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Most Eligible Singles 2020

Meet LGBTQ locals with interesting stories



LGBT Singles, gay news, Washington Blade

This is the sixth annual Washington Blade Most Eligible LGBT Singles issue. It began with reader nominations. From that list of about 200, our staff chose the 20 most eligible with an eye for locals with interesting stories, those doing compelling work and yes, those who are easy on the eye! Meet them in person Friday night at Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., N.W.) at 6 p.m. Details can be found HERE.


NAME: Fotios Stravoravdis

Fotios Stravoravdis (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 26

OCCUPATION: consultant


LOOKING FOR: Compassion, kindness, weird sense of humor and ambition. Having a purpose in life, driven by a goal that is bigger than his ego and respect for other people.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: arrogance and bad hygiene

BIGGEST TURN ON: A smile that can reflects someone’s soul. Also taking care of their body. Our body is the temple of our spirit.

HOBBIES: Is napping a hobby? When not napping, I spend my free time working out, reading, traveling or going to the theater. Musicals for the win!

IDEAL FIRST DATE: A date that goes so wrong it is actually so great.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? I am kid myself. What a responsibility this could be! Eventually, I’d like to have a daughter and a son. Imagine all these make up tutorials we could watch or all those sports we could play together. Make up with my son, sports with my daughter!

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? I’m Greek; we invented the essence of politics, democracy and debating. This means I am open to understanding other people’s political views. However, if someone adopts views that are harmful to the well-being of our society, views that pose threats to the future of younger generations and immigrants and views that deny climate change, then it’s a hard no from me.

CELEB CRUSH: Henry Cavill

OBSCURE FACT: If I name an obscure fact about myself, it won’t be obscure anymore. Yet I’ll say that some people think I am unapproachable, while in fact, I am shy.

NAME: Elise Glynn

Elise Glynn (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 28

OCCUPATION: IT and digital media


LOOKING FOR: What I’m looking for in a partner is someone who knows what they want in life and understands the importance of self love. Someone who is free spirited, confident and shows kindness to all people.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: The biggest turnoff for me is someone who doesn’t have any goals or dreams. Someone who doesn’t strive to better themselves.

BIGGEST TURN ON: openness and maturity

HOBBIES: I’m really into rock climbing, longboarding, teas, spirituality, skateboarding, swimming, script writing and photography. I just moved back to D.C. from L.A. and didn’t get as much surf time as I like over there, so I’m looking forward to getting back into it.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: My ideal first date would be to go to the Maryland bay area and go kayaking. Then we can eat some good food on the water and watch the sunset. If the night is still looking good, I can teach you how to ride my pintail longboard.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? I have two mini dogs. One I had since age 14 and my new addition I had for about a year and a half. I love kids but I’m not planning on having any of my own for now.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? Yes as long if they are loving and kind to themselves, myself and others. That’s all that matters.

CELEB CRUSH: Cate Blanchett, Lucy Liu and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

OBSCURE FACT: I’m a military veteran. These days, most people would never have thought that I was in the military.

NAME: Gerard Burley

Gerard Burley (Photo by Scott Henrichsen)

AGE: 36

OCCUPATION: Fitness coach and studio owner


LOOKING FOR: Someone fun, understanding, caring, responsible, who can take charge, put up with me and put me in my place.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Mean girls. I hate uppity people who act better than others.

BIGGEST TURN ON: backwards hats

HOBBIES: Love comedy shows and sports, basketball and football are my favs, playing with my dog, eating crab cakes and writing.

IDEAL FIRST DATE:Anywhere I can wear sweatpants. Maybe something basic like a SoulCycle class followed by tacos.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? I have a dog I love I’m open to more. Kids I’m not sure, let’s see who gets pregnant first.


CELEB CRUSH: Channing Tatum

OBSCURE FACT: I used to speak Italian pretty well. Now it’s broken Italian.

NAME: Alex Calambokidis

Alex Calambokidis (Photo courtesy of Calambokidis)

AGE: 26

OCCUPATION: Program officer, non-profit, supporting democracy and inclusive governance in East Africa.


LOOKING FOR: Someone who is kind, empathetic, open minded and direct. Also flexibility. Still working out the whole work/life balance thing myself. Opposite of asshole.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Bad tipper, self-identifies as “gym rat.”

BIGGEST TURN ON: Witty banter, wholesome memes

HOBBIES: Plants, karaoke, playing with other people’s dogs, junglepussy

IDEAL FIRST DATE: Long walks & mimosas to-go (or “to-gosas”). Let’s see where the day takes us.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? Being a plant mom and dog auntie is enough responsibility for me right now.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? Small differences? Sure. Challenging one another to think differently can be productive. Big differences? No.

CELEB CRUSH: Zoë Kravitz

OBSCURE FACT: The most obscure thing about myself is probably just the sum of weird situations I have found myself in. This probably falls somewhere on that spectrum.

