The Chatter

​Baltimore Pride Aims to Be More Inclusive Than Ever in 41st Year

GLCCB promises something for everyone with diverse programs, performances, and events.

By Lauren Cohen | July 13, 2016, 9:00 am

The Chatter

​Baltimore Pride Aims to Be More Inclusive Than Ever in 41st Year

GLCCB promises something for everyone with diverse programs, performances, and events.

By Lauren Cohen | July 13, 2016, 9:00 am

What once started as a small rally of protestors at Charles Plaza in 1975 has since become Baltimore Pride—a weeklong celebration of unity and acceptance.

For this year’s festival, July 19-24, organizers are aiming to make the events more inclusive than ever, featuring programs specifically targeted for LGBTQ youth, seniors, women, transgender community members, and people of faith.

“Something I’ve noticed from travelling to different Prides around the country is that they often say they’re open to everybody, but they leave so many people out,” says Kevin E. Holt, outreach coordinator for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB.) “This year, the biggest thing we want people to know is whatever your identity, Pride is for you.”

Youth programs, for example, will take over Read Street in Mt. Vernon during the annual block party on July 23, highlighting separate vendors, performers, and alcohol-free activities planned by teen volunteers with the University of Maryland.

“The little parking lot that we designated for our youth program last year wasn’t nearly enough space to hold everyone that came,” Holt says. “It’s a beautiful thing that they’re coming out and celebrating themselves, so we knew we had to think outside of the box and do something more for them.”

In keeping with the all-inclusive sentiment, this year’s theme is One Baltimore—a message that GLCCB board president Jabari Lyles describes as “a wish towards a day where differences are honored, and we, as citizens of Baltimore, take pride in the differences that we possess.”

The theme will carry over into all aspects of Pride, including Saturday’s parade and block party in Mt. Vernon and Sunday’s festival in Druid Hill Park.

Holt, who is also Baltimore’s King of Pride 2016, says that the event has physically expanded its footprint to include Charles, Eager, Read, and Cathedral streets for the block party. That event will feature diverse performances by ’90s dance music powerhouse Crystal Waters, Bilboard chart-topper CeCe Peniston (“Finally”), former American Idol contestant (and Baltimore native) George Lovett, and local rapper Abdu Ali.

The block party will also highlight a special tribute to the 49 victims who were killed in the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last month. Holt, who knew one of the victim’s personally, says that, although the community is still healing, Pride is a great opportunity to bond in the wake of such a tragedy.

“We’ve grieved. Now it’s more about strength,” he says. “We’re here and we’re still standing. And that’s what Pride is really all about—showing who you are as a person and as a unit.”

Don Davis, owner of 25-year-old Mt. Vernon mainstay Grand Central, says that his club has increased safety precautions since the attack, but, other than that, the best way to recover is to live authentically.

“You can’t run and hide. You just have to move forward,” he says. “We all have to learn to start loving each other, and Pride is a great way to bring people together to celebrate how far we’ve come.”

In addition to annual events like Gertrude’s Twilight on the Terrace party and the high-heel race down Cathedral Street, other Charm City establishments like Union Craft Brewing, Flavor, and Hard Rock Cafe are hosting their own kickoff celebrations to promote the mission of Pride.

Though now it is seen as more of a celebration, Holt acknowledges that the origins of Pride were political in nature. He hopes that he can motivate future generations to continue to promote a message of acceptance, just as the pioneers of Baltimore Pride did for him.

“I love seeing young people look at me and say, ‘Wow you’re really proud of who you are,’” he says. “The people who started Pride 40 years ago were the ones fighting for their right to dance in the streets and be who they are. Those were the people who paved the way. I always keep that in mind.”

Meet The Author

Lauren Cohen is the digital senior editor at Baltimore, where she covers food, events, lifestyle, and community news.

You May Also Like

The Chatter

Early Risers Turn to Skateboarding as a Pandemic Pastime

Group of guys in their 30s and 40s spend mornings skating in Hampden’s Roosevelt Park.

The Chatter

Boxer Yahu Blackwell Is An All-Everything Businessman

The 33-year-old Baltimore native is the owner of the new Rita’s Italian Ice in Hampden.

News & Community

A World of Difference

What will the “new normal” look like in the COVID-19 era?

On The Town

Eight Baltimoreans on The Loss of Summer Festivals

Mayor Young’s cancellation means no Artscape, AFRAM, or other large gatherings.

News & Community

A Moment of Reckoning

Listening to Black voices in Baltimore.

Connect With Us

Most Read

Amid The Economic Chaos, Downtown Partnership’s New President Has a Plan: Shelonda Stokes was just named president after serving in an interim leadership role.

Boxer Yahu Blackwell Is An All-Everything Businessman: The 33-year-old Baltimore native is the owner of the new Rita’s Italian Ice in Hampden.

The Womanist Reader Creates an Online Library of Black Literature: A Baltimore writer curates an evolving list of women writers for her women followers.

Five Things to Know About Democratic Mayoral Nominee Brandon Scott: The 36-year-old City Council President rallies past Sheila Dixon to win Democratic mayoral primary.

Design for Distancing Competition Aims to Revive The Beauty of Public Spaces: Forward-thinking social-distancing structures could be built in the city as early as this month.