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Thursday, November 30, 2017

#Washington LGBT

#Washington LGBT


Revels holiday show features cast of 100

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:38 AM PST

Revels,gay news, washington blade

(Photo courtesy Revels)

The Washington Revels presents "The Christmas Revels" at Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., N.W.) on Saturday, Dec. 9Sunday, Dec. 10Friday, Dec. 15Saturday, Dec. 16; and Sunday, Dec. 17.

The cast of about 100, ranging in ages from 8-80, celebrates the winter solstice with a holiday performance. A group of young men set out on a voyage, which includes a deal with the Devil and a flying canoe, to rejoin their families in time for New Year's Eve. Tickets range from $12-60.

For more details, visit facebook.com/revelsdc.

A tradition of giving back

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:00 AM PST

Sports Charityl, gay news, washington blade

Members of Stonewall Kickball volunteering for SMYAL. (Photo courtesy Stonewall Kickball)

If you look deeper into the activities of the LGBT sports teams in Washington, you'll find that they're all donating money to local and national nonprofits. Just a few examples would be the long history of giving by the D.C. Front Runners, D.C. Aquatics Club, Stonewall Sports and the Federal Triangles Soccer Club.

One thing that might not be as well known is that the LGBT sports teams are also showing up in person to engage in hands-on work with nonprofits. The importance of the work they are doing isn't lost on either side.

"We put our volunteers through orientation which includes a look at our facets of service along with gender and sexuality training," says Sarah Beasley, director of operations and volunteer coordinator at SMYAL. "The training helps to foster a vested interest in our organization."

Since its inception in 2010, Stonewall Kickball has been working in the community with organizations such as Friends of Stead Park and Whitman Walker. Recently they volunteered to put new furniture together at SMYAL's transitional house for homeless LGBT youth.

"It was the first time that I had worked directly with the LGBT community and it was a great experience," says Nick Jordan of Stonewall Kickball. "We ended up going back a second time to finish up the work."

The experience led to Stonewall Kickball volunteering at the SMYAL Fall Brunch where they set up floral arrangements.

"Compared to just giving money, it's really important for us to be involved in the community. A lot of people join the leagues because they are disconnected," Jordan says. "This is a stepping stone to becoming connected to the other aspects of what makes up our community."

One of the goals of Anthony Scheller's presidency of the Washington Scandals RFC has been to address more philanthropy. Through his employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, 10 rugby players signed up to volunteer for National Rebuilding Day.

"We went to the home of a 91-year-old woman who was having trouble getting around," Scheller says. "We installed handrails, elevated toilet seats, painted, cleaned, poured concrete, repaired her fence and installed smoke detectors."

The Scandals have also been up to Stoystown, Pa., where they washed windows at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Gay rugby player Mark Bingham died on the flight in the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

"This work has been important for our team because it gives us the opportunity to accomplish something together that goes beyond our original mission statement," Scheller says. "This is work we will continue to do in the future."

In each of the last six seasons, the D.C. Gay Flag Football League has taken a weekend off for what they call their day of service. The four league conferences break apart with each one doing different work in the community.

"Our players are mostly affluent working professionals who are helping to bridge entirely different communities," says Brian Hotchkiss, commissioner of the D.C. Gay Flag Football League.

Their work includes clothing drives along with repairs and maintenance at Casa Ruby, Food & Friends service and football clinics and park restoration at Edgewood Park.

"As opposed to giving money, there is something exponentially different in interfacing with someone who is benefitting from what you are doing," Hotchkiss says. "You are more likely to give back if you have a connection. These days of service allow that connection."

‘Thelma’ and ‘Louie’

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 08:36 AM PST

After Louie, gay news, washington blade

Zachary Booth and Anthony Johnston in ‘After Louie.’ (Photo courtesy of Film Collaborative)

Two interesting movies about love and loss are coming to D.C. this weekend.

