Metro Weekly

Forum: Pride – Protest and Progress

"We aim to create space for protest through marches, celebration, education, laughter, and simply being present and visible."

It would be easy to turn the recent discussions surrounding LGBTQ+ Pride into a politicized argument between different camps, but that would be unfair to the staff, boards, and thousands of volunteers across the United States who help put on Pride and the millions of people who participate in those events. It would also be unfair to LGBTQ+ people, who have long been marginalized, are increasingly under threat, and bring critical concerns that our movement must grapple with — all stemming from the diversity of LGBTQ+ communities and intersectionality of the many issues that affect us.

Our community is like no other, representing a microcosm of our culture in all its rich diversity, cutting across age, race, gender identity, culture, economic status, political views, abilities, and every other identity. It is our greatest asset, but also can present immense challenges.

Instead, it may be useful to look at where we share common ground. As hard as it may be, let’s put away our assumptions and focus on what we know. My hope is that collectively and collaboratively we can undertake this work so that together we can be more powerful and successful. I also hope we share common goals, such as equality for all and a safe world in which to live, work, and thrive. Our paths may differ but our destination is the same.

We know this year is different, for obvious reasons. People are scared and traumatized, and our internal struggles are manifesting themselves in ways that we must all appreciate and examine as we approach Pride 2017 and beyond. If we do it right, our impact as a community will be powerful, positive, and permanent.

No one person, organization, or community “owns” Pride, and we all have the right to experience it in our own way. One of our primary responsibilities is to create opportunities that allow individuals to experience Pride in the way they feel most comfortable. This provides space for protest through marches, celebration, education, laughter, and simply being present and visible.

This year people can show up to the Capital Pride Parade, in solidarity with organizations they affiliate with to proclaim they have pride, they can show up for The Equality March for Unity & Pride to protest existing and potential actions against our community, and the Capital Pride Festival where they will have the opportunity to engage with over 200 organizations that do much-needed work every day.

Pride is an individual experience, born of protest and rooted in acknowledging and celebrating who we are — unapologetically. We need all types of protest to create change. Admittedly, our movement has a long way to go to be more inclusive, and we need to work together across issues as much as possible. After the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the victories for marriage equality, it was immediately clear that we had to devote even more energy and resources to other, less visible issues, from LGBTQ+ youth homelessness to national employment protections for LGBTQ+ people to safety issues for the trans community and others who are most vulnerable and marginalized.

As Executive Director of the Capital Pride Alliance, I affirm my commitment to work with our Board of Directors, volunteer leadership, and our LGBTQ+ partner organizations on the concerns addressed at our recent Community Dialogue that directly impact our Pride activities, but also our greater LGBTQ+ community in the national capital region and beyond. For example, we are already working with community leaders to have trans queer youth, one of our most marginalized and threatened communities, lead our 2017 parade.

For Pride 2017 in the nation’s capital, my goal is for us to come together in celebration and protest, to be visible and show the nation and the world that our community represents the best of America. The real America, made up of incredibly diverse, different, and proud people who believe in the principles and values of social justice, equality and community.

Ryan Bos is the Executive Director of the Capital Pride Alliance, which produces Capital Pride. What are your thoughts? Please share them below in the comments.

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