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Washington Post publishes pro-Russia supplement

Oct. 9 insert lacked references to LGBT rights record

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Washington Post, Russia, Kremlin, gay news, Washington Blade
Washington Post, Russia, Kremlin, gay news, Washington Blade

The Washington Post on October 9 ran a paid supplement from a Kremlin-backed Russian newspaper.

The Washington Post’s Oct. 9 print edition included a paid supplement produced by a Kremlin-backed newspaper that lacked any references to the ongoing controversy over Russia’s LGBT rights record.

Rossiyskaya Gazetá produced the insert – Russia Beyond the Headlines – that contained, among other things, an op-ed from Jeffrey Mankoff of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in D.C. He cited portions of the speech that Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered during a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club, a Russian think tank, that took place last month.

“Discussing his own view of Russian identity, Putin criticized the West for abandoning its Christian roots and ‘placing on the same level families with many children and single-sex partnerships, belief in God and belief in Satan,’” Putin said, according to Mankoff. “This cultural relativity, according to Putin, is ‘a direct path to degradation and primitivization, to a deep demographic and ethical crisis.’”

The Oct. 9 supplement is not the first time the Washington Post has published a Russia-specific insert.

The newspaper first published a Russia-themed supplement – Russia Now – in 2007.

Russia Beyond the Headlines said in a press release last month it decided earlier this year to redesign and revamp the supplement. It reappeared under the aforementioned name in the Washington Post’s Sept. 11 issue with a lead story that focused on the controversy surrounding the Russian law that bans gay propaganda to minors.

The article quoted Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group, an organization that monitors human rights in Russia, as describing the statute that Putin signed in June as “a step toward the Middle Ages.” The Sept. 11 supplement reported Kirill Kobrin of Radio Free Europe’s Russia Service said he feels “it was unthinkable to even discuss these issues 20 years ago in Russia.”

“Under the Kremlin’s lead, LGBT rights are the focus of public attention and debate in Russia – albeit censored debate,” the Russia Beyond the Headlines article reads.

The New York Times on Sept. 18 published an eight-page Russia Beyond the Headlines supplement that contained articles about the gay propaganda law and coming out in the country. Putin reiterated his opposition to air strikes in Syria in an op-ed that ran in the newspaper less than a week earlier.

Ketchum PR, a public relations firm that represents Putin, placed it in the New York Times. Pro Publica reported the New York-based company received more than $1.9 million in fees and expense reimbursements from the Russian government from December 2012 through May.

The New York Times included another Russia supplement in its Oct. 16 print edition that contained an article on the arrest of 30 Greenpeace members last month who tried to board a Russian oil platform. The insert also contained a reference to the LGBT advocates who protested Russia’s gay rights record during the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night gala in New York last month.

Washington Post spokesperson Jennifer Lee declined to tell the Washington Blade how much the Russia Beyond the Headlines insert cost, but she confirmed it was a paid supplement and the advertiser provided the content. It contained a disclosure on the front page that said “it did not involve the news or editorial departments of the Washington Post.”

The top margin of each subsequent page contained a disclosure that stated the insert was “a paid supplement to the Washington Post.”

Observers and even journalists themselves have questioned the way Russian media outlets have covered the gay propaganda law, Russia’s LGBT rights record and the controversy surrounding it.

Gay American journalist Jamie Kirchick on Aug. 21 challenged Russia’s LGBT rights record during an interview with the Kremlin-backed television network RT on the sentencing of former U.S. Army private Chelsea Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks.

“Being here on a Kremlin-funded propaganda network I’m going to wear my gay pride suspenders and I’m going to speak out against the horrific anti-gay legislation that Vladimir Putin has signed into law, that passed unanimously by the Russian Duma that criminalizes homosexual propaganda,” Kirchick told anchor Yulia Shapovalova. “It effectively makes it illegal to talk about homosexuality in public. We’ve seen a spate of violent attacks on gay people in Russia.”

RT aired a segment on calls to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in response to the country’s LGBT rights record less than two weeks before Kirchick appeared on the network to discuss Manning. The journalist further criticized Shapovalova and her colleagues before RT took him off the air.

Anton Krasovsky, the former editor-in-chief of the pro-Kremlin Kontr TV, said the television station fired him in January after he came out as gay during a segment on the gay propaganda law.

The Washington Post in recent weeks has published a number of stories on the controversy over Russia’s LGBT rights record and how it threatens to overshadow the Sochi games. These include a Sept. 26 article on the International Olympic Committee’s position that it has no authority to challenge the gay propaganda law and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals’ response to a question about it during the lighting of the Olympic torch in Greece late last month.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, who bought the Washington Post in August and contributed $2.5 million to a group that backed a successful 2012 ballot measure that secured marriage rights for same-sex couples in Washington State, did not return the Blade’s request for comment.

Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute, a media ethics watchdog, told the Blade that paid supplements and advertorials have become common in newspapers. She noted the Washington Post’s use of different fonts throughout the Russia Beyond the Headlines supplement is “common practice” and “is amazingly effective at cueing regular readers to advertising content.”

“Combined with the disclosures, it looks to me the [Washington Post] is within the standard practice of the industry,” McBride said.

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District of Columbia

Inaugural Uptown Pride to take place June 10

Festival to feature drag storytime, makers’ market, DJs

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Logo created by Anthony Dihle (Courtesy of Justin Noble)

A new Pride festival is coming to D.C. 

The inaugural Uptown Pride will be hosted in Sixteenth Street Heights on June 10 with Pride celebrations for Washingtonians of all ages.

The festival, hosted at the intersection of 14th Street, Colorado Avenue and Kennedy Street, NW, will feature a drag storytime, a makers’ market, DJs and more. There will also be a raffle for various prizes, with all proceeds going to the Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention services for LGBTQ teens.

The festival will be from 2-7 p.m. and is partnering with local businesses like Moreland’s Tavern, Captain Cookie and Lighthouse Yoga Center for activities and refreshments.

Justin Noble, one of the organizers of the festival, said that the inspiration for the event came out of wanting a Pride experience tailored to the residents of the Sixteenth Street Heights, Petworth and Brightwood neighborhoods.

“It can be a hassle to get to downtown,” Noble said. “There needs to be something in our community that supports LGBTQ+ people and the culture and all of that because we’re everywhere, right? We are everywhere.”

Organizer Max Davis said that the inclusion of children’s events like a drag storytime was purposeful, and helps make the event more accessible to LGBTQ families and youth. 

“Kids I feel are the most important in as far as just showing them, just visibly showing them that you can live out and you can be queer,” Davis said. “There is no more dangerous time than now to be queer, questioning youth … So who better to welcome into the fold than kids who might be questioning their sexuality.”

Davis said that a big part of wanting to bring Pride celebrations uptown was to have a physical representation of support for the LGBTQ community.

“I felt like because there wasn’t anything going on in Sixteenth Street Heights — the clientele that we were serving up at Moreland’s absolutely is supportive, and I never felt that it wasn’t a supportive environment — but if you don’t have something to actively support that I feel that your support is just words,” Davis said. “If our community had someplace to attend even for one day to just be like, ‘Hey, I stand with you,’ … that is something that every community should have available to them to actively support the LGBTQ community.”

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District of Columbia

Capital Pride announces 2023 honorees, grand marshals

Assistant Secretary of Health Levine among picks

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Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health Admiral Dr. Rachel Levine. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health Admiral Dr. Rachel Levine and acclaimed longtime D.C. LGBTQ and transgender rights advocate Earline Budd are among nine prominent LGBTQ community leaders named on Wednesday by the Capital Pride Alliance as its 2023 Capital Pride honorees.

Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes D.C.’s annual Capital Pride parade, festival, and related events, announced in a May 24 statement that it will present the honoree awards to each of the recipients at a ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, June 2, at the Penn Social event and catering hall at 801 E St., N.W.

“The recipients are nominated each year by members of the community,” the Capital Pride statement says. “They represent individuals who and organizations that have advanced the causes of LGBTQ+ rights,” it says.

