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Misguided attacks on Capital Pride

Don’t tear down our celebration to fix a few flaws

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No Justice No Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The group “No Justice No Pride” seems to have chosen the right name, as they appear to have neither. More importantly, they lack both historical context and forward-looking vision.

In 1971, police in D.C. and elsewhere were notoriously anti-LGBT (actually more anti-gay, since they largely ignored the other members of our community to concentrate on gay men). The fledgling Gay Activists Alliance (now the GLAA) had tried for nearly two years to schedule a meeting with the D.C. police chief to talk about the harassment, arrests, abuse and even blackmail being practiced by “D.C.’s Finest” but the chief refused to meet with LGBT people.

So a group of about a dozen staged a sit-in in the police chief’s office and, after occupying the office for about five hours, a smaller group of three — Bill Bricker, Cade Ware and myself — agreed that we would be arrested, the first arrests for LGBT civil disobedience in Washington.

When we went to trial some weeks later, we pled nolo contendere, since we knew we were guilty, but it gave us an opportunity to explain to the judge how long we had tried to get a meeting with the police, how we had been stymied in that, and why we had decided that civil disobedience was our only option. After deliberation, the judge returned and said, “Because you pled nolo contendere, I have no choice but to find you guilty. But if I had been in your position, I’d probably have done the same thing. No fine. No jail time. You are free to go.” Two weeks later, the police chief agreed to meet with us.

And that began a process. It started with communication, spread into the adoption of new training for police recruits (training that members of the LGBT community helped conduct), then spread to better screening of new recruits, to more inclusive direction by subsequent police chiefs, to the establishment of a Civilian Complaint Review Board and, eventually, to the creation of the LGBT Liaison Unit. LGBT victims of crime are now assisted by openly LGBT and LGBT-supportive police officers.

Are there still some officers who fail to live up to the standards we and their chief expect? Of course there are; in any group of thousands, there will always be a few bad officers. But the overwhelming majority of D.C.’s police force do their job without prejudice. By all means, keep up the oversight, continue to push for removal of those few bad officers, but at the same time, welcome those LGBT officers and those supportive officers to march with us, to celebrate with us, to continue to make progress in respecting all LGBT people in Washington.

There is merit in Pride looking closer at which corporate sponsorships are appropriate, but the executive board of Pride has already agreed to do that. As the founder of D.C.’s annual Pride Day event in 1975 and the sole sponsor of the event for the first five years, I have always been in favor of melding both political and social aspects in the celebration. It’s a time to celebrate our victories as well as to push for continued progress. For every commercial booth that lines Pennsylvania Avenue (and provides the bulk of the funding for the event), there are non-profit and activist booths offering Pride attendees ways to get involved. “No Justice No Pride” would be wise to participate there, too.

As for the call to remove members of Capital Pride’s executive board, that’s an insult to those who have dedicated so much time and effort to the community. If you look at their bios, you’ll see that they cross most gender and racial lines and they have long histories of work in LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations. Likewise, the Pride staff demonstrates that ALL are welcome to the effort.

Staging the parade, the block party, the entertainment, the parties, the workshops and all the other activities surrounding Pride is a huge undertaking. If you’ve read this far, consider volunteering to make it all even better. Just don’t tear it down in the process.

Deacon Maccubbin is the former owner of Lambda Rising and the founder of D.C.’s original Pride event in 1975.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Rick Rosendall

    June 15, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Superb. Thanks, Deacon.

  2. Mr. M

    June 15, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks Deacon. The bullying from these folks in the name of “social justice” is appalling.

  3. Cole Carter

    June 15, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you Deacon, you are a TRUE LGBTQ hero!

