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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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Photos

PHOTOS: Crush

New gay bar holds opening party

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Jared Keith Lee serves a drink at Crush. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The new LGBTQ venue Crush held a party for friends, family and close supporters on Tuesday. For more information on future events at Crush, go to their Instagram page @crushbardc.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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a&e features

What to expect at the 2024 National Cannabis Festival

Wu-Tang Clan to perform; policy discussions also planned

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Juicy J performs at the 2023 National Cannabis Festival (Photo credit: Alive Coverage)

(Editor’s note: Tickets are still available for the National Cannabis Festival, with prices starting at $55 for one-day general admission on Friday through $190 for a two-day pass with early-entry access. The Washington Blade, one of the event’s sponsors, will host a LGBTQIA+ Lounge and moderate a panel discussion on Saturday with the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.)


With two full days of events and programs along with performances by Wu-Tang Clan, Redman, and Thundercat, the 2024 National Cannabis Festival will be bigger than ever this year.

Leading up to the festivities on Friday and Saturday at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium are plenty of can’t-miss experiences planned for 420 Week, including the National Cannabis Policy Summit and an LGBTQ happy hour hosted by the District’s Black-owned queer bar, Thurst Lounge (both happening on Wednesday).

On Tuesday, the Blade caught up with NCF Founder and Executive Producer Caroline Phillips, principal at The High Street PR & Events, for a discussion about the event’s history and the pivotal political moment for cannabis legalization and drug policy reform both locally and nationally. Phillips also shared her thoughts about the role of LGBTQ activists in these movements and the through-line connecting issues of freedom and bodily autonomy.

After D.C. residents voted to approve Initiative 71 in the fall of 2014, she said, adults were permitted to share cannabis and grow the plant at home, while possession was decriminalized with the hope and expectation that fewer people would be incarcerated.

“When that happened, there was also an influx of really high-priced conferences that promised to connect people to big business opportunities so they could make millions in what they were calling the ‘green rush,'” Phillips said.

“At the time, I was working for Human Rights First,” a nonprofit that was, and is, engaged in “a lot of issues to do with world refugees and immigration in the United States” — so, “it was really interesting to me to see the overlap between drug policy reform and some of these other issues that I was working on,” Phillips said.

“And then it rubbed me a little bit the wrong way to hear about the ‘green rush’ before we’d heard about criminal justice reform around cannabis and before we’d heard about people being let out of jail for cannabis offenses.”

“As my interests grew, I realized that there was really a need for this conversation to happen in a larger way that allowed the larger community, the broader community, to learn about not just cannabis legalization, but to understand how it connects to our criminal justice system, to understand how it can really stimulate and benefit our economy, and to understand how it can become a wellness tool for so many people,” Phillips said.

“On top of all of that, as a minority in the cannabis space, it was important to me that this event and my work in the cannabis industry really amplified how we could create space for Black and Brown people to be stakeholders in this economy in a meaningful way.”

Caroline Phillips (Photo by Greg Powers)

“Since I was already working in event production, I decided to use those skills and apply them to creating a cannabis event,” she said. “And in order to create an event that I thought could really give back to our community with ticket prices low enough for people to actually be able to attend, I thought a large-scale event would be good — and thus was born the cannabis festival.”

D.C. to see more regulated cannabis businesses ‘very soon’

Phillips said she believes decriminalization in D.C. has decreased the number of cannabis-related arrests in the city, but she noted arrests have, nevertheless, continued to disproportionately impact Black and Brown people.

“We’re at a really interesting crossroads for our city and for our cannabis community,” she said. In the eight years since Initiative 71 was passed, “We’ve had our licensed regulated cannabis dispensaries and cultivators who’ve been existing in a very red tape-heavy environment, a very tax heavy environment, and then we have the unregulated cannabis cultivators and cannabis dispensaries in the city” who operate via a “loophole” in the law “that allows the sharing of cannabis between adults who are over the age of 21.”

Many of the purveyors in the latter group, Phillips said, “are looking at trying to get into the legal space; so they’re trying to become regulated businesses in Washington, D.C.”

She noted the city will be “releasing 30 or so licenses in the next couple of weeks, and those stores should be coming online very soon” which will mean “you’ll be seeing a lot more of the regulated stores popping up in neighborhoods and hopefully a lot more opportunity for folks that are interested in leaving the unregulated space to be able to join the regulated marketplace.”

National push for de-scheduling cannabis

Signaling the political momentum for reforming cannabis and criminal justice laws, Wednesday’s Policy Summit will feature U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate majority leader.

Also representing Capitol Hill at the Summit will be U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) — who will be receiving the Supernova Women Cannabis Champion Lifetime Achievement Award — along with an aide to U.S. Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio).

Nationally, Phillips said much of the conversation around cannabis concerns de-scheduling. Even though 40 states and D.C. have legalized the drug for recreational and/or medical use, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I substance since the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1971, which means it carries the heftiest restrictions on, and penalties for, its possession, sale, distribution, and cultivation.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services formally requested the drug be reclassified as a Schedule III substance in August, which inaugurated an ongoing review, and in January a group of 12 Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Biden-Harris administration’s Drug Enforcement Administration urging the agency to de-schedule cannabis altogether.