NAME: Jake Abbott

Jake Abbott (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 27

OCCUPATION: Press Secretary on Capitol Hill


LOOKING FOR: I’m always drawn to confidence, kindness, a good sense of humor, and I’ll admit it — a handsome smile. I want a partner in crime who wants to host dinner parties and go on adventures, who is driven and passionate but also doesn’t see the world in black and white. He should want me to be his best friend but not his only friend.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: insecurity, arrogance, intolerance, negativity

BIGGEST TURN ON: wit, drive, curiosity, compassion, self-awareness, great smiles, big arms, beards

HOBBIES: Going to the gym or on a run, grabbing drinks with friends, playing with my roommate’s dog, traveling to new places, checking co-star each day, anything outdoors.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: Grabbing drinks or coffee at a place you like, taking a walk on a nice day or doing something that we both care about.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? I think I’d like dogs and kids (probably in that order) but it would be a conversation in a few years.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? Only if I can ask who they voted for in 2016.

CELEB CRUSH: Chris Mazdzer, James McCann, Ryan Reynolds, Tom Hardy, Oprah

OBSCURE FACT: I was an all-conference college football player.

NAME: Peyton Smith

Peyton Smith (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 27

OCCUPATION: Full-time non-profit work, part-time graduate student at American University.


LOOKING FOR: must love dancing

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Bad tippers. Always tip 20 percent.

BIGGEST TURN ON: Commits to a costume 100 percent when the occasion arises. And there is always an occasion for a costume.

HOBBIES: I’m on a competitive karaoke team. Also Saints football, WHO DAT!

IDEAL FIRST DATE: Let’s drink a few combos at Red Derby and see where the night takes us.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? I have a cat named Goose and I’m a slave to her paws.


CELEB CRUSH: St. Vincent. Anyone else watch her 2019 Grammy performance with Dua Lipa over and over again? Just me?

OBSCURE FACT: During Mardi Gras in 2012, Mariska Hargitay told me I was her number one fan, and I’ve been chasing that high ever since.

NAME: Jayme Birgy

Jayme Birgy (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 38. Like actually 38, not 38 for the past seven years in a row.

OCCUPATION: I build stuff people use on the internet and run the D.C. office for Lounge Lizard Worldwide.


LOOKING FOR: Emotional maturity and communication skills are a must. Good looks and nice things can only carry someone so far.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Lack of integrity.

BIGGEST TURN ON: A smile and just the right amount of confidence.

HOBBIES: Learning how things work, reading, road trips, boating/kayaking, and strategy games.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: Location and activity don’t really matter as long as the conversation is natural and he doesn’t run away when my nerd shows.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? Preferably a pack of Golden Retrievers

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? Yes, as long as they don’t have a shrine of Hillary Clinton in their basement.

CELEB CRUSH: Colin Jost (is that weird?) and Michael Strahan

OBSCURE FACT: I can’t read The Onion because I’ll accidentally cite it as fact later on. This is also the reason I don’t lie — it becomes reality.

NAME: Rajiv Desai

Rajiv Desai (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 39

OCCUPATION: vice president – diversity, inclusion and corporate social responsibility.


LOOKING FOR: Independence. Humor. Mindfulness. Respect for people and our planet.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Plastic, smoking and disingenuous behavior.

BIGGEST TURN ON: Creativity, curiosity about the world and empathy.

HOBBIES: Baking from scratch with lots of fruit, volunteering in the community, winning with my Dragon Boat Racing team, art, travel and cooking dishes inspired by my travels.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: Flowing conversation, banter and laughter over a coffee/drink (at a non-pretentious, independent establishment).

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? Not a dad (or a pet dad) yet, but open to both.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? Differing political views are fine. Racist, bigoted, non-inclusive views etc. are not.

CELEB CRUSH: Benedict Cumberbatch and Gael García Bernal

OBSCURE FACT: I’ve met Mother Teresa (while growing up in Calcutta).

NAME: Daniel Muñoz

Daniel Muñoz (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 30

OCCUPATION: Advertising professional during the day, computer science student at night, community advocate and member of the League of United Latin American Citizens’ Lambda Chapter and D.C. State Board whenever I can serve.


LOOKING FOR: Someone who is a natural optimist and wants to keep growing and bettering themselves and each other. A person who is compassionate and cares about the world around them, having emotional and cultural intelligence. A friend who can laugh at the absurdity in modern living. A partner who is supportive and loving. The ability to be sophisticated and a goofball when appropriate is a big plus.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Rudeness, bigotry, ignorance and bad tipping.

BIGGEST TURN ON: Kindness, humor, intellectual curiosity and good hygiene.

