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A milestone for 9:30 Club

Famed venue has welcomed gay acts throughout 35-year history



Adam Lambert, Tommy Joe Ratliff, 9:30 Club, marriage equality, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, 9:30 Club, music, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

The 9:30 Club, celebrating its 35th anniversary this month, has been a gay-friendly spot since day one. Adam Lambert is among the out acts who have performed there. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 9:30 Club is one of the nation’s most iconic venues and has hosted an enormous variety of artists since its founding in 1980. The club is currently celebrating its 35th anniversary with a new deluxe hardcover, “9:30 The Book,” which details the history of the hallowed venue and includes reflections from many of the countless artists who have performed there over the last three-and-a-half decades.

There has been no shortage of LGBT artists to play both at its original F Street location and its current location at 815 V St., N.W. The club was known for the roster of punk and hardcore heavyweights that regularly blew the doors off the place (Circle Jerks, Mission of Burma, Agent Orange, Minor Threat, Government Issue, Misfits, Black Flag, Killing Joke, Dead Kennedys and others). Seminal post-punk/goth pioneers Bauhaus played a show in early 1981, only a few months after the release of their debut album “In the Flat Field.” It wasn’t long, though, until a wider variety of artists made the 9:30 Club their tour stop in D.C., including LGBT artists of all genres.

Self-described queer artist Michael Stipe performed with R.E.M. at the venue multiple times, including in November 1982 in support of their “Chronic Town” EP, and a show on March 12, 1983, precisely one month before the band released its classic full-length debut “Murmur.” The main set opened with “Gardening at Night” and closed with “Radio Free Europe,” the two early songs that cracked open the door for their wider success. Minnesota-based Hüsker Dü, who would become one of the ‘80s most important alternative rock titans, played their first gig at the 9:30 Club on April 24, 1983. It was the start of a long and fruitful relationship between the club and Bob Mould, who’s gay, which continues to this day.

The first of multiple appearances by pop duo Erasure was on May 14, 1987 in support of their second album, “The Circus.” Gay singer Andy Bell shared his fond memories of that first 9:30 Club appearance: “The stage was so teeny and it was so crowded that I felt like Alice in Wonderland after she ate the cookie that turned her into a giant. It was an amazing gig, your head touched the ceiling and the audience would grab you by the ankles. Also it was very, very hot.”

Erasure, gay news, Washington Blade

Andy Bell, left, and Vince Clarke of Erasure. (Photo by Phil Sharpe; courtesy Mitch Schneider Organization)

The duo’s most recent stop was for two electrifying performances in September 2014 in support of their album “The Violet Flame.”

Rufus Wainwright, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter who is gay, has played at the 9:30 Club numerous times, with the crowd growing with his popularity.

“The 9:30 Club has a stage that moves back depending on how many spectators are at the show, always making the room look well attended,” he says. “I cherish the experience of starting out there with a sliver to work with, then a rectangle, and finally a big fat square full of punters thanks to the backwards moving stage. Hope that stage don’t start moving forward.”

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Rufus Wainwright (Photo by Sean James; courtesy Slate PR)

Melissa Etheridge, a rock legend who has been churning out great albums since her 1988 self-titled debut, played a highly publicized string of dates at the 9:30 Club in November 2014 in support of her album “This is M.E.”

Boy George, one of the all-time great pop figures of the last 30 years, appeared at the 9:30 Club on April 21, 2014 to support his excellent solo album, “This is What I Do.”

Gay icons The B-52’s have performed at the 9:30 Club in 2008 in support of their comeback album, “Funplex.”

Passion Pit, whose lead singer Michael Angelakos is gay, performed on June 3, 2010. Not long after, gay pop sensation Adam Lambert played on June 28, 2010, in support of his debut album “For Your Entertainment.”

Electric pop/rockers Neon Trees, whose lead singer Tyler Glenn is gay, performed at the club in July 2010, just as their single “Animals” was becoming a major hit.

In November 2012, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed their massive hit “Same Love” in support of same-sex marriage.

Visionary hip-hop artist Frank Ocean, who had recently revealed same-sex attraction and wrote about unrequited love for a man in the stunning track “Bad Religion,” performed at a show surrounded by buzz on July 23, 2012.

Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter John Grant, whose lyrics are sometimes startlingly confessional and self-deprecating, graced the 9:30 Club stage on May 11, 2014.

Atlas Sound, led by openly gay Bradford Cox, has appeared multiple times. Local D.C.-area genre-bending powerhouse Meshell Ndegeocello has also graced the 9:30 Club stage.

The flamboyant and always entertaining Scissor Sisters, featuring three gay members (Jake Shears, Babydaddy and Del Marquis) became a fixture at the club as they performed eight times between May 2004 and July 2012.

Kele Okereke, the talented frontman for Bloc Party, has appeared both with his band and as a solo artist.

Widely renowned lesbian duo Indigo Girls played at the club in March 2005.

The wonderfully outlandish and always memorable Canadian artist Peaches first appeared at the club in November 2006.

Against Me! first performanced at the 9:30 Club on Nov. 12, 2007. This was, of course, before Laura Jane Grace came out as a trans woman in 2012, as detailed in the band’s stunning 2012 album “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” (they’d play two dates in September 2014 after Grace’s transition). 

Mika, the uber-creative openly gay British pop experimentalist, played on June 12, 2007.

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Mika (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Hercules and Love Affair, whose breakthrough hit “Blind” is about coming out as gay and then losing yourself in a world of endless hedonism, performed in November, 2008.

The lesbian country/folk/rock singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile, who released the stunning album “The Firewatcher’s Daughter” last year, played the club in October 2009, the same night at the electrifying new wave revivalists Gossip, led by the amazing Beth Ditto who has referred to herself as a “fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas.”

Other notable appearances by LGBT artists include Ani DiFranco (who’s identifies as bisexual), who first performed at the club in 1990 and has made many stops since, the most recent being in November 2013 and with another show coming up on Jan. 26.

A month and a half after the release of their breakthrough album “Dookie,” Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Green Day (led by openly bisexual frontman Billie Joe Armstrong), played their first 9:30 Club gig on March 15, 1994.

British alt-rockers Placebo (vocalist Brian Molko is bisexual, guitarist/bassist Steven Olsdal is openly gay) performed at the club in December 1998 in support of their classic album “Without You I’m Nothing.” Skunk Anansie, led by the dynamic bisexual vocalist Skin, played in September 1999.

Indie darlings Sleater-Kinney, featuring bisexual vocalists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (who once dated), played the 9:30 Club in May 2000 and then again in September. A month later, openly gay leather-clad metal icon Rob Halford of Judas Priest fame rocked the club with his band Halford.

Critically lauded Icelandic band Sigur Rós, whose amazing lead singer Jónsi is openly gay, first performed at the club in September 2001. Jónsi would play a couple solo dates in 2010. The 9:30 Club hosted synthpop legends Soft Cell, featuring pioneering gay artist Marc Almond, in 2002 when they toured in support of their final album “Cruelty Without Beauty.”

Tegan and Sara, the openly gay duo of Canadian twin sisters, first appeared at the club in October 2002.

The 9:30 Club has also hosted other events, including “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battles of the Seasons” in March 2015. The club frequently has gay-themed dance parties in conjunction with Capital Pride every year.

And of course, getting back to Bob Mould, the alternative rock titan teamed up with DJ/producer/musician extraordinaire Rich Morel — who at last count has an astonishing 25 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Dance Chart to his credit — for the Blowoff dance party, which started small in the club’s back bar and turned into a mega event that eventually traveled to other cities. Morel cites the 9:30 Club as essential to Blowoff’s success.

Blowoff, bar guide, LGBT nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Blowoff (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

The 930 club was Blowoff’s home base,” he says. “When Blowoff expanded and started doing shows around the country the vibe and mood we had built at the 930 was what we brought with us. The staff was so great and the space made for many memorable nights.”

He also fondly recounted for us the time a certain Lady Gaga came to see Blowoff in all its glory.

