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Diane Rehm successor is not who you’d expect

Out ‘1A’ host Joshua Johnson is passionate journalist first and foremost

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Joshua Johnson, gay news, Washington Blade

Joshua Johnson says launching a new daily two-hour radio show is a ‘mountain of work even under the best of circumstances.’ (Photo courtesy WAMU)

It was last Halloween weekend when Joshua Johnson got the call that he’d been named Diane Rehm’s successor.

Rehm, who began her eponymous National Public Radio call-in show in 1979, retired in December and as of Jan. 2, WAMU broadcasts a new show, “1A” in what had been “The Diane Rehm Show’s” timeslot.

Johnson had subbed for Rehm two days last September and shadowed her another day. Based in San Francisco for the last six-and-a-half years where he was morning news host for KQED while also teaching podcasting at the University of California (Berkeley), Johnson was in Palm Springs visiting friends with Joe Gallagher, his boyfriend of a year and a half, when he got the call. He says it’s a moment he’d been working toward since age 6.

“This wave of peace washed over me and I just got very calm,” says the 36-year-old South Florida native. “It was like my fists finally unclenched after weeks of waiting. I didn’t have that moment of, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to do the show.’ It was just kind of like, ‘Finally — I’ve been waiting on this for my entire life and now it’s going to happen.”

“1A” is a live, two-hour daily WAMU radio program distributed nationally by NPR each weekday at 10 a.m. that seeks to “provide deep conversation about the thorniest issues of our time delivered with insight, intimacy and personality.” It’s both a new, freestanding show but also a successor to the Rehm show, whose “legacy of civil dialogue and analysis” its team hopes to continue.

Producers were initially almost certain they’d hire a woman to succeed Rehm.

“We weren’t 100 percent sure, but you know, sort of in the high 80s or 90s,” says Rupert Allman, “1A’s” executive producer. Johnson won the search team over, Allman says, with his “huge relatability.”

“There was something about his own curiosity and his manner that was really appealing,” he says. “Especially the idea that he was very much interested in civil dialogue, taking time to develop arguments and not always chasing the next shiny ball. Those pieces came together and the stars began to align and that was it.”

Nobody’s universally loved in this era of Internet trolling, but early signs are strong for Johnson. “1A” is being carried on 204 stations with more expected in April (“The Diane Rehm Show” was carried on 198) and WAMU says the show was the No. 1 regional performer in its time slot throughout January, the latest month for which figures were available. WAMU says it expects the show will have a weekly audience of about 2.5 million soon based on early numbers.

Johnson, as loquacious as you’d expect, sat with the Blade in a WAMU conference room on Feb. 16. His comments have been edited for length.

WASHINGTON BLADE: How do you feel it’s going so far?

JOSHUA JOHNSON: It’s going well. Very, very busy. There’s no lack of things to talk about for sure, but it’s good. Launching a national show, any new show, is a heavy lift to say the least, but we have an amazingly good team and we’ve had lots of support from listeners and stations. We’ve found interesting ways to talk about what’s going on in the world and to divert from the headlines that have everyone’s attention to talk about other topics that may be getting lost in the shuffle around the new administration. And we’ve also found ways to take a breath and just do topics that are fun or different as a little relief from the top of the news cycle, so I think it’s been good.

BLADE: What’s your strategy to turn this into more of a Johnny Carson-to-Jay Leno kind of succession as opposed to, say, a Pat Sajak kind-of thing?

JOHNSON: The only thing we can do is control each day’s program and that’s what I try to focus on. I never worry about the 37 years that came before me. That’s Diane’s legacy and that’s solid and done. …. If you worry too much about the distant future, you miss the opportunity to really knock out today.

BLADE: Has the learning curve been about what you thought it would be?

JOHNSON: I tried to come in with very few expectations other than it would be really, really hard and it has been. …. But we’ve gone down from me working like 16-17-hour days to more like 12-13, so that’s a big step forward. … It’s just a mountain of work even under the best of circumstances.

BLADE: What’s been your favorite episode so far?

