Metro Weekly

D.C. Leaders Raise Progress Pride Flag Over Wilson Building

Elected and community leaders rallied at the Wilson Building for a flag-raising ceremony kicking off this year's Pride festivities in D.C.

Mayor Bowser and Phil Mendelson (holding flags, center) – Photo: John Riley / Metro Weekly

Surrounded by LGBTQ community leaders and elected officials, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser raised a Progress Pride flag outside the Wilson Building — the home to D.C.’s government offices — to mark the celebration of Pride Month.

The June 3 flag-raising, now in its second year, is symbolic of the District of Columbia’s commitment to equality. It stands in stark contrast to the slew of anti-LGBTQ bills and executive orders being pushed in other states that seek to limit LGBTQ visibility or roll back legal protections for the LGBTQ community. 

Noting that the District of Columbia’s history of pro-LGBTQ advocacy dates back to the start of Home Rule, Bowser recalled historic moments of progress, including her vote in 2009, as a then-councilmember, to legalize marriage equality.

She said she was proud to represent “the gayest city in the world,” a reference to a Williams Institute analysis finding that the District has the highest percentage of adults identifying as LGBTQ of any state.

“We as a city have meant to make sure that our laws are progressive, to make sure that our government is representative, and to make sure that our programs and services make sure that every resident, from birth to seniors, have what they need to live a proud, healthy life in Washington, D.C.,” Bowser said to a crowd of approximately 200 people gathered outside the Wilson Building.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson hailed some of the District’s recent budgeting decisions that seek to allot money for LGBTQ-specific causes, including a proposal by Bowser’s office to invest $5.25 million to support the planning and implementation of WorldPride 2025, which D.C. will host next year.

Mendelson also touted efforts to double funding for the new DC LGBTQ+ Community Center, which is currently under construction and will open later this year in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

D.C. Attorney Brian Schwalb highlighted his office’s efforts to fight on behalf of the LGBTQ community, including 18 amicus briefs filed on behalf of the District arguing that the nation’s courts should recognize the identities and defend the rights of LGBTQ Americans against some of the more pernicious anti-LGBTQ laws being pushed for political gain.

“We not only celebrate and welcome our diversity, we know diversity is one of our superpowers,” Schwalb said. “It’s one of our crown jewels. And as the office of Attorney General, we’re committed to using the law to protect that jewel.”

Other speakers noted the importance of LGBTQ representation and visibility and reflected on the significance of having a symbol of the LGBTQ community flying on the flagpole of an official government entity.

“Pride is not just a time of remembrance, but a reminder of how far we have to go now,” said Ward 5 Councilmember Zachary Parker, the Council’s only out LGBTQ member. “We must still push for comprehensive LGBTQ health care and education and protective work environments. We must amplify the voices of those that remain marginalized in the community, including our trans and nonbinary siblings, people of color, those with disabilities.

“Pride is about love. Pride is about progress. Pride is about peace, and pride is about taking up space because for too long, too many of us in this community have been relegated to the shadows.”

This year’s Capital Pride festivities reach their apex this weekend with the Capital Pride Parade on June 8 and Festival/Concert on June 9, are viewed as real-life practice for the upcoming WorldPride 2025 festivities, which are expected to draw an estimated 3 million visitors from around the globe to the District.

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