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10 LGBTQ events this week

Pride month kicks off with a flurry of activities

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Pride Month begins this week! (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key and Vanessa Pham)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in D.C. that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.

Black Pride Us Helping Us Picnic

Us Helping Us Black Pride Picnic at Fort Dupont Park. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Monday, May 30
12-7 p.m.
Fort Dupont Park
Minnesota Avenue, S.E.
Website

The annual Us Helping Us Picnic in the Park is Monday at Fort Dupont Park and is free and open to the public. Games, performances and more in this community gathering.

Dragapella!

The Kinsey Sicks (Photo via Facebook)

Wednesday, June 1
8 p.m.
Rams Head on Stage
31 West Street
Annapolis, Md.
Facebook | Tickets

The Kinsey Sicks, America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet, perform at Rams Head on Stage on Wednesday.

Kennedy Davenport at Pitchers

Wednesday, June 1
8 p.m.
Pitchers
2317 18th Street, N.W.
Facebook

RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Kennedy Davenport performs at Pitchers and A League of Her Own on Wednesday. There is a free meet and greet hosted by Ba’Naka and a drag show with Venus Valhalla and Cake.

Pride Pils Dance Party

(Image via Facebook)

Thursday, June 2
6-11 p.m.
Dacha Navy Yard
79 Potomac Avenue, S.E.
Facebook | Eventbrite

Join the Washington Blade and DC Brau for the release of this year’s Pride Pils at a Dance Party at Dacha on Thursday.

Capital Pride Honors

Friday, June 3
7-10:30 p.m.
Penn Social
1519 17th Street, N.W.
$25-$60
Facebook | Tickets

The Capital Pride Alliance honors members of the community in an annual reception on Friday.

Drag Underground

Drag Underground (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Friday, June 3
8-10 p.m.
Dupont Underground
19 Dupont Circle, N.W.
$15-$20
Facebook | Eventbrite

See a popular drag show alongside the Underground’s newest exhibit, The Gender Within: The Art of Identity.

Pride!

Annapolis Pride (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Saturday, June 4

10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Eastern Panhandle Pride
downtown
Martinsburg, W.Va.
Facebook

12-5 p.m.
Annapolis Pride
West Street & Calvert Street
Annapolis, Md.
Website | Facebook

12-6 p.m.
Reston Pride
Lake Anne Plaza
Reston, Va.
Website | Facebook

Three regional prides are taking place on Saturday: Annapolis Pride in Maryland, Eastern Panhandle Pride in West Virginia and Reston Pride in Virginia. If you live to the west, south or north of the District, you have a place to celebrate!

Queer Beer Festival

Saturday, June 4
The Wharf
760 Maine Avenue, S.W.
Facebook | Tickets

Hop Culture x New Belgium present Queer Beer, a craft beer festival celebrating the unique, vibrant voices of the queer community in the industry including queer owned and/or operated breweries or breweries that have demonstrated a dedication to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.

Two sessions available on Saturday:

VIP 11:00 AM – 3:30 PM
General Admission 12:00 PM – 3:30 PM

VIP 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM
General Admission 6:30 PM– 10:00 PM

Bent: Pride Month Kickoff

Saturday, June 4
10 p.m.
9:30 Club
815 V Street, N.W.b
$25
Facebook | Ticketmaster

See performances by Sweet Pickles, KC B. Yoncé and We The Kingz at a Pride Month Kickoff Party at the 9:30 Club on Saturday.

Pride: Womxn’s Kickoff Party

Saturday, June 4
7 p.m.
500 8th Street, S.E.
Facebook

Join DJ Rosie for a Pride Womxn’s Kickoff Party on Saturday. Free admission.

If you would like to let us know about an upcoming event, email [email protected] with details.

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Photos

Bunker celebrates one year

Popular nightclub holds ‘Battle of the DJs’ to mark milestone

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ nightclub Bunker held a “Battle of the DJs” party to celebrate its first anniversary on Saturday, Feb. 24.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Travel

Quito and the Galápagos on Celebrity Flora: blog #5

Darwin was right, it is an amazing place.

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Celebrity Flora

The last full day of our Galápagos cruise dawned bright, with clear skies. The weather would change during the day. After breakfast we boarded tenders and were told it would be a dry landing. That meant we didn’t have to get in the water to get off the tender. Instead, we got to a very nice dock on the Island of Santa Cruz, in the middle of a bustling town. We were informed by the naturalist with us the population of the Island was about 25,000. We then boarded a bus for the short ride to the Charles Darwin Station, Giant Tortoise Breeding Center. We were greeted by a life size seated statue of Darwin. It was really interesting and we got to see more giant tortoises, and baby ones as well. The Center was really close to town and they told us we had an hour to walk back to meet our bus for the next part of the day. I am sure the goal of the walk was to have us shop at the various stores along the way. Some were really nice, while some were typical tourist shops. While I rarely buy anything on my travels, as I have learned after many years, whatever I buy often ends up boxed up in a closet. But many did shop, and a couple of my traveling companions bought some really nice silver jewelry.

We had been told where to meet the group, which was back at the dock, for the second part of the day. We again got on busses, and headed to a tortoise preserve in the highlands. On the way we stopped for a Scalesia tree planting activity. It is a restoration project supported by Celebrity. We each got boots to put on, two baby trees, and a trowel. Then were led into the forest to plant our trees. On the way back to our bus, my group was stuck behind a giant tortoise, who was meandering along the same path we were taking. It was fun to watch him, until we could finally walk around him, and be on our way. 

Then back on the bus to the El Manzanillo Ranch and tortoise preserve. There are a lot of tortoises on Santa Cruz Island. At the ranch we had a great buffet lunch, and were treated to entertainment, a wonderful dance program by kids in a folk-dance group. They were fun to watch. The program for the day called for us to then take a walk through the preserve. But during lunch the rains began, and they came down in buckets. So many of us chose to pass on the walk, get back on the busses, and head to the dock in town. We had been told the tenders would be running regularly and that we had up to three hours to stay on the Island and shop. I don’t know anyone who did. It was still drizzling and we all decided to head back to the ship. We heard later from the final group that came back, those who chose to take the walk through the preserve, that they nearly got stuck on the farm. There was so much rain it was washing out roads, and they needed to bring out two by fours to get the bus, and the people, out of the mud. Thankfully they did finally get out of the mud, and back to the ship.

We had a nice relaxed evening on The Flora and were treated to a slide show of pictures, taken by the naturalists, of our group, which they shared with each of us the next morning. Sunday morning The Flora headed back to Baltra Island, and we headed to the airport. It was time to say goodbye to the wonderful crew of The Flora. Of course, Captain Patricio who I have written about. But then the ship wouldn’t be the same without John Flynn, Hotel Director. From the moment we stepped on board, John was everywhere on the ship. He was always smiling and ready to answer any question someone had. He clearly kept things running superbly. He is an amazing guy. Then Boris Peralta, a Maître D. He is a really nice guy and it was incredible how many of our names he remembered, always greeting me by name. He was smiling at 6:00 am when I went for coffee, and again at the door to the dining room for dinner. Then there was Guillermo, one of the dining room staff. He was charming and also was always smiling. Always ready to bring a coffee, or anything else you needed. As I mentioned in a previous blog, there were nine naturalists on the Flora. They were all great. One who stood out to me, and answered any question I would throw at him, was Sebastian.  Clearly the competence and professionalism of the crew on The Flora, made all the difference to our great week on the ship.  

At the airport we all checked in to our chartered flight back to Quito. But there, some of the group, were heading to Peru, and on to Machu Picchu, while many of us would spend another day, or two, in Quito, before heading home. Those of us in Quito had dinner in the hotel, courtesy of Celebrity, and then on Monday, a group of us headed to the botanical gardens. It was a really nice relaxed day. But for me it was an early night, as a group of us were going to meet in the lobby of the hotel at 3:00 am to head to the airport for our 6:00 am flight to Miami, and connection to DC. That will be a separate column as I got bumped from 1st class on the Miami to DC flight, and am still debating the issue with American Airlines. So far, I have spoken to four people and got four different reasons for being bumped. Not a great look for American. But that small issue, couldn’t stop me from thinking, all-in-all, it was an amazing eleven days in Quito and the Galápagos. I got to spend time with good friends, and meet some wonderful new ones.  I would recommend a trip to the Galápagos to anyone. Darwin was right, it is an amazing place.

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Sports

Gay figure skater Colin Grafton shares his story and his dream

Boston native is contestant on British television’s ‘Dancing On Ice’

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Colin Grafton (Photo courtesy of Grafton's Instagram page)

For a second year, Boston native and professional figure skater Colin Grafton is carving up the ice on British television’s “Dancing On Ice,” and now he’s doing it as his authentic self. 

“I told my closest friends. I told the people around me and I eventually told my parents,” Grafton, 32, recalled in an interview with PinkNews, in which he discussed coming out as gay. “I was maybe 24 when all that happened. I know there’s a lot of curiosity about my sexual orientation and my love life, but I never actually came out to the public,” said ITV personality. 

“I guess this is me announcing it to you guys.”

Grafton, who has been skating since he was 7, reflected on how watching Tara Lipinski win an Olympic gold medal at the 1998 Winter Games inspired him to pursue this career. But being a male figure skater was “really tough” in the 1990s and 2000s, he told PinkNewsUK.

“I remember feeling so nervous at various points in my childhood,” said Grafton. ”I’d be skating and the hockey players would come and bang on the side of the rink and shout words. That was something all male skaters had to deal with back then. It wasn’t easy but all of it made me stronger because I took it and focused everything on my sport.”

Grafton’s focus catapulted him to competing for Team USA, winning a bronze medal at the Junior U.S. championships in 2012, with his former partner Kylie Duarte. The memory of those who taunted him only fueled him to work harder. 

“When somebody tells you, you can’t do something, or somebody makes fun of you, just prove them wrong.”

Grafton ended his competitive career in 2013 and transitioned to professional skating, leading several European tours, and even becoming a coach. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel very fortunate about the fact that I’ve been able to kind of dabble in so many different areas in the professional world, but tour life is quite hard, all the travel and being away for so long,” he said. “So, when ‘Dancing on Ice’ came up, I jumped on it.” That was in 2023. 

The program is broadcast Sunday nights on ITV’s Channel 3 from studios in Bovingdon, a village in Hertfordshire about an hour northwest of London. During that first season, Grafton made history being paired with “RuPaul Drag Race” star The Vivienne, the first drag performer on the show and the first time “Dancing On Ice” featured a same-sex team. They made it all the way to the finals, finishing in third place.

“Being a part of that representation, being a part of that team, it was just wonderful,” he said. “The support we got from everyone was just fantastic. If I’m honest, I didn’t really understand the impact that it would make in the end.”

And at the conclusion of last season, Grafton finally found time to read the many messages of encouragement from fans, as well as from viewers who wrote, “Seeing us helped them and gave them the courage to either come out or be themselves,” he said. “It was truly something.”

And now, as a regular on the show’s 16th season, Grafton has decided he wants everyone to know who he really is, and in doing so, show others they are not alone. 

“If I’m honest, I never really felt the need to announce it before, but the reason I am saying this now, is because I want to show that there is representation in any way I can”, the TV personality explains.

Along the way to self-acceptance, Grafton revealed he had a lot of “small steps and small triumphs” leading him to finally feel comfortable being himself in the public eye. “It was on my own terms,” he said, and feels “blessed” to have found support among friends. 

“It’s been a long journey but now I am proud of myself and I’m proud of my sexual orientation and I want to let other people know that they should be proud of every part of themselves too,” said Grafton, acknowledging he had concerns about coming out publicly. “I was really nervous of doing that to myself. It was like, ‘OK, if I come out as gay then people are going to think I’m this or that,’ when in reality the human sexuality spectrum is so vast and it’s just one small part of the person you are.”

But appearing in primetime on such a popular TV show means that Grafton is the target of speculation about his personal life. He admits to having “lived and breathed skating” until finally getting in a relationship at age 24, around the same time he decided to come out to friends and family.

While that lasted two and a half years, Grafton’s frequent travel commitments and work on the ice left him no other chance for love. “I just didn’t really have an opportunity,” he said. “You might meet someone while you’re on a contract for six months and after that, you’re both off in different directions, so, I wasn’t really able to hold down a relationship because of that.”

But now that London is his home, Grafton told PinkNewsUK he feels ready to settle down. His perfect match? Someone local and appreciative of his business obligations. 

“We live really crazy fast-paced lives as skaters,” he said. “Personally, I want to meet someone who is also fast-paced and able to keep up with that, but they don’t have to be a fellow skater. I just want someone who supports me and I can support them, too.”

“At the end of the day, we’re all just humans doing our thing on this planet and trying to find love.”

Until he does, Grafton said he is excited to keep skating on television.

“I absolutely love ‘Dancing on Ice.’ Every season that I’m asked to do it, I feel like I’m blessed and I feel very lucky to be able to keep doing the show. I would love to continue doing it while I can or while my body allows me to as well,” he said. And when it doesn’t? Grafton imagines he might try his hand at acting. 

“I think that’s what life is all about,” he said. “Learning new things and pushing yourself to do other things.”

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