May 9, 2017 at 11:53 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Capital Pride critics dominate tense meeting
Capital Pride board meeting, gay news, Washington Blade

A Capital Pride board of directors meeting Monday night drew nearly 200 people, many of whom were critical of the organization. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Nearly all of more than 40 audience members who spoke at a Capital Pride Board of Directors meeting Monday night expressed support for a dissident group’s demands that corporations and D.C. police be banned from participating in the Capital Pride parade and festival set for June 10-11.

The meeting, which took place in a basement meeting hall at National City Christian Church on Thomas Circle, drew close to 200 people.

It also took place a little over a week after members of No Justice No Pride, who describe themselves as a coalition of local LGBT activists dissatisfied over the way Capital Pride has been run, called on their supporters to “pack” the May 8 board meeting to push for radical changes in this year’s Pride events.

The audience appeared evenly divided in its support or opposition to Capital Pride’s current plans for Pride in the way it cheered and applauded speakers voicing differing opinions.

But the large majority of those who spoke, other than Capital Pride board members, voiced strong criticism of what they said was Capital Pride’s reluctance to change its events from a celebration to a protest to reflect the political changes brought about by last year’s presidential election.

“Why are you having weapons manufacturers as sponsors?” said one audience member, who was among those demanding that Capital Pride immediately eliminate corporate sponsors, especially those that are part of what he said was the “military-industrial complex.”

The audience member may have been referring to U.S. defense contractors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin that are among the Capital Pride corporate sponsors this year.

A woman who said she was a Native American said another of Capital Pride’s corporate sponsors, Wells Fargo Bank, was financing the Dakota Access Pipeline, which she said threatened to destroy sacred lands where Native Americans were “victims of genocide.”

Capital Pride President Bernie Delia; the group’s executive director, Ryan Bos; and board members Rachel Gleischman and Vernon Wall, who served as moderators for the discussion, each said Capital Pride had yet to develop criteria and a policy for determining who the corporate sponsors should be.

Delia said the board would conduct a reassessment of how corporate sponsors are approved but said there wouldn’t be enough time to do this for the 2017 Pride events.

Bernie Delia (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Capital Pride board member and Treasurer Ashley Smith said he would do more research on Wells Fargo to determine if Capital Pride should continue to retain the bank as a corporate sponsor.

“We will let you know what we decide,” he said. “At this point it is too close to 2017 Pride so the reassessment will have to apply to next year.”

Angela Peoples (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Angela Peoples, executive director of the LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL and a member of the No Justice No Pride coalition, said she and others concerned about the direction of Capital Pride have been raising objections to corporate sponsors and police presence at Pride events for the past several years.

“Who is making these decisions?” she asked. “If Capital Pride is committed to listening to the people, who is making these decisions?”

Peoples was among several speakers at the meeting who called on some of Capital Pride’s board members to step down to allow others who they said reflected the true sentiment of the LGBT community, to take their place immediately.

Organizers of No Justice No Pride have argued that D.C. police have targeted LGBT people of color, especially transgender women forced to engage in sex work, for arrest and harassment. They have called on Capital Pride to ban uniformed police from participating in the Pride parade and festival, including members of the police LGBT Liaison Unit.

Delia and other Capital Pride officials have said they understand the concerns about past police-related problems but they believe D.C. police overall have changed and anti-LGBT harassment is far less common.

“It is unacceptable that trans women or men are treated badly by the police,” said Wall. “But we must work together rather than push the police away.”

Delia said last week that Capital Pride would not change its longstanding policy of allowing police and corporate sponsors to be a part of the Pride events. Although he didn’t repeat those comments at Monday night’s meeting he said nothing to indicate Capital Pride had changed its position on those two issues.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, meanwhile, passed a resolution opposing No Justice No Pride’s call for banning D.C. police and corporations from participating in Capital Pride events.

Acting D.C. Police Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the police liaison units, and Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, supervisor of the LGBT Liaison Unit, attended Monday’s Capital Pride meeting in civilian clothes but wore their badges and police name tags.

“While we weren’t in our formal uniforms we clearly identified as police officers because we wanted to make sure the people didn’t think we were hiding or trying to infiltrate the group but that we were visible as openly gay and openly transgender police officers,” Parson told the Blade.

“But we didn’t say anything because we were here to listen to what this community has to say,” he said. “And the message I hear is they still want to be heard and I stand ready and Jessica stands ready and this police department stands ready to listen and make changes where we can so that people feel safe because that’s what we’re about.”

Parson, who is gay, and Hawkins, a transgender woman, routinely attend LGBT events.

Ruby Corado, founder and executive director of the LGBT community services center Casa Ruby, told the gathering she has good relations with many of the Capital Pride board members and said the board should pay attention to the issues raised by those expressing concern.

“The issues that are on the table are real,” she said. “If you are not a person of color or trans you don’t feel these issues,” she said, adding, “you should acknowledge that you don’t have equality on this board.”

Among other things, Corado proposed that marginalized members of the LGBT community, including trans women of color, be the ones selected to lead the Capital Pride parade on June 10.

Ruby Corado (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Transgender activist Savanna Wanzer, a member of the Capital Pride board and the lead organizer of D.C.’s annual Capital Trans Pride, and Jose Gutierez, founder and organizer of D.C.’s Latino Pride, praised Capital Pride for playing an important role in supporting those two events.

Gutierez said he was asking Capital Pride to provide additional financial support for Latino Pride.

Wanzer said that as a transgender woman of color she was troubled that some of the speakers criticizing Capital Pride were not recognizing that transgender people and people of color were working hard to build a more equitable and inclusive Pride.

Sue Doster, co-president of Inter Pride, a New York-based group that represents LGBT Pride organizations in the U.S. and abroad, appeared to capture the sentiment of Capital Pride officials in her remarks at the meeting.

“There is a realization that not all people feel the Prides are representing all LGBT people,” she said. “I see real, honest self-reflection on the part of Capital Pride, New York Pride and L.A. Pride,” she continued. “We hear you having this debate, and you have started the process of change.”

Members of No Justice No Pride, however, said the change by Capital Pride wasn’t coming soon enough.

“We are planning a series of events as an alternative to Pride for those who are not interested in participating in the official Capital Pride festivities,” No Justice No Pride spokesperson Drew Ambrogi told the Blade after the meeting.

“We appreciated the opportunity to hear about and discuss many issues related to Pride 2017 activities with a large and diverse group of LGBTQ community members,” Delia told the Blade in a statement Tuesday morning. “This is a year when our visibility and actions are more important than ever. With that in mind, we have decided to take several actions:

  • “The first contingent in the Capital Pride Parade will represent a diverse cross section of our community who are most marginalized and under threat, including queer and trans youth, trans people, especially trans women of color and undocumented LGBTQ people.
  • “Capital Pride will assist in hosting two Russian LGBT activists to “spotlight the urgent and deplorable anti-gay actions” by the government of Chechnya.
  • “Increased ‘support and resources’ will be allocated for Latino Pride.
  • “It will explore working with trans youth groups and leaders to help in organizing more youth events with partners.
  • “Working groups will be formed to ‘explore and create policies to increase transparency, access and community involvement in the Board by the broader LGBTQ community, including sponsorship and diverse representation throughout the organization.’
  • “Capital Pride ‘commits to making public a thorough response to the many questions and issues raised at the forum as soon as possible but not before this year’s Pride activities, which begin this weekend and continue through June.’”

Peoples said on Tuesday morning that she is aware of plans for an alternative Pride event during the Pride weekend of June 10-ll but she was not involved with those plans.

“I think the vast majority of the people at the meeting last night were not happy with what they saw,” she said, adding that Capital Pride’s leadership showed no commitment to make structural changes such as replacing current board members with others from the community.

“That’s another indication to me that they’re interested in only tinkering around the edges and not actually responding to the real concerns of the community,” she said.

‘Alternative’ Pride event announced

No Justice No Pride announced on its Facebook page on Tuesday that it plans to hold an alternative “Queer + Trans Festival” on Saturday, June 10, from 1-7 p.m. at McPherson Square in downtown D.C. The event would partially overlap with the Capital Pride Parade, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m. at 23rd and P Streets, N.W. and usually lasts until 8 p.m.

“This festival will provide food, entertainment, as well as opportunities to connect with local LGBTQ+ groups,” the announcement says. “We’re coming together to celebrate our identities, our communities, and our shared history of resistance – we hope to see you there!”

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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 various groups who continue and persist on bringing their social agenda’s that are well outside the needs and interests of the LGBT community need to be told to go elsewhere. PRIDE celebrates the LGBT community from where we have come and where we shall go. Dividing the LGBT community is counterproductive. Although their issues may be valid they are NOT specific LGBT issues.

    • They don’t care. They’ve decided that LGBT issues are “bourgeois distractions” from their Marxist dystopian fantasy.

      • The real issue, of course, is tipping generously for good service.

        Also, in this case, figuring out how to pay for the alt-event.

        • And not just pay for it, but getting volunteers to help put is together. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to find out the mountains they have to climb. These whiners will find that putting words into action isn’t as easy as they might think. I predict failure.

    • While I with ‘some’ of your sentiments. Dividing? This community has divided for years and is not coming together no time soon. And the so called interest of the LGBT Community, which one? However agree this can be by this group at another time and place.

  • So the far-left wackos turned out, while the normal majority stayed home.

  • One obvious omission from this story was mention of the nasty, hateful comments and unfounded accusations made by many of the No Justice attendees towards the Board members. The Pride Board members sat there and patiently listed to these folks and when the No Justice folks did not hear the response they wanted, they blasted the Board with shouts of “white privilege”, “tokens”, and all kinds of profane comments. No Justice is just looking for their next “vicitim” to terrorize rather than engaging in a thoughtful discussion….”my way or the highway” doesn’t cut it in the grown-up world, children.

    • CPA and their board, whether you feel they are wrong or right were respectful.
      They let people speak. Hurling untrue accusations at people. Nothing constructive, Mocking activists Ruby Corado and Savanna Wanzer. Total rudeness to Rick Rosendall…one of them decided to sit in front of him to block him form speaking.
      Ryan Bos attempted to answer Ruby. But the crowd only shut him up. Yet they wanted answers…he was trying to give one.
      Angela People’s and the 3 people she was sitting with ( all pictured in article )were opening laughing at speakers. Most notably Jose Guitierzz ( his accent) and SaVanna. How on earth is this constructive?.
      Total ignorance that CPA produces many events beyond the parade and festival. They’ve acknowledged issues. Are they there yet…no? Are they slow? Yes.
      But Ryan has moved this organization further , and listens.
      And the Bryan Pruitt comments…he’s been asked to leave. End of story.

  • “Delia said the board would conduct a reassessment of how corporate sponsors are approved but said there wouldn’t be enough time to do this for the 2017 Pride events.”

    A catch-all excuse implying the CPA never meant to be effective. So typical, and out-of-touch. I suppose the CPA enjoys so much privilege that the most recent election didn’t effect them. Where is either progress, or effective leadership? Something tells me the CPA thinks the point of this meeting was simply for them to be seen. I wonder what next year’s excuse will be.

    • It sounds very sincere to me.

      • agreed. just because they can’t push out sponsors now (because who’s paying those bills?) doesn’t mean they won’t reevaluate for upcoming events. get real.

        • I hope that was for Kurt. Otherwise I think you’re the one who needs to get real pretending that nobody can see through your constant excuses explaining why you can’t make changes, and made bad decisions in the first place. Like I said: And I wonder what next year’s excuse will be.

      • Lol. I didn’t ask. Triggered? Then stop reading comment sections. Otherwise accept that my comment stands.

    • Could you tell me where they’re giving out that privilege? I’d like to get some more of it!

      • Wait. What a stupid troll. So if they’ve already “given you some” you dumb cuck then explain why you don’t remember where you got some in the first place.

        • You’re such a nasty scold with no sense of humor. No wonder people can’t stand SJW’s and all of your bullshit concepts. Get along to your gender studies class, you loser.

