We last featured John Aravosis, the outspoken civil rights journalist and founder of AMERICAblog, on our cover seventeen years ago. His 2004 interview with Sean Bugg centered around the gay marriage debate and an attempt to hold then Vice-President Dick Cheney‘s openly lesbian daughter, Mary, accountable for her silence on the vitally important social issue.
“I thought it was a great idea to get the community to write public letters to Mary and post them on the web,” he said discussing his controversial and effective website, DearMary.com, adding, “anybody who underestimates how hateful Washington politicians can be to gay people is a fool.”
In the ensuing years, tremendous progress has been made, though many of our battles haven’t changed all that much: they’ve just shifted — think “religious freedom” — and are slightly more nuanced, as our detractors twist the Constitution to suit their own hate-filled agendas. And, at the moment, we have a much larger national fish to fry, with a president who won’t concede an election he clearly and most definitively lost.
So we thought it was a good time to revisit John and get his opinion on a variety of topics. This second interview — one of the longest in the magazine’s history — is more personal but no less provocative than our initial 2004 foray.
“There’s a sizable percentage of the population worldwide that kind of likes fascism,” Aravosis tells Senior Editor John Riley. “They like a strong man telling them what to think, what to do. They want somebody who is willing to be a bully, and they don’t really care what the policies are….
“Trump has got to be delegitimized and it’s going to take years,” he continues, suggesting the nation find a unique way to memorializing Trump’s miserable, failed tenure, one that, through either ineptitude or lack of caring (take your pick) engendered an inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has so far killed more than a quarter million Americans during his watch.
“When Reagan left office, Grover Norquist set up a campaign to raise money to name something to honor Reagan in every congressional district in the country,” says Aravosis. “That’s why you’ve got so many bridges and highways and rest stops named after Reagan. We need the opposite with Trump. We need some kind of project that, literally in every county in the country or every district, reinforces just how bad the Trump years were…[like] the Trump Waste Sewage Plant.”
Our art director Todd Franson did the stunning portraiture for the issue, including an epic, haunting opening spread that eerily calls to mind a certain fictional dystopian future.
Also in this issue: I chat with Troy Iwata, an engaging new face in the LGBTQ acting community, who currently stars as Langston, gay brother to the titular character of Lily in Netflix’s sweetly original young adult romance Dash & Lily.
Doug Rule, meanwhile, talks with Ann Friedman, founder of the new and exciting Planet Word Museum in D.C. “In every exhibit in the museum,” she says, “we’ve taken great pains to make sure that, whoever you are, you will see yourself represented in a book, a song, a poem, a speech at Planet Word. The diversity of the planet is represented here.”
We also take a look at the traditional holiday offings Hillwood has in store, the Adrienne Kennedy Play Festival at Round House, and a creative audio project from the ingenious Edge of the Universe Players.
We’re going to take a break from publishing a magazine over Thanksgiving so that the staff can celebrate (safely and virtually) with their friends and loved ones, but we will be active online. So please be sure to check MetroWeekly.com daily or sign up for our emails to get the best stories delivered to your inbox.
And if you’re not yet following us on Instagram, you’re about to miss out on a truly unique blast from the past. Think 1980….
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I hope you all have a Safe & Happy Thanksgiving! See you next week.
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