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District of Columbia

D.C.’s high school Pride Prom set for May 13

Seventh annual Montgomery County ‘MoCo Pride Prom’ scheduled for May 12



Whitman-Walker plays host to D.C.’s Pride Prom on May 13. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A unique D.C. Pride Prom open to LGBTQ students attending high schools throughout the city is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 13, at the Corner At Whitman-Walker, an event facility in Northwest Washington that the LGBTQ supportive Whitman-Walker Health is providing for the event free of charge.

“The goals of the event are to create a safe and joyous space for queer D.C. students, build relationships across schools, and thereby to support student mental health and activate broader community engagement,” according to a statement released by student and adult organizers of the event.

Additional information released by organizers says the event is free and is limited to students between the ages of 16 and 19.

“Due to space limitations, only 100 students will be able to attend,” a separate statement issued by organizers says. “Chaperones will be at Pride Prom to oversee the conduct and welfare of student participants,” it says.

Among the lead organizers of the D.C. Pride Prom are high school seniors Diya Bardwell and Liv Birnstad along with gay D.C. State Board of Education member Allister Chang.

At Chang’s initiative, the education board approved an official resolution endorsing the Pride Prom as an event “supporting LGBTQ+ youth by uplifting inclusive and welcoming spaces and promoting events” like the Pride Prom.

In a separate statement, the Montgomery County, Md., LGBTQ organization called the MoCo Pride Center says it is organizing a MoCo Pride Prom scheduled for Friday, May 12, at a location yet to be announced.

“Starting in 2016 with modest beginnings, the MoCo Pride Prom is now an event the local students look forward to each year,” the statement says. “The MoCo Pride Prom is open to high school-aged and community college students in the local area who want to proudly attend prom, dress however they are most comfortable, and dance – without fear – with whomever they choose,” the statement says. 

“The evening will consist of a live DJ spinning popular music, along with giveaways, a raffle and local catering – all at a nominal ticket price,” the statement continues. “The event is funded through efforts from direct donations, fundraising, and corporate sponsorships,” it says. 

A spokesperson for the MoCo Pride Center couldn’t immediately be reached to determine whether an age limit was set for attendees of the Pride Prom since community colleges usually accept students of all ages.

The D.C. Pride Prom lead student organizers Diya Bardwell, who lives in Ward 7, and Liv Birnstad, who lives in Ward 1, told the Washington Blade in a joint statement that similar to the Montgomery County event, the D.C. Pride Prom will include a DJ and dancing as well as a possible photo booth among other features depending on the available funds to cover the cost.

The two said organizers set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the Pride Prom and have asked potential supporters to also contact them directly by email to make arrangements for a donation.

“As a queer student, I have often felt like I do not have a community of other LGBTQ+ students or educators around me,” Bardwell said. “I hope that Pride Prom can be a safe space for all LGBTQ+ youth to experience not only a prom that celebrates who they are, but a community of people who celebrate all of the love and joy of being queer,” she said.

Birnstad said the D.C. Pride Prom is important to her because it will allow LGBTQ students to come together to have fun rather than just engage in advocacy related activities.

“A lot of the times when we come together it’s to talk about our struggles or to talk about ways we can combat homophobia, but this is a night where we get to just kind of relax and be normal teenagers, and I think that that is super, super special,” she told the Blade.


District of Columbia

Inaugural Uptown Pride to take place June 10

Festival to feature drag storytime, makers’ market, DJs



Logo created by Anthony Dihle (Courtesy of Justin Noble)

A new Pride festival is coming to D.C. 

The inaugural Uptown Pride will be hosted in Sixteenth Street Heights on June 10 with Pride celebrations for Washingtonians of all ages.

The festival, hosted at the intersection of 14th Street, Colorado Avenue and Kennedy Street, NW, will feature a drag storytime, a makers’ market, DJs and more. There will also be a raffle for various prizes, with all proceeds going to the Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention services for LGBTQ teens.

The festival will be from 2-7 p.m. and is partnering with local businesses like Moreland’s Tavern, Captain Cookie and Lighthouse Yoga Center for activities and refreshments.

Justin Noble, one of the organizers of the festival, said that the inspiration for the event came out of wanting a Pride experience tailored to the residents of the Sixteenth Street Heights, Petworth and Brightwood neighborhoods.

“It can be a hassle to get to downtown,” Noble said. “There needs to be something in our community that supports LGBTQ+ people and the culture and all of that because we’re everywhere, right? We are everywhere.”

Organizer Max Davis said that the inclusion of children’s events like a drag storytime was purposeful, and helps make the event more accessible to LGBTQ families and youth. 

“Kids I feel are the most important in as far as just showing them, just visibly showing them that you can live out and you can be queer,” Davis said. “There is no more dangerous time than now to be queer, questioning youth … So who better to welcome into the fold than kids who might be questioning their sexuality.”

Davis said that a big part of wanting to bring Pride celebrations uptown was to have a physical representation of support for the LGBTQ community.

“I felt like because there wasn’t anything going on in Sixteenth Street Heights — the clientele that we were serving up at Moreland’s absolutely is supportive, and I never felt that it wasn’t a supportive environment — but if you don’t have something to actively support that I feel that your support is just words,” Davis said. “If our community had someplace to attend even for one day to just be like, ‘Hey, I stand with you,’ … that is something that every community should have available to them to actively support the LGBTQ community.”

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District of Columbia

Capital Pride announces 2023 honorees, grand marshals

Assistant Secretary of Health Levine among picks



Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health Admiral Dr. Rachel Levine. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health Admiral Dr. Rachel Levine and acclaimed longtime D.C. LGBTQ and transgender rights advocate Earline Budd are among nine prominent LGBTQ community leaders named on Wednesday by the Capital Pride Alliance as its 2023 Capital Pride honorees.

Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes D.C.’s annual Capital Pride parade, festival, and related events, announced in a May 24 statement that it will present the honoree awards to each of the recipients at a ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, June 2, at the Penn Social event and catering hall at 801 E St., N.W.

“The recipients are nominated each year by members of the community,” the Capital Pride statement says. “They represent individuals who and organizations that have advanced the causes of LGBTQ+ rights,” it says.

The statement says Levine was selected for the Capital Pride Paving the Way Award, which “acknowledges an individual or organization that has provided exemplary contributions, support, and/or advocacy that has positively impacted the LGBTQ+ community, and whose leadership has inspired continued progress.”

Levine, who was appointed by President Biden in 2021 as Assistant Secretary of Health, is a longtime pediatrician who also serves as an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She became the first openly transgender person to hold the admiralty position.

Capital Pride named Earline Budd as recipient of the Capital Pride Super Hero Award, which “recognizes additional significant and important contributions to the LGBTQ+ community in the national capital region.”

The statement announcing the honorees says Levine and Budd will also serve as grand marshals for the June 10 Capital Pride Parade. It says each of the other honorees will serve as parade marshals.

The announcement says the following four people have been named as recipients of the Capital Pride Hero Award:

• Shi-Queeta Lee, the D.C.-based nationally acclaimed drag performer
• Benjamin Rosenbaum, longtime congressional staffer, LGBTQ rights advocate, and LGBTQ Jewish community advocate
• Nancy Canas, president of D.C. Latinx History Project and advocate for the LGBTQ Latinx community
• Abdur-Rahim Briggs, longtime leader of the D.C.-based Project Briggs, which provides philanthropic support for LGBTQ causes.

The following two organizations were named as recipients of the Capital Pride Breaking Barriers Community Impact Award, which recognizes individuals or organizations that have “demonstrated a significant impact to the LGBTQ+ community at either the local or national level and who helped eliminate barriers for social, personal, or professional growth of the LGBTQ+ community:

• Drag Story Hour DMV
• National LGBTQ Task Force

The Bill Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Services, which acknowledges “exemplary contributions to the Capital Pride Alliance, its programs, initiatives, or other Pride sponsored activities,” is being given to Brandon Bayton, Jr., a longtime Capital Pride volunteer, consultant, and organ transplant advocate, and LGBTQ rights advocate.

“We are fortunate to have such a vibrant honoree selection process, with so many outstanding individuals who were nominated,” said Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance Board of Directors. “We are very pleased to celebrate these individuals at the 2023 Capital Pride Honors,” Smith said in the CPA statement.

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District of Columbia

Blade names recipients of two summer fellowships

Kravis, Lev-Tov join LGBTQ news team



Isabelle Kravis and Joel Lev-Tov are the Blade Foundation’s 2023 summer fellows.

The Blade Foundation this week announced the recipients of its 2023 summer fellowship program. 

Isabelle Kravis (she/they) is a senior at American University studying journalism and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She will focus on covering LGBTQ issues in the local D.C. area for 12 weeks starting this week. The fellowship is made possible by a generous donation from the DC Front Runners Pride Run 5K event.

“I’ve been reading the Blade since I first moved to D.C. for my freshman year and I’m so excited to be able to contribute to such a historic paper,” Kravis said. “I love covering the LGBTQ community because of the diversity of experiences that each queer person has and the joy that queer people bring to everything they do. I’m incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to be able to cover both the city and community that I love.”

Joel Lev-Tov (they/them) is a senior at the University of Maryland College Park studying journalism. Lev-Tov also serves as president of the Association of LGBTQ Journalists at College Park. Lev-Tov is the sixth recipient of the Steve Elkins Memorial Journalism Fellowship, which honors the co-founder of CAMP Rehoboth. The fellow covers issues of interest to the LGBTQ community in Delaware, also for 12 weeks. The fellowship is funded by donations from the Rehoboth Beach community.

“I’m extremely excited to start reporting about my community for my community,” Lev-Tov said. “The Blade is offering me a special opportunity that I’m very grateful for. I can’t wait to start reporting!”

Kevin Naff, editor of the Blade, welcomed Kravis and Lev-Tov to work this week.

“We’re all excited to work with Isabelle and Joel this summer,” Naff said. “There’s never been more news to cover and they will add an important, fresh perspective to our work. Thank you to our donors and to the Front Runners for making this program possible.”

For more information on the fellowship program or to donate, visit

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