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Liz architect creates a building that fits in and stands out

Annabelle Selldorf honors the past while creating vibrant new spaces



The Liz, gay news, Washington Blade
The exterior of the Liz building, now open on 14th Street. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

There aren’t many buildings in Washington that are named after a movie star.

Or use an early 20th century garage as modern office space.

Or frame upper-level windows with all the colors of the rainbow

Those are a few of the characteristics of Liz, the mixed-use building on 14th Street N.W. that was named after Elizabeth Taylor and houses the administrative offices of Whitman-Walker Health, a leading health care provider for the region’s LGBTQ community and people with HIV/AIDS. It also has street-level retail space, more offices and 78 apartments.

Creating a building that meets the needs of Whitman-Walker Health and other occupants was the job of Annabelle Selldorf, a prominent New York-based architect who served as the lead designer.

Selldorf, the head of Selldorf Architects, is known for her work with high-profile clients such as the Frick Collection and the Neue Galerie in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the soon-to-open Rubell Museum in Miami. Liz is her first completed project in the District of Columbia and her first project anywhere for a health care-oriented client.

Her approach was to combine historic preservation and new construction to arrive at a single interconnected structure that both fits in with the surrounding area and stands out as a significant addition to it — a game changer in the cityscape and new front door for Whitman-Walker.

Experienced in blending old and new, Selldorf created a composition in which the new construction is set back or clearly distinguished from the two historic buildings that were preserved as part of the project, so it doesn’t upstage or loom over them.

The goal, she says, was to honor the past while creating new spaces that will enable the city to grow and strengthen Whitman-Walker for the future.

“I’m deeply humbled by having been given the opportunity” to work on the project, she said at the ribbon cutting. “It’s humbling because … this is for people, and if it isn’t for people who are belonging into this place, and if you are not welcoming to everybody, what is the meaning of being an architect?”

Andy Altman, one of the principals of Fivesquares Development, a real estate company that worked with Whitman-Walker, said he and his partners were delighted that Selldorf agreed to take on the project, given her reputation. He said Selldorf is known for work that can be both dignified and playful, that provides a pleasing juxtaposition of old and new, and that’s what his group believed 14th Street and Whitman-Walker needed.

“Annabelle Selldorf is a world-renowned architect who does amazing commissions,” he said at the opening. “We went to Annabelle … and said we want a work that is going to be beautiful, exquisite, bold but subtle, not something ostentatious but that will really be of world-class stature for our city. Annabelle was the choice, and we were thrilled that she would do it.”

Named after Elizabeth Taylor, an actress and early AIDS activist, Liz is a collaboration of Whitman-Walker and Fivesquares, a for-profit, socially conscious developer and contractor that also has its offices in the building.

The completed project, which was dedicated on Nov. 6, occupies an entire city block in the 1700 block of 14th Street, N.W., between R and Riggs streets.

Whitman-Walker, a non-profit with a long history of providing health care for the LGBTQ community and people with HIV/AIDS, owned the block and had used the corner building as the main entrance and waiting area for the Whitman-Walker Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, which opened in 1993.

When the medical center moved to larger quarters two blocks away several years ago, that freed up space for Whitman-Walker to redevelop its property at 14th and R.

Under its partnership agreement with Fivesquares, Whitman-Walker remained the majority partner in the project, a rarity in collaborations of this kind. Altman says he believes it is “a model of urban regeneration” and “a model for non-profits nationally and what they can do to sustain their mission and serve their needs.”

The initial plan was to build new administrative offices for both Whitman-Walker and Fivesquares, while adding rental housing and street-level commercial space that would generate revenue for the joint venture and add life to the street. As the design evolved, the project gained another component, a cultural center and meeting place that will serve the community at large, especially the LGBTQ community.

Today, the ground floor is occupied by retail tenants and the soon-to-open Whitman-Walker Cultural Center. The second floor is occupied by Whitman-Walker Health, including administrative offices, health and legal services, public benefits and research programs. The third floor is shared by the Goethe-Institut, a German language school, and Fivesquares’ offices. Floors four to seven contain the apartments.

Born in Cologne, Germany, the daughter of architect Herbert Selldorf, Selldorf came to the United States as a young woman to study architecture at Pratt Institute in New York. After working for others, she started her own firm in 1988. She’s part of a small but growing roster of women architects who lead or co-lead design firms in the U.S., along with Jeanne Gang, Elizabeth Diller, Deborah Berke and Billie Tsien.

Selldorf’s firm specializes in designing buildings for art and education, and it has worked internationally on museums, galleries and other cultural projects. Her firm also designed the Sunset Park Materials Recovery Facility on the Brooklyn waterfront, an award-winning garbage recycling center that’s been a popular stop during the annual Open House architectural tours in New York. Critic Paul Goldberger once described her work as “a kind of gentle modernism of utter precision, with perfect proportions.”

Selldorf said in a phone interview that she had no previous connection to Whitman-Walker or Fivesquares but was intrigued when members of the development team approached her about the commission.

The Liz, gay news, Washington Blade
‘If you are not welcoming to everybody, what is the meaning of being an architect,’ asks Annabelle Selldorf, who spearheaded the new Liz building. (Photo by Brigitte Lacombe)

Although she isn’t gay, she said she admires what Whitman-Walker does (and what Fivesquares does) in Washington and could tell they would be the sort of architecturally savvy clients with whom she’s accustomed to working. She was also eager to take on a health care related project, something new for her practice. And although she never met Elizabeth Taylor, she is certainly a fan. “After seeing ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,’” she said,” how could you not be?”

The development team was required by the city’s historic preservation office to save two buildings on the site, the corner structure at 14th and R, which was the front door and waiting room for Whitman-Walker’s Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center from 1993 to 2017 and a flower shop before that, and a midblock building known as the Belmont Garage, significant as an early local 20th century structure with an auto-related use. The team was allowed to demolish a third building on the block that wasn’t deemed historically or architecturally significant

Selldorf said the team sought to maximize the amount of new construction it could build on the site but didn’t want to overwhelm the structures targeted for preservation. Working with CORE architecture + design, the executive architect, Selldorf preserved and renovated the two historic buildings on site and added a 150,000-square-foot structure containing the residences, stores, offices and community space.

“We explored how much space the property would yield,” she said. “We ended with a very happy solution to fully utilize the building envelope and yet come up with something that makes a lot of sense.”

The completed development has what appears to be two new twin structures facing 14th Street, each rising seven stories. They are actually projecting sections of a large building that fills the whole block, containing retail and office space on the lower levels and apartments above.

Along 14th Street, the seven-story sections are separated by the low-rise Belmont Garage, which has been recycled as office space. At the corner of 14th and R, the new construction is set back from the street and frames the historic structure that had been the main entrance to the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center before it was relocated.

The new construction does not mimic the older buildings on 14th Street. It has clean lines and is free of applied ornament, making it clear what is new and what has been preserved. It’s an optimistic building that is very much about urban rebirth and the co-existence of old and new.

Selldorf hesitates to put any stylistic labels on her design, saying only that she wanted to create a “well-proportioned, contemporary building that takes its cues from the neighborhood in terms of materials and proportioning and has an overall connection” with it

To help the new construction fit in, she said, she specified limestone and terra cotta for the exterior, materials that are common on older buildings in Washington. In an additional nod to Whitman-Walker’s history of serving the LGBTQ community, Selldorf framed the upper-level windows of the new structure with a pop of color.

There are 12 colors in all, and they’re created by a process of glazing the chamfered terra cotta window surrounds with a succession of hues, like a color wheel, working their way around the building. The colors can be seen as a reference to the rainbow flag. They’re also an effective way to animate the facades and indicate that this is a welcoming place for the LGBTQ community.

“It was really a playful gesture,” Selldorf said. “It all has to do with the composition of the facades … I wanted there to be a relationship between the limestone buildings along 14th Street, and then I thought there was an opportunity to have something that wasn’t quite so conservative and old-fashioned.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with terra cotta, so we came up with this color scheme that would go around the windows. It gives the building a kind of lively and friendly and welcoming appearance. The idea is that the colors would graduate into one another and no two colors would not harmonize with one another.”

