Connect with us

Local

Record turnout for Pride

‘Wonderfully diverse’ crowd defies heat, humidity

Published

on

Capital Pride’s parade June 12 featured 175 contingents — the most ever for the event. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A record-breaking 175 contingents in last weekend’s Capital Pride parade and about 250,000 people at the street festival the next day showed the world how “wonderfully diverse we are as a community,” according to the event’s lead organizer.

Dyana Mason, executive director of Capital Pride Alliance, the non-profit group that organized Washington’s 35th annual LGBT Pride events, called the festivities a “great success.”

“It was wonderfully diverse and had a true cross section of our community,” she said. “It was just wonderful to see everybody from Results Gym to Rainbow Families D.C. to faith communities to the leather contingent. Everybody was there and just being themselves.”

As in past years, the parade’s lead contingent was the lesbian motorcycle group Dykes on Bikes. And a short distance behind them, a contingent of the city’s elected officials joined the parade.

Among them were Mayor Adrian Fenty and his chief rival in the September Democratic primary, City Council Chairman Vincent Gray.

Others included D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and gay D.C. Council members David Catania (I-At Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who also are up for re-election this year.

They were joined by Council members Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), Kwame Brown (D-At Large), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6).

Also marching in the parade was former D.C. Parks & Recreation director and gay City Council candidate Clark Ray, who is challenging Mendelson in the September primary.

The politicians, including Fenty and Gray, appeared to be well received as they passed large crowds along a parade route that stretched from 24th and P streets, N.W., around Dupont Circle to the gay enclave along 17th Street.

From there, the parade turned east on P Street, where it passed the official reviewing stand in front of the Whole Foods supermarket near 15th and P streets before ending on 14th Street at Thomas Circle.

The politicians — all of whom are strong supporters of LGBT civil rights — were quickly followed by colorful floats carrying performing drag queens, shirtless male swim team members, gym enthusiasts riding exercise machines, and country western dancers performing the two-step.

Capital Pride officials identified certain contingents as winners of Capital Pride’s annual parade awards: Ziegfeld’s/Secrets nightclub took the Cher Award for Best Theme/Energy; Results Gym captured the Tina Turner Award for Best Float; D.C.’s Different Drummers won the Nancy Sinatra Award for Best Marching Contingent; G Worldwide Resorts earned the Dame Edna Award for Best Visiting Contingent; and Fuego gay bar received the Liberace Award for Most Outrageous.

Also receiving loud applause and cheers along the parade route were the contingents and cars carrying this year’s Capital Pride heroes and super heroes, who were selected for their longtime support for LGBT-related causes.

Among them was Deacon Maccubbin, the former owner of Lambda Rising bookstore who is credited with initiating and organizing the city’s first annual LGBT Pride celebration in 1975.

For many activists, the parade’s route along 17th Street between R and Q streets, N.W., had a special significance this year. On June 10, three days before the parade kick-off, Fenty led a ceremony naming the section of 17th Street between R and Q streets Frank Kameny Way after the nationally recognized D.C. gay civil rights leader.

The ceremony included the unveiling of a newly installed street sign bearing the name Frank Kameny Way, which was visible to parade goers. The street-naming came about through an executive order issued by Fenty.

Kameny, who is credited with founding the city’s gay civil rights movement in the late 1950s, spoke at the ceremony, saying that he could never have predicted the advances in LGBT rights since he was fired in 1957 from his job as a civilian astronomer with the Army Map service because of his sexual orientation.

Joining Fenty in the street naming ceremony was Jack Evans, the Ward 2 Council member whose district includes the newly designated Kameny Way, and gay ANC Commissioner Mike Silverstein, who was among the Dupont Circle ANC commissioners that formally requested the street’s designation.

Also speaking at the ceremony was John Berry, the gay director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Berry noted that OPM’s predecessor agency, the U.S. Civil Service Commission, was the agency that fired Kameny more than 50 years ago for being gay.

“Frank is the perfect storm,” Berry said. “The wall of resistance that he encountered when he challenged his dismissal back in 1957 would have been insurmountable to most people. With no more support than his own brilliant mind and his own powerful lungs, he faced down the United States government.”

Berry noted that over the ensuing decades, Kameny played a key role in guiding the LGBT civil rights movement through battles that ended the government’s ban on civilian gay employees, ended the psychiatric and psychological professions’ classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, and lifted the government’s ban on issuing security clearances to gay federal employees and contract workers.

“Frank, for every one of us who walk this street, and I walk it daily, your name up here is going to remind us of the power of one person, the power of persistence,” Berry said. “You have changed the world for the better.”

But on the day of the parade, Fenty and other parade goers passing along 17th Street were greeted by another type of sign: professionally printed poster-sized placards bearing the message “Fenty is M.I.A.”

Gay Democratic activist Lane Hudson, who is backing Gray in the mayor’s race, said he and others had the signs made and attached them to light poles along the parade route on 17th Street and along the section of P Street where the parade reviewing stand was located.

Hudson said the placards were intended to deliver a message to parade participants that Fenty has been “missing in action” on a number of LGBT-related issues by not speaking out or meeting with members of the community to address those issues. Anti-LGBT hate crimes, LGBT youth matters and the HIV/AIDS fight were among the issues cited by the signs as issues to which Fenty is not devoting enough attention.

Fenty backers dispute those assertions, though, saying the mayor has extensively addressed those issues during his more than three years in office.

The signs Hudson placed on the light poles list a website for obtaining more information on the subject, but it wasn’t operational earlier this week. Hudson said he planned to activate the site soon.

Capital Pride Alliance President Michael Lutz said the June 13 Capital Pride street festival, held along Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., between Third and Seventh streets, also appeared to have attracted an unprecedented number of groups, businesses and vendors. Literature released by Capital Pride shows nearly 250 booths lining Pennsylvania Avenue and several side streets.

Among the businesses setting up booths were SunTrust Bank, the Spy Museum, Verizon Wireless, America Online, the New York Times, and the Washington Nationals Baseball Club. Dozens of local and national LGBT organizations also had booths, with many promoting their latest programs and projects.

The intense heat and humidity throughout the day of the street festival was interrupted briefly as rain showers fell for less than five minutes.

Mason credited drag performer Destiny B. Childs with keeping the entertainment going and the crowd pleased from the festival’s main stage during the rain. With the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop looming above the stage, Childs, whose legal name is Richard Legg, staged a show “that was really something to see,” Mason said.

Country western singer Chely Wright, the festival’s headliner performer, closed the program on the main stage to cheering fans. Wright, who came out as lesbian earlier this year in People magazine, recently completed a new album and is promoting an autobiography.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Ray

    June 18, 2010 at 9:37 am

    It was a good turn out because 80% of the crowd were straight people (mostly women)! Whats so ‘gay’ about that?

    • Frankie James

      June 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm

      You obviously had on dark sunglasses because that was not the case at Pride Festival I went to…

      Idiot.

    • Robert

      June 27, 2010 at 8:48 am

      Ray…are you kidding? What part of town were you in??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Local

D.C. police seek help in finding missing gay man

Rick Woods last seen in Georgetown on July 14

Published

on

Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, 65, was last seen in the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., in Georgetown on July 14.

D.C. police have issued an announcement asking the public for help in finding Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, 65, who was last seen in the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., in Georgetown on July 14.

Friends who know Woods, who is gay, say he has operated for many years an antique wood furniture restoration business at various locations in D.C. The most recent location of his business, according to an online listing, has been at 1408 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., a short distance from where he was last seen. 

The police announcement says Woods was reported missing to police on Friday, July 23, but the announcement doesn’t identify the person who reported him missing.

 “Richard G. Woods is described as a white male, 6’O” tall, 210 pounds, with brown and gray hair and brown eyes,” the police announcement says. “His clothing description is unknown,” according to the announcement.

The announcement says the case is being investigated by the department’s Youth and Family Services Division. Anyone with information about Woods’ whereabouts is asked to call the division at 202-576-6768 or to call the police Command Center at 202-727-9099. 

“Rick is known by many in our community,” said John Fanning, a Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and longtime local LGBTQ rights advocate. “He’s owned an antique wood restoration business for years,” according to Fanning, who said he and others who know Woods are hopeful that he will be found soon and unharmed. 

A D.C. police spokesperson said the police incident report for the Woods missing person case wasn’t immediately available.

Continue Reading

Local

Two injured in gunfire outside crowded 14th Street restaurants

Witnesses say 20 shots fired near Blade, Whitman-Walker offices

Published

on

Police are looking for three suspects in connection with Thursday’s shooting.

D.C. police are seeking the public’s help in identifying at least three suspects involved in a shooting in which two men were wounded shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 22, on the 1700 block of 14th Street, N.W. where the offices of the Washington Blade and Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive health center, are located.

The shooting occurred while dozens of people were dining at restaurants along the bustling street in the heart of the city’s Logan Circle nightlife area.

Police released a video showing two men – one wearing a white hooded sweater or sweatshirt and the other wearing a dark colored similar hooded shirt running along the street and entering the front and rear passenger doors of a black car double parked on the street that police described as an older model Honda Civic with D.C. license plates.

The video shows the car driving away at a fast speed with a third person driving the vehicle.

“Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Third District seek the public’s assistance in locating suspects and a vehicle in reference to an Assault with Intent to Kill (Gun) offense,” a statement released by D.C. police says.

“At approximately 8:20 p.m., members of the Third District heard the sounds of gunshots and responded to the listed location,” the statement says. “Upon arrival, members located two adult male victims, both conscious and breathing, suffering from gunshot wounds,” according to the statement. “DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and transported the victims to area hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.”

The shooting incident took place at a time when many city residents and police were on edge following the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old girl on July 16 in Southeast D.C. and the firing of gunshots last Saturday outside Washington Nationals Stadium during a game, which prompted people inside the stadium, who heard the gunshots, to duck for cover.

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who was accompanied by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at a news conference at the scene of the shooting on Thursday night, said investigators believe one of the two men wounded by the gunfire was a target of the shooting. Contee said police believe the second victim was hit in the crossfire.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can as an entire system here in the District of Columbia to hold offenders accountable when these things happen in our community,” Contee said. “This is unacceptable. That’s the bottom line. It is totally unacceptable behavior,” he said.

“I’m asking the community to take a look at these videos,” he told reporters at the press conference. “If you know the person or the vehicle or somebody who is in that – there is one individual with a very distinctive hoody that he was wearing – please look at that very closely,” he said. “We’re asking for the community’s help.”

When asked by a reporter to comment on expressions of outrage by members of the community over the widespread outbreak of gun violence in the city, Bowser said she shares that concern.

“Well, I’m outraged. The chief is outraged. And the community should be outraged,” the mayor said. “What we saw tonight and unfortunately what we saw over the last several days is an illegal firearm brazenly used on D.C. streets,” Bowser said.

“And we know that our investigators and detectives are going to track down every lead. Our citizens have already been helpful in supplying leads and video and anything else that they saw so that we can get these individuals off the street and hold them accountable,” the mayor said.

Witnesses have said the Thursday night shooting on 14th Street reportedly occurred at the intersection of Riggs Street outside the Mexicue Restaurant, which is located at 1720 14th Street, N.W. The Blade office is located just a few doors down and Whitman-Walker’s Elizabeth Taylor building is a short distance away across the street at 14th and R Street, N.W.

Continue Reading

Local

Suspect charged in murder of trans woman in PG County apartment

District Heights man apprehended in Arlington following unrelated arrest

Published

on

P.G. Police charged DeAllen Davonta Price with first-degree and second-degree murder and related charges in connection with Taya Ashton’s death.

Prince George’s County, Md., Police announced on Wednesday that homicide investigators identified and filed murder charges against a 27-year-old District Heights, Md., man for the July 17 homicide of transgender woman Taya Ashton, 20, who was found shot to death in her apartment in nearby Suitland, Md.

In a statement, P.G. Police said they charged DeAllen Davonta Price of the 6400 block of Hil Mar Drive in the unincorporated area of District Heights with first-degree and second-degree murder and related charges in connection with Ashton’s death.

According to the statement, while P.G. police detectives identified Price as a suspect in the Ashton murder, Arlington County, Va. Police arrested him on July 18 on an unrelated robbery charge after he attempted to flee from Arlington and Metro Transit police inside a train tunnel at the Pentagon City Metro Station.

“With the assistance of Metro Transit Police, Prince George’s County Police detectives and a K9 officer searched those tracks and recovered a weapon that’s now been linked to Taya’s murder,” the P.G. Police statement says.

“Price remains in custody in Virginia pending extradition to Prince George’s County,” the statement says. “The motive remains under investigation,” says the statement, but it adds, “Detectives have uncovered no evidence suggesting Taya’s murder was due to her gender identity.”

The announcement by P.G. police of Price’s arrest came on the same day that family members and friends of Taya Ashton held a vigil to honor her life at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at River Terrace Park in Northeast D.C. along the banks of the Anacostia River, which is part of the neighborhood were Ashton grew up.

Veteran D.C. LGBTQ rights advocate Phil Pannell, who attended and spoke at the vigil, said that in addition to family members and friends of Ashton’s, those who spoke included Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy; D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8), D.C. transgender rights advocate Earline Budd, and numerous community leaders in D.C. and P.G. County. Budd said more than 200 people turned out for the vigil.

At the conclusion of the vigil, many of the participants drove in a lengthy caravan of cars to the apartment building in the Suitland section of Prince George’s County, where Ashton lived and where her life ended, to further honor her.

“The nearby streets were completely filled with people coming out for Taya and her family,” Budd said.

A three-page charging document filed in Prince George’s County District Court by P.G. Police on Wednesday, July 21, provides a detailed account of how homicide detectives used cell phone records and high-tech firearm ballistics techniques to link Price to the murder.

P.G. police said homicide detectives began an intense investigation into the murder almost immediately after family members who discovered Ashton’s body at her apartment on July 17 called police. Ashton’s grandfather, Stuart Anderson, who said Taya Ashton’s status as a transgender woman was accepted by her family, told the Blade that family members who arrived at the apartment could not find any evidence of a forced entry, leading them to believe the assailant responsible for the murder may have been someone Ashton knew and invited into her home.

The charging document says that although Ashton’s phone was missing from the apartment and presumed stolen at the time her body was found, detectives obtained her phone number from family members and used it to discover through the tracing of her calls and text message records that she and Price communicated with each other by text or calls between Friday, July 16, one day prior to the murder, and at 11:42 p.m. Saturday, July 17.

“This is the last call that the Decedent makes or answers before being found deceased,” the charging document states.

According to the charging document, earlier in the evening of July 17 Ashton and a friend of hers exchanged text messages in which Ashton wrote, “My dude is on his way” which the friend understood to mean a sexual encounter was expected to take place. A short time later Ashton told her friend in a follow-up text message “that a sexual encounter occurred,” the charging document says.

“As the investigation continued, it was discovered that Defendant was arrested on 07/18/2021 at approximately 1642 hours [4:42 p.m.] by the Arlington County Police Department for a theft,” the charging document in support of Price’s arrest says.

It says that when Arlington Police initially attempted to apprehend Price, “he jumped off of a platform and ran into a subway tunnel towards the Pentagon Metro Station.” The document says he hid inside the tunnel for about two hours before being arrested after he walked out of the tunnel into the station.

At the time of his arrest, the charging document says, Price was in possession of a Gucci cross strap bag with distinct markings that Ashton’s family members reported was missing from her apartment at the time her body was found.

A short time later, P.G. County homicide investigators, who arrived on the scene, conducted a search of the train tunnel and found a black semi-automatic .40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun, the charging document states.

It says that that a police firearm expert, after examining the gun, “was able to conclude that the fired .40 caliber cartridge casing recovered from the scene [of the murder] and the fired projectile recovered from the Decedent’s body were fired from the Smith and Wesson handgun bearing serial #HTU3274 recovered from the area the Defendant hid from police.” 

The document states that when questioned after his arrest, Price waived his Miranda rights to withhold comment and obtain representation from an attorney and acknowledged that police had obtained access to his correct cell phone number.

“He also admitted to being sexually intimate with the Decedent and stated that he has known the Decedent for approximately three months,” the charging document continues. “He then admitted to being at the Decedent’s apartment the night of the murder and being sexually intimate with the Decedent that night,” it says.

“Based on the aforementioned facts, the evidence indicates that the Defendant is responsible for shooting and killing the Decedent,” the document concludes. The document does not state whether detectives asked Price whether he committed the murder or whether or not he admitted or denied fatally shooting Taya Ashton.

An arrest warrant that accompanies the charging document says that in addition to being charged with first-degree and second-degree murder, police charged Price with Assault-First Degree; Firearm Use/Felony Crime of Violence; Assault-Second Degree; Handgun on Person; and Loaded Handgun on Person.

Court records show that Price had been arrested in Virginia and Maryland several times prior to his latest arrests beginning in 2012 on charges that include illegal possession of a firearm, armed robbery, misdemeanor theft, and grand larceny.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular