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SPOTLIGHTING LGBT HOMELESSNESS: Casa Ruby offers short- and long-term housing

Founder is trans immigrant and former homeless person

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Casa Ruby, gay news, Washington Blade

Ruby Corado, on right, with one of her residents. (Washington Blade photo by Grace Perry)

This story is part of our contribution to the 2018 #DCHomelessCrisis news blitz.  Local media outlets will be reporting and discussing stories about ending homelessness in the nation’s capital all day. The collaborative body of work is cataloged at dchomelesscrisis.press.  

During the early 1990s, Ruby Corado spent most nights in public parks throughout D.C., trying to meet the basic needs of the homeless LGBT youth who had no safe space to go after 5 p.m. when the HIV clinics closed.

And so the movement began.

Now, 26 years later, Corado is the director of Casa Ruby, a local bilingual and multicultural organization founded in 2012 that provides housing and social services to LGBT individuals 24 hours a day.

The transgender El Salvador native says Casa Ruby started as an “emergency room.”

“We were taking care of very sick people that were disposed (of) by society and that were barely holding on,” she says. 

While the organization continues to do emergency work when necessary, its primary focus is now on preventative work and long-term planning and personal development.

“Our goal is to have someone come to Casa Ruby and three years down the line, they will no longer be homeless,” Corado says. 

Casa Ruby can accommodate up to 100 individuals across its four housing programs: hypothermia or low barrier, short-term, transitional and permanent. Residents in every program receive three meals a day, meaning Casa Ruby prepares and delivers 4,000 meals every month.

Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the hypothermia or low barrier program offers anyone in need a place to rest with no commitment or age restrictions. At least one case manager is on site at all times. Corado estimates that Casa Ruby has housed 9,600 people in this program over the past six months alone.

“We never close,” Corado says. “Our doors are always open.”

Stephanie Carey, a current resident at Casa Ruby since February, sees the organization as the oasis Ruby intended. The 29-year-old Maryland native recently moved to D.C. to join the Casa Ruby community.

“I had been kind of ostracized by my family. I come from a very Evangelical, southern, conservative family,” Carey says, who identifies as pansexual and outside the gender binary. “I was going through some hard times and I Googled LGBT shelters and Casa Ruby was the first one that popped up.”

All three of the other housing programs are reserved for LGBT youth ages 18-24. The short-term program provides these clients stable housing and support services for three-six months and aims to help them transition to more permanent housing. Transitional housing is similar to short term, but clients may stay up to 18 months. Also, it requires that residents complete 35 hours of “personal improvement” each week. These hours may be completed any number of ways, including through school or an employment service.

Permanent housing is designed for residents who have stable jobs but are unable to secure long-term housing.

“Landlords never really saw them as ideal renters” because “they were either too gay, too black, or too big or something,” Corado says. These residents work and pay rent for these houses owned by Casa Ruby.

The only eligibility requirement might surprise you.

“When you come to Casa Ruby, you don’t have to be willing to give love to other people, but you have to be willing to accept it, and it begins with that,” Corado says. 

Around 215 youth have gone through short-term, transitional and permanent housing since 2012. Despite currently having 100 beds, Casa Ruby still has a 100-person waitlist for its programs, which it’s hoping to eliminate with more funding and resources.

In 2017, Casa Ruby’s annual operating budget was $1.7 million and Corado projects 2018’s will be around $2.1 million. Approximately half of the budget comes from government support and the other half comes from individual donations and grants from foundations.

“We have thousands of one-dollar donations,” Corado says. “Which is great because I think it stays true to the mission of being grassroots.”

Even though her advocacy and activism has changed and evolved over the past few decades, Corado says her role has fundamentally stayed the same: “My job as the founder and director today still is to make sure that we restore dignity to people that have been denied their dignity for so long.”

For Carey, Casa Ruby serves a multitude of purposes from simply “a place to rest your head” to a space “to be around people you identify with. … Casa Ruby is everybody’s home.” 

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Out & About

10 LGBTQ events this week

Extended Pride season continues with Ho Co and Laurel festivals

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PRIDEtoberfest, Howard County Pride and Laurel Pride all take place this week. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in the DMV that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.


PRIDEtoberfest

Thrusday, October 6
7-11 p.m.
Wunder Garten
1101 1st Street N.E.
Free
Eventbrite

Dress for Oktoberfest and join in on a night of drinks, dancing and prizes. Event benefits the Capital Pride Alliance.


Yes Homo! Yes Queen! Comedy Show

Thursday, Oct. 6
8 p.m.
DC Comedy Loft and Bier Baron Tavern
1523 22nd Street, N.W.
$12 + two item minimum (food/beverage)
Website

Celebrate the queens and royalty of DC comedy with a debut show featuring female-identifying and non binary comics. The event is hosted by Ursula Fox-Koor, Reem Seliem and Sunny Soroosh and features Lil Vida, Joey Friedman, Violet Gray, Justine Morris, Hedi Sandberg, Davine Kerr, Jasmine Burton and Sandi Benton. Plan to arrive 30 minutes before the show starts to get a good seat. There will be a burlesque intermission.


Sleeze: Sucks

Thursday, Oct. 6
9 p.m.
DC9 Nightclub
1940 9th Street, N.W.
$10
Facebook | Eventbrite

Check out this spooky monthly dance party with performances by Jaxknife and Jane Saw. Listen to the “darker sides of disco with forward-thinking techno” with DJs Sappho, Lemz and KeenanOrr.


Slay Them Drag Competition

Friday, Oct. 7
9 p.m.
Red Bear Brewing Co.
209 M Street, N.E.
Facebook

Desiree Dik is ready to Slay as host of an amateur drag competition. Come watch the new performers and cheer for your favorites!


Freeform Fridays FRiKiTONA

Friday, Oct. 7
doors 11 p.m. / show midnight
Songbyrd Music House
540 Penn Street, N.E.
Facebook

Doming0 hosts an “all Latine Drag Show and Dance Party” at Songbyrd Music House on Friday with performances by Mari Con Carne, Thunderboi Tsai and Mariuh.


Laurel Pride

Saturday, Oct. 8
11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Granville Gude Park
8300 Mulberry Street (Pavilion A)
Laurel, Md.
Facebook

Experience entertainment, food and more at the City of Laurel’s inaugural Pride festival.


Dancin’ Thru the Decades (70’s & 80’s)

Saturday, Oct. 8
9 p.m.
As You Are
500 8th Street, S.E.
Website

Dance at a queer dance party to the music of the 70’s and 80’s brought to you by DJ L Stackz.


Ho Co Pride

Sunday, Oct. 9
11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Meriweather Park Symphony Woods
10431 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, Md.
Facebook | Eventbrite

Keep the Pride party going by celebrating Howard County Pride in Columbia, Md. on Sunday.


Gagsters and Dragsters

Sunday, Oct. 9
1:30 p.m.
D.C. Improv Comedy Club
1140 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
$20
Facebook | Tickets

Drag entertainers and comedians perform at the D.C. Improv Comedy Club on Sunday for a fun-filled drag brunch.


Flashy: Nine Year Anniversary

Sunday, Oct. 9
9 p.m.
Flash
645 Florida Avenue, N.W.
$30
Facebook | Eventbrite

The bar is open until 4 a.m. for this milestone celebration for the big dance party that is Flashy Sundays.


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Movies

‘Bros’ bombs at weekend box office

Billy Eichner blames straight people for failing to show up

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The chemistry between Luke Macfarlane and Billy Eichner wasn’t enough to steam up the box office this weekend. (Photo courtesy Universal Studios)

The much-hyped new film “Bros,” touted as the first gay romantic comedy produced by a major Hollywood studio, bombed at the weekend box office, bringing in just $4.8 million, about half of the $8-10 million prediction for opening weekend.

The film, which stars Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane, finished in fourth place for the weekend; horror film “Smile” took the top spot with $22 million. Eichner quickly turned to Twitter to blame straight people for the poor showing.

“Even with glowing reviews, great Rotten Tomatoes scores, an A CinemaScore, etc., straight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn’t show up for ‘Bros,’” Eichner wrote. “And that’s disappointing but it is what it is.”

Not everyone agrees with Eichner’s assessment. Variety, in a Monday story, cited marketing problems and a lack of star power as likely culprits for the disappointing numbers.

“For the romantic comedy genre, star power is integral these days to getting people out of the house,” Variety’s Zach Sharf and William Earl wrote. “Paramount’s ‘The Lost City’ made it to the $105 million mark in the U.S. off the strength of pairing A-listers Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum.”

Additionally, the film’s marketing focused on the historic nature of the film, rather than its comedic appeal.

“’Bros’ marketing worked overtime to sell its importance as the first major LGBTQ studio comedy, but aggressively marketing a movie as a glass-ceiling breaker can make it feel like homework for viewers,” Sharf and Earl noted.

There have also been anecdotal reports of homophobic incidents at theaters linked to the film’s poster, which features a photo of Eichner and Macfarlane grabbing each other’s butts. 

“The goal was to make the funniest, laugh-out-loud movie as possible, that just happens to be about a gay couple,” Eichner, 44, told the Blade in an interview last week.

The studio released a statement that it remains hopeful positive reviews and word-of-mouth will give “Bros” a long theatrical run. The film cost about $22 million to make.

Eichner served as writer, producer, and co-star of the film, a romantic comedy about two commitment-phobic gay guys in a relationship. All of “Bros” writers, producers, and the lead and supporting actors identify as LGBTQ (with the exceptions of director Nicholas Stoller and producer Judd Apatow).  

Some observers worry that the poor showing by “Bros” could dissuade large studios from green-lighting LGBTQ-themed projects for mainstream release. 

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Photos

PHOTOS: Miss Gay Maryland 2022

Amethyst Diamond crowned pageant winner

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Amethyst Diamond is crowned Miss Gay Maryland 2022 on Oct. 1 at the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, Md. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The winners and alternates of Miss Glamour Girl, Miss Gay Freestate and Miss Gay Western Maryland competed for the title of Miss Gay Maryland America 2022 at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, Md. on Saturday, Oct. 1. Special guest performers included Miss Gay Maryland 2021 Maranda Rights and Miss Gay America 2022 Dextaci.

Amethyst Diamond was crowned the winner with Dezi Minaj designated the first alternate. Both queens are eligible to compete in the Miss Gay America pageant in Little Rock, Ark. in January, 2023.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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