May 12, 2017 at 2:43 pm EDT | by Mark Lee
Small gang of LGBT Pride critics stink of ‘privilege’
Capital Pride board meeting, gay news, Washington Blade, pride critics

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

I had the privilege of serving as producer of the inaugural D.C. Pride festivities when first expanded and relocated to “America’s Main Street” of Pennsylvania Avenue in 1995. I was disheartened and dismayed this week by the embarrassing demeanor and preposterous demands of a small gaggle of objectors at a Capital Pride Alliance meeting.

The hundreds of volunteers, 18-member board, two paid staff and six independent contractors laboring to produce the 43rd annual Capital Pride celebration have had to suffer a last-minute nuisance this year.

Worse, they were wholly disrespected and personally disparaged by a group of far-left zealots during a churlish attempt at hegemony.

Despite hurling accusatory admonitions toward anyone not in agreement while claiming they felt “unsafe” at the civil and well-moderated meeting, the group commanded that those not among them “check their privilege” in a manner intended to distort and diminish discussion. In fact, it was these diehard militants who were guilty of exercising an arrogant “privilege” that only those who had not participated in the diligent work to produce the events while engaging the full diversity of the community would deem virtuously owed them.

The room stank of it.

Most are unaware of the manufactured conflict propagandized by this small group with an extremist political agenda. Their grousing is so unjustified and demands so over-the-top ridiculous that providing them the attention they so desperately and transparently seek is done with hesitation.

What sadly seems most lost upon these complainers is that there is negligible existing or potential sympathy among the rank-and-file for their outrageous ultimatums. They seem blissfully oblivious to the fact that their assemblage was no more fully representative of the broader LGBT community than those gathered down the street at a neighborhood gay bar. They purport to speak for all of us when in reality they are reflective of few outside their miniscule number.

These protesters are part of an orchestrated “No Justice No Pride” effort plaguing LGBT Pride committees in several U.S. cities, as well as Canada and the U.K. Pride events are merely the proxy victim in a rhetorical whining war against capitalism, banks, the military, police, prisons, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the rest of their publicized list.

Similar to this tiny group in D.C., small self-alienated gangs of anti-business and anti-police political fanatics have targeted local Pride committees hoping to dictate rejection of corporate financial contributions and business support. They also seek prohibiting local police from participating in parades and festivals to even include LGBT officer contingents and eliminating all police department management of public safety, street closure, traffic and pedestrian management, and other resident-respecting civil operational tasks – lest uniformed police “trigger” anyone.

They also have as their goal ad hoc takeover coups of local Pride groups, proclaiming in D.C. that the coordinating board must be immediately replaced with “marginalized and oppressed” people by casting out any white, cis, gender-binary and “privileged” – especially males – among them.

Really. I’m not making this stuff up.

There is a startling irony in demanding that allied corporate support underwriting fully half the cost of a yearlong undertaking with a seven-figure budget be outlawed. Not only is the LGBT community characterized by a disproportionately high percentage of business owners, corporate executive leadership and enterprise management, the business community is recognized for its leading role in advocating and achieving advancement of equality.

The LGBT community celebrates and embraces the cultural affirmation and public policy support of business allies, ignoring the chronic grievance-collectors hoping to push non-LGBT issues on which we may reasonably, and often do, disagree.

The D.C. Pride committee has had to bear the burden of a self-indulgent public hissy-fit by a small and unrepresentative group when final event logistics are the priority.

Appreciation is due the Capital Pride Alliance for a tireless commitment to producing one of the most diverse, successful and respected Pride celebrations anywhere.

It’s a pity they didn’t hear that this week.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at

  • Two snaps up!

    • After your outburst this past Monday . . . I’ll leave this here for you to read when you have to capacity to do so.

      • You do know that racism is not only white against black right. So lets talk about the blanket term “gay white nmen” and the generalizations made. Racism: the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

        • Actually Will, you are confusing “racism” with “prejudice.” Prejudice can exist across races (or gender, religion, sexuality, etc.), but racism can only exist when prejudice and power are combined. Racism = Prejudice + Power. This means that when those who are in power (or have privilege within a system) are prejudiced toward other groups, then those in power are racist, and therefore systematic racism exists.

          In American society, racism is systematic and institutional . . . meaning it is built into our society. Cis, white, men (and most often heterosexual) are treated better than people of color or transgender individuals at this time. These men should be working toward the equality of oppressed groups . . . not squashing their voices.

          May all the cis white men failing to listen to the concerns of these marginalized communities be radically confronted with their privilege and shown the same respect they have shown these community members.

