June 7, 2012 | by Will Owen
Pride day trips

The Empire State Building illuminated for Pride last year. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Capital Pride is far from the only gay Pride event in the region with fabulous festivities and must-see entertainment. Those celebrating the LGBT community can continue the fun by taking road-trips to pride festivals in Baltimore, New York and the Outer Banks, N.C.

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The Baltimore Pride Celebration has been Maryland’s largest LGBT visibility event since 1975. Baltimore’s Pride Parade and Block Party are on June 16 from 4-10 p.m. in the heart of the city’s historic gay neighborhood, Mount Vernon. The Pride Festival on June 17 is held in lakeside Druid Hill Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Baltimore Pride attracts roughly 30,000 people annually from all over the Mid-Atlantic. Trevor Ankeny, co-chair of Baltimore Pride, expects an even higher turnout this year.

“I think with the new attractions more people will want to come check them out,” Ankeny says. “We have more activities going on during the day. Before we had a lot of entertainment without many activities.”

One of the new attractions is the Adult Zone, a tent at the Block Party where guests can mingle with adult film stars such as Max Ryder and Pierre Fitch. Dance Dance Revolution! (DDR!) is another new addition at the Block Party. The Pride Festival Family Zone will expand this year, with carnival games brought by Camp Highlight (a summer camp for children of LGBT parents) and arts and crafts activities. Up-and-coming pop artist Neon Hitch is the Block Party’s headlining performer.

“She’s a really good performance artist. She definitely has dance hits right now,” Ankeny says. “I think she’ll really put on a good show. She’s different and unique.”

Neon Hitch is quickly garnering popularity. She recently collaborated with Gym Class Heroes on their hit track “Ass Back Home,” and her delightfully provocative song “F U Betta” went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Charts. She already has developed a strong gay fan base by going on a U.S. gay club tour last year and performing at Las Vegas Pride.

Other Baltimore Pride events include Twilight on the Terrace, a cocktail party benefiting Baltimore Pride on June 15 at Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art (10 Art Museum Dr. Baltimore, Md.) from 7-11 p.m., and the High Heel Race at 3 p.m. on June 16 (corner of Charles and Read Streets in Baltimore). For more details on Baltimore Pride, visit baltimorepride.org.

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have their Pride festivals and parades the same weekend as D.C.’s, so hitting those would be tough but they’ve both lined up solid guests. Talk show host Wendy Williams will be in Philly (phillypride.org) and Melissa Etheridge will headline with a 90-minute concert in Pittsburgh (pittsburghpride.org).

New York City Pride, of course, is a hugely popular weeklong celebration of LGBT visibility. The NYC Pride Rally kicks off the week’s festivities on June 16 from 3-6 p.m. at the East River Bandshell. The Rally features motivating speakers and popular performers, with Jai Rodgriguez from Chelsea Lately as this year’s MCs.

The NYC Pride March has been an annual civil rights demonstration free and open to the public since 1970. The march starts on June 24 at noon at 36 St. and 5 Ave.  Cyndi Lauper is one of the grand marshals of the event. Following the march is PrideFest, a massive LGBT public street fair with vendors and entertainers on Hudson Street between Abdingdon Square and West 14 Street. PrideFest is from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

NYC Pride has many other events during the week, finishing with the glamorous Dance on the Pier party on June 24 from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Pier 57 in Hudson River Park. Tickets are $90 and $165 for VIP passes, and all proceeds go to NYC Pride Week events and community organizations. For more details on NYC Pride, visit nycpride.org.

OBX Pridefest is another exciting series of gay pride events from June 13-17 in the Outer Banks, N.C. Although it is much smaller than the pride festivals in Baltimore or New York, there will be plenty of wonderful beachside activities to participate in, such as the Pride and Joy Booze Cruise aboard the Crystal Dawn on June 15. The cruise starts at Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo, N.C., at 6 p.m., and features an open bar and DJ.

The OBX Gay Pride Festival is June 16 from noon to 6 p.m. at the First Colony Inn in Nags Head (6720 South Virginia Dare Trail Nags Head, N.C.). The event will have various bands, tons of food, arts and crafts, and a pool party all afternoon. The Pride and Joy Beach Party with DJ Airrick is on the following Sunday, with a sand sculpting contest and Jell-o wrestling right on Nags Head beach behind the First Colony Inn. To find out more on the many other events at OBX Pridefest, visit obxpridefest.com.

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