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Relatives, activists mourn trans advocate

Sharmus Outlaw succumbed to lymphoma

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Sharmus Outlaw, gay news, Washington Blade

Sharmus Outlaw’s family members at a memorial service at MCC Church (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

More than 20 family members of internationally known transgender and sex worker rights advocate Sharmus Outlaw joined LGBT activists for a memorial celebration of Outlaw’s life on Aug. 20 at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, D.C.

Outlaw, who most recently served a national policy advocate for the sex workers rights organization Best Practices Policy Project, died on July 7 at a hospice in Arlington, Va., from complications associated with lymphoma. She was 50.

Friends said she was a beloved figure and mentor to many in the D.C.-area transgender community through her advocacy work and numerous friendships.

“Sharmus Outlaw understood those who society marginalizes and the disenfranchised,” said Rev. Dyan Abena McCray-Peters, pastor of Unity Fellowship Church in D.C., in a eulogy for Outlaw.

“Sharmus was the Rosa Parks for the transgender community,” McCray-Peters said. “She was the Martin Luther King Jr. for those challenged with HIV/AIDS,” she said, adding, “God sent Sharmus Outlaw to this earth to do something special and she did it.”

Among those attending the memorial were Outlaw’s siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and nieces and nephews, including one baby and two small kids.

“We love you,” some of them said as McCray-Peters and others spoke of their interactions with Outlaw both professionally and personally.

D.C. transgender activists Ruby Corado, Earline Budd, and Darby Hickey each said Outlaw played an important role over the past dozen or more years in helping to improve the lives of transgender people.

Several of Outlaw’s family members, including her brother, referred to Outlaw as “he” and “him,” saying they understood and respected her transition as a trans woman but they could not think of her other than the person they knew and loved while growing up in North Carolina and later in suburban Maryland.

“We know they loved her and respected her despite the wrong pronouns,” said Budd, who noted that she has helped organize memorial services for numerous transgender women whose family members often grapple with how to describe their deceased loved ones.

At the conclusion of the service, Outlaw’s family members posed for a group photograph while standing in front of a poster size photo of Outlaw at the front of the church.

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Baltimore

Carlton R. Smith: LGBTQ advocate, ‘mayor’ of Mount Vernon, passes away

‘The Duchess’ died on May 29 in his sleep

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Carlton R. Smith, an LGBTQ advocate, died May 29. He was 61. (Photo courtesy of Carlton R. Smith)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | Carlton R. Smith was affectionately called “The Duchess” in a nod to royalty, because of his unofficial role of mayor of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. He was a “walking billboard” for Calvin Klein, with a love for purple, Batman, cooking, house music, Prince, and Diana Ross.

“If you said Duchess, you knew who that was,” said his close friend of 25-years, Carrietta Hiers.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Maryland

Moore pardons more than 175,000-plus cannabis-related convictions

Governor signed executive order at State House on Monday

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

BY BRENDA WINTRODE and PAMELA WOOD | Gov. Wes Moore pardoned more than 175,000 cannabis-related convictions Monday, nullifying guilty verdicts decided when carrying small amounts of the drug or paraphernalia was illegal.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order during a State House ceremony, granting clemency to thousands of people convicted in Maryland. The convictions to be pardoned include more than 150,000 misdemeanors for simple possession and more than 18,000 for possession of drug paraphernalia with an intent to use.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Local

Blade wins multiple journalism awards

Society of Professional Journalists recognizes writing, design work

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The D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored the work of the Washington Blade at its annual Dateline Awards dinner last week.

The Blade took top honors in the weekly newspaper editorial/opinion writing category for a piece by Michael Lavers, the Blade’s international news editor, titled, “Bearing witness to the unimaginable,” which recounted watching raw footage of Hamas’s attack against Israel on Oct. 7.

In it, Lavers wrote, “The Israeli government clearly wants the world to understand the barbarity of what happened on Oct. 7, and that is why it has shown footage of that horrific Saturday to journalists and lawmakers. The footage left me deeply shaken, and perhaps that was the point.”

Washington Blade graphic designer Meaghan Juba won the Dateline Award for front-page design in the weekly newspaper category.

And in the weekly newspaper-features category, the Blade’s Kathi Wolfe was recognized as a finalist for her piece titled, “Meet one of the most powerful disabled people on the planet.”

“These awards reflect our 55-year commitment to journalistic excellence,” said Blade Editor Kevin Naff. “Congratulations to our team for another year of award-winning journalism.”

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