          • You do realize that gay men are marginalized when it comes to straight men right?

          • Do you realize that people of color and transgender individuals are just as marginalized and dehumanized within the gay community? Just check Grindr and Scruff profiles.

            While the problem of racism is systematic and institutional in America, gay men have embraced it within our own community.

            Do you remember what it felt like before marriage equality, before greater acceptance of sexual orientation, before coming out of the closest? This is probably the same feeling that each and every person of color and transgender individual feels every day. Why would they embrace the systems and institutions that create and propagate this feeling?

  • It must be nice to be able to declare issues of police violence and mass incarceration, environmental terrorism, economic redlining, and the underlying racism of it all as “non-LGBT” issues to all the LGBT people who live with those issues just because you’re able to ignore them.

    • It must be nice to live in a fantasyland where smug sanctimony passes for an argument, a problem increasingly afflicting the far left. To the extent those issues you name actually involve discrimination against people *because of* their sexual orientation or gender identity, they are LGBT issues. On the other hand, the mere fact that a tiny fraction of all the people who are affected by those issues just coincidentally happen to be gay or trans does not make those issues any more LGBT issues than speeding tickets, tax cuts, nuclear proliferation, or the space program, which also coincidentally happen to affect some gay or trans people. Why are you “betraying” all gay and trans people who are threatened by nuclear proliferation or who would like tax cuts by “erasing” those issues? The issues you name obviously just happen to be your own pet non-LGBT issues that you want to commandeer a sexual orientation and gender identity movement to address. No.

      • OK, but then big business and capitalism are also non-LGBT issues, and by your reasoning Lee shouldn’t be arguing otherwise.

      • OK, but then the promotion of corporate interests is also a non-LGBT issue, and by your reasoning Lee shouldn’t be arguing otherwise. We certainly shouldn’t be subjected to his “self-indulgent hissy-fit.”

        • When those corporations go out of their way to support LGBT rights against religious fanatics and provide jobs for members of our community we shouldn’t spit in their faces.

          • Name one corporation that has ‘gone out of its way’ and not just chosen the option that maximises PR and profits.

            I’ll wait.

          • SUBARU of America – they were the first organization to create adverts for the LGB population back in the 1990’s when we were personae non grata. Also, they were among the original contributors to the LGBT Library. LGB’s buy from them in no more frequency then VW or Chevy.

            Our community is so ungrateful, even when these companies now give us money for events and careers.

          • Oh, so now we are supposed to be GREATFUL to the money factories?

            God I hate capitalism.

          • Gee, maybe Cuba is a better place? Oh no, probably not. Castro put us in prison for being gay.

            Perhaps Venezuela, oh no….I don’t want to resort to catching and roasting pigeons to avoid starvation in what was once the richest nation in South America!

            How do you expect to live?…Sitting around doing nothing?

          • Yes, Cuba is bad so unchecked capitalism is the only answer.

            There’s no point this conversation continuing.

          • Yes, please go take an enema! You seem so backed up it’s coming out of your mouth!

          • “God I hate capitalism.”

            What’s your humane and proven alternative? Hint: there isn’t one.

            Rage against capitalism all you want, but it’s the best we’ve got.

          • p.s. the power of the pink pound was WELL understood by the 90s… I was there.

          • Gee….didn’t DOMA get passed in 1996, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 1993 and Matthew Shepherd murdered in 1998?

            Oh that’s right, the 1990s were the heyday for gay rights!
            Yeah, I don’t think so!

            Subaru made a bold step to align with the LGBT population back in the day.

          • ‘the 1990s were the heyday for gay rights’
            learn to read, I never said that

          • Yet Subaru has no binding anti-discrimination policy for their American employees.

    • For years the ACLU has demanded CAMERAS ON COPS. Now that the cameras have exposed hate hoaxes but no cop wrongdoing. This year they started saying they wanted cop cameras turned off

  • BRAVO for standing up to these demagogic Snowflakes! The Holier than Thou from the Left are just as bad as those from the Right.

  • They have Right to Speak ,But less face it , Our Community has Become more of trying to be a FIT IN & be a

    Than being PROUD in your OWN Skin !
    By no means do I prance around ,and yeah you
    CAN’T tell I’m gay by looking, ,
    But if a bunch of Republican arseholes asks me than I’ll Definitely tell them -Yes I am,, And Whats it to Ya ?!!
    than Beat their Arses!
    I Have a Good job ,

    no way Would look down any LGBTQ family member –EVER !
    I’m proud of Our Heritage of Diversity None of us Could hold a good Jobs or have better fulfilled lives
    Without it !?

    When Vice president MIKE PENSE ,

    starts unleashing his Religious right on Snatching jobs Away from prominent Closet Cases , YES LIKE YOU-and Your Fancy Homes in the Burbs Go up on the Auction blocks,
    Then you won’t have to Privilege of a Log Cabin,,you’ll understand then what side you bread is buttered on ,,,lol???

    • Do you really think Republicans are the only ones with Mr. Lee’s views?
      I doubt it. He speaks for many of us from all sectors of the community. We don’t want or need your divisive rhetoric and anti-social toxicity.

  • Mr. Lee . . . I will just leave this here for you to read in your spare time when not calling members of the LGBTQIA+ community out on their “privilege”

    • Mr Lee speaks for many of us in the community. We want no part of your agenda!

      • “This event should only include those I approve of and all others should feel unwelcome. Happy Pride!”

        • The tail doesn’t wag the dog. Fringe views may certainly be expressed, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to view them in a positive manner. All of your name calling doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

          You’re just a bully ideologue. Gay men aren’t going to put up with your nonsense. We’ve fought much bigger battles in the past.

        • Says someone who wants the committee to reject the corporate sponsors that they don’t like and ban police officers from the parade. Pot, meet kettle.

  • Mr. Lee . . . I’ll just leave this here for you to read when calling people out on their “privilege”

  • I guess the writer does not like any group who has a different vision from his own. Let young people feel included and have a voice at the table. I am one who is for a march in DC instead of a pride event to drink beer and eat food. DC is the center of politics in the US and other cities are showing what political action should be. Lets remember what helped move the conversation Act Up, the three Marches during the 90’s, and the quilt. I am all for celebrating but maybe this year the stakes are to high.

    • I go to Pride to have fun and celebrate, not to be lectured to by self-righteous, political extremists who are out of touch with reality. Screw the regressive left and their dour scolding and fanaticism. They suck!

    • Pride events ARE NOT about cop-hating! Have YOUR OWN cop-hater event.

      • Uh, Pride IS a cop-hating event- it’s held in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, in which we kicked the everlovin’ cheez-whiz out of a bunch of bigoted cops. Your uninformed assertion that “Pride events ARE NOT about cop-hating,” shows that you know nothing about our history- like saying “the 4th of July isn’t about America’s independence from Britain,” or “X-mas has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.”

        If the creators of the first Pride parade realized that someday, the GLBTQ community would forget how the police raided our bars, brutalized us, shaved the heads of trans women, and ruined our lives by outing us, getting us fired and publicly humiliating us, maybe they would have called it “the Stonewall Police Riot Memorial Parade” instead. Absolut and Budweiser might have less interest in sponsorship if that were the name, but at least everyone would remember: THIS EVENT IS COMMEMORATING OUR COMMUNITY’S DEFENSE OF OUR PRIDE AND DIGNITY AGAINST POLICE OPPRESSION.

    • So gay pride gets swept under the rug? Why not march and show some anger toward the oppressor, not the oppressed.

      • they are probably hating homphobes, almost spys trying to destroy what was the root of getting so many people in america to realize there is great support for gay people as shown by pride parades all over the world

      • The radical progressives always go after the soft targets. It’s the psychology of a schoolyard bully: you pick on those who won’t fight back.

    • Having a different vision is fine. DEMANDING that every change only to their vision only without offering to work and help is obnoxious

      • Ah, my old friend, spouting more drivel that supports your white bottom line!

        • First of all you are not my friend. Second of all if you don’t see anything wrong with making total demands and not working together to come up with a solution that pleases everyone then yes dear you are privileged. . Also may i also remind you that the ONLY reason you have the rights that you have today and the ability to be demanding and petulant you won on the the backs of older LGBT activists. Many that you constantly lump into “cis gay white males”. So you are welcome. By the way take part in any anti-semitic protests like the one at Creating Change lately?

  • What about the very real transphobia that Capital Pride has shown in the last few years? That’s a large factor in the swell in numbers that No Justice No Pride is experiencing.

    • As long as the white, male, gay establishement in DC gets their party, they could care less about anything else.

      • Wow…you have some serious issues and are coming across as a racist discriminating the same way you label others…there’s some heavy resentment on your shoulders.

      • What a racist comment!

        • You’re in no position to turn around and complain about racism racist. At best you’re just a two faced white supremacist. Remember? Lmfao!

          • You don’t even make a convincing “homosexual”, so I wouldn’t talk about being two faced!!! What do you do, get drunk and sheitpost at your fraternity? LOL

      • They don’t owe you turning over their institutions to you. Start your own.

        • That’s a joke! These whiners only know how to complain and feel entitled. Like I give a ratz azz what some gender studies flunky thinks or says about things.

          • You’re the joke “whining complaining and feeling entitled”. Project much? Figure out how words work, and stop contradicting yourself a–hole.

            And so Aram was supposed to successfully pass gender studies like you did Kemwit? Lmfao! That’s an even bigger joke. Sounds like you were the flunky, and you’re right: we don’t give a ratz azz what you “think or say about things”. Hahahaha!

          • Do people “pass” a gender studies course? LOL. I thought everyone got a gold star and small trophy to take home so they don’t get their feelings hurt if there are unequal outcomes!!!!

        • They did start their own: this one.

      • Aram, that is an absurd caricature and you should know better. Of course there is a party crowd, but they are no more representative of the wider LGBT community than the smug, insulting Oberlin style radicals (I helped convict some years ago as a jury foreman) at the Pride board meeting last Monday. A great many people of all kinds, including cis white men as we are now labeled, have worked productively across lines of diversity for many years. Your insults are about as well-aimed and helpful as a drive-by shooting.

      • Maybe they could care about north korea setting off an EMP over the US. Even with a weeks warning for Hurricane Sandy many in NYC dumpster dived for food. An EMP could kill over 1/2 of the US.


    • As someone from outside the white, cis-gender gay male community, DC’s Pride has always felt exclusionary to me. The problem is that if you belong to the in group, you don’t even notice those one the outside, and your arrogance and security makes you disinclined to listen to them. Easier to level ad hominem attacks and completely dismiss their concerns because it might interfere with “your” party.

    • Why don’t you organize a Trans Pride event and not parasitize every gay and lesbian event and institution?

      • Parasitize? Get your facts straight (no pun intended), cis white gay men are the parasites- if you disagree, then let’s see if you can name the trans women of color who started the Stonewall Riots which Pride memorializes. Letting trans people risk their lives fighting and then showing up just in time for the victory party is parasitic behavior- having the nerve to kick trans people out of the party celebrating their fight isn’t even something parasites stoop to, however.

        • Marsha P. Johnson, Jackie Hormona, and Zazu Nova are widely regarded the vanguard of riot instigators. Sylvia Riviera’s presence is contested by a number of accounts.

          However, the vast majority of rioters were young, white, homeless gay youths. ‘Parasites’ I guess?

    • there is going to be a trans pride in DC different date

      Trans Pride is May 19-21

      trans people are a much smaller group so we dont want them lost and all but invisibde

    • You do know that Capital Pride supports Trans Pride correct and without CP there would be no TP

  • On more whining screed from entitled, white, gay D.C. pissed that that community won’t fit their preconceived narrative.

    Pride is for the youth, not tired queens who think equality means being flamboyant in the break room at Raytheon. You are stacking people who have real concerns and who were passionate enough to actually show up and have their voices heard.

    You, as always, side with the establishment and mock those with less power and money for raising their voice, because you revel in your entitlement and worship the status quo. It is the same, sad act you’ve been pulling or twenty years.

    But ignore the youth at your peril. Remember when you fought the smoking ban and then rage-quit your little party when you didn’t get your way? Be ready to do the same with your pride plans very soon.

    • We cant take you seriousy when you feel its okay to call people names…sorry…but you arent winning here. You just come across as a bully.

    • Might do you some good to remember that it was the generations before you who fought for the freedoms that you take for granted today. The current crop of 20-somethings owe the incredible amount of privilege that they have to the same people that they demonize. By all means, fight for what is important to you, but respect your #%$&! elders.

    • Actually Pride is for the people who do the work to organize it and otherwise support it. As are Black Pride, Youth Pride, Take Back the Night marches, etc. Why are you hectoring other people and demanding they give you things? Organize your own intersectionality pride. All 80 people interested in it can show up.

    • Did you take enough physics to understand pendulums can swing back? There was a lot of backlash to the NC bathroom bill. The right has figured out showing people the extreme left works better for them than Ron Paul lecturing on the constitution.

    • Ageist much?

  • Seems to me that it would be easier, faster, and more realistic to create competing events than it would be to change the culture of the current event. There’s nothing stopping anyone from organizing events that meet their criteria and provide an alternative for those people who want one.