  4. Curious

    June 15, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Finally, an adult speaks, and schools the children about our history and how the demands and tactics of the “No Justice, No Pride” disruptors was a slap in the face to so, so many activists who have done far more for the community than pout and throw a vanity (“look at me! aren’t I cool?!”) tantrum about matters having nothing or very little to do with the LGBT community and movement specifically. How bigoted, in fact, to saddle the annual LGBT Pride celebration with an anti-police and anti-corporations/anti-capitalist protest. How very disgustingly bigoted. So many other marches and parades and events are held in DC that involve police and major corporate sponsors, sometimes exactly the same ones, and the “No Justice, No Pride” folks do nothing. But when gay, lesbian, bi and trans folks come together for an important cause, yeah… we’re the targets. We bear the brunt. As always.

  5. Gert

    June 16, 2017 at 2:50 am

    The protesters’ spokesman also objected to Edie Windsor being the parade grand marshal, simply because she is “a rich white woman.” What kind of allies would attack an 85-year-old widow who lost her partner of 45 years and then won a landmark marriage case before the Supreme Court?
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6c8dfc11c679cd6ea52b908ff93f9af0e913a3eb1ada42dac62026fdb214ab83.png

  6. Gert

    June 16, 2017 at 2:58 am

    The protesters’ spokesman also objected to Edie Windsor being the parade grand marshal, simply because she is “a rich white woman.” What kind of allies would attack an 85-year-old widow who lost her partner of 45 years and then won a landmark marriage case before the Supreme Court?

  7. LiberalDeacon

    June 16, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Thanks Deacon, but we can rest assured, the SJWs will resort to protesting again quite soon. It’s much easier to complain and interrupt than it is to govern.

  8. Glenn Priceless

    June 16, 2017 at 11:10 am

    “As the founder of D.C.’s annual Pride Day event in 1975 and the sole sponsor of the event for the first five years…”

    Oh, so then you were in fact 100% biased when writing this overly defensive diatribe. Are the fossils of the gay community getting angry watching their precious white male privilege come under attack? Nobody ever named you king.

    Now find a rocking chair, and stop acting so high & mighty your damned self old man. The only insult here is clearly you!

    • thecomiss

      June 19, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Glen you my dear are the worst. Join your friend Angela Peoples who has destroyed every gay organization she is associated with. I’m so sick of hearing this crap from ignorant folks like you. If you are so upset with Capitol Pride then you should do something to change it not stop it. Furthermore, I tired of Black Pride, Latino Pride, and Youth Pride. There is one Pride and only one PRIDE! That’s the way it should be PERIOD. When Black and White, Latino and Asian stand as one; that’s when we overcome. Don’t say that in the 21st century of the gay movement that these people are stopping you from making a point, creating change and making an event even better! So cut the crap and either get on the bus or get off. We don’t need any more haters in this world never mind our own community! I call for the joining of all gay forces to make next year ONE PRIDE!

      • Glenn Priceless

        June 19, 2017 at 4:14 pm

        “Furthermore, I tired of Black Pride, Latino Pride, and Youth Pride.”

        Oh another white man painting himself as the victim. Nice try. And don’t you mean hate!? We know you do. So don’t forget to mention that you’re also a lifelong white supremacist/misanthrope who hates all races, genders, age groups, sexualities, and yourself too!

        So while you have the nerve to point fingers talking about “who’s the worst” don’t forget to include yourself, because it seems you overlooked the obvious. And you want to know what we’re tired of? Try your overly defensive white privilege hatemongering! Now can the vitriol grandpa, because you’re only proving my point!

        You want one pride? What for? So you can claim it’s “your tent pole” all over again? I can still remember how hard the Latino tried to part of this DC community back in the nineties. How many years did it take for the Latinos to win Best Float in the parade when everyone unanimously said they won? Did they ever? Did Escandalo really close with the Latinos receiving zero redemption for their efforts due to white privilege defensiveness? That’s you, and you haven’t changed in twenty years! I’m just glad the new generation isn’t fooled! They see you for what you really are, and I support them 100%!

        You’re the worst. Now get off the internet racist grandpa, and drink that bucket of bleach already!

