On Thursday, Mayor Muriel Bowser kicked off Pride month in Washington, D.C. by raising an LGBTQ Pride flag above the John A. Wilson Building.
This marks the first time an LGBTQ Pride flag has been flown outside the historic government building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, which houses the mayor’s office and the offices and chambers of the District’s other elected officials.
The flag flying above the building is also known as the “Progress Pride flag,” a newer adaptation of the traditional Pride flag.
It includes the traditional rainbow stripes from the modern-day six-stripe Pride flag, with additional black and brown stripes to highlight racial minorities in the LGBTQ community, a light blue, white, and pink triangle, representing the transgender community, and a purple circle on yellow background, representing the intersex community.
At the flag-raising ceremony, Bowser spoke about how important it is to lead a unified and inclusive city.
“Today marks the start of Pride Month, but in D.C. we celebrate our LGBTQIA+ community 365 days a year,” the mayor said. “I am proud to be here today to celebrate our D.C. values and to send a message to D.C. residents and everyone who visits Washington, D.C. that we are an inclusive city, we are a city that loves and values the LGBTQ+ community, and we are a city that knows we are stronger when we stand together and when we celebrate together.”
The Mayor also invited city residents and visitors to attend the 48th annual Capital Pride Parade and Capital Pride Festival later this month.
The parade is set for Saturday, June 10, with thousands of participants trekking on foot or via vehicle along a 1.5-mile path that weaves through the city’s Logan and Dupont Circle neighborhoods.
The festival is on Sunday, June 11, along a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue NW, in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol Building, and will include three separate stages showcasing various acts, including musical headliners performing as part of the Capital Pride Concert, as well as food, drinks, and over 300 exhibitors representing local community groups, sports leagues, and other organizations.
In addition to the flag-raising ceremony, the District government will mark Pride Month by lighting up the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in rainbow colors on the nights of June 1, 10, and 11.
Washington has the highest percentage of LGBTQ residents in America, with nearly 10% of the city’s population identifying as such, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute.
D.C. also has a long history of being at the forefront of LGBTQ activism.
In 1973, the District voted to establish the D.C. Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 2009, the District was one of the first places in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
Japer Bowles, the director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, spoke at the ceremony about the importance of standing together with the LGBTQ community.
“To say that DC is just LGBTQIA+-friendly is an understatement. We support our trans youth, we celebrate the art of drag, and we will continue to lead the nation in LGBTQIA+ resources,” Bowles said.
The Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs has invested nearly $1,000,000 in community development and in promoting LGBTQIA+ cultural competency training for government agencies.
The office has also helped to search for a permanent home for The DC Center, the city’s top LGBTQIA+ community center, fund counseling services for LGBTQ residents impacted by intimate partner violence, provide housing vouchers for at-risk LGBTQ community members, and establish the first low-barrier shelter devoted to supporting residents experiencing homelessness who identify as LGBTQ.
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