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Petworth Pride offers restaurant specials, games and more June 3

Taqueria del Barrio organizers second annual neighborhood event

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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

Disco Funk Brunch at Crazy Aunt Helen’s

Tara Hoot and DJ Phil Reese perform

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Tara Hoot and DJ Phil Reese (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Drag queen Tara Hoot and DJ Phil Reese perform at the biweekly Disco Funk Brunch at the LGBT-owned Crazy Aunt Helen’s on Sunday. For future showtimes, go to crazyaunthelens.com. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

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

Benefits journalism scholarship

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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 BladeFoundation.org. 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

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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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