While Virginia's political landscape may leave the collective gay community cold, there is one spot that's managed to buck the commonwealth's trend, standing out as a beacon of progressive values when it comes to LGBT inclusiveness. Arlington is home to the state's only openly gay state delegate, Adam Ebbin. Sally Baird, the only out lesbian holding elected office in Virginia also hails from Arlington.
On Tuesday, Dec. 14, the Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance (AGLA) will honor Baird, who sits on the Arlington County School Board, for her contributions toward making Arlington the sort of place AGLA members are proud to call home.
''Once I came to Arlington, I just stayed,'' Baird says of her home, where she raises two young sons. ''We have all the amenities of an urban community, yet we're small enough. I always run into people I know.''
And she says she's particularly proud to be the recipient of AGLA's 2010 Equality Award because of the company she's keeping.
''I know who came before me,'' she says, pointing to past recipients such as Rhonda Buckner, Jay Fisette and Jay Gandy. ''That's why it's such an honor.''
Along with an individual, AGLA has also honored an organization with an Equality Award since starting the award in 2002. This year, that organization is actually a business – albeit one that seems to be at least as concerned with the community as with making a profit. That's Freddie's Beach Bar & Restaurant in Arlington, marking its 10th anniversary in February.
''What immediately comes to mind is all the people who are constantly coming up to me and thanking me for having the place, which really makes me feel good,'' says owner Freddie Lutz, who lives within a short walk of his ''straight-friendly'' venue. ''I'm extremely honored. I really appreciate it. I think a lot of people really wanted to see the place succeed. That's why we made it.''
Continuing the trend of Freddie's opening its doors to innumerous community fundraisers and other events throughout the year, AGLA, founded in 1981 and today counting about 300 members, will be holding the group's Dec. 14 holiday party and awards ceremony at Freddie's. And AGLA President Daniel Hays adds that while most of the venue will be reserved for AGLA, anyone can pick up a membership on the spot. Individual dues are $25 per year, $40 for a family.
The AGLA Holiday Party runs from 6 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 14, at Freddie's Beach Bar & Restaurant, 555 S 23 rd St., Arlington. For more information about AGLA, visit them at agla.org.