Thousands enjoyed Pride Unleashed, Baltimore’s LGBTQ celebration in Station North last Saturday and the customary festival in Druid Hill Park on Sunday. Pride is run by the GLBT Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB).
The parade and block party took place under cloudy skies. The parade traveled a longer distance than in the past starting from Mount Vernon and ending up in Station North for the first time.
All told, 113 units participated including six drum-beating bands, according to Pride Parade Chair Donald Young. It took three hours to complete the route and was done so without any incidents or demonstrations.
Mindful of recent terrorist attacks, extra police and private security were evident during the events, and city government provided dump trucks to block specific cross streets along the parade route and block party areas to prevent vehicles from deliberately slamming into pedestrians.
Among the elected officials marching were Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, State Sen. Rich Madaleno, and Council member Eric Costello.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, who suspended leave for officers on Saturday for added security, also joined in the parade. U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Del. Mary Washington served as parade grand marshals.
“I enjoy seeing politicians supporting us,” said Gianna, a queer graduate student who lives in Baltimore.
Reagan, a transgender man and a law student at University of Maryland, said observing the parade, “This Pride is a lot better organized than last year’s. I like that Pride has expanded to Station North because the community is expanding in that direction.”
The parade judges awarded the following: Best Float – First Royal Drag Family of Maryland; Best Walking Unit – Faith Communities of Baltimore; Best Car – Pride @ T. Rowe Price; Best Marching Band – The Band Marching Unit; and the Mayor’s Award – New Edition Legacy Marching Band.
Popular drag entertainer Shawnna Alexander was presented a lifetime achievement award for her work in Pride.
Prior to the parade, Neal Naff and Don Davis co-hosted a reception for the two grand marshals at Grand Central. About 80 attended the event, including prospective Maryland gubernatorial candidates Rich Madaleno and Kevin Kamenetz, State Delegates Luke Clippinger and Brooke Lierman and Howard County Register of Wills Byron MacFarlane.
“This is an opportunity for Baltimoreans and Marylanders to get together and celebrate,” Van Hollen told the Blade. “But we also must be vigilant of those who want to turn back progress.”
The Sunday festival in Druid Hill Park saw fewer food vendor trucks than previous years, which was a common complaint. Otherwise, good crowds enjoyed the multitude of vendor booths and entertainment.
“We are very proud of the work done at the Center to put out an amazing Pride,” Mimi Demissew, the GLCCB’s co-executive director told the Blade. “We are very thankful to the volunteers who helped make Pride possible.”