“I had first met Lady Gaga when I was touring with Cyndi Lauper,” Morel says. “Gaga opened a show we were playing in San Francisco. Gaga was just starting out and we chatted a bit and exchanged info. Fast forward a couple years and she’s the biggest thing on the planet. I got a text message from her PR guy that she was in D.C. and wanted to come down to Blowoff. It was a crazy night. She arrived with a security crew all dressed in Armani. We were hanging backstage and she burned a CDR of her new song, which was not released yet.  She said the song was delicious and asked if I would debut it. It was “Bad Romance.” I played it during my set while she stood and waved at the crowd from the balcony. It was a surreal pop moment that I was delighted to be a part of.”

There is no question that if the 9:30 Club walls could talk, the stories they could tell would fill volumes. So many of the biggest artists in rock history have performed at the club that it’s hard to keep track, and that includes many LGBT artists as well. It’s been an impressive 35-year run for the club, with lots of rock ‘n’ roll memories made along the way.

Blade, 9:30 neighbors at former location

For a few years in the 1980s, the Washington Blade was a neighbor to the 9:30 Club at its original F Street location.

Although the Blade staff — especially on production night deadlines — sometimes worked late, long-time employees say the two entities had no major issues.

“We would of course work later hours back then,” says Phil Rockstroh, a long-time Blade staffer. “Everything was typeset and done by hand without computers and fax machines so getting through deadlines was much more time consuming.”

He says the noise wasn’t a problem.

“It wasn’t too bad as older buildings were constructed more solidly,” Rockstroh says. “There was only one entrance to the building and you entered so far to the elevator that went up to the other floors and then continued down the hall to the entrance to the 9:30 Club. Frequently at night if I was coming or going, there were people spilling out the doors.”

Despite the proximity, Rockstroh says he only remembers going to a concert there once to see a punk showcase with a former co-worker, the late Lyn Frizzell.

“The Blade has always had a friendly relationship with the 9:30 Club,” he says.


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Another busy summer season arrives in Rehoboth Beach

Fine dining, drag shows, theater, and more on tap for 2023



Joe Ciarlante-Zuber (right) with his husband and business partner Darryl Ciarlante-Zuber have another busy summer of events planned at Diego’s. (Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

The summer of 2023 will be an exciting time in Rehoboth Beach, with lots to see and do as always. Great people, and of course the sand, sea, and boardwalk. Everyone in town has been working hard over the winter to make this the best season ever at the beach. New businesses, old ones moving to new locations, milestone anniversaries, and just loads of fun all around. 

While I am often just a burger and fries’ guy, Rehoboth has become a real foodie paradise for those who enjoy, and appreciate, really fine dining. (For more on the dining scene, see separate story in the Blade.)

The City of Rehoboth has fewer than 1,500 full-time residents. Many who have a Rehoboth address like me, live outside the city boundary. But at any time during the summer season, the population swells to more than 25,000. Among them are many members of the LGBTQ community. If you are one of them, stop by CAMP Rehoboth, the LGBTQ community center, founded by Murray Archibald and Steve Elkins in 1991. 

Today, many of the businesses in town are owned by members of the community and even those that aren’t are supportive of the community. The most famous residents of the area are President Biden and first lady Jill Biden, who try to spend some weekends at their home there. Not sure how much time they will have this summer between the duties of being president and running for reelection.  I do know when there, they love the famous chicken salad sandwiches, among other great things, from Lori Klein’s Lori’s Oy Veh Café in the CAMP courtyard. Lori’s is celebrating its 27th season. If you stop in the courtyard, you will be pleased to see new tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy your meal.

My favorite hangout on Baltimore Avenue, the gayest block in Rehoboth, is Aqua Grill. The perfect place to spend happy hour any day of the week. Chris, one of the hot and charming waiters, is back serving drinks on the deck. Then there is The Pines restaurant across the street with a great showroom upstairs and always fun entertainment. The guys who own it have expanded their operations with Drift on Baltimore and now taken over the old Philip Morton Gallery and turned it into their offices. They are also preparing to open Bodhi on 1st street. One of the great old standbys at the beach is The Purple Parrot Grill and Biergarten on Rehoboth Avenue. Owners Hugh Fuller and Troy Roberts make everyone feel welcome. The old girl has a bright new paint job this year and she’s better than ever with some great entertainment. 

