John Shields

Capital Pride Festival - It's Time to Shake Up "The System"

Filed By John Shields | June 14, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Gay Icons and History, Marriage Equality, Politics

From New York City to San Francisco to our nation's capital, I've been to - and in - many Pride parades and festivals across this country.

rainbow flag.jpgArguably the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ movement, New York City has to lay claim to the largest parade, which they call a "March," followed by a huge street festival on the banks of the Hudson.

Each year, San Francisco and Los Angeles switch places to have their Pride events coincide with New York's - with this year San Francisco's "To Form A More Perfect Union" also happening on June 28th. Los Angeles' is holding their parade and festival this weekend, which this year is called "Power. Passion. Purpose."

Last night, in The District of Columbia, we celebrated Capital Pride in grand style with a parade snaking through the heart of the gay district in Dupont Circle. This year's theme, called "Generations of Pride: Celebrate and Remember," honored two super-heroes of the LGBTQ movement - Dr. Frank Kameny and Dr. Lilli Vincenz. As with every Pride parade (or march), it was fabulous, fun, peaceful and filled with love and acceptance.

Today, however, is the Capital Pride Festival. Situated on Pennsylvania Avenue, with a backdrop of the U.S. Capitol and down the street from the White House, D.C.'s Pride Festival offers a unique view into how it feels to be an American - as well as hitting home on how many of our federal laws discriminating against LGBTQ Americans could be fixed by the politicians in power on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Last night we celebrated our diversity in a wild (although not as wild as San Francisco, which arguably has the most splendiferous display of our community's diversity) and fun manner. Today, however, it's time to agitate and shake up the political system.

From the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill now being buried as an amendment (it should have been a "stand-alone bill - symbols matter~!), to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act struggling it's way through the halls of power to Don't Ask, Don't Tell - which apparently is not going to even be spoken about until late 2010 if you listen to some of the "leaders" of our community - today 250,000 diverse Americans will watch RuPaul sing on stage, eat burgers, have some beer, and let their kids play in the special children's area.

It's also the day we get to sign up to volunteer with a national or regional organization to fight for our civil rights. Today's the day we get to sign up for marriage equality in our nation's capital. Today's the day we get to tell congressional representatives and staffers, as well as personnel with the Obama administration (trust me, they'll be there - we're everywhere...) to get it in gear and pass federal legislation protecting all Americans.

So if you get to attend the Capital Pride festival between the U.S. Capitol and the White House, have a wonderful time. Just remember to support those sponsors and vendors by stopping by their booths and or catching their roving volunteers and make a choice to help. Sign a petition, put your name on a mailing list, find out how to volunteer, and buy something if you can from one of the vendors.

Importantly, as you gaze at the U.S. Capitol, remember that we are all fighting for the same thing - equal rights and equal protections under the laws of the United States of America. As we may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or anywhere along that spectrum - but we are all Americans.

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FYI San Francisco Pride is ALWAYS the same weekend as NYC. Go Harvey!

John Shields John Shields | June 14, 2009 12:43 PM

Thanks Patrick. They used to alternate, but I guess that's changed now. Both, as well as several others across the Golden State, are some of my favorite Pride events - it's hard to choose which one is more fun.

Gotta run - off to Capital Pride's festival.