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Comings & Goings

A poignant tribute to Daniel Espejel



Daniel Espejel, gay news, Washington Blade
Daniel Espejel (Photo courtesy Tony Purcell)

This is a little unusual for this column but something worth sharing. Last week, I attended a “Celebration of Life” for Daniel Espejel a young man who left us much too early. I was honored to know him and his husband Tony Purcell. They had been together for 16 years. Daniel was a brilliantly creative young man with a smile that never stopped. But as I sat at the celebration what moved me and brought most of us to tears was the eulogy written and delivered by Tony’s dad. I thought of Pride and of Stonewall and of how wonderful it would be if every gay boy had a family like Tony’s. If every member of the LGBTQ community could be embraced by family like Daniel was. I share this eulogy from Daniel’s father-in-law and hope you will also be moved by it.

Eulogy by Anthony J. Purcell, Sr.

We come together this evening to celebrate the life of Daniel Espejel. He would have approved of us holding this celebration in this very appropriate venue, the Women’s National Democratic Club because Daniel’s clientele were mostly women. Everything he did in his flower and cosmetic businesses involved creating beauty and delighting his clientele with his artistic works.

It is said that, “Anyone can put paint on a canvas, but only a true master can bring the painting to life.” Daniel was a true master; he expressed himself using various mediums but was renowned for his floral arrangements. When Daniel entered a building, his beautiful smile and joyous disposition brought energy, love, and life to everyone. His generosity to all was never ending. He was a perfect ambassador for the community to have front and center to soften the hearts and minds of those conservatives who stereotype the community for their beliefs and actions, instead of who they are individually.

Daniel’s business adventure had him hobnobbing with the rich and famous and his resume reads like a “Who’s Who.” His floral arrangements sat at the tables of two Popes, presidents, vice presidents, ambassadors, royalty, heads of state, and many of the society women of Washington, D.C. He touched them all and because of it, they loved him.

Daniel lived the American Dream. He came to the United States at the age of 18 at attend American University. He left behind his parents and 3 siblings in Mexico to achieve his dream and start a new life. A life he would never have an opportunity to have had he stayed in Mexico.  All families in America have immigration as their roots because the only real Americans are the American Indians, therefore; we were proud to have Daniel become part of our family. Daniel was able to have an exceptional life in America because of his hard work ethic. He built a successful flower business and he continued to branch out into other business interests.

When we would go out to eat at a restaurant as a family, you could count on Daniel always want to sample some of your meal and to his credit, he would always offer you some of what he had ordered. He loved trying different dishes and cuisines. He leaves me with the daunting task of decorating our two Christmas trees later this year. This was always his job at Thanksgiving and I am already hearing in my head “That is not the way Daniel did it!”… “Thanks a lot, Mister!” Daniel always thought of my wife and I as his American parents and he would come to me for fatherly advice on numerous issues. My wife always benefitted from Daniel’s expertise in fashion and fads. He spoiled her and buttered her up in ways which I could never match.

The music artist Sting, sang, “When you love somebody, when you love somebody, set them free, free set them free. Free, free, set them free.” We all loved Daniel and that is what we had to do. It is normal for the children to bury their parents, not the parents to be burying their son. We all wanted Daniel to stay with us on Earth, but we took the advice of the medical staff and “Set him free.”

There is no book to reference as a father when you do not have answers that are needed for your son, when he comes to you and asks, “Why?” All you can do is provide comfort, love, and support. Tell him the answers he seeks are not found here at this time and may never be found until the next journey on the road of life. Live one day at a time, then two, then a week, and then a month. Tomorrow will be that one month.

Finally, we want to thank everyone for joining us in celebrating Daniel’s Life this evening. I leave you with thought, maybe, just maybe, Daniel’s clientele has now risen to the very top. He now arranges flowers for God’s table.



Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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District of Columbia

Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses

‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’



Pepco and Exelon held a press conference Friday to announce four recipients of $2.7 million in investments. (Photo courtesy Exelon)

Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.

“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.

Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.

At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.

“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”

The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.

“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.

Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.

“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”

For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.

Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.

“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.

Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.

Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.

New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.

(Photo courtesy Exelon)
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Comings & Goings

Armstrong recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award



Lynden C. Armstrong

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Lynden C. Armstrong on his Lifetime Achievement award from the Congressional Management Foundation in recognition of his exemplary public service in Congress. 

Upon receiving the award Armstrong said, “This recognition is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of colleagues and mentors who have been with me on this journey. I’ve dedicated my entire career to public service within the Senate, where recognition isn’t the primary motivation for our work, making this recognition even more humbling.” He is currently Deputy Assistant Senate Sergeant at Arms and Chief Information Officer.  

Armstrong started his career with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), where he rose to Deputy Chief of Staff in his more than 13-year stint. In 2004, during his tenure with Domenici, amid a debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Armstrong became a co-founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff (GLASS) Caucus. In 2014, he moved to the Sergeant at Arms CIO organization, where he established a new department within the CIO that was crafted to engage Senate offices in comprehending and harnessing technologies provided by the SAA. 

Lynden has previously served as Chief Clerk on the U.S. Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, and with the U.S. Senate, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, as Deputy Inaugural Coordinator, 2012–2013.  In that role among other responsibilities, he served as civilian liaison to the National Special Security Event Executive Steering Committee and subcommittees, including the Capitol, USCP, Crowd Management, Public Relations, Transportation, and credentialing, and as liaison to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region. 

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