Baltimore Pride 2011 Review

Ms. Cupcake

This past weekend, Baltimore celebrated its largest festival in the city, and the largest LGBTQ festival in the state. This was the GLCCB Baltimore Pride weekend! Twilight on the Terrace kicked off the weekend at Gertrude’s on Friday night. We did not have the pleasure of attending that event, but everything on Saturday sure made up for what we probably did miss. It's no wonder this event has been taking place for almost 40 years and still going strong.

Around mid-day we arrived, and while at first the crowd was more sparse than expected, the farther we worked our way down Charles Street, the more condensed the crowd became. An announcer was already speaking of what fun things were to come, who we could expect to see, and was pumping up the crowd. We made way and found a cozy, shaded spot in front of the Red Maple. We became anxious however, as the time until the high heeled race seemed to linger ever so slowly. Looking down to a nearby street light, we finally saw people gathering as though they were getting ready at the starting line. It was time; the race was on!

As the twenty or so contenders made their way towards us and passed by, we were shocked. "Flip flops?!” we said, puzzled. Although a bit disappointed not to see any glamorous heels we had expected, we didn't mind because the competition was still fierce with so many contestants, probably more than the high heeled race alone would have produced. I can imagine the twenty second race would have taken much longer in heels, thus eliminating some of the anticipation anyway. Unable to see quite up to the finish line, I think a 20's or 30's gentleman made it to the finish first. Everyone continued through and proudly made it to the finish.

After a short break, we went to refill our beverages and cool off a bit. Everyone working the event was more than polite, and very open to conversation. Strangers talked to strangers, and new friends were made. As the event staff began clearing the street once again, we knew it was time for the parade! We were ready to see what all the talk was about in regards to this "better than DC" parade, as a few stated. We saw the sirens flashing atop a Baltimore City SUV and heard the sounds of motorcycle exhaust pipes following close behind. I was told that it is yearly tradition for the parade to begin with the "Dykes on Bikes". Once we saw them, we knew the celebration was officially in full gear.

Following the cycles was a range of Mr. and Ms. Winners of various towns and competitions. Most of the drag consisted of glamorous gowns and sparkly tiaras. There was no shyness or hesitancy when it came to expression for one's cause or organization. The diversity and openness of the parade was a refreshing change from the restrictive or mundane events I've seen elsewhere. Many supporters who walked or rode the parade included the Rowan Tree Tavern, candidate Mary Washington, the Charm City Kitty Club, PFLAG of Howard County, Different Drummers, SunTrust Bank, Caribou Coffee, C.O.M.M.A.N.D, Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Civil Marriage Rights groups, BLADeaf, proud parents, and even the Baltimore City mayor Stephanie Rawlins-Blake. There were so many more groups and individuals that were proud to support Pride, but just too many to name them all!

As the parade progressed, candy fell from the sky, and we caught stickers to adorn ourselves with and collected little toys and party favors coming from every which way. After somewhere around 45 minutes to an hour, the parade was coming to a close on our end. We were psyched and exhilarated from the high energy parade and ready to find some goodies for our growling stomachs before the block party officially began. Paving through the nearly tripled crowd volume as compared to when we arrived, we just bee lined to the vendor with the shortest line. Vendors had everything from chicken on a stick, Thai noodles, wraps, burgers, hot dogs, lemonade, and of course cocktails! The food was all ranging in price but most of it was under $10, making it appreciatively easier on our wallets than most other big events. Cocktails were even specially priced, ranging from $3 to $8.

Upon filling our bellies with burgers and chicken sticks and refreshing our parched throats with yummy cherry martinis and lemon drop cocktails, we passed the stage with line dancing of all kinds and people dancing and having fun in the street. We kept walking up Charles Street, following the sound of the pumping house beats getting louder. The Stoli dance tent was already packed shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. But nobody cared. Everyone was having an awesome time, with no worries about who is stepping on who's shoes or why someone wanted to dance with or talk to a stranger. We jammed out for a while, to a mixture of house and top 40's tunes until finally growing a little tired. We didn't want the Block Party to end, and while it showed no signs of slowing down at 7:30pm, we reluctantly called it a day.

We can't wait for next year's Baltimore Pride weekend celebration. Hopefully next time we will even make it to the Festival in Druid Hill Park the following day, as we were not able to make it there this year with it being Father's Day. So whether you are LGBTQ, straight, or just plain proud of your city, this event should not be missed. Keep on being proud, Baltimore.

Click here to view additional photos taken at the event

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