From Boise to Barcelona, Shanghai to Omaha, June is a full month of GLBT pride celebrations far beyond Washington's own impressive offering. Among them, one is so tantalizingly close that if Capital Pride doesn't satisfy your cravings, this June 20 to 21 fete is standing by: Baltimore Pride.
"If folks -- especially from D.C. -- haven't been to Baltimore Pride, they should come and check it out," says Rahne Alexander. "It's a little smaller, but it's a ton of fun."
A Santa Cruz, Calif., transplant who experienced her first Baltimore Pride in 2002, Alexander is now part of the festivities with her band, The Degenerettes, for which she sings and plays guitar, along with her partner and drummer, Kristen Anchor and bass-player Chrissy Howland. This year, The Degnerettes will play for Baltimore Pride's Saturday-night "block party," just ahead of headliner Amber.
The block party is but one of the components that give Baltimore Pride, now in its 34th year, its distinct flavor. A newer, pre-Pride event that's gaining in popularity is Twilight on the Terrace. It's a posh engagement Friday, June 19, on the terrace of Gertrude's restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art, offering dancing, hors d'oeuvres and drinks.
Craig Wiley, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore, the entity responsible for putting all this Pride together, says that even with the $75 ticket price, 2009 may be a sell-out year for Twilight on the Terrace, which can accommodate about 250 people.
More familiar to Washingtonians making a Charm City outing is Baltimore Pride's own High Heel Race, the unofficial kick-off of the Saturday afternoon parade. As evidence of just how charming Baltimore can be, organizers stand ready to equip contestants if need be.
"A lot of the drag queens donate old shoes they don't wear anymore," says Paul Liller, who as the GLCCB's development associate oversees Baltimore Pride. "Just come and sign up. We can go through the box of heels we have for you."
Following the 3:45 p.m. race is the 4 p.m. parade, wending through Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood. The block party, in the same neighborhood, centered at Charles and Eager Streets, follows the parade. Come Sunday, it's a lazy day in Druid Hill Park for the festival, with entertainment running from noon to 6 p.m.
"The block party is a high-energy street party. Sunday is much more relaxed, much more family-friendly," explains Wiley. "They're really two completely different events."
Wiley adds that people seem to appreciate the relaxed mood at Baltimore Pride events, and are particularly pleased that alcohol is not relegated to a specific area, but allowed throughout the festival area.
"The entire event is the beer garden," Wiley says with a laugh.
Also appreciated, he says, is the cost: "Baltimore Pride is a free event, though we encourage donations."