Neighborhood Pride

Fortieth Pride festival tempered by iconic nightclub’s closure.

By Amy Mulvihill - July 2015

Neighborhood Pride

Fortieth Pride festival tempered by iconic nightclub’s closure.

By Amy Mulvihill - July 2015

From left: Gilbert Morrisette, Charles L. “Chuck” Bowers, and Paul Liller outside The Hippo. -Photography by Mike Morgan

When Baltimore’s LGBTQ community hosts its annual Pride festival this month, it will be with an extra sense of occasion as this year marks the city’s 40th annual celebration.

But a slight pall may hang over the proceedings since it was announced in early May that stalwart gay club The Hippo will soon close and become a CVS pharmacy. Located at the corner of North Charles and Eager streets, the Art Deco edifice has operated as a gay nightclub since July 7, 1972.

Charles L. “Chuck” Bowers, took ownership in 1978 with the goal to make it a place where “everyone is welcome”—a philosophy that became the club’s motto. “It’s been the home for every man, woman, white, African-American, whatever, to come here, feel safe, feel wanted, have a great time, and come back another day,” says Bowers, 70, who says the club’s last day will likely be in the fall.

Although Bowers is closing the club primarily for personal reasons—he’d like more time to travel and volunteer—he acknowledges trends in gay nightlife have had an effect, too. As gay culture has garnered more mainstream acceptance, the need for gay bars and clubs has diminished. Online dating and apps like Grindr have provided competition, as well.

“At the time The Hippo opened, gay people had to go to a gay club to meet gay people. That’s just how it was. You didn’t have all this online stuff,” notes Gilbert Morrisette, The Hippo’s longtime director of operations.

The news of the Hippo’s closing was met with an outpouring of affection from Baltimore’s gay community, for whom the club has been a touchstone through the disco era, the AIDS epidemic, and the gay-rights movement.

“I’m torn on the matter,” admits Paul Liller, the deputy director at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB). “For The Hippo, for the place, I hate to see it go. But for [Bowers], he needs a break.”





You May Also Like


News & Community

Next Man Up

A local nonprofit celebrates ten years of providing for local student athletes.

The Chatter

Hogan Says He Supports Trump Impeachment Inquiry

Maryland Governor joins small but increasing number of Republicans distancing themselves from the president.

The Chatter

Scenes From the Trump Demonstrations at House Republican Retreat

Protesters and supporters gather in Harbor East ahead of president's arrival Thursday.


The Chatter

H.L. Mencken House Preservation Efforts Take Shape

The famed Baltimore writer’s home will be a museum that tells all sides of his story.

The Chatter

Renovated McKeldin Square to Honor Life of Revered Baltimore Mayor

Theodore McKeldin devoted his public service to developing the Inner Harbor.

Arts & Culture

Final Words

As the Newseum prepares to close, here are the top things to do and see inside its hallowed halls.

From left: Gilbert Morrisette, Charles L. “Chuck” Bowers, and Paul Liller outside The Hippo. -Photography by Mike Morgan

Connect With Us

Most Read


Cardinal Art Walks Explore Works Outside of the Gallery's Bolton Hill Walls: The ongoing fall exhibition is meant to make participants see the city in a new way.

What the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s One-Year Agreement Means For its Musicians: After a tension-filled absence, the BSO’s 104th season will open this weekend.

The Orioles Aren’t Moving Out of Town, But They Have a Long Way To Go: Putting a wrap on relocation rumors and the O’s predictable 2019 season.

History of Baltimore's Bygone Synagogues Captured in New Plein Air Art Exhibit: Collection of oil paintings on view at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation through October 28.

The Mare Projects Connects Communities in the African Diaspora: Works from their first-ever residency program will be on display at Gallery CA.