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Catching up with Michael Feinstein

Out crooner headlines Strathmore Gala this weekend



Michael Feinstein, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Feinstein says the Strathmore is one of the country’s great music halls. He’ll be there this weekend. (Photo by Julia Duresky; courtesy Strathmore)

Strathmore Spring Gala
Saturday, May 12
Michael Feinstein in concert
Cocktails, 5 p.m.
Three-course dinner, 6:15

Concert, 9 p.m.
Gala patron tickets: $1,250
Concert only: $45-130
Music Center at Stratmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, Md.

Great American Songbook stalwart Michael Feinstein is at the Strathmore this weekend to headline its annual Spring Gala.

On Saturday night, the long-out crooner will sing along with Broadway singer Laura Osnes and several alums of the Strathmore’s artist-in-resident program.

The gala is a capstone event in the Strathmore’s year-long programming partnership with Feinstein in which they’ve collaborated to “spotlight torchbearers of Great American Song.” Feinstein spoke to the Blade by phone this week from his home in Indiana. His comments have been slightly edited for length.

WASHINGTON BLADE: How is 2018 treating you?

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN: Really great in some ways and in other ways, not so great. I broke my nose in January and I had a hemorrhage on my vocal cord but that’s all in the past and I’m feeling hale and hearty so I like to think I got through the most dramatic part and the rest should be smooth sailing.

BLADE: How did you break your nose?

FEINSTEIN: I walked into an impeccably polished plate of glass.

BLADE: Vocal cord stuff is really scary for a singer. Are you any worse for the wear?

FEINSTEIN: Evidently not. I did a symphony concert yesterday and two of my Lena Horne shows at Lincoln Center and everything seems to be full steam ahead so I’m very grateful and lucky I guess. All is good.

BLADE: What do you have planned for the Strathmore?

FEINSTEIN: It’s gonna be a fun night because, of course, it’s their gala and I love being associated with the Strathmore because it’s such a great venue to perform in. … The program will be with a 17-pice big band and the musical director is Tedd Firth who is one of the great jazz pianists and arrangers of our time. So it’ll be a celebration of American popular song including, of course, some Gershwin and then I’m gonna do a Sinatra medley that’s just a swinging, fun thing. Then Laura Osnes is a special guest. She’ll be doing some songs and we’ll be doing a duet together …. so it’ll be a fun, celebratory, rich musical experience I think.

BLADE: Why do you work to find young people to take up the cause of American standards? To your knowledge, does anything like that happen in other genres of music?

FEINSTEIN: Well, for a number of years I’ve been mindful of the fact that any art or music only stays alive if there are audiences for it and people who are educated in it and people who bring it to the attention of others and because we live in a time when there is so little arts education in schools, it’s up to all of us who care about it to do what we can to preserve it and bring it to the next generation. … The arts are incredibly transformative. They change our lives and it’s an essential part of what makes life livable.

BLADE: But why do some genres need this more than others? You think of Motown or any classic rock and nobody really has to work to keep it alive. Are you aware of similar efforts for polka or Dixieland or any other type of music more popular in yesteryear?

FEINSTEIN: Well certainly the American songbook needs it because the more people who learn about it, it becomes part of their lives and they’ll share it with others. A lot of contemporary artists do American songbook songs in their sets. It’s not like it exists in a vacuum. I remember when Lady Gaga sang “Someone to Watch Over Me” on a show. Many artists sing these songs and many thousands of artists have sang “Summertime.” So to me it’s always about making people more aware of it.

BLADE: You’ve done so many albums. Which was the hardest to sequence?

FEINSTEIN: It’s always challenging because you have a bunch of songs and then you have to think about which order makes the most sense. I like to think of it like telling a story like a play or a movie. It can be tough but I don’t remember one being especially more difficult than another. I’ve made many different types of albums and they all present their own challenges.

BLADE: Does sequencing sometimes affect arrangements and transitions?

FEINSTEIN: Absolutely. There are times I’ve changed the beginning of a track or cut part of it or extended it. Also the time between tracks is significant, but of course a lot of people don’t listen to music sequentially anymore, they pick and choose in whatever medium they use so … in some ways it’s a lost art.

