Meet the Staff: Va

VA headshot

Welcome Virginia to the DC Center! She usually goes by Va. Va is excited to provide mental health services as a part-time social worker. She is excited to work here and hopes to continue to make the lives of LGBTQ people easier. You can meet Va at the DC Center in the evenings! Va is an Army Veteran, a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW), Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (ERYT), and an LGBTQ Advocate.

Birthdate, Astro Sign
4 March, Pisces
Where are you originally from? 
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Why did you start working at the DC Center? 
I started working at the DC Center because I believe everyone’s voice is important.
What has been your favorite part about working at the DC Center?
I love the community and my teammates that I work alongside. The vibe with the DC Center Staff reminds me much of family; wonky but we function.
What is your music anthem? 
Lloraras by Oscar D’Leon & My Favorite Things by John Coltrane
What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community? 
The flavor, authenticity and community.
What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there? 
Bukom Cafe & Bossa Bistro. I love to dance salsa, merengue, bachata and afrobeats.
What is your favorite queer movie?  
Hands down “The Rocky Horror Picture Show!” I love the art, music and horror-comedy.
What color would you paint the White House, given the chance?  
White is fine #minimalism

Who do you look up to in the queer community?
I especially look up to transgender people of color as I feel they are stigmatized and treated the worst of the LGTBQ community. These beautiful people have the courage to be themselves and are met with immense difficulty. I admire their strength!

Meet the Team: Jules

Meet Jules! This Spring, Jules will be working with the Professional Partners, the Health Working Groups and on the Gay Day at The Zoo Event. He is very excited about meeting new people, and visiting the United States and particularly Washington D.C.

Birthdate, Astro Sign
31 March 1997, Aries

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Dijon but I live in Brest, Britanny, France.

Why did you start working at the DC Center?
It all started because I had to do an internship for my university. But now, I think I’m going to have a great time working at the DC Center.

What has been your favorite part about working at the DC Center?
I really like greeting people at the front door. They are all so different and kind.

What is your music anthem?
I am found of the group Years and Years, starring gay singer Olly Alexander.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?
I like the fact that it is an international community. Even if I come from Brest I can communicate, have fun and identify with people in DC.

What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there?
I like the bar Wonderland. I hang out with friends there.

What is your favorite queer movie?
The name of the movie in French is Le Secret de Brokeback Mountain.  (Brokeback Mountain).

What clothing item is a staple in your wardrobe?
I always wear my piercings.

What color would you paint the White House, given the chance?
Blue. My favorite color of all times.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?
Neil Patrick Harris.

 

Meet the Board: Rebecca Bauer

Help us welcome one of the newest members on our Board of Directors, Rebecca! She first became connected with the DC Center through her participation in the social group, Women in their Twenties & Thirties (WiTT). She has stayed involved with that group and has also helped with the Youth Working Group.

Birthdate, Astro Sign.

June 23, Cancer.

Where are you originally from?

Montclair, NJ

When and why did you start volunteering at the DC Center?

I started coming to the DC Center in August 2014 because I was search for an LGBT community after finishing college earlier that year.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

I love how open-minded, supportive and strong our community is.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

Is it too cliché to say Ellen Degeneres? If so, Kristin Russo.

What is your favorite queer movie?

Imagine Me & You (though I’m much more passionate about queer television than movies).

What is your favorite DC neighborhood?

U St Corridor, which was one of the first neighborhoods that felt like home since the DC Center is there!

What is your go to restaurant and what do you order?

I love HipCityVeg and I order their Lil Golden Nugs (vegetarian chicken nuggets) and sweet potato fries.

Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

I’m definitely an early bird!

Meet the Staff: Sam

Meet the Staff: Sam

Meet our new Development Intern Sam! Sam just started working at the DC Center, but has had a huge impact already. In the first week alone, Sam has already done a great amount of work with our sponsors and has brought in a bunch of donations for the DC Center. Sam brings a positive attitude and great work ethic to the Center! Come say hello during the week!

Birthdate, Astro Sign.

