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Expenses up, income down for area LGBTQ nonprofits

Casa Ruby, Whitman-Walker, SMYAL, others coping with COVID

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LGBT nonprofits, gay news, Washington Blade
Casa Ruby Executive Director Ruby Corado. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Like nonprofit organizations throughout the country, at least seven LGBTQ supportive nonprofit groups in D.C. that provide services for area youth and adults say the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted their fundraising efforts while increasing expenses, at least in part by prompting more people to come to them for help.

An informal survey conducted by the Washington Blade found that the local LGBTQ supportive groups Casa Ruby, Whitman-Walker Health, SMYAL, Wanda Alston Foundation, HIPS, and Food & Friends have experienced an increase in the number of clients reaching out to them for services.

At the same time, officials with several of the organizations have said restrictions put in place to curtail the spread of the coronavirus by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, including a ban on events that draw large numbers of people and the shutdown of hundreds of small businesses, some of which donated money to the LGBTQ nonprofits, have resulted in a drop in revenue for the groups.

The D.C. Center for the LGBT Community has said it, too, could encounter a decrease in revenue if the epidemic’s restrictions force the cancellation of fundraising events later this year. The Center announced on its website in March that restrictions put in place related to the epidemic forced it to temporarily close its offices at 2000 14th St., N.W., but many of its member organizations were holding events remotely online through the video streaming service Zoom.

The Center also announced one of its most popular projects, the Reel Affirmations LGBTQ Film Festival, would offer monthly film showings remotely on demand. This month’s offering, in celebration of Black Pride Month, will be the film “Pier Kids,” which portrays the lives of a group of LGBTQ youth of color, some of whom were kicked out of their homes. The DC Center says a “ticket” for $12 can be purchased to view the film from Friday, May 15 through Monday, May 18, at thedccenter.org.

Ruby Corado, founder and executive director of the D.C. LGBTQ community services center Casa Ruby, said Casa Ruby is among the local groups experiencing a dramatic increase in clients seeking, among other things, emergency housing, since the coronavirus outbreak hit the city in full force in early March.

‘We cannot close and ask our clients to call from home,’ said Ruby Corado of Casa Ruby. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Unlike some of the other LGBTQ groups, Corado said, closing the doors of its headquarters building and community services center at 7530 Georgia Ave., N.W. and working remotely with clients through online “visits” is not an option.

“We cannot close and ask our clients to call from home,” Corado said. “We are their home,” she said in referring to the homeless LGBTQ youth for whom Casa Ruby serves as an emergency shelter.

Corado said the business shutdowns, including the temporary closing of local LGBTQ bars and nightclubs, resulted in a drop in donations for Casa Ruby in the past two months. She said she’s hopeful that others who have not been as severely impacted financially by the epidemic will come forward with financial support.

D.C. gay businessman Anthony Shop has joined forces with gay Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Randy Downs to launch an initiative called Take-Out to Help Out that the two say is aimed at helping both small LGBTQ businesses and nonprofit LGBTQ groups like Casa Ruby.

Shop told the Blade the Take-Out to Help Out group has raised about $3,000 so far, which it will use to pay local LGBTQ restaurants and bars that offer food service to produce meals to be delivered to the employees and clients of LGBTQ nonprofit groups like Casa Ruby, SMYAL and others.

“Meals will be purchased from LGBTQ-owned businesses that have been affected by the economic effects of the pandemic and provided to nonprofit organizations that serve LGBTQ+ youth at risk of homelessness,” a statement released by the group says.

Whitman-Walker Health, the city’s largest private provider of HIV and other health related services with a large LGBTQ client population, has said its large number of clients and its launching of two COVID-19 testing sites required it to switch most of its non-COVID patients to a “telehealth” remote visit system beginning on March 23.

As of early May, Whitman-Walker has provided nearly 6,000 telehealth visits to patients and clients either by phone or online video streaming. But according to Naseema Shafi, Whitman-Walker’s CEO, the number of telehealth visits were 2,000 fewer than the usual 8,000 in-house patient visits for the same six-week period that occurred before the coronavirus restrictions began.

Shafi told the Blade in an email that in addition to a drop in fundraising activities caused by the epidemic’s restrictions, Whitman-Walker discovered that insurance companies and to some degree Medicare pay less for telehealth visits than for in-person visits, causing an additional loss in revenue.

“We have lost over a half million in revenue impact from COVID in one month,” Shafi said. “We started to see loss in revenue in March and this will continue for the foreseeable future. We will need support from all areas, but especially from the community,” she said.

