May 3, 2017 at 10:03 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Critics want Capital Pride to expel police, corporations
Capital Pride, No Justice No Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Capital Pride Board President Bernie Delia has said that the organization will not agree to the demands by No Justice No Pride to ban police and corporate sponsors. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A dissident group that is calling for radical changes in the way D.C.’s Capital Pride Parade and Festival are carried out this year is calling on its supporters to “pack” the Capital Pride Alliance’s May 8 board of directors meeting to voice their support for the proposed changes.

Members of No Justice No Pride, who describe themselves as a local coalition of LGBT activists and organizations, have released a list of demands that include calling on Capital Pride to eliminate corporate sponsorship of the Pride events and ban corporations and D.C. police from participating in the parade and festival set for June 10-11.

The Capital Pride board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 8, at National City Christian Church at 5 Thomas Circle.

Longtime lesbian activist Cathy Renna, who is serving as a communications consultant for Capital Pride, said the 17-member Capital Pride Alliance board is looking forward to what it expects to be a constructive discussion by a diverse group of people.

“The purpose of the meeting is to create a community dialogue and to provide any information that we can and just continue the conversation about the issues that have been brought up by the No Justice No Pride group and others,” Renna told the Washington Blade.

“We’re encouraging anyone in the community to come,” she said. “I believe there will be many people who support the Capital Pride Alliance and will want to talk about these issues as well. So we’re hoping for a good dialogue and a good conversation and an opportunity to talk about the issues.”

The meeting was scheduled to take place less than two weeks after the Capital Pride board created a stir by requesting and receiving the resignation of volunteer executive producer Bryan Pruitt because of comments he made about transgender people in a May 2016 article in the conservative blog RedState.

The board issued a statement on the Capital Pride Facebook page implying Pruitt’s comments were inappropriate, saying Capital Pride’s board, staff, and volunteers “have zero tolerance for transphobia in any form.”

The board’s action seeking Pruitt’s resignation came after No Justice No Pride posted an excerpt of Pruitt’s one-year-old article on social media and demanded that Capital Pride “fire” him.

Pruitt has since told the Blade he is a strong supporter of the transgender community and of full rights for transgender people. He said his article was written about the 2016 presidential election and how the Democratic Party and the “gay left” hurt Hillary Clinton’s candidacy by bringing up controversial transgender issues.

No Justice No Pride, meanwhile, has said it plans to aggressively push its demands for changing the Capital Pride agenda at the May 8 board meeting.

“We’re showing up at the Capital Pride board meeting to remind the board members what D.C.’s queer and trans community actually looks like,” the coalition states on its Facebook page. “Bring your friends, bring your frustrations, bring your ideas. Let’s fill the room.”

Capital Pride Board President Bernie Delia has said that while the board believes it was necessary to seek Pruitt’s resignation it will not agree to the other demands by No Justice No Pride such as ending corporate sponsorships or banning D.C. police from participating in Pride events.

Earl Fowlkes, one of the lead organizers of D.C.’s annual Black Pride events, which take place during the Memorial Day weekend, said no one has approached Black Pride about discontinuing corporate sponsors or banning D.C. police from Black Pride events.

He said Black Pride traditionally has had only a few corporate sponsors. He said members of the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit have attended Black Pride events as volunteers to help ensure the safety of participants. Fowlkes said Black Pride has no plans to discontinue its corporate sponsors or police participation.

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

  • These critics are goofy beyond all reason.

    Let’s hope MPD Chief Newsham attends — along with lots of LGBTLU officers, too.

    • Yes please! What is their point of not having and Police participation or corporate sponsors? They are all nuts on this one!

      • They say they will be “triggered” if they see a lesbian in a police uniform. It’s infantile.

        • I am very sensitive to, and opposed to, police brutality. But we have to learn to accept that not all police are like that. I can understand if you’ve been victimized by police, that being around them is troubling. But if those folks are so bothered by this, maybe they should be the ones to skip pride, rather than forcing the rest of us to cut off crucial ties and turn pride into a shell of what it is. I’m just not willing to do that, although there surely is a way we can incorporate those concerns into the festival and give those activists a voice, without disrupting the weekend.

  • It sounds to me like they’re trying to destroy pride until their demands are met, But since the LGBT community can’t make racism, transphobia, and immigrant prejudice go away overnight, I don’t see what they hope to accomplish. Instead, I think they’ll just piss off every last LGBT person who enjoys pride, and really hurt the cause. The DC police aren’t perfect, but we have a good relationship with them and I don’t think we should punish them for the acts of officers in other states who rightfully should be punished. Likewise, I don’t think damaging our corporate benefactors would do ANYTHING good. Pride is expensive and it needs money, I don’t like all the corporate sellout either, but it’s a required evil. These “activists” just want to wreck pride, I don’t know why they think that’s going to help their cause any. It sure won’t with me.

  • We embrace EVERYONE, or we embrace noone. Those calling for exclusion can live apart and alone. But PRIDE is totally inclusive. And we celebrate corporations, Police, and all allies!

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