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Let’s hope March 30, 2023 is the beginning of Trump’s downfall

Ex-president deserves everything the law can throw at him



Former President Donald Trump (Photo by shganti777/Bigstock)

Donald Trump will have the distinction of going down in history as the first former president to be indicted. As I write this, the actual charges have not been disclosed, but it is rumored there will be more than two dozen counts.

In recent history, Richard Nixon resigned before charges were brought against him, and then Gerald Ford pardoned him. Bill Clinton testified for four hours in front of a grand jury and Kenneth Starr’s report led to his impeachment. But he was never charged or indicted. He did cut a deal on his last day in office agreeing to a fine and having his law license in Arkansas suspended for five years, in return for not seeing any charges or indictment after he left office in the Monica Lewinsky case. 

The Trump case is on a level of its own because Trump’s crimes are on a level not seen before. For 50 years he has been a criminal and skirted the law, like a mafia don, from the time he and his father signed a consent decree based on their racist practices in renting apartments, up through his acts as president and beyond. Those include trying to coerce officials in Georgia to steal the election, and instigating and planning the Jan. 6 riots. After leaving office he apparently intentionally took top-secret documents to Mar-a-Lago and refused to return them even when requested and subpoenaed by the National Archives and the Justice Department. Those acts are currently being investigated by grand juries at the state and federal level.

We know Trump is a racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynistic, pig. Unfortunately, those things on their own aren’t criminal. It is only when acted upon they can be. Over the years Trump has acted on many of them and until now gotten away with it. With the March 30 indictment by a grand jury in New York, and his upcoming rape trial, he is finally beginning to be called to account for his criminal actions. 

What is clear is Trump wants to be president again to avoid prosecution. He announced his reelection plans hoping as a candidate, he would be safe from prosecution. Yet each day his lawyers are losing case after case trying to keep those close to him from having to testify to various grand juries, figures like Mike Pence and Mark Meadows who know enough to bring him down. 

The former Republican Party, now the Party of Trump, is coming to his defense. We have heard the Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy attack the legal system in support of Trump. Raw Story reported, “McCarthy in a statement he posted on Twitter alleged that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our presidential election.” McCarthy promised to hold Bragg “and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”

We hear one after another Republican office holder do the same, all clearly fearful of the 30% of the Republican Party who follow Trump blindly, like a cult leader. Those Trumpers put party office holders’ elections in jeopardy. We have seen what Trump can do to those who stand up to him. Of the 10 who voted to impeach him, only two remain in the House. 

Let’s hope Donald Trump will look back on Thursday, March 30, 2023, as the first day he found out what his future will look like.  Maybe free government housing, this time in a jail cell. The announcement of his indictment by the New York grand jury being only the beginning. 

I am convinced Donald Trump never wanted to be president. He ran to increase the value of his brand. But clearly, once he was the candidate, paying off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, seemed imperative to him. What he fears most is being branded a loser. He also understood, as president he could not be held accountable for his crimes. During his term, while many of his crimes were coming back to haunt him, he couldn’t be touched. He was being sued for rape by E. Jean Carroll and he and his company were being investigated for all kinds of financial crimes. Then he lost his reelection campaign and realized he could face reality and was willing to try to hang on to the presidency at all costs, even if it meant taking down the country. All to avoid responsibility for his crimes. Then he compounded his crimes exponentially, trying to stay in power. 

Clearly Trump felt announcing a new campaign would protect him. He announced his candidacy for reelection thinking that would allow him to continue to avoid prosecution. He makes the claim, and has Trumpers in Congress and around the country parrot it for him, “since he is a candidate, the law can’t go after him.” Thankfully he is wrong. Judges are telling all those around him they can no longer hide and forcing them to testify to various grand juries looking to indict him. Those indictments will, I hope, follow the one in New York.

Donald Trump sounds more and more like a charlatan. He is selling snake oil and he is the snake. He is a congenital liar. I first met Donald Trump back in my New York political years. He was a suave young man taken with himself. His mentors were his father, and one of the biggest closeted gays in New York, Roy Cohn, a total sleaze. Donald learned well at his knee. He learned to lie about everything. He lied about never taking money from the government after getting a 40-year tax abatement, from the city, the first ever granted to a commercial property, for the Grand Hyatt. It was a great hotel. I often stayed there and even brought back the first guy I ever picked up at a bar to my room (I’m still friends with him nearly 40 years later). 

Trump deserves everything the law can throw at him. His legacy is allowing homophobes, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others of that ilk to spout their hate in the public square. His followers are legalizing hate against the LGBTQ community, with a particular focus on the transgender community, and women, in state legislatures across the nation. His right-wing justices, including his appointees to the Supreme Court, are taking away the rights of women to control their own healthcare and body. His political party, the Party of Trump, is systematically destroying our democracy, betraying what our country has always stood for. 

