Pride weekend in D.C. served as a powerful reminder of the work ahead for the LGBT movement on several fronts.
The Saturday parade was interrupted twice by No Justice No Pride protesters who want Capital Pride to rethink their corporate sponsors, to ban police from the parade and to diversify its board. Whatever your view of that group and its demands, their actions to disrupt the parade recall the very origins of Pride itself in protesting police harassment at the Stonewall Inn. Some contingents were delayed as police re-routed the parade around the protests but it remained a peaceful protest and no arrests were reported.
No Justice No Pride claims Capital Pride organizers have rebuffed their requests for changes to the celebration, which triggered their protest. While we ought to encourage and applaud the D.C. police for both participating in the festivities and for protecting them, there have been legitimate concerns raised about some of Capital Pride’s corporate sponsors. And Capital Pride organizers are listening and have pledged to review the vetting process for 2018’s celebration, a welcome move.
Following No Justice No Pride’s actions on Saturday, many angry parade spectators took to social media to denounce the group. Again, regardless of what you think of their tactics, it’s unfortunate that members of our own community had to resort to civil disobedience just to be heard. Part of “resisting” the Trump administration’s attacks on all that is civil must be that we stick together. Make no mistake that this president seeks to divide and conquer. His supporters would revel in news that divisions within the LGBTQ community somehow ruined Pride. When this administration invokes the Pulse massacre, it’s not to sympathize with us, rather it’s to stoke division and suggest LGBTQ Americans should fear Muslims and support Trump’s unconstitutional travel ban.
And so the parade served as a reminder of the work ahead within the community to address issues that were pushed to the backburner during the years of fighting for marriage equality, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and other marquee issues.
Sunday brought the Equality March, another reminder of our work ahead. Organizers estimated up to 80,000 joined the march, which proceeded past the White House to the National Mall on a blisteringly hot day. Cries of “lock him up” and “this is what democracy looks like” rang out sporadically. There were some shortcomings. The crowd wasn’t as fired up as you might expect; the heat sapped many who dispersed at the end of the route rather than stick around to hear the speeches. Perhaps more would have stayed to listen if some bigger names had been brought in to fire up the crowd. Mainstream media coverage seemed scant, a missed opportunity for greater awareness of our issues.
But the sight of all those proudly out LGBTQ people and our allies marching together proved stirring and inspirational. Let’s hope the younger generation is moved to action. After growing up during eight years of the supportive and pioneering Obama administration, that generation is now grappling with the crushing disappointment of the election result and the attacks of a hostile White House.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, many of us were celebrating eight years of progress at Obama’s final White House Pride reception. This year, many of those Obama officials, including former top adviser Valerie Jarrett, gathered on a steamy D.C. bar rooftop to hear speeches and reminisce about the good old days at a party on Saturday.
As a remarkable Pride season comes to a close, a few acknowledgments. First, to our hard-working Blade staff for pulling off comprehensive coverage of the festivities and for organizing and selling a series of successful events, including the launch of our Pride Pils beer in conjunction with DC Brau. Thanks also to the hilarious Kate Clinton, whom we hosted at a special performance on Friday night. A big thank-you also to our advertisers and sponsors; without their support none of this would be possible.
That’s a wrap on another Pride season. Can we nap now?
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.