June 14, 2015 at 12:45 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
More than 150,000 attend Capital Pride parade
Capital Pride Parade, gay news, Washington Blade

Out actor Wilson Cruz was one of the grand marshals of the 2015 Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than 150,000 people turned out in Northwest D.C. on Saturday for the 40th annual Capital Pride parade.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and all five freshmen members of the D.C. Council — LaRuby May, Brandon Todd, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau and Charles Allen — were among the local elected officials who marched in the parade that began at 22nd and P Streets, N.W., in Dupont Circle and ended on 14th Street, N.W., in Logan Circle.

Deacon Maccubbin, owner of the now closed Lambda Rising bookstore who founded what became known as Capital Pride in 1975, and actor Wilson Cruz were grand marshals of this year’s parade. Television personality Ross Mathews officiated the wedding of Sean Franklin and George Carrancho, who tied the knot on a float that Marriott International sponsored.

Members of the Boy Scouts Troops of America marched in the parade for the first time.

Meteoroligist Steve Rudin also joined more than 20 other on-air personalities and employees from WJLA who took part in the annual event. Their participation marks the first time the television station marched in the parade.

Whitman Walker Health, the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, GLIFAA, the British Embassy, the Latino GLBT History Project, SMYAL and GLINT are among the hundreds of other groups that also took part in the annual event.

Members of RUSA LGBT, a group of Russian-speaking LGBT people and others from the former Soviet Union, carried flags from their respective homelands as they marched in the parade.

“The Russian government always banned this,” Gleb Latnik told the Washington Blade before he and other RUSA LGBT members began to march. “If people try to do it, those people are arrested immediately. All those people are arrested in just one minute.”

Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado told the Blade that she has seen “the most transgender support ever” in 2015 and “it makes me hope for a better year.” She conceded unemployment and homelessness are among the issues that trans people continue to face, but Corado applauded the Bowser administration for the way she feels it has responded to them.

“We have a great conversation with our mayor,” Corado told the Blade. “I feel for the first time that they are really addressing our issues.”

Temperatures were in the low 90s when the parade kicked off from 22nd and P Streets, N.W. The thunderstorms that had been forecast to move through the D.C. area on Saturday did not materialize.

Festival draws more than 250,000

Organizers told the Blade that more than 250,000 people attended the annual Capital Pride festival on Sunday that took place on Pennsylvania Avenue between Third and Seventh Streets, N.W.

The D.C. Office of Human Rights, the Central Intelligence Agency, Log Cabin Republicans and D.C. Frontrunners were among the hundreds of groups that took part. Carly Rae Jepsen, En Vogue, Amber, Wilson Phillips and Katy Tiz headlined the festival.

A thunderstorm with torrential downpours moved through D.C. at the time the headliners were taking the stage.

The super secret U.S. Office of the Director of Intelligence for the first time hosted a booth at the festival, joining booths hosted at the annual festival since 2012 by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The presence of government agencies like the FBI and CIA – which banned LGBT people from working for them as recently as the 1980s – highlights the dramatic advances in LGBT rights, according to Capital Pride organizers.

The Office of the Director of Intelligence, which oversees and coordinates activities of 17 U.S. intelligence related agencies, including the FBI and the CIA, was among at least a dozen U.S. government agencies or departments to host a booth at this year’s Capital Pride Festival.

Other federal agencies hosting booths included the Department of Justice, the D.C. Office of the U.S. Attorney, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Defense’s Office of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

“If you go back 40 years, not only would these agencies not be there at the festival but we were not welcome to work at these agencies,” said Bernie Delia, president of the Capital Pride board and a Justice Department attorney.

“And these agencies are here also because their individual employees who are LGBT have made their presence known,” he said. “We have made tremendous advances.”

Nearly all of the booths hosted by the federal government agencies were staffed by members of LGBT agency employee groups. The CIA booth, for example, which distributed employee recruitment literature, was staffed by members of the Agency Network of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees (ANGLE), an officially recognized CIA employees group.

“We’re happy to be here,” said one ANGLE member who asked not to be identified because the CIA requires advance clearance for its employees to be quoted in the media.

Delia said this year’s festival included a total of 276 organizations, local or federal government agencies, and large and small businesses that hosted booths. A list of the booths released by Capital Pride shows they reflect of wide and diverse array of LGBT and LGBT supportive groups, corporations, and local and federal government agencies, and faith-based organizations.

Employees of a number of prominent corporations and hospitality companies such as the Hilton Hotels, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Kaiser Permanente chatted with festival goers about their products and services.

A wide range of nonprofit, cause-oriented groups were also present in booths set up on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. near the U.S. Capitol, where the festival was located. Among them was Habitat for Humanity, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and the Nature Conservancy.

At the U.S. Coast Guard booth, Petty Officer First Class Michael Subra, who, along with about a half dozen other Coast Guard members staffing the booth, wore his uniform, greeted a steady flow of festival goers who approached the booth.

To the surprise of many of them, Subra informed them he was assigned to the Coast Guard’s recruiting office in downtown D.C. and asked those he greeted if they were interested in joining the Coast Guard.

“Wow, I’m amazed you’re asking that question,” said one young man.

(Lou Chibbaro Jr. contributed to this report.)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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