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Capital Pride reiterates 2018 policy banning D.C. police from parade

Black Pride has no plans to ban officers



This scene from 2019 Capital Pride parade won’t be repeated as uniformed officers have been banned entirely from participating. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, says it adopted a policy in 2018 to ban uniformed D.C. police officers from marching in the Capital Pride Parade.

Some LGBTQ community members contacted by the Washington Blade, including D.C. Black Pride organizer Earl Fowlkes, have said they were unaware of the Capital Pride policy of not allowing police participation in the parade and other Capital Pride sponsored events.

Fowlkes, who serves as executive director of the D.C.-based Center for Black Equity, which supports Black Pride events throughout the country, said D.C. Black Pride has had police presence at some of its events over the past 30 years and has no plans to ban police from its activities.

Ryan Bos, the Capital Pride Alliance executive director, sent the Blade a statement he said Capital Pride posted on its website in June of 2020 formally announcing the police policy. The statement came five days after an earlier statement posted on the group’s website expressing strong solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“In 2018 the decision was made that MPD [D.C. Metropolitan Police Department] would not participate as a contingent in the Pride Parade, and has not since,” says the statement, which was posted on June 8, 2020. “Going forward, CPA will not permit any uniformed and armed police officers to march in the Pride Parade or participate in CPA-sanctioned events,” the statement continues.

“As required by the city government, MPD has jurisdiction to close and clear the streets,” the statement says. “The MPD will continue to manage street closures as outlined in permit requirements. When needed, CPA will hire private security as has been done previously.”

The statement concludes by saying Capital Pride Alliance was committed to having “further talks with its LGBTQ+ partners and other organizations and the city to address the on-going concerns that have been raised by the community.” It adds that Capital Pride Alliance “will take additional actions in the coming days and weeks.”

Although the statement did not say so directly, it was referring to the earlier statement discussing Capital Pride’s support for the nationwide protests in June 2020 over the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of a police officer who was later convicted of second-degree murder and manslaughter for Floyd’s death.

“Pride this year comes on the heels of a global pandemic and a nation confronting the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers,” the earlier statement posted on June 3, 2020, says.

“This horrific tragedy, and the murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Abrery by police and white vigilantes, have created a nationwide uprising crying out for racial justice and the protection of Black life,” the statement says.

“As members of the Black and Brown communities have stood with the LGBTQ+ community, the Capital Pride Alliance stands in complete solidarity to unite against those disparities that impact communities of color,” says the statement. “We pledge that we will work together to find solutions and make the positive changes that are so desperately needed to end inequity, injustice, and violence against people of color.”

In prior years, uniformed members of the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit have marched as a contingent in the Capital Pride Parade. During some prior years going back to the 1990s, D.C. police chiefs have joined the parade in police vehicles or watched the parade while standing along the parade route.

D.C. police spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck did not respond to a request by the Blade for comment on the Capital Pride policy of banning uniformed police participation in Pride events.

Gay retired D.C. Police Lt. Brett Parson, who served as director of the department’s Special Liaison Branch, which oversees the LGBT Liaison Unit, declined to comment on the Capital Pride ban on D.C. police participation.

Some LGBTQ activists have expressed the view that D.C. police participation in Pride events, especially participation by high-level police officials, was a sign of the D.C. police department’s strong support for the LGBTQ community.

But other activists, including members of the local transgender community, have said police crackdowns on sex workers, including transgender female sex workers of color, have involved what they believe to be a misplacement of police priorities. The local transgender and sex worker advocacy group No Justice No Pride has long called on Capital Pride to ban police from participation in all Pride-related events.

In the years since Capital Pride adopted its police policy, other cities, including Seattle, Denver, and just last week New York City’s Pride organization adopted policies banning police participation in their Pride parades and other Pride events.

Bos of Capital Pride said that similar to last year, due to COVID restrictions in place earlier this year, the traditional D.C. Pride Parade and festival will not be held in June this year. Although D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier this month removed all restrictions on large outdoor events beginning June 11, Bos said Capital Pride did not have time to organize a parade and festival for June. He said a Capital Pride Parade and festival are under consideration for October of this year.

The Capital Pride website includes information about a number of smaller Pride events for June, both in-person and virtual events. Among them will be a caravan of cars and vehicles decorated with Pride displays scheduled to travel across the city on June 12 to view houses and businesses that will display Pride decorations on their buildings or in their front yards.

Fowlkes said D.C. Black Pride organizers also fully support the Black Lives Matter movement and have condemned the incidents of police abuse, including the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis. But he said Black Pride organizers see no reason for banning police participation, especially the LGBT police officers who regularly attend Black Pride events.

“We’ve never had a problem,” he said. “Our members have never voiced a problem in dealing with the police,” according to Fowlkes.

“We know a lot of queer police officers and I welcome their presence,” Fowlkes said. “As long as they behave, I welcome everyone’s presence. It’s open to everybody. I can’t see eliminating the police any more than if people come in an Army uniform.”

David Johns, executive director of the D.C.-based LGBTQ group National Black Justice Coalition, has taken a different position than that of Black Pride.

“The D.C. Capital Pride Alliance was right to ban uniformed police from participating in the Pride Parade when it made its decision back in 2018,” Johns told the Blade in a statement. “For too many members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially Black LGBTQ+ and same-gender loving people, the presences of armed, uniform police make us feel less safe,” he said.

“It is important that the D.C. Capital Pride Alliance recognized that the struggle for civil rights for all must uplift all parts of us all of the time – including Black LGBTQ+ people who have too often been sidelined or excluded from the important discussions facing our community,” Johns said.

In yet another indication that the LGBTQ community is divided on the police issue, Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, who’s gay and African American, wrote a column published in the Post on Monday expressing strong disagreement with the New York City Pride organization’s decision last week to ban LGBTQ police officers from marching in the New York Pride parade next month.

Capehart wrote that he fully understands the concerns over police abuse in New York and other cities in the past and in recent times. But he said he believes the New York Pride organizers made a “really bad call” in banning the NYPD Gay Officers Action League or GOAL from marching in this year’s parade.

“If you’ve been to a pride parade, you know it’s a celebration of acceptance and inclusion,” said Capehart in his column. “That’s why it’s beyond troubling that a community made up of so many who’ve been rejected by their families because of who they are is now turning on its own members because of what they do for a living,” he states. “This is wrong. This is shortsighted. This is a mistake.”



Lawsuit seeks to force Virginia Beach schools to implement state guidelines for trans, nonbinary students

Va. Department of Education released new regulations in July



(Bigstock photo)

Two parents in Virginia Beach have filed a lawsuit that seeks to force the city’s school district to implement the state’s new guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

NBC Washington on Friday reported Cooper and Kirk, a D.C.-based law firm, filed the lawsuit in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

The Virginia Department of Education in July announced the new guidelines for which Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked. Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools are among the school districts that have refused to implement them. 

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HME Consulting and Advocacy stands on frontline of LGBTQ policy

Heidi Ellis is a consultant who doesn’t take clients ‘not aligned with my mission’



‘Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,’ says Heidi Ellis. (Photo courtesy of Ellis)

September is here, which means Congress and the D.C. Council return from their August recess and life for consultant Heidi Ellis quickly gets busy. 

Her days are filled with negotiating with Council members, phone calls with clients, and policy planning for advocacy groups. The organizations she represents are looking to her to help them push policy and she hopes to guide them to victory. 

Ellis’s company, HME Consulting and Advocacy, came after years of working in the public and private sectors as a consultant. In 2019, Ellis decided to shift her focus to work that stood at the center of the intersections in which she lives. She sought to figure out how she could better serve her community as a Black queer Latino woman. Ellis recognized that there was a niche for mission-driven consulting in the District. 

“I was sought out and recruited by a lot of organizations that wanted me and I took a beat, because I was like ‘Do I want to go back into a machine where even if I do effect change, I have to answer to someone?’”she said, in reference to consulting agencies that were in pursuit of her talent. Ultimately, she decided against continuing her work under another company. “By doing what I do, I have much more flexibility for one to say ‘Yes’ but also to say ‘No’.”

Although Ellis has considered going back to working in the corporate space, she still loves the flexibility of being able to be nimble as a private consultant. 

Although Ellis doesn’t work entirely in the advocacy space, her consulting clients still align with her personal values. She joked that she differs strongly from the stereotypical money-driven D.C. consultant who sports Brooks Brothers suits on K Street. 

“Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,” she said. “I don’t take any clients that are not aligned with my mission.”

Her mission is simple, Ellis is “committed to elevating issues that sit at the nexus of education, mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color.”

“The more marginalized you are, the more you suffer from the failures of policy and the gaps of service,” she said. 

As a consultant in the advocacy space, Ellis does the behind-the-scenes work for organizations to help correct these policy failures and close the gaps. Whether she is facilitating training for companies to better understand how to serve their LGBTQ communities, or she is on the frontline of education policy changes –– Ellis aims to only do work that she is passionate about.

She said that the balance of her combined passion and level-headedness help her to build trusting relationships with her clients and in the end, “Get stuff  done.”

Since starting her organization, some of her proudest work has been done with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition. The coalition is made up of more than 30 organizations that aim to advocate for investments and policy changes that affect LGBTQ lives. As a leader of this coalition, her services include policy support, facilitation, training, initiative development and organizational redesign. Since she began leading the coalition, they have raised more than $5 million of investments in LGBTQ programs.

Later this fall, she will work with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition along with the ANC Rainbow Caucus to convene the first LGBTQ+ Housing Summit from Nov. 29-30.

“The one thing we all recognize is that housing is the common denominator of every other social affliction facing LGBTQ communities,” she said.  

At the summit they will focus on the barriers within the current housing system and explore revitalized approaches to dealing with the current housing market. To pre-register for the event, visit the LGBTQ+ Housing Summit website.

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Comings & Goings

Former D.C. resident opens art gallery in San Francisco



Jonathan Carver Moore

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success.

Congratulations to Jonathan Carver Moore on opening his contemporary art gallery in San Francisco. The gallery specializes in working with emerging and established artists who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women. As the only openly gay Black male-owned gallery in San Francisco, Moore is committed to amplifying the voices of the often-underrepresented artists through a Black queer lens. He said, “I want the gallery to be a place where the LGBTQ+ community and people of color walk inside and see themselves knowing that they belong. I want us to be able to collect work from and support underrepresented artists who are often overlooked, but add some much value to our culture.”

Moore is also the founder of ARTUCATED, a digital journal that helps share, spotlight, and educate people about marginalized artists. Previously he was director of Donor Relations, Partnerships & Programming Director with the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco. He was Communications Manager, Rosenberg Foundation; and Associate Director of Public Relations, Out & Equal, San Francisco Bay Area. 

Moore earned his bachelor’s in Sociology, Women’s Studies, from George Washington University in D.C.; and his master’s in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications, also from George Washington University.

Congratulations also to Jim Bobick on having his paintings included in a permanent collection by Saks Fifth Avenue. He said, “I am thrilled Saks Fifth Avenue chose my art for its permanent collection. I have long been a customer of the store and an admirer of the fashion designers represented there. I am especially pleased to know my work is on public view in the Chevy Chase, Maryland store. Not only did I grow up in the area, for part of my education I attended art school nearby, where I had the good fortune of studying under the notable painter Allen Dester Carter of Washington, D.C., whose work is in the Smithsonian collection. My ties to the Washington area art scene and my love of Saks makes this professional moment especially important to me. I am grateful and honored the store chose my paintings for their collection.” 

He has had numerous exhibitions of his work, including: Gallery 101 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (solo); Coral Springs Museum of Art, Coral Springs, Fla. (group); Studio B “Delicacies” Washington, D.C. (group); Columbia Art Center “Abstract Paintings” (solo); and Gallery 50 “Freestyle” (solo) Rehoboth Beach, Del. He has been written about in several publications including Michael Mills, Jim Bobick Creates Landscapes of the Mind at Gallery 101, New Times; Arterpillar South Florida Arts Blog; Stefan Braham, Eclectic Expressions, Coastal Style Magazine; Artist Looks Beyond the Temporal Beauty, Coast Press.

He earned his bachelor’s in Visual Arts, University of Maryland, College Park, Fine Art; and attended the Maryland College of Art and Design. 

Jim Bobick
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