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Trans activist Brackett to speak at Frederick Pride

Sharon Brackett, gay news, Washington Blade

Sharon Brackett will be the principal speaker at Frederick Pride on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Fresh off of being named the “Activist of the Year” at Baltimore Pride, Sharon Brackett will be the principal speaker at Frederick Pride on Saturday. Brackett, a Laurel, Md. resident, will discuss transgender issues.

In 2010, Brackett was selected by Washington SmartCEO Magazine as one of Washington’s Smart100 CEOs for 2010 and then again, after transition, in 2011. She is a founder of Gender Rights Maryland, a trans civil rights organization, and serves as its board chair.

The festival takes place from 12-6 p.m. at Carroll Creek Park in the downtown area of Frederick.


GLCCB to hold town hall meetings on Pride

Baltimore Pride Parade, gay news, Washington Blade

2014 Baltimore Pride Parade (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Kelly Neel, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore, announced following the conclusion of the Baltimore Pride celebrations on June 14-15, the organization will seek input from the community in an effort to improve the annual event in future years.

“Organizing Baltimore Pride is an around-the-year undertaking,” explained Neel 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. Dates and locations for our Pride Town Hall meetings are being finalized.”

After being situated in Mount Vernon for the Saturday block party and Druid Hill Park for the Sunday festival, the GLCCB, which has operated Pride for more than 35 years, changed venues this year. Both days’ events took place in the Mount Royal area, several blocks north of the previous location and attempted to control drinking with the establishment of two beer gardens.

For more information, please email


Spirited discussion at Pride town hall

town hall, Baltimore Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

A majority of those surveyed were unhappy with this year’s Baltimore Pride celebration. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

There was some heat and a bit of a storm on the night of July 23 but we’re not referring to the weather outside the Waxter Center, the new home of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore (GLCCB).  It was billed as a town hall meeting to provide feedback regarding the Pride celebration of June 14-15, but the meeting morphed into a sometimes heated discussion of the broader issues regarding the GLCCB’s past and current lack of accountability and relevancy.

In an open letter to the LGBT community, the Center’s interim executive director Kelly Neel wrote, noting the urgency, that the community is disengaging with the Center and vice versa,  “I am here to ask for your help in bringing it back. It will take time, patience, and a lot of community elbow grease, but I’m confident that we can learn from our past mistakes and revive the bond between Baltimore’s LGBTQ community and its community center.”

Neel sent out email invitations to the Center’s mailing list and through social media inviting people to the town hall and to complete an online feedback survey. About 60 people showed up to listen to the Pride coordinators and GLCCB board members and to voice their concerns. The survey extends to Aug. 15.

Neel said there was insufficient time to adequately plan for Pride 2014 given the Center’s move to a new building and the departure of the previous executive director, Matt Thorn.

“We got started late in the game,” explained Neel. Dates had to shift, and a new “footprint” to the Mt. Royal area required permits and added security. The decision to move the events was made before Neel assumed her duties.

Expenses for Pride 2104 exceeded $114,000 while revenue was close to $178,000 resulting in a $64,000 profit, which is a modest total as Pride is the main fundraising activity for the Center.

Based on the survey results, the GLCCB is considering a return to Druid Hill Park for the Sunday celebration, which would add a family-friendly element to the event. It will also try to deal with concerns about the beer garden and the drag stage, among other tweaks suggested via the survey. Of the 61 responses received at the time of the meeting, 58 percent were either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with Pride this year.

The meeting was opened up to comments from the audience. Initially, some issues with Pride were brought up, such as why there was no open drinking permitted.

Then comments came about a range of topics, including the Center’s outreach to minorities, a perceived lack of transparency, the sale in 2013 of its long-held building, the need for face-to-face communication with the community rather than electronic dispatches, renewed charges of racism and classism in board selections, that transgender people are not made to feel welcome, the Center’s failure to respond to invitations to faith-based events, and a lack of a specified mission or purpose.

Mike McCarthy, board president since 2012, and others stated that the board has never intended to exclude anyone. Since the meeting, a board application was made available at

Neel and the board members thanked the audience and promised to take this feedback seriously. “We heard what needs to be heard—not just Pride but the Center,” Neel said following the meeting. “Changes are needed. It starts here.”


2013 in photography

2013 was a banner year for the LGBT community. Here are the top Washington Blade photos of the year. (Washington Blade photos by Blake Bergen, Tyler Grigsby, Michael Key, Kevin Majoros, Damien Salas, Lee Whitman and Jon Wooten) buyphoto 


Changes in store for Baltimore Pride

2013 Baltimore Pride, Parade, Gay News, Washington Blade

This year’s Baltimore Pride festivities are moving a few blocks north. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) firmed up the dates for Baltimore Pride—an enterprise run by the GLCCB.  This year’s Baltimore Pride will take place on Father’s Day weekend, June 13-15.

The Pride Parade and Block Party will take place on Saturday, June 14, with the Pride Festival taking place on Sunday, June 15. The parade route will begin at the intersection of Eager and Charles streets and continue on Charles Street up to Mount Royal Avenue. All Pride weekend events will then take place at Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral St. (No events will take place in Druid Hill Park, as in years past).

Twilight on the Terrace, the annual fundraiser for the GLCCB, will take place on June 13 at Gertrude’s restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The GLCCB had originally tapped June 21-22 for the main Pride events, but permitting issues forced the organization to revert to the second weekend in June.  This will mark the first time in more than a decade that the venue has shifted from Eager and Charles Streets for the Block Party on Saturday and from Druid Hill Park for the Sunday festival.

“We apologize for any confusion that this may have caused and are working diligently with Baltimore City officials to make this year’s event a success,” said Kelly Neel, GLCCB interim director in a statement. For more information, visit


Walters Museum to offer financial workshops

The Walters Art Gallery, gay news, Washington Blade

The Walters Art Gallery (Photo public domain)

The Walters Art Museum will present workshops on June 12 and 19 to coincide with Baltimore Pride. The workshops, “Learn How to Build a Charitable Legacy from LGBT Icons,” will allow attendees to learn how to align estate plans with personal values, family goals, business interests and charitable legacies.

The first workshop on June 12 from 6-7 p.m. is titled “James Dean, Liberace and Others: The Wills of LGBT Icons.” From the debt-ridden estate of Oscar Wilde to the substantial fortune of Andy Warhol, the presentation includes lessons from the administration of these and other famous estates. In addition, participants will learn what provisions were made for their families and partners and how these individuals handled gifts of their tangible personal property.

The second workshop, “LGBT Lecture: Protecting Your Legacy,” takes place on June 19 from 6-7:30 p.m., which will feature a presentation on personal financial and estate planning for same-sex couples. Professional advisers will lead a panel discussion on the legal and financial issues of the LGBT community and how they can address them to ensure that their families and choices are protected.

Both events are free. To reserve a space to either or both, email  The Walters Art Museum is located at 600 N. Charles St. in Baltimore.


East Coast extravaganzas

Baltimore Pride, gay news, Washington Blade, East Coast

Baltimore Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Baltimore Pride Celebration kicks off June 13 with “Twilight on the Terrace,” a cocktail party and fundraiser at Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The festival continues throughout the weekend, including a high heel race on Saturday and a block party on Sunday.

“We’ve expanded our footprint for Pride,” says Kelly Neel, interim executive director of the GLBT Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland, noting potential for a growing number of attendees.

Unlike previous years, this year’s Pride will feature entertainment and vending booths on both Saturday and Sunday instead of keeping those attractions separate from the parade, an adjustment Neel is looking forward to.

Baltimore Pride, which expects about 10,000 each day of the weekend-long celebration, will likely host a mass wedding this year, making a tradition out of a ceremony first held at last year’s Pride, the first year same-sex marriage was legal in the state.

Decades after the first Pride festivals were celebrated, Neel says there is still a place for them each summer, even as barriers fall for LGBT couples across the country.

“It’s great that there’s more awareness now and people are being more accepting of the LGBT community,” Neel says. “But I think that will just serve to make the parades bigger. Pride is not only a celebration of what’s going on in the now. It’s more a celebration of the past and a history of activism as well as the future.”

The city of brotherly love celebrates Philly Pride this weekend with a parade starting Sunday at noon from Philadelphia’s 13th and Locust streets. At this year’s pride — the first in Pennsylvania since same-sex marriage was legalized last month — the Hon. Dan Anders of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas will conduct marriage ceremonies at Independence Hall. Married couples will receive wristbands to the Pride festival.

The entertainment headliner is the Village People. Other Pride weekend events include a kick-off block party from 6-11 p.m. tonight on 12th Street between Walnut and Spruce, and the annual Dyke March on Saturday in Kahn Park at 3 p.m. For more details, visit

New York City Pride, gay news, Washington Blade, East Coast

New York City Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The weeklong New York City Pride celebration starts June 24 this year, beginning with a family movie night featuring “The Wizard of Oz” at Hudson River Park’s Pier 46.

Other events include the rally on June 27, hosted by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge Michelle Visage and featuring performances from season four winner Sharon Needles as well as Betty Who, also set to play D.C. this weekend.

The centerpiece of the city’s Pride weekend is the New York Pride March, which steps off at noon. It begins at 36th St. and Fifth Ave., and ends at Christopher and Greenwich streets. What began as a 500-person “gay power” demonstration in June 1969 after the Stonewall Riots, has since grown into an annual civil rights celebration featuring 50 floats and more than 300 organizations.

This year’s Pride boasts big-name grand marshals: “Orange is the New Black” star Laverne Cox; lead actor in the hit HBO television series “Looking” Jonathan Groff; and Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Following the parade is Dance on the Pier from 4-10 p.m. on Hudson River Park Pier 26. All proceeds from this year’s dance, featuring a live performance from pop performer Demi Lovato, benefit the city’s official Pride events and LGBT community organizations. For more details on pride celebrations in New York City, visit

Frederick’s third annual pride festival takes place June 28 from noon-6 p.m. in Carroll Creek Linear Park. Attractions include a pie eating contest, music performances, booths from local businesses, as well as an interfaith service at 11 a.m. the morning of Pride, a new addition this year. For more information, visit

Chesapeake Pride festival kicks off later in the summer on Aug. 2 from noon-6 p.m at the Mayo Beach Park in Edgewater, Md. Head to the beach for “fun in the sun and a fabulous drag show,” Chesapeake Pride’s website says. Visit for details and updates.

Chesapeake Pride, gay news, Washington Blade, Maryland, East Coast

Chesapeake Pride (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)



Baltimore celebrates Pride this weekend

Baltimore Pride, gay news, Washington Blade, Baltimore celebrates Pride

Baltimore Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Baltimore celebrates Pride this weekend with a block party, parade and festival. The Pride Parade and Block Party will take place on Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. The parade route will begin at the intersection of Eager and Charles streets and continue on Charles Street up to Mount Royal Avenue. The festival runs Saturday 2-8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. All Pride weekend events will then take place at Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral St. (No events will take place in Druid Hill Park, as in years past.)

The organization that runs Baltimore Pride announced that Tom Patrick was named as the parade’s grand marshal and Sharon Brackett as the 2014 Activist of the Year.

Patrick is a longtime employee with the non-profit organization Moveable Feast. According to Tom Boderenko, executive director of Moveable Feast, “Patrick engaged thousands of individuals, corporations, churches and schools to volunteer at Moveable Feast, but he has challenged them to think about their fears and stereotypes of the LBGT community, and especially people living with HIV/AIDS.”

