Celebrating LGBT Pride in the Nation's Capital

While Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month commemorates the June 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City as a tipping point for gay rights, Washington, D.C., has also played an important role in the movement's development.

The nation's capital has hosted a march for gay rights since 1979, and the U.S. Supreme Court has decided key cases such as the 2015 marriage equality law. D.C.'s Pride Celebration attracted more than 350,000 people in 2015, according to the Capital Pride Alliance, a non-profit group that organizes the parade, street festival and other events.

There are many ways to celebrate LGBT Pride Month, from attending events to supporting businesses that are LGBT friendly.

Annual parade

The annual Capital Pride Parade is scheduled to run June 11 in Washington, D.C.
S. PAKHRIN/ Flickr, Wikimedia Commons

The Capital Pride Parade is slated to start at 4:30 p.m. June 11 at Northwest 22nd and P streets. Winding through the Dupont Circle and Logan Circle neighborhoods, the march travels almost two miles, culminating around 14th and R streets.

More than 180 organizations and businesses stage floats and other creative and colorful parade exhibits. Actor Leslie Jordan, who won an Emmy Award for his work on Will & Grace and has also appeared in Star Trek: Voyager, Caroline in the City, Boston Legal and Ugly Betty, will be the parade's grand marshal.

Jordan is also scheduled to perform live for two shows at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. June 10 in the Studio Theatre. Tickets start at $40. He is slated to appear at the "Crack of Noon" Pride Brunch at noon June 11 at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar. Other special guests include singer Pepper Mashay and model Bo Roberts. Tickets to that event are $100.

After the June 11 parade, there are some pride-themed dance parties. FUSE is geared towards women, starting at 9 p.m. at the historic Howard Theatre. For the men, there is a charity dance event at the gay leather bar, DC Eagle, starting at 10 p.m. Those who enjoy partying all night have that opportunity at the club, Flash, running from 3 a.m. until 9 a.m. June 12.

Concert and festival

On June 12, the annual Pride Festival runs all day starting at noon along Dupont and Logan circles, as well as Pennsylvania Avenue from Northwest 3rd to 7th streets. Among the performers on three stages will be Grammy Award-winner Meghan Trainor and Billboard Music Award-winner Charlie Puth. Trainor is slated to sing at 8 p.m. and Puth at 7 p.m. on the stage near the U.S. Capitol.

Admission is free, but if you want to get close to the main stage in the pit, that will cost $35. There will be several hundred vendors and food available. If you haven't had enough celebrating by then, there is a closing party starting at 10 p.m. June 12 at Cobalt.

More events

If you can't make those events, there are others scheduled throughout June. The Young Adults Ministry of Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, D.C., the city's oldest mostly LGBT church, will host a cookout and open house from noon to 4 p.m. June 18. The church of part of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a denomination with a special ministry to LGBT followers.

A forum on LGBT youth homelessness will run from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. June 22 at the Church of the Epiphany. Some 43 percent of homeless youth in D.C. identify themselves as LGBT, according to the Capital Pride Alliance. The suicide rate of such youth is much higher than straight homeless young people, officials say.

Supporting businesses such as Marriott Rewards, the lead sponsor of the parade, and Maryland Live! Casino, the presidential sponsor of the festival, is another way to commemorate the month.
The Capital Pride Alliance organizes events throughout the year, including a special LGBT water park party at Six Flags America on July 30.

Kevin Shay has written for The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post's Local Living, Yahoo, and eOutdoors, among others. A D.C. native, he has written several travel and history books.