Three unrelated violent incidents that surfaced in different locations on Saturday evening, June 12, in the path of D.C.’s Pridemobile Parade have created a stir on social media following an otherwise peaceful series of events celebrating Capital Pride.
According to D.C. police, the first incident took place about 3 p.m. Saturday, minutes after the Pridemobile Parade drove past Shaw’s Tavern at 520 Florida Ave., N.W., which has a large LGBTQ clientele. A police report says a male customer of the tavern reported being harassed by a young man who called him a “faggot” as he walked toward Shaw’s Tavern.
Shortly after the victim entered the tavern and was seated in an outdoor area, the same young man, later identified by police as a 13-year-old juvenile, approached him and threatened him with a machete by pointing it at the victim and stating, “I’ll silence you,” the police report says. The report says that while making the threats the suspect appeared to be using the two-foot-long machete to stab cicadas on the ground and tossed them onto the victim as the victim was sitting at one of the tavern’s outdoor tables.
One day later, on Sunday, June 13, after having released photos of the suspect obtained from a surveillance camera at Shaw’s Tavern, police announced they arrested the suspect on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon and listed the incident as a suspected anti-gay hate crime. The victim was uninjured, police said. The suspect’s name was being withheld because he is a juvenile.
The second incident occurred about three blocks away at Nellie’s Sports Bar, a gay bar at 900 U St., N.W., several hours later when a violent brawl captured on video broke out after a Nellie’s security staff person was seen pulling a female customer by her hair down a flight of stairs inside the bar.
The video, which was taken by another customer and posted on Instagram, shows other male and female customers attacking the employee who was dragging the female customer down the stairs. The woman, who later identified herself as Keisha Young, told Channel 7 News the Nellie’s security staffer mistakenly thought she was among a group of other customers that created a disturbance at the bar.
Her mother, Tammy Young, told Channel 7 News her daughter created a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay for medical bills related to injuries she suffered while being dragged down the stairs, and to hire a lawyer.
Young states on the GoFundMe page that she lost her glasses, iPhone, and shoes during the altercation and her clothes were torn.
“My body aches and I am bruised up,” she stated.
The posting of the video on social media prompted D.C. members of Black Lives Matter to stage a protest outside Nellie’s on Sunday night, demanding that action be taken against the bar. Nellie’s, meanwhile, released a statement on Sunday saying it was investigating the incident.
“We were incredibly upset and disturbed to see the unfortunate event that took place at Nellie’s last night,” the statement says. “We are undergoing a full investigation of the situation,” it says. “At Nellie’s we foster an inclusive and safe environment, so events like this are completely unacceptable to us.”
Channel 7 News reported the protesters also walked to the nearby home of Nellie’s owner Douglas Schantz to continue protesting there. The Washington Blade couldn’t immediately reach Schantz for comment.
The third incident took place about 3:15 a.m. Sunday morning at the intersection of 14th and P Streets, N.W., where two gay bars are located. According to D.C. police, an intoxicated driver crashed his car into a bus stop at that location and struck and killed a pedestrian. Police said the pedestrian, who was identified only as a male, was taken to a hospital with critical injuries and pronounced dead a short time later.
Police said the driver, identified as Gerald Lewis, 29, of Northeast D.C., was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, driving while intoxicated, and reckless driving.
The identity of the victim was being withheld pending notification of next of kin, police said. The incident occurred minutes after the 3 a.m. closing of the nearby gay bars.
Mark Lee, coordinator of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a trade association that represents bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, said the three incidents and a reported fourth incident of a shooting Sunday night on U Street near Nellie’s, were an exception to an otherwise peaceful weekend in which business was booming at the city’s nightlife establishments.
“Despite long lines at many (gay and non-gay) venues last night, and huge turnouts at nightclubs across the city, it was overall a very calm night everywhere,” Lee told the Blade in a text message. “These couple of incidents would have been non-extraordinary in normal times, except for some people being more attentive to things during re-opening.”
Lee was referring to the full, post-COVID lifting of all restrictions for nightlife businesses that took place on June 11.
17th Street High Heel Race draws large crowd
D.C. Mayor, three Council members, police chief mingle with drag queens
Close to 1,000 spectators turned out Tuesday night to watch D.C.’s 34th Annual 17th Street High Heel Race in which several dozen men dressed in drag and wearing colorful high heel shoes raced along a three-block stretch of 17th Street near Dupont Circle.
As she has in past years, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, whose office organizes the annual event, gave the official signal for the runners to start the race from a stage at the intersection of 17th and R streets, N.W.
Joining the mayor on the stage was Japer Bowles, who Bowser recently named as director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which plays the lead role in organizing the High Heel Race.
Also appearing on stage after being introduced by Bowser were D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and Council members Robert White (D-At-Large) and Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2).
Bowser, who along with the three Council members delivered brief remarks before the start of the race, said the event highlights the city’s diversity and resilience coming after over a year of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What we want the world to know – that even in a pandemic, even when we had to trim the budget, we stayed focused on how we can make life better for our LGBTQ community,” Bowser told the crowd. “And we’re going to keep on doing it,” she said. “We’re investing in making sure everybody in our community is accepted and safe.”
D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who walked along the three-block section of 17th Street before the race began, was greeted warmly by bystanders, some of whom called out his name to welcome him to what has become the city’s largest Halloween celebration.
“This is a great event,” Contee told the Washington Blade. “I enjoy coming out to be among D.C. residents and all who find our D.C. culture,” he said. “It’s just a great evening, so we’re happy to be out here supporting our community.”
Members of the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit were among the police contingent on duty at the event and overseeing the closing of the streets surrounding 17th Street.
Like past years, many of the race participants and dozens of others dressed in Halloween costumes paraded up and down 17th Street beginning at 6:30 p.m., more than two hours before the start of the race, which was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.
However, the mayor this year gave the signal to start the race at about 8:35 p.m. Although a large number of drag runners participated in the race, some who planned to join the race didn’t make it to the starting line in time because they expected the race to begin at 9 p.m. as advertised, according to people in the crowd who knew those who missed the race.
To ensure that everyone had an opportunity to participate, Bowles and others from the mayor’s office agreed to hold a second race about a half hour after the first one. The number of participants in the second race appeared to be about the same as those who joined the first race, indicating many of the drag participants ran twice.
“This is a special treat,” said one bystander. “We got to see two races instead of one.”
The High Heel Race was cancelled last year due to restrictions related to the COVID pandemic. Many in the crowd watching the race on Tuesday night said they were delighted the city decided to go ahead with the event this year at a time when other large events continue to be canceled or postponed.
Also similar to past years when the High Heel Race took place, the restaurants and bars that line 17th Street were filled on Tuesday night, including the gay bars JR.’s and Windows as well as the longtime LGBTQ-friendly Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse.
Prior to the mayor’s arrival, gay local radio and TV personality Jimmy Alexander of DCW 50 TV served as host to a drag show and costume contest on the stage. DCW 50 also set up and hosted a separate stage on the sidewalk next to JR.’s bar in which race participants and others dressed in costumes were invited to have their pictures taken and provided with copies of the photos of themselves.
“I think it’s amazing,” Bowser told the Blade after the completion of the first race. “It’s good to be back. It was tough missing a year of activities,” she said referring to the business shutdowns brought about by the pandemic. “We had a lot of great, beautiful racers. And so, I’m really excited about it.”
To see more photos from this event, click here.
Gay attorney’s plans to run for Del. Senate foiled by redistricting
Activists say move will ‘dilute’ LGBTQ vote
Plans by Delaware gay attorney and Democratic Party activist Mitch Crane to run for a seat in the Delaware State Senate in a district that included areas surrounding the town of Lewes, where Crane lives, and Rehoboth Beach ended abruptly this week when state officials approved a redistricting plan that removes Crane’s residence from the district.
The seat for which Crane planned to run is in Delaware’s 6th Senate District which, in addition to Lewes and Rehoboth, includes the towns of Dewey Beach, Harbeson, Milton, and surrounding areas, according to the state Senate’s website.
The seat is currently held by Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez, a moderate Republican who became the first Hispanic American elected to the Delaware Senate in 2012. Lopez announced in July that he would not seek re-election in 2022.
The redistricting plan, which was approved by leaders of the Democratic-controlled Delaware General Assembly, places the section of the Lewes postal district where Crane lives into the 19th Senate District. Crane said that district is in a heavily Republican and conservative part of the state dominated by supporters of President Donald Trump who remain Trump supporters.
Under Delaware law, changes in the district lines of state Senate and House districts, which takes place every 10 years following the U.S. Census count, are decided by the Delaware General Assembly, which is the state legislative body.
Crane told the Washington Blade that neither he nor any other Democrat would have a realistic chance of winning the State Senate seat next year in the 19th District.
“Jesus could not win in that district if he was a Democrat,” said Crane.
Crane said a Democratic candidate could win next year in the reconfigured 6th Senate District now that incumbent Lopez will not be seeking re-election.
The Cape Gazette, the Delaware newspaper, reported in an Oct. 22 story that Crane was one of at least two witnesses that testified at a two-day virtual hearing held Oct. 18-19 by a State Senate committee, that the proposed redistricting would dilute the LGBTQ vote in the 6th District and the draft proposal should be changed.
“The proposed lines remove a significant percentage of the LGBTQ residents from the current 6th District where most of such residents of southern Delaware live and place them in the 19th District which has a smaller such population,” the Cape Gazette quoted Crane telling the committee. “By doing so, it dilutes the impact of the gay community which shares political beliefs,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.
“The proposed lines dilute the voting power of the LGBTQ community in addition to others who respect diversity,” the Cape Gazette quoted 6th District resident Sandy Spence as telling the committee.
In an Oct. 10 email sent to potential supporters before the redistricting plan was approved, Crane said he believes he has the experience and record that make him a strong candidate for the state Senate seat. He is a former chair of the Sussex County Democratic Party, where Rehoboth and Lewes are located; and he currently serves as an adjunct professor at Delaware State University’s graduate school, where he teaches American Governance and Administration.
He is a past president of the Delaware Stonewall PAC, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, and he’s the state’s former Deputy Insurance Commissioner.
“I intend to focus on smart growth in Sussex County; work on the problems of homelessness and the need for affordable housing; and assuring that this district receives its fair portion of tax dollars,” he said in his Oct. 10 email message announcing his candidacy.
Crane said he posted a Facebook message on Oct. 26 informing supporters that the redrawn district lines removed him from the district, and he is no longer a candidate.
MSNBC’s Capehart to host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch Nov. 6
Ashland Johnson to serve as keynote speaker
Pulitzer Prizing-winning gay journalist Jonathan Capehart, the anchor of MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart,” will serve as host for the 24th Annual SMYAL Fall Brunch scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6, at D.C.’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.
The annual Fall Brunch serves as one of the largest fundraising events for SMYAL, which advocates and provides services for LGBTQ youth in the D.C. metropolitan area.
“Each year, a community of advocates, changemakers, and supporters comes together at the Fall Brunch to raise much-needed funds to support and expand critical programs and services for queer and trans youth in the DMV area,” a statement released by the organization says.
The statement says attorney and former Division I women’s collegiate basketball athlete Ashland Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the SMYAL Fall Brunch. Johnson founded the sports project called The Inclusion Playbook, which advocates for racial justice and LGBTQ inclusion in sports.
Other speakers include Zahra Wardrick, a SMYAL program participant and youth poet; and Leandra Nichola, a parent of attendees of Little SMYALs, a program that SMYAL says provides support for “the youngest members of the LGBTQ community” at ages 6-12. The SMYAL statement says Nichola is the owner and general manager of the Takoma Park, Md., based café, bar, retail, and bubble tea shop called Main Street Pearl.
According to the statement, the SMYAL Fall Brunch, including a planned silent auction, will be live streamed through SMYAL’s Facebook page for participants who may not be able to attend in person. For those attending the event in person, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required, and masks will also be required for all attendees when not actively eating or drinking, the statement says.
The statement says that for attendees and supporters, the Fall Brunch is “a community celebration of how your support has not only made it possible for SMYAL to continue to serve LGBTQ youth through these challenging times, it’s allowed our programs to grow and deepen.”
Adds the statement, “From affirming mental health support and housing to fostering community spaces and youth leadership training, we will continue to be there for queer and trans youth together.”
Have to pee? Check out new John Waters Restrooms
Sharon Gless on new memoir and connection to LGBTQ community
Congress must act, Democrats in Virginia must vote
Activists demand ICE release transgender, HIV-positive detainees
PHOTOS: High Heel Race
Ohio high school cancels play with Gay character after Pastor complains
State Department to issue passports with ‘X’ gender marker
What do the gays do about Facebook?
First Trans Amazon introduced by DC Comics In ‘Wonder Woman’
New music documentary is ‘Velvet’ perfection
Sign Up for Blade eBlasts
a&e features7 days ago
20th annual Best of LGBTQ D.C.
Local6 days ago
Youngkin reiterates opposition to marriage equality
World6 days ago
Putin describes transgender rights as ‘crime against humanity’
Opinions7 days ago
McAuliffe YES, Trump NO, for governor of Va.
National3 days ago
Ohio high school cancels play with Gay character after Pastor complains
Movies7 days ago
‘I Am Samuel’: A family portrait too real for Kenya?
Local6 days ago
D.C. state board calls for LGBTQ-inclusive teaching standards
Politics1 day ago
State Department to issue passports with ‘X’ gender marker