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Dispatches from Philly: Obama passes the baton

Busy night of receptions culminates in barnburner speeches



Obama, gay news, Washington Blade

President Barack Obama passed the baton to Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Wednesday morning dawned sunny and hot in Philly and it seemed everyone in town was waiting for this evening to hear Michael Bloomberg, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine and finally Barack Obama speak at the convention. The talk was all about how Bill Clinton was so amazing and that he once again proved there is no one who can match him when he gives a speech. They were also talking about how great he looked and that he did it without the usual glasses. He looked 10 years younger.

Wednesday for me meant a round of events before I headed to the Wells Fargo Center. First there was a finance committee meeting for those like me who are raising money for Hillary. If I haven’t reached you yet, and with apologies to my friends who have heard from me time and time again, just click on and give whatever you can if you are as inspired by Hillary and the chance to keep making history as I am.

At the finance committee I heard from Deputy Communications Director Christina Reynolds, Senior Campaign Strategist Joel Benenson, and Director of Opinion Research Navin Nayak who gave an in-depth presentation and discussion on the campaign’s core messaging and polling. It was both interesting and positive. Met a friend from long ago, New York State Democratic Party co-chair Trudy Mason. Also Allida Black and was introduced to retired ambassador Laura Kennedy.

Then it was off to the National School Boards Dessert Reception, offer me ice cream and I will show up anywhere. Especially if it’s 100 degrees outside. Considering the offer of ice cream it was a really small crowd.

Then it was on to the Emily’s List reception and listening to Emily’s list CEO Stephanie Schriock is always inspiring. Now that was a huge crowd all charged up for Hillary. Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke as did Sen. Chuck Schumer and Katie McGinty who is running for the Senate from Pennsylvania. In the room were friends from Wisconsin, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and so many other places. First I saw Sen. Tammy Baldwin who was there with her chief of staff Bill Murat. Sen. Baldwin promised to join me in D.C. for a Hillary fundraiser on Sept. 20 if her calendar is open. Standing with Baldwin was Elizabeth Birch and Tammy graciously posed for a picture with us. I will just list some other great Democrats that were there: Melissa Cressey, Mason Lane, Julia Rosen and Chris Massicotte. Also there were my friends Kris Perry and Sandy Stier. My Rehoboth friends Margie Moore and Sheree Mixell.

Then it was on to the “Celebration of Diversity” with many groups including Q Street sponsoring the event. Having served on the Steering Committee of Q Street for a number of years I understand how important this group is. Former President of Q Street Daniel Penchina was there as were Nick Martin, Rob Hall, Aaron Tax and James “Tres” Bailey III. Another host from one of the other participating organizations was Leann Petersen. It was a great event.

Then it was off to the Wells Fargo Center for the third day of the convention itself. I am always amazed at how in a crowd of thousands one always runs into the same people over and over. Not sure what that says about us but it is fun. Sat on the stairs in the press area with Vincent Ryan, and when I walked the floor bumped into Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Guy Cecil. Also D.C. Democratic Party Chair Anita Bonds and New Yorker Jeff Campagna. An amazing night with great entertainment and speeches. Gabby Giffords brought the house down. Michael Bloomberg managed to eviscerate Donald Trump in 10 minutes. Jill Biden introducing her husband Joe Biden who gave one of his better speeches and then VP nominee Tim Kaine who again showed why Hillary named him as her vice president. He is strong, progressive and passionate and will fight for her and for all Americans. Then came what can only be considered the frosting on the cake. Our amazing President Obama delivered what in the old days would be called a barnburner. He built up Hillary and tore into Trump and got the convention moving and excited. He was able to once again bring people together with the chant ‘yes we can’ and said he was ready to “pass the baton.”

And the surprise when he finished his speech and nominee Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to thank him and hug him and they joined hands and held them high. We will go from one incredible president who made history to the next who will make history again. That is why Democrats are “stronger together.”

Now it’s just one more day and we get the main course. There will be an introduction of the nominee by her daughter Chelsea Clinton and then its Hillary’s turn. I can’t wait!



Why you should celebrate pride with a musical about GenderCannibalism?

