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Gayborhood in conflict over extent of Pride block party

June 10, 2013

IMG_4480xA week before Baltimore Gay Pride festivities, the Mt. Vernon community is fractured over the range and tenor of the festivities. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Baltimore (GLBCCB), which runs the festival, decided to end the block party  centering around Charles and Eager streets at 9 p.m. rather than the scheduled 10 p.m. and has also kept the block party from extending all the way down Eager St. to Cathedral.

The whole thing has been playing out in a Facebook flare-up. Don Davis Grand Central’s owner posted on the social media site that he had been told that “a certain Restaurant owner” accused Grand Central and Hippo of serving alcohol to minors and that the “restaurant owner wants the block party shut down.”

The Mt. Vernon-Belvedere association evidently became involved when the City Cafe (at the corner of Eager and Cathedral streets) brought the concerns to them, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page “with a plea that they as the authoritative voice of our community intervene NOT TO STOP or HINDER the PARADE & BLOCK PARTY BUT TO SAVE IT!”

A source at the GLCCB, who said he could not officially speak for the association, insisted that no underage drinkers were served at bars within the footprint of the festival or by the official vendors. Neither Matt Thorn, the executive director of GLCCB, not Jason Curtis, the president of MVBA have returned City Paper‘s phone calls or emails.

Pride is one of Baltimore’s best festivals, hosting up to 30,000 people every year. Might a couple of them piss in alleys? Sure, I live in Mt. Vernon and see people pissing in my alley all the time–especially the straight white frat boys who get loaded at St. Patrick’s Day. I’m also straight, but I love living in the so-called “gayborhood” and I feel more at home at Pride than nearly any other festival (the book festival is… well., I’m a nerdy writer who likes books). And I like to drink on the street. It is the sign of a civilized society.

This is Baltimore goddamnit! Are we really the kind of city that will turn our most gorgeously raucous festival into a Bloomsbergian festival of sobriety, safety, and decorum?

If a local business wants to close at 9 p.m., then it is welcome to do so. But the neighborhood association ought to allow the festival to continue as planned and the GLCCB ought to fight to keep pride fun.

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