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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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Books

New book reveals that some secrets last a lifetime

‘All the Broken Places’ should be on your must-read list

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(Book cover image courtesy Pamela Dorman Books)

All the Broken Places
By John Boyne
c. 2022, Pamela Dorman Books
$28/400 pages

It shall not pass your lips.

No, That Thing You Do Not Talk About is off-limits in all conversation, a non-topic when the subject surfaces. Truly, there are just certain things that are nobody’s business and in the new novel, “All the Broken Places” by John Boyne, some secrets must last a lifetime.

She hated the idea that she would have to adjust to new neighbors.

Ninety-one-year-old Gretel Fernsby wasn’t so much bothered by new people, as she was by new noise. She hated the thought of inuring herself to new sounds, and what if the new tenants had children? That was the worst of all. Gretel never was much for children, not her own and certainly not any living below her.

Once, there was a time when Gretel could imagine herself with many children. That was nearly 80 years ago, when she was in love with her father’s driver, Kurt. She thought about Kurt through the years – he had fallen out of favor with her father, and was sent elsewhere – and she wondered if he survived the war.

Her father didn’t, nor did her younger brother but Gretel didn’t think about those things. What happened at the “other place” was not her fault.

She hadn’t known. She was innocent.

That was what she told herself as she and her mother fled to Paris. Gretel was 15 then, and she worked hard to get rid of her German accent but not everyone was fooled by her bad French or her story. She was accosted, hated. As soon as her mother died, she sailed to Australia, where she lived with a woman who loved other women, until it became dangerous there, too. She practiced her English and moved to London where she was married, widowed, and now she had to get used to new neighbors and new sounds and new ways for old secrets to sneak into a conversation.

OK, clear your calendar. Get “All the Broken Places” and just don’t make any plans, other than to read and read and read.

The very first impression you get of author John Boyne’s main character, Gretel, is that she’s grumpy, awful, and nasty. With the many bon mots she drops, however, the feeling passes and it’s sometimes easy to almost like her – although it’s clear that she’s done some vile things in her lifetime, things that emerge slowly as the horror of her story dawns. Then again, she professes to dislike children, but (no spoilers here!) she doesn’t, not really, and that makes her seem like someone’s sweet old grandmother. ‘Tis a conundrum.

Don’t let that fool you, though. Boyne has a number of Gretel-sized roadside bombs planted along the journey that is this book. Each ka-boom will hit your heart a little harder.

This is a somewhat-sequel to “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” but you can read it alone. Do, and when you finish, you’ll want to immediately read it again, to savor anew.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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Movies

The ‘Spoiler’ is you’re going to cry

Love is worth it even when you know it’s going to end badly

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Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge star in ‘Spoiler Alert.’ (Photo courtesy of Focus Features)

It’s been a refreshing year for LGBTQ love stories on the screen. From “Fire Island” to “Bros,” from “Crush” to “Anything’s Possible,” we’ve seen narratives that offer up hopeful and positive alternatives to the gloomy outcomes presented by movies of the past. Instead of stories that reinforce the tired trope of doomed queer romance, we’re finally seeing ourselves get the same chance at a happily-ever-after ending as everybody else. 

It’s been a welcome change – but just when Hollywood finally seems to have finally figured out that all our relationships don’t have to end in tragedy, “Spoiler Alert” has come along to remind us that sometimes they still do.

Based on the best-selling memoir by Michael Ausiello (“Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies”) and directed by Michael Showalter from a screenplay by David Marshall Grant and gay blogger/author/pundit Dan Savage, it’s the true story of a couple (Ausiello and his eventual husband, photographer Kit Cowan) who find love and build a relationship over the course of more than a decade only to face the heartbreak of Kit’s diagnosis of – and his (SPOILER ALERT, hence the title) premature passing from – a rare form of terminal cancer. Though It’s not exactly a rom-com, it does try to keep things light-hearted, and it aims for the uplift despite its foregone tragic conclusion.

That’s a tough tightrope to walk. The book, penned by veteran television and entertainment journalist Ausiello, pulled it off successfully, becoming a bestseller – and not just among queer readers – with its warts-and-all celebration of what it truly means to commit to love. After all, we may adore our fairy tale fantasies, but we all know that even a couple’s best-case scenario is guaranteed a sad ending; Ausiello’s first-person written narrative managed to get the point across that it’s all worth it, anyway.

Sometimes, though, a literary device that works on the page doesn’t translate easily to the screen, and on film, Ausiello’s “we-already-know-the-outcome” approach faces a more resistant challenge.

In the first act of the film, which details the meeting and early romance of its two lead characters (Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge as Michael and Kit, respectively), our knowledge of the ending becomes an obstacle. This may be particularly true for more jaded viewers, who are apt to be keenly aware of the emotional payoffs being set up in advance. Heartwarming moments can easily come off as deliberate, even manufactured, and one might sense an obvious bid to force our identification with the characters in the movie’s deployment of all the standard “new gay relationship” tropes. In reading, it’s easy to personalize such universal moments through our own imaginations, which can fill in the spaces (and the faces) in a way that rings true for us. On film (this film, at least), such communally identifiable experiences run the risk of feeling manipulative: a little too perfect, a little too pat, a little too “meet-cute,“ and a little too… well, precious.