Shafi said Whitman-Walker nevertheless will continue its longstanding mission as a first responder providing care for patients and the community. She noted that as of early May, Whitman-Walker tested over 385 people for COVID. Out of those tested, 15 percent were transgender, 42.3 percent were lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and 33 percent were people living with HIV. About 100 of those tested were found to have a positive test result, she said.

SMYAL, which provides services for LGBTQ youth and in recent years opened two houses for homeless LGBTQ youth, is hopeful that members of the LGBTQ community will provide the financial support SMYAL needs to continue its programs during the epidemic, according to spokesperson Hancie Stokes.

Stokes told the Blade last month that SMYAL, in response to social distancing restrictions put in place by the city, has had to close its offices and youth drop-in center on Capitol Hill and switch to virtual counseling and other interaction with its youth clients.

“For many of the youth who come to our drop-in and leadership programs, they were in the middle of their spring semester, seeing friends on a daily basis, and the stay-at-home orders were a huge disruption to those routines and community,” Stokes said.

“Youth have talked about how they felt disappointed, sad, or incomplete given that graduations and other milestones that they’ve been working toward have been cancelled or moved virtually,” Stokes told the Blade. “One youth told us, ‘Personally, I know that I am scared. With my school closed, I lack my usual community, support and structure…leaving me alone, isolated, and disoriented,’” Stokes quoted the youth as saying.

June Crenshaw, executive director of the Wanda Alston Foundation, which among other things operates the Wanda Alston House for homeless LGBT youth in Northeast D.C., said the coronavirus outbreak has had an adverse impact on both the foundation’s finances and the nine youth who reside at the Alston House.

“Obviously, as a shelter we are essential and still open and doing business,” Crenshaw said, adding that new protocols had to be developed to ensure the safety of the staff and youth residing at the Alston House.

“Obviously our residents can’t go to school or go to work and so they may have to shelter in place,” she said. “And I think that isolation and being disconnected from friends and potentially having to stay in shelter longer is causing all kinds of stress.”

According to Crenshaw, 75 percent of the Alston Foundation’s revenue comes from city government grants, with the remaining 25 percent coming from private contributions from supporters. She said the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a decrease of between 25 and 30 percent in private donations, in part because of the cancellation of planned fundraising events.

Crenshaw said the Alston Foundation was also among the large number of nonprofit organizations and small businesses that were unable to obtain a U.S. Small Business Administration payroll loan because of the initial internal delays at the SBA. She said the foundation obtained the loan, which is forgiven if used to pay employee salaries, in the second round of loans funded by Congress.

Food and Friends is one of D.C.’s largest nonprofit groups. It was founded in the early 1980s to provide home-delivered meals to people with AIDS, including gay men with AIDS. It has since expanded its mission to provide meals for homebound people with other serious illnesses.

According to Abigail Seiler, the executive director, the coronavirus outbreak has had a significant adverse impact on Food and Friends. In an April 17 statement on the group’s website, Seiler said the epidemic has resulted in a dramatic increase in Food and Friends’ clients as more people who become ill from COVID-19 and others who have to self-quarantine after testing positive for the virus are in need of home-delivered meals.

“Medical providers are referring more seriously ill patients to Food and Friends so that they don’t need to venture outside of their homes,” Seiler said. “Fewer caretakers are able to take that risk as well, further increasing demand.”

She said Food and Friends delivered 4,000 more meals the first week of April compared to the first week of March. At the same time, she said, social distancing policies have resulted in a drop in the number of volunteers that Food and Friends relies upon to help prepare and deliver meals to its clients.

“Food and Friends is operating in a different world,” Seiler said in a message to its supporters. “But the support you’ve shown us is helping us meet the demand today and preparing us to still be there for those who need us in the future. As our supporters, you are our foundation.”

Two other nonprofit groups that provide services to LGBTQ clients – Us Helping Us, which provides HIV and other health related services, and HIPS, which provides services and support for sex workers – have said coronavirus restrictions required that they close their offices for in-person visits and to switch whenever possible to virtual visits with clients.

