Connect with us

homepage news

Massive crowds expected for Capital Pride festivities

Dissident group mum on possible parade disruption



Capital Pride parade, gay news, Washington Blade

It’s Pride weekend, meaning hundreds of thousands will descend on D.C. for myriad events. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than 300,000 people from the D.C. metropolitan area and the Mid-Atlantic region are expected to participate in D.C.’s annual Capital Pride Parade on Saturday and the annual Capital Pride Festival and Concert on Sunday, according to Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes the Pride events.

Similar to recent years, the parade, festival, and concert serve as the finale to a month of LGBT Pride-related events in the nation’s capital, including the annual Black Pride, Trans Pride, Youth Pride and Latinx Pride.

As the city’s largest LGBT community event of the year, the festival was expected to include at least 300 booths representing LGBT organizations and LGBT-friendly groups, businesses, food and beverage vendors, and corporate sponsors, including many supportive churches and faith based groups.

Capital Pride officials expect between 300,000 and 350,000 people to show up at the festival throughout the day on Sunday. It takes place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. between 3rd Street and 7th Street.

With D.C.’s primary election scheduled to take place June 19, less than two weeks after this weekend’s Pride festivities, several D.C. Council members up for re-election and a number of their challengers will be marching in the parade and setting up booths at the festival. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is also up for re-election, was also expected to participate in the parade.

The concert, which is held on the festival’s main stage on Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol, was to include entertainment from nationally recognized headline performers, including singer, songwriter and actress Keri Hilson and Kim Petras and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Asia O’Hara.

Also scheduled to perform is 22-year-old singer, songwriter and actor Troye Sivan. Following the concert, which is scheduled to last until 8 p.m., a dance party will take place in front of the main stage from 8:15-10 p.m., according to Capital Pride officials.

Capital Pride organizers were hopeful that the unusual spell of protracted rainfall that has hit the D.C. area in the past few weeks would subside before the start of the weekend Pride events. Weather forecasts as of midweek showed a 40 percent chance of rain for Saturday and a 30 percent chance of rain on Sunday.

Capital Pride Executive Director Ryan Bos said all Pride events scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, including the parade, festival and concert, would proceed “rain or shine.”

Bos said at least 200 contingents consisting of floats, vehicles, marchers, and entertainers were expected to participate in the parade, which was scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at 21st and P Streets, N.W. near Dupont Circle.

The parade’s 1.5-mile route will take participants from the starting point to Dupont Circle, where it will turn onto New Hampshire Avenue and continue to R Street before turning right on 17th Street and proceeding along the 17th Street restaurant and entertainment strip. From there it will turn left on P Street and continue to 14th Street where it will head north before ending at 14th and R Street, N.W.

For the second year in a row, a block party will take place next to the parade route on 15th Street just north of P Street, according to Capital Pride officials. There will be a parade reviewing stand with bleacher seating along New Hampshire Avenue and an announcement stand on 14th Street just north of Church Street.

Disruption by protesters?

One of the unanswered questions surrounding this year’s Capital Pride Parade just days before it was scheduled to take place was whether the dissident group No Justice No Pride planned to block the path of the parade as it did last year as part of a protest against various policies and practices by Capital Pride.

D.C. police last year chose to reroute the parade rather than arrest the protesters, who blocked the path of the parade by linking arms to create a human barrier from one side of the street to the other.

The group said its civil disobedience action was aimed at what it claims were Capital Pride’s refusal to agree to its demands to ban police participation in the parade, ban corporate sponsors involved in the defense industry, and restructure the Capital Pride Board of Directors to include greater participation of transgender people of color and Native Americans.

Earlier this year, Capital Pride released a statement saying it had made a number of changes in its operations, including adding more people of color to its board and restricting corporate sponsors to corporations that have records of support for their LGBT employees and LGBT rights.

No Justice No Pride released its own statement a short time later in April saying it carefully reviewed the Capital Pride statement and concluded that “no substantive changes have been made to address the concerns of those who feel they have been left behind and pushed out” of the Pride festivities.

But the statement, which reiterated the group’s earlier demands, did not say what, if any, action No Justice No Pride would take in response to what it believes was Capital Pride’s failure to carry out those demands.