The statement says Levine was selected for the Capital Pride Paving the Way Award, which “acknowledges an individual or organization that has provided exemplary contributions, support, and/or advocacy that has positively impacted the LGBTQ+ community, and whose leadership has inspired continued progress.”

Levine, who was appointed by President Biden in 2021 as Assistant Secretary of Health, is a longtime pediatrician who also serves as an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She became the first openly transgender person to hold the admiralty position.

Capital Pride named Earline Budd as recipient of the Capital Pride Super Hero Award, which “recognizes additional significant and important contributions to the LGBTQ+ community in the national capital region.”

The statement announcing the honorees says Levine and Budd will also serve as grand marshals for the June 10 Capital Pride Parade. It says each of the other honorees will serve as parade marshals.

The announcement says the following four people have been named as recipients of the Capital Pride Hero Award:

• Shi-Queeta Lee, the D.C.-based nationally acclaimed drag performer
• Benjamin Rosenbaum, longtime congressional staffer, LGBTQ rights advocate, and LGBTQ Jewish community advocate
• Nancy Canas, president of D.C. Latinx History Project and advocate for the LGBTQ Latinx community
• Abdur-Rahim Briggs, longtime leader of the D.C.-based Project Briggs, which provides philanthropic support for LGBTQ causes.

The following two organizations were named as recipients of the Capital Pride Breaking Barriers Community Impact Award, which recognizes individuals or organizations that have “demonstrated a significant impact to the LGBTQ+ community at either the local or national level and who helped eliminate barriers for social, personal, or professional growth of the LGBTQ+ community:

• Drag Story Hour DMV
• National LGBTQ Task Force

The Bill Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Services, which acknowledges “exemplary contributions to the Capital Pride Alliance, its programs, initiatives, or other Pride sponsored activities,” is being given to Brandon Bayton, Jr., a longtime Capital Pride volunteer, consultant, and organ transplant advocate, and LGBTQ rights advocate.

“We are fortunate to have such a vibrant honoree selection process, with so many outstanding individuals who were nominated,” said Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance Board of Directors. “We are very pleased to celebrate these individuals at the 2023 Capital Pride Honors,” Smith said in the CPA statement.

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District of Columbia

Blade names recipients of two summer fellowships

Kravis, Lev-Tov join LGBTQ news team

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Isabelle Kravis and Joel Lev-Tov are the Blade Foundation’s 2023 summer fellows.

The Blade Foundation this week announced the recipients of its 2023 summer fellowship program. 

Isabelle Kravis (she/they) is a senior at American University studying journalism and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She will focus on covering LGBTQ issues in the local D.C. area for 12 weeks starting this week. The fellowship is made possible by a generous donation from the DC Front Runners Pride Run 5K event.

“I’ve been reading the Blade since I first moved to D.C. for my freshman year and I’m so excited to be able to contribute to such a historic paper,” Kravis said. “I love covering the LGBTQ community because of the diversity of experiences that each queer person has and the joy that queer people bring to everything they do. I’m incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to be able to cover both the city and community that I love.”

Joel Lev-Tov (they/them) is a senior at the University of Maryland College Park studying journalism. Lev-Tov also serves as president of the Association of LGBTQ Journalists at College Park. Lev-Tov is the sixth recipient of the Steve Elkins Memorial Journalism Fellowship, which honors the co-founder of CAMP Rehoboth. The fellow covers issues of interest to the LGBTQ community in Delaware, also for 12 weeks. The fellowship is funded by donations from the Rehoboth Beach community.

“I’m extremely excited to start reporting about my community for my community,” Lev-Tov said. “The Blade is offering me a special opportunity that I’m very grateful for. I can’t wait to start reporting!”

Kevin Naff, editor of the Blade, welcomed Kravis and Lev-Tov to work this week.

“We’re all excited to work with Isabelle and Joel this summer,” Naff said. “There’s never been more news to cover and they will add an important, fresh perspective to our work. Thank you to our donors and to the Front Runners for making this program possible.”

For more information on the fellowship program or to donate, visit bladefoundation.org.

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