Connect with us

a&e features

GIFT GUIDE 4: For the gay who has everything

Unique gift ideas from spirits to onesies to doormats



gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade
gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

What do you get for a gay loved one who has everything? Take your pick from these ideas, perfect for LGBT foodies, techies, explorers and more.

Zooop Adult Onesies

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

Dress the part of a casual-cum-comfortable loafer with fleece jumpsuits from Zooop, hooded, footless adult onesies that feature two side-zipped pockets and a front zipper that spans from head to crotch. A cross between your favorite pair of sweats and the iconic union suit (sadly without the butt flap), these onesies come in an array of fun styles, including American Flag, licensed collegiate teams, and a clever “Hangover Tux.” $169-$249;


Yellow Leaf Hammocks

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

It’s never too early to start thinking spring, and a gift from Yellow Leaf Hammock has relaxation written all over it. Not literally of course, but you can show your true colors with the rainbow-colored, hand-woven hammock that’s sure to bring all the boys to the yard. Gift includes the ‘Hammocking 101 Guide for Easy Hanging’ and a signature tote. $179;


The Bacon Jams

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

If there’s a little piggy on your list this year, surprise him with the Bacon Jams spreadable bacon three-pack sampler, which includes All Original, Black Pepper and Red Chile & Garlic flavors. These sweet-and-savory condiments are a fantastic finishing touch to dishes like seared scallops and baked chicken, or create complete appetizers like the Bacon Jam Gorgonzola Flatbread, the recipe for which arrives with the gift. $39.99;


Tom of Finland Cologne

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

Based on the Finnish artist renowned for his stylized homoerotic fetish art and the indelible mark he left on late 20th-century gay culture, Tom of Finland Etat Libre d’Orange (a fancy phrase for cologne) layers masculine notes like pine, pepper and cypress between more predominant notes of lemon, suede and musk. A fragrance that transcends sexuality while serving as an ode to the male body, it swings more our way than the other. $90;


MSC Skin Care + Home Gift Set

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

Well-groomed gentlemen will enjoy the soul-soothing gift sets from MSC Skin Care + Home, which include an all-natural hand-cut artisan soap, soy candle in a reusable glass jar, and a fragrant reed diffuser to spread the holiday cheer all over the house. Available in several sophisticated scents — like spicy Orange, Clove and Cinnamon; seasonal Rosemary and Spearmint; and the warm-and-cozy Bourbon Vanilla and Oak (which also happens to be an award winner) — each and every MSC product is made by hand in Brooklyn, New York. $68;


In Blue Handmade Leather Goods

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

Niche men’s accessories are sort of having a moment, and In Blue Handmade is at the forefront of the movement. This #1 handmade leather-goods company on Etsy specializes in stylish travel journals, wallets, belts, flask covers, guitar straps, tote bags and other accessories — and each and every piece is made by 30-year-old Lynn Schroeder, In Blue Handmade’s founder. These 100 percent cowhide products are great as stand-alone gifts while others are ideal as stocking stuffers. $14-$45;


Viking Kitchenware

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

The everyday Bobby Flay in your life will appreciate Viking’s new line of professional cookware, cutlery and bakeware, which is 100 percent manufactured in the United States. From stainless steel cookware with a unique multi-ply construction to bakeware coated with a ceramic finish to contemporary cutlery handcrafted from German steel, this trio of culinary staples has the potential to help turn the diner-dining experience you’re used to into five-star cuisine fit for a Nordic king.


Fantastic Fitted Tees


Skip N’ Whistle has an expansive selection of tees ($24.50) featuring statement icons or phrases along with a bevy of other products like messenger bags and ugly Christmas sweaters. Beardsome has based its business on a signature style of T-shirt ($25) that features the faceless silhouettes of famous dudes’ beards — and they’re pretty rad.;




Cut the cable this Christmas with YouBeam, a WiFi-connected device that allows users to plug into their TV and beam free Internet content directly to the set via the YouBeam video browser. Users can surf the Web just like any other browser
or type what they’re looking for into the YouBeam search bar. When a user
finds the video they want (and as long as it’s compatible; that may or may not include those dirty videos you like, by the way), the “Beam” button changes from red to green. Press the button and the video starts automatically. Ain’t the future grand? $49.95 + $3.99 monthly subscription;


