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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.

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Comings & Goings

Lane named senior counsel at Brady United



Thomas Patrick Lane

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at [email protected].

Congratulations to Thomas Patrick Lane the new Senior Litigation Counsel and Director of Affirmative Litigation with Brady United. According to its website, Brady’s mission is, “To unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.”

Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel and vice president of legal at Brady said, “The whole Brady team is thrilled to welcome Tom’s skills as a trial lawyer and his leadership as a champion for justice and a voice for inclusivity and equal rights. Tom is one of the top litigators in the country, and has been a fighter his whole life who has proven himself undaunted by any challenge, including taking on the gun industry for its role in causing gun violence in America. Tom’s expertise and insights into complex litigation involving emerging technologies, such as 3-D printed guns, “smart” technology, and online commerce, will bolster our fight for industry-wide change by holding companies accountable and forcing reforms that will make all Americans safer.”

Upon accepting the position Lane said, “From my time as a prosecutor to private practice, I have seen the effects of gun violence and the importance of defending victims and survivors and upholding common-sense laws that keep our families and communities safe. I am excited to bring that background to Brady and to continue this important work nationwide.”

Prior to joining Brady, Lane was a partner in the New York office of Winston & Strawn, LLP. Before that he was a partner in Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP. He is recognized as one of the country’s top intellectual property and new media lawyers. He tried the first Internet music case and the first Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor case before juries. He has also served as a senior trial attorney in the office of the New York Kings County District Attorney.

Lane represented the City of New York in litigation against major gun manufacturers in the early 2000s. LawDragon named him as one of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America.

Lane earned his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y.; and his J.D. from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans. He has created an endowed scholarship there for LGBTQ students to help law firms realize the importance of hiring diverse rosters of attorneys, and to honor the courage of his uncles Bernard Lane (an Army Ranger decorated with two Bronze Stars) and Richard Morrison (a recovered alcoholic who devoted his life to counseling others).

Both men were known for their toughness tendered by humor and both lived openly in loving relationships with same-sex partners in the 1970s. Lane is a former board member of the National LGBT Bar Association. He directs all external legal matters for the Tyler Clementi Foundation, whose mission is to end bullying in schools, workplaces, and faith communities.

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homepage news

100th anniversary celebration of Dupont Circle fountain set for May 17

GWU student creates tribute video



Dupont Circle Fountain, Russian news agency, gay news, Washington Blade
The iconic Dupont Circle fountain turns 100 this month. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

LGBTQ residents and longtime visitors to D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood are expected to be among the participants in the 100th anniversary celebration of the installation of the Dupont Circle fountain scheduled to be held at the circle on Monday, May 17.

Aaron DeNu, president of Dupont Festival, a nonprofit arts and cultural programming group that’s organizing the celebration, says it will take place from noon to at least sunset inside Dupont Circle.

The celebration will take place one week after the May 10 release of a YouTube video, “How Dupont Circle Evolved as a Hub for LGBTQ+ Life in the District,” produced by George Washington University student Dante Schulz. Schulz is the video editor for the G.W. student newspaper The Hatchet.

Among those appearing in the documentary video are veteran LGBTQ rights activists Deacon Maccubbin and his husband Jim Bennett, who owned and operated the Dupont Circle LGBTQ bookstore Lambda Rising beginning in the 1970s, which is credited with contributing to Dupont Circle’s reputation as the epicenter of D.C.’s LGBTQ community for many years.

Also appearing in the video is longtime D.C. gay activist and Dupont Circle area resident Craig Howell, a former president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“At this point in time due to COVID restrictions we’re not going to be doing any particular formal gathering of folks,” DeNu told the Washington Blade in describing the May 17 celebration. “But we’ll have a soundtrack that’s playing throughout the day from that original ceremony – the same songs they used in the original dedication a hundred years ago,” he said.

DeNu said the event will also feature “historic imagery” related to Dupont Circle and the people who have gathered there over the years.

“So, we’re really just inviting people to come and have lunch, stop by the park after work, and just stop and reflect on 100 years of Dupont Circle fountain, take a look at the imagery and see some old friends and hopefully stop by and see the Dupont businesses that are around the area,” DeNu said.

The LGBTQ video produced by Dante Schultz can be accessed here.

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Va. GOP governor nominee opposes transgender-inclusive youth sports

Glenn Youngkin made comment to Arlington voters in March



Glenn Youngkin (Photo via Twitter)


The Republican gubernatorial candidate to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has said he does not support allowing transgender children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

“Biological males should not be allowed to play sports in girls sports,” Glenn Youngkin said during a meeting with a group of voters in Arlington on March 25, according to the Washington Examiner. “It’s just not fair.”

The Washington Blade has reached out to Youngkin’s campaign for comment.

Youngkin, the former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, on Saturday defeated Pete Snyder, former House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield County), Peter Doran, Sergio de la Peña and Octavia Johnson in the Republican Party of Virginia’s nominating convention. Virginia Republicans nominated Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares as their candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general respectively.

The Democratic Party of Virginia will hold its primary on June 8. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is widely expected to win the vote, and run against Youngkin in the general election.

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