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Comings & Goings

News from Merkley’s office, WPA and Pride Fund

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Blake Mariappa Narendra, 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].

Blake Mariappa Narendra, gay news, Washington Blade

Blake Mariappa Narendra

Congratulations to Blake Mariappa Narendra, who was named a Nuclear Security Working Group Fellow in the Office of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Narendra has an impressive background including currently serving as press lead for the U.S. Global Development Lab and Asia Bureau in the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Prior to this he served in the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance as Special Advisor for Outreach and Strategic Communications. He worked for the Ploughshares Fund as the Inaugural Hale Fellow and co-managed an outreach campaign supporting diplomatic efforts on nonproliferation negotiations with the Iranian Republic; and developed and edited informational materials including fact sheets and brochures for congressional staff and other audiences on the nonproliferation merits of a comprehensive agreement with Iran.

He has worked as a Defense Policy Analyst for SAIC and a research associate, Managing the Atom (MTA) at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He held positions with the Obama administration including Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security at the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration; and as a White House Associate in the Offices of Management and Administration and Presidential Personnel.

Congratulations also to Gregory Pratt, currently the Finance Coordinator at the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. Pratt began at the Pride Fund as an intern. Pride Fund to End Gun Violence is a Political Action Committee supporting candidates who will act on sensible gun policy reforms while championing LGBTQ safety and equality.

Pratt continues his education and is a senior at American University where he is studying political science with minors in communication and theater. He is working toward certificates in Advanced Leadership Studies and Campaign Management. Prior to interning at the Pride Fund he interned at the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

Gregory Pratt

Congratulations also to Nicholas Alexander Brown, who was named Director of Special Productions and Initiatives with Washington Performing Arts. Among other duties he will produce special productions and initiatives at the direction of the president and CEO, including the Mars Urban Arts Initiative and interdisciplinary collaborations with community, cultural, and civic organizations.

Prior to joining WPA, Nicholas spent many years working at the Library of Congress. His work there included being a program specialist in the Office of the Librarian and a music specialist/concert producer in the Library’s Music Division. He interned in the White House Social Office, Office of the First Lady.

Brown is the music director and founder of the The Irving Fine Society and a freelance musician. He made numerous appearances as a conductor including with the Boston Collaborative Orchestra, the 215th Army Band, and the King’s College London Symphony Orchestra. He has sung with the London Symphony Chorus, London Philharmonic Choir, and BBC Symphony Chorus.

Nicholas Alexander Brown

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District of Columbia

Community rallies behind As You Are bar’s fundraising appeal 

D.C. LGBTQ café and bar raised more than $170k to prevent closure

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As You Are bar in March 2022 (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Less than a week after the D.C. LGBTQ café and bar As You Are located in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill issued a GoFundMe appeal on Feb. 5 seeking emergency financial support to prevent it from closing, the popular business reached its goal of $150,000 to get out of debt.

And as of Sunday night, the fundraising appeal had pulled in $171,471 from more than 3,000 individual donations, according to As You Are’s GoFundMe site.

In comments posted on the GoFundMe site, many of the donors said they were motivated to contribute to As You Are because they view it as a special, safe space that offers a welcoming, accepting place for them and their LGBTQ friends or family members.

In their GoFundMe message, As You Are co-owners Jo McDaniel and Rachel “Coach” Pike describe how they view their business as offering community center type programming beyond just a bar and café.

“AYA is a café, bar and dance floor that hosts diverse programming nearly every night of the week, including social sport leagues, Queer youth socials, weekly karaoke, book clubs, open mics, Queer author events, dance parties and much more,” the two said in their message.

“We have faced some particularly tall and costly hurdles that have set us back significantly since the beginning,” the two said in their GoFundMe message. “As we are tapping every resource we can imagine with creativity and open minds we need urgent assistance,” they said. 

“Rach and Jo are truly loved, and AYA is so important to so many people and everyone knew that,” said gay D.C. civic activist Mike Silverstein, who is one of the GoFundMe donors. “The response was absolutely amazing,” Silverstein said. “From every part of our community. People put everything aside, worked together and focused on saving a space that means so much.”

As You Are opened for business in March 2022. McDaniel and Pike have said the financial problems were caused, in part, by a delay in their planned opening due to complications associated with getting their required occupancy permit from the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The two said negotiations with the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which demanded certain soundproofing structures be installed for the interior walls of their building, also added to the delay and increased costs.

Like other bars and restaurants across the city, McDaniel and Pike said their rent became a financial burden during a slow period for business last summer. They told the Washington Blade their landlord declined a request to renegotiate the lease to make an allowance based on sales. The two told the Washington Post that their rent is $27,000 per month, which they had to begin paying before they were able to open for business, and they spent $40,000 on soundproofing the walls, all of which contributed to a debt of about $150,000.

McDaniel and Pike, who spoke to the Blade at the time they launched their GoFundMe appeal, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the success of their fundraising and their future plans for As You Are. They told the Post now that they are no longer in debt, they plan to take up several offers of financial advice and they’re looking into possibly buying a property rather than renting. They said they also plan to apply for D.C. government business grants now that they have caught up on back tax payments.

Among those who posted comments on the As You Are GoFundMe site after making a contribution was Megan Mowery, who wrote, “AYA gives us a place to feel community, it is so rare to find a queer space where I can have fun and feel safe.” Mowrey added, “The programming AYA puts on absolutely has something for everyone. I love you AYA!!!”

Helena Chaves, another donor, stated in a GoFundMe post, “As You Are has been a monumental addition to the LGBTQIA+ community in Washington, D.C. They hold so many events and fundraisers, provide beautiful accommodations for us disabled folk, and have protocols in place to diminish harassment in the space.” 

Among the larger donors shown on the As You Are GoFundMe site is the Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride festival and parade, which donated $2,500. 

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Maryland

Baltimore County police arrest suspect in rape of transgender woman

Jalen Green allegedly target victim through dating app

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Baltimore County police announced Feb. 15 they had arrested and charged a 22-year-old man with first-degree rape, first-degree assault, armed robbery and firearm-related charges in addition to other offenses.

According to a statement released by police, Jalen Green was arrested in connection with a sexual assault that occurred in the 3000 block of Putty Hill Avenue in Parkville on Feb. 11 at approximately 3:30 p.m. 

Investigators say Green targeted a member of the transgender community through a dating app.

WBAL reported

According to the charging documents, the victim told officers that Green contacted her for sex in exchange for money. The victim told officers that Green pointed the gun at her and demanded money, the documents state.

Not having any cash, the victim said Green used her phone to send himself $100 in the Cash App and then stole two prescription bottles from the victim. According to police, Green then sexually assaulted the victim at gunpoint and recorded video on his cellphone.

The charging documents state that investigators recovered evidence from the scene, including DNA. A search warrant was being sought to recover potential evidence on Green’s cellphone, the documents state.

Investigators seek to hear from anyone who may have been in contact with Green.

The Baltimore County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is seeking information from anyone who may have been in contact with this subject. Detectives can be contacted at (410) 887-2223. 

If you are a survivor of a sexual assault, you can contact the Sexual Assault Hotline for crisis counseling by calling (410) 828-6390. The Special Victims Unit also works with TurnAround who can be contacted by calling (410) 377-8111.

Green is being held without bond at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

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Local

Comings & Goings

Hayashi takes role at National LGBTQ Task Force

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Kris Hayashi

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].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Congratulations to Kris Hayashi named Director of Advocacy and Action department, at the National LGBTQ Task Force. The department encompasses the organization’s policy, field, and faith teams. Hayashi is a longtime LGBTQ activist and leader in the fight for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming members of the community. 

Executive Director Kierra Johnson said, “We could not be more excited or honored to welcome Kris Hayashi to our team and the Task Force family. Kris will bring immeasurable expertise to our advocacy and policy work as our community, especially our trans and non-binary siblings, are under unrelenting and unprecedented attacks. Having Kris join us as we launch our Queer the Vote campaign, and more, in this critical election year, bringing decades of leadership and knowledge, is a game-changer for the Task Force at this time.” 

Upon accepting the position, Hayashi said, “At a time when trans communities are facing escalating attacks on our rights, lives, and very existence, I am excited to join the National LGBTQ Task Force and support the organization’s work to build a queer progressive movement that centers trans power, resistance, and joy. The National LGBTQ Task Force is a legacy institution that aims to work at the intersections of the multiple identities our trans and queer family members hold and that means the world to me.” 

Hayashi has been active in social, racial, and economic justice movements for 30 years and specifically within LGBT movements for the last 20. Most recently Hayashi served as the executive director at the Transgender Law Center (TLC). Previously, Hayashi served as the executive director/co-director of the Audre Lorde Project (ALP), a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color organizing center based in New York City. Prior to that Hayashi served as executive director of Youth United for Community Action, California. Hayashi serves on the board of the California Endowment.

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