The first is "Thelma," a gripping Norwegian drama that is both irresistible and rather hard to describe. It's a rich coming-of-age/coming-out story that combines the sensibilities of Stephen King and Ingmar Bergman. It mixes moments of psychological realism with moments of horror and surreal fantasy while it tackles issues of sexuality, religion, science and family. The shifting moods are deftly captured by the crisp camerawork of Jakob Ihre and the haunting score by Ola Fløttum.

The title character (the first-rate Eili Harboe) has been raised in a small town by her over-protective and deeply religious parents. Against their wishes, she decides to study biology at a university in Oslo. She is attracted to the beautiful Anja (Kaya Wilkins), but as their relationship deepens, Thelma is subject to increasingly intense seizures. Her concerned father Trond (Henrik Rafaelsen) reveals that her seizures are linked to dangerous supernatural abilities that have haunted the family for generations.

The acting is superb throughout. Harboe is excellent as the timid, lonely Thelma, torn between her faith and her interest in science, confused by her intense desire for Anja and terrified by her seizures and her emerging powers. Rafaelsen is also first-rate as the frightened father, slowly reveling the fear and concern beneath his stony exterior. Wilkins and Ellen Dorrit Petersen as Thelma's mother Unni turn in strong performances as women whose lives are transformed by Thelma's powers.

The script by director Joachim Trier and his frequent writing partner Eskil Vogt is exceptional, full of interesting twists and unexpected revelations. It slowly builds to a fascinating finale that is both horrific and tender. It's no surprise that "Thelma" is Norway's official selection for Best Foreign Language Film Consideration at the 90th Academy Awards.

In Norwegian with English subtitles, "Thelma" opens at the West End Cinema on Dec. 1.

This year, Reel Affirmations will observe World AIDS Day with a screening of "After Louie," a powerful drama about the ongoing impact of the AIDS crisis.

The movie stars award-winning actor and author Alan Cumming ("The Smurfs," TV's "The Good Wife," "Cabaret" on Broadway) as Sam Cooper, an activist and artist is paralyzed by survivor's guilt. As the film opens, Sam is obsessively editing an art film about his friend William Wilson who died of AIDS in 1999. He smokes and drinks too much and picks up hustlers to avoid intimacy.

Sam is also filled with impotent fury: at himself, at the gallery owner who drops him, at his friends for their complacency (he launches into an anti-marriage diatribe when he discovers that two friends have been wed at City Hall) and especially at the younger generation of gay men who seem to be politically indifferent and to have no awareness of the history of AIDS.

Things begin to change when he picks up Braeden (Zachary Booth). A mutual attraction grows between the two men and both find themselves reenergized by their arguments about love, sex and politics.

Cumming is superb as the frustrated artist and he's surrounded by a great cast. Booth and Anthony Johnston (who co-wrote the script with director Vincent Gagliostro) bring the younger generation to vivid life as they fine-tune their "open relationship." Wilson Cruz is strong as Mateo who calls Sam on his outdated racial and sexual politics and Patrick Breen is moving as Mateo's husband Jeffrey who is fiercely guarding his own memories of Wilson.

Despite some flaws (slack pacing and a rather restricted focus on the white middle-class gay community), "After Louie" will undoubtedly spur some great discussions about the ongoing impact of AIDS.

"After Louie" will be presented at the HRC screening room (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

Too much ‘Respect’?

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 08:28 AM PST

A Brand New Me, gay news, washington blade

Aretha Franklin was not involved in her new album 'A Brand New Me,' at least in terms of the present day. Her vintage vocals and arrangements were replicated on a new project. (Photo courtesy Rhino)

As audiences for traditional classical concerts continue to decline and our symphony orchestras are forced to get creative to stay viable, the trend of pop and rock acts performing with "full orchestra," usually on stage but sometimes on recordings as well, continues to draw highly mixed results.

Here in Washington, we've seen acts such as the Indigo Girls, Ledisi and Babyface perform with the NSO Pops in recent months. These outings are rarely unpleasant — they just tend to highlight the inherent differences of orchestral and pop/rock music.

