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Md. Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign kicks into high gear

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 09:00 AM PDT

Madaleno, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) is among the Democrats who are running to succeed Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in November. (Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)

The end of the 2018 legislative session in Maryland this week signals the campaign ahead of the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary has kicked into high gear.

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County)’s campaign in a statement it released on Tuesday — hours after the session ended — described the Montgomery County Democrat as “a leader on many progressive issues.” These include the passage of a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy for minors that he introduced in the Maryland Senate.

State Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County) introduced the measure — which Republican Gov. Larry Hogan supports — in the Maryland House of Delegates. It passed by a 95-27 vote margin on April 4.

"I am thrilled to report on the many things we have been able to accomplish this
year at the General Assembly,” said Madaleno in the press release. “This has been a very productive year, and it sends a strong message to Governor Hogan and all Marylanders: First, that the Democratic General Assembly can rise above the governor's political gamesmanship; and second, that as governor, I will deliver results just like I did as a state senator all these years."

Madaleno is among the Democrats who are hoping to succeed Hogan in November. He will face Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker; former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; former State Department official Alec Ross; lawyer Jim Shea and Krishanti Vignarajah, who was former first lady Michelle Obama’s policy director.

A poll that Goucher University released on Feb. 22 indicates Baker and Kamenetz are the current frontrunners.

The latest campaign finance reports indicate Jealous, Baker, Kamenetz, Shea and Ross have all raised more than $1 million for their respective campaigns.

Madaleno has thus far raised just under $440,000, but he is accepting public financing. Hogan has raised more than $5 million for his re-election bid since January 2017.

Washington, Beyer running for state Senate

State Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) and Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer are both running for the state Senate. Gabriel Acevero would become the first openly gay man of Afro-Latino descent elected to the General Assembly if he wins his race for the Maryland House of Delegates.

“The 2018 session made it more clear than ever how important it is that we continue to stand strong on important issues like preserving homeownership for Marylanders who fall behind on property taxes or water bills,” wrote Washington in an email she sent to her supporters on Tuesday. “I’m confident we can keep making change, because of the outpouring of support I’ve seen for this campaign over the last year. And I love this job as much as ever, because I love the people I serve.” 

Gabriel Acevero is running for the Maryland House of Delegates. He would be the first openly gay man of Afro-Latino descent elected to the state's General Assembly if he were to win. (Photo courtesy of Gabriel Acevero)

Gay ‘Dreamer’ stuck in Mexico after green card application denied

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 09:46 PM PDT

Israel Serrato holds a picture of him and his husband, Marco Villada Garibay. The two men have filed a federal lawsuit after Villada was prevented from returning to the U.S. from Mexico after he traveled to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez to apply for a green card. (Photo courtesy of National Immigration Law Center)

Lawyers representing a gay married “Dreamer” who was denied a green card have filed a federal lawsuit that seeks his return to the U.S.

The lawsuit — which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday — notes Marco Villada Garibay came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 6 years old. The lawsuit states Villada graduated from Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif., and later enrolled at El Camino Community College and Harbor College in Los Angeles.

“Mr. Villada Garibay has spent virtually his entire life in the United States,” reads the lawsuit.

Villada in 2013 became a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows young undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. and obtain work permits. Villada in 2014 married Israel Serrato after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissed an appeal of a ruling against California’s Proposition 8.

The lawsuit states the couple subsequently filed “the necessary petition and obtained a provisional waiver” from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service that would allow Villada to obtain his green card “by virtue of his marriage to a U.S. citizen.” The couple on Jan. 14 traveled to Mexico in order “to take the next step in (Villada)’s process to obtain U.S. residency,” which was his appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez.

Villada had been able to legally work in the U.S. and was protected from deportation under DACA until 2019, but the lawsuit notes his “status was automatically terminated” once he left the country.

The lawsuit notes Villada traveled to Mexico “only because” the USCIS approved the provisional waiver that allowed him to apply for a green card through the State Department in his country of origin and promptly return to the U.S. with Serrato.

The consulate on Jan. 17 denied Villada’s application and banned him from returning to the U.S. “because it found that he was permanently inadmissible” on the grounds that he left the U.S. more than a year after he entered the country without documents and returned to the U.S. “without admission after more than one year of unlawful presence.”

The lawsuit notes Villada in 2000 returned to Mexico for “a few weeks” after his grandfather died. Villada, who was 17-years-old at the time, was allowed back into the U.S. after he showed his high school ID card to an immigration officer at the San Ysidro border crossing south of San Diego.

The lawsuit states Villada disclosed during his green card interview that he had traveled to Mexico in 2000. The consulate earlier this month affirmed its decision to deny Villada’s application.

“Mr. Villada Garibay and Mr. Serrato continue to be separated because Mr. Villada Garibay is unable to return to the United States,” reads the lawsuit. “As a result, they are suffering emotionally and financially, and are experiencing great anxiety because Mr. Villada Garibay is unable to return to the United States for at least 10 years. The threat of prolonged separation impairs Mr. Villada Garibay's and Mr. Serrato's ability to live together as a married couple, form a family and plan for the future.”

The National Immigration Law Center, an immigration advocacy group that is representing Villada and Serrato in their lawsuit, on Tuesday held a conference call with reporters.

Villada said he and Serrato “did everything by the books.”

“Right now all I can think about is going back home,” said Villada. “I miss my husband, my home, family.”

Villada told the Washington Blade he traveled to Mexico’s Jalisco state from Ciudad Juárez after his husband returned to California. Villada said in response to a question about whether he feels safe as an openly gay man that he is “in constant fear of even going down the street for a soda.”

“I’m still living in fear, even right now,” he told the Blade. “It is not a place that is safe, even in my eyes.”

Serrato told reporters he met Villada before he became a DACA recipient.

“I loved my husband before he had DACA,” said Serrato. “I love my husband as a documented person. I’m going to fight for my husband and I to be together.”

The lawsuit names Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan, the USCIS, USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna, USCIS National Benefits Center Director Robert Cowan and U.S. Consul General for Ciudad Juárez Daria L. Darnell as defendants in their official capacities.

The State Department on Tuesday declined to comment on the lawsuit.

‘Immigrant rights are an LGBTQ issue’

The lawsuit was filed against the backdrop of mounting concern over the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

DACA’s future remains uncertain after President Trump last September announced it would end the program. The Trump administration’s announcement in January that Salvadorans will no longer receive protected immigration status in the U.S. through the Temporary Protected Status program sparked further outrage.

“Our anti-LGBT immigration policy just doesn’t hurt immigrants,” National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié told reporters during the conference call. “It hurts all of us.”

Immigrants rights advocates gather in front of the White House on Jan. 8, 2018, to protest President Trump's decision to end the Temporary Protected Status program for Salvadorans. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Stacy Tolchin — one of the attorneys who is representing Villada and Serrato — said there were cases of immigrants during the Obama administration who were denied green cards, even though they had received provisional waivers from USCIS that allowed them to leave the U.S. in order to apply for them in their countries of origin. Crissel Rodríguez of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance told reporters that Villada’s case “is an example of how the Trump administration’s policy continues to tear families apart.”

“Immigrant rights are an LGBTQ issue,” added Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

Pink brings ‘Trauma’ tour to D.C.

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 06:52 PM PDT

Pink, gay news, Washington Blade

Pink (Photo by Ryan Aylsworth; courtesy Ticketmaster)

Pop star Pink stops by the Capital One Arena (601 F St., N.W.) for her "Beautiful Trauma World Tour" on Monday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Pink will perform her classic hits such as "Get the Party Started," “Just Like a Pill" and "So What." She will also sing songs from her latest album "Beautiful Trauma" including "What About Us" and "Revenge" along with her usual acrobatics. Tickets range from $47-314. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

For more details, visit ticketmaster.com.

Night of Champions is April 14

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 06:28 PM PDT

Night of Champions, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Team D.C. has its annual Night of Champions at the Washington Hilton (1919 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) on Saturday, April 14 at 6 p.m.

The event will support the Team D.C. College Scholarship Program for LGBT student athletes. There will be a cocktail reception and silent auction at 6 p.m. followed by a three-course awards dinner at 7:30 p.m. This year's scholarship recipients will give speeches throughout the night. Dress code is business casual.

For more details, visit teamdc.org.

LezLink plans scavenger hunt

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 06:09 PM PDT

LezLink, gay news, Washington Blade

National Portrait Gallery (Photo by ZeWrestler; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

LezLink hosts a scavenger hunt at the National Portrait Gallery (8th St., and F St., N.W.) on Saturday, April 14 from 2-4:30 p.m.

Each person will be put into a group of four. During the two-hour hunt, groups will look for items through numerous exhibits. At 4 p.m. teams will be scored and the winner will be announced. After the hunt, there will be dinner and drinks at a nearby restaurant. Attendees should arrive at 1:45 p.m at the museum entrance. Tickets are $10 until April 10 and $15 afterwards.

For more information, visit facebook.com/lezlinkevents.

Cherry dance parties galore

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 05:33 PM PDT

Cherry, gay news, Washington Blade

Cherry 2017 (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Cherry, a dance benefit to support HIV/AIDS community service and prevention, holds multiple parties April 12-16.

Catalyst is at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) on Thursday, April 12 from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. DJ Kenneth Rivera and DJ Danny Verde will spin house and dance-pop tracks. Tickets are $20.

Synergy hosts DJ Tom Stephan from London and DJ Victor Calderone from New York City at Echostage (2135 Queens Chapel Rd., N.E.) on Friday, April 13 from 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Tickets are $35.

Moodin Rouge, a birthday party for Moody, is at Town (8th St., N.W.) on Saturday, April 14 from 2-7 p.m. DJ Joe Gauthereux will play music all day. Tickets are $25.

Chroma, Cherry's main event, is at Town on Saturday, April 14 from 10 p.m.-4 a.m. DJ X Gonzalez and DJ Micky Friedmann will spin tracks. Whitman Walker Health will have HIV/AIDS testing on site from 10 p.m.-midnight. Tickets are $20.

Mirage, Cherry's after hours event, is at Flash (645 Florida Ave., N.W.) on Sunday, April 15 from 3:30-9:30 a.m. DJ Alex Acosta and DJ Eddie Martinez will be playing house music all morning. Tickets are $60.

Aurora will be on Sunday, April 15 from 6 a.m.-noon on Flash's rooftop deck. DJ Steve Sidewalk and DJ Isaac Escalante from Miami will play a mix of tribal beats, vocal mashups and tech music. Admission is included in ticket price for Chroma/Mirage.

Iris is at L8 (727 15th St., N.W.) on Sunday, April 15 from 2-7 p.m. DJ Joe Pacheco will play music for the day party. Tickets are $25.

Infinity, Cherry's closing party, is at Soundcheck (1420 K St., N.W.) on Sunday, April 15 from 9 p.m.-4 a.m. DJs will be Alain Jackinsky and "RuPaul's Drag Race" alum Nina Flowers. Tickets are $30.

General admission weekend passes and VIP passes are available. For a complete list of events and ticket prices, visit cherrydc.com.

Kesha officiates lesbian wedding in ‘I Need a Woman’ music video

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 01:24 PM PDT

Kesha officiates Dani and Lindsay’s wedding in ‘I Need a Woman’ (Screenshot via YouTube)

Kesha officiated a same-sex wedding as part of her new music video “I Need a Woman.”

In the video, couple Dani and Lindsay arrive in Las Vegas for their wedding. They explore their room and check out the casinos at the Bellagio. As they enjoy their vacation, Kesha is seen driving to meet them in Vegas.

Dani and Lindsay explain why Kesha is such an important artist for the LGBT community citing a Pride performance they attended by her that was filled with anti-LGBT protestors.

"She was performing and she had her whole huge rainbow flag as a cape and her rainbow outfit," Lindsay says. The couple went on that Kesha didn’t let the protestors affect her performance and let it be known that the concert was “all love.”

Kesha makes it to the ceremony and marries the couple who later celebrate with friends and family.

Throughout the clips Kesha’s cover of the Janis Joplin classic “I Need a Man to Love Me” plays. The song is part of MGM International Resorts’ “Universal Love” EP which features re-imaginings of classic love songs into LGBT versions for gay weddings.

Watch below.

Watch: trailer for film ‘Anything’ features Matt Bomer as a trans sex worker

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 01:04 PM PDT

John Carroll Lynch and Matt Bomer in ‘Anything’ (Screenshot via YouTube)

The first trailer for indie flick “Anything” has been released.

“Anything,” based on the play of the same name by Timothy McNeil, tells the story of Early (John Carroll Lynch) who moves to Los Angeles after the death of his wife. He strikes up an unexpected friendship with Freda, portrayed by Matt Bomer, who is a transgender sex worker.

Bomer’s casting as Freda was filled with controversy with some people questioning why a cis-gender, gay man was chosen to play a transgender woman.

Maura Tierney, Micah Hauptman, Margot Bingham and Melora Hardin also star in the film which is executive produced by Mark Ruffalo.

Watch the trailer below.

Colton Haynes returns to ‘Arrow’ as series regular

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 12:19 PM PDT

Colton Haynes (Screenshot courtesy of YouTube)

Colton Haynes will reprise his role as Roy Harper (Arsenal) as a series regular for the seventh season of “Arrow,” Deadline reports.

"We're very fortunate and excited to welcome back Colton to ‘Arrow,’" “Arrow” executive producers said in a statement. "While we've always enjoyed Colton's returns to the show, we couldn't be more thrilled to have him return as a proper series regular and we're very excited about all the creative opportunities Roy Harper's return affords us."

“I could not be happier to return to my role as Roy Harper alongside my ‘Arrow’ family," Haynes added.

Haynes first appeared as Harper in the first season. He became a series regular on season two and three and became a guest star on season four. He was absent from season five but returned as a guest role again in season six.

“Arrow” season six currently airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m.

Power restored to gay Puerto Rico hairdresser’s hurricane-damaged home

Posted: 10 Apr 2018 11:40 AM PDT

Ricky Santiago stands outside the second floor of his family's house in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on Feb. 1, 2018. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A gay hairdresser in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico who the Washington Blade profiled in February has had electricity restored to his home.

Electricity was restored to the house in which Ricky Santiago and his family live in the Candelero Arriba neighborhood of the city of Humacao on March 31.

Wilfred Labiosa, co-founder of Waves Ahead, an organization that is providing assistance to Santiago and other LGBT Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria, told the Blade on Tuesday during a telephone interview from the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan that the electricity “comes and goes.” Labiosa also said the water pressure inside Santiago’s home remains low.

“The power was restored, but it’s still sporadic,” Labiosa told the Blade. “The water issue is still very thin.”

Maria made landfall near Humacao, which is on Puerto Rico’s southeastern coast, on Sept. 20, 2017, with sustained winds of 155 mph.

The hurricane seriously damaged the roof and walls of the second floor of Santiago’s family’s house in which he lived. It also destroyed the small hair salon that was in the backyard.

“It was a monster that came,” Santiago told the Blade on Feb. 1. “It took everything.”

Santiago and his family were among the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who still did not have electricity when the Blade reported from Puerto Rico from Jan. 29-Feb. 3. Media reports indicate more than 50,000 people in the U.S. commonwealth still do not electricity more than six months after Maria.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency gave Santiago $6,000 to rebuild his family’s house and his salon, which FEMA determined was part of his home. Labiosa told the Blade that Santiago’s mother did not receive any money from FEMA because it concluded her home — the first floor of her family’s house — “wasn’t damaged.”

Labiosa said Santiago’s family has decided not to rebuild the second floor of their house. Labiosa told the Blade that Santiago is working with his nieces and their neighbors to flatten the roof and seal it with cement.

Labiosa said Santiago and his mother have decided to use the FEMA money to repair the roof, paint the inside and outside of their house and fix the gutters in order to reduce the risk of flooding from rainwater that runs down the hillside on which the family’s neighborhood is located.

Intersections International, a New York-based LGBT-affirming ministry, donated a bed to Santiago’s mother. Waves Ahead is also working to provide new mattresses and appliances to Santiago and his family.

The air conditioner in Santiago’s bedridden father’s bedroom did not work after the electricity was restored because water damaged it during Maria. Santiago’s family has placed fans in the bedroom, but Waves Ahead is working with them to replace the damaged air conditioner.

“It’s very sad,” Labiosa told the Blade.

Grissel Bonilla, co-founder of Waves Ahead, an organization that has provided assistance to LGBT Puerto Ricans and people with HIV/AIDS after Hurricane Maria, drives her car under a damaged utility pole in Vieques, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 31, 2018. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

LGBT group launches rebuilding campaign

Waves Ahead has launched a campaign that is designed to help LGBT Puerto Ricans and others who were directly affected by Maria and Hurricane Irma, which brushed the island on Sept. 7, 2017, rebuild their lives.

The campaign will help Santiago’s family and nine other families across Puerto Rico repair their hurricane-damaged homes and help replace furniture and other items that Maria and Irma destroyed.

The Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, Advocates for Youth and Intersections International are sponsoring the campaign that Labiosa hopes will raise around $100,000. Labiosa told the Blade the campaign is also looking for at least 70 volunteers who will be able to travel to Puerto Rico between May 13 and June 3.

“We know with a little we can do a lot,” he said. “It’s 10 households, but we’re impacting like 40 people because so many people are living in these houses.”

Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, director of the HRC Foundation's Latinx and Catholic Initiatives, grew up in Caguas, Puerto Rico.

She told the Blade on Tuesday that her cousin is among the Puerto Ricans who still do not have electricity. Meléndez also said the campaign is a “proud moment for us as LGBTQ people to be involved in” the post-Maria recovery effort.

“We know there are many other efforts, but we know this is a forgotten population,” she told the Blade.

Editor’s note: Those who are interested in making a donation to Waves Ahead can click here.