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Lost River vs. Rehoboth?

Locals weigh in on popular second-home spots

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Lost River, gay news, Washington Blade

Lighthouse Harry Lee Cabin is a historic home in Lost River State Park. (Photo by Justin Wilcox; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Morning person or night owl? Butch or femme? Mountain person or beach lover? Of course, life is never totally black and white, but for many D.C.-area LGBT folks, the most popular second-home spots come down to where you like to spend either your downtime or your retirement years.

Lost River, W.Va., an unincorporated community in West Virginia’s Hardy County along Route 259, is about a two-hour drive from Washington and has become a sort of unofficial rural gay area in recent years. Gay life in Rehoboth Beach, Del., of course, is well established. When D.C. gays go to the beach, more often than not, it’s to Rehoboth. Traffic can be dicey, especially on Friday and Sunday evenings in the summer, but it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour/120-mile drive from Washington.

We asked locals why they chose one or the other.

Peter Rosenstein, Blade columnist and owner of PDR and Associates, has been in Washington since 1978 and bought a home in Rehoboth Beach in 1998. He spends about 15 percent of his time at the beach.

“Life in Rehoboth Beach is relaxed and fun — great restaurants, great people, shopping and, of course, the ocean and white sandy beach.”

He says visit friends and spend time looking at different neighborhoods before making a purchase. And find a good realtor.

“I’ve been going to Rehoboth since the early ’80,” he says. “The only mistake I made was waiting so long to buy my own place. I also find that D.C. people are friendlier and more relaxed when they’re in Rehoboth Beach.”

Paul Yandura and Donald Hitchcock have been together 18 years and now split their time between Washington and Wardensville, W.Va. They bought a home in Columbia Heights in 2001 and a cabin in Lost River in 2008. In 2013, they bought a store called Lost River Trading Post. A small house next to the store houses Lost River Real Estate.

“I consider myself and I think Donald considers himself more of a mountain person than a beach person,” Yandura says. “I grew up in Detroit and all our trips outside of downtown were to the lake, so I like lakes, mountains and rivers more than oceans and beaches.”

He calls Lost River “very laid back and very welcoming.” Gay people, he says, have “been here for years.” He stays there full time and “is loving it.” Hitchcock goes back and forth.

West Virginia cabins, he says, are overall much more affordable than houses at the beach. He puts a “very nice” cabin option at about $300,000; top-of-the-line might be in the $400,000 range while something comfortable with a view can still be had for less than $200,000.

“And you can still swap houses with someone who spent $900,000 on a beach house for your $300,000 mountain cabin without the expense and upkeep and without having to go in with others,” Yandura says. “It all depends what you want. Also, out here in West Virginia, you can enjoy your cabin all year round.”

He says Wardensville and Lost River Valley are “bustling” in the spring and summer with plenty of outdoor activities. The views in the fall are “spectacular” and even winter is nice.

“Nothing beats cozying up to a large stone fireplace and taking in the mountain vistas,” he says.

Trout Pond National Park, Lost River State Park, the George Washington National Forest Trails, restaurants and shops, bars and even an art co-op add to the appeal, he says.

A. Toni Young lived in Washington most of her life but now spends half her time in Lost River.  She says she always thought of herself as a beach person until she found Lost River four years ago. She runs a non-profit and a housewares business.

“Although it is primarily gay white men — until a few months ago, I was the only black lesbian here, also known as ‘the black lady,’ — but a couple lesbian couples have moved in down the road and are interracial,” Young says. “You can find gay African-Americans, great dinner parties, movie nights in the summer, biking, hiking, Kentucky Derby parties — you name it, we have it here.”

Before you buy, she says figure out if you want to be near the water or someplace “more woodsy.” Also think about whether you’re willing to put time in on a fixer-upper or if you just want to move in. Also consider how much time you want to invest in upkeep.

“I never thought this kid from Southeast D.C. would find joy in the four hours I spend on a riding mower, but I do,” she says.

The folks in Lost River “are family,” she says.

“I had my pipes freeze and burst and a neighbor, his brother and some guy I didn’t know, showed up at my house, pulled down dry wall, stopped the leak and called the plumber and made sure I wasn’t overcharged,” she says.

Last month, Bob Kabel sold the Kalorama condo he’d owned for 16 years. He’s had a house in Rehoboth Beach for 14 years. Two years ago, he bought another in Lost River with a friend.

“I like both,” he says. “They’re strikingly different experiences. There is much more to do in Rehoboth than in Lost River, but they both provide a welcome getaway from D.C.”

He says gay life “permeates” Rehoboth and says it’s a “madhouse” in the summer.

“It’s actually more enjoyable and not so crazy during the off season,” Kabel says.

He enjoys hanging out with Yandura and Hitchcock at the Trading Post and says outdoor sports and hiking are great there, if you’re into that. Going out options are limited, but that’s not the draw.

“Lost River LGBT life centers around individual homes,” he says. “Nice weather brings people there. Winter, not so much.”

He agrees Lost River is “much more affordable.”

Kabel says make sure any mortgage broker you work with has everything covered. He’d previously bought a condo in Rehoboth and learned his broker had neglected to submit his loan application. He says the mortgage process for the Lost River house was “long and almost painful.”

“Changes to mortgage lending after the 2008 debacle have made getting a loan much more paper intensive and difficult,” Kabel says.

Vicki Johnson bought her circa 1830s log cabin less than a year ago and moved to Wardensville full time. She worked in law, politics and government for nearly 20 years and craved more time to write, more time with her child and “freedom from a desk job.”

“When I finally visited, I was completely hooked,” she says.

She now runs Lucky Johnson General Store.

“I spend my days surrounded by historical objects and antiques, drinking organic coffee and offering natural products for cabins, people and pets,” she says. “I also host live music events and author talks. It’s pretty dreamy.”

If you think you might be interested, she advises visiting with a local realtor and see what interests you.

“You might fall in love with a valley view of cows grazing, river frontage, a farmhouse, a historic cabin, private access to a national forest, an old barn to restore or something else,” she says. “You will definitely know it when you see it. I never thought I’d live in a 200-year-old cabin, but the view sealed the deal.”

Rehoboth Beach, gay news, Washington Blade

Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Washington Blade file photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)

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Baltimore DJ on using music as a bridge to combat discrimination

Deezy brings high-energy show to the Admiral on Jan. 28

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DJ Deezy has hosted multiple events in D.C. and Baltimore. (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)

A Baltimore DJ will conclude a month of performances in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. clubs this Friday, Jan. 28, according to the artist’s management. DJ Deezy is set to perform at the Admiral in D.C. at 9 p.m. 

Since the year began, Deezy has hosted electric events at clubs such as Hawthorne DC, DuPont and the Baltimore Eagle Bar & Nightclub. 

The Washington Blade sat down with the DJ to discuss the course of her career. 

The beginning of DJ Deezy’s infatuation with music dates back to her childhood spent between her mother’s house in Baltimore City and her father’s house in the suburbs. 

In Baltimore, Deezy was exposed to the local rap and raw hip-hop scene that inspired her to embark on a rap career in high school. 

Concurrently, she was entrenched in Motown and classic rock by virtue of her singer, songwriter, and guitarist father Ron Daughton’s involvement in a classic rock band. He is a member of “The Dalton Gang” and was inducted into the Maryland Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2015.

“Before I embarked on my DJ journey, my father let me record ‘a little 16’ on his tape recorder,” said Deezy. “Eventually, he bought me a wireless microphone that I carried around with me to performances.”

Between her experience as a rapper and watching her father maneuver the classic rock music scene, Deezy acquired varying tastes in music that have influenced how she curates her sets today. 

She “specializes in open format vibes with spins from multiple genres including hip-hop, rap, circuit, and top 40s hits,” according to a summer 2021 press release from her management.

Deezy is also a proud member of the LGBTQ community — she identifies as a lesbian — and this also informs her approach to her work.

“I’m easily able to transition and rock the crowd because I can relate to many different backgrounds,” said Deezy. “I can DJ in places that are predominantly white, Black, or gay [and still do my job effortlessly].”

Centering community

Deezy values representation. Not only because she exists in a field dominated by men, but also because DJs who inhabit other identities aside from being men are less common in the industry. 

The scarcity of Black and lesbian DJs has prompted her to use her career as evidence that people who are different can attract audiences and succeed.

