The 11th Annual OBX Pridefest weekend was sublime. The weather was perfect, the crowds were enthusiastic, and despite some uniquely OBX technical difficulties beyond anyone’s control (as in the Booze Cruise’s boat engine blew), all the events went off without a hitch.
On Sunday, March 5, 2023, the Capital Pride Alliance received the official handover from Sydney WorldPride to host WorldPride 2025 in Washington, DC!
Members and representatives from the Capital Pride Alliance (CPA), Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office, Events DC, and the Equality Chamber of Commerce DC (ECCDC) traveled to Sydney, Australia to support WorldPride 2023, hosted by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Sydney WorldPride. Destination DC provided in-destination Australian representation in support of our venture. In November 2022, InterPride, an international association of over 400 Pride organizations from over 70 countries, announced that the Capital Pride Alliance (CPA) had been selected to host WorldPride in 2025.
“CPA is thrilled and honored to be the next host of WorldPride in 2025,” said CPA Executive Director Ryan Bos. “We are excited for the opportunity to share the best of the Washington, DC region with visitors from around the globe, particularly during the 50th Anniversary of Pride in DC. WorldPride provides an expansive platform to further the fight for civil and human rights, and to help secure freedoms for members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
“We congratulate Sydney WorldPride on a successful, empowering, and legacy-setting WorldPride,” said Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. “As DC now takes the mantle and starts preparing to host WorldPride in 2025, we look forward to working with the Capital Pride Alliance and InterPride to ensure a celebration that will be centered on our DC values and be a celebration of the diversity and strength of DC’s LGBTQ+ community. We can’t wait to welcome you to Washington, DC in 2025.”
Washington, DC has the largest percentage of residents in the United States who identify as LGBTQ+ according to an analysis by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. There are 36 national and international LGBTQ+ organizations headquartered in the city, and annual LGBTQ+ community events create a positive economic impact for local business-owners.
Sydney’s three-weeklong WorldPride included hundreds of events including an opening concert, evening parade, a Human Rights Conference, a march across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and a closing ceremony. CPA participated in the parade as part of the InterPride contingent; the event was viewed by millions of people both at the parade and from home. On the final day of the Human Rights Conference, the First Nations Community, who represent Australia’s indigenous people, presented CPA with a Message Stick. The Message Stick is a new tradition that will be presented to other indigenous communities during future WorldPride celebrations. The official handover of the WorldPride title was passed to Washington, DC during the closing ceremony on Sunday, March 5th. A video clip of Mayor Muriel Bowser was played to thousands of attendees, and CPA Board President, Ashley Smith, invited the world to DC in 2025.
WorldPride Washington, DC will take place from May 23 through June 8, 2025. Visitors will experience a variety of world-class events in the heart of the nation’s capital, including a monumental festival, parade, and concert. There will also be a global sports festival, Human Rights Conference, and rally. Washington, DC offers something for everyone, whether it be dancing the night away or experiencing the city’s large collection of free cultural institutions.
Comedienne. Actor. Musician. Advocate. Entrepreneur. Five-time Grammy and Emmy nominee. When hasn’t Margaret Cho’s strong voice been part of our consciousness? It feels like she has always been here, like a friend you can always count on, lighting the path for other queer people, women, other members of underrepresented groups, and other performers, to follow.
Margaret staunchly supports the causes that are important to her: anti-racism, anti-bullying, and gay rights, all while fulfilling her successful creative side with a legendary stand up career that has yielded 10-plus comedy tours. In March, her new one-woman show, Live and Livid, comes to the Hampton Coliseum. We caught up with her via to dish on the bat-shit crazy political environment and her career in show business.
And she will perform at The American Theater in Hampton on March 11 to tell us all about it. In the meantime, here’s our interview with the comedy legend and LGBTQ activist from the January 2023 edition of Outlife757 Magazine.
Outwire757: Are you on the road?
Cho: I am. I’m here in Chicago waiting for takeout before heading over to my show.
Outwire757:Let’s start out with that. You’re coming here to Hampton in March with your new Live and Livid Tour, and I’m sure it will be full of Cho-isms except updated to reflect all that’s going on in the world.
Cho: For sure. I think it’s just like the good time to get out on the road again. I’ve never experienced such a homophobic, racist, sexist time. It’s like you fight these battles your whole life, and it’s meant to get better.
