The MoCo Pride Center was formed in October for a fairly simple reason — residents in Montgomery County, Md., felt there was a need.
“Montgomery County has great protections for the LGBT community but that doesn’t mean that all of Montgomery County is LGBT friendly,” says Ezra MacLeod Towne, board vice-chair of the new group. “When I became a parent, I felt a real loss of queer community because I just didn’t get down to D.C. or in the clubs as much. Those of us who live and work in Montgomery County shouldn’t have to go into D.C. or Baltimore and shouldn’t have to go to bars in order to find queer community.”
The MoCo Pride Center exists to “be the leading organization for LGBT resources and advocacy in our county.” The group has a survey at mocopridecenter.org where residents can let the board know what kinds of activities and work they feel the center should provide.
Towne, a 42-year-old Basking Ridge, N.J. native, met fellow board members Jill McCrory and Mycroft Masada while organizing a Trans Day of Remembrance event for Montgomery County. They agreed there needed to be an LGBT group in the area and decided to organize one themselves.
Towne had been involved in progressive feminist and social justice groups in the area since leaving graduate school. Towne formed a support group for trans people after becoming a stay-at-home parent after Towne and partner Jenny had their second child.
Towne came to the D.C. area 17 years ago because of family in the area. Towne and their partner live in Wheaton, Md., with children Elsie, age 9, and Leo, 5.
Towne enjoys reading and playing with their kids, various TV shows and “working toward social justice in as many small ways as I can” in their free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
More than 20 years as attracted to women but I’ve been gender non-conforming as long as I can remember and out as trans for five years. I started testosterone about two years ago, but identify as non-binary. Hardest people to tell: my eight female housemates in college about being attracted to women. About wanting to take on a more masculine appearance through hormone replacement therapy: my partner Jenny, who has always known I felt neither female nor male.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
There are too many for me to even try.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I’m a former D.C. King (Boise Studley), so Club Chaos, Phase One, Apex, Black Cat, 9:30 Club.
Describe your dream wedding.
Dream fulfilled, really. Jenny and I were “illegally” wed in March 2004 at All Souls Unitarian. I didn’t want a religious ceremony, but Jenny wanted a church. All Souls was perfect, as was the non-religious ceremony that the minister, Jenny and I put together. We had a reception afterwards in their fellowship hall complete with music from the First Ladies DJ Collective, our families, fellow students, coworkers, and bad ass queer chosen family as as our guests. We had a D.C. courthouse marriage about a year after it became legal in D.C.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
There is no issue that is not also an LGBT issue but raising kids who are feminist, anti-racist, aware of economic injustice, playful, funny, compassionate, avid readers, OK with free play and boredom and practice informed consent for everything.
What historical outcome would you change?
The invention of guns and bombs.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Drag. King. Explosion.
On what do you insist?
That non-profits have truly diverse boards that adequately represent the communities they serve. The MoCo Pride Center needs another board member, by the way.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A tweet about a Trans Day of Remembrance event on Nov. 19 in Rockville.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Something funny happened on the way to anywhere and everywhere.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I am saddened that we are still asking this question of queer folk in the U.S. and abroad in 2017.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe that we have one physical world and that’s all there is. I believe that humans are inherently “good,” that capitalism makes being good extremely challenging for all of us and this is what leaves us in need of various forms of faith and spirituality.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Listen and then lead. If you can’t really listen to the wants, needs, desires, concerns and complaints of your community, you have no business leading.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Among many other immediate things: front row Pink or Lady Gaga tickets. And not to be smushed like a pancake when enjoying them.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That all trans folk are binary, that gender transition must be physical, social and legal in order to “count.”
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“But I’m a Cheerleader” is a big favorite. “Milk” is another.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Thank you cards for kids’ birthday party gifts. Frankly, they don’t give a damn about writing or receiving them.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Trophies and prizes are overrated popularity contests. I’ll settle for being authentically thanked.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
You really are still just a kid (albeit a responsible one), and that’s OK. Your life will also change paths many times, and that’s OK, too. Change can suck, but it’s almost always for the better (eventually). I promise.
It’s the place I realized that you can give up on your vision of being a radical academic professor (and inspire others to make change), make decent money with a “real job” and still not sell yourself completely out to capitalism and the patriarchy.