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Gun scare in Dupont Circle halts 2019 Pride Parade

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Cmdr. Guillermo Rivera speaks to reporters following the incident that caused the premature ending of the Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)

A gun scare in Dupont Circle tonight (Sat., June 8) about 7:30 p.m. brought the annual Capital Pride Parade to a screeching halt and sent hundreds of observers fleeing the scene in panic, according to eyewitnesses and police.

“At about 7:20 p.m., officers responded to a report of a man with a gun,” said Commander Guillermo Rivera of D.C. Metro Police during an impromptu press conference in Dupont Circle about 9:15 p.m. “As the officers were going to the scene, some of the people running away said there was a man with a gun and someone had fired shots. Officers arrived and stopped an individual and a gun was recovered close by. There is no evidence that any shots were fired, but that’s under investigation.”

The scene at the circle was still buzzing after 9 p.m. Dozens of police officers were on scene all around the circle along with fire and EMS personnel. Sgt. Brett Parson was on the scene with Rivera. Capital Pride organizers such as Ryan Bos (executive director, Capital Pride Alliance), Bernie Delia (former president), Ashley Smith (president of the Capital Pride Alliance board), Cathy Renna (whose PR firm Target Cue works with Capital Pride), et. al. huddled and eventually departed the scene.

“We’re just waiting to find out exactly what happened,” Smith said.

Rivera said one adult male was arrested for possession of “what appears to be a handgun.” Additional charges may be filed, Rivera said. A woman was arrested as well for an altercation with a police officer, Rivera said. The officer was not injured. It doesn’t appear, Rivera said, that the two incidents were related.

Shortly before the press conference, a young woman was taken away in a Metro PD van in handcuffs. She appeared to have difficulty walking but it wasn’t clear if she was being uncooperative. Someone asked Rivera if she had been naked at one point. He said he didn’t know but she was clothed at the time she was taken away. Both the man and woman are being arraigned at Second District headquarters.

“At this point, it’s unclear if they were together,” Rivera said.

People who were in the circle at the time of the hubbub said it appeared to have started over a fight.

“Apparently there were two people who got in a fight,” said Cory Bittner, a gay Chevy Chase man who was at the parade with friends. “About 10 minutes later, he came back and was waving a gun in the air and that’s when everybody started running.”

Bittner and his friend Rob Nelson of Baltimore fled to Connecticut Ave. and waited there about 10 minutes.

“It was like a stampede,” Nelson said.

Police consulted with Capital Pride organizers and decided to cancel the parade about 7:30 p.m. The parade was slated to continue until 8 p.m. According to witnesses, there were many contingents that didn’t get to participate.

Dave Kolesar and husband Patrick Wojahn were standing at 23rd and P N.W. and were second in line to start the parade route with Dignity Washington, a gay Catholic group, when they heard the music stop.

“Things got a little quiet and then saw people stampeding down P street from the circle,” Kolesar said. “We heard people say, ‘Get back, take cover, there’s an active shooter,’ but it was like a big game of telephone. As people were coming down, I did hear a few loud bangs, which were obviously the cause of additional panic, but they were probably just the sound of the temporary barriers getting knocked down as people were trying to leave the scene.”

Neither Kolesar nor Bittner said they saw anyone fall or get trampled but police said about seven people were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries. Others — they didn’t say how many — were treated at the circle.

After about 15-20 minutes, Kolesar said a Pride organizer informed them that the parade was being canceled. Foot traffic was still flowing heavily out of the circle, so Kolesar and Wojhan headed toward Georgetown. They felt safe to come out of an area they were taking cover at after about 15 minutes. He guesses “at least several dozen” contingents didn’t get to be in the parade. He said the scene was “a mixture of curiosity, fear and panic.”

Capital Pride organizers confer at Dupont Circle Saturday night after reports of a shooting. Ashley Smith is second from right; Ryan Bos is far right. Robert York, board member, has his back to the camera with the neon backpack. He’s facing Bernie Delia. (Washington Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)

Kristina Kelly, a prominent local drag queen (aka Chris Smith) posted on Facebook about the incident about 8:15 p.m.

“Kids, we are here at Dupount (sic) and fine, however we heard shots and 3,000 people (were) running down Connecticut Ave. Trust (me), it wasn’t false,” she wrote.

“I wasn’t at the circle, so I don’t want to second guess police,” Kolesar said. “But I know they consulted with the Pride folks when they made the decision out of an abundance of caution. Sadly, I think it’s reflective of the times we live in.”

About 10 minutes after the police briefing, the mood in the circle seemed to lighten. A group of a hundred or more young people gathered in a large pack and were break dancing to hip-hop music, seemingly intent on recovering some of the fun of the evening.

This is a breaking story. The Blade will have more on it as details emerge.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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Pride Special

Monét X Change joins Kiva to Celebrate Pride

Kiva, the sought-after cannabis brand, is following through once again with their second annual partnership with world famous drag superstar Monét X Change.

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Monét X Change via KIVA

LOS ANGELES – ’Tis the season of rainbow sponsorships. Pride partnerships between companies of all sizes and queer celebrities of all caches abound. In the whirl of Pride collabs, it’s important to know which companies are for real.

Kiva, the sought-after cannabis brand, is following through once again with their second annual partnership with world famous drag superstar Monét X Change. Monét went Live on Kiva’s Instagram Thursday evening, hosting a candid conversation with viewers on Pride, cannabis and how the two are intertwined. 

On her Instagram Live, Monét started off the bat by calling out other companies who “slap on a rainbow” and call it a day. Kiva is not one of those companies. This Pride month, Kiva has made donations to GLAAD and has pledged to continue their involvement and support of the LGBT+ community year-round, something with Monét cited on Live as especially noteworthy.

GLAAD is an internationally recognized LGBT+ organization that works ubiquitously in the worlds of entertainment, news, and digital media to accelerate acceptance and celebrate LGBTQ+ stories.

Monét X Change gained fame on the 10th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, where she won Miss Congeniality. She went on to win (in a tie) the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. Working her way to the top of the industry, she is now regarded as one of the most popular and successful queens to come out of the show, frequently partnering with her pal from New York, Season 8 winner Bob the Drag Queen.

You can now find Monét everywhere in almost every facet of the entertainment world. Most recently, Monét released “Love Like This” – a beachy bop with a fresh queer Caribbean sound.

Joining Monét’s Kiva live stream was a colorful bunch of up and coming New York queens, including the in-demand Jacklynn Hyde, her leggy New York sister Tina Twirler and the crown-snatching Sabbyiana. 

Back by popular demand, Kiva is relaunching the much asked for Tropical Punch Camino Gummies. These fruity little edibles are a Pride spin-off of Kiva’s popular line of Camino gummies. A light, refreshing edible with 5mg THC per dose perfect for Pride month.

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Events

LA Pride breaks silence announces ‘Thrive with Pride’

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LOS ANGELES – After weeks of ‘stay tuned’ on its website and no real engagement with the media or the LGBTQ community, Christopher Street West Association Inc. the nonprofit organization that produces the annual LA Pride celebration announced its planned June programming for LA Pride 2021 on Thursday.

Pride 2021 activations are themed around the daily reminder to Thrive with Pride.

LA Pride weekend will kick-off on Thursday night, June 10th with a concert exclusively presented by and live streamed on TikTok featuring hyper-pop diva Charli XCX and a showcase of up and coming LGBTQ+ performers across genres. In-person concert opportunities are not available at this time. Fans and followers can follow @tiktokforgood and @lapride on TikTok for updates and advanced promotions. 

Further, a televised special titled “Thrive with Pride Celebration” is set for Saturday, June 12th airing 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT on ABC 7 Los Angeles, the most-watched station in Southern California, will feature special guests, performances and LA Pride honorees. 

“To thrive means to flourish and progress despite the circumstances. Pride this year is a moment for you to stop and breathe,” said Sharon-Franklin Brown, CSW board president. “It’s a moment to remember you’re not just surviving one of the hardest years in recent memory, but growing into your truth. This is why we were so intentional in our planning. We want to bring a moment of celebration, a moment to highlight the community, and an opportunity to give back. If we as a community can come together, even for a moment, to realize we’ve broken down some barriers put on us, it’ll strengthen our resolve to continue tearing more down for those to come after us.” 

“After an unprecedented year of challenge and struggle, I am so pleased that this year’s pride festivities embrace the spirit of the first pride parade and our activist roots,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. “By bringing together LGBTQ+ communities from every corner of our City, we will uplift all voices and elevate the important work of the icons of the LGBTQ movement who sacrificed everything in their young lives at the time so we can all celebrate together in 2021. With a mix of virtual and potential in-person events, this year’s festivities will keep our community safe and connected while providing every Angeleno an opportunity to embrace giving and volunteerism.” 

