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Calendar: April 4-10

Parties, concerts, support groups and more for the week ahead

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calendar, gay news, Washington Blade
calendar, gay news, Washington Blade

Director Tom Story, center, with actors David Nate Goldman and Allie Villareal in ‘Moth’ at Studio Theatre. (Photo by Igor Dmitry; courtesy Studio)

D.C.-area LGBT events calendar for the week ahead.

Friday, April 4

The Sugarloaf Crafts Festival begins at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds (16 Chestnut St., Gaithersburg, Md.) today from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Sunday.  Purchase jewelry, home décor, fine arts and much more made from American craftsmen. A few craftsmen will also be doing live demonstrations in jewelry making, hand carving and furniture making. Admission is $8 online and $10 at the door. For more details, visit sugarloafcrafts.com.

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.

Charm City Fetish Fair begins today at Doubletree Hilton BWI (890 Elkridge Landing Rd., Linthicum Heights, Md.) at 5 p.m. and goes through Sunday. There will be a meet and greet, parties and workshops led by experts on the fetish lifestyle. For more information, visit charmcityfetishfair.com.

Bishop Allyson Abrams and Empowerment Liberation Cathedral launch an affirming fellowship service at Church of the Ascension (633 Sligo Ave., Silver Spring, Md.) tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. All are welcome. For more details, visit empowermentliberationcathedral.org.

Saturday, April 5

D.C. MeetMarket, an outdoor community market, begins on the corner of 15th and P St. N.W. today from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Over 40 local vendors will be selling goods including Baked and Wired, Twisted Aristocrat and more. The market’s goal is to help support the city’s small businesses and creative community. There will be live music by American Hearts, Light Arms and DJ Vanniety Kills. There will also be an interactive photo booth and free raffle.

Lesbian singer Lisa Moscatiello and singer Chris Noyes perform together for “We are Takoma Park,” a concert at the Takoma Park Municipal Building (7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park, Md.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. The performance includes Celtic ballads, contemporary folk, country and more. For more information, email [email protected] or call 301-891-7266.

Code Redux presents “CODE All Colors,” a BDSM party, at the Crucible (16 M St., N.E.) from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Fetish dress code required. This is a membership-only event. Walk-ins will not be accepted. Online membership is available. For more information and to join, visit the-crucible.com

Sunday, April 6

Queer for Christ, a Christian LGBT group, attends “Evensong/Evensocial,” a 20s/30s meet up group, at National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) today at 4 p.m. For more information, visit nationalcathedral.org.

Guitarist Charles Mokotoff performs Latin American melodies at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church (9601 Cedar Ln., Bethesda, Md.) today at 4 p.m.  For more details, visit cedarlane.org.

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.

Victory Fund holds is “National Champagne Brunch” today from11 a.m.-2 p.m. Special guests include Maine gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud, Massachusetts attorney general candidate Maura Healey and Washington D.C. City Councilmember David Catania. Tickets are $250. For more details, visit victoryfund.org.

Monday, April 7

Opera on Tap D.C. Metro perform at Vendetta Bocce Bar and Tavern (1212 H St., N.E.) tonight from 7-9:30 p.m. Local opera singers Colin Michael Brush, Melissa Chavez, Aaron Halevy and more will be performing. There will be $1 sliders all night long with a 2 drink minimum. There will also be $4 Prosecco and Peroni and $5 house wine. There is a $5 suggested cover. For more information, visit operaontap.org/dcmetro.

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.

Us Helping Us  (3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.) holds a support group for gay black men to discuss topics that affect them, share perspectives and have meaningful conversations. For details, visit uhupil.org.

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts poker night tonight at 8 p.m. Win prizes. Free to play. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

Tuesday, April 8

GLOV hosts a happy hour reception at MOVA Lounge (2204 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 5:30-8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and supports GLOV, which aims to reduce violence against LGBT individuals and to assist victims of anti-LGBT violence. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

JQ Baltimore, a Jewish LGBT outreach and support group, hosts Seder at Waxter Center (1000 Cathedral St., Mt. Vernon, Md.) tonight at 6:30 p.m. The Seder will be conducted by Rabbi Gila Ruskin and a kosher dairy dinner with traditional Passover foods will be served. Tickets are $12. For more details, email [email protected] or call 443.300.8996.

Wednesday, April 9

The Lambda Bridge Club hosts duplicate bridge at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) at 7:30 p.m. tonight. No reservations needed and new comers welcome. If you need a partner, call 703-407-6540.

Big Gay Book Group meets at 1155 F St., N.W. Suite 200 tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss “The Towers of Trebizond” by Roe Macaulay. This comedy tells the story of what it means to be a Christian in the modern world with a wacky group of characters including spies a Greek sorcerer and a deranged camel. For more information email [email protected]

“Moth” begins its run at the Studio Theatre (1501 14th St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. “Moth” tells the story of an anime-obsessed boy and his emo-Wiccan friend whose friendship is changed forever when Sebastian is forced on an apocalyptic mission after a horrific event at his high school. Tickets are $30.The play runs through May 4. For more details, visit studiotheatre.org.

Thursday, April 10

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers for Food and Friends (219 Riggs Rd., N.E.) tonight from 6-8 p.m. Volunteers will chop vegetables and pack groceries. To volunteer, email [email protected]. For more details, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Rude Boi Entertainment hosts “Tempted 2 Touch,” a ladies dance party, at the Fab Lounge (2022 Florida Ave., N.W.) Doors open at 10 p.m. Drink specials $5 and vodka shots $3 all night. No cover charge. Admission limited to guests 21 and over. For more details, visit rudeboientertainment.wordpress.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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