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Images from the Deep South

A photo essay documenting LGBT life in rural Miss., Ala. and La.



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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The True Gospel Church of God in Christ is near Jackson, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Blade reporter Michael K. Lavers and I earlier this year pitched the idea of going to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to see what LGBT life is like in the South. Living in D.C., we wanted to see for ourselves just how different the experience was for our brothers and sisters who make their homes in places not known for LGBT inclusiveness. Our editor sent us out to gather stories and pictures. We had absolutely no idea what was in store for us.

The Dandelion Project

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Dandelion Project founder Brandiilyne Dear met with the Washington Blade in Laurel, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Our first stop after landing at Medgar Evers International Airport in Jackson, the Mississippi state capital, was in Laurel, Miss. where we met with Dandelion Project founder Rev. Brandiilyne Dear. She told us about her life: how she had been addicted to meth, but then found a calling to the pulpit and got sober. She founded a ministry to help the many addicts who live in the Mississippi Pine Belt. Despite all that she had done through the years for her church, when it was found out that she was a lesbian, everyone — even her own family — turned against her and she “lost everything.”

Dear found her calling elsewhere with the Dandelion Project, a social support group and activist organization for LGBT people in Mississippi. She explained that dandelions are seen as weeds; something to be destroyed, yet are beautiful, ubiquitous and “a good thing.”

We spoke with members of the Dandelion Project, including several gender non-conforming youth who were eager to share their stories of social isolation and the violence and hatred they face.

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Members of the Dandelion Project meet in Dear’s Mississippi home. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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Members of the Dandelion Project gather to discuss issues in a home in Laurel, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Despite the daily discrimination they all said they experience, most members of the Dandelion project were proud to continue the fight for equality in their home state. One young person, however, who had just been through a harrowing run for her life from a group intent on doing her harm wished for Mississippi to “fall into the Gulf” of Mexico.

Mississippi Delta

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One of the many ruined structures along Main Street in Yazoo City, Miss. stands as a monument to the tornado which passed through the city four years ago. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Our next stop was in the verdant but poverty-stricken Mississippi Delta. After passing small farming towns and long stretches of countryside, we arrived at the “Gateway to the Delta,” Yazoo City, where we had an appointment with the newly elected Mayor Diane Delaware. A cosmopolitan woman who had worked “all around the world,” Delaware told us that she had “no problem” with same-sex marriage.

Yazoo City, and indeed the entire Mississippi Delta, seemed to have much bigger things to worry about than marriage equality. Abject poverty was compounded with joblessness to make for a grim future for many residents. A tornado had passed through Yazoo City four years before, leaving vast swaths of the city in ruins. The city didn’t have money or private investment to repair its downtown.

Yazoo City Boys & Girls Club. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Ten Commandments marker stands in front of Yazoo City Boys & Girls Club. Such markers are fairly common in Mississippi. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A street in Yazoo City, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Several homes in Yazoo City, Miss. remain shuttered. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Main Street, Yazoo City, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Blocks of Main Street, Yazoo City, Miss. remain largely abandoned. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Main Street, Yazoo City, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A tornado devastated Main Street, Yazoo City, Miss. four years ago. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

We drove deep into the Mississippi Delta to Greenville on the the Mississippi River. There, we met with an out school teacher, Ryvell Fitzpatrick.

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Ryvell Fitzpatrick is a teacher in Greenville, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The reluctant pioneer described his life to us as someone who has managed to thrive, despite the difficulties.

We Don’t Discriminate Campaign

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A Mississippi law that opponents argue allows business owners to deny services to LGBT people based on their religious beliefs took effect on July 1. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Back in Laurel, Dear pointed out the “We Don’t Discriminate” signs on select local businesses. The signs had been placed in store windows following the passage of SB-2681 — the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or so-called “Turn Away the Gays Bill.”

We went to Jackson to track down the organizers of the We Don’t Discriminate Campaign.

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Campbell’s Bakery owner Mitchell Moore is the founder of the ‘We Don’t Discriminate’ campaign. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

We spoke with the founder: a self-described “straight, married, Republican, Christian” entrepreneur named Mitchell Moore who was disgusted that his bakery, the only wedding cake bakery within the Jackson city limits, would be used as a rallying cry for homophobes in the state Senate to justify the anti-gay bill. Following the interview, Moore gave us a large box of confections.

