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Pride events in New York, Pgh., Philly and more run thru June and beyond

Cyndi Lauper, Billy Porter, Todrick Hall and Whoopi booked for N.Y. events



regional prides, gay news, Washington Blade
Todrick Hall, who’ll be at Capital Pride this weekend, is also slated to appear at New York Pride later in the month. (File photo courtesy Howard Theatre)

Excitement is in the air as communities through the greater D.C. area celebrate Stonewall’s 50th anniversary with Pride events, many for the first time. 

New York City will host the largest celebration with World Pride events spanning the entire month. The opening ceremony is June 26 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center (620 Atlantic Ave.) from 7-10 p.m. and is hosted by Whoopi Goldberg with performances by Cyndi Lauper, Billy Porter, Chaka Khan, Ciara, Daya and Todrick Hall. Tickets range from $45-226. Rally: Stonewall 50 Commemoration is June 28, 6-9 p.m. at Christopher St. and Waverly Place and is a free event. Youth Pride is June 29, 12-6 p.m. at SummerStage, Central Park (5th Avenue at 69th St.) and admission is free for under 21, but registration is required. The VIP Rooftop Party is June 29, 2-10 p.m. at The Park (118 10th Ave.). Tickets start at $100. PrideFest is June 30, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at 4th Ave. between Union Square and Astor. Admission is free. The closing ceremony is June 20 in Times Square from 7-10 p.m. The event is free but registration is required. Margaret Cho is the host with performances by Melissa Etheridge, Jake Shears, MNEK, Deborah Cox and others to be announced. For more tickets and information, visit

Pittsburgh Pride runs June 6-9 and this year’s theme is “We are One.” Events begin June 6 at 8 p.m. with the Wheels & Heels drag show at Video Lounge & Cafe (5801 Ellsworth Ave.) hosted by Lola LeCroix and staring Sharon Needles, Dixie Surewood, Daniel Vasquez and Anna Steezia. The event is free, but every dollar tipped to a queen will be matched by a Lyft donation to Proud Haven Pittsburgh. June 7-8 is Pride Rocks PGH with headliners Walk the Moon and Toni Braxton. Tickets start at $39. PrideFest is June 8, at noon to June 9, at 7 p.m. The festival includes vendors, three stages and free STI and HIV testing. Admission is free. June 9 is the Equality March from 12:30-2:30 p.m. from Blvd of the Allies to Liberty Ave. June 28 at 6 p.m. is NYC to PGH: 50 Years After Stonewall, a commemorative celebration unveiling a permanent art installation at the intersection of Ellsworth and Maryland streets, and July 7 is Pride Day at the Pirates and Tailgate. Game time is 1:35 p.m. and tickets are $30. Visit for more information. 

Philly Pride is June 9 starting at 11 a.m. with a kick-off party June 7 from 6-10 p.m. at 12th and Locust streets. The parade begins June 9 at 13th and Locust and ends at the festival location at the Grand Plaza of Penn’s Landing. Refreshments, food, amusements and wristbands for the festival are $10 June 7 and $15 June 9. More information and local Stonewall-related history is at

The inaugural Annapolis Pride Parade and Festival is June 29. The parade runs from noon-12:45 p.m. from Amos Garrett to Calvert street, and the festival is from noon-5 p.m. between Calvert street and Church Circle. Planned is a family-friendly event with vendors, children’s activities and entertainment from local artists and DJs. More information is available at

Howard County, Maryland will also host its first Pride celebration June 29 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Centennial Park in Elliott City. Its kick-off event is June 28 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the Carroll Baldwin Community Hall (9035 Baltimore Street, Savage, Md.) and will be filled with food, fun and a friendly atmosphere. For more information visit

Eastern Panhandle Pride is June 28-29 in Shepherdstown, West Va. June 28, starting at 5 p.m., is the Pride Pub Crawl supporting local businesses and June 29 from 11-4 p.m. is the North King street fair featuring vendors, artisans, nonprofits and a poetry walk. June 29 is also a dance party/drag show from 8 p.m.-midnight at the War Memorial building (102 E. German St.) honoring the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Visit for details. 

