Transitioning to Tomorrow

Capital Pride Alliance prepares to take the 2009 reins

From its roots in the streets of Dupont Circle to Francis Field, from intimate neighborhood morning to an expanded evening parade, Capital Pride is nothing if not kinetic. As one of the country’s foremost LGBT celebrations, Capital Pride has been ever evolving, ever growing, to keep up with the vast community it represents.

And that timeline is about to mark yet another important turning point.

In March, Whitman-Walker Clinic, the entity responsible for the Capital Pride celebration since 2000 — first as a co-sponsor with One In Ten, and later on its own — announced that of a field of applicants, it had chosen the Capital Pride Alliance to transition into managing the annual event that attracts tens of thousands celebrants.

”Their breadth of knowledge and plans for the future, their level of professionalism, was incredible. They were very well prepared,” says Dave Mallory, now in his third year as director of Capital Pride for Whitman-Walker, of the selection process in which applicants made their cases before a Pride committee. ”What really struck me, they had completely organized themselves into basically a 501(c)3 in a matter of months.”

It’s not at all surprising that the Capital Pride Alliance knew what they were doing. This was no random collection of Pride boosters. This alliance is made of the very people who have already been donating their time and energy to Capital Pride as members of the event’s planning committee.

”There is a broad swath of the community represented in the Alliance,” Mallory continues. ”They’ll be able to build upon that community base. The level of skills and knowledge across the Alliance is great, and they’ll be able to utilize those talents.”

That the Capital Pride Alliance, whose transition to Capital Pride management will really take off once Whitman-Walker wraps up Capital Pride 2008, is of and for the community is reflected repeatedly in the organization’s institutional language. The CPA lists its values as diversity, inclusiveness and transparency, to name a few. The mission statement commits to ”educate, motivate, support and celebrate our diverse communities.” The executive summary pledges to ”respond to the dynamic and diverse needs of our community.”

”The Capital Pride Alliance was formed from Capital Pride planning committee members who came together and said, ‘Hey, this is something the committee could really assume on its own,”’ explains Michael Lutz, president of CPA’s board of directors. ”The Alliance and the Whitman-Walker are working together hand in hand. It’s a very amicable, very positive transition. Both organizations are doing it for the community, with the community at heart. We’ve had the full support and cooperation of everyone in the Alliance and at the Clinic. We’re ecstatic to be able to produce ’09, and we’re looking for people to come be a part of the Alliance.”

The first all-volunteer CPA board of directors is, in addition to Lutz: Anne Scott, vice president; Vincent E. Slatt, secretary; Larry Stansbury, treasurer; Bernard J. Delia; José Gutierrez; Adrianne L. Jones; Rees Kirkorian; Brandee Matthies; William Miles; and Robert Turner II.

”We were very surprised and very excited,” Lutz says of the March announcement naming the Capital Pride Alliance. ”We certainly believe we were one of the most qualified organizations, both with the talent and knowledge we brought, but we did not know it was coming. We certainly applaud Whitman-Walker Clinic for that, as well as the other organizations who put in blood, sweat and tears by applying. It shows that the other organizations also have the interest of the community as a whole at heart.”

William Miles has a certain perspective from his view on the board, but also brings a strong sense of history, having moved to D.C. in 1975. He came out in 1979 and has been attending Pride events ever since. And this new turn is one he’s proud to be part of. He says that Capital Pride’s direction, even more so, is something of which the whole community can be proud.

Pointing to growth in ethnic/racial diversity and more representational participation by women, as well as coming out of the some of the bleakest years of AIDS in the community — ”It was just a much more difficult time, especially for gay men, to really feel that there was anything to celebrate” — Miles’ excitement about the future of Capital Pride is palpable.

”I think it’s all really positive,” he says of the changes, particularly CPA’s transition to managing the celebration. ”The people on the board, our community, have a deep commitment and expertise. I’m confident we’ll be able to ratchet it up, make it the ‘Nation’s Pride,’ if you will. I’m also really excited about the Community Partners. That really speaks to the value of Capital Pride, that other organizations care and get involved.”

In the midst of all the work that goes into an event as encompassing as Capital Pride, one might think that while the Capital Pride Alliance members ponder 2009, Mallory might be pondering the future as well, salivating over future Junes that won’t run him ragged.

”My emotions right now are really mixed,” Mallory admits, citing the clinic’s annual AIDS Walk as just one spot where he’ll now be able to turn extra attention. ”It’s been a real honor to serve as the director of Capital Pride. I certainly still plan to be involved as a volunteer on the planning committee. It’s a lot of work, it’s stressful, but there are so many great people involved that I do enjoy it quite a bit.”

But just as Mallory prepares to bequeath an extra measure of that enjoyment to Lutz and the Capital Pride Alliance, Lutz is already calling on the community to come share the fun.

”We have an established event for the community — 10-plus days,” Lutz says proudly. ”We want to be sure to continue [that next year]. And we want to hear from the community what they want. That’s going to be huge. If the community wants new and different things, we’ll listen.”

For more information on the Capital Pride Alliance, visit www.capitalpridealliance.org.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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