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Antoni Porowski shared food and laughter at Bentzen Ball Comedy Brunch

The event raised funds for Whitman-Walker Health

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Antoni Porowski at Lyft’s Bentzen Ball Comedy Brunch (Washington Blade photo by Mariah Cooper)

Lyft’s Bentzen Ball Comedy Brunch “Belly Laughs” brought plenty of food, laughter and thought-provoking conversation led by co-hosts “Queer Eye” food and wine expert Antoni Porowski and comedian Michelle Buteau at the Eaton DC on Sunday.

The charity brunch was presented in partnership with the ride-sharing app, Lyft. It raised funds for the non-profit organization and community health center serving the LGBT community, Whitman-Walker Health, which marks its 40th anniversary this year. Lyft also made a special $10,000 donation to Whitman-Walker Health in honor of LGBT History month.

Fans were only able to receive access to the brunch by applying the code “AVOCADO,” a known Porowski food favorite, into the Lyft app. Winners were then selected to participate in the private brunch.

The event kicked off with mingling as attendees sipped on Bloody Marys and orange juice and vodka courtesy of Smirnoff Vodka. Soon after, Buteau took the stage for a brief stand-up comedy set before bringing Porowski to the stage.

Porowski gave a cooking demonstration for a carrot and date salad, which he said was a recipe inspired by his father. The demonstration got interactive when Porowski chose a participant from the audience to assist with the recipe. Buteau pitched in as well, cracking jokes and banter with Porowski throughout the demonstration, and everyone in the audience received the salads for their own taste test. Porowski finished up by showing the crowd how to make his version of a Bloody Mary.

After a brief intermission, and some more food including tacos, Porowski and Buteau returned to the stage for a Q&A with the audience.

One member of the audience asked what are some of the perks of having a platform to use their voice on issues they care about.

For Buteau, it was important for her to make a positive impact on someone’s day.

“As a woman of color I’m realizing now more than ever what a social media platform is for and what kind of good it can do. Whether it’s reminding people to vote or helping people do whatever that is. At the end of the day what I love is when people slide into my DMs and they’re like ‘I was having such a shit day. Thank you so much for just putting a smile on my face,’” Buteau said.

Porowski noted that his fame has caused him to look at speaking up on issues in a different way.

“For me I think the greatest perk is a forced education on a lot of topics. I tended to be more quiet and private about a lot of things. But with the current climate it makes it more and more challenging not to say anything,” Porowski said.

He also revealed his view on Pride celebrations changed after he was invited to Montreal Pride by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this past summer. Porowski shared that despite growing up in Montreal he had never attended Pride.

“Pride was something that when I was in my first relationship with a guy I always stayed away from because I associated it with parties and a lot of excessive drug use. It wasn’t at all the way that I look at it now,” Porowski said.

After a fan from Poland reached out to him on social media thanking him for attending Pride because “it’s so nice to just see somebody who is able to celebrate freely,” Porowski says he felt like a “brat” about his previous views on Pride.

Now, Porowski encourages people to look for the positive things during the current political climate.

“What I still try to do is instead of focusing on all the negative that’s happening and going after He Who Shall Not Be Named [Trump] is focus on all the positive things that are happening because I think we still really need to remember that. It’s very easy to just fall in a hole of ‘What the fuck did he do today?’ and that becomes the new normal, that becomes acceptable. I think it’s important to remember that, we need to shed light on that, because with all the bad that’s going on there’s still a lot of good as well,” Porowski said.

It’s a sentiment that seemed to reflect throughout Bentzen Ball’s numerous comedy shows this weekend. Fellow “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness hosted three live shows of his “Getting Curious” podcast over the weekend including one conversation with Mara Keisling from the National Center for Trans Equality and another conversation with House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi.

Brightest Young Things co-founder Svetlana Legetic told the Washington Blade the goal of the comedy weekend was to get people laughing but also mobilized for action.

“Bentzen Ball is supposed to be four days where you forget about everything but you leave energized to do something,” Legetic said. “You go there and see these people who are incredibly busy and doing all this stuff and they’ve taken the time, they really care, they’re really passionate. And people say ‘Yes, I’m going to vote. Yes, I’m going to say something. Yes, it’s hilarious but I am a 100 percent voting.’”

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Sports

DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win

Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records

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The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Palm Springs, Calif. (Photo courtesy DCAC)

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) world championships in Palm Springs, Calif., in April on a mission to capture their first world title since 2013.

It was a long road back to international competition for the DCAC swimmers after the disruption of training and travel brought on by the worldwide pandemic.

When the team returned from IGLA in Melbourne, Australia in March of 2020, their training pools were closed, and all competitions were canceled.

By May they had established a training site in the South River in Annapolis where they swam until November of that year. Eventually, pools began to reopen, and the team was faced with battling for training time in COVID-restricted pools.

Following the postponement of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, the IGLA community scrambled to put together a competition in Palm Springs that would be hosted in tandem by West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions. 

DCAC’s swimmers in Palm Springs consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies ranging in age from 22 to 76 years old. Each swimmer was eligible to enter five individual events and three relay events.

With 67 teams in attendance, DCAC jumped out to an early lead on day one in the large team category with West Hollywood Aquatics and San Francisco Tsunami in close pursuit. 

Despite the disqualifications of two of their winning relays for early takeoffs, DCAC held on to their lead over the remaining three days to claim their first world title in nine years.

Three DCAC swimmers, Grant Casey, Carmen Robb and Jerry Frentsos, won gold in all five of their individual events. In total, the team won 125 gold, 66 silver and 35 bronze medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC team records.

Addison Winger was a first time IGLA swimmer and hadn’t competed in 12 years. He had heard the tales from past IGLAs and wanted to join in on the fun.

“It was a great experience to compete for DCAC at an international competition. I had never been in a championship meet before where you go through the process of tapering, shaving, and suiting up in tech gear,” says Winger. “The relays were amazing, and I enjoyed taking advice and feedback from our coaches to incorporate into future races. It was also great spending quality team with my teammates outside of the pool.”

Olivia Kisker had competed with DCAC at IGLA Melbourne in 2020 and was looking forward to traveling with her team again.

“Even though the days were long at the pool, we still had time for Joshua Tree, the gondolas and all that Palm Springs has to offer,” Kisker says. “I love traveling and doing it with your teammates provides a setting for bonding and getting to know people better. I also enjoyed competing against my teammate Sarah. It’s like a friendship and a rivalry.”

Craig Franz restarted his post-COVID competitive swimming at IGLA Palm Springs and went on to a training camp and open water race in Hawaii this past month.

“The whole thing about this team is relationships and sharing swimming as a common denominator. The swim competitions legitimize building relationships and supporting each other in healthy ways,” say Franz. “Palm Springs felt like a more relaxed setting, and we needed this meet to rebuild the team. It provided a nutritional base for what we are about – swimming and friendships.”

Sarah Padrutt had not competed since 2019 and all the talk about past IGLAs prompted her to attend for the first time.

“I had so much fun, and it was cool having people cheering and being supported by teammates,” Padrutt says. “It was also a nice wakeup call, a reminder of how much I like competing. I like the pressure of racing and being on relays with my team. It was a very positive experience.”

Charles Cockrell has been a Masters swimmer for decades and is the chair of the Legislation Committee for United States Masters Swimming. He came out in 2019 and these championships marked his first time competing at IGLA.

“I wanted to compete at a swim meet that was a combination of the LGBTQ community and the sport of swimming. It was a fun, accepting and engaging environment,” says Cockrell. “The takeaway was that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was nice to be gathered together in a queer space. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and it was great being attached to a big team like DCAC.”

Coming up next for DCAC is the United States Masters Swimming Nationals in Richmond in August. Next year, the team will travel to London for the 2023 IGLA world championships to be held in the London Olympic Pool.

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Out & About

10 LGBTQ events this week

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead

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From movie nights to dance parties, there is a lot to do in the region this week. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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


MNSkating’s Pride Too!

Monday, June 27
7:30 p.m.
Laurel Skating Center
9890 Brewers Court
Laurel, Md.
Facebook | Meetup

Join the Monday Night Skaters for a Pride-themed skating party in Laurel, Md. on Monday.


Queen of the Capital at Adams Morgan Movie Nights

Tuesday, June 28
8-11 p.m.
Adams Morgan Soccer Field
Facebook

The Adams Morgan Partnership BID will be showing “Queen of the Capital” from local documentary maker Josh Davidsburg.


Pride Night at Frederick Keys

Wednesday, June 29
6-9 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium
21 Stadium Drive
Frederick, Md.
Facebook | Tickets

Join Pride on the Patio for a night of baseball as the Frederick Keys hold Pride Night sponsored by the Frederick Center.


LGBTQ Families Discussion & Beer Tasting

Wednesday, June 29
7-8 p.m.
Aslin Beer Company
847 South Pickett Street
Alexandria, Va.
Facebook | Tickets

Rainbow Families will have an informal discussion about such topics as coming out, celebrating your child’s identity, being a good ally in the workplace and more . . . followed by a beer tasting! No charge, but donations will be taken.


First Friday LGBTQ+ Social with GoGayDC

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
The Commentary (in the Westin)
801 North Glebe Road
Arlington, Va.
Facebook | Eventbrite

Join GoGayDC for a monthly social gathering in Ballston.


Drag Race All-Stars Viewing Party

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
JR.’s Bar
1519 17th Street, N.W.
Facebook

Get together with other Drag Race super fans for an evening viewing party hosted by Citrine.


Outdoor Movie Night

Friday, July 1
8:30-10:30 p.m.
Stead Park
1625 P Street, N.W.
Facebook

Bring your blanket and catch a movie on the big screen at Stead Park.


FireWerk with DJ Chord

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead

Friday, July 1
9 p.m.
AquaGrill Reho
57 Baltimore Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Facebook 

Kick off Independence Day weekend in Rehoboth with a no cover dance party at AquaGrill.


Zodiac Drag Contest

Zodiac Drag Contest (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Sunday, July 3
8 p.m.
Freddie’s Beach Bar
555 23rd Street S
Arlington, Va.
$5 cover
Facebook

The monthly amateur drag competition returns to Freddie’s on Sunday. Check out the new talent (or try it out yourself).


Flashy 4th of July Weekend

Sunday, July 3 – Monday, July 4
10 p.m.
Flash
645 Florida Aveune, N.W.
$30
Facebook | Eventbrite

Celebrate Independence Day with a Flashy 4th of July on the dance floor of Flash.


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Photos

PHOTOS: Loudoun Pride

LGBTQ community celebration held at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Va.

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Loudoun County, Va. elected officials gather on the main stage at Loudoun Pride on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The first Loudoun Pride was held at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Va. on Saturday, June 26.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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