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By meerna Jun12,2024

Pride weekend in Washington, D.C. means rainbow floats filling a crowded 14th Street, bubbles floating above rooftops, Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” blasting from loudspeakers, and groups of enthusiastic residents and tourists eagerly holding on to barricades in readiness for the parade.

With shouts of “Happy Pride” coming from the roof of a double-decker bus wrapped in the World Pride 2025 logo and cheers from the crowd in the street, the long-awaited Capital Pride Parade began.

On Saturday, it looked like all of D.C. came out in rainbow outfits to celebrate the progress of the LGBTQ community. Various floats took part in the parade procession, which lasted for almost six hours. These include organizations supporting the LGBTQ community, local and international businesses, local sports teams, political candidates and their supporters, including Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, various embassies, and more. Unlike previous years, when D.C.’s infamous heat and humidity tortured participants and spectators alike, the weekend’s weather featured clear blue skies and comfortably moderate temperatures.

Martie Fulp-Eickstaedt came from Richmond to immerse herself in all the queer love and community. “I’m celebrating with my friends, my dear buddies who I adore,” she said. “It’s really just about celebrating with the community. I love seeing other people’s outfits and seeing the joy on people’s faces. People come together to celebrate love.

Fulp-Eickstaedt continued, explaining that the joy she experiences cannot be matched. “I just love seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces. And dancing. I love dancing. This one loves to dance,” she said, pointing to her friend sitting on the curb next to her. “Seeing her dance is one of the best things.”

There was plenty of dancing this weekend. Since the opening of RIOT! dance party, 17th Street block party, Flashback Tea dance, Pride festival and concert, countless private bars and events that host events, you can easily dance in the name of Pride.

Other parade guests, like 73-year-old former Navy sailor Eric Kearsley, who traveled to Washington with his partner from Philadelphia, have more emotional connections to Capital Pride.

“I’m here today because I wouldn’t miss the Washington Pride Parade and Festival,” Kearsley said. “This is the first parade I’ve gone to since coming out in 2005.” He told the Blade that since then he has made this trip every year to watch the parade.

“It’s an emotional thing for me every time,” he added. “When I first saw the military service – the Honor Guard going through it, I just went crazy. And I always meet friends. It’s just a great experience and makes me proud.”

On Saturday, Miss and Mr. Capital Pride take part in the 2024 Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Despite the familiar sights of flying beads and confetti during the parade, this year’s route was different. In the past, the parade passed through the historic “gay district” of Dupont Circle. This year, parade organizers decided to travel down 14th Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, ending at Pennsylvania Avenue and 9th Street, NW. This new route was intended to be a test run for next year’s massive World Pride 2025 event, hosted by DC.

Mary Nichols, a 29-year-old from Tysons Corner, was filled with pride and was thrilled that DC would be hosting World Pride. “I’m so excited for DC World Pride,” she said. “I feel like it’s going to be like the Gay Olympics!”

She continued by explaining why celebrating Pride brings her so much joy. “I love Pride. I loved it when I was an ‘ally,’” Nichols said, laughing. “I just love dancing, music and celebrating. I love seeing people’s outfits. But most of all I like spending time with friends. And I just love celebrating being queer!”

In addition to the parade, a newer DC Pride tradition returned: Pride on the Pier and a fireworks display, sponsored by the Washington Blade and held at the Wharf. This year’s event attracted thousands of people who came to watch drag kings and queens, dance to DJs and, of course, watch fireworks.

In addition to Saturday’s parades and events on the pier, the Capital Pride festival and concert took place on Sunday at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The festival featured over 300 exhibitors supporting LGBTQ people, selling Pride-related merchandise, food and beverages, and educating the public on issues important to the LGBTQ community.

When the sun began to set in the sky, the concert began on the stage ending the festival walk. Performers including Exposé, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Sapphira Cristál, grand marshal KeKe Palmer, Billy Porter and headliner Ava Max all danced, sang and celebrated the LGBTQ community, with the capital being the perfect backdrop.

Safira Cristal performs at Capital Pride 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Despite the joyful energy of the weekend, many celebrating people also pointed out that there is still much work to be done to ensure equal rights for all members of the LGBTQ community.

Scotty Moore (22), who lives in the Logan Circle neighborhood in Washington, D.C., touched on the fight for transgender people in the US

When asked what the biggest threat to the LGBTQ community was, he answered without hesitation. “A lot of anti-transgender legislation,” Moore said. “I think we are seeing a huge step back from the progress we have made in the last 10 years. We have generations raised with a lot of reactionary media that is not very pro-gay. I think this is the main threat for us not only now, but also in the future.”

Moore continued, explaining that this is why the LGBTQ community must continue to celebrate Pride.

“I think it’s important to celebrate Pride because Pride is not something that’s a thing of the past,” he said. “Pride is something we have now. We have to stay consistent and make sure the community knows we are here.”

Capital Pride Festival 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

By meerna

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