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Eddie Outlaw owns a barbershop and salon in Jackson, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

My reporter traveling companion got a beard trim as he interviewed salon and barbershop owner Eddie Outlaw. Outlaw and his husband Justin McPherson, the subjects of the documentary, “A Mississippi Love Story,” told us about their involvement in the campaign.

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Justin McPherson Outlaw and Eddie Outlaw, owners of a hair salon and barber shop in Jackson, Miss., married in California last year. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

We met with a group of LGBT rights advocates who spent their evening drinking beer, eating hors d’oeuvres and stuffing envelopes with “We Don’t Discriminate” stickers.

Activists in Jackson, Miss. fill envelopes with 'We Don't Discriminate' literature. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Activists in Jackson, Miss. fill envelopes with ‘We Don’t Discriminate’ literature. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

They were all excited by the success of the campaign in generating buzz around the nation, and hopeful about change to come.

Late at night, we met with performance artist Constance Gordon in the dressing room of a club frequented by LGBT people of color. She explained to us the intersection of race, class and gender and other dynamics in play in Mississippi. Like most we spoke with, she was proud to be from Mississippi, though she acknowledged the rampant discrimination that LGBT people face in her home state.

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Constance Gordon is a performance artist and promoter in Jackson, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The next day, before moving on to Louisiana, we met with HIV/AIDS service providers and advocates at Open Arms Healthcare Center in Jackson. We met the “AIDS Lady,” as she referred to herself, Charlotte “Dot” Norwood. She told us of the struggles that many clients face, including accessing healthcare, finding jobs and even getting enough to eat.

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Charlotte “Dot” Norwood has spent years in the fight against HIV/AIDS. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

We also had the pleasure of meeting client-turned-advocate Antwan Matthews. He related to us his story of being a great student but being kicked out of his home when his family found out that he is gay and HIV positive. Despite all of that, he managed to become a peer HIV educator and put himself through college. He is looking forward to graduating with a degree in biology soon.

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Antwan Matthews is a student and peer HIV educator. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Baton Rouge

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Carol Frazier, on upper right, greets fellow LGBT rights advocates at a restaurant in Baton Rouge, La., on July 12, 2014. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

We left Mississippi behind and drove south to Baton Rouge. We stopped at Bistro Byronz to meet with members of PFLAG Baton Rouge, Equality Louisiana, Louisiana Trans Advocates and Baton Rouge Pride. Michael tried to start the interviews, but the ebullient Carol Frazier of PFLAG insisted that in the South, people eat together before they get down to business. We polished off our crawfish étouffée and listened to stories from the gathered activists about their lives and work.

Many of those gathered at our table struggled with poverty and employment, like transgender woman Ksaa Zair who had difficulty in finding a job because of her gender presentation and had to resort to illegally attaining hormones over the Internet because she could not afford proper medical care in the U.S., or her roommate Sergio Oramas who worked as many overtime hours as he could at a warehouse, yet struggled to pay rent.

Other advocates we spoke with dealt with loss, like Frazier: her gay son had committed suicide. She then dedicated her life to helping LGBT people as the president of PFLAG Baton Rouge until health issues forced her to take a less active role.

All of the assembled activists had come together as a close-knit community. After Hurricane Katrina, tens of thousands of people moved to Baton Rouge and the nascent LGBT community began to solidify. The city’s first Pride celebration was held in 2007, organized by Tom Merrill and other members of Baton Rouge Pride.

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From left; Tom Merrill and Rick Cain are organizers of Baton Rouge Pride. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

After many hugs and farewells to our friendly dining companions, Michael and I left the sweltering heat of Baton Rouge and drove through the swamps of Louisiana to New Orleans.

New Orleans

After spending an evening touring the French Quarter and sampling crawfish pie and signature “hand grenade” drinks on Bourbon Street, Michael and I got some much-needed rest.

Gay life in the South

The St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter of New Orleans is a spot popular with tourists. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The next day, we met with activists in Metairie, La. who told us of the ups and downs of LGBT life in the New Orleans area. PFLAG New Orleans Co-President Julie Thompson, who had lost her gay son due to a medical emergency in the middle of a hurricane, beamed proudly about the time she went to Southern Decadence with him and how nice everyone was to her at gay bars. She, and the others gathered, spoke of how different everything was after Katrina and how the once-vibrant LGBT community of New Orleans was only now getting to where it was before the levees burst.

