Committed to Pride

Volunteer committees provide the energy and drive that turn Capital Pride into a dazzling reality

If past years are any indication, organizers of Capital Pride will probably start planning next year’s event moments after this year’s festival concludes on Sunday, June 13.

The one hundred or so people it takes to produce the weeklong Capital Pride celebration – up to and including the Parade and Festival — spend endless hours throughout the year planning the late-spring event as members of the Capital Pride Planning Committee.

Dyana Mason, executive director of Capital Pride, says the 10 different committees behind Pride are made up of ”dedicated volunteers who work really, really hard to bring all of the 50 events of Capital Pride together.”

And they do it all for free.

Those dedicated individuals include Jennifer Hall, co-chair of the Entertainment Committee, who describes her volunteer time as a labor of love.

”If I could do it full time, I would,” Hall says. ”Because every ounce of it is what I love to do. The feeling of being able to put an event together that is just going to bring the masses out and continue to promote our cause is great.”

Hall says the work is about the ”opportunity to give back” to the community.

”It’s about creativity and being able to produce something that’s going to make people remember what that day was for.”

The Entertainment Committee has been working since October to book a big name for Pride.

”We’d love to have Madonna or Lady Gaga, but there are a whole a bunch of different factors that determine who we get. In the end, we want someone we know is going to draw a crowd.”

Pride thought it had just that with Mya as headliner, but the singer cancelled two weeks prior to the event for medical reasons. But Mya’s cancellation proved to be a benefit, with recently out country artist Chely Wright stepping in to fill the headlining bill. But it’s not all about the headliner.

”We have a variety of different acts,” says Hall, “including those artists from the D.C. area that a lot our community comes out to see regularly — the DC Cowboys, the Ladies of Town and Freddie’s Follies. These are artists that represent our community and what we stand for.”

Expect the Capital Pride Parade, featuring 135 contingents, to run as smoothly-as-ever this year, thanks to the Parade Committee.

Parade co-chair Steve Dobberowsky has been volunteering for the past five years and doesn’t mind putting in time striving for perfection — there’s always room for improvement.

”The thing that I always realize when I volunteer is that it’s always going to be someone’s first Capital Pride,” Dobberowsky says. ”I do it for those people, and others, but I think it’s always important to realize someone is new to this and wants a positive experience.”

Dobberowsky had his first Capital Pride experience in 1996 when he moved here from Michigan. “[It] opened my eyes,” he says. ”It made me feel that I wasn’t alone and that there were other opportunities and resources and people out there.”

Making sure people at this year’s events stay tidy and eco-friendly, the Green Committee is a new addition to the 2010 Capital Pride festivities.

”We do care about Mother Nature and the earth, and there will be recycling bins available at this event,” says Eboné Bell, who heads Pride’s Communications and Marketing Committee.

”The Green Committee actually came on board last year under the Volunteer Committee, but this year they are their own committee,” alongside others such as the Educational and Cultural Events committee.

”A lot of times people say, ‘Oh, Pride is just about parties, going to the bars and going to the clubs.’ But really we offer over 40 events this year, and a majority of them are educational and cultural events.”

In addition to those committees, the Capital Pride Planning Committee includes Capital Trans Pride, Community Partners and Events, and the Dances and Parties committees.

If there’s power in numbers, in this case, there’s power in Pride.

”We really have a good group of people leading all our committees this year,” Mason says. ”We’re really excited about that.”

To volunteer with Capital Pride or for more information about serving on next year’s committees, visit capitalpride.org.