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Best of Gay D.C. XIII: People

Winners from the Blade’s readers poll



To see the winners of the Washington Blade’s Best of Gay D.C. readers poll in other categories, click here.

Best Singer or Band

Frankie & Betty

Runner-up: Wicked Jezabel

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Frankie and Betty (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Frankie & Betty are a queer acoustic rock duo comprised of Rachel Bauchman (vocals/bass/guitar) and Jessie Strick (lead guitar). Since forming in 2011, they’ve played numerous events, including Roanoke Pride, Phasefest several times and more. They have shows planned at Tree house Lounge on Monday night and the Rock and Roll Hotel on Thursday. Look them up on Facebook to stay current. (JD)

Local Heroine

Ruby Corado

Runner-up: Ashliana Rowe

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Ruby Corado (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Long-time LGBT advocate Ruby Corado is the visionary behind Casa Ruby, a local bilingual, multicultural LGBT organization that works to create “success life stories” among LGBT, gender queer and gender non-conforming residents in need. The recently wed Corado is a former Capital Pride Hero and has received many accolades for her work. (JD)

Casa Ruby

2822 Georgia Ave., N.W.


Local Hero

Sgt. Matthew Mahl

Runner-up: Ed Bailey

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Sgt. Matt Mahl (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who oversees six officers as part of the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit of the D.C. Metro Police Department, says it’s “been a good year.”

“I don’t want to say crime is up, but we have been busier,” the 35-year-old Havana, Ohio, native says. “We have our hands in a lot of stuff.”

Mahl, a cop for 15 years and in Washington since 2001, joined the MPD in 2004 and the GLLU in 2012, having spent his entire previous career on patrol duty. He was forced out on the job during a 2007 incident in which his locker was vandalized but says that’s the only bad experience he’s ever had on the force.

Although initially hesitant to join the GLLU, he says overall it’s been a great experience and he enjoys helping his fellow officers learn “the sensitivities and needs of the LGBT community.” (JD)

Best Drag King

Avery Austin

Runner-up: Sebastian Katz

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Avery Austin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Anna Wimpelberg works by day as an HIV researcher at Whitman-Walker Health but her drag alter ego Avery Austin was born about 11 years ago when the 36-year-old New Orleans native and lesbian saw a drag show in Boston, her then-home.

A veteran of various high school and college theater productions, she says she recognized “immediately that it was something I would love to do.” She continued during an eight-year stint in Austin, Texas, and joined the D.C. Kings when she came to Washington about three years ago. She calls herself  “the theater nerd of the group” and guesses she performs with them at Phase 1 and occasional other venues about four or five times per year, often recreating songs she’s seen on “Glee!”

Find more information on the Kings at (JD)

Best Realtor

Mark Rutstein

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Mark Rutstein (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

1606 17th St. N.W.


Runner-up: Ray Gernhart


Best DJ

DJ Rosie

Runner-up: Shea Van Horn

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DJ Rosie (Washington Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

DJ Rosie Hicks has been spinning for about 13 years and spins regularly at the Hippo in her hometown Baltimore and also at LURe at Cobalt, Phase 1 and other area events in addition to a day job teaching special education.

Known for a mix of hip-hop, R&B, pop and more, she says she just all-around loves music. She also won this award in 2012.

“I love making people happy out there,” the Baltimore native says. “The whole point of coming out to a bar or club to hear a DJ is to let go of worries and cares and enjoy it.”

Look her up on Facebook to stay current with her events. (JD)

Best Drag Queen


Runner-up: Heidi Glum

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Ba’Naka (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A flip-flop of last year’s results when Glum won, Ba’Naka (Dustin Michael Schaad) is on top again this year adding to her 2012, 2011 and 2010 prizes (a Blade record) in this category.

