Metro Weekly

Inaugural Rainbow Ride will provide a tour highlighting Washington’s LGBTQ history

Proceeds from the event will benefit HIPS, D.C.'s local harm reduction service provider serving the LGBTQ and sex worker communities

Scooters – Photo: Vince Jacob, via Unsplash.

On Saturday, a coalition of groups will host the inaugural Rainbow Ride, a bicycle and scooter tour following a designated route that commemorates and celebrates queer liberation history in the district.

The event, which starts at 1 p.m., is co-sponsored by the ANC Rainbow Caucus, the nonprofit group Greater Greater Washington, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the electric scooter and bike rental company Lime. Proceeds raised from the event will directly benefit HIPS, the D.C.-area harm reduction and advocacy organization, which provides support services to members of the LGBTQ, sex worker, and drug user communities.

The route, which is about 10 miles long, paves its way through various wards in D.C., passing important landmarks that help tell a story about the history of the District’s LGBTQ and Black communities. Riders are encouraged to dress appropriately and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the tour.

Bicycles and scooters will be provided primarily by Lime, although Capital Share will have its rainbow bikes available for use during the tour. Prior to kickoff at 1 p.m., there will be a DJ and musical entertainment, as well as tables touting local organization. Organizers estimate the tour group could increase in size to about 50-75 people by Saturday. 

The cost to participate is technically free, although donations to HIPS are highly encouraged.

“We’ll be starting at Anacostia Park in Ward 8, and then we’ll be crossing the 11th Street Bridge and then going into Southeast to talk about the displacement of LGBTQ and queer spaces there,” notes Japer Bowles, the chair of the ANC Rainbow Caucus. “Then we’re going to go into Barracks Row, swing by the Supreme Court, and ride all the way up to Malcolm X Park to talk about the over-policing of cruising spots, then down 17th Street to talk about all the local activism and the new spaces that we have for queer folks. We’ll be ending a Freedom Plaza, which will join up with HIPS’ anti-poverty campaign that they’re holding at 4 p.m.”

See also: 17th Street Pride Sidewalk Block Party to be held on Saturday, June 26

Bowles says organizers have partnered with D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen for a pit stop in Ward 6, and are hoping to arrange one in Ward 1 with D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau. 

“It’s probably going to take about two hours or so to bike the full ten miles,” notes Bowles.

To prepare for the Rainbow Ride, organizers began putting up LGBTQ history ride signs throughout the District and along the route for others who may not be able to attend the ride on Saturday, but can do the tour on their own time.

“We hope the people can continue to do the route, and, in the process, learn about the history that we have in DC related to queer advocacy,” says Bowles.

The inaugural Rainbow Ride will take kick off from Anacostia Park starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 26. To register, or for more information, visit www.wonkpolicy.com/rainbowride2021.

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