Baltimore shows its Pride despite heat

As Baltimore Pride’s rainbow-hued parade meandered along Charles Street in the Mount Vernon neighborhood under a blazing cloudless sky, Reginald Morris remarked, “More people should come, it’s a fun day.”  The Baltimore resident received his wish as an estimated 10,000 sweat-drenched souls braved blistering heat to view more than 100 units marching in the parade — a new Baltimore Pride record, according to parade coordinator Donald Young.

The 41st Baltimore Pride that encompassed several events throughout the week culminating with the grand two-day celebration in Mount Vernon on July 23 and Druid Hill Park on July 24 was themed “One Baltimore.” Pride is a program and principal fundraiser for the GLBT Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB).

An eclectic mix of service organizations, entertainers, drum-beating bands and corporations participated by marching on foot or on rainbow-decorated motor vehicles. Johns Hopkins Medicine’s contingent alone had 300 members.

Elected officials, such as Democratic candidate for Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh, senatorial candidate Chris Van Hollen, Rep. John Sarbanes and Del. Mary Washington marched as well as Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and other local officials.

Longtime activist and one of the community center’s founders Jim Becker and popular Baltimore DJ Rosie Hicks served as the parade’s grand marshals.

Julia, a 14-year-old from Baltimore who identifies as bisexual was attending her first Pride event and was gleefully snatching beads and snacks tossed into the crowd by parade participants. Her mother Ann told the Blade, “She really wanted to be here today. Who was I to deny her?”

There were some references in the parade to the massacre in Orlando that occurred six weeks ago, and more police and security presence was noted. Colin Riley of Ellicott City, Md., said that he was “glad to see such a diverse crowd come out especially because of what happened in Orlando.”

A small group of anti-gay born-again Christians protested prior to and during the parade but were largely ignored and drowned out by the drumbeats from a band.

Following the parade, the high-energy block party ensued with dancing and a long list of entertainers and headliners performing well into the evening.

On Sunday, the festival in Druid Hill Park attracted thousands to browse a variety of vendor booths and enjoy the entertainment.