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Changes abound at this year's Pride events: For-profit Chocolate City Fest and a Latino gathering to premiere


Washington Blade - May 16, 2008

Two new events are joining the Pride season lineup in Washington - one marking an acrimonious split with a local institution, the other a first for the Latino community - while the region's largest celebration undergoes major changes.

Capital Pride continues its gradual change in management. Under an agreement announced in March, Capital Pride Alliance, a new entity, will produce next year's event while Whitman-Walker Clinic, who has been involved with Pride since 1997 and handled it solely since 2003, continues to organize this year's festival and parade.

But the lines are blurred because the Alliance sprang from members of Whitman-Walker's Capital Pride Planning Committee.

"A lot of that with the transition is on hold for now as we shift to crunch time for this year's event," said Bernie Delia, spokesperson for the Alliance.

Capital Pride heroes, an annual list of community leaders honored at the Pride event, have been announced. This year's honorees are Metro Weekly's Sean Bugg, the late Noi Chudnoff of Go Mama Go!, Freddie Lutz of Freddie's Beach Bar and Restaurant in Crystal City, Va., GLAA's Bob Summersgill and SaVanna Wanzer, founder of Capital Trans Pride, another Pride event, this one operating under the Capital Pride umbrella (the second annual Capital Trans Pride is slated for June 7 from noon to 5 p.m. at Foundry United Methodist Church).

Capital Pride Director Dave Mallory said plans for this year's event are going well.

"I get nostalgic periodically knowing this is our last year but I'm really too wrapped up in this year's event to think much about it," Mallory said.

Capital Pride is set for June 6-15 with the annual parade slated for Saturday, the 14th and the street festival following on Sunday, the 15th. This year's theme is "history, vision, legacy." Visit for more information.

Not nearly so amicable, though, is the relationship between organizers of 18-year-old D.C. Black Pride and a new separate event that will compete for attendees over Memorial Day weekend.

Gay event promoter Daryl Wilson plans Chocolate City Fest as an annual event but this is its first year. Wilson previously scheduled parties under the D.C. Black Pride umbrella but, making good on a plan he announced last year, he's branched out on his own.

"I worked alongside D.C. Pride for many, many years," Wilson said in an e-mail. "I learned a lot and also witnessed a lot but it was time for me to move on � I wish my fellow colleagues the best with all their events." Several involved with planning D.C. Black Pride say that although it's Wilson's prerogative to start his own event, scheduling his event simultaneously with theirs is unduly combative and he'll ultimately fail.

"[Wilson's] certainly thrown down the gauntlet," said Earl Fowlkes, president of the Black Pride planning committee from 1997 to 2004. "It's one on one. It might have some impact on us, but Black Pride isn't going to die. We've got Fantasia. He's bringing in Stephanie Mills. A lot of young people don't even know who she is. She's old school." Wilson was never on the Black Pride planning committee but worked with its members as an events promoter. Neither party would say why the collaboration ended.

Wilson didn't respond to several phone messages, citing in a lengthy e-mail to the Blade his busy schedule getting Chocolate City Fest launched.

Fowlkes said Wilson had announced his intentions last year.

"I didn't take him seriously, though," Fowlkes said. "I've seen this kind of thing happen in other cities." Courtney Snowden, this year's D.C. Black Pride president, said negotiations with Wilson, whom she said she's only met briefly, were not combative.

"Our most significant concern is that people will be confused," Snowden said. "They might end up at a different event and expect the same high quality, not realizing it's a different event." Some in the local gay community have contended that Wilson's for-profit events are confused with D.C. Black Pride's non-profit mission.

Fowlkes said Wilson has given "a few dollars" to D.C. Black Pride charities over the years but "not a lot." Fowlkes said some of Wilson's checks to the organization bounced.

"This was always one of our disagreements with him," Fowlkes said. "He never let us see his 990s. There was no way to account for what he was saying. All we ever had to go on was his word." Fowlkes said the difference is important.

"Each person will have a decision to make," he said. "It comes down to do you support a community event or a for-profit event. I'm confident people will ultimately make the right decision." Wilson's web site for Chocolate City Fest says "proceeds from all events will be donated to area HIV and AIDS organizations." Last year about 3,000 attended Black Pride, according to planners. In earlier years the event would approach 10,000 in attendance, Fowlkes said. He cited Memorial Day events in other cities that have begun in recent years, citing that as many as half of D.C. Black Pride attendees traditionally have come from out of town. To bolster attendance this year, Black Pride is moving events outside again after meeting at the Washington Convention Center the last 12 years.

For a full list of D.C. Black Pride events, visit This year's Black Pride theme is "empowered and poppin." For details on Chocolate City Fest, visit

New this year is D.C. Latino Pride, starting modestly with a one-day event on June 13. It will begin with a reception at HRC headquarters on Rhode Island Ave., N.W. and will culminate with a "Latino Pride Dance" at Club Fuego on New York Avenue.

Local gay Latino activist Jose Gutierrez of the Latino LGBT History Project said of the inaugural event, "It was just time." To find out more about D.C. Latino Pride, call Gutierrez at 202-588-0067 or e-mail him at The theme for D.C. Latino Pride is "Our voice, our time - nuestra voz, nuestro tiempo."


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Information in this article was accurate in May 16, 2008. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.