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Petworth Pride offers restaurant specials, games and more June 3

Taqueria del Barrio organizers second annual neighborhood event



Petworth Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Spot any familiar faces? Gay Petworth-area residents gather last year for a Pride luncheon at Taqueria del Barrio. (Photo by Jai Williams)

Pride is no longer relegated to one weekend in June — it’s taken over the entire month. This is no more apparent than up in Petworth. A tidy neighborhood of row homes, over the past decade, it’s blossomed into a social and cultural destination, especially the chic stretch of Upshur Street N.W. just east of the Metro. For the second year running, the bars and restaurants populating the street will be hosting Petworth Pride, set to take place this year on Sunday, June 3.

Anna Bran-Leis, owner of Taqueria del Barrio, organized the event.

“The LGBTQ community is really important to me, and to the restaurant,” she says. “When I opened last year, I saw that that there was big LGBTQ community in Petworth, among my customers and among nearby businesses. I wanted to celebrate this diversity and bring people together in neighborhood.”

Last year, three restaurants participated, donating a portion of proceeds to area organizations serving the LGBT community. This year, the festival is bigger, better and more fabulous.

The restaurants and bars on the block of Upshur Street N.W. between 8th and 9th will take part in Price festivities: Himitsu, Ruta del Vino, Petworth Citizen, Timber, Hank’s Cocktail Bar, Taqueria del Barrio and Pitch Tavern. There will also be sales at Willow & Fia’s Fabulous Finds.

Each establishment will have branded window decor, offer Pride-themed cocktails and have outdoor activities. Drag queens will be roving the street, along with other entertainers, all led by local queen Kristina Kelly.

To participate, festival goers will be able to purchase drinking glasses for $5. All proceeds from the purchase will go to charity (Whitman-Walker Health, SMYAL and the Friends of Petworth Park). The glasses can be filled with various drink specials at each spot.

At Taqueria del Barrio, Ban-Leis will be slinging happy hour cocktails for the duration of the event, including the famous house margaritas on tap. There will also be food specials, like “gringo” tacos and house-made mole nachos.

For its part, Hank’s Cocktail Bar (819 Upshur St. N.W.) will be hosting “Gay Games.” The bar will set up life-size Jenga, Connect 4, beer pong and Twister; it’ll also offer themed cocktails just for the event.

When Bran-Leis approached of the bars and restaurants about participating, she received nothing but support.

“It’s great to get together with the neighborhood. Even though we’re all very busy and have different businesses, this is bringing us together as a wonderful way to collaborate.”

For example, she’s worked closely with Shane Mason of Hank’s on organizing the festivities and Carlie Steiner of Himitsu designed the logo for the T-shirt. They’re even getting support from outside the community — Effen vodka is a sponsor.

For her, hosting this Pride event “is really important to me because I’ve witnessed discrimination against the community, treated as less than equals. To me, pride is such a big deal. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been going with family and friends to festivals to celebrate and it’s important today for young people to know the struggle of older generations. I love seeing equality and inclusiveness and everybody embracing who they are.”

And outside of Pride, Taqueria del Barrio, a neighborhood-style Mexican restaurant run by the owners of D.C. Empanadas, also hosts drag brunches every other Saturday, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing parties and other events geared toward the community.

Next year, she hopes to close the area to cars for a street festival.

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Bars & Parties

Blade’s summer closing party set for Sept. 17 in Rehoboth

Benefits journalism scholarship



Rehoboth Beach Museum, Joe Maggio Realty, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

The Washington Blade’s 15-year tradition of hosting a summer kickoff party in Rehoboth Beach was disrupted due to COVID restrictions. In lieu of that May event, the Blade is hosting a summer closing party on Friday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. at The Pines (56 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.). 

Tickets are $20, which includes two drinks and appetizers. The event benefits the Blade Foundation’s Steve Elkins Memorial Journalism Fellowship, a 12-week program in which an LGBTQ student journalist covers stories of interest to Delaware’s queer community each summer. 

All COVID safety protocols will be followed, including a requirement that attendees furnish proof of vaccination to gain entry. 

If you are unable to attend you can make a donation to the Blade Foundation at Sponsors of the event include Delmarva Power and The Pines.

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Bars & Parties

Rehoboth to close out summer with SunFest

Series of events to replace long-running Sundance due to pandemic



This year’s Sundance in Rehoboth is renamed SunFest and will look different from this scene in 2019 due to the pandemic. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

SunFest will feature a week of live performances, dances, and a live auction, sponsored by non-profit LGBTQ+ center CAMP Rehoboth.

The weeklong festival runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5 and is a change from the annual SunDance that CAMP Rehoboth has sponsored since 1988. This transformation began last year when the event was forced to go digital due to the coronavirus and the in-person events scheduled this year are important, according to development director and co-coordinator of SunFest Anita Broccolino.

“We love that community feel and the in-person makes all the difference in the world for us. Not being able to do it last year just reminded everyone how important we all are to one another,” Broccolino said. “I think that bringing back these events this year is just huge for us and it will be extra celebratory as a result.”

