison sentence, the charge of wire fraud also includes a possible penalty of financial forfeiture for which Corado could be required to pay restitution to the government. The plea agreement filed in court includes this statement to Corado’s attorney: “Specifically, your client agrees to the entry of a forfeiture money judgment in an amount ordered by the Court, which is equal to the value of any property which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the offense in Count One of the Information in which your client is pleading guilty.”

However, legal observers have said that under a plea agreement like the one offered to Corado, prosecutors most likely will ask the judge for a lesser sentence. Corado’s attorney is also expected to point out that this is a nonviolent, first-time offense for Corado, which merits a lesser sentence.

Corado has denied wrongdoing in her operation of Casa Ruby in response to a separate civil complaint filed against her and Casa Ruby by the Office of the D.C. Attorney General. That complaint is still pending in D.C. Superior Court.

In its July 17 statement the U.S. Attorney’s office refers to court documents showing that Corado, “on behalf of Casa Ruby, received more than $1.3 million from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.” The statement adds, “Instead of using the funds as she promised, Corado stole at least $150,000 by transferring the money to bank accounts in El Salvador, which she hid from the IRS.”

The statement says that in 2022, “when financial irregularities at Casa Ruby became public, Corado sold her home in Prince George’s County and fled to El Salvador.” It says FBI agents arrested her at the hotel in Laurel, Md. on March 5 “after she unexpectedly returned to the United States.”

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