Rose: You Are What You Eat, through June 23 at Woolly Mammoth.



Photo courtesy of Woolly Mammoth.

Because when I came out as trans my aunt told me it was because I ate my twin in the womb…and that’s what the show is about

Because…remember that time when you decided to dress like exactly like your older sister; or you stole your mothers’ makeup or your brother’s tie; or you decided to dress up like Katherine Hepburn for halloween when you were (i dunno) 10; or you started to look eerily like your lover…..that’s all gender cannibalism

Because because because because because….” because if you know that song this was made for you…and if you don’t…it’s okay, we’ll work on it

Because you can probably find a cute date at the show irl instead of just swiping in your phone…think of theater as an in person dating app without as much drunkenness as the bar

Because maybe that cute date is me

Because you can sing along to music written by a bunch of queers from Philly and D.C. 

Because we are all so hungry and so so thirsty 

Because I guarantee you will leave feeling fed

Because cannibalism puns are tasty

Because it’s a comedy

Because there are pay-what-you-can tickets

Because it plays all of June

Because we are consuming gender all the time but rarely watching what and how we eat it 

Because it’s an anti-assimilationist endeavor: the corporations can’t co-opt “gender cannibalism” for pride month (but there is merchandise available at the show…)

Because it’s only 75 minutes

Because I dance around in tighty whities with socks on my hands

Because there is a free clothing swap and treats in the gallery next to the show

Because why not?

Because you will be cast as my Mother, and that’s the role of a lifetime (or at least my lifetime)

Because you won’t know what will happen; you can’t pause or rewind the show; you will be taking a risk; you will find it’s more than just entertainment; you will feel me talking right to you

Because I’ve been writing this show for 34 years and am finally ready to share it with you

Because I’ll be in the lobby afterwards to say hi, and receive hugs, stories, and phone numbers 

Because I made this piece for you, my dear deviants, trans folx, genderful ones and for the people that care for us. It is a good laugh and a good cry and meant as a gift, a way to end your day feeling loved, nourished and worthy

Because don’t you want to be nourished and reminded that you are loved and worthy? 

And frankly because art needs you to survive and you need art to thrive

Because I took the time to write this letter to you and you took the time to read it, and neither you nor I want to waste that investment

Because you won’t want to miss it

Get tickets to Rose: You Are What You Eat, playing through June 23rd.

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Elon Musk is a danger to society

X has become a warped platform that spews anti-trans hate



Elon Musk (Photo by shganti777/Bigstock)

Elon Musk is officially a danger to society. As of mid May of 2024,, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has started banning accounts that use the word “cisgender” or “cis,” deriding it as a slur. For those who don’t know, “cisgender” refers to any person whose gender aligns with the genitalia they were assigned at birth. Erasing the word “cisgender” from tweets, or remarks, ensures that gender nonconforming people can’t articulate the bigotry they feel in this world. 

Musk has been notorious for his transphobia. It didn’t just start in mid-May of this year. In June of 2023, during Pride month, Musk liked a bunch of transphobic tweets. For instance, he promoted the Matt Walsh documentary, “What is a Woman?”, which was a film in transmisogyny. 

Moreover, in July of 2022, Musk’s transgender teenage daughter sought separation from her father because he was hateful toward her and bullied her because of her gender identity. In December 2022, Musk tweeted “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” mocking the words that transgender people need to enunciate who we are. This wasn’t the first time that Musk mocked pronouns. 

Musk is becoming increasingly dangerous toward trans people, especially as takes on a new dimension — turning into a warped platform that spews conspiracy views, including right-wing thoughts that trans people shouldn’t exist, and other ultraconservative opinions. 

What adds heavy weight to the danger that Musk poses is the relative success of his companies and the wealth, measured in dollars, that he carries on his shoulders. SpaceX is valued at around $180 billion, and Tesla is worth approximately $571 billion. The more wealth Musk accumulates, the more power is attached to his transphobia. Already, he is consciously allowing employees within his companies to mock transgender people. Having a CEO who openly teases a marginalized population is a recipe for that company to tease said population as well. 