The festival begins with a 5k race and online auction opening on Sunday. Monday night features a give-back event at Iron Hill Brewery while Tuesday’s agenda is still to be determined, said Broccolino. Diego’s will host a Studio 54 give-back dance party on Wednesday and Thursday is the Port 251 women’s give-back. 

Live performances featuring the Skivvies, Randy Harrison and Diane Huey are scheduled for Friday night and Jennifer Holiday will follow with a performance on Saturday night, both at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. The festival closes out Sunday with auction pick-ups and Fun in the Sand and Sun, according to the CAMP Rehoboth website.

This event is also important to the organization’s contributions to the community, said Broccolino.

“The essential services we provide for free to the community, which is a huge amount of health and wellness activities, as well as arts programming, a lot of youth programming and the community counts on us for those things. We never stopped during COVID, we made as much as we could virtual, but we took quite a hit not being able to raise those funds and awareness of the programs,” Broccolino said. “We invite the entire community to come celebrate with us and make it to Rehoboth Beach, and let’s make it joyful, and wonderful and make sure we’re living up to the standards of all the people who helped found CAMP Rehoboth and live up to their legacy and beyond.”

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Arts & Entertainment

Rehoboth Beach welcomes Christopher Peterson back

Drag legend to perform weekly beginning July 4



Christopher Peterson, drag, gay news, Washington Blade
Drag legend Christopher Peterson. (Photo courtesy Peterson)

Christopher Peterson will celebrate 25 years of performing his brilliant show EYECONS when he brings it back to Rehoboth Beach this summer. He will be at Clear Space Theatre every Saturday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. from July 4 to Sept. 5.

I have seen the show a number of times over the years from when he performed at the Renegade showroom (youngsters may not remember the Renegade out on the highway) to now at the Clear Space Theatre, so I am biased in saying it is always worth the price of a ticket. In fact it is worth a lot more because Christopher is an amazing talent. In addition to his own show he can be seen in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” at Clear Space.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Christopher. He has lived in Key West, Fla., for years and performs there during the winter and when he isn’t booked around the country. Christopher told me he was born Moncton, New Brunswick but grew up in Halifax (actually Dartmouth across the harbor) Nova Scotia, Canada 58 years ago.

We talked about gay life today and I asked him when he came out and he responded: “in the womb.” He told me he always knew who he was even before he knew you could call it gay. He told me he was lucky and grew up in a family that always accepted him for who he was. I asked him if he was excited about coming back to Rehoboth and he told me he sometimes thought of this as his final ‘widow tour’ as it is his first time back at the beach since he lost the love of his life, James Mill, in September of 2019. They were together for 35 years and James was not only his partner in life but in business. Many in Rehoboth knew James and will miss seeing him at Christopher’s side. He was a beautiful man.

Christopher has been called North America’s greatest female impersonator and though I haven’t seen all of them, I have seen enough to thoroughly concur with that. He not only impersonate the characters, he seems to become them. He never lip-syncs but sings their songs and talks in their voice. Christopher once said his only vocal training was in high school and in church choirs but you would never know that when listening to him sing. Christopher also designs all of his own costumes and they are incredible. It’s amazing how quickly he can change from Marilyn Monroe and become Cher with just a new gown and new wig that he has stashed in the closet at the side of the stage. The transformation is mesmerizing.

Over the years he has impersonated so many iconic women, including Marilyn Monroe, Carol Channing, Madonna, Joan Rivers, Reba McEntire, Bette Midler, Tina Turner, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Cher, Bette Davis, and Lucille Ball. He will add a new character once in a while if he feels comfortable having tried them out — one being Lady Gaga.

I asked him if he has a favorite character and he said, “That’s like asking me if I have a favorite child. These are all my children and they each represent something special to me.” He said, “as an example Streisand is the voice and Garland is the heart.” I remember he was once quoted as saying Judy Garland is his favorite to do and since he told me she represents the heart it didn’t surprise me as Christopher has a big heart. He often saves her for the end of the show and when you see her you leave wanting more.

I asked Christopher about the weirdest thing that ever happened during his show. He told me the story about an evening during the show, when he talks with an audience member, he leaned over the stage and began to chat with a table on the right of the stage and asked an older gentleman, Christopher called him Mary, how he liked the show. After saying he loved it the next thing Christopher saw was Mary keeling over. Turns out he had a heart attack. Christopher said he told the audience there would be a pause in the show and asked if there was a doctor in the house. One came forward and attended to the man and called 911. The gentleman seemed to recover and after they took him out on a stretcher the show went on. Christopher said this has happened more than once at his shows. Maybe it’s the excitement.

I asked him if any of the women he impersonates have been to see the show and was surprised when he said no. I would think any of those still alive would be honored to see how Christopher does them and shows them off so well.

This will be an exciting summer in Rehoboth and Christopher is prepared for visitors to come to the show and still follow any restrictions in effect for the pandemic. The theater has said it will continue to abide by all COVID restrictions in order to ensure the safety of both the actors and the audience. Clear Space Theatre has been doing this all winter and doing it safely.

I urge anyone who has never seen Christopher Peterson to get your tickets early as anyone who has seen him will be buying tickets to his shows and you don’t want to miss this chance to have a great fun evening in the theater.

Christopher Peterson as Lucille Ball. (Photo courtesy Peterson)

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