WASHINGTON — In what organizers say was a surprise turn of events, the Capital Pride Alliance was able to host its first in-person Pride event since COVID hit.
D.C. fully reopened Friday, June 11, allowing for crowds to storm the streets in the hallmark rainbows of the LGBTQ+ flag — which they did.
Hundreds marched from DuPont Circle to Freedom Plaza Saturday afternoon, where Mayor Bowser spoke. Kamala Harris later met the crowds en route, signaling her support.
It was an exciting sensory overload for three young friends, one of whom was attending for their first-ever Pride event.
“Seeing all these people being proud of who they are. It's really important to me as a young lesbian," Norah said.
The foundation for that openness was laid generations back by people like Don Cheney, who has been coming out to DC's Pride events since 1976.
“When it first started on S street, it was just a block party, and it's growing and growing," Cheney said. "I'm 75 now, it kind of like fizzles, you know, hype on it. But today you just have to be here today was like a rebirth of pride.”
Amid the flags and feathered high-heels were reminders that there is still a fight for equality.
One of Norah's friends said that one of their neighbors — a couple who is transgender — had their flag taken down from their house a few days ago.
"You cannot take down a flag and kill the queer community," Sol said. "It takes so much more to destroy queer people than this."
Even in the face of violence, like the D.C. woman who is transgender being brutally stabbed last week, this group said they have the determination to stay loud and proud.
“We have to build back stronger every time this happens and show, especially our legislators, that we're here and we're queer and we won't stand for the garbage that they're throwing at us," Norah said.
Allies joined the march as well, like Tawana Thomas and her daughter.
“We're here to celebrate and give them support and show equality is everything," Thomas said. "That's what we need to have in this country.”
She and the organizers put out a call to make every day feel as open and accepting as Saturday's parade of pride.
“We've been locked up for so long, and just the feeling of being able to come out and come together as a family as a community is huge," Capital Pride Alliance President, Ashley Smith, said.