          • Lmfao! SJW? You’re so triggered. You mad bro?

            Look this is a more accurate perspective: I’m the homosexual, and you’re the triggered crumb who trolled a gay newspaper’s comment section to satisfy your fix for spewing hate. And remember that looking back on how you got yourself into this mess in the first place. Lmfao!

            And whatever gender studies even is you triggered neanderthal. Thanks for the nonsense, but even you’re entire premise for a rebuttal is illogical. I bet the truth of the matter is you were just projecting in a blind attempt to make a stab at a comeback. YOU took the “gender studies”, because you’re a straight loser who’s only too desperate to get next to girls. Lmfao! Only it didn’t work so now you’re just lashing out at homosexuals. You’re a laughingstock!

            Lastly as you can see I have a fantastic sense of humor as I just appropriately made a joke out of you! And you are laughing aren’t you? Afterall, you wouldn’t want to make a hypocrite out of yourself now would you? Haha! I win your little flame war! Now eat it loser scum, and don’t forget who your daddy is.

  • Umm…I was associated with Pride back in the late ’70s and early ’80s with my late partner Jim McCollam. It’s always been rather controversial in what and who it did or did not represent. This is always going to be the case. It’s a diverse community and is rightly represented as such. I personally agree that it has become too commercial but I understand the need. As to banning the police, what an ill-founded idea. All we would need some wacko a la Orlando to show up with an AK-47 and they would wonder where the police protection was. Bad idea.

  • As one who was involved in Pride events in Salt Lake City for many years (booths and vendors) I found that you always have people coming out of the woodwork who do nothing but criticize and complain, but do little otherwise to help out the events.

    In SLC, we heard the same griping that it was always the same people running the show, but when we had our annual organizing meetings or a post-mortem of the just-held Pride event these people were never to be seen. And this was a huge Pride Day celebration with close to 75,000+ people, 3 stages of entertainment and hundreds of vendors. We would start attempting to recruit volunteers months before Pride month and had few people really wanting to get involved. No one, not even the organizers, were paid for their efforts.

    I suggest that these “whiners” start giving their “input” at organizational meetings instead of waiting for a month before the event is held. Then their ideas/complaints might hold some water. These are the folks who can always do things better, but won’t work to make it so.

    Pride events don’t just “happen” out out thin air. The organizers start early and work hard to make sure every one has a good time, but you’re never going to please everyone.

    Contracts are signed, money exchanges hands. These events are put together like a business and that is what is involved to make things run smoothly. These are also the things that make Pride successful.

    STOP GRIPING AND START PARTICIPATING if you want to change things. Otherwise, STFU!

    • Being raised Mormon, and having been to the “Daze” of 47 Parade sponsored by the Church before, going to an SLC Pride parade with my gay cousin has always been on my personal bucket list. Planning for that event has to be a huge undertaking, given all the roadblocks that the Mormons must throw up. By all reports Pride SLC is supposed to be a very well-attended, well-supported event, even with Church objections.


      • Yeah…I read the news. I know all about Wells Fargo….so what?
        Pride shouldn’t take $$ from anyone who wants to give it to defray the huge expense of putting on such an event?
        I’m talking about the people who always have a gripe and have NEVER contributed a damn or make Pride successful. If Wells Fargo, or any other institution wants to support us, I say take their money. If you don’t want to bank at WF, then don’t. It’s a free country. If the Queer community wants to boycott or refuse money from everyone we have a problem with, we’ll put on 3rd rate events no one will want to attend.
        I’m speaking from my many years of involvement in Pride.
        Just what have you done for your LGBTQ community lately? Put up or shut up.

  • I would think with all the extra planning ahead to deal with the Trump regime, that attacking one another would take a backseat in an important event planning meeting. But life and drama do seem to go together, especially when they really shouldn’t.

    • Attacking one another is what LGBT people do best.

      • Perhaps. There are some strong differences in how to press forward for full civil rights, which the LGBTQ community still does not enjoy, and the Trump regime appears to be an ominous threat to the hard-fought gains in rights that they now enjoy. Let’s just hope they save some of their wrath for the people who actually deserve it, and not waste it on one another.