Hurricane Katrina

Co-President of PFLAG New Orleans Julie Thompson recalled many happy memories with her late gay son. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Louisiana Trans Advocates President Elizabeth Anne Jenkins told us how the destruction of the city meant the wholesale dismantling of an infrastructure for support for the local trans population, from doctors to support networks.

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Elizabeth Anne Jenkins is the president of Louisiana Trans Advocates. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Michael and I wanted to see the devastated Lower Ninth Ward for ourselves. There were rows and rows of foundations with no houses, empty streets with only weeds on the block. But there were bright spots. The Make It Right Foundation had rebuilt a portion of the neighborhood with gleaming, eco-friendly, hurricane resistant homes.

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Several eco-friendly homes have been built in the Lower Ninth Ward. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

But, it only took a trip across the bridge to the Upper Ninth Ward to see that the region is far from recovered. Many homes remain boarded shut, overgrown with creeping vines.

Hurricane Katrina

Several homes remain shuttered in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans nine years after Katrina. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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Homes in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans have been reclaimed by nature and sit abandoned. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

HIV in New Orleans

That evening, we met with peer educator Timothy Thompson of the New Orleans AIDS Task Force for dinner in the French Quarter. He told us of the problem of the stigma of an HIV-positive diagnosis driving many to avoid being tested. Many misconceptions about HIV/AIDS persist among people that Thompson had met with, including fears that HIV could be spread by sharing a meal.

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Timothy Thompson is a peer educator with New Orleans AIDS Task Force. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In the morning, we made our last stop in New Orleans: Belle Reve. Belle Reve is a residence for people with HIV that provides medical care and helps residents to get back on their feet. Vicki Weeks, its executive director, told us of all of the programs offered at the center and proudly guided us around. She, and other staff and residents, had been through a traumatic several months living as refugees in the aftermath of Katrina. But the center is now restored and provides life-saving treatment to people who are often at the end of their rope.

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Belle Reve Executive Director Vicki Weeks shows photos of the hurricane damage to the Belle Reve facility. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

One such resident was Carl Green who had lost his job after it was discovered that he was HIV positive. He became homeless and without access to medical treatment, deteriorated rapidly. Belle Reve took him in and nursed him back to health.

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Carl Green is a resident at Belle Reve. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

We also met with Miss Eddie who had ridden out Katrina in New Orleans before becoming a resident at Belle Reve.

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Miss Eddie told the Blade, ‘It’s a great blessing being here,’ in the Belle Reve facility in New Orleans. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gulf Coast

We left New Orleans and drove to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Where houses once stood along the shore, now only foundations remained. Many had rebuilt, but the scars of the hurricane were ever present.

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Foundations are all that remain of many homes along the Gulf Coast in Gulfport, Miss., destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Our first stop on the coast was to meet Jeff White and John Perkins, co-founders of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Lesbian and Gay Community Center. We shared queso and a margarita with them at a Mexican restaurant in Gulfport. They told us of how it was difficult for LGBT people to be out in any capacity in the area. They were even worried that the people in the restaurant might be looking at us. White then related a horrifying story about how he had been repeatedly raped by a teacher at his private Baptist school as an openly gay teenager to make him “hate men and change.”

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Jeff White and John Perkins are the co-founders of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Lesbian and Gay Community Center. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

We drove along the coast to a mall in nearby Biloxi, where we met with Jennifer and Jena Pierce and a trans man who preferred to remain anonymous. The Pierces married in Connecticut last December, yet lived in Mississippi. They had considered moving to a place more accepting of their relationship, but decided to stay for the sake of their young daughter who is in school. The married couple had faced discrimination on a number of occasions. Jena Pierce told us that an employee at the DMV office loudly gathered her coworkers and told her she could not change the last name on her driver’s license because the state would not recognize her marriage. The DMV worker proceeded to publicly embarrass her, leaving her sobbing in her car.

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Jennifer and Jena Pierce are a married couple in Biloxi, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Jennifer Pierce had also experienced discrimination when trying to take a family leave day to take their daughter to the doctor’s office. Her workplace wouldn’t let her go because their daughter isn’t her biological daughter — even though the people making the decision had been guests at the Pierces’ wedding reception.

