LifestylePride Month: D.C. celebrates with a march and advocates for equality

Pride Month: D.C. celebrates with a march and advocates for equality

As Pride Month continues across America, thousands flooded the streets of D.C. on a spectacular, sun-drenched day on Saturday, June 8, to celebrate the strength, beauty and contributions of members of the LGBTQ community and advocate for continued strides toward justice.  

Celebrated Tony Award-winning actor and singer Billy Porter, a staunch human and gay rights activist, served as this year’s grand marshal, along with multifaceted and award-winning actress Keke Palmer.  In his comments prior to the kickoff of the parade, Porter set the tone for the purpose of celebrating and marching in June and beyond.

“As a 54-year-old Black, queer who came out in the ’80s at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, I’ve learned that love always wins,” Porter said. “But it takes effort and the willingness to fight. As John Lewis said, we have to get into ‘good trouble.’”

Porter emphasized the need for activism and fighting for justice, particularly with the general election this November.

“We are here and we are queer, so get used to it and get over it, darlings. I encourage you all to go out and vote. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care where you come from. It is an election year and our democracy is at stake. Period. And there’s only one choice [on the ballot] that is for democracy,” Porter said.  “When I started going to gay pride it was a march that represented political activism and being here today, it’s political activism for me once again – and I hope for you, too.”

For the first time in the history of D.C. Pride, the annual parade bypassed its traditional route in Dupont Circle and instead began at 14th and T Streets in Northwest, ending along Pennsylvania Avenue, just a stone’s throw away from the White House.

Capital Pride’s director of operations, Sahand Miraminy, explained that with WorldPride 2025 coming to D.C. next year — which also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the District’s first Pride event — the new route was used to determine if it could accommodate larger crowds and bigger floats.

“This is sort of our last test run before the big year in 2025,” Miraminy said.

All the colors of the rainbow were in full display as bands, floats, dancers, motorcycles, local politicians and representatives from houses of worship waved to and entertained the diverse crowds. 

Carol Schwartz, a longtime District resident, community volunteer and former at-large D.C. Council and school board member, said she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else than at the 2024 Pride Parade last Saturday.

“I’ve always come out to support Pride both before, during and after my years in D.C. politics and I’m very proud to see the positive results that are occurring today,” Schwartz said. 

The former politician said that the District can still do more to make the nation’s capital a more accepting and inclusive place.

“D.C. is a great place to live, to love and to raise a family. But we aren’t done yet; we still have more minds to open. As for those who can’t or who won’t open their minds, it’s their loss. What I know is that my whole life has been made richer by the LGBTQ community,” she said.

Citizens Push for a Better Tomorrow 

Wallace Corbett, 63, a resident of Southeast, said being a senior has given him a clearer perspective of what’s needed for him and other older gay men.

“Most of my friends are my age, they’re Black and they’re gay, like me, so we’ve experienced a lot,” he said. “Are things better today? Yes. But even within the gay community, there’s still segregation. And just because someone is gay, doesn’t mean they aren’t racist. And that applies to Blacks and whites. We still have problems accepting one another across the color line.”

Robert Johnson, 59, a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, who attended the parade with Corbett and several others, said he’s seen progress but not enough.

“We need to press our elected officials to pass The Equality Act which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity and sexual orientation,” he said. 

“Women, Blacks, gays, transgender, you name it – we all deserve to live our lives as we choose and to have the same rights. I want everyone to be protected under the law. I just wish those who are different from me felt the same way because we all serve the same God.

“We have to get young people more involved and show them how important it is for them to vote. As for the upcoming election, if we want equal rights and protection under the law, then we need to make sure Donald Trump doesn’t get elected. He’ll take this country and our rights back to a less humane time,” Johnson said.

Asha Bridges, 31, a Temple Hills, Maryland resident, who attended the parade with her partner, Day Day, said she was proud to be able to celebrate Pride with the person she loves.

“I haven’t been to any Pride events for a while and it’s great to be back,” Bridges said. “I feel accepted within my own community – the Black community.”

Even with the celebratory air, Bridges, like Schwartz, emphasized the need for more people to be open-minded to combat homophobia and transphobia.

“If you ask me why there’s still hatred and homophobia, especially aimed at transgender, I think it’s because people don’t know us,” Bridges explained. “If they knew us, they’d realize we’re more like them than we’re unalike. We’re not that different at all.”

Source: Washington Informer

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