Ten years ago I celebrated my first Pride here in Washington. Little did I know what my level of involvement would be now, and I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity to be part of such an amazing organization.
Washington's largest Pride celebration to date just came to a monumental close: 12 days of programming across the metro area. It was an incredible lineup of events with more than 250,000 attendees that culminated in the annual award-winning parade and landmark festival on Pennsylvania Avenue.
None of this would have been possible without our volunteer planning committee; the hundreds of volunteers who staffed events; a small and extremely dedicated staff; our Community Partners who contribute to our financial capabilities and our programming calendar; numerous local artists; a dedicated board of directors; a supportive network of local government agencies and leaders; our suppliers and vendors; and, of course, our sponsors and donors who provide the majority of the funding necessary for this spectacular celebration. If you see any of these people, please take a moment to thank them for their contributions to our community.
Because of our largest sponsors and our donors who contributed as little as a few dollars each, we were able to invest in the organization for Capital Pride 2011 and the results have been exceptional. We increased programming, especially around Women and Family initiatives. The thoughtfulness, rigor and structure of the organization has it poised for continued success in the years to come to better service our community.
The organization continues to grow. It needs new talent, fresh ideas and more support from people who are interested in helping to make Capital Pride a destination pride for our nation. I am extremely thankful for the many individuals in our community who have spent years volunteering with Pride, and we still need more help. Planning for 2012 begins soon, so if you would like to be part of this great organization, make sure to sign up on our website now! It doesn't matter if 2011 was your first Pride or your 100th, your talent and ideas are wanted and needed. When you volunteer with Capital Pride, you are making a significant contribution to the LGBT community. But if you are like me, you'll find that the friendships, passion and humility to gain will change the way you live.
As I reminisce over the exciting journey of the past four years, I begin to understand just how fortunate I have been to meet so many talented, dedicated, supportive people in our community who work to make this event possible each year. To everyone who helps to make Pride successful – whether you are a volunteer, vendor, sponsor, donor, attendee, supporter or spectator – please accept my deepest thanks and appreciation. None of this would be possible without you.
At this year's festival, I met a young man named Chris who told me this was his first Pride celebration. I looked at him and saw a glimpse of myself 10 years ago, when I was standing in his shoes. Many of us have celebrated our first Pride, and we have an obligation to make future Pride celebrations just as special for the newest members to our community. Congratulations to Chris and everyone else who celebrated Pride for the first time this year. And, above all, thanks to those of you who helped pave the way by coming out earlier. Pride is for all of us. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.
P. Michael Lutz is a founding board member and current president of Capital Pride Alliance Inc., the organization that produces the annual Capital Pride celebration.