By Angelo C. Louw
Several calls were made for members of the Capital Pride board of directors to step down and make way for more representative leadership at a meeting with LGBTQ groups on Monday.
The well-attended meeting, organized by No Justice No Pride and Capital Pride, came as a result of Capital Pride Executive Producer Bryan Pruitt’s dismissal last month for anti-trans equality rhetoric in an opinion piece he wrote for far-right online publication RedState in 2016.
The tense discussion aimed to address issues around corporate sponsorship – particularly around those with companies who benefit from the disenfranchisement of LGBTQ people – and the involvement of the Metropolitan Police Department at the event; it quickly escalated into a discussion on leadership reform after a failure to address racial slurs made toward people of color during the meeting.
“We as the board hosted a conference this March to talk about some of the ways we are intentionally challenging ourselves and spaces to make it more open, where more people feel comfortable and want to be part of our board,” said Capital Pride Executive Director Ryan Bos to the crowd.
Bos added that professionals were employed at this conference to specifically challenge the board on their “white privilege” in order to improve their service of marginalized communities.
However, many attendees felt that their concerns continued to be overlooked – especially with Capital Pride’s firm defense of its partnership with Metropolitan Police, who have a track record for victimizing transgender women and LGBTQ people of color.
“Just because we stick a rainbow flag on a police car doesn’t make it an LGBTQ car, it is still the police,” said Joseph Reaves, a Columbia Heights resident.
“I party at Green Lantern. I party at Town. I party at Nellie’s on Friday. I see an increased police presence around those spaces, not at straight clubs – but where are they when my people need them, when Black people need them?”
Ruby Corado, Executive Director of Casa Ruby LGBT Community Center, said: “There are thousands of people in D.C. jails whose only crime was to survive, to go out on the street and try to make some money for a meal, and the system continues to punish them for it. She adds, “I would love to see the people who are struggling marching first: I would love to see trans people at the front of the parade, I would like to see young people of color at the front of the parade. These are people who feel uncomfortable because their safety issues are real.”
While the organizing body promised to make itself more accessible and transparent, and to review relationships which may be harmful to the LGBTQ community, it stressed that not much can be done ahead of the 2017 parade early next month.
Today, the No Justice No Pride group sent out an official press release stating the “Capital Pride board meeting results in further silence of most marginalized community members.” To read the full press release, click here.