Hampton Roads Pride in Norfolk, Va., begins with a block party June 21 and culminates in PrideFest on June 22 in Norfolk’s Town Point Park. June 22 is also the ninth annual PrideFest boat parade. Locals and visitors can board the ship American Rover for “Out on the Boat,” a two-hour cruise on the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor. There will be a DJ on Board as well as a Gourmet Gang lunch and drinks available for purchase. For more information visit

Frederick Pride is June 22 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at Carroll Creek Linear Park in downtown Frederick, Md. The event is organized by The Frederick Center, which is dedicated to support, educate, link and provide outreach to the LGBT community of central Maryland. This is the city’s eighth annual event and admission is free. More information is available at

More Pride celebrations occur later in the year. 

Hagerstown Pride, “Love Grows,” is July 13 from 11:30 a.m.- 6 p.m. At this time their plans have not been finalized but will be posted soon at

The Miss Shenandoah Vally Pride Pageant is July 13 from 7-11 p.m. at the Court Square Theater (41 Court Sq., Harrisonburg, Va.) is also the  hosted by the Shenandoah Vally Pride Alliance. Tickets are $7. The Shenandoah Valley Pride Festival is Sept. 21 at 80 Court Square in Harrisonburg, Va. For more information, look for the event on Facebook. 

The 27th annual Pride Festival of Central Pa. is July 27 at the Soldier’s Grove Memorial Park, Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex in Harrisburg, Pa. The event runs from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and the suggested admission donation is $10. The headliner is Aja, a nonbinary queer artist and performer who brings the art of drag into the masculine-dominated world of hip-hop and had a breakout performance on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Visit for more details. 

VA PrideFest 2019 is a free and family-friendly event scheduled for Sept. 28 at Browns Island in Richmond, Va. Vendor registration is currently open and more details will be posted as they are available on

The Northern Virginia Pride Festival festival will be at Bull Run Regional Park (7700 Bull Run Drive, Centerville, Va.) Sept. 28 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. According to, Northern Virginia has a large and steadily growing LGBTQ population and event organizers felt a need to recognize this sizable community. While this year’s event is still in the works, their website notes entertainers from previous years to include local singers, bands, comedians and drag performers are excited to return for another year. Check soon for details. 



New book offers observations on race, beauty, love

‘How to Live Free in a Dangerous World’ is a journey of discovery



(Book cover image courtesy of Tiny Reparations Books)

‘How to Live Free in a Dangerous World: A Decolonial Memoir’
By Shayla Lawson
c.2024, Tiny Reparations Books
$29/320 pages

Do you really need three pairs of shoes?

The answer is probably yes: you can’t dance in hikers, you can’t shop in stilettos, you can’t hike in clogs. So what else do you overpack on this long-awaited trip? Extra shorts, extra tees, you can’t have enough things to wear. And in the new book “How to Live Free in a Dangerous World” by Shayla Lawson, you’ll need to bring your curiosity.

Minneapolis has always been one of their favorite cities, perhaps because Shayla Lawson was at one of Prince’s first concerts. They weren’t born yet; they were there in their mother’s womb and it was the first of many concerts.

In all their travels, Lawson has noticed that “being a Black American” has its benefits. People in other countries seem to hold Black Americans in higher esteem than do people in America. Still, there’s racism – for instance, their husband’s family celebrates Christmas in blackface.

Yes, Lawson was married to a Dutch man they met in Harlem. “Not Haarlem,” Lawson is quick to point out, and after the wedding, they became a housewife, learned the language of their husband, and fell in love with his grandmother. Alas, he cheated on them and the marriage didn’t last. He gave them a dog, which loved them more than the man ever did.

They’ve been to Spain, and saw a tagline in which a dark-skinned Earth Mother was created. Said Lawson, “I find it ironic, to be ordained a deity when it’s been a … journey to be treated like a person.”

They’ve fallen in love with “middle-American drag: it’s the glitteriest because our mothers are the prettiest.” They changed their pronouns after a struggle “to define my identity,” pointing out that in many languages, pronouns are “genderless.” They looked upon Frida Kahlo in Mexico, and thought about their own disability. And they wish you a good trip, wherever you’re going.