Chakra Necklace Rainbow

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

Show off your pride and your sense of style with the Chakra Necklace Rainbow, a mix of colored stones wire-wrapped to create a free-form dangle charm necklace. Handmade and featuring a sterling silver or 14K gold-filled 18.5-inch chain, this fun accessory is available in a spectrum of gemstones or chakras, depending on your partner’s preference. Items can be gift boxed upon request. $54;


Droll Doormats

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

Your Millennial friends will marvel at the witty doormats from Reed Wilson Design that feature urban slang like “Sup,” “Howdy” and “Holla.” Inscribed in flock lettering on a coconut-fiber feet wiper, these spontaneous and upbeat greetings are suitable for indoor and outdoor areas. $50;




Justin Wines

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

Cozy up and warm your cockles with Justin Vineyard and Winery’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, a medium-bodied red flush with notes of dark fruit, black cherry, and vanilla. Serve with grilled meats for a complementary pairing, or savor it by itself with someone special. $25;


Partida Tequila

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

Partida Tequila — available in Blanco, Anejo, Extra Anejo, and Reposado — is the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season. Turn up the maracas at your shindig with compact 375mL bottles (available in Partida Blanco) to make a signature cocktail that drinks like a dessert.


Domain Chandon, Blanc de Noirs Limited Edition 2014

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

You’ll be the party star when you show up with this shiny bottle of bubbly that features a festive message on each bottle. Fruit-driven and full flavored, this sparkling wine features a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and follows in the footsteps of Chandon’s wildly popular “American Summer” limited-edition release. $17.95;


Glassful Wine Subscription

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

His glass will never be half empty with Glassful, a curated monthly wine subscription and personalized online wine shop. Each month, recipients receive surprise selections handpicked by a team of wine experts with a focus on organic, natural and biodynamic vinos. Oenophiles also can rate the wines online to facilitate an even more personal experience. $35-$100/month;


JP Chenet Ice Edition

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

Ice is back with a brand new edition! JP Chenet, the best-selling French wine in the world, bring its effervescence to America with a well-balance sparkling wine that’s jolly enough for jingle-bell time. $20;


J.R. Ewing Bourbon

gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade

J.R. lives on with this premium-quality Kentucky bourbon named after everybody’s favorite oil magnate/love-to-hate-him villain, “Dallas’s” J.R. Ewing. This well-balanced but complex and slightly sweet spirit features notes of vanilla, oak, and orange, with just enough kick to let everybody know who’s boss ’round these parts. $31.99;


Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and blogger whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He lives in Manhattan with his husband. Connect with him on Twitter @mikeyrox.


a&e features

Taste of Pride celebrates LGBTQ and allied restaurants

Weeklong event will feature local eateries and bars



Kareem Queeman, known as Mr. Bake, will headline the opening event for Taste of Pride.

Get ready to celebrate LGBTQ-owned, managed, and allied restaurants at Taste of Pride from Oct. 2-8. 

The weeklong event is a new initiative by Capital Pride Alliance. In 2021, the organization put on a single-day brunch event in June at LGBTQ and allied restaurants, but this is the first weeklong iteration. 

About 15 local restaurants and bars are set to participate, including As You Are, Shaw’s Tavern, Jane Jane, and Code Red. There’s also an opening party on Monday, Oct. 2 featuring food and drink vendors without a traditional brick-and-mortar space, like Suga Chef and Vegan Junk Food. 

Taste of Pride will raise funds for the Pride365 fund, which supports local LGBTQ organizations. There will be a three-course prix fixe menu at several of the participating locations, with lunch and brunch menus offered at $30, and dinner menus offered at $40 or $55. 

Kareem Queeman, known as Mr. Bake, will be headlining the opening event on the evening of Oct. 2 at Lost Generation Brewery. Queeman, the founder and owner of the renowned bakery Mr. Bake Sweets and a James Beard Award semi-finalist, said he’s excited to spotlight LGBTQ chefs and mixologists. 

Queeman said he’s proud to be a part of bringing queer culinary experts together to celebrate the work they’ve all done and discuss what changes need to come to the industry — there will be a panel discussion on Oct. 2 covering those topics. LGBTQ chefs have long gone unnoticed, he said, despite the innovative work they’ve done. 

“Queers have been in the industry doing the work for a very long time and we just haven’t really gotten that acknowledgment,” Queeman said. 

Providing this space for LGBTQ people in the restaurant industry is paramount to giving a sense of power and ownership in the work they do, Queeman said. He wishes there was this kind of space for him when he was coming up as a chef when he was younger. 

