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November 27, 2014

Pat Robertson: gays are destroying everything the Pilgrims worked for

As they say on the old Warner Bros cartoons, aaaah, shadaaaap!

2014 Medal of Freedom ceremony

This year's honorees include James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, the civil rights workers who were murdered fifty years ago during Mississippi Freedom Summer. Family members accepted for them.

Republicans want to ban Obama from delivering State of the Union

Oh please, please, please. Go ahead, you reckless, treasonous fanatics. You are on a hellhound train and you cannot stop and cannot get off.

A proud moment for Dan Snyder

Huckabee defiles Holocaust tour

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, not content with comparing abortion to the Holocaust, declares that gay marriage destroys the foundation of civilization.

Thanksgiving sunrise

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels to all.

November 26, 2014

Marriage victories in Arkansas and Mississippi

Messing with Texas

November 25, 2014

Remembering Marion Barry

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(Still from The Nine Lives of Marion Barry)

I have known Marion Barry since the early 1980s, and he was always courteous to me, even twenty years ago on election day when he arrived at Precinct 15 and I was standing outside wearing a Carol Schwartz campaign shirt. Indeed, he came right for me, all smiles. That was always one of his more charming qualities.

After his death early Sunday at age 78, I received requests for comment from several journalists. I was under the weather all day and did not send them my thoughts until Monday morning. Since I missed the news cycle, here are my comments.

In many ways Marion Barry resembled Bill Clinton: smart, politically astute, charming, and with a phenomenal memory. He didn’t just remember people’s names, he remembered their pets and what ailed them. People who disliked him used to dismiss his talents, which was a big mistake. He was the smartest politician in hometown D.C.

In his early years as mayor, before his addictions got the better of him, he appointed more gay officials than any mayor in the country. I remember him announcing the birth of his son Christopher from the stage at Gay Pride. He was an ally of the LGBT community throughout his mayoral years.

I was greatly disappointed when he opposed marriage equality, and said “Shame on you” to him after he led a chant (3:30 on the clip) at an anti-gay rally in Freedom Plaza in the spring of 2009. He replied, “I supported you on everything else.” That did not mollify me, but it was noteworthy that he and the only other “no” vote on marriage, Ward 7 councilmember Yvette Alexander, touted their pro-gay credentials from the dais rather than launching into anti-gay screeds. They were voting with their constituents; but they still, implausible as it seemed, were eager not to be thought anti-gay. That was a tribute to how far the LGBT community had come.

People are calling this the end of an era, but the Barry era really ended 16 years ago when Anthony Williams was elected mayor. After that, Marion was still a force in Ward 8, but not citywide. In recent years he could barely walk, but his mind was still sharp. I was still pleasant with him despite the harm he did to the city, because it cost me nothing and he was still one of our 13 councilmembers. He was a charmer to the end (when he wasn’t trash talking), and enjoyed reminiscing about past battles when he was on our side. It was clear that he would be re-elected in Ward 8 as long as he lived; now the question is when his constituents, so devoted to him, will move on.

November 23, 2014

Marion Barry dies at 78

The Mayor for Life is dead. May he rest in peace.

November 22, 2014

The five craziest conservative reactions to Obama on immigration

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports. The right wing is losing it.

Regarding healthcare before Obamacare

Moral courage in the face of hatred

November 21, 2014

Trump, unclear about his antecedents

Nikki Giovanni on Bill Cosby, 2007

Leigh Davenport at HelloBeautiful writes:

Rewind back to 2007 when Bill Cosby had just commenced his nationwide tour of telling poor Black America to pull themselves up by their baggy jeans and get themselves together. Black America was unsettled by what seemed to be a never ending crusade waged by America’s favorite Jell-O pudding eating dad and fierce debates were launched on cable talk shows and around the web (yes, the internet was around back then) as many notable figures called Cosby out for being elitist and out of touch....

Now ... imagine heading down to Miami to attend the International Book Fair and take in a lecture from the always enchantingly “honest” writer, poet and scholar Nikki Giovanni and getting a completely unprompted rant on Bill Cosby and his antics.

Dear Mr. Speaker

'We were strangers once, too'

President Obama gave one of his finest speeches last night in announcing his executive action on immigration. Here is my favorite passage:

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger -- we were strangers once, too. My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.

My friend Walter Dellinger, who was head of the Office of Legal Counsel from 1993 to 1996, explains in Slate that the President is on solid legal ground:

The idea that the immigration plan just announced by President Obama is a lawless power grab is absurd. As the Justice Department legal analysis that was just released amply demonstrates, much of the advance criticism of the president’s action has been uninformed and unwarranted. The opinion is well-reasoned and at times even conservative. The president is not acting unilaterally, but pursuant to his statutory authority. Wide discretion over deportation priorities has long been conferred on the executive branch by Congress, and it is being exercised in this case consistent with policies such as family unification that have been endorsed by Congress.

Dellinger's whole piece bears reading. Thank you and bravo, Mr. President.

November 20, 2014

Trans women tell GLAAD their experiences

In honor of Trans Awareness Week and the Transgender Day of Remembrance, our friends at GLAAD have released this video.

#SCOTUS denies stay in South Carolina marriage case

Director Mike Nichols dies at 83

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Director Mike Nichols died on Wednesday at age 83. He was born in Germany and moved to the United States at age 7. He was a member of the comedy duo Nichols and May with Elaine May. In his long directing career, which encompassed stage, film, and television, he won about every award that could be won in his profession: Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Drama Desk, Golden Globe, Grammy, and Britain's BAFTA. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003, and an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Nichols seemed eternally young, always with another project. He was working on a production of "Master Class" with Meryl Streep for HBO when he died. Fortunately, much of his work remains available for viewing. I remember seeing "The Real Thing" in 1984 in Broadway, featuring Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close. That he was adept in so many media put him in rare company. The partial lists of his work below convey his incredible range and output. At the bottom is a famous scene from "The Graduate" featuring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. He is survived by his wife Diane Sawyer and his children Max, Jenny, and Daisy. May he rest in peace.

On Broadway: Barefoot in the Park (1963), The Odd Couple (1965), Plaza Suite (1968), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971), Uncle Vanya (1973), Streamers (1976), Annie (1977), The Real Thing (1984), Hurlyburly (1984), The Seagull (2001), Spamalot (2005), Death of a Salesman (2012), and Betrayal (2013).

On film: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Graduate (1967), Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), The Day of the Dolphin (1973), Silkwood (1983), Heartburn (1986), Biloxi Blues (1988), Working Girl (1988), Postcards from the Edge (1990), Regarding Henry (1991), The Birdcage (1996), Primary Colors (1998), Angels in America (2003), Closer (2004), and Charlie Wilson's War (2007).