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Calendar: Dec. 21-Jan. 10, 2018-2019

Dance parties, support groups, Christmas events and more through the holidays and beyond

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gay events dc holidays 2018, gay news, Washington Blade

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas Ice” exhibit is open now through Jan. 1 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. (Photo courtesy Gaylord)

Friday, Dec. 21

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts Pup Night tonight from 8 p.m.-3 a.m. Puppies and handlers are welcome. There will be a large mosh area for play. Kibble and drink specials run all night. Attendees must be 18 to enter and 21 to drink. The drag show begins upstairs at 10:30 p.m. For more details, visit dceagle.com.

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) also hosts “The War on Christmas,” a holiday dance party, today from noon-3 a.m. DJ IcyFunk will spin tracks. Free entry before midnight. $5 cover after midnight. For more information, visit dceagle.com.

XX+Crostino (1926 9th St., N.W.) hosts Cuddles and Coco today from 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. There will be a variety of hot coco, spiked eggnog, Christmas cookies and s’mores. “The Grinch” and two other movies of the crowd’s choosing will be screened. Guests are encouraged to bring a bean bag and blankets. Pillows will be provided. For more details, visit facebook.com/xxcrostino.

D.C. Bear Crue hosts Bear Happy Hour at Uproar Lounge & Restaurant (639 Florida Ave., N.W.) this evening from 5-10 p.m. Drink specials include $5 rail cocktails and $5 draft pitchers of Bud Light and Shock Top. Free appetizers will be handed out all night. For more details, visit facebook.com/bearhappyhour.

Macy Gray performs at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper cLUB (7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md.) tonight at 8 p.m. The singer/songwriter with the signature raspy voice will perform songs from her newest album “Ruby.” Tickets range from $67-87. There is a $20 food and beverage minimum per person not included in the ticket price. For more information, visit bethesdabluesjazz.com.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts holiday game night tonight from 7-9 p.m. There will be card and board games provided but attendees are invited to bring their own games to share. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

Saturday, Dec. 22

Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) hosts Robyn vs. Gaga Dance Party tonight at 9:30 p.m. The venue will only play Lady Gaga and Robyn’s hits, remixes, collaborations and deep tracks all night. Tickets are $10. For more details, visit blackcatdc.com.

The National Museum of American History (14th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W.) screens “Die Hard” for one day only today from 3-5 p.m. Tickets range from $6-10. For more information, visit si.edu/imax/movie.

The D.C. Center volunteers at Food and Friends (219 Riggs Rd., N.E.) today from 10 a.m.-noon. The group will help prepare meals to people living with HIV, cancer and other life challenging illnesses. Duties may include peeling, dicing, portioning, sorting, bagging, labeling and more. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

The National Symphony Orchestra performs “Handel’s Messiah” at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. The show will be conducted by Nicholas McGegan. Tickets range from $15-99. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center (201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.) presents “A Charlie Brown Christmas. ICE” today through Jan. 1. Charlie Brown rediscovers the meaning of Christmas through two million pounds of ice sculptures and displays. Attractions in the indoor winter wonderland include the depiction of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the full nativity scene carved out of ice. Adult tickets are $32 and child ticket are $24. For more details, visit gaylordnationaltickets.com.

Sunday, Dec. 23

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) has a drag brunch today with shows at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Drag entertainers will perform as Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Pink and more. Tickets are $41.91 and include an all-you-can-eat buffet and one mimosa or bloody mary. Performers include Chanel Devereaux, Alexiya-nycole Davenport, Chicki Parm, LaBellela Ziah and Sapphire Ardwick Ardmore-Blue. For more details, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

Downtown Holiday Market’s last day is today from noon-8 p.m. in the center of 8th and F Streets, N.W. The market offers hundreds of gift items such as jewelry, pottery, paintings and more sold by more than 150 regional artisans. There is also live music and food and drink vendors. For more information, visit downtownholidaymarket.com.

Monday, Dec. 24

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, Md.) screens “It’s a Wonderful Life” today at 1:45 and 6:45 p.m. The film will be shown in new 4K restoration The 1:45 p.m. showing will include a book event with Jeremy Arnold author of Turner Classic Movies’ “Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season. “ Tickets range from $5-13. For more information, visit silver.afi.com.

Tuesday, Dec. 25

The Yards D.C. (301 Water St., S.E.) presents Light Yards tonight from 6-10 p.m. This event includes outdoor public light art installations including worldwide traveling light installations “The Pool” by Jen Lewin Studio and “Angels of Freedom” by OGE Group. On “The Pool,” visitors can hop, skip and jump on 106 interactive circular pads of light. “Angels of Freedom” turns visitors into angels when they pose in front of five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos. Admission is free. For more details, visit theyardsdc.com.

Wednesday, Dec. 26

Freddie’s Beach Bar Bar (555 23rd St. S, Arlington, Va.) hosts Beach Blanket Drag Bingo  tonight from 8-10 p.m. Entry is free and there will be prizes. After bingo, there will be karaoke. Ms. Regina Jozet Adams, Ophelia Bottoms and Ashlee Jozet Adams host the event. For more information, visit facebook.com/freddiesbeachbararlington.

Anita Baker performs at MGM National Harbot (101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md.) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $95-350. For more details, visit mgmnationalharbor.com.

Thursday, Dec. 27

Le Kon Restaurant (3227 Washington Blvd., Arlington, Va) hosts its weekly Pride Night today at 6 p.m. Fifteen percent of all bar proceeds will be donated to NOVA Pride. For more information, visit facebook.com/lekonrestaurant.

Friday, Dec. 28

XX+Crostino (1926 9th St., N.W.) hosts “Get On Bad: Holiday Fete,” a queer dance party, tonight from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. DJ Elle Groove will spin Soca, dancehall and afro-beats. There will be food and drink specials. Free admission. For more details, visit facebook.com/xxcrostino.

Gamma D.C., a support group for men in mixed-orientation relationships, meets at Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave., N.W.) today from 7:30-9:30 p.m. The group is for men who are attracted to men but are or were in relationships with women. For more information about the group and location, visit gammaindc.org

Saturday, Dec. 29

U Street Music Hall (1115 U St., N.W.) hosts “U Sleaze Holiday Party” tonight from 10 p.m.- 3 a.m. Diyanna Monet, Lemz and Kennan Orr will perform. Jane Saw hosts the party. Admission is $5 in advance and $10 after midnight. For more information, visit ustreetmusichall.com.

Queer Girl Movie Night hosts its Holigay edition at Black Cat D.C. (1811 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 8-11 p.m. The group will screen “Disobedience” starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the screening starts at 8:30 p.m. For more details, visit facebook.com/queergrrrlmovienight.

Sunday, Dec. 30

Hempen Hill BBQ (13208 Fountain Head Plaza, Hagerstown, Md.) hosts a holiday drag brunch today from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Nicole James, Stephanie Michaels, Chi Chi Ray Colby, Sasha Renee, Ashley Bannks and Chasity Vain will perform. Araya Sparxx hosts. Tickets include brunch buffet and two drink tickets. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for children under two. For more details, visit hempenhillbbq.com.

Flash (645 Florida Ave., N.W.) hosts Flashy Holiday Edition tonight from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. DJ Twin and DJ Sean Morris will spin tracks. Admission is free. For more information, visit facebook.com/flashydc.

Monday, Dec. 31

The Yards D.C. (301 Water St., S.E.) presents Light Yards tonight from 6-10 p.m. This event includes outdoor public light art installations including worldwide traveling light installations “The Pool” by Jen Lewin Studio and “Angels of Freedom” by OGE Group. On “The Pool,” visitors can hop, skip and jump on 106 interactive circular pads of light. “Angels of Freedom” turns visitors into angels when they pose in front of five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos. Admission is free. Light Yards runs through Jan. 5. For more details, visit theyardsdc.com.

Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019

Shaw’s Tavern (520 Florida Ave., N.W.) hosts New Years Day Drag Brunch today from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Kristina Kelly and her Ladies of Illusion will perform. Seating will be from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. For reservations, email [email protected].

Wednesday, Jan. 2

Freddie’s Beach Bar Bar (555 23rd St. S, Arlington, Va.) hosts Beach Blanket Drag Bingo  tonight from 8-10 p.m. Entry is free and there will be prizes. After bingo, there will be karaoke. Ms. Regina Jozet Adams, Ophelia Bottoms and Ashlee Jozet Adams host the event. For more information, visit facebook.com/freddiesbeachbararlington.

Thursday, Jan. 3

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts Blackout Thursdays tonight from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. This is a party with no lights. Guys in gear receive $3 rail drinks or domestic beers. For more details, visit dceagle.com.

Friday, Jan. 4

Go Gay D.C. hosts a Friday happy hour social at the Pinzimini lounge in Westin Arlington Gateway (801 N Glebe Rd., Arlington, Va.) tonight from 6-9 p.m. All are welcome. No cover. For more details, visit gogaydc.org.

Gay District meets at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 8:30-9:30 p.m. The facilitated group discussion covers building understanding of gay culture and personal identity and awareness of community events for LGBT men between the ages of 18-35 in the D.C. area. For more details, visit gaydistrict.org.

Saturday, Jan. 5

OutWrite presents Unspeakable Crimes: LGBTQ Mystery Writing at East City Bookshop (645 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.) today from 6-8 p.m. There will be selected readings from Brenda Buchanan, John Copenhaver and Cheryl Head. Sherry Harris from Sisters of Crime will moderate. For more information, visit thedccenter.org/events/unspeakable.

The D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) hosts Daddy, a men’s jock and underwear party, tonight 8 p.m.-4 a.m. DJ Strike Walton Stone and DJ Dean Douglas will play music. Bryan Thompson will go-go dance for the night. General admission tickets are $10. VIP meet-and-greet tickets are available. For more details, visit dceagle.com.

Sunday, Jan. 6

The fifth edition of Glow in Georgetown holds its finale night tonight from 5-10 p.m. The light-art exhibit features installations from numerous artists set up throughout the neighborhood. The event is free and open to the public. There are also a number of walking tours attendees can choose from that incorporate the light art as well as other information such as historical facts about Georgetown or photography lessons. For more information, visit georgetownglowdc.com.

Monday, Jan. 7

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, Jan. 8

Republic (6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park, Md.) hosts Alegre Happy Hour, an LGBT happy hour, this evening from 5-7 p.m. For more information, visit republictakoma.com.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts its trans support group tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. The group is meant to provide an emotional and physical safe space for transgender individuals and those questioning their gender identity. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts a coming-out discussion group tonight at 7 p.m. This peer-peer-facilitated discussion will open the conversation about coming out experiences. All are welcome. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Wednesday, Jan. 9

D.C. Fray Softball hosts Men Seeking Men Speed Dating at Grand Central (2447 18th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. This happy hour speed dating event is for local, single men in their 20s and 30s. Extended happy hour specials run until 10 p.m. There will also be a chance to win raffle prizes. D.C. Fray staff will guide the experience. Participants must be 21 and over. For more information, visit dcfray.com to register.

Thursday, Jan. 10

OutWrite presents its inaugural Queer Book Club in the lounge of the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. The group will discuss “Dodging and Burning” by John Carpenter. All are welcome. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

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Movies

‘Framing Agnes’ unearths historic trans narratives for engaging doc

Pioneering figure beat the cis-hetero patriarchy at their own game

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Chase Joynt and Zackary Drucker in ‘Framing Agnes.’ (Image courtesy of Kino Lorber)

You might assume in 2022 that information about our cultural heroes from the past would be readily available. After all, we carry the entire repository of human knowledge, or at least the potential for accessing it, in the palm of our hands; if someone has made a significant impact in our history, even within the history of a specific community, it stands to reason that a factual chronicle of their life would exist.

What happens, though, when an important figure is part of a community that has been historically disregarded by the mainstream narrative? When the influence they’ve cast across the years has been buried deep in anonymity by a determined effort to marginalize or even erase the community they represent?

That’s the question explored in “Framing Agnes,” a new film from transmasculine Canadian director Chase Joynt (“No Ordinary Man”) that blends documentary, narrative, and speculative analysis as it goes on a deep dive into the buried case files of an infamous gender health study headed by psychiatrist Robert Stoller at UCLA in the 1950s and 1960s. The “Agnes” of the title refers to the pseudonymous “Agnes Torres,” who was one of dozens of individuals interviewed as part of the research about transgender identity.

Agnes, portrayed in Joynt’s movie by Zackary Drucker (“Transparent”), has become legendary within the trans community for successfully navigating an institutional system to access the gender-affirming care it would otherwise have denied her. At a time when surgery was only granted to intersex individuals, she lied about having taken estrogen to feminize her body from an early age, claiming instead to have been born with physiological characteristics of both genders; she was given access the procedure, which was performed in 1959, and continued to participate in the study. Years later, she confessed her ruse to Stoller, who was then forced to retract and rethink the findings which had formed part of the basis for his influential writings around transgender identity — writings, it should be said, that approached the subject as a “pathology” and considered it a psychological condition to be corrected or prevented.

It’s easy to see why Agnes would be a heroic figure to today’s trans community. After all, she not only beat the cis-hetero patriarchy at their own game, she also managed to single-handedly sabotage the credibility of theories that were being used to legitimize anti-trans bias. Though her real identity may be forever hidden to us, her audacity alone is more than enough to elevate her to the status of trans icon.

She was, however, not the only one. The interviews – which were conducted by sociologist Harold Garfinkel, Stoller’s collaborator on the study – also document the lived experiences of many other anonymous participants, and Joynt’s film positions Agnes as only the best-known among what was, in fact, a much wider and more diverse sampling of individuals, all with relatable stories about living a trans life in mid-century America. These include trans women of color as well as trans men, who were far outside the boundaries of what most Americans were willing to accept in an era when Christine Jorgensen – pretty, blonde, and “respectably” cultured – was the only face of “transsexuality” in the public eye.

In “Framing Agnes,” Joynt elevates a handful of these unsung trans pioneers alongside Agnes, collaborating with several notable trans performers – besides Drucker, Angelica Ross (“Pose”), Jen Richards (“Mrs. Fletcher”), Max Wolf Valerio, Silas Howard, and Stephen Ira are among the cast – to re-enact their interviews with Garfinkel on camera. Eschewing a straightforward approach in favor of a more artful conceit, these segments are presented not in their clinical setting, but in the style of a Mike-Wallace-style TV interview of the era, with Joynt himself taking on the role of Garfinkel opposite each of his subjects. Even further, he intersperses the re-enactments themselves with footage and interviews documenting the creation of the segments – something akin to a “making of” special feature built right into the movie itself – and commentary focused on putting these historical snapshots of trans life into the context of what we now understand about transgender identity.

While it all might sound a trifle art-y, the filmmaker maintains a loose, accessible, even playful tone to the style – while still respecting the subject matter, and the subjects – that no doubt contributed to the movie’s win of both the Audience Award and the “NEXT” Innovator Prize at this year’s Sundance Festival. Rather than interrupting the flow, this stylistic format illuminates the material as we go, giving us a chance to share the insights of the artists as they work to bring these nuggets of history to life, and offering an opportunity to reflect on how these long-hidden tales of queer existence connect to our own in the here and now.

Yet there are times in “Framing Agnes” – particularly in its latter half – when one can’t help but feel frustrated by a sense of distance. We are ultimately given only snippets of these compelling narratives and left only with conjectured facts that can be extrapolated from contextual circumstance or by reading between the lines; the onscreen discussion around them – helped immeasurably by the availability of language around the subject matter that didn’t exist at the time they were recorded – serves to enlighten, to amplify, and to humanize, but we are never allowed to get deeply enough inside them to really know the people at their center.

That, of course, is the answer to the question we posed in the beginning. When the record of our heroes has been suppressed, all we have left are icons. We can surmise, project, interpret, and guess as much as we want, but we can never know much, if anything, about them beyond whatever words they may have left us. In the case of Agnes and her fellow interviewees, those words reveal much about what it was like to be trans in their time, and verify many of our assumptions about it while contradicting others. 

They tell us things about their feelings, their relationships, their self-esteem, their survival tactics, and many of the other universal touchstones of experience that can evoke solidarity between generations an era apart; beyond these things, they tell us nothing, and we can only rely, like the artists who came together to create “Framing Agnes,” on our imaginations.

It helps that each of the performers seems deeply invested in their character – further proof, if any were needed, of the value of lived experience over outsider assumption when it comes to acting in such roles – and that the vintage segments are executed with meticulous skill and attention to detail. And if we are denied, perhaps, the opportunity to fully access the lives of the people Joynt’s movie profiles, we are welcomed into the conversation about them – indeed, into the whole creative process – by the artists who brought them to us.

“Framing Agnes” is currently in a limited theatrical run before expanding to select cities nationwide. If it doesn’t make it to a screen near you, don’t worry – it’s slated for a streaming debut early next year.

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Music & Concerts

Trans soprano leads glorious 18th century ‘Christmas Oratorio’

Misgivings about fitting into music world prove unwarranted

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Soprano Elijah McCormack 

Washington Bach Consort presents
Bach’s Christmas Oratorio
Saturday Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.
Music Center at Strathmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, Md.
$25 – $89
Strathmore.org

When it comes to opera, Elijah McCormack, 28, is typically cast as children. The talented trans male soprano looks young and sings high, so outside of an educational setting where he’s played adult parts, playing extreme youths has become a sort of musical niche. 

“It would be really cool to do a baroque opera and actually sing the primary male lead,” he opines good naturedly before avowing a passion for both opera and his other work – singing sacred music as a grownup at far-flung concerts and festivals.

On Saturday, McCormack joins the Washington Bach Consort at Strathmore as the soprano soloist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, a glorious 18th century Baroque telling of the Nativity, sometimes billed as Germany’s “seasonal equivalent to the English-speaking world’s “Messiah.”

 “The oratorio is lovely. There are two soprano arias: one is bouncy and exciting and the other meditative. I like them both,” he says. 

While this is his first time performing at Strathmore, he’s sung with the Washington Bach Consort before. The consort’s artistic director Dana Marsh met McCormack at Indiana University’s Historical Performance Institute (where Marsh is a professor and McCormack graduated in 2019 with a master’s of music) In recent years, Marsh has invited him to sing with the consort as both soloist and ensemble member. McCormack cites Marsh as a formative influence and great help. 

McCormack grew up in Connecticut (where he’s currently based) surrounded by classical music. In addition to a lawyer father passionate about the Romantics (Mahler, Strauss, Wagner), there were many choir practices and performances at the local Episcopalian church, and some pre-transition musical theater parts in high school including Grandma Tzeitel in “Fiddler on the Roof.” 

“I liked musical theater; it didn’t like me,” he says wryly.  

During his undergrad years at Skidmore, a liberal arts college in upstate New York, McCormack was a studio art major with a concentration in painting who did loads of singing too. Still, as a trans male soprano, he wasn’t sure there would be a place for him in the professional musical performance world. 

In 2016, near the end of his senior year, something rare and wonderful happened. Skidmore uncharacteristically staged a fully produced Baroque opera, “Serse” by Handel, and McCormack was cast as the secondary male lead, a role originally written for a castrato: “That experience of singing was really affirming for me. I suddenly knew there were roles for me and music that suited my voice.” 

He had realized he was trans at 17 and transitioned socially at Skidmore. “For me personally, it was a fairly uncomfortable way for me to spend my first years in college. At one point, I’d thought about hormone therapy and figured that “Serse” would be the last hurrah of my soprano voice. But because I loved singing soprano so much, I didn’t do it.”

Other changes were made without regret, however. He credits top surgery in 2014 with improving both his general quality of life as well as his singing abilities. No longer having to bind his chest, like many trans men and trans masculine people do, his singing markedly improved.

Also, misgivings about fitting into the music world have proved unwarranted. 

“Always, walking into an audition room is the hardest part. I tend to think they know I’m queer but maybe they’re unsure exactly what flavor of the rainbow I am,” says the prize-winning singer. “So far, being visibly gender nonconforming, especially in a traditional space like you typically find with classical music, hasn’t elicited negative reactions. People don’t understand everything, but I’d say the world is catching up in terms of how to talk to and about people of various gender experiences.”

At over two hours is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio too heavy for the casual listener? 

“Depends on attention span,” he says. “But as things go, it’s accessible — fun, joyful, and a good time. And it’s not one of the usual holiday things you’re likely to have already seen a million times.”

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Out & About

Eckington Hall plans ‘Holidaze’ market

Jewelry, art, ceramics, vintage clothing, food, beer and more at event

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The holidays are here, bringing markets and bazaars to the area.

Eckington Hall and DC Bouldering Project will join forces for “Eckington Place Holidaze,” a holiday market, on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m along the Woonerf on Quincy Lane. 

The event will feature vendors selling a variety of goods such as jewelry, art, ceramics, vintage clothing, candles, books, collectibles, food and beer. Some of the vendors include Denise Lee Art, Love Soultry, Laura Bryant Art, Simple Pleasures and Capital Vintage, among others. 

For more information, visit Eckington Hall’s website.

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