Jim Marks remembers hard-but-fun work during his years working as a Blade reporter, often trying to get work done in the Blade’s former F Street offices on Sunday nights while music blared from the 9:30 Club below.
“We never stopped working,” the 65-year-old Summerville, Ga., native says. “But it was really a great job. I was using a lot of my talents, learning new things and I learned a lot about writing just from doing it.”
Marks first freelanced for the paper in 1981 and was on staff from 1982-’84, occasionally contributing thereafter as well. He worked as a community reporter, edited the calendar, compiled a monthly book review section and helped the paper overall in its transition to a weekly publication. He especially remembers the onslaught of AIDS and how early scientific reporting in a lengthy series run before much was known about the disease “later turned out to be really accurate,” he says.
Marks later worked as a freelance reporter, with Rainbow History Project, the Lambda Book Report, the Lambda Literary Foundation, Metro D.C. PFLAG, the D.C. Center and more. He says the Blade’s 45th anniversary is “a very significant achievement.”
“I think in some ways it’s even more important now because there’s so much more going on,” he says. “It’s a way of keeping the community together and informed. … What Lynne (Brown) and Kevin (Naff) have done in rescuing the Blade … has been heroic.”
Marks and partner Nick Apostol have been together since 1980 and met shortly after Marks arrived in Washington in 1979.
They live together in Shaw. Marks enjoys cooking and riding his bike in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out in June 1970 at British Museum, London. Entered a relationship with a woman summer 1973. Ceased dating women and only dated other men, summer 1975. Most awkward coming out was the mid-‘70s conversation with my dad in which he let me know he’d figured out I was gay. (“I’m not saying you are, but if you are you are still my son and your mother and I still love you.”)
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Gay Games founder Tom Waddell and civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
D.C. Eagle on 7th street in the ‘80s.
Describe your dream wedding.
My own in March 2009. Eloped to New London, Conn., where we were married by my friend Ron Suresha on the snowy boardwalk and then viewed the WPA-era whaling murals in New London’s main post office while the clerk processed the paperwork in the courthouse across the street. The muralist was no slouch when it came to depicting hunky sailors.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
2000 presidential election
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Barbra Streisand concert, Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., 1966
On what do you insist?
Morning cuppa joe
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Facebook remarks on the number of children and middle-aged heterosexual couples at NoVa Pride Oct. 5.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Careering from Career to Career”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do
LOL (‘cause the scientists would only be fooling themselves)
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
“Hope in bad times; worry in good times” (Horace, Roman poet, First Century BC)
What would you walk across hot coals for?
World peace; if not available, a Tanqueray martini would have to do.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Any stereotype used to oppress anyone.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“The Hunger.” Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon sex scene the most beautifully erotic ever filmed. Runner up, “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
How much fun the next 47 years would be.
It just gets better.