The White House isn't’t likely to be bathed in rainbow light again anytime soon, but the city of Washington D.C. remains an LGBTQ favorite, and the upscale neighborhood of DuPont Circle is a hub of queer pride. This June, take a small break from your traditional New York City pride plans and parade through Washington instead.
DuPont’s Drag Race
DuPont Circle is host to one of the country’s largest pride parades. More than 150,000 annual spectators line the historic neighborhood, where the world’s embassies are housed in ornate mansions almost as gag-worthy as the wigs and heels sashaying by. Capital Pride traces its history back to 1975 and the celebration now attracts over a quarter million revelers. If you can’t make it in June, you have another shot at some gay games in October: The annual High Heel Race pits drag queens against each other in a fabulous footrace down 17th street after day-long festivities on the Saturday before Halloween.
Steps from the circle is The Embassy Row Hotel, the perfect spot for a costume change and a stylish stay between shenanigans. Equipped with an underground playground and a rooftop pool and grill, this chic hotel prides itself on being gay-friendly, pet-friendly, and fun-friendly, so bring the whole crew (and your little dog, too). Even if you’re not sleeping here, stop by The Rooftop on a Friday night and rock a set of light-up headphones at the silent disco party raging around the pool, or center yourself with a more peaceful morning yoga class on the DuPont Deck overlooking the picturesque circle and boasting Washington Monument views. Head downstairs to Station Kitchen & Cocktails to grab locally made coffee and pastries in the morning, sip cocktails during an afternoon kiki, or share a small-plate-dinner-date at this onsite restaurant/bar inspired by the abandoned trolley station under the circle.
New Kid on the Block
It goes without saying that DC is home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of museums, running the gamut from history and art to spies and crime. The newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture is a must-visit, but you’re going to battle massive crowds to get in to this latest addition to the Smithsonian complex. Kate Gibbs of the Destination DC office offers a local protip: If you don’t want to be in line at 6:15 AM for one of the day’s free tickets, stop by around 12:30 when the museum sometimes releases another batch, depending on the days’ actual attendance.
Less new but as timely as ever is the Newseum, the city’s seven-level ode to freedom of expression and the First Amendment, guaranteeing the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. With these rights feeling less and less secure under 45’s regime, it’s a critical time to brush up on the history of the press, its power, and its value to a free society. The Newseum is among the world’s most interactive museums, so if the stand-and-stare culture of art museums isn’t your bag, try the hands-on approach of the Newseum on for size.
There may be nearly as many gay bars and restaurants as there are museums in DC. With heaps of them located in and around DuPont Circle, options for food and fun are endless in this historically safe space for the LGBT community. While there are many unpleasant reasons to descend on the capital and defend ourselves today, June is a reminder that we also have much to celebrate, and what better way to stand strong and increase visibility than to proclaim our pride in Washington DC this summer?
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