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Saturday, June 13: Gay Pride Parade Big Hit With Thousands Along 22nd & P to U St. Route

Accompanying images can be viewed in the July 2015 issue pdf

By Phil Carney

Pride celebration in DC was started 40 years ago by Deacon Maccubbin as a small, simple block party in Dupont Circle. It then became a larger festival, then a parade and festival and then a parade and festival on separate days. Today we have more events than I can keep track of during Pride week plus events throughout the year.

[Editor’s Note: Deacon Maccubin, mentioned above, the neighborhood’s pioneering gay leader who organized DC’s first-ever annual Pride celebration on 20th Street between R and S Streets also had his iconic Lambda Rising bookstore in there before moving a block away into much expanded space on Connecticut Avenue where it continued for 35 years.]

The parade was sponsored by Marriott on Saturday in our Dupont Circle neighborhood and the festival was sponsored by Hilton on Sunday on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, with the US Capitol for a backdrop. There were over 60 corporate sponsors this year. Last year for the first time, the parade was led by an official U.S. Military Color Guard and as a gay veteran that meant a lot to me.

I do miss the simpler and more relaxed neighborhood block party. But Deacon and our neighborhood did start something that has surpassed everyone’s expectations. To quote from part of the letter sent to this year’s Pride committee by President Obama:

“Over the past few decades, we have seen enormous progress thanks to brave Americans who have come out, spoken out, and marched for a more compassionate, more inclusive, and more equal Nation. As you gather to celebrate love for being love and people for being who they are, let us each recommit to raising our voices against intolerance and striving to ensure all people enjoy the dignity and protections they deserve. As our Nation continues its journey toward becoming a more perfect Union, you have my best wishes for a wonderful celebration.”

Years ago, then Dupont Circle Citizens Association President Marge Young and her husband hosted an ongoing dinner for neighbors after the Pride parade. Maybe 20 people came and went over four hours with eight to 10 people at a time sitting around their table. Everyone had watched the parade. Only later did I realize that of the 20 there were more straight than LGBT people. DC Pride week was not just for LGBT people; it was a celebration for all people of acceptance, respect and diversity.

It has been an awesome journey.