Outwire757:Now that you’re on the road again how have you audiences changed since COVID?
Cho: I’ve toured during COVID in clubs, just working things out. And I think people are excited to be out and seeing live shows. That’s impressive, and I’m excited to perform. I think performers who haven’t been able to tour are also refreshed and excited to be out there. So there is a kind of meeting of enthusiasms. I think what COVID did, too, was align everybody to new information sources. Social media was much more current with what’s happening. Whether that’s Britney Grinder’s freedom to this ridiculous Republican senator crying over gay marriage.
Outwire757:Oh lord, that guy….
Cho: So weird. Why are you crying about straight people? Are you that threatened by gay marriage that you have to cry about it? Obviously, it’s, the weirdest need to control others. I think Republicans have a weird control kink. They need to control the gay people, and that’s even more morally questionable than drag.
Outwire757: And then there’s that wacko in North Carolina who tried to cancel the drag show by shooting out a power substation.
Cho: And the power station also brings electricity to hospitals, to any kind of emergency facility, to your own home.
Outwire757:It doesn’t make any sense, this crazy environment, and I’m not quite sure if social media is more to our advantage or detriment at times. It’s just sometimes difficult to tune it out.
Cho: It’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not. But I like having the information. I tend to think my sources are more correct and more impartial. But at the same time I’m also an avid watcher of the right-wing sources, conservative web sites, and I like look to those communities to see what’s going on so I can safeguard myself and see what they’re planning and what they’re saying. And it’s very shocking.
Outwire757: Know thine enemy.
Cho: You’re right. My kink is watching them. How did they even get to that conclusion, that drag is somehow harmful? What they should be looking at is that now science is telling us that global warming is harmful for fetuses. So if you really care about unborn lives, take care of global warming. That’s going to work much better than fighting abortion.
Outwire757: It’s also true that churches are where we need to be looking for children who are being molested, and they are not legally responsible for reporting those incidents like schools and other organizations are. It’s not the drag queens. There’s never been one recorded incident of that ever.
Cho: Not a one. Again, deflecting. And then we’re in charge of defending ourselves even though we’ve never been accused. It puts us into defense mode as opposed to addressing their faulty logic and saying this is actually wrong, and you don’t believe it either. I don’t know where they get it.
And what about the Herschel Walker vampire versus werewolves discussion. That really kind of sent me. What about zombies versus ghosts? That’s actually a bigger battle. There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to their absurd logic.
Outwire757: I could not believe that election was even as close as it was. It was a squeaker. And if it wasn’t for Atlanta, basically the cultural center of our country, Walker would probably be taking office
Cho: That’s depressing that it was so close. It should not have been like that. It’s really abomination. I mean, they give us so many abominations, including the abomination of ignorance. That’s really the problem.
Outwire757: It feels to me like every day we’re watching a cliffhanger unfold and what just happened with Congress passing the Respect for Marriage Act felt like being pulled back from the abyss right before we go over. But it’s not just the queer community in danger. I know you are a vocal advocate for all human rights. Where’s the intersection of all that for you?
Cho: Yes, it’s all connected, and I think it really boils down to what does it mean to be America? What does it mean to have equal rights? What does it mean to have a separation of church and state? We’re going into this very dangerous theocratic idealization for Christian evangelicals where they’re trying to justify Nazism, Yhey’re trying to justify these kinds of horrifying scenarios, and you can’t follow their logic because they’re moving towards an authoritarian state. I think that the problem with Democrats is that we wish that we could not dignify it with a response. But the fact is that we have to.
Outwire757: I think that’s where the progressive movement falls a little bit short, because we’re so goddamn polite all the time. It’s time for that to end. We need to push a little bit harder and step up like you do through your comedy. Who are some of the bright queer comedians that we need to keep an eye out for?
Cho: Robin Tran is really important. She’s a Vietnamese American trans woman who is just so impressive to me. I’ve worked with her many times. There’s so much talk about trans people in comedy and trans bodies in comedy and politics, but very little heard from trans activists and performers that need to be on the main stage. We need to focus our attention not on cis voices, but on trans voices. Alok Vaid-Menon is an amazing nonbinary trans performer comedian. They’re just amazing. Patti Harrison also. She’s a trans women, very surreal, and so unique as a musician and a performer. Trans voices are bending my approach to comedy towards politics and political humor. They’re the voices that I’m really paying attention to now.
