Organizers have canceled this year’s Howard County Pride and postponed Baltimore Pride until August or September as the duration of the coronavirus pandemic remains unclear.
The local celebrations of the LGBTQ+ community have joined a growing list of events that have had to be cancelled or postponed amid the spread of COVID-19.
Mimi Demissew, executive director of the Pride Center of Maryland, the nonprofit that is helping organize Baltimore Pride, said she is coordinating with Baltimore City officials to reschedule the event for late August or September.
Baltimore Pride had been scheduled for June 20-21, but Demissew said she and her fellow organizers decided to postpone it after speaking with medical experts and city officials, as well as monitoring guidance from the Maryland Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It didn’t look like it was going to be responsible to have a public gathering,” Demissew said. “It didn’t even seem like we were going to be allowed to have it given the increased restrictions being placed on the state.”
To slow the spread of the coronavirus in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan has prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people and ordered residents to stay at home except for essential needs, such as getting food and medicine or going to a job at an essential business.
Demissew noted that this year will mark the 45th anniversary of Baltimore Pride and she is determined to hold the event at some point this year, once restrictions on gatherings are lifted.
“We’re still going to have it … Pride is just too important to the community,” she said. “It’s the one time of the year when we can really put everything else aside and come together and stand unified and celebrate our lives.”
She added that once the pandemic has ended, Pride will serve as a “restorative” experience for the LGBTQ+ community.
Meanwhile, Jumel Howard, the planning committee chair for HoCo Pride, said community safety is the committee’s top priority and they ultimately decided to cancel the event outright in case the coronavirus lasts late into the year.
“The constantly changing landscape with this virus makes planning things in the future too unpredictable,” he said. “We do not know if there will be a second wave in the fall and don’t want to take the chance of endangering people unnecessarily.”
HoCo Pride had originally been scheduled for June 27. In August, organizers will begin planning for next year’s event, Howard said.