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Police commissioner meets residents

Baltimore, police, forum, gay news, Washington Blade

There was a low turnout for last week’s meeting with Baltimore police officials. (Washington Blade photo by Steve Charing)

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts along with several officers from the department met with members of the LGBT community on Oct. 10 at the Waxter Center.  The meeting was arranged by the department’s LGBT Advisory Council and FreeState Legal.

The forum, which was scheduled as part of Baltimore Black Pride’s weeklong celebration, was aimed at opening lines of communication and to improve relations between the department and LGBT residents.

It also focused on alleged hate crimes as well as profiling and harassment by police that targets community members. In addition, the manner and tone in which police officers have spoken to members of the public was discussed.

“We’re here to be open, we’re here to engage, we’re here to be part of the community — all parts of the community,” Batts said.  The commissioner, who said he grew up with a gay uncle, saw the high-profile beating of gay man Kenni Shaw last Christmas as the catalyst to improve communication. This led to the establishment of the LGBT Advisory Council.

Shaw and his supporters believe the attack outside a corner store in East Baltimore was a hate crime given Shaw’s sexual orientation and the fact that no robbery was committed. Batts indicated that the police have not reached the conclusion that it was a hate crime and no such charges were filed.

Other issues addressed included the handling of same-sex domestic violence situations between same-sex couples, the procedures in place to deal with profiling complaints, crime in the area and the success so far of the “Public Enemy No. 1” campaign. The police touted statistics indicating a decline in violent and property crime from the previous year.

“Unfortunately, there were more police and city officials there than actually community members and stakeholders,” activist Rev. Meredith Moise said of the surprisingly low turnout.  “It is great to see the commissioner and his staff reaching out to the Baltimore LGBT community. However, we, as a community, need to show up and be present for these events. A relationship is a two-way street. Hopefully more folks will show up to the next event.”


GLCCB to honor Pelosi

Gay News, Washington Blade, Nancy Pelosi

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) will honor House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi during its inaugural Hometown Hero Awards & Champagne Brunch on Nov. 17 in Baltimore.

Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House and a daughter of Baltimore, will be recognized with the organization’s lifetime achievement award for her longtime dedication to LGBT rights and her work to fight HIV/AIDS in Congress.

“It is a great privilege for me to come home to Baltimore and celebrate the progress we’ve made in the fight for equality,” Pelosi said.

Also to be honored are Carlton R. Smith, president of Baltimore Black Pride and HIV/AIDS activist, and Catherine Hyde, a longtime transgender coordinator for Howard County PFLAG.

The event will be held in the Calvert Ballroom of the Lord Baltimore Hotel. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit


Pelosi slated for Baltimore LGBT award

Gay News, Washington Blade, Nancy Pelosi

Hometown gal Nancy Pelosi will be back in Baltimore this weekend to accept an LGBT ally award. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) hosts its “Inaugural Hometown Hero Awards and Champagne Brunch” honoring Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-Calif.), at the Lord Baltimore Hotel (20 W Baltimore St., Baltimore) Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House, is a Baltimore native. She will be honored for her commitment to equality for the LGBT community in Maryland. Carlton D. Smith, president of Baltimore Black Pride and HIV/AIDS activist and Catherine Hyde, longtime transgender coordinator for the Howard County Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, will also be honored.

Tickets are $125. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit


Forum to address HIV among black gays

HIV, gay news, Washington Blade

HIV (Image public domain)

With nearly 30,000 Marylanders living with HIV/AIDS, Baltimore Black Pride, Inc. along with members of the Maryland Prevention and Health Promotion Administration, local health departments and community based-organizations have created an alliance to address specifically HIV infections among MSM (men who have sex with men) in the state. This community is targeted because a 2009 report indicated that MSM made up 46 percent of all new HIV diagnoses.

“We recognize that faith-based organizations have done much of the important work needed to increase HIV awareness, education and testing in the general community,” said Carlton R. Smith, President of Baltimore Black Pride in a statement.  “However, a specific reach is needed to the African-American gay and bisexual, and/or same gender-loving community.”

Baltimore Black Pride, Inc. will convene an open forum with spiritual leaders and the community of Baltimore City on Sept. 27 called “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” Special guest moderator will be radio talk show host Anthony McCarthy.  The forum will take place 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Eubie Blake National Jazz & Cultural Center, 847 N. Howard St., Baltimore. Light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, email


Coalition seeks trans rights

Gay News, Washington Blade, Carrie Evans, Gay Maryland

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Seventeen local, state and national organizations have joined with individual activists to form the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality, in a broad effort to fight for trans rights.

MCTE’s mission is to advance equal rights for transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming people in Maryland through leadership, collaborative decision-making processes and resources.

Over the spring and summer of 2012, MCTE held several listening sessions across the state. Through these sessions MCTE asked community members to share their vision of progress for trans people in the state. Attendees articulated a demand for a broader coalition to do this work. Acting on that directive, MCTE has brought together numerous organizations working for equality and justice in Maryland.

“Equality Maryland embraces doing this vital work in a coalition that has trans individuals at the center of decision-making,” said Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland in a statement. “We witnessed the power of a coalition winning and preserving marriage equality and we are confident this model will succeed for trans equality.”

Other organizations in the coalition include ACLU of Maryland, Baltimore Black Pride, FreeState Legal Project, Maryland NOW (National Organization for Women), National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and PFLAG. For more information, visit


Centerstage hosts Black Pride Night

theater, Shawn Hamilton, Katori Hall, gay news, Washington Blade

Shawn Hamilton in CenterStage’s production of the Mountaintop. (Photo by Richard Anderson; courtesy of Centerstage)

For the Jan. 15 performance of “The Mountaintop,” Centerstage theater held “LGBT Night” in which board members from Baltimore Black Pride (BBP) were invited to attend. Jan. 15 is Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday. BBP founder Carlton R. Smith and chair Kevin Clemons presented to the audience a brief history of the organization while interim vice-chair Kimberli Lagree Simmons briefly discussed BBP’s new theme.

“This was an opportunity to let Baltimore Black Pride broaden our scope of this year’s Pride season to the community at large and to launch our new theme ‘New Era: Evolution 2013,’” said Smith. Members of the audience made cash donations to the organization.

“The Mountaintop,” running through Feb. 24 at Centerstage, is a fictionalized account of Dr. Martin Luther King’s final night before his assassination.