Sunday, July 15, 2018

Pride picnic for Fairfax County Public Schools, 2018

Today I visited the FCPS Pride (Fairfax County Public Schools, VA) Pride picnic.

I got there a bit late and heard less about races and politics than last year(see the July 16, 2017 post, with link to more speech videos).

Recall, I worked as a substitute teacher in 2004-2005 and again in 2007.  There was a major incident involving my own online speech at the end of 2005 which I have discussed widely on these blogs before.

The political climate, with respect to LGBT but also speech, has changed since I was there.
Today the event seemed a little smaller.  There was more emphasis specifically on trans (or fluid) teachers or students than before, relative to the entire LGBTQ experience as a whole.

One transgender speaker talked about how the group had originally organized as a “huge closet” like the “CIA”.  Kristin Beck (the former Navy Seal, someone completely fit to be president of the United States in my estimation)

Small groups of previously marginalized people meet in public spaces and get into the news, first of bloggers, and then gets uploaded to the bigger media, and curated onto a much bigger stage. This can work both ways, but it doesn’t always mean “solidarity”.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Pop-up gay bar for MLB All-Star baseball game in Washington temporarily replaces Town this week

Washington Nationals relief pitcher gives the Washington Blade an interview  as Washington DC prepares for the All-Star game.

The Nationals are not doing as well this year, struggling to stay above .500, partly because of injuries and underperforming players. (They are grown men.)  Doolittle is signed by some nerve inflammation of a toe. 

But the Washington Blade set up a temporary MLB Pop-Up gay bar for five days (July 13-17), open evenings, next to Walters sports bar and National’s Park, on N St SE off Van Street, just north of the Half Street entrance to the park and the larger bar. 

The bar has a dance floor and is most welcome now that Town Danceboutique is closed.  Think of it as a temporary replacement for Town.

One wonders if there is space somewhere near Nationals Park and the Audi field for soccer next door, with a dance floor for weekend rental.  Could something more permanent come out of this pop-up? DC United will play soccer in the new field.  Gay Belgian actor Timo Descamps (“Judas Kiss”) has often tweeted about soccer.

Tracks used to be located near Half Street, across M Street a couple blocks down, long before all the high-rise real estate development.  Velvet Nation was also in the area.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

GOP-controlled House passes bill allowing adoption agencies receiving federal funds to turn away LGBT parent adoption applications based on religious grounds

Remember in 2000 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts could legally discriminate against gays because they were a private organization.  Libertarians celebrated the ruling on ideological grounds, and then watched city after city deny them permits on tax-owned land.
We all know that, despite the “conservative” ruling, the BSA has turned around on this (to the extent that the Mormon Church had to separate). Maybe we can take comfort in that outcome in contemplating the Supreme Court.

But the GOP House has voted to allow religious organizations who accept federal funding to deny gays (or particularly legally married gay couples) the opportunity (not the right) to adopt.  Here is the LGBTQ Nation story .

In handling refugees, now a sensitive issue, the government has to work with faith-based social services organizations like Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities.  I haven’t actually heard of any complaints recently against either of these (there were problems with Catholic Charities during the Mariel Boatlift in 1980), it’s clear that there is a public interest in faith-based groups being willing not to discriminate among volunteers, hosts, or anyone who could offer assistance.

It makes no logical sense to shrink the pool of possible adoptive parents (as the article notes). 

 Religious objections seem to be based on the idea of making traditional (heterosexual) families feel more powerful and satisfied with their own marital sexuality as proven by procreation. But the law also adds to circular thinking, that gays are second class citizens for not having family responsibility. 

Monday, July 09, 2018

Outserve-SLDN announces new program for LGBTQ service members and veterans with mental health or substance issues

OutServe SLDN, Strive Health, and Veteran and First Responder Healthcare have announced a new program to assist LGBTQ service members with mental health or substance abuse issues, press release here
SLDN will obviously have to watch court behavior very closely with regard to Trump’s next appointment to the Supreme Court, to be announced tonight. So far the courts have been OK in forcing the Pentagon to allow transgender members to continue service in many circumstances, despite Trump’s attempts.
The new Court appointment will not have any affect on the repeal of DADT, because this was accomplished by Congress, not the courts. But watch the political climate in Congress this fall.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

How MCC inspired the National Council of Churches in the 1980s; a Trump SCOTUS still unlikely to undo gay marriage

Today, at MCC Nova in Fairfax VA, pastor Emma Chattin, in a sermon “Unsettling Wilderness Voices”, related a narrative how UFMCC never has had full accreditation with the National Council of Churches, but in 1983 (when I was living in Dallas and Don Eastman was pastor of MCC Dallas)  gave pastors from NCC the experience of a common communion.

There was also an interesting ethical question: some “voices” seem to come from “angels” ("messengers") or people with incredible activist ability (Hogg?) but others seem to come from others who need to have you give them attention (like on Facebook).  In he discussion, the idea of not having to believe your own thoughts came up as a mental health idea.
Walter Olson has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, reinforcing the idea that gay marriage will not be put in jeopardy by another Trump Supreme Court appointment. Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch all endorsed Kennedy’s very limited reasoning on the case, and the idea that public accommodations in general should not discriminate.  How would these justices feel about Sarah Sanders and the Red Hen?