In recognition of the incredibly difficult work Los Angeles social justice and non-profit organizations have put into achieving equity, actionable change and stability, LA Pride will launch a 30-day give back campaign to support these efforts. Pride Makes a Difference will highlight opportunities for Angelenos to sign up to either volunteer, or donate goods and/or money to local organizations in Los Angeles County. Pride Makes a Difference is a new program in conjunction with Big Sunday. As part of these new efforts, drop off locations will be set up all throughout Los Angeles. A list of selected local organizations and drop off sites will be available soon to choose from, as well as the sign-up details and commitment.

“Our utmost priority in whatever we’re doing to celebrate Pride this year ensures safety and follows CDC-approved pandemic guidelines,” continued Brown. “That’s why we’re announcing this programming first. Any potential in-person celebratory activations will be announced at a later date in the coming weeks. The more we put safety first, the more likely we’re able to plan big physical events in the future, including Pride 2022, where we can celebrate who we are, where we came from, and where we need to go.”

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LA Pride Celebration

LA Pride 2021 looks to be virtual with limited in-person events- maybe?

There have not been any announcements for plans for Pride month events in June

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Screenshot as of April 13, 2021 of LA Pride Homepage

LOS ANGELES – The months April and May are usually crunch time in planning for Pride events in any year, however the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has shut down larger scale in-person gatherings as well as restricted smaller events in both outdoor and indoor venues.

This year, however, remains a question mark and so far there’s been no concrete planning announcements.

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that as the state has surpassed a major milestone in the fight against COVID- administering more than 20 million vaccine doses, including 4 million in the state’s hardest-hit communities, officials intend to fully reopen on June 15.

However, common-sense health measures such as masking will remain across the state. Testing or vaccination verification requirements will remain in relevant settings.

All sectors listed in the current Blueprint for a Safer Economy grid may return to usual operations in compliance with Cal/OSHA requirements and with common-sense public health policies in place, such as required masking, testing and with vaccinations encouraged. 

Large-scale indoor events, such as conventions, will be allowed to occur with testing or vaccination verification requirements.

Pride would fall into the latter category.

A spokesperson for The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health echoed the governor’s announcement but stressed there were science and data driven caveats to modification of the Public Health Order allowing large-scale events and that systems would be required in place to protect the public’s health.

A majority of Pride events in 2020 were either cancelled outright or moved online as California was under strict ‘Stay-At-Home’ orders.

This year, even with the governor’s announcement there have not been any announcements for plans for Pride month events in June. The Blade reached out to the both the City of West Hollywood and Christopher Street West which runs LA Pride seeking information.

In an email, a spokesperson for the City of West Hollywood said that it is anticipated that the West Hollywood City Council will receive an update on programming for the celebration of LGBTQ Pride 2021 at its regular City Council meeting on April 19, 2021.

‘At this time, the City of West Hollywood remains in a declared local emergency in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite extraordinary progress in vaccinations and in opening certain sectors of the economy, COVID-19 community transmission remains a top concern to the City and to local health officials; this year there will be no large in-person gatherings, including the events we typically see in West Hollywood during Pride festivities,” Sheri A. Lunn, the Public Information Officer for City of West Hollywood told the Blade.

“Gov. Newsom’s announcement to fully open its economy is conditioned on the state meeting two criteria: 1) sufficient vaccine supply for Californians 16 years and older who wish to be inoculated, and 2) stable and low hospitalization rates. In planning ahead, the City must anticipate shifts in the timing of these policy changes and plan accordingly to ensure the health and safety of residents, business community members, and visitors,” she added.

For Pride 2021, the City of West Hollywood will host its annual One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, which will take place with a series of virtual events that will run from Harvey Milk Day (May 22) through the end of June Pride month (June 30). The City plans to work with the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to encourage and promote the efforts of West Hollywood’s business community during Pride season this year to celebrate in accordance to regularly revised guidelines established by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

So far there has been no comment nor statements from LA Pride/Christopher Street West nor has the organization returned phone calls from the Blade regarding plans for Pride.

On its website the organization simply says “Stay Tuned.”

The Blade also reached out to several businesses and a couple of LGBTQ organizations, all of which said that there had been no news or announcements for Pride planning as of this week.

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