BLADE: Do you keep in touch with Cheyenne Jackson? Have you seen any of his TV stuff? (Feinstein and Jackson released a duet album in 2014)

FEINSTEIN: Yes, I am in touch with Cheyenne. We performed together about, oh, four-five months ago and he wants to do more musical performances but his acting career keeps him well occupied. He’s a wonderful human being and Jason, his husband, as well. They’re a great couple and he’s a major talent. He’s one of the finest voices of our time. He’s got extraordinary range and versatility and, of course, charisma. He’s deeply gifted and just a nice person to be around.

BLADE: When we last spoke in 2015, you mentioned a multi-CD project you were working on but couldn’t say much about. What was that and is it still in the works?

FEINSTEIN: I was working on recording the complete songs of George Gershwin, which is like 800 published songs, and that’s what I was starting to embark on. … We decided against it for various reasons. … The more we explored it, the more we realized it was more interesting as an idea than it would have been in execution. But I’m doing a Gershwin country duets album now and it’s very exciting. Right now I’m working on a track with Dolly Parton and we’re going to be doing a track soon with Brad Paisley and that’ll be tremendous fun to put together.

BLADE: How often do the holy grails in your genre turn up? Is it fairly uncommon?

FEINSTEIN: Well things do turn up from time to time. (There are) Bing Crosby/George Gershwin demos from 1930 or 1931 that have never turned up but they might. I know of the existence of one Gershwin recording that I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet but I’m working on it. And sometimes things turn up that we didn’t even know existed, which is fun. I recently found some other Crosby recordings that were fun to discover from radio and a number of years ago, I discovered a bunch of lost Crosby tracks. Actually I’m a trustee of the Judy Garland estate and I just found about a dozen recordings of her from the 103-s that were part of her own record collection that were pretty extraordinary performances that, for the most part, have never been heard. So now the trust is figuring out the best way to release them. … But it’s always thrilling to find things like that.

BLADE: You’ve talked about rescuing scores from dumpsters. How did you happen to be in the right place at the right time?

FEINSTEIN: I have to ascribe it to karma or luck or fate, if you will. I had the experience a number of times of stumbling upon something right before it was slated for destruction even though my timing sometimes has been off. A couple years ago, I just missed gaining possession of an entire office full of music. When I went to collect it, I was told it been destroyed the day before. So my timing hasn’t always been perfect.

BLADE: Why was Hollywood so cavalier with its history years ago?

FEINSTEIN: Because the thing that mattered to Hollywood was the film itself, not the ancillary products such as scores or whatever was used to make the finished film. They didn’t understand the importance or value of the music so it was jettisoned. There are very few studios that kept their scores. Warner Brothers did for the most part. Fox kept a lot of them and Paramount did but the big destruction, of course, is MGM thanks to a man named James Aubrey who very specifically destroyed those assets and many others. They’re businesses, not museum or archives. They don’t exist to preserve, they exist to make money and if they don’t make money from something, they don’t consider it valuable, not understanding that there was not only financial value in these things but also cultural and historical value. … But that’s the way of the world.

BLADE: Is it possible to recreate a score from a recording? Is that even a thing?

FEINSTEIN: It does work but only if the person doing it has the expertise to accomplish it. There are people who’ve done it and done lousy jobs. Then there’s people like John Wilson in England who with a couple associates has impeccably restored scores that are exact. But the number of people on the planet who can do that is extremely limited. Probably no more, and I’m speaking generously, than five or six. … It’s possible but it’s very difficult.

BLADE: It has ebbed, but there was a period where many pop artists — Joni Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, of course Rod Stewart — were releasing standards albums. Did you hear very many of them? Which was your favorite?

FEINSTEIN: I liked some of the arrangements on Joni Mitchell’s (“Both Sides Now,” 2000). I remember years ago, Annie Lennox did an album on which she recorded a Harry Warren song called “Keep Me Young and Beautiful” from 1932 (on 1992’s “Diva”). I actually think it’s more fun to discover an old standard in the midst of a pop album. Like I remember as a kid, I discovered this Steely Dan album “Pretzel Logic” and on it was a song called “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo,” an instrumental, which it wasn’t until years later that I discovered they did it on guitar and pop instruments but it was an exact copy of a 1928 Duke Ellington recording. So that’s always a kick.

