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High tech sales engineer Steve Collins dies at 66

A longtime LGBTQ marching band member



Steven Lee Collins, gay news, Washington Blade

Steven Lee Collins, a technical sales engineer for high tech companies in the Northern Virginia area and an active member and supporter of the local LGBTQ marching band DC Different Drummers for 30 years, died March 23 at Virginia Hospital Center from complications associated with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, according to his husband Mike Merena. He was 66.

Merena said Collins, who had a master’s degree in engineering administration, worked in a discipline known as microscopy, which, among other things, is used to manufacture high tech scientific laboratory and engineering tools and machinery.

Collins most recently worked as a technical sales engineer since 2012 at the Northern Virginia office of ULTRA TEC Manufacturing, Inc., a firm that manufactures and sells precision equipment and other products to high tech companies in the U.S. and abroad.

Merena said that in addition to his many years of work in the high-tech industry Collins enjoyed performing as a percussionist with the D.C. Different Drummers, the local LGBTQ organization that includes several types of bands, including symphonic and jazz as well as its most well-known Marching Band.

“He was a percussionist and participated in D.C. Different Drummers productions of all types,” Merena said. “From marching in the Pride parades in D.C., Baltimore, New York City, and other cities in the Mid Atlantic to the symphonic concerts held here in D.C., the jazz combo and band, Steve was always happy to be involved and did a lot to help younger members participate in these activities as well,” Merena said.

Merena said Collins was especially honored to have performed with D.C. Different Drummers when it was included in both of President Barack Obama’s inaugural parades, which marched along Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.

According to Merena, Collins was born and raised in Elkhart, Ind. He graduated from Concord High School in Elkhart in 1972 and attended Indiana’s Ball State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in communications in 1976. He received his master’s degree in engineering administration at George Washington University in D.C. in 1985, according to his LinkedIn page.

That same year he participated in a Fairfax County continuing education program in the study of the Japanese language for business, his LinkedIn page says.

Prior to joining the ULTRA TEC firm Collins worked from 1997 to 2012 as a technical sales engineer for the South Bay Technology firm in Arlington, Va. And prior to that, his LinkedIn page says, he served as president and sales manager of the tech firm Plasma Sciences, Inc. from 1989 to 1997. Merena said Collins and his partners in the company sold it to another company in 1997.

“Steve was a very kind, loving, and caring person,” Merena said. “He was a wonderful husband, father, and brother.”
Merena said Collins loved to entertain. He said his husband helped organize parties at the couple’s house for the D.C. Different Drummers’ awards ceremony as well as events for other organizations, including the local Brother Help Thyself LGBTQ charity group and the semi-annual banquet for the bowling league the two were members of.

Collins is survived by his husband Mike Merena, his daughter Nichole Collins, his son Matthew Erin Collins, his sisters Linda Miller and Tracy Eash, and numerous nieces and nephews, friends and loved ones, Merena said.

A celebration of life for Collins, who was cremated, will be held at a time and place yet to be decided, Merena said.
Donations in Collins’ name can be made to D.C. Different Drummers at

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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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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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