May 9, 2019 at 4:35 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. officials to hold ‘LGBTQ Nightlife Roundtable’
Office of Nightlife and Culture, gay news, Washington Blade
Pitchers (Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)

The recently created D.C. Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture has invited owners, managers, and employees of the city’s gay bars to an “LGBTQ Nightlife Roundtable Discussion” scheduled for May 14 at the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers.

Pitchers owner David Perruzza said members of the D.C. Police LGBT Liaison Unit, which works with the Office of Nightlife and Culture, approached him and asked if Pitchers would consider hosting the event.

“We’re very close with them and they work with us, so they asked if we can do it and I said sure,” Perruzza told the Blade.

Perruzza was referring to the routine D.C. police interaction with bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the bustling Adams Morgan nightlife corridor that includes 18th Street and Columbia Road, N.W. 

At the request of Mayor Muriel Bowser, the D.C. Council last year approved legislation creating the Office of Nightlife and Culture and a separate Commission on Nightlife to “promote efficiencies for the District’s after-hours economy by serving as a central point of contact between D.C. government, the nightlife industry, and District residents,” according to a write-up on the office’s website.

Among those expected to facilitate the LGBTQ Roundtable at Pitchers is Shawn Townsend, a former investigator at the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), who Bowser named as director of the Office of Nightlife and Culture.

Townsend couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. People familiar with the office’s recent activities say Townsend has been holding similar meetings with owners and managers of bars, restaurants and nightclubs throughout the city to inform them of the office’s work.

Sheila Alexander-Reid, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said her office and the police LGBT Liaison Unit are co-hosting the roundtable event along with the Office of Nightlife and Culture at Pitchers, which she said is not open to the general public.

“We think it’s a great idea to do a small introductory meet and greet with the bar owners and club owners and promoters in the LGBTQ community,” Alexander-Reid said. “And this was his idea,” she said, in referring to Townsend.

Pitcher’s is one of at least 11 D.C. gay bars or nightclubs along with other clubs that regularly host “gay night” events.

“Residents and visitors to Washington, D.C. know that we have world-class food and entertainment options in neighborhoods across the District that appeal to all ages and all tastes – and that those choices continue to grow,” Bowser said in a statement last October when she signed the legislation creating the nightlife office.

“We know that this creates fantastic opportunities as well as a few challenges, and the Office of Nightlife and Culture is going to ensure that we’re working across D.C. government, with our residents and businesses, to ensure a vibrant D.C. nightlife that works for everyone,” she said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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