Brother Help Thyself, the local HIV/AIDS community LGBT group founded in 1978, has its signature event, Pride Day at Kings Dominion, on Saturday.
Patrons can ride from 4-11 p.m. and an after party is from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. with DJ Keith. Tickets are $35 in advance or $37 at the gate. After 8 p.m., the park is exclusively the domain of Brother supporters. Details at brotherhelpthyself.net.
Jim Slattery has been involved with the organization about five years and is in his second term as president. He says the group continues to do important local work in the fight against AIDS.
“There really isn’t another group like Brother Help Thyself in D.C.,” the 45-year-old Washington native says. “Sure, there are a lot of other non-profits, but I feel we’re really instrumental in helping a lot of the smaller, more shoe-string operations, that groups that don’t have a lot of structure, we’re great at giving them seed money to get up and running.”
The Kings Dominion event, a tradition for the last 15 years, is Brother’s biggest annual event. About 2,500 are expected and the group generally gets about $25,000 in proceeds, which it uses to fund the grants it awards each January.
Slattery works by day as a scheduler for Ward 4 Councilmember (and mayoral hopeful) Muriel Bowser. He and husband Ethan Hase live D.C.’s Takoma neighborhood. Slattery enjoys local politics, volunteer work, Rehoboth Beach, music, movies and card games in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out to just about everyone in the summer of 2006 after the death of a close friend by writing an op-ed for this paper which I then shared with family and friends. Who was the hardest person to tell? I think honestly, my best friend Linda. Looking back, it was such a silly fear. But I helped raise her kids and even took in her son when he was kicked out of her home. I guess I feared she would think I was “after him.” Ridiculous, I know.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
June Horner of PFLAG of Westminster, Md., one of the strongest, bravest and most dedicated people I have ever met. As to LGBT, I’d have to say my good friend Bradley “Thumper Bear” Hill, who preceded me as BHT’s president. He’s really been a big influence in my life and was instrumental in kick starting my advocacy work in our community.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
The D.C. Eagle, without fail. It’s really where I came into my own as a gay man and where I met my husband. That bar really was my Cheers and while I’m really sad the old location is now gone, I do look forward to hanging out at the new Eagle on Benning Road and having it grow on us.
Describe your dream wedding.
I’ve already had it. We were joined in Provincetown, Mass., on Sept. 5, 2009 by family and friends on a beach just as the sun was setting. I wish my mother had been there, but she had died two months earlier. Thankfully she’d known Ethan for years and loved him too.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
Nothing. It’s tempting but as Stephen King taught us, even small things you might change could have even more disastrous ramifications.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The death of Michael Jackson.
On what do you insist?
Politeness. Our society could really use a refresher course.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A link to Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama” video.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Full Schedule, Full Life”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would be very wary of science and wonder why it wanted to discover such a way.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I honestly don’t know. The Catholic faith I was raised with really does not seem very logical.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Listen carefully and work towards a common goal of inclusion and acceptance for all. Don’t get caught up in petty drama or fight against each other. Differences of opinion are to be expected, but don’t disagree simply to disagree. Do this and over time you’ll learn who is truly devoted to the cause and who is devoted to some sort of limelight.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The right to be recognized as my husband’s spouse everywhere just as every straight married couple in this country has the right to do.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we all don’t like sports, love Madonna, Cher and Barbra Streisand and that we all pay a hundred bucks or more for a haircut.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Brokeback Mountain.” It’s so painfully heart wrenching and beautifully told and acted.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Shaking hands. I’d much rather give you a hug.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
A photo album given to me by my grandmother when I turned 31, full of mementos from her life (rain check from the 1925 World Series between Washington and Pittsburgh) and from mine (a glowing sixth grade progress report) and photos from throughout my life. What a gift this was, that she saved all of these things over the years and then gave them to me. She died two years ago at age 95 and I rediscovered the album looking for a specific photo of her.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That being gay did not have to be an ugly secret.
It’s where three generations of my family have called home and because, really, where else?