Washington — WASHINGTON -- You could hear the screams and cheers from blocks away.
On Saturday, D.C. hosted the 2018 Pride Parade. There were tons of smiles and tons of reasons for why people showed-up to the celebration on Saturday.
Alejandra Powell said she made a four hour drive from southern Virginia to show support for her family.
“They’re the same people as just normal, straight people like me and they deserve the same respect as I do,” said Powell.
Nailah Hunter of Maryland says she came to mark her own coming out.
“We all need this inclusively. We need to celebrate everyone, we’re all human,” Hunter added.
Many came to share the love, but most importantly – we’re told they came to send a message.
“The reality is that we need to show the show of unity -- to show that we care and that we are not going away and that we are going to resist. This is as much a parade as it is a protest,” said Cathy Renna with the DC’s Capital Pride Alliance.
It’s parade time in #DC @CapitalPrideDC #CapitalPride #CapitalPride2018 #Parade 22nd & P Sts. NW @wusa9 pic.twitter.com/4QR5liXL09— Stephanie Ramirez (@RamirezReports) June 9, 2018
Renna is a long-time DC-area resident who’s been paying close attention to what’s been going on in the Nation’s Capital.
This includes unsolved April attack two gay men. It happened along the very busy, U St. corridor.
Hate Crimes have been on the rise in DC. DC Police stats recorded 179 last year when the District only saw 66-biased incidents in 2015.
Most of the bias incidents appear to be over sexual orientation.
Last April, after the violent U St. attack, Chief Peter Newsham made a point to say most of the hate crime incidents have been against property.
Renna tells WUSA9, “Hate crimes have spiked since the Presidential campaign and it’s not just LGBT people; It’s all people, women, people of color, people of color, people of different religions. So the reality is we need to show a show of unity.”
To drive home the message of equality, the Capital Pride Alliance named Judy & Dennis Shepard as the Grand Marshals of this year’s parade. The couple lost their son 20 years ago. Matthew Shepard was reportedly abducted, tortured and murdered in Wyoming because of his sexual orientation.