Gay, lesbian event is haven and pride-filled celebration

Rainbows and triangles decorate annual festival for benefit of center

June 13, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Thousands of people gathered in Druid Hill Park yesterday to paint the park with rainbows, triangles and a sense of pride.

The Baltimore Pride festival brought community health and legal services, clubs, and activist groups together with area gays, lesbians, transsexuals, their friends and families.

The event, sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore, drew an estimated 20,000 people last year and organizers expected a larger turnout yesterday.

The festival, in its 19th year, is designed to provide a haven for gay celebration. Homosexuals are often hassled or attacked because of their sexuality, said Cathy Brennan, a board member of the center.

"I moved to Baltimore in 1995. I've been assaulted once and harassed more times than I can count on both hands," Brennan said. "Not a lot of straight people are going to come here today. The people here are gay or gay-affirming. They're not going to bash."

Under overcast skies that did not produce rain, people reclined on blankets or sat in lawn chairs as local musicians on two stages belted out tunes.

Dozens crowded in an area near beer vendors to dance to earth-shaking music from 4-foot-tall speakers.

In a quieter area of the park, children sat cross-legged for a show with Muppet-like characters put on by Metropolitan Community Church of Baltimore.

Other children enjoyed a romp in the moon bounce or a whirl on swings, and some put together paper butterflies and bookmarks at the crafts table.

Along the narrow, gravel walkway crowded with onlookers, vendors hawked T-shirts, art and jewelry -- Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubby, was a popular item -- and served up dishes as varied as Asian noodles and funnel cakes.

Many of the goods were rainbow-striped or decorated with triangles -- symbols of the gay community.

Many couples welcomed the chance to stroll through the park openly embracing or holding hands.

"A lot of people still hide [their homosexuality], but when you come here, you can be yourself, and you're accepted for who you are," said Lee Marble of Overlea.

Bob Kirk, of Baltimore, agreed. "I just like being in a group of people where homosexuality is the norm."

The festival is the largest fund-raiser for the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore. Last year, the event raised nearly $18,000 for the center, which provides support groups for gays and lesbians, single fathers, and youth. The center also sponsors programs to educate the public about homosexuality.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.