Warning: This report contains images and language that may offend some readers.
Hundreds gathered Saturday at Dupont Circle in Washington to watch the city’s Capital Pride Parade, sponsored by Marriott International.
The smell of marijuana hung in the air as hundreds of onlookers lounged on the grass and sidewalk, waiting for the parade to begin.
Onlookers as well as parade participants wore all sorts of strange, revealing outfits. Everywhere you turned, it seemed, there was a teenage girl in a bra and shorts, occasionally just a bikini, or a man wearing a dress, leotards, or other peculiar contraption.
Much more could be said about the D.C. Pride Parade, but here are nine of the most shocking things I saw:
1. Law Enforcement Support
While spectators waited for the parade to pass through Dupont Circle, police officers patrolled the area. Some wore “Pride-themed” sunglasses or stickers.
One officer rode a bicycle around Dupont Circle, waving an arm to signal the crowd to shout and scream louder as the parade advanced.
As this was going on, male parade announcers walked up and down a concrete median strip, shaking their hips as if they were models on a runway.
Later on, more police officers—as well as firefighters on their fire engines—participated in the parade.
2. Going Topless, Wearing Bondage Getups
The parade began with a group of about 20 motorcyclists, one of whom was a woman wearing no top to cover her colored breasts.
Among the motorcycists were men who were also shirtless, some wearing leather straps and wolf masks.
A few minutes later, a group with a banner reading “Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather” featured men wearing leather bondage gear and the occasional wolf mask.
One man with a ring in his nose wore nothing else but boots and leather straps, some of which covered his genitals as he paraded in front of children and their parents. (As he went by, I looked away as I took the photo—only to see the crowd feasting its eyes on him.)
3. Drag Queens Galore
Every couple of minutes, drag queens of both sexes and many ages marched by with various groups.
One drag queen appeared to be an older man in a wheelchair.
Others were dressed like members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the anti-Catholic LGBTQ group that is scheduled to be honored Friday at the Los Angeles Dodgers’ “Pride Night.”
4. Support From Political Leaders
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, in brief remarks at Dupont Circle, said: “We are proud to be a welcoming … home to the world’s largest gay population.”
The crowd cheered loudly as Bowser, a Democrat, spoke.
Other elected officials who walked in the parade included D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, and 10 more of the council’s 13 members (all of whom are Democrats except for two independents).
Also marching were Democrat Paul Strauss, the District’s longtime “shadow senator,” and representatives of the office of D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, a Democrat.
One man held a sign that read: “When s— got bad I got my gay ass elected.” (I don’t know who he is or what he got elected to.)
5. More Outlandish Outfits
Many of those in the parade wore multicolored, rainbow-themed costumes and other interesting fashion choices.
As for the man in the purple boots two photos down, I didn’t know what to think. Who or what was he trying to be?
6. A ‘Religious’ Presence
The number of churches participating in the parade shocked some spectators.
At one point, one woman in the crowd said, “Oh, my God, another one.”
She apparently couldn’t believe that Christians who should fight the sin of pride were eagerly joining this parade.
At the forefront of the self-identified religious groups was a group composed almost entirely of white men, carrying a sign reading “Dignity Washington: DC’s LGBT Catholics.”
One man in that group wore a black skirt with rainbow stripes and blue shirt over black clerical clothes and white collar. He also wore a rainbow-colored stole.
Another group identified itself with a banner saying “United Methodist Churches of the National Capital Area.”
Some in this group, apparently Methodist pastors, also wore rainbow stoles and held signs or wore shirts with variations of the message “This queer pastor loves you.”
Many in the self-identified faith groups held signs with other messages, including “Queer and Christian,” “God is love,” “God is a dyke,” and “Trans joy is a miracle.”
7. Strippers, Sexualized Dancing, Vulgar Signs
At one point, a woman ran from the crowd of spectators into the middle of the street and started slowly dancing with almost nothing on except a gold thong and bra.
An announcer went up to the woman and asked her to go back. I looked up to see her do one more weird dance movement before she ran back into the crowd. (I saw another announcer look down and shake his head, but I’m not sure if he was upset at the spectacle or laughing about it.)
At another point, another woman in a similar outfit (who was actually in the parade) began dancing in a sexually provocative manner. This involved shaking her rear end at the crowd as it cheered for more.
As the cheers grew louder, she and a man began dancing and mimicking sexual behaviors.
This happened right in front of where I stood, next to a few children.
Others in the parade wore similarly discomforting outfits.
Some held vulgarly worded signs such as “Big D— Energy” or T-shirts with messages such as “Fifty F—ing Years.”
8. Gay Couples and Parents
I saw over a dozen openly gay couples walking with their kids in strollers or showing affection for each other.
Some families with two moms or two dads expressed themselves with T-shirt messages such as “I’m Mommy, She’s Mama,” and “I’m Mama, She’s Mommy.”
Some parents held signs saying “Love My 2 Gay Kids” or bearing similar messages.
9. Embassies and Nationalities
Multiple nationalities participated in the Capital Pride Parade, either through embassies in the nation’s capital or through representation by a group with a banner proclaiming “European Union for LGBT+ Rights.”
Embassies represented included those of Switzerland, Canada, and Britain. Other marchers identified themselves as being from countries such as Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland.
One individual from the Netherlands held a sign that said, “First country to legalize gay marriage.”
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