WorldPride is headed for Washington, DC – and it could be one of the most impactful yet
Washington, DC will host WorldPride in 2025, and the timing couldn’t be better.
The first WorldPride was held in Rome, in 2000, to the unbridled fury of the Vatican – Pope John Paul II notoriously expressed his “bitterness” to what he called an “offense to the Christian values of a city that is so dear to the hearts of Catholics across the world”.
The second edition, 2006’s WorldPride Jerusalem, was met with resistance and threats of violence. Eventually, the parade was cancelled and a rally was held at a stadium, which was more easily protected. Since then, celebrations have been held in cities such as London, New York and Toronto, where pushback has been relatively limited.
After this year’s WorldPride in Sydney, the next will be held in Washington, DC in 2025 (the event goes from biennial to annual thereafter). It has the potential to be the most politically charged in some time.
On 20 January, 2025, either Joe Biden or a new, Republican president will be inaugurated. There is every chance WorldPride will take place a stone’s throw from Donald Trump’s White House – despite his recent indictment, recent polls suggest he would beat Biden in the popular vote, should he become the Republican nominee.
I recently travelled to DC for Capital Pride, which was, in many ways, a warm-up for 2025. The people I spoke to knew there were challenges on the horizon – just weeks later, the Supreme Court would strike a blow against LGBTQ+ rights, ruling that a Christian web designer could lawfully refuse service to queer couples, and the 2024 election weighed heavily on some.
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Those who had assembled in DC were there to celebrate – the weekend was more about party than protest, but it felt necessary. With so many intent on sliding back LGBTQ+ rights in America, the opportunity to share some joy, to let loose while surrounded by community and allies, was one that was seized upon. But protest was never far away.
The day after the parade, a festival took place, overlooking Capitol Hill. Acts including Monet X Change and Idina Menzel gave stirring speeches in support of drag queens and trans youth, in light of Republican states legislating against the freedoms of both groups. It was these moments that received the biggest cheers – though, admittedly, Idina’s “Defying Gravity” came pretty close.
On the day of the parade itself, its route was lined with messages of support for trans youth, demands for better access to gender-affirming healthcare, and t-shirts mocking the ongoing far-right obsession with undermining queer lives (“I drank one Bud Light and now I’m a bottom” being a particular highlight).
The recent Supreme Court ruling made it clear that no matter the outcome of the 2024 election, LGBTQ+ Americans will be forced to fight for basic humanity for quite some time.
If Joe Biden loses the election to a Republican, regardless of whether it’s Trump or Ron DeSantis, things will get very bad, very quickly. If he wins, there will still be a conservative-dominated Supreme Court to contend with, as well as anti-LGBTQ+ governors, state legislators and judges around the country.
The symbolism of Pride taking place on the president’s doorstep this June was powerful. In two year’s time, it’ll be even more so. With the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans under siege, WorldPride could be a golden opportunity to show the world the strength of the community.
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