Connect with us


Baltimore mayor honors LGBTQ leaders at reception

Celebrating ‘42 years of rallying together’



Baltimore Pride reception, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (center) with this year’s Pride honorees. (Blade photo by Steve Charing)

About 50 people attended a reception at City Hall on June 12 in which Baltimore Mayor Catherine F. Pugh bestowed mayoral medallions upon leaders of the LGBTQ community. The event, which kicked off the final week before Baltimore Pride, was the first LGBTQ awards ceremony to take place at City Hall in connection with the annual celebration.

After preliminary introductions that included Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, the 2017 Queen of Pride Dee A. Diamond, and executive director of the Center for Black Equity Baltimore Carlton Smith, Pugh noted “42 years of rallying together” in displaying the mayor’s proclamation celebrating Pride month.

“The more we understand that that we have more in common than we are different, the better we will be,” Pugh said. “LGBT residents are invaluable to our city. How wonderful your contributions have been to our society.”

Pugh presented the medallions to the following:

Lillian Amaya, co-founder of IRIS (Individuality, Respect, Integrity, Sexuality), an organization that promotes unity among the various Baltimore Latino LGBTQ communities; Sgt. Kevin Bailey, a gay officer serving as the Baltimore Police Department’s LGBT liaison; Ian James, who works with STAR TRACK, an organization which seeks to improve the health of youth and young adults in the city and the state; and Del. Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore’s 43rd legislative district, the first openly LGBTQ member of the state legislature and who has been in the forefront of the movement to expand LGBTQ rights in Maryland.

In addition, medallions were given to: Mark McLaurin, the political director for SEIU Maryland and D.C. and is co-chair of Police Commissioner Davis’ LGBT Advisory Committee; Merrick Moise, the LGBTQ Community Liaison for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office; Kenneth Morrison, co-executive director of the GLBT Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB); Ava Pipitone, executive director of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance, the only peer-run transgender advocacy organization in Baltimore; and Steve Ziger, who serves on several boards including the Baltimore Community Foundation where he is co-chair for the LGBTQ focus group.

“I am incredibly honored to receive this award,” Merrick Moise, the only transgender African-American man who was a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, told the Blade.

“The City of Baltimore is showing its commitment to our community. We have a long way to go but we are making strides,” he said.



Elected officials turn out for annual Equality NoVa Ice Cream Social

Northern Virginia LGBTQ group stresses ‘political awareness, education’



Freddie Lutz, on right, and his husband Johnny Cervantes host the annual ice cream social. (Photo courtesy of Lutz)

Four LGBTQ supportive members of the Virginia General Assembly and two candidates running for seats on the Arlington County Board were among more than 100 people who turned out on Sunday, Sept. 24, for the LGBTQ organization Equality NoVa’s annual Ice Cream Social.

The event was held at the Arlington, Va. home of Freddie Lutz, owner of the Arlington gay bar and restaurant Freddie’s Beach Bar, and Lutz’s husband, Johnny Cervantes.

Daniel Hays, president of Equality NoVa, told those attending the event in introductory remarks that Equality NoVa, which recently changed its name from the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA), was founded in 1981 and is the oldest continuously operating LGBTQ organization in Virginia.

In an announcement in April the group said the name change came after it had taken on for some time the activities and representation of the now-defunct LGBTQ groups in Alexandria and Fairfax counties and had expanded its operations to cover most if not all the regions known as Northern Virginia.

Hays noted that the group is a nonpartisan organization that doesn’t endorse candidates for public office but organizes educational and political awareness events and awareness campaigns on issues impacting LGBTQ people related to statewide and local government agencies and officials.

The elected officials attending the event were Virginia House of Delegates members Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria & Fairfax), Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (D-Alexandria & Arlington), and Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax).

Also attending was Virginia State Sen. Barbara Favola, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun Counties.

Joining the state lawmakers attending the Equality NoVa social were Arlington County Board candidates Maureen Coffey and Susan Cunningham and Arlington County School Board candidate Miranda Turner.

Many of those attending the event said they were rooting for the re-election of Herring, Bennett-Parker, Watts, and Favola in the upcoming Virginia elections in November. All members and candidates for the General Assembly will be on the ballot in an election that political observers say could decide which party controls both houses of the state legislature.

Currently, Democrats control the 40-member Virginia Senate by a margin of 22-18 seats. Republicans currently control the House of Delegates by a margin of 51 to 46 seats, with three vacancies in the 100-member House.

With Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) putting in place through executive action public school policies that LGBTQ activists consider hostile and discriminatory for transgender students, LGBTQ activists are hopeful that a Democratic takeover of the House of Delegates would result in a reversal of Youngkin’s school policy.

Some of the activists attending the Equality NoVa event said they were fearful that a Republican takeover of the state Senate and if Republicans retain control of the House of Delegates could result in the General Assembly approving the type of anti-LGBTQ legislation passed in Florida and other states.

Continue Reading


Anti-transgender heckler interrupts Danica Roem during debate

Trans lawmaker is running for the Va. state Senate



Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) speaks at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 23, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

An anti-transgender heckler interrupted Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) on Sept. 28 during a debate with her Republican opponent for the state Senate.

The woman heckled Roem during the Prince William Committee of 100-organized debate between her and Bill Woolf that took place at Metz Middle School in Manassas. 

“Thank you for reminding me why I won three elections in this district in Prince William County, which is the most diverse county in all of Virginia and the 10th most nationally where we welcome everyone because of who they are, not despite it, no matter what you look like, where you come from how you worship, if you do, or who you love because you should be able to thrive here because of who you are, never despite it,” said Roem.

Audience members applauded Roem after she responded to the heckler who was eventually removed from the auditorium.

Roem in 2017 defeated then-state Del. Bob Marshall, a vocal LGBTQ rights opponent who co-wrote Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman that voters approved 11 years earlier. Roem subsequently became the first openly transgender person seated in a state legislature in the U.S.

Roem in 2019 became the first out trans state legislator to win re-election. Roem in May 2022 announced she is running to represent the newly redistricted Senate District 30, which includes western Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

Woolf during the Sept. 28 debate did not say whether he would support the repeal of the marriage amendment. Woolf also reiterated his support of a bill that would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents.

Continue Reading


Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade