Metro Weekly

Capital Pride’s 2023 Theme Is an Urgent Call to Get Loud

"Amen to 'Peace, Love, Revolution,'" writes our columnist Will O'Bryan, "and amen to being a joyful warrior in the battle to come."

Capital Pride 2022 – Photo: Ted Eytan/Capital Pride

Earlier this month, D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance announced the theme for its annual mid-June LGBTQ pride celebration. “Peace, Love, Revolution.” It’s a very good theme, absolutely appropriate to the times. Particularly the revolution part.

“Recent challenges have arisen in state houses and in Congress where the LGBTQ+ community once again finds itself under fire from those who would deny us our basic civil rights,” the announcement reads. “But our fight for freedom continues and will require direct action in the streets and the halls of government. To continue sustainable, positive change and create a more inclusive nation and progressive world, we must recommit ourselves to the foundations of our movement.”

Amen to that.

Capital Pride’s website, likely unintentionally, perfectly and painfully illustrated the gripping need to tap into our movement’s louder, requisitely defiant days. The page listing the news of the 2023 theme sat squarely between headline-links to two other news releases.

On the left: “The Capital Pride Alliance Condemns Newly Enacted Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation by the Ugandan Parliament.”

Uganda has a notorious history with anti-LGBTQ legislation. Here we need to give a special shout out to American evangelical missionaries who found plenty of willing Ugandan allies in their promotion of anti-queer bigotry. This new legislation makes simply identifying as any part of our pride rainbow punishable by up to 20 years in prison. As of this writing, it’s not yet been signed into law. The only thing that will stop it is outside pressure.

The headline sitting to the right is closer to home: “CPA Condemns Tennessee Bill that Bans Drag Performances.”

“‘Adult cabaret performance’ means a performance in a location other than an adult cabaret that features topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar entertainers, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration,” reads Tennessee Senate Bill 3/House Bill 9.

That’s an awful lot of wiggle room to oppress. Does “topless” apply to men? What’s “exotic”? What’s “prurient,” exactly? “Similar entertainers”? That’s some heavy-handed, nebulous, authoritarian bullshit from legislators who are supposed to be working for the common good, who would maddeningly espouse “freedom” in the same foul breath.

Maybe you’re not Ugandan. Maybe you’re not a drag queen. Maybe you don’t care. But you certainly should.

This is all indicative of a mood and a movement that is gaining steam when it should be dying out. Maybe it’s a last gasp. We can certainly hope so, but the future is uncertain. Remember your mood on Election Day 2016, versus the day after? We have no idea where our world is heading.

What we do know is that the Uganda and Tennessee efforts are far from alone. Take a look at the Trans Legislation Tracker. Though, can we all first acknowledge how upsetting it is that such a thing even has reason to exist?

The “2023 anti-trans bills tracker” tallies 490 bills in 47 states. The good news is that 44 have failed! But 23 have passed. Leaving 423 active bills! Granted, there are bright spots, with states such as Maryland and New Mexico pushing back in an affirming, righteous direction.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” At the moment, it’s in desperate need of a push. When, for example, will the tens of thousands in Tiananmen Square in 1989 see justice? What about Trayvon Martin? You weren’t fighting for freedom in Tiananmen Square? You didn’t know Trayvon?

Again, it’s all the same. No wonder the right wing’s new boogeyman phrase — coming right after “woke,” “Critical Race Theory,” and “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” — is “intersectional.”

The phrase is credited to legal scholar and rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw who, in 1989, developed “intersectional theory.” Rather than some exotic, academic bit of esoterica, intersectionality is today simply what everyone should see as obvious truth: Struggles have commonality and we are stronger together. To deny that, you’ve either got to be willfully ignorant or benefiting from keeping movements separate. There’s a reason the cliché “divide and conquer” stuck.

That’s why we all need to be at Capital Pride this year. Taking photos and “Reels” and making “Stories” and doing our very best to be influencers just as far as we can reach. Come Sunday, June 11, we’ll be doing it at the Capital Pride Festival. On Pennsylvania Avenue. In the shadow of the U.S. Capitol. The world needs new images of our Capitol, with the anti-democratic — and anti-queer, frankly — attack on it still center stage.

We will have the spotlight. We need to show the world what happiness and joy and freedom truly look like. Sure, we’ll have a bigger spotlight in 2025 with World Pride, but we have no time to waste. We need to go big now.

When it comes to the “peace and love” legs of the 2023 theme, I am reminded of our kickass, barrier-busting Vice President Kamala Harris. Near the end of her memoir, The Truths We Hold, I believe she found a way to add the “peace and love” to the fight.

“My daily challenge to myself is to be part of the solution,” Harris wrote, “to be a joyful warrior in the battle to come.”

Amen again. Amen to “Peace, Love, Revolution,” and amen to being a joyful warrior in the battle to come.

Will O’Bryan is a former Metro Weekly managing editor, living in D.C. with his husband. He is online at

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