June 8, 2011 at 8:30 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Thousands expected for D.C. Pride festivities
Pride Heroes

Capital Pride presented its annual Heroes and Engendered Spirit Awards at a ceremony on Tuesday night at the Embassy of Sweden; see story for full list of winners. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

As many as 250,000 people are expected to turn out for the D.C. Capital Pride parade and festival set for Saturday and Sunday, marking the D.C. area and the mid-Atlantic region’s largest two LGBT events of the year, according to Capital Pride organizers.

The two events serve as the highlight of dozens of Pride-related events that began on June 1 and included a broad and diverse representation of the LGBT community, organizers said, including events celebrating the transgender community and the LGBT Latino and Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

“This is the community’s event and the community pitches in every year,” said Bernie Delia, vice president of the Capital Pride board. “They’re the ones who put together the parade contingents and the floats on Saturday. And on Sunday, at the festival, they’re the ones who are staffing all those booths,” he said.

“They line the parade route and they come out in support of everybody at the festival, and it truly is a community event and it’s just wonderful to see this each and every year.”

Capital Pride spokesperson Scott Lusk said the festival’s headline entertainer, singer and Broadway actress Jennifer Holliday, was expected to make news on the main stage during her 5 p.m. performance when she debuts her new single “Magic,” representing the song’s world premiere.

Nationally acclaimed DJ and re-mixer Tony Moran of New York will accompany Holliday on the stage, where he will perform a special mix with Holliday, according to an announcement by Capital Pride.

“We’re thrilled that Tony Moran will join us at the Capital Pride Festival,” said Michael Lutz, president of the Capital Pride board. “With Tony joining Jennifer Holliday, we are set to have an afternoon of outstanding entertainment that will appeal to a wide audience.”

Other entertainers will perform on the main stage prior to Holliday’s appearance. They include the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, popular drag performer Ella Fitzgerald, and the D.C. Cowboys dancing group. A full list of the entertainers is available at HYPERLINK “http://www.capitalpride.org/”capitalpride.org.

As of May 8, 79 contingents had signed up for participation in the June 11 parade. Organizers said additional contingents were expected to sign up.

And as of May 21, 206 organizations, businesses and vendors had reserved space for booths at the June 12 Capital Pride festival, which takes place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., between 3rd Street, near the U.S. Capitol, and 7th Street. As of Wednesday, the weather forecast looks good for the weekend with temperatures expected to be in the low 80s with only a chance of scattered storms on both days.

Similar to past years, dozens of LGBT organizations, both national and local, are slated to staff booths this year. Dozens of corporations and businesses seeking to do business with LGBT people also will have booths in this year’s festival.

Among them are America Online, Choice Hotels International, Geico, Walgreens pharmacies, Verizon Wireless, and Citibank, SunTrust, and Wachovia banks.

For the past four years, the Washington City Paper has named the Capital Pride Parade the city’s best parade of the year, and Delia said he expects this year’s parade to continue that tradition.

Delia and other Capital Pride organizers say a wide range of colorful floats and marching bands are slated to join the parade, which is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of 22nd and P Sts., N.W. next to P Street Beach Park.

Similar to past years, the parade will travel west on P Street to Dupont Circle, turn north along New Hampshire Avenue and take a right turn on R Street to 17th Street. It will travel south along 17th Street, passing several popular gay bars and restaurants, before returning to P Street, where it heads east to 14th Street. At that point, the parade travels south on 14th before ending at 14th and N Streets, N.W., near Thomas Circle.

The main parade reviewing stand, where Capital Pride judges will select winners of different categories of parade contingents, is located on the 1400 block of P Street, near the Whole Foods supermarket.

At a ceremony on Tuesday night at the Embassy of Sweden, which is among this year’s Capital Pride sponsors, the group presented its annual Capital Pride Heroes and Capital Pride Engendered Spirit Awards.

Those honored this year as Pride Heroes are Bil Browning, LGBT activist and founder of the Bilerico Project blog; June Crenshaw, a local African-American lesbian activist involved in health issues; Tyrone Hanley, HIV prevention advocate for LGBT youth; Dr. Theo Hodge, infectious disease specialist working on HIV/AIDS treatment; Rev. Jill McCrory, interim pastor at Open Door Metropolitan Community Church in Boyds, Md. and marriage equality advocate; and Rebecca Roose, environmental advocate promoting  “green” Capital Pride events.

Engendered Spirit award recipients include: Terri Moore, youth activist associated with D.C.’s Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL); Gabby Thomas, HIV/AIDS activist associated with the D.C. groups Us Helping Us and Transgender Health Empowerment; Mara Keisling, founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality; Ruby Corado, advocate for transgender rights within the D.C. area Latino community and the broader LGBT community; Drs. Denis and Christine Wiley, co-pastors of the LGBT welcoming Covenant Baptist United Church in Southeast D.C.; and Joe Izzo, licensed social worker and longtime psychotherapist with Whitman-Walker Health specializing in transgender and substance abuse issues.

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

  • Pride festivities = a freak fest, unfortunately. Always have and always will. And the gay population at large wonders why stereotypes prevail.

  • A big celebration for mostly gay white racist males. White gay males aren’t a minority. The last time I looked, they are still Caucasian and belong to the majority white U.S. population. However, I agree with your comment Laurelboy2.

  • Unfortunately I have to agree with Laurelboy2 also. It is difficult for the vast majority of gay people to relate to the excessiveness demonstrated by participants. We are not all drag queens nor gender confused and yet these are the types that will dominate the media coverage. Most gay people dress similar to everyone else, go to work everyday, do not hang out in bars every night, and lead constructive lives.

  • This evening I decided to take a walk up Constitution Avenue to catch the Red Line at Union Station. It was a beautiful evening and I often will make this trek during the spring and summer months. I strolled by the site of this year’s “Capital Pride” festival and was appalled at the huge amount of trash that was left behind by participants.

    The street was covered with broken glass, plastic cups, advertisements, food containers, etc. It looked like a disaster area. I always thought the LGBT community was closely aligned with the environmental movement but by judging from the filth I saw left behind, my guess is they are more talk then action. I’m sure if Al Gore, who is a close ally of the LBGT community saw the mess left behind, he’d be very disappointed and offended just like I was.

    It’s such a pity that “Capital Pride” participants did not have the common decency to at least hold on to their trash and then dispose of it properly. Shame on the LGBT community, for their neglect, arrogance and disrespect for the environment and our Nation’s Capital.

    The affluent LGBT community often gives donations to cherished projects such as the legalization of gay marriage, repeal of DADT, “hate crimes” legislation, etc. I wonder how much (if any) they gave to the cash-strapped District Government to clean up the mess they left behind?

    • I agree, Justin. Perhaps next year Capital Pride could be relocated atop the Lorton landfill. All the trash, human and otherwise, would be properly located.

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