June 4, 2014 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
250,000 expected for Capital Pride weekend
Capital Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

The 39th annual Capital Pride Parade and Festival will be held this weekend. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

More than 250,000 people from the D.C. metropolitan area and the Mid-Atlantic region are expected to participate in the 39th Annual Capital Pride Parade on Saturday and the annual Capital Pride Festival on Sunday.

The parade and festival in recent years have served as the grand finale to a month of LGBT Pride-related events in the nation’s capital, including the annual Black Pride, Trans Pride, Youth Pride and Latino Pride.

As D.C.’s largest LGBT community event of the year, Sunday’s Pride festival was to include entertainment from nationally recognized headline performers, hundreds of booths representing LGBT organizations and LGBT-friendly groups and businesses, including corporate sponsors.

Several federal and D.C. government agencies were scheduled to set up booths at the festival, including LGBT employee groups with the FBI and the CIA. At least four D.C. government agencies, including the Office of Human Rights and the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking reserved space for booths.

Although the White House isn’t participating in the parade or festival, President Barack Obama submitted an official letter of recognition, which is published in the Pride Guide, Capital Pride’s official publication.

“For generations, courageous lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans have spoken up, come out, and blazed trails for others to do the same,” the president wrote in his letter. “Festivals like Capital Pride bring opportunities to reflect on hard-won progress and the work before us still to forge a more just Nation,” he said.

Among the 170 floats and contingents set to participate in the parade, Capital Pride organizers say they are especially proud that for the first time ever, a U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard contingent was scheduled to march in the parade. The contingent was scheduled to perform its traditional presenting and retiring of the “colors” or U.S. flag at the start and end of the parade.

“We are very pleased that we asked and the Department of Defense agreed to provide us with a Color Guard,” said Bernie Delia, chair of the Capital Pride board of directors.

“It’s a wonderful step forward for everyone involved – for the country, for those LGBT members of the military,” he said. “I think it is a fantastic development for everyone.”

Former Minnesota Vikings player Chris Kluwe, an LGBT ally, was scheduled to serve as grand marshal for the parade.

Similar to past years, the festival on Sunday will be held on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., between 3rd and 7th streets, with the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop to the main stage.  The festival exhibit hours are from noon to 7 p.m.

As a new feature this year, events on the main “Capitol” stage, including a dance party, will continue until sunset at about 9 p.m., according to an announcement by Capital Pride.

Among those scheduled to appear on that stage throughout the day were headliner performers Rita Ora, Karmin, Bonnie McKee, Betty Who and DJ Cassidy.

“We’re looking forward to an absolutely wonderful weekend,” Delia said. “We’ve got a phenomenal lineup for the entertainment on Sunday. And we’re thrilled that Chris Kluwe is our grand marshal for the parade.”

The parade was scheduled to kick off Saturday, June 7, at 4:30 p.m. at its traditional starting point of 22nd and P streets, N.W. Similar to last year, it will travel east on P Street to Dupont Circle, where it winds around the circle to New Hampshire Avenue and heads to R Street, where it will turn right on 17th Street.

With thousands of spectators expected to line 17th Street, where several gay bars and restaurants are located, the parade will pass along 17th Street then turn left on P Street, where it will travel past the official reviewing stand at 15th and P.

From there, the parade will continue along P Street to 14th Street, where it will turn left and travel north to its endpoint at 14th and R streets, N.W.

According to information released by Capital Pride, the lesbian group Dykes on Bikes of Washington, D.C. was designated as the lead contingent of the parade. Contingents of the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C., the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, the Arlington County Police gay and lesbian liaison division and George Mason University Police were scheduled as the next contingents.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and at least eight members of the D.C. City Council, including Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and mayoral candidates David Catania (I-At-Large) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), were scheduled to lead their own parade contingents.

And at least eight candidates running for seats on the D.C. Council as well as Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who’s running for a U.S. House seat, were scheduled to participate in the parade.

Visit capitalpride.org for more information.

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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