Pickets, Protests, and Parades: The History of Gay Pride in Washington.

In June of 2025, Washington will host WorldPride 2025. The date will intersect with several important anniversaries in the History of Pride in Washington: the 50th Anniversary of the first Gay Pride Day Block Party, the 60th Anniversary of the first picket at the White House for Homosexual Rights, and the 25th Anniversary of the first Presidential Proclamation of LGBTQ Pride Month. It is also Rainbow History Project’s 25th anniversary.

The Rainbow History Project has launched an 18-month research project to create a public display on the evolution of Pride activities: “Pickets, Protests, and Parades: The History of Gay Pride in Washington.”

The exhibit will tell the origin story of local Pride activities and how the pickets and protests of the 1960s led to parades and celebrations of the 2020s—and all the politics and drama in between. The research will focus on the voices of the event organizers and include the critics of Pride and the significance of the intersection of Pride and other movements for equal rights and liberation.

RHP needs the community’s help to make the exhibit a success! Do you have iconic DC Pride photos to contribute? Do you know someone who should record their oral history about organizing Pride events? Are you interested in volunteering on the Pride Exhibit Committee? Can you donate funds to make it all happen to the Rainbow History Project?

During the first six months of the project, the research team has identified 10 broad themes that will be covered in the exhibit. On Sunday, June 9, 2024, at the Capital Pride Street Festival we will have a large pavilion and present our themes. From 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on America’s Mainstreet, Pennsylvania Avenue NW, we will be located in the Red Section, R214 and R213.

Exhibition Research Themes

We have identified these concepts behind the History of Gay Pride in Washington:

  • “Picking our Battles and Reminding the Nation” (1965-1970)
  • “Gay and Proud” (1970-1975)
  • “A Bookstore Blocks the Street: Gay Pride Day” (1975-1979)
  • “The Third World Conference Marches on Washington” (1979)
  • “Pride’s Day at the Beach” (1980-1986)
  • “Dawn of a New Era of Pride Politics” (1987-1992)
  • “The Evolution of Visibility” (1993-1995)
  • “Freedom on America’s Main Streets” (1995-2008)
  • “A New Millennium, a New Alliance” (2008-2020)
  • “A Vice President Marches at Our Side” (2021-???)

Upcoming Events

Our 7/23 event will share an update on the project. We’ll share:
–an overview of the project and where we are on the timeline
–how you can get involved
–our approaches to visuals and testimonials
–the research themes we’ve discovered over the last 8 months
–our plans to recruit a production team
–the permits and budget
— information on how you can get involved

Doors open at 6
Program: 6:30 – 7:30
Social: 7:30 – 8:00
Sign up here (registration not required).

Get Involved with our Pride Exhibit

How will you tell your community’s story? Who should be included in the exhibit? Why? Do you have photos or papers for the archives? Want to volunteer? Donate money? What will the future of Pride be?

Exhibits need visuals!
If you have old photos or images we should include, please take a picture with your phone upload it to our Google Photos account. Contact Colette for next steps.

Exhibits need testimonials!

We are telling the story in the voices of the organizers and need:

  • Anyone who organized Pride events to share their memories
  • Volunteers to record the interviews and ask good questions!
  • Can you help find press coverage or other historic writings?

Email Will and Delaney to get involved with our oral history project.

Exhibits need collections!

If you have old documents, magazines, newsletters, paperwork, audio visual recordings, or ephemera that we should include, please contact Frankie, Deputy Director of Archiving and fill out this form.

Or you can donate here! Or, if you would like to volunteer, join our mailing list or follow our instagram!

Past Presentations

Rainbow History Project team will provide public updates on the exhibit project in the year to come. Community listening sessions are an integral part of telling the story and recruiting volunteers. Get in touch to host a session. To date we have presented:

On May 28, 2024, in conjunction with DC Black Pride weekend, activists Deacon Maccubbin and Jose Gutierrez spoke about their experiences as founders of Pride. Deacon founded Gay Pride Day in 1975 and Jose founded DC Latino Pride in 2007.

On April 6th, the DC community got a sneak preview of the exhibit themes at the DC History Conference. Activists Paul Kuntzler, Leigh Mosley, Lynne Brown, Chris Dyer and Kenya Hutton spoke about their experiences and provided feedback on the research agenda.

In 1972, members of the Gay Liberation Front DC hosted a week-long Gay May Day to commemorate their participation in the Mayday Protests of 1971. This week of activities was a precursor to DC’s first Gay Pride Block Party in 1975. Courtesy, Rainbow History Project, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On April 10, 1989 hundreds of thousands of people marched on the Capitol to defend Abortion Rights. Lesbian activists participated in planning and leading the march. Courtesy Julie A. Salter Collection, Rainbow History Project, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Asians and Friends of Washington participate in the 1990 Pride Parade. Courtesy Arnold Selvala Collection, Rainbow History Project, Inc.

 

 

 

Revelers at the Gay Pride Day Block Party on 20th St. NW, 1978. Courtesy, Rainbow History Project, Inc.