Community Profile: Marvin Bowser

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Marvin Bowser enjoying and discussing his koi pond and dozen fish.

There are many truths about Marvin Bowser. He is openly gay, a self-proclaimed avid photographer and a devoted gardener. He served in the Air Force for 10 years. He subsequently worked another six years for the Navy. Afterwards, he pursued opportunities in the private sector, working at a defense contractor for an 18 years. Bowser has also held the distinction of being a Hillcrest Community Citizens Association board member for 10 years and managing the association’s garden club for a decade.

Lover of Hillcrest
The Hillcrest neighborhood, filled with its tree-lined suburban streets, is sometimes referred as the secret jewel of Southeast and one of the most desired communities in Ward 7 if not the entire District. Hillcrest is known for its majestic Colonial and Tudor single-family houses as well as craftsman bungalows and cozy ramblers. Here Bowser, a native Washingtonian, has lived for the past 21 years, since Thanksgiving 1997.

“I love living here east of the river. I love the neighborhood. It is so accessible to everything. I love my house with the 40-foot pool and my koi pond that I built three years ago with my godson. I love being able to say ‘Hi’ to my neighbors and getting a ‘Hi’ back. Hillcrest is a very stable community.”

Bowser, 57, who is the sibling of DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, appears cool, calm and collected on one side, but on another he is a proud man who enjoys his current overall life and the comfortability his past life has afforded him. He is still discovering things to add to his repertoire, like being a working thespian and a gregarious neighbor.

Jimmie Williams, president of the Penn Branch Citizens Civic Association for the last two terms and the chair of the Ward 7 Democrats, credits Bowser for helping him decide to live in Southeast.

“Actually, he introduced me to the neighborhood 20 years ago when he was doing garden shows and heading the club. I think Marvin is one of the strongest advocates for East of the River and Hillcrest we have. He doesn’t just talk about Hillcrest, he arranges parties and gets neighbors socializing.” Bowser added, “I have a 1929 custom-style bungalow. When I bought this house, I didn’t want to have to move again because the house got too small. This community is perfect and convenient to everything. I worked in Virginia and got to work easily. It is also very accessible to downtown and practically everywhere. People aspire to live in Hillcrest. That’s the truth.”

Marvin Bowser and his 40-foot pool behind his Hillcrest home.

Out of the Closet East of the River
“I was a closeted gay for many years, and though as a civilian it wasn’t as treacherous (as in the military), there was tension,” Bowser said. “When my then partner and I moved here to East of the River, we were welcomed immediately. It wasn’t as you may think. Not day one, but day two a lady knocked on our door introducing herself as a neighbor down the street and welcomed us to the community. The only issue, and it really wasn’t an issue but an … interest, was, would we come into the neighborhood and become involved. My ex is a marketer and he attracted other LGBTQs to the area, and now there are a lot in the neighborhood. Hillcrest has been friendly and inviting to me.”

The Mayor: My Baby Sister
Bowser is both passionate and protective of his baby sister, the highest elected politician in Washington, DC, and the city’s eighth mayor, who turned 46 on August 2, 2018, as well as the latest addition to the Bowser bunch, his niece, Miranda Elizabeth Bowser. Miranda is the newborn girl that the mayor adopted in May.

“It is lovely having a baby in the family again,” Bowser said about the two-month-old. “There were five of us growing up, not counting mom and dad. Muriel was the youngest, the baby. I have a twin brother Martin who is older than me. We grew up in Ward 5 and lived across the street from a wooded area. We played hard and ran wild in the summer. I grew up in an age when any adult could spank a child. It was definitely quieter times and a lot more family-centric.”

His sister is only the second woman in DC’s history to be elected mayor, after Sharon Pratt Kelly, and is likely to be the first to win a second term since she did not have any high-profile Democratic contenders challenging her for the primaries.

“There have been no credible candidates that have come forth to challenge her because Muriel has done so much and done it well. She laid out goals and marched down that list. Things like extending the summer youth program that one-time Hillcrest resident and former DC Mayor Marion Barry started (and officially naming it in the late mayor’s honor) as well as helping the unemployed find jobs are all accomplishments.”

An Exciting Future
Today Bowser intends to continue living his authentic life by traveling to exotic locales like southern Africa and honing his acting chops by exploring interesting, inspiring and irresistible projects for future roles. He has worked on such venues and vehicles as “DC Black Pride: Answering the Call,” a documentary tracing the roots of the District’s LGBTQ community that was produced by the DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music & Entertainment. Bowser appeared on one 2018 episode of the “Dead of Night” drama series (as a courtroom judge) and recently was spotlighted in the music video “Backwoods and Perfume,” a song by District hip-hop artists Raheem DeVaughn and Wes Felton, collectively known as CrossRhodes. Bowser’s exterior house and inviting pool are prominently featured in the video, which is viewed by internet.

“This acting is still new to enough to me,” Bowser remarked. “I am enjoying it. I started acting in high school. I didn’t do much until I was asked to do a cameo in ‘Davenport Diaries’ which started in December 2015 and ended in 2016.” The episodes can be viewed on YouTube and “Triangle,” the web series. According to information obtained from Bowser’s website (www.marvinbowser.com), the “Davenport Diaries” is an LGBTQ-themed soap opera based in the District of Columbia with Bowser playing the Davenport patriarch, Barron Davenport.

“Although I am open to various genres, I will probably focus on mysteries,” Bowser said. “A friend told me recently that I have comedic talent. I don’t know about that. I must maintain a certain level of dignity,” he said laughing slightly. “I won’t do anything ungentlemanly!”