The most dangerous block in Logan Circle


I couldn’t stop reading this piece on gentrification and hate crimes in TBD:

The 1400 block of R has always seen more than its share of crime, and the building’s new low-flow showerheads have done little to douse that problem. “If there’s a report of a robbery, assault, anything of that nature in the area, the first place that officers will go is the 1400 block of R Street,” one D.C. police officer told me. “If I’m off-duty and walking by myself, I would walk five blocks out of my way to avoid that block.”

According to a search on the D.C. police website, the 1400 block of R Street records a crime rate two to three times that of the surrounding blocks…The block’s criminal element occasionally has priorities higher than financial gain. When Puntanen came to, he found his watch still on his wrist and his wallet and cell phone in his pocket. “The assault had nothing to do with money,” Puntanen says. “Obviously, I had no money. Everything I have is from the dump or from the corner or from the secondhand store. I have a 14-inch TV. I don’t even have a computer. No stereo,” he says. Stanley, too, was never robbed in his four months on R Street. “They only wanted one thing: To get the faggot white guy out of there,” Puntanen says.

A Gay Foster Child in D.C.

I’ve spent part of my morning reading Jason Cherkis’ “Queer and Loathing: Does the Foster Care System Bully Gay Kids?“, in Mother Jones. It’s a difficult, damning examination of one child’s story and it sits at the intersection of so many issues we must resolve, as a society. This twisted my stomach in to knots:

As a gay foster child in Washington, DC, Kenneth spent most of his weekends alone. By the summer of 2009, the isolation had gotten so bad that he’d started calling his cell-phone carrier’s help line with imaginary complaints, just so he could vent to somebody about something. He would even text himself encouraging messages, like “Good job,” or “Damn you so strong.”

You’d think placing Kenneth would be relatively easy. He had decent grades and no criminal record. He spent his weekend nights doing chores, and loved to show off his spotless stove or the 17th redesign of his tiny bedroom. Although he struggled with a mood disorder, he’d learned to keep it in check. But what people saw first were his lipstick, his painted nails—his sexual orientation. “I’m just really worried about where we place you,” the judge said at one hearing. “I don’t know that there’s a perfect place.”

The rest is here.

The Hate Graffiti that wasn’t.


Lorax tattoo by Paul Roe, British Ink

Yesterday, I went to Metro Mutts on H Street NE to find out more about the hateful graffiti which some vandal had spray painted on “their” door this weekend. I was surprised to discover two things:

- Metro Mutts has never encountered any negativity or hostility before this

- Metro Mutts shares the vandalized door with upstairs neighbor, British Ink.

In fact, the “door” which was tagged is really an outer door which doesn’t even have the six-month old pet shop’s name on it yet– there is merely a round, Metro Mutts sticker. It seems inaccurate to declare that Metro Mutts was the target of racist, anti-Gay, anti-gentrification graffiti but the mistake is wholly understandable; the first floor store front belongs to them. Anna Collins, one of the co-owners of the cleanest pet store I’ve ever been to, said that she didn’t think the ugly message was aimed at Metro Mutts– and that I should speak to Paul Roe, of British Ink about the incident. I did, this morning, for an hour.

Roe’s unique, by-appointment-only, couture tattoo studio has been open for four years. I asked him why he chose H Street.

Continue reading

Was Metro Mutts the target of hate graffiti?

Window at Metro Mutts

Yesterday, TBD, Prince of Petworth and Frozen Tropics all reported that Metro Mutts, a pet store on H Street NE, had been vandalized with hateful, racist graffiti. Someone spray painted the following on their door:

“Cracker (large penis illustration) get out my city fag”

Since this unfortunate incident involves race, class and gentrification in the District, I wanted to learn more about what I had read, so last night I took my puppy to H Street to visit Metro Mutts and talk to Anna Collins, who has a fantastic name; she is one of the six-month old store’s owners.

Collins said that the door had been vandalized on Saturday night, after Metro Mutts closed at 6pm but before a regular customer walked by and spotted the graffiti at 9. She expressed some surprise at the gay slur since Metro Mutts is “primarily a woman-run business”– they do have one male partner, but he’s not in the store that often. Collins confirmed that the police had taken their complaint and then sent someone who investigates hate crimes (possibly someone from the GLLU).

Continue reading

Frank Kameny on D.C. vs. SF and Marion Barry


Inspired by "Black is Beautiful", in the '60s Kameny said, "Gay is Good".

Recently, Washingtonian magazine profiled Dr. Frank Kameny, a notable local leader for Gay rights. Over 50 years ago, Kameny, a veteran of World War II who holds a PhD from Harvard, was fired from his astronomy job because of his sexual orientation. According to Wikipedia, he filed “the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation”. Two things about the extensive profile jumped out at me:

W: Has DC been the center of the gay-rights movement?

FK: I’ve said for many years that San Francisco was looked upon as the center, but DC is very much the success story of the gay movement.

Huh. I just read a post on SFist expressing surprise that D.C.’s Starbucks would offer gender neutral bathrooms before San Francisco’s did.

Continue reading

“promptly broken” Promises


GLAA Ratings

It’s finally election day in Washington, D.C. (and Maryland).

With all the attempts– and by this I mostly mean television ads– to frame Mayoral challenger Vincent Gray as regressive and old skool, I found it interesting that GLAA, The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., gave Gray a score that was twice as high as Adrian Fenty’s on their primary ratings, a screen shot of which is to the right.

Fenty disagrees with GLAA on a number of issues, and his record is mixed. While his administration led the exceptional legal fight to keep and defend our marriage rights; they also spent nearly two years obstructing the Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act, which is now a model law protecting the rights and responsibilities of LGBT parents. We were struck by the numerous promises made four years ago that were promptly broken.