A perfect sun-splashed June 14-15 weekend combined with a new location and format for this year’s Baltimore Pride highlighted the annual event, which has been operated by The GLCCB for over three decades.
Saturday’s parade changed its route by a few blocks and began three hours earlier than in the past. 60 units marched and included candidates in the gubernatorial race, the Mayor of Baltimore, a wide range of organizations and corporations, and a bevy of drag and leather title holders.
The judges’ selections for the best parade entries were: Best Walking Unit—The Club; Best Car—Hot Topic Towson; and Best Float—AIDS Action Baltimore.
The festival that immediately followed the parade shifted to the Mount Royal and Midtown-Belvedere areas. In effect, the block party and park festival components had been replaced by a two-day festival. Though there had been a good deal of apprehension from members of the LGBT community concerning the move, organizers estimated approximately 15,000 attended the parade and festival on Saturday.
Vendors including large and small LGBT organizations, political candidates, health service organizations, banks, and even a mattress company, lined the streets of the festival’s site. Food vendors were eager to offer their cuisines.
While a significant number of community members preferred the previous locale, others liked the move. “I’m up for change as much as anyone,” said Marty from Baltimore. “This set-up is pretty nice.”
A bone of contention from many members of the community was the use of beverage gardens. This was intended to curtail the rampant drinking that permeated past Pride block parties. Alcohol consumption was confined to two fenced-in gardens during the festival.
Some have expressed relief that the drinking would be more controlled this year, which would help alleviate other problems. Others stated that Pride was “too organized” suggesting the restriction on where to drink would hamper the celebratory nature of the event.
The warmer Sunday brought out a good number of people but considerably less than Saturday. It was also a more laid back crowd than the day before. The performances at the Lady Lisa Stage—a tradition of Baltimore pride—were popular.
Patrick from D.C. said it’s the best Pride he ever attended. “There is more shade, more vendors and a better stage.” Trish Pullen from Culpepper, Va. agreed. It’s her first Baltimore Pride and likes it better than D.C.
The GLCCB announced that it would listen to the community to evaluate this year’s Pride. “Organizing Baltimore Pride is an around-the-year undertaking,” said Kelly Neel, GLCCB Executive Director, in a statement. “In an effort to engage and inform the Baltimore LGBT community, the GLCCB and its Baltimore Pride committee will host a series of Pride town hall meetings in July to wrap up this year’s event, recruit members for next year’s Pride organizing committee, and discuss improvements for Baltimore Pride 2015.
Gay Life July 2014