Metro Weekly

Capital Pride cancels 2021 parade and festival

Organizations blames COVID-19, hopes for smaller block party in the fall

capital pride, parade, festival
Capital Pride Parade — Photo: Randy Shulman

For the second year in a row, Capital Pride will forego a traditional Pride parade, festival and concert this June, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the scarcity of vaccines to protect against the deadly coronavirus.

Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes the yearly celebration, made the announcement in a news release, expressing hope that a more efficient vaccine rollout might make it possible to hold in-person events sometime around October.

“Our hope is that come fall, we will be able to do something,” Ryan Bos, the executive director of Capital Pride Alliance, told Metro Weekly in an interview. “We’ll obviously still be in some sort of transition, so it will not be a typical Pride event, but perhaps something like a smaller block party. We are actually in the process of beginning to put some plans in place so that if we in a sense get the green light, we’re able to move quickly. At the same time, we’re going to be beginning to organize the 2022 celebration, so that, if all things go well, it could be one of the biggest years for Capital Pride.”

Bos says that, in lieu of traditional celebrations like a parade or festival, Capital Pride will have to get creative and think up ways to provide special exhibiting opportunities, unique programs or events, especially in the outdoors or away from closed spaces, and an alternative to a traditional Pride parade, as it attempted to do with its Pridemobile, a caravan that traveled through different neighborhoods to specific checkpoints as part of a pre-determined route, this past summer. 

Events will attempt to encourage social distancing to avoid the spread of the virus, and may include virtual gatherings. Beginning in February and continuing through the rest of the year, Capital Pride Alliance intends to continue its Pride Talks series, discussing issues of importance to the LGBTQ community, and will release additional episodes the web series “Pride in the City,” which received a great deal of positive feedback last year. The organization also plans to launch the first-ever Pride Summit #StillWeLead, sometime at the end of February. Details are forthcoming.

Organizers hope to collaborate with community members in advance of the 2022 Pride celebration, as well as look further down the road to 2025, which will mark the 50th anniversary celebration of Capital Pride festivities in D.C.

See also: Capital Pride to host “Out Brigade,” a socially distant Pride parade

As part of that collaboration, the organization has reached out to business owners to discuss ways to better support them during these difficult times, and is circulating an economic impact survey to past attendees in the hope of examining how hosting large-scale celebrations like Pride each year financially impacts the District’s economy and small business community.

“We’re trying to get statistics that will validate not only what our community as a whole, but specifically Pride weekend here in D.C. has in terms of the positive economic impact it brings to the city, local businesses,” Bos told Metro Weekly. “The cost to produce the celebration every year increases, and we are looking for those economic impact numbers to help negotiate with the city, and also to get additional sponsorships, so we can continue to provide this event for the community.”

To help support local food service establishments, Capital Pride will host an ongoing “Taste of Pride” celebration that will highlight various restaurants, with a special emphasis on those that are LGBTQ-owned and -operated.

“We will also be encouraging the entire city to deck out their homes and businesses [with Pride decorations] for what we call the ‘Rainbow Blast,’ making sure we can be visible throughout the area and throughout Pride month,” Bos said.

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