A dissident group that is calling for radical changes in the way D.C.’s Capital Pride Parade and Festival are carried out this year is calling on its supporters to “pack” the Capital Pride Alliance’s May 8 board of directors meeting to voice their support for the proposed changes.
Members of No Justice No Pride, who describe themselves as a local coalition of LGBT activists and organizations, have released a list of demands that include calling on Capital Pride to eliminate corporate sponsorship of the Pride events and ban corporations and D.C. police from participating in the parade and festival set for June 10-11.
The Capital Pride board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 8, at National City Christian Church at 5 Thomas Circle.
Longtime lesbian activist Cathy Renna, who is serving as a communications consultant for Capital Pride, said the 17-member Capital Pride Alliance board is looking forward to what it expects to be a constructive discussion by a diverse group of people.
“The purpose of the meeting is to create a community dialogue and to provide any information that we can and just continue the conversation about the issues that have been brought up by the No Justice No Pride group and others,” Renna told the Washington Blade.
“We’re encouraging anyone in the community to come,” she said. “I believe there will be many people who support the Capital Pride Alliance and will want to talk about these issues as well. So we’re hoping for a good dialogue and a good conversation and an opportunity to talk about the issues.”
The meeting was scheduled to take place less than two weeks after the Capital Pride board created a stir by requesting and receiving the resignation of volunteer executive producer Bryan Pruitt because of comments he made about transgender people in a May 2016 article in the conservative blog RedState.
The board issued a statement on the Capital Pride Facebook page implying Pruitt’s comments were inappropriate, saying Capital Pride’s board, staff, and volunteers “have zero tolerance for transphobia in any form.”
The board’s action seeking Pruitt’s resignation came after No Justice No Pride posted an excerpt of Pruitt’s one-year-old article on social media and demanded that Capital Pride “fire” him.
Pruitt has since told the Blade he is a strong supporter of the transgender community and of full rights for transgender people. He said his article was written about the 2016 presidential election and how the Democratic Party and the “gay left” hurt Hillary Clinton’s candidacy by bringing up controversial transgender issues.
No Justice No Pride, meanwhile, has said it plans to aggressively push its demands for changing the Capital Pride agenda at the May 8 board meeting.
“We’re showing up at the Capital Pride board meeting to remind the board members what D.C.’s queer and trans community actually looks like,” the coalition states on its Facebook page. “Bring your friends, bring your frustrations, bring your ideas. Let’s fill the room.”
Capital Pride Board President Bernie Delia has said that while the board believes it was necessary to seek Pruitt’s resignation it will not agree to the other demands by No Justice No Pride such as ending corporate sponsorships or banning D.C. police from participating in Pride events.
Earl Fowlkes, one of the lead organizers of D.C.’s annual Black Pride events, which take place during the Memorial Day weekend, said no one has approached Black Pride about discontinuing corporate sponsors or banning D.C. police from Black Pride events.
He said Black Pride traditionally has had only a few corporate sponsors. He said members of the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit have attended Black Pride events as volunteers to help ensure the safety of participants. Fowlkes said Black Pride has no plans to discontinue its corporate sponsors or police participation.