Pride 2020

How to Support DC’s LGBTQ Community During Pride

It’s more important than ever to show love to the DC queer community.

Pride month in DC is here -- a reminder of the power of protest for achieving justice for marginalized communities. This is, of course, especially poignant in the wake of current worldwide protests of police brutality and important because of how hard COVID-19 has affected the LGBTQ community. These protests in the name of human rights aren’t unlike the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which changed the course of LGTBQ+ history for good.

Many are calling for 2020 to be “canceled,” considering the unprecedented recent events that continue to rock this nation and the world. No doubt, this year has been tough on most of us and leaves the LGBTQ+ community at a disadvantage for multiple reasons. For one, a recent report just released by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) found that 15 percent work in restaurants compared to their non-LGBTQ peers at only 6 percent, and the median wage in 2018 for food preparation and service occupations is $11.09 per hour.

“We are facing a global public health crisis, and as in all emergencies, the most marginalized are at increased risk,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “Many in the LGBTQ community may lack the resources to effectively combat COVID-19, lacking access to paid sick leave or living without health coverage, and are more likely to work in an industry that has been most affected by the pandemic, putting them in greater economic jeopardy or increasing their exposure to the virus.”

With Pride month here, and large-scale events cancelled or turned virtual, it is now more important than ever to show love to the DC queer community, from donating to worthy causes to ordering curbside from your favorite bars and restaurants.

Attend virtual events

While Pride celebrations have been postponed or canceled in cities around the world in an attempt to flatten the coronavirus curve. Taking its place is GlobalPride, a worldwide digital celebration masterminded by InterPride to take place on June 27. Organizers are saying the event is expected to draw up to 300 million viewers, who will be flocking to their computers to celebrate queer culture and history, and to hear speeches and performances by world leaders and Grammy Award winners.

DC’s Capital Pride Alliance has some tricks up its sleeve, too, with virtual events scheduled throughout the month of June all fitting under this year’s theme of #StillWe. The festivities kick off with a series of Pride Talks with the leaders of LGBTQ+ organizations discussing how we can move forward from the pandemic as a community, and the Alliance is offering free ad space on its annual Guide to Pride in the Nation’s Capital online to support local small businesses.

Perhaps the most fun will be found in the first ever official Capital Pridemobile & Rainbow Blast, which will travel throughout the city to conduct meaningful interviews and entertain with beats from local DJs and performances from local drag queens and kings, all available to watch via an interactive live stream. Prizes will also be given to the most prideful storefronts and residences.

Donate to worthy causes

Sure, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but we think that when you decide to fork some of your own hard-earned cash over to contribute to a worthy cause it matters where those dollars end up. Your best bet for really stretching those contributions, even the smaller ones, is by donating to a well-trusted local organization.

An amazing place to start is with DC-based nonprofits like Casa Ruby, the only LGBTQ+ bilingual and multicultural organization in the area that provides social services and programs catering to the most vulnerable -- especially ethnic minorities. Started in 2012 by Ruby Corado, it’s a tight knit community of kind, supportive people with the slogan of being “Everyone’s Home.”

Another local organization is SMYAL, or Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders. The organization not only provides leadership development opportunities for LGBTQ+ teens, but also after-school programs and counseling services designed to empower and educate. Additionally, SMYAL spearheads education and training programs for youth service providers working in schools, runaway shelters, local government agencies, and hospitals.

Don’t forget about the organization that’s putting all of these *virtually* amazing Pride events together, either. Donate to Capital Pride Alliance via PayPal to help support its mission of diverse programming and events, not just during the month of June but year-round for the LGBTQ+ community.

This year was also supposed to mark the 30th anniversary of DC Black Pride, which was developed to stand against HIV/AIDS, homophobia-inspired violence, and bigotry. DC Black Pride was also a catalyst for the national Black Pride movement, inspiring more than 30 other annual celebrations around the country. Consider donating to the Center for Black Equity -- an organization committed to supporting the Black LGBTQ+ community.

Order to go (or sit outside and use caution)

We know that you’re tired of trying to come up with new recipes to make with all those cans of beans, so why not opt instead for some takeout that will also benefit your local LGBTQ+ owned bars and restaurants?

Hank’s Oyster Bar, for instance, now has two locations open for contactless takeout and delivery, Dupont Circle and Alexandria, and is even working with local seafood suppliers to provide patrons with a restaurant quality experience at home. Looking for the booze? Check out popular U Street destination Nellie’s to-go window for grab and walk libations (which must be ordered with at least one food item), such as jello shots, alco-pops, and boozy slushies.

According to DC’s Phase One of reopening the city, restaurants with outdoor seating spaces are also now allowed to serve patrons out in the open air. So that means places like Uproar and The Dirty Goose are now offering rooftop table service with a maximum of six people at each table, and Number Nine’s patio is similarly open for outdoor bookings.

Support local queer artists

The bars might be closed but the show must go on, henny. Not only has the popular gay dive Trade helped create the Queer Artists Collective to raise funds for queer artists, it’s also produced two virtual drag shows featuring their performers doing live-streamed drag on Twitter -- so far raising over $3,000 for the general fund in addition to the tips received by individual performers during the show.

Trade co-owner Ed Bailey says the bar has plenty planned for the upcoming weeks, and if you want to make sure not to miss the next performance you can follow them on Twitter or Facebook. Also make sure to keep an eye on the social feeds of local publication Brightest Young Things, which recently threw a Zoom Pride concert for singer-songwriters Heather Mae and Crys Matthews.

Purchase gift cards and merch

Unfortunately, most gay bars in the city have been forced to close, and those which do not serve food aren’t allowed to do to-go orders. But, not surprisingly, the bars have gotten creative and are still providing ways that the DC community can help support staff during such a trying time.

The Dirty Goose has virtual gift cards available for future purchases with 100 percent of the proceeds going towards their employees as tips, and Hank’s Oyster Bar is also selling gift cards as well as employee relief t-shirts.

Nellie’s has a post on its Facebook with the Venmo account information for all of its staff and drag queens, and Pitchers and A League of Her Own have specially made support shirts.

Take a history lesson

Take the opportunity while we’re all at home to dig into some important LGBTQ+ history, so by the time you participate in Pride Week trivia night by Red Bear Brewing and Queer Trivia by A League of Her Own, you’ll be able to school the competition.

First, check out the Library of Congress, which offers access to queer research guides and iconic footage, like from the first Pride march in New York City after the Stonewall Riots. For a dose of local LGBTQ+ history, pay a visit to the DC Public Library’s digital archive of the Washington Blade as well as its online collection of Women in the Life, a ’90s magazine written for the Black lesbian community.

Shop the rainbow

We hereby grant you permission to indulge in the joy of online shopping, equipped with the knowledge that your purchase may help to keep one of your favorite LGBTQ+ businesses from shuttering for good. For those missing the bar scene, have happy hour in your living room tonight with a bottle of Republic Restoratives Civic Vodka or Rodham Rye. The distillery is even throwing in a free bottle of hand cleaner with each purchase.

Local favorite vintage home furnishings store Miss Pixie’s is also closed due to regulations, but don’t let that deter you from checking out its wares online, or purchasing a gift card for future use. And after you philanthropically impulse buy a new credenza, cover it in candles by J Squared Naturals -- a company started by a couple of Jeffs (literally), one of which is an immigrant from the Philippines, and the other a service-disabled U.S. Air Force veteran.

You can also now show your pride off via Zoom while decked out in the official #StillWe gear from Capital Pride Alliance, from their rainbow backpacks to t-shirts and mugs. 

Want one more easy way to support your local LGBT-owned businesses? This one is free—by showing them your support on social media. For the many shops and bars that have locked up their doors for who knows how much longer, hitting the follow button and sending a few kind words of support goes a much longer way than you might think.

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Austa Somvichian-Clausen covers dining and lifestyle for Thrillist and InsideHook, as well as equality and accessibility for The Hill. She's just as proud to call herself a cat mom to Butter as she is to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community.