Sometimes Baltimore can seem a little, um… sleepy, let us say. It can appear that not much is going on. But if LGBT community life in 2010 was any indication at all, new things happen here all the time. Following is Gay Life’s look at the year just past, with a focus on just what was new.

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Politics

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler grabbed headlines with a legal decision that made many lives change. For the first time, Maryland would recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, including newly-legalized marriages performed in Washington, DC.

In the state legislature, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (ACLU-MD) and Equality Maryland (EQMD) spent the spring fighting off new attempts to ban same-sex marriage in the Free State. And to gain public support for anti-discrimination legislation, EQMD launched new education initiatives around transgender equality.

In the fall, Marylanders could vote early for the first time, and the LGBT community turned out in droves. After all, for the first time in history Maryland had 10 openly lesbian, gay, and transgender candidates running for elected office last year. Among them was our first openly gay candidate from Maryland’s eastern shore.

Maryland set a new record when eight of those 10 candidates won their races, including three who were elected for a first term. Byron Macfarlane became Howard County’s first openly gay elected official when he won his bid for Register of Wills. And Delegate Mary Washington from Baltimore became the first openly gay black woman in the U.S. to be elected to a state legislature.

Finally, at the end of the year (as Gay Life headed to press), important news arrived for patriotic servicemembers. After more than 15 years of contentious fights and debates, the U.S. Congress finally voted to repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, paving the way for lesbians and gays to serve openly in the military.

HIV/AIDS

In 2010, Baltimore hosted the first HIV Research Catalyst Forum, a national meeting for community advocates, mostly people living with HIV. The First International Conference on HIV and Aging was also held here for doctors, scientists, and researchers from around the globe. Local advocates even provided input for the country’s first ever National AIDS Strategy, an important step toward improved prevention and care.

Meanwhile, local efforts to stop the spread of HIV did not abate. To help prevent new infections among LGBT youth, the GLCCB and University of Maryland offered a new program, “Connect to Protect.” New community-supported events like TestFest 2010 at Lake Montebello and the B’More Aware: Living Red Ribbon on Rash Field delivered hundreds of HIV tests and helped those who tested positive get into care.

Baltimore’s World AIDS Day events also expanded beyond the usual venues. Baltimore Men’s Chorus, New Wave Singers, and Positive Voices went east to The Patterson to perform “Choirs and Candles,”a fundraiser for AIRS Nuevo Comienzo and AIDS Action Baltimore (AAB). And Planned Parenthood of Maryland filled the auditorium at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) for a screening of The Universe of Keith Haring, an important artist who was lost to AIDS.

Entertainment
In 2001, national celebrity news was generally pretty ho-hum: Ricky Martin and Shawn Hayes publicly announced that they were gay, and vapid A-List muscle boys rode on Logo‘s airwaves. Locally, though, it was LGBT artists (and visiting allies and friends) who kept Baltimore’s entertainment life gay.

Music
The GLCCB’s Pride in the Arts program hosted many community favorites for the first time this year. Artists like Tom Goss and Matt Alber and lesbian girl-group The Pushovers rocked the Center’s first floor stage. The Center’s Pride 2010 also featured a lengthy line up of LGBT talent, headlined by Pride newcomers Ariel Aparicio, Debby Holiday, and Electrik Red.

Elsewhere, Jeremiah Clark made his Baltimore debut at a gig with Stewart Lewis on Cyclops Books and Music’s stage. And disco diva Debbie Jacobs Rock adapted the classic dance track “When Love Takes Over,” to create a new HIV awareness anthem: “B’more Aware.

Even the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) provided the community new sights and sounds this year. A new Michael Jacksontribute on the Meyerhoff stage honored the King of Pop on the first anniversary of his death, and Liberace sound-alike Martin Preston joined host Maureen McGovern to take the BSO Holiday Spectacular to Vegas this year.

THEATERS AND VARIETY SHOWS

In 2010, The Lyric presented community favorites, like Hairspray and a new Kathy Griffin show. Chelsea Handler made her local debut at First Mariner Arena and Cirque du Soliel’s new show, OVO, made a stop in suburban DC.

A self-described “queer theater company” had a successful debut this year, as Iron Crow Theatre Company performed in venues all over town. Gay playwright Jim Magruder’s new comedy, Dunkler-Related Disorders, got workshopped at Center Stage, and lesbian activist Kate Bishop’s new play, A Peppermint Patty Christmas, got legs in a production at The Strand.

For LGBT hipsters, Rahne Alexander presented a night of new performance with Tippy Canoe and AntoinetteG at 14K Cabaret. And new burlesque shows by the likes of Gilded Lily, Mr. Gorgeous, Paco Fish, Shortstaxx, and Trixie and Monkey, brought aerobatics, brawny boy-lesque, quirky comedy, and sexy striptease to venues like Creative Alliance (CA), Load of Fun, Ottobar, and Wind Up Space.

Film
Burlesque also made its way to the silver screen this year, in a blockbuster featuring divas Christina Aguilera and Cher. But it was Annette Benning and Julianne Moore who provided an intimate, realistic view of (fictional) lesbian family life in The Kids Are All Right, a quiet and quirky film.

Meanwhile, real lives of gay men provided the foundation for films that explored darker drives. James Franco turned out a fascinating portrayal of gay poet Allen Ginsberg in Howl. Jim Carey and Ewan McGregor brought 2010 to a close with I Love You Phillip Morris, about Texas con man Steven Russell’s prison affair.

Art
At a featured event for Baltimore Pride 2010, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) grads Dan Wickerham and Malcolm Lomax (aka DUOX) presented a new performance and installation called MoMT (Museum of Modern Twink) at the GLCCB. Later in the summer, lesbian artist Kelly Walker showed her meditative new work at Federal Hill’s School 33 Art Center.

The gay art event of the year, however, was the BMA’s Andy Warhol: The Last Decade. For “Warholics” and neophytes alike, the show presented a selection of the gay artist’s work that is rarely discussed and infrequently seen.

Benefits and Fundraisers

Everyone felt the effect of rising prices and the sluggish economy in 2010. Despite all, LGBT folks, our allies, and friends found new ways to support local organizations and those in need.

Inventive new efforts, like “Twilight on Another Terrace” at the Baltimore Eagle, benefitted the GLCCB. And the new “Living Red Ribbon” event supported new The Partnership for Life, a collaboration of AIDS Interfaith Residential Services (AIRS), Chase Brexton Health Services (CBHS), and Moveable Feast.

CBHS freshened up their annual gala at the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), a new venue for them. Meanwhile, Moveable Feast benefitted from other creative new efforts, like Night Out at Silo Point and the Mason-Dixon Master Chef Tournament at the Belvedere. For the first time, DK Salon and Spa sponsored a Hair-a-Thon for AAB, which was also supported by the festive new Green Party at Red Maple, a St. Patrick’s Day affair.

Mr. Maryland Leather 2010 – Justin B Terry-Smith

Even individuals got in the act of producing new events to benefit those in need. Lea Gilmore raised awareness for Light Health and Wellness, The Portal, and Trans United, with her first “Blues-i-fyin’”concert at CA. And Justin B. Terry-Smith, Gay Life contributor and Mr. Maryland Leather 2010 hosted a new event at PW’s Sports Bar to benefit Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Bars and Clubs

Club Hippo was the site for the area’s first “Marry Me in DC” (an LGBT wedding expo) and the first Chesapeake Leather Awareness Pride (CLAP) event. Then in October, the Hippo teamed up with Grand Central Station to produce the first-ever Oktoberfest Block Party. And just as 2010 was coming to an end, there arrived a new bar in town: The Triple L, (Leon’s Leather Lounge), the latest watering hole for the kink and fetish crowd.

Real Estate
When all the fun was said and done, many folks just wanted to go home. To get a break, and also some support, same gender loving and gay-identified men of color headed for The Portal’s new Station North Arts District home. And for a permanent address, Mt. Royal’s new apartment complex, The Fitzgerald offered residents affordable, amenities-packed domicile.

Visitors to Baltimore stayed at the Hotel Brexton, a chic new boutique hotel in the heart of Mt. Vernon’s gayborhood. And for those who were ready to retreat to the country, Stonewall Retirement Community in Woodbine offered Maryland’s first resort-style home for LGBT friends of a certain age.

Doug Rose is a member of the GLCCB Newspaper Committee.

MAJOR COMMUNITY TITLE-HOLDERS FOR 2010
The area’s drag and leather communities provided ongoing entertainment with their contests, fundraisers, and shows in 2010. Congratulations and thanks to all participants, and especially to major contest winners, listed below.

Miss Gay Maryland 2010 Onyx Revlon
Miss Gay Maryland 2010 1st Alternate Chi Chi Ray Colby
Miss Gay Baltimore 2010 Miss D’Meaner
Miss Gay Baltimore 2010 1st Runner-Up Miss Helena Hologram
Miss Gay and Lesbian Association of the Deaf-East (GLAD-E) James “Miss Jasmine” Norris

Mr. Maryland Leather 2010 Justin Terry-Smith
Mr. Baltimore Deaf Leather 2010 Harry “Abbe” Woosley, Jr,
Ms. Baltimore Deaf Leather 2010 Valerie “Val” Sherrill
Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2010 Matt Bamford

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