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Remembering Bernie Delia, Capital Pride Pioneer, Dead at 68

 June 24, 2024

Bernie Delia, a pioneering LGBTQ+ advocate and founding board member of D.C.'s Capital Pride Alliance, passed away on Friday in the District at the age of 68.

His death marks the loss of a significant figure in the LGBTQ+ community, remembered for his extensive contributions and leadership, WTOP News reported.

Capital Pride Alliance Mourns a Founding Member

Bernie Delia, a founding member of D.C.'s Capital Pride Alliance board, passed away unexpectedly, confirmed by Capital Pride DC, which highlighted his long history of advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.

Delia's career included significant milestones such as being one of the first openly gay appointees to the U.S. Department of Justice and serving as a public servant in the Clinton White House. He contributed substantially to the field as an appellate attorney during his legal career.

Capital Pride DC stated that Delia has now reunited with his husband, Doug, and their angel, Lani. The cause of Delia's death was not immediately available.

Leadership and Legacy in LGBTQ+ Advocacy

Delia's transformation of Capital Pride into one of the nation's largest and most inclusive Pride celebrations was instrumental. His efforts shaped the vibrant and diverse nature of the event, truly reflecting the LGBTQ+ community.

Ryan Bos, the current Executive Director of Capital Pride Alliance, expressed his deep personal connection and admiration for Delia. Bos told WTOP, "I could share anything with him. It wasn't just a collegial relationship but a friendship and a kinship. He was solid, he was steady."

The Capital Pride organization stated, "He understood the value, purpose, and urgency of the LGBTQ+ community working together and supporting one another. He poured his soul into our journey toward World Pride — a goal of his from the start of his involvement with Capital Pride."

Impact and Tributes from Leaders

Several leaders in the District memorialized Delia's work. Mayor Muriel Bowser stated, "Bernie leaves behind an incredible legacy in our city and country — through his life and advocacy, he helped pave a path for LGBTQIA+ residents in our city and within the federal government to live and work openly and proudly."

Bowser also noted, "He helped transform Capital Pride into one of the nation's largest and most inclusive Pride celebrations — a true reflection and representation of our people and values. That is the D.C. that Bernie helped build and that he leaves behind."

Delia's advocacy extended to World Pride 2025, where he served as co-chair. His work kept spirits high, even when the right to host World Pride in D.C. was occasionally lost.

A Personal Legacy for Ryan Bos

Ryan Bos aims to continue Delia's work for World Pride 2025 in D.C. He emphasized Delia's commitment, saying, "He always shows up. And he's there. He gives it his all — 100% — and he is someone that I trust 110%. And I was extremely excited to finish this journey to World Pride with him. So that's what hurts right now."

"He was one of the individuals that advocated hard that we should still go for it," Bos added. His determination and passion were vital to maintaining momentum for World Pride 2025.

Bos hopes others will step up further to impact the LGBTQ+ community following Delia's leadership. "I hope that — and I know that — there are folks in our community that are committed and passionate. Though having someone like Bernie with his experience, his different lens, and just, you know, being involved in so many facets of our community. It's a huge loss," Bos told WTOP.

Conclusion: A Lasting Legacy

Bernie Delia's unexpected passing leaves a significant void in the LGBTQ+ community. His pioneering work and unwavering dedication transformed Capital Pride into a national symbol of inclusion and celebration.

Leaders and community members remember Delia for his advocacy, leadership, and the profound personal connections he fostered. As the LGBTQ+ community moves forward, Delia's legacy will continue to inspire and guide future generations.