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Police chief greets crowd at Richmond Pride

Event draws 15,000 in record turnout



Richmond, Virginia, gay pride, gay news, Washington Blade

A scene from last year’s Richmond Pride. This year’s event was the largest yet. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

RICHMOND, Va. — Police Chief Ray Tarasovic greeted participants in Richmond’s annual LGBT Pride festival from the event’s main stage on Saturday, Sept. 28, marking the first time the city’s top police official has attended a Pride event.

“Thank you for inviting me,” Tarasovic told the crowd, which organizers said swelled to between 14,000 to 15,000 people throughout the day, a record turnout for the event.

Officially billed as PrideFest 2013, the gathering took place in Kanawha Plaza, a park-like space in downtown Richmond in the shadow of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank building.

Justin Shaia, the PrideFest director, said the plaza became host to 69 booths consisting of a wide range of vendors, including local and national businesses such as Wells Fargo and Capital One banks along with dozens of LGBT and LGBT supportive organizations.

Among the groups hosting booths were Equality Virginia, LGBT Democrats of Virginia, Log Cabin Republicans of Virginia, the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network-Richmond Chapter, the ACLU of Virginia and the Gay Community Center of Richmond.

A number of LGBT supportive churches, including the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond, also hosted booths.

Shaia said organizers were proud of the “awesome local and national talent” that performed on stage throughout the day, including popular drag performers.

Prominently displayed at the LGBT Democrats of Virginia booth were campaign posters for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who’s running in a hotly contested race against Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli, the current Virginia attorney general and an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights.

At the Log Cabin Republicans booth, members of the gay GOP group made it clear that the group did not endorse Cuccinelli and chose not to endorse any candidate in the governor’s race.

In addition to Tarasovic, Claire Gastanaga, director of the ACLU of Virginia, greeted the gathering from the stage, saying she was hopeful that an ACLU lawsuit challenging Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage would be successful.

Tarasovic, who served as an official with the D.C. Police Department for 15 years, walked through the festival grounds, shaking hands and posing for photos with enthusiastic festival-goers. He noted that at his direction, Richmond police set up a police recruitment table at the festival.

“Diversity is an important part of our community policing effort,” he said.



Carlton R. Smith: LGBTQ advocate, ‘mayor’ of Mount Vernon, passes away

‘The Duchess’ died on May 29 in his sleep



Carlton R. Smith, an LGBTQ advocate, died May 29. He was 61. (Photo courtesy of Carlton R. Smith)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | Carlton R. Smith was affectionately called “The Duchess” in a nod to royalty, because of his unofficial role of mayor of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. He was a “walking billboard” for Calvin Klein, with a love for purple, Batman, cooking, house music, Prince, and Diana Ross.

“If you said Duchess, you knew who that was,” said his close friend of 25-years, Carrietta Hiers.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Moore pardons more than 175,000-plus cannabis-related convictions

Governor signed executive order at State House on Monday



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

BY BRENDA WINTRODE and PAMELA WOOD | Gov. Wes Moore pardoned more than 175,000 cannabis-related convictions Monday, nullifying guilty verdicts decided when carrying small amounts of the drug or paraphernalia was illegal.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order during a State House ceremony, granting clemency to thousands of people convicted in Maryland. The convictions to be pardoned include more than 150,000 misdemeanors for simple possession and more than 18,000 for possession of drug paraphernalia with an intent to use.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Blade wins multiple journalism awards

Society of Professional Journalists recognizes writing, design work



The D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored the work of the Washington Blade at its annual Dateline Awards dinner last week.

The Blade took top honors in the weekly newspaper editorial/opinion writing category for a piece by Michael Lavers, the Blade’s international news editor, titled, “Bearing witness to the unimaginable,” which recounted watching raw footage of Hamas’s attack against Israel on Oct. 7.

In it, Lavers wrote, “The Israeli government clearly wants the world to understand the barbarity of what happened on Oct. 7, and that is why it has shown footage of that horrific Saturday to journalists and lawmakers. The footage left me deeply shaken, and perhaps that was the point.”

Washington Blade graphic designer Meaghan Juba won the Dateline Award for front-page design in the weekly newspaper category.

And in the weekly newspaper-features category, the Blade’s Kathi Wolfe was recognized as a finalist for her piece titled, “Meet one of the most powerful disabled people on the planet.”

“These awards reflect our 55-year commitment to journalistic excellence,” said Blade Editor Kevin Naff. “Congratulations to our team for another year of award-winning journalism.”

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