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Calendar: Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2018

Dances, concerts and more in the week to come



gay events 2018, gay news, Washington Blade

Alex Newell of ‘Glee’ fame performs at The Red Party Saturday night. (Photo courtesy Capital Pride)

Friday, Nov. 30

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts Queer Tango Class tonight from 7-9 p.m. Liz Sabatiuk, instructor of Tango Mercurio, will lead the class. The course is designed for beginner dancers to learn tango vocabulary and technique. The class will also discuss the assumptions of gender in dance and welcomes students to experiment with both gender roles. There is a $10 donation to support the D.C. Center. Sliding scale tickets are also available. For more information, visit

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts Woof Happy Hour and Porn Star Bingo today at 5 p.m. Eddie Danger hosts the party. There will be free pizza at 7:30 p.m. Drink specials include $4 rail drinks, $4 draft beers and more. For more details, visit

Saturday, Dec. 1

Capital Pride Alliance celebrates its 10th anniversary with the Red Party at Echo Stage (2135 Queens Chapel Rd., N.E.) tonight from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. There will be performances from “Glee” star Alex Newell, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Jujubee, local and veteran queen Kristina Kelly and Pretty Boi Drag co-producer Pretty Rik E. DJ Tezrah, DJ Wess and DJ Tracy Young will play music. Tickets are $15. Total ticket proceeds will benefit the Capital Pride Legacy Fund. For more information, visit

Whitman-Walker Health and Real Talk D.C. host Walk & 5K to End HIV at Freedom Plaza (14th St., N.W. and Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) today from 7-11 a.m. Check-in starts at 7:30 a.m. The 5K begins at 9:15 a.m. and the walk is at 9:20 a.m. Post-event actives begin at 10 a.m. Runner registration is $25, walker registration is $25, student/senior walkers are $15 and “Sleepwalkers,” those who cannot attend the event, are $40. Register at

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts Daddy, a men’s jock and underwear party, tonight from 8 p.m.-4 a.m. DJ Strike Walton Stone and DJ Dean Douglas Sullivan will spin tracks. Bryan Thompson will be the go-go dancer for the evening. VIP meet and greet tickets are available. General admission tickets are $12. For more details, visit

Sunday, Dec. 2

Swazz Bazaar, a queer holiday bazaar, is at 1620 North Capitol St., N.W. today from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. There will be queer vendors selling and displaying art, fashion, magazines and other products. There will also be performances from local queer musicians, performance artists and designers. For details, visit

“Waiting to Exhale Twisted” is at Chateau Remix (3439 Benning Rd., N.E.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. The sold-out play follows two drag queens and two transgender female friends as they navigate relationships with transgender and gay men and each other. Shi-Queeta-Lee, Riley Knoxx, Tanya Clarke and Capri Bloomingdale star. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. For more information, visit

Friendship Place hosts Winter Warmth, a free winter clothing drive, hot meal, hair cut and shave event, at Washington Hebrew Congregation (3935 Macomb St., N.W.) today from 2:30-5:30 p.m. There will be a shuttle bus from Tenleytown Metro for people attending the event. For more information, visit

Pop a cappella group Pentatonix performs at the Anthem (901 Wharf St., S.W.) for their “The Christmas is Here Tour” tonight at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $59.50-149.50. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. For more details, visit

Monday, Dec. 3

The Internet brings its “Hive Mind Tour” to the Fillmore (8656 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, Md.) tonight at 8 p.m. The indie-R&B band features lesbian lead singer Syd Tha Kid and bisexual guitarist Steve Lacy. Moon Child opens the show. Tickets are $35. For more details, visit

Pride Fund to End Gun Violence hosts Cocktails with a Cause Happy Hour at Number Nine (1435 P St., N.W.) tonight from 7-9 p.m. The happy hour will celebrate the Pride Fund’s successes from 2018 and prepare for a new year of advocacy. General admission tickets are $50. Young Professional tickets are $25. For more information, visit

Tuesday, Dec. 4

Rainbow Youth Alliance hosts a Happy Hour at Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) today at 6 p.m. All adults who support LGBT youth are welcome to attend. Drag bingo kicks off at 7 p.m. Nellie’s will donate a portion of the evening’s proceeds to Rainbow Youth Alliance. For more details, visit

Capital Pride hosts its Holiday Heat Wave party at Human Rights Campaign (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) tonight from 7-10 p.m. There will be culinary stations from Asia Nine Bar & Lounge, Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., Mixology Bartending & Catering and more. Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Heineken and Tito’s will provide beverages. General admission tickets are $15. VIP tickets with open bar are $30. For more information, visit

StartOut Rising D.C. hosts a LGBT entrepreneurs and startup happy hour at Number Nine (1435 P St., N.W.) tonight from 6-8 p.m. StartOut’s mission is to connect and educate LGBT entrepreneurs and to create jobs for LGBT individuals in the local community. No cover. For more details, visit

Wednesday, Dec. 5

Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses “The Immoralist” by Andre Gide at the Cleveland Park Library (3310 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome. For details, visit

The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for social bridge. No partner needed. For more information, call 301-345-1571.

Thursday, Dec. 6

GLOE, Bet Mishpachah, Nice Jewish Boys DC and Nice Jewish Girls host Oh Gaydel, Gaydel, Gaydel! Queer Chanukah Happy Hour at Pitchers (2317 18th St., N.W.) tonight from 6-9 p.m. This is an annual gathering of the local LGBT Jewish community. No cover. For more information, search the event on Facebook. 

Reel Affirmations screens “Buddies” at Human Rights Campaign (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. in honor of World AIDS Day. The film, directed by Arthur J. Bressan Jr., tells the story of a young gay man who volunteers to be a “buddy” to an AIDS patient. There will be a possible cast talk back and catered cocktail reception with co-star David Schachter. Rayceen Pendarvis hosts the screening. VIP tickets are $25 and include VIP seating, one complimentary cocktail, beer or wine and movie candy or popcorn. General admission tickets are $12. For more details, visit

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A bisexual coming-of-age tale with heart

‘Things We Couldn’t Say’ offers pleasant surprises



(Book cover image courtesy of Scholastic)

‘Things We Couldn’t Say’
By Jay Coles
c.2021, Scholastic $18.99/320 pages

You’d like an explanation, please.

Why something is done or not, why permission is denied, you’d like to hear a simple reason. You’ve been asking “Why?” since you were two years old but now the older you get, the more urgent is the need to know – although, in the new book “Things We Couldn’t Say” by Jay Coles, there could be a dozen becauses.

Sometimes, mostly when he didn’t need it to happen, Giovanni Zucker’s birth mother took over his thoughts.

It wasn’t as though she was the only thing he had to think about. Gio was an important part of the basketball team at Ben Davis High School; in fact, when he thought about college, he hoped for a basketball scholarship. He had classes to study for, two best friends he wanted to hang out with, a little brother who was his reason to get up in the morning, and a father who was always pushing for help at the church he ran. As for his romantic life, there wasn’t much to report: Gio dated girls and he’d dated guys and he was kinda feeling like he liked guys more.

So no, he didn’t want to think about his birth mother. The woman who walked out on the family when Gio was a little kid didn’t deserve his consideration at all. There was just no time for the first woman who broke his heart.

It was nice to have distractions from his thoughts. Gio’s best friends had his back. He knew pretty much everybody in his Indianapolis neighborhood. And the guy who moved across the street, a fellow b-baller named David, was becoming a good friend.

A very good friend. David was bisexual, too.

But just as their relationship was beginning, the unthinkable happened: Gio’s birth mother reached out, emailed him, wanted to meet with him, and he was torn. She said she had “reasons” for abandoning him all those years ago, and her truth was not what he’d imagined.

There are a lot of pleasant surprises inside “Things We Couldn’t Say.”

From the start, author Jay Coles gives his main character a great support system, and that’s a uniquely good thing. Gio enjoys the company of people who want the best for him, and it’s refreshing that even the ones who are villains do heroic things.

Everyone in this book, in fact, has heart, and that softens the drama that Coles adds – which leads to another nice surprise: there’s no overload of screeching drama here. Overwrought teen conflict is all but absent; even potential angsts that Gio might notice in his urban neighborhood are mentioned but not belabored. This helps keep readers focused on a fine, relatable, and very realistic coming-of-age story line.

This book is aimed at readers ages 12-and-up, but beware that there are a few gently explicit, but responsibly written, pages that might not be appropriate for kids in the lower target range. For older kids and adults, though, “Things We Couldn’t Say” offers plenty of reasons to love it.

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Music & Concerts

5 little questions for bounce queen Big Freedia

New tour comes to D.C. on Sept. 29



Big Freedia plays D.C. next week. (Photo by kathclick via Bigstock)

There wasn’t much good news coming out of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans in 2005, but bounce music queen Big Freedia changed that narrative when she returned to the Big Easy to uplift community spirits with her high-energy stage performances. 

She was already well known in the area, having made a name for herself on the Crescent City club scene, and she was just starting to break out nationally. Fast forward a decade to 2016 and she was a full-fledged star featured on Beyoncé’s “Formation,” and Drake’s “Nice For What” in 2018. In 2021, after a lengthy hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Freedia is bigger than ever, with a current tour and a new album, “Big Diva Energy.” The D.C. stop on the tour is Sept. 29 at Lincoln Theatre; tickets available at

WASHINGTON BLADE: You have a penchant for purses. What’s a favorite in your own collection, and what’s one you can’t wait to get your hands on?

BIG FREEDIA: Michael Kors is one of my all time favorites, but I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Tory Burch tote that I ordered. It’s burgundy and I cannot wait for it to arrive!

 BLADE: You always have the wildest looks. Where does your style inspiration come from? What’s one place you love to source your pieces?

BIG FREEDIA: My looks are inspired by anything and everything I see. I can be at the grocery store, watching a movie, or touring in a new city and get ideas and style inspiration. My secret sourcing spot is on Melrose Avenue in L.A. I won’t tell you the name though; it’s my secret.

BLADE: You’re also a gun-violence activist. Your brother was killed a few years ago by gunfire, and you’ve been shot yourself. A documentary on the subject called “Freedia Got a Gun” – starring you – is available to stream on Peacock. Was this a cathartic project for you?

BIG FREEDIA: I haven’t the slightest idea how to solve the awful gun violence problem we have in America. I do believe in prevention though, and I know that mental health is a very important part of it for our Black and LGBTQ+ youth – all youth. If kids have hope and opportunities, a life of violence will be much less likely. I am very much an advocate of mental health services and support in our communities. 

BLADE: What do you have planned for your fans that have waited so long to see you on tour? 

BIG FREEDIA: A Big Freedia show is a big party, so they can expect an even bigger party since we’ve been in our homes. Extra energy, extra Bounce! All I can say is please BE VACCINATED if you come to a show and let us all celebrate safely. 

BLADE: Tell me all about your next album. Are there any fire collabs in the works?

BIG FREEDIA: I’m very excited about my new project. It’s called “Big Diva Energy.” I wanted this to be my album and reflect my voice, so I didn’t get collabs. My homegirl, Boyfriend, is on one track. We’ve worked a ton together this year, but she’s the only one.

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBTQ lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.

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‘Cured’ beautifully chronicles fight for dignity

New doc revisits APA designation of homosexuality as a sickness



Disguised as ‘Dr. H. Anonymous’ in an oversized tuxedo and distorted Nixon mask, Dr. John Fryer sent shock waves through the APA’s 1972 convention. (Photo by Kay Tobin; courtesy Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library)

At the 1970 American Psychiatric Association convention, in front of 10,000 professional members, LGBTQ activists had a single rejoinder to decades of APA designation of homosexuality as a sickness in need of treatment: “There is no ‘cure’ for that which is not a disease.” It marked the first direct clash with a psychiatric profession that had classified homosexuality as a mental disorder and advised everything from talk therapy to psychologically destructive shock therapy to “cure” homosexuality. 

After Stonewall, gay activists concluded that the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the APA would hold back the advancement of the gay rights movement. To secure equality, activists knew they had to debunk the idea that they are sick. 

The struggle to remove homosexuality from the APA’s definition of mental illness is beautifully chronicled in the forthcoming documentary “Cured” — beautifully because the filmmakers contrast erroneous characterizations of homosexuality by mid-century psychiatrists with mid-century photographs that bore witness to gay people’s actual nature. 

Getting the APA to change required more than storming conferences. Gay activists, for instance, pinpointed sympathetic young psychiatrists who could act to reform the APA from within and helped them win seats on the Board of Trustees. Meanwhile, the culture was changing. In the 1970s, gay visibility was growing, which boosted the campaign to end the sickness label. 

At its 1972 convention, the APA offered a platform to gay rights activists Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings. The duo invited Dr. John Fryer to testify about what it was like to be a gay psychiatrist. Fearing damage to his reputation (he had previously lost a position for being gay), Fryer donned a mask and adopted the title H. Anonymous. Despite his cloaked persona, his testimony was, in the words of one attendee, a “game-changer.” 

Fryer spoke as a gay man with “real flesh and blood stand[ing] up before this organization and ask[ing] to be listened to” and evoked the great emotional toll of being forced to live in the closet — “this is the greatest loss: our honest humanity.” The tide was turning but the intransigent faction needed a few more kicks. Representing a new generation of psychiatrists, Dr. Charles Silverstein would lay down the gauntlet: The APA could either continue to promote “undocumented theories that have unjustly harmed a great number of people” or accept the genuine science that being gay was no illness. At the next year’s convention, in a final clash between opposing sides, Gay Activist Alliance member Ronald Gold pointed out the absurdity that a medical practice predicated on making sick people well was making “gay people sick.” The APA ended its mental illness classification in 1974. 

“Cured” represents a growing awareness of the history of “curing” homosexuality. Netflix recently premiered “Pray Away” about the so-called “ex-gays” who promoted conversion therapy, the destructive practice by fundamentalist Christian quacks. The film “Boy Erased” (2018) took a similar sledgehammer to conversion therapy. 

Precisely because of the long-term ill-effects of stigmatizing gay consciousness, the LGBTQ community has in recent years targeted conversion therapy. Twenty states have banned conversion therapy for minors, and an additional five states have enacted partial bans. 

Although thoroughly discredited by medical professionals, including the APA, conversion therapy continues to harm thousands of youths each year. While “Cured” is instructive for LGBTQ activists combatting conversion therapy nationwide, it has an even more important lesson. 

“There isn’t anything wrong with them, so there can’t be anything wrong with me,” is how one gay man remembers feeling upon entering a gay bar, witnessing convivial gay men and realizing it was time to ditch his homophobic shrink and embrace himself. 

It struck a deep chord with me because I had a similar epiphany as a young man. Feeling my way around my sexuality as a grad student in New York, it all finally came together one night at a Greenwich bar as I sat across from two gay men and chatted about traveling and career ambitions. I am doing nothing wrong, I thought. It made no sense to be afraid of living my life as a gay man.

Our determination to live openly remains a potent inspiration for those still struggling with acceptance, and the strongest rebuke of those who would seek to erase us. 

“Cured” premieres on PBS on Oct. 11. 

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