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Lesbian married couple denied opportunity to volunteer as foster parents in immigration crisis; more on transgender ban

Lambda Legal reports on a serious case, where it is litigating against DHS and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, when they denied an application from a lesbian married couple to apply to become foster parents for a refugee child for religious reasons.
The couple is Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin, and both teach at Texas A&M in College Station, SE of Dallas.   The lambda legal link is here. The case is Marouf v. Azar.

I would be concerned here because religious organizations assisting DHS with the current immigration crisis should not use their own religious criteria in turning away volunteers.  This case dates back to February, before the worst of the crisis.

Public policy demands that, given the urgency of the border crisis, reconciling humanitarian need with the rule of law, government will need volunteer assistance and will need to expect social service agencies, however faith based, not to apply their own religious tests on volunteers.

I visited the border area myself May 30.  I’ve spent time in College Station only once, in 1982, when I was living in Dallas, to play in a chess tournament.

In the summer and fall of 2016 I did have some contact with Lutheran Social Services (through a local Presbyterian church in Arlington) and did not encounter any issues at all with sexual orientation of volunteers who would assist (Syrian, Iraqi or Afghan) refugees

But in 1980, Catholic Charities in Dallas was unwilling to accept gay volunteers to assist Cuban refugees from the Mariel Boatlift.

Lambda also reports on briefs today before the Ninth Circuit to block Trump’s partial transgender military ban, here

Monday, July 02, 2018

Zoning policy in DC may have contributed to Town DC's closing, and is harmful in other cities too

I found an article on real estate in “Greater Washington” that may shed some more (indirect) perspective on Town Danceboutique’s losing its lease and closing July 1, after a “party to end all parties (it would have ended around 3 AM EDT, which is right on the cusp west Coast time, right?)

The libertarians and Cato Institute crowd are right on this one.  Zoning laws often wind up hurting the businesses they intended to help.  In Washington, there are relatively few new houses, except for tear-downs and “renovations” of old ones, in white, affluent areas (and there are plenty of black and mixed affluent single home areas too). Developers tend to go into high density areas and make land deals that probably look good on paper (with absurd land values) but which don’t make a lot of sense for the population that can afford to live in the area.

Until about mid 2012 I could park in the Town lot.  Then it got difficult (it shared with 930 Club). Across Florida Ave., parking lots were developed (Parker Brothers-Monopoly style) into the glitzy Schay Apartments, with their high ceilings. (One resident put a “bar” in his window for the lines in front of Town to see.) 

Town was set back on 8th Street from Florida Ave., with the Patio (open for less than four years, given what Town put into it) by a pizza shop and tiny parking lot.  I don’t know if that was part of the land sale (it sounds likely).  It might have been better had the Town building be flush on Florida Ave.  

 Then one could envision leaving the disco to stay, and building a needed (customer pay) parking garage behind it for all the clubs and businesses, given the deterioration of late night weekend Metro service – which people tell me had no effect on the crowds but it may have affected the future.  In New York, for example, you could then put retail stores above the garage (like a Best Buy) – but in DC we run into the stupid height limit – again, zoning (and increased rents and land values for the air rights allowed).

The population that would rent these new apartments (or buy the condos) probably wants a disco like Town to stay  -- many of the people would not have cars.  Are real estate developers thinking about this, even out of business interest?  I doubt it.  These land deals seem too remote, too related to Wall Street and hedge funds.

The other big wild card in the big disco business these days (esp. since Orlando and Paris) is security, because of the times (and there is more than one ideological enemy).  In any “changing” neighborhood, providing security, especially for patrons coming and leaving late at night possibly at a long distance from public transportation and needing secure parking, will be an issue for any new location.
I think that big events and dances in the future will more often have to be held in rented hotel or similar spaces, in buildings with 24-hour use – at least in high land cost cities like Washington.
But, across a narrow street from the Howard Theater there is an empty lot.  Maybe you could build a dance bar there. 
 In Baltimore, there has been no direct replacement for the Hippo (after closing in late 2015, partly because local laws made it difficult for a new owner to get a liquor license -- zoning again), although the remodeled Baltimore Eagle, ten blocks to the north, seems to be absorbing the "preppy" as well as leather crowd. 

Update: July 4

Would a former Toys-R-Us store make a suitable site for Town to rent?  Just a thought.

Furthermore, I would wonder if the loss of Town, as well as increase in supply or units, will put downward pressure on rents in the immediate Shaw neighborhood for recently constructed buildings, because now it isn't quite as desirable for a certain kind of urban gay consumer.  This purchase by Jefferson Apartments may not have been thought through as well as it should have even on laissez-faire business grounds.

It's worthy of note also that DC's Red Hen (no connection to the restaurant in Lexington VA that expelled Sarah Sanders) is not far away (on 1st St).  I ate there on the way to Town Friday night and it was delicious and expensive.