Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton were among the local elected officials who took part in the city’s 37th annual pride parade on Saturday.
“I love this parade,” Gray told the Blade while marching near the Hotel Palomar as he threw beads to the crowd that had gathered along P Street, N.W. “I’m here every year. I wouldn’t miss this.”
D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) noted that this year’s pride is the 34th that he has attended.
“It’s a great day,” he said. “It’s a great day for our community in Washington.”
Councilman Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) agreed.
“You can see by the turnout how excited people are,” he said. “It really highlights the contributions of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community here in the District of Columbia.”
The parade took place one day after former D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown pleaded guilty to bank fraud and a misdemeanor campaign finance charge. The Council is expected to elect his successor on Wednesday.
“There’s a procedure; we’ll follow it,” said Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3,) who became the body’s acting chair after Kwame Brown resigned last week. “I’ve called a meeting. The acting chair and acting chair pro tempore have to be from among the four at-large people and I think there’s a consensus that has formed around two of them and we’ll decide on Wednesday. Everything is smooth, everything will go forward.”
It is widely expected that the Council will elect Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) as it’s next chair. Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large) remains the Northwest Democrat’s most serious challenger.
“We’ll see what happens on Wednesday,” Mendelson told Blade when asked about the prospect that he could succeed Kwame Brown. “But you know I’ve talked to councilmembers and I think we’re coming together.”
Councilmember Michael Brown (I-At Large) was quick to note his support of Mendelson as the two men stood among their supporters along 23rd Street, N.W., before the parade began. “He has my vote,” he told the Blade. “I hope to serve with him as chairman pro tempore as well.”
Graham said he also expects his fellow councilmembers will elect Mendelson.
“I think he has the votes,” he said. “We’ll have to see where it goes.”
Gray also attended the Capital Pride Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., on Sunday.
In spite of temperatures in the low 90s, organizers said more than an estimated 250,000 people attended the annual event. The D.C. Office of Human Rights, Equality Virginia and Immigration Equality were among the hundreds of groups that participated.
Capital Pride spokesperson Missy Toms told the Blade that attendance at both the parade and the festival were “considerably higher” this year.
“We had an amazing crew of volunteers this year. They worked very hard,” she said. “The parade volunteers kept the crowds back and helped us end the parade 15 minutes early. The festival volunteers were enthusiastic and plentiful.”
Deborah Cox headlined the festival; while the first-ever Taste of Pride that featured five D.C. restaurants was among the several new features and events at this year’s pride. “We were very pleased with their success,” said Toms. “We plan to refine them and bring them back next year.”