Even an artist whose catalogue you'd think would be a little better suited to the idea such as that of Diana Ross, who performed with the NSO Pops in Dec. 2016, never proves as transcendent in actuality as in theory. Melissa Etheridge is coming in 2018. I mean, yeah, she's great, but doesn't the fact that anybody would think to pair up Etheridge and an orchestra prove we've jumped some kind of heretofore unimagined cultural shark?

The string players end up sawing away for long periods while the horns punctuate phrases here and there and take many of the same solos that were present in the original arrangements. One imagines the NSO players are practically climbing the walls in boredom while a core pop/rock ensemble in the center does all the heavy lifting. Rarely have I heard anyone — Mika's "No Place in Heaven (Special Edition)" with the Montreal Symphony is a delicious exception — do anything terribly interesting in these endeavors.

The new album "A Brand New Me: Aretha Franklin with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra" is the same idea — it sounds like fun on paper but the results amount to little more than a glorified remastering. You walk away with (almost) the same feeling you had after watching Gus Van Sant's (almost) shot-for-shot remake of "Psycho." What was the point?

The brainchild of producers Nick Patrick and Don Reedman, the team behind a similar series of albums on Elvis Presley (Franklin was not involved in any contemporary sense), "Brand New Me" takes Franklin's vintage classic recordings on Atlantic and augments them with new orchestrations, backing vocals and rhythm tracks. The release is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Franklin's classic "Respect."

The main problems are two-fold: one, Franklin's isolated period vocals of the era were lost in a fire decades ago so there was no way (even with today's technology — go figure) to totally separate her vocals from the original recordings. The best they could do was boost mix levels but the result, while not exactly muddy, majorly limits the possibilities. Unlike, for example, the surprisingly delightful Motown Remixed albums from 2005 and 2007, the arrangers here were severely limited by the overall sonic architecture of Franklin's original tracks.

Even in areas where they could have cut loose a bit more — like extended intros or instrumental solos — they opt for little more than bland string noodling for a few measures before the original rhythm arrangements kick in and you barely notice the symphony once Franklin starts cooking. Part of that, sure, is just because Franklin's classic vocals really are that great. When she's in the room, it's hard to focus on anything but her. Yet the arrangements are so lacking in imagination, it's pitiful.

These types always give the same stock answers when pressed. "Oh, we wanted to stay true to the original flavor of the arrangements" and to mess with a classic too much is akin to sonic sacrilege. That's a cop out, though. If you're too deferential you end up robbing fans of any sense of a new experience and that's exactly what the team here has done.

Oh sure, classic cuts like "Think," "Natural Woman" and "I Say a Little Prayer" go down as easy and as thrilling as they ever did and have just a touch more fizz here and there. But after about 30 seconds you almost forget you're listening to anything other than the originals.

Yeah, it could have backfired but I wish they'd have stuck their necks out and tried something a little more brazen and creative. The only good thing I can say is that, while a little covers heavy (although so was Aretha's Atlantic output in fairness), they chose their candidates fairly well and sequenced them nicely.

Leather contest weekend is Dec. 8-10

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 07:59 AM PST

leather contest, Leather Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Leatherman of Color hold their 2018 contest at the D.C. Eagle (4701 Benning Rd., N.E.) Dec. 8-10.

On Friday, Dec. 8 there will be a meet and greet and fundraiser from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. The contest takes place on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Categories will include bar wear, hot jock and formal leather. On Sunday, Dec. 10 there will be a victory celebration. Time to be announced.

For more details, visit facebook.com/loc2017.

‘Tom of Finland’ opens in D.C. Dec. 6

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 07:52 AM PST

Tom of Finland, gay news, Washington Blade

A scene from ‘Tom of Finland.’ (Photo courtesy of Helsinki Film)

"Tom of Finland" premieres in D.C. at Landmark's E Street Cinema (555 11th St., N.W.) on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

The Finnish biopic tells the true story of erotic artist Touko Laaksonen who gained recognition for his homoerotic drawings of masculine men. The film, which stars Pekka Strang, Lauri Tilkanen and Seumas F. Sargen, follows Laaksonen as he returns to Helsinski after World War II and faces discrimination as a gay artist. General admission tickets are $10. Children and senior tickets are $9.50.

