The T in Our Community

Do you remember what the world was like 20 years ago? I do. Back then, we were not equal citizens. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was still in place, and we were still years from achieving Marriage Equality. We were not protected by policy and the murder of Matthew Shepard lingered in the back of our minds, giving validation to our worst fears – that what happened to Matthew could happen to us. I was a teenager, desperately wanting to come out and find my tribe, but afraid to do so. During those times it wasn’t uncommon for us to be […]

Hagerstown Hopes: Supports the Trans Community

This is an exciting time for us at Hagerstown Hopes. Our organization was founded to serve the LGBTQ community and this is a responsibility we take very seriously. For months we’ve been working on developing programs and activities to meet the needs of our community not only in Hagerstown, but the surrounding areas as well. Our goal is to create quality programs that benefit the community, and we’re taking every precaution and attending to every detail to ensure that things run smoothly and with minimal hiccups. Now that I have your interest, I would like to formally invite you to […]

How to Fix Hagerstown’s Image Problem

Numbers, ratings, and data are important. They influence our decisions of where to eat, what movie to see, and even where to live. That’s why I was disappointed to learn that Hagerstown had the lowest rating of ten Maryland cities included in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Municipal Equality Index. HRC rates cities on a scale of 0-100, and Hagerstown received a 32. In comparison, nearby Frederick had a perfect score of 100. What’s more, we dropped six points from last year. Ouch. If you’re thinking, “Well, it’s Hagerstown, you can’t be that surprised,” you’ve already demonstrated why this is […]

Hagerstown Hopes: Improving Our Equality Rating

The Human Rights Campaign recently released its 2018 Municipal Equality Index, an evaluation that rates cities based on “how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there.” Cities are rated on a scale of 0-100 based on 49 different criteria. The process is a kind of audit, requiring the submission of paperwork and supporting documentation from city officials to HRC for evaluation. Several Maryland cities received perfect scores, but Hagerstown was not one of them. In a disappointing turn of events, Hagerstown was rated 32, making us the lowest ranked city in Maryland. […]

The Cult of Carrie: The Musical

Carrie White can never catch a break. Ever since she first appeared in Stephen King’s 1974 novel Carrie, the awkward, lonely, abused teenage heroine has been misunderstood. There have been two film adaptations of King’s novel, each offering a different perspective on the characters and events culminating in the most iconic and memorable prom scene in cinema history. But what many film fans don’t know is that Carrie has also been adapted into a musical with a legacy of its own. Like Carrie herself, Carrie: The Musical was perhaps doomed from the start. The 1988 production is one of the […]

MSO Makes Debut Recording with Sharon Isbin

It was cold and snowy on my 18th birthday, but that didn’t stop me from following through on my first decision as an adult: I would take myself to see the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. Internationally renowned classical guitarist Sharon Isbin would be joining the MSO to play “Troubadours,” a piece for guitar and orchestra, and my aspiring-musician self was anxious to hear something sure to be beautiful, exciting, and passionate. Isbin and the MSO, under the skillful conducting of Elizabeth Schulze, did not disappoint. As I sat in the beautiful Maryland Theatre, home of the MSO, I was mesmerized by […]

PrEP is Not Enough

2017 was a record-breaking year in the US, but not in a good way. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017 saw nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, surpassing a record set in 2016 by more than 200,000 diagnoses. Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the Division of STD Prevention at the CDC, says we’ve seen “steep and sustained increases over the last five years” in STD diagnoses. With that in mind, it’s not all that surprising that the US has the highest STD rates in the industrialized world. The statistics are alarming. Between 2013 […]

Emerging from Emergencies

When it rains, it pours. Fresh from my run-in with rabies a few weeks ago, I found myself affected by an emergency in my social circle. When I learned of it, I was dumbfounded and caught completely off guard because, like most emergencies, nobody saw this one coming. Everything was fine until suddenly it wasn’t. Part of what makes an emergency an emergency is that the stakes are high and the outcome is uncertain. This adds extra stress and anxiety to an already tense situation because, if the worst happens, we could lose something or someone we love. It’s like […]

My Run-in With Rabies

A few days ago, I was attacked by a mouse. Thus, began one of the most memorable, and ridiculous, experiences of my adult life. It happened at about two in the morning. I woke with a start, flailing. I vaguely remember feeling something soft and fuzzy in my hand that was suddenly no longer there, followed by a soft thud against the wall and small scurrying sounds across my bedroom floor. I quickly switched on the light, terrified and confused, only to find a small trace of blood on my thumb, which throbbed with the kind of pain one usually […]

Pride Brings Hope to Hagerstown

When Hagerstown Hopes was finalizing plans for Hagerstown Pride (held on Saturday, July 14th) members were optimistic that it would be a success. What they didn’t count on was how much of a success it would be. Thao Ta of local news outlet WDVM reported that this year’s Pride, themed “This is Me” was expected to draw up to 3,000 people. After interviewing the organizers of this year’s Pride, Thao and I discussed what Hopes will be bringing to the community. She was gracious, kind, and even posed for a selfie with me (after teaching me how to use my […]