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Best of Gay D.C. 2017: COMMUNITY

Winners from the Washington Blade’s annual poll

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Gay D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Best Art Gallery

Phillips Collection

A Washington institution founded in 1921. Last year’s runner-up in this category.

1600 21st St., N.W.

phillipscollection.org

Editor’s choice: LongView Gallery

‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ by Pierre-August Renoir (Image public domain)

Best Adult Store

Bite the Fruit

Second consecutive win in this category!

1723 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

bitethefruit.com

Editor’s choice: Lotus Blooms

(Photo by Bigstock)

Best Car Dealership

DARCARS

New and used cars at locations in Suitland, Temple Hills, Silver Spring, Md. et. al.

darcars.com

Editor’s choice: BMW of Fairfax

DARCARS (Photo public domain)

Best Apartment/Condo Building

Atlantic Plumbing

Second consecutive win in this category!

2112 8th St., N.W.

Editor’s choice: F1RST Residences

Atlantic Plumbing (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Doctor/Medical Provider: Dr. Robyn Zeiger

Runner-up: Dr. Ray Martins, Whitman-Walker Health

Dr. Robyn Zeiger is a licensed clinical professional counselor in D.C., Maryland and West Virginia specializing in LGBT issues and pet loss.

Zeiger, who is married to Best Real Estate runner-up Stacey Williams-Zeiger, deals with issues surrounding homophobia, coming out, grief and addictions. She also has begun focusing on servicing the transgender community.

She says being able to relate with your therapist gives a familiarity that makes it easier to be vulnerable in sessions.

“You walk into a therapist’s office and you know they are also LGBT so you don’t have to explain anything. You don’t have to teach them. You can just be yourself and you don’t have to justify anything,” Zeiger, runner-up in this category last year, says.

In addition to counseling, Zeiger is an adjunct senior lecturer at University of Maryland where she teaches in the Department of Family Science. She also teaches her self-created course, “Exploring Homophobia: Demystifying LGBT Issues,” for the Honors College. (MC)

Dr. Robyn Zeiger

10300 Sweetbriar Pkwy.

Silver Spring, Md.

drrobynzeiger.com

Dr. Robyn Zeiger (Photo by Lori Gross/Red Leash Photography)

Best Fitness or Workout Spot

Soulcycle

A Best of Gay D.C. surprise win — VIDA Fitness won the seven previous consecutive years.

2301 M St., N.W.

601 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.

1935 14th St., N.W.

Editor’s choice: VIDA Fitness

SoulCycle (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Gayborhood

Shaw

Second consecutive win in this category!

Editor’s choice: Logan Circle (last year’s runner up)

Shaw (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Hardware Store

Logan Ace Hardware

1734 14th St., N.W.

acehardwaredc.com

Editor’s choice: Annie’s Ace Hardware

MidCity Dog Days, gay news, Washington Blade

Logan Hardware (Washington Blade photo by Antwan J. Thompson)

Best Home Furnishings

Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot

Also won this award 2012-2015. Snags it back this year from Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams.

1626 14th St., N.W.

misspixies.com

Editor’s choice: Room & Board

Miss Pixie’s (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Home Improvement Service

Case Design

“Full-service home remodelers building your dreams.”

casedesign.com

Editor’s choice: The Organizing Agency

(Photo courtesy of Case Design)

Best Hotel

The W

Third consecutive win in this category!

515 15th St., N.W.

wwashingtondc.com

Editor’s choice: Dupont Circle Hotel

W Hotel (Photo by Jeffrey Totaro; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Best House of Worship

Empowerment Liberation Cathedral

Third consecutive win. Foundry United Methodist had dominated the category for several previous years.

633 Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring

240-720-7605

empowermentliberationcathedral.org

Editor’s choice: All Souls Unitarian (also last year’s runner-up)

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Lawyer

Glen Ackerman

Ackerman Brown PLLC

2101 L St., N.W., no. 440

ackermanbrown.com

Runner-up: Michele Zavos

Glen Ackerman (Photo courtesy of Ackerman)

Best LGBT Social Group

Stonewall Sports

stonewallsports.org

Editor’s choice: Impulse D.C.

(Washington Blade photo by Ben Keller)

Best LGBT Support Group

SMYAL

Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders

Third consecutive win in this category!

410 7th St., S.E.

smyal.org

Editor’s choice: The D.C. Center

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best LGBT Sports League

Stonewall Kickball (last year’s runner-up)

Editor’s choice: D.C. Frontrunners

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best LGBT-Owned Business

Three Fifty Bakery and Coffee Bar

Editor’s Choice: Best Bus

Three Fifty Bakery is, in a word, darling. In 2014, just after it opened, owner Jimmy Hopper said in a Washington Blade interview that some day that he’d “like to win a readers’ poll prize for the bakery.”

So, congratulations, Jimmy — and it’s a well-deserved honor. The bright space has become a neighborhood favorite in just a scant few years, serving up smaller quantities of freshly baked goods, from cinnamon-laced bundt cakes drizzled with icing to coma-inducing fudgy brownies to zucchini bread.

The fact that Three Fifty doesn’t overproduce means that each bite really does taste fresh, and that makes all the difference when you’re indulging in a treat. Working out is overrated, but freshly-baked coconut cake is not. (KH)

Three Fifty Bakery and Coffee Bar

1926 17th St., N.W.

threefifty.com

Jimmy Hopper (Washington Blade photo by Tom Hausman)

Most LGBT-friendly Workplace

Whitman-Walker Health

1525 14th St., N.W.

whitman-walker.org

Editor’s choice: Town, Trade and Number Nine

The Walk to End HIV is an annual event for Whitman-Walker Health. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best LGBT Event

Capital Pride Celebration

Editor’s choice: SMYAL Fall Brunch

The 2017 Capital Pride Parade (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Museum

National Museum of African-American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave., N.W.

nmaahc.si.edu

Editor’s choice: Hirshorn

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Non-Profit

SMYAL

Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders

410 7th St., S.E.

smyal.org

Editor’s choice: Latino GLBT History Project

SMYAL Fall Brunch (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Private School

Maret School

A coed, K-12 independent school founded in 1911.

3000 Cathedral Ave., N.W.

maret.org

Editor’s choice: Barrie

The Maret School (Photo by Aaron Siirila; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Best Pet Business

Doggy Style Bakery, Boutique & Pet Spa

1642 R St., N.W.

doggiestylebakery.com

Editor’s choice: Dogma Day Care

Doggy Style Bakery, Boutique & Pet Spa (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Place to Buy Second-hand Stuff

Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnot

Third consecutive win in this category!

1626 14th St., N.W.

misspixies.com

Editor’s choice: Buffalo Exchange (last year’s runner-up)

Miss Pixies (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Movie Theater

Landmark Theaters Atlantic Plumbing

New releases plus indie fare, foreign and avant garde.

807 V St., N.W.

landmarktheatres.com

Editor’s choice: Landmark Theaters E Street Cinema

Landmark Theaters Atlantic Plumbing (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Rehoboth Business

r Squared Design

39 Baltimore Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

www.rsquareddesign.net

Editor’s choice: Blue Moon

Rex Rogosch of R Squared Design (Photo by Russ Hickman)

Best Salon/Spa

Logan 14

Second consecutive win in this category!

1314 14th St., N.W.

logan14salonspa.com

Editor’s Choice: Salon Quency

Logan 14 (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Short-Term Car Service

Car2Go

car2go.com

Editor’s choice: Zip Car

Car2Go (Photo by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz)

Best Staycation Getaway

MGM National Harbor

101 MGM national Ave.

Oxon Hill, Md.

mgmnationalharbor.com

Editor’s choice: Discover Easton

MGM National Harbor (Photo by Robb Scharteg; courtesy MGM)

Best Tattoo Parlor

Tattoo Paradise

2444 18th St., N.W.

tattooparadisedc.com

Editor’s choice: Fatty’s Tattoos

Tattoo Paradise (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Best Theater

Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Third consecutive win in this category!

2700 F St., N.W.

kennedy-center.org

Editor’s Choice: Studio Theatre

The Kennedy Center (Photo by Mack Male; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Best Theater Production

“Wig Out!” at Studio Theatre

Editor’s Choice: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at the Kennedy Center

Wig Out, gay news, Washington Blade

Edwin Brown III, left, and Desmond Bing in ‘Wig Out!’ (Photo by Teresa Wood, courtesy Studio)

Best Vet

CityPaws Animal Hospital

Third consecutive win in this category!

1823 14th St., N.W.

citypawsanimalhospital.com

Editor’s Choice: District Veterinary Hospital

City Paws (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

To see winners in other categories in the Washington Blade’s Best of Gay D.C. 2017 Awards, click here.

