About 200 people from various LGBT communities filed into National City Christian Church near downtown DC on May 8 for a meeting called by the organizers of this year’s Capital Pride event, to listen to community concerns and grievances about the June celebration. DC’s Pride has grown and changed substantially since the city’s first small event in 1972. Today, the Pride parade in the nation’s capital draws tens of thousands of spectators, and another 250,000 attend the festival with live music, food, and a number of businesses and community-based organizations promoting their products and services.
But this year, the meeting leading up to the parade was not to finalize organizational touches. Instead, many members of the LGBT community bombarded Capital Pride organizers with their concerns about corporate sponsorship, police participation, the lack of diverse leadership, and fundamental questions of whether this year’s Pride should be a celebration or a demonstration. For more than two hours, attendees pushed for significant changes, outnumbering those who wanted Pride to remain the same celebration it’s been in recent years.
In various ways, the meeting in DC was a microcosm of concerns that have become more prominent in planning Pride celebrations in the era of President Donald Trump, from New York to Los Angeles. Cities all over the country began having June parades in 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, in which patrons of a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn spontaneously rose up against police harassment in an event generally considered to be the beginning of the LGBT liberation movement. Over the years, the events became lively festivals and parades celebrating LGBT identity, with increasing corporate sponsorship and police participation.
But this year, organizers and activists across the country are grappling with whether Prides should be celebrations or protests. Read more via Mother Jones