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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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Delaware

Milton Pride kicks off Mardi Gras style June 8

Delaware town celebrating ‘Unity in Diversity’

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Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)! 

The town of Milton, Del., will host its 2024 Pride festival with a Mardi Gras theme on Saturday, June 8. The Pride celebration is set to take place in the Milton Theatre’s Quayside festival grounds, at 110 Union St. in downtown Milton, from 4-8 p.m. The event is set to have food trucks, live music, and community vendors all celebrating the queer community.

The town of Milton, located 15 miles northwest of Rehoboth Beach, has partnered with Sussex Pride to put on the Pride Fest and is looking to celebrate the “Unity in Diversity” in Milton. The event also marks the 10th anniversary of the Milton Theatre and will celebrate a decade of performing arts in Milton. Expect sparkling beads, opulent masks, and musical performers that will “transport you to a world of joy!”

The americana duo Mama’s Black Sheep, Delaware’s Rainbow Chorale, and the self-described “bluesy rocker” Christine Havrilla are all slated to perform on the open-air Quayside stage. The shows will happen rain or shine. 

Local food trucks Belly Up and Hot Dogs At The Beach will serve bites at the festival grounds. Additionally, local vendors will sell rainbow-themed accessories on-site, provide resources, and more at the event. 

For more information on Milton Pride, visit the website at miltontheatre.com/pride.

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District of Columbia

60,000 expected for annual D.C. Black Pride this weekend

Celebration includes educational workshops, social events, more

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A scene from last year’s Black Pride celebration. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The 33rd annual D.C. Black Pride festival and celebration is scheduled to take place May 23-27 during Memorial Day weekend with at least 60,000 people from the D.C. metro area and across the country and some from abroad expected to attend.

Like in recent years, most of the events are scheduled to take place at the Westin Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel at 999 9th St., N.W.

Although the official DC Black Pride Opening Reception is scheduled to take place Friday, May 24, at the Westin Hotel with live entertainment, an online schedule of events shows that earlier events, including a Mr. & Miss DC Black Pride Pageant and the 8th annual DC Black Pride Unity Ball, were scheduled to take place Thursday, May 23 at the Westin.

Also similar to recent past years, a Rainbow Row: Organization & Vendor Expo will open at the hotel at 5 p.m. on May 25 and remain open most of the time throughout the weekend events. The Rainbow Row includes booths and tables set up by local and national LGBTQ organizations and LGBTQ-supportive allied organizations and businesses.

According to the official schedule, the Opening Reception will include performances by Paris Sashay, Keith Angels, Bang Garcon, Black Assets, Marcy Smiles, and Sherri Amoure and will be hosted by the “DMV’s own Anthony Oake” and the “legendary DJ Sedrick will be spinning all night.”

The schedule shows that 11 individual workshop sessions will take place at the hotel throughout the day on Saturday, May 25. Among the workshop titles are Drag Chronicles: From Artform to Activism; Self-Care and Self-Compassion; Sexpectations: Navigating Sexual & Romantic Compatibility While Dating; Advocating for Black LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care; Queering Theology: Black Pride in the Pews; What is the L?! All Things Lesbian; and Primary Sources: Elders Sharing Our Histories.

Two official outdoor events include Pride by the River Super Sunday scheduled for Sunday, May 26, from 12-8 p.m. at D.C.’s Anacostia Park at 1500 Anacostia Dr., S.E. presented by the local group Project Brings; and the annual Pride In The Park set for Monday, May 27, at D.C.’s Fort Dupont Park, 1500 Anacostia Dr., S.E., presented by the local community services group Us Helping Us.

Some of the other numerous events, aside from several evening parties at popular D.C. nightclubs, include a Wellness Pavilion, a Poetry Slam, a Writer’s Forum, and a Faith Service.

A statement released by the D.C.-based Center for Black Equity, which organizes the D.C. Black Pride events, notes that the first D.C. Black Pride was held May 25, 1991, and organized by local Black gay activists Welmore Cook, Theodore Kirkland and Ernest Hopkins, became the “catalyst for what is now regarded as the Black Pride Movement.”

It notes that, among other things, the first D.C. Black Pride event and Black Pride events in subsequent years raised funds for HIV/AIDS organizations that provided services to the African-American community in D.C. and the surrounding area.

The statement adds, “Since its birth, more than 50 other Black Pride celebrations now take place throughout the world, many using DC Black Pride as its model.”

And like in past years, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has issued an official mayoral proclamation declaring May 20-27, 2024, DC Black Pride Week.

The full schedule for DC Black Pride 2024 events can be accessed at dcblackpride.org/schedule.htm.

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District of Columbia

Capital Stonewall Dems endorse Biden, 2 incumbent Council members

LGBTQ political group doesn’t back Del. Norton or Brooke Pinto

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D.C. Council member Robert White speaks with a Capital Stonewall Democrats member at a post endorsement party. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro Jr.)

The Capital Stonewall Democrats, D.C.’s largest local LGBTQ political organization, announced on May 21 that it has endorsed President Joe Biden, incumbent D.C. Council members Robert White (D-At-Large) and Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4), and incumbent U.S. Shadow Rep. Oye Owolewa (D) in the city’s June 4 primary election.

But the LGBTQ Democratic group did not make endorsements in five other races to be decided in the primary, including the re-election bid of D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), a longtime LGBTQ rights supporter on Capitol Hill; and D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), an outspoken LGBTQ rights supporter who is running unopposed for re-election.

Capital Stonewall Democrats President Michael Haresign said the no endorsement decisions happened at least in part because of a longstanding requirement that candidates must receive at least a 60 percent threshold vote by the organization’s members to secure an endorsement. He said members also had the option of voting for “no endorsement” under the organization’s voting system.

“Very few candidates met the 60 percent threshold,” he told the Washington Blade. Haresign said the organization would soon release the numerical vote count and percentage of the vote each candidate received from Capital Stonewall members through an online ranked choice voting process.

In a press release issued on May 21, Capital Stonewall Democrats announced the percentage of the vote the four endorsed candidates received from its members who voted: Biden, 82.2%, Lewis George, 79.07%, Robert White, 78.6%, and Owolewa, 67.5%. Haresign said the organization was not ready to release the vote percentage for the candidates that were not endorsed, but he said those figures would be released soon.

He told the Blade that Capital Stonewall Democrats currently has 91 members who are eligible to vote for endorsements and that 47 of those members participated in the voting.

 “I’m honored by this endorsement,” Robert White told the Blade at a party for its endorsed candidates that Capital Stonewall Democrats held beginning at 7 p.m. on May 21 at The Brig restaurant and bar in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill.

“The Stonewall Democrats have stood with me in every election, and it’s meant a lot to me,” White said. Most LGBTQ activists have said White is among the Council’s strongest LGBTQ supporters.

The other endorsed Council candidate, Lewis George, and Shadow D.C. Representative Owolewa were invited to the party but had other conflicting events to attend, according to Haresign, who said Owolewa texted him to say he might show up shortly before the event was to end at 9 p.m.

The races in which no endorsement was made include the Ward 7 D.C. Council race in which 10 Democratic candidates are competing for the Council seat held by incumbent Council member and former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D), who is not running for re-election. With 10 candidates running, the fact that none received a 60 percent vote threshold did not come as a surprise.

Haresign said Ward 7 candidate Eboni-Rose Thompson made a strong showing by capturing 51 percent of the vote. Thompson attended the endorsement party as a “runner up,” one of her supporters said.

A no endorsement decision  by the group was also made in the Ward 8 D.C. Council race in which incumbent Council member Trayon White (D) is being challenged by Democrats Rahman Branch and Salim Adofo. Trayon White has been an LGBTQ rights supporter during his tenure as a Council member. Adolfo expressed support for LGBTQ rights during his appearance at a virtual candidates forum held by Capital Stonewall Democrats earlier this month. Trayon White and Branch did not appear at the forum.

Capital Stonewall’s decision not to endorse Pinto came as a surprise to some local LGBTQ activists. Pinto has been an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights. She is running unopposed in the Democratic primary on June 4, and no one is running for the Ward 2 Council seat in the primary for D.C.’s two other registered political parties – the Republican and Statehood Green parties. That means Pinto will also run unopposed in the November general election, although a write-in candidate could emerge.

Also coming as a surprise was the group’s decision not to endorse Eleanor Holmes Norton in her re-election bid as D.C.’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Norton has been an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights and a vocal opponent of anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced in the House by anti-LGBTQ Republicans in her 34 years in office.

Haresign said neither Norton nor Pinto attended the group’s candidate forum and the two also did not submit a statement or video as did other candidates who were unable to attend the forums. That could have played a role in the members’ decision not to endorse them, according to Haresign.

However, Haresign said it is possible that due to a glitch in the group’s online invitation process that Pinto may not have received the invitation for the candidate forum. The Blade has contacted Pinto’s office to confirm whether the invite was received, but the office did not immediately respond.

 The other race in which Capital Stonewall Democrats did not make an endorsement is the race for U.S. Shadow senator in which incumbent Michael D. Brown is not seeking re-election. Local political activists Eugene Kinlow and Ankit Jain, both Democrats, are competing for the seat. Kinlow and Jain attended one of the two virtual candidate forums held by Capital Stonewall Democrats and each expressed support for LGBTQ rights.

The second of the two Shadow D.C. U.S. Senate seats is held by incumbent Democrat Paul Straus who’s not up for re-election this year. Like the D.C. Shadow U.S. Representative seat, the Shadow Senate positions have no voting rights or authority in Congress and are unpaid positions created to advocate for D.C. statehood and support for D.C. in Congress.

As has been the case in D.C. elections for many years, the lesser-known candidates running against Robert White, Lewis George, and Owolewa have also expressed support for LGBTQ rights. Robert White’s sole Democratic opponent, Rodney Red Grant, expressed strong support for LGBTQ equality at one of  the virtual candidate forums held by Capital Stonewall Democrats. White, who also attended the forum, reiterated his longstanding, strong support for LGBTQ issues. 

One of Lewis George’s two opponents in the Ward 4 Democratic primary, Paul Johnson, expressed support for LGBTQ rights during one of the two forums. The second opponent, Lisa Gore, did not show up for the forum and her position on LGBTQ issues could not immediately be determined.

Linda L. Gray, Owolewa’s sole opponent in the Democratic primary for the Shadow Representative seat, also expressed strong support for LGBTQ issues at one of the two Capital Stonewall candidate forums.

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