For a complete list of showtimes and more information, visit landmarkmarktheatres.com.

Prominent activist heckles Russian ambassador over Chechnya

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 07:10 AM PST

Chechnya, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Petrelis on Nov. 29, 2017, heckled Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov over the ongoing anti-LGBT crackdown in Chechnya. (Photo by Alexxx1979; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

A prominent activist on Wednesday heckled Russia's ambassador to the U.S. over the anti-LGBT crackdown in Chechnya.

A video posted to Michael Petrelis' Facebook page shows him shouting "Stop killing gay Chechens" at Anatoly Antonov as he was delivering a speech at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

Petrelis wrote on his Facebook page that his "disruption lasted approximately 90 seconds." The video shows several members of the audience applauding as security personnel escorted Petrelis from the ballroom in which Antonov was speaking.

The World Affairs Council — a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that describes itself as a "nonpartisan forum for the public to join leading foreign policy and international relations experts to discuss and debate global issues" — hosted Antonov.

"When I heard that an enemy of the gay global community was going to step foot in the gay mecca of San Francisco tonight at the Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill, I vowed that he would not feel welcome here," wrote Petrelis on Facebook.

Authorities in Chechnya — a semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucasus — have arrested more than 100 men because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation since the beginning of the year. The ongoing crackdown, which has reportedly spread to include lesbian and transgender Chechens, has sparked outrage around the world.

The Kremlin has claimed it has launched an investigation into the allegations, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to downplay or even dismiss these reports. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a close Putin ally, over the summer described the allegations as "nonsense" and claimed during an interview with HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" that "we don't have any gays" in his republic.

Putin appointed Antonov as Russia's ambassador to the U.S. in August.

Comings & Goings

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:59 PM PST

Ryan Ubuntu Olson, Comings & Goings, gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘Comings & Goings’ column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

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 comingsandgoings@washblade.com.

Ryan Ubuntu Olson, gay news, Washington Blade

Ryan Ubuntu Olson

Congratulations to Ryan Ubuntu Olson named to the Clinton Global Initiative University Honor Roll. According to CGI, Ryan was "recognized at the 10th Annual CGI University Meeting in Boston, Mass., in October. The CGI U Honor Roll recognizes individuals dedicating their lives to taking on complex local and global challenges and finding new ways to make the world a better place. Ryan was recognized for his decade of work surrounding global LGBTI human rights."

President Bill Clinton launched CGI U in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. While recognizing Ryan and the other honorees President Clinton said, "Each of these alumni brings unique skills and experiences. Some have been working on this for almost as long as we've been having CGI U. We hope by letting you see them, and I hope you will learn about their commitments, but they really are admirable people because they've stayed at the task. In other words, being a social entrepreneur, being someone committed to the work we are doing here, is now an ordinary part of their lives. Whether they do it full time or part time, they do it all the time and that's what the world needs. Every young person needs to make a commitment that in the 21st century, the definition of citizenship requires us all to do this kind of work."

Olson traveled to Kenya for his International Public Service Project developing LGBTI human rights training for CSOs, law enforcement officers, health care providers, and other LGBTI activists throughout the country. For his Capstone project, he worked for a non-governmental organization doing advocacy work at the United Nations in New York around LGBTI human rights protections.

Since he graduated in 2011, he has been a Senior Associate for Health, HIV, and Gender and Sexual Diversity at Palladium Group. Recently he co-designed a gender and sexual diversity training program for the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that has been delivered to more than 3,000 staff as well as implementing partners in 39 countries.