  • So, NJNP wants to limit the diversity of the Pride event? Because the LGBT community includes LGBT police, military, Republicans, corporate employees and management, landlords, and even – gasp! – NRA members. Here at SF and Oakland Pride, Pink Pistols marches, Log Cabin marches, SFPD and OPD march, LGBT anti-abortion people march. At St Petersburg, FL Pride, the LGBT Pentecostals, LGBT police and LGBT military veterans march. It’s time to acknowledge that we queers are not the exclusive province of the far left. Yes, MOST of us tend to be more liberal than the average American, but we truly are everywhere. In all the major Pride events, I would support limiting the number of marchers in corporate contingents, just because 1200 Google employees marching in company t-shirts makes a long, boring stretch of parade, and the many corporations doing that have made the SF parade last all day, which is too much. But corporate sponsorship not only pays for the Pride events, it shows the rest of America that we have power. There are contingents in the Pride parade that I find personally distasteful. Frankly, regardless of one’s view on circumcision, the signs carried by the intactivists are just as repugnant as the ones carried by rabid anti-abortion protesters. I’m not crazy about exposing kids to the antics of the Society of Janus contingent. But those are my personal preferences and I don’t expect my local Pride organization to accommodate them. Neither should NJNP be allowed to dictate who may participate or who may sponsor Pride. What happened to inclusiveness? Was it only for the chosen victim du jour?

  • They want to have an enemy so that they continue to have a reason to protest. If all white gay men are bad, that gives them a “reason” to fight. No answer given will ever be good enough. Oh, btw, the NJNP group is run by a cis white gay man. Irony, no?

  • “No Justice No Pride announced on its Facebook page on Tuesday that it plans to hold an alternative “Queer + Trans Festival” on Saturday, June 10, from 1-7 p.m. at McPherson Square in downtown D.C.”

    I think that this is a great idea. If people are unhappy with the existing event and don’t feel that their concerns are being heard or acted upon, then they should move forward and create events of their own. Compromise seems unlikely here, so provide an alternative for the people who want one.

  • I’d like to nominate Martha Stewart to be the Honorary Pride Queen. I just saw her on Youtube rapping (yes rapping) about the uses of baking soda in the kitchen! BTW, FU NJNP!

  • Seen this before. Young utopians get employed as activists. Further radicalized on the job and become an uncompromising purists. Instead of targeting worst offenders, attack “impure” supporters. After ten years, gets burnt out – hired as social worker job and finally a successful formula that creates real change.

    Meanwhile young utopians get employed as………

  • You’re a Republican who’s triggered by the word homosexual on a website for an LGBT newspaper trolling the comments section using terms like SJW? Lmfao! Thank you for making my point for me you stupid homophobe. I knew that if I let you keep posting on my thread you would only end up hanging yourself with your own words. Plan on using racist or anti-Jewish slurs next too? Lmfao!

    You’re a hatemongering misogynistic homophobe who feels supported by the current CPA. So don’t ask why nobody on this entire website could care less about your concerns, and furthermore why the CPA needs to change in the 2nd place. So on that note I would definitely say that you’re the one who keeps revealing more about themself than they had expected to. Take your hate politics back to whatever conversion therapy ranch sent you, and tell them your daddy sent you. Oh, or was that the “help” you were referring about? Were you just advertising conversion therapy on top of everything else? Lmfao! You’re a laughingstock! No thank you! No I want to be as far from whatever they made you into as possible! Your daddy’s going to stay a proud homosexual you hapless idiot. Lmfao!

    But let’s see the running tally:
    — You’re in favor of anything the CPA does that exacerbates privilege.
    — You trolled The Washington Blade’s website using the term SJW in the comments section.
    — You used the term gender studies disparagingly implying that you’re a heterosexual who has problems with women, and so now hates all women for it instead of just doing the work on yourself you would need to do to be a better person for them in the 1st place.
    — You hypocritically shame persons without a sense of humor while mislabeling those of who actually do have a fabulous sense of humor as being one of you.
    — You encourage conversion therapy.
    — Oh, and you’re triggered by the term homosexual.