  • Thanks for this, Mark. These people are out of control and just using Pride as a platform to advance their own political agenda. Personally, I, too, wish that Pride wasn’t so commercial but we can’t go back to the good old days when the sale of beer supported the whole endeavor. You gotta pay for it somehow and you are correct that the majority of the businesses involved are LGBT allies. With respect to the police, that is so misguided as to be dangerous. All it would take would be one unstable person to ensure the carnage would exceed that of Pulse/Orlando. Then, they would be asking why the police didn’t do more.

  • I know! Let’s have a spelling contest.

  • We really, really hate gay men (like about 95% of the world) but we can’t admit it, so we’re going to spin our hatred into another issue that makes us look good.

  • LGBTQ cops have their place, corporations have their place. But in the growing disaster that is the U.S. under the Trump regime and the rise of the neo-fascists, if Pride is again nothing more than a drunken revel, then count me out. We aren’t safe; our (potential) allies aren’t safe. Neo-fascists and Christianists are coming to shred our rights and even take our lives. Any “celebration” that doesn’t reckon with the gravity of the situation is worse than a distraction. It spits on us, and it spits on our allies, all in the name of what in the past few years has been nothing more than an upper middle class gay male revelry.

  • Older white gay cisgender male tells LGBTQ youth to get off his well manicured lawn, story at 11.

  • Gay White Male privilege …

  • Ooh… just imagine, a load of disruptive queer people causing mischief against the status quo…

    That isn’t what Pride is abo…


  • Proof that gays can also be bro-douches…

  • Whenever I hear people attempt to define someone else with ridiculous labels, I cringe. Anyone who uses the words or acronyms cisgender, gender binary, “an LGBTQ”, or privileged to describe me is not going to win my support.

    We who have spent a lifetime working to gain equal protection under the law for gay and trans people don’t deserve the disrespect. Do these radical have any idea how hard we worked for gay and trans people to be able to serve openly in American police departments? Having “Black LiIves Matter ” disrupt a pride parade they were invited to participate is unforgivable.

    It’s time to toss these arrogant, disruptive radicals out on the street for as long as they intend to disrupt our parade and our work.

    • You seem to forget that Pride is about us overcoming police oppression, not being allowed to join the police force. If you never bothered to learn about how “disruptive” and “radical” GLBTQ history is, I suggest you Google “Stonewall Riots”- otherwise you look like an ignorant hypocrite with no respect for your community’s foundations.

      • You’re living 50 years ago in the past! This is 2017 and the Police Dept. works with the community every day. Many of us like the police and they do a thankless job protecting us.

        We are law the tax paying, law-abiding citizens, not the criminals.

  • Hey I got an idea. Our rights are being taken away, hate crimes are rising, and LGBT people in Chechnya are being sent to concentration camps. Lets complain about LGBT cops at PRIDE and corporate sponsorship because its an easy target.

  • I guess you reap what you sew!

  • The large number of comments on this story indicates that The Washington Blade should bring back its best-ever interactive column, which of course included a discussion of Lesbian tipping habits among other topics such as twinks vs. trolls, the tired bar scene, and, of course, Nordstrom. Thank you.

  • I just moved to DC from NYC and I do have to say I am in shock of the amount of white gay cisgendered males in this town, and my inability to see trans/non-binary and truly queer people in this DC. I do believe that instead of being critical of small number of under-represented LGBT members (Who clearly have a desperate need to be represented), we should give them a platform and listen to their needs. If we are going to be waving a rainbow flag we might as well remind ourselves of what that flag truly stands for. I have no political agenda btw.

    • Your comment terminology reveals your political agenda. Lefties use terms like “cisgendered”, not the rest of us. DC is the South and many of us simply don’t buy all that marxist and gender studies terminology nonsense.

      • I think you assume I have a political “agenda”. If we are going to be talking about LGBTQ rights and events, we might as well get educated about the terminology and the very concept of what “queer” is. The fact that you think that “cisgendered” is “Marxist” shows that you actually might have difficulties understanding what Marxism is and/or what “cisgender” means. But let me refresh you on the definition of queer: “denoting or relating to a sexual or gender identity that does not correspond to established ideas of sexuality and gender” so when you say the “rest of us” I want to know who you are referring to.

        • #1 – I’m not a “queer”.
          #2 – Just because you are not aware of the philosophical underpinnings of the words you use – being Post-Modernism, doesn’t mean it ain’t so. You are simply ignorant of their origins.

          Whether you realize it or not, the words you are using are politically specific to a certain perspective – marxist identity politics.

          The “rest of us” are those people who do not use such terms or ask about someone’s pronouns, because we view it as a limitation on an indivual’s freedom of action and speech.

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