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A trans man on the Gulf Coast preferred to remain anonymous but spoke to the Blade about his experience as a trans man living on the Gulf Coast. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)


It was in the early evening when we pulled into the parking lot of Laps on the Causeway, a sprawling restaurant along a thin stretch of land in the middle of Mobile Bay. Michael and I battled a swarm of gnats to meet with Lane Galbraith on the outdoor deck of his favorite restaurant. The trans man who had founded LGBT Wave of Hope, a Mobile LGBT advocacy organization, told us of the pervasive closet of Alabama and the struggles of the LGBT people who live there.

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Lane Galbraith is the founder of LGBT Wave of Hope in Mobile, Ala. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Our final leg of the trip was something that I had been looking forward to for weeks. We drove to Montgomery, Ala. to visit the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). There was as much security at the SPLC as one would expect at the White House. After passing through many checkpoints, I wasn’t even allowed to take pictures inside the massive building. The SPLC’s precautions were well-founded however, as the watchdog organization had been targeted many times by hate groups resulting in fire bombings. We visited the Civil Rights Memorial and got background on the SPLC’s LGBT-specific cases. We met with SPLC lawyers David Dinielli and Sam Wolfe who specialize in LGBT issues.

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Southern Poverty Law Center Deputy Legal Director David Dinielli and lawyer Sam Wolfe met with the Washington Blade at the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

After meeting with the lawyers, we were granted a visit to the SPLC’s Civil Rights Museum. Upon seeing a display that related the horrifying death of a man in an anti-gay attack, my traveling companion started sobbing. I felt a strange confluence of emotions from the mental and emotional toll our trip had taken as well. After we left the museum, we walked in silence around Montgomery. Signs of the Confederacy were all around us, including the Confederate “White House” of Jefferson Davis.

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The circular Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala. lists martyrs to the cause of civil rights, with a blank spot left for people who came before and those who are yet to come. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

On the last day of our trip, Michael and I were both mentally exhausted, but we had one more important person to talk with. Kathie Heirs of AIDS Alabama met us in her offices in Birmingham to talk about the strides made in combatting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the state.

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Kathie Hiers is the CEO of AIDS Alabama. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Michael and I dropped off the rental car at the airport in Birmingham and had a silent drink together while waiting on our flight back to D.C. The many stories I had heard were swirling around in my head and I was too close to it then to make sense of it. I did know two things: I would never take living in a place like Washington for granted again and I would never again succumb to the comforting lie that our full equality had already been won nationwide. The people we had met in the South were amazing and courageous and had built a community in difficult circumstances. Most all of the people we had spoken with had a sense of pride of place and felt a duty to make their town or city a more welcoming home for the next generation of LGBT people.


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Another busy summer season arrives in Rehoboth Beach

Fine dining, drag shows, theater, and more on tap for 2023



Joe Ciarlante-Zuber (right) with his husband and business partner Darryl Ciarlante-Zuber have another busy summer of events planned at Diego’s. (Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

The summer of 2023 will be an exciting time in Rehoboth Beach, with lots to see and do as always. Great people, and of course the sand, sea, and boardwalk. Everyone in town has been working hard over the winter to make this the best season ever at the beach. New businesses, old ones moving to new locations, milestone anniversaries, and just loads of fun all around. 

While I am often just a burger and fries’ guy, Rehoboth has become a real foodie paradise for those who enjoy, and appreciate, really fine dining. (For more on the dining scene, see separate story in the Blade.)

The City of Rehoboth has fewer than 1,500 full-time residents. Many who have a Rehoboth address like me, live outside the city boundary. But at any time during the summer season, the population swells to more than 25,000. Among them are many members of the LGBTQ community. If you are one of them, stop by CAMP Rehoboth, the LGBTQ community center, founded by Murray Archibald and Steve Elkins in 1991. 

Today, many of the businesses in town are owned by members of the community and even those that aren’t are supportive of the community. The most famous residents of the area are President Biden and first lady Jill Biden, who try to spend some weekends at their home there. Not sure how much time they will have this summer between the duties of being president and running for reelection.  I do know when there, they love the famous chicken salad sandwiches, among other great things, from Lori Klein’s Lori’s Oy Veh Café in the CAMP courtyard. Lori’s is celebrating its 27th season. If you stop in the courtyard, you will be pleased to see new tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy your meal.

My favorite hangout on Baltimore Avenue, the gayest block in Rehoboth, is Aqua Grill. The perfect place to spend happy hour any day of the week. Chris, one of the hot and charming waiters, is back serving drinks on the deck. Then there is The Pines restaurant across the street with a great showroom upstairs and always fun entertainment. The guys who own it have expanded their operations with Drift on Baltimore and now taken over the old Philip Morton Gallery and turned it into their offices. They are also preparing to open Bodhi on 1st street. One of the great old standbys at the beach is The Purple Parrot Grill and Biergarten on Rehoboth Avenue. Owners Hugh Fuller and Troy Roberts make everyone feel welcome. The old girl has a bright new paint job this year and she’s better than ever with some great entertainment. 

Make sure you read the Blade’s column on food at the beach but here are just some of the places I passed on my walk around town on sidewalk sale weekend. There are Eden Restaurant, Azafran, and La Fable on the beach block of Baltimore Avenue. Then the always reliable standby the Blue Moon. In addition to some of the best food in town, the Moon has an extensive calendar of special events planned for summer, including the much anticipated return of talented NYC pianist Nate Buccieri beginning June 25. He plays Sunday-Thursday for most of the summer; check for specifics.

There is also Ava’s and Theo’s and Frank and Louie’s on the second block.The venerable Back Porch on Rehoboth Avenue has been serving some of Rehoboth’s finest food for decades, and, of course, Houston White further up the street if you’re craving a steak.Then there is Goolee’s Grill on 1st street and the new location of JAM on 2nd. Goolee’s is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a cocktail party on June 1, 5-9 p.m.; tickets are $15 and available online.

My favorite morning place, it has become my afternoon place as well, is the totally refurbished Coffee Mill in the mews between Rehoboth Avenue and Baltimore Avenue, just next to the wonderful Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue. Dewey Beach residents will soon have their own Coffee Mill in a beachfront location, 1700 Coastal Highway. It will have a great view of the beach and ocean from its rooftop deck. Mel and Bob are going to be busy this year with all their places including Brashhh on 1st street, now celebrating its 11th year, and The Mill Creamery serving Hopkins ice cream. Longtime Rehoboth business owner Steve Fallon, one of the best promoters of the beach I know, has the fun Gidget’s Gadgets on Rehoboth Avenue and his second place selling vinyl records, Extendedplay. Then there is Coho’s Market and Grill on Rehoboth Avenue. 

Back on the gayest block in Rehoboth, Baltimore Avenue, don’t forget to stop in and purchase some incredible one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, and now original art, at Elegant Slumming and then get your hair cut in The Grateful Head Salon.  

For more afternoon and evening entertainment there is the popular Diego’s Bar and Nightclub (37298 Rehoboth Avenue Ext.), a perfect spot for outdoor happy hours and late night dancing. Local legend Magnolia Applebottom holds court all summer with performances slated for the Thursday and Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Sunday’s show runs 6-9 p.m. followed by DJ Mags “with her boys” from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. In addition to Magnolia, Diego’s brings internationally known DJs to town during the summer. And the free parking is a nice bonus in a town with a chronic shortage of parking spaces. Diego’s has an exciting summer of special events planned, so follow them online for updates. Among the acts coming to Diego’s this summer are “Jaws the Musical” (June 18), Ada Vox (July 5), and Edmund Bagnell (July 17). 

Don’t miss the always fun Freddie’s Beach Bar on 1st street, where the amazing Freddie Lutz has brought his wonderful concept from Virginia to the beach. The beloved Pamala Stanley performs periodically at Freddie’s; follow her on social media for updated dates.

Remember Rehoboth still has some great culture even if the town commissioners have been trying to force it out of town. The amazing Clear Space Theatre is stillon Baltimore Avenue. This season’s productions include Lucy in the Sea with Darvon, Jesus Christ Superstar, Kinky Boots, and The Spongebob Musical

This will be a summer not to miss at the beach. Better make your plans to visit soon, if you haven’t already, because hotels and rentals are booking fast. 

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Pride season arrives!

LGBTQ community events planned across region



A scene from the 2022 Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pride season has already begun. Last month’s Roanoke Pride filled the Virginia city’s Elmwood Park with rainbow flags. Pride events begin in D.C. this month and continue through June. Regionally, some cities have opted to hold their Pride events as late as the fall. 


