Baltimore Pride Parade brought together the LGBT Community and friends who showed love under the rainbow flag. Kazad/ARTCENTRON
BALTIMORE- Weeks before the Baltimore Pride Parade celebration took place, there was great anxiety among participants. The incident in Orlando, Florida, where a gun man killed 50 at a gay bar and wounded many others, gave participants something to worry about. The worries, however, did not stop people from coming out to celebrate gay pride and the LGBTQ Community.
As early as 11:00 AM, participants were already gearing up for the Pride Parade that was to start at 2:00 PM. By 1:00 PM, Charles Street was a beehive of activities and merrymaking. Friends greeted friends and performers fixed their costumes in anticipation of great a performance.
Colorful balloons and flags lined the street from one end to another. People came dressed in rainbow costumes while others carried rainbow colored flags. In a corner of Charles Street, a float occupied by about 20 men dressed in leather pants and jackets waited for the event to begin. Not far from the float is a marching band. Drummers and dancers talked and cheered in anticipation of this exciting annual event.
The annual Baltimore Pride Parade was just one of the events in the eight-day Pride festivities. The Pride celebration brings together Baltimore’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. For more than three decades, pride festivities have grown, attracting more than 30,000 people every year.
At 2:00 PM, the 2016 Baltimore Pride Parade began. It was fun all the way. Different groups lined Madison and Cathedral Street to show their pride. There were marching bands, drag queen beauties, local organizations, politicians and residents.
Everyone came out to be part of the celebration in spite of the debilitating heat. Dressed in color costumes, onlookers waved rainbow flags as different groups passed by. It was a festival of colors. There was dancing, singing and merry making. Some men also played volleyball to the exultation of the crowd.
Among the important dignitaries at this year’s Pride Parade was Democratic Mayoral nominee Catherine E. Pugh. Wearing a bright yellow dress, she threw beaded necklaces to the crowd lining the parade route. Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson were also part of the parade.
This was an all inclusive event and everyone was welcomed with open arms. Parents, friends and well-wishers were in the crowd. Even those who are not member of the LGBTQ community were on hand to cheer. “I am not gay but I have friends who are gays and lesbians. That is why I am here to show unity. Moreover, it is so much fun out here,” said Andrew Wilsom.
The Emmanuel Episcopal Church was also part of this year’s festivity. Located close to the parade route, the church hung a colorful “#LoveWins” banner on the side of its building. Several volunteers and members of the church also gave out bottled water and rainbow gel pens in front of the church doors.
For many in the Baltimore LGBTQ community, the church’s show of solidarity was deeply appreciated. “That is a good gesture by the church,” said a lady as she took a bottled water from a man at the church steps.
The active role of the Episcopal Church at this year’s pride event is a continuation of its outreach program to attract more members of the LGBTQ community to the church. It was an opportunity to show that love for of the LGBTQ community extends beyond Sunday services
Although the church has marched in past parades, the commitment is even greater this year. Last year, the church approved same-sex weddings in the church and has welcomed gay and transgender members of the clergy.
As with other years, this year’s parade was an opportunity to speak out about gay rights, marriage equality and LGBT rights. There were signs and flyers everywhere touching on these issues. Some signs touched on tolerance and unity.
There was also a hand full of protesters voicing their disapproval of the parade. Some of their signs read: “The Wicked Shall Be Turned to Hell, and “God Will Bring You to Judgment.”
Some people also used the event to make political statements. One of the very visible signs read: ‘Shot Down Trump RNC’. There were also ‘Black Lives Matter’ stickers.
In all, more than 10, 000 people attended this year’s Pride Parade. It brought together divers groups of people who had great fun. There was dancing, singing and merriment. Condoms, beads, and rainbow flags rained down from floats on the street. It was an exciting, fun, and sweaty day under the scorching sun.