Along with the Summit, Phillips noted that “a large contingent of advocates will be coming to Washington, D.C. this week to host a vigil at the White House and to be at the festival educating people” about these issues. She said NCF is working with the 420 Unity Coalition to push Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to “move straight to de-scheduling cannabis.”

“This would allow folks who have been locked up for cannabis offenses the chance to be released,” she said. “It would also allow medical patients greater access. It would also allow business owners the chance to exist without the specter of the federal government coming in and telling them what they’re doing is wrong and that they’re criminals.”

Phillips added, however, that de-scheduling cannabis will not “suddenly erase” the “generations and generations of systemic racism” in America’s financial institutions, business marketplace, and criminal justice system, nor the consequences that has wrought on Black and Brown communities.

An example of the work that remains, she said, is making sure “that all people are treated fairly by financial institutions so that they can get the funding for their businesses” to, hopefully, create not just another industry, but “really a better industry” that from the outset is focused on “equity” and “access.”

Policy wonks should be sure to visit the festival, too. “We have a really terrific lineup in our policy pavilion,” Phillips said. “A lot of our heavy hitters from our advocacy committee will be presenting programming.”

“On Saturday there is a really strong federal marijuana reform panel that is being led by Maritza Perez Medina from the Drug Policy Alliance,” she said. “So that’s going to be a terrific discussion” that will also feature “representation from the Veterans Cannabis Coalition.”

“We also have a really interesting talk being led by the Law Enforcement Action Partnership about conservatives, cops, and cannabis,” Phillips added.

Cannabis and the LGBTQ community

“I think what’s so interesting about LGBTQIA+ culture and the cannabis community are the parallels that we’ve seen in the movements towards legalization,” Phillips said.

The fight for LGBTQ rights over the years has often involved centering personal stories and personal experiences, she said. “And that really, I think, began to resonate, the more that we talked about it openly in society; the more it was something that we started to see on television; the more it became a topic in youth development and making sure that we’re raising healthy children.”

Likewise, Phillips said, “we’ve seen cannabis become more of a conversation in mainstream culture. We’ve heard the stories of people who’ve had veterans in their families that have used cannabis instead of pharmaceuticals, the friends or family members who’ve had cancer that have turned to CBD or THC so they could sleep, so they could eat so they could get some level of relief.”

Stories about cannabis have also included accounts of folks who were “arrested when they were young” or “the family member who’s still locked up,” she said, just as stories about LGBTQ people have often involved unjust and unnecessary suffering.

Not only are there similarities in the socio-political struggles, Phillips said, but LGBTQ people have played a central role pushing for cannabis legalization and, in fact, in ushering in the movement by “advocating for HIV patients in California to be able to access cannabis’s medicine.”

As a result of the queer community’s involvement, she said, “the foundation of cannabis legalization is truly patient access and criminal justice reform.”

“LGBTQIA+ advocates and cannabis advocates have managed to rein in support of the majority of Americans for the issues that they find important,” Phillips said, even if, unfortunately, other movements for bodily autonomy like those concerning issues of reproductive justice “don’t see that same support.”

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Sports

Brittney Griner, wife expecting first child

WNBA star released from Russian gulag in December 2022

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Cherelle and Brittney Griner are expecting their first child in July. The couple shared the news on Instagram. (Photo courtesy of Brittney Griner's Instagram page)

One year after returning to the WNBA after her release from a Russian gulag and declaring, “I’m never playing overseas again,” Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner and her wife announced they have something even bigger coming up this summer. 

Cherelle, 31, and Brittney, 33, are expecting their first child in July. The couple shared the news with their 715,000 followers on Instagram

“Can’t believe we’re less than three months away from meeting our favorite human being,” the caption read, with the hashtag, #BabyGrinerComingSoon and #July2024.

Griner returned to the U.S. in December 2022 in a prisoner swap, more than nine months after being arrested in Moscow for possession of vape cartridges containing prescription cannabis.

In April 2023, at her first news conference following her release, the two-time Olympic gold medalist made only one exception to her vow to never play overseas again: To return to the Summer Olympic Games, which will be played in Paris starting in July, the same month “Baby Griner” is due. “The only time I would want to would be to represent the USA,” she said last year. 

Given that the unrestricted free agent is on the roster of both Team USA and her WNBA team, it’s not immediately clear where Griner will be when their first child arrives. 

The Griners purchased their “forever home” in Phoenix just last year.

“Phoenix is home,” Griner said at the Mercury’s end-of-season media day, according to ESPN. “Me and my wife literally just got a place. This is it.”

As the Los Angeles Blade reported last December, Griner is working with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts — like Griner, a married lesbian — on an ESPN television documentary as well as a television series for ABC about her life story. Cherelle is executive producer of these projects. 

Next month, Griner’s tell-all memoir of her Russian incarceration will be published by Penguin Random House. It’s titled “Coming Home” and the hardcover hits bookstores on May 7.

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