The Capital Pride Alliance kicked off its annual weekend of Pride celebrations with the Capital Pride Heroes Gala, honoring people who have made significant contributions benefitting the larger LGBTQ community.
“Our theme this year is about the ‘Elements of Us,’ and we’re going to continue to celebrate the elements of us as we continue through this weekend, and the rest of this month,” Capital Pride Alliance Board of Directors President Ashley Smith told a crowd of about 100 people gathered on the multi-layered roof deck of 880 P, a local condominium.
“We’re really excited to kick off this year’s Pride. We have a couple of surprises,” added Smith. “I know people are saying, ‘Oh, it’s supposed to rain.’ but we’re going to to be out here, rain, sleet, snow, or shine, because we are a great community!”
Earning Pride Heroes awards were Gregory Cendana, the president and co-founder of Can’t Stop! Won’ Stop!, a consulting firm that works on progressive solutions to political issues important to people of color, Jesse Garcia, an Obama appointee to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration of Children and Families who has advocated on behalf of LGBTQ rights and immigration reform.
Others being honored include Patrick Grady, a former Mr. Double L Leather and member of the Centaur Motorcycle Club who has been involved in leading Scarlett’s Bake Sale and other charitable events; Jorge Hernandez, a female impersonator and club promotor also known as Sylvanna Duvel, who held the title of Miss Centro America, and has been involved with Youth Pride, LULAC and the Latino History Project; and Samantha Master, a writer, organizer, and co-organizer of the DMV Black Mama’s Day Bail Out.
Earning Engendered Spirit awards for their work on behalf of the transgender and gender non-binary communities were Karen Kendra Holmes and Linda Roberts. Pixie Windsor of Miss Pixie’s boutique was awarded the Larry Stansbury Award for exemplary contributions to Pride, while Bianca Humady Rey, the producer of Capital Trans Pride, was honored with the Bill Miles Award for outstanding contributions to the execution and celebration of Pride in the nation’s capital.
Ryan Bos, the executive director of Capital Pride, said he was looking forward to the weekend’s celebration. Alluding to some of the criticism that Capital Pride has received for everything from accepting corporate sponsorships to the diversity of its board, Bos said that people need to be respectful of the diversity of thought and opinion surrounding Pride.
Bos also said it was okay for people to object to the way Pride is run or the nature of some of its events, but detractors need to be able to acknowledge and respect that others may disagree with them or want participate in particular events.
Rachel Gleischman, a board member of Capital Pride Alliance, urged attendees to take pride in living in an LGBTQ-affirming city like D.C., where they can enjoy opportunities that other LGBTQ people may not have available to them. She recounted how she had gone online looking for a meme for Pride, only to find disparaging memes or vitriolic comments by people with anti-gay views.
“What makes them so hate-filled? It’s our joy. That’s what they’re afraid of,” Gleischman said. “Because when you’re joyful, it means you feel safe, it means you feel comfortable, it means you don’t feel on the margins of life. I am really proud to be a board member of Capital Pride because we are an organization that creates space for joy in this community. I love living in D.C., because people who live in D.C. are engaged and fundamentally care. It’s awesome to live in a place like that.”