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Capital Pride Alliance

A commitment to Pride 365.

Development Director Mike Alexander explains that Pride is more than any single event. It’s a commitment this nonprofit organization make 365 days a year. Giant Food has supported Capital Pride Alliance through its Community Bag Program.

Tell us about Capital Pride Alliance.

Capital Pride Alliance celebrates, educates, supports and inspires our multi-faceted communities to grow and preserve our history and protect our rights for current and future generations. We achieve these goals through our stewardship of diverse programming and events, specifically year-round LGBTQ+ Pride festivities centered in Washington, DC, and the National Capital Region.

Capital Pride Alliance, as it is today, was founded in 2008. We took over celebration duties from Whitman Walker Health, which had been organizing and running the Pride Celebration. But Pride itself in DC goes back to 1975 when the first Pride celebration took place.

What services do you provide to your community?

Our primary role is to amplify and support other nonprofits and the LGBTQ+ community. In other words, while we don’t supply direct services to anyone, we ensure that the voices of those nonprofit organizations serving the community are magnified. Through our work, we seek to make sure that people are aware of them through our larger events, such as the Pride Parade and Festival. That provides huge visibility.

We try to ensure the general community knows that the LGBTQ+ community is here. We also know our work can’t be done without allies; they are vital to the LGBTQ+ community.

In addition to the Pride celebration, we do events throughout the year as well. Our tagline is Have Pride 365. We believe that Pride is more than any single event; it’s a commitment that we make 365 days a year.

We seek to engage other nonprofit organizations and do as much as possible to support, market and promote what other community members are doing. That sets us apart from other Pride organizations as well.

Tell us a story that illustrates the good work of your organization.

On the surface, you might consider that what we do is somewhat basic in nature. We produce events; we help market nonprofits; we help to bring these large groups of people together not just here but in the Mid-Atlantic region.

But we’re providing a venue for freedom of expression and a sense of community that is very relevant, even though we are always asked whether Pride is still necessary. It’s a big question, and it’s one of those things where people think that LGBTQ+ rights have advanced so far that they question whether we need to keep fighting. But we’ve seen how things change with different administrations and now the current Supreme Court.  

Our Pride Festival illustrates why the answer is yes, Pride is still necessary. This year we had over 460,000 people come to that one-day event from noon until 9:00 p.m. It included an ongoing concert with performers continuing throughout the entire day. At about 7:00 p.m., our Executive Director took the stage and asked, “Who’s here for the first time?” Out of about 60,000 people there just for the concert, there was a sea of hands of probably 10,000 or more people attending for the first time. And that is really what the power of Pride is. Pride is still important and relevant because you still have people coming out, learning things about themselves and being able to be around a group of people like themselves. It’s a very important and powerful thing. We have literally thousands and thousands of those first-time Pride people coming out every year. And for them to experience it and know that the community is there is a great thing.

We have literally thousands and thousands of those first-time Pride people coming out every year. And for them to experience it and know that the community is there is a great thing.

What is your greatest achievement or contribution to the community?

What’s really great about our organization is that we are very collaborative. Considering the sheer scope of what we’re able to do and what we put on for the community, a lot of things are involved to make sure everything goes well. The logistics are incredibly complex. But we’re a very small team with only two full-time staff and a few individuals who work on a part-time contract basis. Everything else is thanks to our volunteers; we have a volunteer production team of 30-35 members at any given time, and they are responsible for ensuring they have what they need to make the events successful with our support.

So, for us to put on what we do and for it to be primarily through volunteers is something to be very proud of. Our Capital Pride Festival is the largest one-day festival in DC.

The support we have received has only increased, whether through sponsorships, volunteer support, city involvement or parade contingent involvement. That we can do this year after year at such a high level is quite remarkable.

What do you want people to know about Capital Pride Alliance?

The one thing is that we’re not going anywhere. COVID-19 was a big hit to a lot of nonprofit organizations. What we’re trying to do for Capital Pride is not only to get stronger but also diversify our resources so that we can continue to help more nonprofits that need the assistance.

This year we implemented our Pride 365 Fund after a few years of planning. Pride 365 Fund is where we fundraise for different initiatives of other nonprofit organizations. And we devote a portion of our sponsorship funds to the Pride 365 Fund so that we can help address some of the community’s most pressing needs. Eventually, it will become a grant program-type scenario where people apply for funds.

We’re trying to diversify our offerings and make sure that we’re still staying relevant to help meet the community’s needs in a different and new way in addition to the events we’re already producing.

How are you using the funds you’ve received from the Giant Food Community Bag Program?

Those will be earmarked for the Pride 365 Fund and used to support other nonprofit organizations through Capital Pride. It’s great to have something like this, and we’ll use the funds where they can do the most good.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

We are very excited to announce that Capital Pride Alliance and Washington, DC, will host World Pride in 2025! This coincides with the 50th anniversary of Pride in DC. We will expand our events to make them much larger, including a two-day festival and a much longer and larger parade, though ours is already four hours long. We will also host a human rights conference, a Pride March, and dozens of other events kicking off during DC Black Pride Weekend May 23 and going through June 8.

We are very excited to announce that Capital Pride Alliance and Washington, DC will host World Pride in 2025!

We are planning to welcome more than 2 million guests to Washington, DC, for World Pride, so we will be partnering with so many organizations, businesses, and nonprofits in DC, Maryland and Virginia to make this possible. In addition, we will have other Prides from around the world coming to help us celebrate in the nation’s capital. We will be very visible and very vocal! Save the dates!

Mike Alexander has been Development Director for Capital Pride Alliance for nearly 10 years.