Ba’Naka, who now does drag full-time and has positioned herself as the go-to gal for everything from hosting local Family Feud nights to getting you ready (for a fee of course!) for Miss Adams Morgan two weeks ago, she is widely known in the community for her outspoken Facebook comments, elaborate Disney routines (her Ursula is legendary) and consistent A-game delivery. And although it hasn’t happened yet, she’s our best local hope for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” (JD)

Hottest Stripper or Go-go Dancer

Steve Pena

Runner-up: Christian Lezzil

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Steve Pena (Photo courtesy Steve Pena)

Steve Pena got into dancing through his husband, Brent Everett, with whom he also runs a popular porn site ( He’s nonchalant about the work, which he does every Friday night at Town when he’s in Washington and monthly at Latin Night at Cobalt.

“It’s a way to have fun, stay in touch with friends and fans and meet future models for our website,” the San Diego-born, Texas-reared Pena says.

In the region for about a year and a half, Pena, in an e-mail from Amsterdam where he’s traveling, says he appreciates the support.

“I have the best and most loyal friends, fans and followers out there.” (JD)


Best Burlesque Dancer

Private Tails

Runner-up: Glam Gamz

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Private Tails (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Private Tails (aka Ashliana Rowe) has been performing burlesque since 2005 and has drawn influence from classic burlesque, hip-hop, Broadway and more for what she calls “the art of the tease.”

As producer of Private Tease Productions, a monthly variety show she uses as an outlet for young performers she mentors, she says she “enjoys the creative process of developing new numbers and looks forward to the opportunity to whip up a fresh new performance.”

Although she has several titles under her belt, this is a new category for Best Of and she’s the inaugural winner.

Her next performance is at Phase 1 on Halloween. Keep up with her on Facebook or at (JD)

Best Business Person

DC Allen

Runner Up: Ray Gernhart

DC Allen, Crew Club, gay news, Washington Blade

DC Allen (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Businessman DC Allen has been credited with setting the pace for local gay-owned businesses to support the broader LGBT community.

Allen along with his husband Ken Flick owns the Crew Club, a D.C. health club and sauna that caters to gay men.

Last year Allen, 58, presented the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community with a $25,000 check to help the Center pay for renovation costs for its new space in the city’s Reeves Center municipal building at 14th and U streets, N.W.

“We decided it was important for the center to be there for all of us in the community,” Allen says.

Since opening the Crew Club at 1321 14th St., N.W., in the early 1990s, Allen has supported a number of local LGBT organizations and causes, including the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which presented Allen with its Distinguished Service Award in 1998.

Under Allen’s direction, the Crew Club has also supported Whitman-Walker Health and Us Helping Us, two local community health organizations that provide services to the LGBT community, including AIDS education and prevention services.

In addition to providing financial support for the two groups, Allen has arranged for staff members of the groups to provide HIV testing on the Crew Club’s premises. The Crew Club also serves as a major distribution point for HIV prevention literature and free condoms.

The Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce recently named Allen Business Leader of the Year. (LC)

Best Massage

Che Young

Runner-up: Eddie Weingart

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Che Young (Photo by Chris Jay Photography)

Relax the stress away with a massage by Che Young. Young provides deep tissue, Swedish, clinical and massage therapy. The Alexandra-based pro can be reached at 703-627-9090 or visit (MC)


Best Visual Artist

Denis Largeron

Denis Largeron (Photo by Denis Largeron)

Denis Largeron (Photo by Denis Largeron)

1621 T St., N.W., Apt. 201


Runner-up: Amy Martin

Best Personal Trainer

Gerard Burley

Runner-up: Bucky Mitchell

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Gerard Burley (Photo by Scott Henrichsen)

Gerard Burley shares fitness tips via his biweekly column in the Blade. He also makes appearances on Fox 5 and is known for his SweatDC fitness party. Find him via Facebook for regular updates and inspirational fitness-related posts.

(Editor’s note: Bucky Mitchell also writes a biweekly column in the Blade.)