On receiving this award, Olson said, "To be recognized for the work I've dedicated my life to means more to me than anyone might be able to know. To be given a platform to discuss the importance of addressing gender and sexual diversity throughout the world alongside these global game changers was the real reward."

Congratulations also to Stephen Bennett who became vice chair of the board of Save the Chimps. Save the Chimps is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, the entertainment industry, and the pet trade.

Many of us know Bennett from his other work. He is a board member of The California Endowment with a focus on improving the health of the citizens of California. He is a member of the board of the Arcus Foundation, whose work includes a focus on civil rights and social justice for the LGBTQI community in the U.S. and internationally.

He was CEO of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) where he was credited with saving the agency from bankruptcy and building a strong financial base that allowed him to build the nation's second largest AIDS service provider with a strong, influential board. He established APLA as a national model for charitable events and public awareness.

Stephen Bennett

Losing a lover to AIDS

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:32 PM PST

AIDS, gay news, Washington Blade

Gary Barton was an actor and former senior vice president of production at Walt Disney Co. In 1992, along with his partner Rob Hershman and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, he won the Leadership Award from AIDS ACTION in Washington. (Photo from Barton's Facebook page)

That last month, I could look only in his eyes, for that is where he was. His face was covered with raw open sores. His gray translucent skin was stretched tautly from bone to bone. He had become a body with which I had no history.

When I got scared, I held him in my arms and stared into his eyes. They were clear and beautiful and familiar. That is where we connected now.

That last month I remember as snapshots of black and gray. Even the blood Rob bled, in my memory, lacks color. Time is distorted and that month seems much longer than a month is. I can still feel myself pushing away certain memories.

It has been years since Rob died and the black flashes stay a little longer now, and very slowly, like a photograph coming up in a darkroom tray, I begin to see the memory develop and fix. When I met Rob, he was beginning to lose weight. I watched him chart his unexplained fevers daily.

A friend commented that he thought I was courageous to get involved with someone who was beginning to get sick. Courage had nothing to do with it. I knew after spending a few weeks with Rob, that this was the man I would allow myself to love and with more difficulty, allow to love me. I committed to make the journey of my life with him, not knowing where it would lead. It was quite simply, the wisest decision I ever made.

My years with Rob are how I measure time now. Everything else comes either before or after.

The differences between Rob and me were considerable. Rob was very well read and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. I barely made it through high school. Rob was compulsive about neatness and order. I would leave my clothes in a pile where I removed them. I had been living on my own since I was 17 and had developed street smarts that Rob never did.

In fact, he never stopped being naive. But instead of allowing these differences to become a wedge, we learned from each other because of them.

Three years before he died, Rob told me he needed to pursue a spiritual path to deal with what he knew was in store for him. He decided, having been born a Jew, that he would study the Torah. Up until then, he had no particular religious connection with Judaism, but like many Jews, he had a strong cultural bond.

In typical fashion, he excelled in his studies and for this, in that last month, the rabbis with whom he was studying, honored him in a ceremony naming him a maggid. Maggid in Hebrew means: a teacher or storyteller.

It is an honor that is rarely bestowed to a layperson and Rob was indeed honored. He had won many awards including two Emmys and a Peabody award for journalism but this was the acknowledgement of which he was most proud. At that ceremony, our family and friends listened as Rob spoke of how generations ago a person's character seemed to be so important, and that today no one talks about character. Rob had character. He was the most decent person I have ever known.

That last month, we had another ceremony at our home. For a long time Rob had wanted some formal acknowledgement of our love. I'd had no interest in emulating a tradition that had never welcomed me. But one night, that last month, I looked at Rob's body in the bed and decided I wanted to marry him. He was so riddled with pain that there was a moan coming from him that seemed disconnected, as if his body was screaming but not his soul. He once described the pain as a beehive in his brain with thousands of killer bees swarming and stinging him from within.

I wanted to give him this gift. And so, before our closest friends, family, our dogs and our doctors, we stood on our deck and celebrated our love for each other. Not a commitment ceremony really, for the commitment had been made many years before. Rob was frail and had trouble standing that Sunday, and yet his face radiated enormous power and strength. His eyes were present and filled with tears of joy.

He died exactly one month to the day with the gold band on his bony finger that matched the one on mine. He was 41.
That last month seems nonlinear. The events are jumbled up. Extraordinary moments of profound joy mix with unbearably painful ones. I didn't only lose Rob that last month. I also said goodbye to Paul Monette, my beloved friend and fellow warrior, who died with his icy, yellow hand sandwiched between mine.

For many seasons past, Paul and I talked almost daily, sharing our anger and comparing our t-cells. For 10 years we ran neck and neck, only in this race the winner comes in last. There was no room for anything or anyone that was not directly connected to Rob's care. Even mourning Paul's death had to wait.

As our world became narrower, Rob's world of learning, teaching, and touching people seemed to expand. I often think of him sitting at the dining room table with our Guatemalan housekeeper Dani. Her husband had forbid her to go to school to improve her English. Rob offered to teach her, which he did until a week before he died, his patience vying with his pain.

One of the things I so admired in Rob was his total lack of classism. I came home one day and overheard Rob on the telephone explaining to the person on the other end how in American English it was common for certain words to have an opposite definition such as cool and hot, and yet in certain circumstances, they mean the same thing.

"People could say that something was very cool as in 'that song is very cool' or "that song is really hot" and mean the same thing. I assumed that Rob was talking to Dani continuing one of his lessons. When he got off the phone I said, "how is Dani?" He said,"oh, that was not Dani, it was Prince Charles." I sadly thought Rob's previous dementia had returned and as upsetting that was to me, I just let it go.

The next day Rob mentioned how nice it was for Prince Charles to call. With further inquiry I discovered that Rob actually had been talking to the Prince. Rob had done a story about architecture when producing news for CBS. He had interviewed Prince Charles at Highgrove House, his country estate. They had kept up a correspondence and a friendship and when Charles had called Rob at CBS, he was informed of Rob's condition and called him to wish him well.

I remember Rob used to laugh when he told the story about being left alone in a room at Highgrove, which evidently had hundreds of Faberge eggs just sitting on tables with no security. I thought it was odd that Rob did not pick one up and put it in his pocket but Rob was much too ethical to do that. I viewed it more like taking an ashtray from a hotel. What I thought was cool (and hot) was that Rob did not differentiate how he spoke whether it was to a housekeeper or to British royalty. That was just part of who Rob was. The fact that Rob never made a big deal about his friendship with Prince Charles from before he and I met, was just one more example of his genuine modesty and humbleness.

That last month, Rob was diagnosed with a fungal infection that was literally eating through his sinuses to the bones surrounding his brain. His physical pain was extraordinary and only slightly helped by morphine.

Morphine frightened both of us. It frightened Rob because he so hated the feeling of being disconnected to the very life at which he was clutching and marveling. His inability to study and meditate made the spiritual pain of being on the drug as bad as the physical pain of not. It frightened me because it dulled the bright life force that shone in his eyes.

Rob began losing his vision that last month before he died. He could not see out but I could see in.

That last month I took a photo of Rob in the desert. I look at it often. He is standing next to an also decrepit cactus, both looking up at the sky. Rob is beaming with unlimited joy and the desert bright, washed out light seems to be originating from within him rather than from the sun. Most of the time when I look at the picture, my tears blur my vision, but not my memory of his eyes. Still, that is where he is.

QUEERY: Ezra MacLeod Towne

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:16 PM PST

Ezra MacLeod Towne, gay news, Washington Blade

Ezra MacLeod Towne (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The MoCo Pride Center was formed in October for a fairly simple reason — residents in Montgomery County, Md., felt there was a need.

"Montgomery County has great protections for the LGBT community but that doesn't mean that all of Montgomery County is LGBT friendly," says Ezra MacLeod Towne, board vice-chair of the new group. "When I became a parent, I felt a real loss of queer community because I just didn't get down to D.C. or in the clubs as much. Those of us who live and work in Montgomery County shouldn't have to go into D.C. or Baltimore and shouldn't have to go to bars in order to find queer community."

The MoCo Pride Center exists to "be the leading organization for LGBT resources and advocacy in our county." The group has a survey at mocopridecenter.org where residents can let the board know what kinds of activities and work they feel the center should provide.

Towne, a 42-year-old Basking Ridge, N.J. native, met fellow board members Jill McCrory and Mycroft Masada while organizing a Trans Day of Remembrance event for Montgomery County. They agreed there needed to be an LGBT group in the area and decided to organize one themselves.

Towne had been involved in progressive feminist and social justice groups in the area since leaving graduate school. Towne formed a support group for trans people after becoming a stay-at-home parent after Towne and partner Jenny had their second child.

Towne came to the D.C. area 17 years ago because of family in the area. Towne and their partner live in Wheaton, Md., with children Elsie, age 9, and Leo, 5.

Towne enjoys reading and playing with their kids, various TV shows and "working toward social justice in as many small ways as I can" in their free time.

 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

More than 20 years as attracted to women but I've been gender non-conforming as long as I can remember and out as trans for five years. I started testosterone about two years ago, but identify as non-binary. Hardest people to tell: my eight female housemates in college about being attracted to women. About wanting to take on a more masculine appearance through hormone replacement therapy: my partner Jenny, who has always known I felt neither female nor male.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

There are too many for me to even try.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

I'm a former D.C. King (Boise Studley), so Club Chaos, Phase One, Apex, Black Cat, 9:30 Club.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Dream fulfilled, really. Jenny and I were "illegally" wed in March 2004 at All Souls Unitarian. I didn't want a religious ceremony, but Jenny wanted a church. All Souls was perfect, as was the non-religious ceremony that the minister, Jenny and I put together. We had a reception afterwards in their fellowship hall complete with music from the First Ladies DJ Collective, our families, fellow students, coworkers, and bad ass queer chosen family as as our guests. We had a D.C. courthouse marriage about a year after it became legal in D.C.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

There is no issue that is not also an LGBT issue but raising kids who are feminist, anti-racist, aware of economic injustice, playful, funny, compassionate, avid readers, OK with free play and boredom and practice informed consent for everything.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

The invention of guns and bombs.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Drag. King. Explosion.

On what do you insist?

That non-profits have truly diverse boards that adequately represent the communities they serve. The MoCo Pride Center needs another board member, by the way.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

A tweet about a Trans Day of Remembrance event on Nov. 19 in Rockville.

 

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

Something funny happened on the way to anywhere and everywhere.

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?      

I am saddened that we are still asking this question of queer folk in the U.S. and abroad in 2017.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe that we have one physical world and that's all there is. I believe that humans are inherently "good," that capitalism makes being good extremely challenging for all of us and this is what leaves us in need of various forms of faith and spirituality.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Listen and then lead. If you can't really listen to the wants, needs, desires, concerns and complaints of your community, you have no business leading.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Among many other immediate things: front row Pink or Lady Gaga tickets. And not to be smushed like a pancake when enjoying them.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That all trans folk are binary, that gender transition must be physical, social and legal in order to "count."

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

"But I'm a Cheerleader" is a big favorite. "Milk" is another.

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Thank you cards for kids' birthday party gifts. Frankly, they don't give a damn about writing or receiving them.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Trophies and prizes are overrated popularity contests. I'll settle for being authentically thanked.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

You really are still just a kid (albeit a responsible one), and that's OK. Your life will also change paths many times, and that's OK, too. Change can suck, but it's almost always for the better (eventually). I promise.

Why Washington?

It's the place I realized that you can give up on your vision of being a radical academic professor (and inspire others to make change), make decent money with a "real job" and still not sell yourself completely out to capitalism and the patriarchy.

Ezra MacLeod Towne, gay news, Washington Blade

Ezra MacLeod Towne (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)