The old-school axiom told us that behind every great man, there is a great woman. Let's brush that off to get with the times, because in the case of May Sifuentes and Stephanie Ayers, behind one great committee chair, there is her great sub-committee chair and partner.
Sifuentes is the first-time chair of Capital Pride's 2011 Education & Cultural Events committee. Ayers, her partner, heads the women's events subcommittee. And they – along with all the committee members they serve with – have certainly had their work cut out for them. After all, Education & Cultural Events is responsible for huge Capital Pride components: The Heroes Gala & Silent Auction, Mr. & Miss Capital Pride, the Town Hall and the Women's Spoken Word. It's a challenging roster, particularly in that Sifuentes and Ayers are new to Washington, both having moved to D.C. a few months ago from Boston.
''Essentially, I moved to D.C. in December and started working with Capital Pride in January,'' Sifuentes explains. ''Whenever I move to a new city, I try to find my group. As soon as I moved here, unpacked my books and boxes, I started looking for my community, the queer community. Capital Pride was one of the organizations that really stood out to me. I went to the initial meeting and met a lot of great folks, people really passionate about the queer community – as passionate as I am.''
That introduction was essentially the same for Ayers, as is a dedication to diversity, evident as both women speak passionately about ensuring that their committee represents all aspects of the LGBT community.
''Our focus has really been trying to be all-inclusive of the queer community,'' Ayers says of the committee. ''We want to make sure everyone has a space.''
And although Ayers likely has some bias when describing her partner's job as committee chair – at least, she'd better – she also has intimate insight into Sifuentes's passion.
''I think she's done an excellent job, coming into this job without many connections to the D.C. area, reaching out to strangers,'' says Ayers. ''It takes a lot of connections, just knowing people and where to get things. It definitely has been a lot for one person to handle.''
Sifuentes concurs, though certainly not with any hint of self-pity. Instead, she's eager for more.
''Being a newbie has provided me with a lot of headaches,'' she admits. ''But now I know better. Maybe this was my trial year, but I'm definitely being guided by Capital Pride. Next year, I expect everything to go smoother – bigger committee, bigger events.''
While there certainly have been headaches – the loaned copy of a documentary film arrived damaged, canceling a planned screening, for example – everything coming together in the last days before showtime seems to have both women genuinely excited about Capital Pride, particularly the Thursday, June 2, Town Hall, exploring ''Spirituality in the Queer Community.''
''We're showing a movie, Fish Out of Water,'' Ayers says of that Town Hall event and the documentary exploring spirituality, sexuality and the Bible, being held at Hotel Palomar. ''I'm looking forward to hearing people's thoughts and having a lively debate.''
The committee's most challenging event, however, may be the Heroes gala, completely re-tooled for 2011.
''We've combined the Heroes reception and the silent auction into a gala at the House of Sweden,'' explains Capital Pride Vice President Bernie Delia, pointing out that the House of Sweden complex on the Georgetown riverfront is also a new venue for Capital Pride. ''We've tried to make this an extraordinarily nice affair.''
Ayers is eager to attend the gala and see the fruits of the committee's labors, but she's also eager about the arrival of Capital Pride in that it's a chance to finally get beyond her own committee.
''I'm so excited to see what the other Capital Pride members have been doing,'' she says. ''It sounds exciting, but I want to see it in person. I definitely want to go to as many events as possible.''
Sifuentes, meanwhile, has her eyes on 2012 and continuing to find firm D.C. footing from which to continue her mission of diversity and inclusion and making Capital Pride even better.
''When I moved to D.C., I really had this history of wanting to help people,'' she says. ''Women of color, marginalized people, sometimes get left out. If you're a woman, a man, or identify differently, you have experiences that are shared and experiences that are unique. We're trying to get together those people who have something to say. Connection is very important to me.''
Click here for a complete schedule of Capital Pride events.
Parade - Sat, June 11
Festival - Sun June 12