Organizers of Trans Pride D.C. ( plan a full day of workshops and events on Saturday, May 20 at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library (901 G Street, N.W.). These events are currently listed on Facebook and Eventbrite as running from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

The HIV/PrEP Programs at the Charles County Department of Health are hosting PrEP for Pride 2023 at 4545 Crain Highway in White Plains, Md. on Saturday May 20 from 12-7 p.m. 

The festival is free, though those who RSVP will be entered into a door prize drawing. PrEP for Pride’s Eventbrite page advertises a pride walk, a PrEP Mini Ball, music, art, health & wellness information, food options and other vendors.

Equality Prince William Pride ( will be held on Sunday, May 21 at the Harris Pavillion (9201 Center Street, Manassas, Va.) from 12-4 p.m., according to its Facebook events page.

The event is billed as a family-friendly event with music, vendors and kids activities. Performers include musician John Levengood, BRUU Band & Choir and the drag artists Coco Bottoms, Muffy Blake Stephyns and Ophelia Bottoms.

D.C. Black Pride ( events are held throughout the city May 26-29 primarily at the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel (999 9th Street, N.W.). 

Official events include a Unity Ball, a vendor expo, a talent showcase, forums, parties and the annual Pride Festival in the Park at Fort Dupont Park on May 29 from 12-7 p.m.

A scene from the Us Helping Us Black Pride Festival at Fort Dupont Park last May. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The third Caroline County Pride Festival ( “A Carnival Adventure” will be held in downtown Denton, Md. (301 Market Street) on Saturday, May 27 from 3-8 p.m. according to the group’s Facebook event page.


Last year’s Baltimore Trans Pride March was held on June 5, 2022. (Washington Blade file photo by Linus Berggren)

Baltimore Trans Pride ( kicks off the month at 2117 North Charles Street in Baltimore, Md. on Saturday, June 3, according to Baltimore Safe Haven’s Facebook event page.

The Baltimore Trans Pride 2023 Grand March is to be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday along North Charles Street between 22nd and 23rd. The Block Party continues at 3 p.m. with performances beginning at 4 p.m.

Afterparties are scheduled at The Crown (1901 North Charles Street) and Ottobar (2549 North Howard Street). Baltimore Safe Haven also hosts a kickoff ball on Friday, June 2 at 2640 Saint Paul Street at 6 p.m.

Annapolis Pride ( holds its annual parade and festival on Saturday, June 3 from 12-5 p.m. on Inner West Street in Annapolis, Md. according to the Facebook event page

Hundreds lined the streets of downtown Annapolis for the Annapolis Pride Parade. (Photo by Jaime Thompson courtesy Fleur de Lis Photography)

Reston Pride ( holds its annual festival at Lake Anne Plaza (1609 Washington Place) in Reston, Va. on Saturday, June 3 from 12-6 p.m., according to the Facebook event page.

Last year’s Reston Pride festival was held at Lake Anne Plaza. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Ellicott City, Md. holds OEC Pride ( on June 3-4 in Old Ellicott City. Events include a mascara run up and down Main Street and a movie presentation of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”. 

Suffolk, Va. holds its third annual Suffolk Pride Festival ( on Saturday, June 3 from 5-8 p.m. at Bennetts Creek Park (3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road, Suffolk, Va.), according to the Facebook event page.

Portsmouth Pride Fest ’23 ( is the second annual LGBTQ community celebration in Portsmouth, Va. The festival is to be held on Saturday, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Portsmouth Festival Field next to Atlantic Union Pavilion, according to the Facebook event page.

The Alexandria LGBTQ Task Force presents the sixth annual Alexandria Pride ( at Alexandria City Hall in Market Square of Old Town Alexandria, Va. (301 King Street) on Saturday, June 3 from 1-5 p.m.

Newport News, Va. has its first I Am What I Am (IAWIA) Pride Festival on Sunday, June 4 from 12-7 p.m. at Tradition Brewing Company (700 Thimble Shoals Boulevard, Newport News, Va.), according to the Facebook event page.

The 2023 Cumberland Pride Festival ( will be held at Canal Place (13 Canal Street, Columbia, Md.) Sunday, June 4 from 12-4 p.m., according to the Facebook event page.

The 2022 Cumberland Pride Festival was held at Canal Place in Cumberland, Md. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Culpepper County in rural Virginia will be getting its very first pride celebration with Culpepper Pride Festival ( on Sunday, June 4 from 12-5 p.m. at Mountain Run (10753 Mountain Run Lake Road, Culpepper, Va.). An after-hours 21+ drag show will be held.