Outwire757: One of the things you have talked so much about is your negative experience on the set of “All American Girl.” In the years since then, you’ve stayed in the entertainment industry. How has the industry changed since then?
Cho: It’s changed a lot. It’s changed for the better, in a great way. I think that there’s so much more inclusion and visibility, and we’re seeing so many more Asian-American stories, queer stories, queer Asian-American stories. There still needs to be more, but I’m excited for the future of media for entertainment in storytelling. I love that there is a whole generation in between myself first doing television to now. They are really making great strides, whether that’s Joel Kim Booster or Bowen Yang or Billy Eichner, who I really love. I think there are a lot of great things happening.
Outwire757: I love those young voices that are coming up too. It feels a lot like the 70s when we had Robin Williams and Richard Pryor and those sort of people that changed the comedy game. I know you knew Robin Williams. It seems like I saw somewhere that he was like a father figure to you.
Cho: He was a huge part of San Francisco comedy, and he was the one successful person we would see all the time. He was a father figure for all of us coming up through comedy in San Francisco which is a very tight community. I would always have to perform after him which was the worst if you’re a young comedian, Can you imagine following Robin Williams? I think that experience made me a lot more aggressive on stage.
The first autograph I ever got was from him when I was really young. My father owned a bookstore in San Francisco in the 70s and 80s, and Robin would come in. I still have it. It’s a copy of “The World According to Garp” with his picture on the cover. His story turned very tragic. But at the same time the immeasurable gifts that he gave to comedy and culture is really special.
Outwire757: What kind of influence growing up in San Francisco’s gay culture have on you as a child and also your family? Because obviously, your parents really didn’t give a shit about their gay bookstore and clientele. When you came out to them, it seemed like they were accepting. But correct me if I’m wrong that when you came out as bisexual, they had a little bit of a struggle with that?
Cho: They don’t understand bisexuality because it doesn’t exist to them. They only understand gayness like the lesbians with tweed jackets and suede elbow patches. They only understand academic lesbians and gay painters. They don’t really get that those archetypes of queerness are so stuck in gender and the 70s. They also look at the community through a separatist lens because they lived in that time before AIDS when the men were in one camp, and the women in another. Yes, there was drag but drag was its own thing outside of that. That was a different era of queerness, where everybody was serially separated. (Cho has since begun to identify as asexual.)
Outwire757: I always love it when you pop up in these great cameos or ensemble roles in television or movies. We run to the movie theater or streaming to see what you’re up to. My favorite role of yours by far is as Charlene Lee in Randall Kaisers’ “It’s My Party” in 1996.
Cho: Oh, that’s a beautiful movie. Oh my god, it changed my life! It was my it was my first real encounter with an AIDS specific movie.
Outwire757: How did you get involved in that?
Cho: I actually auditioned. In fact, I went through a long process auditioning with Eric Roberts and getting into these people’s lives. I got to meet Roddy McDowell. It was his last film which is incredible. Olivia Newton John and I became very good friends.
Outwire757: OK, I see your take-out was delivered. One last question: where is Charlene today?
Cho: Charlene, I think, is pretty butch now. That hair is gone. That movie really messed up my hair. That’s all my real hair. Every day it was so big. They teased it every day. I think there’s like a bump it in it at some point. It really ruined my hair.
After six successful performances in fall 2022, Ricardo Melendez’s new play Angel on Eros will return to Hampton Roads for an encore run this month. The production will subsequently be presented at three theater festivals domestically and abroad.
Melendez is well-known in Hampton Roads cultural arts and circles and the LGBTQ+ community. He is the founder and producing director for Actors’ Workshop of Virginia, as well as Artistic Director of Virginia Ballet Theatre and Associate Artistic Director of Todd Rosenlieb Dance in Norfolk.
He debuted Angel on Eros locally in the fall of 2022.
In recognition of the play’s merits, the Irish Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts has awardedAngel on Eros the top bursary prize to support its travel to, and presentation at, the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.
Before these touring engagements, Angel on Eros will present a pair of special benefit performances at Norfolk’s own Benjack Studio Theatre. Via these performances, a Hampton Roads Pride-sponsored champagne reception, and a dedicated GoFundMe campaign, local arts lovers can support the miscellaneous expenses of taking an independent play on tour: hiring stage managers and lighting designers in other cities, getting the word out in tour locations, et cetera.
“I am humbled by the support the Community has always shown me,” Melendez said. “My students’ success at the Governor’s School for the Arts and Old Dominion University have filled me with joy. My commitment to lead by example and bring pride to our community through the arts strengthens my efforts. Help me in sharing Angel on Eros with the world; Help us represent Hampton Roads and join with pride in our success.”
Angel on Eros tells the story of Angel, a fortysomething gay Hispanic painter with a serious case of “painter’s block.” Matt is a naïve, straight restaurateur discouraged by the boredom of his daily routine—and by a marriage that has swallowed his identity. As both men search for an escape from their present circumstances, an unlikely friendship develops, leading Angel and Matt to confront unexpected consequences of their wishes and desires.
While Matt is enamored by Angel’s paintings of him, Angel finds himself inspired by the new spark igniting his artistic work. A sexual encounter blurs the lines of friendship and introduces untold chaos into their connection. When that encounter is threatened with public exposure, Matt must decide whether or not to continue on his journey of half-truths. Angel discovers his truth as a painter—and as a flawed man. Is the beauty of art always worth the risk of a lost gamble?
In recent years, the LGBTQ+ community has been a target for violence. Some instances including the Colorado Springs Nightclub shooting in November and the Pulse Nightclub Shooting.
Local LGBTQ+ activist Christian Almas, for one, has had enough. He and others in the community have worked through the proper permitting channels to hold a Proud and Pride Protest and March at Town Point Park in Norfolk from on April 29 from 1-5 PM.
“Our community has been the subject of ever-increasing violent attacks, and it’s time to we need stand up for our rights, gay rights, drag queens and kings, trans lives and trans people of color,” said Almas. “We are going to hold that on our backs and we are going to get through this.”
Participants will begin gathering at Town Point Park at 12:30 PM. AT 1 PM, the processions will proceed down Main Street and circle back to the Park. The march will be followed by community speakers, performances, and fellowship.
The LGBT Life Center will have an informational table, and there will be a voter registration table.
The event is free and open to all.
Dining Out for Life (DOFL) Hampton Roads will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Thursday, April 27 with 16 participating restaurants which will each donate a percentage of their sales that night to the LGBT Life Center.
All funds raised through Dining Out For Life, Hampton Roads, will stay in Hampton Roads and support a wide variety of LGBT Life Center services, including:
- Free HIV/STI testing for over 5,000 people every year.
- Temporary and permanent housing support to hundreds of Hampton Roads families.
- Utility assistance.
- Co-pay, medication, and lab costs waived for hundreds of individuals.
- A Pride Pantry with free meals and support regardless of income.
- Mental health counseling on a sliding scale.
- Social and support groups that reach over 8,000 people every year.
- LGBTQ+ senior programming for a growing generation of LGBTQ+ individuals who often face isolation at disproportional rates.
- Youth programs and services that affirm queer youth and ensure they live healthy, happy lives.
2023 participating Hampton Roads restaurants are:
- 37th & Zen Donating 30%. Dinner
- Baker’s Crust-Ghent Donating 33%. Dinner.
- California Pizza Kitchen (Town center) Donating 20%. Dinner, Lunch
- Gershwin’s Donating 35%. Dinner.
- Gosport Tavern Donating 25%. Dinner.
- Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub and Restaurant Donating 30%. Lunch & Dinner.
- The Green Onion Donating 30%. Dinner.
- MJ’s Tavern Donating 50%. Dinner, Lunch.
- Mudita Cafe Donating 33%.
- No Frill Bar and Grill Donating 30%. Dinner, Lunch
- O’Connor Brewing Company Donating 20%. Dinner.
- Omar’s Carriage House Donating 30%. Dinner.
- The Public House Donating 25% Dinner.
- Still Donating 25%. Dinner.
- Streats Donating 33%Dinner
- Voila! Cuisine Internationale Donating 30%. Dinner.
This annual fundraising event is in its 20th year in Hampton Roads and joins more than 50 local HIV service organizations partner with 2,400+ participating restaurants, 4,100+ volunteers, and 300,000+ diners across the United States and Canada to raise money to benefit people living with HIV.