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‘Lesbian Bar Project’ film shown at Library of Congress

Sen. Baldwin, Rep. Davids join LGBTQ activists for viewing



Left to right: Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), filmmakers Erica Rose and Elina Street, and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), both of whom are out lesbians, joined about 100 LGBTQ activists and supporters at the Library of Congress’s main auditorium on Thursday night, Oct. 28, for the premiere showing in the nation’s capital of the film “Lesbian Bar Project.”

The film is named after a project founded last year by New York-based lesbian filmmakers Erica Rose and Elina Street who are listed as the film’s directors. The two women told the Washington Blade earlier this year that they started the Lesbian Bar Project to help the nation’s 21 remaining lesbian bars that were struggling to survive during the COVID pandemic.

The project has raised more than $250,000 since its founding, which it has provided in the form of grants to lesbian bars in financial need during the pandemic. Among the bars receiving support from the project was D.C.’s only remaining lesbian bar, A League of Her Own, in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood.

“In the late 1980s, there were an estimated 200 lesbian bars across the country,” a statement posted on the Lesbian Bar Project website says. “These bars are disappearing at a staggering rate, and we cannot afford to lose more of these vital establishments to the fallout of COVID-19,” the statement says.

Street and Rose said they arranged for the production of the 20-minute documentary film, Lesbian Bar Project, with financial support from the Jagermeister liquor company’s Save the Night campaign, which the company launched to provide financial support for nightlife businesses such as bars and restaurants during the pandemic. A Jagermeister spokesperson said the company has also provided financial support for the Lesbian Bar Project’s website in an effort to promote the project’s awareness of the role lesbian bars play in the greater LGBTQ community.

In remarks before the film was shown at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium, Baldwin and Davids praised the work of the Lesbian Bar Project, calling the nation’s 21 remaining lesbian bars across the country safe spaces for lesbians to meet and socialize.

“While so much has changed for the LGBTQ community, Sharice Davids and I stand here before you as elected members of the House and Senate. We’re proof of that,” Baldwin told the audience. “But we also know that for too many people in too many places we still have a long, long way to go,” she said. “We still need places to feel safe that are supportive and a part of the community, places where we can be unequivocally and unreservedly ourselves.”

Baldwin became the nation’s first out lesbian member of the U.S. House of Representatives following her election to the House in 1998. She became the nation’s first out LGBTQ U.S. senator following her election to the Senate in 2012.

Davids became the nation’s first out LGBTQ Native American member of Congress in 2018, when she won election to her House seat.

Following the showing of the film, Rose, Street and owners or representatives of four of the lesbian bars that were portrayed in the film, including Ally Spaulding, general manager of D.C.’s A League of Her Own, appeared for a panel discussion on the stage in front of the screen where the film was shown.

Also appearing on the panel were D.C. lesbian activists Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike, who appear in the film, and who talked about their plans to open an LGBTQ welcoming bar in D.C. called As You Are.

Other speakers included Lisa Meninchino, owner of the New York City lesbian bar Cubbyhole; Lisa Cannistraci, owner of the lesbian bar Henrietta Hudson, also located in New York City; and Rachel and Sheila Smallman, co-owners of the Mobile, Ala. lesbian bar Herz.

The event was sponsored by the LGBT Congressional Staff Association; Library of Congress GLOBE, which represents LGBTQ staff members at the Library of Congress; and the U.S. House Equality Caucus, which is co-chaired by the nine out LGBTQ House members.  

Laura Munoz Lopez, an official with the House Democratic Caucus and the LGBT Congressional Staff Association, was the lead organizer of the event and served as moderator for the panel discussion.

Prior to the showing of the film, officials at the Library of Congress set up an exhibit for attendees to view that included some the library’s collections of lesbian-related artifacts, including lesbian publications going back to the early 1960s.



Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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District of Columbia

Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses

‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’



Pepco and Exelon held a press conference Friday to announce four recipients of $2.7 million in investments. (Photo courtesy Exelon)

Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.

“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.

Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.

At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.

“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”

The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.

“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.

Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.

“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”

For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.

Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.

“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.

Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.

Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.

New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.

(Photo courtesy Exelon)
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Comings & Goings

Armstrong recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award



Lynden C. Armstrong

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 Lynden C. Armstrong on his Lifetime Achievement award from the Congressional Management Foundation in recognition of his exemplary public service in Congress. 

Upon receiving the award Armstrong said, “This recognition is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of colleagues and mentors who have been with me on this journey. I’ve dedicated my entire career to public service within the Senate, where recognition isn’t the primary motivation for our work, making this recognition even more humbling.” He is currently Deputy Assistant Senate Sergeant at Arms and Chief Information Officer.  

Armstrong started his career with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), where he rose to Deputy Chief of Staff in his more than 13-year stint. In 2004, during his tenure with Domenici, amid a debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Armstrong became a co-founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff (GLASS) Caucus. In 2014, he moved to the Sergeant at Arms CIO organization, where he established a new department within the CIO that was crafted to engage Senate offices in comprehending and harnessing technologies provided by the SAA. 

Lynden has previously served as Chief Clerk on the U.S. Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, and with the U.S. Senate, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, as Deputy Inaugural Coordinator, 2012–2013.  In that role among other responsibilities, he served as civilian liaison to the National Special Security Event Executive Steering Committee and subcommittees, including the Capitol, USCP, Crowd Management, Public Relations, Transportation, and credentialing, and as liaison to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region. 

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