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Capital Pride Parade: Totally Radical theme for 50th anniversary

Capital Pride flot featuring the capitals sports mascot, an eagle
Nicole Glass Photography/Shutterstock

Under the theme "Totally Radical" this year's Capital Pride taking place in Washington, D.C., looks to honor the past while continuing to fight for equality for LGBTQ+ people.

Capital Pride — Washington, D.C.'s main Pride parade — is setting up a new route this year, preparing folks for next year when D.C. will host World Pride on its 50th anniversary. Ahead of the parade tomorrow, The Advocate spoke with Ryan Bos, the executive director of Capital Pride Alliance, the group behind Capital Pride.

The below interview has been edited for clarity.

The theme for this year is "Totally Radical." Why was that theme decided on for this year?

Ryan Bos: Next year is our 50th anniversary of celebrating pride annually here in Washington. Last year, steam was PEACE, LOVE REVOLUTION. It was centered around our movement in the 60s and 70s. This year, we wanted to focus on the 80s and 90s, as we sort of move again to our 50th anniversary. We chose "Totally Radical" because it connected to an 80s and early 90s vibe. It also represents and acknowledges that, you know, specifically with the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the 80s, we needed to be totally radical to be seen and to be heard to be valued.

What can people expect this weekend for Capital Pride?

Bos: Our infamous best parade of DC the Capitol Pride Parade with a new route to prepare for next year's World Pride. Folks will enjoy an amazing concert and festival, including headliners with Eva Max. Billy Porter, Keke Palmer, Exposé, and Sapphira Cristál.

Can you expand upon how this year's parade will set the stage for World Pride next year?

Bos: Ever since getting the honor from InterPride [an organization of pride organizations around the world] to host World Pride in 25, which will coincide with the 50th anniversary of pride here in the nation's capital, our community has been galvanized, excited, and eager to welcome the international community as well as many folks nationally who haven't been to D.C., to our home city. We want to make sure that folks realize that we are more than just a federal city with monuments and memorials but that we have a rich culture with an amazing community with entertainment and food and theater, etc. That's really what we tried to put forth through our pride events is to really showcase all the different aspects of not just the LGBTQ+ community, but D.C. in general.

Related: 88 Photos of Queer Joy From the Washington, D.C. Capital Pride Parade

Why is it important this year to show up to pride and participate and be involved?

Bos: I would say right after the repeal of "don't ask don't tell," when marriage equality [happened], with all those wins for our community, we kept getting asked: "Do we even need pride anymore?" Even back then we were saying, "Yes, we do, because there's still things to fight for." We're not there yet with full equality, specifically with our trans community, and also know that there are other countries where they can still be murdered for being LGBTQ+. So, there's always a reason to be visible and to have our voice.

In our current time, here in the United States, we are now at threat even more with rollbacks of policies and that progress. Communities are threatening to remove books from the shelves that support love and community just because they have LGBTQ+ characters, to where businesses and such are more concerned about whether they can actually even fly a pride flag. For all those reasons, and the reasons that every year, we experience, and I'm pretty sure every pride does, is it's someone's first Pride. And that's because folks show up because they want to be with people that they can relate to, that they realize they're not alone, they want to be visible, and they want to feel valued. That's why, more important than ever, we need to show up for ourselves so that we can be our authentic selves, but then also show up for others who aren't able to.

There have been disruptions at other Pride events, including from protestors who are calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. What does Capital Pride have planned for something like that, if that happens?

Bos: As we remind folks, pride originated as a protest. That protest included the first Pride as a celebration in the street with music and dancing. And that is a form of protest. Because we were still being told that we were not allowed or shouldn't be proud of who we are as individuals, and pride to this day still remains a protest every year. We encourage folks to express themselves to, again, be not just seen but to be heard. And we have nearly 300 contingents who want that opportunity to be seen and to be heard. We encourage and will encourage, if there are protesters trying to disrupt the parade, to march in the parade with us. Let their voices be heard. At the same time, we need to ensure that all members participating in the parade have that same opportunity. We have seniors, we have children, we have youth, we have persons with disabilities, so we got to make sure that this experience is something that we can all enjoy and appreciate.

What else should people know about Capital Pride this Saturday and the events this weekend?

Bos: We encourage folks to visit our website so they can get a full view of everything that's going on whether they be official events that we organize or whether they be programs and events from our partners. We ask folks to download our pride 365 mobile app, which will have all the events, it will have a directory of organizations and businesses in the area.

Outside of that, luckily, this weekend the weather is not going to be extremely hot, but folks still should come prepared with their sunscreen. And ultimately come prepared to just be themselves, to be their authentic selves, to meet somebody new, and really cherish the fact that our community is extremely diverse.

Washington, D.C. is a place that welcomes all people. We are excited to have an amazing, totally radical celebration this weekend. Pride is not just any single day or month, we have pride 365. That's really what we hope folks do when they come to pride: They're Inspired to be themselves, to support others throughout the entire year, and to advocate for those who are not able to.

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