A diverse crowd of nearly 300 members of the LGBTQ community, allies, and elected officials packed Carroll Baldwin Hall and its outside grounds in Savage, Maryland, on June 28th to officially kick off HoCo Pride.

That launch date was selected to bring attention to Howard County’s first ever LGBTQ Pride celebration scheduled for June 28th 2019, which will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in the West Village of New York City. Stonewall is considered by most historians as a seminal episode in the struggle for LGBT rights.

The kid-friendly event featured food, music, beverages, games, raffle prizes, an outside taco truck, a play area on the grounds, a silent auction, resource table from the GLCCB – the sponsor of Baltimore Pride – and a library for children. Several drag artists including the popular Shawnna Alexander were on hand selling raffles and entertaining the children.

Several Howard County’s elected officials appeared to briefly address to the crowd. County Executive Allan H. Kittleman explained how Howard County government is supporting the LGBTQ community and the planned HoCo Pride event for next year. He also discussed the county executive’s LGBT roundtable, which consists of quarterly meetings focusing on issues important to the LGBTQ community and identifying areas of improvement.

County council chair and Democratic candidate for county executive Dr. Calvin Ball said, “We need to stand up and speak out because if any of us are facing inequality and injustice, it harms all of us.”

Dr. Ball read a proclamation from the County Council that supports the LGBTQ community and the planned HoCo Pride celebration. “The council congratulates the Pride committee for promoting diversity and inclusion and thanks all of the dedicated advocates for their valuable time for making history in Howard County.”

Howard County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano reiterated his commitment to diversity and recounted the recent derogatory graffiti at Glenelg High School and how that is something he will not accept. He also challenged the community to rise above hate and continue to be an example for others.

HoCo Pride will not include a parade but instead there will be a large festival, which will most likely take place on the Columbia lakefront though that hasn’t been finalized. The slogan is “Remember. Resist. Rejoice.”

To continue the planning process, a series of community input meetings have been scheduled. At these gatherings, members will be afforded the opportunity to make suggestions, volunteer, and to discuss what they would like or not like to see at HoCo Pride.

The first meeting is set for July 10th in the Patapsco Room of the Charles E. Miller Branch Library (9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City) from 6 to 7:15 pm.

The second meeting will take place on July 11th in the Glenwood Pindell Room of the Glenwood Branch Library (2350 MD-97, Glenwood) from 6 to 7:15 pm.

The third meeting is scheduled for July 12th in the Warfield Room at the Howard County Central Library (10375 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia) from 6 to 7:15 p.m.

The well-attended kick-off party was a good beginning as the planning process for the festival will now begin in earnest.

“It was a great honor working with so many members of the community to make this event a success,” said Jumel Howard, chair of the HoCo Pride Planning Committee. “The positive reaction from the community is a true sign that we are taking on something that the people are seriously behind. We raised over $2,000 and had nearly 300 people join us and we could not be prouder!”

For more information and to follow developments, like the HoCo Pride Facebook Page at Facebook.com/HoCoPRIDE.

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Steve Charing
Steve Charing
Steve Charing has contributed to Baltimore OUTloud since its inception in 2003 as a reporter, reviewer, columnist and editor. He has written over 1,500 articles for Baltimore OUTloud covering a wide swath of topics and was well known for his OUTspoken column. From 2009-2011 Steve was the paper’s managing editor and from 2014-2015 he was the local news editor. While performing those duties, he had also served as the Baltimore news correspondent for the Washington Blade. He also writes for his blog, Steve Charing OUTspoken.Steve began his LGBT journalism career in 1980 making him the most senior writer in Baltimore's LGBT press. He became the chair of the Gay Paper newspaper committee and thus its editor in 1983 whereby he changed the name to Baltimore Gay Paper. He served in that capacity until mid-1984 but continued to write for the publication through the years.
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