WASHINGTON - As the District prepares for Pride Weekend organizers are promising safety at festivities across the city amid anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to flood the streets of D.C. for the annual Pride Parade and groups like the Capital Pride Alliance tell FOX 5 measures are in place to ensure everyone can have fun without any fear.
"D.C. is known as having the largest population per capita of LGBTQA+ individuals so as you can imagine a very strong, a community with lots of flavor," said Ryan Bos, the Executive Director of Capital Pride Alliance.
This year’s Pride Parade is the largest ever with more than 300 groups participating and between 300,000 to 500,000 people expected to attend.
With that though, could come increased violence toward the LGBTQ community.
Recently the Department of Homeland Security says anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has grown significantly.
"Although there may be threats online, none of those are credible threats and we have seen an uptick in anti-hate comments on social media," said Japer Bowles, the Director of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office.
You can expect to see a huge turnout of federal and local law enforcement agencies as well as first responders and private security at the festivities this weekend.
"There’s folks that will be out there that you will not see that are a part of the safety unit," said Bowles. "I just want folks to know that just because you don’t see something or a police officer there along the routes, the festivals, know there are security personnel and public safety folks near."
The festivities come at a time when the LGBTQ community is on high alert.
The FBI recently found about 20% of all hate crimes in 2021 were linked to sexual orientation or gender.
"This is nothing new for our community. We’ve been fighting counter-protesters, people who hate and devalue us as humans," said Bos. "We have to stay vigilant, that’s why our theme this year peace, love, revolution we need peace, we need love, but unfortunately we need to have a revolution around not ensuring that maintain our rights and increase the safety of our community."
Capital Pride Alliance says they’ll also be highlighting groups in their own community that are more at risk right now and despite the fear of violence, they’ll celebrate!
"We have the right to feel love, we have the right to enjoy ourselves and be happy," said Bos.
If you were wondering, yes the Pride Parade and other events are still on despite air quality concerns.
Also, organizers say don’t forget that World Pride will be held in DC in 2025.