Capital Pride Festival Celebrates Washington’s Queer Community

This past June, thousands of Washington residents, tourists and vendors attended Capital Pride, the city’s largest annual celebration of the LGBTQ community and its history. Founded by activist Deacon Maccubbin in 1975, the festival created a safe, buzzing social space for queer people and their allies to celebrate, dance and be proud of their identities in the Washington area.

The event was headlined by its signature glittering parade, which was over a mile and a half long, accompanied by a variety of glamorous events featuring performers, booths and family activities. The parade lined the streets of Washington with over 50 floats, local performers and thousands of excited onlookers waving flags. Designed to celebrate the growth of LGBTQ neighborhoods in Washington, the parade’s path wound through both busy streets and tightly-knit queer communities — playfully dubbed “gayborhoods” — offering a historical and enlightening touch to a celebration so deeply rooted in the Washington community.

Other attractions included a collection of both local and national talent across three stages at the Capital Pride Concert, a free show filled with music and dance to spread messages of pride and acceptance. Notable attendees included Joe Jonas with DNCE, as well as LGBTQ performers Willow Pill and Symone of Rupaul’s Drag Race. Shows from all three stages offered VIP packages and meet-and-greets to benefit the non-profit Capital Pride Alliance (CPA). In addition, the concert provided specialized accessibility zones for those with wheelchairs or hearing impairments, furthering its mission of inclusion and acceptance.

Junior Isabel Gurney shared that her favorite part of the festival were the live performances in Dupont Circle, “​​People were dancing, we heard some good oldies, and the atmosphere was exciting and high energy.”

Metro Weekly’s Joseph Reberkenny called the stages a “thrilling rainbowscape,” with DNCE’s colorful performance encapsulating “the fervently joyous vibes that carry through the month of June.”

In addition to the colorful decorations and landscape, attendees donned vibrant outfits. Gurney shares, “It was also a fun opportunity to dress up with friends! We were decked out in colorful clothing and glitter.”

Additional activities included hundreds of local small businesses along the streets, a family-friendly zone with games and entertainment for younger attendees and an all-day block party featuring refreshing beverages and lively crowds. In a surprise appearance, Vice President Kamala Harris took to the stage with an optimistic speech, passionately emphasizing the importance of protecting and celebrating the LGBTQ community and its legacy. “No one should fear loving who they love,” Harris said in her speech.

Gurney shared her motivation for going to the festival: “I decided to go to show my support for the LGBTQ community, see some live music, and explore Dupont.”

CPA Executive Director Ryan Bos was beyond ecstatic at the accomplishments over the course of the weekend, telling Metro Weekly that he “[felt] a fulfillment with the joy and the smiles,” noting that after two years of the pandemic, “it [was] so amazing to come back together as a community.”