“No matter where you are,” says Lawson, “may you always be certain who you are. And when you are, get everything you deserve.”

Crack open the front cover of “How to Live Free in a Dangerous World” and you might wonder what the heck you just got yourself into. The first chapter is artsy, painted with watercolors, and difficult to peg. Stick around, though. It gets better.

Past that opening, author Shayna Lawson takes readers on a not-so-little trip, both world-wide and with observant eyes – although it seems, at times, that the former is secondary to that which Lawson sees. Readers won’t mind that so much; the observations on race, beauty, love, the attitudes of others toward America, and finding one’s best life are really what takes the wheel in this memoir anyhow. Reading this book, therefore, is not so much a vacation as it is a journey of discovery and joy.

Just be willing to keep reading, that’s all you need to know to get the most out of this book. Stick around and “How to Live Free in a Dangerous World” is what to pack.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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PHOTOS: Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch

Sen. Butler delivers keynote address



Sen. Laphonza Butler speaks at the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ+ Victory Fund held its annual National Champagne Brunch at the Grand Hyatt on Sunday, April 7. Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) delivered the keynote address.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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a&e features

Juliet Hawkins’s music defies conventional categorization

‘Keep an open mind, an open heart, and a willingness to evolve’



Juliet Hawkins (Photo by David Khella)

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Emerging from the dynamic music scene of Los Angeles, Juliet Hawkins seamlessly integrates deeply soulful vocals with contemporary production techniques, crafting a distinctive sound that defies conventional categorization.

Drawing inspiration from the emotive depth of Amy Winehouse and weaving together elements of country, blues, and pop, Hawkins’ music can best be described as a fusion–perhaps best termed as soulful electronica. Yet, even this characterization falls short, as Hawkins defines herself as “a blend of a million different inspirations.”

Hawkins’s musical palette mirrors her personae: versatile and eclectic. Any conversation with Hawkins makes this point abundantly clear. She exhibits the archetype of a wild, musical genius while remaining true to her nature-loving, creative spirit. Whether recording in the studio for an album release, performing live in a studio setting, or playing in front of a live audience, Hawkins delivers her music with natural grace. 

Juliet Hawkins (Photo by David Khella)

However, Hawkins’s musical journey is far from effortless. Amid personal challenges and adversity, she weaves her personal odyssey of pain and pleasure, transforming these experiences into empowering anthems.

In a candid interview with the Blade, Hawkins spoke with profound openness and vulnerability about her past struggles with opiate and heroin addiction: “That was 10 years ago that I struggled with opiates,” she shared. Yet, instead of letting her previous addiction define her, Hawkins expressed to the Blade that she harbors no shame about her past. “My newer music is much more about empowerment than recovery,” she explained, emphasizing that “writing was the best way to process trauma.”

Despite her struggles with addiction, Hawkins managed to recover. However, she emphasizes that this recovery is deeply intertwined with her spiritual connection to nature. An illustrative instance of Hawkins’ engagement with nature occurred during the COVID pandemic.

Following an impulse that many of us have entertained, she bought a van and chose to live amidst the trees. It was during this period that Hawkins composed the music for her second EP, titled “Lead with Love.”

In many ways, Hawkins deep spiritual connection to nature has been profoundly shaped by her extensive travels. Born in San Diego, spending her formative years in Massachusetts, and later moving to Tennessee before returning to Southern California, she has broadened her interests and exposed herself to the diverse musical landscapes across America.

“Music is the only thing I have left,” Hawkins confides to the Blade, highlighting the integral role that music has in her life. This intimate relationship with music is evident in her sultry and dynamic compositions. Rather than imitating or copying other artists, Hawkins effortlessly integrates sounds from some of her favorite musical influences to create something new. Some of these influences include LP, Lucinda Williams, Lana Del Rey, and, of course, Amy Winehouse, among others.

Juliet Hawkins (Photo by David Khella)

Hawkins has always been passionate about music—-she began with piano at a young age, progressed to guitar, and then to bass, eagerly exploring any instrument she could get her hands on. However, instead of following a traditional path of formalized lessons and structured music theory, Hawkins told the Blade that she “has a hard time following directions and being told what to do.”

