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For gays, is it OK to mock Sarah Huckabee Sanders?

Forget her frumpy style and focus on the lies



Sarah Huckabee Sanders, gay news, Washington Blade

Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Screenshot via CSPAN)

We still have a month to go more or less, but interns are starting to go back to wherever they came from, gays are talking of their plans post Labor Day, all of these signs point to summer in the District winding down. And that means that the Miss Adams Morgan Pageant is just around the corner.

When it comes to that fantastic drag extravaganza, what I’m really waiting to see is just how many Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be wondering around. And let’s face it, a lot of us wait until the last minute when it comes to assembling our drag outfits, and mimicking Sarah Huckabee Sanders, with a rather boxy dress and snarl to match, wouldn’t be too difficult to throw together. But what I’m wondering, is it OK to make fun of a person’s appearance, even someone as ridiculous, in her lying anyway, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders?

I want to be completely honest with you. I’ve been feuding with the Huckabee clan for years. And I’ve mainly left Sarah Huckabee Sanders out of it. I grew up in Arkansas, and imagine as a teenage boy just coming to terms with his sexuality, hearing your governor say that HIV-positive people should be corralled into concentration camps. Delightful, right? My distaste for all things Huckabee continued into adulthood, and came to a head with a terse email exchange between me and Huckabee matron, Janet, over her rather questionable ethics when it came to soliciting gifts and later when she took a position as an election poll watcher, something that even the most fair-minded person would consider iffy at best.

So, as you can see, I think the whole family has rather questionable values. But it’s always a little uneasy when gays begin to bully, seeing as how many of us might have been victims of bullying ourselves. But bullying can be subtle, and can even come from their side and toward their own. The new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci advised Sanders, via national television, to continue to take advantage of a “hair and makeup person.” And if public figures are fair game, where is the line and criticizing them? Can we make fun of her style, but not her appearance? Can we make fun of that ridiculous mid-South accent that at times warrants subtitles? Or is that the line? Should we just stick to substance, or lack there of, when it comes to national figures?

Who’s to say, really? But this much is certain, looks matter far too much in this White House, and that starts from the top, from the president himself dressing down Sean Spicer over his bland, ill-fitting suits, to his intrusive comments on the looks of visitors and foreign heads of state. Remember earlier this month when Trump told French President Macron’s wife, “you’re in such good shape,” during his recent visit there. And who could forget his treatment of MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski? A whole other column should be on why looks matter so much to the current administration. It’s frankly bizarre and unsettling when you think about it.

Maybe for now we should ask ourselves if it’s OK to join in on the chorus. Forget that she looks tired, frumpish, forget that string of pearls that might actually be some sort of candy. Let’s not focus on any of that. Focus on her lies, her enabling of authoritarianism. Everything else is a distraction.


Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer who contributes regularly to the Blade.

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  1. Katrina Rose

    July 29, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    (1) All real Americans should mock the entirety of Mike Huckabee’s family – not just his dog-torturing blob of a son but also Sarah the Inheritor (of political wealth) – at every opportunity.

    (2) How many Miss Adams Morgan attendees and participants (a) voted for Trump and (b) opposed trans-inclusion in ENDA?

    • Kemwit Tall Tree

      August 2, 2017 at 11:48 am

      I like Sarah Huckabee very much.. She is a brassy, strong woman who isn’t afraid to fight it out with the guys. Trump picked the right person for the job, considering she is his front line against fake news outlets like CNN and the Washington Post.

      I don’t agree with much of her politics, but it’s great to see that Trump is appointing women to high profile positions in his administration. It completely shoots down the caricature created by the pathological left that he is a misogynist.

      • James Lamere

        September 6, 2017 at 8:44 pm

        I am getting very tired of this “fake news” bullshit. Just what has CNN reported inaccurately ?

        • Kemwit Tall Tree

          September 6, 2017 at 8:53 pm

          You must be living in a delusional bubble to not realize that CNN is pretty much all lies these days.. Even Noam Chomsky says so! When ATT finishes buying CNN’s parent company, you can kiss CNN goodbye….it’s in the works.

          • James Lamere

            September 7, 2017 at 12:58 pm

            Exactly what lies ? Please give me some facts , not just your pathetic right-wing rants .

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            September 7, 2017 at 2:25 pm

            Russia Russia Russia….you know that big “nothing burger” per Van Jones that CNN has been peddling from the DNC for almost a year now. Thank God for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks telling us what is really going on and where it came from!

            Also, you may want to remember that a couple of reporters and an editor just got fired from CNN for reporting bogus damaging information about Anthony Scaramucci.

            Pathetic rightwing rants? LOL…so rejecting propaganda is now considered right wing? That’s rich!

  2. Mike Rogers

    July 29, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    You call her a “tired frump” and say whe wore a “rather boxy dress and snarl to match.” Well, at least the readers know you don’t follow the same rules you expect others to.

  3. tedbaldwin

    July 29, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Did you ever once call Obama’s mouthpiece out for the lies? Did you ever criticize any ridiculous dress wearers in his administration? hahahaha no of course not! Because you are one of the most tolerant people in the world if the person you are tolerating has your exact politics. lof’ingl

    • Culture Club Warrior

      July 31, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      If Trump supporters are going to demand that everyone else “get over” the election, then they really ought to stop bringing up Obama whenever someone criticizes the current administration. They should also learn the meaning of the word “tolerant,” because there seems to be a lot of confusion about it out there.

  4. SWSimpson

    July 30, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    It isn’t “bullying”. Its “fashion consulting’

  5. Culture Club Warrior

    July 31, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    I’m of the opinion that a person’s looks should only be an issue if *they* make it one. If SHS was going around talking about how she’s so beautiful, or making negative comments about other people’s appearances, then she’s opening herself up to that sort of criticism. If she’s not doing that, then neither should anyone else. Of course, there is something to be said for taking the high road and not stooping to someone’s level, but that doesn’t seem like something that most people can–or want to–do with their time.

  6. Pugnatius P

    November 1, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    That’s a MAN (genetic). It’s the attitude that makes all the beauty LACKING matter…No softness in that body, that’s the ugly. She (?) is osteperously hideous, bone deep. Lose the weight and get on track, Buckabee!

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Sondheim’s art will be with us for the ages

Iconic work explored sadness, rage, irony, and love of humanity



Stephen Sondheim (Screen capture via CBS)

“The only regret I have in life is giving you birth,” his mother wrote in a letter to Stephen Sondheim.

The only regret so many of us feel now is that Sondheim, the iconic composer and lyricist, died on Nov. 26 at his Roxbury, Conn. home at age 91.

He is survived by Jeffrey Romley, whom he married in 2017, and Walter Sondheim, a half-brother.

F. Richard Pappas, his lawyer and friend, told the New York Times that the cause of death was unknown, and that Sondheim had died suddenly. The day before he passed away, Sondheim celebrated Thanksgiving with friends, Pappas told the Times.

“Every day a little death,” Sondheim wrote in “A Little Night Music.”

This isn’t the case with the passing of Sondheim. Whether you’re a Broadway star or a tone-deaf aficionado like me, you’ll sorely miss Sondheim, who the Times aptly called “one of Broadway history’s songwriting titans.”

Like multitudes of his fans, I don’t remember a time in my life when a song from a Sondheim musical hasn’t been in my head.

When I was a child, my parents repeatedly played the cast album of “Gypsy,” the 1959 musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents. My folks loved the story of the show, which was loosely based on the life of the burlesque artist Gypsy Rose Lee. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Ethel Merman belt out “Everything’s Coming Up Roses!” When I need to jumpstart my creative juices, I remember that “You Gotta Get a Gimmick.”

In college, I felt that “Company,” the 1970 musical with music and lyrics by Sondheim and book by George Furth, spoke to my generation. 

As was the case with Sondheim’s musicals, “Company” didn’t have a conventional plot, happy ending, or tidy resolution. It takes place during Bobby’s 35th birthday party. Bobby, who is single, is celebrating with his friends (straight, married couples). Bobby likes having friends but doesn’t want to get married.

Sondheim didn’t come out as gay until he was 40. Yet, even in the 1970s, it was hard not to think that Bobby in “Company” wasn’t gay.

Once you’ve heard Elaine Stritch sing “The Ladies Who Lunch” from “Company,” it becomes indelibly etched in your brain.

Who else but Sondheim could have written, “And here’s to the girls who play/smart-/Aren’t they a gas/Rushing to their classes in optical art,/Wishing it would pass/Another long exhausting day/Another thousand dollars/A matinee, a Pinter play/Perhaps a piece of Mahler’s/I’ll drink to that/And one for Mahler!”

In September, I, along with legions of other theater lovers, were thrilled when Sondheim told Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show,” that he was working with David Ives on a new musical called “Square One.”

In his musicals from “Follies” to “Sweeney Todd” to “Sunday in the Park with George,” Sondheim, through his lyrics and music, revealed the internal depths of his characters and the sadness, tenderness, bitterness, rage, irony, wit, and love of humanity. Sondheim’s wordplay was so brilliant that he did crossword puzzles for New York magazine.

Over his decades-long career, Sondheim won every award imaginable from the Pulitzer Prize for “Sunday in the Park with George” to the Presidential Medal of Freedom (awarded to him by President Barack Obama in 2015). He received more than a dozen Tony Awards for his Broadway musicals and revivals as well as a Tony Award for lifetime achievement in 2008.

Thankfully, Sondheim’s art will be with us for the ages.

A remake of “West Side Story,” directed by Steven Spielberg with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, premieres this month.

Sondheim is a character in the Netflix film “tick, tick BOOM!,” directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The movie is based on an autobiographical posthumous Jonathan Larson (the composer of “Rent”) musical. Sondheim is supportive of Larson’s work.

Thank you Stephen, for your art! R.I.P.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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Publish trans employment stats

Not enough corporations that march in Pride are hiring non-binary staff



On Nov. 10, the top-tier consulting firm McKinsey published a report on discrimination toward trans people in the workplace. The report came out with numbers that we have all known true for a long time and lead to one conclusion: Trans people have a harder time finding jobs, holding them down, and advancing in their careers. 

