WASHINGTON — Glitter and glam mixed with strollers on Pennsylvania Avenue on Sunday. The 39th annual Capital Pride Festival was a mix of those making fashion statements, those making political statements, and those just out to have a good time with their young families.
Christopher Coyne and John Williams, a married couple from Chevy Chase, brought their three young children to the festival and commented on how normal it seemed to be out as a same-sex couple with a family on Sunday as compared to years ago. Williams said, “We feel like society’s just generally more accepting of us. So when we’re out in restaurants with our three kids, we get more accepting looks,” and people actually congratulate them on their marriage and having a family.
Williams says that 10 years ago, “It was the opposite; we felt like we were kind of pariahs on the edge of society.” As Williams inflated a beach ball for their kids, Coyne said, the day “feels like a celebration — not a party, but a celebration, and that’s great!”
Anne Rumain, a 17-year-old attending the festival with her mom, Susan Cohen, sported a bright red T-shirt printed with the words “Love is Love.” Rumain said she wore the shirt to communicate her belief that “people in the LGBTQ-plus community deserve to love just as much as anybody else.”
Cohen said the event was as political as it was celebratory, saying there was a time when simply waving the rainbow flag of the LGBT community was a dangerous act. And while there’s much more acceptance, there’s still a need to fight fear. “We want to let other people know that we’re here, and we’re not scary,” she said.
Pennsylvania Avenue was packed with booths: The Coast Guard had a recruiting booth at the event, as did a number of local businesses. In the shade of one booth, Chili Pasternak sprawled in the shade, panting heavily.
The Standard Poodle was sporting a candy-colored rainbow topknot for the day. He was there with Alaina Russell, who brought him along as part of the team from Helping Hands veterinary clinic in Richmond.
Russell explained they made the trip to support the LGBT community. Motioning to Chili, and his tie-dyed look, Russell said of his accepting nature; “Chili loves everybody! He’s not picky!”