Editor’s note: There is more than one ‘Jessica Lavin’ in D.C. A Smithsonian employee by the same name is NOT the same woman who initiated the complaint against Deviant.
A resident of D.C.’s H Street, N.E. neighborhood near Capitol Hill who launched a campaign last week denouncing a Jan. 18 circuit party catering to mostly black gay men on grounds that it allegedly allowed participants to engage in sex has apologized for her action and says she would welcome the event to return to the restaurant where it was held.
In an email she sent to the Washington Blade on Sunday, Jan. 26, Jessica Lavin said she had a change of heart after doing online research about circuit parties and after reading a detailed description of the Jan. 18 Deviant Events Circuit Party written by its lead organizer, Micah Roseboro.
“I just wanted to apologize for the rush to judgment that myself and many people in the community had about the event,” she said in her email. “I did some research online about circuit party culture and Mr. Roseboro’s philosophy,” she said. “I was truly inspired after reading Mr. Roseboro’s story about the evolution of Deviant Events,” she continued.
“I have reached out to Mr. Roseboro in a separate email to personally apologize,” she wrote in her email to the Blade.
“It is certainly appreciated to be met with what sounds to be a sincere apology,” Roseboro told the Blade in his own message on Sunday. “However, after having been the victim of vitriol, lies and slander, I would like Lavin to put forth the same energy in correcting her statements to all the appropriate parties,” he said.
Roseboro was referring to Lavin’s decision to send a Jan. 20 email denouncing the Deviant Events circuit party held at the RedRocks Neapolitan Bistro at 1348 H St., N.E. to several D.C. government regulatory agencies and to D.C. police officials asking that they investigate the event.
“Me and many of my neighbors were surprised to learn that this event was an organized sex party where various men gathered and engaged in sexual acts with each other inside the venue,” Lavin wrote in her Jan. 20 email.
“We are concerned that the owners of RedRocks allowed this kind of event to take place at this property especially given the establishment’s proximity to housing containing many families with young children,” she wrote.
In claims made in her email that Roseboro has called “blatant lies,” Lavin said her neighbors reported seeing patrons of the circuit party walking along nearby streets wearing “provocative outfits including mesh thongs and leather harnesses” while others allegedly saw “attendees of this event engaged in sexual acts inside the venue and outside the venue.”
Roseboro said all windows at the RedRocks Bistro were coved with dark curtains to prevent anyone from looking inside when the event started at around 10 p.m., prompting him to conclude that allegations that sexual activity took place at the event are complete fabrications.
He also noted that while Deviant Events encouraged participants to dress provocatively and in keeping with the theme of the city’s annual Mid Atlantic Leather events held that same weekend, his event provided a place for participants to change their clothes inside the venue.
“No one was walking around outside in the provocative garments she was speaking of,” he said.
Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit, said members of the unit stopped by the event and did not see any illegal activity or problem of any kind.
Lavin concluded her email criticizing the event by stating, “We are also horrified that RedRocks has already begun advertising for another similar event scheduled for February 15, 2020.” She included links in her email to an Instagram flier promoting the February event.
But in her email to the Blade on Sunday, Levin said she no longer objects to another Deviant Events circuit party at the RedRocks Bistro.
“I am currently working with members of the community to provide information to our neighbors about the goal of Mr. Roseboro’s events and his group,” she said. “We truly applaud all that he has done as an advocate for the LGBT community.”
She added, “We would like for Mr. Roseboro to move forward with hosting his upcoming event on February 15 at RedRocks. We strive for the community to be an open, welcoming and inclusive place for all. We can assure Mr. Roseboro that his group will be welcomed and treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve,” she said. “Again, we are truly sorry for our rush to judgment.”
Roseboro told the Blade in his own email on Sunday that Lavin should acknowledge further that her actions triggered a flurry of hostile emails and social media messages targeting him that referred to Deviant Events’ participants as “apes,” “thugs,” “hoodlums,” and “perverts.” He said he believes some of the messages were racist and homophobic.
“Again, I believe firmly in learning curves and giving people an opportunity to evolve past hurtful ways, but it begins with acknowledging truth,” Roseboro said. “I want her to look inwards and face the truth of her motivations and also then to consider the truth of how her actions and outright lies have impacted real people, in and of the same community she claims to protect and defend.”
In response to a follow-up question from the Blade asking her to respond to Roseboro’s request that she inform city officials and others of her new position supporting the Deviant Events circuit party, Lavin said she has started doing that.
“I have begun reaching out to D.C. government agencies to notify them of this misunderstanding and to request that they not move forward with investigations of RedRocks, Mr. Roseboro or the guests of his event,” she told the Blade in a Jan. 27 email. “We have also begun reaching out to neighbors to let them know that the tone of the emails sent to Mr. Roseboro were completely inappropriate,” she said.
“I do not condone any of the hateful, racist or homophobic remarks that were made against Mr. Roseboro, she added.
In a message responding to Lavin’s Jan. 20 email attacking the Deviant Events circuit party, Roseboro described it as an uplifting event geared toward LGBTQ people of color.
“Deviant is wherein queer people of color may gather safely and freely,” he wrote. “We flirt and dance and dress scandalously. We wear harnesses and thongs and jockstraps and lace to defy and redefine masculinity,” he said in his statement.
“Deviant is black, brown, yellow, (some white) and queer,” he continued. “Deviant is a place free of violence, shaming and ridicule…We celebrate one another’s differences, and appreciate one another on the dance floor.”