“I want to put us out there especially for Baltimore,” said Deezy. “I know that there’s Black lesbians out there doing the same thing as me, but why aren’t we getting [recognized]?”

In 2018, Deezy rented out a “Lez” lot at the Baltimore Pride block party where she set up a tent and played a set for the crowds tailgating around her. While entertaining them, she distributed her business cards — an act she believes yielded her the contact who eventually got her booked for a residency at the Baltimore Eagle.

While this was a step forward in her career, Deezy acknowledges that it wasn’t without challenges. She likened entering the Baltimore Eagle — traditionally a leather bar frequented predominantly by men —to navigating foreign territory. 

“When I first got there, I got funny looks,” she said. “There’s a lot of these guys who are like, ‘Why are you bringing a lesbian DJ to a gay bar?’”

But Deezy powered through her performance, lifted the crowd from its seats and “rocked the house [so that] no one will ever ask any questions again.” 

She admits that she’s an acquired taste but believes in her ability to play music infectious enough to draw anyone to the dance floor.  

“Feel how you want to feel about a Black lesbian DJ being in the gay bar,” said Deezy. “But music is a bridge that [will] connect us all, and you’ll forget about your original discrimination when you [experience] me.”

While Deezy has mostly performed in the DMV, she has also made appearances in Arizona where she hosted a family event and also in clubs in Atlanta and New York City. 

Her work has also attracted international attention and she was the cover star of  French publication Gmaro Magazine’s October 2021 issue

Looking to the future, Deezy’s goal is to be a tour DJ and play her sets around the world.

“I had a dream that Tamar Braxton approached me backstage at one of her concerts and asked me to be her tour DJ,” she said. “So, I’m manifesting this for myself.” 

In the meantime, Deezy will continue to liven up audiences in bars and clubs around the country while playing sets for musicians like Crystal Waters and RuPaul’s Drag Race celebrity drag queens like Alyssa Edwards, Plastique Tiara, La La Ri, Joey Jay and Eureka O’Hara — all of whom she has entertained alongside in the past. 

Outside the club, Deezy’s music can be heard in Shoe City where she created an eight-hour music mix split evenly between deep house and hip-hop and R&B. 

DJ Deezy (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)
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Rodriquez scores historic win at otherwise irrelevant Golden Globes

Award represents a major milestone for trans visibility

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Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, on right, and Billy Porter in 'Pose.' (Photo courtesy of FX)

HOLLYWOOD – Despite its continuing status as something of a pariah organization in Hollywood, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has managed to cling to relevance in the wake of last night’s behind-closed-doors presentation of its 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards by sole virtue of having bestowed the prize for “Best Leading Actress in a Television Series – Drama” on Michaela Jaé Rodriguez for her work in the final season of “Pose” – making her the first transgender performer to win a Golden Globe.

The ceremony took place as a private, no-press-or-audience event in which winners were revealed via a series of tweets from the Golden Globes Twitter account. No celebrities were present (not even the nominees or winners), although actress Jamie Lee Curtis participated by appearing in a video in which she pronounced her continuing loyalty to the HFPA – without mention of the  longstanding issues around diversity and ethical practices, revealed early in 2021 by a bombshell Los Angeles Times report, that have led to an nearly industry-wide boycott of the organization and its awards as well as the cancellation of the annual Golden Globes broadcast by NBC for the foreseeable future.

While the Golden Globes may have lost their luster for the time being, the award for Rodriquez represents a major milestone for trans visibility and inclusion in the traditionally transphobic entertainment industry, and for her part, the actress responded to news of her win with characteristic grace and good will.

Posting on her Instagram account, the 31-year old actress said: 

“OMG OMGGG!!!! @goldenglobes Wow! You talking about sickening birthday present! Thank you!

“This is the door that is going to Open the door for many more young talented individuals. They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS.

“To my young LGBTQAI babies WE ARE HERE the door is now open now reach the stars!!!!!”

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As You Are Bar and the importance of queer gathering spaces

New bar/restaurant poised to open in 2022

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As You Are Bar had a pop-up venue at Capital Pride's "Colorful Fest" block party in October. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than just a watering hole: As You Are Bar is set to be the city’s newest queer gathering place where patrons can spill tea over late-morning cappuccinos as easily as they can over late-night vodka-sodas.

