The sun shone down on the 2022 Pride Festival in Washington as the LGBTQ community and allies celebrated the culmination of Pride Month.
Thousands of people doused in glitter, rainbow paint and LGBTQ flags gallivanted down Pennsylvania Avenue on June 12, including members of Bet Mishpachah, Washington’s LGBTQ synagogue.
Allan Armus was one of many Jews who spent the afternoon going to different booths run by a myriad of organizations and running into friends. While cooling himself with a paddle fan that read “I schvitz glitter,” passersby sprinkled glitter on him.
“I’m having a good time here today,” Armus said. “That’s what I’m doing.”
James Radack, chair of Bet Mishpacha’s the social justice committee, was helping run the synagogue’s booth, which it shared with the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center.
Handing out flags and stickers that read “chutzpah,” Radack said they wanted to show passersby searching for a spiritual home that they could find it with Bet Mishpachah.
This was the first fully in-person Pride Festival after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Radack said he could feel the energy coming back over the weekend, not just with the festival on Sunday, but with the parade on Saturday.
“People are just happy to be out, happy to be celebrating different things,” Radack said. “I think, at the same time, people a little worried about moving backwards in terms of gay rights, as well as women’s rights and many other things. So I think it was really helpful and important to just be out there.”
Armus agreed, saying some things have improved, while others have not.
“But the fact that it’s such a big event that the TV stations are broadcasting from here, that’s so wonderful,” said Armus, who has been involved in the Pride Festival since the 1980s. “When we first started, nobody would pay notice for this. It was a secret. And now it’s in public. Channel 9 has been broadcasting stuff about Pride for two weeks now.”
Jonathan Edelman, committee co-chair for GLOE — The Kurlander Program for GLBTQ Outreach & Engagement, said the whole weekend was positive, beginning with a Friday night Shabbat service in partnership with Bet Mishpachah and a bagel brunch before the festival on Sunday.
Edelman said what excites him the most is seeing people lined up to watch the parade, especially young kids and families.
“It was nice to see that so many young kids can be out and proud at such a young age,” said Edelman, who added that he did not come out until he was a senior in high school.
“And then also be able to see other people have role models and see those people march proudly and openly.”
While he said the weekend was “fun and festive,” the visibility aspect is the most important thing to him.
“Part of the reason I didn’t come out until my senior year is because I was so uncertain of what it would mean,” Edelman said. “I didn’t grow up in D.C., but I went to Jewish day school. There was no one else out at my Jewish day school. So I didn’t know how people would receive it or if I would be safe. And not knowing or seeing people in those spaces can have a negative effect on people.”
Attendee Sarah Gladkov-Shachar said the weekend was a representation of love.
“I don’t care who you love,” Gladkov-Shachar said. “I don’t care who you go to bed with at night. It doesn’t matter. Love is love, and we should all be giving love to each other. … And love is what is going to carry us on through the future.”