Connect with us


LGBTQ Latinx advocate Fausto Fernandez dies at 80

Physician practiced in Northern Virginia for 30 years



Fausto Fernandez, gay news, Washington Blade
Dr. Fausto Fernandez

Fausto Fernandez, a physician who practiced family medicine in the Northern Virginia area for more than 30 years and who became known as an advocate and champion for the LGBTQ Latino community, died July 18 at the Virginia Hospital in Arlington from complications associated with heart disease and non-COVID pneumonia, according to an official with the clinic Fernandez headed. He was 80 years old.

Hermon Balbuena, the administrator at the Falls Church, Va.-based Dr. Fernandez Family Clinic, said that for the past decade or longer Fernandez served a mostly low-income, uninsured patient population, many of whom were immigrants.

“And through his work with different programs and different agencies he likely contributed to saving hundreds if not thousands of lives,” Balbuena said.

“We did a lot of preventive work through screenings and through partnerships with organizations like the American Cancer Society and the local Latin American Consulate and so on for 20 years,” he said “And he used to see patients for a very low fee or no fees at all resources permitting,” said Balbuena. “So he is actually a hero for me.”

Friends from the D.C. LGBTQ community said Fernandez, as an out gay physician, became a role model for many in the LGBTQ Latinx community. D.C. Latino GLBT History Project founder Jose Gutierrez said Fernandez in 1995 organized a Latinx LGBTQ support group called Platiquemos (Let’s Talk), which held meetings in the Dupont Circle area.

Gutierrez said that in his role as lead facilitator of the group from 1995 to 1999, Fernandez organized education and HIV prevention presentations, gay movie nights, and other support meetings.

“Fausto was a great friend and participated in all the D.C. [Pride] parades and community events,” Gutierrez said in an email sent to LGBTQ community activists.

Robert Spiegel, one of Fernandez’s closest friends, said he met Fernandez in 1988 at the then-D.C. Gay Community Center, which hosted a gay rap group.

He said Fernandez was born and raised in Havana, Cuba on April 10, 1940. According to Spiegel, Fernandez’s parents and their four children, including Fausto, immigrated to the United States in the late 1950s like thousands of other Cubans to escape the Fidel Castro led revolution. The family settled in Miami, Spiegel said, also like large numbers of other Cuban refugees, and soon became naturalized U.S. citizens.

Fernandez married a Cuban immigrant woman and had three children in the Miami area before the couple moved to Spain in 1975 with their children to each attend medical school, according to Spiegel. He said Fernandez received his medical degree with honors from the University Of Cadiz Faculty Of Medicine in 1981.

Fernandez completed his medical residency at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in 1983, Spiegel said, and from 1983 to 1986 Fernandez and his wife served as medical and scientific journal editors for the Plenum Publishing firm in New York City.

Fernandez and his wife divorced sometime between their residence in New York and Fernandez’s move to the Washington, D.C. area in 1986, when he began his family medicine practice, Spiegel said.

Spiegel and Fernandez’s longtime friend Gerry Mickle of Alexandria said Fernandez’s dedication to serving patients in financial need, some of whom may have been undocumented immigrants, resulted in Fernandez living modestly with an income below that of other doctors.

Balbuena said that during the last two years Fernandez suffered from spinal stenosis, which mostly immobilized him and prevented him from working physically at the Falls Church clinic. However, as a sign of his dedication, Balbuena said Fernandez up until earlier this year continued to service his patients remotely through telemedicine.

“His mind was very sharp until the last minute,” said Balbuena. “And he didn’t suffer at all because he passed very peacefully due to the pneumonia and heart complications,” said Balbuena, who added that Fernandez tested negative for COVID-19.

He said Fernandez, who said he did not wish to have a memorial service, was cremated, with his ashes sent to family members in Florida.

Balbuena said clinic officials have decided to retain the name Dr. Fernandez Family Clinic in Fernandez’s honor.


District of Columbia

Nonprofit D.C. groups invited to apply for anti-LGBTQ violence grants

$700,000 available for FY 2025 ‘VPART’ program



LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs held a conference on July 18 to inform interested officials with local nonprofit community-based organizations that provide services to the LGBTQ community how best to apply for city grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 as part of the city’s Violence Prevention and Response Team program, known as VPART.

Information released by the program states that its mission is to “address, reduce, and prevent crime within and against the LGBT community” by “creating a strong partnership between the community and the government which enables us to focus on coordinating a community response to violence.” 

Addressing hate-bias crimes targeting the LGBTQ community are among the program’s high priority objectives, information released by the program says.

Presentations on how best to apply for the VPART grants and what the requirements are for obtaining them were given by LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and the office’s grants administrator, George Garcia. The two said the deadline for submitting grant applications for the program is Aug. 5. Organizations whose applications are approved will receive the grant funds they are approved for on Oct. 30, which is the start of fiscal year 2025.

Garcia said a total of $700,000 has been allocated to fund the VPART grants, the number of which will depend on how many applications are received.  

Garcia said that among the key components of the VPART program are Victim Response Services, Case Management, Legal Services, Trauma Informed Mental Health Services, and Cultural Humility Training that he said are aimed, among other things,  to support LGBTQ victims of violent crime.

One of the organizations that has received VPART grants in past years, and that is expected to apply again this year is the D.C. LGBTQ Community Center.

 “Along with offering trauma-informed therapy and casework, the DC LGBTQ+ Community Center directly supports LGBTQ+ survivors with our mental health services, shelter assistance, and other resources victims of violence may need,” the LGBTQ Center says in a statement. “If you are LGBTQ+ and are a victim of violence, or know someone who is, you can refer them to the DC LGBTQ+ Community Center and we will make sure they are supported and connected to the resources they need,” the statement says.

The conference was held at the Reeves Center municipal building where the LGBTQ Affairs office and other city agencies as well as the LGBTQ Community Center are located at 2000 14th St., N.W. About a dozen people attended the conference in person and another 14 attended virtually through Zoom, according to Bowles.

Continue Reading


J.D. Vance lives in LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood in Alexandria

VP nominee’s home in Del Ray is near newly opened gay bar



Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) speaks at the Republican National Convention on July 18 in Milwaukee. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In a development that may come as a surprise to some, U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, who Donald Trump has chosen as his vice-presidential running mate and who has voted against LGBTQ rights legislation, has lived for a little over a year on a quiet street in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Va., that has a sizable number of LGBTQ residents.

Public property records show that Vance and his family live on a side street two blocks off a section of Mt. Vernon Avenue, which is Del Ray’s main commercial street, where the gay pop-up bar Pride On The Avenue opened in June.

Vance’s house in Del Ray, which the Washington Post reports was purchased for $1.6 million, is also located in the district of gay Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), which includes all of Alexandria and parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties.

“Being a resident of a district as diverse as mine gives J.D. Vance an opportunity to experience what truly makes America great,” Ebbin told the Washington Blade. “With a bilingual elementary school and LGBTQ gathering space nearby, I’d encourage Mr. Vance to visit with some of my constituents so he can hear from them on how they will be negatively impacted by anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT policies put forward in the GOP Party Platform and Project 2025,” Ebbin said in an email.

Ebbin was referring to the 900-page far-right policy document prepared by the conservative Heritage Foundation as a plan of action for a new Trump administration if Trump wins the presidential election in November. The Project 2025 document, among other things, opposes LGBTQ rights initiatives and calls for repealing existing LGBTQ rights legislation.

Bill Blackburn, a co-owner of Pride On The Avenue, recalls that people referred to then as members of the gay community moved to Del Ray in the early 1990s and possibly earlier in large numbers and played a lead role in buying old, often rundown houses and renovating them.

“It’s interesting that Del Ray was kind of gentrified by a lot of the gay community in the ‘90s,” Blackburn said. “And there’s still a lot of residents in Del Ray from that early period who kind of reinvigorated Del Ray,” he said. “So, it’s interesting how this neighborhood evolved and how it’s become such a sought-after neighborhood that we even get right-wing Republicans who see the value of living here.”

According to Blackburn, Vance “lives like a hundred yards away” from Pride On The Avenue.

People familiar with Del Ray point out that during Pride month in June many of the stores and shops along Mt. Vernon Avenue display Pride flags. Blackburn said Pride On The Avenue, which is currently the only gay bar in Alexandria, “has been very well received” by nearby residents and visitors to the neighborhood.

Voting records from past elections show Del Ray, even more than Alexandria as a whole, has elected Democrats over Republicans and has supported Democrats in statewide elections. In the 2020 presidential election, President Joe Biden won against Donald Trump in Del Ray by a greater than 80 percent margin, according to the Washington Post.

Washingtonian magazine has reported that after news surfaced last year that Vance and his family had moved into their house in Del Ray, a local artist staged a one-person protest by placing rainbow colored striped cloth and Pride flags in the area, including on a tree across the street from Vance’s house.

Continue Reading


Moore joins Democratic chorus endorsing Harris

Announcement comes day after Joe Biden ended 2024 campaign



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, left, applauds as Vice President Kamala Harris, right, endorses U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks last month. Moore is now endorsing Harris for president. (Photo by Ulysses Muñoz/Baltimore Banner)

BY PAMELA WOOD | Maryland Gov. Wes Moore joined the chorus of prominent Democrats backing Vice President Kamala Harris to be the party’s nominee on Monday.

In a statement, Moore said the vice president is the best choice for Democrats and the nation.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner website.

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade