DC Pride Responds to Protests and Criticism with Policy Changes

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Earlier his week, the Capital Pride Alliance (CPA), the group that plans DC Pride, announced several board of director and policy changes stemming from criticism from members of DC’s LGBTQ community’s and protests during last year’s DC Pride celebration.

In 2017, DC Pride was celebrated under a cloud of controversy as a group called No Justice, No Pride, interrupted the parade protesting the existence of corporate sponsors and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) at the event.  Additionally, earlier in the year, CPA board member Bryan Pruitt resigned due to perceived transphobic comments he made in a May 2016 post on the conservative blog RedState. 

In a statement announcing the 2018 DC Pride theme of “Elements of Us”, the CPA not only expressed the importance of coming together as the community has witnessed continued attacks on and erosion of LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance, but also to highlight the measures the group has taken to be more inclusive and change the way the event is planned and produced.

“We believe strongly in the spirit of our Pride theme this year, ‘Elements of Us,’“ said CPA Executive Director Ryan Bos. “Every LGBTQ+ and allied person’s life is composed of a kaleidoscope of identity, including race, sexuality, gender, ability, age, spirituality, experience, beliefs, goals, and so much more. Who we are links us to each other and to the LGBTQ+ community,” continued Bos.

“Since our founding, Capital Pride has strived to respond to the individual and collective concerns of our diverse community and worked to respect and address them. I am proud of the progress we have made in several areas, and committed to continuing the work to be better, while continuing to provide a space for a Pride experience that encompasses the many aspects and opinions of what makes our communities so unique,” concluded Bos.

“It has been a year of work and progress for CPA as we enter Pride season,” said Board President Ashley Smith. “We have continued to build more inclusive relationships and we will include anyone who brings their authentic self and who wants to share their elements through our events.  We will continue making programmatic changes that better reflect the diverse issues, viewpoints, and concerns of all our communities,” continued Smith.

“The LGBTQ+ community is exceptionally diverse and includes many people with opposing views on a wide range of issues. That includes law enforcement, veterans and active members of the military, local businesses, corporations, and the defense industry. It also includes those who take issue with the actions of political, educational, corporate, and other institutions. CPA’s mission must find a way to create an environment that fosters dialogue, allows for a diversity of thought, and provides a space for a positive experience at Pride that is safe and affirming,” concluded Smith.

Over the last year, the CPA Board and volunteers have made a number of changes to its policies and board based on feedback from the DC LGBTQ community.  Among the changes are the following:

  • Capital Pride Alliance conducted an open call for Board members and several new members joined our team, and the Board now has even greater diversity and representation of our community to include new trans members, women, and members of the POC Community.   The number of Board members has also increased, in accordance with our bylaws and allowing for greater inclusion of thought and voices from all parts of our community; 
  • The board leadership team has changed and diversified from years past to include a person of color as the President of the Board and a woman to the leadership team;
  • The volunteer leadership team has expanded with the announcement of Chairs for our premiere events, representing greater diversity to include women, trans leaders, and people of color;
  • Continue to work with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and other organizations on their presence in any CPA activities, taking into account the concerns of community organizations;
  • The CPA has begun a process of engaging our community partners on a variety of topics to ensure we are inclusive in our actions. We look forward to this continued effort and are focusing on youth, POC, and trans communities and others.

Regarding corporate sponsorship, the CPA created the following corporate sponsorship guidelines:

  • Capital Pride strives to create spaces where all members of our community can celebrate together regardless of differences or disagreements;
  • Sponsors will demonstrate a commitment to the LGBTQ+ community through tangible measures such as strong or continually improving HRC CEI scores;
  • Groups designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center will not be permitted to sponsor or participate;
  • Capital Pride reserves the right to make decisions on individual sponsors based on their mission and actions, as well as feedback from our community.

Additionally, the CPA created a new Pride Legacy Fund to provide grants for small non-profit organizations in order to support participation by those organizations at Pride events. In addition, this fund supports our expanded volunteer program, which assists our LGBTQ+ community throughout the year.