July 5, 2015

D.C.'s Palisades Fourth of July Parade -- We've Had a Gay/Lesbian Band for Decades!

I've lived in DC's Palisades neighborhood for over 50 years. As readers of this blog know, I love it. It's like living in a small hillside town. Yet it's just a 15-minute drive from here to the White House.

Every Fourth of July, we have a parade down MacArthur Boulevard, the Palisades' main street. Each year, I applaud as the HD Johnson van passes by. HD Johnson is my plumber. I'll bet no other city in the U.S. has a parade that includes the local plumber!

And here's my tax accountant:

DC's Different Drummers
Nearly 40 years ago, the Palisades parade got its first marching band -- the "Different Drummers," the city's gay/lesbian band. I know it was close to 40 years ago without looking it up. When it made its first appearance, I was married, living as a closeted gay with my wife and two kids. I didn't "come out" until the fall of 1977.

Our family watched the parade every year. I vividly recall how stunned I was to see a clearly gay drum major coming down the boulevard followed by the gay band. I didn't dare take a photo of the band back then.

The photo that leads off this post was taken two years ago. The banner is held by two gay Palisades residents. I didn't manage to capture the band on that photo. So here's another photo from some earlier year that shows the band.

Politics Is Always Part of the Parade
While the Palisades is a small town in many ways, it's still part of our nation's capital and part of Washington's Ward 3. Just about anybody can take part in our parade -- a unique feature. Here are a few examples.

I took this photo during one of the many years when Marion Barry was mayor:

This shot proves the old adage "the more things change, the more they remain the same." I suspect I took this picture in 1996, the year of Bill Clinton's re-election.

Maybe we'll see this version of Bill and Hillary in next year's parade.

Old Faithful
Through all my decades as a Palisades resident, my attendance record at this parade must be  close to 100%. Here I am at the end of Saturday's parade:

The horsemen you see behind me always mark the end of the parade. Hmmm. Hope this isn't symbolic.


Anonymous said...

FYI: The first and last photos show up but the middle photos have placeholder tags, e.g. "Displaying July4thleadingparade.jpg" on blank spaces...

Looking very fly, John--Love the shirt!!

Elizabeth Elliott
Foggy Bottom

John Schappi said...

Thanks for the catch and the complement! Photos have been restored.

NoFixedAddress said...

Very cool to see a picture of me (holding one side of the banner) from those days.

[red head with mustache]