This independent approach has led her to experiment with various genres and even join unexpected groups, such as a tribute band for Eric Clapton and Cream. While she acknowledges that her eclectic musical interests might be attributed to ADHD, she holds a different belief: “Creative minds like to move around.”

When discussing her latest musical release — “Stay True (the live album)” which was recorded in a live studio setting — Hawkins describes the experience as a form of improvisation with both herself and the band:

“[The experience] was this divine honey that was flowing through all of us.” She explains that this live album was uncertain in the music’s direction. “For a couple of songs,” Hawkins recalls, “we intuitively closed them out.” By embracing creative spontaneity and refusing to be constrained by fear of mistakes, the live album authentically captures raw sound, complete with background chatter, extended outros, and an extremely somber cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” coupled with a slow piano and accompanied strings.

While “Stay True” was a rewarding experience for Hawkins, her favorite live performance took place in an unexpected location—an unattended piano in the middle of an airport. As she began playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, Hawkins shared with the Blade a universal connection we all share with music: “This little girl was dancing as I was playing.”

After the performance, tears welled in Hawkins’ eyes as she was touched by the young girl’s appreciation of her musicianship. Hawkins tells the Blade, “It’s not about playing to an audience—it’s about finding your people.”

Juliet Hawkins (Photo by David Khella)

What sets Hawkins apart as an artist is her ability to connect with her audience in diverse settings. She highlights EDC, an electronic dance music festival, as a place where she unabashedly lets her “freak flag” fly and a place to connect with her people. Her affinity for electronic music not only fuels her original pop music creations, but also inspires her to reinterpret songs with an electronic twist. A prime example of this is with her electronic-style cover of Tal Bachman’s 90’s hit, “She’s So High.”

As an openly queer woman in the music industry, Hawkins is on a mission to safeguard artistic integrity. In songs like “My Father’s Men,” she bares her vulnerability and highlights the industry’s misogyny, which often marginalizes gender minorities in their pursuit of artistic expression.

She confides to the Blade, “The industry can be so sexist, misogynist, and oppressive,” and points out that “there are predators in the industry.” Yet, rather than succumbing to apathy, Hawkins is committed to advocating for gender minorities within the music industry.

“Luckily, people are rising up against misogyny, but it’s still there. ‘My Father’s Men’ is a message: It’s time for more people who aren’t just white straight men to have a say.”

Hawkins is also an activist for other causes, with a fervent belief in the preservation of bodily autonomy. Her self-directed music video “I’ll play Daddy,” showcases the joy of embracing one’s body with Hawkins being sensually touched by a plethora of hands. While the song, according to Hawkins, “fell upon deaf ears in the south,” it hasn’t stopped Hawkins from continuing to fight for the causes she believes in. In her interview, Hawkins encapsulated her political stance by quoting an artist she admires:

“To quote Pink, ‘I don’t care about your politics, I care about your kids.’”

When Hawkins isn’t writing music or being a champion for various causes, you might catch her doing the following: camping, rollerblading, painting, teaching music lessons, relaxing with Bernie (her beloved dog), stripping down for artsy photoshoots, or embarking on a quest to find the world’s best hollandaise sauce.

But at the end of the day, Hawkins sums up her main purpose: “To come together with like-minded people and create.”

Juliet Hawkins (Photo by David Khella)

Part of this ever-evolving, coming-of-age-like journey includes an important element: plant-based medicine. Hawkins tells the Blade that she acknowledges her previous experience with addiction and finds certain plants to be useful in her recovery:

“The recovery thing is tricky,” Hawkins explains, “I don’t use opiates—-no powders and no pills—but I am a fan of weed, and I think psilocybin can be helpful when used at the right time.” She emphasizes the role of psychedelics in guiding her towards her purpose. “Thanks for psychedelics, I have a reignited sense of purpose … Music came naturally to me as an outlet to heal.” 

While she views the occasional dabbling of psychedelics as a spiritual practice, Hawkins also embraces other rituals, particularly those she performs before and during live shows. “I always carry two rocks with me: a labradorite and a tiger’s eye marble,” she explains.

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