The Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 9, was the official start of Pride Month, also known as June. There are few events in the District that have the ability to truly bring the city together; the Pride Parade is one of those events.
For over 30 years, with friends and volunteers, I have marched in the Pride Parade. We had a beautiful day with great weather and lots of energy. Crowds cheered all along the 1.5-mile parade route and we were able to toss out all of the beads.
Pride is an important part of the D.C. community and Ward 2. The weekend festival celebrates the diverse and inclusive community that D.C. has become. The first gay pride event was celebrated in the city in 1972, but it wasn’t until 1975 that the first annual pridecelebration was held. The parade is now organized by the Capital Pride Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community in D.C. through educational events, entertainment, community outreach and celebrations of diversity.
This year, the grand marshals of the parade were Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was abducted and killed in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. Since his death, his parents have become advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. Hate crimes have been on the rise in the District in recent years and Capital Pride’s choice of grand marshals was meant to highlight the importance of equality and openness. We were honored to welcome them.
On Sunday, June 10, there was a festival that provided a chance for D.C. residents to connect with health, support and advocacy services. The festival culminated in a concert with nationally acclaimed artists such as Troye Sivan and Alessia Cara.
I’m proud that D.C. continues to celebrate Pride Month and be accepting of all people. We have come a long way in the last 50 years. As our population grows, I know that we can and will do more to make sure that Capital Pride marches on and that all are welcome in our city.
Thank you to everyone who came out to make Capital Pride 2018 such a great success. I look forward to seeing you again next year.
Jack Evans is the District Council member for Ward 2, representing Georgetown and other neighborhoods since 1991.