Make sure you read the Blade’s column on food at the beach but here are just some of the places I passed on my walk around town on sidewalk sale weekend. There are Eden Restaurant, Azafran, and La Fable on the beach block of Baltimore Avenue. Then the always reliable standby the Blue Moon. In addition to some of the best food in town, the Moon has an extensive calendar of special events planned for summer, including the much anticipated return of talented NYC pianist Nate Buccieri beginning June 25. He plays Sunday-Thursday for most of the summer; check for specifics.

There is also Ava’s and Theo’s and Frank and Louie’s on the second block.The venerable Back Porch on Rehoboth Avenue has been serving some of Rehoboth’s finest food for decades, and, of course, Houston White further up the street if you’re craving a steak.Then there is Goolee’s Grill on 1st street and the new location of JAM on 2nd. Goolee’s is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a cocktail party on June 1, 5-9 p.m.; tickets are $15 and available online.

My favorite morning place, it has become my afternoon place as well, is the totally refurbished Coffee Mill in the mews between Rehoboth Avenue and Baltimore Avenue, just next to the wonderful Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue. Dewey Beach residents will soon have their own Coffee Mill in a beachfront location, 1700 Coastal Highway. It will have a great view of the beach and ocean from its rooftop deck. Mel and Bob are going to be busy this year with all their places including Brashhh on 1st street, now celebrating its 11th year, and The Mill Creamery serving Hopkins ice cream. Longtime Rehoboth business owner Steve Fallon, one of the best promoters of the beach I know, has the fun Gidget’s Gadgets on Rehoboth Avenue and his second place selling vinyl records, Extendedplay. Then there is Coho’s Market and Grill on Rehoboth Avenue. 

Back on the gayest block in Rehoboth, Baltimore Avenue, don’t forget to stop in and purchase some incredible one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, and now original art, at Elegant Slumming and then get your hair cut in The Grateful Head Salon.  

For more afternoon and evening entertainment there is the popular Diego’s Bar and Nightclub (37298 Rehoboth Avenue Ext.), a perfect spot for outdoor happy hours and late night dancing. Local legend Magnolia Applebottom holds court all summer with performances slated for the Thursday and Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Sunday’s show runs 6-9 p.m. followed by DJ Mags “with her boys” from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. In addition to Magnolia, Diego’s brings internationally known DJs to town during the summer. And the free parking is a nice bonus in a town with a chronic shortage of parking spaces. Diego’s has an exciting summer of special events planned, so follow them online for updates. Among the acts coming to Diego’s this summer are “Jaws the Musical” (June 18), Ada Vox (July 5), and Edmund Bagnell (July 17). 

Don’t miss the always fun Freddie’s Beach Bar on 1st street, where the amazing Freddie Lutz has brought his wonderful concept from Virginia to the beach. The beloved Pamala Stanley performs periodically at Freddie’s; follow her on social media for updated dates.

Remember Rehoboth still has some great culture even if the town commissioners have been trying to force it out of town. The amazing Clear Space Theatre is stillon Baltimore Avenue. This season’s productions include Lucy in the Sea with Darvon, Jesus Christ Superstar, Kinky Boots, and The Spongebob Musical

This will be a summer not to miss at the beach. Better make your plans to visit soon, if you haven’t already, because hotels and rentals are booking fast. 

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Pride season arrives!

LGBTQ community events planned across region



A scene from the 2022 Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pride season has already begun. Last month’s Roanoke Pride filled the Virginia city’s Elmwood Park with rainbow flags. Pride events begin in D.C. this month and continue through June. Regionally, some cities have opted to hold their Pride events as late as the fall. 


Organizers of Trans Pride D.C. ( plan a full day of workshops and events on Saturday, May 20 at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library (901 G Street, N.W.). These events are currently listed on Facebook and Eventbrite as running from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

The HIV/PrEP Programs at the Charles County Department of Health are hosting PrEP for Pride 2023 at 4545 Crain Highway in White Plains, Md. on Saturday May 20 from 12-7 p.m. 

The festival is free, though those who RSVP will be entered into a door prize drawing. PrEP for Pride’s Eventbrite page advertises a pride walk, a PrEP Mini Ball, music, art, health & wellness information, food options and other vendors.

Equality Prince William Pride ( will be held on Sunday, May 21 at the Harris Pavillion (9201 Center Street, Manassas, Va.) from 12-4 p.m., according to its Facebook events page.

The event is billed as a family-friendly event with music, vendors and kids activities. Performers include musician John Levengood, BRUU Band & Choir and the drag artists Coco Bottoms, Muffy Blake Stephyns and Ophelia Bottoms.

D.C. Black Pride ( events are held throughout the city May 26-29 primarily at the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel (999 9th Street, N.W.). 

Official events include a Unity Ball, a vendor expo, a talent showcase, forums, parties and the annual Pride Festival in the Park at Fort Dupont Park on May 29 from 12-7 p.m.

A scene from the Us Helping Us Black Pride Festival at Fort Dupont Park last May. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The third Caroline County Pride Festival ( “A Carnival Adventure” will be held in downtown Denton, Md. (301 Market Street) on Saturday, May 27 from 3-8 p.m. according to the group’s Facebook event page.


Last year’s Baltimore Trans Pride March was held on June 5, 2022. (Washington Blade file photo by Linus Berggren)

Baltimore Trans Pride ( kicks off the month at 2117 North Charles Street in Baltimore, Md. on Saturday, June 3, according to Baltimore Safe Haven’s Facebook event page.

The Baltimore Trans Pride 2023 Grand March is to be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday along North Charles Street between 22nd and 23rd. The Block Party continues at 3 p.m. with performances beginning at 4 p.m.

Afterparties are scheduled at The Crown (1901 North Charles Street) and Ottobar (2549 North Howard Street). Baltimore Safe Haven also hosts a kickoff ball on Friday, June 2 at 2640 Saint Paul Street at 6 p.m.

Annapolis Pride ( holds its annual parade and festival on Saturday, June 3 from 12-5 p.m. on Inner West Street in Annapolis, Md. according to the Facebook event page

Hundreds lined the streets of downtown Annapolis for the Annapolis Pride Parade. (Photo by Jaime Thompson courtesy Fleur de Lis Photography)

Reston Pride ( holds its annual festival at Lake Anne Plaza (1609 Washington Place) in Reston, Va. on Saturday, June 3 from 12-6 p.m., according to the Facebook event page.

Last year’s Reston Pride festival was held at Lake Anne Plaza. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Ellicott City, Md. holds OEC Pride ( on June 3-4 in Old Ellicott City. Events include a mascara run up and down Main Street and a movie presentation of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”. 

Suffolk, Va. holds its third annual Suffolk Pride Festival ( on Saturday, June 3 from 5-8 p.m. at Bennetts Creek Park (3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road, Suffolk, Va.), according to the Facebook event page.

Portsmouth Pride Fest ’23 ( is the second annual LGBTQ community celebration in Portsmouth, Va. The festival is to be held on Saturday, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Portsmouth Festival Field next to Atlantic Union Pavilion, according to the Facebook event page.

The Alexandria LGBTQ Task Force presents the sixth annual Alexandria Pride ( at Alexandria City Hall in Market Square of Old Town Alexandria, Va. (301 King Street) on Saturday, June 3 from 1-5 p.m.

Newport News, Va. has its first I Am What I Am (IAWIA) Pride Festival on Sunday, June 4 from 12-7 p.m. at Tradition Brewing Company (700 Thimble Shoals Boulevard, Newport News, Va.), according to the Facebook event page.

The 2023 Cumberland Pride Festival ( will be held at Canal Place (13 Canal Street, Columbia, Md.) Sunday, June 4 from 12-4 p.m., according to the Facebook event page.

The 2022 Cumberland Pride Festival was held at Canal Place in Cumberland, Md. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Culpepper County in rural Virginia will be getting its very first pride celebration with Culpepper Pride Festival ( on Sunday, June 4 from 12-5 p.m. at Mountain Run (10753 Mountain Run Lake Road, Culpepper, Va.). An after-hours 21+ drag show will be held.

Equality Loudoun’s “Across the Decades” 2023 Loudoun Pride Festival ( will be held on Sunday, June 4 from 1-7 p.m. at Claude Moore Park (21668 Heritage Farm Ln, Sterling, Va.). This is a ticketed event with a $5 general admission.

Last year’s Loudoun Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Delaware Pride ( is being celebrated as a festival on Saturday, June 10 at Legislative Hall (411 Legislative Avenue, Dover, Del.) from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. according to the Facebook page.

D.C.’s massive Capital Pride ( includes the 2023 Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 10 and the 2023 Capital Pride Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue on Sunday, June 11. On top of the many official events, there are a great number of parties in venues throughout the city over the week, including the not-to-be-missed Pride on the Pier and Fireworks Show, held 2-9 p.m. on Saturday, June 10 at the Wharf. There are two timed VIP sessions that include catered food and open bar. The region’s only Pride fireworks display, sponsored by the Leonard-Litz Foundation, takes place at 9 p.m. Visit for tickets and information.

Jerry Houston and Elizabethany of HOT 99.5 served as emcees of the 2022 Capital Pride Festival. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Third annual Pride in the ViBe, will be held at ViBe Park (1810 Cyprus Avenue, Virginia Beach, Va.) on Sunday, June 11 from 1-6 p.m., according to the Facebook event page.

Scenic Chesapeake, Va. is the backdrop for Pride in the ‘Peake 2023 at City Park Section B next to the basketball courts on Sunday, July 11, according to an posting.

Eastern Panhanlde Pride is to be held on Saturday, June 17 from 12-5 p.m. in downtown Martinsburg, W.Va., according to EPP’s Facebook page.

The Delmarva Pride Center presents DELAMRVA Pride ( with events from June 16-18. The DELMARVA Pride Festival is to be held on Saturday, June 17 along South Harrison Street in downtown Easton, Md. Other events include a drag show and a Sunday brunch, according to the Pride Center’s Facebook page.

The Ghent Business Association presents Ghent Pride “Party at the Palace Shops” on Tuesday, June 20 from 6-10 p.m. at The Palace Shops and Staton (301 West 21st Street, Norfolk, Va.), according to the Facebook event page. This is a ticketed event with general admission $13.

The Human Rights Commission of the City of Rockville holds the seventh annual Rockville Pride ( on Saturday, June 24 from 1-4 p.m. at Rockville Town Square (131 Gibbs Street, Rockville, Md.).

Arlington Pride ( holds events from June 23-25 that include a pageant, a brunch, a festival and an afterparty. The Arlington Pride Festival returns for its second year on June 24 from 12-7 p.m. at the Rosslyn Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway, Arlington, Va.), according to the Eventbrite listing.

Fredericksburg Pride ( holds events throughout the month, but everything culminates in the Pride March and then Festival on Saturday, June 24. The Pride March is held at Riverfront Park (705 Sophia Street, Fredericksburg, Va.) at 10 followed by the Festival at 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Old Mill Park (2201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, Va.).

The 10th anniversary Frederick Pride ( is to be held at Carroll Creek Linear Park on Saturday, June 24 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. with food, music, drag, vendors and more, according to the Facebook event page.

Chasity Vain performed at last year’s Frederick Pride. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Salisbury Pride ( Parade and Festival is on Saturday, June 24. The Parade begins at 2 p.m. at West Main Street and Camden Street. The parade moves along Main with the festival following the parade at 2:30. Magnolia Applebottom is the headliner and grand marshall, according to Salisbury Pride’s Facebook page.

The “Break Free 23” Hampton Roads Pride ( is set for Saturday, June 24 at Town Point Park (113 Waterside Drive, Norfolk, Va.) and includes the famous boat parade.

The Pride Center of Maryland hosts a number of Baltimore Pride ( events June 19-25. The big events include the annual parade and block party on Charles Street on Saturday, June 24 and the festival at Druid Hill Park on Sunday.

The 2022 Baltimore Pride Parade was held on June 25. (Washington Blade photo by Linus Berggren)

July and beyond

You can look forward to LGBTQ pride celebrations in Harrisburg, Pa. and the Maryland towns of Hagerstown and Westminster as well as Black Pride RVA in Richmond, Va. in July. Other municipalities have decided to hold their pride celebrations a little later in the year. These pride events include Winchester Pride in Winchester, Va. (Sept. 9), Shenandoah Valley Pride in Harrisonburg, Va. (Sept. 16), SWVA Pridefest in Vinton, Va. (Sept. 16), Virginia Pridefest in Richmond, Va. (Sept. 23), TriPride in Johnson City, Tenn. (Sept. 23), Staunton Pride in Staunton, Va. (Oct. 7), Upper Chesapeake Bay Pride in Harve de Grace, Md. (Oct. 7), Pride Franklin County in Chambersburg, Pa. (Oct. 8) and Laurel Pride in Laurel, Md. (Oct. 14).

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Self-identification: What the plus in ‘LGBTQ+’ means

Terminology rapidly expanding into mainstream dialogue



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

For a long time, many Americans refrained from talking about sexual orientation and gender identity because it was taboo. While these conversations are still uncomfortable for some people, others stay quiet simply because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. 

Among allies, there is fear that misgendering someone or misspeaking about another person’s sexuality will be viewed as being less inclusive. Meanwhile, older generations, even those within the LGBTQ+ community, also struggle to keep up as terms beyond “LGBTQ” rapidly enter mainstream lingo.

In either scenario, the plus in “LGBTQ+” can be misunderstood. But as awareness of these terms continues to rise, it’s important to know what they mean. 

Below are some of the most popular but misunderstood terms of self-identification, compiling gender identities (one’s concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither and what they call themselves) and sexual orientation (how one identifies in terms of whom they are romantically and/or sexually attracted to). 

Asexual refers to someone who lacks a sexual attraction or interest in sexual activities with others. Often called “ace(s)” for short, asexual individuals exist on a spectrum, wherein someone can be completely or partially asexual, meaning they may experience no, little, or conditional sexual attraction to another person. Little interest in sex, however, doesn’t diminish a person’s desire for emotionally intimate relationships. 

Cisgender, or simply “cis,” describes a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth. The terms cisgender and transgender originate from Latin-derived prefixes of “cis,” meaning “on this side of,” and “trans,” meaning “across from.” Just as “trans” can be added to terms describing gender to identify someone as a trans-woman or trans-man, the same can be done to say cis-woman or cis-man to identify someone as adhering to the sex associated with their gender at birth.

Meanwhile, gender non-conforming refers to someone who doesn’t behave in line with the traditional expectations of their gender. These individuals may express their gender in ways that aren’t easily categorizable as a specific gender. While many gender non-conforming people also identify as transgender, that isn’t the case for all gender non-conforming people.

Under the larger umbrella of gender non-conforming identity, non-binary describes a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Non-binary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or completely outside of those labels. 

Some non-binary people identify as transgender, but non-binary also references other identities such as agender (a person who does not identify as any gender), bigender (a person with two gender identities or a combination of two gender identities), genderqueer or gender-fluid.

Genderqueer people commonly reject notions of rigid categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and sometimes sexual orientation. People with this identity may see themselves as being both male and female, or neither as they fall outside of binary gender norms. Gender-fluid is also within this range of non-conformity as these individuals don’t identify with a single fixed gender.

In terms of sexuality, pansexual refers to someone with the potential for emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to people of any gender. These feelings don’t necessarily arise simultaneously or to the same degree, and sometimes the term is used interchangeably with bisexual.

More recently, the two-spirit gender identity has enjoyed more mainstream use. Chosen to describe certain North American Indigenous and Canadian First Nation people who identify with a third gender, the term implies a masculine and feminine spirit in one body. 

Other gender expressions such as masc, referring to representations of masculinity without necessarily claiming a relationship to manhood, and femme, meaning expressions of femininity regardless of gender and relations to womanhood, are also used to describe how people dynamically express gender outside of gender norms.

Yet, just as terminology for self-identification is introduced, so are also new ways to describe how an individual feels about their identity. One term that everyone can relate to or aspire to have is gender euphoria – the joyful experience and sense of self that occurs when a person’s authentic gender is expressed and acknowledged by themselves and/or by others.

Most importantly, though, LGBTQ+ people use a variety of terms to identify themselves, some of which may not be mentioned in this article. Always listen for a person’s self-identification to use the preferred terms for them. 

(The Human Rights Campaign and Johns Hopkins University contributed to this report.)

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