Specifically, McKinsey cited the fact that cisgender people are twice as likely to be employed as trans people, and that more than half of trans employees are uncomfortable being out at work. Meanwhile, cisgender employees make 32% more than trans employees in the workplace, even if those trans employees hold the same positions or higher positions. 

On top of this, trans people are 2.4 times more likely to be working in the food and retail industries, which pay entry level wages that are much less than decent pay. 

These statistics are true based on a number of factors. For one, many trans people have a harder time passing at work, and people who don’t pass well face worse job prospects. (As a side note, on top of that, the study pointed to the fact that many trans people exert undue emotional and psychological energy into trying to pass really well and not be discriminated against, which takes a toll on their mental health.) 

So what is a concrete step that corporations can take to make the trans experience in the workplace better? It’s time that corporations step up their game by publishing and making transparent the number of trans employees that they actually hire. Such numbers can be published in any kind of company document: a pamphlet, online report, or even annual shareholder’s report. As it is, most corporations do not publish numbers on LGBT employees. 

“Rainbow capitalism” is a term we know all too well: major corporations and multinationals flaunting a rainbow and trans pride flag during the month of June, but seemingly doing little to hire more trans people or give back to the community during other months. 

Every corporation surely has the time and company-wide infrastructure to get statistics on their trans employees. All they need to do is implement a company-wide survey to new hires. This takes extremely little effort and time in the grand scheme of company workings. 

If major corporations like McKinsey, Bain, Deloitte, defense contractors, and hundreds of other huge companies published statistics on trans employees, they would be held accountable for their actions and words.

If these statistics were to be published today, we would probably find out that not enough corporations that march in Pride parades are hiring trans and gender nonconforming employees. 

Turning the numbers against corporations will ensure that these same corporations finally live up to their words about workplace inclusion and diversity. It won’t cure everything about the issue of being trans in the workplace, but it’s a step in the right direction. 

Isaac Amend (he/him/his) is a trans man and young professional in the D.C. area. He was featured on National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ in 2017 as a student at Yale University. Isaac is also on the board of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia. Find him on Instagram @isaacamend.

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Should we be scared of Omicron?

A reminder to stay vigilant against latest mutation



It’s Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend when I sit down to write this column. The craziness in the world continues but other than the scare of the new COVID mutation, which has been named Omicron, there isn’t one headline to grab attention. Instead, there are many, including some manufactured by the news media to gain viewers or sell papers. Some like the car rampaging through the Christmas parade is frightening but incidents like this seem to be happening all too often.  

The stock market went down 1,000 points on Friday because market players freaked out about the new COVID mutation coming out of South Africa. However that didn’t seem to stop people from spending their money on Black Friday. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) was again on the attack this time against fellow Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) accusing her of being a Muslim terrorist. She apologized, or pretended to, but again the Republican leadership wouldn’t condemn her statements. These things seemed to be grist for the news media with no one else unfortunately really voicing concern. 

Boebert’s comments were taken as old hat. They are disgusting, offensive, and dangerous, but as long as her constituents reelect her we will have to live with them. She is joined by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.),  Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), and Paul Gosar  (R-Wyo.) who represent the worst in Congress and the worst of the American people. Yet again until their constituents throw them out we have to live with their stupidity and the absurdity of their being where they are. 

The new COVID mutation out of South Africa is potentially a game changer. But it will be important for scientists to look at this carefully to determine how quickly it spreads and whether or not the current vaccines will offer any protection against it. Countries around the world, including the United States, have quickly instituted travel bans for South Africans and those in countries surrounding it. The World Health Organization at this time has suggested this should not be done as it will have limited impact on its spreading and could have severe and detrimental economic impact on countries whose people are being banned. One thing we must learn from this is how important it is to ensure everyone all over the world has access to vaccines as we know the more people who are inoculated the harder it is for the virus to mutate. It is not time to panic yet and by Sunday there was some reporting this new mutation may not be any more difficult to deal with than the current ones and not lead to any more severe illness. The takeaway from all this is we need to keep vigilant, get vaccinated and get booster shots, and make sure we vaccinate our children. Continue to wear masks indoors and wash our hands. 

Now the other interesting stories last weekend were about what will happen in the Senate in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays. Remember the House of Representatives passed President Biden’s Build Back Better bill as a reconciliation measure, which means it can pass the Senate with a simple majority. That would mean every Democratic senator and the vice president. The focus is on two senators: Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sinema (D-Ariz.). In reality we need to look at a number of others who will fight to either take out or put something into the bill the House passed. It is clear it will not pass in the current form and then it has to go back to the House again. 

Another issue that will be taken up is the debt ceiling. It may be a little easier than thought because as recently reported, “After taking a hard line and refusing to negotiate with Democrats during the last standoff over the debt limit, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is quietly looking for a way to get the issue resolved without another high-profile battle.” Then there is the budget and since none is passed Congress will have to pass another continuing resolution since the one they passed in September expires on Dec. 3. 

So for the next few weeks there will be a focus on the Senate to see what they do and how obstructionist Republicans want to be. Seems while things change, they somehow remain the same.

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

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