Brackett is the founder and board chair of Gender Rights Maryland, an organization advocating for transgender rights and had been instrumental in the passage of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, also known as SB212, which was recently signed into law.


Baltimore Pride is this weekend

2013 Baltimore Pride, Parade, Gay News, Washington Blade

This year’s Baltimore Pride festivities are moving a few blocks north. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Baltimore Pride Celebration begins Friday and continues through Sunday with various activities all weekend including a parade, high heel race and festival.

Friday night is Twilight on the Terrace, a Pride kick-off party, at Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art (10 Art Museum Dr., Baltimore) from 7-11 p.m. There will be an open bar. Attire is “garden party.” Tickets are $125. Saturday starting at 12:45 is the High Heel Race, starting at Charles and Eager streets and ending at Charles and Chase. The winner will receive a bottle of champagne and a gift certificate to Mt. Vernon Stable and Saloon. Participants must be at least 21 years old. Sign up is from noon-12:20 p.m. Saturday.

The Pride Parade starts the same day at 1 p.m. with trophies for best float, best walking groups and more. The festival is Saturday from 2-8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. with various entertainers including Miss Gay Maryland 2014, Alondra Sancheez.

For more information on Baltimore Pride, visit


A different vibe at new Pride venue

Baltimore Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore Pride benefitted from flawless weather all weekend. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A gorgeous, sun-splashed June 14-15 weekend and a new location and format for this year’s Baltimore Pride highlighted the annual event, which has been operated by the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore for more than three decades.

Saturday’s parade changed its route by a few blocks and began three hours earlier than in the past. Sixty units marched — down slightly from last year — and included candidates in the gubernatorial race, the mayor of Baltimore, a wide range of organizations and corporations, a bevy of drag title holders and a gay activist from the Ukraine—Bogdan Globa—marching with PFLAG. D.C.’s Different Drummers added the beats to go along with cheers from the crowd.

“This is a great day to celebrate who we are, where we have been and how we got here,” Heather Mizeur, a Democratic candidate for governor and lesbian, told the Blade.  “We’re trying to make a difference, not trying to make history, yet I expect to become the first ever woman governor in the state.”

The lieutenant governor candidate running with her opponent Anthony Brown, Ken Ulman, also marched in the parade with one of his daughters alongside Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. No one representing the Doug Gansler campaign was present over the weekend. The Democratic primary takes place on June 24.

The festival that immediately followed the parade shifted to the Mount Royal and Midtown-Belvedere areas. The move this year from the block party confines of W. Eager and N. Charles Streets, which had previously been the site for more than a decade to the more spread out area where the annual ArtScape festival takes place was decided because the crowds have become too large for the previous locale, according to the GLCCB. Last year, there was pressure placed on the GLCCB from the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association and local business owners and residents to curtail the sanitation problems, underage drinking and other related issues emanating from the overcrowded block party.

In effect, the block party component of the two-day event had been eliminated in favor of a two-day festival. Though there had been a good deal of apprehension from members of the LGBT community concerning the move, organizers estimated about 15,000 attended the parade and festival on Saturday. A smaller and more laid-back crowd assembled on Sunday.

Lorena DeLeon and her partner Amy Eisenberg from Baltimore likened the event to Los Angeles Pride. “The location of the beer garden is fabulous, right next to the dance area,” says DeLeon.

This year, drinking was supposed to be confined to two fenced-in beer gardens.

Darryl Lewis of Catonsville complained that “the beer garden does not have enough trash baskets and the portable toilets are not near the beer garden.” He said he learned that was the vendor’s logistical decision.

Though the theme for this year’s Pride was “We are Family,” the family feel wasn’t as evident on Sunday compared to previous years when the event took place at Druid Hill Park.  There was a significant drop-off in couples with children this time.

Kelly Neel, executive director of the GLCCB said she received much positive feedback.  “Everything is going fabulously. People are having a blast on the stage, and they like the parade route.”

Baltimore Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

2014 Baltimore Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)