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Prominent D.C. Realtor, avid traveler Kurt Rieschick dies at 50

McWilliams Ballard executive was longtime city resident

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Longtime D.C. resident Kurt Rieschick, who served as a vice president for the local real estate company McWilliams Ballard and who along with his husband traveled extensively to international destinations, including their favorite city of Paris, died at home on Jan. 16 of a heart attack. He was 50.

David Klimas, his husband and partner of 22 years, and Rieschick’s sister, Jacqueline Costell, said Rieschick appeared to be in excellent health and had no advanced signs of heart disease other than the fact that his father died of a heart attack at the age of 52 in 1998.

Klimas’s posting of the news of his husband’s passing on Facebook drew an immediate outpouring of messages of sympathy and admiration for Rieschick from dozens of people who knew him, including many friends and business associates.

“Today is my saddest day,” Klimas wrote in his Facebook post. “My beloved. My person. My number one. My best friend. My husband died early this morning from a massive heart attack,” Klimas wrote. “I will never be the same. I will never forget him. He was my life.”

Klimas said he and Rieschick had vowed to get married as soon as same-sex marriage became legal, and he said the couple did so when D.C.’s same-sex marriage law took effect in 2010. 

Rieschick was raised in Columbia, Md. His sister said he graduated from Columbia’s Hammond High School in 1988 shortly before he attended Drexel University in Philadelphia, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Prior to beginning his real estate career with McWilliams Ballard, Rieschick worked from 1996 to 2000 as a product training manager for the Bureau of National Affairs or BNA, the then D.C.-based company that published newsletters and research reports on business, government, and academic related topics.

Rieschick traveled throughout the U.S. selling and teaching BNA subscribers about various BNA electronic publications and services as part of his responsibilities with the company, his LinkedIn page says.

He began his affiliation with McWilliams Ballard in 2000, according to a career summary of Rieschick’s tenure with the real estate company published on its website. The write-up says Rieschick had experience “across most real estate product lines, selling condominiums, lofts, townhouses, and unique style row homes.”

It says Rieschick, who had the title of vice president, managed “all aspects of the sales process from hands-on sales, marketing, broker outreach, sales reporting” and other aspects of the sales process. The write-up says he sold properties in the price range of $200,000 to over $2.5 million.

Klimas, who also works as a vice president for McWilliams Ballard, said that at the time of his passing Rieschick was acting as the lead sales agent for a new high-rise condominium apartment project near the Washington Nationals baseball stadium called Kennedy on L at 37 L St., S.E.

“We did everything together,” Klimas told the Washington Blade. “We worked together at the same company for the last 21 years. We traveled together. We did French lessons. We went traveling throughout the world,” said Klimas, who noted that Rieschick was especially fond of traveling to Paris and France after the two became fluent in French.

According to Klimas, his husband was a “huge” fan of Madonna.

“We saw Madonna around the world,” Klimas said. “We followed her concerts, every last one of them. And we saw her in Paris, Amsterdam, London, and Miami. We loved to travel. We traveled extensively,” he said in recounting Rieschick’s love for travel and for attending Madonna concerts.

Costell said she and her family, including her and Kurt’s parents, were supportive of his being gay and she, her husband, and her two kids welcomed Klimas as part of the family.

“I personally became a huge advocate for gay rights,” she said. “And then when I got married and had children, I wanted my kids to grow up with that love that I gave to my brother and all of his friends,” she said.

Costell selected her brother and Klimas to be godfathers to both of her children. At her request, the two attended and participated in her daughter’s and son’s baptismal ceremonies on separate occasions at a Catholic church in Baltimore with the full approval of the priest in charge, Costell said. The two kids were about three months old at the time of their respective baptisms in 2005 and 2007, with her brother and Klimas holding the two babies during part of the ceremony.