BLADE: You met so many cool people of the 20th century. Did you ever by chance meet Kate Smith and how do you think her recordings of the standards have held up?

FEINSTEIN: Kate Smith is one of the great underestimated singers from today’s perspective. She was a dazzling talent. I did not meet her but she had a unique and formidable legacy because she was such a huge star on the radio going back to the 1930s and she had a tremendous recorded output that started in 1926 and ended 50 years later. She could sing just about anything and when she started making pop records in the ‘60s, mainly with Peter Matz, who was at the same time working with Barbra Streisand, some of them were great and some were mawkish because some of the more psychedelic songs didn’t translate well to her. But when she took some of the Broadway material, she was incomparable. Like her recording of “If He Walked Into my Life” from “Mame” is fantastic. Her recording of “What Kind of Fool Am I” from her live Carnegie Hall album is dazzling. If you watch on YouTube some of her TV appearances from the ‘70s, she sings a lot of these songs tremendously well. One of my favorites is “You and Me Against the World,” which is like a three-act play the way she sings it. It just tears your heart out.

BLADE: Why do some great figures from those years — Garland, Elvis, whomever — hold up, yet people like Kate Smith is a good example, who were equally well known at the time, you mention them to a millennial and you get a blank stare?

FEINSTEIN: Well, you know, Garland and Presley had volatile and tragic lives. A lot of people you mention Judy Garland, they say, “Oh, she was such a mess.” A lot of people who know the name, don’t necessarily know anything about her art.

BLADE: So you’re saying we have a macabre fascination with tragedy and somebody who had a nice, stable life, for whatever reason, that doesn’t capture the public imagination nearly so well?

FEINSTEIN: Sort of, yes.

BLADE: How do you like the acoustics at the Strathmore?

FEINSTEIN: Oh, it’s sensational. It really is one of the great performing venues. That’s something that really cannot be planned. Of course there’s a multi-million dollar industry of acoustic science but even with all that, there’s another unknowable factor. … I’ve been in brand new buildings that are supposed to be state of the art and they just don’t work. The Strathmore has the gratifying combination of being tremendously opulant and beautiful and comfortable and it creates a connection for the audience and the performer that’s unique and special. It’s a real jewel and a place to be treasured.

BLADE: What’s the gayest tchotchke or memento in your home?

FEINSTEIN: Oh golly. Well, there are so many, how do you choose? (laughs) I have a lot of Judy Garland mementos and I have things from Liza. Let me think. When Terrence and I got married (in 2008), which was in our home, Liza went into my office, which is in my house, and on one of the doors it has a name tag that says Mr. Feinstein that I probably took from a dressing room, so it’s on a closet door and it looks like an entrance to a room. She wrote on it “not anymore” and her name and the date. I said, “What’s that?” And she opened the door and said, “Don’t you get it? In the closet — not anymore,” because that was the date of our marriage. I guess that would be pretty gay.


a&e features

A rainbow shield

Parasol Patrol protects children from protesters at LGBTQ, BIPOC events



Parasol Patrol volunteers in action at a recent protest. (Photo by Jon Farina)

In the wake of LGBTQ events like drag queen story hours being the target of far-right protesters across the country, a national nonprofit is aiming to protect children from hate.  

Founded in March 2019 by Pasha Ripley and Eli Bazan in Denver, Parasol Patrol now has grown to 14 official chapters, including in the D.C. area, Idaho, Illinois, and Rhode Island. The goal of the nonprofit is to protect children and young people from protesters at LGBTQ and BIPOC-centered events. 

Volunteers with the nonprofit use umbrellas, rainbow or otherwise, as shields to block kids and families from hateful signs and pass out noise-canceling headphones to protect attendees from abhorrent language. Sometimes volunteers will also escort families into the venue to keep them safe. 

“We just started this way of creating a turtle shell around families,” Ripley said. “We envelop that family as best we can and get them through, or past, protesters.” 

The mission of Parasol Patrol is twofold, Ripley said. One part of it is to keep kids safe, and the other is to show that there is community support. 

“Showing them that we love them. We support them. Not in spite of who they are, but because of who they are,” Ripley said. “We’ve helped the venue create a safer space for them to be themselves.” 

Originally raised in rural Oklahoma, Ripley, who is queer, said Parasol Patrol provides a security that she and many others didn’t necessarily have coming of age. 

“We want to be those adults that we wish we had had growing up,” she said. “And we’re not trying to turn kids gay. We’re trying to keep the gay kids alive.” 

Ripley stressed volunteers with Parasol Patrol are not counter-protesters or security. The mission is nonviolent, and volunteers are encouraged to not engage with protesters. 

John Zittrauer, a local volunteer with Parasol Patrol since the early summer of 2022, said volunteers serve as a “welcoming committee” for families attending these events. 

“That’s where the umbrellas come in. To create not only a beautiful hallway of people but also to shield little kids from things that might get thrown their way,” Zittrauer said. “We are this wall of positivity, just welcoming families and making sure that everybody comes in and leaves with a smile on their face.”

But sometimes, these events can get hectic. 

For example, in late February, the far-right group Proud Boys targeted a drag queen story hour in Silver Spring, Md., the Washington Blade previously reported. About 40 volunteers with Parasol Patrol came out to protect the event, including Zittrauer.

While shielding families from the protesters, Zittrauer was hit in the face on the bridge of his nose. In the melee, he doesn’t know if it was an elbow or a signpost that hit him. He didn’t realize he was bleeding until he turned around to check in with other volunteers, and the look on their faces signaled to him that something was wrong. 

Zittrauer still carried on protecting the event from protesters. But he still says volunteering at that event was a positive experience because the families watching the drag story hour did not know too much of what was going on. 

This is exactly what Ripley hopes for — that at the end of the day, the events are fun and inspiring for everyone involved, she said.  

“For the most part, we stayed happy and upbeat, and unfazed,” Zittrauer said. “It was, all in all, a good day,” he said. 

Parasol Patrol members gather in front of Crazy Aunt Hellen’s restaurant in Barracks Row on Feb. 25, 2023, during a Drag Story Hour event. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)
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Golden Girls return to D.C.

‘The Laughs Continue’ to run at Warner Theatre from Feb. 23-26



‘Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue’ cast (Photo by MP Present)

Miami’s sassiest seniors will take D.C. by storm when they take the stage at the Warner Theatre from Feb. 23-26.

Robert Leleux — whose previous work includes “The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy” and “The Living End” —  wrote “Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue.” It documents the lives of the four cheesecake-loving older women in “The Golden Girls.”

Sophia (Christopher Kamm) is out on bail after the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested her for running a drug ring for older adults. Blanche (Vince Kelley) and Rose (Adam Graber) created CreakN, a “sex app for seniors.” And the relationship-challenged Dorothy is with a much younger man (Jason Bowen) on the aforementioned app.

Bowen also plays Dorothy’s ex-husband Stanley.

Eric Swanson, co-founder of the Detroit Actors’ Theatre Company, directs “Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue” and Murray and Peter Present produced the play. A version of it showed at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre in July 2022.

“You will feel like you have watched sort of this hour and a half sort of special on a TV and it should feel just like you’re hitting play or whatever it is on your streaming service and here it is,” Swanson told the Washington Blade during a recent Zoom interview from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “The set looks like the set and we utilize the cheesecake — there’s so much cheesecake in this play. You can’t do Golden Girls without cheesecake.”

Swanson said he and Leloux binge watched “every episode” of the original show in four days.

“We wanted to create new content, that was our number one goal,” Swanson told the Blade. “We didn’t want to parody anything. We wanted to completely attack new material and new ways of thinking for women and aging adults in this generation.”

Blanche ‘weaponizes what God has given her’

Kelley told the Blade from Michigan during a telephone interview that Blanche is “very free and my brand of sassy.”

“I love the sensuality of Blanche and that she weaponizes what God has given her to her advantage.”

The scene in season two’s “The Actor” episode in which Blanche’s inflatable breasts deflate when she is hugging an actor during an audition to be his love interest is among Kelley’s favorite from the original show. Kelley also noted CreakN is difficult for Blanche to use because “she doesn’t identify as a senior.”

Blanche in season seven’s “The Case of the Libertine Bell” episode that takes place during a murder mystery weekend points out “flirting is part of my heritage” because she is “from the South.” Rose asked Blanche what she meant, and Dorothy told her that Blanche’s mother was “a slut too.”

“There’s a few of those zingers in this one too,” Swanson told the Blade. “Sometimes they just lay it down.”

‘Ahead of their time’ on LGBTQ issues

“The Golden Girls” premiered on NBC on Sept. 14, 1985.

The series ran for seven seasons until it ended on May 9, 1992. “The Golden Palace” in which Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty starred after Bea Arthur left “The Golden Girls” ran for one season.

“The Golden Girls” is one of the first primetime shows that discussed AIDS, marriage equality, and other LGBTQ issues.

Blanche’s brother Clayton, for example, comes out to his sister as gay in season four’s “Scared Straight” after he claimed he slept with Rose. Clayton and his boyfriend Doug during season six’s “Sister of the Bride” episode tell Blanche, Dorothy, and Sofia that they want to get married.

Dorothy’s brother Phil was a crossdresser, and her friend Jean is a lesbian who falls in love with Rose during season two’s “Isn’t It Romantic?” episode. Rose in season five’s “72 Hours” episode tests HIV-negative after she fears a blood transfusion she had exposed her to the virus. 

“They were so ahead of their time in the things that they were tackling: AIDS and all that kind of stuff, and LGBTQ rights and discrimination against Jewish people. All things we’re still dealing with today, which is unfortunate, but it’s nice to turn to them and see how your good friends Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia are dealing with the same problems that you’re dealing with today,” said Kelley.

“I love the progressiveness that they had, especially when you look at the time and the era and what was going on, not just politically, but regarding feminism and sexuality and all of that. it was just incredibly brave,” Swanson told the Blade.

He further noted “The Golden Girls” also addressed interracial marriage and aging.

“They were addressing these things about what it’s like to age,” he said. “Whether you are a conservative, you’re a liberal, you are gay, you are straight, the one thing we all have is age. We can all relate to age and they led that narrative on what is it like to age and feel left out and have to fight again.”

Swanson and Kelley both teased bits of the play.

Kelley notes it is Dorothy’s “day in the sun” when she mets her younger man on CreakN. He also told the Blade that Sophia “had to do another small stint in Shady Pines due to another slip and fall.”

“While there she decided, how can I make a quick buck,” said Kelley. “I’m going to turn into Walter White and monetize that.”

Kelly noted the play is “all new material.”

“You’ll get a whole new fun story that even if you seen every episode twice, you’re gonna get something new. But we definitely have all your favorite lines, all the catchphrases, all the tropes and scenarios that you would expect,” he said. “We’re not trying to reinvent the Golden Girls, we’re just trying to add on to them.” 

“We wanted to create something in their honor,” Swanson told the Blade.

“Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue” will be at the Warner Theatre (1299 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) from Feb. 23-26. Tickets start at $30. A VIP experience that includes a meet and greet with the cast after the show is $99. Tickets are available at

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D.C.’s most eligible LGBTQ singles

Meet your match in our annual survey just in time for Valentine’s Day



Each year, the Blade seeks our readers’ help in identifying the most eligible local LGBTQ singles. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we present this year’s list.

Matthew Koerber

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 33

Occupation: Realtor

How do you identify?: Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone accomplished, compassionate, and with a compatible sense of humor and set of values.

Biggest turn off: Green text messages

Biggest turn on: Someone who knows their way around the kitchen

Hobbies: Entertaining friends, singing in the car, and playing my guitar.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Finally take my mom on that trip to Paris.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I plead the fifth

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Within reason

Celebrity crush: Chris Hemsworth

Name one obscure fact about yourself: Will moonwalk after a few drinks.

Kelsey Watson

(Photo by Briana Smith)

Age: 28

Occupation: Nonprofit professional

How do you identify?: As a Black queer cis-woman

What are you looking for in a mate? I enjoy being around people who are funny and curious. I connect best with folks who have a shared sense of humour and can hold a conversation with just about anyone. I also prefer those who have some level of experience with nonmonogamy.

Biggest turn off: Fatphobia and hot breath

Biggest turn on: Kindness, banter, eye contact, and being fine

Hobbies: I spend my non-work time doing beer education, making elaborate meals for myself, gardening, and spending time with friends.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: To start running my own beer education experiences, and to fold my laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer.

Pets, kids, or neither?: Neither

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Absolutely the fuck not.

Celebrity crush: Raven Saunders, the very fine track and field Olympian. Somebody set me up.

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I like to hunt. I’m new to the sport and would love to find folks in the area to go out with.

Barbi Lopez

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 30

Occupation: Bar manager/bartender

How do you identify?: She/her

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is emotionally intelligent, adventurous, ambitious, spiritual, and wants to grow together (in every aspect).

Biggest turn off: Immaturity

Biggest turn on: A submissive dom

Hobbies: Pilates, traveling, reading, writing poetry, and anything in nature!

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Travel back home to Argentina to see my family

Pets, kids, or neither?: A cat my son names Bruno

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Depends

Celebrity crush: Kehlani

Philip Pannell

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 72

Occupation: Non-profit executive director

How do you identify?: Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? An active advocate for social, political and economic progress.

Biggest turn off: Lack of engagement with community issues

Biggest turn on: Commitment to community progress

Hobbies: Community volunteerism and playing bridge

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Helping to end violence and statehood for DC

Pets, kids, or neither?: Neither

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Highly improbable but not impossible

Celebrity crush: I cannot have a crush on someone I have not personally met

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I watch Fox News

Michael Wolfe

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 43

Occupation: Recruiter

How do you identify?: Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is independent, spontaneous, low drama and an open and honest communicator with a sense of humor.

Biggest turn off: Selfishness, pretentious, disrespectful of others, takes things they shouldn’t too seriously

Biggest turn on: Collaborative, inclusive, cares about others as much as they care about themselves, solid communication skills, not required but bonus points if you appreciate Coke Zero over Diet Coke and love Chipotle as well!

Hobbies: I love to travel and have a long list of places in the world I want to go, and would want someone willing to come on that adventure with me, even if that means hopping on a plane spontaneously tomorrow at the last minute. Enjoy exploring DC (theater, concerts, special events etc.), weekend brunching with friends, and playing social LGBTQIA+ kickball.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Continue to live life to the fullest both personally and professionally while surrounding myself with good, positive people.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I love dogs (had a dog for 13 years who passed a few years ago), open to considering another one (or two!) someday.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Yes, up to a point

Celebrity crush: Jay Hernandez, Chris Evans, Patrick Mahomes

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’ve lived in 18 different apartments/homes in my ~21 years living in the DC metro area – as you can tell, I’m definitely not afraid of moving.

Mel May

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 42

Occupation: Recruiting leader

How do you identify?: Queer

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is creative, has a dark sense of humor, is grounded, leads with an authentic heart, and appreciates the little moments in life.

Biggest turn off: Lack of empathy, curiosity, adventurous spirit

Biggest turn on: Someone who lives their life out loud and takes risks with their dreams. Is confident and passionate in a relationship. Can hang with witty and weird jokes. Oh, and if they can cook!

Hobbies: I’m a writer at heart. Obsessed with resell, thrift, and consignment objects. Have always loved trying new, creative projects to include crocheting, DIY miniature kits, painting, publishing my own memoir. Always up for exploring and can walk around a city or trail for hours absorbing the experience.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Honestly, to be super present with the people I care about and love. It’s been a rough few years and it’s made me truly appreciate how precious our time is together.

Pets, kids, or neither?: No kids. No pets right now — but you’ll hear me talk about my pup who was so sassy & funny (miss my lil guy). Right now, I live vicariously through my friends’ pets.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: No, that’s just too loaded these days. Could be friends and have respectful conversations, but I don’t have the space for debate in my deeper relationships.

Celebrity crush: Winona Ryder was my first, and still is my biggest crush.

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I was a finalist for the “Tila Tequila” show. Don’t judge me — just knew I was auditioning for a queer reality dating show. *smacks forehead*

Elizabeth Falcon

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 40

Occupation: Non-profit executive director

How do you identify?: Queer

What are you looking for in a mate? I like to laugh, process the world from the big to the tiny, and collaborate. I want someone who wants to join me in that.

Biggest turn off: Being rude to service workers

Biggest turn on: Direct communication, expression of desires, confidence, playfulness. Know your value and tell me about mine.

Hobbies: Biking around town, illegally swimming in the Potomac, listening to too many podcasts, the Libby app, planting perennials, starting a garden then forgetting to water it, baking when I have the patience to clean the kitchen after, coordinating my friends to plan meals together

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Living with patience (see next question)

Pets, kids, or neither?: I have a one-and-a-half year-old kiddo I’m raising on my own. I also live with a cat, but the cat is my roommate’s.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: There’s a wide spectrum of what this means, but I wouldn’t date someone who I fundamentally didn’t share agreement about the problems with white supremacy, capitalism, and the impacts of gentrification in DC. TL;DR probably no.

Celebrity crush: Janelle Monae, Mae Martin, E.R Fightmaster, Sara Ramirez

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I grew up on a dairy farm

Chloe Thompson

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 25

Occupation: Community Manager at TPSS Co-op

How do you identify?: Bisexual/queer woman

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is intensely smart, non-secular, building/involved in community, confident, and humble, very sexy, good dancer, curious about the world, a futurist, tall, a defined sense of personal style, and very funny.

Biggest turn off: Using Siri or Alexa (ever), drinking alcohol (I’m Muslim), being cynical or pessimistic, not talkative, being stingy, lacking imagination and refusing to dance!

Biggest turn on: A person who is totally in love with the world, for the good and the bad. Also, beautiful hands.

Hobbies: Reading critical theory and science fiction, yoga, watching and learning about film, writing, reading tarot, praying, learning rock climbing, going to museums, cooking excellent food 

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Create intentional Black and Brown community. Be amazed by the goodness of life, daily.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I have neither, but I want 3 daughters and 2 dogs. Ready to get started creating my semi-big family whenever

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Yeah! As long as you have an inherent distrust of the state, we’re good to go.

Celebrity crush: Kehlani. Real ones know.

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’m secretly very bashful.

Maria Miller

(Photo by @itsjacqill)

Age: 31

Occupation: Bartender, produce slinger, sandwich artisan

How do you identify?: Dyke

What are you looking for in a mate? A genuinely nice and kind person. That answer seems simple, but you’d be surprised. 

Biggest turn off: Bad tippers, rude customers, people who eat dry sandwiches.

Biggest turn on: Kind eyes, a nice smile, thoughtfulness, direct communication.

Hobbies: Thrifting, going to shows, making art, organizing in the community, getting tattoos

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: I have some big plans and that’s all I can really say!

Pets, kids, or neither?: A dog named Gravy

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: That doesn’t seem smart

Celebrity crush: Alive: Charli XCX and Yseult Onguenet, Not Alive: Selena and Aaliyah

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I have two baby teeth!

Al Castillo

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 22

Occupation: Research specialist

How do you identify?: Queer trans man

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is emotionally mature, willing to be spontaneous and willing to venture into the world together, but also able to enjoy a quiet day inside watching our favorite cartoon with our pets cuddled next to us on the couch.

Biggest turn off: Being out of touch with the local community and disrespecting physical and emotional boundaries.

Biggest turn on: Taking initiative and being comfortable acting silly and goofy!