Best TV Personality

Chuck Bell, NBC4

Runner-up: Wendy Rieger

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Chuck Bell (Washington Blade photo by Jonathan Ellis)

Best Actor

Mickey Daniel DaGuiso

Runner-up: Will Gartshore

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Mickey Daguiso, center (Photo courtesy The Landless Theatre Company)

Mickey Daniel DaGuiso grew up in the D.C. suburbs. He attended Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, mostly for the music program, and graduated from the University of Virginia where he majored in anthropology and philosophy.

Throughout school, he was involved in band (saxophone, piano) and chorus. It wasn’t until after college that DaGuiso started doing musicals. “It began as sort of a whim,” he says, “and then I was instantly hooked.”

Among the local companies where he’s worked, his favorites are Keegan Theatre (“Man of La Mancha” and “Rent”) and Landless Theatre where he played Kebab in “Perez Hilton Saves the Universe” and the lead in “Spidermusical,” a spoof of Broadway’s “Spiderman,” and many other roles. He has also served as musical director and accompanist for assorted Landless productions.

“Keegan is such a friendly, supportive community yet the creativity and work involved is just superior. Landless is the most enjoyable both on stage and backstage, efficient and creative with time and space, with vision and little ego.”

Currently DaGuiso is taking a year away from theater to travel the world. (He responded to these interview questions via email from India where he’s embarking on a six-month walkabout.) While traveling he’s trying his hand at playwriting.

“I’m keeping it very open-ended so just reading a lot, taking down inspiration whenever it comes and doing a daily writing practice. I do plan on continuing with acting in D.C. when I get back. But who knows what the future holds? I’m like the wind.” (PF)

Best Actress

MaryBeth Wise

Runner-up: Holly Twyford

people, gay news, Washington Blade

MaryBeth Wise in ‘How to Write a New Book for the Bible.’ (Photo by Danisha Crosby)

MaryBeth Wise likens acting to a never-ending education. Currently she’s taking a class for experienced actors at Studio Theatre.

“I feel that it’s a good way to flex my muscles when I’m not working,” she says. “And I get to do scenes that I’ve always wanted to do by my favorite playwrights like Pinter, Beckett and Chekhov.

Wise advises young actors to see as much theater as possible. “The more you absorb, the better off you’ll be. The more you’ll have available in experience and imagination. After all, what else do we have?”

Typically cast as women of substance, Wise’s more memorable roles include Anne Sullivan in Olney Theatre’s “The Miracle Worker,” a New York psychiatrist in Studio Theatre’s “Frozen,” a newly out lesbian in “Body Awareness” at Theater J, and most recently the stalwart wife and mother married to Mitchell Hébert in Round House’s “How to Write a New Book for the Bible,” a part that called for her to age from 40 to 80 on a dime.

Offstage, Wise’s partner is local actor Sarah Marshall. The talented pair got to know each other while working on Woolly Mammoth’s production of Paula Vogel’s “The Mineola Twins” in 2003. “It was a great time,” Wise says. “And the show was a lot fun. I played a man in the first act and a woman in the second.”

Wise grew up in Miami. She started acting while an undergraduate at Barry University. Initially she came to Washington to attend Catholic University where she earned a master’s in acting.

“The D.C. theater scene is one of the best in the country,” Wise says. “We have a variety of theaters doing interesting, cutting-edge work. Our audiences can handle thought-provoking theater. And the actors are supportive. It’s great.” (PF)

Best Hill Staffer

Kat Skiles

Runner-up: Kenneth Dowling

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Kat Skiles (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As Hill staffers go, Kat Skiles has moved to the top. In July, she became digital director and senior adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). It’s the Utah native’s second consecutive year winning this award. (CJ)

Best Straight Ally

Leigh Ann Hendricks

Runner-up: Brett Johnson

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Leigh Ann Hendricks (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Leigh Ann Hendricks made a big change five years ago to manage Level One (in the basement of Cobalt) after 17 years just down the street at Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse.

Managing a staff of about 35 — 90-95 percent of whom, she estimates, are LGBT — she says was a logical change and one she made with no hard feelings toward Annie’s. Having grown up with a gay best friend, she says it simply never occurred to her to treat gay people any differently. She was also inspired by the example of Annie’s namesake, the late Annie Kaylor, whom she worked with for years.

“She was like our second mother,” Hendricks says. “Her attitude was, ‘They either like my gay friends or they don’t like me,’ and that’s been mine as well.” (JD)

Level One

1639 R St. N.W.


Best Bartender

Dusty Martinez (Town Patio/Number 9)

Runner-up: Angela Lombardi (Phase 1)

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Dusty Martinez (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Baltimore native Dusty Martinez has been in the food and beverage industry for a decade and recently completed an in-house internship at the W Hotel. He recently moved from serving customers at Number 9 to operating the new Town Patio, and he is also the owner and director of D&D Cocktails, a private bartending company serving the D.C. area.

Dusty Martinez


Best Rehoboth Bartender

Holly Lane, Café Azafran

Runner-up: Matt Urban, Blue Moon

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Holly Lane (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Naff)

Holly Lane has lived in more places than most people have visited: Martinique, Greece, Bahamas, Paris, Chicago, Switzerland, the list goes on.

She’s a native Washingtonian who trained in dance at the Washington School of Ballet and later at a modern dance school in Bethesda. After school — and a stint in Chicago with her then-husband — Lane’s travels began in earnest. She left her husband and moved to the Bahamas at age 23 to dance at the Paradise Island resort. A Club Med gig led to more travel and finally a trip to Paris, where she auditioned for a dancing job and stayed for 15 years.

“It was nice to have a place to decorate,” says Lane, sipping a coffee on an unseasonably warm October day in Rehoboth Beach, Del. “I rented a furnished apartment and gradually replaced everything with my own finds at the Paris flea markets.”

After years of working as a professional dancer, it was in Paris at age 30 that Lane discovered she could also sing. She landed a job in a musical production and then at the Hollywood Savoy in the ‘80s, where the wait staff also served as the entertainment, singing and dancing for customers during dinner.

“It was a great place to learn,” she says.

Despite the excitement and adventure of living and working abroad, Lane said a voice kept telling her it was time to go home and so in 1995, she returned to D.C.

“I’m glad I did all the things I did when I did them,” she says. “I just found my passport and realized I haven’t been abroad since 2007.”

After the death of a boyfriend, Lane went to visit her parents at their home in Rehoboth Beach, which they’ve owned since 1977 and stayed. She’s lived full time in the popular beach resort town since 2000 and spent about 10 years in a jazz band performing around the state. Her parents, now 93, still live there. Lane says her father sold the family home in D.C. through a real estate ad in the Washington Blade a few years ago and relocated full-time to Rehoboth.

In summer of 2010, the owner of Café Azafran was opening a new location in Rehoboth and offered Lane a bartending job. She’s worked there since. You can find her tending bar Thursday-Sunday evenings but Thursday is the night when she’s joined by fellow Rehoboth entertainer John Flynn, who plays the keyboard while Lane sings into her wireless headset while making drinks.

“I enjoy multi-tasking,” she says.

Café Azafran attracts a mixed crowd and Lane treats customers like they are guests in her home rather than patrons at a bar. She always finds room at the large granite bar for another stool and makes sure to introduce newcomers to the rest of the crowd.

Lane, 62, is “happily single” and lives with her dog JuJuBee, a “cheagle,” a Chihuahua and Beagle mix. In addition to her duties at Azafran, Lane sings at private parties and functions. (KN)

Café Azafran

18 Baltimore Ave.


Most Committed Activist

David Mariner

Runner-up: Josh Deese

people, gay news, Washington Blade

David Mariner (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In Washington since 1997, David Mariner, a Corning, N.Y., native, started volunteering at the DC Center in 2008 and became its first full-time executive director a year later.