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Theater

‘Hadestown’ comes to the Kennedy Center

Levi Kreis discusses return to live theater

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Levi Kreis is an out actor who plays Hermes in the national tour of ‘Hadestown’ soon opening at the Kennedy Center. (Photo courtesy of Levi Kreis)

Hadestown
Through Oct. 31
The Kennedy Center
$45.00 – $175.00
Kennedy-center.org
For Covid-19 safety regulations go to Kennedy-center.org/visit/covid-safety/

Early in September at New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre, out singer/actor Levi Kreis was in the audience for the long-awaited Broadway reopening of “Hadestown,” Anaïs Mitchell’s rousing musical reimagining of the Orpheus myth in which the legendary Greek hero descends into the underworld to rescue his lover Eurydice. 

After almost 18 months of pandemic-induced closure, the Tony Award-winning folk opera was back and the house was full. In a recent phone interview, Kreis describes the evening as “love-filled, and electrifying and emotional after such a difficult time.” Now, Kreis is onstage in the national tour of “Hadestown,” currently launching at the Kennedy Center. As Hermes, the shape-shifting god of oratory, Kreis is both narrator and chaperone to the story’s young lovers. 

A Tennessee native, Kreis, 39, has triumphantly survived turbulent times including a harrowingly prolonged coming out experience that included six years of conversion therapy, education disruptions, and music contract losses. He officially came out through his acclaimed album “One of the Ones” (2006), which features a collection of piano vocals about past boyfriends. And four years later, he splendidly won a Tony Award for originating the role of rock and roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in the rockabilly musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” 

Throughout much of the pandemic, Kreis leaned into his own music and found ways to reconnect with his largely gay fan base. But he’s happy to now be touring, noting that all the “Hadestown” cast have been hungering to perform before a real live audience.

When not on the road, he’s based in New York City with his husband, classical-crossover recording artist Jason Antone. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Hermes is the same role for which André De Shields—the brilliant African American actor, also gay, and some decades your elder won a Tony and has resumed playing on Broadway, right?

LEVI KREIS: That’s right. It’s really a testament to the creative team. Rather than laying us over what Broadway created. They’re creating a tour that’s uniquely different; still true to the beauty of the story but with a different flavor. 

BLADE: What attracted you to the part?

KREIS: First, I fell in love with the show. My own musical sensibilities understand the origins of where this music comes from. It’s very bluesy and gospel. Southern and rootsy. And that’s everything I’ve created in my career as a singer/songwriter.

BLADE: With your life experience, do you feel called to mentor?

KREIS: The biggest effort I’ve given to this narrative is being a pioneer of the out-music movement starting in 2005 which was a moment when gay artists were not signed to major labels. I want through eight major labels—when they found out I was gay things always went south. 

It’s been amazing to be a voice in LGBTQ media when no one was speaking about these things. It’s popular now, but back when it mattered it was a lot harder to start my career as an openly gay artist and speak about these issues rather than keep quiet, cash in, and only then come out. 

BLADE: Where did that nerve come from?

KREIS: Less about nerve and more about being beaten down. How many things have to happen before you give up and decide to be honest?  

BLADE: For many theatergoers, “Hadestown” will be their return to live theater. Other than it being visionary and remarkably entertaining, why would you recommend it? 

KREIS: We need encouragement right now. But we also need art that facilitates a lot of important conversation about what’s happening in the world. This has both elements.  

“Hadestown” is not a piece of art that you easily forget. You’re going to walk out of the theater with a story that sticks with you. You’ll realized that your own voice matters. There’s a part in the show, Orpheus’ song, when the gods encourage him to get the balance of the world back again by telling him that his voice matters. 

BLADE: Is it timely?

KREIS: Art is here to change the world. And this piece of art hits the nail right on the head. I’m a purist when it comes to art and song. There’s a reason why we do it. people are listening now in a way they haven’t listened before. To miss that is to miss the role of society, I think. 

BLADE: And going forward? 

KREIS: It’s going to be interesting. We could double down on super commercialized theater or we may decide to really go the other direction and reclaim innovation. That remains to be seen. 

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Books

Book details fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Clinton-era policy was horrific for LGB servicemembers

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‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By C. Dixon Osburn
c.2021, self-published $35 hardcover, paperback $25, Kindle $12.99 / 450 pages

When Senior Airman Brandi Grijalva was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, she talked with a chaplain’s assistant about some problems she had at home. The chaplain’s assistant said what she told him would be confidential. But when she revealed that she was a lesbian, the chaplain’s assistant no longer kept her conversation with him confidential. Grijalva, after being investigated was discharged.

Craig Haack was a corporal in the Marines serving in Okinawa, Japan. Haack, who had made it through boot camp, felt confident. Until investigators barged into his barracks. Looking for evidence “of homosexual conduct,” they ransacked everything from his computers to his platform shoes. Haack was too stunned to respond when asked if he was gay.

In 1996, Lt. Col. Steve Loomis’ house was burned down by an Army private. The Army discharged the private who torched Loomis’ house. You’d think the Army would have supported Loomis. But you’d be wrong. The army discharged Loomis for conduct unbecoming an officer because a fire marshal found a homemade sex tape in the ashes.

These are just a few of the enraging, poignant, at times absurd (platform shoes?), all-too-true stories told in “Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by C. Dixon Osburn.

As a rule, I don’t review self-published books. But “Mission Possible” is the stunning exception that proves that rules, on occasion, are made to be broken.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was the official U.S. policy on gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving in the military. Former President Bill Clinton announced the policy on July 19, 1993. It took effect on Feb. 28, 1994.

Sexual orientation was covered by DADT. Gender identity was covered by separate Department of Defense regulations.

Congress voted to repeal DADT in December 2010 (the House on Dec. 15, 2010, and the Senate on Dec. 18, 2010). On Dec. 22, 2010, Former President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law. 

DADT banned gay, lesbian and bisexual people who were out from serving in the U.S. military. Under DADT, it was not permitted to ask if servicemembers were LGB. But, LGB servicemembers couldn’t be out. They couldn’t talk about their partners, carry photos of their girlfriends or boyfriends or list their same-sex partner as their emergency contract.

It took nearly a year for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to go into effect. On Sept. 20, 2011, Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “certified to Congress that implementing repeal of the policy {DADT} would have no effect on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion or recruiting and retention,” Osburn writes.

Before DADT, out LGBT people weren’t permitted to serve in the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was intended to be a compromise—a policy that would be less onerous on LGB people, but that would pass muster with people who believed that gay servicemembers would destroy military readiness, morale and unit cohesion.

Like many in the queer community, I knew that DADT was a horror-show from the get-go. Over the 17 years that DADT was in effect, an estimated 14,000 LGB servicemembers were discharged because of their sexual orientation, according to the Veterans Administration.

But, I had no idea how horrific “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was until I read “Mission Possible.”              

In “Mission Possible,” Osburn, who with Michelle Benecke, co-founded the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), pulls off a nearly impossible hat trick.

In a clear, vivid, often spellbinding narrative, Osburn tells the complex history of the DADT-repeal effort as well as the stories of servicemembers who were pelted with gay slurs, assaulted and murdered under DADT.

Hats off to SLDN, now known as the Modern Military Association of America, for its heroic work to repeal DADT! (Other LGBTQ+ organizations worked on the repeal effort, but SLDN did the lion’s share of the work.)

You wouldn’t think a 450-pager about repealing a policy would keep you up all night reading. But, “Mission Possible” will keep you wide-awake. You won’t need the espresso.

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Arts & Entertainment

NSYNC star Lance Bass & husband Michael Turchin welcome twins

Singer, husband, and popular West Hollywood nightclub owner, now adds the job of ‘Dad’ to his resume

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Lance Bass and Michael Turchin via Instagram

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Former boy-band NSYNC star and co-owner of the popular LGBTQ+ nightspot Rocco’s, Lance Bass, announced that he and husband Michael Turchin are the proud parents of twins, Violet Betty and Alexander James.

In his announcement on Instagram, Bass wrote; ‘The baby dragons have arrived!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ I can not express how much love I feel right now. Thank you for all the kind wishes. It meant a lot. Now, how do you change a diaper??! Ahhhhhhhh!”

The babies were carried via surrogate, the singer noted saying that Alexander, born one minute before his sister on Wednesday, weighed 4 lbs., 14 oz. Violet weighed 4 lbs., 11 oz. Bass said in his Instagram post.

His husband also announced the news on his Instagram account. “Introducing the newest members of the Turchin-Bass household: Violet Betty and Alexander James!!!! They’re pure perfection and yes that includes the dozens of poops we’ve already dealt with. Our hearts our full!!! Thank you everyone for the well wishes 🥰🥰🥰”

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