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Arts & Entertainment

Calendar: Oct. 11-17

Parties, concerts, exhibits and more for the coming week

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Honey LaBronx, drag, gay news, Washington Blade
Honey LaBronx, drag, gay news, Washington Blade, events

New York City based ‘Vegan Drag Queen’ Honey LaBronx hosts Acorn-A-Go-Go’s Vegan Fall Festival Saturday. (Photo courtesy Honey LaBronx)

Friday, Oct. 11

The Sugarloaf Crafts Festival kicks off its 39th year at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds (16 Chestnut St., Gaithersburg, Md.,) today from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Festival continues through Sunday. Meet the jury selected artists and purchase their artwork including pottery, sculpture, home accessories, jewelry, fashion, furniture, photography and more. Sample gourmet food, listen to live music and participate in interactive children entertainment. Tickets are $8 online for adults and $10 at the door. Children under 12 are free. Free parking. For more information, visit sugarloafcrafts.com.

“Love Heals Homophobia” screens at St. Marks Episcopal Church (301 A St., S.E.) tonight from 7-8 p.m. The film was made in response to the appeals made by countries where it is illegal to be LGBT. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

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 more information, visit towndc.com.

SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) hosts “National Coming Out Day Celebration” today from 5-7 p.m. Decorate cupcakes, listen to music and more. For details, visit smyal.org.

Saturday, Oct. 12

Washington National Opera (WNO) honors Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th birthday with a performance of “The Force of Destiny,” the tale of three lives on a path to ruin, beginning tonight at 7 p.m. and running through Oct. 26 at The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.). Tickets range from $25-$300. For more details, visit kennedy-center.org.

The D.C. Center (1316 U St., N.W.) hosts free and confidential HIV testing from 4-7 p.m. today. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts adult entertainment stars Levi Karter, Jake Bass and Max Ryder tonight. Doors open at 10 p.m. Cover is $8 from 10-11 p.m. and $12 after 11 p.m. $3 drinks before 11 p.m. Drag show starts at 10:30 p.m. Admission limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit towndc.com.

Acorns A Go-Go hosts its vegan fall festival today at the Roosevelt Center (131 Centerway, Greenbelt, Md.,) today from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Enjoy vegan food vendors, exhibitors and live music. Watch demonstrations including how to use acorns in vegan bread and cookies. Kids can participate in a hula hoop competition and activities at the Animal Rights Youth Booth. The mistress of ceremonies is “Vegan Drag Queen” Honey LaBronx. For more details, visit facebook.com/acornsagogo.

A free screening of the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So” is today at 11 a.m. at Mt. Pleasant Library (3160 16th Street, N.W.) hosted by Queers For Christ and Revive DMV: A Gathering of Queer Christian Women.

Sunday, Oct. 13

Club Bunns (606 W. Lexington St., Baltimore) hosts “Baltimore Black Pride Block Party” today from 4-9 p.m. Cover TBA. For more details, visit facebook.com/n.g.a.clubbunns.

Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va.,) celebrates its third anniversary with “Pop Art Fun: Free Family Day” from noon-4 p.m. today. The Andy Warhol-inspired day includes the interactive Warhol “Silver Clouds” exhibit, pop art projects and a magic show. Baby Loves Disco hosts a dance party for all ages in the ballroom. Admission is free. For more details, visit artisphere.com.

Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Sunday Drag Brunch” today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. For more details, visit perrysadamsmorgan.com.

Monday, Oct. 14

The D.C. Center Youth Working Group hosts its monthly meeting today at the D.C. Center (1316 U St., N.W.) from 6-7:30 p.m. The meeting focuses on positively impacting the lives of D.C. area youth. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

Us Helping Us holds its 25th anniversary awards celebration “A Passion for Living” featuring Jennifer Holliday this evening at Arena Stage (1101 6th St., S.W.) from 6-9 p.m. The event raises funds for Us Helping Us’s prevention programs and recognizes individuals and businesses in their commitment to fight HIV/AIDS. Tickets are $150. For details, visit tickets.arenastage.org.

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Tuesday, Oct. 15

Green Lantern (1335 Green Crt.. N.W.) hosts its “FUCK!T Packing Party” this evening from 7-9 p.m. Bring friends or make new ones while packing safer-sex packets. Challenge yourself and your friends to see how many FUK!T packets you can pack in two hours. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Whitman-Walker Health offers free HIV testing in honor of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day today at Whitman-Walker Health Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center (1701 14th St., N.W.) 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Whitman-Walker Health Max Robinson Center (2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., S.E.) from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Columbia Heights Fountain (1345 Park Rd., N.W.) from 3-6 p.m. For details, visit whitman-walker.org.

Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) offers all drinks half price tonight until 2 a.m. Enjoy pool, video games and cards. Admission is free. Must be 21 and over. For more details, visit bachelorsmill.com.

Wednesday, Oct. 16

Queers for Christ, a young adult LGBT Christian group, has a happy hour this evening from 6:45-9 p.m. at Number Nine (1435 P Street, N.W.).

Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, meets this evening at 7:30 p.m. at the American Foreign Service Association (2101 E Street, N.W.) to discuss “The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered,” an anthology. All are welcome. Visit bookmendc.blogspot.com for details.

The National Symphony Orchestra presents organist Cameron Carpenter at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) in the concert hall at 8 p.m. tonight. Tickets are $15. For details, visit kennedy-center.org.

The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) this evening at 7:30 p.m. for social bridge. No partner needed. For more information, call 301-345-1571.

Big Gay Book Group meets tonight at 1155 F St., N.W. Suite 200 at 7 p.m. to discuss “The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard” by Stephen Jimenez. For details, email [email protected].

Thursday, Oct. 17

The Dance Theatre of Harlem performs the world premiere of its ballet “past-carry-forward” at the Sidney Harman Hall (610 F St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. Other performances include “Gloria” and “Contested Space.” Tickets range from $40-$75. For more information, visit shakespearetheatre.org.

Publick Playhouse presents “Bailé Folklórico de Bahia” at 8 p.m. tonight. The dance blends Afro-Brazilian folk, samba reggae, African liturgical dance and capoeira. It includes dances from the days of slavery and dances that celebrate Carnival. Tickets are $20. For details, visit arts.pgparks.com.

Wear purple today to show support for LGBT youth and stand against bullying for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) Spirit Day. Showcase your support on social media platforms using “#spiritday.” For more information, visit glaad.org/spiritday.

“Marriage Equality,” a free seminar presented by the law firm of Gimmel, Weiman, Ersek, Blomberg & Lewis, is this evening at 7 p.m. at Hampton Inn (960 N. Frederick Ave.) in Gaithersburg, Md. It’s free to attend but a reservation is required as seating is limited. Local attorneys will speak about Maryland’s same-sex marriage law and the repeal of key sections of DOMA and their effect on several LGBT issues such as marriage, adoption, custody and more. To make a reservation, call 301-840-8565 or visit gweblaw.com.

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Arts & Entertainment

After COVID hiatus, John Waters resumes touring schedule

‘Every single thing is different after COVID’

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John Watersis on the road again. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

For the first time in nearly two years, writer and filmmaker John Waters will be appearing on stage this fall before live audiences in the Baltimore-Washington area, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Waters, who lives in Baltimore, is scheduled to bring his spoken-word holiday show, “A John Waters Christmas,” to The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., on Dec. 15, and Baltimore Soundstage on Dec. 21. He’ll also be at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Nov. 29 and The Vermont Hollywood on Dec. 2.

Waters’ holiday shows were cancelled in 2020 due to the theater closings and travel restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some book signings for fans were converted to Zoom sessions. He last toured the country in November and December of 2019.

This year, with vaccinations on the rise, Waters has made a few in-person appearances, including a concert with gay country crooner Orville Peck in Colorado in July, where he was “special guest host”; a Q&A session with fans in Provincetown in August and a music festival last weekend in Oakland, Calif. He’s scheduled to visit another 18 cities between now and the end of the year, including a weekend in Wroclaw, Poland, where he’ll be honored during the American Film Festival there in November.

Waters said he has completely rewritten his spoken-word shows to reflect changes brought about by the COVID pandemic. “I haven’t done it in a year and a half,” he said in an interview with Town & Country magazine. “Every single thing is different after COVID. You cannot do the same show. Nothing’s the same.”

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Theater

‘Hadestown’ comes to the Kennedy Center

Levi Kreis discusses return to live theater

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Levi Kreis is an out actor who plays Hermes in the national tour of ‘Hadestown’ soon opening at the Kennedy Center. (Photo courtesy of Levi Kreis)

Hadestown
Through Oct. 31
The Kennedy Center
$45.00 – $175.00
Kennedy-center.org
For Covid-19 safety regulations go to Kennedy-center.org/visit/covid-safety/

Early in September at New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre, out singer/actor Levi Kreis was in the audience for the long-awaited Broadway reopening of “Hadestown,” Anaïs Mitchell’s rousing musical reimagining of the Orpheus myth in which the legendary Greek hero descends into the underworld to rescue his lover Eurydice. 

After almost 18 months of pandemic-induced closure, the Tony Award-winning folk opera was back and the house was full. In a recent phone interview, Kreis describes the evening as “love-filled, and electrifying and emotional after such a difficult time.” Now, Kreis is onstage in the national tour of “Hadestown,” currently launching at the Kennedy Center. As Hermes, the shape-shifting god of oratory, Kreis is both narrator and chaperone to the story’s young lovers. 

A Tennessee native, Kreis, 39, has triumphantly survived turbulent times including a harrowingly prolonged coming out experience that included six years of conversion therapy, education disruptions, and music contract losses. He officially came out through his acclaimed album “One of the Ones” (2006), which features a collection of piano vocals about past boyfriends. And four years later, he splendidly won a Tony Award for originating the role of rock and roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in the rockabilly musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” 

Throughout much of the pandemic, Kreis leaned into his own music and found ways to reconnect with his largely gay fan base. But he’s happy to now be touring, noting that all the “Hadestown” cast have been hungering to perform before a real live audience.

When not on the road, he’s based in New York City with his husband, classical-crossover recording artist Jason Antone. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Hermes is the same role for which André De Shields—the brilliant African American actor, also gay, and some decades your elder won a Tony and has resumed playing on Broadway, right?

LEVI KREIS: That’s right. It’s really a testament to the creative team. Rather than laying us over what Broadway created. They’re creating a tour that’s uniquely different; still true to the beauty of the story but with a different flavor. 

BLADE: What attracted you to the part?

KREIS: First, I fell in love with the show. My own musical sensibilities understand the origins of where this music comes from. It’s very bluesy and gospel. Southern and rootsy. And that’s everything I’ve created in my career as a singer/songwriter.

BLADE: With your life experience, do you feel called to mentor?

KREIS: The biggest effort I’ve given to this narrative is being a pioneer of the out-music movement starting in 2005 which was a moment when gay artists were not signed to major labels. I want through eight major labels—when they found out I was gay things always went south. 

It’s been amazing to be a voice in LGBTQ media when no one was speaking about these things. It’s popular now, but back when it mattered it was a lot harder to start my career as an openly gay artist and speak about these issues rather than keep quiet, cash in, and only then come out. 

BLADE: Where did that nerve come from?

KREIS: Less about nerve and more about being beaten down. How many things have to happen before you give up and decide to be honest?  

BLADE: For many theatergoers, “Hadestown” will be their return to live theater. Other than it being visionary and remarkably entertaining, why would you recommend it? 

KREIS: We need encouragement right now. But we also need art that facilitates a lot of important conversation about what’s happening in the world. This has both elements.  

“Hadestown” is not a piece of art that you easily forget. You’re going to walk out of the theater with a story that sticks with you. You’ll realized that your own voice matters. There’s a part in the show, Orpheus’ song, when the gods encourage him to get the balance of the world back again by telling him that his voice matters. 