Two of the leading organizers of No Justice No Pride, Emmelia Talarico and Brittany Walsh, didn’t respond to an email from the Washington Blade this week asking whether the group planned to stage a protest against this year’s parade similar to its action last year.

The statement noted that Capital Pride’s criteria for screening corporate sponsors would not exclude those to which No Justice No Pride has objected, such as banks that lend money to projects the group believes have built oil pipelines on lands deemed sacred by Native Americans or defense contracting companies that manufacture weapons of war. The group said it also strongly objected to the presence of uniformed police officers in the parade or other Pride events based on what it says has been police mistreatment of LGBT people of color, especially transgender women of color.

Bos, the Capital Pride executive director, said all of its corporate sponsors have records of strong support for LGBT employees and LGBT rights. He said nearly all of the large corporations with contingents in this year’s parade, including the defense contracting company Northrop Grumman, were organized by LGBT employee groups within those companies.

The Capital Pride statement describing the changes it has made to increase its inclusivity and diversity among its board and leaders made no mention of any change in policies related to police or law enforcement agency presence in the parade or festival. One of No Justice No Pride’s demands called for barring from participation “in its festivities recruiters from any local, state, and federal law enforcement department or agency.”

The most recent list on the Capital Pride website of parade contingents and festival booths does not include a D.C. police contingent in the parade or a D.C. police booth at the festival. In past years the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit has operated a booth at the festival, and police officers in past years have marched in the parade.

The Capital Pride list, however, shows that the Fairfax County Police Department will have a contingent in the parade.

The Capital Pride list of parade participants also shows that U.S. Department of Justice Pride and FBI Pride, two LGBT employee groups, would be marching in the parade. The list shows that the CIA would have a booth at the festival.

In past years, an LGBT employee group at the CIA staffed the intelligence agency’s festival booth. Among other things, the CIA staffers at the booth sought to recruit festival goers for possible jobs at the CIA, a development that many LGBT rights advocates considered an important breakthrough for LGBT equality.

Matthew Shepard’s parents chosen as grand marshals

Among the notable contingents in this year’s parade will be the vehicle carrying the parade’s grand marshals, Dennis and Judy Shepard, the parents of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was beaten to death in a secluded field outside Laramie, Wyo., in 1998 in one of the nation’s most notorious anti-gay hate crimes.

A short time later, Dennis and Judy Shepard founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation in their son’s honor to advocate, among other things, for anti-hate crime laws and for ways to curtail hatred and violence against LGBT people.

A Capital Pride announcement says the Shepards would be leading a contingent organized by Marriott International, the lead sponsor of the parade, along with representatives of Casa Ruby, the D.C.-based LGBT community services center.

Others scheduled to join the parade were the Capital Pride Heroes, individuals nominated by the community and recognized for their work that has had “a positive, significant, and lasting impact on the LGBTQ+ community,” according to a Capital Pride announcement. They include Gregory A. Cendana; Jessie Garcia; Patrick Grady; Jorge Hernandez; and Samantha Master.

Those selected for Capital Pride’s Engendered Spirits Award, which recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the transgender community, were Karen Kendra Holmes and Linda Roberts.

Bianca Humady Rey was selected this year by Capital Pride for its Bill Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. Pixie Windsor was chosen for the Capital Pride Larry Stansbury Award for Outstanding Service to the LGBTQ+ Community.

The full list of all parade and festival participants along with a detailed list of entertainers and events associated with Capital Pride’s weekend activities can be viewed at

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

homepage news

Top 10 Blade news stories by web traffic

COVID breakthroughs, Equality Act, and anti-trans attacks



Elliot Page created excitement by posting his first photo in swim trunks back in May.

Each year our staff gathers in late December to review the highest trafficked stories of the year and there’s more than a little bit of competitive spirit as we review the results. Here are the top 10 stories by web traffic at  HYPERLINK “” for 2021.

#10: Mark Glaze, gun reform advocate, dies at 51

The sad, tragic story of Glaze’s death captivated readers in November. 

#9: COVID breakthrough infections strike summer tourists visiting Provincetown

This one went viral in July after a COVID outbreak was blamed on gay tourists.

#8: Thank you, Kordell Stewart, for thoughtful response to ‘the rumor’

This opinion piece thanked the former NFL quarterback for writing a personal essay addressing gay rumors. 

#7: Elliot Page tweets; trans bb’s first swim trunks #transjoy #transisbeautiful

The actor created excitement by posting his first photo in swim trunks back in May.

#6: Romney declares opposition to LGBTQ Equality Act

Mitt Romney disappointed activists with his announcement; the Equality Act passed the House but never saw a vote in the Senate.

#5: White House warns state legislatures that passing anti-trans bills is illegal

The year 2021 saw a disturbing trend of GOP-led legislatures attacking trans people.

#4: Lincoln Project’s avowed ignorance of Weaver texts undercut by leaked communications

The Lincoln Project’s leaders, amid a scandal of co-founder John Weaver soliciting sexual favors from young men, have asserted they were unaware of his indiscretions until the Blade obtained electronic communications that called that claim into question.

#3: FOX 5’s McCoy suspended over offensive Tweet

Blake McCoy tweeted that obese people shouldn’t get priority for the COVID vaccine. 

#2: Transgender USAF veteran trapped in Taliban takeover of Kabul

Among the Americans trapped in the suburban areas of Kabul under Taliban control was a transgender government contractor for the U.S. State Department and former U.S. Air Force Sergeant. She was later safely evacuated.

#1: Amid coup chaos, Trump quietly erases LGBTQ protections in adoption, health services

And our most popular story of 2021 was about the Trump administration nixing regulations barring federal grantees in the Department of Health & Human Services from discriminating against LGBTQ people, including in adoption services.

Continue Reading

homepage news

CDC still falling short on LGBTQ data collection for COVID patients: expert



COVID-19 vaccine, gay news, Washington Blade
The CDC is still not issuing guidance to states on LGBTQ data collection among COVID patients.

Despite requests since the start of the COVID pandemic for the U.S. government to enhance data collection for patients who are LGBTQ, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is still falling short on issuing nationwide guidance to states on the issue, a leading expert health on the issue told the Blade.

With a renewed focus on COVID infections reaching new heights just before the start of the holidays amid the emergence of Omicron, the absence of any LGBTQ data collection — now across both the Trump and Biden administrations — remains a sore point for health experts who say that information could be used for public outreach.

Sean Cahill, director of Health Policy Research at the Boston-based Fenway Institute, said Wednesday major federal entities and hospitals have been collecting data on whether patients identify as LGBTQ for years — such as the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey, which has been collecting sexual orientation data since the 1990s — but the CDC hasn’t duplicated that effort for COVID even though the pandemic has been underway for two years.

“It’s not like this is a new idea,” Cahill said. “But for some reason, the pandemic hit, and all of a sudden, we realize how little systematic data we were collecting in our health system. And it’s a real problem because we’re two years into the pandemic almost, and we still don’t know how it’s affecting this vulnerable population that experiences health disparities in other areas.”

The Blade was among the first outlets to report on the lack of efforts by the states to collect data on whether a COVID patient identifies as LGBTQ, reporting in April 2020 on the absence of data even in places with influential LGBTQ communities. The CDC hasn’t responded to the Blade’s requests for nearly two years on why it doesn’t instruct states to collect this data, nor did it respond this week to a request for comment on this article.

Cahill, who has published articles in the American Journal of Public Health on the importance of LGBTQ data collection and reporting in COVID-19 testing, care, and vaccination — said he’s been making the case to the CDC to issue guidance to states on whether COVID patients identify as LGBTQ since June 2020.

Among those efforts, he said, were to include two comments he delivered to the Biden COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force in spring 2021, a letter a coalition of groups sent to the Association of State & Territorial Health Officers asking for states to collect and report SOGI in COVID in December 2020 as well as letters to HHS leadership and congressional leadership in spring and summer 2020 asking for them to take steps to encourage or require SOGI data collection in COVID.

Asked what CDC officials had to say in response when he brought this issue to their attention, Cahill said, “They listen, but they don’t really tell me anything.”

“We’ve been making that case, and to date, as of December 22, 2021, they have not issued guidance, they have not changed the case report form. I hope that they’re in the process of doing that, and maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised in January, and they’ll come up with something…I really hope that’s true, but right now they’re not doing anything to promote SOGI data collection and reporting in surveillance data.”

Cahill, in an email to the Blade after the initial publication of this article, clarified CDC has indicated guidance on LGBTQ data collection for COVID patients may come in the near future.

“HHS leaders told us this fall that CDC is working on an initiative to expand SOGI data collection,” Cahill said. “We are hopeful that we will see guidance early in 2022. Key people at CDC, including Director Walensky, understand the importance of SOGI data collection given their long history of working on HIV prevention.”

In other issues related to LGBTQ data collection, there has been a history of states resisting federal mandates. The Trump administration, for example, rescinded guidance calling on states to collect information on whether foster youth identified as LGBTQ after complaints from states on the Obama-era process, much to the consternation of LGBTQ advocates who said the data was helpful.

The White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force has at least recognized the potential for enhancing LGBTQ data collection efforts. Last month, it published an implementation plan, calling for “an equity-centered approach to data collection, including sufficient funding to collect data for groups that are often left out of data collection (e.g….LGBTQIA+ people).”

The plan also calls for “fund[ing] activities to improve data collection…including tracking COVID-19 related outcomes for people of color and other underserved populations,” and specifically calls for the collection of LGBTQ data.

The importance of collecting LGBTQ data, Cahill said, is based on its potential use in public outreach, including efforts to recognize disparities in health population and to create messaging for outreach, including for populations that may be reluctant to take the vaccine.

“If we see a disparity, we can say: Why is that?” Cahill said. “We could do focus groups of the population — try to understand and then what kind of messages would reassure you and make you feel comfortable getting a vaccine, and we could push those messages out through public education campaigns led by state local health departments led by the federal government.”

The LGBTQ data, Cahill said, could be broken down further to determine if racial and ethnic disparities exist within the LGBTQ population, or whether LGBTQ people are likely to suffer from the disease in certain regions, such as the South.

“We have data showing that lesbian or bisexual women, and transgender people are less likely to be in preventive regular routine care for their health,” Cahill said. “And so if that’s true, there’s a good chance that they’re less likely to know where to get a vaccine, to have a medical professional they trust to talk to about it today.”

Among the leaders who are supportive, Cahill said, is Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health and the first openly transgender person confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a presidential appointment. Cahill said he raised the issue with her along with other officials at the Department of Health & Human Services three times in the last year.

In her previous role as Pennsylvania secretary of health, Levine led the way and made her state the first in the nation to set up an LGBTQ data collection system for COVID patients.

“So she definitely gets it, and I know she’s supportive of it, but we really need the CDC to act,” Cahill said.

Although the federal government has remained intransigent in taking action, Cahill said the situation has improved among states and counted five states — California, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Nevada and Oregon — in addition to D.C. as among those that have elected to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity of COVID patients.

However, Cahill said even those data collection efforts are falling short because those jurisdictions have merely been public about collecting the data, but haven’t reported back anything yet.

“Only California has reported data publicly, and the data that they’re reporting is really just the completeness of the data,” Cahill said. “They’re not reporting the data itself…And they’re also just asking people who tests positive. So, if somebody says positive COVID in California, a contact tracer follows up with that individual and asks them a battery of questions, and among the questions that are asked are SOGI questions.”

As a result of these efforts, Cahill said, California has data on the LGBTQ status of COVID patients, but the data is overwhelmingly more complete for the gender identity of these patients rather than their sexual orientation. As of May 2021, California reported that they had sexual orientation data for 9.5 percent of individuals who had died from COVID and 16 percent of people who tested positive, but for gender identity, the data were 99.5 percent.

Continue Reading

homepage news

Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise



Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.

Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.

In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.

If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.

“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”

The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”

“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process.  We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.

“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”

A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.

Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”

Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.

The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.

“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”

Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.

For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.

Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”

“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”

But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.

No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.

“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”

Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.

Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.

Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.

To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.

A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.

“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”

But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Continue Reading

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts