The Capital Pride Parade returned to D.C. on Saturday with a renewed focus on community and activism.
But the celebration was cut short after rumors of an active shooter and a shooting in Dupont Circle spread, including on social media, and prompted panic.
D.C. Fire said seven people were being treated for injuries incurred when they were trampled or knocked over as people fled the area.
More than 200 contingents representing nonprofits, community organizations, companies and government agencies flooded the 1.5-mile parade route through Dupont and Logan circles starting at 4:30 p.m.
The celebration drew thousands of revelers clad in rainbows to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, non-binary friends and neighbors and celebrate the whole spectrum of sexuality and identity.
Parade grand marshal Brandon Wolf told News4, "It's not just about rainbow logos on Bank of America. It's really about, what are we doing to move the community forward?"
Wolf said that although pride has become a spectacular, fun and popular event, it's still a protest. Indeed, this year's theme "shhOUT: Past, Present & Proud," aims in part to celebrate the event's activist roots.
Members of the FX series "Pose," which dives into the 1980s ball culture in New York, led the parade alongside Wolf, D.C. transgender activist Earline Budd and Matt Easton, who made headlines when he came out as gay during his valedictorian speech at Brigham Young University.
It's a monumental year in the history of LGBTQ rights. June 28 marks 50 years since the Stonewall riots, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York City's West Village clashed with police officers who came to raid the club. Several nights of protest followed, igniting the gay rights movement.
"Yes, progress has been made realistically, intellectually. But emotionally... it's hard to say," said Donald Burch III. Burch will accept the Bill Miles Award this year for his efforts to support Capital Pride.
Anti-gay hate crimes ticked up in recent years. More than 30 transgender women have been killed in the past two years, a majority of them women of color. This week, a lesbian couple was physically attacked on a London bus allegedly for refusing a group of teens' demands they kiss.
Budd, a transgender woman of color herself, says her activism is fueled by a desire to protect others from "what Earline Budd went through."
"We still have a long ways to go yet," Budd told News4.
On Saturday, however, organizers hoped to form a bridge between past struggles and hope for the guture.
"To recognize how far we have come in the 50 years since Stonewall, we must remember our history and work towards imagining our futures. These Grand Marshals epitomize what it means to be engaged with the struggles, needs, and hopes of the growing and changing LGBTQ+ community," Ryan Bos, executive director of Capital Pride Alliance, said in a statement.
The whole month of June is packed with events, parties and activism opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies.