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Valentine’s Gifts that’ll getcha some



lipstick, Valentine's Day gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

The best thing about Valentine’s Day is that it really is the thought that counts. (People lie about that at Christmastime, ya know.)


To help you pick the perfect gift for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, here’s our list of fun and frisky ideas that he (or she!) will love to unwrap.


Boots No7 Men Grooming Products


Boots No7 Men Grooming Products

Boots No7 Men Grooming Products

If your main squeeze likes to primp and preen like everyday is a walk down a rainbow carpet, his heart will skip a beat with a gift from Boots No7 Men this Valentine’s Day. Boots No7 Men was launched in the United States earlier this year (it originally hails from jolly ol’ England), introducing a new line of products dedicated to dapper chaps while offering the same Boots formula as the coveted women’s collection. ($7.99-$22.99;


Between Me and You Honey Journal

Between Me and You Honey Journal

Between Me and You Honey Journal


Think you know everything about your significant other? Think again. You two can build a relationship that’s closer and more honest than ever with the Between Me and You Honey Journal, a handsome spiral-bound notebook dedicated to sharing personal experiences, life stories, hopes, fears, fantasies and more. ($14.95;



 The HomeMade Gin Kit

The HomeMade Gin Kit

The HomeMade Gin Kit


There’s nothing more satisfying than coming home from a long day at the office and enjoying a freshly prepared cocktail with your sweetie — unless, of course, that cocktail is made from a DIY gin that you two have created yourselves. Salud! ($49.95;


LifeStyles Pleasure Products


LifeStyles Pleasure Products


Sex is in the air on Valentine’s Day, but it’s important to play it safe. Whether you’re rekindling the romance in your marriage on Feb. 14 or just kickin’ it with a rando you picked up at the “I Hate Cupid” happy hour, LifeStyles has a wide selection of pleasure products to set the mood and make bedtime a bit more exciting. (Prices vary;


Cocoa Canard Spooning Chocolate


Cocoa Canard Spooning Chocolate

Cocoa Canard Spooning Chocolate

Thanks to Cocoa Canard, lactose-intolerant and celiac-suffering chocoholics can celebrate with the rest of Cupid’s cocoa-covered targets with Spooning Chocolate, the first dairy- and gluten-free pure, non-bitter dark chocolate that instantly dissolves in a cup of hot water. The makers like to call it the Espresso of Hot Chocolate, but you’ll probably just call it liquid yum. To enhance the gift-giving experience, Cocoa Canard has put together a handsome gift package, which includes a can of Spooning Chocolate, Spooning Mug, and personalized stationery. ($24.95;


Secretions Magnifiques Eau de Parfum


Have you ever wanted to bottle-up the scent of a swaggery, sweaty man to whiff whenever you want? Secretions Magnifiques Eau de Parfum by Etat Libre d’Orange has perfected that formula in a new scent that all at once blends sex, saliva, skin and sandalwood (among other tantalizing aromatics) into a mesmerizing and masculine grooming spray perfect for giving the one you love — or keeping for yourself and owning your new status as a walking aphrodisiac. ($80;


‘See a Heart, Share a Heart’ photo book

‘See a Heart, Share a Heart’ photo book

‘See a Heart, Share a Heart’ photo book


It may not seem like there’s a whole lot of heart left in this wacky world we live in, but it’s there – you just have to look hard enough. That’s how photographer Eric Telchin stumbled upon his latest project and gift book, “See a Heart, Share a Heart,” which features found hearts in the most mundane of places like sweaters, sidewalks, leaves and animal fur. ($10.70;


FreshNeck subscription


Give the debonair gift that keeps on giving this Valentine’s Day with a subscription to FreshNeck, AKA the Netflix for ties. Your guy will always step out in style with this service that allows him to pick his favorite ties from a robust selection of neckwear and add them to his “Closet” (fancy name for queue), and in one to three business days his top picks will arrive. When he wants to switch it up again, he just sends the ties back in the provided prepaid envelope and awaits his new arrivals. FreshNeck also offers a variety of bowties, pocket squares and cufflinks so he can dress to the nines every day of the week. ($20-$55/month;


‘Eye Heart You’ artwork

‘Eye Heart You’ artwork

‘Eye Heart You’ artwork


If your sweetie skews a little funky with a dash of the morbid, he or she might appreciate this interesting work of art entitled “Eye Heart You,” which spells out the affectionate sentiment of “I Love You” in a rebus — for the most part, anyway. In place of the first two words are stitched pictures that feature an eye and an anatomically correct heart, respectively, and then the word “you.” The 5×7-inch piece is set in an ash wood frame and comes ready to hang. ($41;


Égalité Wine

Égalité Wine

Égalité Wine


Even if you’re not a wine-and-dine couple (and who can blame you? It’s totally overrated), you can still mark this special occasion with a toast on the couch — and supporting the fight for equal rights while you’re at it. Égalité wine, introduced early last year, is the first nationally distributed wine created in support of the LGBT equality in the United States and around the world. Meaning equality, Égalité is both a reflection of the wine’s French origin and a celebration of equality for gay Americans. Since its launch, the brand has contributed more than $20,000 in cash and product to LGBT organizations. ($22.99;


Nasty Pig Baller Line

Nasty Pig Baller Line

Nasty Pig Baller Line


Turn up the heat in the bedroom this Valentine’s Day without touching the thermostat with Nasty Pig’s new Baller line of undergarments, featuring red-hot socks, briefs and jocks sure to excite that adorable fetishist who shares your bed. Also available in green if you’re trying to send that “go-ahead” message from the get-go, these latest additions are full of frisky pop to make his tightening denim drop. ($16-29;


Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and blogger who lives in New York City with his husband and their two dogs. Follow him on Twitter @mikeyrox.


Want to stay local? Here are a few D.C. spots to get great Valentine’s Day gifts


Real Estate

Totally radical home buying

We should celebrate advancement of homeownership rights



The phrase “totally radical” came of age in the 1980s and was defined as cool, wonderful, or awesome. Its synonym, wicked, can be found in nearly all Ben Affleck movies and a cry of “Excellent!” will bring back memories of an adventure had by Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) in 1989.

Although some people are not ready for cocooning yet, homeownership is still a cornerstone of financial strength and wealth building. For LGBTQ individuals, owning a home can provide a sense of economic security and a sanctuary where they can express their personalities freely and without fear of discrimination or harassment. 

Whether house, condominium, or cooperative apartment, owning a place to chill allows you to build a legacy and provide for future generations. It offers the stability needed to plan for the future, whether that involves raising a family, supporting aging parents, or ensuring a spouse’s or partner’s financial security.

Homeowners are also more likely to invest in their communities, fostering strong, inclusive, bitchin’ neighborhoods. For many LGBTQ people, a home is “In the District,” which prides itself on diversity. Homeownership allows individuals to create personal spaces that reflect their identities and values, contribute to the city’s rich cultural tapestry, support local businesses, and participate in community events and governance.

The journey toward homeownership for gay individuals has evolved over the years, reflecting broader societal changes and the struggle for LGBTQ rights. The stark contrast between the ’80s and now highlights the progress made, the challenges that still exist, and future uncertainties brought forth by the space cadets in our political system. 

In the 1980s, homeownership for gay people was bogus. The decade was marked by lame, pervasive discrimination and limited legal protections. The HIV/AIDS epidemic further stigmatized the gay community, intensifying societal prejudices. This climate of fear and hostility permeated various aspects of life, including the housing market.

Gay individuals faced overt discrimination from landlords, real estate agents, and mortgage lenders, even in the rental market. It was not uncommon for same-sex couples to be denied housing simply because of their sexual orientation. Even in the late ’90s I had clients looking for homes in Prince William County, Va., who had to hightail it out of an open house when told to take a hike. I kid you not!

Financial institutions were often unwilling to grant mortgages to same-sex couples or openly gay individuals. When they did, the terms were often less favorable than those offered to heterosexual couples. This made the dream of homeownership significantly harder to achieve, even though DINKs (dual income, no kids) tended to have more household income than so-called “traditional” families.

Additionally, the lack of legal recognition for same-sex relationships posed harsh challenges. Without the ability to marry, same-sex couples faced difficulties in co-owning property and ensuring that their partner had legal rights to the home. Estate planning was complicated, as inheritance laws did not recognize same-sex partners, potentially leading to the loss of a home upon a partner’s death.

The landmark Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, was a fantabulous moment. This ruling provided same-sex couples with the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, including the ability to jointly own property and inherit without complication.

Anti-discrimination laws have also evolved. The definition of sex under the Federal Fair Housing Act has been expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity, as have protected classes in Maryland and Virginia. The District has taken that a step further; our protected classes also include gender expression and personal appearance. 

Organizations like the DC Center for the LGBT Community and the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) offer resources and advocacy for LGBTQ+ homebuyers. These organizations provide educational workshops, networking opportunities, and support to navigate the housing market.

The advancement of homeownership rights for gay people is a testament to the righteous resilience and determination of the LGBTQ+ community. As society continues to strive for equality, it is essential to address the remaining challenges to ensure that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can achieve the goal of homeownership.

In 2024, the only limitations on owning a home are finding one and being able to afford it. Pride weekend is a great time to go to open houses. You’ll probably be walking right by several. 

But if you’re not ready yet and just feel like getting your ’80s jams on, grab your disco balls and check out the Totally Tubular Festival at The Anthem at The Wharf on July 14.I’ll be Desperately Seeking Susan and will, as they used to say in the ’70s, catch you on the flip flop.

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Real Estate

Decorating tips for Pride in D.C.

Perfect time to add a dash of creativity to your living space



Hang your Pride flag and other LGBTQ-themed décor this Pride month. (Washington Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

As the vibrant LGBTQ community in Washington, D.C., gears up for the much-anticipated Pride celebrations on June 8 and June 9, it’s the perfect time to add a splash of color and a dash of creativity to your living space. Normally, I know you’re used to reading more educational and serious articles in this space. In the spirit of D.C. Pride this year, I thought a bit of levity would be welcomed.

Whether you’re in a cozy condo, a spacious home, or a rental apartment, here are some fabulous ways to zhuzh up your indoors and outdoors with Pride-themed décor. 

Indoors: Celebrate with Style

1. Colorful Accents Everywhere

Transform your living area into a festive space by incorporating the colors of the rainbow. Here’s how:

• Throw Pillows and Blankets: Swap out your regular throw pillows and blankets for those in bright, rainbow colors. This simple change can make your space instantly feel more festive.

• Pride Flags: Hang LGBTQ Pride flags on your walls or in your windows. The traditional rainbow flag is a staple, but also consider including other flags like the bisexual, transgender, or pansexual flags to celebrate the diversity of our community.

• Art and Posters: Display Pride-themed art or inspirational quotes from LGBTQ+ icons. Local artists often have prints and posters that reflect the spirit of Pride.

2. Light It Up. Lighting can set the mood for any celebration:

• Fairy Lights: Drape rainbow-colored fairy lights around your living room or bedroom for a magical touch.

• LED Candles: Use multi-colored LED candles to safely add a warm glow to your space.

3. Tabletop Décor. Celebrate at every meal with:

• Tablecloths and Runners: A vibrant rainbow tablecloth or runner can turn every dining experience into a celebration.

• Centerpieces: Create centerpieces with flowers in hues of the rainbow, or use colorful glass bottles as vases.

4. DIY Pride Crafts. Get creative with DIY decorations:

• Rainbow Paper Chains: Make paper chains in rainbow colors and hang them across your rooms.

• Pride Mason Jars: Paint mason jars in rainbow stripes and use them to hold utensils or flowers.

Outdoors: A Festive Façade

1. Balcony or Patio Pride. If you have outdoor space, make it a part of the celebration:

• Rainbow Banners and Streamers: Decorate your balcony or patio railings with rainbow banners and streamers.

• Outdoor Flags: Fly a large Pride flag from your balcony or in your garden.

2. Welcoming Door Décor. Your front door can be a bold statement of support:

• Pride Wreath: Create or buy a wreath featuring rainbow colors or themed around different LGBTQ+ flags.

• Welcome Mats: Greet visitors with Pride-themed welcome mats.

3. Garden and Window Dressings. Let your garden or exterior windows echo your Pride:

• Window Decals: Use removable rainbow decals to decorate windows facing the street.

• Garden Flags: Place small rainbow or other LGBTQ+ flags throughout your garden or in plant pots on your porch.

4. Lighting the Night. Make your outdoor space shine:

• Solar Rainbow Lights: Use solar-powered lights in Pride colors to illuminate pathways or garden borders.

• Projection Lights: Project rainbow patterns or Pride flags onto your home’s exterior.

Community Engagement

1. Share the Spirit. Decorate your shared spaces if you’re in an apartment building:

• Bulletin Boards: Put up colorful notices or flyers announcing local Pride events.

• Community Areas: If possible, decorate communal areas with small flags or posters.

2. Local Pride. Support local LGBTQ businesses by buying decorations or craft supplies from them. This not only helps the community but also promotes local artists and crafters.

Safety and Considerations

• Check with your landlord or HOA: Before hanging decorations outside or in shared areas, make sure to check if there are any restrictions.

• Be Mindful of Neighbors: While celebrating Pride, ensure your decorations are respectful and mindful of your neighbors.

By decorating your home for Pride in Washington, D.C., you’re not just brightening up your living space; you’re showing your support and solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Let your Pride shine brightly, and make this year’s celebrations unforgettable!

Scott Bloom is owner and senior property manager, Columbia Property Management. For more information and resources, visit

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Real Estate

Looking for vacation homes during Memorial Day weekend

A busy, strategic time in the housing market



As summer arrives, more tourists begin thinking of buying in resort towns like Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Memorial Day weekend, a time to honor the sacrifices of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, also marks the unofficial start of summer. Beyond its significance as a day of remembrance, it has become a prime period for the real estate market. The long weekend provides a unique opportunity for home buyers and sellers, making it one of the busiest and most strategic times in the housing market.

Memorial Day weekend is often a time when people head to the beach, the country, or the mountains for relaxation and to join in the local festivities. This long weekend offers a break from routine, a chance to honor those who have served, and an opportunity to enjoy the beginning of warmer weather. 

For real estate agents, however, Memorial Day weekend can be a blend of work and leisure, especially in resort communities where the real estate market is particularly active during this time. 

The influx of visitors to these destinations often includes prospective buyers who are considering purchasing vacation homes or investment properties. As a result, real estate agents in these areas might find themselves balancing work commitments with personal downtime.

We are keenly aware that the long weekend brings a surge in potential clients. Agents joke among themselves about business being slow until they make plans to go out of town. Open houses and community home tours are often scheduled to coincide with the holiday, taking advantage of the increased foot traffic.

Due to constantly improving technology, real estate agents can effectively manage their time and resources even during busy holiday weekends. Virtual tours, online listings, and digital marketing campaigns enable agents to reach a broad audience without always being physically present. Technology also allows agents to stay connected with clients and respond to inquiries promptly, ensuring that the clients do not miss out on potential sales opportunities. 

Often, agents licensed in the DMV are expanding their territories by becoming licensed in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Writing offers while on vacation has become the norm. Social media accounts can highlight special listings and open house events, and agents can also post pictures and descriptions of amenities in the towns they are visiting, attracting interested buyers who are in the area for the weekend.

The vibrant atmosphere of vacation getaway towns during Memorial Day weekend also provides a unique opportunity for networking and relationship-building. Agents can meet potential clients in a casual setting, forging connections that might lead to new business opportunities. They can also form relationships with other agents and create partnerships to help current and future clients find leisure homes.

The appeal of owning a place by the water, for example, is often strongest during the summer months, when the weather is inviting and the potential for rental income is high. Real estate agents who serve beach towns such as Ocean City, Md., Virginia Beach, Va., or Rehoboth Beach, Del., often mix business with pleasure as they seek out new clients.

Alternatively, if the relaxed life in the country is more to your liking, places such as The Amish area of Lancaster County, Pa. may be for you. Charles Town, W.Va., and Ashland, Va. have a robust military history and may be what you’re looking to enjoy. If mountains and lakes are more your style, the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, the Appalachians of West Virginia, or Deep Creek Lake, Md., may fit the bill, so let’s look at a few properties on the market today.

In Ocean City, you can find an oceanfront, one-bedroom condominium with beach and sunset views in a short-term rental building for $439,900. As you can imagine, it already has four weeks booked for the summer.

The historic district of Charles Town, W.Va., offers a 3,000-square-foot Victorian home built in 1890. It has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, 10’ high ceilings, original pocket doors, inlaid floors, and central air conditioning for $159,900. What’s the catch? It requires a complete renovation, but what a wonderful project it could be for weekend warriors.

Stretch your budget a bit more and you can own a 4,000-square-foot chalet with mountain views on both sides in Front Royal, Va. For less than $700,000, you will get four bedrooms and three baths, nearly two acres of land, and low-maintenance siding.

While many people flock to nearby vacation spots purely for relaxation, real estate agents often find themselves working diligently to learn about different areas and capitalize on the increased interest in local properties. By doing so, they can help clients find their dream homes, whether for retirement, short getaways, or investment potential.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed associate broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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