Metro Weekly

GLAA announces recipients of 2018 Distinguished Service Awards

LGBTQ activist group honors Check It Enterprises, Councilmember Mary Cheh, and Whitman-Walker's Don Blanchon

Members of the Check Its work on various fashion designs. – Photo: Check It Enterprises, via Facebook.

The GLAA of Washington, D.C. has announced it will honor Check It Enterprises, D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), and Whitman-Walker Executive Director Don Blanchon with its 2018 Distinguished Service Awards.

The awards, which are given out annually to individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the local LGBTQ community, will be presented to the recipients at GLAA’s 47th Anniversary Reception. The reception will be held at Policy Restaurant and Lounge on Thursday, April 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Previous award winners include activist, historian, and poet Jose Gutierrez, National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling, Director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights Mónica Palacio, Earl Fowlkes, the president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity, Sheila Alexander-Reid, Cornelius Baker, and Metro Weekly publisher Randy Shulman. Special awards have also been given to former Mayor Vincent Gray, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and former Council Chairman Linda Cropp.

Check It Enterprises is a company founded by LGBTQ youth members of the Check It Gang, who banded together after being bullied or attacked for their identities. The Check Its eventually went on to start their own clothing line and opened up their own business in Anacostia, where they make and sell clothes. Their headquarters is also used to host various programs or classes for LGBTQ youth and young adults.

Cheh, the longtime Ward 3 member of the Council, is being honored for her authorship of the District’s bill to ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors in 2013 and the Death with Dignity Act of 2015, which allows people to make their own choices regarding end-of-life palliative care. She has been supportive of LGBTQ issues during her time on the Council. She is being honored this year for legislation to require people who are subject to temporary protective orders to turn over their guns, and to create a High Risk Team, a model used to predict when cases of domestic violence have the potential to escalate into homicide, and take steps to prevent that escalation.

Blanchon, as executive director of Whitman-Walker Health for the past 12 years, is being honored for his commitment to ensuring the health center provides affirming healthcare to gender and sexual minorities in the District, as well as legal and other support services.

GLAA’s 47th Anniversary Reception is on Thursday, April 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Policy Restaurant and Lounge, 1904 14th St. NW. Tickets are $50 and can be purchases online at For more information, call John Becker at 920-265-6023.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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