Early Sunday morning on Pennsylvania Avenue, I commiserated briefly with a fatigued Capital Pride volunteer who half-jokingly wondered, ''Why do I do this to myself every year?'' It's a question I know well myself, and it's why I consider Pride in much the same way I view writing — something that's often less enjoyable in the doing than it is in the having done.
In short, it's very hard work. But then the people begin to fill the streets and music pulses from the stage, and the work makes that somewhat magical transition into fun. Fun with a purpose, but still fun.
This issue is filled with photos and reminders of the 2011 Capital Pride Parade and Festival — and the website is almost overstuffed with additional photos as well as video coverage — so here I'll just offer a few small observations of my own Pride experience.
— I remain amazed at the fervor inspired by the gaily rainbow-colored beads thrown from our Metro Weekly parade contingent and so many others. I felt like I should have pointed out that the beads are not actually made from gold or precious gems, but I imagine the only response I would have gotten is, ''Oh my God, beads! Beads! More BEADS!!!!''
Of course, that crazy enthusiasm is one of the reasons I love the parade. Another reason is getting to march with my Metro Weekly staff, our Next Generation Award winners and our Coverboy of the Year. I want to give a quick but special thank you to BMW of Sterling, which for the past three years has made sure our special guests ride in the parade with style.
— Every year I meet new people at the festival, which is reason enough to keep coming back. But even better is getting to reconnect with people I've not seen in ages. Whether catching up on what we've missed or reminiscing about what we've done, it's always like a giant family reunion. My only regret is that the pressure of the day, with thousands of people streaming by the booth, those meetings are sometimes too short.
— Working for Metro Weekly and being a member of a number of LGBT community groups, I know that Pride season is often a challenge because so many volunteers have so many commitments to multiple organizations and causes. Yet, every year, our community groups and LGBT-owned businesses are out in force. None of that would ever happen without volunteers who bring a serious passion to the community.
That goes for all the Capital Pride Parade and Festival volunteers as well. These giant events are not easy to pull off and never go exactly as planned, but everything worked, which is something they should be proud of.
— Finally, the most inspiring moment of the weekend for me was standing on the main stage looking out on the throngs of people filling Pennsylvania Avenue as we coordinated our cover shot for this week's issue. So many of us ready, willing and able to come out to celebrate our community; so many of us making the most direct and simple statement of equality, that we're here, we're public, and we will not be pushed back into the closet.
That's what I take away from a weekend of Pride. That and a hell of a lot of beads.