DC Pride festival and parade builds support for the LGBTQ+ community
Pride celebration was largest ‘to ever take place’ in the District, Capital Pride says
More than 600,000 people flooded the streets for the Capital Pride Alliance’s annual Pride parade and festival, making it the largest in the District’s history.
Excitement and joy were abundant especially as there were fears Pride would have to be canceled because of poor air quality from forest fires in Canada.
People crowded the streets from Logan Circle to Dupont Circle to participate in the parade, attend the festival and show support for the community. The parade featured a marching band, rainbow decor and different LGBTQ+ identity flags.
The theme of this year’s Pride was ‘Peace, Love and Revolution,’ to call attention to LGBTQ+ social justice issues, while setting the tone for a three-year lead up to World Pride 2025, for which D.C. has been named the host city.
Gabriella Hoard, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said that this was her first Pride in D.C.
“The parade is really cool and I have liked the floats and stuff so far. There are a lot of people here, and my city is small so it’s very different to see a lot of people and it’s so cool,” Hoard said.
Roads were blocked off from traffic to accommodate the people lining the sidewalks to watch the parade.
Ahead of the weekend, the public was also allowed to sign up to ride — some people on motorcycles — or walk in the parade, while handing out mini rainbow flags, bubbles and beaded necklaces in the process.
Gabrielle Thomas, a parade participant, said that she was the first transgender candidate to run for Miss Senior D.C., a pageant held each year to select a woman aged 60 and older to represent the District in the Ms. Senior America Pageant.
Thomas told The Eagle that she wanted to show up and support Pride, especially because of the anti-trans and LGBTQ+ legislation passed this year.
“If you start with one group, where does it end? We must stop this now,” Thomas said. “We need more support from our allies. We need more people who love us and support us to come forward and say that we have the right to be who we are.”
Miles Wilson, a junior in the School of Communication, said that he attends Pride every year and was especially excited to see how important this weekend was for many people.
“I think particularly for trans kids, Pride is important for people and I want to show up and support that. I think Pride is back in a good way and I am really happy about that,” Wilson said. “I like to see that there are all different types of people of all different ages here. I’m really happy to see that.”
Capital Pride held its big festival the following day, with a concert that evening with actress and singer Idina Menzel, known for her role as Elphaba in ‘Wicked,’ and LGBTQ+ icon Hayley Kiyoko headlining.
Several different vendors selling handmade jewelry, clothing and Pride themed merchandise were set up and organizations from Wegman’s to NBC had booths.
Cindy Saltzman, a volunteer with METRO DC PFLAG, was a representative at the organization’s festival tent. Saltzman said that her daughter’s coming out story was unique and that having a tent at Pride was important to helping other families.
“There are kids who come out every day or want to come out to their folks and don't know how so they come here so they can be themselves,” Saltzman said. “ We need to get us out of this nonsense of the LGBTQ community being judged and threatened. We want to get out of the slump and back to ‘no matter who you identify as, you are still human and we still love you’.”
Organizations specific to supporting people of color in the community were also there.
José Ganoa, the director of the Latinx History Project, said that the project has been supporting and representing their organization at Pride since 2006 and does a lot of national community resource work — including collaborating with AU professors.
“We are an organization rooted in our community as a Latinx LGBTQ organization,” Ganoa said. “We recognize that our work in LGBTQ and in Pride is not seen in parties and celebrations, and while those things are beautiful, our work has always been rooted in the struggle and needs to bring awareness to the suffering of LGBTQ communities, specifically LGBTQ communities of color.”
The Human Rights Campaign was also present at Pride. American University alumnus Kendall Kalustyan, a federal policy worker at the Human Rights Campaign, said that the HRC was at the festival in part because of the unprecedented attacks on trans youth in 2023 and the community as a whole.
“After the end of the legislative session we had 20 states that banned gender-affirming care, so about half of the trans youth in our country can’t access life-saving medical care,” Kalustyan said. “Pride is so important this year because, one, we need time to celebrate the good things because it has been a very bad year, and two we need to let our supporters know just how bad things are so we can get out and mobilize people.”
The Supreme Court of the United States made its ruling in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis on June 30, a case in which they ruled in favor of a conservative Christian web designer who refused to make wedding websites for same-sex couples because it would be against her religious beliefs.
The ruling means that businesses which have or include “expressive services'” and “pure speech,” are now allowed to refuse to service LGBTQ+ customers. Some legal experts think that the ruling could lead to the chipping away of non-discrimination rights for many people, as many businesses are expressive.
The National LGBTQ Task Force is an organization based in D.C. and according to their website, it is dedicated to helping achieve full equality, equity, freedom and justice for all LGBTQ+ people in the United States.
Kierra Johnson, the executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said that the task force was at the festival to celebrate Pride.
“It feels really good to be out here reminding people that even in the midst of extreme violence against our community, we have every reason to walk this planet with pride and joy and that is what today, this month, and our lives are about,” Johnson said.
This article was edited by Abigail Hatting, Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.