OutWrite, Washington D.C.’s LGBTQ Literary Festival, Welcomes its Next Chairperson

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Marlena Chertock, Malik Thompson, OutWrite Co-Chairs
outwritedc@gmail.com

OutWrite DC is welcoming a new Chairperson on board, local poet Emily Holland. After 2 years of service, Marlena Chertock and Malik Thompson are stepping down as Co-Chairs after the 2022 festival. They are thrilled to be passing the baton to Emily.

“As a queer writer who largely came-of-age here in DC, I am immensely excited to be the next Chairperson of OutWrite,” says Emily. “Under the expert guidance of Marlena and Malik, and also of Chair Emeritus dave ring, OutWrite has thrived as a literary festival created by — and for — the trans/queer community.”

“Malik and Marlena had the daunting task of adapting the festival during the ongoing pandemic, and their leadership was instrumental in not only shifting to an accessible virtual festival, but also championing Black writers, Indigenous writers, writers of color, and disabled writers. I have forged so many nurturing connections at past OutWrite festivals and hope to use my time as Chairperson to support trans/queer writers in the same way.”

“We are extremely excited to pass the torch to Emily!” said Marlena Chertock and Malik Thompson, the current Co-Chairs of OutWrite. “Our tenure has been a huge learning experience and it would not have been possible without the support of Kimberley Bush, Executive Director of the DC Center, dave ring, OutWrite’s chair prior to our tenure, Justin Johns, DC Center Office Administrator, Tahirah A. G., editor of our 2021 journal, as well as our Volunteer Coordinators Derrick Brown, Jacob Budenz, and John Copenhaver.”

“We chose Emily to take up the mantle of Chair because of her impressive, years-long commitment to D.C.’s LGBTQ+ literary community. We are excited to experience the future of OutWrite with Emily at the wheel,” Marlena and Malik said.

Mark your calendars for this year’s festival, which will be held August 5-7, 2022. Currently, all events are virtual; we will release more information on whether any events will be held in person or hybrid as soon as possible. Please visit outwritedc.org for more information.

More about the new Chairperson of OutWrite

Emily Holland (she/they) is a genderqueer lesbian writer living in Washington, D.C. She received her MFA from American University, where she won the Myra Sklarew Award for outstanding thesis and was the Editor-In-Chief of FOLIO. Their poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications including Shenandoah, Black Warrior Review, Nat. Brut, DIALOGIST, Homology Lit, and Wussy. Her chapbook Lineage was published by dancing girl press in 2019. Their work has been supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Sundress Academy for the Arts. Currently, she is the Editor of Poet Lore, America’s oldest poetry magazine published by The Writer’s Center.

 

 

 

 

 

About OutWrite

OutWrite is a celebration of LGBTQ literature, held annually the first weekend in August in Washington, D.C. The 2021 festival will be August 6-8, 2021. For more information, visit: thedccenter.org/outwrite.

About the DC Center

The DC Center for the LGBT Community educates, empowers, celebrates, and connects the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. To fulfill our mission, we focus on four core areas: health and wellness, arts & culture, social & support services, and advocacy and community building. We envision communities where LGBT people feel healthy, safe, and affirmed.

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The DC Center Board of Directors Appoints Kimberley Bush As Executive Director

The DC Center Board Of Directors is excited to announce the official appointment of Kimberley Bush as The DC Center’s Executive Director.

The DC Center Board Chair Andrew Zapfel states “The Board greatly appreciates Kimberley’s steadfast & effective leadership, deep compassion and extraordinary perseverance as she has been able to successfully continue our work in such unprecedented times. We look forward to her continued leadership as we enter this new era of the DC Center.”

Click here to read our announcement in Metro Weekly Magazine

Meet Our New Board Chair, Andrew Zapfel

At the last Board of Directors meeting of 2021, Andrew Zapfel (he/him) was unanimously elected Board Chair. “Andrew has shown his deep commitment to the Center over his last few years at Board Member, Secretary, and Development Chair,” shared former Board chair, Rehana Mohammed. “I’m so excited to see the Center continue to thrive under his leadership as Chair and grateful that he has stepped up to take on this new role. I’m looking forward to continuing to support as Vice Chair and focusing on our search for a new permanent space as a part of the DC Queer Space Taskforce.”

Read the interview below to get to know Andrew!

Where are you originally from and how long have you been in DC?

