Thousands of people flocked to the District June 8-9 to celebrate diversity and victories in the battle against gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual discrimination at the 38th Annual Capital Pride festival.

The celebration kicked off on June 8 at 4:30 p.m. with the Capital Pride Parade, which began at the corner of 22nd and P streets NW in Dupont Circle and traveled 1.5 miles up 14th street to Logan Circle.

More than 170 groups traveled the parade route, some perched on decorated floats, some on foot, dressed or painted head to toe in brilliant colors as they tossed Skittles packets, beads and condoms to people lining the parade route. Some even spritzed watchers with toy water guns. Drag queens waved at crowds from inside convertibles and atop floats; some even walked effortlessly alongside parade vehicles in flowing gowns on 8-inch platform heels.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) attended. The parade’s grand marshal was actress Lynda Carter, best known for playing Wonder Woman decades ago in a television show.

The celebration continued June 9 at noon, with the Capital Pride Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th streets, NW. Hundreds of vendors hocked products and services from booths and stands, including everything from turkey legs and crab cake sandwiches to jewelry, art and clothing. Mobile medical units provided health information and on-site HIV testing. Volunteers from the Whitman-Walker Health Clinic, Metro TeenAIDS, AIDS Walk Washington and other agencies also passed out contraceptives, pamphlets, bags and mementos.

Highlights of the festival included performances by celebrity impersonators Cher Lloyd and Icona Pop and appearances by the three finalist in the RuPaul’s Drag Race TV show; the winner, Jinkx Monsoon, was announced.

Attendees came from near and far. Denzel McCampbell, 21, of Detroit, came to D.C. from Michigan State University. Brian Watson, 31, came from Deanwood with his fiancé, Anthony Scott, 33, and their 8-year-old foster son.

“I think in the last couple of years in D.C. a lot has happened around marriage equality,” said Watson. “There is a lot to be prideful for this year, especially here in D.C. We both come from cities where it was not as popular to be out. This is a weekend in which we can be out and Black and affirming. It’s our time to celebrate.”

Toni Clark of Landover attended with her partner of 16 years, Lonnie Fowler. With them was Clark’s daughter, Kiana Kirkland, 23. Clark, who is engaged to be married to Fowler in September 2014, said: “It doesn’t matter what color you are, what age you are, what nationality. We all enjoy each other and we have a good time. This is, to me, what America should be. This is love.”


Ariel Medley and Talib Babb

Special to the AFRO