“The Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs attends over 30 events during Pride season,” says Sheila Alexander-Reid, the director of the office. “In addition to the seven Prides that occur in D.C., many federal agencies and local organizations have their own Pride events, and want us to attend. So, last year, we decided the mayor’s office should have its own Pride event, something that would bring all those groups and the entire LGBTQ community together in one place.”
That celebration, “District of Pride,” also serves as a showcase of local D.C. talent. Organizers go out of their way to recruit cutting-edge local LGBTQ singers, musicians, and performance artists for the three-hour event, headlined this year by vocalist Be Steadwell. Other performers scheduled to appear include the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Batala, Carlita Caliente, Venus Thrash, Anthony Oakes, Morgan Givens, Xemiyulu Manibusan Tapepechul, Majic Dyke and Vagenesis, Tezrah, and Geneva Confection. Local emcee Rayceen Pendarvis will make a special appearance.
“The event really started out as a way to reach out to millennials,” says Alexander-Reid. “Most of the Pride events are run by seasoned LGBTQ activists and advocates. When we looked at the audience we were reaching as an office, we realized we needed to do more outreach to the millennial LGBTQ community, and District of Pride was our first foray into that.”
While District of Pride is curated by local LGBTQ millennials, the variety of talent — everything from vocalists to comedians to drag queens and kings — draws an all-ages audience, although some of the content is more adult-oriented. It’s open to everyone and admission is free, though attendees are encouraged to RSVP beforehand by booking a ticket through Eventbrite.
“I really like the fact that the mayor wanted us to prioritize this,” says Alexander-Reid. “At last year’s event, I came on stage at the end, and it was such an incredible, empowering feeling. Every segment of the community was there, and it was a ‘wrap your arms around each other’ atmosphere.
“This was something the community needed and had really longed for. D.C. can be very compartmentalized, and this was something that broke down barriers, broke down walls. It was a community uplifting, a session of support and love. And the show has such diverse talent that there’s something that appeals to everyone. This is the one place where you can have it all under one roof and free of charge.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s second annual “District of Pride” is on Saturday, June 22, from 7-10 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Admission is free. To reserve a space, register by visiting www.eventbrite.com. For more information, visit lgbtq.dc.gov.