As a former small business owner, I’m actually a huge fan of Musk’s work. The billionaire is brilliant beyond belief, and, after being bullied in school in South Africa, earned degrees in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania. At one point, he was working so hard on one of his first startups that he often slept in the office and showered at a local YMCA. In interviews, it is clear that Musk borders, if not embodies, genius. His intellectual prowess is second to none. 

Additionally, the mogul has been open about his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and bipolar disorder. It’s impressive, to say the least, that Musk has racked up all of these accomplishments despite having these diseases of the mind and body. He has vocalized his use of ketamine therapy, for instance, in treating his bipolar, which is a ballsy move to make as CEO. 

Unfortunately, though, Musk just won’t stop with his transphobia. He is making a non-democratic place for sponsored conspiratorial speech, and banning words is the farthest thing from freedom, which is a virtue he claims to embody. 

Many scholars of Elon have noted that he lives in a distorted reality, and I have to agree with that sentiment. Banning “cisgender” from is certainly a distorted thing to do, and should be looked upon as a danger to society. 

Isaac Amend is a writer based in the D.C. area. With two poetry books out, he writes for the Blade and the Yale Daily News. He is a transgender man and was featured in National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution” documentary. He serves on the board of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia. Contact him at [email protected] or on Instagram at: @literatipapi

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Mayor of Salisbury, Md. is the Grinch who stole Pride

Randolph Taylor masks his homophobia with cowardly ‘neutrality’ claim



Randolph ‘The Grinch’ Taylor, mayor of Salisbury, Md.

Salisbury is a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, probably best known for its university of about 7,000 undergraduate students. It’s also home to a robust and growing Pride celebration.

But this will mark the first time in five years that a Pride flag will not fly at city hall for Pride month, as the Blade reported last week.

“The administration’s position on the PFLAG kick-off is very simple,” Mayor Randolph Taylor said to the Blade. “That is, to be neutral. Neutrality is not to be interpreted as anything else but simply that — being neutral.“ (PFLAG has served as an organizer of Salisbury Pride events.)

Nicole Hollywood, an official with PFLAG Salisbury, told the Blade the group received an email from the city informing them of the change.

“We simply got an email saying that ‘we’re evaluating the use of city assets for cultural events,’ and ‘we don’t feel it’s appropriate moving forward to hang flags that represent special interest groups.’”

So Salisbury’s LGBTQ residents now constitute a “special interest group” rather than a minority community facing growing backlash, hatred, and discrimination in a rural part of the state? This lame, ham-handed excuse barely disguises the cowardice, homophobia, and transphobia at play here. No elected public official should be “neutral” when it comes to the rights, dignity, and equality of their constituents.

We are painfully aware of the growing influence of MAGA-inspired hate groups like the ironically named Moms for Liberty, that are working overtime to bully public officials into banning LGBTQ-themed books, pulling support for Pride events, and otherwise rendering our community invisible again. They want us back in the closet where we can’t disrupt their plans to establish a Christian theocracy. 

Mayor Taylor is merely the latest rube in a pathetic and long line of cowardly public officials to kowtow to this madness, inspired by their Dear Leader Donald Trump, a convicted felon who has validated the worst impulses and bigotry of Americans from coast to coast. What happened to leaders who lead? What happened to the Ronald Reagan Republicans who wanted the government out of our lives, embraced immigrants, and fought Russian aggression? Reagan couldn’t get elected dog catcher in the modern GOP.

But back to Taylor — the Grinch who stole Pride. He is the mayor of a small town and he has the cojones to match. Let’s hope the business community, including the influential local university, speaks out to denounce this hateful attack on Pride — because that’s precisely what it is. By shrinking the public spaces where LGBTQ people feel comfortable and safe, officials like Taylor are playing into the hands and the sick agenda of the MAGA crowd. When LGBTQ people are attacked and “othered,” our queer youth suffer and die. Shame on Mayor Taylor for caving to such hatred and betraying his LGBTQ constituents during the most important month of the year for our visibility. The good people and the LGBTQ residents of Salisbury deserve better.

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at [email protected].

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