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LGBT Affairs Office moves to Reeves Center

Third staffer to be hired for LGBT youth housing issues



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.



Prince George’s County library system launches banned book club

First discussion to take place in Hyattsville on June 14



(Bigstock photo)

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has launched its Rock Banned Book Club.

The club will feature monthly discussions of the 13 top banned books from 2022, most of which focus on LGBTQ-specific themes. 

The club’s first discussion, which will take place at the Hyattsville Branch Library on June 14, will be on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. 

Kobabe’s memoir won the 2020 American Library Association Alex Award and recounts Kobabe’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality through adolescence and adulthood. According to the American Library Association, the book faced the most censorship challenges of any novel at 151.

“We’re seeing nationally the highest rate of challenges to books in libraries since the data has been collected by the American Library Association,” Nicholas Brown, acting co-chief executive officer of the library, said. “I think what happens with all of the discourse around book banning is that, oftentimes, not everyone participating in that discourse is actually taking the time to read the full works and discuss them and understand where the author might be coming from and whose stories are being reflected in these books.”

Along with the book club, the library system is hosting a Pride celebration at the Hyattsville branch on Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion, vogue and runway workshops, free HIV testing and more. 

The library system will host its second annual Rainbow Festival on June 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bowie Branch Library with family-friendly events like craft stations, story time and a live DJ. In April, the library system won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its banned books campaign.

“I think a lot of folks don’t always realize that your local public library is kind of the front line of democracy and we always have been,” Brown said. “Public libraries across the country are very united on this and if the right to read continues to be under threat like it’s been, it is not a good time for the state of our democracy.”

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building



D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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