Dating back to 1975, Baltimore’s pride celebration has evolved from a series of small rallies to a full weekend of events that attracts more than 30,000 revelers each year. Here’s a look at what’s planned for 2017 and ways to enjoy pride in Baltimore any time of the year:
Baltimore Pride, which takes place on June 17-18, kicks off with a block party that includes a staple event — a High Heel Race. Following the race, the annual parade and block party will be held, with local organizations and vendors coming together to celebrate with the community and headliner, bounce music diva Big Freedia. The next day will feature an all-day festival showcasing local artists and entertainers.
Outsider Art, Traditional Museums
You can experience art in Baltimore, as soon as you exit Penn Station, the site of a 52-foot-tall permanent installation by Jonathan Borofsky called “Male/Female” that depicts intersecting silhouettes of a man and woman. You can delve into outsider art at the quirky American Visionary Art Museum, where none of the featured artists has trained formally, or explore more traditional works at Baltimore’s two main museums, both with free admission. The Walters Art Museum boasts collections that span 50 centuries, while the Baltimore Museum of Art, which recently completed a major renovation for its 100th anniversary, offers extensive holdings by pop artist Andy Warhol.
The John Waters Connection
For many, Baltimore and filmmaker/writer/native son John Waters are synonymous. The director of cult classics like “Pink Flamingos” and the original “Hairspray” set his movies in the blue-collar Hampden neighborhood. Known as a place where everybody calls each other, “hon,” Hampden has evolved into a hipster enclave over the years. The centerpiece of Hampden is 36th Street, where you will find eateries and shops like Café Hon (look for the massive pink flamingo) and Atomic Books, a bookstore and bar that receives all of Waters’ fan mail.
Neighborhoods to Explore
Beyond Hampden, you will want to check out the Station North Arts and Entertainment Disrict, which is known for its galleries and live-work spaces for artists, and downtown’s Bromo District, which boasts more than 30 galleries, music venues and theaters. Mount Vernon, one of the city’s most LGBT-friendly neighborhoods, is home to avant-garde and contemporary theater companies, including Iron Crow , which calls itself Baltimore’s “only queer” theater.
Loving the Nightlife
The heart of LGBT nightlife is in Mount Vernon, site of Grand Central, a multi-level spot with a rooftop bar; Leon’s, one of the country’s oldest continuously operating LGBT bars; the nearby Steampunk Alley, which serves food; and The Drinkery, a cozy spot for a nightcap.