Taste of Pride is also a great opportunity for LGBTQ people looking to get into the industry to find safe spaces to work that are run by queer people, Queeman said. 

Rob Heim, the general manager at Shaw’s Tavern, said he’s looking forward to being a part of the event. And new fall menu items at Shaw’s Tavern will be available during Taste of Pride, which he’s thrilled to showcase. 

“I was really excited to help out and participate,” he said. “It’s a great idea.” 

The smaller number of participating restaurants in Taste of Pride is intentional, said Brandon Bayton, a volunteer executive producer organizing Taste of Pride. It’s so each restaurant can be well-represented during the week, and different restaurants will be highlighted on social media on separate days. Capital Pride Alliance is also partnering with influencers to get the word out. 

From left, food from 801 Restaurant and Bar and a drink from Code Red. (Code Red photo by Michael Emond; photos courtesy of Capital Pride Alliance)

Visibility — all year long 

It’s important to have events like Taste of Pride outside of June, Bayton said. 

“We exist 365 days,” Bayton said. “So we need to make sure that we continue the celebration and invite others to celebrate with us and just be authentically ourselves. We enjoy and do a lot of things other people do. There’s no reason why we should just be constrained to one month.”

Queeman agrees. His identity as a queer Black man doesn’t stop or start at any given month. 

“I’m not just a queer or gay man in June or I’m not just a Black man in February,” he said. 

And food is a major intersection that all people of all identities enjoy, Bayton said. It’s a simple way to bring people together. 

“We do the exact same things that everyone else does,” Bayton said. “We all eat. We all love to eat.” 

Taste of Pride will run from Oct. 2-8. For more information and to make reservations, visit

Continue Reading

a&e features

Hip-Hop’s complicated history with queer representation

At 50, experts say the genre still doesn’t fully welcome LGBTQ inclusion



Rapper Lil Nas X faced backlash for his music video ‘Montero,’ but it debuted atop the Billboard 100.

I didn’t really start listening to rap until my college years. Like many queer Black children who grow up in the closet, shielded by puritanical Christianity from the beauty of a diverse world, I longed to be myself. But the affirming references I could pull from — in moments of solitude away from the wrath and disdain of family and friends — were in theater and pop music.

The soundtrack to my teenage years was an endless playlist of pop divas like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, whose lyrics encouraged me to sashay my hips anytime I strutted through a long stretch of corridor.

I was also obsessed with the consuming presence of powerful singers like Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, and the hypnosis that was Chaka Khan. My childhood, an extrapolation of Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays spent in church groups, choir practices, and worship services, necessitated that I be a fan of throaty, from-the-stomach singing. But something about the way these artists presented themselves warmed my queer little heart. LaBelle wore avant garde geometric hairdos paired with heavily shoulder-padded blazers. Houston loved an elegant slender gown. And Khan? It was the voluminous red mane that gently caressed her lower back for me. 

Listening to rap music in college was a political experience. My sociology classes politicized me and so it was only natural that I listened to rap music that expressed trauma, joy, and hope in the Black experience. However, I felt disconnected from the music because of a dearth of queer representation in the genre. 

Nevertheless, groups like Outkast felt nostalgic. While delivering hedonistic lyrics at lightning speed, André 3000 — one half of the rap duo — mesmerized with his sleek, shoulder-length silk pressed hair and colorful, flowing shirts and trousers — a style that could be translated as “gender-bending.” Despite the patriarchal presentation rampant in rap and Hip-Hop, Andr​​é 30000 represented to me, a kind of rebellious self-expression that I so badly wanted to emulate but couldn’t because of the psychological confines of my conservative upbringing. 

My discovery of Outkast was also sobering because it was a stark reminder of how queerness is also often used as an aesthetic in Hip-Hop while actual queer people are shunned, rebuked, and mocked. Queer people in Hip-Hop are like backstage wingmen, crucial to the development of the show but never important enough to make a curtain call. 

As Hip-Hop celebrates 50 years since its inception in New York City, I am filled with joy because it’s been half a century of Black people owning their narratives and driving the culture. But it’s fair to ask: At whose expense? 

A viral 2020 video shows rapper Boosie BadAzz, famed for hits like “Set It Off” and “Wipe Me Down,” rebuking NBA star Dwayne Wade and award-winning actress Gabrielle Union-Wade for publicly supporting their then-12-year-old daughter after she came out as transgender. 

