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Once again I was in downtown Washington, DC during DC Pride Weekend, which was held as part of the month-long Pride Month. I was there to attend the latest DC chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School (which I’ll get into in a future post). I decided to travel downtown just a few hours early because I heard that one of the leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign, Rev. Dr. William Barber was speaking at a Sunday service.

While I was walking on my way to church, I saw this trompe l’oeil wall mural.

I made my way to Thomas Circle where the National City Christian Church is located. This church is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ and it is definitely very welcoming to LGBTQ people.

I loved the interior of this church. You could tell that this is a historic church who has been in the same location for generations.

Each pew had an embroidered cushion at each end representing one of the 50 states. I shot this photo of the state that I currently live in (Maryland) but I ended up sitting in a pew that had a California cushion (but I ended up not taking a photo of that one).

The next photo shows the order of service and a flyer promoting the Poor People’s Campaign upcoming rally that was held later that month (on June 23).

The high point was hearing William Barber speak. He gave a very moving sermon on how he overcame his own homophobia to embrace LGBTQ rights while also promoting the goals of the Poor People’s Campaign in general.

I don’t regret making the effort to attend this Sunday service. A two-part video of this service has been archived on the Poor People’s Campaign’s Facebook page: Part 1 and Part 2.

After the service ended, we were invited to join the congregation for coffee and conversation in what looks like a newer, modern part of the church building. I didn’t see too many people at the coffee hour and I think it’s because there was the DC Pride Festival that was held on the Mall and many church members didn’t stay long because they wanted to go to that festival. I didn’t get a chance to meet Rev. Dr. Barber after the service because he went straight from delivering that sermon to a Spanish-language service that was meeting in a different room of the building in order to meet with the Latinos then he had to go on to a couple of other events that were scheduled that day. (I heard that he spoke at River Road Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda later on that same day.) The next photo shows the modern part of the church building.

I thought about making a brief appearance at the DC Pride Festival on the Mall but I didn’t get out of church until it was nearly 1 p.m. and it would’ve been cutting it close with Dr. Sketchy’s (where the doors opened at 2:30 p.m. and the event began at 3 p.m.). Instead I walked along P Street, NW from Thomas Circle to Dupont Circle while I took a variety of rainbow-themed decorations.

There were the occasional sign in Dupont Circle reminding people about a few facts about LGBTQ-related issues, such as remembering the late drag queen Marsha P. Johnson, who was one of the leaders of the Stonewall riot.

I took the occasional non-rainbow shot, such as this wheat pasted poster promoting the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom movie.

I saw a tent with a bicycle set up in the front yard of someone’s townhouse.

I saw some colorful graffiti in an alleyway.

I also saw some anti-Trump graffiti spray painted in various places throughout Dupont Circle.

There was a protest rally in Dupont Circle by an organization that called itself the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. All I can say is that I have never heard of this group before and they shouldn’t be confused with the Poor People’s Campaign (despite the similarities in the names). It drew a small crowd with some curious passer-bys briefly stopping by before moving on elsewhere.

I made a brief stop at Fantom Comics., which was decked out with both a rainbow flag and a Black Lives Matter flag.

Fantom Comics had a special display dedicated to Queer Comics, which featured comic books with LGBTQ characters.

They had a mannequin with a transgender flag and a pennant celebrating the Washington Capitals’ recent win of the Stanley Cup for the first time ever in the history of the team.

I didn’t buy anything in the store due to tight finances and the fact that I had planned on going to the DC Dr. Sketchy’s event at the nearby Bier Baron, which I’ll write about in a future post.

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I’m old enough to remember a time when if you wanted to purchase anything that was LGBTQ-related in the Washington, DC area, you had to go to the stores located in the heavily LGBTQ areas like Dupont Circle. You could easily forget about going to any store in the suburbs because such things just simply were not put on sale. This definitely includes Pride Month.

My how times have changed! Not only have corporations embraced Pride Month by putting out rainbow stuff but one can easily find rainbow-themed stuff on sale in the stores in the suburbs. What’s even more amazing is that this open observance of Pride Month has continued despite the fact that the Trump Administration is less-than-warm towards LGBTQ people. I kept on seeing rainbow stuff on sale in the suburbs, which is very convenient for those who want to buy rainbow items without having to take the Metro into downtown Washington, DC. I took a few photos but it wasn’t until the last day of Pride Month that I finally got around to uploading them. (I know I can be lame at times. LOL!) So, without further ado, here are some colorful stuff I saw in the suburban stores.

I saw slices of rainbow cake on sale at a local Giant supermarket earlier this month.

Rainbow Cake

But I saw the majority of rainbow-themed stuff on sale at Target.

Rainbow Clothes at Target

Rainbow Clothes on Sale at Target

Rainbow Stuff on Sale at Target

Stuff I Saw on Sale at Target During Pride Month

What I Saw on Sale at Target During Pride Month

What I Saw on Sale at Target During Pride Month

What I Saw on Sale at Target During Pride Month

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Earlier this month I went to this event at the Artist & Craftsman Supply store in Hyattsville where there was a special free workshop on creating your own rainbow clothes especially for Pride Month. All you needed to do was to supply your t-shirts, bags, or hats. If you forgot to bring one, you could buy one from the store itself. I ended up paying around $3 for a blank white t-shirt so I could participate.

Basically we used a variety of different fabric paint spray along with stencils and fabric markers to create our unique rainbow clothes and accessories. I took a few photos during the workshop itself.

The last photos in this post are about my own t-shirt that I designed myself. The next photo shows the t-shirt as a work in progress.

The next photo shows me using the blow dryer in order to make the t-shirt dry faster. (The fact that it was raining outside that day made it imperative that I try to dry the t-shirt as much as possible before I could even walk back to my car.)

Here is my completed t-shirt just a few weeks after that workshop.

Here’s the back of the t-shirt, which isn’t that interesting mainly because I used fabric paint spray instead of the tye-dye that I usually do with these kinds of projects. Plus it would’ve made the t-shirt drying that much longer and difficult since I had to carry it back to my car in the rain.

Last, but not least, is a selfie of me modeling that t-shirt, which reads “Pride Not Prejudice.”

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Ramadan

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I learned via Facebook that Third Eye Comics was having a Halloween ComicFest right in its store. Not only were there really cool sales but they had some free sample comic books to give away as well. (It’s almost like the annual Free Comic Book Day except it’s in October instead of May.) So I went down to Annapolis where I took these photos.

The one thing I’ve noticed is that there seems to be more comic books based on cartoons that I used to watch on television when I was a child.

I laughed at these comic books taking jabs at Donald Trump. I just wasn’t in the mood to buy them though because I’ve had more than my fill of Donald Trump and his constant need for attention. (I feel this way after he’s only been in office for 10 months.)

I’d never thought I would ever see Stan Lee action figures. (LOL!)

They have cloth dolls based on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comic book series.

I laughed at seeing this set of Batman action figures all patterned after the rainbow flag. I wonder how many of my LGBTQ friends would be interested in that one? (LOL!)

A culinary-minded person can do some superhero-themed cooking.

I took advantage of the sales to purchase the three-volume graphic novel series Batgirl of Burnside. I checked the first and third volumes out of the public library a few months ago and I liked them really well. (My library frequently have this situation where, in the case of book series, it might have some volumes of a certain series but not all of them. Part of the reason is because people check them out but I’ve never seen the second volume of Batgirl of Burnside in my library ever. I looked for months and I’ve only seen the first and third volumes. I can only guess that some jerk checked out volume 2 and never returned it.)

I decided to check out the Spirit of Halloween as well. I originally was going to go to the one in Bowie since that was the one place where I knew such as store was operating until I did a quick search on Google Maps. I found that there was another Spirit of Halloween store that was just located one mile away from Third Eye Comics so I decided to go there instead.

The same shopping center had a lighthouse that was located next to a movie theater. The biggest irony is that the nearest body of water was located at least three miles away from where both the lighthouse and shopping center were located.

I arrived at the Spirit of Halloween where I took these photos, starting with the ways in which one could come dressed as either Donald Trump, Melania Trump, or Vladimir Putin.

I know that some of the Disney Moana-themed costumes have been controversial so I’m amazed that any store is still carrying them.

I purchased only one item from that Spirit of Halloween store. It’s a small gargoyle where, if you pressed its belly, its eyes light up and it says one of four phrases (such as “You are doomed!”). This gargoyle was perfect for decorating my car trunk for the Trunk or Treat event that took place at my church on the following day.

Since Pride Month is winding down, I decided to highlight this photo featuring a product that I purchased. Recently I went to a job interview that was held in the Chinatown area of Washington, DC. Afterwards I did some walking around the Chinatown area when I decided to check out It’s Sugar. I found this rainbow candy bar known as Gay Bar. I bought it for the heck of it. Here’s a photo of the wrapper.

Having tasted the chocolate inside, I have to say that it wasn’t too bad. Its taste reminded me of a Hershey’s bar. It tasted really good.

Ramadan

For all the times I’ve been to Dupont Circle, I’ve never went there during DC Pride Weekend, even though I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area for years. The only reason why I went this year was because Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School was held at the Bier Baron that day. I originally planned on writing one post until I looked through the pictures and realized that I had taken so many that it really warranted writing two separate blog posts about my one day in Dupont Circle during DC Pride Weekend. This post will focus on the photographs I took that day while the Dr. Sketchy’s post will have to wait until the next one.

DC Pride Weekend had a big parade and party that took place in Dupont Circle the previous day. I wasn’t able to make it because of tight finances (the Metro system is not only getting more expensive but yet another fare increase is set to take place by the end of this month) and this heatwave has settled in the area so the temperature reached a high of around 95 degrees F.

The following day it was still very hot and humid with highs reaching 95 once again. At least the Metro trains are air conditioned and I spent as much time in the various air conditioned stores as possible. While Saturday was the big party and parade in Dupont Circle, Sunday was slated as a day of protest on the Mall. I wasn’t able to make it to that protest mainly because I attended church in the morning and Dr. Sketchy’s started at 3 p.m. so there was literally no way I could squeeze going to the National Mall in between (especially given Metro’s flaky weekend schedule where you could wait anywhere from 15 minutes to a half-an-hour or even longer depending on which stop you’re at and if Metro is doing any kind of maintenance work on a certain line at a certain station). I saw this couple who were clearly on their way to the Mall march.

I arrived at the Dupont Circle Metro station, which was definitely decorative for the occasion by having its list of scheduled trains arranged like the rainbow flag.

It was also fitting that the same station had this banner ad for Cher’s upcoming concert at the MGM casino in nearby National Harbor.

I didn’t mind missing the big march on the Mall, especially when I stepped outside and felt the high heat and high humidity smack me in the face. There were people milling around in Dupont Circle but I suspect that there were far more people protesting at the Mall. The first thing I did was head over to Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe where I saw these LGBTQ-friendly signs.

There was also this excellent sign that made fun of Donald Trump’s notorious “covfefe” tweet by announcing a new Covfefe cocktail featuring White Russian while providing quotes from former FBI director James Comey’s recent testimony that introduced the phrase “honest loyalty” into the English language.

I browsed among the books at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe while noticing this prominent shelf towards the front of the store featuring LGBTQ books.

I also saw rainbow flags and store patrons who were all decked out in rainbow and/or LGBTQ-themed attire .

After Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe I walked along the streets of Dupont Circle where I noticed rainbow flags everywhere and people dressed in rainbows. I took the bulk of these pictures before and after Dr. Sketchy’s. (Hooray for longer daylight hours!)

I eventually made my way to the Bier Baron, where Dr. Sketchy’s took place. Even that place was decked out in rainbows.

I even got into the rainbow festivities by taking pictures of my colored pencils all lined up in a loose Roy G Biv rainbow pattern (which also included colors one usually don’t see in a rainbow like brown and white) before Dr. Sketchy’s began.

Like I wrote earlier, I’ll devote my next post to what I drew at Dr. Sketchy’s.

While there were rainbow colored palettes everywhere in Dupont Circle, I found this one interesting non-rainbow thing that I photographed. This is a tiny statue (which reaches no higher than my calf) of a baby sleeping on top of a baby elephant. How cute!

I ended my time at the fountain that’s located right in the middle of Dupont Circle. There were a few people chilling out even though it was dinnertime and the temperature was very hot and humid. Strangely the fountain was turned off that day plus the basin had no water in it. (I honestly don’t know what is going on with that fountain.)

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for my next post on attending Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at the Bier Baron during DC Pride Weekend. 🙂

Pepe the Frog

A public school student’s tribute to Pepe the Frog on display at an art show featuring work by students at Greenbelt Elementary School and Greenbelt Middle School at the Greenbelt Community Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Photo taken on May 8, 2017.

Matt Furie is an artist who had an online comic strip known as Boy’s Club, which received plenty of attention for one of its characters—Pepe the Frog, a basically laid-back peaceful character whose personality was something that could’ve come from a Cheech and Chong movie. Furie had no hateful or malicious intent when he created Pepe.

Imagine his surprise when various alt-right groups appropriated Pepe and used him to attack women, LGBTQ persons, Muslims, people of color, and other groups who aren’t white heterosexual Christian men. In time the Anti Defamation League added Pepe the Frog to its list of hate symbols.

This kind of appropriation is every creative’s worst nightmare come true. In the past I’ve had my own creative work (including drawings, paintings, and animations) get interpreted by others in ways that surprised me because I never had that kind of idea in mind when I originally created it. At least those alternative interpretations were benign and they didn’t hurt my work or my reputation.

Matt Furie had the misfortune of seeing one of his creations not only get interpreted by others in ways that he never intended but he had to stand by while seeing his creation get appropriated as a hate symbol. He tried to put the word out that he never created Pepe the Frog in that way but his protests fell on deaf ears as the alt-right continues to use Pepe for their own ends.

Last weekend Matt Furie uploaded a cartoon panel he drew depicting Pepe lying in a coffin. He also included that panel in a comic book that was distributed in comic book stores nationwide as part of the annual Free Comic Book Day. It was his way of announcing that Pepe the Frog is officially dead.

I don’t blame Matt Furie for what he did. If I was in his shoes, I would’ve done something similar as a way of distancing myself from seeing one of my own creations get twisted into a hate symbol.

I know some of you will ask why didn’t he simply get a lawyer and sue those sites that continue to use his Pepe the Frog in a despicable manner. Here’s the thing—launching a lawsuit in the U.S. is not cheap. I know this first-hand when my estranged husband sued me for divorce and I had no other alternative but to get my own lawyer. Even though my divorce was a relatively simple cut and dry matter (we didn’t have minor children living at home nor did we own much in terms of property and investments), I still had to pay around $250 in order to have my lawyer represent me in divorce court for a trial that lasted less than a half-an-hour.

Look at the late pop star Prince. He managed to get the majority of his videos withdrawn from YouTube and other online video sites but, in order to accomplish this, he had to hire an expensive team of lawyers whose job was to scour the Internet for any unauthorized uploads of his videos (including uploads made by his own fans). Prince was rich enough to afford such legal help.

In contrast, the vast majority of creative people, including Matt Furie, don’t have Prince’s deep pocketed financial resources to hire a similar team of Internet-savvy lawyers to do such work. Given the nature of the Internet, it would’ve been impossible for him to save legal fees by focusing on—let’s say—the controversial 4chan.org site (one of the places where those memes originated) because even if he had won that case, people would’ve taken those twisted Pepe memes and store them on other sites (such as the notorious white power site Stormfront.org) and he would’ve had to raise more money to pay lawyers to launch lawsuits against those sites.

Trying to delete anything off of the Internet is like playing Whack-A-Mole because once you get something taken off one site, that same thing will crop up on another site, then another site, and so on. Once you upload anything online, it’s nearly impossible to remove it.

Basically Matt Furie did the only thing he could do to distance himself from the hateful versions of Pepe the Frog by killing off his character. I don’t blame him one bit for what he did.

April 22 was not only Earth Day but it was also the day that a massive March for Science took place in downtown Washington, DC to protest the Trump Administration’s official denial of climate change while cutting funds for federal research. I thought about going myself because, as someone who was once married to a NASA software engineer, I know the importance of science in everyday life (even if science was never my favorite subject in school).

But then it rained like crazy and I decided to can that idea. I didn’t feel guilt over what I did because I had already previously participated in the Women’s March on Washington and the Werk for Peace dance protest. The People’s Climate March was scheduled to be held in Washington, DC on the following Saturday. In addition, there are more anti-Trump marches on Washington planned for the future which will focus on immigration, LGBTQ rights, and fans of the hip hop group Insane Clown Posse (that one is because, for some weird reason, the federal government has classified the fans of this group as gangs and terrorists).

And I’m sure that the longer Donald Trump stays in office, the more people will hold massive protest marches.

So I ended up going to Silver Spring where I took place in the second annual Creator Con. At least it was held indoors so I didn’t have to deal with being rained on. Here are the photos I took during my time there.

Creator Con

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There was one thing that blew my mind. There was a band consisting of teenage boys who did covers of classic rock songs like The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” and The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.” I found it interesting that there were kids who did covers of songs that first came out decades before they were even born.

Creator Con

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Creator Con was held at Eubie Blake High School, which had these pro-LGBTQ signs on display. I’m old enough to remember a time when a teen openly admitting that he/she was LGBTQ would not only result in all kinds of bullying and harassment but many teachers would’ve been indifferent to that student’s plight. Now there are official signs making a LGBTQ teen feel welcome.

Creator Con

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