Mary Wilson shares Motown memories
Legendary Supremes singer in D.C. for Blues Alley engagement
Now that we’re 50 years removed from the 1960s, there’s enormous interest in all things Motown.
Of course the label’s popularity never really went away but a flurry of recent events, from Broadway’s “Motown: the Musical” to exhibits of the Supremes’ legendary stage gowns to deluxe reissues of many of the label’s classic albums, point to a Motown fever burning as hot as ever.
Supremes founding member Mary Wilson — the only singer to stay in the group for its entire run — is in the midst of a four-night engagement at Washington’s Blues Alley. She spoke with the Blade by phone this week from her home in Las Vegas on a wide spate of topics from her recent dance hit, her stint on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” her oft-misunderstood relationship with Diana Ross and more.
WASHINGTON BLADE: Tell us a little of what you have planned for your Blues Alley engagement, please.
MARY WILSON: It’s a combination. Last time I was there I believe I did my straight sort-of jazz show, so this time I will probably do some of the American songbook and some Supremes songs as well because I know a lot of people would like to hear that. So it will be a combination of all of that. I love doing ballads, you know, love songs. Also it’s Valentine’s week, so I have to honor that because I believe in love.
BLADE: Is it taxing to do two shows each night?
WILSON: I don’t normally do two shows so yeah, it really is. It’s a little harder now that I’m 72, almost 73. I’ll be 73 in March so it can be a little taxing because I’m used to doing one. But I love being on stage. I don’t have a problem performing it’s just, you know, the traveling and all that other stuff that makes it a little more difficult.
BLADE: On average, how much of the year do you spend on the road?
WILSON: I usually do about three to four gigs a month.
BLADE: It must have been gratifying to have a dance hit a little over a year ago when “Time to Move On” hit no. 23 on the Billboard dance chart.
WILSON: It was great. I mean, I didn’t even realize that was going to happen. We recorded that song years ago with a young man out of the Imagination group, Leee John. I think it was in 2002. Some beautiful people out in the San Francisco area, Sweet Feet Music, decided they wanted to release it. I was like, “Oh my God, OK.” So then we went in and did the video and they put it out and it charted. I was so surprised and elated that it charted. It was beautiful and wonderful.
BLADE: How did Sweet Feet even know about it?
WILSON: Well the Supremes fans are just everywhere. I don’t know. I think they knew Leee John. The Imagination may not have been as big here in the states, but they were big in the UK so they knew them.
BLADE: There was such a nice stash of Supremes album reissues and deluxe sets from Hip-O Select over several years but they seem to have suddenly stopped about two years ago. Do you know if any more are planned?
WILSON: I’m not sure. … I know Universal — I feel funny saying Universal instead of Motown — but I know they’re re-releasing our “Go-Go” album. I was just at Universal when I was in New York at the B.B. King club and I went and did some interviews there and they played me a lot of songs.
BLADE: The bonus disc for the “I Hear a Symphony” expanded edition in 2012 had an entire 1966 Supremes concert recorded at the Roostertail in Detroit. Do you know how commonly Supremes concerts were recorded?
WILSON: I really don’t know. Things are showing up now that I didn’t even know had been recorded because this was before everyone had their cell phones and this and that.
BLADE: So you had the Supremes gowns in your possession all these years? It must have cost a fortune to store them all this time.
WILSON: This is true. Well yeah, I just had them in storage. I have a pretty large home here in Las Vegas so some I had in the basement but then it got to be too much so I had them in storage areas here. My daughter says I’m a hoarder but I say what I’m hoarding is worth a fortune. She never really understood it. … Some were in boxes. One of the famous ones I’m having restored. It was beaded on chiffon and just got so worn that the beads were falling off, so I’m having them repaired.
BLADE: Did you keep all the wigs too?
