“Family values” Republicans in Congress fume when gay people demand access to the conservative institution of marriage. But they don’t seem to mind playing host to gay debauchery.
A local gay group called Friends Being Friends will stage a “Cherry Jubilee” party on Sunday, April 14 in the Rayburn House Office Building. The $25 afternoon event, which will include brunch, open bar, and DJ (but no dancing), will cap off a weekend of Jubilee festivities. Organizers have dubbed Sunday’s bash the “Capitol Hill Recovery Brunch.”
Anti-gay Republicans in Rayburn, including Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Jim Lightfoot (R-Iowa), hadn’t heard about the event, according to their flacks, who wouldn’t venture to comment on the brunch. (“Is this something the congressman is being invited to?” asked the confused Lightfoot press secretary.) A spokesman for House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t return messages, and even excitable Rep. Bob Dornan (R-Calif.) didn’t take a reporter’s bait.
Congressional officials say any group can stage an event in House office space, as long as a member sponsors it. After he was approached by a friend promoting Cherry Jubilee, gay GOP Rep. Steve Gunderson (Wis.) helped secure a Capitol Hill site for the brunch—initially a Longworth Building room, but now the cavernous Rayburn foyer. A spokesman for the usually buttoned-down Gunderson emphasizes that all proceeds are going to local AIDS organizations.
Conservatives might need a recovery brunch themselves if they knew more about the weekend fête. Cherry Jubilee will bring a New York–style gay “circuit” party to a Commerce Department auditorium on Saturday. Circuit parties are all-night—and usually drug-infested—gay dances that attract as many as 5,000 gay men, many of whom travel from city to city for events such as New York’s Black Party and Montreal’s Black and Blue Ball. The inaugural Cherry Jubilee, sponsored by American Airlines and the D.C. lobbying firm Hill & Knowlton, among others, expects 1,700 guests for the Saturday-night bacchanal. —John Cloud