Organizers of D.C.’s annual Capital Pride Parade and Festival on Wednesday asked for and received the resignation of a volunteer event producer because of comments he made about transgender people in a May 2016 article in the conservative blog RedState that Pride officials consider offensive.
“As soon as the Capital Pride board was made aware of the May 2016 RedState article by Bryan Pruitt, a Capital Pride volunteer, we immediately asked for and received his resignation,” a Capital Pride statement posted on its Facebook page says.
“The Capital Pride Alliance board, staff, and volunteers have zero tolerance for transphobia in any form and remain deeply committed to supporting the trans community through our work and programs,” the statement says.
Capital Pride’s action seeking Pruitt’s resignation came after a local coalition called No Justice No Pride posted an excerpt of Pruitt’s RedState article on Facebook and other social media outlets and demanded that Capital Pride disassociate itself from him.
Bernie Delia, Capital Pride’s president, said that although Capital Pride’s board agreed it was necessary to seek Pruitt’s resignation it would “absolutely not” agree to additional demands by the No Justice No Pride coalition that it ban D.C. police from participating in this year’s Pride parade and festival and that it ban corporate sponsors, including Wells Fargo Bank, from participating in all Pride events.
“It has been with the support and resources of our diverse sponsors and corporate partners that Capital Pride has been able to grow and thrive,” said Delia, who added that corporate supporters have strong records of support for the LGBT community and LGBT rights.
No Justice No Pride issued a press release on Wednesday stating what it says has been the longtime concern of its supporters and members that Capital Pride, like LGBT Pride groups in other cities, has become beholden to corporate sponsors and too supportive of D.C. police, which No Justice No Pride says have directly and indirectly oppressed “predominantly queer and trans people of color.”
Drew Ambrogi, a spokesperson for No Justice No Pride, told the Washington Blade that the coalition believes its positions enjoy support from a growing segment of the LGBT community during the current political climate in Washington, where the Trump administration is seeking to roll back government support for LGBT people.
Angela Peoples, executive director of the national LGBT direct action organization Get Equal, told the Blade in a phone interview on Thursday that her group fully supports the efforts and positions taken by No Justice No Pride.
“I have been working with Drew and other folks that are organizing this effort,” Peoples said. “So the effort and the demands of the No Justice No Pride effort is very much aligned with the work Get Equal has been doing and is continuing to do,” she said.
Ambrogi said the coalition, among other things, is calling on Capital Pride to disinvite D.C. police, including the police LGBT Liaison Unit, from participating in the D.C. Pride parade and festival.
He said the coalition also wants Capital Pride to no longer allow corporate sponsors or corporations in general to participate in the festival and parade and wants Capital Pride to remove its funds from a Wells Fargo Bank and remove from the Capital Pride board one of its members who is a Wells Fargo employee.
The press release says Wells Fargo has given financial support for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been opposed by environmentalists; and is a major investor in private prisons and immigrant detention centers. Ambrogi said LGBT people, including trans people, have been disproportionately impacted in a negative way by private prisons.
“The community is paying attention and recognizing that for too long, Capital Pride has colluded with the very forces that oppress queer and trans individuals,” No Justice No Pride says in its press release.
“Their willingness to turn a blind eye to transphobia, accept money from corporations that profit off of the incarceration of queer and trans people — predominantly queer and trans people of color — and celebrate the Metropolitan Police Department, indicate a fundamental disregard for large swaths of our community,” the press release says.
It says D.C. police have carried out “Prostitution free zones, allowing officers to harass and arrest women guilty of walking while trans.”
“We must reject the appeasing and centrist politics of the LGBT establishment,” the press release concludes. “Now more than ever, we must not allow Pride to be a de-politicized, corporatized, white-washed celebration.”
Delia said Capital Pride takes strong exception to many of No Justice No Pride’s assertions.
“The press release includes many inaccuracies and they are engaging in oppressive tactics that do not align with the very essence of what they claim to seek,” Delia told the Blade in a statement.
“Capital Pride is extremely mindful and thoughtful of our role in serving the entire community and growing our events in a way that fosters pride and community,” he said. “Pride is an inclusive event and the Capital Pride Alliance supports all members of the LGBTQA community to participate in Capital Pride.”
His statement added, “We strive to bring people together, foster dialogue, and create an environment of understanding from all perspectives.”
Delia noted that Capital Pride’s activities include Capital Trans Pride, an event scheduled for May 20 that celebrates the transgender community.
Some of the city’s most prominent transgender advocates, including Earline Budd and Ruby Corado, have said that although police abuse of trans people has been a serious problem, the instances of abuse have declined and police officials, including the previous and current police chiefs, have been supportive of the trans community.
The excerpt from Pruitt’s article that the No Justice No Pride coalition singled out states: “There is not an epidemic of trans people being denied access to public facilities. Trans people safely use bathrooms every day, mostly because if they are truly trans, other folks don’t even notice.”
Pruitt, a gay Republican activist and former president of D.C.’s Log Cabin Republicans, told the Blade on Thursday that the excerpt takes out of context the premise of his article, which is entitled “Grabbing Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory.”
He noted that the article pointed out, in the midst of the 2016 presidential election, that far-left leaning Democrats and the “gay left” were unwittingly playing into the hands of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and hurting Democratic contender Hillary Clinton by making an issue of the controversial transgender bathroom controversy.
“I’m a hundred percent supportive of the trans community,” Pruitt told the Blade. “I have always been and always will be supportive of the trans community,” he said. “I have friends that are trans. I believe in full rights for the trans community.”
In his article Pruitt called the LGBT rights ordinance passed by the Charlotte, N.C., City Council, “a solution in search of a problem,” calling it an “unnecessary law” that prompted the North Carolina Legislature to make “an equally overreaching response” by passing its controversial “bathroom” law banning trans people from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity.
Pruitt’s views on the issue were out of step with the position of most of the nation’s LGBT rights organizations that expressed the view that the Charlotte LGBT rights law was needed to protect LGBT people from discrimination.