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Mayor, council members pay tribute to slain trans woman

Accused killer found competent to stand trial

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Deoni JaParker Jones, gay news, Washington Blade
Deoni JaParker Jones, Vincent Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayor Vincent Gray spoke at the annual memorial. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and four members of the City Council joined more than 100 people Saturday night for the second annual memorial rally for slain transgender woman Deoni JaParker Jones.

Jones’ family members organized the event at the parish hall of St. Luke Roman Catholic Church at 4925 E. Capitol St., S.E., less than two blocks from a bus stop where Jones was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2012, in a development that shocked the city’s LGBT community.

Judean Jones and Alvin Bethea, Deoni Jones’ mother and stepfather, said they have sought to channel their pain and sadness over the loss of their daughter into a positive effort to change hearts and minds and build understanding and support for trans people and the LGBT community.

“God chose to take Deoni,” Bethea told the gathering. “That’s the way we look at it. And we continue to see to it that transgender people get a fair shot at life and a fair shot at jobs,” he said.

Bethea announced the launching of the Deoni Jones Foundation, which he said his family and supporters plan to use to help strengthen efforts to combat anti-LGBT violence.

Saturday’s memorial gathering took place one day after a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled that Gary Niles Montgomery, 57, the D.C. man charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with Deoni Jones’ death, is mentally competent to stand trial.

Judge Robert E. Morin’s decision on Friday reversed an earlier ruling that Montgomery was not competent to stand trial. He said his latest ruling was based on the findings of a mental competency exam conducted at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the fourth such examination given to Montgomery since the time of his arrest two weeks after Deoni Jones’ murder.

Morin scheduled the trial to begin on Oct. 6, 2014.

Some LGBT activists have joined the Jones family in expressing concern that the U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t list Deoni Jones’ murder as a hate crime. Video footage from a city surveillance camera shows Montgomery stabbing her in the head with a knife and then taking her handbag. Bethea has said the brutality of Montgomery’s action went far beyond a simple robbery and had all the makings of someone targeting a trans person for murder.

“Deoni was going to be who she wanted to be,” he said, in noting that she chose not to hide her status as a trans woman. “She was not going to walk out of the house being something she was not.”

The City Council members participating in the Deoni Jones memorial rally on Saturday were David Catania (I-At Large), David Grosso (I-At-Large), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Each of them joined Gray in calling for continued efforts to secure the full rights and dignity of trans people by working hard to overcome hate and prejudice.

Also attending the event were Capt. Edward Delgado, commander of the D.C. Police Department’s Special Liaison Division, which includes the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit; and Officer Juanita Foreman, a member of the GLLU.

Deoni Jones, gay news, gay politics dc

Deoni JaParker Jones (Screenshot via Facebook)

Others who spoke at the event included veteran trans activists Earline Budd and Jeri Hughes; Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence; Je-Shawna Wholley, program manager for the national LGBT rights group National Black Justice Coalition and Ronald King, staff assistant to D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7).

Last August, Gray signed what activists have called a landmark bill approved by the City Council called the JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013. Catania, the bill’s author, said chose the name to honor Jones. The bill removes obstacles to the process through which trans people change their birth certificate to reflect their new gender.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding

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What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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Arts & Entertainment

2021 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalist in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd.

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It is Decision 2021! You nominated and now we have our Top 5 finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd. Our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 21st and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 22nd.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, PEPCO, Washington Regional Transplant Community.

Vote below or by clicking HERE.

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Veteran restauranteurs to open Drift in Rehoboth

Second Block Hospitality eyes 2022 debut for new raw bar

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Double L, Diego's Hideaway, Fourth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade
A new raw bar is coming to Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Despite the generally anti-business positions of the current Rehoboth Beach Mayor and some members of the Rehoboth Beach Commission, there are still some entrepreneurs who have faith in Rehoboth Beach.

One such group is the newly announced Second Block Hospitality Group, which brings together local industry leaders Lion Gardner, Tyler Townsend, Bob Suppies, and David Gonce.

According to the partners, “The mission of Second Block Hospitality is simple…to deliver exceptional hospitality. Second Block projects will be designed to become places that matter; that bring the community together. They aim to create unique spaces that foster positivity, a creative atmosphere, and memorable experiences. Driven by this philosophy we are thoughtful in everything we do, down to the smallest detail. In all our endeavors we are committed to crafting unique guest experiences through innovative design, authentic flavors, and warm hospitality.”

Their first new venture, Drift, will be a raw bar and dining room on Baltimore Avenue. The new project, already underway, is a massive restoration designed to transform the existing building, originally built in 1890 and used as a camp meeting house, into a modern structure with historic charm. Drift restaurant will feature a refined design, open airy spaces and lots of glass for open vantage points with an indoor/outdoor bar area and intimate back patio that will add to the allure of Baltimore Avenue.

“We could not be more excited to be breaking ground on another passion project,” said Suppies. “Coming through the last year brought many new challenges to our industry, but we were able to get very creative and grow as a company, so this new venture is very exciting for us.”

Another of the partners, Gardner, brings his skill set as a longtime chef to the new venture.

“One of my roles in the company will be to oversee the menu and kitchen at Drift and all of our projects moving forward,” Gardner said. “The great thing about our ownership group is that even though each partner has his own area of expertise, there is collaboration across the board; we are all involved in all aspects of the business. I am excited to learn and contribute in other areas as well, and luckily for me I’m working with a group of really talented, experienced and passionate guys.”

Drift is slated to open sometime in early 2022, and things are in full swing for the new restaurant owners, including menu planning. Townsend said, “Drift will be a true raw bar focusing on the art of raw seafood and not just oysters, along with traditionally prepared dishes influenced by the sea. From a beverage standpoint we will feature craft cocktails and eccentric wine and beer offerings. Think small and intimate, rustic and classic, yet casual with a focus on culinary inventiveness and creative spaces.” and good times. For more information visit driftrb.com.

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