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In all the ways that Charm City distinguishes itself from its neighbor to the south, so Baltimore Pride does from Capital Pride. It’s less ambitious, more blue-collar, and all-around weirder. The dancing ends earlier, the beer comes cheaper, and the fashions aren’t so fussy. There’s certainly a see-and-be-seen element—it’s not Pride in any city without glittered hotpants and leather chaps—but the community’s too small to split down class lines. Where Pride Week in D.C. boasts a zillion parties organized by gender, race, neighborhood, age, and music taste, Baltimore cordons off a few blocks with a couple of gay bars, sets up an outdoor stage and booze kiosks, and lets everyone loose to party en masse. And that, for me, captures the true spirit of what Pride should be. I can dance with my friends to our favorite DJs in a crowd of people who look like us on any given weekend—at Pride, I want to connect with queers who aren’t in my immediate social circle, to meet the ones who aren’t on the weekly party circuit, to rebuild inter- and intracommunity ties that we can’t afford to let lapse, even if it’s just in a shared laugh over a butt joke on a parade float. In a highly segmented gay scene in a supremely gay-friendly city, it’s easy to forget how much power there is in a diverse crowd united by joy in the face of some very real struggles. At Baltimore Pride, I remember.