Metro Weekly

Capital Pride Alliance names Pride Honors award recipients

Annual awards honor individuals making contributions to the local LGBTQ community, with special emphasis on social justice and COVID-19 activism.

Recipients of the Capital Pride Honors, including winners of the Capital Pride Hero Awards and the Engendered Spirits Awards – Photos by Ward Morrison.

The Capital Pride Alliance has released the names of awardees who will be honored at the 2021 Capital Pride Honors, set to take place on Friday, June 11 from 7-10 p.m. at Compass Coffee’s Ivy City location.

Each year, the Capital Pride Alliance honors a slate of LGBTQ individuals and organizations that have made major contributions to the welfare of D.C.’s LGBTQ community. It hands out three separate awards for various accomplishments, with this year’s awards emphasizing contributions that have specifically benefitted social justice and equality movements, or have been instrumental in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization also bestows two awards recognizing contributions to the celebration of Capital Pride, and two President’s Awards recognizing special contributions to the LGBTQ community and Pride.

The first award, #StillWe Advocate, recognizes and celebrates advocates and activists who have made contributions to racial or social justice movements. The honorees are: Josh Clisham-Feng, a college and career counselor at Wakefield High School in Arlington who has advocated on behalf of and created a safe space for LGBTQ students and staff members, as well as Black and Latinx students and immigrant and DREAMer students at his school; and Nicholas Hatcher, a communications strategist and principal of Triple Threat Strategies, a consulting agency for advocacy groups.  Hatcher’s work has focused on building intergenerational and multiracial coalitions, storytelling as advocacy, and centering queer and disabled experiences in design. Hatcher has also made contributions to the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, serving on the board of directors of the East Coast Asian American Student Union, and as political chair for API Queers United for Action DC.

Earning the #StillWe Inspire award, given to those who have motivates and inspired community members to support people and organizations in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, are: the Angel Rose Collective, a multilingual two-spirit-led collective of artists, healers, educators, and advocates, which has produced virtual theater productions uplifting the stories of two-spirit and BIPOC communities, and has partnered with a team of Nawat-speaking elders in El Salvador to open up a Nawat lanaguage and culture school for the transgender community and its allies; and the DC Medical Reserve Corps, which has supported the DC Department of Health during the recent pandemic by recruiting, training, and deploying medical and non-medical volunteers to conduct testing, outreach, and provide support services to people with possible cases of COVID-19.

Earning the #StillWe THRIVE award, given to individuals or businesses who have been instrumental in responding to the pandemic and helping others thrive in spite of hardships stemming from the pandemic, will be awarded to Tara Chelston, the LBGTQ and Sexual Health Program Specialist for the District of Columbia Public Schools; and Darren Paul Vance, the executive director of Rainbow Families. 

Related: Capital Pride Alliance now accepting nominations for Capital Pride Honors

In her role with DCPS, Chelston facilitates competency trainings, designs and distributes informational resources, and manages LGBTQ-specific community outreach and engagement to ensure schools are providing an inclusive environment for LGBTQ students. 

Vance, who is raising a teenage son with his husband, John, became executive director of Rainbow Families in 2018. He has also previously served as a board member and development director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. He was the Speakers Bureau Director for Love Is Feeding Everyone, and worked with Project Angel Food. At Rainbow Families, he continues to strive for empowering and supporting LGBTQ-led families.

Receiving the Larry Stansbury award for “exemplary contributions” to Pride is The DC Center, which provides programs for the local LGBTQ community focused on health and wellness, arts and culture, social and peer support, and advocacy and community building. The DC Center has long been one of Capital Pride’s strategic partners, collaborating on programming, sharing office space, and helping to educate, empower, and celebrate the local LGBTQ community and its allies.

Attendees at the 2016 Capital Pride Heroes Gala — Photo by Ward Morrison

Capital Pride Alliance President Ashley Smith will present two awards, one of which will honor Mary Paradise, a registered nurse and longtime Capital Pride volunteer who has served on the board of directors, has managed the Mr./Ms. Capital Pride pageant and served as health and safety monitor at the Pride Parade and Festival over a 13-year span.

Also being honored is Sheila Alexander-Reid, the director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, former radio host, and former Executive Director of the Women in the Life Association, who is being honored for her advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community, including her push for cultural competency training in District government, and her efforts to find housing for homeless LGBTQ youth and create alternative employment opportunities for transgender sex workers.

Sheila Alexander-Reid — Photo by Todd Franson

Robert York, a member of the Capital Pride Awards and Recognition Committee, said that award recipients were chosen based on names submitted by community members in response to a call for nominations from the Capital Pride Alliance.

York told Metro Weekly in a brief interview that the committee felt “strongly” about honoring people this year who made significant contributions to social justice movements or in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic due to the outsized presence that both have played in people’s lives over the past year.

“Based on the nominations that came in from the community, we are honoring individuals who have really pushed through the pandemic, with the depth of work they’ve been doing to help people thrive, to advocate, and to inspire,” York said. “We felt like, even though we’re not able to have a typical Pride celebration, we wanted to honor that tradition and recognize outstanding individuals or organizations in our community.”

Following the Capital Pride Honors will be the “Be Colorful” Capital Pride Opening Party, from 10 p.m.-2 a.m., featuring music from DJ Chord Bezerra.

The Capital Pride Honors, presented by Compass Coffee, Accenture, Nissan, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Heineken, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Occasions Caterers, InStyle Caterers, and Georgetown Cupcake, will take place from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, June 11, at Compass Coffee’s Ivy City location, at 1401 Okie St. NE. For more details, visit www.capitalpride.org.

See also:

Capital Pride unveils a host of colorful, vibrant June events

DC Black Pride holds virtual Unity Ball as part of “12 Months of Black Pride”

D.C. LGBTQ bars are enthusiastic about reopening

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