The dissonance between formulaic fantasy and genuine lived experience is sometimes made even more obtrusive by occasional flashbacks to Michael’s childhood, framed as excerpts from an imagined ‘90s sitcom, which distance us further from the story – a stylistic ploy that seems intended to keep the tone of the narrative as far from tragic as possible.

When it’s time to get real, however, Showalter’s film lands on more solid ground. Once the blissful “happy-ever-after” couple-hood of the two men is established, the movie takes us into deeper, more mature – and therefore, less predictable – territory. Things don’t end up being perfect in Michael and Kit’s ostensible lover’s paradise: jealousies, self-esteem issues, and the inevitable individual growth that sometimes drives wedges between us in our relationships take their toll. As any successful long-term couple – queer or otherwise – is bound to discover, relationships take a lot of work, and seeing the two protagonists confront that seldom-told part of the story goes a long way toward making their experience more relatable for those who are looking for more than mere aspirational fantasy.

So, too, does the acting from the two leads. Parsons, who struggles against the obvious artificiality of playing against being two-decades-too-old in the film’s earlier scenes, blossoms once the story moves ahead in time to deliver an emotionally brave and affectingly authentic portrait of a man overcoming the baggage of his awkward and socially isolated youth (there’s a Smurf addiction involved, need we say more?) and finding the resilience to weather a battle for his lover’s life. Aldridge, a Brit flawlessly playing American, is perhaps even better – not that it needs to be a competition – as Kit, whose easy-going self-esteem masks a world of unresolved insecurities and makes an almost-too-good-to-be-true character endearingly real; perhaps more importantly, the emotional journey he’s tasked with portraying requires an absolute dedication to unornamented truth, and he delivers it impeccably.

It helps that the two actors, who carry most of the movie’s running time, have a convincingly natural chemistry together that gradually persuades us to invest in these characters even if we had resisted becoming invested in them before. Bolstering the emotional solidity even further is the presence of seasoned pros Sally Field and Bill Irwin as Kit’s parents, who deepen this not-as-clueless-as-they-seem pair beyond the familiar stereotype they represent and raise them above the easy sentimentality they might otherwise have carried into the story’s already-poignant mix. 

These considerable advantages are enough to help us forgive the movie’s contrived expository beginnings, though its ongoing sitcom conceit for childhood flashbacks – as well as its occasional fourth-wall-breaking interruptions from Michael’s TV obsessed imagination – continue to feel a little gimmicky, especially after the plot has passed the point where such amusements are welcome or even necessary.

Still, the movie’s fortunate choice to play against its tearjerker underpinnings – such as when it undercuts a particularly histrionic scene of hospital drama by calling itself out on its own shameless nod (which any gay movie buff will surely already recognize) to an iconic moment from a cinema classic – keeps the tears which finally come from feeling as though they’ve been shamelessly manipulated out of us. It’s this quality that marks the best entries in the tearjerker genre; the thing that movies like “Terms of Endearment” and “Steel Magnolia” have in common (besides Shirley MacLaine) is their ability to lean fully into the artifice of their own weepy, sentimental style without sacrificing the sincerity of their emotional payoffs. Films like these don’t play their big moments for drama, or even for laughs, to keep us involved – they play those moments for truth. “Spoiler Alert” clearly aspires to the same standard.

It mostly succeeds, after an awkward start; though some viewers might find its quirkier narrative conceits to be an overcompensation for its weepy ending, its characters are real enough to get past all that and win us over. And though it’s hard to deny that it’s ultimately another tragic gay love story, it manages to remind us that love is worth it even when you know it’s going to end badly.

After all, just because a romance is doomed doesn’t mean it has to be a downer.

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Sports

Protester with Pride flag disrupts World Cup game

Protest took place during match between Portugal and Uruguay

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(Al Jazeera screenshot)

During a World Cup match between Portugal and Uruguay Monday, a lone protester ran across the field waving a Pride flag moments after the second half kickoff.

Video and still images show the man wearing a blue T-shirt emblazoned with the Superman symbol and the phrase “Save Ukraine” on the front and “Respect for Iranian Woman” on the back.

Screenshot of news coverage at the World Cup 2022 games from Al Jazeera

Qatari security personnel chased him down and then marched him off the playing field. Israeli Public Radio correspondent Amichai Stein tweeted video clips of the incident:

FIFA had no immediate comment on the incident, the Associated Press noted reporting that in the first week of the tournament in Qatar, seven European teams lost the battle to wear multi-colored “One Love” armbands during World Cup matches. Fans also complained they weren’t allowed to bring items with rainbow colors, a symbol of LGBTQ rights, into the stadiums of the conservative Islamic emirate.

Qatar’s laws against homosexuality and treatment of LGBTQ people were flashpoints in the run-up to the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East. Qatar has said everyone was welcome, including LGBTQ fans, but that visitors should respect the nation’s culture.

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