As a dedicated uncle, Rieschick, with his partner and husband, Klimas, at his side, stopped by her home nearly every holiday, she said. “I mean every Christmas, every single birthday, Easter – every holiday,” she said, that Rieschick and Klimas came over for a visit.

Costell said her brother’s untimely death has prompted her to consider taking action to encourage all public buildings and residential apartment buildings to have on hand a defibrillator, a medical device used to administer an electric shock to the heart to resuscitate someone whose heart stops from a heart attack.

Klimas told the Blade he attempted to resuscitate Rieschick after calling 911. He said emergency medical workers arrived in about 10 minutes of his call, but they were unable to save his husband’s life.

He and Costell said a highly restricted funeral viewing was tentatively scheduled for Jan. 22 or Jan. 23 at a Northwest D.C. funeral home. Costell said the downtown D.C. lockdown related to the presidential inauguration had as of Tuesday prevented her brother’s body from being transported from the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office to the funeral home.

Meanwhile, due to COVID-related restrictions, the funeral home has said it would not allow more than eight people to attend the viewing, which was to take place before Rieschick was to be cremated.

Klimas said he is planning a “huge” celebration of Rieschick’s life sometime this summer, with the hope that the COVID vaccine distribution will have lessened the epidemic to the point where a large in-person gathering can be held.

“It’s going to be a MadonnaRama party and it will be held at Number 9,” said Klimas in referring to the D.C. gay bar on P Street, N.W. near Logan Circle. Klimas said Number 9 co-owner John Guggenmos, a friend of his and Rieschick’s, has agreed to stage the MadonnaRama event like the ones Guggenmos has put on at his clubs in the past. Among other things, it includes playing audio and video recordings of Madonna’s performances, Klimas said.

“I’m going to have it catered and have a free bar and hire people to sing,” Klimas said. “It’s going to be a huge party for everybody in honor of Kurt.” 

Klimas and Costell, who said her family will participate in the memorial celebration, said they will announce the date and location for the event as soon as they determine it can be arranged.

Rieschick is survived by his husband, David Klimas; his mother, Carol Stvan; his sister, Jacqueline Costell; his niece and nephew, Carlin and Jackson; his father-in-law, James Klimas Sr.; his brother-in-law, Jimmy; and many friends in the D.C. area. He was preceded in death by his father, Kurt Walter Rieschick Sr.; and his mother-in-law, Gilda Klimas.

In lieu of flowers, which the funeral home will not accept due to COVID restrictions, Klimas and Costell are inviting friends and others who knew Rieschick to contribute in Rieschick’s name to the American Heart Association and Raising Malawi, a charitable organization founded by Madonna in 2006 to help orphan children and others facing severe poverty in the African nation of Malawi.

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Comings & Goings

Movahedi opens virtual law firm

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Babak Movahedi

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].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Congratulations to Babak Movahedi on the opening of his virtual law firm. “I started a virtual immigration law firm concentrating on family immigration and business immigration,” he said. “I have had the pleasure of representing a number of LGBTQ+ clients. I can apply for permanent residency of the spouse or other family members of a permanent resident, or U.S. citizen. I am licensed to represent clients in all 50 states.”

In 2018, Movahedi opened a boutique law firm with an international client base. It focused on real estate law, with an emphasis on condominium conversion. Prior to that he served as a Special Master/Magistrate in Miami Beach. In that position he ruled on a variety of matters relating to Miami Beach code, served as a fact finder, and issued rulings. He worked closely with the Chief Special Master. Many will know Movahedi from his work as owner/CEO of a chain of cocktail lounges in both D.C. and Miami. He owned MOVA in both places. 

Over the years, he has worked as a solo practitioner managing the law offices of Babak Movahedi PLLC in D.C. and was CEO of Dupont Title and Settlements. He was a partner in Austin & Movahedi in D.C. He served as chief of party in the United States Agency for International Development and was president, Properties International. He currently is a Visiting Professor, International Law and Business, ESERP School of Business and Social Sciences, Barcelona, Spain. 

Movahedi earned his bachelor’s degree in International Politics, State University of New York, Stony Brook, N.Y.; MBA in International Business, Georgetown University; and Juris Doctor, Georgetown University, and Master of Law in International & Comparative Law, Georgetown University.

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District of Columbia

Drag performers join Gays Against Guns to decry nationwide attacks

‘We’re tired and we’re angry and we’re scared’

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Gays Against Guns held a news conference and gathering at As You Are bar on Dec. 7. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

Three D.C.-area drag performers joined members of the New York City-based group Gays Against Guns at a news conference and gathering at As You Are bar on Dec. 7 to speak out against what they say has been an escalating and alarming number of threats against the LGBTQ community and against drag shows in particular across the country.

The Gays Against Guns members along with local supporters came to D.C. to attend the 10th Annual National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence, which took placed that evening at nearby St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. President Joe Biden attended and spoke at the vigil.

Among those present at the press conference and who attended the vigil were Gays Against Guns members wearing white robes and hoods and carrying photos of people who died from gun violence, including victims of the Pulse LGBTQ nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Fla. in 2016.

Fresh on their minds, they said, was the shooting at the Club Q LGBTQ bar on Nov. 19 that took the lives of five people and injured at least another 17 before the lone gunman was wrestled to the floor by one of the customers and held until police arrived.

“We will represent members of the LGBTQI+ community with these human beings,” said Gays Against Guns organizer Ti Cersely at the press conference, referring to the group members wearing white robes and hoods “They are silent protesters donned in white, holding space for a person that has been killed by gun violence,” he said. “And we’re here to ensure the nation sees these lives and honors and respects them as we do.”

Another speaker at the news conference was D.C.-based drag performer Vagenesis.

“I perform all over the country. And it’s been a privilege to be able to be an artist on this platform as I have been over the past five years,” Vagenesis said, acknowledging two other drag performers standing behind them.

“And we’re tired and we’re angry and we’re scared,” Vagenesis told the gathering. “And I have to be scared walking out of my apartment building. I had to put on a hoodie and sweatpants to get to this event because I was afraid someone would hurt me or bash me for looking like me.”

Added Vagenesis, “As a queer person, as a Black person, as a drag artist, my body has a big target on it. And I can’t feel safe walking anywhere when all I want to do is bring happiness to people.”

The other two drag performers appearing at the press conference and gathering identify as Citrine and Rico Pico, who won the 2021 title of Best Drag King in the Washington Blade’s Best of LGBTQ contest.

“I’m very tired of our community just continuing to be sad in mourning,” Pico Rico told the Blade. “It’s not just our effort but a collective effort from our allies as well,” he said. “Everyone needs to be on the same page to fight what led people to get killed.”

Jay Walker, one of the founding members of Gays Against Guns, said the attacks on drag shows appear to be orchestrated by the same far-right groups and individuals that have long targeted LGBTQ people.

“And there has been, if my estimates are not mistaken, at least 300 separate verbal, physical, intimidation attacks on drag performances, and drag story-telling over the course of the last year,” Walker said.

“Our LGBTQIA2s+ communities are under siege,” he said. “And our federal government and our law enforcement have been ignoring us,” he told the gathering, adding that the sometimes inaction by law enforcement officials “emboldens” groups such as the Proud Boys, Patriot Hunters, and Three Percenters that have been harassing drag shows.  

Walker expressed concern that people not directly impacted by the attacks against drag shows or shootings like those at Pulse nightclub or Club Q in Colorado Springs appear to have the mistaken impression that these anti-LGBTQ attacks won’t put them in danger.

“They need to know that these weak-minded angry small men who commit these atrocities across our country are only going to expand their attacks, believe me,” he said. “It is not going to remain with sexual minorities or performers who wear makeup. It is always going to end up attacking the general public,” he said. “and our law enforcement and our government know that.”

Walker was among those who joined the Gays Against Guns contingent, including the members in white robes, who walked from the As You Are to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to attend the National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence, which began at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7.

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District of Columbia

DC Center, Capital Pride sign joint lease for new offices

LGBTQ groups to operate in historic Shaw neighborhood building

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The Adora is located at 1827 Wiltberger St., N.W. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The DC Center for the LGBT Community and the Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Wednesday that they have signed a joint lease to move their operations into a renovated warehouse building in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

In a Dec. 7 statement, the two organizations said the lease is for a 6,671-square-foot space on the entire first floor of a five-story building at 1827 Wiltberger St., N.W. called The Adora. The building is located steps away from the Howard Theatre and a little over a block from the Shaw-Howard University Metro station.

The new space is more than double the 2,400-square-foot offices the D.C. Center and Capital Pride currently occupy in the city’s Reeves Center municipal building at 2000 14th St., N.W. The Reeves building is slated to be demolished as part of a new development project that will require all its tenants, including the D.C. Center, to move.

The sprawling building, which takes up about half of the narrow, one-block long Wiltberger Street, was built in 1891 as the home of the Holzbeierlein Bakery, according to the online publication Commercial Observer. 

Online real estate listings show it was redeveloped about two years ago with an extension and now includes commercial condominium space on the second and third floors and nine luxury residential condominium units on the fourth and fifth floors.

The statement released by the D.C. Center and Capital Pride Alliance says the first-floor space in the building that the two groups leased currently is un-renovated warehouse space. The statement says the space is being designed for a build out renovation by an architectural firm “with the D.C. Center’s specific needs in mind.” It will include 10 offices and multiple workstations, the statement says.

According to the statement, the renovation is being funded in part by a $1 million grant approved by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser through the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

Rehana Mohammed, who serves as vice chair of the D.C. Center’s Board of Directors, told the Washington Blade the renovation work was scheduled to be completed by mid-2023. She said D.C. Center officials were hopeful that the Center and Capital Pride would be able to move into the new space in June or early July.

The statement says the new, larger space will enable the D.C. Center to expand its services to include “dedicated therapy rooms, a larger food pantry for the community food distribution program, and dedicated wellness spaces for meditation, yoga, and counseling.”

It says there will also be an expanded state-of-the-art cyber lounge, a larger Community Closet program, which provides free apparel, and that will incorporate a designated dressing area, and individual lockers providing temporary storage for “unhoused/displaced community members.”

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the D.C. Center to more fully expand our support offerings and provide vital and integral wraparound care to and for our LGBTQIA2s+ siblings,” D.C. Center Executive Director Kimberley Bush said in the statement.

“When community members come to this new space, they’ll see a broader range of support being offered and an enhanced experience for increasing their health, wellness, and personal security,” Bush said.

“We are very excited to support this opportunity and come together in a new space with fellow nonprofits,” said Ryan Bos, the Capital Pride Alliance executive director. “Collectively and collaboratively, we will better serve the LGBTQ+ community and combine resources to provide a much-needed safe space to gather,” Bos said in the statement.

The statement by the two groups says the new larger space will also allow the D.C. Center to sublease office and desk space to other LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations. As of this week, the Wanda Alston Foundation, Rainbow Families and G3 Associates, an organization operated by local gay activist George Kerr, have confirmed arrangements to sublease space in the new building, the statement says.

“We are proud to reaffirm our support for D.C.’s LGBTQ+ community,” said Mayor Bowser in a statement referring to her office’s awarding a $1 million grant to help fund the D.C. Center’s build out in the new space. “This investment is a reflection of our D.C. values,” the mayor said.

“We know that when we foster community, and when we support organizations that invest in the community, D.C. is stronger and our residents have more and better opportunities to reach their full potential and live happy, healthy lives,” the mayor said. 

‘This is an extraordinary opportunity for the D.C. Center to more fully expand our support offerings,’ said D.C. Center Executive Director Kimberley Bush. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
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