JOHNSON: I don’t have one. We did a Sunday show a few weeks ago on the immigration ban and we just let stations air it if they wanted to. … But we probably haven’t done my favorite show yet or even conceived of it. I think for me to start grabbing onto favorites at this point would set the bar too low for what we want to be. I don’t think what we’ve done in our first month will compare to what we’ll be doing a year from now or five years from now.

BLADE: When things are crazy, do you get energized or stressed by that?

JOHNSON: Probably a little bit of both. I tend to be the kind of person that the crazier things are around me, the calmer I get, which is how I survived breaking news. … But you have to be on the outer edge of your comfort zone in order to grow, so I just accepted that that was going to be the way it was going to be some days or maybe even most days.

BLADE: Was it hard to leave San Francisco?

JOHNSON: It was really, really hard … but this opportunity was worth it.

BLADE: Have you had any time to explore Washington much yet?

JOHNSON: No. I live a few blocks from the station here in Van Ness, so I walk to work because I cannot take a snow day. And everything I need is right here, the grocery store, the gym and so on. Once I get a better handle on the workload, I’ll be able to get out more and see the city.

BLADE: Were you intimidated to accept?

JOHNSON: Not really. …. I think I was more grateful and humble. … I felt very ready. Like, “Yeah — I’ve been preparing for this for 30-plus years.”

BLADE: You say you had this dream since age 5 or 6. How was this type of thing even on your radar at that age?

JOHNSON: Well, Kermit the Frog played a reporter on “Sesame Street.” …. I grew up seeing Ed Bradley on “60 Minutes” or Bernard Shaw on CNN or Dwight Lauderdale on my local Miami ABC station. Seeing those black men doing what I wanted to do just instantly clicked for me. I always had an affinity for broadcasting. I just didn’t know what form it would take.

BLADE: So was it something you chose or did it choose you?

JOHNSON: Well, it has to be both. Just because destiny knocks doesn’t mean you have to answer. It went through a lot of permutations of whether I would answer or how I would answer and then eventually it became that one thing that I knew if I didn’t go after, I’d regret the rest of my life.

BLADE: Had you been a big listener of “The Diane Rehm Show”?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I listened to her in South Florida on the station where I grew up, WLRN. I never thought I’d be her successor, but yeah, I listened to her for years.

BLADE: How do you decide on the balance between meat-and-potatoes news topics and lighter stuff? 

JOHNSON: I don’t think it’s a matter of balancing lightness against substance. The show we did on country music was very substantive. What we’re always trying to figure out is what is it about today’s show that a fan would tell their friends, “You gotta listen to today’s ‘1A.’” Why? How do you answer that? if you start there and work backwards, you can build a great show. So even if it’s a lighter topic like country music today or the Grammy Awards or the Super Bowl, we never want it to feel like, “OK everybody, we know life is really hard so we’re just gonna give you some sugar and candy for an hour.” That’s not good enough. Even if it’s not politics or not some trouble-in-the-world topic, it still has to be time well spent. Plus, I get bored easily, so I get tired of talking about the troubles of the world all day. …. It can’t be all sugar but it can’t be all steak.

BLADE: Some people are saying there’s been more sugar though lately. The Super Bowl show got some flak. 

JOHNSON: It depends whose table you’re dining at. I think there are different ways to talk about different things. I did have a listener who got very snooty about the Super Bowl show …. but there are many aspects to a cultural event like that that are worthy of discussion. … Just because people listen to NPR doesn’t mean they don’t watch football and just because they listen to NPR doesn’t mean they don’t like pop music.

BLADE: True, but hasn’t NPR always sort of been that hub where you could get something you couldn’t just get anywhere else? If ESPN is doing round-the-clock sports coverage, do we really need to hear about sports on NPR too? 

JOHNSON: But we don’t talk about the Super Bowl like ESPN would talk about it. We didn’t get caught up in stats and who’s up and who’s down. We talked about it more broadly, about what was going on in Houston and sort of the politics around the event, the cost of buying an ad there and so on. We tried to make it really fun. One thing public media serves is to give people a diverse view on the world. Anybody who thinks public media is designed to be all meat and potatoes all the time has clearly never heard “Car Talk” or “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me.” … These are just wonderful shows that are about interesting things that make life worthwhile and we can’t pretend that doesn’t matter.

