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Gay leather lovers gather on the Hill this weekend

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Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, gay news, Washington Blade
MAL, Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather, Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, gay news, Washington Blade

Last year’s Mid-Atlantic Leather festivities. (Washington Blade file photo by Tyler Grigsby)

Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend

Friday through Monday

Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill (host hotel)

400 New Jersey Ave., N.W.

MAL Full Run Package — $200

Limited number available at 3 p.m. Friday in the

registration area at the Hyatt

Weekend admission passes also available

Full weekend schedule and admission information

available at leatherweekend.com

It all began with a party and a cock ring.

That was the basis of the first Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in 1976 and over the ensuing 37 years, the event has grown into one of the most popular and anticipated leather/fetish events in the world.

Friday through Monday, thousands of leathermen, skins, gearheads, kinksters and rubber freaks will descend on the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill for a four-day-long party of fetish fun.

“We have lots of things going on at the hotel 24-7 so to speak, such as MIR hosting a meet and greet on the Friday night, and they haven’t had an event with us before,” says Patrick Grady, chair of the event. “People need to just come out to the lobby and see the mass humanity of people. It’s the largest gay bar in the city over that weekend.”

Steve Ranger, past president of Centaur MC and Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2005, says the number of events in the hotel have expanded this year, including three new parties. Last year, several new dances made their debut and will return and this year’s new entries will see Sigma (once again sponsoring the dungeon parties) bringing a demonstration and instruction on safe practices. New parties include those thrown by the Boys of Leather and the Highway Men.

“A lot of the guests really like the ability to stay in the hotel and really enjoy themselves, so we have made a concerted effort to provide more events and themed parties,” Ranger says. “There’s a brotherhood and sisterhood and people just have a great time and people accept you for who you are.”

The heart of the weekend is the historic leather formal Saturday evening cocktail social, Leather Cocktails. This year marks the 30th anniversary that the Centaur MC has hosted the party and it will commemorate the event with specialty cocktails and 3-D miniature mock-ups of what the stage will be like for the event. Additionally, Leather Archives is bringing in an award that has been handed down over the years.

“The focus will be on the fact that this is a weekend that started from a simple cocktail party and has grown into what it has become and a big focus on the back-patch leather clubs in the District,” says Todd White, president of Centaur MC. “The Centaurs are honored and blessed that the community trusts us with their tradition and the weekend, and we appreciate that it’s a joint effort of all the clubs in the D.C.-area coming together. Without the parties planned by the clubs throughout the weekend, it just wouldn’t be the same.”

Some welcome news came in early January when the D.C. Eagle, a popular gay bar with many of the attendees in year’s past, announced that it would remain open throughout the weekend of the show, having previously thought it would be closed as it made way for construction of a new office building.

“We will have a shuttle bus for our package holders taking them to the Eagle and the Green Lantern,” Ranger says. “People who have come to Washington for many years are used to going to the Eagle, so this is a chance for them to say farewell.”

There’s been a lot of change in the region’s leather community of late.

Eagle co-owners Ted Clements and Peter Lloyd are working on transporting the venue to a three-story warehouse building at 3701 Benning Rd, N.E., proposing to operate as a tavern and restaurant and offer live entertainment, dancing, a rooftop “summer garden” and a small retail gift shop.

On New Year’s Eve, the L Bar, a popular leather bar in Rehoboth, closed its doors after 16 years and will reportedly reopen as a non-leather, non-gay bar.

The leather community also lost a dear friend and Centaur brother Jim Raymond before New Year’s, and many look to honor his memory at the celebration.

The Weekend also includes official events organized by weekend hosts, Centaur MC that include a bustling Leather Exhibit Hall, Sunday brunch, Mr. MAL Contest and the official Sunday night closing party, REACTION.

“This weekend is a time to see friends who come from all over the country, Canada, Europe and even Australia and socialize, enjoy cocktails and have one comfortable social environment filled with camaraderie,” Ranger says. “You can wear your clothes, your leather, your gear all around the hotel and it’s a very welcoming environment.”

The contest has changed a great deal since Ranger took home the award in ’05, with a much better prize package being offered and more people letting down their inhibitions and competing.

The hotel is already sold out and the pre-numbers that Centaur MC are seeing reflect possibly the biggest turnout ever.

“It’s definitely going to be one of our biggest ones in recent history,” Grady says. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. The leather community is very friendly. For those who want to come out or maybe are just curious, you should take advantage of it while you can because you don’t know when it could be your last.”

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Theater

‘Amm(i)gone’ explores family, queerness, and faith

A ‘fully autobiographical’ work from out artist Adil Mansoor

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Adil Mansoor in ‘Amm(i)gone’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. (Photo by Kitoko Chargois)

‘Amm(i)gone’
Thorough May 12
Woolly Mammoth Theatre
641 D St., N.W. 
$60-$70
Woollymammoth.net

“Fully and utterly autobiographical.” That’s how Adil Mansoor describes “Amm(i)gone,” his one-man work currently playing at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. 

Both created and performed by out artist Mansoor, it’s his story about inviting his Pakistani mother to translate Sophocles’s Greek tragedy “Antigone” into Urdu. Throughout the journey, there’s an exploration of family, queerness, and faith,as well as references to teachings from the Quran, and audio conversations with his Muslim mother. 

Mansoor, 38, grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and is now based in Pittsburgh where he’s a busy theater maker. He’s also the founding member of Pittsburgh’s Hatch Arts Collective and the former artistic director of Dreams of Hope, an LGBTQ youth arts organization.

WASHINGTON BLADE: What spurred you to create “Amm(i)gone”? 

ADIL MANSOOR: I was reading a translation of “Antigone” a few years back and found myself emotionally overwhelmed. A Theban princess buries her brother knowing it will cost her, her own life. It’s about a person for whom all aspirations are in the afterlife. And what does that do to the living when all of your hopes and dreams have to be reserved for the afterlife?

I found grant funding to pay my mom to do the translation. I wanted to engage in learning. I wanted to share theater but especially this ancient tragedy. My mother appreciated the characters were struggling between loving one another and their beliefs. 

BLADE: Are you more director than actor?

MANSOOR: I’m primarily a director with an MFA in directing from Carnegie Mellon. I wrote, directed, and performed in this show, and had been working on it for four years. I’ve done different versions including Zoom. Woolly’s is a new production with the same team who’ve been involved since the beginning. 

I love solo performance. I’ve produced and now teach solo performance and believe in its power. And I definitely lean toward “performance” and I haven’t “acted” since I was in college. I feel good on stage. I was a tour guide and do a lot of public speaking. I enjoy the attention. 

BLADE: Describe your mom. 

MANSOOR: My mom is a wonderfully devout Muslim, single mother, social worker who discovered my queerness on Google. And she prays for me. 

She and I are similar, the way we look at things, the way we laugh. But different too. And those are among the questions I ask in this show. Our relationship is both beautiful and complicated.

BLADE: So, you weren’t exactly hiding your sexuality? 

MANSOOR: In my mid-20s, I took time to talk with friends about our being queer with relation to our careers. My sexuality is essential to the work. As the artistic director at Dreams of Hope, part of the work was to model what it means to be public. If I’m in a room with queer and trans teenagers, part of what I’m doing is modeling queer adulthood. The way they see me in the world is part of what I’m putting out there. And I want that to be expansive and full. 

So much of my work involves fundraising and being a face in schools. Being out is about making safe space for queer young folks.

BLADE: Have you encountered much Islamophobia? 

MANSOOR: When 9/11 happened, I was a sophomore in high school, so yes. I faced a lot then and now. I’ve been egged on the street in the last four months. I see it in the classroom. It shows up in all sorts of ways. 

BLADE: What prompted you to lead your creative life in Pittsburgh? 

MANSOOR: I’ve been here for 14 years. I breathe with ease in Pittsburgh. The hills and the valleys and the rust of the city do something to me. It’s beautiful, it’ affordable, and there is support for local artists. There’s a lot of opportunity. 

Still, the plan was to move to New York in September of 2020 but that was cancelled. Then the pandemic showed me that I could live in Pittsburgh and still have a nationally viable career. 

BLADE: What are you trying to achieve with “Amm(i)gone”? 

MANSOOR: What I’m sharing in the show is so very specific but I hear people from other backgrounds say I totally see my mom in that. My partner is Catholic and we share so much in relation to this. 

 I hope the work is embracing the fullness of queerness and how means so many things. And I hope the show makes audiences want to call their parents or squeeze their partners.

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Out & About

The Rare Book Fair is coming to D.C.

Over 35 antiquarian booksellers from across the country to attend

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The Capital Rare Book Fair arrives in May. (Photo by aramanda/Bigstock)

The Capital Rare Book Fair will bring more than 35 antiquarian booksellers from across the country to D.C. from Friday, May 3 to Sunday, May 5 at the historic University Club at 1135 16th St., N.W.

This year, the fair will take over two floors in the illustrious mansion on 16th Street and showcase thousands of beautiful, notable, and rare books, maps, and historic documents from around the globe. Exceptional examples that will be offered include leaf 27 of a 40-leaf xylographic Biblia pauperum, a picture Bible from 1465 for $85,000 from Bruce McKittrick Rare Books, among many other intriguing selections. 

Tickets are $50 and more information is available on the event’s website.

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Calendar

Calendar: April 19-25

LGBTQ events in the days to come

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Friday, April 19

Center Aging Friday Tea Time will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of choice. For more information, email [email protected]

Go Gay DC will host “Drag Pageant” at 8 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant. Net proceeds from this event will benefit EQUALITY NoVa, the local nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing equality in Northern Virginia. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Saturday, April 20

LGBTQ People of Color Support Group will be at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This peer support group is an outlet for LGBTQ People of Color to come together and talk about anything affecting them in a space that strives to be safe and judgment free. For more details, ​​visit thedccenter.org/poc or facebook.com/centerpoc.

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Brunch” at 11 a.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. This fun weekly event brings the DMV area LGBTQ community, including allies, together for delicious food and conversation. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Sunday, April 21

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Dinner” at 7 p.m. at Federico Ristorante Italiano. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

AfroCode DC will be at 4 p.m. at Decades DC. This event will be an experience of non-stop music, dancing, and good vibes and a crossover of genres and a fusion of cultures. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

Monday, April 22

Center Aging: Monday Coffee & Conversation will be at 10 a.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of their choice. For more details, email [email protected]

Tuesday, April 23

Pride on the Patio Events will host “LGBTQ Social Mixer” at 5:30 p.m. at Showroom. Dress is casual, fancy, or comfortable. Guests are encouraged to bring their most authentic self to chat, laugh, and get a little crazy. Admission is free and more details are on Eventbrite.

Genderqueer DC will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a support group for people who identify outside of the gender binary. Whether you’re bigender, agender, genderfluid, or just know that you’re not 100% cis. For more details, visit genderqueerdc.org or Facebook. 

Wednesday, April 24

Job Club will be at 6 p.m. on Zoom. This is a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve self-confidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking — allowing participants to move away from being merely “applicants” toward being “candidates.” For more information, email [email protected] or visit [email protected].

Asexual and Aromantic Group will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a space where people who are questioning this aspect of their identity or those who identify as asexual and/or aromantic can come together, share stories and experiences, and discuss various topics. For more details, email [email protected]

Thursday, April 25

The DC Center’s Fresh Produce Program will be held all day at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. People will be informed on Wednesday at 5:00 pm if they are picked to receive a produce box. No proof of residency or income is required. For more information, email [email protected] or call 202-682-2245. 

Virtual Yoga with Charles M. will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a free weekly class focusing on yoga, breath work, and meditation. For more details, visit the DC Center for the LGBT Community’s website.

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