All The History & Tea You Need to Know!
Pride Month is finally here! What started out as a riot at The Stonewall Inn in New York City, led by Black trans activist Marsha P. Johnson and Latin trans activist Sylvia Rivera, has turned into a month-long celebration filled with drinks, community, and celebrating the uniqueness that is being LGBTQ+.
Pride Month serves as a month not only to raise awareness to the hardships and the violence the community faces but it is also a time to celebrate LGBTQ+ identities and cultivate queer joy. From the highly anticipated New York City Pride to the jubilee of Boston and LA Pride, many cities all across the U.S celebrate Pride month, but nothing quite beats the uniqueness and soul that is DC Pride.
DC Pride, like many other Prides, wasn’t born out of the immediate embrace of queer identities but rather the oppression of them. While the DC of today has become an accepting place for queer folk to call home, the DC of the 1940s was a rocky landscape for queer communities to navigate through. The political climate and public unacceptance of queer identities manifested heavily in law. Laws like the Sodomy Law of 1948, set in motion by Representative Arthur Miller, created fines up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to 10 years for acts like anal and oral sex. These laws criminalized not only queer sex but also the identity itself. Much of this oppression bled into access and employment. In 1950 with the Employment of Homosexuals and Other Perverts in Government Senate Report, job discrimination for LGBTQ+ identifying folks became legal and commonplace, causing over 10,000 people to lose their careers and livelihoods.
With many queer communities left jobless and displaced, many queer folk turned inward for support and began to form local societies for LGBTQ+ activism and safe places to form community. The changing DC of the late 1950s and early 1960s gave rise to organizations like the gay-rights Mattachine Society of Washington, and gay & lesbian clubs like Nob Hill, the first Black gay club in Washington. By the late 1960’s discos like Plus One created even more space for queer visibility as the first gay disco where same-sex couples could openly dance.
Following the mark the Stonewall Riots left in New York City, a new wave of LGBTQ+ equality had begun to spread across the nation, hitting Washington DC in the 1970s. Gay newspapers like the Gay Blade, later renamed the Washington Blade, came into being. More LGBTQ+ bars began to open, queer bookstores like Lambda Reading were created, and queer folks like Frank Kameny were even running for office. Things were starting to change. With the first-ever annual Pride celebration of 1975 on 20th Street between R and S NW, Pride was here to stay and laid the foundation for the DC Pride we love and enjoy today.
Today’s DC Pride is full of vibrant musical performances, celebrity appearances, and is a day of pure celebration. This year’s DC Pride, put on by Capital PRIDE Alliance, is sure to be better than the last. Here’s everything you need to know about DC Pride events and the Do’s and Don’ts of celebrating safely.
What, When & Where
DC Pride has a slew of events one can attend, so when planning, know that Pride events start way before the June 11th weekend event. Here are just a few of the events one can attend.
Love poetry and supporting queer artists? Check out Outspoken: A Night of Queer Expression, Hosted by Busboys and Poets (Brookland) at 625 Monroe St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20017. Event tickets will be available to purchase soon via the Capital Pride Alliance website. Tickets currently range from the $10 – Ally Ticket, $15 – Protest Ticket, and $20 Changemaker Ticket. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to advancing the work of Capital Pride Alliance.
In collaboration with Marriott International, the Capital Pride Alliance Pride Parade will take place on Saturday, June 11th from 3:00 pm – 7:30 pm. The parade will take place from Logan to Dupont Circle following the route starting off at the announcement stand on 14th Street and finishing on O Street NW at the intersection of 21st Street NW. This event is free to the public, has a dedicated accessibility zone for those who need it at the beginning of the parade, and has a family-friendly zone for small children located at Stead Field.
Want to see local performers and listen to great DJs? Check out the Capitol Pride Block Party. This 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm event will be held on the same day as the Capital PRIDE Alliance Pride Parade on Saturday, June 11th. The event, held on 17th Street, will feature local DJs from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and then local entertainment from 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
Following the celebratory events of Saturday, June 11th the Capital Pride Alliance Pride Concert takes place Sunday, June 12th from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm, on America’s Mainstreet, 3rd & Pennsylvania Avenue. Featuring this year’s RuPaul’s Drag race winner Willow Pill and artists like Jody Watley, Tracy Young, and Vinicit, the concert will showcase talented performers and artists in and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. This event, while free to the public for general admission, does have VIP and Concert Pit passes available to purchase.
Pride Do’s and Don’ts
Do: Bring a Buddy
Pride is a huge celebratory event with many different events. Amongst a crowd of people, it’s always great to have a buddy or two to help navigate events and travel safely.
Don’t: Travel with Cumbersome & Precious Items
Amongst the walking and partying, no one wants to feel weighed down or lose valuables. For Pride this year travel lightly! Bring essentials like form of payment, necessary passes, water, and celebratory items. Leave behind the miscellaneous items and valuables you know you won’t need for the day.
Do: Wear Your Mask
While we might not be where we were at the beginning of the pandemic, it is important to be Covid-19 cautious and wear the proper mask during large events.
Don’t: Bring Your Car
While it might be tempting, Pride events are much easier to attend without a car. Most are within walking distance from one another and parking can be scarce. Leaving your car behind allows you to not have to worry about pesky parking or the danger of driving while intoxicated.
Do: Enjoy The Season and Meet New People
Remember what pride is about! Don’t get so bogged down in backlash and unacceptance or even in deciding what outfit to wear and scheduling events, that you forget that self-celebration, unity, and community are the reason for the season. Have fun, make new friends, ignore the hate and enjoy the celebration!