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Deciding that I was semi-over constant blizzards, I moved to Washington DC in 2011. I have been a resident of the city ever since.

How did you first get involved in the DC Center?

I started volunteering at condom packing parties as part of the organization’s HIV and sexual health services. From there. I started helping with our “Gay Day at the Zoo” events with fellow board member, Jonathan Gilad. Those events got me interested in doing more and signing up to be a part of the DC Center Board.

What are you most excited about regarding the future of the DC Center?

What I love about the DC Center is our overall goal to meet the needs of our diverse LGBTQ community. Going through so much in the past two years with COVID, we know that the needs of community members may look different. What do we want virtually? What do we want in person? What new social and health services need to exist to meet the challenges we all face? How are we reaching everyone? We need the community involved to help us answer these questions as best as we can! I know we will get there thanks to the dedicated staff and board of the Center.

What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there?

My favorite two spots (they are connected – so could count as one) would be the Smithsonian’s African Art Museum and the Asian Art Museum. I love the permanent collections as well as the amazing exhibits they put on. Both have wonderful courtyards and places to work, relax, and contemplate the history of our civilizations. I am happy to go with anyone!

What are your goals for the next year?

First, we need to make sure we are meeting the immediate needs of our community as we continue living in the COVID-19 pandemic. Next, I look forward to finding ways the DC Center can best share what it does with the community, so that more can see the services we provide and get involved. Finally, I really want to see our events grow! From our arts and cultural events to social services, we have plenty of opportunities for anyone.

What is your favorite queer movie?

I am a Shakespeare fan so I have to say “Were the World Mine.” It is based on one of my favorite Shakespeare plays,  “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” One of the leads so perfectly sings my favorite line, “I’ll Follow Thee and Make a Heaven of Hell.” I may be a bit of a romantic.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

I look up to the amazing leaders we have here in DC. Whether it be Kimberley Bush, the DC Center’s Interim Executive Director and incredible Arts and Culture lead, June Crenshaw leading the Wanda Alston Foundation, Alexis Blackmon as the Interim Executive Director of Casa Ruby, and more. The needs of our community are great and the organizations find ways to collaborate as much as possible to meet them. I look forward to working with these leaders!

 

 

Introducing Laya

Welcome Laya Monarez to the DC Center! She is our new Front Desk Support Team Member. Laya (she/her/hers) looks forward to helping all her LGBTQ brothers and sisters and making everyone feel safe and welcomed at the DC Center. You can meet Laya at the DC Center on Weekdays and some Saturdays.

Birthdate, Astro Sign
4/9/83 and a proud Aries

Where are you originally from?
I’m a Chicana Mexican American and very in touch with my Tepehuan and Raramuri Indigenous side.  I grew up in Herndon VA but have been living in DC for 20 years.

Why did you start working at the DC Center?
I’m a bisexual transgender woman and I want to be a part of an organization that believes in building stronger connections within the LGBTQ community.

What has been your favorite part about working at the DC Center?
Everyone is so friendly and welcoming. 

What is your music anthem?
Kickstart my Heart by Motley Crue

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?
We look out for one another and are always there when someone needs a hand.

What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there?
I used to play roller derby with the DC Rollergirls and I absolutely love roller skating so Anacostia Skate Pavilion has become an absolute gem to my soul, particularly during these difficult times with Covid. 

What is your favorite queer movie?
Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  I adore how punk rock and gender queer it is.

What color would you paint the White House, given the chance?
I would paint it whatever colors the indigenous people of this land want it to be.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?
As a Bisexual Mexican Artist I have always looked up to Frida Kahlo.  If it has to be a living person then probably Danica Roem one of the first openly Transgender people elected to a US office.

DC Center Relocating by December 2022

October 27, 2021

Have you been back to the DC Center yet? We reopened our doors earlier this month, inviting community members to explore our new set up, and experience our newest Center Arts Gallery exhibit by Julian Vankim. We are once again offering access to our cyber center, library, food pantry and a new clothing closet, as well as some in person, virtual and hybrid support groups and events. The Center was also part of a successful advocacy effort to secure funding from the DC government for a new space for a community center.

As we look towards this exciting future, we are writing to share that the DC Center will relocate by December 2022, due to the renovation of the Reeves Center. The Board of Directors is working with other community leaders and organizations on a long term strategy for the permanent location of the DC Center.