Another sign of Selldorf’s desire to create a composition that fits in with its surroundings is that she restored the corner building to the appearance it had when it was a flower shop years ago, recreating projecting windows that make it possible to see in and for people inside to see out.

“The corner building was in very bad shape, and so I convinced the client to give us the opportunity to make it as good as it could be and maybe better than it ever had been,” she said.

That transparency represents a symbolic break from the days when many gay people were ‘in the closet’ or shunted out of sight, especially if they were sick. The new windows make the corner building more inviting, while recreating its original look.

These changes are reinforced by a people-friendly design for the outdoor space around the building, by Future Green Studios, that includes generous planting, new seating and public art that encourages people to linger at the corner. The intersection even has graphic ‘bump outs’ on the street surface that appear to narrow the road and increase the amount of space for pedestrians.

“Everything we do is trying to bring people together and create agreeable, open, transparent spaces,” Selldorf said. “It’s not just one specific thing. It’s sort of an idea about how the building represents a kind of openness in the landscape. I think that makes a big difference. It signifies to people that you are welcome there.”

One big decision that grew out of the design process was the idea of recycling the corner building as a cultural center for the LGBTQ community.

Whitman-Walker and Fivesquares didn’t originally plan to have a cultural center as a component of the development. According to Abby Fenton, chief external affairs officer, Whitman-Walker CEO Don Blanchon and others suggested that use as a way to add a new dimension to what Whitman-Walker could do on the block.

The idea is for the cultural center to serve as a flexible meeting and exhibit space that can accommodate a wide range of activities, including talks, readings, art shows and performances of interest to the LGBTQ community.

Seldorf donated her design services for the cultural center component of the project as a way of giving back to the community. Whitman-Walker recently hired a staff curator to coordinate activities and events, and the center is expected to be in full operation by early next year.

“I think they realized how much this corner matters to people in the community and to their specific constituents,” Selldorf said of Whitman-Walker. “This will be an ongoing public service. They became very excited to let their clients have a voice in that way. It’s really a fantastic attitude, and I am very excited to see how it will turn out.”

At the ribbon-cutting, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser praised the decision to combine new apartments and medical care with a place for cultural activities.

“Let this project be a reminder that housing, cultural space, and medical care are imperative to how this city moves forward,” she said.

Elsewhere in the project, the designers tried to make it clear which areas of the building are new construction and which parts are old. In some cases, brick walls are left exposed to show that an area is part of a historic building. Other spaces employ colorful lighting and contemporary touches to indicate the space is new. Perkins and Will was the interior designer for Whitman-Walker’s second-floor space.

Whitman-Walker also has an art program in which works by various artists have been put on display to enliven its setting. The organization also displays artifacts salvaged from previous Whitman-Walker locations as a tangible reminder of its history. The largest work of art is an outdoor sculpture on the corner, a temporary installation by Yinka Shonibare.

Above the retail space and offices, on floors four to seven, the apartments include studios and one- and two-bedroom units. Sixty-six are market rate and 12 are considered affordable housing.

On the east side of the block, the building steps back from the alley. The setbacks make it less overwhelming for the smaller townhouse structures across the alley, while creating terraces for the apartment residents on that side of the block.

Yet another sign of Selldorf’s desire to be respectful of Whitman-Walker’s history is that she insists the name of the building is pronounced correctly. She points out that it’s not The Liz building or Liz Taylor Building, but simply Liz.

“I wanted it to be not too institutionalized,” she explained. “If you have to give a building a name, it makes it much more immediate.”


a&e features

A rainbow shield

Parasol Patrol protects children from protesters at LGBTQ, BIPOC events



Parasol Patrol volunteers in action at a recent protest. (Photo by Jon Farina)

In the wake of LGBTQ events like drag queen story hours being the target of far-right protesters across the country, a national nonprofit is aiming to protect children from hate.  

Founded in March 2019 by Pasha Ripley and Eli Bazan in Denver, Parasol Patrol now has grown to 14 official chapters, including in the D.C. area, Idaho, Illinois, and Rhode Island. The goal of the nonprofit is to protect children and young people from protesters at LGBTQ and BIPOC-centered events. 