BLADE: Does the “1A” format give you more opportunity to weigh in than other journalism posts you’ve had?

JOHNSON: No. My job is still to be an analyst of the day’s events. This is not the Joshua Johnson show. It’s not my platform to tell you what I think about the news. I’m still a reporter. But that doesn’t mean I can’t call out inconsistencies. The other day we had a guest who kind of fudged an answer on climate change and I (called him out). But I can do it in a way that hews to evidence and fact and not just my belief.

BLADE: There’s so much obfuscation in partisan discussions, though. How do you press people for clarity without sounding partisan, at least at times?

JOHNSON: The way we’ve been doing it —what we do works. You do your homework, you do smart shows, you ask smart questions and you don’t worry about whether people like you or are comfortable with it. I’m here to perform a service as a journalist. … For me to start worrying about it now is to doubt the very reasons I came here. Facts still matter, the truth is still the truth and there are still such things as facts. People know and understand what the NPR standard is and outlets that don’t follow that standard — I don’t need to worry about people who deal in that kind of foolishness.

BLADE: How do you decide if you’re going to pick up a thread after a break or not? 

JOHNSON: It depends what’s coming up after the break. If we have a guest we need to get to or we have other questions that segue into that thought. Being in the studio is basically air traffic control because we have guests in the studio, remote guests, my script, my questions, I’m watching the clock, I have a timer that counts down to certain elements, then I have another screen that shows me e-mails and Tweets and Facebook posts and if we receive a voicemail during the show, we can play that. I have my laptop, which has more communication, I’m in touch with the control room and the newsroom upstairs and it’s all happening at once. There are all these different elements that I have to make balance so it’s a lot of plate spinning. It will be different every single day and I have to figure out in the moment what we’re going to next and if it’s duplicative of what we just said, how much time we have left and so on.

BLADE: How many people work on the show and are any of them veterans of Diane’s show?

JOHNSON: I think we have 11. Two of them were former producers on her team. The rest are new hires.

BLADE: Do you anticipate getting more mileage out of the Trump administration than you otherwise would have?

JOHNSON: There’s more to life in Washington so I don’t look to any one sector of the news as my bread and butter. … Also, public radio is very committed to the idea of localism … so we can’t allow the current political climate to eclipse all of that because then you’re basically saying that localism doesn’t matter anymore … so we keep that all in perspective.

BLADE: Even though “1A” is distributed throughout the country, doesn’t it seem slightly odd considering WAMU’s push for live and local to have brought you in from San Francisco? Some listeners were predicting a Washington person. Do you know how many names were in the hat? 

JOHNSON: I don’t. I’ve heard different numbers but I honestly don’t know nor do I know who they were. As for live and local, we are live and we are a program from WAMU. I think it’s important to the DNA of public radio that local stations are a provider of national programming (gives examples). We are Washington’s NPR station and we think the ability of WAMU to produce shows like “1A” and “Big Listen” is something we can be proud of. (Allman says Johnson’s outsider status was a plus. “[We liked that] he wasn’t from D.C., is not wowed by the Beltway. He brings a completely different perspective on the country. He gives the audience something new, someone they didn’t know so it doesn’t just seem like the business of shuffling people around.”)

BLADE: You seem at times a bit more abrupt than Diane. Do you agree?

JOHNSON: I try not to be. If I interrupt, I try to apologize for it unless they’re just going off the deep end. I try to be as respectful as I can but that doesn’t mean we have time to let everybody finish their thought.

BLADE: How serious are you and your boyfriend? Any plans for him to move out here eventually as well?

JOHNSON: He owns a barbershop in San Francisco so there are some moving parts we’d have to figure out. For now, we’re doing the bicoastal thing. We’ll make it work.

BLADE: Is Millennial engagement a big push at NPR? Are NPR stations seeing the drop-off we hear about at the orchestra, the ballet, the mainline churches and so on? 

JOHNSON: Millennials have gotten a bad rap. They consume immense amounts of news and information — they just do it differently. There are a lot of NPR member stations that are trying to be where younger audiences are. … We’re also getting better at saying, “Hey, maybe we don’t have a relationship now, but check this out.” Or, “We’ll try to make ourselves available in a bunch of different ways and if you only listen once or twice, that’s cool.” Or, “If you’re a fan of this podcast or station but don’t yet understand why you should give, fine.” … We’re getting better at accepting people where they are in the continuum of use in public radio. …. I think the institutions that do well are going to be the ones that skate harder in the direction the puck is going, not just going in the direction they wish it would go.

BLADE: You told Diane Rehm you hoped race would inform the program but not be the lens of the program. What’s the difference?

JOHNSON: Well, it’s about taking the experiences of your life and using them to add context to a conversation. You know, my lens on life is that I’m an African-American man in the 20th and 21st century. I can’t pretend that’s not who I am. So for me to pretend that it’s not or to pretend that I view life with no conception of race, that would be a lie. I have to acknowledge my life experiences. But at the same time as a journalist, I can step out of those experiences and try to view something from another person’s perspective. I can’t step outside of what I won’t acknowledge. It’s like taking off a shirt you don’t admit you put on. I have to own the truth of my life … but I don’t want people to feel like it’s a black man’s perspective on the news or that I’m a black man doing the news. Because I own the totality of who I am, I can step out of it as a journalist and say, “OK, let me see how people with different life experiences than me view this.”

BLADE: Did either being gay or being black pose any career hindrances?

JOHNSON: I don’t think either one was detrimental. I grew up in South Florida, which is a very gay-friendly news market. … I made a decision early on that I couldn’t make a career out of telling the truth about everyone else’s life while lying about my own. I knew eventually one of those lies would come back to bite me because one of them would be leverage for someone to use over me, so I decided I just needed to own the whole truth of my life and not let that be an impediment to my success. … Once you as a gay man deal with shame and you learn how poisonous it is, it can give you the leverage to never impute that shame on other people because it never helps, it never lifts up, it never clarifies, it never improves anything. … It burns everything it touches, so I just decided not to play with that fire because I knew what that burn feels like.

BLADE: That’s profound — what age were you? I wouldn’t have been able to articulate any of that at 16, 17, 18.

JOHNSON: I wouldn’t have been able to say that to you at that age either but I tend to be a very logical person but growing up in the Baptist church … I just thought to myself, the scriptures say you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Well, this is the truth of my life. There has to be some freedom in here somewhere and I just held on to that. This is what the book says. This has to make sense somehow. That thought process always served me well as a journalist so how do these two things lock together? I just allowed that process to play out.

BLADE: But you make it sound so tidy. Surely there was some angst at some point, no?

JOHNSON: Oh, of course there was. This was just the ending. But yeah, there were times it was awful, it was terrible. Coming out sucks even under the best of circumstances. But working through that gave me a way to figure out where my inner reservoir of toughness came from in terms of career. I knew I had this dream and I was too greedy to give up on it.

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1 Comment

  1. Chas in AdMo

    March 17, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    This talented, wildly intelligent, and prematurely wise gentleman has already proven to be a significant asset to NPR and to the DC community. I’m so very glad you profiled him.

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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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Need a list-minute gift idea?

Books, non-profit donations make thoughtful choices

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‘Yes, Daddy’ by Jonathan Parks-Ramage is the story of a young man with dying dreams of fame and fortune, who schemes to meet an older man.

You knew this was coming.

You knew that you were going to have to finish your holiday shopping soon but it snuck up on you, didn’t it? And even if you’re close to being done, there are always those three or five people who are impossible to buy for, right? Remember this, though: books are easy to wrap and easy to give, and they last a while, too. So why not head to the bookstore with your Christmas List and look for these gifts.

And if you still have people to shop for, why not make a donation to a local non-profit in their name? A list of D.C.-area suggestions follows.

BOOKS: NONFICTION

If there’s about to be a new addition to your family, wrapping up “Queer Stepfamilies: The path to Social and Legal Recognition” by Katie L. Acosta would be a good thing. In this book, the author followed forty LGBTQ families to understand the joys, pitfalls, and legalities of forming a new union together. It can’t replace a lawyer, but it’s a good overview.

For the parent who wants to ensure that their child grows up with a lack of bias, “Raising LGBTQ Allies” by Chris Tompkins is a great book to give. It’s filled with methods to stop bullying in its tracks, to be proactive in having That Conversation, and how to be sure that the next generation you’re responsible for becomes responsible in turn. Wrap it up with “The Healing Otherness Handbook” by Stacee L. Reicherzer, Ph.D., a book that helps readers to deal with bullying by finding confidence and empowerment.

If there’s someone on your gift list who’s determined to get “fit” in the coming year, then give “The Secret to Superhuman Strength” by Alison Bechdel this holiday. Told in graphic-novel format (comics, basically), it’s the story of searching for self-improvement and finding it in a surprising place.

So why not give a little nostalgia this year by wrapping up “A Night at the Sweet Gum Head” by Martin Padgett? It’s the tale of disco, drag, and drugs in the 1970s (of course!) in Atlanta, with appearances by activists, politics, and people who were there at that fabulous time. Wrap it up with “After Francesco” by Brian Malloy, a novel set a little later – in the mid-1980s in New York City and Minneapolis at the beginning of the AIDS crisis.

The LGBTQ activist on your gift list will want to read “The Case for Gay Reparations” by Omar G. Encarnacion. It’s a book about acknowledgment, obligation on the part of cis citizens, and fixing the pain that homophobia and violence has caused. Wrap it up with “Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender” by Stef M. Shuster, a look at trans history that may also make your giftee growl.

FICTION

Young readers who have recently transitioned will enjoy reading “Both Sides Now” by Peyton Thomas. It’s a novel about a high school boy with gigantic dreams and the means to accomplish them all. Can he overcome the barriers that life gives him? It’s debatable… Pair it with “Can’t Take That Away” by Steven Salvatore, a book about two nonbinary students and the troubles they face as they fall in love.

The thriller fan on your list will be overjoyed to unwrap “Yes, Daddy” by Jonathan Parks-Ramage. It’s the story of a young man with dying dreams of fame and fortune, who schemes to meet an older, more accomplished man with the hopes of sparking his failing career. But the older man isn’t who the younger thinks he is, and that’s not good. Wrap it up with “Lies with Man” by Michael Nava, a book about a lawyer who agrees to be counsel for a group of activists. Good so far, right? Until one of them is accused of being involved in a deadly bombing.

For the fan of Southern fiction, you can’t go wrong when you wrap up “The Tender Grave” by Sheri Reynolds. It’s the tale of two sisters, one homophobic, the other lesbian, and how they learn to forgive and re-connect.

NON-PROFIT GIVING

Like nonprofit organizations throughout the country, D.C.-area LGBTQ supportive nonprofit groups have told the Blade they continue to rebuild amid the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted their fundraising efforts while increasing expenses, at least in part by prompting more people to come to them for help.

This holiday season, if you’re looking for a thoughtful gift, consider making a donation to one of our local LGBTQ non-profit organizations in someone else’s name. This list is by no means exhaustive, but a good place to start your research.

Contributions to the LGBTQ supportive nonprofit organizations can be made via the websites of these local organizations:

• Blade Foundation, which funds local scholarships and fellowships for queer student journalists, bladefoundation.org

• DC Center, our local community center that operates a wide range of programming,  thedccenter.org/donate

Food & Friends, which delivers meals to homebound patients, foodandfriends.org

HIPS, which advances the health rights and dignity of those impacted by sex work and drugs, hips.org

• SMYAL, which advocates for queer youth, smyal.org

Wanda Alston Foundation, which offers shelter and support for LGBTQ youth, wandaalstonfoundation.org

• Whitman-Walker Health, the city’s longtime LGBTQ-inclusive health care provider, whitmanwalkerimpact.org

Casa Ruby, which provides shelter and services to youth in need, casaruby.org

• Us Helping Us, which helps improve the health of communities of color and works to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Black community, ushelpingus.org/donate

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