Back in 1991, the population of Olympia was seven-tenths of what it is now, and stunning social paradigm shifts remained over the visible horizon. Legal, same-sex marriage in Washington State was a generation away — yet our town was already demonstrating its support of what came to be known as the queer or LGBTQ+ community. That was the year Olympia launched Capital City Pride, the first festival of its kind in any Northwestern community this small. Each year now, the Sunday parade entertains and inspires some 15,000 spectators.
Capital City Pride commemorates the rebellion at Stonewall Inn that galvanized the LGBTQ+ rights movement. “This year in particular, being the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot,” notes Gina Thompson, parade coordinator since 2015, “it’s an important year to focus on, not only the achievements, but the roots and recognizing where we came from. And that happens to be our theme for 2019: It’s ‘Remember Our Roots.’ ”
Thompson expects at least 70 organizations to participate in this year’s parade. She loves the event’s small-town, homespun feel, adding, “It’s family-friendly. It’s just a really unique place to come and be a part of the community.”
Capital City Pride is overseen and fiscally supported by Olympia Rainbow Center. “My goal,” says Thompson, “is to create a space of visibility and community where all queer folks can be seen and feel safe.”
Capital City Pride Parade
Viewing stand, Sylvester Park,
Legion Way and Capitol Way, Olympia
Noon Sunday, June 23