Friend remembers longtime Capital Pride organizer, LGBTQ advocate Bernie Delia dead at 68

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An Undated photo of Bernie Delia speaking in front of a crowd in D.C. (Courtesy Mayor Muriel Bowser)

Bernie Delia, a founding member of the board of D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance, one of the first openly gay appointees to the Justice Department and a White House public servant during President Bill Clinton’s administration, died Friday in the District. He was 68.

Officials with Capital Pride DC released a statement confirming Delia’s unexpected death Friday, highlighting a history of advocacy and activism for the LGBTQ+ community.

“He understood the value, purpose, and urgency of the LGBTQ+ community working together and supporting one another. He poured his soul into our journey toward World Pride — a goal of his from the start of his involvement with Capital Pride,” the organization said.

Delia served as co-chair of World Pride 2025, which will be hosted by the District next June, after years of distinguished legal service across the region, including time spent as one of the first openly gay appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice, an appellate attorney and public servant in the Clinton White House.

“Bernie leaves behind an incredible legacy in our city and country — through his life and advocacy, he helped pave a path for LGBTQIA+ residents in our city and within the federal government to live and work openly and proudly,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement posted to X on Saturday.

Capital Pride DC added that “Bernie is reunited with his husband Doug and his sweet angel Lani.” A reason for his death was not immediately available.

“He helped transform Capital Pride into one of the largest and most inclusive Pride celebrations in the nation — a true reflection and representation of our people and values,” Bowser said. “That is the D.C. that Bernie helped build and that he leaves behind.”

‘He was solid, he was steady’

Delia’s work for the LGBTQ+ community was memorialized by several leaders in the District in the hours after his death was first reported by the Washington Blade. However, it is the leaders of Capital Pride who remember his work and connect most to Delia’s personal contributions to the region’s LGBTQ+ community.

“He was someone that I could share anything. It wasn’t just a collegial relationship, it was a friend, it was a friendship, it was a kinship. He was he was solid, he was steady,” Ryan Bos, current Executive Director of the Capital Pride Alliance, told WTOP in an interview.

With Delia’s death, Bos’ goal is to continue the hard work Delia did to get World Pride to D.C. in 2025. But it remains an emotional challenge for the group of leaders.

“The thing is he always shows up. And he’s there. He gives it his all — 100% — and he is someone that I trusted 110%. And I was extremely excited to finish this journey to World Pride with him. So that’s what really hurts right now,” Bos said.

After years of advocacy, occasionally losing the right to host the event in D.C., Bos said that Delia kept spirits high.

“He was one of the individuals that advocated hard that we should still go for it,” Bos said.

Now, Bos is hopeful that many more people will step up to learn, grow and further impact the LGBTQ+ community in the District and around the world, following Delia’s strong leadership.

“I hope that — and I know that — there are folks in our community that are committed and passionate. Though having someone like Bernie with his experience, his different lens and just, you know, being involved in so many facets of our community. It’s a huge loss,” Bos told WTOP.

WTOP’s Jimmy Alexander contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: A prior version of this article incorrectly stated Bernie Delia was 64 when he died. The LGBTQ advocate died at the age of 68. 

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Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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