Marvin Bowser worked hard to help his sister become Washington’s next mayor. After it became clear Muriel Bowser had successfully fended off David Catania and Carol Schwartz last week, Bowser says it was “pretty incredible.”
“It was really exhilarating and a relief at the same time,” the 53-year-old Washington native says. “We ran a good campaign … and we immediately started transition. You work hard, you got it, now it’s time to run with it and that’s what we’re doing.”
Marvin and Muriel are two of five siblings. She’s the youngest; he’s in the middle. He’s worked as a systems engineer with Mission Systems, a defense contractor, for about 15 years.
Except for a four-year stint in the 1980s in Germany, Bowser has lived his entire life in Washington. He and partner Mike Yates have been together for 10 years.
Bowser lives in Hillcrest and enjoys rowing, gardening, his koi pond and making stained glass in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out for 34 years. The hardest person to tell? Me. It was hardest to admit it to myself. It wasn’t in my plan. I discovered strength from resolving my internal conflict and went on with my life revising my plan accordingly.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Bayard Rustin. Openly gay, black civil rights leader who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Back in my coming out days, the Frat House, more recently known as Omega.
Describe your dream wedding.
Intimate. Family and friends.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
A path to the middle class for the less fortunate in our city. We have a lot of work to do to address education, affordable housing and homelessness issues.
What historical outcome would you change?
The American people should have been told the truth about Iraq before invading it. To remove a dictator, replace him with a stable government and grow the economy requires a 50-year stay. Consider Japan and Germany after WWII. Shock and awe alone does not bring about stability.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Beyonce concluded her “I Am… World Tour” in Trinidad. We were in Trinidad for Carnival. They built an incredible stage and outdoor venue on the Queen’s Park Savannah two blocks from our hotel. That night, an international crowd of thousands enjoyed an incredible concert under the stars. It was memorable to see so many people relate to Beyonce who is truly an international star.
On what do you insist?
Meeting my obligations. Also respect, honesty, trust, loyalty, selflessness and a strong sense of community.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Thanks for the hundreds who attended the Mayor-elect Bowser Transition Office Ribbon Cutting on November 10th. The Transition process is up and running. Thanks to the Gray Administration for its full support. — with Muriel Bowser at One Judiciary Square.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Did I Say That Out Loud?”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. I wouldn’t change who I am.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
God and the afterlife.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Let’s make building coalitions with white, black, Asian, Native American and Latino LGBTA organizations a priority. There’s strength in numbers.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That gay guys don’t know how to use power tools or fix things around the house.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Paris is Burning”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I can’t think of one that is overrated. The most ignored social custom is RSVP. People just don’t do it anymore, but will show up at events hungry and thirsty.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
An Olympic medal. I came close this August by winning a silver medal at the Gay Games in rowing at a young 53 years old!
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I’d known more about real estate and real estate financing.
I was born here. Both my mother and father’s families are here. I have traveled extensively and have lived abroad. No matter how good a time I’ve had traveling, I am always excited to return home.