I’m a Taurus and Sagittarius rising as well as a diligent follower of Chani Nicholas, who’s a queer astrologist who focuses on how social justice and astrology intersect and inform one another.

Where are you originally from?

I’m from the DC area. I grew up in the Palisades in NW before moving to Bethesda, Maryland. I went to high school at the Edmund Burke School and now I’m in college at Haverford College right near Philadelphia. I’m home from college for the summer, so I started interning with the DC Center as a way to reconnect with the LGBTQ+ community in DC.

When and why did you start volunteering at the DC Center?

I started at the end of June because I was looking to give my time to working to support the Queer and Trans community in DC. I also started interning because I wanted to be around people in the LGBTQ+ community. There’s something invigorating about seeing many LGBTQ+ folk come in and out of the center

What has been your favorite part about volunteering with the DC Center so far?

My favorite part has been meeting all the wonderful people who work in the office. It’s only been a week, but I’m already enjoying just working in the space and getting to know the people who are committed to making the DC Center a valuable resource for LGBTQ+ people living in the DC area.

What is your favorite event that the DC Center offers?

The only event I’ve been to so far is one of the support groups. It was a really supportive and affirming space, and it’s so great that we have so many support groups that focus on unique experiences in our community. I’m looking forward to going to more events and meeting more people who engage with the DC Center’s work.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

My favorite part of the LGBTQ+ community is its capacity for growth and change. That change may move at a sluggish pace, but I’m inspired by those in our community speaking out against the power imbalances within and between our communities whether its inaccessibility, racism, transphobia, biphobia, etc. Those who challenge us to be better are the heart of our community.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

I’m really inspired by Travis Alabanza, a trans and nonbinary performance artist and poet based in London. I had the privilege of seeing them perform at my college, and their poetry chapbook Before I Step Outside [You Love Me] is incredible and has helped me start to come to terms with aspects of my identity.

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

I really love the Phillips Collection. I’m a little bit of an Art History nerd and I love going there on the weekends when it’s free and just spending some time looking at some amazing art pieces.

Meet the Staff: Sarah

Help us welcome Sarah to the DC Center! She will be taking over for Sam who is leaving us this week. She is super excited to start working at the Center and getting to know the community, and you can catch Sarah’s smiling face at the DC Center during the week! Welcome!

Birthdate, Astro Sign.

August 24, Virgo.

Where are you originally from?

I am originally from Annandale, Virginia.

When and why did you start working at the DC Center?

I started working at the DC Center in May of 2018 and am really looking forward to providing mental health care to queer folks in our community who have experienced trauma.

What do you do at the Center and what has been your favorite part so far?

I am the Staff Social Worker/ Therapist and my favorite part so far is co-facilitating the Queer Women Working Through Trauma Group.

What is your favorite event that the DC Center offers?

Our Taking the Stage, Taking A Stand event that happens several times a year at Busboys and Poets. It is a great night of poetry that is survivor-centered, full of incredible talent, and an all around a great event.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

Disrupting the idea that it is one community and finding the corners that actually feel like home.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

Fierce femmes, ancestors, & Janelle Monae.

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

Malcolm X Park to read and people watch

What is your favorite queer movie?

Kissing Jessica Stein.

What clothing item is a staple in your wardrobe?

Many bold lipsticks.

Who are you most inspired by?

Local artists and activists constantly expanding how we see and are seen.

What is your go to restaurant and what do you order?

Thip Khao! I always order the crispy coconut rice (Naem Khao Thadeau) .

Volunteer Spotlight: Tamara

Meet one of our many volunteers, Tamara! Tamara has been volunteering with the DC Center for a number of years and can be seen running the Poly Group here at the Center. Don’t forget to check out her book, It’s Called Polyamory: Coming Out About Your Nonmonogamous Relationships, which is designed to provide support and encouragement for those coming out as poly. She wrote the book “because [she] noticed that though there were a lot of resources for LGBT people around coming out, there was almost nothing about coming out as polyamorous. Poly people face some significant challenges that you don’t find with other coming out processes, for instance the idea of polyamory often brings up people’s past experiences with infidelity.” Keep reading to find out more about Tamara!

