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LGBT Affairs Office moves to Reeves Center

Third staffer to be hired for LGBT youth housing issues

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Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs, Sheila Alexander-Reid, gay news, Washington Blade

‘The mayor wants to raise our profile and give us more access to our own community,’ said Sheila Alexander-Reid. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In a little-noticed development, the Mayor’s LGBT Affairs Office has moved out of the John A. Wilson Building, which serves as the District’s city hall, and moved into the Reeves Center Municipal Building at 14th and U Streets, N.W.

Although the office is no longer in the same building where Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office is located, the new location “absolutely” does not represent a downgrading of the office, according to Sheila Alexander-Reid, the LGBT Affairs Office director.

“The reason for the move is that the mayor wants to raise our profile and give us more access to our own community,” Alexander-Reid told the Blade. She noted that the LGBT Affairs Office is now located one floor above the DC Center for the LGBT Community, which moved into the Reeves Center two years ago.

“It’s actually a huge upgrade because we were relegated to an office and a cubicle in the Wilson Building and now we have a suite with a sofa and a conference room table,” said Alexander-Reid. “So it’s an incredible upgrade.”

Alexander-Reid also confirmed that Mayor Bowser has given the go-ahead for the hiring of a third staff member for the office, who will serve as a specialist in LGBT housing and LGBT youth homelessness issues.

The office currently has just two staff members, Alexander-Reid and Deputy Director Terrence Laney.

The need for the new staff member became apparent last year after the D.C. Council passed and then-Mayor Vincent Gray signed the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Amendment Act of 2014. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and then-Council member Bowser (D-Ward 4) co-introduced the bill, which calls for addressing specific needs of homeless LGBT youth.

Among other things, the legislation amended the 2006 law that established the LGBT Affairs Office as a permanent entity in the Office of the Mayor to authorize the hiring of additional staff members for the office. The LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Act also mandates that the LGBT Affairs Office administer a grants fund that the legislation created called the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Training Grant Fund.

“The Fund shall be continually available to the Office for the purpose of providing grants to fund trainings on cultural competency for providing services to LGBTQ homeless youth for providers throughout the District,” the legislation says. “The Office shall establish criteria for eligibility to receive a grant,” says the legislation, which became law about a year ago.

Sterling Washington, the LGBT Affairs Office director under Mayor Vincent Gray, said Gray determined that a third staff member would be needed to carry out the new duties required to administer the grant program. Washington said Gray was about to hire someone to fill the new position but decided to leave that task to the new mayor after he lost his re-election bid in the Democratic primary to Bowser.

“We’re interviewing as we speak,” Alexander-Reid said when asked what the target date would be for hiring the new staff member. “The target date is ASAP,” she said.

She said the funds for the salary for the new staff member will come from funds appropriated for the Department of Human Services, which monitors most of the city’s homelessness-related programs, including shelters and residential facilities.

Alexander-Reid said her office will host an open house on April 21 to introduce the community to the office’s new space. She said the move from the Wilson Building took place about three weeks ago, but she and Laney wanted to wait until they had settled in before formally announcing the move and scheduling an open house.

“Of all the government buildings this is the closest to sort of the nexus of the LGBT community,” Alexander-Reid said. “It’s two or three blocks from the Blade. It’s right above the LGBT Community Center…This is the one that’s most convenient and the closest to the nexus of where the community can be found.”

The Reeves Center initially had been slated to be given to a private developer as part of a land deal to build a new soccer stadium in the Buzzard’s Point section of Southwest D.C. Those plans were later changed, but city officials say it’s still possible that the Reeves Center could be demolished to make way for a new residential and retail complex.

Alexander-Reid said she has been told that the building will remain as it is for at least the next four or five years.

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding

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What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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