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Comings & Goings

Zongker lands at Library of Congress; honors for Morrison



Jorge Amaro, Comings & Goings, gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘Comings & Goings’ column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at [email protected].

Brett Zongker, gay news, Washington Blade

Brett Zongker

Congratulations to Brett Zongker who is now with the public affairs office in the Library of Congress. Brett joined the public affairs team at the Library of Congress to oversee communications on exhibitions, new collections and literary programs, among other public programs. In addition he will continue to teach in the School of Communication at American University, where he has been an adjunct professor since 2012.

Upon taking the position at the Library, Zongker said, “I’m thrilled to be returning to the world of Washington’s fantastic cultural institutions, and the Library of Congress has an amazing collection. I feel very lucky to be able to help tell stories from the Library’s vast archives and share more of the collection with the public.” Zongker has previously covered the arts, culture and museums during more than 11 years as a staff writer and multimedia journalist with the Associated Press.

Before joining the Library at the end of October, Zongker most recently served as senior associate director of media relations at George Washington University where he led media strategy, editorial planning and communications for the university’s academic and research programs. He worked closely with the GW Program on Extremism, the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum, the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, and other schools and programs.

Congratulations also to Wes Morrison on receiving the AARP DC 2017 Andrus Award for Community Service. This annual award recognizes those who make a powerful difference in their community.

Morrison certainly meets all those criteria. AARP DC will donate $1,000 to Mary’s House for Older Adults on behalf of Morrison, in honor of this recognition. This charity was selected by Morrison to support Mary’s House vision of “independent, communal housing for older adults that eliminates the intense isolation experienced due to aging, subtle and not so subtle discrimination and intolerance based on one’s sexual/gender identity or orientation.”

Morrison worked for a major television network for 32 years before he was unexpectedly laid off in 2009. At the age of 64, not ready to retire, he wanted to be of service, especially to those in the LGBTQ community. Having personally lost nearly 100 friends from AIDS and other illnesses Morrison recognized that he and others in the LGBTQ community faced challenges in the areas of social and civic inclusion.

Then Morrison met Carol Page, a former AARP DC staff member, who invited him to march with AARP in the Capital Pride parade. It wasn’t long before he was volunteering with AARP on a regular basis. Morrison said, “I began to do presentations for AARP, which allowed me to engage with people and participate fully in living. Having people smile and say, ‘Thank you I didn’t know this program existed,’ fulfills my need to help improve their well being. We live in a world now where everyone is connected by technology, but it can still be isolating. The great thing about volunteering is the connectivity to people in the community.”

In addition to AARP, Morrison volunteers with the DC Office on Aging and Age-Friendly DC; contributes to the Cleveland & Woodley Park Village; and serves as an assistant coordinator at a school for English as a second language. He is a member of the Citizens Advisory Group at Iona Senior Services. Morrison participates in various groups advocating for LGBTQ seniors including: Whitman-Walker Health Aging Coalition, Mary’s House for Older Adults, Iona Senior Services LGBTQ Live Well Academy seminars, Capital Pride Parade and Festival, and Sibley Memorial Hospital transgender program.

Wes Morrison, gay news, Washington Blade

Wes Morrison



Prince George’s County library system launches banned book club

First discussion to take place in Hyattsville on June 14



(Bigstock photo)

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has launched its Rock Banned Book Club.

The club will feature monthly discussions of the 13 top banned books from 2022, most of which focus on LGBTQ-specific themes. 

The club’s first discussion, which will take place at the Hyattsville Branch Library on June 14, will be on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe. 

Kobabe’s memoir won the 2020 American Library Association Alex Award and recounts Kobabe’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality through adolescence and adulthood. According to the American Library Association, the book faced the most censorship challenges of any novel at 151.

“We’re seeing nationally the highest rate of challenges to books in libraries since the data has been collected by the American Library Association,” Nicholas Brown, acting co-chief executive officer of the library, said. “I think what happens with all of the discourse around book banning is that, oftentimes, not everyone participating in that discourse is actually taking the time to read the full works and discuss them and understand where the author might be coming from and whose stories are being reflected in these books.”

Along with the book club, the library system is hosting a Pride celebration at the Hyattsville branch on Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion, vogue and runway workshops, free HIV testing and more. 

The library system will host its second annual Rainbow Festival on June 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bowie Branch Library with family-friendly events like craft stations, story time and a live DJ. In April, the library system won a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council for its banned books campaign.

“I think a lot of folks don’t always realize that your local public library is kind of the front line of democracy and we always have been,” Brown said. “Public libraries across the country are very united on this and if the right to read continues to be under threat like it’s been, it is not a good time for the state of our democracy.”

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building



D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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