Co-owners and founders Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike built on their extensive experience in the hospitality industry – including stints at several gay bars – to sign a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row, replacing what was previously District Soul Food and Banana Café. In a prime corner spot, they are seeking to bring together the disparate colors of the LGBTQ rainbow – but first must navigate the approval process (more on that later).

The duo decided on this Southeast neighborhood locale to increase accessibility for “the marginalized parts of our community,” they say, “bringing out the intersectionality inherent in the queer space.”

Northwest D.C., they explain, not only already has many gay bar options, but is also more difficult to get to for those who don’t live within walking distance. The Barracks Row location is right by a Metro stop, “reducing pay walls.” Plus, there, “we are able to find a neighborhood to bring in a queer presence that doesn’t exist today.”

McDaniel points out that the area has a deep queer bar history. Western bar Remington’s was once located in the area, and it’s a mere block from the former Phase 1, the longest-running lesbian bar, which was open from 1971-2015.

McDaniel and Pike hope that As You Are Bar will be an inclusive space that “welcomes anyone of any walk of life that will support, love, and celebrate the mission of queer culture. We want people of all ages, gender, sexual identity, as well as drinkers and non-drinkers, to have space.”

McDaniel (she/her) began her career at Apex in 2005 and was most recently the opening manager of ALOHO. Pike (she/they) was behind the bar and worked as security at ALOHO, where the two met.

Since leaving ALOHO earlier this year, they have pursued the As You Are Bar project, first by hosting virtual events during the pandemic, and now in this brick-and-mortar space. They expressed concern that receiving the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) liquor license approval and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, or ANC, approval will be a long and expensive process.

They have already received notice that some neighbors intend to protest As You Are Bar’s application for the “tavern” liquor license that ABRA grants to serve alcohol and allow for live entertainment (e.g. drag shows). They applied for the license on Nov. 12, and have no anticipated opening date, estimating at least six months. If ABRA and the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board give final approval, the local ANC 6B and nearby residents can no longer protest the license until the license comes up for renewal.

Until approval is given, they continue physical buildout (including soundproofing) and planning their offerings. If the license is approved, ABRA and the ABC Board can take action against As You Are Bar, like any bar, at any time if they violate the terms of the license or create a neighborhood disturbance that violates city laws such as the local noise ordinance.  In the kitchen, the duo snagged Chef Nina Love to develop the menu. Love will oversee café-style fare; look out for breakfast sandwiches making an appearance all the way until close. They will also have baked goods during the day.

McDaniel and Pike themselves will craft the bar menu. Importantly, they note, the coffee bar will also serve until close. There will be a full bar as well as a list of zero-proof cocktails. As with their sourcing, they hope to work with queer-, minority-, and women-owned businesses for everything not made in-house.

Flexible conceptually, they seek to grow with their customer base, allowing patrons to create the culture that they seek.

Their goal is to move the queer space away from a focus on alcohol consumption. From book clubs, to letter-writing, to shared workspaces, to dance parties, they seek an all-day, morning-to-night rhythm of youth, families, and adults to find a niche. “We want to shift the narrative of a furtive, secretive, dark gay space and hold it up to the light,” they say. “It’s a little like The Planet from the original L Word show,” they joke.

Pike notes that they plan on working closely with SMYAL, for example, to promote programming for youth. Weekend potential activities include lunch-and-learn sessions on Saturdays and festive Sunday brunches.

The café space, to be located on the first floor, will have coffeehouse-style sofas as well as workstations. A slim patio on 8th Street will hold about six tables.

Even as other queer bars have closed, they reinforce that the need is still present. “Yes, we can visit a café or bar, but we always need to have a place where we are 100 percent certain that we are safe, and that our security is paramount. Even as queer acceptance continues to grow, a dedicated queer space will always be necessary,” they say.

To get there, they continue to rally support of friends, neighbors, and leaders in ANC6B district; the ANC6B officials butted heads with District Soul Food, the previous restaurant in the space, over late-night noise and other complaints. McDaniel and Pike hope that once nearby residents and businesses understand the important contribution that As You Are Bar can make to the neighborhood, they will extend their support and allow the bar to open.

AYA, gay news, Washington Blade
Rachel Pike and Jo McDaniel signed a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row. (Photo courtesy Pike and McDaniel)
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