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Capital Pride expected to draw 250,000 this weekend

Deborah Cox to headline festival after Saturday’s parade



Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Pride
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Pride

Last year's Capital Pride parade. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The city’s 37th annual pride celebration is expected to draw an estimated 100,000 people to Dupont Circle and Logan Circle on Saturday, when the parade kicks off at 4:30 p.m.

The Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the D.C. Center, Maryland Mormons for Marriage Equality, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League and the Human Rights Campaign are among the myriad groups that are scheduled to march. D.C. Council members Jim Graham (D-Ward 1,) Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and David Catania (I-At Large) are among the local officials who are expected to take part.

Up to 250,000 people are expected to attend the annual street festival that will take place on Pennsylvania Avenue between 7th and 3rd Streets, N.W., on Sunday. Deborah Cox will headline the event; while Boqueria, Dirty Martini, Luke’s Lobster, Georgetown Cupcake and 350 Bakery will participate in the first-ever Taste of Pride.

“I’m thrilled with the commitment that our volunteers and our community and our board members have shown with the planning,” said Ryan Bos, executive director of Capital Pride.

Another new component of this year’s pride schedule is a series of three town hall meetings that examined a variety of topics. The D.C. Center hosted a panel at the Hotel Palomar on May 31 that addressed homelessness among LGBT youth in the District. Blade reporter Chris Johnson will moderate a panel of local gay elected officials who will discuss being out in politics at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives at 1201 17th St., N.W., on Thursday. Blade reporter Lou Chibbaro, Jr., will interview Mayor Vincent Gray earlier in the evening. A Whitman-Walker Health-sponsored health forum will take place at the Metropolitan Community Church at 474 Ridge St., N.W., on June 14 from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

“We wanted to find ways to provide more educational opportunities,” said Bos.

First held as a block party outside of what was then the Lambda Rising bookstore on 20th Street, N.W., in 1975; pride has grown into one of the city’s most popular celebrations with nearly a month’s worth of parties, workshops and other events.

Nearly 150 people attended the sixth annual Capital TransPride at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest on May 23. Thousands attended festivities associated with the 21st annual D.C. Black Pride that took place over the Memorial Day weekend. Saint Thomas Parish in Dupont Circle hosted a Sunday Mass for D.C. Latino Pride on June 3; while other workshops and parties took place across the city.

“What you are doing is vitally important because the visibility you are giving to the Latino GLBT community is so well placed,” said D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton during a forum on anti-LGBT employment discrimination that the Latino GLBT History Project organized at the Human Rights Campaign on May 30. Gautam Raghavan and Julie Rodriguez of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement also attended.

“Without you I’m not sure that many Americans would understand the diversity within your own community, just as they don’t understand who Latinos are,” added Norton.

Bos said he and other Capital Pride staff, board members and volunteers look forward to a good parade and festival.

“I’m excited to go into the weekend with a strong team and put on another two events for the city,” he said. “Through this year, I hope folks get more inspired and want to engage. Our hope at Capital Pride is not just about these 15 days, but to be proud 365 days.”

The weather for the weekend’s festivities looks good, with sunny skies predicted and temperatures in the upper 80s.



Bomb threat shuts down Takoma Park holiday drag show

MotorKat evacuated when Tara Hoot was performing



Tara Hoot was performing at MotorKat in Takoma Park, Md., on Dec. 9, 2023, when a bomb threat forced the business' evacuation. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Police cordoned off a popular strip in Takoma Park on Saturday after a bomb threat shut down businesses, including a holiday performance by drag artist Tara Hoot.

MotorKat General Manager Mike Rothman told the Washington Blade that Takoma Park police notified them of a bomb threat to their business around noon.

Tara Hoot was delivering a holiday brunch performance at the MotorKat when the evacuation order came in.

Rothman said they were notified “five minutes into her final performance.” Tara Hoot herself told the audience to leave for their safety.

Police proceeded to tape off the area and evacuated all businesses between Eastern and South Carroll Avenues, including TakomaBevCo, which is co-owned by MotorKat Wine Director Seth Cook.

Cook told the Blade that police brought in “bomb-sniffing dogs” to clear the area before allowing businesses to reopen around 2 p.m.

“The timing is unfortunate as this is one of the busiest weekends before the holidays,” Cook said.

Rothman was also disappointed by the lost revenue due to what ultimately was a false threat, but he was firm that the Takoma Park LGBTQ community is resilient and would continue to thrive despite this setback.

“Takoma Park is a pretty proud and resilient community,” he said. “I don’t expect people to lay down and be scared by this.”

MotorKat and TakomaBevCo reopened for business around 3 p.m.

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Comings & Goings

Jimmy Alexander joins WTOP News as a feature reporter



Jimmy Alexander (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Alexander)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations, and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Jimmy Alexander who has been hired at WTOP News as a feature reporter. Over the last four years Alexander has been covering stories as varied as the Jan. 6 insurrection to the 17th Street High Heel Race. He has been working as a co-host on the Jack Diamond Morning show on Cumulus Media, Manning Media. On his acceptance of the new position Alexander said, “I’m thrilled that at WTOP News, I will be able to focus on events and people that bring hope to your heart and a smile to your face.”

Alexander is a versatile multimedia broadcaster with more than two decades of experience covering both major news events in Washington D.C., and important human-interest stories outside the Beltway. He is an engaging interviewer with a track record of having compelling conversations with the biggest names in government and show business, from presidents to Paul McCartney. Prior to this he worked as a freelance feature reporter with WDCW50-DC News Now. He is also with Writer-20, Twenty Country Countdown, United Stations Radio Networks. There he developed a concept for a countdown show featuring country music’s weekly top songs on-air and online and prepared weekly scripts for a three-hour show. 

Alexander conducted the only Jan. 6, 2021 interview with “The QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley. Since 2016, he has served by request of the D.C. mayor as official host of the 17th Street High Heel Race, the city’s second largest LGBTQ event of the year. He is featured in the documentary “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” and is a frequent guest on CNN’s Morning Show “New Day.” He covered White House visits by Queen Elizabeth, the Pope, and the yearly Easter Egg Roll. He also won $10,000 on the game show “Pyramid.” 

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LGBTQ University of Maryland students prepare to celebrate Hanukkah

Eight-day festival to begin Thursday night



(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A number of Hanukkah events for LGBTQ students will take place at the University of Maryland this week.

Queer Jewish students and allies are welcome to attend Crazy Cozy Chill Chanukah Celebration on Sunday at the University of Maryland Hillel. Hamsa, home to queer Jewish life on campus, hosted a study break with hot drinks, snacks and games and a chance to welcome Hanukkah early. 

The first night of Hanukkah is Thursday.

Chabad UMD is hosting a menorah lighting on Thursday in front of McKeldin Library and plans to mention the war between Israel and Hamas, according to Rabbi Eli Backman of Chabad UMD. The event is going to be a focus on the positivity and the message of the Hanukkah story.  

“We’ve been around for thousands of years and all those who’ve tried to make sure that we didn’t live to see the next generation (is) no longer here,” Backman said. “That message will really resonate at home for the holiday.”

The story of the Maccabees is one of the few stories where Jewish people fought, Backman said. In Jewish history, people don’t see a military response in many of the other holiday moments. 

“It should give us a boost of energy,” Backman said. “A boost of strength (and) a boost of hope.”

Part of the Hanukkah story’s message is that Jewish people were in a position that they needed to form a military to secure their borders, Backman said. And they succeeded. 

For some, celebrating Hanukkah depends on the people they’re around, Florence Miller, a sophomore English and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies who is Hamsa’s president, said.

Miller is agnostic and does not find themself to be a religious person, but the thing that has kept their Jewish faith is the people about whom they care are Jewish and the sense of community that comes from being Jewish.

“I just wanted to do a Hanukkah event,” Miller said. “It’s been a good refresher with how the semester has been.”

Miller last year attended a Hanukkah party and played a game of dreidel, a spinning top with four sides marked with a Hebrew letter. The people who were in attendance wanted to bet something, but the only thing they could find were pinto beans. 

“When I took them out of my pocket one got stuck in there,” Miller said. “I still have that bean.”

For some Jewish students it’s important to go to Hanukkah events like Hamsa’s celebration to be around like-minded Jewish people, Yarden Shestopal, a sophomore American Studies major, said. 

“Which is why I like Hamsa,” Shestopal said. “Since we’re all queer people or allies we kind of share that mentality of acceptance.”

Being part of the Jewish community at the University of Maryland has opened Shestopal up to how diverse the LGBTQ and Jewish communities are. Shestopal this year, however, debated whether or not to put his menorah up on the windowsill of his apartment because of the rise in anti-Semitism due to the war in Israel.  

“I’m pretty sure I am going to put the menorah in my window,” Shestopal said. “The only way to combat anti-Semitism is to stay visible.” 

Several University of Maryland students lived in Israel before or during their time at the university. 

Elisheva Greene, a junior animal science major, went to seminary, a school for women to learn about Torah, during the pandemic. Greene said celebrating Hanukkah while a war is happening is going to be a similar feeling. 

“I’m able to do what I can from over here by supporting my family and friends,” Greene said. “The biggest thing I can be doing is living my life as a Jewish person and showing that I express my Judaism and I’m not afraid.”

Greene recalled they could not go more than 1,000 feet from home for two months and Hanukkah took place during that time. While it was difficult, Greene said people still put their menorahs on their windowsill.  

“Knowing the resilience the Israelis have and the fact people like to show their Jewishness (is not) gonna stop me,” Greene said. “Like there’s a war going on but you’re gonna be a Jew and you’re gonna flaunt that.”

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