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How D.C. is celebrating Pride this month

Mix of in-person and virtual events to replace traditional parade and festival

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Activists listen to Carol Lee at a rally in front of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Oct. 10, 1988. The photo is part of a drag exhibition at Dupont Underground organized by the Blade. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

One of the main events set for D.C.’s 2021 LGBTQ Pride month will be a caravan of cars decorated with colorful Pride signs and displays to be led by an official Pridemobile trolley that will travel throughout the city on June 12, according to D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance.

In a statement on its website, Capital Pride Alliance says the parade of vehicles, called the Colorful Pridemobile Parade, will drive past houses and businesses in different parts of the city that will also be decorated with Pride-themed displays as part of the group’s month-long Paint the Town Colorful With Pride project.

The parade and the decorated buildings, the locations of which are displayed on a map on the Capital Pride website, are among at least 14 or more Pride events scheduled for June in D.C., some of which are in-person while others are virtual. Six of the events, including the parade and Paint the Town Colorful With Pride, are official Capital Pride Alliance events.

The Washington Blade, which, in partnership with Dupont Underground, is hosting an exhibition celebrating the tradition of drag performances in D.C. and other places highlighting the history and influence of drag. The exhibition, which includes photos and video footage and a drag brunch as well as drag performances, will take place June 4 through June 27 each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The official opening of the drag exhibition will take place Friday, June 4 at 4 p.m.
Capital Price Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s May 10 announcement that the city will be lifting all restrictions on large events such as parades and street festivals came too late for Capital Pride to put together a large Pride parade and street festival for June. He said Capital Pride is considering whether a parade and festival could be held in October.

This year marks the second year in a row in which the D.C. Pride Parade and festival had to be cancelled due to the COVID epidemic. The two events in past years have attracted more than 250,000 participants.

Bos and other Pride organizers say they were hopeful that the spirit and enthusiasm of Pride will be captured and carried out through this month’s events, especially the Pridemobile Parade and Paint the Town Colorful building displays.

“This unique mobile parade will feature the official Pridemobile trolly, followed by a colorful array of automobiles decorated by registered organizations and businesses, all on display for enthusiastic onlookers to enjoy,” a statement on the Capital Pride website says.

“The Pridemobile Parade route will be shared with the general public prior to the event and will pass through some of the city’s most lively areas for optimum visibility, including Dupont and Logan Circles, and iconic landmarks such as the Capitol Building,” the statement says.

The statement adds that Capital Pride Alliance has been urging members of the local LGBTQ community and its allies to be creative in displaying Pride decorations on their homes and businesses.

“Whether you’re a resident, business, or organization, we invite you to decorate your most public-facing spaces, such as building fronts, patios, balconies, and yards, to show your Pride!” the statement says. “Make it as colorful as you can!”

Capital Pride has called on community members and businesses to try to have their homes or other buildings decorated by June 1, but the decorations need to be completed by June 12, the day of the Pridemobile Parade, the Capital Pride website says. Capital Pride is inviting the public to visit the decorated homes and businesses any time during the month of June.

Capital Pride is charging a fee of $100 to enter a vehicle in the parade. The group says the proceeds from the fee will be used to support local LGBTQ organizations.

Bos said D.C. police will not be escorting the parade and organizers expect it will end up becoming “several mini caravans” when participating vehicles have to stop at traffic lights and become separated from the participating vehicles ahead of them.

Following is a list of the June Pride events announced by the Capital Pride Alliance and other organizations. Further details of official Capital Pride events can be found at capitalpride.org/celebration.
 
June 1

Paint the Town Colorful. The official start of the month-long display of Pride themed decorations on houses, yards, and businesses throughout the city. The location of the displays submitted to Capital Pride so far is on the Capital Pride website.
 
Pride Talks: We are Colorful. A YouTube live discussion among LGBTQ leaders reflecting their “personal LGBTQ+ journey of Pride” and what makes the LGBTQ community colorful. Speakers will include Alexis Blackmon, director of public affairs for Casa Ruby; Reggie Greer, White House senior adviser on LGBTQ+ Affairs; Tiffany Royster, Capital Pride Alliance Parade chair and performing artist; and Mary Paradise, past board member of Capital Pride Alliance.
 
June 4 – June 27

Washington Blade Pride Month Celebration of Drag. A month-long exhibition at the Dupont Underground, the former trolley car station located under Dupont Circle, that showcases a mix of photographs and video footage honoring the roots of drag in America and D.C.’s drag scene. The exhibition as well as drag performances  and a Sunday brunch will take place each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the month of June. Details available at washingtonblade.com/royals.

June 6

Queen City Kings Drag presents Flame: Rising from the Ashes of COVID

A virtual event featuring 16 drag performers, including drag kings, scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. It’s organized by Queen City Kings Drag, an LGBTQ drag performance group and can be accessed via the group’s website.
 
June 11

The Capital Pride Honors. An in-person event to be held at the Compass Coffee Factory in D.C.’s Ivy City neighborhood at 1401 Okie St., N.E., in which the Capital Pride Alliance will present its annual honors recognizing “outstanding individuals, leaders, and activists” in the D.C. area who have furthered the causes of the LGBTQ+ community.
 
June 12

Drag Family Story Time. A virtual Pride event organized by the D.C. Public Library featuring local drag performers Domingo, Arma Dura, and Katie Magician who will read children’s stories to “celebrate Pride as a family,” a statement on the library’s website says. It is scheduled to be broadcast on the public library system’s YouTube channel at 11 a.m.
 
Washington Blade Describe-a-thon. A virtual D.C. Public Library Pride event from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. to discuss the library’s ongoing project of digitizing all past issues of the Washington Blade to its digital collections.
 
Colorful Pridemobile Parade. The Capital Pride Alliance’s caravan of Pride decorated cars led by its Pridemobile trolley will travel across D.C. to pass by homes and businesses also decorated with Pride displays. The starting time and route of the parade were to be posted the week of June 6 on the Capital Pride website.
 
June 13

Taste of Pride Brunch. Capital Pride Alliance has organized “an exclusive group of beloved local restaurants that have made a commitment to support Pride and local LGBTQ+ charities” to host special Pride month brunches. Special food items, Pride drink specials, and entertainment will be offered at some of the venues, the locations and names of which Capital Pride will publish on its website.
 
June 14

Rainbow Warriors: A Century of LGBTQ+ Womxn Activists. A virtual event the details of which were expected to be posted on the Capital Pride website.

June 15

Still We Gather! Center Faith embraces this year’s Capital Pride Theme, “Still We!” A Zoom interfaith service set to begin at 7 p.m. organized by local LGBTQ and LGBTQ supportive faith groups, including Metropolitan Community Church of D.C., Faith Temple, Bet Mishpachah, Unity Fellowship D.C., Westminster Presbyterian Church, and All Souls Unitarian Church.

June 17

Chamber Connect – MOXY DC-Play on Pride. A professional networking meeting with a focus on LGBTQ Pride themes to be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Moxy Washington, D.C. Hotel at 1011 K St., N.W.
 
June 24

Teen Pride Lounge. A virtual gathering of LGBTQ teens, including some from Prince George’s County, Md., on YouTube and Discord will feature a discussion with LGBTQ+ authors Leah Johnson and Tom Ryan as well as special community guests. Johnson and Ryan have published works of interest to young people.
 
June 30

Still We Lead – A Community and Professional Development Experience. A virtual seminar organized by Capital Pride Alliance on the topic, “A Forgotten Generation.” The session will discuss ways in which LGBTQ people and their allies can “support and foster an intersectional and social justice movement.”

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District of Columbia

Man charged with assaulting lesbian activist pleads guilty, gets 14 months in jail

Aiyi’nah Ford hit in head with barstool at Congress Heights restaurant in August

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Lesbian activist Aiyi’nah Ford was attacked in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Nov. 17 sentenced a 46-year-old D.C. man to 14 months in jail after he pleaded guilty in September to an assault charge for an incident in which he attacked lesbian activist Aiyi’nah Ford at a restaurant on Aug. 3

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police on Aug. 12 states that Donnell Anthony Peterson allegedly knocked Ford to the floor at the Player’s Lounge restaurant and bar in the city’s Congress Heights neighborhood before hitting her in the head twice with the metal legs of a barstool.

Ford told the Washington Blade that Peterson, who was a regular customer at Player’s Lounge as was she, assaulted her while repeatedly calling her a “dyke bitch” after the two got into a verbal argument over, among other things, the city’s violence interruption program. Ford said she told Peterson and others who were having a discussion that she considers the program to be ineffective and a “joke.”

According to court records, witnesses reported seeing Ford bleeding profusely from the head before an ambulance took her to George Washington University Hospital, where she received multiple stitches to treat a serious head wound.

Court records show that D.C. police, who were called to the scene at the time of the assault, initially charged Peterson with Assault With a Dangerous Weapon. The records show that Peterson through his attorney agreed in September to accept a plea bargain offer by prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C.

The offer called for lowering the charge to Assault With Significant Bodily Injury in exchange for pleading guilty with a promise by prosecutors to seek a sentence of no more than 14 month in jail.

The court records show that Superior Court Judge James A. Cromwell sentenced Peterson to 32 months of incarceration but suspended 18 months, requiring that he serve 14 months after which he would be released on probation. Court records show the probation was to last 18 months. Under court rules, if someone violates the terms of their probation, which almost always prohibits them from breaking the law or threatening a person they were charged with assaulting, the released person is ordered back to jail to serve the remaining time that had been suspended.

At the time Peterson was arrested in August a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, in response to a question from the Blade, declined to disclose why prosecutors chose not to classify Peterson’s assault against Ford as a hate crime based on her sexual orientation.

Ford told the Blade this week that the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alec Levi, was supportive of her throughout the case and told her a hate crime designation sometimes makes it more difficult to obtain a conviction if a case goes to trial. Ford said Levi told her prosecutors wanted to do all they could to bring Peterson to justice for his attack against her.

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District of Columbia

Longtime activist Lane Hudson arrested on drug charges

Homeland Security launched probe leading to August 2021 raid

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Lane Hudson was arrested last year on drug charges. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia show that law enforcement officers with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations division and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department arrested D.C. gay activist Thomas Lane Hudson on Aug. 11, 2021, on charges of possession with the intent to distribute illegal drugs.

An affidavit filed in court says the arrest took place at Hudson’s Logan Circle area apartment after officers forcibly entered the apartment when Hudson did not respond to their knocking on the door announcing their presence with a search warrant.

The affidavit says the officers discovered and seized illegal narcotics that were field tested and weighed and which included “1,096.4 grams of a mixture and substance containing Methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance; 29.5 grams of a mixture and substance containing Heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance; and 322.974 fluid ounces of a mixture and substance containing Gamma Butyrolactone (‘GBL’), a Schedule I controlled substance.”

Court records show that Hudson was held without bond until at least Aug. 25, 2021, when U.S. District Court Judge Robin M. Meriweather approved a motion filed by prosecutors to seal the case from the public record on grounds that it “contains sensitive information regarding the underlying ongoing criminal investigation.”

The Aug. 25 entry that up until then was part of the public court record announcing the decision to seal the case did not disclose any information about an underlying or ongoing investigation. It also did not disclose why federal Homeland Security investigators became involved in a drug case ordinarily handled by D.C. police.

Hudson and his attorney, who is identified in the court records as Brian Keith McDaniel, did not respond to repeated requests by the Washington Blade for comment on the case and to disclose whether they dispute the accuracy of the charges filed against Hudson.

The arrest affidavit, which was filed before the case was sealed, remains a part of the public record. It says that in addition to the allegation that illegal drugs were seized from Hudson’s apartment, the officers conducting the search found “assorted items related to distribution of controlled substances.”

Among the items found, it says, were digital scales, plastic zip bags, vacuum sealer and vacuum sealer bags, a currency counting machine, and “approximately $48,000 in United States currency.” 

Although the public court records do not show whether Hudson was released while awaiting trial or was still being held, sources who know Hudson pointed out that he resumed posting messages on social media in December of 2021 after a period when no postings from him could be found. This suggests he has been released while the case remains pending.

Hudson’s arrest came less than a year before the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance released its 2022 D.C. LGBTQ Election Guide called Leave No One Behind, which calls for the decriminalization of possession of currently illegal drugs for personal use.

Although the GLAA document doesn’t call for decriminalizing the selling of illegal drugs, it says “evidence demonstrates criminalization has done little to curb the prevalence of drugs in our communities and is not an effective way of getting people into treatment because it stigmatizes drug users.”

Hudson is well known in the D.C. area and among LGBTQ advocates locally and nationally. He was twice elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention; served on Hillary Clinton’s national finance committee; and once worked for the Human Rights Campaign. 

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District of Columbia

Hundreds attend Dupont Circle vigil for Colorado shooting victims

Clergy members join activists in denouncing ant-LGBTQ violence

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Hundreds showed up Monday night to remember Club Q victims. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Several hundred people turned out for a candlelight vigil in Dupont Circle Monday night to honor the five who died and at least 25 wounded in the mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., this past Saturday night.

Among those who participated in the vigil were eight ministers and two elders from local LGBTQ supportive churches.

The event took place shortly after Colorado authorities released the names of the five patrons of the Club Q nightclub who police said were shot to death by lone gunman suspect Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who was subdued by other patrons before police arrived on the scene and placed him under arrest.

“We’re going to take the time to heal, to process, to honor those victims, members of our own community,” said Larry Miller, news anchor for D.C.’s WUSA 9 TV, who served as moderator at the vigil.

“It will be tough,” Miller said in opening the event. “But we’ll do it together. If you need to cry this is an opportunity to do that,” he said. “If you need to pray, you’ll have that opportunity as well.”  

The vigil was organized jointly by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs; Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s LGBTQ Pride events; the Center for Black Equity, which organizes D.C.’s Black Pride events; the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community; and the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence.

“Today we are standing in solidarity with our queer family in Colorado Springs in the aftermath of a tragic and deadly shooting at Club Q,” Japer Bowles, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, told the gathering.

“However, gun violence and anti-LGBTQ hate will not stomp out our life,” Bowles said. “And even though we are mourning today and tomorrow and through the holidays where seats around the dinner table will be empty due to gun violence and anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, our love and our strength as a community will prevail.”

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Kenya Hutton, deputy director of the Center for Black Equity, which organizes D.C.’s Black Pride events, told those attending the Dupont Circle vigil he worries that a shooting incident like the one in Colorado Springs could happen anywhere, including in D.C.

“I’m tired of having to say the names of those we’ve lost for no reason,” he said. “We have legislators pushing all these anti-LGBTQ bills,” Hutton said. “We can’t sit by silently and let this continue.” 

Among the clergy members who spoke was Rev. Adalphie Johnson, Senior Pastor of the Community Church of Washington, D.C.

“I come here this evening with a heavy heart,” she said. “A heavy heart because we are still living in a world where folks need to understand what it means to love, what it means to allow people to be free, what it means to allow people to live their authentic self.”

Others who spoke included Mike Silverstein, a member of the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission; Ryan Bos, executive director of Capital Pride Alliance; Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance Board of Directors and a member of the Human Rights Campaign board; Alexis Elizabeth Rodriguez, director of D.C.’s Latinx Pride organization; and D.C. artist and poet Reggie Rich.

Other clergy members who participated in the vigil included Rev. Aaron Wade, founder and Pastor Emeritus of the Community Church of Washington, D.C.; Rev. Amanda Hendler-Voss, Senior Minister at First Congressional United church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Arthur Cribbs Jr., Senior Pastor of Little River United Church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Sidney Fowler of United Church of Christ; and Rev. Kenneth King, Pastor serving New Hope Baptist Church and Plymouth Congressional United Church of Christ.

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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