Contributions to the LGBTQ supportive nonprofit organizations can be made through the links below:

DC Center, thedccenter.org/donate
Food & Friends, foodandfriends.org
Take Out To Help Out, givebutter.com/TakeOutToHelpOut
SMYAL, smyal.org
Wanda Alston Foundation, wandaalstonfoundation.org/support-us
Whitman-Walker Health, whitman-walker.org/give
Casa Ruby, casaruby.org/donate/
Us Helping Us, ushelpingus.org/donate

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Coronavirus

D.C. mayor to lift all restrictions on bars, nightclubs on June 11

‘We will definitely be celebrating Pride’ next month

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Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday that she will fully lift capacity and other restrictions on most businesses, including restaurants and places of worship, on May 21. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced at a news conference on Monday that a continuing trend of significantly lower numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in the city has enabled her to fully lift capacity and other restrictions on most businesses, including restaurants and places of worship, on May 21.

The mayor said bars and nightclubs will be allowed to increase indoor capacity from the current 25 percent to 50 percent on May 21, with all capacity restrictions for bars and nightclubs to be removed on June 11.

The mayor’s announcement came after representatives of the city’s nightlife businesses, including the city’s gay bars and restaurants, expressed concern that D.C. had yet to lift its capacity restrictions beyond 25 percent while surrounding jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia had already lifted most restrictions.

“On May 21, restrictions on public and commercial activity, including capacity limits, types of activities, and time restrictions, will be lifted,” the mayor’s directive says.

It says restrictions for bars and nightclubs would continue at a 50 percent capacity from May 21 through June 11. The directive says restrictions for large sports and entertainment venues would also continue from May 21 to June 11, which includes a requirement such events apply for a waiver of the restrictions on a case-by-case basis.

“On June 11, capacity limits and restrictions will be lifted on those venues that cannot fully reopen on May 21,” the directive says.

In response to a question at the news conference, Bowser said the June 11 date would essentially end all restrictions on nightclubs and bars, including the current requirement that they close at midnight rather than the pre-epidemic closing times of 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends.

In a development that could have a major impact on plans for D.C.’s LGBTQ Pride events, the mayor’s revised health directive announced on Monday includes the lifting of all capacity restrictions on large outdoor and indoor sports and entertainment events beginning on June 11.

That change would remove restrictions that have, up until now, prevented D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance from holding its annual Pride Parade and Festival in June during Pride Month.

Capital Pride Executive Director Ryan Bos told the Washington Blade shortly after the mayor’s announcement that Capital Pride is assessing its options for expanding its current plans for in-person events in June.

“We will definitely be celebrating Pride in June,” Bos said. “We just received this information as well. So, we will be getting further information,” he said. “We have not been informed that they will be issuing any permits yet, so at this time we are moving forward with our original plans for doing things.”

Bos was referring to a city requirement for obtaining permits for street closings and use of other public spaces for events such as a parade or street festival. He said existing plans, among other things, call for an informal parade of cars and other vehicles on June 12 that will drive throughout the city to view homes and businesses that will be decorated with Pride displays such as signs, photos, and other symbols of Pride.

Those familiar with the city’s past Pride events don’t think there will be enough time for Capital Pride to organize the traditional large parade and street festival in time for June. But Capital Pride officials have talked about holding a possible parade and festival in October, and the lifting of the capacity restrictions announced by Bowser on Monday would likely make that possible.

In addition to lifting all capacity restrictions on May 21 for restaurants, the mayor’s May 21 timeframe for lifting restrictions includes these additional venues and events:

  • Weddings and special events
  • Business meetings and seated conventions
  • Places of worship
  • Non-essential retail
  • Personal services
  • Private at-home gatherings
  • Libraries, museums, galleries
  • Recreation Centers
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Pools
  • Office space
  • Schools
  • Childcare

“We’re very pleased that over the last several days, we have seen our case spread, our community spread numbers, venture out of the red into the yellow and fast approaching the green,” Bowser said in referring to a health department chart that shows the changes in coronavirus cases in the city.

“You might remember that our daily case rate peaked in January at 45.9. And today you can see it’s down to 6.6,” she said at her news conference on Monday.

“Throughout this process I have said how proud I am of D.C. residents and businesses who have responded, who have followed health guidance and have worked together to help protect our community throughout the pandemic. And we see it in these numbers today,” she said.

“Containing the virus will continue to require all of us to be focused on maintaining a robust health system,” the mayor said, adding that while over 200,000 D.C. residents have been fully vaccinated since December 2020, “many more thousands” still need to be vaccinated. “Vaccines are free and available on demand at walk-up sites across the District,” she said.

The mayor also noted that the city will continue to require residents and visitors to use a mask in accordance with existing and updated guidance set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mark Lee, coordinator of the D.C. Nightlife Council, an association that represents restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues, said the mayor’s directive on May 10 leaves some details to be addressed but will open the way to bring nightlife businesses back to life.

“What we do know is that on Friday, May 21, businesses begin returning to normal operations and, three weeks later, on June 11, all restrictions for all businesses in the District will end,” Lee said. “It’s a day we’ve long awaited and one that will save much of our community enterprise from financial ruin.”

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Coronavirus

DC residents with HIV eligible for COVID vaccine

Mayor announces expanded eligibility as vaccine supply increases

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COVID-19 vaccine, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Feb. 24 that D.C. residents between the ages of 16 to 24 who have one of 19 pre-existing medical conditions, including HIV, will now be eligible to make an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The mayor and D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said the appointments could be made through the city’s special site, vaccinate.dc.gov, beginning Thursday and Friday, Feb. 25 and 26. The vaccinations themselves for the expanded group of residents, including people with HIV, would begin March 1, the mayor said in an announcement.

Abby Fenton, a spokesperson for Whitman-Walker Health, the D.C. community health center that provides services to the LGBTQ community and people with HIV, said Whitman-Walker has begun contacting its HIV patients about the availability of the COVID vaccine for them.

“We are urging people to try to make an appointment with the city because we have such a limited supply,” Fenton said. She said Whitman-Walker is dispensing the vaccine for those who the city determines are eligible at its medical center locations at 1425 14th Street, N.W., and at its Max Robinson Center at 2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., S.E.

Michael Kharfen, the DOH official in charge of the city’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration, said the limited supplies of the COVID vaccine that the city has been receiving from the federal government has prevented the allocation of vaccine supplies to community health centers like Whitman-Walker until a few weeks ago.

He said supplies of the vaccine have increased in recent weeks and the Department of Health was hopeful that it will be able to provide additional supplies of the vaccine to community health centers and other facilities and health care providers.

Kharfen noted that the city has been increasing the availability of the vaccine to different groups of residents in stages as supplies have increased. Front line medical workers and nursing home residents were the first to receive the vaccine. The most recent group to become eligible prior to the mayor’s most recent expansion this week were people 65 years of age and older.

The mayor’s announcement on Feb. 24 listed these pre-existing medical conditions, including HIV, that would make city residents between the ages of 16 and 64 eligible for the COVID vaccine:

Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and other Chronic Lung Disease; Bone Marrow and Solid Organ Transplantation; Cancer; Cerebrovascular Disease; Chronic Kidney Disease; Congenital Heart Disease; Diabetes Mellitus; Heart Conditions, such as Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Disease, or Cardiomyopathies; HIV; Hypertension; Immunocompromised State; Inherited Metabolic Disorders; Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Liver Disease; Neurologic Conditions; Obesity, BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2; Pregnancy; Severe Genetic Disorders; Sickle Cell Disease; and Thalassemia.

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Coronavirus

D.C. gay bars struggling to stay open in pandemic

Mayor’s new rule banning liquor sales after 10 p.m. called ‘devastating’

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gay bar, gay news, Washington Blade
Nellie’s Sports Bar (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

John Guggenmos, co-owner of the D.C. gay bars Number 9 and Trade, says he and his business partners support Mayor Muriel Bowser’s efforts to keep people safe as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 continues to rise in the city.

But Guggenmos and other gay bar owners say the mayor’s most recent order requiring bars and restaurants to stop serving alcoholic beverages after 10 p.m. has had a devastating impact on what had already been a major decline in business since the COVID restrictions were put in place earlier this year.

“We see hope on the horizon,” Guggenmos said. “But for many places it’s just going to be too late. It is sad because even if I am in a position that we can weather this storm better, if other places in the neighborhood don’t, then we all suffer.”

Exterior of Trade, which is working to serve customers amid new 10 p.m. cutoff for alcohol sales. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

David Perruzza, owner of the Adams Morgan gay sports bar Pitchers and its adjoining lesbian bar A League of Her Own, said gay bar customers traditionally come out to the clubs after 9 p.m. and often remain there several hours later.

Under the mayor’s current Phase II rules for addressing the COVID health emergency all restaurants and bars must close at midnight, two hours earlier than the pre-epidemic closing time of 2 a.m. during the week and three hours sooner than the normal 3 a.m. closing time on weekends. That restriction by itself has resulted in a significant drop in revenue for bars and nightclubs, including LGBTQ clubs, officials with the clubs have said.

The new restriction put in place last month banning liquor sales after 10 p.m. allows bars and restaurants to continue to stay open until midnight. But Guggenmos, Perruzza and other bar owners say few if any customers would likely come in to order non-alcoholic beverages. Thus they and nearly all of the city’s bar and restaurant owners have decided to close at 10 p.m. until the restrictions are lifted, a development that has further curtailed their businesses.

“I’ve had the worst two weekends of my life at the bar,” said Perruzza in referring to the weekends following the ban on liquor sales after 10 p.m. “I can’t sustain a business this way,” he said.

Pitchers (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Department of Health, has said city inspectors have found that more violations of the COVID-related health restrictions at restaurants and bars, such as social distancing and mask wearing, were occurring after 10 p.m. as patrons consumed more alcohol. But nightlife advocates have disputed claims that riskier behavior occurs after 10 p.m. They say there are no studies or data to back up those claims.

Perruzza said he understands that while the mayor’s intention is to curtail the spread of the coronavirus he believes the 10 p.m. cutoff on alcohol service will result in large numbers of bar customers going to private parties in people’s homes where there will be fewer safeguards to curtail the virus.

“By her doing this she is going to push people to have more house parties,” Perruzza said. “At least if they’re in a restaurant or bar they’re in a controlled environment where they take their temperature. They make sure everything is sanitized after people leave,” Perruzza said. “People are not required to wear masks when they go to house parties.”

Prior to the start of the pandemic, D.C. was home to at least 15 gay bars or nightclubs in which the clientele was largely LGBTQ. A number of other D.C. bars and nightclubs are considered LGBTQ friendly, according to gay D.C. nightlife advocate Mark Lee, who said those additional establishments have a significant LGBTQ clientele.

In March, Bowser issued her initial emergency health order requiring all “non-essential” businesses, including bars and restaurants, to temporarily close their indoor operations to customers in an effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Carryout food and drink orders were allowed, and some of the gay clubs joined other bars and restaurants in putting in place a take-out order business.

A short time later, the DC Eagle, the city’s longest continuously operating gay bar, announced it was permanently closing. The Eagle’s majority owner filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy following longstanding financial problems, but many of the Eagle’s customers believe the pandemic played some role in the permanent shutdown.

At the same time, the popular LGBTQ nightclub Ziegfeld’s-Secrets closed its doors indefinitely after the owner of the building where it was located in the city’s Buzzard’s Point area invoked its longstanding plan to demolish the building to make way for a new condominium and retail development. Ziegfeld’s-Secrets manager Steve Delurba said the club would like to reopen in a new location but efforts to reopen would have to wait until all COVID-19 restrictions on such establishments were lifted.

Among the city’s remaining 13 LGBTQ bars and clubs, all but one has reopened after the mayor put in place the city’s Phase II business reopening plan in June, which allowed bars, restaurants, and other businesses to resume limited indoor operations.

The Fireplace, a gay bar at 2161 P St., N.W. near Dupont Circle, decided to remain closed rather than operate under the COVID restrictions but “definitely” plans to reopen, according Larry Ray, a longtime customer who said he spoke with one of the owners.

Among the other Phase II restrictions for bars, restaurants and nightclubs put in place by Bowser in the spring was the requirement that such establishments must operate at 50 percent of their normal indoor capacity, all patrons must be seated at tables spaced six feet apart, and at least three food items must be served that are prepared on the premises regardless of whether the establishment was exempt from serving food prior to the pandemic. The Phase II order also bans the establishments from offering live entertainment.

Two weeks ago, when the mayor issued her updated order banning the serving of alcoholic beverages after 10 p.m. at bars and restaurants, she also included in the order a reduction in the capacity of customers from 50 percent to 25 percent based on concern that the number of COVID-19 cases was rising in D.C. after the case number had gone down in the spring and summer.

Perruzza told the Blade that due to the Phase II social distancing requirements and the spacing of tables and the ban on allowing customers to stand except to walk in and out and go to the bathroom, Pitchers and his adjoining bar A League of Her Own were never able to reach a 50 percent capacity. At most, he said, he was able to reach a 33 percent capacity, which now must be reduced to 25 percent.

Meanwhile, the D.C. gay bar Dirty Goose at 913 U St., N.W. is among the establishments hit with a fine for allegedly violating the Phase II food serving requirement. According to a report in the Washington City Paper, an inspector from the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration on Nov. 27 cited Dirty Goose for serving only cookies as a food item, saying it failed to provide at least two other types of food such as popcorn or brownies instead of just cookies.

Co-owner Justin Parker told City Paper he plans to contest the citation on grounds that the establishment serves multiple types of cookies that are prepared on the premises and that the different types should be accepted as different food types. He said that ABRA inspectors came to Dirty Goose six or seven times in November prior to citing him for the food violation and found his establishment to be in full compliance with all of the COVID related requirements.

On its Facebook page the Dirty Goose announced on Nov. 10 that it had voluntarily closed its doors after one of its employees tested positive for COVID and out of caution it would remain closed until all remaining employees were tested. On Nov. 15 it announced “we have received all our employees test results and we are ready to reopen,” which happened less than a week later.

In a Nov. 25 Facebook message, Dirty Goose conveyed what appears to be the sentiment shared by the other LGBTQ bar owners and operators.

“First, we would like to thank all of our wonderful family of patrons who have kept us going since May,” the message says. “What a crazy 8 months it’s been!” After announcing the Dirty Goose would be closing at 10 p.m. each day due to the mayor’s order banning alcohol sales after that hour, the message added, “We look forward to continue serving all of you and please know we are continuously following the safety requirements set by the DOH and the safety of our staff and patrons remains our main priority.”

Dirty Goose was recently fined for allegedly violating rules about serving three kinds of food to remain open. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Lee, the longtime D.C. nightlife advocate who served as director of the D.C. Nightlife Council before being furloughed, said the 10 p.m. cutoff for the sale of liquor at bars and restaurants will be especially harmful coming with all the other restrictions.

“The most maddening aspect of Mayor Bowser suddenly halting all alcohol consumption after 10 p.m. at local bars, restaurants, and nightclubs operating in full compliance with public safety protocols and highly restricted service limitations is that there is no actual data or evidence-based rationale for this financially devastating roll-back curfew,” Lee told the Blade.

“This arbitrary edict jeopardizes the survival of hospitality establishments by causing them to lose the major portion of revenue they had been able to generate,” he said. “We’re getting reports that this decision is costing operators up to 60 percent or more of the little money they were making, leaving most with no choice other than to shut down two hours earlier rather than attempt to now serve only food items and non-alcoholic beverages until midnight,” Lee said.

Lee noted that at a press conference on Dec. 7, Bowser acknowledged that nightlife establishments, including restaurants and bars, have done an exemplary job of complying with health requirements and providing a safe space for patrons and employees.

At that press conference the mayor also said she looks forward to being able to lift all restrictions on businesses once the COVID vaccine becomes widely available. But she said that with a resurgence of COVID cases in D.C. in recent weeks along with the rise in cases in the surrounding suburbs the city could be forced once again to order the complete shutdown of indoor operations of businesses like restaurants and bars if the local COVID situation worsens.

Perruzza, Guggenmos and Doug Schantz, owner of the gay sports bar Nellie’s at 900 U St., N.W., each said their establishments and others like them serve as a place where LGBTQ people can go to be themselves, which many are unable to do at work, school, or even at home in some situations.

“At some point safe human interactions are what people are craving,” said Guggenmos. “You see someone on the street and how they desperately just want that interaction again,” he said. “If we could do that safely, why not?”

D.C.’s LGBTQ Bars/Restaurants

Nellie’s Sports Bar
900 U Street, N.W.
202-332-6355

Uproar
639 Florida Ave., N.W.
202-462-4464

The Dirty Goose
913 U Street, N.W.

JR.’s
1519 17th Street, N.W.
202-328-0090

Windows/DIK Bar
Upper floor at Dupont Italian Kitchen
1637 17th Street, N.W.
202-328-0100

Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse restaurant/bar
1609 17th Street, N.W.
202-232-0395

Larry’s Lounge
1840 18th Street, N.W.
202-483-1483

Pitchers/League of Her Own
2317 18th Street, N.W.
202-733-2558

Duplex Diner
2004 18th Street, N.W.
202-265-7828

The Fireplace
2161 P Street, N.W.
202-293-1293
[Temporarily closed during pandemic]

Number Nine
1435 P Street, N.W.
202-986-0999

Trade
1410 14th Street, N.W.
202-986-1094

Green Lantern
1335 Green Court, N.W.
202-347-4533

D.C. LGBTQ-friendly Bars/Clubs

Dacha Beer Garden
1600 7th Street, N.W.
202-350-9888

9:30 Club
815 V Street, N.W.
202-265-0930

DC 9 Nightclub
1940 9th Street, N.W.
202-483-5000

Dito’s Bar
Lower floor at Floriana Restaurant
1602 17th Street, N.W.
202-667-5937

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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