Union Label

With booths and banners, Pride narrows the hunt for dates or mates

Dating in D.C. can be an onerous enterprise for single GLB or T Washingtonians. It’s not that there’s lack of people to choose from, but it’s the hunt that can be tricky.

The bars, while often hopping, don’t necessarily tell you much about the patrons. That guy at Remingtons may prefer speed metal to Dolly, but happens to live around the corner. That hot girl at Phase 1 might just be a progressive straight woman, out with her roommate. Or say you invest yourself even further. Maybe you met a few of the DC Strokes as they were out fundraising, and guess that you might hit it off with one of them. All those mornings spent rowing the Anacostia may or may not pan out.

That lack of precision is precisely what makes this time of year a bonanza for GLBT singles. Shopping for love is usually about as random as a garage sale’s offerings. Capital Pride, however, turns that garage sale into a categorized and compartmentalized ”big box” store of labeled possibilities.

Perhaps you’re a single lesbian older than 30. Lo and behold, this year the group ”30+ Lesbian Singles” will host a booth at the festival. How much more focus could you ask for? Well, plenty. And it’s there.

With more than 200 vendors signed up for the festival, and about 75 Capital Pride Parade contingents, June 14 and 15 will put GLBT Washington on display in ways not replicated on this scale any other time of year.

”Pride weekend is terrific for people who are single to find people with common interests,” confirms Karen Jones, who will be greeting festival-goers from the 30+ Lesbian Singles booth. ”It’s a great way to meet people. You do have to make your own way, though. You have to put yourself out there.”

Nick Hirsch is something of a case in point. While he didn’t come to Capital Pride 2007 from Norfolk to meet a mate, Pride magic cast its spell nonetheless. From Norfolk, he’d come to spend the weekend with some friends in the local chapter of the Radical Faeries. With no chapter in Norfolk, he was familiar, but not a member himself. That Topher O’Conner was a member of the chapter — and a friend of his hosts — made O’Conner something more than a random rogue.

”He was part of the Radical Faeries. He stopped in where we were doing our parade preparations,” Hirsch explains. ”We just kind of eyeballed each other.”

By February, Hirsch was back in D.C., living with O’Conner, and the pair will be celebrating their one-year anniversary at Capital Pride.

”What’s great is there are so many groups that are kind of specific. When you meet gay men, it’s usually kind of hodge-podge. It’s compartmentalized at Pride, and you find people of like interests. I think it’s a very good place to meet people.”

The Capital Pride Guide simplifies the hunt by offering listings of all the registered booths and parade contingents. Festival organizers go a step further, generally grouping similar organizations together, whether its religious groups, sports groups or almost anything you can think of. Do you want to marry a doctor? Try moseying over to the Capital Area Physicians for Human Rights table to see if anything strikes your fancy. Maybe you’re sick of your so-called friends mocking your Star Trek jones. There’s probably somebody over at the Lambda Sci-Fi booth who wouldn’t mind a marathon with you.

From politicos to pet lovers to the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, Capital Pride presents a unique and priceless venue for meeting GLBT locals who wave a banner that may suit you. If you’re in the market, Capital Pride offers a great shot at making it a banner year for your love life.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.