Volunteers with the nonprofit use umbrellas, rainbow or otherwise, as shields to block kids and families from hateful signs and pass out noise-canceling headphones to protect attendees from abhorrent language. Sometimes volunteers will also escort families into the venue to keep them safe. 

“We just started this way of creating a turtle shell around families,” Ripley said. “We envelop that family as best we can and get them through, or past, protesters.” 

The mission of Parasol Patrol is twofold, Ripley said. One part of it is to keep kids safe, and the other is to show that there is community support. 

“Showing them that we love them. We support them. Not in spite of who they are, but because of who they are,” Ripley said. “We’ve helped the venue create a safer space for them to be themselves.” 

Originally raised in rural Oklahoma, Ripley, who is queer, said Parasol Patrol provides a security that she and many others didn’t necessarily have coming of age. 

“We want to be those adults that we wish we had had growing up,” she said. “And we’re not trying to turn kids gay. We’re trying to keep the gay kids alive.” 

Ripley stressed volunteers with Parasol Patrol are not counter-protesters or security. The mission is nonviolent, and volunteers are encouraged to not engage with protesters. 

John Zittrauer, a local volunteer with Parasol Patrol since the early summer of 2022, said volunteers serve as a “welcoming committee” for families attending these events. 

“That’s where the umbrellas come in. To create not only a beautiful hallway of people but also to shield little kids from things that might get thrown their way,” Zittrauer said. “We are this wall of positivity, just welcoming families and making sure that everybody comes in and leaves with a smile on their face.”

But sometimes, these events can get hectic. 

For example, in late February, the far-right group Proud Boys targeted a drag queen story hour in Silver Spring, Md., the Washington Blade previously reported. About 40 volunteers with Parasol Patrol came out to protect the event, including Zittrauer.

While shielding families from the protesters, Zittrauer was hit in the face on the bridge of his nose. In the melee, he doesn’t know if it was an elbow or a signpost that hit him. He didn’t realize he was bleeding until he turned around to check in with other volunteers, and the look on their faces signaled to him that something was wrong. 

Zittrauer still carried on protecting the event from protesters. But he still says volunteering at that event was a positive experience because the families watching the drag story hour did not know too much of what was going on. 

This is exactly what Ripley hopes for — that at the end of the day, the events are fun and inspiring for everyone involved, she said.  

“For the most part, we stayed happy and upbeat, and unfazed,” Zittrauer said. “It was, all in all, a good day,” he said. 

Parasol Patrol members gather in front of Crazy Aunt Hellen’s restaurant in Barracks Row on Feb. 25, 2023, during a Drag Story Hour event. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)
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Golden Girls return to D.C.

‘The Laughs Continue’ to run at Warner Theatre from Feb. 23-26



‘Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue’ cast (Photo by MP Present)

Miami’s sassiest seniors will take D.C. by storm when they take the stage at the Warner Theatre from Feb. 23-26.

Robert Leleux — whose previous work includes “The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy” and “The Living End” —  wrote “Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue.” It documents the lives of the four cheesecake-loving older women in “The Golden Girls.”

Sophia (Christopher Kamm) is out on bail after the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested her for running a drug ring for older adults. Blanche (Vince Kelley) and Rose (Adam Graber) created CreakN, a “sex app for seniors.” And the relationship-challenged Dorothy is with a much younger man (Jason Bowen) on the aforementioned app.

Bowen also plays Dorothy’s ex-husband Stanley.

Eric Swanson, co-founder of the Detroit Actors’ Theatre Company, directs “Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue” and Murray and Peter Present produced the play. A version of it showed at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre in July 2022.

“You will feel like you have watched sort of this hour and a half sort of special on a TV and it should feel just like you’re hitting play or whatever it is on your streaming service and here it is,” Swanson told the Washington Blade during a recent Zoom interview from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “The set looks like the set and we utilize the cheesecake — there’s so much cheesecake in this play. You can’t do Golden Girls without cheesecake.”

Swanson said he and Leloux binge watched “every episode” of the original show in four days.

“We wanted to create new content, that was our number one goal,” Swanson told the Blade. “We didn’t want to parody anything. We wanted to completely attack new material and new ways of thinking for women and aging adults in this generation.”