WILSON: Wigs not as much. They tend to get really old and then they’re no good. Pretty much everyone kept their own wigs throughout the years so I never really had a lot of those, but the gowns, yes. I do have everyone’s gowns except the ones that were stolen. … There was a lot of stuff stored at Motown where we originally stored them and when the building in Detroit was torn down, a lot of people just started taking stuff — pictures, masters, gowns. Some have landed elsewhere. There are a couple here in the Hard Rock Cafe casino in Vegas, so they’ve been all over the place. I don’t know how else they ended up here and there other than people just took them when the building was torn down. I even got a few of them back on eBay.
BLADE: There wasn’t as much Motown stuff in the National Museum of African-American History here in Washington as I would have thought. Were you ever in touch with its staff about having some Supremes items there?
WILSON: You know what, I’m a little disappointed because I offered them my gown exhibit to be displayed there and I never heard back from them. I made a presentation and everything. I guess they had so many things, so many artifacts, they couldn’t take everything so I understood, but I was disappointed. When I’m in D.C., I’m going to try and go see it. I’m very thrilled it’s there. I’m just not happy the Supremes gowns aren’t part of it.
BLADE: It seems insane to me that the Supremes never won a Grammy in the ‘60s. Was there some anti-Motown sentiment in the industry at the time or what?
WILSON: I really don’t know. It’s kind of hurtful when I hear of so many people having Grammys. We had 12 number one records but did not ever receive a Grammy. Three of our singles, much later, were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, but that was all done after the fact. So yeah, I’m a little pissed on it.
BLADE: There are some Supremes B-sides like “Going Down for the Third Time” that sound to me like they could have been hits. Or some minor hits like “Some Things You Never Get Used To” seem like they should have charted higher. Are there any Supremes tracks you think could have been hits but weren’t released as singles or had the potential to chart higher than they did?
WILSON: I’ve never been one to know much about what’s a hit and what’s not a hit. I do think some of the songs were really quite good but for them to have been hits, I don’t really know. There were certainly a lot I really liked.
BLADE: So many elaborate sculptures and paintings have been done of the Supremes over the years. Which are your favorites?
WILSON: I receive so many beautiful pieces of art that people have done on us. One person who’s passed now, his name was Ted LeMaster did quite a few lovely paintings. I think I have four of them and they’re just absolutely gorgeous. I’m working on a coffee table book of the Supremes gowns so I should include some of those as well. There’s another guy and, oh gee, I may have to get you his name later because it’s not coming to me off the top of my head, but he does these Supremes dolls and they are just beautiful. There are lots of artists out there and they send things to me all the time. I have them all over my place here.
BLADE: How did you enjoy being a guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race”?
WILSON: It was great. He was just wonderful. You know, gorgeous. He’s a big Diana Ross fan so it was almost like seeing Diane in a way because he kind of does her thing. He looks great and all that stuff and it was loads of fun. I met so many wonderful, or I should say gorgeous, so many gorgeous people.
BLADE: The Frontier shows, the last with Miss Ross, that became the “Farewell” album in 1970 — was that set list pretty much the Supremes show in 1969 or was some of the stuff you did there, like the “Aquarius” medley with all the audience sing-alongs, was that maybe just worked up for that engagement knowing so many celebrities would be present?
WILSON: No, that was pretty much our normal show we toured with that year. Everything we did there, we’d pretty much been touring with, yes.
BLADE: Do you keep in touch often with (former Supremes) Cindy Birdsong and/or (Ross replacement) Jean Terrell?
WILSON: Yes. Last year we had the gown exhibit at the Grammy museum and I invited all the ladies there for that. Jean Terrell came, Scherrie Payne was there and Susaye Greene. I keep up with Cindy but I don’t see her as often as I want since she’s in L.A. and I’m in Vegas but I spend a lot of time in L.A. so I see her when I’m there.
BLADE: Is she well?
WILSON: I don’t want to get too much into her personal things. She’s a little older and she’s had some health issues.
BLADE: Do you ever hear from (founding Supreme) Florence Ballard’s three daughters? (Ballard left the group in 1967 and died in 1976.)
WILSON: Yes, whenever I’m in Detroit, they always come out and we talk on the phone a lot actually. So yeah, I do keep up — well, I should say they keep up with me, let’s put it that way.
BLADE: Did you enjoy “Motown: the Musical”?
WILSON: I loved it. I thought it was wonderful. Obviously it was Berry Gordy’s perception of what was going on and everybody, you know, there’ve been all these books, everybody has their own way of looking at it, but it’s all true. It’s just different perceptions from different people. The musical is more Berry’s perspective so he’s obviously looking from the top down. We were looking from down to up, but it’s just the way different people perceived it. But I absolutely loved it. In fact just a week or so ago it opened in L.A. and I flew out there and attended the opening. I was also at the London opening and, of course, the New York opening was also great.
BLADE: It looked like there was a lot of warmth between you and Berry and Diana at the opening. Would you say feelings have mellowed over the years?
WILSON: There always was. Some things that are brought out further tend to be the more negative things. Things that were really great are not broadcast as much so people tend to think there was a lot more dislike there but that’s just not true. We were all very, very close. There were always things going on like maybe you didn’t like this … that didn’t mean that the love was not there. It always was. But we were all different, we all had our own opinions so a lot of times when you speak out, people say, “Oh my God, they’re having a fight, they hate each other,” and that’s just not true. It’s just different likes and dislikes.
BLADE: I’ve read a lot of the books — your books, Randy Taraborrelli’s books. It always seems like a handful of incidents get told and retold. When you think of all the hours you and Florence and Diana obviously spent together rehearsing, traveling and recording, there had to have been more peace than tension or you’d never have gotten anything done.
WILSON: Well that’s what I’m saying. Some of the things that were brought out and broadcast as if they were major, major things, it’s just not true. People think there’s some big feud between Diane and I and there really is not. It’s just that she’s gone her way and I’ve done my thing so no, we’re not close, but that’s just because over the last 50-some years, our lives have gone in several different directions. I love her as much as I love Flo. People tend to think I love Flo more because they view it as we worked together more on the choreography, on the harmony. We were always together. And now Florence is not here to protect herself, so I don’t talk about her a lot because of that. But I don’t love Flo anymore than I love Diane. I love them both as much as I love my own sister.
BLADE: Did you see Mary Wells much in her later years? Do you think she regretted leaving Motown so early?
WILSON: I saw Mary up to the very end of her life. I actually worked with her trying to do whatever we could in terms of her cancer bout. I don’t know — I never talked to her about that so I really don’t know.
BLADE: It’s staggering to me the amount of material the Supremes recorded in the ‘60s. You must have been in the studio constantly.
WILSON: Well, we were also on the road a lot, too. But yes, what happened sometimes is we would fly into Detroit, record a few songs and then fly right out. So yes, we did record a lot of songs.
BLADE: Now that so many have been released on these expanded editions, I’m sure there are some you have no memory of, right?
WILSON: Not just songs. Sometimes I see pictures that I can’t remember and yet there I am in the picture. It’s just because there were so, so many. There really were.
BLADE: So much has been made of (Motown session singers) the Andantes singing with Diana on Supremes studio material the last few years she was in the group. But you and Cindy obviously still had to learn the parts for TV and concerts. If that was seen as some sort of time-saving device, what was the rationale?
WILSON: There was a lot going on then. Diane was already starting to record songs for her departure, so a lot of times, it was for that reason. But then they’d decide to use some of the recordings on Supremes albums even though we hadn’t been there. That happened a lot. Other times we were out rehearsing with Jean Terrell for the new group, so it was almost like being in two groups there for a while. Cindy was also still fairly new in the group so there wasn’t a lot of cohesiveness those last couple years. And the producers, you know, it’s like this with a lot of my friends who are actors and actresses, a lot of times it’s the producers and writers who make these kinds of decisions and you’re not even in on the decision making in the group. And then of course, Motown was moving to L.A. so there was a lot of stuff going an and we were not really looked upon as a group anymore because obviously Diane was leaving and all. It had to do with a lot of that stuff.
BLADE: You and Florence always had such great harmony and obviously it was before the days of Auto-Tune and all the studio bells and whistles they have now. Did you have to learn to sing harmony or was it something you were able to do naturally?
WILSON: Well it wasn’t just me and Flo, it was me, Flo and Diane and we all sang harmony together a lot. That was really our style naturally. That’s what you did back in those days, you sang. You didn’t have anything else to rely on. We didn’t even need music. We did shows in the early years without music or maybe just with a guitarist, Marvin Tarplin. So no, it was very natural and we didn’t have any help in that department. Actually the Supremes were a very harmonic group in terms of our style, that’s what we did. I kind of hated later on when we lost that because it was something we’d been very good at. It’s hard to harmonize with just two people. Before when we had Diane and (early members) Betty (McGlown) and Barbara (Martin), with four people, you know, you could do great harmony. We kind of lost that style when we found the hits. They were great, of course, but we lost something we were good at.
BLADE: I feel like (Four Tops lead singer) Levi Stubbs is one of the unsung heroes of Motown in a way. He was so committed to the group and had no apparent interest in solo fame like David Ruffin or Diana Ross. Was that just his personality?
WILSON: Yeah, that was his personality and, you know, it was great for the group. But some things like who’s around you and how you feel about it, those are very individual things but that’s one thing about Levi — he was very dedicated to his group.
BLADE: Whenever I see the (1968 TV special) “TCB,” that elevated glass stage looks so precarious. I assume it was taped on a soundstage somewhere. Part of me is always thinking you or the Temptations are going to fall off the edge of it or it will topple over or something silly.
WILSON: There was no danger of that. It was this very huge, Plexiglass stage and there was no way of us falling off. It was as large as any stage, probably larger than most stages. I think it was taped at NBC Studios but I’m not totally sure.
BLADE: What would Florence think of all this endless interest in the Supremes all these years?
WILSON: I think she’d feel the same as I — amazed that it’s lasted this long and that people are still interested. I wish she were here to see that people are still in love with Flo, Diane and Mary. As Flo said, “Honey, we is terrific.” And it’s true. Everywhere I go, people ask me more about Flo than they do about me or Diane. I think she would be very, very happy to know that she is so well remembered. When I sing “I Am Changing” (from “Dreamgirls”) in the show, and of course I dedicate it to Flo, the audience almost always gives me a standing ovation just when I’m saying that. She would be elated. I wish fate had been different for her. She was not like me. I got a chance to fight back and show the world who I am. Everybody can’t be, you know, the star of the show but you can certainly be a star in the show and that’s the way I look at it.
Another busy summer season arrives in Rehoboth Beach
Fine dining, drag shows, theater, and more on tap for 2023
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 bluemoonrehoboth.com 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.
Pride season arrives!
LGBTQ community events planned across region
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. (transpridewashingtondc.org) 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 (equalitypincewilliam.org) 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 (dcblackpride.org) 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.
The third Caroline County Pride Festival (carolinepride.com) “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.
Baltimore Trans Pride (baltimoresafehaven.org/transpride) 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 (annapolispride.org) 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.
Reston Pride (restonpiride.org) 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.
Ellicott City, Md. holds OEC Pride (visitoldellicottcity.com/events/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 (facebook.com/SuffolkPrideVA) 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 (portsmouthprideva.com) 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 (alexandriava.gov/LGBTQ) 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 (cumberlandpride.org) 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.
Culpepper County in rural Virginia will be getting its very first pride celebration with Culpepper Pride Festival (culpeperpride.com) 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 (eqloco.com) 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.
Delaware Pride (delawarepride.org) 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 (capitalpride.org) 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 prideonthepierdc.com for tickets and information.
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 allevents.in 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 (delmarvapridecenter.com) 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 (rockvillemd.gov/2276/Rockville-Pride) on Saturday, June 24 from 1-4 p.m. at Rockville Town Square (131 Gibbs Street, Rockville, Md.).
Arlington Pride (arlvapride.com) 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 (fxbgpride.org) 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 (frederickpride.org) 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.
The Salisbury Pride (salisburyprideparade.com) 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 (hamptonroadspride.org) 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 (baltimorepride.org) 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.
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).
Self-identification: What the plus in ‘LGBTQ+’ means
Terminology rapidly expanding into mainstream dialogue
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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