Drag Bingo Bash at Taylor Gourmet. A pride Shabbat service at Sixth and I. Pride staff T-shirts at sweetgreen. Symbols of LGBT pride are ubiquitous in D.C. at the moment, as the first week of Pride Month begins and, with it, Capital Pride 2018.
What started as the annual Gay Pride Day in 1975 has mushroomed into more than 10 days of performances, parties and other gatherings run by an organization that serves multiple LGBT communities year-round, Capital Pride Alliance.
Executive Director Ryan Bos spoke with DC Refined about both Capital Pride’s history and contemporary role. Though he had a hard time narrowing down the list of must-attend events, he did recommend Night Out at the Nationals (Tuesday) and a "Call Me By Your Name" book/film discussion (Wednesday) for the early part of the week. The weekend kicks off with the Heroes Gala and D.C. Latinx Pride dance party (Thursday) and continues with Capital Pride’s opening party—Earth, Wind, Glitter and Fire(Friday). Bos also highlighted the pre-parade brunch (Saturday), which will feature parade grand marshals Judy and Dennis Shepard, the parents of gay college student Matthew Shepard, who was brutally killed 20 years ago. And the week’s largest event, likely to attract more than 300,000 people, is the festivaland concert (Sunday), featuring more than 275 exhibitors and dozens of acts at its concert, including headliners Alessia Cara, Troye Sivan, Keri Hilson and others.
How has Capital Pride evolved over the years?
We’re celebrating 43 years of pride in our nation’s capital. We’ve always relied on many organizations to bring the strength of the work that they do into the fold of what showcases the “elements of us,” which is this year’s theme. Capital Pride Alliance was formed in 2008, so this year is technically our organization’s 10th anniversary.
What do you see as its overall mission?
Every year, it’s someone’s first Pride. The celebration is about celebrating being who you are and being open and honest and feeling appreciated and feeling loved. So the mission of Pride here, and I think throughout the world, is really to continue to create this space for folks to come together and to feel loved, to feel inspired and to hopefully feel empowered to take action to continue to further the fight for social justice.
What are the communities that fall under the Capital Pride umbrella?
We use LGBTQ+—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus—pretty much everybody. If you were to talk to other Pride organizers around the world, Pride is really creating the space where everyone can feel comfortable being who they are, regardless of what that is. And we have work to do; it’s an evolving challenge to make sure that we continue to do better and to make it even more open and more accepting for more and more people as we move forward.
In an age where tolerance seems to be challenged at every corner, do you see Capital Pride’s message as more urgent?
It’s definitely relevant, with threats to the rights that have been given to us already [and] to the groups that are still the most marginalized, trans women of color—even our elderly are struggling to find those spaces to feel comfortable, to be out and proud. So it is critical that we continue to push the message of not just tolerance, but acceptance and understanding and awareness. And that again the core of what Pride means is that we all should have the opportunity to have pride in ourselves and to celebrate who we are, open and honestly, and ultimately authentically.
Interview has been edited and condensed.