September 27, 2016 at 2:45 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Clinton hailed as winner at D.C. debate parties
presidential debate, gay news, Washington Blade

The Human Rights Campaign hosted a presidential debate watch party at Number Nine on Sept. 26, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Nearly everyone cheered and applauded loudly each time Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton made a point they deemed important and groaned nearly as loudly when GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump sought to dispute or criticize Clinton’s remarks.

That was the sentiment during at least three debate parties Monday night, two of which were held at the D.C. gay bars Number Nine and Nellie’s and one at an L Street, N.W., restaurant hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and two other LGBT supportive groups.

“Hillary is crushing him – unquestionably,” said a D.C. resident who identified himself as Teddy and who joined about 200 or more others in watching the debate in the first-floor and upstairs rooms at Number Nine, the gay bar at 1435 P St., N.W.

“She’s prepared, she’s experienced. And there is no question that Donald Trump is so unqualified for this position,” said Teddy.

The debate watch party at Number Nine was hosted by the Human Rights Campaign.

About two miles away at Stoney’s restaurant and bar at 2102 L St., N.W., gay activist John Klenert said he was impressed with Clinton’s performance just 15 minutes after NBC News moderator Lester Holt asked the very first question of the evening.

“So far I see Mr. Trump acting totally non-presidential,” Klenert said. Asked how Clinton was doing, he said, “Very good. She is holding her own and coming out with good facts and good ideas.”

The debate watch party at Stoney’s was hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national group that raises money to elect LGBT candidates to public office, along with the LGBT supportive groups Latino Victory Fund and Environmental Defense Fund Action.

Like the crowds at Number Nine and Nellies, at 900 U St., N.W., the close to 200 or more people packed into Stoney’s were overwhelmingly supportive of Clinton.

The few known Trump supporters that turned out for Monday night’s LGBT debate parties assembled in one of the upstairs rooms at Nellie’s, according to Chris Allen, president of the D.C. Chapter of the national LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans. Allen and D.C. Log Cabin board member Andrew Desser were among about a dozen Log Cabin members who watched the debate at Nellie’s. Their attendance came less than a week after the D.C. Log Cabin group voted not to recommend that the national Log Cabin group endorse Trump for president.

“I think in this first debate Hillary was very prepared and Donald continued with his just kind of playing it by ear off the cuff,” Allen said. “I don’t think it earned him any new voters and I don’t think it detracted any votes,” he said.

Desser has said he is considering voting for Trump. At Monday night’s debate party he said he was surprised that Trump didn’t raise issues that could have resonated against Clinton, including her backing away from some of the policies of her husband, President Bill Clinton.

“I think it was pretty clear that he was not prepared tonight,” he said of Trump. “I’m pretty certain I will not vote for Hillary, added Desser. “It’s not because I don’t think Hillary Clinton is prepared to be president. I just disagree with her on a fundamental host of issues.”

Back at Number Nine, gay activist Jeffrey Hops said he had no second thoughts about voting for Clinton as the debate neared its completion.

“I think Hillary is blowing Donald Trump out of the water,” he said. “And Hillary is showing how significantly more adept she is than he can ever be. And I think the public response will certainly support that.”

Transgender activist and commentator Ashley Love, who also watched the debate at Number Nine, said Clinton won the debate “hands down.” But she said she was disappointed that a key issue important to the LGBT community wasn’t raised during the debate.

“I was disappointed that the moderator didn’t ask the question about what’s going on with transsexual and transgender Americans in North Carolina because legalized segregation and mis-gendering is unconstitutional,” Love said in describing what she believes is going on in North Carolina.

D.C. resident Audrey Wittington, 52, who watched the debate at Nellie’s, said that although she believes Clinton came out ahead in the debate she cautioned fellow Clinton supporters not to readily dismiss Trump.

“I think it would be disingenuous to throw out everything Trump said,” she told the Blade amid the background noise of music and conversations after the debate had ended. “I think it would be impossible for any of us who are going to vote for Hillary and support her to say that some of his comments don’t ring true with us. I think people who are Trump supporters probably heard it differently.”

Added Wittington: “So I think we all have to listen with open ears and open eyes.”

presidential debate, gay news, Washington Blade

Nellie’s Sports Bar held a presidential debate watch party on Monday. (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Yet Michelle Coletti, 36, of Reston, Va., who watched the debate at Number Nine, appeared to reflect the views of most of those who spoke to the Washington Blade at the three LGBT debate parties.

“Hillary definitely won,” said Coletti. “She definitely mopped the floors and if you look at it you wonder is this really happening? And whatever you think about either side I don’t think you can dispute what happened tonight.”

presidential debate, gay news, Washington Blade

Patrons watch the presidential debate at the D.C. gay bar JR.’s. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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