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Calendar: Dec. 7-13, 2018

Gay Men’s Chorus, D.C. Queer Theatre Festival and more for the week ahead

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LGBT events DC Dec 2018, gay news, Washington Blade

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs Saturday night at the Lincoln Theatre. The choir’s annual holiday show also has performances slated for Dec. 15-16. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Friday, Dec. 7

Bet Mishpachah and GLOE host a Hanukkah service at Foundry United Methodist Church (1500 16th St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. Rabbi Laurie Green and guest Rabbi Ben Shalva will co-lead this musical service. 

JR.’s Bar (1519 17th St., N.W.) hosts a viewing party for “RuPaul’s Drag Race Holi-Slay Spectacular” tonight from 8-11 p.m. Attendees can watch RuPaul crown the first “Drag Race” Christmas Queen while enjoying drink specials. 

Miss Pixie’s (1626 14th St., N.W.) hosts its sixth annual holiday market today from 5-8 p.m. About 15 local makers and small businesses will be selling their items. There will be live music by jazz band the Bitter Dose Combo, vegetarian paella for sale from Barcelona Wine Bar and a raffle. All proceeds from the raffle will be donated to Casa Ruby. Miss Pixie’s items will be 20 percent off all day. 

D.C. Queer Theatre Festival kicks off at D.C. Arts Center (2438 18th St., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. Seven queer-themed, 10-minute plays will be performed from playwrights including Audrey Cefaly, Asabi Oke, Brittany Alsye Willis, John Bavaso and more. Tickets are $20. 

Saturday, Dec. 8

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs its holiday show at the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. The chorus will sing holiday songs such as “Jingle Bells,” “Puttin’ on the Holiday Drag,” “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” and more. Tickets range from $25-65. Performances are also scheduled for Dec. 15-16. For more information, visit gmcw.org

LULAC Lambda hosts its annual holiday party at the Chastleton Ballroom (1701 16th St., N.W.) tonight from 8-11 p.m. There will be tamales and mixed drinks. DJ Milko will play music and Corazon Folklorico and Sylvanna Duvel will perform. The party raises funds for academic scholarship for LGBT Latinx students. The group will also honor its Member of the Year, Board Member of the Year and Ally of the Year. Members for 2019 can also sign up at the party. 

Mary’s House for Older Adults hosts its holiday gala at Human Rights Campaign (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) tonight from 6-11 p.m. There will be door prizes and food. Michael Sainte-Andress will emcee the event. Akousa McCray-Peters will DJ for the night. Single tickets are $75. Couple tickets are $140. 

Distrkt C hosts Dirty Santa, a holiday dance party, at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) tonight from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. DJ Ed Wood will perform an extended set. Tickets are $30. 

Sunday, Dec. 9

BenDeLaCrème and Jinkx Monsoon perform their holiday show “To Jesus, Thanks for Everything” at 9:30 Club (815 V St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $35. VIP tickets are $100 and include a meet and greet and early entry. VIP entry is at 7 p.m. General admission entry is at 7:30 p.m. For more details, visit 930.com.

D.C. Area Transmasculine Society hosts “Navigating the Holidays as a Trans or NB Person,” at Whitman-Walker Health (1525 14th St., N.W.) this evening from 5-7 p.m. The support group will discuss how to navigate the holidays as a transgender or non-binary individual. The group is open to people who were assigned female at birth but do not feel this accurately or completely describes themselves. Binder donations will be accepted. HIPS syringe exchange will also be available. For more information, visit dcats.org.

Stonewall Yoga D.C. has its fall session at Pitchers (2317 18th St., N.W.) today from 10:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Beginner’s yoga is from 10:45-11:45 a.m. Intermediate yoga is from noon-1:15 p.m. Mike Giordano leads beginner’s yoga and Luke Ventura will lead intermediate practice. Fall classes run through Dec. 23. Access to all classes is $65. Drop-in is $10. 

Monday, Dec. 10

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours for the senior LGBT community this morning from 10 a.m.-noon. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Tuesday, Dec. 11

GLOE hosts Torah & Sexuality: Blood, Power and Purity at Sixth & I (600 I St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. The class focuses on sexual expression and sexual identity in a queer context led by rabbis and Jewish educators. Each class is $18. For more information, visit edcjcc.org.

Wednesday, Dec. 12

The D.C. Area Transmasculine Society hosts a trans-masculine and non-binary happy hour at the Eleanor (100 Florida Ave., N.E.) tonight from 6-9 p.m. The society is a group for people assigned female at birth but who feel this is an incomplete or inaccurate description of their identity. Significant others, friends and allies are welcome. Binder donations will be accepted. For more information, visit dcatssociety.org

Big Gay Book Group meets at Trio Bistro Restaurant (1537 17th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss “The Sparsholt Affair” by Alan Hollinghurt. Newcomers welcome. For more details, visit biggaybookgroup.com or email [email protected].

The Lambda Bridge Club meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for duplicate bridge. No reservations required and new comers welcome. If you need a partner, call 703-407-6540.

Thursday, Dec. 13

Pretty Boi Drag presents #AmateurKingNight at Beir Baron (1523 22nd St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. Amateur kings are encouraged to take the stage. The event will be ASL interpreted. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Attendees must be 18 and over. 

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Photos

PHOTOS: Dupont Circle fountain turns 100

Iconic landmark site of protests, vigils and meetings for decades

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Two young men read a copy of the Washington Blade at the Dupont Circle fountain on May 31, 1991. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

The 100th anniversary celebration of the installation of the iconic Dupont Circle fountain is to be held from noon until sundown today. The fountain has long been considered a center for the LGBTQ community in Washington, D.C. The park in the circle has been the site of many protests, vigils and a place to meet people. Here are some photos from the Washington Blade archive documenting Dupont Circle through the years.

A group of Russian and Ukrainian activists hold a rally on Feb. 22, 2014 at Dupont Circle to bring light to the abuses of the Putin regime against the LGBTQ community before the Sochi Olympics. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The fountain has long been a gay cruising spot and a place to meet up with friends. Here is a scene from Nov. 3, 1990. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

Members of the community gather at the fountain on June 15, 2016 to mourn the deaths of dozens of people at the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A view of Dupont Circle taken from above on July 22, 1985. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

Revelers cool off in the fountain following the 2012 Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Ruby Corado, executive director of the LGBTQ services organization Casa Ruby, stands with fellow trans activists at the fountain on June 21, 2019 to mourn the violent deaths of transgender women over the past year. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Whitman-Walker holds an observance for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, 2009 at the Dupont Circle fountain. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ+ marching band D.C. Different Drummers perform in a surprise flash mob at the fountain on Aug. 15, 2011. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Jane Gamble and Priscilla Hayner enjoy a meal at the fountain on Feb. 1, 1989. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

Religious and civic leaders attend a 20 year memorial for Matthew Shepard on Oct. 25, 2018. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Distenfano Kitchens dips his toes in the water at the Dupont Circle fountain. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin speaks at an anti-violence rally at Dupont Circle on June 19, 2012. (Washington Blade file photo by Blake Bergen)

Local media covers a snowball fight at the fountain on Jan. 24, 2016. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A march for transgender rights kicks off from a rally at Dupont Circle on May 17, 2015. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The DC Dyke March begins with a rally at Dupont Circle on June 7, 2019. (Washington Blade file photo by Molly Byrom)

Members of the community hold vigils for the slain of the Orlando massacre for several days at the Dupont Circle fountain. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Youth Pride Festival is held at Dupont Circle on May 2, 2015. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

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Movies

‘Hamlet/Horatio’ queers the Bard

A contemporary take on classic play

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Andrew Burdette and Themo Melikidze in ‘Hamlet/Horatio.’ (Photo courtesy Glasshouse)

While it’s not exactly a pressing topic in most people’s lives, the subject of Shakespeare’s sexuality has been hotly debated by literary scholars, theater artists, and historians for centuries. After all, not only are his plays filled with gender-swapping characters and sexual confusion, he also wrote a series of sonnets, widely considered the most romantic poems ever composed in English, and dedicated them to a mysterious young nobleman. Even in the Renaissance, when the “cult of male friendship” was a real thing and male artists could create breathtakingly erotic depictions of young men to be displayed in a church, such a bold gesture of affection from one man to another must have raised at least a few eyebrows.

It’s a controversy that isn’t likely to go away, considering the fact that anyone who might give us first-hand knowledge on the subject has been dead for about 400 years. And while some contemporary artists, across various media, have been willing to explore the playwright’s work through the lens of his possible queerness, most cinematic interpretations – with a few notable exceptions, like Derek Jarman’s “The Tempest” – have kept things decidedly hetero-centric.

Paul Warner, director of the soon-to-be-released “Hamlet/Horatio,” which riffs on a central but often overlooked relationship in Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, can’t imagine why. A graduate of both Harvard and the American Film Institute, Warner is currently a senior instructor of acting, directing, and producing at The New York Film Academy. He’s also a Shakespeare veteran, having been involved in many stage renditions of the Bard’s work (including a rock musical version of “Twelfth Night”) throughout his career – and as he tells the Blade, it’s obvious to him that the revered wordsmith was either gay or bisexual.

“There’s a tremendous amount of exploration of gender fluidity in his work,” he says. “There’s never a label on it, but it permeates Shakespeare. There are a lot of characters who fall in love with the soul of the person, rather than the gender.”

While these themes may run through comedies like “Twelfth Night” or “As You Like It,” they are considerably less obvious in Shakespeare’s tragedies – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and Warner’s new film hinges on using them to illuminate one of the most iconic male friendships in literature.

For those unfamiliar, Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is the tale of a Danish prince, who is visited by the ghost of his recently murdered father and told to seek revenge against the murderer – none other than Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, who has not only murdered the former king but taken both his throne and his queen, Gertrude, who is also Hamlet’s mother. Seeking confirmation of the crime, Hamlet engages in a game of cat-and-mouse with his uncle, in which both Hamlet’s presumed future bride Ophelia and her brother Laertes become unwitting pawns. It goes without saying that things don’t turn out well – but through it all, one steadfast and trusted figure stands at Hamlet’s side: his confidant and companion, Horatio.

“Hamlet/Horatio,” which Warner directed from a script by playwright (and frequent stage collaborator) David Vando, reimagines the original play through an unusual conceit. In his dying moments, Hamlet (Andrew Burdette) sees his life flashing before his eyes, unfolding through a film that Horatio (Themo Melikidze) directs to tell his story. By shuffling dialogue, resetting scenes, and leaning deeply into subtext, Warner reframes Hamlet’s experience into a story of spiritual and humanistic transcendence – and reveals a deeply intimate, loving bond between these two young men that has perhaps been “hiding in plain sight” all along.

Despite his interest in exploring the relationship between Hamlet and Horatio, Warner insists that he didn’t set out to make a “gay Shakespeare movie.” Indeed, he is adamant even now that the intention behind Vondo’s script (which he helped to adapt into a screenplay) was to “move past” that conception.

“Part of it was trying not to make things ‘gay’ or ‘straight,’ or ‘this’ or ‘that’ anymore, but really it’s about two people who are flip sides of each other,” he explains. “They are spiritually two sides of the same coin. And they’re in a relationship – it’s clear that there is a repressed love there. And there’s definitely an exploration of their homosexuality, but also of the fluidity of their sexuality.

“This is why the characters don’t wear their ‘identities’ on their sleeves. We wanted to show something more closely resembling a non-binary, gender-fluid vision of love and sexuality that is part of a bigger story about human truth.”

To that end, he envisioned a version of “Hamlet” in which the Denmark’s Elsinore castle bears a striking resemblance to the Trump White House. The usurping king is a despot posing as a benefactor, exerting an authoritarian rule and setting the people close to him against each other to prove their loyalty, while his queen turns a blind eye to his increasingly obvious misdeeds.

“Maybe I’m one-sided, but I tried to depict the ‘ickyness’ of that Melania-Donald dynamic between Claudius and Gertrude,” he says, not without a hint of relish. “I’ve made her trapped, like Melania, and she’s constantly drinking – she’s an immigrant, and she doesn’t speak up because she’s controlled by his finances.”

In this light, as Warner puts it, Hamlet becomes a hero of resistance, who rises to “slay” fascism, while Horatio is the filmmaker who documents it.

“It’s ultimately about Hamlet’s spiritual journey to fullness. It’s about him letting go of rage and embracing the light.”

Yet, when all is said and done, it’s the love between these two men that shines above all else.

“Hamlet eventually sacrifices his life to root out the corruption and to save those who are still alive – which is basically Horatio, his boyfriend, because everybody else is dead.”

“Hamlet/Horatio” has already played in front of audiences at a number of festivals, and has taken honors at several of them – including a Best Feature Film Jury Award at last year’s inaugural FFTG (Film Festivals to Go) Fest. The enthusiastic response has given Warner reason to hope that, despite his “queering of Shakespeare,” his film will find a “wider audience” when it debuts on digital platforms in June.

Of course, Warner fully expects to be raked across the coals for some of the liberties he has taken, such as the choice to cast transgender Native American actor Ty Defoe as the Player King and the inclusion of a scene where Hamlet and Horatio take a steam bath together – “which is not anywhere in ‘Hamlet,’ of course,” he says with a laugh.

Still, for him, his approach to the material rings true to the source.

“There’s a timelessness in the way Shakespeare deals with the danger of rage, and how that threatens spirituality. In his plays, you always have the autocrats, who want to control others, and then you have the purer people, usually younger characters, like Hamlet, who propose love, who pursue a humanitarian vision against them. That’s Shakespeare, who was, of course, writing under a monarchy.

“And after four years of authoritarian rule under Trump, I think he was way ahead of his time.”

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Travel

Palm Springs remains an ideal outdoor getaway

Safe fun with hiking and other socially distanced activities

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The Indian Canyons hike is just one of many options for safe, outdoor fun in Palm Springs. (Photo by Bill Malcolm)

Palm Springs, Calif., is a perfect vacation destination when you feel safe to travel again. With outdoor hiking and adventures, there is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the desert and mountain scenery. The LGBTQ life is back open (socially distanced, outdoor dining and drinking, masks required). The LGBTQ scene includes a vibrant downtown street, Arenas, where most (but not all) of the bars are located.

The city is nestled against the dramatic San Jacinto Mountains. The often-snow-capped peaks tower over the desert community, which is arguably the most LGBTQ friendly in the country. Palm Springs is one of seven or so cities in the Coachella Valley.

GETTING THERE: I took Southwest Airlines, which has stared service from Oakland, Denver, and Phoenix, to the very handy Palm Springs Airport. To get downtown, walk across the street to the Civic Center bus (#2) to get to your hotel. I took American back through Phoenix. Service was top notch on my favorite legacy carrier, which had great in-flight entertainment and charging stations for your devices in the seat. You can also take Amtrak direct three times a week or do an Amtrak bus/train combo to get to Palm Springs. The Sunline system also runs a bus to Riverside to connect with the commuter rail system into Los Angeles.

WHAT TO DO: Hike the Indian Canyons, the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. The desert oasis features the native Washington fan palm trees, which are the only palms actually native to the Golden State. Both Andreas and Murray Canyons are great for hiking. Palm Canyon runs along a river filled with palms and is an easy hike for all. Bring plenty of water as it can get hot on the trail.

Also hike the Henderson Trail as well or the trails at the end of Ramon Street. Both are free. Check out the modern mid-century architecture including north of downtown.

Don’t miss the LaQuinta Farmers Market on Sundays in Old Town LaQuinta (down the valley a bit). The LaQuinta Resort nearby was the destination for movie stars like Greta Garbo where you can still see her house. The beautiful grounds are worth a visit even if you don’t stay at this posh resort. Stop by Lulu’s Home and Fashion Accessories in Old Town La Quinta.

Visit the Lotus Garden Center in Palm Desert for art work and garden accessories. Take the Tram to the top of the mountain. Advance reservations are required.

Early risers may want to go for a walk or a run with the Palm Springs Front Runners/Walkers. Get the meeting times and locations at psfr.org. Work out at the World Gym. Day passes available.

WHERE TO EAT: The Public Greens Café has great juices. Enjoy the French pastries at Peninsula Pastries. Bouschet Wines also serves food in the parking lot on weekends. The creative bistro food is a must (www.boushet .com). You will find all three just south of downtown in the Sun Center strip mall. Nature’s Health Food (555 Sunrise) has great and healthy salads and other treats. Enjoy the take-out food at the park across the street.

Sherman’s Restaurant is great for New York-style deli food. You will find them downtown. The Native Food Café has a great meat free taco salad. Casa Mendoza’s Restaurant in La Quinta has great Mexican Food.

NIGHTLIFE: There’s a bar for everyone on Arenas Avenue downtown. Stacy’s has jazz and piano. Hunter’s is great for happy hour. You will find the leather crowd at the Eagle 501. Quad Z and Chill Bar are also fun as are Black Book Bar and Grill and Streetbar. Do some shopping at Gay Mart while you are in the neighborhood. All have set up outside seating to maintain social distancing and masks are required.

The Tool Shed at 600 E. Sunny Dunes Road is also fun. Enjoy a slice of pizza for $1. Farther out is the Barracks, which has a packed Sunday beer bust.

WHERE TO STAY: You cannot beat the value of the Motel 6 Downtown (660 S. Palm Canyon Drive). Just steps from Starbucks, the French Bakery, the Organic Restaurant, the Antiques District, and the Tool Shed Bar. Other options include the LGBTQ resorts, including those on Warm Sands Drive (just east of downtown). The Best Western downtown is also handy (and is right next to the Arenas area). I have also stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott. Also recommended is the Ace Hotel and Saguaro. You will find the LGBTQ resorts on Warm Sands and other locations. The Santiago resort is also very nice.

UPCOMING EVENTS: The Dinah Shore golf tournament has been moved to this fall. The Pride Parade may (or may not) be held in November.

TRAVEL TIPS: Summer is your value season as temps can be toasty. Also, you will need a reservation on weekends as the city is quite popular with the LA crowd. During the week is quieter.

Check current COVID-19 restrictions before any travel. When I was there, masks were required everywhere – inside and out including on hiking trails and sidewalks. Check COVID-19 travel recommendations from the CDC, the state of California, and Riverside County before booking your reservation to the area.

For more information, Visit Palm Springs, the official tourism website, has all you need to plan your Palm Springs vacation (visitpalmsprings.com). Check out their LGBTQ guide which has all the information you need including on the variety of LGBTQ resorts.

 

Bill Malcolm is America’s only LGBTQ value travel writer. Based in Indianapolis, he has written more than 30 columns that have appeared in LGBTQ publications around the country. His opinions are his own. He is not recommending travel unless authorized by the CDC, the State of California, and Riverside County. Check current COVID travel recommendations and restrictions before deciding to travel.

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