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Imagine Dragons’ Reynolds takes LGBTQ advocacy to Washington

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Dan Reynolds (R) meets with Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California’s 23rd District (Photo via Twitter)

Dan Reynolds is not gay, but he takes being an LGBTQ ally very seriously.

The Imagine Dragons frontman has long been a fierce and dedicated advocate for LGBTQ acceptance, something he recently took to the next level by heading to Washington, DC, to meet with federal lawmakers about implementing a nationwide ban on so-called “conversion therapy.”

Reynolds, joined by Neon Trees’ Tyler Glenn and “RuPaul‘s Drag Race” star Carmen Carrera, met earlier this month with several lawmakers, including Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and Rep. Ted Lieu, a Vice-Chair of the Equality Caucus, at the U.S. Capitol, to lobby for a federal ban on conversion therapy. In his social media posts, Reynolds shared that they also spoke with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Mitt Romney, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, among others.

After visiting with the lawmakers, Reynolds said, “Sadly it takes a straight man with a lot of privilege to come in as well, to actually get things done. And I think that’s a damn shame, in 2020 something you’d think would not be necessary. But it’s just a truth of the matter.”

Only 19 states currently ban conversion therapy, though Virginia’s State Senate last month passed a bill banning the practice and the state’s House of Representatives passed their version of the bill on Monday. The two versions will be reconciled into a final bill before being sent to Governor Ralph Northam to sign.

Reynolds’ LGBTQ became known for his LGBTQ activism in 2016, when he and Glenn became co-founders of the LOVELOUD Festival, to raise awareness to the issues impacting LGBTQ youth. In 2017, the Imagine Dragons singer started the LOVELOUD Foundation, as a way to “bring communities and families together to help ignite the vital conversation about what it means to unconditionally love our LGBTQ+ youth.”

Reynolds’ efforts were highlighted by the 2018 HBO-produced documentary, “Believer,” which follows the musician’s mission to confront the Mormon Church over its discriminatory policies toward LGBTQ individuals while documenting the first LOVELOUD Festival in Orem, Utah. The film was nominated for a 2018 Emmy and won the Best Documentary prize at GLAAD’s 30th Annual Media Awards.

Reynolds, Glenn, and Carrera hosted a screening of the documentary in Washington in conjunction with their meetings with elected officials.

When Imagine Dragons took the Best Rock Artist Award at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, Reynolds used his entire acceptance speech to speak up about the issue of conversion therapy and its harmful effect on LGBTQ youth.

“I just want to take this moment to say that there are 34 States that have no laws banning conversion therapy,” the rocker said. “And on top of that, 58 percent of our LGBTQ population live in those states. This can change, but it’s going to take all of us talking to our state legislators, pushing forward laws to protect our LGBTQ youth.”

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10 LGBTQ events this week

Cupid’s Undie Run among highlights

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Cupid's Undie Run takes place this Saturday. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in the DMV that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.


JR.’s Showtunes

Monday, February 6
9 p.m.
JR.’s Bar
1519 17th Street, N.W.
Facebook

Join your friends to belt out your favorite showtunes at the neighborhood LGBTQ venue, JR.’s.


Queer Trivia!

Wednesday, February 8
7 p.m.
The Dew Drop Inn
2810 8 the Street, N.E.
Facebook

The Mistresses lead a game of trivia on all things LGBTQ.


Drag Bingo

Wednesday, February 8
8-11 p.m.
Pitchers DC
2317 18th Street, N.W.
Facebook 

Brooklyn Heights hosts free games of bingo at Pitchers on Wednesday.


Ultimate TayTay Party

Friday, February 10
10 p.m.
Songbyrd Music House
540 Penn Street, N.E.
18+ / $25 advance / $30 door
Facebook | Tickets

Show your appreciation for Taylor Swift at a DJ dance party at Songbyrd Music House on Friday.


Cupid’s Undie Run

A scene from last year’s Cupid’s Undie Run afterparty. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Saturday, February 11
12 p.m.
Union Stage
740 Water Street, S.W.
$45 for individual tickets
Facebook | Tickets

Raise money for neurofibromatosis research in a fun short run wearing your most festive undies and with a pre-party and afterparty that has become a D.C. staple. While not specifically an LGBTQ event, you will certainly be among many LGBTQ people who participate.


Miguel Espinoza’s Art Exhibition Closing

Saturday, February 11
7-9 p.m.
DC Center for the LGBT Community
2000 14th Street, N.W.
Suite 105
Website

This free event celebrates the work of Miguel Espinoza: “naked unafraid.”


Vanguard Valenties: A Dark Dance Party

Saturday, February 11
9 p.m.
Safari DC Lounge
4306 Georgia Avenue, N.W.
$7
Facebook | Eventbrite

DJs Johnny Panic, Ultra Violet Rah and Villainess entertain at a dark dance party at Safari DC Lounge on Saturday.


Lovers & Friends

Sunday, February 12
10 p.m.
Zebbie’s Garden
1223 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., 3rd Floor
$10-$100
Eventbrite

Davon Hamilton Events and Willieeb World Events present “Lovers & Friends” at Zebbie’s Garden on Sunday with DJ Apollo and DJ Dave Thomm.


