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Bernie Delia, co-chair of World Pride 2025 and towering LGBTQ+ rights activist, is dead

LGBTQ rights advocate Bernie Delia dies World Pride 2025 organizer
portrait via Capital Pride Alliance

He was 68 years old.

Cwnewser

In the vibrant tapestry ofWashington, D.C.’s LGBTQ+ community, few threads have been as brilliantly woven as that of Bernie Delia, who passed away unexpectedly on Friday at the age of 68. Delia’s life was a masterclass in advocacy, leadership, and unwavering commitment to equality, leaving an indelible mark on the fabric of CapitalPride and beyond.

Delia, a founding member of the Capital Pride Alliance, began his tenure as board president in October 2011, coinciding with Ryan Bos’s start as executive director.

“He has been there through my entire Pride journey in this role and was my rock, friend, mentor, and confidant who I trusted 110 percent,” Bos told The Advocate. “He supported and contributed to the organization in many ways, creatively, through his experience as an attorney, communication skills, and his genuine passion for the role Pride can and should play in lifting the voices of our LGBTQ+ community.”

Delia was a trailblazer who broke barriers as one of the first out gay appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he was a prosecutor for 26 years and served a notable stint in the Clinton White House. His leadership extended to Dignity Washington, where he provided essential spiritual support during the worst of the AIDS epidemic. Delia’s work in these arenas not only advanced the cause ofLGBTQ+ rights but also inspired countless individuals who witnessed his dedication and courage, according to Capital Pride.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser expressed her condolences to his family on social media, highlighting Delia’s profound impact. “We are heartbroken at the news of Bernie Delia’s passing. 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. He helped transform Capital Pride into one of the largest and most inclusive Pride celebrations in the nation — a true reflection and representation of our people and values,” Bowser wrote. “That is the DC that Bernie helped build and that he leaves behind. Bernie made it his mission to bring World Pride to DC, and next year, on the 50th anniversary of DC Pride and in his honor and memory, we will welcome people from across the country and around the world to a proud and beautiful DC.”

Delia’s early years were marked by a relentless pursuit of justice and equality,reportsThe Independent. Raised on Long Island, he attended college inMaryland before pursuing law school inTexas. His legal career took him from clerking for a judge in the U.S. Virgin Islands to making significant strides in the nation’s capital. It was in D.C., in 1982, that Delia truly began to embrace and champion his identity within the LGBTQ+ community. By 1986, he was attending his first Pride celebration amid the shadow of theAIDS crisis that was devastating the community he had just begun to immerse himself in, the outlet reports.

In the 1990s, Delia’s influence grew as a political appointee in the Clinton administration. He worked closely with figures like Attorney General Janet Reno, who was instrumental in removing barriers for LGBTQ+ people seeking security clearances, reports The Independent.

Delia’s recent crowning achievement was his role as co-chair for World Pride 2025. His vision and determination were instrumental in securing Washington, D.C., as the host city for this global event, ensuring that the capital remains a beacon of inclusivity and celebration for the LGBTQ+ community.

“We will always reflect on his life and legacy as a champion, activist, survivor, mentor, friend, leader, and a true inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community,” the Capital Pride Alliance said in astatement. “He leaves us with a legacy as a champion, activist, survivor, mentor, friend, leader, and a true inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community. Bernie will continue to guide us forward to ensure we meet this important milestone as we gather with the world to be visible, heard, and authentic.”

Delia’s influence was not confined to his public roles. He was also a mentor and friend to many within the community. Bos highlighted Delia’s impact, noting, “He was someone I could share anything with. It wasn’t just a collegial relationship; it was a friendship, a kinship. He was solid, he was steady,” WTOPreports.

Looking forward, the community Delia helped build and nurture will continue to honor his legacy through their ongoing efforts to promote inclusivity and equality. World Pride 2025 in Washington, D.C., will serve as a crowning achievement of Delia’s vision and a poignant reminder of the enduring impact one individual can have on the world.

Cwnewser
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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).