June 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
‘Kameny Way’ ceremony highlights Capital Pride events

A two-block section of 17th Street, N.W., in the heart of one of the city’s most visible gay neighborhoods was to be renamed this week as “Frank Kameny Way” in honor of the veteran gay activist credited with founding the city’s LGBT civil rights movement.

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty was scheduled to preside over a ceremony and the installation of a new street sign Thursday to officially put in place the Frank Kameny Way street designation.

The ceremony was to be part of a long list of events associated with Capital Pride, the city’s annual LGBT community celebration.

The Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which has jurisdiction over the 17th Street strip near Dupont Circle, initiated the Kameny street designation earlier this year.

According to ANC Commissioner Mike Silverstein, the commission voted unanimously to ask the city to designate as Frank Kameny Way a section of 17th Street between P and R streets, N.W.

“We — and everybody else we talked to — thought this was long overdue,” Silverstein said.

Kameny began organizing efforts to secure gay civil rights in the late 1950s after he lost his job as a civilian astronomer with the U.S. Army Map Service when authorities discovered he was gay. He founded the Mattachine Society of Washington in the early 1960s, the city’s first LGBT group. He is credited with playing a leading role in shaping the local and national LGBT rights movement for the next 40 years.

In other Capital Pride-related news, lead organizer Dyana Mason said plans were proceeding smoothly for the annual parade’s kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at 23rd and P streets, N.W.

Gay activist and former Lambda Rising bookstore owner Deacon Maccubbin is the parade’s grand marshal. Maccubbin is credited with starting the city’s first annual LGBT pride event in 1975 as a block party near Dupont Circle.

The parade will travel east on P Street past Dupont Circle and continue along New Hampshire Avenue, R Street, and 17th Street, where participants will walk along the newly designated Frank Kameny Way.

From there, it will travel east on P Street, turn south on 14th Street, and end at 14th and N streets, N.W., near Thomas Circle.

Mason said a crowd of about 200,000 people is expected for Sunday’s annual Capital Pride Festival, set to take place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., between Third and Seventh streets.

Similar to past years, close to 250 booths and vendors’ stands are expected to be at the festival, with dozens of LGBT and LGBT-supportive groups and businesses displaying their products or advancing their causes.

Steven Taubenkibel, a spokesperson for the Metro subway and bus system, said Metro is aware of the crowds expected for Capital Pride events over the weekend. He noted that officials were prepared to add more train cars beyond the normal weekend schedules if larger crowds and a higher ridership warrant the additions.

He said long-scheduled track repair projects would cause delays at the East and West Falls Church and the New York Avenue stations.

Mason said that in addition to entertainers scheduled to perform on the festival’s main stage at Third Street, near the U.S. Capitol, several speakers, including elected officials, were expected to address the crowd from the stage.

Among those confirmed earlier this week to speak were D.C. City Council Chair and mayoral candidate Vincent Gray and the director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs Christopher Dyer.

Mason said the mayor’s office had yet to confirm whether Fenty would speak at the festival. The mayor was scheduled to march in the parade.

Others expected to speak were D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton; representatives of American Veterans for Equal Rights, who were to be accompanied by the playing of taps in honor of fallen service members; and Miss D.C. Jen Corey.

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

  • “was…was…was…were…”

    This article is written as if all these things WERE going to happen, “but…”

    But there’s no “but.” So I guess that means these things are still going to happen.

    This is confusing writing to say the least! Shouldn’t “was to be renamed this week” say “is to be renamed this week,” and shouldn’t another sentence read “Fenty _is_ scheduled to preside…”

    Your choice of words was – no, “is” – confusing!

  • Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, a long time friend and colleague of Dr. Kameny will also attend and speak. Please update!

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