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Drinkery re-opens after liquor board reversal

‘A great day for Mount Vernon’



The Drinkery, gay news, Washington Blade
The Drinkery, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore’s Drinkery has re-opened. (Photo by Steve Charing)

Just two weeks after the Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners voted 2-1 to close The Drinkery, a gay bar in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, the decision was reversed on June 2.

Those protesting the license renewal at the hearing on May 19 complained about alleged rowdiness, excessive noise, drug activity and violence in and around the establishment, which has operated for 44 years. This was presented through a signed petition; letters sent to the board by residents, nearby businesses and local politicians; and testimony at the hearing.

Commissioners Dana Peterson Moore and Albert J. Matricciani had voted not to renew The Drinkery’s liquor license; Aaron Greenfield voted for renewal.

In declaring her vote then, Moore stated, “What matters are the facts” and cited “contempt by the owner toward the community.”

However, it was Moore who reversed her decision on June 2 following a motion for reconsideration by The Drinkery’s 87-year-old owner Frederick Allen.

According to the Baltimore Sun, “Allen’s motion noted that Jason Curtis, who signed a petition and testified against the Drinkery in the May 19 hearing, is listed on the liquor license of another Mount Vernon establishment, Hotel Indigo. The board’s rules specify that a protest against a license renewal can be signed by “residents, commercial tenants (who are not holders or applicants for a liquor license), or real estate owners in the immediate vicinity of the licensed place of business.”

The Sun stated that Curtis’ failure to disclose his liquor license was sufficient to change the board’s mind. Curtis, who was the former president of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association that led the effort to prevent The Drinkery’s license renewal and in 2012 ran unsuccessfully to be the first openly gay man to be elected to the City Council, did not respond to a request from the Blade for comment.

The Community Law Center, which represented the MVBA in its efforts against The Drinkery, could appeal the decision, according to the Sun.

News of the reversal was welcomed by many in Baltimore’s LGBT community. “This is a great day for an inclusive Mount Vernon, Mark McLaurin, a Baltimore resident and a frequent patron of The Drinkery, told the Blade. “Special thanks to Commissioners Moore and Greenfield for being willing to reconsider a hastily reached decision.”

Another customer, RJ Ladd, lamented the loss of gay bars in Baltimore. “I’m glad that the liquor board reconsidered the matter. Our gay bars are a dying breed. Let’s keep the remaining few around,” he said.

The Drinkery re-opened on Saturday at 11 a.m. to much relief and jubilance by its patrons.

However, there had been considerable disquiet and finger pointing following the initial vote to close the bar. Community members were angry that three gay men testified to close the longtime gay establishment.

“The gay men who organized the efforts to close The Drinkery created a lot discord and distrust in the community,” activist Brian Gaither told the Blade. “To get their way they exploited anti-gay prejudice in a way that undermines decades of work by activists in the city. The whole thing is shameful and appalling.”

In a statement dated June 6, the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association explained the rationale for their protest of the license renewal.


District of Columbia

D.C. Pride officials monitoring Canadian wildfire smoke conditions

Whitman-Walker advises caution if attending outdoor events



Smoke from the Canadian wildfires have created air quality disturbances across the East Coast. (Screen capture via WUSA9 YouTube)

Organizers of D.C.’s Capital Pride parade scheduled for Saturday, June 10, and the Capital Pride Festival scheduled for Sunday, June 11, which were expected to draw hundreds of thousands of spectators and participants, are monitoring the air quality situation following the Code Red hazardous alert issued by city officials on Wednesday and Thursday.

D.C. officials issued the alerts after massive smoke clouds caused by dozens of Canadian wildfires moved into the mid-Atlantic region, including the D.C. metropolitan area, on Wednesday and were expected to remain in the area at least through Thursday and possibly Friday.

“As with all concerns regarding health and safety issues, the Capital Pride Alliance will monitor the air quality situation resulting from Canadian wildfire smoke and take necessary precautions in consultation with our partners in the D.C. government,” said Ryan Bos, executive director of the Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes D.C.’s annual Pride parade, festival, and other Pride events.

“Any updates or changes will be posted on our website and social media,” Bos told the Washington Blade.

Local and national meteorologists said late Wednesday that it was uncertain whether atmospheric conditions would push the smoke clouds away from the D.C. area by Saturday and Sunday. But they said with rain not expected to come to the region until Monday, the poor air quality could last through the weekend.

In response to an inquiry from the Blade, Dr. Sara Henn, the Chief Health Officer at D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Health, urged those planning to attend the weekend Pride events to “keep an eye on the Air Quality Index (AQI),” which provides the status of the air quality.

“If it is orange or red or purple you may want to modify your plans,” Henn said. She was referring to the AQI score of orange, which is considered potentially harmful to people in risk groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, and people with lung or heart conditions.

The “red” AQI reading is considered to be unhealthy for most or all people regardless of the state of their health. A “purple” AQI reading is considered dangerous for everyone.

“A lot will depend on the wind and how it changes over the next couple of days,” Henn said. “Even healthy regular runners should reduce their outdoor activities on red air quality days and if the air quality is purple people really should stay indoors and events should be rescheduled, if possible,” Henn said.

Henn said those spending time outdoors on code red days should use the KN95 face masks that were considered protective against the COVID virus during the pandemic years.

“Wear them when you are outside to help protect yourself against the air pollution and take them off indoors,” Henn said.

Among those scheduled to participate in the Capital Pride Parade is D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

The mayor’s office released a statement on Wednesday reminding city residents that the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment issued a “Code Red” air quality alert for Wednesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 8.

“Smoke from Canadian wildfires is causing unhealthy air quality in the Washington, D.C. area and the northeast United States, and this problem is likely to continue through Friday,” the mayor’s statement says.

D.C. Health and DOEE recommend that residents pay attention to local air quality reports and the U.S. Air Quality Index at,” the statement says.

More information on air quality can be found here.

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District of Columbia

Large crowds expected at Capital Pride parade, festival

Bowser says there are no credible threats to events



Mayor Muriel Bowser said last week at a press conference that there are no credible threats to D.C.’s Pride celebrations. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday.

The parade will follow a 1.5-mile route that will step off on 14th Street at T Street, N.W., and finish on P Street at 21st Street, N.W. A map of the expected parade route can be found on the Capital Pride website

The Capital Block Party will take place at the intersection of Q and 17th Streets, N.W., during the parade. The party will feature local vendors, food trucks and a 21+ beverage garden and it will also have a designated viewing area for families with children to watch the parade, along with other children’s activities. 

The fourth annual Pride on the Pier will take place at the Wharf during the parade. The event, hosted by the Washington Blade, LURe DC and the Wharf, will have a fireworks show, a DJ and more. 

The parade will be followed by the Capital Pride Festival on June 11. Taking place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., the festival will feature more than 300 booths with local vendors, businesses and organizations. From 12-8 p.m., the Capital Pride Concert will host acts such as Broadway actress Idina Menzel and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Monét X Change.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser last Thursday told the Washington Blade after she helped to raise the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building that there have been no credible threats to any upcoming Pride events in D.C. amid a rise in violence against the LGBTQ community. 

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” Bowser said. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a bomb threat made on Twitter for the annual District Pride concert scheduled for June 29 at the Lincoln Theatre.

Temperatures are forecast to reach the mid-80s on Saturday and the low-90s on Sunday. Precipitation chances on both days are low.

With recent air quality issues, Alert DC is advising those with respiratory issues to wear masks, avoid strenuous activities and reduce time spent outdoors.

Further details and a full calendar of events can be found on the Capital Pride website.

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Moore signs executive order to protect gender-affirming health care in Md.

Ceremony took place during Pride month reception at Government House



Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on June 5, 2023, signs an executive order that protects gender-affirming health care in the state. (Photo from Moore's office)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Monday signed an executive order that protects gender-affirming health care in the state.

Moore signed the directive during a Pride month reception at Government House in Annapolis.

“In the state of Maryland, nobody should have to justify their own humanity,” said Moore. “This order is focused on ensuring Maryland is a safe place for gender affirming care, especially as other states take misguided and hateful steps to make gender affirming care cause for legal retribution. In Maryland, we are going to lead on this issue.”

“In signing this executive order, this administration is saying to all LGBTQIA+ Marylanders: You deserve to be your authentic selves — during Pride month and every month,” added Lieutenant Gov. Aruna Miller. “You deserve to live safely, openly and freely; and receive the gender-affirming care you need.”

Moore last month signed the Trans Health Equity Act, which requires Maryland’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming care. Moore on March 31 signed a proclamation that proclaimed the day as the International Transgender Day of Visibility in Maryland. 

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