The University of Baltimore Law School’s LGBT group, OUT Law, presented its annual COBALT awards on April 20 at the University of Baltimore with approximately 40 in attendance. COBALT stands for Celebration of Our Baltimore Area LGBT Trailblazers.
“We honor individuals in the greater Baltimore area for their outstanding contributions to the LGBT community,” Robert Steininger, President of OUT Law, told the Blade. Activist Brian Gaither and Red Emma’s, a bookstore and coffeehouse cooperative in the Station North area of Baltimore, were recognized in this year’s ceremony.
Safe spaces for LGBT individuals was the theme for this year’s awards.
“Brian Gaither is receiving the Mark F. Scurti award for his work as the director of Maryland Pride Foundation of Maryland that has connected LGBT Marylanders to safe and supportive spaces especially those in rural communities,” says Steininger.
“Red Emma’s is being honored for creating a safe space where LGBT Marylanders can have their voices heard through community-run events such as the history of activism in LGBT neighborhoods.”
In 2007, Scurti received a Distinguished Alumni Award for his work for OUT Law. The award has been renamed the “Mark F. Scurti Award for Outstanding Contributions to the LGBT Community.” Scurti, a well-known gay attorney in Baltimore’s LGBT community, is now an associate judge on the District Court for Baltimore City.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for the work of the Pride Foundation of Maryland and to share the 2017 COBALT Award with Red Emma’s,” Gaither told the Blade. “We should all be working to make every last part of the country a safe space for LGBTQ people.” The Pride Foundation of Maryland was founded in 2014.
“The workers of Red Emma’s are honored by the award,” Ava Pipitone, one of the partners in the Red Emma’s worker cooperative, told the Blade. “Our project is the manifestation of the labor and love of the many organizers and creators who continually shape the space. No one person deserves credit. Red Emma’s is the sanctuary we come to today because all workers fight for it to be so. Queer, trans, People of Color, LGB, and Black sanctuaries are an ongoing collective effort.”