HOBBIES: Hanging out with friends and family, ’90s video games, gardening, hiking, sailing, tinkering with DIY electronics, conversations on nuanced topics, laughing and cracking stupid jokes, improving foreign language skills and fitness, volunteering, etc.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: The extrovert in me is always down for adventure and trying something new, but it’s completely fine to be low-key and chill on the first date. Visiting a Smithsonian or two and chilling at Kramerbooks is always a good start. From there, it’s up in the air.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? Kids would be great someday at the right time, but I’d be equally happy mentoring the community’s kids with him/her/them if that doesn’t happen.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? We could be a good match if your political (translation: personal) values are progressive and rooted in social equity and justice.

CELEB CRUSH: Diane Guerrero and Maluma

OBSCURE FACT: I used to work in television and was part of the larger production team that broadcast golf in the Olympics for the first time in history in 2016.

NAME: Candace Sibley

Candace Sibley (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 35

OCCUPATION: health scientist

IDENTIFY AS: lesbian

LOOKING FOR: Compassion, honesty, kindness, authenticity, ambition, support, emotionally intelligent, diligent, passionate, confident, to be challenged and consistent.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: cruelty, dishonesty, manipulation and lack of grace

BIGGEST TURN ON: Kindness, loyalty, understanding, conscientiousness, emotional stability and someone who with growth beliefs who thinks that relationships take hard work and that a strong relationship is something that you develop over time.

HOBBIES: reading, dancing, studying fashion, shopping and traveling

IDEAL FIRST DATE: A concert followed by dinner and drinks. This way we have fun dancing with each other and get to know each other over dinner and drinks.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? No to kids, I do not have pets, but I am interested in getting a dog in the future.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? No. I need someone who is progressive. My politics are at the core of who I am, so someone with opposite political views wouldn’t work.

CELEB CRUSH: Ava Duvernay and Meg the Stallion

OBSCURE FACT: I’m extremely outgoing when it comes to friendship and fashion, but I’m incredibly shy when it comes to romance. I am a true ambivert, I enjoy being the life of the party at times but I also enjoy a quiet book at home sometimes.

NAME:Russell Roberts

Russell Roberts (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 53

OCCUPATION: executive assistant


LOOKING FOR: I’m looking for passion, purpose and principles.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: dishonesty

BIGGEST TURN ON: humor, honesty and humility

HOBBIES: art, culture and exercise

IDEAL FIRST DATE: Anything creative and outside the box or something ridiculously simple and satisfying.



CELEB CRUSH: Jason Mamoa/Idris Elba/Daniel Craig

OBSCURE FACT: I’m a closet karaoke junkie.

NAME: Brittany Rheault

Brittany Rheault (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 35

OCCUPATION: Senior Director of Sports at DC Fray


LOOKING FOR: I mean who just doesn’t want the perfect mate? Someone who listens but can also dance. I need someone not afraid of the jam but can also get down about their feels on “Love Island UK.” I think it’s important to have a transparent partner that values communication, dogs and family.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Smell of detergent. Keep it simple, keep it clean.

BIGGEST TURN ON: BDE, also blue eyes and a girl who can dance. I’m ready for the DMs:

HOBBIES: Oh girl, what don’t I like? Boston sports for life so come through if you love the Pats and the Sox. My pups, because how could you not love my doodles? I’m mad for my friends and celebrating all the good things.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: You like the Nats? Well it’s that. Picture this — us in left field behind Soto cheering as he catches an attempted homerun. Nick gives us a brew. Truly if you need bc I make friends with the best and we watch Zimmmmm just nail it! And then we caught on the simba cam. lol

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? PETS!!! My babes are Wally and Kennedy. 

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? I’m open-minded as long as you’re a good person. 

CELEB CRUSH: Demi Lovato or Betty Who, but also we appreciate Katy Perry.

OBSCURE FACT: I’m a fiercely loyal friend who will do anything for the ones I love. 

NAME: Rachel Pike

Rachel Pike (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 34

OCCUPATION: life coach/bartender/security guru/trainer

IDENTIFY AS: queer, she/her/Daddy

LOOKING FOR: I think the list of what I’m not looking for is shorter. I want partnership, friendship, passion, laughter, respect and unconditional love. I want to see and be seen. Basically if it’s not magic, I’m OK on my own.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: I’ve been an athlete my whole life, but haven’t ever really subscribed to a competitive nature, per se. While I love to play and even enjoy the trash talking, a super competitive human doesn’t really do it for me. I love a challenge but don’t get into someone who frequently feels the need to one up people.

BIGGEST TURN ON: This isn’t difficult for me, and it’s highly situational. When someone truly knows and loves herself, I think it shines through. I’m turned on by confidence that doesn’t turn to disrespect, honesty that doesn’t become cruel. Kindness and the ability to be awed, find beauty in the small things. Also, it’s incredibly sexy when someone can flirt with only her eyes.