Blanche ‘weaponizes what God has given her’

Kelley told the Blade from Michigan during a telephone interview that Blanche is “very free and my brand of sassy.”

“I love the sensuality of Blanche and that she weaponizes what God has given her to her advantage.”

The scene in season two’s “The Actor” episode in which Blanche’s inflatable breasts deflate when she is hugging an actor during an audition to be his love interest is among Kelley’s favorite from the original show. Kelley also noted CreakN is difficult for Blanche to use because “she doesn’t identify as a senior.”

Blanche in season seven’s “The Case of the Libertine Bell” episode that takes place during a murder mystery weekend points out “flirting is part of my heritage” because she is “from the South.” Rose asked Blanche what she meant, and Dorothy told her that Blanche’s mother was “a slut too.”

“There’s a few of those zingers in this one too,” Swanson told the Blade. “Sometimes they just lay it down.”

‘Ahead of their time’ on LGBTQ issues

“The Golden Girls” premiered on NBC on Sept. 14, 1985.

The series ran for seven seasons until it ended on May 9, 1992. “The Golden Palace” in which Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty starred after Bea Arthur left “The Golden Girls” ran for one season.

“The Golden Girls” is one of the first primetime shows that discussed AIDS, marriage equality, and other LGBTQ issues.

Blanche’s brother Clayton, for example, comes out to his sister as gay in season four’s “Scared Straight” after he claimed he slept with Rose. Clayton and his boyfriend Doug during season six’s “Sister of the Bride” episode tell Blanche, Dorothy, and Sofia that they want to get married.

Dorothy’s brother Phil was a crossdresser, and her friend Jean is a lesbian who falls in love with Rose during season two’s “Isn’t It Romantic?” episode. Rose in season five’s “72 Hours” episode tests HIV-negative after she fears a blood transfusion she had exposed her to the virus. 

“They were so ahead of their time in the things that they were tackling: AIDS and all that kind of stuff, and LGBTQ rights and discrimination against Jewish people. All things we’re still dealing with today, which is unfortunate, but it’s nice to turn to them and see how your good friends Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia are dealing with the same problems that you’re dealing with today,” said Kelley.

“I love the progressiveness that they had, especially when you look at the time and the era and what was going on, not just politically, but regarding feminism and sexuality and all of that. it was just incredibly brave,” Swanson told the Blade.

He further noted “The Golden Girls” also addressed interracial marriage and aging.

“They were addressing these things about what it’s like to age,” he said. “Whether you are a conservative, you’re a liberal, you are gay, you are straight, the one thing we all have is age. We can all relate to age and they led that narrative on what is it like to age and feel left out and have to fight again.”

Swanson and Kelley both teased bits of the play.

Kelley notes it is Dorothy’s “day in the sun” when she mets her younger man on CreakN. He also told the Blade that Sophia “had to do another small stint in Shady Pines due to another slip and fall.”

“While there she decided, how can I make a quick buck,” said Kelley. “I’m going to turn into Walter White and monetize that.”

Kelly noted the play is “all new material.”

“You’ll get a whole new fun story that even if you seen every episode twice, you’re gonna get something new. But we definitely have all your favorite lines, all the catchphrases, all the tropes and scenarios that you would expect,” he said. “We’re not trying to reinvent the Golden Girls, we’re just trying to add on to them.” 

“We wanted to create something in their honor,” Swanson told the Blade.

“Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue” will be at the Warner Theatre (1299 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) from Feb. 23-26. Tickets start at $30. A VIP experience that includes a meet and greet with the cast after the show is $99. Tickets are available at

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a&e features

D.C.’s most eligible LGBTQ singles

Meet your match in our annual survey just in time for Valentine’s Day



Each year, the Blade seeks our readers’ help in identifying the most eligible local LGBTQ singles. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we present this year’s list.

Matthew Koerber

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 33

Occupation: Realtor

How do you identify?: Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone accomplished, compassionate, and with a compatible sense of humor and set of values.

Biggest turn off: Green text messages

Biggest turn on: Someone who knows their way around the kitchen

Hobbies: Entertaining friends, singing in the car, and playing my guitar.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Finally take my mom on that trip to Paris.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I plead the fifth

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Within reason

Celebrity crush: Chris Hemsworth

Name one obscure fact about yourself: Will moonwalk after a few drinks.

Kelsey Watson

(Photo by Briana Smith)

Age: 28

Occupation: Nonprofit professional

How do you identify?: As a Black queer cis-woman

What are you looking for in a mate? I enjoy being around people who are funny and curious. I connect best with folks who have a shared sense of humour and can hold a conversation with just about anyone. I also prefer those who have some level of experience with nonmonogamy.

Biggest turn off: Fatphobia and hot breath

Biggest turn on: Kindness, banter, eye contact, and being fine

Hobbies: I spend my non-work time doing beer education, making elaborate meals for myself, gardening, and spending time with friends.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: To start running my own beer education experiences, and to fold my laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer.

Pets, kids, or neither?: Neither

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Absolutely the fuck not.

Celebrity crush: Raven Saunders, the very fine track and field Olympian. Somebody set me up.

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I like to hunt. I’m new to the sport and would love to find folks in the area to go out with.

Barbi Lopez

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 30

Occupation: Bar manager/bartender

How do you identify?: She/her

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is emotionally intelligent, adventurous, ambitious, spiritual, and wants to grow together (in every aspect).

Biggest turn off: Immaturity

Biggest turn on: A submissive dom

Hobbies: Pilates, traveling, reading, writing poetry, and anything in nature!

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Travel back home to Argentina to see my family

Pets, kids, or neither?: A cat my son names Bruno

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Depends

Celebrity crush: Kehlani

Philip Pannell

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 72

Occupation: Non-profit executive director

How do you identify?: Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? An active advocate for social, political and economic progress.

Biggest turn off: Lack of engagement with community issues

Biggest turn on: Commitment to community progress

Hobbies: Community volunteerism and playing bridge

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Helping to end violence and statehood for DC

Pets, kids, or neither?: Neither

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Highly improbable but not impossible

Celebrity crush: I cannot have a crush on someone I have not personally met

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I watch Fox News

Michael Wolfe

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 43

Occupation: Recruiter

How do you identify?: Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is independent, spontaneous, low drama and an open and honest communicator with a sense of humor.

Biggest turn off: Selfishness, pretentious, disrespectful of others, takes things they shouldn’t too seriously

Biggest turn on: Collaborative, inclusive, cares about others as much as they care about themselves, solid communication skills, not required but bonus points if you appreciate Coke Zero over Diet Coke and love Chipotle as well!

Hobbies: I love to travel and have a long list of places in the world I want to go, and would want someone willing to come on that adventure with me, even if that means hopping on a plane spontaneously tomorrow at the last minute. Enjoy exploring DC (theater, concerts, special events etc.), weekend brunching with friends, and playing social LGBTQIA+ kickball.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Continue to live life to the fullest both personally and professionally while surrounding myself with good, positive people.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I love dogs (had a dog for 13 years who passed a few years ago), open to considering another one (or two!) someday.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Yes, up to a point

Celebrity crush: Jay Hernandez, Chris Evans, Patrick Mahomes

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’ve lived in 18 different apartments/homes in my ~21 years living in the DC metro area – as you can tell, I’m definitely not afraid of moving.

Mel May

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 42

Occupation: Recruiting leader

How do you identify?: Queer

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is creative, has a dark sense of humor, is grounded, leads with an authentic heart, and appreciates the little moments in life.

Biggest turn off: Lack of empathy, curiosity, adventurous spirit

Biggest turn on: Someone who lives their life out loud and takes risks with their dreams. Is confident and passionate in a relationship. Can hang with witty and weird jokes. Oh, and if they can cook!

Hobbies: I’m a writer at heart. Obsessed with resell, thrift, and consignment objects. Have always loved trying new, creative projects to include crocheting, DIY miniature kits, painting, publishing my own memoir. Always up for exploring and can walk around a city or trail for hours absorbing the experience.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Honestly, to be super present with the people I care about and love. It’s been a rough few years and it’s made me truly appreciate how precious our time is together.

Pets, kids, or neither?: No kids. No pets right now — but you’ll hear me talk about my pup who was so sassy & funny (miss my lil guy). Right now, I live vicariously through my friends’ pets.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: No, that’s just too loaded these days. Could be friends and have respectful conversations, but I don’t have the space for debate in my deeper relationships.

Celebrity crush: Winona Ryder was my first, and still is my biggest crush.

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I was a finalist for the “Tila Tequila” show. Don’t judge me — just knew I was auditioning for a queer reality dating show. *smacks forehead*

Elizabeth Falcon

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 40

Occupation: Non-profit executive director

How do you identify?: Queer

What are you looking for in a mate? I like to laugh, process the world from the big to the tiny, and collaborate. I want someone who wants to join me in that.

Biggest turn off: Being rude to service workers

Biggest turn on: Direct communication, expression of desires, confidence, playfulness. Know your value and tell me about mine.

Hobbies: Biking around town, illegally swimming in the Potomac, listening to too many podcasts, the Libby app, planting perennials, starting a garden then forgetting to water it, baking when I have the patience to clean the kitchen after, coordinating my friends to plan meals together

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Living with patience (see next question)

Pets, kids, or neither?: I have a one-and-a-half year-old kiddo I’m raising on my own. I also live with a cat, but the cat is my roommate’s.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: There’s a wide spectrum of what this means, but I wouldn’t date someone who I fundamentally didn’t share agreement about the problems with white supremacy, capitalism, and the impacts of gentrification in DC. TL;DR probably no.

Celebrity crush: Janelle Monae, Mae Martin, E.R Fightmaster, Sara Ramirez

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I grew up on a dairy farm

Chloe Thompson

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 25

Occupation: Community Manager at TPSS Co-op

How do you identify?: Bisexual/queer woman

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is intensely smart, non-secular, building/involved in community, confident, and humble, very sexy, good dancer, curious about the world, a futurist, tall, a defined sense of personal style, and very funny.

Biggest turn off: Using Siri or Alexa (ever), drinking alcohol (I’m Muslim), being cynical or pessimistic, not talkative, being stingy, lacking imagination and refusing to dance!

Biggest turn on: A person who is totally in love with the world, for the good and the bad. Also, beautiful hands.

Hobbies: Reading critical theory and science fiction, yoga, watching and learning about film, writing, reading tarot, praying, learning rock climbing, going to museums, cooking excellent food 

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Create intentional Black and Brown community. Be amazed by the goodness of life, daily.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I have neither, but I want 3 daughters and 2 dogs. Ready to get started creating my semi-big family whenever

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: Yeah! As long as you have an inherent distrust of the state, we’re good to go.

Celebrity crush: Kehlani. Real ones know.

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’m secretly very bashful.

Maria Miller

(Photo by @itsjacqill)

Age: 31

Occupation: Bartender, produce slinger, sandwich artisan

How do you identify?: Dyke

What are you looking for in a mate? A genuinely nice and kind person. That answer seems simple, but you’d be surprised. 

Biggest turn off: Bad tippers, rude customers, people who eat dry sandwiches.

Biggest turn on: Kind eyes, a nice smile, thoughtfulness, direct communication.

Hobbies: Thrifting, going to shows, making art, organizing in the community, getting tattoos

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: I have some big plans and that’s all I can really say!

Pets, kids, or neither?: A dog named Gravy

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: That doesn’t seem smart

Celebrity crush: Alive: Charli XCX and Yseult Onguenet, Not Alive: Selena and Aaliyah

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I have two baby teeth!

Al Castillo

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 22

Occupation: Research specialist

How do you identify?: Queer trans man

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is emotionally mature, willing to be spontaneous and willing to venture into the world together, but also able to enjoy a quiet day inside watching our favorite cartoon with our pets cuddled next to us on the couch.

Biggest turn off: Being out of touch with the local community and disrespecting physical and emotional boundaries.

Biggest turn on: Taking initiative and being comfortable acting silly and goofy!

Hobbies: Dancing like I am lip-syncing for my life, playing Nintendo and classic arcade games, cocktail making, and spending time with my loved ones.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: I am beginning my fitness journey by going to the gym more often and becoming more active. I also started learning Spanish this year, so I am hoping to improve my Spanish speaking and listening skills throughout the year.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I have a dog named Dana Scully and my roommate Siena has a kitten named Fox Mulder, just like the characters from the X-Files.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: No

Celebrity crush: Patrick Dempsey and Rina Sawayama

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I am double-jointed and I can do a jump split (give me some time to stretch though, it’s been a while)

Aurora Lloyd

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 30

Occupation: Entertainer/Entrepreneur/Activist

How do you identify?: Transsexual woman

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who wants commitment and understands what it means to build a foundation and grow. Has emotional intelligence and is in therapy. Wants the most out of life. And it doesn’t hurt if you are a cutie too!

Biggest turn off: Willful ignorance, blatant disrespect, and judgmental people

Biggest turn on: Intelligence emotional and mental! I love nerds being one myself. Knows how to love and treat Black women.

Hobbies: Video games, anime, reading books, making music, watching movies/shows, traveling, hanging with friends and family, napping, going out to eat, and museums

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: To release my new music and perform, travel, and increase my income.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I have one cat, no biological kids but open to having some but I do have five “queer” kids, lol.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: I would be open to it, but it just depends on what particular views because politics are not just one vacuum from normal having history with working on the Hill, there are layers.

Celebrity crush: Michael B. Jordan and Tyler James Williams

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I really have a thing for archery

Andrew Bunting

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 34

Occupation: Higher education administration/bartending

How do you identify?: Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is authentic, witty, driven, empathetic, intelligent, and adventurous. I’m looking for someone who understands the importance of self-care, and also knows how to both work and play hard.

Biggest turn off: My biggest turn off is unwanted pressure. The quickest way to make me no longer interested is to try to constantly pressure me to do something. The moment that I feel that type of pressure I start to feel smothered and I lose all interest.

Biggest turn on: Confidence, decisiveness, and a drive to enjoy life. A great smile and being a good kisser doesn’t hurt either!

Hobbies: My interests are really varied, and range from enjoying a day visiting local wineries to catching a movie with friends. Bartending (formerly at Cobalt and now at JR.’s) also takes up a lot of my weekend time, and is, for me, less of a job and more of a hobby.

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: My biggest goal for 2023 is to strive for balance and be intentional about how I use my time. I want to make sure that I am focusing on the right things for the right reasons. For me, that means making sure that I’m connecting with my family and friends (and potential love interests), focusing on my career, and making sure I still have enough time for self-care.

Pets, kids, or neither?: I don’t have a pet now, but I’m open both dogs and cats (I grew up with cats and have lived with dogs). Kids are not in my future.

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: An interesting question, and I really think it is more about one’s fundamental values than political affiliation. Would I date someone who disagrees with me about specific policies? Sure! But would I date someone who denies things like climate science, vaccines, or the fundamental rights of others? Definitely not.

Celebrity crush: Zac Efron (back off, he’s mine!)

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’ve never, in my life, eaten Taco Bell (and I don’t plan to)

Javen Marquise Kostrzewa

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Age: 30

Occupation: JD/MBA student at Georgetown

How do you identify?: Bisexual

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is emotionally intelligent, career driven and wants to have a family and get married. If you can make me laugh that is the key to my heart.

Biggest turn off: Being rude to service staff; surface-level interactions, and fear of commitment.

Biggest turn on: Ambition, sense of humor and dedication to pursuit of life balance (mental, physical, and emotional health)

Hobbies: I love to work out and am that weird person who enjoys cardio. Outside of work and the gym I like playing video games, watching anime, and binging TV series (financial crime docs are my favorite).

What is your biggest goal for 2023?: Finish law school strong, but make more time for social activities.

Pets, kids, or neither?: Both! I absolutely love dogs (allergic to cats) especially big dogs (Great Dane is my dream dog). I love kids — my nieces and nephews are bright lights in my life. I want to eventually adopt (I grew up in foster care and was adopted.)

Could you date someone whose political views differ from your own?: It depends on where they differ. If we differ on civil rights and equality, that’s non-negotiable.

Celebrity crush: Michael B. Jordan

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I sang a tribute for Bill Withers as part of the Songwriters Hall of Fame project. (Bill was hilarious!)

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