June 6, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Capital Pride expected to draw 250,000 this weekend
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Pride

Last year's Capital Pride parade. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The city’s 37th annual pride celebration is expected to draw an estimated 100,000 people to Dupont Circle and Logan Circle on Saturday, when the parade kicks off at 4:30 p.m.

The Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the D.C. Center, Maryland Mormons for Marriage Equality, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League and the Human Rights Campaign are among the myriad groups that are scheduled to march. D.C. Council members Jim Graham (D-Ward 1,) Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and David Catania (I-At Large) are among the local officials who are expected to take part.

Up to 250,000 people are expected to attend the annual street festival that will take place on Pennsylvania Avenue between 7th and 3rd Streets, N.W., on Sunday. Deborah Cox will headline the event; while Boqueria, Dirty Martini, Luke’s Lobster, Georgetown Cupcake and 350 Bakery will participate in the first-ever Taste of Pride.

“I’m thrilled with the commitment that our volunteers and our community and our board members have shown with the planning,” said Ryan Bos, executive director of Capital Pride.

Another new component of this year’s pride schedule is a series of three town hall meetings that examined a variety of topics. The D.C. Center hosted a panel at the Hotel Palomar on May 31 that addressed homelessness among LGBT youth in the District. Blade reporter Chris Johnson will moderate a panel of local gay elected officials who will discuss being out in politics at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives at 1201 17th St., N.W., on Thursday. Blade reporter Lou Chibbaro, Jr., will interview Mayor Vincent Gray earlier in the evening. A Whitman-Walker Health-sponsored health forum will take place at the Metropolitan Community Church at 474 Ridge St., N.W., on June 14 from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

“We wanted to find ways to provide more educational opportunities,” said Bos.

First held as a block party outside of what was then the Lambda Rising bookstore on 20th Street, N.W., in 1975; pride has grown into one of the city’s most popular celebrations with nearly a month’s worth of parties, workshops and other events.

Nearly 150 people attended the sixth annual Capital TransPride at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest on May 23. Thousands attended festivities associated with the 21st annual D.C. Black Pride that took place over the Memorial Day weekend. Saint Thomas Parish in Dupont Circle hosted a Sunday Mass for D.C. Latino Pride on June 3; while other workshops and parties took place across the city.

“What you are doing is vitally important because the visibility you are giving to the Latino GLBT community is so well placed,” said D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton during a forum on anti-LGBT employment discrimination that the Latino GLBT History Project organized at the Human Rights Campaign on May 30. Gautam Raghavan and Julie Rodriguez of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement also attended.

“Without you I’m not sure that many Americans would understand the diversity within your own community, just as they don’t understand who Latinos are,” added Norton.

Bos said he and other Capital Pride staff, board members and volunteers look forward to a good parade and festival.

“I’m excited to go into the weekend with a strong team and put on another two events for the city,” he said. “Through this year, I hope folks get more inspired and want to engage. Our hope at Capital Pride is not just about these 15 days, but to be proud 365 days.”

The weather for the weekend’s festivities looks good, with sunny skies predicted and temperatures in the upper 80s.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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