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Police say they didn’t spray a chemical agent at Baltimore Pride. Why don’t those who attended believe it?

Attendees allege city failed to adequately respond to emergency

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A parade participant is photographed clutching on to a rainbow flag at Baltimore’s Pride Parade held on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards/Baltimore Banner)

BY BRENNA SMITH and JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | A chemical agent that disrupted Pride Parade festivities last weekend continues to cause confusion and raise suspicion among many in the Baltimore LGBTQIA+ community, who question the police account of what happened.

The Baltimore Police Department said Tuesday that they had determined the released substance was Mace, but did not say how they came to that conclusion. A BPD spokesperson said that the chemical was released after two groups of people got into an altercation. Three people were treated and released from a nearby hospital because of injuries from the spray.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Baltimore

Why the LGBTQ community needs straight allies

Heterosexuals are an important part of the movement

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Straight ally Karen Dugan poses for a portrait outside of Leon’s Backroom Bar on July 3, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards for the Baltimore Banner)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | P.S. Gear goes on morning runs and swims with his gay workout partner. He regularly attends Sweet Spot, a recurring queer dance party. He’s marched in the Baltimore Pride Parade for the past six years. And he won’t bat an eye when correcting someone who intentionally misgenders someone. He’s also a happily married heterosexual.

The Hampden resident is an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. Heterosexual is not a part of the LGBTQ acronym, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, intersex, asexual, but the group is just as important, advocates say.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Baltimore

Baltimore street named in honor of trans activist

Iya Dammons is founder of support groups Safe Haven in Baltimore, D.C.

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Iya Dammons was honored last week in Baltimore. (Photo courtesy Iya Dammons)

Baltimore city officials and LGBTQ activists participated in a ceremony on June 29 officially dedicating the renaming of a street in honor of transgender woman Iya Dammons, who founded and serves as executive director of the LGBTQ services organization Maryland Safe Haven.

A section of Baltimore’s 21st Street at the intersection of North Charles Street, where the Maryland Safe Haven offices are located, has been renamed Iya Dammons Way.

The ceremony took place six years after Dammons founded Maryland Safe Haven in 2018 and one year after she launched a Safe Haven operation in D.C.in 2023 located at 331 H St., N.E.

A statement on its website says Safe Haven provides a wide range of supportive services for LGBTQ people in need, with a special outreach to Black trans women “navigating survival mode” living.

“Through compassionate harm reduction and upward mobility services, advocacy support, and community engagement, we foster a respectful, non-judgmental environment that empowers individual agency,” the statement says. “Our programs encompass community outreach, a drop-in center providing HIV testing, harm reduction, PrEP, medical linkage, case management, and assistance in accessing housing services,” it says.

Among those participating in the street renaming ceremony were Baltimore City Council member Zeke Cohen, interim director of Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs Alexis Blackmon, and Dominique Morgan, an official with the national foundation Borealis Philanthropy, which provides financial support for transgender supportive nonprofit organizations, including Safe Haven.

“This is a significant achievement and historic moment for our city,” a statement by Maryland Safe Haven announcing the ceremony says. “Iya Dammons has been a tireless advocate for transgender rights and has worked tirelessly to provide safe spaces and resources for transgender individuals in our city,” it says. “This honor is well-deserved, and we are thrilled to see her contributions recognized in such a meaningful way.”

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Baltimore

Despite record crowds, Baltimore Pride’s LGBTQ critics say organizers dropped the ball

People on social media expressed concern about block party stampede

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Miss Gay Maryland Stormi Skye waves as she continues down the parade route at Baltimore Pride on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Kaitlin Newman/Baltimore Banner)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | This year’s Baltimore Pride Week attracted 150,000 people — record attendance that far exceeded initial projections of 100,000.

But some see room for improvement and want organizers to address safety issues and make changes so the annual event that celebrates the LGBTQ population is better run.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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