June 2, 2010 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Soccer fans, meet the drag queens

Leaders of the annual Capital Pride parade and a first-of-its-kind U.S. festival for the 2010 World Cup international soccer tournament say they are confident the two events won’t interfere with one another, despite some geographic overlap.

The World Cup event, called Soccer in the Circle, will take place inside Dupont Circle on June 12, the same day that the Capital Pride parade will travel along the circle’s perimeter as 10,000 people walk in the LGBT parade or watch from the sidewalks.

Michael Lipin, a Soccer in the Circle co-organizer, said he expects several thousand soccer fans, including many from nearby foreign embassies, to flock to Dupont Circle to watch one or more of the World Cup games on two giant video screens positioned there.

But he said the soccer event is scheduled to end about 4:30 p.m. — two hours before the Capital Pride parade is scheduled to begin.

“We don’t see any problem because our final broadcast ends about 4:20,” he said. “Some of our people may stay for the Pride parade.”

Dyana Mason, executive director of the group that organizes the Capital Pride parade, said she agreed with Lipin’s assessment that the two events would coincide with each other smoothly and amicably.

“They said this was planned with our parade in mind,” said Mason, who has spoken with Soccer in the Circle organizers. “I think everything is fine. I’m looking forward to the soccer fans staying to see the parade.”

Similar to past years, the Capital Pride parade is scheduled to kick off at 23rd and P streets, N.W., where it will travel along P Street to Dupont Circle. The parade route travels nearly halfway around the circle to New Hampshire Avenue, where it proceeds to R and 17th streets. From 17th Street, it heads to P Street again, where it turns south on 14th Street and ends at 14th and N streets near Thomas Circle.

The largest crowds viewing the parade traditionally stand next to and inside Dupont Circle. Parade and Soccer in the Circle organizers acknowledged that if the two events took place concurrently, one could interfere with the other.

But Lipin said he was certain that most of the people gathered in the circle to watch the soccer games live on the video screens will have dispersed by the time the parade approaches Dupont Circle. The USA-England game, which is expected to draw the largest crowds, is scheduled to begin at around 10 a.m.

With South Africa hosting this year’s World Cup games, the South African Embassy in Washington has endorsed the Soccer in the Circle event. An embassy spokesperson said the embassy would have a presence at the festival.

Eddie Pope, a highly acclaimed soccer player and member of the U.S. team in three World Cup tournaments, is scheduled to speak at the Soccer in the Circle event and is expected to attract a sizable crowd of followers.

D.C. gay activist Barrett Brick, a longtime soccer fan and supporter of the D.C. United professional soccer team, said that although a “handful” of soccer fans at the Dupont Circle festival might be uncomfortable with an LGBT parade, “many more would be happy to watch and perhaps even join in.”

He noted that the Screaming Eagles, D.C. United’s oldest fan club, of which he’s a member and which is “quite gay-friendly,” also is backing the Soccer in the Circle festival.

The Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted to support the Soccer in the Circle festival, according to gay ANC Commissioner Mike Silverstein.

“There was never any question that these events would conflict,” he said.

The Capital Pride parade takes place one day before the annual Capital Pride festival, which is to be held along Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., near the U.S. Capitol. More information about the parade and festival is online at capitalpride.org.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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