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Gay Pride Parade Reflected Great Progress

Accompanying images can be viewed starting on page 1 of the June 2019 issue pdf

By Phil Carney

Our neighborhood’s biggest annual event is the Pride parade. I was pleased to see Deacon McCubbin, who in the 1970s started a small Pride block party at 20th and S Streets NW. I could not have imaged then that this little celebration would grow over the years to what we have today. During the month there are more Pride events than I can remember, plus special celebrations for youth, transgender, minorities, elderly; an all-day Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue with the Capitol as a backdrop and, of course, our neighborhood parade.

Our parade had politicians, corporate participants, international participants, local businesses, and — almost lost in the crowd — were local groups and local folks. The biggest contingent was sponsor Marriott with a float and hundreds of marchers.

I Cannot thank enough each person who worked with the Pride organization — volunteers, participants, DPW for their cleanup, and especially MPD. It really does take a village to create such a fun celebratory event. I was touched this year by the range of ages and diversity of participants and celebrants which so positively highlighted that our city is truly a welcoming place.

As a veteran, I was pleased to see the British Embassy contingent led by military officers, though, as a local, I wish there had been more recognition of local groups by positioning them early in the parade. As always, I was pleased to see Deacon join in the celebration that he long ago started.

I remember from years ago a planned mural on McDonald’s south wall overlooking the 17th and Corcoran Streets intersection that would include LGBT couples. But McDonald said no way, and yet now they are a Pride sponsor.

I was pleased to see the Baltimore-Washington Methodist Bishop march in the parade for her first time. Last year she blocked two LGBT persons seeking to become ordained; this year she allowed the vote and over two-thirds of Methodist ministers in this area approved the ordination.

I was pleased that the Gay Men’s Chorus of DC was to participate in the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in New York City and sing at the Statue of Liberty!

With no disrespect for Stonewall, however, DC resident Frank Kameny was working for LGBT rights long before Stonewall. Frank always said that we advance rights not by demonstrating and yelling, but by putting on coat and tie, making an appointment, and confronting opponents in their offices. He was most proud of his slogan, “Gay Is Good.” I’m honored to live on 17th Street, NW — part of which is dedicated to Frank Kameny nine years ago this month.