Equality Loudoun’s “Across the Decades” 2023 Loudoun Pride Festival ( will be held on Sunday, June 4 from 1-7 p.m. at Claude Moore Park (21668 Heritage Farm Ln, Sterling, Va.). This is a ticketed event with a $5 general admission.

Last year’s Loudoun Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Delaware Pride ( is being celebrated as a festival on Saturday, June 10 at Legislative Hall (411 Legislative Avenue, Dover, Del.) from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. according to the Facebook page.

D.C.’s massive Capital Pride ( includes the 2023 Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 10 and the 2023 Capital Pride Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue on Sunday, June 11. On top of the many official events, there are a great number of parties in venues throughout the city over the week, including the not-to-be-missed Pride on the Pier and Fireworks Show, held 2-9 p.m. on Saturday, June 10 at the Wharf. There are two timed VIP sessions that include catered food and open bar. The region’s only Pride fireworks display, sponsored by the Leonard-Litz Foundation, takes place at 9 p.m. Visit for tickets and information.

Jerry Houston and Elizabethany of HOT 99.5 served as emcees of the 2022 Capital Pride Festival. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Third annual Pride in the ViBe, will be held at ViBe Park (1810 Cyprus Avenue, Virginia Beach, Va.) on Sunday, June 11 from 1-6 p.m., according to the Facebook event page.

Scenic Chesapeake, Va. is the backdrop for Pride in the ‘Peake 2023 at City Park Section B next to the basketball courts on Sunday, July 11, according to an posting.

Eastern Panhanlde Pride is to be held on Saturday, June 17 from 12-5 p.m. in downtown Martinsburg, W.Va., according to EPP’s Facebook page.

The Delmarva Pride Center presents DELAMRVA Pride ( with events from June 16-18. The DELMARVA Pride Festival is to be held on Saturday, June 17 along South Harrison Street in downtown Easton, Md. Other events include a drag show and a Sunday brunch, according to the Pride Center’s Facebook page.

The Ghent Business Association presents Ghent Pride “Party at the Palace Shops” on Tuesday, June 20 from 6-10 p.m. at The Palace Shops and Staton (301 West 21st Street, Norfolk, Va.), according to the Facebook event page. This is a ticketed event with general admission $13.

The Human Rights Commission of the City of Rockville holds the seventh annual Rockville Pride ( on Saturday, June 24 from 1-4 p.m. at Rockville Town Square (131 Gibbs Street, Rockville, Md.).

Arlington Pride ( holds events from June 23-25 that include a pageant, a brunch, a festival and an afterparty. The Arlington Pride Festival returns for its second year on June 24 from 12-7 p.m. at the Rosslyn Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway, Arlington, Va.), according to the Eventbrite listing.

Fredericksburg Pride ( holds events throughout the month, but everything culminates in the Pride March and then Festival on Saturday, June 24. The Pride March is held at Riverfront Park (705 Sophia Street, Fredericksburg, Va.) at 10 followed by the Festival at 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Old Mill Park (2201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, Va.).

The 10th anniversary Frederick Pride ( is to be held at Carroll Creek Linear Park on Saturday, June 24 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. with food, music, drag, vendors and more, according to the Facebook event page.

Chasity Vain performed at last year’s Frederick Pride. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Salisbury Pride ( Parade and Festival is on Saturday, June 24. The Parade begins at 2 p.m. at West Main Street and Camden Street. The parade moves along Main with the festival following the parade at 2:30. Magnolia Applebottom is the headliner and grand marshall, according to Salisbury Pride’s Facebook page.

The “Break Free 23” Hampton Roads Pride ( is set for Saturday, June 24 at Town Point Park (113 Waterside Drive, Norfolk, Va.) and includes the famous boat parade.

The Pride Center of Maryland hosts a number of Baltimore Pride ( events June 19-25. The big events include the annual parade and block party on Charles Street on Saturday, June 24 and the festival at Druid Hill Park on Sunday.

The 2022 Baltimore Pride Parade was held on June 25. (Washington Blade photo by Linus Berggren)

July and beyond

You can look forward to LGBTQ pride celebrations in Harrisburg, Pa. and the Maryland towns of Hagerstown and Westminster as well as Black Pride RVA in Richmond, Va. in July. Other municipalities have decided to hold their pride celebrations a little later in the year. These pride events include Winchester Pride in Winchester, Va. (Sept. 9), Shenandoah Valley Pride in Harrisonburg, Va. (Sept. 16), SWVA Pridefest in Vinton, Va. (Sept. 16), Virginia Pridefest in Richmond, Va. (Sept. 23), TriPride in Johnson City, Tenn. (Sept. 23), Staunton Pride in Staunton, Va. (Oct. 7), Upper Chesapeake Bay Pride in Harve de Grace, Md. (Oct. 7), Pride Franklin County in Chambersburg, Pa. (Oct. 8) and Laurel Pride in Laurel, Md. (Oct. 14).

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Self-identification: What the plus in ‘LGBTQ+’ means

Terminology rapidly expanding into mainstream dialogue



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

For a long time, many Americans refrained from talking about sexual orientation and gender identity because it was taboo. While these conversations are still uncomfortable for some people, others stay quiet simply because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. 

Among allies, there is fear that misgendering someone or misspeaking about another person’s sexuality will be viewed as being less inclusive. Meanwhile, older generations, even those within the LGBTQ+ community, also struggle to keep up as terms beyond “LGBTQ” rapidly enter mainstream lingo.

In either scenario, the plus in “LGBTQ+” can be misunderstood. But as awareness of these terms continues to rise, it’s important to know what they mean. 

Below are some of the most popular but misunderstood terms of self-identification, compiling gender identities (one’s concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither and what they call themselves) and sexual orientation (how one identifies in terms of whom they are romantically and/or sexually attracted to). 

Asexual refers to someone who lacks a sexual attraction or interest in sexual activities with others. Often called “ace(s)” for short, asexual individuals exist on a spectrum, wherein someone can be completely or partially asexual, meaning they may experience no, little, or conditional sexual attraction to another person. Little interest in sex, however, doesn’t diminish a person’s desire for emotionally intimate relationships. 

Cisgender, or simply “cis,” describes a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth. The terms cisgender and transgender originate from Latin-derived prefixes of “cis,” meaning “on this side of,” and “trans,” meaning “across from.” Just as “trans” can be added to terms describing gender to identify someone as a trans-woman or trans-man, the same can be done to say cis-woman or cis-man to identify someone as adhering to the sex associated with their gender at birth.

Meanwhile, gender non-conforming refers to someone who doesn’t behave in line with the traditional expectations of their gender. These individuals may express their gender in ways that aren’t easily categorizable as a specific gender. While many gender non-conforming people also identify as transgender, that isn’t the case for all gender non-conforming people.

Under the larger umbrella of gender non-conforming identity, non-binary describes a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Non-binary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or completely outside of those labels. 

Some non-binary people identify as transgender, but non-binary also references other identities such as agender (a person who does not identify as any gender), bigender (a person with two gender identities or a combination of two gender identities), genderqueer or gender-fluid.

Genderqueer people commonly reject notions of rigid categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and sometimes sexual orientation. People with this identity may see themselves as being both male and female, or neither as they fall outside of binary gender norms. Gender-fluid is also within this range of non-conformity as these individuals don’t identify with a single fixed gender.

In terms of sexuality, pansexual refers to someone with the potential for emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to people of any gender. These feelings don’t necessarily arise simultaneously or to the same degree, and sometimes the term is used interchangeably with bisexual.

More recently, the two-spirit gender identity has enjoyed more mainstream use. Chosen to describe certain North American Indigenous and Canadian First Nation people who identify with a third gender, the term implies a masculine and feminine spirit in one body. 

Other gender expressions such as masc, referring to representations of masculinity without necessarily claiming a relationship to manhood, and femme, meaning expressions of femininity regardless of gender and relations to womanhood, are also used to describe how people dynamically express gender outside of gender norms.

Yet, just as terminology for self-identification is introduced, so are also new ways to describe how an individual feels about their identity. One term that everyone can relate to or aspire to have is gender euphoria – the joyful experience and sense of self that occurs when a person’s authentic gender is expressed and acknowledged by themselves and/or by others.

Most importantly, though, LGBTQ+ people use a variety of terms to identify themselves, some of which may not be mentioned in this article. Always listen for a person’s self-identification to use the preferred terms for them. 

(The Human Rights Campaign and Johns Hopkins University contributed to this report.)

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