Photos: Capital Pride Parade 2016
BYT Staff | Jun 13, 2016 | 10:30AM |

Photos By Nicholas Karlin, Maya Moore, The Usual Shibas

The Capital Pride Parade was on Saturday, June 11. It seems inappropriate to post photos without acknowledging the tragedy at Pulse in Orlando. Our BYGays editor published a post on Facebook on Sunday that we’d like to share here before celebrating D.C. Pride.

Pride Parade 2016-102

I don’t often admit that I’m from Florida. It’s half-heartedly a joke about escaping state stereotypes. But, it’s mostly because of the traumatic homophobia I experienced in coming out. It’s still painful.

Straight friends might not understand the refuge that gay clubs offer marginalized communities. “It’s like crossing over into the looking glass in Wonderland. You go in there and you feel 100% right,” the patron tells the documentarian in Paris is Burning. That’s still true. I remember sitting in my car for two hours working up the courage to go into my first gay bar in Sarasota. Once I walked in, I felt all the societal pressure, and shaming, and angst slide away.

>>>>>>>>>>>> Here is a Featured Event >>>>>>>>>>>>
Thursday 03/30
Carlos Mencia from Mind of Mencia @ Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse
$30 / $30
Carlos Mencia is undoubtedly one of today’s most popular entertainers and comics. Whether it is man-on-the-street interviews, studio comedy, commercial parodies, nationwide sold-out tours, or films, Mencia demonstrates an extraordinary ability to connect with a wide and diverse audience. Mencia comes from a humble background, born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the 17th of 18 children. His parents sent him to the United States when he was about three months old, where he was raised in Maravilla Projects in Los Angeles, California by his aunt and uncle. In his early teens, Mencia moved back to Honduras because his family wanted him to avoid the destructive gang culture of East Los Angeles. When Mencia later returned to Los Angeles, he showed such educational prowess that he was immediately promoted to the tenth grade. Soon after, he successfully graduated from Garfield High School. Mencia began his career doing stand-up on amateur night. After he found success on the L.A comedy circuit, Mencia was named “International Comedy Grand Champion” from Buscando Estrellas (the Latino version of Star Search). This led to appearances on “In Living Color,” “The Arsenio Hall Show,” “Moesha” and “An Evening at the Improv.” In 1994, he hosted the HBO comedy series “Loco Slam” and in 1998 he hosted “Funny is Funny!” on Galavision. Mencia released a comedy album in 2000 called “Take a Joke, America” that showcased his brand of humor. Mencia continued his journey up the comedy ladder by headlining “The Three Amigos” tour with Freddy Soto and Pablo Francisco in 2002, which sold out in record time around the United States. He was also featured in the independent films, “Outta Time” and “29 Palms” and starred in guest spots on “The Shield” and “The Bernie Mac Show,” among others. In 2002, he received a CableACE Award nomination for Best Stand-Up Comedy Special for his HBO special. That same year, Mencia was featured on “Comedy Central Presents.” Mencia remained busy and after the success of his solo dvd, “Carlos Mencia: Not For The Easily Offended,” “Mind of Mencia” went into development. The show was an instant hit and after the first season, Comedy Central signed Mencia back for his own original stand-up special, “Carlos Mencia: No Strings Attached.” The special was the first Comedy Central Stand-up Special DVD to achieve Platinum sales status. “Mind of Mencia” debuted on Comedy Central in early 2005. It became one of the strongest shows in the network’s history, averaging about 1.5 million total viewers. “Mind of Mencia” was executive produced by Carlos Mencia and Robert Morton (“Late Night with David Letterman”). In the summer of 2007, Mencia starred opposite Ben Stiller and Michelle Monaghan in the Farrelly Brothers’ hit feature film, THE HEARTBREAK KID (DreamWorks). In the fall of that year Mencia headlined a nationwide comedy tour titled “Carlos Mencia Live Presented by Bud Light.” The highly anticipated tour brought Mencia face-to-face with his fans from September 2007 through December 2007. Shortly thereafter, Mencia taped a new comedy special for Comedy Central, “Carlos Mencia: Performance Enhanced,” that aired in May 2008. Since 2007, every holiday season Mencia has embarked on a USO Tour to the Persian Gulf to entertain the troops serving overseas. For his 2008 trip, Mencia visited Kuwait to host “Operation MySpace,” an exclusive concert for American Troops in the Middle East alongside Jessica Simpson and The Pussycat Dolls. The special aired on FX in April 2008. Mencia’s 2009 USO tour had stops in Turkey, Kirkuk, Baghdad, Qatar, Afghanistan, and many other countries. In July 2008, Mencia began his tour, “At Close Range” at Red Rock Amphitheatre in Colorado. The tour was sponsored by Bud Light and co-promoted by Icon Entertainment and Live Nation. Larger than all of his previous tours, Mencia performed in 80 cities across the country. In the summer of 2009, he kicked off a nationwide comedy tour entitled “The Administration of Laughter” which brought him to excited audiences all around the country. In March 2010, Mencia starred in the family comedy OUR FAMILY WEDDING (FOX Searchlight) alongside America Ferrara and Forrest Whitaker. In the last couple years, Mencia chose to go back to his comedic roots, performing at a number of comedy stores throughout the country – allowing him to share his newest material with smaller and more intimate audiences.
>>>>>>>>>>>> Ok, back to the article! >>>>>>>>>>>>

In college, I’d slip my life between punk shows with straight friends in strip malls, and gay clubs with gay friends in Tampa and Orlando. That duality ended when I was outed next to Space Mountain as church members protesting Gay Days shouted my name and ironically, if poetically, tried to chase me from Tomorrowland back to Main Street U.S.A. Within a week of that experience, I lost my job, most of my friends, and much of my family. I left Florida soon after.

I wouldn’t have made it through that time if it wasn’t for these queer nightlife spaces and the friends I met there. These places are for us safety. The attack against Pulse is the fourth terrorist attack against an American gay bar I can casually remember offhand since coming out. There is a long history in our country of terrorizing these refuges of an already terrorized population.

After a tragedy, there’s a instinctual reaction to share a “Me too!” association with those involved. That’s understandable. We want to connect even if we accidentally make the tragedy about ourselves. I have to stop myself each time from doing it too. But, something here feels a bit different. I’ve struggled with if I should even share something here and have deleted this draft a dozen times since this morning. After all, this is certainly a “Me too!” post. But, I’m reminded of the pride flag whose rainbow is meant to represent our connection across backgrounds, geography, and space. Go into any gay bar in any country and a queer person will feel an instant connection with those inside. I still remember walking into a gay bar in Kyrgystan and exclaiming “this reminds me of Orlando!” We’re all connected here.

Pulse is a particular place that has brought me soothing in my own life. It’s a place that has helped me heal old wounds that I left untreated for too long. This is family, and this is family who has treated me well. But, even if you’ve never been to this particular club, if you’re a queer person I know that you instinctually feel Pulse as family too.

Florida is a different place than when I came out. Thank goodness. But, the same hatred which gunned down club patrons is still held and shouted in pockets all across the state. It’s still a legal basis to fire someone or deny them housing under state law. That still legally happens. Real people are still impacted. People still need these refuges. We still need them. We still need the community they create. We need their support. We need their love. So, I’m proud to stand with our family in Orlando. I’m proud to say that I’m a Floridian. And, I’m proud to say that it is places like Pulse which have helped make me the man I am today.

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