        • thecomiss

          June 19, 2017 at 6:01 pm

          Really so you might want to see my family tree before you point those fingers! We are black, latino, Asian even Iranian! What I can’t stand for is a group of totalitarian folks trying too ruin an event! Have you seen the board of Capital pride they are black, white, Latino, Jewish and trans gender! So instead of trying to make a change from within.. you and ur posse have only shown that the tactics have back fired and the support is not on your side! Don’t even get me started about the Latino community because I have been huge in making sure Latinos had a seat at the table! Spin again!

          • Glenn Priceless

            June 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm

            Well if it isn’t Mr. I Can’t Stand Challenges To My White Privilege. Back again, and still getting triggered by the comments section?

            Me and my “posse”? As opposed to the Klan you belong too? The Ku Klux Klan grandpa? Lmfao! Don’t forget to take your meds angry white man.

            Yeah and show us all your family tree. Please! I’m sure it’s all a calculated lie just like your white privilege claims to victimhood. Lmfao! We’ve seen your style of internet trollery before. As long as it’s the internet you just won’t admit that you’re wrong, but thanks for reminding us all that actual white supremacists fighting in defense of white privilege in the gay community DO exist.

            I bet in your next rebuttal you’re going to claim (over the internet ofcourse) that you’re handicapped. That way you can better justify your hatred for the disabled. And then in your rebuttal after that you’ll suddenly claim (over the internet again ofcourse) to be really really obese. That way you can better justify your hatred for the overweight. And then you’ll be transitioning, and then the adoptive parent of Vietnamese children so on and so forth.

            I see you never acknowledge the racism exhibited by other whites. It’s always defense and denial mode for you racist internet lunatics isn’t it? Lmfao! Yeah, so keep pretending we haven’t seen your style of hatred yet. We’ve been dealing with you since before the emancipation, but you think you’re coming with something brand new in 2017? I bet you’re not even gay. You’re just some neanderthal who’ll do anything to jump into a fight, and stir up racist animosities. So don’t lie. You hated the blacks latinos and all the other colors of the rainbow being in the gay community long before they ever found a separate pride of their own. A pride that doesn’t involve your racist white supremacist totalitarian control. Yup.

            So wanna try explaining why you didn’t answer the initial question: “You want ONE PRIDE? Why? So you can claim it’s “your tent pole” all over again?” I’ll answer that for you. Because you couldn’t. You’re just an overly defensive racist white supremacist.

            Mad? Exposed? It’s clearly YOU who have been shown that your white supremacist “totalitarian tactics” in the gay community have backfired Mr. I Can’t Stand Challenges To My White Privilege. That’s why your parade got shut down.

            Now take your meds racist grandpa, and don’t forget to f–k off this time!??

      • BEARY FLINTSTONE

        June 20, 2017 at 2:40 am

        Well let me jump into this slightly. It looks like you said you’re tired of BLACK PRIDE? Well that’s too bad. I’m not sure when you arrived in DC but Black Gay Pride which has NOTHING to do with the subject above has been in existence for nearly 25 years and that was due to the fact that we were being IGNORED by PRIDE groups not just here in DC but other cities also!

        So when you don’t invite us to the table we will build our own. That’s not to say we don’t support Capital Pride we do but we will still continue to have DC Black Gay Pride. It’s nice that NOW Blacks can be a part of the board of DC Capital Pride but we all know these transitions came about after the election of Barack Obama and the passing of marriage equality before we didn’t get the light of day!

        Once again I have nothing to do with No Justice, No Pride neither does DC Black Gay Pride. Also, I would ask that you be careful about what you’re tired of you see if we would have never been excluded from these things in the first place we wouldn’t be here. Thank you that you include us now. But it wasn’t always as such! And that’s a fact!

  9. LesbianTippingHabits

    June 17, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Capital Pride 2017 was a serious missed opportunity for NJNP.

    A brief protest that did not seriously disrupt the parade would have made their point – just reinforced with the acquittal of the Minnesota police officer of manslaughter of Philando Castile – and caused many people of good will to think.

    Example: Code Pink, on Capitol Hill and beyond.

    One catches a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar. Positive Energy!

