Baltimore’s Pride Weekend will again feature a Youth Ball in collaboration with the Baltimore Ballroom Coalition during Saturday’s outdoor block party. While last year was the first celebration specifically for youth at the block party, the University of Maryland has been sponsoring free balls during the Pride season since 2007, according to Jamal Hailey, a prevention manager for STAR TRACK’s LinQ HIV prevention program at the University of Maryland.

“We wanted to create an atmosphere that was for youth specifically,” said Lamont Bryant, STAR TRACK’s project health coordinator. That means the lot across from the Belvedere Hotel (E. Chase St., between Charles and St. Paul Sts.) will be an alcohol and drug-free zone from 5-8:30 p.m. on June 18. Most people in attendance will be young adults under age 24.

Youth interested in walking and competing in a category in the ball can just show up, according to Bryant. Contestants dress in theme-appropriate costumes or formal attire, and compete in a number of categories. While this year’s theme is not yet announced, last year’s circus theme brought clowns and and ring masters to Chase St.

“One popular category is runway, so you’ll have people battle back and forth doing runway poses and walks to determine who has the best one,” said Hailey.

Community resource tables are available to youth at the event, providing information, games and give-aways from organizations such as TransUnited, Baltimore County and City Health Departments, Planned Parenthood, The Den, Baltimore Black Pride, LifeLynes, The Taylor-Wilks Group, and the STAR TRACK/LinQ Prevention Team

While the predominantly African-American MSMs that Bryant and Hailey work with face violence, addiction, and discrimination on a daily basis, they see the Youth Ball as a safe space where all young adults can entertain and be entertained. “It’s definitely been a positive experience, and a powerful one, to see young people have fun and not worry about the typical barriers they usually have to deal with,” said Hailey.

DETAILS:Youth Ball during Saturday’s outdoor block party, Baltimore’s Pride Weekend, June 18, 5-8:30pm. FREE. The lot across from the Belvedere Hotel (E. Chase St., between Charles and St. Paul Sts.).


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