Birthdate, Astro Sign.

My birthday is September 26 and I’m a Libra.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Seattle, Washington, moved to Brookline, MA when I was a baby, lived there until I was 12, then moved to Buffalo, NY and went to college at Smith in Northampton, MA. I have been in DC since 1998 so here feels most like home.

When and why did you start volunteering at the DC Center?

I started volunteering for the DC Center in 2011 after someone did a one time only poly discussion and I thought that it would be good for the community to have one more often. I’ve been running groups monthly ever since.

What has been your favorite part about volunteering with the DC Center so far?

I’ve loved all of the groups I’ve done. I’ve developed some deep friendships through the center.

What is your favorite event that the DC Center offers?

I don’t actually go to a lot of events outside of the one that I run… so I’d have to say the poly discussion group is the best.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about the queer community over the years. I came out as bisexual in 1993 and there was still a lot of exclusion of bisexuality from the LGBTQ community at the time. As in there were organizations that didn’t include bi people at all. Over the years I have continued to have moments of feeling excluded because of my ongoing relationships with men and the perpetual sense of being not queer enough. As time has gone on I’ve become more and more aware of the ways in which the community has not served people of color, trans people, and other more marginalized communities. With that said I have seen people at the Center really trying hard to do good work with people outside of the financially advantaged white people who were at the center of the marriage equality movement. I find the work around asylum seekers to be particularly important in these times.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

I would say some of my queer community heroes are Loraine Hutchins (local bi activist), Robyn Ochs (Bi activist in MA), and actually Chris Donaghue (author and TV personality). Loraine wrote some of the first literature on bisexuality that I found as a kid and that is what enabled me to figure out how to talk about my identity and come out. Robyn was the first one that let me see that this was not just theoretical, there are real live other people who are out as bi. Chris is brilliant and edgy and yet he sat down with me and let me give him hell about what I thought was wrong about his book Sex Outside the Lines. He continues to be an ally in body positivity in Hollywood where that kind of activism is still practically unheard of.

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

I think my favorite place in DC these days is my office. Its full of sparkly things and comfy furniture, though I suspect you were looking for another kind of answer.

What is your favorite queer movie?

As far as favorite queer movie, I’m between The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love and But I’m a Cheerleader. I think that shows my age.  I have yet to find a movie that talks about the kind of queer experience that I have lived.

What clothing item is a staple in your wardrobe?

Black dresses are always a staple but I have to say I’m not sure why my fashion taste is important. I’d rather talk about my book. My relationships. My kids. What I’m doing in the world, etc than what I’m wearing.

Who are you most inspired by?

As far as who I’m inspired by I’d have to say Ricci Levy who runs the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Foundation. I love the idea of looking at sexuality and family as human rights and I want us to move forward as a more inclusive movement. As far as DC activists, Cyndee Clay of HIPS continues to work hard for some of those most marginalized people in our community even when it gets really hard. I’m also inspired by Bianca Laureno, Aida Mandulay, Trina Scott and all of the other founders of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network. I love their work and being able to support them.

What is your favorite DC neighborhood?

I would say Dupont is still my favorite neighborhood in the city even though I miss the old days when Lammas (the queer women’s bookstore), Lamda Rising (the other gay bookstore) and the Leather Rack were still there.

What is your go to restaurant and what do you order?

Guacamole from Guapos is my comfort food.

If you could live in any decade (past or future) which would it be and why?

I don’t spend a lot of time in time travel fantasies. Going backwards it was harder for people of color and other marginalized groups. Going forward the earth is being destroyed. Right now Donald Trump is in office. Still the only time that really works for me is right now in this moment. I guess I’ve bought in to all of those mindfulness exercises a little too much.

Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

I hate mornings. I also don’t like to stay up late. Why is this on a binary?

Volunteer Spotlight: Marin

DC LGBT Volunteers

Meet our volunteer Marin! Marin helps out with many duties at the front desk and helps keep the office running! You can catch Marin’s smiling face during our office hours throughout the week!  If you’re interested in volunteering at the support desk, join us for our next volunteer orientation.

Birthdate, Astro sign.

My birthday is November 22nd, and I’m a Sagittarius.

Where are you originally from?

I’m from northwestern New Jersey.

When and why did you start volunteering at the DC Center?

I started volunteering in March. I was between jobs at the time and looking for ways to connect with the community and build potential professional skills.

What has been your favorite part about volunteering with the DC Center so far?

Working the front desk has made me significantly more comfortable talking to people, especially on the phone.

What is your favorite event that the DC Center offers?

I love going to the Women in their Twenties and Thirties meetings, it’s been such a great way to meet new friends in my age group.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

Our optimism and resilience. No matter what challenges we face, our community is ultimately founded on the concepts of love and self-determination, ensuring that we always celebrate ourselves and each other above all else.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

My idol right now is Hayley Kiyoko. Her music and videography over the last few years has really chronicled her coming into her own as a lesbian and gaining the confidence to embrace that label proudly, a powerful mirror for my own journey.

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

I absolutely love the United States Botanic Garden up near the Capitol. Just spending time among the greenery there is the best way to get a little taste of summer during the colder months.

What is your favorite queer movie?

Love, Simon. I’ve seen it three times, and each time it’s made me laugh and cry even harder than the last.

What clothing item is a staple in your wardrobe?

I have so many tank tops. They’re absolutely essential for summer wear and winter layering alike.

Who are you most inspired by?

There are so many amazing progressive leaders right now it’s hard to pick just one, but I have a tremendous admiration for Reverend William Barber. I had the privilege of hearing him speak at the Creating Change conference last year, and it has been amazing to see him continuing MLK’s legacy with the Poor People’s Campaign in 2018.

What is your favorite DC neighborhood?

Probably Brookland, the neighborhood I live in! I take walks there almost every day past the university and through the center of town, and I always enjoy exploring the various studios on the Arts Walk.

What is your go to restaurant and what do you order?

If there’s a Busboys and Poets nearby, you can bet on that as my go-to. Their burgers are fantastic, as are their many progressive books and activist events.

If you could live in any decade (past or future) which would it be and why?

I would love to live in the future, particularly in the age of widespread manned space travel. I’ve always been captivated by the idea of other habitable worlds and it would be amazing to be able to see them within my own lifetime.

Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

Definitely a night owl! I work late into the evening so I’m glad my internal clock matches up with that schedule.

Meet the Staff – Zhengxu Jin

Birthdate, Astro Sign
September 4, Virgo
Why did you start working at the DC Center?
As a member of the LGBT community myself, I’d love to make an impact and improve the conditions for other members of the community.
What is your music anthem?
Shake it off
What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?
It is very diverse community. People from different places, of different skin colors and ages united together to fight for a common goal. it is unbelievable.
What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there?
Georgetown for sure. I enjoy walking around in Georgetown when the weather is nice. I sit by the water, I go to get cupcake and ice cream, and sometimes I do some shopping too!
What do you think the LGBTQ+ community needs to improve on?
Cross acceptance. This means people need to focus more on their inner self than their appearance. It also means that we should look beyond one’s race, look, and mannerism (whether it is feminine or masculine.) We don’t deserve to be labelled and stereotyped as a superficial community.
What is your favorite Queer movie?
Love, Simon.
What has been your favorite moment while working in the DC Center?
The moment that I realized all my hard work will pay off because I am doing something for a good cause.
What clothing item is a staple in your wardrobe?
Vintage leather or jean jackets!
What color would you paint the White House, given the chance?
Rainbow!
Who do you most look up to in the queer community?
George Takei. He takes pride in being who he is and his posts are hilarious yet educating.

Meet the Staff: Danny Himes

Danny Himes

Birthdate, Astro Sign

January 11, Capricorn

Why did you start working at The DC Center?

I started working at The DC Center because I want to give back to the community that gave back to me. It is always my dream to work at non-profit organization and it is the just beginning of my journey.

What is your music anthem?

Nothing since I am Deaf.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

I love that we are open-minded and unique. We are not afraid to be who we are! It promotes safe space for all the people.

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

My favorite spot in DC would be Rock Creek since I love nature and hiking. I always go there during Fall to see marvelous leaves color. Other than that, I go to Rock Creek to relieve stress.

What do you think the LGBTQ+ community needs to improve on?

I believe the LGBTQ+ community needs to focus on international equal rights more. Many countries do not have any protections for LGBT community. It is time to pay attention to what is going on around the world for this community and educate people to promote the equal rights. It is extremely important to ensure people are comfortable and safe anywhere in the world since we have only one home – earth.

What is your favorite Queer movie?

The Way He Looks. Too cute.

What has been your favorite moment while working in The DC Center?

I just started this week and my favorite moment is working with my team! They are friendly, and they make efforts to learn a bit of sign language to communicate with me. They are what make my internship great.

What clothing item is a staple in your wardrobe?

I am addicted to jackets! I can’t stop buying them like I am a vacuum sucking up the jackets. Jackets are my LIFE.

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

Rainbow. Spread the love.

Who do you most look up to in the queer community?

I look up to Miley Cyrus because she encourages people to express themselves and it is okay to change despite what people think. Also, she is a great activist and she does many things to show the care for animals and people. She is just a cool person! I would love to be her best friend.

Meet Dr. Zelaika Hepworth Clarke

September 4,  Virgo

Dr. Clarke is a staff social worker at the Center. They provide counseling services for individuals, couples and groups. They also offer consulting and training services for the support groups held at the Center. They conduct social work assessment and check-ins for Center Global clients.

Dr. Clarke’s work is made possible with support from the Centerlink-Johnson Family Foundation Mental Health Initiative.

Why did you start working at The DC Center?

I am committed to serving communities that have historically been marginalized and face multiple oppressive forces. I specialize in human sexuality and gender diversity and am passionate about  improving the wellbeing for individuals, couples (& polycules), and families living their truth and loving despite heterosexism, homonegativitiy, patriarchy, bi-erasure, monosexism etc..

What is your  music anthem?

I enjoy listening to the radio as I like knowing that I am not the only one jamming to a specific song in the moment but sharing tunes with my community simultaneously.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

I love the love. I love to see couples/lovers/polycules  love each other despite society telling them they should  not.

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

I am still new to the area and have much to explore. I have been enjoying the aesthetic of the architecture and monuments as well as the river. I love watching planes fly by while overlooking the Potomac river at Gravelly Point Park.

What do you think the LGBTQ+ community needs to improve on?

There are still oppressive forces at work in the community. Eliminating racism, cissexism, monosexism, biphobia, transphobia etc both internally and within the community should be prioritized.  I would like to see more work on creating inclusive spaces and events. For example,  if bisexuals/pansexuals/omnisexuals/queer folks happen to have partner(s) of a different gender they can be excluded from some queer events. Also in spaces for all “women” or “men” it tends to leave out non-binary folks, genderqueers, two-spirit, intersex and people of trans experience. Dominant narratives of LGBT+ folks seem dominated by white cisgender mononormative representations; I would love to see more diverse representations of the community including in leadership positions.

What is your favorite Queer movie?

Some good ones that come to mind are: I am Not Your Negro, Stud Life, Pariah, Naz and Maalik, Blackbird, Still Black:A Portrait of Black Transman, 195 Lewis ….

What has been your favorite moment while working in The DC Center?

I love to transform people’s affect and inspire epiphanies, breakthroughs, and healing in my clients recovering from trauma committed to self-growth.

What clothing item is a staple in your wardrobe?

Stilettos and bowties – sometimes my femme or androgynous self likes to dress up.

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

I think it would be fun to feature different  artist’s  work be displayed (murals, mosaics, paintings etc.) on the outside every month.  

Who do you most look up to in the queer community?

I admire the queer people who inhabitat nations with compulsory heterosexuality and where laws deny their right(s) to love, safety and respect. There are still many areas where it is extremely dangerous for people to exist and live their truth. I admire those who risk death simply by being authentically themselves.