HOBBIES: I love motion, as often as possible. Any sports (basketball in particular), or sports-related activity is great for me. A true contradiction, I’m also really in to stillness. A good book, journaling opportunity, movie or divey space with a great beer.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: Again, situational. I think it’s unfortunate that as a masculine-presenting person, I’m often expected to plan dates. This isn’t to say I don’t love this. I’m actually great at it! However, I think someone taking me to something/someplace they are really excited about is an excellent way to get to know them.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? I’ve got both. Two perfect mutts and an even more perfect 15-year-old. I’d love to think that more of both are in my future.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? That depends on how they differ. I’m entirely aware of the responsibility that comes along with my privilege and I live that in every aspect of my life. We cannot disagree on fighting oppression.

CELEB CRUSH: I think real crushes happen when you know someone as a person, and I don’t have celebrities who I know that well. That said, I will watch anything starring Viola Davis or made by Shonda Rhimes. I adore the fire on the court of Arielle Powers and how playful/political Natasha Cloud is.

OBSCURE FACT: I’m an open book, so I don’t know that I have obscure facts. I juggle well. There’s rarely a tree I won’t climb. I am incredibly attached to a T-shirt from my childhood team and wore it under all my jerseys; I still wear it when the Mystics play.

NAME: JB Bridgeman

JB Bridgeman (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 30

OCCUPATION: non-profit administrator


LOOKING FOR: Someone who is confident in who they are as their own person and knows that a relationship isn’t about “completing” each other, but complementing one another.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: When someone is impatient, especially with folks in the service industry. Also bad breath.

BIGGEST TURN ON: When someone can make me laugh and isn’t afraid to look silly. Also a strong beard game.

HOBBIES: Playing rugby with the Washington Scandals, traveling, going to Caps games, running a Drag Race fantasy league and going to the movies.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: Grabbing a couple of boots at Dacha and getting to know each other while we split a giant pretzel.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? I have a cat named Marnie. She’s an adorable handful.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? If we’re talking minor differences, yes. Major ideological differences are another conversation.

CELEB CRUSH: Oscar Isaac

OBSCURE FACT: I was my high school’s mascot.

NAME: Olga Martinsone

Olga Martinsone (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 34

OCCUPATION: tennis pro

IDENTIFY AS: gay female

LOOKING FOR: honesty, empathy, sense of humor, team player

BIGGEST TURN OFF: dishonesty

BIGGEST TURN ON: ability to cook

HOBBIES: playing tennis, walking in the city and trading stocks

IDEAL FIRST DATE: dinner then a comedy club

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? have none but wants kids


CELEB CRUSH: Blake Lively

OBSCURE FACT: I eat orange peels

NAME:Chris Kuchnicki

Chris Kuchnicki (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 40

OCCUPATION: real estate agent


LOOKING FOR: Someone who is compassionate, caring, but also has ambition and drive.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Someone who is rude to wait/service staff.

BIGGEST TURN ON: confidence and ambition.

HOBBIES: fitness, travel, an occasional fun night out and design. I’m also member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: A few drinks and then maybe a show/movie/dinner. Hiking in warmer weather!

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? Neither, but I love dogs and am open to kids.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? It depends on where our moral compass lies within those views.

CELEB CRUSH: Channing Tatum

OBSCURE FACT: I’m related to Neal Armstrong.

NAME: Rebecca Kling

Rebecca Kling (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 35

OCCUPATION: educator, community organizer, storyteller, advocate for change

IDENTIFY AS: Queer, a woman, trans, storyteller, culturally Jewish, progressive, troublemaker and much more.

LOOKING FOR: Someone who will laugh at my stupid jokes, make me laugh and call me on my bullshit. Someone who is passionate about SOMETHING — could be immigration policy, or marine biology, or 15th century literature, but my mate needs to be excited and passionate about something in the world that moves them.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Inability to admit they’re wrong.

BIGGEST TURN ON: confidence

HOBBIES: Playing piano (mostly show tunes and folk music), reading sci fi, biking, Instagramming pictures of my cats.

IDEAL FIRST DATE:My ideal first date is going to a museum or gallery and coming up with arbitrary rules or a silly game for how we go through. Maybe we need to make up a rhyme for our favorite exhibit. Maybe we analyze each painting as if it we secretly hate it, but it was drawn by our best friend’s kid and they’re super proud. Maybe we’re on a scavenger hunt for whatever has the most red. Anything, as long as it’s fun.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? Definitely yes to pets, pretty sure yes to kids, too.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? Depends on how much they differ. I’d be open to dating someone who, y’know, doesn’t think we should put tax money toward space exploration. (They’d be wrong, but we’d make it work somehow.) On the other hand, I could never date someone who wants to defund public schools or supports ICE breaking up families at the border.

CELEB CRUSH: Samira Wiley

OBSCURE FACT: I once worked at a circus camp and still know how to juggle.

NAME: Charlotte Clymer

Charlotte Clymer (Photo courtesy of Clymer)

AGE: 33

OCCUPATION: press secretary, Human Rights Campaign

IDENTIFY AS: Proud trans woman and lesbian.

LOOKING FOR: I’m looking for someone who can make me laugh a lot and knows how to mix a French 75.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Ironic detachment. Not feeling it. Put a stake in the ground and be vulnerable enough to care about things.

BIGGEST TURN ON: Oxford commas

HOBBIES: Road trips. Karaoke. Late stage capitalism.

IDEAL FIRST DATE: I’m a simple girl. Ice cream followed by a great show and then drinks and conversation.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? Any and all welcome.

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? If you’re conservative, we’re not gonna be right for each other. If you’re some flavor of progressive, let’s talk!

CELEB CRUSH: Kermit the Frog

OBSCURE FACT: I’m a world-renowned expert in underwater basket weaving.

NAME:Faith Mitchell

Faith Mitchell (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: 24

OCCUPATION: HIV/STI Prevention Program Coordinator


LOOKING FOR: Essentially someone who is fun/funny, shows love through actions and is honest and supportive. I love to go out and am very active in community, so I would need someone willing to do things with me. My top love languages are quality time and acts of service so I appreciate when someone can show me love in those ways and am willing to give the same energy I ask for in return.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Constant rudeness or negativity and inconsistency

BIGGEST TURN ON: Pretty eyes and ambition

HOBBIES: Cooking new recipes, trying different restaurants and listening to new music

IDEAL FIRST DATE: After work going to a low-key bar with a relaxed ambiance, delicious food and good music (neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop) playing to get to know each other and see their taste in music.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? Neither, but open to both

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? It depends. As long as their views weren’t aligned with racism, oppression, sexism, inequality, etc., we could talk about it.

CELEB CRUSH: Ari Lennox and Iman Shumpert

OBSCURE FACT: I love acting and dancing and was in plays and musicals when I was younger. Eventually I want to get back into it.

NAME: Blessitt Shawn

Blessitt Shawn (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AGE: Excuse me?

OCCUPATION:Digital & Cultural Strategist

IDENTIFY AS: 79 percent queer, 85 percent high femme, 100 percent Gemini

LOOKING FOR: I’m looking for a seasonal bae who wouldn’t mind being my official taste tester, flex-time cuddle slut and full-time furniture assembler; someone confident enough to hold my purse as I’m getting out of the car and make it look just as good as I do.

BIGGEST TURN OFF: Anyone who uses, or embodies, the term “dude” or “bro.” Speed walkers. I have a physical disability that impacts my balance and mobility. Allow me to set the pace and I’ll let you take the lead. Also, people who don’t vet their sources before posting an article online really bother me. Why are we posting a 2013 conspiracy piece from, beloved? Deal breaker: people who measure butter or garlic. What’s wrong with you?

BIGGEST TURN ON: Nothing beats full brows, strong hands and chivalry. I am drawn to non-toxic masculinity. “What should we order for dessert?,” will almost certainly secure a second date.

HOBBIES: I enjoy hosting the perfect weekend brunch, becoming a mistress of interior design, perfecting my late-night grilled cheese and pretending to be an astrology expert when random drunk people ask me for dating advice at happy hour. “He’s a Pisces?! Girl …”

IDEAL FIRST DATE: Anything that involves tacos or dessert is a pretty great start. Did you know 7/11 donuts are made by Krispy Kreme? You’re welcome. My best dates also included the following: a cuisine neither of us have ever tried, laughing until our cheeks hurt and a “did you make it home?” text.

PET/KIDS/NEITHER? Pets are lovely, but I’m not waking up early to walk your fluff-muffin. Kids are cute in small doses but terribly expensive. How about we support our friends with kids by being engaged in their lives and out-gifting the couples that annoy us? (True confession: I love doing this.)

WOULD YOU DATE SOMEONE WHOSE POLITICAL VIEWS DIFFER? No thanks. If you think our current political climate has made America great, we’re not a match.

CELEB CRUSH: Ricky Martin would be my +1 to the Victory Fund Gala, while Jeff Goldbum would accompany me to the White House Easter Egg Roll. Deontay Wilder would be my insta-bae Friday-Sunday afternoon. (Sunday nights are for skincare.) I’d let Leo take me out for lunch and shopping when I’m bored.

OBSCURE FACT: I am from the first city of Kansas, Leavenworth, a trained opera singer and a preacher’s kid. Also, the last Grandma to try my pound cake gave it a 8.5/10 rating. Not too bad for a millennial, huh?


a&e features

Taste of Pride celebrates LGBTQ and allied restaurants

Weeklong event will feature local eateries and bars



Kareem Queeman, known as Mr. Bake, will headline the opening event for Taste of Pride.

Get ready to celebrate LGBTQ-owned, managed, and allied restaurants at Taste of Pride from Oct. 2-8. 

The weeklong event is a new initiative by Capital Pride Alliance. In 2021, the organization put on a single-day brunch event in June at LGBTQ and allied restaurants, but this is the first weeklong iteration. 

About 15 local restaurants and bars are set to participate, including As You Are, Shaw’s Tavern, Jane Jane, and Code Red. There’s also an opening party on Monday, Oct. 2 featuring food and drink vendors without a traditional brick-and-mortar space, like Suga Chef and Vegan Junk Food. 

Taste of Pride will raise funds for the Pride365 fund, which supports local LGBTQ organizations. There will be a three-course prix fixe menu at several of the participating locations, with lunch and brunch menus offered at $30, and dinner menus offered at $40 or $55. 

Kareem Queeman, known as Mr. Bake, will be headlining the opening event on the evening of Oct. 2 at Lost Generation Brewery. Queeman, the founder and owner of the renowned bakery Mr. Bake Sweets and a James Beard Award semi-finalist, said he’s excited to spotlight LGBTQ chefs and mixologists. 

Queeman said he’s proud to be a part of bringing queer culinary experts together to celebrate the work they’ve all done and discuss what changes need to come to the industry — there will be a panel discussion on Oct. 2 covering those topics. LGBTQ chefs have long gone unnoticed, he said, despite the innovative work they’ve done. 

“Queers have been in the industry doing the work for a very long time and we just haven’t really gotten that acknowledgment,” Queeman said. 

Providing this space for LGBTQ people in the restaurant industry is paramount to giving a sense of power and ownership in the work they do, Queeman said. He wishes there was this kind of space for him when he was coming up as a chef when he was younger. 

Taste of Pride is also a great opportunity for LGBTQ people looking to get into the industry to find safe spaces to work that are run by queer people, Queeman said. 

Rob Heim, the general manager at Shaw’s Tavern, said he’s looking forward to being a part of the event. And new fall menu items at Shaw’s Tavern will be available during Taste of Pride, which he’s thrilled to showcase. 

“I was really excited to help out and participate,” he said. “It’s a great idea.” 

The smaller number of participating restaurants in Taste of Pride is intentional, said Brandon Bayton, a volunteer executive producer organizing Taste of Pride. It’s so each restaurant can be well-represented during the week, and different restaurants will be highlighted on social media on separate days. Capital Pride Alliance is also partnering with influencers to get the word out. 

From left, food from 801 Restaurant and Bar and a drink from Code Red. (Code Red photo by Michael Emond; photos courtesy of Capital Pride Alliance)

Visibility — all year long 

It’s important to have events like Taste of Pride outside of June, Bayton said. 

“We exist 365 days,” Bayton said. “So we need to make sure that we continue the celebration and invite others to celebrate with us and just be authentically ourselves. We enjoy and do a lot of things other people do. There’s no reason why we should just be constrained to one month.”

Queeman agrees. His identity as a queer Black man doesn’t stop or start at any given month. 

“I’m not just a queer or gay man in June or I’m not just a Black man in February,” he said. 

And food is a major intersection that all people of all identities enjoy, Bayton said. It’s a simple way to bring people together. 

“We do the exact same things that everyone else does,” Bayton said. “We all eat. We all love to eat.” 

Taste of Pride will run from Oct. 2-8. For more information and to make reservations, visit

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Hip-Hop’s complicated history with queer representation

At 50, experts say the genre still doesn’t fully welcome LGBTQ inclusion



Rapper Lil Nas X faced backlash for his music video ‘Montero,’ but it debuted atop the Billboard 100.

I didn’t really start listening to rap until my college years. Like many queer Black children who grow up in the closet, shielded by puritanical Christianity from the beauty of a diverse world, I longed to be myself. But the affirming references I could pull from — in moments of solitude away from the wrath and disdain of family and friends — were in theater and pop music.

The soundtrack to my teenage years was an endless playlist of pop divas like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, whose lyrics encouraged me to sashay my hips anytime I strutted through a long stretch of corridor.

I was also obsessed with the consuming presence of powerful singers like Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, and the hypnosis that was Chaka Khan. My childhood, an extrapolation of Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays spent in church groups, choir practices, and worship services, necessitated that I be a fan of throaty, from-the-stomach singing. But something about the way these artists presented themselves warmed my queer little heart. LaBelle wore avant garde geometric hairdos paired with heavily shoulder-padded blazers. Houston loved an elegant slender gown. And Khan? It was the voluminous red mane that gently caressed her lower back for me. 

Listening to rap music in college was a political experience. My sociology classes politicized me and so it was only natural that I listened to rap music that expressed trauma, joy, and hope in the Black experience. However, I felt disconnected from the music because of a dearth of queer representation in the genre. 

Nevertheless, groups like Outkast felt nostalgic. While delivering hedonistic lyrics at lightning speed, André 3000 — one half of the rap duo — mesmerized with his sleek, shoulder-length silk pressed hair and colorful, flowing shirts and trousers — a style that could be translated as “gender-bending.” Despite the patriarchal presentation rampant in rap and Hip-Hop, Andr​​é 30000 represented to me, a kind of rebellious self-expression that I so badly wanted to emulate but couldn’t because of the psychological confines of my conservative upbringing. 

