Photo Friday: In Washington, DC, health care does what policy makers can’t…until later

This is not a partisan or a political post, it’s an observation on the interplay between policy makers and health care in leading health in society.

Health care as a sector is usually targeted for its inefficiency and poor quality, for its designing away of hope…..and then scenes like this happen.

The Photo

2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5249
They see us. Whitman Walker Health lit in the colors of the transgender pride flag. 2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5249 (View on
The image is of the iconic Whitman Walker Health (@WhitmanWalker) on 14th Street NW in Washington, DC, lit in the colors of the transgender pride flag, immediately following 2017 Capital TransPride, of which Whitman Walker is a presenting sponsor. (See: Because Life is Amazing and We Can: My 5th Capital TransPride )

Given the location, in one of the busiest corridors in our nation’s capital, the sight is as stunning and meaningful as was the lighting of the White House in the colors of the LGBTQ Pride flag in 2015.

Not the first time Whitman Walker preceded policy makers

This scene immediately reminded me of this one, in December, 2007, when I snapped this photograph, just a few blocks north, on World AIDS day:

Whitman Walker Clinic - Miracles Happen
Whitman Walker Clinic – Miracles Happen (View on
Remarkably, my thoughts from that moment are here on this blog (See: Photo Friday: Miracles Happen ), and they relate the feeling present at the time, that health care would have to lead our policy makers down the street, because they weren’t going to.

2016.12.01 World AIDS Day at The White House, Washington, DC USA 09223
2016.12.01 World AIDS Day at The White House, Washington, DC USA 09223 (View on

3 years later, a beautifully designed red ribbon appeared on the White House for the first time, on World AIDS Day, and it would adorn the House every year after that (and I’ve photographed it most years, it’s that stunning).

Whitman Walker has the longest track record for providing compassionate health care to the LGBTQ community – all the letters. And in this location, which for many years was forgotten and without hope as Washington, DC struggled after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, and then the drug and HIV epidemics that followed.

And then policy makers caught up

Prohibition of Discrimination in Health Insurance based on Gender Identity or Expression 38007
Prohibition of Discrimination in Health Insurance based on Gender Identity or Expression 38007 (View on

In 2014, Washington, DC Mayor Vince Gray banned exclusions for transgender person care in health insurance. He went even farther – requiring that medically supervised, science-based transgender person care be covered as a requirement to sell insurance in the District of Columbia.

It was an incredible day – the policy was landmark not just for Washington, DC, but the entire nation, which is slowly catching up to Washington, DC in LGBTQ-supportive health policy. Washington, DC is still the national leader.

At the time we lamented that mainstream health care was incapable of being a leader in health.

There are always leaders in health in health care

Several of us hoped that the White House would follow-up the 2015 lighting by lighting with the transgender pride flag in 2016 after the series of health and life promoting policy actions undertaken by the Obama administration.

This didn’t happen. So we wait, and watch as Whitman Walker and every health system in Washington, DC innovates in LGBTQ health (because it’s required by policy).

One day policy makers will catch up again.

It’s happened before. πŸ™‚

Celebrating a new America #lovewins 58190
Next time, in the transgender pride flag colors. Until then, we have Whitman Walker (View on

Before it becomes DC’s grandest Apple Store, it Celebrates LGBTQ Heroes

2017.05.13 #HeroesGala2017 Capital Pride Washington DC, USA 4821
2017.05.13 #HeroesGala2017 Capital Pride Washington DC, USA 4821 (View on
The historic Carnegie Library in Washington, DC, is about to get a very innovative tenant in Apple, Inc – one that celebrates people who change the world. It’s therefore fitting that it was the location for 2017’s Heroes Gala.

2017.05.13 #HeroesGala2017 Capital Pride Washington DC, USA 4734
2017.05.13 #HeroesGala2017 Capital Pride Washington DC, USA 4734 (View on

I attended (and took these photographs) because Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States (@KPMidAtlantic) is a Platinum Sponsor of 2017 Capital Pride (@CapitalPrideDC) and Capital TransPride (@TransprideDC). And because I am a member of this community. This will be my 5th Capital TransPride, which I’ll post about separately.

Capital Pride’s Heroes Gala, hosted by Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and with Major Event Sponsors Hilton and UPS, honors the unapologetically proud individuals, leaders, and activists who have furthered the causes important to the LGBTQ community in the national capital region and beyond. See:

Being Treated as Lesser, Doing More

I am still working my way through Tim Ferris’ Tools of Titans, and this passage about Ryan Holiday (@RyanHoliday) and Ben Franklin caught my eye:

Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the roomβ€” until you change that with results. There is an old saying, β€œSay little, do much.” What we really ought to do is update and apply a version of that to our early approach. Be lesser, do more.

Ferriss, Timothy (2016-12-06). Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (pp. 337-338). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

There’s a key difference here. People in this community don’t have the option of being lesser, it is foisted on them every day.

And yet, the accomplishments are as grand as any that will fill a new store (or 100 of them).

A Flashback to the American Medical Association 1991 – “Let them Die”

Ruby Corado (@CasaRubyDC) reminded us that the street that the Carnegie Library sits on, K Street, NW, in downtown Washington, DC, was, not long ago the place where transgender people were harassed by police and moved to other parts of the city or arrested.

On this night, though, police officers, including officers who are transgender themselves, protected us, so that everyone could enjoy the beauty of the Library and our nation’s capital.

Ruby’s reminder caused me to have a flashback to my own history, when the world was a less loving place.

