As Capital Pride -- now marking its 34th year -- evolves, it has gone from the greenest of grassroots celebrations in a schoolyard to local institution, with ever more offerings, including the largest annual single-day festival in the nation's capital.
Through these many years, different entities, such as One In Ten and Whitman-Walker Clinic, have been Capital Pride caretakers, ushering this celebration of the D.C. area's LGBT community toward the future.
Today, you could say that Capital Pride has come full circle back to its grassroots, with 2009 marking the first year that the week of celebration has fallen under the guidance of the Capital Pride Alliance, a coalition of various organizations and individuals representing a wide cross-section of the community. Underscoring the new sense of community ownership are the Community Partners. Helping to transition the monumental undertaking of Capital Pride to its new caretakers, Community Partners first became a component of the event in 2007. Where there were 14 partners in 2007, there are 20 for 2009.
Brother Help Thyself, founded in 1978 by four gay motorcycle clubs, is a freshman addition to the Community Partner lineup for 2009. This organization has worked to raise funds not for any particular aim of its own, but to offer grants and donated goods and services to other organizations in the community. BHT President JoAnn Kokindo estimates that in just the last year alone, her organization handed out about $90,000 for other groups to keep doing their good work.
While you're sure to spot BHT in this year's parade, or at their booth at the festival, another great way to know the group better is at their annual King's Dominion Gay and Lesbian Night in September. Other times, you'll find BHT at 1111 14th St. NW, Suite 350. Call them at 202-347-2246, or visit them online at www.brotherhelpthyself.org.
The Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CACLCC) is also new this year. Think of their new partnership as a coming-out party for the group's new identity. Working for decades as the Potomac Executive Network, the new name also comes with the group's new president, Ken White, who succeeded Joe Kapp in April.
Look for them to be advocating, promoting and facilitating the success of LGBT business and their allies in the region. With the diverse LGBT community well-recognized as a key driver in a thriving metro-D.C. economy, the group is helping to bring prosperity to the entire region. For more about CAGLCC, visit them online at www.caglcc.org or e-mail the group at email@example.com.
Returning for a second year of community partnership are the D.C.-area Metropolitan Community Churches. Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) have continually offered a home to all who have been discarded by traditional mainstream churches, especially gay and lesbian people, bisexuals, and the transgendered, intersexed and questioning. With over 300 churches worldwide, in over 20 countries, MCC is also on the forefront of working for social justice in solidarity with all the marginalized and oppressed.
In the metro area, there are eight MCC churches. In Maryland, there are churches in Boyds, Chesapeake, College Park, Hagerstown and Laurel. In Virginia, there are churches in Fairfax and Fredericksburg. The eighth is in the District's Shaw neighborhood. To find an MCC church near you, visit www.MCCChurch.org.
The DC Center, "home for GLBT in metro D.C.," along with its Crystal Meth Working Group program, return as a single Community Partner. While working to celebrate, strengthen and support community among LGBT residents and organizations in the area, fighting crystal-meth addiction has been one of the The DC Center's most important programs.
Aside from the Crystal Meth Working Group, The DC Center manages eight other programs, from DC for Marriage, focusing efforts to make marriage equality a reality in the District, to Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, re-formed to counter brutal -- sometimes deadly -- attacks in recent months against members of the LGBT community.
To learn more about The DC Center, to support it or participate in any of the programs, visit The DC Center online at www.thedccenter.org, or call 202-682-2245.
While this will be the first year that D.C.'s Different Drummers will work with Capital Pride as a Community Partner, the group has been a mainstay of the parade for years. So renowned are D.C.'s Different Drummers that they made history in January when some members marched as an LGBT contingent in the Inaugural Parade for President Barack Obama.
Aside from the marching band, as the metropolitan area's LGBT music organization now in its 29th year, D.C. Different Drummers is comprised of the Capitol Pride Symphonic Band, DC Swing! big band, Pep Band and several small ensembles. Find out more about D.C. Different Drummers by visiting them online at www.dcdd.org, calling 202-269-4868, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helping to present so much of the city's diversity to a wider audience, Destination DC serves as the lead organization to successfully market Washington as a premier global convention, tourism and special-events destination, with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historical communities. Destination DC underscores its cultural concentration, joining as Community Partner for 2009.
As Destination DC itself points out in its promotional materials, "D.C. was one of the first U.S. cities to actively pursue the GLBT travel market with a dedicated visitors guide, Web site and marketing campaign." To learn more visit www.destinationdc.org, or call 202-789-7000.
Dignity/Washington is a community of LGBT Catholics, other Christians, and their friends and allies. Having been a Community Partner of Capital Pride since the program began in 2007, members of Dignity/Washington obviously understand the meaning of community. They celebrate that understanding every Sunday evening when they gather to celebrate Mass at St. Margaret's Church near Dupont Circle. Dignity/Washington members also come together to celebrate community with a range of events such as movie nights at the Dignity Center, 721 Eighth St. SE on the first and third Mondays of each month, bridge and book clubs, pastoral care and holy unions.
Dignity/Washington offers an information line, 202-546-2235, for callers to hear a schedule of Masses, to learn of social events and educational programs. Or visit www.dignitywashington.org.
The Episcopal Diocese of Washington becomes a Community Partner starting this year, but continuing the local diocese's support of the LGBT community. Spanning the District and four Maryland counties -- Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's and Saint Mary's -- this diocese of 95 congregations and more than 60,000 congregants includes more than dozen openly gay clergy.
Visit the Diocese online at www.edow.org, or call the Episcopal Church House in D.C. at 202-537-6555.
While some groups feed people's souls, Food & Friends has been feeding bellies since 1988. Returning for a second year as a Community Partner, Food & Friends delivers not only food -- crossing the 12 millionth-meal mark any second -- but support and outreach to clients across a vast region that stretches beyond the District seven counties in Maryland and seven counties and six independent cities in Virginia, all from a home base in Northeast D.C.
To add your fuel to the Food & Friends fire, visit the organization online at www.foodandfriends.org, or contact volunteer services at 202-269-6824 or via e-mail at email@example.com. For other information, call the main line at 202-269-2277 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, founded in 1981, made history during this year's Inauguration celebrations, singing from the Lincoln Memorial. As talented as this hometown crew may be, they know they are first and foremost a part of this community, returning for a third year to participate as a Capital Pride Community Partner.
The GMCW will be giving more than partnership to this year's Capital Pride, with a kick-off Pride show June 6 and 7, to include the East Coast premiere of through a glass, darkly at Lisner Auditorium. This edgy theater piece wrestles with crystal meth addiction in the gay community. For more information about the GMCW or for tickets, visit them at www.gmcw.org or call 202-293-1548.
Established in 1976, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club is a founding chapter of the National Stonewall Democrats. The Club maintains active members in each of the District's eight wards and is on the leading edge of the marriage-equality fight in D.C.
"This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that ushered in the modern LGBT-rights movement," says Tim Mohoney, the club's vice president for legislation and political affairs. "As the oldest LGBT Democratic political organization in the District, we wanted to be part of that celebration."
The GLBT Arts Consortium, long a part of Capital Pride, joins the Community Partners this year to further the purpose of this voluntary collaboration of varied D.C.-area arts organizations: to raise the visibility of the LGBT community's arts. Also as part of that mission, the GLBT Arts Consortium is promoting a special Pride offering, Songs and Steps of Pride. This special performance at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop features the Tommy Parlon Dance Project, Not What You Think, CHAWbaret singers and dance lessons with John Aaron Blanchette. For more information or for tickets to this special Pride performance, call 202-547-6839.
GLOE -- the Stuart S. Kurlander Program for Gay & Lesbian Outreach and Engagement at the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center -- has been upping its game this year with new offerings such as same-sex speed dating. It's no wonder GLOE returns for a second year as a Community Partner, even offering a special Pride-season show June 6: the infamous Kinsey Sicks.
The Program's vision is to create a destination where gay and lesbian Jews and their friends, families, partners and other supporters feel comfortable exploring programming and events developed for a wide and diverse audience.
"GLOE provides a venue for LGBT Jews, non Jews, allies -- everyone," says program director Justin Lerner.
Look for big GLOE contingent in the Capital Pride Parade, or visit them virtually at washingtondcjcc.org/social-networks/gloe, or call 202-777-3253.
Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens, nestled alongside Rock Creek Park in Northwest D.C., has long provided one of the most beautiful settings for LGBT events in the District, such as Gay Day in September (Sept. 26, 2009) and Divas Outdoors (June 12, 2009) film series with One In Ten.
The grand mansion, breathtaking gardens and exquisite art collection offer something special for every season. Extending the hospitality of its founder, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Hillwood is committed to being an engaging and welcoming respite for all.
With the assistance of an LGBT advisory committee, Hillwood has been supporting and celebrating the LGBT community since 2000, including joining Capital Pride as a community partner in 2008. For more on what Hillwood has to offer, visit www.hillwoodmuseum.org or call 202-686-5807.
While the Human Rights Campaign works to advance LGBT equality across the national landscape, the country's largest LGBT civil-rights organization, HRC also recognizes its headquarters' home, joining Capital Pride for a third year as a Community Partner.
Here in Washington, HRC does double duty with an eye on for push toward marriage equality in the District, while also moving among members of Congress to push a national agenda, including the recent "Clergy Call for Justice" that brought more than 300 clergy members from all 50 states to lobby Congress on LGBT equality.
Apart from HRC's headquarters at 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW, which routinely offers space for local community forums, HRC also maintains one of its three Action Center/Stores in the District, just north of Dupont Circle. For more on HRC's vast undertakings during this politically exciting time or to get involved, visit www.hrc.org or call 202-628-4160.
Working within the Republican Party to advocate equal rights for all Americans, Log Cabin Republicans are also working within Capital Pride as Community Partners.
"We have made a very concerted effort in the last year to get more heavily involved in the community," says Chris Scalise, president of the D.C. chapter of LCR, and joined by both the Virginia LCR chapter and the D.C. Republican Committee in that effort. "Becoming a community partner is a way to express that commitment."
For more about the D.C. chapter, visit www.logcabing.org/logcabingdc or send e-mail to email@example.com with "LCR/DC" in the subject line. Visit the Virginia chapter at www.viginialogcabin.org, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 703-655-7445.
Though she's called D.C. home for many years, Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has her eye on the entirety of the country right now, keeping the 36-year-old organization on track to advance LGBT equality.
''We should truly celebrate our pride as a community this year," says Carey. "LGBT people and our straight allies are more energized than ever to win equality in towns, cities and states across the country and to push the federal government to honor our lives, our dignity and our contributions to society."
Join them by visiting www.thetaskforce.org or calling 202-393-5177.
As the community works for a better future, the D.C.-based National Trust for Historic Preservation makes it clear that it will help the LGBT community remember its history, too, joining this year as a Capital Pride Community Partner. Working to uncover and safeguard LGBT history, the National Trust is also committed to exploring the role LGBT people play in revitalizing neighborhoods and preserving history.
In June, the National Trust for Historic Preservation will also launch an LGBT-specific component on its Web site, www.preservationnation.org. For more information, you can also call the private, nonprofit organization directly at 202-588-6000.
METRO D.C. PFLAG -- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays -- is a perennial favorite at Capital Pride, eliciting some of the loudest cheers as the march along the Capital Pride Parade route, return for a third year of serving as a Community Partner.
As one of the largest and strongest chapters in this now global network of support, Metro D.C. PFLAG has been supporting the LGBT community for more than 20 years.
Listen for the cheers to make it easy to spot the Metro D.C. PFLAG contingent during the parade, visit the group's festival booth for some genuinely loving support, or visit the group online for more information at www.pflagdc.org. Call them at 202-638-3852.
Joining as a Community Partner for the first time this year, don't expect Team DC to disappear after the last of Capital Pride 2009 winds down. This team is just getting warmed up.
With a new scholarship program, the largest LGBT event in Major League Baseball -- "Night OUT at the Nationals" -- and all the other activities that come from serving as the umbrella organization for the regions' 24 LGBT sports clubs, Team DC is energized. Team DC also heads into the final lap of its bid to make D.C. the host city of the 2014 Gay Games, turning to the entire to clinch a win. Learn more about the bid at www.dcfreedomgames2014.org. Learn more about Team DC at www.teamdc.org.