My discovery of Outkast was also sobering because it was a stark reminder of how queerness is also often used as an aesthetic in Hip-Hop while actual queer people are shunned, rebuked, and mocked. Queer people in Hip-Hop are like backstage wingmen, crucial to the development of the show but never important enough to make a curtain call. 

As Hip-Hop celebrates 50 years since its inception in New York City, I am filled with joy because it’s been half a century of Black people owning their narratives and driving the culture. But it’s fair to ask: At whose expense? 

A viral 2020 video shows rapper Boosie BadAzz, famed for hits like “Set It Off” and “Wipe Me Down,” rebuking NBA star Dwayne Wade and award-winning actress Gabrielle Union-Wade for publicly supporting their then-12-year-old daughter after she came out as transgender. 

“Don’t cut his dick off, bro,” said BadAzz with furrowed eyebrows and a gaze that kept turning away from the camera, revealing his tarnished diamond studs. “Don’t dress him as a woman dawg, he’s 12 years. He’s not up there yet.” 

The responses from both Wade and Union-Wade were a mixture of swift, sarcastically light-hearted, and hopeful.

“Sorry Boosie,” Union-Wade said to an audience during a live podcast appearance at Live Talks Los Angeles. “He’s so preoccupied, it’s almost like, ‘thou doth protest too much, Little Boos.’ You’ve got a lot of dick on your mind.”

Wade also appeared on an episode of podcast, “I AM ATHLETE,” and looked directly into the camera.

“Boosie, all the people who got something to say, J-Boogie who just came out with [something] recently, all the people who got something to say about my kids,” he said. “I thank you because you’re allowing the conversation to keep going forward because you know what? You might not have the answers today, I might not have the answers, but we’re growing from all these conversations.” 

This exchange between the Wades and BadAzz highlights the complicated relationship between Black LGBTQ individuals and allies and the greater Hip-Hop and rap genres and communities. While Black queer aesthetics have long informed self-expression in Hip-Hop, rappers have disparaged queerness through song lyrics and in interviews, or online rants like BadAzz, outside the recording studio. 

And despite LGBTQ rappers like Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Lil Nas X, and Saucy Santana achieving mainstream success, much work lies ahead to heal the trauma that persists from Hip-Hop’s history of  patriarchy and homophobia. 

“‘Progression’ will always be relative and subjective based on one’s positionality,” said Dr. Melvin Williams said in an email. Williams is an associate professor of communication and media studies at Pace University. “Hip-hop has traditionally been in conversation with queer and non-normative sexualities and included LGBTQ+ people in the shaping of its cultural signifiers behind the scenes as choreographers, songwriters, make-up artists, set designers, and other roles stereotypically attributed to queer culture.”

“Although Hip-Hop incorporates queerness in their ethos, ideas, and trends, it does not privilege the prospect of an out LGBTQ+ rapper. Such reservations position LGBTQ+ people as mere labor in Hip-Hop’s behind-the-scenes cultivation, but not as rap performers in its mainstream distribution,” he added. 

This is especially true for Queen Latifah and DaBrat who existed in the genre for decades but didn’t publicly come out until 2021. Still, both faced backlash from the Black community for daring to challenge gender roles and expectations. 

Queen Latifah dodged questions about her sexuality for years before acknowledging her partner and their son in 2021. (Photo by DFree via Bigstock)

Lil Nas X also faced backlash for his music video “Montero” with satanic references, including one in which he slides down a pole and gives a character representing the devil a lap dance. Conservatives such as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem accused him of trying to scandalize children. 

“You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am,” Nas X said in a note that accompanied “Montero.” The agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.”

Regardless, “Montero” debuted atop the Billboard 100. 

In an article published in “Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society,” scholar C. Riley Snorton posited that celebrating queer visibility in mainstream media could be a problem as this kind of praise relies on artists presenting in acceptable forms of gender and sexuality expression and encourages representation that is “read alongside…perceptions of Hip-Hop as a site of Black misogyny and homophobia.” 

In the case of Frank Ocean, who came out in 2012 prior to the release of his album “Channel Orange,” his reception was warmer than most queer Hip-Hop artists because his style of music is singing, as opposed to rapping. Because of this, his music was viewed more as R’n’B or pop. 

“Frank Ocean ain’t no rapper. He’s a singer. It’s acceptable in the singing world, but in the rap world I don’t know if it will ever be acceptable because rap is so masculine,” rapper Snoop Dogg told the Guardian in 2013. “It’s like a football team. You can’t be in a locker room full of motherfucking tough-ass dudes, then all of a sudden say, ‘Hey, man, I like you.’ You know, that’s going to be tough.”

So what’s the solution for queer people in Hip-Hop? Digital media.