Hobbies: Dancing like I am lip-syncing for my life, playing Nintendo and classic arcade games, cocktail making, and spending time with my loved ones.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: I am beginning my fitness journey by going to the gym more often and becoming more active. I also started learning Spanish this year, so I am hoping to improve my Spanish speaking and listening skills throughout the year.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I have a dog named Dana Scully and my roommate Siena has a kitten named Fox Mulder, just like the characters from the X-Files.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: No

Celebrity crush: Patrick Dempsey and Rina Sawayama

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I am double-jointed and I can do a jump split (give me some time to stretch though, it’s been a while)

Aurora Lloyd

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 30

Occupation: Entertainer/Entrepreneur/Activist

How do you identify?: Transsexual woman

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who wants commitment and understands what it means to build a foundation and grow. Has emotional intelligence and is in therapy. Wants the most out of life. And it doesn’t hurt if you are a cutie too!

Biggest turn off: Willful ignorance, blatant disrespect, and judgmental people

Biggest turn on: Intelligence emotional and mental! I love nerds being one myself. Knows how to love and treat Black women.

Hobbies: Video games, anime, reading books, making music, watching movies/shows, traveling, hanging with friends and family, napping, going out to eat, and museums

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: To release my new music and perform, travel, and increase my income.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I have one cat, no biological kids but open to having some but I do have five “queer” kids, lol.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: I would be open to it, but it just depends on what particular views because politics are not just one vacuum from normal having history with working on the Hill, there are layers.

Celebrity crush: Michael B. Jordan and Tyler James Williams

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I really have a thing for archery

Andrew Bunting

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 34

Occupation: Higher education administration/bartending

How do you identify?: Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is authentic, witty, driven, empathetic, intelligent, and adventurous. I’m looking for someone who understands the importance of self-care, and also knows how to both work and play hard.

Biggest turn off: My biggest turn off is unwanted pressure. The quickest way to make me no longer interested is to try to constantly pressure me to do something. The moment that I feel that type of pressure I start to feel smothered and I lose all interest.

Biggest turn on: Confidence, decisiveness, and a drive to enjoy life. A great smile and being a good kisser doesn’t hurt either!

Hobbies: My interests are really varied, and range from enjoying a day visiting local wineries to catching a movie with friends. Bartending (formerly at Cobalt and now at JR.’s) also takes up a lot of my weekend time, and is, for me, less of a job and more of a hobby.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: My biggest goal for 2023 is to strive for balance and be intentional about how I use my time. I want to make sure that I am focusing on the right things for the right reasons. For me, that means making sure that I’m connecting with my family and friends (and potential love interests), focusing on my career, and making sure I still have enough time for self-care.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I don’t have a pet now, but I’m open both dogs and cats (I grew up with cats and have lived with dogs). Kids are not in my future.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: An interesting question, and I really think it is more about one’s fundamental values than political affiliation. Would I date someone who disagrees with me about specific policies? Sure! But would I date someone who denies things like climate science, vaccines, or the fundamental rights of others? Definitely not.

Celebrity crush: Zac Efron (back off, he’s mine!)

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’ve never, in my life, eaten Taco Bell (and I don’t plan to)

Javen Marquise Kostrzewa

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 30

Occupation: JD/MBA student at Georgetown

How do you identify?: Bisexual

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is emotionally intelligent, career driven and wants to have a family and get married. If you can make me laugh that is the key to my heart.

Biggest turn off: Being rude to service staff; surface-level interactions, and fear of commitment.

Biggest turn on: Ambition, sense of humor and dedication to pursuit of life balance (mental, physical, and emotional health)

Hobbies: I love to work out and am that weird person who enjoys cardio. Outside of work and the gym I like playing video games, watching anime, and binging TV series (financial crime docs are my favorite).

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Finish law school strong, but make more time for social activities.

Pets, kids, or neither?: Both! I absolutely love dogs (allergic to cats) especially big dogs (Great Dane is my dream dog). I love kids — my nieces and nephews are bright lights in my life. I want to eventually adopt (I grew up in foster care and was adopted.)

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: It depends on where they differ. If we differ on civil rights and equality, that’s non-negotiable.

Celebrity crush: Michael B. Jordan

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I sang a tribute for Bill Withers as part of the Songwriters Hall of Fame project. (Bill was hilarious!)

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