D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser welcomed representatives of 26 local LGBT organizations that received more than $81,000 in grants from the LGBT charitable group Brother Help Thyself at the group’s annual grant awards ceremony on Jan. 24 at the DC Eagle.
Bowser praised the work of BHT and its financial support for the wide range of LGBT community organizations that were named as its grant recipients. She also welcomed the DC Eagle, a gay bar that has been in business in the city for more than 30 years, to its new home at 3701 Benning Rd., N.E.
“I want to acknowledge the owners and friends and future patrons of the DC Eagle,” she said. “Let’s hear it for DC Eagle!”
Bowser noted that the Saturday afternoon event represented the Eagle’s “soft opening,” with its actual opening for its regular customers to take place soon.
Eagle co-owner Peter Lloyd also greeted the more than 100 people that turned out for the event but he didn’t say when the popular gay leather bar’s official grand opening was to take place.
“We were really thrilled to be back at the DC Eagle, which is where Brother Help Thyself basically formed and was created to begin helping the community,” said Jim Slattery, the group’s current president.
“So being able to come back at their new location for their first event was very satisfying,” he said. “And we look forward to many years of fun times here at the Eagle.”
Information posted on the BHT website says the group was founded in 1978 by four gay motorcycle clubs whose members frequented the DC Eagle when it operated out of its original downtown D.C. location.
Since its founding BHT has raised more than $2 million for dozens of LGBT charitable and community organizations serving the community in the D.C. and Baltimore areas, officials with BHT have said.
In addition to issuing grants to the 26 groups, BHT officials presented awards to three organizations, including the Washington Blade, and one individual in recognition of their support and services to the LGBT community.
BHT presented its Founders Award to the local services group Heart to Hand and its Billy Collison Award to the group Hope DC.
Slattery presented the BHT George Dotson Business Award to the Blade in recognition of the Blade’s role as a voice for the LGBT community and its longstanding support for BHT through its news coverage.
The group’s Anthony J. Bachrach Award was given to longtime BHT supporter and financial contributor Doug Mueller.
The size of the grants given to the 26 groups at the Jan. 24 event ranged from a high of $14,015 for the D.C.-based group HIPS (Helping Individual People Survive) to its smallest grant of $755 to Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS), also based in D.C.
HIPS provides services and support for what it describes as vulnerable population groups within the LGBT community, including sex workers and victims of sexual assault. HOBS provides financial assistance to LGBT people in immediate need of temporary support, with a special outreach to veterans.
Most of the grants issued at the awards ceremony at the DC Eagle were in the $1,000 to $10,000 range. Among the other recipients were the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, the LGBT youth advocacy and services group SMYAL, Rainbow History Project, Casa Ruby, the Latino GLBT History Project and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore.
Also receiving grants were chapters of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Metro D.C.; Carroll County, Md.; and Columbia-Howard Counties, also in Maryland.
Damien Ministries, a faith-based group providing services to people with HIV/AIDS, and New Ways Ministry, an LGBT supportive Catholic organization, received BHT grants along with two other faith-based groups: the Rainbow Youth Alliance of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, Md.; and Charlie’s Place of St. Margaret’s Church Vestry.
In her remarks at the awards ceremony, Bowser told the gathering that her administration would be supportive of the city’s diverse nightlife businesses such as the DC Eagle.
“I know all of the agencies that affect nightlife, all of the agencies that are going to make sure we continue to have a diverse Washington, D.C.,” she said. “And we’re going to put the right people in place to do that.”
She added, “So stay in touch with us and also continue, continue, continue to make sure the issues that are affecting the LGBT community are front and center – front and center in front of our administration…Make sure I know about it so that we can put the best minds in the District of Columbia towards solutions.”