Capitol Pride 2017
By William Satloff
Pride is special because -- for the most part -- everyone is queer. It’s one of the rare times when I can talk to, look at, and flirt with guys the way straight people feel comfortable to everyday. In the straight world, there’s a constant pressure to modulate one’s queerness. Do I look and act just flamboyant enough that other guys will know I’m gay? Is my voice too high or is it too low? Is my full face of makeup threatening? Am I looking too over-the-top and making other people uncomfortable? I love going to Pride because I get to throw those questions out the window. I can sashay and slay to the extent I want to.
I’m not often surrounded by people who are “fair game”, so I wanted to look nice for the guys with the faded hair, sleeveless tees, short-shorts, and Fenty-Puma shoes. When I rushed home from taking the June 6 ACT, I met my older brother Benji (straight, cis) and my friend Aniqa (straight, cis). Aniqa and I spent the next 90-or-so minutes perfecting our hair and visages. Capital Pride is an event of glitter: on not only the usual cheekbones, cupid’s bow, and nasal bridge, but on every inch of exposed skin. Personally, I wouldn’t dare show up to Pride looking any less irridescent than a disco glove. Once the three of us were properly sheened and shined, we made our way to the metro.
This was my third year immersed in the gaiety of Capital Pride. I walked off the metro stop at Dupont Circle and I was immediately surrounded by queerness. From straight Washingtonians selling “Straight Outta The Closet” shirts to bombastic drag queens yas-queening, from middle schoolers with brightly dyed hair posing with peace signs to elderly lesbians having picnics, the entire spectacle made me feel at home.
While I wear makeup and watch the season finales of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I don’t strongly identify with the queer community. I usually feel that sexuality is part of who someone is and that it’s not necessarily a lifestyle or culture. But year after year, I see, hear, and feel an indescribable unity in diversity. Queerness is intersectional, and all types of people from every spectrum imaginable show up to Pride. As I walked around Dupont Circle, I saw people from every walk of life thriving together. This past February, the Capital Pride Alliance announced the theme of this year’s Pride as “Unapologetically Proud”. That sentiment couldn’t be expressed any louder.
I walked away from Capital Pride 2017 with a couple of distinct impressions. First, getting interviewed by Channel 5, the DCW, and calling out President Trump as an enemy to the queer community. Second, watching and applauding a dance circle on the steps of the Dupont Circle Fountain organized by black and latinx LGBT+ people in an effort to inter-sectionalize the Parade.