While the DC Center staff and volunteers did a fantastic job providing support and services virtually for over a year and half,  the pandemic has also reminded us of the importance of gathering in person. Having a community center is essential not only as a place to congregate and experience a sense of belonging, but also as a place to distribute essential resources. 

Although we do not yet have a new address to share yet, we are confident that our new home will enable us to fulfill that purpose. We look forward to a new building that will enable us to offer our current programs — and possibly some new ones —  to the LGBTQ+ community of the DC metro area.  We will keep the community aware of any updates as they develop. 

If you have any questions or thoughts regarding the DC Center’s future home, please contact Board Chair, Rehana Mohammed, at rehana@thedccenter.org.

 

DC Center reopens to the Public

Relaying information about the DC Center's reopening

The DC Center Reopens to the public Monday, October 4th!

 

The DC Center is excited to announce that we are reopening to the public effective Monday, October 4th. After providing services virtually nonstop since March 2020, we are overjoyed to welcome the community back into our space. We are going to be modifying how we provide services, please check out some of the information below to know how we’re keeping the community safe, as well as how we are asking the community to help protect the staff and others at The DC Center.

 

Hours of Operation

The DC Center will resume our normal office hours of 12 pm – 6 pm Monday through Friday, and Saturdays from 11 am – 3 pm. We are still located at the Reeves Center, 2000 14th Street NW, Suite 105.

Expectations

As grantees of the DC government, The DC Center staff fall under Mayor Bowser’s vaccine mandate, so all staff are required to be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID testing. While we are not mandating vaccinations from our participants, we are asking people to wear masks that cover mouths and noses securely (disposable masks are available at the entrance to the DC Center), and self-screen for common COVID-19 symptoms (fever/shakes, recent loss of sense of smell, congestion, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, etc) and ask for assistance outside the DC Center’s offices if they aren’t feeling well.

FAQ

Services available

The DC Center will be making some changes to the way we operate, especially in how we have our peer support groups. Please click here for Hybrid Peer Support Group information. Otherwise services are listed below with a quick summary of changes in how we operate

Cyber Center: Reduced capacity, 3 people at once. If someone is waiting to use the services, we will discuss what makes sense with everyone trying to use the Cyber Center.

Mental Health Services: Mental Health Services will be remote for the time being. If you are interested in receiving services, you can email supportdesk@thedccenter.org to get started.

Lounge: Our lounge has been rearranged to help promote social distancing, as has our Meeting Room Space.

Clothing Closet: Our Clothing Closet has been relocated and better organized to help people more easily access it.

Food Pantry: Our Food Pantry is being restocked, as much of the donated food had expired during the pandemic.

Referrals/Service Linkages: These are happening in person or can be accessed by calling our Main desk at (202) 682-2245, or via email at Supportdesk@thedccenter.org

 

 

¡Bienvenido/Welcome Michele Johns, LGSW!

Michele Johns, LGSW, Therapist

!Bienvenido a Michele al DC Center/Welcome Michele to the DC Center!

Michele (she/her) joined us in 2021 as one of our trauma-informed, licensed mental health clinicians. Michele speaks English and Spanish. We are very excited to have her on the DC Center team!

You can meet Michele at the DC once it is safe to return to the Center in-person, but for now, read on to learn about her.

I love working with staff, volunteers, and folks who connect to The DC Center for community, care and creativity.  The DC Center is an exciting place that invites and welcomes and nurtures authenticity and creativity – and real and lasting connections – through art, therapy, education, and advocacy.  I really look forward to being able to gather in person at The DC Center – and until then, will continue to seek and soak up the virtual connections!

I enjoy leading groups, working individually with folks, and connecting to the other aspects of the Center – like the open mics, art and movie gatherings.

I look forward to bringing my full self to The DC Center – my queer, social justice-y, artistic, therapist, religiously trained, Spanish-speaking, pet-loving self!

Birthdate, Astro Sign:

–October 2, Libra

 

Where are you originally from?

–born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama.

 

Why did you start working at the DC Center?

–because I got lucky!!!  I wanted to be a part of a dynamic, creative, authentic, place doing real and transformative work with and for our LGBTQ+ community!  It is an amazing place!  I am fortunate to be a part of The DC Center!

 

What has been your favorite part about working at the DC Center?

–collaboration with amazing, creative, and dynamic staff and working with folks who come to The DC Center for connection, care, and healing!

