In terms of gay life, Frederick, Md., is a bit of a limbo spot.
Yet there are still gay needs there, a point Brian Walker began to realize about a year-and-a-half ago. The 50-year-old East Lyme, Conn., resident, who came to Frederick in 1999 for a former job, had worked with an LGBT youth group in the ‘90s but stepped away from that kind of volunteer work for several years. But last year when he heard about a local gay youth being bullied at a Frederick high school, he decided the town needed some resources.
He and three other concerned adults in February 2012 formed The Frederick Center (thefrederickcenter.org). Last June, the first Frederick Pride event was held. The second is Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at Utica Park (10200-B Old Frederick Road). The Center — using various spaces — also holds a weekly Wednesday night youth group at Kemp Hall at 7 p.m. featuring various speakers and topics. About 20 youth show up each week. Last year’s Pride drew about 300.
“Frederick is the kind of town where gay people here don’t really socialize here,” Walker says. “Baltimore and Washington are close enough that people can do most of their socializing there while the farther west you go, then you find some more options but not so much in Frederick itself. That’s fine for the adults, but with the LGBTQ youth, there was still a need.”
Walker is a former IT specialist who now sells antiques. He and husband Gerard Clifford, an employee of the federal government, met in 1998 and got married in 2010 in Washington.
He enjoys gardening, biking and taking day trips in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Twenty years, publicly out for 15 years. Hardest person to tell was my oldest brother and his wife, who apparently didn’t have a clue. Now that I’m married, it is so easy in conversations just to mention my husband, no drama.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Dr. Lois Jarman. She started the Frederick PFLAG chapter as an ally before LGBTQ was generally accepted in this area. Figure if she can stand up for equality, those of us in the community can certainly do so. I carry her matter-of-fact, “this-is-what-we-are-going-to-do” attitude in all my life’s work.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Don’t go out in D.C. much, but my favorite night out in Frederick is to see the Comedy Pigs improv group.
Describe your dream wedding.
Personal and intimate, which ours was, with just a few close friends at the D.C. courthouse. No stressing about an upcoming reception or lodging arrangements for family. We then had quality time to celebrate with pockets of family and friends across the country.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Preservation of open public space. It needs to be there in a thousand years.
What historical outcome would you change?
I would have kept the Titanic afloat. Entirely too much has been made of that tragedy.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
When Ellen came out on TV. It was memorable because by the time she actually did it, it wasn’t earth shattering. It was the beginning of the “so-what’s-the-big-deal” culture.
On what do you insist?
That the truth be told. Not what someone wants to hear, not what sounds logical but has not been proven, not a simplified version that loses meaning, not a flagrant lie meant to bring fear or money to the surface. I have been skeptical of facts ever since a college marketing class made me aware of how much people in our society are manipulated.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A listing of speakers and entertainment for Frederick Pride. My last personal post was a picture of the beautiful hydrangea in bloom just outside the kitchen sink window, a reminder that sometimes it takes years before efforts show.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Full Speed Forward, Captain, and Don’t Look Back”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Use the magic ray on a few bigoted loudmouth public bullies.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Nothing, I’m a realist.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep the focus on equality, and the majority of America will eventually get it. And those that don’t eventually die. Only respond to growing opposition momentum, not individuals or single events.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
To help a high school student who just became homeless after coming out to parents. Adults know how to cope with adversity, most youth don’t.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Stereotypes are made to simplify a rainbow world; they all annoy me.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Latter Days.” It has everything: coming out struggles, love, situational comedy, original music, quirkiness and a happy ending.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Doing something because it is a tradition. The traditional way is rarely the best option, and many times is used to preserve a power structure.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Blue ribbon for best tomato at the Frederick County Fair.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
As an adult you get to choose who to allow into your life. Besides family, you have complete control over whom you socially interact with. Jettison negativity, surround yourself with empowering and driven individuals. Accept family members for who they are, do not allow them to define yourself by their actions.
We love the rural open space and we have all these fruit trees.