A gorgeous, sun-splashed June 14-15 weekend and a new location and format for this year’s Baltimore Pride highlighted the annual event, which has been operated by the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore for more than three decades.
Saturday’s parade changed its route by a few blocks and began three hours earlier than in the past. Sixty units marched — down slightly from last year — and included candidates in the gubernatorial race, the mayor of Baltimore, a wide range of organizations and corporations, a bevy of drag title holders and a gay activist from the Ukraine—Bogdan Globa—marching with PFLAG. D.C.’s Different Drummers added the beats to go along with cheers from the crowd.
“This is a great day to celebrate who we are, where we have been and how we got here,” Heather Mizeur, a Democratic candidate for governor and lesbian, told the Blade. “We’re trying to make a difference, not trying to make history, yet I expect to become the first ever woman governor in the state.”
The lieutenant governor candidate running with her opponent Anthony Brown, Ken Ulman, also marched in the parade with one of his daughters alongside Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. No one representing the Doug Gansler campaign was present over the weekend. The Democratic primary takes place on June 24.
The festival that immediately followed the parade shifted to the Mount Royal and Midtown-Belvedere areas. The move this year from the block party confines of W. Eager and N. Charles Streets, which had previously been the site for more than a decade to the more spread out area where the annual ArtScape festival takes place was decided because the crowds have become too large for the previous locale, according to the GLCCB. Last year, there was pressure placed on the GLCCB from the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association and local business owners and residents to curtail the sanitation problems, underage drinking and other related issues emanating from the overcrowded block party.
In effect, the block party component of the two-day event had been eliminated in favor of a two-day festival. Though there had been a good deal of apprehension from members of the LGBT community concerning the move, organizers estimated about 15,000 attended the parade and festival on Saturday. A smaller and more laid-back crowd assembled on Sunday.
Lorena DeLeon and her partner Amy Eisenberg from Baltimore likened the event to Los Angeles Pride. “The location of the beer garden is fabulous, right next to the dance area,” says DeLeon.
This year, drinking was supposed to be confined to two fenced-in beer gardens.
Darryl Lewis of Catonsville complained that “the beer garden does not have enough trash baskets and the portable toilets are not near the beer garden.” He said he learned that was the vendor’s logistical decision.
Though the theme for this year’s Pride was “We are Family,” the family feel wasn’t as evident on Sunday compared to previous years when the event took place at Druid Hill Park. There was a significant drop-off in couples with children this time.
Kelly Neel, executive director of the GLCCB said she received much positive feedback. “Everything is going fabulously. People are having a blast on the stage, and they like the parade route.”