The question remains, once he is indicted by more than one grand jury, will the remnants of the old Republican Party stick with him? We will find out how many Republicans still have a sense of decency or have they all succumbed to Trump? Some may want to take courage by looking at my friend Marvin Roffman to see it is possible to win against Trump. But only if you are willing to stand up to the despot.



A historic first: Pride celebrations in Fairfax City

Mayor Catherine Read spearheaded event



Fairfax City's first Pride celebration took place on June 3, 2023. (Photo from the Fairfax City Department of Parks and Recreation's Instagram page)

Both joy and controversy marked the City of Fairfax’s first LGBTQ+ Pride celebration.

The event, coordinated by representatives from the city and George Mason University with the help of local Drag and Variety Show The Palace, took place the evening of June 3 at Old Town Hall.

“The night of [Mayor] Catherine Read’s historic win, she sponsored our drag show at Earp’s Ordinary so her team could celebrate,” writes Alan Xtra, producer of The Palace. “She is a fierce ally and that very night she promised the community that there would be a Pride celebration in Fairfax City. The mayor made good on her promise and the event was an absolute success.”

The All-Ages Pride Dance Party drew backlash from some community members due to the presence of Drag Performers at the event. Stacy Langdon of grassroots conservative group Mama Grizzly, photo-ready in her red “Make America Great Again” hat, coordinated a group of protestors bearing signs: “Drag is prostitution,” “Trans is a no-no,” and “June is Groomer Awareness Month” among others.

Fairfax City Police were present outside the event.

“When we heard there was a hate group coming, I naturally had some safety concerns,” writes Xtra. “We were blessed to interface with the local fire and police departments to ensure a necessary presence for our protection, and we were able to coordinate with the city for private security and a bag check as well.”

As the sun began to set over the Beer in The ‘Burbs festival outside, Old Town Hall filled with a colorful crowd, many dressed up in rainbow attire and dramatic makeup. DJ Slamz laid down a soundtrack of dance classics, punctuated by drag performances from local artists. Drag King Maqks Gross performed Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and drag queen Sirene Noir Sidora Jackson showcased “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. 

The Drag Show’s Host, Masvusi, performed Kylie Minogue’s “Magic.” 

“Drag is about world building,” she writes. “It’s about having those small moments of liberation, peace, and joy that we don’t get out of the world we live in now.”

Local band Shelley Star and The Galaxy performed a set complete with dancers.

Star, a songwriter and dance teacher, writes “I am lucky enough to be a performer with a band that contains several cherished LGBTQIA+ members, and the joy and community we felt in the room was palpable and overwhelming. I was specifically moved by the amount of young people who got to broaden their horizons and maybe experience something new about the world they live in for the first time. “Part Of Your World” … moved me to tears. It was so wholesome; just a perfect choice for the spirit of the event … It was beautiful to witness and be a part of.”

In addition to the entertainment, the city organized crafts, face painting, and booths for local organizations upstairs. Pizza was served. 

“Despite the protestors, the city has assured us that this was just the first of what will become a community tradition of Pride celebrations every June,” writes Xtra. “I look forward to seeing how the event will grow in the coming years.”

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D.C. still has an HIV epidemic

Legalizing sex work a good next step in fighting the disease



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

New CDC data from February 2023 shows that the percentage of D.C. residents with HIV has gone down. Some outlets have marked this as a success and a positive statistic to herald.

The data specifically shows that 1.8% of D.C. residents are living with HIV, compared to 2.8% before. While a downturn in cases is good, D.C. still is living with an HIV epidemic that needs to be curbed even more.

We should not be celebrating a disease rate of 1.8%. In the nation’s capital — a metropolitan city that is supposed to provide quality healthcare coming from the biggest economy in the world — two out of every 100 residents we cross on these streets should not be diagnosed with a serious and lifelong illness.

Of course, recent measures nationwide and in D.C. to prevent HIV harbor lots of potential and should be celebrated. For one, PrEP has been made free, the daily pill that would safeguard against infection even if sexual contact with a positive patient was made.

The medical community has long studied what constitutes an “epidemic” in a given country. But most of that scientific literature studies epidemics that grow and reside in developing countries, where infrastructure and healthcare are of so poor quality that disease cases skyrocket beyond any manageable proportion. Take the Ebola virus, which likely originated from an unregulated animal market in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ebola went on to ravage the DRC, Sudan, Congo, Gabon, and Uganda. Doctors are quick to call Ebola an epidemic (and for good reason), but are slow to call other diseases epidemics as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines an epidemic as “an unexpected increase in the number of disease cases in a specific geographical area.” Unfortunately, according to this definition, HIV in D.C. doesn’t constitute an epidemic. While cases have gone down, though, the virus’s prevalence in the capital city should still shock everyone.

D.C. must continue to treat our HIV rate as a crisis belonging to epidemic proportions. There are a few measures the city can take to prevent spread. A couple come to mind: First, the city could finally legalize sex work. There are too many vulnerable sex workers in parts of town who sell their bodies without safe contraception, and who might take in used needles as well to inject drugs. Second, the city can amp up efforts to advertise PrEP, the antiviral drug that prevents HIV infection. There are plenty of successful PR campaigns around the city, and more posters advertising PrEP, be they on public buses or the Metro, would do some good.

Treating HIV as an epidemic in our capital city is necessary to reduce its harm as much as possible.

Isaac Amend (he/him/his) is a trans man and young professional in the D.C. area. He was featured on National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ in 2017 as a student at Yale University. Amend is also on the board of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia. Find him on Instagram @isaacamend.

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Blade Blog

Cruising into Pride

Celebrity holds firm as a proud corporate supporter of LGBTQ community



Celebrity APEX (Photo by Peter Rosenstein)

As you know if you have read my columns and blog posts, I love cruising. The kind where you are on a river or the ocean. Today in both the United States and around the world the LGBTQ community is facing difficult times. Attacks are coming fast and furious. There are few places where members of our community can feel totally safe these days. 

One of those places is on a cruise ship that values the community. That is what I have found whenever I travel on a Celebrity ship. Today, they are going even further in letting the world know about their respect for the community. They happily advertise Pride at Sea. Of course, they are doing it to attract LGBTQ passengers and their dollars, but that’s great in this day and age, when a company is willing to step up proudly, wants our business, and will do everything they can to make us feel both wanted and safe. That is what Celebrity Cruise Lines is doing. 

I want Pride to be celebrated not just in June, but every month. But I am excited about the June celebrations whether hosted in D.C. by Capital Pride, or on the high seas. While many of us will be at the D.C. Wharf, on June 10 to help the Washington Blade celebrate Pride on the Pier with spectacular fireworks, those who miss that and are on a Celebrity ship will be part of a Pride celebration as well. Their ships will all celebrate the month in various ways including flying a LGBTQ Pride flag. 

Celebrity has invited my friend, entertainer extraordinaire, Andrew Derbyshire, to lead the celebration on the Edge on June 13, in Ibiza. He recently quoted Celebrity, “In honor of Pride month and our continuing commitment toward fostering positive and authentic partnerships within the LGBTQIA+ community, Celebrity Cruises is raising the Pride flag to celebrate acceptance, unity, and support for the community. Each June, Celebrity Cruises hosts our annual Pride Party at Sea. Every ship takes part in the celebration that brings our crew and guests together to honor and celebrate Pride.” Andrew added, “I am happy to announce I will be flying to Ibiza on the 13th of June for a few nights, to host Pride on the Celebrity Edge, with my friend and captain, Captain Tasos, and the amazing team on board.” Andrew, like many of the entertainers I have seen and met on Celebrity ships, is encouraged to be who he is, ‘out’ and proud. 

The Edge will kick off Celebrity’s fifth annual Pride Party at Sea during its June 10, 2023, sailing. “The party will take place in tandem across the award-winning Celebrity fleet, with each ship ‘handing off the party baton’ to the next, to keep the festivities running across hemispheres and time zones. A variety of multi-generational LGBTQ+ focused programming will take place throughout the month of June. Together, officers, staff and crew around the world will participate in Celebrity’s signature Pride programming.”

You should know one of the things straight couples could always do on a Celebrity cruise is have the captain marry them. Now, since same-sex marriage became legal in Malta, where most Celebrity ships are registered, their captains can legally marry same-sex couples. After this happened the first legal same-sex marriage at sea, on a major cruise line, occurred on board Celebrity Equinox in January 2018 when the captain married Francisco Vargas and Benjamin Gray.  

Celebrity is a Florida-based company, and along with Disney, they are standing up for the LGBTQ community. They have been a Presenting Sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride for four years in a row. They continue to advertise their collaborations with gay cruise companies like VACAYA, which has charted the Celebrity Apex for a cruise of the Caribbean in 2024. The ship will be sailing with a lot of happy LGBTQ cruisers on Feb 17-24, 2024 for seven nights from Fort Lauderdale to Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and Antigua. For anyone who hasn’t been on the Apex, it is an amazing ship. While not during an official Pride month I will show my Pride along with many other LGBTQ travelers on Celebrity Beyond this October out of Rome, and on Celebrity Ascent in October 2024 out of Barcelona. The Ascent hasn’t even set sail yet. 

Let’s hope other companies will follow Celebrity’s lead and value the LGBTQ community. We are entitled to live our lives safely and to the fullest, as who we were born to be. 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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