“Don’t cut his dick off, bro,” said BadAzz with furrowed eyebrows and a gaze that kept turning away from the camera, revealing his tarnished diamond studs. “Don’t dress him as a woman dawg, he’s 12 years. He’s not up there yet.” 

The responses from both Wade and Union-Wade were a mixture of swift, sarcastically light-hearted, and hopeful.

“Sorry Boosie,” Union-Wade said to an audience during a live podcast appearance at Live Talks Los Angeles. “He’s so preoccupied, it’s almost like, ‘thou doth protest too much, Little Boos.’ You’ve got a lot of dick on your mind.”

Wade also appeared on an episode of podcast, “I AM ATHLETE,” and looked directly into the camera.

“Boosie, all the people who got something to say, J-Boogie who just came out with [something] recently, all the people who got something to say about my kids,” he said. “I thank you because you’re allowing the conversation to keep going forward because you know what? You might not have the answers today, I might not have the answers, but we’re growing from all these conversations.” 

This exchange between the Wades and BadAzz highlights the complicated relationship between Black LGBTQ individuals and allies and the greater Hip-Hop and rap genres and communities. While Black queer aesthetics have long informed self-expression in Hip-Hop, rappers have disparaged queerness through song lyrics and in interviews, or online rants like BadAzz, outside the recording studio. 

And despite LGBTQ rappers like Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Lil Nas X, and Saucy Santana achieving mainstream success, much work lies ahead to heal the trauma that persists from Hip-Hop’s history of  patriarchy and homophobia. 

“‘Progression’ will always be relative and subjective based on one’s positionality,” said Dr. Melvin Williams said in an email. Williams is an associate professor of communication and media studies at Pace University. “Hip-hop has traditionally been in conversation with queer and non-normative sexualities and included LGBTQ+ people in the shaping of its cultural signifiers behind the scenes as choreographers, songwriters, make-up artists, set designers, and other roles stereotypically attributed to queer culture.”

“Although Hip-Hop incorporates queerness in their ethos, ideas, and trends, it does not privilege the prospect of an out LGBTQ+ rapper. Such reservations position LGBTQ+ people as mere labor in Hip-Hop’s behind-the-scenes cultivation, but not as rap performers in its mainstream distribution,” he added. 

This is especially true for Queen Latifah and DaBrat who existed in the genre for decades but didn’t publicly come out until 2021. Still, both faced backlash from the Black community for daring to challenge gender roles and expectations. 

Queen Latifah dodged questions about her sexuality for years before acknowledging her partner and their son in 2021. (Photo by DFree via Bigstock)

Lil Nas X also faced backlash for his music video “Montero” with satanic references, including one in which he slides down a pole and gives a character representing the devil a lap dance. Conservatives such as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem accused him of trying to scandalize children. 

“You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am,” Nas X said in a note that accompanied “Montero.” The agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.”

Regardless, “Montero” debuted atop the Billboard 100. 

In an article published in “Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society,” scholar C. Riley Snorton posited that celebrating queer visibility in mainstream media could be a problem as this kind of praise relies on artists presenting in acceptable forms of gender and sexuality expression and encourages representation that is “read alongside…perceptions of Hip-Hop as a site of Black misogyny and homophobia.” 

In the case of Frank Ocean, who came out in 2012 prior to the release of his album “Channel Orange,” his reception was warmer than most queer Hip-Hop artists because his style of music is singing, as opposed to rapping. Because of this, his music was viewed more as R’n’B or pop. 

“Frank Ocean ain’t no rapper. He’s a singer. It’s acceptable in the singing world, but in the rap world I don’t know if it will ever be acceptable because rap is so masculine,” rapper Snoop Dogg told the Guardian in 2013. “It’s like a football team. You can’t be in a locker room full of motherfucking tough-ass dudes, then all of a sudden say, ‘Hey, man, I like you.’ You know, that’s going to be tough.”

So what’s the solution for queer people in Hip-Hop? Digital media.

Williams, the Pace University professor, says that being divorced from record labels allows queer artists to be independent and distribute their music globally on their own terms. 

“We witnessed this fact with artists such as Azealia Banks, Cakes Da Killa, Fly Young Red, Kevin Abstract, iLoveMakonnen, Lil Nas X, Mykki Blanco, and Saucy Santana, as well as legacy LGBTQ Hip-Hop acts like Big Freeda, DeepDickCollective, and Le1f,” he said. “The music industry has experienced an increasingly mobilized market due to the rise of digital media, social networking platforms, and streaming services.”

“More importantly, Black queer Hip-Hop artists are historicizing LGBTQ+ contributions and perspectives in documentaries, films, news specials, public forums, and podcasts. Ultimately, queer people engaging in Hip-Hop is a revolutionary act, and it remains vital for LGBTQ+ Hip-Hoppers to highlight their cultural contributions and share their histories,” he added. 

(Hip-Hop pioneers Public Enemy and Ice-T will headline The National Celebration of Hip-Hop, free concerts at the West Potomac Park on the National Mall in D.C. on Oct. 6 and 7.)

Continue Reading

a&e features

Cuisine and culture come together at The Square

D.C.’s newest food hall highlights Spanish flavors



(Photo by Scott Suchman)

Downtown got a bit tastier when “the next generation of food halls” opened its doors on Tuesday near the Farragut West Metro stop. Dubbed The Square, its half-dozen debut stalls are a Spanish-flecked mix of D.C. favorites, new concepts, and vendor-collaborative spirit.

After two years of planning – and teasing some big-name chefs – the market is, according to the owners, “where cuisine, culture, and community are woven together.”

Behind this ambitious project with lofty aims are Richie Brandenburg, who had a hand in creating Union Market and Rubén García, a creative director of the José Andrés Group who also was part of the team of Mercado Little Spain, the fairly new Spanish-themed Andres food hall in Hudson Yards.

Food halls have come a long way since the new Union Market awakened the concept a decade ago. Instead of simply rows of vendors in parallel lines, The Square has a new business model and perspective. This food hall shares revenue between the owners and its chef partners. Vendors are encouraged to collaborate, using one software system, and purchasing raw materials and liquor at scale together.

“Our goal was two-fold: to create a best-in-class hospitality offering with delicious foods for our guests; and behind the scenes, create the strong, complex infrastructure needed to nurture both young chefs and seasoned professionals, startups, and innovation within our industry,” says Brandenburg.

The Square has embraced a more chef-forward methodology, given that the founders/owners themselves are chefs. They’re bringing together a diverse mix of new talent and longtime favorites to connect, offer guidance to each other, and make the market into a destination. 

(Photos by Scott Suchman)

The first phase of The Square premiered this week. This phase encapsulates a selection of original concepts from well-known local chefs and business owners, and includes:

• Cashion’s Rendezvous – Oysters, crab cakes, and cocktails, from the owners of D.C. institutions and now-closed Cashion’s Eat Place and Johnny’s Half-Shell (Ann Cashion and John Fulchino).

• Jamón Jamón – Flamenco-forward food with hand-cut jamón Iberico, queso, and croquetas, sourced by García himself.

• Brasa – Grilled sausages and veggies are the stars here. Chef García oversees this Spanish street-food stall as well.

 Taqueria Xochi – Birria, guisado, and other street tacos, plus margs. Named after the ruins of Xochitecatl in Central Mexico, and from a Jose Andres alum.

• Yaocho – Fried chicken, juices, sweets, and libations.

• Junge’s – Churros and soft serve ice cream. Brandenburg and García both have a hand in this stall.

• Atrium Bar – The central watering hole for drinks. Atrium Bar serves cocktails, wine, and beer curated by The Square’s Beverage Director Owen Thompson.

“Having been part of Jose Andres’s restaurant group and getting to know Ruben and Richie, it’s amazing to see how their values align with ours at Taqueria Xochi. Seeing all these incredible chefs heading into Square feels like a full-circle moment,” said Geraldine Mendoza of Taqueria Xochi.

Slated for fall 2023, the next round of openings includes Flora Pizzeria, Cebicheria Chalaca, KIYOMI Sushi by Uchi, Shoals Market (a retail hub), and more. Additionally, chef Rubén García’s Spanish restaurant, Casa Teresa, will soon open next door to The Square.

The Square is just one of a handful of new food halls blossoming in and around D.C. Up in Brentwood, Md., miXt Food Hall is an art-adjacent space with tacos, a year-round fresh market, coffee, and beer. Across from Union Market is La Cosecha, a Latin marketplace with everything from street food to a Michelin starred restaurant and a festive vibe. Closer to The Square is Western Market by GW University, which opened in late 2021 with a buzzy, relaxed style.

For now, the Square is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Square plans to open on weekends and extend hours to offer dinner service in the coming months. A few alfresco seats will accompany the hall.

(Photo by Scott Suchman)
Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade