Not that long ago, Jeremy Browning and other members of the Annapolis LGBTQ+ community had to travel to D.C. or Baltimore to celebrate Pride each June, the month nationally designated for celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. In the winter months of early 2018, a few friends sought to remedy that absence. With the start of a Facebook page, design of a logo, and an official proclamation by Mayor Gavin Buckley, June 2018 became Annapolis’ first official Pride Month. The organization gained visibility through branded t-shirts and events such as Drag Brunch and the Color Run, but it wasn’t until the Spring of 2019 when a simple rainbow business card with a date and “Inaugural Annapolis Pride Parade” began circulating through town that Annapolis Pride really took off.
Annapolis Pride and it’s Roots:
The scenes from the first 2019 Pride Parade were unforgettable. Over 6,000(!) attendees packed West Street and proved that this local movement was long overdue for Naptown. Jeremy Browning, Board Chair and founding member of Annapolis Pride, described the start of the organization as a small, grass-roots initiative that was met with eager support. Businesses, organizations, individuals, and moms who love to hug helped champion the movement throughout the month of June leading up to the parade; skyrocketing the organization’s profile to vibrantly-colored, front-page news.
All of this well-deserved visibility served to promote Annapolis Pride’s number one mission: to engage the community in order to provide a safe, inclusive space for all. Although this year’s Pride will look and feel different, that mission has not wavered.
History of Pride Month:
As history would have it, Pride is rooted in resistance. The first Pride parades were held in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to commemorate the one year anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn, a LGBTQ+ bar in Greenwich Village that was targeted and raided by police on June 28, 1969. The response to the harassment was one of unification and “pride,” and the event became a historic catalyst for cultural shifts in civil rights and treatment of the gay community.
There is still much work to be done, which is why Annapolis Pride is utilizing their online platform to share resources for anti-racism and advocacy for equality in unison with the Black Lives Matter movement. Pride 2020’s main event Pride Inside & Out live streams on June 27th at 4pm, and aims to empower community voices through a panel discussion, addressing racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of hate. They are encouraging supporters to donate to local organizations such as Baltimore Safe Haven, a non-profit that helps vulnerable populations, particularly trans women of color who are often targets of violence.
Virtual Pride Celebrations:
Virtual Pride-goers can learn more about the history of the LGBTQ+ community on June 25 by joining Pride and Centuries of Prejudice, an online seminar co-hosted by the Anne Arundel Public Library. Researchers will share stories of queer people from the Chesapeake region of Maryland and Virginia throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
Pride has not lost its dance-in-the-street, celebratory touch though. On June 24, you can dress in your most spectacular rainbow-wear and belt your lungs out to the Singing OUT: Virtual Pride Tour with Heather Mae and Crys Matthews. Known as “the queer Adele” and the “Woody Guthrie of our generation”, these two are sure to make you feel loud and proud! While Annapolis Pride is virtually hosting these main events and online resource centers, they are a beacon of information for related events, such as support groups for LGBTQ+ youth, spiritual services, workshops, and more, all listed on their Facebook events page.
If there is one thing I’ve witnessed from Annapolis Pride’s short but powerful time in the spotlight, it is that love is louder, stronger, way more fun, and far easier to embrace than any of the negatives we seek to dismantle. In creating a safe space for all, Pride has made Annapolis the perfect backdrop for a rainbow.
Visit this link for more information on Virtual Pride 2020.