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Miles O'Reilly

Portrait of Miles O'Reilly

Miles O’Reilly – New York, New York

Before this project, I was admittedly quite ignorant on LGBTQ issues. Although my brother is gay, I had had very little interaction with the queer community, particulary within D.C. I’ve walked around AdMo, especially up 18th Street, hundreds of times, and I always knew there was a strong gay presence but never really put much thought into it. When I joined this program and was deciding my beat, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to cover a topic that I was personally connected to.

When I started looking into the LGBTQ nightlife in Washington, I was amazed to find  how little representation for lesbian women there was. Eventually, when I found out about Pitchers/A League of Her Own, I was further surprised to find out that ALOHO was not only the sole lesbian bar in D.C., but one of 21 within the entire United States. I could not believe the fact that this singular institution accounted for about 5% of lesbian nightlife in the entire country.

When I first entered Pitchers/ALOHO, I was surprised at how diverse the clientele was. Obviously, the majority of people were gay men, but there were also women, both queer and straight, and a wide range of ages.

The main challenge I faced was maintaining the balance between doing my job as a reporter but also recognizing that I was a guest in a community that I was not part of. Fortunately, I never felt unwelcomed. Every person I met was so kind and all my interview subjects were both knowledgeable and passionate about the topics we discussed.

Another challenge was getting information out of people, particularly during impromptu man-on-the-street style interviews. Even though D.C. is very accepting and progressive, sexuality is private topic, and for many people, especially when they are inside these private community spaces, are not comfortable talking about their experiences as a queer person in D.C.

I’m still left questioning where exactly the queer community goes from here. One of the reasons we’ve seen so much evolution in the Dupont Circle/AdMo area is due to economic factors. As the city continues to develop, and seemingly, becomes more expensive, how will the queer community react to this change? This question is even more pressing for subsections within the LGBTQ who are some of the most marginalized people in society. When will we see trans-owned bars or clubs? Will we see a resurgence of lesbian representation in nightlife or community spaces? What is the future of the gayborhood?