 

What is your music anthem?

–I love music!  Life could and maybe should be a musical!  So picking one song or album is really hard.  I love “Rise Up” (Andra Day) and “This is Me” (Keala Settle and “The Greatest Showman Ensemble”) and Joy Oladokun’s latest album!  And I am a longtime fan of The Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco, and Maná!

 

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

–we are resilient and creative!  We know pain and we know how to have a great time!  We know how to make joy come alive!  We know how to make sparkling lemonade out of dry lemons!  We know how to create and recreate family and community, to rise from the ashes and live in vibrant color!

 

What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there?

–there are so many great spots in DC!  I love exploring Rock Creek Park, the museums, and hanging out around U Street.

 

What is your favorite queer movie?

–“Pose” (not a movie, but, yes!  Wow!!)

 

What color would you paint the White House, given the chance?

–rainbow, of course!!   With colors in the Progress Pride flag.

 

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

–there are so many I look to with deep gratitude and respect.  I look to the artists – who birth creations that touch souls and transform minds.  I look to those at Stonewall who let the uprising and were then ignored and discarded.  I look to those who had to live in the closets in order to survive and were quiet revolutionaries.  I look to courageous leaders in spiritual and religious settings who name truths of the inherent worth and dignity of each person.  I look to the amazing performers in “Pose” – who have fought to be where they are and have transformed lives from their audacity to live their lives out loud!  I look to children of today, with more freedoms and choices of who to be and how to be – and to the adults around them who are following the lead of the children, rather than imposing rigid norms of how and who to be.

Hotline to Improve Access to COVID-19 Vaccines for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

Help with COVID-19 vaccinations for older adults and people with disabilities

Call 888-677-1199 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern)  – or –  email DIAL@n4a.org  

The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is now available to help people with disabilities get vaccinated.  The DIAL’s trained staff is standing by to:

  • Help find local vaccination locations
  • Assist with making vaccination appointments
  • Connect callers to local services – such as accessible transportation – to overcome barriers to vaccination.

The hotline also can provide information and resources to answer questions and address concerns about the vaccines and can connect callers to information and services that promote independent living and address fundamental needs, such as food, housing, and transportation.

DIAL is operated as a collaboration between a consortium of organizations serving people with disabilities and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). The consortium includes:

  • Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL),
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD),
  • Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU),
  • National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD),
  • National Council on Independent Living (NCIL),
  • National Disabilities Rights Network (NDRN), and
  • The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies.

This collaboration benefits from the disability networks’ extensive knowledge and expertise in meeting the needs of people with disabilities across the U.S. and n4a’s decades of experience operating the Eldercare Locator, the only federally funded national information and referral resource that supports consumers across the spectrum of issues affecting older Americans.

Meet the Staff: Elisabeth

Welcome Elisabeth to the DC Center! She is the new Development intern for Fall 2020. You can meet her at the DC Center on weekdays and some evenings. Elisabeth is looking forward to working with and getting to know the Center staff.

 

Birthdate, Astro Sign

October 16, 1998. I’m a Libra sun, Virgo moon and Scorpio rising!

Where are you originally from?

Bay Shore, Long Island, New York.

Why did you start working at the DC Center?

To make new connections within the DC LGBTQ+ community and have the opportunity to give back.

What has been your favorite part about working at the DC Center?

So far, it’s been meeting all of the amazing staff!

What is your music anthem? 

ALL of Homecoming: The Live Album by Beyoncé.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

There are no boundaries or restrictions on who or what you can be in the LGBTQ+ community.

What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there?

Big Bear Café because they have the best iced coffee!

What is your favorite queer movie?

But I’m A Cheerleader.

What color would you paint the White House, given the chance?  

Baby blue with white clouds and some glitter/sparkles.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

Hunter Schafer and Indya Moore.

We Are Closed In Observance Of Juneteenth

 

The DC Center will be closed on June 19, 2020 in observance of Juneteenth

and

to support the #StrikeForBlackLives. #BlackLivesMatter

If you are facing a life threatening situation or seeking immediate care:

DC Mobile Crisis: 202-673-9300
DC Shelter Hotline: 202.399.7093 or 311
Maryland Mobile Crisis: 240-777-4000
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
LGBTQ under 25: Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7386
LGBTQ National Help Center (all ages – various lines/hours): 888-843-4564 www.glbthotline.org