After four decades in Mount Vernon, Baltimore’s largest LGBTQ Pride event is reducing its presence there and moving to a different part of town.
Instead of being held around the intersection of Charles and Eager streets, the Saturday block party for Baltimore Pride 2017 will be held in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, around the intersection of Charles Street and North Avenue.
Rather than starting at the Washington Monument and ending around Charles and Eager streets, as in years past, this year’s parade will begin at that intersection and head to Station North and the Old Goucher district, culminating in the block party.
The dates for the two-day Baltimore Pride 2017 event are June 17 and 18, but only the locations of the Saturday parade and block party are shifting. The Sunday event will be held in Druid Hill Park as in the past.
The new parade route and block party location outside the traditional Mount Vernon setting represent big changes for the Baltimore Pride Celebration, an annual program of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB). It also potentially benefits Station North by drawing thousands of people to the area.
The GLCCB, founded in 1977, is a community-based nonprofit whose mission is to provide support, education, outreach and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer individuals and their allies.
According to the official event website, the origins of Baltimore Pride date back to 1975. “In the decades since,” the site notes, “Baltimore Pride has grown to become Maryland’s largest LGBTQ visibility event, providing an opportunity for the greater Maryland community to experience and learn more about the LGBTQ community” through a weekend of events and exhibitions. After starting as a “small rally of a dozen activists,” the site says, the two-day event has become a “full fledged festival” that draws more than 30,000 people a year.
The modification to the event reflect several changes in the city itself, including the 2015 closing of the gay-friendly Hippo nightclub at Charles and Eager streets, now a CVS pharmacy, and the move of the GLCCB offices from Mount Vernon to 2530 N. Charles Street in Charles Village. In addition, the gay-friendly Baltimore Eagle reopened in January in the 2000 block of Charles Street, just above North Avenue, after a million-dollar renovation.
In recent years, Baltimore Pride organizers have had difficulty getting permits for Mount Vernon in June and had to shift their dates to July, after most other cities have had their celebrations.
Mimi Demissow, coordinator of the 2017 event, did not respond to a request for information about the changes.
But according to others at the GLCCB, the city has approved permits for the Saturday parade and block party. They say Pride organizers changed locations in part because Station North representatives approached them about moving the Saturday block party and helped them secure the permits.
“Station North came to us and asked us,” one volunteer said.
The block party typically involves temporary street closures. It starts on Saturday afternoon and lasts into the evening. Space is set aside for vendors, a review stand for parade judges and stages for performers.
This year, organizers say, plans for the block party call for Charles Street to be closed from around North Avenue to 22nd Street and for North Avenue to be closed between St. Paul Street and Maryland Avenue. Portions of Charles Street also will be closed for the parade.
The Baltimore Pride website promises that more details about this year’s event will be posted soon. Applications from prospective performers are due April 14.