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Opinions

McAuliffe YES, Trump NO, for governor of Va.

Youngkin is a stand-in for disgraced former president

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Terry McAuliffe, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Vote Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia because he will be a great governor. Reality is the alternative is Donald Trump who may be calling himself Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, but don’t be fooled, Youngkin is only a stand-in for Trump.

Virginians know and respect McAuliffe. He was a successful governor in his first term and is a decent and honorable man. Had Virginia law allowed him to run for a second consecutive term he would have won easily. He has a stellar record of moving the state forward on equal justice and equal opportunity, civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights. 

The first executive order McAuliffe issued upon taking office in 2014 banned anti-LGBTQ discrimination against state employees. He vetoed religious freedom bills, created Virginia’s LGBTQ tourism board, and became the first Virginia governor to declare June as Pride month. He was the first governor of a southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding.

He recently said, “As governor, I will fight my heart out to make Virginia the most open, welcoming and inclusive state in the nation, and break down the disparities that LGBTQ communities, and particularly communities of color, face in education, health care, the economy and more. Together, we’ll move Virginia forward into a better, brighter future for all.”

When it comes to women’s rights McAuliffe staved off attacks by extreme Republicans who controlled the Virginia Legislature during his tenure. He fought for women’s health care rights and fought to keep open every women’s health clinic in the state. He vetoed legislation that would have harmed women, including a bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood in Virginia. 

On civil rights he said one of his proudest accomplishments was being able to reverse a racist Jim Crow law disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Virginians. McAuliffe restored the right to vote to more than 200,000 Virginians with felony convictions allowing them to fully participate in democracy after serving their time.

He was good for business and during his term as governor had a record of bringing more than 200,000 good paying jobs to the state and oversaw a lowered unemployment rate and an increase in personal income of over 13 percent. McAuliffe understands early investments in the state’s infrastructure helps the state to be a national leader in clean energy. 

These and so many other positive reasons are why Virginians should vote for Terry McAuliffe. 

But there are also many reasons to vote against Trump stand-in, Glenn ‘Trump’ Youngkin. The first is Trump saying, “he has my complete and total endorsement!” 

Youngkin continues to spread the Trump lie by still fighting the 2020 election and calling for an audit of Virginia election machines. He regularly speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He got caught on tape behind closed doors telling donors he won’t “go squishy” on banning abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood. He added, “As a campaign topic, sadly, that in fact won’t win my independent votes that I have to get.” Then he is still casting doubts on the COVID vaccine. He claims he is telling people to get vaccinated against COVID and then is recorded telling others it is their choice. He is against mandating vaccines for teachers and healthcare workers. His ads feature a teacher, who is a Trumper, endorsing his education program (a disaster) but who is opposed to mandating vaccines for teachers. They feature healthcare workers endorsing him who are against a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.  Youngkin is trying to buy the Virginia election saying he would raise $75 million but most from his own vast fortune, actually trying to buy it for Trump. 

Virginia Democrats and right-thinking independents and Republicans must come out in large numbers to repudiate Donald Trump once-and-for-all by casting their votes for Terry McAuliffe. 

Let’s hope Trump voters in Virginia stay home this year. But McAuliffe can’t count on that to win. It will take Democrats in huge numbers to give McAuliffe the same big win Joe Biden had over Trump in Virginia in 2020. If that happens Democrats will also keep the House of Delegates and win the other statewide races. 

Remember, when you vote for McAuliffe you vote for the man named “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine in his last term. Virginians should give him a well-deserved second term.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Blogging my first overseas vacation since COVID

Chronicling life aboard Celebrity APEX

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I will be blogging a number of times during my two-week transatlantic cruise and sharing my thoughts and experiences. 

The first thing I found is boarding during a pandemic is a little different. People were given specific boarding times yet most arrived at the port when it was convenient for them as many had early check-out times from their hotel or Airbnb in Barcelona. Celebrity didn’t turn anyone away. There was no Wi-fi at the entrance to the terminal so things got a little complicated as many had the information needed on their iPhone Celebrity app. It worked out and when you got inside to the counter they shared a Wi-fi connection. 