Gaga Brunch

Sunday, February 12
12 p.m.
Red Bear Brewing Company
209 M Street, N.E.
$25
Facebook | Eventbrite

Desiree Dik hosts a Lady Gaga-inspired drag brunch on Sunday. Performers include Every Pleasure, Venetian, Sweet Pickles, Mia Vanderbilt and Tip Boy: Pup Indigo.


Doming0’s Got Talent XXXO

Sunday, February 12
7 p.m.
DC9 Nightclub
1940 9th Street, N.W.
21+ / $20
Facebook

Catch a campy drag game and show celebrating the lovers, partners and friends of DMV drag royalty at DC9 Nightclub on Sunday.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Drag Brunch

Winchester Pride hosts show at 81 Bar & Grill

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Ava Rage performs at 81 Bar & Grill for Winchester Pride's Drag Brunch on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Winchester Pride held a drag brunch at 81 Bar & Grill in Frederick County, Va. on Sunday, Feb. 5. Performers included Miss Winchester Pride 2023 Chasity Vain, Candice Candy, Alexa V. Shontelle, Ava Rage and Anita Tension.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Books

New bio illuminates Liz Taylor’s decades of support for queer community

‘Without homosexuals there would be no culture’

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(Book cover image courtesy of Harper)

‘Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon’
By Kate Andersen Brower
c.2022, Harper
$33/513 pages

In the mid-1980s, actor Roddy McDowell threw a dinner in honor of Bette Davis’s birthday. Davis, a queer icon, thought it was “vulgar” when Elizabeth Taylor and actress Pia Zadora, tried on each other’s diamond rings. “Oh, get over it, Bette,”  Taylor, an actress, philanthropist and queer icon, told Davis.

One Friday in 1998, Taylor learned that a friend of her assistant had died, alone, with no money for his burial, from AIDS. Taylor wanted her business manager to arrange for the man who had died to be buried. She was outraged when she learned that this couldn’t be done ASAP. “We will not fucking wait until Monday,” Taylor said, “We will do it right now.” 

These are two of the entertaining, moving, and revealing stories told about Taylor in “Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon” by Kate Andersen Brower.

Many bios written about celebs have the shelf life of a quart of milk. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Brower’s bio of Taylor.

Taylor, who lived from 1932 to 2011, was, for most of her life, not only a celebrity – but a household name, a worldwide subject of admiration, titillation and gossip.

But Taylor was so much more than catnip for the paparazzi. She was a feminist, an often underrated actress, businesswoman, senator’s wife, addict, mother,  lover of animals, a proponent of gun control, an opponent of anti-Semitism, philanthropist and queer history hero.

Yet, despite the hype, glam and all that’s been written about Taylor, many aren’t aware of the multi-facets of her life.

In “Elizabeth Taylor,” Brower, a CNN contributor, who’s written “The Residence,” “First Women” and “Team of Five, “First in Line,” gives us an informative, lively bio of Taylor.

It is the first authorized biography of Taylor. Usually, this is the kiss of death for a biography. Few want their family members to be revealed as three-dimensional people with not only talent, but flaws.

Thankfully, Brower’s Taylor bio escapes the trap of hagiography. Brower began writing the biography after talking with former Sen. John Warner, who was married to Taylor from 1976 to 1982. (Warner died in 2021.) 

Warner was one of Taylor’s seven husbands. He and Taylor remained friends after they divorced. Warner connected Brower with Taylor’s family who wanted the story of Taylor to be told. Brower was given access to a trove of new source material: to Taylor’s archives – 7,358 letters, diary entries, articles, and personal notes and 10,271 photographs. Brower drew on unpublished interviews with Taylor, and extensively interviewed Taylor’s family and friends.

In her 79 years, Taylor did and lived so much, that telling the story of her life is like trying to put the Atlantic Ocean into one bottle of water. Yet, Brower makes Taylor come alive as an earthy, glam hero with flaws and struggles.

Taylor, who performed with Burton in Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” was as proficient at cursing as the Bard was at writing sonnets. “I love four-letter words,” Taylor said, “they’re so terribly descriptive.”

She was renowned for caring for friends and strangers. During Sept. 11, Taylor was in New York. She paid for a toothless woman, who was looking for a job, to get teeth, and comforted firefighters. A firefighter wondered if Taylor was really at his firehouse. “You bet your ass, I am,” Taylor said. 

Taylor loved her children. Yet, her kids were often (due to her work) left with nannies or enrolled in boarding schools.

Due partly to life-long back pain sustained from an injury she sustained while filming “National Velvet” when she was a child, Taylor struggled with a life-long addiction to pills.

In “Elizabeth Taylor,” Brower illuminates Taylor’s decades of support and friendship with the queer community. Early in her career, she formed close friendships with queer actors Rock Hudson, Montgomery Clift and James Dean. “Without homosexuals there would be no culture,” Taylor said.

Decades later, it’s easy to forget how horrible things were during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s. Brower vividly brings back the horror and the tireless work Taylor did for AIDS research. At a time when people wouldn’t use a telephone touched by someone with AIDS, Brower reports, Taylor would hug patients with AIDS in hospices. She jumped into bed to hold her friend Rock Hudson when he was dying from AIDS when no one would go near him, Brower writes.

“I’m resilient as all hell,” Taylor said.

There couldn’t be a better time for “Elizabeth Taylor” than today. In our era, when many would like to erase LGBTQ people, Taylor’s legacy is more important than ever. 

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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