Planning an event is never easy. There are often many details that need to be addressed, as well as the individual needs and preferences of each guest. After all, you want everyone to have a good time. There are dietary restrictions that need to be considered, as well as dress code, parking, and transportation. Sometimes there’s even a theme that’s meant to tie all these elements together. And, during the planning of the event, there’s often an underlying fear that it won’t be fun, or worse, that nobody will show up.
These were some of the concerns we at Hagerstown Hopes have been quietly dealing with for the past few months. Since branching into outreach, we’ve been working to provide safe, affirming spaces and activities for young people in our community. In planning our recent first annual prom, themed “True Colors,” we also had to take into consideration the many legal necessities required for working with minors, which essentially doubles (or maybe triples) the work.
That’s why we’re happy to announce that our first LGBTQIA Prom was a huge success! Over 70 young people from three states signed up to attend a free prom for LGBTQIA youth and their allies at the Ramada Plaza on April 20th. Refreshments were provided by Benny’s Pub and Mary and Jodi Plitman, who baked dozens of beautiful and delicious cupcakes in every color imaginable. DJ Sidekick (aka board member Tim Luipersbeck) provided music while Pennsylvania-based photographer Mrphab Photos snapped pictures of the party between traditional prom photo shoots of friends and couples.
We were also fortunate to be graced with royalty! Newly crowned Miss Gay Maryland America and Queen of Hagerstown Pride, Chasity Vain, joined King of Hagerstown Pride, Butch Kelley, to kick off what was for many young people their first live drag show. Siren Kelley performed a spot-on rendition of Britney Spears classics before introducing two aspiring teenage drag queens: Sage and Amara. The new girls impressed their peers with skills greater than their young age would imply. Chasity gave them the full treatment, helping them get ready for their performances and then fully initiating them into drag society by challenging them to a quick change and impromptu group performance. All three slayed, and we thank Chasity for taking Amara and Sage under her wing and supporting them. We all look forward to seeing what they’ll accomplish next!
Just because prom is over doesn’t mean we’ll be taking a break. We have our first Pride Night Out at Municipal Stadium coming up on May 9th. Minor league baseball team the Hagerstown Suns reached out to us and asked if we’d like to partner on a Pride event, an especially meaningful gesture because they want the community to know that they’re welcoming of everyone and all families. Pride Night Out doubles as a fundraiser, but only if you buy your ticket ($9) from a Hagerstown Hopes member! This is a Thirsty Thursday game, meaning beer specials all night long (21-plus with ID, please). Feel free to reach out to us through Facebook or HagerstownHopesMD.org to get your tickets.
We’re also gearing up for Washington County Gives, a day-long fundraiser for nonprofits in Washington County, on May 7th. Online donations are accepted throughout the day and each organization is eligible for additional cash prizes. We’re still working out some details, but you can expect to find auctions and other interactive fundraising efforts all day long. Stay up to date on our progress and plans by following us on Facebook. If you haven’t already, please visit HagerstownHopesMD.org and sign up for our monthly newsletter. Our goal is to serve the community and we can only do that if we know what the community wants. The newsletter will keep you informed of what we’re up to and opportunities to get involved. We hope to see you soon!
- Brian George Hose has been an advocate for LGBTQ persons and issues all his adult life. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Shepherd University and looks forward to pursuing a Master's of Social Work with a focus in mental health. A former musician, Brian served as minister of music for New Light MCC for several years and incorporates music into social work practice. He lives in rural Western Maryland where he has amassed a sinful number of books, yarn, and books about yarn. He has been writing for Baltimore Out Loud since February 2016.