I was in Chicago last week for the Innovation Learning Network meeting, and our group dinner was held at Buddy Guy’s (@BuddyGuys), which happens to be across the street from the Chicago Hilton and Towers. This is the regular location of the American Medical Association’s annual meeting.

At my very first (and last) annual meeting in Chicago in 1991, the entrance to the hotel was blocked by protesters angry with the American Medical Association because of its stance on persons with HIV. I will never forget to this day what I, as a medical student, heard from the podium from a fellow medical student that day. He said, “A group known as ‘ACT-UP’ or ‘AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power’ is outside. When you walk out of the hotel, take off your badges and do not engage.” What he meant, in doctor speak was “let them die.”

I showed photographs of this time in front of the hotel from my TED talk with Regina Holliday. At the time, it felt like being imprisoned within the profession. However, that didn’t last long. Because that moment created a generation of physicians dedicated to changing everything, and they now are the leaders of those same organizations. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, people should be careful when they work to design against hope…

More to Be Done

I bring this up because this is what’s being created right now in 2017. A society that directly or indirectly designs against hope, life, HIV prevention, employment, freedom from incarceration for the LGBTQ community is creating a generation of super-leaders, who will change everything.

For as much as they say, they do very much more, and as much as the world works to make them lesser, more of the world learns to love better as a result. It’s how the human spirit works.

Rest of the photos below, take a look to see what communities controlling their own destiny looks like πŸ™‚ .

What I learned at DC Tech Meetup

2017.03.29 DC Tech Meetup, Washington, DC USA 01978
2017.03.29 DC Tech Meetup, Washington, DC USA 01978 (View on

Since this blog is about what I learned yesterday.

Chris Breene (@GoForTopherB), who I had the good fortune of meeting after the bad fortune of Jess Jacob’s unnecessary death, puts a lot of effort with the @DCTechMeetup team into making this happen.

And this time it happened in the historic Howard Theatre (@HowardTheatre), a great space, in a great neighborhood, in the best city in the world.

  • There are more analytics platforms than ever
  • Everyone is making money off of Twitter, except Twitter the company (why is that?)
  • CRMs come in different shapes and sizes, some better than others – and it’s the side comments made during the demos that inform those understandings πŸ™‚ .
  • Whether in tech or not people are drawn to the future, and why wouldn’t they be, this is Washington, DC…

Rest of my photos below (all @CreativeCommons licensed of course), great job Chris and team.

Photo Friday: With the Spirits and Ancestors, Washington, DC USA

β€œIf you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future*. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” (probably misattributed to Lao Tzu, I got it from Tim Ferriss)

2017.03.04 DC People and Places 00400
Vietnam War Memorial – 2017.03.04 DC People and Places 00400 (View on
Washington, DC, USA has a natural release valve for the times when people need to be in the present – you don’t have to walk very far to spend time with the spirits and the ancestors.

And then, reliably, you can walk back toward the city to see the future being born. Pretty much every day πŸ™‚ .

*Regarding the quote above. Anxiety is not always a bad thing; it’s related to its cousin eagerness, driven by the embrace of curiosity. Glass 3/4 full always.

Rest of the series here + a few virtual reality shots. We’ll see if photography embraces this trend or not. In the meantime… living in the future.

Photo Friday: Brookland, Washington, DC USA – An amazing journey through American History

2017.02.12 Brookland, Washington, DC USA  00693
2017.02.12 Brookland, Washington, DC USA 00693
“Charles Richard Drew Memorial Bridge
Named in honor of
Dr. Charles Richard Drew, 1904-1950
esteemed citizen
of the
District of Columbia
athlete, scholar, surgeon, and
scientist whose discoveries in
blood preservation saved
thousands of lives.”

(View on
This week’s photograph is from the historic Brookland Neighborhood, in Washington, DC. I was asked by the team at @Urbanturf_DC to go take a look with my camera (I don’t do commissioned work, this is an exception, as I’ve described previously).

The photograph above is from the Charles R. Drew Memorial Bridge, in Brookland (of course), where he once resided.

Many in the medical field know of Charles Drew as the namesake of some of the most important medical institutions in the United States today. And like many who lived (and live today) in Washington, DC, led in a world that didn’t want them to.

As the most prominent African-American in the field (of blood storage and transfusion), Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, and resigned his position with American Red Cross, which maintained the policy until 1950.

Brookland is an amazing journey through American History and the people who saved thousands of lives through medical science, helped create a Jewish State (Israel), changed entertainment, prevented Washington, DC from being turned into a 12-lane freeway, including most of present day Shaw, U Street, and Dupont Circle. They happened to be African American.

This was the plan for the neighborhoods of Washington, DC in 1970. (source)
Rest of the photos from the series are below. All taken via #activetransportation, I can’t believe I get to walk here πŸ™‚ .

Photos from Washington, DC Feb 4-5, 2017 (Lady Gaga homage at White House)

2017.02.03 WERK in Solidarity- Celebrating Intersectionality & Resistance Washington, DC USA 00355
2017.02.03 WERK in Solidarity- Celebrating Intersectionality & Resistance Washington, DC USA 00355 (View on

With special Lady Gaga scene in front of the White House:

2017.02.03 WERK in Solidarity- Celebrating Intersectionality & Resistance Washington, DC USA 3667

All photographs are Creative Commons (@CreativeCommons) licensed, feel free to use.

You can access the albums directly here and here.