“I tell folks, when they ask why to choose Baltimore Pride over other cities’ Prides, is that attending Pride in other cities requires lots of money and can be very pricey,” says Tremor Wilson, senior director of advocacy and community engagement at the Pride Center of Maryland, which organizes Charm City’s annual celebration. “If you go to New York City Pride, for example, hotels are $500 minimum and up, so it’s not affordable to the average person.
“With Baltimore Pride, we partner with local hotels to offer affordable rooms that are cheaper than what they’d regularly cost,” Wilson continues. “We have shuttles that take attendees downtown to events. All of our outside events are free of charge. We try to make it accessible to everyone.”
While Baltimore’s annual Pride celebration has historically centered around its Pride Parade and Pride Block Party, both of which are scheduled for Saturday, June 24, organizers have tried to expand the number and types of events available to the public throughout the month, especially in the week leading up to the marquee festivities.
“We have educational and empowerment events that will be happening throughout the week,” says Wilson. “We’ll be having educational panels, we’ll be hosting a job fair, we’ll be hosting a community forum that is very much like a town hall. We also have events for specific populations, such as the elder population, or youth-specific events. We have a plethora of events, and a host of different activities that anyone can join during that time.”
Cleo Manago, the CEO of the Pride Center of Maryland, notes that Baltimore Pride has a history of attracting hordes of out-of-state visitors nationwide, with estimates of last year’s crowd exceeding 100,000.
“Because we’re in the middle of the Northeast corridor, we have people from all over the country attend. And Baltimore is a very special place,” he says. “It’s historically relevant, right by the harbor, it’s a diverse community with a majority African-American population, and while we’re very supportive and affirming of the majority community, we also invite and represent everybody of all groups, all races, all backgrounds. And we have that reflected on every level of our work, including how we roll out Pride.”
Late last month, Baltimore set up a display at First & Franklin Presbyterian Church, located at 210 W. Madison St., featuring two segments of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The display commemorates those locals who lost their lives to the AIDS crisis, and acknowledges the role that First & Franklin played in hosting the first AIDS support groups in the city, as well as the city’s first public AIDS crisis forum in 1983, and the church’s ministry to those affected by the disease, and, later, to the larger LGBTQ community. The display will remain open through June 28.
On Saturday, June 10, the Pride Center of Baltimore will host a “Legacy Launch Celebration” that includes tours of the organization’s brand-new space, located at 2418 St. Paul St. The four-story, 7,000-square foot facility contains a fitness studio, digital lounge, multipurpose rooms, and multiple classrooms, and will host various LGBTQ-centric programs, resources, health education workshops, support groups and services, and community meetings. Both Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore will be on hand to inaugurate the new space beginning at noon.
On Friday, June 16, at 7 p.m., Baltimore Pride will host a rare ticketed event, Twilight on the Terrace, at Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen, located inside the Baltimore Museum of Art, at 10 Art Museum Dr., on the Johns Hopkins University campus. The event — which costs $150 per person in advance, and $175 at the door — serves as a fundraising gala for the Pride Center of Maryland, which sponsors more than 40 community programs benefiting sexual and gender minorities. The event features food, an open bar, live music, and a night of dancing under the stars.
“Twilight on the Terrace is kind of an upscale fundraiser that brings together veterans, Pride Center supporters, funders, and community partners,” says Manago. “It features small-plate portions of meals, with a beautifully-prepared buffet. We also have an awards ceremony where we honor people in the community who have shown up for or been important game-changers for the same-gender-loving and sexual and gender minority populations. It’s a place where people can meet the Pride Center of Maryland’s team of personnel and our board.”
On Saturday, June 17, from 12-10 p.m., in partnership with the rock climbing gym Movement Hampden and businesses at Union Collective brewery, organizers will host the second annual “Union Collective Pride” at 1700 W. 41st St. The schedule of activities kicks off with rock-climbing activities for LGBTQ and allied youths and their parents from noon to 5 p.m., stoop storytelling from 5 to 7 p.m., and, from 7:30 to 10 p.m., drag performances at Union Craft Brewing.
That same day, from 1 to 8 p.m., on Read Street, between Charles and Cathedral Streets, Baltimore Pride will host the “PRIDE of Mount Vernon,” a community-focused event bringing together neighborhood artists, residents, and businesses in one of Baltimore’s historic “gayborhoods.”
The event will feature family- and dog-friendly activities, with local artists and businesses opening the doors of their shops to street traffic, live DJ and dance performances on the main stage, and cocktail and mocktails provided by Barflies Catering. The dance stage lineup includes DJ Amp, The Gay Agenda, Zik Jabar, Keur Khaleyi African Dance Company, Dripping Wet, Maximiliano, and DJ Nuzzles.
On Tuesday, June 20, the Enoch Pratt Free Library and Baltimore Heritage LGBTQ+ History Walking Tour will present “From Twilight to Sunshine: LGBTQ History in Maryland,” a historical and educational program reviewing the history of Baltimore’s LGBTQ community through the 19th and 20th centuries, from transgender sailors and lesbian philanthropists to the Baltimore drag balls of the Jazz era, to the backlash and bar raids of the 1950s and 1960s, to the birth modern-day LGBTQ rights movement and some of its earliest organizations. The event will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Poe Room of the Enoch Pratt Central Library, at 400 Cathedral St.
On Friday, June 23, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in conjunction with the B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore Pride will host a cocktail hour and “Pride Train Ride” that traverses the first mile of track ever laid in the United States. During the train ride, there will be drag performances by Aave Blue, Kayden Amoré Chole, Stormi Skye, and Ervena Chloe. The ride will be followed by a party in the museum, featuring additional drag performances and music by DJs James Nasty and Kotic Couture.
At noon on Saturday, June 24, the Baltimore High Heel Race, where participants run the length of two city blocks down North Charles Street, will kick off the day’s festivities, followed by the Baltimore Pride Parade, which traverses from North Charles and 33rd Streets, through the city’s Charles Village and Old Goucher neighborhoods, past Wyman Park and down to 23rd Street, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Then, from 3 to 9 p.m., Baltimore Pride’s Block Party will take place along a stretch of Charles Street between 23rd and North Avenue, with food and Pride merchandise vendors on hand while participants dance to live music from DJs and musical artists like Keke Wyatt and Trina. Headlining the Block Party will be Remy Ma, the Grammy-nominated, Bronx-based rapper and television personality known best for hits such as “All the Way Up,” “Conceited,” “Wake Me Up,” and “Melanin Magic.”
“People will be lined up on both sides of the street, waving, and maybe even trying to jump into the parade,” says Manago. “We’ll have hundreds of local organizations represented during the parade, and after that pageantry, the topping on the cake is the actual block party. It’s a big celebration of diverse people, trans people, same-gender-loving, gay, bisexual — it’s a celebration of family.”
While there is no admission to the High Heel Race, parade, or block party, Manago notes that Baltimore Pride is asking attendees to donate $2 or more through Cash App to a “city tax fund,” which is raising money to cover the cost of permits and other fees associated with putting on the Pride celebrations.
“What I look forward to with Pride is the parade,” says Wilson. “It’s the one time we really bring the entire city together, in comparison to places in Baltimore that do local festivals or other events. You’ll see a plethora of business owners, community organizations, local organizations, government officials in attendance. I think it’s the one time you really see what allyship looks like, and the one time you really see how diverse the LGBTQ community is and who makes up that community.”
On Sunday, June 25, Baltimore Pride hosts a Pride 5-kilometer run and walk at Druid Hill Park, at 900 Druid Hill Park Lake Dr. in Northwest Baltimore, at 9 a.m. Later in the day, from noon to 6 p.m., it hosts a “Pride in the Park,” featuring vendors, live music, dance and drag performances, as well as music from headliner K. Michelle, the Memphis-based singer and songwriter known best for her hit single “Fakin’ It” and several chart-topping albums, including Rebellious Soul and Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?
This year’s Pride theme is “One Heart, One Love, One Pride,” which organizers say ties into the post-pandemic efforts by the Pride Center and other organizations to bring together a community whose members were isolated from one another.
“Last year, we were able to host over 100,000 for Pride, which marked a coming together for our community,” says Ursula Franklin, the program manager of the Pride Center. “We were showing how even through the pandemic, we were able to evolve. Seeing how resilient the community was during that time, and with the pandemic now deemed officially over, we want to build on that foundation we were able to establish last year, and let people know that we’re here, that we’re providing services to build and grow and enhance the community.
“We want to let them know that their diversity is okay, and that we’re all in this together.”
For more information on Baltimore Pride, including a full schedule of events, visit www.baltimorepride.org.
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