I knew in advance from a Facebook connection, some childhood friends whom I hadn’t seen in 21 years were going to be onboard. We ended up arriving at the terminal at the same time and caught up for the next hour and a half as we progressed through the boarding process. We all had to take a Covid test and only those with negative results could board. Of the approximately 1,300 people boarding, less than half the possible number for a full ship, I didn’t hear of anyone getting a positive result. 

When my negative result came back I was allowed to board and went to find my stateroom on deck 11. The key was at the door with all my information on it. Celebrity was doing everything to limit crew-to-passenger contact. We were asked to keep masks on in all indoor spaces except when eating or drinking, which on a cruise is often, and the crew are all wearing masks. Luggage was delivered to the door. 

Shortly after entering my beautiful stateroom there was a knock at the door and my stateroom attendant, Lenie, had come to introduce herself. She didn’t come in but explained how I could reach her anytime and for safety she would only come into the room when I was out. We chatted for a few minutes and I found out she was from the Philippines, had three children, and had worked for Celebrity for 20 years. She was both charming and efficient. 

I then took a walk around the ship and was duly impressed. It is beautiful. I walked through the huge buffet where people were happily eating lunch and saw instead of serving yourself there were servers behind each station filling people’s plates. All passengers had on their masks when getting food, as did the crew serving them. It made for a very safe feeling. 

Instead of a group muster each passenger was asked to go to their assigned muster station where you were met by staff who explained emergency procedures. You also had to look at a video on the Celebrity app and were then logged in and confirmed you had done so. All efficiently and safely done. 

Then I headed to the sail-away party my travel agent, and friends, Scott Moster and his husband Dustin, were hosting in the Iconic suite. The suite has everything from a peloton cycle to a hot tub for eight. It is incredible. I had the chance to catch up with old friends I had sailed with before the pandemic. Then it was a quick tour of the spa and gym open twenty-four hours a day. A way to assuage guilt over all the food and drink. Then back to the stateroom to finish unpacking and change for dinner with good friends in one of the specialty restaurants, EDEN. That meant long pants and a shirt with a collar. That’s as formal as required on this cruise. 

The food was superb and we got to meet the chef, Nicholas. An interesting guy who I will interview during the cruise. The menu was a combination of fresh fish, lobster, to filet mignon, all interestingly prepared. 

After dinner it was a stop at the Martini bar where a large group of LGBTQ friends had gathered along with some who would become friends. I was surprised when a guy came over and gave me a hug. I didn’t recognize him with his mask on but turned out he was another friend from my past I hadn’t seen in years. It is clearly a small world and the gay world seems even smaller. 

Finally headed to my stateroom around midnight, where turndown service had been done, to get some sleep and prepare for day two, and our first stop, Alicante.  

Day two and three on the Celebrity APEX

Time flies when on a cruise; maybe it’s the endless food and drink. All passengers received a letter in their room telling us we would need to report for a Covid test on day 5 the first at-sea day before we get to the Canary Islands. I pre-scheduled mine just before what I planned as my first hour at the gym. I expect to go to the gym on all sea days and there will be eight of those.

Each morning I have had coffee, a bagel and orange juice delivered to the stateroom.  I always miss that knock on the door each morning when I am home but then I would miss my daily coffee at Java House so I guess it’s OK. 

On day two we stopped at our first port, Alicante, on Spain’s Costa Blanca. I was truly surprised at how beautiful the city is. I joined friends for what turned out to be a three and a half hour walk as we were allowed off the ship on our own without booking a tour. We visited churches and the main market in town. We strolled along the beach and the harbor with great walking and bicycle paths. Alicante is a wonderful mix of old-world charm and modern amenities. One friend ventured up to the castle, Castillo de Santa Barbara, but since the elevator (the easy way up) wasn’t working and it’s a very long, steep climb up the mountain I passed. We arrived back at the ship around 1 p.m. and headed to the Mast bar on deck 14 for burgers and fries. Then some time back in the stateroom before heading to the martini bar for a drink and then to the beautiful APEX theater to see the Shamrock Tenors, four Irish performers who are not only talented but cute to boot. 

We decided to try one of the regular restaurants, those not needing reservations and chose Normandy. The food was good and I had shrimp cocktail, rigatoni, and cherries jubilee for dessert. 

After dinner it was up to the Rooftop Garden for ‘Silent Disco’. That is where you get a set of headphones with a few channels of disco music, and you dance to the music only you can hear. It’s really fun but by 11:30 my knees gave out and it was off to bed. 

Day three dawned nice and sunny and we were docked in Cartagena, located in the autonomous of the region of Murcia. I had an 8:45 excursion and again had breakfast delivered to the room. We were instructed to head to the theater to meet the tour group and sign in for our ‘Journey to Murcia’. Murcia is a city in south-eastern Spain, the capital and most populous city of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia, and the seventh largest city in the country, with a population of 447,182. It is about a forty-minute drive from the port. It is a fascinating city with an incredible history from the Romans to and Moorish influence. There is a beautiful cathedral, isn’t there one in every Spanish city? This being a national holiday in Spain most of the shops were closed saving some on the tour a lot of money. We strolled around the city with our guide giving us a running commentary on its history for about an hour and a half. She was a little hard to understand because not only did she have a heavy accent but she spoke really fast. But it was still fun and we did learn a lot. We made a second stop outside the city at another church where a wedding was being officiated. The bride was beautiful. Then we headed back to the ship for an early departure. Our tour was the last onboard and we sailed not more than thirty minutes after we got there. 

Then it was off to the captain’s reception. I had the chance to chat a few moments with the Captain Panagiotis Skylogiannis, who is as charming as are most Greek men. We also met the rest of the senior crew who run the ship. Many said they would be more than happy to sit and get a cup of coffee with me during our at-sea days so I can interview and write about them.

Then it was back to my stateroom again to prepare for another tough night of food and drinking. We went to see Andrew Derbyshire in the theater for the 7:30 show and then to dinner at Cyprus.   After dinner Celebrity hosted the first LGBTQ+ event of the cruise at the EDEN bar. A large crowd showed up, not all gay but they all knew where the fun people would be. The entertainers all showed up there as including the Shamrock Tenors, four talented Irish guys and Andrew Derbyshire, a British actor and singer. We chatted and I will meet him for coffee to do a column on him. 

Then about midnight it was back to the stateroom for what some of my friends on board called an early night. Morning would have us docking in Cadiz and we had a private tour planned for over 20 of the people who had booked the trip with Scott Moster, travel agent extraordinaire, taking us to the city of Seville.  

Days four and five on the Celebrity APEX

Day four dawned warm and partially sunny as we docked in the port of Cadiz. This was the day we had our private tour of Sevilla planned. The itinerary had been set by two of my friends, Rob Robertson and his husband Carlos Taylor. Carlos lived for a time in Sevilla as a child and has a big family still here. Celebrity, by agreement with our travel agent Scott Moster, made the planned itinerary a formally sponsored tour. 

At 8:45 our group of mostly gay and lesbian travelers left the ship for the hour and forty-five-minute bus ride to Sevilla. Our guide described the city and gave us its history as we traveled to our destination. Scott also had the foresight  to bring along a few bottles of champagne and orange juice and we were treated to mimosas along the way. 

Once in Sevilla were met by a second guide and given electronic devices and earphones so we could follow along as we took a two hour walk to see the sights which included the incredible Plaza de España in the Parque de María Luisa. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival styles of Spanish architecture. Plaza de España has been used as a backdrop in a number of films including Starwars. It is very impressive. 

From there we headed to the Royal Palace and its beautiful gardens and then it was off to the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as, Seville Cathedral. It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a world heritage site along with the adjoining Alcazar complex. It is the fourth largest church in the world as well as the largest Gothic church and is particularly ornate with over forty-five individual chapels and two huge organs. Christopher Columbus and his son Diego are buried in the cathedral. 

Because we spent so much time at these sites we were very late for lunch at the restaurant Carlos had chosen; one owned by friends of his family. They welcomed us with charcuterie and cheese plates, wine, beer and sangria. However, the rest of lunch ended up as takeout as we were really late and our ship was scheduled to leave port at 4:45 and we had been told to be on board no later than 4:30. We double-timed it back to our bus and headed for the port. All went well until we hit a traffic jam and sat for about fifteen minutes. It was increasingly clear we wouldn’t be on-time. Our guide was getting nervous and he called the ship and someone erroneously told him they would sail without us. 

Meanwhile our trusty travel agent Scott was on the phone with his Celebrity contact who confirmed as this was an official tour they couldn’t leave without us. Once again we were the last people up the gangway and about five minutes after the last person was onboard the engines started up. The Captain had made an announcement to all the reason they may be leaving late was us. After that excitement it was a great evening with dinner at Cyprus and then a show. The hard life onboard ship continued.

Day five was our first sea-day. No tours and no rushing. For me it was early morning writing and coffee delivered to the room. Then my required covid test and off to the gym. The half hour on the Lifecyle was easy because I was looking out at the sea. The gym isn’t large and because of covid you could only use every other machine. But with only half the number of passengers on board that worked. The gym is open twenty-four hours a day. After my workout I met friends at the buffet for a lite lunch because of course it was crucial to gain back the few calories I may have lost working out. Then it was a lazy day, the kind I love when cruising. I had arranged coffee with Andrew Derbyshire, one of the talented entertainers onboard, to interview him for a column I will write. He is a really nice guy who will be getting off the ship in the Canary Islands; not being an American citizen, he wouldn’t be allowed into the US even though fully vaccinated until November 8th and we dock on October 24th. 

Evening began with a Celebrity scheduled  LGBTQ+ happy hour and then a nice dinner at the Rooftop Garden, another of the specialty restaurants. Then on to The Club, one of the entertainment venues, to hear Andrew sing. He had the whole room up and dancing, even me.  All-in-all another great day onboard Celebrity APEX.

Day Six begins my sea-days on the Celebrity APEX

I woke on day six to a hazy sky and our ship heading to dock in Tenerife. I had been there before and was sad that we were not going to be allowed to head out on our own. There were a number of tours scheduled but I decided to stay on the ship. It was a wonderful lazy day of writing, the gym, and just finding a nice place to sit and read. First though I would have a long lunch with Cheryl and Jeff in the Café, which is the buffet. They are my childhood friends who are onboard. We exchanged old pictures from our iPhones and talked about people we grew up with.  

The EDGE series of Celebrity ships, which includes the EDGE, the APEX which I am on, and the upcoming BEYOND scheduled to make its inaugural sail next April, have what is called the Magic Carpet. It is a lounge that can be moved up and down on the side of the ship. On day six it was on deck 14 and it was the perfect place to sit and read. This would be my life for the next seven days at sea. It is the part of the cruise I like the best.

Scott and Dustin invited us all to a sail-away party in their suite at 4:30 and we watched as our ship sailed out of Tenerife for the seven-day crossing to Ft. Lauderdale. Lazy days and fun nights ahead for all of us. On this day Celebrity had scheduled two LGBTQ+ events, one a meet and greet at 6 pm and a second LGBTQ+ PRIDE event at 10:30. Between the two there was a show in the Theater, UPTOWN, three talented young men dancing and singing to Motown and other music from groups who had sung in the famous New York,  Apollo theater. Then dinner at the Steak House, another specialty restaurant. 

At the evening LGBTQ+ event we met some of the new cast members of the shows replacing those who had to leave the ship in Tenerife.  I ran into another person on the ship I first met years ago in DC, Tareq Salahi, known at the time as part of the couple who crashed a White House dinner. His first wife was on the very short-lived series ‘The Housewives of Washington, DC. 

On day seven I woke up to a hazy day at sea, calm waters which we can only hope will be replicated for our whole Atlantic crossing. I started my day going to a talk given by Melinda Bates, who had written a book on the Clinton Administration where she served eight years in the visitor’s office of the White House. I had met her on a previous cruise and had lunch with her so really went just to say hello.  Then it was going to be what I looked forward to; gym, writing, reading, eating and drinking, and just being lazy in luxurious surroundings with fun people. What more can anyone ask for.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ clouds Powell’s legacy

A final act of redemption

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell (Photo by Susan Montgomery via Bigstock)

The legacy of General Colin Powell is complicated for those in the LGBTQ community. On the one hand, we celebrate that Powell was the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. On the other, he is also the person who disobeyed the strategic choice of his Commander in Chief, Bill Clinton, on gays in the military. 

Powell stood on the steps of the Pentagon reporting how many calls had been received opposing lifting the ban. He testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the service of openly gay troops would harm unit cohesion. He argued that race was a “benign characteristic” and being gay was not. Congress codified into statute what had been a regulatory ban on gays in the military, making the law that much harder to change. Almost 14,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual service members were dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a rate of two-four service members every day. Some were subjects of witch hunts. Others faced criminal charges. Many endured harassment, assault and threats. Private First Class Barry Winchell was murdered.

Michelle Benecke and I knew when we founded Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to be repealed, we would have to either win the support or neutralize the opposition of Powell, one of the previously undisclosed strategies described in my new book, “Mission Possible.” Michelle and I first met him at the Arlington, Va., headquarters of America’s Promise. We offered to brief him on the ban’s implementation as he was being asked on the Sunday shows about the law’s efficacy. He agreed to see us.

The question was whether we could find common ground on which to build a new consensus. My theory was that Powell genuinely believed that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a better policy than the one before it. After all, he had testified before the Senate, “We will not ask, we will not witch-hunt, we will not seek to learn orientation.” 

“General Powell,” I said, “we have received nearly a thousand calls from service members who have been impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We have documented that most are being asked point blank about their sexual orientation in contravention of ‘Don’t Ask.’” 

“That’s not supposed to happen,” he said.

That was our first conversation. We might have been able to better enforce some of the meager gains under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if we had been able to prevail upon Powell to help us, but he wasn’t ready. 

In 2003, he told Teen Ink magazine that while discrimination is wrong, “I think it’s a different matter with respect to the military, because you’re essentially told who you’re going to live with, who you’re going to sleep next to.”

Four years later, he called me, prompted by an opinion essay in The New York Times that I had sent him. “Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military”—written by retired Army General John Shalikashvili, Powell’s successor as chairman of the Joint Chiefs—called for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Powell and I spoke for 45 minutes. “I agree with General Shalikashvili that America has changed and is ready for gays to serve openly,” he said. My heart leapt. “I am not convinced, however, that military commanders are ready for that change.” My heart sunk.

It was clear to me, though, that he was moving in the right direction.  I put it on the line. “Sir, you will be a critical voice on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ when it comes up for debate again. I need you to support repeal if we are going to win. Do you know that?”

“Yes,” he said.

Finally, on Feb. 5, 2010, 10 months before final repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and days after Admiral Mike Mullen had testified before the Senate that he supported repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Powell released a statement. “If the chiefs and commanders are comfortable with moving to change the policy, then I support it. Attitudes and circumstances have changed. Society is reflected in the military. It’s where we get our soldiers from.” The stage was set for final repeal.

We too often look for heroes and villains when the record can be complicated. Powell deserves opprobrium for defying Clinton, rallying opposition, and allowing 60,000 troops under his command to suffer the indignity of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He deserves credit, though, for changing his mind. I admired his willingness to speak with me over nearly two decades. I find that the best leaders engage in a lifelong process of learning and challenging assumptions. Powell will receive deserved accolades for his service to our nation, but for us, his legacy includes a profound betrayal with a final act of redemption.

C. Dixon Osburn is author of ‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’’

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