    And I bet more than just the word homosexual triggers you too. Lmfao! I bet you hate the homosexual things I do with other men as well. Apparently someone forgot she was trolling the actual website for a homosexual news and information newspaper before she opened her fat mouth for a 3rd attempt at a rebuttal. Lmfao!

    And would you look at that. It seems I’ve won your little flame war for the 3rd time in a row! You mad bro? Lmfao!

    • Oh sweety, you are just having a hissy fit with all these homophobic gay men who don’t agree with you or your deranged agenda against the Police Dept. and those evil corporate sponsors who oppress us by giving us money to hold the event! Gee, how awful!

      Oh and you use a term like “homosexual”, which hasn’t been in the culture’s vocabulary since the 1970’s and just can’t understand why someone thinks you are rather fishy?

      Oh and how dare I think gender studies is hogwash and pseudoscience considering most of it is just made up and nothing more than rebranded marxism?

      Yes, I see how just everyone in the chat posting is in agreement with you even though they are saying the exact opposite.

      I think it’s time for your psych meds and nap-time honey!

      • You’re not even gay grandpa. You “forgot to make yourself gay” in your comments when you started being a triggered little Republican. Remember? Lmfao! I’ve never seen anyone so stupid as you. Lost yourself did ya’ there big girl? Go back to your conversion therapy ranch grandpa. Our movement has no place for your hatemongering. Lmfao! You triggered loser.

        And stop contradicting yourself if you’re trying to make a point that’s relevant Mike Pence. Lmfao! You’re not mad at me. You’re just mad at yourself, because you now know perfectly well that you’ve already shot yourself in the foot bigtime getting lost in all of your snootiness. You got lost being a snotnosed homophobic foot soldier for the Republican party you crybaby princess? Lmfao! Don’t get mad at me. I just exposed you is all. You’ve got egg on your own face, lol.

        Your privilege is coming under attack. So it’s time for you to whip out your big guns isn’t it Republican “honey bunch”? Lmfao! Terms like SJW and gender studies. So smart and sensible. No that doesn’t exactly prove my point. Don’t get mad at me “honey lamb”. As if any homosexual talks like you. Lmfao! Deal with it homophobe with your fake imitations of how you think we talk. You shot your own self in the foot arguing one thing and then proving to be exactly what I called you in the first place. Idiot! Lmfao! And I’ve noticed you still don’t have a sense of humor on how stupid you’ve made yourself look. Now do you “sweetie pie”? Lmfao!

        And before your next rebuttal I suggest you take the time to educate your continued dumbness on just what a contradiction is, because it’s you and something tells me you’re going to make the exact same mistake again that keeps you losing this godforsaken argument that’s got you so triggered in the first place. Lmfao!

        Review your running tally:
        — You’re in favor of anything the CPA does that exacerbates privilege.
        — You trolled The Washington Blade’s website using the term SJW in the comments section.
        — You used the term gender studies disparagingly implying that you’re a heterosexual who has problems with women, and so now hates all women for it instead of just doing the work on yourself you would need to do to be a better person for them in the 1st place.
        — You hypocritically shame persons without a sense of humor while mislabeling those of who actually do have a fabulous sense of humor as being one of you.
        — You encourage conversion therapy.
        — Oh, and you’re triggered by the term homosexual.
        — Mocking how you think us real homosexuals talk.
        — Telling lies that reveal your constant contradictions.
        — Trolling the website of The Washington Blade.

        Drink bleach you triggered crumb. I won for my 4th time in a row. You mad bro? Yup. You most definitely are, and triggered is more like it. Lmfao! Eat it!

      • Lmfao! I win again!

  • If this comments section is proof of anything it’s that only proud white supremacists support the CPA. So far comments have expressed a hate for:

    Fairness at the expense of privilege
    Diversity (As opposed to blacks. That was very clever.)
    The youth in general

    Good job CPA. I’ve never seen so much hate that plans on being in attendance at a Captal Pride festival.

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