Williams, the Pace University professor, says that being divorced from record labels allows queer artists to be independent and distribute their music globally on their own terms. 

“We witnessed this fact with artists such as Azealia Banks, Cakes Da Killa, Fly Young Red, Kevin Abstract, iLoveMakonnen, Lil Nas X, Mykki Blanco, and Saucy Santana, as well as legacy LGBTQ Hip-Hop acts like Big Freeda, DeepDickCollective, and Le1f,” he said. “The music industry has experienced an increasingly mobilized market due to the rise of digital media, social networking platforms, and streaming services.”

“More importantly, Black queer Hip-Hop artists are historicizing LGBTQ+ contributions and perspectives in documentaries, films, news specials, public forums, and podcasts. Ultimately, queer people engaging in Hip-Hop is a revolutionary act, and it remains vital for LGBTQ+ Hip-Hoppers to highlight their cultural contributions and share their histories,” he added. 

(Hip-Hop pioneers Public Enemy and Ice-T will headline The National Celebration of Hip-Hop, free concerts at the West Potomac Park on the National Mall in D.C. on Oct. 6 and 7.)

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Cuisine and culture come together at The Square

D.C.’s newest food hall highlights Spanish flavors



(Photo by Scott Suchman)

Downtown got a bit tastier when “the next generation of food halls” opened its doors on Tuesday near the Farragut West Metro stop. Dubbed The Square, its half-dozen debut stalls are a Spanish-flecked mix of D.C. favorites, new concepts, and vendor-collaborative spirit.

After two years of planning – and teasing some big-name chefs – the market is, according to the owners, “where cuisine, culture, and community are woven together.”

Behind this ambitious project with lofty aims are Richie Brandenburg, who had a hand in creating Union Market and Rubén García, a creative director of the José Andrés Group who also was part of the team of Mercado Little Spain, the fairly new Spanish-themed Andres food hall in Hudson Yards.

Food halls have come a long way since the new Union Market awakened the concept a decade ago. Instead of simply rows of vendors in parallel lines, The Square has a new business model and perspective. This food hall shares revenue between the owners and its chef partners. Vendors are encouraged to collaborate, using one software system, and purchasing raw materials and liquor at scale together.

“Our goal was two-fold: to create a best-in-class hospitality offering with delicious foods for our guests; and behind the scenes, create the strong, complex infrastructure needed to nurture both young chefs and seasoned professionals, startups, and innovation within our industry,” says Brandenburg.

The Square has embraced a more chef-forward methodology, given that the founders/owners themselves are chefs. They’re bringing together a diverse mix of new talent and longtime favorites to connect, offer guidance to each other, and make the market into a destination. 

(Photos by Scott Suchman)

The first phase of The Square premiered this week. This phase encapsulates a selection of original concepts from well-known local chefs and business owners, and includes:

• Cashion’s Rendezvous – Oysters, crab cakes, and cocktails, from the owners of D.C. institutions and now-closed Cashion’s Eat Place and Johnny’s Half-Shell (Ann Cashion and John Fulchino).

• Jamón Jamón – Flamenco-forward food with hand-cut jamón Iberico, queso, and croquetas, sourced by García himself.

• Brasa – Grilled sausages and veggies are the stars here. Chef García oversees this Spanish street-food stall as well.

 Taqueria Xochi – Birria, guisado, and other street tacos, plus margs. Named after the ruins of Xochitecatl in Central Mexico, and from a Jose Andres alum.

• Yaocho – Fried chicken, juices, sweets, and libations.

• Junge’s – Churros and soft serve ice cream. Brandenburg and García both have a hand in this stall.

• Atrium Bar – The central watering hole for drinks. Atrium Bar serves cocktails, wine, and beer curated by The Square’s Beverage Director Owen Thompson.

“Having been part of Jose Andres’s restaurant group and getting to know Ruben and Richie, it’s amazing to see how their values align with ours at Taqueria Xochi. Seeing all these incredible chefs heading into Square feels like a full-circle moment,” said Geraldine Mendoza of Taqueria Xochi.

Slated for fall 2023, the next round of openings includes Flora Pizzeria, Cebicheria Chalaca, KIYOMI Sushi by Uchi, Shoals Market (a retail hub), and more. Additionally, chef Rubén García’s Spanish restaurant, Casa Teresa, will soon open next door to The Square.

The Square is just one of a handful of new food halls blossoming in and around D.C. Up in Brentwood, Md., miXt Food Hall is an art-adjacent space with tacos, a year-round fresh market, coffee, and beer. Across from Union Market is La Cosecha, a Latin marketplace with everything from street food to a Michelin starred restaurant and a festive vibe. Closer to The Square is Western Market by GW University, which opened in late 2021 with a buzzy, relaxed style.

For now, the Square is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Square plans to open on weekends and extend hours to offer dinner service in the coming months. A few alfresco seats will accompany the hall.

(Photo by Scott Suchman)
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