BLADE: Is it timely?

KREIS: Art is here to change the world. And this piece of art hits the nail right on the head. I’m a purist when it comes to art and song. There’s a reason why we do it. people are listening now in a way they haven’t listened before. To miss that is to miss the role of society, I think. 

BLADE: And going forward? 

KREIS: It’s going to be interesting. We could double down on super commercialized theater or we may decide to really go the other direction and reclaim innovation. That remains to be seen. 

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Books

Book details fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Clinton-era policy was horrific for LGB servicemembers

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‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By C. Dixon Osburn
c.2021, self-published $35 hardcover, paperback $25, Kindle $12.99 / 450 pages

When Senior Airman Brandi Grijalva was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, she talked with a chaplain’s assistant about some problems she had at home. The chaplain’s assistant said what she told him would be confidential. But when she revealed that she was a lesbian, the chaplain’s assistant no longer kept her conversation with him confidential. Grijalva, after being investigated was discharged.

Craig Haack was a corporal in the Marines serving in Okinawa, Japan. Haack, who had made it through boot camp, felt confident. Until investigators barged into his barracks. Looking for evidence “of homosexual conduct,” they ransacked everything from his computers to his platform shoes. Haack was too stunned to respond when asked if he was gay.

In 1996, Lt. Col. Steve Loomis’ house was burned down by an Army private. The Army discharged the private who torched Loomis’ house. You’d think the Army would have supported Loomis. But you’d be wrong. The army discharged Loomis for conduct unbecoming an officer because a fire marshal found a homemade sex tape in the ashes.

These are just a few of the enraging, poignant, at times absurd (platform shoes?), all-too-true stories told in “Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by C. Dixon Osburn.

As a rule, I don’t review self-published books. But “Mission Possible” is the stunning exception that proves that rules, on occasion, are made to be broken.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was the official U.S. policy on gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving in the military. Former President Bill Clinton announced the policy on July 19, 1993. It took effect on Feb. 28, 1994.

Sexual orientation was covered by DADT. Gender identity was covered by separate Department of Defense regulations.

Congress voted to repeal DADT in December 2010 (the House on Dec. 15, 2010, and the Senate on Dec. 18, 2010). On Dec. 22, 2010, Former President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law. 

DADT banned gay, lesbian and bisexual people who were out from serving in the U.S. military. Under DADT, it was not permitted to ask if servicemembers were LGB. But, LGB servicemembers couldn’t be out. They couldn’t talk about their partners, carry photos of their girlfriends or boyfriends or list their same-sex partner as their emergency contract.

It took nearly a year for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to go into effect. On Sept. 20, 2011, Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “certified to Congress that implementing repeal of the policy {DADT} would have no effect on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion or recruiting and retention,” Osburn writes.

Before DADT, out LGBT people weren’t permitted to serve in the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was intended to be a compromise—a policy that would be less onerous on LGB people, but that would pass muster with people who believed that gay servicemembers would destroy military readiness, morale and unit cohesion.

Like many in the queer community, I knew that DADT was a horror-show from the get-go. Over the 17 years that DADT was in effect, an estimated 14,000 LGB servicemembers were discharged because of their sexual orientation, according to the Veterans Administration.

But, I had no idea how horrific “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was until I read “Mission Possible.”              

In “Mission Possible,” Osburn, who with Michelle Benecke, co-founded the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), pulls off a nearly impossible hat trick.

In a clear, vivid, often spellbinding narrative, Osburn tells the complex history of the DADT-repeal effort as well as the stories of servicemembers who were pelted with gay slurs, assaulted and murdered under DADT.

Hats off to SLDN, now known as the Modern Military Association of America, for its heroic work to repeal DADT! (Other LGBTQ+ organizations worked on the repeal effort, but SLDN did the lion’s share of the work.)

You wouldn’t think a 450-pager about repealing a policy would keep you up all night reading. But, “Mission Possible” will keep you wide-awake. You won’t need the espresso.

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