Frederick’s first Pride event in 2012 had about 300 attendees.
This year, 8,000 people are expected to attend the eighth annual Frederick Pride, which will be hosted Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Carroll Creek Linear Park.
Kris Fair, chair of The Frederick Center, an organization that aims to advocate for and support the local LGBTQ community, said the organization has and continues to push to build inclusivity.
Fair said he’s seen “the Frederick community as a whole responding, and creating a much more live and vibrant and affirming space for LGBTQ people to feel confident and comfortable and safe.”
One example of the support is that many local businesses have “Frederick Pride Ally” stickers in their windows and are displaying Pride flags, Fair said.
This year’s Pride event has added significance, as it falls on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a movement that began in June 1969 after the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. The demonstrations that followed acted as catalysts for the modern LGBTQ movement.
“We want this event to be about our LGBTQ community and celebrating the cultural history, as well as recognizing the reason why Pride was started in the first place, especially on its 50th year,” Fair said.
The event is chaired by Frederick Center volunteer and LGBTQ community member Nicole Beller, who oversees a committee of 25 other volunteers who helped organize the event.
“I feel very passionately that Pride’s really important,” Beller said.
The event will have a variety of entertainment and is maxed out with more than 140 vendors, Beller said.
The vendors will include both for-profits and nonprofits, social action groups, faith groups and health-based organizations.
Free Mom Hugs-Maryland, a chapter of the national Free Mom Hugs organization, a group dedicated to supporting and advocating for LGBTQ people, will have a table.
Lesa Schepers, the chapter leader of Free Mom Hugs-Maryland, said many volunteers have gay children and have seen that not every LGBTQ child is given love and support.
“By going out and giving these hugs, we have seen it make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “Some of the hugs are very cheerful and happy, and they’re just excited to see you there. And other hugs, the person will collapse and just sob because they haven’t hugged their mom in years or haven’t even spoken to their mom.”
The organization has more than 50 volunteers for the Frederick Pride event, Schepers said.
“It goes beyond moms,” Schepers said. “We have dads. We have siblings and grandparents and allies who all like to get involved in the movement.”
Free Mom Hugs-Maryland will also offer brochures detailing more information about the national organization and the services it offers.
“Sometimes your family isn’t blood,” Schepers said.
The event will also feature a keynote address, live music acts, drag performances, a teen runway competition, an Interfaith Pride Service provided by youth pastor J.J. Warren, face painting and henna.
Ronnie Taylor, a trans activist and Frederick Center vice chair, will deliver the keynote address, which will focus on the past role of trans women of color in the Stonewall movement and how the current movement needs to recenter on the fight for trans equality, Fair wrote in an email.
The drag performances will be headlined by Tatianna of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and will also include local performers such as Stephanie Michaels, Jen Da Fun and KC Florence.
There will also be family-friendly performances by Honeybee Burlesque.
Musical entertainment will include artist Ryan Cassata, singer-songwriter Chris Urquiaga and pop-punk trio Ménage À Garage.
Cassata, a transgender artist and activist, was named one of “11 Transgender & Non-Binary Musicians You Need to Know,” by Billboard in 2017.
Frederick Pride T-shirts, designed by Hannah Gorman, director at Special Tees in Frederick, are available for pre-order on the Frederick Pride website, and live T-shirt screen-printing by Special Tees will take place next to the Pride Shoppe at the event.
Metered parking will be in effect during the event and parking garages are both preferred and the “best bet” for attendees, said Michele Bowman, public information and outreach coordinator for the Frederick Police Department.
No roads will be closed for the event.
Fair said there are layers of security for the event, but that it’s not “heavy-handed” because the focus is on the LGBTQ community and the celebration of their history.
Organizers are bringing their own security staff, in addition to the officers from the downtown police unit who will be on duty.
“It’s a peaceful event, so we’re not expecting any issues or concerns,” Bowman said.
There is no heightened security after the shooting scare at Capital Pride, when a man wielding a BB gun after a reported altercation lead to panic and incorrect claims of shots fired.
Bowman said, however, that the police department is monitoring social media and other online sites.
“We’re well aware of what happened and are keeping our eye on things,” Bowman said.
Bowman added that attendees should alert authorities if they see anything that may be a threat to security.
Fair said he has managed many festivals.
“This one’s the only one that people always come up afterwards and say, ‘Please make sure this never goes away,’” he said.