Dupont Circle in NW Washington, DC was once coined "the gayest place in America." These days there are many neighborhoods where LGBTQ community members call home, but Dupont Circle remains a special place, and residents are celebrating pride in a special way.
While almost every large jurisdiction in the US has permanent rainbow crosswalks, DC did not - until this week.
Randy Downs, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, says "DC, being a very queer place, we’ve been asking for them. However, there’s been challenges with the federal government and partners, since the people who make the laws live here and because we don’t have statehood, we’re held to a different standard and so we haven’t been able to have permanent crosswalks because of that.
"Three years ago, the community came together with Mayor Bowser and the Department of Transportation to paint temporary rainbow and trans crosswalks … done with chalk spray paint. We did several streets in NW and ever since, for pride, we paint two or three or more as a community led effort. This year the Department of Transportation worked with federal partners on a permanent rainbow crosswalk installation.
"We are very excited that we have a permanent reminder of the history of this neighborhood, and the battles that the queer community have fought. There are many more challenges we have to overcome as we move forward.
"This design is special – it’s the first of its kind in the world. It includes the progress pride flag, so the black, brown, blue, and pink triangle, plus the traditional rainbow design – a more inclusive design of the queer community so we are excited to be a host and sponsor for it.”
This year's Pride Month has different energy thanks to Coronavirus, but neighbors are still celebrating.
Tonee Grayson says, “I’m here in DC this year for Pride Month. So sad we have to do it low key this year with COVID. I’ve been doing this since the beginning – it used to be just one block on 19th Street and now it’s moved up to such a big thing. I was in New York last year for the 50th anniversary. I was at Stonewall (a pub in NYC known as the birthplace of the LGBTQ movement,) the night it got raided so I had to go. It was very peaceful.”
Henry, a Dupont Circle resident, says the celebration is still very important. “Pride Month is very important especially for young people to know what we’ve overcome and it’s much more mainstream now, especially young people in small towns. Just being out there, you know. We’re still fighting.”
These days, there are many other neighborhoods throughout the city where the LGBTQ community live and play, but with its myriad sights and all around fun vibe, Dupont Circle is still a place to see and be seen.