Under his leadership, the once-fledgling Center has begun to flourish and now has a broad activity schedule and is a hub for LGBT-themed events such as the OutWrite LGBT Book Festival, Reel Affirmations and much more.

“Working at the DC LGBT Center has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Mariner says. “I am so proud of the work we do in the community and am profoundly grateful to the staff and the many volunteers and supporters who make this work possible.” (JD)

The DC Center

2000 14th St., N.W. No. 105


Best Gay Politician

David Catania

David Catania, gay news, Washington Blade

David Catania (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Runner-up: Tammy Baldwin

Best Trans Advocate

Thomas Coughlin (see Queery)

Runner-up: Ruby Corado

Thomas Coughlin, gay news, Washington Blade

Thomas Coughlin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Amateur Athlete

Matt Simeon

Runner-up: Eddie Valentine

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Matt Simeon (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Matt Simeon, who currently plays for the Washington Generals, has been a member of the D.C. Gay Flag Football League since 2010. Simeon was also named most valuable player of the league for the 2014 spring season. (MC)

Best Stylist

Michael Hodges

Runner-up: Barry Smythers

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Hodges (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Michael Hodges has been sharpening his techniques in the Washington area for 25 years and is the owner and master Stylist of Logan 14. With a keen eye for current trends in men’s hair cuts and women’s styling, Michael and his team are making a powerful impact in the Logan Circle area. (SMH)

Michael Hodges

1314 B 14th St., N.W


Best Clergy

Rev. David Lett

David Lett, Lena Lett, gay news, Washington Blade

Rev. David Lett (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

This is Father Lett’s second consecutive win in this category. He also won the best drag queen prize as Lena Lett in 2001 and 2002. (JD)

Runner-up: Rev. Kirsten Blom-Westbrook

Best Republican Advocate

Ted Olson

David Boies, Ted Olson, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Ted Olson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Runner-up: Sen. Susan Collins

Best First Responder

Justin Markiewicz

Runner-up: Kate Fitzgerald

Justin Markiewicz (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Justin Markiewicz (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Officer Justin Markiewicz has been serving as a part-time member of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit since 2010. Markiewicz hails from Delaware and came to the District to attend Catholic University. After graduation he attended the police academy and was assigned to the 6th District. (MC)

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‘Hadestown’ comes to the Kennedy Center

Levi Kreis discusses return to live theater



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)

Through Oct. 31
The Kennedy Center
$45.00 – $175.00
For Covid-19 safety regulations go to

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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Book details fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Clinton-era policy was horrific for LGB servicemembers



‘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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Arts & Entertainment

NSYNC star Lance Bass & husband Michael Turchin welcome twins

Singer, husband, and popular West Hollywood nightclub owner, now adds the job of ‘Dad’ to his resume



Lance Bass and Michael Turchin via Instagram

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Former boy-band NSYNC star and co-owner of the popular LGBTQ+ nightspot Rocco’s, Lance Bass, announced that he and husband Michael Turchin are the proud parents of twins, Violet Betty and Alexander James.

In his announcement on Instagram, Bass wrote; ‘The baby dragons have arrived!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ I can not express how much love I feel right now. Thank you for all the kind wishes. It meant a lot. Now, how do you change a diaper??! Ahhhhhhhh!”

The babies were carried via surrogate, the singer noted saying that Alexander, born one minute before his sister on Wednesday, weighed 4 lbs., 14 oz. Violet weighed 4 lbs., 11 oz. Bass said in his Instagram post.

His husband also announced the news on his Instagram account. “Introducing the newest members of the Turchin-Bass household: Violet Betty and Alexander James!!!! They’re pure perfection and yes that includes the dozens of poops we’ve already dealt with. Our hearts our full!!! Thank you everyone for the well wishes 🥰🥰🥰”

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